Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Thirteenth

The House of Representatives passed the Thirteenth Amendment on January 31, 1865. The 13th Amendment provides that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The 13th Amendment would be adopted on December 6th 1865, when the necessary number of states ratified it. When the amendment was ratified, slavery was legal only in the states of Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, and New Jersey; where slaves born before 1804 could still be kept as “apprentices”. Abraham Lincoln and members of his government pushed for the Thirteenth Amendment as they were concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation would be considered a temporary measure of war. The Senate passed the amendment by 38 to 6 in April 1864, the House voted it in, in January 1865 by 119 to 56.

Friday, January 30, 2009

She Changed Shipping Forever

The USS Monitor, with its turreted center gun was launched today, January 30th 1862. The Monitor was the first ironclad commissioned by the United States Navy. She is more famous for the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9th 1862 in which the Monitor fought the Confederate ship the CSS Virginia.

The Monitor was designed by John Ericsson a Swedish engineer, but Saratoga Springs, New York‘s Theodore Timby designed the revolving gun turret. She was described as a “cheese box on a raft”. The deck was armored and sat just above the waterline, and was built at the Continental Iron Works in Brooklyn,NY. Although the Monitor preformed well in river combat, she was not made for the rough waters of the ocean. She became swamped during a storm by high waves off Cape Hatteras,North Carolina on December 31st 1862. Sixteen of her sixty-two crew were lost in the storm.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Fight Going On in Utah

In the war out west, the Battle of Bear River [aka Massacre at Boa Ogoi] between the US Army and the Shoshone Indians took place on January 29th 1863.

A detachment of the United States Army under Colonel Patrick Edward Connor entered the Cache Valley, an area north of the Utah / Idaho state line, at the convergence of the Bear River and Beaver Creek. They were part of an expedition looking for the Shoshone Chief, Bear Hunter. There was deep snow at six am when the 2nd California Cavalry began to arrive. Moroni Timbimboo said his grandfather Chief Sagwitch saw the approach of the Union soldiers.

The Cavalry started with a frontal attack against the positions held by the Shoshone, but the Indians overwhelmed them with return fire. Col Connor retreated and regrouped his men. He than sent small groups in a flanking move around the village, blocking any Shoshone from fleeing the battle. About two hours into the battle the Indians ran out of ammo, at this point the battle became a massacre. Most of the Shoshone men had been killed, and soldiers proceeded to molest and kill the women and children, and burn everything down. There were about 67 US soldiers killed and about 384 Shoshone.

This battle pretty much wiped out the Shoshone in the Cache Valley and surrounding area. The members of the tribe who escaped eventually became member of the Mormon church and help establish the town of Washkie,UT. Colonel Connor and his California Cavalry were treated as heroes. Conner was promoted to Brigadier General and continued his army career against the Native American population.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Son of a President

Richard Taylor the son of United States President Zachary Taylor and Lady Margaret was born January 27th 1826 on the family estate near Louisville, Kentucky. He spent most of his childhood on the frontier with his father before attending private schools in Kentucky and Massachusetts. Richard began college at Harvard, but graduated in 1845 from Yale. When his father died in 1850, he inherited the families Sugar Plantation “Fashion” in Louisiana, and soon had about 200 slaves.

At the start of the Civil War, Confederate General Braxton Bragg asked Taylor to be his assistant in Pensacola, Florida. While serving in Florida he was appointed the Colonel of the 9th Louisiana Infantry, and served at the Battle of First Manassas. In October of 1861 Taylor was promoted to General and given command of a Louisiana brigade under General Richard Ewell. He was promoted over more senior officers which caused of cries of favoritism, as he was the brother-in-law of Jefferson Davis. He proved his capability as a leader at many battles including the First Battle of Winchester. In July 1862 at the age of thirty-six, he became the youngest Major General in the Confederacy and was given command of the District of West Louisiana. After John B Hood’s failures in Tennessee, Taylor was placed in command of what was left of the Army of Tennessee. Union General Edward Canby excepted Taylor’s surrender on May 8th 1865; the last of the Confederates east of the Mississippi to give up.

After the war Richard was active in democratic party politics and was a leading opponent of the policies of Reconstruction. He published a memoir of the war in 1879the year he died in New York City. He is buried in the Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Six To One Odds

Union forces of the 9th Illinois Mounted Infantry under Captain Emil Adams were attacked at the Battle of Athens on January 26th 1864.

