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Archive for the month “January, 2015”

Roundtable January Quiz Answers

St. Louis Civil War Roundtable
January 2015

1. What state had the most citizens arrested without the protection of writs of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War and how many?
Missouri with about 4000 had the most of any state during the war. On September 17, 1861, the day the Maryland legislature was to reconvene, Lincoln imprisoned one third of the members of the Maryland General Assembly without charges or hearings in further defiance of a ruling of Chief Justice Taney. Thus, the legislative session had to be cancelled and Maryland remained in the Union. President Jefferson Davis also suspended Habeas Corpus and declared martial law. President Grant suspended the writ in 1874 during Reconstruction in nine South Carolina counties. It was suspended by the Governor-General in the Philipines in 1905. President Franklin Roosevelt suspended it after Pearl Harbor and President Clinton suspended it after the Oklahoma City bombing. President George W. Bush suspended it after the Twin Towers attack on 9-11-2001.

2. Chief Justice Roger B Taney, in writing his opinion in the Scott vs. Sandford decision, said Dred Scott had no standing in the courts for what reason?
He said no black could be a citizen and therefore did not have access to US courts. His finding ignored the many free men of color in the United States who were citizens. The decision was strictly written along political lines and was not released until after James Buchanan was inaugurated as 15th President.

3. Who is the only Confederate serviceman who died on duty and was promptly buried abroad?
Third-Assistant Engineer Lt. Simeon W. Cummings, of the Crew of the CSS Alabama, died from an accidental gunshot wound from his own weapon on 4 August 1863. He was buried in Kliprug Farm, Saldanha Bay, South Africa and returned to the United States for re-burial in Elm Springs, Columbia, Tennessee in 1994. Others died and were returned to foreign homes for interment after the war.

4. What was the first battle where RE Lee commanded Confederate troops in the field?
Cheat Mountain, Virginia (now W. Virginia) 12-15 September 1861. He lost to Union Generals Joseph J. Reynolds and Nathan Kimbell by employing complicated uncoordinated attacks with six brigades of green troops of Brigadier General William W. Loring’s Army of the Northwest.

5. When Gen. Sherman’s army left Savannah and headed into South Carolina, the worst obstacle to the advance was what river in South Carolina? This river obstacle was considered impassable by Confederate Generals Hardee and Joe Johnston.
The Salkehatchie River was 50 miles north of Savannah with its many tributaries bordered by seemingly unfordable swamps. The river basin encompasses eleven (11) watersheds and 1,021 square miles in South Carolina. It originates in the Upper Coastal Plan and flows to the Coastal Zone region. This river basin covers approximately 653,606 acres. There are roughly 1,012 stream miles and 2,928 acres of lake waters in the Salkehatchie River Basin. On his way to capture Columbia, SC the crossing included winning the Battle of Rivers’ Bridge on 3 February 1865, defeating a Confederate force led by Major General Lafayette McLaws. The southern force was out flanked by two brigades of Gen. Francis P. Blair’s Division, who waded
chest deep through the swamp chasing snakes and alligators out of their way. Sherman’s force moved at the rate of ten miles a day building bridges, causeways and corduroyed roads averaging six miles a day during twenty-eight days of rain. Joe Johnston said, “I made up my mind that there had been no such army in existance since the days of Julius Caesar”.

6. What general was said to be described by R. E. Lee as “all lion and none of the fox”?
John Bell Hood on the occasion of his replacing Joe Johnston as commander of the Army of Tennessee at Atlanta.

7. What two munition items were produced in Federal arsenals and armories in quantities greater than 1 billion between 1861 and 1866?
Small arms cartridiges (1,022,176,474) and precussion caps (1,220,555,435. ( Source: Encyclopedia of American Civil War as extracted in Feb 2015 Civil War Times.

8. In what 1864 confrontation did Union cavalry attack enemy pickets by wading chest deep through a river and firing on the enemy from underwater?
Troopers of McPherson’s cavalry waded through the Chattahoochee River north of Atlanta and cocked their Spencer carbines while underwater, rose up from the water, poured the water from the muzzle, fired and dropped back down into the water. Confederates wanted to know “what kind of critters were these men?”

Copyright© 2015 John A. Nischwitz

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Civil War Snipers or Sharpshooters As They Were Then Called

Last weekend we went to see the new movie “American Sniper”, a great story that stimulated my thinking about snipers in general and specifically in the American Civil War. As usual there is a plethora of information about the Civil War and I stumbled on the story of Jack Hinson.

