Saturday, May 31, 2014

He Changed His Position

Confederate Colonel Robert Hopkins Hatton was killed May 31st 1862 at the Battle of Fair Oaks [also called the Battle of Seven Pines].

Robert Hopkins Hatton was born November 2nd 1826 in Steubenville, Ohio.  While still a child his family moved to Tennessee.  He would receive a degree from the Cumberland University, pass the bar and begin a law practice in Lebanon, Tennessee in 1850.  He became a member of the Whig Party and won a seat in the Tennessee State Legislature in 1855 and to the United States Congress in 1858.  While in Congress Hatton was the chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Navy.

Hatton wished to see the Union preserved and opposed secession, but after President Abraham Lincoln made his call for troops Hatton changed his position.  He raised the Lebanon Blues, which became a part of the 7th Tennessee Infantry, and was elected the Colonel of the Regiment.  In 1862 Hatton and the 7th were part of the troops protecting Richmond, Virginia from Union Major General George B McClellan during the Peninsula Campaign.

On May 31st 1862 while leading troops at the Battle of Fair Oaks, Hatton was shot in the head and killed.  His body was sent back to Tennessee, but as Middle Tennessee was held by the Union his body was temporarily placed in Knoxville.  He would be reentered in 1866 in the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The First Seventh

Union BG Thomas A Morris
The 7th Indiana Infantry was sent to Grafton, Virginia on May 30th 1861, and just four days later was in battle.

The 7th Indiana Infantry was organized in Indianapolis, Indiana in April 1861 as a three month regiment.  The men were shipped to Grafton, Virginia on May 30th 1861.  On June 3rd 1861 the men of the 7th took part the Battle of Philippi, one of the first battles of the Civil War.

The men of the 7th were placed in Union Major General George B McClellan’s Army of West Virginia, in Brigadier General Thomas A Morris’ Indiana Brigade.  They would see almost continuous action from July 6th through 17th 1861 at the Battles of Laurel Hill, Belington, Corrick’s Ford and in the pursuit of Confederate Brigadier General Robert S Garnett’s troops.

The 7th mustered out of service on August 2nd 1861.  The 7th was reorganized on September 13th 1861 in Indianapolis, Indiana into a three year regiment.  The original 7th had one man killed in action and two who died from disease.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Just Damage The Bridge

The First Battle of Pocotaligo was fought in Yemassee, South Carolina on May 29th 1862, with the Union objective of disrupting the Charleston and Savannah Railroad.

A Union detachment commanded by Colonel Benjamin C Christ and made up of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, 8th Michigan Infantry, 79th New York Infantry, and 50th Pennsylvania moved out from Beaufort, South Carolina on May 29th 1862, toward the Charleston and Savannah Railroad.  As they moved toward Pocotaligo, the Union troops began pushing in Confederate pickets.  Reaching Pocotaligo the Union troops, where they found the bridge destroyed, there was some heavy fighting.  About 300 of the Union troops got across the river, and drove the Confederates into the woods.

As the Union mission, which was to destroy the bridge; had been obtained, the Union force withdrew.  Union casualties were 2 killed and 9 wounded, while the Confederates reported losses of 2 killed, 6 wounded and 1 man missing. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Both Claimed A Victory

The Battle of Haw’s Shop [also called the Battle of Enon Church] was fought in Hanover County, Virginia May 28th 1864.

Union General Ulysses S Grant abandoned his line at North Anna, after fighting Confederate General Robert E Lee’s force there, and swung once again, trying to flank the Confederates.  Lee moved his troops quickly, and sent out cavalry to gather intelligence about the Union movement.

Confederate Major General Wade Hampton, who was scouting the Union troops, ran into Union cavalry under the command of Brigadier General David M Gregg on May 28th 1864 at Enon Church near Hanovertown, Virginia bring on the Battle of Haw’s Shop.  Although both sides were cavalry they fought predominately dismounted.  Both sides used earthworks in the area, and neither could gain an advantage.  Greg received reinforcements from Union Brigadier General Alfred T Torbert’s New Jersey division.  As the seven hour fight was wrapping up with Hampton withdrawing his men, Union Brigadier General George A Custer launched an attack, that brought everything to an end.

