Saturday, March 21, 2015

150-years-ago -- The Battle of Fort Stedman, Petersburg Campaign

Sgt. Joseph C. LeBleu of Lake Charles, La.
color-bearer for the 10th Louisiana Infantry
at the Battle of Malvern Hill. (Photo courtesy
of Dan Jones)
At some time after he was exchanged from captivity, 2nd Lieutenant Isaac Ryan rejoined the Confederate States Rangers, which made him the commanding officer of what little was left of Company K. He was one of four brothers who served in the Confederate Army, including his older brother Asa Ryan who  lost a leg at Sharpsburg, and a younger brother, Joseph Lawrence Ryan, who was wounded at Second Manassas, all of whom served in the 10th Louisiana. The fourth Ryan brother serving the Confederacy was George Ryan, the youngest of the four, who served in the 7th Louisiana Cavalry, which took part in  the Red River Campaign of 1864 in Louisiana. The Ryan brothers were also cousins to other members of Company K, including the the three Reeves brother, James, John and Isaac; Oliver Ryan Moss and Walter Florence Moss; Bennett Ellender and Jacob Ellender. Also related to the Ryans in the company was Isaac Williams, a brother-in-law. Private Patrick Coyne, a native Irishman, had been an employee of the Ryan family saw mill in Lake Charles. But as of March, 1865, the only two of this sub-group left in the ranks were Isaac Ryan and Jacob Ellender. Lieutenant Ryan was eligible for a furlough but he postponed it to lead his men in the attack on Fort Stedman. The soldiers of the 10th Louisiana would be among those at the tip of the spear in leading the attack for Evans’ division. Also during this period, Peck was promoted to brigadier general and transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department.  Colonel Waggaman was placed in command of  the Louisiana brigade.
           On orders from Lee, General Gordon spent a week looking for a vulnerable point in the Federal trench lines. He found it at Fort Stedman. Gordon found that the fort, along the part of the line called Colquitt’s Salient, was just two hundred yards from the Confederate line. Fort Stedman was located on Hare’s Hill, and Gordon felt it would provide the best opportunity for a pre-dawn surprise attack. He planned to send out an advance party in the dark who would  “silence” the enemy pickets. Then 50 men with axes would rush up to the front of the fortification and quickly hack a pathway through the abatis and chevaux de frise for the attackers. Abatis are tree branches with one end sharpened to a point and pointed outward to deter attackers. Chevaux de frise are wooden spikes fixed around pole in a circular pattern and designed as an obstacle to cavalry. At that time, 300 men with empty muskets, but with bayonets attached, would rush into the fort and subdue the bluecoats on duty. The rest of the divisions taking part would fan out to the left and right and secure all three forts on the Federal main line, turn the guns of the Yankees, sever their communications and supply lines  and open a pathway for part of the Confederate Army to breakout of the siege. and join Johnston’s army in North Carolina.
            Gordon presented his plan to General Lee, who approved it. The plan was desperate and daring, but the Confederates were in a hopeless situation with food and other supplies running out. His army had dwindled to 50,000 men and only 35,000 fit for duty. Grant had on hand 150,000 with more on the way from Sheridan’s and Major General William T. Sherman’s armies. Sherman was approaching Richmond from the south where he had been rampaging through Georgia and the Carolinas. Lee gave Gordon approval for the plan and gave him the men he could spare for the effort, about 11,500 – including Gordon’s Second Corps and Bushrod Johnson’s division – with another 8,200 in reserve from Wilcox and Pickett’s commands.
Fort Stedman
(Library of Congress)

