Thursday, April 26, 2012

To Make A Free State

Emory Washburn signed the legislation that recognized the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company April 26th 1854.

The Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company was created in Boston, Massachusetts April 26th 1854 to transport immigrants to the Kansas Territory to tip the balance and make Kansas a free state rather than a slave state.  The Company was set up by Eli Thayer, a second term United State Congressman from Massachusetts, following the Kansas Nebraska Act.  Thayer planned to focus on the antislavery movement in the Northern states, sending settlers to Kansas to buy land, and build houses, stores and mills.  The Massachusetts State Legislature gave the company five million dollars for working capital.  The company changed its name in 1855 to the New England Emigrant Aid Company.  The settlers to the territory were expected to support the free-state movement.  The Company was behind the creation of the towns of Lawrence and Manhattan Kansas, as well as playing a role in the founding the towns of Topeka and Osawatomie, Kansas.

There isn’t an exact number known for those who used the Company and emigrated but it’s thought to be somewhere around 2,000.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Made The Union Position Untenable

The Battle of Mark’s Mills was fought on April 25th 1864 in Cleveland County, Arkansas and was part of the Camden Expedition.

Union troops were defeated April 18th 1864 at the Battle of Poison Springs, but it still left Union Major General Frederick Steele in possession of Camden, Arkansas.  Confederate Major General Sterling Price set up a siege on the surrounding Camden countryside.  Union supplies were running low when Steele ordered Union Lieutenant Colonel Francis M Drake to use the Camden Pine Bluff Road to bring in provisions.

On the morning of April 25th 1864 Drake’s command of about 1,800 with additional 300 or so African Americans were attacked near the intersection of the Camden Pine Bluff Road and Warren Road.  Confederate Brigadier General William L Cabell stopped Drake’s movement as Confederate Brigadier General Joseph Shelby launched an assault on the Union left.  Drake was seriously wounded, and finding himself facing overwhelming numbers he was forced to surrender his entire column.

Following this battle Steele’s position in Camden became untenable.  He left Camden on April 26th 1864 and marched north toward Little Rock, Arkansas.

Another place on the web where you find more is Battle of Mark’s Mill (A History)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Code Of Conduct

Francis Lieber
The Lieber Code was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on April 24th 1863; it covered how Union soldiers were to conduct themselves.

The Lieber Code, also known as General Order Number 100 dictated how Union troops were to conduct themselves.  The Code was named for its creator Francis Lieber a professor at Columbia College in New York City, and was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln April 24th 1863.  It included humane treatment of people in occupied areas, and forbade the giving of “no quarter” to prisoners.  The code also covered the use of torture, how to treat POW’s and what was a permissible means to use end insurrections.

The Code was a predecessor to the Hague Regulations, written in 1907.

If you’re interested in reading the original law I recommend General Orders No. 100 : The Lieber Code

Monday, April 23, 2012

Last East Of The Mississippi

John T Croxton
The Battle of Munford, Alabama fought April 23rd 1865, was the last battle of the Civil War to take place east of the Mississippi River.

The Battle of Munford occurred on April 23rd 1865.  It was a part of a raid through Alabama taken on by Union Cavalry under the command of General John T Croxton.  The Confederates which Croxton’s men came up against were made up mostly of home guards, convalescents and deserters known as “Hill’s Layouts”.  They numbered about 150, and they were led in the battle by Confederate General Benjamin Jefferson Hill.  The Confederates had two cannon placed on Academy Hill, which Lieutenant Lewis E Parsons managed to fire twice before being overrun by the Union troops.

The battle produced three deaths, one Confederate and two Union.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Last To Die

Confederate General James Dearing was mortally wounded at the Battle of High Bridge and may have become the last officer to die in the war on April 22nd 1865.

James Dearing was born in Campbell County, Virginia April 25th 1840.  He received his early education at Hanover Academy, before receiving an appointment in 1858 to the United State Military Academy.  Dearing was first in his class at West Point and nearing graduation when Virginia seceded.  He resigned April 22nd 1861 and accepted a commission of Lieutenant in the Virginia Artillery.

Dearing fought with the Washington Artillery of New Orleans at First Manassas.  He was with Confederate General George E Pickett at Yorktown, Williamsburg, Seven Pines and Fredericksburg.  He was promoted to Captain in late 1862.  By Gettysburg Dearing had been promoted to Major.  He commanded a battalion of artillery in the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, taken part in the artillery leading up to Pickett’s Charge.  Dearing was appointed Brigadier General April 29th 1864.  He served with the cavalry under Confederate Major General William H F Rooney Lee during the Siege of Petersburg.

