Operations against Charleston, February 9-13, 1865, Part 2: The Last Battles about Charleston

While Major-General William T. Sherman’s forces in the interior of South Carolina were working across the South Fork of the Edisto River on February 10, 1865, outside Charleston, a small Federal force was mounting one of the many demonstrations directed to keep Confederate forces pinned to the coast.  The demonstration was, to say the least, uninspired.

Almost like a thread that keeps being pulled, the operation called for a Federal force to work its way across Sol Legare against Confederate pickets on the southwestern end of James Island.  This approach was used before the battle of Grimball’s Landing in July 1863, then again during the operations of July 1864, and also for several minor operations conducted during the second half of the war.

The approach put Federal troops in front of a well designed belt of defensive works, which could be held by a small Confederate force.  Out in front of the line of works was a picket line, with its own earthworks, covering Grimball’s and Rivers’ Causeways leading off Sol Legare.  Since the Federals had often used those causeways to threaten James Island, the Confederates had fully developed the positions to allow a small force to defend against a much larger force.  And that, in a nutshell, is the story of the Battle of Grimball’s Causeway.

On the night of February 9, Brigadier-General Alexander Schimmelfennig had a small brigade, roughly 1,200 men, move onto Sol Legare, by way of landing on Front Cole’s Island.  The force consisted of the 54th and 144th New York Infantry, 32nd and 33rd USCT, and the 55th Massachusetts.  Supporting this movement, the Navy provided two gunboats, a tug, and two mortar schooners to support the demonstration.  On the Stono River, Lieutenant-Commander A.W. Johnson lead the USS Wissahickon and mortar schooner USS C.P. Williams.  On the Folly River, the USS Commodore McDonough and mortar schooner USS Dan Smith, under Lieutenant-Commander A.F. Crosman, covered the right flank of the Federal advance. At the Army’s request, two monitors came over the bar into the Stono.  Only the USS Lehigh moved up the river to engage, however.  Lieutenant-Commander Alexander A. Semmes, on the Lehigh, was in overall command of the naval forces.

The landings went off well on the morning of the 10th.  At around 9 a.m. the mortar schooners commenced firing on the Confederate picket line.  The gunboats and monitor joined in with direct fire.  This had the desired effect of getting the attention of the Confederate pickets.  Meanwhile Hartwell had the two New York regiments maneuver and counter-march on Sol Legare to directly threaten the pickets.

On the Confederate lines, Major Edward Manigault, commanding the right end of the Confederate line on James Island, came up to the picket line in response to reports of activity.  On the line were, according to Manigault’s recollections, 100 men of the 2nd South Carolina Heavy Artillery and 20 cavalrymen.  Reinforcements came in the form of a three companies from the Palmetto Guards and a detachment of dismounted cavalry, amounting to 188 men.  Distributing this force, Manigault had 160 men at Grimball’s Causeway and 48 at River’s Causeway.  The remainder were held in reserve or on the picket line between those two points.

The demonstration remained distant gunboat fire and show until around 5 p.m.  Hartwell pressed the two New York regiments against Grimball’s Causeway with rush.  This pushed in the Confederate skirmishers and might have dislodged the position if continued.  Having gained the outer rifle pits, however, the Federals were content to hold what they had.

Among the casualties on the Confederate side was Manigault himself.  Struck near the spine with a wound considered mortal, he lay in the line of rifle pits overtaken by the Federals along with a soldier from the Palmetto Guard who stayed, tending to the officer.  Manigault later recalled:

Immediately after, 6 men of the 54th N.Y. (with unmistakable brogue) came up and took [the soldier] prisoner, and then took me.  I was in a moment despoiled of my watch, sword, pistol, and field glass and, shortly after, taken on a blanket to Grimball’s Causeway where Capt. [Gustav] Blau, 54th New York, was in command of our men’s rifle pits, or earthwork, which we had just abandoned.

Manigault survived the wound and the war.  Writing in 1902, he recalled the South Carolinians lost seven or eight killed or wounded, with 17 captured.  Other sources put the number at 20 killed and 70 wounded.  The Federals suffered a like number of casualties.

For the Navy, the only tense moment came in regard to the gunboat McDonough, which suffered boiler trouble.  While never under fire, the vessel had to wait until a tow could be arranged to get to safety downriver.

