Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stuck On A Sandbar

The CSS Caroline Gertrude was sunk in the Ochlockonee River December 29th 1863.

The CSS Caroline Gertrude, a schooner ran aground on a sandbar in the mouth of the Ochlockonee River.  The USS Stars and Stripes; a 400 ton steamer, came upon the schooner and attempted to capture it.  The crew of the Stars and Stripes tried to refloat the Confederate schooner but came under fire from Confederate cavalry on the shore.  After several hours of gunfire the Union sailors set the Caroline Gertrude on fire and sank her on December 29th 1863.  The Stars and Stripes didn’t recover the schooner’s cargo of cotton, but did gain a number of prisoners.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Castle Fell

Castle Pinckney was the first Union military position seized on December 27th 1860 by a Confederate state government.

Castle Pinckney was built in 1810 on Shutes’ Folly Island about a mile off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.  The fort was started in 1797 as a stick and earth structure to protect the city from naval attack and was named for American Revolutionary War hero Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.  It was replaced in 1809 by a brick structure that reminded people of a castle.  The fort was garrisoned in the War of 1812 and during the Nullification Crisis of 1832.  The rest of the time the fort was used as a storehouse for military supplies.

As the country closed in on Civil War, Castle Pinckney was a part of the Union defense of Charleston harbor which included Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter.  Pinckney was protected by 28 guns of various sizes in 1860.  Once week after South Carolina seceded from the Union, on December 27th 1860 the Castle was stormed by a small force using ladders to climb over the parapet.  The Union soldiers garrisoned at Pinckney turned it over to a South Carolina militia without firing a shot and joined Union Major Robert Anderson at Fort Sumter.  This move made Castle Pinckney the first Union holding to fall to a Confederate force.

Castle Pinckney was manned after Fort Sumter fell by the Charleston Zouave Cadets.  After the First Battle of Manassas, Pinckney was used to hold 154 Union prisoners of war.  Although Pinckney was bombed heavily during the war it stayed in Confederate hands until after Charleston fell.  The Union reoccupied the fort February 18th 1865.

Monday, December 26, 2011

May As Well Lose Them Here

The opening engagement of the Vicksburg Campaign, the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou was fought December 26th through the 29th of 1862.

Union Major General Ulysses S Grant started a campaign in November 1862 to capture the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi.  He spilt his army of 70,000 men into two wings, commanding one himself and placing the other under Major General William Tecumseh Sherman.  Sherman wing was authorized as the XV Corps of the Army of the Tennessee on December 22nd 1862.  He organized his troops into four divisions under Brigadier Generals George W Morgan, Andrew Jackson Smith, Morgan L Smith and Frederick Steele.  Sherman’s men disembarked on the Yazoo River at Johnson’s Plantation on December 24th 1862

On December 26th 1862 Sherman deployed three brigades to make a reconnaissance of the Confederate defenses around Chickasaw Bayou.  The ground was ruff and swampy.  They skirmished with Confederate Stephen D Lee’s men.

Sherman ordered an artillery attack on December 29th 1862 to weaken Confederate defenses.  It went on for about four hour, but didn’t do much damage.  At about 11 am the Union troops deployed into lines of battle.  Sherman knew it was going to be hard fighting and said, "We will lose 5,000 men before we take Vicksburg, and may as well lose them here as anywhere else."

The assault started at noon.  Union troops crossed water barriers and other obstacles, moving forward against the Confederates by the force of sheer numbers.  Once they reached the main Confederate line and came under heavy fire the Union line began to crumble.  Sherman’s men fell back on a corduroy bridge.  Confederate General Lee made a counterattack, capturing a number of battle flags and 332 Union soldiers.

After another day of fighting Sherman decided fighting more in the same location would be pointless.  The Union saw 1,776 casualties.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Soldier's Desk

A patent for a pocket writing desk was applied for December 25th 1861 by Andrew J Ritter.

