Sunday, February 28, 2010

A West Point Man To The End

Union General George Washington Cullum died February 28th 1892.

George Washington Cullum was born February 25th 1809 in New York City. He grew up in Meadville Pennsylvania, before entering West Point. Cullum graduated third in his class of forty-three in 1833. He became a member of the Corps of Engineers, where he supervised construction projects on the East Coast, including Fort Trumbull in New London Connecticut. Cullum taught engineering at West Point from 1848 to 1855.

At the beginning of the Civil War Cullum served as the aide-de-camp for General Winfield Scott. In November 1861 he was promoted to Brigadier General and transferred to the Department of Missouri as Chief Engineer. He was the chief engineer during the Siege of Corinth. Cullum was brevetted Major General and sent back to West Point were he served as the superintendent of the military academy until 1866.

Following the war Cullum stayed in the military, working on an assortment of engineering projects designed to strengthen the United State’s coastal defenses. He retired in January 1874 and moved back to New York City. Cullum died there from pneumonia February 28th 1892. He left money to West Point for the building of a Memorial Hall and the continuations of his “Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the US Military Academy.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Reducing The Exposure To Battle And Disease

The inventor of the Gatling Gun, Dr Richard Jordan Gatling died February 26th 1903.

Richard Jordan Gatling was born September 12th 1818 in Money’s Neck, Como, North Carolina, the son of Jordan Gatling. His father was also an inventor. Gatling’s first invention at the age of 21 was a screw propeller for steamboats, however he found that the same thing had recently been patented by John Ericsson. Gatling owned a store, and while running it he continued to invent, coming up with a planting device for rice and wheat. He made enough money from this invention, to attend and graduate from the Ohio Medical College in 1850. He married Jemima Sanders the daughter of an Indianapolis Indiana doctor October 25th 1854.

After noting during the Civil War that most of dead, died from disease, rather gunshots, Gatling began working on a machine gun. He wrote, "It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine - a gun - which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished." After developing a working prototype in 1862 Gatling started the Gatling Gun Company in Indianapolis. Although Union General Benjamin F Butler and Union Admiral David Dixon Porter bought the guns, the United States didn’t start buying them until 1866. Gatling sold his patents for the gun to Colt in 1870, but he remained president of the division until 1897.

After inventing the Gatling Gun he continued to work on other improvements, including toilets, methods for cleaning raw wool, bicycles, and others. He lived in St Louis Missouri, where he opened a company to manufacture his steam tractors and plows. While on a trip to visit his daughter in New York City, Gatling died at her home February 26th 1903. He is buried in the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis Indiana.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beauty From War

American artist Winslow Homer noted for his landscapes and Civil War scenes was born February 24th 1836.

Winslow Homer was born in Boston, Massachusetts February 24th 1836, the son of Charles Savage and Henrietta [Benson] Homer. He learned watercolor from his mother and was a self taught artist who didn’t get an education in art. Homer began his career in art as an apprentice to a commercial lithographer. In the 1850’s he began working for Harper’s Weekly, creating line art from photographs. Most of these works were published without creditting Homer. As time went by Homer’s reputation expanded, and he stopped working from photos and began creating his own illustrations, such as when he attended Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration.

Harper’s Weekly sent him to front lines of the Civil War. As the Civil War continued Homer’s style grew. He began to draw in a more artistic way with less attention to details. Homer drew scenes of battle and camp life. One of his more famous works was of Union Major General George B McClellan on the banks of the Potomac River in 1861. Following the war he began his career as a painter. Several of his painting are based on drawings Homer made during the war, including “the Sharpshooter” and the “Prisoners from the Front”.

In the 1880’s he moved to Prout’s Neck Maine. Here he painted scenes of the coast. Homer died September 29th 1910, he is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge Massachusetts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Keep The Confederates Busy

The First Battle of Dalton began February 22nd 1864 in Georgia.
As part of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s march on Meridan Mississippi east from Vicksburg, General Ulysses S Grant ordered that the Confederates be keep busy. Union Major General George Henry Thomas; leading part of the Army of the Cumberland, decided to explore Confederate General Joseph E Johnston’s troop strength. On February 22nd 1864 Thomas’ troop began skirmishing with the Confederates to see if the loss of two divisions made them vulnerable. Beginning the First Battle of Dalton in the Whitfield County, Georgia area. After several days of off and on fighting the Union army withdrew, realizing that Johnston could hold off any assault.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hung For A Slave Trader

Nathaniel Gordon was hung on February 21st 1862 as a slave trader.

