Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – New Hampshire

New Hampshire was represented by one line in the fourth quarter summary for 1864. That one line accounted for the lone field battery from the state:

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  • 1st Light Battery: At Brandy Station with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. The battery remained under command of Captain Frederick M. Edgell. In October the battery transferred out of the Third Brigade, Reserve Artillery to the Third Corps, Army of the Potomac. And with that formation, they were in winter quarters during the February when their return was submitted.

Allow me to expand upon this battery’s service through the fall a bit, as we have space to do so and… well… anytime we have a Brandy Station story I like to pontificate. The winter quarters was the 1st New Hampshire’s fourth visit to Brandy Station, if my count is correct. The first being at the opening of the 2nd Manassas Campaign, in the late summer of 1862, as part of Pope’s command.

Going forward to 1863, as part of the Reserve artillery, the battery passed through Brandy Station, and Culpeper at the close of the Gettysburg Campaign. Of course, that stay ended when Confederates initiated the Bristoe Campaign. In November, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rappahannock into Culpeper County again. And on November 8, Edgell’s battery fought around Brandy Station. I’ll let his words summarize the engagement:

My battery marched with the reserve batteries of the Third Corps, on the morning of the 7th. Crossed the river at Kelly’s Ford at dark the same day and took position with the Second Division, reporting to General Prince. On the morning of the 8th, reported to General Carr, Third Division, and marched with his advanced brigade, arriving at the railroad at 10 a.m. About noon the enemy were found posted with artillery on a ridge east of the railroad and about a mile north of Brandy Station. One section of my battery was ordered up, and opened on the enemy with shell at about 2,000 yards distance. This, with the advance of our skirmishers, caused them to retire after firing a few rounds. My section immediately occupied the position, but finding the enemy out of range, pushed on and took position in the edge of the wood to the left of and near Brandy Station. The enemy now opened, with two 20-pounders and two smaller guns, at about 1,800 yards distance, to which we replied, and they again retired. My remaining section now came up and took position to the right of the railroad, and fired a few shots at bodies of the enemy’s cavalry, but with what effect is not known. This closed the operations for the day.

My battery expended in the whole affair 56 rounds of percussion and time shell, but a strong wind blowing across the line of fire much impaired its accuracy.

I have no casualties to report.

OR, Series I, Volume 29, Part I, Serial 48, page 573

Captain George E. Randolph, commanding the artillery brigade of Third Corps, recorded in more detail the number and type of rounds fired by the New Hampshire gunners – 20 Schenkl case, 10 Schenkl shell, and 30 Hotchkiss fuse (time or percussion not specified) shell. Randoph said 60 rounds, while Edgell said 56. Perhaps the New Hampshire battery fired four additional rounds on the previous day. Randolph went on to relate Edgell complained about the Schenkl percussion fuses, as they failed to burst on occasion. But added “I was surprised at this, for I have seldom known them to fail.” However, he did note the other batteries did not seem to have a problem.

After the fight on November 8, the Army of the Potomac pressed the Army of Northern Virginia out of Culpeper for the last time in the war. That, in turn, setup the Mine Run Campaign with the Federals moving over the Rapidan into the Wilderness. After the anti-climatic close of that campaign, the Army of the Potomac returned to Culpeper for winter quarters. First Sergeant Samuel S. Piper later described, in a service narrative for the state’s Adjutant General, the battery’s quarters as, “at Brandy Station, Va., on the plantation of the Hon. John Minor Botts.” Piper went on to call it the best camp the battery ever had. While I have not seen a photo of the New Hampshire battery in those quarters, we do have a photo of Auburn, Botts’ house on the plantation:

I am not certain exactly where the Third Corps’ artillery park was that winter. Likely between Auburn and the railroad station. Readers will recall Auburn still stands. Hopefully some future owner will recognize the significance of the structure and restore the house to its past prominence.

There are two other formations from New Hampshire that we should mention here. Both were employed as heavy artillery, and thus didn’t have cannon or stores of their own to report:

  • 1st New Hampshire Heavy Artillery Company: Not listed. Garrison of Fort Constitution, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Captain Charles H. Long remained in command.
  • 2nd New Hampshire Heavy Artillery Company: Not listed.  Garrison of Fort McClary, Portsmouth Harbor, across the entrance in Maine. Captain Ira M. Barton commanded. 

Both companies spent the winter months guarding Portsmouth. In May, both moved to Washington, D.C. to replace the other “heavies” sent forward to the front lines. Later, those two companies formed the nucleus of a full regiment of New Hampshire heavy artillery formed starting in the late summer of 1864.

The stories aside, we turn to the ammunition reported. No smoothbore, so we can move right to the Hotchkiss columns:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 169 Hotchkiss time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

On to the next page for more Hotchkiss rounds:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 26 percussion fuse shell, 182 bullet shell, and 80 canister for 3-inch rifles.

The next page tallies those Schenkl shells that Edgell complained of:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 180 shell for 3-inch rifles.

And another Schenkl entry on the next page:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 145 case shot for 3-inch rifles.

Turning to the small arms:

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  • 1st Light Battery: Eight Colt army revolvers, seven Colt navy revolvers, and twelve cavalry sabers.

Cartridge bags reported on the next page:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 12 cartridge bags for 3-inch rifles.

Lastly, pistol cartridges, fuse, primers, and other items:

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  • 1st Light Battery: 200 navy caliber pistol cartridges; 485 paper fuses; 1,300 friction primers; 23 yards of slow match; 500 pistol percussion caps; and 5 portfires.

One might call attention to the lack of metallic fuses reported here. Edgell complained about the Schenkl fuses in November. Then in February had no tallies. Had he discarded the object of his ire? I don’t think so. It seems the returns counted the rounds, with fuses, as a whole unit. And the columns on this page were used to account for fuses issued separate from the projectile. Regardless, we have Edgell reporting both Hotchkiss and Schenkl, a mix not preferred by Brigadier-General Henry Hunt in charge of the Army of the Potomac’s artillery.

