Monday, June 28, 2010

Tipton Photo - Gettysburg

Who Are These Guys ?

     A collector shared with me a great photo of the veterans of the 13th Mass., taken at the dedication of their monument at Gettysburg, September 25th 1885.  The photo came from the Clements Library, University of Michigan, Tipton Collection.  None of the veterans in the photograph were identified.

     The image has a very good resolution, and I'm able to zoom in and get a good look at the faces. (click on the image and you should be able to also).   I began to wonder who these guys were.

     I had pictures of several of the soldiers; both war time and post-war images.  The gentleman who shared it with me pointed out Colonel Leonard standing in the back, on the left.  Leonard appeared very much like his war time image.  Others were easily identifiable; James Fox, A.N. Sampson, and John H. White to name a few.  I tried to identify some of the others by comparing images in my collection to the Tipton photograph.  To aid in this endeavor, I sent copies of the photograph to descendants of soldiers with whom I had contact.

Some of them were able to help me positively identify their ancestors, like David Sloss and George Henry Hill.  Others weren't as sure, such as James Ramsey and Sam Webster.  In a few cases a little logic helped.

     I figured Charles Davis, Sam Webster, John H. White, and William Warner would all be up front, center.  This factor helped pinpoint the identity of George Hill too.  Its funny how much these guys look like each other.  For instance, notice how many bald men with mutton chops (or mustaches) there are!  In the back row, I thought I could pick out Elliot C. Pierce, but the guy right next to him looks almost identical from this distance.  Same with Moses Palmer in the front row, on the right.  See how similar the guy next to him looks ? Moses needed a cane to walk, he was shot up in the knee at Gettysburg,  and the gentleman I identified has an umbrella to lean on. The hat he's holding is also a clue that this is Moses Palmer.

     Much later, another friend sent me a digital file of the Gettysburg Star & Sentinel, (pdf format) with a column describing the events at the dedication.  From the article I learned that David Sloss was one of the speakers as well as James Fox and Jacob A. Howe.

    Sloss carried the state colors for the regiment during the final months of their 3 year enlistment. I never could have identified him from his war time image.  But his descendant shared a post war image with me and he was suddenly identifiable.

Captain James Fox, was the initial captain of Company A, later Mayor of Cambridge and a successful politician/public figure.  He was easily identifiable from a post war image I found on the internet.

 Jacob A. Howe saved the colors from capture during the battle of Gettysburg.  As the regiment fell back, overwhelmed by the enemy, Howe took the colors and made a dash for Cemetery Ridge and safety.

"A corporal who had the colors was severely wounded here and I took the flag and carried it along to the main street of the town where I had to run the gauntlet of the rebels, who were now pouring in in large numbers.  In the doorways of the houses were many of our officers and men who offered to make room for us, but I felt that having command of the color company it was my duty to save the colors.  I finally reached Cemetery hill, where i found a small number of the regiment who , like myself, were worn out with the fatigue and excitement of the day."
     Unfortunately. I don't have a picture of Howe and I can't locate one.  But,  I know he's in this photo somewhere.

     Some of the identities are educated guesses, and I put question marks to note that.  This is an on-going project.   Meanwhile I've shared the identities with the people at the Clements Library, University of Michigan.  I also shared it with the re-enactors back east who portray Company F of the 13th Mass.  They laid a copy of the photograph at the base of the monument later that year when they made their annual November trip to Gettysburg a couple years ago.

   One interesting note about the Tipton photo and the monument; - at the dedication, many of the veterans were disappointed in the direction the monument faced (westward).  It should have faced more to the north, the direction the regiment faced during the battle.  A committee of the veterans was formed to look into the matter of re-orienting the statue, a quarter turn more to the north,  which was done successfully a couple of years later.

One last parting shot...It's the 13th Mass., Gettysburg Monument with the photograph laid at its base.  Click on any of these images to enlarge them.  And, if you can help with the identity of any of these men in the photo, I'd like to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Major Gould at Harper's Ferry

I’m always on the lookout for new information about the 13th Mass., Vols. and its soldiers.   I was very surprised lately to discover the congressional testimony of Major Jacob Parker Gould before the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War on January 13, 1862.   Major Gould is one of my favorite personalities from the annals of the 13th and it is particularly gratifying to discover new things about him.   Gould was an outsider among the regular officers of the 13th Mass., and his election as Major was unpopular.   It is said he kept to himself.   Yet, he proved a brave leader in combat,  at 2nd Bull Run, where he was the ranking officer in the regiment at the battle, and again at Antietam, where he was commended in General Coulter’s official report of the engagement.   He died from a mortal wound received at the 1864 Battle of the Crater, while leading his regiment in combat as Colonel Gould of the 59th Mass., Vols.

