Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Great Escape

Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and several of his men broke out of prison November 27th 1863 in Ohio and made their escape to the south.

John Hunt Morgan was raised in Kentucky.  His served in the United States Army during the Mexican American War, under General Zachary Taylor.  When the Civil War started and the state of Kentucky didn’t secede, Morgan moved to Alabama.  He made several raids into the north between 1862 and 63.  On the last of these raids Morgan led his band of men through Kentucky, southern Indiana and into Ohio.  After a tour through Cincinnati the raiders head for the Ohio River, their route was blocked at Buffington Island, Ohio by Union soldiers and about 700 of Morgan’s men were captured.  Morgan turned his men back north, but most were captured along with Morgan at Salineville on July 26th 1863.

Morgan was placed in the newly built Ohio State Penitentiary along with some of his officers at Columbus, Ohio.  Morgan and his men cut a hole into a ventilation space under Thomas Hines’ cell, through which they tunneled out into the inner yard; they then scaled the wall on November 27th 1863.  Morgan caught a train for Cincinnati, and then hired a boat to take him across the river.  They made their way back to Tennessee and safety in Confederate territory.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Capture The Flag

Private Thomas Evans was awarded the Medal of Honor, November 26th 1864 for his actions at Piedmont, Virginia.

Thomas Evans was born 1824 in Wales.

He joined the Union Army at Huntington on February 9th 1864, and was a member of Company D of the 54th Pennsylvania.  His commander Colonel J M Campbell wrote in his report that Evans tore the flag from the color bearer of the 45th Virginia Infantry regiment, capturing the man in the process.  This happened during a battle at Piedmont, Virginia on June 5th 1864.  Evans received the Congressional Medal of Honor November 26th 1864.

Evans died shortly after the end of the war in 1866.  He is buried in the Bethel Cemetery in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ambushed At His Mother's Home

Confederate Captain Redmond Burke was killed November 25th 1862 as he approached a home in Shepherdstown, Virginia.

Redmond Burke was born in Ireland in 1816.  He lived in Harper's Ferry and worked as a stonecutter.

When the Civil War started Burke enlisted as a Private in the 1st Virginia Cavalry.  He was transferred to serve on Confederate Major General JEB Stuart’s staff as aide decamp and scout and was portrayed as "a man of great presence of mind and courage and had done some deeds of desperate gallantry".  He was commissioned on April 3rd 1862 as a Lieutenant.  He was wounded twice, once in the leg at the Battle of Brandy Station and in the wrist at Fredericksburg.  Burke had reached the rank of Captain by November 1862.

Burke and several companions went to the home of his mother in Shepherdstown, Virginia on November 25th 1862.  It was here that Union soldiers ambushed him.  He was killed.  When Stuart learned of Burke’s death he wrote of him that “he possessed a heart intrepid, a spirit invincible, patriotism too lofty to admit a selfish thought and a conscience that scorned to do a mean act. A devoted champion of the South, his gray hairs have descended in honor to the grave, leaving a shining example of heroism and patriotism to those who survive…”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

They Leapt The Lines

Fort Connor
A part of Union Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer’s Michigan Brigade, the 6th Michigan Cavalry was mustered out of service November 24th 1865.

The 6th Michigan Cavalry was organized in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and mustered into Union service October 13th 1862 with 1,229 men.  The 6th was part of the famed Michigan Brigade, and saw it first actions at Hanover, Hunterstown and Gettysburg under the command of Union Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer.  The 6th made a notable charge against the retreating Confederates at Falling Waters, Maryland July 14th 1863, where they leapt their horse over the Confederate lines.
Once the Civil War ended the 6th was ordered to duty in west to fight Indians.  They received a new commander, Brigadier General Patrick Edward Connor.  They spent the summer constructing Fort Connor, a supply depot that was used during the Powder River Expedition.  The 6th mustered out of service November 24th 1865.  They lost 135 officers and enlisted who were killed in action or died of their wounds.  They also saw 251 men die from diseases.

For more information take a look at this web site  6th Regiment Michigan Volunteer Cavalry

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Wound Of Honor

Union Brigadier General Francis Engle Patterson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound November 22nd 1862.