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Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Mississippi: Marine Brigade and USCT

The next section in the forth quarter, 1863 summary has a heading of “Mississippi”:

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Even a cursory read of Civil War history tells us Mississippi was decidedly “Confederate.” Indeed, the second state to secede. There were unionists in Mississippi… not a whole lot in number… enough to constitute a battalion of mounted infantry starting in 1863. However, what we see listed under this heading are not white unionists but rather troops serving in a unit named for the river “Mississippi” and former slaves organized into a colored regiment. So basically the clerks put anything with “Mississippi” in the name under the heading, regardless of origin or classification.

We’ve discussed the Mississippi Marine Brigade (MMB) in earlier posts. I still wish a full, proper history of this interesting unit were out there to reference. Those I’ve come across are either dated (the typical post-war unit histories) or what I find as somewhat superficial (focusing too much on the Ellets and less on the subordinates). As I’ve said before, the MMB was not from Mississippi… were not marines… and really not a brigade. Many have tried to spin this organization as a precursor to the Vietnam War era “Brownwater Navy.” But I think that once one gets past the surface, those stories diverge considerably.

At the end of 1863, the MMB operated out of Nachez, Mississippi as an independent command within the Seventeenth Corps. Brigadier General Alfred W. Ellet commanded the brigade. His nephew, Colonel John A. Ellet, commanded the ram fleet Major David S. Tallerday commanded the 1st Infantry Regiment MMB. The 1st Cavalry Battalion fell under Major James M. Hubbard. And Captain Daniel Walling commanded a battery of artillery. During the fall months of 1863, the MMB saw active service keeping the Mississippi River safe for navigation. In two significant actions, one at Goodrich Landing in October and the other outside Natchez in early December, the MMB operated with sections of artillery against Confederate troops. So we turn to the listings to see what artillery they had on hand:

  • 1st Battery MMB: On the US Steamer Baltic with six 3-inch rifles. Also known as Battery C, Segebarth’s Pennsylvania Marine Artillery. Captain Daniel P. Walling commanded.
  • Section of 1st Battery: On board US Steamer Diana with two 12-pdr heavy field guns.
  • 2nd Battery MMB: Indicated at Natchez with no artillery, but with a note I think reads “entered in first January.” There is no record of a second MMB battery. So this line is suspicious to say the least.
  • Company F, 1st Infantry, MMB: On the US Steamer Diana with four 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

These summary lines indicate the MMB had twelve field artillery pieces (so long as one agrees with the designation of the “heavy” 12-pdr as a field piece). However, an abstract from returns for the Army of Tennessee dated January 1864 has the MMB with six heavy artillery pieces and no field artillery. As with many wartime records, I think we see loose application of definitions in play here.

Inside of these lines clearly labeled MMB is one simply indicating “2d Arty.” This is distinct from the MMB, not having that abbreviation, nor dittos carrying from a line above. It does seem to match with an entry seen in the previous quarter that I believe for the 2nd Mississippi Heavy Artillery, African Descent – a USCT regiment. Indeed, that regiment had postings to both Natchez and Vicksburg as indicated on the station column for this line entry. As such, I will transcribe this line for that regiment:

  • Company I, 2nd Mississippi Heavy Artillery, A.D.: At Natchez with two 12-pdr field howitzers.

Allow me to go a bit deeper with the 2nd Mississippi Heavy, as… well… heavy artillery doesn’t get enough attention in my opinion, and colored heavy artillery regiments get practically none!

According to the post return for Natchez in December 1863, the 2nd Mississippi Heavy had ten organized companies with 31 officers and 844 men reporting for duty (296 men were sick, detailed, or in confinement). At that time, Lieutenant-Colonel Hubert A. McCaleb commandedthe regiment. But in January, Colonel Bernard G. Farrar took command, having formerly led the 30th Missouri Infantry. Specific to Company I, which appears on the summary line, Captain Harbert Harberts, formerly of the 46th Illinois Infantry, commanded. Lieutenants James W. Steele and Robert Lang (both also from the 46th Illinois) were other company officers. I plan to follow up with another post specific to the 2nd Mississippi Heavy detailing the officers assigned and other interesting things from the rank and file.

For now, let us turn to the ammunition reported on hand. Starting with the smoothbore:

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  • Section on Steamer Diana: 38 shot, 88 shell, and 157 case for 12-pdr field guns.
  • Company I, 2nd Mississippi HA: 100 shell and 88 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Company F, 1st Infantry MMB: 138 shell and 941 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

On to the next page:

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  • Section on Steamer Diana: 88 canister for 12-pdr field guns.
  • Company I, 2nd Mississippi HA: 100 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Company F, 1st Infantry MMB: 149 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

To the right is an entry for Hotchkiss rounds:

  • 1st Battery, MMB: 62 time fuse shells for 3-inch rifles.

More Hotchkiss on the next page:

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  • 1st Battery, MMB: 101 percussion fuse shells and 366 canister for 3-inch rifles.

Skipping forward a couple pages, the next entry line is for Schenkl projectiles:

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  • 1st Battery, MMB: 2,024 case shot for 3-inch rifles. A healthy quantity for six guns.

On to the small arms:

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  • 1st Battery, MMB: 20 Colt navy revolvers and 20 horse artillery sabers.

Lastly, there are a couple entries for fuses and match:

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  • 1st Battery, MMB: Two yards of slow match.
  • Company I, 2nd Mississippi HA: 450 friction primers.

I would say that from the entries under Mississippi we find two interesting units. One is rather well known as a unique and somewhat unorthodox formation… though I would argue misunderstood even if well covered by historians. The second is rather obscure, with really no attention from historians. Both have wartime stories we should explore.

