Hains Related Questions Answered?

24 06 2013
Hains Gun

Illustration from 1911 Cosmopolitan article

As I’ve no doubt mentioned before, I’ve been s-l-o-w-l-y annotating a 1911 Cosmopolitan article written by Peter Conover Hains, The First Gun at Bull Run. Fresh out of West Point, at First Bull Run Lieutenant Hains was in command of a 30-pdr Parrott rifle, detached from Company G of the 1st U. S. Artillery. The gun, generally referred to as Long Tom, was chosen to fire the opening shot of the battle of July 21st, and did so right around 6 A. M. (accounts of the precise time vary.) While just about every study of the battle written after 1911 relies to varying degrees on Hains’s memoir, there’s a lot wrong with it; some things just don’t jive with the facts. So I’ve decided to not take anything Hains writes in this piece at face value. Including this:

I was assigned to train a gun-crew over at what is now known as Fort Meyer, Virginia, just across the river from Washington.  It was a great gun – a thirty-pounder Parrott rifle,  drawn by ten horses as green as could be, horses from the farm that had not been trained even to pull together.  There were five riders or drivers, one man to each pair, and six men rode the caisson and limber as cannoneers.  Two wagons followed, carrying the ammunition.   Some two hundred men were attached to the gun to escort it, to help it along, and to render whatever aid I needed.  In all two hundred and fifty men filed out with the gun in July when I received orders to report to General Tyler  at Alexandria, Virginia.

Two hundred men attached as escort? Why so darn many? Well, it’s not as odd as it may sound, all things considered:

We sallied forth.  The roads promised much, and at first the gun behaved very well indeed.  But we soon came to a hill.  The ten horses threw themselves into their collars.  The gun started up a bit, then the pace slowed, paused, and – then the giant gun began slowly to drift backward down the grade.  We quickly blocked the wheels , and there were no brakes.  I rode up and down the line, cheering on the men.  The drivers yelled, and lashed their horses; the ten animals strained and tugged – but the gun remained motionless.

“Get out the prolonges ,” I ordered, and these lines, of about three-inch rope and knotted together to about a hundred feet in length, were quickly hooked to the axle of the gun. Two hundred men instantly trailed onto them.  With wild yells and cheers they started that gun forward, the ten horses and two hundred men soon dragging it upward to the crest.  It was great.  And most of us were very young indeed.

That makes sense. But, who were these 200 men (though I can’t figure out how you get 200 men to pull on a 100 foot rope)? It’s likely they were infantry. So, from what regiments were they detached? I’ve been keeping an eye out in letters for some mention of the detachment here and there of small groups, or even one or two large ones. But I did stumble across one reference, in Alan Gaff’s history of the 2nd Wisconsin at First Bull Run, If This is War pp. 186-187:

Captain Ayres’ battery unlimbered well in front of Captain Stevens’ Company A behind a screen of bushes and trees, while the thirty-pound Parrott rifled cannon, manned by a detachment under Lieutenant Peter C. Hains, was positioned right in the road. The Parrott gun had proved to be almost impossible to manage, requiring large detachments of horses and men to manhandle it over the hills and valleys. While the Wisconsin regiment occupied the position in support of the artillery, Lieutenant Tom Bishop and thirty men from Company I were detailed to assist Hains and did not serve with the main body during the remainder of the day.

Image of 30-pdr blatantly stolen from http://markerhunter.wordpress.com/

Image of 30-pdr blatantly stolen from http://markerhunter.wordpress.com/

Gaff cites the Daily Wisconsin 8/21/1861; Milwaukee Sentinel 7/30/1861; Wisconsin State Journal 7/30/1861; Mineral Point Tribune, 8/6/1861; a letter in a manuscript collection; and Tyler’s report (which doesn’t mention the detachment) for the above. I’ll try to find the two newspaper letters, maybe in the Quiner Collection. But it would appear that detachments of infantry were assigned to assist Hains at various points. But in the case of the 2nd WI, it was as support.

Also in If This is War I found a reference to another nickname for the 30-pdr Parrott, The Baby-Waker. I first heard the term during a tour years ago, but haven’t run across any other use except for this in Gaff, p. 187:

“At precisely 6 o’clock” Lieutenant Hains ordered his gunners to fire the monster Parrott rifle, dubbed “President Lincoln’s Baby-waker” by the Badgers.

The sources for the above paragraph are the Wisconsin State Journal of July 30, 1861 and the Milwaukee Sentinel of the same date, and a letter in a manuscript collection. More work to do!

UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Soffe, who hosts a great site on First Bull Run, contributes the following:

Two companies of the 11th Massachusetts Infantry, under the command of Captain J H Davis, Company B, were assigned to escort Hains on the march to Centreville on 16 July, 1861.

[This is from] A Narrative of the Formation and Services of the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers, from 15 April, 1861, to 14 July, 1865, by Gustavus B Hutchinson [p. 22]

“When the regiment arrived at the road leading to Fairfax, Companies A and G were left, under the command of Capt. Davis, to escort a detachment having in charge a thirty-pound Parrott gun, which, on account of the bad road, they were unable to bring up until the next morning.”





First Bull Run Orders of Battle

23 02 2012

Just a reminder: the Orders of Battle (OOB) in the Resources section of this site are maps to most of the primary data on this site. If you’re looking for info on a particular unit, find them on the OOB, and if there is anything on the site for them you’ll find the links. There are some mistakes in my OOBs that I haven’t got around to fixing yet – spelling, first names and such for the most part. I plan to have pages for each command at some point, with a deeper roster of officers to company level, unit histories, etc. But my friend across the pond Jonathan Soffe has a great resource at Firstbullrun.com. Be sure to check it out and verify info you may find here. If you discover we are at odds, let me know.





‘Lil Help Here!

9 12 2011

Jonathan Soffe, who maintains a fine Order of Battle website on First Bull Run, is looking for some information – particularly service records – on the following units to complete his work on Camp Pickens:

  • 5th Regiment militia (Culpeper County)
  • 155th Regiment militia (Greene County)
  • 44th Regiment militia (Fauquier County)
  • 85th Regiment militia (Fauquier County)
  • 60th Regiment militia (Fairfax County)
  • 82nd Regiment militia (Madison County)
  • 36th Regiment militia (Prince William County)

Respond in the comments section to this post if you can help Jonathan out.





Notes to Crescent Blues/Schaeffer’s Battalion

19 11 2011

This newspaper article (and this one, and this one, too) about a New Orleans company known as the Crescent Blues was a bit of an eye-opener for me. I didn’t have them listed on my Confederate Order of Battle, nor could I find them on any other OOBs in my collection. In fact the only place I could locate them, along with the rest of Schaeffer’s Battalion, was on Jonathan Soffe’s fine First Bull Run.com. See here. A. W. seems to be very prescient in his prediction that independent companies would find difficulty “winning laurels.”

It’s a little confusing, as W. F. Amann’s Personnel of the Civil War, Vol I, the Confedrate Armies lists both a Crescent Blues and a Crescent City Blues. By various accounts, the company was assigned the 49th VA Infantry for one month in September 1861; as sharpshooters to Company C of the Washington Artillery in October 1861; and Art Bergeron’s Guide to Louisiana Confederate Military Units 1861-1865 shows that McGavock Goodwyn ended the war as Lt. Colonel of the 15th Louisiana Infantry, of which Company B of the Crescent City Blues was Co. K.

I’m sure we’ll get this straightened out eventually.

I sent this clipping to Jim Burgess at MNBP, and got this response:

Schaeffer was attached to Cocke’s Brigade and they were positioned along Bull Run to the left of the 19th Virginia’s rifle pits above Lewis Ford. As the article states, they supported a section of Captain Latham’s battery but they were also in supporting distance of Lt. Heaton’s section of Roger’s Battery.   The article provides more details on their participation than I’ve seen before.  I was not aware a portion of the battalion joined Kershaw.  Nor was I aware of Schaeffer’s conduct which brought about the COI.

We are well aware of the duel between Captain White of the Tiger Rifles and Captain McCausland of Evans’ staff.  The duel took place on the grounds of the Pittsylvania plantation.      The cause of the quarrel is not entirely clear.   I suspect it was related to the movement of White’s company from Pittsylvania, where they had been initially deployed as skirmishers, to Matthews Hill, where they emerged in front of the skirmishers of the 4th S.C. and received (and returned) friendly fire.   White is believed to have accused McCausland of not delivering an order from Evans.  McCausland felt a need to defend his honor and challenged White.   Given the choice of weapons, White opted for the .54 caliber, M1841 “Mississippi” rifles with which his company was armed.  McCausland was mortally wounded in the duel and subsequently died at Pittsylvania.

Anyone with a line on the transcript or a summary of the Schaeffer court of inquiry (COI), please let me know.

Today, Crescent City Blues is perhaps best known as the smoky tune that would eventually become Folsom Prison Blues:





Stuff

3 08 2011

Here’s what’s in store, I think.

