Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"Our brigade lost in the charge...."

1st Brigade
Near the Weldon Railroad

August 22, 1864

[Written by Ansel L. White to his mother]

Dear Mother,

We recrossed the James [River] night before last and came to this point in rear of the 5th Corps ready to support them if necessary. We have the Weldon Road in our possession and Gen. [Ulysses S.] Grant intends to hold it. The 5th Corps had quite a fight before we reached here. They repulsed the Rebs with great slaughter. I presume our move across the James was only intended to draw the Rebs attention that way while the 5th Corps took the r.[ail] road which was done after a pretty severe fight. Our loss was quite heavy. Our brigade lost in the charge about two hundred & fifty. I presume you have seen accounts of it in the paper. Col. Marcy of the 20th Mass. was in command. Our Corps is under arms ready to follow the 5th as soon as they become engaged. Gen. [G.K.] Warren has just sent word that the enemy had left his front. I think he will find a plenty of them before he proceeds. Maj. Patten of the 20th Mass., a particular friend of mine was shot in the leg and had it amputated. I am afraid he will not live. Our brigade is commanded by Lt. Col. Rugg of the 59 N.Y. He will be relieved in a day or two. I think Col. Hudson will take command. It is fight, fight, fight, the same over & over every day.

Remember me to all,



Ansel L. White, was a 27 year old resident of Belfast, Maine, when he enlisted on Aug. 25, 1862, as a sergeant, and was mustered into Co. D, 19th Maine Infantry. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, Nov. 10, 1862, and Captain, Oct. 31, 1864. He was mustered out of service on May 31, 1865.

The 19th Maine Infantry was one of the hardest fighting units in the Army of the Potomac. Their battle honors include Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Bristoe Station, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Deep Bottom, Reams' Station, and Hatcher's Run. At Gettysburg, the regiment went into the battle with 440 officers and men. When the fighting was over they had lost 12 officers and 220 men!

Friday, August 18, 2006

3rd KY Cavalry brothers - Montjoy

The man on the left is Pvt. John W. Montjoy, and the man on the right is his brother Pvt. Jarret (Jerrett) Montjoy. Both were in Co. B, 3rd Kentucky Cavalry Reg, 2nd Brigade, 4th Division of Wheelers Cavalry Corps, Army of Tennesee. John Montjoy retired in the 1880's as a Colonel in the US Army Cavalry. He was also Sheriff of Montgomery county until the turn of the century.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Tintype of John Joseph Bradshaw, Baltimore, MD., with his troops; 3rd and 6th MD Regt.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Flag of 1st Virginia Artillery

The 1st VA fought as part of Kemper’s Brigade for most of the war under Col. M.D. Corse. In Gettysburg they fought under Capt. Archibald Graham. They were part of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia!! I am told that this flag matches the description of a Charleston Depot flag. The Charleston Depot flags are very rare, so it’s hard to know if this is one for sure. Like the Charleston flags, this flag has boarders that are extensions of the fields. This style is very decorative, but didn’t reinforce the exterior edges of the flag resulting in them wearing out sooner than flags from the Richmond Depot, the maker of most of the Confederate Battle Flags.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

33rd MS., surgeon writes about Franklin aftermath

Surgeon W.B. Wall (C.S.A.)

Army Tenn.,

Dec. 13, 1864

My Dear Wife,

I hope you have recvd. some of the letters I have written lately as in them I gave you all the news from your relatives. They were well. No letter from you yet of later date than Oct. 21st. The time seems very long to me. It snowed here about a week ago. It is still upon the ground. The weather has been quite cold the thermometer standing from 12 to 15 degrees below zero. You would probably like to know how I am situated. Well, Dr. Phillips [

