Thursday, December 31, 2009

He Only Had Three Days

General George Gordon Meade was born December 31st 1815 in Cadiz Spain.

George Gordon Meade was born to American parents December 31st 1815 in Cadiz Spain, where his father had run into some legal and financial issues because of the Napoleonic Wars. Meade received an appointment to West Point and graduated in 1835.
He served one year with the 3rd US Artillery, then left to become a civil engineer. Due to a lack of employment and the Mexican American war he rejoined the army in 1842.

At the start of the Civil War Meade was working on a survey of the Great Lakes. The first summer of the war he was assigned to a division of the Pennsylvania Reserves as a Brigadier General, which after training joined the Army of the Potomac. Meade was wounded in action at Frazier’s Farm during the Seven Days Battle. He had recovered and led his brigade at Second Battle of Bull Run. Three days before the Battle of Gettysburg Meade was placed in command of the Army of Potomac. After arriving on the battle field, he moved his troops masterfully to the threaten areas of the field. He however, received disapproval for letting General Robert E Lee slip away taking his surviving Confederate army back into Virginia.

Meade continue to serve after the ending of the war, helping with Reconstruction in the south. He became the commissioner of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia in 1866, the job he held until his death. Meade died November 6th 1872 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania from pneumonia and old wounds received during the war.

Another web site that might interest you about this subject
Biography of General Meade

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Arsenal Fell Into Southern Hands

The Federal Arsenal at Charleston South Carolina fell into Rebel hands on December 30th 1860.

The Untied State Arsenal at Charleston South Carolina, known as the Charleston Arsenal was taken by South Carolina state militia on December 30th 1860. The arsenal was built in 1841 near where Ashley Ave and Mill Street met in Charleston. The arsenal was used to produce artillery and small arms ammunition for the Mexican American War and thur until the Civil War. Once South Carolina seceded the arsenal became a target, and after seizing it the arsenal was held for much the war by the Confederates. It was used as a barracks for the 26th South Carolina and other Confederate troops. The arsenal was retaken by Union troops when Charleston fell in 1865.

In 1866 the US Government turned the 11 acre site into a Federal Military Reservation. It was sold in 1888 to the Porter Military Academy. In 1963 the site became part of the Medical University of South Carolina.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Driving The Confederates Out

The Battle of Mount Zion Church on December 28th 1861 in Boone County Missouri pushed the Confederates out of the area until the fall of 1864.

Leading a Union force of five mounted companies Brigadier General Benjamin M Prentiss along with two companies of sharpshooters entered Boone County Missouri to protect the North Missouri Railroad from secessionist. They arrived in Sturgeon Missouri on December 26th 1861, where Prentiss learned of Confederates near the town of Hallsville. The next day Prentiss sent a company to Hallsville, where they engaged Confederates commanded by Colonel Caleb Dorsey. The Union troops lost many men before retreating to Sturgeon.

On December 28th 1861 Prentiss took his entire force to engage the Confederates. They routed one company of Rebel on the road. Here Prentiss learned the rest of the Confederate force was at the Mount Zion Church. After the Union soldiers made three charges, the Confederates having used up their ammunition left the field, leaving behind supplies, weapons, killed and wounded. This action did in most of the Confederate recruiting in the Central Missouri area.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Soldier Of The West

James Henry Carleton a Union officer and southwestern Indian fighter was born December 27th 1814.

James Henry Carleton was born in Lubec Maine December 27th 1814. During the Aroostook War he was commissioned a Lieutenant. After this he served in the Mexican American War and with the 1st US Dragoons in the American West. Carleton was sent to the Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah, his orders being to bury the dead they placed 34 in a mass grave along with the 39 who had been buried just before his company arrived. The then Major Carleton investigated and concluded the Mormons and some Paiute Indians had murdered 120 emigrants bound for California.

At the beginning of the Civil War Carleton raised the Union 1st California Volunteer Infantry in 1861 and was made their Colonel. In October of that year he was paced in command of the District of Southern California. In 1862 Carleton led a forced march of the California Column to link up with Union forces in New Mexico serving with General Edward R S Canby. Carleton was made the department commander of the New Mexico territory, and began a scorched earth policy against the Indians. His main field commander was Colonel Christopher Kit Carson.

The end of the Civil War saw Carleton a Brevet Major General in the regular army. He retained his troops until 1866 when the US Regular Army took over the American West and Carleton served with the 4th US Cavalry as a Lieutenant Colonel. Carleton died of pneumonia in San Antonio Texas January 7th 1873 still serving in uniform, and his body is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge Massachusetts.

