Charles D. Lyon and a Call for Stuff

19 08 2009

There’s a new biographical sketch of Lt. Charles D. Lyon of the 3rd Michigan Infantry up at Men of the Third Michigan Infantry.  The sketch includes an excerpt letter that the site owner attributes to Lyon, reprinted in the Grand Rapids Enquirer in July, 1861, describing the action at Blackburn’s Ford on July 18.  Check it out.  If anyone has the article and would like to share it for inclusion in the Resources here, let me know.  In fact, if you have any newspaper articles, letters, diaries or memoirs you’d like to contribute to the Resources, by all means drop me a line!





JCCW – Dr. Ira Tripp

19 08 2009

Testimony of Dr. Ira Tripp

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 226-228

WASHINGTON, February 26, 1862.

Dr. IRA TRIPP sworn and examined.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. What has been your connexion with the army?

Answer. My position was hospital steward.

Question. In the three months’ service?

Answer. Yes, sir; under General Patterson, in the 8th Pennsylvania regiment. I was taken prisoner on the 2d of July, near Falling Waters.

Question. Well, go on and state about that.

Answer. We were captured near Falling Waters on the second day of July, and taken to Martinsburg that day. There our horses were taken away from us.

Question. By whom?

Answer. By a rebel captain; I forget his name now. That evening we were taken about three miles beyond Martinsburg, and encamped there during the night.

Question. What force had the enemy at that time?

Answer. As near as we could judge, Johnston had about 5,000 men at that time. We were with them but one day there. The next day we were taken to Winchester, where they had about 2,000 more troops, as near as we could ascertain, making their entire force at that time about 7,000.

Question. What day were you taken to Winchester?

Answer. The 4th of July.

Question. What was done with you there?

Answer. We were kept in jail there two weeks.

Question. How many of you were there?

Answer. I think there were 45. During that time the enemy received re-enforcements of men, varying from perhaps a regiment down to a company, coming into Winchester at different times during the two weeks we were there. As near as we could calculate, their re-enforcements might amount in all to 5,000 or 6,000 men.

Question. Do you know from what direction these re-enforcements came?

Answer. I should judge, from the way they came into Winchester, that they were from Strasburg and in that direction.

Question. They did not come from Manassas?

Answer. No, sir; I do not think any of them came from Manassas.

Question. What was the condition of their fortifications at Winchester at the time you went there?

Answer. They were very light. They fortified a little, not a great deal, during the time we were there. After we had been there about a week, some of our men were taken out to the fortifications and made to work to try to mount a gun, as they told us when they came back. That was the only gun they saw; they saw some little intrenchments on each side of the road, not to exceed twenty rods altogether.

Question. Rifle-pits?

Answer. No, sir; not rifle-pits. They had some empty barrels there and a trench thrown up. There was no fortification of any strength at that time.

Question. You only knew of one gun there?

Answer. That was all at that time—one large gun; they had some seven or eight pieces of light artillery that we saw. They got a few after that—some four or five that we saw come in. They never had at the outside over 13,000 men at Winchester, I think, before the battle of Bull Run.

Question. Would there, in your judgment, have been any difficulty in Patterson’s taking Winchester?

Answer. No, sir; not at all. I do not think there would have been any trouble in his doing it.

Question. Did they appear to expect an attack from Patterson?

Answer. Yes, sir; daily.

Question. What do you know of any preparation to leave in case of an attack?

Answer. We hardly knew of any preparation they had to leave. They expected an attack. We had that from the jailer there and from the officers themselves. A great many of them left the day we did. I have no doubt that they expected that Patterson would come on and take Winchester after their troops left. I judge so from seeing so many going away the day we did; we saw their carriages, &c., on the road to Strasburg.

Question. What day did their army leave?

Answer. On the 18th of July.

Question. What number left?

Answer. As near as we could calculate, about 10,000 men in all left for Manassas.

Question. That would leave how many at Winchester?

Answer. Perhaps 2,000.

Question. Did they all leave at one time?

Answer. They left during the night of the 17th and the morning of the 18th, as near as we could get at it. We left on the 18th.

Question. By what route did they go to Manassas?

Answer. I do not know the route. I am not acquainted with that country. We got to Manassas in the morning on the 19th, about nine o’clock, I should judge.

Question. What time did you leave Winchester?

Answer. At noon of the 18th, in a great hurry.

Question. By what route did you go?

