Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Question

I'll have Part IV of 1861 for the officers of the 1st Cavalry completed by the weekend. I'll need to do something similar with the other regiments to gain an idea of relative strength and experience of the Regulars by the end of the year. Since I haven't seen any comments on the series as yet from readers, I have a question --- do the lists of who is where at the end of each segment help at all, or should I drop them?

They help me keep things straight, particularly in the heavy resignation months, but if they don't help the entry there's no point in listing them here. I keep them on a spreadsheet or two in order to keep them straight enough in my head to write about.

One thing about tracking by 'eachs' is that it has led to several interesting match-ups of officers formerly of the same unit on opposing sides early in the war. McIntosh as a Confederate regimental commander against Sturgis with part of the 1st US Cavalry at Wilson's Creek, for example.

I haven't looked at enough material yet for any conclusions, but it's beginning to appear that the experience level of the Regulars by the beginning of the Peninsula Campaign wasn't much better than that of the volunteer regiments around them. Time will tell.

Comments, incidentally are certainly welcome in case I failed to mention that before.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Officers of the 1st US Cavalry in 1861, Part III

On April 17th, LtCol Emory was directed to proceed with all of his troops to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Captain Sturgis evacuated Fort Smith, Arkansas and marched to Fort Washita at roughly the same time. (Rodenbough, Army of the United States, pg 214). On the 22nd, the exodus resumed with the resignation of Captain George H. Steuart of Company K. 1stLt James E.B. Stuart assumed the captaincy and command of the company.

Regimental command changed again on April 25th, with the resignation of Colonel Robert E. Lee. LtCol John Sedgwick, again following in Lee’s wake, returned from the 2nd Cavalry to command the regiment. 1stLt Lunsford L. Lomax resigned the same day, replaced in Company C by 2ndLt Charles S. Bowman.

The president appointed two new second lieutenants to the regiment from civilian life on April 26th, but only one reached his unit. Walter M. Wilson of Massachusetts joined Company A, but Thomas T. Turner of Missouri declined his assignment to Company K. Wilson was promoted to 1stLt in Company G less than three weeks later, on May 14th.

May was a tumultuous month for the 1st Cavalry, as nine more officers resigned. Captain William S. Walker of Mississippi and 2ndLt Oliver H. Fish resigned on the 1st. 1stLt Edward Ingraham followed the next day. Captain James McIntosh of Company D resigned May 7th, as did 2ndLt Andrew Jackson Jr of Company E. 1stLt Richard H. Riddick of Company K resigned on May 9th. Also resigning on May 9th was LtCol William H. Emory, another blow to the regiment’s senior leadership. Captain James E.B. Stuart resigned May 14th, only 22 days after taking command of Company K. He was followed on the 24th by Captain Robert Ransom Jr.

These resignations spurred another series of promotions in the regiment. Major Delos R. Sackett was promoted to LtCol in the 2nd Cavalry on May 3rd, replacing Sedgwick. Major Thomas J. Wood was promoted to LtCol on May 9th, replacing Wood. Captain Samuel D. Sturgis was promoted to one of the major positions, and Captain George Stoneman of the 2nd Cavalry was advanced to the other. 1stLts Crittenden, Long, Otis, Thompson and McIntyre were all promoted to captain and took command of companies. 2ndLts Bowman and Taylor reached 1stLt, and Taylor was promoted again to captain in the 3rd Cavalry on May 14th. By May 31st, only three officers in the regiment, Captains William N.R. Beall, Henry B. Davidson and Eugene A. Carr, occupied the same duty positions that they held January 1, 1861. All six of the second lieutenants appointed to the regiment in February and March from civilian life were promoted to the rank of first lieutenant.

Newly appointed officers continued to flow into the regiment. The first West Point class of 1861 graduated on May 6th, and the 1st Cavalry received three of its members. Cadets Charles C. Campbell (24th in class), Malbone F. Watson (25th), and Eugene B. Beaumont (32nd) were assigned as second lieutenants in Companies F, I, and H respectively. 2ndLt Campbell was ordered dropped from the rolls of the army on May 22nd for tendering his resignation in the face of the enemy. 2ndLt Tillinghast L’Hommediu of Ohio was transferred to Company E from the 6th Infantry on May 7th. He had been appointed a 2ndLt from civilian life only eleven days before.

Five more civilian appointees were assigned to the regiment in May. Samuel W. Stockton of New Jersey was assigned to Company B as a 2ndLt on May 4th, only to be promoted to 1stLt in Company E on the 24th. Three more were appointed to the regiment the next day: Michael J. Kelly of the District of Columbia, Edward M. McCook of the Colorado Territory, and Edward D. Baker of Illinois. On May 17th, William W. Webb of the District of Columbia was appointed to the position in Company K declined by Thomas Turner the month before.

