Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fiddler’s Green – Jeremiah C. Denney

Jeremiah C. Denney was born in Mallow, Ireland about 1834, and emigrated to the United States at an early age. He enlisted in Company D, 2nd U.S. Cavalry on March 15, 1855, as the newly-created regiment initially filled its ranks. A 22 year old currier, he was enlisted by Lieutenant Buford in Louisville, Kentucky for a term of 5 years. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’ 5” tall, with fair hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. He was promoted to corporal in November of the same year before transferring to the regimental band. Denney was appointed Chief Bugler of the regiment on August 1, 1858.

Chief Bugler Denney was reenlisted at Camp Cooper, Texas on January 15, 1860 by Lieutenant Richard S. Lord. Four months later, he was appointed the regimental sergeant major, and served in that capacity during the regiment’s exodus from Texas when that state seceded the following year.

During the summer and fall of 1861, he participated in General Patterson’s Shenandoah campaign, seeing action at Falling Waters, Martinsburg and Bunker Hill. He served with the regiment training in the defenses of Washington, D.C. during the winter of 1861.

In March of 1862, he and his regiment moved to the peninsula with the rest of the Army of the Potomac. He was engaged in the nearly daily skirmishes during the army’s advance toward Richmond following the battle of Williamsburg in early May.
He was so badly wounded during the regiment’s fatal charge at Gaines’ Mill in July that he was transferred to the general service and assigned duties as a clerk in the War Department. Upon recovery from his wounds, however, he returned to the regiment. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the 5th Cavalry to date from July 17, 1862, and promoted to first lieutenant to date from the same day. These promotions took time to be approved and forwarded to the regiment, however.

He physically returned to the regiment itself, as opposed to its rolls, in September 1862, in time for the Rappahannock and Maryland campaigns. Following the battle of Antietam, he saw action at Halltown, Upperville, Markham’s Station, Barbee’s Crossroads and Amissville. Lieutenant Denney was assigned as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company H until October 16, 1862, when he was assigned to Company B at the same rank until February 19, 1863.

Assignments didn’t always match duties, however. Lieutenant Denney served as company commander for Company B and acting regimental quartermaster during the winter of 1862 near Falmouth, Virginia. He left on a sick leave of absence from April until June, returning before the battle of Brandy Station. He fought with his regiment throughout the Gettysburg campaign and subsequent pursuit, including the second battle at Brandy Station on August 1st.

Once his promotion orders were received by the regiment, he returned to Company H as a 1st lieutenant, and served there until August 31st. He was then transferred to Company G, where he was assigned for the remainder of the war.

In September he led a detachment from the regiment to Point Lookout, Maryland, where he served until July 1864, when he and the detachment returned to the regiment in time for the battle of Deep Bottom.

First Lieutenant Denney commanded the entire regiment, minus the three companies serving as escort to General Grant, during numerous engagements with the Reserve Brigade in the Shenandoah Valley from July 28 to August 31, 1864. He also earned a brevet of captain at the battle of Cedar Creek for gallant and meritorious service on October 19, 1864.

Lieutenant Denney served near Winchester during the winter of 1864, and participated in Sheridan’s expedition to rejoin the Army of the Potomac in the spring of 1865, as well as the pursuit from Petersburg toward Appomattox. He was captured in the battle of Five Forks on March 30, 1865, and reported himself as a paroled prisoner of war on April 3rd.

He rejoined the regiment on May 1st, and remained in command until June 25th. He marched with the regiment to Cumberland, Maryland in June, where it remained until January 1866. On July 28, 1866, he was promoted to captain and assigned command of Company A. Captain Denney joined his new company on reconstruction duty in North Carolina in August. He served in Raleigh, Kingston, Asheville and Morganton until September 1868, when the regiment was transferred to Kansas.

After action in three different engagements in October, Denney fell seriously ill. He was in hospital at Fort Wallace, Kansas from November 1, 1868 to February 3, 1869. During the fall, he was recommended by Generals Merritt and Emory for a brevet of major gallant and meritorious service during the Gettysburg campaign, but it was never approved. At some point during this winter, his wife died, and her loss hit Denney particularly hard. He rejoined his company at Fort Lyon, Colorado and marched with it to Fort McPherson, Nebraska, fighting skirmishes at Beaver Creek and Spring Creek along the march.

Against the judgment of his superiors, he accompanied the Republican River expedition of 1869. Although somewhat impaired mentally from the loss of his wife, it was hoped that active field service would restore his health. This unfortunately proved not to be the case, and he was relieved from command of his company and escorted back to Fort McPherson.

