The Superhuman Henry Recor at the Petersburg Breakthrough

I have yet to find a Civil War story as compelling and consequential as that of Captain Charles G. Gould, the first Sixth Corps soldier to breach the Confederate lines on the morning of April 2, 1865. Union soldiers from the Second, Ninth, and Twenty-fourth Corps grappled with Confederates all throughout that decisive day, both army commanders came under enemy fire, a lieutenant general was shot dead, and the day ended with Richmond and Petersburg evacuated and in flame. Nevertheless, when discussing the Breakthrough I find that I dwell in most detail on the Charlie Gould story.

Every hero needs a sidekick and the captain’s comrades played a pivotal part that I sometimes overlook when shining a light on Gould. Were it not for Corporal Henry Recor, Gould would not have even survived the battle. The valiant manner in which Recor also fought during the Breakthrough inspired his commanding officers to effuse praise with rare language for the usual dryly written after action reports.

Henry H. Recor was born about 1843-1844 in Plattsburgh, New York to Canadian immigrants Max and Addie Jellie Recor. He grew up in West Chazy, New York and lived there at the outbreak of the Civil War. During the second year of the war Henry enlisted in Williamstown, Vermont as a private in Company D, 12th Vermont Infantry. He mustered into service on October 4, 1862. The company descriptive book listed him as a nineteen year old farmer standing 5’6” with a dark complexion, blue eyes, and dark hair.

The 12th Vermont spent the majority of its nine months’ service in northern Virginia. On June 25, 1863, they were attached to the First Corps, but Recor’s service records show that he was admitted as a patient into Washington’s Harewood General Hospital on that day. He presumably missed the Gettysburg campaign. The 12th Vermont’s terms of enlistment were about to expire so the regiment marched at the rear of the column into Pennsylvania and guarded the wagon train. After the battle they escorted Confederate prisoners to Baltimore and then travelled home to Vermont. Private Recor rejoined the regiment to muster out of service on July 14.

The following year he decided to reenlist as a subsitute. Jude Town of Barre, Vermont paid him $300 to serve in his place and Recor additionally received one quarter of the one hundred dollar bounty up front. On June 4, 1864, he mustered into Company A of the 5th Vermont Infantry. The veteran unit belonged to the Second Brigade, Second Division, of the Sixth Corps and was banded with five other Vermont regiments under Brigadier General Lewis A. Grant’s command.[1]

Recor needed to find the Vermont Brigade before he could join them. During the middle of June 1864 the Army of the Potomac had focused their attention on Petersburg, Virginia. The Vermonters fought hard along the Petersburg & Weldon Railroad on June 23 and afterward took position in the trenches near the Jerusalem Plank Road. Recor meanwhile travelled to New Haven, Connecticut to rendezvous with other reenlistees, recruits, and draftees. They sailed south on July 10 and arrived at Fort Monroe, Virginia on July 14. Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant had meanwhile rushed the Sixth Corps back to Washington to defend the national capital against Confederate invasion.

The ships’ paths crossed without transferring Recor to his unit and the private found himself shuffled through various recruit camps in Washington and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania before finally arriving to his company on September 28. He participated in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley campaign for the next two months. In December the corps returned to the Petersburg fortifications.

On January 2, 1865, Recor received a promotion to corporal and thereafter served in the color guard. Lieutenant Colonel Ronald A. Kennedy took charge of the regiment in February and afterwards noted Recor’s courage and professionalism. “As a soldier he is not excelled… his record gives evidence of his being courteous in his demeanor, and brave upon the field of battle,” the commander wrote. “His conduct has been exemplary, as regards military discipline, politeness to his superior officers, cleanliness of person, arms and equipments, and gentlemanly bearing toward his fellow soldiers.”[2]

The 5th Vermont’s color guard played a prominent role in the decisive assault on April 2, 1865. During the final offensive at Petersburg (March 29-April 3, 1865), the Sixth Corps had standing orders to attack the fortifications southwest of Petersburg as soon as they discovered the Confederates had diminished their garrison. Mobile Union columns operated through Dinwiddie County and Ulysses S. Grant expected the Confederates to shift south to block their path to the supply lines.

Major General Horatio G. Wright commanded the Sixth Corps and instructed his subordinates to identify weak points along the imposing Confederates earthworks they were to storm. Heavy tree cover had shielded the Confederate lines from observation when they were constructed the previous fall. Both armies chopped away at this screen for fuel and building materials throughout the winter. The corps had also overran the Confederate picket line on March 25, 1865 during the battle of Jones Farm. Capturing these rifle pits allowed the Union soldiers to complete their clear-cutting of the forest in no-man’s land. The advanced position additionally provided the Union officers a closer observation point to the Confederate lines.

The Vermont Brigade’s Lewis Grant identified a marshy ravine formed by the headwaters of Arthur’s Swamp that passed through the Confederate defenses. The creek broadened as it flowed into the Union lines and Grant believed he could form his brigade in the now-treeless valley and use the terrain as a physical guide for a nighttime attack. Wright approved Grant’s tactics and drafted specific instructions for the entire corps to attack with the Vermonters in the lead. Opportunity to execute this plan arrived at 4 p.m. on April 1, 1865, with orders from Major General George G. Meade for the Sixth Corps to attack the following morning. Ulysses S. Grant afterward amended these orders for the entire Union army to press forward.

Throughout the night the Sixth Corps formed behind their picket line. Lieutenant Colonel Kennedy’s 5th Vermont formed the tip of the 14,000 man wedge. Lewis Grant stacked his other five regiments behind Kennedy and Wright formed the rest of the corps en echelon on both flanks. The men spent an unnerving night within earshot and gunshot of the Confederate sentries. A lone signal gun fired at 4:40 a.m., April 2, and the men jolted forward. The attackers easily overwhelmed the pickets in their rifle pits but enough sentries squeezed off a shot to alert the Confederates encamped behind the main earthworks four to five hundred yards away. Brigadier General James H. Lane’s four North Carolina regiments rushed to the wall and poured volleys into the packed Union ranks.

The attacking column wavered under enemy fire after passing the rifle pits. Multiple lines of abatis blocked their path to the fortifications. The Arthur’s Swamp valley meanwhile meandered about as it approached the Confederate lines. Additional headwaters branches flowed into the main channel, complicating the use of the swamp as a physical guide. Despite Wright’s intentions for the attack to move forward with speed, small bands of soldiers paused in these defilades of the rolling terrain to prepare for the final push into the teeth of the Confederate defenses.

