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.





Romeyn B. Ayres

29 07 2009

During the First Bull Run campaign, Capt. Romeyn Ayres commanded Company (Battery) E, 3rd US Artillery, the famous Sherman’s Battery, which was attached to Sherman’s brigade of Tyler’s division (see here); this despite his official assignment with the 5th Artillery.  Being unable to cross Bull Run with his brigade, Ayres spent the day in reserve and covering the retreat, during which he repelled a cavalry charge.  Ayres sent a wagon, three caissons and his forge ahead when preparing for the retreat, and reported all of these, plus seven horses and five mules, lost when fleeing volunteers cut the traces and stole the mounts (see his report here).

Later, he would advance through artillery positions to infantry brigade and division command, participating in the major campaigns of the Army of the Potomac through Appomattox.  He was also sent with his division to put down the draft riots in New York City.  The army must have been impressed, because in 1877 he was sent with a battalion to Mauch Chunk, PA, home to the Molly Maguires, to suppress the railroad disturbance there.  I’m guessing Ayres was not popular with the AOH.

In Cullum’s Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of USMA (Ayres’s Cullum number is 1352), classmate Col. John Hamilton notes that (i)n the field his style was that of the brilliant executor, rather than of the plotting strategist.  He had withal a remarkable eye to at once take in the situation on the field, and was the quickest of tacticians.

Hamilton provided a few anecdotes, demonstrating a sometimes brutal wit:

On march in Texas, during a few days’ rest he [Ayres] happened to pitch his camp near the permanent command of an officer who ranked him.  The officer was a strict constructionist of Army Regulations, and had his reveille at daybreak.   Ayres had ever liked his morning nap; and his senior, very unnecessarily, considering the transientness of the junction, assumed command over Ayres, and ordered him to comply with the Regulations.

After the interview, Ayres retired to his camp and issued the following order, sending his senior a copy:

Headquarters, Co.-, 3rd Artillery,

Camp —,—, 185-

Company Orders.  Until further orders, daylight in this camp will be at six o’clock.

R.B.Ayres

1st Lt., 3rd Artillery,

Commanding Co. -

During the Rebellion, a colonel of his brigade showed a timidity before the enemy too observable to the command to be overlooked by the brigadier.  What passed at the subsequent interview nobody will ever know, but the next day the colonel was found in the hottest part of the action.  Soon an officer of his regiment reported to Ayres, General, poor Colonel — is killed.  Thank God!  says Ayres, his children can now be proud of him.

I have some delightfully ironic trivia concerning Ayres’s grave, but will address that in a separate post later.  Stay tuned.

This article was origninally posted on 6/29/2007, as part of the Romeyn Beck Ayres biographical sketch.





William T. Sherman

28 07 2009

Colonel William. T. Sherman (while his commission as BGUSV was dated 5/17/61, he was not nominated until 8/2/61 and was confirmed three days later) commanded a brigade in Daniel Tyler’s division of McDowell’s army during the First Bull Run campaign.  He’s been in the news lately thanks to a couple of programs on The History Channel (see here and here).  The battle marked an inauspicious beginning to his storied Civil War career, and he would end up as the commanding general of the U. S. Army after his friend U. S. Grant became president.  But at Bull Run, Sherman committed his brigade in the same piecemeal fashion favored by his fellow commanders on both sides.  I’m not too hard on those fellows, because McDowell’s army of about 35,000 was the largest ever assembled on the North American continent up to that point, and the only man in the country experienced in commanding a force of even 40% its size was Winfield Scott.

As with all Union generals from Ohio, I’m finding the interrelationships surrounding Sherman and shaping his rise to brigade command somewhat labyrinthine.  Sherman briefly partnered in a law firm with members of the Ohio McCooks and his influential in-laws the Ewings.  And the colonel of the 1st OHVI in Schenck’s brigade of Tyler’s Division, Alexander McCook?  His middle name was McDowell.  Powerful Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase, during this time sometimes referred to as General Chase, was from Ohio, and Sherman’s brother Thomas was elected to fill Chase’s vacated senate seat when the latter was appointed to Lincoln’s cabinet.  It doesn’t take long to realize that a non-political general was a rare bird indeed.

