Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Built in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania in 1854 as the Gray Cloud, the USS Kinsman operated on the Mississippi River. Union General Benjamin Franklin Butler commandeered her in 1862 after the capture of New Orleans, Louisiana. The 245 ton steam side-wheeler was fitted out as a gunboat and renamed the USS Kinsman and place under the command of Acting Master George Wiggen in the Union Army. The Kinsman along with the Calhoun, Diana, and Estrella engage the Confederate ironclad the CSS Cotton on November 3rd 1862. The Kinsman was struck in her port bow, but the CSS Cotton was forced to retire. She was involved in several captures during the next few days.
On January 1st 1863 the USS Kinsman was transferred from the Army to the Union Navy. She was now under the command of Lieutenant Commander Thomas McKean Buchanan. On February 23rd 1863 the Kinsman was transporting troops when she struck a snag and sank near Brashear City, Louisiana in the Berwick Bay. There were six men missing.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Union General William Sooy Smith left Memphis, Tennessee with about 7,000 men to connect with the Union army stationed at Meridian, Mississippi under the command of Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman. Meridian was a railroad center. After delaying his march by ten days Smith ran into Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest’s cavalry on February 21st 1864. A fight between the two forces began on the prairie south of Okolona, on February 22nd 1864. The Union troops constructed barriers around their positions. Forest made frontal and flanking attacks, cutting gaps in the Union line. When Forest received reinforcements the Union troops were routed with five cannons being left behind. Union forces made a stand on a ridge, bringing on a series of attacks, at which time Forest’s brother Jeffrey Forest was shot and killed. Smith’s Union soldiers began a running fight of eleven miles.
Forest ordered an end to the pursuit because he was running low on ammunition. Smith’s soldiers escaped over the state line back into Tennessee at Collierville on February 26th 1864, where he was criticized for screwing up Sherman’s Meridian Expedition. Smith resigned from the army and returned to his civilian life. There were about a 150 casualties, about 100 for the Union and 50 for the Confederates.
Monday, February 21, 2011
John Henry Winder was born February 7th 1800 at his families plantation “Rewston” in Somerset County, Maryland, the son of Brigadier General William H and Gertrude [Polk] Winder. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point graduating 11th in a class of 30 in 1820. After 4 years of military service Winder resigned to run the family plantation. Do to some family deaths and economic hardships Winder was forced to rejoin the army. He was promoted to First Lieutenant November 30th 1833 and given the job of teaching tactic at West Point, where one of his students was Jefferson Davis. Winder saw service during the Mexican - American war including the Battles of Contreras, Churubusco and Mexico City. Following the war Winder held the rank of Major in the United Army, receiving this promotion on November 22nd 1860.
Winder resigned his United State commission on April 27th 1860 and became a Colonel in the Confederate Army. He was made the Assistant Inspector General of Camps on June 21st 1861 with the rank of Brigadier General. Winder’s duties included prisons, handling deserters, setting prices for commodities and command of Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. It was Winder who appointed Captain Henry Wirz in April 1864 to command the Confederate Prison camp in Georgia known as Andersonville Prison. On November 21st 1864 Winder was placed in charge of the Confederate Bureau of Prison Camps a post he held until his death.
Winder was on duty in Florence, South Carolina when he had a heart attack and died February 7th 1865. He is buried in the Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Union Major General Quincy Adams Gillmore ordered an expedition into Florida in February 1864 to cut Confederate supply routes. Union Brigadier General Truman Seymour was placed in command of the expedition. Confederate Generals Alfred H Colquitt and Joseph Finegan were in command of the troops defending Florida.
Using the route of the Florida, Atlantic and Gulf Railroad, Seymour moved his 5,500 union soldiers toward Lake City, Florida. On the afternoon of February 20th 1864 they moved on the 5,000 Confederates commanded by Finegan and entrenched near Olustee Station. The two forces met at Ocean Pond. Seymour thinking these soldiers where the same as the Florida militia that he beaten easily before, sent in his troops piecemeal. Finegan and Seymour reinforced their committed troops placing the Union men under a withering line of rifle and cannon fire. The Union soldiers broke and retreated back to Jacksonville, Florida.
