Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – The Colorado Battery

Yes, indeed!  Colorado, a territory at the time, mustered an artillery battery during the Civil War.  Though, like a mountain stream, the story of that battery was not a straight line from start to finish.  For the second quarter, we noted a single entry line for a Colorado battery, reporting from Camp Weld, Colorado Territory.  And for the 3rd Quarter we find two entry lines (and the territory given a proper header):

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One battery, but separate lines for each section:

  • 1st Colorado Battery: With infantry stores at Camp Weld, Colorado Territories.
  • Section of 1st Colorado Battery: At Camp [Fort] Garland, Colorado Territories.

Let’s go back to this battery’s inception.  Operations into the fall of 1861 bore out the need for more troops to thwart any Confederate incursions and maintain order.  However, with pressing needs everywhere on the map, the Territory of Colorado looked to build such a force with resources on hand.  As the 2nd Colorado Infantry formed, one of its companies, under Captain William D. McLain, was detailed for artillery duty.  I’m not exactly sure as to why this decision was made.  At least one secondary source mentions bronze cannon purchased by McLain, and thus the company may have been one of the many “sponsored” units frequently seen early in the war.  At least initially, the battery was still considered a company within the 2nd Colorado Infantry.

But it was not officially sanctioned by the War Department in far away Washington, D.C.  That lead to the battery being disbanded, briefly, before being officially re-mustered in December 1862 with three year enlistments.  The battery appears on some records as McLain’s Independent Battery, but still being recruited and formed.  Aside from McLain, Lieutenants George S. Esyre and Horace W. Baldwin were ranking officers in the battery.

In February 1863, the battery appears, as the 1st Colorado Battery, on organizational listings for the Department of the Missouri, in the District of Colorado, at Fort Lyon, under McLain.  In June, the battery was still at Fort Lyon, but under Lieutenant Baldwin.  It appears McLain and Esyre were recruiting more men to complete the battery.

By July 31, a section under Baldwin was at Camp Weld.  Such implies the battery had cannon, and at least enough men trained to man two guns.  Though on the same organizational listing, McLain appears under the heading of “Recruiting parties within the District.”

Right around that time, McLain and his battery came under a great deal of scrutiny.  In the first place, nobody at the War Department recognized the battery as being formally mustered.  Furthermore, there was no indicated requirement, and thus no authorization, for a battery in the District of Colorado.  Thus, in the bureaucratic minds that determine such things, the battery was not supposed to be in the service.  So they directed it “un-mustered” or at least not brought onto the rolls.

Major-General John Schofield, in the Department of the Missouri, sensing McLain was working without sanction, or at worst hindering the war effort, sent out an order for the captain’s arrest on July 29.  Schofield called specific attention to proper reporting procedures, adding, “Unless officers comply with regulations and orders in making returns they are to be arrested and tried for disobedience of orders.”  At that time, McLain was on duty in Denver at a General Court Martial… not his own, per-say, but as an officer of the court.

With the War Department considering the battery a non-entity and Schofield looking to lock up the commander, the Colorado Battery’s service seemed at an end.  Orders were for the battery to disband.  McLain and some of his officers received dishonorable discharges.  The Rocky Mountain News, out of Denver, ran this short piece on October 14 about the fate of the battery:

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As is often the case with our news, this has only half the story and was actually a few weeks behind.  At the same time McLain was discharged and the battery thrown out, the War Department issued Special Orders No. 431, dated September 26.  Paragraph 29 specified:

Captain McLain’s Company, 2d Colorado Volunteer Infantry, is, under the special circumstances of the case, hereby recognized as an Independent Battery of Colorado Volunteer Artillery, and is hereby permanently detached from the Infantry organization.  The officers of the Company having been dishonorably discharged the service of the United States, the Governor of the Territory is hereby authorized to make new appointments for the Battery.

We can easily read between the lines in regard to the “special circumstances” as clearly the District of Colorado had need of some artillery.  But it is the last line which left open the path to redemption for McLain and his officers.  In effect, this order disbanded the battery but directed it be reorganized.  And the authority for that reorganization was left to the Territorial Governor, John Evans.  And Evans would turn right back to McLain, Esyre, and Baldwin to lead the battery.

However, paperwork had to be filed and all had to be done at the pace allowed by bureaucracy.  Not until January 12, 1864, was McLain officially restored, the wording being “the disability regarding this officers is removed and is hereby mustered in by virtue of commission issued by his Excellency [Samuel Hitt] Elbert, Acting Governor of Colorado Territory.”  The order was post-dated to December 19, 1863.  (Elbert was the Territorial Secretary at that time, acting as Governor when Evans was away on business. Western history buffs will point out that Evans was later appointed territorial governor in the Grant administration, 1873-4.  But I’m wandering afield here.)

At any rate, this long narrative helps us establish a few administrative “facts” about the battery.  Technically, it was “un-mustered” and being “re-mustered” at the end of September 1863.  However, it did exist, with sections at Camp Weld and Fort Garland.  And give the officers credit, as they did submit their returns (perhaps wary of the wrath of Schofield).  The Ordnance Department received Camp Weld’s report on January 26, 1864.  And that of Fort Garland’s section on November 16, 1863.  Not bad for reports from the frontier!