   General Gordon, making assignments for the assault,  placed  Evans’ division on the Confederate right and directed them to take batteries XI and XII to the left and right of Fort Stedman. When Evans held a meeting of his brigade officers he turned to Colonel Waggaman and told him he wanted the Louisiana brigade to be the storming party for  the division, a singular but hazardous assignment. Evans said to Waggaman, “On account of the valor of your troops, you will be allowed the honor of leading off in the attack.” He then added, “This you will make with unloaded arms.” To the left of Evans’ division were the divisions of Grimes, Walker and Bushrod Johnson. Walker also picked officers that he knew to be the “bravest of the brave” to lead the attack for his division. Brigadier General Philip Cook’s brigade would lead off for Grimes’ division.
           At 3 o’clock in the morning of March 25, Waggaman roused the Louisiana brigade to get ready and fix bayonets but not to load their muskets. Then, at 4 o’clock the axmen and storming parties were sent silently forward. Each of the men in the storming parties had a strip of white cloth tied across his chest so he could be recognized in the darkness and hand-to-hand fighting in the fort. First, obstructions in front of the Confederate lines had to be moved. As they were advancing through the badly cut up ground in no-man’s land, Waggaman fell into a muddy ditch and had to be pulled out by a private. The advanced Federal pickets were swiftly and silently overcome, axmen ran forward and quickly hacked a path for the storming party, then the men, with just axes and bayonets, leaped over the breastworks and overcame the guards. The surprise was complete.
            Colonel Waggaman and his Louisianians had a rough time getting into the works at Fort Stedman. 1st Lieutenant Benjamin R. Smith of Company B, 2nd Louisiana and two, four-man sections of sharpshooters were the first in the trench. Federal Brigadier General Napoleon B. McLaughlen was with the 29th  and 57th Massachusetts infantry regiments, ordered Battery XII to commence firing on Fort Stedman and then led a bayonet charge against it. The Louisianians held off the Massachusetts men in hand-to-hand fighting, the bluecoats who refused to surrender were bashed in the head with a rifle butt, or bayoneted. Evans’ division overcame the resistance and took       McLaughlen and his men captive. Gordon personally received McLaughlen’s surrender.
          Waggaman was reinforced by Terry’s Virginians and they then quickly took batteries XI and XII and headed south down the line toward Fort Haskell. Other Confederates headed north to Battery IX and to the Federal rear to take the next line of forts. Specially designated officers were to identify themselves as enemy officers to gain entry to these forts in the dark. Confederate artillerymen soon turned the guns in Fort Stedman on the Federal holdouts. “We had captured nine heavy cannon, eleven mortars, nearly 1000 prisoners, including General McLaughlin, with the loss of less than half a dozen men,” Gordon said. The Louisianians captured four of the guns and three of the mortars as well as nearly the whole garrison.
            But the assault plan was beginning to fall apart for the Confederates. Special units needing to take the forts in the rear were getting lost in the maze of trenches, Federal artillery was returning fire on the Confederates and reinforcements were being rushed up to contain the rebel breakthrough. Meanwhile, Confederate reinforcements with Pickett were delayed by breakdowns on the decrepit Southern railroads. Federal Brigadier General John Hartranft, in command of the reserves, began dispatching nearby units to trouble spots. The 100th Pennsylvania was initially caught by surprise with some of the men captured, but others managed to get into Fort Haskell, and held out against Evans’ division. The 14th New York Heavy Artillery was manning the big guns in the fort. Also crowding into the fort were portions of the 29th and 59th Massachusetts, and the 208th Pennsylvania, coming up from the reserves. The Louisianians and Virginians were stopped cold by the stiff resistance there.
            The Confederates soon found themselves in a deadly trap with only two choices: run back to their own lines through a deadly hailstorm of lead; or surrender. Many tried both avenues but the heaviest Confederate casualties occurred at this point in the battle. Waggaman’s Louisianians were driven back into Fort Stedman where they continued battling savagely until they too were overwhelmed. All who could get away sprinted back to Confederate lines. Lee, watching the battle from a nearby hill, ordered a retreat at 7:30 o’clock that morning. It took until about 10 o’clock to completely disengage, and when Gordon gave the Louisianians the order to retire, or as the Louisiana French say, sauve qui peut (everyman for himself), they first spiked the captured guns.
           Confederate casualties have usually been overstated at over 4,000, but a close study of the Southern losses after the war by Frederick Phisterer found that the actual figure in all categories was 2,681. Federal casualties in all categories, both in the initial attack and the more lengthy counterattack, amounted to about 2,100. The Louisiana brigade, which had about 400 men
left at the time of the battle, lost over half that number, it is estimated.
          The 10th Louisiana lost, remarkably, only five men in the maelstrom of Fort Stedman, one killed, three wounded and one captured. The one man killed was 2nd Lieutenant Isaac Ryan, the last man killed in action of the Confederate States Rangers of the 10th Louisiana. Ironically, Ryan had been named for his uncle, Isaac Ryan, who was one of the martyrs of the Alamo massacre in 1836. The nephew had now become one of the martyrs of the “Lost Cause” of Southern Independence. Ryan, who died two days after the battle on March 27, was buried at the giant Blanford Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia among  over 30,000 Confederate soldiers buried there.  His grave is located on Memorial Hill, number 279. There is memorial marker in his family plot in the Bilbo Cemetery in Lake Charles, Louisiana honoring him at the grave of his parents.
          After the survivors of the Louisiana brigade returned to the Confederate side after retreated from Fort Stedman, Colonel Waggaman asked General Evans if the Louisianians had done their duty? Evans replied simply, “They did.” The casualties of the 10th Louisiana, and all the Confederate troops, had gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

