Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Delaware!

Well, well.  Finally!  In the second quarter of 1863, the bureaucrats of the Ordnance Department finally caught up with those fellows serving the Union out in the vast Trans-Mississippi theater.  Sloppy entries, but at least there are entries:

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Yes, right up top, we see “Arkansas” with two lines – one for an artillery battery and the other for a detachment serving with cavalry.  Below that we see formal headings for Connecticut and Delaware.  However, shoved under the Connecticut header are entry lines for a California cavalry detachment (with a howitzer on hand) and the 1st Colorado Battery.  This pulls several entries off the “Batteries that were overlooked” from the previous quarter.  Huzzah for good record keeping!

Kidding aside, let’s focus first on the batteries from Connecticut and Delaware, which carry over from the previous quarter:

  • 1st Connecticut Light Artillery Battery: Reporting at Folly Island, South Carolina with six 3.80-inch James Rifles.  Captain Alfred P. Rockwell remained in command, with the battery still assigned to Tenth Corps, Department of the South.  However, a more accurate location would be Beaufort, as the battery remained there until later in the summer, when it did move (with other reinforcements) to Folly and Morris Islands in support of the campaign against Battery Wagner.
  • 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery Battery: At Taneytown, Maryland with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.80-inch James Rifles.  The Gettysburg nutcases fanatics students will remind us this was the only Federal battery at Gettysburg with James rifles and 12-pdr field howitzers.  As part of the transfer of garrison troops from Washington to reinforce the Army of the Potomac, Captain John W. Sterling’s battery became part of the 2nd Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve.
  • 1st Delaware Light Artillery Battery: At Camp Barry, Washington, D.C. with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Benjamin Nields’ battery traveled a lot during the spring and early summer of 1863… but never left the Eastern Theater.  In April, the battery proceeded to Norfolk, where it reinforced the Seventh Corps as Confederates threatened that point and Suffolk.  The battery was still with the Seventh Corps for Dix’s campaign, or demonstration if you prefer, on the Peninsula in June-July.  Then on July 8, the battery was ordered back to Camp Barry in Washington.

Please note we do not see a listing here for Battery M, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, which had on hand 4.5-inch rifles, and were in the field supporting the Army of the Potomac (if not actually at Gettysburg).

With those three batteries out of the way, let’s look to the “new comers” to the form:

  • 1st Arkansas Artillery Battery: At Springfield, Missouri with six 3-inch Ordnance rifles. The battery formed with troops at both Springfield and Fayetteville, Arkansas during the early months of the year.  Fully manned, the battery was posted to Springfield through the summer.  Captain  Denton D. Stark commanded this battery assigned to the District of Southwest Missouri.
  • Detachment of 1st Arkansas Cavalry: At Fayetteville, Arkansas with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  This regiment was among those defending Fayetteville against a Confederate attack in April.  I am not sure if the two howitzers were formally assigned to one of the companies.  The regiment, under Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison, would see duties across Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas through the summer and early fall.  I will save the rest of that story for someone to write on a “To the sound of Clashing Sabers” blog.
  • Detachment of 3rd California Cavalry?: The notation clearly says “Cavalry”… but there was no 3rd California Cavalry.  There was, however, a 3rd California Infantry and it had reported artillery on hand back in December 1862.  However, the location is given as Camp Independence, California.  And it is the 2nd California Cavalry which is most associated with that outpost in the Owen’s Valley.  Let us just say that “A California Detachment” had one 12-pdr mountain howitzer for our purposes.
  • 1st Colorado Artillery Battery: at Camp Weld, Colorado Territory with no cannon reported.  There is an annotation after the state name which is illegible.  Records show this battery posted to Fort Lyon, and under the command of Lieutenant Horace W. Baldwin, at the end of June 1863.  In July the battery moved to Camp Weld.  Not sure what cannon were assigned at this time.  However in December 1863 the battery reported four 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  So that’s the likely answer.

How’s that for “rounding out” the list?  We will see more of these missing batteries and detachments accounted for as we continue through the second quarter, 1863.

That introduction out of the way, let us look to these seven lines from five different states (or territories, as you wish).  Starting with the smoothbore ammunition:

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Three to consider for this page:

  • 1st Arkansas Cavalry: 36 shell, 132 case, and 36 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd Connecticut Battery: 160 shell, 120 case, and 13 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • California Detachment: 24 shell, 24 case, and 24 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

Those entries seem in line with expectations.

