Friday, August 31, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
two days later
Yesterday passed off, and today is likely to do so without the battle which everybody expects almost hourly. The fight I wrote about in my last was quite a lively affair after it once commenced. General McClellan rode over to the battle field yesterday and made a reconnaissance about 5 miles beyond Hanover Court-house without meeting any secesh except two parties of 260 and 190 men with a body-guard of the 2nd Cavalry to escort them. The General only had our squadron along; we returned to camp about half past eleven last night, and since I have been enjoying the luxuries of the soundest sleep that ever fell to my lot. Hanover Court-house the scene of the fight is not the scene of the fight after all; the battle ground is two miles this side, and about 13 miles from our camp. The dead men were nearly all buried when we arrived on the field but one of the burial party told me he thought our loss was about two hundred killed. The secesh, he says, he didn’t measure, but saw them piled up like wood, and judged there was about twenty cords of them. One hundred and ten were found in a space of eight acres. If you look at a good map you can get a better idea of the way they fought than I can give you. General Porter with 15,000 men started for Hanover Courthouse early the Morning of the 27th and on reaching it found they had passed the enemy, who were in considerable force behind them. Accordingly bout-face (sic) was the word, and back they came. Met the rebels, routed, and pursued them to the rail-road crossing and there whipped them again. I don’t know the full particulars, but you will get them in the papers before you get this.
I think I have the solution of the reason why McClellan don’t attack the rebels, it is my belief that he is going to extend his right far enough to get possession of the railroad running through Fredericksburg and thus kill two birds with one stone. Join McDowell’s force to his, and also get the famous Stonewall Jackson on the hip, but I am too stupid for writing to day so I conclude with love to all.
Affectionately your Son,
Charles E. Bates
In envelope – 50 Dollars:
Any thing you write direct as follows,
Co E 4th Cavalry
General McClellan’s HeadQuarters
Near Richmond Va.
Monday, August 27, 2007
You see, Alfred Pleasonton wasn't Hooker's first choice to command the newly-created Cavalry Corps after George Stoneman left the Army of the Potomac. Hooker initially offered the post to Major General Winfield Scott Hancock. Much like Philip Sheridan, Hancock was a career infantry officer, not a cavalryman. He did have an excellent reputation by that point in the war, however, and among those who encouraged him to accept the position were Davis and John Buford. Hancock reluctantly agreed to accept the position, but circumstances intervened before he could notify General Hooker. When Major General Darius Couch asked to be relieved of command of II Corps, Hancock was the senior division commander, and assumed command of the Corps. The Cavalry Corps command went to Pleasonton.
Now, all of the above is related in a much more entertaining fashion in Eric's The Union Cavalry Comes of Age. I bring it up, because the note set me to wondering: how different might things have been had Hancock instead of Pleasonton led the Union cavalry during the Gettysburg campaign? Would Hancock have retreated at Brandy Station? Would he have kept better tabs on Lee's forces moving north? And, since there's been a bit of discussion lately on the Union pursuit of Lee at the end of the campaign, how different might the Union pursuit have been if the cavalry had been led by a more aggressive commander?
This, of course, isn't getting me any closer to finishing the Harper's Ferry project (sorry Brian), but it did get me thinking so I thought I'd share it with you all. I'm not too much for revisionist history, but it did make me scratch my head and ponder a bit. And who knows it might even generate a comment or two.
A typical breechloading carbine, it was opened for loading by depressing a latch forward of the trigger to release the barrel. The barrel then pivots downward on the frame to a right angle so the ammunition may be loaded. If it helps to visualize the process, the angle was nearly twice as great as the average break open shotgun of the time. The overall length of the carbine was 42 inches, with a barrel length of nearly 22 inches. It weighed approximately 7.5 pounds.
The Smith carbine was the fourth most popular carbine used during the Civil War. It was later surpassed by the Sharps, the Spencer and the Henry. The primary reason for this is ammunition. The Smith used special ammunition housed in a tube made of india rubber. This contained the cartridge when fired and prevented flareback. The carbine could be fired using loose powder cartridges, but the resulting flareback could be hazardous to the firer's eyes and face. Not long after the invention of the carbine, Smith & Wesson and Henry created self-contained metallic ammunition. This ammunition, unusable in the Smith led to the development of the repeating carbines that surpassed it later in the war.
