Friday, April 30, 2010

He Fell From A Porch

Joseph Evan Davis the son of Confederate President Jefferson Davis died April 30th 1864.

Joseph Evan Davis was born April 18th 1859 in Washington, DC, the son of Jefferson and Varina Davis, while his father was serving in the United States Senate from Mississippi. Joseph was named after his Uncle and a Great-grandfather, over the protests of his mother. “Little Joe” was a bright, very well behaved boy and the favorite of his father.

On April 30th 1864 at age four he fell from the east portico of the Confederate White House in Richmond, Virginia. Accounts of the fall say it took place between 5 and 7 pm, while his parents were out. Joe was found by a servant lying on the pavement below the porch, a fall of about fifteen feet. He lived until just about the time his parent arrived back home. Jefferson Davis spent the night pacing and refused to see anyone.

Joe’s funeral was held on May 1st 1864 at St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond Virginia. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. The children of Richmond raised $40 in May 1866 to purchased a monument for Joe’s grave. There are no known photos of the child.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saving A School And A Town

The founding of Theta Xi on April 29th 1864 may have held the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute together.

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [known as RPI] in Troy, New York the Theta Xi Fraternity was founded on April 29th 1864. It was started as an engineering fraternity. Founded by eight men, Peter Henry Fox who was from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Christopher Waite the son of a future United States Supreme Court Chief Justice from Toledo, Ohio, Nathaniel Starbuck from Troy, New York whose family was the local support of Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Packard from Niagara Falls, New York, Thomas Raymond from Westborough, Massachusetts, George Brainerd from Brooklyn, New York, Henry Farnum from Port Jervis, New York and Samuel Buel Jr from Poughkeepsie, New York.

The Civil War had threatened RPI’s future and in 1864 they were trying to rebuild. The factories in Troy had all but closed down in 1861 for lack of men. Then in 1862 a fire in the city burnt some 75 acres destroying most of Troy’s business section including the original campus of RPI. The founders of Theta Xi were all members of Sigma Delta, but dissension in October 1863 caused Brainerd to resign from the society. It was decided to try to bring another fraternity to the school and Sigma Phi was looked at by the men. Feeling that Sigma Delta didn't hold with their ideals the eight young men decided to form a new national society.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Military Man

General Andrew Jackson Smith who was a Union Corps commander was born April 28th 1815.

Andrew Jackson Smith was born April 28th 1815 in Bucks County Pennsylvania. He attended the United States Military Academy and graduated 36th out of 45 in 1837. Smith saw service in the Mexican American War, and saw action in the Oregon and Washington territories. He moved up the ranks and was a Major by 1861.

When the Civil War started Smith was made Colonel of the 2nd California Volunteer Cavalry. In 1862 he had moved east to command the Union cavalry of the Department of Mississippi and had the rank of Brigadier General. He would be assigned to the Army of Tennessee and took part in the capture of Arkansas Post. Smith commanded a division in the Vicksburg Campaign. He was brevetted Brigadier General for defeating Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest in the Battle of Tupelo July 14th 1864. He then joined forces with Major General George Henry Thomas when Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood threatened Nashville, Tennessee. Smith was in command of the 16th Corps in the final campaign in Mobile Alabama in 1865.

Smith resigned his commission and became a Colonel of the United States 7th Cavalry in 1866, serving in West. In April 1869 Smith retired from the military. He became the Postmaster of St Louis, Missouri thanks to an appointment from Ulysses S Grant. Smith died in St Louis January 30th 1897 and is buried there.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Train Took Him Home

The train carrying the bodies of Abraham Lincoln and his son Willie left Washington DC on April 21st 1865.

After Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, his body was taken from Washington DC to Springfield Illinois. His coffin was taken at 7am to the depot and place in the funeral car. The funeral train which carried Lincoln’s body and his son William Wallace “Willie” Lincoln was accompanied by Lincoln’s oldest son Robert Todd Lincoln, and other dignitaries. The train left Washington DC on April 21st 1865 at 8am to make a 1,654 mile trip. The funeral train was made up of nine cars, including the hearse and baggage car. The car which held Lincoln’s body had been built for the President’s use, but this was the first time he had ever ridden in it. Many stops were made along way were Lincoln’s body laid in state. The train traveled somewhat along the route which Lincoln had traveled on his way to his first inauguration 1861. No one traveled on the train unless authorized by the War department, the train never traveled faster than 20 miles an hour. Mary Todd Lincoln was to upset to make the trip and remained at the White House, she wouldn’t return to Illinois until a month later.

Lincoln would be interred at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield Illinois, along with his wife and three of his four sons [Robert Todd Lincoln is buried in Arlington National Cemetery]. The train was destroyed by a prairie fire in 1911 in Minneapolis Minnesota.

A couple of other web site I recommend looking at about this subject
Abraham Lincoln in Buffalo; A Solemn Day In The City
The Lincoln Funeral Train

Monday, April 19, 2010

The First Blood Shed

Considered the first blood shed of the Civil War on April 19th 1861 the Baltimore Riot or the Pratt Street Massacre took place.

The Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12th 1861 signaled the beginning of the Civil War. At that time the states of Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia had not seceded from the United States. There was some question whether these states and the border states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri would remain loyal to the Union or secede. Many influential Marylanders who were supportive of secession began pushing hard for their State to leave the Union. When Lincoln’s call for troops went out, the secessionist became even louder.

On April 18th 1861; 460 Pennsylvania Volunteers marched through Baltimore Maryland. The anti-Union people weren’t ready for them, but when the next regiment came through this had changed. The 6th Massachusetts on its way to Washington DC on April 19th 1861 had to pass through Baltimore Maryland. There was no rail connection between the two Baltimore Maryland train stations; the Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, at the time. The train cars were pulled between the two station by horse along Pratt Street. A mob of Southern sympathizer blocked this route, causing the troops to have get out of the cars and march in formation through Baltimore.

The mob continued the follow the men of the 6th Massachusetts, breaking windows and causing other damage as they went. At some point these Confederate sympathizer attacked the rear companies, using bricks, and paving stones. This caused the soldiers who panicked to fire into the mob, finally leading to a hand to hand fight. The 6th Massachusetts did make it to the Baltimore and Ohio train station with the help of the Baltimore police, who kept the crowd away from the soldiers.

The Regiment abandoned a lot of their equipment. Twelve civilians and four soldiers [Corporal Sumner Needham, and Privates Luther C Ladd, Charles Taylor, and Addison Whitney] were killed. There were also 36 soldiers who were wounded and had to left behind. After this riot there were a few other small skirmishes between the Baltimore police and citizen from about a month.

Other good information on the web
Riots, Baltimore, 1861

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Poison Spring

Fought as part of the Camden Expedition, the Battle of Poison Spring occurred on April 18th 1864 in Ouachita County Arkansas.

Union Major General Frederick Steele at Camden Arkansas found himself running out of supplies. He sent a large foraging party twenty miles up the Prairie D’Ane - Camden Road along the White Oak Creek to collect corn the Confederate had stored there. With the corn loaded into wagons on April 18th 1864 Colonel James M Williams and his men began their return trip to Camden. Still about fifteen miles from Camden on the Camden - Washington Road near Poison Spring the Union soldiers were attacked by Confederate Brigadier Generals John Sappington Marmaduke and Samuel B Maxey. The Confederates hit Williams from the front and rear, forcing them to retreat north into the marsh. The Union troops regrouped after a two and half mile pursuit by the Confederates, and retreated back to Camden.
The Union saw losses of 301 men, most of whom were from the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers Infantry. [Many of the black soldiers were killed after the battle was over.] They also lost 198 wagons with 5,000 bushels of corn. The Confederates lost 114 men.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One General For Sixty Enlisted

General Ulysses S Grant ends the exchange of prisoners with the South on April 17th 1864. He thought the practice was prolonging the war.

In the beginning of the Civil War the Federal government declined to negotiate the exchange of prisoners, as the government didn’t recognize the legitimacy of the Confederacy. Union General John Dix and Confederate General D H Hill met in July 1862 to set up a formal Governmentally sanctioned exchange. The two Generals decided on a rate for exchange such as one lieutenant for four enlisted, or one General for sixty enlisted.

General Henry Halleck in 1863 took over the Union duty of prisoner exchange. Secretary of War Edwin M Stanton insisted that these exchanges to be less numerous. When General Ulysses S Grant took over command of the Union Army he called for end to the exchanges April 17th 1864. He said of his decision "Every man we hold, when released on parole or otherwise, becomes an active soldier against us at once either directly or indirectly. If we commence a system of exchange which liberates all prisoners taken, we will have to fight on until the whole South is exterminated. If we hold those caught they amount to no more than dead men. At this particular time to release all rebel prisoners North would insure Sherman's defeat and would compromise our safety here." Grant’s order increased the suffering of POW’s on both sides, but most likely shortened the war. In November 1864 the Confederacy was so overwhelmed with taking care of Union prisoners that they began sending them back north without an exchange.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Hamper The Enemy

The Battle of Dam No 1 was fought on April 16th 1862 as part of the larger Peninsula Campaign.

A part of Union Major General George B McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign probed the defensive line at Dam No 1 on the Warwick River in Virginia. General Winfield Scot Hancock had reported a potential weak point there on April 6th 1862. The Confederate had been strengthen their position there and McClellan was concerned they would impede his placing siege batteries. McClellan ordered Brigadier General William F “Baldy” Smith to “hamper the enemy” so that they couldn’t complete their defensive works.

