Western Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable, 5/17/2023

28 05 2023

Last week I spoke to 40 members and guests of the Western Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable at the Quaker Valley Elementary School in Osborn, PA. Sorry, I forgot to take my usual selfie with the group. It happens sometimes. This group was the first to which I ever presented, 16 years ago!

The program is a new one that I put together at the request of President Dave Fisher, Atrocities at First Bull Run. If you’re a regular reader, you’re aware of plenty of posts tagged with “Atrocities.” At first, I thought I would just assemble a few accounts by category of “atrocity,” but decided instead to focus on the testimonies of witnesses before the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War’s hearings on “Rebel Barbarities.” You can find those testimonies here, toward the bottom of the page. Chasing down the details of the witnesses and individuals mentioned in their testimonies was productive and helped flesh things out, so I had plenty of material of the 50 minute show. This was the “shake-down cruise” for this program, and I think it will get better the more often I present it (so, if you think this would be of interest your group, you know where to find me). Also, I think this topic merits a “part two.” Maybe an essay or article as well.

Thanks to Dave, founder Gary Augustine, techie Scott Krebs, and the membership for having me, and for the apres parler Eat ‘n Park ice cream.

Interview: Rosebrock, “Artillery of Antietam”

21 05 2023

Friend James A. Rosebrock (Antietam Battlefield Guide and member of Save Historic Antietam Foundation and Antietam Institute) has recently published Artillery of Antietam. He answered some questions about himself and his work below. (FYI, Jim has provided me with images of all the documents from the Dixon Miles Court of Inquiry, which I still have not transcribed and for which I still owe him a beer or twelve.)


BR: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

JR: Thanks for the opportunity to talk to you Harry. I was born and raised in the Buffalo New York area (Go Bills!), and currently live with my family in Jefferson, Maryland about 20 miles from Antietam. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian history from Niagara University in 1976. I was commissioned in the United States Army in the ROTC program and served for 28 years retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2004. My military career included assignments in Germany during the Cold War, deployment to Grenada with the 82nd Airborne Division in 1983, and duty as an instructor at the Combined Arms and Services Staff School (CAS3). I subsequently worked for the Federal government where I retired from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2021 as an operations officer and liaison to FEMA helping to coordinate Federal law enforcement response to natural disasters. I volunteer at Antietam National Battlefield and currently work with Antietam’s artillery detachment, Battery B, 4th United States Artillery. I have been an NPS certified battlefield guide at Antietam since 2009, and led the guide service from 2012 to 2018. I am a founding member of the Antietam Institute and am currently the Institute’s Vice President. Artillery of Antietam is my first book, but I was a contributing author for the Antietam Institute’s first book Brigades of Antietam.

BR: What got you interested in the Civil War? Who/what were your early influences?

JR: In about the third grade, I received a copy of Bruce Catton’s Golden Book of the Civil War. Like many guys I know who grew up in the 1960s and became students of the Civil War, the beautifully rendered color maps of the battlefields with the tiny lines of soldiers and cannons fascinated me. I later received Catton’s magnificent 3 volume series on the Army of the Potomac. Catton’s beautiful prose inspired my lifelong interest. I still refer to his chapters on Antietam when I need a stirring quote. As a kid and during my time in the Amry, I was a big-time wargamer and had all the Avalon Hill and SPI Civil War games. Unlike some, our family vacations were never to battlefields, and I really did not start visiting them until I moved to Maryland after I got out of the Army. Now I am at Antietam every week giving tours or volunteering

BR: Why the Artillery at Antietam in particular?

JR: I had an ancestor who served with Battery M, 1st New York Light Artillery in the Twelfth Corps. Ironically, he reported to the battery on September 21, 1862, four days after Antietam but served with the outfit until he mustered out. I had ancestors who served in the artillery during the Spanish-American War and World War 1. My dad was an artilleryman in the Pacific during World War 2, and I have a nephew who served in Marine Corps artillery units. I guess I can say it is in my blood. When I was commissioned, I requested artillery as my branch but the Army in its infinite wisdom made me a logistician. I have ten books in my library, devoted to the artillery at Gettysburg alone. Except for a book titled Artillery Hell written in 1995, there is no single book that has ever been written about the artillery of Antietam. I thought that it was time for an in-depth book on the artillery batteries at Antietam.

BR: Can you briefly describe the overall impact of artillery in the campaign and battle?

