Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weakening The Petersburg Line

Union Major General Benjamin F Butler’s Army of the James crossed the James River during the early morning hours of September 29th 1864, to assault the Richmond defenses. The Union troops had early success at the Battle of New Market Heights [aka Battle of Chaffin‘s Farm]. Black troops from the Eleventh Corps were heavily engaged here, with fourteen receiving the Medal of Honor for Valor. Then the Confederates pulled together and contained the breakthrough. General Robert E Lee reinforced his line north of the James River and counterattacked on September 30th 1864. After two days of fighting and about 5000 casualties, the Union forces entrenched, and the Confederates moved into a new line of work. As General Ulysses S Grant planned Lee shifted his troops to meet this threat to Richmond, thus weakening his line at Petersburg.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jackson's Ordnance Officer

Alexander “Sandie” Swift Pendleton was born September 28th 1840 in Alexandria Virginia. He was the son of Minister and Confederate General William N and Anzolette Elizabeth [Page] Pendleton. He grew up in Maryland. Pendleton graduated in 1857 from Washington College were he first met Thomas J “Stonewall” Jackson. He was studying for a Master’s degree at the University of Virginia when the war started.

Pendleton received a commission of Second Lieutenant in the Provisional Army of Virginia. “Stonewall” Jackson, who was in command of the Confederate forces in Harpers Ferry had Pendleton assigned to his staff as an Ordnance officer. Pendleton would serve with Jackson until the General’s death after the Battle of Chancellorsville. Pendleton would continue with the Confederate Second Corps under General Richard S Ewell. General Jubal A Early took over command in 1864, and he promoted Pendleton to Lieutenant Colonel and chief of staff. During the Third Battle of Winchester on September 19th 1864 the Confederates were forces to retreat to Fisher’s Hill. When the Union force under Major General Philip H Sheridan attacked the hill on September 22nd 1864; Pendleton was mortally wounded. He was moved to the town of Woodstock, where he died on September 23rd 1864. He was buried near the battle field, but latter his body was exhumed and sent home to his family. He was reburied October 24th 1864 near “Stonewall” Jackson.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Chasseurs d'Afrique

The Union’s first all black regiment was formed September 27th 1862 in New Orleans Louisiana.

The 1st Louisiana Native Guard [which would become the 73rd Regiment United States Colored Troops], the first all black regiment to fight for the Union Army was formed September 27th 1862. They sometimes called themselves the “Chasseurs d’Afrique”; the Hunters of Africa. New Orleans Louisiana fell into Union hand in April 1862. Union Major General Benjamin F Butler organized the regiment whose initial strength was about a thousand men. Membership in the Guard was mainly made up of “free men of color”, but there were some runaway slave from nearby plantation. Field grade officers [majors, and colonels] were all white men, but line officers were all black.

From its formation until May 1863 the regiment mostly performed fatigue duty, and guarding railroad depots between New Orleans and Brashear City Louisiana. The number of men had dwindled to about half. The Guards first combat came on May 27th 1863 during the first Siege of Port Hudson. In April 1864 the Guard was dissolved and its members became part of the newly organized 73rd and 74th Regiments of the United State Colored Troops. At the end of the war about 100 of the original 1,000 members of the First Louisiana Native Guard still remained in uniform.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Little Rock Fell

Union Major General Frederick Steele the commander of the Army of Arkansas moved on Little Rock, Arkansas on September 10th 1863, setting off the Battle of Bayou Fourche. Steele sent Brigadier General John W Davidson’s cavalry across the Arkansas River about five miles east of Bayou Fourche toward Little Rock Arkansas. Steele meanwhile took his troops, attacking the Confederates under Brigadier General John Sappington Marmaduke, who where entrenched on the north side of the river. Davidson found Confederate troops at Bayou Fourche, and with the help of Union artillery forced them into a fighting retreat back to Little Rock. Steele was able to occupy Little Rock on the night of September 10th 1863.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Lost Orders

Special Order Number 191, written by Confederate General Robert E Lee on September 9th 1862, outlined plans for the Maryland Campaign. The Order detailed the dividing of his army, with Major General Thomas J Stonewall Jackson going to Harpers Ferry, Major General James Longstreet north to Boonsboro and the rest of the army to Hagerstown. Confederate Adjutant Robert H Chilton made copies of #191 for each commander and their subordinate commanders. One of the copies which was made for Major General Daniel Hill, was in some way left at the Best Farm in Frederick County Maryland.

Union Private Barton W Mitchell of the 27th Indiana found the Orders on September 13th 1862, in an envelope wrapped around a bunch of cigars. Giving the find to his superiors Orders #191 made its way into the hands of Union Major General George B McClellan. McClellan having the Confederate troop movements was reported to have said, "Here is a paper with which, if I cannot whip Bobby Lee, I will be willing to go home." The two armies would meet at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland, the bloodiest day of the war.

For further information about this subject check out this web site Special Order No 191

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Chief Commissary

Union Brigadier General William Wallace Burns was born September 3rd 1825 in Coshocton, Ohio, the son of Joseph Burns. He received an appointment to the United State Military Academy at West Point, graduating 28th out of a class of 38 in 1847. He served as a Lieutenant in the 3rd US Infantry at various Indian postings in the West and Southwest. In 1858 he took a staff commission possision to Captain as Commissary of Subsistence.

In the opening months of the Civil War he was Chief Commissary in the West Virginia Campaign under General George B McClellan. Burns received an appointment to Brigadier General in September 1861, and the next spring he was in command of a Brigade in General John Sedgwick’s Division of the Second Corps during the Peninsular Campaign. He rose to command of the First Division of the Ninth Corps during the Battle of Fredericksburg. Burns must have preferred commissary, as he resigned his commission in March 1863 and took the rank of Major, serving as the Chief of Commissary in the Department of the Northwest until the end of the war.

After the war Burns stayed with the Commissary Service on duty in Washington Territory and was promoted to Colonel in 1884. He received a brevet to Brigadier General for meritorious service in the Civil War. Burns retired September 1890. He died April 19th 1892 at Beaufort, South Carolina, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Town That Started The Civil War

Presbyterian Ministers John Jay Shipherd and Philo P Stewart founded on September 2nd 1833 Oberlin College a private liberal arts college in Oberlin Ohio. Motivated by Pastor John Frederick Oberlin, the college was set up to “train teachers and other Christian leaders for the boundless most desolate fields in the West." That December twenty-nine male and fifteen female students began classes. Two years latter in 1835 Oberlin was receiving students “irrespective of color." Oberlin College was the first school to graduate an African American woman; Mary Jane Petterson with a BA degree in 1862. Oberlin Ohio the town around the college was know as the “town that started the Civil War”. In 1858 the faculty and students of the school took part in the rescue of a fugitive slave, which got national news coverage as the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue. A couple of students participated in John Brown’s raid on Harper's Ferry.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Captured Guns

The Battle of Britton’s Lane near the town of Denmark, Madison County, Tennessee was fought September 1st 1862. Union Colonel Elias E Dennis was leading a force of cavalry, infantry and a battery, when they encountered Confederate Cavalry led by Colonel Frank C Armstrong at Britton’s Lane. The Union troops set up a defensive position along a wooded ridgeline. The Confederate force split with the majority attacking from the front, while a small detachment hit the Union rear. The Confederates captured two guns and a small wagon train, of which they burnt four before the Union troops recaptured the remaining wagons. After four hours of fighting the Confederates withdrew from the battlefield.

Another web site to check about this subject - The Battle of Britton's Lane