Summary Statement, 4th Quarter, 1863 – Indiana Independent Batteries, Part 1

While the 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery wore one of the war’s most colorful nicknames, it was “heavy” artillery, and after all, raised as an infantry regiment. Most of the artillerists from Indiana formed into independent batteries. And most of those were light artillery. Their returns were consolidated into a lengthy section of the fourth quarter summaries:

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We will break these into two groups for ease of discussion (along with a separate post for the oddity in the bunch – an entry from the 89th Indiana Infantry). So we take up a baker’s dozen with the first part:

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  • 1st Battery:  Reporting, at New Orleans, Louisiana with four 12-pdr Napoleons and two 3-inch guns.  Captain Martin Klauss remained in command of this battery. Lieutenant Lawrence Jacoby (an officer from the 1st Missouri Artillery) lead the battery while Klauss was absent through December. The battery remained with First Division, Thirteenth Corps.  Following the Second Bayou Teche Campaign in October-November, the battery was assigned to the District of LaFourche, a parish away from New Orleans.
  • 2nd Battery:  Reporting at Fort Smith, Arkansas, with two 6-pdr field guns and four 3.80-inch James Rifles. With Captain John W. Rabb departing for a commission in the reformed 2nd Missouri (Light) Artillery Regiment, Lieutenant Hugh Espey, Jr. led this battery. His promotion to Captain would follow in January. With 2nd Brigade, District of the Frontier, the battery operated in the Indian Territories through much of the summer and fall. They moved to Fort Smith in October, remaining there through the winter.
  • 3rd Battery: No location offered, but with two 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr Napoleons, and two 3.80-inch James rifles.  Captain James M. Cockefair remained in command of this battery.  The battery consolidated in St. Louis in October. Then in November, the battery reenlisted with “veteran” status. December found them operating in West Tennessee with a column dispatched in response to a raid by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. After which, the battery prepared for movement to Louisiana as part of the Third Division, Sixteenth Corps (to operate in the Red River Campaign).
  • 4th Battery:  At Chattanooga, Tennessee with three 12-pdr Napoleons, three 12-pdr field howitzers and two 3.80-inch James Rifles. With Captain David Flansburg in a Confederate prison, Lieutenant Henry J Willits led the battery. In October, the battery moved from the Fourteenth Corps to the garrison command at Chattanooga.
  • 5th Battery: Also at Chattanooga, but with six 10-pdr Parrott rifles. Captain Peter Simonson remained in command. Lieutenant Alfred Morrison filled in as commander when Simonson picked up duties as division artillery chief. Reorganizations of the Army of the Cumberland moved this battery to First Division, Fourth Corps.
  • 6th Battery: At Pocahontas, Tennessee, with two 6-pdr field guns and two 3.67-inch rifles (though this battery was associated with two James rifles earlier in the year).  With Captain Michael Mueller in command, the battery supported Third Division, Fifteenth Corps. The battery participated in several minor operations in the fall, then moved with its parent formation to Memphis. They wintered at Pocahontas, a railroad town to the east of that place.
  • 7th Battery: Reporting at Chattanooga, Tennessee, with six 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain George R. Swallow’s battery transferred from the Third Division, Twenty-First Corps to Third Division, Fourteenth Corps (more so a lateral move of the division) as the Army of the Cumberland reorganized in October. With Swallow serving as division artillery chief, Lieutenants Ortho H. Morgan and George M. Repp had turns leading the battery.
  • 8th Battery: No return. Captain George Estep retained command of this battery. With the Twenty-First Corps broken up, the battery transferred to the garrison of Chattannooga.  As the battery lost all its guns at Chickamauga, they maned heavy guns defending the city.
  • 9th Battery: No return. Lieutenant George R. Brown commanded this battery from Sixteenth Corps.  Brown’s battery was part of the garrison at Union City, Tennessee, and were involved with operations against Forrest in December. Later the battery was dispatched to Louisiana for the Red River Campaign.
  • 10th Battery: Reporting at Chattanooga, Tennessee with five 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain William A. Naylor remained in command of this battery. With the breakup of Twenty-First Corps, the battery transferred to Second Division, Fourth Corps. 
  • 11th Battery: Another battery at Chattanooga, Tennessee, boasting two 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, four 20-pdr Parrott rifles, and four 4.5-inch siege rifles. With the breakup of the Twentieth Corps, Captain Arnold Sutermeister’s battery became part of the Chattanooga garrison for a while. Then by December was assigned as the Siege Artillery of the Army of the Cumberland.
  • 12th Battery: Reporting at Nashville, Tennessee with two 6-pdr field guns, two 24-pdr field howitzers, three 24-pdr smoothbore siege guns, one 24-pdr rifled siege gun, and five 30-pdr Parrotts.  I believe the 12th passed their four 4.5-inch siege rifles to the 11th Battery. Those sections deployed forward to Chattanooga returned to Nashville in November.  Captain James E. White remained in command.  White also presided over the 20th Indiana battery, which was also stationed at Nashville. 
  • 13th Battery: No report. Captain Benjamin S. Nicklin’s battery remained at Gallatin, Tennessee, garrisoning Fort Thomas, in the Army of the Cumberland.

So of these thirteen batteries, eleven operated in Tennessee at the close of the year. Though a couple of those batteries were earmarked for operations in Mississippi and Louisiana in the early months of 1864.

Moving to the smoothbore ammunition columns:

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  • 1st Battery: 294 shell and 402 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 2nd Battery: 193 shot and 155 case for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 3rd Battery: 105 shot and 138 case for 6-pdr field guns; 96 shot, 316 shell, and 109 case for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 4th Battery: 60 shot, 46 shell, and 173 case for 12-pdr Napoleons; 129 shell and 196 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 6th Battery: 111 shot and 182 case for 6-pdr field guns
  • 11th Battery: 110 shot and 150 case for 6-pdr field guns; 79 shell and 125 case for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 12th Battery: 56 shot and 54 case for 6-pdr field guns; 198 shells for 24-pdr siege guns.

