Thursday, October 29, 2009

He Moved To Slow

Major General George Brinton McClellan died October 29th 1885.

George B McClellan was born December 3rd 1826 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. He was the son of Dr George McClellan and Elizabeth Steinmetz (Brinton) McClellan. McClellan began at the University of Pennsylvania in 1840, to study the law, but two years latter he decided on military service. His father got President John Tyler to write a letter to West Point and McClellan was admitted there in 1842. McClellan closest friends while at West Point were James Stuart and A P Hill. He graduated second in his class of 59. He created the Army of the Potomac at the beginning of the Civil War, but moved to slowly battle for Abraham Lincoln and was replaced early in the war. He ran for President against Lincoln in 1864.

After the Civil War was over McClellan took his family for a long trip to Europe. Upon his return to the United States the Democratic Party showed interest in his running for president again. He went on to be the Chief Engineer of the New York City deptartment of Docks, and the President of the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad. In 1877 McClellan was nominated for the Governorship of New Jersey, and he served from 1878 to 1881. He worked hard to get Grover Cleveland elected President, hoping to be named Secretary of War in Cleveland’s cabinet.

His final years were spent traveling and writing about his military career. He died at the age of 58 after having had chest pains for several weeks at his home in Orange New Jersey. At 3am on the October 29th 1885 he spoke his final words, saying “I feel easy now. Thank you.” He is buried in the Riverview Cemetery in Trenton New Jersey.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Second Time At Fair Oaks

As a part of the Petersburg / Richmond Campaign, the Second Battle of Fair Oaks was fought on October 28th 1864.

Ulysses S Grant ordered an assault on Fair Oaks to draw attention from a larger Federal offensive around Petersburg. A combination of Union forces lead by Major General Benjamin Butler’s 10th attacked Confederate defenses along the Darbytown Road, and marched north to Fair Oaks. The Union troops were repulsed my Major General Charles W Field’s Confederate soldiers. The Rebels took some 600 Union soldiers prisoners with another 500 killed or wounded. The Confederates lost only 450. The diversion didn’t work as the Union troops failed to move around the end of the Confederate lines.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The L and N

The Louisville and Nashville Railroad made its first trip on October 27th 1859.

At first this line barely made it south of Louisville, Kentucky, but by the start of the Civil War there were about 250 miles of track. The strategic location of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, which ran along the Union and Confederate line made the railroad important to both sides. The lines were put into service by both armies, and there was a lot of damage from battle and sabotage. The L and N was lucky to find itself based in Kentucky, with Nashville falling into Union hands and remaining in there hands through out the war. There was profit to be made in hauling Union troops and supplies. After the war ended with most of the Louisville and Nashville’s southern competitors devastated, the company began an expansion that never really stopped.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Last Pony

Two days after the Transcontinental Telegraph reached Salt Lake City, on October 26th 1861 the Pony Express ended its run.

The Pony Express was founded by William H Russell, William B Waddell and Alexander Majors. It began moving the mail from ST Joseph Missouri to Sacramento California on April 3rd 1860. This mail service which operated for only 18 months; carried the mail on horseback across country in about ten days. From March 1861 the Pony Express only moved mail between Salt Lake City Utah and Sacramento. Once the telegraph reached Salt Lake City, it connected Sacramento with Omaha Nebraska, and the Pony Express stopped moving mail on October 26th 1861. The Pony Express lost over $200,000 while in operation. After the end of the Civil War in 1866 the assets of the Pony Express and the Butterfield Stage Company were sold to Wells Fargo for $1.5 million.

Other good web site for more information
Gold Rush Chronicles, The Pony Express

Pony Express History

Friday, October 16, 2009

Governor and Confederate Soldier

The ninth Governor of Texas, Francis Richard Lubbock was born on October 16th 1815 in South Carolina. He held the office during the Civil War.

Francis Richard Lubbock was born in Beaufort South Carolina, October 16th 1815, the oldest son of Dr Henry Thomas Willis and Susan Ann [Saltus] Lubbock. He moved to Texas in 1836, and was the Comptroller of the Republic of Texas under President Sam Houston. Lubbock a Democrat, was elected in 1857 to the office of Texas Lieutenant Governor, but was not reelected to the office. In 1861 with Texas joining the Confederacy Lubbock was elected Governor. He strongly supported the Confederate draft, including drafting aliens living in Texas. Lubbock made attempts to keep trade with Mexico open and established a foundry and percussion cap factory.

Lubbock’s term as Governor ended in 1863, and he joined the Confederate Army. He was appointed Lieutenant Colonel, serving under Major General John Bankhead Magruder. In August 1864 he was made the aide-de-camp for Jefferson Davis, whom he evacuated Richmond Virginia with at the end of the war. After being caught in Georgia by Union troops, he served eight months in solitary confinement in Fort Delaware.

After being paroled Lubbock returned to Texas, where he became a business man in the Houston and Galveston areas. He also served as the Texas State Treasure from 1878 to 1891, and on the Texas Board of Pardons under Governor James Hogg until he was eighty. Lubbock died in June 22nd 1905 in Austin Texas.

