Friday, August 30, 2013

The Webster

Colonel Daniel Fletcher Webster was killed August 30th 1862, while leading his men during the Second Battle of Bull Run [Second Manassas].

Daniel Fletcher Webster was born July 25th 1818 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire the son of the well-known politician Daniel and Grace (Fletcher) Webster.  He was known in the family as Fletcher.  He attended and graduated from Dartmouth College.  While Webster’s father was serving as the United States Secretary of State, he served as the Chief Clerk of the States Department.  While serving as the Chief Clerk, Webster delivered the news to Vice President John Tyler of President William Henry Harrison death.

When the Civil War started Webster resigned his job as the surveyor of the Port of Boston, and became the Colonel of the 12th Massachusetts Infantry.  The 12th was recruited in the Boston area and mustered into Union service July 11th 1861 and a three year regiment.  The first action was at the Battle of Cedar Mountain.  He was killed August 30th 1862 during the Second Battle of Bull Run.  Webster and the 12th were on Chinn Ridge, and he was riding along the lines encouraging the men to stay in line.  He was struck in the wrist, with the bullet passing into his chest, toppling him off his horse, his adjutant moved him into some bushes.  Webster was found by some Confederates, and knowing he was dying asked one of them, a Ludwell Hutchison of the 8th Virginia Infantry to take his wallet and return it to his family, which was done after the war.  After the battle Webster’s body was recovered and it was sent home for burial in the Winslow Cemetery in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

The 12th Massachusetts a part of the Army of the Potomac was known as “The Webster Regiment” in honor of their Colonel.  There is a plaque on a boulder near where Webster was killed on the Manassas Battlefield.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Small Battle At The Crossing

Union General Wesley Merritt
The Battle of Smithfield Crossing was fought in Jefferson and Berkeley Counties West Virginia August 29th 1864.

Two Confederate Divisions under the command of Lieutenant Jubal A Early crossed Opequon Creek August 29th 1864 at Smithfield Crossing.  They hit and forced Union General Wesley Merritt’s cavalry division back.  Then Union General James B Ricketts Infantry Division came in and stopped the Confederate advance.

The Battle at Smithfield Crossing was small with total casualties of about 300.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Perryville In The Indian Territory

The Battle of Perryville, fought August 26th 1863 in the Indian Territory, was an attempt to make a final defeat of the Confederates in the area.

Following the Union victory at Battle of Honey Springs in July 1863 Union Major General James Blunt of the Army of the Frontier marched out of Fort Gibson looking for Confederate Brigadier General William Steele’s force.  They found each other as Steele’s men were crossing the Canadian River.  The Confederates did not want to stand and fight, their defeat at Honey Springs had dispirited the men, there was a lack of supplies and they deserting en masse.

Steele made the decision to split his troops up.  He sent Confederate Brigadier General William Cabell’s Arkansas men to Fort Smith to hold a defensive position where he could be reinforced, Brigadier General Douglas Cooper’s Indian soldiers moved south to Perryville where they could be resupplied, and Colonel Chilly McIntosh was sent to the west to cover Cooper’s flanks.  Steele hoped that Blunt would pursue Cabell to Fort Smith, where he could be caught out in the open, but Blunt pursued Cooper’s men instead.

Perryville was a major Confederate supply depot located on the Texas Road.  Blunt hoped to attack and destroy Cooper’s 5,000 men and take their supply depot, and then he would turn on Cabell and Fort Smith.  Cooper posted a strong picket line that included two howitzers blocking the road into town.  The Union troops arrived near town and engaged the Confederates on the night of August 26th 1863.  Cooper had his men behind some barricades with artillery aimed on the road.  Blunt had his men deployed on either side of the road and brought up his own artillery.  The firing went on for a short time in the dark.  The Union hit so fast that there was no time to call in reinforcements, Cooper thought he might be surrounded and so retreated leaving the supplies behind for the Union troops.

Blunt took what supplies he could use and then had rest of things, along with the town burned.  The loss of the supply depot crippled the Confederate forces in the Indian Territory.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

We Can Beat Them Yet

Confederate General Henry Heth
The Second Battle of Ream’s Station was fought August 25th 1864 in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, a part of the Petersburg Campaign.

