Friday, January 31, 2014

Taking On The Blockading Ships

With the help of a thick fog, on January 31st 1863 two Confederate ironclads the CSS Chicora and CSS Palmetto State made an attack on the Union blockading ships in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.

On January 31st 1863, in a thick predawn fog, the CSS Chicora and CSS Palmetto State; both ironclads, attacked the blockading force of unarmored Union ships stationed just outside of Charleston Harbor.  Using her ram and guns the Palmetto made the USS Mercedita surrender and disabled the USS Keystone State.  While this was going on the Chicora took on the other Unions ships with long range artillery.

Following this duel the two Confederate ships laid anchor safely back in the Charleston Harbor.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Foraging Excursion Turned Fight

BG Roger A Pryor
The Battle of Deserted House [also known as the Battle of Kelly’s Store] was fought January 30th 1863 in southeast Virginia.

Confederate Brigadier General Roger A Pryor crossed the Blackwater River with his troops on a foraging excursion into Virginia.  Union Major General John J Peck organized a force from his garrison at Suffolk, Virginia to drive Pryor out of the area.  Peck placed Union Brigadier General Michael Corcoran in command of this force.

Pryor expecting an attack from the Union garrison organized his men for battle about 8 miles west of Suffolk near Kelly’s Store.  The Union and Confederate troops engaged on January 30th 1863 at a place known as Deserted House.  Pryor’s men pulled back about two miles before forming up a new line.  The Union 13th Indiana Infantry charged and broke this line.  The Confederates made a final stand along the Blackwater River, but that line was also routed by the Union 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

Corcoran returned with his men to Suffolk the next day.  Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet carried out another foraging expedition against Suffolk in April 1863.

For some more interesting reading on this battle, check out Baptism of Fire: The Corcoran Legion at Deserted House, Virginia, 30th January 1863

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Crossing Into The Carolinas

A Wing of Union General William T Sherman’s Army under the command of Major General Henry W Slocum began to cross the Savannah River at Sister’s Ferry on January 29th 1865.

After capturing Savannah, Georgia Union General William T Sherman was ordered by Lieutenant General Ulysses S Grant to embark by ship and move his troops to the support of the Army of the Potomac.  Sherman convinced Grant that it would be better if he marched his troops north through the Carolinas.  He would target South Carolina, the first state to have seceded, by destroying everything of value to the military as they passed through.

Sherman ordered the commander of the XIV and XX Corps; Major General Henry W Slocum on January 19th 1865 to cross the Savannah River into South Carolina at Sister’s Ferry.  However the Union troops; do to a heavy rainfall, weren’t able to leave the city of Savannah until January 29th 1865.  It took them until February 2nd 1865 to get completely over the river.  Slocum’s men lagging behind the rest of Sherman’s army proceeded toward the town of Robertville, South Carolina.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The President's Valet

African American William Henry Johnson a personal valet of United States President Abraham Lincoln died January 28th 1864 most likely from smallpox.

William Henry Johnson a free African American was born about 1835.  He was working in Springfield, Illinois as a barber and bootblack when he met Abraham Lincoln in 1860.  When Lincoln became President he brought Johnson with him to the White House.  There seems to have been issues between the existing White House staff and Johnson.  In a letter that Lincoln wrote to United States Navy Secretary Gideon Welles on March 7th 1861 he stated the trouble seemed to be “the difference of color between him and other servants is the cause of our separation.”  Lincoln found other employment for Johnson as a messenger for the United States Treasury Department.  Johnson however continued to work mornings as the President’s valet and barber.

On November 18th 1863 Johnson traveled by train with Lincoln to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery.  The President contracted smallpox and while tending to Lincoln, Johnson also came down with disease.  The President recovered, but Johnson died on January 28th 1864 in Washington, DC.

Lincoln paid for Johnson’s funeral.  Interestingly it is unknown to a certainty where Johnson is buried.  There are two places that claim his remains, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Columbian Harmony Cemetery.

Recommended reading on this subject can be found at Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Johnson

Monday, January 27, 2014

Five Hours Of Shelling

The Union Navy attacked Fort McAllister along the coast of Georgia on January 27th 1863, with several gun boats.

Fort McAllister was under the command of Confederate Major John B Gallie, who before the war was a merchant in Savannah, Georgia.

