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Friday, December 23, 2016

Civil War Navel Museum, Columbus Georgia: CSS Albemarle

I was down at the Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia today and took photos of a model and a reconstruction of CSS Albemarle.  Click on this link to see them.

Merry Christmas,

John Horn

Thursday, December 22, 2016

New Information on the North Anna Campaign, May 24, 1864

Recent historians need to fashion patches for their accounts of the fighting on the North Anna River May 24, 1864.  As I followed the Petersburg Regiment of Weisiger's Virginia Brigade of Mahone's division down to the North Anna, I could see a conflict between sources in the regiment and general histories of the campaign.  Sources from the Petersburg Regiment reported fighting Crawford's division of V Corps as Ledlie's brigade of IX Corps dashed itself to pieces against the Mississippi Brigade of Mahone's division to the right of the Virginia Brigade.  I considered deferring to the judgment of the general historians but decided to take a look.  The men from the 12th Virginia, the Petersburg Regiment, were right.  Sources on Bates' (Coulter's until Coulter was wounded) brigade of Crawford's division (11th Pennsylvania, 12th Pennsylvania, 12th Massachusetts, 97th New York, all available online) show that this brigade struggled with the sharpshooters of Weisiger's Virginia Brigade and Sanders' Alabama Brigade as Ledlie's brigade assaulted the Mississippians.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Petersburg at Gettysburg

My last post, on Pickett's Charge, may seem odd for a blog entitled The Petersburg Campaign.  I'm a student of the 12th Virginia Infantry, however, which was also known as The Petersburg Regiment because it had, in its final form, six of ten companies from the Cockade City.  This regiment belonged to Mahone's Brigade, which at Gettysburg formed part of Anderson's Division.  I'm putting the finishing touches on a history of the 12th Virginia with nine diagrams and thirty-two maps by Hampton Newsome, Esq., author of Richmond Must Fall (on the October battles around the Cockade City) and co-editor (with Dr. John Selby and me) of Civil War Talks:  Further Reminiscences of George S. Bernard and His Fellow Veterans.  Civil War Talks is the sequel to War Talks of Confederate Veterans, published by Bernard in 1892.  Civil War Talks was ready for publication in 1896 but disappeared until it showed up in a flea marked in 2004.  Purchased at a flea market for $50 by some lucky fellow, it was sold to the History Museum of Western Virginia for $15,000!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Pickett Victorious: Lee's Plan of Attack on Gettysburg's Third Day Ought to Have Prevailed

Mathematical modeling based on Lanchester equations developed during the First World War to determine the numbers necessary for successful assaults shows that with the commitment of one to three more infantry brigades to the nine brigades in the initial force, Pickett’s Charge would probably have taken the Union position and altered the battle’s outcome, but the Confederates would likely have been unable to exploit such a success without the commitment of still more troops.  Michael J. Armstrong and Steven E. Soderbergh, “Refighting Pickett’s Charge:  mathematical modeling of the Civil War battlefield,” Social Science Quarterly 96, No. 4 (May 14, 2015), 1153-1168.  The authors do not include Wilcox’s and Lang’s brigades in the initial force.  Ibid., 161.  Timelier commitment of Anderson’s entire division with the initial force would have supplied five additional brigades and from 4,950 more men, making the attack force fourteen brigades and almost 18,000 men.  Ibid., 161, 164.  According to the modeling, this number would have practically guaranteed a lodgment at the Angle and refuted Longstreet’s assertion that “thirty thousand men was the minimum of force necessary.”  Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox, 386.  

Saturday, December 3, 2016

10th Connecticut, Good Subject for a Regimental History

Everybody interested in the Civil War ought to try writing a regimental history.  It gives you a yardstick for measuring the accuracy of more general works.

I don't recommend duplicating a previous regimental history.  Sometimes that can be embarrassing.  A few years ago a book came out on the 57th Massachusetts, Mother May You Never See the Sights I Have Seen.  Unfortunately, the regimental history it was intended to replace (by John C. Anderson), remains a better book.