With darkness, both sides settled in.  The Navy continued firing through the night at fifteen minute intervals.  Batteries on Morris Island resumed bombarding Charleston.  The Federals retained their lodgement until the night of February 11.  Major-General Quincy Gillmore had decided to switch the focus of demonstrations to Bull’s Bay.  So the forces on Sol Legare were needed elsewhere.

To keep up the “show” and maintain pressure on James Island, Schimmelfennig mounted a feint against Battery Simkins and Fort Sumter on the night of February 11.  Major John A. Hennessy, 52nd Pennsylvania, lead a boat demonstration out into Charleston Harbor.  “The enemy opened a lively artillery fire from Simkins and Sullivan’s Island and a musketry fire from Simkins and Sumter,” reported Schimmelfennig. The actions of February 10-11 did force the Confederates to reallocate troops from Sullivan’s Island to James Island.  Otherwise, the demonstrations had little effect on events to follow.

One more operation was mounted in front of James Island before Charleston fell.  Sensing from intercepted dispatches that the Confederates were shifting troops back to Sullivan’s Island, and wishing to keep those troops distracted from the landings at Bull’s Bay, Schimmelfennig moved a force under Colonel Eugene Kozlay, 54th New York, onto Sol Legare (again!) on February 13-14.  Covering the maneuvers, the Navy’s gunboats fired a few more shots into the Confederate lines… perhaps the last such fired at James Island during the war.  The Federal force retired on the night of February 14.

Designed to keep the Confederates distracted and focused on James Island, these operations were more like a soft punch landed against a recoiling opponent.  Even as Schimmelfennig made his last demonstration, the Confederates had orders cut for the evacuation of Charleston.   Gillmore, content to make a demonstration at Bull’s Bay, which he hoped might catch the Confederates off guard.  But before I move to the discussion of Bull’s Bay and pesky issues like tides and the draft of ships, allow me to review the particulars of the Confederate withdrawal from Charleston.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, page 1017; Manigault’s, and much of the information accounting for the battle of Grimball’s Landing, from Edward Manigault, Siege Train: The Journal of a Confederate Artilleryman in the Defense of Charleston, edited by Warren Ripley, Charleston: University of South Carolina Press, 1986, pages 243-7.)

“A good effect in worrying the enemy”: Demonstrations on the Stono and Edisto Rivers, January 1865

Earlier this week I mentioned several demonstrations that took place along the coast of South Carolina in the last days of January 1865.  One of these demonstrations lead to the loss of the USS Dai Ching.  Less costly, and more important to the overall Federal efforts, were two demonstrations which for all practical purposes were “showings.”  The operations on the Stono and Edisto Rivers were indeed “demonstrations” in every sense of the word.

The Stono River demonstration evolved from a request by Brigadier-General Alexander Schimmelfennig.  Throughout January the Federal outposts behind Morris Island reported increased Confederate activity.  The fear was the Confederates were setting up new batteries on James Island.  Due to Schimmelfennig’s reduced garrison manpower, he requested a gunboat venture up the Stono River.  The first attempt, on January 24, failed outright, as “the permission to do so having been sent by Admiral [John] Dahlgren through the signal corps in the common code, the enemy was informed of our intention….” Though enough information was gleaned to verify no new batteries were in place, the Federals felt the need to put more pressure on the Confederates on James Island.

Jan65Stono

On January 28, the gunboat USS Commodore McDonough tried the Stono again.  Lieutenant-Commander Alex F. Crosman, commanding, reported:

… I went up the river as far as the point of woods about 3,000 yards from Fort Pringle, with which work I exchanged numerous shots.

Most of my shell fell inside of the work, and Pringle replied with but two heavy guns, which I am confident were smoothbore.  Not a shell exploded near me, but though some of the enemy’s shot were very fairly directed. They were all, I think, solid shot.

Feeling the woods occasionally as I moved up with shell and grape, I sent the boat’s crew ashore and burned successively the Legaré’s house and the house and outbuildings on the wooded points in whose vicinity the Pawnee lay last July.

Crosman remained at arm’s length from the Confederate batteries.  The houses on James Island again suffered (nearby Legareville being burnt the previous summer).  He reported expending twelve IX-inch shells, thirteen 6.4-inch Parrott rounds (shell and case shot), twenty-four 50-pdr Dahlgren shells, two stands of IX-inch grapeshot, one 6.4-inch canister, and one 24-pdr howitzer canister.  The use of grape, canister, and case shot to “feel” the woods near the shore was a standard tactic for the gunboats when in close proximity to Confederate lines.  Summing up his activities, Crosman noted:

I am convinced there are no new works on John’s Island, and also that Fort Pringle is not so formidable as it was in July last.  No torpedoes are in the river yet, as I went up purposely at dead low water to endeavor to discover them.

