Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Northern Most

General Ewell
A little known part of the Gettysburg Campaign, the Skirmish of Sporting Hill took place June 30th 1863 near Hampden, Pennsylvania.

Confederate Lieutenant General Richard S Ewell led two divisions and a cavalry brigade into Pennsylvania in June 1863. He was moving on Harrisburg, Pennsylvania the state capital. As Ewell’s troops moved slowly north, Union Major General Darius N Couch sent troops to Camp Hill about two miles west of Harrisburg. Men hired by Couch erected fortification on the western side of Camp Hill.

Confederate Brigadier General Albert Gallatin Jenkins’ cavalry skirmished with the 22nd and 37th New York at Sporting Hill on June 30th 1863. The Confederate cavalry used the McCormick House for cover. The cavalry tried to cross the Carlisle Pike but were outflanked by Union soldiers. Union soldiers began firing on the McCormick barn with two cannons, smashing in the wooden building, and sending about 50 Confederate cavalry out to their horses. The soldiers withdrew toward Carlisle where they joined back up with Ewell’s troops for the march into Gettysburg.

A very good web site for more information about this battle is Gettysburg Campaign [Sporting Hill]

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Confederate Yankee

Confederate General Richard Griffith was mortally wounded at the Battle of Savage’s Station June 29th 1862 and died the same day.

Richard Griffith was born January 11th 1814 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and after graduating he moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Griffith served with the 1st Mississippi Rifles during the Mexican-American War, and it was then that he became friends with Jefferson Davis. Following the Mexican-American War he became a United States Marshal, and continued to be a member of the Mississippi state militia where he attained the rank of Brigadier General.

At the beginning of the Civil War Griffith became the Colonel of the 12th Mississippi Infantry. He received a promotion to Brigadier General in November 1861, and took command of a Mississippi brigade, a part Confederate Major General John B Magruder’s division in early 1862. It was during a part of the Seven Days Battles on June 29th 1862 that Griffith was mortally wounded. His men were chasing retreating Union soldiers on the Nine Mile road when they ran into some of Major General Edwin Vose Summer’s Union II Corps. Sumner’s men were guarding the Union retreat near Savage’s Station. Griffith was wounded in the thigh during artillery fire by a shell fragment. It is reported that upon being told that his wound was fatal, Griffith said, "If only I could have led my brigade through this battle, I would have died satisfied."

Griffith was moved to Richmond, Virginia where he died of his wounds June 29th 1862. He is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Jackson, Mississippi.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The End Of A Rail Raid

A part of the Wilson-Kautz Rail Raid, the Battle of Sappony Church took place on June 28th 1864.

Three rail lines supplied the Confederates at Petersburg, Virginia, the Richmond - Petersburg Railroad, the South Side Railroad, and the Weldon Railroad. Union General Ulysses S Grant on June 22nd 1864 sent a cavalry unit under the command of Brigadier Generals James H Wilson and August V Kautz to disrupt these rail lines. The raid would put 60 miles track out of use. The Union cavalry was hotly followed by Confederate Major General William HF Rooney Lee, he caught up with them at Staunton Bridge where the Confederate force attacked. Lee pursued the Union cavalry as they retreated toward Union lines.

The Union cavalry crossed the Nottoway River on June 28th 1864 at the Double Bridges, reaching Stony Creek Depot on the Weldon Railroad. There Confederate Major General Wade Hampton attacked the Union cavalry. While this was going on Lee’s cavalry joined in the attack. Kautz and Wilson disengaged and ordered a retreat to the north to the Halifax Road, try to reach Reams Railway Station.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Right To Vote

The decision for Guinn v. United States was handed down June 21st 1915, settling the question of literacy tests for voting in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma became a state in 1907. In compliance with the United States Fifteenth Amendment, Oklahoma’s constitution allowed all men to vote with no regard to race. The Oklahoma legislator did place an amendment in its state constitution which required voters to pass a literacy test. There were exemptions from the literacy requirement. If the potential voter could show that his Grandfather had voted, been a soldier or been a citizen of a foreign nation before 1866, the voter wouldn’t have to pass the literacy test. This clause allowed illiterate whites to vote, but not illiterate blacks.

