The “Horrible Assassination” of Captain Otto Schwarz, June 1, 1863

Another teaser from Tuesday’s posting … or shall I say “sordid details”… of the 2nd Missouri Artillery involved Battery E and its commander, Captain Otto Schwarz.  On the June 1863 returns for the regiment, the remark “Killed by unknown persons” appears to the right of his name.  Such a declaration, particularly for a battery not engaged in active campaigning, is interesting to say the least.

Schwarz, like many others in the 2nd Missouri, was an immigrant, having come over from Prussia.  His name appears in records as Schwartz or Swartz.  Here, I will stay with the spelling from the official documents, and drop the “t.”  I don’t know when he arrived in the United States.  But in 1860, he lived in St. Charles, Missouri (the “old” state capital, just north of St. Louis), working as a merchant.

At age 31, he enlisted in the 2nd Missouri Artillery in October 1861 (though I cannot claim any specifics, there are indications he served in the militia before the war and of course in those formations when called up in 1861).  The regimental book described him as five feet, 6½ inches tall, dark complexion, grey eyes, and light hair.  Schwarz was commissioned a second lieutenant in Battery I.  Then in October 1862 he was promoted to Captain and transferred to command Battery E.

Of course, the regiment had not, nor would in its initial enlistment period, see any significant campaigning.  Battery E was stationed at St. Louis.  But detachments of the battery were involved with skirmishes at Blomfield, Missouri in September and October 1862.  So they might claim to have seen some small part of the elephant.  Still, one might think this easy duty, guarding St. Louis.  But most of these men were recruited from the St. Louis area.  The inactivity must have given room for mischief.  Not just Battery E, but the 2nd Missouri Artillery as a whole.

Spring 1863 found Battery E manning Forts No. 7 and 8, in the defenses of St. Louis.

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A couple IX-inch Dahlgrens and a pair of 32-pdrs all in barbette pivot mountings. (Forts No. 6 and 7 had the same plan.  Fort No. 8 had one Dahlgren, two 32-pdrs, and three 12-pdr guns.) A lot of iron to throw about.  Just one of a chain of forts guarding the gateway to the west.  For all appearances, Battery E had a quiet garrison posting.

All that change… well for Schwarz, came to an end… in the early morning hours of June 1.  The Daily Missouri Democrat of St. Louis reported on June 2:

Horrible Assassination – Capt. Otto Schwartz Murdered by Soldiers – The Perpetrators Unknown.

Captain Otto Schwartz, of Company E, 2d Missouri Artillery, stationed at Fort No. 7, was murdered at one o’clock yesterday morning, in the most deliberate and cold-blooded manner.

A few moments before that hour he was in front of the residence of Lieut. Aaron Schenck at the junction of Grand and Franklin avenues, conversing with that gentleman and with Lieut. Leistner.

It was bright moon-light and the party felt disposed to enjoy the coolness and beauty of the hour.  Finally Leistner bade the Captain good-by and retired with Schenck to his room, while Capt. Schwartz moved off to return to Fort No. 7. Soon after entering their room, Schenk and Leistner heard the reports of two pistol shots, but paid little attention to them. In a few moments a groan and cry were heard in front of the house, and on opening the door they found the Captain lying mortally wounded on the pavement.

He was borne into the house, and Dr. Pondrom, Surgeon of the Second Missouri Artillery, was summoned. The patient was suffering intensely and evidently in death agony.  The Doctor could do nothing to save him.  The victim was asked who shot him.  The reply was, “I do not know; they were three soldiers together.”  He was again asked, “Were they any of your company?” He answered “No, none of my boys,” and shortly afterwards expired.

One of the balls entered the left side below the spleen, passed through the abdomen, and out above and near the right hip.  The other only passed through the calf of his right leg.  The death resulted from rapid and copious internal hemorrhage consequent upon the first wound.

A woman in the vicinity was yesterday at the Coroner’s inquest in view of the body, and testified that on hearing the pistol firing she looked out and saw three men run.  They were dressed in soldiers’ clothes. Capt. Schwartz, when shot, was at the corner of Page and Grand avenues.  He ran thence some one hundred and sixty or more yards to the spot where he was found.

No clue has yet been found to the perpetrators of this diabolical deed. By some the cause is traced to “mutiny” prevailing among certain of the 2d Missouri Artillery, and in consequence of which 3(?) score of arrests have been made within about three weeks past.  The murder is involved in mystery.

Captain Schwartz was a resident of St. Charles, was some thirty-five years of age, and unmarried.

Newspapers as far away as Ohio picked up the Democrat‘s report and ran the article.  Some newspapers apparently mistook Schwarz for a different officer of a similar name, offering the name, date, and place but mistakenly indicating the officer was in a Wisconsin regiment:

OttoSchwartz8thWis

I’m sure Otto Schwartz of the 8th Wisconsin was OK…. though his wife might have had a bad day.

I’ve not located any other accounts of the incident.  And more importantly, there are no follow up stories to provide any sort of closure.  No leads.  No suspects.  Though I’ve not exhausted every source just yet.

But this claim of mutiny in the 2nd Missouri is worth further examination.  Looking at the regimental returns, specifically at the number of soldiers in custody, there is a trend:

  • April 2: Two officers, 15 enlisted.
  • April 30: Four officers, 32 enlisted.
  • May 10: Five officers, 38 enlisted.
  • May 31: One officer, 65 enlisted.
  • June 10: One officer, 114 enlisted.
  • June 30: One officer, 195 enlisted.
  • July 10: Two officers, 176 enlisted.
  • August 10: Two officers, 105 enlisted.
  • August 20:  Three officers, twelve enlisted.

