...I'm in a wedding and a golf tournament. No rest for the weary. I'll try to get some stuff up if I get a chance.
The Harper's Ferry Arsenal has been updated. Mod-maker extraordinaire Tim has created an Officer Sprites mod for use with Bull Run: Take Command 1861. These officers take the place of your flag bearer in the game.
Now that I've finished He Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning, I'll be moving on to David Welker's Tempest at Ox Hill. Unlike Taylor's book, I have read Welker's at a prior date. It has been awhile, but I know for a fact that it compares favorably to Taylor's book. I've got a busy few weeks ahead of me with several weddings to attend, but I think I should have Welker's book finished over the next two weeks or so worst case. As always, feel free to follow along with me. I'll have my notes and vignettes on each chapter, commenting all the way. If anyone has read Tempest at Ox Hill and would like to comment at the bottom of this entry, feel free. I'll be comparing and contrasting the two books on Ox Hill after I've reviewed Welker's book. Who knows, I may also have to try to get my hands on Mauro's book as well some time down the road and revisit this topic.
He Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning: The Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly) September 1, 1862. Paul Taylor. Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Books (2003). 179 pp. 8 maps.
This is a review and summary of Paul Taylor’s book He Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning: The Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly) September 1, 1862. In this book, Taylor describes the small but fierce Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly), which occurred only two days after the Second Battle of Manassas, and the results and consequences of the battle. Taylor’s book is one of three books that have covered the battle of Ox Hill in the past five years. The others include David Welker’s Tempest at Ox Hill: The Battle of Chantilly and Charles V. Mauro’s The Battle of Chantilly (Ox Hill: A Monumental Storm). At first I was a little hesitant about buying this one because White Mane Books published it. White Mane has been known in the past to publish books that used questionable or non-existent research. In any event, I decided to give this one a chance based on its own merits. Taylor describes the Second Manassas Campaign prior to Chantilly in an introductory chapter, and then moves on to cover August 30-September 2 in the rest of the book, with an emphasis on the actual tactical maneuvers during the Battle of Ox Hill on September 1. The book is rather short at only 179 pages. There are 8 maps, with a good mix of strategic and tactical maps. However, the maps do not go into the level of detail I usually prefer. All in all, this was a fairly standard account of the battle. I believe a more definitive account can probably be written.
In the early chapters, Taylor covers the events leading up to the start of the battle. He gives a brief overview of the Second Manassas Campaign through the close of the Battle of Second Manassas on August 30, 1862. Pope and his Union Army of Virginia then retreated to the formidable fortifications surrounding Centreville. Lee and Jackson, as they had done earlier in the Campaign, decided to flank Pope on his right. Jackson marched north from the battlefield, and then took the Little River Turnpike ESE in an attempt to cut off the Federal retreat route somewhere near Germantown and Fairfax CH. Jackson’s men, tired from marching and fighting, hungry from the lack of food, and contending with a steady rain, marched poorly (for them anyway). The Union Cavalry at this time was almost completely broken down, so Pope had to rely on infantry units to try to find the Confederates. Jackson stopped at Ox Hill, several miles west of Germantown. Taylor mentions that he could have either attacked Germantown or he could have moved south to try to cut the Warrenton Pike, Pope’s main retreat route. Instead, he did neither. Taylor believes that Jackson and Lee had probably planned this halt if Jackson saw evidence of a Yankee buildup. His 15,000 men didn’t want to end up fighting the whole Union Army alone. Late in the day on August 31, “Jeb” Stuart shelled a Union wagon train along Warrenton Pike. Taylor believes this was a major mistake in that it alerted the Federals to a Confederate presence along Little River Turnpike. Regardless, on September 1, Pope did finally start concentrating some men in the Germantown area, and he sent IX Corps and III Corps north toward Ox Hill. This latter action resulted in the Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly).
An oversized fourth chapter describes in tactical detail the Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly). Isaac Stevens, ever aggressive, saw Confederate skirmishers south of Ox Hill in late afternoon on September 1 and assumed they were part of a massive Confederate advance moving south against the Union retreat route along Warrenton Pike. He decided to immediately launch a spoiling attack of his own to the north. Stevens’ small IX Corps division was stacked three brigades deep, and around 5 P.M., they managed to force Hays’ Louisiana Brigade from their defensive position along “The Salient”, but Stevens died with a bullet through his temple at the height of the charge. Early’s Brigade, marching east behind the lines to reinforce the Confederate left, moved forward to check Stevens’ progress, and the prior status quo was restored as a massive thunderstorm broke over the area. Also during this time elements of Ferrero’s IX Corps Brigade moved up on Stevens’ right in some woods, but they made no progress. Stevens’ Division retreated towards the Unfinished Railroad to the south to regroup, and Birney’s large Brigade of Kearny’s III Corps Division arrived on the battlefield. They attacked into a large cornfield just west of Stevens’ attack and faced numerous Confederate Brigades (including Branch, Pender, and Brockenbrough) for around an hour and a half. The wet weather made many muskets misfire, so there was a larger amount of hand-to-hand fighting at Chantilly than in almost any other battle of the war. Late in this fight, Kearny became concerned about Birney’s right flank (where Stevens’ Division had been before falling back). Kearny wandered near the Confederate lines in the darkness and was killed by a volley. Darkness, fatigue, and the rain all conspired to halt the fighting after dark.
The remaining chapters in the book deal with the aftermath of Chantilly. Thousands of Union wounded remained behind on the Manassas and Ox Hill battlefields. The Confederates, who were moving on to invade Maryland, could not provide for their needs. The Union authorities were slow in responding as well, and many men died as a result of neglect. Both sides claimed victory at Ox Hill, but Taylor believes it was “ a somewhat hollow tactical Union victory” because 6,000 Federals had fought nearly 15,000 Confederates to a draw. The Union retreat continued as elements of the fresh Union II Corps of the Army of the Potomac held off the Confederate Cavalry. McClellan was placed in charge of the now-combined Army of the Potomac and Army of Virginia, and Lee decided to invade the North. That invasion resulted in the Battle of Antietam.
Taylor’s narrative was easy to follow and he used a succinct style. I had no trouble following his meanings and the book is definitely not dry. The words of the participants are used from time to time as well. Taylor believes there was no clear-cut victor in the battle. He says that Lee’s objective was to destroy Pope’s Army, while Pope’s objective was simply to save that Army and defend Washington, D.C. Taylor concludes that the troop build-up at Germantown as well as the Battle of Chantilly to a lesser extent saved Washington from being captured. I don’t believe for a second that Washington was ever in any real danger. For one, Civil War armies were rarely ever “destroyed”, so Taylor assigns Lee a pretty tall task! Secondly, Pope had 95,000 men PFD on September 2, 1862, and there were troops in the Washington defenses as well, positioned securely behind fortifications. In the end, Taylor believes that “the battle of Ox Hill played no role in the final tactical outcome of the just-concluded (Manassas) campaign, save for the deaths of two of the Union army's finest field generals”. I agree completely with that part of his assessment. This was a black day for the Army of the Potomac’s Officer Corps.
The book contains quite a few extras. In the Epilogue, Taylor describes the sad story of the loss of the Chantilly Battlefield to development. Suburbs now mark the area where Stevens and Kearny charged and died over 140 years ago. There is a small 4.5-acre park that contains monuments to Stevens and Kearny (and the generally accepted spot where Stevens fell). Unfortunately, this is all that remains of the battlefield. One good result of this debacle is that the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (now the Civil War Preservation Trust) was formed to prevent this wholesale destruction of history from happening again. He Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning also contains four appendices. The first two are brief biographies of Stevens and Kearny. The third deals with the “Kearny Cross”, a medal awarded for meritorious service, and the “Kearny Patch”, a red patch the soldiers of Kearny’s Division wore on their caps for recognition purposes within the Division. This extended after Kearny’s death into the Corps patches the Union Army developed for esprit de corps and identification. The last appendix contains the order of battle. It is fairly typical as far as orders of battle go. There are no unit strengths or casualty figures, and no regimental commanders are listed. The text takes up the first 142 pages of the book. Notes are listed from pages 143-159. Unlike in some other White Mane books, primary sources were definitely used here and used well. The text and the bibliography, which appears on pages 160-175, demonstrate that fact. The index follows on pages 176-179. The index seemed pretty short, but keep in mind the fact that the book was short overall.
There isn’t too much for wargamers in this one. It is a fairly standard, succinct retelling of the battle. It would prove useful as a secondary reference when used in conjunction with other books on Chantilly. The eight maps are okay, but they could have been better and more numerous. There are no topographical lines, and the only elevation shown is Ox Hill, which is denoted using hachures. The maps are black and white, with different shades of gray representing Confederate and Union troop placements. The troop placements could have gone into greater detail as well, especially on the Confederate side. Strength reports, always critical for a wargamer, are few and far between. Look elsewhere for Chantilly regimental strengths.
This was a solid but not spectacular account of the Battle of Ox Hill. I would by no means call this the definitive study on Chantilly. The length of the book alone prevents that. However, the battle, the events leading up to it, and the aftermath are clearly described in an engaging way. I don’t agree with all of the author’s opinions, but his three years of research and his bibliography show that those opinions were based on a careful study of many available resources. Anyone interested in the Second Manassas Campaign or Phil Kearny & Isaac Stevens will enjoy this book. I recommend it, but this is not the final word on the battle.
179 pp., 8 maps.
© Copyright Brett Schulte 2005. All rights reserved.
The November 2005 issue is the first issue of America's Civil War that I'll be reviewing for this blog. ACW is of a little lower quality than North & South and Blue & Gray. It is virtually identical to Civil War Times Illustrated at this point, because both magazines are published by Primedia. There are no endnotes for the articles, and the maps are usually Division level or higher. I'm not particularly fond of either of those choices both as a fan of detailed tactics and wargaming. Despite this generally lower quality, some good authors still find their way into ACW's pages. Eric Wittenberg, who guest blogs for me from time to time, is just one example. In this latest issue, James A. Morgan III writes an article on Ball's Bluff. His book "A Little Short of Boats" looks to be the definitive account of that battle. I've been sidetracked but I'm in the middle of reading it now and it looks very good. Lastly, I wanted to mention that one of the guest bloggers at this site, J.D. Petruzzi, wrote an article in last issue's ACW that received a lot of praise in the letters to the editor section this issue.
|Men and Materiel: Col. Richard Owen by Dennis Alberts|
This article covers Col. Richard Owen's time as commandant of Camp Morton in Indianapolis, Indiana. His humane and kind treatment of the prisoners located there even earned him the disapproval of his superiors. His Confederate charges decided after the war to raise money to have a bust of the Colonel dedicated at the Indiana State House.
|Commands: 15th Connecticut Infantry by Gordon Berg|
Your average American does not realize that disease was a far greater threat to a soldier's life than was fighting during the Civil War. The 15th Connecticut Infantry illustrates this idea perfectly. They were stationed in North Carolina for the greater part of the war, and only got into one really large fight at Wise's Fork on March 8, 1865. However, when they served as provost guard for the city of New Bern, North Carolina, they faced a silent killer. "Yellow Jack", the colorful name given to Yellow Fever, struck New Bern for 45 days in the late summer and early fall of 1864. The 15th Connecticut lost between 60-80 men during this time from the disease and they were prevented from doing their provost duty.
|Personality: William B. Mumford by Robert P. Broadwater|
On April 26, 1862, the Union Navy was in the Mississippi River opposite New Orleans negotiating its surrender. While these negotiations were going on, a crowd of Southern men led by civilian William B. Mumford tore down a United Dtates flag that was already flying over the mint building. Mumford tried to take the flag to city hall, but by the time he got there the angry crowd had torn it to pieces. General Benjamin Butler made an example of Mumford and hung him on June 7, 1862.
|Sabers Glistening on the Ride to Victory by Allan L. Tischler|
One of the largest cavalry charges of the war took place at the Third Battle of Winchester on September 19, 1864. There, 7,000 troopers of Phil Sheridan's Army of the Shenandoah charged the left wing of Jubal Early's Confederate Army of the Valley, causing a mass rout. The charge was also notable for the fact that it actually WORKED. Unlike in the Napoleonic Wars, Civil War cavalry normally acted as mounted infantry, especially at this late stage of the war.
|Ball's Bluff: 'A Very Nice Little Military Chance' by James A. Morgan III|
Morgan is well-qualified to write about the Battle of Ball's Bluff. He lives nearby and gives numerous tours of the battlefield. This article is basically a summary of his excellent book on the battle entitled A Little Short of Boats. I highly recommend that book. It looks to be the definitive account of Ball's Bluff.
|The Union's Jefferson Davis by George Tipton Wilson|
This article is basically a brief biography of the Union General with the unfortunate name, with emphasis on his wartime service. Amazingly, despite murdering Gen. William Nelson in front of witnesses, Gen. Jeff Davis rose to Corps command in Gen. Sherman's Army during the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea. During the latter event Davis had a pontoon bridge taken up even though many escaped slaves were following his Corps. This was a controversial action, and many accused Davis of being a racist. However, the high command in Sherman's Army defended him and he received no ill effects from this action. Despite the controversy, the bottom line is that Jef Davis was an excellent combat commander, and he performed well in numerous engagements.
|Fredericksburg Redemption by John C. McManus|
The story of the 7th U.S. Infantry's redemption in front of the Stone Wall at Fredericksburg is recounted in this article. Apparently, early in the war, the 7th U.S. had been surrendered to an inferior Confederate force while attempting to defend New Mexico. The 7th's reputation was stained until the completion of their parole terms allowed them to join the Army of the Potomac in time for Fredericksburg. They stood the terrible circumstances there very well, and they were given a new set of colors not long afterward.
|Eyewitness to War: Michael H.B. Cunningham by Robert Lee Cunningham and Gregory Robert Cunningham|
Michael Cunningham fought with the 18th Michigan in many of the war's Western battles. He survived a prison term as a POW and witnessed the Vicksburg and Atlanta Campaigns.