On January 26th 1863 the Union ironclad the USS Montauk along with the USS Wissahickon, USS Dawn and USS Seneca approached Fort McAllister.  The Montauk set anchor within an effective firing range of the Fort’s guns.  On January 27th 1863 the Montauk with support of the other ships opened fire on the Fort which they continued for 5 hours.  The Fort was reported to have been hit by over 450 cannon rounds.  The ironclad was hit about 15 times by fire from the Fort but wasn’t seriously damaged, nor where there any casualties.  The Union ship withdrew after the five hours, because the Montauk was running short of ammunition.  There were no reported casualties from Fort McAllister, nor was there much damage.

This battle would mark the first use of an ironclad ship against a land base.  The Commander of the Montauk was John Worden, who had been the commander of the USS Monitor when she fought the CSS Virginia for the first time.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I Think He Is Harder On Me

United States President Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter on January 26th 1863 to Union General Joseph Hooker upon his ascending to command of the Army of the Potomac.

Union General Joseph Hooker was the fourth in a line of commanding General of the Army of the Potomac, a part of President Abraham Lincoln’s search for a general who would give him a victory.  When Hooker was given command, Lincoln placed a letter in his hand stating Hooker’s good and bad qualities it commended his bravery, military skill, and confidence, as well as the fact that the President knew Hooker had undercut Union General Ambrose E Burnside.  Hooker told Noah Brooks; a reporter, that it was the kind of “letter as a father might write to his son. It is a beautiful letter, and, although I think he was harder on me than I deserved, I will say that I love the man who wrote it."

It was only five months later that Lincoln replace Hooker with Union General George G Meade right before the Battle of Gettysburg.

The letter written January 26, 1863 follows as:
Major General Hooker:

I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appear to me to be sufficient reasons. And yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which, I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and a skilful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not an indispensable quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm. But I think that during Gen. Burnside's command of the Army, you have taken counsel of your ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country, and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer. I have heard, in such way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals, who gain successes, can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the Army, of criticizing their Commander, and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can, to put it down. Neither you, nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army, while such a spirit prevails in it.

And now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward, and give us victories.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Stood Their Ground Through Three Charges

The 11th United States Colored Infantry was in action on January 24th 1865 at Boggs’ Mill in Arkansas.

The 11th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops was recruited in the autumn of 1863 in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  It was made up mostly of former slaves that lived in the area, as well as a few slaves from the Choctaw Nation.  They were attached to the 2nd Brigade of the District of the Frontier in the 7th Corps of the Union Department of Arkansas.  The unit was at first assigned to garrison duty at Fort Smith.

Their first action came in the summer of 1864 when the 265 effectives of the 11th were sent into the Indian Territory to guard stock and hay at Gunther’s Prairie.  On August 24th 1864 the 11th were attacked by about 350 Confederate Cavalry.  There was a hard fight that lasted over two hours with the Confederates making three charges, before they were forced to retreat.  The 11th lost 3 men killed and 14 missing or wounded.

Returning to Fort Smith until November 1864 when they were ordered east into Conway County, Arkansas.  On January 24th 1864 they confronted a detachment of the 10th Arkansas Cavalry at Boggs’ Mill.  The Confederates under the command of Colonel Robert C Newton had taken the mill a few miles from Dardanelle, Arkansas.  The 11th surprised the Confederates, capturing 18 horses, arms and Newton’s official papers.

After this the 11th was placed on garrison duty in both Little Rock and Lewisburg, Arkansas through April 1865.  As the Civil War was wrapping up the 11th was merged with the 112th and 113th becoming the 113th United States Colored Infantry on April 22nd 1865.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Blockading Ship

The Anaconda Blockading Plan
The USS Flambeau began her blockading duty January 22nd 1862 at Port Royal, South Carolina, from which she would work one of the entrances to Charleston Harbor.

The Flambeau was built in Brooklyn, New York by Lawrence and Foulks in 1861.  The Union Navy bought her on November 14th 1861, and she was commissioned under the command of W G Temple on November 27th 1861.  She was assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, arriving in Nassau, New Providence December 11th 1861.

