Monday, March 31, 2014

Pushed Up The Hill

The Battle of Somerset or Dutton’s Hill was fought in central Kentucky March 31st 1863.

Confederate Brigadier General John Pegream led a force of cavalry in 1863 into the Lexington, Kentucky area.  Aware of the movement Union Brigadier General Quincy A Gillmore, an engineer and artillerist serving in the Department of Ohio, sought permission to lead a cavalry and mounted infantry force against Pegream.  Before Gillmore could make his move the Confederates had rounded up a few hundred cattle to be used for supplying hungry troops.

Gillmore finally got his troops moving, catching up with Pegram’s force on March 31st 1863 just outside of Somerset, Kentucky.  Union troops pushed Pegram’s men up Dutton’s Hill, where they made a stand. Union artillery was brought up, and the 45th Ohio Mounted Infantry successfully charge the Confederates on the hill.

Pegram was forced to retreat.  They moved south of the Cumberland River, leaving behind most of the captured cattle.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

An Engineer And Soldier

John Newton received his appointment to Union Major General March 30th 1863.

John Newton was born August 25th 1822 in Norfolk, Virginia the son of United States Congressman Thomas and Margaret (Jordan) Newton Jr.  He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating second in the class of 1842.  He was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers and taught the subject from 1843 to 1846 at the Academy.  After which Newton served in engineering work along the Atlantic coast, the Great Lakes, and the Gulf Coast.

When the Civil War began, Newton stayed loyal to the Union.  He helped with the construction of the defenses of Washington, DC.  He was leading a brigade during the Peninsula and Maryland Campaigns, and fought at the Battle of Antietam.  Newton had become a division commander in the VI Corps by the Battle of Fredericksburg.  He was among the officers who traveled to Washington, DC to complained to United States President Abraham Lincoln of their lack of confidence in their commander; Union Major General Ambrose E Burnside.  On March 30th 1863 Newton was appointed Major General.  He was wounded during the Chancellorsville Campaign at Salem Church.  During the Battle of Gettysburg Newton took command of the I Corps of the Army of the Potomac after the death of Union Major General John F Reynolds, and would continue in that position until the army was reorganized in 1864.  He was then placed in commanded of a division in the IV Corps during the Atlanta Campaign.  After this he was moved to command of the District of Key West, with his last campaign of the war a defeat at the Battle of Natural Bridge in Florida in March 1865.

After the war Newton returned to the Corps of Engineers.  He would oversee the improvements of the waters around New York City, and the Hudson River south of Albany, New York.  He was appointed Chief of Engineers in 1884.  On October 10th 1885 Newton used 140 tons of dynamite and blew up New York’s Hell Gate Rock.  He retired from the Army in 1886, serving as a Commissioner of Public Works in New York City, and as President of the Panama Railroad Company.  Newton died May 1st 1895 in New York City, New York, and is buried in the cemetery at West Point.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hay At The Station

The Skirmish at Stanwix Station on March 29th 1862 was the westernmost fight to occur during the Civil War.

On March 29th 1862 Union Captain William P Calloway and his detachment of 272 soldiers of the California Column moved toward Stanwix Station.  The Station had been a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail Stagecoach line and was built in 1850.  It is located about 80 miles east of Yuma, Arizona.  There had been fodder placed at the Station for the Column’s animals.   Upon approaching they discovered a detachment of Confederates being led by Second Lieutenant John W Swilling, burning the supplies at the Station.

There was a small skirmish with the larger Union force, forcing Swilling’s small band to retreat to Tucson in the Confederate held Territory of Arizona.  There was only one Union casualty reported, German born Private William Frank Semmelrogge, who would recover.  The burning of the hay at the Stanwix Station and five other former stagecoach stops along the Gila River had its desired effect of slowing the movement of the California Column’s advance, giving the Confederates time to evacuate Tucson.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Four Important Men

United States President Abraham Lincoln travel to City Point, Virginia and on March 28th 1865 [I have seen the date listed as March 27th] met with his Generals about the wrap up of the Civil War.

