Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Medical Department

The Confederate Army Medical Department was created February 26th 1861 by the provisional government.

The Confederacy moved faster than the Union in establishing a medical corps.  The Confederate Medical Department was created within the structure of the army on February 26th 1861.  Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed David C DeLeon as the Surgeon General.  There was an error in the military regulation, which omitted the section for creating medical officers.  Many of the physicians who enlisted in the service did so as privates and were used as regimental surgeons.

DeLeon had a staff of 25, and they created the armies medical standards.  They developed field service shortly after the Battle of First Manassas.  The early field hospitals couldn’t handle the amount of wounded, and many had to be sent to southern cities for care.  Davis replaced Deleon with Samuel Preston Moore, who had more experience in medical administration.  He started by reviewing and replacing none qualified surgeons.  In August 1861 the Confederacy began building their own hospitals, and by 1862 they were providing regiments with medical supplies including surgical instruments and medicines.

If you’re interested in reading more about the Confederate Medical Department this is a good web site.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Repealed Under Pressure

The Confederate Partisan Ranger Act was repealed February 17th 1864, with persuasion from General Robert E Lee.

The Confederate Congress passed the Partisan Ranger Act on April 21st 1862.  The Act was supposed to increase recruitment of units for Confederate service.  The Confederate leadership found out in due time that a lack of discipline among these irregulars could allow for a loss of control within the units.  The Confederate Congress after receiving pressure from Confederate General Robert E Lee repealed the Act on February 17th 1864.

Two partisan rangers groups; Mosby’s Raiders and McNeill’s Rangers were allowed to continue to operate through to end of the war.  These two groups which operated mostly in the counties of West Virginia had a strong military structure.

The Partisan Ranger Act as passed:

Section 1. The congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the president be, and he is hereby authorized to commission such officers as he may deem proper with authority to form bands of partisan rangers, in companies, battalions, or regiments, to be composed of such members as the President may approve.

Section 2. Be it further enacted, that such partisan rangers, after being regularly received in the service, shall be entitled to the same pay, rations, and quarters during the term of service, and be subject to the same regulations as other soldiers.

Section 3. Be its further enacted, That for any arms and munitions of war captured from the enemy by any body of partisan rangers and delivered to any quartermaster at such place or places may be designated by a commanding general, the rangers shall be paid their full value in such manner as the Secretary of War may prescribe.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Trout House

Confederate President Jefferson Davis spoke at the Trout House February 16th 1861 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Trout House was one of three antebellum hotels located in Atlanta, Georgia.  The four story brick hotel was built by Jeremiah F Trout in 1849 on the corner of Decatur and Pryor Streets.

When Confederate President Jefferson Davis visited Atlanta, he spoke at the hotel on February 16th 1861, while on his way to Montgomery, Alabama to take his of office as the first and only President of the Confederacy.  Jefferson did not spend the night there.

When Union General William T Sherman left Atlanta in 1864, the Trout House hotel was destroyed. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Black Minister For The Union

Henry Highland Garnet was the first African American to preach to the United States House of Representatives, he did so on February 12th 1865.

Henry Highland Garnet was born a slave December 23rd 1815 in New Market, Kent, Maryland, the son George and Henrietta Garnet.  When he was 10 Garnet’s family fled with the help of the Underground Railroad to New York City.  He attended the African Free School, and the Phoenix High School for Colored Youth.  In 1835 Garnet received a placement at the Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire.  Anger over his abolitionist activities cause him to leave New Hampshire, he finished his education at the Oneida Theological Institute in Whitesboro, New York.

Garnet moved to Troy, New York in 1839, where he taught school.  In 1842 he became the pastor of the Liberty Street Presbyterian Church.  It was here that Garnet began publishing papers with abolitionist, religious, and temperance themes.  On returning to New York City he joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and was a frequent speaker.  He felt that slaves should act for their own freedom, advocating for armed rebellion, and was a supporter of blacks emigrating so they would have more opportunities, or at the least Black Nationalism in the United States with their own colony in the states.  Garnet traveled in the 1850’s to England, and Jamaica as a lectures and missionary.

When the Civil War started Garnet gave up on the hopes of emigration for black.  He began working for the founding of black Union army units.  Garnet and his family barely escaped the July 1863 New York City Draft Riots.  He moved his family shortly after this to Washington, DC, where he helped with the recruiting of black units.  It was during this time that Garnet became the first black minister on February 12th 1865 to preach to the United States House of Representatives.  His service was arranged by President Abraham Lincoln and his Cabinet as a special service for the Presidents 56th birthday.

After the war ended Garnet became the president of the Avery College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He would return later to the ministry, becoming the pastor of the Shiloh Presbyterian Church in New York City.  He was appointed by President James A Garfield in 1881 as the United States Minister to Liberia, and he would die there just a few months into his service on February 13th 1882.  Garnet was honored by the Liberian government with a state funeral, and is buried in the Palm Grove Cemetery in Monrovia.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Providing Information

One of the first orders that Union Major General Joseph Hooker made after becoming the commander of the Army of the Potomac was on February 11th 1863, creating the Bureau of Military Information.