Francis Engle Patterson was born March 7th 1821 into a military family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of General Robert and Sarah [Engle] Patterson.  Patterson began his military career as a Second Lieutenant in the United State artillery during the Mexican American War.  After the war he stayed in the military, transferring to the infantry.  He received a promotion in 1855 to Captain as part of the 9th United Infantry.  Patterson left the military in 1857.

When the Civil War started Patterson rejoined the army.  He served under his father in the 17th Pennsylvania with a rank of Colonel.  In April 1862 Patterson was placed in command of the 2nd New Jersey and promoted to Brigadier General.  He led his troops in the Battles of Fair Oaks and Seven Pines.

While posted at Catlett’s Station in November he received unconfirmed reports that there were Confederate troops in the area, and he purportedly ordered a withdrawal.  His Division commander Union General Daniel E Sickles had him relieved of his command, and requested that an inquiry into Patterson’s actions be held, however before that could happen Patterson died.  His death on November 22nd 1862 was caused by a self-inflicted gunshot, while in his tent near Occoquan, Virginia.  It was determined the shot was an accidental discharge, but there was talk about suicide.  Patterson is buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The War Secretary

James Alexander Seddon was appointed the Secretary of War for the Confederacy November 21st 1862 by Jefferson Davis.

James Alexander Seddon was born in Falmouth, Stafford, Virginia July 13th 1815.  His health was never good and because of this he was educated at home.  When he turned twenty-one Seddon entered the University of Virginia where he studied the law.  After graduating in 1835 he settled in Richmond, Virginia where he had a successful law practice.  Seddon was elected to Congress in 1845 as a Democrat.  After serving two non-consecutive terms, his health caused him to leave politics.  Seddon retired to his estate on the James River.
The Peace Convention; an attempt to prevent the coming war, was held in Washington, DC in 1861, and Seddon attended.  When the Peace Convention fell through, Seddon attended the Confederate Provisional Congress.  Confederate President Jefferson Davis named Seddon the Secretary of War November 21st 1862; he would hold the post until January 1st 1865.

After the war was over Seddon returned to his estate and retired from political life.  He died August 19th 1880.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

First Spoken Outloud

The first public meeting where there was a call for secession was held November 19th 1860 in the Chesterfield County Courthouse in South Carolina.

At a meeting held in the town of Cheraw, South Carolina on November 19th 1860 the first public call for secession was spoken.  John A Inglis of Cheraw proposed a resolution to the group that the State of South Carolina secede from the Union.  The resolution read in part that, “the state of South Carolina should forthwith secede from the Federal Union”.

Inglis along with Henry McIver also of Cheraw, South Carolina was named to the committee that would write the document that outlined South Carolina’s secession.  Inglis would be the committee’s chairmen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

To Improve Marksmanship

The National Rifle Association was started by former Civil War veterans and was granted a charter November 17th 1871 by the state of New York.

The Union Infantry was equipped with rifles but more often than not fought using tactics formulated for smoothbore muskets.  Even when using these outmoded volley tactics the Union Army records show that for each Confederate soldier hit about 1,000 rounds were fired.

Led by “Army and Navy Journal” editor Union Colonel William Conant Church; Civil War veterans organized the National Rifle Association in New York November 17th 1871.  Union General Ambrose E Burnside was the first President and General George Wood Wingate was the secretary.  Wingate studied marksmanship training programs of European armies while traveling, and he wrote a marksmanship manual.  The NRA got the New York state legislature to build a range on Long Island for long range shooting competitions.  The New York Herald wrote to support training in military marksmanship and promoted the NRA.

The manual written by Wingate went on become the United States Army’s marksmanship instruction manual.  Ulysses S Grant and General Philip H Sheridan were the eight and ninth presidents of the NRA.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Race To The Cross Road

The Battle of Campbell’s Station was fought November 16th 1863 in the Farragut, Knox, Tennessee area.

Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet took a detachment of two divisions and 5,000 cavalry from the Army of Tennessee, with orders to attack Union Major General Ambrose E Burnside who was traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee.  Both armies traveled similar routes trying to beat the other to Campbell’s Station.  Campbell’s Station was the point where the Kingston Road and Concord Road meet, and Burnside had to get there first if he was going to get to Knoxville.  If Longstreet could get to Campbell’s Station before the Union troops, they would be forced to fight outside of the works around Knoxville.

