Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – Wisconsin artillery sections

Below the numbered batteries from Wisconsin, in the third quarter of 1863 summaries, are four lines based on returns submitted from sections directly assigned to cavalry or infantry regiments:


One of these is a carry over from the previous quarter.  Another matches to an entry from way back in the fourth quarter of 1862:

  • Battery attached to 3rd Cavalry: Reporting at Van Buren, Arkansas with no cannon.  But inferred, based on the ammunition reported (below), is the presence of 12-pdr mountain howitzers.  At this time of the war, the regiment was part of the District of the Frontier.  Colonel William A. Barstow commanded.  Minus some detachments, the regiment was at Fort Blunt (Fort Gibson), Cherokee Nation, in July 1863. After a busy summer and early fall, the regiment moved to Van Buren (accross the Arkansas River from Fort Smith) in early November. As far back as mid-1862 the regiment operated with a pair of mountain howitzers.  The regiment brought that section to Prairie Grove in December 1862.  But the lack of annotation here leaves questions.  What we can confirm from this entry is at a minimum the regiment retained stores through the fall of 1863, if not the howitzers themselves, at Van Buren… which brings us to the next entry….
  • Company C, 3rd Cavalry: No location given, but reporting one 12-pdr mountain howitzer.  This is one of those entries where other sources not only provide validation but point to a prominent role of the artillery piece.  Captain Edward R. Stevens commanded Company C, which was detached from the regiment and operating out of Fort Scott, Kansas.  A detachment (of men from Companies C and D, plus some Kansas USCT) under Lieutenant James B. Pond occupied Fort Blair (also called Fort Baxter), at Baxter Springs, Kansas.  Pond’s command included on mountain howitzer.  On October 6,  William Quantrill’s raiders attacked the fort.  Pond organized a hasty, but effective defense, centered around that howitzer.  While part of Quantrill’s force attacked the fort, the other wing encountered Major-General James Blunt and escort, who happened to be moving his headquarters from Fort Scott to Fort Smith at that time.  Blunt’s column was routed with over 100 killed. Though the general escaped, the incident was deemed a “massacre” in Federal accounts.  Despite demands and threats, Pond held out at Fort Blair.  In 1898, Pond received the Medal of Honor in recognition for his stand that day.
  • Section, Artillery, attached to 2nd Cavalry: Reporting at Fort Smith, Arkansas with two 12-pdr mountain howitzers. In September 1863, Colonel Thomas Stephens, of the regiment, was in command of a small brigade of cavalry assigned to Seventeenth Corps, then operating at Vicksburg.  Only eight companies were with Stephens. The other four companies formed a battalion under Major William H. Miller, which operated in Missouri.  This brings up a question about the reported location. The battalion remained part of the Rolla, Missouri garrison well into the fall of 1864, serving in the District of Rolla, Department of Missouri. There is no mention of movement to Fort Smith.  So this may be a transcription error.  One has to wonder if the clerks confused the 2nd and 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry. 
  • Detachment, 30th Infantry: I interpret their location as as “Indian expedition, Dakota Territory.”   The regiment reported four 6-pdr field guns (down from six) on hand.  The 30th Wisconsin served in Major-General John Pope’s Department of the Northwest, providing troops for garrisons in the Districts of Wisconsin and Iowa.  Colonel Daniel J. Dill commanded the regiment.  A detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel Edward M. Bartlett, comprised of Companies D and F, were on duty at Fort Sully, Dakota Territory, through the fall.  If I had to guess, this would be the likely location of those guns.

So four stories from the Trans-Mississippi ranging from an infamous massacre to mundane garrison duties.  And between these four lines, barely a battery between them.  Let’s look to what ammunition was on hand:

  • 3rd Cavalry: 85 shell and 26 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • Company C, 3rd Cavalry: 30 shell, 36 case, and 36 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 2nd Cavalry: 76 case and 9 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.
  • 30th Infantry: 364 shot, 182 case, and 159 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

No rifled projectiles reported, of course.  But those sheets are posted for review (here, here, and here).   But there are small arms reported:

  • 2nd Cavalry: 75 breechloading carbines and 96 army revolvers.

