Monthly Archives: January 2011

Wilson’s Creek: “Sweeney Museum” Closure Delayed

News from Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Missouri:

Civil War Anniversary Delays Museum Closing

What could have been a stand-off over the Civil War Museum at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield has ended in a truce.

A plan by the National Parks Service to close the museum on Route Z and store its collection in an underground vault near Kansas City prompted protests by the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation.

Conflict was averted late last week when the NPS regional director Ernie Quintano announced nothing will done until after the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek is commemorated in August.

The museum, purchased by the park service in 2005, will be emptied and converted to park staff use but the museum’s collection will stay at the battlefield — at least for now.

Foundation president Steve Ross said he was pleased with the outcome of the meeting, at least to a point….

(…. Go to the article for more, or also see the article on Ozark

For many years, any visit to Wilson’s Creek has included a stop at the Sweeny Museum.  Last summer, I visited with my son in tow, and the stop became a highlight of an event filled day.

Tom Sweeney created the museum in the early 1990s, naming it after his ancestor General Thomas Sweeney who fought in the Mexican and Civil Wars.  He collected artifacts of the war, with special focus on the Trans-Mississippi.  The set is the largest single display of its kind related to that theater of the war.

The museum is, as the article says, part of the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, being purchased in 2005 with congressional funds  – around $4.5 million at the time.  The park service renamed the museum to simply “The Wilson’s Creek Civil War Museum” and made some small changes to the displays (improvements in my opinion).

While I would agree that the building is not the best place to keep the collection at this point, I would rather see the collection remain on display.  It is just too rich a resource to have locked away in a vault.  The compromise – storing the artifacts at the battlefield and displaying a portion – still removes many interesting and important items from the average visitor.  But, as the article points out at the end, funding is a problem.

On a positive note, nobody is suggesting a liquidation of the collection or disbursement of the artifacts to other venues.  All options thus far presented, including the initial plan from the park service, keeps the museum collection intact.

Perhaps with the focus on Wilson’s Creek in this sesquicentennial year, other options will emerge.  For those interested in further details or ways to get involved, I would recommend contacting the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Foundation.

Cross-Post Listings

You might notice a new navigation menu on the top bar for “Cross-Posts.”  Those pages offer links out to other blogs and sites where I’ve posted materials which are not directly “part” of this blog.  In part this is a way for me to organize the “collection” for handy reference.  But I also want to make sure referrals are set for those who have allowed me the privilege of a turn at the keyboard under their URLs.

I like the idea of focusing a blog onto a specific topic.  Many blogs out there cover current events or other wide range subjects.  I prefer to stay within the confines of the Civil War subject area.  And even at that, with my efforts directed toward a few select aspects of the story – cannons, battlefields, tactics, and the public interpretation (historical markers mainly of course). I’ll throw in posts about upcoming events or Civil War news from time to time, especially with the sesquicentennial running.

Not that I don’t have a desire to discuss the broader Civil War topics, mind you.  Just that I find many of those topics crowded and polarized.  Robert allows me to discuss some of those broader topics, and a bit on “Southernism” on his blog from time to time.  I’ve got more ideas running around for future posts.  I hope to pin down my thoughts about “the plurality of the South” at some point for his review.

But I’m motivated to study, and therefore post, about the weapons of war and how those weapons are used.  You might call it a hold over from my first profession.  But the interest pre-dates that experience.  I’ve heard the topic called “weapon history” or “weapon-ology.”  Regardless, taking into consideration Civil War era weapons calls for knowledge of the evolution of weapons systems through all epochs of history.

Where my thoughts about “weapon-ology” lie within the scope of the Civil War, I’ll post things here.  Or over on the Naval Sesquicentennial blog if they involve the ships and things that float!  But where the “weapon-onlogy” factors into more modern discussions, I’ll send it out to XBrad’s blog.

In short – cross-posting, its a chance to work outside my defined lane.  And I also hope, a contribution to the content on my fellow bloggers’ sites in the process.

