Monthly Archives: March 2010

HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of March 29

Only thirty new entries for the Civil War Category at the Historical Marker Database this week.  These are from Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

– City markers in Florence, Alabama note wartime activity at Rogers and Wesleyan Halls on the University of North Alabama.

– A marker in Madison, Alabama notes a successful Federal saber charge which routed a Confederate force on December 23, 1864 at nearby Indian Creek Ford.

– Markers on the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa allude to damage done when the Federals swept through in 1865.  Comer Hall is named for Braxton Bragg Comer, who as a cadet at the school witnessed the burning.  Comer later became governor of Alabama.  Former Confederate Brigadier General John T. Morgan worked, as a U.S. Congressman, to obtain reparations for the destruction.  Morgan Hall is named for him.  Woods Hall, patterned after structures at the Virginia Military Institute, was rebuilt after the war using scrap from the destroyed buildings.

– A memorial in New Preston, Connecticut lists the community’s veterans buried in the town’s cemetery.

– The Westville Soldier’s Memorial in New Haven, Connecticut lists the men who enlisted at that location to serve in the Civil War.

– Two state markers around Atlanta, Georgia notes a detour made by the Federal Fifteenth Corps, stopping at Henderson Mill on July 18, 1864 while moving from Roswell to Decatur.  Other markers from Atlanta this week note the line occupied by Scott’s Brigade of   Loring’s Confederate Division during the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

– A plaque in Decatur, Georgia discusses a cavalry skirmish fought on July 22, 1864 in the Decatur Cemetery.

Rose Cottage, in Corinth, Mississippi, was General A.S. Johnston’s headquarters prior to the advance to fight at Pittsburg Landing in April 1862.  Another stop in Corinth for the Civil War Discovery Trail discusses Batteries Robinett and Williams.  These were part of the Federal defensive lines during the Battle of Corinth, October 1862.

– A memorial in Graham, North Carolina lists the Alamance County men who died in service during our nation’s wars, including a sizable number of those from the Civil War.

– A marker near Castle Hayne, North Carolina notes the location of a large prisoner exchange held in the closing weeks of the war.

– A memorial in Findlay, Ohio notes the five Medals of Honor awarded to residents of Hancock County for Civil War service.  Three of those mentioned participated in the “Great Locomotive Chase.”

– A 42-pdr Seacoast Gun tops the Ada, Ohio Civil War Memorial.  Originally cast as a smoothbore by Tredegar Foundry in 1859, the gun was banded and rifled during the war.

– Finally got around to cataloging the War Department tablet for Robertson’s Cavalry Brigade in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania.   The brigade arrived too late to directly affect the battle of Gettysburg, but saw action covering the Confederate retreat.

Wassamassaw, South Carolina contributed the “Wassamassaw Cavalry” who became Company D, 2nd South Carolina Cavalry.

– A state marker notes the location of General Sherman’s headquarters during his eventful stay in Columbia, South Carolina.

– A Civil War Trails marker adds more information about the delaying action fought outside Columbia, Tennessee on November 24, 1864 by Federal cavalry, parrying that of General N.B. Forrest at the van of General Hood’s 1864 Tennessee Campaign.  A state marker mentions Hood’s maneuvers to cut off General Schofield between Columbia and Spring Hill as that campaign took shape.

– A center in Texas’ cotton country before the Civil War, Walker County was originally named for Senator Robert J. Walker.  But as a marker in Huntsville, Texas notes, when Senator Walker declined support for secession, the county was renamed in honor of  Texas Ranger Samuel H. Walker.

– A state marker in Jarrell, Texas notes the service of Daniel Harrison spanning from Texas Independence to the Civil War.

– A state marker in Hampton, Virginia describes the June 10, 1861 battle of Big Bethel, noted as the first battle in Virginia.  Nearby a memorial honors Henry Lawson Wyatt, a private from the 1st North Carolina Infantry with the distinction of being the first Confederate killed in the battle.

– I am adding new markers for the Malvern Hill battlefield and tweaking those already in the database to improve the location data.  This week’s additions include the welcome kiosk marker and a “small brown” marker noting failed Confederate infantry advances.

70-pdr Whitworth Rifles

Practically every gun on display at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. has a story to tell.  And in some cases a couple.  Such is the case for a 70-pdr Whitworth rifled cannon on display just outside the Naval Museum.   Contemporary sources label this gun based on the old weight of shot calculations, but modern historians opt for the land diameter of the rifling, or 5-inch.  I’ll cite the former, as it seems proper from the sources.

