Friday, December 28, 2012

Reading List. . .2013!

Time to clear up some shelf space. . .

2013 promises to be a year of good Civil War reading. Here are just a few titles--scheduled for publication in 2013--I am most looking forward to. I am not saying I will actually get around to reading all of them (there are still many 2012 titles I need to get through). . .but I have a strong feeling each of the following titles will at least find a home on the crowded shelves of my library.

So, with nothing more needed to be said, here are some of the 2013 titles on my ever-growing "must read" list broken down into categories. . .

1863: Sesquicentennial 

As 2012 fast draws to a close, we say farewell to all Sesquicentennial observances and commemorations of all-things 1862. But 2013 is just a few days away and we thus look ahead at commemorating and remembering the major campaigns and battles of that all-important year: 1863.

First, a look at some non-Gettysburg, 1863 books!

Chancellorsville’s Forgotten Front:
The Battles of Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church: May 3, 1863

Chris Mackowski and Kristopher White
June 2013

Savas-Beatie Description: By May of 1863, the Stone Wall at the base of Marye's Heights above Fredericksburg loomed large over the Army of the Potomac, haunting its men with memories of slaughter from their crushing defeat there the previous December. They would assault it again with a very different result the following spring when General Joe Hooker, bogged down in bloody battle with the Army of Northern Virginia around the crossroads of Chancellorsville, ordered John Sedgwick's Sixth Corps to assault the heights and move to his assistance. This time the Union troops wrested the wall and high ground from the Confederates and drove west into the enemy's rear. The inland drive stalled in heavy fighting at Salem Church. Chancellorsville's Forgotten Front: The Battles of Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church, May 3, 1863 is the first book-length study of these overlooked engagements and the central roles they played in the final Southern victory.Once Hooker opened the campaign with a brilliant march around General Lee's left flank, the Confederate commander violated military principles by dividing his under-strength army in the face of superior numbers. He shuttled most of his men west from around Fredericksburg under Stonewall Jackson to meet Hooker in the tangles of the Wilderness, leaving behind a small portion to watch Sedgwick's Sixth Corps. Jackson's devastating attack against Hooker's exposed right flank on May 2, however, convinced the Union army commander to order Sedgwick's large, unused corps to break through and march against Lee's rear. From that point on, Chancellorsville's Forgotten Front tightens the lens for a thorough examination of the decision-making, movements, and fighting that led to the breakthrough, inland thrust, and ultimate bloody stalemate at Salem Church.Authors Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White have long appreciated the pivotal roles Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church played in the campaign, and just how close the Southern army came to grief-and the Union army to stunning success. Together they seamlessly weave their extensive newspaper, archival, and firsthand research into a compelling narrative to better understand these combats, which usually garner little more than a footnote to the larger story of Jackson's march and tragic fatal wounding.The success at Second Fredericksburg was one of the Union army's few bright spots in the campaign, while the setback at Salem Church stands as its most devastating lost opportunity. Instead of being trapped between the Sixth Corps' hammer and "Fighting Joe" Hooker's anvil, Lee overcame long odds to achieve what is widely recognized as his greatest victory. But Lee's triumph played out as it did because of the pivotal events at Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church-Chancellorsville's forgotten front-where Union soldiers once more faced the horror of an indomitable wall of stone, and an undersized Confederate division stood up to a Union juggernaut.
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Grant at Vicksburg: The General and the Siege
Michael Ballard
Southern Illinois University Press
April 2013
Amazon Description: On May 22, 1863, after two failed attempts to take the city of Vicksburg by assault, Major General Ulysses S. Grant declared in a letter to the commander of the Union fleet on the Mississippi River that “the nature of the ground about Vicksburg is such that it can only be taken by a siege.” The 47-day siege of Vicksburg orchestrated by Grant resulted in the eventual surrender of the city and fulfilled a major strategic goal for the Union: command of the Mississippi River for the remainder of the war. In this revealing volume, Michael B. Ballard offers the first in-depth exploration of Grant’s thoughts and actions during this critical operation, providing a never-before-seen portrait of the general in the midst of one of his most notable achievements.
After an overview of Grant’s early Civil War career from his first battle through the early stages of the attacks on Vicksburg, Ballard describes in detail how Grant conducted the siege, examining his military decisions, placement of troops, strategy and tactics, engineering objectives, and relationships with other officers. Grant’s worried obsession with a perceived danger of a rear attack by Joseph Johnston’s Confederate army, Ballard shows, affected his decision making, and shows how threats of Confederate action occupied more of Grant’s time than did the siege itself.
In addition, Ballard soundly dispels a false story about Grant’s alleged drinking binge early in the siege that has been taken as truthful by many historians, examines how racism in Grant’s army impacted the lives of freed black people and slaves in the Vicksburg area, and explores Grant’s strained relationship with John McClernand, a politically appointed general from Illinois. The book concludes with the surrender of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, the expulsion of Johnston and his army from the region, and demonstrates the impact of the siege on the outcome on the short and long-terms of Grant’s military career.
By analyzing Grant’s personality during the siege and how he dealt with myriad issues as both a general and an administrator, Grant at Vicksburg offers a revealing rendering of the legendary general.

