Bull Run Images for Sale

31 01 2010

Here’s a link to a nice CDV of a veteran of the First Massachusetts wounded at First Bull Run, John Baxter.  Per www.henrydeeks.com, Baxter was wounded in the left thigh on July 21, 1861.  It can be yours for $150.

Also available here on the same site is this image of New York Congressman Alfred Ely, taken prisoner at Bull Run (I wrote a little bit about it here).  Price is $85.

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Gruesome Yard Sale

17 01 2010

I received the following from John Hennessy this evening.  Like him, this is something I’ve never heard of before.  The 12th Alabama was not attached to Ewell’s brigade until after the battle.  Your comments are encouraged.

Here’s a little thing that falls into the realm of the obscure and the  bizarre.  The letter is from When I Think of Home: The Civil War  Letters of William Harrison “Tip” Crow, ed. by Dewayne R. Welborn, Owasso, OK, 1996.  page 17-18.  Letter to his father, August 24, 1861,  from Manassas.   Crow was in the 12th Alabama.

Dear Father

there has been something else come up of which I wish to inform you I wrote you a letter yester day but every hour here brings up something new   Order issued by the Colonel that the clothes of the dead men to be sold   Thomas’ showel [shawl] and coat have to be put  up at the highest bidder and sold and if it had not been just eh kindness of our Captain [Higgins] his shirts would have been sold  he had to give them in according to the order but he did not and told me to keep them    I wanted the showel and I in tend to have it as I will make some man pay 12 dollars for it    I here some of them talking about biding for it but I dont [want] any body els shal have his things to stroe about….Lem is going to get hte coat   this is one thing that hurts me to think Tom and I have always been to gether and have been like brothers and now I have to pay a big price to get his things….  I do think we have the most tiranical officers at the head of this Regiment that ever men were under but you [know] that it won’t do to say any thing    experienced me that have been in the service before say they never heard of dead men’s clothes being sold before….

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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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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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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!





Daniel Webster Littlefield

3 08 2009

Steve Soper over at Third Michigan Infantry Research Project has put up a biography of Daniel Webster Littlefield, who was present with the regiment at First Bull Run.  The post includes a letter from Littlefield that covers July 11-21, 1861.  I’m trying to get permission to include the letter and bio here as part of the resources, but am having some trouble getting in touch with Steve.  Check out his blog, which showcases a growing database of biographical information on members of the regiment.





Henry W. Kingsbury

1 08 2009

Perhaps best known for his death at 26 while leading his 11th CT at the lower bridge at Antietam, in July 1861 Henry Walter Kingsbury was an aide to Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell.  Keep in mind that there were two West Point classes of 1861, the first of which graduated after five years, the second after four.

Thanks to Brian Downey for sending me a link to an article on Kingsbury in Military Images magazine.  Go here to read it.  Various cool tidbits in there.  After Kingsbury’s father’s death in 1856, Simon Buckner and Ambrose Burnside became young Henry’s legal guardians.  Henry’s command was part of Burnside’s 9th Corps at Antietam, and the General visited him at his deathbed.  Also Confederate general David R. “Neighbor” Jones was Henry’s brother-in-law (I need to check out these in-law connections a little more).  After Antietam Jones developed a serious heart condition from which he never recovered, and he died on January 15, 1863.  Some have said his illness was brought on by distress caused by the knowledge that it was against his own division Kingsbury was fighting when he received his wounds.  Jones commanded a brigade in Beauregard’s army at Bull Run.

This article was originally published on 3/21/2007, as part of the Henry Walter Kingsbury biographical sketch.





Nathan G. Evans

1 08 2009

Colonel Nathan “Shanks” Evans commanded the Seventh Brigade in Beauregard’s Army of the Potomac at Bull Run.  His command is often referred to as a demi-brigade due to its size: it consisted of one full regiment, the 4th SC, Wheat’s 1st Special Louisiana Battalion, Alexander’s and Terry’s troops of the 30th VA Cavalry, and one section of Latham’s battery.  All told, he had about 1,100 infantrymen with him on the far left of the Confederate line on the morning of July 21, 1861.  But what he managed to do with those men made him, for a time, a hero. 

Using the advantages of terrain, Evans managed to hold back Burnside’s men until reinforced by Bee and Bartow, which in turn gave Johnston and Beauregard time to send much of their widespread and late arriving manpower to Henry Hill.  He would follow up this success later in the year with a victory as the commander of the Confederate forces engaged at Ball’s Bluff, also known as the Battle of Leesburg.  That action would earn him the thanks of the Confederate Congress.

 But today Evans is probably best known not for his military achievments early in the war, but rather for his “barellita”, a one gallon jug of whiskey carried by an aide that accompanied him in camp and field.  His reputation as a hard drinker dogged him throughout his Confederate career, and perhaps played a role in his slow promotion and a series of transfers that earned his men the sobriquet of “The Tramp Brigade”.  He would end the war without a command and in relative obscurity.

Evans’s penchant for drink was a widely held impression from early on.  In a letter to his mother written 10/18/1861, Longstreet staffer T. J. Goree wrote:

[Evans] is very much censured for not attacking [an isolated Federal force a few days after Ball’s Bluff], but the truth of the matter is he was so elated by his victory at Leesburg that he got a little drunker than usual, and was consequently not in a condition to do anything.  Some of the officers under him speak of preferring charges against him.  Genl Evans is one of the bravest men I ever saw, and is no doubt a good officer when sober, but he is unfortunately almost always under the influence of liquor.  Cutrer, ed., Longstreet’s Aide: The Civil War Letters of Major Thomas Goree, p 51

 As for the photo below, I have no idea what’s going on there, but the two men are holding hands.  As I said here, things were different back then.  I think.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

evans2

This article was originally published on 9/13/2007, as part of the Nathan George Evans biographical sketch.





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.








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