Although no cannon were indicated on the return, some ammunition was:

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  • Fort Garland Section: 17 shell and 25 case for 12-pdr howitzers.

I’ll leave the determination of field or mountain howitzers open for discussion.  For the following quarter, the battery would report four 12-pdr mountain howitzers on hand.  There’s little doubt those were the same weapons McLain formed the battery with the previous year – be those owned by the territory or donated by subscription (which is perhaps why those howitzers were not reported in September 1863… as the tubes would then not be US government property and thus “off the books”).

No rifled projectiles reported (I’ve posted those pages here, here, and here, for those who desire to look at blank sections).  But there were small arms on hand to report:

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  • Fort Garland Section: Twelve Navy revolvers, twenty-eight cavalry sabers, and two horse artillery sabers.

As you can see, the story of this battery offers a lot of twists and turns.  And there will be more to discuss in the next quarter, with temporary officers assigned to the sections.  Furthermore, Lieutenant Baldwin had a little “adventure” of his own along with another brush with military authorities over the regulations!  But we’ll cover those points when the next quarter’s summary is due.

In the mean time, I’ll leave you to ponder this battery which was almost the casualty of a bureaucratic defeat.  This same battery would play a role – an active one – in the defeat of Price at Westport in October 1864.  Rather fortunate that the “special circumstances” were recognized and this battery was left to fight another day!

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“Conduct unbecoming” in Tony’s Saloon: Captain Michael Laux of the 2nd Missouri Artillery

Yesterday I gave you a bit of a teaser in the administrative section discussing the 2nd Missouri Artillery.  At the end of June, 1863, Captain Michael Laux, commander of Battery A, was under arrest and awaiting a hearing.  On the muster rolls, Laux’s status is simply – “Absent” and “Under arrest since February 27, 1863.”

Military things being what they were, when an officer is placed under arrest we are conditioned to expect some epic episode worthy of note… documented, of course, with a court marshal or other formal proceeding.  While there were all sorts of reasons for arrests, generally these fit into two broad categories – disobedience (not obeying orders) and misconduct.  And displays of misconduct more often than not are influenced by consumption of alcoholic beverages.  The case of Michael Laux fit into that latter category.

Laux was an immigrant, listed on the 1860 census as a carpenter originally from Bavaria, specifically the Rheinpfalz region.  At age 37, he lived in St. Louis with his wife Sibilla, aged 34.  They had two daughters, Margaretha and Mary, both born in Missouri and aged eight and six, respectively.

According to service records, Laux first joined the 1st US Reserve Infantry, Missouri Troops – a short enlistment early war formation – as a private.  He was commissioned a captain in the 2nd Missouri Artillery on September 26, 1861 and assigned to Battery A. The regimental book had Laux at five feet, 10 inches tall, with dark complexion, brown eyes, and dark hair.

Battery A’s service was mostly around St. Louis.  And it’s the winter of 1862 that we want to focus upon.  On February 5th of that year, Laux had… well… an incident:

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Transcription:

Headquarters, 2nd Mo. Art’y

St. Louis, Feb’y 1862

Charges and specifications against Capt. Michael Laux, Camp A, 2nd Mo. Art’y.

Charge. Conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Specification. In this that on Wednesday, the 5th day of February, he went into Tony’s Beer saloon, being drunk, and ordered the proprietor to shut up the saloon and also ordered the guests to leave, assuming the authority of the Provost Marshall and saying that he was acting under such authority – and that after he had ejected the guests from the place he himself remained to drink beer for over half an hour, thereby forcing the proprietor to act against the rules established by the Provost Marshall.  During all this time he having demeaned himself toward the proprietor as well as the guests in a very ungentlemanly manner. When he left the Beer saloon he went into the oyster saloon attached to Tony’s Beer saloon and there repeated the same treatment towards the proprietor and guests.

Henry Almstedt

Col., Commanding, 2nd Mo. Art’y.

Witnesses:

Captain F. Johnson, Comdg. Fort No. 4.

Theodore Kanfuian (?), Seinberger’s Hotel.

Dr. F. Tunghans (?), Seinberger’s Hotel.

Anton Niederwieser, Proprietor of Tony’s Tivoli.

Of the witnesses, those from Seinberger’s Hotel appear to be guests at the bar.  With the name, Niederwiser, we can trace the location of the incident to Tony Niederwiser’s Beer Garden and Billard Saloon, at 17 South 4th Street, between Market and Walnut Streets (according to the 1863 St. Louis City Directory).

No indication from the records what prompted Laux’s behavior.  He was taken into custody two days after the incident.  He was apparently released back to duty within a couple of weeks.  Then in May he was granted a furlough, then returned to duties.  Battery A was detached for service at Rolla, Missouri in July 1862, with Laux in command.  The battery returned to St. Louis in late January 1863.  Then on February 27, Laux was under arrest again.  It is not clear if this arrest was due to a new charge or related to the earlier incident.  But what is clear, Laux was in jail.

This time Laux remained in custody at least through September.  In July he was removed from the battery rolls.  In late September, his enlistment was up and, like others in the 2nd Missouri, was eligible for discharge.  In Laux’s case, it appears formal charges were never brought forward.  Instead, Laux was released, on September 28, 1863, to a board established to adjudicate those men from the 2nd Missouri then leaving service.  But Laux was not discharged, the department indicated there were accounts to settle.  This added insult to injury, as Laux was still formally IN the service but not being paid for being in service (since his term had run out).