Of course, we know who one of those officers held in confinement was, but as to the rest, particularly all those enlisted men?  We can wonder about trends here and speculate something stimulated a rise in confinements starting in April, increasing in May, then peaking in June.  Keep in mind, during the five months sampled the regiment’s strength varied from 550 to 630 men.  So at the end of June, a third of the regiment was confined. Mutiny might well be the word for it.

But let us look at that “spike” in more detail.  A return from June 30 breaks out the confinements by battery:

  • Battery A:  One officer (Captain Michael Laux, who we know).
  • Battery B: 10 enlisted.
  • Battery C: 12 enlisted.
  • Battery D: No report.  This battery was at Cape Girardeau, Missouri
  • Battery E: 5 enlisted.
  • Battery F: 26 enlisted.
  • Battery G: 5 enlisted.
  • Battery H: None.
  • Battery I: 6 enlisted.
  • Battery K:  43 enlisted.
  • Battery L: 15 enlisted.
  • Battery M: 73 enlisted.

Recall the summary listing from earlier this week.  Batteries K, L, and M were actually not at St. Louis, but rather serving as light artillery in Southeast Missouri.  Such may help explain the number of confinements.  And may not necessarily be confinements due to mutinous behavior – infractions or missing movements, for example.

But looking through the newspaper’s articles that spring, it is apparent 2nd Missouri soldiers were involved with numerous altercations.  There are reports of stabbings, shootings, and fights.  And several appear in the weekly list of prisoners, identified as from the regiment.  A particularly bad incident occurred on July 4, with numerous – numbering above two dozen – members of the regiment arrested for questioning.  We might attribute that sort of behavior to disciplinary problems… but again… maybe not mutiny.

But most interesting among the “troubles” appearing for the 2nd Missouri occurred at the front end of this bulge of confinements. On April 23, the Daily Missouri Democrat reported:

Fort No. 8, St. Louis, April 21, 1863

A word from the detachment of Company E, 2d Missouri, referring to the President’s proclamation:

An order was received at this post yesterday, from Col. Almstedt’s headquarters, to furnish a certain George Hays with a safe-guard, to proceed to a certain house to recover his property, the said property being a runaway female slave.  When upon the men refusing to be used for such a duty on the plea that they had not enlisted as negro catchers, they were all ordered under arrest.  We support the above needs no comments.

[List of eleven soldiers, by name, who refused the assignment]

Some of the soldiers refusing were non-commissioned officers, indicating this was not some privates revolt against doing work.  This was a considered stand to make.  The next day, the paper walked this back a bit, claiming they intended to print the notice with some commentary.  But those comments had been inadvertently left out.  Concluding on the matter, the editor wrote:

It most clearly is the duty of the soldier to obey his superior officers, leaving responsibility of his consequent action upon the authority commanding it. If, however, he feels that is conscience or manhood will be outraged by yielding obedience to any particular order, then it is equally his duty to accept arrest and punishment without complaint.  But, as to the order referred to in this instance, our information leads us to conclude that the circumstances under which it was issued perfectly justify it, and that the disobedience was itself as unpardonable as the subsequent complaint was unsoldierly and wrong.

First, recall that Missouri was listed among the exemptions in the Emancipation Proclamation.  So Mr. Hays may have been a legal slaveholder, at least at that moment in time.  The question here is really if the military commander had an obligation to assist Hays, under his authority.  And that, I would submit, opens a larger can of worms.

But this brings up yet another possible reason for mutinous behavior.  And specifically from the men of Battery E.  Implied in the situation is Schwarz was the officer issuing the order to these men, as they came under his direct control.  I have looked through the records of six of the eleven, and find no indication of punishment or arrest.  Though a short period of confinement, say a few days, would slip go unrecorded in the service records.  But I would point out that two of these men went on to promotions and to reenlist in the regiment later in the fall.  Not graces normally accorded to those punished for disobedience.

So, we are left with Captain Schwarz killed by three soldiers, from the death-bead testimony of the victim, supported by one witness.  And we have a cry of mutinous behavior in the regiment.  Maybe we need to look deeper at the “climate” of the 2nd Missouri at this time.  The men were serving at home, literally for many.  They were given rather mundane garrison duty. They were close to the end of enlistments.  The city offered many distractions and “entertainment.”  And they were given orders that at least some found distasteful.

Any one of those factors… or all of those factors… might lead to a motive for shooting Captain Otto Schwarz.

“Conduct unbecoming” in Tony’s Saloon: Captain Michael Laux of the 2nd Missouri Artillery

Yesterday I gave you a bit of a teaser in the administrative section discussing the 2nd Missouri Artillery.  At the end of June, 1863, Captain Michael Laux, commander of Battery A, was under arrest and awaiting a hearing.  On the muster rolls, Laux’s status is simply – “Absent” and “Under arrest since February 27, 1863.”

Military things being what they were, when an officer is placed under arrest we are conditioned to expect some epic episode worthy of note… documented, of course, with a court marshal or other formal proceeding.  While there were all sorts of reasons for arrests, generally these fit into two broad categories – disobedience (not obeying orders) and misconduct.  And displays of misconduct more often than not are influenced by consumption of alcoholic beverages.  The case of Michael Laux fit into that latter category.

Laux was an immigrant, listed on the 1860 census as a carpenter originally from Bavaria, specifically the Rheinpfalz region.  At age 37, he lived in St. Louis with his wife Sibilla, aged 34.  They had two daughters, Margaretha and Mary, both born in Missouri and aged eight and six, respectively.

According to service records, Laux first joined the 1st US Reserve Infantry, Missouri Troops – a short enlistment early war formation – as a private.  He was commissioned a captain in the 2nd Missouri Artillery on September 26, 1861 and assigned to Battery A. The regimental book had Laux at five feet, 10 inches tall, with dark complexion, brown eyes, and dark hair.