Dearing shot and killed Union Colonel Theodore Read during the retreat to Appomattox at close range with a pistol at the Battle of High Bridge April 6th 1865.  Dearing was then mortally wounded by another Union soldier.  Dearing died from his wound 17 days later on April 23rd 1865 at the Ladies’ Aid Hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia.  He is buried in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg.  Dearing may be the last Confederate officer to in the war.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Recruiting Irregulars

The Confederate Congress passed the Partisan Ranger Act on April 21st 1862 to encourage the recruitment of irregulars.

The Confederate Congress on April 21st 1862 voted to pass the Partisan Ranger Act.  The leadership would come to oppose the use of irregulars, as they became alarmed by a lack of discipline and rivalry between groups.  With insistence from Robert E Lee and other Confederate Army leaders the Act was repealed February 17th 1864.  There were two partisan groups which were exempted and allowed to remain in force until the end of the Civil War.  These two ranger groups were Mosby’s Raiders and McNeill’s Rangers.

The Partisan Ranger Act read as follows:

Section 1. The congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the president be, and he is hereby authorized to commission such officers as he may deem proper with authority to form bands of partisan rangers, in companies, battalions, or regiments, to be composed of such members as the President may approve.

Section 2. Be it further enacted, that such partisan rangers, after being regularly received in the service, shall be entitled to the same pay, rations, and quarters during the term of service, and be subject to the same regulations as other soldiers.

Section 3. Be its further enacted, That for any arms and munitions of war captured from the enemy by any body of partisan rangers and delivered to any quartermaster at such place or places may be designated by a commanding general, the rangers shall be paid their full value in such manner as the Secretary of War may prescribe.

Friday, April 20, 2012

It Came Down To The Navy

The Battle of Plymouth was fought between April 17th and April 20th 1864 in Washington County, North Carolina.

Confederate Brigadier General Robert F Hoke moved to disrupt Union occupation on the North Carolina coast in early 1864.  Moving with 13,000 troops and the naval support of the CSS Albemarle Hoke’s men attacked Plymouth, North Carolina on April 17th 1864.  Union defense of Plymouth was under the command of Brigadier General Henry W Wessells.  Wessells had about 3,000 men with him, and the support of the Union navy.

Both sides saw heavy fighting on April 18th 1864, with Union troops well entrenched in Plymouth, and the Union gunboats able to fire on the Hoke’s soldiers at will, as the CSS Albemarle hadn’t yet arrived.  The Albemarle under the command of Commander James W Cooke, came down the Roanoke in the early morning of April 19th 1864 and joined the fight.  The Confederate ship quickly wiped out the Union navy leaving Wessells surrounded.

The Union troops held out until April 20th 1864.  Wessells surrendered about 10 am.

If you like more information on this topic check out The Battle of Plymouth

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Shell Bounced Off The Armoring

Union Navy officer Charles Williamson Flusser was killed April 19th 1864 while in battle on the USS Miami.

Charles Williamson Flusser was born in Annapolis, Maryland September 27th 1832.  He received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1853.

Flusser started the Civil War in command of the gunboat the USS Commodore Perry.  In 1864 he was commanding the USS Miami off the coast of North Carolina.  On April 19th 1864 the Miami went into a battle with the Confederate ironclad the CSS Albemarle.  Flusser fired the cannons at the ironclad, but a shell bounced off the armoring on the Albemarle and landed back on the deck of the Miami.  The shell exploded killing Flusser.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Asleep On Duty

Union soldier William Scott died April 17th 1862, he was pardoned by Abraham Lincoln for falling asleep on duty, and became known as the “Sleeping Sentinel”.

William Scott was born about 1840 in Groton, Vermont.

Scott joined the 3rd Vermont in St Johnsbury, Vermont.  While stationed at Chain Bridge near Washington, DC, he was found on August 31st 1861 asleep while on duty.  Scott was court martialed and sentenced to be executed.  There were appeals made to his superiors to stay the execution which was scheduled to take place on September 9th 1861.  Scott was already placed in front of a firing squad and his death sentence read, when a pardon arrived from President Abraham Lincoln.

Scott was sent back to his unit in the 3rd Vermont.  His was wounded during the Battle of Lee’s Mills.  He died from his wounds April 17th 1862 and is buried in the National Cemetery at Yorktown, Virginia.

