Sunday, February 26, 2017

Check out Little Round Top view ... and my Civil War 180 site

On a ridiculously windy February day in Gettysburg, I shot this 180-degree view from Little Round Top from behind the General Gouverneur Warren statue. Thankfully, the well-anchored general is still standing. For more 180-degree battlefield views from Gettysburg, Antietam, Cold Harbor, Fredericksburg, Kernstown and elsewhere, check out my newly revamped Civil War 180 blog here.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Vanquished in Vicksburg, buried in Pennsylvania

John Pemberton is buried near his wife, Martha, in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.
Plaque in front of Pemberton's tombstone notes his Confederate service.
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Nearly nine years after the death of George Gordon Meade, the "Hero of Gettysburg," John Clifford Pemberton, the Confederate general vanquished at Vicksburg, died in Penllyn, Pa., a village north of Philadelphia.

Both men were buried in Philadelphia's Laurel Hill Cemetery -- Meade on a slope overlooking the Schuylkill River, Pemberton in a family plot on a hill about a 15-minute walk from the former commander of the Army of the Potomac's modest gravesite. (Of the 41 Civil War generals buried there, Pemberton is the only Confederate.)

Although Pemberton's death on July 13, 1881, was mentioned on inside pages in local newspapers, coverage was nowhere near the massive number of column inches devoted to Meade's death and funeral service. An eight-line report in the Philadelphia Inquirer on July 16, 1881, noted mourners could gather at the residence of Pemberton's brother at 1947 Locust Street in the city. Coverage of Pemberton's burial at Laurel Hill was similarly scant.

Circa-1860 image of John Pemberton.
Born in Philadelphia to a prominent family, Pemberton married a Virginia woman named Martha Thompson in 1848, and lived in the South before the Civil War. A captain in the regular army when hostilities broke out, the West Point graduate and Mexican War veteran marched his troops to Washington, resigned his commission and joined the Confederate army. His family and former commander, Lieutenant General Winfield Scott ("Old Fuss and Feathers"), urged Pemberton to remain in the Union army,  but their pleas failed. Loyalty to his Virginia-born wife and the South, where he served for much of his pre-Civil War military career, trumped loyalty to the Union for Pemberton, whose two younger brothers served in the Federal army.

A friend in the highest of places aided Pemberton's rise through the Confederate army: Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, was fond of him -- a friendship that made his promotion in the "rebel army sure and rapid," the New York Times reported after his death.

By the spring of 1863, Lieutenant General Pemberton's assignment was to defend the fortress city of Vicksburg, Miss. But his army was outmaneuvered by Ulysses Grant, his former Mexican War comrade, in battles at Champion Hill and Big Black River Bridge, leading to a siege of the strategic city on the Mississippi River.

In war, Pemberton apparently lived a charmed life. "Through perils of the storm and stress of battle," his obituary in the Philadelphia Times noted, "he seemed to bear immunity from harm. Horses white and gray and brown were shot from under him, caps and cloaks he wore were pierced with bullets, but in the front and midst of the fray through some of the most disastrous affrays he passed unscathed."

A metal Confederate marker next to John Pemberton's gravestone.
After a 46-day siege, Pemberton and his vastly outnumbered and undersupplied army surrendered Vicksburg on July 4, 1863 -- one day after the Union army defeated Robert E. Lee's army at Gettysburg. Food supplies had become so scarce in the beleaguered city that Pemberton had peas ground up to make what the New York Times called "a peculiar kind of bread." The food sickened the soldiers, and "after a few trials," the newspaper reported, "it was abandoned as worth than worthless."

The loss of Vicksburg "so stirred up the popular feeling of the South against [Pemberton]" the Philadelphia Times reported after his death, "that he never had the opportunity to retrieve the disaster ..." Even in 1881, the Vicksburg Campaign, according to the newspaper, was "still the subject of controversy among ex-Confederate officials."

After he was paroled, Pemberton -- never fully trusted in the South because of his Northern roots and often branded a traitor -- served out the war in lesser roles for the Confederacy.

After the war, Pemberton farmed in a "remote and isolated" corner of Warrenton, Va., where he "passed a quiet, uneventful life," the Philadelphia Times wrote. Later, he lived in Norfolk, Va., his wife's hometown;  South Amboy, N.J., and Allentown, Pa. "He had given up nearly everything for the cause in which he cast his lot," the Philadelphia newspaper noted, "and his fortune was necessarily diminished." In his later years, he reportedly was loath to discuss the Civil War.

In the summer of 1881, Pemberton lived in Penllyn, a stop on the Pennsylvania Railroad. In May that year, he complained of indigestion, and the pain gradually grew worse. A doctor performed a "remarkable operation" on his bladder, providing Pemberton temporary relief. But the 66-year-old Confederate veteran later became delirious and slipped in and out of consciousness. With old friends, son Francis and other family members at his bedside, the life of the man whose long career was filled "with disappointment and daring" ended early on a Wednesday evening.

"At eleven minutes after five, bearing to the last the evidences of his soldierly training and gentleness of character," the Philadelphia Times reported, "he passed away."

Have something to add (or correct) in this post? E-mail me here.


-- The Donaldsville (La.) Chief, July 30, 1881.
-- New York Times, July 14, 1881.
-- Philadelphia Times, July 14, 1881.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A visit to modest grave of George Meade, 'hero of Gettysburg'

                    Panoramic view from behind Meade family plot in Laurel Hill Cemetery.
George Meade's modest gravestone in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.
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ABOUT THIS PLACE:  On a gentle slope 100 feet above the Schuylkill River, the body of former Army of the Potomac commander George Meade, the "hero of Gettysburg," rests under a modest gravestone. In eternity, he has plenty of army company: the remains of 40 other Union generals and Confederate General John Pemberton also are buried in Philadelphia's Laurel Hill Cemetery, once located in a rural setting but now in a dense, urban area.

