Saturday, August 30, 2014

A South Carolinian

Confederate Colonel John Hugh Means, the 64th Governor of South Carolina was killed in action August 30th 1862 at the Second Battle of Manassas.

John Hugh Means was born August 18th 1812 in the Fairfield District of South Carolina. He attended the Mount Zion College in Winnsboro, before graduating from South Carolina College in 1832. He was a part of the planter class, and an outspoken supporter of State’s Rights. Means was elected the Governor of South Carolina in 1850, and he presided over the state convention of 1852, which passed the resolution stating that South Carolina had a right to secede. He used his time in office to increase the funding of the state militia.

In 1860 Means signed the Ordinance of Secession. He enrolled in the Confederate Army as the Colonel of the 17th South Carolina Infantry.  They saw action during the Peninsula Campaign. The 17th was part of Confederate General James Longstreet’s Corps, and was part of the right flank at the Second Battle of Manassas. Means was killed in action on August 30th 1862 [I have found his death listed at August 29th, 30th, 31st, and September 1st]

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Final Escort

The 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry was organized August 29th 1861 at Camp Cameron, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry was made up of twelve companies recruited mostly from southeast and southcentral Pennsylvania. The regiment was organized near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at Camp Cameron on August 29th 1861. After being trained the regiment was moved to Kentucky, where it became part of the Department of the Cumberland. In March they were ordered to Tennessee, where they tangled with Confederate John Hunt Morgan. They were reassigned to the Union Army of the Ohio, where they saw a small amount of action at the Battle of Perryville in October 1862. During the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863 they guarded the right flank of the Union army, and following the rout there, the 9th stayed and fought with Union General George Thomas.

In April 1864 the 9th’s enlistment was up. The men who re-enlisted took a furlough to go home and recruit. They would reform and see action that fall in Kentucky and Tennessee. When Union General William T Sherman began his march, the 9th was included, seeing action in the Battle of Griswoldville. On April 17th 1865 the 9th was part of the escort for Union General Sherman when he went to meet Confederate General Joseph E Johnston at the Bennett Farm to discuss surrender. Following the ending of the war the 9th was mustered out at Lexington, Kentucky.

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.