Noble Brothers 12-pdr Field Howitzers

Back when I summarized Confederate 12-pounder field howitzer production, I mentioned Noble Brothers & Company from Rome, Georgia.  As noted in a post a few weeks back, Noble Brothers produced a handful of cast iron 12-pdr howitzers (of which two examples might be the only survivors).  The firm also produced, according to records, five bronze 12-pdr field howitzers.  Of four cataloged survivors, two sit today along Confederate Avenue at Gettysburg, representing Poague’s Howitzers.

Picketts Charge 10 Aug 08 517

Poague's Howitzers

Poague’s Howitzers does not reference a normal tactical formation, but rather the temporary grouping of 12-pdr howitzers from several batteries at Gettysburg.  Since the howitzers lacked the range to offer support for Confederate offensive maneuvers, Poague’s Battalion, supporting Pender’s Division in Hill’s Corps, detached howitzers from several batteries to serve as a reserve.  These cannon provided little to the battle, but traces of the lunettes built for the howitzers remain on the field to this day.

Confederate Ave 30 Jan 10 162

Noble Brothers 12-pdr Bronze Howitzer - The "September 1862" Piece

As mentioned before, the Noble Brothers’ 12-pdr howitzers were about an inch shorter than the regulation Federal Model 1841.  The Noble howitzers were also lighter as a result.

Confederate Ave 30 Jan 10 161

Muzzle of Noble Brothers Howitzer

Externally, one easy distinguishing feature is the size of the chase band.  Compared to the regulation Model 1841 howitzer, Noble Brothers featured a wider chase ring and a thicker muzzle ring about a quarter-inch back from the muzzle face.  Noble Brothers also dispensed with the fillets around the muzzle ring. Note the differences between the muzzle profile above and that of a regulation Model 1841 below  – an Ames produced example, also representing Poague’s Howitzers.

Confederate Ave 30 Jan 10 164

Model 1841 12-pdr Muzzle

But be warned, Quinby & Robinson, of Memphis, Tennessee, also produced howitzers with somewhat similar muzzle variations.  One of their makes is also among “Poague’s Howitzers” today.

Picketts Charge 10 Aug 08 370

Breech of Noble Brothers Howitzer

On the breech, the Georgia-based foundry used a thicker fillet for the knob, similar to that seen on the iron howitzers.  Unlike the tentatively attributed iron model, the knob of the bronze howitzers lack the flat face.  Otherwise Noble Brothers conformed to the standards set for standard 12-pdr howitzers.

Picketts Charge 10 Aug 08 348

Right Trunnion Markings

Markings on the right trunnion confirm the origin of the howitzers – “Noble Brothers & Co.”  and “Rome GA.”

Confederate Ave 30 Jan 10 175

Left Trunnion with Date

On the left trunnion, Noble Brothers stamped the month and year of manufacture.  In this case December 1862.  The other Noble Brothers howitzer at the display shows September of the same year.

Confederate Ave 30 Jan 10 177

The "December 1862" Noble Brothers Howitzer

While fitting to have Confederate manufactured howitzers displayed where Grey-clad artillery-men occupied the field of battle, likely the Noble Brothers’ pieces saw service in the western theater.  A report from Captain O.T. Gibbes, ordnance officer for the Army of Tennessee, noted one “12-pounder bronze howitzer, with carriage and limber, Rome, Ga., Noble & Bro., 1862.” in his tally of stores captured at the battle of Chickamauga (OR, Series I, Volume 30, Part II, Serial 51, page 41).  This implies that Federals had captured the piece in earlier actions, and gave up the howitzer in the September 1863 battle.  Potentially an interesting story, should sources ever emerge offering a paper trail of the howitzer and positive identification.

The Noble Brothers (there were six at the foundry) themselves also offer a potentially interesting story.  The facility delivered a respectable 58 field pieces between April 1861 and October 1862 for Confederate contracts.  However, the facility ceased making cannon in the fall of 1862.  The brothers had several disputes with Confederate ordnance officials.  That, along with some unionist sentiment among the brothers, contributed to a reluctance on the part of Confederate officials to issue more contracts.  In 1863 the Confederate government confiscated some of the company’s equipment.  After the war, the Nobles rebuilt and prospered again.

So two rare field pieces produced by an interesting vendor from the state of Georgia.  If only those cannon could talk!


