“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:

Fold3_Page_22_Michael_Laux Fold3_Page_23__Michael_Laux

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?

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Summary Statement, 2nd Quarter, 1863 – 1st Missouri Artillery

As a “westerner”… or dare I say “Trans-Mississippian”… from my youngest days, it was impressed upon me, through my own studies and the words of others, that nothing regarding Missouri and the Civil War is straight forward.  Such is certainly the case with respect to Missouri’s artillery batteries serving the Federal army during the war.  While the state provided two “on paper” organized regiments of light artillery, there were in addition several independent batteries, militia batteries, and other sections and detachments.  And within that loose structure, there were oddities and questions in terms of administrative arrangements and issued equipment (which we’ll focus on here).

Looking at the aggregate listing for the second quarter, 1863, you can see the clerks opted to consolidate all the Missouri batteries, violating alphabetical order, onto the bottom of the page for this section of the summaries:

0193_1A_Snip_MO

As our focus this round is just the 1st Missouri Light Artillery Regiment, we shall trim that list down:

0193_1_Snip_MO

While an improvement, in terms of completeness, over the previous quarter, we see that most of the returns were not received in Washington until late summer or fall of 1863.  And two returns were not posted until 1864.  The rundown:

  • Battery A: Reported at Iuka, Mississippi with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  Captain George W. Schofield remained in command.  And the battery remained with Twelfth Division, Thirteenth Corps.  As such, the location given is at odds with the battery service record.  In June 1863, the battery was at Vicksburg, part of the besieging force.  In October 1864, when the report was received in Washington, the battery was at Carrollton, Louisiana, having transferred to the Department of the Gulf.  Iuka does not fit into the time line for this battery.
  • Battery B:  No return.  At the start of the spring, this battery was assigned to the Second (Brigadier-General Francis J. Herron’s) Division, Department of Missouri during the quarter.  Captain Martin Welfley returned, from his staff assignment, in late May.  Then in June the battery moved, with it’s parent organization, to Vicksburg and was assigned to the Thirteenth Corps.  Arriving at Vicksburg on June 14, the battery fell in on a 32-pdr gun during the siege in addition to their own 12-pdr Napoleons and field howitzers.
  • Battery C: Reporting from Vicksburg, Mississippi with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  Captain Charles Mann remained in command, with the battery assigned to Sixth Division, Seventeenth Corps.
  • Battery D:  At Corinth, Mississippi, with two 6-pdr field guns (a reduction from four the previous quarter), two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 3-inch rifles.  The battery, under Captain Henry Richardson was assigned to Corinth, part of the Sixteenth Corps.
  • Battery E: At Vicksburg, Mississippi with four 10-pdr Parrotts and two “Fawcett Rifled Iron Gun, Cal. 3.5.”  Note the designation change from a generic “English Guns” the previous quarter.  In late May, Captain Nelson Cole’s battery moved to St. Louis, and with their parent division (Herron’s) then moved to Vicksburg.
  • Battery F: Carrollton, Louisiana with two 3.80-inch James Rifles and four 3.5-inch Fawcett Guns. The location reflects a reporting date of September 1863.  Battery F, like Batteries B and E, was part of Herron’s Division sent to Vicksburg in June 1863. Captain Joseph Foust remained in command.
  • Battery G: No return.  Captain Henry Hescock’s battery was assigned to the Third Division, Twentieth Corps. Hescock was also listed as commander of the artillery brigade supporting the division.  As of the reporting date, they were on the Tullahoma Campaign.
  • Battery H: At Corinth, Mississippi with two 6-pdr field guns, one 24-pdr field howitzer, and two 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Frederick Welker’s battery was part of the garrison at Corinth, under the Sixteenth Corps.
  • Battery I:  Reporting at Pocahontas, Tennessee (a railroad stop northwest of Corinth), with two 6-pdr field guns, one 12-pdr field howitzers (down by one from the previous quarter), two 10-pdr Parrotts, and one 4.62-inch rifle (cited as a 12-pdr James, see mention below).  Captain Benjamin Tannrath commanded the battery, assigned to the Sixteenth Corps, under the Corinth Garrison.
  • Battery K: At Helena, Arkansas with four 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Stillman O. Fish was in command.  The battery was part of the District of Eastern Arkansas.
  • Battery L: At Rolla, Missouri with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3.67-inch rifles. Captain Frank Backof’s Battery, remaining with the Department of the Frontier, was with a portion of Herron’s Division not forwarded to Vicksburg.
  • Battery M: At Vicksburg, Mississippi with four 10-pdr Parrotts.  Captain Junius W. MacMurray’s battery remained assigned to Seventh Division, Seventeenth Corps.