70-pdr or 5-in Whitworth Rifle

The history of this four-and-a-quarter ton steel weapon begins in Manchester, England with the Whitworth Ordnance Company.  Yes, you read correctly, steel.  Sir Joseph Whitworth was among the first gun-makers to benefit from the Bessemer process.   As seen in the photo, the gun construction consisted of several reinforcing bands or hoops over a central tube.   The construction of this piece should have matched the diagram provided by J. Emerson Tennent his 1864 book “The Story of the Guns.”

70-pdr Whitworth Plan

70-pdr Whitworth Plan

Overall the gun measured 133 inches.  The base layer of hoops extended 90 inches, with a second 63 inches long mounting the trunnions.  A 37-inch long breech reinforce ended just behind the trunnions.   As noted on the diagram, the gun-maker applied the interior hoop layers with hydraulic pressure.  The outer breech reinforce was threaded into place.  If Whitworth used the same method employed on his smaller weapons, the bands were forced onto the gun tube, with a very slight taper toward the rear of the gun.   Such will factor in later in the “story.”

Muzzle of 70-pdr Whitworth

Whitworth also used a distinctive hexagonal rifling system, as seen in the photo above.  If you consider the rifled grooves of a cannon as load-bearing, hexagonal rifling offers a wide surface area to impart the spin to the projectile.  Whitworth also found the shape easier to machine, and maintain.  (see Tennant, pp 43-46)   Suffice to say I’m being overly simplistic noting the details of the rifling, saving the discussion for another day.  However, for practical purposes, this rifling system required the gun to use special Whitworth projectiles.

Whitworth Projectile

Whitworth Projectile

The 70-pdr promised a range of 5,000 yards firing a solid bolt.  I would imagine that Confederate agents in England, desperate for modern ordnance, were quick to disregard any special munitions requirements for the Whitworths.  Aside from the more familiar (due to its display at Gettysburg) Whitworth field guns, agents ordered at least four of the “70-pdr Whitworth Rifles.”  My speculation is, due to the breeching loop seen on the example at the Navy Yard, is the Confederates intended these rifles for naval applications.  As reinforcement, I would point out the four rifles known to be purchased at that time were shipped on the steamer Princess Royal along with two engines destined for ironclads under construction.

That sets up the first story about these guns.  Four days out from Bermuda, the Princess Royal arrived off Charleston on the morning of January 29, 1863 and attempted to slip through the blockade.  At around 3:15 a.m., lookouts on the U.S.S. Undilla spotted a light heading toward the harbor.  Commander of the Undilla, Lieutenant-Commander S.P. Quackenbush, brought the ship to quarters and slipped anchor.  Aided by rockets fired from the nearby USS G.W. Blunt, the Undilla maneuvered to intercept the Princess Royal, and fired two shots.  The blockade runner altered course and headed to ground on the beach.   With her crew abandoning ship, Quackenbush sent a detachment to take possession of the Princess Royal.  By dawn, the navy inventoried “rifled guns, arms, ammunition, steam engines for ironclads building in Charleston, and an assorted cargo.” (ONR, Series I, Volume 13, page 554)

Inscription on the Breech

As a testament to the capture, the piece on display at the Navy Yard bears the inscription on the breech: “Whitworth 80-pdr [sic] Rifle // captured with 3 others // blockade runner // Princess Royal”.

The Navy later outfitted the Princess Royal as a steam gunboat, serving off Texas and Louisiana.  One of the steam engines carried as cargo powered the USS Kansas, a North Atlantic blockader.  But at least two of the Whitworths remained in the Charleston area.  On July 22, 1863, Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren ordered Commander Foxhall Parker to organize a detachment to man a “naval battery” ashore.  Consisting of two 8-in Parrotts and two Whitworth rifles and located on Morris Island, the battery was to aid the Army in the bombardment of Fort Sumter. (ONR, Series I, Volume 14, p. 385)  And we know the Whitworths were 70-pdrs because of a wartime photograph of the battery.

The Naval Battery at Morris Island

The Naval Battery at Morris Island

And I must say for the record, a more unkempt battery you will not find!  Boots drying on one gun, rammers laying about, and ropes haphazardly draped over the carriages.  Makes me wonder if the sailors’ morale was affected by the service ashore.  Perhaps.

On August 23, Commander Parker offered a rather detailed report of the battery’s activities:

The whole number of Parrott shells expended amounts to 703, of which 373 struck the fort, 252 fell short of went over it, and 78 tumbled.