There is no “curse of Confederate gold”… because there is no Confederate gold!

Back in 2018, the History [Channel] debuted a series titled “The Curse of Civil War Gold,” billed as a reality show following investigators on the trail of lost Confederate gold. (Why it is not titled “Curse of Confederate Gold” would be a good study in how our contemporary discussions have altered the framing of the past… but that’s grist for some other writer to grind.) The premise of this chase is one oft repeated in fiction… and unfortunately far too often by treasure hunters.

Basically, the show contends at the end of the Civil War, Confederate President Jefferson Davis fled Richmond with the “vast” holdings of the Confederate treasury. After managing to hustle this pile of gold and silver down through the Carolinas, Davis and his treasure were captured near Irwinville, Georgia. But, the show contends, instead of turning this valuable cargo over to Federal authorities, the officers and men who captured Davis proceeded to secret all away to Michigan in a caper matching the fictional Kelly’s Heroes. Then somehow our heroes managed to lose this all when a boxcar full of the loot slipped off into Lake Michigan on one of those proverbial “dark and stormy nights.”

The History web page summarizes this story in more detail. Suffice to say, like so much that appears on History now days, it is more entertainment than actual history. I’ll forgo a line by line debunking of the premise. Years ago, when the “players” involved with this version of the story came to the fore, my friend Eric Whittenburg laid out many of the faults of the premise (here and here). In particular, Eric discussed the role of Colonel Robert H. G. Minty in the Confederate gold story, at length. The “smoking gun” that puts away Minty’s alleged involvement is the fact, as Eric and historian Rand Bitter point out, that the former cavalry commander experienced a great deal of financial difficulty after the war. One might think if Minty had pocketed some of Jeff Davis’ gold, fortunes would have been different.

Back in 2008, Hans Kuenzi wrote an excellent article for the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable on the story of lost Confederate gold. The article is a good starting point, with a summary of the facts pertaining to the Confederate treasury and the end of the war. Kuenzi casts full light on a lot of alleged shadowy circumstances regarding the gold and other riches claimed to be “out there” for the finding. His summary is there is nothing “lost” per say, but just an interesting story about the accounting for the treasury as the Confederacy met its end.

However, if you have watched any of the show, you know there are many open ended speculations that allow the proponents to keep the dream alive. The problem is speculations distract from the facts. And here is one key fact, which I think the TV show conveniently overlooks, that kills the myth:

HDQRS. CAVALRY CORPS, MIL. DIV. OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Macon, Ga., June 4, 1865.
Hon. E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War, Washington, D.C.:
Your dispatch of June 3 is received. I have already had this country from Florida to Charlotte, N. C., searched for the thirteen millions of treasure previously reported by General Halleck and other fabulous amounts reported by various parties. I am convinced from all the information I can gather that the entire amount of gold and silver with which Davis left Richmond did not exceed one million and a half; that the most of this was paid to his officers and men between Charlotte and Washington, Ga., and the balance scattered amongst people who were regarded trustworthy. Of this, $6,000 was delivered to one of my officers by Robert Toombs. I suspect the remainder was stolen from the people’s homes by disbanded rebel cavalry, assisted by our own men. Every house where rebels have been in Georgia has been searched. It is also reported that the small sums in the possession of Davis’ party were pillaged by the captors. I will send to Irwin County to ascertain if they overlooked any, and will set a watch for the colored man Jones.
J. H. WILSON,
Brevet Major-General.

Official Records, Series I, Volume XLIX, Part 2, Serial 104, page 955

Consider the correspondent and the recipient of this dispatch. Major-General James Wilson commanded the Cavalry Corps, Military Division of the Mississippi, which at the end of the war conducted a massive raid through Alabama and Georgia to finish off what Sherman had started. As result of being the senior military officer in the sector, Wilson was the “man on the spot” to deal with Jefferson Davis. So we must treat this as a bona fide report from the field. Stanton, of course, was the Secretary of War at the time. In the immediate aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination, Stanton exercised more influence on the military situation than any other civilian.

Those endpoints defined, this sort of correspondence (from a senior officer in the field directly to the Secretary of War) was commonplace during the Civil War. In this particular case, Wilson is responding directly to inquiries and requests from the Secretary’s office. If handled as similar correspondence during the war, and we have no evidence it was not, the messages past through normal military channels – meaning everyone in the chain of command at least knew the correspondence was taking place, if not completely informed of the content.

The preface of the dispatch, citing Stanton’s message of June 3 indicates not only was the inquiry sent by telegraph, but the response was also sent that way. Very likely, as standard practice by late war, the message was encrypted by cypher when sent. Furthermore the telegraph operators were trusted men employed by the War Department, and “cleared” as we would call it today. Thus we might consider this equal of a classified dispatch in the 20th century sense… or classified email in the 21st century parlance.

What that means is this dispatch is not some under-cover or covert communication. Nor was it some prop in a cover-up to distract from a caper pulled off in the waning days of the Civil War. It is an official report, through official channels, within view of all those who needed to know about the situation. Nor was there any secret or covert message system which would be used in lieu of this official system.

Furthermore, consider the provenance of this dispatch, historically speaking. It was, after the war was deemed at an end, filed just like thousands (hundreds of thousands if not millions) of dispatches and reports from the war. Then near the end of the 19th century, a team of appointed men went through those papers with instructions to compile them into what we know as “The Official Records.” In short, this dispatch was seen, by men who’s business was to know, as military correspondence worth preserving as part of the record of events. Basically, an artifact. Er… A FACT!