Union General William T Sherman’s troops were moving north up through the Carolinas, and Ulysses S Grant was about the break the 10 month long siege on Petersburg, Virginia that had been holding Confederate General Robert E Lee in place.  Lincoln had come to Virginia to meet with these men; he also toured the Union line in front of Petersburg, reviewed the troops and visited with the wounded.

On March 28th 1865 Lincoln, Grant, Sherman and Union Admiral David Dixon Porter sat down together on the USS River Queen.  This was the first time Lincoln and Sherman had ever met.  Lincoln explained his worries that Lee could break out of Petersburg, move his troops south, join up with Confederate General Joseph E Johnston’s Army in North Carolina, and the war would go on for many more months.  He was assured by Grant and Sherman that the end of the war was close, although Grant wrote after the war that he “was afraid every morning that I would wake from my sleep to hear that Lee had gone, and that nothing was left but his picket line.”  Lincoln then stressed that the Confederates’ surrender term had to preserve the Union, and uphold the emancipation.  He told the men that he wanted the “Confederate armies back to their homes, at work on their farms and in their shops. Let them have their horses to plow with, and, if you like, their guns to shoot crows with. I want no one punished; treat them liberally all round. We want those people to return to their allegiance to the Union and submit to the laws.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

An Adventuring Spirit

Union General Augustus Wade Dwight was killed March 26th 1865 in the attack on Fort Steadman.

Augustus Wade Dwight was born in Halifax, Vermont February 22nd 1827, the first child born to Morris and Minerva (Bryant) Dwight.  The family moved in 1829 so his father could practice medicine in Cummington, Massachusetts, then to Poughkeepsie, New York in 1839 and finally in 1840 to LaFayette, New York.  Dwight started at Yale College in 1851, but a lack of funds caused him leave by the second semester.  He went west to California, caught up in the gold rush.  While in California he studied for the law.  His adventuring spirit found him on a ship to Hawaii, then onto China, and finally back to the United States having circumnavigated the globe.  By 1859 Dwight had settle in Onondaga County, New York and had been admitted to the bar.

In 1862 when Lincoln called for more troops, Dwight volunteered.  He was made the Captain of Company E of the 122nd New York Infantry July 1862.  By August of 1862 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel under Colonel Silas Titus.  The regiment’s and Dwight’s first engagement was at the Battle of Antietam, where they were held in reserve.  The first heavy fighting came at the Battle of Gettysburg on Culp’s Hill.  Dwight sent reports of the war to the “Syracuse Journal” a local newspaper, as well as writing letters to relatives of men killed in action.  He was wounded the first time September 19th 1864 at the Battle of Opequon in the right thigh, then at the Battle of Cedar Creek a ball shattered his right wrist, and he was sent home to recover.  He rejoined his regiment in February 1865 in front of Petersburg, replacing Titus in command of the regiment.

In the early morning hours of March 26th 1865 the Confederates launched an attack on Fort Stedman, initially capturing the Union Fort.  The Union troops would retake the Fort, and in the afternoon Dwight’s regiment was ordered to take some Confederate trenches that had been weakened by the attack.  As the men moved forward, Dwight was hit in the head by artillery fire and killed instantly.  His body was returned home and is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, New York.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Resupply And Recruit

Nathan Bedford Forrest
Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest led a raid on the Ohio River in March, which included the Battle of Paducah on March 25th 1864.

Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest headed into Tennessee and Kentucky with about 3,000 men.  The object of this raid was to disrupt Union troops in the area, resupply and recruit.  They reached Paducah, Kentucky on March 25th 1864 and occupied the town.  Union troops in the town under the command of Colonel Stephen G Hicks, numbering around 650 men withdrew into Fort Anderson on the west side of Paducah.  Forrest tried to get the Union men to surrender, telling them "... if I have to storm your works, you may expect no quarter."  But with support of two gunboats on the Ohio River, Hicks would not surrender.

With Hicks men bottled up in the Fort, the Confederates rounded up horse and mules, and loaded Union Army supplies into wagons, destroying anything they couldn't take.  Some of Forrest’s men decided to attack the Fort, but they were repulsed with heavy casualties.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Headquarter And Escort Duty

Anderson Troop, a regiment of cavalry, sometimes identified at the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry was discharged from Union service on March 24th 1863.

