Friday, March 23, 2007

Fort Waul, Gonzales, TX

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News on this date:

Attraction or albatross?
Web Posted: 03/22/2007 10:26 PM CDT
Jeorge ZarazuaExpress-News
GONZALES — Wayne Ellison acknowledges it's not much to look at in its current condition.
All that remains on Waldrip Hill are earthen mounds where the 8-foot outer walls of a little-known Confederate fort once stood.
The passage of time has eroded the outlines of Fort Waul into smaller, weed-covered swells. The blockhouse is gone.
"People in town, when they come out here to see it, they say, 'Well, this is not impressive,'" Ellison said. "They want stone walls, wood walls. Well, if we put it back to how it was, it would be."
But Ellison's efforts to restore the Confederate fort have gone nowhere.
Publicly, officials in this history-steeped town, known as the birthplace of the Texas Revolution, say the fort could be an asset to local tourism. Privately, however, some suggest the city would rather forget the fort — and its ties to the Old South.
Ellison and other members of the Confederate Sons of America said restoring Fort Waul is about preserving history, not celebrating the fight for slavery.
"It's an integral part of the community's background," said Mike Anthony of New Braunfels. "It did happen."
Ellison agrees.
"History is history. I'm not trying to change anything. I'm just trying to save a little bit of it. Is something wrong with that?"
What makes the fort unique, Ellison said, is that it's the only one the Confederacy commissioned to be built west of the Mississippi River. Other Confederate works were evacuated by federal troops when war broke out, or were built later by the federals and then captured.
Edmund P. Turner, the Confederacy's assistant adjutant general for Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, ordered the fort built after Union forces captured the Texas port of Indianola in November 1863.
Officials feared a possible Union attempt to seize the central supply depot in Gonzales, further damaging the flow of supplies from Texas to other Confederate states.
That attack never materialized and work on the fort eventually was abandoned.
Ellison said this isn't the first time someone has tried to restore the fort — named in the late 1870s after Confederate Gen. Thomas N. Waul, a local lawyer and cotton farmer.
"There's been seven or nine attempts, but all half-hearted, I guess," said Sandra Wolf, manager of the neighboring Pioneer Village, which features structures from the 1800s.
Ellison said he was disappointed to find the hill being used as a dumpsite. Members of the Confederate Sons of America and other volunteers recently have been spending more time trying to keep the area clean.
He said he hopes he can rejuvenate restoration efforts with the support of those groups and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
"We're trying to get the town fired up," he said. "This is part of our history that has been kind of forgotten and we're trying to bring it back.
"It would be a great thing if we could restore the fort, and with Pioneer Village next to it, it would be a great tourist attraction."
Wolf said she believes enough local support can be found to restore the fort. Most Pioneer Village visitors who learn of the earthen encampment express interest in it, she said.
The village already displays some Civil War-era artifacts that have been retrieved from the grounds of the 250-by-750-foot fort.
There also are stories of a powder magazine believed to be buried in one of the walls, with cannon balls entombed.
The blockhouse, which was in the center of the fort, has long since been dismantled, its stones used to rebuild the Gonzales College dormitory, according to the Handbook of Texas Online.
Ellison said restoring the fort would be inexpensive, considering most of it was earthworks and trenches. The only other structure in the fort was a storage room.
"There's some things in this world that should be done," he said, "and by God, this is one of them."

There is something worth saving.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

CSS Shenandoah

Dates: 19 October, 1864 to 6 November, 1865

Commander: Lieutenant Commanding James I. Waddell, Confederate States Navy

Prelude: When the Southern States seceded in 1861, one main deficiency was blaringly obvious, in order to match the power of the Union, the Confederacy needed to be able to take to the seas. Already, the North was beginning to station ships off Southern ports in order to blockade then, restricting trade and the flow of material needed to maintain a war effort. Seeing that, CS President Jefferson Davis authorized Letters of Marque and Reprisal, documents authorizing a ship’s master to conduct raids on Federal shipping.

The main problem with all of that was that the Confederacy did not have a sailing tradition, such as in New England. Despite having the ability to turn a cargo vessel into a warship like CSS Sumter, there was no capability to build warships beyond river and coastal vessels.

To get the vessels needed, President Davis sent James Bulloch to the United Kingdom as an agent to procure ships and material for the South. Bulloch was a US Navy veteran who was running a mail steamer at the time his native state, Georgia, seceded.

Bulloch faced several difficulties; First: The British government’s official position was of neutrality with acknowledgement of the CSA as a belligerent. However there was a matter of the Foreign Enlistment Act of 1819, which forbade British subjects from fitting out a vessel for was against a nation in which the UK was not at war with. Second: The US was represented by Ambassador Charles Francis Adams, assisted by the US Counsel at Liverpool, Thomas H. Dudley, a formidable diplomatic team. Last: The main financial backing of the Confederates was cotton, however, some savvy financial agents helped Bulloch get the cash needed.