Oklahoma’s amendment started just before the election of November 1910. As election officers refused blacks the right to vote, the officers were convicted of violating the Fifteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The case was argued before the Supreme Court October 17th 1913, and was the first case in which the NAACP filed a brief. The Court handed down its decision June 21st 1915, in which it ruled "the grandfather clauses in the Maryland and Oklahoma constitutions to be repugnant to the Fifteenth Amendment and therefore null and void.” The decision had little impact on voters in Oklahoma, which passed a new law stating that, "all persons, except those who voted in 1914, who were qualified to vote in 1916 but who failed to register between April 30 and May 11, 1916, with some exceptions for sick and absent persons who were given an additional brief period to register, would be perpetually disenfranchised."

If your interested in reading the Courts findings they can be found at GUINN v. U.S., 238 U.S. 347 (1915) 238 U.S. 347 FRANK GUINN and J. J. Beal v. UNITED STATES. No. 96.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Brother, Brother-in-Law, Generals

Union Army General Charles Ewing and foster brother of William Tecumseh Sherman died June 20th 1893.

Charles Ewing was born March 6th 1835 the son of Thomas Ewing, the United States Interior Secretary. He received an education at the Dominican College and the University of Virginia, where he studied law. Ewing was practicing law in St Louis, Missouri when the Civil War broke out.

In 1861 Ewing received a commission in the 13th infantry as Captain under his brother-in-law William T Sherman. He was wounded at the Battle of Vicksburg while placing the company flag on the Confederate fort. He received brevets for his actions at Jackson, Missionary Ridge and the Atlanta campaign. Ewing was made Brigadier General of volunteers March 8th 1865.

After the end of the war Ewing resigned his commission in 1867 and returned to law, practicing in Washington, DC. In 1874 he served as the Catholic Commissioner for Indian Missions. He died in Washington, DC June 20th 1883.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Scalded To Death

The Battle of St Charles was fought as an infantry and naval battle on June 17th 1862.

The USS Conestoga, Lexington, Mound City, St Louis and several transport ships all under the command of Commodore Augustus Kilty headed up the White River in the early morning of June 17th 1862 towards St Charles, Arkansas. The mission was to resupply Union Major General Samuel R Curtis’s army. Below St Charles the 46th Indiana Infantry disembarked and proceeded up the river on foot toward the Confederate batteries under the command of Confederate Captain Joseph Fry. As these troops moved, the Union gunboats continued up the river where they engaged the Confederate batteries. The USS Mound City was hit and her steam drum blew up. More than 125 of the Mound City’s crew were scalded to death. Pulling off the gunboats, the 46th Indiana attacked the Confederate batteries, flanking them. This opened St Charles to Union occupation.

A good web site for more information is ST. CHARLES BATTLE SITE, ST. CHARLES, ARKANSAS COUNTY

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Speech That Stands

Abraham Lincoln gave his “House Divided Speech” June 16th 1858 in Springfield, Illinois.

Abraham Lincoln accepted the nomination of the Illinois Republican Party to run as their United States senator on June 16th 1858 in Springfield, Illinois. He gave his “House Divided Speech” as this acceptance. Lincoln would be campaigning for the Senate seat against Stephen A Douglas. The speech painted a clear picture of the coming disunion caused by slavery, and differentiated between Lincoln and Douglas who believed in popular sovereignty for the states.

Most people felt Lincoln’s speech was to radical. William H Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner believed he was taking the moral high ground but was politically flawed. Leonard Swett, another lawyer claimed the “House Divided Speech” caused Lincoln’s loss in the Senate campaign. Swett wrote to Herndon of the speech in 1866, saying “Nothing could have been more unfortunate or inappropriate; it was saying first the wrong thing, yet he saw it was an abstract truth, but standing by the speech would ultimately find him in the right place."

To read the whole speech check this web site a House Divided Speech

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Tax Sale And A Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery was officially created as a military cemetery June 15th 1864.

Arlington National Cemetery was established on the grounds of Arlington House. Arlington House was an estate owned by Confederate General Robert E Lee’s wife Mary Anna [Custis] Lee, the grand-daughter of Martha Washington. The Custis family bought the land where the cemetery is located in 1802 and began building Arlington House.

