Buckeyes, Blackhats and the Boys of '61

The North-South Skirmish Association…….and Me!

 

For the 37th straight spring I will be traveling to Virginia to attend a North – South Skirmish Association (N-SSA) Spring National Skirmish. This event, the 133rd National Skirmish in the N-SSA’s long history will be will be held May 18th to the 22nd, at “Fort Shenandoah” which is the home range of the N-SSA.

The “Fort” as it is affectionately called by N-SSA members is located just of Route 522, seven miles northwest of Winchester Virginia.

For a schedule of events follow this link-133rd National Skirmish Schedule of Events

For directions to the location of this event at Fort Shenandoah, follow this link –Directions to and location of Fort Shenandoah.

To say that my membership in the N-SSA has had a profound and positive influence in my life would be an understatement. Founded in 1950, and the organization from which the modern re-enacting movement in the United States got its start. From its very beginning, the ranks of its membership has included of some of the best military and materiel culture historians, artillerymen and small arms marksman in the world. The friendships made and knowledge selfishly shared by these individuals with me and other members over the past 38 years, help kindled my interest in the both the history of the American Civil War and arms collecting. Most certainly a treasured gift of knowledge and passion that I try as might will be very difficult to re-pay!

The following are some links to videos of what the N-SSA and our National Skirmishes are about. Like all of our National and Regional events. the 133rd Nationals is free of charge and open to the public, so if you are looking for something to do on the weekend of May 21st, stop by the “Fort”and witness for yourself the color and excitement of Civil War small arms and artillery “live fire.” I promise you will not be disappointed.

And from the Civil War Trust – Civil War Trust – N-SSA Video

And finally, a image from the collodian camera of my friend Todd Harrington of the members of my unit, The Union Guards, Company A, 19th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

Union Guard Fall National 2009

Company A, 19th Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry, “the Union Guards.” Since 1978 I have proudly worn the “Black Hat” of the Iron Brigade and have been both student and mentor to my “Pards” in this image. Image by Todd Harrington.

A Case for Battlefield Preservation – The Eleventh Ohio Independent Battery – Part 4.

Part three of this series can be found here

As I close out this series on the Eleventh Ohio Battery’s fight at Iuka, I thought it might be interesting to take a look how the battlefield appears today.

First a map of the battlefield as it appeared in 1862:

View of the Eleventh Ohio Battery position at the battle of Iuka.

View of the Eleventh Ohio’s position at the battle of Iuka.

Next, courtesy of “Google Earth” an aerial view of the Eleventh’s position today:

aerial view of the 11th OVA position

The following view is what the advancing “Johnnies” would have seen as they charged the Eleventh’s battery position. In the foreground is the Mississippi historical marker describing the Eleventh’s gallant stand.

11th OVM Battery positionHere is what the “Johnnies” experienced as they advanced up the hill to try to capture the battery:

“As we ascended the hill we came in range of our own artillery, and the guns had to be silenced. The entire Federal artillery fire was soon turned on us, using grape and canister shot, and as their battery was directly in front of the Third Texas, their grape shot and musketry fire soon began to play havoc with our people, four of our men, the two files just to my right, being killed. We charged the battery, and with desperate fighting took nine pieces and one caisson. The horses hitched to the caisson tried to run off, but we shot them down and took it, the brave defenders standing nobly to their posts until they were nearly all shot down around their guns,—one poor fellow being found lying near his gun, with his ramrod grasped in both hands, as if he were in the act of ramming down a cartridge when he was killed. The infantry fought stubbornly, but after we captured their guns we drove them back step by step, about six hundred yards, when darkness put an end to a battle that had lasted a little more than two and a half hours, the lines being within two hundred yards of each other.

I cannot give the number of Federal troops engaged in the battle, but General Rosecrans, in giving his casualties, enumerates eighteen regiments of infantry, three of cavalry, one detached company, and four batteries of artillery. The cavalry was not in the engagement, and I think he had but two batteries engaged. One of these, the Eleventh Ohio Light Battery, lost its guns and fifty-four men………… The Third Texas had 388 men, and lost 22 killed and 74 wounded; total, 96. Company C lost W. P. Bowers, Carter Caldwell, W. P. Crawley, and W. T. Harris killed; and J. J. Felps severely wounded. Crawley had a belt of gold around his waist, but only four or five of us knew this, and I presume, of course, it was buried with him…….The captured artillery was drawn by hand into town that night, where the guns were left next morning, after being spiked, as we had no spare horses to pull them away. Spiking guns means that round steel files were driven hard into the touch-holes, giving the enemy the trouble of drilling these out before the guns can be of any use again.”

– Excerpt from “Lone Star Defenders. A History of the Third Texas Cavalry Regiment” by Samuel Benton Barron

I wonder how many people today stop to consider the terrible loss of the Third Texas Cavalry (who fought here dismounted) as they charged up the slope in the photo?

View from 11th OVA position

View from the Eleventh Ohio Artillery position.

Above we have the view from the Eleventh’s Battery position. A look back at the first post in this series describes the horrific fight and gallant stand of the “Buckeyes” of the Eleventh on the slopes in the photo above.  But no words compare to reading the names on the list below, and considering the lives lost or lives forever changed here. Not only of those who fell killed or wounded, but the life-long effect of this battle on their families back hone in Ohio.

11th Iuka Causalties

And, finally, the view of the reverse slope of the hill on which the Eleventh advanced and on whose crest it fought. I believe that it was to the right of the road, just beyond the clearing, that Lieutenant Neil and a few of his surviving battery-men laid sixteen of their neighbors, relatives, and comrades to rest “under a shady tree.” After the war, those men buried here would be moved to the Corinth National Cemetery.

11th OVA Burial Site

While the Civil War Trust has preserved 58 acres of the Iuka battlefield, much of the core area such as where the Eleventh Battery fought (and died) has been lost forever. As noted in the CWT 2007 History Under Siege Report, when the motel was built on the site of the Eleventh’s stand, it not only changed the character of the land forever, but destroyed many artifacts from the battle.