Looking to the next page, we look at the Hotchkiss rifled projectiles:

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Hotchkiss is normally associated with 3-inch rifles.  That holds true here, but there’s also some for the James rifles:

  • 1st Arkansas Battery: 84 canister, 84 percussion shell, 156 fuse shell, and 480 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 1st Connecticut Battery: 90 percussion shell, 120 fuse shell, and 468 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James rifles (and we’ll see another column of Hotchkiss on the next page).
  • 2nd Connecticut Battery: 49 fuse shell and 191 bullet shell for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • 1st Delaware Battery: 172 shot, 238 canister, 545 percussion shell, and 121(?) fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

Very interesting the Delaware battery had so many shot, or “bolts”, on hand.  Particularly given their service in southeastern Virginia. Though it is likely the result of them having on hand what was issued, as opposed to any specific tactical requirement.

Turning to the next page, we can narrow our view down to the extended Hotchkiss, Dyer’s, and James’ columns:

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First off, that left over Hotchkiss entry:

  • 1st Connecticut Battery: 190 canister for 3.80-inch James.

We don’t see many Dyer’s projectiles reported, so this entry is noteworthy:

  • 1st Delaware Battery: 764 shrapnel and 37 canister for 3-inch rifles.

And the James-patent projectiles:

  • 1st Connecticut Battery: 185 canister for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • 2nd Connecticut Battery: 28 shell and 80 canister for 3.80-inch James rifles.

The variety of projectiles continues as we look on the next page:

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Again, the Connecticut batteries.  And again, projectiles for the James rifles.  This time of Schenkl-patent type:

  • 1st Connecticut Battery: 978 shells for 3.80-inch James.
  • 2nd Connecticut Battery: 320 shells for 3.80-inch James.

So the 1st Connecticut had plenty of everything from everyone!

Something in regard to the small arms section, that readers might have picked up on this with some of the earlier posts, is the frequent use of written annotation on the column headers.  Almost every page set will have its own “custom” columns.  We see that here for the top of this page set:

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And one might think with all these Trans-Mississippi units reporting, we’d see a lot of long arms.  Not the case here.  Either those far western artillerists had no small arms, or (more likely) the officers reporting didn’t provide details.  So we’ll look to the three eastern batteries:

  • 1st Connecticut Battery: 135 Navy revolvers, thirteen cavalry sabers, and forty-six horse artillery sabers.
  • 2nd Connecticut Battery: Nineteen Army revolvers and sixteen horse artillery sabers.
  • 1st Delaware Battery: Twenty-four Army revolvers and thirty-one horse artillery sabers.

Yes, I would like to have seen a good accounting for the 1st Arkansas and 1st Colorado batteries here.  Would certainly add to some discussions about reeactor impressions, to say the least!  But from the data we do have presented here, I am most drawn to the 1st Connecticut Battery.  Not only did that battery, posted to South Carolina, have a wide variety of projectiles (by pattern, that is), but also a large number of pistols.

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 4th Regiment, US Regulars

Looking at the summary for the 4th US Artillery for the 2nd quarter (ending in June) of 1863, we see ten of the twelve batteries posted returns (or more accurately, had their returns recorded by the Ordnance Department… assuming nothing here).  Of those ten returns, all but one was received by the end of 1863.  But only six offered a location for the battery as of the time of report.  Is this the impact of active campaigning on the administrative reports?  Let’s see….

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Looking at these lines by battery:

