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Archive for the month “April, 2015”

Answers Civil War Roundtable April 2015 Quiz

St. Louis Civil War Roundtable
April 2015

1. After the Battle of Aquia Creek, Virginia, 29 May-1 June 1861, the officer commanding the Navy Flotilla was killed. Who was he and what is unique about his death and his legacy?
Commander James Harmon Ward was the first Navy Officer killed in action in the Civil War, 27 June 1861. The destroyer USS Ward (DD139) was named in his honor and fired the first retaliatory shots at the Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor.
2. Dr. D. Willard Bliss was the surgeon for the 3rd Michigan Vol. Infantry Regiment in the Civil War and ran the Armory Square Hospital, located across the street from the Smithsonian Institution. He had the respect and admiration of his staff including Walt Whitman. What was his given first name?
Dr. Bliss was named “Doctor” by his parents in anticipation of his future vocation. He is the namesake of Ft. Bliss, Texas. He was one of the surgeons who treated Pres. Lincoln and was selected by Secretary Lincoln to treat the wounded President Garfield. He was considered an expert in ballistic trauma. Bliss also invited Alexander Graham Bell to test his metal detector on the President, hoping that it would locate the bullet. The device’s signal was thought to be distorted by the metal bed springs. Later the detector was proved to work perfectly and would have found the bullet had Bliss allowed Bell to use the device on Garfield’s left side as well his right side. After Garfield’s death, Bliss submitted a claim for $25,000 (approximately $550,000 in 2010) for his services to the President. He was offered $6,500 instead, an offer that he refused. Bliss did not accept Lister’s theory on sepsis which caused considerable pain and probably Pres. Garfield’s death. He is the source for the expression “Ignorance is Bliss”. 3. Who succeeded the following generals after their battlefield death or serious wounding?
g. LT General T J Jackson Confederate II Corps Commander wounded at Chancellorsville
h. Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick VI Corps Commander killed at Spotsylvania
i. LT Gen. James Longstreet Confederate I Corps Commander seriously wounded at Wilderness
j. General Joseph E. Johnston CS army commander when he was wounded at Seven Pines
k. Maj. Gen John B. Hood CS division commander wounded at Little Round Top Gettysburg
l. Maj. Gen. John B. Hood CS division commander wounded at Chickamauga
m. LT General A. P. Hill CS commander of III Corps killed at the Third Battle of Petersburg
ANSWERS g. MG JEB Stuart; h. MG Horatio G. Wright; i. MG Richard H. Anderson; j. Gustavas Smith then Robert E Lee; k. BG Evander Law (Micah Jenkins); l. BG Evander Law; m. MG Henry Heth.
4. In the Battle of Olustee what unusual casualty evacuation process was out of necessity employed and why was it considered necessary?
On the morning of 22 February, as the Union forces were still retreating to Jacksonville, Florida the 54th Massachusetts was ordered to counter-march back to Ten-Mile Station. The locomotive of a train carrying wounded Union soldiers had broken down and many wounded colored soldiers were in danger of capture which at Olustee might have meant death. When the 54th Massachusetts arrived, the men attached ropes to the engine and cars and manually pulled the train approximately three miles to Camp Finnegan, where horses were secured to help pull the train. After that, the train was pulled by both men and horses to Jacksonville for a total distance of ten miles. It took forty-two hours to pull the train that distance.
5. Why was Col. Randolph Casey, who had been captured and with a noose around his neck in his front yard in Mountain Home, AR, taken down and released by his Union captures?
He flashed a Masonic signal to the Union captain, a fellow Mason, who rode away without burning the cabin which is still standing to this day!

Copyright© 2015 John A. Nischwitz

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Civil War Roundtale Quix April 2015

St. Louis Civil War Roundtable
April 2015

1. During the Battle of Aquia Creek, 29 May-1 June 1861, the officer commanding the Navy flotilla was killed. Who was he and what is unique about his death and legacy?

2. Dr. D. Willard Bliss was the surgeon for the 3rd Michigan Vol. Infantry Regiment in the Civil War and ran the Armory Square Hospital, located across the street from the Smithsonian Institution. He had the respect and admiration of his staff including Walt Whitman. What was his given first name?

3. Who succeeded the following generals after their battlefield death or serious wounding?
g. LT General T J Jackson Confederate II Corps Commander wounded at Chancellorsville
h. Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick VI Corps Commander killed at Spotsylvania
i. LT Gen. James Longstreet Confederate I Corps Commander seriously wounded at Wilderness
j. General Joseph E. Johnston CS army commander when he was wounded at Seven Pines
k. Maj. Gen John B. Hood CS division commander wounded at Little Round Top Gettysburg
l. Maj. Gen. John B. Hood CS division commander wounded at Chickamauga
m. LT General A. P. Hill CS commander of III Corps killed at the Third Battle of Petersburg

4. In the Battle of Olustee what unusual casualty evacuation process was out of necessity employed and why was it considered necessary?

5. Why was Col. Randolph Casey, who had been captured and with a noose around his neck in his front yard in Mountain Home, AR, taken down and released by his Union captures?

Copyright© 2015 John A. Nischwitz

Horses and Mules-They Often Paid The Price

In the June 2015 issue of Civil War Times Magazine is an article by the noted historian James I. Robertson entitled A Dead Horse at Antietam wherein he discusses the roll and fate of the noble horse.