On May 29th, two companies were ordered to Fort Kearney, Nebraska to hold hostile Indians in that region in check. The remainder of the regiment closed on Fort Leavenworth, evacuating and abandoning Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Forts Gibson, Cobb, Arbuckle and Washita, Oklahoma before beginning to move east (Utley, Frontiersmen in Blue, pg 212). Officer assignments as of May 31, 1861 are listed below:

Colonel John Sedgwick
Lt Col Thomas J. Wood
Maj Samuel D. Sturgis
Maj George Stoneman
Adjutant (1Lt) Albert V. Colburn

Company A
Capt William N.R. Beall*
1st Lt Thomas H. McCormick
Company B
Capt Frank Wheaton
1st Lt George G. Huntt
Company C
Capt David S. Stanley
1st Lt Charles S. Bowman
2nd Lt Michael J. Kelly
Company D
Capt Eugene W. Crittenden
1st Lt George D. Bayard
2nd Lt Edward D. Baker
Company E
Capt James B. McIntyre
1st Lt Samuel W. Stockton
2nd Lt Tillinghast L’Hommediu
Company F
Capt Eli Long
1st Lt Thomas B. Alexander
Company G
Capt Elmer Otis
2nd Lt Edward M. McCook
Company H
Capt Henry B. Davidson
1st Lt John A. Wilcox
2nd Lt Eugene B. Beaumont
Company I
Capt Eugene A. Carr
1st Lt Napoleon B. McLoughlin
2nd Lt Malbone F. Watson
Company K
Capt John A. Thompson
1st Lt Clarence Mouck
2nd Lt William W. Webb

Monday, February 26, 2007

Another Cav Medal of Honor Winner

While the majority of posts on this blog center on the Civil War, I would be remiss if I failed to mention a much more modern cavalryman receiving the nation's highest award today. Major (Ret) Bruce Crandall was supporting the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry when he earned the award. The TV report showed him proudly wearing his stetson and dress blues (that he was wearing his spurs also is a pretty safe assumption) as the President hung the award around his neck in a ceremony at the White House today. The story as released by the AP follows. Well done, Bruce.

Pilot Gets Medal of Honor 41 Years Later
WASHINGTON (AP) - Bruce Crandall was a soldier once ... and young. As a 32-year-old helicopter pilot, he flew through a gantlet of enemy fire, taking ammunition in and wounded Americans out of one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam War, Army records say. Now, a week after his 74th birthday, Crandall will receive the nation's highest military honor Monday in a White House ceremony with President Bush . "I'm still here," he said of his 41-year-wait for the Medal of Honor. "Most of these awards are posthumous, so I can't complain."

Crandall's actions in the November 1965 Battle at Ia Drang Valley were depicted in the Hollywood movie "We Were Soldiers," adapted from the book "We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young." At the time, Crandall was a major commanding a company of the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). "We had the first airmobile division ... the first one to use aircraft as a means of transportation and sustaining combat," Crandall said. His unit was put together earlier that year to go to Vietnam and "wasn't as thought out as things are today."

He didn't have gunners for his aircraft. That's why he flew unarmed helicopters into the battlefield. He didn't have night vision equipment and other later technology that lessens the danger of flying. The unit had "minimum resources and almost no administrative people" - thus the lack of help to do the reams of paperwork that had to be sent to Washington for the highest medals, Crandall said.

Generals in-theater could approve nothing higher than the Distinguished Flying Cross, Crandall said in a phone interview from his home near Bremerton, Wash, so he received that award. Through the years, he was able to get that upgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross and now to the Medal of Honor. Crandall was leading a group of 16 helicopters in support of the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment - the regiment led by George Armstrong Custer when he met his end at the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, or "Custer's Last Stand."

Without Crandall's actions, the embattled men at Ia Drang would have died in much the same way - "cut off, surrounded by numerically superior forces, overrun and butchered to the last man," the infantry commander, Lt. Col. Harold Moore, wrote in recommending Crandall for the medal. Moore, now a retired three-star general, later wrote the book about the battle along with Joseph L. Galloway, a former war correspondent now with McClatchy Newspapers.

"This unit, taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, out of water and fast running out of ammunition, was engaged in one of the fiercest battles of the Vietnam war against a relentlessly attacking, highly motivated, vastly superior force," said U.S. Army documents supporting Crandall's medal. The U.S. forces were up against two regiments of North Vietnamese Army infantry, "determined to overrun and annihilate them," the documents said. The fighting became so intense that the helicopter landing zone for delivering and resupplying troops was closed, and a unit assigned to medical evacuation duties refused to fly. Crandall volunteered for the mission and with wingman and longtime friend Maj. Ed Freeman made flight after flight over three days to deliver water, ammunition and medical supplies. They are credited with saving more than 70 wounded soldiers by flying them out to safety, and Freeman received the Medal of Honor in July 2001. Paperwork and other parts of the process delayed Crandall's medal until now, officials said.