Captain Charles G. Gould commanded Company H in the 5th Vermont. As Gould led his men through the ravine he heard someone shout “Bear to the left!” Perhaps the command was intended to keep the men in the swamp as it made the final bend toward the Confederate line. An officer in Colonel Thomas W. Hyde’s brigade to the right of the Vermonters may also have been yelling at his men to keep them closed in on the center of the Union wedge. Confederate engineers wisely placed a two-gun artillery redan at a salient position to enfilade where the swamp passed through the line. The connecting infantry works additionally refused backward to a junction at the swamp. Heavy fire blanketed the final approach into Confederate lines. Gould may have sought a covered approach into the defenses by using one of the headwaters ravines just south of Lewis Grant’s target.

Whatever the reason, Gould directed Company H out of the main channel and into the defilade. First Lieutenant Robert Pratt, First Sergeants James Grace and Edward Brownlee, the regimental color guard (including Corporal Recor), and about fifty men from several companies followed the captain. Gould briefly paused to assess the situation. Separated from the main column, he did not want to linger in no-man’s land. He directed the men to attack straight ahead rather than return to the main channel. The small band dashed for the Confederate defenses and reached the trench below the parapet before Grant’s main column struck the opening one hundred yards to the north. Gould found a gap in the abatis and bounded into the earthworks before any of his companions arrived. Alone, he fought in vicious hand-to-hand combat with members of Major Jackson L. Bost’s 37th North Carolina Infantry.

The color guard followed close behind the captain. Sergeant Jackson Sargent bore the state flag to the front while Corporal Nelson Carle trailed a few steps behind with the national banner. Recor burst ahead of the color bearers and scaled the defenses just as the garrison overpowered Captain Gould. Lieutenant Colonel Kennedy noted that Recor was “among the first to enter the fort.” Inside the defenses he “became hotly engaged hand-to-hand, and badly in numbers against him.” Bost’s Confederates swarmed toward the corporal and “demanded a surrender he would not listen to.” Recor instead unleashed a “desperate attack” on those demanding his surrender. Gould had also fought back at first but now attempted to escape by climbing out of the fortifications. A North Carolinian yanked him back by his coat while another stabbed him in the back with a bayonet. The captain crumpled back to the ground and lay “helplessly upon the ground” while Confederates beat him with clubbed muskets.[3]

Recor raced over to the dazed captain, seized him by his collar, and pulled him up to the parapet. Kennedy wrote that “by almost superhuman effort,” Recor dragged Gould’s battered body out of the entrenchment. Lewis Grant borrowed the phrase when recognizing Recor, writing that “by almost superhuman efforts he seized the Captain by the collar of his coat and placed him in a protected position outside of the works.” Several men from Company H cradled the unconscious captain to safety in the ditch under cover from the Confederate fire.[4]

Sargent and Carle had meanwhile planted their flags upon the parapet as the rest of Gould’s band swarmed into the fortification. Hand-to-hand combat continued along the wall for a few minutes. The main storming party meanwhile broke through at the swamp and turned the loaded guns in the two-gun redan against the Confederates before they could rally. The five Union brigades to the right of the Vermonters and additional two to their left achieved similar success after brief, bloody combat along the earthworks. Wright reported at 5:15 a.m. that his corps had carried the Confederate position. The decisiveness of the Breakthrough at Petersburg forced the evacuation of Richmond that night.

Photograph of Captain Charles Gilbert Gould taken after the Breakthrough, the scar from his bayonet wound visible under his lip. (Courtesy of the University of Vermont)

Captain Gould miraculously survived his wounds. Though delirious when he regained consciousness, he staggered the one mile back to Union lines and brought the first confirmation that the Vermonters had breached the walls. Two decades later he wrote what he remembered after receiving his last bayonet wound: “I have do distinction of what followed, until I found myself at the parapet, trying to climb out of the work, but unable to do so. At this time Private [Corporal] Henry H. Recor, Company A, Fifth Vermont, appeared upon the parapet at that point. The brave fellow recognized the situation, and notwithstanding the danger incurred in doing so, pulled me upon the parapet.”[5]

Recor’s part in the engagement ended shortly afterward. Lieutenant Colonel Kennedy stated that Recor left Gould in the ditch and “immediately returned to the fray.” Soon thereafter he suffered a shell wound that forced him out of action. Gould, however, wrote that Recor received a gunshot wound while in the act of saving him. It is therefore unclear whether Recor charged back into the fortification after he pulled out Gould, but his actions clearly made a distinct impression upon the members of the brigade. Lewis Grant was wounded in the head before the Sixth Corps began their charge. Though not present at the actual point of breakthrough, he afterward heard enough about Recor’s heroics to declare that the corporal “contributed all in the power of one man towards securing the possession of the works and driving the enemy from the field.”[6]

Recor’s name appears throughout the after action reports. Lieutenant Colonel Kennedy briefly mentioned Recor on April 4, 1865. He described Gould’s hand-to-hand combat inside the Confederate fortifications and noted that the captain “was released from his dangerous position by a few men of his company and Corporal Recor of Company A.” Five days later, Kennedy submitted a two page description of Recor’s activity during the Breakthrough to the Vermont Brigade’s assistant adjutant general, Captain Merritt Barber, writing, “It is with pleasure that I submit this statement of the highly commendable and manly conduct of Corporal Recor.”[7]

Lewis Grant recommended that fourteen enlisted men receive medals for their actions on April 2, 1865. He identified Recor “for conspicuous gallantry in being one of the first to enter the enemy’s works and in rescuing Captain Gould, who had been bayoneted, and who was being beaten with the muskets of the enemy.” Brigadier General George W. Getty, commanding the division, did not include Recor among the twelve enlisted men he recommended for medals, but did list the corporal among those “deserving of especial honorable mention for gallant and meritorious conduct.”[8]

Only three enlisted men from the Vermont Brigade received a Medal of Honor for the Breakthrough: Sergeant Sargent, the color bearer; Sergeant Lester G. Hack, Company F, 5th Vermont; and Corporal Charles W. Dolloff, Company K, 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery. After breaching the Confederate lines at Arthur’s Swamp, the Sixth Corps swept four miles south to Hatcher’s Run. During this running fight down the Confederate line, Hack knocked down the color bearer of the 23rd Tennessee Infantry and seized his flag, and Dolloff captured the flag of the 42nd Mississippi Infantry. Gould and Adjutant Gardner Hawkins also earned medals for the brigade.