As Meade's funeral cortege wound through the beautiful grounds on Nov. 11, 1872, "the sides of the avenues were lined with people anxious to get a glimpse of the distinguished gentlemen in the procession," the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Among them was President Ulysses Grant, Meade's Civil War comrade and one-time superior officer. The graveside service was brief, the newspaper reported. No prayers were read, and no speeches were delivered.

George Meade died on Nov. 6, 1872.
(Library of Congress)
NOTABLE: Meade died at his home in Philadelphia on Nov. 6, 1872, reportedly from complications of pneumonia and the effects of wounds suffered during the Civil War. At the Battle of Glendale on June 30, 1862, a bullet tore into Meade's arm and another penetrated just above the hip bone, "and, passing round the body, made its exit just before reaching the spine," an obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer noted.

The general's funeral procession through the streets of Philadelphia was, according to the Inquirer, "one of the grandest ever witnessed in the country." Headlines in the newspaper trumpeted, "The Day an Epoch in the City's History" and "An Immense Funeral Cortege." Grant and former Union generals Phil Sheridan, William Sherman and Winfield Hancock were among the thousands who came to honor the 56-year-old war hero.

A massive Norway maple once stood near Meade's grave, providing shade for Sheridan, Grant, Sherman, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Dan Sickles and other famous visitors to the general's grave over the years. On Memorial Day weekend 2016, the treasured, 160-year-old tree was removed, a victim of old age.

Every year on Jan. 1, members of the General Meade Society hold a ceremony at the grave to honor Meade, who was born in Cadiz, Spain, on Dec. 31, 1815. A docent in the cemetery gift shop told me as many as 400 people have attended the annual event at Meade's gravesite.

QUOTABLE: "Philadelphia yesterday, in a manner that greatly honored it, testified to its regard for simple manly worth. Its places of trade were closed, its looms and hammers were still, its streets were filled with crowds, and yet were hushed with a stillness that was full of gloom. Only one man gone from among her million of people; but he was a soldier who had swept back forever the enemy that marched across the mountain wall to threaten commonwealth and city alike with carnage and plunder. George Gordon Meade was the hero of Gettysburg, who, called at a moment's notice, while on the march, to take command of a vast army, commanded it so well that the final conquest of the foe whom he met and defeated at Gettysburg was but a matter of time."
 -- Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 12, 1872

In mid-February, a wreath remained from the Meade Society New Year's Day remembrance ceremony.
Meade family plot in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.

-- See Then & Now of Meade's Gettysburg headquarters here.
-- For Civil War battlefield panoramas, visit my Civil War 180 blog.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Gettysburg panorama: Benner's Hill, where 'Boy Major' fell

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ABOUT THIS PLACE:  This is a view of town from Benner's Hill, where five batteries of Confederate artillery commanded by 19-year-old Major Joseph Latimer were positioned on the afternoon of July 2, 1863. Union counter-battery fire from East Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill, both at higher elevations than Benner's Hill, decimated this position. Latimer, "The Boy Major," was mortally wounded here by an exploding artillery shell as he was astride his horse, which was killed in the attack. Latimer's men had to remove him from under the dying animal. Many more trees are here now than in 1863. Gettysburg can barely be seen through the trees in the middle distance.

Joseph Latimer
NOTABLE: A Virginia Military Institute cadet, Latimer studied artillery tactics at the school in Lexington, Va., under Professor Thomas Jackson, before he had earned his famous nickname. Wounded as he ordered cannon to be pulled from this position, Latimer was taken to the nearby Daniel Lady farm, where he had his right arm amputated. He died of gangrene in the Warren-Sipe House in Harrisonburg, Va., on Aug. 1, 1863, 26 days before his 20th birthday. He's buried there in Woodbine Cemetery.

QUOTABLE: "Major Latimer among others was brought to Harrisonburg and was then taken to the home of Mrs Harriet Warren, where he received every attention and kindness which she and her family could bestow, but in spite of all their care, he grew worse. The anxiety and suspense which overshadowed the country after the retreat from Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg and also the separation from his mother, who was unable to come to him, added to the sadness of those weary days."
 -- Confederate Veteran, Vol. 23,  January 1915

For more battlefield panoramas, visit my Civil War 180 blog.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gettysburg Then & Now: 9th Massachusetts monument

          (HOVER OVER IMAGE | Then: William Tipton, June 1885  | Now: John Banks.)

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In June 1885, 9th Massachusetts veterans posed for an image at their monument at the base of Big Round Top. On a blustery Feb. 13, 2017, I aimed to mirror William Tipton's long-ago photo. He shot his image from a more elevated position, perhaps using a ladder. For a fine account of the 9th Massachusetts and its Gettysburg monument, check out Damian Shiels' excellent Irish in the American Civil War blog.

Click here to see large-format "Then & Now" images from Gettysburg and other Civil War battlefields.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

KIA at Glendale: 'You are the dearest friend I have on earth'

Edmund Hale's remains may lie in Glendale National Cemetery in a grave marked "Unknown."
(Photo courtesy Shelly Liebler)
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Even after the Union army was routed at the Battle of Ball's Bluff, 19th Massachusetts Private Edmund A. Hale was confident the Federals would eventually defeat the Rebels, whom he called "a pretty hard and ugly set of raskels to deal with."

"We had a battle on the Virginia shore, the 21st, which last one day & one night with pretty heavy loss on booth sides," he wrote to his wife on Oct. 24, 1861, three days after the disastrous defeat near Leesburg, Va., "but I believe we lost not one man of the 19th Regt, although we were pretty neigh surrounded by the rebels."

Colonel Edwin Baker, killed at Ball's Bluff.
"We felt the loss of him grately,"
Edmund Hale wrote to his wife.
(Library of Congress)
After they hastily scattered down the bluffs on the Virginia side of the river, some Union soldiers swam for Harrison's Island, a small spit of land in the middle of the river. Rebels picked off Yankees in the water, and days later, bodies of Union dead were spotted afloat downriver in Washington.