Robertson’s opening thought was about a photograph taken by Alexander Gardner after the battle of a dead stallion in an eerie pose. The animal was the beautiful and recognized mount of Col. Henry B. Strong of the 6th Louisiana Infantry. Several wrote in letters about the horse and its final pose including Union Brigadier Altheus Williams and Lieutenant Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Trivia junkie that I am I tried to determine the animal’s name but to no avail. If anyone knows the name I would appreciate your sending it to me as I am sure this noble stead did have a special name.

The article proceeds to detail numerous statistics regarding the roll of horse-power in the war. Some notable examples are the equine requirement for a single six-gun field battery is 72 horses for full efficiency. It should be noted that these horses had to be larger than cavalry mounts and were specified as such. And the standard of the day for infantry supply wagons was 12 wagons per 1000 men. Four horses pulled a wagon with 2800 pounds of supplies. A similar hitch of mules could pull a load of 4000 pounds over good roads. Few roads qualified as good. The supply train also carried oats and hay for the livestock and as in the case of Grant’s “Cracker Line” at Chattanooga they almost consumed so much they could not bring adequate supply to their destination.

At the time of the Pennsylvania Campaign into Gettysburg, Meade’s army used 4000 wagons and 1100 ambulances. Assuming the ambulance uses four animals that is an estimated total of 26,400 hay burners. Considering the number of animals that were killed or injured it is understandable how Meade had a problem with pursuit as Lee retreated. It also gives an interesting perspective on the 125 wagon train and 900 mules captured by JEB Stuart at Rockville, Maryland. These brand new wagons and teams plus the supplies they contained were a prize no Confederate could easily discount.

As the Civil War began in 1861 no one expected it would last as long as it did. No one ever thought that the 3.4 million horses in the North and the 1.7 million in the Confederacy would not be enough to support the war. The supply of mules was also considered plentiful. The war cost 1.5 million horses and mules their lives and a million more were returned home lame and broken down from over use. Some officers were relentless in their efforts and brutally abused the men and animals in their commands. General “Kill Cavalry” Kilpatrick was well known for pushing his command and horses with abandon. Morgan’s Raiders covered 1100 miles in July 1862 and while the cavalrymen could sleep in the saddle the horses had to keep moving. Stuart’s ride from Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania to join Lee at Gettysburg was a similarly taxing ride for the horses, so much so that Lee ordered Stuart out of action to rest his command prior to the cavalry action on 3 July. A detailed account of the condition of his horses might explain the outcome of the day’s action. Numerous other cavalry raids occurred with comparative equine punishment.

Gen. Sherman was aware of the need to care for his livestock on his “March to the Sea”. He required taking “every opportunity at a halt during a march should be taken advantage of to cut grass, wheat, or oats and extraordinary care be taken of the horses upon which everything depends”. Sherman’s previous army experience as a logistician served him well.

During the early period of the war the North suffered from poor cavalry stock due to a faulty procurement system rife with graft. General Joe Hooker corrected this during his brief period as Commanding General where he established an effective depot and procurement system. This began to have telling effect as the quality of Federal horseman improved as the quality of Southern horses began to decline.

Severe weather conditions affected battlefield performance as forage became scarce and cold and freezing weather followed by the following thaw and muddy conditions plagued the livestock. Thomas’ delay at Nashville was a classic example of such delay and almost cost him his command. McClellan complained of the condition of his horses causing President Lincoln to question what he had done to tire his animals. The Civil War was the last war where muscle power was so heavily depended upon. Later conflicts began the ever increasing use of mechanical devices for movement and mobility.

The fall of Vicksburg is often cited as the last obstacle restricting the free movement of the Mississippi to the sea. What is not often understood is that once the last stretch of the river was controlled by the Union movement of replacement horses and mules from Arkansas and Texas was ended. This shortage of horseflesh caused Lee eventually to reduce the number of his artillery batteries as the required replacement horses were not available.

Horses were deliberately slaughtered at times to keep them out of enemy hands. A lame or disabled horse was regularly killed rather than let it be recovered and returned to health by the enemy. Farriers were in great demand and were paid a higher rate because of the need to keep the stock shod. 2.3 million horse and mule shoes were required annually for every 60,000 animals. Again, having the supply and talent at the right place and time was a clear challenge and failure caused the stock to suffer and eventually break down.

Horses and mules require considerable roughage in their diet. Feeding only grain causes diseases like colic and other ailments. Grains are easier to transport and hay is so bulky that often the stock consumes more than they can carry. When there is a shortfall again the animals suffer. Water is also a necessity for man and animal and the logistics of water supply is complicated even for today’s army.

All this deals with the health and well being of the horses and mules. Combat conditions like the one involving Col. Strong’s horse led to large numbers of losses. The Army of the Potomac lost about 881 artillery horses during the three days of combat at Gettysburg. Rufus Ingals, the Army quartermaster eventually estimated he would need 5000 replacement horses for the cavalry and artillery. Such losses must have seemed daunting. Then there is the question of disposal of the carcasses. Burning was the only reasonable method and in some cases, such as after the Battle of Perryville, this horrible chore was left to the civilian population as the armies withdrew.

Maybe the next time you see a Civil War movie and are thrilled by the fire of the cannon and the brash charge of the cavalry a brief consideration of the sacrifice and dedication of the horses and mules, which cannot be economically portrayed, should be remembered…and applauded.

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