Friday, August 24, 2007
The Smith carbine a rifled, breechloading .50 caliber carbine issued to Union cavalry units early in the war. 7,000 of them were delivered in 1862. More will be posted here on the Smith carbine in the near future. It is interesting that McClellan's escort was issued the carbines while in regiments such as the 6th US Cavalry only one squadron was equipped with carbines and not simply saber and pistol.
The Ammi Hull that Bates refers to was Corporal Ammi F. Hull of Company G, 1st Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery. He survived the war and died on September 19, 1890.
Camp 7 miles from Richmond
May 27th 1862, in a hurry
I have just received Johnson’s letter which was written on the 12th but I am glad to hear from you all and hope no misfortune has hapned (sic) since. I am in excellent health. The weather is fine now but last night we had a heavy rain, not enough to stop the march of the troops on to Richmond however. Our troops are within five miles of the Secesh Capitol and some heavy and rapid firing is being done now on the right. I suppose Genl Stoneman’s Brigade is in action. Tomorrow I am sure the fight will come off, and we march to Richmond or --- get wounded not death if I can help it. (adjourned for sta)
(5 Oclk PM) Hurrah. Three cheers and Tigers, splendid news. Three hundred secesh killed and wounded one hour and a half later from the seat of the war; the firing which I referred to in the beginning of the letter was from Genl Porter’s Division. He advanced to Hanover Court-house on our right where the secesh were to the number of 13,000 and drove them out, followed them to the railroad crossing where they made another stand and routed them from there also. He is still following them; this is official we have orders to have three days rations cooked and be ready to start in no time. Our company is on General McClellan’s body-guard and I am doing duty in the company now. I was one of the staff orderlies for a while but got relieved. I suppose you got the letter I wrote day before yesterday, and found how I came to be paying the seat of the secesh government a visit. Our troops are nearer now than when I got fired at, and everything is ready to fight. If the papers are to be believed we will have all the fighting we want to do for a few days but I think Jeff Davis & Co will run away to night (sic) and go up into country, probably in search of that much vaunted “last ditch” (underlined) to die in. Bully for them, the southern chivalry. We had some new rifles issued to us yesterday of Smith’s new patent they are beauties, and J.D.’s legions had better look out the day this Squadron is let loose at them. All the regular troops are held in reserve with five days rations cooked in their haversacks, I suppose to follow the retreat if we start the secesh running.
My time will be up in 7 months and two days, but if there is any fighting to be done you can count on my taking another blanket (i.e.) reenlisting. I am going to get a furlough when it gets cool weather. I saw the first Connecticut siege artillery at Yorktown, but don’t know where they are now. I did not know Ammi Hull was in it or I would have seen him. I found lots of old acquaintances in the Third Infantry. By the way let me know if you get 50 dollars all right in my last letter. If you did I will send more. I have not much news until Richmond is taken, but then look out for a Humser.
I wrote a letter to Julia day before yesterday and tore it up because I didn’t know how to direct it, tell me how to. It is now dark so I shall wind up goodbye for a time.
Charles E. Bates
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Madden rejoined the 2nd Dragoons in May 1856 at Fort Riley, Kansas. He served as a private, corporal, sergeant, and eventually first sergeant of Company B, 2nd Dragoons from May 1st, 1856 to April 28, 1861. He served with his company in Kansas until September 1857, when the regiment was ordered to Utah. He participated in the winter march of the Utah expedition, and served with the regiment in Utah until 1861.
Madden marched east with the regiment at the outbreak of the war, and was transferred to the newly forming 6th US Cavalry as the Regimental Commissary Sergeant. He served in this capacity until November 1st, when he received an appointment as a second lieutenant, 6th US Cavalry. He accepted the appointment on the 3rd, and was discharged the next day. He was assigned to Company M on November 5, 1861. He commanded the company in December, as Captain Hays was still recruiting the rest of the company in Pittsburgh.
