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.





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.