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This is the archive for December 2006

Sunday, December 31, 2006

We start the last day of the year with the second place entry in Our First Annual win your own Civil War Christmas present contest Lee Ann Newton's To Honor and Serve, Theobold Schantz .

Lee Ann is the winner of a limited edition 18th Massachusetts Coffee Mug (which all winners receive) and a copy of Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney - Slavery, Secession and the President’s War Powers by James F. Simon which was provided by Simon & Schuster .

Lee Ann really impressed us with her “from the heart” writing and truly deserves the second place.

The following story is based on the life of my great-great grandfather Theobold Schantz – immigrant, Civil War soldier, husband and father. As always, I strive to bring these forgotten heroes to life. I hope I have succeeded and while the tale might be considered tragic. I like to focus on the fact that he knew true love – no matter how brief.

Theobold Schantz – Co D, 123rd Indiana Infantry

Sixteen year old, Theobold Schantz waited anxiously to board the ship that would take him and his family away from Germany and the struggle for Unification. His parents were against the cause and decided to leave their home in Bavaria, to save their sons from certain enlistment into the German Army.

These things were far from Theobold’s mind as he watched a beautiful young girl, laughing with her sisters, her blue eyes dancing. His heart fluttered. Painfully shy, he began to practice words in his head that he would use to introduce himself once they set sail. The girl caught him staring and he quickly looked down and began fumbling with his bag. When he dared to glance back, she was still looking at him and with laughing eyes and a smile on her lips, she waved just a bit.

Her name was Theresia Hirt, a vivacious, witty girl on the threshold of womanhood. It would not be many days into the long voyage, before their friendship would take hold and love begin to blossom. Fortunately for them, their families would both settle in Dearborn County, Indiana.

Theobold worked hard in his new country – his eyes ever on the prize of making Theresia his wife. Their dream became a reality on November 19th, 1861 as they were united in Holy Matrimony; with assured confidence they walked arm in arm down the aisle and out of the church to the joyful greetings of family and friends.

With their new country on the threshold of civil war, their actuality would become but a shadow of their sunny dreams.

Theresia gave birth to their first child, Theobold Jr. on September 21, 1862. He would live but two hours. Despite this great sorrow, Theresia gave birth on October 6, 1863 to a healthy baby girl. Yet again, their newfound joy would last only hours. Theresia died suddenly and without warning later that evening.

Two days later, on October 8th, their baby was christened, Elizabeth Theresia just before her mother was laid to rest beneath a gray October sky.

Theobold held his precious bundle and watched the brown leaves blow across the cemetery; worthless and dead as his dreams. He stood strong and stoic with silent tears coursing down his young, handsome face. Lifting the edge of the blanket, he peered at their sleeping child, committed her angel face to memory, and kissed the top of her soft velvet head. He turned to Theresia’s grief-stricken mother and placed the baby in her arms. There were no words he could say, he touched her shoulder, turned and walked away, leaving his shattered dreams to scatter upon the wind.

The next morning, he left before dawn and by days end he was a soldier in Company D of the 123rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He prayed a bullet would find him on the first battlefield and take him home to Theresia’s waiting arms.

Theobold served faithfully under General Sherman, before and after the infamous March to the Sea. Death would not find him on the battlefield. Yet he bore witness to the death of thousands. Finding himself spared their fate – the fate he desired, he began to think. Perhaps there was a reason that he had been spared. Slowly but surely his heart began to open and he began to anticipate seeing his baby girl again; no longer an infant but a rambunctious toddler, alive with her mother’s spirit and charm.

Being the industrious German, Theobold saved nearly all the wages he received in the military and upon his return to Morris, he bought a piece of land and began to build a home for Elizabeth.

A few months later he met a young widow, Eva. Her husband had been killed at the battle of Franklin and their only child had died during his absence. She immediately fell in love with Elizabeth and before long, she and Theobold were mending one another’s fractured souls. They married on February 13, 1866.

It would be nearly three years before Eva would conceive and give birth to my great-grandmother, Catherine on April 30, 1869. Theobold and Eva would have nine magnificent years together.

The war had left my great-great grandfather, Theobold nearly deaf and while hunting along the train tracks that ran behind their home on March 16th, 1874 he was struck by a train and killed. He was thirty-four.

Eva never remarried and followed Theobold to heaven a short 4 years and 8months later. She died on November 16th, 1878. She was thirty-four.

Five year old Catherine went to live with Eva’s mother and fourteen year old, Elizabeth having had all the heart ache a young heart can stand – threw herself into the work of the Lord and became a novitiate at Oldenburg, Indiana with the Sisters of St. Frances and lived to age 73.

I try my best to honor their memories – by sharing their story and the story’s of so many others.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Today, we continue with James' third place winning entry, Operations to Control Missouri (1861) in Our First Annual win your own Civil War Christmas present contest.

You can read the first part here.

James tells us that he has another article ready to post that is a sequel to Operations to Control Missouri (1861) that takes the reader from Wilson's Creek to Pea Ridge and has offered to "guest post" it on the blog. We hope to be able to have it up in early January.

Operations to Control Missouri (1861) - Part Two
By James W. Durney

On August 1st, the Western Army goes into camp at Crane Creek, scouts return with the news that the Union Army is only seven miles away. Lyon faced with the same supply problems and having the same advance or retreat option decided on advancing too. This is an interesting decision with a commanded of about 5,800 men, he understands they faced five times that number.

On August 2nd a minor skirmish at Dug Springs occurs between six companies of Rains’s Missourians and John Steele’s Iowans. The Iowans take the brunt of the causalities but Rains’ command breaks and flees the field. “Rains’s Scare”, as the incident is named, has a major impact on the relationship between the Missouri State Guard and the balance of the Western Army. The worth of the Missourians is brought into question as several newspapers published letters stating they are “dastardly Cowards” that “ran like scared dogs”. McCulloch had expressed doubts about Price, now questions the reliability of the whole State Guard. Hearing the news, he flies into a rage and according to a witness exhausted “his whole vocabulary … in denunciation of the Missourians”. McCulloch is known to have a large and varied vocabulary in this area. Even worse, McCulloch’s second in command may have said that he expected this to happen and refused to help Rains. The Western Army was falling into hostile camps, viewing each other as cowards and/or untrustworthy comrades.

After two days of skirmishes and sightings, Lyon orders his command to back to Springfield, occupying the camps they had left five days ago. In Springfield, on August fifth, Lyon is told that General Fremont is not going to send reinforcements. Gripped by indecision, Lyon is unwilling to retreat, badly out numbered and facing severe supply problems. The step from captain to general has not been an easy one for Lyon. He is consistently misusing his mounted troops and failed to maintain contact with the enemy. His troop dispositions reflected his inexperience and bordered on outright ineptitude. Meanwhile, the Northern press, hungry for good news, is in the process of making him a hero reporting how he is beating McCulloch.

In the Western Army, things are not going well either; the rift between Ben McCulloch and Sterling Price is widening. While McCulloch is in charge, Price sometimes acts as if he isn’t. Rumors sweep the camps that McCulloch is considering a retreat to Fort Smith and the problems caused by Rains’s Scare have not abated. On August fourth, a confrontation occurs between Price and McCulloch. Afterwards, Price issues an order to the Missouri State Guard placing it under McCulloch’s command and McCulloch agrees that the Western Army will advance north.

Between the fifth and seventh of August both sides chase each other up and down the Wire Road. Lyon saw to the destruction of most of the forage along the road and McCulloch had left his supply wagons behind expecting to do battle. This causes additional supply problems as his command of 12,000 men and 4,000 horses required about seventy tons of supplies and forage each day.

South of Springfield Wilson Creek runs north to south through a small valley, on the main Wire Road. Named after James Wilson, an early settler in the area and is not called Wilson’s Creek. A man can cross the creek at almost any point but the steep banks restrict wheeled vehicles to specific fords. The terrain on either side of the creek alternates between high hills, ridges, plateaus and fields. Hardwood trees, thick underbrush and fields of prairie grass are cut by narrow dirt roads, trails and footpaths which link the farms and access the Wire and Little York roads. The ten farms in the valley grew corn, oats, wheat and potatoes. In addition to producing butter, honey, molasses and hay, the records show 248 hogs, 97 head of cattle, 160 sheep, 35 milk cows and other livestock. Most of the residents are from the South and some are slave owners.

Lyon’s men passed through the valley many times on the Wire Road going to and from Springfield. Now the Confederate Western Army, tired from the hot days of pursuit, short on supplies, looking for a good place to camp that entered the valley. For the next couple of days, 12,000 men of this army marched into camp in the creek valley. The tents are in neat rows but the units are mixed, with commands placed for convenience or by happenstance rather than by military organization. McCulloch made his headquarters at the base of the valley with about half his command to the east of the creek. The balance of his command spread back from a high plateau to the northwest down to the valley floor, over the creek and down the Wire Road to the south.

Lyon is isolated in Springfield, alone, outnumbered his confidence failing. Instead of making decisions, he consults. Worst of all, the last person’ view is often his decision. Fremont has lost interest in Lyon’s operation. Faced with Pillow’s Confederate “Army of Liberation” at New Madrid and a possible advance by Hardee against Cairo, Southwestern Missouri had very little strategic importance. Lyon sets about trying to defending Springfield. Camp Hunter, about four miles south of the town on the Wire Road, is placed under the command of Major Samuel Sturgis with about a third of the men. Pickets are set up as far as five miles out of town in all directions. People are allowed to freely enter but can require permission to leave the area. This simple regulation deprives McCulloch of information, freezing him at Wilson Creek.

On August sixth a much needed supply train reaches Springfield, full rations, new clothing and shoes improved the moral of the men. With the pickets posts are subject to constant alarms, small skirmishes and several operations the men spend most of the time under arms or being called to arms. The question is to retreat without giving battle risking a running fight back to the railhead or attack and try to hurt the enemy so badly that pursuit is impossible. The question is no longer about retreating but how to best do it. After an officer’s meeting and a second private meeting with Sigel, Lyon orders an attack for August tenth.

The original plan was for the army to attack south, down the Wire Road, do as much damage as possible and fall back to Springfield. The revised battle plan is for Sigel to lead a mixed column of about 1,200 to a position south of the enemy camp and attack north, up the Wire Road. The balance of the army will leave the Wire Road, circle southwest attacking from the northwest. The circling march and attacking from the northwest was accepted. All feel that this will increase the chance of surprise. Dividing the army to launch two attacks is objected to by almost every officer present. Lyon overrides all objections and orders acceptance of the Sigel plan. The reason for this is unknown, however Lyon reputedly said; “Fremont won’t sustain me. Sigel has a great reputation and if I fail against his advice it will give Sigel command and ruin me. Than again, unless he can have his way, I fear he will not carry out my plans.” This statement was written after the war by an author known to not like German-Americans.

