how about this

A blog of Nineteenth Century history, focusing, but not exclusively, on the American Civil War seen through the prism of personal accounts, newspaper stories, administrative records and global history.
A thousand tales. A miscellany. A maze of historical tangents.

A Capitol View

A Capitol View
Images of 1861 juxtaposed- Union Square, New York vs. Capitol Square, Richmond

Friday, May 30, 2014

Strong Words and a Bottle of Brandy

A soldier named Lewis T. Steed, was charged with stealing from Lewis Antelotti, on Tuesday last, one decanter of apple brandy, estimated to be worth $40. The evidence of Mr. Antelotti proved that Steed came into his restaurant, near the Central depot, and after inquiring as to the time the Yankees would reach Richmond, remarked that he "wished the Yankees would come and take the d — d old town." He (Antelotti) turned off without making any reply, and soon after Steed left. That evening he was found with the bottle of brandy in his pocket, which Antelotti recognized as his own, when he had him arrested. The accused stated to the Mayor that he was a member of Rodes's division, Battle's brigade, and being in the city he got on a spree. As to the testimony against him, given by Antelotti, he was afraid it was true, for when under the influence of liquor he did not know what he did. Hearing this, and discovering a spirit of candor in his statement, he was ordered by His Honor to proceed to his regiment.

-The Daily Dispatch: February 18, 1864

In the Richmond City Directory of 1860 Lewis Antelotti is listed as owning a restaurant/retail confectionery/saloon on Broad Street between 16th and 17th streets. A Lewis T. Steed is listed as a corporal in Co. H., 6th Alabama Infantry. The 6th Alabama was in the brigade commanded by Robert Emmett Rodes. Company H was raised in Russell County, Alabama. The John B. Gordon Camp Sons of Confederate Veterans has more information on Steed.

Corporal Steed was born in in South Carolina, but as a young man moved to Autauga County, Alabama.  He enlisted in Company G, which later became Company H, in May 1861.  His service records show that he was taken prisoner on 14 September, 1862 at the Battle of South Mountain during Gen. Lee's Maryland Campaign.   He was sent north to Ft. Delaware and  was later exchanged at Aikens Landing, Virginia 10 November, 1862.  He spent most of that fall sick in the hospital in Richmond, Virginia.  On 1 February, 1864, he was promoted to the rank of corporal by order of Col. Lightfoot.  He would serve with valour until his capture during a Union breakthrough at Petersburg, Virginia  2 April, 1865.  He was taken to the infamous Point Lookout prison camp in Maryland where he was released 30 June, 1865.

So as a word of defense for Cpl. Steed he had just been promoted.

As a further word, here are the casualties of the 6th Alabama up until that time, concentrating only on major engagements:

Seven Pines- 108 men killed and 283 wounded

Antietam- 52 men killed and 104 wounded.

Chancellorsville- 22 men killed and Colonel James N. Lightfoot and 135 other men were wounded.

Gettysburg- 22 killed, 109 wounded and 31 missing

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Stand and Deliver

From General Lee's army.
[Special Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]

Army of Northern Virginia, Dec.23d, 1863.
There has been for some time past a system of highway robbery going on in the lines of this army. To such an extent has it been carried that furloughed soldiers have found it necessary to go armed and in squads from the lower parts of the lines to the nearest depot. A few days since details were made from different corps of sharpshooters and sent out to look after the robbers. A squad came up with some suspicions characters, and an exciting race ensued; one man was captured, taken before Gen. Rhodes, and committed for trial.

-The Daily Dispatch (Richmond, Va.)December 25, 1863.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"For the Purpose of Superintending the Interments of Remains . . ."

The reburial program was initiated within two months of Lee's capitulation at Appomattox.  In accordance with orders issued on 7 June 1865 by Headquarters, Department of  Washington, Captain James M. More, the founder of Arlington and Battleground national cemeteries, proceeded to the battlefields of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania Court House "for the purpose of superintending the interments of remains of Union soldiers yet unburied and marking their burial places for future identification."  Similar measures were taken in the West; on 23 June General George H. Thomas, commanding the Department of the Cumberland, instructed Chaplain William Earnshaw, Superintendent of the Stones River National Cemetery, "to take charge of the work of disinterring and reinterring remains in the national cemetery at Stones River." Due, however, to excessive heat of the summer season, field operations were suspended until October of that year.
The operations conducted by Captain Moore and Chaplain Earnshaw illustrate both the similarities and differences of graves registration problems in the Virginia and western theaters. Both officers enjoyed the benefits of wide experience in burial matters both had created cemeteries and understood the complications involved in the reinterment of remains. Proceeding by way of Belle Plain, Captain Moore reached the Wilderness battlefield some 14 months after the two-day encounter between Grant and Lee. He found 'hundreds of graves...without marking whatsoever." Exposed skeletons scattered in front of the enemy's abatis offered mute testimony to the savage assaults delivered by many Union regiments. Other skeletons were found partially buried in and near the trenches. Unburied remains, it is reported, were interred in two temporary cemeteries, "where the scenes of carnage appeared to be the greatest."
Intending originally to remove all partially buried remains to a suitable site. Captain Moore encountered the same difficulty that delayed Chaplain Earnshaw's reinterment program in the Stones River area-summer heat.
Completing his reconnaissance of the Wilderness battlefield, Captain Moore went on to Spottsylvania Court House, where he identified and marked with newly-inscribed wooden tablets the graves of 700 Union soldiers. The unidentified dead were marked by tablets bearing the inscription "Unknown, U. S. Soldier. "In all, he made 1,500 identifications on both battlefields-800 in the Wilderness and 700 at Spottsylvania Court House. This total, however, was only twenty-six percent of the 5,350 fatalities suffered on these fields.

-Evolution of the National Cemetery  System 1865-1880
by Edward Steere
Quartermaster Review-May/June 1953

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day- Cold Harbor National Cemetery

The first part of this post was originally put up January of this year.

Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel James M. Moore, Assistant Quartermaster U.S.A. has been informed that the National Cemetery at Cold Harbor Virginia, was completed on the 1st of May, and dedicated by a formal raising of the stars and stripes on the staff in the centre of the ground, and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by those present. This cemetery is situated on the Cold Harbor road, on the farm of Mrs. SLAUGHTER, and about a half mile from the old Cold Harbor house. It is 234 feet in length by 220 feet in width, and contains one and one sixth acres. The total number of bodies interred is 1,930; 50 commissioned officers, 1 chaplain, 89 non-commissioned officers, and 545 privates, beside 1,245 remains not yet identified. Through the efforts of Colonel MOORE, and tho skillful corps of workmen under his direction, the names, rank, and regiment of 635 of the men buried at Cold Harbor are known and a record of them kept at Colonel Moore's office for reference.

-Army and Navy Journal, May 12, 1866

The only Medal of Honor recipient buried at Cold Harbor Cemetery is Augustus Barry who died August 3, 1871. At the time he was the Superintendent of the cemetery. There is not a lot of information on Barry,  however a few things can be pieced together from his military record. An Irish immigrant he was 23 when he enlisted on  January 10, 1863, listing his occupation as carpenter. He served in the Regular army,  first in company C and then A of the 16th United States Infantry. He was discharged December 15, 1867 as a Sergeant-Major having received appointment as Superintendent of the "National Cemetery at Macon, Georgia." His Medal of Honor citation only speaks of "Gallantry in various actions during the rebellion," which is not terribly descriptive.
The National Cemetery in Macon county is the Andersonville National Cemetery.

Friday, May 23, 2014

McClellan's Crimean Report VIII

McClellan's report on the Crimea War continued . . .

Harbor at Balaklava crowded with shipping

This would seem to be the proper place to notice a popular fallacy which, for a time at least, gained extensive credence. It was, that the siege of Sebastopol proved the superiority of temporary (earthen) fortifications over those of a permanent nature. It is easy to show that it proved nothing of the kind, but that it only proved that temporary works in the hands of a brave and skilful garrison are susceptible of a longer defence than was generally supposed. They were attacked as field works never were before, and were defended as field works never had been defended. The main difference between properly constructed permanent fortifications (intended to resist a siege) and temporary works is, that the latter seldom present an insuperable obstacle against assault, "while the former always do. In addition, permanent works have a better command over the adjacent country, and are more carefully and perfectly planned. The masonry walls, which render an assault impossible, cannot he seen from the distance, and can he destroyed only by establishing batteries on the crest of the glacis or the edge of the ditch; the earthen ramparts alone being visible beyond that point, they may, until the besiegers arrive there, be regarded in the same light as field works, with the difference that the garrison are not harassed by the necessity of being constantly prepared to repel an assault. Now, in the siege of Sebastopol, the trenches of the besiegers never reached the edge of the ditch; so that, had the fortification been a permanent one, the most difficult, slow, and dangerous part of the siege remained to be undertaken, viz: the crowning of the covered way, the establishment of the breach batteries, the descent and passage of the ditch, and the assault of the breach; in other words, at the moment when the weakness of the temporary works became apparent and fatal, the true strength of the permanent defences would have commenced coming into play.
Assuming the progress of the attack to have been as rapid as it was under existing circumstances, the besiegers, on the 8th of September, would not yet have been in a condition to crown the covered way, the siege would certainly have extended into the winter; and it may even be doubted whether the place would eventually have fallen, until the allies were in sufficient force to invest the north as well as the south side.
From the fleet and the naval arsenals were undoubtedly derived the means of arming and equipping the land defences; on many occasions the fire of the vessels up the ravines, as well as their vertical fire, was probably attended with effect, yet I can see no reason to coincide in the opinion that the presence of the fleet justified the allies in failing to advance upon the town immediately after their arrival in front of it. No doubt the fire of the vessels would have rendered it impossible for the allies to have occupied immediately the lower parts of the town and the shores of the harbor, but the nature of the ground was such that they could have opposed no serious resistance to the allied occupation of the positions subsequently occupied by the Malakof, Redan, and Flagstaff Bastion. Once holding these points, it would have been easy for the allies to establish batteries commanding at once the fleet and the town; defence would have been impossible, and the opening of their fire must have been the signal alike for the destruction of the fleet and the evacuation of the south side.
We will now pass to the works of attack.
So great was their extent, some 6 miles from the extreme right to the furthest left, with a development that has been stated, probably without exaggeration, to exceed 40 miles, and so broken was the ground over which they stretched, that it is impossible to give in a report like this anything approaching to a definite idea of their plan. An endeavor will be made merely to point out how far the besiegers departed from, or conformed to, their established systems for works of this nature.
As the selection of the points of attack, and the positions to he occupied to cover the siege must first have engaged the attention of the allied commanders, they will naturally be the first objects for our consideration.
In the determination of the position for covering the siege there were two things to be considered: 1st, the power of resisting the efforts of a relieving army; 2d, the facility of bringing up to the front the various supplies required in the operations.
The strength of the position afforded by the plateau of the Chersonese has already been referred to; with the small force at first present on the part of the allies, it is certain that their position -would have teen much stronger and more secure had they confined themselves to the occupation of the plateau, holding the valleys to the east only by detachments to observe the enemy. The English, supposing that their position and point of attack remained as it was, would have had a somewhat greater distance to pass over in the transportation of their supplies; but by abandoning Balaklava for Kazatch they would have obtained a much more extensive and convenient harbor, and the united efforts of the two armies would have enabled them to construct, in ample season, a good road for the passage of their trains. Had the siege been undertaken by a French army alone, it can scarcely be doubted that Kamiesch and Kazatch would have been used to the exclusion of Balaklava; at all events, Balaklava would have been employed only as a temporary depot, when the roads were good and the enemy at a distance; here the insuperable evils of a divided command probably intervened. In this case the barren and disastrous day of Balaklava would never have occurred; the force and labor employed in protecting Balaklava would have placed the position of Inkermann in such a state of defence as either to have deterred the Russians from engaging in the battle or to have secured the victory to the allies without the frightful cost and great uncertainty attending that eventful contest.
In the actual condition of affairs, if either on the 25th October or the 5th November the Russians had succeeded in carrying Balaklava, the English army would have been reduced to the most desperate extremity by the total loss of all its supplies and means of transportation. It is possible that the result would have been the total abandonment of the siege, and a retreat upon Kamiesch, to embark there as rapidly as transportation could be obtained.
To anticipate objections, it may be stated that, during the winter of 1854 and 1855, no supplies were drawn from the country beyond Balaklava, and that the only advantages derived from its occupation were: inextricable confusion in unloading vessels and despatching supplies,
arising from the want of size of the harbor and the steepness of its banks*; wretched roads over
the muddy soil; a steep ascent to be overcome in reaching the plateau; finally, the constant
and lively anticipation of being entirely deprived of these uncertain advantages upon the first
resolute attack by the enemy in force. The most probable reasons for the selection of Balaklava
as the English depot are, that it was somewhat nearer the position on the plateau; that it was
not taken by the French; and that since it existed, it would be a pity that it should remain

*see picture above.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Problems in other New Hampshire Regiments.