150-years-ago -- Execution of John Y. Beall

Richmond Daily Dispatch, March 1, 1865
Execution of Captain John Y. Beall, C. S. N., as a spy in New York.
         Captain John Y. Beall, a Virginian and an officer of the Confederate States Navy, was executed on Governor's island, New York, Friday last [Feb. 24, 1865], as a spy. We find the following account of the execution in a New York paper:
          After his conviction he was taken from Fort Lafayette, where he had previously been confined, and placed in the "garrison," a prison in Fort Columbus, on Governor's island. On Wednesday, before the time first appointed for his execution, he was put into a cell and closely guarded.
         During his imprisonment he has at no time been disorderly, but has treated the officers in charge of him with uniform courtesy, and sometimes conversed freely. He did not at any time waver, but declared that he had done right, and his death would be that of a patriot.
On Saturday last, Beall's mother arrived here from Harper's Ferry, near where the family resided, and obtaining a pass from General Dix, saw the prisoner. She remained with him for a considerable time; but it is understood returned southward immediately, and did not see him afterwards.
Captain John Yates Beall
(President Lincoln and the John Y.
Beall Case, 1911)
          Three clergymen--two of the Roman Catholic Church, and one of the Episcopal (Rev. D. Weston), have visited Beall by his request; and a few other acquaintances or friends have seen him.
          It appears that Beall was a religious man; he belonged to the Episcopal Church, and was once a lay member of the Diocesan Convention of his State.--Twice on Friday he took the sacrament, administered by Dr. Weston.
         In the course of the morning, Beall expressed a desire to have a photographic picture of himself made, and his wish was complied with.
         Shortly before one o'clock Friday afternoon, Captain Tallman, who had charge of the arrangements for the execution; United States MarshalMurray, who was present by request, and the executioner, entered the cell of the condemned man.
        He promptly rose and said he was at their service. He added that he know their errand, and said he wished the work to be done quickly.
       A moment afterwards he remarked: "It is only a question of muscular power — I think I can bear it."
        His arms were then pinioned, a military cape was thrown over his shoulders, a black cap was put on his head, and the officers and the prisoner emerged from the cell and took their places between two lines of soldiers, who formed the guard to the place of execution.
        Beall marched out of the "garrison" by the side of Dr. Weston, who read the "commendatory prayer" from the Episcopal liturgy.
        The Marshal and executioner, and two friends of the prisoner, followed. Beall marched with a firm step in the direction of the gallows, which had been erected on the south side of Fort Columbus.
        As he ascended the brow of a hill, from which the gallows-frame was visible, he looked hurriedly at the instrument, and seemed to smile.
       The preparations had not been completed, and a halt on the hill was ordered. At this point he talked with his spiritual adviser. Looking upward, he remarked that the day was a pleasant one. Immediately he added: "The sun shines brightly; I now see it for the last time. " He was, however, perfectly calm and composed.
       A chair had been placed directly under the rope, and the prisoner at first sat down, the Rev. Mr. Weston standing beside him; but after sitting a moment, he rose and pushed the chair aside with his foot.
       The post adjutant read the record of the charges upon which he had been tried, the findings and sentence of the court, and the order of General Dix approving the sentence and directing the execution. Finding this to be rather a lengthy proceeding, the prisoner drew up the chair again with his foot and sat down. During the recital of the order he smiled derisively at such passages as were condemnatory of his crimes. At its conclusion, he jumped up of his own accord, and stood erect immediately under the rope. It was noticed that when Beall sat down, he studiously turned his back upon the adjutant and faced directly South, in which direction he gazed continuously, always appearing to avoid looking at any one around him.
When the adjutant had finished, Rev. Dr. Weston intend aloud the prayer for the dead, the soldiers listening with breathless anxiety, and many tears running down their cheeks.
Marshal Murray and the Provost-Marshal of the fort stepping up, asked the prisoner if he had anything to say, to which he replied:
          "I protest against the execution of the sentence. It is absolute murder — brutal murder. I die in the defence and service of my country."
          At thirteen minutes past 1 o'clock the black cap was drawn over the culprit's face, the Provost-Marshal drew his sword, a noise was heard from inside the box, and the form of John Y. Beall was dangling in the air. The only movement noticeable in the body was a convulsive movement of the right leg, a shrugging in the shoulders, and a few twitches of the hands.
After hanging just twenty minutes, the body was lowered down, when a medical examination by Dr. Cornner, United States Army, proved that the neck was broken instantly, thus ending the earthly career of Beall without any agony. It was then taken to the hospital, whence it will be given to the friends of deceased for interment.
        Beall was of medium size, had light-colored hair and mustaches, blue eyes, and his countenance wore a pleasant expression. He was a determined rebel. Though a person of much intelligence, he was almost blindly devoted to the cause of Jeff. Davis, and did not scruple to help it forward by any means in his power.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