Casualties in the 19th Massachusetts, which covered the Federals' retreat, were slight. But the Union army lost Colonel Edwin Baker, a senator from Oregon and President Lincoln's longtime friend. "I believe he was a very fine man," Hale wrote in the letter from a camp near Poolesville, Md. "We felt the loss of him grately, but it could not be helped. He died in a noble cause."

Hale's four-page letter, found in a robust widow's pension file in the National Archives, provides a small window into the world of the 31-year-old shoemaker from Stoneham, Mass. For much of the correspondence, he professes his love for his "Dear little wife," whom he married in January 1861. (See below for original letter and complete transcription.)

Eight months later, Edmund, who stood 5-7 and had hazel eyes, light hair and a light complexion, enlisted in the Union army.  On Nov. 5, 1861, Mary gave birth to the couple's first child, a boy named Henry.

"Keep up good courage," he wrote to Mary after Ball's Bluff, "for I hope I shall be at home with you before long. Then,  my Dear little wife, I shall be some comfort to you, and get some rest myself which I think shall need, but we do not think this war will last long."

"Be ashured of my trust and constant love for you Dear Mary," Hale added. "You are the dearest friend I have on earth, and I wish I were with you now, but that cannot be quite yet, although I soon hope to be with you, my Dear little wife."

Foundation of R.H. Nelson house. The 19th Massachusetts moved past here on June 30, 1862.
The Battle of Glendale also was known as the Battle of Nelson's Farm,
Riddle's Shop and Charles City Crossroads, among other names.

 (Photo courtesy Shelly Liebler)
On a brutally hot early-summer day a little more than eight months after Ball's Bluff, the 19th Massachusetts formed to attack at Glendale, the fifth of the Seven Days' battles near Richmond.  At about 2 p.m. on June 30, the regiment was ordered to cross an open field and charge the Rebels, who held a thin belt of woods.

 "Faces turned pale as we looked over the ground," John Adams, a corporal in Hale's Company A at Glendale, recalled years later. "We grasped our muskets firmer and waited for the order. We had kept our knapsacks until this time -- they had become priceless treasures, filled as they were with little articles for our comfort made by loving hands, and with letters from dear ones at home — but we threw them into a pile, and the voice of Colonel [Edward] Hinks was heard: 'Forward, double-quick,' and we moved across the field and entered the woods."

A "galling fire" drove back the 19th Massachusetts soldiers, who mistakenly thought troops immediately in their front were from the 7th Michigan. Instead, Adams noted, they were Rebels outfitted in Union blue, confusing the soldiers from Massachusetts. After a few minutes of hand-to-hand fighting, the 19th Massachusetts discovered it was flanked and withdrew to the edge of the woods.

Colonel Hinks was seriously wounded and carried from the field, and the "ground was strewn with our dead and wounded comrades," Adams remembered. Briefly in disorder, the 19th Massachusetts re-formed and rallied by its colors. As he looked down the line in Company A, Adams saw "many places were vacant." Among the dead was Hale, who months earlier had written to his wife, "I do love you with my hole heart."

Soundly defeated at Glendale, the Union army retreated to Malvern Hill, where it whipped Robert E. Lee's army on July 1 in the last of the Seven Days' battles. Edmund A. Hale's remains probably were hastily buried on the Glendale battlefield -- if they were buried at all. His final resting place may be in tiny Glendale National Cemetery with the remains of nearly 1,000 other unknown Union soldiers.

National Archives via
Camp Benton, Oct. 24th

My Dear Wife

I am about to write a few lines to you once more after a few days hard work. We had a battle on the Virginia shore, the 21st, which last one day & one night with pretty heavy loss on booth sides, but I believe we lost not one man of the 19th Regt, although we were pretty neigh surrounded by the rebels. I tell you Mary, they are a pretty hard and ugly set of raskels to deal with, but we shall ketch them very soon. We have got a very large army of brave men, we have got them hemmed all around on all sides. I can tell you a battle field is rather a sad site to behold, but enough of this. I will tell you all when I get home. I wrote you last Sunday, but I thought I would improve a few leisure moments that we have got up to camp once more. But …

National Archives via
... I do not expect that [indecipherable] but a very short time. I hear that we have marching orders for Virginia. There is a grate many of our men over there now, Mary. Keep up good courage, for I hope I shall be at home with you before long. Then, my Dear little wife, I shall be some comfort to you, and get some rest myself which I think shall need, but we do not think this war will last long. I know Cournal Hinks [Edward Hinks] got us out of one pretty bad scrape all safe. We all place grate confidence. He  was calm and collected as any man could possibly be. General [Edward] Baker was shot dead. [Baker was actually a colonel.] I believe he was a very fine man. We felt the loss of him grately, but it could not be helped. He died in a noble cause. I think the Country will never be lost. Be ashured Mary, I shall try to take good care of my self but I must and will do my duty. Ned and I were together side by side, so if either one of us fall one is to take are of the other, but I do hope we shall …

National Archives via
… booth get home again to our famelys. We keep up very good courage. That’s one half of the battle. Be ashured of my trust and constant love for you Dear Mary. You are the dearest friend I have on earth, and I wish I were with you now, but that cannot be quite yet, although I soon hope to be with you, my Dear little wife. I sent that money to Stoneham, and I am agoing to risk a two and half gold piece for you, Mary. I should have liked to be with you to Lynn when you were there. You must give my love to Mother and all the rest. Tell them Mary I do love you with my hole heart, and Mary I know that you do me. Do not let your spirits go down but try and keep up good courage for my sake. You said you thought you would like to be out hear with me. I do not doubt it, but wait a little while. I shall see you again soon Mary. Be ashured of my love for you is constant and true and sincere. Mary, when I get home you will forget my long absence and feel proud of me. You can trust me and depend upon me, and know that I am not afraid to go and serve my ...

