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Monday, February 25, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
The grave of Major Lewis Martin. . .
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Curtis Clay Pollock
1st Lieutenant, Company G
48th Pennsylvania Volunteers
Like Lewis Martin, Curtis C. Pollock was a First Defender. He entered the army as a private in the Washington Artillerists when he was just eighteen years of age. In the summer of 1861, Pollock enlisted to serve "for three years, or the war," as a corporal in Company G, 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Like Martin, Pollock was fearless in battle, and soon rose to the rank of 1st lieutenant. During his years in the army, Pollock wrote hundreds of letters to his family in Pottsville. (These letters are also stored at Carlisle, and, like Martin's are a treasure for anyone wanting to learn more about the life of a Civil War soldier). Never afraid to lead from the front, Pollock escaped some of the war's most savage fighting unscathed until, in June 1864, he was struck by a shell fragment while charging the Confederate fortifications outside of Petersburg. Transported to the Georgetown Hospital, Pollock appeared to be recovering. But then "lockjaw," or tetanus, set in. . .and he passed away ten days after receiving his wound. His last letter home was written on June 12:
Near Coal Harbor about
10 miles from Richmond
My Dear Ma
I rec’d your letter of the 21st yesterday and was much pleased to hear from home again. I think I received all the letters you write and hope you get all mine. I write to you almost every few days. Though at present there is very little to write about. I do not get away from the Regt.- and can find out nothing about what is going on. Frank Farquhar was here yesterday he is Chief Engineer of the 18th A.C. and is a Capt. now. He looks very well. I am sorry to hear Margie is getting along so poorly. I have not written to her for some time, but our opportunities for writing are such that she ought not expect it. I have nothing more to write about We have been lieing in reserve in rear of the line of Rifle pits-and have nothing to do. Our baggage has been taken to White House Landing and stored on board of boats. The teams I guess are to be loaded with supplies for the Corps. We have enough to eat such as it is Hard Bread, Coffee & Fresh Beef. We managed to get a ham the other day which was quite a luxury.
Hoping you are all well
I remain Your Affec. Son
On July 6, Lieutenant Thomas Bohannon of the 48th wrote to Curtis's father:
This morning I turned over your sons valise to the Agt of the Sanitary Committee. He promised me he would deliver it to the Express Office at Washington, D.C. It is in safe hands and I hope you will receive it in good order. I would have forwarded it before the present time but the difficulty was that there has not been any Express Office established here as yet.
I was very much surprised in hearing of Lieuts death. The morning he arrived at City Point from the battle field he sent the ambulance driver to inform me of his accident. My quarters are ½ mile from City Point. I went immediately to see my particular friend as I must say he was a favorite young man in the Regt and a brave soldier.
On my arrival at City Point the Ambulance Corps was preparing to have him carried on board the boat to be sent to Washington. I took him by the hand and asked him if his wound was dangerous. He seemed to think not and appeared to be very much pleased that his wound was not more serious. As soon as he was placed in a bunk on board the steam boat, I sat down and spoke to him a few minutes. He then requested me to get him his valise but at that time I was not able to get the valise as I had placed all the baggage belonging to officers of the Regt on board a barge at the White House to be sent around to City Point by water. The barge had not arrived at the time.
I bid the poor fellow good bye but not thinking at the time nor him either that it was our last fairwell with each other. I hope he has gone to a happy home. I must come to a close by sending my kindest regards.
Bohannon was not the only member of the 48th to write to the Pollock family. On August 1, the regiment's quartermaster sergeant, Henry Krebs, penned the following letter, which was written in response to the family's request to have Curtis's personal belongings sent home.
Lieut. Bohannan having a press of business he has requested me to answer for him your letter asking for information concerning Curtis’ valise and other effects. Enclosed you will find the address (obtained from the Agent of the Sanitary Commission at City Point) to which the valise was sent, which I trust will enable you to get it, if it has not yet reached you.
Serg’t Jones, (now Lieut) of Company “G” thinks that his pistol must be in the valise.
Serg’t Aumen (now Lieut) Company “G” was near Curtis when he was wounded and assisted him from the field. He states that he was quite cheerful and in good spirits, though he suffered considerable pain. One of the his first expressions was “Wasn’t that a splendid charge ?”
After he had walked some distance he said he felt faint and sank to the ground ere Lieut. A. could catch him. He soon revived and walked assisted by Lieut. A. to the Field Hospital.
A few hours after he was taken in an ambulance to City Point. Lieut. Bohannan met him on the road. He spoke cheerfully and requested him to send his baggage home. He seemed to think his wound was slight, and that he was very fortunate in escaping so well, without the loss of a limb as there were many around him. Two hours ride brought him to City Point, where there was boat in readiness to receive the wounded and as soon as she was loaded she started for Washington.
The baggage of our Corps was sent by water from White House and only arrived the day he left or it could have been sent with him. There is an overcoat with the Company baggage which was just discovered a day or two since. Lieut. Bohannan will see Major Bosbyshell about it, and if it is Curtis’ will send it by express.