The Flambeau sailed back to Port Royal, South Carolina, arriving on January 22nd 1862.  She began blockading duty on the Stono Inlet an entrance to the Charleston Harbor.  She spent the next year at this duty capturing several prizes and sending a landing party to destroy the abandoned Fort on Bull’s Island.  It was at Bull’s Island on January 31st 1863 that a foraging party which was sent ashore were captured by Confederates.  The rescue party sent the next day were also captured with one man killed and one wounded.

In April 1863 she was out of service for repairs, but back in action by May, when she took the CSS Betty Kratzer on June 23rd 1863.  Serving near Fernandina, Florida the Flambeau took the CSS schooner the John Gilpin.  She was back out of commission for repairs in New York City from February 10th 1864 until June 2nd 1864.  The Flambeau was back with the squadron by June 21st 1864.  She fired on Confederate Cavalry and civilians at Georgetown, South Carolina on June 23rd 1864, who were working on a couple of wrecks.

The Flambeau continued her duty until the end of the war.  She returned to the New York Navy Yard on May 31st 1865.  The Navy sold her on July 12th 1865.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Honor To The Uniform

A United States Marine, Henry Wasmuth was killed saving the life of an Ensign on January 21st 1865 at Fort Fisher.

Henry Wasmuth was born about 1840 in Germany.  He would become a naturalized United State citizen.
Wasmuth enlisted at the beginning of the Civil War in the United States Marine Corps on June 11th 1861.  He was among the Marines attached to the USS Powhatan, a sidewheeler which took part which took part in the assault on Fort Fisher in North Carolina on January 15th 1865.

It was during an amphibious assault on Fort Fisher that Ensign Robley D “Fighting Bob” Evans was wounded by a Confederate sharpshooter.  Wasmuth picked up the wounded Evans and carried him to place of safety.  Wasmuth stayed with Evans despite the future United States Admiral’s warning to take cover.  Within a short time the Confederate sharpshooters found Wasmuth, the bullet entering his neck cut his jugular vein.  Wasmuth bleed to death within minutes on January 21st 1865.

Evans would write of young Private Wasmuth that “he was an honor to his uniform."

Monday, January 20, 2014

An Early Memorial

The Soldiers Monument in Bristol, Connecticut was placed on January 20th 1866, one of the earliest memorials.

The Bristol Soldier’s Monument Committee was formed in 1865.  With the suggestion of Josiah F Peck Sr, the committee set out to get a contribution of $1.00 from every member of the town of Bristol, Connecticut.  There were 3500 people living in Bristol, but not all were able to give money, and so a subcommittee made up of seven women and six men organized a Strawberry Festival to supplement the needed funds.  An agreement was reached October 16th 1865 with James G Batterson of Hartford, Connecticut to furnish and erect the Soldier’s Monument.  Peck purchased the land for the monument, completed a foundation and provided the transportation for the monument.

The Soldier’s Monument is located on a hill in West Cemetery, in Bristol.  It is six feet six inch at the base and is twenty five feet high, made out of Brown Portland Stone.  There is an inscription which dedicates the monument to the soldiers who fought and died for their country from the town of Bristol.  There is an eagle at the top of the monument.  It was placed on January 20th 1866.

The monument was rededicated by the town of Bristol on May 30th 1988.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Going Beyond The Call Of Duty

Union Private Michael McKeever a member of the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions preformed January 19th 1863 at Burnt Ordinary, Virginia.

Michael McKeever was born in Ireland March 25th 1842.  He immigrated with his family in 1848.

When the Civil War started McKeever enlisted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 9th 1861 as a Private in Company K of the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry.  He was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery for his actions at Burnt Ordinary, Virginia [now the town of Toano, Virginia] on January 19th 1863.  The citation of the Medal of Honor reads that he "was one of a small scouting party that charged and routed a mounted force of the enemy six times their number. He led the charge in a most gallant and distinguished manner, going far beyond the call of duty".  McKeever would reach the rank of First Sergeant before the end of the war.

Following the war McKeever worked as a mechanic, and then as a wholesaler.  He died December 24th 1916, and is buried in the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

When War Wasn't Civil

The Shelton Laurel Massacre an execution of 13 men and boys accused of being Union sympathizers occurred on January 18th 1863 in Madison County, North Carolina.

