Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Miscellaneous Missouri artillery units

Having looked at the second quarter, 1863 summaries for the First Regiment and Second Regiment (first formation) Missouri Artillery, we can now turn to eight entries carried at the bottom of the state’s listings:

0193_1_Snip_MO_Misc

Eight lines.  Double the number from the previous quarter.  There is some carry-over from the previous quarter, but each line deserves close scrutiny:

  • 1st Battery Missouri State Militia (M.S.M.) Artillery: Matches up from the previous quarter.  Reporting at Sedalia, Missouri with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers and four 10-pdr Parrotts. This was Captain Charles H. Thurber’s battery.  The return was posted to Washington in September 1863.  So we might think this reasonably accurate.  Think again.  Indeed most of the battery was at Sedalia, in the District of Central Missouri, at this time of the war.  But a muster roll from that same time indicates, a section of two 2.9″ English Rifled Guns, 21 men, and 24 horses under Lieutenant Albert Wachsman was on escort duty with the 4th M.S.M. Cavalry.  The guns mentioned were undoubtedly imported from Liverpool, England, manufactured by Fawcett, Preston & Company, with some affiliation to the Blakely rifles of note (Very likely a CORRECTION here, see comments below).  The caliber was, of course, the same as the 10-pdr Parrott.  So perhaps a clerk somewhere along the way made a decision to tally under that column.  Call it clerical expediency?
  • Lovejoy’s (?) Battery, Mountain Howitzer: Listed at Brownsville, Arkansas with four 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  The location is almost certainly reflecting the August 1864 reporting date.  If my read of the name is correct, this is a battery in the 2nd Missouri Cavalry (Merrill’s Horse) commanded by Lieutenant George F. Lovejoy.  And, if so, the regiment, along with its battery, was posted in central Missouri.  The 2nd Cavalry was in the 1st Brigade, First Cavalry Division, Department of Missouri.
  • Howitzer Battery Attached to 5th Cavalry M.S.M.: This unit reported from Waynesville, Missouri, but with no cannon indicated.  Three companies from that regiment were at Waynesville under Major Waldemar Fischer. A listing of equipment reported included: four thumbstalls, two tube pouches, two vent covers, two vent punches, two whips, two tar buckets, two leather buckets, two gimlets, one guners’ pincers, four sets of mountain howitzers harnesses, four lanyards, two priming wires, and 250 friction primers.  We might say that’s the left-overs from a couple of mountain howitzers.  Maybe?
  • 2nd Cavalry M.S.M. :  At Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  The 2nd Cavalry M.S.M. was assigned to the District of Southeast Missouri at this time of the war, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hiram M. Hiller.  Dyer’s mentions McClanahan’s Battery associated with this regiment, but I have no other particulars.
  • Company G?, 6th Cavalry:  Reporting at Vicksburg, the 6th Missouri Cavalry was assigned to Thirteenth Corps at the time.  Colonel Clark Wright commanded.  During the campaign, the 6th was initially assigned to the corps headquarters.  Later they were assigned to the Ninth Division of the corps (remember, at that time the Western armies gave unique numbers to each division).  When given verbal orders to report to Brigadier-General Peter Osterhaus, commanding that division, on May 25, Wright refused, asking for written orders.  Reason I bring that up, in addition to demanding written orders, Wright also asked for two 12-pdr howitzers. (See OR, Series I, Volume XXIV, Part III, Serial 38, page 347.) Such implies Wright had found use for light artillery with his troopers, perhaps based on experiences. At any rate, the 6th Cavalry would, for the second quarter running, report ammunition on hand… for 12-pdr mountain howitzers… which we will count below.
  • Company A, 10th Cavalry: Reporting at Memphis, Tennessee, with four 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  The 10th Missouri Cavalry was assigned to the Sixteenth Division, specifically the District of Corinth, and commanded by Colonel Florence M. Cornyn.  Lieutenant Peter Joyce of Company A had charge of two sections of mountain howitzers.  State records cite this as Joyce’s Battery.  The battery received praise for work on July 7 in action near Iuka, Mississippi.
  • 18th Missouri Volunteers: The location is difficult to read, but indicating a Tennessee address.  The regiment reported two 6-pdr field guns. Colonel Madison Miller commanded this regiment, which at the time was part of the District of Corinth, Sixteenth Corps.
  • 6th Co., 1st Missouri Engineers:  Reporting no guns, but stores, and at Pocahontas, Tennessee.  And yet another interesting story.  During the Vicksburg Campaign a battalion of the engineers were sent to Pocahontas on orders to gather timber and other supplies.  While there, the engineers found themselves heavily involved with suppressing irregulars and other sorts.  From the regimental history, page 97:

The train used by the Regiment for bringing timbers and other materials required, was fitted out with a guard of boiler iron for the Engineer on the locomotive, and a flat car was fitted up with a timber guard faced on the outside with boiler iron, and carrying a ten pounder Parrott gun with a train guard of fifteen men, they called this bullet-proof car their gunboat.

So maybe the engineers are reporting the stores on hand for that Parrott gun?  Well, I’m going to dispute the identification of the gun based on the ammunition reported, below.

One glaring omission from the list above, and the two regimental listings, is Landgraeber’s Battery.  Originally organized in October 1861 as the First Missouri Flying Battery, or sometimes the First Missouri Horse Artillery, or Pfenninghausen’s Battery (after the battery’s first commander), in June 1863, this battery was assigned to First Division, Fifteenth Corps.  Captain Clemens Landgraeber commanded. The battery had four 12-pdr howitzers (some indications mountain, others field) on hand.  After September 1863, the battery would receive the official designation of Battery F, 2nd Missouri Light Artillery.  And that is actually how the battery appears on the consolidated returns from the Official Records in June.  However, I would contend the designation was retroactively applied.  The “first” Battery F was at that time in Missouri, counting down the days to mustering out, but with no report entered for the summary.  Either way around, we have two units which can be called Battery F, but no data from either of them.

