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Archive for the month “February, 2015”

St Louis Civil War Roundtabe February Quiz Answers

1. Match the following laws with the African-American rights they affected: (all of these
laws and racial progress were made possible by Union victory in the Civil War)
( ) Abolished slavery                                     
A. 15th Amendment 1869
( ) Provided citizenship and equal protection of the law

B. Plessy v. Ferguson 1896
( ) Guaranteed black voting rights      C. Brown v. Board of Ed 1954
( ) Abolished racial discrimination in military

D. 14th Amendment 1868
( ) Allowed state sponsorship if separate but equal

E. Presidential Executive Ord 9981
( ) Declared separate but equal doctrine unconstitutional

F. 13th Amendment 1865
Answers: F; D; A; E (Pres. H.S. Truman); B; C

2. What personal item of equipment was first commonly available during the Civil War and changed forever how people functioned?

Pesident Lincoln was given one of these in 1863 after his Gettysburg Address and it is now in the Smithsonion Institution.
The pocket watch. Aaron Denison of The American Watch Company pioneered the mass production of standard interchangable watch parts and thus was able to produce pocket watches at an affordable price. Lincoln was presented a Waltham William Ellery Model 1857, SN 67613, one of the 160,000 or so made and sold during the Civil War. Later the company made railroad watches which allowed on-time schedules and eventually demanded standard time zones to account for distance and the establishment of international standard time based on Greenwich Mean Time. This watch was the ancestor of the computer clock and time based on nuclear vibrations. The Union assault of 22 May 1863 at Vicksburg, delivered against the center of the Confederate siege line along a 3-mile front from Stockade Redan to Fort Garrott, was accomplished based on this $13 timepiece, the first synchronized military event in history. Watches of all Union commanders had been synchronized. The attack began simultaneously at 10 a.m. in order to prevent General Pemberton from shifting his forces in the defense.
3. What North Carolina Indian tribe guided Sherman’s army as it headed into their state?
As Sherman headed north toward North Carolina and Virginia cutting another devastating swathe through the Confederacy they reached Robeson County,NC on 9 March 1865 only to be stopped by a torrential rain, muddy roads and swollen creeks. They could not move and didn’t know where to turn. Suddenly out of the downpour appeared a dark, grizzed guerilla force offering to help. Sherman called his saviors “Lumbees” because he knew they were descended from Jamestown’s first English colonists who had mixed with slave runways and Lumbee Indians. This was “The Lowry Band” under Henry Berry Lowry, and by now mortal enemies of the Confederacy and slavery. They led Sherman’s army through the downpour and treacherous swamps of the Pee Dee River. Sherman thanked the men for “the damndest marching I ever saw.”
4. The Union Army of the West was effectively constituted twice during the Civil War. Who were the two commanders and where did the army come together each time?
First, at Shiloh for the move against Corinth under Gen. Henry Halleck. At Chattanooga under General Grant for the relief of that city was the second. Sherman made it official and took it south to Atlanta. There was also a Confederate Army of the West under Gen. Earl Van Dorn.
5. What 1862 Trans-Mississippi battle danced around a geographic feature called Big Mountain?
The Battle of Pea Ridge or Elkhorn Tavern
6. What Civil War battles are known for the slaughter of surrendering US Colored Troops?
Fort Pillow, Tennessee; Poison Springs, Arkansas; The Crater at Petersburg; 1864 Battle of Plymouth, North Carolina; and Olustee, Florida. (there may be others)
7. How many degreed black surgeons served in the Union army during the Civil War?
Eight, but there were 5 other non-degreed contract civilian surgeons and maybe more.
Copyright© 2015 John A. Nischwitz

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February St. Louis Civil War Roundtable Quiz

St. Louis Civil War Roundtable
February 2015

1. Match the following laws with the African-American rights they affected: (all of these laws and racial progress were made possible by Union victory in the Civil War)
( ) Abolished slavery

( ) Provided citizenship and equal protection of the law
( ) Guaranteed black voting rights
( ) Abolished racial discrimination in military
( ) Allowed state sponsorship if separate but equal

( ) Declared separate but equal doctrine unconstitutional
CHOICES:                                        A.15th Amendment 1869

B. Plessy Vs. Ferguson 1896

C. Brown Vs Board of Education

D. 14th Amendment 1868

E. Presidential Executive Ord. 9981

F. 13th Amendment 1865

2. What personal item of equipment was first commonly available during the Civil War and changed forever how people functioned? President Lincoln was given one of these in 1863 after his Gettysburg Address and it is now in the Smithsonion Institution.

