Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The First McCoy Death

Union soldier Asa Harmon McCoy the brother of Randolph McCoy of Hatfield / McCoy fame was discharged from the army December 24th 1864.

Asa Harmon McCoy was born in Pike County, Kentucky 1828.  He was the younger brother of Randolph McCoy.

McCoy enlisted in the Union Army under the name of Asa H McCay, and served in Company E of the 45th Kentucky Infantry.  He suffered a broken leg while in service and was discharged from service on December 24th 1864 with the rest of his company.  Soon after his return home he was confronted by members of the “Logan Wildcats” a Confederate Home Guard.  The “Wildcats” where Company D of the 36th Virginia Infantry.  It is believed that Jim Vance an uncle of Anse Hatfield was among those who fired a warning shot at McCoy, and then tracked him to the cave on Blue Spring Creek, where he was hiding and on January 7th 1865 and killed him.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Well Built Tug

Rear Admiral Francis Gregory
The USS Buckthorne was purchased for the Union Navy December 22nd 1863.

The USS Buckthorne was a wooden hulled screw steamer, outfitted with one mast, she was 87 feet long.  She was built in East Haddam, Connecticut, and was purchased for $26,500 from George W Jewett on December 22nd 1863 by Union Rear Admiral Francis Gregory.  The Buckthorne was commissioned April 7th 1864 at New York City under the command of Lieutenant W Godfrey.

The Buckthorne was well built and was placed in service as a tug.  She served as a part of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron and was present during the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5th 1864.  She was used to carry dispatches and as a tender for the rest of the fleet.

When the war ended the Buckthorne was moved to the Pensacola Navy Yard.  She was sold for $3,000 on September 7th 1869.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Harbor Defenses Or Indian Reservation

Union Camp Santa Catalina was proposed as an Indian reservation December 21st 1863 on Santa Catalina Island, California.

On an isthmus located on west end of Santa Catalina Island, California, that a Union camp was located in 1863.  Camp Santa Catalina was proposed and built following an incident along the coast with the Confederate privateer CSS JM Chapman.  It was thought that it would be a good place for harbor defenses.

The garrison commander Union General George Wright was given the authority to have all persons on the island removed.  Wright proposed on December 21st 1863 that the Camp be made into an Indian reservation, to hold the natives currently fighting against Union volunteers in northwest California.  Company C of the 4th California Infantry was posted at the Camp January 1st 1864 and served there until the end of the year, when all Union property was removed from the island.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Defeat And Destroy

The Second Battle of Saltville was fought December 20th and 21st 1864 near the town of Saltville, Virginia.

The Union tried once in October 1863 to destroy the saltworks at Saltville, Virginia, but was defeated.  In early December 1864, Union General George Stoneman brought together a force of about 1,400 men, including a brigade commanded by Brigadier General Alvan C Gillem to try again.

The Union force began its advance on Saltville with a Confederate defeat at Marion, Virginia on December 18th 1864.  At Saltville Confederate Colonel Robert Preston had 500 men, with a brigade of cavalry commanded by General Basil W Duke on its way.

The Union troops attacked on December 20th 1864, with two columns joining up.  There was some determined skirmishing before the Union troops overwhelmed the Confederate defenses.  Preston had to order his men to retreat.  Stoneman’s men entered the town the next day and accomplished the objective by destroying the saltworks.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Last Veteran

Walter Washington Williams who claimed to be the last living Confederate veteran died December 19th 1859.

Walter Washington Williams was born in Itawamba County, Mississippi, he said in 1842.

Williams claimed to have served in Confederate General John Bell Hood’s brigade, beginning in 1864 as a forgemaster.  Research into his military service has never been proven, nor even has his age been verified.

When the war ended Williams moved to Texas, where he settled on a farm in Eaton, Texas.

When the rest of the “last Claimants” had died, Williams became celebrated as the “last Confederate veteran”.  Williams died December 19th 1859 in Houston, Texas at the home of his daughter.  The chairman of the Civil War Centennial; Ulysses S Grant III, said the Williams death was an occasion for national mourning, which United States President Dwight D Eisenhower had declared.  He is buried in the Mount Pleasant Church Cemetery in New Baden, Robertson, Texas.  His name is listed on the “Soldiers and Sailors of the Confederacy” monument at the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Battlefield, with the inscription, “Walter Washington Williams -- who was recognized by the government of the United States as the last surviving Confederate veteran died 1959 at the age of 117 years."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Compromise

Senator John Crittenden
The Crittenden Compromise was proposed on December 18th 1860 by Kentucky United States Senator John J Crittenden as a way to resolve the growing secession crisis.

The Crittenden Compromise was introduced to the United States Congress by Kentucky Senator John J Crittenden on December 18th 1860.  It was supposed to address the grievances of the slave states and resolve the growing secession crisis.  The Compromise suggested six constitutional amendments and four Congressional resolutions.  It promised permanents of slavery in the slave states, and suggested extending the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific, guaranteeing slavery south of the 36° 30′ parallel.

The Compromise was praised by the Southern member of the United States Senate, but was opposed by the Republicans.  The Compromise would be tabled by both Houses of Congress on December 31st 1860.

The proposed Crittenden Compromise that would have affected the constitution read:

“Slavery would be prohibited in any territory of the United States "now held, or hereafter acquired," north of latitude 36 degrees, 30 minutes line. In territories south of this line, slavery of the African race was "hereby recognized" and could not be interfered with by Congress. Furthermore, property in African slaves was to be "protected by all the departments of the territorial government during its continuance." States would be admitted to the Union from any territory with or without slavery as their constitutions provided.
Congress was forbidden to abolish slavery in places under its jurisdiction within a slave state such as a military post.