Another web site of interest about this subject
The Mountain Meadows Massacre Special Report By Brevet Major James Henry Carleton 1859

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nun Nurses

Four volunteer Nuns became the first official female nurses on December 26th 1862, serving on the US navy hospital ship the “Red Rover”.

Civil War wounded both Confederate and Union were treated in buildings converted into hospitals in Mound City. The nurses many of whom were nuns from the Sisters of the Holy Cross included five African American women. The first Union hospital ship was a converted side wheeler the “Red Rover”. It was commissioned on December 26th 1862. The medical service providers onboard included thirty surgeons and male nurses, along with the four nuns. The “Red Rover” treated 2,947 patients during the three years it sailed the Mississippi River during the Civil War.

Friday, December 25, 2009

One Last Gift

President Andrew Johnson had a Christmas gift on December 25th 1868 for all the Rebels.

General Ulysses S Grant was getting ready to become President in March 1869. One of the last momentous acts President Johnson would sign was the unconditional official pardon for all Confederates on December 25th 1868. There had been amnesties which required signed oaths issued earlier by Abraham Lincoln and Johnson.

Recommended web site related to this subject
Proclamation - Granting Full Pardon and Amnesty for the Offense of Treason Against the United States During the Late Civil War

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Letter To The Daughter Of An Old Friend

President Abraham Lincoln wrote a lovely letter to Fanny McCullough of Bloomington Illinois on December 23rd 1862.

It was a letter of sympathy for McCullough’s father Lieutenant Colonel William McCullough who was killed in a battle near Coffeeville Mississippi while with the 4th Illinois Cavalry. William McCullough had worked for the McLean County Circuit Court in Bloomington Illinois, where Lincoln often had law cases. McCullough and Lincoln had known each other well, Fanny remembered sitting on Lincoln’s knee as a child.

He wrote "You can not now realize that you will ever feel better...You are sure to be happy again...I have had experience enough to know...The memory of your dear Father, instead of an agony, will yet be a sad sweet feeling in your heart, of a purer, and holier sort than you have known before."

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Fire Eating Southern

Secessionist Robert Barnwell Rhett Sr was born December 21st 1800.

Robert Barnwell Rhett, who’s last name was Smith, was born in Beaufort, South Carolina on December 21st 1800 the son of James and Marianna Smith. He changed his last name after entering public life, using the surname of his colonial ancestor Colonel William Rhett. He studied law and in 1826 became a member of the South Carolina legislature representing the St Bartholomew Parish. In 1832 Rhett became the South Carolina Attorney General. Then from 1837 to 1849 he was the United States Representative for South Carolina and United States Senator from 1850 to 1852.

Rhett’s views were extremely pro-southern. He was one of the fire-eaters at the Nashville Convention in 1850, his plan being the secession of the whole south. In 1860 Rhett was a member of the South Carolina Secession Convention. He was the chairman of the committee for the Confederate Constitution at the Montgomery Convention, when they met to organize a government for the seceding states. Rhett was elected a member of the lower house of the Confederate Congress, but when he received no other higher office, whet back to South Carolina.

Following the war Rhett settled in Louisiana. He died in St James Parish Louisiana September 14th 1876 and is buried in the Magnolia cemetery in Charleston South Carolina.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Friendly Fire

Two small winter patrols encountered each other at a crossroad on December 20th 1861 and the Battle of Dranesville took place.

Union Brigadier General Edward Otho Cresap Ord arrived at the village of Dranesville, Virginia at about noon at the intersection of the Georgetown Pike and Leesburg Pike. They ran into a troop of Confederate Brigadier General JEB Stuart’s advanced cavalry, and quickly drove them off. Ord continued west down the Leesburg Pike. Stuart arrived shortly with the main body of his troops, approaching Dranesville from the south, running into the rear of the Union troops.

