Wednesday, July 23, 2014

End Of The Campaign

A part of Confederate General Robert E Lee’s retreat back into Virginia following the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of Manassas Gap, or the Battle of Wapping Heights was fought July 23rd 1863 in Warren County, Virginia.

After the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia retreated to and crossed the Potomac River at Williamsport, Maryland. With the Union Army of the Potomac in pursuit, Union Major General George G Meade made a flanking move into the Loudoun Valley and the Confederates rear.  Meade ordered the Union III Corps commanded by Major General William H French to cut off the Confederate columns retreat at Front Royal, Virginia by forcing a passage through the Manassas Gap.

At dawn on July 23rd 1863 French ordered an attack against the troops of Confederate Brigadier General Ambrose R Wright’s Georgians, who were defending the Gap. With Union Brigadier General Francis B Spinola using his larger numbers the commander of the Excelsior Brigade pushed Wright’s men back through the Gap by the late afternoon. Wright was reinforced by Confederate Major General Robert E Rodes’ division.

As darkness fell the Union attack stalled out. During the night the Confederate troops withdrew into the Luray Valley.  The Union army occupied Front Royal, Virginia the next morning, but the Confederate army had moved beyond pursuit. This was the last action in the Gettysburg Campaign.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The First Of The Seven Days

The Battle of Oak Grove in Virginia was the first of the Seven Days’ Battles which began on June 25th 1862.

Oak Grove was an important location for the siege of Richmond during the Peninsula campaign. Union Major General George B McClellan advanced his line on June 25th 1862 along the Williamsburg Road, with the plan of getting his guns in range of Richmond, Virginia. McClellan’s troops attacked over swampy ground, with darkness ending the fighting. The battle wasn't strong enough to stop the Confederate offensive, and the next day Confederate General Robert E Lee attacked Union troops at Mechanicville.

The Union troops at Oak Grove advanced less than a mile at a cost of 626 dead, wounded and missing, with Joseph Hooker’s division baring the brunt of the attack. The Confederate losses were 441.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Barbarism

United States Senator Charles Sumner delivered a speech on June 4th 1860 entitled “The Barbarism of Slavery”.

United States Senator Charles Sumner had been missing from the Senate Chambers for four years, after having been beaten almost to death by South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks.  The speech titled “The Barbarism of Slavery” delivered on June 4th 1860 was the last speech made in Congress before the Civil War, and until emancipation was discussed.  It was covered in its entirety in the leading newspapers, as well as being issued in several pamphlets.

If you wish to read the speech it can be found at The barbarism of slavery: speech of Hon. Charles Sumner

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Political Military Leader

Union Colonel Peter Augustus Porter was killed June 3rd 1864 in the Battle of Cold Harbor.

Peter Augustus Porter was born July 14th 1827 in Black Rock, New York the son of Peter Buell Porter.  He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1857, as well as studying abroad in Europe.  Porter was an elected to the New York State Assembly in 1862.

On July 7th 1862 Porter was appointed the Colonel of the 129th New York Infantry, which would be renamed the 8th New York Heavy Artillery.  They were placed on duty guarding the forts that ringed Washington, DC.  On September 5th 1863 Porter was nominated to the office of New York Secretary of State, but declined to stay with the military.  In May 1864 the 8th along with Porter were ordered to join the Army of Potomac and General Ulysses S Grant’s Wilderness Campaign.

At the Battle of Cold Harbor on June 3rd 1864, Porter was killed while leading his men.  He was found to have been shot six times.  Two nights later, during a rain storm, five men from the 8th went out under fire and got their Colonel’s body; bring it back into Union lines.  Porter’s body was taken to Baltimore, Maryland where it was met by military escort.  A Chaplain accompanied the body back to his home, where he was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Reduced In Numbers

Gen Edmund K Smith
Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith surrendered what was left of his troops on June 2nd 1865 at Galveston, Texas.

The Confederacy was reduced by the end of May to the Department of Trans Mississippi including the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Some this territory was even held by the Union at this point.  The commander of this Department was Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith.  Smith had a few thousand troops, most of them located in Texas.  On May 20th 1865 Smith moved his headquarters to Houston, Texas from Shreveport, Louisiana in preparation of defending Texas.  However he lost hundreds of men to desertion every day, as people felt the war was over.

Smith could see the end was coming and May 26th 1865 he agreed to terms proposed by Union General Edward R S Canby.  With terms similar to those offered to other Confederate military leaders, Smith agreed to surrender his Department on June 2nd 1865 at Galveston, Texas.  Following the surrender Smith went into exile in Mexico and Cuba.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Their New Colonel

The 5th United States Infantry was stationed in New Mexico when on June 1st 1863 it officially got its new Colonel; Union Major General John F Reynolds, he would not take command.

The 5th United States Infantry traces its origins back to 1808, however technically the regiment was created March 3rd 1815 by an Act of Congress reducing the Regular Army from 46 infantry and 4 rifle regiments with the ending of the War of 1812, to peace time numbers of 8 infantry.  Six old regiments were consolidated into the 5th, and placed under command of Colonel James Miller.

In the spring of 1861 when the Civil War got started, the 5th was ordered to concentrate at Albuquerque, New Mexico for a move east.  But, with some Western Departmental pressure placed on Washington, DC, the 5th was left on the frontier.  When Confederates from Texas invaded New Mexico in early 1862, four companies of the 5th were the rear Union guard at Valverde on February 21st 1862, in which the Confederates were victorious.  Two other companies captured a field piece on March 28th 1862 at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, defeating the Confederates.

On June 1st 1863 the 5th received a new Colonel, Union Major General John F Reynolds.  He was of course on detached service commanding volunteers with the Army of the Potomac, and was killed one month later at the Battle of Gettysburg.  After Reynolds’ death the army appointed another Army of the Potomac general, Daniel Butterfield to be the Colonel of the 5th, but he also was wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg, and would not join the regiment while the war was going on.

The 5th would remain throughout the Civil War on frontier duty watching for another Confederate attack. After the war ended the 5th was transferred to the east moving to Fort Riley in Kansas.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

He Changed His Position

Confederate Colonel Robert Hopkins Hatton was killed May 31st 1862 at the Battle of Fair Oaks [also called the Battle of Seven Pines].

Robert Hopkins Hatton was born November 2nd 1826 in Steubenville, Ohio.  While still a child his family moved to Tennessee.  He would receive a degree from the Cumberland University, pass the bar and begin a law practice in Lebanon, Tennessee in 1850.  He became a member of the Whig Party and won a seat in the Tennessee State Legislature in 1855 and to the United States Congress in 1858.  While in Congress Hatton was the chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Navy.

Hatton wished to see the Union preserved and opposed secession, but after President Abraham Lincoln made his call for troops Hatton changed his position.  He raised the Lebanon Blues, which became a part of the 7th Tennessee Infantry, and was elected the Colonel of the Regiment.  In 1862 Hatton and the 7th were part of the troops protecting Richmond, Virginia from Union Major General George B McClellan during the Peninsula Campaign.

On May 31st 1862 while leading troops at the Battle of Fair Oaks, Hatton was shot in the head and killed.  His body was sent back to Tennessee, but as Middle Tennessee was held by the Union his body was temporarily placed in Knoxville.  He would be reentered in 1866 in the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Lebanon, Tennessee.