As the siege of Petersburg began to take hold, Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S Grant began to look for ways to break the railroad lines, and prevent supplies from reaching Confederate General Robert E Lee’s Confederates.  Grant wanted the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad, which ran into Wilmington, North Carolina, stopped and had sent Major General Winfield Scott Hancock’s II Corps in June and Major General Gouverneur K Warren’s V Corps against the railroad in early August.

On August 22nd 1864 Grant again sent out the II Corps along with a cavalry division under Brigadier General David M Gregg.  Gregg’s men drove off some Confederate pickets, and one of the II Corps division commanders, Brigadier General Nelson A Miles’ men destroyed the track to within 2 miles of Reams Station.  Early the next morning August 23rd 1864 another II Corps commanded Brigadier General John Gibbon took up position in some old earthworks located at Reams Station.  Lee couldn’t afford to lose the railroad supply line, and also Ream’s Station was the county seat and should they need it, a potential retreat route.  He sent in Confederate Lieutenant General A P Hill’s Corps which was being led at the time by General Henry Heth, along with two divisions of Major General Wade Hampton’s cavalry to drive them out.

On August 25th 1864 Union troops left their earthworks to destroy the last 5 miles of tracks.  Hancock had them recalled when Confederate cavalry approached.   Hill’s column had advanced down the Dinwiddie Stage Road, and at about 2 pm three infantry brigades led by Brigadier General Cadmus Wilcox launched an attack, but were driven back.  At about the same time some of Hampton’s cavalry had swept around the Union line, but were blocked by Gibbon’s division.  More of Hill’s Corps were brought up, and Confederate Colonel William Pregram’s artillery began firing on the Union position.  The final attack began around 5:30 pm, with the Confederates breaking through the northwest part of the Union fortifications.  Two Union regiments panicked and ran and the Confederates charged the earthworks.  Hancock galloped along the front of his men trying to rally his men; he said “We can beat them yet. Don't leave me, for God's sake!"  The Confederate cavalry at this point made a dismounted charge against Gibbon’s troops causing them to panic, and giving Hampton room to flank the Union line.  Hancock pulled together a counterattack that allowed the Union side to make a withdrawal back to Petersburg.

Union casualties were high, numbering about 2,750 along with 9 cannon and 12 stands of colors, while the Confederates lost only about 800.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Contibuted To Loss At First Bull Run

Major General Robert Patterson
The Union Department of Pennsylvania was merged into the Department of the Shenandoah August 24th 1861, following the Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run.

The Department of Pennsylvania was established April 27th 1861, and covered the states of Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  The Department was under the command of Union Major General Robert Patterson.  The force was made up of mostly of three month troops from New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  The men of the Department achieved an early tactical victory at the Battle of Hoke’s Run July 2nd 1861.  Patterson and his Department of Pennsylvania was held as indirectly contributing to the Union loss at the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21st 1861.

The Department was disbanded August 24th 1861.  Any of the regiments whose terms of enlistments weren’t up, and their commanders were merged into the Department of the Shenandoah under the command of Union Major General Nathaniel P Banks.  Patterson received an honorable discharge from the Union Army July 27th 1861.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Command Of A Storming Party

Union First Lieutenant John James Toffey received his commission to this rank in the 33rd New Jersey Infantry August 23rd 1863.

John James Toffey was born June 1st 1844 in Pawling, Duchess, New York.  He was the son of George A and Mary D (Cook) Toffey.

He joined the Union service as a Private August 28th 1862 in Company C of the 21st New Jersey Infantry, which was a nine month regiment.  When the 21st disbanded, Toffey received a commission as a First Lieutenant for Company G of the 33rd New Jersey Infantry on August 23rd 1863.  He served with them on November 23rd 1863 in the Battle of Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga, Tennessee.  It was during this battle that Toffey was awarded the Medal of Honor.  Do to wounds received Toffey was discharged on June 2nd 1864.  He reenlisted in the Veteran Reserve Corps serving as a Lieutenant until 1866.  It was while still in this service that Toffey was an eyewitness to Lincoln’s assassination, he would testify at the conspirator’s trial.