JR: At Antietam, nearly 11,000 artillerymen comprising 116 batteries of 521 guns fired some 50,000 rounds of artillery in the 12-hour battle. While the book is organized by artillery organizations, I broke the action (and the maps) out into some eight artillery sectors of fire from the Nicodemus Heights – Poffenberger Hill sector in the north to the Harpers Ferry Road sector south of town. In each, there was at least one important takeaway that significantly affected the battle. It may come as no surprise that the batteries that experienced the heaviest casualties fought on the northern end of the field. These were the batteries of Joseph Hooker’s First Corps and Confederate Stephen D. Lee’s artillery battalion. One of the least appreciated areas was the Federal line of guns along the eastern boundary of the Cornfield and East Woods. Manned throughout the late morning and into the afternoon by batteries of the Second, Sixth, and Twelfth Corps, the fire of these guns prevented the Confederates from getting a permanent foothold east of the Hagerstown Pike. I also spend some time discussing the key role of the Confederate field grade officers (majors, and lieutenant colonels) who were instrumental in moving artillery to threatened areas of the field like the Reel Ridge as Lee’s infantry reserves were exhausted. These officers had wider authority to move numbers of batteries and mass fire at critical points than lieutenants and captains had.

BR: Can you describe how long it took to write the book, what the stumbling blocks were, what you discovered along the way that surprised you or went against the grain, and what firmed up what you already knew? When did you know you were “done”?

JR: I began writing three years ago. Originally the artillery batteries were to have been part of a book that Brad Gottfried edited and the Antietam Institute published in 2021 titled Brigades of Antietam. Quite a number of Antietam rangers, guides, and volunteers contributed to this project. I have always been interested in the regular army organizations at Antietam and wrote the chapters on Sykes’ regular division for that book. We quickly realized that including the artillery in this book would have made it too large. I had already been conducting extensive research since 2014 on all the regular army artillery batteries with the idea of writing a book focusing just on them. Since I had accumulated a lot of material on the regulars, I offered to write Artillery of Antietam. A major stumbling block was that I began writing as the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down and I could no longer visit research centers like the National Archives and Library of Congress. This is also my first book and I had little idea at the start how long it would take.

I was surprised at how many references I found from Confederate artillerists attesting to Lee’s personal role in relocating artillery batteries during the afternoon of September 17 after the Ninth Corps seized the Lower Bridge and prepared to move on Sharpsburg. I also did not fully appreciate J.E.B. Stuart’s role in positioning Jackson’s artillery batteries on the morning of September 17. Jackson’s artillery chief Stapleton Crutchfield along with battalion commanders Alfred Courtney and Lindsay Shumaker remained at Harpers Ferry. Throughout the rainy night of September 16, four of Jackson’s batteries joined Pelham’s Stuart Horse Artillery on Nicodemus Heights where they were positioned by Stuart. Stuart also shifted the batteries to counter Sedgwick’s advance into the West Woods. Stuart doesn’t get enough credit for this. On the Federal side, Emory Upton played a surprisingly important role in the deployment of the Sixth Corps artillery.

I already knew how great Henry Hunt was as an artillery commander. Many people probably don’t know that McClellan appointed Hunt to take over the Federal artillery on September 5, 1862, just twelve days before Antietam. Previously Hunt only commanded the Artillery Reserve. Hunt like his predecessor William Barry was a very able administrator but he was also an outstanding artillery commander on the battlefield. With a minuscule staff, Hunt reorganized the Federal depleted batteries and got them ready for this fight in just 12 days. With all of this going on, Hunt on September 12 took the time to write a lengthy circular to his chiefs of artillery on the tactical employment of the artillery. I found this circular in Hunt’s papers and included it as one of my appendices.

I already knew that the Confederates possessed some excellent battery commanders like John Pelham and Willie Pegram who have books devoted to their careers. There are many others like William Poague, James Bondurant, and Charles Squires. This book brings to light some equally talented young Federal artillery commanders like Dunbar Ransom, John Tompkins, and Samuel Benjamin to name just a few. The reader will learn a lot about them and many other heretofore unknown battery commanders on both sides.