Battery A’s service was mostly around St. Louis.  And it’s the winter of 1862 that we want to focus upon.  On February 5th of that year, Laux had… well… an incident:

Fold3_Page_22_Michael_Laux Fold3_Page_23__Michael_Laux

Transcription:

Headquarters, 2nd Mo. Art’y

St. Louis, Feb’y 1862

Charges and specifications against Capt. Michael Laux, Camp A, 2nd Mo. Art’y.

Charge. Conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Specification. In this that on Wednesday, the 5th day of February, he went into Tony’s Beer saloon, being drunk, and ordered the proprietor to shut up the saloon and also ordered the guests to leave, assuming the authority of the Provost Marshall and saying that he was acting under such authority – and that after he had ejected the guests from the place he himself remained to drink beer for over half an hour, thereby forcing the proprietor to act against the rules established by the Provost Marshall.  During all this time he having demeaned himself toward the proprietor as well as the guests in a very ungentlemanly manner. When he left the Beer saloon he went into the oyster saloon attached to Tony’s Beer saloon and there repeated the same treatment towards the proprietor and guests.

Henry Almstedt

Col., Commanding, 2nd Mo. Art’y.

Witnesses:

Captain F. Johnson, Comdg. Fort No. 4.

Theodore Kanfuian (?), Seinberger’s Hotel.

Dr. F. Tunghans (?), Seinberger’s Hotel.

Anton Niederwieser, Proprietor of Tony’s Tivoli.

Of the witnesses, those from Seinberger’s Hotel appear to be guests at the bar.  With the name, Niederwiser, we can trace the location of the incident to Tony Niederwiser’s Beer Garden and Billard Saloon, at 17 South 4th Street, between Market and Walnut Streets (according to the 1863 St. Louis City Directory).

No indication from the records what prompted Laux’s behavior.  He was taken into custody two days after the incident.  He was apparently released back to duty within a couple of weeks.  Then in May he was granted a furlough, then returned to duties.  Battery A was detached for service at Rolla, Missouri in July 1862, with Laux in command.  The battery returned to St. Louis in late January 1863.  Then on February 27, Laux was under arrest again.  It is not clear if this arrest was due to a new charge or related to the earlier incident.  But what is clear, Laux was in jail.

This time Laux remained in custody at least through September.  In July he was removed from the battery rolls.  In late September, his enlistment was up and, like others in the 2nd Missouri, was eligible for discharge.  In Laux’s case, it appears formal charges were never brought forward.  Instead, Laux was released, on September 28, 1863, to a board established to adjudicate those men from the 2nd Missouri then leaving service.  But Laux was not discharged, the department indicated there were accounts to settle.  This added insult to injury, as Laux was still formally IN the service but not being paid for being in service (since his term had run out).

In November, he wrote to the commander of the 2nd Missouri Artillery (which had essentially reformed), Colonel Nelson Cole:

It is now two months since I am waiting for the adjustment of my accounts by the Ordnance Department.  I am thereby in a bad situation.  Not discharged from the service yet, I am nevertheless restrained from accepting a citizen’s employment.  I would therefore most respectfully ask you to have me mustered out of the service at once, like my brother officers, who were under the same circumstances mustered out. …

Finally, on December 5, 1863, by orders of Major-General John Schofield, Laux was “honorably mustered out of service” with the proviso that his final pay would be held until all accounts were settled…. you know, the old “we’ll send you a check in the mail” routine.  Thus ended Laux’s military service.  He appears on the draft rolls for 1863, listed as a carpenter living on Carondelet Avenue (matching an 1864 city directory listing).

Post-war, Laux moved to 915 Shenandoah Street.  The 1870 census found him with his wife Sevilla, but now with two boys and a young girl – Jacob (9), Henry (6), and Phillipine (4).  Clearly Michael and Sevilla maintained a prosperous home.  What of Margaretha and Mary?  With both of age by 1870 (you know they married young back then), it is no big surprise to see them out of the house.  The oldest, Margaretha, died in Nevada in 1927.  But Mary is a mystery to me.

Laux applied, and received, a pension in 1887.  He was still at the Shenandoah Street address when he died of endocarditis on October 29, 1894.  Sevilla survived him and worked as a housekeeper until her death in April 1900.

Laux may have avoided major battles and thus lacks celebratory events in his service record.  There is little evidence for us to evaluate Laux’s ability or qualities.  Yet, there was honor attached to his service, even if clouded.  The weighty question is, what prompted the incident of February 5, 1863?

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 2nd Missouri Artillery

The Second Missouri Artillery was organized in the fall of 1861 as the 1st Missouri Artillery, Reserve Corps with fifteen – yes, fifteen – batteries.  Three were designated light batteries (A, B, and C) and the remainder as heavy batteries for garrison duty.  Designated the 2nd Missouri in November 1861, the number of batteries was trimmed to twelve with a lot of shifting of resources. And for the first year or so of the war, these batteries defended Missouri, mostly around St. Louis.  By the summer of 1863, enlistments were coming up and the regiment faced some pending changes (which would lead to consolidation in the fall).  But at least through the end of June of that year, the formation remained a regiment in the table of organization and under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Weydemeyer.