About 1:00 AM the main Union force halts less than two miles from the Southern camp. In the distance they see the glow of the Confederate campfires and hear the occasional bray of a mule. Southern outposts have been withdrawn in anticipation of attacking Springfield. When the attacked was canceled no one thought about reposting. Sigel receives word about 5:00 AM that Lyon will attack at 6:30. Sigel, despite darkness and unfamiliar terrain is in position to strike the unprotected rear of the Confederates. The Union forces are badly outnumbered and have no means of communicating or supporting each other. The plan will result in two separate and different battles at Wilson Creek.

The first warning of the attack is from some teamsters on an early morning foraging expedition. After sighting Lyon’s force, they raced back to camp sounding the alarm. “Lyon with twenty thousand men and a hundred pieces of artillery is within a mile of this camp!” is the initial report. McCulloch, had enough of the panicky Missourians expects another “Rains Scare” was in the offering. Looking north, he sees a mob of men on horseback and in wagons running down the valley toward his headquarters. Artillery fire from the northwest, followed by the sound of rifle fire, shortly answered by Sigel to the south convinces him an attack is underway. Surprise is complete; his army is dumfounded – confused and trying to be brave at the start of their first major battle. The neatly uniformed and well drilled Third Louisiana quickly gets into formation. The Texans, proudly distinguished by a white muslin sash tied on their left arm are soon in formation too. Pearce’s Arkansans half drilled and only partly equipped struggled trying get organized. Prices’ Missourians, held in contempt by the rest of the army, hardly able to hold formation, clad in cotton shirts and yellow “jean pantaloons” draw on an inner reserve and get ready to fight. These Missourians are veterans of the “Troubles in Kansas” and like the Kansas regiments with Lyons they too have scores to settle. Both the men from Missouri and Kansas can be counted on to fight and fight hard.

The Missouri State Guard can not stop Lyon’s attack over the large hill to the northwest of the camp. Their slowing the attack buys the time McCulloch needed to respond. Taking the Third Louisiana and his Texans McCulloch goes after Sigel’s attack, leaving the Missouri State Guard to fend for itself at this stage of the battle. Sigel’s first attack is against Churchill’s Mounted Rifles. Completely surprised, they break and flee the field. Flush with easy victory some of the Germans rushed to loot the camp, oblivious to the continuing battle. Churchill rallied his men, returns to the camp and kills or captures most of the looters. Sigel with the majority of his command continues to the south almost three quarters of the way around the enemy camp.

This was McCulloch’s element a straight forward standup fight, grabbing every man in sight he takes them straight at Sigel. Seeing the neat gray lines of the Third Louisiana advancing with all flags flying, Sigel mistakes them for the First Iowa and orders his men to hold their fire. The Third Louisiana shot the Germans to bits, the mounted Texans swarmed around their flanks. The Germans break, flags, artillery, rifles; equipment is abandoned in a panicked race for safety. Sigel manages to escape to Springfield with one orderly but the Third & Fifth Missouri Infantry are destroyed as effective fighting units.

Wile McCulloch is attending to Sigel, Lyon and Price fight a vicious seesaw battle of charge and counter charge. Price is able to feed arriving units into the battle line maintaining pressure on and slowing the Federals. Lyon is having command and control problems which result in the First Kansas and First Missouri fighting as separate units. The First Iowa with Totten’s Battery anchor the left of his line. Building on this anchor, Lyon forms a line of battle on the crest the large hill in the northwest part of the valley, christened “Bloody Hill” by the men who fight on it. “Bloody Hill” is not a good position; from the crest you can not see the base. Blind spots allow the Missouri State Guard to move with out being exposed to enemy fire giving the Federals less reaction time. In establishing the line, Lyon is wounded and his horse killed. Major Sturgis gives up his horse allowing Lyon to remain mounted. Lyon is killed leading the Second Kansas in a counterattack to reestablish a portion of the line. A lull follows the defeat of this attack. Major Sturgis, now in command, assessed the situation. The men have not eaten in fifteen hours; canteens are dry, ammunition low and he thinks his command is outnumbered four to one. Dud artillery shells indicated Sigel has been defeated and he is alone on the field.

Using the same lull and taking advantage of some blind spots, Price is putting together a major attack on Bloody Hill. In addition to his State Guards, Pearce contributes the Third and Fifth Arkansas. At about 10:30, on a thousand yard front, three thousand men launch the most determined attack of the battle. They came closest on the Federal left where a combination of rifle and canister finally stopped the attack, some of the attackers getting within twenty feet of the Federal line. The attack on the right is quickly slammed to the ground by concentrated cannon fire. Sturgis knows the battle is over and begins the process of withdrawing his men. Only once is the withdrawal challenged and a single volley sends the Southerners reeling down the hill. The Federals withdraw in good order taking off most of their wounded. No pursuit is attempted. Later, Pearce recalled “we watched the retreating enemy through our field-glasses and are glad to see him go.”

McCulloch’s Western Army had suffered about a twelve percent casualty rate, with 277 dead and 945 wounded. Only three battles in the War with Mexico had a higher casualty rate. Lyon’s Army of the West had suffered about a twenty five percent casualty rate, with 285 killed, 873 wounded and 186 missing. They had suffered more casualties, both in number and as a percent of force, than any battle in the War with Mexico. Over the course of the war only six Union regiments would have more killed in a single battle than the First Kansas at Wilson’s Creek.

Sturgis returned command to Sigel on reaching Springfield. With about $250,000 in gold, from the state bank, over 400 wagons with every man who could move or be moved started north to the rail head. In the armies wake follow many of the area’s loyal Union families. The last few weeks has been a disaster for the Union in southwest Missouri; defeats at Carthage and Wilson’s creek, Lyon’s death and Freemont’s indifference result in abandoning this part of the state.

Governor Jackson sets up a new that will take Missouri out of the Union into the Confederacy. General Price starts planning to follow the Federals and if possible retake the state. Ben McCulloch is not interested in any more operations in Missouri, his Confederated Brigade and Pearce’s Arkansas State Troops returned to Arkansas. Sterling Price is left with a badly hurt Missouri State Guard; many without weapons and all very short of supplies. The Federal forces hold the Missouri River splitting the state. Union men with arms from the St. Louis Arsenal are active in nearly every county. Price works day and night to bring some form and organization to the Missouri State Guards.

In a few weeks; Price with 4,500 mounted men and seven guns moved north toward Lexington. On the second, he encountered a force from Kansas described as everything from Jayhawkers to the Kansas Cavalry Brigade numbering from six hundred to two thousand. While the name and the numbers are in question, all agree that at Dry Wood Creek; Price won a victory capturing many of their mules. The Blair’s are very unhappy with the way the campaign is going. This new victory puts more pressure on Freemont’s policy of ignoring the west and concentrating on saving the river valleys, St. Louis and Cairo. While correct in a grand strategic sense this is causing problems with the locals. The locals are causing problems in Washington. Within a couple of months; Freemont’s actions, the defeat at Wilson’s Creek and these complaints will combine to remove him as Department Commander.

After the victory at Dry Creek, the State Guard pushed on to Lexington. On the twelfth of September, they drive the garrison back into cities’ defenses; which are well designed and fully manned by a force of about 3,500. Until the twentieth both sides fight at close quarters, with the Anderson house changing hands several times. This house is used as an observation and sniper post by which ever side holds it. Eight days of hard fighting has produce nothing but causalities, as neither side has been able to can gain the upper hand. According local lore, General Thomas Harris thinks of using soaked cotton bales as a movable breastwork. The cotton bales rolled forward, providing cover for rifle men. Once they gain the upper hand the bales are rolled forward again. The defenders of Lexington are unable to counter this tactic. 3,500 soldiers, over 120 commissioned officers, five field pieces, two mortars, rifles, equipment, supplies, almost a million dollars in state funds and the great seal of the State of Missouri are surrendered to Price’s army. The Battle of the Hemp Bales, as this came to be called, bolsters southern sentiment and secured control of western Missouri. All the prisoners are paroled, except for Colonel James Mulligan, the garrison commander. Colonel Mulligan refuses parole on the grounds that the United States does not recognize Missouri as being at war. He and his wife became guests of General Price and are treated with great courtesy.

Taking Lexington and holding Lexington is not the same thing! Price’s victorious army is gaining recruits but has no weapons for them. Two battles have used most of his ammunition and McCulloch has stopped supply trains from being sent north. He fears the slow moving train will fall into Federal hands. The withdrawal of Confederate forces, under Hardee and Pillow, from the southeast portion of the state forces Price to abandon Lexington and move quickly back to the southeast part of the state. On September 27th, all unarmed men are dismissed from the Missouri State Guard, told to go home until a “more suspicious time”. Lexington returns to Union control, once again cutting off secessionist in the north from their government in the southwest. Using his mounted men, Price manages to freeze Fremont, Sturgis and Lane in place while he retreated. This may have been his best moment. From the Battle of Wilson’s Creek thru the retreat; Price had won several battles and conducted a successful siege. He is defeated not by any Union force in the field but by supply problems and a lack of support from the Confederate army in the area.

On October 21st, Brigadier General M. Jeff Thompson with a command of about 3,000 Missouri State Guard is defeated at Fredericktown, in the eastern part of the state. Thompson had managed to keep a considerable Federal force busy during this campaign with a combination of maneuvers and luck. This time, unable to determine the size of the force against him he unwisely attacked a superior force which defeats him. Casualties for this battle are about 60 Federals and from 30 to over 200 for the Guard. This battle secures Federal control of southeastern Missouri and confined the secessionist to the southwest portion of the state.

On October 25th, Springfield was once again in Union hands. Elements of Fremont’s army route a Missouri State Guard unit and reoccupied the town. Later that night, after deciding the position is to advance they retreated. A few days later, Fremont’s army returns and reoccupies the town. After Fremont is replaced, Major General Hunter orders an evacuation of Springfield and the town stays under Confederate control for the rest of 1861. The evacuation brings to an end the campaign that would be named Operations to Control Missouri (1861).

This small campaign on the western frontier made a lasting impact on the wider war and American history; consider some of the people involved;

Franz Sigel, commander at Carthage and Wilson’s Creek, becomes the best known German-American of his time and recruited thousands of his countrymen to fight for the Union. He becomes a major general and contributes to the Union Victory at Pea Ridge in 1862. After being transfer east he is never able to duplicate this success. In 1864, his defeated at New Market ends his active duty. Resigned his commission in 1865, he retires to the Bronx where for nearly 40 years he the head of the German-American community.

Samuel Sturgis, who took command on the death of General Lyon, is best remembered as the general defeated by Nathan Bedford Forrest at the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads.

James Butler Hickok, a Union scout got over being terrified at Wilson’s Creek, stayed in the west becoming known as Wild Bill Hickok. He was killed in 1876 while playing cards, holding what became the “dead man’s hand”.

John Schofield’s first battle was Wilson’s Creek; he stayed in the U.S. Army becoming General in Chief before retiring. Schofield Barracks in Hawaii is named after him.

Ben McCulloch, commander of the Confederate Army of the West, would be killed in a few months leading a charge at the Battle of Pea Ridge.