Official Gubernatorial portrait of Nathaniel Head

Natt Head, Adjutant and Quartermaster General of New Hampshire, visits the Petersburg front during the December of 1864, and reports on some of the desertion issues that had arisen with the new enlistees . . . who, we have learned, were not always real enlistees.

General Head Quarters State of New Hampshire,
Adjutant and Quartermaster General's office,
Concord, May 20th, 1865.

To His Excellency Joseph A. Gilmore, Governor and Commander-in-chief:
 . . .
On the afternoon of the 21st, I made a visit to the Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh Regiments* with which some of my party were quartered during my entire stay on the left. I found Col. Harriman, Col. Titus, Lt. Col. Cogswell, Lt. Col. Bixby and their subordinates in excellent health and spirits. All however were clamorous for reinforcements and justly complaining of the character of the men whom we had lately sent to their regiments. Indeed this complaint was very general among the officers of all our regiments and supported by statistics which should startle the people of New Hampshire. One or two examples will illustrate the nature of the evidence which was laid before us on this subject. During the twelve months preceding my visit three hundred and twenty-eight substitutes had been sent to the Ninth New Hampshire. Of this number only one hundred and forty were ever received. The remainder, one hundred and eighty-eight in number, helped materially to fill our quota, but were not of the least possible service in the field. They cost the State, at a low estimate, one hundred thousand dollars. Since the organization of the Eleventh Regiment, six hundred and fifty-two men had been sent to it; of this number not more than two hundred could be satisfactorily accounted for. The Fifth New Hampshire, (than which no regiment has a more honorable record,) had been recently moved back from the front because its men could not be trusted on picket. Thirty of them deserted in one night. Several had been hung for desertion to the enemy, others were awaiting trial at the time of my visit.

-Military history of New-Hampshire
 Chandler Eastman Potter, George Augustus Marden

*All of theses regiments appear to have been together at the time in H.B. Titus' brigade of Griffin's division. While the Fifth was the only New Hampshire in Nelson Miles' division of the II Corps.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Action at Jones' Bridge(Providence Forge)- The First United States Colored Cavalry

Gilmer map from VHS collection

 Wherein Frederick W. Browne describes how the 1st United States Colored Cavalry took Jones' Bridge .  . . . twice.

Having served over two years in a good, hard-fighting infantry regiment, and being encamped at Newport News, Va., holding the dignified rank of Sergeant, I one day met our little fighting Major John G. Chambers who asked me if I would like a commission in the 1st U. S. Colored Cavalry, then forming at Fort Monroe, to which I made answer that I would, and two or three days thereafter I received an order, mustering me out of the service and also an order to report to Colonel Garrard for duty as an officer of the new regiment. Early the next morning, going down to the wharf to embark for Ft. Monroe, I showed to the sentry on the wharf (as my authority for leaving) the order mustering me out. He looked it over and said in a home-sick way, “I would give $800 for that paper.” I reported to Colonel Garrard, and for the first time saw this officer with whose reputation as a brave and efficient Major of the 3d N. Y. Cavalry I had been well acquainted in the Department of North Carolina. This regiment, being the first colored cavalry regiment, had in its ranks a rather better class of men than the infantry regiments had; some being from the North and some being the outlaw negroes who, in slavery times, had been able to maintain their liberty in the swamps of Eastern Virginia and North Carolina. The regiment was officered largely from the 3d N. Y. Cavalry, and they were a thoroughly efficient and capable corps of officers. The regiment was soon filled, mounted and equipped, and constant drill soon made it have the manner and bearing of soldiers. Every one knew that the Campaign of 1864 meant business, and therefore all was in readiness when about May 1st orders came to move. We marched out through Hampton, of which not one house was left except the little old stone church which is still standing there. Through Big Bethel, the scene of one of the earliest disasters of the war, to Yorktown, memorable for its two sieges in two wars, and thence on to Williamsburg, passing between Yorktown and Williamsburg our infantry who, much to our surprise were marching very hurriedly back to Yorktown. We learned afterward they were put on board transports at Yorktown and sent up the James to City Point and Bermuda Hundred. The next day we went up the Peninsula, passing 6 and 12 Mile and burnt ordinarys, camping at night at New Kent Court House. I commanded the picket that night on the Bottoms Bridge Road and the enemy’s scouts were against us all night, keeping matters well stirred up. The next morning we turned South and met the enemy at Jones Ford on the Chickahominy. They were in an earthwork across the Ford and we opened on them with our howitzers in front and deployed as to cross in front, but a force was sent to the right up stream who managed to cross, and, coming down on the opposite side of the river, took the enemy in flank and soon drove them away from the ford. Killing some and capturing some of the enemy, and having some killed and wounded, our movement having been a feint to make the enemy believe that Butler’s Army of the James, as it was afterward called, was moving up the Peninsula, having been accomplished, we returned to Williamsburg, arriving there the next day, where, to our astonishment, we met an order to go back at once and cross the Chickahominy at Jones Ford, sometimes called Jones Bridge, and proceed to Harrison’s Landing, which we at once did, again fighting our way across at Jones Ford. Steamers were lying at the wharf in front of the old Westover mansion, and, going on board, we were soon thereafter landed at Bermuda Hundred and passing out took the advance of Butler’s Army, being at the time the only cavalry he had.

