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Archive for the month “September, 2013”

September Quiz Answers

Here are the answers to this months quiz.  I haven’t been posting the answers here up until now but I have had several requests. So here they are.  The quiz was inspired by the movie Lincoln and  hope you enjoy the answers.

St. Louis Civil War Roundtable

September 2013

  1. What was the tragic difference between the outcomes of the battles of Poison Springs, Arkansas 18 April 1864 and      Jenkins’ Ferry, Arkansas30 April 1864?

At Poison Springs, 301 from the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry under Col James M. Williams did not return. They were slaughtered by the soldiers of John S. Marmaduke and Samuel B. Maxey.  At Jenkins” Ferry, members of the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry returned the favor and killed an unknown number of Confederates.  Southern casualty reports are incomplete.

  1. What state has protested the portrayal of their voting block in the House of Representatives vote on the 13th      Amendment to the US Constitution?

Connecticut has protested the characterization.   Both Connecticut Senators J. Dixon and Lafayette Sabine and all four Representatives James English, Henry Deming, Augustus Brandegee and John D. Hubbard voted for the Amendment. 

  1. How did President Lincoln honestly answer the question “was there a Confederate Peace Delegation in Washington?”    

He had given orders that they were to be detained on a boat off Ft. Monroe, Virginia.

  1. After the passage of the 13th Amendment, state ratification was required and Lincoln needed at least two Southern states to amend the Constitution.  What two southern states was Lincoln confident would quickly ratify?

Louisiana and Tennessee were sure and Arkansas was a strong probable.  

  1. On what date did the House of Representatives pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery?

January 31, 1865.  Mississippi, the last state, ratified the amendment in 1995 but through clerical error did not inform the US Archivist of their action making it official until February 7, 2013. The required 36 states ratified in December 1865

  1. Why was President Lincoln is such a rush to get the 13TH Amendment passed?

He knew that once the South surrendered there would be not motivation to get the amendment passed.  He clearly understood the political principle that “it is imprudent to let any crisis go to waste”.

 

  1. What state was represented by Thaddeus Stevens in the US House of Representatives?

Radical Republican from Pennsylvania’s 9th and 8th Congressional Districts (consecutively).

  1. What college was Robert Lincoln attending before he came Washington, DC to enlist?

Harvard.  And Lincoln arranged a position on Grant’s staff for the last few months of the war.

  1. Who was the Republican power boss who Lincoln needed to support the House vote and what state was he from?

Francis Preston Blair Sr. of Maryland

  1. Was Congressman Josiah S. “Beanpole” Burton from Jefferson City, Missouri eligible to vote on the Amendment?

NO, he is a fictional character invented by Steven Spielberg for the movie.  

                 Copyright© 2013 John A. Nischwitz

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Civil War Roundtable of St Louis September Trivia Quiz

St. Louis Civil War Roundtable

September 2013

(All questions were inspired by the movie Lincoln)

  1. What was the tragic difference between the outcomes      of the battles of Poison Springs, Arkansas 18 April 1864 and      Jenkins’ Ferry, Arkansas30 April 1864?

    2.  What state has protested the portrayal of their voting block in the House of Representatives vote on the  13th Amendment to the US Constitution?

  1. How did President Lincoln honestly answer the question “was there a Confederate Peace Delegation in Washington?”     

    4. After the passage of the 13th Amendment, state ratification was required and Lincoln needed at least two Southern states to amend the Constitution.  What two southern states was Lincoln confident would quickly ratify?

     5. On what date did the House of Representatives pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery?

  1. Why was President Lincoln is such a rush to get the 13TH Amendment passed?

     7. What state was represented by Thaddeus Stevens?

  1. What college was Robert Lincoln attending before he came Washington, DC to enlist?

    9. Who was the Republican power boss who Lincoln needed to support the House vote and what state was he from?

  1. Was Congressman Josiah H. “Beanpole” Burton from Jefferson City, Missouri eligible to  vote on the Amendment?

Copyright© 2013 John A. Nischwitz

 

Answers will be posted in the Round table newsletter Bushwacker at www.civilwarstlouis.org in about one week.

