Friday, March 29, 2013

Step Towards Appomattox

The first move of the spring of 1865 was the Battle of Lewis’s Farm was fought March 29th 1865 in Dinwiddie County, Virginia and was the opening of the Appomattox Campaign.

Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S Grant opened his spring campaign on March 29th 1865 by sending Major General Philip Sheridan’s cavalry followed by the Union V Corps to turn the right flank of Confederate General Robert E Lee’s Petersburg defenses.  Union Major General Gouverneur K Warren, who commanded the V Corps, moved his troops up the Quaker Road, at the intersection of the Boydton Plank Road, they ran into Confederate Major General Bushrod Johnson’s brigade.

Union Brigadier General Joshua L Chamberlain led the main advance.  The Confederates were pushed back into entrenchments on the White Oak Road.  Confederate Lieutenant General Richard H Anderson ordered two brigades forward in an attempt the intercept the Union troops.  Chamberlain, who was wounded, rallied his men around an artillery battery, counterattacked and took the Confederate entrenchments.  There were reported casualties of 370 Confederate and 380 Union.

The Battle of Lewis’s Farm is also sometimes called Gravelly Road, Military Road of Quaker Road.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Riot In Illinois

A dispute between Republicans and Copperheads in Charleston, Illinois March 28th 1864 kicked off the Charleston Riot.

Known as the Charleston Riot, it left nine dead and twelve wounded in Charleston, Illinois on March 28th 1864.  The riot pitted Union soldiers and local Republicans against local Copperheads.  The press felt that a Peace Democrat; another term for Copperheads, Nelson Wells was the instigator, but most think it was spontaneous and helped along by some heavy drinking.  The Riot didn’t last long but it drove the Copperheads out of town.  Two of the dead, Nelson Wells and John Cooper were part of the Peace democrats.

Union troops were moved by train from Mattoon, Illinois to calm Charleston.  There were 15 prisoners held for trail first in Springfield, Illinois, and then moved to Fort Delaware.  President Abraham Lincoln ordered their release November 4th 1864.  There were 12 members of the Copperheads who were indicted for murder, but were not captured.

If you would like to read more, check out Charleston Riot

Monday, March 25, 2013

Facing A Heavy Column

The Battle of Brentwood was fought March 25th 1863 in Williamson County, Tennessee.

Brentwood was a station on the Nashville & Decatur Railroad and was held on the morning of March 25th 1863 by Union Lieutenant Colonel Edward Bloodgood and his 400 men.  On that morning a heavy column under the command of Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest was closing in on the town.  Forest had sent his 2nd Brigade under the command of Colonel JW Starnes, the day before to take up railroad track, and cut the telegraph lines.

Bloodgood learned of Forrest’s movements about 7am on March 25th when a messenger informed him that Forrest was about attack.  He tried to send a message to Union superiors only to find the telegraph not working.  Forrest demanded that Bloodgood surrender, but he refused.  Forrest then had his artillery open on the Union position, and he very quickly surrounded Bloodgood and his men.  Bloodgood was forced to surrender, causing a loss of the railroad to the Union.  Bloodgood had about 305 casualties, while Forrest only reported the lost 6 men.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bleaching In Upturned Furrows

The State of Maryland bought the land that would become the Antietam National Battlefield March 23rd 1865.

Maryland State Senator Lewis P Firey introduced a plan in 1864 to the Maryland Senate to establish a cemetery for the men who died during the 1862 Maryland Campaign.  A committee made up of the House and Senate met, "to inquire into the propriety of purchasing, on behalf of the State, a portion of the battle-field of Antietam, not exceeding twenty acres, for the purposes of a State and National Cemetery, in which the bodies of our heroes who fell in that great struggle and are now bleaching in the upturned furrows, may be gathered for a decent burial, and their memories embalmed in some suitable memorial."   An eligible sight was selected on the battlefield and the state purchased eleven and a quarter acres on March 23rd 1865 for $ 1,161.75.