Books reviewed in this issue:
1. Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War : The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864 by Earl J. Hess
Reviews in Brief:
1. Harvard's Civil War: The History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry by Richard F. Miller
|Preservation by Kim A. O'Connell|
The sacrifices of Loudoun County, Virginia's Confederate soldiers are commemorated with a statue in their honor in the town square of Leesburg. However, the statue is suffering from bronze poisoning, and its features are being lost with time. Fundraising efforts are underway to save this part of our heritage.
I managed to finish the book last evening, so this is the final part of my daily blog entries on He Hath Loosed The Fateful Lightning. I hope to have a review up within the next day or two, and then I plan to start on Welker's Thunder at Ox Hill. As promised, after reading that book, I will write an entry comparing and contrasting the two books.
1. Chapter 4 covered the battle of Chantilly in its entirety. Stevens attacked elements of Jackson's Corps on Ox Hill just to the west of the north-south running Ox Road. His Division assaulted in a divisional column, with each brigade one behind the other. At the height of the charge, Stevens personally led the 79th NY Highlanders, and the Federals routed Hays' Louisiana Brigade located at the Salient. However, Stevens died with a bullet through his temple around 5 P.M. that day. Early's Brigade came to the rescue and sealed up the breach. Some men of Reno's Division went in east of Ox Road, and the 21st Massachusetts received a surprise volley which killed around 100 men. Soon after, all of the IX Corps units retreated south towards the unfinished railroad. As this was happening, Birney's large 7-regiment Brigade of Kearny's III Corps Division advanced into a cornfield west of Stevens' attack. There they stood and fought Branch's and Brockenbrough's Confederate Brigades for an hour and a half. This fighting was in many cases hand to hand because a thunderstorm had been raging since around the time of Stevens' death. Taylor takes pains to document that a large number of rifles were not firing during this time, and even goes into a little aside about the uselessness of the Enfield Rifles Musket in a hard rain. As the fighting was going on, Kearny grew concerned with his right flank since Stevens' Division had retreated. As he rode around in the growing darkness, he stumbled onto the Confederate lines and was shot dead. The fighting had ended, and Jackson's flanking maneuver had failed, but the North had lost two promising Generals within about an hour of each other.
2. Both the Northerners in Stevens' and Kearny's Divisions and the Confederates in Jackson's Corps were worn out from the fighting of the past week. On August 26, just before the fighting at Brawner's Farm and Bull Run, Jackson's Wing had 25, 335 men Present for Duty (PFD)*, Kearny's Division had 6,571 PFD* and Stevens' Division had 3,823 PFD*. Just a week later on September 2, the day after Chantilly, Jackson had 20,608 PFD*, Kearny (now under the command of Birney) 5,644 PFD*, and Stevens (now under Christ) 3,085 PFD*. These numbers do not take into account the large number of stragglers who were away from their commands during the retreat and pursuit, so all three commands were considerably weaker than the stated PFDs one would assume. Jackson had faced repeated poundings from Pope on August 29th and 30th, and his men were hungry as well. The Union troops weren't much better off, though they hadn't suffered as severely as had Jackson's troops (especially the Light Division of A.P. Hill.
* All PFD numbers come from the 1993 George Mason University Masters Thesis of John Owen Allen.
3. Gen. Kearny's body was treated with great respect by the Confederates. He was apparently greatly admired for his skill and courage. They sent the corpse back through the lines under a flag of truce the next day. Although the Union pulled off what Taylor terms a narrow though hollow tactical victory, I think they lost more in this victory than in any victorious battle of comparable size. Kearny and Stevens were both excellent fighting generals in an Army that seemed to have far too few of these. Stevens was even rumored to be in the running to be appointed as head of the Army of Virginia before his untimely death. I strongly believe that if these two men had survived they both would have been commanding Corps in the near future. No one can predict how a Division commander thrust into a higher role will perform, but I think at least one of these two men would have led a Corps with as much skill and aggression as they led their respective divisions. Chantilly was a black day for the Army of the Potomac.
1. This chapter deals with the aftermath of the battle. Taylor asserts that darkness, heavy rain, and fatigue helped to bring the battle to a close. Both sides ended the fight exactly on the ground they had started with. Taylor praises Stevens, saying he had "courage, decisive action, organizational skills, and a superb knowledge of tactics". The Rebels, hungry and without food, searched the bodies of dead Yankees for a bite to eat. The lines were so close that picket fires were not allowed. Around 2 A.M., Pope finally ordered a general withdrawal to Washington, D.C.
1. Clara Barton makes an appearance in Chapter 6 as the casualties and their suffering is recorded. The Federals suffered both the higher number of casualties (1,000 vs. 500-600) and a higher percentage (15,000 Confederates had faced only 6,000 Yankees). Taylor points out that many Confederate regiments lumped in their Ox Hill casualties with those suffered at Second Manassas, so historians are still having trouble separating those numbers correctly. Thousands of Union wounded were left on the Manassas battlefield and its environs, and many men starved to death or suffered needless exposure because the Northern government was unable to come to their aid.
1. Taylor draws his conclusions in this chapter. He says that there was no clear-cut victor at Chantilly. As stated earlier he calls it a "somewhat hollow tactical Union victory". His reasoning was that Lee's goal was to destroy Pope's Army, and Pope's goal was to get his men to Washington intact. Taylor believes that the troop buildup at Germantown had as much if not more to do with the victory as the battle itself. That troop build-up prevented Jackson from blocking Pope-s retreat route, and Stevens and Kearny did the rest. Taylor ultimately concludes that "the battle of Ox Hill played no role in the final tactical outcome of the just-concluded campaign, save for the deaths of two of the Union army's finest field generals". Stuart send Wade Hampton's Cavalry Brigade on one last attempt to get around the Union flank, but elements of the AotP's fresh II Corps made sure that did not happen. From here, Lee invaded Maryland, and the Union replaced Pope with McClellan. Lincoln didn't necessarily trust him, but he did believe McClellan could whip the AotP (newly enlarged with the three Corps of the Army of Virginia) back into shape.
1. Taylor finishes with an account of the current-day situation at Chantilly. It is a pretty sad story as far as I'm concerned. Today, subdivisions cover the entire battlefield, and extensive road work has lowered the height of Ox Hill considerably since 1862. The only thing left to indicate a battle was fought here is a small 4.5 acre park which contains monuments to Kearny and Stevens. Kearny's death spot isn't even on park property. The only good news from this sorry state of affairs is that the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS, now the Civil War Preservation Trust) was formed to prevent this type of mass destruction of our heritage from ever happening again.
1. Appendices 1-3 detail the lives of KEarny and Stevens, and also talk about how Kearny was the father of the Corps identification system later used by the Union Armies.
2. Appendix 4 was the Order of Battle. There were no unit strengths or casualty figures. No regimental commanders were listed, and the numbers anf types of cannon in the artillery batteries was missing. This was about your average OOB for a tactical study.
Notes, Bibliography, and Index
1. The Notes covered pages 143-159, and they were pretty thorough, better than the typical White Mane book. The bibliography followed on pages 160-175, and included a good number of primary sources. This too makes it a much better than average book from White Mane. Lastly, the index was on pages 176-179. It was not lengthy, but then again the book itself was only 179 pages long.
Maps and Wargaming
1. The 8 maps were decent, but they were not nearly as detailed as I prefer them to be in a tactical study. They were in black and white, with each side's troops drawn in differing shades of gray. There were no topographical lines, and really the only noting of elevation came on just several maps which contained hachures marking Ox Hill's location.
2. As far as wargaming Ox Hill, this book will give you a pretty decent start. Unit strengths are mentioned throughout the text, and the maps are enough to give you a good start. I suspect that Welker's book will do a better job in this department, however.
Eric Wittenberg, an occasional guest blogger at this site, has launched an ACW blog of his own. Rantings of a Civil War Historian looks to provide an interesting view on the Civil War from the perspective of its owner, an author and lawyer with an interest in the Cavalry.
1. This chapter deals with the buildup to the battle. Jackson's men again marched slowly on September 1, even though the Little River Turnpike was an excellent road. Taylor writes that Pope finally responded to the possibility of a flank attack by the Confederates. Two Brigades were at Germantown, ESE of Ox Hill and ENE of Centreville. Germantown was the intersection of the Little River Turnpike and the Warrenton Pike, and as such it was a key position. As long as the Federals held it the retreat route to Washington, D.C. was open. At this point, Taylor says, Jackson could have pushed on for Germantown or headed south from Ox Hill to cut the Warrenton Pike. Instead he did neither. Stonewall, in a scene reminiscent of the Battle of Glendale on June 30, 1862, fell asleep at Ox Hill. Taylor does not castigate Jackson for this, and in fact makes a very good point about this possibly being a PLANNED halt per instructions from Lee.
2. The Jackson sleeping incident here is not as well known (at least not by me) as is the famous lethargy Stonewall showed at Glendale (White Oak Swamp). I believe that incident, which occurred during the Seven Days, was much more important. Lee had a realistic (my emphasis) chance to trap a part of McClellan's Army on June 30, 1862. On September 1 of that year at Chantilly, several things conspired against him. Most importantly, Lee and the rest of the army was still far behind. Jackson, who Taylor estimates had 15,000 men, could have potentially faced several times his number had he moved south to the Warrenton Pike or east to Germantown. They had to worry about an attack to their flank no matter which way they pushed. At Glendale, Jackson could have put tremendous pressure on the Federal Divisions guarding the northern approcahes to Glendale through White Oak Swamp. As it was, many II Corps men eventually left that front to help defeat Longstreet and A.P. Hill farther south. If Jackson had pushed hard, these men would have had to stay at White Oak Swamp, thus allowing the Confederates farther south a much better chance to break through and cut off a significant portion of the Union Army. My second point is that Jackson's men were exhausted and hungry at Chantilly, having campaigned non-stop since early August. You can counter with the argument that Jackson's troops were also tired at Glendale, but the battle of Gaines' Mill (fought several days earlier), although a large and desperate engagement, could not have taken the same toll as the repeated long marches of August and the brutal repeated attacks Jackson faced on August 29. A.P. Hill's Division was especially devastated at Second Manassas.
3. A controversy also arose in Pope's Army. During the Second Manassas Campaign, McClellan sent a telegram to Lincoln which in part stated his desire to "leave Pope to get out of his own scrape". This message angered Lincoln, and some people in Washington viewed the telegram as treasonous in nature. To make matters worse, McClellan seemed slow in forwarding elements of his Army of the Potomac to Pope's ever-growing Army of Virginia. After the defeat at Second Bull Run, Pope felt surrounded by enemies who wished to see his demise. He told Lincoln:
I think it my duty to call attention to the unsoldierly and dangerous conduct of many brigade and some division commanders of the forces sent here from the Peninsula. Every word and act and intention is discouraging, and calculated to break down the spirits of the men and produce disaster....You have hardly an idea of the demoralization among officers of high rank in the Potomac Army, arising in all instances from personal feeling in relation to changes of commander-in-chief and others. These men are mere tools or parasites, but their example is producing , and must necessarily produce, very disastrous results....
These were hardly encouraging words from a man who still had to get his beaten Army back to cover Washington...
NOTE: I had to keep this one relatively short. I hope to finish the rest of the book tonight and tomorrow, to post Part 4 of this series tomorrow night, and to produce a review later in the week.
1. There wasn't much going on in the first chapter. It was basically the setup chapter for the rest of the book. If you've read any book on the Second Manassas Campaign (I suggest Hennessy's book), you'll know everything here.
1. Chapter 2 focuses on August 31, 1862, the day after Second Bull Run and the day before Chantilly. Pope sat in the fortifications at Centreville all day, and Lee sent Jackson on a march around Pope's flank. It rained a lot that day and Jackson's "Foot Cavalry", already exhausted from hard marching and hard fighting, had a poor day marching by their standards. Longstreet meanwhile stayed in front of Pope southwest of Centreville to fix him in place, thus allowing Jackson's flank march a greater chance of success.
2. There were numerous Cavalry skirmishes throughout the day as "Jeb" Stuart covered Jackson's right flank and Union cavalry covered Pope's left. Taylor believes Stuart made a crucial mistake when he shelled a Union wagon train behind Pope's right. Taylor says that this alerted the Union to the possible presence of a flank march and was entirely unneccessary. Jackson's flank march ultimately failed, so Taylor definitely has a point.
3. Taylor asserts that Pope had no confidence in his Army and they none in him. Many of the officers from the Army of the Potomac resented the fact that Pope had replaced McClellan, and Pope believed they were deliberately trying to perform poorly to get him fired from command. Most of the officers of the Army wanted to retreat to Washington, D.C. because they were afraid that they'd be cut off otherwise. That's exactly what Jackson was trying to do, so they had a right to be worried.