Captain Jeremiah Denney died at Fort McPherson, Nebraska on June 12, 1869, and is buried in Fort McPherson National Cemetery, in present day Maxwell, Nebraska. His pension was claimed by his minor dependent and presumed stepson, John Bolin, on June 6, 1873, according to pension records.

A contemporary described Denney as “a man of generous impulses, faithful to his friendships, and esteemed by those who knew him as a gallant officer and courteous gentleman.”

Price, George F. Across the Continent with the Fifth Cavalry. Pgs 409-411.
Heitman, pg 367
Henry, Volume I, pg 146
Regimental Muster Rolls
U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, as accessed on

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chickamauga Cavalry Excerpt

I was delighted to find an excerpt from David Powell's upcoming book Failure in the Saddle in the Fall 2010 edition of CWPT's Hallowed Ground. Powell is one of the two or three most knowledgeable people I am aware of on the Chickamauga campaign, and I've really been looking forward to the release of his book. We're inside my household's holiday book-purchasing moratorium window, so I'll have to wait a few more weeks, but the excerpt provided an excellent preview.

Powell's article focuses on the fight at Reed's Bridge near the outset of the battle. Elements of Minty's and Wilder's cavalry brigades held off advancing Confederate infantry at critical fords, providing important time for Union forces to react to the enemy advance. This has long been one of the most interesting parts of the battle to me, as there were several conflicting reports of just what happened in this fight by eyewitnesses after the war. There was quite a debate in the National Tribune across several issues. Some I've been able to locate, some I'm still looking for. A very romanticized version of the 4th U.S. Cavalry's participation in the fight can be found in James Larson's Sergeant Larson, 4th Cav., but the accuracy of this account has ben questioned.

If the quality of this article is indicative of the book itself, readers are in for a treat. Powell successfully weaves numerous (sometimes conflicting) firsthand accounts of a confusing series of skirmishes into a cohesive story that is as informative as it is entertaining.

The article can be found online here, and the book itself can be purchased from Savas-Beatie online here. David Powell's excelent Chickamauga blog can be found here, and in the blog list to the left side of this page.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


After a great deal of time, trouble and tribulation, i am once again back to the blogosphere. A number of work and family issues seriously affected my ability to post the last couple of months, but that should all be behind me now, and I'm looking forward to a bit of writing therapy here on the blog.

Fortunately work has continued on the 6th Cav manuscript during my absence, so we hope to have it before a publisher very soon. I still need to finish the Fairfield Dead series, and was inspired to compile a biographical sketch of the 4th Cavalry's Wirt Davis by a recent magazine article/ book excerpt to be discussed in the near future. A review of Eric Wittenberg's book on Brandy Station (see interview here)and David Powell's Failure in the Saddle will also be appearing before long.

Something happened to the link for Mike Block's Today at Brandy Station blog, but that has now been fixed.

It's very good to be back, I'm looking forward to posting.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fairfield Dead - Edson S. Cook

Edson Cook was born in Circleville, Pickaway county, Ohio in 1845. Something happened to his father when he was a young child. According to the 1850 census, he was living with his mother at a cabinetmaker’s in Circleville. In 1860, he was working as a confectioner for R. Ball in Troy township, Richland county, Ohio and attending school.

Despite his youth, Edson hurried to enlist at the outbreak of the war. He was enlisted into the 6th U.S. Cavalry by Lieutenant James Wade in Columbus, Ohio on July 22, 1861. His enlistment documents describe him as 16 years old, 5’ 1 ¾” tall, with brown hair, hazel eyes, and a ruddy complexion. Wade enlisted most of the regiment's buglers, several younger than Edson.

Edson was eventually assigned to Company I as a bugler, probably because of his age and size. He served there throughout the Peninsula and Antietam campaigns, and served with the regiment during a long cold winter of picket duty along the Rappahannock in 1863. The regimental rolls also show him as present for Stoneman’s Raid, Brandy Station, and the several cavalry fights on the march north to Pennsylvania.

On July 3rd, the regiment was sent on a mission behind enemy lines to Fairfield, Pennsylvania to capture a Confederate supply train. When the command reached the town without encountering the train, Edson’s squadron was detached under Captain George C. Cram to search for it while the remainder of the regiment moved toward Orrtanna.

A short time later, the squadron heard the sounds of gunfire. Judging from its volume that the regiment was engaged, Captain Cram turned his command and rode to the sound of the guns. They arrived to see the Confederates overrunning the regiment, and the two companies charged to the aid of their comrades. Vastly outnumbered, they were driven off with heavy losses. Riding at the head of the company, Captain Cram and his two buglers were very exposed. Captain Cram and Bugler Andrew J. Orm were both captured. Bugler Cook was killed, though initially listed as missing in the regimental rolls.