Plenty of good regimental histories exist, particularly for Federal regiments,  In the brigade I'm going to mention, Foster's brigade of Terry's division, X Corps (and later XXIV Corps), Army of the James, fine histories exist on the 11th Maine, 24th Massachusetts and 100th New York.  On the other hand, by "regimental history," I don't mean the historical sketches that accompany the rosters in John C. Rigdon's books or the H. E. Howard regimental history series--they shouldn't stop anybody from writing a true regimental history if enough documents can be found.

The existence of documents is extremely important.  There will be sufficient docoments for regimentals on many Federal regiments.  Confederate regiments are another matter.  When I picked a regiment to write about, I considered the 12th Virginia, the 12th Mississippi and the 29th United States Colored Troops.  I had relatives in the 12th Virginia and 12th Mississippi.  The 29th United States Colored Troops were recruited in my state, the Sucker State, Illinois.  (The name comes from a bottom-feeding fish, not the electorate foolish enough to elect and reelect politicians who are bankrupting the state.)  There were individuals in the 12th Virginia who left more writings that the 12th Mississippi and 29th United States Colored Troops put together, so the decision to write about the 12th Virginia was easy.  The existence of an historical sketch with the H. E. Howard roster did not deter me because the sketch made practically no use of what I estimate as eight to ten volumes of writings.

The unit that strikes me as ripe for a regimental history is the 10th Connecticut, which Fox included among the 300 Fighting Regiments of the United States Army.  The Connecticut Historical Society has documents from practically every company.  The chaplain left a memoir of his own and a biography of one of the regiment's field officers.  The U. S. Army Heritage and Education Center has a few letters.  The 10th participated in the seizure of the North Carolina sounds in 1862, the Siege of Charleston in 1863 and the Siege of Petersburg in 1864-65.

Somebody connected with the 10th Connecticut should get to work on its history.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thank You, SavasBeatie!

It was a few years ago that Ted Savas contacted me about writing the revision of The Destruction of the Weldon Railroad that became The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864.  SavasBeatie does a fine job with its books.  They can do footnotes, which I greatly prefer to endnotes.  They use fonts that are easily read by old cadgers such as myself.  They take care of their authors, as well.  In 2015 SavasBeatie arranged for me to speak to the Chicago Civil War Round Table (CWRT), do an interview at Chicago's Abraham Lincoln Bookshop, and do a book-signing at Petersburg National Battlefield Park.  This year SavasBeatie set me up to speak to Northern Illinois CWRT, Salt Creek CWRT, Lincoln-Davis CWRT, and South Suburban CWRT.  Next year I expect to talk to the Orange County (Ca.) CWRT, the Greater Orlando CWRT, the San Francisco CWRT and the Civil Warriors CWRT in Los Angeles.  I might have been able to do more but I'm still practicing law.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thank you, Lincoln-Davis Civil War Round Table and South Suburban Civil War Round Table!

Thank you, members of the Lincoln-Davis and South Suburban Civil War Round Tables.  It was very kind of you to invite me to talk about the fighting around Petersburg in August 1864.  Both of your meetings are within a few miles of my home and office, and I elected to focus on color bearer and Medal of Honor winner Pvt. Henry M. Hardenbergh of Company G, the Preacher's Company, of the 39th Illinois Veteran Volunteers (Yates Phalanx).  On August 16, 1864, the day Hardenbergh won his Medal of Honor by capturing the flag of the 10th Alabama, the 39th lost thirty-six killed or mortally wounded out of scarcely more than 200 taken into action.

I learned from you, too.  At the Lincoln-Davis meeting, I learned that descendants of the Indians who inhabited Cook and Will Counties, Illinois, still live among us.  At the South Suburban Civil War Round Table I learned that Atlanta's famous Cyclorama, the painting depicting the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864, has in it a soldier with the face of none other than Clark Gable!  I can't wait to visit the Cyclorama as soon as it reopens.

Happy Thanksgiving to y'all!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Confederate Field Marshals?

One could win a marshal's baton (the symbol of the rank) by winning a major battle as well as capturing a major fortress.  The Confederacy, however, would have produced fewer field marshals than the Union had the rank existed for them.

General Joseph E. Johnson might have won a marshal's baton for First Manassas.  Nothing he did after that merited one.