While Crosman probed the Stono, further to the west on Edisto Island, another expedition, this one a joint Army-Navy operation, tested Confederate defenses in that sector.  Major-General John Foster ordered Brigadier-General Edward E. Potter “… to proceed to Edisto Island, and with the Thirty-second U.S. Colored Troops, already landed there, to make a strong demonstration towards Willstown, on the South Edisto River….”   Knowing the Confederates retained significant garrisons guarding the railroad and roads between Willstown and Adams’ Run, Foster hoped this would distract from the Salkehatchie.  Major-General William T. Sherman would approve and add that the demonstration should look as “a lodgement seemingly to cover the disembarkation of a large body.”

Unlike the demonstration mounted in July 1864 in the same area, Potter was directed to move by way of Jehossee Island.

Jan65Edisto

However, when he arrived at Edisto Island, Potter had second thoughts about that route.  Instead, after conferring with Commander George B. Balch, commanding the naval forces operating in the North Edisto, Potter decided to move by way of White Point Landing. This, of course, put Potter’s force directly against some of the Confederate defenses which stalled Federal advances the previous July.  So on the evening of January 29, the 32nd USCT moved up river to that place under cover of the USS Sonoma, USS Pawnee, and USS Daffodil.  Reporting on January 30, Balch wrote:

At 8 a.m. this morning, at General Potter’s request, we opened fire for an hour, at the expiration of which time his troops advanced, accompanied by a light 12-pounder of the Sonoma.  There has been occasional firing from the howitzer and the infantry, but not heavy enough to lead one to suppose that the enemy is in strong force.

Potter simply intended to get the attention of the Confederates then fall back to White Point.  After advancing a short distance, they ran up against a well positioned battery.  By 7 p.m. the force was back at the landing and embarking back on the ships.  To cover the activity on land, Balch sent the tug Daffodil up Dawho Creek.  He’d also posted the Sonoma upriver.   “I believe this movement of General Potter will have a good effect in worrying the enemy,” Balch reported.

Potter’s force remained on Edisto Island the next few days.  A provisional brigade of around 1,400 in number formed under Potter.  Two other regiments, the 55th Massachusetts and 144th New York, joined  the 32nd USCT.  Over the next few days these troops would make the impression desired – of an advanced covering force preceding a landing.

But for all the fluster, these demonstrations appear to have little impact on the Confederates.  Instead it was the crossing of the Savannah River at Sister’s Ferry that had their attention.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part I, Serial 98, page 1013; Part II, Serial 99, pages 140 and 151; ORN, Series I, Volume 16, pages 204 and 206.)

Distribution of Vessels, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, January 1, 1865

During the war the commanders of the Navy’s operating squadrons provided periodic reports on the assignments of vessels in their respective commands.  Rear-Admiral John Dahlgren did so twice a month (with some variance, but more or less on the 1st and 15th of each month).  As was the practice, he submitted a report on January 1, 1865.  The report was the first since the fall of Savannah.  So there were adjustments due to the changing situation and mission.  Obviously, with no need to blockade Savannah and no threat from rams from that port, Dahlgren could reallocate his forces.  Considering the operations that followed in the first months of 1865, it’s worth a look at the Navy’s dispositions on the first day of the year.

The first grouping to look at is the area from the South Carolina border to Charleston:

NavalStationsJan1_SC1

As of January 1, no vessel patrolled Murrell’s Inlet.  The furthest north assignment was the steamer USS Canadaigua covering Winyah Bay, approaches to Georgetown, and Cape Romain.  The sailing vessels USS George Mangham and USS James S. Chambers covered Bull’s Bay.  Of course, north of the state line was the jurisdiction of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron.  There was a significant naval force operating off Cape Fear against the Confederate defenses there.  But that falls outside the scope of my post.

Laying outside the bar of Charleston, the blockade consisted of the steamers USS James Adger, USS Wamsutta, USS Nipsic, USS Mary Sanford, USS South Carolina, USS Flambeau, USS Memphis, and USS Potomska.  The tugs USS Laburnum, USS Azalea, and USS Sweet Brier also operated outside the bar.  These vessels formed the primary force to intercept blockade runners inbound to Charleston.