 The newly found report actually sheds much light on the affairs at Harper’s Ferry in the Fall of 1861, when Companies C, I, and K were doing detached duty there; particularly about the wheat harvest from Herr’s Mill, and the subsequent battle of Bolivar Heights which it triggered. Here’s the set up.
Major Gould, stationed at Sandy Hook, was in charge of the detached troops opposite Harper’s Ferry for a few miles up and down the river on the Maryland side.   The troops were guarding the C & O canal and picketing the river crossings.   As Austin Stearns of Company K writes in his memoirs : “All the boats, scows, skiffs, for miles up and down the river, we had destroyed or taken to our side.”

Unionist sympathizer Abraham Herr owned several businesses on Virginius Island adjacent to the town, among them a large mill with about 20,000 bushels of un-milled wheat.   His mill had been disabled by General Patterson’s Union forces during their occupation of the town earlier in the summer.   Mr. Herr or perhaps, Herr Herr, offered up the un-milled wheat to the government, to make bread for the soldiers.   Major Gould passed the offer along to his commander, General N.P. Banks, at Darnestown and the offer was accepted.   The wheat harvest began about October 11th.    The rebel forces in the area didn’t like the wheat harvest and decided to attack to put a stop to it. They showed up in force October 16th and the Battle of Bolivar Heights ensued. (Herr's Mill is the large building in the center of this lithograph showing Virginius Island in the 1850's).

 Major Gould’s testimony is interesting for its details.  It describes the ferry system he rigged together using several boats and a long rope cable. The ferry was used to transport troops, artillery and wheat. The actual amount of wheat saved was always in question, usually estimated at 20,000 bushels.   He gives the correct figure at 15,000 bushels.   Some rebels secretly returned to Virginius Island a couple days after the battle and burned Herr’s Mill to the ground. This fact is routinely mentioned in reports on the affair, but Gould states he shelled the miscreants with artillery, to hasten them away, alas too late.   The mill was destroyed. This document is a great resource and I offer it up to all interested.



Question.   What is your rank and position in the army ?

Answer.    That of major of the thirteenth Massachusetts volunteers.

Question.   How long have you been in the army ?

Answer.    It is little more than six months since I had that commission.   I had the commission of captain previous to that time.

Question.   Where have you been stationed ?

Answer.   Up on the Potomac, in General Banks's division.

Question.    Will you state to the committee, as concisely as you well can, what you know in relation to the army during that time ?

Answer.    I have been stationed upon the outposts guarding the canal and the Potomac river, and most of the time have had under my individual command a body of troops separate from the rest.    My regiment has been brigaded, but I have only been at times with the rest of the division.

Question.    How many men have you had under your own command ?

Answer.   From 200 to 600.

Question.    State concisely the most important events that have transpired in your own command.

Answer.     I can speak generally of the good order of the men that have come under my observation.    They have been exceedingly faithful in the performance of their duties, and very careful in carrying out their orders.     The first signal service they performed was the arrest of Mr. Boteler, of Virginia.     The orders I gave my men then were particularly carried out.

Question.    Have you men stationed at Harper's Ferry ?

Answer.    Yes, sir ;  since then, during the fall, I was stationed there.

Question.    Have you had anything to do with the seizure of any wheat there ?

Answer.    Yes, sir. By order of General Banks I seized nearly 15,000 bushels of wheat.

Question.  Where was the wheat ?

Answer.    In Mr. Herr's mill, across the river.

Question.    At what point was this mill?

Answer.    At Harper's Ferry, opposite Sandy Hook.

Question.   State what happened at that time.

Answer.   I was five days in taking the wheat, previous to the Bolivar fight; that interrupted it, for on the second day after the fight the rebels came there to attack me.   But I had no force on the other side, and they set the mill on fire and burned up the rest of the wheat.   In consequence of my shelling them they did not set any other buildings on fire, but retreated to Charlestown.   That was the last I saw of the rebels.   I remained there ten days after that.   Previous to that time we had had some skirmishes. Sometimes we were across the river, but most of the time the enemy fired over at us.  I can say for the troops that were under my command that they were ready to stand fire.

