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Friday, October 19, 2018

Help Transcribing William M. Horton Diary, June 21 and 22, 1864

I'd be very grateful for some help transcribing Private William M. Horton's diary for June 21 and 22, 1864, especially with the cross-writing.

Here is what I have transcribed:

June 21

Relieved after daylight, “We come up with the regt about 8 o’clock.  We eat our Breakfast and lay Down for a little rest.  We are routed up and ordered to march until the middle of the Wms farm.  Our advance comes up with the enemy Pickets.  Drive them in a brisk skirmish….”

June 22

“We are shoved around from one place to another nearly all Day,” Horton recorded.  “At about 4 O’clock we advanced to the front about 5 ½ rods for the purpose of coming up but in double quick time to the breast works….”

The diary page is 41 of the following link:


Saturday, October 13, 2018

A Really Helpful Website for Research

Here's a link to a really helpful website for research on the Civil War: Civil War Diaries  This website currently has 1,022 diaries available for downloading.  Googling the diaries you use will usually be necessary to find out if there is also a repository to credit.  Deciphering the handwriting is also up to you.

I drew on this website for research on my current project about Grant's Second Offensive at Petersburg, particularly about June 22, 1864.  The diaries I found at the website included those from

Barlow's division
John L. Ryno, 126th New York
William M. Horton, 26th Michigan

Gibbon's division
Charles H. Peterson, 12th New Jersey
Charles Rubright, 106th Pennsylvania (this is also at Auburn University)
Myron Owen, 8th New York Heavy Artillery
Wilbur Huntington Proctor, 10th New York

Mott's division
Benjamin M. Peck, 141st Pennsylvania
Jacob Lyons, 120th New York

Wilcox's division
W. A. Mauney, 28th North Carolina
W. D. Alexander, 37th North Carolina

Friday, September 28, 2018

Disappointing Regimental Histories

Sad when a regimental history does not measure up to its predecessor.  Wilkinson's history of the 57th Massachusetts does not measure up to Anderson's.  Brandt's history of the 87th Pennsylvania does not measure up to Prowell's.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

June 22, 1864 v. August 19, 1864

June 22, 1864 involved a rout of seven brigades of II Corps (about 12,000 men) by three brigades of Mahone's division (around 3,000 men) resulting in approximately 2,500 casualties.

August 19, 1864, involved a rout of five brigades of V Corps by three brigades led by Mahone (about 2,400 men) resulting in around 3,000 casualties.

Though June 22, 1864 is one of the hardest days to understand in the Siege of Petersburg (because of the complex movements involved), it is easier to write about than August 19, 1864.  This is because there are sufficient sources to piece together what happened on June 22, 1864, even though this is like assembling an enormous puzzle, one tiny piece at a time.  Many of the soldiers in the seven routed brigades of II Corps escaped to tell their stories.

The problem with August 19, 1864, is that relatively few of the five brigades of V Corps escaped to tell their stories.  Far too many perished in Andersonville and other Southern prison camps.  

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Plausible Timeline for June 22, 1864

This may have been the least understood day of the Siege of Petersburg.

Master Time Sheet June 22, 1864.  Criticism welcome.

12:50 a.m.  Barlow ready to advance.

2 a.m. Wheaton’s (Second) division crosses N & P RR.
3 a.m. VI Corps starts arriving near Jones house.

4 a.m. Wheaton’s division halts near Jones house on JPR for rest and breakfast.
4:50 a.m.  VI Corps mistakenly expected to advance but needs rest and food

7:30 a.m.  Barlow ordered to advance, swinging forward left, closing up on Mott who is occupying position pointed out June 21, notifying Wright.

10 a.m.  Barlow directed to advance without reference to Wright.  (Making explicit the difference in tenor between the messages of 4:50 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.)

              “ Wilcox directed to move.

10:30 a.m. Wilcox’s division moves.

11 a.m. VI Corps gets moving to left of II Corps.

              “ Lane’s brigade marches.

              “ Lee observes Federals in front of Mahone.

12:10 p.m. Ricketts on Williams road with Wheaton behind.  Russell’s skirmish line fired upon.

1 p.m.  Alabama, Georgia and Virginia drop out of Dimmock Line.

1:10 p.m. Ricketts has met enemy skirmishers, who drove his men back, but they have recovered.  “The country is reported as very thick.”

2 p.m.  Mahone’s men march.

              “ Wilcox’s men form, advance a mile, fight 30-45 minutes.

              “ Girardey reaches Hill.

2:30 p.m. Skirmishing mainly in front of Ricketts (on VI Corps left).  Russell on VI Corps right preparing to flank enemy. 
              “ Wright sends messenger to warn Birney.

              “ Girardey reaches Wilcox.

3 p.m.  Hill visits Wilcox.

              “ Mahone launches his attack.

              “ Birney saddles up staff to inspect front.

              “ Morgan rides out to see Barlow.

3:15 p.m.  Wright and Birney engaged; Warren and Burnside told to prepare to help.   
Wright driven from railroad.  Wheaton holding left flank.  Warren can supply a brigade each from Ayres and Griffin.  

3:30 p.m.  Blakemore reaches Wilcox, Mills captured by 26th Michigan.

4 p.m. First Brigade, Wheaton’s division ordered to right in reserve to Russell’s (First) division.

“              “  Mahone's fight over.

                Warren told to supply two brigades at double-quick.  Barlow and Gibbon broken but repaired.  Birney at Jones house.

One brigade on way from Warren.

4:30 p.m. messenger from Birney arrives at Wright.

5 p.m.  Wilcox hears first Federal counterattack.

5:25 p.m.  Wright has fallen back and sent a brigade to Russell’s right for Barlow.  

6 p.m. Birney ordered to attack at 7 p.m.

7 p.m.  Second Federal counterattack.

7:05 p.m. Gibbon attacks.  Next will be Barlow, then Mott.  

7:30 p.m., Sunset, Wilcox arrives.

7:45 p.m. Gibbon found enemy too strong but will try again.  Barlow advancing.  Mott engaged.  Wright not yet on right. 

8 p.m. Ricketts has advanced.  

9:03 p.m. Two brigades being returned to Warren.  Birney advance successful.  (?) 

10:00 p.m. Mahone starts withdrawing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Report of J. W. F. Hatton's Death Prior to Petersburg Campaign Greatly Exaggerated

I'm happy to announce that reports of J. W. F. Hatton's death prior to the beginning of the Petersburg Campaign were greatly exaggerated in Goldsborough's Maryland Line in the Confederate Army.  The Daily Richmond Dispatch for October 27, 1864 reports that a writ of habeas corpus was necessary to obtain his discharge after he completed his term of enlistment.  That excellent memoir in the Library of Congress is therefore correctly attributed.  One of the other Hattons in the battery must have been killed earlier.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Who Really Authored the Hatton Memoir in the Library of Congress?

There is a splendid account of the fighting on June 22, 1864, in a memoir in the Library of Congress ascribed to "J. W. F. Hatton" of the Confederate 1st Maryland Battery.  However, page 261 of Goldsborough's "Maryland Line in the Confederate Army" reports that J. W. F. Hatton was killed in action earlier in the war.  Fortunately, page 271 lists two other Hattons who may have authored the memoir:  R. H. S. Hatton and Joseph Hatton.

Does anybody know which Hatton authored the memoir?