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Archive for the month “December, 2013”

The Civil War In San Francisco, California

The precious metals from California gold fields and Nevada silver deposits were a major part of the financing fo the Union during the war.  Gold from the California deposits discovered in 1848 was refined and smelted and shipped through the Golden Gate as was the silver from the Comstock Lode discovery of 1858.

So concerned about this precious resource was the Federal Government that they fortified San Francisco harbor with numerous defensive works.  The largest was Fort Winfield Scott, later called Fort Point, at the entrance of the harbor.  It was the only masonry fortification constructed west of the Mississippi River. It was armed in 1861 and designed too mount 127 of the 8″ and 10″ Columbiads,  some of which were replaced with large caliber Parrots.   Fort Alcatraz on Acatraz Island had been in place to a limited extent since the early 1850’s.  When complete it mounted 95 smoothbore guns, 8″ and 10″ Columbiads. 

Additionally earthen forts were placed around the entrance.  Forts Barry, Cronkite, McDowell and Baker were in Marin County.  Earthen forts were located on Angel Island.  Point Stuart mounted 4 smoothbores, Point Knox mounted 10 smothbores, Point Blunt was incomplete but mounted 7 smoothbores and Blckpoint at Point San Jose mounted 12 smoothbores.  All these were installed in 1863-64 to counter the concern over the CSS Shenandoah which had been prowling the Pacific as far north as the Bering Sea.  Camp Reynolds with 4 temporary batteries was located at Fort McDowell.

Ft Alcatraz was used a prison for special catagories of Union soldiers such as deserters and malcontents. 

It is intersting that this area, part of the Department of the Pacific, was under the pre-war command of Brigadier General Albert Sidney Johnston.  One of his last official acts was to transfer batteries from Ft Vancouver to strengthen the defenses.   He also arranged the transfer of small arms and accoutraments to the area for defense of the harbor.

Why all the fuss?  During the three and one half years of the war $173,083,098 in gold and silver bullion passed through the Golden Gate.


Quiz Answers for Roundtable December Quiz

The questions for December were taken from a great book I read earlier this year.  Touched With Fire:Five Presidents and the Civil War by James M. Perry, 2003.  Nicely done and great detail.

Here are the answers:

1. Match the future US President with the Civil War unit he is associated with:

a. US Grant                        (   E     ) 70thIndiana                           

b. James Garfield                (   A     )  21stIllinois

c. Rutherford Hayes            (   B     )  42ndOhio

d. William McKinley           ( C&D )  23rd Ohio – (pick two)               Answers:  e, a, b, c & d

e. Benjamin Harrison

2. What US Presidents were the only presidents to have served in the enlisted ranks?

William McKinley, who enlisted as a private and was promoted to captain because of his accomplishments.  He lastly received a brevet promotion to major, and enjoyed being called “Major McKinley” when president.  He braved enemy fire to bring hot rations to the starving 23d Ohio at Antietam.  He was brevetted for his actions in West Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley in 1864. Abraham Lincoln volunteered as a private during the Black Hawk War and was elected captain in his first company from New Salem.  After this enlistment was up he signed up twice more and served as a private each time in two different companies. He served from 19 April 1832 to 10 July the same year.

3. What affliction did Gen. Benjamin Harrison acquire while in Georgia that affected him the rest of his life and resulted in his being known as “kid gloves Harrison”?       Poison ivy

4. Who was the future US President that risked his personal safety to bring cooked rations to his starving unit, the 23rd Ohio, in a wagon with only two horses, over a distance of two miles under fire at Antietam?                                                           Supply Sergeant William McKinley

5. Match these Civil War veterans and future US Presidents, Grant, Garfield, Harrison, Hayes, and McKinley with their appropriate Civil War achievements:

Captured Vicksburg                                                                             (  Grant           )

Served on Court Martial Board of Gen. Fitz-John Porter             (  Garfield       )

Brigade Commander with Sherman in Atlanta Campaign          (  Harrison      )

First General officer commander at Belmont, Missouri               (  Grant           )

Brigade Commander at Cedar Creek with Sheridan                      (  Hayes          )

Elected to Congress and resigned his commission to serve         (  Garfield       )

Planned Tullahoma Campaign as Rosecrans’ Chief of Staff          (  Garfield       )

Captured Forts Henry and Donelson                                                  (  Grant           )

Cleared the KanawhaRiverValley of East Kentucky in 1861            (  Garfield       )

Brevet promotion to major in Shenandoah Valley 1864                   (  McKinley    )

Brigade Commander at Battle of Nashville 1864                                (  Harrison      )

Elected to Congress but stayed in service until the war’s end          (  Hayes          )

Heroically supported Thomas on Snodgrass Hill at Chickamauga   (  Garfield       )

Performed duties as surgeon at KennesawMountain                         (  Harrison      )

One of two US Presidents wounded in action (Monroe was other)  (Hayes-5 times)

5. What were the Civil War nicknames of the five future US Presidents Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, McKinley and Grant?

   “Rudy” Hayes, “Jamie” Garfield, “Uncle Ben”  or “Little Ben” Harrison, “Mac” McKinley and “Ulys” or    

   “Sam” Grant

6. What US President held the rank of Brigadier General in the Civil War but never served in the military?

Andrew Johnson, who held the rank as Federal Military Governor of Tennessee

7.  How many words are in President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address?

272 words in 10 precisely crafted sentences.

8.  Who served as Quartermaster General for New   YorkState in uniforming, arming and equipping the over 200 regiments and 50 separate companies of state troops?

Brigadier General Chester A. Arthur, 21st President of the US

Copyright© 2013 John A. Nischwitz

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