Thursday, December 17, 2009

Review: Shenandoah Summer

Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign, by Scott Patchan

University of Nebraska Press, 2009, paperback,408 pages

In Shenandoah Summer, author Scott Patchan provides the definitive examination of the Civil war actions in the Shenandoah Valley during the summer of 1864. While few works on the war to date provide even a chapter on the campaign, Mr. Patchan reveals a wealth of information and detail that is a delight to read.

Despite the title, I will admit that I purchased the book assuming that it would discuss Sheridan’s campaign in the Valley. In this I was very pleasantly surprised. Instead of Sheridan’s campaign, I was treated to a thorough examination of a campaign that I had previously known very little about. The majority of this book concerns the actions between Early’s raid on Washington and Sheridan’s Valley campaign of the fall. Instead of reading of the success of Sheridan’s campaign, the reader learns the reasons why Sheridan’s campaign had to take place.

Patchan skillfully blends the results of meticulous research with a vivid, readable writing style. His exhaustive research through previously unpublished works produces the detail readers hope for in this sort of book but all too seldom receive. His descriptions of individual actions and combat at the regimental level bring the action to life for the reader.

Despite the detail of his narrative, Patchan does a remarkable job of keeping the reader aware of the larger context within which the campaign takes place. Concurrent campaigns and elections had serious ramifications for actions in the Valley that summer. The difference in approach from the high commands on both sides I found particularly interesting. On the Confederate side, Lee seemed to support early as much as he could. On the Federal side, however, the “help” seemed to be in the form of pressure to make something happen instead of providing resources and assistance.

Early’s series of defeats in the Valley ultimately led to his dismissal, but Mr. Patchan depicts Early as a wily, opportunistic adversary who takes advantage of forces greatly outnumbering his own. He also objectively lays out the major difficulties facing his Union opponents, most notably division of responsibility and unity of command.

As is often the case with campaign studies, it would help if this book had a few more maps. A map of the retreat from Washington in particular would make the narration more understandable. There are a number of excellent maps and diagrams in the work, however, which greatly help readers follow the various maneuvering and battles of the campaign. Clearly Mr. Patchan has walked this ground and has an appreciation for terrain.

Overall, I found this book enjoyable and very enlightening on a previously obscure topic. Thorough research and clear prose make this a work any student of the Civil War will appreciate.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming

Home network issues have been resolved, computer issues have been fixed or replaced, the semester's over, and the office has been moved, so hopefully things are finally getting back to normal here as well as elsewhere in my life. Keep your fingers crossed and don't pull me off the blogroll just yet.

Review: Cavalryman of the Lost Cause

In Cavalryman of the Lost Cause, historian Jeffry Wert provides the first meaningful biography of James Ewell Brown Stuart in decades. While I have enjoyed previous biographies of Stuart, particularly those of Burke Davis and Emory Thomas, I think Wert’s book outshines them both. Combining a crisp, clear writing style with in-depth research into manuscript collections and other previously unpublished sources, Wert delivers a winner.

Wert’s treatment of Stuart is refreshingly objective, and I found the book an enjoyable read. Neither scathing nor fawning, the book covers his entire life, and not simply the Civil War period. Nor did this biography focus on the controversial two weeks of the Gettysburg campaign to the detriment of the rest of Stuart’s life. Wert’s well documented biography provides all of the references that could be asked for from anyone desiring to dig deeper into the cavalryman’s life.

The biography focuses on more than the military facet of Stuart’s life, and the author explores the complexities of Stuart’s personality. Relationships with both peers and subordinates are examined in a balanced manner, as is his affinity for publicity. He was a shameless self-promoter, but the same could be said of many leaders of this period. His look at relationships with his wife and lady friends are tastefully and tactfully conducted. The author portrays Stuart as a thoroughly professional and deeply religious man.

The only part of this book that could be improved is the period of his U.S. Army service during the years leading up to the Civil War, and this is admittedly a very difficult period to find references for.

I highly recommend this book. It deserves a place in the library of anyone interested in the Civil War, its leaders, or cavalry operations.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Horses of a Color

I've posted before about units attempting to have horses of the same color before and during their service in the Civil War. I came across the following passage in the war memoirs of Captain Isaac Dunkelberger of the 1st U.S. Cavalry concerning the fall of 1863:

"In October we (ed: the Reserve Brigade) were ordered to join the Cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac. On the 20th of October I was detailed to report to General Meade with my squadron of cavalry.

"I was put on duty of commanding the escort of General Meade. This gave me an ellegant (sic) opportunity to dicipline (sic) and equip my company in a manner that is seldom accomplished in cavalry organizations in time of War. My horses (about two hundred) were all of a size and jet black. They were fed and groomed to perfection."

It's good to be on headquarters duty, I guess. At this same time period in the Army of the Cumberland, units were being mounted on mules...

Monday, November 2, 2009

No more research for hire at USAHEC?

Author disclaimer: This is not a rant and should not be taken as one. I simply learned of this privately recently and wanted to get the information out there for others like me who might be affected by it. If anyone knows more on this topic, I would love to hear about it.

I received some rather disturbing news recently concerning researchers for hire at USAHEC in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (formerly known as USAMHI). I had used a researcher for work there in the past, but was informed that person no longer conducts research for hire there. At one time, there was a webpage as part of the USAMHI site that listed outside researchers for hire for those who couldn't visit to conduct their research in person. Much to my chagrin, I couldn't find the page. Since I periodically have similar issues, I assumed I had done something wrong and contacted my former researcher again.

I was informed that new people were in charge at the center, and had determined that the researcher for hire listing provided too much personal information. A lot of military websites have reached this determination, and a good bit of web content has been removed as a result. Lists are not permitted to be sent out by mail or email for the same reason. Understandable.

The new regime also changed the rules for accessing the collections for outside researchers, possibly as the result of someone violating the rules. The system is now one of "pay as you go" for researchers, even for copies, so if one could find a researcher, that person would have to pay all costs up front at the time they accessed the information. If someone violated previously authorized privileges, then it is certainly understandable that these restrictions be tightened.

The results of said tightening, however, are now somewhat problematic. Assuming one doesn't live within convenient travelling distance of Carlisle, how does one access the information? If you can't go yourself, and what you need isn't available online, and there is no way to find a researcher for hire, what options are left?

One can make a research query online, and it will be addressed as time permits by the staff, generally with a wait of several weeks. This can be very limiting if one is in search of a large amount of research, however, since such queries need to be both specific and brief to enable busy employees to answer them.

I fear I've raised a problem without posing a solution in this case, as the only options I see at the moment are dividing research into many specific pieces and spreading over a several months or flying to Carlisle. This would be extremely enjoyable and something I hope to do someday, but really don't have the time for right now.

Ah well, if research was too easy everyone would do it, right?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Battle of Chickamauga blog

Among the many neglected items of this blog is the blogroll, which I will endeavor to have cleaned up by the weekend. One of the links I erroneously thought had been posted is Dave Powell's excellent, Battle of Chickamauga blog. Dave is the expert on this battle, and is doing a great job with the blog. I'm looking forward to a great deal of education and enjoyment from this one.

Time Flies

Wow! I had no idea it had been nearly three weeks since my last post. I will refrain from making any comments about being back in the saddle, since the post of the same name is still drawing daily comments from some Asian-language porn site.

I'm back, and finally willing and able to post again. The master's degree is at long last complete, papers and classes complete, and attention can be turned to family and more enjoyable things than school. I still hope to complete a second master's in history, but plan to take a few months in the interim to relax a bit.

My efforts to elicit commentary from anyone from or related to Norwich have been unsuccessful, so I suppose AMU wins that discussion by default....

Book draft two finally continues updates and editing. Several new sources popped up in the interim thanks to Dr. Rick Sauers, so more research is required. And I'm still working on a few things like the rest of the brief 3rd Cavalry history started before everything went awry a few months back. I've also been poking around a bit about Benjamin S. Roberts and William P. Sanders, and should have posts on them here in the near future. Not to mention the Kelly's Ford blog I've so neglected in the interim.

I haven't had a great deal of time for leisure reading, but am in the midst of two interesting books related to the war. The first is Jeffry Wert's excellent Cavalryman of the Lost Cause (found on Amazon here), which will likely prove the definitive biography on Jeb Stuart for years to come. Indeed, it was an anecdote from this book that lead me back to studying Sanders. The second book is The War Department in 1861 - A Study in Mobilization and Administration by A. Howard Meneely. A reprint of a book originally published in 1928, this has been a very informative work. Meneely provides a very even-handed look at the War Department at the beginning of the war, maintaining an objective view of the people and the situation without jumping to conclusions to demonize or seek scapegoats.

More posts soon!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Any Norwich MMH students or alumni out there?

The discussion I started here a while back about graduate degrees in military history has resulted in a good bit of discussion over time. Several valid points and concerns have been raised, but the input has been very one-sided. American Military University students and alumni appear to be very content with their programs, while there has been litle to no input from either current students or slumni of the Norwich program. I would greatly prefer to have inputs from both sides, is there anyone out there willing to speak up?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fiddler's Green: William W. Loring

I generally don't feature Confederate cavalry leaders, but in this individual's case, he relates to the current thread of posts on the Regiment of Mounted Rifles/ 3rd U.S. Cavalry and had a very colorful career, so I decided to make an exception.

William Wing Loring was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on December 4, 1818. The family moved to St Augustine, Florida when he was four, and he spent the rest of his childhood in that state.

His military service started at the tender age of fourteen, when he enlisted in the Florida militia to fight against the Seminole Indians at the beginning of the Seminole Wars. He eventually rose to the rank of second lieutenant in the militia. He attempted to run away to fight in the Texas War for Independence as a seventeen year old, but was prevented by his father.

After attending a boarding school in Alexandria, Virginia for his secondary education, William attended Georgetown University before going on to study law. He was admitted to the Florida bar in 1842. He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1843, and unsuccessfully ran for the Florida Senate in 1845.