Organized in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as an independent cavalry company, the Anderson Troop was mustered into union service November 30th 1861.  The men were recruited for three years’ service under the special authority of the United States Secretary of War.  It was placed under the command of Captain William Jackson Palmer, and was designated for headquarter and escort duty with Union General Robert Anderson in Kentucky.

The men moved to Louisville, Kentucky in December 1861.  They would be at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862.  The Troop took part General Don Carlos Buell’s Campaign in Alabama and Tennessee from June through August 1862 in connection with the 4th United States Cavalry.  They spent their time scouting the flanks of the Confederate troop and skirmishing with Confederate Cavalry.  The men would also be involved in Battles of Perryville, Wilkinson’s Cross Roads and Stones River.  During the Battle of Perryville three member of the Troop were captured carrying dispatches between Generals Alexander M McCook and Buell, but managed to destroy the messages before they fell into enemy hands.

The Troop was discharged from Union duty March 24th 1863.  Union General William S Rosecrans who ordered their discharge said of the Troop, "I part with you with as much regret as you yourselves may feel. You are young, and your behavior since I have been in command, gives promise of a career of usefulness and honor, whether in the service of your country, or in private life; may you realize your hopes, and the wishes of your friends."  During their service they had one 1 office killed; Lieutenant Evan W Grubb, and 5 men who died from disease.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

From An Old Albany Family

Union Brigadier General Henry Bell Van Rensselaer a New York State Representative and Congressman, died March 23rd 1864.

Henry Bell Van Rensselaer was born May 14th 1810 at the family manor in Albany, New York, the son of Stephen and Margaret (Schuyler) Van Rensselaer III.  He received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1831.  He served in the 5th United States Infantry until January 27th 1832, when he resigned his commission.  Van Rensselaer then settled near Ogdensburg, New York to be a gentleman farmer and serve as the military aide to New York State Governor William H Seward.  Running as a Whig, he was elected to Congress, serving from 1841 to 1843.

When the Civil War started Van Rensselaer rejoined the military, with the rank of Colonel, he was appointed to Chief of Staff for Union General Winfield Scott.  He served as the Union Inspector General from November 1861 until his death.  Van Rensselaer died March 23rd 1863 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He is buried in the Grace Episcopal Churchyard in Jamaica, Queens, New York.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Long Serving Military Man

Union Captain George Lucas Hartsuff was appointed assistant adjutant general March 22nd 1861 under the duty of General William S Rosecrans in West Virginia.

George Lucas Hartsuff was born May 28th1830 in Tyre, New York.  He moved with his family in 1842 to Michigan.  He received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating 19th in the class of 1852.  Hartsuff served in Texas and Florida and was wounded during the Seminole Indian Wars.  He survived the wreck of the steamer “the Lady Elgin” on Lake Michigan in September 8th 1860, while serving at Fort Mackinac.

When the Civil War started Hartsuff was sent on an expedition in April 1861 to reinforce Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida.  He received an appointment on March 22nd 1861 to Assistant Adjutant General under Union General William S Rosecrans in West Virginia, even briefly serving as Chief of Staff in the Mountain Department.  He was promoted to Brigadier General April 15th 1862, serving in the III Corps of the Armies of Virginia and the Potomac, where he would lead men at the Battles of Cedar Mountain and Second Bull Run.  He was wounded in the hip during the Battle of Antietam.  With another promotion to Major General, Hartsuff was back in duty, commanding the XXIII Corps in the Army of the Ohio by May 28th 1863.  At the end of the Civil War he was commanding the defenses at Bermuda Hundred in the Army of the James.

Hartsuff mustered out of the Union volunteer army and went back to service in the United States Army on August 24th 1865 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  Do to disabilities relating to old battle wounds he resigned his command on June 29th 1871.  Hartsuff left the service with the rank of Major General.  He died of pneumonia May 16th 1874 in New York City and is buried in the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery at West Point.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Trade Point To Mexico

Fort Duncan in Texas, also called Camp Eagle Pass was abandoned by Union troops March 20th 1861.

