Soldiers’ Directory of Public Offices, Charleston, January 1864

On January 1, 1864, the Charleston Courier ran this listing of public offices on column six of the first page:


A lengthy list, but providing locations – in some cases the address – of all the important military offices, some government offices, and several hospitals.

Several years ago, when first encountering, I marked this of interest but really didn’t attach much importance.  While nice to know just where a general’s headquarters were located, in context of the Charleston campaign those are not as critical as, say, the same general’s headquarters at First Manassas or Shiloh.  After all, at Charleston, General P.G.T. Beauregard was not living out of a tent.  He had the luxury of a roof over his head, a bed, and a place to sit for breakfast.

One has to wonder why the paper would openly post such detailed information about military headquarters and offices.  Certainly this was useful information for Confederate soldiers and citizens of Charleston. But this issue of the paper was undoubtedly in Federal hands within a few days (if not the same day!).  And such detailed information about Confederate military offices was very useful to the men directing those Parrott rifles on Morris Island.

But the more I thought about those listings, the more I thought about the locations as part of the “set dressing” which the historian need consider.  The staff offices, in particular, were where Confederate Army’s business was conducted.  Knowing where those were, and importantly the physical proximity to other staff offices, gives us at least some small measure.

That said, let me take the Christmas Bombardment map from earlier posts and add to that indicators for these public offices:


As indicated, I’ve left the rough area of the “burnt district” and the area receiving attention of the Federal bombardments.  Yes, the Confederates kept their “business” out of the targeted area.  In fact most of the offices were clustered north of Cahloun Street and east of King Street.  In fact, I had to stack the ovals and circles so closely that many are “general” locations as opposed to specific street addresses.  So take these with that grain of salt. And by all means, if you have information that might improve the map, please drop a comment on this post.

Further, keep in mind this map is “off plumb” as I say, with the true north orientation actually not the top.  Rather we have to turn the map about thirty degrees to the left for proper orientation.

Let me crop the map for better visibility here:


Here’s my transcription from the directory, keyed to the numbers on the map:

  1. Headquarters of General P.G.T. Beauregard, southwest corner of Meeting and John Streets.
  2. Major General Jeremy Gilmer, Deputy Commander of District, No. 12 Charlotte Street.
  3. Chief Engineer, Colonel David Harris, northwest corner Charlotte and Alexander Streets.
  4. Chief of Artillery, Colonel A.J. Gonzales, 46 Rutledge Street.  (The map location is a guesstimate on my part, going the fourth block up on that street.)
  5. Quartermaster, Major Motte A. Pringle, Chapel Street, opposite Alexander.  Near the Northeastern Railroad terminal.
  6. Provost Marshal, Captain W. J. Gayer, Northeast corner King and Hudson Streets.
  7. Ordnance, Colonel John R. Waddy, southeast corner Charlotte and Elizabeth Streets, second story.
  8. Commander, Fifth Military District, Colonel Alfred Rhett, Washington Street, near Charlotte.
  9. Chief Quartermaster, Major Hutson F. Lee, Wragg Square.
  10. Staff Engineer, Captain Francis D. Lee, Alexander Street, one door north of Charlotte.
  11. Commissary, Department of SC, GA, and FL, Major Ferdinand Molley, Railroad Office, Ann Street, north side.
  12. Post Quartermaster, Captain John Kennedy, Tax in Kind, Hudson Street, near King.
  13. Chief of Subsistence, Engineer Department, Captain J.S. Ryan, northeast corner King and Citadel Square. (Likely in the same building as the Quartermaster office, #6 above.)
  14. Quartermaster, Captain George J. Crafts, King Street, near Spring.
  15. Soldiers’ Transportation Office, King Street, near Spring.  Three blocks down from the Southern Carolina Railroad passenger terminal.
  16. Naval Station Commander, Commodore Duncan Ingraham King Street, near Calhoun, west side.
  17. Paymaster, Army Department, Charlotte Street, southeast corner from Elizabeth Street.  (Perhaps co-located with the Ordnance office, #7.)
  18.  Chief Engineer, South Carolina, Major William Echols, 472 King Street, two doors south of Post Office.
  19. Quartermaster, Major Edward Willis, Wagg Square (along with #9).
  20. Negro Labor, Chief Superintendent R.L. Singletary, Meeting Street, west side, two doors south of Ann.  (I believe that is also the office of the Charleston & Savannah Railroad, which Singletary was president)
  21. Medical Purveyor, Dr. Thomas Lining,  10 Charlotte Street, north side.
  22. Medical Director, South Carolina District, Dr. N.S. Crowell, 570 King Street, east side.
  23. Medical Examining Board, 572 King Street, east side (next to the Medical Director’s office, #22.)
  24. Medical Director, Department SC, GA, and FL, Dr. R L. Brodie, southeast corner of Meeting and John Streets.  Brodie was long associated with Beauregard, and close to the general’s headquarters.
  25. Naval Paymaster, Charlotte Street, southeast corner of Elizabeth. (My map is cluttered, and the oval for this one is placed on the street at that location.)
  26. Commissary, Fifth Military District, Captain E. A. Rabb, the Church, corner of Elizabeth and Chapel Streets.
  27. Post Office, corner of King and Ann Streets.
  28. Charleston Courier office, corner of Meeting and Reid Streets.
  29. Charleston Mercury office, King Street, east side, one door from Hudson Street.
  30. Confederate Sub-Treasury, W. Y. Leitch, corner of Meeting and Wragg Square.
  31. Telegraph office, second story, South Carolina Railroad Office, John Street, south side.
  32. Military Telegraph office, 8 Ashley Street, near the Arsenal.  (Location presented on the map is a guess on my part.)
  33. Southern Express office, Orphan House, entrance on Philip Street.
  34. Mayor’s Office, Orphan House, entrance on Calhoun Street.
  35. Quartermaster, 5th Military District, Captain S.R. Proctor (?), John Street, three doors west of Alexander.
  36. Wayside Home, W.J. Wiley, Steward, southwest corner of King and George Streets.  (Note how close to the shelled areas.)
  37. Wayside Hospital, Dr. Robert Lebby, Sr., Surgeon, King Street, opposite Cannon Street.
  38. Soldiers’ Relief Hospital, Dr. W. H. Harper, Surgeon, corner of Blake and Drake Streets.
  39. First Virginia and Roper Hospital, Dr. J.D. Burns, Surgeon, corner of Smith and Morris Streets.  (The hospital was a former lunatic asylum and often used for Federal prisoners.)
  40. First Georgia Hospital, Dr. W.H. Cummings, surgeon, corner of King and Vauderhorst Streets.
  41. First North Carolina Hospital, Dr. J.B. Baxley, surgeon, corner of Mary and America Streets.
  42. Third North Carolina Hospital, Dr. J.A. Harold, surgeon, between Elizabeth and Alexander Streets.
  43. First South Carolina Hospital, Dr. G.R.C. Todd, surgeon, Rikersville.  Off the map about four miles north of Charleston.
  44. Confederate Naval Hospital, Dr. W.F. Patton, surgeon, corner of Spring and King Streets.
  45. Negro Hospital, corner of Spring and Rutledge Streets.

Plotted on the map, there’s a new perspective to consider.  The clustering of quartermaster, commissary, and other supply related offices seems logical.  Many of them are in close proximity to the railroads, with some close between the depots and the wharves of the Cooper River.  But now it is possible to suggest the paths of correspondence around Beauregard’s staff, as well as between Beauregard’s headquarters and subordinate staffs.

Another good point to consider is the distribution of hospitals around Charleston.  If nothing else just the number of care facilities.

I am searching to see if a similar listing appeared for earlier periods in the war.  Would certainly be interesting to see if the Federal bombardment brought on the movement of offices.  As it stands, in January 1864, those offices were several blocks away from the most heavily hit sections of the city.

Lastly, let me again ask that if any reader has information that might refine the map, please drop a comment here.

(Source: Charleston Daily Courier, Friday, January 1, 1864, page 1, column 6.)


Sherman’s March, February 20, 1865: Howard instructs – “These outrages must be stopped at all hazards”

For a few days in late February 1865, Major-General William T. Sherman’s march through South Carolina seemed much more an administrative movement than a military operation.  Movement orders were cut.  The troops started each morning at the appointed time.  Foragers went out.  And guards remained alert.  But the Confederates did little to contest these movements. Sort of like a calm the day after a great storm..  February 20, 1865 was one of those march days.