Patent number 35,781 was applied for by Andrew J Ritter of Rahway, New Jersey for a pocket writing desk.  The pocket desk was meant to hold paper, pen or pencil, sewing needles and thread, and a checker board with the checkers.  When the Civil War started it became a much sought after device for both sides.  The patent was granted to Ritter on July 1st 1862.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Returning Slaves After 1812

The Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812, between the United States and England was signed December 24th 1814, and included a return of slaves.

Members of negotiation teams in Ghent Belgium signed and affixed seals to the document known as the Treaty of Ghent on December 24th 1814.  It was sent on to be ratified by the governments to end the War of 1812.  The treaty called for the release of prisoners and boats, as well as the return of about 10,000,000 acres of land along Lakes Michigan and Superior and in Maine.  There was also a promise made by England to return all black slaves who had been encouraged during the war to cross into English held territory.

To view the actual wording check out this web site,  The Treaty of Ghent

Friday, December 23, 2011

With Sabers Drawn

An engagement in Madison County, Alabama, the Affair at Indian Creek Ford on December 23rd 1864, was a small cavalry tousle.

Parts of the Union 10th and 13th Indiana Cavalry and the 2nd Tennessee Cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Colonel W F Prosser were in Madison County, Alabama on a very cold December 23rd 1864.  They found and attacked a Confederate force of about 300 dismounted cavalry under the command of Colonel J R B Burtwell.  The Union troopers charged the Confederates with sabers drawn.  Burtwell and his men made a disorganized retreat.

Prosser lost 4 men, 1 killed and 3 wounded.  The Confederates had 54 wounded and captured, and unknown number of fatalities.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Irish General

Michael Corcoran the Irish American General and Colonel of the 69th New York died December 22nd 1863.

Michael Corcoran was born September 21st 1827 in Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland, the only child of Thomas and Mary [McDonagh] Corcoran.  When he was 18 he took a job with the Revenue Police, searching for illegal stills and other distilling activities in Donegal County, Ireland.  Corcoran immigrated to the United State on August 30th 1849.  He settled in New York City, where he found work in the Hibernian House, a tavern in Manhattan.  Corcoran enlisted in the New York City Militia which became the 69th, and was their Colonel on October 11th 1860 when he refused to march in a parade put on for the visiting Prince of Wales.  He was removed from command and was placed under a court martial when the Civil War started.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Corcoran’s charges were dropped and he was restored to command of the 69th New York.  While the Regiment served in Washington, DC early in the year, they worked on defenses of the city, building Fort Corcoran.  Corcoran led the 69th at the First Battle of Bull Run, and was taken prisoner.  He was released in a prisoner exchange in August 1862 and was promoted to Brigadier General in the Union army.  Following Corcoran’s release he was placed in command of the 1st Division of the 12 Corps.  He saw action at the Battle of Deserted House and the Siege of Suffolk, before returning to the defenses of Washington, DC.  Corcoran was riding alone on December 22nd 1863 when his horse fell on him.  He died from a fractured skull.  Corcoran is buried in the Calvary Cemetery at Woodside, Queens, New York.

Another web site that might interest you about Corcoran is

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To Destroy The Saltworks

The Second Battle of Saltville was fought near the town of Saltville, Virginia December 21st 1864.

Union General George Stoneman put together a force to move against the saltworks located at Saltville, Virginia.  Stoneman defeated a Confederate unit on December 18th 1864 at Marion, Virginia, and then began his advance.

The town of Saltville, Virginia was held by Confederate General John C Breckinridge with about 500 men.  They were waiting on an additional brigade of General Basil W Duke’s cavalry.  Two Union columns moved into the town and despite heavy skirmishing quickly overwhelmed the Confederate defenses.  When Breckinridge ordered a retreat, Stoneman’s men moved into town and demolished the saltworks, which was the purpose of the raid.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lack Of Experence

The Skirmish at Blackwater Creek on December 19th 1861 took place in central Missouri, and is also known as the Skirmish at Milford.