More smoothbore on the next page:

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  • 1st Battery: 102 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 2nd Battery: 14 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 3rd Battery: 129 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 170 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 4th Battery: 94 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers; 123 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 6th Battery: 103 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • 11th Battery: 120 canister for 6-pdr; 56 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 12th Battery: 108 case for 24-pdr siege guns; 140 canister for 6-pdrs; 300 canister for 24-pdr siege guns; and 56 stands of grape for 24-pdr siege guns.

Hotchkiss rounds tallied on the right side of this page:

  • 1st Battery: 190 Hotchkiss time fuse shells for 3-inch rifles.
  • 2nd Battery: 153 Hotchkiss time fuse shells for 3.80-inch James.

Hotchkiss rounds continue on the next page:

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  • 1st Battery: 31 Hotchkiss percussion shell and 46 Hotchkiss canister for 3-inch rifles.
  • 2nd Battery: 51 Hotchkiss percussion shell and 194 Hotchkiss bullet shell for 3.80-inch James.
  • 4th Battery: 33 Hotchkiss percussion shell and 20 Hotchkiss canister for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • 6th Battery: 30 Hotchkiss percussion shell for 3.80-inch James rifles.
  • 11th Battery: 10 Hotchkiss percussion shell and 10 Hotchkiss bullet shell for 4.5-inch siege rifles.

To the right on this page is a tally for James projectiles:

  • 2nd Battery: 111 shot, 792 shell, and 58 canister of James pattern for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 3rd Battery: 52 shot, 143 shell, and 24 canister of James pattern for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 4th Battery: 10 shot, 55 shell, and 20 canister of James pattern for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 6th Battery: 59 shot, 109 shell, and 123 canister of James pattern for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 12th Battery: 25 shot and 51 shell of James pattern for 3.80-inch rifles.

And further to the right is one lone column for Parrott projectiles:

  • 5th Battery: 10 shot of Parrott patent for 10-pdr Parrotts
  • 7th Battery: 25 shot of Parrott patent for 10-pdr Parrotts.

The next page continues with Parrott patent projectiles:

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  • 5th Battery: 555 shell, 295 case, and 161 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • 7th Battery: 636 shell, 482 case, and 218 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • 10th Battery: 169 shell, 73 case, and 112 canister for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • 11th Battery: 30 shot, 54 shell, and 22 case for 20-pdr Parrotts.
  • 12th Battery: 505 shell and 150 canister for 30-pdr Parrotts.

To the right are columns for Schenkl projectiles:

  • 1st Battery: 174 Schenkl shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • 4th Battery: 168 Schenkl shell for 3.80-inch rifles.
  • 11th Battery: 10 Schenkl shot for 4.5-inch rifles.
  • 12th Battery: 180 Schenkl shot for 4.2-inch siege rifles (same bore diameter as the 30-pdr Parrott).

No projectiles under the “miscellaneous” headings. So we turn to the small arms:

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  • 1st Battery: 25 cavalry sabers.
  • 2nd Battery: 7 Enfield .577 muskets, 22 Colt army revolvers, and 21 cavalry sabers.
  • 3rd Battery: 4 musketoons (.69 caliber smoothbore), 4 Colt navy revolvers, and 20 horse artillery sabers.
  • 4th Battery: 22 Remington army revolvers and 20 horse artillery sabers.
  • 5th Battery: One Colt army revolver, 9 cavalry sabers, and 7 horse artillery sabers.
  • 6th Battery: 6 cavalry sabers.
  • 7th Battery: 2 cavalry sabers and 13 horse artillery sabers.
  • 10th Battery: 17 Colt army revolvers and 11 cavalry sabers.
  • 11th Battery: 8 Colt army revolvers, 11 Colt navy revolvers, and 9 cavalry sabers.
  • 12th Battery: 12 Colt navy revolvers and 50 horse artillery sabers.

On to the next page with cartridge bags and small arms cartridges:

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  • 1st Battery: 391 cartridge bags for 3-inch rifles.
  • 2nd Battery: 680 cartridge bags for 20-pdr Parrotts (why those are in Fort Smith, Arkansas is anyone’s guess… mine is transcription error); and 2,000 musket cartridges.
  • 3rd Battery: 300 cartridge bags for field guns/howitzers.
  • 4th Battery: 172 cartridge bags for James rifles and 3 cartridge bags for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • 5th Battery: 355 cartridge bags for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • 7th Battery: 447 cartridge bags for 10-pdr Parrotts.
  • 11th Battery: 56 cartridge bags for 20-pdr Parrotts.
  • 12th Battery: 1,045 cartridge bags for 30-pdr Parrotts.

On to the last page for pistol cartridges, fuses, and other items:

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  • 1st Battery: 1,525 friction primers; 10 yards of slow match; and 17 portfires.
  • 2nd Battery: 373 army revolver and 1000 navy revolver cartridges; 509 friction primers; and 7 portfires.
  • 3rd Battery: 2,709 friction primers; 50 yards of slow match; and 300 pistol percussion caps.
  • 4th Battery: 500 navy revolver cartridges; 1,839 friction primers; 6 yards of slow match; 450 pistol percussion caps; and 16 portfires.
  • 5th Battery: 326 paper fuses and 1,615 friction primers.
  • 6th Battery: 900 friction primers and 18 portfires.
  • 7th Battery: 643 paper fuses; 1,995 friction primers; 12 yards of slow match; and 24 portfires.
  • 10th Battery: 1,154 paper fuses and 168 friction primers.
  • 11th Battery: 80 army revolver and 600 navy revolver cartridges; 446 paper fuses; 1,923 friction primers; 2 yards of slow match; 1,815 pistol percussion caps; and 14 portfires.
  • 12th Battery: 100 pounds of mortar powder; 1,810 friction primers; and 55 musket percussion caps.

I would say, at least those reporting for the quarter, the Indiana independent batteries were well armed. Our next installment will look at the rest of those independent batteries.