From the Whitworth guns 222 solid projectiles were fired, of which 98 hit and 124 missed the fort.

Upon the 19th instant one of the Whitworths was entirely disabled by the reinforce bands starting forward, and upon the 21st I discontinued firing from the other, as the shot were continually jamming in the bore, in ramming home one of which four men were killed by a premature explosion of the charge. (ONR, Series I, Volume 14, p. 472)

I could see where the crews might be a little demoralized.

Brigadier General John W. Turner, Chief of Artillery for General Quincy Gilmore’s Department of the South, left no doubt his opinion of the Whitworth in his report, dated November 30, on the bombardment of Fort Sumter.  Turner mentioned premature explosions, wedged projectiles, and inaccurate fire.  He then details the slippage of the bands when:

…subsequently one of them became disabled by the the gun apparently sliding through the re-enforce to the rear.  A displacement of nearly an inch took place, closing the vent completely.  (OR, Series I, Volume 28, Part I, Serial 46, p. 223)

I agree with the conclusions of other historians.   The slippage noted was due to a design flaw – the hoops were not welded nor was the taper sufficient to arrest movement of the gun’s composite layers.

The vent of the survivor at the Navy Yard appears, today, open and unaffected by such slipping.

Vent of the 70-pdr

However, a base ring supporting a sight bracket, apparent in both the plan from Tennant’s book and in the wartime photograph, is missing from the Navy Yard’s trophy.  In the plan, the ring appears separate from the other components of the gun.  Maybe that the ring broke free due to handling.   Or perhaps the slippage due to firing.  Another surviving piece is on display at West Point’s trophy park, and does show signs of the slippage.

So the old 70-pdr Whitworth at the Navy Yard offers a history which blends aspects of technical innovation, a touch of daring with the blockade runner, and perhaps a bit of tragedy with its dangerous, ineffective service.  Today it stands as a trophy of war, honoring those who maintained the blockade during the Civil War.


Aside from on site notes and links provided above, sources consulted for this post were:

Olmstead, Edwin, Wayne E. Stark, and Spencer C. Tucker. The Big Guns: Civil War Siege, Seacoast and Naval Cannon. Alexandria Bay, NY: Museum Restoration Service, 1997.

Ripley, Warren. Artillery and Ammunition of the Civil War, 4th Edition. Charleston, S.C.: The Battery Press, 1984.

Soldier’s Load and the Mobility of a Nation

Some time back, I engaged my fellow blogger “X Brad TC” with regarding the writings of S.L.A. Marshall.   Most historians have zeroed in on Marshall’s very controversial thoughts regarding the effectiveness of infantry in combat as outlined in “Men Against Fire.”  Others recall Marshall as the father of the modern “after action review” process, indicating either the shortcomings of Marshall’s approach or the great advances made in recording oral history.  On the other hand, I find Marshall’s essays pertaining to combat loads and logistics to be the more intriguing of his work.

Part of One Soldier's "Load"

Marshall originally posted his thoughts on soldier pack loads and logistics in The Infantry Journal and the Combat Forces Journal in the years following World War II.  Later the Association of the United States Army collected these into a single booklet titled “The Soldier’s Load and the Mobility of a Nation.”  Originally published in 1950, my copy is a reprint by the Marine Corps Association from 1980.   (Ironically, my copy of the book is badly worn and beaten, having been carried along as excess weight on many a field deployment! )

In these essays, Marshall stressed the relation between the weight of the equipment a soldier is expected to carry into combat and the effectiveness of that soldier in combat.  True to his style, Marshall laid the cornerstone to his argument early on:

The machine has made warfare more ponderous but has also given it greater velocity.  In the other direction there has been no change at all.  For it is conspicuous that what the machine has failed to do right up to the present moment is decrease by a single pound the weight the individual has to carry in war. He is still as heavily burdened as the soldier of 1000 years B.C.  (Marshall, page 5)

Thus Marshall identified an over-arching limitation, somewhat a universal governing factor, on logistics and combat mobility – the amount of equipment and supplies an average man might carry into combat.  Obvious points came out early in the writing.  There is no dispute that a less encumbered soldier moves quicker on the battlefield.  However Marshall stepped up another point, which is much less obvious.  “Overloading has never steadied any man or made him more courageous.” (Marshall, page 8)  Perhaps more to the point, “Tired men take fright more easily.  Frightened men swiftly tire.” (Marshall, page 46)   In Marshall’s view, there was a clear linkage between fear and fatigue.  Or perhaps with our present day terminology applied, physical and mental stress have a cumulative effect.