A temporary post was established at a strategic point on the east bank of the Rio Grande River known as Eagle Pass, at the beginning of the Mexican American War in 1846.  The permanent post was built there and name Fort Duncan after a Mexican American War hero, Colonel James Duncan.  The post was garrisoned on March 27th 1849 by United States Captain Sidney Burbank with three infantry companies.  The Fort was important because of its location on the California Road, a significant trade crossing into Mexico.  In May 1859 the United States Secretary of War John B Floyd order the Fort abandoned, but United States Lieutenant Colonel Robert E Lee had the Fort reoccupied in March 1860.

With the start of the Civil War the Fort’s Union troops abandoned the post on March 20th 1861.  It was occupied within a short time by Confederates using Texas Rangers and volunteers, the name changed to Rio Grande Station.  It would serve throughout the war as an important point of trade between the Confederacy and Mexico, with cotton going out and weapons coming in.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The End Of The Carolinia Fighting

The Battle of Bentonville a part of the Carolinians Campaign was fought March 19th through 21st 1865 near Four Oaks, North Carolina.

Union General William T Sherman split his army into two wings, with the right wing commanded by Major General Oliver O Howard, and the left wing under Major General Henry W Slocum.  Slocum’s men ran across entrenched troops belonging to Confederate General Joseph E Johnston army at Bentonville, North Carolina.

In the late afternoon of March 19th 1865 the Confederates attacked the XIV Corps, routing two divisions.  It was only through counterattacks and hard fighting south of the Goldsborough Road that the Confederate offensive was slowed. Parts of the XX Corps entered the fight as they arrived on the field.  The fighting ended with coming darkness, and after the Confederates had made five assaults without dislodging the Union men.  Johnston reformed his line during the night into a “V” placing Mill Creek in his rear.

Sherman sent in reinforcements on March 20th 1865.  He expected that Johnston would withdraw his troops, but everyone held their position with some minor skirmishing.

Union Major General Joseph A Mower took his Division on March 21st 1865 down a narrow road into Johnson’s rear and made an attack.  The Confederates were able to drive off Mower’s men, and Mower rejoined the rest of Sherman’s men.  Johnston withdrew from the field during the night.  The casualties reported were 3,092 on the Confederate side and 1,646 for the Union troops.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Youngest Raider

Union Private Jacob Wilson Parrott, a member of Andrews’ Raiders, was exchanged along with other members of the Raiders on March 17th 1863 for Confederate soldiers at Camp Point, Virginia.

Jacob Wilson Parrott was born July 17th 1843 in Fairfield County, Ohio, the son of George and Anna (Landfair) Parrett Jr.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Parrott joined the 90 day 20th Ohio Infantry.  When the term of service was up he went home to Kenton, Ohio where he enlisted in Company K of the 33rd Ohio Infantry.  His first combat was November 8th 1861 during the Battle of Ivy Mountain.

In April 1862 when James J Andrews was looking for volunteers to take part in his raid, Parrott joined with 21 other men, becoming known as Andrews’ Raiders.  The Raiders slipped 200 miles south behind Confederate lines and hijacked the train “The General”.  Parrott was among the men who were captured during the raid.  While being held as a prisoner he was beaten numerous times in an attempt to get him to talk.  Parrott even escaped once with fourteen others, but was recaptured.  He was part of a prisoner exchanged March 17th 1863.

After the exchange Parrott was taken to Washington, DC where he met with President Abraham Lincoln.  Parrott, the youngest surviving member of Andrews’ Raiders, was the first man to receive the Medal of Honor.  He would serve out the rest of the war ending as a First Lieutenant.

When the war ended Parrott returned to his home in Ohio.  He ran a stone quarry and worked as a cabinet maker.  While walking home on December 22nd 1908, he had a heart attack and died.  Parrott is buried in the Grove Cemetery in Kenton, Ohio.

Parrott’s Medal of Honor citation reads: One of the 19 of 22 men (including 2 civilians) who, by direction of Gen. Mitchell (or Buell) penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train at Big Shanty, Ga., in an attempt to destroy the bridges and tracks between Chattanooga and Atlanta.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

If I Had Ten Thousand Lives

Albert Hazlett, one of John Brown’s raiders was executed March 16th 1860, even though he wasn’t with Brown during the Harper’s Ferry raid.