The United States government purchased Arlington House and its two hundred acres at a tax sale for $26,800 in 1864. Mrs. Lee sent an agent to pay the $92.07 property taxes that were due, but the government refused to take the payment which was not made in person. The United States Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Washington DC was rapidly filling with military burials, so United States Quartermaster General Montgomery C Meigs wrote of Arlington that the “grounds about the mansion are admirably adapted to such a use." United State Secretary of War Edwin M Stanton officially had the land set aside as a military cemetery June 15th 1864. Burials were begun on the ground of Arlington House before the ink had time to dry.

Custis Lee the son of Robert E Lee sued the United State for ownership of Arlington House in 1874, claiming the estate was held in trust for his mother. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Lee’s favor and Congress returned the land to him. The next year, 1875 Lee sold the property back to the government for $150,000 at a ceremony with Robert Todd Lincoln. President Herbert Hoover held the first official National Memorial Day May 30th 1929 in Arlington National Cemetery.

This is a must read web site for information about the Arlington National Cemetery

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Marine

Union Marine Corps officer Robert Leamy Meade was commissioned a second lieutenant June 14th 1862.

Robert Leamy Meade was born December 25th 1842 in Washington DC.

Meade received a commission to Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps June 14th 1862. During the July 1863 New York City draft riots, Meade commanded a Marine battalion, brought into the city to suppress the rioters. On September 8th 1863 he was a part of a boat attack made against Fort Sumter. Meade received a brevet for his service in this action.

After the Civil War ended Meade stayed in the service. He served during the Spanish - American War, and fought in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. Meade received a promotion March 3rd 1899 to Colonel. During the Chinese Boxer Rebellion he was at the Battle of Tientsin. Meade retired from the Marines with the rank of Brigadier General June 29th 1906. He died February 11th 1910 in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Acting With Courage

The USS Corypheus a schooner was assigned duty off the coast of Texas June 12th 1862.

The Confederate yacht Corypheus was captured in Bayou Bonfuca, Louisiana May 13th 1862. The United States Navy assigned her to tender duty for the USS Arthur off the coast of Texas June 12th 1862 under Master AT Spear. The Corypheus took part in the capture of the schooner CSS Breaker off the coast of Corpus Christi, Texas August 12th 1862. Returning to Aransas Bay she captured the CSS Water Witch a blockade runner. The Corypheus arrived at Galveston, Texas and took part in the Battle of Sabine Pass on January 1st 1863, fighting through heavy fire at the Union forces pulled back. Union Admiral David G Farragut wrote of the Corypheus’ crew acting with courage, protecting the soldiers on shore. She next moved to Lake Pontchartrain where she stopped blockade runners crossing between coastal waters and New Orleans. The Corypheus finished duty around Mobile, Alabama. She was sold September 15th 1865.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Ideal Southern Belle

The “Queen of the Confederacy” Lucy Petway Holcombe Pickens was born June 11th 1832.

Lucy Petway Holcombe Pickens was the daughter of Beverly LaFayette and Eugenia Dorothea [Hunt] Holcombe. She was born June 11th 1832 at the family plantation near Le Grange, Tennessee. Pickens went to a Female Academy in Le Grange, and then finishing school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The family moved to Marshall, Texas in 1848, living in the Capitol Hotel there until their plantation “Wyalucing” was finished.

She married Colonel Francis Wilkinson Pickens an United States ambassador to Russia in 1858. She became popular with members of the Russian court, including Tsar Alexander II and his wife Maria Alexandrovna. The Pickens family moved back to South Carolina in 1860.

Pickens was the only woman to be pictured on Confederate States of America’s money. Many considered her to be the ideal Southern Belle. In April 1861 she watched from a roof in Charleston, South Carolina as the confederacy shelled Fort Sumter. The Holcombe Legion formed in November 1861 was named in Pickens honor, and she designed and sewed the company flag. There is a claim that Pickens sold jewelry given to her by the Russian Tsar to buy the equipment needed by this Confederate unit.

Pickens died August 19th 1899.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

An Up Front Leader

Colonel Benjamin Franklin “Grimes” Davis was killed June 9th 1863 while leading a charge during the Battle of Brandy Station.

Benjamin Franklin Davis was born 1832 in Alabama. He grew up in Mississippi. He received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated in 1856. He saw fighting with the 1st United States Dragoons in New Mexico against Apache.