The plan was simple, buy a ship nearing completion or contract to have one built. Have that vessel registered under one name. When possession was taken, the ship was sailed into International waters or to a neutral place where a supply vessel would meet her. When guns, ammunition, supplies, and a crew was on board, the vessel was commissioned as a CS Navy ship and that warship would be sent on the maim mission, to disrupt Northern shipping.

In December of 1861, the vessel Oreto was bought under this plan, first called Palermo, sailed to Nassau, Bahamas, and then rechristened CSS Florida.

Bulloch did it again with a ship called 290. This ship was christened Enrica, sailed to the Azores where a supply ship soon arrived. After supplies were aboard, the Enrica was rechristened CSS Alabama, the most famous of the Confederate commerce raiders.

Bulloch did try to get iron warships built but was stopped by British authorities when that government was threatened by war with the US if those ships entered Confederate service. The two ships, called the “Laird Rams” because they were built by Laird Brothers Shipbuilders in Liverpool, became HMS Wivern and HMS Scorpion in the end.

In 1864, as the fortunes of the Confederacy were waning, Bulloch found other opportunities to buy and outfit ships. The iron screw steamer Japan, soon became CSS Georgia and a surplus Royal Navy ship called Victor was to become CSS Rappahannock, but was deemed not powerful enough to take on Federal warships.

In the fall of 1864, Bulloch heard of a vessel in Glasgow called Sea King that was available. He sent another agent to Scotland with orders to purchase the vessel. Once that was done, that ship was turned over to Captain G. H. Corbett and a small crew with orders to sail to Madeira, Spain. Meanwhile, Bulloch purchased the supply ship Laurel and was filling the vessel with guns, ammunition, and other supplies. Sailing in Laurel would be the command crew for the new warship, including Waddell.

Waddell was from North Carolina who had been in the US Navy since 1841, when he entered on s direct midshipman appointment (the Naval Academy had not been established yet). While the tensions between North and South were felt mostly among the Army ranks, the Navy officers were taking a wait and see approach. He was serving aboard USS John Adams when the ship made a stop at St Helena. There, he learned of the First Battle of Bull Run and that North Carolina had seceded. Waddell tendered his resignation and after leaving the ship in New York, made his way to Richmond, VA where he received a commission in the Confederate States Navy on 27 March, 1862. After serving at New Orleans, Navy Headquarters and Charleston, Waddell was ordered to Britain to assist Bulloch.

19 October, 1864: Laurel and Sea King meet off Funchal, Madeira. The crew boarding the new warship included former crewmembers of CSS Alabama as well as some English sailors looking for some adventure. As soon as the crew, weapons, and supplies were aboard, the Confederate Naval Jack was raised and the ship was officially rechristened CSS Shenandoah. Several days were then spent modifying the ship so guns could be mounted.

26 October, 1864: Shenandoah officially begins operations in the Atlantic Ocean against Northern shipping. Their first two finds turned out to be British ships and as such, left alone.

30 October, 1864: The Alena of Searsport becomes the first US vessel taken by Shenandoah. After taking equipment, dinnerware, sail material, and supplies, the merchantman was burned. The crew and passengers were taken aboard Shenandoah.

5 November, 1864: Shenandoah captures and burns the schooner Charter Oak.

8 November, 1864: Shenandoah captures and burns the bark D. Godfrey. Waddell regretted destroying the cargo, which consisted of pork and beef, but Shenandoah’s provision stores were full.

10 November, 1864: Shenandoah meets with the Danish ship Anna Jane and prisoners were transferred over. One of the gifts given to the Danish ship’s master was the chronometer from Alena.

On that same day the cargo ship Susan, loaded with coal was captured and sunk.

11 November, 1864: The CSS Shenandoah encountered the following vessels; the clipper Kate Prince, with a load of coal. The crew was ransomed. Next the Adelaide Pendergrast was captures and found to be an American vessel under Brazilian colors. American shipowners were reregistering their ships under other nationalities’ colors due to the ravages caused by CSS Alabama. However, this vessel was found to have raised the flag of Brazil under false pretenses, making it legal for Waddell to burn her. A letter found at the last minute prevented the destruction and the crew was ransomed instead.

13 November, 1864: Shenandoah captures and burns the schooner Lizzy M. Stacey.

17 November, 1864: Shenandoah crosses the Equator into the South Atlantic. They begin sailing along the Brazilian coast.

4 December, 1864: The whaler Edward is captured 50 miles off Tristan du Cunha Island and burned after being stripped of stores. The crew was taken to the island.

Waddell decides to then head for Cape Town, South Africa. He intends to have repairs made to the ship but decides to continue on to Australia.

29 December, 1864: The bark Delphine was captured near South Africa with a load of rice. After some livestock was taken off, the vessel was burned.

2 January, 1865: Shenandoah reaches the Islands of Amsterdam and St Paul, in the Indian Ocean, and there was a brief search for US ships. The warship then continued toward Australia.

