Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Today in History (general history)/ On This Day in Confederate History/ Confederate General Birthdays, May 18.

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On This Day In Confederate History, May 18.

1861: The Battle of Sewell's Point, Virginia occurs when the Federal gunboat USS Monticello, with the support of the USS Thomas Freeborn, exchange fire beginning on this day and continuing to the 21st. The Confederates have three 32-pounders manned by Captain Peyton H. Colquitt and the Columbus Light Guard of Georgia. They fought under a Georgia state flag since they had no Confederate flag yet. The artillery duel did little damage to either side. This engagement coincided with the blockage of the Rappahannock River.

1863: The Siege of Vicksburg, Miss. officially begins with the arrival of Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant before the city with his Army of the Tennessee. Grant started the siege with 32,000 men, but that number will increase to 77,000 over the course of the siege. Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton has only 18,500 men at the beginning, but he manages to rally and reorganize his demoralized men from the Battle of Champion's Hill, and increases his numbers to 33,000. His fortifications are among the most formidable of the war. Pemberton has four divisions under Maj. Gens. Carter L. Stevenson, John H. Forney, Martin L. Smith, and John S. Bowen. Grant has six corps under Maj. Gens. John Parke, John A. McClernand, William T. Sherman, Cadwallader C. Washburn, and James B. McPherson.

1864: The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Va. reaches its zenith in bloodshed with Lt. Gen. U.S. Grant launching two Federal army corps against Gen. Robert E. Lee's now strengthened breastworks on the Confederate left flank, and the Federals suffer another devastating repulse.

The Battle of Yellow Bayou, La. is the last battle in the long drawn out Red River Campaign, which ends with another Confederate victory, although a pyrrhic one. Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor reported, "We drove the enemy handsomely on our right, killing all the horses and most of the gunners of a battery, and forcing the enemy to abandon it. On the left, near the De Glaize, we were severely repulsed and were forced to arrest the progress of our right. General Polignac restored order in his left brigade after a time, McMahan's battery preventing the enemy from following up his success in this part of the field. We held the field, on which the enemy, who fell back at once, left 30 dead. Our loss will reach 500, of which 30 were killed, 50 severely wounded, and some hundred prisoners taken from the left brigade. The remaining wounds are of a trifling character. Among the killed, I regret to include Colonel [Robert] Stone, of Polignac's old brigade, a gallant and promising officer." Taylor also noted his army had been constantly fighting for 70 days. The Consolidated 18th Louisiana Infantry of Mouton's Louisiana Brigade on the Confederate is commended by Maj. Gen. John Wharton for having signally routed the enemy on the Confederate right. Total Federal casualties are given as 360. Overall in the entire campaign, both in Louisiana and Arkansas, are 8,162 for the Federals, and 6,575 for the Confederates. The Confederates also have a net gain of 17 to 26 artillery pieces and 600 wagons. Texas and western Louisiana families remain safe, unoccupied and with no other major invasions during the rest of the war.

Cpl. Paul Thibodaux, Co. G. 18th La. Inf.
Served in all four years of the war.

Confederate General Birthdays, May 18.


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Today in History (general history)/ On This Day in Confederate History/ Confederate General Birthdays, May 17.

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On This Day in Confederate History, May 17.

1864: The Battle of Adairsville, Ga. (aka the Battle of Cassville) took place when General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee makes another stand against Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's combined Federal armies in the Atlanta Campaign. The fighting was between Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee's Corps and that of the Federal corps of Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard. Confederate Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham's Division suffered heavy casualties in the attacks and Johnston decides the ground is not suitable for defense and again retreats that night. 

Gen. John Bell Hood commanded
a corps in the Atlanta Campaign
before taking command of the army.

In the Red River Campaign in Louisiana in 1864, Confederate Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor's Army of Western Louisiana continues driving back the numerically superior Army of the Gulf under Maj. Gen. N.P. Banks. There is skirmishing near Moreauville and at Yellow Bayou, which will spark the last major battle of the campaign the following day. 

Battle Flag of the 6th Bn. Texas Cav. (Dismounted)
The battalion served in Walker's Texas Infantry Division
in the Red River Campaign.
(Texas State Library & Archives)

Confederate General Birthdays.