Aaron Good and Joseph Gill had spent the years since the battle locating and recording the names of the dead.  The two men used diaries, letters, marks left on grave, receipts, photos, and interviews with survivors to make identifications.  With contribution coming in from 18 Northern states, the money was raised to have the dead moved and reburied in the Antietam National Cemetery.  The original plan called for both Union and Confederate dead to be buried, but the Southern states where unable to send any money for the re-interment their soldiers.  The burials were completed by September 1867, and done mostly by discharged soldiers.

On September 17th 1867, the fifth anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, President Andrew Jackson gave the speech dedicating the Cemetery.  He said as part of that speech, "When we look on yon battlefield, I think of the brave men who fell in the fierce struggle of battle, and who sleep silent in their graves. Yes, many of them sleep in silence and peace within this beautiful enclosure after the earnest conflict has ceased."

If you are interested in reading more about the cemetery, I recommend looking at Cemetery Dedication 1867

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Arkansas' Defender

Confederate Brigadier General John Selden Roane, a previous Governor of Arkansas was appointed Brigadier General March 20th 1862.

John Selden Roane was born January 8th 1817 in Lebanon, Wilson, Tennessee.  He attended Cumberland College, before moving to Arkansas in 1837.  Once in Arkansas Roane studied for and passed the bar.  From 1840 to 42 he was a Prosecuting Attorney, and then he was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1842 to 44.  When the Mexican American War started Roane became a Lieutenant Colonel in Yell’s Arkansas Infantry, becoming a Colonel in the regiment in February 1847.  Following the war he was elected the fourth Governor of Arkansas from 1849 to 1852.

When the Civil War started Roane joined the Confederate Army, and was appointed Brigadier General March 20th 1862.  He was given the charge of defending Arkansas, and along with Confederate General Thomas C Hindman who was in command of the Trans-Mississippi District, put up a good showing in several battles including the Battle of Prairie Grove.

Roane died April 8th 1867 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and is buried in the Oakland Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas.

If you’re interested in reading more about John Selden Roane Fourth Governor (1849–1852)  is a good web site to look at.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Last Adjournment

The Congress of the Confederate States adjourned for the last time March 18th 1865.

The Congress of the Confederate States was the legislative body for the states that made up the Confederacy.  It was made up similarly to the United States Congress with two houses.  The Senate which consisted of two senators from each state, who were picked by the Legislature of the state they came from, and in the House of Representatives one who was elected by voters in their individual states.  The first elections for the Confederate Congress were held November 6th 1861.

They held four sessions in Richmond, Virginia, their last session was adjourned March 18th 1865.  One of the final acts by the Confederate Congress was the passage of a law emancipation slaves who were willing to join the military and fight for the Confederacy.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Split But Still Able To Overwhelm

A prelude to the Battle of Bentonville, the Battle of Averasboro was fought March 16th 1865 in Cumberland and Harnett Counties, in North Carolina.

Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman split his army into two columns as they moved toward Goldsboro, North Carolina.  The right was commanded by Major General Oliver Otis Howard, and the left column by Major General Henry W Slocum.  Confederate General Joseph E Johnston hoped to attack the Union troops while they were split up, and he sent Lieutenant General William J Hardee’s Corps for the job.  Slocum’s men crossed the Cape Fear River near Averasboro, North Carolina.

At dawn on the morning of March 16th 1865 troops of the XX Corps under command of Union Major General Alpheus S William were attacked by Confederate troops.  Union reinforcement came onto the field and pushed the Confederate skirmishers back.  The Confederates formed another line, and held their ground.  However in the late afternoon, as more Union troops arrived on the field, Hardee could see his men were in danger of being outflanked, and he withdrew his troops during the night.

Friday, March 15, 2013

California Confederate

Asbury Harpending
The schooner the JM Chapman was seized in the San Francisco harbor March 15th 1863, as she was about to be put to sea as a Confederate privateer.

The JM Chapman was a 90 ton schooner.  She was purchased by Asbury Harpending in 1863.  Harpending was a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle in San Francisco, California.  Harpending’s plan for the Chapman was to raid ships belonging to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company carrying gold and silver to Panama.  Then Harpending would send prizes back east to be used to support the Confederacy.