It is my hope, that by reading this series on the Eleventh Ohio Battery, you have learned a bit about courage, sacrifice and tenacity. All three of these values are reflected in the case of the “Private of the Eleventh Ohio Battery,” Henry Walsh, who managed a hint of humor in his letter home while recovering from a grievous facial wound and the prospect of an uncertain future. And, perhaps, you might be moved enough to consider supporting the Civil War Trust as it leads the charge in the never-ending fight to preserve these precious parcels of ground, made hallow by the blood of our ancestors, and on which so many gave their last “Full Measure of Devotion.”

 Sources:

Neil, Henry M.  A Battery at Close Quarters. Google Books.

Library of Congress, Chronicling of America, Wyandot Pioneer

Ohio In the Civil War

Barron, Samuel Benton. Lone Star Defenders. The Guttenberg Project

A Letter to the “Boys in the Neighborhood.” – The Eleventh Ohio Battery – Part 3

Part two of this series can be found here.

Often, when I start to research a blog post subject, I find that as I learn more about the topic, one post ends up becoming a series.This certainly has held true with this current series of posts on the Eleventh Ohio Battery.

While looking for some additional material on the Eleventh, I came across the following letter to the editor of the Wyandot Pioneer:

Letter from STL -Part 1Letter from STL - Part 2

A .pdf transcription of the above can be found here: 11th letter to home

Clearly the writer, simply identified as “A Private of the 11th Ohio Battery” had retained some sense of humor while suffering a horrific wound to his face. Just as clear was his opinion of the “boys in the neighborhood” who had stayed home. The tone of the letter intrigued me enough to try and find out the identity of the author.

I started with accessing the the roster of the wounded of the battery on the American Civil War Research Database to see if I could find reference to any member of the Eleventh who suffered a facial wound. While the list of wounded was helpful, there was no mention of type of wounds. Then I remembered reading Lieutenant Cyrus Sears’ letter to the Wyandot Pioneer describing the action, and giving a list of the killed, wounded, and captured. It was in this article that I saw that Henry Welsh had suffered a severe facial wound.

11th Iuka Causalties

Now that I had a name, I wanted to see if this “Private of the 11th Ohio Battery” had recovered from his wound, and how he got on with the rest of his life. A search of the internet turned up the following from the “History of Wyandot County” published in 1884:

HENRY M WELSH one of the prominent farmers of this born in Crawford County Ohio May 2 1840 He is a son of ER Sarah A McClain Welsh his father having come to this county doing an extensive business in stock dealing in this and He also dealt to some extent in real estate and controlled a of property up to the date of his death in 1880 Henry M subject of this sketch was engaged on the farm with his father till he attained his majority soon after which he enlisted in the Eleventh Ohio Battery and entered the United States service He participated in the battles of New Madrid Island No 10 and Iuka but was chiefly employed on the march or post duty He was wounded in the battle of Iuka Miss by a musket ball which fractured his lower jaw resulting in the loss of half of the osseous structure of that member He was discharged in November 1862 returned home and has since engaged in farming and stock dealing In 1861 he obtained 450 acres from his father’s estate and has increased that number by subsequent purchases till he now owns 1,436 acres valued at $60 to $75 per acre He does an extensive farming business usually sowing 300 to 500 acres of wheat and planting 200 to 400 acres of corn Besides his large farming and stock raising interests in this county Mr Welsh is also interested in an extensive cattle ranch in Wyoming Territory Mr Welsh has always conducted his business independently and may fairly be considered one of the most successful operators in the county He was married November 24 1863 to Miss Emily Hoover who was born in Crawford County Ohio her parents being early settlers in that locality She is a daughter of William and Phoebe Swisher Hoover her father being one of the leading farmers and stock dealers of Crawford County By this marriage three children were born namely Edmond T Sanford C and Myrtie E aged seventeen fifteen and fourteen respectively Mr Welsh is known throughout the county as a thorough business man and is highly esteemed as a citizen

As you can see, Henry Welsh, who was reminded of the horrors of the Iuka every time he looked in the mirror or ate a meal, returned home and made a fine life for himself. But one has to wonder how many of the “boys in the neighborhood” heeded Henry’s advice not to go “unless they wanted to get hurt.” And, as the years rolled on, and as those boys who stayed at home turned into men, what Henry thought of them, or they of him?

But, in the fall of 1862, all of the above was in the future for the grievously wounded Henry Welsh. The business of War stopped for no man. The insatiable grist mill of the battles of the autumn of 1862 needed all the human fodder that could be found. The following notice appeared in the same issue, same page, the next column over from Henry’s letter to the editor.

Recruiting notice from Wyandot Pioneer

Sources:

Neil, Henry M.  A Battery at Close Quarters. Google Books.

Library of Congress, Chronicling of America, National Tribune

Library of Congress, Chronicling of America, Wyandot Pioneer

Ohio In the Civil War

History of Wyandot County, Internet Archive.

Next up: Part four. Iuka today. A Case for Battlefield Preservation.

Resurrection and Redemption – The Eleventh Ohio Independent Battery – Part Two

Confederate dead in front of Battery Robinette. Battle of Corinth. Courtesy of the LOC.

Confederate dead in front of Battery Robinette. Battle of Corinth. Courtesy of the LOC.

 Click here for Part One of this series

The next morning (September 20th) Lieutenant Neil woke the surviving battery-men from their bivouac on the reverse slope of the hill where the Eleventh Battery had made their stand. Following closely behind the skirmishers of the 39th Ohio as they cautiously crested the hill, the Federals were surprised to find the Johnnies gone and horrified at the indescribable scene of carnage around the Eleventh’s battery position. Dead and dying horses and men lay intermingled. The men found driver John Dean, who had refused an order to leave the horse team of his limber, lying dead still holding the bridles of two of  his horses-also dead. Many of the surviving drivers openly wept at the sight of their dead horse teams. With great emotion and reverence, the sixteen dead battery-men were gathered together by their comrades and buried near a large tree just to the rear of the position they had so gallantly defended.

