A 100 Pound Quarterback?

30 01 2007


This coming Sunday’s Super Bowl match up features teams representing two states that were loyal to the Union in the late unpleasantness.  However, one team’s offense is led by prolific passer and son of the south Peyton Manning.  I for one am glad to see the Colts in the championship.  I’m a lifelong Steelers fan (Colts head coach Tony Dungy once caught and threw an interception in the same game when he played for Pittsburgh, and he got his coaching start here as well), and will be rooting for the AFC come game day.  And you have to love Peyton’s commercials: “They’re not saying ‘Boo’; they’re saying ‘Moooovers'” and my favorite “De-Caf (thump thump), De-Caf (thump thump)”.

Now, there are a lot of similarities between studying history and watching football.  Perhaps one of the most irritating similarities is that (relatively) high paid analysts in both fields have a penchant for judging decisions by their results.  Throwing into double coverage is a bonehead move if it results in an interception, but is brilliant if the ball goes through the DB’s hands and results in a touchdown.  Don’t laugh – the number of Civil War studies that rely on similar methodology is legion.

This particular game offers a chance to discuss something that has bugged me for some time: why in God’s name did Peyton’s dad Archie decide to name his child Peyton?  I suppose it might be reasonable to guess that he may have been thinking “Anything but Archibald”.  But then, why not Quimby?  Or Larry?

Some students of the American Civil War are aware that both the Peyton and Manning names were “big” in the Confederacy.  At various times, Mannings commanded four infantry regiments in the Army of Northern Virginia, the 49th & 50th Georgia, the 3rd Arkansas, and the 6th Louisiana.  Peytons commanded the 5th and 19th Virginia.  Out west, Peytons headed the 3rd Mississippi Infantry, Major Peyton’s Cavalry Battalion, and the 3rd Missouri Cavalry.

Mannings and Peytons served in staff positions in the Army of Northern Virginia as well.  Virginian Jacob Hite Manning was signal officer to James Longstreet and, presumably, to R. H. Anderson.  One time governor of South Carolina John Laurence Manning served as a volunteer ADC to Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard at First Bull Run and later in December 1862.  Henry E. Peyton of Missouri was an ADC to Beaurgeard at First Bull Run, and would later serve on the staff of Robert E. Lee.  Virginia brothers Moses G. and Thomas G. Peyton did time as staff officers as well, Moses as volunteer ADC to Robert Rodes and as AAG to Rodes, Stephen D. Ramseur and Bryan Grimes, and Thomas  as AAAG to Richard Ewell.  Another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson Peyton, served as Acting Assistant Inspector General for G. W. Smith and as AAIG and Ordnance Officer for John C. Pemberton.  And someone named William H. Peyton served in the capacity of AQM in Staunton, VA in 1861.

Four other Mannings were in other rebel armies, assisting generals Cantey, J. E. Johnston, S. D. Lee, Twiggs, and Wheeler.  Three more Peytons also worked for J. P. Anderson, Hood, H. B. Lyon, and J. S. Williams.

Now, that’s a whole lot of Peytons and a whole lot of Mannings.  Archie Manning, the most famous of all (‘Ole Miss) Rebel quarterbacks, was born in Drew, Mississippi.  It seems likely that Archie is the result of some long ago (or not so long ago) conjoining of a Manning and a Peyton.  Possible evidence of this theory may be found 160 miles from Drew in the town of Aberdeen, MS.  That’s the birthplace of the man listed on the Confederate order of battle for First Bull Run as James Longstreet’s acting assistant quartermaster, Lt. Peyton Thompson Manning.

Described in the memoir of John C. Haskell as “a little man, weighing not over 100 pounds” and a fine horseman, “Manny” (as T. J. Goree referred to him) was born in 1838 and attended the Georgia Military Institute.  “Befo de woah” he was a railroad engineer.  He signed on as a sergeant in Co. I of the 11th MS Infantry in February, 1861, and was later commissioned a lieutenant in the regiment and a major in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States (PACS).  I’m guessing he went east with the 11th MS to muster into Confederate service at Lynchburg, VA; two companies of the 11th would be with Barnard Bee during First Bull Run.  Manning was assigned to Longstreet’s staff and, except for a brief stint on the staff of J. E. Johnston, would serve on it for the remainder of the war, primarily as Ordnance Officer.  He is famous in Confederate literature for a mis-adventurous sleigh ride with fellow Longstreet staffer G. Moxley Sorrel during the winter of 1861-62, and for nearly choking on a sweet potato when slightly wounded at Chickamauga.  He also served as a cannoneer at Antietam in “Battery Longstreet”, thrown together by the General when the crew of a battalion of the Washington Artillery were shot down.  Francis W. Dawson recalled that Manning was “exceedingly kind and considerate”, easy to work with, gentlemanly and “brave as a lion.”  But “he knew very little of his work as an ordnance officer, and was unable to write an ordinary letter correctly.”

