Sunday, May 25, 2014

Captain Henry Guibor's Ingenuity

Recently, I’ve been doing some reading about artillery during the battle of Wilson’s Creek in preparation for a Staff Ride. In the process I learned that some of the Missouri State Guard artillerymen used a great deal of ingenuity in manufacturing ammunition and other supplies for their battery.
Lieutenant William P. Barlow explained that “After [the skirmish at] Carthage [Captain Henry] Guibor’s ingenuity was exercised in establishing an ‘arsenal of construction.’ We had found a number of loose, round shot in the battery wagon. A turning-lathe in the town supplied sabots, and the owner of a tin shop contributed straps and canisters, iron rods donated by and cut up in the blacksmith shot made good slugs for the canister and a bolt of flannel, needles and thread, freely given by some dry goods man, furnished material for cartridge bags. A bayonet made a good candlestick, and at night, after the day’s march, the men went to work sewing cartridge bags, strapping shot to the sabots, filling the bags from a barrel of powder placed some distance from the candle, in the meantime watching each change of wind and fearing it might blow a spark from the candle and blow us up.
My first cartridge resembled a turnip, rather than the trim cylinders from federal arsenals, and would not enter a gun on any terms. But we soon learned the trick, and at the close range at which the next battle [Wilson’s Creek] was fought our home-made ammunition proved as effective as the best” (page 32).
As it turns out, Barlow’s tale was not an “old soldier’s story.” About ten years ago, an archeological survey was conducted at Wilson’s Creek and among the finds was expedient (i.e. homemade) canister on the slopes of Bloody Hill as well as in Sharp’s Cornfield. Thanks to Barlow’s account historians can safely conclude that Guibor’s Battery fired the expedient canister found on Bloody Hill. Captain Hiram M. Bledsoe’s Battery, another Missouri Guard unit, probably fired the expedient canister found in Sharp’s Cornfield.

Source of Lieutenant Barlow’s quote:
Patrick, Jeffrey L., ed. “Remembering the Missouri Campaign of 1861: The Memoirs of Lt. W. P. Barlow, Guibor’s Battery, Missouri State Guard.” Civil War Regiments: A Journal of the American Civil War, Vol. 5, Number 4, pages 20-60.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Missouri Regiments Raised Late in the War

I pride myself on keeping up with Civil War literature, and so I was a bit humbled when I recently found out about Baptism of Fire: The 44th Missouri, 175th Ohio, and 183rd Ohio at the Battle of Franklin by Eric A. Jacobson and Richard A. Rupp, a book published three years ago. This book interested me primarily because my lone Union ancestor served in the
175th Ohio, but also it piqued my interest because it is partly about a trans-Mississippi unit. Regiments raised late in the conflict rarely receive much attention partly because many served in unglamorous yet important roles such as guarding railroads and serving as garrison troops. Some, though, experienced a significant amount of combat duty.

Officials authorized Major General William S. Rosecrans, the Union commander in Missouri at the time, to raise eleven new regiments of infantry. They were created due to the possibility that Sterling Price would move his men into the State and because of continuing guerrilla warfare. These new regiments were numbered as the 39th through the 49th and were raised from the late summer of 1864 to early 1865. These fresh troops experienced a wide range of service from the prosaic to the dramatic. The 39th Missouri Infantry has been featured before in a couple of my blog postings. Several companies of this unfortunate regiment were decimated by guerrillas at Centralia, Missouri, resulting in perhaps the highest loss by any Union infantry regiment in a single action. Here are thumbnail sketches of the others:

40th Missouri Infantry: service in the 1864 Tennessee campaign and the siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley. The regiment lost ten killed or mortally wounded and 58 men died of disease.

41st Missouri Infantry: garrison duty in St. Louis. The unit lost one man killed and 34 men died of disease.