The Left Wing set aim for Winnsborough that day.  The Fourteenth Corps, with their pontoon problems behind them, crossed the Little River at Ebenezer Meeting-House.  On their left, the Cavalry Division crossed the Broad River and reached Monticello. Brigadier-General H. Judson Kilpatrick noted, “Found that Wheeler had already crossed the river and was moving north to Chesterville.”   The Twentieth Corps complemented those other movements, completing their crossing of the Broad River and reaching a camp beyond the Little River that night.  Major-General John Geary described conditions on that day’s march:

February 20, my division in the center marched at 2 p.m., following the First Division; crossed Broad River on a long pontoon bridge at Freshly’s Mill and moved forward toward Winnsborough. A short distance from the river we crossed the Abbeville railroad, which is a cheap structure of stringer track and strap rail. Following a very miry and unfrequented road through woods and fields, we forded Little River, a deep, rapid stream thirty yards in width, and at Colonel Gibson’s house entered a main road to Winnsborough. Here, turning to our left, we moved forward on this road, which we found an excellent one, through a very hilly country, and encamped within nine miles of Winnsborough. The country on our route to-day was a rich one, and forage and supplies were plentiful. The soil was a good, rich loam, with subsoil of yellow or red clay; distance, seven miles.

The Right Wing also made progress marching in the direction of Winnsborough that day.  The Seventeenth Corps continued to chew up the Charlotte & South Carolina Railroad as it moved.  The Fifteenth Corps avoided clogging the roads behind the other corps by moving to the east.  The refugee train followed behind the Third Division (third in order of march that day) with the engineers close by to aid passage.  Orders called for a halt at Muddy Springs.  But due to poor water in that vicinity, the corps continued on for a few miles before going into camp.  Before leaving Columbia, Major-General John Logan had the rear guard sweep through the city.  Brigadier-General William Woods (First Brigade, First Division, Fifteenth Corps) “had driven all stragglers and camp followers before him and moved his command from the city in good order.”  Columbia was left to fend for itself.

On the 20th, Major-General Oliver O. Howard became very concerned about pillaging and robberies that he felt were out of order, and increasing in frequency.  In an effort abate these, Howard issued a rebuke that day:

I desire to call your attention to the fact that some of our soldiers have been committing the most outrageous robberies of watches, jewelry, &c. A case has come to my notice where a watch and several articles of jewelry were stolen by a foraging party under the eye of the commissioned officer in charge. Another, where a brute had violently assaulted a lady by striking her, and had then robbed her of a valuable gold watch. In one instance money was stolen to the amount of $150, and another, where an officer with a foraging party had allowed his men to take rings off the fingers of ladies in his presence. To-day a soldier was found plundering, arrested, placed under the guard of one of General Corse’s orderlies, and was liberated by some of his comrades who had arms in their hands, and who threatened the life of the guard. These outrages must be stopped at all hazards, and the thieves and robbers who commit them be dealt with severely and summarily. I am inclined to think that there is a regularly organized banditti who commit these outrages and who share the spoils. I call upon you and upon all the officers and soldiers under you, who have one spark of honor or respect for the profession which they follow, to help me put down these infamous proceedings and to arrest the perpetrators. Please furnish to every inspector, provost-marshal, and officer in charge of a foraging party a copy of this letter, and enjoin them to be on the watch to stop these infamous proceedings, and to bring to justice the individuals who commit them.

Again, there is no denying these offenses took place.  At the same time, one cannot claim authorities turned a blind eye.

On the Confederate side, the situation seemed chaotic.  The opportunity Lieutenant-General Wade Hampton saw two days earlier had lapsed. His cavalry fell back around Winnsborough. Major-General Benjamin Cheatham’s corps remained at Newberry that day, but received orders to move to Charlotte, North Carolina.  General P.G.T. Beauregard called for a concentration at that point.  He’d suggested General Braxton Bragg bring his command out of the Wilmington area to unite.  And fearing Sherman might intercept the forces withdrawn from Charleston, Beauregard ordered Lieutenant-General William Hardee (Major-General Lafayette McLaws being the field commander at that time) to move rapidly to Florence.  But to authorities in Richmond, Beauregard painted a dim picture of the situation:

There are so many roads in this section of country on which the enemy can move towards Charlotte it is impossible with my small force of infantry to remove or destroy all supplies.

To help Beauregard sort things out, in particular get the troops moving faster towards a concentration, Richmond sent Major-General Jeremy F. Gilmer to Charlotte, with instructions to “advise as to the movement of his forces, the roads most available to effect the earliest possible junction of his troops, which should be effected before a battle with the enemy is risked.”

One more great battle was in order before the Confederacy gave up on the Carolinas.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, pages 288, 687, and 859; Part II, Serial 99, pages 505-6 and 1229.)