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

Daniel, Larry J., and Riley W. Gunter.  Confederate Cannon Foundries.  Union City, Tennessee: Pioneer Press, 1977

Hazlett, James C., Edwin Olmstead, and M. Hume Parks. Field Artillery Weapons of the Civil War, Revised Edition. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

National Archive Civil War Programs – February

Earlier this month I mentioned Civil War programs offered as a continuing series by the National Archives.  Here’s what is scheduled for February:

Near Andersonville, Winslow Homer’s Civil War

Monday, February 7, at noon
Jefferson Room (Special Events Entrance on Constitution Avenue)
American painter Winslow Homer rose to national attention during the Civil War, but one of his most important early paintings, “Near Andersonville,” remained unknown for a century. In this illustrated lecture, author Peter Wood reveals the long-hidden story of this remarkable Civil War painting.
Wood examines the interplay of symbolic elements and links the painting to Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign of 1864. Wood’s provocative study gives us a fresh vantage point on Homer’s early career, the struggle to end slavery, and the dramatic closing years of the Civil War. A book signing will follow the program.

An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, DC

Tuesday, February 8, at noon
Jefferson Room (Special Events Entrance on Constitution Avenue)
In her book An Example for All the Land, Kate Masur discusses Washington, DC, during the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War. The city became a laboratory for political experimentation as the question of racial equality produced a debate about black Washingtonians and their demands for public respect, equal access to employment, public services, and the right to vote. A book signing will follow the program.

Spies and Conspiracies: Espionage in the Civil War

Tuesday, February 8, at 7 p.m.
During the Civil War both sides conducted intelligence operations to give their side an advantage. Despite the often disorderly nature of these efforts, there were successes, including the use of Union codes to protect communications, and both sides effectively used agents to gather and report information. Clayton D. Laurie, historian for the Center for the Study of Intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency, moderates a panel including Donald E. Markle, author of Spies and Spymasters of the Civil War; Ann Blackman, author of Wild Rose: Rose O’Neale Greenhow, Civil War Spy; and Ken Daigler, former employee of the CIA and author of Black Dispatches: Black American Contributions to Union Intelligence During the Civil War.
The National Archives Experience presents this program in partnership with the International Spy Museum.

Ken Burns’s The Civil War

Thursday, February 10, 17, and 24 at noon
Jefferson Room and William G. McGowan Theater (Special Events Entrance on Constitution Avenue)
The Archives continue the landmark nine-part television series by filmmaker Ken Burns.
February 10—Most Hallowed Ground (1990; 72 minutes) (Jefferson Room)
February 17—War is All Hell (1990; 67 minutes) (Jefferson Room)
February 24—The Better Angels of Our Nature (1990; 69 minutes) (William G. McGowan Theater)

The Hunley

Saturday, February 12, at noon
Jefferson Room (Special Events Entrance on Constitution Avenue)
Armand Assante and Donald Sutherland star in the true story of the submarine CSS Hunley, set during the siege of Charleston of 1864. The Hunley was the first submersible to sink an enemy ship during wartime. (1999; 120 minutes)

Know Your Records: Escape on the Pearl

Tuesday, February 15, at 11 a.m. and noon
Adams Room (Special Events Entrance on Constitution Avenue)
From the Records Book Group
After a related presentation at 11 a.m., the book group discusses Escape on the Pearl: The Heroic Bid for Freedom on the Underground Railroad by Mary Kay Ricks. Check the Archives Shop (202-357-5271) for book availability and a discount for book group participants. Please bring your own refreshments to enjoy.

Know Your Records: Beyond the Basics:  Emancipation Records of the District of Columbia

Wednesday, February 16, at 11 a.m.
Room G-24, Research Center (Enter on Penn. Ave.)
Damani Davis, archivist, teaches this month’s “beyond the basic” archival research skills for genealogists, held on the third Wednesday of each month (all skill levels welcome).

Know Your Records: Exploring the Ex-Slave Pension Movement

Tuesday, February 22, at 11 a.m.
Room G-24, Research Center (Enter on Penn. Ave.)
Miranda Booker Perry, archivist trainee, discusses the quest for ex-slave pensions and the role Federal agencies played in suppressing freed people. (The lecture will be repeated at the National Archives at College Park, MD, in Lecture Room B, Thursday, February 24, at 11 a.m.)