The next layer of this context is the time at which the dispatch was written. June 4, 1865. Just over two months from Davis’ flight, with gold in tow, from Richmond. Less than two months since Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. In the weeks since those climatic events in Virginia, Lincoln fell to an assassin’s bullet, Johnston surrendered in North Carolina, and Davis himself captured in Georgia. By the first of June, all major Confederate military forces were non-existent. What remained was the job of cleaning up the aftermath, ensuring a transition from war to peace. And with that existed a strong desire to tie up any and all loose ends. After all, Congress was now reluctant to keep military funding at wartime levels… time to close the books. So we can read into Stanton’s inquiry and Wilson’s response the need to “settle up” all activities associated with suppressing the Confederacy.

That framing set, what did Wilson tell Stanton… and us today?

First, there were wild claims of fantastic amounts of money up for grabs as the Confederacy collapsed. Wilson, at the point of contact of these claims, debunks them with authority. “I am convinced from all the information I can gather that the entire amount of gold and silver with which Davis left Richmond did not exceed one million and a half …”

Second, Wilson gave us two numbers to work with here. Citing Major-General Henry Halleck, an officer known to be excitable in the moment, there’s a claim of $13 million. Then there’s Wilson’s assessment of $1.5 million. A lot of variance. But maybe BOTH are accurate. Hear me out here. Neither number is identified as US dollars or Confederate dollars. During the winter months of 1865, inflation crippled the Confederate economy. Reports out of Richmond had one US dollar of gold selling for between $66 and $107 Confederate dollars. So if Halleck were citing reports documenting the value in Confederate dollars, depending on the moment in time and exchange rate, $13 million in Confederate might translate to $1.5 million in US.

And that exchange rate must be factored into not only the military reports, but also in the claims, myths, and legends that followed the war. Most authoritative accounts of the Confederate treasury’s demise indicate just over $1 million (in US dollars) left Richmond with Davis. And of that, around half was “secured” (being kind… “seized” might be more accurate) from the Richmond banks. Thus the actual Confederate treasury holdings were likely valued around $500,000 to $600,000, again in US dollars, as it departed Richmond. Subtract from that sums paid out to Confederate troops at Danville and other points as the Confederate government fled, and the sum drops to around $150,000 or so. Do the math on the exchange rate, and suddenly the same paltry pile is $10 million or more Confederate dollars!

Third, we have Wilson’s assertion that most of the Confederate treasury had been dispersed to pay off the men providing that last fleeting bit of security for the Confederate government. What remained, Davis (and the cabinet) had assigned to trusted officials for safe keeping. He even named a name – Robert Toombs – with $6,000. (Not to belabor a point, but that sum would be over half a million Confederate dollars!) Thus instead of a neat ledger and precise accounting, Wilson could only point generally to how the Confederate treasury faded away.

But there is no doubt that in the process of paying its way from Virginia to Georgia the Confederate treasury diminished to a very small quantity in short order. The sad part, as Wilson pointed out in the dispatch, is that much of that money, paid out to cover costs as the Confederate officials fled, was later stolen by ex-Confederates in the aftermath of war, or by his own (Federal) soldiers sent out to search homes for traces of this Confederate money. Still, none of it reaches up to the totals that would fill a railroad box car (as is claimed by proponents of this myth).

Fourth, Wilson gave what is perhaps the “kernel of truth” that is used by the speculations, saying, “It is also reported that the small sums in the possession of Davis’ party were pillaged by the captors.” In that sentence, some harbor the notion that indeed Minty’s men got their hands on millions of dollars of gold. But Wilson clearly states “small sums” only. I submit that if he put a dollar figure to that obtained from Toombs, the value from Davis’ party must have been even less. Otherwise, the ever vigilant Wilson would have called it out. Just the change in Jeff Davis’ pocket.

Lastly, Wilson acknowledged instructions to look out for a “colored man James.” Sounds mysterious and possibly leading to a cache of gold, right? Not really. Again, context is important. Wilson is replying here indirectly to an earlier report referenced by Stanton, making rounds separately (see OR, Series I, Volume XLVII, Part 3, Serial 100, page 617). Halleck had, warned to be looking for “a colored servant of Jeff. Davis, named James Jones….” Specifically, this person was purported to be sent back to obtain “two bags of money concealed near the place where Davis was captured.” And that’s why Wilson sent troops back to the Irwinville area. Two bags? Again, a far cry short of a railroad car load. And not something necessitating a grand conspiracy to conceal after the war.

So we have, as of June 3, an official report that indicates the Confederate treasury had ceased to exist. It was scattered about, in small quantities, having been spent or dispersed. Jeff Davis himself didn’t have enough on hand to be called a treasure. If I may, it was “Gone with the Wind.”

We must again go back to the context of the closing months of the Civil War. The most accurate figures we have on the Confederate finances indicate from February 1861 through October 1864 (after which records become spotty), the Confederacy spent around $2.1 billion. Balanced against that was a revenue intake, in the same period, of $2.3 billion. But, as these things are apt to require, the real story is in the numbers behind the numbers. Revenues peaked in 1863, then fell off into 1864. Yet expenditures increased for every monthly period through the war. By the last year of the war, the Confederacy was spending more on debt servicing than it was on its army. From April 1, 1864 to October 1, 1864, $246 million went to the Confederate War Department, compared to $342.5 million on debt servicing. Basically, that sucking sound you’d have heard around Richmond was all the money leaving the Confederacy. What was left in the Confederate treasury in April 1865 wasn’t much… and what was there was being mortgaged to pay for a mountain of debt!

So you see, if we go to the “court of history” and put the “lost Confederate gold” on trial, Wilson’s dispatch becomes an important piece of evidence. The five points I’ve drawn from that dispatch must be assailed by anyone making this particular case for lost gold. Otherwise, claims have no basis in fact.