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Chickamauga 1863: Rebel Breakthrough
Alexander Mendoza
February 2013
Amazon Description: There is renewed interest among Civil War historians and history buffs alike about events west of the Appalachian Mountains and their impact on the outcome of the conflict. In examining the Chickamauga campaign, this book provides a fresh analysis of the foremost Confederate victory in the Western theater. The study opens with a discussion of two commanders, William S. Rosecrans and Braxton Bragg, and the forces swirling around them when they clashed in September 1863. Drawing on both primary sources and recent Civil War scholarship, it then follows the specific aspects of the battle, day by day.

In addition to interweaving analysis of the Union and Confederate commanders and the tactical situation during the campaign, the book also reveals how the rank and file dealt with the changing fortunes of war. Readers will see how the campaign altered the high commands of both armies, how it impacted the common soldier, and how it affected the strategic situation, North and South.

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Now. . . .

Onto some Gettysburg-specific titles, on their way in 2013.

Naturally, because Gettysburg remains the best-remembered battle in American Civil War history, and because it continues to capture our attention, there are a number of full campaign/battle studies on the way. . .in addition to the title I wrote, published in November 2012 by the History Press as part of its Civil War Sesquicentennial Series.

[Click on the Photo for more on my contribution to that vast Gettysburg historiography]

Forgive my shameless plug. . .let's move on. . .

I am looking forward to Dr. Allen Guelzo's Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, scheduled for release in May and published by Knopf. A little more about this title can be found here.

Other Gettysburg titles include. . .

The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses:
Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties, and Maps: June 9—July 14, 1863

J. David Petruzzi and Steven Stanley
February 2013

Amazon Description: The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses is a full-color, master work decades in the making. Presented for the first time in print are comprehensive orders of battle for more than three dozen engagements both large and small waged during the five weeks of the Gettysburg Campaign (June 9 - July 14, 1863).

Each presentation includes a synopsis of the engagement, photos of the commanders, an original full page map of the fighting, an order of battle with numbers and losses (including killed, wounded, captured, and missing), charts and graphs of relative strengths and losses, a conclusion of how the fighting affected each side and the course of the campaign, and a brief suggested reading list.

J. David Petruzzi and Steven Stanley use a staggering array of primary resources to compile the text and craft the original maps, including the Official Records, soldier letters and diaries, period newspapers, regimental histories, reminiscences, muster rolls, and other published and unpublished sources. For the first time students of the campaign can turn page-by-page to read, visualize, and understand blow-by-blow how the unfolding action affected the individual corps, divisions, brigades, and regiments, and by extension influenced decision-making at the highest levels of command.

The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses: Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties, and Maps, June 9 - July 14, 1863 is a stunning original presentation destined to become a constant companion for anyone interested in this always fascinating slice of Civil War history.