Another battery missing from Missouri’s lists is Walling’s Battery.  But they appear elsewhere in the summaries under the Mississippi Marine Brigade.

With those administrative details aired out… or at least the questions laid on the table… we can move to account for the ammunition.  With a lot of mountain howitzers, the smoothbore page is busy:

0195_1_Snip_MO_Misc

By battery:

  • 1st Battery M.S.M.: 36 shell, 50 case, and 40 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • Lovejoy’s Battery: 64 shell, 372 case, and 116 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd Cavalry M.S.M.: 20 case and 24 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 6th Missouri Cavalry: 64 shell and 40 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: 30 shell, 160 case, and 30 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 18th Missouri Infantry: 217 shot, 179 case, and 123 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

So we have an indication that the 6th Missouri Cavalry had mountain howitzers at one time.

Moving over to the rifled projectiles, none of these units reported Hotchkiss projectiles on hand.  But moving to the next page, there are some points to discuss:

0196_1_Snip_MO_Misc

Two batteries reporting quantities:

  • 1st Battery M.S.M.:  245 Parrott shell and 80 Parrott canister in 2.9-inch caliber; 100 Schenkl shot in 2.9-inch caliber.
  • 1st Missouri Engineers: 26 James shells, 3.80-inch caliber.

If we work from the premise that Washman’s section used 2.9-inch English rifles, then we have to question the identification of Parrott projectiles here.  When those rifles were purchased, a quantity of projectiles were included.  So might those be Britten rifled projectiles, 2.9-inch, instead of Parrott?  I can make a case the clerks simply transcribed these as Parrott projectiles, lacking an open column header.

As for the 1st Missouri Engineers, let’s also consider the next page:

0196_2_Snip_MO_Misc

  • 1st Missouri Engineers: 72 Schenkl shells, 3.80-inch caliber; 20 Tatham’s canister, 3.80-inch caliber.

The 1st Missouri Engineers didn’t report any cannon, but we have a citation from the regimental history mentioning a Parrott rifle.  However, the detachment reported having James caliber projectiles on hand.  I’d lean towards this unit having a James rifle on the armored flat car (if indeed that is what we are looking at here), and the regimental history incorrectly identifying the gun.

To close out this section and all of Missouri for the second quarter, we have the small arms:

0196_3_Snip_MO_Misc

Looking down the list, we see a scatter of entries:

  • 1st Battery M.S.M.: Thirty Navy revolvers, twenty-eight cavalry sabers, twenty horse artillery sabers, and forty-nine (?) foot artillery sabers.
  • 10th Missouri Cavalry: Sixty-nine cavalry sabers.
  • 18th Missouri Infantry: Three Army revolvers.
  • 1st Missouri Engineers: Twenty-six breechloading carbines and three rifles (type not specific).

My presumption is the “train guard” from the 1st Missouri Engineers carried those long arms while doing their escort work.  As to why those appear on the artillery’s ordnance return as opposed to one for infantry weapons, I think this goes back to who was filing the paperwork.  If you are the ordnance officer for a detachment of engineers working in Tennessee, would you submit two separate reports?  Or just consolidate it all onto one report, regardless if artillery or small arms?  All that paperwork was going to Washington anyway.

Advertisements

Sherman’s March, March 11, 1865: The Federals drive into Fayetteville

After spending weeks spread out across the Carolina countryside, on March 11, 1865, Sherman’s columns converged on Fayetteville, North Carolina.  In military terms, particularly in regard to logistics and control measures, the movement into Fayetteville was much like the descent upon Savannah.  Let me expand upon that in my “closing statement” after explaining the movements of the day.

NCMarch_Mar11

The “point” formations on March 11 were the Fourteenth and Seventeenth Corps.  As cited yesterday, Sherman wanted the Fourteenth Corps to capture Fayetteville with support from the Seventeenth Corps.  Perhaps, Sherman did this to give the Fourteenth the honors for the day (as they were all too often the last on the march).  However, the move made military sense.  The Confederates were largely to the north and east of Fayetteville.  By advancing Fourteenth from the west on the Plank Road, Sherman was sealing off the objective.  So, that was the plan, but not how it worked out when applied.

On point for the Fourteenth’s advance that day was Major-General Absalom Baird’s Third Division.  And Baird’s account was to the point:

Moving at 6 a.m…. 11th, struck the rebel pickets at Beaver Creek, six miles from Fayetteville; drove them from their barricades, pushed on and entered the city at 9 a.m., recapturing and placing guards over the old U.S. Arsenal, basely surrendered by the traitor, Samuel S. Anderson, at the beginning of the rebellion.  It contained a number of cannon and small-arms, together with valuable machinery for their manufacture.

Only slight resistance in front of Baird that morning.  As for Samuel Anderson, Baird was writing this report on March 24, from the field and definitely not working from references.  Interesting that even the minor details pertaining to secession remained in the minds of men like Baird.

Despite Sherman’s intent, it was the Seventeenth Corps which first broke into Fayetteville.  To “hedge” a bit, Major-General Oliver O. Howard organized a flying column to rush into town.  Once again, Howard turned to his able staff officer, Captain William Duncan:

Early the next morning, March 11, I directed him to take all the available mounted men at my headquarters and scout toward Fayetteville. He encountered the enemy’s pickets just outside of the town, which he drove before him easily, but on entering the town he met a large force of the enemy’s cavlary.  The scouts were driven back, and Captain Duncan was captured.  He afterward escaped, and reports that he was stripped of everything valuable and in the presence of Hampton and Butler.