-My Service in the United States Colored Cavalry
Paper of Frederick W. Browne, Second Lieut. 1st U.S. Colored Cavalry
of Cincinnati, Ohio,
Read before The Ohio Commandery of The Loyal Legion,
March 4, 1908.

MOLLUS Massachusetts Civil War Photographs- USAHEC

 The (unfortunately watermarked) photograph of Col. Jeptha Garrard, commander of the First USCT Cavalry.

 -This is a cross posting from New Kent County History.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

McClellan's Crimean Report VII

From the course known to have been pursued by the Russians in other cases, the nature of the ground, the appearance of the works at the close of the siege, and the remarks of officers on both sides, it would appear that when Todtleben was called upon to fortify Sebastopol, in presence of the enemy, he commenced by occupying most of the important points that have been mentioned by detached works, generally closed at the gorge. The first efforts of the garrison were directed towards giving these sufficient strength to resist assault ; afterwards they were connected by re-entering lines of a weaker profile, which served to enfilade the ravines and flank the main works. These lines were generally, but not always, continuous.
One of the early measures was to construct rifle pits, which were often advanced to a very considerable distance.
The most important points of the main line of defence should probably be classed in the following order of strength: 1st. The Flag-staff Bastion; 2d. Central Bastion; 3d. Malakoff; 4th. Eedan; 5th. Little Redan.
The Flag-staff Bastion was, on account of the ground, a somewhat irregular figure- nearly a lunette. The ditch of the right face was flanked by two guns in a blinded caponiere; the left face was flanked by four guns, in a return of the epaulment which extended from the rear of the work along the crest of the central ravine, and finally down to the bottom of the valley. The command of the work could not have varied much from 15'. The ditch was about 30' wide, and from 12' to 15' deep; its slopes steep, often vertical. Against a portion of the scarp, near the salient, rested a row of palisades some 10' high, and uninjured by the fire. This was the only case of palisading observed in any part of the ditches. The work was provided with a glacis and covered way, the interior slope of the latter revetted with gabions. Shelters were excavated in the counterscarp, under the covered way. There was a small battery in the covered way of the left face. It was in front of this bastion that the principal mining operations were conducted: on the part of the French to advance their approaches, on the part of the Russians to frustrate the attempt. The craters were from 12' to 15' in depth, and in a very rocky soil. The French never succeeded in carrying the work, nor in crowning the crest of the glacis.
Some portions of the exterior slope were revetted with gabions. These were sadly disfigured, but still presented a formidable obstacle. It is most probable that this system was resorted to only as a rapid means of repairing damages.
The guns were mounted on a narrow rampart, with traverses for each gun, and parados on the right face. Here, as well as in all the other land defences, ships' guns mounted on ships' carriages, and worked by side tackle and breechings, were alone employed. In this battery many of the embrasures were revetted with the common boiler iron ships' water tanks, cubes 4' on each edge. These were filled with earth, and three were employed to revet each cheek. In one embrasure thirteen shot and shell had struck a cheek thus revetted, yet the embrasure was perfectly serviceable. In some cases traverses were made of these tanks. Their sides were sometimes used instead of the rope mantelets. The rope mantelets were suspended from a horizontal spar laid across the top of the embrasure and lashed to stout stakes; they were 4" thick and made of three thicknesses of rope sewed together. A hole was left in the lower part for the gun to run through, and often a circle of similar construction was placed upon the gun, a small aperture being left for pointing. This arrangement was rendered indispensable by the great depth of embrasure required for ships' carriages, and was found to afford ample protection against rifle balls and small grape.
The bomb proofs were generally ample in number; they were sometimes under the rampart, sometimes under the second line of defence, (where such a line existed,) often under special traverses, and occasionally entirely under ground. Their height was generally 6' and upwards, the width sufficient for two rows of banquette beds, the length varied exceedingly; the roof was generally composed of 18" timber, for the most part pieces of masts; the minimum depth of earth on top seemed to be 6'. As I observed none which were broken in by shells, it may be a fair inference that this depth was sufiicient.
Many of the bomb proofs were lined with boards, had fire places and chimneys, were well ventilated, and whitewashed. Latrines were arranged in special bomb proofs, moveable casks with seats over them being employed.
The Flag-staff Bastion had a second line of defence, which was filled with bomb proofs.
The Central was similar in construction to, yet weaker in profile than, the Flag-staff Bastion; its steep scarp and counterscarp rendered it, indeed, a formidable obstacle to assault; with such defenders as the Russians, it is no discredit to the French that their patient yet brilliant efforts failed to achieve success. The loopholed wall was either covered by a rampart and parapet, or entirely replaced by a simple parapet; wherever it remained exposed it was much injured by the long cannonade to which it was subjected.
The Quarantine Redans were little more than a simple trench, with the gabionade thrown forward about 3', thus affording a banquette; the soil in this part was even more rocky than in front of the bastions just described.
The strength of profile of the works east of the central ravine was very much less than that of the Flag-staff and Central Bastions. The remembrance of the history of the progress of the siege will explain the seeming anomaly that points, now generally considered of secondary importance, should be more strongly fortified than those which common opinion pronounces the key points of the position. Until the spring of 1855 all the efforts of the French were directed against the Flag-staff and Central Bastions; and for some reason or other (probably the languor with which their approaches were pushed) the Russians seemed to attach very little importance to the operations of the English. It was therefore natural and proper that the Russians should avail themselves of the time employed by the allies in preparing to open their fire, and of the slackness of the fire during the winter, to turn all their efforts upon the points attacked. It is probable that serious work upon the Malakoff scarcely commenced before the French opened their trenches against it; it was therefore carried on under much more unfavorable circumstances.
In the leisurely construction of a system of permanent defences for Sebastopol, the neglect of the Malakoff and Sapoune ridges would have been indeed inexcusable; but the actual works were constructed for the most part under fire, and always in sight of the enemy. The garrison was for along time weak for so extensive a position, and the supply of tools was always inadequate in amount and wretched in quality; looking at their miserable tools, it was a source of astonishment that such gigantic results could have been achieved with such paltry means.
The Redan was more properly a salient bastion, and appearances indicated that it was originally a detached lunette, closed at the gorge by a bastioned front, having a good ditch, banquette, &c.; in fact, this gorge front still existed in fair condition at the close of the siege, the left half bastion alone having for some reason been nearly levelled. The Redan was afterwards connected with the Barrack battery on the one hand, and on the other extended by the line of works crowning the western crest of the Otchakoff ravine. The nature of the ground, espeeially near the salient, was such that the scarp and counterscarp were more gentle than in the bastions already described. Without pretending to enter into details which would necessarily be imperfect, the best practical idea of the real nature of the work will be derived from the fact that, although no breach was made, the English, on the 8th September, entered the work without using the ladders. The details of the interior were similar to those of the Flagstaff Bastion, the guns being covered by traverses and parados, which formed shelters very favorable to an attacking column after it had once effected an entrance. It should be distinctly stated that the Redan had no second line of defence.
