Friday, December 31, 2010

Fight Front And Back

The Battle of Parker’s Cross Roads was fought in Henderson County, Tennessee December 31st 1862.

Union Brigadier General Jeremiah C Sullivan with two brigades under the commands of Colonels Cyrus L Dunham and John W Fuller were trying to keep Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest from re-crossing the Tennessee River. Forrest was trying to get back from West Tennessee after his raid to cut the railroad. Around nine on the morning of December 31st 1862 the two sides meet at Parker’s Cross Road and began skirmishing. Forrest took up position along a wooded ridge and with the Confederate artillery got the advantage. Dunham’s brigade repelled several attacks to their front and flanks suffering heavy casualties.

Forrest sent Dunham a demand for surrender during a lull in the fighting. Dunham refused and was getting ready for the next Confederate attack when Fuller’s brigade arrived. Fuller’s men surprised the Confederates and made an attack on their rear. Forrest changed fronts attacking Fuller, then changed fronts again rushing past Dunham’s brigade. The Confederates withdrew to the south to Lexington, Tennessee, crossing the Tennessee River. The Union lost about 237 men, while the Confederates saw 500 killed, wounded, or missing.

I would also send you to this web site for more information, The Parker's Crossroads Battlefield Association

Thursday, December 30, 2010

She Was In Danger Of Swamping

The first ironclad warship commissioned by the United States Navy, the USS Monitor foundered in the water off Cape Hatteras December 30th 1862.

The Monitor had just left the Navy Yard in Washington DC after being overhauled, and returned to combat in November 1862. She sailed in the Newport News area throughout November and early December. In late December she was ordered south to be part of the blockade off the Carolinas. On December 29th 1862 the Monitor left Hampton Roads, towed by the USS Rhode Island, headed for Beaufort, North Carolina. The two ships moved slowly just off the coast of North Carolina, when winds picked up to gale force. Nearing Cape Hatteras, the water began coming into the Monitor faster then her pumps could get rid of it.

Just before midnight December 30th 1862 it became clear the Monitor was in danger of swamping. With the in coming sea water drowning the boiler, the Monitor’s steam pressure was falling fast. The men on the Monitor cut the tow line and dropped their anchor, sending out a distress sign to the USS Rhode Island. Rescue boats managed to save forty-two of the men on the Monitor despite the high seas. They lost sixteen men, who were swept away. The Monitor went under in the early morning hours of December 31st 1862.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We Will Lose Thousands Of Men

On December 29th 1862 a frontal assault was fought as part of the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou.

Part of the opening engagement of the Vicksburg Campaign, the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou or Battle of Walnut Hills was fought December 26th - 29th 1862. Three Union divisions under the command of Major General William Tecumseh Sherman disembarked at Johnson’s Plantation on the Yazoo River. A fourth division landed upstream. On December 27th 1862 the Union troops moved through the swamps toward Walnut Hills. Several attempts were made to get around these defenses on December 28th 1862.

Sherman ordered an artillery bombardment on the morning of December 29th 1862 of the Confederate defenses on Walnut Hills under the command of Lieutenant General John C Pemberton. After four hours of bombardment the Union infantry deployed in line. Sherman said at the time, "We will lose 5,000 men before we take Vicksburg, and may as well lose them here as anywhere else." At noon the Union troops moved forward. They crossed water barriers and carried the Confederate advance line by sheer numbers. When the Union soldiers came up against the main Confederate line they fell under heavy fire, and had to retreat back into the bayou. Sherman then ordered an attack against the center of the Confederate line on Chickasaw Bayou; the Indian Mound area defended by the men of Confederate General John Gregg. Five attempts were repulsed by the Confederates defending the Indian Mounds.

That night Sherman said he was "generally satisfied with the high spirit manifested" within his men, even though their attacks had failed. Sherman decided that further attacks on the Confederate position would be futile. The Union lost 1,776 killed, wounded or missing. Confederate casualties were 207.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Absolution To The Irish Brigade

The priest who gave a general absolution at Gettysburg, Reverend William Corby died December 28th 1897.