3. What North Carolina Indian tribe guided Sherman’s army as it headed into their state?

4. The Union Army of the West was effectively constituted twice during the Civil War. Who were the two commanders and where did the army come together each time?

5. What 1862 Trans-Mississippi battle maneuvered around a geographic feature called Big Mountain?

6. What Civil War battles are known for the slaughter of surrendering US Colored Troops?

7. How many black surgeons served in the Union army during the Civil War?

Copyright© 2015 John A. Nischwitz

Artillery Actions of Particular Note

Junkie recently returned from a road trip to Galveston, Texas. One of the most interesting points of interest on the trip was the battle site of the Second Battle of Sabine Pass. The competence of the gunners of the Davis Guards was clearly demonstrated. This brought up the thought of what other examples of excellent gunnery occurred in the Civil War. Not including the massed bombardment that was frequently employed I was looking for examples of special skill in artillery marksmanship or employment that produces a spectacular result. Here are some of my candidates for consideration.

One that may well be attributed to luck as well as skill is the cannon shot through a porthole on the USS Mound City at the Battle of St. Charles, Arkansas on 17 June 1862. The Confederate defenders of the bluffs under Captain Joseph Fry, CSN fired a cannon shot into the ironclad USS Mound City exploding the steam drum and scalding to death about 129 of the crew of 175. The boat was put out of action and towed to Memphis for repair and refitting.

The forty-four Irish defenders of the Davis Guards under the command of Lt Richard W. Dowling at Ft Griffin on 8 September 1863 demonstrated skillful practiced fire. To break the day-to-day monotony, the gunners were required to practice firing their big guns at white range stakes placed in the river. Their resultant firing efficiency defeated a Federal force of 18 transports carrying over 5000 infantry supported by four gunboats forcing them to withdraw and never challenge the position again during the war. Because the Sabine River was divided by a large oyster shell bar the Union attackers were forced to divide their force and proceed in single file through each channel. The USS Sachem was hit and exploded in the east channel at about 1,200 yards. The accuracy of the artillery fire disabled on the USS Clifton in the west channel with the loss of 200 prisoners captured. The defenders suffered no losses during the battle named the Second Battle of Sabine Pass. The hours of practice clearly paid off for the gunners of Ft Griffin.

The surrender of Ft. Pulaski due to the accurate 30# Parrot Rifle fire from 1670 yards at Battery Sigel was the result of a detailed siege plan and artillery bombardment of Gen. Quincy Adams Gillmore on 10-11 April 1862. General Gillmore reported in his after-action assessment of the siege by his artillery, “Good rifled guns, properly served can breach rapidly” at 1600–2000 yards when they are followed by heavy round shot to knock down loosened masonry. The 84-pounder James is unexcelled in breaching, but its grooves must be kept clean. The 13-inch mortars had little effect. The new 30-pounder Parrott Rifle had made a major impact on the battle. The rifled cannon fired significantly further with more accuracy and greater destructive impact than the smoothbores then in use. Its application achieved tactical surprise unanticipated by senior commanders of either side. The point that is not well known is that the breaching of the wall occurred on the opposite side of the fort from the powder magazine. Continued firing through the breach was feared to explode the large stocks of powder and blow up the entire fort. Gillmore was not aware of this but his systematic gunnery brought about the result he desired using all the resources at his disposal. This is more dramatic considering that Ft. Pulaski was considered impregnable due to its massive brick construction.