It was with no little surprise that the six artillery pieces of the battery, captured at such a high cost, were found a short distance down the hill. The Rebs, obviously hampered by the lack of horses and harnesses to move the guns, had crudely spiked the pieces by driving files into their vents. Even with the guns spiked and the gun carriages all shot up, the men of the Eleventh rejoiced at their recovery.

It was early that same afternoon when General Rosecrans ordered Neil to immediately refit the Eleventh Battery. By slipping away during the night, the Confederate army had successfully stolen a march on the Federals, and “Old Rosey” (as Rosecrans men called him) was giving chase. Neil’s men went to work removing the files from the vents, and starting to repair the bullet-scarred gun carriages. While this work was getting underway, Neil started filling his depleted ranks with volunteers from the infantry regiments of Sanborn’s brigade. Once this was done, Neil started the training that would turn the foot soldiers into artillerymen. Amazingly, by late afternoon on October 1st, the young lieutenant had his command refitted, trained and ready to move. General Rosecrans had left orders for the Eleventh that, upon completion of their reorganization, they were to rejoin his forces gathering to defend the vital rail junction at Corinth, Mississippi against the combined Confederate armies of Price and Van Dorn.

Declining to wait for a cavalry escort, Neil procured some extra horses and used some of his battery-men as his advance guard. The Eleventh departed Iuka for Corinth on the morning of October 2nd and made the 20-mile march to Corinth without incident, arriving late that same afternoon. After being assigned to an unfamiliar brigade, the battery went into camp for the night.

On the morning of October 3rd, Neil requested that the unit be moved and assigned to their old brigade (Sanborn’s). This request was granted, and the battery soon broke camp and moved to join their old comrades of this brigade who had fought so valiantly in defense of the battery at Iuka. As the battery rolled into the brigade’s bivouac, it was met with loud cheers and more than a few tears. Notes by Colonel John Sanborn related that his soldiers recognized that Neil, …“came upon the field with his battery fully manned, equipped and drilled, amid the hurrahs and tears of the infantry that had seen it destroyed under the terrible fire of the 19th of September, and who now seemed to feel that the battery men, horses and all, had come back from the regions of the dead.”

The following morning (October 4th) found the Eleventh Battery in position on the far right of the Federal line as fight for Corinth began. The Confederate attack began on the Federal left, rolling towards  the center, and finally, that afternoon, the action reached the battery’s position. Writing 20 years later, Colonel Sanborn gave his eyewitness account of both Lieutenant Neil and his battery that day:

“……when the irresistible assault of the rebel army came, the Eleventh Ohio Battery was in position commanding the whole rebel line and the Fourth Minnesota Infantry in line flat upon the ground close in its rear. Lieutenant Neil was seated on his thoroughbred from twenty to forty feet in front of the battery, between the line of fire of the guns of the middle section. He requested the Colonel of the infantry to keep his eye upon him and whenever he beckoned with his saber, to have the infantry rise up and deliver their fire.
Now the assaulting lines of the rebel armies come on like a wave of the sea, rolling along over breastworks and batteries. He orders the men to open fire and, still in his advanced position, waves his hat constantly to the advancing lines of rebels, and shouts, ‘Come on! Come on! if you think you can play Iuka over again.’ A strange coincidence was that the same rebel battalions came against this battery that had captured it on the 19th of September. But they could not come on here. Three times the Lieutenant signaled the infantry to rise and fire, and each time they rose to hear him say, ‘No, no, they have broke again.’
For a half mile in front of this battery, after the battle, were large areas covered with the dead and dying, which told with what terrible effect it had been served during the assault.
The sight of the Lieutenant, after twenty years, brought up these occurrences—this whole scene, and made it as fresh as if it had transpired yesterday, and made me resolve to commit it to writing before I died, feeling that none of us had done him justice in our reports of these battles.
The scene at Corinth, if it could be placed on canvas, would be thrilling even to strangers. An elegant thoroughbred Kentucky horse fully caparisoned, on which the Lieutenant is sitting erectly, with his hat in his hand, is standing out in front of the battery between the lines of fire of the two center guns, seemingly conscious that if he moved to the right or left he would be torn to atoms, and trusting himself wholly to his rider, the Lieutenant is waving his hat in the air, and bidding defiance to the foe; advancing in masses and lines upon his positions, the artillerymen with superhuman power and skill, amid the smoke that rolled incessantly from the muzzles of every gun, loading and firing, is a picture before the mind at this distance plainer than can be placed on canvas by the most skillful artist. It is such men and such services that saved this nation in the war. They were not conspicuous nor vain-glorious, perhaps not heard of before the war, nor afterwards; but in the midst of it, meeting the full demands of the great occasion and leaving the reward to posterity.”

The above description should leave little doubt that in the space of two weeks, the “Resurrection and Redemption” of the Eleventh Battery was complete, achieved against the very same rebel units that had captured the battery at Iuka!

Up next: A Letter from the Front – The Eleventh Ohio Battery – Part Three.

Sources:

Cozzens, Peter. The Darkest Days of the War. The Battles of Iuka and Corinth. Chapel Hill NC, 1997

Fox, William. Regimental Losses in the Civil War. Dayton, Ohio, 1997

Neil, Henry M.  A Battery at Close Quarters. Google Books.

Library of Congress, Chronicling of America, National Tribune

Library of Congress, Chronicling of America, Wyandot Pioneer

To The Sound of the Guns Blog

Civil War Preservation Trust

Ohio In the Civil War

Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Part 17, Volumes 1 and 2.

“Use Canister, Aim Low And Give Then Hell!” The Eleventh Ohio Independent Battery. Part One.

 Image is from - https://www.flagcollection.com/itemdetails.php?CollectionItem_ID=2582

The guidon of the Eleventh Ohio Independent Battery.

