Turkey Break

25 11 2009

There won’t be much – if any – activity here for a while as I take a little holiday break.  Nope, no burnout.  I do have some posts to make, but won’t be able to get to them for a week or so.  Anyway, I try only to post when I a) have something to say and b) have the time.  This is a case of b.  When things break, I’ll finish four more posts on my Springfield trip, and hope to pick up the pace with Resources posts.  While I’m away from the blog, take some time to surf around it – go to the resources section; click on some of the tags in the tag cloud in the lower part of the right hand margin.  Also look for me in print in the upcoming Civil War Times magazine – I think I have a news item and a book review in there.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!





Manassas News

24 11 2009

Reader Keith Yoder sent these links (here and here) regarding preservation efforts/studies at Manassas National Battlefield Park.  The first summarizes the situation, and the second is a PDF document of the Prince William County study in question.  I think he may have sent me these as a result of some of the comments made to the Dress-Up post.  Check them out.





Rowland Ward

23 11 2009

A while back I ran this article explaining my tag line to the right (Dulce Bellum Inexpertis).  Today I received a message from Charles Mills, a descendant of the man pictured in that article.

Rowland Ward was my great-great-grandfather. Born in 1818 in Lincolnshire, England, he came to America as a young man and settled in Hunts Hollow, NY. This is just south of Letchworth State Park. He raised a family there. He enlisted in the NY 4th Heavy Artillery. Some of his early training took place on the Parade Grounds that still exist in the park. Assigned to Fort Ethan Allen, he helped man the heavy guns which protected Washington, DC. Grant reassigned many of these units to combat duty in the Spring of 1864. He was at the Battle of the Wilderness. After his massive injury at Reams Station, the Confederates initially captured him but gave him back to the Union medical people. He spent a year at Lincoln General Hospital before returning home. Remarkably, he lived until 1898 in Hunts Hollow. On a government pension, he outlived his first wife and remarried. Apparently he had some celebrity status in the area. We have photos of the reconstructive process. He grew a beard to cover the injury. I believe his food intake was limited to soft and liquid foods for the rest of his life. My grandfather had fond memories of him from his youth. He was able to verbally communicate to some extent. He had a lot of heart problems after the injury. He is buried in Hunts Hollow.

Thanks for the background on Rowland Ward.  One of the really gratifying things about writing this blog is hearing from kin of the folks discussed here. It’s nice to know that Ward’s story had a not so unhappy ending.   From page 150 of Photographic Atlas of Civil War Injuries, here are some images of Ward’s surgical progress (click on the image for a larger version – click the larger image for a ginormous one):

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Diary 7/22/1861 – Pvt. John Henry Cowin, Co. D, 5th AL

21 11 2009

Arose this morning very tired and sore, scarcely able to walk at first but after breakfast felt better and walked around to see what was to be seen after yesterdays fight.  I was witness to some awful scenes.  Saw the wounded, shot in every portion of their body, head, neck,, body, arms, hands, legs & feet.  Some with their limbs taken completely off.  Some have died since being brought here, others dying.  Wherever I walked the same spectacle presented itself.  Among them all I heard not a word of complaint and scarcely a groan.  From what can be ascertained we lost in killed and wounded between fifteen hundred and two thousand.  Went around to a large pen of prisoners.  There were four or five hundred in the pen I saw, and nearly all of them the lowest class of foreigners.  This afternoon, a portion of the cavalry brought in seventy five more of the wretches.  They were all marched off to the cars and sent to Richmond.  As one squad of thirty passed our tent to the cars one fellow spoke to us, saying “Good bye boys I left home to go to Richmond and by ——- I am going.["]  We learn to day that the 4th Ala Regt was not so badly cut up as was supposed.  There have not been more than forty or fifty killed.  Col Jones was not killed, but shot through both legs.  Genl Bee died this morning.  The Cavalry captured a large amount of baggage, ammunition &c.  We got one very large gun from them which they familiarly called “Long Tom”.  We got also a very fine ambulance, in which the medical staff were conveyed about.  They had every thing complete.  I suppose it was the best equipped army that ever started on a campaign.  Old Scott is a great fellow for having everything ready before he makes a move.  The small arms captured were the finest minnie muskets, which will be of great service to the army, as we are in need of more arms.  It has rained all day without ceasing, making it very disagreeable here, especially for those who have no tents, and a great many here have none.  The tents of the 4th Ala were left at Winchester.  Capts Porter King and Balls sleep with us tonight, making ten or twelve in a tent, but we can sleep very well, as we are not very particular how we sleep.