William Corby was born October 2nd 1833 in Detroit, Michigan the son of Daniel and Elizabeth Corby. He was a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Corby served during the Civil War as a military Chaplin. He is best know for giving absolution to the Irish Brigade before they went into battle at the Stony Hill July 2nd 1863 on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Following the war Corby served at the President of University of Notre Dame, where Corby Hall is named for him. He died December 28th 1897, and is buried in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame, Indiana.

A couple of other web sites about the Rev’s life that I like, Rev. William Corby and The Very Rev. William Corby, C. S. C.

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Jersey Medal Of Honor Winner

Union Major General and Medal of Honor winner William Joyce Sewell died December 27th 1901.

William Joyce Sewell was born December 6th 1835 in Castlebar, Mayo, Ireland. He immigrated to the United State in 1851, working first in Chicago, Illinois as a merchant, before moving to Camden, New Jersey in 1860.

When the Civil war started he joined the 5th New Jersey Infantry, and rose to command with the rank of Colonel. Sewell saw action in the Peninsular Campaign and at Second Bull Run. His Medal of Honor which was awarded in 1896 came from his assuming command of a brigade during the Battle of Chancellorsville May 3rd 1863, when Brigadier General Gershom Mott was wounded and had to leave the field. Sewell rallied the men and led a successful counterattack. Sewell was wounded July 2nd 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg while with his unit along the Emmitsburg Road. He would receive a promotion to Major General March 13th 1865 for his "gallant and meritorious services during the war".

After the war Sewell worked in the railroad industry in New Jersey. He was a New Jersey state senator from 1872 to 1881. As a republican Sewell served in the United States Senate from 1881 to 1887, and then again in 1895. He was a commissioner for New Jersey at the World’s Columbian Exposition, commander of the 2nd New Jersey National Guard, and on the board of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. Sewell died in Camden, New Jersey December 27th 1901, and is buried in Harleigh Cemetery there.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Driving Pro-Union Indains Out Of The Territory

The Trail of Blood on the Ice, or the Battle of Chustenahlah fought December 26th 1861 was a Confederate fight to drive 9,000 Union supporting Indians out of Oklahoma.

Confederate soldiers under the command of Colonels James McQueen McIntosh and Douglas Hancock Cooper planed an attack on Union friendly Creek and Seminole Indians led by Chief Opothleyahola. The attack on the Indian camp at Chustenahlah, was to be two pronged.

McIntosh with 1,380 men left Fort Gibson. On December 25th 1861 he heard from Cooper that he would be on his own. Even thought McIntosh was out numbered he decide to attack the next day. The Confederates assaulted the Indians camp about noon December 26th 1861. Three Confederate Regiments the 3rd Texas, 11th Texas, and 6th Texas advanced on about 1,700 Union supporters. The Indians fell back slowly until the reached their camp, where they tried to make a stand, but gave way about 4 pm, the retreat turning into a rout. The survivor fled from Chustenahlah, Oklahoma Territory making their way to Fort Row, Kansas. Confederate Colonel Stand Watie and his three hundred Cherokees attacked the fleeing Union sympathizers, another 2,000 died from disease and exposure before reaching safety.

The Confederate claimed a victory. They lost 9 killed and 40 wounded.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Forrest Held Up The Union Troops

The Battle of Anthony’s Hill [also know as the Battle of King’s Hill and the Battle of Devil’s Gap] part of the north Alabama, middle Tennessee campaign took place on December 25th 1864.

Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood ordered Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest to guard the rear of the Army of Tennessee after the lost at the Battle of Nashville. Leaving Pulaski, Tennessee in the evening of December 24th 1864 Forrest had to find a way to slow Union Major General James H Wilson’s pursuit long enough so the rest of the army could make its escape to the Tennessee River.

Wilson pushing his troops to capture the Confederates, was on the road first thing Christmas morning, December 25th 1864. That afternoon a few miles south of Pulaski, Wilson’s men ran into Forrest’s skirmishers. Wilson sent 3 regiments of dismount cavalry, into a wooded gorge leading up to Anthony’s Hill. Forrest posted 2 brigades of infantry and 2 of cavalry with some field pieces along a rail barricade. The Confederates unleashed a heavy fire, causing the Union troops to retreat, with Forrest’s men pursuing. The Confederates captured some cannon, pursuing for another half-mile before coming up against a full division of Union cavalry. Forrest disengaged at this point, pulling his troops back up the hill to their original positions, behind their barricades. The Confederate withdrew south to Sugar Creek in dark.