Recor’s ankle wound caused him to stay in a hospital at City Point while the army chased the Confederates to Appomattox. Surgeons diagnosed it as a “shell wound left lower extremity, involving outer aspect, middle 3d.” According to Vermont historian Paul Zeller’s research, the shell struck Recor about six inches below his left knee, took out some muscle, injured the bone, and cut a tendon. Recor was sent to Washington, D.C., arriving April 29 at Mount Pleasant General Hospital. After a month of recuperation he was sent on to Montpelier, Vermont, arriving at Sloan General Hospital on May 30.[9]

Recor applied for a disability pension the following month. He received a written statement from the recently brevetted Major Gould to support his claim. Gould testified that the corporal “performed a noble act of bravery, periling his own life to save mine.” Recor’s pension was approved for $6 per month for his ankle wound, as well as rheumatism and heart trouble.[10]

Company A mustered out of service in Washington on June 29, 1865, but the injured Recor officially mustered out of the army on July 11. While doing so he received a pleasant surprise. A patriotic citizen had sent Ulysses S. Grant $460 to give to the first soldier to raise the Stars and Stripes over Richmond. The decisiveness of the Breakthrough at Petersburg compelled the Confederates to immediately evacuate their capital, and the city fell without a fight along its defenses or in its streets. Grant therefore wanted to reward those who fought around Petersburg and requested that his subordinates submit recommendations.

Lewis Grant forwarded Recor’s name for consideration, stating that he was the first enlisted man to enter the Confederate fortifications, “considerably in advance” of the rest of the men. The brigade commander stated: “It is believed that no more conspicuous gallantry could have been displayed by one man than was displayed by Corpl. Recor on this occasion.” Ulysses S. Grant ultimately selected three soldiers from different units to receive the official reward: Corporal Jacob R. Tucker, 4th Maryland Infantry, 5th Corps; Sergeant David W. Young, 139th Pennsylvania Infantry, 6th Corps; and Sergeant Thomas McGraw, 23rd Illinois Infantry, 24th Corps. Anonymous donors provided additional sums and Lewis Grant’s testimony highlighted Recor as worthy of the honor.[11]

Recor received $150 from “Uncle Sam” when he mustered out. The Vermont Watchman agreed that he earned this prize for fighting alongside Gould: “Both were set upon by a large number of rebels who suceeded in bayoneting the Captain through the mouth and cheek and otherwise severely wounding him until he fell, and only by the most daring and heroic exertions of young Recor was he seized and borne beyond the reach of the bloodthirsty enemy and his life saved.” Recor had meanwhile married Almira H. Vasser on June 16, 1865. The newspaper commended the “good sense on the part of the fair maid who has recently joined hands with him for life.”[12]

A few biographical details round out his story. Like his father, Henry worked as a stone mason after the war. He briefly settled in Williamstown but moved to Barre within a decade. The Recors lived on 12 Pearl Street, where Henry continued his trade. He also served as a police officer and his well-earned pension was increased to $10 per month in 1892. Henry and Almira had four children: Charles, born March 15, 1866; Alice M., born August 2, 1871; Bessie O., born June 19, 1879; and Blanch B., born March 20, 1882. Henry and Almira moved to Manchester, New Hampshire in 1903 and lived on 285 Chestnut Street. Henry died on March 24, 1903 of a intercranial hemorrhage. He was buried two days later in Barre.

Union victory at Petersburg is typically seen with inevitable fatalism. The armies of the Potomac and James were indeed in advantageous positions that spring to defeat the Army of Northern Virginia. Confederate strategy had failed to destroy Union forces or demoralize the population before the north’s inherent advantages in conventional warfare could produce battlefield victories. Confederate leadership failed to accept this reality and attempts for peaceful resolution fell apart prior to the bloody 1865 campaign. With further combat as the only inevitability on April 2, someone needed to carry the plan through to the end. Corporal Recor’s superhuman bravery illustrated the hard fighting necessary to finally defeat the rebellion.

 

[1] Paul G. Zeller, Williamstown, Vermont in the Civil War (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2010), 48-51.

[2] Ronald A. Kennedy to Merritt Barber, April 9, 1865 and May 17, 1865, Henry H. Recor Service Records, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, DC.

[3] Kennedy to Barber, April 9, 1865. Lewis Grant to Charles Mundee, May 17, 1865, Henry H. Recor Service Records, Record Group 94, National Archives, Washington, DC.

[4] Kennedy to Barber, April 9, 1865. Grant to Mundee, May 17, 1865.

[5] Charles G. Gould to George G. Benedict, undated, G.G. Benedict, Vermont in the Civil War: A History of the Part Taken by the Vermont Soldiers and Sailors in the War for the Union, 1861-5 Volume 1 (Burlington, VT: The Free Press Association, 1886), 595.

[6] Kennedy to Barber, April 9, 1865. Grant to Mundee, May 17, 1865.

[7] Ronald A. Kennedy to Merritt Barber, April 4, 1865, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies Volume 46, Part 1 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1894), 975. Kennedy to Barber, April 9, 1865.

[8] Lewis Grant to Charles Mundee, April 16, 1865, OR vol. 46, pt. 1, 973. George W. Getty to Charles H. Whittelsey, April 20, 1865, OR vol. 46, pt. 1, 961.

[9] Zeller, Williamstown, Vermont in the Civil War, 48-51.

[10] Zeller, Williamstown, Vermont in the Civil War, 48-51.

[11] Grant to Mundee, May 17, 1865.

[12] Vermont Watchman, July 14, 1865.

Mapping his way through the Carolinas: A profile of Major Robert M. McDowell (Part 2)

P1120064a

A photo of inside the leather cover of Maj. McDowell’s Civil War journal

Maj. Robert M. McDowell was an engineering officer on the staff of Gen. Slocum during Sherman’s Carolinas campaign.  His diary recounts the adventure.

(Part two of two)

Part of the army’s rear echelon, the staff major was not ordinarily in the line of fire, but on February 20thhe found himself on the wrong end of a rifle.  Apparently McDowell came upon an act of wanton pillage that he could not abide.  When he attempted to end the pillaging, “The private cocked and leveled his rifle at me,” McDowell recounted.  The Union rebel was immediately arrested and the major was unharmed – though undoubtedly a bit bemused by the close call.