The Battle of Haw’s Shop was inconclusive, with both sides claiming victory.  Union Cavalry Corps commander Major General Philip H Sheridan felt his men had won as they drove Hampton from the field, but Hampton had held up the Union cavalry for seven hours and was able to provide Lee with intel about the Union Army.  The Union force reported 344 casualties, including Private John Huff of the 5th Michigan Cavalry, who fatally shot Confederate major General JEB Stuart a few weeks earlier at the Battle of Yellow Tavern.  Confederate casualties were unofficially counted about 400.

Friday, May 23, 2014

At A Crossing

The Battle of Jericho Mills a part of Grants Overland Campaign was fought May 23rd 1864 between the Union V Corps and a part of AP Hill’s Corps.
After the fighting at Spotsylvania Court House came to end Union General Ulysses S Grant moved to flank Confederate General Robert E Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.  He was brought up short by Lee’s “Hog Snout Line” along the North Anna River.  At that point Grant divided the Army of the Potomac into three parts.

Union General Gouverneur K Warren reached Mount Carmel Church on the morning of May 23rd 1864.  He stopped his V Corps which caused Union General Winfield S Hancock’s II Corps to come up behind and get tangled on the road.  The two commanders decided that the II Corps would move down Telegraph Road while the V Corps would cross the North Anna at Jericho Mills.

As they moved down the Telegraph Road, Union Major David B Birney’s division of the II Corps began to take fire.  He deployed two brigades and attacked.  They also called up artillery which opened fire on Confederate Colonel Edward P Alexander’s artillery.  It was during this duel that Lee was just missed by a cannonball which lodged in the door frame near him, and Alexander was hit by bricks from the chimney which was hit by Union shells.  At 6pm the Union troops charged, overwhelming the Confederate at the bridge.  With Alexander’s artillery still lying down a heavy fire, the Union troops did not cross the bridge, but entrenched on the north side of the river.

Meanwhile at Jericho Mills, the V Corps found the North Anna ford unprotected.  Warren sent Union Brigadier General Charles Griffin’s Division across the river while the rest the Corps crossed by 4:30 pm on a pontoon bridge.  Finding out from a captured Confederate that there was a force nearby on the Virginia Central Railroad, Warren deployed for battle.  Lee felt that Warren’s movement was a feint and so had AP Hill send a single division under Major General Cadmus M Wilcox, with artillery commanded by Colonel William J Pegram.  The Confederates struck Warren’s Corps hard, breaking their line and causing them to flee to the rear where they came up against the bluffs along the river.  Warren’s Corps was saved in part by Union Colonel Charles S Wainwright’s artillery which laid down a deadly fire on the Confederates.  It was also at about this time that Union Brigadier General Joseph J Bartlett led his 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry against the right flank of the Confederate line causing them to retreat and leaving that part of the line untenable.  Seeing that reinforcements from Confederate Major General Henry Heth would not reach the field in time, Wilcox had his men withdraw.

Wilcox was greatly outnumbered with about 6,000 men to the Union’s 15,000.  There were about 730 Confederate casualties, while the Union reported 377.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The First Killed

The first Union soldier killed by a Confederate soldier was Thornsbury Bailey Brown; he was killed May 22nd 1861 in Taylor County, Virginia.

Thornsbury Bailey Brown was born May 15th 1829.  He lived in the Taylor County, Virginia.

Union Lieutenant Daniel Wilson and Brown, both members of the Grafton Guards; which would become a part of the 2nd West Virginia Infantry, on May 22nd 1861 attended a recruiting rally in Pruntytown, Virginia.  The two men were returning to Grafton, Virginia in the evening when they encountered three members of the Confederate Letcher Guards; which would become of the 25th Virginia Infantry, George E Glenn, Daniel Knight, and William Reese.  The three men where on picket duty at the Fetterman Bridge, a crossing located on the Northwestern Turnpike and the tracks of the Baltimore of Ohio Railroad.

The three pickets ordered Brown and Wilson to halt; instead Brown fired a pistol at the Confederates.   The shot apparently hit Knight in the ear.  The Confederates then opened fire on Brown and Wilson, killing Brown.  The Letcher Guards took Brown’s body to their camp and turned it over to their commander Colonel George A Porterfield.  The commander of the Grafton Guards Captain George R Latham led his men toward the Confederate camp planning to take the body back, by force if necessary.  They met the Confederates returning Brown body.