Confederate Colonel Franklin S Robertson, a store owner in Saline County, Missouri was recruiting to fill out a Confederate regiment after being commissioned by Major General Sterling Prince.  Union Brigadier General John Pope who was in command of the District of Central Missouri was set on quashing the Confederates working in Missouri and end southern recruiting.

Robertson rounded up his recruits and on December 16th 1861 took his 750 men and marched them south.  They were going to meet up with other recruits near Warrensburg, Missouri.  They were to join up with Price.  Robertson and his men camped on December 18th 1861 near Milford, Missouri.  Pope learning of the encampment moved to encircle them by sending Union Colonel Jefferson C Davis’ brigade to the Blackwater Bridge and the 2nd Missouri Cavalry around them to the northeast.

Finding himself surrounded on December 19th 1861, Robertson formed a line, and ordered his men to take the bridge before the Union troops could hold it.  When fired on the new recruits holding the bridge fled.  The 4th United States Cavalry, 2nd Missouri Cavalry and 1st Iowa Cavalry chased them into Robertson’s line, where the Confederates surrendered.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

They Held For Three Charges

Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Cavalry push out a detachment of Union cavalry December 18th 1862 near Lexington, Kentucky.

Union troops received reports on December 16th 1862 that Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest had crossed the Tennessee River just north of Savannah, Tennessee.  The intelligence said that Forrest had 2,000 men with him and was heading for the Mobile & Ohio Railroad.  Acting on this information the Union sent Colonel Robert G Ingersoll with about 700 men, including 2 guns that were part of an Indiana Battery to defend the town of Lexington, Tennessee.

Ingersoll prepared for the Confederates advance by positioning pickets east of town along Beech Creek and burning two bridges that crossed the creek southeast of town.  Forrest was spotted on the night of December 17th 1862.  Union troops pulled in to within two miles of town and Ingersoll prepared to fight along the State and Lower Roads.  Union Major Otto Funke, located 4 miles down the State Road began the fight with Forrest’s troopers at dawn on December 18th 1862.  After several hours of fighting the Confederates overtook Funke’s force.  Forrest sent most of his men up Lower Road.  Ingersoll tried to mass his troops on Lower Road, but was to late.  The Union men held for three charges, before being overrun.

Forrest’s men captured both of the Union cannons and 149 men including Ingersoll.  The Union prisoners were held at Trenton, Tennessee for a few days before being paroled.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Man Behind Terry's Texas Rangers

Benjamin Franklin Terry, the first commander of the 8th Texas Cavalry was killed December 17th 1861 during the Battle of Rowlett’s Station.

Benjamin Franklin Terry the son of Joseph R and Sarah D [Smith] Terry, was born February 18th 1821 in Russellville, Kentucky.  His father left the family in 1833 and his mother moved the family to Texas to live with a Grandmother.  Terry was a wealthy land holder in Fort Bend County, Texas and a builder of railroads.  A big, popular man, Terry was elected as a delegate to Texas’ Secession Convention.  It was while at the Convention that Terry and fellow delegates Thomas S Lubbock and John A Wharton decided to raise a company of cavalry.

In early 1861 Terry was involved in the campaign to disarm Union troops at Brazos Santiago.  In June 1861 he sailed from Galveston, Texas to New Orleans and then by train onto Richmond, Virginia to offer his service to the Confederate Army.  He was appointed Colonel and made an aide to General James Longstreet.  Following First Manassas the Confederate War Department gave Terry permission to raise a Cavalry Regiment.  Making a call for volunteers at Houston, Texas on August 12th 1861, the unit was organized in November 1861 as the 8th Texas Cavalry with 1,170 men.  The 8th was known as Terry’s Texas Rangers.  They headed for Virginia, but were re-routed to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The first battle for the 8th was fought near Woodsonville, Kentucky, the Battle of Rowlett’s Station on December 17th 1861.  Terry was killed during the battle, which ended in victory for the Confederates.  Terry’s body was sent by train to Nashville, Tennessee where he laid in state in the Capitol, then on to New Orleans and finally Houston.  He is buried in the Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Texas.