After completing chapters on the artillery batteries in each infantry and cavalry division, and the reserve artillery battalions, at Antietam, I felt I was missing something. I realized that while the Confederate batteries that fought at Harpers Ferry were covered, I had not addressed the Federal cannoneers who have never received much acknowledgment. The Federal cavalry escaped, and the infantry surrendered but the 700 men in six batteries from Illinois, Indiana, New York, and Ohio, are the only combatants on the Union side that battled the Confederates. Hamstrung by poor leadership and surrounded, outnumbered, and disadvantaged by their poor positioning, the six Federal batteries gave a surprisingly good account for themselves. The book also needed an introductory chapter for the reader to understand light artillery operations and the workings of an artillery battery. After writing that I added six appendices detailing numbers, casualties, and armament of the batteries. With that completed, I knew I was done.

BR: Can you describe your research and writing process? What online and brick-and-mortar sources did you rely on most?

JR: I had a head start with all the information that I previously gathered on the regular army artillery at the National Archives and from Henry Hunt’s papers at the Library of Congress. I also visited the United States Army Heritage and Education Center at Carlisle and the archives at Norwich and Yale Universities before COVID closed everything down. I acquired every battery history that I could find including all the Virginia Regimental Histories Series which covered nearly all the 44 batteries from Virginia that participated in the Maryland Campaign. The three volumes of Ezra Carman’s Maryland Campaign edited by Tom Clemens, the Carman-Cope Maps, and the Official Records provided the foundation of the book. Tom shared over 115 letters with me from 70 different artillery officers and soldiers who corresponded with Ezra Carman. Many of the letters contain details of the fighting seen nowhere else. I shared their stories for the first time in Artillery of Antietam.

Individual chapters cover each division’s artillery batteries, the Federal Artillery Reserve, the five Confederate batteries of the General Reserve, and the Harpers Ferry federal batteries. The chapters discuss the origin of the batteries, a short biography of the commanders, and combat action prior to the Maryland Campaign. The length of the narrative on their actions in the Maryland Campaign varied greatly depending on how much information I could locate. For example, the chapter on Abner Doubleday’s division which includes Battery B, 4th U.S. Artillery is long and detailed. The chapter on Confederate Major Hilary Jones’ battalion is much smaller. Jones left now report that we can find. I used whatever battery histories I had and of course, letters to Carman to flesh out the stories. Each chapter ends with a conclusion and some analysis of the role of that artillery command in the Maryland Campaign.

I have always been frustrated with books that have good content but incomplete end notes and poor indexes. I took great pains in citing sources and adding supplemental information in the notes. Colleagues who have written books advised me not to outsource the index. I’m glad that I did the index myself. I indexed each chapter as I wrote it and merged them all together when I finished the book. Every artilleryman that I write about is mentioned in the index.

I also wanted to create maps that focused on the batteries. My map maker is Aaron Holley is an amazing young cartographer who does all the maps for Antietam Institute publications. Together we devised eight artillery sectors that detail the opposing artillery lines on the field at various times of the day. While the infantry lines are shown, you can clearly tell smoothbore vs rifled guns on the maps, range information and well-developed terrain details. In addition to the 23 battlefield maps, there are five maps for South Mountain, Harpers Ferry, the fighting on September 16, and Shepherdstown.

BR: How has the book been received so far?

JR: I think it is doing well. I know that in the Antietam community, there has been a lot of interest and expectation. It is available only to Antietam Institute members until the end of May after which it will be available to everyone at the Antietam bookstore, other local outlets, and on Amazon.

BR: What’s next for you?

JR: I am looking forward to a little break this summer and going back to Grenada this fall for the 40th anniversary of Urgent Fury. I’ll get to experience “soldier memory” firsthand. The next book in the Antietam Institute series is The Commanders of Antietam. I am writing the biographies for all the artillery commanders. I plan to get back to the U.S. Army regular artillery, perhaps writing a book on each artillery regiment and its role in the Civil War, much like the Virginia Regimental Histories Series does for Virginia military organizations. There is probably another book out there on the artillery at Antietam as well, looking at it from a more integrated view instead of by individual artillery organizations. Thanks again for the opportunity to talk to you Harry.

Interview: McLean, “Cutler’s Brigade at Gettysburg”

13 05 2023

I’ve known James L. McLean, Jr. for twenty or so years, ever since I met him when he was the bookseller at a Civil War conference I attended. You may know Jim as the owner of Butternut and Blue, which reprinted so many fine Civil War titles with superior quality. I was really glad to hear that Savas Beatie was publishing a new edition of Cutler’s Brigade at Gettysburg. Jim recently sat down and answered a few questions about himself, his book, his writing and research, and his future plans.