I've decided to start off my "Back-to-Back Book" idea by focusing on the small engagement at Ox Hill (Chantilly to the North), which occurred only two days after Second Bull Run. Promising Union Generals Isaac Stevens and Phil Kearny both lost their lives here. Paul Taylor's Chantilly book He Hath Loosed The Fateful Lightning is the first of two I'll be reading on the battle. David Welker's Tempest at Ox Hill: The Battle of Chantilly will be the second book of the pair.
In looking over the book, I notice that it is published by White Mane. There has been concern in the past about what White Mane will publish. Some of their books have not been as well-researched as the average book has. I'm willing to judge a book on its own merits, so this does not necessarily mean the book is poor. He Hath Loosed The Fateful Lightning contains 179 pages, 8 maps, and 41 illustrations. In leafing through the book, I find that it feels and looks a lot like Combined Publishing's Great Campaigns series of books. A lot of you might know that series by the blue dust jackets one edition of the series used. I read some reviews of the book online and it seems that Taylor believes that the Union attack at Ox Hill saved Washington, D.C. from being captured. I'm not too sure I can agree with that line of thinking. According to unit strength research done by John Owen Allen at George Mason University, Pope had somewhere in the neighborhood of 93,000 men PFD the day after the Battle of Ox Hill. Add to this the Union fortifications and heavy artillery ringing the Capital, and there does not seem to be any way Lee could have taken it, whether Jackson won at Ox Hill or not. The maps in this book are serviceable, but I've seen better. Several shades of gray are used to denote the troop placement on each side, but the detail is not great, especially in regards to placement of Confederate Regiments. There are no topographical lines. Indeed, no changes in elevation are depicted at all other than the use of hachures to denote Ox Hill on several maps. Lastly, this is not a very long book, even for a smaller battle such as this. I hope to read the book over the next 2-3 days, along with giving my usual comments on a chapter by chapter basis.
NOTE: If anyone knows how I can get in contact with John Owen Allen, the author of the unit strengths study on the Second Manassas Campaign, please let me know by email. I'd like to get his permission to show the numbers at my OOBs site for wargaming purposes.
The Harper's Ferry Arsenal has been updated. Mod-maker extraordinaire Tim has created a United States Sharpshooters Uniform mod for use with Bull Run: Take Command 1861. Check out a screenshot HERE. It's a little tough to see but it gives you an idea of what to expect should you decide to use it.
I will be away from blogging for several days due to the passing of my Grandfather, a veteran of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. I hope to return some time this weekend.
I recently hit upon an idea of reading two books on similar subject matter back to back as a way to compare and contrast the books and the authors' opinions. Since I have finished reading Secessionville, some ideas for these books back to back include:
1. Chantilly / Ox Hill September 1, 1862
a. Tempest at Ox Hill: The Battle of Chantilly by David A. Welker
b. He Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning: The Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly), September 1, 1862 by Paul Taylor
2. (West) Virginia 1861 - McClellan & Lee 1861
a. Lee Vs. McClellan: The First Campaign by Clayton R. Newell
b. Rebels at the Gate: Lee and McClellan on the Front Line of a Nation Divided by W. Hunter Lesser
3. The Red River Campaign 1864
a. Red River Campaign: Politics and Cotton in the Civil War by Ludwell Johnson
b. War Along the Bayous: The Red River Campaign in Louisiana by William Riley Brooksher
5. Bentonville March 19-21, 1865
a. Last Stand in the Carolinas: The Battle of Bentonville by Mark L. Bradley
b. Bentonville: The Final Battle of Sherman and Johnson (Civil War America) by Nathaniel Cheairs, Jr Hughes
Drew Wagenhoffer's recent blog entries on West(ern) Virginia and the Red River Campaign led me to compile this list. I'll be starting on the Chantilly books immediately. I'm sure I'll come up with others as well. The only two books I've previously read in this list are the Ox Hill book by Welker and the Bentonville book by Bradley. All else will be new to me. I hope to follow a format of reading one book, reviewing it on its own, reading the second book, reviewing it on its own, and then writing a short essay comparing and contrasting. We'll see how this goes on the Chantilly books.
The Harper's Ferry Arsenal has been updated. David Driver has created what I consider to be a long overdue mod for Bull Run: TC 1861. He has edited the tree graphics in the game so that tree coverage is a little sparser, allowing you to better see your troops. In addition, the trees get even easier to see through as you zoom in on them. This download is the first entry in the Terrain Graphics section of the site.
The first question to answer is: What is my interest level for any particular battle? It can’t be understated that to design a good game, the interest MUST be very high. In fact, it’s best to be able to visit the battlefield, but not essential. Though I’m originally from California, I now reside in Tennessee. This is a great location for creating Civil War games. So far I’ve completed two; Campaign Franklin and more recently, Campaign Shiloh. I was able to visit all the major battlefields included in those two publications.
The next question to answer is scope. How much do I want to include in this game? With Franklin, I concentrated on just the historic battles, with Shiloh I traveled nearly 500 miles of Confederate and Union territory. I decided to throw in everything I could conceivably think of, and included several maps that my thoughtful playtesters considered important to include. I enjoyed sending the rebels to Cairo Illinois!
Now, what about the parameter data file. This is the one place that a designer must really give a lot of thought. Do I just maintain the status quo, or does my game require special needs? Nearly always, the answer is the latter. With so many gunboats and large rivers used in Campaign Shiloh, special consideration was required to make the game feasible. In general, gunboats were not effective weapons, nor were shore batteries capable of sinking a gunboat (still not an easy task). And land units had no way to cross a major river. So a difference approach was needed to accomplish these two tasks. One included some parameter data changes, and also, some additional programming was required.
Another difficult question to answer concerns the campaign feature of the HPS Civil War series. Where to begin and end a campaign? Should it start out small and develop into larger battles? How should a campaign end? For example, historically, Grant forced the surrender of the Fort Donelson garrison and won a major victory that many believe greatly contributed to the South’s defeat. Should the campaign end if Grant fails to capture Fort Donelson? NO, is the answer. True, Grant will have a difficult time recovery, but he will. Also, the South must prove it can capitalize on such a victory. So what about forcing them to take the war north and giving Grant, or his successor, a chance to recover from his early defeat.
Also, what kind or and how many maps will be need? How big should they be? HPS maps, though not a beautiful work of art, are very functional and historically accurate. Plus, they are much larger in scope than almost any other game system on the market.
Research, Research, and more Research is used in designing HPS Civil War games. Many sources are used to complete a game. Usually the most important are the many volumes of the “Official Records.” They are a must have for any designer. Also, they must include the atlas developed to be used along side the written volumes.
In short, there are many decisions that must be answered to create a worthy addition of the HPS Civil War series.
Rich Walker 9-19-2005
Secessionville: Assault on Charleston. Patrick Brennan. Savas Publishing Company (1996). 394 pp. 23 maps.
This is a review and summary of Patrick Brennan’s Secessionville: Assault on Charleston. Secessionville is a detailed battle history focusing on the James Island Campaign of June 1862 and the resulting Battle of Secessionville on June 16, 1862. The author is not a professional historian. Instead, I was interested to learn, he is a musician by trade. Do not let this fool you as far as his qualifications for writing this book go. John S. Petersen’s Foreword makes it abundantly clear that Patrick Brennan is an avid student of the Civil War and has been for a long, long time. Union Generals David Hunter and Henry Benham landed on James Island just south of Charleston in early June 1862. After a period of fortifying their camps, the Union forces attacked the advanced left flank of the Southern line at the Tower Battery. Unfortunately for them, Henry Benham was not much of a leader, and the attacks failed after several hours. The author asserts that the Battle of Secessionville was important far beyond its small size. He believes Charleston would have fallen had the Tower Battery been taken on June 16. Brennan also points out that with Charleston as a base in 1862, vast inroads could have been made into the Carolina interior. Brennan also points out that the two Generals in charge, Henry Benham and John Pemberton, were removed not long after the operation took place. The book contains 394 pages and 23 maps, and as usual with a tactical history there are many endnotes and an impressive bibliography.
In late 1861, the Union had taken Fort Pulaski near Savannah, Georgia, and they had landed at Port Royal and Beaufort along the Carolina coast. By the summer of 1862, General David Hunter and his Army of the South were looking to establish a way to attack Charleston, South Carolina with the help of Admiral Du Pont’s Southeast Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Hunter and his subordinate Henry Benham landed two Federal Divisions under Isaac Stevens and Horatio Wright Battery Island, Sol Legare Island, and James Island, just south of Charleston, in early June 1862. They spent the first half of June establishing and fortifying camps on Sol Legare and Battery Islands, separated from James Island by swamp. As the Union troops expanded their encampments, several sharp skirmishes took place. In the interim, David Hunter departed for Hilton Head and left Benham strict instructions not to attack.
Through some rules lawyering, Benham interpreted an attack on Tower Battery as a way to “secure” his camps. He ordered his two divisions forward in the early morning hours of June16, 1862, with Stevens leading the way and Wright bringing up the rear. Stevens attacked Tower Battery, but there was only really room for one regiment to assault at a time. The 8th Michigan led the way and reached the Battery, but Confederate reinforcements drove them out. Repeated attacks by Stevens’ regiments were repulsed. Stevens had no way of sending in more than one regiment at a time, and he regrouped at some hedge lines in a field fronting the Tower Battery. In the meantime, Wright’s Division came up on the left, but his brigades were repulsed as well. Henry Benham then reached the battlefield and decided to take charge. Isaac Stevens was about to launch his division a second time, but Benham ordered everyone back to camp. The angry Stevens and Wright thought Benham to be incompetent, and they believed he had uselessly slaughtered their men. It was a triumph against great odds for the Confederate defenders, who were outnumbered six to one.
The battle spawned controversy. Henry Benham tried to say that Stevens and Wright supported his decision to attack, when they definitely did not. Benham and Stevens engaged in a war of words that was still ongoing when Stevens was killed at the Battle of Chantilly on September 2, 1862. Brennan blames Benham, as did everyone from Lincoln down. The most appalling part of the situation was that Benham also accused Stevens and his division of cowardice. Brennan calls this nonsense. Pemberton, although he won the battle, was sent away not long after the battle. The South Carolina politicians and civilians simply did not trust the Pennsylvania-born commander. In the end, the Federals would not take Charleston until 1865, after several more failed attempts.
I enjoyed Brennan’s style. He explains things clearly and the maps are keyed to his writing for the most part, allowing the reader to understand events as they occur. Brennan liberally sprinkles in anecdotes from participants of the campaign. Especially poignant is the story of two brothers fighting on opposite sides during the battle. The goat of Brennan’s story is definitely Henry Benham. Brennan builds a case against the General using the comments of Benham’s contemporaries. He seems to have been universally disliked by his subordinates and superiors, at least at this stage of the war. Brennan also blames Hunter in part for leaving the scene of the action and placing someone as incompetent and ambitious as Benham in charge. The author seems more understanding of Pemberton’s actions throughout the campaign. While noting that Pemberton’s strategy to defend Charleston by allowing the Federals to occupy the coast while defending the interior was correct, he also says that Pemberton was unable to get along with the civilian authorities in South Carolina. “Shanks” Evans does not come off all that well either. Some on the Southern side were upset that Evans claimed he had led the fighting on their side, when in reality he observed the fighting from the second story of a farmhouse. Isaac Stevens and Horatio Wright from the North, and William Duncan Smith from the South receive favorable reviews. Stevens was a rising star at the time of his death later in 1862, and Horatio Wright eventually rose to command of the Union VI Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Smith was also a rising star, but died of malaria later in 1862.
There are 313 pages of text, followed by a regimental level order of battle. Though there are no strengths in the OOB, Brennan does mention regimental strengths throughout the book. Wargamers should be able to piece together a very serviceable and accurate OOB for use in scenario design. The maps are pretty well done, going down to company and individual gun level in some cases. However, there are no topographical lines on the maps. The biggest flaw, however, is no map scale. I had to estimate distances based on Brennan’s comments I the text. For instance, if he mentioned the distance between two key points was half a mile, I was then able to determine scale for the corresponding map. Still, it was a large enough flaw that it slightly took away from my enjoyment of the book. I’ve been told that this omission (along with the typos in the book) is a direct result of Savas Woodbury Publishing changing to Savas Publishing. This was the very last book done with that company calling itself Savas-Woodbury. The endnotes are numerous, and the bibliography contains many primary sources. I knew this to be the case even before browsing through the bibliography because of the numerous quotes from men who participated in the campaign. One interesting feature that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before was an interview with the author at the very end of the book. In it, Brennan explains his reasons for writing the book and provides some interesting tidbits, such as the fact that Secessionville was the largest battle ever fought in the state of South Carolina.
This is a well written, entertaining, and clear rendering of the Battle of Secessionville and the James Island Campaign as a whole. Brennan stresses that this battle, though not very well known, was extremely important due to the potential loss of Charleston. I saw no evidence that Brennan was an amateur from reading this book. It is obvious the author spent a lot of time on research of the subject. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Civil War campaign studies, and especially to those interested in the combined Army and Navy operations along the southeastern coast of the Confederacy.
394 pp., 23 maps.
© Copyright Brett Schulte 2005. All rights reserved.
