Friday, September 30, 2011

October 1, 1861 (Thursday): Capture at Ocracoke

Fort Ocracoke Burning, USS Fanny in Foreground
OCTOBER 1, 1861.-Capture of the U. S. transport Fanny near Chicamacomico, or Loggerhead Inlet, North Carolina. 

Numbers 1.-Brigadier General Joseph K. F. Mansfield, U. S. Army.


SIR: I have the honor to report to the Lieutenant-General commanding that yesterday afternoon the steamer Pawnee arrived from Hatteras Inlet, and brought the captain and crew of the steamer Fanny, a steamer that had been chartered as a tender and defense at the inlet. (I should have made this report by yesterday's mail if I had not been at the time of the above arrival at Newport News and did not return till after dark.) It appears that the steamer Fanny left Fort Hatteras about 6 a. m. on the 1st instant, with ammunition and supplies for the Twentieth Indiana Regiment, stationed some 40 miles on the beach northward, at a locality called Chicamacomico, or Loggerhead Inlet. She had on board Captain I. W. Hart, Sergeant-Major Peacock, and about 23 men of the Twentieth Indiana and Ninth New York Regiments, with a Sawyer gun and a large supply of ammunition and stores for the troops. When within 5 miles of her destination she met the U. S. naval steamer Putnam, which turned round and convoyed her to anchorage in 6 feet of water off the landing some 3 miles. The Putnam put on board the Fanny a rifled cannon and ammunition therefor, and then started for Fort Hatteras. At the same time stated she had seen a rebel steamer westward, and gave as reason for returning that she was short of coal. In about an hour and a half after, say at 2.30, a large flat from the shore came alongside the Fanny and received a load of supplies, such as tents, bread, &c. In about two hours after, three steamers approached from the westward, and at a long range commenced an attack. Not a shot struck the Fanny, and some eight or nine shots were fired at the enemy, one of which took effect. Then the cable was slipped and the Fanny was run ashore some 2 3/4 miles still from the beach, and the crew abandoned her in a boat, and the officer in charge, Captain Hart, hoisted a white flag, and surrendered before a gun was fired on either side. The captain of the Fanny, John M. Morison, left in a small boat with his sick son. the mate, George K. Ridgely, and engineer and others of the crew remained until the white flag was hoisted. Some ammunition was thrown overboard, but the guns were not thrown overboard nor the boat sunk, as was recommended by the mate and engineer. The steamer Fanny was an excellent boat for the station, and her boiler and engine in excellent order. The above facts I obtained from a personal examination of the captain, mate, engineer, and a deck hand separately.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOS. K. F. MANSFIELD, Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND, A. A. G., Hdqrs. of the Army.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 4, Part 1, Page 495

The Confederates had scarce good news on the North Carolina Coast in the Fall of 1861.  The capture of the transport U.S.S. Fanny, with thirty soldiers aboard, was an exception.  In August, the Fanny became the first US warship to carry an airship aboard, when it took a balloon in Hampton Roads for observation of the straits there.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 30, 1861 (Wednesday): McClellan's Forts

Fort Stevans


No. 18. Washington, September 30, 1861.
* * * * * * *
XI. The works in the vicinity of Washington are named as follows:
The work south of Hunting Creek, Fort Lyon.
That on Shooter's Hill, Fort Ellsworth.
That to the left of the Seminary, Fort Worth.
That in front of Blenker's brigade, Fort Blenker.
That in front of Lee's house, Fort Ward.
That near the mouth of Four Mile Creek, Fort Scott.
That on Richardson's Hill, Fort Richardson.
That now known as Fort Albany, Fort Albany.
That near the end of Long Brigade, Fort Runyon.
The work next on the right of Fort Albany, Fort Craig.
The next on the right of Fort Craig, Fort Tillinghast.
The next on the right of Fort Tillinghast, Fort Ramsay.
The work next on the right of Fort Ramsay, Fort Woodbury.
That next on the right of Fort Woodbury, Fort De Kalb.
The work in rear of Fort Corcoran and near canal, Fort Haggerty.
That now known as Fort Corcoran, Fort Corcoran.
That to the north of Fort Corcoran, Fort Bennett.
That south of Chain Bridge, on height, Fort Ethan Allen.
That near the Chain Bridge, on Leesburg road, Fort Marcy.
That on the cliff north of Chain Bridge, Battery Martin Scott.
That on height near reservior, Battery Vermont.
That near Georgetown, Battery Cameron.
That on the left of Tennallytown, Fort Gaines.
That at Tennallytown, Fort Pennsylvania.
That at Emory's Chapel, Fort Massachusetts.
That near camp of Second Rhode Island Regiment, Fort Slocum.
That on Prospect Hill, near Bladensburg, Fort Lincoln.
That next on the left of Fort Lincoln, Fort Saratoga.
That next on the left of Fort Saratoga, Fort Bunker Hill.
That on the right of General Sickles' camp, Fort Stanton.
That on the right of Fort Stanton, Fort Carroll.
That on the left towards Bladensburg, Fort Greble. 
By command of Major-General McClellan:

Assistant Adjutant-General.

 Official Records, Series I., Vol. 5, Part 1, Page 611

One reason for the lack of a Union offensive in the Fall of 1861 was the resources devoted to making the capital city secure.  Thirty-two forts made up a strong defensive ring around the city, sixteen of which still exist in at least trace form (see link above). 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 29, 1861 (Tuesday): Benjamin Questions Johnston

Secretary of War Judah Benjamin

RICHMOND, September 29, 1861.