Union casualties in the Battle known as Olustee or Ocean Pond were 1,861 killed, wounded or missing. Confederate casualties were a lighter 946. The Union also lost 39 horses and 6 pieces of artillery.
For more information about this battle, check out the web site The Battle of Olustee
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Robert Brown Potter was born July 16th 1829 in Schenectady, New York, the son of Alonzo Potter. He was a lawyer in New York City.
Potter enlisted at the beginning of the Civil War as a private in the New York militia. He was quickly promoted to lieutenant and then commissioned on October 14th 1861 to Major. Potter was wounded March 14th 1862 at the Battle of New Bern. He was in command of the 51st New York Volunteers at the Battle of Second Bull Run. As a Colonel Potter led the 51st in the Battle of Antietam, where he was wounded again. March 13th 1863 saw Potter commanding the Second Division of the IX Corps during the Siege of Vicksburg, and a new rank of Brigadier General. He was leading the Division during the Overland Campaign, and the Siege of Petersburg were he was the only division commander at the Battle of the Crater. Potter was wounded again in the Battle of Fort Stedman April 2nd 1865, this wound keeping him out of the war until it ended.
With the war having ended and Potter recovered, he was given command of the Districts of Rhode Island and Connecticut which were parts of the Department of the East. Potter married September 20th 1865 to Abby Stevens. It was also on that day he received a promotion to Major General. He was mustered out of service on January 15th 1866. Potter spent the post war years as a receiver for the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad. He lived in England from 1869, before returning the to states and settling in Rhode Island in 1873. Potter died February 19th 1887 in Newport, Rhode Island. He is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
If you would like more information about this subject check out Alonzo Potter Family Website
Friday, February 18, 2011
The Texas Secession Convention made a decision to withdraw from the United States on February 1st 1861. At that point the United States’ Department of Texas had twenty military posts strung out through the state. These posts held about 2,100 soldiers. Union General David E Twiggs was the commander of the Department of Texas. Twiggs understanding the anti-Union feeling in Texas, wrote to his commander General Winfield Scott on December 13th 1860 looking for instructions as to what to do in the event of secession, and was told only not to wage war. Twiggs wrote again on December 27th 1860, and then again about a week latter, "Texas will certainly go out of the Union the latter part of this month. I respectfully ask instructions as to what disposition will be made of troops now in this department... arrangements should be made at once..." After still not getting instructions Twiggs wrote the adjutant general on January 20th 1861, telling him that since the government did not wish him to wage war against Texas, he would surrender all government property if the Governor of Texas demanded it.
About a thousand armed Texans surrounded Twiggs’ garrison at San Antonio on February 18th 1861. They forced Twiggs to surrender. The Texans allowed the Union soldiers to leave Texas with their arms. However the Confederate government of Texas took possession of $1.6 million dollars of United State property, this included 20 military installation, 1,900 muskets, 950 horses, 500 wagons, 400 pistols, 44 cannon, and 2 ammunition magazines. Because Twiggs surrendered his command in Texas, he was branded a traitor. President James Buchanan dismissed Twiggs from the Union Army on March 1st 1861. Ten weeks latter Twiggs excepted a commission in the Confederate Army as a Major General.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
After Savannah, Georgia fell to Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman, during his “March to the Sea”, he turned his army north to connect with Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S Grant. Sherman planned his march to go through South Carolina to Columbia, then capture and destroy the Confederate held Fayetteville, North Carolina arsenal. Sherman split his forces sending the Left Wing toward Augusta, and the Right wing toward Charleston.