  • Battery A – Reported at Sulphur Springs, Virginia with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. The location is obviously reflecting the date when the report was actually filed, not where the battery was located on June 30 of the year.  The battery was, on that date, marching through Maryland.  Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing had but three more days in command of this battery, supporting Second Corps.
  • Battery B – No location given, but with  six 12-pdr Napoleons. Of course we know this battery, led by Lieutenant James Stewart, was supporting First Corps and was camped south of Gettysburg on June 30.  And of course, the following day the battery would perform admirably on the field.
  • Battery C – And no location given, but also reporting six 12-pdr Napoleons. In late May the battery transferred to the 1st Brigade (Regular), Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac.  Lieutenant Evan Thomas remained in command.  That brigade was moving up from Frederick, Maryland on June 30.
  • Battery D – Yet another without location given, though with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles. This battery remained at Suffolk, Virginia, assigned to First Division, Seventh Corps and commanded by Captain Frederick M. Follett.
  • Battery E – No report.  Lieutenant  Samuel S. Elder’s was in the First Brigade, Horse Artillery assigned to the Cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, with four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles assigned.  Another battery with a location “on the march” and destined for the fields of Gettysburg.
  • Battery F – Reporting at Kelly’s Ford, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Yes, another reflecting the “as of report” location.  Lieutenant Sylvanus T. Rugg commanded this battery in support of Twelfth Corps.  We can place them, also, among the columns moving through Maryland and southern Pennsylvania on June 30.
  • Battery G – No report given for this quarter.  Battery G was assigned to the Eleventh Corps artillery earlier in June.  The battery location as of June 30 was on the road between Emmitsburg and Gettysburg, with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Lieutenant Marcus Miller went on recruiting duty and was replaced, briefly, by Lieutenant Bayard Wilkeson.  But Wilkeson would be mortally wounded on July 1 while leading his battery at a poor position on what became known as Barlow’s Knoll.  Lieutenant Eugene A. Bancroft succeeded in command.
  • Battery H – At Murfreesboro, Tennessee with four 12-pdr field howitzers. Lieutenant Harry C. Cushing in command of this battery, assigned to Second Division, Twenty-First Corps.
  • Battery I – Belle Creek, Kentucky with four 12-pdr Napoleons. Lieutenant Frank G. Smith commanded this battery, supporting Third Division, Fourteenth Corps.  the location is a question mark.  The battery was, at this time, with its parent formation around Murfreesboro.
  • Battery K – Bridgeport, Maryland with six 12-pdr Napoleons. Another location which reflects the later reporting date.  This battery, under Lieutenant Francis W. Seeley, was supporting Third Corps and was around Emmitsburg on June 30. Seeley was wounded on July 2 (so badly that he later resigned his commission), and Lieutenant Robert James assumed command.
  • Battery L – No location offered, but with two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 10-pdr Parrotts.  Under command of Captain R. V. W. Howard, and assigned to First Division, Seventh Corps, in Southeast Virginia. .
  • Battery M – At Murfreesboro, Tennessee reporting four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 24-pdr field howitzers.  Lieutenant Francis L. D. Russell remained in command and the battery remained with Second Division, Twenty-First Corps.  Of note, the battery upgraded from field howitzers to Napoleons.

So comparing what we know about each particular battery’s service to what was recorded administratively, there does appear to have been some disruption of paperwork at the end of the second quarter.  Though I don’t think anyone would fault the officers for inattention to cyclic reports at this interval of the war.  They were more concerned with the real business of artillery.

Turning to the ammunition pages, we start with the smoothbore columns… noting the need to extend those to support the “big howitzers” of Battery M:

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A lot of Napoleons and howitzers, so a lot to discuss:

  • Battery B: 360 shot, 236 shell, and 164 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons. However, a tally of 452 case for 6-pdr field guns is offered.  I think this is a transcription error and should correctly be interpreted as case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery C: 163 shot, 186 shell, 388 case, and 196 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery F: 288 shot, 96 shell, 388 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery H: 219 shell, 342 case, and 146 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery I: 192 shot, 62 shell, 192 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery K: 288 shot, 96 shell, 288 case, and 96 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery L: 96 shot, 32 shell, 96 case, and 33 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Battery M: 138 shot, 64 shell, 212 case, and 128 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons; 72 shell, 72 case, and 48 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers.

With so many of these batteries seeing action at Gettysburg, we might seek some insight as to what was on hand for the battle and what was used.  But yet again we must exercise some caution with making conjectures. There is an “as of date” along with a “reporting date” and other variables to consider here.  More than a grain of salt is required, in my opinion.

Moving to ammunition for the rifled guns, we start with Hotchkiss:

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Two batteries reporting:

  • Battery A: 120 canister, 36 percussion shell,  319 fuse shell, and 673 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery D:  83 canister, 100 percussion shell, 542 fuse shell, and 475 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

As there was no record for Battery E, we are left to wonder what Elder’s gunners had on hand.