General Albert Sidney Johnson did nothing to merit a marshal's baton.

General Robert E. Lee won several victories that could have made him a field marshal--The Seven Days, Second Manassas, the capture of Harper's Ferry, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville.

General Braxton Bragg's victory at Chickamauga would have earned him a marshal's baton had the field marshal's rank existed.

What about General Pierre Gustave Toutant "Gus" Beauregard?  His service as unofficial chief of staff at First Manassas would not have made him a field marshal.  His successful defense of Charleston in 1863 might have.  His victory over Beast Butler at Second Drewry's Bluff on May 16, 1864 might have.  His successful defense of Petersburg June 15-18, 1864, also might have.  The Davis Administration would probably not have given him the benefit of the doubt, though--Beauregard and Davis detested one another.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Field Marshal Banks

Field Marshal is the highest military rank of many countries, but not of the United States.  To become a field marshal, one must capture a significant city (Field Marshal Erwin Rommel of Tobruk or Field Marshal Erich von Manstein of Sevastopol), a significant area (Field Marshal Wavell of Cyrenaica), or win a significant battle (Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery of El Alamein).

Just imagine if the United States Army had had such a rank during the Civil War.  We might have had Field Marshal Grant of Fort Donelson and Vicksburg, Field Marshal Burnside of Pamlico Sound, Field Marshal Butler of New Orleans, Field Marshal Buell of Nashville, Field Marshal Banks of Port Hudson, Field Marshal Rosecrans of Chattanooga, Field Marshal Sherman of Atlanta and Savannah, Field Marshal Terry of Fort Fisher, and Field Marshal Canby of Mobile.  President Lincoln would probably have had to promote Little Mac to Field Marshal of Antietam to justify issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

General Grant and Cavalry at Vicksburg, in the Overland Campaign, and at Petersburg

Diversionary railroad raids exhausted General Grant’s repertoire when it came to cavalry.  During the climax of the Vicksburg Campaign, as his infantry crossed the Mississippi below that Secessionist citadel, Grant had sent a brigade of horse soldiers southward from LaGrange, Tennessee through Mississippi to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ripping up rails, burning cross-ties, breaking bridges, destroying enemy supplies, tying down enemy infantry in defense of the vital rail link between Vicksburg and Jackson, and generally confusing the Confederates.[1]  The raid thus contributed to Grant’s investment and capture of the Gibraltar of the West.  During the Overland Campaign, the general-in-chief had dispatched Sheridan with three divisions of horsemen from Spotsylvania to defeat Maj. Gen. J. E. B. “Jeb” Stuart, disrupt the railroad lines supplying Lee’s army, and threaten Richmond.  Sheridan accomplished little beyond defeating and killing Stuart, whom Lee ultimately replaced with a better cavalry commander—Hampton, the war’s best commander of an army’s cavalry corps.[2]
By sending his cavalry off to divert his enemy’s attention by ripping up rails, Grant deprived himself of horsemen for screening and reconnaissance, their traditional functions.  The principal value of Sheridan’s raids lay in that they forced Lee to dispatch his cavalry in pursuit.  Unlike Grant, the Southern chieftain employed his horse soldiers extensively in reconnaissance and screening.  For Lee, cavalry functioned as a sensory organ.  The absence of most of Lee’s horsemen in pursuit of Sheridan on the Trevilian Raid left the Secessionist commander nearly blind and contributed to the success of Grant’s James crossing.  Grant no sooner gave up his assaults on Petersburg in June 1864 than he launched what cavalry remained with him on a raid against the Weldon, South Side, and Danville railroads.




[1] The great film director John Ford made a movie based on Grierson’s raid, entitled The Horse Soldiers (1959). 
[2] Though Nathan Bedford Forrest proved formidable in independent command, he performed poorly in command of part of the Army of Tennessee’s cavalry.  David Powell, Failure in the Saddle:  Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joseph Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign (El Dorado Hills, Ca., 2011), 205-212, 232-235.  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Petersburg at Gettysburg, Douglas Southall Freeman Loses Count

Throw out your books on the second day at Gettysburg.  They all need rewriting.