Prompted by my friend and blogger extraordinaire Craig Swain’s recent series on Ohio artillery units in his “To The Sound of the Guns” blog, today’s post will tell the story of the gallant Eleventh Ohio Independent Battery and its action at the battle of Iuka, Mississippi on September 19th, 1862. It was in this action that the Eleventh battery suffered more losses in one battle than another light artillery unit in the American Civil War.

Approaching Iuka,  Mississippi from the southwest as part of Major General William Rosecrans’ “Army off the Mississippi” column advancing on Confederate Major General Sterling Prices “Army of the West, September 19th, 1862 had already been a long day for  30-year-old Lieutenant Cyrus Sears and his Eleventh Ohio Independent Battery. Much of the afternoon of the advance had been slowed by the presence of Confederate skirmishers who increased their resistance as the Federal column drew closer to Iuka. As the firing increased, Sears and his battery were ordered to advance up Jacinto Road to the top of a small hill. When they reached the crest, the Eleventh was “to form in battery and to await further orders.”  No sooner had the six guns of the Eleventh reached the top of the hill and started to move into battery, they were met with a terrific small arms and artillery fire from the “Johnnies” positioned in a ravine immediately below their intended position. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, these first volleys of small arms fire were high, and as the battery settled into its position, the firing seemed to subside a bit.

Detail of the battlefield of Iuka, showing the position of the Eleventh Independent Battery.

Detail of the battlefield of Iuka showing the position of the Eleventh Independent Battery.

The lull in the action was short-lived, as a long line of butternut infantry belonging to Brigadier General Lewis Henry Little’s division of Major General Sterling Price’s “Army of the West” charged out of the wooded ravine and made straight up the hill for the guns of the Eleventh, which by this time had been supported on their immediate right flank by the 5th Iowa and on the left by the 48th Indiana.

Watching this advance with great interest was Lieutenant Sears, who calmly sat his horse behind his battery awaiting orders which would never come. Finally, with the enemy advancing well within easy canister range (200 yards) and lending an ear to the nervous exclamations and curses of his men to commence firing, he rose in his stirrups, shouting, “With canister, load, aim low and give them hell as fast as you can!” And for 30 minutes or so, “buckeye” hell reigned supreme, as the “Johnnies” tried repeatedly to gain the rise and take the exposed battery. The terrific volume of canister fire to the battery’s immediate front had the effect of forcing the Confederate advance to move right and left in an attempt to outflank the guns. This movement, in conjunction with the advance of the other southern infantry units of Little’s Division, caused both the 48th Indiana and the 5th Iowa to fall back, leaving the guns of the Eleventh alone and exposed to a maelstrom of small arms fire on the hill. With darkness rapidly falling, the action around the guns became a primal melee of bayonets, musket butts, hand-spikes, sponge staffs and fists. Or, as Sears would later write:

“Before the end it became clear that the position of the guns of this battery had become so much the bone of contention in that fight, that everything else, both flags, the Union and the Confederacy, and even the ‘damned nigger’ were forgotten in that all-absorbing, hand-spike and ramrod, rough-and-tumble, devil-take-the-hindmost fight for those six guns.”

Lieutenant Sears (who would be awarded the Medal of Honor in 1892 for his leadership that day) was soon felled by a musket ball through his right shoulder, or as he would later succinctly describe, “I was wounded and sent home for repairs.” But the scenes of the gallantry of his battery-men never left his mind. He would later relate the story of a young native of Wyandot County, John Ettles, who after being wounded by a musket ball through his chest exclaimed,  “Well Lieutenant, I guess I got hell today, but I’m going to try to give them two or three rounds yet.” He died serving his gun. Private David W. Montgomery was in the process of pulling the lanyard when he was “throttled by a ‘Big Secesh'” who Montgomery subdued by drawing an unfired canister round from his haversack and bludgeoning him with it.

With Lieutenant Sears wounded and out of action, command of the battery fell upon young 2nd Lieutenant Henry Neil. Neil, 30 years old, descended from a notable family in Columbus, Ohio. A graduate of Harvard, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Eleventh in January of 1862. Now, on that dark, smokey hill-side, with his infantry support gone, surrounded on three sides, it was apparent that battery’s position could no longer hold. Lieutenant Neil, bloodied after being hit four times by either shell fragments or musket balls, ordered the few surviving battery-men to fall back to the infantry lines reforming to their rear. The victorious “Johnnies” finally gained control of the Eleventh’s position, along with the six guns of the battery which were then dragged northwards toward the town by their captors, the men of the 3rd Texas Dismounted Cavalry.

The casualties suffered by the Eleventh at Iuka on this September day were to be unequaled by any other light battery in the Federal or Confederate service during the war. In fact, the number killed and mortally wounded would equal, within one, the total killed in any light battery during its entire term of service! The battery went into the battle with 97 enlisted men and 5 officers; of that number 18 died at their guns,  and 39 were wounded, many of whom would die later. A number of the wounded were bayoneted at their guns. Of the cannon crews alone, 46 out of the 54 men who served the guns were killed or wounded. Finally, the losses suffered by the Eleventh were 22 percent higher than any other light battery in any one engagement in the war. The loss in horseflesh and equipment was also staggering; 42 horses killed outright, and the remaining 42 were rendered unfit for further service. All of the horse team harnesses were gone, taken by the Rebs when they finally captured the battery.

Coming soon – Part two of this series on the Eleventh Ohio Battery

Sources:

Cozzens, Peter. The Darkest Days of the War. The Battles of Iuka and Corinth. Chapel Hill NC, 1997

Fox, William. Regimental Losses in the Civil War. Dayton, Ohio, 1997

Neil, Henry M.  A Battery at Close Quarters. Google Books.

Library of Congress, Chronicling of America, National Tribune

Library of Congress, Chronicling of America, Wyandot Pioneer

To The Sound of the Guns Blog

Civil War Preservation Trust

Ohio In the Civil War

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Mother’s Poem

Today, one the 150th anniversary of his assassination I was going to post my thoughts on this most American of Presidents, but my thoughts just kept returning back to young Abe and his love for his mother. So here is a reblog of an earlier post of mine. It the best I can do today.