In early January 1863 an armed group of Madison County, North Carolina Unionists looted the salt stores in the area and ransacked the home of Confederate Colonel Lawrence Allen.  Allen was the commander of the 64th North Carolina Infantry.  In response to the raid Confederate General Henry Heth sent the 64th; temporarily commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James A Keith, to Shelton Laurel Valley to catch the looters.   In the following skirmish 12 of the looters were killed and a number others captured.  North Carolina Governor Zebulon Baird Vance worried about the situation escalating sent orders not to harm the captured looters.

Keith however believed a rumor that there was a Unionist force in the area, and he began looking for them.  Locals weren’t forthcoming with information and so Keith had several women in the Shelton Laurel area rounded and tortured to get information about their male relations.  After rounding up the alleged Unionists, Keith started to march them to Tennessee, but two of the captives escaped.  At this point Keith had the remaining 13 prisoners marched into the woods where on January 18th 1863 he ordered them shot.  The bodies of the thirteen men; three of them boys under the age of 17 were dumped into a trench.

Family of executed men had their bodies move to a cemetery a little east of the massacre site.  Keith was held for his actions spending two years in jail, before escaping just days before his trial.  The state dropped their case against him.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Light Artillery

The Union Missouri Light Artillery organized in Independence, Missouri and known as the Wachman’s Battery was disbanded on January 17th 1864.

The Union Missouri Light Artillery was organized on May 6th 1862 at Independence, Missouri.  They were known as the Wachman’s Battery.  The men of the battery first campaigns were Skirmishes at Switzler’s Mill, Little Compton, Yellow Creek, and Mussel fork between August 8th and 15th 1862.  They were active in many other small western theater operations before being disbanded on January 17th 1864.

The Battery had 4 men killed during actions and lost 11 to disease.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Held The Line Until After Dark

BG Micah Jenkins
A minor fight the Battle of Dandridge was fought January 17th 1864 in Jefferson County, Tennessee.

Union forces commanded by Major General John G Parke looking for forage south of the French Broad River and to push the Confederates out of their winter headquarters, advanced on Dandridge, Tennessee.  This movement forced Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet who was operating in the Dandridge area to fall back to Kimbrough’s Crossroads and bring up reinforcements.

Union Brigadier General Samuel D Sturgis who commanded the Cavalry Corps in the Army of the Ohio, road along the Morristown Road from Dandridge on January 16th 1864.  As the Cavalry neared Kimbrough’s Crossroad they engaged a brigade with artillery from Alabama commanded by Confederate Brigadier General Micah Jenkins.  At the same time another unit of Union cavalry under Colonel Frank Wolford engaged another Confederate force on a bend of Chunky Road, east of Dandridge.  Unable to move the Confederates, the Union troops retired to Dandridge.  Sturgis prepared his men into a line of battle.  At about 4 pm the Confederates moved towards Dandridge, where the battle quickly grew into general fighting.  The Battle continued until after dark, with Union forces holding onto their line.

Having not crossed the river and not knowing how much of Longstreet’s force was in their front, Parke ordered a retreat to New Market during the night.  The Confederates followed, but without supplies they broke off and fell back to holding Dandridge.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Demanded Surrender Of His Own Design

On January 15th 1861 Florida militia Colonel William Henry Chase demanded the surrender of Fort Pickens which was being used as a United States Army garrison.

Florida became the third state to secede on January 10th 1861 and began right away to seize Union property.  On January 15th 1861 on the behest of the Florida State Governor,  Florida Militia Colonel William Henry Chase demanded the surrender of Fort Pickens at Pensacola, Florida.  Chase had been a Captain in the United State Army Corps of Engineers, and had designed and oversaw the construction of the Fort.

The United States commander of the Fort was Lieutenant Adam J Slemmer, he refused to surrender.  Slemmer had 81 men under his command, who he had moved from the other local Forts of Barrancas and McRee over to Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island.  When Chase and his aide; Captain Ebenezer Farrand went to Fort Pickens to demand the surrender, they were met outside by Slemmer and his second in command; Second Lieutenant J H Gilman.  The Confederates were denied entrance to the Fort.  Chase had written the demand for surrender and gave it to Farrand to read, but he was without glasses, and so Gilman took it and read it out loud.