Dr. G.C. Phillips, Surgeon, 22nd Mississippi, Company G] & myself took possession of a negro cabin that was nearly filled with corn. This we had thrown in the loft to the back of the cabin leaving us about half the room. It is well pointed & has an excellent fire place. We have some boxes & broken chairs to sit on so you see we are doing finely. At night we put down hay & spread our blankets on that for sleeping. We get plenty fat beef to eat & have but little to do except make ourselves comfortable. I have had only one man to report to me sick this month & there wasn’t much the matter with him. I don’t know how the men out on the lines stand the cold as they do. They have no extra amount of clothing, but few blankets & scarce of wood they suffer with cold, but endure it without much complaint. The wind is blowing fiercely today. We are in camp four miles from Nashville. You will have probably killed hogs before you get this. Let me know how much you made. Will you have corn enough or have you bought more? Like all of us I know you are anxious to learn what the army is doing & what it will do next. Well all I can tell you is we have dug trenches & are lying in them hoping the enemy will attack us. I have no thought we will attack them at Nashville and as to what we will do next I can give you no intimation for I have not the least knowledge of Gen. Hood’s intentions. Now, when will the war end? This is a hard question & one I am entirely unable to answer. I have no thought it will ever end in our subjugation. It makes me sad to think of being separated from you so much & so long, but I hope before a great while to be where you can at least visit me occasionally. Don’t allow yourself to become despondent but try to keep cheerful looking forward to a better day. Tell Laura and Mannie not to forget Papa. Hug & kiss them for me. Much love to Mrs. Oliver. I feel under deep & lasting obligations to her for her kindness to you & the children. Tell all the servants howdy & tell them to take care of the stock & not let it stray off or starve. I hope next year if the war continues to be where I can come home more frequently. I don’t wish to quit the service if I can remain in it & give home the necessary attention. I wrote you that Frank Robinson [probably was C. Franklin Robertson] was killed on the [Nov.] 30th at Franklin & Lt. Brown had his arm broken.

Your devoted Husband,

W.B. Wall


William B.[Burgeess] Hall enlisted as a surgeon in the 33rd Miss. Infantry, Company I.

According to Wikipedia:
Thomas planned to strike both of Hood’s flanks, with a minor attack on the Confederate right and the major effort on the left. Before daylight on December 15, the division led by Maj. Gen. James Steedman hit the Confederate right and held down one corps there for the rest of the day. The attack on the left, under Schofield, leading two corps and a division, began after noon with a charge up Montgomery Hill and it had a devastating effect on the entire Confederate line. Hood's army was battered, but not routed. Fighting stopped at dark and Hood reformed his men for the second day of battle. He established a main line of resistance along the base of a ridge about two miles south of the former location, throwing up new works and fortifying hills on their flanks. Union troops marched out close to the Confederate’s new line and began constructing fieldworks on the morning of December 16. Once again Thomas planned to attack on both flanks, but the initial attack on the strongly fortified Confederate right was unsuccessful. It was followed by the stronger left flank attack under Schofield, Smith, and Wilson, which succeeded. Their success inspired Thomas J. Wood and James B. Steedman to resume their attack on the right flank, which overran the Confederates. Hood’s army collapsed and fled in a heavy rain in the direction of Franklin.

The 33rd Mississippi lost its flag in the Battle of Franklin.

Collection of the Old Capitol Museum of Mississippi History, Jackson, MS.

The 33rd Miss., Company B, were known as the Amite County Guards.

The following 33rd men were killed at Franklin. It is likely that Surgeon Wall attended their wounds and/or their deaths:
1st Lt. John Powell, (Acting Major when killed Franklin, Co.B.), Alex Stewart (Co.,B.). For a complete list of the 33rd's casualties see this site.

Dr. George C. Phillips, Surgeon for the 22nd Mississippi, watching the Battle with Surgeon W.B. Hall on top of a hill wrote, "This was the first and only time I ever heard our bands playing upon a battlefield and at the beginning of a charge...When within three hundred yards of their breastworks a cannon boomed from their fort (Granger) across the little river north of the town. This seemed to be the signal waited for. A sheet of flame and smoke burst from the entire crescent of the enemy's breastworks, answered by the Rebel yell and musketry fire from our men. In a moment the whole valley was so filled with smoke that nothing could be seen but the flashes of cannon and musketry."

