Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Muddy Roads Again

The Battle of Dinwiddie Court House was fought on March 31st 1865 as part of the Appomattox Campaign.

Major General Philip H Sheridan on March 29th 1865 with his Cavalry and the Second and Fifth Corps started a march to out flank General Robert E Lee’s defenses at Petersburg. Their advance was slowed by muddy roads.

On March 31st 1865 the Confederate Cavalry of Major General W H Fitzhugh Rooney Lee and Infantry of Major General George Pickett connected with the Union vanguard to the north of Dinwiddie Court House. Driving the Union troops back, they formed a tight line around the village. Union reinforcements coming from the east caused Pickett to withdraw his soldiers, and set up a new line at the junction of Five Forks, which Lee ordered him to hold at all cost.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Elba Arkansas

Union troops under Colonel Powell Clayton engaged a strong Confederate force on March 30th 1864 during the Battle of Elba in Arkansas.

A Union force under Colonel Powell Clayton left Pine Bluff, Arkansas March 27th 1864 planning to attack a Confederate force leaving Monticello at the time. The Union men consisted of the 18th Illinois, 28th Wisconsin, 1st Indiana Infantries, and the 5th Kansas, 7th Missouri Cavalries, with four howitzers and two cannon. This force of Union soldiers arrived in Mount Elba on the Saline River on the afternoon of March 28th 1864. They drove off some Confederate pickets in the area. Putting up a pontoon bridge they crossed the river. Clayton left the infantry to protect the bridge, and advanced with most of the cavalry south of Mount Elba.

The men left at the Saline River dug in on the north side. A scouting party sent out on the morning of March 30th 1864 toward Monticello returned to report a large party of Confederate cavalry headed their way. The Confederates under command of Brigadier General Thomas Dockery were held up by the 28th Wisconsin for two hours, giving the forces at the river time to prepare their defenses. With about 1,500 Confederate cavalry, Dockery was able to advance, driving the Wisconsin men before them. Shortly after Clayton returned and with his cavalry drove the Confederates out. The Union side lost 4 men killed or missing, the Confederates lost 135 men.

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Impeached Governor

Governor of North Carolina; William Woods Holden on March 22nd 1871 became the first US Governor to be impeached out of office.

William Woods Holden was born November 24th 1818 near present day Eno River State Park, Orange County North Carolina. When he was sixteen he began a apprenticeship with the owner of the Hillsborough Recorder a newspaper located in Hillsborough North Carolina. By 19 Holden was working for the Raleigh Star in Raleigh North Carolina as a printer and writer, and by 1843 he owned the North Carolina Standard. Holden began his political career in 1844 when he was elected the North Carolina House of Commons.

In 1861 Holden was sent by the voters of Wake County to vote against secession at the State Convention. He joined the others in voting to seccesed when President Abraham Lincoln called for North Carolina to raise troops for the Union. Holden was a member of the North Carolina peace movement and was outspoken against the government of the Confederacy.

Holden was appointed Provisional Governor of North Carolina by President Andrew Johnson in 1865. He would be elected as a Republican to the job from 1868 to 1871. Holden hired detectives and requested military aid in 1869-70 to try to fight the Ku Klux Klan, taking a stand that most other southern governments ignored. In 1870 when the Democratic Party regained majority in North Carolina, Holden was brought up on impeachment charges around the Klan activity. He would become the first Governor in United State History to be removed from office through impeachment on March 22nd 1871.

Holden moved to Washington DC following the impeachment and became the editor of the National Republican. He would latter move back to Raleigh North Carolina and work as Post Master there. Holden died March 1st 1892.

Another web site about the subject that may of interest
William Woods Holden, 24 Nov. 1818-2 Nov. 1892

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oldest Officer

Union General Edwin Vose Sumner died March 21st 1863, he was the oldest field commander on either side during the Civil War.

Edwin Vose Sumner was born January 30th 1797 in Boston, Massachusetts the son of Elisha and Nancy [Vose] Sumner. He got his education at Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts. After trying a career in retail in Tory, New York in 1819 he entered the United States Army. By January 25th 1825 he had been promoted to First Lieutenant.

Sumner served in the Black Hawk War and other Indian campaigns. In 1833 he was promoted again to Captain in command of Company B of the First United States Dragoons. In 1838 Sumner was instructing cavalry at the Carlisle Barracks in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. During the Mexican American War received two brevet for bravery to the rank of Colonel. He would serve as the Military Governor of the New Mexico Territory from 1851 to 1853. Sumner was at Fort Leavenworth Kansas in 1856 during the time known as “Bleeding Kansas”. He was assigned by Lieutenant General Winfield Scott to accompany Abraham Lincoln in March 1861 from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, DC.

Sumner spent the first year of the Civil War as the commander of the Department of the Pacific in California, having been sent there to replace Albert Sidney Johnston. So Sumner saw no action in 1861. He was brought back east and on May 5th 1862 promoted to Major General and given command of one of the new Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He lead the II Corp through out the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days Battles. After Major General Joseph Hooker was placed in command of the Army, Sumner was relieved at his own request and appointed to command the Department of Missouri.