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Summary Statement, 3rd Quarter, 1863 – 2nd Missouri (soon to be Light!) Artillery

Given the twists and turns of the regiment’s history, you can probably see why I consider the 2nd Missouri Artillery Regiment a store of those “lesser known” stories from the Civil War.  But our focus with the summaries is what was reported and the context from which those reports were written.  That said, we consult the 2nd Missouri’s summary for the third quarter of 1863, officially ending in September:

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Keep in mind, given the time line in the previous post, what was happening behind the scenes of this summary.  Special Orders No. 219, issued on August 13, directed the muster out of those deemed to have enlisted under the “Reserve Corps” and the reorganization of the regiment.  Also, under that order, a board reviewed all officers of the regiment to determine who would be retained.  Colonel Henry Almstedt resigned on August 27. The first round of muster-outs came in September.  Many of the released officers have a muster out date of September 28.

The start of the reorganization was a new commander.  Nelson Cole came over from the 1st Missouri Artillery, to accept a Lieutenant-Colonel’s position, with date of rank from October 2.  Under Special Orders No 261, issued September 24, Batteries E, L, and M were consolidated into Battery E.  Batteries A and B were concentrated at St. Louis, but was to be organized into a new battery.  Batteries C and D in Cape Girardeau, and likewise reorganized into a new battery.  Other batteries were regrouped geographically, with detachments of D and E around Little Rock, Arkansas; and other batteries   So let’s see how this matches (or not) with the summary given:

  • Battery A: Filing, in July 1864, from Cape Girardeau, Missouri with “infantry stores.”  This battery was the consolidation of the old Batteries C and D.  Captain John E. Strodtman was appointed commander, transferred over from the old Battery G.  (His cards indicate an alias of Emil Strodtman, who appears on the rolls of Battery D, but pending full reconciliation I must consider these two different men for now).   The battery served as heavy artillery in the Cape Girardeau defenses, part of the District of St. Louis.
  • Battery B:  A December return has this battery at New Madrid, Missouri reporting only infantry stores.  Captain John J. Sutter remained in command.  The posting, as heavy artillery, was part of the extended District of St. Louis.
  • Battery C:  An April 1864 return has this battery at Helena, Arkansas with one 6-pdr field gun and one 3.80-inch James Rifle. This data does not match with the known battery history at all.  The new Battery C was formed from the old batteries H and I.  Captain Frederick W. Fuchs, Company I, commanded the new battery.  This new battery was stationed at Cape Girardeau, alongside Battery A, as heavy artillery.  The return from Helena with field guns does not match any of the known history of this battery.
  • Battery D: A timely October 20 return places this battery at Cape Girardeau sitting on “infantry stores.”  This may be partially accurate.  The battery name transferred to St. Louis, concurrent to the regiment reorganization, and reformed with a consolidation of old Batteries A, F, G, and K.  Captain Charles Schareff (formerly of Battery I) was appointed commander at the end of September.  The battery later equipped for the field and sent forward to support the cavalry operating in Southeast Missouri and Northeast Arkansas (raising the possibility Battery C’s return above was actually Battery D’s… reflecting confusion with the reorganization).
  • Battery E: No return.  This battery was, as of the end of September, reorganized from parts of old Batteries E, L, and M, under Captain Gustave Stange (old Battery M).  The battery was assigned to 1st Cavalry Division, Department of Arkansas.  On “paper” this battery was reorganized in St. Louis.  I would offer the men and equipment remained at Little Rock, with the new battery being organized by orders issued in St. Louis.  The battery reported four 12-pdr Mountain howitzers (see below).
  • Battery F: Indicated at Iuka, Mississippi as of October 25, with four 12-pdr field howitzers.  With the regimental reorganization, Captain Clemens Landgraeber’s First Missouri Flying Artillery transferred into the regiment.  The battery supported First Division, Fifteenth Corps and was en-route with other reinforcements sent to Chattanooga.
  • Battery G: A July 1864 return date places the battery at St. Louis.  There is an illegible notation for the battery.  Remaining men in the battery were mostly transferred to Battery A.  The battery reformed on November 15, stationed at Fort No. 3, in St. Louis, “equipped with 3-inch brass guns” according to the State Adjutant-General. Lieutenant William T. Arthur transferred from Battery F, 1st Missouri for a captaincy and command of the new Battery G, 2nd Missouri.
  • Battery H: No return. Most of old Battery H transferred to new Battery C.  A new Battery H formed out of men (new and old enlistments) at Springfield, Missouri on December 4, 1863, under command of Captain William C. Montgomery (formerly of the Missouri State Cavalry).
  • Battery I: A March 1864 return has this battery at Cape Girardeau with infantry stores.  Battery I was also reformed (recreated, may be the more applicable word) in Springfield Missouri.  It’s organization date was December 28, so beyond the scope of this quarter’s summary.  Captain Stephen H. Julian would command.  Julian had previously served with the Missouri State Militia batteries.
  • Battery K: Reporting from Little Rock, Arkansas with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3-inch rifles.  Here again we catch the regiment in the state of reorganization.  This is the old Battery K, at that time part of the 1st Cavalry Division, Department of Arkansas and under Lieutenant Thaddeus S. Clarkson, a former officer on Brigadier-General John Davidson’s staff, and not actually a regimental officer.  However, that old Battery K was broken up, with most of its men transferred to the new Battery D.  A new Battery K was formed in January at Springfield, Missouri with Captain William P. Davis (briefly… but that is for the story ahead) in command.
  • Battery L: No return.  Most of the old Battery L folded into the new Battery E.  A new Battery L formed at Sedalia, Missouri and was formerly the 1st Battery, Missouri State Militia in January.  So we will see them accounted for under the “miscellaneous” portion of Missouri’s returns in this quarter.
  • Battery M: A January 1864 return has this battery at Little Rock, with four 12-pdr mountain howitzers. I would contend this was actually  Captain Gustave Stange’s old Battery M, reorganized into the new Battery E (above).  The new Battery M was organized at Fort No. 2, St. Louis, on February 15, 1864, and thus escapes our summary for this (and next) quarter.  Captain Napoleon Boardman would command this battery.
  • Quartermaster:  “Stores in charge” at St. Louis.  No doubt with all the reorganization ongoing, the regimental quartermaster was likely busy processing the turn in of government equipment from the many men mustering out.  And at the same time, he would need to account for equipment staying with the men, but moving over to new battery designations.  Certainly a job for a perfectionist.

