Category Archives: American Civil War

A correction/clarification in regard to General Alfred Terry’s Command and the Tenth Corps

At several points when discussing the movements in North Carolina in March 1865, I have referenced General Alfred Terry’s command as “The Tenth Corps.”  Not so.  Terry’s command was not officially the Tenth Corps until later in the campaign.  I made a mistake when composing one of the first posts to mention that formation, forgetting to mention the lineage of the command.  Then continued to repeat the mistake for the “shorthand” reference of Terry’s command.  The two divisions that moved up the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad in mid-March 1865 were:

  • Second Division, Twenty-Fourth Army Corps, under Major-General Adelbert Ames.
  • Third Division, Twenty-Fifth Army Corps, under Major-General Charles Paine.

Up until April 2, Terry’s command was a provisional corps.  On April 2, Terry’s command was re-flagged the Tenth Corps, with those two divisions designated, respectively, Second and Third Divisions.

Confusing?   Let me double down on the confusion….

Tenth Corps was originally the field formation of the Department of the South. Major-General Quincy Gillmore brought it north in the winter/spring of 1864 to join the Army of the James.  As part of that formation, the corps participated in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign and later the Petersburg Campaign.  When Gillmore was relieved, Terry took command of the corps (with a few leaves of absence through the fall of 1864 allowing Generals William T.H. Brooks, David Birney, and Adelbert Ames to log time as temporary commanders).

On December 3, 1864, General Orders No. 297 from the War Department disbanded the Tenth along with the Eighteenth Corps.  While the First and Second Divisions, Tenth Corps went to the Twenty-Fourth Corps largely unchanged, the Third Division was for all purposes broken up and sent to Second and Third Divisions, Twenty-Fifth Corps.   The Twenty-Fifth Corps, as USCT fans will recall, was constituted for the Colored Troops in Virginia and North Carolina.  Tracking thus far?  Hold on then.

Portions of the Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Corps were assigned to Major-General Benjamin Butler’s Wilmington expedition in December 1864.  Terry held command of the Twenty-Fourth, and later, with Butler’s removal, assumed command of a Provisional Corps constituted of the troops operating against Wilmington.  That Provisional Corps included elements of both the Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Corps… each of which still had divisions in Virginia!

Headache yet?  Well Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant had one.  These split corps were taxing on the staff process.  Imagine having to issue orders to a corps headquarters where divisions were dispersed in separate theaters.   On March 25, Grant wrote to Stanton noting the various units formed under Major-General John Schofield in North Carolina.  The Twenty-Third Corps, which Schofield brought east from Tennessee that winter, was already organized. General Jacob Cox was the selection to replace Schofield, who was moving up to Center Wing Commander, or Army of the Ohio as you might prefer.   However, Terry’s provisional command was a mix and match by that point.  Grant suggested that “Terry’s corps be called the Tenth.”

There was some consideration of moving First Division, Twenty-Fourth Corps to North Carolina, which would have begged another question about numbering corps.  But in the end, Grant’s simple suggestion to re-flag the corps won out.

Still confused?  Well, the explanation above just covers the “top tier” changes with divisions and corps.  The story below that level to the brigades and regiments is even more so.  That’s why in the margin of my notes there is an annotation, “Just call them the Tenth.”  I am glad the War Department kept track of all this… bureaucracy!

Having introduced the “New Tenth Corps,” let me briefly discuss the order of battle:

First Division of the Tenth Corps was commanded by Major-General Henry Birge and was largely used for garrisoning.  First Brigade remained at Morehead City and Second Brigade at Wilmington.  Only after March did Third Brigade, First Division move up to join the forces in the field.  And, to really illustrate mix-match arrangement below the division level, Third Brigade, First Division, Tenth Corps was originally Third Brigade, Second Division, Nineteenth Corps.  Colonel Nicholas Day commanded the brigade, constituted of the 24th Iowa, 38th Massachusetts, and 128th, 156th, 175th, and 176th New York Infantry.  The brigade also had 22nd Battery, Indian Light Artillery assigned.

Second Division, again commanded by Ames, had this order of battle:

  • First Brigade, Colonel Rufus Daggett.  3rd, 112th, 117th, and 142nd New York Infantry.
  • Second Brigade, Colonel William B. Coan (after April 5, Colonel John Littell).  47th and 48th New York; 76th, 97th, and 203rd Pennsylvania.
  • Third Brigade, Colonel Frederick Granger.  13th Indiana, 9th Maine, 4th New Hampshire, and 115th and 169th New York.
  • 16th Battery, New York Light Artillery.

Third Division, commanded by Paine also had three brigades:

  • First Brigade, Brigadier-General Delevan Bates.  1st, 30th, and 107th USCT.
  • Second Brigade, Brigadier-General Samuel Duncan. 4th, 5th, and 39th USCT.
  • Third Brigade, Colonel John Hollman (after April 22, Brigadier-General Albert Blackman).  6th, 27th, and 37th USCT.
  • Battery E, 3rd US Artillery.

Yes, the Third Division, Tenth Corps contained all-USCT infantry brigades, indicating it’s origins with the Twenty-Fifth Corps.

At the end of March 1865, Terry’s Provisional Corps included the 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry.  That command went to Major-General H. Judson Kilpatrick’s command, specifically the Third Brigade of that division, on April 4.  That left Terry, as of April 10, a force of just over 11,600 infantry and 375 artillery troops (within three batteries).

