“Five Days of Awful Fighting”: A Brief Summary of the Cavalry Operations at Cold Harbor

Today, 152 years ago, Union and Confederate cavalry clashed northeast of Richmond at a place called Haw’s Shop. It had been a little over two weeks since the fight at Meadow Bridge, the last time the cavalry had faced each other on the field of battle. Haw’s Shop ushered in a period of the Overland Campaign which culminated on June 3, 1864 at Cold Harbor. Today, the famous Union infantry assaults at Cold Harbor overshadow the mounted engagements that took place between May 28 and June 1. Interestingly enough, but expected in a long campaign, the horse soldiers in  blue and gray were both undergoing a transition when they clashed in the fields, hills and ravines between the Pamunkey and Chickahominy Rivers.

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Posted in Armies, Battles, Campaigns, Cavalry, Civil War Events, Common Soldier, Leadership--Confederate, Leadership--Federal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lunsford Lindsay Lomax or Lindsay Lunsford Lomax?

Another installment from the “Tales from the Tombstone series.”

On one of my last driving trips in Virginia before relocating, I passed through the town of Warrenton, Virginia. Rich in Civil War history, the Warrenton City Cemetery has a Confederate section, complete with a Virginia Civil War trails marker at the entrance. One of the more famous Civil War personas is buried there,  Colonel John S. Mosby, who turned Northern Virginia into his own Confederacy.

But, also buried there is another cavalry general, and he was actually the reason I took the detour.

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Posted in Emerging Civil War, Leadership--Confederate, Memory, Monuments | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Penn Yan, NY, Cemetery Yields Old Acquaintance

While surveying the Lakeview Cemetery in Penn Yan, NY, recently, I stumbled upon an old acquaintance – John Morrison Oliver.

Grave of John M. Oliver

Grave of John M. Oliver

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3 Days Left To Register For CA Civil War Conference!

1861 Marching To War Civil War ConferenceNow is the hour to send in your registration for The American Civil War Conference – 1861: Marching To War. Don’t miss this all-day event on Saturday, June 4, 2016, in Temecula, California, bringing historians, researchers, and history enthusiasts together for discussions, presentations, and camaraderie.

Registration closes on May 30th! Continue reading

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A Word on Behalf of Preservation from the Banks of the North Anna

Henegan's Redoubt-Barley-Angle-smOn the evening of May 26, the Army of the Potomac pulled away from the North Anna River. With a feint to the west, the army juked back east and swung across the Pamunkey toward the Totopotomoy.

Before we leave the North Anna, it’s worth taking one last look around. Continue reading

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Black Confederates: Laborers or Soldiers? (part four)

Part four of a series

Some people suggested using slaves to fight from the very beginning of the war. However, the overwhelming fear was of slave insurrection. The John Brown raid was less than two years before the Civil War began.

In New Orleans, Louisiana, the Native Guards (free and enslaved blacks) had been in the Louisiana militia, a black tradition since 1727. They were ready to fight to defend Louisiana, as many of the free black men were wealthy and had French, Spanish, and Creole blood. Many were educated in Europe.

However, the Confederate States of America did not accept them into the Confederate army—contrary to what is said today—because the Confederate army did not allow the arming of the slaves or free blacks. In fact, these men did not get any weapons from the CSA nor the state of Louisiana. When New Orleans fell to the Union army, the Native Guard stayed and eventually became troops in the Union army (73rd, 74th, and 75th USCT). The Louisiana Native Guards were never troops in the Confederate army.

As the war progressed and there were no mass rebellions, Southern whites thought that their slaves were loyal to them. Continue reading

Posted in Antebellum South, Common Soldier, Slavery, USCT | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hood’s “Miserbels”

Here’s a new take on “Lee’s Miserables.”

Recall that Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables appeared in print in 1862 and became a favorite in Lee’s army. After its translation and publication by a Richmond firm, a “soldier edition” was distributed throughout the army in the winter of 1863-64, printed on “Confederate ‘sheep’s wool paper,’” according to Maj. Robert Stiles.

“Everywhere, you might see the gaunt figures in their tattered jackets bending over the dingy pamphlets—‘Fantine,’ ‘Cosette,’ or ‘Marius,’ or ‘St. Denis,’” remembered John Esten Cooke. “The soldiers, little familiar with the Gallic pronunciation, called the book ‘Lee’s Miserables!’” Continue reading

Posted in Books & Authors, Civil War in Pop Culture, Common Soldier, Western Theater | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Black Confederates: Laborers or Soldiers? (part three)

Chandler Slave with masterpart three in a series

At the beginning of the Civil War, blacks tried to enlist in both armies as soldiers but were denied by both. Enslaved men were taken to the Confederate army by their slaveowners. Free blacks were paid to work in the army and the military industry in various positions, especially blacksmiths, wheelwrights, carpenters, and iron workers. The Union army also employed black tradesmen, cooks, servants, and scouts. In fact, Sergeant Nimrod Burke of the 23rd USCT, started the war in 1861 as a teamster and scout for the 36th Ohio Infantry, before joining the 23rd in 1864.

In 1862, the Confederate army started to impress blacks to serve as laborers, especially, to dig fortifications for the defenses of the cities and for the troops on battlefields. They did not want to arm blacks because of the following reasons: Negroes were inferior to white men; they were made genteel by the many decades of slavery (especially since Nat Turner’s rebellion); they would run to the Yankee lines if they were near the front; and many Southerners were afraid of massive slave insurrections. Continue reading

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Building Bristoe and Kettle Run: Public Meeting

We told you last week about an opportunity to have a voice in shaping the future of the Kettle Run and Bristoe Station battlefields. Just a reminder, for anyone interesting in having their voices heard, that tonight is the public meeting:

Bristoe Flier

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Like Sheep

Sheep Over FenceThe use of cliché is prevalent in Civil War combat narratives. Every attacking force, by their description, always had to charge through “a hail of grape and canister.” This was repeated ad nauseam regardless of whether or not there was even artillery present at the assaulted point. Historians often borrow such descriptions, and who can blame them. Civil War soldiers would scoff at the notion that we have any subject matter authority. “No man can form any idea of what it is like to go into a battle or charge without having been in one,” wrote Private William L. Phillips, 5th Wisconsin Infanty, on April 1, 1865, one day before his mortal wounding at the Petersburg Breakthrough.[1]

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