That said, the regiment’s summary is rather slim:

0193_1_Snip_MO2

Six batteries have no returns.  Of the other six, only three have cannons (two of which were the designated light batteries).  So let us attempt to at least identify what is left out with an administrative summary.  I recently came across a source with more detailed information about the officers assigned to this regiment.  And I’ve applied some of that here:

  • Battery A: No return.  Assigned to District of St. Louis, stationed at Fort No. 5.  Captain Michael Laux, of the battery, was under arrest for “Conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman” for an incident involving a consumption of beer.  Lieutenant Charles Faist filled in as commander.
  • Battery B:  With a November 1863 return    , this battery was at Helena, Arkansas with one 6-pdr field gun and one 12-pdr field howitzer. However, a battery muster roll from June 1863 indicates the battery was at Forts 1 and 2, at St. Louis at this same time.  In fact, I can find no record of a posting of this battery to Helena. So we have a conundrum with the summary.  Captain John J. Sutter was in command.
  • Battery C:  Another November 1863 return, and also placing this battery at Helena, Arkansas.  According to the return, Battery C had two 6-pdr field guns on hand.  But yet again, this is at odds with the muster rolls, placing Battery C at Fort 9, St. Louis. Captain William Baltz was in command.
  • Battery D: Based on a return filed in august 1864, this battery was at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with an annotation “Infy Stores.”  — Though with a return, no equipment tallied. Captain Charles P. Meisner commanded this battery, posted to the garrison of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
  • Battery E: No return. According to muster rolls, stationed at Forts No. 7 and 8 at St. Louis.  Captain Otto Schwarz, commanding this battery, was “killed by unknown person” on June 1, 1863.  Lieutenant Emil Holzborn replaced Schwarz.
  • Battery F: No return. Stationed at Fort No. 3, St. Louis.  Captain Arnold Roetter commanded.
  • Battery G: A return filed in January 1864 placed this battery at St. Louis with infantry stores.  There is a fort listed by name, but somewhat illegible. Muster rolls place the battery at Fort No. 6, St. Louis.  Captain Emil Strodtman (or Strodtmann) was in command, but detached for courts martial duty.
  • Battery H: No return. Posted to Fort No. 10.  Captain Frederick Lohman was in command.
  • Battery I: A return posted in August 1864 also indicates this battery had infantry stores on hand and stationed at St. Joseph, Missouri. The location is likely a transcription error.  Like sister batteries, Battery I was at St. Louis. In this case, Fort No. 4.  Captain Friederich W. Fuchs commanded.
  • Battery K: No return.  Assigned to the District of Southeast Missouri, this battery was equipped for field duty.  Muster rolls indicate service at Arcadia, Missouri. Lieutenant Thaddeus S. Clarkson.  The previous quarter, the battery reported two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3-inch Ordnance rifles. This battery was involved with the Marmaduke Raid earlier in the spring.
  • Battery L: No return.  After serving at Rolla, Missouri through the spring, this battery returned to the St. Louis area – Camp Gamble.  I am not certain who was in command.  Lieutenant William Weydemeyer is the only officer I can say for certain was with the battery in June 1863.
  • Battery M: Reported at Little Rock, Arkansas, in a January 1864 return, with six 12-pdr mountain howitzers. This location was valid for September of 1863.  In June 1863 the battery was part of the Department of Southeast Missouri and reported at Arcadia. There are also reports indicating service at Pilot Knob.   Captain Gustave Stange remained in command.

The 2nd Missouri, as depicted in the points above, would cease to exist in September of 1863.  With so many enlistments complete, the batteries were disbanded or consolidated.  Most of the officers resigned their commissions.  But then started the cycle of raising a replacement.  For all practical purposes an entirely new 2nd Missouri was recruited, with new officers.

But that is for the next quarter’s summaries.  For now we have a handful of smoothbore cannons that need ammunition:

0195_1_Snip_MO2

Just three lines to consider:

  • Battery B: 42 shot, 84 case, and 56 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 30 shell and 50 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery C: 98 shot, 216 case, and 92 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Battery M: 84 shell, 444 case, and 72 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

With that, we have accounted for the cannon ammunition reported by the regiment for the quarter.  I have posted the blank pages for the rifled projectiles should one wish to review: Hotchkiss, James, Parrott, and Schenkl.

Moving directly on to the small arms section:

0196_3_Snip_MO2

Only one line of entries:

  • Battery M: Eighty-two Army revolvers, sixty-seven cavalry sabers, and thirty horse artillery sabers.

That concludes the 2nd Missouri.  But we still have eight more lines of the “miscellaneous” independent batteries and detachments from Missouri.  Another administrative knot to untangle!

The Folwell letters, June 28, 1863: “I thought the Rear Guard would never get over.”

Over the course of three days, June 25-27, 1863, the Army of the Potomac crossed at Edwards Ferry into Maryland.  These troops would move up the roads through Maryland and within a few days be engaged at Gettysburg, some say to decide the course of the war.  But all of that was in the future on the morning of June 28.  No one in the army knew were the marching would lead.  Not the least of which was the army’s new commander, Major-General George G. Meade.

While his army’s commander was busy taking the reins of command, Captain William Folwell remained with his charge at Edwards Ferry, having witnessed the historic crossing of the Potomac.  We have no entry for June 27 and can only assume Folwell was kept too busy for writing.  But he did have observations worth recording for a letter the next morning:

June 28th, 1863, 9 A.M.,

Edwards Ferry, Md.

Lieut. [Thomas R.] Lounsbury came into my tent during my absence night before last, and wrote his name as you see near the left upper corner of this page.  A short time after, he found me.  I walked over the Bridge to his camp with him, and he, getting leave, returned with me and got supper and slept in my tent.  During the night, his Corps, the (2nd) crossed and in the morning we took the horses and rode on to overtake his Regt. We found it bivouaced a mile away.  I had the pleasure of meeting Col. [Eliakim] Sherrill, Capts. [Benjamin F.] Lee and [Winfield] Scott, and other gentlemen.  The Regt. moved and I bade him Good Bye, but the troops moved only a short distance and Tom came down to dinner.  He looks well and says the life agrees with him.  Col. Sherrill spoke highly of him and said he intended to promote him as soon as possible.  His Capt. (Scott) is, was, a Baptist preacher, a good fellow, but not much of an officer….