“We can hardly expect the first through line can be repaired before the middle of February”: Fixing Georgia’s wrecked railroads

On January 3, 1865, Major-General Jeremy F. Glimer, Chief of the Confederate Engineer Bureau, provided an update on the progress of repairs to railroads damaged during the Savannah Campaign.  Addressed to the Secretary of War, James Seddon, the report broke out the status of important rail lines through Georgia:

I have the honor to report the following injuries to the main railroads in Georgia done by the enemy in General Sherman’s advance from Kingston to Savannah, viz:

First. Western and Atlantic road (Georgia State road): Track and bridges from Atlanta to Etowah River, inclusive, are destroyed. Beyond Etowah no injury of moment is reported. Length of track destroyed, about 46 miles; length of bridges at Chattahoochee and Etowah, 1,200 feet. The Governor of Georgia has sent his agents to examine and report as to the extent of injury to this road, the property of the State, but at the time of Captain Grant’s report, 16th of December, no portion of the repairs had been made. All the labor and materials that can be obtained by the Government will be first applied to the reconstruction of the Georgia road (from Augusta to Atlanta), and to the Atlanta and West Point road, with a view to get one connection as soon as possible.

Second. Georgia road: The work to be done on this road is comprised in three important bridges–one over the Oconee River, the other two over smaller streams–and thirty-eight miles of track. Of the latter, fifteen miles will require iron rails from other sources. About twenty-three miles of bent rails can be straightened. Cross-ties will be needed for twenty-five to thirty miles. The most favorable estimate as to time for finishing the repairs of this road is the middle of February. All the labor that can be had by temporary impressments and by impressments for twelve months has been assigned to this work, and to,

Third. Atlanta and West Point road: This road at last report was repaired to Palmetto from West Point; it will be finished as soon or sooner than the Georgia road.

Fourth. The Central Railroad of Georgia: This road, which connects Macon with Augusta via Millen, has been repaired to Gordon, where the branch to Milledgeville has its junction with the main road. Cars now run from Macon to Milledgeville. The Central road from Gordon to Millen is very seriously destroyed. Every effort is being made to induce the company to renew the road, but there are about 100 miles seriously injured; they cannot be repaired as soon as the roads leading through Atlanta. The best engineers that could be furnished from the command of General Beauregard are employed in rebuilding the roads; and General Beauregard has assured this bureau that he will give them every support, and that all that is possible will be done to hasten their completion. With every exertion and with all the assistance that can be brought to bear, we can hardly expect the first through line can be repaired before the middle of February next.

The bottom line addressed a question – how soon will trains run from Alabama to South Carolina?   Prior to the fall of Atlanta, one of the cornerstones to Confederate defense strategies was the ability to move troops from one theater to another as threats emerged.  Of course that changed with the fall of Atlanta.  And damage done in November-December practically cleaved the railroad system in half.

However, that was not to say the railroads were wrecked beyond repair.  As Gilmer’s status indicates, work to repair the roads pressed forward even as Sherman’s force was getting ready to leave Savannah.   Using that status, the map below indicates the area of broken railroads, in red:


With respect to operational needs in the winter months of 1865, the important parts were addressed in section four of Gilmer’s update – the Georgia Central.  If the line could be repaired to Millen and thence to Augusta, it was possible to shift what was left of the Army of Tennessee from Alabama to South Carolina by rail.   And if Sherman vacillated in Savannah for a month or more, Gilmer gained time to implement repairs to that line. Otherwise, the troops would have to travel part of that route on foot.

There are two interesting “between the lines” observations to make in regard to Gilmer’s prioritization of the repairs.   First, while he was able to “unbend” some of the rails, clearly he needed some of the Confederacy’s precious iron resources allocated to this task.  Instead of cannons or ship armor, the Confederacy was putting rails on the top of the list.

Second, consider the big chessboard here – Confederate authorities desired to move what remained of Hood’s army out of the Western Theater to reinforce the Carolinas.  The pressing threat was Sherman and everything – save the defenses of Richmond-Petersburg – would be stripped in the attempt to block his next move.

(Citation from OR, Series I, Volume 44, Serial 92, pages 1012-3.)

“Ironclads when commanded by daring men can run… past our batteries”: Savannah defenses

For some time I’ve focused on the defenses of Charleston, as they were 150 years ago, and less so on Savannah.  Both cities were considered critical to the Confederate war effort, though Savannah received less attention than the South Carolina port.  The Georgia port’s defenses continued to evolve along the lines proposed by Beauregard in late 1862.  But pressing concerns through 1863 and 1864 meant that Charleston received most of the heavy ordnance sent from Richmond.  And some of the heavy guns in Savannah’s defenses went to address needs around Charleston.