A web site with more infortion about Benjamin Franklin Terry is the  Texas State Historical Association

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Killing And An Earthquake

George Lewis, known as Slave George was killed the night of the first New Madrid Earthquake December 16th 1811 by his owner’s sons Lilburn and Isham Lewis.

George Lewis was born a slave in Virginia in 1794.  He was owned by the Lewis family and was raised as a house slave.  When the Lewis’ moved to Kentucky in 1806, they took their slaves with them.  One son, Randolph died in 1810, and the mother of the family died shortly after.  By 1812 Lilburne the oldest brother in the family was having deep personal and financial troubles.

On the night of December 16th 1811 Lilburne and his brother Isham had been drinking heavily.  George knocked over a pitcher that had belonged to the brother’s mother, breaking it.  In a drunken anger they killed George.  The brothers tied him to the floor and attacked him with an ax, killing him and dismembering his body.  The attack was brought to a halt by the first of the New Madrid Earthquakes.

In order to hide what they had done, the Lewis brothers had George’s body placed in a chimney that was being re-built following the quake.  This chimney collapsed again when the final and largest of the New Madrid Quakes hit on February 7th 1812.  When George’s remains turned up, the brothers were arrested.  Lilburne committed suicide and Isham disappeared from jail.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

South Carolina's First Son

Confederate Brigadier General Maxcy Gregg was killed December 15th 1862 during the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Maxcy Gregg was born in Columbia, South Carolina August 1st 1814.  He attended South Carolina College, and after passing the bar practiced law with his father.  When the Mexican – American War started Gregg served as a Major in the 12th United States Infantry.  In the years leading up to the Civil War he was an advocate of secessionists.  He wrote a pamphlet called, "An Appeal to the State Rights Party of South Carolina."

In December 1860, when South Carolina seceded, Gregg went to work organizing the 1st South Carolina, a six month regiment.  He served as their Colonel.  The 1st took part in the bombing of Fort Sumter.  He would move up to become Brigadier General on December 14th 1862; he took command of a brigade made up of South Carolina regiments in Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill’s Division at the Battles of Gaines’ Mills and Second Manassas.  While fighting at the Battle of Antietam, Gregg was wounded in the thigh by the same bullet which had killed Confederate Brigadier General Lawrence O’Bryan Branch.

While fighting at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Gregg was commanding at a point in the Confederate line where there was a gap.   Union Major General George Gordon Meade’s soldiers were attacking that part of line lines.  As Gregg rallied his troops a bullet passed through his body, hitting his spine.  He died two days later on December 15th 1862.  Gregg is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Columbia, South Carolina.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The End Of Winter Campaigning

A part of the Knoxville Campaign, the Battle of Bean’s Station was fought December 14th 1863 in Grainger County, Tennessee.

Confederate General James Longstreet had his troops ahead of the Union forces, and decided to circle back and capture Bean’s Station.  He set up his three columns and artillery so they would catch the Union troops between them as they approached Bean’s Station.  Skirmishing broke out about two in the morning on December 14th 1863.  The Union troops under the command of Brigadier General J M Shackleford held their line until after nightfall, at which time they retreated through Bean’s Gap and onto Blain’s Cross Roads.  Longstreet followed them in the morning, but found the Union force was strongly entrenched at Blain’s Cross Road.  The Confederates retired into their winter camp and that ended the Knoxville Campaign.

The casualties in the battle were about 700 Confederates and 900 Union soldiers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Proud Secessionist

Confederate Colonel Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb was killed during the Battle of Fredericksburg December 13th 1862.

Thomas Reade Roots Cobb was born in Jefferson County, Georgia April 10th 1823, the son of John A and Sarah [Rootes] Cobb.  He graduated from Franklin College in 1841 and was admitted to the bar in 1842.  Cobb reported for the Supreme Court of Georgia from 1849 through 1857.  He was a fervent secessionist and served as a delegate to the Georgia Secession Convention.  He was also one of the founders of the University Of Georgia School Of Law.