The outbreak of the Mexican War rejuvenated Loring's fortunes. He joined a newly formed regiment, the Regiment of Mounted Rifles, as a captain, receiving his appointment on May 27, 1846. Originally organized to protect the Oregon Territory, the regiment was diverted for service in the Mexican War. Loring's prior military service apparently served him well, as he was promoted to major on February 16, 1847, prior to the regiment seeing its first combat. His regiment fought in most of the battles of the war, and Major Loring was wounded three times. His third wound came at the head of his regiment leading the charge into Mexico City, and resulted in the amputation of his arm. He was brevetted lieutenant colonel on August 20, 1847 for gallant and meritorious service in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, and colonel on September 13, 1847 for similar service at the battle of Chapultepec.

After the war, Loring commanded the Oregon territory for two years during the California Gold Rush. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on March 15, 1848. His next assignment was to the frontier of Texas and New Mexico Territory, where he served for five years against the Comanche, Apache and Kiowa Indians. At the time he was promoted to colonel on December 30, 1856 at age 38, he was the youngest full colonel in the Army.

In 1859, Colonel Loring was sent to Europe to study the military tactics of foreign armies and lessons learned from the Crimean War. He visited 10 different countries, including Turkey and Egypt.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Loring decided his loyalties lay with the South. He resigned his commission on May 13, 1861, and volunteered for service in the Confederate Army. He was commissioned as a brigadier general almost immediately and assigned to command the "Army of the Northwest" in western Virginia. His first campaign was against Major General George McClellan's forces invading from Ohio. After this campaign, General Loring and his men served in the western theater of the war. During the Vicksburg campaign, his forces were cut off from the rest of the Confederate army at the battle of Champion Hill. He marched south and joined his troops to the forces under General Joseph E. Johnston. He served in the corps of General Leonidas Polk afterwards, and commanded the corps briefly after Polk was killed at the battle of Pine Mountain. Wounded a fourth time during fighting at Ezra Church, General Loring did not return to action until after the Atlanta campaign. Upon his return, he fought first with General Hood at Franklin and Nashville, then joined Johnston's forces in the Carolinas.

After the war, Loring tried his fortunes overseas. He was one of fifty Civil war veterans recommended by General Sherman to the Khedive of Egypt to modernize his army. General Loring initially served as the army's Inspector General, and later commanded the country's coastal defenses. In 1875, he served as the chief of staff for an Egyptian pasha during an invasion of Abyssinia. When the invasion failed, the Americans were blamed for the failure. The American officers were dismissed in 1878, but not before Loring had attained the rank of Fereek Pasha, the equivalent of Major General in the U.S. Army.

Returning to the United States, Loring ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate from Florida. After his defeat he moved to New York City, where he wrote a book on his experiences in Egypt which was published in 1884.

William W. Loring died on December 30, 1886, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, St. Augustine, Florida

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Short Takes

Some weeks are longer than others, apparently, as it's been rather more than 7 days since my last post. At any rate....

Thank you very much to those who sent their condolences here and elsewhere on the passing of my mother. I took your thoughts and prayers to heart during this difficult time. There are a lot of great folks in the blogosphere, and it shows during difficult times.

What I'm reading: 1861: A Study in Unpreparedness (or something similar, I don't have it in front of me). Very interesting, though I haven't had much time to devote to it.

You wouldn't think there would be a Civil War link to a small town in the far northwest of California, but I managed. Camp Lincoln was established on June 13, 1862 near Crescent City, California by Company G, 2nd Regiment, California Volunteers. It wasn't intended to defend against Confederates, of course, but was established to protect settlers from Indians because all of the regulars had been sent east to fight in the Civil War. It was abandoned in 1869.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

No Posts for a Week

Found out last night that my mother passed unexpectedly, and am on the way home to rural northern California to sort things out. There will be no new posts here for at least a week.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Chickamauga Blog

Chickamauga expert Dave Powell has entered the blogosphere with this site dedicated to chronicling one of the most significant battles of the Western theater of the war. His blog can be found in the blog listings at the left as well as right here. Welcome to the blogosphere, Dave, I'm really looking forward to reading more!

3rd U.S. Cavalry in the Civil War - 1861

The Civil War history of the 3rd U.S. Cavalry regiment is largely unknown and unremarked. They were on the periphery of the conflict at its outbreak, and herculean efforts were involved simply to get them to the scene of large scale fighting by the end of 1862. Arguably, however, they had the most rigorous experience of any of the regular cavalry regiments during the war.

As with most Regular units, the Regiment of Mounted Rifles was caught off guard at the outbreak of the Civil War. Home to many seasoned veterans, the regiment had served on the frontier since the end of the Mexican War. Early 1861 found the regiment spread across New Mexico territory and portions of western Texas. They were renamed the 3rd U.S. Cavalry on August 3, 1861.

The regiment lost its commander prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Colonel William Wing Loring was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, and appointed to the Army from Florida. He was one of the original officers appointed to the regiment as a captain when it was created in 1846. He was wounded three times during the Mexican War, receiving two brevet promotions during the war and losing an arm to amputation. Despite the loss, he worked his way to command of the regiment. When promoted to colonel of the regiment on December 30, 1856 at the age of 38, he was the youngest colonel in the Army. He resigned his commission on May 13, 1861. In a conference in New Mexico prior to departing the regiment, he told his officers, “The South is my home, and I am going to throw up my commission and shall join the Southern Army, and each of you can do as you think best.”

Colonel Loring was succeeded by John S. Simonson. Simonson had also been appointed a captain when the regiment was formed in 1846, but his first service had come as a sergeant in the New York militia thirty years previously in 1814. He distinguished himself during fighting at Chapultepec during the Mexican War, but was far too old for active campaigning in the Civil War. He retired at his won request on September 28, 1861 “for incapacity resulting from long and faithful service, and from injuries and exposure in the line of duty.”

Newly promoted Lieutenant Colonel Marshall S. Howe of the 5th U.S. Cavalry was promoted to Colonel and command of the 3rd Cavalry, but he didn’t join the regiment until the following July. In the meantime, the regiment fought in numerous engagements during 1861.

First Lieutenant Christopher H. McNally led detachments of Companies B and F the regiment’s first engagement of the war. Another veteran, McNally worked his way through the ranks to first sergeant of Company D before his appointment to second lieutenant in 1855. He was promoted to first lieutenant in May 1861. This first fight against the Confederates didn’t go well for the mounted riflemen. In a fight at Mesilla, Texas on July 25, 1861, Lt McNally was wounded, and the squadron suffered “considerable loss.” They retreated to nearby Fort Fillmore.

Upon receiving word of the defeat, Major Lynde, the district commander, directed the abandonment of Fort Fillmore on July 26th. The following day he surrendered his entire command without warning at San Augustin Springs. Among the unwilling prisoners, were Lieutenants McNally and Alfred Gibbs and 88 men of Companies B, F and I. Soon receiving paroles, all of the regiment’s prisoners were assigned to Company F and sent to Fort Wayne, Michigan until they could be exchanged. By the time their exchange took place on August 27, 1862, their numbers had dwindled down to nearly nothing from discharge, desertion and death.

In the meantime, the remainder of the depleted regiment prepared for combat. Two new companies were authorized for the regiment in August 1861, but were not recruited. Of the 263 enlistments that expired during the year, only 61 soldiers re-enlisted. So few officers and troopers remained that Companies A, B, and H were “closed,” and the personnel reassigned to other companies. The regiment was now a reinforced battalion of Companies C, D, E, G, K and I, commanded by Major Benjamin S. Roberts.

A native of Vermont, Benjamin Roberts graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1835. He served as a lieutenant with the 1st Dragoons until 1839, when he resigned. Another original officer of the Mounted Rifles, he was appointed as a first lieutenant in 1846. Brevetted for gallant and meritorious conduct on three separate occasions during the Mexican War, he had been serving on the frontier with the regiment since the end of the war.

In September 1861, Captain Robert M. Morris defeated a force of Texans neat Fort Thorn with Companies C, G and K. Company E, consolidated from the squadron of E and H, reached Fort Wise, Colorado Territory on August 30th, following the departure of the last two companies of the 4th U.S. Cavalry. Captain Alexander McRae’s Company I was drilling as a light battery of artillery to utilize the few available artillery pieces in the district.

The regiment spent the remainder of the year in patrolling and preparing for future operations. According to its annual return, regimental strength on December 31st was only 453 enlisted men, optimistically counting the paroled prisoners in Michigan as "detached service."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Review: The Complete Gettysburg Guide

The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest, by J. David Petruzzi and Steven Stanley. Savas Beatie Publishing, 306 pages, with maps, photographs and bibliography. $39.95.

I am generally skeptical of any work that claims the title of “complete guide.” In this case, however, I believe the title is well deserved. J.D. Petruzzi and Steven Stanley have combined to produce a work that may have redefined the standard for battlefield guides. After reading it cover to cover in two sittings and perusing it for several hours, I cannot think of an aspect of the battle that is not addressed in this guide.

This should be the one book carried by any visitor to the battlefield. Every aspect of the battle is addressed, and there is quite literally something for everyone inside its cover. Kids tired of looking at signs and cannons and statues? Turn them loose to look for the rock carvings detailed in a separate section of the book. Spouse tired of staring into empty fields trying to visualize historic charges and stands? Refer them to the detailed tour of the town itself.

This is a superior tour guide for several reasons. First, precise driving instructions that include warnings about traffic, parking areas and private property. Second, excellent color photos and maps that make it very easy for even a novice traveler to remain oriented on the battlefield. The maps provide much more detail than the black and white sort I am accustomed to seeing in battlefield guides. Third, it provides depth lacking in most guide books, with a wealth of human interest stories and other interesting tidbits. Finally, it provides the most comprehensive look at the battlefield and surrounding area that I have ever seen.

J.D. Petruzzi’s narrative is both readable and very informative. A wealth of detail is contained in the book, but it is packaged in such a manner that is not at all cumbersome to the reader. He uses many sidebars to highlight human interest stories from the battle to broaden the appeal of the book. For those who want to dig deeper into a given area, there are suggested sources for additional reading at the end of each section.