42nd Missouri Infantry: garrison duty in Missouri; guarded railroads in Missouri; operated against guerrillas in Tennessee and northern Alabama; garrison duty in Tennessee. Six men were killed or mortally wounded and 124 men died of disease in the regiment.

43rd Missouri Infantry: operated against guerrillas in Missouri; part of the regiment fought at the battle of Glasgow, a skirmish a Little Blue River, and a skirmish near Lexington. The 43rd lost eleven men killed or mortally wounded and 53 men died of disease.

44th Missouri Infantry: fought in the battle of Franklin and the battle of Nashville; involved in the siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley. Sixty-five men were killed or mortally wounded and 173 men died of disease in this regiment.

45th Missouri Infantry: Duty in Missouri and then served at the battle of Nashville; garrison duty at Spring Hill, Tennessee. Four men were killed or mortally wounded and 82 men died of disease.

46th Missouri Infantry: regiment divided into detachments for service in various towns in southwest Missouri; operations in Arkansas in February 1865. The unit lost eight men killed or mortally wounded and 18 men died of disease.

47th Missouri Infantry: regiment divided into detachments for service in various towns in southeast Missouri; part of the regiment were involved in the action at Ironton; the regiment retreated from Pilot Knob and were involved at Fort Davidson; garrison duty in several towns in Tennessee. Ten men were killed or mortally wounded and 82 men died of disease.

48th Missouri Infantry: guarded various blockhouses in Tennessee; guard duty at Camp Douglas; escorted Confederate prisoners to City Point, Virginia. One hundred and twenty men died of disease.

49th Missouri Infantry: guarded railroad lines in northern Missouri; participated in the siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley. Four men were killed or mortally wounded and 96 men died of disease.

Thumbnail sketches of the regiments are based on Frederick H. Dyer’s A Compendium Of The War Of The Rebellion, vol. 2, pages 1336-1338.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Recent Trans-Mississippi Scholarship

Each year The Journal of Southern History publishes “Southern History in Periodicals: A Selected Bibliography”. After perusing the list, I pulled out citations for the following articles published in 2012 and 2013 that pertain to the trans-Mississippi:

Christ, Mark K. “’The Awful Scenes That Met My Eyes’: Union and Confederate Accounts of the Battle of St. Charles, June 17, 1862.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly, vol. 71, Winter 2012, pp. 407-423.

Cutrer, Thomas W. “’Fighting Indians from California to the Staked Plains’: Sergeant Edward E. Ayer and the 1st California Volunteer Cavalry, 1861-1864.” Military History of the West, vol. 42, 2012, pp. 1-29.

Fortney, Jeff. “Lest We Remember: Civil War Memory and Commemoration among the Five Tribes.” American Indian Quarterly, vol. 36 (Fall 2012), pp. 525-544.

Goldman, Henry H. “Sympathy for the Confederate Cause in Southern California, 1860-1865.” Journal of the West, vol. 51, Winter 2012, pp. 12-19.

Grav, Hans-Petter. “When the Beast Saved the Day and Yellow Jack Got Lost: The Story of General Butler and the Yellow Fever Epidemic That Never Took Place.” Southern Historian, vol. 33, Spring 2012, pp. 37-51.

Hahn, Steven. “Slave Emancipation, Indian Peoples, and the Projects of a New American Nation-State.” Journal of the Civil War Era, vol. 3, September 2013, pp. 307-330.

Hulbert, Matthew C. “How To Remember ‘This Damnable Guerrilla Warfare’: Four Vignettes from Civil War Missouri. Civil War History, vol. 59, June 2013, pp. 143-168.

McCaslin, Richard B. “Rip Ford: Confederate or Texan?” Military History of the West, vol. 42, 2012, pp. 30-39.

Mendoza, Alexander. “The Vision of Littlefield Preserved: Memorializing the Confederacy at the University of Texas.” Journal of the West, vol. 51, Spring 2012, pp. 49-59.

