CWPT Website

17 11 2009

The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) has resource pages for various battles, including First Bull Run here.  There’s some pretty cool stuff there, including a link to a video tour by R. E. L. Krick, and also one to Bull Runnings.  Check it out.





Diary 7/17/1861 – Pvt. John Henry Cowin, Co. D, 5th AL

14 11 2009

[Describing withdrawal from Fairfax Court House.]

After all the hustle and stir last night, no yankees came, but on the contrary every thing went on as ever, and I believe more so, for every one kept as still as possible, listening for the expected account.  This morning we heard firing out toward the pickets and all around the country.  about eight o’clock a couple of scouts came in at full speed, one having a yankee behind him captured by the pickets.  The regiment was immediately put in order of battle and marched down to the breastwork.  Tents were struck and the wagons loaded.  Father who was unable to walk, mounted a wagon horse and went off with the baggage.  Where we got to the breastworks Capt. Shelly’s Company was sent out as skirmishers, and soon we heard them open fire upon the enemy.  The firing was kept up for about an hour.  The balls whistling over our heads, I have often heard of balls whistling around a fellows head, but never knew what tune they played until this morning.  They came thick and fast, some falling within a few feet of us.  The pickets were driven in, but they came in orderly, displaying great coolness and bravery.  They fired each three or four rounds.  We remained at the breastworks about an hour and a half.  The pickets killed some ten or fifteen of the enemy.  We had only two men wounded, they very slightly.  One a member of the Warrior Guards (Tarrant) shot through the leg.  The other of Capt. Shelley’s company, having a portion of his ear shot away.  They came upon us with a large force and tried to flank us, and would have succeeded had we not received orders from the commanding general to retreat.  I think Col. Rodes intended to give them a fight, but had to obey the orders to retreat.  We left our breastworks with great reluctance, for there was all our work to be abandoned to the enemy without a fight.  The pickets from our company who were attacked were Jim Locke, Wm. Kennedy, George Nutting, John & Joe Wright.  They all got safely into Camp.  We left the breastworks and marched slowly and in order down the Centreville road.  The day was intensely warm, but we had to march ahead to avoid being flanked, as the enemy were pressing forward with great rapidity.  We marched eleven miles to Bull Run, where we met two Mississippi regiments, one South Carolina regiment and the Washington Artillery.  Here I found Father, who was much rejoiced to see us safe and well.  A good many broke down on the march.  Brother broke down, but managed to get a ride behind some one and came on safely.  I think one could have followed up our retreat and gathered at least two wagon loads of clothing, knapsacks &c, which the boys had thrown away.  A good many have now no clothing at all, not even a blanket.  We only remained at Bull Run about two hours, when we took up our line of march to a place called Union Mills, a distance of three miles.  We arrived there shortly after sunset, stacked arms, made fires, and dried our selves, as we had to ford creeks on the march.  Feel like I can do some sleeping tonight, as I did not have an opportunity last night.

Source – G. Ward Hubbs, ed. Voices from Company D, pp 19-20





Good Job, True Blood Writers!

13 11 2009

Bill

I was watching an older episode of HBO’s True Blood series in which Bill Compton, aka Vampire Bill, was addressing a historical society.  He mentioned that he served during the Civil War (remember, he’s a vampire) in the 28th Louisiana Infantry, formed in 1862 under a Colonel Gray.  Later in the episode, he recalled making his way back home to Bon Temps, when he stopped by a cabin in the woods.  The female occupant informed Bill, before turning him into a vampire of course, that her husband was a member of the 13th Louisiana and had fought at Shiloh under Colonel Gibson.  What’s so cool about this?  Well, other than Bill being a vampire and all, it’s historically accurate.  The 28th was raised in 1862 under Colonel Gray (keep in mind there were two 28th LA regiments), and the 13th did fight at Shiloh under Colonel Gibson (who I think was actually in command of his brigade there).  Nice going, guys!  Now, about the yellow trim on Bill’s uniform jacket…