Monday, May 16, 2022

Today in History (general history)/ On This Day in Confederate History/ Confederate General Birthdays, May 16.

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On This Day in Confederate History, May 16.

1862: Maj. Gen. Benjamin "Beast" Butler issues his infamous "Woman Order" in response to the women of occupied New Orleans insulting Federal occupation troops. His General Order No.28 states, "As the Officers and Soldiers of the United States have been subjected to Repeated Insults from the Women, calling themselves 'Ladies,' of New Orleans, in return for the most scrupulous Non-Interference and Courtesy on our part, it is ordered that hereafter when any female shall by word, gesture, or movement, insult or show contempt for any Officer or Private of the United States she shall be regarded and held liable to be Treated as A Woman of the Town plying her vocation. By command of Maj.-Gen. Butler."

1863: The Battle of Champion's Hill takes place 20 miles east of Vicksburg, Miss. when Lt. Gen.  John C. Pemberton's 22,000 Confederates clash with Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant's 32,000 Federals. Both sides attacked and counterattacked throughout the day, but when Maj. Gen. William W. Loring at first refused to send reinforcements ordered by Pemberton but decided to obey when it was too late to stop Grant's counterattack, the Confederates then had to fall back to a prepared position along the Big Black River in a disorganized condition. The Federals reported 2,457 total causalities, and the Confederates 3,840.

1864: At the Battle of Drewry's Bluff, Va. in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign of 1864, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard's 18,025 Confederates successfully counterattack Maj. Gen. Benjamin "Beast" Butler's 15,800 Federals and bottle them up on the Bermuda Hundred peninsula. Confederate casualties were 2,506 to about a quarter of Butler's men were casualties.

In the Red River Campaign in Louisiana, the Battle of Mansura takes place when Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor's Army of Western Louisiana tries to block the retreat of Maj Gen. Nathaniel Banks' Army of the Gulf. Taylor reported, "At early dawn this morning skirmishing began along our line, of which Mansura was the center, Bagby and Major, with nineteen pieces of artillery, holding the right, and Polignac, re-enforced by two regiments of cavalry under Debray, the left, with thirteen pieces of artillery, including two 30-pounder Parrotts. The broad, open prairie, smooth as a billiard table, afforded an admirable field for artillery practice, and most of our guns were 3-inch rifles and 10-pounder Parrotts captured from the enemy. About 6 a.m. the action became general, the enemy bringing up masses of infantry with several batteries. Several attempts to turn our right were signally repulsed, as were the efforts to advance on our center. At 10 a.m. long lines of infantry commenced demonstrations on our left, the pivot of the position, our trains being behind that flank near Evergreen. This rendered the position dangerous, as the enemy had probably 16,000 men on the field, and perhaps more. Our men withdrew with the steadiness of veterans on parade, and the road to Simsport [Simmesport] was left open to the foe." The Confederates continued to harass Banks' retreat.

Confederate General Birthdays, May 16.

General Edmund Kirby Smith was born on this day in 1824 in St. Augustine, Florida. He graduated from West Point, graduating 25th out of 41 cadets. During the Mexican-American War, he fought in the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, Cero Gordo, Contreras, and Churubusco, and was promoted to captain. In 1859, Smith was wounded in the Battle of Crooked Creek, Kansas with the Comanche. He resigned from the U.S. Army on April 6, 1861. During the War for Southern Independence, he joined the Confederate Army and rose from major to full general and commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department. His battles and campaigns included the First Battle of Manassas, Va. (wounded), Richmond, Ky., the Red River Campaign, and the Camden Expedition. He surrendered the Trans-Mississippi Department on June 2, 1865. Following the war, he worked in the telegraph business, was chancellor of the University of Nashville, a professor at the University of the South, and was the last surviving full Confederate general. General Smith died on March 28, 1893, at Sewanee, Tenn., and was buried there in the University Cemetery.

Gen. E. Kirby Smith

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Today in History (general history)/ On This Day in Confederate History/ Confederate General Birthdays, May 15.

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On This Day in Confederate History, May 15.