Burnside’s troops marched hard through the rain on November 16th 1863, arriving at the intersection at Campbell’s Station just 15 minutes ahead of the Confederates.  Longstreet planed an attack against both flanks of Union force, with Confederate Major General Lafayette McLaws hitting the right flank and Brigadier General Micah Jenkins the left.  The Union right was hit hard and had to redeploy, but the Union left held its ground.  Burnside’s withdrew his men three quarters of mile in an orderly movement.  Longstreet halted his attack and Burnside was able to move his troops to Knoxville.

Union casualties in the battle were about 400.   The Confederate’s lost about 570 men.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Other Minnesota Regiment

The 3rd Minnesota was completely mustered into Union service November 14th 1861 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

Mustered into the Union Army by companies at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, between October 2nd and November 14th 1861, the 3rd Minnesota was sent to Kentucky.  There the unit was placed on garrison duty in Kentucky and Tennessee.  Must of the men of the 3rd were taken prisoner July 13th 1862 by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  The men were paroled and sent to Benton Barracks in St Louis, Missouri to wait for exchange.  The official exchange took place August 27th 1862, and the 3rd was transferred back to Minnesota.  In it’s home state the men were used to suppress the September 1862 Dakota War.
The 3rd was reorganized at Fort Snelling following the Dakota War, and they returned in January 1863 to garrison duty in Kentucky and Tennessee.  They were called to join the Siege of Vicksburg, and they participated in the capture of Little Rock, Arkansas on September 10th 1863.  The 3rd would remain in the city on garrison duty until April 28th 1864.  The 3rd took part in an expedition up the White River in Arkansas, which ended in the Battle of Fitzhugh’s Woods April 1st 1864.

The 3rd was discharged from military duty September 16th 1865 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.  They lost 17 men who died in battle or of their wounds.  They also saw 279 soldiers die from disease.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

God And Money

The phrase “In God We Trust” was suggested by Reverend M R Watkinson November 13th 1861 in a letter to United States Secretary of Treasury Salmon P Chase.

During the Civil War there was an increased religious feeling in the country.  The Reverend M R Watkinson of Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, wrote a letter November 13th 1861 to US Treasury Secretary Salmon P Chase asking that a proclamation be placed on our money recognizing “Almighty God”.  Chase wrote soon after to the Director of the Philadelphia Mint, that no “nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins"
Chase wouldn’t formally submit the motto to the treasury until December 9th 1863.  The act ratified that the motto be placed on the one cent and a newly designed two cent piece on April 22nd 1864.

The wording of the original letter from Reverend Watkinson is:

"Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.

One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.

You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.

This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.

To you first I address a subject that must be agitated."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

No Draft

One of the first draft riots during the Civil War occurred November 12th 1862 in Wisconsin.

On the morning of November 12th 1862, William Pors a Wisconsin draft officer entered the County Court House at Port Washington, Wisconsin to begin working on a draft.  A mob made up mostly of immigrants dragged him out of the Courthouse and threw Pors down the steps.  Pors hid in the basement of the Post Office while the mob marched on his home and other nearby houses.  They moved on through the town chanting “No draft, no draft” looting, starting fires and causing destruction.  The mob took the town cannon, normally used in the 4th of July celebration.  The rioters formed a line along the river and prepared to battle the Union Army, which they heard was on its way.

Union troops located in Ulao, Wisconsin marched to Port Washington where they set up a line surrounding the village.  In the meantime the 28th Wisconsin was brought up by steamer and dropped behind the rioters.  Most of the mob fled, but 136 were captured were transported to Madison, Wisconsin and placed in Camp Randall, where they were held for about a month.  Of these 13 were drafted into the army.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The End Of A Prophet

Nathaniel Turner the leader of a slave rebellion in Virginia was hung November 11th 1831.

Nat Turner was born October 2nd 1800 in Virginia, a slave owned by Samuel Turner.  He was a bright man who learned to read and write when a child.  Turner was quite religious and was often found reading the Bible.  When he was 22 Turner ran away from his owner, but returned in about a month, after he “received” a vision from God telling him to.  He began to preach to other slaves, and was known as “The Prophet”.