Question.   Give us the particulars of the seizure of the wheat, and your mode of transporting it across the river.

Answer.   I  reported that wheat to General Banks a fortnight or so before I commenced taking it.   He immediately sent me an order to take it, and asked what force I wanted.   I sent word that I would require 300 additional men and a battery by a certain time, which were promised me.   No one in my command, not even my own officers, knew that I was going to take the wheat.   I had made arrangements for boats, for it is a good principle to go upon to keep the means of retreat open in an enemy's country.   I found in the canal there what is called a repair-boat, a large deck-boat, that would hold forty or fifty men at a time.   There were two large scows there that would hold twenty men each, which I attached together, making, as it were, one boat of them.   There was some rope there at the railroad depot which was going up to Cumberland, but which I had stopped because I was not certain about the loyalty of the owners, and a little because I wanted to use it in this matter.   Out of that I got rope enough to make a good cable that would reach across the river, so that I could cross in three minutes. I also sent some men off who obtained some two-inch cable for another rope across the river.  I also got some tackle-blocks to tighten the rope across the river, which there was about 550 feet wide.   For about 60 miles, as far as I have seen, the river averages about 1,000 feet in width.   But there it is not quite 600 feet wide.

I had two cable lines across the river, and kept the boats coming and going all the time—one boat going over while the other was coming back.   I could take one piece of artillery and the horses and men attached to it in a boat at a time; so that, with two boat-loads, I could take over a section of artillery and the men and horses connected with it.   Previous to taking the wheat I ordered two companies over to form a signal line, so that no information should get out to Charlestown.   Upon the firing of a cannon they were to establish a close blockade, which they did. As soon as the additional troops I had sent for arrived, I established another line out a mile further, and we put the cannon on Camp Hill to command all the roads.   The next morning I was ready to commence taking across the wheat. I proceeded to take it over at the rate of about 400 bushels an hour, from 7 o'clock in the morning to 12 o'clock at night.   About 400 bushels an hour was as much as I could get across the river during that time.   I had received information on Sunday that a force of the enemy was approaching, but I did not suppose there was any force in that section.   But some came up from Leesburg and got on Loudon Heights; and on Wednesday morning they made an attack upon our pickets with a 32-pounder, and drove them.   By order of some superior officers, previous to that time, some of the cannon were removed in the night time and put on the Maryland Heights; but when they fired over the river the shot fell among our own men, and we repelled the enemy by infantry, except those on Loudon Heights, which were shelled out by our cannon. Before 4 o'clock we drove the enemy very nearly to Halltown, and took eight prisoners.   That night, by orders of the superior officer, the whole command was withdrawn from the Virginia shore.   I thought it was wrong, because it left exposed some five Union citizens who had been led to express themselves freely for the cause of the Union in consequence of our presence there, and who had assisted me in every possible manner.    The enemy came there, arrested the owners of the mill, and burned the mill and the remainder of the wheat, some 7,000 bushels.

Question.   How much wheat did you get over and save ?

Answer.   Not quite 15,000 bushels.   It made some 3,100 barrels of flour here at Georgetown, where it was sent.   I also took a large quantity of lead and copper and three cannon.   The rebels, since then, have taken all the tin pipes and the cook-stoves they could get.   I took about three tons of lead and copper there.

Question.   Had you force enough there, if your artillery had been retained on the Virginia side, to have held the place against the force that was opposed to you ?

Answer.   I would have needed two larger pieces of artillery on Maryland Heights.   Maryland Heights control Loudon Heights, and Loudon Heights control Camp Hill, Harper's Ferry, and Bolivar.   The enemy did not serve their guns well during that day.   They had two regiments on Loudon Heights, and had their cavalry up opposite Sandy Hook.   Their plan was, as I afterwards learned, to engage us at Bolivar, cross the Potomac east of Loudon Heights, and surround and bag us, as they termed it.   They had 4,000 men there, as I heard, while we had only about 900 men after we were re-enforced.

Question.   With the arrangements you had there for crossing, how many men could you have taken over the river in an hour ?

Answer.   I think I could have taken over 300 men an hour easily; perhaps more.