The Pinkerton National Detective Agency, run by Allan Pinkerton assumed responsibility for President Abraham Lincoln’s safety in 1861.  Pinkerton also provided intelligence for Union General George B McClellan.  General Winfield Scott hired Lafayette C Baker a detective for information.  Lincoln himself paid a publisher; William A Lloyd to infiltrate the Confederacy and provide information.  In all these cases though, these men were civilians.

When Union Major General Joseph Hooker became the commander of the Army of the Potomac, he ordered his deputy provost marshal Colonel George H Sharpe to create an intelligence unit.  Sharpe received assistance from John C Babcock; a former Pinkerton employee and they established the Bureau of Military Information [the BMI] on February 11th 1863.

The BMI had about 70 field agents during the, 10 of whom were killed during the war.  These and additional agents preformed interrogations, scanned confederate newspapers and captured documents for information that could be helpful to the Union war effort.  Union General Ulysses S Grant kept BMI staff in his headquarters, so he would have the most recent information.

The BMI ceased to be once the Civil War came to an end in 1865. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Last Fight For Charleston

The Battle of Grimball’s Causeway [Battle of James Island] was fought February 10th 1865, and was the last fight for Charleston.

Union troops commanded by Brigadier General Alexander Schimmelfennig made an expedition on February 10th 1865 to James Island.  Facing them was a small force made up of the 2nd South Carolina Heavy Artillery, commanded by Major Edward Manigault holding the southern side of the island in rifle pits at Grimball’s Causeway.

On the morning of February 10th Union gunboats began shelling the Confederates while Schimmelfennig had his troops off loaded.  The 144th New York Infantry led the attack on the center of the Confederate line, as the 54th New York Infantry charged Manigault’s right flank.  The Confederates began to give ground, Manigualt was wounded and taken prisoner; he would have to have his leg amputated.

The Union troops took the rifle pits, but would withdraw.  The Confederates would evacuate Charleston, South Carolina and Schimmelfennig accepted the city’s surrender on February 18th 1865.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Weather For War

The United States Weather Bureau was created on February 9th 1870, because Civil War Generals wanted accurate forecasts for battles.

A joint resolution of Congress established the United States Weather Bureau.  The task of the Bureau was to "provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories...and for giving notice on the northern (Great) Lakes and on the seacoast by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms."  It was signed into being by United States President Ulysses S Grant on February 9th 1870.

The Bureau was placed within the Department of War.  The Secretary of War had the Bureau assigned to the United States Army Signal Corps which was commanded by Brigadier General Albert J Myer.  The first weather observations were made at 22 stations, with the information gathered 3 times a day telegraphed to Washington, DC, where 4 “professionals” would issue a forecast.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Provisional Constitution

The Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States of America was adopted and in force from February 8th through March 11th 1861.

At Montgomery, Alabama on February 4th 1861 a convention made up of delegates from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina met to begin setting up a new government.  Before they could begin working, the Montgomery Convention needed a set of rules to follow.  Christopher Gustavus Memminger proposed a committee be created on February 5th 1861 to draft a provisional constitution.  Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb of Georgia moved that the committee be made up of twelve, two members from state delegation.

Because of the necessity of having a constitution the committee worked fast.  On February 7th 1861 they had copies made of their purposed constitution and distributed to the convention members.  There was very little debate, the main changes being an inclusion of the words “Invoking the favor of Almighty God” in the preamble, providing executive veto, and combining circuit and district courts into one state district.

The Provisional Constitution was ratified on February 8th 1861.  All the members present signed the document at noon on the day of Jefferson Davis’ inauguration as the first and only President of the Confederacy on February 18th 1861.  Fifty men signed the Provisional Constitution including the delegates from Texas who were admitted on March 2nd 1861.

The Provisional Constitution was nullified on March 11th 1861, when the permanent Constitution of the Confederate States of America was ratified.

If you would like to read the Constitution for the Provisional Government you’ll find it here

Friday, February 7, 2014

He Gave All To The Confederacy

The brother of John Allen Wilcox, General Cadmus Wilcox
Mississippi and Texas politician John Allen Wilcox, the brother of Confederate General Cadmus Wilcox, died February 7th 1864.

John Allen Wilcox was born April 18th 1819 in Greene County, North Carolina, the son of Ruben and Sarah (Garland) Wilcox.  It appears that he was raised and received an education in Tipton County, Tennessee.  Wilcox was living in Mississippi when he started in politics.  During the Mexican American War he served in the 2nd Mississippi Infantry as their Lieutenant Colonel.  Following the war he returned to his law practice in Aberdeen, Mississippi.  In 1850 Wilcox was elected to the United States Congress from Mississippi.  When he was defeated in his run for a second term, he moved in 1853 to San Antonio, Texas.