That line from the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry has me wondering if the regiment simply submitted one return, covering both artillery and cavalry stories, as opposed to separate returns (as per regulation). 

These were the final lines in the third quarter 1863 summaries.  Before we move on to the last quarter’s summaries, let us account for the omissions.  We’ve discussed many of those “in line” with the state entries.  But there were a few others that fell between two chairs, so to speak.  Furthermore, I will also review the state of the heavy artillery at this stage of the war.  If for nothing else to say we’ve not cast our nets with prejudice.

April 1862… a pivotal month of the war

Today marks the 155th anniversary of the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter, generally called the “start” of the American Civil War.  I don’t know what to call the 155th other than just “155th.”  Likewise, I have no smart name for the 151st anniversaries of the surrender at Appomattox (last Saturday) or Lincoln’s assassination (coming Thursday).  Having just experienced the sesquicentennial years, I trust we are all aware that April 1861 and April 1865 serve as convenient bookends of the Civil War.  And thus we see a number of good, scholarly works aimed to explain the events from those months. That is, in my opinion, a focus well spent.  Yet, there is a lot of “in between” laying between those two Aprils which is also due focus.

One “in between” that has always struck my fancy is April 1862.  Just a lot of moving parts in that spring month.  Consider –

  • April 4- Major-General George McClellan lead the Army of the Potomac up the Peninsula toward Confederate defenses at Yorktown.
  • April 6 – General Albert Sidney Johnston’s army struck Major-General U.S. Grant’s force camped around Pittsburg Landing.
  • April 7- Major-General John Pope landed a force at Watson’s Landing, on the Tennessee shore below New Madrid, Missouri, and behind Island No. 10.
  • April 10 – Federal batteries directed by (then) Captain Quincy Gillmore opened fire on Fort Pulaski.
  • April 12 – James Andrews hijacked the locomotive General at Big Shanty, Georgia.
  • April 17 – Major-General Nathaniel Banks occupied New Market, Virginia, with Major-General Thomas Jackson’s command falling back to the vicinity of Harrisonburg.
  • April 18 – Federal fleet under Commodore David Farragut began bombardment of Forts Jackson and St. Philip downstream from New Orleans. Days later the fleet would run past those forts.
  • April 26 – After a month long siege, Confederates surrendered Fort Macon on the North Carolina coast.

Those being, mostly, start or end points of longer campaigns or operations.  The conclusions seen were:

  • A prolonged siege at Yorktown.
  • Over 23,000 casualties and a major Confederate reverse at Shiloh.
  • Some 7,000 Confederates captured at Island No. 10 and the Mississippi laid open south nearly (Fort Pillow) to Memphis.
  • New Orleans lost to the Confederacy – both as a port and manufacturing center.
  • Savannah mostly closed as a port.
  • The coast of North Carolina, save Wilmington, under Federal control.  As were large portions of the Shenandoah Valley, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

I added the Great Locomotive Chase entry as it had some impact on the Confederate logistic system at the time.

Furthermore, in a era without the benefit (or handicap) of the 24-hour news cycle, the timing of that raid reminds us how these events were connected in time. Imagine the newspaper headlines each morning, as the events unfolded.  In learning about the war, we approached the initial study by chapters… nicely defined chapters covering specific campaigns.

But unfortunately a format that failed to give us that appreciation for how those events were experienced – real time.  Those of us who waded into the sesquicentennial gained much from “real time, 150 years after the fact” following.  And I do hope that added to the perspective of many.  However I think in general that historians have not done enough to demonstrate the connection between these events and how such factored into the course of the war.  Nor have us students done enough to bring out those connections in our studies.  Thus several logical, time-line groupings of events have not received due attention.  There were several pivotal weeks and months in which the course of the war turned.

April 1862 was one of them.  The war entered its first mature campaign season… from the plains of Kansas to the Atlantic Ocean (and beyond).  And given the victories cited above, April 1862 might have been a turning point sending the Confederacy to an early end.  As a “western theater guy” I am fond of saying the Confederates lost the war at Shiloh on the night of April 6, 1862 and the Federals won the war atop Missionary Ridge on November 24, 1863.  Easterners will disagree, but the fact is defeat at Shiloh broke the back of the Confederate army in the west.  Shiloh set-up Vicksburg.  Vicksburg set-up Chattanooga and that Missionary Ridge thing.  Missionary Ridge set-up Atlanta.  And from Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston, Columbia, and Fayetteville … and set-up Appomattox. The long way around, to be sure.  But that’s how my “western-centered” perspective views it… feel free to disagree.