Headquarters Army of the Potomac:
SIR: Your letter of the 26th instant has been handed to me by Captain Preston, and has received the attention both of the President and myself. It is extremely difficult, even with the aid of such information as Captain Preston has been able to give us orally, as suggested by you, to determine whether or not we can furnish you the further means you may deem necessary to assume the active offensive. We have not in the Department a single return from your army of the quantity of ammunition, artillery, means of transportation, or sick in camp or in hospitals, to enable us to form a judgment of what your necessities may be. Having had charge of the War Department but a few days, my first effort was to master out situation, to understand thoroughly what we had and n what our deficiencies consisted, but I have been completely foiled at all points by the total absence of systematic returns. I beg to call your attention to this, as it will be obvious to you that the Department cannot be administered without a thorough reform in this respect. I have, therefore, earnestly requested the President to visit your headquarters in person, and to learn on confederence with you the rue position of your army in all respects, and the possibility of a prompt offensive movement. He has consented to this, and I hope will reach your camp will be carefully considered in disposing of the services of that justly esteemed officer.

I am, respectfully,

Acting Secretary of War.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 5, Part 1, Page 853

Benjamin and Johnston would soon be on a more adversarial footing.  Beyond the complaints Johnston would make with regard to his relative rank in the Army, he would also do his standing with Richmond no small amount of harm by being poorly organized.  Benjamin, who could slice and dice an opponent with a pen with the facility some would wield a word, here artfully points out to Johnston the administration cannot meet his needs if he cannot even tell him what his strength is and what his needs are.  It is the first volley of many fired between the two men. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 28, 1861 (Monday): Johnston Strikes Fear In Union (Seriously)

General Charles P. Stone and Daughter Hettie
Poolesville, September 28, 1861.

Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding Division, Darnestown, Md.:
GENERAL: The letter of which the inclosed is a copy has just been received from Colonel Geary.* I do not think that so large a force is in the vicinity of Leesburg but a smaller one by half could greatly annoy Colonel Geary and might succeed in doing considerable mischief by a temporary crossing and immediate return. I would respectfully recommend that Colonel Geary be re-enforced by a regiment and some artillery in view of possiblities. It does not seem probable that Johnston would have marched such considerable forces to Leesburg during the cold storm of yesterday, and I do not think that he had a force approaching 20,000 at Leesburg the day before. Colonel Geary seems, however, in my opinion, to credit his information and ought to be strengthened.
Very respectfully, I am, general, your most obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

P. S.-Troops leaving Darnestown early in the day could easily [reach] the Monocacy by night-fall.

C. P. S.

Official Record, Series I., Vol 51, Part 1, Page490

The letter from Geary referred to stated Johnston and 27,000 men were in the neighborhood of Leasburg preparing to cross the river and attack his position.  The war had settled into an odd quiet, with occasional probes but few attacks.  The press particularly in the North, was pressing McClellan and the administration to act, but with so little knowledge of Johnston's intentions or even location, there was a reluctance to commit forces and possibly suffer another Bull Run.  As for the Confederates, it is safe to say Johnston suffered an abundance of caution.  Although Beauregard had numerous plans to advance, most of them poorly considered, Johnston did not have enough confidence in his troops to move forcefully, or at all.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 27, 1861 (Sunday): Louisiana Pays Up

C. C. Meminger
September 27, 1861.
President of the Confederate States of America:
The returns of the war tax of the State of Louisiana have been completed for all the districts except six, and as to these six the circumstances of the country will prevent their completion for several months. An estimate has been made of the probable tax of these districts by the chief collector, and the aggregate for the whole State, including these districts, will amount to about $2,700,000, from which deduct 10 per cent., $27,000; net tax, $2,430,000; the State of Louisiana has paid into the Treasury 2,500,000; excess, $70,000. Assuming this statement to be nearly correct, the State has overpaid to this Government $70,000, and the Governor of Louisiana desires that amount to be refunded, subject to a final adjustment whenever the assessments and returns are all completed. The application is so reasonable that I beg to submit an estimate for the same, and to recommend that an appropriation be made for repaying the amount, subject to the final adjustment, as above stated.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Secretary of the Treasury.

Series 4, Vol. 1, Part 1, Page 623

The amount of revenue brought into the Confederacy's coffers was only around 10%.  The main source of revenue was issuance of bonds, a small amount of foreign borrowing, and even issuance of some currency which bore interest. 

September 26, 1861 (Saturday): Another Skirmish at Lewinsville

General Joseph B. Kershaw

September 26, 1861.

Col. Thomas Jordan,
     Assistant Adjutant-General:
   COLONEL:  I send herewith the report of Colonel Stuart upon the movement of yesterday.  Colonel Kershaw’s will be forwarded as soon as received.*  I am inclined to think that the failure of the effort is due entirely to Colonel Kershaw’s getting on a different road from the one I intended he should have taken.  Had he been up to time there is no doubt but there would have been one more Bull Run affair.  As things miscarried, the enemy discovered us in time to get a good start.  I would be glad to have the streams between the Court-House and this bridged.  The crossings are almost impassable.  My bake over is just finished here and I would like to get a couple of bakers.  The details from my own brigade are so heavy that I do not wish to order it from my own.  My masons, by the by, declare that we will surely move in a few days, as we have not yet been able to use one of the last three ovens they have built.  A verbal message was left here a few days ago to the effect that it was not desired to keep our pickets strictly to their present line.  Is it desired that they should advance?  I have kept them from moving a little at a time where it can be done, but do not think any force strong enough to make any decided advance movement.  The message left on Munson’s Hill by Colonel Preston, of General Johnston’s staff.  Colonel Kershaw’s regiment has at his request been allowed to remain here a few days over his time.
   I remain, sir, very respectfully,
                                                                        JAMES LONGSTREET
                                                                        Brigadier-General, Commanding

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 2, Page 314

A Union force of 5,100 men under Baldy Smith moved forward to Lewinsville to forage.  Having gathered a considerable quantity of supplies they were near ready to return when attacked by Kershaw’s men.  As with the first engagement at Lewinsville two weeks before, casualties on both sides were light.  This would be the first, and not the last, time Longstreet would blame a failed attack on someone else being on the wrong road at the wrong time.