Somewhat prosaic, I’d offer.  The sort of encounters that must have happened frequently during the war.  With pre-war acquaintance, Lounsbury, Folwell meets with other officers from the 126th New York Infantry.  Significant enough that Folwell recorded names.  Of the four officers mentioned, within a year one was dead and two others badly wounded.  Sherrill, having assumed command of the brigade on the field at Gettysburg on July 2, was mortally wounded while leading the defense of Ziegler’s Grove on the next day.  Lee was also wounded on July 3, and discharged the following April.  Scott was wounded so grievously on May 8, 1864 at Spotsylvania to be discharged later in that fall.

quh43jup_large

Lounsbury would serve out the war, never getting the suggested promotion, with the 126th.  After the war, he went on to teach English and literature at Yale with an admirable record. Lounsbury and Folwell maintained a relationship after the war, as evidenced in the former’s papers at Yale.  How many Folwells and Lounsburys were there in the Civil War?  And how did their experiences factor into their careers?

But that was years into the future… for the moment there on the banks of the Potomac, Folwell’s next immediate task would involve dismantling the bridges which had facilitated the movement:

At noon, we received orders to prepare for dismantling the Bridge.  Accordingly, all hands went to work at cleaning ground for loading room and preparing roads to get the wagons down.  At little past four P.M. the last Regt. of the 6th Corps (Sedgwick) having filed over on to the Bridge, we began taking up the lower Bridge.  I had charge of dismantling with Cos. H and I,  Cos. F and C loaded the material on the wagons. (By the way, the Brigade is encamped at Poolesville). We were ordered to load 52 pontoons on wagons, together with the necessary appendages.  This was done by 9 P.M. The Regulars, meantime, broke the Goose Creek Bridge and the Upper Bridge into rafts, and our men went to work navigating them in to the Canal through the “left lock”. At 20 minutes to 1 A.M., we had leave to go to Camp.  We were out at 5 o’clock this morning, and have completed our work.  The loaded train has gone to Hdqrs. and the balance of the stuff is made into rafts and in the canal….

I find some important validations in this passage, confirming some assumptions made about the sequence of events.  First, one of the bridges was removed in the afternoon of June 27, with the passage of the Sixth Corps.  Second, the engineers used the river lock, on the Maryland side, to facilitate the movement of the bridging equipment downstream to Washington. Lastly, the majority of the dismantling operations were completed just after midnight.

And that point is important to place in context.  At the very time Folwell and his men were going to bed, downstream from them Major-General J.E.B. Stuart was attempting a crossing at Rowser’s Ford.  If there had been sufficient illumination for the engineers to work the complicated tasks with their bridging equipment, then we must also know there was ample illumination for Stuart’s men to conduct a reconnaissance of Rowser’s Ford, just nine miles away.  Nor did Folwell complain about rains slowing the task.  Point being, Stuart’s crossing was not as “dark and gloomy” as sometimes portrayed.

One other point to make here in regard to Stuart’s movement.  Folwell does not mention any disruptions in traffic or movements due to Confederate activity downstream.  Neither the pontoon rafts sent to Washington; nor the engineers marching through Maryland; nor the supplies being moved about appear to have crossed paths with Stuart.  The Confederate cavalry moved through like a fast summer thunderstorm.

That next morning (June 28) found Folwell waiting for orders…

We are now awaiting orders.  Two of the four Cos. here are to march to H.Q. and join the Regt., and the other two go to Washington with the rafts, whence they report to Frederick as soon as possible.  The designation of the companies has not yet been made.  I don’t care which Cos. go to Washington.  I should like to go to the city myself, but the trouble I would have to keep my men sober and in order would make me content to stay away….

Interesting, and perfectly understandable, sentiment from a company commander.

This gave Folwell time to consider what he’d witnessed the previous day:

All is very quiet on the other side.  No Rebs. in sight.  Our men are bringing over a few stragglers in the life boat.  We alone remain here covered by a couple of batteries above us on the hill. The Q.M.s and Commissaries having loaded their stuff on to Barges, have started down the Canal.  It is again quiet as before the crossing. The number of our Cavalry has astonished me.  I thought the Rear Guard would never get over.  The string of wagons was endless almost.  Gen. [John] Sedgwick stood at the head of the lower Bridge and urged on the teams nearly all afternoon.  He wore a loose sack coat without straps and a horrid bad slouch hat.  One would have thought him a very officious wagonmaster….

Sedgwick a wagonmaster?  Calls to mind a scene from the move “Patton.”

But few contrabands followed the Army.  This morning, our men bro’t over one man, three women and several bushels of babies and children. I asked if he had his *free papers.”  Oh, pretty neah, Sah, he replied, and his eyes shown like a pair of big peeled onions….

I have found only a handful of first hand references to contrabands during the move through Loudoun.  There are, to be sure, accounts.  But those are less in number than I would expect.  My suspicion is that most of the slaves who could flee had already left the previous year.  Furthermore, there was an established freedmens population in Loudoun at the time.  But Folwell’s mention here, along with a few others, confirms there were contrabands following in the army’s wake that summer.

 I do not hear about the books yet, and must write Geo. about them.  I presume they are still safe in some Express storehouse.  Our box from home hangs fire somewhere between there and Washington.  The scenery along the upper Potomac is hardly surpassed in any country. The view of the river, shore and hill-side from my tent door would make a lovely picture.  Well, I wonder the orders did not come.  We are all ready to march and would rather be off to save marching at night. If we are not to go, I should be at work on my pay rolls for May and June.

Ah, the paperwork ware continued, even as the army marched off to battle.

(Citations from William Watts Folwell, Civil War Diary, unpublished, transcription retrieved from University of Minnesota Library, pages 421-23 (pages 427-9 of scanned copy))

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 1st Missouri Artillery

As a “westerner”… or dare I say “Trans-Mississippian”… from my youngest days, it was impressed upon me, through my own studies and the words of others, that nothing regarding Missouri and the Civil War is straight forward.  Such is certainly the case with respect to Missouri’s artillery batteries serving the Federal army during the war.  While the state provided two “on paper” organized regiments of light artillery, there were in addition several independent batteries, militia batteries, and other sections and detachments.  And within that loose structure, there were oddities and questions in terms of administrative arrangements and issued equipment (which we’ll focus on here).