At war’s end, Manning returned to his wife Julia Watson in Aberdeen, and died there on February 3, 1868 at the age of 30 or 31.  He is buried in Odd Fellows’ Rest Cemetery in Aberdeen.

I haven’t been able to track down any images of Peyton Manning the staff officer.  If any reader (Archie?) has an image or other information on him, please let me know via the comments section of this site.  I’ll update here with any new information I receive.


By the way, that was Elijah Peyton who was Lt. Col. of the 3rd Mississippi Infantry.  But that’s another story for another Super Bowl – maybe.



Crute, J., Units of the Confederate States Army

Krick, R. E. L., Staff Officers in Gray

Krick, R. K., Lee’s Colonels

Goree, T. J., Longstreet’s Aide: The Civil War Letters of Major Thomas J. Goree

Govan & Livengood, ed., The Haskell Memoirs

Longstreet, J., From Manassas to Appomattox

Sorrel, G. M., Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer

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So far I’ve managed to hold off…

25 01 2007

…chucking this Tidball book across the room.  But first, some background:


Above (click for larger image), Capt. John C. Tidball and officers of Battery A, 2nd US Artillery, June, 1862.  Left to right: Lt. Robert Clarke, Tidball, Lt. William Dennison, Lt. Alexander C. M. Pennington – Image from LOC.  Tidball was a regular army artillery officer, West Point class of 1848.  At First Bull Run, he commanded Company (Battery) A, 2nd US Artillery, in Blenker’s brigade.  Although not engaged, he wrote a vivid and influential account of his experiences there – you can read some of it here.  Later his battery would become part of the First Horse Artillery Brigade.

There are some things that make the book quite valuable.  The author (Eugene Tidball) makes extensive use of the writings of his subject.  But I’m thinking this book would have been much better and more useful if it just presented the Tidball writings with minimal annotations.  Where the book falls short – far short – is in the narrative.  Each paragraph seems to contain three or four quoted passages.  Contemporary quotations, often John Tidball’s, are frequently mixed with quotations from modern authors.  This creates some confusion, and could reasonably lead the reader to understand that these quotes of modern authors’ opinions are somehow contemporary and authoritative.  Only careful reading of the citations and in most cases tracing to the source puts them in proper perspective.  In particular, the opinions of the single author of To the Gates of Richmond, Landscape Turned Red, and Chancellorsville are quoted extensively in the chapters on the Peninsula/Seven Days, Antietam, and Chancellorsville.  The author appears in a quandary when the opinions of his subject conflict with those of a late 20th century writer who, based on the number of cites to these works, may be assumed to be his favorite “historian”.  For instance, at one point Eugene Tidball notes that George McClellan wrote that the administration was being less than supportive of the Army of the Potomac.  When John Tidball himself expressed the same opinion, repeatedly and in much stronger terms, the author concludes that it is evidence of the effectiveness of McClellan’s “propaganda”, rather than simply Tidball’s evaluation of the situation (p. 233).  Either could be true (for example, folks as far away from the Army of the Potomac as William T. Sherman were of a similar opinion at the time, and Tidball still maintained his belief long after the war was over), but if one conclusion is favored over another there should at least be some semblance of support presented.  In fairness to Eugene Tidball, given his heavy reliance on the opinions of this particular author for this time-frame (a cursory review shows 23 cites for To the Gates of Richmond, and eleven each for Landscape Turned Red and Chancellorsville, most with direct quotes from the author), it’s difficult to see how he could even consider other possibilities.  That Eugene Tidball manages to produce more venom at the mere mention of McClellan’s name than even the author of the “reference” works he cites is no small achievement.