1862: At the Battle of Drewry's Bluff, Va., Confederate heavy artillery at Fort Darling exchanges fire with the U.S. Navy ironclads Monitor and Galena, the screw gunship Aroostook, side-wheeler Port Royal, and the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service's ironclad Naugatuck. The artillery duel lasted three hours and the Monitor and Galena were damaged and the Naugatuck had little damage. The two wooden gunboats were out of range but the captain of the Port Royal was wounded by a Confederate sharpshooter. Total Federal casualties were 27 killed and wounded to the Confederates' 15 casualties. The fort sustained some damage. The Yankee fleet withdrew.

1863: Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton concentrates 22,000 men at Edward's Station between Jackson and Vicksburg, Mississippi, and leaves 10,000 troops to garrison Vicksburg. His goal is the cut Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant's supply line. But Grant is approaching 32,000 Federals. A lack of cavalry continued to hamper Pemberton's ability to monitor and disrupt the Yankee movements and supplies.

1864: The Battle of New Market erupts when Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge's 4,087 Confederates clash with Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel's 6,275 Federals. This meeting engagement started in the morning and got more intense throughout the day as more troops arrive. The Confederate attacks push the Federals back until Sigel finally retreats behind the Shenandoah River, giving the Confederates the victory. The VMI Cadets engaged in the battle by capturing an enemy artillery piece. Casualties in the battle total 841 for the Federals and 531 for the Confederates.

In the Atlanta Campaign, the Battle of Resaca, Georgia continued into its second day ending in a stalemate. Cpl. Sam Watkins wrote of a point in the battle where General William Joseph Hardee exposed himself recklessly to enemy fire. He wrote, "General Hardee passes along the line. 'Steady, boys!' . . . 'Go back, general, go back, go back,' is cried all along the line. He passes through the missiles of death unscathed; stood all through that storm of bullets indifferent to their proximity (we were lying down, you know). The enemy is checked; yonder they fly, whipped and driven from the field." But when Gen. Joseph Johnston learned that he had again been outflanked by the Federals, he again ordered a retreat.

Col. Francis Lee Campbell
13th La. Inf. Gibson's Brigade
at the Battle of Resaca.
(Library of Congress)

In the Red River Campaign, Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor reported sharp fighting as the Confederates continue to harass the retreat of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks' Army of the Gulf, even though the Federals outnumber the Confederates 18,000 to 6,000. Taylor said of the day's fighting, "Steele's division pressed the enemy's rear and flank on the river road below Alexandria, while Bagby's division, afterward re-enforced by Major, beat back several times the head of his column as it attempted to debouch on the Marksville Prairie from the Choctaw Swamp." The heavy loss inflicted on the enemy by Bagby was the result of his skillfully masking his artillery and using it at short range. "Late in the evening, the enemy turned the position by bringing up his masses, and we fell back to Mansura, Marksville being occupied by him during the night," Taylor said.

Col., later Gen., Henry Gray
led Mouton's Brigade in the
Red River Campaign.
(Library of Congress)

Confederate General Birthdays, May 15.

Maj. Gen. Isaac Trimble was born on this day in 1802 at Culpepper, Virginia. He graduated from West Point in 1822 ranking 17th in a class of 42 cadets. He left the U.S. Army and went to work as a railroad construction engineer. In April 1861, he led the Maryland State Militia in burning bridges around Baltimore to prevent Federal troops from passing through to Washington. Trimble returned to Virginia and was commissioned a colonel of engineers, then promoted to brigadier general and later to major general. His campaigns included the Valley Campaign under Stonewall Jackson, the Seven Days Battles, the Second Battle of Manassas (wounded), and the Battle of Gettysburg where he was wounded, leg amputated and taken prisoner. He spent the rest of the war as a P.O.W. at Johnson's Island, Oh. and Fort Warren, Mass. Following the war, returned to work as a railroad construction engineer. He died on Jan. 2, 1888, and was buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Md.

Maj. Gen. Isaac Trimble

Brig. Gen. Laurence Simmons Baker was born on this day in 1830 in Gates County, North Carolina. He graduated from West Point in 1851 ranking the last in his class of 42 cadets. Baker served on the frontier until he resigned in May 1861. He returned to North Carolina where he became lieutenant colonel of the 1st N.C. Cav. and was promoted to brigadier general on July 23, 1863. His battles and campaigns included the Peninsula Campaign, the Seven Days Battles,  Sharpsburg, Brandy Station (wounded), Gettysburg, and Bentonville, N.C. at the end of the war. Following the war, he resided in Norfolk, Va., and worked as a farmer, insurance agent, and railroad agent. Baker died April 10, 1907, in Suffolk, Va., and was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery there.

