St. Louis Civil War Roundtable – May 2016
1. What were the “omnibus promotions”?
On 13 March 1865 many Union Volunteer officers were summarily promoted to brevet grades due to their wartime meritorious service. The lowest rank to be promoted to Brevet Brigadier General was captain and these few were staff officers. Many officers advanced from Brigadier to Major General and Colonel to Brigadier. There were additional dates for other omnibus promotions at the end of the war.
2. In what speech did President Lincoln say, “You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong”?
Former President Ronald Reagan ascribed the quote to Lincoln but it was not a Lincoln quote at all but was written by Presbyterian Minister William Boetcker in a 1916 pamphlet in the Lincoln style. This is not a rare occurrence.
3. On the morning of 4 April 1865 President Lincoln arrived at what southern city to tour the vicinity? On what conveyance did he arrive? What horse did he ride on the tour?
He visited Petersburg after the Confederates left, he arrived on the US Military Railroad and he was provided Grant’s favorite horse Cincinnati.
4. Many are familiar with the story of the Confederate horse artilleryman Gallant Major Pelham. Who was the Union horse artilleryman who rode to the aid of the assaulting Federals? He was memorialized by an 1886 ink drawing entitled Fall of the Leaders?
Captain John G. Hazard, Rhode Island Light Artillery Battery. He later became the commander of the Artillery Brigade of the II Corps (US). At Gettysburg 1LT Alonzo Cushing commanded the battery.
5. Who are buried in the only two mausoleums in Arlington National Cemetery?
Lt. General Nelson A. Miles, Commanding General US Army 1895-1903 and MOH for Chancellorsville; and Commissary General of Subsistence Brigadier Thomas Crook Sullivan. Sullivan was brevetted Major and Lt. Col. at end of Civil War.
6. Which is larger Ft Jefferson or Ft Sumter?
Ft. Sumter covers 2.35 acres and Ft. Jefferson covers 47.125 acres. Sumter was built for 135 guns Jefferson for 1000. Ft Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the US and was constructed of 16,000,000 bricks.
7. On 20 October 1863 Col. Frank Wolford’s “Wild Riders” of the 1st Kentucky (Union) Cavalry was bested by Confederate cavalrymen of the 8th Tennessee under Col. George Dibrell and Col. J. J. Morrison at Philadelphia, Tennessee. What was the interesting logistical reason that this Federal defeat?
They ran out of ammunition because of the difficulty in supplying nine different types of ammunition for Sharps, Gallager, and Cosmopolitan carbines; Colt revolving and Henry Rifles, Springfield and Enfield muskets and .36 and .44-caliber colt revolvers. The haphazard arming of western cavalry regiments with a wide array of weapons and the questionable quality of some of the weapons was a not unusual situation. For example: the Gallager carbine was described as not equal to a bar of iron because of the difficulty with frequent vent clogging and extraction of poorly designed spent cartridges. Troopers were issued a special wrench and screwdriver to remove jammed spent lipless cartridges. Great fun to use on horseback!
8. Who was Robert Walter Weir and what influence did he have on Civil War officers?
He was Professor of Drawing at West Point for 42 years and instructed Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Seth Eastman, James McNeill Whistler and many others. The techniques he taught were of use in map making and the appreciation of terrain features. Design and construction planning of seacoast fortifications and strategic defensive positions was the domain of the Engineer Corps and water color renderings were the norm for the period. Weir painted the famous oil on canvas hanging in the rotunda of the US Capitol entitled Embarkation of the Pilgrims. Weir painted famous portraits of Winfield Scott, James Monroe, Denis Hart Mahon, Sylvanus Thayer and Robert E. Lee (one of only two made before the war).
9. St Andrew’s Bay, Florida was the site of 1862-63 raids and amphibious assaults to destroy a Confederate production site of what strategic commodity?