The problem I have with shows like “The Curse of Lost Civil War Gold” is that it takes on the patina of historical discussion while not actually promoting or presenting historical methods. At best, the show has opened up a discussion featuring relatively overlooked Civil War figures like Minty. Such is a small step in broadening the understanding of the war. But even then, I suspect just as “Killer Angels” launched forth hundreds in search of Buster Kilrain’s grave at Gettysburg, likewise we’ll see those on the trail of Minty’s mint!

The more likely, and more dangerous, reality is that “The Curse of Lost Civil War Gold” represents a corruption of history. Instead of good sound historical method, we have a premise that suggest we dismiss “what historians have long held” to be replaced with suppositions. We are being told to assume broad, vast conspiracies have shaped the past and gone unknown to our understanding of history. It purports that dark, sinister and maniacal forces have hidden history from us. If history is presented as human experience to be learned from, then the experience offered by this quest for lost gold is that we should, without just reason, reject everything solid and factual for fanciful versions of reality. Such is damaging not only to our understanding of history, but also to our comprehension of current events. And that, I submit, is the true nature of any “curse” from this alleged lost Civil War gold.

If you ask me, the most important treasure left at the fall of the Confederacy was secured in 1865. It wasn’t gold or silver. It wasn’t even paper money. It was a collection of records, remanded to the charge of General Samuel Cooper in Charlotte, North Carolina in April 1865. Ten tons of documents and records of the Confederacy. Without which so much more of the history of the Confederacy, and thus the Civil War as a whole, would be speculative. It’s that treasure from which we learn enough to know there is no lost Confederate gold.

Speaking Event: Rufus Barringer CWRT on September 19

I’m back out on the road this fall – that is if no hurricanes blow me off course – to speak to several round tables and groups. The first of these is on September 19 at Southern Pines, North Carolina with the Rufus Barringer Civil War Round Table. Details may be found here:

The September meeting of the Rufus Barringer Civil War Round Table will be on Thursday, Sept. 19, at the Civic Club on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Ashe Street in Southern Pines. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Refreshments and social activities start at 6:30 p.m.
The special guest speaker will be historian Craig Swain, whose presentation is titled, “Into a Marshy No-Man’s Land: Intelligence and Special Operations on the South Carolina and Georgia Coasts, 1862-65.”
Meetings are open to the public. For more information, contact Matt Farina at 910-246-0452 or mafarina@aol.com.

I gave the “Into a Marshy No-Man’s Land” presentation earlier this year in June to the new Fort Sumter Civil War Round Table. So if you couldn’t attend that event, here’s a second opportunity. Stop in and enjoy the good company at Southern Pines!

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – MSM and cavalry-attached artillery

As with previous quarters, below the 2nd Missouri Artillery were some assorted units reporting in Federal service and with artillery on hand:

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In this quarter, we have three categories to consider – the Missouri State Militia (MSM) batteries on active service, MSM cavalry reporting artillery sections, and volunteer cavalry regiments with artillery sections to report. Let us take the first category first, and look at the first two lines of this section of the summary:

  • 1st MSM Battery: Reporting at Sedalia, Missouri, with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers and four 10-pdr Parrotts. As discussed for earlier quarters, instead of Parrotts the battery actually had a like quantity of 2.9-inch English Rifles (Robert F. Mushet’s steel rifles). Captain Charles H. Thurber remained in command. The battery assigned to District of Central Missouri. It officially became Battery L, 2nd Missouri Artillery in January.
  • 2nd MSM Battery: No report, obsolete entry. As discussed in the previous quarter, when the original 1st MSM was inactivated in March 1863, with most of the men going to the 1st MSM Cavalry, Company L. And at that time, the 2nd MSM Battery was re-designated the 1st MSM Battery (above). So by the end of 1863 there was no 2nd Battery to record. (One must really dig into the state Adjutant-General reports to follow these Missouri units.)

The actual batteries on the listing out of the way, the remainder of our discussion takes on a “horse soldier” tone. Important to keep in mind there are two flavors of cavalry under this heading – volunteers and state militia. As the war was very much active inside the borders of Missouri, its militia was called upon to provide active service against Confederate regulars, irregulars, and lawless types of all flavors. And in some cases, those militiamen were given cannon to perform these duties. While a full accounting for the MSM cavalry is beyond scope, I will try to summarize the service of the units reporting artillery. However, for good order, I will discuss those in numerical sequence instead of that used on the summary:

  • 1st MSM Cavalry (Line 55): Reporting at Lexington, Missouri with no cannon on hand. The 1st Regiment served as part of the District of Central Missouri, and Colonel James McFerren commanded. Though the regiment was spread across several garrisons, Companies G and H were at Lexington at the end of December. However, Companies L and M, along with the headquarters element had just relocated from Lexington to Warrensburg. And it is Company L that might raise our attention regarding artillery. Company L is what became of the original 1st MSM Battery when ordered converted to cavalry in March 1863. Regardless of the status, the 1st MSM reported ammunition on hand if not any cannon.
  • 2nd MSM Cavalry (Line 54): At Bloomfield, Missouri with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers. The 2nd, under Colonel John B. Rodgers, pulled duty in southeast Missouri, under the District of St. Louis. The outpost at Bloomfield consisted of Companies A and M of the regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hiram M. Hiller. Captain William Dawson commanded Company A. Captain Samuel Shibley led Company M.
  • Company G, 5th MSM Cavalry (Line 50): Stationed at Houston (Texas County), Missouri with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers. The 5th MSM Cavalry reformed under under Colonel Albert Siegel in February 1863 (though he was mostly away in St. Louis on detail). Assigned to the District of Rolla, they operated in south-central Missouri escorting wagon trains and scouting. Company G, along with Company B, operated out of Houston, the seat of Texas County. Captain Richard Murphy, of Company B, was in overall command. Captain Thomas Thomas led Company G. Lieutenant Adam Hillerick (or Heilerich) had charge of the howitzers.
  • Howitzer Battery, 5th MSM Cavalry (Line 51): At Waynesville, Missouri with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers. The garrison of of that place consisted of Companies A, E, and H, under overall command of Major Waldemar Fischer of the regiment.
  • Company A, 6th MSM Cavalry (Line 49): From Springfield, Missouri with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. Part of the District of Southwester Missouri, Colonel Edwin C. Catherwood commanded the regiment and the garrison of Springfield. Captain George W. Murphy (of Company E, and later promoted to Major) led the regiment with the colonel attending other duties. Captain James Dundin commanded Company A. The regiment captured a cannon from the Confederates on October 6, though the type was not reported. Nor if that weapon is included with the four reported here.