Congress could not abolish slavery in the District of Columbia so long as it existed in the adjoining states of Virginia and Maryland and without the consent of the District's inhabitants. Compensation would be given to owners who refused consent to abolition.

Congress could not prohibit or interfere with the interstate slave trade.

Congress would provide full compensation to owners of rescued fugitive slaves. Congress was empowered to sue the county in which obstruction to the fugitive slave laws took place to recover payment; the county, in turn, could sue "the wrong doers or rescuers" who prevented the return of the fugitive.

No future amendment of the Constitution could change these amendments or authorize or empower Congress to interfere with slavery within any slave state.

Congressional resolutions:

That fugitive slave laws were constitutional and should be faithfully observed and executed.
That all state laws which impeded the operation of fugitive slave laws, the so-called "Personal liberty laws," were unconstitutional and should be repealed.

That the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 should be amended (and rendered less objectionable to the North) by equalizing the fee schedule for returning or releasing alleged fugitives and limiting the powers of marshals to summon citizens to aid in their capture.

That laws for the suppression of the African slave trade should be effectively and thoroughly executed.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Voted Unanimously

The only South Carolina convention to vote unanimously for secession was held December 17th 1860 at the First Baptist Church of Columbia, South Carolina.

The First Baptist Church of Columbia, South Carolina was organized in 1809, with a building on Sumter Street.  The current church was built in 1856 with funding from the former president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; James P Boyce.

In 1860, following the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, the Church became the site of the first South Carolina state convention to discuss secession.  The meeting was called to order by chairman D F Jamison with delegates who had been selected a month early.  They left with a unanimous vote of 159 to 0 in favor of South Carolina seceding from the Union on December 17th 1860.

The convention at the Church in Columbia lasted only one day do to an outbreak of smallpox.  The South Carolina Order of Secession wasn’t signed until delegates reconvened in Charleston, South Carolina on December 20th 1860.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Leading His Brigade When Killed

Union Colonel Sylvester Gardner Hill was killed in action December 15th 1864 during the Battle of Nashville.

Sylvester Gardner Hill was born June 10th 1820 in North Kingstown, Washington, Rhode Island.  He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in the 1840’s working in the lumber business.  When gold was found in California, Hill caught the fever and traveled there, but finding no profit hunting for gold, he moved back east to Muscatine, Iowa.

When the Civil War started, Hill helped to raise the 35th Iowa Infantry.  He was appointed Colonel of the regiment on September 18th 1862.  They started out doing garrison duty in Illinois and Kentucky before joining the Union Army of the Tennessee at Vicksburg.  As the Union forces put Vicksburg under siege, Hill was placed in command of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Division in the XVI Corps.  Hill was wounded at the Battles of Pleasant Hill and Yellow Bayou, but was back in command at the Battle of Tupelo.

At the Battle of Nashville on December 15th 1864, Hill was leading his Brigade against Confederates holding Montgomery Hill.  He was shot in the head and died instantly.  His body was taken home to Muscatin, Iowa where he is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Lost Forty Percent

Colonel Curran Pope
The 15th Kentucky Infantry was mustered into Union service December 14th 1861 under the command of Colonel Curran Pope.

The 15th Kentucky Infantry was organized in New Haven, Kentucky for a three year enlistment. Most of the men came from the city of Louisville, Kentucky and the surrounding area.   They mustered into Union service December 14th 1861 and were attached to the 16th Brigade of the Union Army of the Ohio.  The Colonel of the 15th was Curran Pope a West Pointer

The men started their duty at Bacon Creek, Kentucky, before moving with the army to Bowling Green, Kentucky, Nashville, and Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They saw their first fighting at the Battle of Perryville on October 8th 1862, where their Colonel was killed, and the regiment lost about 40% of its strength.  The 15th would also see action at the Battles of Chickamauga, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, Jonesboro, and other western theater battles.

The 15th mustered out of Union service January 14th 1865 at Louisville, Kentucky.  The regiment had 10 officers and 243 enlisted men die of wounds or disease during their service.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Advanced Even After His Loss

Union Brigadier General Conrad Feger Jackson was killed in action December 13th 1862 during the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Conrad Feger Jackson was born in Alsace Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, September 11th 1813 the son of Isaac Jackson a part of a family of Quakers.  His father died when he was young and he was raised by an uncle; Joseph Jackson, in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Jackson started working in warehouse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and then moved onto working as a conductor for the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad.  During the Mexican American War, Jackson carried dispatches for General Winfield Scott.  He would settle after the war in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before moving in the late 1850’s to become the manager of an oil company in the Kanawha Valley area of Virginia.

When the Civil War started Jackson went back to Pittsburgh where he organized the 9th Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry.  He received an appointment from Pennsylvania Governor Andrew G Curtin as the Colonel of the 9th, leading them with distinction during the Peninsula Campaign.  He was promoted July 17th 1862 to Brigadier General and placed in command of the 3rd Brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserves.  They would see action at Second Bull Run, South Mountain and Antietam.

As the Union Army moved against the Confederates at Fredericksburg, Jackson led his Brigade against the right wing of the Confederates.  His Division commander Union General George G Meade wrote of their movement, “The Third brigade had not advanced over one hundred yards when the battery on the height on its left was re-manned, and poured a destructive fire into its ranks. Perceiving this, I dispatched my Aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Dehon, with orders for General Jackson to move by the right flank till he could clear the open ground in front of the battery, and then, ascending the height through the woods, sweep round to the left and take the battery. Unfortunately Lieutenant Dehon fell just as he reached General Jackson, and a short time after, the latter officer was killed. The regiments did, however, partially execute the movement by obliquing to the right, and advanced across the railroad, a portion ascending the heights in their front. The loss of their commander, and the severity of the fire, from both artillery and infantry, to which they were subjected, compelled them to withdraw."