In November, he wrote to the commander of the 2nd Missouri Artillery (which had essentially reformed), Colonel Nelson Cole:

It is now two months since I am waiting for the adjustment of my accounts by the Ordnance Department.  I am thereby in a bad situation.  Not discharged from the service yet, I am nevertheless restrained from accepting a citizen’s employment.  I would therefore most respectfully ask you to have me mustered out of the service at once, like my brother officers, who were under the same circumstances mustered out. …

Finally, on December 5, 1863, by orders of Major-General John Schofield, Laux was “honorably mustered out of service” with the proviso that his final pay would be held until all accounts were settled…. you know, the old “we’ll send you a check in the mail” routine.  Thus ended Laux’s military service.  He appears on the draft rolls for 1863, listed as a carpenter living on Carondelet Avenue (matching an 1864 city directory listing).

Post-war, Laux moved to 915 Shenandoah Street.  The 1870 census found him with his wife Sevilla, but now with two boys and a young girl – Jacob (9), Henry (6), and Phillipine (4).  Clearly Michael and Sevilla maintained a prosperous home.  What of Margaretha and Mary?  With both of age by 1870 (you know they married young back then), it is no big surprise to see them out of the house.  The oldest, Margaretha, died in Nevada in 1927.  But Mary is a mystery to me.

Laux applied, and received, a pension in 1887.  He was still at the Shenandoah Street address when he died of endocarditis on October 29, 1894.  Sevilla survived him and worked as a housekeeper until her death in April 1900.

Laux may have avoided major battles and thus lacks celebratory events in his service record.  There is little evidence for us to evaluate Laux’s ability or qualities.  Yet, there was honor attached to his service, even if clouded.  The weighty question is, what prompted the incident of February 5, 1863?

General Orders No. 46: Schofield’s rules for the government of freedmen

As we stop thinking about sesquicentennials of the Civil War and begin inquiring, quite naturally, about the Reconstruction period that followed, one of the threads which I hope to see more attention focused is the role the military played at that time.  As I’ve mentioned before, I think there is a significant (and overlooked) “military history” component to Reconstruction.  And I mean that from the perspective of traditional military history – how military forces operated.  No matter how triumphant the Federal armies were in 1865, the political goals set forth by those in Washington (be that Lincoln or Johnson) could only be achieved within the reach of the military forces in the south.  To implement anything – to include the dismantling of slavery – the military commanders had to operate on the ground.

Following the Confederate surrender, Major-General John Schofield held command of the Department of North Carolina and managed the early stages of Reconstruction there.  He issued, as generals are supposed to do, a series of General Orders outlining policies for his subordinates.   And, let us stress again these were subordinates who were implementing the nuts and bolts of reconstruction at its earliest stages.  Issued on May 15, 1865, General Orders No. 46 set forward the rules for dealing with the freedmen:

The following rules are published for the government of freedmen in North Carolina until the restoration of civil government in the State:

I. The common laws governing the domestic relations, such as those giving parents authority and control over their children and guardians control over their wards, are in force. The parents’ or guardians’ authority and obligations take the place of those of the former master.

II. The former masters are constituted the guardians of minors and of the aged and infirm in the absence of parents or other near relatives capable of supporting them.

III. Young men and women, under twenty-one years of age, remain under the control of their parents or guardians until they become of age, thus aiding to support their parents and younger brothers and sisters.

IV. The former masters of freedmen may not turn away the young or the infirm, nor refuse to give them food and shelter, nor may the able-bodied men or women go away from their homes, or live in idleness, and leave their parents, children, or young brothers and sisters to be supported by others.

V. Persons of age who are free from any of the obligations referred to above are at liberty to find new homes wherever they can obtain proper employment; but they will not be supported by the Government, nor by their former masters, unless they work.

VI. It will be left to the employer and servant to agree upon the wages to be paid; but freedmen are advised that for the present season they ought to expect only moderate wages, and where their employers cannot pay them money, they ought to be contented with a fair share in the crops to be raised. They have gained their personal freedom. By industry and good conduct they may rise to independence and even wealth.

VII. All officers, soldiers, and citizens are requested to give publicity to these rules, and to instruct the freed people as to their new rights and obligations.

VIII. All officers of the army, and of the county police companies, are authorized and required to correct any violation of the above rules within their jurisdiction.

IX. Each district commander will appoint a superintendent of freed-men–a commissioned officer–with such number of assistants–officers and non-commissioned officers–as may be necessary, whose duty it will be to take charge of all the freed people in his district, who are without homes or proper employment. The superintendents will send back to their homes all who have left them in violation of the above rules, and will endeavor to find homes and suitable employment for all others. They will provide suitable camps or quarters for such as cannot be otherwise provided for, and attend to their discipline, police, subsistence, &c.

X. The superintendents will hear all complaints of guardians or wards, and report the facts to their district commanders, who are authorized to dissolve the existing relations of guardian and ward in any case which may seem to require it, and to direct the superintend-eat to otherwise provide for the wards, in accordance with the above rules.