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Searching for George Gordon Meade:
The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg

Tom Huntington
Stackpole Books
February 2013

Amazon Description: While researching Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg, author Tom Huntington visited a severed leg, a buried arm, and a horse's head. He also hiked across Civil War battlefields, recited the names of fallen soldiers at a candlelit ceremony at Gettysburg, and drank a champagne toast in a Philadelphia cemetery on New Year's Eve. It was all part of his quest to learn more about the man who commanded the victorious Union army at the Civil War's Battle of Gettysburg, yet has been unfairly overlooked by history in the years since.

Although in command of the Army of the Potomac for a mere three days before the battle, Major General George Gordon Meade managed to defeat Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia during three days of vicious fighting. The cantankerous general remained in command of the army for the rest of the war even as he watched his reputation decline. "I suppose after awhile it will be discovered I was not at Gettysburg at all," he griped in a letter to his wife.

Searching for George Gordon Meade is not your typical Civil War biography. While Huntington does tell the story of Meade's life, he also provides first-person accounts of his visits to the battlefields where Meade fought and museums that cover the Civil War. He includes his conversations with experts, enthusiasts, curators, park rangers and even a Meade impersonator to get their insights. The result is a compelling mash-up of history, biography, travel and journalism that touches both past and present.

·  A historian's investigation of the life and times of Gen. George Gordon Meade to discover why the hero of Gettysburg has failed to achieve the status accorded to other generals of the conflict

·  Covers Meade's career from his part in the Mexican-American War through his participation in the great Civil War engagements, including Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Overland Campaign, and Appomattox.

·  Available for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

·  Explores Meade's legacy today at reenactments, battlefields, museums, and institutions that preserve history

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John Bell Hood
The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General

Stephen Hood
May 2013

Amazon Description: John Bell Hood, one of the Confederacy's most enigmatic figures, died unexpectedly from yellow fever in August of 1879 at the age of 48. He had been working hard on his memoirs, the first draft of which he finished just before his death. When Advance and Retreat: Personal Experience in the United States and Confederate States Armies was published the following year, they immediately became as controversial as its author.A careful and balanced examination of these "controversies," however, coupled with the recent discovery of Hood's personal papers-long considered lost forever-finally sets the record straight in John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General.Outlived by most of his critics, Hood's published version of the major events and controversies of his Confederate military career met with scorn and skepticism. Many described his memoirs as nothing more than a polemic against his arch-rival Joseph E. Johnston. These unflattering opinions persisted throughout the decades and reached their nadir in 1992 when an influential author described Hood's memoirs as "merely a bitter, misleading, and highly distorted treatise" replete with "distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsifications." Without any personal papers to contradict them, many historians took full advantage of the opportunity to portray Hood as an inept and dishonest opium addict and a conniving, vindictive cripple of a man. One writer went so far as to brand him "a fool with a license to kill his own men." Authors misused sources and ignored or suppressed facts sympathetic to Hood.Stephen M. "Sam" Hood, a distant relative of the general, embarked on a meticulous forensic study of the common perceptions and controversies of his famous kinsman. His careful use of the original sources of the broadly accepted "facts" about John Bell Hood uncovered startlingly poor scholarship by some of the most well-known and influential historians of the 20th and 21st centuries. These discoveries, coupled with his use of a large cache of recently discovered Hood papers-many penned by generals and other officers who served with General Hood-confirm accounts that originally appeared in Hood's posthumously published memoir and resolve, for the first time, some of the most controversial aspects of Hood's long career."Blindly accepting historical 'truths' without vigorous challenge," cautions one historian, "is a perilous path to understanding real history." The shocking revelations in John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General will forever change our perceptions of Hood as both a man and general, and those who set out to shape his legacy.

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No cover image for this one has been found yet, but I am happy to see a biography of Sumner on its way.  . .