Yet from the opposite side of the coin, April 1862 was also an important set-up for the Confederacy. Consider the closures… or results… from some of those Federal actions:

  • The Army of the Potomac invested Yorktown, not taking that place until the first days of May.
  • Major-General Henry Halleck took direct control of the advance toward Corinth, Mississippi, concentrating forces across the western theater for a slow pursuit.  The Crossroads of the Confederacy would not be in Federal hands until the end of May.
  • Major-General Samuel Curtiss, due to logistic constraints and in spite of a victory at Pea Ridge in March, fell back into Missouri.

This turn of events, again happening concurrently, gave openings and created angles which the Confederates could exploit. One of those, of course, being Jackson’s Valley Campaign.  That campaign, and actions on other fronts, setup six months in which the Confederacy would reach its zenith… and take the war onto northern soil.

Maybe April 1862 was not the turning point it could have been.  And maybe it was not the most important thirty days of the Civil War.  But I submit it was a pivotal month in the course of the war.

150 Years Ago: A photo that speaks to us today

Often we can point to a spot on the battlefield, or a document, or in my case a cannon, and then make a direct sesquicentennial link. Today, let me turn to an iconic photograph taken on this day (August 19) in 1862:

Better details in the stero-view, although through the cracked negative:

John Hennessy discussed this photograph in detail on his Fredericksburg Remembered blog (here and here and here). This photo, among the most widely reproduced of the war, captures a scene at Tin Pot Run Ford on August 19, 1862. The Army of Virginia, under General John Pope, was in full retreat that day. According to those orders captured at Verdiesville, the Confederates aimed to capture or destroy the railroad bridge, seen in the background of the photo (or more accurately, the modern equivalent of), and cut off the Federal line of supply.

Timothy O’Sullivan took this photo during that retreat. But the soldiers at the ford are the side story. The focus of the photographer’s lens were the fugitives and their wagon. John Hennessy examined in detail the riders on the wagon and the boy on horseback. As he speculated, this could be a group of escaped slaves fleeing north; or a family of free blacks seeking to avoid the war. Are those the family’s belongings in the wagon? Or army material?

O’Sullivan composed (as I don’t think he “posed” this scene) the camera view to focus our attention on a particular subject. Although the technology was new, well established was the relation between pictures and 1000 words. While perhaps not the “photo essays” of later generations, the photograph speaks to us today. The reason this image appears in books and on blogs with regularity is the activity frozen in time. On one black-and-white glass plate, there is the cause and the result of the Civil War. The link between civil war and civil rights is rarely demonstrated with such proximity – at both physical and temporal levels.

So when my friend Clark “Bud” Hall mentioned a visit to the site where O’Sullivan took this photo, I was all in. While perhaps a minor, somewhat wonkish (if not obsessive) sesquicentennial occasion, the experience does connect directly to the past in a unique way. We timed our trip to around mid day. I figure, given the shadows seen in O’Sullivan’s photo, the original was taken sometime in the early afternoon.

Tin Pot Run Ford… 150 years to the day, if not hour and second, from the time the photo was taken:

Rappahannock Station 19 Aug 12 005

For perspective, here’s a copy of the O’Sullivan photo, held out by my pal Mike Block:

Rappahannock Sta 19 Aug 12 013

Update: Had to move the photos to Flickr for better viewing.  The down side to “mobile blogging”, given the current WordPress iOS software, is the photos are never well placed on the page.