Nathaniel Gordon was born about 1834 in Portland Maine. Using his ship the “Erie” he loaded 897 black Africans, raging in age from 6 months to forty-seven near the Congo River in West Africa. He and the ship were capture on August 8th 1860 by the USS “Mohican”. He was brought to trial for being engaged in the Slave Trade, using the Piracy Law of 1820. Gordon’s first trial ended in a hung jury, but the second trial held in New York City brought a conviction on November 9th 1861. He was sentenced to death by hanging on February 7th 1862. President Abraham Lincoln issued Gordon a stay of execution, so that he could his affairs in order. The night before the execution Gordon tried prevent the hanging by using strychnine to committed suicide. He was unsuccessful and became the only American ever executed for being a slave trader on February 21st 1862.

Friday, February 19, 2010

His Stirrup Broke

Confederate officer William Edwin Baldwin died February 19th 1864.

William Edwin Baldwin was born July 28th 1827. He owned a bookstore in Columbus Mississippi and was a member of the local militia. Baldwin enlisted in the Confederate army when Mississippi seceded, and was commissioned a Colonel in the 17th Mississippi Infantry. He was briefly posted in Pensacola Florida, before the Unit was sent to Tennessee and then Kentucky. Baldwin was captured at the Battle of Fort Donelson. After being exchanged he was sent to West Tennessee and promoted to Brigadier General. Baldwin took over command of a brigade of Tennessee and Mississippi soldiers, who saw service at the Battle of Coffeeville, and in the Vicksburg Campaign. He was captured again, but once again managed a release and was assigned to the District of Mobile. Baldwin died February 19th 1864 when his stirrup broke and he fell off his horse near Dog River Factory in Alabama.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The First And Only

Jefferson Davis took the oath of office February 18th 1861 and became the first and only President of the Confederacy.

Jefferson Davis was in his garden when news came that he had been elected President of the Confederate States of America. His wife Varina Davis thought the telegram, most have brought the news of a death in the family from her husband’s reaction. Davis left the next day for Confederate capital in Montgomery, Alabama were the inauguration ceremony was held February 18th 1861. As the first and only president of the Confederacy he grappled with trying to run a war and create a government for the new nation.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The First Sub

The Confederate’s submarine the CSS H L Hunley sunk the USS Housatonic February 17th 1864.

The Confederates hadn’t had good luck with submarines. Several inventors and their crews had died in the process of creating the CSS H L Hunley. On February 17th 1864 the Hunley attacked the United States sloop the USS Housatonic, which was part of the Union blockade in the Charleston harbor. Using a bomb attached to a long spar on the front, the Hunley rammed into the Housatonic as she was trying to slip anchor and back up. The bomb exploded the Housatonic’s magazine and the sloop sank in five minutes with five of her crew. This made the CSS Hunley the first submarine to sink an enemy ship. The Hunley also sank killing her 8 crew members including Lieutenant George E Dixon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The First Draft

The United States Senate passed the Conscription Act on February 16th 1863.

Two years into the Civil War, and both the Union and Confederates were finding it hard to get able-bodied men to serve. On February 16th 1863 the United States Senate passed the Conscription Act. It required all men between 20 and 45, including immigrants to register for the draft. Abraham Lincoln signed it into law on March 3rd 1863.

Men could avoid serving by paying $300 or finding a substitute. When the draft lottery was held in New York City on July 13th 1863 poor whites rioted. They attacked African Americans, burned houses, businesses and a black orphanage. The draft riot lasted five days.

Monday, February 15, 2010

No Respect For The Law

United States Marshals arrested escaped slave Shadrach Minkins February 15th 1851 in Boston Massachusetts.

Shadrach Minkins an African American slave was born most likely sometime in 1814 in Norfolk Virginia. He escaped in May 1850 and settled in Boston Massachusetts where he found work as a waiter at Taft‘s Cornhill Coffee House. It was in that year that the United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, making it legal for federal agents to capture slaves living in free states and return them to their former masters. Minkins was arrested on February 15th 1851 by United State Marshals, but the abolitionists Boston Vigilance Committee using force was able to rescue him.