26 January, 1865: Shenandoah reaches Melbourne, Australia and after a health inspection, allowed to enter. Arrangements were made for ship repairs, provisioning, and the release of prisoners.

During the stay in Melbourne, it was arranged to have Shenandoah put into dry dock. Trouble came in the form of the US Counsel, who convinced several of the crew to desert. When Waddell protested to the local authorities, he was met with a refusal. Officers who visited the town were treated to the sight of many Federal flags flown by US citizens who lived in Melbourne. The locals, however, feasted and feted the Shenandoah’s officers every chance they got.
There was a serious problem when local police came on board to check out a report of a British subject on board Shenandoah in violation of law. While the warrant was being executed, services were being withdrawn. Waddell protested, stating that he cooperated with the authorities and declared that no person signed on the Shenandoah prior to arrival in Melbourne. Because of that, he would not permit a search of Shenandoah as it was CSA territory. Soon, guns were being positioned to prevent Shenandoah from leaving. Waddell then sent a message to the Governor requesting permission to leave. This was given and Shenandoah left the dock two hours later.

19 February, 1865: Shenandoah departs Melbourne.

21 March, 1865: Shenandoah makes landfall at Drummond Island following a gale.

23 March, 1865: Shenandoah encounters a schooner from Hawaii and receives news of the US whaling fleet.

1 April, 1865: Shenandoah captures four whalers, the Pearl, Edward Carey, Hector, and Harvest at Ascension Island. Among the articles captured were maps of the North Pacific. With no idea that the war was in its last days, Waddell decides to head north.

3 April, 1865: Shenandoah holds a reception for the King of Ascension Island.

13 April, 1865: Shenandoah departs on their new mission, destroy the US whaling fleet.

21 May, 1865: Shenandoah sails into the Sea of Okhotsk and then up the coast of Kamchatka.

27 May, 1865: The whaler Abigail was captured and burned off Shantarski Island.

As the Shenandoah kept going north, ice was a problem as the Arctic Circle was neared. They did manage to gather enough to melt and replenish their water storage.

16 June, 1865: Shenandoah enters the Bering Sea.

22 June, 1865: The whalers William Thompson and Euphrates are captured in the Bering Sea near Cape Navarin. Later that day the Sophia Thornton and Jiveh Swift are also captured.

23-26 June, 1865: Shenandoah makes a big score, capturing the following vessels; William C. Nye, Nimrod, Catherine, Gypsey, Isabella, General Pike, General Williams, and Susan Abigail.

During the capture of the vessels, it was brought to Waddell’s attention that the war was over. Waddell rejected that out of lack of evidence, but paroled the prisoners.

Upon capturing the Susan Abigail several California newspapers were found. They told of the Southern Government’s removal to Danville, VA and of President Davis’ proclamation to fight on. Waddell takes it as a sign to go on.

28 June, 1865: Shenandoah captures the following vessels: Favorite, Congress, Hillman, Howland, Nassau, Martha, Waverly, Covington, Brunswick, Murray, Milo, and Nile. This effectively put the entire US whaling fleet out of service. This was a colossal victory for CSS Shenandoah, however, this took place after the end of hostilities.

Waddell decides to take Shenandoah back into the open Pacific Ocean, planning to head for San Francisco and at least throw a few shells into the town.

While enroute, the British vessel Barracouta was spotted and after being allowed to board her, Waddell learns that not only was the war over, but the CSA, the country he was fighting for, no longer exists. Ordering the guns dismounted and stowed, Waddell decides not to surrender to a Union port or ship, but instead to surrender to English authorities.

Shenandoah was sailed south, around Cape Horn, and finally north. Despite the hull and boilers being fouled, she made good time.

6 November, 1865: Shenandoah enters the Mersey River and heads into Liverpool Harbor. The warship is tied next to HMS Donegal. The Captain of the Donegal boards Shenandoah and informs Waddell that the war was indeed over and that since the CSA no longer exists, he was no longer recognized as a belligerent. Waddell orders the Confederate Naval Jack lowered, and officially surrenders to British authorities. On 10 November, 1865, the officers and crew of CSS Shenandoah were paid off and released from duty.

There was a brief diplomatic exchange between the US and UK governments as to the disposition of the Shenandoah. It was decided to turn the vessel to US authorities. On 21 November, 1865, Shenandoah was sailed out of Liverpool headed for New York but problems forced a return. Because another crew could not be hired for a second attempt, the Shenandoah was eventually sold to the Sultan of Zanzibar for $108,632.18. The Sultan wanted to outfit the ship as a pleasure yacht, but ended up using her as a freighter, renaming her the Majidi. The vessel was wrecked in a hurricane in 1872. After repairs, the vessel sunk in the Mozambique Channel in July, 1872.