September 25, 1861 (Thursday): Johnston Appoints A Staff

General Albert Sidney Johnston

No. 2.
Columbus, Ky., September 26, 1861.
The following officers are announced as the personal and departmental staff of General Albert S. Johnston, commanding, viz:
Personal staff-Aide-de-camp, R. P Hunt, lieutenant, C. S. Army; volunteer aides, Colonel Robert W. Johnson, Colonel Thomas C. Reynolds, Colonel Sam. Tate, Major General T. Howard, Major D. M. Hayden, Major Ed. W. Munford.
Department of orders-Lieutenant Colonel W. W. Mackall, assistant adjutant--general; Captain H. P. Brewster, assistant adjutant-general; First Lieutenant N. Wickliffe, acting assistant adjutant-general.
Quartermaster's department-Major Albert J. Smith, principal quartermaster.
Commissary department-Captain Thomas K. Jackson, principal commissary.
Engineer corps-First Lieutenant Joseph Dixon.
By command of General A. S. Johnston:

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 154

Johnston's staff may seem large to the modern reader, but it was not out of line with those of others.  The roles and responsibilities would change as the war went on, with most staffs eventually including an adjutant-general, aides-de-camp, chief of artillery, engineer officer, inspector general, judge, ordinance officer, commissary officer, and quartermaster officer.  An excellent reference to staff officers is "Staff Officers In Gray" by Robert E. L. Krick

Friday, September 23, 2011

September 24, 1861 (Wednesday): Longstreet Offers to Resign

General James Longstreet

September 24, 1861 

Col. Thomas Jordan,
     Assistant Adjutant-General:
   COLONEL:  I have recently heard from various and reliable sources that one or more major-generals have been appointed and that the appointments have been given to persons whom, under the law and on account of services, I should now rank.  I can cheerfully submit to have persons placed over me who have rendered any particular service, but I cannot admit the right or justice of having persons placed over me on any other account.  When I returned to my home to take part in the cause of my people, I sacrificed everything except, as I thought, the hope of a proper recognition of my services.  The placing of persons above me whom I have always ranked and who have just joined this service I regard as great injustice.  I therefore request that an officer be detailed to relieve me of this command.  I think that I have done my share of this service, which is not altogether the most agreeable.
   I remain, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding           

Series I., Vol. 51, Part 2, Page 310

On September 19 Earl Van Dorn and G. W. Smith were promoted to Major General, prompting Longstreet's offer to resign.  The letter is so similar to Joe Johnston's missives on ranks, and Longstreet and Johnston were so close, it must be considered this is a bit of mischief on Johnston's part.  Jordan, to whom the missive is directed, was Beauregard's Chief of Staff.  To make a point about the promotions process and discomfit Beauregard at the same time was probably, to Johnston, a bit like winning the daily double.  No doubt Longstreet never had any real intent to resign.     

September 23, 1861 (Tuesday): T. S. Lowe-Forward Air Controller

Professor Lowe and His Baloon
CAMP ADVANCE, September 23, 1861.
General F. J. PORTER:
At about 8.30 to-morrow morning I wish to fire from here at Falls Church. Will you please send the balloon up from Fort Corcoran and have note taken of the position reached by the shell, and telegraph each observation at once.

Official Records, Series III., Vol. 3, Part 1, Page 262

The Civil War was the origin of many innovations in the art of war.  In this memo, General Smith is asking Professor Lowe's balloon be sent up to function as a forward air controller.  Equipped with a telegraph whose line ran to the ground, Lowe would send back information as to the fall of shells, allowing for correction and more accurate firing.  Although Lowe and his balloon were successful in this role, the Army failed to follow through, quibbling over the cost of Lowe's services. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 22, 1861 (Monday): The Rules of War Violated by Lane of Kansas

James Lane, Kansas

Report of Brig. Gen. James H. Lane, commanding Kansas Brigade.

CAMP MONTGOMERY, September 24, 1861.
     SIR:  Your dispatch of September 18 is this moment received.  My brigade is now marching to this point from Osceola, where I have been on a forced march, expecting to cut off the enemy’s train of ammunition.  The enemy ambushed the approaches to the town, and after being driven from them by the advance under Colonels Montgomery and Weer, they took refuge in the buildings of the town to annoy us.   We were compelled to shell them out, and in doing so the pace was burned to ashes, with an immense amount of stores of all descriptions.  There were 15 or 20 of them killed and wounded; we lost none.  Full particulars will be furnished you hereafter.
*                  *                 *                    *                     *          *             *         *             *
                                                                                    J. H. LANE.

Major-General FREMONT,
     Commanding Western Department

Official Records, Series. I, Vol. 3, Page 196

In the aftermath of Wilson’s Creek, Lane’s small force of 1500 men followed in the wake of Sterling Price’s force.  When they arrived at Osceola, many of the men were drunk.  Lane decided to take the town and round up Confederate sympathizers.  Although not mentioned here, a drum head court martial was held and nine local citizens were executed.  The town was fired on by artillery and burned for little, if any, military purpose.  It is little noted that Lane was given a command by Lincoln, and it is not unlikely he knew exactly the sort of person Lane was or what sort of war he would wage. Here is what Lincoln said on the subject:

“ Since you spoke to me yesterday about General J. H. Lane of Kansas, I have been reflecting upon the subject, and have concluded that we need the services of such a man out there at once; that we better appoint him a brigadier-general of volunteers to-day, and send him off with such authority to raise a force (I think two regiments better than three, but as to this I am not particular) as you think will get him into actual work quickest.  Tell him when he starts to put it through.  Not be writing or telegraphing back here, but put it through.  (Underline added by editor)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 21, 1861 (Sunday): Native Americans in Eastern Virginia

General John Bankhead Magruder

Richmond, Va., September 21, 1861.
Brigadier-General Magruder,
            Commanding Army of Peninsula, Williamsburg, Va.:
   GENERAL:  I am requested by the Governor to acquaint you there are remnants of Indian tribes in the counties of King William and King and Queen, which may possibly, by uninformed persons, be confounded with persons of color.  These Indians are not to be held to labor, as would be the case in certain contingencies with free negroes.  But the Governor is of the opinion that, if a call is made upon the chief (Wynne), he will cheerfully furnish laborers to aid in the common defense.
    I am, &c.,
                                                                                    GEO. DEAS,
                                                                        Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 2, Page 306

The irony of the letter speaks for itself.  The tribes involved would be most likely the Mattaponi or Rappahanock.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 20, 1861 (Saturday): Price Takes A Mulligan

Colonel James A. Mulligan
SAINT LOUIS, September 20, 1861.