Confusion still exists about what Mahone's Brigade of Anderson's Division did, or did not do, at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.  We know that the attack of Anderson's Division broke down in Posey's Mississippi Brigade, to the immediate right (south) of Mahone's Brigade.  We know that a message for Mahone to advance was received with incredulity by General Mahone, who said he had just received an order from General Anderson to stay put on McPherson's Ridge.

There is no question but that Mahone received an order from Anderson to stay put on McPherson's Ridge.  Douglas Southall Freeman is among those responsible for the confusion.  Longstreet's memoir, From Manassas to Appomattox was available when Freeman wrote.  Longstreet was in charge of the attack on Cemetery Ridge on July 2.  He says the plan was for Anderson's division to attack with four brigades.  OR 27. 2:332, 343.  Anderson's division had five brigades.  Therefore one brigade was not to attack.  That this brigade was Mahone's would be apparent from its position alone if it were not for Mahone's account of the matter.  All Freeman had to do was remember that Anderson's Division had five brigades, not four.

As for what Mahone's Brigade did after the confusion caused by Anderson's contradictory orders was sorted out, there was a book in publication at the time Freeman wrote that should have informed him of the action of the Virginians.  That book is William H. Stewart's A Pair of Blankets, published in 1911 (at 97-98).  Mahone's Brigade sidled to the right and advanced behind the right of Posey's Brigade.  See also James Eldred Phillips Memoir, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia; Hampton Newsome, John Horn and John G. Selby, eds., Civil War Talks: Further Reminiscences of George S. Bernard and His Fellow Veterans (Charlottesville, 2012), 133, 155-156.  Posey confirmed that Mahone was ordered to the right.  Report of Brig. Gen. Carnot Posey, C. S. Army, commanding brigade, OR, 27, 2:634.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Did Mahone's Brigade Do Its Fair Share of Fighting in the Civil War? Did Virginia?

After I compiled the statistics on the 12th Virginia Infantry, it was easy to compare the regiment with many of its Federal opponents.  I had only to look up their statistics in Fox's Regimental Losses and a couple of post-war compilations from New York and Pennsylvania.

It was harder to compare the 12th Virginia's statistics with statistics on other Confederate regiments.  Such statistics are difficult to come by, but they exist.  I found a lot of partial statistics, only a few complete ones.  Some were published, and others I had to count myself.  Here's what I came up with:

                                                                                    Killed or Died             Percentage
Regiment                     Division                                   of Wounds                  Lost during War
8th Alabama                Mahone’s                                300*                            21.1%*

8th Georgia                 Hood’s                                     168*                            13.3%*

22nd Georgia              Mahone’s                                164*                            13.2%*

30th Georgia               Walker’s                                    85                                7.3%

48th Georgia               Mahone’s                                200*                            14.3%*

60th Georgia               Early’s                                     162*                            12.2%*

18th Mississippi           McLaws’                                 214*                            14.9%*

21st Mississippi           McLaws’                                 210*                            17.0%*                       

42nd Mississippi          Heth’s                                     150[1]*                           15.1%*

7th North Carolina      Pender’s                                  184*                            12.6%*

58th North Carolina    Stevenson’s                               91                                4.5%

16th Tennessee            Cheatham’s                             209*                            16.7%*

20th Tennessee            Breckenridge’s                        147*                            12.3%*

6th Virginia                 Mahone’s                                124                                7.5%

9th Virginia                 Pickett’s                                    76                                4.5%

12th Virginia              Mahone’s                               159*                            10.3%*

16th Virginia               Mahone’s                                  92[2]*                          7.5%

41st Virginia               Mahone’s                                 105                                7.0%

49th Virginia               Early’s                                     153*                            12.3%*

54th Virginia               Stevenson’s                               83                                4.5%

61st Virginia               Mahone’s                                   76                                6.5%

63rd Virginia               Stevenson’s                               68                                4.4%

Average Confederate Regiment  (Fox)                                              “almost 10.0%”

* Meets criterion for Fox’s Fighting 300 Regiments (130 or 10% killed or died of wounds).