So of the twelve batteries of this regiment, half at Vicksburg. Four other batteries were indirectly supporting that campaign.  Battery G was on the Tullahoma Campaign. Leaving only Backof’s Battery in their home state.

The variety of armament should excite readers.  Naturally the mention of Fawcett guns is noteworthy.  But we’ve seen those reported from previous quarters.  It’s the 12-pdr James rifle, with Battery I, which stands out for this summary.  The column header (part of the form) clearly calls this out as a bronze weapon.  And specifically 4.62-inch caliber.  We can’t dismiss this simply as transcription error because, as we will see below, the battery also reported ammunition in that caliber.  So either a lot of transcription errors…. or a bronze 12-pdr rifle was with the battery.  Certainly not the rifled 12-pdr Napoleons that are seen at Gettysburg.  Those were only used for tests.  Rather, the leading candidate is a 12-pdr field gun, heavy, that had been rifled to the James system.  Several of those survive today. And with Battery I posted to guarding a railroad, form seems to follow function.  Until I find more information, I’d still rate that tentative.

Turning to the smoothbore ammunition, we find the need to extend the table to include those 24-pdr howitzer rounds:

0195_1_Snip_MO

Listing by battery:

  • Battery A:  66 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 16 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers
  • Battery C: 65 shot for 6-pdr field guns; 124 shell, 96 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery D: 182 shot, 50 case, and 87 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 119 shell and 38 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers; and 162 case for 12-pdr Napoleons (which may be a transcription error).
  • Battery H: 130 case and 28 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 69 shell, 53 case, and 60 canister for 24-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery I: 15 shot, 195 case, and 109 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 49 shell, 36 case, and 71 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery L: 184 case and 80 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.

The limited number of rounds for Battery A stand out in particular. Just canister… for the siege of Vicksburg.  Go figure.

Turning to the rifled projectiles, Hotchkiss is first:

0195_2_Snip_MO

We have a short list, but with notes:

  • Battery D: 40 canister, 98 percussion shell, 152 fuse shell, and 270 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery F: 12 shot and 86 percussion shells for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery L: 280 shot and 270 percussion shell for 3.67-inch rifles.

Once again we see those in the field, and those in Washington, make distinction between the 3.80-inch “James” and the 3.67-inch “Wiard” calibers.  We should not read into the latter identification, as that was simply tied to a caliber of gun, though not specifically the inventor’s gun.  In this case, Backof’s battery had rifled 6-pdrs.

That distinction remains for carry-over columns of Hotchiss on the next page (which I’ll break down by section for clarity):

0196_1A_Snip_MO

Two reporting:

  • Battery F: 88 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • Battery L:  100 canister for 3.67-inch rifles.

Now we can move to the James-patent Projectiles:

0196_1B_Snip_MO

And as mentioned above, we have either a lot of transcription errors, or something to fire from a rifled bronze 12-pdr:

  • Battery I: 10 shot, 8 shell, 25 case, and 30 canister for 4.62-inch rifles.

The next section covers Parrott-patent projectiles:

0196_1C_Snip_MO

Five batteries reporting:

  • Battery E: 420 shell, 175 case, and 75 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery H: 163 shell, 137 case, and 137 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery I: 48 shell, 44 case, and 64 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery K: 160 shell, 340 case, and 120 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • Battery M: 265 shell, 473 case, and 130 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.