Duncan’s initial success, with a force cobbled together for the task, is another indicator of the poor Confederate dispositions.  The rear guard was porous at best.  And the Confederate cavalry, which had arrived late the day before, was not disposed to confront these Federal advances.  Reports and later accounts point to some confusion as to which command assumed the rear guard in Fayetteville.  Lieutenant-General Wade Hampton himself was nearly captured (which would have been an interesting turn considering the near capture of Major-General H. Judson Kilpatrick the day before).

Behind Duncan’s rush, Major-General Giles Smith advanced the Fourth Division, with a mounted force of foragers leading the way.  At Little Rockfish Creek, the main body of the division paused while the bridge was repaired.  But the foragers pressed on to gain possession of Arsenal Hill.  The mounted men from Fourth Division were unable, however, to secure the bridge before the retreating Confederates set fire to the wooden structure.  Shortly afterward, the infantry arrived to secure the rest of the city.  The mayor of Fayetteville surrendered the city to Lieutenant-Colonel W.E. Strong of Howard’s staff.

In his report, Howard mentioned Confederate artillery firing into the city in an attempt to delay the Federal advance, “the shot passing through the houses of Fayetteville.”  And he also incriminated Hampton directly in regard to a violation of wartime convention:

We found several of our men lying dead in the streets.  Captain Duncan reports to me that one of the men was badly wounded and endeavoring to walk away without arms, when the “chivalrous” Lieutenant-General Hampton rode after him and hacked him down with his own saber, thus adding another to his boasted victims.

For what it was worth, Hampton’s post-war account differed greatly.  Personally, I’m inclined to criticize Hampton for the lax security of Fayetteville that morning.  Duncan later mentioned a heated discussion between Hampton and Lieutenant-General William Hardee.  One has to wonder if the two Confederate chiefs were assessing (arguing?) the failure of the picket line, which under normal circumstances would have been Hampton’s charge.  But again, there is no direct indication that Hampton had been given that responsibility.

The other Federal formations, the Fifteenth Corps, Twentieth Corps, and Cavalry Division, all converged on Fayetteville that afternoon.  The Fifteenth Corps remained badly strung out along the roads, with much of the trains remaining west of Rockfish Creek.  The rear of Twentieth Corps, Major-General John Geary’s division, went into camp that evening some thirteen miles outside Fayetteville, after an “unusually laborious” march.  The Cavalry followed the Fourteenth Corps, with a somewhat leisurely pace. (And let me mention the last installment of Eric’s series on Monroe’s Crossroads is up.)

The ease at which the Federals gained Fayetteville is often contrasted with the failure to take the bridge over the Cape Fear River.  There is no doubt the Federals wanted – would have preferred – to have that bridge intact.  But the destruction of the bridge was not a major setback.  The Right Wing’s pontoon train was held up on the 11th supporting Fifteenth Corps movements.  They camped that night one mile outside Fayetteville.  But by 7 p.m. the next day, the 1st Missouri Engineers had a seventeen-boat bridge across the Cape Fear River. Making better time, the Left Wing’s pontoon train had a 400 foot span over the river by 2 p.m., laid just below the original bridge.  Thus the destruction of the bridge delayed Sherman by a day at most.  Sherman chose to delay his march at Fayetteville for reasons other than the bridges.

That’s where I circle back to the comparison of Savannah and Fayetteville.  Much like the end of the March to the Sea in December 1864, Sherman arrived outside Fayetteville with the need to replenish supplies and refit the army.  After five weeks marching through the Carolinas, the army was running short on items it could not acquire from foraging – bullets, shoes, uniforms, weapons, repair parts, and other “military” supplies.  Just the same as outside Savannah the previous December.  And recall that Sherman and subordinates expressed much anxiety over the opening of a supply line at Savannah.  This prompted the attack on Fort McAllister – somewhat “rushed” we might say.

At Fayetteville, the Confederates didn’t offer significant resistance to Sherman’s advance.  Instead, Hampton and Hardee never planned to put up a delay, much less a fight.  We might debate IF the Confederates could have put up a fight (and I’d lean towards the “not really” side). But we also have to consider Sherman’s dispositions – two corps up and two corps stuck in the mud.  Sherman was being deliberate in the approach to Fayetteville.  A deliberate opposition to that approach might have better served Confederate interests.

Call it my “revisionist” moment for the day, but I don’t think we can say the burnt bridge at Fayetteville caused any additional delays for Sherman’s march.  Sherman planned to loiter at Fayetteville for a few days regardless of the condition of bridges over the Cape Fear River.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, pages 203-4, 551.)

Sherman’s March, March 5, 1865: It “rained…shells very promiscuously” in Cheraw; Federals turned back at Florence

On March 5, 1865, Major-General William T. Sherman gave marching instructions for his wing commanders for movements beyond the PeeDee River to the next major objective – Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Writing from Cheraw, Sherman outlined the scheme of maneuver to Major-General Henry Slocum of the Left Wing:

Let General [Jefferson C.] Davis lead into Fayetteville, holding the Twentieth in support with the cavalry on his left rear.  I will hold General Howard back, but close enough to come up if Joe Johnston wants to fight.  I will now fight him if he dares, and therefore wish to act on that idea, keeping each corps ready to hold the enemy if he appears in force on your left, but his strength must be developed before other corps are called from their roads.

Orders to Major-General Oliver O. Howard, with the Right Wing, sent the previous day, were similar, except the two commanders agreed to implement slow marches instead of halting at any one particular place (to allow for easier foraging in the sparse pine barrens).  Sherman described the scheme of maneuver as such “that the columns may assume an echelon towards the north.”  This arrangement, leading with the left while holding the right back for the punch, was the framework for a grand movement to contact.  But the disadvantage to the order of march was one corps would always be exposed to the possibility of being isolated and destroyed.