Lieutenant Madden served with his company during the first half of 1862, moving with them to the Peninsula. He was commended by his regimental and brigade commanders for bravery during the battle of Williamsburg, and participated in actions at Slatersville, New Kent Court House, New Bridge, Mechanicsville, and battle of Hanover Court House. He also served as an aide de camp to General McClellan during the Seven Days’ Battles. Madden participated in actions at Falls Church, Charlestown, Hillsboro, Philomont, Uniontown, Upperville, Barber’s Crossroads, Amissville, and Sulphur Springs with the regiment through the spring of 1863.
He was absent with leave sick in Washington during September 1862 before returning to service with his company until January 1863. He commanded Company E in February, 1863, as Captain David McMurtry Gregg had taken command of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry and First Lieutenant Hutchins was absent. He was absent for a brief leave in March before commanding Company D in April, still as a second lieutenant. Of the officers assigned to the company, Captain Abert was serving on General Banks’ staff, and First Lieutenant Brown was absent sick in Philadelphia. He returned to Company M the following month.
Lieutenant Madden fought with his company at Beverly Ford during the Battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863, where he was wounded. He was later brevetted first lieutenant effective the same date for gallant and meritorious services during the battle. He was absent recovering from his wounds until September, when he returned to service as a mustering and disbursement officer in Boston, Massachusetts until May 1864.
Madden was promoted to first lieutenant on May 4, 1864, and returned to service with the regiment. He participated in the Army of the Potomac’s 1864 campaign, serving at the battle of Trevillian Station, the action at Darby’s Mill, and the battle of Deep Bottom. When the 6th Cavalry was assigned to the Army of the Shenandoah, he was assigned as the army’s Assistant Provost Marshall, and served in that position from November 1864 to February 1865.
He was detached from the regiment in March 1865, and served for the remainder of the war on the staff of Major General Casey in Washington DC. He was brevetted captain on April 9, 1865, “for gallant and meritorious services in the campaign terminating with the surrender of the insurgent army under Gen. R.E. Lee.”
Following the war, he accompanied the regiment to the frontier where he served in Texas and other posts in the southwest until he retired. He was promoted to captain and the command of Company C, 6th Cavalry on May 10, 1867. Madden was promoted to Major, 7th Cavalry on May 21, 1886.
Major Madden retired at his own request on October 5, 1887, with over thirty years of service. I have not been able to determine when he died or where he was buried.
I've determined that one needn't have been famous or a general to be eligible for a Fiddler's Green, merely a member of one of the regular cavalry regiments. It is a place, after all, where the shades of ALL dead cavalrymen go. Volunteers are included also, but other people write about them. It is much more difficult to find information on the lesser known troopers, though.
I had changed my vote to the 8th New York, and my impartial judge (wife) picked the 8th Pennsylvania. I didn't tell her what I'd voted, just included that picture in the mix. The 6th Pennsylvania nearly received the tiebreaking vote, but lost it when she discovered they didn't have their lances at Gettysburg (I said the judge was impartial, not rational.... 8^P). Thanks to all who voted and made comments.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
The Civil War Cavalry Forum is "a place to discuss the issues, events, and interests of those involved with the equestrian aspects of American civil War reenacting," according to the banner on the homepage. Far from focusing solely on reenacting, however, there are discussion forums focusing on everything from history (cavalry, federal or confederate) to units and organizations to tactics to horse artillery to (of course) horses and tack.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The first commander of the newly-raised 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, and its commander during the Gettysburg campaign, was J. Irvin Gregg. Gregg was detached from regular service as the captain of Company G, 6th US Cavalry, and mustered into the regiment on November 11, 1862. He was selected to command the new volunteer regiment after service in the Peninsula and Maryland campaigns. Although detached from his regiment following brevet promotions to brigadier and major general, Gregg mustered out with them on August 11, 1865. (Gregg’s life will be covered more fully in an upcoming Fiddler’s Green entry.)