Nicholas Pearce, who led Arkansas’ troops, spent the balance of the war in non combat commands as a major in the Confederate Army.

Sterling Price became a Major General in the Confederate Army and was on active service through out the war. “Old Pap”, as he was known to his men, always did his best. He was disliked by Jeff Davis, distrusted by Braxton Bragg and “placed” under command of Earl Van Dorn. Price lead troops in most of the battles in the west and died in St. Louis in 1867.

Louis Hebert, commander of the Third Louisiana, became a Brigade General. He was captured and exchanged twice, once at Pea Ridge and again at Vicksburg. After the war, he taught and edited a newspaper living in Louisiana until 1901.

John Marmaduke, the Missouri State Guard commander at Boonville, was commended for his actions at both Shiloh and Prairie Grove. He fought a duel with fellow CSA General L. M. Walker in which Walker was killed. General Marmaduke was the last person appointed a major general by the Confederate States of America on March 18, 1865. He was unable to enjoy his appointment having been captured in 1864 and was held at Fort Warren. He returned to Missouri after the war was elected governor in 1884 and died in office in 1887.

William Quantrill and his gang of border ruffians fought with the Missouri State Guard. They were an independent company by the battle of Prairie Grove. In 1863 this group burned Lawrence, Kansas in one of the worst incidents of the war.

Frank James, found the battle of Wilson’s Creek to be”slow”. He and good friend “Cole” Younger served with the Missouri State Guards through out the campaign. Later, Frank’s younger brother Jessie joined them and all three fought at Prairie Grove. After the war they became part America’s folk lore, Jessie would be killed but Frank James and Cole Younger after many adventures died old men at home.

The Missouri State Guard ceases to exist when the units are inducted into Confederate service becoming the Missouri Brigade. Most of the men spent the much of the war east of the Mississippi far from Missouri.

Except for the Battle of Wilson’s Creek being remembered as the second battle of the war, these seven months of marching and fighting have been relegated to footnotes, specialty publications and local observances. The numbers involved are small, the area remote and the impact was lost as the war progressed. This campaign secured Missouri for the Union and with it, the gateway to the west. The war in western Missouri, northern Arkansas and eastern Kansas is far from over. Four more years of battles, raids and campaigns lay ahead. For many of the men involved in this campaign, the American Civil War is a continuation of the “troubles” in Kansas. These “troubles” would be continued by the James and Younger Gang after the war ended.

Friday, December 29, 2006

James returns today with his second posting, which is our third, tied for third place entry in Our First Annual win your own Civil War Christmas present contest.

We were really impressed with this entry and it came really close to taking second place among the entries. It is a long entry – longer than most of our postings in a week, but well worth the time to read. Because of this, we are going to split the entry into two posts.

Tune in tomorrow for the part two.

Operations to Control Missouri (1861)
By James W. Durney

The Border States of Missouri, Kentucky and Maryland are the center of attention during the early days of the war. Both sides work to keep these states in the Union or to bring them into the Confederacy. Each state presents different problems that required different approaches; the loss of any of these states would have altered the course of the war. For the Union the loss of Missouri flanks Illinois; renders Cairo untenable and closes the door to the far west.

Under the provisions of the Missouri Comprise of 1820, Missouri was to be the most northern of the slave states being admitted with Maine, as the Free State. What is “Bloody Kansas” to the nation is “the Troubles” in Missouri. The Troubles call out the Missouri Volunteer Militia in response to raids and rumors. Often they only patrolled but occasionally they chased raiders. These actions usually produced no results, but do build a militia that is more use to campaign conditions, with more experience than the social groups found in most states.

Missouri has divided loyalties. The southern and western parts of the state contained the majority of slave owners and Confederate sympathizers. Governor Claiborne Jackson replies to Lincoln’s call for volunteers, by saying that Missouri will not furnish a single man “to subjugate her sister states of the South”. He issues an appealed to Missourians to “rise then, and drive out the invaders who have dared desecrate the soil which your labors have made fruitful”. Brigadier General Ben McCulloch commands the CSA army built from units raised in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. Governor Jackson counts on the pro secessionist Missouri Volunteer Militia, under command of Major General Sterling Price, to hold the state until McCulloch arrives.

Opposition to Jackson’s plan comes from the influential Blair family. Francis P. Blair Sr. is a founding member of the Republican Party. One of his son’s, Montgomery, is Postmaster General in Lincoln’s administration, while another son, Francis Jr., provides local political support. The counter to the Missouri Volunteer Militia is the state’s large German immigrant community. The failed German Democratic Revolution of 1848 resulted in an influx of German immigrants to the United States. By 1860; half the population of St. Louis is foreign-born. Many of these Germans immigrants are members of the Turner Society, which supported physical and intellectual pursuits. Many of the Turner Societies have established rifle companies that hold drill and shooting competitions through out the state Most German immigrants are Democrats but they are not in favor of session and a growing number are supporting the new Republican Party. Francis Blair Jr. assumes the responsibility of establishing contact with the Turner Societies and leaders of the German communities.

Franz Sigel, with a German military education and position as a teacher is the leader of the German population. Heavily involved with the St. Louis Turners, Sigel lectures Turner rifle companies on tactics and in 1860 convinces them to switch from Prussian drill to the standard U.S. Army drill. Francis Blair and Franz Sigel form an alliance, agreeing to save Missouri from Governor Jackson and the Missouri Volunteer Militia.
The St. Louis Arsenal with fewer than 100 enlisted men is the main United States presences in the area. The commander Captain Nathaniel Lyon was born in Connecticut in 1818 and graduated from West Point in 1841, eleventh in a class of fifty-two. He has fought Indians in both Florida and on the frontier, saw service during the Mexican War with Winfield Scott. The only exception, to a very standard military record, is a court-martial in 1842, where he was found guilty and suspended for five months for disciplining an enlisted man. Questions about his conduct surfaced in 1850 when a unit under his command is reputed to have massacred an Indian village in California. Lyon is considered by many to be “the most Tyrannical officer in the Army”. He possessed a vision of victory that eliminates the enemy, is blunt to the point of rudeness and is convinced that secession is treason. The three-story arsenal contains sixty thousand muskets, ninety thousand pounds of power, one-and-a-half million ball cartridges, and forty field pieces with all the required machinery for the manufacture of arms. It is the largest arsenal in a slave state and the key to Missouri.

In May 1861 the battle lines are firmly drawn with Governor Jackson and the majority of the state militia favoring secession. Two regiments of infantry, three troops of cavalry and a battery of artillery, are called up by the Governor, for training outside of St. Louis in Camp Jackson. The CSA Flag, while not flown officially is on display throughout Camp Jackson. Holding St. Louis is Lyons, Blair, Sigel and the newly “legal Missouri Militia”. Organized from the Turner Societies, the U.S. Reserve Corps consisted of five regiments of infantry and a company of artillery. Missouri has two “legal” militia organizations the Missouri Volunteer Militia at Camp Jackson recognized by the State of Missouri and the U.S. Reserve Corps in St. Louis recognized by the U.S. Government. Captain Lyons is elected a Brigadier General by the colonels of the U.S. Reserve Corps and his rank is approved by Washington. On May tenth, one day before the militia units at Camp Jackson are scheduled to disband, the U.S. Reserve Corps surrounds the camp forcing the Missouri Volunteer Militia units to surrender. The men are disarmed and two dismantled CSA cannon are found in boxes marked “Marble”. Instead of paroling the prisoners at the camp, Lyon decides to march them through the streets of St. Louis to the Arsenal. This march is to display the defeat of the Secessionist and enhance the prestige of the U.S. Reserve Corps.

The ethnic makeup of the two forces is crucial in understanding what happens. The Missouri Volunteer Militia is largely American born with some Irish members while the U.S. Reserve Corps is largely German born with some American born and Irish members. While moving the prisoners through the streets a pro-secessionist and anti-German mob collects. Insults are exchanged, rocks are thrown, things escalated until shots are fired. 28 civilians are killed; another 75 are injured with women and children being in both groups. Two of Lyon’s men are killed as are three members of the Missouri Volunteer Militia. What was planned as a victory parade turns into a disastrous loss of prestige for the Union. Governor Jackson is seen as saving the state from war; the mob has set free Missourians held prisoners and most of the paroled men enlisted in the new secessionist Missouri State Guard. The first action of the campaign is a Confederate Victory.

On June 11, 1861, Lyon and Jackson hold a meeting in St. Louis on what could/should be done to prevent war. Jackson comes to the meeting with a proposal that Missouri should remain neutral and that all U.S. forces withdraw from the state. This would effectively give Missouri to the Confederacy. Lyon rejects the proposals, stats “This means war” and issued orders for the U.S. Reserve Corps to advance on the capital at Jefferson City. On June 12th, Jackson calls for 50,000 state militiamen to prevent the overthrow of the state government by federal force. As Lyon advances Jackson and his secessionist state government leaves Jefferson City for Boonville, about fifty miles up the Missouri River. In Jefferson City, Lyon forms a provisional Unionist state government, garrisons the capital and moves on to Boonville. On June 17, 1861, Col. John Marmaduke commanding the Confederate rear guard sets a line of battle and invites an attack. Lyon uses his artillery to cower Marmaduke’s command, following with a general attack which breaks the Confederate line. Marmaduke’s command flees the field in confusion. Governor Jackson joins the troops as they retreated to Lexington, up river from Boonville. Both sides suffered a total of 81 casualties but this small battle produces major results. Missouri has a Unionist State Government; while Jackson’s pro-secession government is defeated and driven from the state capital. The weeks after Boonville are spent in gaining control of the Missouri River. Using gun boats, strong points and his better trained and armed Germans, Lyon forced Jackson to retreat from Lexington to the southwest part of the state. Jackson knowing that he can not stand another battle trades territory for time. This tactic isolated his followers in the north of the state.

Lyon is reinforced with the 1st Iowa and the 1st & 2nd Kansas. Neither of these units consisted of men with military experience; all the men are poorly trained and disciplined. Most are the 90 day volunteers that answered Lincoln’s first call to save the Union. The Kansas units are a grim lot; many of the men started fighting in 1854 and remember Jackson well. They have scores to settle and are looking forward to a fight. As additional reinforcement, a contingent of US Army Regulars commanded by Major Samuel Sturgis join Lyon’s command. Missouri, with some help from the Blair Family had become a department and is placed under the command of John C. Fremont.

In response to rumors that a force is moving along the western border of the state Franz Sigel’s Germans are dispatched to the town of Carthage. The balance of Lyon’s force is moving to Rolla, the rail head closest to Jackson’s forces. Both sides are learning the hard lessons of campaigning. Intelligence and logistics is not something that had ever been considered. Untrained men, many without weapons or carrying what they brought with them did not an army make. Each side is missing opportunities and suffering unnecessary hardships.