Confederate General PGT Beauregard attempted to defend both cities, as long as he could. Beauregard thought he would be able to bring his forces back together if the Union changed direction and headed for Columbia. Sherman concentrated his army faster than Beauregard had expected, and arrived at Columbia on February 16th 1865. Only a small force of Confederates were defending the city. The Union Artillery sighted their cannon on the State House and fired shells into the heart of Columbia, South Carolina. Being heavily outnumbered Confederate Lieutenant General Wade Hampton evacuated the city without a fight. The Mayor of Columbia surrendered the city to Sherman, who promised nothing would be harmed on February 17th 1865. Most of Columbia was burned in a fire on the night of February 17th 1865, thought to have been set by Confederates and fanned on by drunken Union soldiers after the capture.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Following the capture of Fort Henry on February 6th 1862 Union General Ulysses S Grant moved his men overland to Fort Donelson. On February 12th and 13th 1862 they made a few probing attacks. The Union Navy fired on the Fort on February 14th, but were drove away by batteries from the Fort. Confederate Brigadier General John B Floyd finding Fort Donelson surrounded made a surprise attack on Grant’s army trying to find an escape path on February 15th 1862. Grant rallied his men, and Floyd pulled his troops back into their entrenchments.
Floyd and his second in command, Confederate Brigadier General Gideon J Pillow turned over the Fort on the morning of February 16th 1862. Excepting the unconditional surrender terms from Grant. They left command of the Fort to Confederate General Simon B Buckner and made their own escape. Buckner surrendered about 14,000 troop along with 48 guns, equipment and provisions. About 800 men on both sides were killed during the battle, with another 1,500 wounded. Some of the wounded left on the field, froze to death in a snowstorm. The capture of Fort Donelson opened up the Cumberland River to the Union for the invasion into the South.
Monday, February 14, 2011
St John Richardson Liddell was born September 6th 1815 on his families plantation near Woodville, Mississippi. He attended the local school, where he was a classmate of Jefferson Davis. He received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1837, but resigned before graduating. Liddell set up his own plantation “Llanda” near Harrisonburg, Louisiana.
After the Civil War started and Louisiana secessed, Liddell enlisted in the Confederate Army as a Colonel. During the early part of the war Liddell served as a staff officer for Generals William Joseph Hardee and Albert Sidney Johnston. He was promoted to Brigadier General July 17th 1862 and given command of the Arkansas Brigade in Cleburne’s division of the Army of Tennessee. They saw action during the battles of Perryville, Murfreesboro and Chickamauga, where his son was mortally wounded. Liddell turned down a promotion to Major General in hopes of getting a command closer to his plantation. After Chattanooga Liddell was transferred to District of Northeastern Louisiana, where he commanded during the 1864 Red River Campaign. In December 1864 he wrote to Confederate Senator Edward Sarrow suggesting emancipation of slave in order secure foreign assistance with the war. Liddell took on Union Major General Edward R S Canby in the Battle of Spanish Fort, where he was captured April 9th 1865.
After the war Liddell began writing a memoir in 1866 which was critical of Confederate leadership. The memoir was a collection of letters and battlefield records, which he hadn’t brought together at the time of his death. On February 14th 1870 while having dinner on a steamboat, Liddell was shot to death by Confederate Colonel Charles Jones. The murder was the ending to a twenty year real-estate dispute.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
While waiting on reinforcements on February 13th 1864, Union Colonel William A Phillips sent out about 350 men of the 14th Kansas Cavalry led by Major Charles Willette to Middle Boggy Depot. There were about 90 men in Middle Boggy Depot. They were part of Confederate Lieutenant Colonel John Jumper’s Seminole Battalion of Mounted Rifles and the 1st Choctaw and Chickasaw Calvary. Willette’s men caught the Confederates off guard, shelling and attacking them. The Confederates were outnumbered and outgunned, but still held off the Union attackers for thirty minutes before retreating into the woods. Jumper’s additional troops, hearing the Union guns rushed to the depot. Willette learning of the approaching Confederates retreated to Fort Gibson. There were 47 Confederates killed in the fight.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
The Lincoln Memorial built to honor President Abraham Lincoln, is located in Washington, DC. The statue of Lincoln in the memorial was created by Daniel Chester French, the building designed by architect Henry Bacon and the murals inside painted by Jules Guerin. Although the Memorial wasn’t built until the Twentieth century, one was being talked about since his death, begin in 1867 when Congress passed the first of many bills commissioning a monument to Lincoln. This first monument was designed by Clark Mills, and called for a seventy foot structure with six equestrian and thirty-one pedestrian statues, topped by a twelve foot high statue of Lincoln. Due to insufficient founds the project faltered.