[1] Up to March, 1865; probably lost around 155 killed or mortally wounded.
[2] The 16th Virginia fought with only seven companies.  The equivalent of 130 killed or mortally wounded among ten companies for a seven company regiment is ninety-one.

Now it's true, this is by no means a complete study of Southern regimental statistics.  Such a study will probably never exist because of the gaps in the records.  To me, the questions seem to jump out.  Did Mahone's Brigade do its fair share of fighting?  Did Virginia?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Question about Southern Literacy during the Civil War

I'm currently writing about "Barlow's Skedaddle," also known as "the Petersburg Affair," in which three Confederate brigades of Mahone's division routed seven brigades of the Federal II Corps.  I have dozens of Unionist sources, mostly in the public domain.  Confederate sources, as usual, are proving more difficult to find.

You could call Mahone's division a rainbow division.  It had a brigade from each of five states:  Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia.  My text begins on the evening of June 18, 1864, and I aim to take the reader through June 22.  I've just finished the first two chapters, one for the evening of June 18, and the other for June 19.  I'm trying to get the reader through the preliminaries by generating a little human interest.  That's not hard with Northern sources.  Plenty of diaries, letters and memoirs are in the public domain, not to mention the ones in print or manuscript.  Southern sources are a different matter.

For the evening of June 18 through June 21, I have nothing from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, or Mississippi.  From Virginia, except for A Pair of Blankets by Lt. Col. William H. Stewart of the 61st Virginia, nothing but diaries, letters and memoirs from the soldiers of the 12th Virginia and their relatives in the Cockade City--the 12th was not called the Petersburg Regiment for nothing.  In fact, there are at least five soldiers in the 12th who left more material behind than did all the rest of their brigade or, indeed, their division.

For June 22 itself, there is something from every state involved.  (The Florida Brigade was not involved that day, though I'll be checking the Army Heritage & Educational Center for material soon anyway.)  The proportions of the material available raise a question for me about Southern literacy at the time of the Civil War.  I have two sources from Mississippi, four from Alabama, six from Georgia, and at least nine from Virginia.  My question is, did literacy diminish as one went west?  It looks like that to me.  

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Reward: $100 (One hundred dollars)

I'll pay $100 to the first person to reach me with the Letter of William S. Hubbard to "Dear Father," June 25, 1864.  Hubbard belonged to the 16th Virginia Infantry.  His letter describes his role in Mahone's attack on II Corps June 22, 1864.  I have seen this letter cited to Petersburg National Battlefield Park, but the response I have received from the park is that the letter is not there.  

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Staff officers v. Field and General officers

It is clear that Lt. Col. G. Moxley Sorrel led the flank attack of May 6, 1864 in the Wilderness.  Brig. Gen. William Mahone, the ranking officer involved. later claimed credit for the attack but all the evidence points to Sorrel as the leader of the attack. Sorrel was on the staff of Longstreet's Corps.

On June 23, 1864, the evidence points to Capt. Victor Jean Baptiste Girardey as the officer who led the Florida Brigade of Mahone's Division into position to cut off part of the Vermont Brigade of VI Corps near the Gurley House south of Petersburg.  Col. David Lang, the commander of the brigade, later claimed he led the brigade's attack, but the division commander, Mahone, vouched for Girardey.  Maybe we can harmonize these accounts by saying that Girardey led the Florida Brigade into position and Lang led the attack.  Girardey was on the staff of Mahone's Division.

A similar situation arose on July 30, 1864.  Girardey led the Virginia Brigade of Mahone's Division into position to attack at The Crater.  Girardey gave the order to attack while in front of the left of the brigade.  Colonel David Addison Weisiger, commander of the Virginia Brigade, may have given the order to attack while in front of the right of the brigade.  He certainly claimed to have done so.  Girardey had long since died, on August 16, 1864 to be exact.

On the whole, the evidence supports the staff officers over the field and general officers.  Girardey may have been the finest divisional staff officer of the war.  He was promoted to brigadier general after The Crater and died shortly afterward at Second Deep Bottom, August 16, 1864.  He may have been the actual leader of Wright's Georgia Brigade at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.  