Between 1861 and 1865, the St. Andrew Bay Salt Works was one of the largest producers of salt in the South, a necessary preservative in those times. Salt sold for as much as $50 per bushel, and was produced in wood-fired salt works throughout the area. An estimated 2,500 men, primarily from Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, were exempted from combat duty to labor in the salt works. The salt was transported to Eufaula, Alabama, then to Montgomery, for distribution throughout the Confederate States. Because of the importance of St. Andrew Bay Salt Works to the Confederacy, acting Master W. R. Browne, commander of the USS Restless, was instructed to commence a series of assaults beginning in August 1862. By December 1863, additional Union attacks occurred, which Confederate home guards could not resist. The attacks resulted in the destruction of more than 290 salt works including 466 salt pans, kettles or cauldrons each over a crude bricked furnace. About a thousand bushels of salt were destroyed, as well as some fifty wagons and several score shacks, cabins, and rough store houses…“We had to knock down all the brick work, destroy the salt already made, and to knock in the barrel heads and set fire to barrels, boxes, and everything that would hold salt. 50 of them under sheet iron boilers of near 1,000 gallons capacity each were broken up. 250 houses and a quantity of provisions were burned valued by Master Browne at more than $3,000,000. The St. Andrew Bay Salt Works employees promptly rebuilt them, and they remained in operation through February 1865. At the beginning of the war the US was the largest user of salt in the world and the southern states used more than any other region. The antebellum south used 450 million pounds of salt a year most imported from England and Wales. There were six salt production regions in the south: The Kanawha Valley in West Virginia; Goose Creek Kentucky; Mobile, Alabama region; New Iberia, Louisiana; Saltville in southwestern Virginia’s remote highlands and St. Andrew’s Bay.
10. What two very high ranking Confederate generals shared a Southern cavalry nephew?
Robert E Lee and Samuel Cooper were both uncles to Fitzhugh Lee. Cooper’s sister-in law was Fitzhugh’s mother and was married to Robert’s Brother Sidney Smith Lee.
11. What was the name of the Lincoln Funeral Train rail car?
United States. It was built at the US Military Railroad Shop in Alexandria, Virginia between November 1863 and February 1865 and was intended to serve as the President’s private railcar.
12. How many Confederate officers or soldiers received brevet promotions?
None. Confederate policy allowed for such promotions but none were ever awarded.
13. What was the name of the vessel Admiral D. D. Porter sent to rescue the USS Indianola from rebel forces on the Lower Mississippi River in March 1863?
The USS Dummy!! It was a 300-ft wood hoax that cost $8.63. It frightened the Confederates into scuttling the recently captured Indianola. The only thing salvaged was the contents of the liquor locker.
14. What Civil War families provided more than one family member who became a general, admiral or a recognized Civil War hero? (I have 15 there are probably more. How many can you list?)
• Lee: Robert E, and sons G. W. Custis, W. H. Fitzhugh “Rooney”. All were Confederate Generals and Captain Sydney Smith Lee, CSN, hero of Gosport Navy Yard, Drewry’s Bluff and father of Confederate General Fitz Lee.
• Sherman; Union General brothers William Tecumseh and Francis T. and half-brothers Charles, Hugh B. and Thomas Ewing Jr.
• Semmes; Confederate BG Paul and Confederate Admiral Rafael (Captain of CSS Alabama)
• Rains: Confederates Gabriel J. (first use of Land Mines) and brother G.W.(Commander and founder of Augusta Powder Works).
• Cushing; Union Army Captain Alonzo H (MOH Gettysburg) and brother Navy Lt. William B. (the original SEAL).
• DuPont: Union Admiral Samuel F. DuPont and cousin Henry Algernon (Union artillerist and MOH for Cedar Creek, VA) later Major General.
• Porter: Brothers Admiral David Dixon Porter, Commodore William D. Porter and their adoptive brother Admiral David G. Farragut
• McCook: father Maj. Daniel, Sr., sons MG Alexander M., BG Robert Latimer, MG Edwin Stanton, BG Daniel, and cousins BG Edward M. and BG Anson G.
• Blair: Union Major General F. Preston Jr. and Montgomery (US Postmaster General)
• Hill: Confederate Generals AP Hill and cousin DH Hill.
• Drayton: Union Navy Flag-Captain Percival Drayton and General Thomas F. Drayton CSA.
• Terrill: BG William R. Terrill USA, (KIA Perryville) and BG James B Terrill, CSA (KIA Bethesda Church). Also two other brothers died in the war one serving on each side.
• Cooke: Union general Philip St. George Cooke and son-in-law Col. John Jacob Sharp and Confederate son General John Rogers Cooke and son-in-law JEB Stuart.
• Howard: Union generals Oliver O. Howard and brother Charles H. Howard went to Bowdoin College and West Point
• Dahlgren: RAdm. John A Dahlgren naval weapons pioneer; Capt (USN) Charles B. Dahlgren neutralized Vicksburg batteries; Col. Ulrich Dahlgren killed leading a famous raid on Richmond; and CS BG Charles G. Dahlgren (brother of John A.) raised and funded 3rd Brigade Army of Mississippi until relieved by Jeff Davis in a personal dispute.
• Ellet: Col Chas Ellet, Jr.; hero of Battle of Memphis(only KIA in the battle), brother BG A.W Ellet who seceded to command; son Col Chas R. Ellet took command after his uncle’s death.
Copyright ©John A. Nischwitz 2016