Answer. We went to Strasburg, about eighteen miles from Winchester, and there we took the cars to Manassas.

Question. What did you see of these troops after you left Winchester?

Answer. We saw some of the cavalry at Manassas on the 19th, and saw General Johnston himself there. We knew three of the cavalry, because they were of those who captured us.

Question. How long did you remain at Manassas?

Answer. From nine in the morning until nine or ten o’clock at night.

Question. Do you know whether these troops came into Manassas before you left?

Answer. Only a portion of them. All I know of their being there was seeing a portion of the cavalry and General Johnston himself. There were large re-enforcements coming in that day from the direction of Richmond. That is what I suppose kept us there; we could not get away because the track was occupied by these troops coming in. I should judge that that day and the day following there were 15,000 of re-enforcements from between Manassas and Richmond, coming in from the south on different roads. We had to guess at it, but that is about as near as we could get at it. Heavy trains were coming in constantly all the day long.

Question. Did you, on your way to Winchester, see any strong fortifications anywhere, after you were captured?

Answer. No, sir; we did not see any anywhere. There were no strong fortifications made after that I am certain. I do not think they ever expected to stand a battle at all against Patterson.

Question. Did you, while at Winchester, look for Patterson to come there?

Answer. We looked for him every day. We just as much expected he would come as we were living. We expected to be taken out by our own men or hurried off by the rebels.

Question. Our force was double theirs?

Answer. Yes, sir; nearly so. I calculated that Johnston had not more than 12,000 at the outside. And knowing the difference between the strength of the two armies, we constantly expected Patterson would take the place.

Question. What was the character of the re-enforcements that came into Winchester? Were they well armed and equipped?

Answer. All had arms; not very good arms. They looked like old muskets. Some came in in the night, and we could not tell what they had. Some of them were not very well uniformed, such as we saw. Some had citizens’ clothes on— no uniform at all. They looked like they had just been gathered up right out of the fields, with no uniform at all. There was in the jail yard a big pile of stone that had been pounded up for pavement, and getting on that pile we could see their encampment, and all over the country there.

Question. Did you see any fortifications at Winchester, except the small one at the terminus of the railroad from Charlestown?

Answer. That is all that we saw.





JCCW – C & O Canal Superintendent A. K. Stake

17 08 2009

Testimony of A. K. Stake

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 225-226

WASHINGTON, February 24, 1862.

A. K. STAKE sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Where do you reside, and what is your present occupation?

Answer. I reside in Williamsport. I am officially connected with the Chesapeake and Ohio canal—as general superintendent of the canal.

Question. Have you any knowledge of the force under Johnston at the time when Patterson was at Martinsburg?

Answer. None except from intercourse with Virginians whom I knew to be refugees. They corroborated all that Mr. Spates has said about it. I know that it was the impression throughout the community, and in the army, that there was not more than 10,000 men under Johnston; and there is this additional fact, ascertained since from perfectly reliable gentlemen, that there never was at any time, in Winchester, as many as 14,000 men, and of these there were, perhaps, 4,000 or 5,000 militia. The gentleman from whom I received this information is perfectly reliable. He is a southern man, and says there was not at any time as many as 14,000 men at Winchester, and of these there were from 3,000 to 5,000 militia, badly armed and equipped. I am not aware what information General Patterson may have had; but I should think he could have had the same information in regard to that matter that outsiders had.

Question. It was obtainable—current information?

Answer. Yes, sir. There was a party about him—McMullin’s men, “scouts,” as they were called ; they were so constantly about him that very few persons could approach him with matters of that kind. I could sometimes get to his headquarters about other matters, but not upon subjects of that kind. General Patterson told Mr. Spates and myself afterwards, at Harper’s Ferry, that he had positive information that Johnston had 42,000 men at Winchester. Of course, we believed as much of that as we pleased.

Question. Were you at Martinsburg when Patterson moved his force to Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Do you know the feeling of the troops at that time?