National Archives via
... country, and that is more than some of them dare do. Then Mary we will live together and I will not go away and leave my little wife any more, but stay home with you and be happy together. We have lived happily together before and I hope that we may again. Keep up good [indecipherable]. I think of many the good times we have had togeather. Mary, I dare not send the money I spoke of in this letter for I understand there has been a grate many letters rifled of the money that was sent home and I want to write just as soon you possibly can. Wheather you received the money I sent to you, I would sent it to you now but I do not want to send it until I hear from you. Do write soon, Mary, tell Mother and Martha to write to me just as soon as they possibly can, for I do want to hear from you all. I saw a number of Stoneham boys to-day and they have lately heard from home. I suppose you have not heard from my folks. Mary write all you think. I aught to know Mary. Wish  that I could see you to tell you all, but keep up good courage for I do hope to see you before long, and be ashured Mary I love you with all my true and noble heart for I believe that I have a noble heart for you Dear Mary, one that loves better than life itself, and you to them. Believe me Mary I think of you all. I have not written to any of them at Stoneham as yet. Take good care of your self my Mary for your self and my own sake, for Mary we shall have some more happy time together then we can  talk over our past trials that we have past through then Mary we will live together in pease and pure happiness. Then Mary we forget the hard times that we past through, [indecipherable] those few times. 

From your true husband and well wisher, Edmund A. Hale

So [indecipherable] for the present, and may God bless you and watch over you, and remember I shall pray for you and think of you til the last. Write soon, I shall not forget your kindness for me Mary.

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--Adams, John G.B., Reminiscences of the Nineteenth Massachusetts Regiment, Boston, Wright & Potter Printing Co., 1899.

-- Edmund A. Hale widow's pension file, National Archives and Records Service via, Washington

Sunday, February 05, 2017

'I fear that Louis is dead': Searching for Private Souvey

Close-up of a marker for an unknown New York soldier in Antietam National Cemetery.
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Weeks after the Battle of Antietam, Ellen Souvey must have been filled with dread. She had not heard of her husband's fate since the fighting on Sept. 17, 1862, and newspaper accounts and casualty lists published in local newspapers since then were grim.

"This day will be memorable for one of the bloodiest fought battles on the American continent," the New York Times reported about Antietam on Sept. 23, 1862. In the days and weeks afterward, the newspaper published on its front page lists of Union dead and wounded from the battle in western Maryland.

A private in the 42nd New York, Louis Souvey probably was wounded in the II Corps' attack about 9:30 a.m., when General John Sedgwick's division was flanked near the West Woods. The 345-man "Tammany Regiment," mainly Irish immigrants from New York City, suffered 181 casualties, more than 50 percent of its strength.

Aware her 35-year-old husband was in a hospital, Mrs. Souvey wrote to an officer in the 42nd New York inquiring about him. But what little news he shared in a short letter in return wasn't encouraging. (See letter and transcription below.)

"... I cannot give you certain information about him," Lieutenant Henry Van Voost of Company E wrote from the regiment's camp in Falmouth, Va., opposite Fredericksburg, on Nov. 26, 1862, "but from all the information that I can get I fear that Louis is dead though I am not certain that he is dead." Captain Thomas Abbott of Company E may have been in the same hospital as Louis, the lieutenant wrote, but he had no idea where the officer might be found.

The Samuel Poffenberger farm, known as the "Stone House Hospital," is adjacent to the Antietam
battlefield, "Dangerously wounded" 42nd New York Private Louis Souvey may have been taken here.
Abbott, who had been shot in the thigh during the regiment's attack and carried from the field, heard Louis was "dangerously wounded," a victim of "raking fire" from the enemy on a "rise of ground." But he also was unsure of the fate of Souvey, who almost certainly was wounded near the Hagerstown Pike and Dunker Church.

Abbott recalled Louis being taken to a hospital "adjacent to the battle field," perhaps the farm of widow Susan Hoffman, George Line or Samuel Poffenberger, all used as Federal hospitals during and after the battle. The captain himself was eventually cared for in nearby Frederick, Md., a hospital town after Antietam.  (He was discharged from the army for disability on Sept. 8, 1863.)

In a letter to an unknown man, perhaps a Souvey family member, Abbott wrote he was especially fond of  Louis, who took care of his tent during the army's Peninsula Campaign in Virginia months earlier. The private was a "faithful, honest fellow," the captain added, "and as brave a man that ever shouldered a musket." (See letter and transcription below.)

Concluded Abbott about Souvey: "Hoping that he is spared to family and friends."

Exactly when Ellen and her 9-year-old daughter, Adelaide, received word of Louis' fate is unknown. According to a document in the widow's pension file in the National Archives, he died at an unnamed hospital at Antietam on Sept. 22, 1862, just five days after the battle. Although his final resting place is unknown, his grave may be in Antietam National Cemetery, where the remains of 4,776 Union soldiers are buried.

National Archives via
Falmouth, Nov. 26th, 1862
Mrs. Souvey

I received your letter yesterday enquiring about your husband. I am sorry to say that I cannot give you certain information about him, but from all the information that I can get I fear that Louis is dead. I know of no one that was in that hospital except Capt. Thomas Abbott and I cannot tell what has become of the Captain as I have not heard from him since he was wounded altho he may be home, but I don't know where he lives in New York. This is all the information that I can give about your husband. I have made all the enquiries that I could about him.

Yours truly
Henry Van Voost
Lieut. Company E 42nd

National Archives via
City Hotel, Frederick, Md.
December 1, 1862
(Third line indecipherable)

Dear Sir
I have received your note asking for information requesting a member of my company.

I am sorry I cannot inform you whether he is alive or not. When we first engaged the enemy, my command, being the third company in line, were resting on high mound, or rise of ground, which exposed them to the raking fire of the enemy. There the brave Louis fell with several others, badly wounded. Seeing that I was fast losing my men ...

National Archives via
... I advanced the remainder of my command about ten paces off the high ground, into a hollow, where there was some cover.

There I had the misfortune to fall myself, being shot through the thigh, from which I was still confined to my bed on the following day. When I was carried off the field I was informed that Louis had been taken to one of the hospitals adjacent to the battle field and that he was dangerously wounded. I have not heard from him since but I trust that he is still living for I was much endeared to him. He attended to ...

