Sunday, December 29, 2013

150-years-ago -- REVIEW OF YEAR 1863 IN GEN. LEE'S ARMY

The Richmond Daily Dispatch
Jan. 1, 1864

Gen. R.E. Lee
Army of Northern Virginia, December30, 1863.
           I may be permitted, I trust, to speak a few words in reference to the doings of this army for the past twelve months. My connection with it began when Burnside's forces appeared in front of Fredericksburg on the Stafford heights. And well do I remember how Col. Ball, of the 15th cavalry, kept the whole of that immense army at bay with one regiment of cavalry, one battalion of infantry, and one battery of artillery. Then came the first battle of Fredericksburg, with the sad scenes attendant upon the evacuation of the town by our people in mid-winter, and its sacking by a brutal and infuriate soldiery, under the eye of that ingrate of a General, Burnside.
          Of the battle of Fredericksburg I will speak briefly. The enemy felt fully assured in their vain glorious sufficiency of their ability to disperse Lee's army and march unopposed to Richmond. They crossed the Rappahannock — ah, fatal crossing to them — and essayed to carry the heights.--But Jackson was on the right, Longstreet protected the left, and Lee was in the centre. The result was as might have been readily foreseen by every man of common sense. The Federal army suffered a signal repulse. The corpses of their dead and the bodies of their mangled and groaning dying ones covered the area in front of our lines at the Stonewall and on the lower end of the battle-field near Hamilton's Crossing, whilst the good old town of Fredericksburg became for the nonce a dead hospital and a charnel house. The Federal cause, for the first time in the war, suffered a most humiliating defeat. Their hopes of conquest were crushed, and their vaunted boastings were turned into wittings over their great calamity. Many have criticised Gen. Lee very freely for not pushing the enemy on Saturday night. I was present at that battle, and I myself know full well that the engagement of Saturday was regarded on all hands as a mere prelude to the general engagement which was expected to occur on Sunday. No one in our lines had any conception of the immense injuries which the Federal cause had sustained. It has never, I think, been mentioned in print, but it is nevertheless a fact, that a council of war was held on Saturday night. Jackson urged a midnight attack, But was overruled in council by Longstreet and Gen. Lee, and I must say I think it well for our cause and for Jackson's fame that it was overruled; for unless we could have had some unerring badge or mark upon our men, all the horrors of a night attack might; and as for a day attack up in the enemy's lines, it were an impossibility, or rather it would have been certain destruction to our troops to have advanced over the plateau in front of the river, which was readily and thoroughly swept by the enemy's batteries on the Stafford heights. My conclusion is, that the best interests of the country were served by not pressing the enemy in the first Fredericksburg fight.
            Passing over Burnside's sticking in the mud at Banks's ford, and the long, dreary winter when our men stood picket on the Rappahannock, we will take glance en passast at the battle of Chancellorsville. Hooker superceded Burnside on the 27th of January, and after three months of laborious diligence found himself ready to advance on Gen. Lee's lines about the last of April. A short reference to the series of battles which then occurred may not be out of place just here. On the 28th of April, Hooker threw one corps of his army across the Rappahannock, at Bernard's, just below Fredericksburg, whilst with the rest, having broken up camp, he marched rapidly to Kelly's Ford, a point twenty-two miles above Fredericksburg, on the Rappahannock. At this point the crossed the Rappahannock, and thence marched his forces to Germanna and Elley's fords, on the Rapidan river, across which he succeeded in crossing almost unobstructed (for we had only cavalry videttes at these fords) by Thursday, the last day of April. Hooker then turned the head of his column down the river towards Fredericksburg. In front of the Chancellorsville, Anderson's division, then of Longstreet' corps, which had been guarding the United States Ford, first took up a line of battle on Thursday evening; but finding themselves confronting a very largely superior force, were compelled to fall back some four miles, to a point where the old Mine road intersects the turnpike, six miles above Fredericksburg. The character of Hooker's moves became fully unveiled to the commanding General during the day of Thursday. Accordingly, a force of observation, under command of General Early, was left guarding the line from Fredericksburg to Hamilton's Crossing, and confronting the corps which Hooker had thrown across below Fredericksburg on the preceding Tuesday. The rest of our army, with the commanding General, moved up to meet Hooker, at the head of the great bulk of the Yankee Army of the Potomac. Gen. Jackson reached Anderson's line of battle, at the intersection of the Mine and Pink made about daylight of Friday morning. He at once assumed command and ordered an advance, himself leading it and moving along. The enemy, who had come upon us during the night of Thursday, began to give back gradually during the day of Friday before the determined advance of our men. At night of Friday, May 1st, McLaws's and Auderson's divisions, of Longstreet's corps, were confronting the enemy in front of Chancellorsville, (Pickett's and Hood's divisions, of Longstreet's corps, had not then returned from Suffolk.) On Friday night, after a consultation, it was determined to attack the enemy on his right flank and endeavor to turn it. For this purpose Gen. Jackson took with him three divisions of his corps, consisting of A. P. Hill's right division, now embraced in Wilcox's division and a part of Heth's division; Trimbles'  [Raleigh Colston], old division, now commanded by Gen. Edward Johnson and D. H. Hill's old division, now as then commanded by Rodes, having received his promotion from Jackson on the field for his gallant and skillful bearing on Saturday evening, May 2d. Just after day of Saturday morning Jackson started on his frank movement, having first secured a trusty guide. He moved all day long with as much rapidity as the nature of the country