Beyond those units, there are two lines for the Missouri volunteer cavalry regiments:

  • 3rd (or 2nd?) Missouri Cavalry: At Little Rock, Arkansas with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers. While I am willing to entertain the summary reflects a cross assignment of the howitzer section from the 2nd to the 3rd Missouri Cavalry, this is most likely Lovejoy’s Artillery. Lieutenant George F. Lovejoy commanded a section of mountain howitzers in the 2nd Missouri Cavalry (Merrill Horse). Both the 2nd and the 3rd were serving in Second Brigade, First Cavalry Division in Steele’s Army of Arkansas.
  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: At Memphis, Tennessee with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers and two 3.80-inch James rifles. Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick W. Benteen commanded the much traveled 10th Missouri Cavalry. At the end of December 1863, the battery was assigned duty with the Sixteenth Corps, and stationed at Natchez, Mississippi. They were among the forces assigned to the Meridian Expedition in early 1864. And indeed, as the return date indicates, they were in Memphis in September 1864. Lieutenant Peter Joyce received a deserved promotion to captain in September. It is not clear who led the “Banshees,” as the section was called, after Joyce moved up.

There was one other “tier” to the Missouri troops in service at the close of 1863 – the Enrolled Missouri Militia (EMM), first organized in the summer of 1862. These troops were in state service, but could be called upon by the local military commanders. The distinction between MSM and EMM was more than semantics. The MSM was, or at least could, be called up directly into Federal service (though on paper only within the state) and often worked offensively to engage Confederate forces in Missouri. The EMM, on the other hand, was more so a local garrison or guard force in a defensive role. And while the EMM might operate with other forces, there were a lot of string attached. The intent was for the EMM to include all loyal, able-bodied men. Persons who didn’t take an oath, of course, didn’t have to serve… but that meant authorities knew to arrest those persons for being dis-loyal! Because of this, the EMM contained some non-committal southern sympathizers or at least folks who were not enamored of either cause. Due to concerns about the EMM’s reliability, the state formed Provisional Enrolled Missouri Militia (PEMM) in 1863, as “trusted” regiments by selecting truly “loyal” men from the EMM. At the close of 1863, the State Adjutant-General counted 45,893 men in the EMM within over 80 numbered regiments.

None of the EMM (or PEMM) were designated as artillery. However, dispatches and reports from the EMM sometimes mention mountain howitzers or other artillery. Each mention has to be taken by its own context. Some are clearly cases where volunteer or MSM cannons are supporting the EMM. Though others leave open the alternative that some EMM companies had cannon on hand. With all the pre-war proliferation of arms in the state, there were indeed a few cannon laying about. But those all fall outside the purview of the Summary Statement and thus outside of our main discussion. But for sake of complete coverage, I do want to mention their presence, even if outside the order of battle and speculative.

Those details… or trivia… out of the way, we turn to the reported ammunition on hand for these MSM and cavalry-attached artillery formations. The smoothbore rounds are first:

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  • 1st MSM Battery: 37 shells and 42 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • Company A, 6th MSM Cavalry: 4 shot and 53 case for 6-pdr field guns; 17 shells and 83 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Company G, 5th MSM Cavalry: 102 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • Howitzer Battery, 5th MSM Cavalry: 67 shell and 126 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd/3rd Missouri Cavalry: 47 shell and 42 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: 72 shell and 203 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd MSM Cavalry: 35 (or 20? See below) shells and 24 case for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 1st MSM Cavalry: 20 case for 6-pdr field guns.

Of note, the 2nd MSM Cavalry’s entry has a double entry. If you look close under the column for shells:

0341_1S_Snip_MO_MISC

Focusing on that bottom cell, this appears to be a “20” over a “35.” A small difference at this time of the war. But accuracy insists I call out this point of ambiguity.

Turning to the next page:

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  • 1st MSM Battery: 36 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • Company A, 6th MSM Cavalry: 13 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 9 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Company G, 5th MSM Cavalry: 24 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: 112 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd MSM Cavalry: 16 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 1st MSM Cavalry: 99 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

To the right are entries for Hotchkiss projectiles:

  • 1st MSM Battery: 62 shot and 98 time fuse shell for 2.9-inch rifles.
  • 1st MSM Cavalry: 40 shot and 149 time fuse shell for 2.9-inch rifles.

Continuing Hotchkiss columns on the next page:

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  • 1st MSM Battery: 134 percussion fuse shell and 84 canister for 2.9-inch rifles.

To the right are entries for James projectiles:

  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: 40 shot, 120 shell, and 40 canister for 3.80-inch James.

No other projectiles reported from this Missouri mishmash. So we go to the small arms columns:

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  • 1st MSM Battery: Eighteen Colt army revolvers, ten Remington army revolvers, forty-four cavalry sabers, thirty-two horse artillery sabers, and forty-nine foot artillery swords.
  • Company A, 6th MSM Cavalry: Two Burnsides carbines, fifty-four Enfield muskets, three Colt army revolvers, and sixteen cavalry sabers. (Side note here: this regiment reported a lot of Austrian muskets on reports to the State Adjutant-General. So leave a couple of question marks here.)
  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: Sixty-nine Colt army revolvers and fifty cavalry sabers.