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Not So Exciting After All

9 11 2009

RichardsonI was excited.  Author Jack C. Mason had discovered a hundred or so letters written by Israel B. Richardson – mortally wounded as a major-general at Antietam and a colonel and brigade commander in Daniel Tyler’s division at First Bull Run – and used them to produce Until Antietam: The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U. S. Army.  Great – fair usage would allow me to add to the resources section Richardson’s letters pertaining to Blackburn’s Ford and Bull Run.  After a long wait for the publication, I ordered the book from Amazon and received it last week.  The book is 202 pages of text, and in addition to other sources used Richardson’s unpublished letters as a basis for a full biography.  But silly me, I assumed by something in the title (oh, I don’t know, maybe the Life AND LETTERS part?) that the letters were included.  Sadly they are not.  This may be a kick-ass biography (I don’t know, I haven’t read it yet), but it is not a Life and Letters book.  Oh well, you live and learn

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Springfield, IL: Part III – Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices

8 11 2009

On Saturday, Oct. 10 this year my family and I visited the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices in Springfield, IL (see overview of the trip here).  After our tour of the Abraham Lincoln Home National Historic Site, we headed to 6th and Adams Streets where the offices are located across Adams from the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln served in the legislature.  It was pretty cool to realize how closely these three critical Lincoln sites are situated to one another.  Adams St. from 6th to 5th is closed off into one of those urban malls that were all the rage in the 1970s.  Unlike most of those, however, this one seems to work, probably due to the tourist factor.

The law offices are maintained by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, and for now, at least, it is open on Saturday.  The building is three stories, and when Lincoln had offices there from 1843 to 1852 with first Stephen Logan and later William Herndon, they were located on the third floor.  Exactly where is not certain, but it is believed they were on the 6th St. side, two floors above the Post Office – the left end of the building in the first image below.  The building in Lincoln’s day extended further up Adams, but that part of it was demolished later, so it is possible that the actual space occupied by Lincoln’s offices is gone.

DSCN0973 DSCN0854 DSCN0847 DSCN0846

Our tour began on the first floor, where we heard some of the story of the building’s use and learned a little about the post office.

DSCN0921  DSCN0923 DSCN0924

The Federal court and offices were located on the second floor.  The old Capitol can be seen out the window of the courtroom in the front of the building.

DSCN0925 DSCN0926 DSCN0927  DSCN0929 DSCN0930 DSCN0931 DSCN0932

Then to the third floor, which has a recreation of the Lincoln-Herndon office as described by Herndon, but set up in the front of the building.  Two long tables were arranged in a “T”, and a couch representing a custom seven-footer upon which Lincoln would lounge to read the paper each morning sat in a corner.  The room in the last picture is where the office was more likely located, in the rear above the Post Office.

DSCN0933 DSCN0934 DSCN0935 

The Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices is a must-see, despite some questions about where the actual office was located.

Part I

Part II

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

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W. C. Tunstall, Co. D, 5th AL

7 11 2009

Reader Maxwell Elebash of Tuscaloosa, AL provided this letter written by his ancestor, and wrote the below biographical sketch:

Wiley Croom Tunstall was born 16 Dec. 1839 in Greensboro, AL (then Greene County but now Hale). His parents were Dr. James L. Tunstall of King William Co. VA and Eliza Ann Croom. He married Augusta Elizabeth Hobson (sister of Edwin L. Hobson of 5th Alabama) 10 Dec. 1862. They had five children. I am descended from their daughter Cammie Tunstall.

Wiley attended the University of Alabama and also Hampden-Sydney College. Post war he was a cotton planter in Hale County, member of the Alabama Legislature and served as Railroad Commissioner 1885-1895. He died in Anniston, AL 8 Aug. 1916 and is buried in Greensboro Cemetery.

Interestingly one of his wife’s sisters was married to Sydenham Moore, Col. of the 11th Alabama Inf. was MWIA at Seven Pines. Her mother was a sister of Lt. Col. John Clarke Mounger of the 9th Georgia Infantry KIA at Gettysburg attacking the Wheatfield on day two. One of Mounger’s sons was killed at Chancellorsville (14th Georgia Inf.) and the remaining two were killed in the Wilderness (8th Georgia Inf.).