A web site about this subject that I recommend checking out is The Battle of Anthony’s Hill

Friday, December 24, 2010

No Spiked Eggnog

The Eggnog Riot of the United States Military Academy at West Point took place December 24th 1826.

Sylvanus Thayer became the commander of the United States Military Academy in 1817. In 1826 there were 36 faculty and staff teaching there. One of the rules at the Academy, prohibited the possession of alcohol and drunkenness, with the threat of expulsion. However by 1826 it seemed drinking was getting out of hand among the 260 cadets.

Cadets purchased a half-gallon of whiskey on December 22nd 1826, to used in making eggnog for a Christmas party in the North Barracks. Two of the cadets got in 2 gallons and took them to room # 33, while another cadet, TM Lewis of Kentucky snunk in a gallon to room # 5. The Cadets in the North Barracks also lifted some food from the mess hall for their party.

On December 24th 1826, nine Cadets in the North Barracks started the Eggnog Party in room # 28. As the party grew it progressed into room # 5, and included Jefferson Davis. Cadet Charles Whipple of the Michigan Territory heard a commotion in room # 2 in the early morning hours. As the party became louder, the drunk cadets were discovered, and sent back to their rooms. After this the Riot got started with wood being thrown through windows, swords were drawn and at least one shot was fired. It would grow to take in a third of the cadets.

Following the Eggnog Riot 19 Cadets were court marshaled, 6 Cadets resigned from the United States Military Academy. Many others include Jefferson Davis were confined to their quarters for more then a month.

A web site I recommend for further information on this subject is The Eggnog Riot, or Jefferson Davis, Party Animal

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In The Face Of Heavy Fire

Union Army Colonel and Medal of Honor recipient Thomas Orville Seaver was born December 23rd 1833.

Thomas Orville Seaver was born December 23rd 1833 in Cavendish, Vermont. He attended the Green Mountain Academy in Woodstock, Vermont. Seaver was accepted to Tufts University in 1855, but left after a year to attend the Vermont Military Academy at Norwich University. Seaver left Norwich before graduating, completing his education at Union College.

At the start of the Civil War Seaver joined the Union Army as a Captain of Company “F” in the 3rd Vermont Infantry. Seaver would raise in rank to Colonel by January 13th 1863. He received his Medal of Honor for valor during the Battle of Spotsylvania, May 10th 1864, when he led three regiments in the face of a heavy fire attacking and occupying Confederate works.

Following the war Seaver settled in Cavendish, Vermont where he would become a Public Defender, and Probate Court judge. Seaver died from a heart attack July 11th 1912 in Woodstock, Vermont.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Man Who Made Gettysburg

John Badger Bachelder an artist and the preeminent early historian of the Battle of Gettysburg died December 22nd 1894.

John Badger Bachelder was born September 29th 1825 in Gilmanton, New Hampshire. He attended Captain Alden Partridge’s Military School in Pembroke, New Hampshire. After graduation he moved to Reading, Pennsylvania, where he took a job at the Pennsylvania Military Institute. Bachelder joined the Pennsylvania State Militia while at the school and was a Colonel by 1852. In 1853 Bachelder married Elizabeth Barber in New Hampshire where he began his career in art. He liked military topics for his art and was working a piece about Bunker Hill when the Civil War started. Bachelder accompanied the Union Army of the Potomac. He studied battlefields, interviewed participants of the battles. He seems to have been well liked, and welcomed by the leaders of the Union Army.