SCMarch_Mar5

Movements on March 5, 1865 were not great marches, but rather constrained by the need to get across the PeeDee in good order.  On the Left Wing, Major-General Jefferson C. Davis expended more curse words and condemnations towards the pontoon train’s leadership.  Work constructing a bridge at Haile’s (or Pegues’) Ferry progressed.  But lack of boats forced the engineers to improvise.  Wagons, wrapped in canvas, became makeshift pontoons.  The Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps remained in camp.

The Right Wing expanded the bridgehead across the PeeDee on the 5th. The remainder of the Seventeenth Corps crossed and moved to the right.  Most of the Fifteenth Corps, save a rear guard in Cheraw, crossed.  The “big” event in Cheraw, however, was not the crossing, but rather a large explosion.  The Confederates had left Cheraw in such haste that large quantities of munitions (much of it from Charleston, originally) were left behind.  With orders to destroy what could not be used or carried, Federal details began stacking powder kegs and other ordnance in a ravine.  The hope was exposure to water in the creek there would render the powder inert.  This proved a tragic decision, as recorded by the 1st Missouri Engineers:

In camp at Cheraw, waiting the passage of the troops across the Great Peedee River.  Details were employed fitting artillery wagon wheels to the boat wagons.  A great many of these wheels were found here, left by the enemy, as well as a large amount of ordnance stores, powder, shells, etc. This was all dumpted in a ravine through which a creek flowed. The ravine was filled and piled up ten or twelve feet deep until even with the banks – thirty-six thousand pounds of it.  There was not water enough in the creek to dampen all the mass of powder and shells, and our infantry soldiers were amusing themselves with taking the dry powder some two hundred yards to their cook fire and exploding it, carrying it in their hands.  The ravine was visited so often and the powder carried so loosely that after a time a train was formed reaching back to the ravine, and as a pile was exploded the fire ran back in the trail to the mass and it all went off with a terrible noise, and it rained around there for a half-mile shells and pieces of shells very promiscuously for a minute or so.

Though the explosion had enough force to damage houses all around Cheraw, only a handful of men were killed.  Still, this was a sad repetition of events seen at Charleston and Columbia.  Loose powder and fire never mix well.

Further south, Colonel Reuben Williams had his detail up early on the morning of the 5th on their way to Darlington and eventually Florence.

SCMarch_Mar5Williams

Between Dove’s Station and Darlington, the mounted infantry burned several trestle bridges.  On arrival in Darlington, the Federals destroyed the depot, 250 bales of cotton, and a printing office.  Proceeding south out of Darlington, scouts reported a train heading north from Florence.  Williams took up dispositions to ambush the train.

The Twenty-ninth Missouri being in the advance immediately deployed on the side of the track for the purpose of capturing it as soon as it came up. The engineer, however, must have discovered us, as the train was turned back to Florence.

Opportunity missed, Williams pressed forward on the appointed task, burning trestles along the way to Florence.  Two miles outside of their destination, the Federals met skirmishers.

I immediately formed the command in line, with a proper reserve, and ordered a charge, which was made in good style, some of the men gaining the depot building, but were unable either to hold or fire it. About this time the enemy re-enforced his left with infantry and drove back our right in some disorder. I had in the meantime thrown the Seventh Illinois on the left of the line to prevent a flank movement which I discovered was being made by the enemy. I here received notice from an officer who was on picket on the railroad to my rear that a train was coming from the direction of Kingsville, and a few minutes later I was informed that a party of about 400 men, with artillery, were getting off the train. Finding that I was outflanked and outnumbered by the enemy, and with a force of 400 moving in my rear, I concluded to withdraw the command and at once proceeded to do so. I fell back in good order, leaving the Ninth Illinois to cover the rear and proceeded in the direction of Darlington.

The Confederate commander of the forces defending Florence was Brigadier-General Beverly Robertson.  This was part of a brigade, which at the first of the month had been facing the Federals in the John’s Island sector.  Withdrawn north with the rest of the Charleston garrison, Robertson’s men were cut off from the main body when the Federals occupied Cheraw.  With the reinforcements, the defenders likely numbered around 1,400, and included a battery (Williams said ten pieces) of artillery and a cavalry detachment.  Recall that Williams’ force numbered only 546 men.

Robertson pressed Williams very hard, hitting the rear guard “two or three times between Florence and Darlington.” The pressure was so great that Williams opted to move over Black Creek in order to set a defensive line for the evening.  But Robertson continued to threaten the Federals even after dark.

About 8 p.m. the pickets informed me that the enemy was moving across Black Creek, on my left, in force, and the report was confirmed by negroes who came into our lines. The evident object of this move was to reach Society Hill before us and cut us off at that point, which, if successful, would necessitate a long march to the left before I could return. I therefore concluded to at once move to Society Hill, which I did, arriving there at 12 m. on the night of the 5th.

From Society Hill, Williams moved back to Cheraw on the 6th without incident.  Summarizing the raid, Williams counted the damage inflicted and losses suffered:

The results of the expedition may be summed up as follows: The destruction of 500 yards of trestle-work, 2 depots, 11 freight and 4 passenger cars, 4,000 pounds bacon, 80 bushels wheat, 50 sacks corn, 250 bales of cotton, 1 printing office, 1 caisson and battery wagon, 30 stand of small-arms, and the capture of 31 prisoners. Our casualties are 7 wounded and 8 missing. A lieutenant and one man are reported to have been captured at Society Hill on our return.

Not bad for such a small force.  But Florence remained an open railroad junction for use by the Confederates.  However the rail lines there were somewhat amputated with no endpoints of strategic value.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, pages 255-6; Part II, Serial 99, pages 676, 691; William A. Neal, An illustrated History of the Missouri Engineer and the 25th Infantry Regiments, Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, 1889, page 171.)