The maps are tremendous. Steven Stanley proves his justly deserved reputation as a Civil War mapmaking master, with maps that are clear and easy to use. Some of the maps portray skirmishes that I had never seen mapped before. The photos he has selected show the park during all seasons, illustrating how different the park appears at different times of the year.

The book is divided into several sections. The heart of the book is of course the 110 pages organized into 30 stops that cover the main battlefield. The other nearly 200 pages focus on outlying battlefields, the town itself, the cemeteries, field hospital sites, and even a section on rock carvings. Each section could stand nearly on its own as a separate book. My favorite section was the article on Fairfield, with the first maps of the skirmish I had ever seen. A close second was the rock carving section, which was organized to provide a ready made game of ‘find-it.’

The book is attractive enough for service as a coffee table book. Somewhat jaded after scores of ‘exciting’ (for me) new Civil War purchases, the first thing my wife said when I removed it from the package was, “What a beautiful book!” Savas Beatie has once again produced a very high quality (and adequately mapped!) book at a reasonable price. Nearly every one of the 300+ pages has a map, picture or sidebar, and often a combination of the three. Good binding and quality paper ensure this book will endure many visits to the park. The result is a work in which both the authors and the publisher should take a tremendous amount of pride.

The Complete Gettysburg Guide is a comprehensive volume on the battle. It is equally valuable as a historical overview of the battle, a tour guide, or a coffee table picture book. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the battle, from the first visit tourist to the experienced battlefield stomper.

Yes, yes, I know, less reading and more writing.....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

I'm back, with the joys and miseries of Washington state happily in my rearview mirror. Give me a day or two to sort through various accumulated honey-dos and how to get the ADC's first pony ride off the phone and onto another digital medium, and I'll be back to posting at the normal rate. Despite the lack of posts, Civil War cavalry research has been ongoing and progress continues to be made. More soon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Brief Hiatus

Not that I've been posting more than once or twice a week anyway, but I have just been informed that I will be making an unscheduled trip starting this weekend and ending in late July that will leave me without internet access. Expect no further posts here until July 22nd.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Brandy Station letter

In honor of the 146th anniversary of the Battle of Brandy Station, I decided to post this little known letter from one of the Regular participants. Lieutenant Christian Balder of the 6th U.S. Cavalry fought with the Reserve Brigade on the Beverly Ford side of the battle. After reading the letter several times, I still don’t know why he’s so upset with the 6th Pennsylvania cavalry, save perhaps that they received more honors in the newspapers. Lieutenant Balder would be killed just a few weeks later on July 3rd, at the battle of Fairfield, where his friend Lieutenant Paulding was captured.

Camp 6th Cavalry Near Catletts Station, Va.
June 12th, 1863

My dear Paulding

As I have today a few moments to spare, I will drop you a few lines. You have undoubtedly read in the Chronicle of yesterday the account of our fight with the rebs. Don’t believe the half of it. I for one will never believe newspaper accounts for they are all stating falsehoods either directly or indirectly. It appears from the Chronicle that the 6th Pa. supported by the 6th Regulars done all the hard licks, when the Pa.s “god save mark” ran like sheep.

I will try to give you an account of as much as came under my observation. Col. Davis’s Brig. went over the river first. They had little difficulty in crossing, because the rebs were a little surprised and did not expect us. Davis drove them slowly but poor fellow, he was nearly one of the first who were killed. The rebs contested every inch of ground manfully, and the fight grew beautifully larger & larger. The Reserve Brig. And Elders Battery had a position in an open field with thick heavy woods to our front and left, and being subjected to a heavy fire from a hill to our right and front. That hill should have been occupied by us, and we could have gotten it very early in the day but “somebody” thought it was of no consequence. We remained in this field till after 12. Elders Battery fireing but little. In coming from water with Co. F. Priv. Viall had the top of his head carried away by a round shot from a battery on the hill above alluded to. He died instantly. Finally we were ordered to advance through the woods to our front. Brisbine & Claflin’s Squadron having been sent to some other point we had only four squadrons remaining. The 2d. Cav. took the lead, then followed the 6th Pa. then our Regt. I being Off. Of Day brought up the rear with 15 men of the guard. The 1st Cav. Did not cross the river till late in the afternoon. The 5th was on some other part of the field. We advanced through the woods in column of squadrons. When I got half ways through the woods. I heard cheering & shouting as if the infernals had broke loose from the lower regions. Now, thinks I, my bravy Mackerals are giving it to the rebs. On emerging from the woods I saw about one Regt. Of Cav. I thought they were our men, for they were dressed the same. They soon thought me different, however, when they commenced firing at me and my brave Mackerals, and then they made several attempts to but did not do it. I looked in vain for the 2d, 6th Pa. and ours, but they had commenced a hurried advance towards Washington. The 6th Pa. had indeed made a charge, so I heard but a great many jumped into a ditch, got stuck and were taken prisoners. Why the 2d & 6th Regulars run is impossible for me to say, and I think it is a great shame. On my retreating in the woods I seen cavalries without hats, scratched noses, and the axes of our pioneers bumping against their backs like forty. The rebs were shelling the woods all the time and Madden was wounded by a shell, not dangerous, and he is now in Washington doing well. Kerin was taken prisoner. On arriving again in our first field, I found the 6th had partially rallied and I went to my squadron. What little accidents occurred from then to about 2 O’clock is not worth mentioning. We were continually skirmishing and having little charges repeatedly with more or less success. The rebs fought bravely. At one place the 2d had about 1 good squadron charging a host of rebs, driven them for a while and then the rebs driving them. Brisbine having by this time joined, he and Wade tried them with their squadrons, but with little better success. I and Ward went in next, drove the rebs from the place, then they drove us back. We rallied drove them again to near the edge of a wood, they firing a shower of bullets at us and we at them, being only about 30 yards apart. My mare was hit through her hind leg, but not hurt her much. My blood got up. I wanted my squadron to charge with me. Ward & Tupper done the same, but could not get those cowboys to come on. They all fight very well with the carbine & Pistol, but have no confidence in the sabre. I was in front of the squadron, waving my sabre, and entreating and cursing them alternately, trying to get them on, when all of a sudden, a rebel officer came dashing at me, at full speed, making a tremendous right cut at me, but fortunately, I just perceived him in the nick of time. I parried his cut successfully and striking his sabre clean out of his hand. He fled by me, and one of my men shot him through the heart. We stood fully 15 or 20 minutes opposite each other, the rebs afraid to charge, and only firing at us. I then seen about a regiment of rebs coming through a field on our right and I thought it time to retire. But poor Ward had been killed. He worked like a Trojan to get his men to go in with the sabre, but could not succeed. About half an hour after that Stoll was killed while skirmishing with a part of that Regt. I had seen coming on my right. So you see we lost about 1/3 of our officers in killed, wounded & missing. Out of about 280 men, we lost about 50. I never gave the rebs so much credit before, but I must now say, they go in with a will. Is it not strange now that the papers never say anything about the 2d and 6th who fought fine in the afternoon, no matter, what they done in the morning. Their list of killed & wounded speak for themselves.

My Dear Paulding, I must now stop. Write to me soon. My love to Nichols.

Yours truly


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fiddler’s Green: John Savage

Another of the lesser known officers of the 6th U.S. Cavalry was Captain John Savage of Company H. He is yet another cavalry officer native to Philadelphia, a city that spawned many prominent cavalry leaders during the Civil War. He remains a mystery in many ways. While many “wants” have been found, there are precious few “whys.” Thanks to Jim Jones for permitting me to edit this and post it here.

John Savage, III came from a very prominent Savage family line who settled in Philadelphia during the late 18th century. His great grandfather was Edward Savage, who became a famous painter and engraver. He painted the first panorama in Philadelphia, The Congress Voting Independence, and many other political and historical paintings. His grandfather, John Savage, was a shipowner and through his trades became a very wealthy merchant. He settled in Philadelphia, and was very active in his community, including service as a chief justice and a manager of the Almshouse.

John Savage, III was born in 1832 in Washington County, Maryland. His father, John Savage, II of Philadelphia and his mother , Adelaide H. Hughes of Maryland, were married in Washington County, Maryland on December 30, 1830. According to census records, by 1850 the family had moved to Philadelphia, along with nine other person sin the household. Savage’s father died in 1853, leaving his entire estate to his son, minus an annuity for his wife.

John, III married Isabella Swift Fitzhugh of New York in 1855. Isabella was the daughter of Dr. Daniel Hughes Fitzhugh, who was a surgeon in the fleet of Commodore Perry at the battle of Lake Erie, and also a pioneer of Bay City, Michigan. Prior to the Civil War, the couple had two children: John Savage, IV in 1857 and Anne Dana Savage in 1859. In 1860, his mother Adelaide was living with him along with eight other persons, who held such job titles such as domestic, waiter, and coachman. John’s occupation was listed as “Gentleman,” and his total estate value was $250,000 dollars! (a hefty sum by 1860 standards).

At the outbreak of the Civil War, John secured himself a commission as a captain in the newly forming 3rd U.S. Cavalry Regiment (later to be renumbered the 6th) on May 14, 1861. He immediately began recruiting for his Company H at the Girard House on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. He quickly obtained his quota of men, and, therefore, was also the first company to reach the regiment’s second camp at Bladensburg, Maryland. At Bladensburg, he was officially assigned to and took command of his company on August 21, 1861. As the first two companies to complete recruiting, his company, along with Captain August V. Kautz’ Company B, was denoted the 1st Squadron. They were also selected as the flank squadron, which was the only squadron in the regiment initially equipped with carbines and acted as the advance squadron during regimental movements. The remaining squadrons were armed only with pistols and sabers.

