Paydirt!

31 10 2008

Reader Linda Mott left the following comment on this post:

I ran across an article written about the 14th Brooklyn’s missing report and their actions at Bull Run. The report had been misplaced, and found forty years later. According to the article, the report and other papers found with it were forwarded to the War Veterans Association. The report was finally published 40 years later in the Brooklyn Daily Leader on Mar. 17, 1901. The Brooklyn Public Library has some of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspapers online. Their website is: http://www.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/

There are other articles about the 14th Brooklyn regiment if one has the patience to search for them. It’s best to search by subject rather than dates. However, the article about the report can be located by date. If not successful try “Old Bull Run Report”. The report is written by Lt. Col. E. B. Fowler. Just thought I’d pass this along, and thank you for the OR’s their organization and presentation are wonderful. I had been looking them up at e-history.com from OSU very tedious. Have you looked there for the Supplemental Volume with the later reports? The site has the atlases and several Supplemental Volumes.

Lo and behold, following Linda’s tip I found the report on page 6 of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for Mar. 17, 1901.  I’ll post the report and the text of the Daily Eagle article later.

As an aside, there are two different supplements we are talking about.  Linda is I think referring to Series III, Vol. 2 of the ORs, which contains supplemental reports and correspondence not filed where they should have been filed in the rest of the ORs.  It’s part of the set referred to as The Official Records.  I’ve already posted all the reports from that volume, that pertain to First Bull Run.  When I refer to The Supplement, I’m talking about the Broadfoot set compiled much more recently.

Thanks Linda!





Good Talk Elsewhere

31 10 2008

Some interesting discussion going on over at Cenantua’s Blog in the comments to this post.  Rather than rehash the whole thing here, I’ll just send you there to read for yourself.  Any suggestions on how to make this site better are appreciated, but please leave comments about Robert’s post there, and comments about my site here – I think that’s the polite way to go about it.





Second Chance

31 10 2008

Here’s one that got under the radar.  I posted it awhile back.  If you’re killing time today, give it a read and let me know what you think.  Follow the links and it will make more sense.

Handcuffs at Bull Run





McPherson’s “New” Book on Lincoln

31 10 2008

Check out this review of the new James McPherson book, Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief, by James Durney on TOCWOC.  Astute and valid criticism, I think.  McPherson is a fine writer, a synthesizer by reputation, but his choices of what to synthesize seem somewhat pedestrian.  While on that subject, here are some thoughts on synthesis from an earlier Robert Bateman article I linked to in this post:

At the outset, a historian examines the available evidence about a historical event or period. He or she looks at the primary sources, be they eyewitness accounts or relevant contemporary documents, and from these develops an understanding of the basic outlines. But what follows next is at the core of the difference between journalism and history. The historian is then expected to interpret these sources to create a framework for a new understanding of the events, which goes beyond a recitation of who, what, when, where and why. This first interpretation, therefore, is the first thesis.

Let us assume for a moment that the historian was the first to address a given topic, and therefore his thesis is widely accepted as it is also the only one available. Time passes. We circle the sun. Children are born, raised, go to high school and learn the thesis (albeit usually in a synopsized version) as a part of their general education. Eventually one of them is masochistic enough to go to graduate school with the intent of pursuing a degree in history.

For the youngster, there are only two real routes available when selecting a dissertation topic. The budding historian might attempt to find a brand new area of study that has never been written about (fat chance there, but sometimes it happens), or he or she can read deeply of the already extant body of historical literature on a topic or period, re-examine the foundational materials underpinning the dominant thesis, perhaps uncover some additional material not noticed before. Then the new graduate student will proceed to offer a new interpretation, different and disagreeing with the original thesis in large ways and small, thus creating the anti-thesis. Obviously, if the author of the original thesis is still around, this might not go over swimmingly. Presuming the young historian has done a good job, his becomes the new “accepted version,” and the pendulum swings.

Skip forward a few more years, and the third phase comes into effect. This time, however, it is usually an older, more experienced and already established historian who completes the cycle. Age and experience have given the older historian some ability to read across multiple interpretations as well as the wisdom to craft his ideas carefully. The senior scholar, recognizing that there are some positive elements in both competing ideas, also brings to bear a much broader understanding of the field overall, and he has time on his side. (He is not living the life of penury, eating macaroni and cheese meals, that young grad student had been.) To this person is left the task of melding thesis and antithesis into a new and greater whole, the synthesis. This, then, becomes the new narrative, necessarily upsetting both the adherents of the thesis and the anti-thesis, but accepted by the larger field as superior to both.

Thus does one cycle of history end. It may have taken five years, or perhaps as many as 50, but at every step there was dispute and criticism flowing from one historian against another. (It’s a dynamic not usually seen within journalism except in the case of egregious acts of ethical violation such as Jayson Blair’s.) The arguing among historians, you see, is very much a part of what makes history.