Buckeyes, Blackhats and the Boys of '61

young abe “Young Lincoln” – by Norman Rockwell

The following poem was a favorite of my grandmother, Helen Taylor Ehemann, who at a young age instilled in me the love of reading and history. I owe her so much, and I am sure that Abe Lincoln felt much they same way about his mother, who died when he was but nine years old.

Nancy Hanks

If Nancy Hanks
Came back as a ghost,
Seeking news
Of what she loved most,
She’d ask first
“Where’s my son?
What’s happened to Abe?
What’s he done?”

“Poor little Abe,
Left all alone.
Except for Tom,
Who’s a rolling stone;
He was only nine,
The year I died.
I remember still
How hard he cried.”

“You wouldn’t know
About my son?
Did he grow tall?
Did he have fun?
Did he learn to read?
Did he get to town?
Do you know his name?
Did he…

View original post 8 more words

“Boys, the command is no longer forward, but now it is follow me!”

The Civil War Trust has just announced the purchase of the tract of land over which the 19th Indiana charged and where the gallant Lt. Colonel Bachman fell. Please consider supporting the purchase of this very important piece of hallowed ground. http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/antietam/antietam-2015/

Buckeyes, Blackhats and the Boys of '61

Bachman

Lt. Colonel Alois O. Bachman was killed while leading the “Black Hats” of of the 19th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry on the morning of September 17, 1862. This is the story of his first day of regimental command and, tragically, the last day of his life.

A native of Madison County, Indiana, Bachman had previously served as a Captain in the 6th Indiana Volunteer Infantry (90 Days). He was commissioned Major of the 19th in late July 1861, receiving  his promotion to Lt. Colonel of the regiment the following February.  Due to injuries suffered at the Battle of Brawner Farm, and the physical and emotional toll of the campaign since that time, the Colonel of the 19th, Solomon Meredith, was unable to take the field; consequently, the 23-year-old Bachman became the commander of the regiment soon after the September 14th fight for Turners Gap.

Advancing with the other black-hatted “western”…

View original post 1,512 more words

Club’s Are Trumps. A Story For Saint Paddy’s Day.

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Monument to the 116th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Photo by the author

While I have many favorite monuments on the Gettysburg Battlefield, the monument of the 116th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry of the famed Irish Brigade stands out as the one that gives me more pause and reflection than any other. Situated on top of the rise know as “Stony Hill” it shows a fallen soldier laying in repose behind a stone and rail fence, his bent and broken musket at his side. I am sure that many battlefield visitors who pass this memorial believe that the soldier depicted belonged to the 116th PVI, that is not the case. The soldier memorialized forever on this monument is Private Charles F. Gardner of the 110th Pennsylvania. Gardner had fallen early in the action before his regiment was pushed back off the hill. Shortly after the 116th, along with the other units of the Irish Brigade charged through the “Wheatfield,” and retook the Stony Hill Position. Major St. Clair Mulholland, who commanded the 116th PVI at Gettsyburg noticed the fallen soldier, laying at peace where he fell. Mulholland was so moved by the slight smile and peaceful countenance on Private Chandlers face that when the 116th decided to raise a regimental monument he proposed that the slain Chandler be memorialized in stone so that future generations would forever know the horrible sacrifice and cost of war.

The following account is Major Mulholland’s description of the advance of the 116th that carried Stony Hill and his impression upon seeing the fallen Chandler the first time:

“…..as the column moved towards the left, Zook’s Brigade was in the rear, and as that command was passing the Rose farm, Colonel H. E. Tremaine, of General Sickles’s staff,rode up to the general and requested him to halt and
advance against the enemy who were breaking through the Union lines at that point. Zook at first refused to do
so, as he had no authority from the division commander,General Caldwell, who was then far in advance at the
head of the column, but Colonel Tremaine insisted and gave Zook a peremptory order in the name of General
Sickles. The gallant Zook hesitated no longer but, leaving the division column, quickly formed line, dashed into
the woods, met the enemy and began fighting, while the other three brigades of the division continued marching
towards Little Round Top, unaware of the fact that Zook’s men had left the command and were fighting all alone.
When the three brigades arrived at the foot of the hill (Little Round Top), there was a short delay; then Cross
deployed and went forward. Brooke went in to his left, and the Irish Brigade counter-marched to the right, passing
in rear of Cross and, after clearing his line, deployed and formed on the right of the division. As that brigade
advanced it moved over exactly the same ground on which Zook’s men had fought, passed over the line that they had reached, and struck the foe. Zook had been carried to the rear dying, and all the regiments of his brigade, after
making a most gallant fight, had fallen back, and as the brigades of Brooke, Cross and Kelly advanced and fought,
the One Hundred and Sixteenth held the extreme right flank of the division line.

The men of the Regiment went in at a “right shoulder shift” and, although the ground was covered with huge
boulders, interspersed with forest trees, hilly and rough, the alignment was well-preserved and, as it neared the
crest, met the enemy and received a volley. But the shots were too high and did but little damage and the men
rushed on. Soon the lines were but a few feet apart, and the men returned the fire with deadly effect. Captain
Nowlen drew his revolver and opened fire ; nearly all the other officers followed his example. Little Jeff Carl killed
a man within six feet of his bayonet. That hero. Sergeant Francis Malin, was conspicuous by his dash and bravery,
as his tall form towered above all around him – a noble soul. He soon fell dead with a bullet through his brain.
For a few moments it was hand-to-hand, but the Confederates seemed to have no stomach for the fight ;
they were tired, weary and glad to call “enough”, surrendered and were sent to the rear as prisoners of war.
The Regiment had met and fought the men of Kershaw’s Brigade, the same who, at Fredericksburg, had poured
their deadly fire into the Regiment from the stone wall at the base of Marye’s Heights. Then the brigade was
halted and aligned where the monuments now stand.