Thinking back to the Vietnam battle, Crandall remembers the first day was "very long ... we were in the air for 14 and a half hours." He also thinks of how impressive and calm the unit on the ground remained, saying Moore and his commanders were "solid as rocks" throughout the fight. And of course, Crandall says, he's also proud of his own performance. "I'm so proud that I didn't screw it up," he said.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Working for a Living

I was curious this afternoon what cavalrymen were paid monthly during the Civil War. Several times over the last week, I have seen references to someone being paid “as a corporal of cavalry”, with nary a mention of what that amount might be. So I turned to the bookshelf, and found some help from Robert M. Utley’s Frontiersmen in Blue on page 36.

Privates were paid $11a month in the infantry and artillery, $12 a month in the cavalry
There was no mention of corporals, but sergeants earned a whopping $17 a month. Longevity pay was introduced in 1854, providing $2 extra a month during the second (five year) enlistment, and an additional $1 for each enlistment after that. In addition, they received their uniforms, rations and quarters.

I’ll feel much better when payday rolls around in a couple of days after reading that.

Officers of the 1st US Cavalry in 1861, Part II

The exodus began near the top of the regiment’s hierarchy in January, as LtCol William J. Hardee resigned his commission on the 31st. This Georgia born officer later became a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army. The effects of his resignation then cascaded through the regiment in a series of promotions. William H. Emory, the senior Major, was promoted to take his place. Captain Delos R. Sackett was promoted to the junior Major position, and 1stLt Robert Ransom, Jr was promoted to Captain and the command of Company F. 2ndLt John A. Thompson was promoted to the vacant position of 1st Lt in Company H.

With each resignation, another slew of promotions followed. 1stLt Philip Stockton resigned on February 27th, his position in Company B assumed by 2ndLt Edward Ingraham of Company I. On March 1st, Captain William D. Saussure of South Carolina resigned. Frank Wheaton was promoted to captain in Company B, and Eli Long to 1stLt of Company E.

Colonel Edwin V. Sumner was appointed a Brigadier General in the Regular Army on March 16 upon the dismissal of BrigGen David Twiggs. LtCol Robert E. Lee was promoted and transferred from the 2nd Cavalry to take command of the regiment, while Major John Sedgwick in turn assumed his position as LtCol of the 2nd Cavalry. Captain Thomas J. Wood of Company C was promoted to major, 1stLt David S. Stanley to captain and George D. Bayard to 1stLt the same day.

This must have been very confusing for the noncommissioned officers and enlisted men of the regiment, as none of those promoted remained in the same company. Only 15 of the 34 officers remained in their same rank and duty position over this three month period.

To add to the confusion, six new second lieutenants were appointed to the regiment from civilian life in February and March. Thomas B. Alexander, of Washington Territory, was assigned to Company F on February 21. The four new lieutenants were assigned to their companies on March 27. George G. Huntt, of the District of Columbia, was assigned to Company I; Napoleon B. McLoughlin, of New York, to Company H; and Thomas H. McCormick and Clarence Mouck, both of Pennsylvania, to Company C and G respectively. John A. Wilcox, also of the District of Columbia, was assigned to Company D on March 28.

On March 18th LtCol Emory was ordered to concentrate the regiment at Fort Washita and establish his headquarters there. Listed below are the 34 officers assigned to the regiment at the end of March, 1861. Outside of personnel moves, life remained relatively quiet for the regiment during this period.

Colonel Robert E. Lee*
Lt Col William H. Emory *
Maj Thomas J. Wood
Maj Delos R. Sackett
Adjutant (1Lt) Albert V. Colburn

Company A
Capt William N.R. Beall*
1st Lt Eugene W. Crittenden
2nd Lt Charles S. Bowman
Company B
Capt Frank Wheaton
1st Lt Edward Ingraham*
2nd Lt Oliver H. Fish*
Company C
Capt David S. Stanley
1st Lt Lunsford L. Lomax*
2nd Lt Thomas H. McCormick
Company D
Capt James McIntosh*
1st Lt George D. Bayard
2nd Lt John A. Wilcox
Company E
Capt Samuel D. Sturgis
1st Lt Eli Long
2nd Lt Andrew Jackson Jr
Company F
Capt Robert Ransom Jr*
1st Lt Elmer Otis
2nd Lt Thomas B. Alexander
Company G
Capt William S. Walker*
1st Lt James E.B. Stuart*
2nd Lt Clarence Mouck
Company H
Capt (Henry B. Davidson?)
1st Lt John A. Thompson
2nd Lt Napoleon B. McLoughlin
Company I
Capt (unknown)
1st Lt James B. McIntyre
2nd Lt George G. Huntt
Company K
Capt George H. Steuart*
1st Lt Richard H. Riddick*
2nd Lt Joseph H. Taylor