150-years-ago -- BATTLE OF HATCHER'S RUN, Virginia

Hatcher's Run fortifications. (Library of Congress)

Battle of Hatcher’s Run
            When the men of the 10th Louisiana Infantry got to Hatcher’s Run, one mile in rear of Burgess’ Mill, they began building winter quarters. The regiment, what was left of it, took part in the agonizing drama that unfolded that winter. They shed more blood in the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, Feb. 5-7, 1865, the Battle of Fort Stedman, March 25, 1865 and the Battle of Appomattox, April 9, 1865. The Battle of Hatcher’s  Run took place when a division of Federal cavalry, under Brigadier General David Gregg  was ordered to intercept a Confederate wagon train helping the railroad to supply the Southern army. The cavalry was supported by Warren’s 5th  Corps and two divisions of the Federal 2nd Corps under the command of Major General A.A. Humphreys. Confederate forces were made up of Gordon’s 2nd  Corps and Major General William Mahone’s division of A.P. Hill’s 3rd  Corps. Mahone was absent sick, and Brigadier General Joseph Finegan of Florida was the temporary division commander. The Federals fielded 34,517 men and the Confederates, 13,835. The bluecoat cavalry pounded up and down the pike leading to Dinwiddie Court House February 5,  but managed to nab only 18 wagons and 50 prisoners. They found no heavily laden Confederate wagon train. The battle began in the afternoon when Humpreys’ division was attacked by Brigadier General Joseph R. Cooke’s North Carolina Brigade of Heth’s division, Third Corps. Evans’ division, including Peck’s Louisianians, came up in support of the North Carolinians. The fighting began at 4 o’clock that afternoon and lasted only about 90 minutes. The Confederates pushed to within about 100 yards before darkness ended the fighting that day. Evans’ men were brought up on Cooke’s left late in the battle. General Lee was watching the battle from the rear.
            On the next day, February 6, the most prolonged fighting took place in the three day battle. General Lee, seeing that the Federals were just trying to disrupt the Confederate supply line,  ordered Mahone’s and Evans’ divisions back to their original places. Pegram’s division was ordered to begin probing from Dabney’s Mill in an eastward direction to find the enemy. Although the Federals outnumbered the Confederates by more than 2-1, the heavily forested area essentially nullified that advantage, the way it had on The Wilderness battlefield. The confusing command and control situation, and poor management by Grant and Meade, also plagued the Federals as it had at The Wilderness. Warren’s and Humphreys’ commands were ordered to reconnoiter to determine if any Confederates were outside their fortifications. Warren, however, interpreted the order to mean that Humphreys was to do the probing and his 5th  Corps was to standby to support him if he ran into trouble. Humphreys pushed out in a northern