through which he was passing would allow. Anderson and McLaws in front meantime carrying on heavy skirmishing with the enemy, who were busily fortifying, expecting us to assault their men in front. About five o'clock in the evening the roar of Jackson's guns announced that the flank movement was accomplished, and that Stonewall was again thundering in the enemy's rear. Jackson fell upon the enemy a rear, going upon them with their backs turned to his flanking movement. The story of the "Flying Dutchman" and the defeat of Hooker is soon told. In an hour we had driven the enemy at all points and forced them back fully two and a half miles, carrying two of their earthworks of a most formidable character. Night closed with our men masters of the field, and prepared on the coming morning to turn the flight of the preceding evening into a rout. After night fall Jackson rode out in front of his (our) lines in order to make a reconnaissance, with the view of discovering, if possible, a road leading around to United StatesFord, to the end that he might cut the enemy off from retreat by the fords. The sad catastrophe that ensued is known to the country. Jackson fell whilst returning to our lines, the enemy having attempted, in their desperation, to surprise as with a midnight attack. The next morning General J E. B. Stuart assumed command of Jackson's corps, and fought the battle to a successful termination, driving the enemy back at all points, but falling to secure the fords, as Jackson had intended, for the reason that before he took command the enemy had a sufficiency of time to render a move of this sort impossible.
          Let us return for a moment to the vicinity of Fredericksburg, and not the operations there transpiring. On Saturday evening the force of the enemy which crossed to the south bank of the river, recrossed to the north bank and took up the line of march, apparently to reinforce Hooker at Chancellorsville. At the same time a balloon ascended near the Lacey house, on the Stafford side, to observe our movements. Gen. Early seeing the Yankees abandon their lines on his front, and supposing they meet to reach Chancellorsville to aid Hooker, at once ordered his men to move, and started to join Gen. Lee. The Yankees were then enabled, by means of their balling, to discover the force with which we were defending the line at Fredericksburg. As soon as they observed our move from the heights of Stafford, with their balloon, they began to counter march, again threw down their pontoons, and reoccupied their old position about dark of Saturday evening, at the Bernard house, just below Fredericksburg. During Saturday night they also crossed opposite to the town, and, for the first time during this move, occupied it.
          The "dawn's early light" of Sunday, May 3d, found Hooker half whipped and his army considerably demoralized at Chancellorsville. Whilst at Fredericksburg, Early was lying int he trenches confronting Sedgwick's corps, and awaiting his onward move. Soon after day the enemy opened with their artillery from their positions both at Fredericksburg and at the Bernard House. This they kept up until about nine o'clock, when, having massed their troops in front of Marye's Heights, they buried their columns against the stone-wall — the first time unsuccessfully; for Barksdale, the gallant Mississippian, with his band of heroes, met the shock of battle and nobly buried it back. The enemy pause and resort to artifice. A flag of truce is exhibited, and in an evil moment the gallant Colonel (Griffin, of the 18th Miss,) received it. The enemy thus discover that instead of holding the Stonewall with a line of battle, Barksdale's men are so stretched out that they are barely guarding it with a line of skirmishers. A few moments more and another desperate onset of the enemy's forces is made. The stone wall is carried, and the "star spangled banner" waves in triumph over the enemy's much coveted achievement, and our forces retire. Meantime a bloody dream has been enacted at Chancellorsville. The result of which is that Hooker has "forced the rebels" to faith, and "he has retired. " Just as Gen, Lee was about to follow up his victory, and to press the enemy at Chancellorsville, he is informed that the enemy have carried the heights. Sending his courier to Gen. Early, he tells him to do the best he can until three o'clock, and then " I will be with you." The enemy meantime begin to press forward on the plank road, expecting to form a junction with Hooker.Delusive hope! At three o'clock Wilcox's division, having fallen back from Banks's Ford, and being sustained by the rest of Anderson's and McLaws's divisions, engage the enemy at Salem Church and drive them back fully a mile.
           Sunday night closes upon the fields of carnage, with Sedgwick confronting Anderson, McLaws, and Early, at Fredericksburg, whilst Hooker stood opposed by the three divisions of Jackson's corps at Chancellorsville. Early on Monday morning Gordon's brigade, of Early's corps, by a bold charge repossessed themselves of the heights at Fredericksburg. On Monday evening at two o'clock Gen. Lee had intended to have attacked Sedgwick; but by some fatality the attack was not made until five o'clock, and, by the failure of Gen. McLaws (it is said to swing his column around in time and seize Banks's Ford, the enemy, though most gallantly charged and well whipped, succeeded in escaping under cover of night by way of Banks's Ford back to the Stafford heights. On Tuesday General Lee returned with the three division which had been engaged at Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville. A rain storm, however , set in on Tuesday evening, and on Tuesday night Hooker succeeded in recrossing to Stafford by way of U. S.Ford. Thus ended the Chancellorsville fights, in which the "finest army on the planet" was driven back with a loss of nearly ten thousand prisoners and fifteen thousand more in killed and wounded to the enemy. The great faux pas. of these battle was the failure to capture Sedgwick's corps, resulting from our not seizing Banks's Ford. The capture of his whole corps would then have been inevitable, for we held the access to Fredericksburg guarded — Our greatest loss was Stonewall Jackson, of whole death I shall have something to say in my next, as well s a few criticisms on that battle.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