At about four in the morning in Athens, Alabama 600 men of the 1st Alabama Cavalry under Lieutenant Colonel Moses Hannon made an attack against the Union defenders. Although out numbered by six to one and with no fortification Captain Adams’ men were able to hold for two hour, and finally forced the Confederates to retreat. There were about twenty Union and thirty Confederate casualties.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Slave To Soldier

About twenty-two United State Colored Cavalry were killed on January 25th 1865 in Simpsonville, KY by irregular Confederate troops.

A company of black soldiers from the 5th United States Colored Cavalry were assigned in January 1865 to drive 900 head of cattle to a railroad depot near Louisville from Camp Nelson in Jessamine County. Just a few months earlier, most of these soldiers had been slaves. The men drove the cattle along a trail that would become US Route 60. With a light snow falling on January 25, 1865 in Simpsonville,KY a band of Confederate Irregulars surprised the rear guard of the 5th, and began shooting the men down. It seems that the men of the 5th in the front of the herd didn't know the attack was happening. The people of Simpsonville collected the dead and buried them in a mass grave, and cared for about twenty others who were wounded.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Slave Catching

Her name was Lucy, and she was a slave from Wheeling, Virginia [now West Virginia] and on January 23rd 1861 when she ran to Cleveland, Ohio she became the last slave to be returned under the Fugitive Slave Law.

Senator James Murray Mason of Virginia drafted the second Fugitive Slave Law under pressure from the south and as part of the Compromise of 1850. There were to be special commissioners with complete jurisdiction, there would be no trail by jury and the fugitives were not allowed to speak for themselves. There were penalties for marshals who refused to enforce the law, as well as individuals who aided blacks with their escape. If a slave was returned to their master, the person bringing that slave back would receive a payment.

The Law led to abuses and caused the number of abolitionist to rise. Many states enacted Personal Liberty Laws which extended Habeas Corpus, the privilege of jury trial and severely punished false testimony. The state of Wisconsin's Supreme Court went so far in 1859 as to declare the Fugitive Slave Law unconstitutional. The beginning of the Civil War changed things. In May 1861 Major General Benjamin Butler declared that slaves were contraband of war. It wasn't until June 28th 1864 and the Act was repealed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Knee Deep In The Mud

Begun on January 20th 1863 there was an attempt the flank Robert E Lee’s Army, by Major General Ambrose Burnside known as the Mud March.

After the defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg at the end of 1862, General Burnside was desperate to get back his standing and raise the morale of the Army of the Potomac. As the Union and Confederate armies faced each other across the river, his plan was to make a surprise crossing, south of Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock, and to flank General Robert E Lee, while at the same time having Union Cavalry hit in Lee’s rear taking out his supply lines. Upon learning about the plan Abraham Lincoln, feeling it was to risky, told Burnside to stop. Burnside just revised his plan, simply moving the river crossing to the north of Fredericksburg at Bank’s Ford.

It was an unseasonably warm day on January 20th 1863 when the Army of the Potomac began moving. As evening fell a steady rain began and continued for two days. The troops struggled to move themselves, wagons, pontoons, and artillery through knee-deep mud. While on the other side of the river Confederate pickets watching the amusing sight put up large signs on the riverbank saying “Burnside’s Army Stuck in the Mud” and “This Way to Richmond”. General Burnside finally capitulated to his subordinates and ordered his army back into its camp across from Fredericksburg. The Mud March would mark the end of Burnside’s command. On January 26th 1863 President Lincoln brought in Major General Joseph Hooker to replace him.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

He Didin't Die on US Soil

The tenth President of United States, John Tyler Jr died January 18th 1862.

Tyler was the first President to come to the office via succession, when President William Henry Harrison died April 4th 1841. Without question the most important thing that Tyler’s administration can claim is the annexation of Texas.

After his term of service was up, Tyler retired to his plantation in Virginia where he continued to work with the Democrats on the issue of States Rights. On the eve of the Civil War, February 1861 former President Tyler was in Washington, DC as part of the Virginia Peace Convention, which was meeting to try to prevent the coming war. Tyler strongly believed that each state should decide on the state level if it should be “free” or “slave” without interference from the Federal Government. When the Civil War began Tyler joined the Confederacy and went to the Provisional Confederate Congress as a delegate. He was elected to the Confederate Congress as part of the House of Representatives.