National Archives via
... my mess and took care of my tent during our campaign on the Peninsula, which relieved him of much hard labor and picket duty. I found a faithful honest fellow and as brave a man that ever shouldered a musket. You can receive information whether he died there or was sent to hospital by writing to Lieut. E. R. Pierce of the Regt, Falmouth, Va., 2nd Army Corps.

I have written for a list of the wounded and dead but have not yet received it. Inquire for Louis Souvey as his name is thus spelled on the roll. Hoping that he is spared ...

National Archives via his family and friends.

I remain yours respectfully,

Thomas Abbott
Captain Co. E 42 NY

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- Louis Souvey widow's pension file, National Archives and Records Service via, Washington

Friday, February 03, 2017

'A sight for the gods': Wade Hampton's 1886 Gettysburg visit

In a cropped enlargement of the image below, Wade Hampton (center) joins veterans at a picnic 
near where they fought at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. The image was shot on July 7, 1886.
Gettysburg-based photographer William Tipton shot this image of Hampton and other vets.
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Twenty-three years after a Union cavalry officer slashed his head with a sabre in a farmer's field east of Gettysburg, 68-year-old Wade Hampton had a much less menacing encounter with his former enemies on the old battleground.

At a picnic in a grove.

The reunion of cavalry troopers in Gettysburg on July 7, 1886,
received extensive coverage in the Philadelphia Times
and in other newspapers.
It was a remarkable scene: Hampton, the former Confederate cavalry general, enjoyed a meal of chicken, cold ham, beef, pickles, lemonade and milk with former Union cavalrymen near the field where the opposing forces attempted to kill each other decades earlier. Hampton -- who had made the train trip to Gettysburg from Washington, where he served as a U.S. senator from South Carolina – was joined at the reunion by nearly 100 of his former cavalry comrades. Extensively covered in the press, the event on July 7, 1886, was heralded as “the most important and successful gathering that has taken place in Gettysburg since the war" and a "remarkable revival of old-time memories."

Notable for their absence, of course, were two generals who played huge roles during the cavalry fight about three miles east of town on July 3, 1863: Confederate J.E.B Stuart, who had been killed in 1864 near Richmond, and brash Union brigade commander George Armstrong Custer, who had been killed 10 years earlier by Indians at Little Big Horn. But their absences apparently didn’t detract from what the Philadelphia Times called “a genuine love-feast.”

Like former Confederate General James Longstreet two years later, Hampton was a star at this Gettysburg veterans’ reunion. One of the most beloved figures in the South, the senator had served with distinction under Robert E. Lee during a war that took an enormous toll on his family. Hampton's second-eldest son, Thomas, a 20-year-old lieutenant, was killed near Petersburg in 1864. Once one of the wealthiest men in the country, Hampton also was crippled financially by the war, losing his vast plantation estate near Columbia, S.C., when it was ransacked by the Union army and destroyed by fire.

A cropped enlargement of the image below shows Hampton and others veterans on July 7, 1886.
On July 7, 1886, Hampton and cavalry veterans were photographed by William Tipton.
David McMurtrie Gregg is in the front row, left of Hampton, wearing a straw hat with a black band.
Unlike future Gettysburg reunions, this gathering was marked by its simplicity. “There were no set speeches and no brass bands,” according to a New York World correspondent. “A company of militia came over from Hagerstown [Md.], but they did not come out to the cavalry battle field. The horsemen, therefore, attended to their business without fun or noise …”

For four hours that Wednesday, the former Southern cavalrymen and several hundred of their Union counterparts, including former General David Gregg, trekked over East Cavalry Field, pointing out key positions where they fought on a sultry summer day in 1863. Nearly 500 casualties resulted in about 40 minutes' fighting -- a failed effort by Stuart to attack the rear of the Union army.

While discussing strategy at the reunion, Union veterans had a "friendly dispute" over a supposed withdrawal of troops under Custer, and George Briggs, a former colonel in the 7th Michigan Cavalry, explained where his regiment made its "wonderful charge." Meanwhile, “General Hampton,” the Philadelphia Times noted, “was especially considerate in the indication of the lines on which General Stuart moved and where, within the timber, how his own command was placed.”

Of course, Hampton also told old war stories, gesturing to a fence and a clump of trees to show where he had suffered a sabre cut from an officer in the 7th Michigan on John Rummel's farm.

“I pulled my pistol and snapped it at him as I chased him toward the wood," the bewhiskered former general told a group of veterans from both armies. "Finding it had no loads in it, I threw it at him. I don’t wish him any harm now, but then I would have liked to have a swipe at him with my sabre.” (Later in the cavalry fight, Hampton was also wounded in his hip by shrapnel, which remained in his body the rest of his life.)

In a cropped enlargement of the image below, Hampton tours the Gettysburg battlefield.
On July 7, 1886, William Tipton also shot this image of Wade Hampton in a buggy.
Before the highly anticipated visit, the Philadelphia Times declared “it will be a sight fit for the gods to see Wade Hampton and Gregg shake hands on the same battle-field where they sent their troopers against each other with most deadly intent.” While newspaper accounts did not mention whether the former adversaries indeed shook hands, Gregg, who commanded a division of cavalry in the fight on Rummel's farm, made his feelings plain.

“I don’t bear him any animosity,” the 53-year-old veteran said of the former plantation owner and slave holder, who was nearby, “but I would have liked to have got at him as I clubbed my pistol and threw it in his face. All the chambers were empty.

“I think even now,” Gregg said in jest, “that would have been a satisfaction.”

For a half-hour, Gregg and Hampton entertained each other with their views of the battle. "It was," the New York World noted, "a sight for reflection -- this coming together of opposing commanders to find pleasure in marking for the future the successes and the defeats which are the monuments of our common valor."