Albert Hazlett was born September 21st 1837 in Pennsylvania.  He worked on his brother’s farm in Pennsylvania, before moving to Kansas.  He was described as a good sized and fine looking man.

Hazlett wasn’t with John Brown on the morning of October 18th 1859 when Robert E Lee and a company of United States Marines brought an end to Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry.  Hazlett and another man; Osborne Anderson left Harpers Ferry the night before undetected.  The two men headed north into Pennsylvania.  Hazlett, who assumed the name William Harrison, was arrested October 22nd 1859 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.  He was brought before a judge in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, but was unable to convince the judge that they had the wrong person.  The judge ruled that while “there is no evidence that we have any man in our custody named Albert Hazlett, we are satisfied that a monstrous crime has been committed [and] that the prisoner…participated in it.”  Hazlett was sent back to Charlestown, Virginia for trail.

He was found guilty.  Hazlett was executed March 16th 1860.  The night before his execution Hazlett wrote to a Mrs. Rebecca Spring, that it gives “me great comfort to know that my body would be taken from this land of chains.... I am willing to die in the cause of liberty, if I had ten thousand lives I would willingly lay them all down for the same cause."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Frantic Mothers And Kindred

The Confederate States Laboratory, which produced ammunition, had an explosion March 13th 1863 killing 40 and injuring 23 others.

The Confederate States Laboratory was an ordnance factory, which was located on Brown’s Island in the James River near Richmond, Virginia.  The Laboratory was started by Confederate Captain Wesley Smith in 1861.  They made cartridges, caps, fuses, grenades, signal rockets, and primers for the Confederate Army.  Smith started by hiring just few workers, getting them well trained and then hire more as needed.  Most of his workers were female aged 9 to 20.  They turn out on average about 1,200 cartridges in a day.

On March 13th 1863 sometime before noon the roar of the explosion was heard in Richmond, Virginia, but it wasn’t until dark smoke appeared that people headed to the island.  The Richmond Examiner wrote in its paper, “A tide of human beings, among them the frantic mothers and kindred of the employees in the laboratory, immediately set towards the bridge leading to the island, but the Government authorities, soonest apprised of the disaster, had already taken possession of the bridge, and planting a guard of soldiers, allowed passage to none except the workmen summoned to rescue the dead and wounded from the ruins.”

The building; in which the explosion occurred, was blown to pieces.  Once the flames were put out around 12 bodies were removed from the wreckage.  Out of the rest of the women all were in agony, with their hair and clothes burned away, many blinded, many unrecognizable.  Out of these another 28 would die within days.  Several of the women who were on fire, jumped into the river, where one drowned.  One woman whose clothing was on fire ran toward another building where large amounts of gunpowder were stored, but was luckily stopped by a male employee, saving many more lives.

The explosion is blamed on 18 year old Mary Ryan an Irish immigrant.  Witnesses say she was trying free a primer which was stuck to a varnishing board, by rapping on a table.  The primer went off and blew her to the ceiling; she came down and then was blown up again.  She died at her father’s home later and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.  The Laboratory was back up and running by December 1863.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Miss Managed And Failed

A force of Union infantry started moving up the Red River in Louisiana on March 12th 1864 in what turned out to be a miss managed and failed campaigned.

The Red River Campaign had several goals, including the Union capture of the land along the Red River in Louisiana and Texas, and as a warning to the French government that had been set up in Mexico.  The plan called for Union Admiral David Dixon Porter to move up the Red River with 20 gunboats, while Union General Nathaniel P Bank followed along the western shore of the river with 27,000 troops.  Porter’s flotilla entered the river March 12th 1864.

Fort Derussy fell to Porter’s force two days later and he moved on up the river to Alexandria.  Banks however didn’t move his troops very fast, taking him two weeks to reach Alexandria.  Banks then pushed his troops about 20 miles from the river losing the protection of Porter’s ships.  Banks’ force was attacked April 8th 1864 by Confederate General Richard A Taylor, with the Union troops having to retreat back down the Red River.  By this time the water level had dropped in the Red River and Porter’s ships were stuck above some rapids.