Early in the summer of 1864, Major-General Lafayette McLaws, commander of the District of Georgia (which included Savannah), requested additional heavy guns.  McLaws’ request called for guns to be placed on Skidaway, Whitemarsh, and Wilmington Islands to the southeast of Savannah.  These islands were analogous to John’s Island at Charleston – in between the Federal and Confederate out-posts, but offering a route by which the Federals might advance on the city or other critical points (and the Federals had demonstrated an interest in these islands).

McLaws’ request moved around offices in Richmond until it landed on the desk of Major-General Jeremy F. Gilmer, Chief of the Engineer Bureau.  On August 11, 1864, he responded to McLaws by way of his commander, Major-General Samuel Jones. Gilmer approved the allocation of guns, with two 10-inch columbiads ordered from the Ordnance Bureau and four more when available in Richmond. Gilmer also suggested Macon’s foundry might provide 8-inch columbiads.

As Gilmer had been McLaws’ predecessor in the post at Savannah, and was intimately aware of the situation there, Jones requested input as to the defensive arrangements.  And Gilmer had lots of input. And his input reflected the Confederate experience, by late war, defending the coastlines:

First. To supply the works of the more advanced lines will be difficult when we consider the deficiency of water transportation at Savannah.

This particular evaluation had cycled through extremes.  General Robert E. Lee, during his time on the coast, believed advanced lines were a waste of resources.  General Beauregard, on the other hand, had pressed for more resources to deprive the Federals of lodgement (as happened at Morris Island).  Gilmer had agreed with Beauregard, but by the summer of 1864 leaned back to the problem of insufficient resources.  In this case transportation resources.

Second. Very recent experience at Mobile demonstrates that the enemy’s iron-clads when commanded by daring men can run the gauntlet past our batteries. When this happens our untried garrisons become demoralized, and think of safety only by evacuating the works. Thus your heavy guns are all lost and in the hands of the enemy. This demoralization is the more certain to take place when garrisons are on islands with which the communications are not easy or safe.

The ironclads performance at Charleston was lackluster at best. I think Gilmer’s assessment closer to true north than some of the Federal opinions.  Had there been a “damn the torpedoes” leader at Charleston, things might have been different in 1863.  And at this time 150 years ago, the Confederacy was already taking stock of what was invested, and soon to be completely lost, in the defenses at Mobile Bay.

Third. As the line of defenses for Savannah is necessarily an extended one the facilities for concentration so as to get promptly our forces at the threatened point should be carefully considered. The new line proposed will place the troops in such a position as to render rapid concentration impossible. The enemy can, therefore, break through at any point before we are prepared to resist.

Gilmer would have approved of the Harry S. Truman Parkway that today connects many of the outer suburbs of Savannah.

His last point touched more upon tactics, and means to make the most of what was on hand:

Fourth. Instead of changing the positions for the heavy guns as now established, I would propose to retain them as they are, adding strength to the batteries, and make the occupation of the more advanced line one of siege and field artillery, say 20-pounder Parrotts and good Napoleons, that can be drawn in when concentration becomes necessary, or moved along the line as circumstances may demand. In anticipation of establishing such batteries good crossings from the Isle of Hope to Skidaway, and from Whitemarsh to Wilmington, should be established by bridges or otherwise. This should be the first step toward the re-occupation of Skidaway or Wilmington, and in my judgment the heavy guns under no circum stances should be changed from their present positions before such communications are secured.

Gilmer offered this summary of his assessment:

The question which you present is not a new one, and it has received the careful study of the various officers who have been in command at Charleston and Savannah, and taking all the bearings of the subject and admitting all the objections to the existing line, I am of the opinion that it will be better to leave it as it is than to make one of greater development when your forces are so small. I advise, therefore, that the additional guns about to be sent to Savannah be added to the present armament of existing works, adding such strength to them as your means will enable you to do, and limit the occupation of the two islands in advance to field and siege artillery with proper supports, even this occupation to be made only when the crossings have been established.

The chief problem with Gilmer’s assessment was what he didn’t know.  He’d spent much of the last few months focused on the defenses of Atlanta.  In the middle of August 1864, he might predict that city would eventually fall.  But he could not foresee that by year’s end the threat to Savannah would come from land approaches, and not from the coast.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 35, Part II, Serial 66, pages 605-6.)