Civil War authors and historians generally paint with a broad brush. Multiple books are available, and more appear every day it seems, describing the great battles and campaigns of the war. Infantrymen, however, do not fight great battles. They slug it out in thousands but “minor” (but personally very important) engagements. Someone has counted 10,000 individual military actions in the four years of the Civil War. Most have been forgotten. The First Battle at the Weldon Railroad which took place June 23, 1864 south of Petersburg between the Vermont Brigade of the VI Army Corps AOP and Mahone's Division of A. P Hill's Corps, ANV is one such “minor affair” remembered now by relatively few of the more erudite historians. It was one of the early battles of the Jerusalem Plank Road as U. S. Grant extended his investment of Petersburg. For those interested in small unit actions, the Federal debacle at the Weldon Railroad explains much about the problems and difficulties which plagued Grant in his effort to end the War by crushing the Army of Northern Virginia.
To the proud Vermont Brigade it was a disaster and arguable the worst experience for the Green Mountain State of the entire war (the surrender of the entire 9th Vermont Regiment as part of the Harper's Ferry garrison in 1862 is its nearest rival.) It was probably the worst performance by a Vermont unit of the war. One Vermont Civil War buff likes to refer to it “as the screw-up at the Weldon Railroad.” The official Vermont historian termed it “an inexcusable blunder.” Cowardliness, negligence and inept behavior my multiple officers resulted in the needless capture of more than 400 Vermonters. The enlisted men were sent to Andersonville and later other Confederate prisons where 60% perished. Most of the survivors came home mere wrecks of men and almost all suffered premature crippling degenerative arthritis as a sequala of scurvy.
In A Melancholy Affair at the Weldon Railroad, The Vermont Brigade June 23, 1864 (White Mane Publishing Co. 2005), I have related exactly what occurred at the Weldon Railroad: what went wrong and who was to blame. The story itself of the fate of 400 Vermonter captured at the Weldon Railroad is a tale of remarkable courage and devotion to country. The occurrence of a massive and lethal epidemic of hookworm (Necator americanus) in producing the grim mortality at Andersonville is elucidated and adds insight to the Andersonville story (See “Why Did the Vermonters Die at Andersonville”).
For a book review by Tom Ledoux, webmaster of Vermont in the Civil War website, see: http://vermontcivilwar.org/books/review.php
For more information and links regarding purchase the book from White Mane or Amazon.com see A Melancholy Affair at the Weldon Railroad.
David F. Cross MD
Drew Wagenhoffer had a piece on his blog this week about lawyers who write Civil War history. He had a list of us, myself included. Fortunately, most of us are well-respected names like Gordon Rhea, Kent Masterson Brown, Russel “Cap” Beatie, and the dean of all of us, Alan Nolan. It’s been my good fortune to be able to count Gordon and Kent as friends—Gordon graced my study of Sheridan’s Trevilian Raid with an excellent forward—and I know Alan Nolan from attending the Gettysburg College Civil War Institute. Alan’s book Lee Considered served as the model for my book Little Phil: An Assessment of the Civil War Generalship of Philip H. Sheridan. Gordon does tremendous work, and Kent’s study of the retreat from Gettysburg is a classic. I don’t know Cap Beatie, but I admire and respect his work. He’s written two tremendous books on the early days of the Army of the Potomac, and he’s also co-owner of Savas-Beatie publishing. Ted Savas, his partner in that venture, is also a lawyer, although if you ask Ted, he will tell you that he’s a recovering lawyer (which, I might add, I aspire to be sooner than later).
I won’t be so bold as to speak for my fellow barristers, so what you’re about to get here is my perspective on things.
First, there’s the obvious question of why so many lawyers who are so prominent in this field of endeavor? In my case, it’s the convergence of a lot of things. First, I have had a very powerful fascination with the Civil War since a third-grade class trip to Gettysburg in about 1968 or so. The study of the war has been a major influence in my life since that trip—I checked the American Heritage picture book of the Civil War out of the library the next day, and have never looked back. Mix in the fact that I don’t particularly enjoy the practice of law very much and that, given my druthers, I would much prefer my historical work. Finally, I have a very restless mind and a short attention span. I spend many an evening writing in front of the TV (I’ve actually killed off a couple of laptop computers that way—in a future post, I will relate those sagas), with the TV basically serving as background noise. I’m pretty sure that I have a mild case of ADD, as I’ve always needed background noise and a little bit of distraction to be able to concentrate. My writing is no exception. Finally, my wife Susan had a series of jobs that required her to work a lot of evenings, and then she went back to school to finish her degree. So, there were plenty of evenings where I didn’t have much else to do, and writing was an excellent way to pass the time. People often ask me how it’s possible for me to be as prolific as I am—I’ve just told you very specifically.
So, why write history? The short answer is that I’ve done scholarly legal research and writing, and after my fourth scholarly article on the law was published, I was bored, and was really looking for something else to do. Given my almost life-long fascination with the Civil War, that was an easy decision to make. Anyone who knows me knows that I love challenges. I haven’t had a formal history class of any sort since the 10th grade. I am entirely self-taught, so I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of mastering an entirely new discipline. My first article, on Joshua Chamberlain, was published the week we got married in 1992, and it was, if I may say so myself, very bad indeed. I’m honestly embarrassed by just how bad it was as I look back on it today, but you have to start somewhere, and that’s where I started. For me, this was a logical progression, and once I tried it, I loved it.
Finally, how does my legal training affect my historical work? Well, that’s actually rather simple. As law students, we’re taught that you can never, ever assert that something is a proposition of law or statement of fact without having either specific pieces of evidence or legal authority to support that. I’ve always adhered to that important piece of instruction—I had a law review article years ago that had nearly 300 footnotes because of it—and it’s always been how I attack the writing of history. It’s why I’ve always tried to be exhaustive in my research, and it’s also the specific reason why my work tends to have so many footnotes—I feel compelled to exhaustively document the things that I say whenever possible to do so.
Also, trying cases is a form of story telling. I’ve probably done 60 trials of different varieties in my career. You pick a theme, you build your story around that theme, and then you tell your story piece by piece. Each piece of evidence is intended to build on the last one until the pile of evidence, if you will, meets the burden of proof and the picture is complete. I write history the same way…carefully and piece by piece. In that sense, what I do is exactly the same irrespective of whether I’m doing legal work or writing history….I’m still interpreting and presenting evidence in a fashion that enables me to weave a complete story.
There is typically one major difference. When I’m acting as a lawyer, I am acting as an advocate. I’ve been hired to serve as an advocate, which means that my job—my ethical requirement, for that matter—is to zealously represent the interests of my client to the fullest extent of the law. That means that I’m not being objective, I’m advocating a position. With one notable exception—which I will touch on momentarily—I do not approach history from the angle of advocacy. Rather, I go where the historical evidence leads me, even if those conclusions run counter to what I might otherwise hope. Once I see where the evidence leads me, I then tell the story as completely and objectively as I can.
There has been one very notable exception to this rule. My book Little Phil makes no attempt at objectivity. From the very beginning of the book, I tell the reader that I am serving as an advocate, that the book has been written as a lawyer’s brief. I lay out my case—as if I was trying it to a jury—with no pretense of objectivity. I’ve been criticized for that, but I think that it was important to be honest and up front about the approach. That approach was admittedly taken from the work of Alan Nolan, and I have always freely acknowledged that his book Lee Considered was very much the model for my Sheridan book. It bears noting, though, that the Sheridan book was probably a once in a lifetime thing—while I try never to say never again for the most part, I can’t envision myself undertaking such a project again. My subsequent work has gone back to an objective telling of the story, punctuated by my take on events, and that’s how I expect to proceed as time passes.
One final point needs to be made. I write because I love it. I write because I need to do so in order to keep my sanity in a high-stress profession. Finally, I write because I feel compelled to tell the stories of the men who fought and died to give us the country that we have today.
Eric J. Wittenberg
September 18, 2005
Weekends are usually busy times for me, so I'm probably going to be taking most weekends off from blogging. I hope to have a review up for Secessionville late Sunday night or some time on Monday, but otherwise I'll be pretty quiet.
Secessionville: Assault On Charleston by Patrick Brennan
I finished reading this one on Thursday night, but I've only now found time to write about it. The book, despite quite a few typos, was a very good battle history of this small but important battle that decided the fate of Charleston at a time when the South could ill afford to lose the city. I hope to have a review posted both here and at my ACW Books site some time this weekend.
1. In Chapter 9, Henry Benham made his appearance felt, but not in a good way. He reached the field, and after reviewing the situation, he ordered both Federal Divisions to retreat. The men of Stevens' Division, especially the men of the 79th NY and the 8th MI, were angered by the order. After setting up skirmishers to cover their retreat and collecting as many of the wounded as they could, the Yankees went back to their camps.
2. After his failed assault, Isaac Stevens had reformed his Division along the two sets of hedges in the cotton field fronting the Tower Battery. He fully expected Wright's Division to provide support as he attacked again. He sent Signal Officer Lt. Henry Taftt over to Benham on the left to ask for support. Instead, Taftt listened in shock as Benham ordered him to ride back and order Stevens to retreat. Taftt, one of many officers to disparage Benham for his actions on June 16, referred to the General as "a badly frightened officer who was found sitting upon his horse surrounded by his staff, a full half mile away from danger". Benham had decided to call the fight a "reconnaissance in force" as a way to cover up his actions.
3. Brennan concludes that the Confederates realized that "against tremendous odds" they had won "a tremendous victory of signal importance. The door to Charleston, one of the great ports of the Confederacy, had been slammed shut". The Rebels, not knowing that the attacks were over for good, moved up even more reinforcements and strengthened their defenses.
4. To the 8th Michigan, Secessionville was their defining day. Brennan states that they lost 184 men out of 534 taken into action, or about 1 in every 3. He relates that the battle held such sway over the men that the 8th celebrated their reunions in later years on June 16th.
1. This chapter was mostly about the aftermath of the battle and who blamed who on the Union side due to the slaughter in front of the Tower Battery. The Confederates realized the importance of their victory, given that they faced 6:1 odds during the fight. The fallout of the battle was mainly that Henry Benham was cashiered and arrested, though he did later regain a command as the commander of the Army of the Potomac's Engineer Brigade from 1863 to the end of the war. His arrest and subsequent begging for his job by lying about the actions of Wright and Stevens led to a war of words in official reports, letters, and newspapers among the three Generals. Benham generally came out looking bad, and Brennan agrees with that assessment. Benham actually had the gall to claim that Stevens and his Division were cowards, after they had done the vast majority of the fighting. Pemberton was also partially a casualty of the battle. Even though his methods had proven correct, he just seemed to rub politicians the wrong way, and he was removed in August 1862.
2. Two brothers fought against each other on June 16, 1862 in front of the Tower Battery. James Campbell belonged to the Confederate Charleston Battalion, while his brother Alexander was a member of the 70th New York Highlanders. After the fighting, James wrote his brother a letter to make sure he was all right. This was literally "brother versus brother".
3. I found Benham's "congratulatory" order after the battle to be grimly amusing:
We need only to say in conclusion what we all feel: We have met, we have examined the works of the enemy, and they shall be ours.
Needless to say Benham's troops were not amused. A member of the 7th Connecticut replied:
Gen. Benham...calls it a reconnaissance in force: but if it was a reconnaissance, I would like to know what a battle is.
1. The eleventh chapter goes over the longer term aftermath. The Federals strengthened their camps, but Hunter ordered them off of James Island in late June and they were gone by the first few days of July. The later battles in the newspapers and the reports of Benham, Stevens, and Wright are covered in some detail. Benham blamed Stevens for attacking too late and for behaving like a coward. Brennan calls this nonsense. Lincoln and pretty much everyone else involved backed Stevens. All of the major players of the battle are given some later-war and post-war biographies.
2. Brennan says that the Confederate victory at Secessionville was "part of a general resurgence of Southern hopes in the summer of 1862". He also concludes that Pemberton's strategy had proven correct, but that his friction with the South Carolina politicians cost him his command on August 29, 1862. He went from the frying pan and into the fire as he faced U.S. Grant later that year and into 1863 at Vicksburg.
3. James Island has apparently been lost to suburban sprawl and development. Even Tower Battery has a road running right through the parapet.
1. According to the author, Secessionville was "the North's last best chance to capture the city of Charleston". He likened its potential capture to the actual capture of New Orleans in 1862. If Charleston had been taken, the North would have had a formidable base from which to launch expeditions inland. Brennan believes Wilmington, Savannah, and Columbia all would have been greatly threatened and that at least of few of these cities would have fallen as well. I tend to especially agree with Brennan on this point.
2. Hunter was "the wrong man for the job" in Brennan's view. He stayed away from the James Island front for too long, either dallying with his wife or making excuses, and he exerted little if any influence. He has even less regard for Benham, who he says showed "poor management, faulty tactics, and blind ambition".
3. The command problems crossed over to both sides. Some Confederates still wanted to see Pemberton fired after Secessionville and worried that he would lose the city for them. Brennan relates that Pemberton was too much of a bureaucrat, always shuffling generals for no particular gain or purpose. He also says that Pemberton was the "wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time". Others were disgusted with "Shanks" Evans, who had stayed pretty far back from the fighting, and who they believed was always drunk. Brennan applauds W.D. Smith's handling of the fight, saying "Smith's strategy...flanked the Federal left and made possible the Confederate victory at Secessionville".