Some of these rules were somewhat “evident” policies to implement.  Yes, 21-year-olds were still considered wards of their parents.  But beyond those we see rules which to a large degree allow the land owners, mostly former slave owners, to retain control of resources.  And that left most of the freedmen in a position to depend upon the land owners with regard to livelihood.

The basis for these rules, and others issued by Schofield during this period, was the opinion of where reconstruction should start.  At the time, Schofield applied to Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant in that regard, suggesting to use the pre-war state governments as a starting point, adjusted for the changes wrought by the war.  Writing in his later years, Schofield explained his view:

The fundamental principles of my suggestion were:

First. The Constitution and laws as they were before secession, modified to embrace the legitimate results of the war—namely, national integrity and universal freedom.

Second. Intelligent suffrage, to be regulated by the States themselves; and

Third. Military governments, in the absence of popular civil governments, as being the only lawful substitute, under our system, for a government by the people during their temporary inability, from whatever cause, to govern themselves.

We might stand on firm ground to criticize Schofield’s G.O. No. 46 for allowing the establishment of a tenant system which perpetuated some of the ills of slavery. But on the other hand, we also must consider Schofield confronted with a situation and responded within the context of his military profession.  His goal was to restore order, first and foremost, so as to setup the next evolution… however authorities in Washington might decide.  Above all, the military mind will pursue the shortest path from chaos to order.  But more so, we see here the American military professional falling back to his fealty to the Constitution.

Of note, within a week, Schofield’s orders were adopted as policy for the Department of the South.  So these rules were applied to many parts across the south.

Schofield would lament, in those later years, that his proposed course was not taken:

But these constitutional methods were rejected. First came the unauthorized system of ‘provisional’ governors, civilians without any shadow of lawful authority for their appointments, and their abortive attempts at ‘reconstruction.’

Next the Fourteenth Amendment, disfranchising nearly all the trusted leaders of the Southern people, and then the ‘iron-clad oath,’ universal enfranchisement of the ignorant blacks, and ‘carpet-bag’ governments, with all their offensive consequences. If wise statesmanship instead of party passion had ruled the hour, how easily could those twelve years of misrule in the South, and consequent disappointment and shame among its authors in the North, have been avoided!

Again, we can stand on firm ground and criticize what Schofield proposed.  But we must also consider what his preferred end-state was here.  We would slip off that firm ground to say Schofield opposed enfranchisement of freedmen.  The truth lay somewhere between.  Was there a better alternative for Schofield to pursue? Indeed.  But if we chose to run with such counter-factuals, then we must offer explanations to deal with the realities Schofield confronted at that time.  Indeed, let me circle back to the “traditional military history” aspect here – did Schofield have the resources to implement a complete reorganization of society in North Carolina, as things stood in May 1865?

History often plays out as the application of lofty ideas by way of direct implementation.  Thus history becomes a study of dirty, and complex, little details. None no more than Reconstruction.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part III, Serial 100, page 503; John M. Schofield, Forty-six Years in the Army, New York: The Century Company, 1897, page 376.)

May 6, 1865: Sherman and Chase and suffrage for the freedmen

Earlier today, Allen Gathman, on his blog Seven Score and Ten, posted a letter from Chief Justice Salmon Chase to Major-General John Schofield, which was addressed 150 years ago today (May 7, 1865).  The important passage of Chase’s letter spoke of specific rights for the freedmen – the right to vote:

I have, since his accession had several conversations with President Johnson, and think myself authorized to say that he desires the earliest possible loyal reorganization of the late insurgent States. He thinks that this reorganization should be the work of the people themselves, acting in their original sovereign capacity, and would be willing to aid their action in any proper way, as, for example, by the enrollment of all the loyal citizens, preparatory to the election of delegates to a convention. in this enrollment he would prefer that the old constitutional rule in North Carolina which recognized all freemen as voters, should be followed, rather than the rule the new constitution, which excludes all freemen of color.

Consider the addressee here.  Here 150 years later, would Chief Justice John Roberts directly address General John F. Campbell over in Kabul, Afghanistan?  Perhaps, but not on policy matters, I would venture to guess.  I would offer, however, that Schofield in 1865 and Campbell here in 2015 are both involved with “reconstruction” efforts to some degree. Both are dealing with questions of how to implement suffrage (perhaps less so in 2015 as we were in 2004). The major difference between lay in the object of reconstruction.  Schofield was a military commander orchestrating the reconstruction of a state in OUR country… not attempting to repair some other country.

At the same time Chase was conversing with Schofield, he also had similar correspondence with Major-General William T. Sherman.  That commander wrote a letter to Chase only a day before, May 6.  And the contents were not exactly in agreement with Chase’s opinion.  Let me offer it here in whole, instead of dicing Sherman’s words:

Dear Sir: On reaching this ship late last night I found your valued letter, with the printed sheet, which I have also read, but not yet fully matured.  I am not yet prepared to receive the negro on terms of political equality for the reasons that it will arouse passions and prejudices at the North, which superadded to the causes yet dormant at the South, might rekindle the war whose fires are now dying out, and by skillful management might be kept down. As you must observe, I prefer to work with known facts than to reason ahead to remote conclusions that by slower and natural laws may be reached without shock. By way of illustration, we are now weather bound; is it not better to lay quiet at anchor till these white-cap breakers look less angry and the southwest wind shifts? I think all old sailors will answer yes, whilst we, impatient to reach our goal, are tempted to dash through, at risk of life and property. I am willing to admit that the conclusions you reach by pure mental process may be all correct, but don’t you think it better first to get the ship of state in some order, that it may be handled and guided? Now at the South all is pure anarchy. The military power of the United States cannot reach the people who are spread over a vast surface of country. We can control the local State capitals, and it may be slowly shape political thoughts, but we cannot combat existing ideas with force. I say honestly that the assertion openly of your ideas as a fixed policy of our Government, to be backed by physical power, will produce new war, and one which from its desultory character will be more bloody and destructive than the last.