Gilman asked how many he faced and if Chase thought they could take the Fort by force.  Chase said that he could, but he would loose about half of his men.  Chase told Slemmer that Florida could not allow the Fort to be held and that he must know an attack would bring on a Civil War.

The next day Union Navy ships in the harbor moved closer to the Fort and Slemmer refused to surrender, and the Fort remained in Union hands throughout the war.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Last Challenge in Arkansas

The action at Dardanelle fought January 14th 1865 along the Arkansas River was a last shot by the Confederacy to break up the Union dominance in the area.

Confederate Colonel William H Brooks led a force of about 1,500 made up of his own cavalry and cavalry of Colonels Ras Stirman and Robert C Newton to the Arkansas River on January 14th 1865.  The point being to gage the strength of the Union troops garrisoned along the river.  On that same day a Union detachment of 276 men from the 1st Iowa and 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry under the command of Major J D Jenks disembarked from Union steamboats to occupy the earthworks at Dardanelle.

At about 2 pm Brooks made an attack against Jenks force at Dardanelle.  Jenks used the two pieces of artillery in the stockade and concentrated his men.  The Brooks’ cavalry with only one piece of artillery engaged the Union troops for four hours before withdrawing.

The Union side reported about 29 casualties, and the Confederated listing about 81.  Union Sergeant William Ellis of the 3rd was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service at Dardanelle.  This marked the last serious Confederate challenge in the Arkansas River area of Union control.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Opening Shots In Vicksburg

Early Civil War opening shots near Vicksburg, Mississippi on January 13th 1861 were fired at the steamboat, the A O Tyler which was thought to be carrying Union related supplies.

On the evening of January 13th 1861 the steamboat the A O Tyler was making a regular run down the Mississippi River between Cincinnati, Ohio and New Orleans, Louisiana with general cargo.  As the Tyler rounded a bend near Vicksburg and came opposite of Fort Hill, the Captain John Collier was surprised when he was fired on.  Collier didn’t understand that the shots fired into the water near his ship where an order to stop.

Shortly after this the A O Tyler made a routine stop at the port in Vicksburg.  It was here that Collier was given orders to turn his ship around and return up river to Fort Hill, to report to the officers in charge of the battery which had fired on his ship.  Collier tied the A O Tyler up at a small dock at Fort Hill, where he was met by uniformed Mississippi militia.  The militia stated that they were going to search the A O Tyler for weapons and armed soldiers.  None were found and Collier was allowed to proceed on his way.

The firing on the A O Tyler turned out to be the response to a rumor that a steamboat with 500 armed men, known as “Wideawakes” was on its way down the river with plans to attack Vicksburg.  The A O Tyler would just seven month latter become a Union gunboat when she was purchased and commissioned at the USS Tyler.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Lincoln Supporter

Smith Dykins Atkins was nominated by President Abraham Lincoln to be promoted to Brevet Brigadier General January 12th 1865.

Smith Dykins Atkins was born June 9th 1836 in Horseheads, New York the son of Adna S and Sarah (Dykins) Atkins.  His family moved to Illinois in 1845 where he attended the Rock River Seminary in Mount Morris, Illinois.  He had a law practice and was the editor of the Mount Morris Gazette.  He worked for Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860.

At the call for Union troops following the firing on Fort Sumter, Atkins became the first man from Stephenson County, Illinois to enlist.  He was appointed Captain of the 11th Illinois Infantry April 30th 1861, and then Major in early 1862.  Due to illness he resigned in April 1862, but was back in service by September 1862 as the Colonel of the 92nd Illinois Mounted Infantry.  In February 1863 Atkins was commanding a brigade in the Union Army of Kentucky.  He led a brigade of cavalry during the March to the Sea.  President Abraham Lincoln nominated Atkins to receive the promotion grade of Brevet Brigadier General January 12th 1865, which was confirmed by the United States Senate in February of that year.

Following the war Atkins returned to Illinois, but not before meeting and marrying Ella Swain the daughter of David Swain who was the president of the University of North Carolina.  Atkins became the editor of the Freeport, Illinois newspaper and the city’s postmaster.  He wrote two books, and served as the first president of the Freeport Public Library.  Atkins died March 27th 1913 in Freeport, Illinois and is buried in the Freeport City Cemetery. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

We Are The Alabama

The USS Hatteras a Union gunboat was sunk off the coast of Galveston, Texas January 11th 1863 by the CSS Alabama.