Nichols, James David. “The Line of Liberty: Runaway Slaves and Fugitive Peons in the Texas-Mexico Borderlands.” Western Historical Quarterly, vol. 44, Winter 2013, pp. 413-436.

Phillips, Christopher. “Lincoln’s Grasp of War: Hard War and the Politics of Neutrality and Slavery in the Western Border States, 1861-1862.” Journal of the Civil War Era, vol. 3, June 2013, pp. 184-210.

Safford, Jeffrey J. “Three Brothers in Arms: The Philbrooks and the Civil War in the West.” New Mexico Historical Review, vol. 88, Summer 2013, pp. 321-340.

Schulten, Susan. “The Civil War and the Origins of the Colorado Territory.” Western Historical Quarterly, vol. 44, Spring 2013, pp. 21-46.

Smith, Troy. “Nations Colliding: The Civil War Comes to Indian Territory.” Civil War History, vol. 59, September 2013, pp. 279-319.

Stack, Joan. “Toward an Emancipationist Interpretation of George Caleb Bingham’s General Order No. 11: The Reception History of the Painting and the Remembered Civil War in Missouri.” Missouri Historical Review, vol. 107, July 2013, pp. 203-221.

Walker, Thomas. “Fought With the Desperation of Tigers: Texas Press Opinion on Black Union Troops.” Journal of the West, vol. 51, Spring 2012, pp. 16-28.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

John Mead Gould: Red River Campaign Veteran

My intentions were to write a posting in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the battle of Jenkins’ Ferry on April 30th, but the “press of business” interfered. Instead, I'll focus on a Red River campaign veteran and his writings. John Mead Gould wrote the acclaimed A History of the First-Tenth-Twenty-ninth Maine Regiment published in 1871. Gould served in the eastern theater from April 1861 until May 1863, most notably experiencing combat at Cedar Mountain and Antietam. After the 10th Maine Infantry mustered out, Gould enlisted in the 29th Maine Infantry. Authorities mustered in the regiment in September 1863 and sent it several months later to New Orleans where it joined the 19th Corps. Lieutenant Gould then participated in campaigning and then combat at Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, Cane River, and Mansura during the Red River Campaign. Following service in Louisiana, the regiment then fought in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

In 1997, the Butternut and Blue Press published The Civil War Journals Of John Mead Gould, 1861-1866 that were used extensively in the writing of his regimental history. The chapters on Gould’s service in Louisiana account for about 70 pages in this oversized 564 page book, and his entries tend to be lengthy and articulate ones.

He also had some interesting observations about Nathaniel Banks who is usually portrayed as incompetent (or worse) during the campaign. Earlier in the war, Gould served in a division commanded by Banks and then found himself again under Banks’ command in Louisiana. In his May 11, 1864 entry Gould wrote, “Gen’l Banks is a wonderful man. There is no one in the Army that has struck me as he does. He never has been brilliantly successful in any campaign and has retreated and lost ground and prisoners and had every kind of misfortune that a small army must have when opposed to one larger. Yet you never hear him evil spoken of as you do every other General, I mean you don’t hear his soldiers speak ill of him.
But the other day a man of the 116th N. Y. who was at work on the dam suddenly quit his hold on a log he was lifting at and commenced damning Gen’l. Banks instead of damming Red River. Now Gen’l. Banks was right behind him in his slouch hat, cavalry pants and flannel blouse at work shoveling dirt or something of that kind and the blackguarding he received was too much for his feelings to receive without notice. So he went over to the New Yorker and took hold of the log himself saying ‘Keep your temper my good fellow! Keep cool! Old Corporal Banks has been in many a tighter place than this. He’ll get you all our right.’ And the man who told me the story said the New Yorker was so ashamed and conscience stricken that he was telling the incident to all he met as an atonement for his evil speech. Gen’l. Banks certainly keeps up his popularity wonderfully and he has the genius to back him up that some of our popular Generals haven’t got” (p. 345).