Monday, October 12, 2009

He Gave Up 17 Years To Free Slaves

Calvin Fairbank who spent over seventeen years in prison for abolitionist activities died on October 12th 1898.

Calvin Fairbank was born November 3rd 1816 in Pike, Wyoming, New York. During a Methodist meeting as a child he heard stories told by escaped slaves, of their lives and he became a strong abolitionist. In 1837 he began a career of freeing slaves, ferrying a slave across the Ohio river on a lumber raft. Fairbank became a Methodist minister in 1842. Planning to increase his education he enrolled in Oberlin College in 1844. Oberlin was a hot bed of anti-slavery belief.

In response to an appeal by escaped slave, Gilson Berry for someone to bring his wife and children to freedom, Fairbank set off for Lexington Kentucky. He linked up with Delia Webster, a teacher from Vermont who was going to assist with the escape. When Berry’s family failed to arrive at the meeting point, Fairbank and Webster helped the Lewis Hayden family to get safely to freedom across the Ohio River.

Fairbank returned to Kentucky were he arrested for helping the runaway slaves. He was tried in 1845 and sent to jail for fifteen years. He was given a pardon in 1849 only after the grateful Hayden raised money to pay off his former master. Then 1851 while helping a slave named Tamar to freedom in Indiana, the sheriff of Clark County Indiana and the Governor, helped marshals from Kentucky arrest Fairbank and transport him back to Kentucky for trail. He was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in the Kentucky penitentiary. It wasn’t until three years into the Civil War that the then acting Governor Richard T Jacob had Fairbank released.

After being freed from prison he married Mandana Tileston from Williamsburg Massachusetts. They had been engaged in 1851, and she had moved to Oxford Ohio to be close to Fairbank while he was in prison. She worked hard for Fairbank’s pardon with the Governor of Kentucky. Their only child a son was born in 1868.

The years spent in prison wrecked Fairbank’s health. He was not able to support his family even with jobs from missionary societies. In 1890 he wrote a book about his life called, “Rev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times: How He "Fought the Good Fight" to Prepare "the Way”. The book didn’t make much money and he died in poverty October 12th 1898 in Angelica New York. He is buried in the Until the Day Dawn Cemetery there. Fairbank is credited with helping forty-seven slaves find their way to freedom.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Day At The Races

The Battle of Tom’s Brook fought on October 9th 1864 was also known as The Woodstock Races for the speed at which the Confederate retreated from General Philip Sheridan’s Calvary.

Following a victory at Fisher’s Hill, Major General Philip H Sheridan chased Confederate General Jubal A Early’s troops through the Shenandoah Valley to near Staunton. Sheridan began pulling back north toward Cedar Creek on October 6th 1864, and had his cavalry destroy anything that could be used by the Confederacy, including barns and mills. Early was reinforced by General Joseph Kershaw division. Confederate General Thomas L Rosser took over command of Major General Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry. The Confederates harassed the Union soldiers as they retreated killing a number of them.

On October 9th 1864 the Union army turned on its Rebel hunters, routing two divisions at Tom’s Brook. The Union energetically chased the Confederates through the County seat of Woodstock, causing this battle to be jokingly called The Woodstock Races.. The victory in this Battle gave the Union an overpowering control of the Shenandoah Valley.

Another web site with more information about this battle The Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley, Battle of Toms Brook

Thursday, October 8, 2009

He Wrote The Songs

The Minstrel of Merrimack, Walter Kittredge was born October 8th 1834.

Walter Kittredge was born in Merrimack New Hampshire, the part known as Reed’s Ferry on October 8th 1834. He was the son of Eri and Lucretia [Woods] Kittredge. Kittredge was a self taught musician, making his first instrument from the stock of an onion. He became a traveling musician, performing along and with the minstrel Hutchinson Family Singers of Milford New Hampshire. Kittredge married in 1860 to Annie Fairfield and settled on a farm about a mile from where he grew up.

He was kept from Civil War military service do to a bout with Rheumatic Fever. He did his service through his music. Kittredge wrote over five hundred songs, including “When They Come Marching Home”, and “Tenting Tonight On The Old Camp Ground”. These were songs sung by both the Union and Confederate soldiers.

Kittredge held several government offices in Reed’s Ferry and was a founding member of the Thornton Grange in Merrimack. He sang his last song there at the 30th Anniversary meeting. Walter Kittredge died at this home July 8th 1905, and was buried in the Last Rest Cemetery in Merrimack New Hampshire. There is a bronze marker in the lobby of the New Hampshire State House in Concord in his memory.

For more information about Walter Kittredge and his songs
Tenting Tonight On The Old Camp Ground

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Small Part Of The Petersburg Campaign

The Battle of New Market and Darbytown, which was part of the greater Richmond - Petersburg Campaign occurred on October 7th 1864.

With an escalating Union threat on Richmond Virginia, General Robert E Lee responded to the loss of Fort Harrison from the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm. The Confederates on October 7th 1864 took an offensive on the far right Union flank. After pushing Union cavalry out of their position along the Darbytown Road, Robert Hoke and Charles W Fields’ divisions attacked the Union line along the New Market Road. The Union defenses was under the command of Brigadier General August V Kautz and Major General David B Birney. The Rebels were repulsed.