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Officers of the 1st Cavalry in 1861, part I

The first year of the war was a period of chaos for the veteran troopers of the Regular cavalry. Resignations were followed by promotions and reassignments. Regiments were fully assembled from widespread, remote commands, for the first time in years in some cases. Once assembled, there were battles to fight and integration with volunteer forces to contend with. And, in the midst of all of this, newly-assigned officers must hurry to learn their craft before the next battle or promotion. The purpose of the next series of essays is to illustrate the turmoil among the officers of the Regular cavalry regiments over the course of 1861. The 1st (later 4th) US Cavalry will serve as an example.

These essays focus on officer strength for a simple reason – I don’t yet have the muster rolls for any of the regiments for 1861. What I do have are the War Department General Orders from the first two years of the war, which detail every officer assignment, appointment, transfer, resignation, dismissal and retirement for all of the branches. While contained in the OR, my source is General Orders of the War Department, embracing the years 1861, 1862 & 1863, Volume I, by Thomas O’Brien and Oliver Diefendorf (New York: Derby & Miller, 1864). Using these reports, I have located every officer assigned to the regiment by company and duty position, save two. Captain Henry B. Davidson was assigned to either Company H or I, and I don’t yet know who the captain was assigned to the other company.

Listed below are the 34 officers assigned to the regiment in January, 1861. By year’s end, eighteen of them will resign their commissions. Only two companies, E and F, would not lose at least one officer. Three of those who remain will be general officers of volunteers, and several more will be assigned to other duties outside the regiment at the end of the year. But as we start down the road to war, these are the officers of the First US Cavalry:

Colonel Edwin V. Sumner
Lt Col William J. Hardee*
Maj William H. Emory*
Maj John Sedgwick
Adjutant (1Lt) Albert V. Colburn

Company A
Capt William N.R. Beall*
1st Lt Eugene W. Crittenden
2nd Lt Charles S. Bowman
Company B
Capt William D. Saussure*
1st Lt Philip Stockton*
2nd Lt Oliver H. Fish*
Company C
Capt Thomas J. Wood
1st Lt Alfred Iverson, Jr*
2nd Lt John R.B. Burtwell*
Company D
Capt James McIntosh*
1st Lt David S. Stanley
2nd Lt Lunsford L. Lomax*
Company E
Capt Samuel D. Sturgis
1st Lt Frank Wheaton
2nd Lt Tillinghast L’Hommediu
Company F
Capt Delos R. Sackett
1st Lt Elmer Otis
2nd Lt John A. Thompson
Company G
Capt William S. Walker*
1st Lt James E.B. Stuart*
2nd Lt George D. Bayard
Company H
Capt (Henry B. Davidson?)
1st Lt Robert Ransom*
2nd Lt Eli Long
Company I
Capt (unknown)
1st Lt James B. McIntyre
2nd Lt Edward Ingraham*
Company K
Capt George H. Steuart*
1st Lt Richard H. Riddick*
2nd Lt Joseph H. Taylor

Organization at the outset

In order to better understand the upcoming entries on officer assignments within the First (later Fourth) US Cavalry over the course of 1861, I will first examine the organization of cavalry companies and regiments before the war began.

These organizations are described in General Orders, No. 15, May 4, 1861, as part of President Lincoln’s call for volunteers. The organization of a company of cavalry at this time consisted of:

Captain (1)
1st Lieutenant (1)
2nd Lieutenant (1)
1st Sergeant (1)
Company Quartermaster Sergeant (1)
Sergeants (4)
Corporals (8)
Buglers (2)
Farriers and Blacksmiths (2)
Saddler (1)
Wagoner (1)
Privates (56-72)

As stated in a previous entry, two companies composed a squadron, with no further personnel assigned. Regular regiments at the outbreak of the war were each composed of five squadrons, or a total of ten companies. The personnel assigned to the regimental headquarters in each regiment consisted of:

Colonel (1)
Lieutenant Colonel (1)
Major (2)
Adjutant (1 lieutenant)
Regimental Quartermaster and Commisary (1 lieutenant)
Assistant Surgeon (1)
Sergeant Major (1)
Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (1)
Regimental Commisary Sergeant (1)
Hospital Steward (1)
Chief Buglers (2)
Musicians for Band (16)

Maximum total strength for a ten company regiment at this time is 978 --- 34 officers and 944 noncommissioned officers and enlisted men. With the addition of two more companies to each regiment once the 6th US Cavalry was formed later in the year, a third major was authorized for each regiment. The regimental bands were later disbanded (no pun intended), but this is where the regiments stood if at full strength at the outbreak of the war.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Promotions revisited

I found something last night in Rodenbough's The Army of the United States that I'd never seen and am not sure I understand. It was on page 203, in the 3rd US Cavalry history section.