Captain Savage trained with his regiment through the winter of 1861 at Camp East of Capitol, D.C., near the Congressional Cemetery. He accompanied the regiment upon its initial campaign in March 1862, and served uninterrupted until July 21, 1862, when he took five days of leave. His company, under the squadron command of Captain Kautz, literally led the advance of the Army of the Potomac on its advance from Yorktown toward Richmond as the advance squadron the army’s advance guard. After his return from leave, he served during the remainder of the Peninsula Campaign. On September 9, 1862, as the regiment departed the peninsula, he took sick leave. In October and November, he was listed as “supposed to be in Philadelphia,” and in December, he was listed as “absent without leave since October 10, 1862”on the regimental returns. What the regiment was unaware of was that Captain John Savage resigned on December 23, 1862. The reason for his resignation is a mystery, as he doesn’t appear to have distinguished himself in an overly positive or negative fashion during the campaign. A third child, Daniel Fitzhugh Savage, was born to the family at some point during his service. Perhaps he simply didn’t care for the rigors of active campaigning in the cavalry. The regiment didn’t learn of his resignation until February 1863, while at winter camp. His name doesn’t appear again in records during the war. His mother released her claim to her annuity to John in December 1863.

In 1868, John sold his inherited estate. By June 10, 1870, according to census records, the family moved to Bay City, Michigan – the city her father helped create – and settled at 412 North Jackson Street. John was listed as “without occupation,” and a net worth of $11,000, which if not invested in property likely did not reflect the money from the sale of his estate. A fourth child, Adelaide Hughes Savage, was born in 1867, perhaps named after his mother.

By June 1880, John and his family, along with his mother were living together. His youngest daughter, Anne, died on January 5, 1879. John also employed one elderly servant lady. John was listed as “retired.”
In 1890, John was living at 908 North Jackson Street and employed as the county register. He is listed on the Veteran’s Schedule of Bay City as a captain in the 6th U.S. Cavalry. Interestingly, it listed him as having been captain of company B, and having served a full three years, from May 24, 1861 to May 24, 1864.

John, III died in Bay City, Michigan on April 18, 1896. His wife died in the same city seven years later, on October 27, 1903. John Savage, John II and his wife Adelaide, John III and his wife Isabella, and their daughter Anne Dana Savage, were all buried at Ronaldson’s Philadelphia Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This cemetery was removed in the 1920s to Forrest Hills, 101 Byberry Road, Philadelphia, and denoted the Philadelphia Cemetery.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fiddler's Green: George C. Cram

Jim Jones has done a fantastic job sleuthing out the details of the life of one of the lesser known officers of the 6th (and 4th after the Civil War) U.S. Cavalry, George Cram. Although not terribly popular, and likely would have been voted most likely to be captured by his peers, there are nonetheless many items of interest in his career. Any errors are undoubtedly due to my editing, as Jim turned up a wealth of detail that I had to whittle down to something small enough to post. Unfortunately, George Cram is one of the few remaining officers we have been unable to find a picture of.

George Clarence Cram was born on June 13,1830 in New York City, New York. He was the youngest of five siblings born to Lydia Tucker and Jacob Louis Cram, a distinguished lawyer in New York and perhaps the founder of the law firm “Cram & Cram,” which resided at 65 Wall Street.

On 12 July 1855, George applied for his passport application in which he was described as 5’8” tall, with grey eyes, a straight nose, medium mouth, small chin, square face, high forehead, brown hair, and a fair complexion. This application implies that he travelled abroad between July 12, 1855 and June 25, 1860.

In 1860, George was living with his elderly parents and working as a lawyer in New York, according to census data.3 In 1861, he married his wife, Francis. Their time together for the next few years was to be short; overpowered by the outbreak of the Civil War.

On May 14, 1861, George secured a commission as a captain in the newly authorized 3rd U.S. Cavalry, where he was assigned command of Company I. He immediately set up his recruiting office in Rochester, New York, and between July 24th and September 29th, he recruited 79 men for his regiment (57 men for his own company, 17 men for Company G, one man for Company K, one man for the regiment’s Field &Staff, and three recruits who deserted).

In order to simplify the tracking of the large number of volunteer units being formed during the war, Congress had enacted, on 3 August 1861, that all mounted regiments should henceforth be known as cavalry. Army General Order No. 55, dated August 10, 1861, prescribed that the 3rd U.S. Cavalry would now be enumerated the 6th U.S. Cavalry.

On October 4, 1861, Captain Cram joined the regiment at Bladensburg, Maryland. Here, the regiment received its horses, and its first lessons in the saddle. On October 12th, the regiment broke camp at Bladensburg and marched to its new camp, East of Capitol. Here, the regiment would endure an intensive training regime, mounted and unmounted, and the company commanders would have the occasion to sharpen their men. Unfortunately, Captain Cram would not seize this opportunity. On November 27th, he took leave, and in February, he was absent, sick in Washington, D.C.

On March 10, 1862, the regiment broke camp and embarked with Major General McClellan on the famous Peninsula Campaign of 1862, where Captain Cram would serve in every engagement of the campaign. On May 30, 1862, during an action on the Pamunkey River, Major Williams mentioned in his report:

“At 12 o’clock on the night of the 28th Lieutenant Kerin left the camp with about 20 men, and successfully fired and destroyed the county bridge about 200 yards above the railroad crossing. He was assisted in both operations by Lieutenant Coats, and both deserve the highest praise for the effectual manner in which they discharged their duty. Another bridge was also burned by Captain Cram. This was a bridge which Rush’s Lancers had fired on the 27th, but owing to the suddenness of their having withdrawn from the front were unable to entirely complete the destruction.”

The regiment then marched into the brutal Maryland Campaign, remembered most famously for the battle of Antietam. Upon the closing of the campaign, Brigadier General Pleasonton, in making his report of the operations resulting in driving Lee’s army back into Virginia, said:

“The services of this division (cavalry) from the 4th of September up to the 19th were of the most constant and arduous character. For fifteen successive days we were in contact with the enemy, and each day conflicts of some kind were maintained, in which we gradually but steadily advanced. The officers and men have exerted themselves to insure the success of every expedition and these efforts have been fortunate. The officers entitled to mention for gallant services are....Captains W.P. Sanders commanding, and Capts. George C. Cram and Henry B. Hays, and Lieut. Albert Coats, adjutant.”

On October 31, 1862, Captain Cram was assigned to duty at Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, the regimental command had changed hands many times due to most of the senior officers receiving higher commands within the volunteer forces. After returning to his company and settling into winter camp, Captain Cram assumed command of the regiment on December 13, 1862, now the senior regimental officer.

Captain Cram appears to have been despised by the men in his regiment. One private wrote:

“He was a curious, capricious man, seeming to almost delight when the men most feared him. A perfect sign of terror held sway over the guards. The new regimental commander would come down to the guardhouse at all hours of these winter nights, sometimes wearing his sidearms and at other times without them, and then, in violation of all regulations, the guard and prisoners were obliged to turn out and fall into line – the latter in their bare feet and drawers – that he might be saluted according to rank. A little hatred towards him was developed throughout the entire regiment. Whenever a soldier had occasion to speak of him, his name was invariably coupled with uncomplimentary phrases. The universal desire was often thus briefly expressed, except for the religious:
“Damn Cram!”
Thus religious wore off the round edge of a curse:
“Darn Cram!”
While the young men from the country, who still retained a wholesome fear of profanity, contended themselves with:
“Gol darn Cram!”
All sorts of violent deaths and untimely ends were pictured as in store for the unfortunate Cram. Few of the men seemed to believe that he ever allowed himself to become sober while in command of the regiment that winter.”

However much he may have been disliked by his men, Cram was diligent in attempting to see to the welfare of the men and their mounts. During the early part of January, the following letters were sent by Captain Cram, at a time when the strength of the cavalry should have been husbanded with great care for the coming spring campaign:

“Headquarters 6th U. S. Cavalry,
January 16th, 1863.
SIR: - I have the honor to report for the information of Brigade Headquarters, that the three squadrons of my regiment now on picket duty have the strength of 505 enlisted men. The three companies now in camp awaiting will turn out to-morrow 121 enlisted men. Present, absolute available strength mounted of the six troops and the three in camp, of which my command consists, 426.
There are three troops on detached service at General Sumner’s and General Pleasanton’s headquarters. Of ineffectives I shall leave in camp, mostly dismounted, 292. From the above it will be perceived that I can march with one-hundred and seventy-one men as the strength of my three disposable companies. I succeeded in getting thirty-six carbines and sabres from Pennington’s battery to-day. To-morrow I shall be obliged to send out two days’ forage and three days’ rations to my six companies on picket; this is essential to provide for their substance and forage. It requires six wagons for them to return during the day (they must be lightly loaded), which will cripple my transportation seriously, should I have to use it for general purposes to-morrow.
Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
(Signed) G. C. Cram,
Captain, 6th U. S. Cavalry, Commanding.
To Lieutenant MAHNKEN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General,
2d Cavalry Brigade.”

“Headquarters 6th U. S. Cavalry,
January 21st, 1863.
SIR: - I have the honor to request to be informed whether I am at liberty to run out forage to the six companies of my regiment, now on picket; their forage is out this morning; also whether I can start my train to depot for forage. I have a scant two days’ in camp ahead for the whole command, and forage must be sent this morning to the detail on picket.
My entire command in rationed for three days, from this morning, in their haversacks. Am I to construe the circular received this morning as a standing order to run out the necessary transportation daily, to my detail on picket, with one day’s rations, without further orders, as it is only by that, that I can keep them three days ahead?
Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
G. C. Cram,
Captain, 6th U. S. Cavalry.
To Lieutenant H. MAHNKEN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General,
2d Cavalry Brigade.”

“Headquarters 6th U. S. Cavalry,
Camp near Falmouth, Virginia, January 29th, 1863.
SIR: - I have the honor to transmit herewith approved requisitions for six wagons and requisitions for tools rendered absolutely necessary under orders from Headquarters 2d Cavalry Brigade, Cavalry Division, January 28th, 1863, requiring me to employ the troops under my command to construct and keep in repair the bridges on the road between General Hooker’s headquarters and ‘Stoneman’s switch.’ I have the honor to officially state my belief that, unless I am furnished with the means called for in such requisitions, it will be impossible for me to perform the duty assigned to me under the above-noticed order, as my regimental resources are already insufficient for the purposes of foraging and rationing my command. I have also the honor to very respectfully request to be informed if it is intended to retain this regiment on the roster for picket while discharging this duty of road and bridge construction and police, and if, while assigned to such fatigue duty, it will also be required to do its usual outpost duty. The requisitions are based upon a careful survey and examination made to-day of the roads and line of country assigned me.
I am, sir, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) G. C. Cram,
Captain, 6th U. S. Cavalry, Commanding.
To Lieutenant H. MAHNKEN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General,
2d Cavalry Brigade.”