The USS Hatteras was a1450 ton iron hulled side wheeled steamer, which was outfitted with four 32 pounder cannon as a gunboat.  She started life as the St Mary and was purchased by the Union Navy September 25th 1861.  Fitted out at the Philadelphia Navy Yard she was commissioned the USS Hatteras and place in command of Commander George F Emmons October 1861.

Serving as a part of the blockading fleet near the coast of Galveston, Texas on January 11th 1863 the USS Hatteras was ordered to give chase to as unknown ship that had been sighted on the horizon.  Beginning the pursuit about 3 pm the Hatteras followed the other ship as it moved closer to shore.  Finally coming into hailing distance of the other ship Hatteras’ Captain Homer C Blake made a request of identity.  The reply was, "Her Britannic Majesty’s Ship Vixen."  The commander of the Hatteras was suspicious and ordered the British inspected.  Once the longboat from the Hatteras moved toward the mysterious ship, a new reply came, "We are the CSS Alabama."

At this point the CSS Alabama which was commanded by Raphael Semmes pulled down the Union Jack and raised the Confederate flag.  She opened on the Hatteras with heavy cannon.  For 20 minutes the two ships exchanged fire at a distance of less than 200 yards.  Hearing the guns and seeing the flashes the Union squadron now about 15 miles away sent the USS Brooklyn a cruiser to find out what was going on.

By this time the Hatteras was already on fire and beginning to go down.  The Captain had the magazines flooded to prevent an explosion, then had a single shot fired with the bow gun to admit surrender and request assistance.  The Alabama sent over boats to remove the Hatteras’ crew, removing the last of them as the ship went under.  The whole action took only about 45 minutes.  Of the 126 crew members on the Hatteras 2 were killed and 5 wounded.  Six men managed to escape back to the squadron.  The Alabama had only 2 men wounded in the action.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Hold Out Until Help Arrives

The Battle of Arkansas Post [Battle of Fort Hindman] a part of the Vicksburg Campaign was fought January 9th through 11th 1863 near the mouth of the Arkansas River.

The Confederate Army had an earthwork fort near Arkansas Post a bluff on the Arkansas River, built to prevent river passage to Little Rock, Arkansas.  The fort had a great view and was named Fort Hindman in honor of Confederate General Thomas C Hindman.  The fort was held by about 5,000 infantry from Arkansas and Texas under command of Confederate Brigadier General Thomas J Churchill.

Union political Major General John A McClernand ordered Major General William T Sherman Corps joined with his into the Army of the Mississippi, totaling about 33,000 men.  On January 4th 1863 McClernand ordered this force with navy support to move on Arkansas Post.

Union boats beginning landing troop about 3 miles below Arkansas Post at Notrebe’s Plantation on January 9th 1863.  These men moved up the river toward Fort Hindman.  Sherman’s Corps took the Confederate trenches forcing them back into the Fort.  By eleven on the morning of January 10th 1863 all the Union troops were on land.  Churchill made a request for reinforcements when he saw the overwhelming size of the Union force advancing on him.  From his superior Churchill was told to “hold out till help arrived or until all dead.”  The Union troops split to make a flanking movement, but were unable to do so because of swamps and impassible roads.  With McClernand’s troops moving on the Fort, the Union Navy’s gunboats commanded by Rear Admiral David D Porter pounded the Fort from 400 yard away.  This bombardment inflicted heavy damage on the Confederate guns.

The next morning McClernand’s troops deployed in an arc around Fort Hindman.  The infantry attacked at about 1pm.  At the same time the Union gunboats also moved into attack.  By 4:30 when McClernand was planning a massive assault, the Confederates began to show surrender flags.  As the Fort fell Porter accepted the surrender of Confederate Colonel John Dunnington who was in charge of the Confederate artillery.

The defeat of the Confederates at Arkansas Post took away a quarter to the deployed military force west of the Mississippi River.  Confederate losses were about 5,500 men.  Union losses were numbered at 1,047.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Exposed His Life

Thomas Saltus Lubbock a Texas Ranger and Confederate Colonel, died January 9th 1862.