On July 4th, Franz Sigel’s command of 1,100 reached the town of Carthage along the western border of Missouri. In 8161, Carthage had a population of about 400 with 61 buildings, dominated by a large brick courthouse, a saloon, hotel, bakery, carpenter shop and three trade goods stores. The town still supports the farms, mining and milling in the surrounding area. Sigel put a picket line north of town planning to spend the night. A forging expedition ran into this picket line; one man was killed in the resulting skirmish. Sigel had learned Jackson’s men are close. His command made preparations to march north and meet them on July 5th.

The skirmish produced chaos in Jackson’s camp. Unaware of where the Union forces are they found them blocking their retreat. They expected a meeting with Ben McCulloch’s CSA army marching north from Arkansas not a Union army. Was Lyon was following them and are they trapped between the two forces of unknown size? Jackson had about 2,000 unarmed men are unarmed and 4,000 with a variety of weapons, some useful in battle others not. With few options, Jackson decided that the army would rise early and march south to fight the Federals.

At 4:30 AM on July 5th, reveille was sounded in Sigel’s camp in Carthage. The Third and Fifth Missouri broke camp, marching north to possible battle. By about 5 AM, 1,100 men and thirty-two wagons are on the road. From the town and surrounding area several volunteers joined the column acting as guides and/or marching in the ranks. About one mile north of town the Spring River Ford was running high with a swift current. This slowed the march but no major problems are encountered in fording the river.

To show the state of Jackson’s command, Col. Robert Peyton commanding the Third Cavalry Missouri State Guards, found that two-thirds of his command had no ammunition for their weapons. These men along with others with out weapons are assigned to the unarmed reserve posted at the rear of the column. About 4 AM, Peyton gets the cavalry vanguard on the road. Other units are trying to get assembled and into marching order. The condition of the road forces the men to march on the prairie, resulting in columns of men eight or more abreast on the prairie, rather than the traditional column of four used on a road. At Coon Creek the Southerners stop for water. The majority of men lack canteens; they drink deeply hoping this will carry them to the next water. Getting water, the fording of the creek disrupts the march and considerable time is spent getting the command moving again.

About 7 AM Jackson’s men reached some higher ground then the surrounding area and his cavalry sight Sigel’s column. The men are placed in line of battle near the crest of the hill and skirmishers sent out. The poorly armed troops with little training or discipline are setting a trap for the well armed, disciplined command lead by a person with a professional military education. Sigel’s first notice of Confederate forces is an exchange of fire from the skirmish lines. Using his well disciplined infantry, he is able to push back the mounted Southerners and continue advancing. This starts a slow running fight, prompting Sigel to deploy his artillery. This allows his command to push Jackson back across the Dry Fork Creek ford. Sigel detaches one gun with a company from the Third Missouri to guard his supply wagons at the ford.

Jackson placed his command on a long ridge running perpendicular to the road. By chance this is the highest ground in the area. Between the armies is pasture, a newly mowed hay field and a large corn field at the bottom of the ridge. Samuel LaForce, one of the volunteers from Carthage, advises Sigel that the enemy line was about one mile long, allowing an estimate of the enemy force at 3,500. Given the open ground, his own well drilled and armed units Sigel is confident that he can defeat the enemy. About 9 AM, his columns advanced and deployed for battle. For reasons that have been lost or are never known, Governor Jackson turns command over to Brig.Gen. James Rains and retires to the unarmed reserve and wagon trains. The Missouri State Guard raises Confederate Flags on each flank, a significant statement for the legal militia of a “neutral state” government.

Sigel advances to within 800 yards of the enemy line and orders his artillery to open fire at about 10 AM. For the next hour both sides fire with no significant results. The Confederates have only solid shot and are at a disadvantage when firing at infantry. The Union guns forced the Confederates back about 200 yards, where they find cover in depressions on the plains. General Rains, seeing the men are starting to waver under the shelling, orders his cavalry to move around the Federal flanks. Governor Jackson shifts the unarmed reserve to the right of the line into some timber, possibly to avoid the shelling. Most of the unarmed men are mounted and from a distance they appeared to be a large cavalry force.

The battle is going well for Sigel. His well trained infantry standing firm holding the Confederates in place while the artillery mauls the enemy line. Any small advances were handled and another Boonville seems in the making. The double flanking movement and a large number of mounted men to the right of the enemy line changed the complexion of the battle. Sigel has no reserves and no cavalry to meet this threat. Initially, he tries to stop the flanking movements with his guns but this only drives the rebels away from the battle line and deepens the threat to his rear. Additionally, he is starting to run out of artillery ammunition invalidating his battle plan. The guns are needed to break the will of the Confederate infantry, provide additional fire power and hold the flanking movements at bay. The flanking movement and that large cavalry force on the Confederate right flank pass the initiative to the Missouri State Guards.

Sigel determines to fall back south about one mile to the Dry Fork Creek and his supply wagons. The Confederates counter this by advancing their battle line to maintain pressure with close contact. By the time Dry Fork Creek is reached, Sigel has made a decision to withdraw. The command is split into two groups; one continues south with the wagons and the other takes a defensive position at Dry Fork Creek. This position is able to slow the State Guard’s advance but their cavalry continues to flank the Union line. This becomes the Battle of Carthage, falls back, take a defensive position, the disciplined fire holds their infantry at bay, the cavalry moves onto his flanks and the position becomes untenable. Dry Fork Creek, Buck’s Branch Creek, Ordnuff Hill, Spring River, Carthage and the River Road, all see a repartition of these tactics. About 9PM a very tired and disorganized Missouri State Guard tries and fails to break the final defensive line on the River Road. Sigel continues his retreat and Rains is happy to let him go.

The Battle of Carthage results in about 250 casualties, 80% of them in the Missouri State Guard. Carthage is where the Guard declares its’ loyalty, fighting for the first time under the Confederate flag. Both sides show that they are ready and willing to fight. Carthage is the first Confederate victory in Missouri. Sigel retreats to the Northeast to link up with Lyon and the main Union force, while Jackson is able to continue retreating south to link up with Ben McCulloch and the Confederate Army on Cowskin Prairie.

The Confederate Army consists of the Third Louisiana, the Pelican Rifles, a battalion of Texans and Pearce’s Arkansas “butternut” volunteers. The civilian veterans of Carthage look in awe at the neat gray uniformed Pelican Rifles, with officers resplendent in gold braid and buttons. Traveling with them is Sterling Price and additional elements of the Missouri State Guard. Brigadier General Ben McCulloch commands a district “embracing the Indian Territory lying west of Arkansas and south of Kansas.” McCulloch fought in the Texas Revolution, the War with Mexico, been sheriff of Sacramento during the gold rush and a Federal Marshal in Texas. While Richmond was appointing people and setting up military commands, McCulloch took the units at hand and in absence of orders to the contrary set out to free Missouri. Jackson turns all units of the State Guard over to Price and confers with McCulloch on a combined attack to defeat Lyon and retake Jefferson City. McCulloch requires that Price try to make an army out of what he terms “half-starved infantry” and “huckleberry cavalry”. The unarmed reserve was a liability and McCulloch had no interest in trying to use them.

Lyon and Sigel meet at Springfield about July 13th, with over five thousand men occupying a series of camps encircling the town. By mid-July the forces that will fight the second major battle of the Civil War are in place. The commanders face important decisions, and the officers and men still have much to learn about becoming soldiers. For both sides supplies are becoming a very real problem. The southwest corner of Missouri contains no close railroads or rivers and the roads are not able to bear the traffic needed to support armies. Lyon’s Iowans gave their encampment the name “Camp Mush” as cornmeal mixed with water was the rations issued them for several days. One measure Lyon takes is to ship displaced civilians, the sick and wounded to Rolla, the nearest railhead. This measure reduces the supplies needed in Springfield. For McCulloch, a major concern is feeding his horses as a large number of his men are mounted.

McCulloch is in charge of the Confederate Brigade, Pearce is in charge of the Arkansas State Troops and Price is in charge of the Missouri State Guards. Since Arkansas is part of the Confederacy, Pearce should have been under McCulloch’s command. Price considers the he and McCulloch commanded forces belonging to separate nations. To Price, he commanded United States forces while McCulloch commanded the Confederate State forces and both are fighting the “usurping Lincolnites”. Pearce seems to have approached Price about making McCulloch overall commander. They agreed and McCulloch accepts the position and designating his command the Western Army.

By the end of July the Western Armies’ option is to advance on Lyon at Springfield or retreat to Fort Smith Arkansas. The army is to advance in three divisions one day apart trying to avoid overcrowding and allowing for collection of forage. McCulloch seems to have interspersed his units among the Missouri State Guard for the march, resulting in the majority of his mounted men being in the rear most division under command of Price. To make matters worse, Price allowed almost two thousand unarmed men and a large number of women to march with his command. Most of the women are wives or related to members of the Missouri State Guard but with short supplies they are an unnecessary burden.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Today we are proud to present James W. Durney's review of Battle of Monroe's Crossroads as our second Third Place winner of Our First Annual win your own Civil War Christmas present contest..

Don't forget to check out yesterday's winning post and to come back throughout the week to read the other winners.

Also, if you have not visited Eric's blog, Rantings of a Civil War Historian, do yourself a favor and check it out, by far one of the best Civil War blogs out there.

Battle of Monroe's Crossroads and the Civil War's Last Campaign by Eric J. Wittenberg
Hardcover: 366 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.18 x 9.06 x 6.36
Publisher: Savas Beatie; (April 15, 2006)
ISBN: 1932714170
Eric Wittenberg solidifies his standing as our best Civil War Cavalry author by continuing to produce high quality, well-researched, readable histories that are both informative and fun. Using Savas Beatie as his publisher is a “Dream Team” for enthusiasts. Maps, maps and more maps ensure that you will never be lost and will instantly understand what retaking the guns means. The list of illustrations is one and a half pages; the list of maps is two and a half pages. Clearly stating that both the author and publisher understand what is nice, illustrations and what is necessary, maps. Since most of us will never get into Fort Bragg to walk the battle field, the maps substitute nicely keeping us orientated and in position.

The book is well researched, footnoted and complete within the time we are considering. The confrontation between Hampton and Kilpatrick outside the Bennett home, capture the men, their feelings and the time. It provides a logical beginning to the story, even if it occurs at the end. While presenting the reader with clear concise portraits of the major figures, the supporting cast is not ignored. The strengths and weakness of each Cavalry force is clearly described. This introduction gives us the needed background to understand the depth of feeling and desperation that contributes to the battle.

Weather and terrain conspire to hinder both sides building a waterlogged hell for man and beast. This produces a major impact on the campaign and the battle, becoming a story within the story. J.E. Johnston’s army must cross over the Cape Fear River, Hampton’s cavalry is trying to screen this movement and delay Sherman’s army. Judson Kilpatrick, commanding Sherman’s cavalry almost by default, is trying to get around Hampton while protecting Sherman’s foraging parties and supply trains.