In the months of winter camp in 1863, the cavalry underwent major changes. Major General Joseph Hooker took command of the army, relieving General Burnside after his failure at Fredericksburg the previous November. One of General Hooker’s changes was to organize the various cavalry regiments into a massive mounted service designated the Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac. Under this new organization, the regiment remained with the rest of the regular cavalry regiments in the Reserve Brigade, now acting as an independent brigade. While the structure of this fledgling cavalry corps was beginning to take shape, Captain Cram was assigned command of the brigade on February 16, 1863. One soldier who was stationed at brigade headquarters noted in his diary:

“Monday, 16
Rainy some this morning. Cleaned up about 10 o’clock. Capt. Cram is in command of the Brigade. Handsome Brig. Genl. but he can’t command a corporal guard. (unr) that ain’t mutiny.”

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Buford, who was then the chief of cavalry, requested to command the reserve brigade under this reorganization. Thus, in March, Captain Cram was relieved of command of the Reserve Brigade, and resumed command of the 6th U.S. Cavalry.

The regiment, Captain Cram commanding, broke winter camp on April 13, 1863 and participated in the expedition known as “Stoneman’s Raid.”

On May 12,1863, while in camp at Hartwood Church, Captain Cram, accompanied by Assistant Surgeon William H. Forwood and two enlisted orderlies, rode to General Buford’s headquarters, about a mile and a half distant. Towards evening, they started back to camp, and while passing along a country road, were suddenly surrounded and compelled to surrender by about thirty of Colonel Mosby’s men, under Lieutenant Fairchild.

The guerrillas had ridden close to the camps, under cover of a dense forest, and, secreting their horses in the underbrush, had posted themselves on both sides of the road and captured several troopers passing back and forth between the camps.

Captain Cram and Assistant Surgeon Forwood were not armed, and both were entirely unsuspicious of any danger until confronted with a demand for surrender, backed up by cocked carbines. It was a daring ambush, laid in the midst of the cavalry corps, on a piece of road supposed to be covered by patrols and pickets.

The captors mounted and conducted their prisoners through the forest to a house, which appeared to be their headquarters. Here, Lieutenant Fairchild offered to release them if they would give their parole. Captain Cram and the enlisted men were released on parole, after being deprived of their horses and equipments, and started to camp.

Since medical officers on both sides had the right to be released without parole if captured, Assistant Surgeon Forwood declined to sign the parole, and insisted upon his right, as a medical officer, to be released. This was refused, and he was turned over to a guard to be taken to some interior point as a prisoner of war. The guard started after midnight, the prisoner being placed on foot between mounted detachments in front and rear. While passing through a dense growth of pines, the gallant surgeon made a dash for liberty and escaped without injury from the carbine and pistol shots that resounded through the forest.

The escaping prisoner floundered along over fallen timber and through swamps until nearly daylight, when he succeeded in reaching the main road, where Captain Cram and his party had already arrived, and at that point not far from General Buford’s headquarters. This ordeal caused Captain Cram considerable embarrassment, and though unproven, is probably why the gallant surgeon spent the rest of the month on detached duty at the Cavalry Corps’ dismount camp near Dumfries. Surgeon Forwood rejoined the regiment just prior to the battle of Brandy Station and continued to share its fortunes with the same daring spirit that dictated his dash into the dark forest amidst the flying bullets of the guerrillas.

Considerable controversy arose over this capture, and the result was a general order published by the War Department forbidding the acceptance of parole under such circumstances. The order referred to, dated 3 July 1863, contains the following language:

“It is understood that captured officers and men have been paroled and released in the field by others than commanders of opposing armies********
Any officer or soldier who gives such parole will be returned to duty without exchange, and, moreover, will be punished for disobedience of orders. It is the duty of the captor to guard his prisoners, and if, through necessity or choice, he fails to do this, it is the duty of the prisoner to return to the service of his Government.”

It appears that Captain Cram wasn’t any more beloved by the officers of his regiment than he was by the enlisted men. In a letter dated the same day of Captain Cram’s capture, Captain Brisbin wrote to his wife:

“***I am now again in command of the regiment much to the delight of all in it. The Rebels got Cram, Body and Breeches. I am only sorry that they did not kill the son-of-a-bitch, but we are all rid of him and thats all we need care for.***”

Nonetheless, Captain Brisbin’s sentiment would not hold true, for after “officially” being paroled on June 2, 1863, Captain Cram again assumed command of the regiment, if only for a short time.

On June 9th, the battle of Brandy Station took place, in which Captain Cram can easily be commended for the way he handled his regiment in battle. He received a brevet promotion to major for gallant and meritorious service his actions during the battle.

The following day, June 10th, Major Samuel H. “Old Paddy” Starr was appointed to the 6th U.S. Cavalry and would have assumed command of the regiment. However, Major Starr was immediately given command of the brigade, replacing Major Whiting, his junior, while Captain Cram remained in command of the regiment.

Major Starr was a veteran of the old army and known to be a strict disciplinarian, which he rigidly exercised towards all – officers and men. One private would remember:

“There was one feature in MAJ Starr’s administration that in a measure compensated the men for their suffering and humiliation. That was the poorly concealed terror and hate with which he was regarded by the subordinate regimental officers. CPT Cram especially seemed to be an object of Major Starr’s terrific disciplinarian efforts. Under the watchful eyes of the major, poor Captain Cram seemed to have dropped from the pinnacle of happiness to the depths of despair. In his presence, Captain Cram appeared heavily ill at ease. His trepidation was visible to everyone, and a smile was sure to pass along the line on such occasions. Whenever the cold blue eyes of his senior were turned upon him, his manifest trepidation was expressibly gratifying to those who had been subject to Captain Cram’s caprices while at the previous winter camp.”

The regiment continued the march, and on June 21, 1863 participated in the battle of Upperville. On the 23rd, while camped near Aldie, Captain Cram submitted his official report, which is very interesting and given in more detail than is usual in such cases. This is likely because of Major Starr’s vociferous displeasure of the performance of the brigade during the battle. After the brigade’s brief stay at camp near Aldie, it continued the march, chasing after General Lee’s army.

On June 29, 1863, the command reached Frederick City, Maryland, where newly appointed Brigadier General Wesley Merritt assumed command of the brigade, relieving Major Starr. Starr assumed command of the 6th U.S. Cavalry, which in turn, relieved Captain Cram of command of the regiment and returned him to his company.

The command soon reached Emmitsburg, Maryland, where it went into camp. On July 3rd, the brigade commander received information that a Confederate wagon train was very near and guarded by a weak force. Sensing it was ripe for the taking, Brigadier-General Merritt ordered the 6th U.S. Cavalry to the task.

As the regiment marched into Fairfield, Pennsylvania, Major Starr ordered Captain Cram, commanding the 1st Squadron, to take his men and follow the course of an unfinished railroad that lay at the foot of the mountains on the western side of the valley. Captain Cram set off on his reconnoiter, while the rest of the regiment continued towards Cashtown. The battle which ensued, known as the battle of Fairfield, saw the regiment utterly routed by the Confederate force guarding the wagon train, which turned out to be an entire Confederate brigade, under the command of General William “Grumble” Jones. Captain Cram, hearing the firing from the engagement, quickly rushed his 1st Squadron toward the scene. His squadron charged the enemy, but his horse was shot out from underneath him, and he was captured. The remaining few men of the regiment retreated back towards Cashtown.

That afternoon, Captain Cram, along with the other prisoners, set off on the long march south towards the Confederate prisons at Richmond. After a long and rainy march, the prisoners camped some distance away from the battlefield. Now prisoners, and after a long, rainy, cold, hungry, and weary march, these Federal men were not only defeated on the battlefield, but also in spirit. One private noted:

“Grim jokes about ”cordwood brigades,” “Company Q,” and “put a nosebag on him” were occasionally heard, but there was no absolute disrespect shown by the men. Even Captain Cram, with all the different phases of common hate assumed toward him, escaped insult.”

The long march south resumed, and continued for the next few days. Shortly before daylight of July 7th, the men halted near a place called the Mountain House, and here remained until late in the afternoon. Here Captain Cram was once again illegally paroled. The parole was not recognized by the Federal government to be binding, as all prisoner exchanges required the delivery of prisoners to Vicksburg or City Point. He received parole, complaining of gout in his feet from the tremendous amount of marching.

This same day, Brigadier-General Neill reported that:

“***Captain [George C.] Cram, now a prisoner of war at Monterey, states that the discipline of the enemy seems to be very much relaxed. In the last two days I have taken a great many prisoners, or, rather, deserters from the rebels.***”

After this second unauthorized field parole, near Monterey, he was granted 20 days of leave starting on the 24thfor reason of being a paroled prisoner. He then extended his leave for 60 days and subsequently was put on duty as an inspector of cavalry horses at Washington, D.C. on November 6, 1863. On February 20, 1864, he again took leave. On March 10, 1864, he was assigned as a mustering and disbursing officer at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In September, he transferred to his home ground of New York City, still working as a mustering and disbursing officer. In November, he was listed as “sick in New York City,” and on November 16th he was ordered to join his regiment, yet managed to avoid rejoining throughout the remainder of the war. Perhaps the reason for his numerous leaves was that his wife was pregnant, and in 1865, she bore a son, which they named Jacob Cram, probably after George’s father.

At this point, it should be noted that Captain Cram was the only one of the original company commanders in the regiment that had not received some sort of higher command, whether in the regular army or more commonly the volunteer service. However, this was finally about to change, for while in New York, and perhaps the reason for his avoidance to join his regular regiment, he secured an appointment as Colonel of the 22nd New York Cavalry. Unfortunately for Cram, this appointment was rescinded upon the return of the original commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Horatio B. Reed.