Bachelder’s life work came after the Battle of Gettysburg. Following the Battle he road the field on horseback, interviewed the wounded, plotted where the units where located and drew an isometric map of the battlefield. Bachelder spent the winter interviewing the Union commander who had been on the field in Gettysburg. As the years went by, Bachelder organized reunions, and he would accompany the veterans placing stakes at important points of the battle. He published a guidebook of the Battle in 1873. From 1883 through 1887 Bachelder was the Superintendent of Tablets and Legends, responsible for the placements of monuments on the Gettysburg Battlefield. President Rutherford B Hayes signed a bill for $50,000 in 1880 for Bachelder to write a history of the Battle of Gettysburg, which he sent to Washington DC in October 1886.

Bachelder died December 22nd 1894 in Hyde Park, Massachusetts of pneumonia. He is buried in the Stevens Hill Road Cemetery, in Nottingham, New Hampshire.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Marine and Navy Came First

President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill on December 21st 1861 that created the Navy and Marine Medal of Honor.

The United States' oldest continuously awarded military decoration is the Navy and Marine Corps’ Medal of Honor. It was created by Union Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles as an award for enlisted men. Senate Bill Number 82 was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on December 21st 1861. The highest of military decoration, was designed by artist Christian Schuller. It shows the Goddess Minerva with the shield of the Republic, which refered to the split in the Nation; with thirty-eight stars, the number of states in the Union when Civil War began. The medal was to be given to “such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and Marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war.” The Union Army would get its Medal of Honor on July 12th 1862.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quickly Took Control Of Holly Springs

Confederate Major General Earl Van Dorn sent a force against Union Major General Ulysses S Grant December 20th 1862 at Holly Springs, Mississippi.

In charge of three mounted brigades, Confederate Major General Earl Van Dorn, moved his force against Union Major General Ulysses S Grant’s supply depot at Holly Springs, Mississippi. On December 19th 1862 Grant learned that Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest was attacking the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, tearing up the track in West Tennessee. Van Dorn used this cover, moved his men well east of the Union troops, then cut west to Holly Springs. Grant didn’t learn of Van Dorn’s move until late on December 19th 1862, at which time he warned Colonel Robert C Murphy at Holly Springs.

Van Dorn split his force and at dawn on December 20th 1862, the Confederates sweep into town from the north and east. He posted patrols to prevent Union reinforcements from reaching the town. Van Dorn’s troops routed the Union soldiers in Holly Springs, taking 1500 prisoner; and quickly taking control of the supply depot. The Confederates cut the telegraph line, took up the track and sacked the warehouses, burning anything they couldn't take. Van Dorn then headed north, moving away from Grant’s headquarters. Although Grant pushed his cavalry he was unable to catch up with the Confederates.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The First Southern Secession

John C Calhoun the United States Vice President wrote the “South Carolina Exposition and Protest” and had it presented to the South Carolina House of Representatives on December 19th 1828.

The document known as the “South Carolina Exposition and Protest” was written in protest of the Tariff of 1828. It said that if the tariff wasn’t repealed, South Carolina would secede from the Union. Calhoun completed the “Exposition” in late 1828. In it he argued the tariff was un-constitutional, favoring manufacturing over agriculture. Calhoun felt the people of a state had the right to veto any act of the Federal government that violated the United State Constitution. With five thousand copies printed the report was presented to the South Carolina House of Representatives on December 19th 1828. Calhoun at the time still hoped to become President and so didn’t take credit for writing the “Exposition”, but his authorship quickly leaked out. The South Carolina legislature didn’t take any action on the report.

Calhoun took credit for his ideas during the Nullification Crisis of 1832. He resigned in protest of President Andrew Jackson’s support of the 1828 Tariff.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

He Served Through Out The War

Union Brigadier General Green Berry Raum a politician, author and lawyer died December 18th 1909.

Green Berry Raum was born December 3rd 1829 in Golconda, Illinois. He attended local schools, studied law and admitted to the bar in Illinois in 1853.

Raum enlisted in the Union Army when the Civil War started. He was a Major in the 56th Illinois Infantry, and was their Colonel by 1862. Serving under Major General William S Rosecrans during the Siege of Corinth, Raum ordered the charge on the Confederate left, capturing an artillery battery. They were part of the army at the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi in July 1863, and he led the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Division of the XVII Corps at Chattanooga. Raum was wounded at the Battle of Missionary Ridge November 1863. In 1864 Raum’s brigade held the line of communication during the Atlanta Campaign. He received a brevet to Brigadier General in September 1864. He and his men were called in to reinforce Resaca, Georgia in October and held the town against Confederate General John Bell Hood. He served through to the end of the war.