What is it called when the senior scholar only considers the thesis in his synthesis?

Please take time to read Lt. Col. Bateman’s article.  I’ve pointed people to it before, but they can’t seem to get past the historian vs. journalist part of the piece.  Particularly at this time of year, what he has to say about historians’ personal biases affecting their analysis of current events is well worth considering.





Bull Run After Action (Official) Reports

30 10 2008

As I said, I have posted all the First Bull Run after action reports (Official Reports) included in the War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (ORs for short).  That does not mean, however, that after action reports for all regiments, brigades, divisions and staff can now be found on this site.  There are a number of reports missing from the ORs, either because none were ever written or because they were lost or otherwise not available at the time the ORs were compiled.  Some were subsequently included in Broadfoot Publishing’s Supplement to the Official Records.  I don’t happen to own that particular expensive set of books, and it is not available in digital format.  I’d be happy to buy the volume which includes Bull Run reports (Vol. 2 of Vol. 1), if anybody is looking to sell.  I previously posted this report from the Supplement.

I suppose there are lots of reasons that so many reports are missing.  Many of the federal regiments were no longer in existence within weeks of the battle.  And it appears that some brigades either did not require regimental reports, or simply did not forward them along with the brigade report.  None of Ewell’s, Early’s, or Holmes’s regiments in Beuaregard’s army are in the ORs, and the only reports of any type for Johnston’s army are his own and those of Jackson, Stuart, and staffers Pendleton and Rhett.  On the Union side, there are no regimental reports for the brigades of Richardson or Blenker, and only one or two for most other brigades.

Maybe some of these will turn up in the Supplement.  Other places for me to look are the state Adjutant General reports for 1861, though I believe those were culled when the Supplement was compiled.  I think the most important source is going to be newspapers.  If you should run across anything that looks like an official regimental report published in a newspaper, please let me know about it.  As I post these I will cross reference them to the OOBs, just as I have done with the ORs.





Done, But Not Done-Done

29 10 2008

OK, I’ve posted my last Bull Run after action report (OR).  #62 was the last Union report – #63 is actually the findings of the Dixon Miles court of inquiry

You may have inferred from the reports of Richardson and Davies that there was something hinky with Miles’s behavior on the 21st.  He was prescribed some brandy by his doctor that day, and he was unfortunately wearing two hats at the same time.  No, I mean that literally.  It was not uncommon practice to wear two hats on a hot day – something about ventilation.  But Miles had a reputation for hitting the bottle, so combine his medicinal use that day with possible augmentation on his part, two hats, and some less than rational directions to subordinates in the field, and the evidence mounts up.  Kinda sorta cleared by the court of inquiry, Miles went on leave of absence, awaiting orders from July 26, 1861 until March 8, 1862.  I’ll try to track down more information on the court of inquiry and post it here.

The ORs aren’t done-done, as Miracle Max might say.  I’ll get around to putting up the Blackburn’s Ford reports.  And of course there is all that correspondence to get through.  But it’s nice to have one thing wrapped up, finally.





Findings of the Miles Court of Inquiry

29 10 2008

Findings of Court of Inquiry on conduct of Col. Dixon S. Miles, Second U. S. Infantry, Commanding Fifth Division, at Battle of Bull Run

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 438-439

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 42.

HDQRS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Washington, November 6, 1861

A court of inquiry, instituted by Special Orders, No. 67, of August 10, 1861 [following] from headquarters Department Northeastern Virginia,. upon the application of Col. D. S. Miles, Second Infantry, to examine into certain allegations made against him as stated in his letter to the assistant adjutant-general at the headquarters of said department, dated July 26, 1861, did, after mature deliberation upon the testimony adduced, agree upon the following

STATEMENT OF FACTS.

1. That Col. I. B. Richardson was justified in applying the term drunkenness to Col. D. S. Miles’ condition about 7 o’clock p.m. on the 21st July last.

2. That the evidence is clear that Colonel Miles had been ill for several days before July 21 last – was ill on that day; that the surgeon had prescribed medicines for him, and on the day of the battle had prescribed for him small quantities of brandy.

The court, however, considers his illness as a very slight extenuation of the guilt attached to his condition about 7 p.m. on July 21 last.

OPINION.

The court is of opinion that evidence cannot now be found sufficient to convict Colonel Miles of drunkenness before a court-martial; that a proper court could only be organized in this Army with the greatest inconvenience at present, and that it will not be for the interests of the service to convene a court in this case.

The court is therefore of opinion that no further proceedings in the case are necessary.

II. The proceedings of the court of inquiry in the case of Col. D. S. Miles, Second Infantry, have been laid before the major-general commanding, and are confirmed.