The pardon reads, “Private William Scott, of Company K. of the Third regiment of Vermont volunteers, having been found guilty by court martial of sleeping on his post while a sentinel on picket guard, has been sentenced to be shot, and the sentence has been approved and ordered to be executed. The commanding officers of the brigade, the regiment and the company, of the command, together with many other privates and officers of his regiment, have earnestly appealed to the Major-General commanding, to spare the life of the offender, and the President of the United States has expressed a wish that as this is the first condemnation to death in this army for this crime, mercy may be extended to the criminal. This fact, viewed in connection with the inexperience of the condemned as a soldier, his previous good conduct and general good character, and the urgent entreaties made in his behalf, have determined the Major-General commanding to grant the pardon so earnestly prayed for. This act of clemency must not be understood as affording a precedent for any future case. The duty of a sentinel is of such a nature, that its neglect by sleeping upon or deserting his post may endanger the safety of a command, or even of the whole army, and all nations affix to the offence the penalty of death. Private William Scott of Co. K. of the Third regiment of Vermont volunteers will be released from confinement and returned to duty.”

Two web sites that I recommend if you are interested in more information are William Scott, The Sleeping Sentinel and THE STORY OF GROTON'S HISTORICAL SLEEPING SENTINEL

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Train Chase

The Great Locomotive Chase occurred April 12th 1862 in Georgia.

The Union civilian scout and spy James J Andrews proposed isolating the city of Atlanta, Georgia by destroying the Western and Atlantic Railroad.  Twenty-two men from the Union regiments of the 2nd, 21st and 33rd Ohio along with one other civilian, William Hunter Campbell arrived for the raid in Marietta, Georgia before midnight April 10th 1862.  There were some delays due to heavy rains and two of the men didn’t make it, but joined the Confederate Army.

The train the “General”, going north, stopped the morning of April 12th 1862 in Kennesaw, Georgia so the crew could have breakfast.  This stop gave Andrews and his raiders the chance to steal the locomotive.  The plan was to take the train north towards Chattanooga and meet up with the Union Army.  The “General’s” conductor William Allen Fuller chased the train on a handcar.  He found another locomotive at Etowah, Georgia, continuing to chasing Andrews and his raiders to Adairsville.  At this point the raiders had torn up the tracks and Fuller continued the chase on foot.

Fuller’s next train was the “Texas” which he ran backwards, still chasing the “General”.  Fuller was joined by Confederate troops at Calhoun, Georgia.  The raiders continued north cutting telegraph lines, but they were unable to set the bridge at Tunnel Hill on fire.  Just north of Ringgold, Georgia and only eighteen miles from Chattanooga the “General” ran out of fuel.  Andrews and his men left the train and dispersed.

Within two weeks of taking the train Andrews and all of his men were captured.  They were placed on trial as unlawful combatants and spies.  Andrews and seven of his raiders were found guilty and hung.  Eight of the remaining men escaped from prison and made it back to Union lines, the remaining men were exchanged as prisoners of war on March 17th 1863.

A good web site if you would like to read more is The story of Andrew's Raiders

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The First Second Lieutenant

Union Lieutenant Stephen Atkins Swails the first African American to be promoted to an officer was wounded for the second time April 11th 1865.

Stephen Atkins Swails was born February 23rd 1832.  He married and was working in Cooperstown, New York as a waiter prior to the war.  When Frederick Douglass called for recruits for the 54th Massachusetts Swails enlisted in Elmira, New York as a private.  He became a member of Company “F” and was soon appointed First Sergeant.  Following the assault on Fort Wagner in which the 54th lost a lot of men, Swails was appointed Sergeant Major on November 12th 1863.

The 54th was posted in Florida in early 1864 under Union General Truman Seymour.  Swails was wounded the first time at the Battle of Olustee on February 20th 1864.  When promotions came out on March 26th 1864, Swails was promoted to Second Lieutenant.  The promotion made him the first African American to receive a commission in the Union Army.  While the 54th was on reconnaissance near Camden, South Carolina on April 11th 1865 Swails was wounded a second time.  They were near a railroad junction when a locomotive was steamed up.  A detachment led by Swails captured the train.  He entered the cab and waved his hat in triumph which drew the attention of a Union sharpshooter who mistook Swails for the engineer, and shot him.  Swails was promoted to First Lieutenant April 28th 1865.  He was mustered out of service with the rest of the 54th August 20th 1865 in Boston, Massachusetts.