Following the war Raum returned to his home in Illinois. In 1866 he secured the charter for the Cairo and Vincennes Railroad and became its first president. He ran for and served as a Congressmen for two terms. Raum was the United States Commissioner for the Internal Revenue Service from 1876 through 1883. He oversaw the Commission of Pension, rejecting or accepting Union Civil War pension application from 1889 to 1893. Raum spent the rest of his life practicing law in Chicago, Illinois. He died December 18th 1909, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holding The Bridge

The Battle of Rowlett’s Station was fought in Hart County, Kentucky December 17th 1861 as the Union tried to hold a railroad bridge on the Green River.

Union Brigadier General Don Carlos; in command of the Army of the Ohio, ordered Brigadier General Alexander McDowell McCook to Nolin, Kentucky. The Confederates set up a defensive line along the Green River near Munfordville, Kentucky. The Union moved on the enemy on December 10th 1861. The Confederates under Brigadier General Thomas C Hindman countered by blowing up a pier on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad bridge. Two companies of the 32nd Indiana Infantry crossed the river to protect against a surprise while a pontoon bridge was being constructed. The bridge was completed December 17th 1861. Four more companied of the 32nd crossed the river and advanced to a hill south of Woodsonville. That afternoon they spotted Confederates in the woods in front of them. Advancing on them, the Confederates fell back until Confederate cavalry attacked. After fighting for a time, both sides pulled back to a stronger positions. The battle was inconclusive, but the Union held the area which allowed for movement of men and supplies on the Railroad.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

He Held The Ground At Gettysburg

Union Cavalry officer Brigadier General John Buford Jr died December 16th 1863.

John Buford Jr was born March 4th 1826 in Versailles, Woodford, Kentucky. When he was eight the family moved to Rock Island, Illinois. Buford attended Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois for one year before getting an appointment to the United State Military Academy at West Point. He graduated 16th out of 38 in the class of 1848. Buford was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the United States Dragoons and served in Texas, and as part of the peacekeeping in Kansas and in Utah.

When the Civil War started in 1861, Buford chose to stay with the Union, despite having several relatives who sided with the Confederacy. With the rank of Major in November 1861 Buford was appointed assistant inspector general of the defenses of Washington, DC. In 1862 he was promoted in rank to Brigadier General and posted under Major General John Pope as commander of the Cavalry II Corps Union Army of Virginia. They fought with distinction at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Buford was wounded in the knee, it wasn't serious but was painful. When he returned to service it was in a staff position and he wanted a field command. In 1863 when Major General Joseph Hooker took over the Army of Potomac, Buford was given the Reserve Brigade of Cavalry in the 1st Division. He led his new division at the Battle of Brandy Station June 9th 1863.

On July 1st 1863 Buford set up his troops west of the town of Gettysburg. The Cavalry mostly fighting dismounted, they held off a superior number of Confederates at Gettysburg, until the Union Army’s 1st Corps could come up and deploy. During the Confederate retreat from Gettysburg, Buford’s Cavalry pursued the Confederates, in Warrenton, Virginia, they engaged them several times. Then his men covered Union Major General George Gorden Meade’s retrograde movement in the Bristoe Campaign in October 1863.

Buford contracted Typhoid during the Rappahannock Campaign and by December 1863 it was obvious he was dying. He went to Washington DC to the home of his friend General George Stoneman. On December 16th 1863 at Stoneman’s request President Abraham Lincoln promoted Buford to Major General, for meritorious and distinguished service at the Battle of Gettysburg. At the end of his life he was surround by many old friends, but his wife Pattie traveling from their home in Rock Island, Illinois didn't get there in time. Buford died December 16th 1863. His body was transported to West Point for burial, in the United State Military Academy Post Cemetery.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Killed By Artillery

Union Brigadier General George Dashiell Bayard died December 14th 1862, after being wounded during the Battle of Fredericksburg.