Waddell returned to the US in 1875 after all charges of piracy against him dropped in exchange for the British Government paying for the monetary damages Shenandoah had caused. He soon found work as captain of the liner San Francisco on the New York-Melbourne run. On the liner’s maiden voyage, she struck an uncharted reef off Mexico and sunk. After retirement, he was hired by the State of Maryland to rid the Chesapeake Bay of oyster pirates. He publishes his memoirs before dying on 15 March, 1886.

The one amazing fact from the voyage of the CSS Shenandoah was that when it was done, Shenandoah became the only ship of the Confederate States Navy to circumnavigate the globe, flying the Confederate flag the entire time.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Dates 21 September to 25 November, 1863


Union: Major General William Rosecrans, then Major General George Thomas commanding the Army of the Cumberland. Overseen by Major General Ulysses S. Grant, commander of Union armies in the West.

Confederate: General Braxton Bragg, commanding the Army of Tennessee.

Prelude: Union forces were streaming into Chattanooga following their defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga. Rosecrans has his commanders begin to prepare defenses. His first mistake was not to use the surrounding mountain ranges, but instead established his lines in the valley.

Chattanooga sits on a bend in the Tennessee River. To the southwest sits Lookout Mountain, to the east sits Missionary Ridge. Rosecrans believed that he would not be able to hold the ridges and that a shorter defense line was proper. He did not know that Bragg was disorganized as his men wasted time looting the Chickamauga battlefield. Bragg’s cavalry, under Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest had spotted the retreating Federals in total disarray and pressed Bragg to attack. Bragg is slow to respond and parts of his army do not move until the late afternoon of 21 September.

22 September, 1863: Braggs advance troops reach the outer line of the Federal defenses. Bragg sees his chance to destroy the Union Army in Tennessee slip away and decides on a siege. He orders his troops to occupy Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Little does he know that events far away are moving to permanently rob him of the victory he seeks.

23 September, 1863: Evening: US President Abraham Lincoln has retired for the night at the Soldiers’ Home, where he goes to sleep in summer, the White House being too hot during that time of year. Earlier, he received a telegram from Rosecrans assuring that Chattanooga can be held. He goes to sleep with that knowledge buy his secretary, John Hay, awakens him with the news that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton has called a Council of War to discuss the situation in Tennessee. Lincoln rides back into Washington for the meeting.

24 September, 1863: Early Morning: At the Council of War, it is decided that is was in the best interest of the Union war effort that Chattanooga be held. The city as a junction of road, river and rail traffic would be essential to future Union operations, either to Mobile, AL or Atlanta, GA. It was decided to reinforce the garrison. Orders were prepared to Grant to send his forces there. Other orders were prepared for the Army of the Potomac to send troops to Chattanooga. Another order was for Major General Ambrose Burnside to march his troops to aid Rosecrans. A final order named Grant overall commander of Union forces in the West with direct control over the situation in Tennessee.

That same day saw the Union troops in Chattanooga almost surrounded. With Confederate troops on Lookout Mountain, the main supply line coming from Alabama is cut off.

25 September, 1863: Burnside receives his orders, but decides to march on Jonesboro’, TN instead. In Virginia Major General Joseph Hooker is given command of a force consisting of XI and XII Corps. The 20,000 Federal soldiers are pulled out of their lines and begin transport to Tennessee.

28 September, 1863: In the Union camp, the recriminations are flying over the defeat at Chickamauga. Rosecrans brought charges against Major Generals Alexander McCook and Thomas Crittenden and they were ordered to Indianapolis, IN to stand before a court of inquiry. When news of this got out, the moral sank further that it already was. The food situation was already getting bad.

29 September, 1863: Grant receives orders to go to Rosecrans’ aid. As such, ha was already moving troops in that direction. The corps of Major General William Sherman was enroute and that most of the Federal troops in Vicksburg, MS was also ordered to march east, under Major General James McPherson.

30 September, 1863: In order to close the box on the Federals in Chattanooga, Bragg orders his cavalry, under Brigadier General Joseph Wheeler to raid the Union rear. Rosecrans is sealed in with only a mountain road at his disposal, but no easy way to get supplies in.

2 October, 1863: Help is arriving in the form of Hooker’s troops reaching Stevenson, AL. In one week, 20,000 men and 3000 horses and mules were transported by rail in a movement that would have taken at least a month only a few years ago.

3 October, 1863: Hooker makes his headquarters at Stevenson while sending XI Corps, under Major General Oliver Howard to nearby Bridgeport. This places a railhead and a river port squarely in Union hands.

4 October, 1863: Hooker notes with approval the construction of flat bottomed boats for transporting supplies into the beleaguered garrison.

6 October, 1863: Rain storms lash the area, making a terrible situation worse for the Union troops and the citizens trapped in Chattanooga. Most of the wooden structures were stripped to build up the trenches.

As the food situation worsened, the army horses and mules are slaughtered for meat and hardtack, large crackers used as rations, are limited to one a day.