Marshall proposed practical limitations on what soldiers should carry into combat.  The marks set in his essays range between 30 to 40 pounds.   Sounds reasonable, if you are the soldier packing the load.  But what should that consist of?

Ammunition?  Well, drawing on accounts from the World Wars, Marshall contended the average foot soldier arrived on the battle line with up to ten times the number of rounds needed in action.  Field Marshall Helmuth von Moktke (the younger) determined pre-World War I German soldiers required a load of 200 rounds.  In World War I, U.S. soldiers assaulted beaches with 80 rounds plus eight hand grenades.  All too much, said Marshall.  Based on expenditures within the first day of combat, Marshall indicated the load could be cut in half.   And note for effect, Marshall’s ammunition consumption rates match to those mentioned by Whittaker for mounted operation during the Civil War.  However, Marshall would certainly argue against the eighty rounds Whittaker suggested as a trooper’s load.  Then again, Whittaker wrote at a time when horseflesh, not internal combustion engines, carried resupply.

Food and Water?  In a statement that runs against every “take care of your troops” leadership lesson, Marshall contends that troops should carry less than a day’s ration into combat!

… we learned by actual survey on the battlefield that only some three per cent of the men along the combat line touched any food at all in the first day’s fighting.  And that water consumption was only a fifth what it became on the second day and thereafter.  Such is the economy that can be achieved by virtue of a churning stomach.  (Marshall, page 10)

Ouch!  And personally I would contend that hunger factors into physical and to a degree mental fatigue.  Yet on the other hand, did not the Texas Brigade perform quite well in the Cornfield at Antietam in spite of missing breakfast?  Well not many Texans walked away from that fight, so perhaps that is not the best example to serve up.

Granted, much of Marshall’s work is based upon information gathered from World War II.  But as mentioned up front, the ultimate governing factor regarding a soldier’s load has not changed over time.  Thus these considerations certainly applied, in terms of pounds if not actual round counts or number of hardtack crackers carried, to Civil War soldiers.   And no amount of seasoning and training will overcome overloading.  As Marshall pointed out over and over, seasoned troops performed better more often than not because on the march they dumped out the “prescribed” loads, opting for the bare essentials.  Consider that when reading about the marches of Stonewall’s foot cavalry in the Valley, the Army of the Potomac discarding equipment on the march, or the movements of both armies in the last year of the Civil War.

The second half of the essay collection, as indicated in the title, focused upon mobility at a higher level – more operational and strategic.  Again, Marshall makes the obvious conclusions then adds more based on his observations.  Certainly the more equipment and supplies shoveled into a theater of operations places more demand on transportation resources.  In turn, the more logistic support required, the more personnel needed to handle, process, and deliver said supplies.   Such imposes a friction upon the logistical system, taxing efficiency.  In Marshall’s view there was a direct correlation between the cases of Coca-Cola shipped to Europe in the winter of 1944-5 and the suffering of the men at the front for want of proper cold weather gear.

Marshall cited examples of Generals who stripped down their logistical requirements as the standard to adhere to.  But beyond that, he indicated the need for creative and flexible approaches to logistical support.  Like some of the inter-war (1920s and 30s) theorists, specifically citing J.F.C. Fuller and B.H. Lidell Hart, Marshall admired the approach of General William T. Sherman in the later half of the Civil War.  He saw the march to the sea as an example of strategic mobility achieved through proper management and balancing of logistical requirements.

From my research, I would add examples that strengthen Marshall’s stance.  Consider General U.S. Grant’s campaigns, particularly the Overland Campaign in 1864.  Grant reduced the baggage trains at the start of the campaign.  He also put pressure upon his logistical team to shift the base of operations throughout.  From Brandy Station-Culpeper, shifting to Fredericksburg, then to White House on the Pamunkey, and eventually to the James River ports.  Unlike predecessors in the East, Grant gained strategic and operational mobility by reducing his trains while at the same time shifting his supply base to adapt to the changing tactical situation.