Question.   With the boats you had?

Answer.  Yes, sir.

Question.   Could you have got that wheat across the river without great difficulty if it had not been for the cables you had ?

Answer.   No, sir.   The water was pretty high then.   It varies in the river very much.   A freshet in the Potomac lasts about three days, as I have noticed.

Question.   So far as you know, what is the condition of the troops in General Banks's division ?

Answer.   I think they are in very good condition indeed; ambitious to distinguish themselves, I think, when they get an opportunity to try their strength.

Question.   Are the men, in your judgment, ready to go into battle ?

Answer.   Yes, sir.   I know that from the experience I have had of them.   They express themselves as desirous of doing so whenever it is necessary.

Question.   Is there anything further, in connexion with these matters, which you would desire to state, and which you would consider it important for the committee to know?

Answer.   I do not know as there is.   Harper's Ferry has not been occupied since I left there.   I had orders, when I took the grain, to rearrest Mr. Boteler, and I came very near doing it, though he did not know it.   He was then returning from Richmond; but he kept himself behind a little force of the enemy there all the time.   I do not think we could cross the river well without cables.   At least, I should not want to try it. In the canal, once in every twenty or thirty miles, I think they have what is called a repair-boat.   It is a deck-boat, and the men can walk on and off it very readily.

Question.   How many men would such a boat carry across the river ?

Answer.   I put on forty men. I think one boat-load I put on more, but they said the boat was not a new one, and it might strain it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Memorial Day at Mountain View Cemetery

I attended Memorial Day services at Mountain View Cemetery, located in the foothills that straddle Pasadena and Altadena, California.  Nick Smith has almost single-handedly revived a Memorial Day tradition which existed until 1946 when  the last local Union veteran was buried there.  Nick has discovered more than 600 Civil War veteran soldiers buried at Mountain View.  This year, the ceremony included some special presentations in addition to traditional services.

I arrived a bit late.  Loran Bures, Commander of the Department of California’s   Rosecrans Camp #2 of the Sons of Union Veterans was explaining to attendees the origins of the Grand Army of the Republic and its successor organization the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.  Brother Phil Caines followed up with the reading of General John A. Logan’s 1868 orders establishing Decoration Day, the forerunner of Memorial Day.  Logan was the first commander in chief of the G.A.R.  This was followed by a reading of the poem “The Flag They Loved So Well,” and the 2010 General Orders from today’s S.U.V.C.W. Commander in Chief Leo Kennedy.   A prayer was offered for our country’s soldiers and the president, after which, a wreath was presented by two members of the Ladies Auxiliary to Rosecran’s Camp #2.  This concluded the brief official service by the Sons.  Flags and flowers had been placed before the graves of many veterans two hours prior to the start of services.

Nick then introduced Ms. Margaret Alley of the United Daughters of the Confederacy [U.D.C].  In his introduction it was noted that all who fell in the Civil War were Americans, so this year the graves of the fifteen Confederate dead at Mountain View were decorated with the first national flag of the Confederacy.  One Mountain View veteran, Arnold Bertonneau, actually served on both sides during the conflict, as 1st Lieutenant in the1st Native Guards Louisiana Militia, and in Company H, 74th U.S. Colored Troops. After the war he settled in Pasadena.  His son worked to include football as part of the annual New Year’s Celebration in Pasadena.  Ms. Alley gave a brief talk about local Confederate Heritage, including Fair Oaks Blvd. in Pasadena which is named for the home of  A.S. Johnston’s widow, who lived there briefly after her husband had left to fight for the Confederacy.   Among the Confederate dead at Mountain View is William Blackwell of the 18th Texas Cavalry who was awarded the Southern Cross in 1931.

After Ms. Alley’s brief talk U.D.C. member Kathy Ralston gave the crowd an interesting presentation on Victorian “mourning” customs.  She brought a collection of several authentic artifacts to accompany her talk.  Among them many pieces of  'hair jewelry' which was much in vogue in Victorian times.

In June, 2004 Kathy hosted a ceremony at Mountain View to dedicate a headstone for her ancestor, Emanuel Basore, who served in the Stonewall Brigade until after the battle of Gettysburg.  Emanuel made his post-war home out here and was buried without a headstone when he died in 1907.  It was attendance at this ceremony that started Nick’s research into the number of Civil War veterans buried at Mountain View, and the subsequent revival of Memorial Day services there.    Emanuel Basore’s brother-in-law, George Sperow is buried a short walk away; both men served in Company E, 2nd Virginia Infantry.