Please note many of these events have moved from the William G. McGowan Theater, which is closed for improvements through the last week of February.

Visit the National Archives event site for more details and contact information.

Why the East, he asks?

More or less a sluggish day here on my end due to the weather and other factors.  Power’s been out most of the day, so I’ve been reorganizing some of the old paper files in anticipation of future posts.  But, trying to keep my “at least one post a day” streak alive here, I feel the need to post something!

The topic of the day seems to be the Lowry-Lincoln pardon debacle.  I’ve chimed in my opinion on other forums.  In a nutshell, I think this a classic tempest in a teapot.  We have a case of vandalism (by another name, I know, but vandalism is what it boils down to), not forgery, not plagiarism.  The historical record remains unaffected either way.  The only real point worth consideration now is why the historical community remains so heavily fixated on the issue and *H-O-T*.  Heck, before this week, I never knew the pardon existed!  And apparently I’m not the only one.    Still, the topic is off the focus of this blog, so I won’t bore you with my lowly opinions here.

But I gotta keep that streak alive!


Let me call your attention to Keith Harris’ blog post today where he asks “Why the East?

It’s a well worn topic, for sure.  But one that always excites the “hot stove league” of those interested in the Civil War.  And as of right now, many of us are gathered around those hot stoves.

As many readers know, I’m more of a “westerner” from my upbringing.  So you can probably guess where my answer would go.  But I encourage you to look over the points Keith makes and converse back via comments on his blog.

Somewhere down the line I’ll post my “retort.” :-)

Wilderness Win!

Sure it is dreary outside today in old Virginia, with a winter storm settling in.

But news like this brightens the day:

ORANGE, Va. (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is
dropping plans to build a store near the Wilderness
Battlefield in northern Virginia.

Lawyers representing the Arkansas-based retailer
made the announcement Wednesday in Orange
County Circuit Court.

The nation’s largest retailer won local approval to
build the store near the Wilderness Battlefield. But
residents and preservationists went to court to
overturn that 2009 decision.

Wednesday was to be the second day of a trial
seeking to block the project.

An attorney representing the county has said the
case is not about the Civil War, but local land use.

Residents and preservationists argued the store
would bring traffic and more commerce to Locust

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights

Wilderness Win!

The Civil War Trust provides more background on this effort in their release.

Georgia’s Secession and Ordnance Sergeant Edwin Burt

Earlier this month, I mentioned the seizure of Fort Pulaski by Georgia militia, well in advance of the state’s secession convention.  This left three installations in the state remaining in Federal hands – Fort Jackson, Oglethorpe Barracks, and the Augusta Arsenal.  When Georgia seceded on January 19, 1861, the state moved with some deliberation to take control of these installations.

In Augusta, Captain Arnold Elzey, 2nd US Artillery, commanded the arsenal, containing a battery worth of artillery and 20,000 muskets.  Manning the arsenal was a company of artillery and a detachment of ordnance personnel recently evacuated from Charleston, South Carolina.  On January 23, a dispatch from the Secretary of War, Joseph Holt,  warned Elzey that Georgia troops would move on the arsenal.  Elzey’s instructions read, “It is not expected that your defense shall be desperate.”  The orders authorized Elzey to negotiate honorable terms.

When Georgia troops arrived the next day, Elzey complied with his instructions.  Messages between the Georgians and the garrison through Henry R. Jackson, Aide-de-Camp to the Georgia governor and Lieutenant J.P. Jones, Elzey’s post adjutant.  In the terms of surrender, Elzey transferred all public property to the state authorities, inventoried and receipted.  Further the arsenal’s garrison began transit to New York, via Savannah. Note 1 Among those personnel surrendered was ordnance storekeeper John M. Galt.  After the surrender, Galt immediately requested six months leave of absence. Note 2 With that, the US Army left Augusta, not to return until 1865.