The campaign was ruled a failure.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Wisconsin Military Man

Wm Hawley with his staff
Union Colonel William Hawley was made the commander of the 3rd Wisconsin Infantry March 10th 1863.

William Hawley was born August 19th 1824 in Porter, New York.  Hawley served during the Mexican American War with the rank of Sergeant.  He moved to Madison, Wisconsin in 1854, where he went into the furniture business.

When the Civil War started Hawley received a commission in the Union Army.  He helped to raise the 3rd Wisconsin Infantry.  It was made up mostly of Scandinavians and mustered into Union service in June 1861 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin with Hawley as the Captain of Company K.  He was promoted to Colonel and take command of the 3rd on March 10th 1863.   He would be with the men at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Sherman’s March to the Sea, and finally the Grand Review in Washington, DC in May 1865.  He mustered out of service on July 18th 1865.

After the war Hawley tried a business in Flint, Michigan before rejoining the United States Army, serving as a Second Lieutenant in the 11th United States Infantry, being stationed in Virginia.  He was promoted to First Lieutenant on December 6th 1866.  He would serve in Louisiana, Texas and the Dakota Territory.

Traveling back east in December 1872 he was caught in a blizzard got frostbitten and came close to dying from exposure.  Hawley died in Buffalo, New York January 15th 1873 after a short illness.  He is buried in the Glenwood Cemetery in Flint, Michigan.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Ship Of Free Men

The United States Supreme Court affirmed the ruling to return the Africans who had been on the Amistad to their home land on March 9th 1841.

The United States v. Libellants and Claimant of the Schooner Amistad was an important suit regarding freedom and slavery.  The schooner the Amistad was somewhere along the coast of Cuba carrying a cargo of Africans from Sierra Leone who had been sold into slavery.  The Africans escaped their bonds and took over the ship on July 1st 1839, killing the ship’s captain and cook.  The Africans then made the remaining crew return them to Africa, but the crew instead sailed north during the night.  The Amistad was taken into custody on August 24th 1839 by the United States Revenue Cutter Service ship the USS Washington near Long Island, New York.

The court cases which followed through to the Supreme Court help fuel the abolitionist movement. The Federal District Court found in 1840 that the Africans had been transported in violation of laws and treaties.  It was ruled that the Africans were free men and had a right to fight and escape from their illegal confinement.  Under sectional and international pressure United States President Martin Van Buren had this ruling appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling on March 9th 1841, and ruled the Africans from the Amistad should be returned to their homeland.  Supporters of the Africans found them housing in Farmington, Connecticut and raised funds for the African and some missionaries to travel back to Africa.

If you are interested in reading more on this topic, check Amistad: The Federal Courts and the Challenge to Slavery

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Connecticut Men

The 29th Connecticut Infantry was mustered into Union service March 8th 1864.

Recruitment for the 29th Connecticut Infantry, an African American unit, began on August 11th 1863, and continued through to the end of the year.  Due to a lack of officers they weren’t mustered into Union service until March 8th 1864.  The former Lieutenant Colonel of the 20th Connecticut Infantry; Colonel William B Wooster was place in command of the 29th.  The ladies of New Haven, Connecticut presented the men with a regimental flag just before they left for Annapolis, Maryland.

The men received their Springfield muskets on April 6th 1864.  Three days later they were assigned to the IV Corps and sent to Hilton Head, South Carolina.  By August the men of the 29th found themselves in the trenches in front of Petersburg, Virginia.  On September 29th 1864 they were engaged in the taking of Fort Harrison about seven miles from Richmond.  They were holding the line at Fort Harrison on the afternoon of April 2nd 1865 when they watched last Confederate dress parade.  The 29th was among the first Union troops to enter Richmond after the Confederates evacuated the city.