By command of Major-General McClellan:

S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General

—–

SPECIAL ORDERS, No. 67.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT N. E. VIRGINIA,

Arlington, August 10, 1861

Upon the application of Col. D. S. Miles, Second Infantry, a court of inquiry is hereby instituted to examine into certain allegations made against him, as stated in his letter to the assistant adjutant-general, headquarters Department N. E. Virginia, dated July 26, 1861.

The court will meet at 12 m., on Monday, the 12th instant, or as soon thereafter as practicable, in Alexandria, Va., and will report the facts and give its opinion in the case.

Detail for the court.

Brig. Gen. W. B. Franklin, U.S. Volunteers.

Col. John Sedgwick, First Cavalry.

Capt. Truman Seymour, First Artillery.

The junior member will record the proceedings.

By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:

JAMES B. FRY,

Assistant  Adjutant-General





#62 – Col. William R. Montgomery

29 10 2008

Report of Col. William R. Montgomery, First New Jersey Infantry

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 437-438

NEAR FORT ALBANY, VA., July 23, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to report that, by instructions of Brigadier-General Runyon, commanding Fourth Division, Northeastern Virginia, with fifteen companies, seven of the First (my own), and eight of the Second (McLean’s) New Jersey Volunteers, I left Vienna and marched to join you at Centreville. On the march we encountered your retreating forces, which, by personal authority, exertions of officers, men, and the bayonet, we endeavored, though ineffectually, to rally and turn back. We took position in rear of your camps and immediately in front of the enemy, then proceeded in person to your headquarters, and received your instructions to assume command of my own and McLean’s regiments, and hold our position. On sending for the latter regiment it was ascertained it had retired and was on the retreat, and continued to do so, for reasons doubtless its colonel will duly explain.

About 2 o’clock in the morning, having ascertained that the forces had retreated, and my command left entirely unsupported, I deemed it proper to retire, leaving your hospitals in charge of Surgeon Taylor, of my regiment, who nobly volunteered for that purpose with my sanction, to the mercy of the enemy.

I kept on and covered the rear of our retreating forces till we reached Fairfax Court-House, when, finding a regiment encamped but preparing to take up its march, I notified its commander he would be in rear, and the probability of the enemy’s Black Cavalry annoying him. We continued our march in rear of other forces, finally joined and escorted Hunt’s battery to this point, where, during the storm of yesterday, I disposed of my regiment as I best could. When we marched from Vienna four companies, two of each regiment, were on detached duty, and one other was left to hold the place till the former companies should return, then the whole to proceed to join us. They marched accordingly, but were met on the way and turned back, and those of the Second joined us here. To-day we are employed in getting in our camp equipage from Camp Trenton.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. R. MONTGOMERY,

Colonel, Commanding First Regiment New Jersey Volunteers

Brig. Gen. I. McDOWELL,

Commanding Federal Forces





#61 – Lieut. Oliver D. Greene

28 10 2008

Report of Lieut. Oliver D. Greene, Second U.S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 436-437

ALEXANDRIA, VA., July 24, 1861

SIR: In compliance with your circular order of this date, just received, I have the honor to report that, on the morning of the 21st instant, my battery was placed in position in reserve near Centreville by Colonel Miles, commanding division, in person. Shortly afterwards, I received an order to hasten to the front with it, at Bull Run, as the enemy were there in force, and supposed to be attempting to turn our left flank. I took it forward as rapidly as possible, and came into action on the crest of a hill about six hundred yards from the enemy’s line of skirmishers. I opened fire immediately upon a fixed battery partially masked by the woods, at a distance of about fifteen hundred yards, and also upon a point where it was known another masked battery was placed. The enemy were congregated in considerable force inside of the first battery, but as soon as I got the range the spherical case shot dispersed them and they disappeared from that position for nearly three hours. I then ceased firing, while skirmishers were thrown to the front from Colonel Richardson’s brigade to feel the strength of the enemy in the edge of the woods in front of us. They were found to be in overwhelming force, and as our skirmishers retired theirs advanced in very strong force, but incautiously presented their flank to my battery. I threw in canister and spherical case as rapidly as possible, killing and wounding several, the first shot knocking over three. I kept up this fire for about five minutes, when I supposed the enemy were driven from that immediate vicinity. I then turned the fire of the battery upon columns of dust seen rising above the woods and indicating the march of troops in mass. Whether any effect was produced or not by this fire I cannot say.