At the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, the guns of Pulaski’s Arkansas Battery unlimbered and brought heavy fire on the Union forces on the heavily wooded ridge that would later be called Bloody Hill. The bursts in the tree tops sent splinters and shrapnel raining down on the Union troops and forced them to disperse and thereby became disorganized giving Gen. Sterling Price time to firm his line and press Gen Lyon’s force back up the hill.

The unusual counter-battery fire of the Federal line at Pea Ridge under the personal leadership of General Franz Sigel destroyed the Confederate line of guns across the field. Sigel personally directed the concentrated fire of all the guns in his line against one opposing gun at a time. The Union was able to dismount the tube or destroy the carriage of each Confederate gun. I know of no other such employment of cannon in the Civil War.

The Federal ironclad gunboats bombarded Ft. Henry which was located at the river’s edge and caused the surrender of the entire fort.

The Death of Gen. Leonidas Polk at Pine Mountain was an example of precise gunnery as on the third shot they managed to strike the general in the left side and cut him in half. The long shot by a Parrott rifle was aimed at the general personally and although enhanced by a degree of good fortune was a fine aimed shot.

There were several concentrations of guns on various battlefields like the 62 guns of Ruggles’ Battery at Shiloh, the massed batteries of Mendenhall at Stones River, the concentrated mortar fire at Ft. Jackson, Louisiana which cause the defenders to mutiny and surrender the fort and others actions demonstrated the power of the “King’s Arm”. Artillery fire accounted for a large percentage of casualties on both sides throughout the war.

The Great Civil War Oversight

The absence of any Campaign Streamer on the US Army flag for Civil War battle actions west of the Mississippi River is a subject of great interest to me. I discovered the oversight when listing the official campaigns in my book Collections of a Civil War Trivia Junkie. I recently discovered an Association of the United States Army booklet describing all the battle streamers and the history of battle honors entitled U.S. Army Campaign Streamers: Colors of Courage Since 1775 by the late John B. Wilson. The booklet gives a history of the process of assigning honors and what size units can display them under certain conditions. The nicely done summation begins with the first such display. Interestingly enough it all began in St. Louis, Missouri in the area known as the Trans-Mississippi Theater.

On 25 August 1861, Major General John C. Fremont, commanding the Western Department, commended troops from Iowa, Kansas and Missouri for their extraordinary service at the battle of Wilson’s Creek, near Springfield, Missouri, 10 days earlier. Some 4,300 Union Soldiers had fought to a draw a Confederate force five times as large. The battle ended in a moral victory for the Union Army. Fremont ordered the word “Springfield” to be emblazoned on the colors of the units involved in the fighting. He also forwarded the names of the Soldiers and officers who participated in the battle to the War Department for any further action by the government to honor these brave men.

In a joint resolution on Christmas Eve 1861, Congress expressed its appreciation for the gallant and patriotic service of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon, who lost his life during the battle, and the officers and Soldiers under his command. To commemorate the battle, Congress confirmed Fremont’s order for each regiment engaged to embroider the word “Springfield” on its colors. Responding to a request by Congress, the President directed that the resolution be read before every regiment in the Union Army.

Strange that this area which included such battles as Pea Ridge, where Missouri was secured for the Union; and Wilson’s Creek where the first US general was killed in action; and during the Camp Jackson Affair in St. Louis where Missouri was saved from early joining the Confederacy and from giving up her arsenal and gold repository; and Westport (now Kansas City)where 30,000 cavalry fought a pitched battle to end General Sterling Price’s 1864 raid to conquer Missouri for the Confederacy; and all the other battles, skirmishes and actions in the states of Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) and western Louisiana involving white, black, brown and red soldiers in Blue and Gray, should be excluded from and battle honor recognition on the Army flag. Soldiers from the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Indian Territory, Illinois, Wisconsin and others served, fought and died here in the Trans-Mississippi and when the US Army flag passes in review at West Point or at other ceremonies they are not represented. Maybe that is why the area was called the “unknown war”.

A petition has been in circulation to request the Secretary of the Army to remedy this oversight by designating a Civil War battle streamer for the Trans-Mississippi 1861-1865. Does anyone believe that this oversight can be corrected? Lt Alonzo Cushing finally get his Medal of Honor. Maybe there is hope!

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