Moving to the next page, we can focus specifically on the Parrott columns:

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Just that one battery at Suffolk to consider here:

  • Battery L: 474 shell, 340(?) case, and 96 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

None of these batteries reported Schenkl projectiles on hand.  So we can move to the small arms:

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By battery:

  • Battery A: Sixteen Army revolvers and twenty-five horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B: Twenty-two Navy revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.
  • Battery C: Eighteen (?) Navy revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery D: Nine Army revolvers and 135 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F: Thirteen Army revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery H: Sixteen Army revolvers, six cavalry sabers, and fifteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I: Three Army revolvers and forty-five cavalry sabers.
  • Battery K: Twelve Army revolves, one Navy revolver, and thirteen horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery L: Fourteen Army revolvers and 117 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: Eight Army revolvers and thirty horse artillery sabers.

With so many of these batteries seeing action in the opening days of July, the figures are, again, tempting.  While trivial of sorts, the number of small arms reflect weapons of war used by the batteries.  In some cases, we might seek precision as to the use of those weapons.  For instance, when Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing drew his revolver to order his men back to their posts on July 3, was that an Army revolver, as was reported with his battery?  Colt or Remington? Or something the Lieutenant had come by outside of official channels?

Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 3rd Regiment, US Regulars

The wartime service of the 3rd US Artillery was, in my opinion, “cushy”.  Several batteries remained on the west coast.  No doubt a vital assignment, ensuring the gold of California remained secure (and that’s not said with any sarcasm).  But since so much of the regiment served as garrison artillery, that left little to report in the Ordnance Returns. Thus a lot of white space for the 2nd quarter of 1863:

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We find only four batteries reported having field artillery tubes on hand!

  • Battery A – At Albuquerque, New Mexico with two 12-pdr field howitzers and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Same as the previous quarter.  And, updating my own notes here, Lieutenant John B. Shinn was in command of this battery (brevetted to captain for his service on the initial campaigns in New Mexico).
  • Battery B – Given the annotation “Infy. Stores.”  The battery remained at Fort Point, San Francisco, California.
  • Battery C – No location given, but with six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Part of the Second Brigade of the Horse Artillery, Army of the Potomac.  Lieutenant William D. Fuller was in command.  The battery was not on the field at Gettysburg (and thus often left off some order of battle listings) but was with the Second Brigade, Second Division, Cavalry Corps at Westminster, Maryland.
  • Battery D – At Alcatraz Island, California with the annotation “Infy. Stores.”  Captain William A. Winder, of the 3rd US Artillery, commanded the garrison of Alcatraz at this time of the war.  Under his command were Batteries D, H, and I (which we will mention below).
  • Battery E – No return. Serving in the Department of the South, posted to Folly Island, South Carolina at the end of June.  Lieutenant  John R. Myrick was in command.
  • Battery F – At Warrenton Junction, Virginia with six 12-pdr Napoleons. The location is certainly in error for the June 30th date, but accurate for August when the report was received in Washington.  This battery, combined with Battery K (below), was assigned to the 1st US Regular Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac, under Lieutenant John G. Turnbull.  So the location was somewhere between Frederick, Maryland and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
  • Battery G – Fort Turnbull, Connecticut  but without any assigned cannon. The battery had been disbanded the previous fall and was being reorganized with new recruits.  Eventually, Lieutenant Herbert F. Guthrie would command, but I am not certain as to the date of his assignment.
  • Battery H – “Infy. Stores” with location as Alcatraz Island, California.
  • Battery I – Also “Infy. Stores” and at Alcatraz Island.
  • Battery K – Annotated as “with Battery F”.  See that battery’s notes above.
  • Battery L – At Columbus, Kentucky with six 10-pdr Parrotts. Combined with Battery M, below.  Captain John Edwards in command.  The battery was assigned to First Division, Ninth Corps.  At the start of the spring was posted to Kentucky.  In early June, the battery moved with its parent division to reinforce Vicksburg.  And after the fall of Vicksburg the battery was part of the pursuit to Jackson, Mississippi.  So a well-traveled battery.
  • Battery M – “With Battery L” at Columbus.  — At Lexington, Kentucky with six 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Lieutenant – “Stores in Charge.”  This line tallied various implements and supplies, apparently assigned to a lieutenant of the regiment, but with no location indicated.

