Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Road To The End

The day before the Confederate loss at the Battle of Five Forks, on March 31st 1865 the Battle of White Oak road was fought.

Confederate General Robert E Lee moved his reinforcements March 30th 1865 to cover a Union movement on his right flank. Confederate Major WHF Rooney Lee’s cavalry moved to Five Forks, and Major General George Pickett’s division to Bermuda Hundred. The V Corps under Union Major General Gouverneur K Warren entrenched along the Boydton Plank Road, and Major General Romeyn B Ayres moved toward White Oak Road. On March 31st 1865 Warren moved his Corps on the Confederates entrenched along the White Oak Road. The plan being to cut Confederate communications with Pickett. A counterattack by Confederate Major General Bushrod Johnson slowed up the Union advance, however Warren’s men pulled it together and by the end of the day, the Union held the road.

Confederate loss were about 750, Union about 1,900.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Man Of Others

Union Army Officer James Burton Pond was awarded the Medal of Honor on March 30th 1898 for his actions at the Battle of Baxter Springs.

James Burton Pond was born June 11th 1838 in Cuba, Allegany, New York. He moved with his family to Illinois in 1844 and then Wisconsin in 1847. Pond was an abolitionist, and reportedly a station master on the Underground Railroad. He learned the print trade working at several Fond du Lac County newspapers. He worked as a publisher, running “The Journal” in Markesan, Wisconsin 1860-61.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Pond enlisted in the 3rd Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry as a lieutenant. He fought Confederate William Quantrill and his Raiders at the Battle of Baxter Springs October 6th 1863. It was for his action during this battle that Pond was awarded the Medal of Honor. At the end of the war Pond had reached the rank of Major.

Following the war Pond began a career as a manager. His first client was Ann Eliza Young the 52nd wife of Brigham Young, who Pond set up on a national speaking tour. He bought the Lyceum Theatre Lecture Bureau, and moved his office to New York City. Among the people Pond managed were Mark Twain, PT Barnum, Frederick Douglass and Winston Churchill. He wrote a book about his work called “Eccentricities of Genius” in 1900. Pond died from complications of an amputation June 21st 1903. He is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York.

Pond’s Medal of Honor award read, “For extraordinary heroism on 6 October 1863, while serving with Company C, 3d Wisconsin Cavalry, in action at Baxter Springs, Kansas. While in command of two companies of Cavalry, First Lieutenant Pond was surprised and attacked by several times his own number of guerrillas, but gallantly rallied his men, and after a severe struggle drove the enemy outside the fortifications. First Lieutenant Pond then went outside the works and, alone and unaided, fired a howitzer three times, throwing the enemy into confusion and causing him to retire.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The First Band

The United State 1st Cavalry Band left their post in Fort Mason, Texas March 29th 1861, when it was turned over to the Texas Confederate Authorities.

The 1st United States Cavalry Band was created March 3rd 1855. In December of that year it was organized at Camp Verde, Texas. The band was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry in Texas. It took part in the war with the Comanche in 1856.

With Civil War on the brink the Band along with the United State 2nd Cavalry left their post March 29th 1861. Fort Mason, Texas was turned over to the Texas Confederates. The Band arrived at the Carlisle Barracks in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where they were reorganized and were assigned to Union General George B McClellen’s Army of the Potomac. The Band members turned infantrymen fought in the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21st 1861. Then under an act of congress August 3rd 1861 the Band along with the 2nd United States Cavalry were reassigned as the 5th United States Cavalry Regiment. The Band supported the regiment through out the war, including actions at Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Appomattox.

When the war ended the Band was disbanded at Camp Sedgwick, Washington, DC December 1866. Threes years later the Band was brought back, reorganized and reassigned to the 5th United States Cavalry. It took part in the Indian Wars, and in 1916 the Band was part of General Pershing’s Mexican Expeditionary Force.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Vermonter In Montana

Union General and United States Representative Henry Dana Washburn was born March 28th 1832.

Henry Dana Washburn was born March 28th 1832 in Windsor, Vermont. His family moved west shortly after his birth. He received his early education in local common schools, before becoming a tanner. He then attended and graduated from the New York State and National Law School, joining the bar in 1853. Washburn took up a practice in Newport, Indiana.