The Richmond Daily Dispatch
Dec. 28, 1863

Dalton, Ga. Dec.27.
GEN. J.E. Johnston
(CDV, M.D. Jones collection)
          Gen. Joseph E. Johnston and staff arrived here last evening. To day he issued an order assuming command of the Army of Tennessee.
Eleven Yankees captured a short distance from Tunnel Hill yesterday, by a detachment of Kelley's cavalry, were brought here to day.


Thomaston, Ga.
           I resume the pen for the purpose of the public mind of an impression in regard to the future movements of the Army of Tennessee. I allude to the belief, said to be mined very generally in Georgia, that the army was engaged in repairing the route and constructing bridges in the rear with a view to falling back upon Atlanta. Having heard that same was felt upon this subject, I called upon Gen. Hardee before leaving Dalton, and I have his authority for saying that he has not the least thought of retiring from his present position; but on the contrary, if the enemy should advance this winter, which he does not believe they will do, he will dispute every spot of ground from Tunnel Hill to Atlanta. He believes, moreover, that if the will return to duty and the people at home will continue to supply the army with the means of the Federal army will never succeed in reaching Atlanta any move then it has succeeded in reaching Richmond. It is now reported that Gen. Johnston has been assigned to the command of the army, but there is no reason to believe that he will withdraw in the direction of Atlanta of a time when there is no prospect of an advance by the enemy.
          But will Gen Grant make a forward movements this winter? To do so, he must first accumulates large stores of subsistence at or Chattanooga, and procure a fresh supply of horses and wagons to be used in conjunction with the railroad in the transportation of them. To complete these preparations will require, not days nor weeks merely, but months. An army is an immense machine, which can be moved only with much difficulty and expense. In the present instance, Grant would first have to repair the railway bridges at Bridgeport and bring up supplies, increase his terms and wagons, repair the Western and Atlanta railroad as he advanced, and bring with him cars and locomotives to do his transportation. It is known that thousands of his horses perished or were disabled at Chattanooga, and that Wheeler destroyed and captured over a thousand of his teams, and four or five times as many mules and horses, a few days after the battle of Chickamauga. It is known, too, that the Federal army encamped around Chattanooga was reduced to greater extremity for food than the Confederates have ever been, not because they did not have the supplies in the rear, but because they could not get them up. And the recent intelligence that a portion of the army have gone towards Stevenson and Nashville, is all explained, it is believed, by the suggestion that they have been of attributed along the railroad to the rear with a view of lessening the pressure upon Chattanooga, and to greater convenience to supplies. If any troops have been sent to Virginia, they are probably the two Potomac corps which Hooker took to the assistance of Rosecrans, and which he is now returning to the Rappahannock.
          For these reasons, taken in connection with the fact that the enemy has destroyed the Western and Atlantic railroad from Ringgold back to Chickamauga, and the Georgia and East Tennessee road from Cleveland for the distance of several miles towards Dalton, one may safely conclude there will be no forward movement undertaken by the Federal army this winter.
           At last advices, Sherman was at Charleston, Tenn., rebuilding the bridge over the Hiwasse, having abandoned all hope of being able to overtake Longstreet. At Chattanooga, the enemy's forces covered Missionary Ridge and Lookent Mountain, which they had fortified, whilst their videttes were thrown forward along the Chickamauga at all the fords and bridges. The cavalry force which appeared at Lafayette in Walker county, and at Blairsville in Union county, are believed to have been sent out, the one to reconnoitre and the other to procure forage. A raid of any magnitude will hardly be undertaken at this period of the year, when the roads are nearly impassable and the water courses much swollen by the frequent and heavy rains.
            The Confederates have all gone into winter quarters.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Richmond Daily Dispatch
Dec. 21, 1863
Northern troops invaded south Texas in Nov.-Dec. 1863.
(Library of Congress)
          Houston,Texas, Nov. 23, (via Summit, Dec. 19)--The following is the latest reliable intelligence received here from the West. It is taken from the Houston Telegraph, of this morning:
          The expedition under Gen. Banks is believed to be about 6,000 strong, composed of the divisions of Gen. Dana and Vandevere. They lost three steamers and four schooners, as well as a considerable amount of stores, munitions of war, and horses, while on the way, and in landing. About half the command are black troops. Davis, with his regiment, about 150 strong, and Haynes, with a Federal commission as Colonel of the 2d Texas cavalry, but with no troops, are along with the expedition. They have a large supply of arms and horse equipments, and design to enlist Mexicans on the Rio Grande, and negroes in the interior as they progress. As soon as information of Banks having landed successfully can be conveyed to Franklin, he and Ord are to enter Texas from Berwick's Bay. The forces are to meet and sweep the country with devastation, as far as they can, sparing neither Unionists nor Secessionists. From Brownsville we learn that Mayor Dye, Bigelow, Palmer, and others, who had claimed to be good citizens, have taken the oath.
Pvt. Simeon J. Crews, Co. F, 7th Tex. Cav.
(Liljenquist Family Collection, Library of
             Gen. Cohes assumed command of Brownsville after we left, and claimed to give protection to the people against lawlessness.--He accompanied the Mayor to meet Banks. After giving in their submission to the Federal conqueror, Cones crossed the river, and pronounced against Cortinaz, overthrew his Government, and held the reins of power for twenty-four hours, at the end of which time Cortinaz shot him in the Plaza.
            Saluria,Nov. 18.--The Yankees are advancing in this direction, and gained a foot hold at Aranas Pass on the night of the 16th. They landed a force, supposed to be 3,000 strong, on the lower end of Mustang Island, and marched on foot to the Pass. These troops were conveyed in five sailing vessels, (transports.) On the morning of the 17th they made an attack with their force, five steamers from the sea cooperating. The fort was defended by three small guns and about one hundred men, most of whom were State troops. The engagement lasted two hours and twenty-five minutes, when our troops surrendered, being overwhelmed with numbers. Their loss is not known. The attack began about daylight. The plan of the enemy appears to be to take such points as he can along the coast, with a view of getting a base near his proposed field of operations.--There can be no doubt that he meditates the conquest of the State.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

150-years-ago -- POW LIFE AT POINT LOOKOUT

Richmond Daily Dispatch
Dec. 17, 1862
Confederate prisoners of war.
(Library of Congress)

          We have had a conversation with Mr. Robert Craddock, late an orderly of the President, and afterwards connected with the detective force in this city, who was a short time ago captured by the Yankees on the Peninsula and taken to Point Lookout, from which place he escaped and arrived safely in this city a few days since. He gives the following particulars of prison life at Point Lookout:
          The prisoners' camp, under charge of Capt. Patterson, Provost Marshal, is surrounded by a fence most fourteen feet high, with a platform near the top, on the outside, on which the sentinels walk. The guard consists of three regiments of infantry, the 2d, 5th, and 12th New Hampshire, and a squadron of cavalry of the 2d regulars.
           The enclosure embraces about fifteen acres of ground, and the prisoners are in tents. Three thousand are in the small "A" tents, five to each tent; the rest (say about 6,000) are in Wall & Sibley tents, from 14 to 20 in a tent. The tents are laid off in camp form, 100 men to a company, and ten companies to a division. There are nine divisions.
         On one side of the enclosure are the mess houses, where 500 eat at one time, and each house feeds 1,500 men. The provisions consist of one-quarter of a pound of damaged pork or beef, and ten small crackers, (say, three-quarters of a pound,) and a pint of wash, called by the Yankees coffee. Occasionally rice or Irish potatoes are substituted for bread, and about once a fortnight half a loaf of soft bread and one spoonful of molasses. About twice a week they get what they call bean soup, in lieu of coffee. Each day a detail of five men from each company is made to go for wood, and as the guard will not let them go beyond the creek, they have to dig up stumps and roots in an open piece of new ground, without an axe, unless they steal one. With as much wood as would last comfortably for half an hour they must shiver over for four nights; and this is all the wood allowed them. Many of the prisoners have no-blankets, and nothing but the cold damp ground to sleep on.               About two weeks ago they had orders to appear in front of their quarters with knapsacks and blankets.--They were marched to the beach, and then passed in review as fast as possible (about four or five abreast) by the Provost Marshal. About one out of every five who had no blanket was told to stand aside, and was given a blanket. They presented a very woe-begone look, and were generally poorly clad and emaciated. Many have given up all hope, and will of course die.
          The hospital is laid off on two sides of a wide street, and each ward has two wall tents joined at the ends and holding fourteen beds. The kitchen or mess tent is at the end of the street. The sick are as well attended by the Confederate surgeons and nurses as the means given them will permit, but there has been weeks at a time when they had no medicine on hand of any kind. Three or four die daily in this hospital. When their cases seem hopeless they are taken to the general hospital on the Point, outside of the enclosure, and that is the last seen of them. For some time the dead were buried without coffin or box, but thrown in a hole just as they died. The small-pox hospital is situated on a creek outside of the main guard: The average number of cases are from six to eight per day, and about half of that number die. The patients must be very strong to recover with the treatment received, as they are in tents on the ground, on the bleak shore of the Potomac, and near the bay.
          The guard shoot the men without halting them. On one occasion five of them bribed the sentinel to allow them to escape, and after letting them pass he called the guard, and two of the men were shot after they surrendered. A young man, named McLeary, was shot through the head, exposing the brain, and then through the body, by a man who was called an officer. Another one of the men was shot down and kicked about after surrendering.--These men were made to walk about half a mile in that condition. This instance of brutality came under the immediate observation of Mr. Craddock, who vouches for its truth.