Brig. Gen. Laurence S. Baker

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Today in History (general history)/ On This Day in Confederate History/ Confederate General History, May 14.

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On This Day in Confederate History, May 14.

1864: Heavy fighting erupts in Georgia at the Battle of Resaca in the Atlanta Campaign. Gen. Joseph Johnston and 60,000 men on the hills around Resaca fight Maj. Gen. William Sherman's approximate 100,000. The Yankees attack along the whole line and are repulsed. Cpl. Sam Watkins of Co. H, 1st Tenn. Inf. writes of the battle, "The Yankees have opened the attack; we are going to have a battle; we are ordered to strip for the fight. (That is, to take off our knapsacks and blankets, and to detail Bev. White to guard them.). Keep closed up men. The skirmish line is firing like popping fire-crackers on a Christmas morning. . .The air is full of deadly missiles. We can see the two lines meet, and hear the deadly crash of battle; can see the blaze of smoke and fire. The earth trembles."  The battle continues into the next day.

Cpl. Sam Watkins, Co. H. 1st. Tenn. Inf.

In the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, 4,087 Confederates under Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge moves to block 6,275 Federals under Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel who has been ordered to clear the valley of Confederates and threaten Gen. R.E. Lee's flank at Spotsylvania Court House. The 18th Virginia Cavalry under Col, John Imboden slows Sigel down in a delaying action at Rude's Hill. Movements will result in the Battle of New Market the next day.

Confederate General Birthdays, May 14.

Brig. Gen. George Pierce Doles was born on this day in 1830 at Milledgeville, Georgia. Prior to the war, he was a successful businessman and active in the Georgia militia as captain of the Baldwin Blues. In the War for Southern Independence, Doles was colonel of the 4th Georgia Infantry Regiment and was promoted to brigadier general on Nov. 1, 1862. His battles and campaigns included the Peninsula Campaign, Malvern Hill (wounded), Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Bristoe and Mine Run Campaigns, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor, where he was killed in action on June 2, 1864, and was buried in Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville, Ga.

Brig. Gen. George P. Dole

Brig. Gen. James Patrick Major was born on this day in 1836 in Fayette, Missouri. He graduated from West Point in 1856 ranking 23rd in his class. During his prewar service, Major participated in the Battle of Wichita Village in 1858 in a fight with the Comanche tribe. He resigned from the U.S. Army on March 21, 1861, and was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the Missouri State Gaurd and participated in the Battle of Oak Hill, Mo. During the Siege of Vicksburg, he was in command of the artillery of Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn. Major was promoted to brigadier general and led a cavalry division in the Red River Campaign, including the battles of Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, and Monett's Ferry. Following the war, he moved to France and lived in Louisiana and Texas where he died on May 8, 1877. He was buried in the Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church Cemetery.

Brig. Gen. James P. Major

Friday, May 13, 2022

Today in History (general history)/ On This Day in Confederate History/ Confederate General Birthdays, May 13.

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On This Day in Confederate History, May 13.

1861: The government of Great Britain issued a Declaration of Neutrality in the War For Southern Independence. The British and the French recognized the Confederates as lawful belligerents which gave the Confederacy certain rights and international and admiralty laws of the time.

1864: The Federal Flotilla gets over the Falls of the Red River at Alexandria, La. and the Army of the Gulf evacuates the town and on the way, out vindictively burns most of Alexandria. The Confederates harass the retreating Yankees with Hardeman's Texas Brigade skirmishing with the advance column and Steele's Texas Brigade harassing the enemy rearguard flanks. The U.S.S. Choctaw bombards Confederate pickets on the shore of the river and kills one man from Polignac's Texas and Louisiana Infantry Division. Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor reports that the fighting was heavy along the shoreline for two hours but outnumbered by 4 to 1 in manpower, this is about all he can do until the Federal juggernaut reaches the Mississippi River. He adds that if Polignac's division can be reinforced by Brig. Gen. Allen Thomas' Infantry Brigade of paroled Vicksburg veterans, he believes they can take the LaFourche Bayou district west of New Orleans and keep Banks bottled up in New Orleans. But there is more fighting and battles to come before the end of the Red River Campaign.