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A preview of "The Petersburg Regiment, 12th Virginia Infantry:" Federals faced by 12th Virginia Infantry and Mahone's Brigade

A preview from The Petersburg Regiment, 12th Virginia Infantry, Copyright John Horn 2016:

Table 7:  The Petersburg Regiment Compared with Some Foes[1]

            Sometimes, despite the confusion of battle (particularly in woods), it is possible to identify the particular enemy regiment or regiments opposing the 12th Virginia or a portion thereof in a given fight.  The Petersburg Regiment compared very favorably with the average Union regiment, which lost about five percent.  It often met some of the best regiments in the Federal army, yet compared favorably with some of them as well.
Regiment                                                         Killed or Died of        Percentage
(Foe of 12th Virginia at)                                 Wounds during War    Lost during War
5th New Hampshire                                        295*                            11.8%*[2]
 (Seven Pines, June 1, 1862)              

20th Indiana                                                    201*                            14.3%*
87th New York                                                 29                                2.8%
(King’s School House, June 25, 1862)

1st United States Sharpshooters                     153*                            10.9%*
(Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862)

18th New York                                                 39                                3.5%
31st New York                                                  71                                7.6%
95th Pennsylvania                                           182*                              9.2%
(Crampton’s Gap, September 14, 1862)        

8th Pennsylvania Cavalry                                 60
(Chancellorsville, April 30-May 1, 1863)

1st Delaware                                                   158*                              7.6%
12th New Jersey                                              177*                              9.5%
106th Pennsylvania                                         104                                9.7%
(Gettysburg, July 2, 1863)                 

140th Pennsylvania                                         198*                            17.4%*
(Bradshaw’s Farm, May 8, 1864)      

51st Pennsylvania#                                         177*                              8.6%
(Spotsylvania, May 12, 1864)

1st Vermont Heavy Artillery                          164*                              7.1%
62nd New York                                                98
(Gurley House, June 23, 1864)                      


Regiment                                                         Killed or Died of        Percentage
(Foe of 12th Virginia at)                                 Wounds during War    Lost during War
14th New York Heavy Artillery                     226*                              9.0%
(Globe Tavern, August 19, 1864)

155th New York                                             115                              13.8%*[3]
170th New York                                             129                              12.8%*
(Second Reams Station, August 25, 1864)

63rd Pennsylvania#                                         186*                            13.8%*
105th Pennsylvania+                                       245*                            12.2%*
(Burgess Mill, October 27, 1864)

12th Virginia                                                  159*                            10.3%*

Average Union Regiment                                                                     5.0%

* Meets criterion for inclusion in Fox’s Fighting 300 Regiments (130 or 10% killed or died of wounds).
# Lost a flag to the 12th Virginia that day.
+ Lost two flags to the 12th Virginia that day.



[1] My figures come from Fox, Regimental Losses; Samuel P. Bates,  History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, Prepared in Compliance with Acts of the Legislature (5 Volumes) (Harrisburg, 1869); and Frederick Phisterer, New York in the War of the Rebellion (5 Volumes) (Albany, 1912).
[2] Adjusted by Fox to 17.9%. 
[3] Despite the percentage loss, Fox did not include the 155th among his Fighting 300 Regiments.  

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Abraham Lincoln, Military Meddler