Our own armed soldiers have prejudices that, right or wrong, should be consulted, and I am rejoiced that you, upon whom devolves so much, are aiming to see facts and persons with your own eye. I believe you will do me the credit of believing that I am as honest, sincere, true, and brave as the average of our kind, and I say that to give all loyal negroes the same political status as white “voters” will revive the war and spread its field of operations. Why not, therefore, trust to the slower and not less sure means of statesmanship? Why not imitate the example of England in allowing causes to work out their gradual solution instead of imitating the French, whose political revolutions have been bloody and have actually retarded the development of political freedom? I think the changes necessary in the future can be made faster and more certain by means of our Constitution than by any plan outside of it. If, now, we go outside of the Constitution for a means of change, we rather justify the rebels in their late attempt, whereas now, as General Schofield tells us, the people of the South are ready and willing to make the necessary changes without shock or violence. I, who have felt the past war as bitterly and keenly as any man could, confess myself “afraid” of a new war, and a new war is bound to result from the action you suggest of giving to the enfranchised negroes so large a share in the delicate task of putting the Southern States in practical working relations with the General Government.

With great respect,
W. T. SHERMAN,  Major-general.

I think with full 150 years of hindsight, we can agree Sherman was on the wrong side of this issue.  But at the same time, we would do dis-service to generalize and paint Sherman into some corner of history with just this letter in hand.  Perhaps it is best to just let Sherman’s written words speak for him, instead of trying to impose what we think he must have thought.

Regardless of where you want to place Sherman … or Chase… or Schofield at this point in time, the issue of suffrage for the freedmen was one clearly identified as a central topic, if not THE central topic, for Reconstruction.  And reading the correspondence you can see this topic was not as clean and clear such as we might consider, with our view 150 years removed.

History is often a story of simple ideas being applied to a complex reality.  We should embrace that complexity, for with it comes true understanding of what transpired.  And I would offer that no more genuine and simple idea was more complex in implementation as universal suffrage.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part III, Serial 100, pages 410-1 and 427.)

Thank you Samuel Cooper, Henry Halleck, and Morris Runyan. We have our Official Records!

On April 27, 1865, General Samuel Cooper was stranded in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Cooper was the highest ranking Confederate officer and served as Adjutant General and Inspector General.  Though not a field commander, Cooper was a central figure in the Confederacy throughout the war.  A long serving officer in the pre-war U.S. Army, Cooper called the Army his home. And as events unfolded in April 1865, Cooper was becoming a man without a home. When President Jefferson F. Davis rode out of Charlotte, heading south through South Carolina, Cooper remained behind.  He was not fit to make a long, cross-country journey.  Furthermore, he had far too much baggage in his charge:

 A telegram received from Brigadier-General [Thomas] Jordan by Colonel [John] Riely, of my staff, who had telegraphed, by my direction, to ascertain what had transpired from the military convention, states that it had terminated, resulting in a cessation of war by all embraced, private property respected, and transportation home given.  I was left here within the territorial limits of your command by the President, from physical dis-qualification to follow the Government any longer, and I therefore desire to know if I and the staff officer left with me can be included in the arrangement upon the same terms, as I cannot from my situation belong to any other command.  It is not practicable for me to reach Greensborough immediately.

Later Cooper elaborated on the baggage which kept him in Charlotte:

It was found impracticable to transfer the records of the War Department further than this place, and they remain here under my charge.  The President and Secretary of War impressed me with the necessity of their preservation in our own hands, if possible; if not, then by the enemy, as essential to the history of the struggle.  On account of your superior knowledge of the condition of affairs, I desire to have your advice as to the disposition that shall be made of them.

Johnston replied on April 28, informing, “You are entitled to accept the terms of the convention.  I do not know what to advise about the records.”  Later, Johnston sent word that Cooper should, if possible, travel to Greensborough.  Instead, Cooper arranged to have Colonel Riely make that trip as his representative for formal surrender.

But what of the records? On May 7, Captain Morris C. Runyan led a detachment of the 9th New Jersey into Charlotte.  There, among other stores and items, Runyan found,

… a number of boxes said to contain the records of the rebel War Department and all the archives of the so-called Southern Confederacy; also, boxes said to contain all the colors and battle-flags captured from the National forces since the beginning of the war….

(Runyan later wrote an account of the occupation of Charlotte and capture of the records.  But, I find his official report filed at the time somewhat more precise than the post war account.)