Order of Battle
1. The OOB specifies how many companies were present in given regiments and battalions.
2. There were no PFD or effective numbers, although these are sprinkled throughout the book if you pay attention.
1. Notes: 317-367. Many of the endnotes go into some interesting detail on various topics.
2. Bibliography: 368-375. Brennan uses many primary sources, including diaries, letters, and manuscripts.
3. Index: 376-389
4. Interview w/ Brennan: 390-394. A few more tidbits are added, but this was a nice little overview of the book. You might even want to read this first. Secessionville was the largest land battle in South Carolina. Brennan believes the most interesting men were Lamar and Stevens. Walking the ground is important to Brennan (maybe he should tell that to Sears!). He wrote the first draft of Secessionville with paper and pencil versus using a computer. He was inspired to do the research and write the book because Secessionville was "a story that had needed telling for a long while.
5. Maps: 23 maps. The maps had good troop detail, going down to companies and individual guns in some places. However, there were no topographical lines, and most surprising of all, the maps had no scale drawn on them. I had to take distances Brennan mentioned in the book to get an idea of how big James Island was.
I managed to get my hands on a copy of the currently out-of-print 42nd Virginia Infantry by John Chapla. The book is part of the Virginia Regimental History series of books published by H.E. Howard. I have a very short review of the book on my ACW Books site in the Unit Histories and Miscellaneous books section of the Eastern Theater. I haven't had the chance to read any of these regimental histories before, so I do not know if this book was typical of the series. The maps left something to be desired. However, wargamers will appreciate the numerous Present for Duty numbers available through the course of the book.
The ACW Campaign Games Design Center, my fan site for the HPS Simulations series of Civil War games, has been updated. Rolf Hall's Regimental Scale and Terrain graphics files have been completed revamped. In addition, Ken Miller has created an updated Regimental Scale graphics file for Campaign Peninsula by modding Rolf's Franklin file.
Secessionville: Assault On Charleston by Patrick Brennan
1. The Battle of Secessionville proper continues in the eighth chapter. More attacks were launched against the Tower Battery as both Confederate and Union reinforcements came up. After several more regiments (79th NY, 100th PA, and 46th NY) attacked and either failed or were disrupted by the swamp on their left, Stevens called off the attack of his Division. Many of Stevens' men, especially the 79th New York "Highlanders", were angry and wondered where Wright was. He had moved off to the left along Battery Island Road, trying to get at Tower Battery from the flank. The 3rd New Hampshire turned east off of the road and did fire into the flank of Tower Battery, but 100 yards of impassable swamp prevented them from charging the fortification. Just in time, the men of the 4th Louisiana Bn. reached Tower Battery and returned fire. At the same time, a Confederate battery off to the north fired into the 3rd New Hampshire's flank and forced them to withdraw. As the fight over Tower Battery's flank sputtered and died, the 3rd Rhode Island Heavy Artillery moved north as well, but they continued north and faced the 24th South Carolina and the Eutaw Battalion. After some friendly fire incidents, the South Carolinian units drove the Rhode Islanders south. Stevens and Wright had both been checked for now.
2. Brennan relates an interesting development as the 79th New York moved to assault the Tower Battery. The Scottish Highlanders had assembled along the hedge out in the middle of the cotton field fronting the battery, and as they did, they moved through the prone men of the Irish 28th Massachusetts. Apparently the Scotsmen were amused to see their natural rivals behaving poorly, and much was written about this incident.
3. Col. Johnson Hagood had received word of the fight for Tower Battery, and he thought ahead. Instead of sending everyone southeast and across the causeway to Secessionville and the Tower Battery, he sent several units south down the Battery Island Road. These men halted Wright's advance when he moved north on the same road.
4. There another friendly fire incident in this chapter, but this one involving the 24th SC and the Eutaw Battalion contained a twist. The 24th was acting as a skirmish line in front of a hedge while the Eutaws were deployed in line of battle behind. As the 3rd Rhode Island Heavies attacked, they fired at the 24th SC. The officers of the Eutaw Battalion, thinking the 24th SC was firing into them, kept calling on their men to hold their own fire. Eventually, as men of the 24th streamed through their lines, the Eutaw officers realized who was attacking, and the battalion opened up a galling fire, driving the Rhode Islanders back. However, due to the case of mistaken identity, the South Carolinians of the Eutaw Battalion suffered heavily where they could have otherwise handily beaten back the attack.
The Harper's Ferry Arsenal has again been updated. "NimitsTexan" has updated his Uniform Data files which place "Tim's" excellent uniform mods into the actual Bull Run scenarios where they should appear. I highly recommend this download if you want a more historically accurate appearance for your First Bull Run scenarios. Note that you must have "Tim's" uniform mods downloaded as well. "NimitsTexan" provides complete instructions in his readme.rtf file.
Secessionville: Assault On Charleston by Patrick Brennan
1. The beginning of the Union Assault on the Tower Battery from 4-4:50 A.M. on June 16 is described. Isaac Stevens' approximately 3000 officers and men were to lead the way, while Wright's Division provided support. Defending the Tower Battery at this time were only Lamar's artillersists, serving four guns and a mortar.
2. "Premonitions of Death": One thing you see a lot in Civil War battle histories is the "premonition of death", where a soldier, convinced he is going to die that day, gives up his wordly possessions and makes other provisions before going into combat. I wonder if this is just coincidence, and that the men who had premonitions and DIDN'T die were forgotten, while the ones who did die were remembered for obvious reasons. A lot of people were obviously going to die in a battle, so any premonitions had a much greater likelihood of coming true in these situations. I am also somewhat of a fan of horror movies and novels, and also of things that go bump in the night. You have to wonder if some tangible "sixth sense" led these men to know of their death before it happened. The incident which led me to post this little paragraph happens on page 185 of the book. Private Gustavus Poznanski, Jr. of the Charleston Bn. felt he was going to die, and he did on the ramparts of the Tower Battery.
3. The 8th Michigan was the leading regiment in the Union attack, and they faced only Lamar's artillerists manning the guns of the Tower Battery plus only 100 men of the 22nd South Carolina. The 8th Michigan's first two compnaies, the "forlorn hope", managed to sneak in amongst the cannoneers and started gunning them down. Just as the rest of the Michiganders reached the Battery, the Pee Dee Battalion arrived and stabilized the situation on the Confederate left. The Charleston Battalion arrived not too long after and stabilized the right. The Michigan men had almost won the battle barely after it started, but the men from South Carolina arrived in the nick of time, possibly saving Charleston from the Yankees in the process.
4. Brennan says the 28th Massaschusetts again performed poorly, as almost the entire regiment broke not too long after they entered the fight. I was again surprised that a future regiment of the famed Irish Brigade had done so poorly in its early combat, so I went to a web site of 28th Massaschusetts reenactors. In the Historical Research section, I found a history of the 28th in 1862. On this page I found the following regarding Secessionville:
On May 30, the 28th Massachusetts was sent to James Island as part of the Col. William Fenton's 1st Brigade of Maj. Gen. Isaac Stevens' Division. Numbering some 520 men, all ranks, the regiment came under hostile fire for the first time on June 1 and 2 in skirmishes on James Island, losing 5 men wounded. More severe combat lay ahead as the regiment took part in the assault on Fort Johnson (better known as the Battle of Secessionville) on June 16. Bogged down in an impassable swamp during the charge, the regiment suffered 67 casualties which included the death of Sgt. John J. McDonald who was killed carrying the colors. Afterwards, they were commended for their poise and bravery under the severe fire they faced from enemy forces firing behind entrenched positions.
At the end of this inconclusive engagement, the regiment returned back to Hilton Head. At this time, Col. Monteith, who had been separated from his command since May 20 when he was placed under arrest by Gen. David Hunter, resigned and was subsequently discharged from the army on August 12 at Newport News, Virginia. For the moment, he was superseded by Major George W. Cartwright, a capable subordinate who had resigned from the 12th New York State Militia to take the post of Adjutant back in 1861. Henceforth, Cartwright would provide steady and able leadership for the regiment for the next two years.
Throughout the first several months in the field, the 28th Massachusetts had suffered from internal dissension and inadequate leadership. Part of the difficulty lay in an ongoing conflict between a number of New York Irishmen like Montieth and those from Boston. From the beginning, Gov. Andrew had faced a continual onslaught of patronage requests from the powerful Irish political community and used his authority to provide appointments to Bay State regiments to assuage factional battles among rival Irish-American politicians and newspapermen. In addition, although the regiment was touted as an ethnic Irish unit, it never was of 100% Irish-American composition. Because of this, many additional problems stemmed from stress and strain that existed between Irish and American soldiers in its ranks.
When Monteith faced a possible court martial for his excessive drinking and numerous violations of army regulations, Gen. Isaac Stevens tried to persuade Gov. Andrew to appoint his son to lead the 28th, arguing that an American was needed to command an Irish regiment properly. When Monteith was eventually dismissed, however, Andrew named Lt. Col. Maclelland Moore as his replacement. Soon after, Moore himself resigned, unable to cope with the feuding officers. Despite all of this, the 28th Massachusetts performed well in its first baptism of fire at Secessionville, and for all intents and purposes, its fighting qualities seemed unaffected by these internal squabbles.
So which is it? Did the 28th break to the rear almost in its entirety, or did they deserve to be "commended for their poise and bravery"? It appears to me that Brennan is closer to the truth. Col. Richard Byrne was ordered in late 1862 to "fix" the "broken" 28th Massachusetts, according to the very same site.
"Tim" has released his 5th New York Zouaves uniform mod for Bull Run: Take Command 1861. The mod is available at Tim's MMG web site or at the Harper's Ferry Arsenal. He has also updated his Union w/ Kepi and Blanket Roll Uniform.
In addition, NimitsTexan has created a Combat Model (v0.3) which attempts to reduce casualties and cause units to rout after less punishment in an effort to make the game more historically accurate. This mod is also available at the Harper's Ferry Arsenal.
After reading Edwin's comments about Civil War board games, I managed to find a Board Game Geek "Geek List" that is a great starting point for people just getting into board wargaming the Civil War. It doesn't cover miniatures, but it's a start. I have the three volumes of the Seven Days from MultiMan Publishing's Brigade Series of games, formerly made by The Gamers. I also have "Stonewall Jackson's Way", a part of the "Great Campaigns of the Civil War" series formerly of Avalon Hill, but now sold by MultiMan Publishing.
American Conquest: Divided Nation, an American Civil War RTS game based on American Conquest, has an estimated release date of October 17, 2005. Here is a preview from Game Spot. I don't know too much about the American Conquest series, but I've heard that it is a nation-building and resource-collecting game in the same vein as Age of Empires. I'm pretty sure the historical accuracy might leave something to be desired, but it looks like a pretty fun game. The Hawks Online Gaming Community plays the entire series of American Conquest games, and they have a pretty interesting site. It looks like they will be the place to go for mods
involving the new game.
Secessionville: Assault On Charleston by Patrick Brennan
1. In Chapter 6, the Yankees worked to strengthen the defenses of their camps, bringing in heavy guns and building emplacements for them. There were also several sharp skirmishes between June 10 and June 14, with the heaviest at Grimball's Farm on June 10. The 79th New York also created "Battery Stevens" about 2000 yards SSW of the Tower Battery on the eastern edge of James Island. An all-day artillery duel then occurred on June 14.
2. The 47th Georgia was badly hurt in an ill-advised attack on parts of three waiting Northern regiments in the attack at Grimball's Farm. The attack was made only because Pemberton demanded some extra room to place a battery in an exposed forward position. This caused some serious friction between Pemberton and Smith, then in command of the James Island defenses. I say "then", because on June 12 Pemberton ordered "Shanks" Evans and two regiments from Savannah to James Island. Since Evans ranked Smith, he became the new commander on James Island when he arrived on June 14. Incredibly, Pemberton was still tinkering with his command. Friction between Smith, Evans, and Pemberton was inevitable. As Brennan writes, the Confederate command was "top-heavy with too many Generals".
3. The Federals had command problems of their own. Henry Benham decided on a three-pronged "grand reconnaissance" on June 11 to try to capture some forward Confederate Artillery. Brennan believes that "it was a plan fraught with peril". The aforementioned Action at Grimball's Farm on June 10 and David Hunter's abrupt departure for Hilton Head meant the reconnaissance was canceled. To Isaac Stevens, it was simply more bungling by two men he described as "imbecile, vascillatory, and utterly unfit to command". Horatio Wright was also disgusted by Benham's command decisions. When Hunter left, he gave Benham strict instructions not to attack. Brennan says the Union had the opposite problem from the Confederates. In the Yankee case, they had too few men in command.
The American Civil War Gaming & Reading Blog has reached 1000 hits. I thank everyone who has checked out the content these past 9 days or so, and I only hope I can continue to provide what I believe to be useful information in the future. In other words, I hope somebody's getting some use out of this stuff!
Rich Hamilton recently reviewed Battlevision: The Battle of Shiloh over at the Armchair General. It is a PC product (this is NOT a game, for those wondering) that covers the Battle of Shiloh in great detail. The most exciting thing is that the product contains detailed Orders of Battle down to regimental and battery level, includes officers in command of given regiments, and details casualties. If you are looking to design wargame scenarios covering Shiloh, this looks like a pretty solid product.