 In front the ground has a very gentle slope and is unobstructed; the works connecting the Redan with the Barrack battery border the precipitous side of the great ravine; the ground occupied by the work itself slopes gently from the salient towards the gorge; in rear it falls rapidly towards the inner harbor, but somewhat less so to the north, so that access is not very difficult from that direction.
In the immediate vicinity of the Redan there was a series of remarkable bomb proofs, excavated in the solid rock: first, a ditch 12' wide and 4' deep was excavated; then holes for a couple of men each were formed on each side of the ditch, each hole being 6' long, 5' high, and 3' wide.
In the same locality arrangements were observed for firing cannister from a 13" mortar.
The line of works extending from the Redan along the crest of the Otchakoff ravine varied much at different points;  in some places the ditch was excavated to the depth of 6' and 8' in the rock, in others the counterscarp was wholly artificial; portions of the abattis still remained in front of this line. This line did not extend continuously to the Malakoff, but was broken where it crossed the Otchakofi" ravine, detached retired batteries enfilading the latter.
The Malakoff also was a salient bastion, its right face being slightly broken to the front; the bastion enclosed the remains of the tower, the lower story of which was covered by the parapet.
An ample estimate for the profile of the Malakoff at the salient would probably be, command 14'; thickness of parapet, 18'; ditch, 18' wide and 12' deep. At all events, such was the condition of affairs that the Zouaves, who formed the storming party on the 8th September, entered the work without the aid of ladders.
The Malakoff Bastion (called by the Russians Korniloff, the name Malakoff being applied by them only to the tower) occupied the eastern crest of a hill rising from the general surface of the ridge, and terminating it towards the town; the slope of the hill towards the French approaches was gentle, while towards the Karabelnaia suburb it was steep, difiicult, and obstructed in the extreme; to the north and south the ground fell away rapidly. In rear of the bastion an irregular redoubt occupied the remainder of the summit of the hill; the parapet did not always follow the ditch, but was often broken into saw teeth (to obtain better directions for the guns) while the ditch ran in a straight line. With regard to the bastion and redoubt two errors were commited: in the first place, two epaulments were left standing, extending from near the flanks of the bastion to the redoubt, which afforded easy access to the latter from the parapet of the former; in the second place, the bastion was literally filled with traverses covering the bomb proof shelters; these traverses entirely nullified the effect of the fire of the redoubt upon the troops who gained the bastion, and afforded them complete shelter. As these bomb proofs were absolutely necessary to enable the garrison to hold the work during the bombardment, it is not perhaps exactly proper to designate their construction as an error, although their existence proved fatal at the time of the assault. The evil might have been remedied either by sinking the bomb proofs entirely under ground, or by giving to the mass of earth above a glacis slope towards the salient, although the latter arrangement would have required much space. The interior slopes of all the works were revetted with gabions, crowned with fascines and sand bags. From the Malakoff to the Little Redan abattis, military pits, spikes and caltrops, with four barbed points, stuck through planks, were freely employed. These things were also employed in front of other parts of the defences. Explosive machines, on the Jacobi principle, were also employed.
The Russian engineers appeared to have relied upon the artillery fire of the collateral works for flanking defences and acting upon the ground in front of any particular work, rather than upon the immediate flanking arrangements of the special work in question. The entire absence of blinded batteries is somewhat remarkable. There can be no doubt that such batteries at the salients of the principal works would have exercised a very great influence.
The Mamelon Vert* was situated on the summit of a mound of no considerable elevation above the general surface of the ridge; the eastern slope was gentle, while it was more abrupt on the other sides, particularly towards the west. It was difficult or impossible to determine the original form of the work. It appeared to have been a redan, with a pan-coupe, the right face flanked by the Malakoff, the left by the Little Redan, the pan-coupe by the Sapoune redoubts; yet it is not improbable that it was a lunette. The Sapoune redoubts appear to have been lunettes, with a command of 7', the ditch 5' deep and 12' wide, a glacis 2' in height. Even in these detached works excellent bomb proofs were provided.
The Russian counter-approaches generally consisted of fleches, united by a simple trench.
The famous rifle pits varied much in character. Sometimes they consisted merely of a little pile of stones, or two gabions, placed on their sides, forming an angle merely sufficient to shelter one man; at other times, of a hole in the ground for four or five men; again, of semicircles or fleches capable of holding from ten to forty men.
In front of the Volhynian redoubt there were two lines of these semicircular shelters, uniting at an acute angle about two hundred and fifty yards in advance of the work, and extending across the ridge. In advance of the angle were two rows of small ones for one or two men each. These particular semicircles were eight paces wide at the gorge, had a parapet 4' high, the interior being excavated. In many cases these pits were thrown much further in advance, and in very exposed situations. They contributed very materially towards impeding the progress of the approaches.
From the preceding hasty and imperfect account of the defences of Sebastopol, it will appear how little foundation there was for the generally received accounts of the stupendous dimensions of the works, and of new systems of fortifications brought into play. The plain truth is that these defences were simple temporary fortifications of rather greater dimensions than usual, and that not a single new principle of engineering was there developed. It is true that there were several novel minor details, such as the rope mantelets, the use of the iron tanks, &c.; but the whole merit consisted in the admirable adaptation of well known principles to the peculiar locality and circumstances of the case. Neither can it be asserted that the plans of the various works were perfect. On the contrary, there is no impropriety in believing that, if Todtleben were called upon to do the same work over again, he would probably introduce better close flanking arrangements.
These remarks are not intended to, nor can they, detract from the reputation of the Russian engineer. His labors and their results will be handed down in history as the most triumphant and enduring monument of the value of fortifications, and his name must ever be placed in the first rank of military engineers. But in our admiration of the talent and energy of the engineer, it must not be forgotten that the inert masses which he raised would have been useless without the skilful artillery and heroic infantry who defended them. Much stronger places than Sebastopol have often fallen under far less obstinate and well combined attacks than that to which it was subjected. There can be no danger in expressing the conviction that the siege of Sebastopol called forth the most magnificent defence of fortifications that has ever yet occurred.