Word of this quickly passed up the chain of command to Major-General John Schofield.  On May 16, Schofield inquired to Army Chief of Staff, Major-General Henry Halleck, as to what disposition should be made in regard to the records.  Halleck responded promptly:

Box up all captured Confederate papers, flags, &c., and send them to C. A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, Washington. Preserve every paper, however unimportant it may appear. We have the key to their ciphers. Important links of testimony have thus been discovered here of the Canadian plot.

And please note here, Halleck was just as concerned about the preservation of the Confederate war records as Cooper was.  And we might say that Halleck’s motives were just as Cooper’s.  Above all, Halleck wanted the Confederate words to speak directly to their actions.

The next day, Schofield reported that the records, archives, and flags were being sent to Washington.  He included a detailed invoice for the “eighty-one boxes, weighing ten tons“:

 Invoice of the archives of the late Confederate War Department, as received from General Johnston at Charlotte, N. C., on the 13th day of May, 1865: Five boxes, marked Letters received; 3 boxes, marked Certificates of disability; 13 boxes, marked Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office; 5 boxes, marked Captured flags; 1 box, marked Books and papers, General Lee’s headquarters; 1 box, marked Official reports of battles; 1 box, marked Provost-marshal; 1 box, marked Lieutenant Blackford, C. S. Engineers; 1 box, marked Col. John Withers, C. S. Army; 3 boxes, marked Dept. Office; 7 boxes, contents unknown; 11 boxes, marked War Department, C. S. A.; 21 boxes, marked Regimental rolls; 1 box, marked Signal glasses; 6 boxes, marked Miscellaneous papers.

Thus the Federals took possession of a substantial number of official Confederate documents, if not a complete set.  Similar efforts by Federal commanders elsewhere in the south would bring in official correspondence, reports, and rolls from the scattered Confederate departments.  Of course that net missed many records, falling well short of a complete haul.  Doubtless you know well the story of records destroyed by the fires when Richmond fell.  And other records were destroyed before reaching Federal hands.

But all things considered, what was preserved included a remarkable set of artifacts.  Many of those artifacts were later included in the “Official Records of the War of the Rebellion” in the same binding with Federal accounts of the same time periods.  And those compiled records were published and made accessible to libraries around the country.  Today, those same records are just a browser window away at all times, anywhere you chose to study them.

We might recall many other “Civil Wars” in which historians lament the loss of vital accounts due to records destroyed in the end.  Such is, on whole, not the case with the American Civil War. You see, the history of the Civil War was not simply “written by the victors” as some partisans contend.  Rather it was written by those who could consult the words of the participants… thanks to the efforts by both sides to preserve those words.

So, next time you chase down a footnote and see “OR” followed by volume and serial notations, pause to thank old Samuel Cooper… and Henry Halleck… and Morris Runyan… who had a hand in preserving those.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part III, Serial 100, pages 491, 510-1, 842, 848,

Sherman’s March, April 27, 1865: Facilitating the surrender; Planning the march north

With dawn on April 27, 1865, the ink was hardly dry on the “final-final” surrender agreement between Major-General William T. Sherman and General Joseph E. Johnston.  But Sherman was already looking to the next leg of the Great March.  So a flurry of orders went out from Sherman’s headquarters down to the brigade level.  The group of armies was about to move once again – starting the last series of marches of their war.

Before any movement orders were issued, there were a few loose ends to attend in regard to the surrender terms.  Supplementary terms included eight points:

First. The Confederate troops to retain their transportation.

Second. Each brigade or separate body to retain a number of arms equal to one-fifth of its effective total, which, when the troops reach their homes, will be received by the local authorities for public purposes.

Third. Officers and men to be released from their obligation at the same time with those of the Army of Virginia.

Fourth. Artillery horses to be used for field transportation when necessary.

Fifth. The horses and other private property of officers and men to be retained by them.

Sixth. Troops from Arkansas and Texas to be transported by water from Mobile or New Orleans to their homes by the United States.

Seventh. The obligations of private soldiers to be signed by their company officers.

Eighth. Naval officers within the limits of General Johnston’s command to have the benefit of the stipulations of this convention.

Beyond those terms, Sherman would offer assistance to Johnston.  But Sherman charged Major-General John Schofield with the responsibility of implementation in North Carolina with respect to Johnston’s force.  And that charge was spelled out in a pair of orders – Special Field Orders No. 65 and 66.

Orders No. 65 outlined the administrative handling and mechanisms of the surrender.  The order gave Schofield, Major-General Quincy Gillmore, and Major-General James Wilson the responsibility to manage the surrender process within their respective areas of control.  The orders assigned an ordnance officer to manage surrendered weapons for Johnston’s command.  And Sherman directed that paper paroles, similar to those used at Appomattox earlier in the month, be printed for issue to all surrendered Confederates (securing the proper equipment and supplies to print these was somewhat a task in and of itself, but eventually worked out).  To this Sherman added,

… great care must be taken that all the terms and stipulations on our parts be fulfilled with the most scrupulous fidelity, whilst those imposed on our hitherto enemies be received in a spirit becoming a brave and generous army.

In addition Sherman directed some allowances beyond the surrender terms and directed toward reconciliation of the population:

Army commanders may at once loan to the inhabitants such of the captured mules, horses, wagons, and vehicles as can be spared from immediate use, and the commanding generals of armies may issue provisions, animals, or any public supplies that can be spared, to relieve present wants and to encourage the inhabitants to renew their peaceful pursuits and to restore the relations of friendship among our fellow-citizens and countrymen.