Jackson was killed December 13th 1862.  His body was recovered from the field and taken back to Pittsburgh.  He is buried in the Allegheny Cemetery there.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The First Representative

Joseph Hayne Rainey the first African American to serve in the United States House of Representative was seated December 12th 1870.

Joseph Hayne Rainey was born June 21st 1832 in Georgetown, South Carolina a slave.  He was the son of Edward L and Gracia Rainey.  Rainey’s father was a slave, but was allowed by his master to earn money working as a barber, and he bought the families freedom in 1840.  Rainey followed his father and became a barber and was working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1859 where he married.

When the Civil War started Rainey was living in Charleston, South Carolina, and working at the Mills House Hotel.  He was forced into service with the Confederacy, working on Charleston’s fortifications, and then latter as a cook on blockade runners.  In 1862 he managed to get his family and himself to St George, Bermuda, were they lived out the war working again as a barber.

When the Civil War ended Rainey returned to Charleston, South Carolina, where he joined the Republican Party and became active in local politics.  He was elected in 1870 to the South Carolina State Senate, and then was appointed to fill the a seat in the United States Congress, left vacant by Benjamin F Whittenmore, who was censured for corruption.  Rainey was seated in Congress on December 12th 1870, and would be re-elected to Congress four times, serving until March 3rd 1879.  In May 1874 he became the first African American to serve as Speaker Pro Tempore.

As violence increased in the south Rainey bought a summer home in Windsor, Connecticut and moved his family there in 1874.  Following his term in Congress he worked as an agent for the United States Treasury Department in South Carolina, banking in Washington, DC and was an investor in the Columbia and Greenville Railroad.  Rainey died in Georgetown, South Carolina August 2nd 1887, and is buried in the Baptist Cemetery there.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Youngest Medal Of Honor Recipient

William Johnston enlisted in the 3rd Vermont Infantry December 11th 1861 at the age of 11 as a drummer boy; he would become the youngest person ever to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

William Johnston, who was known as Willie, was born July 12th 1850 in Morristown, St Lawrence, New York, the son of William Johnston.  After the death of his mother, the family moved to Derby, Orleans, Vermont.

When the Civil War started Johnston’s father enlisted to fight for the Union, and Johnston went with his father.  He was enlisted on December 11th 1861 at St Johnsbury, Vermont.  Johnston was five feet tall and 11 years old.  When the 3rd Vermont infantry was mustered into Union service, Johnston’s father was a private in Company B and Johnston left Vermont as a drummer boy in Company D.  The first time Johnston saw action was at the Battle of Lee’s Mill on April 16th 1862.

It was during the next campaign, the Seven Days Battles that Johnston would be cited for bravery, and would be subsequently award the Medal of Honor.  During the Union retreat to Harrison’s Landing, when other men threw away their equipment in order to travel faster with less weight, Johnston brought his drum safely back with him to Harrison’s Landing.  It was there that Johnston was asked to drum the division on parade, he being the only drummer boy to bring his instrument off the field.

Johnston was presented with the Medal of Honor on September 16th 1863 by Union Secretary of War Edwin M Stanton.   Johnston was and is the youngest person ever to be awarded the Medal of Honor.  He would continue to serve throughout the war, mustering out of service on December 30th 1864.

After the war Johnston attended Norwich University, but did not graduate.  He was living in Chelsea, Massachusetts around 1868.  It was reported that he was working as a mariner.  After this report, there doesn’t seem to any more information about him.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Had Been Raised In The East

The “California Hundred”, which would become a part of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, was organized December 10th 1862 in San Francisco, California.

During the summer of 1862 a number of men living in California, all but one of whom had been raised back East decided to enlist in the Union army, but they wanted to serve the cause in the Eastern Theater of the war.  The men reached out to Massachusetts Governor John Andrew, with offer of 100 men to serve in that state’s cavalry.  Andrew agreed to accept the men as long as they paid their own way to Boston, Massachusetts and equipped themselves.

The “California Hundred”; as they were called, were organized in San Francisco, California on December 10th 1862.  The shipped out the next day and arrived at Camp Meigs in Readville, Massachusetts January 4th 1863.  The Hundred became Company “A” of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry.  The men were moved in February to Fort Monroe in Baltimore, Maryland, and then sent out on duty around Virginia.  Under the command of Union Captain James Sewall Reed, the men from California were engaged a number of time against Confederate General John S Mosby’s cavalry in the Loudoun Valley.  They were serving with the Army of the Shenandoah under Union General Philip H Sheridan during the Valley Campaign of 1864.  In the spring of 1865 the Hundred were part of the pursuit of Confederate General Robert E Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending at Appomattox.

The California men took part in the Grand Review on May 23rd 1865 in Washington, DC, before returning to their homes.  The company lost 90 men, killed, and another 141 who from disease.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Native Against Native

The Battle of Chusto-Talasah was fought in Indian Territory [near todays Tulsa County, Oklahoma] on December 9th 1861.

The Battle of Chusto-Talasah was a part of series of battles fought between the Union leaning Creek and Seminole Indians against the Confederate leaning Cherokee and Choctaw Indians.  Creek chief Opothleyahola leading his Union force was defeated at Round Mountain and retreated with his band to the northeast.  They were located at Chusto-Talasah [also called the Horseshoe Bend of Bird Creek] on December 9th 1861 when they were attacked in the afternoon by about 1,300 Confederates led by Colonel Douglas H Cooper.

Opothleyahola had his troops placed in a strong line in heavy timber.  They held their line for four hours as Cooper attacked and tried to outflank the Union soldiers.  Finally just before dark Cooper’s men drove Opothleyahola force across the Bird Creek.  Cooper was short on ammo and did not pursue the Union force.