George Dashiell Bayard was born December 18th 1835 in Seneca Falls, New York. His family homesteaded in the Iowa Territory, were he attended a military school taught by a Major Dorn. He received an appointment to West Point, and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1856. As a Second Lieutenant in the Cavalry he was stationed on the frontier doing garrison duty. He saw action in the Indian Wars of Kansas and Colorado.

With the beginning of the Civil War, Bayard was promoted to Colonel and given command in the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry. The 1st Pennsylvania was active in the Shenandoah Valley campaigns. On April 28th 1862 he received a commission to Chief of Cavalry of the III Corps and a promotion to Brigadier General. He led men under Major General John C Fremont at the Battle of Port Republic, and a Union advance during the Battle of Cedar Mountain. Bayard was wounded December 13th 1862 by an artillery round during the Battle of Fredericksburg. He died the next day December 14th 1862. Bayard’s body was taken to Princeton, New Jersey for burial in the Princeton Cemetery.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Lopsided Battle

Union Major General Ambrose E Burnside missed his chance to attack at Fredericksburg before the Confederates massed there, and so the battle wasn’t fought until December 13th 1862.

Hoping to side step the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, Union Major General Ambrose Burnside made plans to move on Richmond, Virginia by crossing the Rappahannock River, and moving on the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. The Army of the Potomac reached Falmouth, Virginia across from Fredericksburg on November 17th 1862, getting ahead of the Confederates. But the pontoon bridges, to cross the river did not get there do to an administration mix up. Burnside wouldn't let any of his troops cross the river out of fear that rains would cause the river to rise and cut his forces off from each other. As the Union army sat on the Falmouth side of the river, Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s Corps arrived in Fredericksburg and began digging into the heights. The pontoons arrived on November 25th 1862, but Burnside still didn't move. By the end on November Confederate Lieutenant Thomas Stonewall Jackson’s Corps got into Fredericksburg and took up a position south of Longstreet. Union engineer final started the pontoon bridges on December 11th 1862, and Union troops began crossing the river under fire.

Finally at 8:30 on the morning of December 13th 1862 an assault led by Union Major General George Gorden Mead’s division with support of Brigadier Generals Abner Doubleday, and John Gibbon began. At first the Union was slowed by heavy fog, but around 10 am they exploited a gap in Jackson’s line, but were stopped by artillery fire, then about 1:30 a massive Confederate counterattack forced the three Union divisions to pull back. To the north Union Major General William H French began an assault on Marye’s Heights at 11 am. Having to cross an open plain and two small bridges to get to the Heights, and without artillery support because of the fog, French’s men were repulsed with a large number of casualties. Burnside tried to take the Height’s using Brigadier Generals Winfield Scott Hancock and Oliver Otis Howard’s troops, with the same results. Longstreet’s position was reinforced by Major General George Pickett’s division, and held against sixteen Union charges.

A terribly lopsided battle, the Battle of Fredericksburg saw huge Union losses of about 13,530 men killed, wounded or missing. The Confederates lost about 4,576 men, only about 200 of those suffered on Marye’s Heights. As the Battle came to an end, many of the Union soldiers spend a night on the field pinned down by Confederates in freezing weather. On December 14th 1862 Confederate General Robert E Lee granted a truce so the wounded could be removed from the field. Burnside took the Army of the Potomac back across the river on December 15th 1862, to Stafford Heights. Burnside would be replaced by Major General Joseph Hooker January 26th 1863.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Father Of Battlefield Medicine

Jonathan Letterman the “Father of Battlefield Medicine”, a Union surgeon during the Civil war was born December 11th 1824.

Jonathan Letterman was born December 11th 1824 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, the son of a surgeon. He graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1849. That same year Letterman excepted a position as assistant surgeon of the United States Army Medical Department. He served during the Seminole Indian Campaign in Florida, at Fort Ripley, Minnesota, Fort Defiance in the New Mexico Territory, Fort Monroe, Virginia, and in California through 1861.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Letterman was assigned to the Union Army of the Potomac, with the rank of Major. Receiving permission from Major General George B McClellan, Letterman reorganized the Medical Service. The Union Army was grossly inefficient in handling casualties from the Seven Days Battle, and Letterman saw the need for changes. By the Battle of Antietam, he had set up regimental aid stations, the use of triage, field hospitals, and an ambulance corps. The system was so proficient that an Act of Congress in March 1864 established it as the Union Armies medical procedure. The Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 left over 20,000 Union and Confederate wounded, and the vast medical encampment set up on the George Wolf farm was named for Letterman.

