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Archive for the month “December, 2012”

1863 Happy New Year Reminiscences

As the forces began to gather around Murfreesboro and began to settle in the night before the battle, they were cold and wet and apprehensive, I am sure. Regimental bands began to play favorite tunes to entertain the troops. One after another the entered what might be called the first “battle of the bands”. As the time for “Taps” approached, one band began a popular tune and was joined by all the others from both armies. As the soldiers closed their eyes their thoughts must have turned to their loved ones and friends back home. The bands were in unison playing for all to enjoy an emotionial rendition of Home! Sweet Home!, the Henry Bishop and John Howard Payne 1823 folksong. It is interesting that this same song was banned by the Union Army becaused it stimulated desertions because of the vivid memories it conjured. I wonder if General Rosecrans or General Bragg had any emotional thoughts that evening? Good thoughts and great deeds are my wish to all for 2013.

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Cold, Snowy Miserable Weather

As I sit here and look out the window at the gray sky and reflect on how cold it is just by my quick foray to get the morning paper, I think how it must have been for Civil War soldiers during this season of the year. We tend to think that both armies went into winter quarters to wait out the tough weather season only to renew the fight in the warm rays of Spring. Well, I know that several major battles were contested during very inclement weather. Here is a list of some that I have collected. There were many more engagements that brought climatic hardships to the combatants. Here are a few for your consideration.

Cheat Mountain, Virginia (now WV) Sept. 1861 snow and so cold horses froze to death.
Romney, VA (now WV) January 1862 Snow and sleet.
Ft Donelson, Tenn. February 1862 Snow and severe cold
Fredericksburg, VA December 1862 Snow and severe cold
Stones River, Tenn 31 December 62- 2 January 63 Freezing Rain
Chickasaw Bluffs, Mississippi December 1862 sleet and cold rain
Prairie Grove, Arkansas Dec 1862 Snow, rain severe cold.
Pea Ridge, Arkansas March 1862 Snow and Freezing rain.
Nashville, Tenn. December 1864 Snow, sleet and severe cold.
And lastly lets not forget Burnside’s North Carolina Expedition in Jan-March 1862 when his forse endured a fierce gale at sea.

These are just a few examples of tough weather. Often these conditions are overlooked when discussing battles in this “brother against brother” struggle.

Your Humble Servt.

Further To Big Guns

Muzzle markings No. 1 20inch  Largest smoothbore cast in US

I recently received a comment from one of my classmates about my first post regarding the largest cannon of the war.  He commented that Ft Hancock in not across from Ft Hamilton and he is right.  We went looking for the two guns guarding New York Harbor and found the No. 1 gun “Satan” located at Ft Hamilton in Brooklyn.  The No. 2 gun is at Ft Hancock located on Sandy Hook, NJ at the Coast Guard Base.  It is on concrete stanchons not a steel carriage like the one at Ft Hamilton.  The Satan gun weighs 116,497 pounds and the carriage mount weighs 36,000 pounds.  The solid iron ball projectile weighs 1080 LBs.   It can fire up to 8000 yards on a 200LB powder charge.  The No 1 gun guards the Veranzano Narrows and is generally aimed in the direction of Ft Wadsworth across the Narrows.  The No. 2 gun is aimed north across the mouth of New York Harbor.  There were four guns cast at the Ft Pitt Foundry in Pittsburgh.  It took four foundry pours to complete a gun and two railcars to move it.  The last two guns were cast in 1867 after the War.  One is a shell gun in Callao, Peru (Beelzebub)and No. 4 is unaccounted for at this time I believe.  It (Moloch) had a shorter barrel and was to be mounted on a dual-turret Navy Monitor USS Puritan but that project was cancelled.  This picture is of the Ft Hamilton Gun, a most imposing weapon.  Image

General Lee and Santa Claus

In 1867 a small little childrens book was published by Louise Clack. The 35-page story tells of three little Southern girls who write to the heroic general to find out why Santa has not visited them during the four years of the war. The three girls Lutie, Birdie, and Minnie dream about the circumstance and General Lee finally sends a reply revealing why the revered visitor from the North Pole doesn’t go South during the war. The surprise ending is a warm and wonderful conclusion to a story of reconciliation, sacrifice, forgiveness and trust that would be a delightful experience for any family to share at bedtime.

The book, reprinted in 1997, may be ordered on http://www.spiridon.com or from selected bookstore through the South. Proceeds ago to support the Robert E. Lee Memorial Association which maintains Stratford Hall, Lee’s birthplace. Please, Enjoy!!

Return of the Junkie

I have been AWOL from posting for a long time but I am back. During the past year we have been touring Gettysburg Battlefield, Antietam and Harpers Ferry sites in addition to al 3700 mile tour arouind the Confederacy. We went down the Mississippi thru Vicksburg, Grand Gulf, Port Hudson and NewOrleans. Then across the Gulf Coast visiting Mobile, Biloxi and Pensacola and The Olustee Battlefield in Florida. Then north along the Atlantic thru Ft McAllister, Savannah and Ft Pulaski, Charleston and Ft Sumter then via the Outer banks to Richmond and back to St Louis.

We saw many coastal forts and were inpressed by the architecture and massiveness. It is incredible haw much labor went into the construction in such an incredibly short time.

I continue to write the Trivia quizzes for the St Louis Civil War Roundtable and have in the process been gathering lots of new and unusually interesting facts.I plan to share these facts daily in the future. Many will be in the format of the trivia questions but that have not been published in the quizzes. If you are interested in the Civil War, you can get more info on these subjects by searchin the web.

So here is the first: Did you ever hear about the Jesse Scouts?

Who were the “Jesse Scouts” and what distinctive uniform did they wear?
Jesse Scouts were an irregular Union unit formed in St. Louis by Gen. John C. Fremont and named after his wife. The first commander was Captain Charles C. Carpenter and the unit numbered about 60 men throughout the war. They wore Confederate Gray uniforms and operated behind enemy lines. They frequently wore a white cloth around their shoulder so as to be identified by Union units. Major Henry Harrison Young was the Jessie’s commander in the East under Gen. Sheridan after the unit had been brought East by Fremont in 1862. Some famous scouts were Ike Harris, Arch Rowand (MOH), Joseph McCabe, Tom Cassidy, George Valentine (who assassinated Hanse McNeil), Jim White, who diverted Lee’s supply trains at Appomattox, and Jim Campbell.

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