Six months after taking command of the regiment, Gregg brought his former first sergeant in Company G to join him. According to the 6th US Cavalry muster rolls, Andrew F. Swan was discharged from the regiment on May 22, 1863 by order of General Pleasonton. I would imagine that his former commander had something to do with that, since Swan had apparently mustered into the 16th Pennsylvania as captain of Company C ten days earlier on May 12th. He was wounded at Hawes’ Shop on May 23, 1864, and promoted to major on September 4. He apparently never fully recovered from the wound, and was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate of disability on March 7, 1865. He received a brevet promotion to lieutenant colonel on March 13, 1865.
This is where my distant relatives join the story. Robert C. Caughey mustered into the regiment as a first lieutenant in Company C on September 6, 1862. Following Swan’s promotion to major, he was promoted to captain of Company C. He was promoted to major by brevet in the avalanche of brevet promotions on March 13, 1865 (might have to do a post on that event someday), and discharged by general order on July 24, 1865.
Lockwood Caughey mustered into the regiment as the first sergeant of Company C on the same day that Robert did. He was promoted to second lieutenant on January 2, 1863 and first lieutenant on May 21, 1864. I have no idea if these promotions were due to merit or nepotism, as I’m unsure exactly how the two were related. Lockwood was mortally wounded in a mounted charge at Deep Bottom, Virginia on June 29, 1864. He died nearly three weeks later, on August 16th.
A history of the regiment as well as company rosters can be found on Alice Gayley’s excellent Pennsylvania in the Civil War website.
And to think, all of this snowballed from an innocent comment about a monument….
Monday, August 13, 2007
Technically challenged as I am at times, I found the function on the blog that emails me when I get comments...finally.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Camp Winfield Scott
May 5th, 1862
I have been so busy since we came here that I have not had time to write to you and I only have half an hour now. You have heard before now that Yorktown is evacuated, I suppose, but you have not heard that General Keys (Keyes’) Division is at present surrounded by the secesh (sic) and a terrible fight is going on. Intenting (sic) to cut off their (sic) rear guard, or harass them on their retreat, he advanced yesterday nearly to Williamsburg and this morning he woke up and found himself in as bad a fix as the Irishman who caught a Tartar. This at least is the rumor that is about headquarters at present. It is also said that one of the aids (sic) on McClellan’s staff is killed. The General himself is reported to have actually shed tears when he heard of it, but you can believe it or not.
You need not have any fears about my being snuffed out by these secesh (sic) for I am reserved for the hangman I think, from my lucky escape from a watery grave this morning, the way I came so near going under was this. I went down to Cheeseman’s landing with six wagons after forage, and riding rather close to the edge of the landing my horse took a notion that a cold bath would be rather of an agreeable thing; or perhaps he is part sea horse. At any rate in he went taking to the water as natural as a Duck; I did not like to play Neptune in that style so I seceded from the brute, but won’t I take satisfaction from him some day.
Its (sic) all a sham about General Keys (Keyes’) Division, at last accounts he was in possession of Williamsburg and giving them Jessie. Two secesh (sic) colors were taken yesterday by the Berdan Sharpshooters.
But I shall have to close for the present, goodbye,
Charles E. Bates
I want you to let me know exactly how to direct anything to you by in case I send something by Adams Express Co.
I have just heard that our Gun boats are up James river where they have the secesh (sic) fleet penned up and the retreat of the rebels cut off. I hope its (sic) so. I’ll write again soon. Direct a letter to me as follows:
Company “E”, 4th Cavlry General HeadQuarters
Saturday, August 11, 2007
At the same time, being in an interrogative frame of mind lately, I thought I'd ask peoples' opinions on the best cavalry monument at Gettysburg. After a good bit of deliberation, I narrowed my list down to these six. All votes count, and I'll determine who the winner is on Wednesday. If you have a nomination that isn't shown below, simply send a picture, and I'll add it.