Recording artillery cartridge bags and small arms cartridges on the next page:

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  • 1st MSM Battery: 297 cartridges for 10-pdr Parrott and 25 cartridges for mountain howitzers.
  • Company A, 6th MSM Cavalry: 70 cartridges for 6-pdr field guns/12-pdr field howitzers, 1000 .54 caliber ball, and 1000 .577 caliber ball.
  • Company G, 5th MSM Cavalry: 26 12-pdr mountain howitzer cartridges.
  • Howitzer Battery, 5th MSM Cavalry: 50 cartridges for 3-inch rifles…. which likely is a transcription error, quantity intended for the mountain howitzer column.

Lastly, we look at the reported quantities of pistol cartridges, fuses, powder, and primers:

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  • 1st MSM Battery: 305 navy revolver cartridges (or is that supposed to be on the ARMY column?); 181 paper fuses; 5 pounds of musket powder; 289 friction primers.
  • Company G, 5th MSM Cavalry: 60 friction primers.
  • Howitzer Battery, 5th MSM Cavalry: 386 friction primers.
  • 2nd Cavalry MSM: 60 friction primers.

The tallies of munitions and small arms leaves several questions, as I am all but certain there were transcription errors. But it is the administrative details that I find of interest with these MSM and cavalry-attached artillery formations from Missouri. Each has a story worthy of at least an article… and in some cases perhaps book-length treatment.

Raccoon Ford Solar Farm update: Victory along the Rapidan, but follow through needed to complete win

Let me pass along an update on the threat to the Rapidan Fords, mentioned earlier this month.

Cricket Solar, the project aimed at placing a large-scale solar farm in southern Culpeper County, formally withdrew their conditional use permit on August 26. Spokesperson for the project indicated Cricket Solar was taking the action in order to “ensure that any project proposed represents Cricket’s best effort to address community concerns.” Which in essence means the project could not reconcile their plan with valid concerns and objections. A sizable number of those concerns were the impact on historical resources. The irony in the case of this solar farm project is the main “pro” argument in its favor was to create renewable energy alternatives in order to preserve natural resources… yet the cost of developing that renewable energy option was the destruction of natural and historical resources!

Yes, this is a win for preservation. However, I think we need to apply some lessons learned from our study of the Civil War in this situation. A battle is won, to be sure. But that victory is but a fleeting moment in the campaign to reach an objective. How many Civil War generals won significant victories on the field, only to see that victory ring hollow due to delayed pursuit and failure to follow through toward the strategic goals?

The goal here, for me as a preservationist (and I trust you too, reader) is to ensure places like Raccoon Ford are not perpetually under threat of development. We should not need to queue up, year after year, the same discussion about preserving these places – Brandy Station, Cedar Mountain, Morton’s Ford, Hansbrough Ridge, and Raccoon Ford. These places should instead be recognized for the intrinsic value possessed … and thus preserved and entrusted to future generations.

But how to do that?

I submit that preservation efforts are much like those wartime campaigns we study. Each effort must have stages and phases leading ultimately that goal of preservation. And in that light, our next step forward should renewed calls to establish a state park in Culpeper County that covers, at minimum, the Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain battlefields.

Consider – the discussion of the Cricket Solar project brought the area’s Civil War history back to the fore. Specifically, we’ve seen localized discussion about what did happen “in my back yard.” Call it “renewed” interest… or in many cases a “newfound” interest (which is rewarding, for those of us engaged in the discussion). With that rise in interest, there is now a ready made foundation for follow on public discussion. Poll after poll taken indicated the citizenry of the county preferred to preserve these sites, be that motivated by interest in history or concern for the environmental impact. Those sentiments logically lead to renewed efforts for a state park. Then, ultimately, a seed for further preservation of the county’s important historic sites.

No, I’m not advocating for the entire county to be placed “under glass” or some other starry-eyed notion. Rather that attention be paid to those sites deserving preservation. We should, in this age, be able to recognize good stewardship techniques that balance and moderate development while protecting what needs to be preserved. In the case of Culpeper County, the best stewardship technique, in my opinion, takes the form of a state park.

We should follow up our victory this week with decisive action. Now is the time for the American Battlefield Trust and allies to renew the push for a Brandy Station and Cedar Mountain Battlefields state park. It is time to move this campaign forward!

Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – 2nd Missouri Artillery

I hesitate to apply the designation “Light” artillery to the 2nd Missouri Artillery, at least not as it existed at the end of 1863. As chronicled in earlier posts, this regiment had an unconventional organizational history in many regards. Starting in the late summer of 1863, the regiment was reorganized, from the section up, with the aim of forming all into field artillery batteries. However, that process took time. And at the close of 1863, only four batteries were equipped and serving as field artillery. The remainder, if they were indeed reorganized, served as heavy artillery. We’ll look at their story in this “snapshot” view that the summaries provide.