Thus what we see in this section of the summary is a little of the “old” mixed with the “new.”  Of the four batteries reporting field artillery on hand, two were clearly the old batteries, with entries not yet reflecting the reorganization.  A third was a formerly independent battery transferred into the regiment.  The fourth eludes exact identification, but is likely one of the old batteries, prior to reorganization.  These reorganizations would continue through the next two quarters.  And beyond that, the heavy batteries were afterwards re-equipped as light batteries, completing the transformation of the regiment in late 1864.

Another point to make is the nature of the service.  The 2nd Missouri had not been thrust into major campaigns, up to this time of the war.  Other than the batteries, or portions thereof, in Little Rock and the “Flying Artillery” with the Fifteenth Corps, none of these were involved in active campaigns.  Duty with the 2nd Missouri was still “safe” for the third quarter.

That said, we have four batteries worth of ammunition to account for, starting with the smoothbores:

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Four batteries:

  • Battery C: 59 shot, 114 case, and 91 canister for 6-pdr field guns.
  • Battery F: 240 shell, and 64 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers; 330 case for mountain howitzers (likely a transcription error, and should be under the field howitzer column).
  • Battery K: 62 shell, 10 case, and 43 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery M: 2 shell, 73 case, and 46 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzers.

Not many, but a few, rifles on hand.  And Hotchkiss for those 3-inch rifles reported:

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  • Battery K: 321 canister, 193 percussion shell, 124 fuse shell, and 188 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

Moving over to the James columns:

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  • Battery C: 80 shot, 150 shell, and 70 canister for 3.80-inch rifles.

And more in that caliber under the Schenkl columns:

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  • Battery C: 40 Schenkl case for 3.80-inch rifles.

We then turn to the small arms:

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By battery:

  • Battery F: Twelve (?) Army revolvers, twenty Navy revolvers, and eighty-one cavalry sabers.
  • Battery K: Fifty-five Army revolvers, Thirty-nine Navy revolvers and thirty-four horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: Seventeen Army revolvers, sixty-four Navy revolvers, sixty-seven cavalry sabers, and thirty horse artillery sabers.
  • Quartermaster: Sixteen Army revolvers and sixteen cavalry sabers.

The report of small arms looks suspicious to me.  We don’t usually see a mix of revolver calibers.  Usually the battery was issued one or the other.  Where there are a mix reported, the quantities of one of the two is usually short.  Here we see substantial quantities.   Almost as if a column was transposed. But without the original returns, it would be impossible to determine where that error might be… if in error at all.

Though I would point out the quartermaster line has a nice even sixteen and sixteen.  As if sixteen officers turned in their pistols and sabers before mustering out.  Perhaps?

We are not done with Missouri for this quarter.  There are nine lines below the 2nd Missouri for militia batteries, independent batteries, and artillery sections in the other arms.

 

Robert E. Lee: Good, Bad and Human

For your consideration:

In Memory of Robert E. Lee Marker

The photo is from a Historical Marker Database entry, by my late friend Mike Stroud.  I might make the case this is more a “monument,” but the opening line says “in Memory of….” so maybe we put it in the memorial column.

Regardless of how we categorize the object, there is a story to tell here.  And it is one of a positive contribution to the community by a historical figure – one Robert E. Lee.

In short, a problem developed in front of St. Louis in the 1830s. A shift to the river channel caused the city’s harbor to silt up.  Unchecked, that would isolate the city from commerce, the Gateway to the West would become just another bypassed river town, and steamboats would ply their trade somewhere else.  City officials used their political clout to secure the services of the US Army Corps of Engineers, who sent a First Lieutenant named Robert E. Lee (along with Second Lieutenant Montgomery C. Meigs, but now I’m name dropping, at the expense of brevity).

The core problem was with Bloody Island, laying opposite St. Louis.  The river was slipping to the east side of that island, leaving more sediment on the Missouri side.  Lee’s solution was to let the river do the bulk of the work. He proposed a series of dikes and revetments that would entice the river to push to the west channel and thus clear out the sand bars deposited in front of St. Louis.

MapNo3StLouisLee(Map source:  Birmingham Public Library, Digital Collections)

Lee’s plan was never completely adopted.  Political influence prevented the dike construction on the north (upstream) end of Bloody Island.  But on the dike on the south end was enough.  The river soon gouged out a deep channel close to the Missouri shoreline.  The City of St. Louis continued to prosper.  And Lee was their hero.

Of course, one great irony here –  Lee had ensured St. Louis would be a thriving center of commerce and industry that would later support the Federal war effort in the west… twenty something years later.

A lesser sidebar, with all those trivial connections we enjoy- Lee’s efforts saved Bloody Island as one of those of those “in between” locations where laws were loosely enforced.  The island remained a favored spot for dueling.  On September 22, 1842, James Shields dueled Abraham Lincoln, with cavalry sabers, there on Bloody Island. It turned out a bloodless duel with both parties agreeing to a truce.

Lee did other work along the Mississippi to improve navigation, but the solution at St. Louis had the most impact.  And that impact was not forgotten.  Moving forward to 1977, the memorial shown above was placed on the waterfront, aptly in front of the Gateway Arch.  Moved a few feet in recent years, the memorial now sits between a bike trail and Leonor K Sullivan Boulevard.

But here we stand today, with a lot of talk lately about Robert E. Lee’s legacy and its place of prominence in our cultural landscape.  There can be no distancing of Lee from the Confederacy.  And by that connection, there should be no quibbling over Lee’s connection to slavery.  We cannot pretend Lee’s hands were not sullied in the matter. He was a direct participant in the system, benefited from the system, and fought to preserve that system.  Regardless of what he may, or may not, have personally felt, Lee served a country, and thereby a cause, that defined slavery as a necessary institution.

Yet, does that become the only factor in assessment of Robert E. Lee? Do we only measure him with the letters R-A-C-I-S-T?