Lastly we turn to the Schenkl columns:

0196_1D_Snip_MO

A lot of shot of that type:

  • Battery E:  130 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery I: 54 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 92 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 126 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

There are no further Schenkl entries on the next page.  So we can move to the small arms:

0196_3_Snip_MO

By battery:

  • Battery A: Fourteen percussion pistols, twenty Navy revolvers, and ninety-three cavalry sabers.
  • Battery C: Three (?) Army revolvers and four cavalry sabers.
  • Battery D: Eight Army revolvers and thirty cavalry sabers.
  • Battery E: Seventy-seven Army revolvers and forty-four cavalry sabers.
  • Battery F: Ten Army revolvers and eighteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery H: Eight Army revolvers and forty-eight (?) cavalry sabers.
  • Battery I: Seventeen Army revolvers, 113 cavalry sabers, and one horse artillery saber.
  • Battery K: Three Navy revolvers and twenty-five cavalry sabers.
  • Battery L: Eleven Navy revolvers and thirty-nine cavalry sabers.
  • Battery M: Four Army revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.

Other than the percussion pistols, no oddities among the small arms.  There are a lot of reenactor impressions “taking a hit” right now.

We will pick up with the 2nd Missouri Artillery next.

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – 1st Missouri Artillery

Earlier in January, I offered a brief, general service history of the batteries of the 1st Missouri Light Artillery in the preface to the fourth quarter, 1862 summary.  As noted at that time, there is much to “untangle” when matching the Missouri batteries to alternate names and designations that appear in the records.  Keep that in mind as we review the Missouri entries over the next couple of posts in this set.

For the first regiment, we have eight returns from the twelve batteries.  Two of those were filed in 1864:

0116_1_Snip_MO_1

So a fair sampling to consider:

  • Battery A: No return.  Captain George W. Schofield’s battery began the quarter as part of the District of Eastern Arkansas.  Their formation bore the very unlucky designation of the Thirteenth Division, Thirteenth Corps.  As the corps organized for the Vicksburg Campaign, the battery shifted to the Twelfth Division of that corps. The battery accompanied it’s parent formation during the Yazoo Pass operations that winter.  They returned to Milliken’s Bend in April.
  • Battery B: No return.  The battery was assigned to the Second Division, Department of Missouri during the quarter.  Captain Martin Welfley remained in command. However, Welfley also served as artillery chief for the department, starting in mid-March.  It is unclear if a subordinate held battery command at that time.
  • Battery C: Reporting from Lake Providence, Louisiana with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  Formerly known as Mann’s Independent Battery, the battery was under Lieutenant Edward Brotzmann at the start of the year and assigned to Sixth Division, Sixteenth Corps.  Captain Charles Mann returned to command the battery during the winter.  When Sixth Division transferred to Seventeenth Corps, Mann’s battery went along.
  • Battery D:  At Corinth, Mississippi, with four 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 3-inch rifles.  The battery, under Captain Henry Richardson, was part of a battalion of Missouri artillery serving at Corinth under Major George H. Stone, in Sixteenth Corps.  Of note, the battery’s reported armament differed greatly from that indicated the previous quarter (five 20-pdr Parrotts).
  • Battery E: Indicated at St. Louis with four 10-pdr Parrotts and three “English Guns, Cal. 3.5.”  The latter were products of Fawcett & Preston in Liverpool.  During the winter, Captain Nelson Cole resumed command of this battery assigned to the Department of the Frontier.  The battery moved to Springfield, Missouri in mid-February.  Later moved to Rolla.  Not until later in the spring did the battery reach St. Louis, as part of the reinforcements sent to Vicksburg.  A reorganization to be discussed in the next quarter.
  • Battery F: At Rolla, Missouri with two 3.80-inch James Rifles and four 3.5-inch English Guns.  Battery F’s story is paired with Battery E’s for the most part.  During the winter, Captain Joseph Foust (from Battery E) assumed command.  And like Battery E, Foust’s remained with the Department of the Frontier through the winter, to be pulled into the Vicksburg Campaign later in the spring.
  • Battery G: No return.  Captain Henry Hescock’s battery wintered at Murfreesboro, being placed in the Third Division, Twentieth Corps.
  • Battery H: Also at Corinth in Stone’s Battalion and reporting two 6-pdr field guns, one 24-pdr field howitzer, and two 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Frederick Welker remained in command.
  • Battery I:  Also part of Stone’s Battalion at Corinth, with two 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 10-pdr Parrotts.  By the end of the spring, Captain Benjamin Tannrath commanded the battery.
  • Battery K: At Germantown, Tennessee with four 10-pdr Parrotts. Transferring out of Stone’s Battalion, Captain Stillman O. Fish’s battery was placed in the District of Jackson.  Later in the spring, the battery began movement to Helena, Arkansas.
  • Battery L: No report. Captain Frank Backof’s Battery was part of the Department of the Frontier and station at Springfield.
  • Battery M: On July 10, 1863, this battery could proudly claim to be at Vicksburg, Mississippi.  But at the end of March of that year, they’d only begun the journey to that place.  Captain Junius W. MacMurray’s battery was around Lake Providence at the close of the quarter, assigned to Seventh Division, Seventeenth Corps.  The battery reported four 10-pdr Parrotts.