General JAMES H. LANE:
SIR: It is reported that Lexington is surrounded by an overwhelming rebel force of 16,000, and that our re-enforcements from Utica and Liberty, under command of Brigadier-General Sturgis, are opposite Lexington, and prevented from crossing the river by two rebel batteries. To assist Colonel Mulligan and his brave little band of 2,000, you will harass the enemy as much as possible by sudden attacks upon his flank and rear.
Should Acting Brigadier General Jefferson C. Davis not succeed in effecting a junction with Colonel Mulligan at Lexington he will retreat, and take such a position as haw own strength and the movements and force of the enemy may render advisable. In case the whole rebel force is concentrated around Lexington, he will probably retreat to Davis' Creek, or at farthest ot Dunksburg, at eighter of which places a junction with your forces may be effected. Should the rebels hold Warrensburg with a larger force than that of Acting Brigadier-General Davis, or should he ascertain that McCulloch is also operating towards Lexington, he will take position at Georgetown or Sedalia. You will keep me constantly informed of your own movements and those of the enemy.

Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol 3., Page 181

Outnumbered two to one, Mulligan's men were surrounded at Lexington, Missouri by 7,000 troops under Sterling Price.  Moving forward under the cover of large bales of hemp found in a nearby warehouse, Price's men compelled he surrender of Mulligan's force (which was without water or supplies) at 2 p.m.    Fremont's failure to move to Mulligan's aid until too late to have effect added to a list of concerns regarding his leadership ability.

September 19, 1861 (Friday): "$40,000 Would Afford Great Relief"

Governor Henry M. Rector, Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK, October 31, 1861.

Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN:

Our men under Hardee in Kentucky have not been paid. They are so far from home that our bonds are worthless to them. We learn also that the paymaster of the Confederate Government from some cause has not paid them either. Great dissatisfaction exists among those troops, and I have no doubt they are suffering for the want of a small amount of means. Forty thousand dollars would afford great relief. We have bought a large amount of clothing for your Government and paid for it, but it will take some time to prepare the accounts for payment. We ask that $50,000 be advanced to us upon this clothing account or in any other way, that we may pay off Hardee's men the balance due them by the State.

Governor of Arkansas.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 192

As with the Union armies in the field, paying the troops was a great concern.  Not only had state governments not planned for war, there were questions as to the responsibility of the national governments to pay state troops.  The ability to keep armies in the field was directly influenced by the states ability to pay them, as troops were gravely concerned with their ability to provide for their families at home.

September 18, 1861 (Thursday): Guests of the Government

Kemp Hall, Frederick, Maryland

Fort Monroe, September 18, 1861.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States.

SIR: The bearer of this letter, Major Cannon, has been acting on my staff as aide-de-camp for about two weeks. From his ability and opportunity for information he has become familiar with many important questions relating to this department and will be able to explain various circumstances connected with it that concern the public service and for this purpose he goes by my direction to Washington.

The state prisoners arrested in Baltimore (the mayor and others) have been here for several days in close custody without any direct authority or instructions from the Government, the only official communication to me on this subject being an extract from a letter addressed to General Dix and sent me by the letter. I have written to the Secretary of War in regard to them but have received no reply. Major Cannon can explain fully their condition and the difficulty I have in keeping them safety from the crowded state of the fort without injury to their health from insufficient air and ventilation.

With considerations of high respect, I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Series II., Vol. 1, Page 682

On September 12 General Banks, at the direction of the administration, arrested several members of the Maryland State Legislature, which was about to convene at Kemp Hall in Frederick.  Their crime was to be suspected of harboring Southern sympathies and possibly voting to secede from the Union, which there is much doubt could have been accomplished in any case.  Here General Wool worries about the living conditions of the prisoners, writing directly to the President.  Instead, Secretary Seward would respond, allowing the men some additional freedom within the confines of the prisoners but not allowing them visitors except as approved and with the presence of a commissioned officer.

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 17, 1861 (Wednesday): "President" and "General" Atchison Wins at Liberty

Senator (No Quotation Marks) Atchison

Report of “General” D. R. Atchison,* Confederate service

Lexington, MO., September 21, 1861.
   SIR:  In pursuance of your orders I left this place on the evening of the 15th instant, and proceeded forthwith to Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, where I met the State Guard, on the march from the northwest—five regiments of infantry, under the command of Colonel Saunders, and one regiment of cavalry, under the command of Colonel Wilfey, from the fifth district; five regiments of infantry, under the command of Col. Jeff. Patton, and one battalion of cavalry, under Colonel Childs, from the fourth district.  I delivered you orders to the above commands to haste to this point (Lexington) with as much dispatch as possible.  They marched forthwith, and arrived at the Missouri River about 4 o’clock in the evening, when Colonel Boyd’s artillery and battalion and baggage were crossed over to the south side, where the colonel took his position, Captain Kelly planting his artillery so as to completely command the river.  The crossing continued all night without interruption, every officer and man using his best exertions.  We received news during the night that the enemy would be in the town of Liberty, about 6 miles distant from Blue Mills Ferry, at an early hour the ensuing morning.  We were crossing in three small flats, and much time was necessary to move the large train, of some hundred wagons.  Colonel Childs, with his command, had taken post for the night about 2 miles from Liberty, on the road to the ferry.  Here he engaged the enemy’s advance or pickets in the morning, killing 4 and wounding 1, with no loss on our side.  The enemy fled, and we heard no more of them till 3 or 4 o’clock, when their approach was announced, in large force, supposed to be about 900 men, with one piece of artillery (a 6-pounder).  The men of our command immediately formed, Col. Jeff. Patton leading the advance, to meet the enemy.  After proceeding about 3 miles from the river they met the advance guard of the enemy, and the fight commenced.  But the Federal troops almost immediately fled, our men pursuing rapidly, shooting them down until they annihilated the rear of their army, taking one caisson, killing about 60, and wounding, it is said, about 70.  The Federal troops attempted tow or three times to make a stand, but ran after delivering one fire.  Our men followed them like hounds on a wolf chase, strewing the road with the dead and wounded, until they were compelled to give over the chase from exhaustion, the evening being very warm.  Colonel Saunders, Colonel Patton, Colonel Childs, Colonel Cundiff, Colonel Wilfey, Major Gause.  Adjutant Shackleford, and all the other officers and men, as far as I know, or could learn, behaved gallantly.+