Edson S. Cook is believed to be buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery, in one of several graves marked for unknown members of the regiment killed there. His pension was claimed after the war by his mother, Ellen.

Note: Cook is sometimes identified in records as Edwin S. Cook.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fairfield Dead - William R. Reynolds

William R. Reynolds was born in Laporte, Indiana in 1838. He spent his teenage years working on the farm of James Greenwood in Springfield township, Laporte County, according to census records. He was probably still working here at the outbreak of the Civil War, though he does not appear in the 1860 census.

On June 19, 1861, William enlisted as a private in Company D, 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The company was organized in nearby Norwalk, Ohio. He served with this unit for over a year, including the Peninsula campaign.

During the battle of Antietam in September 1862, William was wounded. His regiment saw some of the heaviest fighting in the battle, suffering nearly 50% casualties. This was apparently enough of infantry life for William and many others. The following month, recovered from his wound, he transferred to the cavalry.

Reynolds enlisted as a private in Company C, 6th U.S. Cavalry on October 23, 1862. He was sworn in by Lieutenant Albert Coats at Knoxville, Maryland, while his regiment was stationed at nearby Harpers Ferry. His enlistment documents describe him as 5'7" tall, with light hair, gray eyes, and a light complexion.

Private Reynolds survived the battle of Brandy Station unscathed, but was not so lucky the following month. He was part of Lieutenant Joseph Bould's squadron at the battle of Fairfield, which served as the regimental reserve. Seeing the regiment being overrun by a charge of the 6th Virginia Cavalry, Bould charged with his squadron in an attempt to stem the tide. Unsuccessful, the squadron was routed and pursued. Reynolds was most likely killed in the charge or the ensuing pursuit.

William Reynolds is buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"New" Blog - Today at Brandy Station

While I was sleeping, another new blog started up, this one focused on Brandy Station and Culpeper County, VA. The link for Today at Brandy Station can be found here. I met Mike Block several years ago when doing some research on Kelly's Ford, and found him to be very personable and extremely knowledgeable about the Brandy Station area, particularly the winter encampment of 1864. I'll be adding this one to my blogroll shortly. A belated welcome to the blogosphere, Mike!

Fairfield dead - John Pattinson

I've decided to do a brief series on the soldiers of the 6th U.S. Cavalry who were killed at the battle of Fairfield, PA on July 3, 1863. The first of these is Sergeant John Pattinson of Company M.

John Pattinson was born in Westmoreland County, England. He immigrated to the United States with his family, settling on a farm in Pennsylvania. He was working on the family farm in Carbon creek, Erie County, Pennsylvania according to the 1860 census.

He was enlisted into Company M by Captain Hays in Pittsburgh, PA on September 23, 1861. His enlistment documents describe him as 22 years old, 5’ 7 ½ “ tall, with brown hair, grey eyes, and a florid complexion. Pattinson earned promotion to Sergeant prior to the fight at Fairfield. He was wounded during the battle and later died of his wounds.

Sergeant Pattinson is buried in the National Cemetery at Gettysburg.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gettysburg Weekend

My father-in-law and I had a fantastic visit to Gettysburg this past weekend. Since he had never been there, my wife and I decided a couple of years ago that it would make a good 70th birthday present, so off we went. The fact that my birthday last week as well of course had absolutely nothing to do with it....

We arrived Thursday evening, and turned in early after dinner at Gettysburg Eddie's and a quick visit to a deserted Reliance Mine Saloon.

Knowing how overwhelming the battlefield can be to the uninitiated, I'd reserved a tour through the Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides to provide an orientation to the field and overview of the battle. I've visited enough times to cover the basics pretty well, but not nearly as well as they do. Our guide, Paul Bauserman, did an excellent job with the tour, the best of the three times I've used the service, which says quite a lot.

On my previous visits to the area, I hadn't visited the site of the battle of Fairfield, so armed with our trusty Complete Gettysburg Guide and a draft driving tour that Eric Wittenburg was kind enough to provide for proofing, we headed for Fairfield.

We had lunch at the historic Fairfield Inn, then moved out to the battlefield. I took pictures of the inn and a couple of other buildings significant to the battle or its aftermath, but due to an oversight managed to miss the building where Lieutenant Balder of the 6th U.S. Cavalry reportedly died. Despite Eric providing the street address. Argh. Thanks to the directions, it was quite easy to find this time, and I was able to gain a much better mental picture of how the battle progressed.