With administrative details and the number of guns reported in mind, let us turn to the smoothbore ammunition on hand:

0118_1_Snip_MO_1A

Yes, extended columns because we have a 24-pdr field howitzer to feed.  And one should notice something appears off with the line for Battery K.  There were no smoothbores in the battery.  And at the same time, Battery H had smoothbores to feed, yet only quantities listed for the 24-pdr howitzer.  Is this a transcription error?  Or admission that the wrong ammunition was carried by Battery K?  I think the former.  But to be accurate in my transcription here, I’ll reflect the lines as recorded on the form:

  • Battery C: 160 shot, 160 case, and 80 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 108 shells, 108 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery D: 280 shot, 204 case, and 145 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 120 shell, 337 case, and 38 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery H: 109 shell, 62 case, and 66 canister for their 24-pdr field howitzer.
  • Battery L: 15 shot, 260 case, and 155 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 120 shell, 109 case, and 145 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery K:  90 case and 28 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, we start with Hotchkiss:

0118_2_Snip_MO_1

Two batteries reporting, and with different calibers:

  • Battery D: 42 canister, 46 percussion shell, 80 fuse shell, and 240 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery F: 52 shot for 3.80-inch “James”; 400 percussion shell for 3.67-inch “Wiard”; and 200 percussion shell for 3.80-inch “James.”

I break out Battery F in detail as the battery reported rifles in two distinct calibers.  We have to question here if they were using 3.67-inch projectiles in their James Rifles, or if some quantities might reflect the clerk’s attempt to reconcile 3.5-inch ammunition quantities in the form.

We find more from Battery F on the next page:

0119_1_Snip_MO_1

For James’ patent projectiles:

  • Battery K: 172 shot and 12 shell in 3.80-inch.

Moving to the Parrott columns, we see:

  • Battery E: 630 shell and 131 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery H: 13 shell, 60 case, and 117 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery I: 44 shell, 74 case, and 46 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 160 shell, 340 case, and 120 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 152 shell, 240 case, and 152 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

Lastly the Schenkl columns:

  • Battery E: 89 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery I: 79 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 90 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 80 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

On the last page for rifled projectiles, we find Battery K again:

0119_2_Snip_MO_1

Tatham’s canister:

  • Battery K: 200 cansiter for 3.67-inch and 100 canister for 3.80-inch.

And again, we must wonder if some of these were 3.5-inch caliber, but lacking a column were simply “dropped” into the form by the clerks.

And for last the small arms:

0119_3_Snip_MO_1

At least no “special” columns, just those as printed:

  • Battery C: Three Army revolvers and thirty cavalry sabers.
  • Battery D: Thirty cavalry sabers.
  • Battery E: Eighty-one Army revolvers and fourty-seven cavalry sabers.
  • Battery F: Six Army revolvers, six Navy revolvers, and fifteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery  H: Six Army revolvers and forty-three horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I: Fourteen Army revolvers, 136 cavalry sabers, and one horse artillery saber.
  • Battery K: Three Navy revolvers and twenty-five cavalry sabers.
  • Battery M: Seven Army revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.

The small arms reports are always interesting to me, as I look for correlations between quantities and the assignments.  In this case, maybe Backof’s Battery needed a lot of edged weapons given their duty in southeast Missouri.

We’ll look at Missouri’s Second Light Artillery Regiment in the next installment.