BR: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

JM: I have had a life-long interest in early American history, especially the Civil War era.

I graduated from Towson State College (now Towson University) with majors in history and education as well as a minor in mathematics. I taught mathematics for 30 years, covering courses from remedial arithmetic to calculus. Concurrently, my wife and I operated a new and out-of-print Civil War book business, Butternut and Blue, from 1983-2016.

My first edition of Cutler’s Brigade at Gettysburg came out in 1987, followed by a revised edition in 1994. I have had two articles published: “The First Union Shot at Gettysburg” appeared in the spring 1980 issue of the Lincoln Herald; “The Execution of John Wood on the March to Gettysburg” appeared in The Gettysburg Magazine (Issue 45, July 2011).

BR: What got you interested history in general, and the Civil War in particular?

JM: When I was seven or eight years old, my parents took me on a Gettysburg bus tour. I still remember being mesmerized by the rock formation at Devil’s Den. At an early age, I gravitated toward history books at my local library, titles such as Fletcher Pratt’s The Civil War or Earl Schenck Miers The How and Why Book of the Civil War. On subsequent trips to Gettysburg, I purchased Frederick Ray’s Gettysburg Sketches and Human Interest Stories of the Three Days’ Battle at Gettysburg by Grimm and Roy. As I got older, I received as gifts Bruce Catton’s American Heritage histories of the Civil War and Gettysburg. When I was 12, my father took me to my first Civil War Round Table meeting (the night before JFK was assassinated). My obsession with the Civil War, particularly Gettysburg, has never waned.

BR: Why Cutler’s Brigade at Gettysburg, in particular?

JM: In the 1970s, I delivered several talks to my local Round Table. Around 1978, I decided to make my next presentation about a single brigade’s performance at Gettysburg. I didn’t want to cover the obvious choices, such as the Western Iron Brigade or the Texas Brigade, so I did some digging. Sifting through my volumes of New York at Gettysburg led to my selection of Cutler’s brigade.

I gave the talk in September 1979, but I felt there was more to the story. I have pursued information about the brigade, especially concerning the 14th New York State Militia/14th Brooklyn ever since, which has now led to this third, revised edition of Cutler’s Brigade at Gettysburg.

BR: Can you briefly describe the actions of the history of the brigade and its actions at Gettysburg?

JM: The components of the brigade that Cutler commanded at Gettysburg came together slowly. At 2nd Bull Run, Abner Doubleday led the brigade, where its three regiments, the 76th and 95th New York and 56th Pennsylvania, saw their first combat. After the battle, the 7th Indiana joined the brigade. Together, the four regiments fought a night action at South Mountain. The brigade saw limited action at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville.

Cutler assumed command of the brigade in early 1863. In March, the untested 147th New York was assigned to the brigade. Cutler’s final Gettysburg component, the 14th Brooklyn, was added in early June after all the two-year units it had been brigaded with were mustered out. The 14th Brooklyn became the brigade’s most experienced regiment.

On July 1, 1863, Cutler’s brigade led the 1st Corps’ march to Gettysburg where it fired the first Federal infantry shots on the battlefield. As a result of Reynolds’s orders, the brigade soon split into three distinct sections to meet the threat posed by Confederate General Heth’s division and to support Hall’s 2nd Maine battery. Cutler’s men delayed the advance of Archer’s and Davis’s Southern brigades. Then two of its regiments, in conjunction with the 6th Wisconsin, attacked the Rebels holding the railroad cut, which not only ended the morning fight but also led to the capture of a significant number of Southerners.

Despite heavy losses, Cutler’s brigade maintained its battlefield integrity, enabling it to serve along Seminary Ridge on the afternoon of July 1 and on Culp’s Hill the next two days. Cutler’s brigade was one of the few units to fight all three days of the battle, becoming one of only five brigades in the conflict to suffer in excess of 1,000 casualties.

BR: You published the most recent edition of Cutler’s Brigade at Gettysburg 29 years ago. What has happened with this work in the interim?

JM: When Ted sought permission to reprint Cutler’s Brigade, I agreed as long as I could make some changes. The result is a fuller, slightly expanded, revised edition.