            Unless Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant or Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman succeeded in capturing or destroying at least one of their objectives (Richmond, the Army of Northern Virginia, Atlanta, or the Army of Tennessee) by November, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln could scarcely hope to win re-election.  If Lincoln met with defeat, the country could expect its then current division to become permanent.  A Democrat would occupy the White House who would, in Lincoln’s words, “have secured his election on such ground that he could not possibly save [the Union].”[1]
No one had done more than Lincoln himself to create this predicament.  Earlier that year, before the president appointed Grant general-in-chief of the Union’s armies, Grant had intended to begin the Campaign of 1864 in the east by transporting his army by sea to Suffolk, Virginia.  He would thus have arrived bloodlessly at a position similar to his present one, which had cost more than 72,000 casualties to reach.[2]  From Suffolk, he would have headed inland along the Blackwater River against the railroads connecting Richmond with the Deep South.  Lincoln had objected to Grant’s plan because a move by sea would leave Washington unprotected, something the president’s party could not tolerate.[3]  Such a move would create another problem for Lincoln.  It would admit the correctness of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s bloodless move by sea to the York-James Peninsula in 1862, though McClellan’s campaign there had ended in failure and mutual recriminations.  Such an admission would never do, because the 1864 presidential election was shaping up as a contest between Old Abe and Little Mac. 
Lincoln had also meddled in the Campaign of 1864 in the west by insisting on the Red River Expedition into northwest Louisiana.  This deprived Sherman of about 10,000 soldiers he was counting on for the beginning of his campaign in north Georgia.[4]  It also precluded an expedition aimed at Mobile that would have tied up enemy troops sent to defend Atlanta.[5]  Against a more capable opponent than Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Sherman’s campaign might never have gotten going.[6]  Denied about 10,000 more troops on veteran furloughs, Sherman had to reduce the scope of his plans in a manner that significantly slowed the progress of his campaign.[7]
In the furor over the casualties incurred as a result of the change of plans in the east that Lincoln had foisted on Grant, most of the criticism fell upon the general-in-chief.  His nickname of “Unconditional Surrender,” based on his initials and earned at Fort Donelson—his first great victory—changed to “Unceasing Slaughter” during his gory progress from the Rapidan to the James.  That Grant never complained about the Rail-Splitter’s meddling, and just kept going forward, forged a bond of absolute loyalty between Lincoln and his general-in chief. 



[1] Abraham Lincoln, “Blind Memorandum,” August 23, 1864.  Abraham Lincoln Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 
[2] Grant’s casualties came to approximately 72,526.  He had lost about 54,926 in the Overland Campaign.  General summary from the Rapidan to the James River, May 5-June 24, 1864, War of the Rebellion:  A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 70 vols. in 128 parts (Washington, D.C., 1880-1901) Series 1, 36, 1:188 (cited hereinafter as OR, with no series indicated unless it is other than Series 1.  He had lost around 11,386 in his assaults on Petersburg.   Edward H. Bonekemper, III. A Victor, Not a Butcher: Ulysses S. Grant's Overlooked Military Genius (Washington, D.C., 2004), 313.  During May, the Army of the James lost approximately 6,214, which I include in Grant’s losses.  Return of Casualties in the Union Forces, commanded by Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, U. S. Army (compiled from nominal lists of casualties, returns, &c.), May 5-31, OR 36, 2:18; Return of Casualties in the Union Forces, commanded by Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, U. S. Army, June 1-14, OR 36, 2:19.
[3] U. S. Grant, Major-General, to Maj.-Gen. H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief of the Army, January 19, 1864, OR 33:394-395; William Glenn Robertson, Back Door to Richmond:  The Bermuda Hundred Campaign, April-June 1864 (Cranbury, N.J., 1987), 13-14; John Horn, The Petersburg Campaign:  June 1864-April 1865 (Conshohocken, Pa., 1993), 12-13; Richard M. McMurry, Atlanta 1865:  Last Chance for the Confederacy (Lincoln, Neb., 2000), 12.  For the case in favor of a movement by sea against Richmond’s communications, see William Swinton, Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, A Critical History of Operations in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania from the Commencement to the Close of the War, 1861-1865 (New York, 1882), 406-409.  For the case against a movement by sea against Richmond’s communications, see Andrew A. Humphreys, The Virginia Campaign of ’64 and ’65:  The Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James (New York, 1883), 7-9.  Grant’s memoirs, which include his official report in the appendix to vol. 2, fail to mention this matter.  U. S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant (2 vols.) (New York, 1886), 2:124-145, 555-632.
[4] Albert Castel, Decision in the West:  The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (Lawrence, Kan., 1992), 66, 90, 99, 118; McMurry, Atlanta 1864, 52, 54-55. 
[5] Ibid., 51. 
[6] The record shows that Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant “Gus” Beauregard, though he had no better relations with Confederate President Jefferson Davis than Johnston, offered a better choice.  Unlike Johnston, who had scarcely tried to relieve Vicksburg during the summer of 1863, Beauregard had successfully defended Charleston.  In the spring of 1864, while Johnston steadily retired toward Atlanta, Beauregard gave battle to Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler and bottled him up in Bermuda Hundred, then successfully defended Petersburg against assaults by first Butler and afterward Grant.  At times during August 1864, Beauregard counterattacked the Unionists as effectively as Gen. Robert E. Lee.  See John Horn, The Siege of Petersburg:  The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864 (El Dorado Hills, Ca., 2015), 179-183, 290, 293.
The problem for Davis lay in that if Beauregard had defended Atlanta, who would have defended Petersburg other than Johnston?  In that case, the Cockade City could expect, like Atlanta, to fall into Federal hands and take Richmond along with it before the November election.
[7] McMurry, Atlanta 1864, 55, 57-58; Castel, Decision in the West, 99, 121, 123.
[8] Welch citing Furgurson on Cold Harbor.  #