Inside the bar, with the mission to block either runners or rams from exiting the harbor, was the strongest elements of the squadron.  This force included seven monitors – USS Patapsco, USS Montauk, USS Nahant, USS Passaic, USS Nantucket, USS Lehigh, and USS Catskill (under repairs).   The tugs USS Gladiolus, USS Catalpa, USS Hydrangea, USS Jonquil, USS Geranium, and USS Oleander supported the monitors and patrolled the ship channels.  Other vessels inside the bar off Charleston were the sailing vessels USS John Adams, USS Orvetta, USS Sarah Bruen, and USS Sea Foam.  The tender USS Home was also in the waters off Morris Island.

Also off Morris Island, but operating in support of the Army, were the gunboats USS Wissahickon and USS Commodore McDonough, along with the mortar schooners (abbreviated M.S. for my map) USS T.A. Ward, USS Dan Smith, and USS C.P. Williams.:

NavalStationsJan1_SC2

South of Charleston, several vessels covered the waterways of South Carolina.  The sailing ship USS St. Louis covered the North Edisto.  The gunboat USS Stettin and schooner USS Norfolk Packet covered St. Helena Sound.

At Port Royal were the steamers USS Philadelphia and USS Pawnee; the tugs USS Arethusa, USS Carnation, USS Larkspur, and USS O.M. Pettit; and the sailing vessel USS Houghton.  In addition the steamers USS Mingoe and USS Pontiac, along with tugs USS Daffodil and USS Dandelion, were operating up the Broad River in direct support of Army operations there.  Other vessels listed at Port Royal were tenders and hulks, which included the old ship of the line USS New Hampshire and the old blockade runner USS Chatham.

Also at Port Royal, but not available due to servicing and repairs (and thus not tallied on my maps), were the monitor USS Sangamon; steamers USS Cimarron, USS Ottawa, and USS Winona; tugs USS Acacia, USS Amaranthus, USS Iris, USS Camelia, and USS Clover;  and the sailing ships USS Braziliera and USS George W. Rogers.

Covering the coast of Georgia, the squadron was now able to spread itself thin:

NavalStationsJan1_GA

Posted to the Savannah River was the steamer USS Sonoma and mortar schooner USS Racer.   The mortar schooner USS John Griffin was posted to Wassaw Sound.  The steamer USS Flag and mortar schooner USS Para policed the waters of Ossabow Sound.  The bark USS Fernandina covered St. Catherine’s Sound.  The steamer USS Lodona‘s assignment was Sapelo Sound.  The USS Saratoga was in Doboy Sound.   The bark USS Ethan Allen plyed the waters off St. Simon’s Island.  And the USS Dai Ching covered St. Andrew’s Sound.  The latter vessel, one of Dahlgren’s light draft steamers, was due to move north and cover South Carolina waters.

The brig USS Perry provided support to Army posts at Fernandina, Florida.  further south in Florida (and off my map), the steamers USS Norwich and USS E.B. Hale operated in the St. Johns River.

Add to these forces the various armed transports operated by the Army, for whom there is scant accounting in the official records.  All considered, a formidable force ranging from ironclads to armed tugs confronted the Confederate forces along the southern Atlantic coastline.

NOTE: Several of the sailing vessels had been rated as mortar schooners earlier in the war.  In some cases, with the mortars removed, those vessels served as blockaders.  I’ve tallied those former mortar schooners as sailing blockaders for this post.  So if you sense there is some mis-match of the ratings, keep that in mind.

(The Distribution of vessels of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, January 1, 1865, is recorded in ORN, Series I, Volume 16, pages 154-5.)

July 5, 1864: The “very remarkable” practice of Dahlgren’s 50-pdr rifle

July 5, 1864 brought the fourth straight day that Federals and Confederates sparred on the west end of James Island.  Though not a full scale engagement by Civil War standards, the firing at times involved some of the heaviest weapons of the war.

Anchoring the right of the Confederate lines was Battery Pringle with one 10-inch columbiad, one 8-inch columbiad, two rifled 42-pdrs, two rifled 32-pdrs and two 8-inch shell guns. On the Federal side, the largest guns were afloat.  The monitor USS Lehigh carried a XV-inch smoothbore and an 8-inch Parrott rifle.  Her sister, the USS Montauk, had a XV-inch and am XI-inch guns.   The mortar schooners USS Racer and USS Para brought 13-inch seacoast mortars to the fight.  The USS Commodore McDonough carried less weight, with only a IX-inch gun and several field-piece caliber weapons.  And the gunboat USS Pawnee carried eight IX-inch Dahlgren guns, a 6.4-inch Parrott, and a 50-pdr Dahlgren rifle.