Brian Downey recently wrote of a post-war scandal involving Sherman and the widow of Joseph Audenried, who as a young Lt. served on the staff of Sherman’s direct superior Tyler during the campaign.  John Tidball, who was also with McDowell’s army in the summer of ‘61, would wind up on Sherman’s staff years later, when “Uncle Billy” held the highest military office in the land.  Tidball’s biography (discussed here) includes his sketch of his boss at that time which touches on Sherman’s affection for the ladies (page 415):

He was exceedingly fond of the society of ladies, and took as much delight in dancing and such pleasures as a youth just entering manhood, and with them he was as much of a lion as he was a hero with his old soldiers.

With those of the romantic age he was often sprightly upon their all absorbing topic of love and matrimony, a condition of mind that he regarded as a mere working out of the inflexible laws of nature; but while regarding it in this light he did not condemn or ridicule the romantic side of it as mere nonsensical sentimentality.  From young ladies with whom he was intimately acquainted he was fond of extracting the kiss conceded by his age and position, and which they were not loath to grant, nor upon which neither parents or beaux were disposed to frown.  By the envious it was said that in these osculatory performances he sometimes held in so long that he was compelled to breathe through his ears.

Cump, you dog!

This article was originally posted on 5/26/2007, as part of the William T. Sherman biographical sketch.





Biographical Sketches

28 07 2009

I think I need to go back and change some things.  My resources section is supposed to be free of interpretation, but some of my biographical sketches include little lead-ins to the meat and potatoes part.  This has been nagging at the far reaches of my noggin for awhile.  It has nothing to do with the poor, one star rating someone recently gave to my sketch of William T. Sherman, by the way.  So I’ll be going back and removing these background pieces, but I’ll re-post those parts as separate articles.





Daniel Burr Conrad, 2nd Virginia Infantry

21 04 2009

Reader and FOBR Robert Moore sends the following on the author of this article, and the subject of this book:

From the 2nd Virginia Infantry by Dennis E. Frye (HE Howard, 1984), p. 91:
 
Conrad, Daniel Burr: b. 2/24/31. grad. Winchester Academy. grad. Winchester Medical College. Attd. Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pa. Entered US Navy, 1855 and served on the USS Congress and Brooklyn. m. Susie Davis. Assigned as Surgeon to 2nd Va. Vol. Inf., 6/8/61. Requests detachment from regt., 8/13/61. Unoffical source says he was appointed to Admiral Buchanon’s staff, CS Navy, date not known. Postwar supt. of lunatic asylum at Richmond; supt. of Western State Hospital, Staunton, April 1886-4/21/1889; living in Kansas City, Missouri, 1891; d. 9/20/1898. Buried Mt. Hebron Cem., Winchester, Va.





Shout Out

1 12 2008

Thanks to reader Robert Moore II of Cenantua’s Blog for the numerous contributions he has made to this site over the past few days, while most of us were in turkey induced comas.  As a result, I have fixed a couple of inaccuracies in my CSA and CSA Artillery orders of battle (I had conflicting info noted on the OOBs – I try to do that when I’m not sure).  Check out the comments to posts here, here, here, and here.  Now it’s a question of me getting all this other good stuff incorporated into the site.  Thanks Robert for this and all the other help you’ve provided.  This type of reader participation is what I had in mind when I started this blog.  No blogger is an island.

Lest you think I just take anyone’s “word” for stuff, I do check everything out as much as possible.  In the case of the Culpeper/Newtown artillery, Robert is uniquely qualified to render advice because he has authored books on four of the Confederate batteries (including Newtown) present at First Bull Run.  These books are part of the Virginia Regimental History Series (VRHS), aka the Howard Series (those thin, gray volumes you see at NPS bookstores).  I plan on collecting the volumes for those units present at Bull Run, but individually and new they are not cheap.  Anybody want to trade any for OR volumes?