"In consequence of the retirement of Colonel Simonson, September 16, 1861, Marshall S. Howe was promoted colonel of the regiment under the new system, which , however, did not repeal the law which made promotion lineal in the regiment. But appeal and protest were alike in vain."

LtCol Howe was promoted and assigned from the 2nd US Cavalry, where he'd served as second in command to Col Philip St. George Cooke since 1858. The new system that is referred to is the renumbering of the regiments in August 1861. It's the "law which made promotion lineal within the regiment" part that I'm unsure about. I've found several instances of promotion across regiments prior to the Civil War, generally as lieutenants and occasionally as captains or majors. Perhaps there was a tradition or law that regimental commanders were promoted from within the regiment. Howe, for instance, had served for ten years in the 2nd as a major, prior to promotion to LtCol in 1858. I doubt this would have been practical at the beginning of the war, as some regiments (the 5th US, for example) were literally decapitated.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Muster rolls

Today's entry on Hoofbeats and Cold Steel led me to pore through William F. Fox's Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, which in turn led me to a chapter on muster rolls, which led me to think about how to acquire them for the Regular cavalry regiments during the war.

An email and a couple of phone calls from a very helpful lady at the national Archives later, I learned the following:
1. Muster rolls for all six Regular cavalry regiments are contained in the Archives and are available.
2. They are only available on microfilm, as once records are put on microfilm they're no longer available for paper copies. Once you have the roll, you can take it to the local public or college library to make hardcopies.
3. There are separate rolls on each regiment by date. In order to cover the entire Civil War, the 1st and 6th US Cavalry are each on one roll, while the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th US Cavalry's records are on two rolls per regiment (8 total).
4. Price per roll is $65 each.
5. The rolls aren't scheduled for digitization any time soon.

Hmm, this could take a while and be a pretty expensive venture....

Monday, February 19, 2007

Manning the Regulars, Part II

Officer manning within the Regular regiments started the war below full strength and never recovered. At the beginning of 1861 the Regular Army had only 16,367 of its authorized strength of 18,093 officers and men, and there had been no increase in strength since 1855 (Sawicki, Cavalry Regiments of the U.S. Army, pg 46). These numbers quickly dwindled as southern born (and some northern born) officers resigned their commissions and left the army.

As mentioned previously, four of the five commanders of the mounted regiments resigned. Many are aware that the one who did not, Philip St. George Cooke of the 2nd Dragoons, was a Virginian. The other officer ranks fared little better. Of the officers assigned to the 2nd Dragoons on January 1, 1861, 1 of 2 majors resigned, 6 of 12 captains resigned and 2 more retired. Seven of the twelve first lieutenants resigned or deserted. One of these, Francis N.C. Armstrong, resigned after leading his Company K for the Union during the first battle of Bull Run (Rodenbough, From Everglade to Canyon, pg 462). Those who remained were promoted and distributed among all five regiments.

Unlike the seemingly limitless number of volunteer regiments organized during the war, there were a finite number of Regular regiments, and officer billets within them. Total numbers included six colonels, six lieutenant colonels, eighteen majors, and 72 captains. Officers were commissioned and assigned against a specific billet in a specific regiment. These were the only billets authorized by Congress, and there were not any spares. Assignments outside the regiments for such things as instructors at the Cavalry School at Carlisle Barracks or aides de camp to general officers were taken out of hide from the regiments. If you were the regimental commander and one of your captains was teaching at West Point, for example, you did without a captain and a first lieutenant commanded one of your companies. Once assigned to a regiment as a second lieutenant, one remained a second lieutenant until a billet was vacated by one of the first lieutenants, via promotion, resignation, or death. It was possible, however, to be promoted to another regiment.

Even promotions worked against the strength of the Regulars, due to the promotion system of the Regular Army. During the course of the war, it was not uncommon for regular officers to take leaves of absence to lead volunteer units. These officers did not resign, and continued to count against the assigned strength of the regiment. Alfred Pleasonton, for example, occupied a major’s billet in the 2nd for the entire Civil War, even while commanding the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac. At the end of the war, Wesley Merritt was likewise still assigned to the regiment, one of five major generals of volunteers on the rolls (Rodenbough, 371).

Senior officers within the regiments were rarely present with them. Thomas J. Wood, who succeeded Cooke in command of the 2nd when he was promoted to Brigadier General in November 1861, was commanding a brigade and then a division in the Tennessee and Mississippi campaigns. He remained in the western theater throughout the war, and never served with the regiment that he nominally commanded (Rodenbough, pg 438). This is one of the reasons that captains are usually noted as leading Regular regiments in reports in the Official Records and elsewhere. Indeed, this problem did not go away after the war. Regimental returns from November 1, 1866 show seven generals of volunteers assigned to the 2nd Cavalry, with a captain actually present commanding the unit and lieutenants commanding seven of the twelve companies (Rodenbough, pg 371).