Friday, December 13, 2013


The Richmond Daily Dispatch
December 14, 1863
Side wheel Steamer Chesapeake out of New York, captured  off  Portland, Me.
by British subjects claiming to be Confederate raiders. (Harper's Weekly)
Capture of a New York steamer — she is Run off.
They are having a terrible excitement in New York. The ship steamer Chesapeake, Capt. Willetts, which left New York Saturday evening for Portland, Me., was captured twenty miles North of Cape Cod Monday morning, about 1 o'clock, by Confederates in disguise, who had taken passage on her. She is a splendid steamer of 460 tons burthen, and carries two guns. She is very fast, and is the same vessel that chased and captured Lt. Reed, of the Tacony, who had captured the ship revenue cutter Cushing. A telegram from St. Johns, N. B., says:
      The ship steamer Chesapeake, Capt. Willetts, from New York for Portland, Me., was taken possession of on Sunday morning last, between 1 and 2 o'clk, by sixteen rebel passengers. The second engineer of the steamer was shot dead and his body thrown overboard. The first engineer was shot in the chin, but was retained on board. The first mate was badly wounded in the groin. Eleven or twelve shots were fired at the captain.
      After being overpowered, the captain was put into irons, and the passengers were notified that they were prisoners of war to the Confederate States of America. The steamer came to off Partridge Island at about 1 o'clock this morning. The crew and passengers, except the first engineer, were put on board a boat and sent to this city. The steamer then sailed in an easterly direction, and was subsequently seen alongside another vessel. It is supposed that she took on board a supply of coal from her.
     The attack took place about twenty-one miles east of Cape Cod. Captain Willetts and the passengers per the Chesapeake are now at the Mansion House. The steamer and cargo were valued at one hundred and eighty thousand dollars. The steamer sailed from New York on Saturday at 4 o'clock P. M., and was one of the regular line plying between New York and Portland.
      The New York Herald has the following additional particulars of the capture:
From all we can learn there were only seven passengers who purchased passage tickets for Portland, Me., while a dozen or more persons, dressed shabbily, some as returned soldiers, went on board and purchased their tickets of the clerk of the boat. This not being an unfrequent method of doing business, of course would not create any suspicious either in the mind of the clerk or captain. Among the seven passengers who obtained their tickets at the office was one person who stated to the clerk that he was an old sea captain, and preferred this mode of reaching Portland on account of its being the pleasantest and cheapest. Before she started some fifteen persons were counted on her deck; but even at the office nothing was thought of it.
      She was full of freight, consisting of cotton, rags, provisions and general merchandise. She only carries about thirty tons of coal, which is enough to last her for the round trip, and had not more than three days coal at the time of her capture, so that the rebels cannot get very far with her. She carried two guns, six-pounders, one brass and the other iron, several revolvers, and some other fire-arms.
      It is not known whether there was any powder on board, but it is supposed there was not much. --Her sails are small and cannot be depended upon. There was no war risk, and the value of the vessel is over sixty thousand dollars. It is not known whether the cargo was insured. The Captain is expected to arrive here to-day, and then the full particulars will be obtained.
        The ship steam propeller Chesapeake was owned by H. B. Cromwell, of this city, and was a splendid vessel in every respect. She was built in 1853, by J. A. Westerville, was 460 tons burthen, and eleven feet draft of water, built of oak, schooner rigged, and had a direct acting engine of two hundred horse power, one cylinder of forty inches, and forty-two inch piston. She has always been a popular boat on this route.
       The Chesapeake carried a crew of about twenty persons, who were, no doubt, so scattered throughout the vessel that they did not have time to collect and retain possession of the steamer.
The Navy Department was greatly exercised over this capture. The Agawam, from Portland the Vicksburg, Grand Gulf, Sebago, and Dawn, from New York, and the Ticonderoga and Hendrick Hudson, from Boston, were all to sail on Monday in chase of the daring raiders.

The Rest of the Story

Naval History & Heritage Command

Chesapeake was the wooden steamer Totten, built in Philadelphia in 1853 and first registered there. She was rebuilt in 1857, being renamed Chesapeake 27 August and described at that time as schooner-rigged with single funnel, owned by H. B. Cromwell & Co., New York. She was involved in the Caleb Cushing (q.v.) affair in June 1863, being one of the ships that set out from Portland, Me., to recapture the revenue cutter.