Near Fayetteville, North Carolina, on March 15th, McDowell and other staffers retreated to an old cooper’s shop when a rainstorm passed through.  There they found a letter addressed to Gen. Sherman.  The note explained “that their men were not regularly armed with the “Spencer repeating rifle” and they were in need of rubber blankets, etc. for the summer campaign and urged Genl Sherman to trot out Mr. Corpl Kilpatrick [who was actually a Union general]  in order that they (the rebels) might procure these articles.”  The letter was signed “a Rebel.”  This provided much amusement to the sheltering group, but the letter was forwarded.  Interestingly, McDowell noted in his journal, “We considered it quite an animadversion on Kilpatrick who is alike held in contempt by ourselves & the enemy.”

While Sherman’s army ran into occasional skirmishing, mainly with cavalry, during the campaign, it was not until they neared Averasboro, that anything resembling a full scale battle took place.  In this Confederate general Joe Johnston tried to get between Sherman’s army wings and destroy a portion of the Union army.   It was a heated encounter with plenty of bloodshed, though the Union force was able to frustrate Johnston’s plans for its destruction.  “It was the prettiest battle I ever beheld,” McDowell wrote.  It “seemed more like a panoramic view than a current fearful reality.  The nature of the country; woods, fields & roads & spirit of the corps all added to complete a perfect picture of war.”

Despite the danger to the army, presented by what McDowell estimated to be 40,000 men in Johnston’s army, the major was in high spirits.  In an entry dated March 20th, the engineer wrote, “I captured a rebel prisoner.”  Unfortunately, that was all.  Unexplained, we are left to speculate how a staff cartographer accomplished the feat.

Once Sherman’s army reached Goldsboro, NC, the general called a halt while the army was provisioned and refit.  Essentially the end of the campaign, Sherman met at Goldsboro an army under Gen. John Schofield, bringing the strength of his command up to near 90,000.  While he soldiers rested, he took a steamer up to City Point, Virginia, to visit Gen. Grant and map out the end of the war.

Meanwhile, Maj. McDowell kept busy with various map projects and expressed boredom with his situation.  Contributing to his low spirits may have been thoughts of home.  In Goldsboro, he boarded with “and old and young lady,” he wrote.  “Both [are] strong rebels and they talk secession whenever there is an opportunity.  A son of the old lady is a prisoner of war in Elmira, NY.”

Early April found the Elmira native trying to organize a formal Topographical Department in the army.  With Gen. Slocum’s support, McDowell was much encouraged in his efforts.  As if that did not help his spirits enough, things were much improved further by two developments.  First, the major recorded, “In eve escorted a young lady home.  The first instance of my playing the gallant in more than six months.”  But the news got better still when word reached Goldsboro of the fall of Richmond.

As might be expected, there was much celebration among Sherman’s troops over the capture of the capital of the Confederacy.  “A great deal of shooting was done in the camps,” McDowell observed.  “Sky rockets were sent up on all directions.  Hurrahs and cheering could be heard in every direction.”  But, as it turned out, it was nothing like the ecstasy of a week later.  It was April 12th when Lee’s surrender was verified, after rumors swirled.  “I never witnessed such demonstrations of joy as was manifested by our soldiers on the receipt of this glorious intelligence,” McDowell proclaimed.

With the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia accomplished, soldiers of Sherman’s army were itching to finish the business and go home.  They were certain the war was over.  Anticipation on that score made for some anxiety for both officers and men.  “Negotiations pending with Sherman and Johnston relative to the latters surrendering his army in the same terms that Lee did to Grant,” McDowell wrote on April 15th.  Somewhat of a philosophical frame of mind, the topographical engineer observed, “War stirred the bitter fountains of the soul, but its sweet waters swirl up at the welcome sound of peace.”  But dreams of a new day were soon marred by disturbing news on April 17th.  “The news of Pres. Lincoln’s assassination reached us this morning and created the most intense gloom and bitterness throughout the army,” McDowell lamented.

Bennet Place

Bennett Place – Scene of negotiations between Gens. Sherman and Johnston

Negotiations between Sherman and Johnston dragged on and on and McDowell expressed impatience.  On April 24th, the major wrote of a new development, “Lt. Genl Grant visited us today…[he] is here to advise with Genl Sherman in regard to the surrender.”  Finally, two days later Johnston surrendered.  “The event signalized by drinking too much spirits all night.  Bands of music playing, sky rockets sent up from Genl Sherman’s Hdqtrs…everybody happy.”

End of the war meant the preparation of equipment and maps for deposit with the War Department and wrapping up the work on the final campaign maps.  The Army of Georgia marched to Richmond and thence on to Washington where a Grand Review was planned for eastern and western armies.  On May 24th, McDowell wrote, “Today Sherman’s Army reviewed in Washington by the Pres. & Cabinet, Gen’l Grant and other high military officials, members of Congress, governors of states, corps diplomatique and a very large concourse of citizens…the review was a very brilliant one.”

Like most of his comrades, Maj. McDowell was anxious to return home to family and put the war behind him.  His post-war career featured a return to civil engineering and private enterprise.  For a time he was the U.S. Mineral Surveyor for Idaho and later was vice president for Gould Coal.

McDowell died on July 4th, 1909 at the age of 76.  He was predeceased by his wife Arlina, who died in 1894.  They had one son, John G. McDowell who became an Elmira City Judge.  Maj. Robert M. McDowell is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira.

Grave of Robert M McDowell

Grave site of Maj. Robert M. McDowell – Woodlawn Cemetery, Elmira, NY

 

Mapping his way through the Carolinas: A profile of Major Robert M. McDowell (Part 1)

P1120076

Hand-drawn map from journal of Maj. Robert McDowell

(Part one of two)

Recently while doing research at the Chemung Historical Society in Elmira, NY, I was delighted to discover the Civil War diary of Robert Morris McDowell in the collection, which revealed a new view of Gen. Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign.  A recent donation, the journal included a leather cover and many hand-drawn maps.  It was an exciting discovery.

Born near Elmira in February 1833, McDowell was the son of John and Laurinda (nee Lowman) McDowell.  After obtaining an education at the Elmira Academy and later Oxford Seminary, McDowell found a career in civil engineering.  When the nation swung to war, the young engineer volunteered as a private in the 141st NY Infantry.

The talented Southern-Tier native was soon highly valued for his cartography skills and he rose through the ranks rapidly.  In fact, by 1865 he would achieve the rank of Major.  His war career included service in the Peninsula Campaign, Atlanta Campaign, March to the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign – serving first under Gen. Hooker and later under Gen. Slocum.