Finally after five bills to congress were defeated, Senator Shelby M Cullom of Illinois got Senate Bill 9449 passed in 1910. The next year the Lincoln Memorial Commission had their first meeting. There were issues with many of the Commission’s choices of location and design. In 1913 Congress gave its approval and allocated $300,000 for the project. A small dedication ceremony was conducted for the ground breaking on February 12th 1914, with construction beginning a month latter. Despite several changes to the design, the memorial was done on the scheduled finish date of Memorial Day 1922. William H Taft dedicated the Memorial and presented it to President Warren G Harding who accepted for the American people. Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert who was 79 at the time was in attendance.
Friday, February 11, 2011
The Thirty-sixth United State Congress were seated during the last two years of the James Buchanan’s presidency. The House had a Republican plurality and the Senate a Democratic majority. Even though there was a strong abolitionist movement in the Northern states, most politicians felt that the country's highest priority was to save the Union, not to put an end to slavery. With a goal of holding the Union together, and keeping the remaining eight slave state loyal to the Union, the United States House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution promising no interference with slavery in any state in the Union on February 11th 1861.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Jefferson Davis found out that he had been selected the President of the Confederate States of America on February 10th 1861. He was at his plantation, “Brierfield” with his wife Varina pruning roses when the news came. It was not the job Davis wanted, but he accepted it. Davis’ wife Varina would write that his face became pale when reading the telegram, and after a few minutes, Davis said, “I have no confidence in my ability to meet its requirement. I think I could perform the function of a general." Davis could see there would be a lot of trouble in setting up a new nation, he said "Upon my weary heart was showered smiles, plaudits, and flowers, but beyond them I saw troubles innumerable. We are without machinery, without means, and threatened by powerful opposition but I do not despond and will not shrink from the task before me." Davis left his home the next day for the capital of the Confederacy in Montgomery, Alabama.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Luther Libby ran a supply shop in the corner of a large warehouse in Richmond, Virginia. When the Civil War began the Confederates needed a prison to hold captured Union officers. They gave Libby fourty-eight hours to vacate his property. The sign “L Libby & Son, Ship Chandlers” remained on the building, and so it became known as Libby Prison.
Libby Prison took in an entire city block and on the south side of the prison was the James River. The prison was three stories high with a basement exposed on the river side. The first floor held offices for the Confederate guard unites, the second and third floor held prisoners. The basement was divided into three parts, a storage cellar, a carpenter’s shop and an abandoned kitchen. The kitchen area was abandoned because of flooding, and an infestation of rats. The area became known as “Rat Hell”.
Union officers broke into the “Rat Hell” by removing a stove and chipping into the chimney. From there they tunneled their way out. The floor in “Rat Hell” was covered in two feet of straw, which allowed the prisoners to hide the dirt from the tunnel. In seventeen days the Union Prisoners tunneled through to a vacant lot on the eastern side of the prison, coming up under a tobacco shed.
On the night of February 9th 1864 the Union officers began to escape Libby Prison in groups of two and three. The Confederate guards didn’t believe escape from Libby Prison was possible and weren’t looking for any of the signs. A hundred and nine men escaped the prison. At dawn on February 10th 1864, Union Colonel Harrison C Hobart replace the bricks in the fireplace, to cover the escape. The Confederate guards made their morning round unaware of the missing men.