150 Years Ago: Lee’s First Lost Order

On this morning of August 18, 150 years ago, General J.E.B. Stuart received an abrupt awakening outside Verdiersville, Virginia:

… I was aroused from the porch where I lay by the noise of horsemen and wagons, and walking out bareheaded to the fence near by, found that they were coming from the very direction indicated for General F. Lee. I was not left long in this delusion, however, for two officers, Captain Mosby and Lieutenant Gibson, whom I sent to ascertain the truth, were fired upon and rapidly pursued. I had barely time to leap upon my horse just as I was, and, with Major Von Borcke and Lieutenant Dabney, of my staff, escaped by leaping a high fence. The major, who took the road, was fired at as long as in sight, but none of us were hurt. There was no assistance for 10 miles. Having stopped at the nearest woods, I observed the party approach and leave in great haste, but not without my hat and the cloak which had formed my bed. Major Fitzhugh, in his searches for General Lee, was caught by this party and borne off as a prisoner of war…. (OR, Series I, Volume 12, Part II, Serial 16, page 726)

A marker, in Orange County just off Virginia Highway 20, bear witness to this small cavalry fight. Not much compared to the larger battles to come in the following weeks. But with some important implications. The marker, like many accounts of this event, focuses upon Stuart’s lost hat and his revenge.

Orange  Jan 5 08 144

The “hat story” is one of those pleasing stories of the war that seem to charm us away from the horror of the times. I’ll retell it here, as it becomes somewhat obligatory… but will be brief…

Meeting on the Cedar Mountain battlefield under a truce after the battle, Stuart bet Federal General Samuel Crawford that the northern press would bill the fight as a Union victory. True to his word, Crawford forwarded after the Yankee newspaper headlines ran. As indicated in his official report, Stuart lost the hat during the confusion on the morning of August 18. Somewhat embarrassed by this loss, particularly with the reaction of his troopers, Stuart vowed revenge. On August 22, he got that revenge when leading a raid on Catlett Station. Among the spoils was General John Pope’s dress uniform. Appeals for a trade fell on deaf ears. So Stuart was content to simply send the uniform to Richmond for display.

Nice story, but distracts us from the more important loss to the Confederates – papers carried by Major Norman Fitzhugh. Included in the documents were orders outlining General Robert E. Lee’s plan to cut off and defeat Pope’s Army of Virginia between the Rapidan and Rappahannock Rivers. With this information and intelligence from other sources, Pope hastily withdrew from the advance position. He fell back to positions on the north bank of the Rappahannock. Good, defensible terrain.

One might argue the withdrawal only delayed the inevitable clash of armies, within a series of cause-and-effect events leading back to Manassas. But the withdrawal did mean Pope’s command was not beaten at a point deep in Virginia where retreat into the Washington defense perimeter was impossible. Like the more famous one lost less than a month later outside Frederick, Maryland, the orders lost at Verdiersville changed the nature of a campaign.

Another point that is also often overlooked is the Federal perspective on the action. Colonel Thornton F. Brodhead accomplished this raid, nearly capturing Stuart and Mosby mind you, with the 1st Michigan and 5th New York Cavalry. Both units the southerners would meet on other battlefields. And the man who’d dispatched them on the raid was General John Buford. The Union cavalry was, even at this early stage of the war, showing signs of competence. The blue troopers could equal, and some times best, their gray counterparts when well lead. And those Yankee horse soldiers would only get better with age.

150 Years Ago: Pope backs off the “Hard War” just a bit

When discussing General John Pope’s brief, but storied, time leading the Army of Virginia, we hear a lot about General Orders No. 5. Many times I’ve heard the opening lines repeated, with emotional emphasis, “Hereafter, as far as practicable, the troops of this command will subsist upon the country in which their operations are carried on.”

The order included some “fine print”, if you will, which described a process by which the Army of Virginia will gather supplies from the country it was operating within. If you read the orders literally, the officers were to manage the acquisition of these supplies. Where the owners were rightful, loyal citizens they would receive compensation – vouchers. As Robert pointed out last month, these points in the orders became important ingredients for Southern Claims after the war.

On surface, the purpose for all this acquisition was to ease the stress on Pope’s supply system… which, by the way, was subject to regular interruption by irregular activity. Now let’s cast aside the notion that the civilians of Northern Virginia lead some bucolic life in the midst of a war. Both sides had collected sustenance from the rich farmlands of Loudoun Valley, the Shenandoah, and the Piedmont. And if you think all the “collecting” was justly compensated, read up on the Unionists around Waterford. But of course Pope pushed the boundaries of the “acquisition” process in the summer of 1862. But it also reduced the resources that the Army of Northern Virginia could draw upon. Still, General Orders No. 5 was not, on its face, an official sanction for looting.