So the service details out of the way, we turn to the ammunition reported on hand, starting with smoothbore ammunition:

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Two lines to consider, but not without some notes:

  • Battery A: 148 shot, 112 case, and 216 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 170 shell, 240 case, and 88 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers; and 24 shells for 12-pdr field guns.
  • Battery F & K: 360 shot, 96 shell, 198 case, and 104 canister for 12-pdr Napoleon.

Battery F’s quantities, though with a rather high number of solid shot, are within reason.  But Battery A, out there in New Mexico, held on to ammunition for a pair of 6-pdrs that were no longer on hand.  I’m not going to say the 12-pdr shells there in Albuquerque were for Napoleons or the old 12-pdr heavy field guns.  Regardless, their listing here raises an unresolved question.

Moving to rifled projectiles, we have to consider Hotchkiss types first:

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Two batteries up again:

  • Battery A: 96 canister, 144 percussion shell, 110 fuse shell, and 288 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery C: 30 canister and 50 fuse shell for 3-inch rifles.

We can trim the next page to focus only on the Parrott columns:

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That much traveled battery out at Vicksburg:

  • Batteries L & M: 618 shell, 435 case, and 265 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

And we have but one entry to consider for Schenkl:

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  • Battery C: 18 shells for 3-inch rifles.

That last entry fills up, somewhat, the allocation for Battery C.  But one expect to see more.  The report arrived in Washington in November, 1863.

We move last to the small arms:

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Hopefully those numbers are legible.  The original lacked clarity in the column lines. And overall the sheet’s quality diminishes towards the bottom of the page.  Here’s what I transcribe:

  • Battery A: Thirteen carbines, eighty-six Army revolvers, seventy-six Navy revolvers, and eighty-seven horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery C: One carbine, twenty-six Navy revolvers, thirty-five cavalry sabers, and 172 horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery F & K: Thirteen Navy revolvers and forty-five horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery G: Eighty-six horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery L & M: Fifteen Army revolvers and forty-five horse artillery sabers.

I can understand Battery A, out in the far west and given many non-artillery duties, would need carbines, pistols, and sabers.  But Battery C?  That’s a lot of sabers… even for a data entry error!

Sesquicentennial Observation: The last great surge for Civil War battlefield preservation… why?

During the last four years, as I “walked and talked” the Civil War sesquicentennial, there were many observations which I rolled about at the pace of my footsteps.  A post-sesquicentennial objective of mine is to fill some of those out and share here as blog posts.  One of those is already up.  Today I’ll continue that thread with another observation “from the field,” if you will – we are experiencing the last great opportunity for Civil War battlefield preservation.

Yes, we are witnessing the last great chance for preservation of Civil War battlefields… any additional battlefields.   I say that within the context of a comment from NPS historian John Hennessy:

For the moment, let’s focus on the 2/2 part of that tweet conversation (we’ll circle back to the first part later).  Americans have preserved MORE acres Civil War battlefield than any other nation has preserved for any other war in all of history.  An impressive statistic.  Civil War Trust lists 40,000 acres of battlefield among their accomplishments – preserved in whole or in part by that organization.  Add to that federal (small “f” as in national, not the opposite of Confederate!), state, and local parks on battlefields.  And also mention lands preserved by other means, to include the initiative of the land owners.  More land than for any other war in human history.  Let that simmer at the fore.

Why is that?

Let me offer my answer to that in “Craig Swain” fashion… as in starting with the “nuts and bolts.”  The first part to consider is how – legally and administratively – all that land went onto the “preserved” side of the sheet.  Preservation didn’t happen all at once.  It took time and came in waves.  The first great wave of preservation was by the generation which witnessed the Civil War, and driven by those veterans in the population.  Timothy B. Smith called this the “Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation.”  Very apt title, coming at the later half of the Gilded Age and conducted by veterans reaching their “golden years.”  This period produced five battlefield parks, under government management (Chickamauga-Chattanooga, Shiloh, Gettysburg, Antietam, and Vicksburg).  More important, this period provided the blueprints for additional preservation.  We talk of the “Gettysburg plan” vs. “Antietam plan” because of methods used.  And beyond that, the blueprint incorporated plans for public use.  The practical, surface use was interpretation of the battle (notably, justified as an open air classroom for military officers).  Less practical, but very much at the fore, was public use for commemoration.