At this time Lieutenant Prime, of the Engineers, directed my attention to a group of thirty or forty horsemen, evidently officers, on the plateau opposite, who, with maps on their horses’ necks, were apparently taking a view of our position and strength at a safe distance. By digging a hole under the trail I got two pieces bearing upon them at an angle of twenty-five or thirty degrees. The distance must have been two and one-half or three miles, but the first shot sent the center figure of the group to the rear; the second scattered the remainder in all directions. Firing was then ordered to cease at all the guns, for some time nothing appearing worth attention, until finally a cloud of dust was seen approaching our position from the direction of Manassas upon a road that was entirely concealed by woods from our sight except at one bare spot within our best range, and the range of this point we had got accurately before. The guns were all prepared with shell and spherical case, and pointed upon this spot. When the head of the column appeared it proved to be a battery of light artillery. I opened fire upon it instantly, and fired with the utmost rapidity. The smoke of the guns obscured my sight, so that I saw none of the effect produced, but Colonel Richardson, who was looking with a glass, informed me afterwards that I cut them up badly, and forced them to turn back. We saw them no more. Shortly after this one of my men called my attention to the battery we first fired upon. The enemy were endeavoring to plant field piece, the horses of which were just passing to the rear as I looked with my glass. I opened upon them with spherical case, firing several rounds. When the smoke cleared away there was no gun to be seen, and the battery gave me no more trouble during the day.

About this time heavy re-enforcements commenced being sent into the main action from Manassas, passing along the plateau opposite, and at about two miles distance. I fired upon them as often as large masses could be seen to justify firing at such a distance. Not much effect was produced, so far as I could see. One column of cavalry was, however, scattered in all directions by a solid shot. Very little firing was done by us for the next two hours, at which time we were ordered to Centreville to protect our left flank and our retreat. I chose a position on the crest of a hill, which from its shape gave me command of the ground to our left, and also of the road along which our division was retiring. From the position I could perfectly sweep with my fire 180 degrees front right and left down a gentle slope. Four regiments were placed as my supports, and the force at the point could have stopped double its number.

At this time an unauthorized person gave the order to retreat. I refused to obey the order, but all my supporting regiments but one (Colonel Jackson’s Eighteenth New York) moved off to the rear. Colonel Jackson most gallantly offered his regiment as a support for the battery, saying “that it should remain by me as long as there was any fighting to be done there.” The above-mentioned unauthorized person again made his appearance at this time and again ordered me to retreat, and ordered Colonel Jackson to form in column of division on my right and retreat with me, as all was lost. The order was, of course, disregarded, and in about two minutes the head of a column of the enemy’s cavalry came up at a run, opening out of the woods in beautiful order. I was prepared for it, and the column had not gone more than a hundred yards out of the woods before four shells were burst at their head and directly in their midst. They broke in every direction, and no more cavalry came out of the woods. Shortly after my battery was ordered to fall a little farther to the rear, to form in a park of artillery. At that point the battery remained until about 12 o’clock at night, when it was ordered to take up the line of march for Washington, which point it arrived at in perfect order, although much exhausted, men and horses having been hard at work for thirty hours, almost without food and water and without sleep.

My officers, Lieutenants Cushing, Harris, and Butler, were coolly and assiduously attentive to their duties during the day. The accuracy of our fire was mainly owing to their personal supervision of each shot. The men of the company behaved well, and every one seemed to try and do his duty in the best possible manner. My only trouble was to keep the drivers from leaving their horses to assist at the guns.

To Lieutenant Prime, of the Engineers, and Colonel Richardson, of the Third Michigan Regiment, I am indebted for the most valuable assistance in securing the best effect from the firing.

One of the officers and one of the men were struck by spent balls, but I am happy to say we had no loss either in men or horses.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

OLIVER D. GREENE,

First Lieutenant, Second Artillery, Comdg. Light Co.

G. F. H. COWDREY, Acting Asst. Adjt. Gen.,

Second Brig., Fifth Div., Colonel Davies, Comdg.





More on the So-Called “Army of Northeastern Virginia”

25 10 2008

You’ll notice in Col. Pratt’s report that he uses “Army N. E. Va” in the closing.  As I’ve discussed here and here, I’ve never been able to find any documentation creating or formally recognizing an Army of Northeastern Virginia.  Pratt’s report is one of only three references to such an organization in the Official Records.  The other two are Porter’s endorsement (dated August 19, 1861) of Burnside’s report, and Robert E. Lee’s reference to his own army in a September 3, 1862 letter to Jefferson Davis (OR, Series I, Volume XII/2, p 559).  Pratt’s report is exceptional in that it contains the first reference to the army that is contemporary to the battle, as the report is dated July 22.  Pratt was a judge before and after the war, so maybe he was predisposed to timely record keeping.  Or maybe he pre-dated the report.  I honestly don’t know.

I don’t want to belabor this point.  McDowell was in command of the Department of Northeastern Virginia, and the federal troops within that department.  But every reference I’ve found to the Army of Northeastern Virginia, with the exception of Pratt’s report, was written after McDowell’s army was broken up.  I can’t find any mention of the Army of Northeastern Virginia in the New York Times for 1861.








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