Thomas Saltus Lubbock was born November 29th 1817 in Charleston, South Carolina the son of Henry T and Susan Ann (Saltus) Lubbock.  He moved to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1835 to work in a cotton factory.  When the Texas revolution started Lubbock marched with a company raised by Captain William G Cooke to Nacogdoches, Texas, and took part in the siege of San Antonio de Bexar.  He took work on the upper Brazos River on a steamboat before joining the Santa Fe Expedition.  When captured with his company in New Mexico, he escaped and made his way back to Texas.  He was elected First Lieutenant in the Texas Rangers and was at the head of a company that drove the Mexicans back across the Rio Grande.

Lubbock was a firm secessionist.  At the beginning of the Civil War Lubbock traveled with Thomas J Goree, James Longstreet, Benjamin Franklin Terry and John A Wharton from Galveston, Texas to Richmond, Virginia, where he petitioned Confederate President Jefferson Davis for permission to raise a company.  While in Virginia Lubbock and Terry along with about 15 other Texans organized into a band of scouts to work for the Confederate Army.  He was still a civilian during the First Battle of Manassas where he "exposed his life in bearing messages during the contest."

Lubbock and Terry finally received authority to raise a regiment of cavalry, and they returned to Texas where they raised the 8th Texas Cavalry known as “Terry’s Texas Rangers”.  Lubbock was made the Lieutenant Colonel of the 8th.  Finding himself in failing health Lubbock traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to recover.  When Terry was killed at the Battle of Rowlett’s Station on December 17th 1861, Lubbock was promoted to Colonel of the 8th.  He never took command of the regiment however, as he died from typhoid fever in Nashville, Tennessee January 9th 1862.  He is buried in the Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Texas.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Surrendered With A Receipt

The Confederate Florida State Militia took position of Fort Marion in St Augustine, Florida on January 7th 1861, three day before the state seceded from the Union.

Twenty-five Florida State Militia from the town of Fernandina, Florida captured Fort Marion on January 7th 1861 from one lone Union Army Sergeant.  The Sergeant wouldn’t surrender the Fort until he given a receipt.  All but five of guns located at the Fort were moved to other Confederate forts.  Three days later the state of Florida seceded, but the news didn’t reach St Augustine until January 12th 1861.  The town celebrated by raising flags, ringing church bells and firing church bells, followed that night with a torchlight parade.

Fort Marion and the town of St Augustine was reclaimed by Union Marines and Navy, who landed unopposed from the USS Wabash and USS Mohican on March 11th 1862.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Horse Breeder

Sanders Dewees Bruce an expert on horse breeding was made the Colonel of the Union 20th Kentucky Infantry January 6th 1862.

Sanders Dewees Bruce was born in Lexington, Kentucky August 18th 1825, the son of John Bruce.  He graduated in 1846 from Transylvania University and went in the mercantile business.  He served in the Kentucky State Militia as a Captain of the Lexington Chasseurs.

When the Civil War started Bruce decided to fight for the Union, despite other family member choosing to side with the Confederacy [his sister Rebeca was married to Confederate General John Hunt Morgan].  Bruce started his service as the Union Inspector General of the Kentucky Militia.  When the 20th Kentucky Infantry; which he helped recruit, was raised, he was mustered in as their Colonel on January 6th 1862.  In February of 1862 Bruce was in command of a Brigade in Union General William Bull Nelson’s Division of the Army of the Ohio.  Bruce led his Brigade when Nelson was ordered to reinforce Union General Ulysses S Grant at Pittsburg Landing during the Battle of Shiloh.  He would serve as post commander in Bowling Green, Kentucky and Clarksville, Tennessee.  When he resigned from Union service June 24th 1864, due to a stroke, he was serving as the Provost Marshal of Lexington, Kentucky.

After the war ended Bruce moved to New York City.  He published “The Turf, Field and Farm” a magazine where he used his knowledge of horse breeding.  He became a member of the Coney Island Jockey Club, and wrote the “American Stud Book” and “The Horsebreed’s Guide and Handbook”.  Bruce died January 31st 1902 in New York City; and is buried in Lexington Cemetery in Lexington, Kentucky.