It was this latter weapon which Rear Admiral John Dahlgren would boast of loudest in a report, written a couple weeks later, to his old command, the Bureau of Ordnance, in Washington:

I enclose a report from Captain Balch, commanding the USS Pawnee, of the firing made by the Dahlgren 50-pounder in that vessel.

The distances are correctly known by the chart of the Coast Survey.

The object was the rebel Battery Pringle, on the east side of the Stono, a very formidable work.

I consider the result as very remarkable, that is, striking 298 times out of 347 shots, at a distance of 3,200 or 4,400 yards.

The whole firing, however, was excellent with the various pieces – Parrott 8-inch rifle, Dahglren XI-inch, and 50-pounder, XIII-inch mortars, etc. – in each instance the cloud of earth thrown from the work exhibiting the great accuracy.

The XI-inch was fired with 20-pounds of powder.

The vessels engaged were the Pawnee, Lehigh, Montauk, McDonough, Racer, and Para, commanded by Captains Balch, Semmes, Johnson, Phythian, Phinney, and Furber.

The accuracy of the rebel fire was also considerable.  I have seen three successive shots only miss the turret. In one instance a man lost a leg and another badly wounded; both in the Montauk.

Not often in modern warfare that a weapon’s designer is allowed to wield it in combat.

At the time of the engagement, Dahlgren perhaps had thoughts of the previous summer in mind. He suggested to Major-General John Foster that a battery placed on John’s Island, and covered by the monitors, could work to reduce Battery Pringle.  The army officers soon dismissed that option, noting how extensive the Confederate works were already.  By the time a proper siege were laid, the Confederates could prepare additional defenses in depth.  James Island was not Morris Island, after all.

But to the Confederates James Island was a sensitive point.  It was the route taken by the British in 1780 to capture Charleston.  So the line to the left of Battery Pringle was vital to holding the cradle of secession.  Toward that end, Brigadier-General William Taliaferro requested heavier ordnance to combat the ironclads in the Stono. Specifically, he asked for a Brooke Rifle placed in Battery Pringle so as to cover the Stono River.   To provide such, Major-General Samuel Jones had to shift one of his precious heavy rifles from a position defending the harbor entrance.

(Citation from OR, Series I, Volume 15, pages 557-8.)

Raids along the coast: Were these precursors to the burning in the Shenandoah Valley?

Last week I discussed the Combahee Ferry Raid. But that was not the only raid Major-General David Hunter authorized. In the days after the 2nd South Carolina’s foray, several other similar raids hit points along the South Carolina and Georgia coast.

On June 4, 1863 a party from Fort Pulaski on five steamers worked through the backwaters to Bluffton, South Carolina. The Naval portion was lead by Lieutenant-Commander George Bacon on the USS Commodore McDonough. The Army detachment was from the 48th New York, led by Colonel William Barton. Bacon reported firing 143 rounds during the raid – fire from IX-inch Dahlgren, 100-pdr Parrott, 50-pdr Dahlgren rifle, and boat howitzers. Most of which were fired from the howitzers.

The Confederates were ill-disposed to oppose landings. Once again, Captain John F. Lay made an official investigation into the matter. Lay described the results of the raid in blunt terms:

The ashes of Bluffton, with its withered and scorched remains of noble trees and beautiful shrubbery, present a sad scene of desolation and fiendish vandalism unparallelled in the history of civilized nations.

And note please, the 48th was a white regiment.

Days later on June 8, another Federal force landed at Brunswick, Georgia. Prompt Confederate response thwarted the raiders. But a pattern was developing.

After losing two brigades to reinforce the imperiled western theater, General P.G.T. Beauregard reduced many of the outlying coastal posts. In many sectors, roving patrols were the only defenses. Beauregard did keep the Charleston & Savannah and the Atlantic & Gulf railroad lines protected. But a “no man’s land” lay between the railroad defenses and the coast. That area included many rice plantations and mills. Sort of a “rice bowl of the Confederacy” if I may. In addition many of the coastal communities supported fishing, shrimping, and other trades. Furthermore the docks and wharfs in those communities were part of a backwater transportation route used to move goods that supported the Confederate army.