Afterward, we returned to Gettysburg and stopped by the national cemetery to pay our respects to the troopers from the regular cavalry regiments (primarily the 6th) who are buried there.

After a few more stops along the sites of some Day 1 fighting, we did some tourist treasure-hunting and called it a day. We had dinner at O'Rorke's, where I'm not sure I've ever seen more food on a single plate in my life, and stopped by the Mine on our way back to the hotel.

I'd corresponded with Craig and Harry since they were in the area during the weekend to attempt a link up. Harry was busy doing productive things with the Saving Historic Antietam Foundation, but Craig emailed that he'd be up on Saturday. We coordinated to meet for lunch.

We began our second day on the field with a drive through Day 2's fighting on the southern side of the field. Moving up toward the Pennsylvania monument, I rediscovered (oxymoron?) the Regulars Monument, which I hadn't photographed before. Probably because Jenny Goellnitz' website always has better pictures than mine anyway. We stopped for a couple of pictures and drove on.

It's fortunate that we did, for who did we chance upon 200 yards further down the road, but Craig himself, spotted appropriately enough near some cannon. Remembering the picture-taking failure of the Longwood trip, we quickly remedied the situation. There really isn't an informally designated photo place at Gettysburg like there is at the cannon in front of the visitor's center at Antietam, so we just picked one and handed the camera to my father-in-law.

Craig had completed his work recording markers in town, and we decided to take a look at the markers near South Cavalry Field. Most I had visited before, but I hadn't seen the marker denoting the detachment of the 1st and 2nd US Cavalry on Merritt's left flank, which Craig was able to point out for us. I was able to get pictures of all 3 of my own 2nd US Cavalry's markers on the field.

Craig also offered a good perspective on the fight itself, but that's a post for another time. After an obligatory tromp along Pickett's Charge and lunch at the Appalachian Brewing Company, Craig headed for York County. Tony and I headed back to Little Round Top and the Pennsylvania Monument, which for some reason I had never been up in before. Coming down, we took this picture that appears to belie 1864 claims by the Cavalry Bureau that cavalry horses didn't grow on trees, also known as the monument to the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry, one of my favorites.

We stopped by the new visitor's center late in the afternoon before driving back to Baltimore. I miss the old one, but I haven't made up my mind whether I'm for or against the new one. Our intent was to spend as much time as possible on the field, so it was largely irrelevant to our trip.

All in all, we had a great time. Thanks again to Craig for his generosity in spending hours tooling around the battlefield and educating us about Civil War artillery.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sheridan's Second Raid, A Doctor's Perspective

The second of the physician's viewpoint articles on Sheridan's 1864 raids, this one focuses on his second raid. These were the observations of Surgeon R.W. Pease:

“On the evening of June 6th, I was directed to make preparations for a movement of the 1st and 2nd divisions of this corps, which would probably involve an absence of several weeks. Orders were given by the Major General commanding that but four ambulances to each division and two for headquarters should accompany the expedition. Instructions were immediately issued to have one ambulance loaded for each division, and an army wagon was well-filled with supplies of all kinds, and taken with the headquarter train. The command marched on the morning of June 7th, crossing the Pamunkey river at New Castle ferry, and moved towards the Virginia Central railroad, intending to strike it near Trevillian Station. Our march was uninterrupted until the morning of the 11th, when, about for miles east of Trevillian Station, we came upon the enemy in force. The engagement continued with great fury until about four o’clock P.M., the rebels being driven about five miles beyond the railroad. Our loss was about one hundred and sixty wounded. These, with about seventy wounded rebels, were brought to our field hospital, and every possible attention given to them. At eleven o’clock P.M., all but thirty-six severely wounded were placed in army wagons and moved to the station. Those left were placed in charge of Assistant Surgeon R. Rae, 1st New York Dragoons, with whom five hospital attendants and rations for five days were left, with medical supplies in sufficient quantity for immediate wants. The greater part of the 12th was occupied in destroying the railroad. At five o’clock P.M., the enemy was found about three miles west of the station in a strong position, entrenched and fully prepared for an attack. A spirited engagement ensued, which continued until after dark. Our loss, in this attack, amounted to about three hundred and sixty-six wounded. Our hospital was established at the station in a large and commodious building. Orders were received about eleven o’clock P.M. to be ready to move our wounded by midnight. Thirty army and twelve ammunition wagons were assigned for this purpose. All who could not be transported in these wagons and in our ten ambulances were placed in carriages and other vehicles, which we had impressed on our route. In addition to our own wounded, we had about forty severely wounded rebels. All were brought along on our return except the rebels, the thirty-six wounded left after the first day’s fight, and ninety-four severely wounded on the 12th. The latter were left at Trevillian Station in charge of Assistant Surgeon Stickler, 10th New York Cavalry, and Assistant Surgeon Powell, 1st New York Cavalry. One hospital steward and seven attendants were left with them, with rations for three days and nearly all the remainder of our medical supplies. Our train of wounded was at once fully organized, and six medical officers detached to attend it. On the 19th, we reached King and Queen Court-house, and from thence sent the wounded to Washington, via West Point. Seven of the wounded died before reaching Washington. On the morning of the 20th, we resumed our march for White House, Virginia, being hastened by a message stating that that place had been attacked. We made the march of twenty miles in four hours, but found the enemy had been repulsed. On the 21st, the corps moved to Jones’ bridge, skirmishing nearly all day. Thirty-seven were wounded. Five or six of the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry fell into the hands of the enemy; two were wounded by bushwhackers; making a total loss of forty-five men. Orders were received to send our sick and wounded to Washington the next day. Forty wounded and eleven sick were sent accordingly. On the 23d, during a skirmish near Jones’ bridge, on the Chickahominy, we had four killed and nine wounded. We received into our hospital tent ten of the 28th U.S. Colored Troops, wounded at the same time. On the 24th, the 2d division was attacked by the rebel cavalry while on the St. Mary’s church road, parallel to the Charles City Court-house road, on which a train of eight hundred wagons, left at White House for this command to guard to the James river, was moving. The division was driven back to Charles City Court-house, and lost about two hundred men. The severely wounded fell into the hand sof the enemy. On the 26th, I received an order from General Sheridan to go with the wounded and sick to Washington.”

Source: Barnes, Joseph K. The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (1861-1865), Volume 1. Washington: Government Printing Office: 1870.Page 180.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Scott Patchan's new blog

A warm welcome to the blogosphere for Scott Patchan's new blog, Shenandoah 1864. The topic should be obvious, and Scott is one of the foremost experts on the subject. I found his Shenandoah Summer an excellent read, and look forward to an upcoming book on Third Winchester. He's also a very informative speaker, as I was fortunate enough to see him present at the Longwood University seminar last month (see entry below).

His first post is an interesting piece on Colonel James Mulligan at Second Kernstown. I think you'll enjoy it.

Welcome, Scott. I look forward to reading many more great posts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An Irish tune on St. Patrick's Day

In honor of St. Patrick’s day I thought I’d do something a bit different than the Kelly’s Ford battle. The tune “Garry Owen” is often related to the cavalry, although during the war it was the march of the 69th New York infantry. It was later particularly associated with the 7th Cavalry. Custer reportedly heard it sung among his Irish troopers and liked it so much that it became adopted as the unofficial regimental march.

The song’s lyrics have changed a great deal over time. This morning we’ll look at three of them. Here are the song’s ‘original’ lyrics, the ones Custer most likely heard:

Let Bacchus' sons be not dismayed
But join with me, each jovial blade
Come, drink and sing and lend your aid
To help me with the chorus:

Instead of spa, we'll drink brown ale
And pay the reckoning on the nail;
No man for debt shall go to jail
From Garryowen in glory.

We'll beat the bailiffs out of fun,
We'll make the mayor and sheriffs run
We are the boys no man dares dun
If he regards a whole skin.


Our hearts so stout have got us fame
For soon 'tis known from whence we came
Where'er we go they fear the name
Of Garryowen in glory.


After the battle of Little Big Horn, the 7th Cavalry developed their own new lyrics to the tune. The leader of the element would sing the lines of the verses, and the group would yell back “Sgt. Flynn” at the end of each of those lines. According to some reports, this version was sung by the elements of the 7th Cavalry at Wounded Knee.

I can hear those Sioux bucks singing, Sgt. Flynn
I can hear those tom-toms ringing, Sgt. Flynn
I can hear those Sioux bucks singing,
I can here those tom-toms ringing,
But they don't yet know the tune to Garry Owen.

Garry Owen, Garry Owen, Garry Owen
In the valley of Montana all alone
There are better days to be
In the seventh cavalry
When we charge again For dear old Garry Owen.

It's first call I hear it sounding, Sgt. Flynn
And it sounds like taps a-rounding, Sgt. Flynn
Oh me lads, here's something fancy
Take a break, it's Private Clancy
And you'll feel better when he strikes up Garry Owen


For it's Boots and Saddles sounding, Sgt. Flynn
Along the line the men are bounding, Sgt. Flynn
So let' saddle-up and fall in
For the trumpets are callin'
And the band is tuning up for Garry Owen.