                                                                                                D. R. ATCHISON.
General Price

+A return of casualties for Fourth Division Missouri State Guard reports a loss of 2 killed and 3 wounded in this action.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 3, Page 195

The action at Blue Mills Landing in Missouri is typical of events in 1861 in Missouri.  After the battle of Wilson’s Creek, Confederate forces under Sterling Price seemed to gain momentum.  In this instance, a force of around 3,500 men under former President pro temp of the Senate, David Rice Achison moved to unite with Price’s men and were blocked by 600 Union troops under Lieutenant-Colonel John Scott.  Scott’s artillery held Atchison back for a time, but aggressive moves against the right flank of the Union force compelled a fighting retreat.  Typical of such engagements, Scott claimed Atchison had 1,000 more men than he did, Atchison thought he was fighting a force one-third again larger than he had, Scott believed he had inflicted 160 casualities (the real Confederate loss 70), and Atchison believed he had taken out of action 74 more men than the 56 casualties Scott suffered.  Scott’s men were in the area keeping an eye on the Platte River Railroad Bridge near Saint Joseph, which had been sabotaged on September 3, causing a train to plunge into the river, killing 17 and injuring 100.  Achison, while speaker pro temp of the Senate is often described as having been President of the United States for one day (Sunday, March 4, 1849).  James Polk’s term ended at noon, and his successor (Zachary Taylor) refused to be sworn in on a Sunday.  Since the new Vice-President, Milard Filmore, hadn’t taken office, the President pro temp should have become President, excepting that Atchison had not taken his oath either.  Atchison never considered he had been President and maintained a good sense of humor on the topic.  There is question also as to whether Atchison was ever a general in the Missouri Guard, hence the quotation markers around “general” in the O. R.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 16, 1861 (Tuesday): Lincoln Looks for Loyalists

Capture of Fort Hatteras

                                                            EXECUTIVE MANSION,
Washington, D. C., September 16, 1861.
Lieutenant-General Scott:
   MY DEAR SIR:  Since conversing with you I have concluded to request you to frame an order for recruiting North Carolinians at Fort Hatteras.  I suggest it be so framed as for me to accept a smaller force—even a company—if we cannot get a regiment or more.  What is necessary to now say about officers, you will judge.  Governor Seward says he has a nephew (Clarence A. Seward, I believe) who would be willing to go and play colonel and assist in raising the force.  Still it is to be considered whether the North Carolinians will not prefer officers of their own.  I should expect they would.
    Yours, very truly,

Series I., Vol. 4, Page 613

The Governor Seward referenced is Secretary of State Seward, who had been governor of New York early in his political career.  Clarence Seward later became assistant secretary of state when his uncle was badly injured in an attack connected to the Lincoln assassination.  Fort Hatteras had been taken in late August, and was considered a significant victory.  Lincoln hoped the recruitment of loyal North Carolina troops would be a morale boosting victory for the North.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 15, 1861 (Monday): Dear Mr. President

Captain John McNeil, McNeil's Rangers

September 15, 1861.


HONORABLE SIR: I will say to you that I am held as a prisoner in this place. I was taken near Petersburg, Hardy County, Va. I live in Preston County, Va., and was on my way to Moorefield, Hardy County, on business and I had to go some thirty-five miles out of my way to get there in order to get around the Yankee camps, and then was taken by the Rockbridge Cavalry and brought here. I am charged with being a Union man, and I am not, and can prove that I have taken strong grounds in favor of the Confederacy, and was taken prisoner by the Yankee. This I can prove by the best of men in Tucker and Preston Counties if I could get any word to them. But I am cut off from any communication with them and I ask of you my release, for I am kept on the streets at work and digging graves Sundays as well as any other day. They have also taken a fine horse and saddle from me. I was taken on the 22nd August, and I am at this time 130 or 140 miles from home, with the Yankees between me and my home. Therefore I can't get any assistance from there-not as much as a change of clothes. I ask your honor for my release, and also for my horse or his value. I understand that I am to be moved up to Staunton to-morrow; but as to this I cannot say whether they will or not. Sir, I am a Virginia, and am proud to say that I have always been loyal to my native State, and am still willing to remain so.

Your humble servant,

P. S. -I am well treated by your men generally. There are some few that curse me, and say they will shoot me before I leave the guard house.

J. W. O.

Official Records, Series II, Vol. 2, Part 1, Page 1382

It appears Mr. Overman was on the level as to his sympathies.  According to the National Park Service Civil War Soldier Database, John W. Overman joined McNeil's Partisan Rangers later in the war.  It is likely this is the same Overman, as the headquarters of the Rangers was at Moorefield.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 14, 1861 (Sunday): So, We Don't Shoot the Wounded?

Gratiot Street Prison, Saint Louis
Saint Louis, September 14, 1861.