Consider the orders issued to the Second Army Corps on May 3, 1864, stepping out on the Overland Campaign:

…The men previous to marching will be supplied with three day’s full rations in haversacks and three days’ bread and small rations in knapsacks, and 50 rounds of amunition on the person.  Three days’ beef on the hoof will be drawn by commissaries of divisions and indpendent brigades. (OR, Series I, Volume 36, Part II, Serial 68, page 357)

Then consider the statement attributed by Marshall to General George S. Patton prior to making his breakout from Normandy in 1944:

Gentlemen, I’ve got three days of POL, ammunition and food.  That’s all we need for the start.  It’s up to you back there to get the rest of it up to me. (Marshall, page 102)

In either 1864 or 1944, three days supply was the limit of the combat formation’s organic capacity to carry.  While some contend Patton (and perhaps Grant) did not fully appreciate logistical constraints upon an army.  I would, on the other hand, submit that Patton and Grant understood the principles quite well.  Knowing the limitations of his army’s organic logistic capacity, Patton and Grant challenged their quartermaster and transportation staff to find solutions that met operational demands.

An army may travel on its stomach.  But that does not mean the Army moves from meal to meal.

HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of March 22

This week we published forty-nine new entries for the Civil War category in the Historical Marker Database.  These represent Civil War related sites from Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.  Here’s the list:

– A state marker in Dadeville, Alabama notes the home of Johnson J. Hooper, lawyer, author, reporter, and the Secretary of the Provisional Confederate Congress.

– A marker in Tuscaloosa, Alabama discusses the wartime career of Benjamin F. Eddins.   Raiders under General John T. Croxton mortally wounded Eddins on April 3, 1865 as they entered the city.

– A 10-inch Rodman Gun tops the North Haven Soldier’s Memorial in Connecticut.   A more recent memorial nearby also honors the community’s veterans.

– A Cultural DC marker in downtown Washington, D.C. retraces Abraham Lincoln’s route of March 4, 1865 on the way to his second inauguration ball.

– A state marker in Albany, Georgia notes the location of a meat packing operation supporting the Confederate Navy.

– Several markers from Atlanta, Georgia interpret portions of the Atlanta Campaign.  One marker points out a portion of the siege lines occupied by Wood’s Division of the Forth Federal Corps from July 20 to 22, 1864.  The Division used the Old Cheshire Bridge to move into position.  Further south is the site of Old Williams Mill Road where the Federal Twenty-Third Corps moved into siege lines at the same time.

– Three markers from Kansas City, Missouri continue to reveal the battlefields around that city associated with the October 1864 Battle of Westport.  One marker provides details and a map describing the Battle of Big Blue, fought on October 22-23, 1864.  Actions there lead to the Federal crossing at Byram’s Ford.  Later on the 23rd, Fagan’s Confederate Division stood along the Harrisonville Road in a delaying action, buying time for the Confederate wagon trains to escape south.  As we complete the “Tour” of Westport, look for a virtual tour to tie all these markers together.

Sixteen marker entries this week provide more details about Fort Fisher, North Carolina.  We will dress up a battlefield-by-markers set shortly.

– Two memorials from Ohio this week.  Millersburg in Holmes County has a memorial with a soldier at rest in front of the courthouse.  In Pomeroy, the Meigs County memorial has a soldier resting upon logs.

– The last Union veteran from Ross County, Ohio was Nelson John Dunlap, who served on the USS Hastings along the Mississippi River.  He is buried in Kingston, Ohio.

– A marker in Sugarcreek, Ohio notes the history of the now gone village of Shanesville.  The “The Shanesville Blues,” the town’s militia company, under Captain Benjamine Ream answered the call.

– An equestrian statue in Columbia, South Carolina honors Wade Hampton.  And serving to debunk the myth, two hooves are raised.

– A state marker west of Chattanooga, Tennessee notes the graves of 155 Confederates who died in hospitals prior to the 1862 Kentucky Campaign.

– Also near Chattanooga, the Will Cummings Highway “passes under the historic point of Lookout Mountain” where “every foot of this scenic route was bitterly contested and fought for by the Federal and Confederate armies….”

– A park service marker in Savannah, Tennessee notes the jubilation of a pro-Union population when Federals first arrived in March 1862.  A month later wounded men from the Battle of Shiloh arrived from across the Tennessee River by steamboat.

– A state marker near Columbia, Tennessee notes an action fought on November 24, 1864 by Federals under Colonel Horace Capron delaying the cavalry of General N.B. Forrest, the advance guard of Hood’s Middle Tennessee campaign.

– Two state markers in Brenham, Texas note Civil War activity in Washington County.  Factories produced goods for the war effort.  Brenham was the terminus of the railroad, and became a major trans-shipping point for goods passing to and from Mexico.  The County Commissioners enforced order with a local home guard, raised funds, and issued script currency to support operations.

– A Civil War Trails marker and a Lee’s Retreat marker both discuss the Confederate retreat and Federal pursuit through Amelia Springs in April 1864.  Federal cavalry continued to harass the retreating Army of Northern Virginia, on their march westward through Deatonville, where another Lee’s Retreat marker stands.