The meeting of the lines was unexpected to both the Confederates and Union men. As the latter were moving
up one side of the hill the Confederates were ascending the other. They gained the crest first and seeing the
Union men so close, they became excited and fired too quickly, resulting in the volley passing overhead, and but
few of the men of the Regiment were injured. On the contrary, the fire of the Regiment was delivered with
precision and calmness, and every shot told. The Confederates were on a crest while the regimental line
was below them, their feet about on a level with the heads of the men. When the Regiment charged and gained the
ground on which the enemy stood, it was found covered with their dead, nearly every one of them being hit in the
head or upper part of the body. Behind one large rock five men lay dead in a heap. They had evidently fallen
at the first volley and all at the same time. One of them, in his dying agony, had torn his blouse and shirt open,
exposing his breast and showing a great hole from which  his heart’s blood was flowing.

The large ball (calibre 69) and three buck shot with which the pieces were loaded, although a wretched
ammunition for distant firing, was just right for close hand-to-hand work, and so, on this occasion the fire of
the Regiment was terrible in its effect, while the small rifle balls of the South Carolina men went whistling over
the heads of the men of the One Hundred and Sixteenth. In front, and a little to the right, stood the Rose farm
house and barn. Over the little valley in the immediate front one could see the enemy massed and preparing for
another attack. The dead of the One Hundred and Tenth Pennsylvania Volunteers lay directly in front, on
the ground which that command had vacated but a half hour before, and one young boy lay outstretched on a
large rock with his musket still grasped in his hand, his pale, calm face upturned to the sunny sky, the warm blood
still flowing from a hole in his forehead and running in a red stream over the gray stone. The young hero had
just given his life for his country. A sweet, childish face it was, lips parted in a smile, those still lips on which
the mother’s kisses had so lately fallen, warm and tender. The writer never looked on a soldier slain without feeling
that he gazed upon the relics of a saint ; but the little boy lying there with his blood coloring the soil of his own
State, and his young heart stilled forever, seemed more like an angel form than any of the others.

” Somebody’s watching and waiting for him,
Yearning to hold him again to her heart ;
And there he Hes with his blue eyes dim,
And the smiling child-like lips apart.”

As the Regiment stood in line waiting for the foe in front to advance, a column of the enemy, supposed to be
Semm’s and Wofford’s Brigades, passed through the peach orchard, formed a line in rear and began to
advance just as the line in front began moving forward. Orders were given for the division to retire, and under
the circumstances it was done in fairly good order.”

100_5554

The view referenced in Major Mulholland’s account of the Confederate position on top of Stony Hill. The 116th’s monument is pictured at the top of this rise. Photo by the author

So today as you toast Saint Patrick, raise a glass or two to the fallen Private Gardner and to the valor of the Irish soldier, who in the American Civil War as in all of our conflicts sacrificed much to help keep their adopted country free.

Faugh a Ballagh !!!!

100_5065

At Rest. Photo by the author.

Sources:

The 116th Pennsylvania Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865available on line at Archive.Org

Gettysburg Daily website

“The Boys of Company D” – Part II

Captain James Glenn, Co. D 149th PVI. Image from the American Civil War Database

The morning of July 1st dawned warm and humid with a light rain that had been falling on and off during the night. Captain James Glenn shook the 60 men of Company D, 149th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, out from under their damp wool blankets, and after a hurried breakfast of hardtack and coffee, formed up with the rest of the 2nd Brigade (Stones), 3rd Division of the 1st Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Leaving their campsite in Farmer Brown’s barnyard, the company crossed over nearby Marsh Creek and headed north on the Emmitsburg Road toward the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Although Company D, along with the rest of the 149th, had been with the veteran 1st Corps since the previous February, they had not, in the common soldier expression of the time, “Seen the Elephant.” That said, Captain Glenn was still very proud of Company D and the men and boys in its ranks. After all, he helped raise the company in the fall of 1862, and within its ranks were many of his Washington County, Pennsylvania friends and neighbors. Now, on this damp, humid July morning, they were hard after the invading “Johnnies” of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, prepared to defend with their very lives the soil of their native state.

Upon reaching the slight rise upon which Sherfy’s soon to be famous peach orchard was located, and hearing increasing sounds of battle off to the northwest (Wadsworth’s 1st Division of the 1st Corps had just engaged the Confederate forces to the west of Gettysburg), the 3rd Division was ordered to march to the sound of the guns at the “double quick.” After less than a mile they reached the Codori Farm, where the division turned off the road to the left following the same well-worn shortcut taken by the First Division earlier that morning. This route led them west across the fields to the crest of Seminary Ridge, then following the ridge northward to the imposing brick structure that housed the Lutheran Theological Seminary. Arriving around 11:15 p.m. during a bit of lull in the battle, the 149th, with its sister regiments of the 150th and 143rd Pennsylvania (Stone’s Brigade), dropped their knapsacks and stacked arms in the small woodlot just to the west of the Seminary building to await further orders. (It was here they learned of the tragic death of Major General John Reynolds.)

Their rest was brief, for by 12:45 p.m. the 149th, 143rd and 150th PVI brigade were headed west to the area around the McPherson farm buildings to fill a gap in the Federal line between the Iron Brigade to the south and Cutler’s Brigade to the northeast. However, since Company D was designated as the provost or headquarters company of the third division, it remained behind, taking up a position extending southward of the Seminary building towards the Hagerstown Road where it was engaged in controlling the flow of stragglers and maintaining order behind the lines of battle.

By 2:30 p.m. the reformed division of Heth (who had been wounded and turned the command of his division over to Pettigrew) supported by Pender’s Division advanced, and after some of the most horrific fighting of the battle, outflanked the Federal line on McPherson’s Ridge, forcing the Iron Brigade, and shortly thereafter Stone’s Brigade, back to a “slight barricade of rails” that had been constructed earlier in the day by the men of Robinsons 2nd Division on the edge of a grove of trees just to the west of the Seminary building.