Per G. Ward Hughes (ed.), Voices from Company D: Diaries by the Greensboro Guards, Fifth Alabama Infantry Regiment, Army of Northern Virginia:

Tunstall, Wiley C. (c. 1840, Alabama-1916).  In 1860 living with his mother, who reported $40,000 in real estate and $90,000 in personal estate, including eighty-six slaves; enlisted April 25, 1861, in Greensboro; third lieutenant in April 1862; resigned in October, 1862, citing chronic diarrhea; in 1880 married with five children.

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W. C. Tunstall, Co. D, 5th AL on the Aftermath of the Battle

7 11 2009

Union Mills Aug. 6th, 1861

Dear Mother,

I received your letter a few days since by Uncle Herndon.  That is yours and Bettie combined.  I was very glad to hear that you all had heard that we were not killed.  We were not in the battle.  I wrote you a letter after the Battle on the 18th & the one on the 21st also.  The last letter I wrote you I gave you a minute description of our maneuvering on that day, also an account of our retreat from Farrs X Roads, which letter I suppose you have received some time ago.  I suppose you all were very much distressed in Greensboro about our Company.  I was very glad to hear through Uncle H. that you were not kept in suspense but one day when you received the intelligence that the 5th Reg. was not in the Battle.  I rode over the battle field on Sunday.  It was truly a sad scene to witness the many graves scattered over the field of our brave and gallant men.  I saw where different officers of high rank fell.  The places being marked out by posts being driven down and names of the officers inscribed upon them.  There were a great many dead horses lying on the field but all of the dead were [line illegible] on our side.  There were so many Yankees that it was impossible for us to bury them very decently.  Sometimes they would bury 40 or 50 in one grave.  I understand from men that visited the battle Field the day after the battle that the whole field was covered with dead bodies.  Sometimes you would see them lying in large heaps on different spots.  The Yankees carried off their dead and wounded up to 3 o’clock in the evening.  The cars were brought out near the field and they were sent back to Alexandria.  We have not been able to find out the exact loss on both sides but the [line illegible] yet I think is from Russell the correspondent of the London Times.  He was in Alexandria and Washington when the enemy retreated and afterwards came to Richmond.  His estimate of loss is between 4 & 5000 killed & wounded on our side and between 10 and 12000 on the Yankees.  We are stationed at Union Mills in a very healthy place about 4 miles from Manassas Junction.  We are all doing very well.  We have fine water and plenty of it to drink and plenty to eat.  Although the fare is rather rough we are willing to submit to much greater privations and hardships to serve our Country in this great and grand cause.  I do not think we will have any fighting soon as…

Letter provided and transcribed by Tunstall descendent Maxwell Elebash of Tuscaloosa, AL.

Meta

Notes

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Irvin McDowell in America’s Civil War Magazine

4 11 2009

mcdowellThe January 2010 issue of America’s Civil War magazine features an article by author and fellow blogger Michael Hardy, Irvin McDowell: The Most Unpopular Man in America.  Let me start by saying that Mr. Hardy is a fine writer, and this article is a good read.  Not a lot gets written about McDowell (see here), and anything that starts a discussion of the man is a good thing.  However, since some of the opinions or characterizations in the article are generally at odds with my own as stated here on several occasions, I think I’m obliged to address them.  I’ll add that I’m at odds with just about everybody over these issues, not just Mr. Hardy.

I: McDowell’s Rank

Mr. Hardy writes that McDowell’s promotion to brigadier general displeased Winfield Scott; that Scott would have preferred the promotion went to Joseph Mansfield, and that Mansfield held a rank superior to McDowell.  All-in-all, these facts are true, but their juxtaposition implies that Scott’s objection was born strictly of preference.  As I pointed out here, rank and seniority weren’t the most important things in the antebellum army – they were the only things.  As a 1st lieutenant and brevet major who never had a field command, McDowell was very low on the army’s totem pole.  Mansfield, for example, had been a full colonel since 1853.  I think Scott’s problems with McDowell’s elevation make a little more sense in light of this fact.