The author also sets aside a special place in hell for cavalryman William W. Averell (image from LOC).  In part this seems to be due to the fact that averell.jpgJohn Tidball resented serving under Averell, who was his junior in the regular army.  (One thing this book does very well is drive home the importance of rank and seniority in the regular army.  While we tend to view such things as petty, John Tidball  wrote: “Promotion is the lifeblood of the soldier and anyone who disregards it is not worthy of the name”, p 273.)  However if one is familiar with the book Chancellorsville one is aware that the vilification of Averell is part and parcel to its author’s attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of Joseph Hooker.  Eugene Tidball presents one quote from John on p. 272, after he had been placed under the command of Averell: “I do not believe he has taken part in any of the battles: yet he was made a brigadier general for a battle which he was not near.”  The author fails to mention that, while his subject was cooling his heels at Centreville during First Bull Run, Averell had been in the thick of the fighting, taking command of Andrew Porter’s brigade (Averell was Porter’s AAAG) when the latter succeeded the wounded David Hunter as division leader.  (Averell left behind an equally vivid and influential memoir of First Bull Run in Ten Years in the Saddle.)  John Tidball’s comment regarding the basis for Averell’s promotion to Brigadier General US Volunteers (BGUSV) is curious because, unlike regular army (USA) promotions and brevets, USV promotions and brevets were not made for specific performance such as gallant and meritorious service.  At that time Averell did have one brevet to major USA for his service at Kelly’s Ford on 3/17/63, an action during which he was in command of the Union forces involved.  Predictably, the author’s summary of the role of Averell’s command in the Chancellorsville Campaign appears to be heavily influenced by the above named modern study.

I think that so far (I’ve got about 200 pages to go) the author has not done much to explore why Tidball did not earlier and more actively pursue a volunteer command.  Many of his contemporaries and juniors – like Averell – did so, with good effect on their rank and prestige.  Tidball was obsessed with rank, and yet until August 1863 stubbornly remained in the regular artillery when all the while the volunteers was the obvious path of least resistance.

But I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  I think the strengths of “No Disgrace to My Country”, the Life of John C. Tidball so far lay in its presentation of life in the antebellum army and in the primary Tidball material.  But the reliance on and quoting of secondary sources in the narrative is an infuriating distraction.


Shout Out

23 01 2007

OK, enough with the telling you what I’m going to do.  Last week I got some good news from Art Bergeron at the United States Army Military History Institute (USAMHI) in Carlisle, PA.  Art is a fellow member of Dick Weeks’ The Civil War Western Theater Discussion Group, and I’ve enjoyed his comments there for some time.  I didn’t realize that in addition to being an author of some note (Confederate Mobile, The Red River Campaign, Guide to Louisiana Confederate Military Units, to name but a very few of his published works), Art is also Reference Historian at Carlisle.  I dropped him a line and asked how to go about doing some research at the facility as I had been asked to submit an article on a Bull Run personality to America’s Civil War magazine.  Not only did Art give me that information, but he also told me what type of information (documents and photographs) they have on my subject – one “box” each.  Thanks Art!

I’ll be heading out to Carlisle hopefully within the next few weeks.  I really wish they were open on Saturdays, but beggars can’t be choosers.  To be safe, I’m going to schedule two days in town.  I’m also going to check and see what they have on the 205th PAVI.  I recently learned that my great-great-grandfather John B. Smeltzer was an 18 year old private in Company C, and was wounded on April 2, 1865 in the regiment’s assault on Battery 30 at Petersburg.

Dang, it looks like I wound up talking about what I’m going to do again!  Well, since I’ve already done it, I may as well say that I hope to make a post tomorrow about this infuriating Tidball biography I’m reading, and that right now I’m going to do a little more work on the Confederate OOB.  I’ll let you know when it’s ready to be viewed.


22 01 2007

…so it appears, on that new book I bought about the lead-up to the war.  It seems blogger Kevin Levin has read it (or is reading it) and gives it a thumbs up!  Check out what he has to say here.

To replace that bit (and I have to, since it takes me quite awhile to read a book, and Cry Havoc! is not at the top of my list), I have tweaked the Union Order of Battle, and am working on the Confederate.  WordPress is a little maddening: I’m having real problems copying from Word to the blog.  But at the end of the day, I think I’ll be happier with the appearance than I was.

Also, I’ll explore a Bull Run/Super Bowl XLI connection, which has a lot to do with everybody’s favorite Colt.