On the Confederate side, all was not harmony. Bragg never got along with his commanders and blamed then for not destroying the Federals after Chickamauga. The discord was reported to Richmond, VA, prompting CS President Jefferson Davis to pay the Army of Tennessee a visit.

10 October, 1863: Davis arrives at Chattanooga to learn first hand of the discontent in the Army of Tennessee. He invites those commanders to speak freely and to his dismay, Lieutenant General James Longstreet, who was attached to the Army of Tennessee from the Army of Northern Virginia, does just that. Longstreet offers to resign, which Davis refuses. Longstreet also recommends the removal of Bragg and replacing him with General Joseph Johnston. Davis also refuses that.

It seems that Davis, who was friends with Bragg since the Battle of Buena Vista on 23 February, 1847. During that Mexican War battle, Bragg’s artillery was supported by Davis’ Mississippi Rifles. Davis could not bring it upon himself to sack his old friend.

11 October, 1863: Sherman’s troops leave Memphis, TN for Corinth, MS, enroute to reinforce Chattanooga.

18 October, 1863: Grant, in his capacity as commander of the Union’s western armies, orders that Rosecrans be relieved of command at Chattanooga. His replacement is Thomas, who was already being called “The Rock of Chickamauga” for his stubborn defense during that battle. Thomas’ first order was to declare that “We will hold this town until we starve.” Grant also decided that he will personally oversee the operation.

21 October, 1863: Grant arrives in Stevenson and haves an meeting with Rosecrans, who is traveling north after turning his command over to Thomas. Rosecrans will not have another major command for the remainder of the war.

23 October, 1863: Grant arrives in Chattanooga. During the trip, he saw first hand the problems of maintaining a supply line and devises a plan to get a secure line opened to Bridgeport. Thomas already has a plan for that and Grant gives his permission to execute it.

26 October, 1863: Hooker advances east from Stevenson with the objective to capturing a ferry crossing west of Chattanooga. Thomas sends what troops he can to help secure that.

Brown’s Ferry is located west of Chattanooga around a bend in the river called Moccasin Point. The ferry crossing is linked to another crossing call Flying Ferry at the town itself. If Brown’s Ferry can be captured, a secure supply line can be opened by both road and river. This would also extend the Union lines past Lookout Mountain.

27 October, 1863: 5 a.m.: Confederate pickets are surprised by Union troops arriving by pontoon boats at Brown’s Ferry. Another Federal forces marches overland in support. By 10 a.m. the ferry crossing is secure and a pontoon bridge built across the river.

28 October, 1863: Hooker’s troops arrive and secure the west end of the crossing. The supply line if finally opened.

Longstreet and his forces on Lookout Mountain see this and realize that a frontal attack was not possible. He decides on a night attack.

29 October, 1863: Early Morning: Longstreet sends a division under Brigadier General Micah Jenkins to attack the Union troops at Brown’s Ferry. Under a clear. moonlit sky, the Confederates rum into Brigadier General John Geary’s Union division. Longstreet directs the battle by signal flares but the code he was using had been already cracked by the Federals. Still, the fighting was uncoordinated. The Confederates were driven off but it came at a personal price to Geary. His son was commanding an artillery battery and was killed in the battle.

With the ferry crossing secured, the first boatload of supplies is quickly sent to Chattanooga. And not too soon, the warehouse had four boxes of hardtack left.

31 October, 1863: The cry goes up, “The Cracker Line is open! Full rations boys.” This cry gave the supply line its name, The Cracker Line, and lifted the spirits up the spirits of the Federal troops in Chattanooga. This effectively cracked the siege, but there is still the issue of driving Bragg off.

1 November, 1863: Sherman’s troops reach Eastport, TN and cross the Tennessee River.

4 November, 1863: The discontent in the Army of Tennessee is still raging. Bragg orders Longstreet and Wheeler to move to Knoxville, where Burnside is bottled up. For the time being, Grant will ignore Knoxville.

Over the next two weeks, Bragg will get rid of any officer who opposed him commanding the Army of Tennessee.

14 November, 1863: Sherman arrives in Chattanooga. After conferring with Grant and seeing the poor, but improving condition of Thomas’ forces, it was decided the use the new troops to dislodge the Confederates.

15 November, 1863: Grant orders the breakout. The plan was to leave the Army of the Cumberland in their positions while Hooker and Sherman launch the assault.

20 November, 1863: Despite pouring rain, Sherman’s troops cross Brown’s Ferry to take up positions facing the Confederate right. Hooker is assigned the task of taking Lookout Mountain.

21 November, 1863: Grant changes his plan slightly. He now plans to use the Army of the Cumberland to clear a hill called Orchard Knob, a small hill near Missionary Ridge.

At the same time, Grant reorganizes the Army of the Cumberland into a smaller force, detaching XX Corps to support Sherman and XIV to support Hooker. Also, XX and XXI Corps are combined and renamed IV Corps.