Following his military service Toffey became a County sheriff in Hudson County, New Jersey.  He served as New Jersey state treasurer, was an alderman in Jersey City, New Jersey, and was elected to the New Jersey State Legislature.  Toffey received his Medal of Honor September 10th 1897, the citation reads; “The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant (Infantry) John James Toffey, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 23 November 1863, while serving with Company G, 33d New Jersey Infantry, in action at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Although excused from duty on account of sickness, First Lieutenant Toffey went to the front in command of a storming party and with conspicuous gallantry participated in the assault of Missionary Ridge; was here wounded and permanently disabled.”  He died March 13th 1911 in Pawling, New York and is buried in the Pawling Cemetery.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Military Wine Dealer

Union General Henry Bohlen was killed August 22nd 1862 while his Brigade was on reconnaissance in Virginia.

Henry Bohlen was born October 22nd 1810 in Bremen, Germany, while his parents were traveling in Europe.  He attended a military college in Germany.  In 1832 when his parents returned to the United States, he was pulled out of school and did not complete his education.  Once in the United States Bohlen did very well by importing foreign liquors and wines.  When the Mexican American War started he volunteered as an Aide-de-Camp and saw some action under Major General Winfield Scott.  He returned to his business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after the war ended.  Bohlen traveled to Europe for his son’s health, serving with the French during the Crimean War.

Bohlen was living in the Netherlands when he heard of the surrender of Fort Sumter.  Returning to Philadelphia he began recruiting a mostly German regiment.  Bohlen was named the Colonel of the 75th Pennsylvania Infantry on September 30th 1861, serving in Union General Louis Blanker’s division.  He was promoted to Brigadier General April 28th 1862, and placed in command of the 3rd Brigade in Union General Carl Schurz’s Division.  During the 1862 Valley Campaign, his brigade covered the Union retreat from the Battle of Cross Keys, and saw action at the Battle of Cedar Mountain.  While on reconnaissance along the Rappahannock River before the Battle of Second Bull Run, Bohlen was shot in the chest, and killed by a Confederate sharpshooter as his Brigade was trying to cross the river on August 22nd 1862.  He is buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nine Month Men

The 15th New Hampshire Infantry mustered out of Union service August 13th 1863.

The 15th New Hampshire was organized between October 6th and 16th 1862 in Concord, New Hampshire as a nine month regiment.  The men of the regiment came mostly from the counties of Belknap, Cheshire, Grafton, Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham, Strafford, and Sullivan, New Hampshire.  They formed under the command of Colonel John W Kingman.

The 15th left New Hampshire November 13th 1862 for New York, where they would sail for New Orleans, Louisiana.  The regiment arrived in Louisiana December 26th 1862.  They were placed in the Union Department of the Gulf a part of William T Sherman’s Division.  The men of the 15th settled in at Camp Parapet, Louisiana serving there on duty until May 1863.  When the 1863 campaign season got going they were moved to Springfield Landing, Louisiana, and then onto service in the Siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana from May 27th through July 9th 1863.

The men of the 15th were mustered out of Union service August 13th 1863 at Concord, New Hampshire.  During their time in the army the 15th had 27 men who killed in action or died from their wounds, and another 134 who died from disease.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Raised The Fallen Colors

Second Lieutenant Stephen Potter Corliss, a Medal of Honor recipient, enlisted in the Union army August 12th 1862.

Stephen Potter Corliss was born July 25th 1842 in Albany, New York, the son of Roswell B and Catherine Corliss.

Corliss enlisted as a Private in the 11th New York Artillery August 12th 1862 at Albany, New York.  He would be promoted to Second Lieutenant of Company F of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery on June 26th 1864.  He was taken prisoner on August 25th 1864 at the Second Battle of Ream’s Station, returning to duty in December 1864.  Corliss received the Medal of Honor for his action at the Battle of South Side Railroad in Virginia on April 2nd 1865.  It was here that the 4th faced a Confederate battery near the railroad where it intersected with the White Oak Road.  The company charged three times.  When the color bearers were shot down, Corliss dismounted, picked up the flag, remounted and road, carrying the colors into the Confederate works planting them on the line.  The rest of the company followed him, and routed the enemy.  His citation reads, “raised the fallen colors and, rushing forward in advance of the troops, placed them on the enemy's works."  Corliss was discharged from service December 9th 1865.