The blueprint established – for both the means and uses – the next big period of preservation was also pushed from the federal level.  And it resembled that “golden age”… except for less participation of the veterans, who were passing away by that time.  Parks established from 1915 to 1938 included Richmond, Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania, Petersburg, Stones River, and Brices Cross Roads.  Also in the list of fields preserved during that period are Revolutionary War sites such as Cowpens, Moore’s Creek, and Kings Mountain.  Such indicates “federal directed” preservation had moved beyond the urgings of Civil War veterans to a broader goal embracing the wider context of American history.   Sort of a function of the period, if I may.  Though I want to steer clear of the obvious rabbit hole there, for the sake of brevity.

The preservation of these major battlefields setup the Centennial of the Civil War.  There were places for those observances to occur.  But – and let me be clear that I cannot say this from the stance of a participant – those observances seemed confined.  The Centennial period, from the perspective of preservation, comes across as entrenchment.  The focus was more toward interpretation of what was in place – those wonderful, dated guidebooks and orientation movies that have only recently been updated.   In terms of land, bookend achievements at Manassas and Monocacy epitomize the efforts of that era – small, timid efforts that appear, in hindsight, fraught with missed opportunities.

But some of those missed opportunities setup the next period of Civil War battlefield preservation.  For the first 100 years after the Civil War, major development threats to battlefields were few and far between.  Remoteness insulated many fields from disruption.  That changed in the 1970s as the vectors producing “sprawl” brought direct and indirect changes to these battlefields.  And the “uncovered” battlefield lands were often thrown into the middle of a public discussion which pitted perceived “progress” against preservation.  Typical of these episodes, Manassas battlefield faced major developments on ground which arguably should have been included in the original park’s boundaries.  Another example came from Brandy Station, where preservationists contested major development projects which would have obliterated an otherwise pristine battlefield.  While both of those sites may be listed as “successful,” other places, such as Chantilly and so many of the Atlanta Campaign sites, were not so.  This was a contentious period for preservation, to say the least.  This “contentious” period saw private individuals and advocacy groups at the fore of the dialog.  In many places, the advocates for preservation came to terms with “preserve what you can” compromises. While federal and state officials were there, it was the preservation advocates doing most of the push.  Instead of “top down” driven goals, what emerged were “grass roots” preservation advocates.

Into the 21st Century and approaching the Sesquicentennial, preservation efforts continued along the lines of the last quarter of the previous century.  Opportunities came (and still come) with the alert, “targeted ares need protection NOW before something happens.”  And these are not “the sky is falling” pleas.  The nature of the sprawling development, indicative of this age, leaves no quarter.  Such renders the old Antietam plans obsolete.  Missed opportunities from the 1960s have translated to obliterated fields.  Though at some quarters, such as at Franklin, preservationists have turned to options rehabilitating portions of the battlefield – an extreme of “preserve what you can.” The preservationists through the Sesquicentennial are faced with the question “if not now, when?”

So we see through these five periods, preservation of all that battlefield land was not governed by a single guiding strategy or movement.  Rather the preservation efforts were a function of each generation’s initiative.  However, at the same time we can say through all the periods, the efforts focused on the land for those two core reasons – interpretation and commemoration.  Interpretation, through these periods, remained somewhat rigid for its application (in terms of how we process information, the signage of the 1890s is not far removed from the smart-phone app geo-tag of today) even while the content of the message remained fluid.  On the other hand, commemoration has defied any fixed characterization over the decades, ranging from celebration to reflection to introspection.  While we all approach the battlefields from the context of history, gaining perspective from the interpretation, what we carry away from them – the commemorative aspect – varies by individual.

And there in lies the answer to the question.  The reason we have so much Civil War battlefield space preserved is because that war was a broad, almost limitless, subject from which so much defies concrete definition.  We might start the discussion around “facts” or “sources” or such. But in the end, all devolves into “opinions” based on our own perspectives.  And the best place to reach any authoritative perspective is standing with both feet planted firmly on the ground.

We have not, as a nation, come to terms with the Civil War after 150 years.  So we should not be surprised that we have such an attachment to the ground over which it was fought.  Perhaps, the country needs those acres to serve as an unhealed wound.

Gettysburg 150th: Day Two

Once again, we are out on the field early. My first stop of the day is a fine tour focused on Captain Samuel R. Johnston and his reconnaissance 150 years ago this morning.

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Substantial crowd assembled.