Lieutenant-Colonel Nelson Cole remained in command of the regiment, and would receive promotion to full colonel in February 1864. In December, his second in command was Major Frank Backof. However, Backof was shortly dismissed from service in early 1864 (a story I hope to detail in a follow up post). As the regiment was still reforming, there was little to report in the way of “on hand” cannon and stores. Just the four “reorganized” field batteries mentioned above:

0339_1_Snip_MO_2

But there’s more to the regimental’s December status than those four lines, as we fill in the gaps:

  • Battery A: No report. This battery was the consolidation of the old Batteries C and D and remained at Cape Girardeau, manning Fort B as heavy artillery. The battery was part of the District of St. Louis. Captain John E. Strodtman commanded. Men from Battery C (below) were also under his command. Not until June was the battery reorganized as light artillery.
  • Battery B:  No report. This battery moved from St. Louis in early December and was stationed at Fort No. 4 defending New Madrid, Missouri by the end of the month. Captain John J. Sutter remained in command.  The posting, as heavy artillery, was part of the extended District of St. Louis.
  • Battery C:  No report. The new Battery C was formed from the old batteries H and I.  Captain Frederick W. Fuchs, formerly Company I, commanded the new battery.  This new battery was stationed at Cape Girardeau, consolidated with Battery A at the time, as heavy artillery.  The battery waited until May to reorganize as light artillery.
  • Battery D: Reporting from DeValls Bluff, Arkansas with two 12-pdr field howitzers and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. The battery reorganized in September at St. Louis with the consolidation of old Batteries A, F, G, K, and M. Most of the first three batteries had mustered out in St. Louis. What remained was a large “section” reformed at that place. The “old” batteries K and M were at Little Rock and consolidated into the “new” Battery D.  The battery was assigned to 1st Cavalry Division, Army of Arkansas. Those sections from the old Batteries K and M served at DeValls Bluff, protecting the railroad line to Little Rock. Captain Charles Schareff commanded.  The St. Louis section, under Lieutenant Frederick W. von Bodengen served detached with the 1st Nebraska Cavalry. Bodengen’s section left St. Louis on December 3, moving through Rolla, West Plains, and finally to Bateville, Arkansas on the 25th.
  • Battery E: Reporting at Little Rock, Arkansas with six 3.67-inch bronze rifles.  Reorganized from parts of old Batteries E, L, and M, under Captain Gustave Stange (old Battery M) during the fall.  The battery served in 1st Cavalry Division, Department of Arkansas. 
  • Battery F: At Woodville, Alabama with four 12-pdr field howitzers.  Captain Clemens Landgraeber’s First Missouri Flying Artillery transferred into the regiment during the reorganization.  The battery supported First Division, Fifteenth Corps. In October, the battery supported their division during operations on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad (part of the relief of Chattanooga). In November, they participated in fighting around Lookout Mountain and the advance on the Federal right onto Missionary Ridge. After the relief of Knoxville, the battery moved with its parent formation into winter quarters.
  • Battery G: At St. Louis with one 3.67-inch bronze rifle.  The battery reformed on November 15 and stationed at Fort No. 3, in St. Louis, Captain William T. Arthur commanded.
  • Battery H: No return. A new Battery H formed out of men (new and old enlistments) at Springfield, Missouri on December 4, 1863, under command of Captain William C. Montgomery (formerly of the Missouri State Cavalry). The battery was initially part of a heavy artillery battalion formed at Springfield.
  • Battery I: No return. The new Battery I began reforming on December 28 at Springfield.  Captain Stephen H. Julian commanded.  Initially, the battery was designated heavy artillery.
  • Battery K: No return. A new Battery K was formed in January at Springfield, Missouri with Captain William P. Davis in command. The battery was also organized initially as heavy artillery.
  • Battery L: No return.  A new Battery L formed at Sedalia, Missouri in January 1864 and was formerly the 1st Battery, Missouri State Militia.  So we will see them accounted for under the “miscellaneous” portion of Missouri’s returns in this quarter. Captain Charles H. Thurber commanded.
  • Battery M: No return. The new Battery M organized at Fort No. 2, St. Louis, on February 15, 1864, and thus escapes our summary for this quarter.  Captain Napoleon Boardman would command this battery.

Of note, the battalion of heavy artillery, consisting of Batteries H, I, and K, came under the command of Major John W. Rabb, formerly of the 2nd Indiana Battery. This arrangement remained until the spring of 1864 when the batteries were reorganized (again) as light batteries.

Turning to back to the summary, we have ammunition to account for, starting with smoothbore rounds:

0341_1_Snip_MO_2
  • Battery D: 113 shell and 77 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery F: 288 shell and 197 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.

The smoothbore columns continue on the next page:

0341_2_Snip_MO_2
  • Battery D: 43 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery F: 84 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.

For the Hotchkiss columns to the right, two entries:

  • Battery D: 61 time fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery E: 240 time fuse shell for 3.67-inch rifles.

More Hotchkiss on the next page:

0342_1_Snip_MO_2
  • Battery D: 115 percussion fuse shell, 102 bullet shell, and 80 canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery E: 120 percussion fuse shell, 720 bullet shell, and 120 canister for 3.67-inch rifles.

No other projectiles reported by the 2nd Missouri batteries in this quarter, so we turn to the small arms:

0343_2_Snip_MO_2
  • Battery D: Fourteen Colt army revolvers, eight Colt navy revolvers, twelve Remington army revolvers, and twelve horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery E: Twelve Colt navy revolvers, thirty-five Remington navy revolvers, thirteen cavalry sabers, and twenty-nine horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Eighteen Colt navy revolvers and seventy-two cavalry sabers.
  • Battery G: Two Springfield .58-caliber muskets, thirteen Colt army revolvers, and thirteen horse artillery sabers.

From there, we turn to the columns for pistol ammunition, fuses, powder, and primers:

0345_1_Snip_MO_2
  • Battery D: 1,000 army caliber and 1,000 navy caliber pistol cartridges; and 1,000 friction primers.
  • Battery E: 1,400 navy caliber pistol cartridges.
  • Battery F: 1,200 navy caliber pistol cartridges.
  • Battery G: 1,000 navy caliber pistol cartridges (perhaps a transcription error?).

While the 2nd Missouri was not engaged in many pitched battles or heavy combat, its stories from outside the battlefield continue to fascinate me. They certainly kept the clerks busy.

Next we’ll look at the Missouri State Militia batteries that were in service along with some of the artillery sections serving with the state’s cavalry.