For it's forward we're advancing, Sgt. Flynn
And the breeze guides are a-lancing, Sgt. Flynn
Walk, trot, gallop, charge by thunder,
We will ride those cut throats under.
Drive your sabers to the hilt for Garry Owen.


We are ambushed and surrounded, Sgt. Flynn
Yet recall has not been sounded, Sgt. Flynn
Gather round me and we'll rally
Make one last stand in the valley
For the Seventh Regiment and Garry Owen.


You are cut, and scalped, and battered, Sgt. Flynn
All your men are dead and scattered, Sgt. Flynn
I will make your bed tomorrow
With my head bowed down in sorrow.
O'er your grave, I'll whistle Taps and Garry Owen.

The 7th’s version of the lyrics changed over time, and by 1905 they looked like this. I believe these are the same lyrics later adopted as the offical tune for both the 7th Cavalry Regiment and the 1st Cavalry Division.

We are the pride of the Army
And a regiment of great renown,
Our Name's on the pages of History.
From sixty-six on down.
If you think we stop or falter
While into the fray we're going
Just watch the steps with our heads erect,
While our band plays Garryowen.

In the Fighting Seventh's the place for me,
Its the cream of all the Cavalry;
No other regiment ever can claim
Its pride, honor, glory and undying fame.

We know fear when stern duty
Calls us far away from home,
Our country's flag shall safely o'er us wave,
No matter where we roam.
‘Tis the gallant 7th Cavalry
It matters not where we are going"
Such you'll surely say as we march away;
And our band plays Garryowen.


Then hurrah for our brave commanders!
Who led us into the fight.
We'll do or die in our country's cause,
And battle for the right.
And when the war is o'er,
And to our home we're goin
Just watch your step, with our heads erect,
When our band plays Garryowen.


Civil War Cavalry Seminar

I really enjoyed this event at Longwood University in Farmville, VA on February 27th. It looked to be a quality event when I saw the ads, and it more than lived up to my expectations. I'm happy to say that the event was very well attended --- indeed, standing room only for some. It's nice to see events like these continue to grow in popularity. Patrick Shroeder, the NPS Historian at Appomattox National Historical Park and his staff put on a first-rate event and should be commended, as should Dr. David J. Coles, the chair of Longwood's history department, for playing host.

I arrived to the location a bit early, and was able to finally meet Eric Wittenberg of Rantings of a Civil War Historian (see link at left) in person. He was very gracious, and introduced me to many of the attendees. I was also pleasantly surprised that Craig Swain of To The Sound of the Guns was able to make it. It was great to get to "meet" him again, since although we correspond frequently we hadn't actually seen each other since visiting a certain sandy place in a hurry over 15 years ago.

Bert Dunkerly, one of the rangers at Appomattox, had the unenviable task of leading off the presentations with a talk on cavalry horsepower and firepower. The talk intrigued me enough that I'm in the process of gathering materials for a series of articles on the same topic here.

Unfortunately Jeffry Wert was unable to attend due to severe weather in Pennsylvania, so the order of the presentations changed slightly. Eric's presentation on Phil Sheridan, originally scheduled for the afternoon, shifted to the morning. I had never before heard the famous "Sheridan rant," as he referred to it, and found it very interesting. I'm not a huge fan of Sheridan myself, but hadn't heard such a well researched case against him before. I was interested enough to buy the book, which I read in its entirety on the flight home. It sparked a few thoughts that may soon grace this blog as well.

After a brief lunch, Clark "Bud" Hall spoke on the battle of Brandy Station. The acknowledged dean of Brandy Station, his definitive work on the battle, "Sabers Across the Rappahannock," is forthcoming from UNC Press. Bud gave a very good talk on the "Daremark Line" and the strategic context of the battle instead of focusing on leaders and charges.

Eric then went again with a presentation on Jeb Stuart. This was based on the book "Plenty of Blame to Go Around," which he co-wrote with J.D. Petruzzi of Hoofbeats and Cold Steel . I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and the presentation was excellent as well.

Scott Patchan was the final presenter, with a talk on the cavalry during the 1864 Valley Campaign. I was really looking forward to this one, as I had only recently read his book "Shenandoah Summer" and enjoyed it a great deal. His talk was very informative.