Opothleyahola moved his band off, having lost about 400 men.  Cooper counted only 52 casualties in the fight.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Amnesty and Reconstruction

President Abraham Lincoln submitted his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction on December 8th 1863.

As the Civil War’s third year was coming to an end, President Abraham Lincoln began making plans for a postwar reconstruction of the United States.  Large parts of the south formally held by the Confederacy had been captured by the Union army and some of those States were beginning to rebuild their governments.  Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty covered three main areas for reconstruction for the southern states.  First it gave a pardon to all but the highest Confederate government officials and military men with ranks under Colonel, with a restoration of all properties; not including slaves.  Next it said that any state could set up a new government when 10% of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States.  And lastly, the states to be readmitted, needed to set a plan to deal with freed slaves that would not impede their freedom.

The Proclamation of Amnesty read, “WHEREAS, in and by the Constitution of the United States, it is provided that the President “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment;” and

Whereas, a rebellion now exists whereby the loyal state governments of several states have for a long time been subverted, and many persons have committed, and are now guilty of, treason against the United States; and

Whereas, with reference to said rebellion and treason, laws have been enacted by congress, declaring forfeitures and confiscation of property and liberation of slaves, all upon terms and conditions therein stated, and also declaring that the President was thereby authorized at any time thereafter, by proclamation, to extend to persons who may have participated in the existing rebellion, in any state or part thereof, pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions and at such times and on such conditions as he may deem expedient for the public welfare; and

Whereas, the congressional declaration for limited and conditional pardon accords with well-established judicial exposition of the pardoning power; and

Whereas, with reference to said rebellion, the President of the United States has issued several proclamations, with provisions in regard to the liberation of slaves; and

Whereas, it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States, and to re-inaugurate loyal state governments within and for their respective states: Therefore–

I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have, directly or by implication, participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases where rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate; and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:–

“I,                  , do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by congress, or by decision of the supreme court; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the supreme court. So help me God.”

The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions are all who are, or shall have been, civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall have been, military or naval officers of said so-called Confederate government above the rank of colonel in the army or of lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States and afterwards aided the rebellion; and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons, or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen, or in any other capacity.
And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons, not less than one tenth in number of the votes cast in such state at the presidential election of the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, each having taken the oath aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the state existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall reestablish a state government which shall be republican, and in nowise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true government of the state, and the state shall receive thereunder the benefits of the constitutional provision which declares that “the United States shall guaranty to every state in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened,) against domestic violence.”

And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that any provision which may be adopted by such state government in relation to the freed people of such state, which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent as a temporary arrangement with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be objected to by the National Executive.

And it is suggested as not improper that, in constructing a loyal state government in any state, the name of the state, the boundary, the subdivisions, the constitution, and the general code of laws, as before the rebellion, be maintained, subject only to the modifications made necessary by the conditions hereinbefore stated, and such others, if any, not contravening said conditions, and which may be deemed expedient by those framing the new state government.

To avoid misunderstanding, it may be proper to say that this proclamation, so far as it relates to state governments, has no reference to states wherein loyal state governments have all the while been maintained. And, for the same reason, it may be proper to further say, that whether members sent to congress from any state shall be admitted to seats constitutionally rests exclusively with the respective houses, and not to any extent with the Executive. And still further, that this proclamation is intended to present the people of the states wherein the national authority has been suspended, and loyal state governments have been subverted, a mode in and by which the national authority and loyal state governments may be reestablished within said states, or in any of them; and while the mode presented is the best the Executive can suggest, with his present impressions, it must not be understood that no other possible mode would be acceptable.

Given under my hand at the city of Washington the eighth day of December, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth.”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

They Served Until The End

The 1st Arkansas Field Battery; also known as the John D Adams Artillery, was mustered into Confederate service December 1st 1861.

The 1st Arkansas Field Battery was organized as the John D Adams Artillery, and mustered in the state militia in April 1861.  The unit was named in honor of Arkansas vet John D Adams, who had served in the Arkansas Mounted Gunmen during the Mexican American War, and was wounded at the Battle of Buena Vista.  The Battery became a part of the Confederate army on December 1st 1861 under the command of officers Captains James J Gaines and Francis McAnally.

They were assigned to Herbert’s brigade, a part of Confederate General Benjamin McCulloch’s Division.  The 1st Arkansas was armed with four cannon in the fight on March 7th and 8th 1862 during the Battle of Pea Ridge.  Following the retreat the Battery moved with the rest of the army to Corinth, Mississippi.  They were reorganized on May 16th 1862, becoming part of the Army of the West.  The battery would see action at the Battle of Corinth, and Hatchie Bridge in October 1862.

The Battery was assigned to service at Vicksburg during the siege.  It surrendered with the rest of the garrison on July 4th 1863.  At the time of the surrender 2 of 1st Arkansas’ guns were on detached service under the command of First Lieutenant Frank A Moore and escaped capture.  This section was attached to the 2nd Missouri Battery for the rest of the war.  The remainder of the Battery was exchanged in November 1863 and reorganized with four 6 pounder cannon and assigned to the 5th Artillery Battalion, commanded by Confederate Major William Durbin Blocher.

The men of the Battery were still serving when orders were read from Confederate General Kirby Smith on April 23rd 1865 announcing Lee’s surrender.  When the Confederate Trans Mississippi Army surrendered in May 1865, the unit was simply disbanded and the men went home.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The fate Of A Soldier

Confederate Brigadier General John Adams was one of six Confederate officers killed November 30th 1864 during the Battle of Franklin.

John Adams was born July 1st 1825 in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of Irish immigrants.  He received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, and graduated in 1846 ranked 25th in the class.  Adams’ first posting was under Captain Philip Kearny in the United States 1st Dragoons.  He served in the Mexican American War, and was brevetted for action during the Battle of Santa Cruz de Rosales.  After which he served mostly in the western frontier, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1853 when he served as the aide-de-camp for the Governor of Minnesota.