And, with respect to foraging:

Foraging will forthwith cease, and when necessity or long marches compel the taking of forage, provisions, or any kind of private property, compensation will be made on the spot, or, when the disbursing officers are not provided with funds, vouchers will be given in proper form, payable at the nearest military depot.

Adding to this, Sherman directed rations be issued to Johnston’s troops – “ten day’s rations for 25,000 men.”  That is, depending on the repair of railroad lines to allow movement to Greensborough.

Orders No. 66 were more specific to movements of the Federal armies:

Hostilities having ceased, the following changes and dispositions of troops in the field will be made with as little delay as practicable:

I. The Tenth and Twenty-third Corps will remain in the Department of North Carolina, and Maj. Gen. J. M. Schofield will transfer back to Major-General Gillmore, commanding Department of the South, the two brigades formerly belonging to the division of Brevet Major General Grover at Savannah. The Third Division, Cavalry Corps, Bvt. Maj. Gen. J. Kilpatrick commanding, is hereby transferred to the Department of North Carolina, and General Kilpatrick will report in person to Major-General Schofield for orders.

II. The cavalry command of Maj. Gen. George Stoneman will return to East Tennessee, and that of Bvt. Maj. Gen. J. H. Wilson will be conducted back to the Tennessee River in the neighborhood of Decatur, Ala.

This order effectively split Sherman’s “army group” as hit had existed for over a month.  The core elements from the day of the march out of Atlanta – the Armies of the Tennessee and Georgia – marched on.  But the Army of the Ohio and Major-General H. Judson Kilpatrick’s cavalry would remain in North Carolina.  Of note, the withdrawal of Stoneman’s and Wilson’s commands to points in Tennessee would leave many sections of the south “unoccupied.”  Sherman’s aim, derived from the instructions from the War Department, were not to “occupy” per say, but to facilitate a surrender of military forces… at least as things stood on April 27, 1865.

The last two paragraphs of the order gave the line of march for those corps moving north:

III. Major-General Howard will conduct the Army of the Tennessee to Richmond, Va., following roads substantially by Louisburg, Warrenton, Lawrenceville, and Petersburg, or to the right of that line. Major-General Slocum will conduct the Army of Georgia to Richmond by roads to the left of the one indicated for General Howard, viz, by Oxford, Boydton, and Nottoway Court-House. These armies will turn in at this point the contents of their ordnance trains, and use the wagons for extra forage and provisions. These columns will be conducted slowly and in the best of order, and will aim to be at Richmond ready to resume the march by the middle of May.

IV. The chief quartermaster and commissary of this military division, Generals Easton and Beckwith, after making the proper dispositions of their departments here, will proceed to Richmond and make suitable preparations to receive these columns and to provide for their further journey.

Maybe it would have saved a lot of shoe leather and spared the soldiers some blisters to have moved the force by rail and ship to Washington.  But with shipping capacity on the Atlantic seaboard already taxed just to keep the military in supply, any “boat ride” for the hard marching troops was difficult to arrange.  And why Washington?  Well, they were needed for a victory parade.  And beyond that, there was a growing desire, particularly from Congress, to start demobilizing the forces.  After all, those were “voting constituents” in uniform… and until they were mustered out, the government was paying and feeding them.

The route of the march home was designated on April 27.  Movement would start two days later.  The war was over for these men… all except for the memories and legacy they would carry north and into their post-war lives.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part III, Serial 100, pages 321-325.)

Sherman’s March, April 12, 1865: “A little more labor, a little more toil on our part, the great race is won”

On April 12, 1865, a telegram from Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant arrived to inform Major-General William T. Sherman about General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.  Sherman congratulated Grant and added, “The terms you have given Lee are magnanimous and liberal.  Should Johnston follow Lee’s example I shall of course grant the same.”

As Sherman’s army group advanced on Raleigh, North Carolina, that city was not his primary objective.  It was a waypoint to be met, for sure.  But his real objective was General Joseph E. Johnston’s army.  Sherman wanted to corner Johnston, much as had been done to Lee three days earlier.  Sherman stressed that objective in instructions to Major-General H. Judson Kilpatrick, sent late-night on April 11. After warning Kilpatrick to use standard map references (for location reporting), Sherman went on to describe the location of Lieutenant-General Wade Hampton’s force:

I don’t think Hampton has 2,000 cavalry with him, and this is your chance. I will push all the column straight on Raleigh. I don’t care about Raleigh now, but want to defeat and destroy the Confederate army; therefore you may run any risk. Of course, don’t break the railroad except to the rear (west) of Johnston, as we want the rails up to Raleigh. General Wilson has taken Selma and is threatening Montgomery. He has whipped Red Jackson twenty-seven miles from Selma, and at Selma knocked Forrest all to pieces. Rebel papers report Forrest wounded in three places; Abe Buford to defend Montgomery with citizens; Dick Taylor ran westward from Selma; many cooped up in Mobile.

All of this designed to prod the cavalry commander to bold action!