New officers did join the regiments as the war progressed. Eleven new lieutenants joined the 2nd in 1861, four of them newly commissioned West Point graduates. Never, however, were they at a full complement of officers. The only possible exception to this might be the 6th US Cavalry, since it formed in the summer of 1861. Given the very active service of this regiment throughout the war, however, it is doubtful that they stayed at strength for long.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Manning the Regulars, Part I

One of the most serious issues facing the Regular cavalry regiments throughout the war was their numerical strength, both of horses and personnel. The Regulars were chronically short of both officers and enlisted men throughout the war, though generally due to different factors. The next several entries will focus on why personnel strength was such an issue. The 2nd Dragoons/2nd US Cavalry will be used for examples. While I plan to focus this project on all six of the regiments, the 2nd is the one that I currently have the most information on and am the most familiar with.

An additional note: for easier understanding, I will refer to the regiments by their designations following the reorganization of the regiments in August 1863.

In order to understand shortages, it is helpful to first understand what the regiments would look like at full strength. Prior to the war, each regiment was composed of ten companies. Early in the war, a company on paper consisted of 100 men and included a captain, a first lieutenant and two second lieutenants. The regiment was habitually divided into five squadrons of two companies each. A squadron consisted solely of the two companies and was assigned no additional officers assigned. It was commanded by the senior company commander. Each regiment was commanded by a colonel, and additionally contained his staff of a lieutenant colonel, three majors, two surgeons, an adjutant, quartermaster, commisary and a noncommissioned staff (sergeant major, chief bugler, etc). The 6th US was formed in 1861 with 12 companies, and the older regiments later added the two additional companies, but to keep the numbers round we'll still call it an overall strength of 1,000. Part I of this essay will focus on enlisted shortages, officer numbers will be addressed in Part II.

At the beginning of the war, most of the regiments were already understrength. Losses from resignations to join the Confederate Army, a dearth of recruiting and losses from various fights on the frontier had depleted all the regiments to some extent. Four of the five cavalry regimental commanders at the outbreak of the war resigned their commissions to fight for the South, for example (Brackett, History of the United States Cavalry, pg 211). My attempts to find information on enlisted men leaving service to join the Confederacy have thus far been unsuccessful. I suspect there were few, however, as they were bound by the terms and period of their enlistments and didn't have the luxury of resigning their commissions.

Recruiting was the major problem affecting enlisted strength, for two reasons. First, it is my understanding that there were no cavalry recruiting stations about the country where a young farmer from New York, for example, might go to enlist. To enlist in the 2nd Cavalry, one had to go find the 2nd Cavalry and sign up. General enlistments were handled by the Army as a whole, with recruits assigned as needed to units at the lowest strength. At the conclusion of the Peninsula Campaign, for example, "the regiment had not received a detachment of recruits in four years, and was now reduced to nine officers and 240 enlisted men present for duty. Other regiments were in a similar depleted condition," (Lambert, One Hundred Years With The Second Cavalry, pg 65). True, these numbers only include seven companies, as C, G, and I companies were still making their way east to rejoin the regiment. If one generously assumes all three companies were at their full complement of 100 men each, that still leaves the regiment just above 50% strength. In the case of the 2nd Cavalry, this was addressed at the conclusion of the campaign by breaking up A, B, and D companies. Their privates were divided up amongst the remaining companies present for duty, and their officers, noncommissioned officers and buglers were sent on recruiting duty (Lambert, pg 65). This leads to the second issue of recruiting incentives.

There was little incentive to join Regular units during the war save their reputation. The Federal government did not attempt to compete with the lavish bonuses offered by states to fill their volunteer regiments. Let's say a young Pennsylvania man decides to ride off to glory in the cavalry. He has two options, volunteer service or the Regulars. His first option is to join one of the regular army regiments, with a low enlistment bonus and set duration of enlistment no matter how long the war lasts. His second option is to join the company being raised in his home county, where he'll serve with his neighbors and receive up to a $150 bonus for enlisting for a period of three years or the end of the war, which ever comes first. Which is he more likely to choose?

As if this wasn't enough, current troopers' enlistments were running out over the duration of the war, providing another drain on personnel. A veteran's decision to re-enlist or join a volunteer is similar to that of our friend from Pennsylvania above, with the added consideration of a promotion in the volunteer unit due to his army experience. I haven't seen the muster rolls for all of the regiments yet, but it is doubtful they were ever at full strength. (The only likely exception would be the 6th, raised in 1861, which may explain why they seem to have seen more action than the other regiments). This leads us to our last problem of attrition through casualties.