– The Clover Hill Mining District near Chesterfield, Virginia supplied coal to Tredegar Iron Works during the war.

– A United Daughters of the Confederacy memorial honors Confederate dead in the cemetery of Skinquarter Baptist Church near Moseley, Virginia.

– A Civil War Trails marker in Washington, Virginia notes the story of Kitty Payne.  Payne was born a slave, but was emancipated in 1843.  However her former owner’s son kidnapped Kitty claiming rights to the estate.  After a lengthy court battle, Payne was finally freed for good.  She then moved to some place named Gettysburg, married a freedman named Brian.  While Kitty died in 1850, her husband continued to farm outside Gettysburg at a place known as Cemetery Ridge.  One of Kitty’s sons served in the 27th USCT, and fought at the battle of the Crater.

The Trooper’s Load and Firepower

Often when discussing Civil War era cavalry, the conversation mentions those wonderful breech-loading and repeating carbines.   Particularly most acknowledge the technical superiority of the Federal mounted arm as these powerful weapons became standard issue.  While there is no denying that a repeating weapon, such as the Spencer carbine or Henry rifle, were superior to breech-loading weapons.  And by the same measure, certainly Sharps, Burnside, or Smith breech-loading carbines offered marked superiority over muzzle-loading carbines.  From a stance of technology that is.

The measure of this superiority, one we’ve heard time and time again, was rate of fire due to the ease of reloading.  How many seconds did a trooper spend bringing a muzzle-loading carbine to the ready position?  In my experience handling such weapons, between 15 and 20 seconds.  And that doesn’t count dealing with a shifting horse or other factors.  A trained hand can load and fire a Sharps in about ten seconds.  And of course, for the repeaters of the day, the rate was “as fast and you can work the leaver and pull the trigger.”

Citing such rates of fire, as the cornerstone to gauging the superiority of the weapons on the battlefield, assumes fighting occurred where ammunition lay about in ample quantities at the trooper’s feet.  Such rarely, if ever, was the case during the Civil War (but is often the model adopted for “realistic” wargames!).   For the historian analyzing a tactical engagement, it is important to consider not only the increased firepower offered by the improved weapons, but also the factors which governed the application of that firepower on the battlefield.

Firepower alone is but a single facet to the effectiveness of a combat formation.  Others include mobility, and endurance.  The perfect combat formation can arrive at its objective in a timely manner, in a condition to fight, with the firepower to defeat its foe, and is able to remain on that station for the time required by the mission (or longer).  I contend for peak effectiveness,  a unit had to reach a careful balance between these facets.   If, to improve firepower, the unit carried more ammunition, then mobility suffered.  Yet, if less ammunition was carried, then endurance suffered.

Consider that for all practical purposes, the difference between the weight of ammunition, round for round, is small enough to be negligible.  Forty rounds of paper musket cartridges will not tax the trooper ore his horse any more than forty rounds of brass cartridges for a Henry rifle.   And forty rounds was the prescribed load for Sheridan’s troopers in June 1864 during his second or the Trevilian Raid.   Sheridan backed that supply up with sixty rounds per trooper in supply wagons. (OR, Series I, Volume 36, Part 1, Serial 67, p. 795)   Although I know a few who would dispute such, Sheridan cited limited ammunition supplies when deciding to cease his advance and break off the raid.

Nearly a year later, when Major General James Wilson started his March-April 1865 raid through Alabama and Georgia, he directed each trooper carry 100 rounds of ammunition.  Supporting Wilson’s three divisions were 250 wagons carrying, among other items, 80 rounds per trooper.   (OR, Series I, Volume 49, Part 1, Serial 103, p. 356)  Thus Wilson accepted a longer baggage train than Sheridan, and provided nearly double the rounds per man.  And as a side note, of those wagons, Wilson allocated 50 to transport light canvas pontoon bridges.

While I would admit comparing the two raids is a clear “apples and oranges” match-up.  However, Wilson served as one of Sheridan’s division commanders in the former raid.  And Wilson also led his command in the disastrous June 1864 raid to the south of Petersburg.   Maybe Wilson applied lessons from these debacles when preparing for the raid through Alabama in 1865.