When the Civil War started Davis stayed with the Union where he was a Captain in the 1st United States Cavalry [he had two brothers who served with the Confederacy]. On June 25th 1862 Davis received a commission to Colonel in the 8th New York Cavalry. He and his cavalry fought their way out of Harpers Ferry when it fell to Confederate General Thomas Stonewall Jackson. Following this he received a promotion to Major. David led the First Brigade in the Untied States Cavalry division for Brigadier General Alfred Pleasonton as part of the Chancellorsville Campaign.

Leading the First Brigade in the early morning hours of June 9th 1863 at the Battle of Brandy Station, his men charged a South Carolina artillery battery near Beverly’s Ford. Davis and his men were met by a Confederate cavalry counterattack. Most of Davis brigade fell back, but he refused to and challenged the on coming cavalry. The men of Confederate Major Caball E Flournoy’s 6th Virginia Cavalry charged Davis. Confederate Lieutenant Owen R Allen hugged his horse’s neck and fired his pistol point blank at Davis. The shot hit Davis in the forehead killing him instantly. Davis is buried in the cemetery at West Point.

If you like to more about Colonel Benjamin Franklin Davis this is a good site.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

No More Tokens

The United States Coinage Act of June 8th 1864 made Civil War tokens illegal.

Civil War tokens were coins that were minted privately. Mostly minted in the Northeast and Midwest, the tokens were caused by the shortage of government issued coins during the Civil War. Tokens fell into three categories, store cards, sutler tokens and patriotic tokens. The first privately minted token was that of H A Ratterman of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1862. The United State Congress passed a law prohibiting the issuing of tokens or other devices for the use of coinage on April 22nd 1864. Then Congress passed a final law making private coinage illegal June 8th 1864. The new law made the minting and usage of Civil War tokens punishable by five years in prison and or $2,000 in fines. It is estimated that by the time the law passed there twenty-five million Civil War tokens in circulation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

All About A Flag

North Carolina native William Bruce Mumford was hung in New Orleans, Louisiana June 7th 1862 for desecrating a United States flag.

On April 26th 1862 Union Captain Henry W Morris of the USS Pocahontas sent Marines ashore in New Orleans, Louisiana to raise a United State flag over the mint. As they raised the flag, angry New Orleans locals gathered around them. Seven of the onlooker including William Bruce Mumford decided they would remove the flag. The USS Pocahontas fired on the men and Mumford was hit with a piece of brick. Mumford took the flag carrying it to City Hall to give to the Mayor. Amid cheers from the crowd, he walked with it, all the while onlookers ripped pieces of the flag, so that Mumford deliver a tatter.

Union Major General Benjamin Butler who was in command of New Orleans arrested Mumford May 1st 1862. Mumford was charged with “high crimes and misdemeanors against the laws of the United States, and the peace and dignity thereof and the Law Martial”. He was brought before a military tribunal on May 30th 1862 and found guilty of treason. Butler issued an order to have Mumford executed. On June 7th 1862 just before noon Mumford was brought to the mint to be hung. He was given a chance to say some final words. Mumford spoke of his patriotism for the Confederacy, and his respect for the United States flag which he had fought under during the Mexican - American War.

On June 18th 1862 the Confederate Governor of Louisiana, Thomas Overton Moore had Mumford declared a hero of the Confederacy. Mumford was placed in a vault in Cypress Grove Cemetery in New Orleans, his body would latter be moved to the Confederate Monument in Greenwood Cemetery, New Orleans.

A web site that has more information about this topic is 1862: William B. Mumford, flag desecrator

Monday, June 6, 2011

Slowing Them Up

Joseph Mower
A delaying battle in the Chicot County, Arkansas area fought June 6th 1864 the Battle of Old River Lake was a stalemate.

Early in June 1864 Union Brigadier General Joseph Mower was given orders to move toward Lake Village by Major General Andrew Jackson Smith. In the early morning hours of June 6th 1864 Mower marched his troops on Lake Village. The Union troops were confronted by Confederates who would shoot at them then pull back into cover. The Confederates continued this movement until they reached Red Leaf where Confederate Colonel Colton Green was encampment. With Green’s soldiers and artillery the Confederates continued to delay the Union advance. Finally the Confederate’s cut off fighting and withdrew to Parker’s Landing.