McDowell’s journal begins January 1st, 1865.  It is unknown if there were journals for previous years.  He and Sherman’s army were then at Savannah, after finishing the famous March to the Sea just before Christmas.  Although he was kept busy with mapping projects, it is clear that McDowell and company were enjoying their time in Savannah.

P1120078a

Passage from journal of Maj. Robert McDowell recounting life in Savannah

They were certainly eating well.  “We had wine, oysters and several kinds of cakes,” McDowell recorded on New Year’s Day.  A few days later he complained about the prices one sutler had the temerity to ask, “oranges $3.00, potatoes $20.00 per bbl., Onions $60.00.”  A gift of “some very fine apples” brightened the New York major, “the first,” he said, “I have had since I was home last March.”  On January 14th McDowell bragged in a letter home, “We luxuariate on rich old wine and Habanna cigars.  Oysters, fresh and fat cease to be a rarity.”[i]

Soon the delicacies and warm breezes of Savannah ended and McDowell and the First and Third Divisions marched out, crossing the river into South Carolina is a cold, driving rain.  The new campaign had commenced and South Carolina trembled at the thought of the terrible Sherman bringing the war to their doorsteps.

After overcoming obstacles Mother Nature threw their way – incessant rain which drowned low-lying lands for miles around – and forcing much of the army back to Savannah, the army once again moved out.  After crossing the Coosawhatchie River, the weather and roads improved.  On February 4th, McDowell recorded, “we have marched today thro’ some delightful country, undulating and well tilled.  Splendid residences all forsaken.  The families seem to have ran away leaving their homes without taking anything.”  Such homes conveniently made fine headquarters for the many officers of the army, who often did not leave things as they found them.

It appears that the major experienced a fit of conscience over the pillage and plunder he witnessed on the march – leaving one to wonder what he thought of the campaign through Georgia.  After watching the destruction of a home and outbuildings, McDowell wrote,

I can never forget the old man and his wife on bended knees implored for mercy and protection, but why should I record this instance, this are daily transactions and is our business.  Tho’ painful it is to witness, the innocent and helpless in South Carolina all have to suffer for the sins commited by the wicked pro slavery rebels who have for years trying to bring this accursed war upon the people.  May God forgive them.  I am now thoroughly satisfied that slavery is a great sin & is the real cause of all this suffering.  South Carolina must do penance in ashes if not in sack cloth for the entire deeds of the past.

Amidst McDowell’s soul-searching, the army slogged along burning and wrecking generously as it went.  Still, there was time for leisure time amusements.  “A furor for cock fighting seems to have seized our army,” the young cartographer wrote.  “It seems as if every 4th man while on the march has a rooster standing proudly erect on his knapsack.  Every evening in camp crowds of troops assemble to witness cock fights.”  Even the commanding general apparently got in on the action.  In late February, McDowell recorded attending an event where “the genl was an interested spectator in as much as the genl owns one of the cocks named “Billy Sherman.”  His antagonist called Genl H. Thomas was vanquished.”

On February 17th McDowell and company celebrated the capture of Columbia.  Still ten miles away from the state capital, the major was nonetheless pleased at the news when it reached him.  “It is known…that the right wing now holds Columbia and the stars and stripes wave in triumph over the building where secession and treason was first hatched, the result of which has flowed the ensanguine fields of America with blood.”  The next day McDowell rode into the city and discovered wide-spread desolation caused by a great fire.

McDowell and the other staff officers he rode with were shocked at the ruins of Columbia.  “The sight was sickening,” he wrote.  “Acres of charred masses of brick and mortar met the eye with heart rendering scenes.  Houseless and homeless men, women & children of every age wandering in wild despair amid the blackened walls and chimneys of their once happy homes.”

(to be continued…)

Notes:

[i] To retain the character of McDowell’s writing, I have chosen to retain his spelling and grammar as recorded in his diary.

A Yankee’s Tale of Two Encounters with Stonewall’s Foot Cavalry at Chancellorsville (Part 2)

Emerging Civil War welcomes back guest author Rob Wilson

Part Two: “I don’t know how I escaped”

Click here to go to Part One of this article.

Confederate prisoners and battle flags being taken to the rear at Chancellorsville (Edwin Forbes, May 3, 1863, Library of Congress)

The Yankees were fairly full of themselves when the May 2 fighting wound down at Catharine Furnace ironworks. The last elements of Jackson’s Second Corps rear guard— minus 250 men taken prisoner— were headed south and away from Chancellorsville. Federal Third Corps batteries were blasting away at their withdrawal. Some started to believe the Confederates could be “ingloriously” retreating, as their commander “Fighting Joe” Hooker had suggested could happen when they were confronted by his Army of the Potomac.

In a letter home to New Hampshire, Lt. Marden puffed up a bit about his unit’s performance, reflecting the celebratory mood in the ranks, where “the praise of the Sharpshooters was in everybody’s mouth.” Marden was picked to lead a detail escorting captured Georgians to the rear. While they were marched to the north, some of the prisoners began gloating that Stonewall had a special surprise still to deliver that day. The Sharpshooter’s letter didn’t record exactly what was said, but the threats likely resembled a taunt remembered by another Union soldier: “You may think you done a big thing just now, but wait till Jackson gets around your right.”[i]

Marden and his party were headed for an abattis (a barrier of felled trees) that crossed the planked surface of the Orange Turnpike and extended into the woods on either side. From that point, the federal Twelfth Corps line stretched east, towards Hooker’s headquarters in Chancellorsville center. The army’s right flank, guarded by Eleventh Corps, followed the turnpike to the west for two miles before it abruptly ended. Hooker anticipated the battle’s major combat would occur on the Union left flank.

As they approached the barrier, the sharpshooters could see that their talkative prisoners were not liars. Far from retiring to the south with his men, Jackson had led them around to the west of the Eleventh Corps flank. The Second Corps column had emerged on the Orange Turnpike and formed up for battle, out of sight of Eleventh Corps’ flank. As Marden’s party drew close to the plank road in the fading evening light, Stonewall’s surprise attack was well underway.

“Jackson came around [the flank]… driving the 11th Corps down the plank road regular Bull Run style,” wrote Marden. Chaos reigned as panicked federal soldiers stampeded down the turnpike, many without rifles. Some burst out of the woods in front of his detail, disappearing into the thick growth on the other side.