Kilpatrick allows his cavalry to spread out, become badly separated and fails to protect the approaches to the camps. Wade Hampton and Joe Wheeler size an opportunity and attack a portion of Kilpatrick’s command. The resulting battle is at close quarters, fought by veterans is a stand up fight with neither side stepping back. Eric Wittenberg details what the commanders do right; wrong and where they lose control. This results in an understandable sew-saw battle narrative as first one side and than the other attacks. Here the detailed maps are as valuable as the writing. Working together, the reader never gets lost always using one to support the other.

This is more than a battle book as the battle is placed within the context of the campaign and the war. This placement, allows us the answer the very complex question; “Who won?” The last chapters cover the aftermath of the battle, what it did to and for Johnston & Sherman and give us a glimpse of the participant’s later life. An Order of battle and detailed list of causalities complete the history of the battle.
Appendix C & D, answer a couple of questions that are not technically part of the battle but relate to it. Both provide us with Human Interests items and make the story personal and complete. One deals with who was the woman in Kilpatrick’s HQ and the other with “Fighting” Joe Wheeler’s rank.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bob commented on our post about Christmas in 1861 for the 18th Massachusetts, directing us to read James S. Robbins' article on Christmas in 1861.

It is a great article and provides some great humor, a wonderful look at the nation's view of what was about to happen and brings one to feel a bit sorry for everyone being so upbeat. If both sides only knew what the next few years would bring upon them, you have to wonder if they would have been so jolly.

As a side note, Robbins is the author of Last in Their Class: Custer, Picket and the Goats of West Point, a book that is on my wish list for 2007. I have heard a few good things about it and if it is as good as the article, it should be well worth it.

Last month we announced the Our First Annual win your own Civil War Christmas present contest. Starting today, we will be presenting the winners of the contest.

It started off rather slow but after a post on “North and South Magazine’s Civil War Society” mail list, we got a slew of entries. Originally we had Three Places but decided to expand it to the 5 best entries that we received – having a three way tie for Third Place.

I have to say it was extremely hard to rank these, which was the main cause of the delay of announcing the winners. We learned a few things with this contest, it’s harder to judge than we originally thought, do a good PR campaign and have more prizes!

And yes, we will have a Second Annual contest next year!

So who are the winners? They are -

First Place -
Winner receives one Limited Edition 18th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Coffee and one copy of
Gettysburg Gospel
The Lincoln Speech that Nobody Knows

By Gabor Boritt – Director, Civil War Institute, Gettysburg College

And one copy of
Union 1812
The Americans who fought the Second War of Independence

By A.J. Langguth

Jeff T. Giambrone's Been Front and Seen the Elephant: The Civil War letters of Charles Capron

Second Place -
Winner receives one Limited Edition 18th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Coffee and one copy of
Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney
Slavery, Secession and the President’s War Powers

By James F. Simon

Lee Ann Newton's To Honor and Serve, Theobold Schantz

Tied for Third Place
Each win a Limited Edition 18th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Coffee Mug

James W. Durney's Operations to Control Missouri (1861)

James W. Durney's review of Battle of Monroe's Crossroads

Jon Lane's The Eighteenth Upon the Road

We will be putting each of these up as posts over the next week. Please enjoy them as much as we did!

And a very special thank you goes out to Donald for providing the mugs and to Simon & Schuster for providing the books!

Here is our first winner of the contest, one of our third place winners. This was a tough one as it deals with the 18th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. To be honest, I almost gave John first place because of that. But I had to be fair, as hard as that was.

Still, it’s a great piece and I hope you like it as much as we did! Oh and please comment on the posts and let the writers know how you feel, it’s always great to get feedback on your literary child.

The Eighteenth Upon the Road

By John Lane

They stood upon the autumned hill and overlooked the bay,
The bright, clear air, and bare-boned trees revealed the far away,
A multitude of citizens came forth from their abode,
A cheer, a shout, roared forth from them, as the Eighteenth took the

A glint of gold, a steely sheen, shone forth in bright array,
A clash of arms and tramping feet announced their marching way,
The bark of command to "Quick step, march!" and while they march to
A patriotic fervor seized the mob, when the Eighteenth took the road.

All along this well-worn path the volunteers rent the crowd,
And when three cheers commanded were, they gave it long and loud,
As the column paraded down the lane, the colors bravely showed,
No finer sight was beheld that day, than the Eighteenth on the road.

How proud the citizens of Plymouth felt, how magnificent the view,
When Collingwood marched forth with his hundred men in blue,
How sad the wives and mothers of these warriors in woad,
As they watched the regiment fade away, the Eighteenth upon the road.

These farm boys and mechanics were hurled against the rebel grey,
Up and down the field they marched, some to their final day,
And when at last with Burnside to Fredericksburg they strode,
To storm against Marye's Heights, the Eighteenth left the road.

Throughout the war, in battles great, and skirmishes so small,
The Boys of Massachusetts were witness to it all,
When the rebel host did capitulate, where the Appomattox flowed,
To honor their fellow countrymen, the Eighteenth lined the road.

One hundred strong, they marched to war, a Union they reclaimed
But seventy-five came home again, with bodies worn and maimed
Upon the town's main street they came, their flag unfurled, their heads
u nbowed,
And quietly went to their homes, the Eighteenth no more upon the road.

One by one these Hectors quietly went unto their final rest,
They met their end as heroes should, with dignity possessed,
Their battle-fields are silent, with seeds of peace they have been
The Angel of the Lord has called the Eighteenth out upon the road.


I stand upon the autumned hill and overlook the bay,
The bright, clear air, and bare-boned trees reveal the far away,
No citizens are here at all, where these ancient bones are stowed,
At the grave of Joseph Collingwood, buried neatly beside the road.

Members of the 18th Massachusetts Reenactment Group
Tom Keenan (left) and John Lane (right) standing at Captain Joseph Collingwood's grave in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Monday, December 25, 2006

Middleboro Gazette and Old Colony Advertiser, Saturday January 11, p. 2, column 4


Camp Barnes, Hall’s Hill, Va
Jan. 5, 1862

Mr. Editor,

Will have the kindness – through the columns of the Gasette – to express to the Ladies of the Soldier’s Aid Society, and others of our Middleboro friends, the grateful acknowledgments of myself and command, for this bountiful “Christmas Dinner” provided for and forwarded to us by them, and which, though not received in searson for discussion on the day intended, was none the less highly appreciated at a later date.

The mittens and other articles were also opportune in their arrival, and are now doing good service in protecting us from Virginia frosts, which at times are as piercing as those of New England. These, and similar expressions of regard, of which the members of Co. D, have so often been the recipients are, I hardly need say, prized not only for their intrinsic value and as promoting our health and comfort, but from their associations and as tokens of remembrance from those at home – friends to whom it may not be the privilege of us all again to extend the greeting hand, but whose sympathy with, and efforts in aid of the cause of right, will not pass unrewarded.

S. Thomas, Capt. Co. D

Thursday, December 21, 2006


What quality mercy for the wounded and dying? Which cries touch the hearts of those within earshot? What moves one and not others toward compassion? What steels the conscience to revel in the dead and strip them naked? Which cries are most often repeated from the muck of mud, blood, and human fiber? The cries for a God, a wife, a mother, or water? Who is alive and who is dead? The dead do not move and neither do the living for a night, through a day, and on until darkness falls again. This, the aftermath of Fredericksburg, and they are the Union dead, the Union dying, the Union wounded, and the Union living. They are the decapitated dead, the wide-eyed dead, the dead with exposed entrails, and the dead whose hearts have been penetrated by a minie ball and, strangely, whose lips form into a smile. Arms and legs once part of a whole now scattered like twigs broken off from a tree. Entire branches from family trees that have passed from a present and the promise of a future into a netherworld where future never was to be. This is the aftermath, a trash heap of sorrow and broken humanity, a smorgasbord for rooting pigs.

Did a man whose side whiskers become a declaration of fashion “throw the bones” on the head of a drum, or read tea leaves in his morning cup, or tarot cards, or lines in the palm of his hand? Did he interpret an oracle or gaze into a crystal sphere before he sent his glistening massed bayonets against a wall, against artillery so arrayed a single chicken could not have survived to scratch the ground? Did the heavens speak to him of victory, of Franklin’s left rolling up Jackson’s right, of breaking through to a sunken road and ascending higher and beyond to Richmond? One more brigade and it is ours, one more brigade and it may be ours, one more brigade and it may be, one more brigade and it may, one more brigade…until there are no more to urge forward for flag, for cause, for country. And there a voice whispers the knowledge from civilizations and empires extinct, that it is well we witness such realities, of splintered dead and shattered dying in unfiltered sunlight, lest our appetite for sending more of the living to their heaven or hell grows increasingly more ravenous.

Sunday, December 10th

They were Irish lads, émigrés and first generation born, members of a vaunted Brigade who once stood where now we stand. The hands of re-enactors from Company B of the 28th Massachusetts take boxwood sprigs and affix them to their kepis. Their eyes glance downward as Francis Augustin O’Reilly recites words aged by 144 years of history, words of Col. Thomas Francis Meagher that carried along the banks of the Rappahannock. Addressing the 88th New York Infantry, Meagher’s words ring clear and concise. “In a few moments you will engage the enemy in a most terrible battle, which will probably decide the fate of this glorious, great and grand country – the home of your adoption!…and I know this day you will strike a deadly blow…and bring back to this distracted country its former prestige and glory…If I fall, I can say I did my duty, and fell fighting in the most glorious of causes.” In keeping with the events of December 13, 1862, these modern day keepers of the flame remove their knapsacks and deposit them on the ground before reforming, snapping to attention, and facing right.

Company B, in column by twos, marches north on Sophia Street, trailed by a throng of spectators who have come to hear the words, and pauses after 200 yards. Here, O’Reilly, as he has done year after year, tells of men who fall victim to screeching shells whistling down the thoroughfares of the city, Confederate gunners using the steeples of churches as their guidance system. This is a place where doubt and fear joust with courage and a willingness to go on, where words must reassure and give courage back to the faint and the most doubtful that courage exists inside. It is the place where they first see survivors of the waiting carnage making for the rear, where a leg dangling by a single tendon off the side of a shutter, on which rests the maimed, is severed with the stroke of a blade and falls to the ground with a thump. It is the same place that a man loses his head, to a cannonball, and continues to stand at attention until the knees slowly give way and the body sinks to a frozen upright position.

Now onward, the tramp of brogans on the pavement, the quieter footsteps of those who follow, further north on Sophia, until ordered left onto George Street. Upward past Caroline Street, past churches on corners, past traffic that has halted to honor this funeral procession’s passing, until we pause again at the Corporation Cemetery grounds. This place, as O’Reilly describes, is the last refuge, the last protected pocket in the city before the vaunted Brigade will emerge from comparative safety onto an exposed killing field.

The re-enactors pick up their march and we our walk, but we cannot see Marye’s Heights, our view blocked by the cluster of houses. The vaunted Brigade would have had an unobstructed view, a clear sight of what had transpired, of what was happening then, of what awaited them. There was no hesitation in their step and certainly not in ours, but we ask ourselves now, would we have hesitated where they did not. Were our sights fixed on the same images as theirs would we have been willing to sacrifice on the same level? Were we 1200 strong, and knowing that only 250 of our number would return to the city unharmed, would we have continued onward? We trust we would have without knowing the truth of where our own courage lies.