Colonel T. T. TAYLOR, Commanding at Springfield:
SIR: Yours of the 8th instant,* containing an erroneous construction of my proclamation dated on the 30th ultimo, has had my attention. I understand the object of your note to be to inquire whether it was my intention to shoot the wounded who might be taken prisoners by the forces under my command. The following paragraph, extracted from the proclamation, will be strictly enforced within the lines prescribed against the class of offenders for whom it was intended, viz:
All persons who shall be taken with arms in their hands within these lines shall be tried by court-martial, and if found guilty will be shot.
The lines are expressly declared to be those of the army in the military occupation of this State. You have wholly misapprehended the meaning of the proclamation. Without undertaking to determine the condition of any man engaged in this rebellion, I desire it to be clearly understood that the proclamation is intended distinctly to recognize all the usual rights of an open enemy in the field, and to be in all respects strictly conformable to the ordinary usages of war. It is hardly necessary for me to say that it was not prepared with any purpose to ignore the ordinary rights of humanity with respect to wounded men or to those who are humanely engaged in alleviating their sufferings.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 3, Page 492.

Fremont's proclamation of September 8th had already elicited strong comment from President Lincoln.  It appears also to have confused Colonel Taylor, a literalist who read the document to mean armed prisoners captured on the field of battle should be shot.  That was a bit much, even for Fremont. 

September 13, 1861 (Saturday): Lee Fails to Take Cheat Mountain

General Albert Rust

  Report of Colonel Albert Rust, Third Arkansas Infantry.

CAMP BARTOW, September 13, 1861-10 p. m.

   GENERAL: The expedition against Cheat Mountain failed. My command consisted of between 1,500 and 1,600 men. Got there at the appointed time, notwithstanding the rain. Seized a number of their pickets and scouts. Learned from them that the enemy was between 4,000 and 5,000 strong, and they reported them to be strongly fortified. Upon a reconnaissance their representations were fully corroborated. A fort or block-house on the point or elbow of the road, entrenchments on the south, and outside of the entrenchments and all around up to the road heavy and impassable abatis, if the enemy were not behind them. Colonel Baton, my lieutenant-colonel, and all the field offices declared it would be madness to make na attack. We learned from the prisoners they were aware of your movements, and had been telegraphed of re-enforcements, and i heard three pieces of artillery pass down toward your encampment while we were seeking to make na assault upon them.
   I took the assistant commissary, and for one regiment I found upon his person a requisition for 930 rations; also a letter indicating they had very little subsistence. I brought only one prisoner back with me. The cowardice of the guard (not Arkansan) permitted the others to escape. Spies had evidently communicated our movements to the enemy. The fort was completed, as reported by the different prisoners examined separately, and another in process of construction. We got near enough to see the enemy in the trenches beyond the abatis. The most of my command behaved admirably. Some I would prefer to be without upon any expedition.
   General Jackson requests me to say that he is in possession of the first summit of Cheat Mountain, and hopes you are doing something in Tygart's Valley, and will retain command of it until he receives orders from your quarters. My own opinion is that there is nothing to be gained by occupying that mountain. It will take a heavy force tot make the pass, and at a heavy loss. I knew the enemy had four times my force; but for the abatis we would have made the assault. We could not get to them to make it. The general says, in his note to me, his occupying Cheat Mountain may bring on an engagement, but he is pre-pared and will whip them if they come.  I see from the postscript that he requests his note to me to be enclosed to you.  I can only say that all human power could do towards success in my expedition failed of success.  The taking of the picket looked like a providential interposition.  I took the first one myself, being at he head of the column when I got to the road.
   In great haste, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
A.    RUST
Colonel, &c.
General Loring, Commanding, &c.

Official Records, Series I., Vol 5., Page 192
Lee attempted to surround Fort Milroy, the defenses at the top of Cheat Mountain designed to defend the Staunton and Parkersburg Turnpike.  Lee personally oversaw the attacks, although General William C. Loring had direct command of his troops (the Army of the Northwest).  Although outnumbered 3,000 to 1,500, the Union forces had a commanding position and heavy obstructions plus better knowledge of the terrain.  The weather, with rain and fog, added to the advantage of the defenses.  When Lee’s three attacking columns were unable to gain ground or even coordinate with each other, they eventually were withdraw.  Casualties were around 100 on either side and the battle resulted in no advantage.  Lee would be recalled to Richmond at the end of October, and Loring would gain some measure of fame during his dispute with Stonewall Jackson.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 12, 1861 (Friday): The Epic Battle of the Fall of 1861-Johnston and Davis

General Joseph E. Johnston

RICHMOND, VA., September 13, 1861.
   MY DEAR GENERAL:  Yours of the 10th instant* is before me, and I can only suppose you have been deceived by someone of that class in whose absence “the strife ceaseth.”  While you were in the valley of Virginia your army and that of General Beauregard were independent commands; when you marched to Manassas the forces joined and did duty together.  I trust the two officers highest in military rank at Richmond were too well informed to have doubted in either case as to your power and duty.  Persons have talked here of the command of yourself and Beauregard as separate armies, and complaints have been uttered to the effect that you took the re-enforcements and guns for your own army; but to educated soldiers this could only seem the muttering of the uninstructed, the rivalry of those who did not comprehend that unity was a necessity, a law of existence.  Not having heard accusations, I am, like yourself, ignorant of the specifications, and will add that I do not believe any disposition has existed on the part of the gentlemen to whom you refer to criticize, still less to detract, from you.  If they believed that you did not exercise command over the whole, it was, I doubt not, ascribed to delicacy.
   You are not mistaken in your construction of my letters having been written to you as the commanding general.  I have, however, sometimes had to repel the idea that there was a want of co-operation between yourself and second in command, or a want of recognition of your position as the senior and commanding general of all the forces serving at or near to the field or your late brilliant achievements.
   While writing it occurs to me that statements have been made and official applications received in relation to staff officers which suggested a continuance of separation rather than unity in the “Army of the Potomac.”
    I did not understand your suggestion as to a commander-in-chief for your army.  The laws of the Confederacy in relation to generals have provisions, which are new and unsettled by decisions.  Their position is special, and the attention of Congress was called to what might be regarded as a conflict of laws.  Their action was confined to the fixing of dates for the generals of the C. S. Army.
     Your friend,
                                                                                    JEFRERSON DAVIS