Answer. When he moved from Martinsburg to Bunker Hill the supposition was that he was going out to attack Johnston, and the troops were in fine spirits about it. They had laid there at Martinsburg four or five days, and were tired of that, and were anxious to meet the enemy, and when they turned off towards Charlestown they became very much dissatisfied; but the officers allayed a great deal of that feeling by asserting that they were going down to Wizard’s Cliff, (a place on the road between Charlestown and Winchester,) from which they were to approach Winchester, so as to avoid the masked batteries that would be in their way if they went direct from Bunker Hill. But when they came to Wizard’s Cliff and passed on towards Charlestown there was a great deal of dissatisfaction; and at Charlestown, as I learned afterwards—I did not go there myself—was the first distinct refusal on the part of the three months’ men to follow General Patterson any longer. They declared that they had no disposition to be bamboozled any longer in that way, and as their time was up they would go home, unless he was disposed to go out and attack the enemy. He rode up before two regiments at Charlestown and announced to them that their time was up, and he had no further claim upon them; but he desired them to remain with him, as he hoped to meet the enemy in the field. My opinion is that there was not a word of dissent at that time; but when they retreated still further, to Harper’s Ferry, they became still more dissatisfied, and determined to go home. I had this from those who had official positions about him at that time. I heard General Cadwalader say, at Martinsburg, that the enemy had from 25,000 to 30,000 men. I do not know where he got his information, for there was no man outside of headquarters that estimated Johnston’s force at over 10,000 or 15,000 men.





JCCW – C & O Canal President Alfred Spates

17 08 2009

Testimony of Alfred Spates

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 224-225

WASHINGTON, February 24, 1862.

ALFRED SPATES sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler :

Question. You are president of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were you along upon the line of the canal during the past summer?

Answer. Yes, sir; from May last up to the present time.

Question. Were you there, or in that vicinity, at the time General Patterson crossed the Potomac and went to Martinsburg?

Answer. I was in that vicinity.

Question. Have you any knowledge of the force of the enemy under Johnston at or about that time?

Answer. I have no personal knowledge. I have knowledge from information obtained from those constantly coming from the river—from the section at which this army was then stationed. I have that kind of knowledge.

Question. Please state it.

Answer. From the best information I could obtain—from those said to be familiar with the amount of force there—I should say it was between 8,000 and 10,000 men.

Question. Were you generally acquainted in that vicinity?

Answer. Yes, sir; intimately.

Question. Were you in frequent communication with persons on the Virginia side of the river?

Answer. I frequently saw men from the other side of the river. We were doing some work on the canal about that time, and for a part of our force the work was on the Virginia side, and within five or six miles of Williamsport, Patterson being then at Martinsburg.

Question. The general impression, in that vicinity, was that Johnston’s army was between 8,000 and 10,000 men?

Answer. Yes, sir. I never heard any man put it higher than 10,000 men.





JCCW – Wagon-Master Nathaniel F. Palmer

16 08 2009

Testimony of Wagon-Master Nathaniel F. Palmer

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 221-224

WASHINGTON, February 18, 1862.

NATHANIEL F. PALMER sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Will you state in what capacity you served in the army under General Patterson?

Answer. I was appointed wagon-master in the 8th Pennsylvania regiment by Colonel Lumley.

Question. When did you enter the army?

Answer. On the 15th day of May last.

Question. You were captured by the enemy?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. On what day and in what engagement?

Answer. I was taken on the 2d day of July.

Question. At the battle of Falling Waters?

Answer. There were two divisions of the army after we crossed the river; they came to a fork of the road, and one part took the right and the other the left. The 15th Pennsylvania regiment was on the extreme right of the right wing; they had an advance guard thrown out, and Dr. Tripp and myself were taken with it.

Question. Where were you taken after your capture?

Answer. To Winchester.

Question. When did you arrive at Winchester?

Answer. On the morning of the 4th of July.

Question. Can you tell what number of troops Johnston had at the time you were taken—his whole force at Winchester and with him?

Answer. After we were taken we were taken with their retreat through Martinsburg. We came around to Martinsburg from Falling Waters. We were not on the road at Falling Waters, but on the road west of it. But it was all the same engagement. They then retreated three miles out of Martinsburg to a place they called Big Springs. There we lay over night with three regiments of infantry. I do not know how much cavalry they had, for they were scattered, coming in and running out, helter-skelter, and I could not get much idea of them. We then lay there until, perhaps, the next morning at 9 o’clock, when we fell back three miles further towards Bunker Hill, and went into a field, where they drew up in a sort of line of battle. There they were met by two more regiments and six pieces of light artillery. I think four of the guns were brass, and the other two were iron. We lay there in that field until alter dark; I do not know what time in the evening it was; and then we were put on their baggage wagons, and everything was sent into Winchester—all their traps.

Question. Did the force there go into Winchester at that time?

Answer. No, sir. We left them on the ground there, but all their wagon trains went into Winchester.