Or, are there other factors to consider in the net assessment of Lee?  We have a preponderance of evidence that says he was a capable military leader.  He was a capable school administrator, at a time when Washington University needed one.  And, with respect to the Mississippi River at St. Louis, we can say he was a good public engineer (I’ve been known to debate his skill as a military engineer, but we shall table that for today).  Beyond that, at the personal level, we have many vignettes that indicate Lee possessed many admirable qualities… at a personal level.  None of which, of course, can, should, or would overshadow the connections Lee had to the system of slavery.   Yet these facets to the man do tell us he was a human being, just like the rest of us.  Maybe even more human than some of us.  (And certainly not the “Marble Man”.)

In his four volume biography of Lee, historian Douglas Southall Freeman closed:

That is all. There is no mystery in the coffin there in front of the windows that look to the sunrise.

Far be it for me to disagree with Freeman, who probably knew more about Lee than anyone save Lee himself. But I must say we cannot close the story of Robert E. Lee, simply looking out the windows.  He’s a complex figure, mixing good with bad, distasteful with the honorable, and repulsive with attractive.  And there’s a lot of mystery left to explore.

Then again, we can well say that about any figure we are apt to meet in history…or out on the street today.

Missouri’s Marines and their abbreviated service

Early this week I used an entry from the ordnance summaries, second quarter of 1863 to introduce the Mississippi Marine Brigade.  That unit is often associated with Missouri, if for nothing else a lack of proper place to put the records.  Though there was a recruiting focus in the river towns of Missouri, in the War Department’s view there was no connection to the state.

Before leaving the subject of marines and Missouri, I’d be remiss without mentioning there were indeed Missouri Marines raised during the Civil War.  But that organization was short lived and we don’t see them listed in official reports, returns, or organizational tables.  In 1902, the office of the Secretary of War provided a report of organizations, in response to a Senate inquiry, titled “Missouri Troops in service during the Civil War.”  After a short paragraph on the Mississippi Marine Brigade (and establishing, officially at least, that unit was not “Missouri” in parentage), the report turned to a “Marine Corps” raised in Missouri:

Among the many peculiar and illegal organizations formed by Major-General Frémont, or by his authority, during his administration of the affairs of the Western Department, was an organization designated by him as a “Marine corps.” This corps, consisting of three companies, was organized for “river transportation service,” and would have no place in a history of Missouri military organizations but for the fact that an effort has been made to give the members of the corps a military status, and that, evidently through misapprehension as to their status in the service, they were credited to the quota of the State of Missouri.

The verbiage goes a long way to distance these three companies from formal recognition – illegal, with no place, but for a mistake.  The report went on to cite Frémont’s orders:

St. Louis, August 13, 1861.

Capt. Thomas Maxwell.

Sir. You are hereby authorized to recruit a Marine Corps to serve during the war, to consist of 1 captain, 2 pilots -first and second; 4 engineers – first, second, third, and fourth, 2 mates – first and second; 1 clerk, 1 steward, 30 sailors, 8 firemen, 1 watchman, 1 cook and mate, 1 cabin boy.

When you shall have completed the organization of said corps, you will apply to these headquarters, where the necessary order will be issued.

J. C. Frémont, Major-General, Commanding.

Key point here – these were not marines in the sense that we think of.  Instead of being “leathernecks” that would provide security, landing parties, and such, this is a formation tailored to operate boats.

One day after the order, Maxwell reported the force was “enrolled.”  Five days later, Frémont sent orders to have a steam transport turned over to Captain Maxwell.  On August 20, the company was sworn in as “First Company in the First marine Corps … of Missouri Volunteers” with a three year term of service.

Following this establishment, Frémont proceeded to order two more companies.  On August 28, Captain James Abrams was authorized to form a company.   Then on September 12, Captain John Reily was likewise to form a third company, this one to include a carpenter.  The report mentioned a fourth company, under Captain John Young, but indicated no authorization documents were found.  The designation changed to “Marine Corps for River Transportation Service.”

The first three companies were assigned to transports. Reily’s operated the steamer John D. Perry, a sidewheel steamer of 382 tons (empty).   Before the war, the Perry operated on the Mississippi on a circut between Cape Girardeau, Cairo, St. Genevieve, St. Louis, and other river towns.  Under contract for the US Government, the Perry operated mostly on the Missouri River.

On October 20, 1861, the Perry was on a trip up the Missouri to Jefferson City to deliver horses and wagons.  At Portland, Missouri, about thirty miles downstream from that point, the Perry‘s pilot, John F. Smith, attempted to dock around dusk to gather wood for fuel.  Some locals immediately informed the vessel “there was a force of 150 rebels back of the town,” with intentions to capture the vessel.  The pilot quickly pulled away, tied up to an island in the river, and gathered wood.  The Perry made Jefferson City at 11 the next morning, according to a report in the Daily Missouri Democrat (reporting on October 25).  Other than that incident, there are scant reports of operations by these Missouri Marines or their boats.

The operations with contract steamers and their Missouri Marine complements ceased shortly after Major-General Henry Halleck replaced Frémont.  Determining the contracts were not proper and likewise the enlistments did not conform to regulations, Halleck moved to break up the arrangements. On December 14, Halleck directed the Missouri Marines be disbanded.  Regarding their service, Halleck wrote to Washignton:

I am discharging most of the steamers formerly in the Government employment, and mustering out of service what is called “Marine Corps,” which are nothing more than hired men on these boats. This will be a great saving of expense.

Halleck insisted the Missouri Marines were not a military organization and were thus not properly, legally mustered.  Old Brains at it again.

Captain P.T. Turnley, quartermaster, had the duty of paying off and discharging the Missouri Marines.  By working through the Quartermaster’s Department, Halleck essentially covered the matter as one of contractual obligations and not of enlistments. He reported that was complete by December 31.  Finally, under Special Orders No. 29, from the Department of Missouri, Halleck officially announced disbanding “the three Marine Corps under command of Maxwell, Abrams, and Reily….”