President John Tyler’s death would be the first presidential death not to be officially mourned in the Capital. He is also the only president to die while living outside of the United States, as Richmond,Virginia was considered to be a part of the Confederate States. He is buried at his plantation in Virginia.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Lawyer of the Vermont Brigade

On January 17th 1828 Medal of Honor holder, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Addison Grant was born.

Lewis Grant was born in Winhall, Vermont the son of James and Elizabeth [Wyman] Grant. He went to local schools, and than taught school in Vermont, New Jersey, and Boston while reading for the bar. In 1855 he was admitted to the bar and began a law practice in Bellows Falls,Vermont.

He was mustered in as a Major of the 5th Vermont Infantry in September 1861. He was promoted several times, was wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and he took over command of the Vermont Brigade and was leading them in 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg. He was the acting commander of the 2nd Division 6th Corp during the Battle of Cedar Creek.

When the war ended General Ulysses S Grant recommended Lewis for an appointment in the regular army. He was appointed in August 1866 as a Lieutenant Colonel in the 36th Regiment of the United States Infantry, but he turned down the appointment. He lived in Illinois, Iowa and finally settled Minnesota. During President Benjamin Harrison’s administration he was the Assistant United States Secretary of War. He also served in President Grover Cleveland’s cabinet.  Grant was awarded the Medal of Honor in May 1893 for "Personal gallantry and intrepidity displayed in the management of his brigade and in leading it in the assault in which he was wounded.”  He died at Minneapolis March 20th 1918, and is buried in Lakewood Cemetery. He was 90.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hadn't Planned on the Winter Weather

The Romney Expedition was part of a Confederate Army military expedition into the Shenandoah Valley and was begun January 14th 1862.

The bulk of the action of the Romney Expedition was conducted by forces under Confederate Major General “Stonewall” Thomas J Jackson and Federal Major General Nathaniel Banks. An unusually warm December ended as Jackson issued orders to move into the valley. Stonewall was able to occupy the town of Romney, Virginia [now West Virginia] on January 14th 1862.  From here he planned his advance to Cumberland,Maryland, but the weather became severe, and he had to cancel any further movements. Jackson left William Wing Loring’s division behind to occupy Romney while he returned to Winchester.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Youngest Vice President

The seventeenth Vice President of the United State, United States Representative and Speaker of the House, Schuyler Colfax Jr died on the 13th of January 1885.

Schuyler Colfax Jr was born in New York City March 23th, 1823, the son of Schuyler and Hannah [Stryker] Colfax. His father passed away before he was born. After a time his mother re-married. In 1836 the family moved to New Carlisle, Indiana. He became active in Indiana politics, using the press he became a rising star in the Whig party. He was nominated for Congress in 1850, but lost to his Democratic opponent, he ran successfully two years later. When the Whig party collapsed he became a member of the Republican Party. He was an energetic opponent of slavery. In 1862 he was elected to be the Speaker of the House, it was during his term that he announced the passage of the 13th Amendment. In 1868 Colfax was elected to be Ulysses S Grant’s Vice President [the youngest President and Vice President until 1992]. He died on January 13th 1885 after walking about a mile in cold weather to a train depot in Mankato,Minnesota from a heart attack. He is buried in the City Cemetery in South Bend, Indiana.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A President's Cousin

Libby Prison

On January 12th 1865 Edwin Louis Hayes was brevetted Brigadier General.

Edwin L Hayes was born in Ellicottville,NY the son of Harvey B Hayes. He was a cousin of President Rutherford B Hayes, and was age 34 when he enlisted on August 26, 1862 to serve for three years. In September of 1863 he was captured and sent to Libby Prison for eleven months [he was part of the men who dug an escape tunnel from the prison]. After the war he spent a short time as the Reconstruction Governor of NC. He died at his home at the age of 98, the oldest living Civil War General.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cut Off and Forced To Surrender

The Battle of Arkansas Post [aka the Battle of Fort Hindman] fought near the mouth of the Arkansas River as part of the Vicksburg Campaign began on the evening of January 9th 1863, and ended on this date, January 11th 1863.