Pettigrew’s Division, having been decimated by both the morning and afternoon fighting on McPherson’s Ridge, paused to allow Pender’s Division, consisting of the brigades of Scales, Perrin and Lane, to move through its ranks and form for the attack against the battered but resolute survivors of the 1st Army Corps. They, after falling back across the swale between east McPherson’s Ridge and Seminary Ridge, were rallying on that ridge behind and to the north of the barricade of rails, their position being reinforced by the 19 guns of the 1st Corps Artillery Brigade.

Gettysburg_Day1_1600

Situation on Seminary Ridge, 4:00 PM July 1st, 1863. Map courtesy of Hal Jespersen. http://www.cwmaps.com/

As previously mentioned, Captain Glenn had spread his 60 men of Company D in a very thin skirmish line covering a front of more than 200 yards extending southward from left of the Seminary building across Hagerstown road to the area just west of the Schultz home. There they formed to the right of Gamble’s Cavalry Brigade, and in support of the four 3-inch ordinance rifles of Battery L, 1st New York Artillery (under the immediate command of Lt. William Bower), positioned facing westward on and to the north of the Hagerstown Road. They were to protect the extreme left flank of the Federal line and to keep the road as an avenue for Federal withdrawal back into Gettysburg and the heights beyond. (See map)

Company D “hunkered down” into position, taking whatever cover they could find behind the fences, stone walls and trees in the area. For easier access cartridge boxes were pulled around to their sides, flaps opened and readied for use.The metallic clank of ramrods and the strong click of hammers being pulled back was heard up and down the line as the men made their Enfield and Springfield rifle muskets ready to fire. They would not have long to wait.

By 4:00 p.m. Pender’s men had begun their assault across the 500 yards of open ground between Seminary Ridge and McPherson’s Ridge. While their advance was initially stopped by a tremendous fire of musketry and massed artillery, two regiments of Perrin’s Brigade (1st SC and the 14th SC ) soon found the exposed left flank of the Federal line and flanked the 121st Pennsylvania out of position causing the whole Federal line to start to unravel northward. At about the same time, Perrin spotted a gap in the Federal line and with the view to capture the guns of Battery L, ordered his other two regiments (12th and 13th SC ) to oblique to the right towards the battery’s position. What Perrin had not expected was the stout resistance made by the troopers of Gamble’s Cavalry Brigade and the 66 men of Company D. Even though outnumbered, under tremendous pressure, and with the entire Federal line rapidly crumbling, Company D helped hold this crucial position for 20 long minutes. Lieutenant Bower fired his last rounds, then hitching his guns up under a hail of small arms fire from the “Johnnies,” withdrew in great haste, racing eastward down the Hagerstown road towards Gettysburg and then on to the comparative safety of the Federal position on Cemetery Hill. The “Redlegs” were shortly followed by Gamble’s horse soldiers who were exhausted after more than nine hours of continuous fighting and maneuver. (As you will read in the account below, perhaps the men of Company D thought the cavalry might have left a bit too soon!)

The valiant Old First Corps, battered to near extinction, was now in full retreat, falling back to run the chaotic gauntlet through the streets of Gettysburg and then on to the “good ground” of Cemetery Hill. All, that is, except for Company D, who still had a tenuous hold around the Schultz house, but that grip was rapidly slipping away.

The following is an excerpt from the “History of Company D” by Private John Nesbit, which gives a good description of this crucial part of the action:

“A strong column of Confederates had moved towards our line on the Hagerstown road, striking the First Brigade and doubling up their left flank. After severe fighting this (First) brigade was driven back, uncovering our front entirely. Up to this time our Company had not fired a gun, but our time was coming.
 The rebel lines moved steadily forward, and were soon within range. The two pieces of artillery, the squad of cavalry, and Company D were now the only troops on this part of Seminary Ridge that had not been under fire and more or less demoralized. We opened fire and kept it up, but the rebels moved slowly and steadily forwards, and it soon became evident that we could not hold the position. The cavalry squad kept up appearances in good style, and it was thought they would charge, but they didn’t. They charged to the rear and left us in a hurry.
  The artillery had exhausted their ammunition and were compelled to cease firing and save their pieces as best they could. Our Company commenced to fall back. Gen. Thos. A. Rowley, who was then in command of the division, was with us. Henry B. Callahan, of our Company, insisted that if he did not get off the Ridge he would be captured. He finally mounted a horse and galloped off the field. It had now become necessary to run to escape capture and our boys got off that hill in a hurry.
  The writer with Capt. Glenn, Jos. C. Bell, Serg’t Snodgrass and others, went down the Hagerstown road towards the town. Jas. Roach and one or two others were in the field to the left of the road. The balances of the Company were each one saving himself. David H. Morton, who was nearly worn out, mounted a loose cavalry horse and galloped across the fields to Cemetery Hill.
  We left on the field, Jos. H. Baldwin, killed; Serg’t A. M. Stewart, mortally wounded; Andy Crooks, shot through the ankle, and a number of men wounded and captured.
  The rebel lines seemed to halt on the Ridge and deliberately fire after us, but we sustained no loss on the retreat. When we reached the level at the foot of the hill, near where the road crossed a little stream, Capt. Glenn insisted on stopping there to fight. There were about a half dozen of us and after persuading the captain that we could not, with any show of success, fight a Brigade of rebels, we hurried down the road to the town of Gettysburg with the Captain. (See map)
The Hagerstown road intersecting the main street of Gettysburg at the outskirts of the town, we were soon crowding along this street without any definite idea as to where we were going. Our Company was scattered in every direction. H. B. Callahan, John B. Holland, and one or two others were together. While making our way out of reach of rebel bullets, and not yet having arrived at the square, about the center of town, we found a detachment (sic) of Lee’s army were coming in at the other end of Main street. This was the first proof we had that the First and Eleventh corps must be entirely captured or driven through the town to Cemetery Hill, on our right.”