Two Stories of Poison With Similiar Endings

When Stuart’s cavalry scouts encountered the first units from the Sonewall Brigade near Richmond on the Peninsula they were surprised to hear the rumor that the retreating Yankees had poisoned the wells and many of the Shenandoah Army had become ill.  This all turned out to be only an unfounded theory but the troops had stopped drinking water until the matter was clarified.

Stuart remembered the story later when his units arrived at the burned out White House on the Pamunkey, home of Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee.  The home was where she and Robert E were married.  It was at the time the home of their son Rooney.  As McClellan’s army “changed its base” it abandoned considerable supplies including wagons of wine, whiskey and brandy.  All his troopers carted off bottles of the liquor and the results were apparent as some fell off their mounts.  Since Stuart was just beginning his first ride around McClellan he needed his men in prime shape.  Stuart was a notorious tea totaller and this drunken behavior was anethema to his nature.  Not wanting to be considered as an unfeeling commander and order the men to abandon their treasure, he simply spread the rumor that some of the bottles were poisoned.  The troopers soon discarded their larder and road on unimpeded. 

Stuart was a man on a mission who always enjoyed a good joke even on his men.  

Civil War Rockets-Did You Know…

The Hale Rocket Launcher, invented by British engineer William Hale in 1844, fired a 2.25-inch Hale rocket much like a rocket propelled artillery shell.  They were inherently inaccurate and the only Federal unit organized was Barry’s New York Rocket Battalion.  Union rockets were employed by Major Thomas W. Lion (father of Union rocketry) of Barry’s Rocket Battalion at Yorktown and Richmond in 1862 and by the 74th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry at the Battle of Charleston in April 1863.  A number of Union rockets were captured at Gaines’ Mill and used against their former owners.

 JEB Stuart employed a Congreve Rocket battery against McClellan’s army at Harrison’s Landing 3 July 1862.  This weapon was developed by English Sir William Congreve.  Rockets could be employed where the ground was too soft to support normal artillery.  The fat rockets flew straight enough but when they landed they leaped around and caused havoc but did little damage beyond burning some tents and scalding some mules.  Some even ricocheted back toward Stuart’s position.  Congreve Rockets were also used in a limited role by the US Navy in ship to shore bombardment.

More Polish Contributions to the Civil War

 

About 5000 Polish immigrants served in the Union army and about 1000 in the Confederate Armed Forces. Count Constantin Blandowski was a prime example I discussed in my last post.  Here is some more on Civil War Poles.

The most prominent Pole in the Civil War was Wlodzimeirz Krzyzanowski, known to his army friends as Kriz. A cousin of Frederic Chopin he fled Prussian occupied Poland after the failure of the 1848 revolt against Prussia. He settled in the United States and worked as a surveyor and civil engineer. After the outbreak of the Civil War he organized a volunteer unit from Poles and Germans resident in New   York, which became the 58th New York Infantry regiment, known as the “Polish Legion”. It participated in the battles of Cross Keys in the Shenandoah Valley, Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Chattanooga. He was promoted to Brigadier General by President Lincoln in 1865. After the war he worked in various government administrative functions, including early administrative duties in the Alaskan territory. He died on January 31, 1887 in New   York. 50 years later his remains were transferred to ArlingtonNationalCemetery by order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Another heroic Pole was Colonel Joseph Karge led the 2nd New Jersey Volunteer Cavalry that once defeated Confederate Nathan Bedford Forrest in the cavalry battle at Bolivar, Tennessee, Forrest’s only cavalry defeat!   

Poles in the Confederacy.

Panna Maria, Texas was the first Polish settlement in the United States. Its inhabitants took part in the American Civil War, although not all of them voluntarily. The Civil War began for Texans in February 1861 when the citizens decided overwhelmingly in favor of seceding from the Union. The Poles had not been in the United States long enough to participate in that election, but they learned that all male inhabitants of Texas between the ages of 18 and 50 were liable for military service, except those exempted for occupational reasons. The irony was too much! The Silesians came to the U.S. to escape conscription into Prussian Army and instead, they would end up serving in the Confederate Army! They feared the break-up of their families. Women and children left alone in the frontier to fend for themselves were vulnerable to Indians and outlaws.  For these and other reasons, many Silesians tried to avoid the draft.