John W. “Jack” Hinson, “Old Jack” (1807–1874) was from Stewart County, Tennessee. He was a farmer turned partisan sniper who engaged Union troops at long range during the Civil War. He recorded 36 confirmed “kills” on his custom made .50 caliber Kentucky long rifle with iron sights in revenge for the execution of two sons as “bushwackers”. He would target Union soldiers more than a half-mile away on land, transports, and gunboats along the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, killing as many as a hundred. Hinson also served as a guide for Nathan Bedford Forrest in Oct-Nov 1864. At one time four Union regiments were assigned to pursue him. His son, Robert Hinson, was a highly effective partisan in the same region between the rivers. Jack was not a part of the Confederate Army at any time. He survived the war and lived to a ripe old age.

Col. Hiram C. Berdan USA was a champion marksman from New York. He was authorized to raise a regiment of sharpshooters for Federal service and began recruiting competitions in the summer of 1861. Qualified recruits had to place 10 shots in a 10-inch circle at 200 yards, firing any rifle they chose from any position they preferred. In this way Berdan organized a total of eighteen companies of Sharpshooters from New York City, Albany, New York, and in the states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan, and Wisconsin as the 1st Regiment Sharpshooter/U.S. Volunteers on November 25, 1861. The unit saw service in every Eastern campaign through autumn 1864 with notable service at Gettysburg. The 2nd Regiment Sharpshooters/U.S. Volunteers was raised similarly, its companies mustered in individually in autumn 1861 from New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Vermont. It too served in the Eastern Theater and in December 1864 its veteran volunteers were consolidated with reenlisted veterans of the 1st Regiment. These units wore green uniforms and were brigaded under Col. Berdan who was breveted brigadier in 1865. They were never called snipers but sharpshooters. Sharpshooters had the same connotation then as now of being somehow less than honorable. They were employed as skirmishers and in concealed positions with the mission of disrupting enemy formations by taking out the command structure and demoralizing the ranks. There was a regiment from Illinois, the 66th Illinois Volunteer Infantry that was referred to as the Western Sharpshooters.

They got their name from the target rifle they used with telling effect designed by Christian Sharps. Other weapons used were the Billinghurst Target Rifle with side mounted Davidson scope. The tube like scope had only 3-power amplification. Some Union sharpshooters used the J. F. Brown 45-cal Target Rifle manufactured in Haverhill, Massachusetts mounted with a L. M. Amadon scope from Bellow Falls, Vermont.
The Kerr Rifle and the Whitworth were British weapons imported by the Confederacy also with scopes. The Whitworth rifle had a maximum effective ranfe of 1800 yards.  Patrick Cleburne’s Division is said to have had more sharpshooters with Kerr and Whitworth rifles than any unit in the Confederate Army. The Battle of Gettysburg had notable sharpshooter action on both sides near Devil’s Den and the second day.

The two most famous officers killed by sharpshooters are Gen. Ben McCulloch, CSA at Pea Ridge and Gen. John Sedgewick, USA at Spotsylvania Court House.  Sedgwick was shot from 500 yards in the forehead by a shot from a .451 Whitworth rifle most probably by “Kansas Tom” Johnson.   His dying words were “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance”.  McCulloch was shot out of the saddle  by Peter Pelikan of the 36th Illinois Infantry.

January St Louis Civil War Roundtable Quiz

St. Louis Civil War Roundtable
January 2015

1. What state had the most citizens arrested without the protection of writs of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War and approximately how many?

2. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, in writing his opinion in the Scott vs. Sandford decision, said Dred Scott had no standing in the courts for what reason?

3. Who is the only Confederate serviceman who died on duty and was buried abroad?

4. What was the first battle where RE Lee led Confederate troops in the field?

5. When Gen. Sherman’s army left Savannah and headed into South Carolina, the worst obstacle to the advance was what river in South Carolina? This river obstacle was considered impassable by Confederate Generals Hardee and Joe Johnston.

6. What general was described by R. E. Lee as “all lion and none of the fox”?

7. What two munition items were produced in Federal arsenals and armories in quantities
greater than 1 billion between 1861 and 1866?

8. In what 1864 confrontation did Union cavalry attack enemy pickets by wading chest deep
through a river and firing on the enemy from underwater?

Copyright© 2015 John A. Nischwitz

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