“They are the men who used to fight mit Siegel*,” the lieutenant spat out in his letter, referring to the thousands of native born Germans who served in the Eleventh. “I never heard a more conglomerate dialect of cursing, fright and blubbering in Dutch English and French than they presented.” (Many troops— especially New Englanders—referred to the immigrant soldiers as “Dutchmen.”) In a later letter Marden’s tone softened. “I am not ready to condemn them,” he wrote. “They had overwhelming odds and were completely surprised.”

Suddenly, Minie balls were buzzing over the Sharpshooter’s party, fired by terrified Eleventh Corps soldiers on the turnpike barrier. The right was now the main front in the Battle of Chancellorsville. Marden and his men, travelling with a large group of gray-uniformed Georgians, were in the confused space between a desperate Yankee line of defense and Stonewall Jackson’s hard-charging infantry.[ii]

The stampede of the Union Eleventh at Chancellorsville. From Harper’s pictorial history of the Civil War (Chicago, Ill/ McDonnell Bros., 1868) Part 2, p. 494. (Artists Alfred H. Guernsey and Henry M. Alden, Library of Congress)

While Marden was readying to march his prisoners north, Third Corps commander Daniel Sickles reported his success at the furnace to Hooker. Believing his foe was abandoning Chancellorsville, Hooker pulled 25,000 infantrymen, cavalry troopers and supporting artillery south from his main lines, massing them around Hazel Grove and the ironworks. Sickles would take some of them to pursue Stonewall’s retreat. The other troops would confront the Confederates who had remained east of Chancellorsville with their army’s commander, Gen. Robert E. Lee. Assuming his enemy also was about to exit Fredericksburg, at 4:10 p.m. Hooker telegraphed the Union force opposite the town to be ready to chase those Rebels when they retreated.[iii]

On the Union right that afternoon there had been reports of Confederate movement south and west of the Eleventh Corps. A few units heeded the warnings and took defensive measures, but most of the Eleventh’s brass, including corps commander Maj. Gen. General Oliver Howard, dismissed the alarms. By late afternoon, most rifles were stacked for the night. Wood smoke, the aroma of cooking meat and strains of fiddle music permeated the air around the Union campsites.

The long red line traces Jackson’s route from the federal left flank to its right flank, on the Orange Turnpike. The Second Corps charge is represented by the red arrow. The Confederates reached and, in places, went over the barrier where Marden had earlier transferred his prisoners. (Creative Commons, map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com)

Jackson arrayed his men in mile-long lines facing perpendicular to Howard’s positions and launched his assault about 5:30 p.m. Although hot, exhausted and hungry from a hard march in eighty-degree weather, the Confederates charged full bore down the plank-covered turnpike and through the woods alongside the road. The shrieking attackers drove all manner of wildlife— even a bear— in front of them and through Eleventh campsites. Soon the sounds of rifle and artillery exchanges added to the confusion. Union soldiers were fleeing eastwards, accompanied by galloping horses and terrified mules. Valiant pockets of federal resistance that formed along the line quickly were overrun. There were few nearby troops to rush to the aid of the Eleventh. Many of units that Hooker redeployed south that afternoon had come from positions on the Orange Turnpike.

Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard (between 1855 and 1865). From the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs.

Howard suddenly appeared riding up the turnpike, an American flag wedged under the stump of an arm lost in an earlier battle, calling on his men to take a stand. Rank held no authority in the midst of this horde. His horse spooked and threw him to the ground.[iv]

Marden’s letter vividly describes the deteriorating scene that he witnessed that unfolded:

Jackson was… sending grape and canister down the plank road. All this happened just as I was going up the road on the left (A to B on his hand-drawn map) with some of my prisoners. I hurried as fast as Rosy [Marden’s horse] would go, but [that] was not fast enough— just as we turned the bend (at B) our Dutchmen were formed behind the abattis at the corner and seeing the graybacks as we went along they supposed the rebs also [were] coming up that road and they gave us the compliment of a volley. Fortunately, they fired high and did not hit me.[v]

This map was drawn in a letter to illustrate the road (marked “a” to “B”) on which Marden and his detail took their Confederate prisoners north from Catharine Furnace. The log abbatis on the Orange Turnpike (“Plank Road” on the map) where the Confederates were transferred is marked “B”. Jackson would be mortally wounded later that evening, just to the north of the barrier (n.b.: on this map, north is to the right of the Plank Road.) Hooker’s headquarters at Chancellor House is marked “D.”)

In another letter, the Sharpshooter described the precarious situation he faced while returning to his unit:

I forgave them their volley… the first time, but the second time was not so funny and vastly more dangerous… I got the prisoners and guard over the abattis and turned [back] down the road [to the south]. As I turned our cavalry came rushing up… with sabres [sic] drawn and filled the narrow place. The gallant Howard’s men again took a panic and the whole line fired. I don’t know how I escaped. I could not go backward or forward. I got off my horse and squatted down in the pines, the Minies whistling in a perfect shower about my ears. Several of the Cavalry were killed and the confusion was extreme.[vi]

As darkness approached, federal commanders rallied some of the fleeing soldiers to fight. Troops diverted south by Hooker rushed back to the turnpike, pushing their way through waves of retreating soldiers to counterattack. It grew too dark to fight at about 9 p.m., but sporadic combat continued. Some Confederates had reached to within a half mile from Hooker’s Chancellor House headquarters. Jackson’s men reorganized on a line facing east that crossed the turnpike and included the barrier where panicked Eleventh Corps men fired at Marden and his party. Meanwhile, federal forces fell back and feverishly constructed new works around Hooker’s headquarters.

Sporadic musket and artillery continued, as men on both sides blundered about searching for their units. A Union general later wrote that the May full moon shed “just enough of its light to make darkness visible.” In fact, many of those killed and wounded that night were shot by someone from their own side, as was Stonewall Jackson, near where Marden’s detail delivered their prisoners.[vii]

The sharpshooter slowly rode south to rejoin his brigade. It would not be until the next day he discovered his horse had been hobbled by a musket ball. His letters do not mention any encounters with Second Corps soldiers that night, a remarkable stroke of lucky timing, as Jackson’s men soon would pierce the abattis where he had delivered prisoners.

