Buncha Stuff

31 07 2009

Fibber-McGeeI’m finishing up Volume I of Lincoln’s Collected Works (there are 11 volumes in all, plus an index for the first nine).  Rather than post interesting tidbits as I found them, I’ve decided that after I finish each volume I’ll go back to all my little post-its and put up one article listing them.  So look for a summary post next week.

I haven’t forgotten the post on Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, and the characteristics of the Southern officer class that hindered its ability to lead effectively.  I’m sure the article, when written, will piss some folks off, and maybe that’s why I keep putting it off.  But all the books I’m consulting are still sitting in a stack on my office floor.

I need some info on Hugh Judson Kilpatrick.  Does anyone know how, when, and why he received his nickname, Kill Cavalry?  I’m not looking for opinion or generally accepted legend – in fact, if you give that to me in a comment, I’ll delete it.  I’m looking for documented evidence: when and where did the name first appear, and in what context?

My First Bull Run Field Guide for Civil War Times magazine should be showing up in subscriber’s mailboxes soon.  I’ll post some thoughts on the article once I receive my copy.

Civil War Sallie visited the Manassas National Battlefield Park a couple weekends ago for the anniversary of the battle, and wrote about it in multiple installments here.  Check it out.





Daniel Tyler

30 07 2009

Brian Downey made this recent post on Lt. Joseph Audenried, who served as an aide to Daniel Tyler at Bull Run.  Be sure to read it – I’ll be incorporating some of it into my own sketch of Audenried.  Good stuff, even a sex scandal.  Hmmm…I wonder if typing those two words will generate more hits for this blog?

Tyler is something of an enigma.  He was McDowell’s most senior division commander, despite having been retired from the army for 27 years.  During the 15 years he spent in the uniform of the United States, he managed to rise to the rank of 1st Lieutenant, and he did not feel compelled to reenter the service for the war with Mexico.  His actions on July 18th at Blackburn’s Ford (at the time referred to as The Battle of Bull Run) had a profound impact on the campaign, as did his decisions on the 21st.  I’ll have plenty to say about Tyler later.  Note that at the time of the battle he was a Brig. Gen. of Connecticut militia.

This article was originally posted on 4/12/2007, as part of the Daniel Tyler biographical sketch.





John G. Barnard

29 07 2009

John Barnard graduated from West Point in 1833 at the ripe old age of eighteen.  He was simultaneously an engineering instructor and superintendent of the academy in 1855-1856.  As McDowell’s chief engineer in the First Bull Run campaign, on July 18th he demurred when “requested” by his chief to accompany him on a reconnaissance of the ground over which the proposed turning movement (the Federal left) was to be conducted.  Later, his inspection of the terrain and roads north of the Warrenton Turnpike, the area chosen by McDowell after he decided to act against the enemy’s left, produced less than accurate information.  If you ask me, he “screwed the pooch”, as Chuck Yeager might say, and poorly served McDowell.  After the battle he wrote a very long letter in response to the reporting of William Howard “Bull Run” Russell, titled The CSA and the Battle of Bull Run.  He was also responsible for the design of the defenses of Washington – one look at a map of the forts ringing the city makes it hard not to conclude that Edwin Stanton was either hopelessly paranoid or simply a coward.  Auntie Em!!!!  (I’m very down on Stanton just now, if you can’t tell).

This article was originally posted on 8/5/2007, as part of the John Gross Barnard biographical sketch.





Romeyn B. Ayres

29 07 2009

During the First Bull Run campaign, Capt. Romeyn Ayres commanded Company (Battery) E, 3rd US Artillery, the famous Sherman’s Battery, which was attached to Sherman’s brigade of Tyler’s division (see here); this despite his official assignment with the 5th Artillery.  Being unable to cross Bull Run with his brigade, Ayres spent the day in reserve and covering the retreat, during which he repelled a cavalry charge.  Ayres sent a wagon, three caissons and his forge ahead when preparing for the retreat, and reported all of these, plus seven horses and five mules, lost when fleeing volunteers cut the traces and stole the mounts (see his report here).

Later, he would advance through artillery positions to infantry brigade and division command, participating in the major campaigns of the Army of the Potomac through Appomattox.  He was also sent with his division to put down the draft riots in New York City.  The army must have been impressed, because in 1877 he was sent with a battalion to Mauch Chunk, PA, home to the Molly Maguires, to suppress the railroad disturbance there.  I’m guessing Ayres was not popular with the AOH.

In Cullum’s Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of USMA (Ayres’s Cullum number is 1352), classmate Col. John Hamilton notes that (i)n the field his style was that of the brilliant executor, rather than of the plotting strategist.  He had withal a remarkable eye to at once take in the situation on the field, and was the quickest of tacticians.

Hamilton provided a few anecdotes, demonstrating a sometimes brutal wit:

On march in Texas, during a few days’ rest he [Ayres] happened to pitch his camp near the permanent command of an officer who ranked him.  The officer was a strict constructionist of Army Regulations, and had his reveille at daybreak.   Ayres had ever liked his morning nap; and his senior, very unnecessarily, considering the transientness of the junction, assumed command over Ayres, and ordered him to comply with the Regulations.