Now we are closer, where once a sluice ran through this city. On that day it was eight feet wide, seven feet deep, and filled with four feet of water, to be crossed one man at a time by tight rope walking across narrow wooden stringers. For those who could not maintain their balance, there was a headlong plunge and drenching, while for a whole regiment came the order to wade in and cross to the other side. For half an hour the vaunted Brigade tight roped, plunged, and waded until they finally reformed and turned their attention to the object of the Union army’s desires.

The wall is still unseen, still blocked from view, but the next stop is to where men, who were still able to do so, retreated and took shelter from the storm behind a slight, barely perceptible rise in the ground. It was here on the flats of their bellies that the prostrated cried to those marching past to “Lie down! Lie down!” But the marchers marched into the breech, insistent that with one more brigade it would be ours, with one more brigade it may be ours…

At two o’clock a crowd gathered in a park where a statue dedicated to Sgt.Richard Rowland Kirkland of the 2nd South Carolina Infantry stands. Kirkland provided a quality of mercy, heeding the cries of dying Union soldiers, by leaving the safety of the Sunken Road and ministering to the wounded, anointing their parched throats with water from a canteen. His act of mercy drew no fire from his enemy for in the quality of his mercy there were no foes.

Cricket Pohanka, the widow of Brian, a noted Civil War historian who died at Alexandria, Virginia on June 15, 2005, after a two-year battle with cancer, was the guest speaker at a ceremony sponsored by the National Park Service, which annually commemorates the battle of Fredericksburg. She spoke of Brian’s contributions, his passion, individuality, and uniqueness. She is being asked to carry on that legacy, but pointed out that she is not Brian. There was a very brief moment when her composure wavered, when the polished, steady voice exposed the bewilderment of loss. It flickered in the warmth that enveloped the gathering, before self-assuredness returned and she announced recent successful efforts by the Civil War Preservation Trust Fund, of which she is a Board member, to preserve 200 acres of the Slaughter Pen Farm near the Spotsylvania battlefield.

The presentation of wreaths by the Order of the Southern Gray, the Loyal Order of Hibernians, 48th Virginia Infantry, Company B of the 28th Massachusetts Infantry, the18th Massachusetts Infantry Historical and Preservation Society, and other heritage groups followed, each presenter engaging in a slow and somber walk toward the Kirkland Memorial, where the wreaths were lain. It was a moment of reconciliation by descendants of men who fought there 144 years ago that would have met with the benevolent approval of a rail-splitter and native son of Kentucky.

Co. B, 28th Mass Re-enactors

Cricket Pohanka

Richard Kirkland Memorial

Loyal Order of Hibernians

48th Virginia Re-enactors

Order of the Southern Gray

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Thanks to Jim H. Moreno over at the website of Arm Chair General for the link in his ACG Webops a “..'this week in military history'-styled look at news links and related websites throughout the Internet!.

This is the second time Jim has been kind enough to include us in one of his weekly roundups and it is much appreciated.

For those of you visiting from ACG, make yourself at home and come back and see us.
Harry over at Bull Runnings picked up on the Castle Pinckney and ran with it.

This post has a modern day picture as well as one from its heyday.

While this post goes more into its history of a POW camp after the Battle of Bull Run. He also has a great picture of union soldiers within the Castle as prisoners.

As I mentioned in a comment on his post, I wish that the Post and Courier would “post” (sorry had to throw that pun out) the pictures with the articles. There were two nice, up close pictures of the structure current day. There is so much fill in it now that the rear sallyport is only half as tall as it should be.
I received an email from the publisher this morning and of course now feel like a total heel. The author had also sent an email to them about the review and my original email was sent to a "general email box" which so close to the holidays could have very easily caused it to have gone "missing". They also suggested I pick up another book - so I must not be banned. :)

I’ve decided to edit the original post to take out the book name and publisher but will keep the post up. I feel the original adds to the discussion of how the blogging community should be reviewing books and also seems to have given one or two people an idea.
Whenever I get a book from a publisher – whether they send it to me or I buy it myself – I always email the publisher and let them know when I post about it.

This, I feel is the polite thing to do and always get at least a response of “thanks” if not something longer.

That was until I posted a not so positive review and let the publisher know about it. Now, this was a book that I did not pay for and did not particular get. Even though I said so in my review, I did mention that I thought the writing was good and that I was probably not the target audience, which probably caused my lack of enthusiasm with it.

After posting the review I sent a nice email, thanking them again for the book and that I posted a review on the site. That was on November 20th, 4 weeks ago and I have yet to hear anything. The funny thing, I know they visited the site to read the review. There is a neat little tool on the blog that captures where people are from. About 10 minutes or so after I sent the email, someone from publisher visited the site and viewed the different articles about the book and then left.

Guess I only get responses if I say nice things.

I am tempted to request another book to see what happens – might make a good post

Monday, December 18, 2006

The ports in South Carolina are run by a quasi-governmental agency named the State Ports Authority or SPA as locals refer to it. And as in most things governmental – rarely does anything that makes sense.

Now, I have to give it props for giving $1 million towards the preservation of Morris Island, especially since the jetties that were built to protect the harbor and allow for more ships into the ports it now runs, was the main cause of over half the island disappearing due to erosion.

But what about preserving significant Civil War related property that it already owns? Well, according to an article in today’s Charleston Post and Courier, little to nothing.


…has no plans or money to preserve it.

I guess the Castle is not high profile enough for the SPA to donate a million dollars to fix up.

I can only hope that when/if the State of South Carolina does get it’s act together and form the Sequential or War Between the States Committee as State Senator Glen McConnell notes (who has yet to reply to my email asking about said committee from two months ago) that they are able to do something to preserve it.

One other thing to note, the installation also served as a prisoner of war camp after the first Battle of Bull Run. It seems like it is an important part of its history that was just forgotten in an article that tries to bring the fort to some sort of importance.

A castle (Pinckney) for the birds
Fortification housed more than 200 brown pelicans earlier this year
By Robert Behre

While humans are having a hard time figuring out just what to do with Castle Pinckney, another species seems to have things all figured out.
For brown pelicans, the fortification in the middle of Charleston Harbor makes a great maternity wing.

That's what Christopher Ziegler, a historian with the National Park Service, discovered last week as he arranged a boat trip to visit the abandoned fortification for the first time.

While Ziegler has never been there before, he knows Castle Pinckney as well as anyone. He's researching it extensively in hopes of getting the 200-year-old structure listed as a National Historic Landmark, the highest such recognition possible and one that could bring needed attention to it.

As he stood inside Castle Pinckney's center, which he estimated contains at least 15 feet of fill, he surveyed the trees growing out from the walls, the missing bricks, the lean of the walls. The fort had more than 200 brown pelican nests earlier this year, and while the chicks are gone, the smell remains. A few pelican skeletons dot the interior.

"It's always hard when you love something to see it and go, 'Oh, it is that bad,' " Ziegler says.

The island is posted with "No Trespassing" signs, but Ziegler has arranged permission for a visit with the State Ports Authority, which owns it but has no plans or money to preserve it.

Ports Authority spokesman Byron Miller explains that the SPA wants people like Ziegler taking a look at it. "We want people to consider what can be done," he says. While the agency often hears from people interested in the site, the agency makes it clear that the site's neglected state and bird nests make it a dangerous place to visit.

The fort's history began with President George Washington's visit to Charleston in 1791. He recommended building a fort on Shutes Folly Island, though a hurricane blew the first one away in 1804. The current elliptical brick fort was completed just before the War of 1812 and named in honor of Gen. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. It was the most impressive fortification in the harbor at the time and similar to both Castle Clinton and Castle Williams in New York Harbor.

Its military importance began to fade when Fort Sumter was being built, but Castle Pinckney - and not Fort Sumter - was the first federal military institution to surrender to Confederate forces, who didn't have to fire a shot. It served as a hospital during the war, and later as a warehouse. President Calvin Coolidge dedicated it as a national monument in 1924, but when Fort Sumter was decommissioned and given to the National Park Service, the Park Service in turn gave Castle Pinckney to the state, which never really found a suitable use for it.

State Sen. Glenn McConnell says he would like to see the state's War Between the States Commission get formed soon and discuss what can be done with the fort. "I think it's a treasure trove of artifacts," he says. "It's a cultural resource that has long been neglected and needs attention."

While humans haven't given it much attention, the pelicans have moved in. State biologists Mark Spinks and Felicia Sanders have monitored Castle Pinckney for several years. Between 1999 and 2003, the pelicans nested in the marsh at the fort's base, but their chicks often would get washed away with an extreme high tide. In 2004, they built 270 nests on the fort itself, and they were far more successful.

Sanders doesn't know why the birds didn't create a single nest there last year, but this year, they returned and built 219 nests. The fort's base is also an important nesting ground for oystercatchers and other shorebirds, making the site particularly sensitive between March and October.

While the smell remains overpowering and Ziegler understands now why the fort's wall looks white when viewed from Fort Sumter, he says its condition could be worse.

"Overall, it really doesn't look that bad," he says. "I mean the masonry."
Charleston Post and Courier
Monday, December 18, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

My parents (thanks Mom and Dad) sent me a link to the National Geographic site for a fantastic July 2002 article titled: The H.L. Hunley – Secret Weapon of the Confederacy.

Besides having the full article, it includes pictures of the Hunley being raised and some interesting trivia, along with related links. I really like the little Quicktime Application that gives a 360 view of the submarine and allows for close-ups – so make sure you check that out.

Although over 4 years old, it is a great way to start your day off, Civil War style.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fredericksburg, Virginia is a uniquely remarkable place if you’re interested in the Civil War. With four major battlefield sites located within a 15-mile radius of the city, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania, there’s no other part of the country which bore witness to so much carnage over such an extended period of time.

The events leading up to the battle of Fredericksburg, which was fought on December 13, 1862, were unique unto themselves. Those events marked the first time that an entire civilian population was caught in the epicenter of urban warfare and forced to evacuate enmass. Civilian flight from the city cleared the way for vicious street and house-to-house fighting to be baptized and given a Christian name. Nothing remained sacred in Fredericksburg. Not personal property, not cemeteries, not churches. All were fired upon with muskets and shelled with equal and purposeful abandon by both sides.

Fredericksburg was America's Gallipoli, though less renowned in world history. It was a harbinger of modern warfare, where accepted military tactics were obsolete in the face of technology and doomed to fail. Not because of lack of will; not because of fleeting spirit; not because of an unwillingness to sacrifice; not because of a failure to duty; not because of a lack of bravery; but because of blatant stupidity, stubbornness, and the pressure to achieve victory where none could be achieved.