Taking advantage of time off, he traveled to Syracuse, New York to visit with a daughter. While there Sumner had heart attacked and died March 21st 1863. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, New York in the Teall family plot.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Encircling The Union Position

In Rutherford County Tennessee on March 20th 1863 the Battle of Vaught’s Hill was fought.

The Battle of Vaught’s Hill, or the Battle of Milton as it is also known occurred in Rutherford County Tennessee on March 20th 1863. Following the Battle of Stones River while things were quite, Union Colonel Albert S Hall lead a reconnaissance from Murfreesboro on March 18th of about 1,300 men. Going out to the northeast Hall’s troops ran into Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan, with about 3,500 soldiers. Hall’s Union soldiers fell back to the east of Milton Tennessee. Morgan’s cavalry gave chase and caught up with the Union troops on the morning of March 20th 1863 at Vaught’s Hill.

Morgan attacked both of Hall’s flanks, at time encircling the Union position. Hall set up perimeter defense and held off Morgan’s men until after 4:30 pm. At that time Morgan broke off the fight, hearing that Union reinforcements were on their way from Murfreesboro Tennessee.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Slowing The Union Up

The Battle of Averasborough in North Carolina was fought on March 16th 1865.

Part of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army in South Carolina, the left wing under the command of General Henry W Slocum and the right wing under Oliver Otis Howard marched with an objective of Goldsborough, North Carolinia. Howard marched toward Goldsborough while Slocum’s wing affected a march toward Raleigh in order to draw the Confederates.

Confederate General Joseph E Johnston attacked Slocum’s wing. Johnston sent General William J Hardee’s corps to slow Slocum up. On March 16th 1865 to two forces ran into each other in the town of Averasborough. Sherman who was traveling with Slocum’s wing ordered an attack on Hardee’s right and front. Although initially routing the Confederates, somehow Hardee’s men drew up and formed a defensive line in about a mile. The Confederates held this spot, holding off the Union’s repeated attacks until after dark. Hardee withdrew during the night having succeeded in delaying Slocum’s movements. The Union forces lost only 182 to the Confederates 865 casualties.

Monday, March 15, 2010

First To Independence, First To Secede

On March 15th 1776 South Carolina declared it’s independence from England.

The colony of South Carolina declared its independence from England on March 15th 1776. It was the first American colony to set up it’s own government. In order to get South Carolina’s support, Thomas Jefferson removed any mention of criticism of slavery from the Declaration of Independence. The American Revolution found many slaves fighting for England and the promise of freedom. An estimated 25,000 slaves fled or died during the war, about thirty percent of whom were from South Carolina.

South Carolina was also the first state to vote to secede from the United States on December 20th 1860. The opening shots of the Civil War were fired in South Carolina at Fort Sumter.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cannons Blew The Tops Off Trees

On the morning of March 14th 1862 the Union took the city of New Berne North Carolina.

Union General Ambrose E Burnside left Roanoke North Carolina on March 11th 1862 with 12,000 soldiers. They were met at Hatteras by 13 Union gunboats under the command of Union Commodore Stephen C Rowan. On March 12th 1862 the boats were in the Neuse River, and on the morning of the 13th they opened fire on the shore of North Carolina. Three brigades of infantry under Generals John G Foster, John G Parke and Jesse L Reno went ashore and began a march towards New Berne.

In New Berne North Carolina were 4,500 Confederates under the command of General Lawrence O’Bryan Branch. These men had very little military experience, most still didn’t have uniforms. These Confederates were in line in the early morning hours of March 14th 1862, as the Union naval cannon blew the tops off tree over their heads. Union troops attacked along the railroad, hitting against the Confederate fortifications. The battle went on for close to 4 hours before the Confederates were forced to retreat. Future Governor Zebulon Vance with the 26th North Carolina Infantry, isolated from there line held off Union troops, delaying the taking of the city. The Union occupied and held New Berne for the rest of the war. Union losses were about 476 killed, wounded, or missing, and the Confederates saw 584 losses.

An interesting web site with more about this battle
Battle of New Berne

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Although Excused From Duty

Civil War Medal of Honor award honoree John James Toffey died March 13th 1911.

John James Toffey was born June 1st 1844 in Pawling, New York. He joined the 21st New Jersey Volunteer Infantry as a Private on August 28th 1862. The 21st was a nine month regiment. Toffey received a commission to First Lieutenant in the 33rd New Jersey Volunteer’s in August of 1863. It was on November 23rd 1863 at the Battle of Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga Tennessee that Toffey earned the Medal of Honor for acts of bravery. Do to wounds he was discharged on June 2nd 1864 from the 33rd New Jersey, being placed in the Veteran Reserve Corps he continued to serve as a Lieutenant until 1866. Toffey was at Ford’s Theater and witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. He joined in the search for John Wilkes Booth and his conspirators, and testified at the trial.