In Savannah, no large garrisons manned Fort Jackson or Oglethorpe Barracks.  Two ordnance sergeants manned the facilities – Sergeant Walker (who’s first name is not recorded) and Sergeant Edwin Burt.  On January 27, Lieutenant William Star Basinger of the Savannah Volunteer Guards, under orders of Colonel Alexander R. Lawton of the state militia, arrived at Oglethorpe Barracks and demanded surrender of all facilities.  Sergeant Burt related his response in a report filed that day:

I refused to recognize Colonel Lawton’s authority, or to allow Lieutenant Bassinger [sic] to interfere with the barracks or public property.

Lieutenant Bassinger [sic], on my refusal to agree to comply with the order which he gave me, called on and obtained assistance from the city police and fastened up my public storeroom.  The barracks are now under the charge of the police.

I do not think the State authorities design taking the stores from here at present, or that they will molest me so long as I allow them to keep my storeroom fastened. Note 3

Sergeant Burt’s commander, Captain William H.C. Whiting, arrived in Savannah the next day.  Under the situation, Whiting ordered Burt to make no further resistance and for all practical purposes left the matter to the War Department in Washington.Note 4 All Federal military facilities in the state of Georgia passed to state control at that point.

Note the contrast between the events in Augusta compared to those in Savannah.  Elzey, with orders granting him an easy way through the situation, acceded to demands.  Scant resistance, but honor intact, the troops marched away leaving a bounty for the state to collect.  Burt, with no orders and no support, was not so quiet.

In the earlier post, I mentioned the fates of Colonel Lawton and Captain Whiting, both of whom served as generals in the Confederate Army.  In this post, I brought up a few more principles – Captain Elzey, Henry R. Jackson, Lieutenant Joseph P. Jones, Storekeeper Galt, Lieutenant Basinger, and Sergeant Burt.

Of those mentioned, all but one joined the Confederacy by the spring of 1861.  Joining Lawton and Whiting, Elzey and Jackson became generals in gray.  Jones resigned his commission and served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the 5th North Carolina at First Manassas (h/t to Harry Smelter here).  Galt resigned from his post while on leave, offering his services to the new Confederate government.  Basinger went on to command the Savannah Guards as the 18th Georgia Battalion at the end of the war.

Burt, on the other hand, remained a Union man to the end.  When I wrote earlier this month, I confessed no knowledge of Burt’s fate.  Now I know, thanks to some help from my pal Robert Moore.

My first clue about Burt came from General O.O. Howard’s autobiography.  Howard mentioned a Sergeant Edwin Burt who became his adjutant in the 3rd Maine Infantry.   In “Maine at Gettysburg” the Maine Gettysburg Commission noted “Ordnance Sergeant Burt” drilled the regiment in those early days.  Burt served as a Captain on brigade staff at First Manassas.  Promoted to Major the next year, he received some recognition for service the Peninsula.  He led the 1st New York Infantry at Second Manassas.  Promoted again, to Lieutenant Colonel, Burt received mortal wounds at the battle of the Wilderness, in the fighting near the Brock-Plank Road intersection.  He lays today in the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, plot number 3953.

I couldn’t be sure “Edwin Burt” who refused to surrender at Oglethorpe Barracks was indeed the same “Edwin Burt” who died tragically at the Wilderness.  Robert did some research and within a few queries not only had conformation, but uncovered more background information than I could have imagined.   There’s more to Sergeant Burt than an entry from the Official Records.  And I urge you to look at Robert’s post today for more on this story.  You will find a rather surprising “personal issue” that must have weighed on Burt in those days 150 years ago.



  1. Reports of Capt. Arnold Elzey, Second US. Artillery, of the seizure of Augusta Arsenal.  OR, Series I, Volume I, Serial 1.  Pages 320-323.
  2. Report of Ordnance Storekeeper John M. Galt, US Army, of the seizure of Augusta Arsenal.  OR, Series I, Volume I, Serial 1. Page 323.
  3. Report of Ordnance Sergeant E. Burt, U.S. Army, of the seizure of Oglethorpe Barracks, Savannah.  OR, Series I, Volume I, Serial 1. Pages 324-325.
  4. Report of Capt. Wm. H.C. Whiting, U.S. Corps of Engineers, of the seizure of Oglethorpe Barracks and Fort Jackson.  OR, Series I, Volume I, Serial 1. Pages 323-324.