When Tennessee seceded in 1861 Adams resigned his commission and joined the Confederacy.   He was commissioned Colonel in 1862 and in December of that year became Brigadier General taking command of the late Confederate Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman’s Mississippi brigade.  Adams’ service was entirely preformed in the Western Theater of the war.

When Confederate John Bell Hood broke off from Union General William T Sherman and the Atlanta Campaign, Adams’ brigade led the advance into Tennessee.  During the Battle of Franklin on November 30th 1864 Adams was killed while at the head of his men.  His death was described in June 1897 by an Indiana Colonel, who witnessed the action, “General Adams rode up to our works and, cheering his men, made an attempt to leap his horse over them. The horse fell upon the top of the embankment and the general was caught under him, pierced with [nine] bullets. As soon as the charge was repulsed, our men sprang over the works and lifted the horse, while others dragged the general from under him. He was perfectly conscious and knew his fate. He asked for water, as all dying men do in battle as the life-blood drips from the body. One of my men gave him a canteen of water, while another brought an armful of cotton from an old gin near by and made him a pillow. The general gallantly thanked them, and in answer to our expressions of sorrow at his sad fate, he said, 'It is the fate of a soldier to die for his country,' and expired.”

If you are interested in reading more, check out BRIGADIER GENERAL JOHN ADAMS, CSA

Friday, November 29, 2013

Poor Planning

The Battle of Fort Sanders a part of the Knoxville Campaign was fought November 29th 1863, hastening the end of the Siege of Knoxville.

When a Union force occupied Knoxville, Tennessee, engineer Captain Orlando M Poe built several earthwork fortifications around the city, including Fort Sanders to the west of Knoxville.  The Fort was 70 feet higher than the surrounding plateau, and included a ditch 12 feet wide and 4 to 10 feet deep.  The fort was held by 440 men of the 79th New York Infantry with 12 cannon.

Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet was ordered to the area of Knoxville to prevent Union Major General Ambrose E Burnside from moving his troops to support Union troops at Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Longstreet decided that Fort Sanders was the best place to attempt a break in the Union line.

On November 29th 1863 the assault began, which quickly went wrong due to poor planning and unknown obstacles the Confederate soldier would run into.  In the very early morning hours Longstreet’s men moved to within 130 yards of the Fort, and then waited for dawn in a freezing rain.  The men first encountered telegraph wire which had been strung about knee high, then reaching the ditch they found the ground to steep, frozen and slippery to get up.  The Union soldiers defending the Fort shot into the massed Confederates below them with deadly fire.  As the Confederates attempt to reach the top, they climbed up each other.  For a short time the flags of the 13th Mississippi, 16th Georgia, and 17th Mississippi Infantry were planted at the top of the ditch, but color bearers were quickly shot down.

Twenty minutes into the attack Longstreet had it called off.  Union soldiers captured over 200 Confederates, stuck in the ditch.  The casualties were quite lopsided, with the Confederates loosing 813 to the Union’s 13 looses.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Caught Up With Them

Gen Judson Kilpatrick
The Battle of Buck Head Creek was fought November 28th 1864, a part of the March to the Sea.

Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler caught up with two Union regiments on November 26th 1864, and attacked their camp.  This kept Union Brigadier General H Judson Kilpatrick from destroying a railroad trestle over the Briar Creek.  Kilpatrick then found out the Union prisoners being held at Camp Lawton that he was supposed to release, had been moved, and so he began a move of troops to meet up with Union Major General William T Sherman.

Kilpatrick’s cavalry made camp on November 27th 1864 near Buck Head Creek.  Early the next morning November 28th 1864 Wheeler came up on the camp, almost captured Kilpatrick, driving the Union cavalry across Buck Head Creek.  The 5th Ohio Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Thomas T Heath fought a rearguard action with the support of two pieces of artillery.  They raked Wheeler’s men with canister, and then burned the bridge they had crossed on.  Wheeler’s cavalry crossed the river, pursuing the Union troopers to Reynolds’ Plantation, where they found the Union soldiers behind barricades.  Wheeler’s men retired from the field, and Kilpatrick continued the join up with Sherman.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

If I Had A Thousand Lives

Sam Davis known as the “Boy Hero of the Confederacy” was executed on November 27th 1863.

Sam Davis was born October 6th 1842 in Rutherford County, Tennessee, the son of Charles Lewis and Jane (Simmons) Davis.  He attended local schools, before going to the West Military Institute in Nashville, Tennessee in 1860-61, where his headmaster was the future Confederate General Bushrod Johnson.

At the beginning of the Civil War Davis enlisted as a private in the Confederate 1st Tennessee Infantry.  He would see his first action at Cheat Mountain in the Shenandoah Valley.  Davis was wound at the Battle of Shiloh and again at the Battle of Perryville.  The Perryville wound was serious, and after recovering he became a courier for Coleman’s Scouts.

It was while doing service with Coleman’s Scouts that Davis was captured on November 20th 1863 near Minor Hill, Tennessee.  He was wearing a partial Confederate uniform, had a pass from Confederate General Braxton Bragg and was in possession of Union papers detailing troop movements and private papers belong to Union General Grenville M Dodge.  Davis was arrested as a spy, and sentenced by a military court to be executed by hanging.  He was given an out, if he would name his Union contact, to which Davis was supposed to have said, "If I had a thousand lives to live, I would give them all rather than betray a friend or the confidence of my informer.”  Just before the execution Davis wrote a letter home to his family, "Dear mother. O how painful it is to write you! I have got to die to-morrow --- to be hanged by the Federals. Mother, do not grieve for me. I must bid you good-bye forevermore. Mother, I do not fear to die. Give my love to all.  Father, you can send after my remains if you want to do so. They will be at Pulaski, Tenn. I will leave some things with the hotel keeper for you."  He was hung November 27th 1863 at Pulaski, Tennessee.