Exhausted, the lieutenant reached his brigade in Hazel Grove and bedded on the ground, under his coat. The men knew that Third Corps’ positions now lay to the southwest of Hooker’s new defensive lines. The sharpshooters “bitterly thought of the morrow” as they tried to sleep, wrote Marden, knowing they were vulnerable to attack from at least three sides. The next day, May 3, promised a major battle. Confederates now were east and the west of the Army of the Potomac. And from the sounds in the woods around Hazel Grove, they were preparing to fight.[viii]

This detail shows the reconfiguration of the two sides after Jackson halted his assault, at about 9 p.m. What was the Union right is now populated by the Confederate Second Corps. The shattered remnants of Eleventh Corps collected north of Chancellorsville Center. Confederates under Lee are to the east of Union lines. George Marden’s Sharpshooters and the Third Corps, meanwhile, are in and around Hazel Grove, outside the defensive line encircling Hooker’s headquarters. (Battle of Chancellorsville, detail of Map 6, National Park Service, illustrated and produced by John Dove.)

Notes and Sources:

* Marden is referring here to the German-born former commander of Eleventh Corps, Franz Sigel and the popular slogan of German immigrants joining the army, “I’m going to fight mit Sigel.” The slogan became the title of one of the most popular songs of the Civil War.

[i]  Marden Civil War letters, April 30, May 4 (Available at Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College, Hanover N.H); John L. Collins, Battles and Leaders Ed. Robert Johnson and Clarence Buel (New York: Century Co., 1888) Vol. 3, Pg. 183, quoted in Ernest B. Furgurson, Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave (New York, Alfred A. Knoph, 1992) 156

[ii] Marden letters, May 4, May 8

[iii] Stephen Sears, Chancellorsville (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1996) 268-269; Furgurson, 187; Theodore Dodge, The Campaign of Chancellorsville, (Boston: J.R. Osgood and Co., 1881) Retrieved at : https://www.gutenberg.org/files/5715/5715-h/5715-h.htm#link2H_4_0013 P. 32.

[iv] Sears, Chancellorsville, 260-271, 275-281, Furgurson, Chancellorsville 1863…, 180-181.

[v] Marden, May 4.

[vi] Marden, May 8; Furgurson, 187-188.

[vii] Sears, 286-288; From The Cannon’s Mouth: The Civil War Letters Of General Alpheus S. Williams, edited by Milo M. Quaife (Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 1959), quoted in Sears, 290; Marden, May 4, May 8; The Last Days of Stonewall Jackson: The Mortal Wounding of the Confederacy’s Greatest Icon, by Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White (Emerging Civil War Series, California, Savas Beatie, 2013) 16 [Compare Marden’s above map to the Mackowski/White map locating where Stonewall was shot.]

[viii] Marden, May 4, May 8

A Yankee’s Tale of Two Encounters with Stonewall’s Foot Cavalry at Chancellorsville (Part 1)

Emerging Civil War welcomes back guest author Rob Wilson

Part One: A “most splendid affair” at Catharine Furnace

On May 2, 1863, the day that Lt. General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was mortally wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville, his Second Corps “foot cavalry” fought two separate times with the Army of the Potomac. The first encounter took place in the afternoon at the Catharine Furnace ironworks, south of the main Union positions in and around the town, along the Orange Turnpike. Regiments of the Federal Third Corps engaged there in intense skirmishing with the rear guard of Jackson’s 28,000-strong force, capturing nearly an entire regiment. That small success, however, proved inconsequential. Most of the Second Corps column had marched south, then stealthily circled to the west for their second combat of the day, emerging a half mile from the endpoint of the Union army’s right flank. Stonewall launched a ferocious attack from there at about 5:30 p.m., surprising and completely routing the 11,000 men of the federal Eleventh Corps, and setting the stage for a significant Confederate victory.

I’ve found only one Union soldier whose writing provides first-person accounts of both engagements. The stories are contained in a series of letters about the Battle of Chancellorsville written by my great grandfather, George A. Marden. At the time, he was a 24-year-old lieutenant and a recently-appointed Acting Assistant Adjutant General for the U.S. Sharpshooters Brigade (U.S.S.S.), 3d Division of Third Corps. Marden provides a ripping-good narrative of the sharpshooters in action at Catharine Furnace. His second account, about escorting prisoners taken that afternoon to a supposedly-secure federal position on the turnpike, evolves into a survival story. Nearing their destination as rifle and artillery fire sounded to the west, Marden’s party was confronted by a stampede of panicked Union soldiers being driven by Stonewall’s oncoming charge. 

May 2 was the second day of fighting at Chancellorsville. Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, the Federal commander, discretely had moved four of his corps across the Rappahannock River to the town, ten miles west of Confederate-held Fredericksburg. Seventy-two thousand Union troops and 184 artillery pieces now occupied the town. Meanwhile, a federal force was left near Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg, to be ready to attack the Rebels from the east. The general’s complex campaign plan— which he at one point declared “perfect”— was to trap his enemy between these two wings of his Army. In a written message circulated among his officers on April 30, he predicted that Army of Northern Virginia commander Gen. Robert E. Lee would be forced to “ingloriously fly or come out from his defenses [at Fredericksburg] and give us battle on our own ground, where destruction awaits him.” Marden, a collector of documents for a history of the Sharpshooters he hoped to write, copied Hooker’s decree verbatim and later mailed it home.[i]

Maj. Gen Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker. Prior to the battle, the architect of the complex Chancellorsville Campaign strategy boasted “My plans are perfect.” Stonewall Jackson’s surprise May 2 attack would prove those plans anything but. (Mathew Brady, public domain, Library of Congress; Photographer unknown, National Archives & Records Administration)

Hooker’s strategy worked, insofar as Lee and Jackson were made to “come out” from their Fredericksburg defenses with reinforcements for the small Confederate force positioned east of Chancellorsville. Lee now had 48,300 men on hand to oppose “Fighting Joe’s” 72,000.

There was limited fighting on May 1, but Hooker pulled his men back when they met resistance moving towards Fredericksburg. Lee reckoned that pursuing and attacking his well-entrenched opponent from the east could lead to his army’s destruction. He and Jackson sat up late that night to hatch an audacious plan to counter the Union battle strategy. Lee would stay put with 14,000 soldiers, demonstrating enough to keep the Yankees expecting an attack on their well-manned left flank. Jackson would march Second Corps along narrow roads south of Hooker’s army and circle around to its rear, emerging on the opposite side of Chancellorsville from Lee. He either would seize U.S. Ford on the Rappahannock or attack the reportedly weak federal right flank on the Orange Turnpike. If Stonewall attacked and succeeded, Lee would move in from the east. If the day did not go well, retreat was an option.[ii]

In the early-morning light of May 2, Union lookouts in Hazel Grove, a meadow south of the Turnpike, spied the Confederates rapidly marching through a clearing at the Catharine Furnace ironworks, about a mile south of their post. Hooker moved Third Corps, under Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, to the meadow. His artillery opened up, with little effect. Shortly after noon, Hooker approved Sickles’ request to cautiously advance on Jackson’s column. Nine regiments of the Third moved out, spearheaded by Col. Hiram Berdan’s two-regiment Sharpshooter Brigade. Additional regiments followed, in case Jackson counterattacked. Following a creek bed south, the men thrashed their way through the thick, scrubby woods native to the region locals called the Wilderness. “I came very near to losing all my clothes as well as my eyes,” Marden declared.