Harpending's plans were detected and on March 15th 1863 the Chapman was boarded by sailors of the USS Cyane.  The 15 man Confederate crew of the Chapman was placed under arrest by the San Francisco police.  Those men were held at Alcatraz until after the end of the Civil War.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Home Guard Victory

The Battle of Newton took place in Alabama on March 14th 1865 between some Home Guard and part of the 1st Florida Cavalry.

Union Brigadier General Alexander Asboth ordered Union Second Lieutenant Joseph Sanders, who had started the war as a Captain in the Confederate Army, to lead the 1st Florida Cavalry on a raid to raise recruits, confiscate supplies and burn the Dale County Courthouse.  The Courthouse was located over the border in Newton, Alabama, which was common in the area at the time.  Dale County had very little importance during the Civil War except as a place for Confederate deserters to gather.  As the Union Cavalry moved toward the town, they were detected by local citizens.  The town’s people notified the local Home Guard led by Confederate Captain Joseph Breare who had been with the 15th Alabama at Gettysburg.  The Guard numbering ten men, ambushed and routed the 1st on the Newton town square.

The Home Guard had no reported casualties, while Sanders’ reported three dead and five wounded.  Although the engagement at Newton pretty much went unnoticed, it gave hope to the locals.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Confederate Gun

The Fayetteville Rifle a Confederate made gun, ceased to be made March 11th 1865, when Union General William Tecumseh Sherman destroyed the arsenal.

The Fayetteville Rifle was a .58 caliber, two banded rifled musket that was made at the Confederate States Arsenal in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  The rifle’s back sights were set for 500 yard and it had a place for a bayonet.  The machinery used to make these guns was captured in April 18th 1861 at the United State Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia.  It had been used to make the US Model 1855 Rifle.  They were able to make about 300 rifles a month, with a maximum of 500 when needed.  The Fayetteville was produced from early in 1862 until the arsenal was captured and destroyed March 11th 1865 by troops under Union General William T Sherman.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

One Last Fight

The Battle of Wyse Fork [aka the Battle of Southwest Creek], a part of the Carolina Campaign ramped up again on March 10th 1865.

The city of Wilmington, North Carolina fell into Union hands in February 1865.  Union Major General John M Schofield moved in from the coast and joined his force with Major General William T Sherman at Goldsboro, North Carolina where they would move against Confederate General Joseph E Johnston’s army.

As the Union troops advanced they encountered Confederate General Braxton Bragg who was entrenched along the Southwest Creek near Kinston, North Carolina on March 7th 1865.  Bragg’s position threatened a cross road and the New Bern Goldsboro Railroad.  Bragg moved to the offensive and sent Confederate General Robert Hoke into the Union left flank.  On March 8th 1865 he crossed the creek about noon and slammed into the Union flank and rear and captured about 1,500.  After an active advance by the Confederates the two sides settled into skirmishing for the next couple of days.

Hoke again tried to turn the Union left flank on March 10th 1865.  The Union position had been strongly fortified and they repulsed Hoke’s men within about an hour.  Confederate General Daniel Harvey Hill then made a moved on the Union center, but again they were repulsed by Union artillery.  At this point remaining members of the Union XXII corps arrived from Tennessee, and finding himself facing five Union divisions, Bragg had his men withdrawn.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Coins Minted

The Confederate Coinage Bill passed the Confederate Congress March 9th 1861, authorizing the minting of up to Fifty million dollars.

As the Civil War got rolling, the cost of that war became a reality.  Most precious metals available in the Confederacy were sent to Europe to buy military equipment, but a few coins were minted.  In early March 1861 the Confederacy commissioned Robert Lovett Jr of Philadelphia, PA to design and engrave a one cent piece.  Some of the coins were minted using the then standard cupronickel, however the thought of being held for helping the enemy made Lovett stop his work, and he hid the dies for the coin.  There were some half dollar coins minted by orders of Christopher Gustavus Memminger the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury, on a hand press at the New Orleans Mint, with a die made by engraver AHM Peterson.  There were also gold dollars minted in Dahlonega, GA, as well as half eagles in Dahlonega and Charlotte, NC.  Do to the difficulty of getting metals, all the mints within the Confederacy were closed June 1st 1861.