23 November, 1863: There is a parade consisting of the divisions of Brigadier Generals Thomas Wood and Philip Sheridan taking place within their lines. To make things interesting, Union artillery fire on Confederate positions on Missionary Ridge. At a signal, both divisions change to line of battle formation and rush Orchard Knob, capturing it and establishing a defensive line.

Bragg complicates his situation by agreeing to a request to send Major General Patrick Cleburne’s division to assist Longstreet in taking Knoxville.

24 November, 1863: Rain and fog cover the area as Hooker sends his troops forward to Lookout Mountain. Despite the weather, the Federals take the Confederate positions with ease. Because of the fact that the top of Lookout Mountain was covered in fog, the assault became known as “The Battle Above the Clouds.” Actually, the assault came as a shock to the Confederates, who withdrew.

25 November, 1863: Battle of Chattanooga: Dawn: Sunrise reveals that the Federals have taken Lookout Mountain. Bragg orders Cleburne back to Chattanooga. Cleburne manages to reform in their position, assisted by troops under Lieutenant General William Hardee.

11:00 a.m.: Sherman launches his assault on the Confederate right. This stalls in front of Cleburne’s position. Meanwhile, Hooker advances from Lookout Mountain but is stalled at Chattanooga Creek while a pontoon bridge is built, the previous on having been destroyed by the retreating Confederates.

Things become stable for a while, Bragg was in a good position that should make it difficult for the Union forces to dislodge him.

3:00 p.m.: Both Wood’s and Sheridan’s divisions maneuver in front of Missionary Ridge in order to draw Confederate troops to the center. Thomas orders then to seize a line of positions in front of the ridge but to go no further. As that line was captured, the Union troops continued to go forward, beginning to climb the ridge under heavy Confederate fire. Grant sees this and sends orders to stop. The couriers never reach Wood or Sheridan. As their troops reach the top of the ridge and the Confederate center, Thomas, seeing that it could not be stopped, orders his whole army forward up Missionary Ridge. This assault splits the Confederate line at the center, causing the Southern troops to retreat. Bragg sees this and orders a withdrawal into Georgia. Hardee and Cleburne hold their line long enough to let their comrades escape.

Bragg manages to keep most of his command intact, despite losing 6667 out of a force of 64,000. The Federals lost 5824 out of 56,000 men.

Chattanooga was finally secured and could be used as a base for operations into the Deep south.

Bragg would resign his command in 1 December, 1863. He would be replaced by Johnston. Bragg would become a military advisor to CS President Davis and soon after in command of the garrison of Wilmington, NC, where he does not respond to the attack on Fort Fisher in January of 1865. his command is folded into General Joe Johnston’s command and was present at the surrender at Durham Station on 26 April, 1865. Bragg spends time as the Chief Engineer of Alabama before moving to Texas. He dies in 1876.

Within a few months, Grant would be promoted to Lieutenant General and given command of all Union armies.

Sherman would receive command of the all Federal armies in the West, molding three armies into one and in spring of 1864, would start his campaign against Atlanta. Thomas would be one of his army commanders.

Sheridan was noticed by Grant and brought east with him. He would command the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac and would be instrumental in destroying Lieutenant General Jubal Early in the Shenandoah Valley and in battles from Five Forks to Appomattox Court House.

It is interesting to note that for the unauthorized assault on Missionary Ridge, seven Medals of Honor were given out. One of these was awarded to Lieutenant Arthur MacArthur, 19 at the time, for planting the colors on Missionary Ridge. He stayed in the US Army and served in the Spanish-American War, becoming a Major General and commanding US forces in the Philippines. His son was Douglas MacArthur, who also commanded US forces in the Philippines at the outbreak of World War II and would be instrumental in liberating that country.

Monday, March 05, 2007

New Mexico

Dates: 7 February to 23 July, 1862


Union: Colonel Edward Canby, commanding Federal forces in New Mexico Territory.

Confederate: Brigadier General Henry Sibley.

Prelude: Not many people know that there were battles in what was called the Far West. These battles were not as massive as Shiloh, Fredericksburg, or Gettysburg, but the campaign in New Mexico Territory was no less important. The region was under Federal control, blocking the CSA from further expansion. Those in Texas saw the region as a possible source of mineral wealth as well as a route for rail lines.

3 July, 1861: As the two nations focused on events in Virginia, a small Confederate force under Lieutenant Colonel John Baylor seize Fort Bliss, near El Paso.

27 July, 1861: Baylor’s force enters New Mexico and captures Fort Fillmore. They drive out a small Federal garrison under Major Isaac Lynde east to San Augustin Springs, and force their surrender.

This gives the Confederates a toehold in New Mexico and they waste no time. A Confederate Territory of Arizona was created and a local supporter was selected as a delegate to the Confederate Congress in Richmond, VA. (New Mexico Territory included the area that would one day be known as Arizona.)

This presented the Confederates with an opportunity. Sibley begins gathering a force to invade the territory and secure it for the CSA. At Fort Thorn, NMT a group of 3500 is gathered.