Before he began his journey back to Washington that late-summer day in 1886, Hampton posed with other veterans for at least three photographs by Gettysburg-based battlefield photographer William Tipton. At 2 p.m., shortly after the picnic lunch ended, he bade his former comrades farewell.

It was an eventful day.

"The utmost feeling and courtesy," the Philadelphia Times reported, "prevailed among all who were present."

       East Cavalry Field, where Confederate and Union cavalry clashed on July 3, 1863.
ABOVE: East Cavalry Field, where Wade Hampton's troopers fought on July 3, 1863.
BELOW: Gregg Cavalry monument, where 1st Michigan Cavalry fought Jeb Stuart's cavalry.
Images courtesy Shelly Liebler.
                                       Google Map of East Cavalry Field, near Gettysburg.

 Have something to add (or correct) in this post? E-mail me here.


-- Gettysburg (Pa.) Compiler, July 13, 1886.
-- New York World, July 8, 1886.
-- Philadelphia Times, July 8, 1886.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

'It is with a sad hart': Death by disease of 73rd Ohio private

A nurse cares for wounded Union soldiers. 73rd Ohio Private Patrick Henry died of disease.
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In a slim set of documents in a pension file at the National Archives, the sad story of an Ohio soldier's short life is revealed.

Patrick Henry's father, Thomas, died in 1859, leaving his mother, Isabella, largely dependent on the earnings of her three sons. Twenty-year-old James and 22-year-old Patrick enlisted as privates in the 73rd Ohio eight days apart in October 1861, shortly after President Lincoln's call for 300,000 volunteers. The other brother, William, stayed home, presumably to take care of his widowed mother and aid with raising his sisters.

On July 10, 1862, nearly nine months to the day after he enlisted, James died of disease in Winchester, Va. Wounded and captured at the Second Battle of Bull Run on Aug. 30, 1862, Patrick was released in January 1863 after a little more than four months' captivity. But sometime in November 1863, he came down with a deadly case of dysentery and chronic diarrhea, causing a  "bloody flux," according to Sergeant Hiram Lewis, a comrade in Company C.

On Dec. 19, 1863, Lewis wrote a short note to William recounting the circumstances of Patrick's death in late November in Loudon, Tenn., "on the east Tenessee and Georgia Railroad" during a march to Knoxville. "It is with a sad hart that I set down to pen you a few lines ... " the sergeant's two-page letter began.

Found among documents for Isabella Henry's case for a pension after Patrick's death, Lewis' original letter and a transcription appear below. James Henry's remains are buried in Winchester (Va.) National Cemetery; Patrick is buried in Chattanooga (Tenn.) National Cemetery, Gravesite H-146.

National Archives via
Camp 73 Regt. Ohio Volunteers
Near Chatanooga, Tenessee
December 19th, 1863

Mr. William Henry
Dear Sir

It is with a sad hart that I set down to pen you a few lines to tell you the loss of our Company in the loss of your brother Patrick. He died on the march to Knoxville at a place called Louden on the east Tenessee and Georgia Railroad. He was first taking with the cronic dirier and it turn to the bloody flux. In the loss of your Brother we have lost a good soldier. He was always at his post and done his duty like a soldier and a gentleman. I grieve with you and your famely for he has always prove himself a friend to me. We have got his knapsack and his blanket and we intend to take ...
National Archives via
... good care of them and if we should be so lucky as to get home we will try and fetch them home with us. Patrick had five dollars with him and the Company all give him one dollar apiece. And we thought that would do him entell we got back. But when we got back he had died and was already buried. And he was buried decent. He has about one month and half pay coming to him.

Now William i hasten to send this to you know the fact and if you wish to know ennything more why write to me and i will do all that i can.

Nothing more
Your friend

Hiram Lewis

For more Civil War condolence letters on my blog, go here, here, here and here.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Gettysburg: Views from Seminary cupola, destroyed in 1913

        Hover on the 1863 Lutheran Theological Seminary image for a present-day view.
         (THEN: Mathew Brady  Library of Congress | NOW: John Banks, Oct. 23, 2016)

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At about 5 p.m. on Aug. 18, 1913, a "wonderful electric storm" swept over Gettysburg, causing great damage throughout the area. "Old residents of Gettysburg without exception declare Monday evening's storm or series of storms to have been the worst in their experience," a local newspaper noted the next day.

A  cropped enlargement of Brady's 1863 image
of the Lutheran Theological Seminary
shows the cupola in greater detail.
"It seemed to be a one continuous performance of thunder and lightning, crash after crash," the Gettysburg Compiler reported on Aug. 20. "With it came great gusts of wind that tore up trees and the rain fell in blinding sheets."

A bungalow on Springs Avenue, near the Lutheran Theological Seminary, was struck by a "cold bolt of lightning," shattering a brick chimney. As the storm swept westward, lightning struck the barn of George W. Jacobs, killing two cattle and causing several thousands dollars' worth of damage. Later that evening, another storm wreaked havoc with a traveling circus in town, tearing its big tent to shreds and killing one of its trick horses.

"The roar and confusion in the animal tent is said to have been worth going miles to see," the Compiler reported.

But the most notable "victim" of the storm was a historic building on the great battlefield. A bolt of lightning struck the Lutheran Theological Seminary, destroying the famous cupola that was used as an observation point by Union General John Buford on the first day of the battle, July 1, 1863. The four-story, brick building on Seminary Ridge also was used as a hospital by both armies.

Thankfully, the Compiler reported, "firemen bravely fought the flames and prevented further destruction of a building worth four or five fire engines." The Seminary building was protected by a slate roof, preventing the spread of the fire, and the metal floor of the cupola helped confine damage to the historic lookout point.

Impressed with the prompt response by firemen, the Lutheran Theological Seminary treasurer donated $25 to the Gettysburg Fire Company, and plans quickly were devised to restore the cupola to its original appearance. Insurance covered the cost of restoration ($764.25), which was completed in 1914.

