Archive for the ‘Civil War Saturday’ Category
Oliver Otis Howard, born November 8th, 1830, in Leeds, Maine, was a star-crossed general in the federal Army during the Civil War. He was an officer of unquestioned bravery, with a deep devotion to his Christian faith, and terribly maligned for actions that, in the main, were beyond his ability to control. Despite the political ravages of his enemies, his life was one of great accomplishment in the face of adversity, and for the benefit of others.
Howard lost his father at the age of 9, and with it the innocence of youth. His schooling included Monmouth Academy, Yarmouth Academy, and Kent’s Hill School, prior to graduating from Bowdoin College at the age of 19, in 1850. Afterwards, he gained acceptance to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1854, 4th in a class of 46 cadets. He was commissioned as a brevet 2nd Lieutenant of Ordnance, and posted to Watervliet Arsenal in New York. Shortly thereafter, he became the commander of the Kennebec Arsenal, in Augusta, Maine.
It was at Kennebec that Howard started his real career. Maine, with it’s many rivers and tidal estuaries, had 11 rolling mills producing black powder. By 1865, those mills had produced a staggering 1/3 of ALL the black powder used for small arms ammunition in the federal Armies during the civil war. The oversight by Howard set the Kennebec Arsenal in good stead to start production of small arms cartridges, which it did, along qith other items, through the course of the war.
In 1861, Howard was granted a leave of absence from the Regular Army to accept a volunteer commission as a Colonel, leading the newly-formed 3rd Regiment, Maine Volunteer Infantry. Shortly after arriving in Washington, DC, Howard was placed in charge of the brigade to which the 3rd was attached, and for his conduct at Bull Run in July, 1861, he was promoted on September 3rd to Brigadier General.
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Tim’s unable to do a full write up this week (I think it might be weather-related power issues) but here’s a photo I happened across:
“They also serve, who only stand and wait”.
As the last line in John Milton’s Poem “On His Blindness”, he uses the phrase to point out that, despite his seeming disability, he has a place in God’s plans for the world.
Sarah S. Sampson also had a bar to serving her country: She was a woman. Born in Maine in 1832, she married Charles A.L. Sampson, of Bath, Maine, on Valentine’s day of 1855. Theirs was a happy, if childless, marriage, with Charles being noted as a sculptor of figureheads for sailing ships. One of his works still survives today in Mystic Seaport’s museum.
When war broke out in 1861, Charles was commissioned into the 3rd Maine Infantry, two of whose companies (A&D) were recruited from the city of Bath. The original Colonel of the 3rd was Oliver Otis Howard, later to command the 11th Corps and then the Army of the Tennessee on the march through Georgia. All that was to come much later, though.
Thomas Worcester Hyde, was born in Florence, Italy, on January 15, 1841, while his parents were touring Europe. Returning to Bath, Maine, he led a somewhat privileged life, graduating from Bowdoin College in 1861. He also received a concurrent degree from the University of Chicago at the same time.
Hyde had gone to Chicago earlier, enrolled in the University, and while there, met and was befriended by Elmer Ellsworth, then a leading Militia Officer in Illinois, and famous for introducing the Zouave style of uniform and light infantry drill during the 1850’s. Ellsworth taught Hyde the Zouave Drill, as it was then known, and also took Hyde to the WigWam, where he was present when Lincoln was nominated for the Presidency as the Republican candidate. After his election, Hyde was introduced to Lincoln, who had heard of the young man, and who offered Hyde the job of providing security for the President-Elect on his trip to Washington. Hyde was flattered, but fearing he was too young graciously declined the job, which was then offered to Ellsworth, who accepted.
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In American Civil War literature, no single item of equipment has had such a poor treatment as the bayonet. First appearing in the 17th century, the first known examples were said to have derived their name from the French Town of Bayonne, where it is alleged they were developed. Hard to say for certain.
What can be said for certain is that, by the time of the Civil War, the bayonet was still seen as an integral part of the Infantryman’s kit, and many descriptions of both fact and fantasy were given of bayonet charges, coupled with cries of “Give ‘em the cold steel, boys!” by writers and politicians alike.
However, after the civil war, and interesting thing happened. Historians started to report that, despite all it’s reputation, the bayonet was hardly used at all! How could this be? How could so many period letters and accounts be so wildly inaccurate?
There is a military axiom which says:
Amateurs discuss tactics. Professionals discuss logistics.
Great captains from our earliest days have understood that having an army does you no good if you cannot feed it, clothe it, arm it, and train it. This was a lesson learned, and that right well, by both sides during our own Civil War.
During the Civil War, the daily ration for an enlisted man in the Federal Army was as follows: (from US Army Regulations, (rev) 1863)
- 12 ounces of pork or bacon, or
- 1 pound and 4 ounces of salt or fresh beef
Note from Murdoc: This is a new weekly feature we’re going to try out here at Murdoc Online. It’s going to be run and written by longtime MO commenter AW1 Tim. I’m sure that there a lot of other readers interested in the Civil War, and it would be great to get additional discussion in the comments section. Welcome, Tim!
Jonathan Letterman was appointed to the position of Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac in June of 1862. He was given Carte Blanche to enact such reforms and organization as he thought best and he engaged his duties with great vigor.
Prior to his appointment, virtually all medical services of the AoP were on the regimental level. Each regiment had a surgeon an assistant surgeon, a Hospital Steward, and 2-3 men detailed to act as orderlies. Each regiment usually had a motley collection of ambulances and wagons to support the medical staff, and the entire system was broken and inefficient. Letterman set about to rectify that.