Sibley was a 1838 graduate of West Point who was known for designing a tent that is being used by both sides. His previous battle experience was as member of the 1st US Dragoons (cavalry) in the Mexican War. He resigned his commission as a Major and was made a Confederate Brigadier General. He is known to take to the bottle, which hampers his abilities.

7 February, 1862: Sibley and his Army of New Mexico began moving up the Rio Grande deeper into New Mexico. The first target was the Union Garrison at Valverde. Canby was already alerted to Sibley’s advance and was making preparations at Fort Craig.

Canby was a 1836 graduate of West Point and was a veteran of the Mexican and Seminole wars, as well as the “Trail of Tears,” the forced removal of Cherokee, Creeks, and Choctaws west. He was posted to New Mexico Territory after a tour in the 19th US Infantry. He commands the Department of New Mexico and has a force of 3800, mainly New Mexico Volunteers.

As Sibley approached, he saw that the Federals were prepared for him and decided to cross the Rio Grande and take Valverde. Canby detaches some of his force to hold the ford at Valverde.

21 February, 1862: Battle of Valverde: Canby crosses the Rio Grand and establishes a beachhead on the east bank. The Confederates launch a two-pronged counterattack. Their left wing is repulsed while the right wing captures a cannon the Federals brought with them. Canby is forces to pull back to Fort Craig where they are bottled up. Sibley orders the advance to continue.

With Canby pinned in Fort Craig, the Confederates keep moving north. Meanwhile, the call went out for volunteers to repel the Confederates. A force was formed in Colorado under the command of Colonel John Slough consisting of 1342 miners from Denver. They began moving south.

1 March, 1862: Sibley’s troops capture Albuquerque. They soon press on to Santa Fe.

11 March, 1862: Slough’s Federals reach Fort Union. These troops are formed as the 1st and 2nd Colorado Cavalry.

22 March, 1862: Slough begins an advance with the aim of taking back Santa Fe. Sibley responds with his own advance east.

25 March, 1862: Part of Slough’s force, led by Major John Chivington, intercepts a force of 400 Confederates at Apache Canyon and begins a running battle. The Federals soon pull back to join the main Union group.

26 March, 1862: Battle of Glorieta Pass: Confederate Colonel William R. Scurry leads a force of 1100 advancing to hit Slough’s lines. While the Confederates were being occupied, Slough sent Chivington to Johnson’s Ranch, near Apache Pass. There the Federals proceed to destroy the supplies that Scurry counted on for survival in New Mexico’s desert environment. He orders a retreat back to Santa Fe.

This strikes a fatal blow to any Confederate effort to keep New Mexico. Sibley knew that without supplies, he could not sustain operations in the area.

11 April, 1862: Sibley orders Santa Fe evacuated. The plan is to pull back to a major supply base, the closest one being San Antonio, TX.

As the Confederates pull back from Santa Fe, then Albuquerque, Slough mounts a pursuit. This adds pressure to Sibley, as now he has to avoid capture, as well as the lack of food and water, and the weather is already hot. Troops starve and die of thirst and heat exhaustion along the route.
23 April, 1862: Sibley and what’s left of the Army of New Mexico leaves Mesilla for San Antonio. The next day they cross into Texas, ending the campaign, dissolving the Confederate Territory of Arizona, and ending any future Confederate efforts in the Far West.

Canby was given the brevet (holds the rank but not the pay) rank of Brigadier General for his efforts. He was soon ordered to Washington DC as an assistant adjutant general. After a promotion to Major General, he was sent to New York after the Draft Riots of 1863. Although given command of both the Departments of the Gulf and Arkansas. His main job was the capture of Mobile, AL but his biggest triumph was accepting the surrender of the last Confederate Armies in the field at the close of the war. He remained in the US Army, seeing duty in the South during Reconstruction and then command of the Department of the Pacific. He was negotiating with the Modoc Indians when he was killed in a surprise attack on 11 April, 1873.

Sibley spent the rest of the war without a command. Post-war he went to Egypt where he served the Khedive as a artillery general. On return to the US, he went on the lecture circuit, but that did not work too well for him. He dies in 1886.

Slough had a better career in the war as he became a brigade commander under Major General John Pope and later as commander of the Alexandria, VA garrison. Post-war he went back to New Mexico Territory where he became the chief justice of the Territorial Supreme Court. He was wounded in a Santa Fe poolroom and died two days later.

Northwest Arkansas (1862)

Dates: 7 March to 8 December, 1862


Union: Major General Samuel Curtis

Confederate: Major General Earl Van Dorn

In response to the Federal seizure of Springfield, MO on 23 February, 1862, Confederate forces under General Sterling Price were forced to withdraw into Arkansas. Within that state, Price was able to reform his troops under a new command headed by Van Dorn. There was an initial friction between Price and another confederate General, Ben McCullough, until Van Dorn assumed command on 2 March, 1862.