Question. Tell us, as near as you can, the whole number of Johnston’s force at that time, what you left behind you, and what you found at Winchester.

Answer. From the best calculations that we could make—and we got our information from very good sources—we concluded that they had about 7,000 men, besides their cavalry. That was scattered about in such confusion that we could not tell anything about it.

Question. How long did you stay at Winchester?

Answer. Until the 18th of July.

Question. Did Johnston’s force continue to increase while you remained at Winchester; and if so, to what extent?

Answer. There were squads coming in there every day. I do not think there was a day but what some came in. They would come in two or three companies at a time; no full regiments ever came in while we were there. By counting up the squads and calculating the best we could, we concluded that by the 18th there was but very little over 13,000 there.

Question. Did this increase of force come in from Manassas or from other points?

Answer. They did not come from Manassas. They were reported to us as coming from towns off in Virginia. I cannot remember the names of them. We made inquiries, and they were reported to us as coming in from different places in Virginia; that is, they were volunteers that had been picked up through the country.

Question. What was the condition of the fortifications at Winchester when you arrived there?

Answer. I did not see anything of any fortifications myself. Some of our men were taken out to work on the 5th of July, I think. When they came back they reported that they had been working at a cannon to mount it on a little fortification they had in the edge of the town where the Charlestown rail-road comes in at Winchester. They reported that there was a little fortification there, with a sort of rifle-pits or trench dug for some fifteen or twenty rods.

Question. Is that the only fortification you heard of there?

Answer. That is the only one we ever got information about.

Question. How many guns had they there?

Answer. Only this one they tried to mount.

Question. You left Winchester on the 18th of July?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Will you state where you went and what you saw on the road?

Answer. We were taken from Winchester to Strasburg, and arrived there in the evening about nine or ten o’clock. We lay there until the next morning until two o’clock; when we were put in the cars for Manassas. On our way to Manassas, I should think twenty miles from there, we ran a foul of Johnston’s men. One of them came into the cars whom I knew, because he stood guard over me while I was at Big Spring. He said they had three regiments then bound for Manassas, and that there were more coming on behind. While we lay there on one side, there were two trains that ran in there and went by us. We got into Manassas about nine o’clock in the morning. In the course of a couple of hours or so these trains came in with these men on and unloaded.

Question. How many regiments were there in all that came in?

Answer. There were three came in there. Whether they brought them all down there is more than I can tell. They had perhaps four or five switches at Manassas, where the headquarters were. They ran in there and ran past us, unloaded the trains, and then they went right back again. They were gone until nearly night, when they ran in again and unloaded some more men there.

Question. How many men were brought into Manassas while you were there?

Answer. We were told that there were 7,000 of them.

Question. Was Johnston there himself?

Answer. That is what we understood that he was there.

Question. Did you hear of any battle when you had got to Manassas?

Answer. We heard before we got there of the battle of the 18th. We heard that at a station called the Plains. There was quite a gathering and hurraing there. Some men had shot guns and threatened to shoot us through the windows of the cars.

Question. When did you leave Manassas?

Answer. On the 19th, about ten o’clock in the evening.

Question. Where did you go?

Answer. We ran down to Culpeper Court-House. I lay there until the next day, the 20th, at one o’clock, when we left.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Why did you lay there so long?

Answer. To let trains pass coming from the south.

Question. From Richmond?

Answer. I do not know as they all came from Richmond. Some of them came in from Gordonsville.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. How many troops, according to your estimate, passed you going to Manassas, while you were on your way from Manassas to Richmond?

Answer. We calculated that if Johnston brought 7,000, there were then taken there twenty-two regiments.

Question. Including the 7,000 brought down by Johnston?

Answer. Yes, sir. There were three in Richmond that night; two trains were loaded, and another regiment was at the station, standing and sitting about there.

Question. The whole you think amounted to twenty-two regiments?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You do not know, of your own knowledge, what became of the force Johnston left behind at Winchester?

Answer. No, sir; I could not tell anything about that.

By the chairman:

Question. Were there any large re-enforcements at Winchester at any time?

Answer. No, sir; they came in there in small squads. I do not think there was any number at one time come in higher than perhaps four or five companies.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. And none of those came from Manassas?

Answer. No, sir; none of them were reported as coming from Manassas.

By the chairman:

Question. And in all they had not more than 13,000 there?