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 5, Page 850

The feud between Davis and Johnston is often discussed to general terms, more to seek origins than to describe results.  It is worth considering, then, what the consequences of this dispute were to the Confederate military efforts after Bull Run.  The Confederates were closer to Washington than they would come until Early’s Raid in 1864.  Yet they made no efforts to gain initiative, no threatening posture which might have drawn forces away from the Union’s successful efforts in western Virginia, and no raids to foster fears among the Northern public as to the ultimate success of the Union in the conflict.  It is injurious to the reputations of both Johnston and Davis that the fall of 1861 in Northern Virginia was dominated not by efforts to get at the enemy but to questions of rank, authority, and credit.  Johnston should not have engaged in it, Davis should not have tolerated it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11, 1861 (Thursday): Lewinsville-"Not A Scratch to Man or Horse"

General William F. Smith and Staff

Report of Col. James E. B. Stuart, First Virginia Cavalry.

HEADQUARTERS, MUNSON’S HILL, September 11, 1861.
   GENERAL:  I started about 12 o’clock with the Thirteenth Virginia Volunteers, commanded by Major Terrill (306 men), one section of Rosser’s battery, Washington Artillery, and a detachment of the First Cavalry, under Captain Patrick, for Lewinsville, where I learned from my cavalry pickets the enemy were posted with some force.  My intention was to surprise them, and I succeeded entirely, approaching Lewinsville by the enemy’s left and rear, taking care to keep my small force an entire secret from their observation.  I at the same time carefully provided against the disaster to myself which I was striving to inflict upon the enemy, and felt sure that, if necessary, I could fall back successfully before any force the enemy might have, for the country was favorable to retreat and ambuscade.
   At a point nicely screened by the woods from Lewinsville, and a few hundred yards from the place, I sent forward, under Major Terrill, a portion of his command stealthily to reach the woods at a turn of the road and reconnoiter beyond.  This was admirably done, and the major soon reported to me that the enemy had a piece of artillery in position in the road just at Lewinsville, commanding our road.  I directed him immediately to post his riflemen so as to render it impossible for the cannoneers to serve the piece, and, if possible, capture it.  During subsequent operations the cannoneers tried ineffectually to serve the piece, and finally, after one was shot through the head, the piece was taken off.
   While this was going on a few shots from Rosser’s section at a cluster of the enemy a quarter of a mile off put the entire force on the enemy in full retreat, exposing their entire column to flank fire from our piece.  Some wagons and a large body of cavalry first passed in hasty flight, the rifled pie and howitzer firing as they passed.  Then came flying a battery, eight piece of artillery (Griffin’s), which soon took position about 600 yards to our front and right, and rained shot and shell upon us during the entire engagement, but with harmless effect, although striking very near.  Then passed three regiments of infantry at double-quick, receiving in succession as they passed Rosser’s unerring salutation, his shells bursting directly over their heads, and creating the greatest havoc and confusion in their ranks.  The last infantry regiment was followed by a column of cavalry, which at one time rode over the rear of the infantry in great confusion.  The field, general, and staff officers were seen exerting every effort to restore order in their broken ranks, and my cavalry vedettes, observing their flight, reported that they finally rallied a mile and a half below and took position there, firing round after round of artillery from that position up the road where they supposed our columns would be pursuing them.
   Captain Rosser, having no enemy left to contend with, at his own request was permitted to view the ground of the enemy’s flight, and found the road plowed up by his solid shot and strewn with fragments of shells, 2 men left dead in the road, 1 mortally wounded, and 1 not hurt taken prisoner.  The prisoners said the havoc in their ranks was fearful, justifying what I saw myself of the confusion.  Major Terrill’s sharpshooters were by no means idle, firing wherever a straggling Yankee showed his head, and caputuring a lieutenant (captured by Major Terrill himself), 1 sergeant, and 1 private, all belonging to the Nineteenth Indiana, Colonel Meredith.  The prisoners reported to me that General McClellan himself was present, and the enemy gave it out publicly that the occupancy of Lewinsville was to be permanent.  Alas for human expectations!
…Our loss was not a scratch to man or horse…..
     Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                                                    J. E. B. STUART,
                                                                                    Colonel, Commanding.

General James Longstreet.

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 5, Page 184.

The accounts of the skirmish at Lewinsville are very instructive, in terms of seeing how differently the two sides viewed the same events.  McClellan considered it a successful reconnaissance (“We shall have no more Bull Run affairs.”) and Johnston thought it a rousing Southern success.  Both were true to a degree.  William French Smith’s 2000 men had gone out the Chain Bridge Road as far as Lewinsville and stayed long enough to make observations of the countryside with views over the plain toward Vienna.  J. E. B. Stuart’s cavalry with a small contingent of infantry from Longstreet did, in fact, surprise the Union troops and cause some excitement (but no where near that in Confederate reports).  The skirmish was noteworthy as well for the return to action of Griffin’s 5th U. S. Artillery, which took the worse of things at Bull Run.  It also become the rationale for appointing Stuart a Brigadier-General.  Johnston and Longstreet were effusive in their praise for Stuart, with Longstreet even suggesting Stuart had been better off for not having received his (Longstreet’s) instructions and, instead, acting on his own initiative.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 10, 1861 (Wednesday): Battle at Carnifex Ferry

Patteson House, Carnifex Ferry Battlefield

Reports of Brig. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, U. S. Army, commanding Army of Occuption, West Virginia.