The writer of this will see Lieut. Aumen and see if he has any additional particulars, he will, no doubt, be pleased to give them.
All the members of the Company and of the Regiment unite in the highest praise of his bravery and courage in battle as well as his example as a friend and companion. His death and that of Lieut. Jackson has cause a deep feeling of gloom and sadness to pervade Company “G” which will not easily be dispelled. They will live long in the memories of those who knew them to love and respect them.
Trusting that the condolence of a friend and former member of Company “G” is not here out of place, I beg to subscribe myself.
Very Respectively Yours,
The remains of Curtis Pollock were ultimately interred in Pottsville's Charles Baber Cemetery, where, sad to say, it has become a popular target for vandals.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
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Monday, February 18, 2008
Brigadier General Isaac Peace Rodman
Isaac Rodman was an unlikely warrior. Quiet and unassuming, this one time banker, one time merchant, and one time legislator, whose middle name was, literally, Peace. He even taught a Bible class, and superintended a Sunday school for children. That this same man would receive a mortal wound while valiantly leading his men on the field of battle thus seems peculiar. Yet Rodman, was a patriot, imbued with a strong sense of duty to his country. When the Civil War broke out, he unhesitatingly offered his services and soon proved himself a naturally gifted military leader, who won promotions solely because of his merit and not due to any political connections or self-lobbying. He entered the war a captain in command of a company, and died, fifteen months later, a brigadier general in command of a division.
Born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, on August 18, 1822, Rodman attended the local schools for only a short time before going to work in one of his father’s mills. Later entering the manufacturing business with his father and a brother, Rodman became a successful businessman and merchant in his own right. A well-known community figure, Rodman served for a number of years as president of the town council before being elected to represent the people of South Kingstown in the Rhode Island General Assembly, and later, in the state senate. Before the outbreak of the Civil War, the untiring Rodman also served as the director of the Wakefield Bank. Noted for his insatiable thirst for knowledge and love of books, Rodman spent what little spare time he did have engaged in study, and, on Sundays, teaching the Bible to the children of the congregation. In 1847, Rodman married Sally Lyman Arnold, the daughter of Rhode Island’s governor, Lemuel Arnold. The couple would go on to raise five children.
Isaac Rodman left all of this behind in the spring of 1861.
After the fall of Fort Sumter, Rodman helped raise a company of volunteers, and in June 1861 was commissioned a captain in the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry. Forming part of General Ambrose Burnside’s Brigade, the regiment suffered greatly at First Bull Run, losing more than350 men, including its colonel. Captain Rodman escaped unscathed. In the fall of 1861, Governor William Sprague commissioned Rodman colonel of the 4th Rhode Island Infantry, a unit subsequently assigned to Burnside’s Expeditionary Force. Seeing action at the battles of Roanoke Island, New Bern, and at the capture of Fort Macon during Burnside’s successful expedition in North Carolina, Rodman distinguished himself as an aggressive and highly capable battlefield commander. His gallantry won him praise and impressed his superiors, and on April 28, 1862, Rodman won his star as a brigadier general. That same month, however, while serving as military governor of Beaufort, North Carolina, Rodman fell seriously ill with typhoid fever and was sent home to rest.
Not yet fully recovered and despite his doctor’s objections, Rodman returned to the army in early September 1862, after receiving a letter from Burnside in which the bewhiskered general expressed his desire that Rodman be with his command for the upcoming campaign. Placed in command of the Ninth Corps’s Third Division, Rodman’s men, although not engaged until late in the day, helped punch through Fox’s Gap during the battle of South Mountain on September 14, 1862. They would see much heavier fighting three days later at Antietam.
Taking up position behind the ridgeline east of the Antietam Creek and opposite the Lower Bridge on September 16, 1862, the Ninth Corps constituted the left flank of the Army of the Potomac. Wishing to utilize these troops for an attack against the Confederate right the following day, General George McClellan sent a few of his engineers on a mission to locate a suitable ford over which Burnside could send his men. When they returned with news of such a ford not more than 2/3 of a mile downstream from the bridge, Generals Burnside and Cox formulated their plan for the following day. Upon receiving orders to launch the attack, they would send a portion of their troops in an assault on the bridge, keeping the well-entrenched Confederate soldiers occupied and creating a diversion from what was to be the main effort: the forced crossing of the Antietam at the ford identified by McClellan’s engineers. The division of Isaac Rodman was chosen to carry out this latter task Once across, the Ninth Corps would then advance in unison against the town of Sharpsburg from the south and gain control of the Harper’s Ferry, or Boteler’s Ford Road, Lee’s only route of escape.