She was sailing as a regular New York-Portland liner on 7 December 1863 when she became a cause celebre upon being taken over as a Confederate vessel by a group acting in the name of the Confederacy under alleged authority of a second-hand letter of marque issued 27 October to the former captain of a privateer sold as unseaworthy in Nassau some months earlier— whereas her relief captain, mastermind of this later expedition, was found to be a British subject, having acted under an assumed name and without authorization by the Confederacy. The Halifax, N.S., Court of Vice-Admiralty found, 15 February 1864, that the capture "was undoubtedly a piratical taking. But in its origin, * * * in the mode of the recapture, in short, all the concomitant circumstances, the case is very peculiar." Chesapeake was restored to her owners and served in commerce until 1881. The captors were dismissed: "This court has no prize jurisdiction, no authority to adjudicate between the United States and the Confederate States, or the citizens of either of those States. The prisoners were not surrendered to the United States under the Ashburton treaty for trial "on charges of murder and piracy."

"Colonel" John Clibbon Braine, Henry A. Parr and a dozen fellow-conspirators took over Chesapeake 20 miles NNE of Cape Cod, 7 December, having boarded her twonights before in New York as passengers. In the takeover, her second engineer was killed and her chief officer and chief engineer wounded; Captain Isaac Willett, his bona fide passengers and all but five of his crew were landed at St. John, N.B., 8 December; Capt. John Parker (actually Vernon G. Locke) joined in the Bay of Fundy and took command. They coaled at Shelburne, N.S., the 12th, shipped four men and were seeking enough fuel to make Wilmington, N.C., when USS Ella & Annie (v.William G. Hewes)captured Chesapeake, the morning of the 17th, in Sambro, a small harbor near the entrance to Halifax, N.S., with three crewmen—only one being of the boarding party.

Comdr. A. G. Clary, USS Dacotah, prevented Ella & Annie from taking the recaptured prize into Boston and accompanied her that day to Halifax, where she wasturned over to local authorities the 19th—conceding that her recovery in neutral waters of Canada had been extra-legal—and the prisoners with her.

Eight Federal ships hastily summoned to search out Chesapeake returned home the 19th; the same day Secretary of State J. P. Benjamin appointed James B.Holcombe special commissioner to represent the alleged Confederate raiders in Halifax and try to gain possession of the prize steamer. Holcombe found ultimately, "That the expedition was devised, planned, and organized in a British colony by Vernon G. Locke, a British subject, who, under the feigned name of Parker, had been placed in command of the privateer Retribution by the officer who was named as her commander at the time of the issue of the letter of marque.***Locke assumed to issue commissions in the Confederate service to British subjects on British soil, without* **authority for so doing, and without being himself in the public service of this Government. ***there is great reason to doubt whether either Braine, who was in command of the expedition, or Parr, his subordinate, is a Confederate citizen * * * Braine *** after getting possession of the vessel and proceeding to the British colonies, instead of confining himself to his professed object of obtaining fuel for navigating her to a Confederate port, sold portions of the cargo at different points on the coast, thus divesting himself of the character of an officer engaged in the legitimate warfare.***The capture of the Chesapeake, therefore,***is disclaimed.***men who, sympathizing with us in a righteous cause, erroneously believed themselves authorized to act as belligerents against the United States by virtue of Parker's possession of the letter of marque issued to the privateer Retribution" could not be accepted after the fact as Confederate volunteers. 
[Editor's note: some of the crew were later tried by British authorities and found not guilty on a technicality.]

Sunday, December 8, 2013


The Richmond Daily Dispatch
Dec. 8, 1863

The following is the opinion of the Court of Inquiry convened at Jackson, Mississippi, under special orders from the War Department, to examine and report the facts and circumstances attending the capture of New Orleans by the enemy in April, 1862, and the defence of the city by the Confederate troops under General Mansfield Love.
  1. 1. As against a land attack by any force the enemy could probably bring the interior line of fortifications, as adopted and completed by Major-General Lovell, was a sufficient defence of the city of New Orleans; but his ability to hold that line against such an attack was greatly impaired by the withdrawal from him, by superior authority, of nearly all his effective troops.
  2. 2. The exterior line, as adopted and improved by him, was well devised, and rendered as strong as the means of his command allowed.
  3. 3. Until the iron-clad gunboats Louisiana and Mississippi should be ready for service it was indispensably necessary to obstruct the navigation of the Mississippi river between Forts Jackson and St. Philip. The raft completed under Gen. Lovell's direction was adequate for the purpose while in position: but it was swept away, and left the river unimpeded, either by reason of some error in its construction, or neglect in preventing the accumulation of drift, or because of insuperable mechanical difficulties, as to which this Court feels unprepared to give an opinion. General Lovell communicated to the Government no opinion as to the insecurity of the raft, nor any apprehension that it might be swept away, nor did he immediately make known the fact when it occurred. In this it is considered that he was remiss in his duty.
  4. 4. When the raft was swept away General Lovell, with great energy, immediately endeavored to replace it, and partially succeeded; but, without fault on his part, this last obstruction was broken by the carelessness of vessels of the "river defence fleet" colliding with it, and by fire rafts drifting against it, and by the failure of the guard boats to protect it against night expeditions of the enemy.
  5. 5. The non completion of the iron-clad gunboats Louisiana and Mississippi made it impossible for the navy to co-operate efficiently with General Lovell.
  6. 6. The so-called river defence fleet was wholly useless as a means of resistance to the enemy, for which Gen. Lovell was in no wise responsible.
  7. 7. Under the existing circumstances, the passage of the forts by the enemy's fleet could not have been prevented by Gen. Lovell with any means under his control; and the forts being passed the fall of New Orleans was inevitable, and its evacuation a military necessity.
  8. 8. When the first raft was broken, and the danger of New Orleans thus became imminent, all necessary preparation should have been made for removing the public property and private property available for military uses; and when the second obstruction was swept away, the removal of such property should have been commenced immediately. The failure to take these timely steps caused the losses of property that occurred; but there was comparatively but little property lost for which Gen. Lovell was responsible.
  9. 9. The failure of Gen. Lovell to give proper orders to Brig.-Gen. M. L. Smith for the retirement of his command from Chalmette is not sufficiently explained, and is therefore regarded as a serious error.
  10. 10. The proposition of Gen. Lovell to return to New Orleans with his command was not demanded by his duty as a soldier, involving as it did the useless sacrifice of himself and his troops, though it explains itself upon the ground of sympathy for the population and a natural sensitiveness to their reproaches.
  11. 11. Gen. Lovell displayed great energy, and an untiring industry, in performing his duties. His conduct was marked by all the coolness and self-possession due to the circumstances and his position, and he evinced a high capacity for command, and the clearest foresight in many of his measures for the defence of New Orleans.
The Court respectfully report that its assembly was delayed by the failure of the President to receive his orders in due time, and that its session was protracted by the taking of testimony under the order of the War Department, as to the conduct of naval officers on duty in Department No. 1. This order was rescinded, thus rendering useless and irrelevant much of the labor of the Court. The testimony referred to, although appearing on record, was not considered by the Court in determining its findings and opinion.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


