Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New CW Blogs

A found three new Civil War blogs worth mentioning while surfing the web the other night.

Weirding the War has the potential for some very interesting chemistry. A group blog, it bills itself as "a creative discuccion for those researching and writing on the American Civil War." It features a batting order of papers to be presented, and I look forward to seeing how this evolves.

Jim Rosebrock's South from The North Woods is another Maryland campaign-based blog. He features lots of great Civil War quotes among the many interesting posts on his blog.

Michael Noirot's This Mighty Scourge is also new. I didn't have time to delve too deeply, but liked what I saw and recommend a visit.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Michigan Men, Part II

The Michigan troopers' Civil war experiences were as varied as the men themselves. Unsurprisingly, they run the gamut of possibilities, excluding only re-enlistment.

One didn't even make it to Washington, D.C. Benjamin F. Sweet was discharged for disability at the regiment's second camp in Bladensburg, Maryland on October 1, 1861. Several others didn't last until the regiment's initial campaign on the Peninsula the following March. Warner C. Bradish died of disease at Camp East of the Capitol, Washington on January 31, 1862. Joseph J. Spence was also discharged for disability in Washington on February 10th.

The regiment's duty on the Peninsula was costly for the Michigan troopers. On May 1, 1862, Ruel V. Rounds died of brain fever at Yorktown, VA. Nelson Benson and John G. Beavington deserted the following day. The group suffered its first combat losses at Slatersville, VA on May 9th. Abel A. Irish was killed in action, and Elisha J. Ellis was captured and confined in Richmond the next day. He was paroled on August 11th, but there is no further mention of him in federal records. There was an Elisha J. Ellis with Company G, 44th Indiana Infantry, so it's possible he decided to try his fortune with the Army of the Ohio. John Dunmore deserted the day after the action at Slatersville. Wilber R. Allen was discharged for disability in Washington, D.C. on May 28th, and James H. Cory was discharged a few days later on June 3rd.

On July 6, 1862, Edgar R. Knapp, the sole doctor in the group, was appointed a hospital steward. He continued in this duty with the regiment until his discharge in 1864.

1862's campaigns took their toll on the Michigan men during that winter. William M. Palmer was discharged for disability from Camp Banks, VA on December 31st, and Philemon Finch the next day. By the end of the month, a convalescent camp had been established for the Army of the Potomac, and two more Michigan men were discharged from it before the beginning of the spring campaign. George W. Haight was discharged for disability on January 31st, and Albert C. Waggoner on April 3rd. Frederick S. Ladd offically deserted on April 12th, but had been appointed a Second Lieutenant in Company C, 9th Michigan Cavalry over a week before on April 3rd. He achieved the rank of captain and command of Company C before he was killed in battle at Cypress Swamp, GA on December 7, 1864.

The Gettysburg campaign was hard on the men from Michigan as well. At Fairfield, Pennsylvania on July 3rd, Sergeant Theodore Fox and Private William Robinson were both wounded and captured. Corporal James P. Campbell, Private Robert Craig and Private Charles H. Miller were also missing in action after the battle. Sergeant Miles L. Ten Eyck was killed in action at Williamsport, Maryland on July 6th, and Randolph R. Knapp was wounded and captured the following day in the engagement at Funkstown. Randolph Knapp returned from parole on August 17th, and William Robinson on August 30th. Sergeant Fox returned to duty on August 24th, but was discharged for disability at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania on December 10th. This was likely a result of his wound and imprisonment. The group's only other 1863 loss was Charles Blossom, who was captured at Brandy Station on October 11th.

1864 saw the end of the group's service. Beach B. Kennedy was discharged for disability on March 23rd. Charles Blossom died of disease while a prisoner at Andersonville Prison on May 22nd. Charles H. Miller also died there of disease on July 5th, after a year of imprisonment.