Monday, November 25, 2013

McClellan's Headquarters Guard

The Sturges’ Rifles a company of Illinois militia were mustered out of Union service November 25th 1862.

The Sturges’ Rifles were a company of Illinois sharpshooters who mustered into the Union army May 6th 1861.  The company was organized in Chicago, Illinois.  A Solomon Sturgis saw to it that the men were equipped and armed with Sharps rifles.  They served from June 1861 with Union Major General George B McClellan as his headquarters guard and they served with him until he lost his command.  McClellan had been a member of the company before the start of the Civil War.  The men saw action in the Battle of Rich Mountain, the Peninsula Campaign, and Antietam.  The company was mustered out of service November 25th 1862, having lost just one man.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

You Have Got Too Much

The Battle of Orchard Knob, a rocky hill to the east of Chattanooga was fought November 23rd 1863.

Union General George H Thomas formed his troops up in the valley between Chattanooga, Tennessee and rocky hill about 100 feet high, known as Orchard Knob on the afternoon of November 23rd 1863.  Confederates posted on top of Orchard Knob watched the Union troops from behind rifle pits, as they move as though on parade in front of their position.

Somewhere around 1:30 pm the 14,000 Union soldiers began to march on the Confederate position at the double quick.  There were only 634 Confederates holding the line on Orchard Knob.  The Confederate soldiers had time only to fire a single volley before Thomas’ troops closed in on the Knob, pushing the Confederates back to the base of Missionary Ridge.  By 3 pm Union General Thomas J Wood was sending the message to Thomas, that "I have taken the first line of the enemy's entrenchments."  Thomas sent back the order, “Hold on; don't come back; you have got too much; entrench your position."

Union General Ulysses S Grant would use Orchard Knob on November 25th 1863 as his forward observation point, while watching the Union assault on Missionary Ridge.

Friday, November 22, 2013


The 125th New York; a regiment raised in Rensselaer County, New York, was officially exchanged on November 22nd 1862 from Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois.

The 125th New York Infantry was raised in Rensselaer County, New York and was mustered into Union service at the end of August 1862 in Troy, New York with Colonel George L Willard as their commander for a term of three years.  The men left Troy by train August 30th 1862 for Martinsburg, Virginia.  Just a few days later they were involved in the Battle of Harper’s Ferry.  Several of the men of the regiment were killed and wounded.  The 125th were also among the 11,500 men garrisoned at Harper’s Ferry who surrendered to the Confederates on September 15th 1862.

The 125th along with the other captured troops were sent under parole to Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois to await exchange.  They would be referred to as the “Harpers Ferry Cowards”   The exchange came for the 125th on November 22nd 1862, and the men were sent back to Virginia, where they took up position in the defense of Washington, DC.  They were camped at Centerville on June 24th 1863, when they became part of the II Corps, Union General Alexander Hay’s Division.  Their commander Colonel George L Willard became the brigade commander.  The men marched off to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  During the Battle of Gettysburg the 125th lost 139 men killed and wounded, including Colonel Willard.

The 125th would go on the fight at Bristoe Station, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and many more.  They would be engaged every day during the siege of Petersburg from July 16th 1864 through April 1st 1865.  The 125th or what was left of it was at Appomattox when Confederate General Robert E Lee surrendered.

Following the Grand Review of the troops in Washington, DC, the men of the 125th proceeded to Troy, New York, where they were mustered out of service June 15th 1865.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Devotion And Unswerving Loyalty

The Union Colored Regiments from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania got their “Grand Review” November 14th 1865 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Most Union troops paraded through Washington, DC on May 23rd and 24th 1865 in front of dignitaries and citizen in a “Grand Review of the Armies”.  There were however about 180,000 soldiers missing, the United States Colored Troops.

The black soldiers who had served in regiments formed in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania gathered for a “Grand Review” of their own in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania November 14th 1865.  A prominent resident and recruiter of Colored Troops, Thomas Morris Chester was the grand marshal for the parade.  The troops marched through the main streets of Harrisburg; the capital of Pennsylvania, to the home of Senator Simon Cameron.  Cameron, who was an abolitionist and advocate for raising black soldiers, delivered the speech in their honor.  He said, “I cannot let this opportunity pass without thanking the African soldiers for the compliment they have paid me, but more than all to thank them for the great service which they have been to their country in the terrible rebellion. Like all other men, you have your destinies in your own hands, and if you continue to conduct yourselves hereafter as you have in the struggle, you will have all the rights you ask for, all the rights that belong to human beings.”  There were letters read from those who couldn’t attend, including Union General Benjamin F Butler, who wrote, I “witnessed…[African American soldiers’] bravery and good conduct on the battle-field, and, above all, their devotion and unswerving loyalty to the flag and government.”

It was reported that about 7,000 Colored soldiers attended the “Grand Review”.  It ended with a grand ball held for the soldiers.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Make a Demonstration On The Flank

Joseph Wheeler
A diversionary tactic, the Action at Maryville was fought in Tennessee in November 13th 1863.

Confederate General James Longstreet crossed the Tennessee River with his infantry.  The goal was to seize the heights on the southern bank of the Holston River overlooking Knoxville, Tennessee.  His cavalry, commanded by Confederate Major General Joseph Wheeler was sent to make a demonstration on the Union flank.  The cavalry moved to capture a Union force located at Maryville, Tennessee.