Were these rice fields, rice mills, docks, and other facilities legitimate targets? Hunter thought so. A devout abolitionist, Hunter was not the type to shy away from “hard war.” But even Hunter set some limitations. In a June 9 letter to Colonel James Montgomery, the 2nd South Carolina (US) Infantry who’d just returned from the Combahee Raid, Hunter put forth directives about how these raids were to be conducted:

To sections I, II, III of these instructions I beg to call your particular attention; not that in any manner I doubt the justice or generosity of your judgment, but for the reason that it is peculiarly important, in view of the questions which have heretofore surrounded the employment of colored troops in the armies of the United States, to give our enemies (foreign and domestic) as little ground as possible for alleging any violation of the laws and usages of civilized warfare as a palliation for these atrocities which are threatened against the men and officers of commands similar to your own. If, as is threatened by the rebel Congress, this war has eventually to degenerate into a barbarous and savage conflict, softened by none of the amenities and rights established by the wisdom and civilization of the world through successive centuries of struggle, it is of the first moment that the infamy of this deterioration should rest exclusively and without excuse upon the rebel Government. It will therefore be necessary for you to exercise the utmost strictness in insisting upon compliance with the instructions herewith sent, and you will avoid any devastation which does not strike immediately at the resources or material of the armed insurrection which we are now engaged in the task of suppressing.

There’s a lot I should highlight in that paragraph. But I think it better for the reader to consider it without my markup. Hunter cites General Orders, No. 100, titled “Instructions for the government of armies of the United States in the field” or commonly referred to as the Lieber Code. The first three sections of those are too long for full citation here, so I refer you to the Avalon Project’s page on the orders.

One does not need to read between the lines to see Hunter wanted the Confederates to pull the first offense here. And reading between the lines, and considering the context of the Combahee Raid, the letter does sound like a rebuke, though only slightly, for Montgomery.

Hunter drew down on specific actions which he condoned:

All fugitives who come within our lines you will receive, welcome, and protect. Such of them as are able-bodied men you will at once enroll and arm as soldiers. You will take all horses and mules available for transportation to the enemy; also all cattle and other food which can be of service to our forces. As the rebel Government has laid all grain and produce under conscription, to be taken at will for the use of its armed adherents, you will be justified in destroying all stores of this kind which you shall not be able to remove; but the destruction of crops in the ground, which may not be fit for use until the rebellion is over, or which may when ripe be of service to the forces of our Government occupying the enemy’s country, you will not engage in without mature consideration. This right of war, though unquestionable in certain extreme cases, is not to be lightly used, and if wantonly used might fall under that part of the instructions which prohibits devastation. All household furniture, libraries, churches, and hospitals you will of course spare.

I know there are a million stories about the “Yankee devils” who burned everything in sight, and thus violate the rules Hunter prescribed. But focus for a moment on what Hunter felt was within bounds. Fugitives and slaves – see Articles 42 and 43 of the code, after the Emancipation Proclamation no gray area there (no pun intended). Horses, mules, cattle, and foodstuffs became “public property” in Hunter’s view. And you see his justification. I call to your attention then the irony of a government founded on the promise of States Rights, having to impose a levy on private property to feed its army, which in turn is considered the release for the opposing force to seize said private property!

That the wickedness and folly of the enemy may soon place us in a position where the immutable laws of self-defense and the stern necessity of retaliation will not only justify but enjoin every conceivable species of injury is only to be too clearly apprehended; but until such time shall have arrived, and until the proof, not merely of declarations or resolves but of acts, is unmistakable, it will be both right and wise to hold the troops under your command to the very strictest interpretation of the laws and usages of civilized warfare.

This comes from the same man who would, almost to a year later to the day, also order the burning of the Virginia Military Institute. And a whole lot more. Did Hunter’s interpretation of the Lieber Code change in the span of a year? Or was the destruction at VMI just a continuation of the practice he set on the coast? Likewise did Hunter legitimize the “rice bowl” and the “bread basket” as targets in the same manner? And how do we reconcile the differing perceptions of Lay and Hunter with respect to the conventions of war?

A lot to ponder. And I do hope this sets up some cross-talk among my fellow bloggers. But for now, I am moving down the coast to Montgomery’s next stop at a place called Darien.

(Citations from OR, Series I, Volume 14, Serial 20, pages 314 and 466-7.)