Map by M.D. Jones

direction that morning, and then found nothing threatening and returned to his works at noon. When Meade personally straightened out Warren about  the order, Brigadier General Samuel W. Crawford’s division was ordered at 1:15 o’clock that afternoon, to move out to the west to see if there were any Confederates out that way. Neither side was particularly looking for battle at that time and place, but they soon found one.
            When the two opposing forces met at about 2 o’clock the fighting started and the Federals began slowly pushing Pegram’s division back. Mahone’s (Finegan’s) and Evans’ divisions were called back to the scene of action as Pegram continued fighting the Federal infantry and cavalry alone. Evans’ division came up and fell in on Pegram’s left, with a considerable gap between the two, and counterattacked. They began slowly pushing the Federals back, but the Yankees brought up ample reinforcements and counterattacked and drove the gray jackets back. Evans’ men then were then readily reformed near the enemy lines and “advanced with spirit” into the swirling cauldron of battle again, with Pegram on the right, and the enemy was again driven back. Tragically, however, General Pegram was mortally wounded by a bullet wound to the side while cheering his men forward. Major Henry Kyd Douglas was riding near Pegram when he was hit. The major jumped off his horse and caught the general slumping from his mount, and helped the general to the ground. The 33-year-old general was dead by the time they got him off his horse. Pegram had been married to Miss Hetty Carey of Richmond just three weeks before his death. His funeral was held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where he had also been married. He was buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. 
            Mahone’s division came up and filled in the gap between Evans and Pegram. The reinforced Confederates then went forward for another push. This time the Federals fell back in confusion to their defenses on Hatcher’s Run. Crawford’s and Ayres’ infantrymen were beginning to panic, some of whom threw down their weapons and ran to the rear. Warren complained of the poor quality of the new soldiers that were filling up the ranks of his corps. He said they had to be kept under constant supervision. It was also bitterly cold and that night the rain turned to snow. It was a miserable night in which the Confederates were given only a small pone of cornbread to eat, and had to try to sleep on frozen ground under wet blankets.  General Lee, who had been present for the battle, said in his report of February 8 that the men  had been without any meat at all for three days. He also noted they had been exposed to “cold, hail and sleet.” Lee said that his chief commissary officer told him he had no meat at all, so he ordered the officer back to Richmond to find some. “The physical strength of the men, if their courage survives, must fail under this treatment,” Lee wrote. He warned Richmond of dire consequences if the condition of his soldiers was not improved.
            The third day of the battle, February 7, was confined to skirmishing with pickets. Both sides were apparently satisfied with their current positions, but Warren sent Crawford’s division back out into the tangled, frozen woods and they encountered only Confederate pickets who they pressed slowly back until 6 o’clock that evening. They also buried some of their men who had been killed on the previous days. Warren then pulled them back to their new fortifications on Hatcher’s Run. The Confederates also stretched their entrenchments a little further, which  made the thin gray line manning those trenches, even thinner. The Federals reported a total of 1,539 casualties, including 171 killed, 1,181 wounded and 187 missing or captured. Confederate losses are estimated at around 1,000. The 10th Louisiana casualties are also unknown.