Minkins was helped to get to Canada. He settled in Montreal and made a comfortable life for himself. His rescue placed pressure on President Millard Fillmore to bring in Federal Soldiers to help enforce the Fugitive Slave Law. The President sent a proclamation asking the citizens of Boston to honor the law and help in recapturing Minkins. He also ordered that those who liberated Minkins be brought to justice, although several were charge, they were all acquitted. Minkins died December 13th 1875 in Montreal and is buried in the Mount Royal Cemetery near two of his children.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Soldier's Artist

Artist and Civil War Medal of Honor winner Julian A Scott was born February 14th 1846.

Julian A Scott was born in Johnson Vermont February 14th 1846 the son of Charles and Lucy [Kellum] Scott. He attended Johnson State College. At the beginning of the Civil War several Scott brothers enlisted, including Julian’s older brother Lucian who was wounded at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, taken prison and almost died in Libby Prison. Julian enlisted at the age of 15 in the 3rd Vermont Infantry, Company “E” as a fifer. He received the Medal of Honor in February 1865 for rescuing wounded at the Battle of Lee’s Mills while under fire.

Following the war Scott graduated from the National Academy of Design in New York City. He then traveled to Europe to continue his education in art. He produced many works of his experiences of the soldiers experience during the Civil War. Scott’s master work of art is the “Battle of Cedar Creek” now located in the Vermont State House in Montpelier. The painting illustrates the Vermonter’s roll in the battle. He would travel west as part of a 1890 census party and there painted Native Americans in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.

Scott died at 55. He is buried in the Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains New Jersey.

Another website to look at about this subject
Julian A Scott, Artist

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Small Party

President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln entertained General and Mrs. Tom Thumb on February 13th 1863.

Charles S Stratton a little person who worked for PT Barnum; known as General Tom Thumb married February 10th 1863 to Lavinia Warren. They were married at the Grace Episcopal Church in New York City, and held a reception for 2,000 at the Metropolitan Hotel. On February 13th 1863 there was a small party of 50 held for the couple at the White House, given by Mary Lincoln. The whole Lincoln family attended with the exception of Robert Lincoln.

A must read web site on this subject
Reception for General Tom Thumb

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lincoln's Animals

President Abraham Lincoln tried to rescue six horses on February 10th 1863 when the White House stables caught fire.

The stables at the White House caught fire on February 10th 1863. Abraham Lincoln’s security men had to restrain him to keep his from entering the structure. There were six horses trapped in the burning stable, including the pony which belonged to Lincoln’s late son Willie. The President broke open the door and would have gone into the building had he not been held back. As was recalled by one witness; William P Bogardus of Lincoln, “As we stood watching the burning building some one put a hand on the tight board fence that surrounded the barn and vaulted over. The fence was over six feet high.” All the animals in the barn were lost including two pet goats.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Right To Vote

The Fifteenth Amendment, prohibiting any government in the United State from denying a citizen the right to vote was ratified February 3rd 1870.

The Fifteenth Amendment to the constitution was the third of the Reconstruction Amendments. It prohibited governments in the United States from using race, or prior position of slavery in regards to voting qualification. The original draft of the amendment guaranteed a right vote and hold office to all male citizens of the United States, but a House and Senate conference committee removed the office holding guarantee. It also left the right for States to impose literacy tests and poll taxes. The Amendment passed the Senate with 39 for, 13 against and 14 absent, the House vote was 144 for, 44 against and 35 absent. The Amendment was ratified on February 3rd 1870. After the amendment was adopted, the first African American to vote was Thomas Mundy Peterson on March 31st 1870 in Perth Amboy New Jersey.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Forgotten Second Son

Abraham Lincoln’s second son Edward Baker Lincoln died February 1st 1850.

Edward “Eddie” Baker Lincoln was born in the family home in Springfield, Illinois on March 10th 1846, the second child of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. He was named for a family friend Edward Dickinson Baker. He was remembered as a kind, tender hearted, and loving child. Eddie didn't make it to his fourth birthday, he died February 1st 1850. The census taken the year of Eddie’s death list his cause of death as “chronic consumption”, perhaps diphtheria. His parents were devastated by the death, and many feel it may have pushed Mary Lincoln toward instability. Eddie is buried in the family tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield Illinois.