Sherman’s March, February 28, 1865: “I received this morning twenty of my prisoners in exchange”

High water continued to delay Major-General William T. Sherman’s march through South Carolina on February 28, 1865.  But through the efforts of the troops, bridging and corduroying, and the abating flood waters, the Federals made some progress.

SCMarch_Feb28

The Fifteenth Corps continued to build approaches to the bridges on Lynches River.  But none of the columns made significant progress out of that flooded bottom land.  Major-General John Logan reported enough progress to be hopeful of a move the next day, if the waters cooperated.  Each day the trains moved forward, jumping from “island” to “island” in the flooded bottom. This brought on a traffic control problem for the wagons, as the First Missouri Engineers observed:

There was a good deal of rivalry among the teamsters in order to secure position and early start, thereby getting into camp early in the evening.  So for many days, owing to the wearing out of the roads, camp was reached late – at 10, 12, and sometimes after 1 o’clock at night, and the next morning the call was frequently at 3 or 4 a.m., oftentimes giving but three or four hours in camp to eat and sleep, and nineteen and twenty hours on the march; so the temper was frequently tired, especially in bad weather, and hence the struggle for a place in advance.

In the rear of the column, Major-General John Smith, Third Division, took this opportunity to trim his trains a bit.  On this day, “… about 3,000 pounds of tobacco and sundries, which had gathered since a similar inspection was made at West’s Cross Roads, was thrown out.”  Why would I mention such a “mundane” activity?  Well first off, the division reached West’s Cross-roads only four days earlier.  Mark that as the time in which the troops gathered 3,000 pounds of “tobacco and sundries.”  Secondly, these sort of inspections and purges were made at frequent intervals during the march.  The commanders were very mindful of the fact their trains could easily be encumbered and weighty.  We often read about the bummers stealing all sorts of things – particularly furniture, paintings, and other large items that would tax the transportation means of the average bummer on foot.  While some of the furniture no doubt went to the campfires, General Smith and his peers simply had no room for things like grand pianos, chafing dishes, or candelabras.  I would contend that much of the “sundries” acquired by the bummers suffered this fate under the mindful inspections.  Left by the road side or redistributed to other eager hands, those items remained in South Carolina for the time being.  (Perhaps I should elaborate further on this and explore the bummers’ load and the mobility of the army?)

The Seventeenth Corps made outstanding progress, in comparison, on February 28th.  After completing the corduroy and additional bridging, the corps moved before dawn on the 28th.  The march from there was relatively smooth.  Reaching a point beyond Black Creek, the corps went into camp and erected fortifications, some thirteen miles short of Cheraw.

Reports indicated a strong Confederate force, comprised of the troops withdrawn from Charleston and Wilmington, gathering at Cheraw.  And throughout the day, the Seventeenth Corps encountered Major-General Matthew C. Butler’s cavalry.  In reality, besides Butler, Lieutenant-General William Hardee’s force, evacuated from Charleston, was the only element in front of the Right Wing.  And Hardee was only going to hold Cheraw long enough for the last of his troops to arrive by train.  The Confederates prepared to contest Cheraw, but preferred to abandon the place quickly.  Still, as a precaution, Major-General Oliver O. Howard ordered the corps to hold up and wait until the Fifteenth Corps moved up to support.

The Twentieth Corps made a modest march of eight miles, “… over a very heavy, spongy road, making a corduroy necessary for every rod,” according to Major-General Apheus Williams, commanding.  But despite this, the corps gained a bridge at Lynches Creek and gained road beyond. A foraging detail from Major-General John Geary’s division reached a mill on the creek, “and furnished the command with several days’ supply of meal by collecting the corn and grinding it in these mills.”

The Fourteenth Corps finally won it’s battle against the Catawba River on February 28.  After completing a new pontoon bridge on the afternoon of the previous day, the corps resumed crossing.  In his orders for the day, Major-General Jefferson C. Davis urged:

The delay caused by the breaking of the bridge, and the consequent wide separation of the corps from the remainder of the army, makes it imperative upon all to push the advance now with the utmost energy and rapidity.

The rear guard of the corps again skirmished with Confederates on the west side of the river that day.  Otherwise the crossing was unmolested. The lead elements of the corps took up the same road used by the Twentieth some days earlier.  At least the path was well blazed.

Still guarding the left flank of the march, Major-General H. Judson Kilpatrick remained in Lancaster for one more day.  Reporting to Sherman, Kilpatrick complained, “I have eaten out the country about Lancaster, and here it is mighty poor.”  Kilpatrick was ready to move on and hoped the Fourteenth Corps’ movement would allow him the freedom to slip east.  Still, he was going to keep the appearance of moving towards Charlotte, as instructed.

Along with his report, Kilpatrick forwarded Lieutenant-General Wade Hampton’s counter to the threat of retaliation for murdered foragers. With that message, one might presume the issue was about to erupt into a round of executions.  However, Kilpatrick had worked out something with his old classmate Major-General Joseph Wheeler:

I received this morning twenty of my prisoners in exchange for an equal number sent General Wheeler yesterday; in all, he has taken from me but one officer and thirty men since entering upon the present campaign.  I have, over and above that number, seventy of his men and four commissioned officers.  As I feel confident that I can keep even with him or Hampton in prisoners, if you will give permission, and any of the corps commanders desire it, for infantry officers and soldiers now in Wheeler’s hands I will exchange the prisoners I now have on hand.