Brown was buried at first in a family plot.  His body was moved the Grafton National Cemetery in Grafton, West Virginia in 1903.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Cavalry Man

Confederate Brigadier General Albert Gallatin Jenkins died May 21st 1864, from wounds received at the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain.

Albert Gallatin Jenkins was born November 10th 1830 in Cabell County, Virginia, the son of Captain William and Jeanette Grigsby (McNutt) Jenkins.  He attended Marshall Academy, and graduated from both Jefferson College, and Harvard Law School.  Jenkins was admitted to the bar in 1850 and set up a practice in Charleston, Virginia.  In 1859 he inherited a part of his father plantation, and would be elected to serve as a Democratic United States Congressman.

When the Civil War started and Virginia seceded, Jenkins returned home from Congress, and raised a company of mounted rangers.  By June 1861 Jenkins’ company was part of the 8th Virginia Cavalry and Jenkins was their Lieutenant Colonel.  He served as a delegate to the First Confederate Congress, but was back in the saddle with a promotion to Brigadier General on August 1st 1862.  In September of that year Jenkins’ cavalry made a raid into Ohio near Buffington Island, as well as raiding throughout northern Kentucky and West Virginia.  In December 1862 Confederate General Robert E Lee had Jenkins with his men moved to the Shenandoah Valley.  During the Gettysburg Campaign Jenkins’ cavalry was the screen for Confederate General Richard S Ewell’s Corps, seizing the railroad in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and fighting in the Battle of Sporting Hill near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  He was wounded on July 2nd 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg, which kept him out of action for most of the rest of the year.

In 1864 Jenkins raised and organized a large cavalry force, and by May was the Commander of the Department of Western Virginia.  Learning of a Union force moving from the Kanawha Valley under the command of Brigadier General George Crook, Jenkins moved to intercept.  On May 9th 1864 Jenkins was wounded and captured during the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain, his arm was amputated but he didn’t recover.  He died May 21st 1864 and was buried in the New Dublin Presbyterian Cemetery.  His body would be moved later to the Confederate plot in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington, West Virginia.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Completely Under Military Rule

The Battle of Pogue’s Run, more of an uprising then a battle took place May 20th 1863 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Governor of Indiana, Oliver Morton, who was a Republican, reported hearing of a plot to overthrow the state government by the Knights of the Golden Circle.  As the Knights were a Democratic group, Morton had Union troops stationed at the Democratic State Convention.

As Thomas A Hendricks was speaking on May 20th 1863 in front of about 10,000 conventioneers, several Union soldiers advanced on the podium with bayonets fixed and rifles cocked.  This action broke up the convention, sending the crowd scattering.  A fence was pushed down on the east of the state house as the crowd fled.  Adding to the rush of bodies was a squad of Union cavalry moving down Tennessee Street.  Under threat from the Union soldiers, Hendricks closed his speech, had the resolutions read and the meeting dismissed.  Soldiers seized several individuals, marching them up a few streets to frighten them.  A number of other men were taken in custody for carrying concealed weapons and arrested.

That night many of the Democratic Conventioneers left town on trains.  There were a number of shots fired from these departing trains with the attention to create a further disturbance.  A train on the Indiana Central Railroad was stopped and boarded by a number of soldiers and police, who demanded that all weapons be surrendered.  A train going to Cincinnati was also stopped, with the men on board throwing their guns off the train and into Pogue’s Run.  Thinking that the soldiers wouldn't search women, many men gave their guns to ladies.  One single woman was found hiding seven guns on her person.  Before the round up was finished about 500 loaded guns were confiscated from those who had attended the Democratic Convention.  A local Democratic newspaper the “Indianapolis Sentinel” reported on the incident this way, "It is with feelings of sorrow, humiliation and degradation that we witnessed the scenes of yesterday. . . . Indiana is as completely under military rule as France, Austria or Russia".

Monday, May 12, 2014

An English Sailor

Union sailor George H Bell a Medal of Honor recipient, joined the Union Navy May 12th 1861 while the ship he was serving on, was docked in New York City.

George H Bell was born March 12th 1839 in Sunderland, England.  His family moved to Newcastle, England in the 1840’s and at the age of 14, Bell began a maritime career.  Over the next several years he would sail on vessels in most of the world’s oceans.