After the war Swails became a lawyer and worked for the Freedman’s Bureau.  He settled in South Carolina where he was the mayor of Kingstree, South Carolina from 1868 to 1879.  After Reconstruction and an assassination attempt Swails resigned from office.  He went to work in Washington, DC at the United State Treasury and the United Post Office.  He died May 17th 1900 and is buried the Friendly Society Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lincoln Toures The Confederate Capital

Two day after the Confederate government evacuated Richmond, Virginia; on April 4th 1865 President Abraham Lincoln toured the former capital.

President Abraham Lincoln and his son Thomas Tad Lincoln visited the former Confederate Capital of Richmond, Virginia on April 4th 1865.  Just days after the Confederate forces evacuated, leaving the city in smoking ruins.  Lincoln who had only 12 soldiers as escort was quickly mobbed by former slaves as he made his way to the previous Confederate White House then being used as the Union military headquarters. He hoped to meet with his commanding general, but instead was faced with a delegation of Southerners looking for the war to be brought to an end.

Following the meeting Lincoln and his son rode through Richmond by carriage, making visits to Libby Prison and other famous sites around the city.  Once they reached Rocketts Landing, Lincoln and Tad boarded the USS Malvern.  The next morning Lincoln left Richmond.

Union Admiral David Dixon Porter said of the President’s trip to Richmond, "I should have preferred to see the President of the United States entering the subjugated stronghold of the rebels with an escort more befitting his high station, yet that would have looked as if he came as a conqueror to exult over a brave but fallen enemy. He came instead as a peacemaker, his hand extended to all who desired to take it."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Freed The Gunboats

The 5th Minnesota Infantry came to Union Admiral David Dixon Porter’s rescue on the Red River at Campti, Louisiana on April 3rd 1864.

Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey received authorization from the United State Assistant Secretary of War, Thomas A Scott on October 23rd 1861; to raise a fifth regiment.  The 5th Minnesota mustered into Union service April 30th 1862 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

Union General A J Smith with two brigades, including the 5th were called to Campti, Louisiana on April 3rd 1864.  Union Admiral David Dixon Porter’s gunboats had become trapped on the Red River at Campti.  After freeing the gunboats, which moved safely upriver, the 5th Minnesota along with the rest of Smith’s men burnt the town of Campti.

The 5th Minnesota lost 8 officers and 261 enlisted, were killed, or died of wounds and diseases during the war.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Covered In Blood

The Battle of Selma was fought in Alabama on April 2nd 1865.

Union Major General James H Wilson had three cavalry divisions, made up of about 13,500 men.  He led them south from Gravelly Springs, Alabama.  Wilson’s Confederate opposition was Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest.  As part of a running fight the Union troops beat Forrest at the Battle of Ebenezer Church on April 1st 1865, and then continued towards Selma, Alabama.

Forest arrived in Selma, Alabama early on the morning of April 2nd 1865, he and his horse covered in blood.  Forest told the commander of the city’s military force, Lieutenant Richard A Taylor to leave the city.  Selma, Alabama was well defended by three miles of fortifications, but Wilson divided his command into three columns, and broke through the resistances causing the Confederates after heavy fighting, to surrender the city.  Most of the Confederate officers including Forrest and Taylor along with a good number of the soldiers escaped capture.  The Union force saw loses of about 360 men, while the Confederate troops had about 2,700 casualties.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spike The Guns

Lieutenant John Vincent Johnston was the Union Navy commander on an expedition to spike the guns of Fort Number 1 on April 1st 1862.

John Vincent Johnston was living in Cincinnati, Ohio in September 1861 when he joined the Union Navy.  He first served on the gunboat the USS St Louis as the First Master.  Johnston was on the gunboat which captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee River on February 6th 1862.  He was the Union Navy commander in a combined Army – Union expedition on April 1st 1862 to spike the guns of Fort Number 1 located just above the Confederate held Island Number 10 in the Mississippi.  For his actions in this expedition Johnston was promoted to Lieutenant.  During the bombing of Vicksburg, Mississippi Johnston was in command of the USS Forest Rose, running the Mississippi River.  His gunboat stopped as attack by Confederates on February 15th 1864 saving the Union garrison at Waterford, Louisiana.  Johnston left the Navy June 23rd 1864.

Johnston died in St Louis, Missouri April 23rd 1912.