This had the effect of defusing the entire prisoner-murdered forager issue.  Can’t threaten to execute prisoners if there are no prisoners.  And, on a broader scale, we must also remember that Federal prisoners were still considered a bargaining chip to top Confederate leaders.  The nature of this exchange, set in context, undermines all the boisterous protests from Hampton.  The Confederates might be upset about the foragers, but it was far more important to entice the Federals into these cartels to exchange prisoners.  Such fit into the “army in being” strategy.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, pages 319, 583, and 689; Part II, Serial 99, pages 613, and 615; William A. Neal, An illustrated History of the Missouri Engineer and the 25th Infantry Regiments, Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, 1889, page 170.)

Sherman’s March, February 27, 1865: “I cannot dry up the river…” as floods continue to delay the march

Most days, as I draw the maps showing the route of march, I’ll have long blue lines running from point to point.  Today, you see none of that.  On February 27, 1865, all of Major-General William T. Sherman’s columns slowed and waited for the flood waters to fall.

SCMarch_Feb27

For the day, Major-General Oliver O. Howard’s orders to the Right Wing were:

Owing to the freshet, the orders of march for to-day are so modified to make the first stage, to get everything across the Lynch as soon as it can be done, and then begin the march on Cheraw, for which three days will be designated.

The Fifteenth Corps built footbridges and laid some pontoons at their two separate crossing points.  Troops were across the river, but wagons could not cross.  So resupply was only accomplished by hand. The trouble faced at each crossing point was the river was not a single channel due to the flood.  In addition to the normal river width, the Federals faced overflows, often up to 1,000 yards, on each side. At Tiller’s Bridge, the 1st Missouri Engineers struggled against the overflows, and further worked to ease the concentration of forces at the crossing site:

The bridge of the first section over [Lynches River] was in good order, but the overflow on the west side was 700 feet wide and from three to four and a half feet deep; on the east side it was a half or three quarters of a mile wide.  We laid the ponton and built trestles on the west side fording the east side. The second section at 6:30 took out four boats and corduroyed the road across the creek in rear of the Third Division; then took up the bridge, went to [Lynches River] and worked the train until 10 p.m., when they were ordered to cross, which owing to the darkness, too until 4 a.m.

A long day for the engineers. At Kelly’s Bridge, Major-General William Hazen reported the positive news that, “The river at this point has fallen about three inches….”  Imagine, Sherman’s entire campaign was down to a measure of vertical inches of floodwater.

Seventeenth Corps likewise worked on bridging, and waited for the waters to fall.  Major-General Frank Blair described the area around Young’s Bridge:

… we found the road [and] bottom lands adjoining overflowed for a considerable distance on each side, the water being from two to six feet in depth for a distance of about 200 yards on west and 1,500 yards on east side.

By afternoon of the 27th, the Corps had some bridging done. “About 2,500 men were engaged upon the work, and comleted 850 feet of bridging and 7,000 feet of corduroyed road on stringers before 5 p.m….”  At the fore of the advance, Brigadier-General Manning Force reported some progress:

… my command in camp about three-quarters of a mile from the bridge.  I propose, it meeting your approbation, to cross all my train to-night and let the troops remain on this side until morning. In the event of heavy rain and the water rising will move at once.

The Right Wing would at least have passage over the river for the next day.

The Twentieth Corps made a movement of just a few miles on the 27th.  The main effort was to consolidate the trains on the east side of Hanging Rock Creek. Major-General John Geary reported the ford used had a “smooth, rocky bottom.”  Geary further observed, “The soil continues treacherous and full of quicksands….”

Major-General H. Judson Kilpatrick’s cavalry remained at Lancaster for the day, continuing the missions of guarding the left flank of the advance while putting up appearances of an advance on Charlotte.  In a note to Sherman, Kilpatrick proposed remaining on the flanks until the Fourteenth Corps was clear of the river crossings.  The cavalryman wanted to move from there through the headwaters of Lynches River instead of following the infantry.  As for his command and the Confederates he faced:

The country here is good; forage plenty. My command has been resting for two days, and is in better condition than at any time during the march. We have captured a large number of mules and some horses, and have mounted all my dismounted men, save 300. I think Hampton’s and Wheeler’s forces combined amount to about 6,000 fighting men. Notwithstanding this superiority of numbers, I shall attack if a favorable opportunity offers. The road upon which I shall march is the best in the country. I will keep you advised daily as to my operations and position.

Kilpatrick always seemed ready for a fight – one way or the other.  Sherman approved Kilpatrick’s plan of movement, though he reiterated the importance of maintaining communication.

It was at Rocky Mount Ferry where the anxious hours continued to burn away.  Major-General Jefferson C. Davis still had the Fourteenth Corps astride the Catawba River. Davis shook things up a bit to cure what he felt was an inefficiency with the pontoons.  Davis was fed up with the work of the engineers to that point.  Brigadier-General George Buell, Second Brigade, First Division, assumed overall control of the bridge-laying operations.  With the change made, Davis reported to Major-General Henry Slocum, adjusting his itinerary, hoping to cross that afternoon.  Davis added:

This is the best that can possibly be hoped for under the circumstances.  I am doing everything that man can do, but I cannot dry up the river that separates my command; it has fallen about eighteen inches and is still falling.  I do not know what the emergency is in the front, but presume it must be very great, judging by the general’s dispatches, and am working accordingly.

Slocum retraced the route back to the crossing that day to personally ensure no more time was lost.

Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Moore, commanding the pontoons, then following Buell’s instructions, laid a 680 foot long bridge about a half mile downstream from the original point.  Moore observed, “Here the current was not so rapid, and by 11 p.m. we completed the bridge….”  The first troops crossed over at midnight.  However, there was some difference of opinion which lingered after the war – was it Buell, persistence of Moore, or falling waters that enabled the crossing?  Perhaps all of the above.

While the bridging operations were going on, a foraging party met Confederate cavalry near Rocky Mount Creek.  The 104th Illinois had lost nine men from a foraging detail the day before, and on the 27th, a better armed party met an equally reinforced Confederate cavalry force.  The skirmish served to underscore the vulnerability of the Fourteenth Corps, as it struggled to catch up with the rest of the column.