But we can be forgiven if we stretch General Orders No. 5 to give a “liberal foraging” license to Pope’s prototypical bummers. Apparently even Pope’s officers and men misinterpreted it too. Hence on this day (August 14) in 1862, Pope issued General Orders No. 19, clarifying the policy:

Headquarters Army of Virginia,
Near Cedar Mountain, Va., August 14, 1862.

The major-general commanding discovers with great dissatisfaction that General Orders, No. 5, requiring that the troops of this command be subsisted on the country in which their operations are conducted, has either been entirely misinterpreted or grossly abused by many of the officers and soldiers of this command. It is to be distinctly under stood that neither officer nor soldier has any right whatever, under the provisions of that order, to enter the house, molest the persons, or disturb the property of any citizen whatsoever.

Whenever it is necessary or convenient for the subsistence of the troops, provisions, forage, and such other articles as may be required will be taken possession of and used, but every seizure must be made solely by the order of the commanding officer of the troops then present and by the officer of the department through which the issues are made. Any officer or soldier who shall be found to have entered the house or molested the property of any citizen will be severely punished. Such acts of pillage and outrage are disgraceful to the army, and have neither been contemplated nor authorized by any orders whatsoever; the perpetrators of them, whether officers or soldiers, will be visited with a punishment which they will have reason to remember; and any officer or soldier absent from the limits of his camp found in any house whatever, without a written pass from his division or brigade commander, will be considered a pillager and treated accordingly. Army corps commanders will immediately establish mounted patrols, under charge of commissioned officers, which shall scour the whole country for 5 miles around their camps at least once every day, and at different hours, to bring into their respective commands all persons absent without proper authority, or who are engaged in any interruption of citizens living in the country; and commanding officers of regiments, or smaller separate commands, will be held responsible that neither officers nor men shall be absent from camp without proper authority.

By command of Major-General Pope:
Assistant Adjutant-General.

General Orders No. 5, being rather short and to the point, failed to clearly relate the commander’s intent. Pope issued General Orders No. 19 to correct that. What I find significant is not the refinement of a policy, but rather the tone used throughout the order. Pope openly complained, to his command mind you, of their improper acts. He offered out-right condemnation. If Pope angered some, when assuming command, with his candid remarks about their military prowess, he did little to assuage that anger with General Orders No. 19. One could easily read “general punishment for the acts of a few” into the words of this general order.

And at the tactical level, one has to wonder how much attention those daily patrols, five miles around each camp, diverted from the task at hand. At this very same time, General Robert E. Lee came to the Rappahannock looking for an opportunity to punish Pope and his army… in no small part due as reaction to General Orders No. 5.

150 years ago: Pope picks the right man… Buford!

On this day (July 27) in 1862, Major General John Pope’s headquarters posted Special Orders No. 25. Sections seven and eight of those orders are reproduced in the Official Records:

VII. Brig. Gen. J. P. Hatch, U.S. Volunteers, is relieved from duty with the Second Corps d’ Armée, and will report, without delay, for duty to Brigadier-General King, commanding at Fredericksburg, to be assigned to the brigade lately commanded by Brig. Gen. C.C. Augur.

VIII. Brig. Gen. John Buford, jr. U.S. Volunteers, will report for duty as chief of cavalry to Major-General Banks, commanding Second Corps d’ Armée.

Pope’s order moved Buford out of a position with the Inspector General’s office (which was Buford’s choice if I remember correctly) into a field command.

Say what you will about John Pope. Maybe he was a bag of hot air. But without Pope’s special order this does not happen:

Well… maybe that’s a overly dramatic depiction and interpretation. But you get the picture.

150 Years Ago: Pretentious Pope addresses his command

Chances are you’ve seen a quote or two from this address, issued 150 years ago today (July 16, 1862):

By special assignment of the President of the United States I have assumed the command of this army. I have spent two weeks in learning your whereabouts, your condition, and your wants, in preparing you for active operations, and in placing you in positions from which you can act promptly and to the purpose. These labors are nearly completed, and I am about to join you in the field.