The Confederacy solved their problem of coinage by making United States silver coins up to $10 legal, as well as English, French, Mexican and Spanish coins.

Friday, March 8, 2013

She Ignored Other Ships And Shore Batteries

On March 8th 1862 the USS Cumberland and USS Congress became the first United States ships to be put out of commission by an ironclad, the CSS Virginia.

Around 3pm on March 8th 1862 the CSS Virginia entered Hampton Roads from the Elizabeth River.  She found on the other side of Hampton Roads five Union warships, the USS Congress, Cumberland, Minnesota, Roanoke and St Lawrence.  All five of these Union ships were of conventional wooden construction.  Three of the ships, the Congress, Cumberland, and Roanoke were sailing ships at the mercy of the wind to move.

As the Virginia sailed towards the Union ships she was described as a “roof of a very big barn belching forth smoke as from a chimney on fire."  Turning west the Virginia steamed passed the USS Congress, ignoring the other ships and shore batteries firing on her.  She rammed the USS Cumberland on the starboard side.  The Cumberland began to go down, but her crew continued to fight refusing to surrender.

The Virginia tore off her iron ram as she backed away from the Cumberland to take the fight to the USS Congress.  The Confederate ship settled into an hour long battle, firing into the Congress’ hull, and causing many casualties.  The Union ship raised a white flag, but as the Confederates were taking off the Congress’ crew they were hit with gunfire from shore.  The commanding officer of the Virginia, Captain Franklin Buchanan ordered the Congress set a fire; she exploded about 2am when the fire reached her powder magazines.

The Virginia had, had the muzzles shot off two of her guns, and many of her external fitting had been knock off, but she was still battle worthy.  There had been about 24 casualties on board the Virginia, including Buchanan.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Courageously Standing By His Gun

Seaman Michael Connelly, who served in the Union Navy, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Natural Bridge.

Michael Connelly was born in Brooksville, Maine in 1843.

Connelly joined the Union Navy, and served under the name of John Mack.  He was serving as a seaman on the USS Hendrick Hudson off the coast of Florida in March 1865.  On March 5th and 6th 1865, Connelly and several others accompanied some Union troops onto land near St Marks, Florida during the Battle of Natural Bridge.  He assisted with moving and firing a naval howitzer, under heavy Confederate fire.  Three months later on June 22nd 1865 Connelly and six other sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor.

Connelly died November 10th 1881, and is buried in the Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Lynn, Massachusetts.

His Medal of Honor citation reads: “As seaman on board the U.S.S. Hendrick Hudson, St. Marks, FL, 5 and 6 March 1865, Mack served with the Army in charge of Navy howitzers during the attack on St. Marks and, throughout this fierce engagement, made remarkable efforts in assisting transport of the gun. His coolness and determination in courageously standing by his gun while under the fire of the enemy were a credit to the service to which he belonged.”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Keeping The Lighthouses

Formed by an act of the Provisional Confederate Congress on March 5th 1861, the Confederate States Lighthouse Bureau was formed to aid in construction and up keep of Lighthouses.

The Confederate States Lighthouse Bureau was created on March 5th 1861 to oversee the construction and care of all lighthouses and other aids to navigation pertaining to the Confederacy.  The Act created the position of Chief of the Lighthouse Bureau, a job only open to a commissioned Confederate Navy officer.  The Bureau divided the Confederate shores into five districts, to be handled by five lieutenants acting as district superintendents.  It authorized the Confederate President to have military engineers build and maintain lighthouses and other navigational aids.  The first Chief of the Lighthouse Bureau; who was Rear Admiral Raphael Semmes, was to report twice a year to the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury.

By July 1861 in order to prevent Union ships from blockading the southern coast line, most have the Confederate lights had been extinguished.  The Bureau had much of the equipment moved inland.  The Fresnel lens from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse were never been returned, and their where about are unknown.