The extended dispositions, with several columns outside range of mutual support due to the flood waters, did not go unnoticed on the Confederate side.  Major-General Matthew C. Butler reported to Lieutenant-General William Hardee, then in Cheraw with the forces withdrawn from Charleston, about an opportunity he noticed to his front.  “I think that if our troops were concentrated now and thrown rapidly upon the Fifteenth Corps very serious damage may be inflicted.”  Indeed, the opportunity appeared clear on any map one might draw.  The problem was that Hardee’s force was even less mobile than the Federals.  If the flooded rivers had isolated some of the Federal commands, it had likewise pinned the Confederate forces in place.  Butler went on to add his observations of Sherman’s supplies:

Prisoners taken on the 23d report Sherman’s army to have only five days’ rations, and were moving toward Wilmington or Georgetown. He has been foraging very extensively along his line of march, no house within reach of his main column has been passed by, and all supplies have been taken from the inhabitants by foraging parties of infantry mounted on captured horses.

As designed, Sherman’s command was living off the land as it moved.  But at some point, just as Butler and other Confederate commanders speculated, Sherman had to turn towards the sea for military supplies.  Though Sherman did not know at the time, Federal efforts along the South Carolina coast anticipated a move to a port facility.  Somewhat contrary to orders sent from Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant, Major-General Quincy Gillmore pushed out from Charleston to the Santee River railroad bridge.  And Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren occupied Georgetown, South Carolina on February 25th.   While none of this changed Sherman’s agenda, it did leave question marks in the minds of many Confederate leaders.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, pages 380, 427, and 689; Part II, Serial 99, pages 597, 598, 599, 600, 603, and 1288; William A. Neal, An illustrated History of the Missouri Engineer and the 25th Infantry Regiments, Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, 1889, page 170.)

Sherman’s March, February 23, 1865: Crossing the Wateree-Catawba, “The day’s work was an excessively fatiguing one”

For most soldiers in the march column on Maj0r-General William T. Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign, February 23, 1865 was day spent crossing the Wateree-Catawba River.  Confederate resistance to the crossing was negligible to say the least… or really, that would be the most one might say!  In fact, the biggest problem the Federals faced at the two crossing points was due to rains and high water.

SCMarch_Feb23

The Fifteenth Corps had half of its forces across the river at Peay’s Ferry on the 22nd.  Marching forward from the bridgehead, Major-General John Logan directed the Second Division to take a road south towards Camden, while the Third Division continued east towards Flat Rock Post-office. The force heading to Camden was a feint to raise concerns for Charleston’s safety.  Recall that Sherman’s forces were moving without benefit of outside communications.  Only the day before had escaped slaves mentioned the fall of Charleston.  Though somewhat negating the need to scare Camden, the movement of Major-General William Hazen’s division did hurry Confederate efforts to get the Charleston garrison into North Carolina.  The Fourth Division followed Hazen towards Camden.  And once across, the First Division, Fifteenth Corps, trailed the Third towards Flat Rock.

The Seventeenth Corps followed the Fifteenth, and began crossing Peay’s Ferry around 3 p.m. that afternoon.  Around that time, a rain started.  Through the night the Seventeenth continued crossing.  The last division, the Third Division under Brigadier-General Manning Force, began to cross around midnight.  At that time the river’s current damaged the pontoons.  The First Missouri Engineers recorded that two pontoons were swamped and damaged.  Manning recorded, “The breaking of the bridge produced such delay that it was 9 o’clock the next morning before the rear regiment crossed in rear of the pontoon trains.”

Upstream, the Left Wing began its crossing of the Catawba River that morning.  Backing up to the 22nd for a moment, when Third Division, Twentieth Corps arrived at Rocky Mount Ferry, Second Brigade under Brigadier-General Daniel Dustin made a crossing to establish the bridgehead.  On the far side, Dustin observed:

After a personal inspection of the labor to be performed the brigade was crossed in the middle of the night. The road to be repaired had not been in use to any extent for years and led up a very steep hill for the distance of three-quarters of a mile.

It became necessary first to cut an entire new road directly through a swamp, from the head of the pontoon bridge to the main road, for nearly 100 yards, and next the same piece of road had to be corduroyed the entire distance. Numerous other places had also to be corduroyed. On account of the scarcity of poles and other suitable timber for this work a great number of rails were packed for the distance of one mile or more to complete the road. A large amount of work was also done upon the west side of the river, repairing the approaches to the bridge, cutting down the bank, straightening the old road, and bridging a deep ravine which intersected the road; but by sunrise of the next morning the wagons commenced crossing….

This preparation was done in the worst conditions one might design.  The night was dark, the troops did not have tools, and they were working on no rest, “after having completed a march of sixteen miles.” Dustin was rightfully proud of his men, “The endurance of the men in this instance was heavily taxed, and they are deserving of especial commendation.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Moore, in charge of the Wing’s pontoon train, began laying the bridge on the evening of the 22nd and by daylight had a 660 foot span over the river. “This bridge was laid just below the rapids,” reported Moore, “and at that time the river was low and the current not very rapid; but on the night of the 23d it commenced raining rapidly.”  Major-General Alpheus S. Williams had most of the Twentieth Corps, and the Cavalry Division trains entrusted to his care, across before the rains began and had most of his corps some five miles beyond in camp.  It was Major-General John Geary’s Second Division that had the rear that day:

At the end of the bridge the steep, narrow road wound up a very high hill, which the trains after crossing ascended with great difficulty and only by the assistance of the troops.  The soil everywhere was treacherous, and the roads were deep and miry.  At 5.45 p.m. my command began to cross.  A cold rain had set in, the night was very dark, and the roads became almost impassable, requiring continual repairs. All of my troops were distributed along the train to push the wagons through, which gave about twelve men to each wagon. By 10 p.m. my train had crossed, excepting eighty-five wagons, fifty-five of which were a portion of the cavalry train under my charge.  At that hour General Kilpatrick was ordered to cross his cavalry division…. Heavy rain continued during the night; distance to-day seventeen miles. The day’s work was an excessively fatiguing one.