Provisional Corps, with divisions from the Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Corps?  Or just Tenth Corps?  Or “Terry’s Command”?  Forgive me for an error of simplification in my earlier postings.

Meerkat: “Wish we’d had this earlier for the 150ths” or “too much noise”?

You may have seen the buzz of late concerning a new app called Meerkat.  The rather lightweight app, running on an iOS device (I don’t think there is a version out for Andriod or other platforms yet), which allows the user to stream video straight through Twitter.  Right off the bat, I think you can see there would be some “good” and “bad” aspects of that capability.  If none come to mind, you might browse through the numerous live streams that were posted on Twitter. Some OK stuff there.  Some “who cares” stuff. In general, much like anything on the internet, the first go around the noise to signal ratio is skewed to the former.

I’ve tested the app earlier this week for my non-Civil War private account.  Then earlier today I posted a short video stream of the latest Civil War Trails marker posted in Loudoun County.

One limitation is quickly in play… unless you clicked on the link when I was “Live Now” then you didn’t see it… thankfully as the video was poorly framed.  Meerkat has already posted some “rules” which govern actions on the app, but not so much behavior.  Included in those is the limitation – no reruns.  So you can’t go back and see what I shared earlier.   Though I can re-post or schedule that at a later point for you to view… provided you have “subscribed” and accept the notification to view.  As you see, that can be troublesome.  Who is sitting on their smart device waiting for a video feed to open?

However, I can see some application of this app in my near future.  So much of the 150th events have been “in the moment” and “you had to be there” experiences.  I’ve  tried to capture those from the “field” on Twitter where possible.  But there’s only so much you can do with text and a picture.  Maybe, by working a bit more on the camera techniques, I might stream some of the last few Sesquicentennial events.

We’ll see how that works… or doesn’t.  Might add a new facet to live blogging these sort of events.  Then again, might not be worth the hassle.

 

March 25, 1865: General Robert Anderson heading back to Fort Sumter to raise the flag

On March 25, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was visiting the lines at Petersburg and the Confederates were making quite a show around Fort Stedman.  But, in spite of the push made by the Army of Northern Virginia, dispatches on the Federal side seemed routine.  Among the routine traffic passed from Washington to City Point that day was this message from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton:

I have invited Henry Ward Beecher to deliver an address on raising the flag upon Fort Sumter, and will give direction to General Gillmore to make all suitable military arrangements for the occasion and fire a salute of 500 guns. The flag will be raised by General Anderson. Please let me know if these arrangements have your approval.  What does General Grant say about Yeatman?  I congratulate you and General Grant on the operations of t0-day.

As I’ve pulled this note out of context, let me walk it backwards into context.  The last line references the successful defense against the Confederate attack launched earlier in the day.  But standing in stark contrast to the desperate fighting on the lines, Stanton was planning a grand ceremony for Fort Sumter.

James Yeatman was a St. Louis businessman, president of the Western Sanitary Commission, and very much active politically.  Yeatman was under consideration to head the commission organizing the ceremony.  But more back-and-forth over that selection would follow.

Though weeks away, Stanton already selected particular details to serve a symbolic purpose – Beecher to speak, Major-General Robert Anderson to raise the US flag, and a 500 gun salute.  Not specifically mentioned in the message to Lincoln, but the plan called for the ceremony to occur on April 14, 1865 – on the anniversary of the fort’s surrender in 1861.  Further details went into General Orders No. 50, issued on March 27 from the War Department:

First. That at the hour of noon on the 14th day of April, 1865, Brevet Major-General Anderson will raise and plant upon the ruins of Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, the same U.S. flag which floated over the battlements of that fort during the rebel assault, and which was lowered and saluted by him and the small force of his command when the works were evacuated on the 14th day of April, 1861.

Second. That the flag, when raised, be saluted by 100 guns from Fort Sumter, and by a national salute from every fort and rebel battery that fired on Fort Sumter.

Third. That suitable ceremonies be held upon the occasion, under the direction of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, whose military operations compelled the rebels to evacuate Charleston, or, in his absence, under the charge of Maj. Gen. Q.A. Gillmore, commanding the department.  Among the ceremonies will be the delivery of a public address by the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher.

Forth. That the naval forces at Charleston, and their commander on that station, be invited to participate in the ceremonies of the occasion.

Recall that before evacuating the fort in 1861, Anderson received permission to fire a 100 gun salute from the fort’s batteries.  That 1861 salute ended with fifty shots when an accidental explosion mortally wounded two privates.  Embrace the intended symbolism at many different levels in regard to that salute.

The ceremony at Fort Sumter was intended to cement in the public mind the victory – complete or pending – over the Confederacy.  Reporters, sketch artists, and photographers were invited to cover the event.  April 14 was the date that, regardless of what was going on at the front lines, the people of America would be told the Federal Union has won this Civil War… even as the messy details were being worked out.  To tread upon a modern analogy at my own peril, this was intended to be a “Mission Accomplished” banner:

However, fate often plays tricks with the plans laid by man.  Events on April 15 would leave this ceremony somewhat a footnote to history.

Closing note here.  Fort Sumter National Monument has a number of events scheduled through April to observe the end of the war in Charleston.  If you are, like me, trying to catch every last minute of the sesquicentennial’s last hours, these are worth adding to the calendar.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part III, Serial 100, pages 18 and 34.)