Although there were two distinct phases to the battle of Fredericksburg on the 13th, it is always the Union assault on Marye’s Heights that draws attention and remembrance. It is that terrible bloody place where wave after wave of Union brigades were thrown against cannon and men well protected by a stone wall, a place where over 12,000 fell, a place where entire regiments were decimated at the rate of more than three times the number of their Confederate foe. And it is that place, that slope of the field, that Capt. George M. Barnard of Company C of the 18th Massachusetts referred to in his letter two days later when he wrote “Col. [Joseph] Hayes threw his arms about me and almost cried at this wicked murder and it is no satisfaction to me that I led brave men to useless death.”

For the past nine years, on the weekend closest to December 13th, I’ve made a pilgrimage to Fredericksburg, always for the purpose of honoring the 18th Massachusetts Infantry during a Sunday ceremony sponsored by the National Park Service to commemorate the battle. For the past eight I’ve presented a wreath in tribute and in homage to the 350 officers and men of the regiment who marched into the halo of hell.

Saturday, December 9th

It was my intention to observe the re-enactment of the street fighting, but it instead turned out to be a lazy morning and by the time I left my motel room it was early afternoon. I drove to the National Park Service headquarters with the idea that I would try to find out once and for all where the 18th Massachusetts had been camped in Falmouth, across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, both before and after the battle. There was no information to be had there, but I was directed to the White Oak Museum in Falmouth and told to see the curator D.P. Newton. D.P., according to the Ranger, was the most knowledgeable person in the area on Stafford County, Virginia’s role in the Civil War and would have knowledge of the Union encampments. “If he doesn’t know it, nobody knows it.”

The White Oak Museum is one of those little gems of privately run museums that can usually be found near major Civil War battlefield sites. Located off the beaten path, about six miles east of Falmouth center down Route 218, “the museum exits to remember and honor the soldiers, from private to general, who suffered both in battle and in this area’s camps.”

When I entered the museum, housed in a former one room school house, I was greeted by the quizessential Southern belle, D.P.’s mother. Gracious, friendly, and blessed with a refined Southern drawl, she directed me to D.P., who was outside, engaged in the task, along with others, of raising a Sibley tent. The tent was part of a small recreation of winter quarters utilized by soldiers in the Fredericksburg area during the winter of 1862-1863.

After a brief introduction, during which time I stated my purpose in making the visit, i.e. to find information on Union camps in the area, D.P. asked if I could wait while he finished the tent. I had the impression that he was not necessary enthused by my presence, because he initially told me I could go online and find a map outlining where Union brigades were located. Occasionally he paused to ask a question and his demeanor seemed to change when I answered affirmatively that I had relatives in the 18th Massachusetts Infantry. He took to calling my great-great-great-grandfather my “great granddaddy,” and knew off the top of his head that the 18th had been in the same brigade as the 118th Pennsylvania.

During the time I waited for D.P., I took up conversation with two individuals. One was a Confederate re-enactor who asked me for the time. When I asked if he carried a pocket watch, he fell into character and informed me that only officers carried pocket watches.

I suppose because I’m terrible in remembering names, I didn’t ask the second gentleman his. But he told a fascinating story of owning a home built in 1808 that served as the headquarters for the 20th Massachusetts Infantry during their winter stay in Falmouth. The house, which is now a part of the National Register of Historic Homes, quartered about 25 members of “Bloody F,” or Company F, in it’s attic, while other members of the regiment stayed on lower floors. The attic still bears evidence of graffiti. Even in those days the men wanted to say in their own way “Kilroy was here.” One private, after purchasing a clothing stencil from a Sutler, twice attempted to ink his initials next to a peg he had driven into a brick wall, the peg being used to hold his belongings. The ink bled into the brick, possibly obscuring the identity of that Kilroy, until he made one last attempt and successfully traced his initials with a knife, carving them into a window sill. The soldier, according to the home’s owner, survived the war, but died shortly after returning to his home in Maine of war related illnesses.

Sibley successfully raised and anchored, I followed D.P. back to the museum, where he pulled out maps and notebooks, pointing to the area that the 18th and the first brigade of the first division of the 5th Corps would have lived. Although he couldn’t be certain, he rendered the opinion that the 18th was tented closest to the trash dump. Better the trash dump than the sinks, I suppose. He had explored the area and said there was still evidence of depressions in the earth where the regiments had built their camps and announced to his mother that he was going to show me where my “great granddaddy” had lived for a time in his life.

The National Park Service Ranger didn’t exaggerate in his claim about D.P. The scope of the Union encampments at Falmouth boggles the mind. You don’t get a sense of how far they stretched until driving down backroads with D.P. pointing out that the Sixth Corps was located there, the first division of the Second Corps there, Sickles Corps there, the Ninth Corps there, the second and third divisions of the Fifth Corps miles beyond the White Oak Museum. All this off the top of D.P.’s head. His roots in Stafford County reach to the late 1600’s and he pointed out that Stafford County contributed more men to the Confederate cause based on population than any county in the South. D.P. admitted that he doesn’t study Civil War battles and is not particularly interested in the military or political practicalities of those days, but he is interested in the common soldier and has a particular interest in reading diaries. He also has empathy for the hardships encountered by the men who endured in the camps, thus his efforts to recreate those camps and conditions at his museum.

The first brigade, including the 18th Massachusetts, was encamped off Ashleigh Road. A dirt road leads to the site, but a chain and no trespassing signs block access to exploring the site. D.P. thought a family named Brown owned the land and we discussed the possibility he could find an address for me. If successful on that end I’ll write the owner and request permission to enter his property.

That was one of D.P.’s laments, how land is being lost to developers, how twenty years ago locals had free reign of fields and woods and no one seemed to care. Now, it seems like no one knows who owns what or who you would need to get permission from to roam like they did as kids. It was ironic, as D.P. pointed out, that the homebuilders were erecting new dwellings on the very parcels that men in blue and grey uniforms sat on while drinking their coffee or spitting their tobacco juice onto.

That evening at 6 p.m. I was standing, flashlight in hand, with a fairly large group of people at the entrance to the National Cemetery at Fredericksburg. The Park Service was sponsoring a candlelight tour of the Sunken Road and this was the inaugural event. As Greg Mertz, a Park Service Ranger, told me the next day, the tour was a dry run for next year’s 145th anniversary observance of the battle.

The tour began with an overview of the battle, told from the perspective of thoughts recorded by soldiers on the night before the full-scale bloodletting began. One Confederate soldier, returning from a scouting trip beyond the Sunken Road, unnerved a group of raw recruits by informing them that when the sun rose in the morning they would see such things as they had never dreamt about.

The tour now moved uphill, through the cemetery, the path outlined by luminaries. On the summit of Marye’s Heights the narrator changed and there were more tales of men wracked by doubt and fear in the quiet and darkness. It was remarked that the temperature on this night approximated that of the 12th and 13th, one hundred and forty-four years ago. With each sweep of the second hand around the dial the wind seemed to increase slightly and the night air became cooler. On the summit we heard tell of a Massachusetts native who had moved to New Orleans seeking his fortune prior to war. When open hostilities broke out he enlisted in the Washington Artillery and on the 13th of December, 1862, found himself helping to fire shot, shell, and canister on men who might very well have been former neighbors or distantly related. It’s unknown how long he swabbed down the barrel of his gun, but it is known that after being warned by his Lieutenant not to expose himself to Union gunfire and dismissing the warning he fell dead with a gunshot wound to the head.

At the Kirkland Memorial, which stands on hallowed ground at the bottom of Marye’s Heights, we were given the Union version. Those vignettes told of the aftermath, of Union dead that littered the ground like so many leaves in the fall, of men desperately crying for help and most importantly for water. With no greatcoats, no blankets, no food, and fearing to move, the Union living hunkered down under a harsh wind, some piling the bodies of their dead comrades closer to them to form some semblance of a windbreak for warmth. Aside from the wounded, those who suffered most were those who had either accidentally or through orders earlier that day entered four feet of water that filled a sluiceway and were still sopping wet. There was a tale of identifying and recovering the body of a New Hampshire colonel by his men, who crawled through mud, around and over bodies, touching as they went forward, searching with their hands for epaulets and a telling hole blown through their colonel’s chest by an artillery shell and after confirming their find by reaching into the wound, carried his body back to Union lines for burial.

When the tour was over I found myself alone on the Sunken Road, pebbles crunching underneath the slow stride of my boots, reflecting on the same quiet that would have blanketed Fredericksburg that night, December 12, 1862. I reflected on the fact that I knew the realities and horrors that would follow the next day for thousands of men. The furies were to break loose that next day, hell would rain certain from the sky, ground, and horizon, but for that one last night mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, sons, and daughters in distant places would take to their dreams the light of those still living and, who, on the morrow would be no more.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Killed in Action
Eli Atwood
Luthan Blake
Darius R. Clark
Ephraim L. Conant
Thomas Donovan
James B. Hancock
John E. Howe
Jonathan H. Keyes
Frederick G. Pruden
George C. Ruby
Samuel M. Ryder
George D. Snow
Edward Turner
Walter Weston
Angus W. Young
George Young

Died of Wounds
John Bryant
Andrew A. Cole
Joseph W. Collingwood
Henry H. Gardner
Andrew Hill
Horace H. Hosmer
Daniel Leahy
Marston S. Morse
Henry F. Packard
Morrill Perkins
George H. Swift
Cyrus D. Tewksbury
Henry M. Warren

Wounded in Action
William M.E. Adams
Charles Atkins
Henry W. Barnes
Nathaniel S. Barry
Albert W. Barton
George W. Bates
Benjamin Battles
James Bennett
Isaac Benson
Ezra K. Bly
Howland S. Bonney
Jesse H. Briggs
Michael Burns
Edward Cain
Henry Chandler, Jr.
Ezra S. Chase
James Chubbuck
Parvin Clapp, Jr.
Freeman Clark
James Clements
Henry D. Clemons
George N.B. Cousens
Eugene S. Covert
Edward Coyle
John E. Cullen
Thomas Curran
James E. Cushman
Charles H. Damon
James E. Damon
John D. Damon
William R. Damon
John Dolan
Jacob Doremus
Charles H. Drew
Patrick O. Dulinty
Daniel Dwyer
Thomas Ford
John Foster
Philemon Fuller
John D. Gardner
Jesse C. Gifford
Thomas H. Griffin
Otis S. Guild
Andrew Hall
Larnett H. Hammond
Christopher T. Hanley
Edward Harrington
Levi Hawkes
Joseph B. Head
William G. Hewins
Henry A. Hixon
John F. Hogan
Richard H. Holmes
William Holmes
Alonzo Howard
Francis M. Howe
Caleb Howland
John Q. Jacobs
Patrick Kennedy
Henry Keyes
Washington King
Edgar B. Lake
John Lewis
William E. Loner
Lucas Longendyck
Franklin W. Luce
George W. Mann
Jacob Maxim
Timothy McCarty
Albert F. Mellen
John Mullen
Martin Mullen
John W. Nelson
Michael Nolan
Richard F. O'Connell
Patrick O'Donnell
Thomas B. Pratt
Christopher C. Redding
George R. Reed
Milton Reed
Nicholas H.F. Richardson
Warren A. Richardson
Andrew W. Russell
Charles D. Shaw
Henry Shaw
Hiram F. Sherman
Charles W. Simpson
Willard M. Simpson
Zenas Skinner
Earl T. Smith
Frederick H. Smith
William D. Smith
Aaron H. Snell
Edward Southworth
Benjamin F. Sowle
Abner L. Stetson
George H. Stevens
Albert W. Sturdy
Jesse L. Swift
Harrison O. Thomas
Charles H. Thompson
Charles Tolman
Ebenezer R. Tripp
Louis N. Tucker
Seth C. Vickery
William S. Walker
Lewis S. Weston
Thomas P. Wetherby
Edmund Whalley
John White
Eugene Whiting
Isaac C. Whittemore
William H. Winsor
Naaman W. Witherell
George R. Wixon

Monday, December 11, 2006

What’s in a date?