Blue & Gray magazine is one of the top Civil War magazines available. The main articles usually contain endnotes, and the maps are very detailed and numerous. Blue & Gray has an "article and tour guide format". That is, the magazine contains a main article on a battle or campaign, and later in the issue you will see a tour guide of the area. If you are a battlefield tramper, this is the magazine for you. The Fall 2005 issue focuses on the little-known "Battle" of Falling Waters, a skirmish between the forces of Robert Patterson and Stonewall Jackson that occurred on July 2, 1861. It was the baptism of fire for most units there that day, including elements of the famous Stonewall Brigade.
|The End of Innocence: The Battle of Falling Waters by Gary Gimbel|
Falling Waters was the baptism of fire for many units, including the Stonewall Brigade. It was the start of the little-known 1861 Valley Campaign. Robert Patterson, in charge of the Union forces, was tasked with keeping Joe Johnston's Army of the Shenandoah occupied while Irvin McDowell's Army of Northeastern Virginia attacked Pierre Beauregard's Confederate Army of the Potomac. The "Centennial Doctrine", as Dimitri Rotov is fond of calling it, says that Patterson failed badly and basically did nothing as Johnston reinforced Beauregard and beat McDowell at First Manassas. Recent scholarship, ignoring the Centennial Doctrine and using new sources and new research, is not so sure. What does author Gary Gimbel think? He doesn't really say too much about it, although he does point out that Patterson was the only one of his Generals who advocated an attack on Johnston during a council of war on July 9. This piece is more of a tactical history of the skirmish, rather than an overview of the '61 Valley Campaign. Gimbel is well suited to the task, having lived near the battlefield since 1989.
|Wiley Sword's War Letter Series - Where in the Name of God is Grant?|
In this column, author Wiley Sword selects a letter from his large collection and informs readers of the background of the letter. In this case, the letter is an order from Gen. Grant to Gen. Ord prior to the Battle of Iuka. Through some misunderstanding between Ord, Grant, and Rosecrans, Ord did not attack while Rosecrans fought the Battle of Iuka alone. The order led to the almost legendary dislike between Rosecrans and Grant.
|On The Back Roads - Lawrence, Kansas, Symbol of Abolition, Target of Border Ruffians by Michael O'Brien|
On The Back Roads is a feature of Blue & Gray dealing with lesser-known and smaller Civil War tourist attractions. In this particular entry, Lawrence, Kansas resident Michael O'Brien summarizes the burning and murder which occurred in Lawrence on August 21, 1863. Quantrill's raiders committed these atrocities in retaliation for the acts of "Jayhawkers" terrorizing pro-slavery families in Missouri. O'Brien writes that not all of Quantrill's men committed murder. Most stood by while a portion took their revenge. There seem to be quite a few sites from the War remaining in Lawrence.
|On The Back Roads - Heros von Borcke's Home and Grave in Poland by Stefan Slivka|
In this second installment of On The Back Roads, German resident Stefan Slivka writes about the former home and current burial site of Heros von Borcke, famous German aide to Gen. "Jeb" Stuart. The site was called Giesenbruegge during von Borcke's lifetime, but in the intervening years the German-Polish border was moved westward, making the site the current-day town of Gizyn, Poland.
Books reviewed in this issue:
in War: The Charleston Battalion
|Driving Tour - The Battle of Falling Waters and the 1861 Valley Campaign|
The Driving Tour for the Battle of Falling Waters was written by Gary Gimbel, the same author who wrote the main article. This is usually the case with B&G. The tour starts in Williamsport, MD and ends in Martinsburg, West Virginia, with 13 stops along the way. Some of the more interesting sites include an aqueduct of the old C&O Canal over Conococheague Creek near Williamsport, the Falling Waters waterfall, and the Railroad Roundhouse complex in Martinsburg. You can support preservation efforts of the Falling Waters Battlefield Association by going to their web site.
I finally managed to open up the latest issue of Blue & Gray magazine, and I realized immediately that the Falling Waters being described was not the Falling Waters of the Gettysburg Campaign, but instead an engagement which occurred early in the war near the same place on July 2, 1861. I should've paid more attention to Drew's post.
Clark Kenyon's Camp Pope Bookshop is an excellent online resource for books on the Civil War, especially on topics concerning the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the War. The store was started in 1988 as a mail-order book service specializing in out-of-print books, and it has grown ever since. While the Camp Pope Bookshop does still offer out-of-print and rare books, they now specialize in Trans-Mississippi Theater books that are in print. You can order a free catalog here. In addition, the Press of the Camp Pope Bookshop publishes books usually focusing on Missouri and Iowa in the War. It was started in 1991 and has published 14 books in that time. A list of the books they have printed can be found here.
Other interesting features of the web site include the Book Review & Affiliate programs and the Message Board. Mr. Kenyon offers readers the chance to review books he sells at $5.00 store credit per review (as of Sept. 11, 2005) and a limit of 10 reviews. The Affiliate program allows anyone with a web site to direct potential buyers to Camp Pope's site. Any book bought after a referral from an Affiliate earns said Affiliate a portion of the money made. I joined several years ago. It was easy to sign up and the instructions provided for setting up referral links were simple to follow and clearly worded. The Message Board is a great place to go if you have questions about books on a certain Trans-Mississippi battle, or if you are doing research in that area.
Mr. Kenyon's Camp Pope Bookshop is a great place to go, offers competitive pricing, and also offers many other opportunities to the individual book buyer. Go there today and check it out!
MMG playtester and modmaker extraordinaire "Tim" (the MMG playtesters and employees always just go by one name, usually either their first name or a nickname) is getting ready to release a new uniform mod featuring the 5th NY Zouaves on Tuesday. A picture of the size of the sprite in the game is at right. Tim has an excellent Bull Run: Take Command 1861 fan site featuring his uniform mods. The game really looks colorful once you insert his uniforms! Tim hopes to have the final version finished some time this coming week, possibly as early as Tuesday. A more detailed image of the uniform can be seen by clicking HERE.
The Fall 2005 issue of Blue & Gray magazine reached my doorstep this afternoon. As Drew Wagenhoffer points out in his new Civil War Books and Authors blog, the main subject this time around is Falling Waters. I should have a summary of the contents up some time next week.
In part 2 of this multi-part post, I've collected Coastal Carolinas (and other Coastal Expeditions) wargame scenarios from some of the more well-known Civil War computer games and board games (although I'm lacking in that area), and I provide links or downloads where applicable. Age of Rifles and Campaign Corinth lead the way. If you know of any scenarios I've missed, definitely leave a comment or send me an email.
1. New Berne 1862 by Rafael A. Mackenzie - readme.doc
2. Secessionville 1862 by Chris Jackson- no readme.doc
3. Olustee 1864 by Rafael A. Mackenzie - readme.doc
4. Plymouth 1864 by J.P. Asuncion - readme.doc
5. Honey Hill 1864 by Rafael A. Mackenzie - readme.doc
6. Fort Fisher 1865 by Rafael A. Mackenzie - readme.doc
Talonsoft Battleground Bull Run
1. Olustee 1864
Civil War Generals 2 - No Scenarios
1. POCOTALIGO 1862 & 1864 - Seven Battles in SW S.C. (2 Yankee Invasions-From Beaufort and Hilton Head Island) by Western Carolina Historical Research
This item is only available on eBay from time to time from eBay seller westerncarolinahistoricalres. I checked, and the game is not being offered right now. Rest assured, he usually lists the game once or twice a month. Here’s a LINK to the last sale, now ended. If you’re reading this too far removed from early September 2005, this link may not work.
NOTE:This is the part where I need readers' help. I know there must be other board games out there, whether stand alone boxed games or the type found in board wargame magazines like Strategy & Tactics. If you know of any other board games covering the Carolinas Coastal Campaigns, please comment here. I (and other wargamers) will definitely appreciate it!
Secessionville: Assault On Charleston by Patrick Brennan
1. This chapter focuses on the preliminary Federal buildup on James Island from June 4-9, 1862. Apparently the heavy rain during this time made the Federal advance proceed slowly. Stevens' Union Division tried to create more space on Sol Legare and James Islands with daily probes (when the rain permitted it) for Wright's Division, which was located west across the Stono River at Legareville. The Confederates seemed strangely content during this period to just allow the Northern build-up. The normally aggressive Nathan "Shanks" Evans was oddly quiescent during this time, and the Rebels lost several opportunities to do some real damge to the Yankees, who were basically straddling the Stono River.
2. One thing I did not realize as I started this book was that many of the regiments on both sides had not faced real combat to this point other than the occasional skirmish. For many of these men, this was a brand new ordeal. Friendly fire incidents seem to have been common during this buildup to the Battle of Secessionville. And some regiments which are generally regarded as hard fighters in the history of the war, such as the 28th Massachusetts, performed poorly in their first tests of combat.
3. More bad news came for Pemberton in the form of reduced strength. Lawton's Georgia Brigade was at first allowed to remain in Pemberton's Department, but soon enough Davis changed his mind and ordered these men to Richmond. This created another command vacuum in the Department (Lawton had commanded at Savannah), so Pemberton, ever the bureaucrat, moved Mercer from the threatened area at Charleston, gave him the Savannah command, and placed BG William Duncan Smith in charge of Mercer's old command on James Island. Apparently this at least was good news. Smith immediately conceived of a "unified defensive concept" for the island. He organized a Brigade-sized force and labeled it his "Advanced Forces". It was to act as a mobile force to counteract the expected Federal thrusts. Col. Hagood was placed in charge of this command, and it consisted of the 1st SC, the 24th SC, Eutaw's Bn., and the artillerymen of the 4th LA Bn. Smith also created "strong points" behind the skirmish line but in front of the Confederate entrenchments where troops could fall back to if threatened.
Does anyone know how to install Sierra's Civil War Generals 2 on a Windows XP rig? I sure don't, and half an hour of trial and error has gotten me exactly nowhere. Unfortunately, I'm not a patient guy, and that's about as much time as I'm willing to waste.
I'm trying to run the setup.exe file from the CD, and nothing is happening. I've tried Windows 95 compatibility mode, DOSBox, and some other stuff. If anyone knows the answer, I'd definitely appreciate it. I'm downloading the game from The Underdogs as we speak, so I'll see if I can get that version to run.
Rich Walker, a game designer for HPS Simulations, has agreed to join fellow game designer Drew Wagenhoffer as a part-time guest blogger. Rich has done two Civil War games for HPS, Campaign Franklin and Campaign Shiloh. I've worked with Rich as a playtester for both games, and he is working on a third as we speak. You might want to check out the interviews I conducted with him for Franklin and Shiloh over at the American Civil War Campaign Games Design Center. I look forward to the content these guys are going to provide.
Reading Secessionville: Assault On Charleston has reawakened my interest in the Coastal Operations of the Civil War, particularly Burnside's North Carolina Expedition and the numerous Union efforts around Charleston. In this first part of "Wargaming Carolinas Coastal Operations", I hope to give scenario designers some basic research materials that I have come across both in print and on the web. In future parts, I hope to cover games containing Coastal Carolinas scenarios already made either as mods or imbedded in the originals, and I also want to spotlight Rich White's "company level" scenario system for HPS' Campaign Corinth v1.01a (later versions do not allow modding efforts, unfortunately). Examples of scenarios using this system can be found on Rich White's scenario page at the ACW Campaign Games Design Center. I think this scale is perfect for a lot of the smaller skirmishes andd fights which marked the operations in this area.
NOTE: The research list below is by no means comprehensive. If you know of other books, magazine articles, etc., please comment and list those sources.
Burnside's 1862 North Carolina Expedition
1. A Succession of Honorable Victories: The Burnside Expedition In North Carolina by Richard A. Sauers
This book, published by Morningside Books but apparently no longer available directly from them, covers Burnside's early 1862 expedition to the coast of North Carolina. Some of the Battles include Roanoke Island, New Bern, Fort Macon, and South Mills. Burnside made some definite inroads into coastal North Carolina.
2. The USAMHI Reference Bibliography for the Campaign
I usually go to the excellent USAMHI site when I want to see what's available for a given campaign. The Word document above contains numerous books, papers, and articles dealing with Burnside's Campaign
3. The Official Records
Volume IX, Chapter 20 - Operations in North Carolina. Jan. 11-Aug. 20, 1862.
1. Secessionville: Assault On Charleston by Patrick Brennan
As many of you reading this know, I'm in the middle of this book right now. Looking through the maps and judging by the narrative so far, it looks to be a pretty good assessment of this phase of the Battles against Charleston.
2. Gate of Hell: Campaign For Charleston Harbor, 1863 by Stephen R. Wise
I haven't been able to obtain a copy of this book yet, but I hope to soon.
3. The Siege of Charleston 1861-1865 by E. Milby Burton
I don't have a copy of this one either and I haven't heard much about it. If anybody has the book and can tell me a little bit about it, I would greatly appreciate it.
4. Battery Wagner, The Siege, The Men Who Fought, and The Casualties by Timothy E. Bradshaw, Jr.
I only just found out about this book today. As the title indicates, it concentrates on the preliminary and main assaults at Battery Wagner.
6. The USAMHI Reference Bibliography for the Reduction of Ft. Pulaski, GA
This concentrates only on the reduction of Fort Pulaski in late 1861, but it deals with many of the same troops and the same Union Blockading Squadron as the later Campaigns for Charleston.
7. The Army Official Records
Land Assaults Against Charleston
a. Volume VI, Chap 15 - Operations on the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Middle and East Florida. Aug 21, 1861-Apr 11, 1862
b. Volume XIV, Chap. 26 - Operations on the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Middle and East Florida. Apr 12, 1862-Jun 11, 1863
c. Volume XXVIII, Chap. 40, Part 1 - Operations on the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, an din Middle and East Florida. June 12-December 31, 1863 (Reports)
d. Volume XXVIII, Chap. 40, Part 2 - Operations on the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, and in Middle and East Florida. June 12-December 31, 1863 (Correspondence, etc.)
e. Volume XXXV, Chap 47, Part 1 - Operations in South Carolina and Florida, and on the Georgia Coast. January 1-November 13, 1864 (Reports, Union and Confederate Correspondence, etc.)
f. Volume XXXV, Chap 47, Part 2 - Operations in South Carolina and Florida, and on the Georgia Coast. January 1-November 13, 1864 (Union and Confederate Correspondence, etc.)