Sherman’s plan for April 12 was to advance the Left Wing, Major-General Henry Slocum, on the direct roads to Raleigh.  The Right Wing, Major-General Oliver O. Howard, would advance on the east side of the Neuse River but prepare crossing points to flank any Confederate position.  And the Center Wing, Major-General John Schofield, would actually advance to the left and behind the Left Wing, prepared to flank any opposition.  Kilpatrick was instructed to fall upon the retreating Confederates and disrupt their withdrawal.  A very typical marching arrangement for Sherman, matching patterns seen from Georgia all the way to North Carolina.

NCMarch_Apr12

To make this advance possible, five of Sherman’s corps had to cross the Neuse River.  Only the Tenth Corps and the Cavalry Division, on the far left, were over that watercourse.  One more river to cross.

The Left Wing had two pontoon bridges across at Smithfield by morning.  Major-General Joseph Mower advanced the Twentieth Corps on the lower bridge, while Major-General Jefferson C. Davis crossed the Fourteenth Corps on the upper bridge.  The Left Wing met only fleeting rear guards during the advance of the day.   Sherman accompanied the Twentieth Corps to setup headquarters at Gully’s Store.

The Right Wing had more trouble with maps than Confederates on April 12.  Scouting the lead of the advance, the 29th Missouri (Mounted) Infantry reached Battle’s Bridge. Colonel Joseph Gage reported the bridge there destroyed but, “The river at that point is about thirty yards wide,” and the roads were good for the advance.  The problem for the advance lay in an inaccuracy of the Federal maps.  Howard reported to Sherman around mid-day, “The roads are different from map. Watson’s Mill is at Pineville, and General Logan reports but one road from Folk’s Bridge across.” To ease the congestion of two corps passing through Pinveville, Major-General John Logan doubled up the Fifteenth Corps and chose a fork of the road to the right.  Major-General Frank Blair’s Seventeenth Corps would manage with side roads where possible.

The Twenty-third Corps of the Center Wing advanced to Turner’s Bridge on April 12.  The march was more administrative than tactical.  On the far side, the Tenth Corps reported encountering some Confederate cavalry, but otherwise the advance was conducted at an easy pace.  The Center Wing then reformed south of, and to the rear of, the Left Wing.

Perhaps the most interesting note of the day from the Center Wing was a circular issued by Major-General Jacob Cox, Twenty-third Corps:

Since we left Goldsborough there has been a constant succession of house burning in rear of this command. This has never before been the case since the corps was organized, and the prospect of speedy peace makes this more than ever reprehensible. Division commanders will take the most vigorous measures to put a stop to these outrages, whether committed by men of this command or by stragglers from other corps. Any one found firing a dwelling-house, or any building in close proximity to one, should be summarily shot. A sentinel may be left by the advance division at each inhabited house along the road, to be relieved in succession from the other divisions as they come up, those left by the rear division reporting to the train guard and rejoining after the next halt.

To the left of the Federal advance, Kilpatrick’s cavalry swept forward, but not quite as Sherman desired.  Kilpatrick reported,

I have had some hard fighting t0-day, from Swift Creek to this point on the railroad, six miles from Raleigh. I have intercepted Hampton and am now driving him in toward the river.  I hope to either capture or force him across the river.

Kilpatrick noted the Confederate force was in full retreat.  He asked permission to advance into Raleigh, but “I can do no better than drive directly in his rear as he marches nearly as fast as I do.”  Sherman would give Kilpatrick permission to press into Raleigh, but preferred Johnston “go toward Greensborough” and thus asked Kilpatrick to “cut across the rear of his column, right and left.”  The potential of the situation seemed to elude Kilpatrick.  At the same time, reports from the Confederate cavalry do not indicate any great “pressing” as Kilpatrick described.

Instead, the main worry of Hampton’s was the passage of a delegation from the North Carolina Governor, Zebulon Vance.  Early in the day, Vance informed Lieutenant-General William Hardee that he planned to send emissaries to Sherman proposing a suspension of hostilities.  Vance was playing with several loose ends. While proposing a truce “touching the final termination of the existing war,” to the Confederate President Jefferson F. Davis, Vance assured his intentions were note “to do anything subversive.”

Vance’s delegation went by train out of Raleigh that afternoon.  It was first intercepted by Hampton’s cavalry.  And then overtaken by Kilpatrick’s cavalry.  From there, the train rolled on to Sherman’s headquarters.  Sherman’s conversation with the delegation ran late into the evening, and he detained them overnight.  They would depart the next morning, under flag of truce, to Raleigh with Sherman’s counter-proposal.

Vance’s aim in all this was to preserve the safety of Raleigh, lest it be treated as Milledgeville or Columbia.  But his efforts were largely overtaken by events.  As the Confederates withdrew, looting and lawlessness broke out in the city.  The number of provost troops detailed were insufficient.  Vance himself fled west, leaving the state capitol to be ransacked.  So Sherman’s response to him arrived the next morning to find no recipient.

In the Federal camps that evening, Special Field Orders No. 54 was read.  This was the official announcement of Lee’s surrender on April 9th.  Sherman closed that with encouragement to his troops, “A little more labor, a little more toil on our part, the great race is won, and our Government stands regenerated after four long years of bloody war.”

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, page …; Part III, Serial 100, pages 172, 178, 180, 183, 186-7, 188-9, 792.)