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Maps and Diagrams for "The Petersburg Regiment, 12th Virginia Infantry"

The maps and diagrams for The Petersburg Regiment, 12th Virginia Infantry are finished.  There are thirty-two maps and eight diagrams.  Hampton Newsome has done his usual great job on the maps and diagrams.

Here's an example of the maps:



 Here's an example of the diagrams.



My cousin George will start proof-reading the manuscript next week.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Corrections to "The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864"

My cousin George Zelenack went to the trouble of sniffing out typographical errors in The Siege of Petersburg:  The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864.  Thanks, George!  Here's what they are:

Page      Line                        Text                                                       Suggestion
Viii          6                              look at a history books                   look at history books
X             6                              missing ling                                         missing link
11           3                              a find dust                                           a fine dust
11           FN11, L9               much more quickly that                 much more quickly than
30           FN21, L4               “Road roather than”                       Road rather than
56           P2, L1                    “alignng on a lane”                          aligning on a lane
125         P1, L12                  in front of rest of                              in front of the rest of
345         L17                         Dakota.Letter                                    Dakota. Letter
345         L21                         Georgia.Nicholas                              Georgia. (New paragraph) Nicholas DeGraff….
346         L9                            D.C.William                                         D.C.  (new paragraph) William Henry Harder….
346         L10                         Virginia. Joseph                                Virginia.  (new paragraph) Joseph Hayes….
347         L1                            James June 21-August 21 1894    James, June 21-August 21, 1894
347         Sec2, L10              (1889).Day,                                         (1889).  Day, W.  A….
363         L2                            “misunderstatding”                        misunderstanding
365         Meade, L13                     “misunderstatding”                                misunderstanding

I have found more substantial errors:

1)  The Western Brigade of Terry's division on August 16, 1864, attacked not in column of divisions but in column of battalions, and thus with skirmishers not eleven deep but five deep.  OR 42, 1:689 ("doubled in column at half distance"), 699 ("doubled on the center...formed in double column").

2)  The Wilson-Kautz Raid did not leave the Richmond & Danville Railroad and the South Side Railroad inoperable until September but only until early July.  Greg Eanes, Destroy the Junction:  The Wilson-Kautz Raid & the Battle for the Staunton River Bridge, June 21, 1864 to July 1, 1864 (Lynchburg, Va.:  H. E. Howard, 1999), 166-168, 207-208.

Mea culpa!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

March 23, 2017, Greater Orlando Civil War Round Table

On March 23, 2017, at 6 p.m., I'll be talking about a topic within the scope of The Siege of Petersburg:  The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864 at the Greater Orlando Civil War Round Table, Marks Street Senior Recreation Center, 99 E. Marks Street, Orlando, Florida 32803.  Books will be available at a discount.  I'll happily inscribe any book purchased.

Friday, August 5, 2016

November 8, 2017, Civil Warriors Roound Table, Los Angeles/West SF Valley

On November 8, 2017, I'll be talking to the Civil Warriors Round Table of Los Andgeles/West SF Valley about the struggle for the Weldon Railroad as depicted in The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864.  The program will start at 7 p.m. at Weiler's West Hills Deli, 22323 Sherman Way, West Hills, CA, 91303.  Copies of the book will be available at a discount.