On the morning of September 17, Rodman’s men, reinforced by Colonel Hugh Ewing’s Brigade of the Kanawha Division and totaling about 3,200 troops, were in position and ready to advance. Around 10:30 a.m., with the first of what proved to be several assaults on the bridge already underway, Rodman arrived at the ford over which he was supposed to cross. It was immediately apparent, however, that this ford was unusable as it was completely commanded by Confederate sharpshooters and flanked on either side by steep banks. Frustrated but undeterred, Rodman sent two companies of the 8th Connecticut Infantry further down the creek to search for another location where they could cross. Snavely’s Ford was found about a mile south, but to get there Rodman had to march his men in a circuitous two-mile hike. Arriving there around noon, Rodman sent the 9th New York of Harrison Fairchild’s Brigade across. They soon drove back the handful of southerners who were guarding the ford. Snavely’s had been defended by General John Walker’s entire Confederate division, but Lee had pulled these men to help shore up his hard-pressed left flank around the West Woods during the morning hours, thus Rodman crossed relatively unopposed. However, the delay in crossing the Antietam due to faulty information resulted in tragic consequences.
By 1:00p.m., Rodman’s men were on the west bank of the creek and were forming into position for the attack on Lee’s right. Sam Sturgis’s Division had by this time carried the bridge, but it would be another two hours before the Ninth Corps began their advance. With Rodman’s Division on the left and Orlando Willcox’s Division on the right, the Ninth Corps line stretched for a mile in length. Finally, at 3:00p.m., the orders arrived. While Willcox was to drive straight toward Sharpsburg, Rodman would keep pace on his left then converge on the town from the south, and roll up Lee's right flank from right-to-left. In their way stood D.R. Jones’s Division supported by a number of batteries well-positioned on the high ground south and east of Sharpsburg.
Over rolling ground and amidst a shower of shot and shell, Rodman’s men moved out. However, the undulating terrain combined with the nervous enthusiasm of some of his troops, resulted in the uneven advance of Rodman’s Division. Fairchild on the right initially kept up with Welsh’s Brigade on Willcox’s left, but soon his New Yorkers were charging well ahead of anyone else. On Fairchild’s left was the brigade of Edward Harland. He had a much more difficult time in orchestrating the movements of his three regiments. The 8th Connecticut moved out as ordered, keeping up with Farichild’s men to their right, but the 4th Rhode Island and 16th Connecticut either did not hear the order to advance or were simply confused. They thus remained in their starting position. With Fairchild’s men driving the Confederate brigades of James Kemper and Thomas Drayton from the high ground south of town and even streaming into the streets of Sharpsburg, Rodman desperately tried to get Harland’s men caught up. Then, off to their left, both Rodman and Harland observed the arrival of A.P. Hill’s Division. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon. Harland was sent to warn his two lagging regiments of Hill’s arrival. Rodman galloped off to the right, seeking out Colonel Fairchild to deliver the same dire message. Just then a bullet passed through Rodman’s chest, penetrating his left lung. He fell from his horse and was later carried to a field hospital near the Rohrbach House. Within the hour, his division was driven back toward the bridge and the advance of the Ninth Corps stalled.
Later removed to the Rohrbach house, Isaac Rodman was told that his wound was mortal. News of his wounding was sent to his wife and family in Rhode Island, and they immediately made the long journey to Sharpsburg, Maryland. They were there by his side when he died peacefully on September 30, 1862, at the age of forty. His remains were brought back to his native state, and were laid in state in the halls of the Rhode Island General Assembly. Amidst great mourning, General Isaac Peace Rodman was finally laid to rest on October 5, 1862, in the family cemetery in Peace Dale, Rhode Island. Delivering a eulogy at his funeral service was Senator Henry Anthony, who declared:
"Here lies the true type of the patriot-soldier. Born and educated to peaceful pursuits, with no thirst for military distinction, with little taste or predilection for military life, he answered the earliest call of his country, and drew his sword in her defense. Entering the service in a subordinate capacity, he rose by merit alone to the high rank in which he fell; and when the fatal shot struck him, the captain of one year ago was in command of a division. His rapid promotion was influenced by no solicitations of his own. He never joined the crowd that throng the avenues of preferment. Patient, laborious, courageous, wholly devoted to his duties, he filled each place so well that his advancement to the next was a matter of course, and the promotion which he did not seek sought him. He was one of the best type of the American citizen; of thorough business training, of high integrity, with an abiding sense of the justice due to all, and influenced by deep religious convictions."
In a message to the Ninth Corps, General Ambrose Burnside was equally full of praise and tribute: “One of the first to leave his home at his country’s call, General Rodman in his constant and unwearied service, now ended by his untimely death, has left a bright record of earnest patriotism undimmed by one thought of self. Respected and esteemed in the various relations of his life, the army mourns his loss as a pure-hearted patriot and a brave, devoted soldier, and his division will miss a gallant leader who was always foremost at the post of danger.”
Isaac Rodman's final resting place in Peace Dale, Rhode Island
(Photo Source: www.findagrave.com)
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
General John Reynolds has two statues at Gettysburg; one on horseback near McPherson's Woods, west of town, and this one in the National Cemetery. . .
Monday, February 11, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008
The article is now available online at http://www.shaf.org/