Out of the 109 men who escaped Libby Prison on February 9th 1864, 59 of them made it back to Union lines, 48 of the prisoners were recaptured, and two of the drowned in the James River.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
“The Birth of a Nation” a silent film based on the book “The Clansman” by Rev. Thomas Dixon Jr, and directed by D W Griffith was released February 8th 1915 in Los Angeles, California. The film followed two families, one a pro Union northern family the other a pro Confederate southern family, through the years of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The film is the highest ever grossing of the silent film era. Nation was, and is a very controversial film. Its portrayal of African Americans, and the Ku Klux Klan as an heroic group caused riots in some cities when showed. The film was banned in several American cities, and was the first motion picture to ever be shown in the White House. President Woodrow Wilson said after watching Nation, that it was “like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true".
The Birth of a Nation revived the Ku Klux Klan, and was and is used as a recruiting tool.
Monday, February 7, 2011
The first opening of what would be called the Burnside Expedition took place on February 7th and 8th 1862. Known as the Battle of Roanoke Island, it was fought just south of Virginia in the North Carolina Sound. The Union attack was made up of gunboats taken from the North Atlantic Blocking Squadron under the command of Flag Officer Louis M Goldsborough and troops led by Brigadier General Ambrose E Burnside. These Union forces came up against Confederate gunboats known as the Mosquito Fleet under the command of Captain William F Lynch, with about 2,000 soldiers led at the time of the battle by Colonel Henry M Shaw. The Confederate defenses were also supported by four forts and two batteries.
The day of February 7th 1862 was spent in a gun duel between the Union gunboats and the forts along the shore. Several of the Union gunboats were hit, but damage was light. Around four that afternoon Burnside went ashore with his 10,000 men, and six howitzers. It was to late in the day to begin a ground fight, and so they went into camp for the night.
The second day of the Battle, the Union troops advanced under a heavy artillery fire. Although protected by swamps the Confederates were flanked on both sides and drew back into the forts. Burnsides took the Forts one at a time. Shaw ran out of places to escape to and surrendered his 2,500 men and 32 guns..
Sunday, February 6, 2011
John Pegram was born January 24th 1832 in Petersburg, Virginia the son of John West and Virginia [Johnson] Pegram. His father died when he was still young, and his mother supported the family by running a girls school. Pegram received an appointment to the United State Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1854, and was assigned to the United State dragoons as a Second Lieutenant. After three years of garrison duty in the West, Pegram was appointed as Assistant Instructor of Cavalry at West Point. He took a leave in 1858-59 to go to Europe and observe the Austro - Sardinian War. After returning from Europe in 1860 Pegram was assigned on the frontier in New Mexico Territory.
Pegram received news in May 1861 that his home state of Virginia had seceded. He resigned his Untied State Lieutenant commission. In July of 1861 Pegram was assigned to the 20th Virginia Infantry and commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel. The 20th Virginia was part of Brigadier General Robert Selden Garnett’s brigade serving in western Virginia. In August 1861 Pegrem’s men were cut off from the brigade during the Battle of Rich Mountain on July 11th 1861, and Pegram surrendered his men to the Union forces. Making Pegram the first former United States Army officer to be captured as a Confederate, he spent six months imprisoned in Fort Monroe. Paroled on January 1862, Pegram was prompted to Colonel and made the Chief Engineer of the army of General Braxton Bragg. In November 1862 Pegram was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of a Cavalry Brigade. In November 1862 he reported to the Army of Northern Virginia, where he was given command of a brigade in Jubal A Early’s division. Pegram was wounded during the Battle of the Wilderness, but was back in time for Early’s Valley Campaign.
Pegram married Hetty Cary January 19th 1865 in Richmond, Virginia. The wedding was attended by Confederate President and Mrs Jefferson Davis. Pegram was killed in action February 6th 1865 at the Battle of Hatcher’s Run. His funeral would be held in the same church he was just married in. Pegram is buried in the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Union Brigadier General David M Gregg’s Cavalry traveled west to Dinwiddie Court House on the Malone Road on February 5th 1865, looking to intercept Confederate supplies. The V Corps under command of Major General Gouverneur K Warren took a position to protect Gregg’s right flank on the Vaughen Road. Two divisions of the Second Corps under command of Major General Andrew A Humphreys moved from Hatcher’s Run to Armstrong’s Mill to cover Warren’s right flank. In the late afternoon Confederate Major General John B Gordon attacked Humphrey’s men near the Mill planning to turn their right flank. The Union troops held their line and repulsed Gordon’s men. During the night the Union Second Corps was reinforced by two divisions, extending the line south of Hatcher’s Run.