He received the Medal of Honor April 5th 1898.  Corliss died May 9th 1904 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  He is buried in the Albany Rural Cemetery, Albany, New York.

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Most Successful Exploits

The Battle of Cedar Mountain was fought August 9th 1862.

Union Major General John Pope had a new army under his command, which he christened the Army of Virginia.  Pope moved on Culpeper Court House and Confederate General Robert E Lee sent the order to General Thomas J Jackson that he wanted “Pope to be suppressed.”

Jackson was outnumbered, but Pope helped him with the numbers, when he divided his troops along the Rapidan River.  Jackson moved on the part of Pope’s army that was near Culpeper.  Moving on the main road toward Culpeper in extreme heat on bad roads Jackson’s exhausted troops encountered Union cavalry near Cedar Run on August 9th 1862.  Confederate Brigadier General Jubal A Early formed a line along the road, he anchored it on Cedar Mountain.  The Confederate artillery posted along the mountain, a small knoll known as the Cedars and near the Crittenden House beginning a duel with Union artillery on the Mitchell Station Road.  During the artillery bombardment Confederate Brigadier General Charles S Winder was mortally wounded.  Around 5pm Union Major General Nathaniel P Banks launched an attack on the Confederate line.  Union troops led by Union Brigadier General Samuel W Crawford attacked the Confederate left in what became hand to hand combat, while other Union troops under Brigadier General Christopher C Auger hit the other end of the line near the guns on the knoll.

The Confederate troops began to show signs of a rout, but Jackson road into the middle of his men and rallied the troops.  With Jackson holding his men in place and restoring order, Confederate General A P Hill arrived in time to strengthen the line and push the Union troops back across the field.  A battalion of the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry held the Confederate counterattack long enough so that most of the Union men could retreat.

Two days after this battle Jackson began his move to join up with Robert E Lee for what would lead up to Second Manassas.  Jackson said that the Battle of Cedar Mountain was “the most successful of his exploits.”

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Western Fort Surrendered

A Siege against Fort Gaines, a part of the Battle of Mobile Bay, came to an end on August 8th 1864 after six days.

Union Major General Gordon Granger landed a force on Dauphin Island on August 3rd 1864.  The 3,300 men moved against Fort Gaines located on the western side of Mobile Bay.  The Fort was of pentagonal design and was built in the mid 1800’s.  It was held by about 820 Confederate soldiers under the command of Colonel Charles A Anderson.  Anderson’s commander Confederate Brigadier General Richard Lucian Page gave him orders not to surrender the Fort.

On August 5th 1864 Admiral David G Farragut’s Union Navy fleet of 18 ships, ran past Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan; the other fort defending the Bay, defeating the Confederate ships in Mobile Bay.  Seeing this Anderson decided he couldn’t hold the Fort if attacked by both Granger’s force and the Union Navy.  He surrendered the Fort August 8th 1864.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Found Death As He Would Have Wished

Union cavalry Major Seymour Beach Conger was killed in action August 7th 1864 during a battle near Moorefield, West Virginia.

Seymour Beach Conger was born September 25th 1825 in Plymouth, Richland, Ohio the son of Reverend Enoch and Esther (West) Conger.  He lived near Lexington, Ohio and worked as a farmer.

When the Civil War started Conger recruited for what would become Company A of the 3rd West Virginia Cavalry.  He was made their Captain November 22nd 1862.  Companies A and C, which he led, was a part of Union General John Buford’s Division of Cavalry, and served at Brandy Station and Gettysburg in Colonel Thomas C Devin’s brigade.  In November 1863 the 3rd along with Conger were moved to the Department of West Virginia in Wheeling.   He was promoted to Major.  Conger was killed in action during the cavalry fight known as the Battle of Moorefield near Moorefield, West Virginia August 7th 1864.  He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

After Conger’s death Union General William Woods Averell said of him, “our exultations is mingled a profound grief at the loss of Major Conger, 3rd West Virginia Cavalry, who found death as he had always wished, in the front of battle, with heart and hand intent upon the doing of his duty.  Brave, steadfast and modest, when he fell this command lost one of its best soldiers, and his regiment and general a friend.  The men who followed him in the charge will never forget his glorious example."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Any Property That Supports The War Effort

The Confiscation Act of 1861 was signed into law August 6th 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln and included taking slaves.