In 1902, the War Department put closure to the Missouri Marines:

It has always been held by the War Department, since the attention of the Department was called to the military status of the “Marine Corps,” that its muster into service was not a lawful muster into the military service of the United States, such an organization being unknown to the military establishment and not authorized by law.  The members of this force were not officers or enlisted men in the United States military service, for which reason, evidently, they were paid by the Quartermaster’s Department and not from the appropriations for pay of the Army.  They are regarded by the War Department as having been civilian employees in the Quartermaster’s Department and not having been formed a part of the military establishment of the United States.

Not stated or considered, even forty years after the war, was that the military did indeed need such services on western waters.  And such duty was eventually performed by a mix of Army and Navy personnel, along with contract labor.

(Citations from War Department, Missouri Troops in Service in During the Civil War, 57th Congress, 1st Session, Document No. 412, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1902, pages 195-7; OR, Series I, Volume 8, Serial 8, page 449; Daily Missouri Democrat, October 25, 1861, Page 2, Column 2; Documents filed in the Combined Service Record of Thomas Maxwell, Missouri, Miscellaneous papers pertaining to organizations, Record Group 94, Roll 0850.)

 

 

 

Fortification Friday: The Forts of St. Louis

Most postings this week have centered on the 2nd Missouri Artillery and St. Louis.  So I figured to continue that theme here on Friday and look at the fortifications, mentioned in earlier posts, were that regiment served at the end of June 1863.

St. Louis was an important city for the Federal war effort.  It’s shipyards turned out steamboats and ironclads to ply the western waterways.  Factories produced equipment and materials, to include cannon.  An arsenal and barracks complex provided staging points for men and materials.  The riverways, railroads, and road infrastructure made St. Louis an important logistical center.  And of course, it was famously the “Gateway to the West.”

Looking beyond just pure military matters, St. Louis was important politically for the control of Missouri.  As the state’s most populous corner, the side which controlled St. Louis had much more sway, politically, over the rest of the state (a problem “rural” Missourians complain about even to this day).   Had Missouri swung from “disputed border state” over to a “Confederate state” early in the war, the rebels could directly threaten the Old Northwest states and those of the upper Mississippi Valley.  Not to say the prospects for such a turn were likely.  Rather just to say St. Louis was more important than just a place for factories, shipyards, docks, and warehouses.  It was also the key to holding Missouri in the Union.

That said, St. Louis had to be defended.  That’s where the 2nd Missouri Artillery and other units factored in.  The city was defended by a series of forts first laid out in 1861 and not completed… well… by some measure never fully completed.  To understand the layout, we have to think of the city as it was in 1861, rolling back the sprawl that is today.  At that time, the city’s western outskirts were along Grand Avenue.  So, generally speaking, the engineers laid out a defensive line along Grand Avenue, which swept back on the north and south ends to meet the river.   The only wartime depiction of this arrangement comes from a set of engineer diagrams:

StLouisPage1_Plat

Note the north seeking arrow points to the right. The diagram is not to scale, but does show in … shall we say schematic… the arrangements.  Lacking, of course, is the run of Grand Avenue.  While useful, this diagram is far from idea.  Some good work was done by Chris Naffzinger recently, correlating the fort locations to points in an 1870 Pictorial Survey (Compton & Dry).  My intention, last night when drafting this post, was to build upon that by using an 1870 street map of St. Louis to “go between” the engineers diagram and the pictorial survey map.  But that task is a bit more complex than first assess… and will have to wait.

But what I would like to do is walk through the forts and arrangements, looking at the particular features seen.  There were ten numbered forts along with six detached batteries, which used letters for designations.

Fort No. 1: Anchoring the left of the line and situated along Chippewa Avenue.

StLouisPage2_Fort1

Three bastions connected with curtains to form a neat triangle. Notice inside is a blockhouse, taking up most of the interior, with bunks for 190 men.  A traverse covers the entrance to the blockhouse.  And in that traverse is a powder magazine.  About 400 feet on each face. While the shape is not what we come to expect for a bastion fort, it complies with Mahan’s instructions.  One departure of note, if you look at the profile A-B given in the upper left.  The bastion had an open gallery covered by a stockade.  Armament was one IX-inch Dahlgren, one 32-pdr, and one 24-pdr.  All of which were mounted on center pintle barbette mountings. Battery B, 2nd Missouri was posted here in June 1863.

Fort No. 2: Located off Cherokee Avenue and also manned by Battery B in June 1863.

StLouisPage7_Fort2

Rectangular bastion fort with two IX-inch Dahlgrens, a 32-pdr, and a 24-pdr.  A cross-shaped blockhouse, with bunks for 150 men, in the interior.  A traverse covers the sallyport.  There are a couple of variations of this fort’s plan within the set. All show a rectangular bastion.  But the interior arrangement details differed.

Battery A:  This was a redoubt located between Forts No. 2 and 3.  It was off Arsenal Street. It appeared to have three gun positions.

Fort No. 3:  Maybe we call this a “half cross”?  The fort sat just south of Lynch Street.

StLouisPage9_Fort3

The main bastion faced west and featured a position for a IX-inch Dahglren (which may not have been placed).  Covering the flanks were a pair of 32-pdrs.  Then a set of supporting bastions covered the sides and rear, each with a platform for a field gun. A blockhouse for 96 men sat within the rear face, flanked by outlets.  Battery F lived here in June 1863.

Fort No. 4: Similar layout as Fort No. 3, but off Shenandoah Street.

StLouisPage12_Fort4

Similar armament and interior arrangements, but Fort No. 4 appears to be smaller along the faces.  Note the very detailed profile on the left.  Battery I occupied Fort No. 4 during June 1863.

Fort No. 5: Positioned on the north side of Lafayette Avenue, was another with triangular layout.

StLouisPage13_Fort5

No indication as to the intended armament.  An asymmetrical layout with blockhouse and traverse in the interior. Battery A was in Fort No. 5.

Battery B:  Placed on Chouteau Avenue, and well advanced, was a redan in arrangement.

Fort No. 6: A trapezoid shape bastion fort south of Clark Avenue and covering the railroad entering the city at that sector.

StLouisPage19_Fort6_7

The bastions were configured for two IX-inch Dahlgrens and two 32-pdr guns.  A blockhouse, that wrapped around a traverse, had 96 bunks.  Battery G manned Fort No. 6 in June 1863.