The building now houses the excellent Seminary Ridge Museum, where, for $4 more than the seminary's donation to the Gettysburg Fire Company more than 100 years ago, you can check out the museum exhibits and get a 30-minute guided tour of the cupola.  (It's $27 if you are 65 or older.)

On a beautiful, blustery October afternoon, I shot the images below of the battlefield and town from Buford's long-ago vantage point. Click on each image to enlarge. (Hat tip Codie Eash, Seminary Ridge Museum lead visitors services assistant, for aid on direction of images.)

LOOKING NORTHWEST: Reynolds Woods in middle distance, Chambersburg Pike at right.
LOOKING SOUTHEAST: From right, Cemetery Hill (by water tower), Culp's Hill, Wolf's Hill in distance.

-- Adams (Pa.) County News, Aug. 23, 1913.
-- Gettysburg Compiler, Aug. 19, 20 and Sept. 10, 1913.
-- "Minutes of the Board of Directors of the Theological Seminary of the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States,” (Gettysburg, Pa.: Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Abdel Ross Wentz Library), May 21, 1914.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lost and found at Bull Run: Prized ring of Confederate officer

A post-war image of Confederate veteran Octavius Cazenove Henderson.
(Virginia Military Institute archives)
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1859 panotype of Octavius Henderson.
(Virginia Military Institute archives)
On Aug. 30, 1862, Captain Octavius Cazenove Henderson led five companies of 1st Virginia Infantry during vicious fighting at the Unfinished Railroad Cut at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Sometime during the battle, a piece of artillery shell struck the 23-year-old officer in the left hand, between the third and fourth fingers, knocking away his precious Virginia Military Institute ring. Henderson had been a student at the prestigious school in Lexington, Va., and, when war broke out, was an assistant professor of French there.

With the air full of artillery fire and bullets, the seriously wounded Henderson wisely thought it wasn’t worth spending time looking for the ring, given to each of the 29 members of the VMI Class of 1859. (Henderson was one of 14 students in Professor Thomas Jackson's artillery class in 1859. Two years later, he earned his nickname, "Stonewall.")

Nearly 32 years later, in late-August 1894, a young man walking through the woods on the old battleground stooped to pick up a rock to toss at a squirrel. On  the ground, he spotted a piece of jewelry. He noticed the ring’s setting was a bloodstone, and the letters “V.M.I” appeared above the Latin phrase “Sic hor ad astra” (Reach for the Stars) on the face. Inscribed inside the ring were the words “One of twenty-nine, O.C. Henderson, July 4th, 1859.”

Scott Shipp's 1859 VMI class ring, which is similar to Henderson's.
(Courtesy VMI Museum)
Stories of the find were published in local newspapers, and the discovery "excited a great deal of interest in the vicinity," according to C.D. Nourse, who visited with the young man who found the ring. Months after the great discovery, Nourse made an impressive Civil War find himself while turkey hunting near the banks of Bull Run: a Union canteen in a “wonderful state of preservation.”

VMI superintendent
 Scott Shipp told
C.D. Nourse where to find
Octavius Henderson. 
Hopeful of finding the ring’s original owner, Nourse wrote several letters, and eventually was contacted by Scott Shipp, the superintendent of VMI. A former Confederate officer in the 21st Virginia and 4th Virginia Cavalry, he also was a member of Henderson’s VMI Class of 1859. Better yet, he told Nourse that Henderson was alive and “making a survey in the wilds of Georgia.” After the war, Henderson, who graduated 26th in his class in 1859, was an assistant professor of infantry tactics at VMI and a civil engineer.

Nourse, who had acquired the ring from the young man, corresponded with Henderson, and eventually returned the jewelry to the grateful veteran. The story gained wide circulation in contemporary newspapers, and was even mentioned in obituaries for Henderson when he died at age 59 in 1897.

The whereabouts of the prized Bull Run relic today, however, are unknown.


Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 3, 1895.

        Henderson lost his VMI ring at the Railroad Cut at the Second Bull Run battlefield.
                         A portion of the Cut is seen here in the interactive panorama.

Do you have more information on this story? E-mail me here.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Do you know more about teen-aged Connecticut deserter?

James A. Brown's grave in Union Cemetery in Duncannon, Pa. (Photo: Richard Grossman)
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On Aug. 23, 1864, 18-year-old James A. Brown died of "congestive chills" at the home of Alex Morrison in Duncannon, Pa. Brown was a corporal in the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery, which was more than 120 miles south in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia at the time of his death.

What was Brown, who had deserted on April 5, 1864, doing in Duncannon, Pa., in the south-central part of the state? Did he have relatives in town? Was his family in East Windsor, Conn., aware of his whereabouts? Did the citizens of Duncannon know he was a deserter? They apparently were touched by the young soldier because they buried him in Union Cemetery in town and placed this marker atop his grave. James enlisted in February 1864 and was promoted to corporal a month later.

Do you know more about this teen-aged soldier? E-mail me here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Letter from Sharpsburg: 'Autumn sun kisses ... soldier-graves'

A cropped enlargement of Alexander Gardner's image of Union graves at Burnside Bridge.
(Library of Congress collection)
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More than a month after the Battle of Antietam, the detritus of war and scenes of devastation were not hard to find on the battlefield. On a beautiful fall afternoon, a correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer discovered broken muskets, knapsacks, pieces of shot and shell, remains of horses and trees riddled by bullets and artillery. At a small hotel where he stayed in the village of Sharpsburg, he found "nine hissing meteors thrown entirely through it."

"My bedroom has two loop-holes in the east wall, which ventilates it in the latest and most popular Sharpsburg style," the correspondent wrote on Oct. 25, 1862. "Thanks to Captain [Augustus] Martin’s Battery, or somebody else, for the correct ideas they had on the ventilation of modern dwellings. Your correspondent approves it, although it’s too late for a patent."