Having failed to secure his volunteer command, he must have been compelled to rejoin his regiment, reporting sometime in May of 1865. Yet again, he took leave and was absent on June 16, 1865. In July, he was again reported present for duty, and was assigned special duty as the acting provost marshal at Frederick, Maryland. Yet again, he took leave on August 21, 1865, but was back on duty near Frederick, Maryland by September.

The regiment received hundreds of recruits during the summer, and now at full strength, was ordered to duty in Texas. The regiment broke camp at Frederick, Maryland on October 15, 1865 and proceeded by rail to Battery Barracks, New York, where it embarked , October 19th, on the steamship “Herman Livingston” for New Orleans. The steamer sailed the next morning, and when off the coast of Hatteras, during the 23rd and 24th, encountered a violent storm. One of the sad incidents of this trying voyage was the loss of horses, thrown overboard to lighten the ship. The ship weathered the severe gale which sent many vessels to the bottom, and reached Key West on the night of the 27th, and New Orleans on November 2nd.

The regiment remained in camp near New Orleans until the 10th, when it sailed on the steamer “Clinton” for Galveston, arriving there on November 12th. Austin, Texas, was reached on the 29th, and Camp Sanders was established half a mile west of town. During this month, Captain Cram was listed as present, but sick. By December, he was assigned on detached service as provost marshal at Major-General Custer’s Headquarters in Austin, Texas. On January 24, 1866, he was assigned as the acting inspector general at the same headquarters, until February 1st, when he rejoined his regiment. On March 16th, he was put on special duty attending the general court marshal of a soldier, per Special Order No. 65, and was relieved of that duty on April 22, 1866, yet reported sick. On May 3, 1866, Captain Cram reported to duty, and with his company was on detached service at Jacksboro, Texas.

During early 1867, he went on a scouting expedition after Indians. It is not known what happened on that expedition, but on April 5, 1867, he was listed as joined from that expedition and “in arrest,” since that date. On April 28th, he and his company transferred from Jacksboro to Fort Belknap, where he remained in arrest until June at that post. In June, the returns list him as “from present in arrest to absent in arrest since June 20, 1867, attending his trial before General Court Marshal at Austin, Texas.” Meanwhile, his company was transferred to Camp Wilson. On October 24, 1867 he reported from “absent in arrest to present in arrest” at Camp Wilson “by permission to delay joining his company until the decision of his trial is made known per instructions from the 5th Military District, dated 11 October 1867.”

In a baffling turn, Captain Cram was promoted to Major the next day, October 12, 1867, and assigned to the 4th U.S. Cavalry, and was ordered to report to his new regiment on November 19, 1867. In December, he was en route to Fort Clark, Texas to assume command of that post. He did not stay in command long at Fort Clark, for on January 20, 1868, Major Cram transferred and assumed command of Fort Verde and the regiment. In March, he led his regiment on a movement to transfer to Fort Concho, Texas, and assumed command of that post April 3, 1868.

For the next few months, Major Cram commanded the regiment and post to which he was assigned, until August 18, 1868, when he relinquished command and reported for detached service as a member of a military commission per Special Order No. 3, Headquarters, 5th Military District, dated August 12, 1868. He left the regiment on the 20th for this duty, and by October 2nd, his duty was complete, as he went on leave and travelled to his home in New York City. His leave there was extended for three months per Special Order No. 250, dated October 19, 1868.

On January 9, 1868, Major Cram was recommended for promotion to a lieutenant-colonelcy by Brigadier-General George Stoneman, now a Colonel in command of the 21st U.S. Infantry. Stoneman wrote the following recommendation on behalf of Major Cram:

“Petersburg, Virginia
January 9th, 1868
Hon. Secretary of War,

I have never troubled the War department with many recommendations for promotion or preferment, and when I have done so it has ever been done with a knowledge of the person, his claims, and his merits, and because I really thought he was justly entitled to what was asked for him.
The case I now beg the privilege of bringing to the attention of the Department, and through it to the President, is that of one of the most gallant and deserving Officers in the Army --- Major G.C. Cram, 4th U.S. Cavalry, and what is asked for him by myself and through me by his friends who have written me on the subject, is that he may be brevetted a “Lieutenant Colonel in the Army for gallant and meritorious conduct at the engagement of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, July 3d, 1863.”
The circumstances are as follows, His Regiment the 6th Cavalry was taken into the action by Colonel Starr, who being wounded early in the engagement, the Command of the Regiment devolved upon major Cram --- who in extricating his Regiment and saving the Regimental Colors, had his Clothing and saddle perforated with bullets in many places, his horse killed under him, and himself wounded --- when being afoot he was captured by the enemy --- who recognizing and appreciating his gallantry, paroled him and turned him loose.
It is to be presumed that the reason why his name and claims have never been presented for consideration is that no Official report was ever made of the engagement by Colonel Starr, (for reasons unnecessary here to mention,) and I hope it is not now too late to do justice to a brave Soldier, gallant Officer, and thorough Gentleman,
I am, Sir,
Very Respectfully,
Your Obedient Servant
George Stoneman
Colonel 21st U.S. Infantry and
Brevet Major General U.S.A.”

It is obvious that Major Cram stretched the truth to favor himself for a promotion. It need only be mentioned that Private George C. Platt, of Company H, was the soldier who rescued the regimental colors from falling in the hands of the enemy, and for which action he became the regiment’s first Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. Even though Major Cram was commanding the 1st Squadron (which consisted of companies B and H), it proves at the very least he was trying to take credit for one of his soldier’s actions.

This concoction of Major Cram’s would ultimately backfire, for at the time, promotions required a letter of endorsement from the commander of the soldier at the time of their actions: Major Samuel H. Starr! Major Starr was currently stationed in Texas with the 6th U.S. Cavalry, and upon receiving Major Cram’s recommendation to lieutenant-colonel, wrote the following:

“Post of Mount Pleasant, Tex.
February 17th 1868

Respectfully returned to HeadQuarters of the Army. I believe General Stoneman does not claim to know anything personally about the actuion mentioned by him in the within communication as he was not serving in the Army of the Potomac at the time: the first paragraph of his letter is intended, I presume, merely to remind the Department of his habitual course, from which, in this case, for sufficient reasons, he chooses to depart. There are several erros of fact in the General’s communication which, as it is referred to me, it is my duty to correct, and I will do so in the order they appear --- I was wounded some hours after the action began and after its close, while the regiment was in retreat through a narrow defile (a country road) and not “early in the engagement.” --- Major Cram certainly was not during any part of the action in command of the regiment --- The regiment being weak and attacked by two brigades of the enemy’s cavalry, under the rebel Generals B.H. Robertson and Jones, was much cut up, routed and disorganized, it is true, but was reformed several miles from the field of action by Lt. Louis H. Carpenter (now Captain, 10th U.S. Cavalry) and not by Maj. Cram. Capt. Carpenter is my informant in this. --- Major Cram had nothing to do with “extricating the regiment.” --- I never heard that Major Cram saved the standard, I think this is a mistake --- I did not know that he was wounded in that action, or that his saddle or clothing was spoiled --- major Cram with his squadron was detached by me on the morning of the 3rd July, the day of the action, before the enemy was discovered, to look after his (the enemy’s) foragers reported by the people to be robbing barns in the neighborhood of Fairfield; and he did not rejoin the regiment, at least not till after the action was over and the regiment was in full retreat; he took no part in the action up to that time; he was however captured. I have heard, and paroled because he was unable to walk from gout in his feet. He did not, I believe, serve again in the field during the war on account of some complications about his exchange.
The remark of General Stoneman in the last paragraph, written in parentheses, to wit “for reasons unnecessary here to mention,” requires notice: The reason no official report was made of the action by me was that in the retreat I lost my right arm near the shoulder while marching through the defile above mentioned --- myself the last man in the column. I add the last clause because it seems to me the remark quoted is calculated to injure me, it is at least liable to misconstruction.
S.H. Starr
Maj. 6th Cav. Bvt Col USA”

The remarks from Army's commanding general were characteristically brief:

“Gen. Stoneman’s recommendation is not approved.
U.S. Grant
Hdqrs. Army
March 7, ‘68”

Needless to say, Major Cram never received the promotion, and perhaps from this denial he chose to resign. His resignation was accepted per Special Order No. 23, Headquarters, Army, Adjutant-General’s Office, Washington, D.C., January 28, 1869, to take effect January 26, 1869.

While on leave in New York City, and after resigning, George C. Cram most likely entered schooling at Stamford, Connecticut. However, within the same year of his resignation, and on August 22, 1869, George Cram died. It is unknown what he died from, but still more puzzling is who wrote the following obituary, posted in the New York Times, 26 August 1869:

“The death is announced of Major George Clarence Cram, at Stamford, Conn., on Sunday last, the 22nd inst. Major Cram was a son of the late Jacob Cram, and brother of Henry A. Cram, Esq., and of Mrs. James Watson Webb. He entered the army in 1861, his first commission as Captain of the Sixth Regular Cavalry having been dated May 14, of that year. In this regiment he served throughout the war. In the latter part of 1862, Captain Cram found himself in command of his regiment, being the senior officer on duty with it, and early in 1863 the regular cavalry of the Army of the Potomac was organized into a brigade, the command of which was retained by him, although his rank was not increased. In both these positions he won the praise of his superiors, and the cordial likings of his inferiors in rank by his soldierly qualities and courteous, gentlemanly bearing. While commanding the brigade he kept open the communications of General STONEMAN’S expeditionary force with the main army, on which service he taught the guerillas a much needed lesson. June 9, 1863, he was brevetted Major, and was afterward on duty here as Provost Marshal, and was also sent on a tour of inspection through the North. October 12, 1867, he was commissioned Major of the Fourth Cavalry, and resigned on the 26th of January, 1869. He was in his fortieth year, and much beloved and respected by the many who knew him. His death will be sincerely mourned by a large circle of friends, and by none more sincerely than by his old comrades of the Army of the Potomac.”


The Cram Sourcebook, Vol. II, Michael A. Cram.

Passport application of George Clarence Cram, filed 12 July 1855, New York City.