Washburn enlisted in the Union Army on August 16th 1861. He served with the 18th Indiana Infantry, as their Lieutenant Colonel. He received a promotion to Colonel with the Regiment July 15th 1862. Washburn and the 18th Indiana took part in the Siege of Vicksburg, and were with General Philip H Sheridan during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Washburn received a brevet on July 26th 1865 to Major General, and mustered out of service August 26th 1865.

Washburn returned to his law practice after the war ended, and he took up politics. He ran as a Republican, and served in Congress from 1866 to 1869. He took an appointment in 1869 as the Surveyor General of Montana. He was the head of the Washburn - Langford - Doane Expedition which explored what would become Yellowstone National Park. Washburn returned to his home in Clinton, Indiana. He died there January 26th 1871 and is buried in the Riverside Cemetery there.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Encircled Fort Falls

Beginning March 27th 1865 and running through April 8th 1865 the Battle of Spanish Fort was fought in Baldwin County Alabama.

Although the Union won the Battle of Mobile Bay, Mobile itself remained under Confederate control. On the eastern defense of Mobile was the heavily fortified Spanish Fort. Union Major General Edward R S Canby’s XIII and XVI Corp’s embarked on a land campaign, moving along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, pushing the Confederates back into their defenses. The Union troops focused on Spanish Fort, five miles to the north of Mobile. Canby’s Corps met on March 27th 1865 at Danley’s Ferry and began a siege of the fort. They had completely encircled Spanish Fort by April 1st 1865 and captured it on April 8th 1865. The Confederate troops under the command of Brigadier General Randall L Gibson mostly escaped and retreated to Mobile. There were 744 Confederate casualties and 657 Union losses.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Kind Of Late In The Game

An attack by the Confederate Major General John B Gordon that brought on the Battle of Fort Stedman on March 25th 1865, was an attempt to break the siege on Petersburg.

Confederate General Robert E Lee’s army of Northern Virginia had spent the last nine months in and around Petersburg, Virginia along a 37 mile long front. His supplies were short, and the Confederate soldiers there had suffered through a ruff winter. Lee had to break the Union hold. He pulled 12,000 soldiers, about half his army and massed them on the Union right, where the lines were only about 150 yards apart. The attack was to be focused on Fort Stedman and its 4 cannon.

On March 25th 1865 at 4am Confederate General John B Gordon’s skirmishers quickly overtook Union pickets. These were followed by ax men who cleared barriers in front of the fort. Fort Stedman under command of Union Major General John G Parke, fell in the first wave of Confederate attackers. This opened up a mile wide gap in the Union line. They turned the Fort’s captured cannons, using them to fire into nearby forts. Other of Gordon’s troops moved out into the trenches and batteries. Those Union soldiers who weren't taken prisoner, regrouped and slowed up the Confederate movement. Union reinforcements began massing for a counterattack. The counterattack placed the Confederates under a galling crossfire.

By 8am Lee who had been watching the attack, ordered Gordon to call it off. Many hundreds of Confederate soldiers surrendered. The battle was very costly for the Army of Northern Virginia, they lost over 2,900 men. Union losses were about 950.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Life Time In The Sadle

Union Cavalry officer and Medal of Honor recipent Abraham Kerns Arnold was born March 24th 1837.

Abraham Kerns Arnold was born March 24th 1837 in Bedford, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1859. He was sent to the Western frontier where he was stationed at Fort Inge in the cavalry. Following the start of the Civil War Arnold was assigned to command the 5th United States Cavalry and promoted to Captain on July 12th 1862. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery “by a gallant charge against a superior force of the enemy, extricated his command from a perilous position in which it had been ordered" May 10th 1864 at the Battle of Davenport Bridge in Virginia. Arnold received a brevet to Major after the Battle of Todd’s Tavern, Virginia May 7th 1864.