Van Dorn was a West Point graduate (1842) who distinguished himself in both the Mexican War and operations against Native-Americans in what is now Oklahoma. He resigned his commission as a cavalry major when Mississippi seceded, he initially served as a general officer in the Mississippi State Troops. He entered Confederate service as a Colonel and briefly commanded the Department of Texas. As a Brigadier General, he held divisional commands in the Army of the Potomac (Confederate) and the Department of Northern Virginia before being sent to the west as Commander, Department of the Trans-Mississippi. He leads a force of 16,500.

On the Union side, Curtis was ordered by the Federal commander in the West, Major General Henry Halleck to pursue the Confederates into Arkansas.

Curtis graduated from West Point in 1831 but resigned after one year to take up civil engineering. During the Mexican War, he served as Colonel of the 3rd Ohio Militia. Afterwards he lived in Iowa and worked as a lawyer and civil engineer. When the Civil War broke out, Curtis left his seat in Congress and helped raise troops for the Union. After a brief period as Colonel of the 2nd Iowa, he was made Brigadier General of Volunteers and held command in the Army of Southwest Missouri, and the Department of the Missouri. He leads 10,000 men south to Arkansas, having to detail 12,000 more to keep the supply lines secure.

4 March, 1862: Van Dorn decides to take the initiative as he receives reinforcements in the form on a division made up of Cherokees and Creeks. With a force of 20,000, and outnumbering the Federals, the Confederates march into Northern Arkansas as ice storms rage through the region.

5 March 1862: Van Dorn’s troops are spotted by pickets of Brigadier General Franz Sigel’s division. He orders a pull back to the north to avoid getting captures and to report this to Curtis. Sigel loses 200 wagons in the process.

With the conditions for favorable to marching, Van Dorn begins to lose troops as they fall out. Still, he does not want to bring about an engagement too soon. His troops are marched up the Bentonville & Keetsville Road to the north, then cut south and his the Federals from the rear.

6 March, 1864: Sigel manages to reach Curtis’ positions along Sugar Creek, south of Leetown. Curtis decides to shift his forces north and meet the threat from Van Dorn. There is some skirmishing as the two sides probe each other’s positions. By that evening, the confederates were along some high ground known as Pea Ridge.

7 March, 1862: Battle of Pea Ridge: Van Dorn launches a massive assault on the Union lines. He takes advantage of the close brush and that many of his troops are carrying shotguns, idea for close in fighting. Curtis continues to shift his forced in order to meet the evolving situation. The Federals fight a holding action on their left flank, northwest of Leetown. The Confederates manage to anchor their left flank on a crossroads known as Elkhorn Tavern. Sigel’s troops are sent to that area.

On the Federal left, the line is pushed back, but they soon reform and launch an assault of their own, during which McCullough is killed and his troops fall back. Any further attacks are halted by darkness.

8 March, 1862: Curtis concentrates his forces at Elkhorn Tavern and began the day with heavy cannon bombardment. After two hours this is followed by an assault that drives the Confederates from the field, sealing Union victory.

The battle cost Curtis 1270 causalities while Van Dorn lost nearly 2000.

The Battle of Pea Ridge was the latest in a series of Union victories that started with the twin victories at Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee. The main effect of this was that while there will still be engagements in Missouri, any attempt to drive the Federals from that state would have to be put on hold.

As 1862 progressed, resources were being diverted on both sides to the ongoing campaigns along the Mississippi river. Van Dorn was ordered to march reinforcements to Mississippi. In his place, Major General Thomas Hindman was authorized to raise an army. He manages to call 11,000 to the colors. His target was to be a Federal force at Fayetteville led by Brigadier General James Blunt. Blunt’s 7000 soldiers was about to be reinforced by another 3000 under Brigadier General Francis Herron and Hindman wanted to prevent that from happening.

5 December, 1862: Hindman has gathered his force together and starts marching north from Van Buren to Fayetteville. He is reinforced by another small group under Brigadier General John Marmaduke, boosting his numbers to about 15,000. Marmaduke was just defeated at Cane Hill the week before. This battle had Blunt in one area and Herron in another. Hindman was stronger than either of the two groups and wanted to exploit that advantage.
7 December, 1862: Battle of Prairie Grove: Herron reached Fayetteville and begins to press on to Cane Hill in order to link up with Blunt. In the war are Hindman’s Confederates. Herron orders his artillery into action, hoping that the sound will alert Blunt. Herron then orders an assault on the Confederate right. By 2:00 p.m. Blunt arrives and immediately attacks Hindman’s left. Night fall stops the battle but the Federals ready themselves for another push.

Hindman decides he has had enough and orders a pull back to the south during the early morning hours the next day. The battle ends in a draw but the Federals had the advantage. Causalities for Hindman were 1350 while Blunt and Herron lost 1148.

The Battle of Prairie Grove cements the Union hold on Northern Arkansas and allows the Union to concentrate on securing the Mississippi River for the North.

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