Letterman ended his military service as the Inspector of Hospitals, he resigned in December 1864. He moved to San Francisco, California where he was a coroner until 1872. He wrote a memoir in 1866, “Medical Recollections of the Army of the Potomac”. Following the death his wife, Letterman became quite sick, and died March 15th 1872 in San Francisco, California. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Friday, December 10, 2010

They Were In A Battle Before They Mustered

The 14th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry was mustered into the Union Army, December 10th 1861 for three years.

Organized at Camp Wallace near Louise, Kentucky, the 14th Kentucky Infantry was mustered in December 10th 1861 for a three year enlistment. They were under the command of Colonel Laban Theodore Moore. The 14th saw action before mustering in at Ivey’s Mountain on November 8th 1861 on the border of Virginia. They were active through out the war mostly in the western theater. The 14th was ordered to join General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign, were they participated in the actions; until moving against Confederate General John Bell Hood in Alabama and Tennessee. The 14th saw losses of 201 men during the war, 49 enlisted and 5 officer where killed, and 142 enlisted and 5 officer died from disease. The 14th mustered out of service September 15th 1865 at Louisa, Kentucky.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Established To Find Out Why There Was A Defeat

The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War; established December 9th 1861, was set up to investigate issues related to the Civil War.

The United State Congress set up the Joint Committee of the Conduct of the War to investigate and handle issues surrounding the Civil War on December 9th 1861. Established after the Union defeat at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff on the insistence of United States Senator Zachariah T Chandler. The purpose of the Committee was to investigate such things as illegal trade with Confederate States, military contracts, medical treatment of soldiers, and the causes of Union losses. The Committee also endorsed emancipation, the use of black soldiers, and the appointment of Generals. The Committee was chaired by United States Senator Benjamin Wade. Union officers disliked being call in front of the Committee. As it was a Civil War were brother’s and neighbors fought each other, the Committee looked into loyalty issues of Union soldiers.

The Committee held 272 meetings during its existence. The meeting were held in secrecy, with the testimony published irregularly in committee reports. One of the Committee’s notorious hearings followed the Battle of Gettysburg when Major General Daniel Sickles accused Major General George Gorden Meade of mismanaging the battle. Once the war ended the Committee ceased to operate, it was more or less replaced by the Joint Committee on Reconstruction.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Even On Crutches He Led

Confederate Brigadier General George Doherty Johnston died December 8th 1910.

George Doherty Johnston was born May 30th 1832 in Hillsborough, North Carolina. His family moved to Greensboro, Alabama in 1834, were his father died a year latter. Johnston had his early education from tutors, and then attended Howard College. He then attended Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee where he studied law. Johnston returned home after graduation and opened a law practice, but he quickly became involved in politics being elected mayor in 1856, and to the State Legislature in 1857.

When the Civil War started Johnston joined the Confederate Army, becoming a Second Lieutenant in the 4th Alabama Infantry. His unit saw its first action at First Manassas. Johnston was promoted to Major in the 25th Alabama in January 1862, and Colonel in September 1863. At the Battle of Ezra Church, Johnston was wounded in the leg. He received a promotion shortly after to Brigadier General. He was still on crutches, and leading his men during the Franklin Nashville Campaign. When surrender came Johnston was on his way to join up with Confederate General Richard A Taylor.

Following the war Johnston was the commandant of cadets at the University of Alabama. Latter he took the job as superintendent of the South Carolina Military Academy. President Grover Cleveland appointed Johnston to be the United State Civil Service Commissioner. He settle in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he would be elected State Senator. Johnston died in Tuscaloosa December 8th 1910, and in buried in the Greenwood Cemetery.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Joint Committee

President Andrew Johnson appointed the Joint Committee on Reconstruction on December 4th 1865, to determine which of the Southern states were entitled to Congressional representation.