9. Sumter Is Avenged!: The Siege and Reduction of Ft. Pulaski by Herbert M. Schiller
Drew Wagenhoffer recommended this book to me regarding the reduction of Ft. Pulaski in late 1861.
Secessionville: Assault On Charleston by Patrick Brennan
1. Just as the Campaign was about to begin, Roswell Ripley and two more regiments were sent north to Richmond. Ripley, a cantankerous sort, thought Pemberton was incompetent and this low opinion was at least partly responsible for his transfer. Ripley wanted out from under Pemberton. This hurt the Confederates, and caused Gov. Pickens a great deal of anxiety, because Ripley knew the defenses of Charleston inside and out. His replacement, Hugh Mercer, was an unknown entity. Due to this change, Pemberton reorganized his entire Department. It's interesting to note that both Patrick Brennan and Tim Smith (in his book Champion Hill: Decisive Battle for Vicksburg) both refer to Pemberton as a "bureaucrat", or a "desk General". At any rate, he did seem to enjoy reorganizing his Department at regular intervals.
2. I found it interesting that Lee's advice to Pemberton during a time of shrinking manpower and threatening Yankee movements was to essentially abandon the Charleston-Savannah Railroad and just concentrate on defending those two major cities. Brennan points out that had Isaac Stevens' plan (he wanted to hit the railroad at Pocotaligo and then move north on Charleston to isolate the city) been followed, Charleston might have been in big trouble. As it was, since Benham dismissed Stevens' plan, Lee's advice turned out to be sound. It is also interesting (to me anyway), that Pemberton found himself in a similar situation at Vicksburg less than a year later. His attempt to defend that city and not to contest Grant's advance forcefully and purposefully beyond the Big Black River caused him to be holed up in the Mississippi River port permanently. Pemberton also seems to have had a habit of doubting himself at key moments. That is a serious weakness in a commanding General, and one that's bound to make people regard you as incompetent.
3. The Federals advanced on James Island from the southwest (Wright's Division overland by way of Johns Island) and the south (Stevens' Division by sea) from June 2-5, 1862. A lot of these troops seemed to be newly brigaded, and the march of Wright's Division at least showed less than ideal precision and cohesion. Regardless, by June 5, there were two Northern Divisions either on or next to James Island, at the doorstep of Charleston.
1. Isaac Stevens had seen that there was little room to land all of the Northern troops on Sol Legare Island, so he ordered elements of the 79th NY, 100th PA, and 28th MA regiments to advance in a northerly direction and clear the entire island of Confederates. Meanwhile, the 24th SC had been ordered to recover Chichester's three guns stuck in the mud at the north end of the island. These competing aims led to the short but sharp "Action at Sol Legare Island". The 28th MA performed poorly, and the 24th SC, supported by the Eutaw Battalion, drove the three Federal regiments back and captured 20+ men of Captain Cline's detachment of the 100th PA. These were the first Union soldiers captured in the Campaign. Federal gunboats then threw shells at the Confederates and forced them back. They left Chichester's guns, and the Northerners managed to extricate two of the guns and bring them back to camp.
2. I just noticed that although the maps go down to regimental and even company levels, not one map so far has the map scale printed on it. This will make it tough for wargamers to create scenarios based on the maps in this book. Also, no scale can oftentimes make judging the distances involved nearly impossible. I'm not sure why this was omitted, but it is definitely a small negative.
3. Pemberton responded to the Union operation by ordering more regiments to the Charleston area. However, Alexander Lawton's large Georgia Brigade was instead sent to Richmond. In addition, Pemberton made things worse by constantly giving direct orders to States Rights Gist instead of following the proper channel of command and sending orders to Hugh Mercer.
I've entered the fraternity of eBay sellers tonight with five listings. Of particular interest to some of you might be the Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida & Arkansas volumes of Stewart Sifakis' Compendium. The Virginia volume in particular is very reasonably priced. I am also selling a copy of Ed Bearss' First Manassas Battlefield Map Study (but WITHOUT the maps) and a paperback copy of Noah Andre Trudeau's Bloody Roads South. Bid early and bid often!
1. Compendium of the Confederate Armies - Virginia
2. Compendium of the Confederate Armies - North Carolina
3. Compendium of the Confederate Armies - Florida & Arkansas
4. First Manassas Battlefield Map Study
5. Bloody Roads South (paperback)
Drew Wagenhoffer, who I introduced earlier this week as an occasional guest blogger here, has also decided to get into the ACW blogging business full time. His new blog, Civil War Books and Authors, features "discussions of the Civil War books, authors, publishers, and booksellers that interest [Drew]". His collection of books dwarfs mine, and since his attraction to the War lies mainly in the Western and Trans-Mississippi Theaters, I can't wait to see what kind of interesting content he'll provide. The number of rare and small-press books he owns on those Theaters of War astounds me. When I'm looking for new books to pick up on lesser known campaigns he is usually the first person I send an email to. Bookmark his site. I know I have. I can promise that you will not be disappointed.
I should have posted this immediately upon starting the blog. HPS Simulations announced the release of patches for three games in the Civil War Battles series on August 23, 2005. Campaign Corinth (v1.04), Campaign Ozark (v1.03), and Campaign Peninsula (v1.01) were all updated.
In addition, Campaign Shiloh was patched to version 1.01 over last weekend.
The patches are available at the Civil War Battles series Patches page.
Secessionville: Assault On Charleston by Patrick Brennan
Note: As I move along through this book (and future books) I hope to pick out a few important ideas or vignettes from each chapter and post as I go. I normally take notes from the books I read anyway in order to write up a book review after I am finished, so I hope these ongoing entries will help me with remembering the key points by putting them down while they are fresh in my mind. In other words, these blog entries should add to my written notes and aid in the construction of my reviews.
I last left Secessionville after having read the Introduction and Prologue. Hunter had taken command of the forces threatening Charleston and Savannah, and he brought Henry Benham with him. Benham apparently was a difficult man to get along with, and Brennan makes this clear from the beginning.
1. When Robert E. Lee had held the command of South Carolina and Georgia, he had developed a plan to abandon the tidewater region when necessary and to defend more solid points inland. Apparently Gen. John C. Pemberton, Lee's successor, also held to this view. However, he was not as skillful when it came to dealing with the local politicians, who believed that every inch of ground should not be abandoned without a fight. To make matters worse, due to the Shiloh and Peninsula Campaigns, troops were being taken repeatedly from Pemberton's Department. This resulted in even greater troop withdrawals, and hence more fighting among Pemberton and various citizens and politicians.
2. Robert Smalls, a slave and pilot of the Confederate ship Planter, managed with the help of several other slaves of the ship's crew to take the ship out of Charleston Harbor and into the Union Fleet. Smalls, in addition to providing the Federals with several cannon contained on the Planter, also gave Hunter the information that the Confederates had abandoned Coles Island ("Charleston's southern flank") and had also been forced to send reinforcements to Richmond and Corinth, Mississippi. Brennan writes that this intelligence in effect was a catalyst for the start of the Campaign.
1. Apparently James Island had been used as an invasion point against Charleston by the British during the Revolutionary War. Hunter hoped to repeat this invasion. The Confederates had some formidable earthworks which split the Island in half. In addition, Fort Pemberton guarded the right flank and Tower Battery guarded the left. Tower Battery became important later at the Battle of Secessionville.
2. Union BG Isaac Stevens had realized early on in his stay in South Carolina that the key to the whole area lay in the Charleston-Savannah Railroad. He wanted to send an expedition to cut this railroad at Pocotaligo, S.C., and then advance north to isolate Charleston. However, when Hunter and Benham took over for Gen. Thomas Sherman, Benham dismissed Stevens' plan out of hand. He relented slightly just before the James Island Expedition, though with some extremely cumbersome qualifiers. First, Stevens was only allowed to burn just one bridge near Pocotaligo. Second, he only had 24 hours to attack Pocotaligo and was only allowed one regiment for the expedition. Needless to say, Confederate reinforcements rushed to the area and forced the reinforced Regiment to retreat. Stevens' opinion of his superior Benham, already low, grew that much worse.
3. By this point in the narrative, it has become clear that Brennan is using a method similar to Warren Grabau in his book Ninety-Eight Days: A Geographer's View of the Vicksburg Campaign. He describes the action from a Confederate POV, and then moves on to describe it from the Union POV. I'll be interesting to see if he continues this as the narrative moves to the Battle of Secessionville.
Since I just received the Sifakis Alabama volume today, I was able to update the Confederate Order of Battle for June 15, 1864 with all of the information for the Alabama units at my Petersburg Campaign Project site.
The list of guest bloggers is growing, and I can't tell you how excited I am by the quality individuals who have agreed to lend a hand.
Next to sign on is J. David Petruzzi, owner of the excellent Buford's Boys! web site. The site is absolutely full of interesting articles on the Union Cavalry in the East, especially (as the title indicates) Buford's First Cavalry Division of the Cavalry Corps, AotP. It has been cited as a source by many individuals, and that is a testament to its quality. He also has written two articles published in America's Civil War magazine. "The Fleeting Fame of Alfred Pleasonton" appeared in March 2005, while "John Buford by the Book" appeared in the July 2005 issue. J.D., quite an active guy, also happens to be a co-owner of Ironclad Publishing Company along with Eric Wittenberg. He hopes to have a few books published soon through Ironclad, so be on the lookout Cavalry lovers!
I just recently started reading the latest issue of North & South magazine. For those of you who have never read an issue, I consider this, along with Blue & Gray, to be the two best Civil War magazines today. (Note: I haven't seen much of Gettysburg Magazine, which I hear is excellent from everyone I've talked to.) North & South features extensive endnotes, highly detailed maps (including topographical lines in many cases), and a who's who of current authors. I hope to make these short summaries of each issue of North & South and the other Civil War magazines I subscribe to a regular feature of the blog. Feel free to add any comments on articles if they are of interest to you.
|Al Nofi's Knapsack|
Al Nofi's Knapsack is a regular column in N&S that focuses on interesting anecdotes gleaned from numerous sources. Among the more interesting posts was one talking about the "boozers" and "teetotalers" in the ranks of Northern and Southern Generals. Nofi makes an interesting point that being a "boozer" or a "teetotaler" had no real effect on the quality of the General. For instance, Grant was known as a "boozer", but Gen. Bragg was a "teetotaler". Likewise, James Ledlie was a "boozer", while Robert E. Lee was a "teetotaler". Alcohol seems to have affected different men in vastly different ways. The other interesting tidbit was a "Biofile" of MG E.O.C. Ord and his family tree. Apparently many Ords served prior to and long after the General, from the War of 1812 through Vietnam.
|What Caused The Civil War? by Edward L. Ayers|
I'm not particularly interested in the causes of the War or any other antebellum issues, especially when I see the still strong (and sometimes violent) responses these topics engender. Edward L. Ayers wades right in however with a pretty funny Simpsons reference featuring Apu Nahasapeemapetilan (did I spell that right?). Ayers concludes (among other things) that there is no rote, correct answer to his title question, that slavery did not lead to the war "in a rational, predictable way", but that all of the complex answers you can give inevitably do lead back to slavery in some form. He calls slavery "the key catalytic agent in a volatile new mix of democratic politics and accelerated communication, a process chemical in its complexity and subtlety".
|The Greatest Raid by William L. Shea|
William Shea's article focuses on BG James Blount's Raid on Van Buren, Arkansas from Dec. 27-31, 1862 following the Battle of Prairie Grove. Blount, an aggressive fighter, was only in charge temporarily. BG John Schofield had gone north to St. Louis to recover from a serious illness. Blount used his time in command well, taking Van Buren and surprising elements of MG Thomas Hindman's Army of the Trans-Mississippi. The raid caused the destruction of food and other supplies at nearby Ft. Smith, and it caused serious hardship for the Southern Army in an area and at a time when it could least afford it. As Shea puts it, "if Blunt did not precisely drive Hindman out of northwest Arkansas, he made his departure as embarrassing and as painful as possible, and effectively guaranteed that he would not return". I'd never read about the raid on Van Buren previously, so I followed this particular article with great interest. As usual, the maps in North & South were superb. In looking over the endnotes, Shea relied pretty much entirely on primary sources, including letters, diaries, newspaper articles, and of course the Official Records.
|Confederate Crusaders by Peter S. Carmichael|
Social history is also an area I'm not too fond of, so this article wasn't particularly interesting to me personally. Your mileage may vary. Prof. Carmichael describes the eponymous last generation of Virginia aristocrats, "men born between 1831 and 1843". This article, based on the book The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion, attempts to explain why these men were such passionate devotees to the Confederate Cause.
|Abraham Lincoln, American Hero by Harold Holzer|
Mr. Holzer argues in this article "that well before April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln had already, decisively earned the status of American hero. And legendary modesty notwithstanding, Lincoln worked as hard as any post-assassination myth maker to reach that pinnacle." He argues that the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation immediately and permanently, and that Lincoln knew this instinctively.
|Ambush on the Stono by Derek Smith|
Derek Smith's article concentrates on the ambush of the Union gunboat Isaac Smith by masked Confederate batteries in the Stono River. Apparently Admiral Du Pont and his Southeast Atlantic Blockading Squadron had been making sorties with lone gunboats into the Stono River near Charleston early in 1863. The Rebels had been allowing these sorties with minimal interference, but that was about to change. BG Roswell Ripley came up with a plan to plant some masked batteries during the night and then allow the next Union gunboat to steam past unmolested. When the gunboat reached the last battery, it would open fire. The confederates hoped to disable and capture the ship in this way. It turned out to be a stunning success. The Isaac Smith was hit in the boiler, and after drifting helplessly, it was forced to surrender. Mr. Smith covered this little-known action at Charleston quite well. Although there were no maps, it was pretty easy to follow the fighting.
|"Gentlemen, You Have Played This D--D Well!" by Tonia J. Smith|
"Teej" Smith wrote a very interesting article concerning the events surrounding the hanging of Confederates Walter G. Peter and William O. Williams on June 9, 1863 near Fort Granger and Franklin, Tennessee. The Union commander at Fort Granger, Colonel John P. Baird, was fooled by the spies initially. Luckily for him, his subordinates were not as naive. There were some bizarre elements to the story, including Baird's botched handling of the situation and the prisoners' request to be hanged without having their hands tied. I'm not normally a big fan of these types of human interest articles, but I thought Ms. Smith did an excellent job on this one.
|Briefings (Book Reviews)|
Books reviewed in this issue:
1. The Civil War, 1861-1865 (Smithsonian Headliners Series)
1. Cassie’s Sweet Berry Pie: A Civil War Story
Two more gentlemen whose opinions I highly value have agreed to possibly add guest content in the future.