Following the seminar, I was fortunate enough to be invited to dinner with Eric and Susan Wittenberg and Bud Hall and his companion, Kim, in Lynchburg. Unfortunately I can't recall the name of the restaurant. i thought it was the "Mill Spring," but I don't think that is correct. It was a very pleasant conclusion to a great Civil War day.

Due to an early Sunday morning flight, I had to depart right after dinner to drive back to the airport. I then became but the latest U.S. cavalryman to have difficulties entering Richmond, although in my defense I was one of the few who tried it from the west side. I was able to reach the hotel with only minor problems due to my "shortcut," and flew home the next morning with no problems.

All in all, a very good time, and well worth the trip. Thanks again to everyone.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Civil War Cavalry Conference in VA This Weekend

I thought I had posted about this long since. As originally posted on Eric's blog weeks ago, the 11th annual Civil War seminar at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia is this Saturday. The title of this year's seminar is "The Cavalry: Weapons, Leaders, and Battles." It is free of charge and open to the public.

The list of presenters is a veritable who's who of experts. Robert Dunkerly, one of the rangers at Appomattox, will present on horsepower and firepower. Eric Wittenberg will present on Sheridan, and Jeffry Wert on Jeb Stuart. Bud Hall will present on Brandy Station, and Scott Patchan will present on cavalry operations in the Shenandoah Valley in 1864. Wittenberg, Patchan and Hall are all due for new books in the not too distant future, so we may see and hear some new material as well. It looks to be a fantastic conference.

Due to a very understanding boss and a great deal of overtime recently, I will actually be able to attend this one. I'm really looking forward to it, and hope to see some of you there.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Perhaps it's due to the infrequency of my posts of late, but I have recently become besieged by spam comments to several of my posts. Given that this isn't a widely read blog in the first place, these numbers are getting more and more rampant. Several posts are now receiving more than 30 such comments each per day. The post on Edwin S. Fitzhenry is currently leading, closely followed by Back in the Saddle and the Civil War Cavalry Forum, for those keeping score at home.

I selected comment moderation quite some time ago to keep the comments off the blog, but this currently means that my email inbox is flooding with all of these specious comments. Does anyone out there have any ideas that might help? It's getting to the point where I don't log onto the blog daily because I don't want to deal with the comments.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sheridan's First Richmond Raid - A Doctor's Perspective

During the summer of 1864, the Reserve Brigade accompanied the rest of the 1st Division of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac on both of Sheridan's "Richmond Raids." I recently came across the reports of the corps surgeon for each of the two raids, and thought the perspectives of these surgeons were interesting. The assistant surgeon Rogers mentioned was the regimental surgeon for the 6th U.S. Cavalry, who were serving as Sheridan's escort during the raid. Assistant Surgeon George McGill of the U.S. Army was the acting corps surgeon on the first raid, and his report follows:

“On the 9th day of May, Surgeon Pease being too sick for mounted duty, I was made acting medical director by Major General Sheridan. The corps was, at that time, upon the march, and numbered about nine thousand mounted men. There was one ambulance at the headquarters of the corps, and the batteries of the artillery had each an ambulance, in which, however, the mess things of the artillery officers and their bedding were carried; the ambulance boxes contained the usual supply of beef stock, etc. Thirty-one ammunition wagons were with the command, all heavily laden, but not the less adapted to ambulance service, for, as was afterwards shown, an engagement used up ammunition enough to make it possible to carry such of the wounded men as were cases to bring along, and yet unable to ride their horses. Each medical officer had a field companion, and each regiment was provided with the field register. During the five days in which we had no communication, the medicines and dressings on hand were used up, but a supply of dressings were obtained by a foraging party. The wounded were abundantly fed by foraging. As the corps headquarters was the most stable position in the command, it was ordered that all the wounded who were able to ride their horses should be sent thither. Acting Assistant Surgeon Rogers was placed in charge of these men, and Acting Assistant Surgeon McGuigan ordered to report to him. After a capture of three rebel wagons and three ambulances, made upon the night of the 9th of May, a corps ambulance train was organized, and the same officer put in charge. As the number of our wounded increased, the battery ambulances, with such spring wagons as could be appropriated in the corps or taken from inhabitants of the country, were added to the train, which finally assumed formidable proportions, and presented a remarkable appearance from the variety of vehicles embraced in it. The first engagement was on the telegraph road approaching Childsburg; an affair of the rear guard, in which, however, we lost heavily. Many of the wounded were captured by the enemy, but nineteen were saved and transported in ammunition wagons. On the night of the 9th and morning of the 10th, we had twenty men and officers wounded in skirmishing. During the afternoon of the 11th, the battle of Yellow Tavern was fought, an engagement in which the whole corps was concerned. Our corps hospital was established half a mile in the rear of the centre; it was under fire part of the time, but there was no situation within our lines that was not. It was thoroughly organized with a surgeon in charge, operators, dressers and recorders. The night and day following this battle was extremely trying for the wounded, as the corps moved during the night to near Meadow bridge, within the outer defences of Richmond, and fought all the day. On the 12th, the corps was engaged on three sides. On the left, facing Richmond, the 3d division was engaged with one of the rebel fortifications. On the right, the 2d division contended against a heavy force of infantry, while the 1st division built a bridge over the Chickahominy, and forced a passage in the face of the cavalry force defeated by the corps the day before. The wounded from these points were sent to the corps train after being carefully dressed. Most of the cases saved were brought off on horseback, as all our ambulances were already overloaded. Our loss was comparatively light, forty men in all being wounded in the 2d and 3d divisions. On the afternoon and evening of the same day, the corps fought at Mechanicsville, and, during the two days following, marched to Haxall’s landing, which was reached on the afternoon of the 14th. During these days, surgeons were detailed night and morning to dress and attend to the wounded. As soon as Medical Director McCormick heard of our arrival, he sent a transport well fitted up for the wounded. While lying at Haxall’s, nearly three hundred men were sent to general hospital, two hundred ten of whom were wounded. Much needed medical supplies were here obtained for the corps. From Haxall’s, we moved to White House, where fifty-seven sick and wounded were sent to general hospital. On the 18th, while lying at Baltimore stores, an expedition was made by Brigadier General Custer, who cut the Richmond and Fredericksburg railroad near Hanover Court-house. In this expedition, two men were wounded, one of whom was lost. Crossing the Pamunkey river, the corps next marched to Dunkirk, on the Mattapony, thence to our wagon train, near Milford Station. In all there were about three hundred and eighty men wounded during the expedition, of whom about two hundred and eighty-five were secured.

Source: Barnes, Joseph K. The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, Volume 1. Washington, Government Printing Office: 1870. Pages 179-180.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Civil War Times Illustrated Lookups Available

Ever come across a reference from an old magazine that doesn't seem to be available anywhere? Well, if so, shooting me a note might be helpful to some readers of this blog. I was fortunate enough to come across the hardbound twentieth anniversary printing of CWTI this weekend. 1961-2 to 1981-2 in 20 volumes for a quite reasonable price. And it was my wife's idea to pick it up instead of asking where I would put it. So if you're looking for something, let me know.

Also, if anyone's looking for a complete set of the OR, I know a bookseller who would really like to get one out of his store.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Of Maps and Manuscripts

I've encountered a question that hopefully learned readers of this blog will be able to assist me with, to wit: at what point do maps enter into the publication process for manuscripts?

This question leads to a host of other related questions, which are all the more interesting to me given that the most often viewed complaint during reviews of historical works (particularly military ones) is a lack of maps. Is it the author's job to find a cartographer and arrange for maps, or the publisher? Is a publisher even interested in looking at a manuscript without maps? Who pays the cartographer? Should the author make rough maps for clarity before beginning the search for a cartographer?

Far more questions than answers, but perhaps this will spark a discussion.


A hearty if belated congratulations to fellow blogger Mannie Gentile of A Year of Living Rangerously (see list to the left). Mannie was recently picked up as a full time NPS Ranger at Antietam National Battlefield. Congratulations, Mannie!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Making Progress

Yes, it's a new year, and a great deal of progress is being made, not that one could tell from looking at this blog. My professional organizer wife has informed me that January is national "GO" month (GO= Get Organized), which given the disarray my historical files are in, seemed like an excellent deal. The bad news is that it feels like it's taking forever. The good news is that I'm turning up all sorts of material that I've been meaning to post, so there should be a great deal of traffic here shortly.

The manuscript on the 6th Cavalry, where I spent most of my time over the holidays, continues to grow at an alarming rate. We should have the last few sources in place by the end of March, then the great whittling project begins to reduce it to something resembling publishing size. Unfortunately, Jim just left for New York to resume flying, so we're down to mail and email collaboration, but we still hope to start querying publishers by the end of the summer.

We're putting together a Little Big Horn staff ride at work, so I've been doing a good bit of background bio on some of the officers, nearly every one of which served in the Civil War, so it's likely relevant odds and ends from that project will show up here as well.

No grand posting of topics for the new year, as that panned out rather dismally last year. My production was terrible, so most of those topics still need to be covered. I will simply say that this year I'll do better.