The pause to allow Major-General H. Judson Kilpatrick’s cavalry to pass interrupted Twentieth Corps for a bit.  But it was the Seventeenth Corps which would suffer the most.  Major-General Jefferson C. Davis recorded his command had, in addition to destroying twelve miles of railroad, marched 38 miles during February 22-23.  But the weather and rising waters had Seventeenth Corps pause until morning.  Davis would have more ill-words to say about the pontooniers over the days to follow.

Before Kilpatrick crossed the pontoons, he did address a counter-response to Major-General Joseph Wheeler in regard to the retaliation for murders committed committed earlier in the week.  Kilpatrick conceded to Wheeler’s request to allow for an investigation.  But made it clear it was a Texas formation which had committed the acts, and that it seemed to represent a larger problem:

One of my scouts, a reliable man, was with this force all day, and testified to the fact that not only were these men referred to murdered, but that the general conversation of your men was that they would take no more prisoners. I hope you may be able to furnish some reason that may in a degree justify the course taken by your men.

Kilpatrick was also quick to assure Wheeler that he would indeed retaliate if the murders did not stop.  However, he was just as quick to assure the Confederate leader that he was taking efforts to police his own men, in particular to outrages against civilians:

If stragglers from my command are found in the houses of citizens committing any outrages whatever, my own people are directed to shoot them upon the spot, and of course I expect officers and soldiers of your command to do the same.

Kilpatrick concluded with a bitter summary of the situation:

I am alive to the fact that I am surrounded by citizens as well as soldiers, whose bitter hatred to the men I have the honor to command did not originate with this war, and I expect that some of my men will be killed elsewhere than on the battlefield, but I know and shall not hesitate to apply a sure remedy in each case.

Sherman, passed along Kilpatrick’s reports to his wing commanders.  Writing to Major-General Oliver O. Howard, Sherman referenced the “Death to all foragers” sign.

Now it is clearly our war right to subsist our army on the enemy.  Napoleon always did it, but could avail himself of the civil powers he found in existence to collect forage and provisions by regular impressments.  We cannot do that here, and I contend if the enemy fails to defend his country we may rightfully appropriate what we want.  If our foragers act under mine, yours, or other proper orders they must be protected. … I want the foragers, however, to be kept within reasonable bounds for the sake of discipline. I will not protect them when they enter dwellings and commit wanton waste, such as woman’s apparel, jewelry, and such things as are not needed by our army; but they may destroy cotton or tobacco, because these are assumed by the rebel Government to belong to it, and are used as a valuable source of revenue.  Nor will I consent to our enemy taking the lives of our men on their judgment.  They have lost all title to property, and can lose nothing not already forfeited; but we should punish for a departure from our orders, and if the people resist our foragers I will not deem it wrong, but the Confederate army must not be supposed the champion of any people.

Sherman expanded upon this in a note to Kilpatrick, in which he authorized the retaliations proposed.  But as Kilpatrick did not have any prisoners under his direct charge, the matter hung in the air for the moment.  In addition to Kilpatrick’s response to Wheeler, Sherman addressed an inquiry directly to Lieutenant-General Wade Hampton the next day… which I’ll examine tomorrow.  But before turning to that round of correspondence, I also need to discuss some plans being made on the Confederate side to counter Sherman and some ancillary operations the Federals mounted at this time 150 years ago.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, pages 409, 427, 688, 805-6, and 860-1; Part II, Serial 99, page 537,

 

Columbia Aflame “… as a slight revenge on the Confederates for their cruelty”

Consider this from the 1st Missouri Engineers (emphasis mine):

February 17, 1865.  The men began at daylight to lay the bridge across the Broad River, in which we were delayed for some time waiting for the skirmishers to drive away the enemy from the wooded cover on the opposite side. We received twelve boats from the Army of Georgia.  The bridge was completed at noon; length of this bridge 540 feet.  The bridge at the Saluda was taken up at 10 p.m., and parked at the east side of the Broad River, and many of the men wandered up to Columbia, which place was on fire and burning up house after house; long lines of cotton bales had been strung through the main street, cut open and fired by the Confederates when they left; there were probably several thousand bales thus fired in the middle of the streets.  The wind was blowing quite strongly, and great tufts of the blazing cotton were hurled here and there among the wooden buildings.  It was at this time that some of our First Missouri Engineers, who had their homes and families despoiled in the region of Rolla, Missouri, gathered in bunches of this burning cotton and flung it down in various houses, as a slight revenge on the Confederates for their cruelty.  The names of not one of these men are known.

Nor would any scribe have recorded their names.

We have a tendency to artificially divide the prosecution of the war by theaters.  You will hear the counter that out in the Trans-Mississippi was a “different case” and behavior of combatants there was not representative the larger contest.  I think that a false separation we have erected for the ease of our studies.  “Hard War” was a product of escalations as the war intensified.  Be it Greenton or Rolla, events from Missouri influenced public and military opinions.  Far from being a “different case,” the fighting in the Trans-Mississippi was directly influential upon, and at the same time influence by, the fighting in other sectors of the war.  We cannot disconnect the burning of Lawrence, Kansas from that of Columbia, South Carolina.

Again, we see those long-carried grudges being off-loaded in South Carolina.

(Citation William A. Neal, An illustrated History of the Missouri Engineer and the 25th Infantry Regiments, Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, 1889, page 168.)