A Confederate cavalryman

1865: The second day of the Battle of Palmito Ranch, Texas takes place and ends in a Confederate victory in the final battle of the war. Federal commander Colonel Theodore Barrett again advances on the Confederates under Colonel John S. "Rip" Ford along the Rio Grande River, which is the border with Mexico. Ford attacks the Federal right flank with two companies and Capt. O.G. Jones' 3rd Texas  Artillery, one piece of which was reportedly manned by French troops from across the border. The rest of the gray jackets attacked the front of the Yankee line. The bluecoats and driven back in a retreat that lasted into the next day. Federal casualties total two killed, six wounded, and 102 captured. The Confederate casualties in the battle were five or six wounded and three captured. However, a later report noted that Pvt. Ferdinand Gerring (Gearing, Gering, Garing) of Carter's battalion died of his wounds. Pvt. John J. Williams of the 34th Indiana is reported to be the last man killed in battle in the entire war. Pvt. Gerring may have been the last Confederate killed in battle in the war. With the surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Department on June 2, 1865, Ford and many other Confederates move to Mexico.\

Officers of Col. Santos Benavides 33rd Tex. Cav. at the Battle of Palmito Ranch, Refugio Benavides, Atancio Vidaurri, Cristobal Benavides, and John Z. Leydendecker.

Confederate General Birthdays, May 13. 


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Today in History (general history)/ On This Day in Confederate History/ Confederate General Birthdays, May 12.

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On This Day in Confederate History, May 12.

1863: The Battle of Raymond, Mississippi between Confederate Brig. Gen. John Gregg's 3,000-man infantry brigade, and Federal Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson's 12,000 men in the XVII Corps collide in the Vicksburg Campaign. Gregg has been dispatched to Raymond to help stop Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant's Army of the Tennessee, but doesn't know the real strength of the enemy because of a lack of cavalry. He finds he is greatly outnumbered, but rather than retreat and risk destruction, he decides to bluff the enemy and charge. At first, he has great success in heavily wooded terrain where the enemy can't determine his strength, but the outnumbered Confederates are eventually pushed back. But Gregg manages to get the bulk of his brigade away and substantially intact. The Confederates suffered about 515 casualties and the Federals about 446.

Brig. Gen. John Gregg

In Vicksburg, Lt. Gen. John Pemberton is getting his army ready to resist Grant but is greatly hampered by a lack of cavalry to monitor Grant's strength and movements and cut Grant's supply line at Grand Gulf. He has repeatedly asked General Joseph Johnston in Jackson, Miss. to release Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn's 6,000-man cavalry force to him but Johnston, misreading the situation, repeatedly refuses.

1864: Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart dies of the wound he received on May 11 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, Va. Stuart was the premier Confederate cavalry commander in the Army of Northern Virginia. His last words were, "I am resigned; God's will be done." The 31-year-old left behind his wife, Flora, and three children, a boy, and two girls. General Robert E. Lee reportedly said he could hardly think of General Stuart without weeping.

Statue of Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart

At the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Va. Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia repulses the greatest Federal assault yet, at the Mule Shoe salient, but suffers many casualties and is pushed back to a secondary line, which holds. The Federals capture some 3,000 Confederates and 20 cannons. Among the captured is Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson who was one of Lee's best division commanders. 

Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson

1865: The Battle of Palmito Ranch east of Brownsville, Texas is the last battle of the War for Southern Independence and it is a Confederate victory. Confederate forces, about 300 strong, led by Colonel John "Rip" Ford clashes with Federal forces numbering about 500 under Colonel Thomas H. Barrett. Barrett started the battle by breaking a truce that probably would have led to a peaceful surrender. The Federals didn't realize Ford had six artillery pieces, probably supplied by the French Army just across the border in Mexico. On this first day of the battle, the Federals captured several Confederates but were driven back by the end of the day.

Col. John S. "Rip" Ford

Confederate General Birthdays, May 12.