The nominees are listed in numerical order, with the exception of the first one:
17th Pennsylvania Cavalry. The carbine barrel has been replaced, but I didn't think it fair to hold that against it. The monument for the 16th PA is the same with the original barrel, but I can't seem to find that one.
1st Massachusetts Cavalry. I liked the relief of the horse's head, and it's the only horseshoe that I recall seeing on one of the monuments.6th Ohio Cavalry. I thought this image might have been more appropos on the 1st Vermont Cavalry monument, given their relative roles during the battle.
8th New York Cavalry. I liked this one, and wanted to include at least one monument with metalwork relief instead of marble. I really liked the inscribed motto of "Discovering the Enemy" as well.
8th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Definitely one of my favorites, though I'm not sure how he's going to get his horse off of that tree stump....12th Illinois Cavalry. Very similar to the monument for the 8th Illinois, but I preferred the side view of the saddle to the frontal view at the top of the monument. There will be more about this regiment on this blog in the future, as they were one of the regiment that broke out of Harper's Ferry prior to Antietam.
Once again, all votes are welcome, and feel free to nominate others. East Cavalry Field is not currently represented, I think they were eaten when my hard drive crashed.
Friday, August 10, 2007
I realize each has a different focus and to some extent a different audience, but which one is the best publication? Why do I ask, you ask? For a couple of reasons. First, I'm curious what you think. Second, while I don't intend to subscribe to all of them, I do plan to subscribe to one or two in the near future. It's both more economically sound and a great deal less frustrating than trying to find them in the local bookstores since my return to the mountains (I'm still looking for that September 07 N&S issue, is it out in stores yet?).
So, what do you think?
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Camp before Yorktown
April 13th, 1862
I don’t suppose you have received a letter from me since last December but you must not blame me for it. The fault lies with the P.O. Dept. I have written several times, but yesterday I discovered, or rather a poor Dutchman, whom I didn’t think had sense enough to last him till he made his exit from this world, found out for me that my postage stamps were no good, being of the old style which were in use before the days of Secession. Thank Good my health has been tip-top since I wrote my last letter from Washington but you must have thought I had gone to Davy Jones locker from my silence.
Since I left Washington (last Dec.) I have been pretty constantly on the move but save a clear day occasionally nothing remarkable has happened. I think however something will happen next week. We have had three clear days in succession, and such a thing must be the forerunner of something remarkable.
Our Squadron (Cos “A” and “E” 4th Cavly) is Genl McClellan’s body-guard and we have a fine time of it. If there is any fighting the General will be in as much danger as we will, but I think that will not be much. There is an army of about ninety five thousand federal troops here and the papers say there are one hundred thousand secesh (sic) with five hundred cannon, but I think forty thousand is the outside of their strength. There has been considerable skirmishing here for the last week but the mud is too deep for us to bring our heavy artillery into position. Several Prisoners have been taken by our boys and they tell so many stories nobody believes them. The prevailing opinion is that Yorktown is held by fifty thousand troops under General A.S. Johnston and that they will be whipped within seven days.
A large boat bridge has been built across the (York) river just opposite us (our camp is on the same side of the river Yorktown is, and about two and a half miles below it). The roads have all been filled up with rails and logs to make them passable for artillery and I think about everything is ready for the ball to be opened. If I am so lucky as to escape having the lamp of my existence snuffed out by a secesh (sic) bullet I expect to write a full account of the battle at Yorktown in exactly one week from this day and write from Richmond.
Till then Adios.
Chas. E. Bates
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Hartwood Church was my first stop. I was driving north on highway 17 just north of Fredericksburg, when I noticed a sign that said Hartwood. Just after that a large truck pulled out in front of me, forcing me to slow down. The next road was Hartwood Church Road, so I had to make a quick stop. The church was the site of an engagement between Confederate and Union cavalry forces on February 25, 1863. Confederate Brigadier General Fitzhugh Lee, with elements of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Virginia Cavalry, conducted a raid on the Union encampment here. He thoroughly surprised the Union forces, capturing over 150 men and numerous horses before escaping unscathed back across the Rappahannock. The best description of the engagement that I’ve seen is in Eric Wittenberg’s The Union Cavalry Comes of Age. It was nice to get to see the place after reading about it; it hadn’t occurred to me that it might still be intact. Although it was damaged severely over the course of the war, it was repaired and is still intact today as illustrated by the picture below.