The above map detail shows the Third Corps advance at Catharine Furnace, with the two regiments of the U.S.S.S. at the tip of the spear. Elements of other Confederate regiments and artillery batteries, not shown here, participated in the rear guard action with the 23d Georgia. (Battle of Chancellorsville, detail of Map 3, National Park Service, illustrated and produced by John Dove.)

As his men approached the Furnace, Berdan ordered Marden to “superintend” a skirmish line and advance on the Confederates’ rear guard, the Georgia 23d Infantry. A staff aide and quartermaster prior to his promotion to A.A.A.G., the sharpshooter had chaffed for such an assignment. He was anxious, however: this would be his first combat experience on a skirmish line. In an April letter home, he revealed his previous duties “hardly served to show what sort of stuff I was made of… I feel myself but an untried soldier.” Once the fighting commenced, however, his apprehensions apparently faded. “The bullets began to whistle uncomfortably close but in a few minutes I got so excited I did not think of them,” the soldier later wrote.[iii]

The sharpshooters moved forward, steadily firing their breech-loading Sharps rifles, which could reload and fire up to three times faster than the muzzle loading Springfield and Enfield rifle-muskets commonly carried by infantry on both sides. A soldier in a supporting Pennsylvania regiment got a demonstration of the marksmanship, teamwork and tricky tactics for which Berdan’s men were becoming well-known. Creeping through the long grass along the creek bed, the Pennsylvanian wrote, one of the sharpshooters raised his cap on a ramrod. When fired upon, the soldier instantly “gave a leap and fell on the grass as if dead. This caused several Rebs to look out from their hiding places.” Other sharpshooters then opened fire.

The men in the 1st and 2nd U.S.S.S., mostly seasoned veterans, slowly pushed their foe out of the woods and into the ironworks clearing. Once there, the lieutenant watched “the rebel train skedaddling double quick.” Although losing ground, the outnumbered Confederate rear guard had delayed their attackers and most of Second Corps had passed south. Fighting continued and some in the 23d Georgia sheltered in an ironworks building. Their pursuers formed a line about 400 yards away and took aim.

An artist’s depiction of the Catharine Furnace complex. (National Park Service illustration on an interpretative plaque.)

The U.S.S.S. 2nd Regiment chaplain Alonzo Barber— known for both his marksmanship and his popular sermons— was on the skirmish line. The so-called “Fighting Preacher” carried a custom-made two barreled rifle, a combination long-range target rifle and shotgun. Marden’s letter captured him in action:

“When the enemy showed their flag of truce he thought it was some trick and wanted to fire. The sight of a butternut looking through a barn window at 400 yards was too much for him, and as they did not come out right away he blazed away and the rebs dropped out of sight like so many prairie dogs… In a few moments the rebs showed a white rag and came in.”

The sharpshooters took 56 prisoners from the building, noted Marden. When he later asked them why they didn’t flee, the men told him “the balls came too close whenever they showed themselves.”[iv]

The only remaining remnant of the Ironworks at Catherine furnace. This cylindrical oven was used to melt low-quality “pig iron” ore mined locally (Chris Mackowski, 2013 ECW photo).

The fighting continued, with additional artillery and regiments from both sides drawn into the battle. Eventually, the rear guard was ordered to retreat. The remaining soldiers of the 23rd Georgia never got the summons, continued to fight and were pushed south of the furnace, into a cut for an unfinished railroad.

“We then advanced those of us still on the left and in sight firing and keeping their attention, those on the right in the woods quickly and silently until they had entirely outflanked them,” wrote Marden, describing the scene. “Then they opened fire and [when the enemy] could not retreat they gave up, with… the single exception of the Lt. Col. who being mounted got away.”[v]

Was this a Rebel retreat? Hooker initially thought it might not, earlier expressing concern that later there might be an attack on the federal right. When Sickles reported his successes at the furnace, however, “Fighting Joe” overruled his initial caution. Thinking his “perfect” plans were working, the general began planning for the pursuit of what he thought was a fleeing Army of Northern Virginia.[vi]

Marden later wrote home that the afternoon fight at the furnace had been “a most splendid affair” for the sharpshooters.  His evaluation of the evening adventure he was about to have on the Orange Turnpike was the opposite. The young lieutenant would recall that event as one of his most unusual and more dangerous wartime experiences, writing “I don’t know how I escaped.”

To be continued…

Sources:

[i] Edward J. Stackpole, Chancellorsville: Lee’s Greatest Battle (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Co., 1958) 95, quoted in CAPT Margaret Harris, “Lee Uses Audacity, Surprise to Defeat Union Forces,” Infantry Magazine, April-June, 2015, 73.; Stephen Sears, Chancellorsville (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1996) 120, 236.; George Marden, Civil War letters, April 30, 1863, available at Rauner Special Collections Library, Dartmouth College, Hanover N.H.)

[ii] Sears 198, 212, 252; Theodore Dodge, The Campaign of Chancellorsville, (Boston: J.R. Osgood and Co., 1881) Retrieved at : https://www.gutenberg.org/files/5715/5715-h/5715-h.htm#link2H_4_0013 P. 32.

[iii] Ernest B. Furgurson, Chancellorsville 1863: The Souls of the Brave (New York, Alfred A. Knoph, 1992) 148, 150; Sears, 254; Dodge, 67-69; Marden letters, May 8, April 16.

[iv] Furgurson, 151; Sears, 255-256; Marden, May 8

[v] Sears, 255; Marden, Ibid.

[vi] Sears, 256; May 2 dispatch from Brig. Gen. J.H. Van Alen to Gens. Howard and Slocum, quoted in Furgurson, 148.

Where is Aunt Becky?

As I was reading some old issues of the National Tribune the other day, I came across the following notice from the July 26, 1883. My mother’s name is Becky, so of course my cousins all call her “Aunt Becky,” so the headline jumped out at me:

Aunt Becky

I am always impressed by reminders of peoples’ kindness.