CAMP SCOTT, September 11, 1861—p.m.
     We yesterday marched 17 ½ miles, reached the enemy’s intrenched position in front  of Carnifix Ferry, driving his advanced outposts and pickets before us.  We found him occupying a strongly intrenched position, covered by a forest too dense to admit its being seen at a distance of 300 yards.  His force was five regiments, besides the one driven in.  He had probably sixteen pieces of artillery.
   At 3 o’clock we began a strong reconnaissance, which proceeded to such length we were about to assault the position on the flank and front, when, night coming on and our troops being completely exhausted, I drew them out of the woods and posted them in the order of battle behind ridges immediately in front of the enemy’s position, where they rested on their arms till morning.
   Shortly after daylight a runaway contraband came in and reported that the enemy had crossed the Gauley during the night by means of the ferry and a bridge which they had completed.
   Colonel Ewing was ordered to take possession of the camp, which he did about 7 o’clock, capturing a few prisoners, two stands of colors, a considerable quantity of arms and quartermaster’s stores, messing and camp equipage.
   The enemy having destroyed the bridge across the Gauley, which here rushes through a deep gorge, and our troops being still much fatigued, and having no material for immediately repairs the bridge, it was thought prudent to encamp the troops, occupy the ferry and the captured camp, sending a few rifle-cannon shots after the enemy to produce a moral effect.
   Our loss would probably amount to 20 killed and 100 wounded.  The enemy’s lost has not been ascertained, but from report it must have been considerable.

                                                                                    W. S. ROSECRANS,
                                                                        Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 5, Page 119.

Rosecrans had only used five regiments out of his 7,000 troop force, the territory making it very difficult to deploy his forces.  Union casualties were about 150 and Floyd’s Confederates lost just 20 wounded out of 5,800 engaged.  Although successful in repulsing the attacks, Floyd was forced to move further east toward Lewisburg and further loosened the Confederate grip on western Virginia.  Floyd blamed his having to retire eastward on Wise and Wise predictably blamed the situation on Floyd. Soon they would be parted, with Wise's Legion folded into Floyd's command.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 9, 1861 (Tuesday): Greasing the Skids for L. P. Walker

Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker
RICHMOND, VA., September 9, 1861.

Hon. L. P. WALKER,
Secretary of War:

MY DEAR SIR: When in connection with the manifestation by the Congress of a want of confidence in the administration of affairs of the War Department I asked you if you would like to go to Europe, you expressed so decided a purpose to retire from this Cabinet, but so positive a reluctance to the proposed change of service, that it is considered needless to recur to that proposition. I write now to inquire whether there is may other position to which I write now to inquire whether there is any other position to which I could assign you that would be entirely acceptable. The personal regard I feel for you, and my desire to promote your welfare and happiness, is, I hope, too well appreciated by you to permit a misconstruction of this offer. To sever the relation which has so closely united us is so repugnant to my sentiment that only the conviction of a public necessity, which I have unsuccessfully striven to avert, could have reconciled me to the separation.

Very respectfully and truly, yours,


Official Records Series IV, Vol. 1, Part 1, Page 600

Walker's tenure as Secretary of War was a week away from coming to an end.  Hard working, Walker was physically unable to meet the demands of his position and looked to be removed from it, and from the criticism of Congress and the press.  He remained on good terms with both Davis and the man who succeeded him, Judah P. Benjamin.  Before Sumter he was active in gathering support for the Southern Confederacy and on leaving his post he was appointed a general, although he saw no action in the field.  Returning to his native Alabama, he was a figure of no small political influence until his death in 1884.  His other claim to fame was having given discretionary orders to Beauregard which directly lead to the attack on Fort Sumter.

September 8, 1861 (Monday): A Ruse Gone Wrong

Fort Lafayette

                                                                        FORT LAFAYETTE, September 8, 1861.
    Dear Sir:  By means of a letter written my son-in-law, N. R. Mendenhall, and which fell into the hands of the Government, I was arrested and, as the Times and Herald state, for building a rifle battery for the South.  You have known me for many years and are fully aware that I am in every sense of the word a Union man.  You are also aware that I own some property, mining and otherwise, in North Carolina.  I accordingly wrote the letter in which I stated that I had built a machine and would be glad to dispose of it South, and that were it not for my family I would be South in order to assist in driving back abolitionists, &c.  I intended it as a ruse in order to prevent the confiscation of my property, knowing that Mendenhall would make the contents known in Greensborough, N.C, and at the same time trusting of my own true and loyal feelings to shield me from suspicion, in which I erred.
   Now, sir, in candor and in the presence of the Almighty I do solemnly aver that I have never built any battery for the South nor was I building or intending to build one for them.  Neither have I ever in any way, shape or form furnished any drawings or information regarding the same to any parties South nor intended doing so.  The battery I was building is a small 16-inch model which in accordance with my cousin’s instructions would first go to Washington (perfected with self-primers) in order to exhibit it (as I did the large one now in Washington) before the President and officers of the Government, and then to take the same to General Fremont via Chicago and Saint Louise.  These are the facts and still those papers have made the above assertion.
   Will you, Mr. Sturgis, oblige myself and family by having those papers state the facts, and also to write Mr. Seward, Secretary of State, stating the facts in the case?  I am willing and ready to act for the Union and not talk as too many are doing, and I stated openly in Washington if the battery met with the approval of the Government and they would purchase it, to take my portion of it and at my own expense fit out and go with a troop of cavalry and offer the same to President Lincoln.  These facts can be substantiated by Mr. Halsted and other gentlemen in Washington.
    My family of course are in deep distress, but knowing my own innocence in the matter and trusting to my friends to aid in my release, I am content to wait with resignation their efforts.  Your kindness will be ever remembered in this affair.
     Yours, very truly,
                                                                                                E. B. WILDER

Official Records, Series II, Vol. 2, Page 695

Wilder was a 45 year old engineer in New York who had designed a small artillery piece to be used by cavalry troops.  He met with no success selling his idea to the government, but did use a description of his idea in a letter to his son-in-law in the South, hoping an offer to build such a device would help to avoid confiscation of his property in North Carolina.  His letter was intercepted and he was sent off to Fort Lafayette in New York, already crowded with suspected disloyal persons. He mounted a letter writing campaign which eventually resulted in his release in late October after he took a loyalty oath.