Wheeler’s trooper crossed the Tennessee River at Motley’s Ford on November 13th 1863, and with a night march got between the Union soldiers posted at Maryville and their line of retreat.  The Union 11th Kentucky Cavalry was stationed at Maryville, and were outnumbered by the Confederates.  Wheeler surprised the Union troopers when he attacked.  The Union cavalry were quickly routed and the Confederates captured 151 men.  From a nearby camp Union Brigadier General William Sanders sent in 1st Kentucky Cavalry and the 45th Ohio Mounted Infantry, but they too were outnumbered by Wheeler’s men, and retreated to Little River.

The next morning Wheeler found the river crossing undefended.  Union soldiers had pulled back toward Knoxville.  Wheeler put out skirmishers, continuing to push back the Union cavalry.  After crossing the Stock Creek, the Confederates attacked sending the Union troops into retreat, and placing another 140 prisoners in Confederate hands.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Belle Of The North

Katherine Jane Chase the daughter of the United States Secretary of the Treasury, married Rhode Island Governor William Sprague November 12th 1863 at the Chase home in Washington, DC.

Katherine Jane Chase; always called Kate, was born August 13th 1840 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the daughter of Salmon P and Eliza Ann (Smith) Chase.  She was sent to school in New York City to the Haines School, where she learned elocution, history, languages, music, and most importantly the social graces.  After being away at school for nine years Chase returned to Columbus, Ohio, a beautiful 18 year old, to serve as hostess for her widowed father, who had been newly elected Governor.  She was a beautiful, intelligent young woman who impressed her father’s many political friends.

Chase came to Washington, DC with her father, when he became President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury in 1861.  She set up their home in Washington and continued to act as his hostess.  The parties she held were much sought after invitations, and she quickly became the “Belle of the North”.  Chase made a point of visiting the Union camps surrounding Washington, and making friends of Union General.  She was also out spoken on her views of how the war should be fought.

On November 12th 1863 Chase married Rhode Island Governor William Sprague in her father’s home in Washington, DC.  It was the social event of the year.  The United States Marine Corps Band played a march composed by Thomas Mark Clark just for the occasion.  President Lincoln attended the ceremony, but his wife Mary, who didn’t like Chase, did not go.

Hers was not a happy marriage.  Both Chase and her husband apparently had affairs, and the marriage ended in divorce in 1882.  After the divorce she took back her maiden name.  Chase moved with three of her children to her late father’s estate “Edgewood” near Washington, DC.  She died there July 31st 1899 in poverty of Bright’s disease.  She is buried beside her father in the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

If you are interested in reading more, check out The Nuptials of Miss Kate Chase and Ex-Gov. Sprague

Monday, November 11, 2013

Brought Back From Canada

As the Civil War was wrapping up, and so was the Dakota War of 1862, when on November 11th 1865 Dakota Chief Shakopee was hung for his role in the uprising.

Shakopee III or in English “Little Six” was born about 1811 near the town of today’s Shakopee, Scott County, Minnesota.  He was the son Chief Shakopee II.

Shakopee was one of the leaders involved in the Dakota War of 1862.  The death of 13 women and children were placed on him.  Following the uprising in Minnesota, the United States ordered the removal of all Dakota from the State, and so Shakopee fled in early 1863 to Canada.  It was while in Canada in the winter of 1864 that he was illegally captured and brought to Fort Snelling, Minnesota.  Shakopee was brought before a military tribunal for his actions in the Dakota War, found guilty he was sentenced to death.

United States President Andrew Johnson upheld the sentence in early November 1865.  On November 11th 1865 Shakopee and another Dakota; Medicine Bottle were brought to the gallows at Fort Snelling.  French Jesuit, Father Augustin Ravoux administered the last rights, and the two Dakota were hung.  The St Paul Weekly Press reported that, “the lid was placed over them, and they were taken, each coffin borne by four soldiers, to the place in the Fort assigned for the dead. They were buried at 6 o'clock p.m. in the military burying grounds."  There is some question as to this statement; it seems likely that bodies were sent to an eastern medical college.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

McNeill's Raiders

Confederate Captain and the leader of McNeill’s Rangers, John Hanson McNeill died from wounds received earlier on November 10th 1864.

John Hanson McNeill was born June 12th 1815 in Moorefield, Hardy County, Virginia [now a part of West Virginia], the son of Strother and Amy (Pugh) McNeill.  He was known in the family as Hanse.  He moved first in 1838 to Bourbon County, Kentucky, and then in 1848 to Boone County, Missouri, where he went into the cattle business, and would become a Methodist minister.

When the Civil War started McNeill commanded Company B in the 4th Missouri State Guard.  He was with them at Boonville, Carthage, Lexington and the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.  While on recruiting duty he was captured and held as a prisoner of war in St Louis, Missouri, before escaping June 15th 1862, and traveling back to Virginia.  McNeill went to Richmond, Virginia where he requested permission to form an independent command to operate in West Virginia.  Richmond gave him command of Company E in the 18th Virginia Cavalry on September 5th 1862, commonly called McNeill’s Rangers.  They led attacks and made raids on Union camps, wagon trains, and railroads.

On October 3rd 1864 while leading an early morning raid in which the McNeill Rangers attacked the Union 8th Ohio Cavalry that was guarding the bridge at Meems Bottom near the town of Jackson, Virginia, McNeill was wounded.  He was taken first to the home of Reverend Addison Weller, and then moved to Hill’s Hotel in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  It was there over a month later that McNeill died on November 10th 1864.  He was first buried in Harrisonburg, but a few months later his body was moved to the Olivet Cemetery in Moorefield, West Virginia.

If you’re interested in reading more, check out The McNeill Rangers: A Study in Confederate Guerrilla Warfare

Saturday, November 9, 2013

For The Purpose Of Military Operations

Union General William T Sherman issued his Special Field Orders Number 120 on November 9th 1864, in preparation for the March to the Sea.