Depends on who you ask but it is guaranteed, every day is special for someone.

Today is no different.

I was wondering what I would find if I searched for today’s date in our database of the 18th Massachusetts. It took no less than 30 seconds to find a match and ten seconds later, I found another. I wonder how many other matches I might find if I looked in deeper, checking out the other dates?

I don’t think I will though. I will stop with what I have found – it seems like I should share what I have found.

You see, for these two soldiers, December 11th is the last day that they took part in this earth. For them; it is the anniversary of their death and I am sure it has not been remembered for quite some time.

So today will also be the day that we remember them, for that seems like a better way to celebrate this day.

Edward E. Luther: born in Taunton, MA, the son of John and __ (Goff) Luther, who were born in Ireland. At age 20 he married Jane Barker, age 22 and the daughter of James, at Taunton on July 21, 1857. They were the parents of Ella F., born April 25, 1858; twins Anna M. and Emma T., born Jan. 12, 1864; and Ida M., born Jan. 17, 1870. Luther was a 26 year old Moulder from Taunton, when he enlisted at Dedham, MA on August 19, 1861 and was mustered into the 18th Mass. Infantry on August 24, 1861 as a Private in Co. G. Per Company G records, he stood 5 ft. 7-1/2 in. tall, with brown hair, grey eyes, and light complexion. He was discharged due to disability at Hall's Hill, VA on Dec. 24, 1861. Following his military service, Luther resided at Taunton, Readville, North Adams, and Fall River, MA, where he was employed in cotton mills. He applied for an Invalid pension on Apr. 22, 1887 and received benefits of $8.00 per month under Certificate #: 396491, due to disability from heart disease. Luther, age 65 and a Mill Overseer, died of heart disease at Fall River, MA on Dec. 11, 1890. His wife Jane applied for a Widow's pension on Dec. 17, 1900 and was issued benefits of $12 per month under Certificate #: 513917. Jane Luther died at Fall River, MA on May 24, 1926.

Patrick Henry Flynn: born Aug. 15, 1843 in Borcenes, County Meath, Ireland, the son of Thomas and Mary (Savage) Flynn. He was an 18 year old Weaver from Dedham, MA, when he enlisted at Quincy, MA on and was mustered into the 18th Mass. Infantry on August 24, 1861 as a Private in Co. K. He was discharged due to disability, due to curvature of the spine, at Washington, DC on May 26, 1862. Following his military service, Flynn resided at Dedham until 1866, then in Lowell, MA until 1868, and permanently in Lawrence from 1868, being employed as a sewing machine agent. He married Caroline Frances Donovan at St. Francis de Sales Church, Roxbury, MA on Sept. 9, 1866. She was born Oct. 14, 1843 at Whitefield, ME, the daughter of Daniel and Mary (Sheehy) Donovan, both born in Ireland. Patrick and Caroline were the parents of three children, Florence Mary, born Aug. 1, 1868; Gertrude Frances, born May 27, 1871; and Caroline Elizabeth, born June 2, 1873. Flynn attended the Regiment's 40th Anniversary Dinner at Norwell, MA in 1901. He applied for an Invalid pension on August 28, 1906 and received initial benefits of $6.00 per month under Certificate #: 1127939, due to a partial inability to earn a support by manual labor. Flynn, age 72, died of a heart aneurysm at his home, 111 Haverhill St., Lawrence, MA on Dec. 11, 1915 and was buried at St. Mary's Tomb, Lawrence. His wife Caroline applied for a Widow's pension on Dec. 31, 1915 and was issued initial benefits of $12 per month under Certificate #: 804208. Caroline Flynn, age 81, died due to pneumonia at her home, 312 Lowell St., Lawrence, MA on Feb. 3, 1922 and was buried Immaculate Conception Cemetery, Metheun, MA.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Donald sent a note that he is off to the Battle of Fredericksburg Anniversary this weekend and plans to have several postings up next week about his adventures.

He always comes back with interesting stories and this year instead of just sharing with Steve and me, he’ll be talking about it here too. One of the things he does during the ceremony is lay a wreath in memory of the soldiers of the 18th - if you are at the ceremony be sure to check it out

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dimitri over at Civil War Bookshelf, touched on the massive amount of pages that fill the appendixes in Gettysburg Gospel
The Lincoln Speech that Nobody Knows
by Gabor Boritt. It was something I was going to touch on once done with the book but since he beat me to it, I thought I would quickly comment on it.

To give you some background, the book comes in at 415 pages, divided into

  • Writing – 206 pages
  • Picture Inserts – 16 pages
  • Appendixes – 86 pages
  • Notes – 83 pages
  • Bibliographical Note and Acknowledgements – 26 pages
  • Index – 12 pages

So, yes – you get more supporting facts and documents than you do original writing.

And when I first got the book, this fact slightly disturbed me – at least until I started reading the book and the appendixes.

Boritt goes into great detail to give the reader the perspective of what Lincoln’s speech would be – second fiddle to Edward Everett’s - one of, if not the best known speech givers at the time - Oration. Although Lincoln was a celebrity and received with great fanfare, most that came to hear the speeches, were expecting great things from Mr. Everett.

And as you read more and more about what was to come of the day, you realize, you need to read what Everett said before Lincoln would give his speech. You also come to find that there are different versions, and Boritt uses the Appendixes to show the differences in detail.

Thinking about it, the book becomes almost two. The first is the telling of a story, while the second his more historical in nature. The first seems to be what so many of us want to read while the second, well that is what we have come to expect out of our Civil War books.

So we just might have our first hybrid, giving us one book that everyone can complain isn’t done right. Except for me – I’m liking the book a lot.
I received an email from a publisher a few days ago concerning a fictional Civil War tale titled Hearts of Stone by Kathleen A. Ernst. I am a bit behind on reading so had already decided to hold off on anything new, until I read the bit where it was mentioned that the book was aimed towards young adults.

Before anyone makes any cracks about this, I know I left myself wide open, it intrigued me because I just happen to have a preteen who likes to read young adult books. So I replied to the email, stating that although I would love to help them spread the word, I wanted to try an experiment – let my oldest do a review. They thought it was a great idea and have sent a copy.

The only thing is, I didn’t ask my son about it first. So, I thought I would tell him about it. So I had him read the following summary and asked if he would like to do a review to put on the Blog. His response was he would love to read the book and do a review, but what is a review?

I explained it was a book report of sorts and he thought it was a great idea but has a hard time with book reports, so I volunteered to help him to. So instead of getting out of some work, I may have just added quite a bit for myself. Oh well, it will be Civil War bonding time between the two of us.

He told me as soon as he got the book; he would start reading it a chapter a day, so expect that Book Report, I mean review, soon.

With her father gone to join the Yankee troops and her best friend, Ben, sympathizing with the Confederates, fifteen year-old Hannah finds her world torn apart by the Civil War. Then her mother suddenly dies. Now responsible for holding the young family together, Hannah makes the difficult decision to leave her beloved Cumberland Mountain with her brother and sisters and set out on the long and dangerous journey to Nashville, in search of their only living relative. Their quest to reclaim their family leads them into the very heart of the Civil War, and could cost them their lives.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

My home computer decided to reject it's motherboard and I just got it replaced.

I'll have two posts in the morning and some others planned for later in the week.


Friday, December 01, 2006

While reading THE SOLDIER’S PEN: Firsthand Impressions of the Civil War- , (I swear there will be a review up soon but trust me this is a real good book to get) one thing that was noticeable throughout the war was the desire to hear from home and keep a deep connection to family and friends over the long distance. The hundreds of letters from the men of the 18th Massachusetts that I have read over the years are no different and asked for the same thing.

And now, almost 145 years later, at a time when we are at war and our soldiers are so far away, they ask for the exact same thing.

I recently received the following email from Lee Ann Newton who is a career military spouse of 22 years. Her husband, MSG James G. Newton has been serving with the Army for 22 years, currently in a supporting role to those going overseas.

She describes this need so well, she will take over most of the rest of the post.

I have started Operation Christmas Care and it is taking off. Our goal is to get as many Christmas cards as possible to send to the soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wounded currently in the hospitals.

Can you please send the following message to any press you can think of as well as schools in your area and those on your email lists.

For now all cards can be sent directly to my home address - we will have an Army Reserve site by next week but don't have the address yet.

This idea was sparked by my friends nephew Josh Bleill who lost both of his legs in Iraq in a roadside bomb on Oct. 15th. His sister Julie has kept a blog going every day during his return to the states and his mulitple surgeries, celebrity visits etc.

It seems that the top two things on the soldiers list are letters and cards, letting them know they are not forgotten and dvd players, movies and hand-held games.

If anyone wants to make this type of donation - again we will be using my address this week and the reserve unit next week and thereafter. I am trying to really get this going as it takes a while to get the cards and things boxed and sent overseas.

The burn unit at Fort Sam Houston will be receiving some of these as well as Walter Reed and Bethesda (these are the first hospitals the wounded are brought too.)

Anything you can do to further our cause will be most appreciated.

I would encourage you to do two things

  • Contact Lee Ann by emailing her at and send a box of cards to her
  • Help spread the word by emailing her above plea to everyone you know. For once, Spam is a good thing.

Lee Ann, I would like to thank you for doing this. It is truly a noble cause.
Our First Annual win your own Civil War Christmas present contest has been extended!

It seems that some of you do not want to be beat by a 9 year old after all. We had five entries put in yesterday and I received quite a few requests asking that we extend the contest in order to give some people more time.

With that in mind, the new deadline will be December 7, 2006. Those that have already sent in entries will be allowed to resubmit their entries to allow them to take advantage of the extra week.

For more information the contest, rules and how to submit (deadline for submissions is now December 7 - midnight) please go here.
Those that have already sent in entries will be allowed to resubmit their entries to allow them to take advantage of the extra week and have been notified of such.

Oh, and mysterious CWI TWIB reviewer that so craves the mug, make sure you get that entry in so you can have a shot at it. And trust me it is much better to drink out of it than try to sell on eBay. I can’t even guess how many posts were written while I drank out of it.