When I reformatted the footnotes, I occasionally added extra analysis to emphasize points I made in the text. I not only addressed a few historical flaws but I also included several more soldier accounts that described the July 1 fighting. My ongoing research into the exploits of the 14th Brooklyn led to my discovery of daily field returns for the brigade throughout the campaign. The document, housed at the National Archives and Records Administration, specifies the number of men present for duty each day of the battle, so I incorporated those numbers for the regiments’ strengths rather than the ones I used in the second edition. The maps have been redrawn (and slightly adjusted), and three new appendices have been added. I added a postscript to explain what happened to the brigade and some of its personalities after Gettysburg campaign. Instead of a photographic supplement, the increased number of photos and illustrations has been interspersed throughout the text. Finally, this version of Cutler’s Brigade sports an attractive, full-color dust jacket featuring Allen Redwood’s painting of the 14th Brooklyn at the railroad cut.

BR: Can you describe how long it took to write the book, what the stumbling blocks were, what you discovered along the way that surprised you or went against the grain, what firmed up what you already knew? When did you know you were “done”?

JM: I started my research in 1978, so it took nearly ten years before the first volume appeared in 1987. The expanded, second edition, was published seven years later. I continue to collect source material.

As I mentioned earlier, this volume was intended to be a reprint, but I not only incorporated a fair amount of new material but I also made several revisions or clarifications to the text. When the Gettysburg portion of my 14th Brooklyn study becomes available, readers will find even greater detail concerning that regiment’s role in the battle. However, my subsequent findings confirm the conclusions I made in the three iterations of Cutler’s Brigade.

As for stumbling blocks, there are no memoirs or regimental histories for half of the units in the brigade. With the exception of J. William Hofmann, very few of Cutler’s men left published records of what they had experienced.

Three findings surprised me when I started my research 45 years ago. I soon realized that the 147th New York fought in an isolated position during the morning of July 1. Earlier accounts of the battle placed the regiment in line with the 56th Pennsylvania and 76th New York, which is understandable since their three monuments are together aligned north of the middle railroad cut. Second, I had been unaware of the important role Cutler’s men played in securing and holding Culp’s Hill. On July 2, Greene’s brigade had plenty of help defending the height. Finally, I was surprised by how dismissive many 6th Wisconsin soldiers were to the role of the 14th Brooklyn and 95th New York in capturing the railroad cut, to the point where some of them even claimed that the 14th Brooklyn never made a charge.

I don’t think my research will ever be “done” —I continue to look for information that will enhance or alter my views of what happened on the morning of July 1 at Gettysburg, especially the part played by the 14th Brooklyn.

BR: Can you describe your research and writing process? What online and brick and mortar sources did you rely on most?

JM: When I started this project in 1978, I relied heavily on the following: the MOLLUS Civil War Library and Museum in Philadelphia, which no longer exists; the War College Library in Carlisle, which became the U. S. Army Military History Institute (USAMHI) before changing its name to the United States Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC). Since then, I have personally worked at the New York State Archives, the Museum of the Confederacy, the Library of Congress newspaper files, the Library of Virginia, and the National Archives and Records Administration. Additionally, librarians from the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Oswego Historical Society, the New York State Military Museum, the New York State Library, the New York Historical Society, the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania have kindly forwarded material that I have requested.

Numerous trips to the battlefield helped me visualize and understand the accounts left by the battle’s participants.

I compose my manuscripts the old-fashioned way, with paper and pencil. After several revisions, I bang out the text on my computer.

BR: How has the book been received so far?

JM: The first two editions received favorable reviews. I hope readers will enjoy this revised and expanded Savas Beatie edition.

BR: What’s next for you?

JM: I am working on a multi-volume history of the 14th Brooklyn/14th NYSM. The first volume, already submitted to Savas Beatie, awaits its place in the company’s production schedule. It covers April 1861, when the regiment recruited to wartime strength, through the 2nd Bull Run campaign. The manuscript features 36 full-color maps as well as numerous illustrations and photographs. I am half-way through volume 2.