Union Civil War records were well preserved; therefore we know that many of the Confederate soldiers captured in early 1863 were sent to prisoner-of-war camps in Illinois. Foreign-born men – like the Silesians from Texas – who were not die-hard southerners with heartfelt allegiance to the South were offered the opportunity to swear allegiance to the Union and, instead of rotting in prison, to fight the rest of the war on the Union side. Many of them – at least a dozen – took this option. Records indicate that there were also a few Poles who entered the Union Army directly, and not through being captured.

Relations between the Silesians and their neighboring Americans was tense and grew worse as the war dragged on and the Americans found out that, not only were these foreigners evading the draft, but some of them had even changed sides and were fighting in the Union Army against the Confederacy. This news became common knowledge when, in 1863, a local newspaper published the names of the soldiers who had changed sides. The list included a dozen Poles, the most famous of who is Piotr Kielbasa – Panna Maria’s first school teacher. Like many of the Poles in the Civil War, he fought in a cavalry unit. In the Union Army he advanced from corporal to first sergeant and finally to captain of Company E of the 6th U.S. Colored Cavalry, a position he held until the spring of 1866. He eventually served as Treasurer of the City of Chicago.  He was so honest that he was called by his contemporaries: “Honest Pete.”

Some Silesians served in the Confederate Army but Confederate war records are sketchy, so we don’t have written records of their service. We do know that one of the Confederate units was the Panna Maria Grays. We also know that Alexander Dziuk, a native of the SilesianVillage of Pluznica immigrated to Panna Maria with his family and recounted his war years in later life. Here’s what he said: “At the age of 18, I was drafted into the Confederate Army and sent to Arkansas. We were badly fed, especially at the beginning and we were armed with old flintlocks. I remained in the Confederate Army until the end of the war. When I got back home, even my own mother did not recognize me.” After returning home from the war, he lived to a ripe old age and became one of the wealthiest and most influential farmers at Panna Maria. Most of the Silesians who went to war, returned home to their families.

 In the spring of 1861 Major Kacper (Gaspard) Tochman, a Pole, arrived in New   Orleans with a mission to organize a Polish Brigade. Tochman came to the States after his stay in Russia, where he was deported for taking part in the November Uprising. In the States, he was a lecturer and lawyer, and has made acquaintances with many high-ranking government officials. In May 1861, after the outbreak of the Civil War, Tochman received permission from his friend Jefferson Davis to create two Polish regiments. Because there were only 196 Poles in Louisiana in that time (including women and children), the main goal soon shifted to gathering as many foreigners as possible in one brigade.

Tochman’s plan proved to be successful and soon two “Polish regiments” were created, consisting mostly of foreigners. These two regiments – instead of being merged into one brigade – were separated. The 1st Polish Regiment was renamed as 14th Louisiana Volunteers, and the 2nd Polish Regiment was henceforth called the 3rd Battalion, Louisiana Infantry. The count of Poles in each of these detachments is estimated at 20-30 persons – more than in any other detachment of the Confederate Army.

Colonel Walery Sulakowski was appointed as the Commander of the 14th Louisiana Volunteers. He introduced strict discipline and was probably the only officer who was able to control these troops. Born in Poland in a noble family, he perfected his military skills during the Hungarian Springtime of Nations revolution in 1848. After the fall of the uprising, Sulakowski made his way to the States, settled in New   Orleans and worked as a civil engineer. Sulakowski helped Tochman with the organization of the Polish Brigade and was rewarded for it by being appointed as Commander of the 1st Polish Regiment.

His soldiers – of different nationalities, speaking different languages – were difficult to control, but Sulakowski commanded them with an iron hand. He was admired by his subordinates for his commanding and organizing skills, as well as his talent for discipline. He was said to be an incarnation of the military law – despotic, cruel and totally merciless.

The 14thLouisiana served from Yorktown to Appomattox but their moment was being part of Stonewall Jackson’s flanking movement at Chancellorsville.

 

 

 

 

Count Constantin Blandowski and His Historic Role

Junkie was asked to fill in for Mayor Francis Slay at an event at St Stanislaus Church commemorating Captain Blandowski and the role of immigrants in the Civil War. Other speakers would be talking about the role of education and World War II subjects. Quite an expansive and varied set of subjects, do you not agree? In any event although I was familiar with Blandowski I set about learning as much as I could in anticipation of the gig. Here is what I found and I am sure you will find it of interest.