The movements here continued for two more days, with the line moving back and forth. On February 6th 1865 Confederate Brigadier General John Pegram was killed taking Hatcher’s Run. The next day February 7th 1865 Union forces recaptured the lines lost the day before. The two sides saw about 2,700 casualties in the three days of fighting.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Mahlon Dickerson Manson was born February 20th 1820 the son of Davis and Sarah [Cornwall] Manson Jr in Piqua, Ohio. Manson taught school in Montgomery County Indiana, and studied medicine in Cincinnati, Ohio. He served with the 5th Indiana Volunteer during the Mexican - American War. Following that war Manson worked as a druggist in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
When the Civil War started Manson was appointed Captain of the 10th Indiana Infantry. He commanded a brigade at the Battle of Mill Springs in 1862. Because of his actions during that battle Manson was promoted to Brigadier General on March 24th 1862. He was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Richmond, but was back in action in time to fight Confederate John Hunt Morgan on his raid into Ohio. Manson led the XXIII Corps during the Knoxville Campaign. He returned to Brigade command in the Army of the Ohio during the Atlanta Campaign. Manson was wounded again during the Battle of Resaca. Do to this wound he resigned from the army in December 1864.
Following the war Manson ran as a Democrat and was elected to the United State House of Representatives in 1871. He was also the 20th Lieutenant Governor of Indiana, as well as the State Auditor. Manson died February 4th 1895 in Frankfort, Indiana. He is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
The Hampton Roads Conference was an attempt to bring the Civil War to a negotiate end, and was arranged by Lincoln‘s adviser Francis P Blair Sr. President Abraham Lincoln with his Secretary of State William H Seward met near Fort Monroe, Virginia with Confederate representatives Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens, Assistant Secretary of War John A Campbell and Senator Robert M T Hunter. They used the ship the USS River Queen a Union transport ship on February 3rd 1865 for the meeting.
After four hours, there were no agreements. President Lincoln dominated the meeting. He demanded an immediate end to fighting, with the disbandment of the Confederate military, southern recognition of emancipation, and all Confederate States returned to the Union. Lincoln was willing to consider compensation for slave owners, and good treatment for Confederate officials. The men representing the Confederacy were not authorized to accept anything short of independence. At the conclusion of the conference the Confederate Representatives returned to Richmond, Virginia, and the war went on.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
John King Jackson was born February 2nd 1828 in Augusta, Georgia. He started school at Richmond Academy in Georgia. Jackson completed his education; graduating with honors, at the University of South Carolina. He was admitted to the bar in 1848, and had a law practice in Augusta, Georgia until 1861. Jackson was active in the Georgia State Militia, and by 1861 he was a Lieutenant Colonel.
In April 1861 Jackson joined the Confederate Army. He became a Lieutenant Colonel in the 5th Georgia Infantry, and quickly moved up in rank to Colonel. Jackson first saw action in the Confederate defeat at the Battle of Santa Rosa Island in Florida. He received a promotion to Brigadier General and the command of a brigade on January 14th 1862. On March 29th 1862 he was moved to command a brigade in the Army of Mississippi, which he led during the Battle of Shiloh. Next would be the Battle of Stones River. Jackson and his men fought with distention at the Battle of Chickamauga September 20th 1863, where one his regiments lost 61% of its men. He and his brigade were involved in the Atlanta Campaign. Jackson ended the war in his home town of Augusta, Georgia where he was serving by setting up military depots. He was paroled May 17th 1865.
Following the war Jackson returned to his law practice. He developed pneumonia while traveling in Milledgevill, Baldwin, Georgia. Jackson died February 27th 1866 and is buried in Augusta, Georgia.