When the Civil War started Cobb served in the Confederate Congress, where he was the chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, and helped with the drafting of the Confederate constitution.  In 1861 he organized Cobb’s Legion.  Cobb was commissioned the Legion’s Colonel August 28th 1861.  They saw heavy action in the Battles of Seven Days, Second Manassas, and Antietam, which prompted Cobb’s promotion to Brigadier General in November 1862.  He still hadn't received a confirmation of the promotion when he was mortally wounded.

Cobb was carried inside the Stephens house near the Sunken Road on Marye’s Heights during the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13th 1862 after an artillery shell exploded near his position.  A piece of the shrapnel damaged the femoral artery in Cobb’s thigh and he bleed to death.  He is buried in the Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens, Georgia.

Another web site with more information about  Thomas R. R. Cobb (1823-1862)  worth taking a look at.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Baseball During The Civil War

The National Association of Base Ball Players held its annual convention December 11th 1861 in New York City.

The National Association of Base Ball Players or the NASSP held there annual convention at the Mercantile Library in New York City December 11th 1861.  Do to the Civil War it was not well attended.  All 61 teams sent representatives and three new clubs from Brooklyn, the Constellations, Favorita and Resolutes were admitted to the club.

The NABBP was the first governing body of baseball, and was founded in 1857.  Their founding was based on developing rules for the game.  It was made up of ball clubs in the five boroughs of New York City.  It was found by the NABBP that players were being paid under the table in the early 1860’s, and so they helped open Brooklyn’s Union Ground, the first enclosed ballpark.  This allowed teams to charge, and so could begin to make money and pay professional ball players.

When the Civil War ended the NABBP had grown to include Base Ball Clubs from all over the United States and numbered over 100 teams.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The First African American Governor

The first African American to become a United States Governor, Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback was sworn in December 9th 1872.

Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback was born May 10th 1837 in Macon, Bibb, Georgia to Eliza Stewart a former slave and her former owner William Pinchback.  His father bought a large plantation in Mississippi shortly after Pinchback’s birth and he moved his family there.  Pinchback was raised white and was sent to school in Cincinnati, Ohio.  When his father died in 1848 he left school and worked for a while on the river before settling in Terre Haute, Indiana where he worked at a hotel.

When the Civil War started Pinchback went to New Orleans where he received a commission to Captain in the Union 1st Louisiana Native Guards, an all black regiment.  After being passed over for promotion in favor of white officers, he resigned his command in 1863.

After the war Pinchback became active in the Republican Party in New Orleans.  He was elected as a State Senator in 1868 and served as the senate president pro tem.  When Oscar Dunn died in 1871 Pinchback became Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana.  In 1872 the Republican governor Henry Clay Warmoth was impeached and Pinchback became governor on December 9th 1872.  He served for 35 days.  He went on to be elected to the United State House of Representatives and the Senate, but his elections were overturned and his Democratic opponent was seated instead.  In 1885 Pinchback went to Dillard University and became a lawyer, final moving to Washington, DC where he had a practice.

Pinchback died December 21st 1821 in Washington, DC.  He is buried in the Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.  It wouldn’t be until 1990 when Douglas Wilder became governor of Virginia that the United States had another African American governor.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Critic of Jefferson Davis

The Confederate Senator from Mississippi, Henry Stuart Foote condemned Jefferson Davis’ military policies on December 8th 1863.

Henry Stuart Foote was born February 28th 1804 in Fauquier County, Virginia.  He entered Washington College in 1819, but didn’t graduate.  After which Foote study law and was admitted to the bar in 1823.  He set up a practice in Tuscumbia, Alabama, where he also started a newspaper, library and the LaGrange College.  Foote moved to Mississippi where he was elected to the United State Senate.  He served in the Senate from 1847 to 1852, when he left to become the Governor of Mississippi.  Foote defeated Jefferson Davis in 1851 running on the Unionist platform.  Following his term as Governor Foote moved to California in 1854.  He returned to Mississippi and then in 1859 to Nashville, Tennessee.