Battery C:  A simple battery placed on a rise adjacent to Fort No. 7, along Olive Street.  This appeared to be a three gun arrangement for field artillery.

Fort No. 7:  Shared a plan with Fort No. 6, but was advanced on Franklin Avenue (which we’ve discussed).  Battery E’s headquarters was in this fort in June.

Battery D: Located at the corner of the St. Charles Road and Grand Avenue.  This battery covered the cavalry remount depot.  Another three gun battery.

Fort No. 8: North of the St. Charles Road (Cass Avenue), this was an enclosed redan with two bastions:

StLouisPage20_Fort8

The one bastion (left side, and what would be the north end of the fort) was setup for a IX-inch.  The other bastion had a 32-pdr.  Arrangements included three platforms for field guns. The blockhouse, which was “w” shapped, could house 200 men.  Battery E also manned this fort in June 1863.

Fort No. 9:  With a similar layout as Fort No. 8, this covered Natural Bridge Road, which entered the city from the northwest.

StLouisPage24_Fort9

Fort No. 9 had two 32-pdrs in the bastions along with three platforms for field guns.  It boasted a fully formed caponiere.  The w-shaped blockhouse could house 200 men (two full companies according to the diagram). Two outlets were covered by two traverses, which contained magazines. Fort No. 9 was assigned to Battery C.

Battery E: On the opposite side of Natural Bridge Road, this two gun battery complemented Fort No. 9.

Fort No. 10: Located west of Bellfontain Avenue, this was another quadrilateral fort:

StLouisPage27_Fort10

The four bastions supported a IX-inch Dahglren, a 32-pdr, and two 24-pdrs.  The rectangular blockhouse had 40 bunks.  Battery H manned this fort in June 1863.

Battery F: A two gun position that complemented Fort No. 10.

And that was the right end of  the line, just a few blocks from the Mississippi River.  I’m not aware of any surviving remains of these forts.  Even by 1870 the city was moving west and taking over what had been open fields in 1863.  So what we have to work with, for history’s sake, are these engineers plans and maps.  And what we see in the plans is much of Mahan’s teachings directly applied.

 

The “Horrible Assassination” of Captain Otto Schwarz, June 1, 1863

Another teaser from Tuesday’s posting … or shall I say “sordid details”… of the 2nd Missouri Artillery involved Battery E and its commander, Captain Otto Schwarz.  On the June 1863 returns for the regiment, the remark “Killed by unknown persons” appears to the right of his name.  Such a declaration, particularly for a battery not engaged in active campaigning, is interesting to say the least.

Schwarz, like many others in the 2nd Missouri, was an immigrant, having come over from Prussia.  His name appears in records as Schwartz or Swartz.  Here, I will stay with the spelling from the official documents, and drop the “t.”  I don’t know when he arrived in the United States.  But in 1860, he lived in St. Charles, Missouri (the “old” state capital, just north of St. Louis), working as a merchant.

At age 31, he enlisted in the 2nd Missouri Artillery in October 1861 (though I cannot claim any specifics, there are indications he served in the militia before the war and of course in those formations when called up in 1861).  The regimental book described him as five feet, 6½ inches tall, dark complexion, grey eyes, and light hair.  Schwarz was commissioned a second lieutenant in Battery I.  Then in October 1862 he was promoted to Captain and transferred to command Battery E.

Of course, the regiment had not, nor would in its initial enlistment period, see any significant campaigning.  Battery E was stationed at St. Louis.  But detachments of the battery were involved with skirmishes at Blomfield, Missouri in September and October 1862.  So they might claim to have seen some small part of the elephant.  Still, one might think this easy duty, guarding St. Louis.  But most of these men were recruited from the St. Louis area.  The inactivity must have given room for mischief.  Not just Battery E, but the 2nd Missouri Artillery as a whole.

Spring 1863 found Battery E manning Forts No. 7 and 8, in the defenses of St. Louis.

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A couple IX-inch Dahlgrens and a pair of 32-pdrs all in barbette pivot mountings. (Forts No. 6 and 7 had the same plan.  Fort No. 8 had one Dahlgren, two 32-pdrs, and three 12-pdr guns.) A lot of iron to throw about.  Just one of a chain of forts guarding the gateway to the west.  For all appearances, Battery E had a quiet garrison posting.

All that change… well for Schwarz, came to an end… in the early morning hours of June 1.  The Daily Missouri Democrat of St. Louis reported on June 2:

Horrible Assassination – Capt. Otto Schwartz Murdered by Soldiers – The Perpetrators Unknown.

Captain Otto Schwartz, of Company E, 2d Missouri Artillery, stationed at Fort No. 7, was murdered at one o’clock yesterday morning, in the most deliberate and cold-blooded manner.

A few moments before that hour he was in front of the residence of Lieut. Aaron Schenck at the junction of Grand and Franklin avenues, conversing with that gentleman and with Lieut. Leistner.

It was bright moon-light and the party felt disposed to enjoy the coolness and beauty of the hour.  Finally Leistner bade the Captain good-by and retired with Schenck to his room, while Capt. Schwartz moved off to return to Fort No. 7. Soon after entering their room, Schenk and Leistner heard the reports of two pistol shots, but paid little attention to them. In a few moments a groan and cry were heard in front of the house, and on opening the door they found the Captain lying mortally wounded on the pavement.

He was borne into the house, and Dr. Pondrom, Surgeon of the Second Missouri Artillery, was summoned. The patient was suffering intensely and evidently in death agony.  The Doctor could do nothing to save him.  The victim was asked who shot him.  The reply was, “I do not know; they were three soldiers together.”  He was again asked, “Were they any of your company?” He answered “No, none of my boys,” and shortly afterwards expired.

One of the balls entered the left side below the spleen, passed through the abdomen, and out above and near the right hip.  The other only passed through the calf of his right leg.  The death resulted from rapid and copious internal hemorrhage consequent upon the first wound.