Beginning on the evening of January 9th 1863 Union boats unloaded troops near Arkansas Post. The troops moved up the river toward Fort Hindman, where Major General William Tecumseh Sherman’s corps forced the Confederates to retreat to the fort and its rifle pits. Than on January 10th1863 Naval Officer Rear Admiral David D Porter moved his ships in to bomb the Fort, pulling back as dark fell.

On January 11th Union artillery began firing on the fort from across the river, shutting down the Confederate guns from the fort, allowing the Union to move into position for attack. Porter’s ironclads began shelling the fort and passed by in front, cutting off any chance the Confederates had of retreat. Do to this envelopment the Confederate forces surrendered that afternoon.

Although this was a Union victory it did not contribute to capturing Vicksburg, and resulted in a high number of Union casualties [1,047 wounded and 134 killed]. This did eliminate an impediment to shipping on the Mississippi River for the Union government.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back in MO

A Confederate force under Brigadier General John S Marmaduke, captured the town of Ozark, MO on this date in 1863.

A good book about General Marmaduke Confederate States Army Trans-Mississippi order book, 1862-1864: Brigadier-General John S. Marmaduke

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Florida's Step Into War

The first action of the Civil War in Florida occurred on January 6th 1861.

This was when a unit of militia from Quincy took the Federal arsenal near Appalachiancola, from a small garrison of Union soldiers. The Floridians forced their way into the arsenal, but no shots were fired. The Confederates used the facilities as a training camp.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

First In, Last Out

When the Civil War began, Delaware was only superficially a slave state, with just 3% of the population being slaves. Two weeks after South Carolina seceded, Delaware’s legislature voted on January 3rd 1861 not to seceded and to stay in the Union. The Governor said that Delaware was the first state to ratified the Constitution, and join the Union, and it would be the last to leave it. Most of the men who fought in the war served for the Union, in the Delaware State regiments. Those who fought for the Confederacy went to Maryland or Virginia. Delaware was the only slave holding state in which no Confederate regiments or militia was raised.

Also good reading

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Old War Horse

One of the principal Confederate Generals James Longstreet died on this day in 1904. He was born January 8th 1821 in the Edgefield District of SC. He was the fifth child of James and Mary Ann [Dent] Longstreet, who owned a cotton plantation near Gainesville. It was his father who felt a military career was the way James should go, and to get him the right education he was sent to live with an uncle in Augusta,GA, where he attended Richmond County Academy. He got an appointment to West Point in 1838, but was a poor student who ranked 54 out 56 cadets when he graduated in 1842. It was here that he made one of his closest friends, Ulysses S Grant who was a year behind him. They both saw service during the war with Mexico

Longstreet was General Robert E Lee’s “Old War Horse”, and saw action as a corp commander in the Army of Northern Virginia, and with General Braxton Bragg in the Army of Tennessee. There is still controversy over his role at Gettysburg and the disastrous assault known as Pickett’s Charge.

After the war Longstreet joined the Republican Party and found himself on wrong side of Southern politics, and it damaged his reputation. However through his old friend President Ulysses S Grant he enjoyed a career as a US Government civil servant, marshal and diplomat. He subsequently settled onto a 65 acre farm where he raised turkeys and had orchards and a vineyard. A fire there in April 1889 destroyed the house and many of his personal Civil War possessions. After long years of having his reputation trashed, Longstreet wrote his memoirs in 1896 “From Manassas to Appomattox where he refuted many of the arguments.

General Longstreet’s last years were spent in poor health from rheumatism and deafness. He developed Cancer in his right eye, and than came down with pneumonia. He died January 2nd 1904, and is buried in the Alta Vista Cemetery.

Some other good reading on the subject

General James Longstreet: the Confederacy's Most Modern General

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Beginning of the Ending

A US federal law, the "Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves" went into effect on January 1, 1808. This legally ended the transatlantic slave trade. It was December 1805 when Senator Stephen Roe Bradley from Vermont, brought out a bill against the importation of certain persons therein described [the word slaves was added latter] into any port or place with in the United States after the first day of January 1808. President Thomas Jefferson signed the bill into law on March 3rd 1807. The fifteenth Congress changed the law, calling the act of importing slaves piracy, and said that any citizen of the US found guilty of such piracy could be given the death penalty. It would of course take another fifty-seven years and a war to end slavery.

Other reading
Speech of C.M. Clay of Fayette, in the House of Representatives of Kentucky: upon the bill to repeal the law of 1835, "to prohibit the importation of slaves into this state".