First is Drew Wagenhoffer, who is a game designer for HPS Simulations. Drew has done three Civil War games for HPS, including Campaign Corinth, Campaign Ozark, and Campaign Peninsula. I'm an uncompensated playtester for HPS, so I've gotten to "know" Drew pretty well via email. You might also want to check out the interviews I conducted with him for Corinth, Ozark, and Peninsula over at the American Civil War Campaign Games Design Center.
Second is David Cross, the author of A Melancholy Affair: The Vermont Brigade, June 23, 1864. David has a website promoting the book entitled A Melancholy Affair At The Weldon Railroad. The book focuses on the Vermont Brigade of Wright's VI Corps during the First Battle at the Weldon Railroad (aka The Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road), which was fought from June 21-24, 1864 during Grant's Second Offensive against the city of Petersburg. The Vermonters found themselves cut off from their main lines on June 23 and most were captured and ultimately sent to Andersonville. Although I don't yet own a copy, I plan to make it a part of my next ACW purchase at Amazon. The book is currently available both at Amazon and from White Main Publishing Company. I'm a huge fan of the Petersburg Campaign, so you will probably see me highlighting a lot of books and authors which focus on that area in the future.
Do you have any old gaming favorites such as Age of Rifles which, despite your best efforts, just refuse to run on Windows XP? If the answer is yes and you have some knowledge of DOS, a good program to turn to is DOSBox. DOSBox is a Windows, Linux and Mac-based product which allows you to run all of your old DOS games with as little hassle as possible. It took me a little bit of trial and error (and some reading of the manual) to get things set up properly, but now Age of Rifles runs relatively smoothly on my Windows XP Home desktop. I first heard about this piece of software in this post on the Age of Rifles Yahoo Group. Thanks to user "Patrick" for the idea.
I've always been one to buck settled history. In my mind, the only way to make sure that history remains a living, breathing, evolving thing is to challenge its settled assumptions. Properly and responsibly done, revisionism can be a powerful and welcome tool that causes us all to sit back and ask whether we should change the way we look at things. Consequently, I've always been known as one who's not afraid of tilting at windmills.
However, doing so carries a great deal of responsibility. Whenever we challenge settled interpretations of history, we must do so carefully. Words are an extraordinarily powerful tool, and the choice of words can play havoc on people and on settled interpretations. Consequently, the only appropriate way to revise settled history is to do so responsibly and where there is ample evidence to support those revisionist interpretations of history.
I wish I could say that Tom Carhart's recent book, Lost Triumph: Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg--and Why It Failed is a worthy piece of revisionist history that adds something to the existing body of knowledge. Sadly, I cannot. Carhart's work is revisionism of the worst sort--it's grossly irresponsible, and there is not a shred of evidence to support Carhart's contentions. What astonishes me most of all is that people have been flocking to buy this piece of tripe and that prominent and well-respected historians such as James McPherson and John Keegan have put their imprimatur on something that has no basis in fact.
Carhart's theory is that Pickett's Charge was to be coordinated with Jeb Stuart's thrust at the Union rear with his cavalry. According to Carhart, the one true hero of the Battle of Gettysburg--the man who saved the Union--was Brig. Gen. George A. Custer. Thus, the clash on East Cavalry Field takes on an importance that it never had. Even for the most ardent cavalry admirer--like me--East Cavalry Field, while tactically important, has never been much more than a sideshow to the big show, to borrow a line from Sam Watkins.
The problem with this theory is that there simply is not a single shred of evidence to support it. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Stuart's movement was in any fashion coordinated with what we now know as Pickett's Charge. Not to be deterred by the facts, Carhart makes the preposterous and wholly unsubstantiated claim that the historical evidence was either destroyed, or even more absurd, that it was hidden and kept from Jeb Stuart to protect his delicate ego. Never mind that there is not a single stitch of evidence to support any of this. Where there is no evidence, Carhart just makes it up, inventing conversations that never took place to suit his purposes.
Where there is historical or documentary evidence that rebuts his theory, Carhart either manipulates it to suit his purposes, or he launches personal attacks on them. An excellent example of this is Brig. Gen. David M. Gregg, who commanded the Federal forces on East Cavalry Field. Gregg, according to Carhart, lied in his official report of the action in order to steal the credit that rightfully belonged to George A. Custer. The problem with this is that even the most staunch Custer supporter--Capt. James H. Kidd, who was Custer's hand-picked successor to command the Michigan Cavalry Brigade when Custer was promoted to division command--saw it otherwise. Here's what Kidd had to say about this:
"Thus, it is made plain that there was no 'mistake' about it. It was Gregg's prescience. He foresaw the risk of attempting to guard the right flank with only the two decimated brigades of his own division. With him, to see was to act. He took the responsibility of intercepting Kilpatrick's rear and largest brigade, turning it off the Baltimore pike to the right, instead of allowing it to go to the left as it had been ordered to do, and thus, doubtless, a serious disaster was averted. It makes us tremble to think of what might have been, of what inevitably must have happened had Gregg, with only two two little brigades of McIntosh and Irvin Gregg, and Randol's battery, tried to cope single-handed with the four brigades and three batteries, comprising the very flower of Confederate cavalry and artillery, which those brave knights--Stuart, Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee--were marshaling in person on Cress' Ridge. If Custer's presence on this field was opportune, and, as has often been said, providential, it is to General D. M. Gregg to whom, under Providence, the credit for bringing him here is due. Gregg was a great and modest soldier; let us pause a moment before we enter upon a description of the coming battle, to pay him the tribute of our admiration. In the light of all of the official reports, put together link by link, so as to make one connected chain of evidence, we can see that the engagement which took place twenty-six years ago, was, from first to last, a well planned battle, in which the different commands were maneuvered and placed with the same sagacity displayed by a skillful chess player in moving the pieces upon a chess board; in which every detail was the fruit of the brain of one man, who, from the time when he turned Custer to the northward until he sent the First Michigan thundering against the brigades of Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee made not a single false move; who was distinguished not less for his intuitive foresight than for his quick perceptions at critical moments. That man was General David McM. Gregg."
Unlike Tom Carhart, James H. Kidd was there, and was an active participant in that battle. Kidd had the benefit of his own observations, as well as of speaking with many other veterans. Kidd also worshipped George Custer. Kidd also said, "This conclusion has been reached by a mind not--certainly not--predisposed in that direction, after a careful recent study, and review of all the information within reach bearing upon that eventful day. If the Michigan Brigade won honors there that will not perish, it was to Gregg that it owed the opportunity; and his guiding hand it was that made its blows effecctive. We shall see how, later in the day, he again boldly took responsibility at a critical moment and held Custer to his work on the right, even after the latter had been ordered by higher authority than he (Gregg), to rejoin Kilpatrick, and after Custer had begun the movement."
It bears noting that these passages by Kidd come from his speech at the 1889 dedication of the monument to the Michigan Cavalry Brigade that stands on the spot where the 1st Michigan Cavalry's charge crashed into the onrushing Confederate cavalry on East Cavalry Field. This address has been published a number of times, including in Kidd’s well-known memoirs and also in a MOLLUS paper, and was readily available to Carhart. He never mentions it in his book.
Another point that needs to be made here is that Gregg actually usurped Custer twice during the fighting on East Cavalry Field. On two separate instances, Gregg issued orders directly to the commanders of first the 7th Michigan and later the 1st Michigan Cavalry regiments to charge. On both instances, Custer joined the charges, but he never ordered them. While he was undoubtedly brave and undoubtedly provided inspirational leadership to his Wolverines that day, the fact is that Gregg ordered those charges, not Custer. There is plenty of historical evidence to prove this.
Quite disenguously, Carhart then argues that Gregg--who, by the way, was known as one of the modest and self-effacing officers to serve in the Army of the Potomac--intentionally downplayed Custer's role in order to play up his own role. This outrageous, slanderous claim flies directly in the face of ample historical evidence: David Gregg was remembered fondly by his men as “tall and spare, of notable activity, capable of the greatest exertion and exposure; gentle in manner but bold and resolute in action. Firm and just in discipline he was a favorite of his troopers and ever held, for he deserved, their affection and entire confidence.” Gregg knew the principles of war and was always ready and eager to apply them. Endowed “with a natural genius of high order, he [was] universally hailed as the finest type of cavalry leader. A man of unimpeachable personal character, in private life affable and genial but not demonstrative, he fulfilled with modesty and honor all the duties of the citizen and head of an interesting and devoted family.” A former officer later commented that Gregg’s “modesty kept him from the notoriety that many gained through the newspapers; but in the army the testimony of all officers who knew him was the same. Brave, prudent, dashing when occasion required dash, and firm as a rock, he was looked upon, both as a regimental commander and afterwards as Major-General, as a man in whose hands any troops were safe.” His men called him “Old Reliable.” Does that sound like a man who would downplay Custer's role just to advance his own interests?
Carhart also claims that Stuart's decision to order one of his batteries to fire four shots in the four directions of the compass was a signal to Robert E. Lee that he was in position and that Lee could then order the grand assault that became Pickett's Charge. There is not a single shred of documentable evidence to support this claim. None at all. Further, historian Bill Styple has recently published an excellent new book titled _Generals in Bronze_, which consists of transcripts of interviews conducted by the eminent sculptor, James Kelly, who sculpted the monument to John Buford on the Gettysburg battlefield. One officer interviewed by Kelly was Alexander C. M. Pennington, who commanded the battery of horse artillery assigned to serve with Custer's brigade. Here's what Pennington had to say about this episode:
"When Jeb Stuart rode round our army at Gettysburg without striking us on the morning of July 3rd, he found that he could not locate us. Now [Maj. Henry] McClellan who was on his staff told me this story. He said that Stuart looked in every direction but could find no sign of our stroops, so he ordered a gun out and ordered it to be fired in different directions in hopes of getting an echo or a reply from one of our guns, and then through his glass locate the smoke.
He fired in one direction, and then [received] an answering gun. He said that shot from that gun entered the muzzle of their gun, and knocked it off the trunions, breaking two wheels. Now, he said, this seems remarkable, almost incredible, but when he told me that story he said, 'I assure you on the honor of a gentleman that it is true.' And the singular fact is that it was my gun that did it. I was standing with Custer when I told my gunners to fire at them. He was an Irishman by the name of
I'd like to thank Eric Wittenberg, author of many books on Cavalry operations in the Civil War, including Protecting the Flanks, Glory Enough For All, and Little Phil, for offering to guest author on this blog from time to time. Eric also happens to own and run Ironclad Publishing, which publishes the excellent Discovering Civil War America Series.
Secessionville: Assault On Charleston by Patrick Brennan
I've owned Secessionville for quite some time, although I'm just now getting around to reading it. After reading over the Introduction and Prologue and skimming through the book, I'm looking forward to starting. The author, Patrick Brennan, is a musician by trade but an apparently avid and knowledgeable Civil War buff. I've seen some of his work in the excellent Civil War magazine North & South recently. The edition I have is a second edition published by the now defunct Savas Publishing Company, which has been succeeded by Savas Beatie LLC. There are 23 maps and also 23 illustrations scattered throughout the text, and the maps look pretty good. They go to regimental and sometimes company detail, which is good for a battle of the size of Secessionville. However, the scale is not on the map, and the graphics look a little "computerish". I’ve been told that this omission (along with the typos in the book) is a direct result of Savas Woodbury Publishing changing to Savas Publishing. This was the very last book done with that company calling itself Savas-Woodbury.
The Prologue details the situation as it stood in the Spring of 1862 along the southeast Atlantic coast near Charleston and Savannah. The Federals had taken Hilton Head and Beaufort and reduced Fort Pulaski. Now Gen. Hunter was looking to take out Charleston.