The Union infantry wheeled around to meet the Confederates, forming a line on the North side of the Leesburg Pike. Stuart deployed his infantry and artillery about 300 yards south of the Union troops. As the Confederates were forming the 6th South Carolina mistook the 1st Kentucky for Union troops and opened fire, which the was returned, causing a lot of deaths by friendly fire. An artillery duel began, but the Union had better position and quickly took out the Confederate guns. The two sides skirmished for two hours. Once Stuart was sure his supply wagons were safely away, he ordered a withdrawal. Ord pursued the Confederates for about a mile before breaking off and returning to Langley, Virginia.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Important Bridge

Both the Union and Confederate Armies wished to secure the strategically important Wilmington and Weldon Railroad Bridge. On December 17th 1862 Union Major General John G Foster led 12,000 soldiers near Everettsville, North Carolina, with the objective of destroying the bridge. Foster’s men began demolishing the tracks leading to the Goldsborough Bridge. The Confederates led by General Thomas Clingman delayed the Union advance, but were unable to keep them from burning down the bridge. With his mission completed, Foster and his troops returned to their camp in New Bern, North Carolina. There were about 100 causalities on the Union side and 175 of the Confederates.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Movement To End Segregation

Martin Luther King Jr and other members of the Albany Movement were arrested on December 16th 1961 when they knelt in prayer.

On the steps of the Albany, Georgia city hall on, Saturday December 16th 1961 Martin Luther King Jr, Ralph David Abernathy, the president of the Albany Movement William G Anderson and 263 African Americans were arrested, when they knelt to pray for the release of hundreds of demonstrators from jail. King and the others were taken to the Sumter County jail in Americus, Georgia. The lock up was run by Sheriff Fred Chappell, who King said was the "the meanest man in the world." King was sentenced to forty-five days in jail or a fine of $178 on the charge of obstructing the sidewalk, he choose to serve the time. Three days letter his fine was discreetly paid and King was released.

The Albany Movement was a coalition created to end segregation in Albany, Georgia by locals, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the NAACP. The movement was headed by a local African American physician William G Anderson. In December of 1961 the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and King joined the movement. Although the Albany Movement attracted national attention and brought in thousand of members it did not accomplish its goals.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A State Holiday

The movie “Gone With the Wind” premiered December 15th 1939 in Atlanta Georgia.

December 15th 1939 was the culmination of a three day celebration for the premier of the movie “Gone With The Wind” in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta Mayor William B Hartsfield hosted receptions and a parade with the stars of the film riding in limousines, past thousands of Confederate flags. Georgia Governor Eurith D Rivers declared December 15th to be a state holiday. Years later President Jimmy Carter would say it was “the biggest event to happen in the South in my lifetime."

Due to “Jim Crow” laws however, the black actors in the film; like Hattie McDaniel, were not allowed to attend the premier. When Clark Gable learned that these actors were being barred from the theater he threatened to boycott the event, but McDaniel talked him into attending.

Monday, December 14, 2009

She Was The Daughter Of Slave Owners

Julia Boggs [Dent] Grant, the wife of General Ulysses S Grant died December 14th 1902.

Julia Boggs [Dent] Grant was the daughter of slave owners; Colonel Frederick and Ellen [Wrenshall] Dent. She was born at the families plantation, White Haven west of St Louis Missouri. Julia attended boarding school in St Louis for seven years, where she excelled in art and voice.

She met Ulysses S Grant who was a classmate at West Point with her brother Frederick, at her home where he was welcomed for visit. Grant proposed a number of times before Julia accepted. After a four year engagement; the delay caused by the Mexican American War, Julia married Grant on August 22nd 1848 at her home. Neither of the couple’s parents truly approved. Grants parents refused to even come to the wedding. As most army wives Julia followed her husband to several military posts including Detroit and Sackett‘s Harbor, New York, before returning to her parents home when Grant was sent to West Coast. After he resigned from the military in 1854, and several farming and business venture failed, Grant and Julia moved in 1860 to his family home in Galena, Illinois. Then the Civil War began, and experienced military officers where in demand. Grant was quickly promoted to Brigadier General. Julia spent the war tending to wounded soldiers and sewing uniforms. Grant like to have his wife with him, and so Julia joined him on the War front when it was deemed safe. She was steadying influence on her husband, keeping his spirits up.

In 1869 Julia became the First Lady. She entertained lavishly at the White House, including the wedding in 1874 of her daughter. Julia referred to this as her “happiest period” of life. Being the first First Lady since Elizabeth Monroe to be in the White House for eight years, she made many improvements. Among them having the Army Corps of Engineers in 1873 add the Grecian columns to the front of the house. After leaving the White House in 1877 the Grants traveled around the world for two and half years. They were given every hospitality even enjoying dinner and a overnight stay with Queen Victoria of England.

Grant had yet another business set back in 1884, loosing all their money. Knowing he was dyeing of cancer, Grant wrote a personal memoir, to provide money for Julia to live on. On April 27th 1897 Julia attended the dedication of Grant’s Tomb on the Hudson River in New York City. She died December 14th 1902 at the age of 76 and was laid to rest beside her husband.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Only Thing Between Sherman And His Supplies

The Union Army captured Fort McAlister on December 13th 1864.

Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops were in need of supplies as they approached Savannah, Georgia. Concluding that supply ships could reach him if they took Fort McAllister, he ordered Major General Oliver Otis Howard’s Army of Tennessee to do just that. Howard ordered division commander Brigadier General William B Hazen to attack the fort, which they did on December 13th 1864. Hazen’s four thousand men rushed forward upon his order through many obstacles including buried torpedoes, entering the fort they captured it in about fifteen minutes. This gave the Union troops the control of the Ogeechee River and access to the ocean.

With supplies coming, Sherman began to prepare for the siege and capture of Savannah. He achieved this goal on Christmas day.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The First Sunk

The USS Cairo became the first ship to be sunk by a naval mine on December 12th 1862.

The USS Cairo along with six sister ironclad gunboats, were named for towns along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. These boats were known as “City Class” gun boat and were designed by Samuel M Pook. The Cairo carried thirteen cannon and was constructed in Mound City, Illinois.

The Cairo saw some action in May at Plum Point and again in June at the Battle of Memphis. It was on December 12th 1862 that she went down in history. The commander of the Cairo, Lieutenant Commander Thomas O Selfridge Jr was a promising, aggressive young officer. On the morning of December 12th 1862 Selfridge and the Cairo led a small fleet up the Yazoo River to clear the river of underwater mines and destroy a some Confederate batteries. About nine miles north of Vicksburg the Cairo come under fire. Selfridge ordered the gunboats turned toward the shore and guns readied. As she turned the Cairo experienced two quick explosions, tearing holes in her hull. She was sunk in 36 feet of water in less then twelve minutes. The Cairo was the first ship to ever be sunk by an electronically detonated mine.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Anti-Semitism In The Civil War

Ulysses S Grant on December 11th 1862 made his contentious Special Order Number 11, expelling Jews from Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

In the middle of the Civil War, Union General Ulysses S Grant started a blatant incident of antisemitism. On December 11th 1862 in Oxford, Mississippi, he issued General Order Number 11, which called for all Jews with in his jurisdiction to be expelled. The New York Times denounced the order and Grant. Order Number 11 was a response to the illegal smuggling of Confederate cotton. After pressure from Jewish leaders, President Abraham Lincoln had the order rescinded in January 1863.

General Order Number 11 read, “The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order. Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters. No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade permits.”

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Splitting The Democrates

Breaking with other Democrats on December 9th 1857, Stephen Douglas come out against the Lecompton Constitution.

The Lecompton Constitution was the second of four proposed Kansas state constitutions. It was written as a reaction to the 1855 Topeka Constitution’s anti-slavery position. The Kansas territorial legislature, which was mostly made up of slave owners made Lecompton Kansas the capital in September 1857 with the intent to write a rival constitution. Free State’res who made up the majority of settlers boycotted the vote. President James Buchanan appointed Robert J Walker the territorial Governor, and although her was pro-slavery he refused implement the Lecompton Constitution and resigned.

The Lecompton Constitution upheld slavery in the future state of Kansas and protected at rights of slave owners. It went even further by adding a referendum to allow more slave to be brought into the territory, while barring free backs from living in Kansas. Both the Lecompton and Topeka Constitution were placed for a vote before the people of the Kansas Territory. The vote came down to the issue of a Constitution with Slavery or without. Both sides boycotted the vote for differing reasons, and there were quite a few irregularities in the vote with over 3,000 ballets being thrown out. So both constitutions were sent to the United States Congress for approval.

The President supported the Lecompton Constitution before Congress. The Southern Democrats supported President Buchanan, but the Northern Democrats; who were led by Stephen A Douglas sided with the Republicans in Congress. The defeat of the Lecompton Constitution split the Democratic party which lead to Abraham Lincoln being elected President in 1860.

Monday, December 7, 2009

They Were Wearing Union Blue

The Union XIV Army Corp’s 39th Brigade was guarding a river crossing on the Cumberland at Hartsville, Tennessee to keep Confederate cavalry from raiding across. The 39th was made up of the 106th, and 108th Ohio, 104th Illinois and 2nd Indiana Cavalry. In the early morning hours of December 7th 1862 Confederate General John Hunt Morgan crossed the river. Morgan had about fourteen hundred men mostly from Kentucky. According to the commander of the Union Brigade; Colonel Absalom B Moore, Morgan’s advanced men got past the pickets by wearing Union uniforms.

