Sunday, July 18, 2010

Buried Him In A Common Trench

Union Colonel Robert Gould Shaw was killed in the assault on the battery of Fort Wagner on July 18th 1863.

Robert Gould Shaw was born October 10th 1837 in Boston Massachusetts the son of Francis George and Sarah Blake [Sturgis] Shaw. They were a prominent abolitionist family. Shaw’s family lived in a big estate in West Roxbury, and in his early teens he studied and traveled in Europe. He attended Harvard University from 1856 to 1859, but dropped out before graduating.

When the southern states began to secede, Shaw like many young men joined the military, first with the thirty day unit of the 7th New York Infantry and then with the 2nd Massachusetts. While he was serving in 1862 his father asked him to take command of an all black Regiment, the 54th Massachusetts. After careful thought Shaw accepted, although he didn’t think it was likely that a free black unit would succeed. He became impressed with the men of the 54th and when found that black soldiers would receive less pay then white soldiers he inspired boycott until the pay was equalized. Shaw married Annie Kneeland Haggerty May 2nd 1863 just before the unit left Boston.

The 54th Massachusetts was sent to Charleston South Carolina. On July 18th 1863 the 54th along with two brigades of white troops assaulted the Confederate battery of Fort Wagner. Shaw led his men into battle, he mounted the parapet to urge his men forward and was shot through the heart dying instantly. The Confederates intending to insult Shaw had him buried in mass grave with his black soldiers. The Confederate commanding officer; General Johnson Hagood said, had Shaw “been in command of white troops, I should have given him an honorable burial; as it is, I shall bury him in the common trench with the negroes that fell with him." Shaw’s family however claimed they were proud to know their son was buried with his troops.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The First Confederate Victory

The Battle of Scary Creek in today’s West Virginia was fought July 17th 1861.
Just four months into the beginning of the Civil War and a few day before the Battle of First Manassas the Battle of Scary Creek occurred. Fought July 17th 1861 near present day Nitro, Putnam, W Virginia about ten miles north of Charleston WV. Union troops under General Jacob Cox moved into the Kanawha Valley from Ohio. Confederate General Henry A Wise had a couple thousand soldiers near present day St Albans, West Virginia.
Confederate Captain George S Patton had command of a line along Scary Creek, a few miles in front of the main camp. Several Union regiments under Colonel John W Lowe advanced on them. In a heated five hour fight the Union forces attempted to charge across a bridge near the mouth of the creek, but were forced to withdraw. Captain Patton was wounded during the action and Captain Albert Gallatin Jenkins took over the Rebel command.

For some reason the Confederates thought the Union troops were being reinforced, and retreat as well. They soon realized their mistake and returned to take control of the battlefield. Casualties were light on both sides, with the Federals loosing about 44 killed and wounded, and Confederates about 17. This Confederate victory was quickly overshadowed by First Bull Run.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wife, Mother, Hellcat

Mary Todd Lincoln the First Lady of the United States died July 16th 1882.

Mary Ann Todd Lincoln was born December 13th 1818, the daughter of Robert Smith and Elizabeth [Parker] Todd in Lexington Kentucky. Her mother died when she was seven and Mary’s father remarried in 1826 to Elizabeth Humphreys. Mary and her step-mother did not get along. She grew up with 14 siblings in an upper-class home in Lexington. She left home at a young age to attend a finishing school where she learned dance, French, and social graces. When Mary was twenty she went to live with her sister Elizabeth [Todd] Edwards where she became popular among Springfield Illinois’ young men; among them Stephen A Douglas. Mary was twenty-three when she married Abraham Lincoln November 4th 1842 at her sister’s home.

Mary supervised their growing family in Springfield Illinois in a several rent homes and a small cottage, alone quite often while Lincoln traveled Illinois as a circuit lawyer. All of the Lincoln children where born in Springfield, Robert Todd in 1843, Edward Baker in 1846, William Wallace in 1850, and Thomas “Tad” in 1853. By all accounts Mary was a indulgent, loving mother.