Perhaps the lesson is best summed up in a section from Frederick Whittaker’s “Volunteer Cavalry:  The Lessons of the Decade” (page 72)

In severe battle, the men being under proper control of their officers, and the later not ammunition wasters, the consumption ought never to reach over forty rounds per man.  This ratio can be adhered to with advantage, and leave the force more formidable in reality than the prodigals.  Three full battles ought be allowed for on a raid, the ammunition to be carried in wagons, the men retaining eighty rounds besides.  You can thus fight five pitched battles, if necessary, before returning to the army.  At 120 rounds per man, it will thus be necessary to carry about 1,700,000 rounds of ammunition in the wagons, or about seventeen wagon loads, the full corps ammunition train for a raid.

Whittaker served in the 6th New York Cavalry during the war becoming a company officer, going on to a successful post-war career as a writer and novelist.  While I would add a grain of salt to his somewhat romantic historical accounts, many of his “lessons” ring of an air of experience.  This of course, stands in sharp contrast to the Confederate experience.  Baggage trains were kept to a minimum during Stuart’s, Forrest’s, and Morgan’s raids.

At first glance, the repeaters offered greatly increased firepower on the firing line.  But that firepower translated to higher ammunition expenditures.  Such increased the wagon space a command had to allocate to ammunition supplies.  And of course, this has an effect on the mobility of the command.   For all its striking power, the Union cavalry of 1865 was still not as mobile as its Confederate counterparts.  Consider that Stuart’s command covered about 200 miles (give or take) between June 25 and July 2, 1863.  On the other hand, Wilson’s force, facing much less resistance covered 400 miles between March 22 and April 20, 1865.

But of course, Wilson brought his own bridge while Stuart had to get his boots wet crossing the Potomac.

Scott Patchan’s Shenandoah 1864 Blog

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Scott Patchan, who just opened his Shenandoah 1864 blog.   A great addition to the Civil War blogosphere!

A couple years back, I found his Shenandoah Summer a great introduction to the early parts of the 1864 fighting in the Valley.  Scott’s turned to blog writing, “to move beyond the bounds of traditional publications and share aspects of my research with fellow Civil War enthusiasts that might not otherwise see the light of day.”    Just leaves me anticipating regular posts in my RSS feed.

Scott’s first post, aptly appearing on St. Patrick’s Day, details the life and career of Col. James A. Mulligan, mortally wounded at Second Kernstown.  Good read.

HMDB Civil War Updates – Week of March 15

Busy week in the Civil War category at the Historical Marker Database this week.  Sixty additions to the collection from sites related to the Civil War in Alabama, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.  Here are the details:

– The Tuscumbia Railway, running through Tuscumbia, Alabama, was an important rail link to the Confederacy.  Union troops occupied and vandalized the St. John’s Episcopal Church in Tuscumbia during one of their stays.  Confederate General James Deshler and 100 unknown soldiers are buried in nearby Oakwood Cemetery.

– In Florence, Alabama, the Florence Cemetery includes a Confederate section.  Along the city’s riverfront, McFarland Park is named for Major Robert McFarland, who served with General John Hunt Morgan, and was one of many Irish-born Americans who served in the Confederate Army.  On the other side of Florence stands Sweetwater mansion, used by both sides during the war for quarters.

– A marker in Danville, Alabama notes a road used by Colonel Abel Streight’s command in April 1863 during their ill-fated raid.

– The Shelby Furnaces in Columbiana, Alabama furnished iron for the Confederacy until destroyed by Wilson’s raiders at the end of the war.

– A memorial in Litchfield, Connecticut lists the soldiers from that community who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the war.   Nearby, a simple stone marks the location where a recruiting tent for the 19th Connecticut Volunteers stood in August 1862.

– A Cultural DC Heritage Trail marker in downtown Washington, D.C. discusses John Wilkes Booth’s escape route.  Another marker in the series notes the architectural details and history of the old Pension Bureau building (now the National Building Museum).  The building features a terra-cotta frieze depicting soldiers and sailors going to war.

– From Atlanta, Georgia, two markers indicate the passage of the Union 23rd Corps July 18, 1864.  Elements of the Corps passed the Solomon Goodwin residence and the Samuel House Plantation.

– From Marshall, Michigan we have two entries this week.  A marker in Oakridge Cemetery notes the final resting place of Lieutenant George Woodruff, who was mortally wounded defending Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863 at Gettysburg, in command of Battery I, 1st US Artillery.   Across town another marker in front of the Grand Army of the Republic Hall notes the activities of that veterans organization in the community.

– A marker in Corinth, Mississippi indicates the site of Confederate General Albert S. Johnston’s headquarters before the battle of Shiloh.