Fighting started about 6:45 am and continued until around 8:30 am. One of the Union units ran during the battle causing disorder among the other troops. In the end the Confederates surrounded the 39th Brigade and talked them into surrendering. The Confederate sustained 149 casualties only inflicting 58 among the Union soldiers, however Morgan captured a wagon train of supplies and 1,844 Union prisoners. This raid was a lead up to the Confederate Cavalry raids conducted by Nathan Bedford Forrest and Morgan through out the winter of 1862 - 1863. It also got Morgan a promotion to Brigadier General.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Largest Execution In American History

President Abraham Lincoln notified General Henry H Sibley on December 6th 1862 that he should execute thirty nine of the three hundred and three Santee Sioux.

In early winter of 1862 three hundred and three Santee Sioux were tried by a military tribunal, and convicted of murder and rape. They were sentenced to death by hanging. Some trials didn’t even last five minutes. President Lincoln reviewed the records of the trials distinguishing between those who committed crimes against civilians and those who warred against the United States. An Episcopal Bishop of Minnesota; Henry Whipple who worked with the Dakota Sioux urged Lincoln intervene and use leniency. On December 6th 1862 Lincoln commuted the death sentence of all but thirty nine of the Santee. One more was given a reprieve.

At about ten am on December 26th 1862 the remaining thirty-eight Sioux were executed in Mankato Minnesota. The hangings held before three thousand people, were performed on a single scaffold platform and remains the largest mass execution in the history of America.

For more information this is a good web site
Dakota War of 1862

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Follow The North Star

The first edition of the abolitionist newspaper the “North Star” was published on December 3rd 1847, by former slave Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass an escaped slave, was inspired in 1838 after reading “The Liberator”, a newspaper published by William Lloyd Garrison. “The Liberator” was a weekly newspaper that supported a non-violent emancipation of slaves. Douglass’ supporters who helped buy his freedom, assisted him in acquiring a printing press. Douglass decided his African American newspaper would push for a anti-slavery political movement. Paying no attention to the advice of the American Anti-Slavery Society, Douglass published his first edition of the “North Star” in Rochester New York on December 3rd 1847. Douglass named his paper the “North Star” because runaway slaves followed the north star to freedom. He stated that his goals were to, “abolish slavery in all its forms and aspects, promote the moral and intellectual improvement of the colored people, and hasten the day of freedom to the Three Millions of our enslaved fellow countrymen."

Another interesting web site on this subject
State Archives Study of the Legacy of Slavery

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

John Brown's Body

Following his raid and capture at Harper’s Ferry, John Brown was on December 2nd 1859 hung.

John Brown was born May 9th 1800 in Torrington Connecticut. His family moved in 1805 to Ohio, where the resolutely anti-slavery family ran a station on the Underground Railroad. Brown returned to Connecticut to study to become a Congregational minister, but soon returned to his family in Ohio. Brown held many jobs, he married twice and fathered twenty children.

In 1849 John Brown took his family and settled in the black community of North Elba New York. With the passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, Brown formed the “United States League of Gileadites” an organization created to defy slave-catchers. Brown moved with five sons in 1855 to the Kansas Territory to help anti-slavery oponities try to gain control, and his home was burned and a son killed. After this he moved to Virginia where he set up a refuge for escaped slaves.

Brown lead a group of twenty-one men on October 16th 1859 in an attack on the Federal armory at Harper’s Ferry Virginia. His hope was that slaves would rise up and join him creating an emancipation army. After holding the armory for two days it was stormed by a company soldiers led by Robert E Lee. Brown and six men who held the engine house in Harper’s Ferry fought until two of his sons where killed and Brown had been critically wounded.

Brown was convicted at trial of treason, insurrection and murder. He was executed by hanging on December 2nd 1859. The song “John Brown’s Body” was a popular marching song with Union troops during the Civil War.

Another web site you might be interested in viewing
Slavery, Passion, Intrigue & Murder: The Story of John Brown

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Three Changes To The Constitution

On the first day the new Congress sat, December 1st 1862 Abraham Lincoln suggested three amendments to be added to the United States Constitution. The first that all slaves be progressively emancipated through 1900. Secondly that all slaves freed during the Civil War continue to be free. The third change was that the United State would supply the moneys for consensual colonization for the freed slaves.

For more information check this web site.
Annual Message to Congress -- Concluding Remarks