 -To assist in understanding some of the terminology in this section, I suggest A treatise on fortification ..., as well as an Introductory Essay to the Study of Fortification by Captain Hector Straith who was the  professor of Fortification and Artillery at the Military Seminary, Addiscombe.

*yes, that does mean "Green Nipple."

Monday, May 12, 2014

"To prevent the Regt. from deserting"

 Some more corroboration on the troubles in the 2nd New Hampshire . . .

Camp 4th, U.S.C.T., Yorktown, Va., April 9, 1864.
We are ordered to Point Lookout, Md.- for what purpose remains to be seen, but I guess to guard rebel prisoners. Our regiment is the only one of the brigade under orders, but the others may receive them before morning. The 2nd New Hamp Vols. landed here yesterday from Point Lookout and I suppose we will fill their place there. They were sent here, it is said to prevent the regt. from deserting: about 150 deserted within the last four or five weeks.

Memoranda of Samuel W. Van Nuys, Company F, Seventh Indiana Volunteer. 
-History of Johnson County, Indiana
Elba L. Branigin
B. F. Bowen & Company

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Landing at West Point, Virginia . . . and Connections.

Guy Vernor Henry

                   AND GLOUCESTER POINT,
                        Yorktown, Va., May 1, 1864.

Colonel SHAFFER,
    Chief of Staff, Fort Monroe:
The following is from Col. G. V. Henry, commanding brigade, Tenth Corps, at West Point, this morning:
My command landed at 10 a. m. to-day. The inhabitants say we have been expected for two or three weeks. The impression is that 40,000 or 50,000 are to march toward White House. Am building a good dock with material I have brought, and desire to keep up this impression. If not contrary to your views, would like to keep up the impression.

                    G.V. HENRY,
                Colonel Fortieth Massachusetts Volunteers.

I have sent word to Colonel Henry that as soon as he feels his position secure he can make the reconnaissance, but not to go too far.

                    WM. F. SMITH,

                             West Point, Va., May 2, 1864.

Lieutenant Colonel FLOYD,
    Commanding Third New York Volunteers:
COLONEL: The colonel commanding directs that you will march your command to the front 8 or 10 miles upon the main road, collecting all the information of the enemy possible. You will go in light marching order with one days rations in haversacks, and use the utmost caution, scouring the country thoroughly. In case of an attack you will send immediately to these headquarters, reporting as near as possible the force in your front, and fall back slowly until you join the main body of troops. You will return to camp to-night, and upon your arrival report in person to the colonel commanding.
    Very respectfully, yours,

                    F.W. WEAVER,
                 Lieutenant and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Col. G.V. Henry from the Arlington National Cemetery website . . .

Born at Fort Smith, Indian Territory (now Arkansas), March 9, 1839, he graduated from West Point on May 5, 1861 and served throughout the Civil War and Indian Wars as Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel and Brigadier General in the Regular Army.
He received successive brevets for gallantry in various battles and was breveted Brigadier General, U.S. Army, for gallantry at Rose Bud, Montana, where he was shot through the face while fighting Indians. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on December 5, 1893 for his Civil War Service at the battle of Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864 where he was serving as Colonel, 40th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
He was later Colonel of the all-black 10th U.S. Cavalry and was commanding Fort Assinniboine during the Spanish-American War in 1898. He served as military governor of Puerto Rico following that war.
He died at his home in New York City on October 27, 1899 and was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.

. . . and his Medal of Honor citation for actions some thirty days after landing at West Point. . .

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Colonel Guy Vernor Henry, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 1 June 1864, while serving with 40th Massachusetts Infantry, in action at Cold Harbor, Virginia. Colonel Henry led the assaults of his brigade upon the enemy's works, where he had two horses shot under him.
General Orders: Date of Issue: December 5, 1893

. . . while this Medal of Honor was awarded to a drummer of the 40th Massachusetts, William Lord, just two weeks before that . . .

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Musician William Lord, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 16 May 1864, while serving with Company C, 40th Massachusetts Infantry, in action at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia. Musician Lord went to the assistance of a wounded officer lying helpless between the lines, and under fire from both sides removed him to a place of safety.
General Orders: Date of Issue: April 4, 1898

 . . . the officer he rescued? Lt.Col. Eldridge G. Floyd, commanding the Third New York

 This is a cross posting from New Kent County History

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

While in the House of Lords . . .

John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, KG, GCMG, PC

 Wherein Gen. Wistar's actions have international repercussions.

Thursday, May 12, 1864.