In September 1864, the remaining fourteen members of the group were discharged at the end of their terms of service. Not one re-enlisted. Four deserted and ten were discharged for disability. Seven of the thirty five men died during the war, or twenty percent of the total.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Michigan Men, Part I

Most histories of the 6th United States Cavalry note that the regiment was raised in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. What these histories don't mention is the portion of Company E that was recruited in Adrian, Michigan during an eleven day period in September 1861.

Second Lieutenant Stephen S. Balk, newly commissioned from the ranks, arrived in Adrian on September 8, 1861. By the time he left town on the 19th, he had enlisted 35 men into the 6th US Cavalry. Over the next few days, we'll conduct a micro-historical case study of these 35 men and their experiences before, during and in some cases after the war.

They are a fairly typical sampling of Union soldiers raised in the fall of 1861. Their median age was 22. The oldest was 35 at the time of enlistment, the youngest three were 18. They were predominantly (21) farmers, with 4 clerks, 3 carpenters, 2 blacksmiths, a mason, an engineer, a tinner, a painter and a medical doctor listed as their occupations. Atypically, only five were immigrants, two each from England and Ireland and one from Canada. Twelve were born in New York, ten in Michigan, six in Ohio, one in Pennsylvania and one in Massachusetts. The group included three sets of brothers or cousins. Their median height was 5'8", with the shortest 5'4 1/2" and the tallest 6'2".

The names of the 35 are listed below. Their Civil War experiences will be related in the next post.

Allen, Wilber A.
Beach, Edward
Beavington, John G.
Benson, Nelson
Blossom, Charles
Bradish, Warner C.
Campbell, James P.
Cory, James H.
Craig, Charles
Craig, Robert
Dierdorff, Jonas
Dunmore, John
Ellis, Elisha J.
Finch, Philemon
Fox, Theodore
Haight, George W.
Hamilton, Samuel M.
Heckman, John
Irish, Abel A.
Kasson, William O.
Kennedy, Beach B.
Knapp, Edgar R.
Knapp, Randolph R.
Ladd, Frederick
Miller, Charles H.
Palmer, William M.
Parker, John
Robinson, William
Rounds, Ruel V.
Spence, Joseph J.
Sweet, Benjamin F.
Ten Eyck, Miles L.
Ten Eyck, William
Waggoner, Albert C.
Walker, William B.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

300 and a look ahead for 2009

I hadn't meant to wait this long to get the first post of the year up, but real life has a way of claiming its due time. I noticed when I logged on this evening that my New Year's post was my 300th, and the site went over 20,000 visits last week as well. Nice to start the year off with a couple of milestones. Thank you to everyone who has visited, and especially those who keep coming back.

Posts will most likely be infrequent (best case) or nonexistent (worst case) until the 23rd. I've been recalled from retirement to active duty, and included in this is an all expense-paid trip to South Carolina to be put back into the personnel system, finance system, healthcare system, etc. This was neither involuntary nor unexpected, but preparing for the trip has consumed a good deal of my time of late. So depending on connectivity and the cooperation of my ancient laptop, maybe I'll manage a few posts in the interim. We also found and successfully bid on a house this week, which although time-consuming has come as a great relief.

As for the year ahead, I'm not one for resolutions, as they tend to wear out long before the year does. Instead I have some goals for the year for the blog, my research and other writing projects. They aren't listed in any particular order.

1. 100 posts for the year, which may be a challenge with a slow January.
2. Finish the 6th Cavalry Fiddler's Green articles, and add more diversity from the other regiments.
3. Finish my portion of the virtual battlefield project started with Craig Swain.
4. Have a magazine article accepted for publication.
5. Complete transcription and annotation of the manuscript started in 2008.
6. Feature the 4th Cavalry in 1863 on the blog to learn more of the western theater.
7. More posts explaining facets of cavalry life and tactics.
8. Finish the company muster rolls for at least 8 of the 12 companies of the 6th Cavalry.

The blog format will remain the same for now. I'm considering switching to a different service, but am not yet convinced. I haven't had any problems with this one other than the ability to post separate pages, and have thought of a workaround or two that might work. We'll see.

See you on the high ground, either this week or next.