Monday, March 4, 2013

From Soldier To Leader

Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S Grant became United States President Ulysses S Grant on March 4th 1869.

Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S Grant became the 18th President of the United States on March 4th 1869, the first of many Civil War veterans to hold that office.  His first inauguration was performed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P Chase on the East Portico of the White House.  President Andrew Johnson refused to attend the inaugural ceremonies it is believed because President elect Grant had refused to sit with him in his carriage on the ride to his inauguration.  Grant’s inaugural parade included eight divisions of Army, and his inaugural ball was held that night in the Treasury Building.

If you’re interested in reading   

Ulysses S. Grant's First Inaugural Address  this is a good place to start.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Filling Up The Army

The United States Congress passed the Enrollment Act which is better known as the Civil War Military Draft, it was enacted March 3rd 1863.

The Confederacy passed the first conscription act, or draft on April 16th 1862.  About a year later the Union passed their own draft law.  The Union Enrollment Act which was enacted March 3rd 1863 was controversial.  It called for every male, including immigrants who had filed for citizenship between the ages of 20 and 45 to enroll.  There were quotas set for the number of men to be raised in each congressional district.  A man could avoid the draft by providing a substitute or by paying $300.  This provision led to the saying of "rich man's war, poor man's fight."  In some cities, such as New York, the Act led to Draft Riots.

Congress amended the Act in 1864 shortening the length of time a man could be exempt from the draft by payment to one year.  There was another change made to the Act in March 1865 which imposed a loss of citizenship on any man who deserted or evaded the draft.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Last Fight For Early

Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Anderson Early’s last battle was fought March 2nd 1865 at the Battle of Waynesboro in Virginia.

Union Major General Philip H Sheridan had orders to join his cavalry from Winchester, Virginia with Major General William T Sherman’s army in the Carolinas.  They began moving south February 27th 1865.  Not wanting to leave Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early in his rear, Sheridan moved east through a cold rain and on March 2nd 1865 and found Early’s Army at Waynesboro.

Early had his artillery placed in lined and took up a defensive position on a ridge along the South River.  The Confederate troops stood off a determined Union attack, before Union General George Armstrong Custer’s division of cavalry rolled up Early’s left flank.

Early and some of his staff got away, but the rest of the army, about 1,500 of his troops surrendered.  Sheridan having removed all organized Confederate resistance in the Shenandoah Valley moved south and joined with the Army of the Potomac near Petersburg, Virginia at the White House on the Pamunkey River on March 19th 1865 in time for the Appomattox Campaign.  Early wouldn’t see another battle during the war.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Military Photographer

Captain Andrew Joseph Russell a photographer became the first non-civilian Civil War photographer March 1st 1863, when he was assigned to the United States Military Railroad Construction Corps.

Andrew Joseph Russell was born March 20th 1829 in Walpole, New Hampshire the son of Joseph and Harriet (Robinson) Russell.  The family moved when Russell was young to Nunda, New York where he was raised.  Having interest and some talent in painting, he did portraits of local dignitaries and of railroads and trains.

Russell started his Civil War service by doing the painting on a diorama used for Union recruiting.  He joined the service August 22nd 1862 in Elmira, New York, and became a member of the 141st New York Infantry.  Russell was interested in photography, and so paid Egbert Guy Fowx a civilian photographer who did photos for Matthew B Brady to teach him wet-plate photography.  Some of Russell’s first photos were seen by Union Brigadier General Herman Haupt and they impressed the General enough to have Russell assigned on March 1st 1863 to the Union Military Railroad Construction Corps as a photographer.  This made Russell the first non-civilian Civil War photographer.  He mostly took photos of transportation subjects, but is thought to be the photographer of the “Confederate Dead Behind the Stone Wall” at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Following the end of the war, Russell worked for the Union Pacific Railroad photographing the construction of the eastern side of the transcontinental railroad.  One of his most iconic images is of the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10th 1869.  He also did many spectacular photos of mountain scenery and desserts of the American west which the railroad was built across.  After he left the service of the Union Pacific, Russell opened a studio on Logan Street in Brooklyn, New York.  He died there September 22nd 1902.