Arnold stayed in the service after the war ended, where he was promoted to full Major in the 6th United State Regular Cavalry. Sent back out West, Arnold saw action in the Indian Wars, including the Battle of Cibecue in 1881 and the Expedition Against the Crow in 1887. Twenty-nine years after the battle at Davenport Bridge his Medal was awarded him September 1st 1893. He accepted a field commission during the Spanish - American War of Brigadier General where he led the 2nd United States Division of the 7th Army Corps in Cuba. Arnold would end his military career March 25th 1901 as the Colonel of the 1st United States Cavalry. He died November 3rd 1901 in Cold Springs - on - the - Hudson, New York. Arnold is buried in the Cemetery of Saint Philip’s Church in Garrison, New York.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stonewall's One Loss

Fought in Winchester, Virginia on March 23rd 1862, the First Battle of Kernstown was the opening of Confederate Major General Thomas J Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

Confederate Major General Thomas J Jackson’s move into the Shenandoah Valley was an attempt to keep Union forces there occupied. The Union troops were under the command of Major General Nathaniel P Banks. Jackson’s intelligence told him there was a small force led by Union Colonel Nathan Kimball, but in truth it was a full infantry division. Jackson moved his men from Woodstock, Virginia, getting in front of the Union position in Kernstown about 11am on March 23rd 1862. The Confederate Cavalry attacked and was forced back. Jackson reinforced them with an infantry brigade. He then turned to rolling up the Union right with his two remaining brigades. They attacked the Union artillery on Pritchard Hill. However Union Colonel Erastus B Tyler’s brigade prevented this move and was backed up by Kimball’s brigade. Jackson’s aide Alexander Swift Pendleton got a view of the Union forces in the Confederate front, and estimated them to number about 10,000. By 6pm the Confederates were running out of ammunition, panic set in among the troops, and caused them to flee, forcing a Confederate retreat. For the first and only time Jackson was driven from the field and defeated.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Sterling Fall

A detachment of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry on March 22nd 1863 captured the Union held city of Mount Sterling.

About 300 of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry, under the command of Colonel RS Cluke, captured a Union garrison located in the town of Mount Sterling, Kentucky March 22nd 1863. Cluke’s men took 438 Union prisoners, 222 wagon loads of military supplies, and 500 mules. The Confederates saw 21 killed or wounded. The Union troops lost those taken prisoners and about 8 men who burned to death in a house the Confederates set fire to.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Party Of Freedom

The first meeting of the Republican Party was on March 20th 1854 in a small school house in Ripon, Wisconsin.

Founded by anti - slavery activists, the Republican Party’s first county convention took place in Ripon, Wisconsin March 20th 1854 in a local school house. They grew out of a mixture of former Whigs and Free Soil Democrats. Their motivation was to stop slavery from expanding into new opened western territories. The party nominated their first presidential ticket in 1856 with Colonel John C Fremont for president and William Dayton as vice president. The slogan of the party was “Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont!” The young Republican Party next nominated Abraham Lincoln in 1860, an outspoken opponent of the expansion of slavery.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Loss Of A Ship

The Confederate ship the CSS Georgiana, a iron hulled steamer, was lost to the Confederacy March 19th 1863.

The CSS Georgiana was an iron hulled propeller steamer. She could hold fourteen guns and four hundred tons of cargo. Built in 1862 in Glasgow Scotland, she was a very swift vessel. She was outfitted in Charleston, South Carolinia with guns, officers and 140 men.

The Georgiana was attempting a run past the Union Blockading Squadron and into Charleston, South Carolina. She was spotted by the USS America the yacht of America’s Cup racing fame. As the Georgiana was chased she came so close to the USS Wissahickon that her crew could hear orders being given. She was hit with solid shot which did damage to her rudder and propeller, the shot passing through her hull. The Georgiana’s Captain A B Davidson signaled for a surrender, then used the time to beach the ship, scuttle her, and give the crew time to escape.

The commandeer of the USS Wissahickon, Lieutenant Commander John L Davis had the wreck of the Georgiana set a fire, to keep the Confederates from salvaging any of her cargo. She burned for days, complemented by explosions of powder.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lieutenant Commander

United States Naval officer Andrew Boyd Cummings was killed in action March 18th 1863.

Andrew Boyd Cummings was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania June 22nd 1830. While at the Naval Academy Cummings was appointed to midshipman April 1847. He left the Naval Academy the next year for active duty on the USS Brandywine, before returning to the school in 1852. Cummings was assigned to the steamer USS Fulton and promoted to the ranks of Master and Lieutenant September 1855. He joined the steam sloop the USS Richmond in 1859 as part of the her Mediterranean deployment until 1861.