Answer. No, sir; there could not have been more than that.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did they get that gun mounted while you were at Winchester?

Answer. We did not know. They were pretty much all young men who were taken out for that work. After they found out that that was the work they had to do, we came to the conclusion that we would not work on their fortifications or their guns. The fact of it was, we thought if we were going to be murdered by them, we might as well have it done first as at last. I protested against going out, and all the other men came up and declared that they would not go out and work on the fortifications, let the consequences be what they might. The result was that they did not come for us again.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What time did Johnston start with his men from Winchester?

Answer. He started the 17th, in the night some time. We heard in the evening that he was going to start.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. You started the next day after?

Answer. Yes, sir; the next day at 1 o’clock.

Question. Would there have been any difficulty in Patterson’s force coming and taking Winchester when you arrived there?

Answer. No, sir; they never could have made a stand at all. We expected them hourly all the time, and had got the wall of the jail fixed so that we could get out in five minutes. And all over town, at every door almost, there was a horse and wagon hitched, so that they might be ready to get right in and leave the town—standing there day and night.

Question. Looking for Patterson to come in?

Answer. Yes, sir, hourly.

Question. How did you keep the jailer from knowing that you had fixed the wall?

Answer. We hung blankets over it. The fact is, I had a scheme of my own to attend to that jailer. When we were first brought there, he came in, and when he saw me he said: “Damn you, you are the fellow I have been looking for. I am going to hang you on the bars here.” As he was not armed, I answered him pretty sharply. While that was going on, Lieutenant Buck, who was a gentleman, came in and chided the jailer for treating a prisoner that way. He was a brute, that jailer, if ever there was one. There was an old man named Martin, over eighty years of age, taken because he was a Union man, and brought there a prisoner from Martinsburg. The way that the old man was treated was shameful. And I had just made up my, mind to attend to that jailer if our troops came. I could have got out there in five minutes, and finished with him before our troops could get through the town; but they did not come.





Chickamauga Blog

14 08 2009

rocco-chickamaugaI’d say my friend Dave Powell has forgotten more about the Battle of Chickamauga than I know, but that would be faint praise indeed.  In addition to being a designer of classic war games, Dave has published several articles on the battle over the years, leads tours on the field every spring in partnership with the National Park Service, and is the author of the upcoming third installment of Savas Beatie’s Civil War Atlas series, The Maps of Chickamauga.  Dave has decided to enter the (sometimes) wonderful world of blogging with his own site, Chickamauga Blog.  You’ll find it on my Blogroll via the link in my header, along with a few other sites I’ve grouped as Civil War Battle Blogs.  These blogs are all more or less devoted to a single battle or campaign.  Like Bull Runnings and Battle of Kelly’s Ford (so far – I know of one more in the works), Chickamauga Blog will be a repository for research materials of various stripes.  I’ll let Dave describe it:

Here’s the deal. For a long time now, I have wanted to find a way to bring some of my Chickamauga material to the web. Research I’ve got, binders full of the stuff, in fact. Much of it is public domain, and a lot of it won’t ever really work in a book project – like, for example, the material I have collected on strengths and losses for each regiment who fought at Chickamauga. Eventually, I want this site to be the must-see location on Chickamauga on the web – the place to go for battle accounts, primary sources, analysis, and those odd bits that never seem to fit in anywhere else. So here goes.

Keep an eye on Chickamauga Blog.  It’ll be a good one.





Ford the Potomac Like They Did

12 08 2009

FordLast year, the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association conducted a tour of the battlefield (yes, there was a pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia after the Battle of Antietam) that commenced with a crossing of the Potomac via Boteler’s/Blackford’s/Pack Horse Ford, the same ford used by Union forces – including the 20th Maine and 118th Pennsylvania – on September 19-20, 1862.  The turnout wasn’t overwhelming (I didn’t make it either, having been in town the preceding weekend), but the reaction to the tour was.  So the SBPA has determined to repeat the tour again, this time on September 19, and this time with two tours scheduled.  One is to be led by SBPA board member Tom Clemens, and another by Tom McGrath, author of Shepherdstown: Last Clash of the Antietam Campaign.  The tour will begin with a crossing of the Potomac by foot at the ford, a tour of the battlefield, and a picnic on the field.  All this for $25.  Go here for information and to make reservations, and to order Mr. McGrath’s book if you wish.  Visit Brian Downey’s Behind Antietam on the Web for a recap of last year’s tour.








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