When Texas began talking of secession, Wilcox was selected as delegate to the Texas Secession Convention in 1861.  He was elected to the First Confederate Congress in November 1861.  He traveled to Richmond, Virginia where he was a strong supporter of President Jefferson Davis’ policies, and helped in getting the Texas Brigade organized.  After his term in Congress was over, Wilcox joined the army as an aide to Major General John B Magruder, and served at the Battle of Galveston.

Wilcox was elected from Texas to the Second Confederate Congress.  Before he could be seated, he died February 7th 1864 in Richmond, Virginia of what is supposed to be apoplexy.  He is buried in the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.  Wilcox’s funeral was attended by the whole Confederate Congress.  As his entire estate was valued at only $275, his brother Confederate General Cadmus M Wilcox a lifelong bachelor provided a home for his wife and raised his two young children.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Swimming A Frozen Creek

Union First Lieutenant David E Buckingham swam the icy Rowanty Creek on February 5th 1865 under fire in order to capture a crossing.

David E Buckingham was born February 3rd 1840 in Pleasant Hill, Delaware.

When the Civil War started Buckingham enlisted in the 4th Delaware Infantry, serving in Company E.  On February 5th 1865 in order to capture a crossing, Buckingham and his Captain; S Rodmond Smith, swam across the partially frozen Rowanty Creek in Virginia, while under Confederate fire.  On February 13th 1895 Buckingham was awarded the Medal of Honor for these actions.

Buckingham died November 23rd 1915, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Slowing The Union Movement

MG Francis P Blair
A part of Sherman’s Carolina Campaign, the Battle of Rivers’ Bridge was fought on February 3rd 1865.  This battle is also known as Salkehatchie River and Owen’s Crossroads.

Confederate Major General Lafayette McLaws had about 1,200 men posted on the crossings of the Salkehatchie River.  Union soldiers arrived at the river on February 2nd 1865 and began to build bridges in order to bypass McLaws’ troops.

The next day February 3rd 1865 Union Major General Francis P Blair took two brigades, and march them through the swamp in order to flank the Confederates.  McLaws stalled the Union movement for one day, fighting from behind earthen fortifications, burning the bridges and planning an ambush, before drawing his troops off toward Branchville.

Out of the 6,200 soldiers involved, there were about 262 men killed many of whom drowned in the swamp before help could reach them.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Held At The River

Theodore Safford Peck was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on February 2nd 1864 at Newport Barracks, North Carolina.

Theodore Safford Peck was born March 22nd 1843 in Burlington, Vermont the son of Theodore Augustus and Delia Horton (Safford) Peck.  He attended local schools and was prepared to enter the University of Vermont when the Civil War began.

Peck enlisted as a Private in Company F of the 1st Vermont Cavalry.  He was involved in the engagements at Middletown and Winchester, Virginia in early 1862.  In June Peck received an appointment to Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant in the 9th Vermont Infantry.  He was with this regiment when it was captured at Harper’s Ferry in September 1862.  He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in January 1863, and was at Suffolk, Yorktown, and Young’s Crossroads.

On February 2nd 1864 Peck was involved in an engagement at Newport Barracks, North Carolina.  Union troops there numbering about 700 men, were attacked by a force commanded by Confederate General James Green Martin.  The Union troops were outflanked, and there line was pressed back.  Peck leading Company H of the 9th Vermont made eleven stands before reaching the Newport River, where they held well the rest of the Union troops crossed the river.  The Confederates were so close that there was hardly time for the Union troops to burn the bridges, they had just crossed on.  It was for this action that he received the Medal of Honor.

Peck was wounded at Fort Harrison, Virginia in September 1864, and was promoted to Captain.   He continued to serve moving up to Brigade Quartermaster of the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Division in the XVIV Corps.  He was with the Union army when it entered Richmond, Virginia following the fall of that city.

After the war Peck owned and operated an insurance company in Burlington, Vermont.  He was an active member of the GAR, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, and Reunion Society of the Vermont Officers.  He received an honorary degree in 1896 from Norwich, Vermont.  He joined the Vermont National Guard and would reach the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  Peck died March 15th 1918 in Burlington, Vermont and is buried in the Lakeview Cemetery there.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Number Seven

Texas joined six other states on February 1st 1861 and seceded from the Union.

Samuel Houston the Governor of Texas was a faithful Unionist, and his election in 1859 made it seem that Texas would stay in the Union, but the people of Texas felt differently.  Following Abraham Lincoln’s election to President there was pressure placed on Houston to call for a convention to consider secession.  Houston grudgingly called for a convention in January 1861.  He sat silently on February 1st 1861 when the convention voted in favor of seceding.  The vote was 166 to 8 in favor, making Texas the seventh state to leave the Union.

In the end 76% of Texans voted in a statewide referendum to secede.  Texas became a Confederate States on March 2nd 1861.  Houston who refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy was replaced as Governor by his Lieutenant Governor.

If you like to read the Texas Ordinance of Secession you can find it here.