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View of the Bushman Farm

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I know Troy Harmon likes contrasts. I’d say the last stop for the recon tour has a good helping of contrast:

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Meade’s Headquarters, were many decisions were made 150 years ago this morning:

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Some decisions became orders. Some orders were transmitted by wig-wag.

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The Signal Corps reports Confederate activity, 150 years ago –

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Looking out over triangle field:

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Through the afternoon myself and a battle buddy drifted over the Federal Left – Devils Den, Little Round Top, Wheatfield, and Peach Orchard. We took in several tour segments. But we “sampled” more than dined. Too many actions, not enough time!

Hood’s approach to Devil’s Den:

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Tour group preparing for Devil’s Den:

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Spur off Day’s Hill were the US Regulars fought:

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Looking over the retreat of the regulars through the Valley of Death, with Gibb’s Battery on the north end of Little Round Top:

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Tour group in the Wheatfield:

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View from the Peach Orchard:

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Now off to East Cemetery Hill.

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The gates of Evergreen Cemetery:

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Approach of Avery’s Brigade:

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On the other side of Cemetery Hill, Wright’s Brigade also found it impossible to break through.

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I always seem to be blessed with great sunsets at sesquicentennial events. July 2 offers another:

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Here’s looking at tomorrow:

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Going to Gettysburg – My #Gburg150 Starts

A circular to the Army of the Potomac, issued this day (June 30) in 1863 read:

Headquarters Army of the Potomac,
June 30, 1863.
The commanding general requests that previous to the engagement soon expected with the enemy, corps and all other commanding officers address their troops, explaining to them briefly the immense issues involved in the struggle. The enemy are on our soil. The whole country now looks anxiously to this army to deliver it from the presence of the foe. Our failure to do so will leave us no such welcome as the swelling of millions of hearts with pride and joy at our success would give to every soldier of this army. Homes, firesides, and domestic altars are involved. The army has fought well heretofore; it is believed that it will fight more desperately and bravely than ever if it is addressed in fitting terms.
Corps and other commanders are authorized to order the instant death of any soldier who fails in his duty at this hour.
By command of Major-General Meade:
S. Williams,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

One-hundred and fifty years later, might we say the whole country looks on again?  Television, newspapers, and magazines are once again featuring Gettysburg and the Civil War.  And it seems as if the entire Sesquicentennial is drawing into Gettysburg where all the roads and storylines meet.

I’m off to Gettysburg myself.  To experience the 150th of the Civil War, one actually has to get out there and be part of it.  Or at least that’s the way I see it.  I’ll keep this post open for additions today.  And as usual I’ll put up tweets and Facebook page updates where I can.

The hash tag is #Gburg150.  Let’s see if that reaches the “trending” list sometime over the next four days.

Marching Through Loudoun: June 17, 1863

150 years ago today, elements of the Army of the Potomac entered Loudoun County. The army had passed this way before. The previous fall the army advanced through Loudoun following Army of Northern Virginia, falling back from the killing fields of Antietam. And just thirty-two weeks later the Federal army was back pursuing the same Confederate army. Except this time everyone was heading north.

Earlier on June 16, 1863, Brigadier-General Gouverneur Warren, chief engineer, advised that, “Leesburg is a very important place, as the lowest fords of the Potomac are in this vicinity.” Warren’s suggestion carried weight.  When Army headquarters posted the march orders late that evening, Leesburg featured prominently as a destination:

The Twelfth Corps, General Slocum, will march at 3 a.m. to-morrow for Leesburg, via Hunter’s Mills, crossing the railroad, Dranesville, and the Leesburg turnpike.

The First Corps, General Reynolds, and Eleventh Corps, General Howard, will march at 3 a.m. for Leesburg from Centreville, one corps taking the route by Frying Pan, old Ox road, and Farmwell Station, crossing the railroad: the others by Gum Springs, Farmwell, crossing Goose Creek, near Trappe Rock.

The Fifth Corps, General Meade, will march from Manassas at 3 a.m. for Leesburg, via Centreville and Gum Springs. The corps marching from Centreville by Gum Springs will keep to the right of the road in the fields near Gum Springs, to enable the Fifth Corps to pass on by the old Carolina road to Leesburg.

The before-mentioned corps will encamp on Goose Creek to-morrow night.

Headquarters at Farmwell Station to-morrow night. Corps en route will report their march and place of camp to morrow night at 7 p.m. at that point and for orders.