Following the war Toffey went into public service. He served as the Hudson County, New Jersey Sheriff, an Alderman for Jersey City,New Jersey, and was a member of the New Jersey State Legislature. Toffey received the Congressional Medal of Honor on September 10th 1897, the citation reads; “Although excused from duty on account of sickness, went to the front in command of a storming party and with conspicuous gallantry participated in the assault of Missionary Ridge; was here wounded and permanently disabled“. He died March 13th 1911 in Pawling New York.

Friday, March 12, 2010

For The Union It Was A Studebaker

The American carriage maker and one of the founders of the H & C Studebaker Company, Clement Studebaker was born March 12th 1831.

Clement Studebaker was born in Pinetown, Pennsylvania March 12th 1831. He learned to be a blacksmith in father John’s shop and later worked for a while as a teacher. Along with his older brother Henry in 1852, Studebaker opened the H & C Studebaker Blacksmith shop in South Bend, Indiana. By 1858 two more brothers had joined the business and they began making wagons for the United States Army. The company continued to this throughout the Civil War. It was during the Civil War that brother Henry Studebaker sold out his part of the business as he didn’t believe in supporting the Union’s fighting the war.

They changed the name of the blacksmith shop to the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company in 1868. It would become the only manufacturing company of horse drawn vehicles to successfully switch over to motorized vehicles. Studebaker died November 27th 1901.

Another web site with great information about this subject

The History of the Studebaker Company

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Postmaster Who Made Money

John Henninger Reagan a Texas Democrat and the Postmaster General of the Confederacy died March 6th 1905.

John Henninger Reagan was born October 8th 1818 in Gatlinburg, Sevier County, Tennessee, the son of Timothy Richard and Elizabeth [Lusk] Reagan. He left Tennessee for Texas when he was nineteen, where he worked as surveyor from 1839 to 1843. Reagan studied for the law and began a practice in 1846. He was elected to Congress in 1857 where he mildly supported the Union until it became clear that Texas would secede and Reagan resigned.

Reagan participated in the secession convention in Austin, Texas. When Texas voted to leave the Union they voted Reagan to the Provisional Confederate Congress. Jefferson Davis didn't let him serve, instead appointing him to lead the Confederate Postal System. Reagan sent an agent to Washington with letters to certain heads of the United States Post Office asking them to come to work for him, and most did. Reagan had the Confederate Post Office up and running smoothly in only six weeks. Despite the difficulties of moving mail during the war, the Confederate Post Office actually turned a profit. When Richmond Virginia fell to the Union Army on April 2nd 1865, Reagan left with the rest of the Confederacy‘s government, he was captured May 10th 1865 near Irwinville, Georgia. He was imprisoned in Fort Warren in Boston, Massachusetts with Confederate Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens. Reagan was released late in 1865 and he went home to Palestine, Texas.

Reagan help the effort to have the republican governor Edmund J Davis removed from office. Then Texas sent him back to Congress, where he served from March 4th 1875 to March 3rd 1887. The state elected him to the Senate in 1887 and he served there until 1891, when he resigned to become the chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission. Reagan wrote a memoir, and was one of the founders of the Texas State Historical Society. He died of pneumonia at his home in Palestine, Texas March 6th 1905. He was the last member of the Confederate government to die.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Surrounded And Out Of Ammo

In Williamson County Tennessee on March 5th 1863 the Battle of Thompson’s Station took place.

Following the Battle of Stones River, Union infantry under Colonel John Coburn headed south toward Columbia to scout the area. About four miles from Spring Hill Coburn’s right wing attacked two Confederate regiments. Confederates Major General Earl Van Dorn and Brigadier General W H “Red” Jackson’s soldiers made a frontal attack on Coburn’s men. At the same time Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest swept around the Union left flank and into their rear. Forest was able to block the road to Columbia in the Union rear and capture Coburn’s supplies. After hard fighting, out of ammunition and surrounded Coburn surrendered. The Union troops lost 1,906 men either wounded or killed, the Confederates saw 300 casualties.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Goverment Help

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Land was voted on and passed through Congress on March 3rd 1865,

The Bill which created the Freedman’s Bureau, was started by President Abraham Lincoln. It was to set up as a government organization to aid former slaves and displaced poor southern whites with education and employment. The Bureau was to run for one year following the end of the Civil War. Congress passed the Bill into Law on March 3rd 1865.

The Bureau was part of the United States Department of War. Its first head was Union General Oliver Otis Howard. The Bureau operated from 1865 to 1872, when President Andrew Johnson disbanded the group. The original job of the Bureau was to provide food, housing, medical aid, and reunite families. It would also set up schools for the former slaves, more than 1,000 were built and staffed including many of the African American Colleges still educating in the United States today.

There was hostility against the Freedmen’s Bureau from many southern whites. The plan to redistribute land to freed blacks taken from Southerners who fought for the Confederacy was thwarted by Andrew Johnson pardoning these men and returning their land to them. The agency was filled with corruption and came to an end in 1872.