On April 18th 1865 the 29th sailed to Point Lockout, Maryland, where they guarded Confederate prisoners of war until May 28th 1865.  They then sailed  to Brazos de Santiago, Texas on July 3rd 1865, marching to Brownsville, Texas where they served out their duty until ordered back to Connecticut for mustering out on October 14th 1865.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Unutterably Detestable Like The Yankee Flag

The Confederacy’s first official flag, known as the “Stars and Bars” was first flown on March 4th 1861.

The Provisional Confederate Congress created the Committee of the Flag and Seal among its first acts.  The Committee was chaired by William Porcher Miles of South Carolina.  Miles designed what would become the Confederate battle flag, but an overwhelming request to not abandon the old flag of the United States, caused the Committee to choose the similarly styled “Stars and Bars”.  It was flown for the first time on March 4th 1861 over the dome of the Confederate capitol at Montgomery, Alabama.

The “Stars and Bars” was designed by the Prussian artist Nicola Marschall [there is an equal claim made by Orrin Randolph Smith of Henderson, North Carolina].  The flag is shown with between 7 and 15 stars, based on how many states have joined the Confederacy.  This was the flag which flew over Fort Sumter when the Confederacy took control Charleston Harbor.

There were criticisms of the “Stars and Bars” due to its resemblance to the Union flag on the battlefield.  By January 1862 George William Bagby of the Southern Literary Messenger, wrote "Everybody wants a new Confederate flag.  The present one is universally hated. It resembles the Yankee flag and that is enough to make it unutterably detestable."  The Confederacy discontinued the use of the flag in May 1863.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Impenetrability But No Corresponding Destructiveness

Rear Admiral Samuel F DuPont
The First Battle of Fort McAllister in Bryan County, Georgia was on March 3rd 1863.

Union Rear Admiral Samuel F DuPont ordered four ironclads, the USS Montauk, Nahant, Passaic, and Patapsco to fire on the small three gun earthworks battery located within the Confederate defenses of Fort McAllister.  The goal of this firing was to test the ships guns and determine their effectiveness against an earthen shore battery.

Fort McAllister was ordered to be built on July 7th 1861, using available materials, mostly sand and mud.  It was armed with one rifled 32 pounder a 42 pounder and an eight inch Columbiad.

On March 3rd 1863 at about 8:30 in the morning, the four ironclads opened fire with an eight hour long bombardment.  The shelling did some damage to the battery, but did not destroy it.  Two Confederates in the Fort were slightly wounded. The ships held up well under the return fire from the fort, suffering only a few minor dents.  It also showed that the Fort wouldn't fall to a strictly naval attack, as most the damage was repaired by the next day.  DuPont, reported that, "Whatever degree of impenetrability the monitors might have, there was no corresponding quality of destructiveness against forts."

Fort McAllister would finally fall into Union hand on December 13th 1864, when Union General William Tecumseh Sherman captured the Fort by land. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Controversial Death

Union Colonel Ulric Dahlgren was killed during a raid on the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia on March 2nd 1864.

Ulric Dahlgren was the son of Rear Admiral John A and Madeleine (Vinton) Dahlgren, and was born April 3rd 1842 in Neshaminy, Buck County, Pennsylvania.  After graduating from school in 1858, he went to work as a civil engineer, surveying some lands in Mississippi.  In 1860 he began studying law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

When the Civil War started, Dahlgren served on the military staffs of Franz Sigel, Ambrose E Burnside, Joseph Hooker and George G Meade.  He precipitated in reconnaissance during the Battle of Chancellorsville, and scouted Confederate lines throughout the Gettysburg Campaign.  On July 6th 1863 while fighting as part of the cavalry in Union General H Judson Kilpatrick’s division Dahlgren was wounded and lost his foot.  He was back in the saddle with a promotion to Colonel by February 1864.  While on a cavalry raid near the King and Queen County Court House, Dahlgren was killed March 2nd 1864, being shot in the side and back.  His body was hidden by Union sympathizers.  It was recovered by the family after the war and buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

There were papers found on Dahlgren’s body that contained signed orders written on Union stationery, of which read, "The men must keep together and well in hand, and once in the city it must be destroyed and Jeff. Davis and Cabinet killed."  These papers were reprinted in European and American newspapers, causing a great deal of controversy.