In my example of the 2nd Cavalry from the Peninsula Campaign, casualties were not a factor. To that point, the regiment had seen very little action, and had not sustained more than a handful of casualties. As the war progressed, however, they did see a good deal of action, and lost a number of men and horses. Numbers remained low. At Brandy Station, 225 men of the 2nd were engaged, according to Merritt in Rodenbough's From Everglade to Canyon (pg 290). This is somewhat less than our optimum, especially considering 11 of 12 companies were now present. Worse, of the 225 engaged, 68 were killed or wounded, as well as 73 horses (Ibid). Major Robert Smith of the regiment recalls that following the battle of Cedar Creek in October 1864, "the Second Cavalry, now reduced to a skeleton regiment and without an officer to command it, was joined to the First Cavalry, under the command of Captain Baker" (Rodenbough, pg 366).

Friday, February 16, 2007

Cavalry Vets Revisited

I actually located the specific entry in the Official Records for my initial post on cavalry veterinary surgeons yesterday vs the National Archives entry (OR, Series III, Volume 3, pgs 605-6). Curiously, General Orders, No. 259 dated August 1, 1863 states that "Veterinary surgeons of cavalry, under the act of March 3, 1863, will be selected by the chief of the Cavalry Bureau upon the nomination of the regimental commanders." Since the Cavalry Bureau wasn't created until July 28th, how were they selected between March 3rd and August 1st?

The orders further state that the nominations were to be recommended to the regimental commander from a board of officers, wh would then nominate them to the chief of the Cavalry Bureau, who would submit them to the Secretary of War for appointment. Rather a cumbersome process, and I would assume it was primarily a rubber stamp. I can't imagine how Major General Stoneman would determine the competence of the town vet in Maine who just volunteered to assist the 1st Maine Cavalry when the previous vet died of disease.

Going Rates for Researchers?

Could anyone give me an idea of the going rate for paid researchers at the Military History Institute at Carlisle or the National Archives? I spoke with one from Carlisle yetserday, and the rates sounded reasonable, but I really don't have anything to base it on. Hourly rates were in the neighborhood of $35 the first hour, $25 after that, and $.50 a copy including shipping.

It would seem one could get a good bit of material in a pretty short period of time if you use the databases to tell your researcher very specifically what you're looking for. A specific article from the Journal of the U.S. Cavalry Association from 1891, for example, I was able to locate to the call number and number of pages. In some cases, like the volumes of monthly cavalry returns I mentioned a few days ago, for example, more digging by the researcher will be called for.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Getting Started

One of my particular joys when starting a new project is in the hunt that is researching a topic -- finding existing sources, figuring out how to find those sources, gathering material and putting the picture together, etc. While this site won't be restricted to just one topic, I'll be focusing on the Regular cavalry regiments and the Reserve Brigade initially.

While one would think this an easy search compared to other Civil War units, that isn't necessarily the case. Regimental histories for volunteer regiments from the war abound, and in many cases provide excellent looks at what campaigning was like. The Regulars don't appear to have done this. One reason is likely that their mission didn't end when the war did. Following the Civil War, they were shifted back to the west where their attention quickly turned to the Indian Wars. I've been able to locate few memoirs to date. Fortunately, officers of the Regulars appear to have generally reported frequently and in detail where I've come across them thus far in my search of the OR.

One resource I discovered that should shed a bit of light on the subject is at the National Archives. Amongst their many resources are consolidated strength returns of cavalry units from 1863 to 1865. They're arranged alphabetically by state, then regiment, so they should be user-friendly. The search results description was "this series contains a statistical summary of information relating to cavalry units, inlcuding the name of the department or corps, location, number of officers and enlisted men present and absent, number of serviceable and unserviceable horses, and kind of arms by number of carbines and pistols." It won't be of much help with anecdotes and such, but it's a start.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Finding a niche

One of the difficulties facing a researcher or amateur historian in any field is finding a niche -- someplace where they can contribute something new to the field instead of simply reviewing areas already covered by others. This is even more difficult when dealing with the Civil War, as seemingly every aspect has been covered by someone over the last 140-odd years.

The cavalry should be an easier field than most to find such a niche, as there aren't all that many books out there dealing specifically with cavalry operations during the war. But what is out there covers the area pretty well at this point. From general works such as Starr's three volumes on The Union Cavalry in the Civil War and Longacre's Lincoln's Cavalrymen and Lee's Cavalrymen to specific works on individual regiments and battles, there's a lot of great information out there.