Looking at the aggregate listing for the second quarter, 1863, you can see the clerks opted to consolidate all the Missouri batteries, violating alphabetical order, onto the bottom of the page for this section of the summaries:

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As our focus this round is just the 1st Missouri Light Artillery Regiment, we shall trim that list down:

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While an improvement, in terms of completeness, over the previous quarter, we see that most of the returns were not received in Washington until late summer or fall of 1863.  And two returns were not posted until 1864.  The rundown:

  • Battery A: Reported at Iuka, Mississippi with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  Captain George W. Schofield remained in command.  And the battery remained with Twelfth Division, Thirteenth Corps.  As such, the location given is at odds with the battery service record.  In June 1863, the battery was at Vicksburg, part of the besieging force.  In October 1864, when the report was received in Washington, the battery was at Carrollton, Louisiana, having transferred to the Department of the Gulf.  Iuka does not fit into the time line for this battery.
  • Battery B:  No return.  At the start of the spring, this battery was assigned to the Second (Brigadier-General Francis J. Herron’s) Division, Department of Missouri during the quarter.  Captain Martin Welfley returned, from his staff assignment, in late May.  Then in June the battery moved, with it’s parent organization, to Vicksburg and was assigned to the Thirteenth Corps.  Arriving at Vicksburg on June 14, the battery fell in on a 32-pdr gun during the siege in addition to their own 12-pdr Napoleons and field howitzers.
  • Battery C: Reporting from Vicksburg, Mississippi with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  Captain Charles Mann remained in command, with the battery assigned to Sixth Division, Seventeenth Corps.
  • Battery D:  At Corinth, Mississippi, with two 6-pdr field guns (a reduction from four the previous quarter), two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 3-inch rifles.  The battery, under Captain Henry Richardson was assigned to Corinth, part of the Sixteenth Corps.
  • Battery E: At Vicksburg, Mississippi with four 10-pdr Parrotts and two “Fawcett Rifled Iron Gun, Cal. 3.5.”  Note the designation change from a generic “English Guns” the previous quarter.  In late May, Captain Nelson Cole’s battery moved to St. Louis, and with their parent division (Herron’s) then moved to Vicksburg.
  • Battery F: Carrollton, Louisiana with two 3.80-inch James Rifles and four 3.5-inch Fawcett Guns. The location reflects a reporting date of September 1863.  Battery F, like Batteries B and E, was part of Herron’s Division sent to Vicksburg in June 1863. Captain Joseph Foust remained in command.
  • Battery G: No return.  Captain Henry Hescock’s battery was assigned to the Third Division, Twentieth Corps. Hescock was also listed as commander of the artillery brigade supporting the division.  As of the reporting date, they were on the Tullahoma Campaign.
  • Battery H: At Corinth, Mississippi with two 6-pdr field guns, one 24-pdr field howitzer, and two 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Frederick Welker’s battery was part of the garrison at Corinth, under the Sixteenth Corps.
  • Battery I:  Reporting at Pocahontas, Tennessee (a railroad stop northwest of Corinth), with two 6-pdr field guns, one 12-pdr field howitzers (down by one from the previous quarter), two 10-pdr Parrotts, and one 4.62-inch rifle (cited as a 12-pdr James, see mention below).  Captain Benjamin Tannrath commanded the battery, assigned to the Sixteenth Corps, under the Corinth Garrison.
  • Battery K: At Helena, Arkansas with four 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Stillman O. Fish was in command.  The battery was part of the District of Eastern Arkansas.
  • Battery L: At Rolla, Missouri with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.67-inch rifles. Captain Frank Backof’s Battery, remaining with the Department of the Frontier, was with a portion of Herron’s Division not forwarded to Vicksburg.
  • Battery M: At Vicksburg, Mississippi with four 10-pdr Parrotts.  Captain Junius W. MacMurray’s battery remained assigned to Seventh Division, Seventeenth Corps.

So of the twelve batteries of this regiment, half at Vicksburg. Four other batteries were indirectly supporting that campaign.  Battery G was on the Tullahoma Campaign. Leaving only Backof’s Battery in their home state.

The variety of armament should excite readers.  Naturally the mention of Fawcett guns is noteworthy.  But we’ve seen those reported from previous quarters.  It’s the 12-pdr James rifle, with Battery I, which stands out for this summary.  The column header (part of the form) clearly calls this out as a bronze weapon.  And specifically 4.62-inch caliber.  We can’t dismiss this simply as transcription error because, as we will see below, the battery also reported ammunition in that caliber.  So either a lot of transcription errors…. or a bronze 12-pdr rifle was with the battery.  Certainly not the rifled 12-pdr Napoleons that are seen at Gettysburg.  Those were only used for tests.  Rather, the leading candidate is a 12-pdr field gun, heavy, that had been rifled to the James system.  Several of those survive today. And with Battery I posted to guarding a railroad, form seems to follow function.  Until I find more information, I’d still rate that tentative.

Turning to the smoothbore ammunition, we find the need to extend the table to include those 24-pdr howitzer rounds:

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Listing by battery:

  • Battery A:  66 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 16 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers
  • Battery C: 65 shot for 6-pdr field guns; 124 shell, 96 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery D: 182 shot, 50 case, and 87 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 119 shell and 38 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers; and 162 case for 12-pdr Napoleons (which may be a transcription error).
  • Battery H: 130 case and 28 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 69 shell, 53 case, and 60 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery I: 15 shot, 195 case, and 109 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 49 shell, 36 case, and 71 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery L: 184 case and 80 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.

The limited number of rounds for Battery A stand out in particular. Just canister… for the siege of Vicksburg.  Go figure.