Cummings served during the Civil War as part of Admiral David Farragut’s West Gulf Blockading Squadron. He served with distinction as Executive Office of the USS Richmond. They were part of the capture of New Orleans in April 1862. Commended for his performance, Cummings was promoted July 1862 to Lieutenant Commander. He was wounded in an attempt to pass the batteries at Vicksburg, Mississippi on March 14th 1863. Cummings died a few day later in New Orleans, Louisiana from those wounds March 18th 1863. He is buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Gallant Pelham

Confederate artillery officer Major John Pelham died March 17th 1863 during the Battle of Kelly‘s Ford.

John Pelham was born September 7th 1838 on Cane Creek in Alexandria, Alabama, the son of Doctor and Martha [McGehee] Pelham. He grew up on his families plantation, where he learned to be a proficient rider. With the help of his local United State Congressman Sampson Willis Harris, Pelham received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. While at West Point Pelham was popular with his class mates, and ranked highest in his class in cavalry tactics. With the Civil War brewing Pelham resigned on April 22nd from West Point just two weeks before graduation in 1861.

Upon returning home, with the Civil War under way, Pelham accepted a commission in the Alabama militia. He soon became a Lieutenant in the artillery, a part of Confederate General Joseph E Johnston’s army. Pelham was quickly noticed by Confederate Cavalry General JEB Stuart, who transformed Pelham’s battery into Horse Artillery. Pelham and his artillery were involved in over 60 fights, including First Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. At Sharpsburg his guns harassed the flanks of the Union line causing heavy casualties. Lieutenant General Thomas Stonewall Jackson said of Pelham after the battle, “It is really extraordinary to find such nerve and genius in a mere boy. With a Pelham on each flank I believe I could whip the world."

On March 17th 1863 at the Battle of Kelly’s Ford, Pelham took part in a cavalry charge. He was standing in his stirrups to urge his men forward, when he was struck in the head by a piece of exploding Union artillery shell. Pelham was carried six miles to the Culpeper Courthouse, where he died without ever regaining consciousness.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Corps That Built West Point

The Army Corps of Engineers was established March 16th 1802 at the United State Military Academy at West Point.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers was organized by the Continental Congress on June 16th 1775. Colonel Richard Gridley was the first chief engineer. The Corps of Engineers that we know today was authorized by President Thomas Jefferson March 16th 1802. His authorization said "that the said corps, when so organized, shall be stationed at West Point, and shall constitute a military academy." From then until 1866 the Superintendent of West Point was also the Chief of Engineers. Among these superintendents was Robert E Lee and PGT Beauregard. From the forming until 1866, all members of the Corps of Engineers where graduates of West Point, and handled all construction at the United States Military Academy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Quartermaster

Career United States Brigadier General Robert Allen was born March 15th 1811.

Robert Allen was born in West Point, Columbiana, Ohio March 15th 1811. After a public education, he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1836. Allen was assigned to garrison duty in the 2nd United States Artillery. He saw his first combat at the Battle of Cerro Gordo during the Mexican  American War. Allen received a brevet to Major for his actions during this battle. Following the war he transferred to the Quartermaster’s Corps, and was asigned to be the chief quartermaster for the Department of the Pacific.

Allen was promoted to Colonel at the beginning of the Civil War and made the chief quartermaster of the Department of the Missouri. His abilities soon saw him promoted to chief quartermaster of the entire Mississippi Valley. Allen made his headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. He secured railcars from Northern railroads, ferried them across the Ohio River for use in transporting food and supplies to the Union army, using railways formerly held by the Confederates. His grasp of logistics ensured the Union Army was better fed and equipped then the Confederate Army. He was in charge of the supplies that went to General Ulysses Grant at Vicksburg, and Major General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Atlanta campaign. Allen was promoted the Brigadier General and ranked only under Quartermaster General Montgomery C Meigs. He received a brevet to Major General in March 1865.

Allen stayed in the Untied State Army following the end of the war. He retired in 1878. Allen was traveling in Europe when he died August 5th 1886. He is buried in the Chene - Bougeries Cemetery in Geneva, Switzerland.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Opening Up The Red River

The Battle of Fort DeRussy took place March 14th 1864 in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.

As part of the Red River Campaign, Union Brigadier Generals AJ Smith and Joseph Mower sailed with their troops toward Shreveport, Louisiana. Coming in through Berwick Bay and Bayou Teche they found their passage blocked by obstructions in the river and the Confederate Fort DeRussy. Fort DeRussy was under the command of Confederate Lieutenant Colonel William Byrd. It was an earthen fort with a gun battery and iron armor to defend from Union ironclads and was garrisoned by 350 Confederate soldiers.