The Joint Committee on Reconstruction was created to "inquire into the condition of the States which formed the so-called Confederate States of America, and report whether they, or any of them, are entitled to be represented in either house of Congress." This was the committee which drafted the 14th Amendment, and required the southern states to approve it before having a representative admitted to Congress. The committee of fifteen members divided into four subcommittees to gather evidence and hear testimony of the four military districts in the south. Before they finished the Committe heard from 144 witnesses. They produced a report and its proceedings were recorded in its journal.

The fifteen members of the committee were made up of nine members from the House of Representatives, Thaddeus Stevens, Elihu Washburne, Justin Morrill, John A Bingham, Roscoe Conkling, George Boutwell, Henry Blow, Henry Grider, Andrew Jackson Rogers, and six from the Senate, Reverdy Johnson, William Fessenden, Ira Harris, James W Grimes, George Henry Williams, and Jacob Howard.

Another web site to look at on this subject is Report of the Committee Joint Committee on Reconstruction

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A New York Confederate

Archibald Gracie III part of the wealthy New York state family of that name, and a Confederate Brigadier General died December 2nd 1864.

Archibald Gracie III was born December 1st 1832 in New York. After a local education, Gracie spent five years in Germany studying at University of Heidelberg. He returned to the United State with an appointment to West Point. Gracie graduated from the military academy in 1854. His first assignment as a Second Lieutenant was to escort Governor Isaac Stevens to the Walla Walla Council in 1855. He married the niece of General Winfield Scott, Josephine Mayo on November 19th 1856. Gracie resigned from the military in 1857, he went to work Barings Bank of Mobile, a family joined business. While living in Mobile Alabama Gracie became a member and Captain of the Washington Light Infantry.

When the Civil War started and Alabama seceded, Gracie joined the Confederate Army. In June 1861 he became the Major of the 11th Alabama Regiment, leading a small company of sharpshooters. He received several promotions for his conduct during battle and leadership skills, and was a Brigadier General by the end of 1862. Gracie’s command served under General James Longstreet at the Battle of Bean’s Station, where he was wounded in the arm. After recovering he went back to lead his men. Beginning in July 1864 Gracie was serving in Petersburg Virginia as part of the Siege of Petersburg.

Gracie received a message on his birthday December 1st 1864 that his second child had been born. He planned a short leave to go home and see her. On December 2nd 1864, he was looking at the Union lines when an artillery shell exploded near him, breaking his neck and killing him. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in New York City.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Chief Engineer Of The Confederacy

Chief Engineer of the Confederate Army, Jeremy Francis Gilmer died December 1st 1883.

Jeremy Francis Gilmer was born February 23rd 1818 in Guilford County, North Carolina. He graduated fourth in his class at West Point in 1839, and entered the army corps of engineers as a second Lieutenant. Gilmer started as an assistant professor of engineering at West Point, before being assigned to Fort Schuyler in New York City. During the Mexican - American War he was the Chief Engineer of the United States Army of the West, located in the New Mexico Territory, he also surveyed battlefields near Mexico City. Through 1861 Gilmer was in San Francisco California working on harbor improvements, and fortifications.

Gilmer resigned his commission when the Civil War started, and joined the Confederate army. He was appointed as a Major in engineers. He was quickly promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and worked on the staff of General Albert Sidney Johnston. He was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh, and after recovering was promoted in August 1862 to Brigadier General and stationed in Richmond Virginia. In 1863 Gilmer was appointed to the Chief of Engineer Bureau for the Confederacy, overseeing the building and maintance of defenses in Charleston South Carolina. It came along with the promotion to Major General. Gilmer saw that Atlanta was weak and a likely target for the Union, he developed a plan of forts and earthworks that ringed the city. He returned to Richmond Virginia in 1864 and spent the rest of the war there.

When war was over Gilmer was the director of the Georgia Central Railroad, and until his death was the president of the Savannah Gas Company in Savannah Georgia. He died in Savannah December 1st 1883, and is buried the Laurel Grove Cemetery.

Another web site worth a look - Gilmer Civil War Maps