Following this action Lee withdrew his army back into the defenses of Richmond. The Confederate Brigadier General from Texas; John Gregg was killed during the battle.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Massacre At Baxter Springs

The Baxter Springs Massacre or Battle was fought on October 6th 1863 in Kansas.

Heading to Texas for a winter camp, William Quantrill’s Raiders; numbering about 400, were traveling south along the Texas Road in October 1863. The raiders captured two teamsters form the Union Fort Blair near Baxter Springs, and killed them. Quantrill ordered an attack on the Fort. He split his force in half, with part under his command and the other half under David Poole. Poole’s unit came across some Union soldiers, most of whom were African American. The Raiders gave chase and killed a number of them, before the Union men reached the fort.

The garrison in Fort Blair put up fight against Poole’s men. The other column of men under the command of Quantrill came at the fort from the other direction. They ran into the Union detachment of Major General James G Blunt who was moving his headquarters to Fort Smith. Most of Bunt’s detachment was killed, including members of a military band. Blunt and few men who were mounted managed to make it to Fort Blair.

Blunt had his command stripped for a time, for not staying with his men and protecting the column. Although considered a massacre by many, it was really a typical Battle for the warfare that occurred along the Kansas - Missouri border. The Confederates saw only a loss of three men. The Federal side lost 103.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

No Real Movement

The Battle of Greenbrier River, a part of the Western Virginia campaign took place on October 3rd 1861.

Union Brigadier General Joseph J Reynolds with two brigades advanced during the night of October 2nd into the 3rd 1861 from Cheat Mountain in Pocahontas Country Virginia [now West Virginia]. He was investigating the Confederate’s under Brigadier General Henry R Jackson’s position near the Traveler’s Repose Inn at Camp Bartow along the Greenbrier River. The Federal troops pushed the Confederate pickets in. After four an half hours of lively fighting and an attempt to turn the Rebel right, Reynolds pulled his men back. The Union troops returned to Cheat Mountain. The Confederates continued to hold their position.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Granting Absolution To The Irish Brigade

The Reverend William Corby, the religious leader of the Irish Brigade was born on October 2nd 1833.

William Corby the son of Daniel and Elizabeth Corby was born October 2nd 1833 in Detroit Michigan. He was educated in local Detroit schools, until at the age of sixteen he joined his father’s real estate business. Corby started feeling a desire to go to college and recieving a calling to the priesthood was sent in 1853 to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend Indiana. By 1859 the then Father William Corby was the “Prefect of Discipline” at Notre Dame.

The Catholic Church had no official view on the Civil War. At Notre Dame there was a prohibition from discussion views of either the Union or Confederate cause. Father Corby in 1861 resigned his professorship at Notre Dame and joined the Chaplains’ Corp. He was assigned to the 88th New York’s famed Irish Brigade. He ministered to needs of Catholic soldiers three years, finding himself often under fire as he moved among the casualties and spent days in the field hospitals offering comfort and absolution.

On July 2nd 1863 the Irish Brigade was called to restore the line on the Wheat Field at Gettysburg. It was here that Father William Corby spoke to the men from a rock in the field, before they entered the battle, offering them absolution. He was said to have spoke to them about duties, telling the men that the Church would not offer a Christin burial to any who wavered on the field. The men were told to confess their sins correctly at their earliest opportunity. The Irish Brigade then went into battle, 198 of the men who had received Father Corby’s blessing would be dead by the end of the day. A bronze statue of Father Corby was dedicated on the Gettysburg battlefield October 29th 1910, the only such memorial to a chaplain.

Following the war Father Corby went back to Notre Dame, where he became Vice President, and a year latter the University President. In 1877 as President of the college he oversaw the rebuilding of the school after it was nearly destroyed by fire. In 1888 the Father was invited to the 25th reunion of the Irish Brigade at Gettysburg. The veterans of the 88th campaigned to have Father Corby awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The medal was never granted.

On December 28th 1897 Father William Corby died of pneumonia. His casket was not carried as was the custom by fellow priest, but by Civil War veterans. His coffin draped in the flag of his regiment a rifle volley fired as he was lowered into the ground.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gunboats Found Only Silent Guns

Confederate Brigadier General John Finegan’s battery was threatened on October 1st 1862 near Jacksonville, Florida on ST John’s Bluff.

To stop Union ships from moving up the ST Johns River, Confederate Brigadier General John Finegan placed a battery on the ST Johns Bluff near Jacksonville, Florida. Union Brigadier General John M Brannan, with about 1500 troops aboard 4 ships left from Hilton Head, South Carolina on September 30th 1862, and arrived at the mouth of the ST Johns the next day where they were joined by gunboats. In the early afternoon of October 1st 1862 Brannan began sending part of his troops ashore at Mayport Mills, and another force at Mount Pleasant Creek which was five miles behind the Confederate battery.

Finding themselves outmaneuvered the Confederates abandoned the position in the dark. When the Union gunboats arrived at the buffs on October 3rd 1862, they found the guns silent, and the Rebel gone.