Smith left from Vicksburg, arriving at Simmesport on March 12th 1864, about 30 miles from Fort DeRussy. He sent out some troops on March 13th 1864 to feel out the enemy in his front. This small force drove in some Confederate troops. Early on the morning of March 14th 1864 Smith found there was a Confederate division in his front. He split his force leaving some to intercept the Confederates if they attacked. Smith’s arrival at the fort saw the garrison open fire on the Union soldiers. Smith ordered a charge of Mower’s men on the fort at about 6:30 pm. It took about twenty minute before the Confederates surrendered the fort opening up the Red River to the Union advance.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Other Constitution Of America

The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was adopted on March 11th 1861.

The Confederate States of America operated under the Provisional Constitution from February 8th 1861 until the Constitution of the Confederate States of America was passed on March 11th 1861. The hand-written Constitution is located at the University of Georgia at Athens, Georgia. The Confederate Constitution is an almost word perfect duplicate of the United States Constitution. There are a few changes, such as the President of Confederacy could be elected for only one six year term and that there were no limited powers of the states. The Confederate Constitution also banned international slave trade, just as the United States had in 1808. It also prohibited the Confederate Congress from enacting any law to limit or abolish slavery in any of its territories. The Constitution took effect as soon as five of the Confederate state ratified it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Surprise For Kilpatrick

The inconclusive Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads took place in the early morning hours of March 10th 1865.

Confederates under the command of Lieutenant General Wade Hampton and Major General Joseph Wheeler attacked the poorly guarded Union camp in the early morning hours of March 10th 1865. A select squad of troopers were supposed to capture cavalry commander Union Major General Judson Kilpatrick. At first the Union cavalry was routed, but they recovered and made a counterattack, forcing the Confederates back out of camp. Expecting re-enforcements of Union infantry, Hampton ordered his cavalry to disengage, and they withdrew to Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads gave the Confederate infantry time to cross the Cape Fear River at Fayetteville, without Union interference. Once across the river the Confederates burned all the bridges.

A really must read web site for more about this subject is, 1st Alabama Cavalry; Monroe's Crossroads

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Battle Of The Ironclads

The Battle of Hampton Roads, a dual between two ironclads was fought on March 9th 1862.

Planning to break up the Union blockade, on March 8th 1862 the Confederate ironclad ram the CSS Virginia [also known as the CSS Merrimack] with several other vessels in support, attacked a number of wooden-hulled ships belonging to the Union Navy. The Virginia destroyed two ships and was about to attack the USS Minnesota which had run aground. The attack was called off by darkness and the falling tide. The crew of the Virginia took the time to repair some minimal damage and care for wounded, including her captain Franklin Buchanan.

Planning to resume it's attack on the USS Minnesota, acting captain Roger Jones didn’t know that the ironclad the USS Monitor had arrived in the early morning hours of March 9th 1862. The captain of the Monitor, Lieutenant John Worden, took up a defensive position and intercepted the CSS Monitor as she approached the USS Minnesota. The two ironclads battled for three hours, without either ship causing much damage to the other. When the fighting ended the CSS Virginia returned to her home berth at the Gosport Navy Yard, and the USS Monitor returned to defending the Minnesota.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Slavery Protected By The Constitution

The United States Supreme Court in the case Jones vs. Van Zandt decided on March 5th 1847, that Congress had the right to make laws controlling slavery.

John Van Zandt an abolitionist illegally hid escaping slave in his Evendale Ohio basement, then helped them to the north. In 1842 Van Zandt was sued by Wharton Jones for monetary damages do the loss of property. Jones said he was owed $450 for the cost of a slave catcher, and $500 for slave named Andrew whom Van Zandt helped escape. Abolitionist pressed the case known as Jones vs. Van Zandt hoping to challenge the constitutionality of slavery. Van Zandt’s attorney was Samuel Chase, Abraham Lincoln’s future Secretary of Treasury. On March 5th 1847 in the US Supreme Court’s decision, written by Chief Justice Roger B Taney, the court decided that slavery was protected by the United States Constitution. This ruling upheld the 1793 Fugitive Slave Law, saying that each state could determine if slavery was legal within its borders. Do to the cost of challenging his legal case, Van Zandt was ruined financially, and even had to send his children to live with relatives. He died shortly after the case was settled.