Turning to the rifled projectiles, Hotchkiss is first:

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We have a short list, but with notes:

  • Battery D: 40 canister, 98 percussion shell, 152 fuse shell, and 270 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery F: 12 shot and 86 percussion shells for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 280 shot and 270 percussion shell for 3.67-inch rifles.

Once again we see those in the field, and those in Washington, make distinction between the 3.80-inch “James” and the 3.67-inch “Wiard” calibers.  We should not read into the latter identification, as that was simply tied to a caliber of gun, though not specifically the inventor’s gun.  In this case, Backof’s battery had rifled 6-pdrs.

That distinction remains for carry-over columns of Hotchiss on the next page (which I’ll break down by section for clarity):

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Two reporting:

  • Battery F: 88 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery L:  100 canister for 3.67-inch rifles.

Now we can move to the James-patent Projectiles:

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And as mentioned above, we have either a lot of transcription errors, or something to fire from a rifled bronze 12-pdr:

  • Battery I: 10 shot, 8 shell, 25 case, and 30 canister for 4.62-inch rifles.

The next section covers Parrott-patent projectiles:

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Five batteries reporting:

  • Battery E: 420 shell, 175 case, and 75 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery H: 163 shell, 137 case, and 137 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery I: 48 shell, 44 case, and 64 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery K: 160 shell, 340 case, and 120 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery M: 265 shell, 473 case, and 130 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

Lastly we turn to the Schenkl columns:

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A lot of shot of that type:

  • Battery E:  130 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery I: 54 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 92 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 126 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

There are no further Schenkl entries on the next page.  So we can move to the small arms:

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By battery:

  • Battery A: Fourteen percussion pistols, twenty Navy revolvers, and ninety-three cavalry sabers.
  • Battery C: Three (?) Army revolvers and four cavalry sabers.
  • Battery D: Eight Army revolvers and thirty cavalry sabers.
  • Battery E: Seventy-seven Army revolvers and forty-four cavalry sabers.
  • Battery F: Ten Army revolvers and eighteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery H: Eight Army revolvers and forty-eight (?) cavalry sabers.
  • Battery I: Seventeen Army revolvers, 113 cavalry sabers, and one horse artillery saber.
  • Battery K: Three Navy revolvers and twenty-five cavalry sabers.
  • Battery L: Eleven Navy revolvers and thirty-nine cavalry sabers.
  • Battery M: Four Army revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.

Other than the percussion pistols, no oddities among the small arms.  There are a lot of reenactor impressions “taking a hit” right now.

We will pick up with the 2nd Missouri Artillery next.

The Folwell letters, June 26, 1863, afternoon entry: “It is an old story to see the Army cross”

Looking at the pace, progress of the crossings at Edwards Ferry, the flow of troops on June 25, 1863 was not sufficient given the critical operational situation.  The three corps which crossed that day – the Eleventh, First, and Third, in that order generally – did so with delayed progress.  Not only delays as the engineers placed a second bridge, but the units making the crossing brought their own delays… not the least of which were the additional horses brought by the Eleventh Corps.   And we see the rains, which were recorded by Captain William Folwell’s letter of the day, which caused the Third Corps much misery as the crossing and march into Maryland continued into the early morning hours.

By contrast, June 26 was a flood of men and equipment.  Although on paper, again only three corps crossed – the Twelfth, Fifth, and Second, in that order.  Add to that movement the Artillery Reserve, Army Headquarters element, and the majority of six corps worth of wagon trains.  The march must have seemed endless to any eyewitness.  And Folwell was just such an eyewitness.  Just after noon on June 26, he resumed writing a letter home, this being a post-script to a letter written the previous evening:

P.S.  June 26th, 1863, 1 P.M.

The letter I wrote last evening must lie over till tomorrow as we can only send and receive a mail on alternate days.  We get our mail at present by the little steamer packet which runs on the canal from Georgetown to this place.  To-day we have a fine misty rain, falling steadily, which keeps all of us not on duty under cover.  I have written you a short letter and would have done you a long one if the Major ([E.O.] Beers) and some of the other officers had not come in and spent a large part of the forenoon with me.  The 12th Corps had crossed this morning and the troops of another, (I think the 2nd) have just appeared on the opposite hills.  Gen. Hooker and staff came over just before noon and followed the advance of the Army.  We have yet no information as to the destination of the forces.  Gen. Hooker seemed anxious to have the wagon trains hurried up and commended on of our officers (Capt. [Martin] Van Brocklin) whom he saw moving them on. I have not been out of camp to-day.  It is an old story to see the Army cross, for me.  Bain [Lieutenant Mahlon Bainbridge Folwell] is well and full of business as both adjutant and Quartermaster of detachment.  I hope his troubles are over.  We shall know soon, for Hdqrs. left Washington yesterday and will probably reach here to-morrow.

Though just a brief addendum to the letter, there are many observations which match well into the narrative of the crossing.  The time line given by Folwell is consistent with that of the official reports. The mention of a misty rain is duly noted.  Furthermore, Hooker’s concern, clearly recorded here by Folwell, about the wagons and further delays, should receive a highlight.

On a lower level, we get a small glimpse into engineer operations during a crossing.  There is much “just wait, watch, and stand ready” for them during such a crossing.  As Folwell said, “an old story” by this point in the war.  It is significant that Beers spent time at Folwell’s tent during the morning.  I’ve always felt, based on comments by other officers, Beers was the type of leader to be at the most critical point.  And Folwell’s place, on the Maryland side of the crossing, would be that critical point –  should repairs be needed, another bridge be required, or yet another set of orders come down.

We often associate the C&O Canal with mule-drawn boats.  But steam-powered boats were operated, as the C&O Canal Association reminds us.