Let us understand each other. I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies; from an army whose business it has been to seek the adversary and to beat him when he was found; whose policy has been attack and not defense. In but one instance has the enemy been able to place our Western armies in defensive attitude. I presume that I have been called here to pursue the same system and to lead you against the enemy. It is my purpose to do so, and that speedily. I am sure you long for an opportunity to win the distinction you are capable of achieving. That opportunity I shall endeavor to give you. Meantime I desire you to dismiss from your minds certain phrases, which I am sorry to find so much in vogue amongst you. I hear constantly of “taking strong positions and holding them,” of “lines of retreat,” and of “bases of supplies.” Let us discard such ideas. The strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy is one from which he can most easily advance against the enemy. Let us study the probable lines of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of themselves. Let us look before us, and not behind. Success and glory are in the advance, disaster and shame lurk in the rear. Let us act on this understanding, and it is safe to predict that your banners shall be inscribed with many a glorious deed and that your names will be dear to your countrymen forever. (OR, Series I, Volume 12, Part III, Serial 18, pages 473-4.)

Many cite this as an example of John Pope’s arrogant, and somewhat ignorant behavior. Usually you will see mention of “headquarters” and “hindquarters,” or some such quip. This is, in my opinion, superficial armchair generalship. Such bypasses a deep understanding of the dynamic between commanders and their troops.

Consider a commander in a different war far away in time and geography. In December 1950, General Matthew B. Ridgway took command of the Eighth U.S. Army under some dire circumstances. After a victorious advance into North Korea, the entry of Chinese troops precipitated the largest rout in American history. This was not just a division or corps taking flight – an entire army in full retreat. Ridgway’s predecessor, General Walton Walker, was killed in a traffic accident. And everyone from general down to private suspected Walker was on the way out prior to his death. Morale was rock bottom. The cold Korea winter sapped the strength of the fighting force. The enemy appeared everywhere across the front, in overwhelming numbers. Overwhelming allied airpower failed to blunt the Chinese attack. Even the US Marine Corps had to make up some story about “attacking in a different direction” to explain their retreat.

Immediately upon assuming command, Ridgway issued numerous statements, directed both to his troops and to his staff, directing “no more retreats.” He fired staff officers who even considered options to fall back. Every chance he could, Ridgway sought to instill an offensive spirit, shaming those who spoke about the situation with any hint of concession. And just like Pope, Ridgway’s men received their new commander with some misgivings.

“Old Iron Tits” they called him, referencing the habit of carrying a grenade on his web gear. More an act of showmanship than anything practical, that grenade sent a message – this general was not fighting the war from some cushy rear headquarters. Putting one’s “headquarters in the saddle” so to speak.

Ridgway’s words and posturing did not differ, in their contextual sense, greatly from that of Pope… save one. Ridgway, a commander with great success leading elite airborne troops in World War II, did not dare make a comparison to his previous commands.

In mid-February 1951, the 23rd Regimental Combat Team of the 2nd US Infantry Division (along with a battalion of French infantry) put Ridgway’s resolve into reality at a lonely hill called Chipyong-ni.

This battle (which too few Americans recognize today) is cited as a “Gettysburg” and not a “Cedar Mountain” of the Korean War. Ridgway followed up the bravery exhibited at places like Chipyong-Ni with well led and directed attacks. There would be no “Second Manassas” under Ridgway’s watch. Perhaps in any other situation, Ridgway would have continued in battlefield triumph. But higher level considerations tempered further military options. Still, Ridgway’s resolve ensured the war did not end with battlefield defeat. Stalemate maybe, but not defeat.

Commanders in war often turn to words we might consider, out of context, to be pretentious, arrogant, or bombastic. Leaders such as Ridgway (or Patton, or Wellington, or Washington) do such, and we uphold those words. We select passages in books of quotes as examples of iron conviction to inspire. Leaders such as Pope, on the other hand, see their bold proclamations stomped upon as examples of foolishness to be avoided.

Good scholarly study of military history should lead us to understanding why the words that failed for Pope in 1862 would prove successful for Ridgway in 1951. The difference between Pope and Ridgway was, if we may speak bluntly, that the latter gentleman had the skills and experience to back up the bravado. Maybe Pope knew how to manage an army, but Ridgway knew how to lead an army.