#82h – Colonel Kenton Harper

7 05 2023

Report of Colonel Kenton Harper, Fifth Virginia



Exactly What the Fifth Virginia Regiment Did at First Manassas




His Report Sent in to General Jackson the Day After the Battle


I present below a very valuable and never before published paper. It is the report of Colonel Kenton Harper, of the Fifth Virginia Infantry, Jackson’s brigade, of the first battle of Manassas, In General Jackson’s report, which appears on the war records, he speaks of the reports of regimental commanders as enclosed. His regimental commanders were Second Virginia, Colonel Allen; Fourth, Colonel J. F. Preston; Fifth, Colonel Kenton Harper; Twenty-seventh, Lieutenant-Colonel John Echols; and Thirty-third, Colonel Arthur Cummings. However, the reports do not appear, and not one of them has ever been discovered. This report was sent me by Captain James Baumgardner, of Staunton, Va., who at the first battle of Manassas was adjutant of Colonel Harper’s regiment, and he obtained it from Mr. L. D. Hooper, a grandson of Colonel Harper, who very graciously allowed him to have it.

The report, it seems, was found amongst the papers of Colonel harper, who has been many years deceased. He was a captain in the Mexican war and a general in our State forces, and he, then an old man, led his regiment at Manassas in a manner that was distinction for himself and made its impression on the fortunes of the field.

The article of Captain Baumgardner in The Times-Dispatch on the Fifth Virginia Infantry at Manassas, attracted the attention of Mr. Hooper and brought about the production of this report. To Captain Baumgardner, as well as to Mr. Hooper, I am much indebted; and it is to be hoped that the efforts of the Times-Dispatch to rescue Virginia History from neglect, will be farther successful in similar ways.

John. W. Daniel


Copy of Original Document

Headquarters Fifth Infantry
Camp Jackson, July 22, 1861

General[1],–In compliance with your order, I respectfully submit the following report of the part taken by my command, the Fifth Regiment of Virginia Infantry, which forms part of your brigade, in the action of yesterday, 21st instant.

About 4 A.M. I repaired as directed by you to the position occupied by General Longstreet, where I held my command for some considerable time, in anticipation of an advance of the enemy on that point, until it became manifest to you that the demonstration made was but a feint. Under your orders I then reunited with the rest of your brigade and moved to a position on the right of General Cocke’s and in rear of Colonel Bartoe’s command, where I remained about one hour. My regiment was again reunited to the brigade and advanced to a position in rare of General Bee’s brigade. Here I was ordered to advance to support of a battery then being brought into a position on my left. My instructions were to hold on to the position until the enemy approached over the crest of the hill, which would bring them within about fifty yards, when I was to fire upon them and charge. This order I executed in part, though subjected to an annoying fire of artillery and musketry, sheltering my men as best I could in my position of inactivity. Very soon, however, our forces in front began to give way and retreated in numbers by my flanks and through my files. Finding it impossible under such circumstances to execute your order, I concluded to advance my regiment to the brow of the hill, to ascertain what I could there effect for the support of our friends. Seeing the enemy were not within five or six hundred yards of the line, and that many of our troops were still in the front, I determined to fall back upon my original position, to avoid the danger of firing upon our friends, which I did,

There I halted the command in good order, but soon the increasing number of our retiring friends, who paid little regard to my lines, induced me to make a second advance. On reaching the top of the hill, however, I found the enemy advancing from different points, and after a brief contest, I again retired to my first position, and subsequently fell back through the skirt of woods in my rear.

Here I found General Bee actively engaged in an effort to rally his scattered forces, in which he partially succeeded. I at once approached him and offered my co-operation. Very soon, however, General Beauregard appeared on the field, under whose orders I subsequently acted. We advanced at once upon the enemy, keeping up a brisk and effective fire, which caused them to give way.

After regaining the summit of the hill I ordered a charge to be made upon a battery of six pieces, commanded by Captain Ricketts, but such was the eagerness of the men in keeping up their fire upon the retiring foe, I could rally only a portion of the command to the work. At this juncture a considerable number of our troops of different commands had rallied on my left and formed perpendicularly to my line – who were seemingly inactive. I dispatched my adjutant to inform them of my purpose and invite their co-operation which was promptly given. My own men on the right being nearer to the battery reached it first, driving the enemy by their fire in advancing upon the pieces. T wo of my men were wounded at the guns.

I immediately called upon my command to know whether any of them could manage them and receiving no response, I advanced my regiment to a hill on the right where Colonel Robert Preston’s regiment was stationed.

There being no enemy, however, in that direction against whom we could operate, orders were received from General Beauregard to move towards Centreville by way of the stone bridge. While passing by the battery, I found it operating against the retiring enemy in the distance. This, I am informed, was done by order of Colonel James F. Preston, of our brigade., who it appears had been cooperating with me with a portion of his command.