A woman in the vicinity was yesterday at the Coroner’s inquest in view of the body, and testified that on hearing the pistol firing she looked out and saw three men run.  They were dressed in soldiers’ clothes. Capt. Schwartz, when shot, was at the corner of Page and Grand avenues.  He ran thence some one hundred and sixty or more yards to the spot where he was found.

No clue has yet been found to the perpetrators of this diabolical deed. By some the cause is traced to “mutiny” prevailing among certain of the 2d Missouri Artillery, and in consequence of which 3(?) score of arrests have been made within about three weeks past.  The murder is involved in mystery.

Captain Schwartz was a resident of St. Charles, was some thirty-five years of age, and unmarried.

Newspapers as far away as Ohio picked up the Democrat‘s report and ran the article.  Some newspapers apparently mistook Schwarz for a different officer of a similar name, offering the name, date, and place but mistakenly indicating the officer was in a Wisconsin regiment:

OttoSchwartz8thWis

I’m sure Otto Schwartz of the 8th Wisconsin was OK…. though his wife might have had a bad day.

I’ve not located any other accounts of the incident.  And more importantly, there are no follow up stories to provide any sort of closure.  No leads.  No suspects.  Though I’ve not exhausted every source just yet.

But this claim of mutiny in the 2nd Missouri is worth further examination.  Looking at the regimental returns, specifically at the number of soldiers in custody, there is a trend:

  • April 2: Two officers, 15 enlisted.
  • April 30: Four officers, 32 enlisted.
  • May 10: Five officers, 38 enlisted.
  • May 31: One officer, 65 enlisted.
  • June 10: One officer, 114 enlisted.
  • June 30: One officer, 195 enlisted.
  • July 10: Two officers, 176 enlisted.
  • August 10: Two officers, 105 enlisted.
  • August 20:  Three officers, twelve enlisted.

Of course, we know who one of those officers held in confinement was, but as to the rest, particularly all those enlisted men?  We can wonder about trends here and speculate something stimulated a rise in confinements starting in April, increasing in May, then peaking in June.  Keep in mind, during the five months sampled the regiment’s strength varied from 550 to 630 men.  So at the end of June, a third of the regiment was confined. Mutiny might well be the word for it.

But let us look at that “spike” in more detail.  A return from June 30 breaks out the confinements by battery:

  • Battery A:  One officer (Captain Michael Laux, who we know).
  • Battery B: 10 enlisted.
  • Battery C: 12 enlisted.
  • Battery D: No report.  This battery was at Cape Girardeau, Missouri
  • Battery E: 5 enlisted.
  • Battery F: 26 enlisted.
  • Battery G: 5 enlisted.
  • Battery H: None.
  • Battery I: 6 enlisted.
  • Battery K:  43 enlisted.
  • Battery L: 15 enlisted.
  • Battery M: 73 enlisted.

Recall the summary listing from earlier this week.  Batteries K, L, and M were actually not at St. Louis, but rather serving as light artillery in Southeast Missouri.  Such may help explain the number of confinements.  And may not necessarily be confinements due to mutinous behavior – infractions or missing movements, for example.

But looking through the newspaper’s articles that spring, it is apparent 2nd Missouri soldiers were involved with numerous altercations.  There are reports of stabbings, shootings, and fights.  And several appear in the weekly list of prisoners, identified as from the regiment.  A particularly bad incident occurred on July 4, with numerous – numbering above two dozen – members of the regiment arrested for questioning.  We might attribute that sort of behavior to disciplinary problems… but again… maybe not mutiny.

But most interesting among the “troubles” appearing for the 2nd Missouri occurred at the front end of this bulge of confinements. On April 23, the Daily Missouri Democrat reported:

Fort No. 8, St. Louis, April 21, 1863

A word from the detachment of Company E, 2d Missouri, referring to the President’s proclamation:

An order was received at this post yesterday, from Col. Almstedt’s headquarters, to furnish a certain George Hays with a safe-guard, to proceed to a certain house to recover his property, the said property being a runaway female slave.  When upon the men refusing to be used for such a duty on the plea that they had not enlisted as negro catchers, they were all ordered under arrest.  We support the above needs no comments.

[List of eleven soldiers, by name, who refused the assignment]

Some of the soldiers refusing were non-commissioned officers, indicating this was not some privates revolt against doing work.  This was a considered stand to make.  The next day, the paper walked this back a bit, claiming they intended to print the notice with some commentary.  But those comments had been inadvertently left out.  Concluding on the matter, the editor wrote:

It most clearly is the duty of the soldier to obey his superior officers, leaving responsibility of his consequent action upon the authority commanding it. If, however, he feels that is conscience or manhood will be outraged by yielding obedience to any particular order, then it is equally his duty to accept arrest and punishment without complaint.  But, as to the order referred to in this instance, our information leads us to conclude that the circumstances under which it was issued perfectly justify it, and that the disobedience was itself as unpardonable as the subsequent complaint was unsoldierly and wrong.

First, recall that Missouri was listed among the exemptions in the Emancipation Proclamation.  So Mr. Hays may have been a legal slaveholder, at least at that moment in time.  The question here is really if the military commander had an obligation to assist Hays, under his authority.  And that, I would submit, opens a larger can of worms.

But this brings up yet another possible reason for mutinous behavior.  And specifically from the men of Battery E.  Implied in the situation is Schwarz was the officer issuing the order to these men, as they came under his direct control.  I have looked through the records of six of the eleven, and find no indication of punishment or arrest.  Though a short period of confinement, say a few days, would slip go unrecorded in the service records.  But I would point out that two of these men went on to promotions and to reenlist in the regiment later in the fall.  Not graces normally accorded to those punished for disobedience.

So, we are left with Captain Schwarz killed by three soldiers, from the death-bead testimony of the victim, supported by one witness.  And we have a cry of mutinous behavior in the regiment.  Maybe we need to look deeper at the “climate” of the 2nd Missouri at this time.  The men were serving at home, literally for many.  They were given rather mundane garrison duty. They were close to the end of enlistments.  The city offered many distractions and “entertainment.”  And they were given orders that at least some found distasteful.

Any one of those factors… or all of those factors… might lead to a motive for shooting Captain Otto Schwarz.

“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?