A ship Bell was sailing on docked in New York City at the beginning of the Civil War, and on May 12th 1861 he enlisted in the Union Navy.  By July 1861 Bell was an able seaman on the USS Santee, but past naval experience found him quickly promoted to coxswain.  On November 7th 1861 in an early naval action in Galveston Bay, Texas, Bell distinguished himself in the destruction of the Confederate CSS Royal Yacht.  He would be awarded the Medal of Honor for this action in 1863.

Bell returned to England after the war.  He died September 26th 1917, and is buried in Newcastle, England.

Bell's Medal of Honor citation reads: “Served as pilot of the U.S.S. Santee when that vessel was engaged in cutting out the rebel armed schooner Royal Yacht from Galveston Bay, 7 November 1861, and evinced more coolness, in passing the 4 forts and the rebel steamer General Rusk, than was ever before witnessed by his commanding officer. "Although severely wounded in the encounter, he displayed extraordinary courage under the most painful and trying circumstances."

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Heavy Push

The Battle of Swift Creek was part of a push made by Union Major General Benjamin F Butler towards Petersburg, and was fought May 9th 1864.

Confederate General Bushrod R Johnson had a division on the south side of Swift Creek in a defensive position.   Johnson’s men were between Union Major General Benjamin Butler’s force and Petersburg, Virginia.  Butler pushed toward Swift Creek on May 9th 1864 and was met at Arrowfield Church, just north of Swift Creek by a Confederate attack.  The Union troops deployed along the railroad and turnpike.  The Confederate 21st South Carolina Infantry made a charge across the bridge and up the turnpike toward the Union troops and were fired on by an artillery battery.  The Union troops pushed the Confederates back delivering them heavy losses.  Butler didn’t follow up the attack, but settled into skirmishing and tearing up the nearby railroad tracks.

During the night Butler had his troops withdraw.  The Confederates made repairs to the railroad and had it running the next day.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

An Old New Yorker

Union General James Samuel Wadsworth died May 8th 1864 from wounds received two days earlier at the Battle of the Wilderness.

James Samuel Wadsworth was born October 30th 1807, the son of James Wadsworth in Geneseo, Livingston, New York.  He studied law at both Harvard and Yale, and was admitted to the bar.  He didn't set up a practice; instead Wadsworth managed the family’s estate.  He would enter politics as a Democrat, but then became one of the organizers of the Free Soil Party, and finally a Republican.  In 1861 Wadsworth was a member of the Peace Conference.

When the Civil War became inevitable, Wadsworth volunteered his service to the Union.  He served as an aide-de-camp at the First Battle of Bull Run to Union Major General Irvin McDowell.  McDowell recommended Wadsworth for command, and with the rank of Brigadier General on October 3rd 1861 he began commanding the 2nd Brigade of 3rd Division of the 1st Corps.  From March 17th to September 7th 1862 Wadsworth had command of the Military District of Washington, and had a hand in holding troops for its defense against the wishes of Major General George B McClellan.  After having stepped on McClellan’s toes, Wadsworth could see no prospect in McClellan’s army, and so put his name into the running for Governor of New York State.  After McClellan was replaced at the head of the Army of the Potomac, and Wadsworth had lost the election to Democrat Horatio Seymour, he took the command of the First Division in the 1st Corps.  He was well thought of by his men.  As the leader of his new division, they were only marginally involved at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863.  At the Battle of Gettysburg, his division was the first Union infantry troops to arrive on the field on July 1st 1863, and was heavily engaged, loosing over 50% of their strength that day.  They would also fight on the second day.

When the spring 1864 Campaign began, the Army of the Potomac was reorganized, and Wadsworth became the commander of the 4th Division in the V Corps.  At the Battle of the Wilderness, Wadsworth was the oldest Union divisional command at 56.  On May 5th 1864 his division was ordered to defend the left of the Union line, but lost their way in the thick underbrush, exposing his left flank to an attack.  Then on May 6th 1864 while placing two of his brigades, Wadsworth was shot in the back of head, he fell from his horse and was captured by the Confederates.  Wadsworth would die in a Confederate field hospital two days later on May 8th 1864.  His son-in-law Montgomery Harrison Ritchie would cross line under a flag of truce to retrieve his body.  He is buried in the Temple Hill Cemetery in Geneseo, New York.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

First Fire In Virginia

Flag Officer Garrett Pendergrast
The Battle of Gloucester Point in Virginia occurred on May 7th 1861 and is reported to be the earliest action of the Civil War to take place in Virginia.