After passing beyond the stone bridge the troops were halted and held together until near sunset when my command was marched back to Manassas Junction.

I have only to add the expression of my warm acknowledgments to Lieutenant-Colonels Harman and Baylor for their earnest and hearty co-operation throughout the protracted conflict, as well as to the adjutant and officers and men generally of the command. The loss of the regiment was six killed, forty-seven wounded and thirteen missing.

With high respect,
Your obedient servant,
Colonel Fifth Infantry

GEN’L T. J. Jackson
Comg. First Va. Brigade


General: Colonel Harper, of the Fifth Virginia Regiment. respectfully requests that the wounded of his regiment, residing in Staunton, be sent thither, at once, for treatment and attention of their relatives.

Respectfully Your obedient servant,
Colonel Fifth Va. Infantry

July 22, 1861.

For General Beauregard.



Richmond Times Dispatch, May 7, 1905

Clipping Image

Contributed and transcribed by John Hennessy

Letter image

[1] Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson

Kenton Harper at Ancestry

Kenton Harper at Fold3

Kenton Harper at FindAGrave

Kenton Harper at Wikipedia

Preview: Cameron, “Tar Heels in Gray”

2 05 2023

A 2021 release from McFarland & Company is Tar Heels in Gray: Life in the 30th North Carolina Infantry in the Civil War, by the late John B. Cameron. This is an interesting work, akin to Joseph Glatthaar’s Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia, with lots of statistics digging into the makeup of the regiment. In fact, some of the many tables in the book compare the author’s findings in the micro to Glatthaar’s in the macro. From the jacket:

The 30th North Carolina Infantry was involved in most of the major battles in Virginia from the Seven Days through the surrender at Appomattox, and saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the American Civil War. Two-thirds of these men volunteered early; the others were enlisted at the point of a bayonet. Their casualty rate was high, the rate of death from disease was higher and the desertion and AWOL rate was higher still. What was the war actually like for these men? What was their economic status? To what extent were they involved in the institution of slavery? What were their lives like in the Army? What did they believe they were fighting for and did those views change over time? This book answers those questions and depicts Civil War soldiers as they were, rather than as appendages to famous generals or symbols of myth. It focuses on the realities of the men themselves, not their battles. In addition to the author’s personal collection of letters and other contemporary records, it draws upon newly discovered letters, diaries, memoirs, census records, and published works.

What you get:

  • 138 pages of text, in 10 chapters, a preface, an intro, a conclusion, and an appendix. The chapters are broken down by topic. The history is not chronological.
  • 23 pages of endnotes
  • Full bibliography including unpublished and archival sources.
  • Index
  • Numerous tables and graphs

Central Ohio Civil War Round Table, 4/12/2023

27 04 2023

A couple weeks ago I presented a talk to about 15 folks at the Central Ohio Civil War Round Table in Gahanna, OH (near Columbus). Interesting venue…two (s) screens for my video. It was a little rough because they wanted me to stay in frame for the YouTube, and I like to move around. But all in all I think a good show, even if I had a small foul-up referring to the 38th New York as the Harper’s Ferry Cowards (they were not) and to its Colonel John Hobart Ward as dying at Gettysburg (he did not). Sorry about that…it sounded wrong as soon as I said it. Getting old has been a blast. Being old, on the other hand…

Thanks to Round Table program guru Mike Peters for having me, and for a great trip to the Motts Military Museum, which should be on everyone’s list when they visit Columbus.

Mike Peters, his grandson Aedyn, and me. Oh, and a real, live, genuine Higgins boat.
A button taken from the coat of Elmer Ellsworth of the 11th New York Infantry
The place is chock full of cool stuff. This is my favorite – the lens and lens cap Matthew Brady used to take the iconic photo of Robert E. Lee in Richmond after Appomattox. The lens shows the marks from where Lee’s eyes burned a hole in it. That’s humor right there, folks. Thanks, I’m here all week.
Also the door from the cell block in which John Hunt Morgan was held in the Ohio State Penitentiary
And an audience with the great man Warren Motts himself in his sanctum sanctorum, which was filled to overflowing with really, really cool stuff. Warren’s son Wayne did not fall far from the tree.