Gen. Clement Evans
(Library of Congress)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

HUNLEY update

C.S.S. Hunley, first submarine to sink an enemy ship. 
(Naval History and Heritage Command)

The World’s First Successful Combat Submarine Almost Fully Visible    

Image and Raw Video Available to Press: Public Youtube Video:
     North Charleston, South Carolina – For the first time in over one hundred and fifty years, you can actually see the Hunley. Until recently, the submarine was completely covered by concretion, an encrusted layer of sand, sediment and shells that built up slowly over time. The concretion masked the original surface of the legendary vessel, hiding many of her finer features. For the past four months, Clemson University conservators have been conducting the delicate task of chiseling away this encrustation.
      Nearly 70% of the submarine’s exterior has been revealed and they hope to complete the outside of the submarine in the coming weeks. The last areas remaining are being called “forensic hot spots,” indicating areas where they think there may be evidence that could help scientists understand why the Hunley vanished after becoming the world’s first successful combat submarine.
     “Being able to see the surface in minute detail for the very first time is shedding new light on our understanding of the submarine,” said Paul Mardikian, Senior Hunley Conservator with Clemson University.
     Until now, archaeologists have been given the difficult task of studying an artifact they could not actually see. With the exterior of the submarine partially exposed, the Clemson team has already made some interesting discoveries:
     - In one area of the hull, the metal surface is stamped with the letters “C N “. The meaning on this stamp is being investigated, but it is thought to represent the foundry where the Hunley’s iron was forged.
     - We are learning more about how the weapon system worked. The Hunley’s designers were always looking for ways to improve upon the submarine and it’s method of attack. Because of this process of evolution, it has been unclear how the small Confederate Hunley was able to deliver and detonate the torpedo that brought down one of the Union’s largest and mightiest ships.
     - There are areas below the dive planes where it looks like the metal surface of the submarine had somehow been pushed in, causing it to be dented. At this point, there is no telling what could have caused these areas of deformation on the hull. One possible scenario is they were inflicted by 19th century recovery efforts. In 1863, the Hunley sank twice during test missions. Each time, divers used ropes and chains to bring her back to land for repair.
     While removing the concretion has opened up a new avenue of historical discovery, it will also allow for a conservation treatment to be applied to the fragile 19th century submarine. Conservators have been using small hand tools, drills and chisels to break away the concretion, which in some places is harder than the corroded iron it covers. They must be careful because even the smallest mistake could potentially damage one of maritime history’s most treasured artifacts.
     “Removing the concretion is an intimidating task for all involved. There is no room for error when working on a one-of-a-kind artifact like the Hunley. With our team of well-trained experts and perhaps a little luck, everything has gone according to plan,” said Nestor Gonzalez, Associate Director of Clemson University’s Warren Lasch Conservation Center.
     The Hunley is made from cast and wrought iron. Most of the concretion that has been removed up until this point has been on the wrought iron plates. The cast iron has a greater chance of having retained potentially important historical fingerprints, such as gunfire, scrapes, and other damage. However, cleaning of corroded cast iron is very challenging as it is quite soft and brittle and can be easily damaged during treatment.
     The last areas left to complete on the outside of the submarine are mainly the sections made of cast iron, specifically sections of the bow and conning towers. As these sensitive areas of “forensic hotspots” are uncovered, the team is hopeful to find evidence that will teach us more about the mysterious events surrounding the Hunley’s final voyage and disappearance.

The Hunley Project
On the evening of February 17, 1864, the H. L. Hunley became the world’s first successful combat submarine by sinking the USS Housatonic. After signaling to shore that the mission had been accomplished, the submarine and her crew of eight mysteriously vanished. Lost at sea for over a century, the Hunley was located in 1995 by Clive Cussler’s National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA). The innovative hand-cranked vessel was raised in 2000 and delivered to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, where an international team of scientists are at work to conserve the submarine for future generations and piece together clues to solve the mystery of her disappearance. The Hunley Project is conducted through a partnership with the Clemson University Restoration Institute, South Carolina Hunley Commission, Naval History and Heritage Command, and Friends of the Hunley.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stonewall Jackson - Happy Birthday!