In early May 1861 it came to the attention of the Union Navy that a Confederate leaning force was building fortifications at Gloucester Point, Virginia.  On May 7th 1861 Union Flag Officer Garrett J Pendergrast ordered an examination of the area.  He sent Navy Lieutenant Thomas O Selfridge Jr, who commanded the USS Yankee a converted steam tug, up the York River on a reconnaissance of the area.  As the Yankee pulled to within about 2,000 yards of Gloucester Point a shore battery fired a shot across the tug’s bow.  Selfridge continued his course and the guns on shore fired at them again.

The battery on the shore; manned by the Virginia State Richmond Howitzers under the command of Lieutenant John Thompson Brown, fired between 12 and 13 shots at the Union tug.  The Yankee returned fire on the battery, but couldn't get the elevation, and his guns were too small to have done much damage anyway.  After firing on each other, the Yankee turned around and headed back to its base near Fort Monroe.

There were no reported injuries.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Friendly Fire Part Two

Confederate General Micah Jenkins died from a wound May 6th 1864, received during the Battle of the Wilderness.

Micah Jenkins was born December 1st 1835 on Edisto Island, South Carolina, the son of John and Elizabeth Jenkins.  He graduated in 1854 from the South Carolina Military Academy [the Citadel], first in his class.  Jenkins was a member of the Yorkville Episcopal Church.  He worked to organize, and founded along with Asbury Coward in 1855, the King’s Mountain Military Academy.

As the Civil War got started Jenkins recruited and became the Colonel of the 5th South Carolina.  They were present for the First Battle of Manassas.  During the Battle of Seven Pines, Jenkins took command of Richard Anderson brigade after Anderson was wounded, leading it with distinction until he wounded in the knee.  He was promoted to Brigadier General July 22nd 1862.  Jenkins was wound again at the Second Battle of Manassas in the abdomen and chest, which kept him out of the Battle of Antietam.  He was back with the army in time for the Battle of Fredericksburg, serving in Confederate Major General George Pickett’s division, but wasn't engaged.  Jenkins brigade went with Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet to Tennessee, taking part in the second day of the Battle of Chickamauga on September 20th 1863.  On January 16th 1864, he led his men in a victory against Union cavalry at the Battle of Kimbrough’s Crossroads.

At the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6th 1864, Jenkins was riding with Longstreet and some other staff officers at about 1pm when they were hit with friendly fire coming from the 12th Virginia.  It occurred very near the place where Confederate General Thomas J Jackson was struck down a year before.  Jenkins was hit in forehead, with the ball entering his brain.  He remained semiconscious, but unknowing, dying of his wounds six hours later.  He was buried first in Summerville, South Carolina, but in 1881 was moved to the Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

To The Confederacy, Before Leaving The Union

Confederate Brigadier General William Stephen Walker resigned his captain’s commission with the 1st United States Cavalry May 1st 1861.

William Stephen Walker was born April 13th 1822 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.  He was raised by an uncle; Robert J Walker, in Mississippi and Washington, DC, where that uncle served as the Secretary of the Treasury for President James K Polk.  Walker received his education in private schools.  At the start of the Mexican American War he was appointed to First Lieutenant, and assigned to the 1st United States Voltiguers.  For his action at the Battle of Chapultepec, Walker received a brevet to Captain.  He was discharge from service following the end of the war August 31st 1848.  Walker returned to military service March 3rd 1855 becoming a Captain in the 1st United States Cavalry.

When the Civil War started, Walker resigned his commission with the United States Army on May 1st 1861, having received a Captaincy in the Confederate Army on March 16th 1861.  He started as a mustering officer, but by November 5th 1861 he was serving as the aide-de-camp to General Robert E Lee, and from December 1861 to March 1862 as the inspector general for the Department of South Carolina, Georgia and East Florida.  With a promotion to Colonel he took part in the Battle of Pocotaligo.  Walker was promoted to Brigadier General October 22nd 1862.  He was wounded in the left arm and the bone in his lower right leg was shattered during the Battle of Ware Bottom Church, a part of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign.  He was captured and taken to Fort Monroe where Union Doctor John J Craven amputated his right foot.  He was exchanged October 29th 1864.  Walker served out the war at Weldon, North Carolina.  He was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina May 1st 1865.

After the war ended Walker moved to Georgia.  He died June 7th 1899 in Atlanta, Georgia and is buried in the Oakland Cemetery.