1860 Federal Census, District No. 2, 18th Ward, New York, New York, Page No. 81, Family entry 353.

General Order No. 33, Adjutant-General’s Office, 18 June 1861.

6th U.S. Cavalry database, compiled by Jim Jones.

Official Records to the War of the Rebellion.

Special Order No. 158. Returns for Regular Army Regiments, 6th U.S. Cavalry.

Returns for Regular Army Regiments, 6th U.S. Cavalry, October through December 1862.

Common Soldier, Uncommon War: Life as a Cavalryman in the Civil War, Sidney M. Davis.

From Yorktown to Santiago with the Sixth U.S. Cavalry, Lieutenant Colonel William H. Carter.

The Union Cavalry Comes of Age, Eric J. Wittenberg.

The diary of Randolph R. Knapp, housed at the Gettysburg Library.

Letter to Jane, his wife, by James S. Brisbin, housed at the Iowa Historical Society.

List of Officers of the Army of the United States from 1779 to 1900, William Henry Powell.

Special Order No. 348, Adjutant-General’s Office, War Department, Washington, D.C.

Special Order No. 358 and Special Order No. 494, Adjutant-General’s Office, War Department, Washington, D.C., respectively.

Special Order No. 84, Adjutant-General’s Office, War Department, Washington, D.C., dated 20 February 1864.

Special Order No. 114, Adjutant-General’s Office, War Department, Washington, D.C., dated 10 March 1864.

Special Order No. 398, Adjutant-General’s Office, War Department, Washington, D.C.

From Rochester to Winchester: The Regimental History of the 22nd New York Cavalry, Michael G. Burns.

Returns for Regular Army Regiments, 6th U.S. Cavalry.

Special Order No. 8, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, D.C.

Special Order No. 190, Headquarters, 5th Military District, dated 19 November 1867.

Order No. 228, Headquarters, Department of Texas, dated 28 December 1867.

Special Order No. 7, dated 10 January 1868.

Returns for Regular Army Regiments, 4th U.S. Cavalry.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Military History graduate degrees

Now that my “work” master’s degree is at last finished, or at least in its finishing throes, I’ve decided to start looking for the program that I’ve really wanted to take for my own satisfaction. My goal has been a graduate degree in history since my time as an undergrad, but circumstances to date haven’t been compatible with pursuing such a degree. Since I’m not interested in relocating to pursue the degree and am curious about a degree in military history, I’m probably limited to an online or distance learning program. That is probably not conducive to university teaching upon completion of the degree (or likely even acceptance to a PhD program, though I’m unsure exactly how that works) but that isn’t necessarily the goal I’m shooting for.

American Military University and Norwich University both offer programs for a Master of Arts in Military History. They may not be the most prominent programs, but certainly appear to be the most prevalent from their advertising. I thought I would see how the two programs compare head to head in several categories.

Norwich: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.
AMU: Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council.
Advantage: Even, given that I don’t know enough to gauge which is better.

Program of instruction.
Norwich: Six 11 week seminars (courses) of 6 credit hours each. Each semester consists of two seminars. Seminars include: Introduction to Military History, The Western Way of War, Military Thought and Theory, The Non-Western Way of War, U.S. Military History or Race and Gender in Military History, and the capstone seminar. The seminars are structured in a required sequence, and there are no electives. Normal completion 18-24 months from enrollment date. Program culminates in 1 week residency and graduation ceremony at Norwich in June. Total: 36 hours.
AMU: 4 required core courses on historical research methods, historiography, studies in U.S. military history, and great military philosophers. Selection of one of five areas of concentration: American military history, American Revolution, Civil war, World War II, and War since 1945. Each concentration consists of five required courses and one elective. No residency requirement, but there is a (optional) graduation ceremony in Washington D.C. each summer. Total: 36 hours.
Advantage: Even, depends on a given student’s preference for depth or breadth of study.

Start times.
Norwich: 4 --- March, June, September, or December.
AMU: monthly.
Advantage: AMU.

Flexibility of content.
Norwich: very little, with one choice between two classes during one semester. 6 mandatory seminars, taken in a required order.
AMU: choice of five concentration options. The concentration option most comparable to the Norwich degree is American Military History, which is comprised of five required classes and one elective. Required classes: American Revolution in Context, Civil War, World War II in Context, War Since 1945, and Great Military Leaders. Electives include classes on air power, land warfare throughout history, sea power, special topics and independent study.
Advantage: AMU.

Norwich: $657 per hour, or $7884 per semester, plus semester technology fee of $475 and resource fee of $450. Fees include all books and materials. Total: $26,427.
AMU: $275 per hour, or $825 per course. No additional mandatory fees, but students purchase their own books and materials. Total: $9,900.
Advantage: AMU, though there will be those who argue that you get what you pay for.

Exit requirements.
Norwich: capstone paper, similar to a thesis, which is defended during residency.
AMU: two options: capstone seminar/ thesis or comprehensive exam.
Advantage: Even, with a slight edge to Norwich as I favor an in-person defense of the thesis.

Norwich: degree has no mention of online designation. Students receive “the official, traditional diploma of Norwich University.”
Advantage: Norwich, given remaining stigma attached to online degree programs.

Some categories were intentionally omitted, as I had no effective way to compare them, or didn’t think them relevant. Class size wasn’t available for both schools. Faculty comparisons would a very research-intensive study outside the scope of this comparison. This comparison is admittedly quantity slanted vs quality, as I have no data readily available to compare the two qualitatively. Other than, hopefully, commentary from readers familiar with one or both programs.

On the surface of my rather limited analysis, it would appear that AMU is the clear winner. But it’s hard to quantify education, and whether one would be able to progress academically from either of these programs, so hopefully someone will be willing to share their thoughts.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Who's In This Photo?

This photo was taken at 6th U.S. Cavalry Headquarters circa 1862. From right to left: standing; unknown; Major Laurence A. Williams. Sitting; 2nd Lieutenant Samuel M. Whitside; Captain William P. Sanders. I found this photo on a Wikipedia search for Samuel Marmaduke Whitside, although I believe the original is housed at the Fort Huachuca, Arizona Museum.

Jim Jones and I have been trying to figure out who our mystery man is in the above photo, and decided to post this in hopes that a reader may see or know something that we do not.

What are our clues?

From the regimental records, we know that the regiment took to the field on 10 March 1862. Additionally, Major Williams left the regiment on 26 June 1862. Therefore, the photo must have been taken between 10 March and 26 June 1862.

Given our collection of 6th U.S. Cavalry officer photos, it is easy to eliminate whom this photo does not depict. To this, one can also take in consideration the date/time of the photo, eliminating any officers assigned after 26 June 1862. Thus, the potential candidates are:

CPT Savage (commander, Co H,present all three months)
CPT Cram (commander, Co I, present all three months)
1LT Brown (present)
1LT Hutchins (signed March '62 return as acting adjutant April 15th, also commander, Co E, present march-May, sick in June '62)
1LT Claflin (may have been present)
1LT Dodge (absent April-May '62)
1LT Johnson (present)
1LT Tucker (present)
1LT McLean (commander, Co F, present all three months)
2LT Spangler (regimental quartermaster, present all three months)
2LT Kerin (present)
2LT Coats (signed April retrun as acting adjutant May 1st, acting adjutant, April-May '62, present all three months)
2LT Balk (present)
2LT Madden (present April-May, absent May-June)
2LT Ward (present)
2LT Stoll (present)
2LT Balder (present or entry illegible)

Additional thoughts: At the time of the photo, Williams and Sanders are the two senior officers assigned to the regiment. It could be a regimental headquarters photo (the three named are from different companies, eliminating that possibility). Whitside filled in at times as an acting adjutant. If we make this assumption, the most likely candidates are Spangler as the RQM or the regimental sergeant major at the time. Given the appearance of the epaulets in the photo, however, it's most likely an officer.

Any ideas?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fiddler’s Green – Myles Moylan

As a former commander of Company C, 2nd U.S. Dragoons (at the time in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, currently designated the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, but still on continuous active service since 1836), it’s always gratifying to turn up information on one of the company’s soldiers. Little did I suspect, however, where following Moylan’s life would lead me. Shiloh, Gettysburg, Little Big Horn, Wounded Knee --- Myles Moylan was definitely born to be a cavalryman. Despite controversy shrouding his career more than once, the quality of the 36 years of his service speaks for itself.

Myles Moylan was born at Amesbury, Massachusetts on December 17, 1838. His father was Thomas Moylan and his mother was Margaret Riley, both born in Ireland. Educated in local schools, he worked as a shoemaker prior joining the army. He was enlisted as a private in Company C, 2nd U.S. Dragoons by Lieutenant McArthur in Boston, Massachusetts on June 8, 1857. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’9 ½” tall, with black hair, gray eyes and a ruddy complexion. For some reason he listed Galway, Ireland as his place of birth on his enlistment paperwork.

Army life apparently agreed well with young Myles. He was promoted to corporal on October 1, 1858, and sergeant exactly two years later. During this time, he served in the Utah expedition of 1857-1858 and later in Kansas and Nebraska. He fought in an engagement with Indians at Blackwater Springs, Kansas on July 11, 1860. Sergeant Moylan was promoted to first sergeant of the company on May 17, 1861.

This last promotion proved very important to the company, as all of its assigned officers resigned at the outbreak of the war. Company C left Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on June 11, 1861, under the command of Lieutenant Farrand of the 1st U.S. Infantry. It didn’t rejoin the rest of the regiment until June 1863. During these two years, it was commanded by eight officers of different regiments and corps, including four infantry officers and two artillery officers. It would have been the steady hand of the first sergeant that kept the company functioning.

First Sergeant Moylan led his company through engagements at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee. He re-enlisted at Pittsburgh, Tennessee on April 1, 1862, just days before the battle of Shiloh. He continued to serve with the company through that battle and the subsequent siege of Corinth. During the winter of 1862-1863, they served as the escort for General Grant for several months at Memphis, Tennessee. First Sergeant Moylan remained with the company until March 28, 1863, when he was discharged at Memphis, Tennessee. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the 5th U.S. Cavalry on February 19th, but it took over a month for the news to reach him.