In May 1828 Turner was working in the fields when he had a message from God telling him to "slay my enemies with their own weapons."  Beginning in February 1831, Turner came to believe that certain atmospheric conditions were to be interpreted as a sign that he should begin preparing for a rebellion against the slave owners.  A solar eclipse occurred in Virginia February 11th 1831 and Turner took it as sign that the time for the revolt was near.  When another eclipse occurred on August 13th 1831, Turner took it as the final sign; he began the rebellion a week later.  With a few fellow slaves, Turner moved from house to house killing white people and freeing slaves.  They used axes, hatchets, knives and whatever else was handy.  Turner confessed to killing a woman with a fence post.  Before the local militia could respond Turner’s group killed 60 people.

The revolt was put down within two day, but Turner stayed on the run until October 30th 1831 when he was found hiding in a hole.  He was placed on trial and sentenced to death November 5th 1831.  Turner was hung in Jerusalem, Virginia November 11th 1831, after which his body was desecrated.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Slow Death

Heinrich Hartmann Wirz the commander of the Confederate Prisoner of War Camp known as Andersonville was executed November 10th 1865.

Heinrich Hartmann Wirz was born in Zurich, Switzerland November 25th 1823.  He attended the University of Zurich and practiced medicine before immigrating to the United States in 1849.  Wirz married in Kentucky a widow who had two daughters.  They moved to Louisiana where Wirz started another medical practice and added another daughter to his family.
When the Civil War started Wirz joined the 4th Louisiana Volunteers as a private.  While serving during the Battle of Seven Pines he was wounded and lost the use of his right arm.  Do to the loss of his arm Wirz was assigned to the staff of Confederate General John Henry Winder, who was in charge of Confederate prisoner of war camps.  In March 1864 Wirz was placed in command of Camp Sumter located near the railroad depot of Anderson, Georgia, which would come to be batter known as Andersonville.  The prison was designed to be used as a temporary holding place for Union prisoners waiting to be exchanged.  With the end of prisoners exchanges, Andersonville would end up holding about 32,000 Union prisoners.

Wirz was arrested in May 1865 and taken to Washington, DC where he was placed on trial for causing the deaths of Union prisoners of war.  A military tribunal was convened July 1865 and presided over by Union Major General Lew Wallace.  The court took testimony from Union prisoners of war, residents who lived near Andersonville and Confederates who had served with Wirz.  The commission found Wirz guilty of conspiracy and eleven counts of murder.  He was sentenced to death.  He wrote a letter to President Andrew Johnson asking for clemency, but never received a reply.  He was hung to death November 10th 1865 on First Street in Washington, DC where the Supreme Court building is located.  Wirz’s neck didn’t break when the gallows dropped and so he slowly strangled to death.  Wirz is buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, DC.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Fort Only Lasted A Year.

Fort Duffield built outside of West Point, Kentucky was started November 3rd 1861, and finished in two months.

Union General William Tecumseh Sherman was worried about the Confederates located at Bowling Green and Columbus, Kentucky, and a possible attack using the Ohio River and the Louisville Nashville Turnpike.  He ordered a fort the be built on Pearman Hill at West Point Kentucky to protect the Union supply base located at Elizabeth, Kentucky.  The 37th Indiana and 9th Michigan began construction of the fort on November 3rd 1861.  They finished it in two months.

The Fort Duffield was named after Rev George Duffield of Detroit, Michigan.  The Rev’s son Colonel William W Duffield was the commander of the 9th Michigan.  The fort wasn’t built in the traditional star like shape, but had more of a serpentine shaped wall about 1000 foot long.  There was a fresh water source inside in the fort and the trees were removed for a mile around the fort.  About 61 men died from disease while working on the fort.  There were about 950 soldier stationed in Fort Duffield.

Fort Duffield never saw any action, and was abandoned in the fall of 1862.  Interestingly had the Fort remained in use, they may have stopped Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s 1863 Raid, which was carried out in the area.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Small Bayou Battle

The Battle of Bayou Bourbeux was fought November 2nd 1863 in Southwestern Louisiana.

The Battle of Bayou Bourbeux [also known as Battle of Grand Coreau] took place west of the town Grand Coteau, Louisiana November 2nd 1863.  Confederate Brigadier General Thomas Green received orders to make an attack on the Union camp located there, from Confederate Major General Richard A Taylor.  The Union camp was under the command of Brigadier General Stephen Gano Burbridge.

The casualties were light with  26 Union dead and 42 Confederate dead.