THE EARL of ELLENBOROUGH: My Lords: I wish to draw the attention the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the statements contained in a letter of General Wistar, an officer of the United States army, with reference to the kidnapping of persons, principally foreigners, mostly seamen, and, therefore very likely to be British subject,s with the view of forcing them to take service in the armies of the United States. I believe I shall do most justice to the case, and to the gallant officer who has written this letter, by reading the whole of it The letter certainly does him very great credit. The letter is dated Yorktown, April 15, 1864, and is addressed to Major General John A. Dix ,New York city. It is in these words-
"General,- An extended spirit of desertion prevailing among the recruits recently received from the North in some of the regiments of my command has led me to make some inquiries in apparently well authenticated information, which I beg respectfully to communicate to you in this unofficial manner deeming it required by humanity, no less than by our common desire to benefit the service. There seems to be little doubt that many- in fact, I think I am justified in saying that most of these unfortunate men were either deceived or kidnapped, or both, in the most scandalous and inhuman manner in New York city, where they were drugged and carried off to New Hampshire and Connecticut, mustered in and uniformed before their consciousness was fully restored. Even their bounty was obtained by _the parties who were instrumental in these nefarious transactions, and the poor wretches find themselves, on returning to their senses, mustered soldiers, without any pecuniary benefit. Nearly all are foreigners, mostly sailors, both ignorant of and indifferent to, the objects of the war in which they thus suddenly find themselves involved. Two men were shot here this morning for desertion, and over thirty more are now awaiting trial or execution. These examples are essential, as we all understand: but it occurred to me, General, that you would pardon me for thus calling your attention to the greater crime committed in New York, of kidnapping these men into positions where, to their ignorance, desertion must seem like a vindication of their own rights and liberty. Believe me to be General, with the highest esteem, your servant
J.J. Wistar" (sic)

"To Major General John A. Dix New York city."

These my Lords are the very proper of this American officer. It said that many of those who have kidnapped are seamen and subjects of Majesty; it is scarcely possible that transactions could take place without knowledge of many of the officers of American army; it is scarcely that the Government itself should not cognizant of them. I understand that one case where a Frenchman was the French Admiral interfered, the was released, and the captain in regiment he was placed was the service. Many of your Lordships a few days ago a statement, which know to be true from other sources, the case of a poor man named Edwards, a seaman of one of the Liverpool steamers, and who had only recently been married. He left his clothes on board his vessel, and the money which was due to him, went on shore by direction of the to get a warm bath. He was taken to drinking shop, was drugged, and when recovered his senses found himself in uniform of the United States, was told had enlisted, and carried off to a depot, having no means whatever either of joining his family or informing them of of his case. He sent in Welsh, which his wife Liverpool, and that led to inquiries being made This is a very serious grievance. I am not aware if the noble Earl has been previously made acquainted with the case. If he has I wish to know what steps he has taken; and if he has now heard of it for the first time what steps he proposes to take, for the purpose of protecting Her Majesty's subjects from these monstrous atrocities, not only for the future but in order to obtain the release of those who may have been so seriously ill-treated, and to obtain compensation to them for what they have suffered?
EARL RUSSELL, who was very imperfectly heard, was understood to say that he knew nothing of the letter which the noble Earl had read, further than that a copy of it had been sent to him. Without, therefore, giving any answer to the individual cases stated by the noble Earl, he would say that very great hardships were incurred in such cases. It appeared that the bounty given on enlistment by the general Government of the United States and by the States Government amounted altogether to 600 dols. or 700 dols.; and this large sum, it appeared induced nefarious and unprincipled men to get hold of persons on landing in the United States, who drugged them, kept them without food, and tempted them to enlist, when they were marched off to some depot and deprived of all means of obtaining their liberty. Whenever such cases came to the knowledge of Lord Lyons, he had made immediate representations to the United States Government. He was not so much surprised at the unprincipled conduct of the parties referred to as that attempts should be made to throw protection around them; and he was sorry to say that Lord Lyons had made repeated complaints, but in most cases he had not obtained that satisfaction which he had a right to expect. The noble Earl then read the following passages from a memorandum of similar cases which had recently occurred, and the result of the representations made by Lord Lyons:-
 "Two other cases have been reported to us by the Board of Trade. The first is that of Hugh Bennett, who stated that having gone on shore from his ship, the Edinburgh, at New York, in order to make a purchase, he was induced to enter a public house, where he, in company with eleven other steamboat men, had been drugged and carried off to the United States receiving ship North Carolina. This case having been referred to Lord Lyons, he has succeeded in obtaining the man's discharge. The other case is that of a seamen named Charles Thompson, who wrote from Beaufort, South Carolina on the 25th of February last, to say he had been drugged, and while in that state was enlisted, not knowing anything until he came to himself, when he was informed that he was a soldier. He further stated that as soon as a sailor arrived in the United States was nearly certain to be drugged and made soldier of before he knew anything about it, and that in several cases the British had obtained their release."
Several cases had been brought to the notice of the British agents in the American States in which several British subjects were kidnapped, as was alleged, while in a state of intoxication. In reply to a representation from Lord Lyons, the United States War Department said they would investigate the case, and in a certain sense they did so, examining the recruiting agents and other persons who stated that the men were sober when they enlisted. Lord Lyons answered, very properly, that that investigation was not satisfactory, it having been carried on entirely in the absence of the men themselves, four or five of whom had been sent forward to the army. The recruiting agents were tempted by the very large bounty to use every I fair means of inveigling men to enlist. He must say it would throw great discredit on the United States Government if such practices were allowed to go on. It was their bounden duty to see that these persons were not forced to enter the service against their will. He must say that these proceedings would render it necessary that Her Majesty's Government should make the strongest remonstrance to the United States Government. No doubt if the facts referred to by the noble Earl were authentic they formed a very great hardship and disclosed conduct on the part of agents of the United States Government which was highly reprehensible.

-The Parliamentary Debates (Authorized Edition)
  Wyman, 1864

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Some Resources on Civil War Industry

I have always had an interest in Civil War military industry and industrial accidents. A niche interest perhaps (alright, definitely). It all started while researching my Great-Great-Grandfather's Civil War history. William Clark McPhail (1831-1885) of Eastover, North Carolina, avoided conscription by serving in the State Salt Works at Wilmington. Salt was of such importance to the state that employment at the works was a protected occupation.

 North Carolina State Salt Works

 Civil War Salt

Women in Civil War Arsenals

Confederate States Laboratory

Richmond Arsenal

The Danville Arsenal

The Washington Arsenal

Selma Naval Foundry

Bellona Arsenal

Mid-Lothian Mines

 Augusta Powder Works

 Confederate Ship Building

 The Nitre & Mining Corps

. . .and the big one . . .

The Comstock Lode

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Cuss the sub"- The Second New Hampshire

Point Lookout, Md. View of Hammond Genl. Hospital & U.S. genl. depot for prisoners of war

A little background on the situation in the Second New Hampshire as they received their "subs" at Point Lookout, Maryland . . .