The Richmond Daily Dispatch
Dec. 7, 1863
Capt. B.P. Fuller, Co. A, 5th Texas Infantry
Hood's Texas Brigade. His brigade was
among the Confederate troops besieging
(A Soldier's Letters to Charming Nellie)
     A correspondent of the Atlanta Confederacy, writing from near Knoxville, on the 22d ult., gives the following about the investing of Knoxville:
     Longstreet's forces completely invest the city, even so that a eat could not in or out without being seen by some one. On the evening of the 20th our guns were put in position, with the intention of charging the depot and stopping the engines and cars that are there; but by some "devilish centric slight" they learned our intention, and set on fire seven large houses, as near as possible to their entrenchments and redoubts. I was two miles from the city, and could easily read letters made with a pencil. The night was very dark, and the effect of the conflagration was magnificent beyond description.
     The wind was blowing southward, and great clouds of white smoke, bedecked with glowing cinders, rising to the height of two hundred feet from each building, were massed in one and blown to the South as far as the eye could reach, whilst ever and anon the crash of rafter, roof, or joist, would send up a volume of flame that seemed to reach the very clouds themselves. With this was the noise of a hundred things — mules and trumpets braying, pigs squealing, cocks crowing, men whooping, maimers, saws, axes, picks, drums, fifes, cymbal, rattle of wagons and artillery carriages — altogether making a "fuss" as that at Babel was a mere whisper to. I watched the flames until darkness mustered them, and fastened to the confusion until all was quiet, save the occasional crack of a picket's rifle, or the sound of some, drowsy sentinel's challenge, when I "fell back" to where Col. Morrison and staff were restlessly dreaming on the sod, to woe myself as best I could in "tired nature's swart restorer."
     We have reinforcements coming, I hear, and I have no doubt we will take the place with all the troops and stores. The boys have made some pretty good huts already in the way of sutler's wagons. We have scouts from Big Creek Gap, who report 18,000 head of hogs at that place, and the of eight men drove 3,000 of them through the gap this way, and put them in a lot. We are ordered to cook up two days rations, and I suppose we are to go after these hogs. The roads are in very had condition, but the weather bids fair to be fair for some time, and I hope to see them good again.

Friday, November 29, 2013

150-years-ago THE REBEL YELL!

November 9, 1863

                The Yells of Our Army.--The soldier of the Army of Northern Virginia is essentially a yelling animal.  He has a yell peculiar to himself, by which his success in battle is denoted even at the very moment of victory.  When he is pleased, he yells as an outlet for his exuberant spirits; when he is displeased, he yells at the offending official as an opening of the safety valve restraining his pent up passions.  If he is cold, he yells in order to force his blood into more rapid circulation; if he is too warm, he yells out the heat, and thereby relieves his excited feelings.  The history of the Confederate yell requires a skillful pen to portray it, in all its peculiarities, so I will drop the subject by merely noticing the latest subject for the exercise of Confederate yelling powers.  Whenever a surgeon approaches a regiment, a by-stander would think that the annual migration of all the ducks in the universe had commenced, and that they were concentrated in that particular spot, for the air resounds with "quack, quack, quack," and the unfortunate quack, I beg his pardon, I mean surgeon, rides off, endeavoring to preserve his dignity as best he can.--Army Letter. 

    Here is how it was described in 1892 by Colonel Harvey Dew in Century Magazine:
        “In an instant every voice with one accord vigorously shouted the ‘Rebel yell,’ which was so often heard on the field of battle. ‘Woh-who-ey! who-ey! who-ey! Woh-who-ey! who-ey!’ etc. (The best illustration of this "true yell" which can be given the reader is by spelling it as above, with directions to sound the first syllable ‘who’ short and low, and the second "who" with a very high and prolonged note deflecting upon the third syllable."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood's original uniform hat, two of his swords and  his
spurs and sash were all on display at the annual seminar of Hood's Texas
Brigade Association Re-Activated Nov. 16, 2013 at Sam Houston Memorial
Museum Complex in Huntsville, Texas. The artifacts are from the Applewhite-
Clark Collection. (Photo by M.D. Jones)

          HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Descendants of veterans of Hood's Texas Brigade Association Re-Activated heard topnotch historians give riveting talks on the famed Confederate unit Nov. 16, 2013 at the group's annual seminar in the Sam Houston Memorial Museum Complex.
       Martha Ann Hartzog, president, welcomed the gathering and noted the organization is made up of both descendants of the men of the brigade, and of associate members interested perpetuating their deeds of valor and memory. The original brigade included the 1st, 4th and 5th Texas volunteer infantry regiments, 3rd Arkansas Infantry, 18th Georgia Infantry, Hampton's South Carolina Legions infantry companies and Company D, 1st North Carolina Artillery Regiment (Rowan Artillery).
 A reception was held the previous evening for the members and seminar speakers. Rick Eiserman, the group's historian, gave a presentation on "Will the Real Pvt. Joe Joskins, 5th TX, Please Step Forward." Eiserman said that Joe Joskins was a pen name for Pvt. Robert Campbell, Company A, 5th Texas, who wrote his memoir at Huntsville while recovering from a war wound. The real identity author  of the unpublished, but widely quoted, memoir has been a historical mystery.
      Also at the reception, Dr. Susannah Ural of the University of Southern Mississippi, who was also one of the seminar speakers, signed copies of her new book, Don't Hurry Me Down to Hades.
      Other seminar speakers included Dr. Keith S. Bohannon of Pennsylvania State University; Dr. Charles D. Grear of Prairie View A&M University; and Phillip M. Sozansky, a history teacher at Cedar Park Middle School, Round Rock, Texas.
      Dr. Grear gave his talk on "Sam Houston & the Fate of Texas." He reviewed Houston's colorful life from an unsuccessful governor of Tennessee, as an adopted member of the Cherokee Nation, a Texas revolutionary, president of the Republic of Texas and U.S. Senator and Governor of the States of Texas. Grear noted that Houston was adamantly opposed to secession and when he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, was removed from office. When the war started, Grear said Houston came around to reluctantly supporting his state's war effort. His son, Sam Houston Jr., was a member of the 2nd Texas Infantry and severely wounded at the Battle of Shiloh. The senior Houston died at his home in Huntsville July 23, 1863 at age 70.
      The next speaker, Dr. Ural, gave her presentation on "To See the Boys from Texas" during which she showed slides of soldiers of the regiment and read from their letters, diaries and memoirs. She noted that after rough fighting and heavy casualties in 1863, including Gettysburg and Chickamauga, and the court martial of their commander, Brig. Gen. J.B. Robertson, the morale of the Texans was low. However they recovered when they returned to General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in the Spring of 1864. She said the Texans had a strong sense of Confederate nationalism that they maintained throughout the war.
      Sozansky gave his talk on "Hood's Texans: Frontier Warriors." He said the Texans were able to keep their combat effectiveness through four years of war and heavy casualties because of their background of living a rugged frontier life, their leaders who had much combat experience in the War for Texas Independence, fighting hostile Indians, and in the Mexican War. 
      Dr. Bohannon gave a history of "Hood's Texas Brigade & Chickamauga." The Texans and Arkansans were deeply involved in the fighting on both September 19 and 20 at the Battle of Chickamauga. He noted they suffered heavy casualties on both days. He said on the second day of the battle, the Texas Brigade participated in Longstreet's famous routing of the Federal Army, but was ambushed by the enemy and had to retreat to a woodline. Bohannon said that was when General Hood suffered his severe leg wound that resulted in amputation. 
       For more information about Hood's Texas Brigade Association Re-Activated, click here for here for their web site.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


The Battle of Bayou Bourbeau (Grand Coteau), Louisiana, Nov. 3, 1863
(Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper)

The Battle of Bayou Bourbeau

November 3, 1863
near Opelousas, Louisiana

(Excerpted from The Campaigns of Walker’s Texas Division by J.P. Blessington, 1875)

On the evening of the 2d November, Colonel Roberts re-
ceived orders from General Green to report with his brigade
at his headquarters, near Opelousas, on the following morning.
After a tiresome and laborious tramp, they marched through
the town of Opelousas to the tune of " Dixie," as daylight was
dawning, on the morning of the 3d. They halted near Gen-
eral Green's headquarters to cook breakfast. After breakfast,
a general advance of the cavalry and infantry forces was or-
dered by General Green. On arriving within three miles of
the enemy's camp they halted to rest. While the troops were
Brig. Gen. Tom Green
resting, General Green held a consultation with his field-
officers, after informing them that General Dick Taylor had
ordered him to attack the enemy's rearguard, then encamped
on the west bank of Bayou Bourbeaux (Boggy Creek), eight
miles south of Opelousas. Close by the enemy's camp was a
skirt of timber, about six hundred yards wide, running
through the prairie. A large body of the enemy, consisting
of part of the 13th Army Corps, under command of General
Burbridge, were encamped : their forces consisted of about
five or six thousand veteran troops of the Northwest. They
were the rearguard of Franklin's army, who were encamped
four miles further south, on Carrion-Crow Bayou. The road
from Opelousas to the enemy's camp led southward, along the
western side of the skirt of timber, for a mile or more, and
then turned abruptly eastward through the skirt of timber
and across the bayou, where there were several bridges, and
then on southward, through the prairie, to Carrion-Crow Bayou.
The Federal rearguard camps were situated about two or
three hundred yards south from the point where the road
turned eastward to cross the bayou.