New Rumley, OH – Birthplace of George Armstrong Custer

17 04 2023

On my way home from Columbus, OH (where I spoke to the Central Ohio Civil War Round Table) last week, I took a little detour to New Rumley, Ohio. It turns out this little spot is only about an hour from my house. New Rumley is famous as the birth place of Bull Runner George Armstrong Custer, who was attached to Co. G of the 2nd U. S. Cavalry there. The following images are I think self explanatory.

The humor here, while undeniable, was unintentional.

The Citadel, Charleston, SC

16 04 2023

Last month I was in Charleston, SC to speak to the Fort Sumter Civil War Round Table. The venue was Duckett Hall at The Citadel. While in town I took a little time to tour some of the campus with my brother. Lots of history there (though the campus moved here after the war – it was located on what is today Marion Square), including a WWII major and general of some note, vehicles, swords, flags, and Bull Runners. Here we go:

Stained glass in Alumni Hall
Big Red Alumni Hall
First Alumni Association president Charles Tew, killed at the head of the 2nd SC Infantry in the Sunken Road at Antietam.
Summerall Field. My brother and an F4 Phantom similar to those he worked on in Viet Nam. (This is an Air Force model, not the Marine model he worked on.)
Grave of General Mark Clark, also a former Citadel president.
The Howie Carillon, dedicated to the Major of St. Lo.
Tablet listing names of cadets killed in the Civil War #1.
Bull Runner Micah Jenkins, Colonel of the 5th SC
Charles Tew, KIA at Antietam

In the Library

Charles Tew portrait in Library

Paintings of Cadet actions in the Civil War

Bull Runner Lt. Geroge D. Johnston of the 4th AL Infantry.
Johnston’s sword
Summerall Field

Ft. Johnson and Hampton Park, Charleston, SC

11 04 2023

While in Charleston, SC to present to the Fort Sumter Civil War Round Table last month, I took some time to visit a couple Civil War related sites. First up was Ft. Johnson, at the end of Ft. Johnson Road on James Island, not far from my brother’s house where I was staying. Per the American Battlefield Trust:

In September of 1775, the Council of Safety ordered William Moultrie, commander of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment [more on that regiment and one of its commanders later], to seize Fort Johnson on the northeast point of James Island in Charleston County, South Carolina. Moultrie assigned Colonel Isaac Motte to command three 50-man companies led by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Barnard Elliott, and Francis Marion to attack the fort. Motte took possession of the fort with little resistance, and this capture was the first-time soldiers raised the new South Carolina over a property previously controlled by the Crown. Decades later, on April 12, 1861, at 4:30 a.m., a flaming mortar shot from Fort Johnson arced into the air and exploded over Fort Sumter, marking the official beginning of the American Civil War. Confederate soldiers buried the structure during the war, but the fort was uncovered in 1931. In 1972, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ft. Sumter in the distance
Zoom to Ft. Sumter

I also took made a quick stop at Hampton Park, near the Citadel, which was the site of what many call the nation’s first “Memorial Day:”

Hampton Park is a large site. The historic marker above is the only evidence of the event I observed (Visit Historic Charleston)

Hibernian Society, Charleston, SC

10 04 2023

While in Charleston the week of this past St. Patrick’s Day to present to the Ft. Sumter Civil War Roundtable, I made a pit stop with my brother at the Hibernian Society, where he is a member. The organization is a society, not a club, and is not affiliated with the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH). A National Historic Landmark, the Hibernian Hall was completed in 1840, and hosted the Stephen Douglas faction of the Democrat party in the convention of 1860. The building suffered some damage from direct hits during Federal shelling of the town during the war – renovations sometimes turn up evidence.

Hibernian Hall facade (Wikipedia)
Hibernian Hall in 1865 (Wikipedia)

We entered the Hall from the members entrance:

A quick tour of the interior:

The rotunda
The reception all decked out for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Check out the harps on the chandelier.
The Society gives back to the community. Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco translates roughly to Not unaware of suffering (bad things), I learn to help the miserable (the unhappy) (from Virgil’s Aeneid)

Now for a Bull Run connection. Remember Captain James Conner, of the Washington Light Infantry, Co. A, Hampton’s Legion, a Bull Runner whose grave I visited in Magnolia Cemetery?

It turns out, Conner was president of the Hibernian Society from 1871-1874. His portrait hangs with all the other past presidents.

You can read some of Conner’s Bull Run correspondence here, here, and here.

Conner’s portrait once displayed in the South Carolina state house