In the course of the flurry of comment exchanges this weekend, I wrote something along the lines of the the following, but it must have gone MIA.  Tell me if this is something you’d like to see:

I plan to write regimental biographies, which will work as follows:

  • A master page with all regiments listed and linked (one page for USA and one for CSA);
    • A page for each regiment with links to the following three posts:
      • Companies and commanders, including other names the companies were known as, along with county of origin.  Also numbers and losses for 7/21/61;
      • A very brief summary of the regiment’s movements on 7/21/61;
      • A full biographical sketch based on sources like Dyer, The Union Army, and Crute.  This will be easier for USA units than CSA, I think.




John Clay Brown

20 09 2008

John Clay Brown of the 14th Brooklyn (NYSM) is the author of this letter describing the condition of corpses discovered on the battlefield of First Bull Run on his return there in March, 1862.  At the time of the battle he was a private in Company D.  Biographical information, the letter, and the photo below are courtesy of Dr. Thomas Clemens of Keedysville, MD.  When he enlisted in the 14th Brooklyn, he was 5′ 6″ tall, with blue eyes, auburn hair and light complexion.  Brown’s pension file includes various depositions, indicating he was a color bearer at the Battle of Groveton on August 18, 1862, where he suffered sunstroke which eventually forced him from the ranks and sent him to hospital in Washington.  He returned to his regiment, with the flag he had kept in his possession, in time to participate in the Battle of Antietam.  He remained with the regiment throughout the winter and spring, and was wounded and captured at Gettysburg.  After imprisonment at Libby Prison and Belle Isle in Richmond, he was exchanged in September 1863, after which he rejoined the 14th Brooklyn.  At the end of his three year enlistment, he signed on for another three year hitch, doing so in part for a $900 bonus.  In May 1864, the 14th Brooklyn was consolidated into the 5th New York Veteran Infantry.  On June 2, Brown was again captured, at Bethesda Church.  In South Carolina, he fell from a railroad car injuring his back.  He was released from the prison at Andersonville, GA on December 13, 1864, weighing just 85 pounds.  While recovering and awaiting exchange in Annapolis, MD, Brown learned he had been promoted to lieutenant in command of Company I of the 5th NY Veteran Infantry.  He rejoined the regiment and was present at the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox.

After the war, Brown suffered from the physical effects of his service and was unable to do heavy labor.  He suffered dizziness from his sunstroke and wore a truss for a hernia.  He had a light mercantile business for a time, and applied for a pension in 1884.  When the pension was granted in 1886, Brown was living in Newburgh, NY.  He moved west, with the last residence in the pension records being Talent, OR.  His date of death and place of burial are not known.

John Clay Brown: Born 10/4/1842; raised Brooklyn, NY; enlisted in 14th Booklyn (NY) State Militia (later desingated 84th NY Infantry) on 4/18/1861; mustered into Company D 5/23/1861; wounded and captured, 7/1/1863, Gettysburg, PA; POW Libby Prison and Belle Isle, Richmond, VA; returned to company, date unknown; re-enlisted 2/12/1864; transferred to Company A, 5th NY Veteran Infantry when 14th Brooklyn consolidated into that regiment in 5/1864; captured 6/2/1864 at Bethesda Church, VA; POW Andersonville, GA, 6/8/1864; paroled Charleston, SC 12/13/1864; mustered as 1st Lieutenant, 5th NY Veteran Infantry 5/17/1865; mustered out of service 8/21/1865 Hart’s Island, NY.  Date and place of death and interment unknown.

Sources: http://www.14thbrooklyn.info/DBROWN.HTM (9/20/2008); letter and biographical information provided by Dr. Thomas Clemens, copies in site owner’s collection.








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