Source – G. Ward Hubbs, ed. Voices from Company D, pp 23-24





Diary 7/21/1861 – Pvt. John Henry Cowin, Co. D, 5th AL

20 11 2009

Slept cold last night as I had only a single blanket whi[ch] was too small to sleep upon and cover with at the same time, besides the night was colder than usual.  Arose quite early this morning and found we had orders to prepare to take up our line of march.  We got breakfast as soon as possible, which occupied but little time as we had only to stick a little piece of meat on a stick, hold it over the fire a minute or two and breakfast was ready.  Soon after eating we began to hear the booming of cannon, apparently about two or three miles off, which still continues it now being about 12 o’clock.  There seems to be fighting at two points, on the extreme left and centre.  We soon got ready and the regiment crossed the creek.  We crossed and recrossed several times before we got upon the regular march.  We however got straight after a while and had a forced march of eleven miles to the battle field.  It was indeed a battle and a bloody one.  We passed on in sight of one place where they were fighting but did not stop, as we were going to  the assistance of the 4th Ala Regt. which we heard was being terribly cut up.  On the march we met many wounded returning from the field.  We marched on to avenge the blood of those who had fought so gallantly.  We witnessed sights we had never seen before.  The horrors of a battle field.  As we marched in sight the cowardly villains were retreating, we could see their guns glittering among the bushes as they moved off.  We heard that the 4th Ala was surrounded at one time by the overwhelming forces of the enemy, and cut up terribly.  General Bee was badly wounded.  Heard that Col Jones was killed, Lieut Col Law and Major Scott badly wounded.  Syd May was in the fight but came off unhurt.  It is said that the enemy came up with a Confederate flag, and our men thinking they were friends did not fire upon them, but as soon as they got within an hundred and fifty yards of our troops, turned loose both artillery and musketry, mowing them down like grass before a scythe.  It was the bloodiest battle ever fought on the continent.  We lost a great many in killed and wounded.  Their loss was tremendous.  The enemy were completely routed, losing fifty pieces of artillery, ten thousand stands of arms and a great many prisoners.  The Virginians did excellent fighting.  They charged their famous Shermans battery.  The Cavalry pursued the enemy under the command of President Davis in person.  The number of killed cannot yet be accurately ascertained.  Both sides lost heavily.  It is said that the enemy lost at the lowest calculation between four and five thousand in killed and wounded.  To night we have orders to march back to our bivouack.  Squire Griggs[,] Joe Grigg, and myself came to Manassas Junction to see Father, who is here with the baggage.  We found him well, but very uneasy as he was confident that we were in the fight.

Source – G. Ward Hubbs, ed. Voices from Company D, pp 22-23





Dress-Up

20 11 2009

Kevin Levin has posted this article over at Civil War Memory.  I have no dog in this fight: I am not nor have I ever been a re-enactor or “living historian”, whatever that means.  And I don’t attend – purposely, anyway – re-enactments.  I was vaguely planning to be in the area for the 150th anniversary of the battle, in part because I’ve been considering joining the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and friend Robert Moore tells me the national convention of that organization is planned for 2011 in Manassas.  $350,000 ($100,000 from Manassas, $250,000 from the State of Virginia) seems like a lot of scratch, even in these times when government dollars are basically Monopoly money.





Diary 7/20/1861 – Pvt. John Henry Cowin, Co. D, 5th AL

19 11 2009

Slept finely last night although it rained, of which however I was not aware until this morning.  Brother was on guard last night and this morning is a little unwell.  Hard at work this morning throwing up breastworks along the creek bank[.]  Expecting an attack all the while and we are preparing for it. We do not expect to leave here without a fight.  We have orders from Genl Beauregard to prevent a crossing of the enemy at all and every hazard.  He says our stand at Farrs Cross Roads was worth seventy five thousand dollars to our side, for it was a perfect ruse, the enemy thinking we had nothing to fall back upon, and was the cause of our victory.  The weather is quite warm today, but we got along very well with our work, as we are divided into platoons and work alternately, so that it is comparatively easy upon us.  We finished as we thought, about dinner time, and a good work it is, certainly bullet proof, as we have rock and railroad iron in it, we are now ready for the enemy.  After finishing work we fell afoul our fat meat and crackers and eat as none but hungry men do.  Did not enjoy my dinner as much as I wished to, for some thief stole my tin cup, after I had strapped it neatly to my canteen and thought it all safe.  I am sorry to know that there are rogues in our regiment.  After dinner the boys all stretched themselves out upon the ground for a nap, but soon we heard them calling out for the men to fall in to go to work again.  Some were already asleep and when the order came, they got lazily up rubbing their eyes and cursing the yankees and their luck.  There is no use swearing about work for we have it to do, and the sooner we do it the better for us.  We worked till night and made the works doubly as strong as they were before dinner.  Do not think the Yankees could shoot a cannon ball through them now.  The Yankees have been burying their dead all day.  Nine hundred and fifty of them are missing, and a large number wounded.  There are however so many reports in circulation, that it is hard to get the truth of any thing.  It is now reported that we will have to advance upon the enemy tomorrow.  How true it is no one knows but the officers.  I do not mean our officers, for they do not know any more than the privates, some of them not so much.  Capt Hobson is unwell today, and has been lying under the shade of a tree all day.  It is amusing to see us cooking our meals down here on the creek, we however enjoy it as well as if we were in camp. 

Source – G. Ward Hubbs, ed. Voices from Company D, pp 21-22








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