Foote was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives when the war started.  He was critical of  Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ war policies in a speech December 8th 1863.  In January 1865, Foote tried to cross Union lines to travel to Washington, DC, but Confederate authorities arrested him before he could.  He finally made it to Washington, DC, where he tried to have a meeting with President Abraham Lincoln.  Arrested by the Union Foote was given the choice of leaving the county or being sent back to the Confederacy.  Foote moved to Canada.

After the Civil War ended Foote moved back to Washington, DC where he opened another law practice.  He wrote several books, and was appointed as Superintendent of the New Orleans Mint by President Rutherford B Hayes.  Foote died in Nashville, Tennessee May 20th 1880 and is buried in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.  His grave is not marked.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Taking Out A Dam

Confederate General Thomas Stonewall Jackson destroyed Dam Number 5 on the Potomac River on December 7th 1861.

One of the first tests of Confederate General Thomas Stonewall Jackson’s army was an attack on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Dam.  The C & O Canal Company built dams in the 1830’s to have water to feed its locks.  Numbers 4 and 5 were originally wood cribbing, but had been replaced by stone in 1850’s.  Union troops were re-building the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Grafton, Virginia and Point of Rock, Maryland, and were using the C & O Canal to move the rail building supplies.
Union troops were located at Williamsport, Maryland about 6 miles south of Dam Number 5.  Jackson sent troops about another 5 miles downstream on the Potomac River.  The Confederate troops moved on Dam Number 5, getting there on December 7th 1861.  Jackson’s 5,000 men were on one side of the river and the Union’s 13th Massachusetts on the other side.  Jackson deployed his men, and they went into the cold water to destroy the dam.  The men of the 13th ; armed with smooth bore guns, could do very little stop Jackson’s men, and only hit and killed one man from their far side of the river.  The Confederates worked through the night pulling the dam apart.

The next morning a second company of the 13th arrived on a flatboat, these Union men were armed with Enfield rifles.  The Union soldiers opened fire on Jackson’s troops driving them off.  Jackson had partially destroyed Dam Number 5, and withdrew his men to Winchester.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The End Of Slavery

The Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery was adopted December 6th 1865.

The Thirteenth Amendment formally abolished slavery and forced servitude, except when used as punishment for crimes.  It was adopted December 6th 1865.  It was the first of the Reconstruction Amendments.  President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 made slavery against the law only in the Confederate states.  The Thirteenth was the first new amendment to be added to the United States Constitution in more than sixty years.

The Senate passed the Thirteenth Amendment by a vote of 38 to 6 on April 8th 1864.  The House of Representatives declined to take action.  It was reintroduced and with President Lincoln’s push, the Thirteenth passed the House January 31st 1865 by 119 to 56.  The archival copy of the amendment includes the President’s signature along with the Speaker of House and the President of the Senate.

A web site to view the Thirteenth Amendment--Slavery and Involuntary Servitude

Monday, December 5, 2011

Commanding Artillery

Confederate Colonel Robert Franklin Beckham was wounded just before the Battle of Franklin and died December 5th 1864.

Robert Franklin Beckham was born May 6th 1837 in Culpeper, Virginia.  He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated 6th out of 22 in the class of 1859.  He served with the United State Topographical Engineers as a Lieutenant through 1861.

Beckham resigned his commission when the Civil War started.  He was commanding an artillery battery at First Manassas.  In January 1862 he served on the staff of Confederate General Gustavus Woodson Smith, where he saw action at the Battle of Seven Pines.  Following the death of Confederate Major John Pelham, Beckham took over command of the Stuart Horse Artillery in the Army of Northern Virginia in April 1863.  Beckham was transferred to the Confederate Army of Tennessee and ordered to report to General John Bell Hood in February 1864, and received a promotion to Colonel.

While commanding artillery at Columbia, Tennessee, Beckham was mortally wounded on November 29th 1864.  This occurred just one day before the Battle of Franklin.   He died December 5th 1864, and is buried in the St John’s Churchyard Cemetery in Ashwood, Tennessee.