At 8am April 16th 1862 there was an artillery bombardment, after which Brigadier General William T H Brooks sent skirmishers from the Vermont Brigade forward to fire on the Confederates. Ordered to cross the river if it appeared the Confederate forces were withdrawing, at 3pm four companies of the 3rd Vermont Infantry went across the dam. Confederate Colonel Thomas Cobb of the Georgia Legion attacked the Vermonters. It was during this action that drummer Julian A Scott would be awarded the Medal of Honor for making several trips across the creek with wounded while under fire. Without any reinforcements the Union troops fell back across the dam. Smith ordered the 6th Vermont at about 5pm to attack downstream from the dam while the 4th Vermont made an action on the dam. This maneuver failed when the Vermonters came under heavy fire from the Confederates. Some of the Vermont wounded fell into the pond behind the dam and were drowned.

The Union lost 35 men dead and 121 wounded at Dam No 1, gaining nothing. The Confederates saw losses of about 70 men in the action.

Another web site about this subject that is worth a look
The Alexander Guards

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Send Me 75,000

President Abraham Lincoln calls for the states to send 75,000 men on April 15th 1861.

Following the surrender of Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Proclamation calling for the states to send 75,000 volunteer troops on April 15th 1861. Lincoln stated that the laws of the United States were being opposed and thwarted, and that the rebellion must be suppressed. He listed the offending states of, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. These states represented a force to large to be dealt with by using the judiciary and Federal Marshals. The words Lincoln used in the Proclamation seem to show that he looked at this not as a Civil War but as an insurrection. He didn’t want to offend the pro-Union people who were still in the south. Tens of thousands of men mostly in the north eagerly responded, enlisting for ninety days. The remaining southern states refuse to comply with Lincoln’s Proclamation, and four more of the states seceded raising the number of the Confederacy to eleven.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

First American Abolition Society

The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage was formed in Philadelphia Pennsylvania April 14th 1775.

The first American abolition society formed in Philadelphia Pennsylvania on April 14th 1775. “The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage, would meet for times. It was brought together by the Quaker Anthony Benezt. The organization was renamed in February 1784 as the “Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage”. Sometime in 1785 Benjamin Franklin became the president of the society.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Surrender

Fort Sumter was surrendered on April 13th 1861

Confederate Brigadier General PGT Beauregard who was in command of the provisional forces in Charleston, South Carolina demanded the surrender of the garrison at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The commander of Fort Sumter, Major Robert Anderson refused, and the Confederate batteries opened fire on the fort on April 12th 1861. Unable to effectively return fire Anderson surrendered the fort around 2 pm on April 13th 1861. Terms were settled that evening, and Fort Sumter was evacuated the next day. The Union troops boarded a Confederate steamer for the night, before being transported the next morning the Union steamer the “Baltic”. Anderson took the flag from Fort Sumter north with him, were it became a uniting symbol for the Union.

Another good web site to check out on this subject
Fort Sumter April 12-14 1861

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ben Hur

Union General, lawyer, governor, and author Lewis Wallace was born April 10th 1827.

Lewis Wallace was born April 10th 1827 in Brookville Indiana the son of David and Esther French [Test] Wallace. He worked as a clerk and studied law. During the Mexican American War Wallace served with the First Indiana as 2nd Lieutenant, seeing only minor action. Following the war in 1849 he became a lawyer, and finally became an Indiana State Senator.

At the beginning of the Civil War Wallace served as the Indiana Adjutant General helping to raise troops, but then moved on to Colonel of the 11th Indiana. He continued to move up in rank to Brigadier General and saw action at Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Monocacy and others. At the close of the war Wallace sat on the court-martials trail that sent Andersonville commander Henry Wirz and the Lincoln conspirators to the gallows. Wallace resigned from US service November 30th 1865. He would latter serve the government as a doplomat to Turkey, and as Governor of the New Mexico Territory during the “Lincoln County War“. After all this what Wallace is best remembered for is writing, he was the author of “Ben Hurl”.

Wallace died in Crawfordsville Indiana February 15th 1905 most likely from cancer. He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Surrender House

The Wilmer McLean house where Confederate General Robert E Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S Grant was opened to the public on April 9th 1949.

The “Surrender House” was purchased for $1,250 by Nathaniel Ragland in 1875. His widow sold the property for $10,000 in 1891 to Captain Myron Dunlap of Niagara Falls New York. Dunlap purchased the property planning to make money off the history of the house. Among the ideas, were to take the house apart and move it to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition as an exhibit, or to Washington DC and charge fees to see the home. Detailed drawing were made, the house was dismantled, and packed to be shipped, but Dunlap ran out of money, and the house was left forgotten for fifty years.

The United States Congress created the Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument in 1940. The archaeological work began on the 970 acre property in February 1941. The site was cleaned of years of brush and honeysuckle, and a meticulous reconstruction began. The bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 brought everything to a halt. Work was begun again in 1947.

Eighty-four years after Lee and Grant meet in the McLean House for the surrender the National Park Service opened the house on April 9th 1949 to the public. There was a dedication ceremony April 16th 1950 at which descendents of Robert E Lee and Ulysses S Grant cut the ribbon.