Some Stuff I’m Working On

19 01 2007

I’m a little tied up putting the finishing touches on a PowerPoint presentation for a continuing ed class I’m teaching tomorrow.  I have some posts in the pipeline and will get to them after the weekend (or maybe on Sunday).  These include: a look at the color red and the confusion it has caused in accounts of the First Battle of Bull Run; some annoying devices employed by the author of the Tidball biography; a hat tip to USAMHI; and a just purchased new book that covers the outbreak of the war.

More on the Army of Northeastern Virginia

19 01 2007

In response to my post about the origin of the name Army of Northeastern Virginia, blogger David Woodbury commented:

It’s not much, but when A. Porter submitted Ambrose Burnside’s report, he refers to Burnside’s command as the Second Brigade, Second Division, Army of Northeastern Virginia. Series I, vol. 2, p. 395.

After a quick check of the OR’s, I responded:

As for the report of Porter: that’s Andrew Porter, First Brigade commander of Hunter’s Division who took over command of the division when Hunter was wounded. He does mention the name of the army, but this cover letter to Burnside’s report was not written until August 19, while Burnside’s report itself was sent from Hdqrs. Second Brigade, Second Division, Major [!!!] General McDowell’s Column and dated July 24. Porter’s own report on page 383 refers to the First Brigade, Second Division, of the Army. It was written on July 25. If anything, this probably supports the ex post facto origins of the Army of Northeastern Virginia.

David’s post last year about McDowell’s misspelled headstone played some role in feeding my interest in First Bull Run.  Thanks for that, David, and thanks for taking the time to comment here.

Some Purchases

15 01 2007

Wow!  Not a lot of reader activity on Bull Runnings over the past couple of days.  But I think it’s a trap for a blogger to get too caught up in the numbers.  As selfish as this may sound, I’m doing this for me, not you.  I don’t need the added stress of trying to meet some quota of posts (self-imposed or otherwise) for the week.  This blog is not my job; it’s supposed to be an outlet – a stress reliever!

I’ve made a few book purchases – all at good discounts, used and remainders – over the past couple of weeks.  I bought ten Osprey Praeger books, including one on First Bull Run, for $5.98 each.  By and large these are pretty standard fare and they follow story lines established a good fifty years ago.  But they are useful, condensed versions of events, though for some reason the First Bull Run book has no order of battle.

Another BR1 related purchase was a biography of Edmund Kirby Smith by Joseph Parks.  Jeff Prushankin, an acquaintance from the annual Mont Alto Civil War Conference, published a book on Smith and Richard Taylor last year, A Crisis in Confederate Command, and he has a bit on BR1 in it as well so it will be interesting to see how these books cover the same actions.  That reminds me – Jeff said he had some good Smith at BR1 info that did not make it into his book.  Note to self: drop Jeff a line on this.

I also picked up Jeff Wert’s history of the Army of the Potomac, The Sword of Lincoln.  Mr. Wert is another with whom I got to spend some quality time over the years thanks to Mont Alto.  I don’t always agree with what Jeff has to say, particularly when it comes to one George B. McClellan, but you have to love the way he writes, which is pretty much the same as he talks.

Now that I’ve mentioned the conference twice, I guess I should give them a plug.  Penn State’s Mont Alto campus is located about 20 minutes outside of Gettysburg, and they have been running the five day seminar, which includes three days of lecture and two full days of battlefield tours, since 1987.  I’ve been attending since 1999.  The faculty is always top notch, and informal access to it during the conference is outstanding.  Over the years I’ve met and had many long discussions with folks like Carol Reardon, Mike Miller, Joe Harsh, Frank O’Reilly, Scott Hartwig, Gary Ecelbarger, Eric Campbell, Charlie Fennell, Wayne Motts, Tom Clemens, Keith Alexander, Sussanah Bruce and Mark Snell.  This year’s conference will cover the Shenandoah Valley 1862 and will be held in June.  For more info, contact Judy Mellott at (717) 709-0778.

I also found two issues of The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography and one of Pennsylvania History for a buck apiece.  Included in these are the 1862 letters of Captain Edward Acton of the 4th NJVI, the 1861-1863 letters of Gettysburg fatality Col. Charles “Fred” Taylor of the 13th PA Reserves (the Bucktails), and The Battle of Gettysburg in Fiction.  These historical society journals are a source that I’ve not really explored in the past but at this price I’ll keep them on my radar from now on.

What’s in a Name?

12 01 2007

Interesting.  I’ve received not one comment regarding the misspelling of McDowell’s name on his headstone.