I’ve been reading a lot about the Stonewall Brigade lately as I follow the fortunes of the 13th Mass. Vols., in 1862, and I remarked to Kathy, after her talk, that my ancestor spent an awful lot of time chasing her ancestor around Virginia.  I don’t think the rival regiments ever directly faced each other in combat.  Kathy related many interesting stories handed down by family.  After the battle of Gettysburg, when apparently they had enough of war, the two men deserted and hid out, possibly at their family home near Harper’s Ferry.  There is a story that while Emanuel’s mom invited the Union High Command to dinner the two boys were hiding under a bed in an adjacent room.  It was also told that the boy’s sisters flirted with Union pickets in order to bring food concealed under their hoopskirts to the boys hiding in nearby woods.

After speaking with Kathy I trekked off down the road to photograph the graves of her two relatives.  Consequently I missed Steven and Patrice Demory’s presentation on Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe, the Civil War Balloonist, and his wife Leontine, who are buried a few steps from where the ceremony was held. ( I had seen the fascinating presentation before).  Judging from the size of the crowd they were also enjoying it.

I rounded out the day taking a tour with Nick, and listening to some of the fascinating stories he’s discovered.  There are two Medal of Honor recipients buried at Mountain View, Milton Haney and Thomas Ellsworth.

Haney was Chaplain of the 55th Illinois, a regiment that saw much fighting with Sherman during the 1864 Atlanta campaign.  Rev. Haney led his regiment in a countercharge against Confederates in one of the engagements before Atlanta. Haney turned down a subsequent promotion in rank because he wanted to remain Chaplain.  He settled in Pasadena after the war and served as a Methodist minister.  In fact, he was a minister for 76 years of his 97 years of life.  He retired from the pulpit for ‘medical reasons.’  Not a word of his military service or the Medal of Honor is on his headstone.  He wanted to be remembered for his ministerial work.

I was very interested in the other recipient, Thomas Ellsworth, because he was a Captain in the 55th Mass. Colored Regiment.    Charles B. Fox, formerly 2nd Lt. Fox, of Co. K, 13th Mass. was the Lt. Colonel of the 55th.  Fox’s journal was actually used as the basis for the post-war regimental history of the 55th.  Nick told us that when Massachusetts Governor John Andrew called for volunteers to enlist in the new Colored Regiment, the famous 54th Mass., he got so many applicants, (some who had come from as far away as Ohio to join), that he decided to muster the extra 1,000 recruits and form a second regiment; the 55th Mass.  Since the new regiment was not planned, officers had to be found.  Nick said Governor Andrew had very strict requirements for the officer applicants; they had to be experienced in the field, very patriotic, and have abolitionist leanings.  At Honey Hill, the 55th Mass. participated in a lethal charge on a Confederate Fort.  The troops were badly shot up.  Ellsworth carried the regimental commander off the field.  Another man, Andrew Jackson Smith, of the Color Guard, helped rally the troops and get them safely off the field.  In the 1890’s, rules for the Medal of Honor were changed, and he military commander of the 55th Mass., who was still serving in the army, recommended Ellsworth and Smith receive the Medal of Honor.  Ellsworth’s paperwork went through quickly, and he received the medal in 1895.  Smith’s took a little longer; his posthumous medal was accepted by descendants in the last days of the Clinton administration.

We also visited the graves of John Brown’s daughter Ruth, and her husband, Henry Thompson. Henry and his brother William were followers of John Brown.  Henry was wounded at one of Brown’s actions in Kansas and couldn’t participate in the famous raid at Harper’s Ferry.  Will Thompson did participate and was killed during the raid.  The couple operated a health camp in Pasadena after the war.

I'm not sure if this means anything, but two very prominent names in the annals of the 13th Mass., are John S. Fay, who lost an arm and a leg from a shell that killed two others on April 30th 1863; and Charles E. Davis, jr. who was the regimental historian, and the one man who kept the 13th Regiment Association going for years and years.  Davis and Fay are buried thousands of miles away, but I was struck by the view from where I was standing, watching the services a few moments after I arrived at Mountain View.  These markers were directly in front of me.  Is this a coincidence ?