Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Burning New York

Eight Confederate operatives tried to burn New York City on November 25th 1864.

It was near the end of the war when the “Confederate Army of Manhattan” hatched a plan to make their way from Canada into New York City, with the plan to overwhelm the city’s fire fighting force. November 25th was a Friday night, and the eight southerns tried to start fires at PT Barnum’s Museum, nineteen hotels and a theater. The fires were quickly put out, or failed to start all together. Seven of the eight escaped, except for Robert Cobb Kennedy who was caught in January of 1865 in Detroit while trying to get into Richmond,VA from Canada. He was tried, found guilty and executed March 25th 1865 at Fort Lafayette in New York

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Part of Minnesota's Best

On November 23rd 1861 the Minnesota 2nd Sharpshooters were organized in St Paul, Minnesota. These men were mustered in to Union service in March of 1862, and moved to Washington DC April 21 - 26. They found themselves assigned to duty with the 1st Minnesota Infantry [when they were known as Company “L”] and were with them at the Gettysburg.

This unit saw service at New Bridge May 24th 1862, Hanover Court House May 27-29, Richmond June 25-July 1, Peach Orchard, Allen's Farm, and Savage Station June 29, White Oak Swamp and Glendale June 30, Malvern Hill July 1 and August 5, Harrison's Landing, Alexandria August 16-28, Centerville August 30, they covered Pope's retreat to Washington, D.C., September 1-2, Chantilly and Flint Hill September 1, Vienna September 2, Maryland Campaign September 6-22, Battles of South Mountain September 14, Antietam September 16-17, Harper's Ferry September 22, and duty there until October 30, reconnaissance of Charlestown October 16-17, Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15, In 1863 they were at the Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6, Franklin's Crossing April 29-May 2, Battle of Maryes Heights, Fredericksburg May 3, Salem Heights May 3-4, Haymarket June 25, Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 1-3, Pursuit of Lee to Manassas Gap, Va., July 5-24. At Kelly's Ford, Va., July 31-August 15, they were detached for duty in New York during draft disturbances August 15-September 16, Bristoe Station October 14, Rappahannock November 7-8, Kelly's Ford until November 26, Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2, Camp at Stevensburg. In 1864, Campaign from the Rapidan to the James River May 3-June 15, Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Spotsylvania May 8-12; Spotsylvania Court House May 12-21; North Anna River May 23-26. On line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor June 1-12, Petersburg June 16, 1864, to March 19, 1865. The men who were left mustered out March 19, 1865 most were transferred to 1st Minnesota Battalion Infantry.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

First Fight For the Sea

The Battle of Griswoldville; the first battle fought during Sherman’s March to the Sea occurred on November 22nd 1864.

Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler was leading a detachment of cavalry on the morning of November 22nd 1864 when they engaged the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry on Gordon Road. The 9th charged, driving the Rebels back about mile and across a creek. Here the Confederates regrouped and made an advance on the Union 9th and the 5th Kentucky Cavalry. At this time the Union Cavalry was joined by Brigadier General Charles Walcutt’s Infantry. The Infantry was able to push the Confederates back through Griswoldville.

At this point command of the Union soldiers fell to Brigadier General Charles R Woods. He took up position at the edge of the woods on the Duncan farm, with an open field to his front. At about 2pm Wheeler’s cavalry along with Brigadier General Pleasant J Philips’ Georgia militia and a battery of artillery attacked. The Rebels advanced reaching a ravine about seventy-five yard from Walcutt’s position, under heavy canister fire. They tried to turn the in the Union flanks, but failed having to retreat into the ravine, from which they withdrew after darkness fell.

There were an estimated 712 casualties [62 Union and 650 Confederate], including General Walcutt who was wounded in the first part of the engagement.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Ivys

On the 8th of November 1861 in Floyd Co, KY the Battle of Ivy Mountain [aka Ivy Creek or Ivy Narrows] was fought.

The Confederates under Col John Stuart Williams were in Kentucky recruiting. They were running short on ammunition while at Prestonsburg,KY and so went to replenish their supply at Pikeville,KY. The Union General William “Bull” Nelson started out from Prestonsburg with a large number of troops in the attempt to intercept the Rebels. Col Williams hoping to gain time to evacuate to Virginia, sent out a force of cavalry to meet the Union force.

The two opposing forces came together northeast of Pikeville in-between Ivy Creek and Ivy Mountain. The Confederates surprised the Federal soldiers at a narrow point in the road, firing upon the bottled up ranks. During lulls in the fighting the Rebels felled tree into the road and burnt bridges, to slow up the movement of Gen Nelson’s men. With night coming, the obstruction, and a rain beginning to fall the Union troops settled into camp for the night. Col Williams used the time to retreat into Abingdon,VA.

For further reading I recommend

Friday, November 7, 2008

The First Test of Leadership

General Ulysses S Grant’s first test in Civil War combat came on November 7th 1861 in Mississippi County, Missouri at the Battle of Belmont.

Grant sailed from Cairo, Illinois to make a demonstration on the river fortress at Columbus, Kentucky held by the Confederates on November 6th 1861. He learned the next day that the Confederates had crossed the river to Belmont, Missouri. At about 8:30 on the morning of November 7th 1861, the Union force disembarked about three miles north of Belmont, where they would be out of range of the batteries at Columbus. They marched into town and formed a battle line in a cornfield about a mile out of town. The battle line consisted of the 22nd, 31st, 30th, 27th Illinois, the 7th Iowa and a company of cavalry. The Confederate battle line was formed on a low ridge to the northwest of the Belmont camp, and was made up of the 12th, 22nd, 21st, 13th Tennessee and 13th Arkansas Infantry under General Gideon Pillow.

After a morning of back and forth fighting, the Confederate line began to collapse. What began as an orderly retreat, became panic when Union guns started bombing the retreating troops. The 31st IL sent in a large volley killing many of the Confederate soldiers. Grant stayed to the front, leading his troops even having a horse shot out from under him. After the battle in order to regain control of his troop who were plundering the Confederate camp, Grant ordered it set on fire. In the smoke and confusion several wounded men in some of the tents were accidentally burnt to death.

The Confederates claimed the victory at Belmont, which was a rather inconclusive battle, and of no real strategic importance. The losses where 641 Confederate to the Unions 607 casualties.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Last Confederate

The last Confederates surrendered on November 6th 1865, the CSS Shenandoah which had circumnavigated to globe.

The CSS Shenandoah began life on the River Clyde in Scotland where she was designed as a British transport. The Government of the Confederacy bought her in 1864, and she sailed out of London on October 8th of that year. The ship and her crew went out to intercept ships on the West Coast, Latin America, and in the Far East. It wasn't until August 1865 that the crew of the Shenandoah learned from a British ship that the Civil War had ended four months earlier.

The HMS Donegal excepted what would be that last surrender of the Civil War from Captain James I Waddell of the CSS Shenandoah. She had been at sea for one year, and 17 days, and traveled 58,000 miles, having the honor of flying the Confederate flag for the first and only time around the globe.