The corps will keep up communication with each other from time to time, if necessary.

The routes and places are by the McDowell map of January 1, 1862. In this, as in all future marches, the corps will, in case of attack, march to the sound of heaviest firing.

The Third, Sixth, and Second Corps will follow to-morrow p.m., the Second Corps following the Twelfth; the Fifth Corps following by Germantown and Frying Pan; the Third Corps following by Gum Springs. Each corps commander will guard and care for his trains.

The Reserve Artillery will follow with the Twelfth Corps, General Slocum.

It is suggested to corps commanders that easier marches for the commands will be made by lying by in the middle of the day, and marching early in the morning and late at night.

The orders used place-names defined on the “McDowell Map.” That being the army’s point of reference, I’ll use it too. The map below shows the intertwining lines of march for the First, Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Corps. The remaining corps and artillery reserve were to follow those four leading formations.

June16Orders

Had those orders stood, four corps – First, Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth – and the reserve artillery would converge on Leesburg. But Major-General Joseph Hooker’s appreciation for the situation changed overnight. Sensing reports of Confederate movements in Maryland were exaggerated (“rumor” was the word out of his headquarters), Hooker ordered his cavalry to start probing towards Aldie.

And army headquarters adjusted the march orders. Second Corps was to, “encamp in the vicinity of Sangster’s Station to-night. Sixth Corps at Fairfax Station, Twelfth Corps at Dranesville, Eleventh Corps at Guilford Station. First Corps at Goose Creek, Fifth Corps at Gum Springs, Third Corps at Centreville; headquarters near Fairfax Station.” However, as Major-General John Reynolds pointed out, army headquarters had confused the routes of First and Eleventh Corps. Coordinating with Major-General O. O. Howard, he switched the designated stops for the respective corps. With the changes to the march, the infantry and cavalry forces took up these general positions in Loudoun and adjacent Fairfax County (the county boundary, in case you don’t recognize it, is the dashed line running from upper right starting at the Potomac above Drainesville):

June17Positions

Not depicted on the map is the cavalry division of Major-General Julius Stahel. My excuse is that division was not with the Army of the Potomac at the time in question, but rather part of the Washington Defenses. Furthermore, I’d have to break out symbols for regiments as Stahel’s troopers were scattered all about. However, one of those detachments performed a valuable duty on June 17 by patrolling into Leesburg, verifying no Confederate force was there.

By late evening, Major-General Daniel Butterfield, Army Chief of Staff, summarized the situation in an update to Major-General Alfred Pleasonton, commanding the Cavalry Corps:

General Howard is at Goose Greek (Trappe Rock mill-dam and canal lock). ….

The advance of the infantry is suspended until further information of the enemy’s movements. Two regiments of Stahel move early to-morrow morning to Warrenton, Sulphur Springs, Rappahannock Station, &c. ….

If Lee’s army is in rear of his cavalry, we shall move up by forced marches with the infantry. Give us any indications of it as soon as possible.

In other words, the Army of the Potomac had to pause. Sure, we know well that one corps of the Army of Northern Virginia was already crossing the Potomac, and two more were marching fast for Maryland. But Hooker didn’t know that… or at least didn’t know it as fact. Put yourself in his shoes for a moment, and think about his primary responsibility – Washington.

For June 17, the itinerary of the Army of the Potomac stated:

The First Corps marched from Manassas Junction to Herndon Station; the Second Corps from Wolf Run Shoals to Sangster’s Station’, the Third Corps from Manassas Junction to Centreville; the Fifth Corps from Manassas Junction to Gum Springs; the Eleventh Corps from Centreville to Cow-Horn Ford, or Trappe Rock, on Goose Creek; and the Twelfth Corps from Fairfax Court-House to near Dranesville. The Cavalry Corps moved from Manassas Junction and Bull Run to Aldie.

One additional force, too small to mention in the itinerary, but which Butterfield noted in his letter to Pleasonton is worth mention. The regular engineer battalion, with bridging equipment, would move up to the Mouth of the Monocacy. Captain Charles Tunbull and his men were due to arrive the next day.

So as the sunlight faded 150 years ago today, the Army of the Potomac had two infantry corps and the cavalry corps camped in Loudoun, with two more corps just over the county line. The marches in Loudoun had just begun.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 27, Part I, Serial 43, page 142; Serial 45, pages 151-2, 171, and 177.)