An amusing anecdote: as an undergraduate, I mentioned to one of my professors that I wanted to cover the evolution of the Union Cavalry during the early phases of the Civil War, culminating in the Battle of Brandy Station. He assured me that there was no point in covering such an obscure field and that there would be little material and less interest in such a work. So it was with considerable amusement as well as enjoyment that I consumed Eric Wittenberg's The Union Cavalry Comes of Age once I finally found it. I didn't know how to find it, but I felt vindicated in that there was sufficient material out there.

I still feel that there is a definitive book waiting to be written on Brandy Station, as every book-length work that I've come across seems to come up a bit short. Hopefully Bud Hall will finish his work on the battle and successfully publish.

Since I've been living and working in Williamsburg the last two years, I'd thought to perhaps explore cavalry operations during the Peninisula campaign, a la The Cavalry at Gettysburg and The Cavalry at Appomattox. If the articles in Blue&Gray are any indicator, however, Robert O'Neill (the magazine's at home, I apologioze if I misspelled your last name, Robert) has this topic well in hand.

So where to start carving out my own small corner of the cavalry? I think I will start with the regiments of the Regulars of the Reserve Brigade. Particularly the 2d Cavalry, since that's been an unfinished project for far too long now. Cursory research on Google and Amazon don't show anything, so perhaps there's an opening here. Rush's Lancers is in the on-deck circle on my reading shelf. If it proves as thorough as I suspect, it may be a history of the Reserve Brigade also, and it'll be back to the drawing board. But I think there's still a story to be told about the Regular cavalry regiments. So far as I've been able to determine, only one website, U.S. Regulars Archive, focuses on the Regular regiments, and it seems to focus more on the infantry and artillery regiments than the cavalry. One reason for this might be the difficulty of using Cornell University's internet searchable version of the Official Records to find info on the Regular regiments.

Work on a timeline covering various engagements at Kelly's Ford throughout the war for the Brandy Station Foundation continues, and might finally be completed before the summer. And since JD Petruzzi mentioned he's working on a magazine article about cavalry depots, my curiosity's been piqued about the Cavalry Bureau, how it was created, and why the Confederacy didn't create something similar.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Plenty of Blame Redux

A reader kindly pointed out to me that a review of Plenty of Blame to Go Around would be much more helpful if it contained a link to where one might purchase the book if interested. After checking to make sure authors do eventually receive money for books sold on Amazon, the link is provided here.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Review - Plenty of Blame to Go Around, Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg

Although there is an amazing amount of published research and knowledge about the Civil War, surprisingly little of it focuses on the activities of the cavalry of each side. Very few book-length works focus on it. On the other hand, many are the books written about the Gettysburg campaign. Each year the battle seems to loom larger in the realm of Civil War lore.

In Plenty of Blame to Go Around, authors Eric Wittenberg and JD Petruzzi address one of the more controversial and surprisingly under-published aspects of the battle --- where was JEB Stuart during the first two days of the battle? Why was he missing when Lee needed him most? Whose fault was it that he wasn't there? These questions have never received the detailed attention that they deserve until now.Most authors spend a paragraph or two on Stuart's absence, simply dismissing it as grandstanding on Stuart's part. Petruzzi and Wittenberg walk the reader through the events as they unfold, and it becomes clear that his absence was the culmination of several events and decisions by Stuart and others. It's not difficult to determine the authors' opinion on where the blame lies from the title of the work, but they do an amazing job of laying out all of the available information for the reader to make his or her own decision. Indeed, they spend three chapters evenhandedly discussing the controversy from July 1863 until today before presenting their conclusions. This book would be worth the purchase price simply for this discussion.

This is a wonderful book. Historical research is supposed to add to the body of knowledge on a given subject, and this book certainly does so. It is incredibly well researched and documented. The bibliography is fifteen pages long, and eight of those list of primary sources. Many of these primary sources are published for the first time in this work. Footnotes are meticulously annotated and there are many of them. As with all of Wittenberg's works, maps are plentiful and clearly enhance the reader's understanding of the text. The text itself is nicely paced and very easy to follow. Both authors are well-respected authorities on Civil War cavalry, and this is clearly evident throughout the book.

For those interested in further studies on Civil war cavalry, I highly recommend Mr Wittenberg's other works. The detailed research and thought put into this book are typical of his writing. He and Mr Petruzzi obviously have a good rapport, as it's impossible for the reader to tell that two people wrote the book. Hopefully we'll be seeing more work from both them in the future.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Cavalry Veterinary Surgeons during the Civil War

I discovered this while on the National Archives website earlier today. It was something that I hadn't been aware of:

"By War Department General Order Number 259 of August 1, 1863, veterinary surgeons of cavalry, under a congressional act of March 3, 1863, were to be selected by the Chief of the Cavalry Bureau upon the nomination of the regimental commanders. The names of candidates so recommended and nominated to the Chief of the Bureau of Cavalry were then to be submitted to the Secretary of War for appointment."