On Oct. 27, 1862, more than a month after Antietam,
 the Philadelphia Inquirer published this descriptive account
 of the battlefield.
Almost immediately after the battle, relic hunters picked over the fields and woodlots for souvenirs, but  the scavengers were "rather scarce" during the Philadelphia Inquirer correspondent's visit. Although citizens of Sharpsburg told him there were "nary a hoss or gun in town" from the battle, a Federal officer collected 443 muskets and  "sundry good mules and horses."

In an apple orchard near Burnside Bridge, the writer found a most poignant scene: makeshift graves for 17 soldiers, each marked with a pine board inscribed with the names or initials of the dead.

"The rabbit skips around them, the quail pipes his melancholy notes from the fence side, and the Autumn sun kisses those soldier-graves, day after day, and yet no kindred sheds a tear upon them," the correspondent eloquently wrote. "Alas! the poor soldier."

Published on Oct. 27, 1862, here's the writer's complete account, which includes a description of a visit of an "unsophisticated genius" with President Lincoln.

Special Correspondence of the Inquirer

SHARPSBURG, Md., Oct. 25, 1862.

On one of the most golden and beautiful afternoons of the present autumn I mounted saddle, at Frederick, and proceeded across the country to this sleepy village, classic and historical now as the battle-ground of Antietam. “Grim-visaged” war has left its mark of devastation along the entire route, from the first spurs of the Blue Mountains to the great field of carnage itself. Along the turnpike, at the intervening sections, the fences are all gone, the crops destroyed, bridges burned, vegetation trodden out, and almost every field is arabesque with dead horses, bullocks’ heads, broken wagons, and other debris of camp life. As both Federal and Confederate armies passed over this route, they left sad and indelible pictures upon that fertile and picturesque section of Maryland.

On descending the first range of hills a valley of magnificent proportions and beauty extends from North to South, dotted with yellow corn fields, green patches of winter grain, pleasant farm houses and sleepy barns.

  "The Mountain House" described in correspondent's account. It is still an inn today.

“To him who in the love of Nature holds Communion with her visible forms,” this valley would be a perpetual study and charm, and with its present autumn habiliments is, indeed, beautiful. South Mountain, properly the Catoctin, is where the Rebels gave us the first fight, a sketch of which your staff of correspondents graphically portrayed. But I must tell an incident which occurred when President Lincoln recently visited the scenes of that battle. In the Gap, at the “Mountain House,” an old farmer was turning an honest penny in selling apples and cider to the crowds of visitors to that locality. “Mr. President,” claimed the unsophisticated genius, “won’t you have a glass of cider?”

“No, sir, I thank you,” replied Mr. Lincoln.

“But it’s real good; prime Union cider!”

Cropped enlargement of image of President Lincoln shot by
Alexander Gardner near Antietam battlefield.
(Library of Congress collection)
“Is it? Why, my friend, then I will try it,” said the President, and which he did, with much wryness of face, vast fame to the farm, and great glee to Gen. [George] McClellan and Staff, who accompanied the President.

Yesterday morning I rode over the prominent points of the Antietam battlefield, including the Rebel centre and right, and the Stone bridge, where General Burnside met with such obstinate resistance and carnage. Evidences of that great fight are yet everywhere visible. Broken muskets, knapsacks, remnants of clothing, fragments of shot and shells, split and rifted trees, hard trodden ground, dead horses, and alas! long rows of graves and ditches, “where sleep the brave,” along the banks and on the high bluffs of the Antietam. In the orchard, back from the stream, I saw seventeen graves in a row, each with its little pine board, with names or initials, “Sept. 17,” etc, etc. How many tearful eyes, in far distant homes, have looked in imagination to those graves beneath the old apple trees! The rabbit skips around them, the quail pipes his melancholy notes from the fence side, and the Autumn sun kisses those soldier-graves, day after day, and yet no kindred sheds a tear upon them. Alas! the poor soldier.

The Confederate center of battle being on a prominent hill, immediately east, and in direct range of this village, our batteries threw immense numbers of shot and shell entirely over the enemy, into town, impartially and equitably distributing their favors to almost every house. Scarcely one escaped, while many had from one to a dozen shells thrown into a roof, garret, chamber, or cellar. The small hotel in which I am “tieing up” had nine hissing meteors thrown entirely through it. My bedroom has two loop-holes in the east wall, which ventilates it in the latest and most popular Sharpsburg style. Thanks to Captain [Augustus] Martin’s Battery, or somebody else, for the correct ideas they had on the ventilation of modern dwellings. Your correspondent approves it, although it’s too late for a patent. Our Sharpsburg hotels are much after your “first-class hotels,” particularly in charges per day. But here’s the difference; instead of “beef a’la mode,” we get mule fricassee, and instead of old Java, or Mocha coffee, we get unadulterated breakfast beverage from new crop acorns. Instead of famous Chester [Pa.] county butter, we get the most delectable Muscovado molasses for our bread and biscuit. Commend us to Sharpsburg luxuries “till the last syllable of recorded time.”

"Broken muskets, knapsacks, remnants of clothing, fragments of shot and shells, split and rifted 
trees, hard trodden ground, dead horses" littered the Antietam battlefield, the correspondent wrote.
This is a cropped enlargement of an Alexander Gardner Antietam image.
 (Library of Congress collection)
Relic hunters are getting rather scarce, although great numbers visit the battlefield every day; but the Government is monopolizing the business just now, and have Lieut. Samuel Waring, of York, Pa., gathering all the arms, horses, and other valuables belonging to Uncle Sam, but which in the fight, or rather after it, got mysteriously transferred into the hands of sundry citizens. Although the agents of the Government have visited this locality on similar business, Lieut. Waring collected, yesterday, four hundred and forty-three muskets, and sundry good horses and mules. Notwithstanding this important recovery, the citizens declared, previous to the search, that there were “nary a hoss or gun in town,” belonging to the best robbed and best lampooned Government on earth.

The impression prevails that an advance movement in Virginia will now be made. The men have marching orders, with three days’ cooked provisions, and are ready to “fall in.” Reports in camp say the Confederates are in force, back of Shepherdstown just opposite the fords here. `