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Poor Mahalon, though.  His “troubles” were that of additional duties.  Presumably, those would be over when the main body of the 50th New York Engineers moved up from Washington.  A small, personal aspect of the crossing which would probably have escaped record, had we not consulted Folwell’s letters.  Later in the evening, Folwell would start a fresh new letter, offering more observations on a most active day at Edwards Ferry.

(Citations from William Watts Folwell, Civil War Diary, unpublished, transcription retrieved from University of Minnesota Library, pages 420-21 (pages 426-7 of scanned copy))

Fortification Friday: Complex “Intrenchments” and complexity fortification history

Earlier in this series, we looked at a class of fortification that Mahan labeled “simple fortifications.”  These included some well recognized – and some often misidentified – fortification layouts… “the Right Line; the Redan; the Lunette, or Detached Bastion; the Crémaillère, or Indented Line; the Priest-Cap, or Swallow-Tail; the Redoubt; the Star Fort; and Bastion Fort.”  And these were, for emphasis, “simple” in relative terms in regard to the level of effort required for the engineer to design the works.  Briefly, the simple entrenchments (or, if you prefer, fortifications) allowed the engineer to focus simply on a single point to be defended or single intended purpose… simply… for sake of redundancy.

But if there are simple entrenchments, there must be complex ones also, right?  Indeed.  And how do we define those complex entrenchments… or as they were called in Mahan’s day “intrenchments?  Well… as with many other things, Mahan avoided a specific definition.  Almost as if he wanted the cadets to focus more on the practical application than the theory.  But we can derive a general definition of “complex” from the description of the forms constituting these arrangements:

Lines or Complex Intrenchments.

Dispositions made to cover extended positions, and which present a front in one direction to the enemy, are termed Lines.  There are two classes of lines – Continued Lines, and Lines with Intervals.  Continued lines present no openings through which the enemy can penetrate except the ordinary outlets.  Lines with intervals consist of detached works, which are enclosed partly, or entirely, throughout their perimeters, arranged in defensive relations with each other; and presenting wide intervals between them defended only by their fire.

Implied here are three notions.  First, that complex entrenchments are actually a super-set of simple works arranged to present a front.  Second, that complex entrenchments are, as an aggregate, not just defending a salient point of importance, but rather the whole of an area.  Lastly, complex entrenchments, as the title “lines” implies, are erected to bar an adversary from approaching along a broad front.  These presumptions are reinforced by the second introductory paragraph from Mahan:

The same general principles apply to lines as to other intrenchments; but, from their great extent, they usually receive a slight relief, and the simplest angular figures are adopted for their plan.  In laying them out, the engineer should avail himself of all the natural obstacles presented by the position, so as to diminish the labor of erecting artificial ones.

See how this becomes counter-intuitive?  Complex entrenchments should, according to Mahan, be refined with simple angles of defense and fewer ancillary obstacles.  And from the perspective of the historian studying fortifications of the Civil War to latch onto.  Mahan feared exponential growth of labor requirements that might come from very complex arrangements.   And to that point, let me skip ahead to the last passage from the chapter on complex entrenchments:

Besides, a very capital objection in war, the time and labor required to throw up so many works are altogether beyond what can be disposed of in the ordinary circumstances of an army.

The emphasis is in the original –  “a very capital objection in war.”

You see, this is the point at which we must start reconciling what we know of field fortifications as a function of military science with what we know of the same fortifications as a described from wartime correspondence and observed with the surviving works.  Indeed, if one studies the accounts and walks along the surviving works, there are serious questions about how much of Mahan’s teaching shows up on the battlefield.  Sure, we see star forts, bastions, and redans at some places.  But how do we account for the entrenchments scattered about Virginia, particularly from the Overland Campaign?  (And mention Northern Georgia and a plethora of other places, but I’m selecting a handy point of reference here.)  The works at the Wilderness, Spotslyvania, and North Anna seem to be contradictory, in some places by small increments but at others with a wide gap, to Mahan’s teaching.

And this requires us, as historians, to recognize military science is not a fixed field of study.  Like any other profession, military science evolves, changes, and re-invents.  It is ever changing, even while reliant on core principles.  And with that in mind, we must lay Mahan’s pre-war teachings beside his post-war revisions, to the same manual of study.  Furthermore, we must also pull in the post-war manuals, such as Wheeler’s, which I much prefer, as additional perspectives.  It is vital to understand not only that military science was applied on the battlefield, but it also evolved due to its application on the battlefield.  We’ll see, as I progress along this thread of posts, how Mahan’s construct of “simple and complex” field fortifications would transition into Wheeler’s “simple, complex, and hasty” fortifications…. and that’s being overly simplistic.

There in lies the complexity when studying these complex entrenchments.  There is much a “point in time” to consider.  Not so much that manuals needed to be re-written, but that the re-writing was derived from experience derived from the very occurrences being studied.

I’ll go one further.  It is not enough that we recognize that military science evolved, offering a new approach to the application of field fortifications.  We should also seek out the drivers that caused that evolution.  Now we might lay this at the alter of the rifled musket.  But I’d challenge that long held belief a bit.  If this was all due to accurate, high-velocity projectiles, wouldn’t the natural evolution be towards thicker, stouter, more resilient works?

I say there’s more to it than just the mine ball and Hotchkiss shells.  And that something had to do with the point Mahan cited – time and labor.  In my opinion, the more important driver on military science were the advancements of technology that translated to better logistics and communications.  Those, by application, translated to operational mobility which far surpassed that of previous generations of warfighters. Then by extension, that gave the battlefield commander more resources to apply to the situation. You see, in order to add more complexity to those complex entrenchments, one must afford more time and labor.

OK…. I’m tipping my hand to a conclusion for which I’ve not presented the evidence.  To do that, we must first explore Mahan’s complex entrenchments, or lines, in detail.

(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, pages 69 and 75.)