A note regarding the Union OOB:  I can’t find any documentation of the existence of a Union Army of Northeastern Virginia.  This is the name typically used for McDowell’s army at Bull Run.  The Department of Northeastern Virginia was created on 5/28/1861 from part of the Department of the East with boundaries enclosing Virginia east of the Allegheny Mountains and north of the James River with the exception of a sixty mile radius around Fort Monroe.  It was commanded by McDowell until 7/25/1861 when it was attached to the Military Division of the Potomac; it was merged with the Department of the Potomac on 8/17/1861 (see Eicher and Eicher, Civil War High Commands, p 837).  But none of the reports or correspondence from First Bull Run reference an Army of Northeastern Virginia – instead they refer to the Department or simply “McDowell’s Corps.”  The moniker appears to be an after the fact creation, and that is the story I’m sticking with unless you can prove otherwise!

Just the facts, Ma’am

11 01 2007


The sketches of First Bull Run personalities and units which I have promised to post periodically will be similar to what you saw today on Irvin McDowell.  These are not for editorializing.  If I have any opinions or anecdotes they’ll be posted separately.  I will not post any factual information without confirmation of its accuracy.  As I find out more or use a new source (for instance, McDowell’s bio does not yet include info from his Cullum biography or his West Point necrology), I’ll update and edit the bio pages and post a message that I have done so.

Initially I will leave the comments feature turned on for the biographies so that you can provide additional info – however, I will probably delete those comments at a later date after I have considered them.  This will help keep the “digital history” part of this blog clean.

Irvin McDowell

11 01 2007


Irvin McDowell born Columbus, OH 10/15/18; son of Abram (one-time mayor of Columbus) and Eliza Seldon Lord McDowell; and brother of John A. McDowell, colonel of 6th Iowa Infantry and brigade commander under W. T. Sherman at Shiloh, and Malcolm McDowell, who served on Irvin’s staff; married Helen Burden of Troy, NY 11/13/44; four children: Irvin, Helen, Elsie, and Henry Burden; early education in France (College de Troyes); West Point class of 1838 (23 of 45); Bvt 2nd Lt 1st Arty 7/1/38; 2nd Lt 7/7/38; instructor of tactics at USMA 1841-1845; 1st Lt 10/7/42;  ADC to Gen. J. E. Wool in Mexican War; received a brevet to captain Ass’t Adj. Gen, for gallantry at Buena Vista 5/13/47; Bvt Maj Ass’t Adj. Gen. 5/31/56; appointed BGUSA  5/14/61 (n 7/16/61, c 8/3/61); Dept. of NE VA, 5/27/61 to 8/17/61; commanded forces now known as Army of NE VA, 7/8/61 to 8/15/61; McDowell’s Div. Army of the Potomac (AotP) 10/3/61 to 3/13/62; First Corps AotP 3/13/62 to 4/4/62; MGUSV eff. 3/14/62 (n 3/3/62, c 3/14/62); Dept. of Rappahannock, 4/4/62 to  6/26/62; wounded 6/18/62 when his horse fell on him; Third Corps, Army of VA, 6/26/62 to 9/5/62; Dept. of the Pacific, 5/21/64 to 6/27/65; Bvt MGUSA 3/13/65 (n 4/10/66, c 5/4/66) for the Battle of Cedar Mountain; Dept. of CA, 6/27/65 to 3/31/68; mustered out of volunteers (MOV) 9/1/66; Fourth Military District, 6/4/68 to 7/4/68; Dept. of the West, 7/16/68 to 12/16/72; MGUSA 11/25/72; Depts of East and South 12/16/72 to 76; Division of the Pacific 1876 to retirement 10/15/82; became San Francisco Park Commissioner; died 5/4/85, San Francisco, CA; buried San Francisco National Cemetery (Presidio), San Franciso, CA; marker reads “Irwin McDowell, Maj Gen US Army May 4, 1885”.

Sources: Boyd, The Irvines and their Kin, pp. 152, 171; Eicher & Eicher, Civil War High Commands, pp 377-378, 704, 708, 716; Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the U. S. Army, Vol. I p 664; Simpson, ed, Sherman’s Civil War, p341; Sifakis, Who was Who in the American Civil War, pp 414-415; Warner, Generals in Blue, pp 297-299; http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?irvin::mcdowell::2682.html


 Photos a, b, c, d – www.generalsandbrevets.com; e – www.findagrave.com