Bynam’s Ford featured prominently in the fighting around Independence and Westport, Missouri in late October 1864.

– A memorial in Tarrytown, New York lists individuals from the community who served in the Civil War.

– General William T. Sherman received news of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox at the Johnston County Courthouse in Smithfield, North Carolina in the morning of April 12, 1865.

– Several entries this week from the “Gibraltar of the Confederacy” at Fort Fisher on Kure Beach, North Carolina.  General W.H.C. Whiting supervised the construction of the works and commanded the defenses for much of the war.  It’s fall on January 15, 1865 effectively closed the port to blockade runners.   A monument on the fort’s site notes two attacks, one repulsed and the other ultimately successful, on the fort.  Other locations indicated by this week’s batch of markers include the fort’s headquarters and Battery Buchanan.

– And more entries from Wilmington, North Carolina, further up the Cape Fear River from Fort Fisher.  A state marker notes the grave of Rose Greenhow, Confederate spy who drowned trying to escape from a grounded blockade runner.  A plaque indicates the armory building associated with the Wilmington Light Infantry which served in the Civil War, and other wars in our nation’s history.  A monument and state marker indicate the location of Beery’s shipyard where the ironclad C.S.S. North Carolina was built.  Nearby Cassidey shipyard build the C.S.S. Raleigh.  Although Fort Fisher fell in January 1865, not until late February did Federal troops finally clear the Confederates defending Wilmington. A memorial in downtown Wilmington honors the Confederate soldiers.

– Among the residents of Wilmington North Carolina with Civil War connections are John A. Winslow, a Federal naval officer and commander of the U.S.S. KearsargeJudah P. Benjamin, Confederate Secretary of War and State, lived in Wilmington for a time.  Confederate senator George Davis is honored by both a state marker and a memorial.  Confederate General William W. Loring was born in Wilmington.

– From Goldsboro, North Carolina, four entries this week complete the walking tour the battle of Goldsborough Bridge, fought on December 17, 1862.

Walnut Grove Cemetery in Martins Ferry, Ohio contains the graves of the Zane and Martin families, including several Civil War veterans.

– In Greenfield, Ohio, a marker notes “Abolition Lane” where abolitionists helped integrate former slaves into society.

– Opponents to conscription rioted in Holmes County, Ohio in June 1863.  A detachment from Camp Chase scattered the riot outside Killbuck, Ohio at a rather aptly name “Fort Fizzle.”

Major John B. Downing piloted a riverboat carrying General U.S. Grant past the Vicksburg defenses.  He is buried in Middleport, Ohio.

– A marker in Pomeroy, Ohio notes the Federal maneuvers and reactions to John Hunt Morgan’s July 1863 raid.

– Leaving a meeting in the town hall in Summerville, South Carolina, in 1865, city leaders pursued and attacked a band of raiders.  Perhaps a small indication of the violence and confusion in the state, and the South overall, as the Confederacy collapsed.

– A printing plant in Columbia, South Carolina produced bonds and currency for the Confederacy during the war.  Of course when Sherman’s men arrived, they destroyed the factory.

– Markers entered this week for Nashville, Tennessee note the Federal’s outer defensive line and the jump off point for General Wood’s IV Corps advance during the Battle of Nashville, December 15, 1864.

– Forces under General Ambrose Burnside fended off Confederate attacks during the Battle of Campbell’s Station, on November 16, 1863, then retired to Knoxville.  The site is present-day Farragut, Tennessee, named for the “hero of Mobile Bay,” Admiral David G. Farragut, who was born nearby.

– A marker in LaVergne, Tennessee details Confederate General Joe Wheeler’s late December 1862 raid, conducted in conjunction with Bragg’s advance to Murphreesboro.  Wheeler captured 500 men at LaVergne and destroyed the baggage trains of the Federal XIV Corps.

– Practically on the front lines for much of the Civil War, Rutherford County, Tennessee witness much smuggling and spy activity.  A marker in LaVergne notes the wartime activity of Mary Kate Patterson Davis Hill Kyle (!) who smuggled supplies and aided Confederate scouts.  One of those Kyle aided was a young Sam Davis, who lived near Smyrna, famous as the spy executed in November 1863.  Another was Dewitt Smith Jobe, also from Smyrna.

– Both Union and Confederate veterans are buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Lebanon, Tennessee, including the state’s last surviving Civil War veteran – James L. Barry (1847-1947).

Blenheim House in Fairfax, Virginia was vandalized by Union troops during the early part of the war, leaving behind broken glass and doors, along with graffiti.