Union Major General William T Sherman issued Special Field Orders Number 120 just before leaving the Atlanta, Georgia area on November 9th 1864.  It contained the orders for conduct while marching to Savannah, Georgia and the coast.  The Order explained Sherman’s plan to destroy the property of the Southern people, bringing an end to the Civil War through physical and psychological war fare.  The men were instructed to forage, taking what they needed even if that left the population starving.

“Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi, In the Field, Kingston, Georgia, November 9, 1864

I. For the purpose of military operations, this army is divided into two wings viz.: The right wing, Major-General O. O. Howard commanding, composed of the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps; the left wing, Major-General H. W. Slocum commanding, composed of the Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps.

II. The habitual order of march will be, wherever practicable, by four roads, as nearly parallel as possible, and converging at points hereafter to be indicated in orders. The cavalry, Brigadier - General Kilpatrick commanding, will receive special orders from the commander-in-chief.

III. There will be no general train of supplies, but each corps will have its ammunition-train and provision-train, distributed habitually as follows: Behind each regiment should follow one wagon and one ambulance; behind each brigade should follow a due proportion of ammunition - wagons, provision-wagons, and ambulances. In case of danger, each corps commander should change this order of march, by having his advance and rear brigades unencumbered by wheels. The separate columns will start habitually at 7 a.m., and make about fifteen miles per day, unless otherwise fixed in orders.

IV. The army will forage liberally on the country during the march. To this end, each brigade commander will organize a good and sufficient foraging party, under the command of one or more discreet officers, who will gather, near the route traveled, corn or forage of any kind, meat of any kind, vegetables, corn-meal, or whatever is needed by the command, aiming at all times to keep in the wagons at least ten day's provisions for the command and three days' forage. Soldiers must not enter the dwellings of the inhabitants, or commit any trespass, but during a halt or a camp they may be permitted to gather turnips, potatoes, and other vegetables, and to drive in stock of their camp. To regular foraging parties must be instructed the gathering of provisions and forage at any distance from the road traveled.

V. To army corps commanders alone is intrusted the power to destroy mills, houses, cotton-gins, &c., and for them this general principle is laid down: In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested no destruction of such property should be permitted; but should guerrillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the inhabitants burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest local hostility, then army commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless according to the measure of such hostility.

VI. As for horses, mules, wagons, &c., belonging to the inhabitants, the cavalry and artillery may appropriate freely and without limit, discriminating, however, between the rich, who are usually hostile, and the poor or industrious, usually neutral or friendly. Foraging parties may also take mules or horses to replace the jaded animals of their trains, or to serve as pack-mules for the regiments or bridges. In all foraging, of whatever kind, the parties engaged will refrain from abusive or threatening language, and may, where the officer in command thinks proper, give written certificates of the facts, but no receipts, and they will endeavor to leave with each family a reasonable portion for their maintenance.

VII. Negroes who are able-bodied and can be of service to the several columns may be taken along, but each army commander will bear in mind that the question of supplies is a very important one and that his first duty is to see to them who bear arms.

— William T. Sherman, Military Division of the Mississippi Special Field Order 120, November 9, 1864”

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Win Of An Incumbent

United States President Abraham Lincoln was voted into a second term on November 8th 1864, by around 400,000 votes.

The United State presidential election was held Tuesday November 8th 1864, despite the ongoing Civil War.  Sitting President Abraham Lincoln was the Republican or “National Union Party” candidate, running against Democratic “Peace Candidate” Union General George B McClellan.  When the votes were counted, Lincoln won the popular vote by more than 400,000 votes.  Many of these coming from soldiers in the field, and on the strength of the Union win in the Battle of Atlanta on September 6th 1864.  It was the first time that soldiers in the field were allowed to cast ballots, and around 70% went for Lincoln.  From the stand point of the Electoral College Lincoln took 212 of the 233 available votes.

Lincoln was the first incumbent president to win a reelection since Andrew Jackson was reelected to a second term in 1832.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

They Rushed The Bridge

Albion P Howe
Along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad on November 7th 1863 the Second Battle of Rappahannock Station was fought.
Confederate General Robert E Lee withdrew his forces across the Rappahannock River in late October 1863.  A pontoon bridge was left at the town of Rappahannock Station, the only connection to the north shore.  The crossing was protected by two redoubts and Confederate artillery posted on the south side of the river.

Union commander Major General George G Meade approaching the river divided his force.  Major General William H French was to cross the river downstream at Kelly’s Ford, while Major General John Sedgwick attacked the Confederates at Rappahannock Station.  They were to rejoin and move on Brandy Station.

On November 7th 1863 about noon French’s force crossed the river at Kelly’s Ford, pushing the Confederates at the crossing back.  Shortly after noon Sedgwick advanced on Rappahannock Station.  Lee moved his troops to meet the threat on the two fronts.  Union Major General Albion P Howe’s division, a part of Sedgwick’s VI Corps drove in Confederate skirmishers about 3 pm and began to pound the Confederate batteries with his own artillery fire.  Posted at the bridge that day was Confederate Brigadier General Harry T Hay’s brigade with four guns of Captain Charles A Green’s Louisiana Guard Artillery, about 2,000 troops.  Sedgwick continued the shelling through the late afternoon, leading Lee believe the move against Rappahannock Station was feint to cover French’s crossing.  Sedgwick waited until almost dark, and then his infantry rushed the Confederate works.  Union Colonel Peter Ellmaker’s advanced on the double quick, surging over the Confederate works and fighting hand to hand with Hay’s men.  On the Union right Colonel Emory Upton’s brigade seized the bridge.

The Confederates gave up quickly.  Hundreds of Confederate soldiers surrendered, while others excepted by swimming the icy cold river.  There were 1,670 Confederate killed, wounded or captured in the short fight.  Union casualties were only 419.