The plan of the battle adopted by General Green and his
officers was as follows : Colonel O. M. Roberts, with his in-
fantry brigade, was to move southward upon the enemy,
under shelter of the timber, between the bayou and the road,
driving back the pickets and outposts. The brigade of Par-
tisan Rangers, under command of Colonel Majors, were to
exhibit themselves in line of battle on the prairie eastward, in
sight of the enemy, so as to attract their attention in that
direction. Colonel Bagby's brigade of cavalry, accompanied
by the Valverde Battery (I believe) and General Green, was
 to advance from the northwest, towards the enemy's camp ;
dismount, give the signal, by filing cannon, for the fight to
commence, and, as soon as practicable, form a line on the
right of the infantry. Colonel Majors' rangers were to
advance upon the enemy, so as to fall in on the right of
Bagby's brigade, and to act in conjunction with or in support
of the dismounted cavalry and infantry, in what was intended
to be an almost simultaneous concentration and dash of all
of Green's forces upon the enemy's camp. The plan was
then and there formed impromptu by General Green, who,
when asked by one of his field-officers, "How many of the
enemy do we attack to-day?" replied, "I do not know the
number, but I do know that there are not too many for us to
attack." (We had no reserve force.) The officers having been
informed of their respective duties, and having made the
arrangements and preparations for a battle which was then
certain to come off, each brigade moved off to assume the
position and perform the part assigned to it. The infantry
brigade was formed in line of battle, in the following manner :
The 15th T. V Infantry, commanded by Colonel James H.
Harrison, took their position on the right of the brigade ;
the 18th T. V Infantry, commanded by Colonel King, was
assigned the center, and the 11th T. Y Infantry, commanded
by Lieutenant-Colonel James H. Jones, took their position
Col. O.M. Roberts led his
Infantry Brigade into the
Battle. (Texas Preservation
on the left of the brigade. Very soon our infantry skirmish-
ers came upon our cavalry pickets, who were amusing them-
selves, as it were, in shooting down a wide lane, one and a
half miles long, at the enemy's pickets, who were filing back
in return. The infantry skirmishers continued to advance,
followed by the brigade. Majors' cavalry had already gone on
towards their position, and here Bagby's cavalry turned off
obliquely to the right. General Green and staff followed
after. General Green, beholding his cavalry pickets wasting
their ammunition without any effect, at once ordered Colonel
Roberts to clear the lane. That heroic and indefatiga-
ble officer, who was on his way home to recover his
broken health, hearing that his regiment was ordered to the
front, hurriedly returned to lead his gallant men to victory.
Though very pale and feeble, his dark eye was lit up by mar-
tial music; his frail form appeared full of vigor and vitality.
Imagine the old veteran colonel of Walker's Division at the
head of his column, with his sword drawn, gallantly leading
his men to victory ! Soon the lane was cleared of the enemy,
driving them before him. After getting through the lane, he
formed his men in line of battle, in the edge of the timber,
and moved steadily forward, driving the enemy's outposts into
their camp. Seeing some trees cut down near the camp, he
anticipated that probably the enemy might have some
masked batteries behind the trees; he halted his brigade a
few moments, until he could learn the facts. Hearing from
his sharpshooters, who were some distance in advance of his
brigade, that no artillery was placed behind the trees, he
ordered his brigade to advance in the direction of the enemy's
camp. Nearing the enemy's camp, he beheld them in line of
battle, ready to give the Texans a warm reception on their
arrival. Nearer his brigade advances, showing a bold and
solid front to the enemy. His sharpshooters fire, and stop
to reload again; then moving forward, nearing their camp,
they meet with a large body of the enemy. Upon which
they fall back gradually, and rejoin their command. Soon
the war-worn old veteran gave the command, in his
sonorous voice, ''Charge them, boys!" which was quickly
done, notwithstanding the enemy was formed in a ravine, an-
ticipating a charge from the Texans. They placed their ar-
tillery so as to bear on our troops, from the edge of their
camp. Fortunately, their shots passed over our men, doing
no harm. In the meantime a large body of the enemy's cav-
alry had been forming to charge our infantry in their rear, by
forcing the passage of the bridges, in opposition to a force
under Major Carroway, of the 11th T. V Infantry, who had
been sent there by Colonel Roberts, aided by a cavalry com-
pany, under Captain Jack Waterhouse. Now the battle raged
in all its fury. All of the field-officers, except Colonel Rob-
erts dismounted and led their commands with undaunted
firmness. The voices of the brave officers, encouraging
their men, could be heard, loud and distinct, amidst the crash
and roar of a continued fire of small arms and artillery. Men
fell thick and fast on both sides. Here it was that the gal-
lant Captain Stillwell, of the 11th T. V Infantry, fell mortally
wounded, and Captain Richard Coke, the "nonpareil" officer
of the 15th T. Y Infantry, while in the act of leading his
men, was seriously wounded. The dashing Captain Christian,
Adjutant of the 11th T. V Infantry, was also seriously wounded;
and the old veteran commander, Colonel Roberts, had his horse
shot while cheering on his troops. The same misfortune
happened to two of his acting aid-de-camps. Captain J. E.
Hart, of General Green's Staff, and Major Carroway, who had
just arrived from the bridge they were ordered to defend, in-
formed Colonel Roberts, personally, that unless they got rein-
forcements immediately it would be doubtful whether they
would be able to hold the bridge longer than fifteen minutes,
as the enemy's cavalry was preparing to carry it by storm.
Colonel Roberts informed them that, under the circumstances,
he could not withdraw any of his forces then engaged with
the enemy, to aid or assist them; he would communicate
the facts to General Green as soon as possible; in the mean-
time giving them to understand that the bridge must be held
by them at all hazards, and that he was then fighting the
enemy under great disadvantage. Colonel Roberts expected
that all of General Green's troops would attack the enemy
about the same time. From some cause the cavalry did not
arrive until about fifteen minutes after the infantry was
engaged. Those two heroic officers returned to their com-
mand, determined to hold the bridge at any sacrifice. It was
certain that unless Colonel Roberts should be reinforced, his
brigade would be lost ; but, as the column of cavalry dashed
madly forward, led by the heroic Majors and Bagby, and
came in range of the enemy, their guns vomited among them
a storm of bullets. The infantry firing ceases a few minutes.
The command is given : " Fix bayonets ! forward ! double-
quick ! " when the whole line, in perfect order, as if on parade,
responded by a simultaneous shout, and rushed upon the enemy,
driving them "pell-mell" over their camp-ground. "With their
lines broken, and they fleeing in disorder, the cavalry sweeps
down upon their flanks, giving time for the infantry to breathe
a few moments. But the ever-keen eye of the infantry brig-
ade beheld part of the enemy's cavalry still in his rear, and
still held in check by Major Carroway and Captain Hart. He
gave the command, " Right-about face ; forward march !" Few
of the officers or men anticipating any further danger from
the enemy, they kept talking at the top of their voices, as they
advanced over the ground they had previously charged over.
Soon they came upon the enemy's cavalry, who were killed or
taken prisoners in a few minutes' time. So sanguine were
the enemy of success that they formed a line covering the
entire length of our rear, and were busily engaged in running
off stragglers and wounded men that had fallen out of our
lines, and were quietly awaiting our defeat, to capture our
forces in their retreat. Just at that point of time General
Green appeared on the field, much surprised in seeing the
position of our infantry, until it was explained to him why
the infantry brigade was turned in that direction. Our artil-
lery did good service across the bayou, in firing upon the
scattered troops of the enemy, as they were retreating south-
ward across the prairie. All this time, however, the arms of
Col. James Patrick Major
Majors' and Bagby's brigades were resounding in the dis-
tance, as they pursued the retreating foe. Some of the ene-
my's artillery that escaped returned the fire, and an artillery
duel ensued, which effected but little on either side, and
ceased in an hour, when our forces were ordered back to
camp, near Opelousas. The enemy came out in force, and
their cavalry followed our forces several miles towards our

This battle, from the first to the last firing, lasted fully
three hours. It is impossible, in a short sketch of this kind,
to do justice to the gallant conduct of the officers and men.
It would afford the writer great pleasure to do so. Our forces
lost, in the infantry brigade, twenty-one killed; wounded,
eighty-two; taken prisoners, thirty eight. Our cavalry and
artillery lost in killed, three ; wounded, twenty. We cap-
tured about six hundred prisoners, and killed and wounded
about two hundred. Most of the prisoners were captured by
the cavalry, and, doubtless, many feats of bravery were per-
formed by them on that occasion, which would deserve a com-
mendable notice if they could be detailed.