The bill for the Confiscation Act of 1861 passed both houses of Congress by a wide majority, but Lincoln was hesitant to sign.  With recent Confederate victories he felt the Act would look reckless, and that it could be seen as unconstitutional.  He was lobbied by several Senators who explained that the Act was necessary to take any property; including slaves, that could be used to support the Confederacy’s war efforts.  He signed the Act into law August 6th 1861.

 “An Act to confiscate Property used for Insurrectionary Purposes.

It has been enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That if, during the present or any future insurrection against the Government of the United States, after the President of the United States shall have declared, by proclamation, that the laws of the United States are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the power vested in the marshals by law, any person or persons, his, her, or their agent, attorney, or employé, shall purchase or acquire, sell or give, any property of whatsoever kind or description, with intent to use or employ the same, or suffer the same to be used or employed, in aiding, abetting, or promoting such insurrection or resistance to the laws, or any person or persons engaged therein; or if any person or persons, being the owner or owners of any such property, shall knowingly use or employ, or consent to the use or employment of the same as aforesaid, all such property is hereby declared to be lawful subject of prize and capture wherever found; and it shall be the duty of the President of the United States to cause the same to be seized, confiscated, and condemned.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That such prizes and capture shall be condemned in the district or circuit court of the United States having jurisdiction of the amount, or in admiralty in any district in which the same may be seized, or into which they may be taken and proceedings first instituted.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That the Attorney-General, or any district attorney of the United States in which said property may at the time be, may institute the proceedings of condemnation, and in such case they shall be wholly for the benefit of the United States; or any person may file an information with such attorney, in which case the proceedings shall be for the use of such informer and the United States in equal parts.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That whenever hereafter, during the present insurrection against the Government of the United States, any person claimed to be held to labor or service under the law of any State, shall be required or permitted by the person to whom such labor or service is claimed to be due, or by the lawful agent of such person, to take up arms against the United States, or shall be required or permitted by the person to whom such labor or service is claimed to be due, or his lawful agent, to work or to be employed in or upon any fort, navy yard, dock, armory, ship, entrenchment, or in any military or naval service whatsoever, against the Government and lawful authority of the United States, then, and in every such case, the person to whom such labor or service is claimed to be due shall forfeit his claim to such labor, any law of the State or of the United States to the contrary notwithstanding. And whenever thereafter the person claiming such labor or service shall seek to enforce his claim, it shall be a full and sufficient answer to such claim that the person whose service or labor is claimed had been employed in hostile service against the Government of the United States, contrary to the provisions of this act.”

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Riot In Philadelphia

The Lombard Street Riot started on August 1st 1842 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and lasted for three days.

During the first half of the 19th century the number of blacks in Philadelphia increased by over fifty percent at the same time there was a large number of Irish immigrants coming into the city.  These two groups were separated by race, religion, and social background, but competed for the same jobs in the city.

On the morning of August 1st 1842 the Young Men’s Vigilant Association held a parade to commemorate the ending of slavery in the British West Indies.  As the 1,000 black members of the Association neared the Mother Bethel Church on Fourth and Lombard Streets they were attacked by a mob made up of manly Irish Catholics.  The mob began setting fires, attacking the fire fighters who came to put them out.  They moved on to the home of Robert Purvis a leader of the black community.  He was saved only through the intercession of a Catholic priest.

The riot continued for three days.  The Second African American Presbyterian Church, Smith’s Hall and many homes belonging local blacks were burnt and looted.  Local militia was eventually brought in to put down the riot.

If you would like to learn more check out 1842 Philadelphia Race Riot Erupts