Lt. Gen. T.J. "Stonewall" Jackson
by John Adams Elder
Statue of Stonewall Jackson at his grave
in Lexington, Va. (Library of Congress)
It was on 21 January 1824  that Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson was born in Clarksburg (or Parkersburg), West Virginia. He was orphaned at an early age and raised by an uncle, Cummins Jackson. He was admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. in 1842 and graduated 17th in a class of 59 cadets in 1846. Jackson fought with the artillery at the Siege of Vera Cruz and in the battles of Contreras, Chapultepec, and Mexico City. By the end of the war he was promoted to the brevet rank of major. Jackson left the army in 1851 and took a teaching position at the Virginia Military Academy. He was married the first time to Elinor Junkin, with whom he had one child who was stillborn. Elinor died soon after of complications. He remarried to Mary Annna Morrison, and they had two children. The first was a daughter who died at one month. The second child, Julia, was their only surviving child. Jackson entered the Confederate Army as a colonel and was promoted to brigadier general and commanded the 1st Virginia Infantry Brigade, afterward known as the "Stonewall Brigade," at the First Battle of Manassas 21 July 1861. His brigade famously stopped a Federal assault, which led to a great Confederate victory. It was there he received his immortal nickname by standing like a "Stonewall." Promotions followed to major general of a division, and then lieutenant general of the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. His other notable battles and campaigns included the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1863; the Seven Days Battles; the Battle of Cedar Mountain; the Second Battle of Manassas; the Battle of Chantilly; the Battle of Sharpsburg  and the Battle of Chancellorsville. At the last battle he led his corps on a famous flank march that shattered the Federal right and led to one of the greatest Confederate victories of the war. Jackson, however, was mortally wounded by friendly fire and died May 10, 1863. He was buried with full military honors at Lexington, Va. and mourned by the entire Confederacy. Jackson was known at a man of deep Christian faith who was instrumental in bringing many of his men to Christ. All honor to his memory.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Today, January 19, 2015, is an official state holiday in Louisiana. All honor and respect to Robert E. Lee!
Gen. Robert E. Lee
by John Adams Elder

Robert E. Lee at Stonewall Jackson's
grave in Lexington, Va.

Post war image of Lee on Traveler in Lexington, Va.

Equestrian statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, astride his horse, Traveller, in the park that surrounds the headquarters of the Dallas Park Board in Oak Lawn section of Dallas, Texas. (Library of Congress)
Lee and Jackson's Last Meeting

Lee at Jackson's grave in Lexington, Virginia

Recumbent State of Robert E. Lee, Lee Chapel,
Lexington, Va. (Library of Congress)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

150-years-ago FALL OF FORT FISHER, North Carolina

Fall of Fort Fisher, North Carolina on Jan. 15, 1865
(Library of Congress)

[National Park Service]

North Carolina artillery soldier with
North Carolina belt buckle and sword.
(Lilijenquist Family Collection
Library of Congress)
Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler was relieved of command of the Army of the James and assigned to lead an amphibious expedition against Fort Fisher, which protected Wilmington, the South’s last open seaport on the Atlantic coast. Learning that large numbers of Union troops had embarked from Hampton Roads on December 13, Lee dispatched Hoke’s Division to meet the expected attack on Fort Fisher. On December 24, the Union fleet under Rear Adm. David D. Porter arrived to begin shelling the fort. An infantry division disembarked from transports to test the fort’s defenses. The Federal assault on the fort had already begun when Hoke approached, discouraging further Union attempts. Butler called off the expedition on December 27 and returned to Fort Monroe. Estimated total casualties were 320.

After the failure of his December expedition against Fort Fisher, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler was relieved of command.  Maj. Gen. Alfred Terry was placed in command of a “Provisional Corps,” including Paine's Division of U.S. Colored Troops, and supported by a naval force of nearly 60 vessels, to renew operations against the fort. After a preliminary bombardment directed by Rear Adm. David D. Porter on January 13, Union forces landed and prepared an attack on Maj. Gen. Robert Hoke's infantry line. On the 15th, a select force moved on the fort from the rear. A valiant attack late in the afternoon, following the bloody repulse of a naval landing party carried the parapet. The Confederate garrison surrendered, opening the way for a Federal thrust against Wilmington, the South's last open seaport on the Atlantic coast. Estimated casualties were a total of 2,000.