Lieutenant Moylan joined his new regiment in Virginia in May, and was assigned to Company D. He immediately assumed command of the company upon his arrival due to a shortage of officers with the regiment. He commanded the company through engagements at Brandy Station, Aldie, Middletown, Upperville, Gettysburg, Williamsport, Boonsboro, Funkstown, Falling Waters, Manassas Gap, Front Royal, and Brandy Station again in August. The regiment moved with the rest of the Reserve Brigade to Giesboro Point, D.C. for remounting and refitting from August to October 1863. His final battle with the regiment was the engagement at Morton’s Ford, Virginia on October 11th, as part of the diversion for Kilpatrick’s raid.

His commission was revoked and he was dismissed from the service on October 20, 1863 for an unauthorized visit to Washington, D.C. and failing to report to military district headquarters. Sympathetic biographers have on several occasions referred to this as a “trifling offense,” but given the length of his service he should have known better. In his defense, officer absenteeism was a common problem subject to periodic crackdowns during the war, and he may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He didn’t stay out of action long, however. He enlisted in Company A, 4th Massachusetts Cavalry at Malden, MA under the fictitious name of Charles E. Thomas on December 2, 1863. Despite using a nom de guerre, he received a $325 bounty for enlisting. Given his experience, it is unsurprising that he was a sergeant in the company by December 26th, and appointed first lieutenant a month later on January 25, 1864.

Lieutenant Moylan led his company through engagements on John’s Island, South Carolina in July, 1864, and near Jacksonville, Florida in October before his regiment was assigned to the forces besieging Petersburg. He was promoted to captain of Company K on December 1, 1864, and served briefly on the staff of Major General John Gibbon. He commanded a squadron of the regiment at the headquarters of the XXIV Corps during the Richmond campaign, and on April 9, 1865 received a brevet promotion to major of volunteers for gallant and meritorious services during the campaign in Virginia. He was honorably mustered out of service with his regiment on November 14, 1865 at Richmond, Virginia.

After the holidays, Moylan was back in uniform, this time once again under his own name. He enlisted in the general mounted service at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania as a private on January 25, 1866, and on March 10th was promoted to corporal.

Corporal Moylan was assigned to the new 7th U.S. Cavalry when it was formed on August 20, 1866, and his fortunes soared again. He was noticed by the regiment’s Lieutenant Colonel Custer, and was appointed the regiment’s first sergeant major on September 1, 1866. The two had briefly served together in the 5th Cavalry prior to Gettysburg. Moylan would serve in the 7th Cavalry for the next 26 years.

Custer encouraged his new sergeant major to apply for a commission once again. He was appointed a first lieutenant, 7th U.S. Cavalry on July 28, 1866, but was initially unable to accept it because he failed the appointment examination. Custer obtained permission to administer a second test, however, and tutored him to pass the examination the second time.

Such patronage was not without its costs. The new lieutenant was not initially admitted into the junior officer’s mess, though whether this was due to his prior enlisted service or Custer’s favoritism is unclear. Lieutenant Moylan served as the regimental adjutant from February 20, 1867 to December 31, 1870, when he was relieved at his own request. He served in the 1868 Washita campaign, following which he was also assigned as an acting assistant adjutant general of the troops serving in Kansas from 1868 to 1869. Lieutenant Moylan was assigned on recruiting service from January 1871 to January 1873.

While on recruiting service, Myles Moylan married Charlotte Calhoun on October 22, 1872 at Madison, Indiana. Charlotte, or Lottie as she was known, was the 19 year old sister of First Lieutenant James Calhoun. Lieutenant Calhoun also served in the 7th Cavalry, and was married to Custer’s half sister, so this further cemented Moylan’s ties to the Custer family.

Moylan was promoted to captain in the 7th U.S. Cavalry on March 1, 1872, and assigned to command of Company A when he returned to the regiment. He commanded Company A and at times a squadron during the Yellowstone and Black Hills expeditions of 1873 and 1874.

Captain Moylan commanded his company at the battle of Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876, and was one the few officers of the regiment to survive the fight. He participated in the fight of Major Reno’s column in the valley, and later the Reno-Benteen defense on the bluff. Moylan lost both his patron and his brother in law during the battle. Interestingly given his ties to Custer, he later wrote a controversial letter defending Reno’s actions during the battle. He was part of the burial detail after the fight, and several months later wrote to Libby Custer of how he’d found her husband’s body on the battlefield.

Captain Moylan again led his company in the campaign against the Nez Perce the following year, when he earned the Medal of Honor. After a forced march of several days, the cavalry column successfully overtook a camp of the elusive tribe near Bear Paw Mountain, Montana on September 30, 1877. During the subsequent battle, he “gallantly led his command in action against Nez Perce Indians until he was severely wounded,” according to the award citation. He was reportedly wounded in the right thigh while at the head of his company charging at a full gallop. His was one of nine medals of honor awarded for the battle. He was brevetted major in the regular army for the battle on February 27, 1890, and his medal of honor was awarded November 27, 1894.

In 1880, Captain Moylan commanded his company and Fort Meade, Dakota Territory, according to census data. He commanded a battalion of three companies of cavalry during the summer Little Missouri River campaign of 1881, and his own company during an engagement with Crows in Montana Territory on November 5, 1887. He continued to serve on the frontier through the fighting at Wounded Knee in 1890.

Captain Moylan was promoted to major in the 10th U.S. Cavalry on April 8, 1892. He retired a year later, on April 15, 1893, after a career of almost 36 years. He and his wife moved to California, where he settled in San Diego with his wife. They had no children.

Major Myles Moylan died of stomach cancer in San Diego, California on December 1, 1909. Lottie survived him by seven years, dying March 29, 1916. The couple had no children, and are buried together in Greenwood Memorial Park, San Diego.


Hammer, Kenneth. Men With Custer, Biographies of the 7th U.S. Cavalry. Fort Collins: Old Army Press, 1972.

Hatch, Thom. The Custer Companion. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2002.

Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903. Page 733.

Henry, Guy V. Military Record of Army and Civilian Appointments in the United States Army, Volume I. New York: D. Van Nostrand Publishing, 1873. Page 172.

Index to Compiled Military Service Records (accessed at on May 14, 2009)

Powell, William H. Records of Living Officers of the United States Army. Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1890.

Price, George F. Across the Continent with the Fifth Cavalry. New York: Antiquarian Press, Ltd., 1959.

Rodenbough, Theophilus F. From Everglade to Canyon with the Second United States Cavalry. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000.

U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914. (accessed at on May 15, 2009)

Utley, Robert. Life in Custer’s Cavalry. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

Wert, Jeffry D. Custer. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1997.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New battle blog - Kelly's Ford

As some of you may have already seen yesterday at To The Sound of the Guns, Craig Swain and I have launched a 'battle-blog' on the March 17, 1863 cavalry battle at Kelly's Ford, Virginia.

The Battle of Kelly's Ford is an attempt to use the blog medium to create a digital history of the battle, similar to Harry Smeltzer's Bull Runnings and Brain Downey's Behind Antietam on the Web.

The site is still under construction, with only the Official Records reports and order of battle information posted so far. We hope to incorporate at least partial points of view from every unit involved and biographical sketches of their leaders.

We wanted to start with a small, relatively self-contained battle for this experiment before taking on something larger. We'll see where it goes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Regular Thoughts

I've been pondering the situation of the regulars at the outbreak of the Civil War, and have determined there are definitely two different types of regulars. I haven't fully developed the idea yet, but thought I'd post what I've come up with so far here for comment.

During the summer and fall of 1861, Regular and volunteer units concentrated around Washington, D.C. Once their own company and regimental drills were accomplished, they began to drill in larger units and more complicated drills.

The Regulars, at least in the early going, needed the drill nearly as much as the volunteers they thought so little of. Without exception they had been scattered across the frontier in company sized or smaller garrisons, and had not faced a “modern” enemy since the end of the Mexican War.

This is not to say that these units gained nothing from the 10-15 years of Indian fighting they had experienced on the frontier. They were accustomed to hard fighting against a tenacious opponent in a difficult environment, generally while undermanned and poorly resourced. When not actively campaigning against the Indians, many long hours and days were spent in small unit drills that enhanced teamwork and obedience to orders from superiors. They returned from the frontier accustomed to a life governed by Army regulations and the articles of war. They were trained and disciplined soldiers with high morale.

As the war’s initial campaigns began, there were two kinds of regulars. The first was the hard-bitten “Old Army” soldiers of the frontier. These soldiers were for the most part commanded by veteran West Point trained officers and former sergeants. The second type was either the new recruit assigned to an older regular regiment or those selected to fill the ranks of the new regular units created at the beginning of the war. While these new recruits were no different than their volunteer neighbors when they enlisted, they had the advantage of receiving their training from experienced cadres of officers and sergeants. They also had the additional pressure of living up to the reputation of their regiments. This second group greatly outnumbered the first, as nearly all regular regiments were significantly below full strength at the beginning of the war.

These regiments, regulars old and new, were their army’s reserve, or backbone. In the Army of the Potomac, the Artillery Reserve was a division by the opening of the peninsula campaign in March 1862, with a regular light brigade and a regular horse brigade in addition to its other subordinate units. The infantry’s Reserve Division had two brigades of nine regular regiments. The cavalry’s Reserve Brigade initially contained over four regular cavalry regiments, but was divided on the eve of the campaign into a Cavalry Reserve of two brigades and supplemented with a few selected volunteer units. All of these organizations were designed to harness and protect the reliable units until or in case they were needed.

Adept at small unit tactics, the older regiments were quickly able to integrate new recruits into their familiar company level and below drills. Once this was accomplished, however, they needed training to operate at the unfamiliar regimental and brigade levels. What reads easily in a manual is a completely different story on a cold, windy winter parade field hoof-deep in mud.

The new regular units shared these problems, but their paths were much easier than their volunteer counterparts due to experienced sergeants and former sergeant junior officers familiar with the drills and responsibilities of regular service.