The Union force then advanced to Lake Village. They bivouacked there over night before meeting back up with Union ships at Columbia on the Mississippi. Union troops saw about 180 casualties while the Confederates took about 100.

A web site for more information about this battle is Engagement at Old River Lake

Friday, June 3, 2011

Off To The Races

One of the first land battle of the Civil War, was fought June 3rd 1861, the Battle of Philippi is also known as the “The Philippi Races”.

By May 28th 1861 Union General George B McClellan placed about 3,000 troops in Western Virginia, all under the command of Brigadier General Thomas A Morris. The Confederates numbering about 800 in the area were under the command of Colonel George A Porterfield. As the Union troops advance, Porterfield’s men retreat from Grafton, Virginia to Philippi, Virginia about 17 miles to the south. There is a covered bridge in Philippi crossing the Tygart Valley River, along the Beverly-Fairmont Turnpike an important route.

Morris approved a two front attack against the Confederates in Philippi. Sixteen hundred men under Colonel Benjamin Franklin Kelley including the 9th Indiana Infantry and the 16th Ohio Infantry, depart by train to the east to make the Confederates think they were heading for Harpers Ferry. These troops departed the train in the village of Thornton, Virginia and marched back toward Philippi. While this was going on the 7th Indiana Infantry, 14th Ohio Infantry and 6th Indiana Infantry, being about 1,400 men march south on the Turnpike. The plan was for these two columns to envelope the Confederates. After marching through the rain, the Union troops arrived in Philippi just before dawn June 3rd 1861.

Union troops awaited a pistol shot which would signal the beginning of the battle. The green Confederate troop hadn’t placed any picket lines for protection. A local Confederate sympathizer; Mrs. Thomas Humphreys sent her son to warn the Confederate soldiers. When he was caught she fired a gun at the Union men, starting the fight. Union artillery woke the Confederates. After firing a few shots at the Union soldiers, the Confederate troops began a running retreat. Many of the newspapers called the Battle “The Races at Philippi” as the Confederates fled south, many in whatever they had slept in. The run ended in Huttonsville, Virginia some 45 miles south of Philippi.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

An Early Battle Pre Civil War

Abolitionist John Brown with followers on June 2nd 1856 attacked an encampment, causing the Battle of Black Jack.

A posse of 750 pro-slavery men led by Henry Clay Pate on May 21st 1856 sacked Lawrence, Kansas. Pate held two of John Brown’s sons prisoner. At dawn on June 2nd 1856 John Brown led 29 men against Pate‘s camp along the Santa Fe Trail in Douglas County, Kansas. Pate a native of Virginia with his “militia” were looking for Brown, to get even with him for the Pottawatomie Massacre. Following the three to five hour Battle of Black Jack, Brown held Pate and 22 other pro-slavery men as ransom for the return of his sons. A United States military company, led by JEB Stuart was sent to force Brown to release Pate.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The First Confederate Death

Killed on June 1st 1861, John Quincy Marr was the first Confederate officer killed in the Civil War.

John Quincy Marr was born May 27th 1825 in Warrenton, Fauquier, Virginia, the son of John and Catherine [Inman Horner] Marr. He graduated in 1846 from the Virginia Military Institute, the second in his class. After graduating Marr was the assistant professor of mathematics and tactics at VMI. When his father died in 1848 Marr returned home where he served for two years as the sheriff of Fauquier County, Virginia. Following John Brown’s Harpers Ferry raid in 1859, Marr helped organize the “Warrenton Rifles”, a local militia company.

Once the Civil War began Marr was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel on May 5th 1861 in the Confederate Army. A company of Union Cavalry entered Fairfax Court House on June 1st 1861, driving back Confederate pickets and taking prisoners. At the time the town was occupied by two companies of Confederate cavalry and Marr’s “Warrenton Rifles”. As the Confederate Cavalry began to retreat from Fairfax Court House, it left only about 40 of Marr’s men to fight the Union Cavalry.

The 2nd United States Cavalry led by Lieutenant Charles Henry Tompkins, with about 70 men in two groups road through the town. Marr was shot by a stray bullet and fell dead by the road side in a clover field. His death was not immediately known and his body wasn't found for several hours. Marr’s body was taken home to Warrenton where his funeral was attended by a large crowd.