As First Lady, Mary found herself criticized in the newspapers as being plain and plump. She spoke her mind on political matters and the White House staff called her the “Hellcat”. Following the years after her husband’s death Mary traveled, and in 1875 was committed to an asylum by her oldest son. In the 1880’s Mary moved in with her sister Elizabeth again in Springfield, rarely leaving her room. She was sixty-three when she died there July 16th 1882. Mary is buried with her husband and children in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield Illinois.

Another web site of interest on this subject First Lady Biography: Mary Lincoln

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Last Confederate State

Georgia was readmitted to the Union July 15th 1870.
Georgia was placed under military rule during the era of Reconstruction. It was first allowed back into the Union in 1868, but was expelled in 1868 because it wouldn’t ratify the 15th Amendment. On July 15th 1870 Georgia became the last of the Confederate states to be permanently readmitted to Union.
This is a good web site for more information about this topic

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The First General To Be Killed

The first General to be killed in the Civil War, Confederate Robert Selden Garnett died July 13th 1861.
Robert Selden Garnett was born December 16th 1819 on his families plantation in Essex County Virginia. Garnett went to the US Military academy graduating in 1841. He was 27th out of a class of fifty-two. He became a Second Lieutenant in the 4th United States Artillery, spending his first year on the Canadian Border in Fort Ontario New York. He would go on to serve under Zachary Taylor during the Mexican-American War, and service with the 7th US in Florida during the Seminole Wars, and the 9th US in Washington Territory fighting against Puget Sound Indians. Garnett was traveling in Europe after the death of his wife and son, when Virginia seceded from the United States.
Garnett resigned his commission April 1861 and began serving under Robert E Lee as the Adjutant General of Virginia. In June 1861 he was made a Brigadier General and Lee assigned him to reorganize the Confederate forces in western Virginia. The Confederates under pressure from Union Major General George B McClellan were forced to withdraw from West Virginia following the Battle of Rich Mountain. Trying to get his 4,500 men out of northern Virginia Garnett found his escape route to Beverly blocked. Using another route to march out going northeast and fighting a rear guard delaying action at Corrick’s Ford on July 13th 1861; Garnett was shot and killed. His body was recovered by the Union army. A Union Honor Guard traveled under a flag of truce to Baltimore Maryland to deliver Garnett’s body to relatives for burial. He would latter be re-buried next to his wife and son in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn New York.
An exhalent web site for information about this subject
Robert S. Garnett (1819–1861)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Zook's Regiment Plunged In

General Samuel K Zook led his men in to battle on horseback July 2nd 1863.
On the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, General Daniel Sickles’ Third Corps was crumbling under Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s assault. It was just after 5pm when Brigadier General John C Caldwell’s division which included Brigadier General Samuel K Zook’s brigade were sent in to reinforce the line.
Zook was directed by Major Tremain; a staff officer of the Third Corps to the Wheatfield to assist Colonel Regis de Trobriand near the Stony Hill. Zook led his men up the hill on horseback, which attracted Confederate General Joseph B Kershaw’s men of the 3rd and 7th South Carolinians. His regiment plunged forward with their General. Zook was shot in the shoulder, chest and abdomen. Supported by two aids in the saddle, he was moved to the tollhouse on the Baltimore Pike, and then when it was thought the Confederate attack might work he was moved farther down the road. He would die from his wounds the next day July 3rd 1863.
There is a small monument along the Wheatfield Road in Gettysburg commemorating Zook’s death.
A great website for more information about the Battle of the Wheatfield on the second day of Gettysburg. The Wheatfield

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Old Pop

General George Sears Greens graduated from West Point July 1st 1823, he was second in a class of thirty-five.
George Sears Green the son of Caleb Green was born in Warwick Rhode Island May 6th 1801. He graduated from West Point July 1st 1823, and served as an artillery officer until 1836. He then worked for twenty-five years as a civil engineer. Green volunteered in January 1862 as the Colonel of the 60th New York Infantry, becoming a Brigadier General in April. Commanding a brigade he saw service in the battles of Antietam, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. At Gettysburg he was the oldest Union General on the field, his men calling him “Old Pop“ or “Old Man Greene“. At Gettysburg on the evening of the second day it was Greene’s defense of Culp’s Hill that saved the Union right flank.
After the war Greene went back to his civil engineering work in New York. He became one of the founders of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Architects. He also wrote a genealogy “Greenes of Rhode Island” in 1903.