After the interview, Ayres retired to his camp and issued the following order, sending his senior a copy:

Headquarters, Co.-, 3rd Artillery,

Camp —,—, 185-

Company Orders.  Until further orders, daylight in this camp will be at six o’clock.

R.B.Ayres

1st Lt., 3rd Artillery,

Commanding Co. -

During the Rebellion, a colonel of his brigade showed a timidity before the enemy too observable to the command to be overlooked by the brigadier.  What passed at the subsequent interview nobody will ever know, but the next day the colonel was found in the hottest part of the action.  Soon an officer of his regiment reported to Ayres, General, poor Colonel — is killed.  Thank God!  says Ayres, his children can now be proud of him.

I have some delightfully ironic trivia concerning Ayres’s grave, but will address that in a separate post later.  Stay tuned.

This article was origninally posted on 6/29/2007, as part of the Romeyn Beck Ayres biographical sketch.





William T. Sherman

28 07 2009

Colonel William. T. Sherman (while his commission as BGUSV was dated 5/17/61, he was not nominated until 8/2/61 and was confirmed three days later) commanded a brigade in Daniel Tyler’s division of McDowell’s army during the First Bull Run campaign.  He’s been in the news lately thanks to a couple of programs on The History Channel (see here and here).  The battle marked an inauspicious beginning to his storied Civil War career, and he would end up as the commanding general of the U. S. Army after his friend U. S. Grant became president.  But at Bull Run, Sherman committed his brigade in the same piecemeal fashion favored by his fellow commanders on both sides.  I’m not too hard on those fellows, because McDowell’s army of about 35,000 was the largest ever assembled on the North American continent up to that point, and the only man in the country experienced in commanding a force of even 40% its size was Winfield Scott.

As with all Union generals from Ohio, I’m finding the interrelationships surrounding Sherman and shaping his rise to brigade command somewhat labyrinthine.  Sherman briefly partnered in a law firm with members of the Ohio McCooks and his influential in-laws the Ewings.  And the colonel of the 1st OHVI in Schenck’s brigade of Tyler’s Division, Alexander McCook?  His middle name was McDowell.  Powerful Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase, during this time sometimes referred to as General Chase, was from Ohio, and Sherman’s brother Thomas was elected to fill Chase’s vacated senate seat when the latter was appointed to Lincoln’s cabinet.  It doesn’t take long to realize that a non-political general was a rare bird indeed.

Brian Downey recently wrote of a post-war scandal involving Sherman and the widow of Joseph Audenried, who as a young Lt. served on the staff of Sherman’s direct superior Tyler during the campaign.  John Tidball, who was also with McDowell’s army in the summer of ‘61, would wind up on Sherman’s staff years later, when “Uncle Billy” held the highest military office in the land.  Tidball’s biography (discussed here) includes his sketch of his boss at that time which touches on Sherman’s affection for the ladies (page 415):

He was exceedingly fond of the society of ladies, and took as much delight in dancing and such pleasures as a youth just entering manhood, and with them he was as much of a lion as he was a hero with his old soldiers.

With those of the romantic age he was often sprightly upon their all absorbing topic of love and matrimony, a condition of mind that he regarded as a mere working out of the inflexible laws of nature; but while regarding it in this light he did not condemn or ridicule the romantic side of it as mere nonsensical sentimentality.  From young ladies with whom he was intimately acquainted he was fond of extracting the kiss conceded by his age and position, and which they were not loath to grant, nor upon which neither parents or beaux were disposed to frown.  By the envious it was said that in these osculatory performances he sometimes held in so long that he was compelled to breathe through his ears.

Cump, you dog!

This article was originally posted on 5/26/2007, as part of the William T. Sherman biographical sketch.





Biographical Sketches

28 07 2009

I think I need to go back and change some things.  My resources section is supposed to be free of interpretation, but some of my biographical sketches include little lead-ins to the meat and potatoes part.  This has been nagging at the far reaches of my noggin for awhile.  It has nothing to do with the poor, one star rating someone recently gave to my sketch of William T. Sherman, by the way.  So I’ll be going back and removing these background pieces, but I’ll re-post those parts as separate articles.





War Like the Thunderbolt

28 07 2009

51lkliy3G4L__SS500_I received a bound galley of Russell Bonds’s upcoming study of the battle and burning of Atlanta, War Like the Thunderbolt, set for release on September 2, 2009.  I told Russell that I would look it over and give it the review-in-brief treatment.  But several forces have converged to alter that plan.  For one thing, I’m finishing up Volume I of Lincoln’s Collected Works; some of that has been mind-numbing, and I just don’t have it in me to jump right into volume II.  (I’m also reading Four Brother’s in Blue, and that thing is endless – good, but endless.)  For another, I’m not very well read on the Atlanta Campaign; I have all the standard works – except for that old Savas two volume essay collection, I’d like to get my hands on that – but haven’t got around to reading them.  Also, after flipping through the book (somebody needs to explain the difference between an uncorrected proof, an advanced reading copy, and a bound galley), I like the style.  It looks very readable, and I’m thinking it shouldn’t take too long.  I’ll report back to you when I’m finished.  In the meantime you may want to look into Russell’s critically acclaimed Stealing the General.








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