Company D- Good Map

Map showing Company D’s skirmish line and the location of Captain Glenn’s proposed stand.

Singly and in small groups, the men of Company D struggled through the crowded, confusing streets of Gettysburg and on to Cemetery Hill. There they rejoined what remained of the 149th, who suffered losses of nearly 75 percent (336 out of 450) during the fighting near the McPherson farm and along Chambersburg Pike. With every field officer of the regiment having been wounded, and in some cases captured, command of the regiment fell to Company D’s Captain Glenn. Physically and mentally exhausted, the men dropped down on the grass, started their coffee boiling, and tried to make sense of it all. Concern was great for those “pards” who had gone missing, but for many of the men, sleep, borne of the stress of battle and the experiences of the day, came surprisingly easy that night.

One thing was for certain. On the afternoon of July 1st, “The Boys of Company D” had looked the elephant in the eye, and while they didn’t blink, they most certainly would never be the same.

Coming soon, part three of this post –Remembering the Boys of Company D who fell during the fight of July 1st.

Sources:
American Civil War Databasewww.civilwardata.com
Doubleday, Abner, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg– available online at Google Books.
Gottfried, Bradley, The Maps of Gettysburg, Savas Beatie, 2007
Laino, Phillip, The Gettysburg Campaign Atlas, Gettysburg Publishing, 2015
Phanz, Harry, Gettysburg-The First Day, The University of North Carolina Press, 2001
Martin, David G.,Gettysburg July1, Combined Books, 1996 (revised edition)
Wittenberg, Eric, “The Devil’s to Pay” John Buford at Gettysburg. A History and Walking Tour; Savas Beatie 2014
Revised Edition General History of Company D 149th Pennsylvania Volunteers and Personal Sketches of the Members – available online at http://collection1.libraries.psu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/digitalbks2/id/60985

“The Boys of Company D” – Part One

This past January I was in Gettysburg and had the opportunity to have lunch with my friend Jeremy Brandt. During our meal the conversation turned to the actions of Company D, 149th Pennsylvania during the fighting on Seminary Ridge on the afternoon of July 1, 1863. Jeremy asked if I had ever seen the image of Co. D taken in November of 1864 near Petersburg,Virginia. When I told him that I couldn’t recall the image, he pulled out his cell phone  showed me copy and then told me that the image is available in downloadable from the Library of Congress. When I returned home I downloaded the image, and after viewing the high-resolution .tif file I realized that it would make a great blog post.

Beyond being rich in the details of their uniforms and accoutrements of which I will discuss below, I find this to be a most powerful image. From Gettysburg through the Overland Campaign of 1864, the men and boys pictured here are veterans of some of the most intense combat of not only the the American Civil War, but of the history of this country. If you choose to download the image, spend some time looking at the faces and into the eyes of these men…eyes of the veteran combat infantrymen that had, in the parlance of the day, “Seen the Elephant.”

The image has also drawn me to learn more about Company D, and the crucial role they played during the fighting on the late afternoon of July 1st which I detail in part two of this post.

First the image. which is rich in detail, some of which I will discuss below:

Company D

Click on image for the direct link to the downloadable image.

The officer on the left is Major James Glenn, who raised Company D and served as its first captain. He is holding the sword presented to him by the company in August of 1862. It is interesting to note that Glenn had the sword with him during Company D’s 1897 reunion where it “was brought out and examined with affectionate interest by the members of the company, all of whom had been interested in the sword thirty-two years ago.”

Captain (later Major) Glenn’s presentation sword.

The 1st sergeant next to Glenn is wearing what appears to be a commercial grade sack coat with some exterior pockets added. Also notable is that the only badge or insignia of rank he has on his sleeve is the lozenge or diamond of the first sergeant stripes. This was a common practice for both officers and non-coms during the later years of the war, as it made them less of a target for confederate sharpshooters. I believe that the First Sergeant is Frank Dorrington who was grievously wounded at Laurel Hill in May of 1864, left for dead in an ambulance wagon, and was almost buried before his “pard” William Johnston noticed he was still alive! Dorrington recovered and returned to the company in August of 1864. He served to the end.

Subdued 1st Sergeant lozenge.

Major Glenn and First Sergeant Frank   Dorrington.

Commercial grade blouse worn by First Sergeant Dorrington

In this cropped view noticed the variety of headgear, with 29 slouch hats of different styles and issue (M1858 Hardeee Hats and private purchase) visible. There are about 15 of the circular First Corps badges affixed, with several appearing to have some sort of pin fastening them to the hats. Remember that the “Old First Corps” had been combined with the Fifth Corp in March of 1864, but the men of the First were adamant about retaining their badges. The 149th would serve in both the second (white) and third (blue) divisions of the Fifth Corps which might account for the different color shades shown in the image. Also note the empty bayonet scabbards which are easily explained by the company’s rifle muskets (which appear to be M1861/63 Springfield rifle muskets) that are stacked in the rear of Company D. A few soldiers are sporting “bucktails” on their hats which was first the distinctive badge of the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves and later used by both the 149th and 150th PVI. (It must be stated that the 13th were the “Original Bucktails” and they often referred to the 149th and 150th as “Bogus Bucktails!”) And finally while the majority of the men are wearing the M1851 Dress or Frock coat, there are a couple of four-button blouses to be found in the image.

Company D, 149th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

Finally, as I mentioned above, spend some time looking at the faces, particularly the eyes, of the men in the image. These are the combat veterans of our great Civil War, and if you let it, this image almost transcends time giving one a new appreciation for the service and sacrifice of these “Defenders of the Old Flag!”

Look for part two of this post “Company D at Gettysburg” which will be published in the next couple of days.

Sources:

General History of Company D, 149th Pennsylvania Volunteers and Personal Sketches of their Members – available online from the Penn State Library Digital Collections website.

Gettysburg Magazine; Issue Eight, January 1st, 1993. Published by Morningside House, Dayton, Ohio

 

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