About 5000 Polish immigrants served in the Union army and about 1000 in the Confederate Armed Forces in the Civil War.  The immigration of Eastern Europeans began after the 1848 revolutions. Most Polish immigrants entered the United States through New York, New Orleans and Charleston.  Among these Polish immigrants was Count Constantin Blandowski from a line of ancient Polish nobility, who was born on a landed estate in Prussian administered Upper Selisia on October 8, 1821.

Captain Constantin Blandowski, was a Polish graduate of the military school in Dresden, Saxony. He served as an officer in the French Foreign Legion in Algiers; served in the Polish and Hungarian insurrections of 1848; fought with Garibaldi in Italy in 1849 and coming to the United States he became a renowned fencing and dancing instructor in New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and St. Louis where he taught the Turn Verein bayonet exercises. He was in command of F Company in Colonel Franz Sigel’s Third Missouri Volunteer Infantry Regiment on 10 May 1861 at Camp Jackson at Lindell’s Grove near Grand and Olive Streets in St. Louis, where he received a mortal wound to his left knee as he sat astride his horse.  After being wounded he gave the order for his unit to fire into the unruly crowd. Captain Blandowski died on 25 May 1861 as a result of infection after the amputation of the lower left leg at the Good Samaritan Hospital where he had been taken earlier from the Arsenal.  That made him the first Federal officer to die of wounds in the American Civil War. Blandowski is believed to be buried in an unmarked grave in Gatewood Gardens Cemetery where his remains were moved from the Holy Ghost Evangelical Church Cemetery when Roosevelt High School was built.  A monument to his sacrifice has been installed at Jefferson Barracks. Captain Blandowski left a wife, Sophia, a young daughter, Thelkla, and a one year old son Charles.

There is controversy about whether he was the first officer killed in the War.  Col. Elmer Elsworth had been killed on 24 May in Alexandria, Virginia making him the first officer battle death.  The dissention revolves around the semantics of what was a line of duty event.  I believe Elsworth gets the nod.

Blandowski brought to the Union troops the training he had gained at Dresden and in Algiers, specifically the use of the bayonet.  Until the advent of rifled muskets and their increased range, closing with the enemy force after discharging the last volley required training and discipline in close-in bayonet fighting.  Blandowski imparted this training to the German Turn Verein societies and it served them well throughout there wartime service. That is why he is always referred to as a fencing and dancing instructor. That is substantially what bayonet training is, footwork and lunge and parry. Even today that is what is involved in inspiring the spirit of the soldier, making a potential killer from an innocent civilian. That is war!

Civil War Artillery -Guns, Caissons et al

Field artillery in the Civil War was the combat arm that provided direct support to the infantry and cavalry units engaged on the field.  The guns were deployed on the field by the crews and typically fired from an elevated position of security on the flanks of the attacker or from designated positions within a defensive line.

Flying artillery accompanied the cavalry and was trained to gallop into firing position and move with the cavalry over the field.  Probably the performance of the Alabamian Major John Pelham set the standard for this arm at Fredericksburg.  He was a favorite of Stuart and always seemed to be where he was most needed.

Field artillery guns were mounted on gun carriages pulled by limbers.  The favorite guns of the era were the 1857 12-pounder bronze Napoleon smoothbore and the 3-inch iron ordnance rifle.  Other guns saw service but these were the most popular.  The gun carriage was towed into position attached to the limber which also mounted an ammunition box containing around 30 rounds of fixed ammunition.  That means the projectile was attached to the propellant.   

The gun platoon also contained an ammunition caisson mounting two boxes along with the single box on the limber.  When the gun limber ammunition supply was depleted the caisson limber would replace it and the gun limber would be restocked.   

Both gun and caisson were pulled by six horse teams.  In the horse artillery all the crew was mounted on horses.  Three rode on the “near” horse and some rode on the ammunition boxes.  The cannoneers were mounted on individual horses.

Caissons were developed by the English and were adopted by the French which provided the name which means “box”.  In addition to the ammunition basic load the caisson also mounted a spare wheel.  The artillery battery also had a limber that towed the battery forge, used to repair the battery’s equipment, iron, wood and leather.

The Army Song familiar to all as “The Caisson Song” was based on the field artillery’s supply wagon.  Military funerals today  carry the casket mounted on a caisson.

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