Influence of newspapers during the Civil War era

"What is to prevent a daily newspaper from being made the greatest organ of social life? Books have had their day - the theaters have had their day - the temple of religion has had its day. A newspaper can be made to take the lead of all these in the great movements of human thought and of human civilization. A newspaper can send more souls to Heaven, and save more souls from Hell, than all the churches or chapels in New York - besides making money at the same time."

James Gordon Bennett, editor, The New York Herald
Written in 1835

Samuel Bowles, editor-publisher of the Springfield Republican, wrote these words in 1851
The brilliant mission of the newspaper is . . . . to be, the high priest of history, the vitalizer of society, the world's great informer, the earth's high censor, the medium of public thought and opinion, and the circulating life blood of the whole human mind. It is the great enemy of tyrants and the right arm of liberty, and is destined, more than any other agency, to melt and mold the jarring and contending nations of the world into . . . one great brotherhood . . . .

Source: quoted in Blue & Gray in Black & White, p. 3, 4

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Libby Prison (Virginia), picture

Libby Prison was a Confederate Prison at Richmond, Virginia, during the American Civil War. It gained an infamous reputation for the harsh conditions under which prisoners from the Union Army were kept. More at Wikipedia.com

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Poems of the War - Her Letter Came too Late

Colonel W.S. Hawkins of the Confederate Army, and a prisoner of war at Camp Chase in 1864, wrote this poem. A near friend and fellow prisoner was engaged to be married to a young lady in the South, who proved faithless to him, and had written him a letter which arrived soon after his death. The letter was opened and answered by Col. Hawkins in the following lines:


Your letter, lady, came too late,
For Heaven had claimed its own.
Ah, sudden change! From prison bars
Unto the Great White Throne!
And yet, I think he would have stayed
To live for his disdain,
Could he have read the careless words
Which you have sent in vain.

So full of patience did he wait
Through many a weary hour,
That o'er his simple soldier faith
Not even death had power.
And you -- did others whisper low
Their homage in your ear,
As though among their shadowy throng
His spirit had a peer.

I would that you were by me now,
To draw the sheet aside,
And see how pure the look he wore
The moment when he died.
The sorrow that you gave him
Had left its weary trace,
As 'twere the shadow of the cross
Upon his pallid face.

"Her love," he said, "could change for me
The winter's cold to spring."
Ah, trust of fickle maiden's love,
Thou art a bitter thing!
For when these valleys bright in May
Once more with blossoms wave,
The northern violets shall blow
Above his humble grave.

Your dole of scanty words had been
But one more pang to bear,
For him who kissed unto the last
Your tress of golden hair.
I did not put it where he said,
For when the angels come
I would not have them find the sign
Of falsehood in the tomb.

I've seen your letter and I know
The wiles that you have wrought
To win that noble heart of his,
And gained it -- cruel thought!
What lavish wealth men sometimes give
For what is worthless all:
What manly bosoms beat for them
In folly's falsest thrall.

You shall not pity him, for now
His sorrow has an end,
Yet would that you could stand with me
Beside my fallen friend.
And I forgive you for his sake
As he -- if it be given --
May even be pleading grace for you
Before the court of heaven.

Tonight the cold wind whistles by
As I my vigil keep
Within the prison dead house, where
Few mourners come to weep.
A rude plank coffin holds his form,
Yet death exalts his face
And I would rather see him thus
Than clasped in your embrace.

Tonight your home may shine with lights
And ring with merry song,
And you be smiling as if your soul
Had done no deadly wrong.
Your hand so fair that none would think
It penned these words of pain;
Your skin so white -- would God your heart
Were half as free from stain.

I'd rather be my comrade dead,
Than you in life supreme:
For yours the sinner's waking dread,
And his the martyr's dream.
Whom serve we in this life, we serve
In that which is to come:
He chose his way, you yours; let God
Pronounce the fitting doom.