My next stop was Harper’s Ferry, one of the planned halts. I’d hoped to find out more information on the breakout of the Union cavalry forces during the siege of the town by Jackson’s forces just prior to the battle of Antietam. I found the place rather disappointing, but this may have been because I was there for a specific purpose and they didn’t have what I was looking for. It just seemed to me that there wasn’t a great deal of energy amongst the staff there, and that given the history of the site there was potential for a lot more. If I was advising a traveler, I’d have to recommend it as a possible side trip, but not a destination.
The next leg was the fun part of the drive, from Harper’s Ferry to the Antietam battlefield. It was here that I missed my wife’s presence the most. I was so busy looking at the historic buildings in Boonsboro that I missed my turn. This actually turned out to be fortunate, as I realized that I’d missed it when I reached the site of the battle of Funkstown. Seeing the site gave me a better appreciation for the battle, as did the brief stop at the site of the cavalry skirmish at Boonsboro on my way back to the missed turn. The countryside is very pretty around there, well worth the drive even if one isn't looking for skirmish sites.
I really enjoyed Antietam, and think it is one of the best Civil War battlefields to visit, along with Chickamauga and of course Gettysburg. It was great to see it in such good condition. Alas, I didn’t get the chance to meet Ranger Mannie, but the tips Brian Downey sent for touring the battlefield proved to be a great help. Thanks again, Brian.
Putting Antietam behind me, I turned my trusty steed towards Gettysburg. Not always one for the shortest distance between two points, I also stopped on South Mountain, and was surprised to discover that it’s only 1200’ high. I’d thought it was bigger for some reason.
Upon arrival at Gettysburg, I visited South Cavalry Field for the first time. I’d never quite made it there on previous visits. I managed to find all of the Regular cavalry markers, even the two down in the low ground off of Ridge Road. And I finally got a picture of my own of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry monument nearby.
After my visit to South Cavalry Field, I stopped at the Nat ional Cemetery to find the graves of the 6th Cavalry troopers buried there. I don’t know where the few men killed from the other regular cavalry regiments are buried, but I couldn’t find a record of them there. I did find an intriguing reference to a diary of a 6th Cavalry soldier that I hadn’t heard of before, but I’m still in the process of trying to track it down.
A brief visit to the bookstore across the street at the visitor center revealed that Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions is indeed sold out, and has been for some time. Eric, if you still have a few copies stashed away, you might want to send them their way. It sounds like the book is missed on the bookshelves there.
I made a quick tour of the battlefield, trying to get pictures of all of the cavalry monuments. I didn’t make it to East Cavalry Field this time, but I think I already have pictures of those from my last trip. The only one from the rest of the battlefield that I know that I missed is the marker for Company A, 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry, as I ran out of film. I even found the markers for the 5th New York and the 1st Vermont that bloggers were discussing last week. I’ll have an entry soliciting votes for the best Gettysburg cavalry monument in the near future.
After dinner, I was able to walk Gamble’s and Devin’s lines as the sun set before returning to my hotel. It was a full day, but a very enjoyable one. The rest of the trip was faster, but not nearly as much fun.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Company G, 2nd Dragoons remained in New Mexico territory when the regiment began its consolidation. It participated in the campaign that culminated in the battle of Valverde, serving as artillerymen in McRae’s Battery along with members of the 3rd US Cavalry. They manned the battery with skill commended by General Crook, though the battery’s commander, Captain Alexander McRae of the 3rd Cavalry, was killed during the battle. The company returned to Fort Leavenworth in October 1862, where it was joined by Company I.
Company I remained at Fort Garland, Colorado at the outbreak of the war, tasked with protecting civilians from hostile Indians until volunteer units could be organized and trained. Once the two companies were united, they marched to Washington, where they arrived together on November 23, 1863.