I want to fix up my OOBs. There are some errors, and I’d like to finally get around to incorporating Jonathan Soffe’s company level stuff as we discussed a long time ago.

I plan to focus more on posting to the resources section. I let things get away from me in that regard for way too long.

More good stuff coming up!





What If…Spartacus Had a Piper Cub?

13 09 2010

Jonathan Soffe has this interesting item, raising the question: What if McDowell had an observation balloon at Bull Run?





Books, Trips, Letters, Apologies

5 10 2009

I’ve updated a number of links on my Books and Articles On-Line page that were rendered useless by the demise of Microsoft’s book digitization project.  If you run across any digitized versions of Bull Run related books or articles not on my list, please let me know and I’ll get them posted.

My family is taking me on a trip to Springfield, IL for my birthday coming up in November (the birthday is in November, the trip is not that far away).  We’ll be gone a few days, and I don’t anticipate making any posts during that period (blogging on a sight-seeing trip doesn’t appeal to me; blogging on a sit-on-your-butt trip is a different story).  I should have plenty of photos to post when I get back, and Mike over at the The Abraham Lincoln Observer (my favorite among a sea of Lincoln blogs) has been kind enough to send me some tips for the trip.  In the main, I plan to visit the ALPMuseum (the library will be closed), his home, the tomb, and drive to New Salem.  There are also some other oddball sights I’d like to hit, like the funeral museum Andrew Ferguson visited in Land of Lincoln (oops, reading Mike’s tips I see that museum has folded).  If you haven’t read that book yet, you should: it’s a hoot.

If work permits, this week I hope to post the letter from the member of Company D, 5th AL I talked about here, along with some related material.  The generous reader who shared the letter has been unable to look again at the original to get two missing lines, and has given me the go-ahead to post the letters without them.  When he does get the missing lines, I’ll amend the letter at that time.

I’ve also got a number of other letters to post, and need to apologize to many folks who have been kind enough to take the time to pass them on.  Friend Mike Peters has sent me a number of New York soldiers letters published in various newspapers, friend Terry Johnston has sent me some good stuff on the 79th NY Highlanders, friend Eric Wittenberg sent me a letter concerning Hampton’s Legion, and of course I have all that Brent Nosworthy material to wade through.  I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I have planned for the resources section.  Let’s hope I live long enough to make a dent.

Also keep an eye on what Jonathan Soffe is doing over at First Bull Run.com.  Cool stuff that he has graciously allowed me to use when I get around to writing my unit biographies.





Housekeeping

17 09 2009

Just a few items to get on the record before I head to Sharpsburg for a couple of days.  I’m driving down tomorrow and bumming around the field a bit, and staying at a friend’s home Friday night.  I have a Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF) board meeting on Saturday morning, and the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association (SBPA) river crossing and picnic in the afternoon.  Then it’s north to Gettysburg Saturday night and a little time on the field on Sunday before heading home.  Hopefully I’ll have some photos to post next week, but I’m notoriously slow about that stuff.

My e-quaintance from across the pond, Johnathan Soffe of First Bull Run.com, has a new feature he’s working on – listing sources to verify the presence of various Confederate companies and organizations on the field at Bull Run.  This could lead to a more accurate accounting of Confederate troops.  Check out his first attempt on the 1st VA Cavalry here: scroll down to “download pdf” at the bottom of the right hand column.

I’ve been contacted by a descendant of a member of the 5th Alabama who has sent me an interesting letter by him describing the battlefield of First Bull Run shortly after the battle.  The letter is in his family’s possession and has never been published.  It so happens that his ancestor was a member of the Greensboro Guards, designated Company D of the 5th.  A very nice collection of Company D diaries published as Voices from Company D, edited by G. Ward Hubbs, has some Bull Run material and the letter writer’s descendant is working on putting together some biographical information on his ancestor, so I think I’ll make a series of posts out of these.

With that of Montgomery Meigs I’ve finished posting the Bull Run testimony before the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War.  I hope you’ve been reading on order, because that way you can see how the committee are building their cases and singling out their scapegoats – very interesting stuff.  I’ve separated the testimonies in the index by Patterson’s and McDowell’s commands, but think I’ll go back and number them sequentially so future readers can peruse them in order if they choose.

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First Bull Run.com

10 05 2009

Jonathan Soffe’s First Bull Run site (a great resource for company level OOB’s) has been down for a little while, but is back with a new address:

http://firstbullrun.co.uk





LINKS

12 03 2009

CIVIL WAR BLOGROLL








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