The Fifth Regiment arrived from New Hampshire on the afternoon of November 13. On the following day they disembarked, and made their camp on the Chesapeake side of the point, just north of the prison camp. The regiment had been recruited up, very largely with that execrable class of substitutes known as "bounty jumpers." A big proportion of these were only awaiting an opportunity to desert, and some got in their work very soon. As early as the 17th, the following entry appears in the writer's diary:
Several of the Fifth Regiment's subs, attempted to get away today. Two boarded a schooner, and gave the negro captain fifty dollars to take them up the river. A gunboat got onto the racket and gave chase, overhauling and bringing back the whole outfit. Another party paddled up the river in a canoe. A mounted party pursued up the beach, but they landed at a point outside the guards and escaped to the woods. To prevent these attempts in the future, the small boats from which we have derived so much pleasure are all taken away. Cuss the subs!"
November 30th, the Second received its first dose of the same material one hundred and seventy-five and on the 19th of December another installment of three hundred and fifty came along. Quite a number had found opportunities to desert while en route. There was a little good material mixed in with these recruits, but it is no credit to New Hampshire that she turned such a mass of rubbish loose into her old veteran regiments. The old men of the Second, the true New Hampshire boys, who for more than two years had faced death fearlessly to make a record which should be the pride of their state for ages, keenly felt the change which had come. For them the "Old Second" of glorious memory and heroic achievements had ceased to exist. This feeling was a serious blow to the veteranizing, or re-enlistment, of the old men, which was invited about this time.
In spite of all precautions, a number of these rascals got away. December 3d, a party made off with a boat in which an officer had come ashore from one of the gunboats. Later, one who had been made a corporal rowed away, sometime between sunset and sunrise, with his entire squad posted at the wharf.

-A history of the Second regiment, New Hampshire volunteer infantry, in the war of the rebellion
Martin A. Haynes 
Lakeport, New Hampshire 1896

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Executions at Yorktown- the Second New Hampshire

 More on the executions at Yorktown in spring of 1864, from the history of the Second New Hampshire Regiment . . .

AT an early hour on the morning of the 8th of April the Second landed at Yorktown, marched up through the little town, and went into camp on the plain outside the encircling fortifications. The post was under command of General Wistar, with a garrison consisting of the One Hundred and Forty-eighth New York and a brigade of colored troops. On the 11th the Twelfth New Hampshire came down from Point Lookout, one of the colored regiments being sent up to take their place.
The regiment was hardly in camp before the bounty jumpers began to jump. Within three days over a hundred men deserted from the Second. But very few got clear away. Some made their way toward the rebel lines, but the greater part struck down the Peninsula toward Fort Monroe, and were gathered in like rats in a bag. At Point Lookout they had been reasonably sure of escape if they could but once get outside the camp limits; but here the conditions were reversed their troubles commenced where they had formerly ended. The old men cursed each successive squad as they were brought in, and felt more homesick than ever.
It was a military necessity that an example should be made of some of these, and a court martial was convened for the trial of the most flagrant cases. John Egin, of Company A, was tried on the 12th, found guilty, and sentenced to be shot to death between the hours of 5 and 6 p.m. on the 13th. Egin was picked up while making his way toward the rebel lines by a Union scout in rebel uniform. Preparations were made for carrying out the sentence. The Second marched to the place selected for the execution, and Egin was on his way when a reprieve arrived and arrested the proceedings. Egin threw his cap in the air and danced for joy. He probably thought the whole affair was only "a bluff." But his reprieve was only temporary. On the 15th he rode forth again, seated upon his coffin, this time with a comrade in misery and to his death. His companion was from Company F, and had enlisted under the name of Henry Holt; but the night before his death he divulged that his name was McGuire, and that he was from Yorkshire, England, where he had a wife and two children.
The place of execution was about a mile below the fort, upon the bluff overlooking the river. The regulation formalities and arrangements for a military execution were fully observed. The condemned men's own regiment was drawn up in line, with unloaded muskets, facing the spot where the deserters were to die. A section of artillery was upon the left of the regiment, trained to rake it. The One Hundred and Forty-eighth New York, in line to its rear, and two colored regiments on the right, all with loaded muskets, hedged the Second round about. No words can tell how keenly the proud old men of the proud old Second felt the disgrace of the position.
The condemned men rode to the spot seated upon their coffins, and accompanied by a priest. The carts stopped directly in front of the Second, where the men alighted, and their coffins were placed upon the ground, end to end, a few rods from the edge of the river bluff. The provost marshal read the findings of the court and the sentence, when the firing party of twelve men advanced and took position a few feet in front of the coffins. The prisoners removed their coats, and knelt upon the grass while the priest performed the holy offices of the church. Arising, they shook hands with the provost marshal and the priest. Their eyes were bandaged and their wrists tied with white handkerchiefs. Then they were led to and seated upon their coffins, facing the executioners. The marshal raised his hand, and his men brought their pieces to a "ready ;" again, and the guns sprang to the shoulder; a third time, and the volley rang out. Two or three bullets were heard singing out over the river, and Egin and Holt fell back across their coffins. After a short time the bodies were examined by surgeons, who declared life extinct, when all the troops were filed past the bodies and back to their camps.
But vengeance was not yet satisfied. James Scott, of Company G, and Owen McDonald, of Company K, had been picked up by the gunboat "Mystic," while paddling up Chesapeake Bay in a small boat, outside the Union lines. From memoranda found on their persons relative to the military preparations at Yorktown, it appeared that they were prepared to furnish valuable information to the enemy. They were tried for desertion, found guilty, and paid the penalty upon the plain in front of Fort Magruder, at Williamsburg, on the 29th of April.
These drastic measures had a most salutary effect, the desertions by wholesale being immediately checked. Fred Phisterer, sometime Adjutant General of New York, states in his statistical record that twelve men who were soldiers were executed by sentence of court martial during the war. If his figures are correct, the Second Regiment certainly furnished an undue proportion of this disgraceful roll.
-A history of the Second regiment, New Hampshire volunteer infantry, in the war of the rebellion
Martin A. Haynes 
Lakeport, New Hampshire 1896