II: McDowell’s Connections

Mr. Hardy also writes that in the early days of the Lincoln administration, McDowell “quickly impressed Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, a fellow Ohioan.”  As I discussed here, I’m not sure that this “impression” was as serendipitous as is generally assumed.  McDowell’s grandfather was a politico in Kentucky, his father had been mayor of Columbus, and McDowell himself had attended the U. S. Military Academy, indicating some political influence or connection.  As Mr. Hardy points out, McDowell was also a cousin by marriage of Ohio Governor William Dennison.  Later, McDowell would take an active role in preparations for the marriage of Chase’s daughter Kate to Rhode Island Governor William Sprague, and later still Ohioan James Garfield would name a son after McDowell.  I think pre-war political connections and the role they may have played in McDowell’s meteoric rise in 1861 need to be examined more closely.

III: McDowell’s Plan

This is the big one.  Mr. Hardy, like most every other person who has written about First Bull Run before him, casts McDowell in the passive role of a man whose plans were undone by circumstances beyond his control:

But the key to McDowell’s plan was out of his hands.  Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston had 11,000 men in the Shenandoah Valley.  Union Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson and his 15,000 man army stationed near Harpers Ferry would have to prevent Johnston from reinforcing the Confederates at Manassas.  A Federal victory depended on Patterson’s success in the Valley.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that this summary of McDowell’s plan is one with which I disagree vehemently.  The reason for its amazing staying power in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary can be found in the various testimonies before the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War and in the Committee’s report (find it all here).  “What?”, you ask, “Are you saying Johnston’s arrival did not spell defeat for the Federal forces?”  No, what I’m saying is that McDowell’s plan, while assuming Patterson’s success, did not depend on it; because, as I explained here, the plan also assumed that all available CSA forces would be forwarded to the Bull Run line, bringing the force there to 35,000 troops.  That’s maybe a little more than McDowell actually wound up facing, including Johnston.  (In addition, after reading McDowell’s plan you’ll see that it neither anticipated nor depended on celerity as attendant to success.)

These issues aside, I think the article is good and raises some interesting points.  Check it out.

Photo from this site.

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Three Years Blogging

3 11 2009

I started this thing on Nov. 2, 2006.  Now it’s three years later, and I’ve made 759 posts, including 256 entries in the resources section.  The blog has received 172,496 WordPress hits, basically doubling the previous year each year – this year so far I’ve received 89,500 hits, and will probably get about 107,000 or so by the end of the calendar year.  In contrast, I received about 52, 200 hits in 2008.  Last month I topped 10,000 hits in a month for the first time, and in October 2008 I set a then record of 4,825.  My busiest day was this past August 31, when I had 728 visitors thanks to the late Rolling Stone Brian Jones being in the news and lots of folks looking for an image of his tombstone, one of which (from findagrave.com) graces this post.  So the growth has been slow but steady.  Huffington and Malkin have nothing to fear, but I’m happy with the way things are going.

This past year I also jumped into social networking with Facebook.  I registered the blog there with the Networked Blogs application on Facebook and have 93 followers that way.  I’ve also added links to the bottom of selected posts to make it easier for readers to share my posts via different sites if they’re so inclined.

As for posts, …but I know what I like is still in the all-time lead with 4,171 views (none of these numbers include feed readers).  1862 Photos of Bull Run is a distant second with 3,212.  The most viewed post written this year has been Civil War Art – Howard Pyle with 711, followed closely by Civil War Art – N. C. Wyeth with 686.  Seems like a theme.

Over the past few weeks I’ve strayed from the central theme of this blog, but I’ll get back to posting primary Bull Run material soon.

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National Geographic Atlas of the Civil War

2 11 2009

AtlasI recently received a review copy of the National Geographic Atlas of the Civil War by Neil Kagan and Stephen G. Hyslop.  Billed as A Comprehensive Guide to the Tactics and Terrain of Battle, this atlas presents a chronological account of the war using more than 80 archival maps as well as about three dozen original battle maps created using satellite data.  The archival maps are not limited to those of battles and campaigns but include maps of rail lines, slave populations, fortifications, and more.  The book is copiously illustrated with hundreds of photographs and drawings.  Personally, I don’t have much use for comprehensive atlases, and find that when I do consult them I can usually find what I want in the Atlas to the Official Records and the West Point Atlas, and for detail you can’t beat the numerous online map collections.  This National Geographic Atlas is a beautiful, glossy, coffee table book, more for the casual Civil War enthusiast or beginner, but full of tidbits of interest to all levels.  Not a must have, but very nice for what it is.

Thanks to John McFeely of National Geographic.

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