General Edwin Sumner:
A Civil War Biography

Thomas K. Tate
McFarland & Company
Spring/Summer 2013

Publisher's Description: Covering General Edwin Vose Sumner’s eventful career, this biography emphasizes his role in developing the mounted arm of the U.S. Army. Born in Boston in 1797 he abandoned a merchant’s career and entered the U.S. Infantry in 1819. Transferring to the Dragoons in the 1830s, Sumner established the Cavalry School of Practice at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Among his students was the future Confederate General Richard S. Ewell. Sumner served with distinction throughout the Mexican War and maintained a balance between the warring factions in Kansas in the mid-1850s (his efforts earning him the displeasure of the Pierce administration). He led an expedition against the Cheyennes with subordinates that included future Civil War generals John Sedgwick and Samuel Sturgis as well as the capable but head-strong Lieutenant Jeb Stuart. Replacing Albert Sidney Johnston in California in 1861, Sumner kept the state within the Union. Returning east, he commanded the Second Corps throughout 1862 and he died of pneumonia in March 1863. 

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Surgeon in Blue:
Jonathan Letterman, the Civil War Doctor Who Pioneered Battlefield Care

Scott McGaugh
Arcade Publishing
July 2013

Amazon Description: The first full-length biography of the Civil War surgeon who, over the course of the war’s bloodiest battles—from Antietam to Gettysburg—redefined military medicine.

Jonathan Letterman was an outpost medical officer serving in Indian country in the years before the Civil War, responsible for the care of just hundreds of men. But when he was appointed the chief medical officer for the Army of the Potomac, he revolutionized combat medicine over the course of four major battles—Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg—that produced unprecedented numbers of casualties. He made battlefield survival possible by creating the first organized ambulance corps and a more effective field hospital system. He imposed medical professionalism on a chaotic battlefield. Where before 20 percent of the men were unfit to fight because of disease, squalid conditions, and poor nutrition, he improved health and combat readiness by pioneering hygiene and diet standards. Based on original research, and with stirring accounts of battle and the struggle to invent and supply adequate care during impossible conditions, this new biography recounts Letterman’s life from his small-town Pennsylvania beginnings to his trailblazing wartime years and his subsequent life as a wildcatter and the medical examiner of San Francisco. At last, here is the missing portrait of a key figure of Civil War history and military medicine. His principles of battlefield care continue to be taught to military commanders and first responders. 24 b/w photographs

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Other. . .

James Buchanan and the Coming of the Civil War
John Quist and Michael Birkner, Editors
The University Press of Florida
February 2013

Amazon Description: James Buchanan took office just as the schism surrounding states’ rights had grown so wide in the national consciousness that it could no longer be ignored. His presidency was defined by the Dred Scott case, his choices for cabinet, and the secession crisis. Despite his central role in a crucial hour in U.S. history, few presidents have been more ignored by historians. Michael Birkner and John Quist seek to fix this oversight with this collection of cutting-edge essays analyzing Buchanan and his presidency.

This highly focused and groundbreaking work will significantly alter how James Buchanan is remembered as man, politician, and president. It forces historians to reconsider whether Buchanan’s failures stemmed from his own mistakes or from circumstances that no president could have overcome. By taking a closer look at some of the defining moments in his presidency—including his contentious Kansas Policy and the Star of the West incident—the contributors paint a much clearer picture of the man who came to be known as one of America’s worst presidents.

Analyzing everything from the president’s dealings with Brigham Young to his foreign policy, interpretations of Buchanan and his presidency differ widely throughout the collection. These essays truly grappled with the complexities of the debate surrounding the man who sat in the White House prior to the towering figure of Lincoln.

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Interpreting Sacred Ground:
The Rhetoric of National Civil War Parks and Battlefields

J. Christian Spielvogel
The University of Alabama Press
January 2013

Amazon Description: Interpreting Sacred Ground is a rhetorical analysis of Civil War battlefields and parks, and the ways various commemorative traditions—and their ideologies of race, reconciliation, emancipation, and masculinity—compete for dominance.

The National Park Service (NPS) is known for its role in the preservation of public sites deemed to have historic, cultural, and natural significance. In Interpreting Sacred Ground, J. Christian Spielvogel studies the NPS’s secondary role as an interpreter or creator of meaning at such sites, specifically Gettysburg National Military Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and Cold Harbor Visitor Center.

Spielvogel studies in detail the museums, films, publications, tours, signage, and other media at these sites, and he studies and analyzes how they shape the meanings that visitors are invited to construct. Though the NPS began developing interpretive exhibits in the 1990s that highlighted slavery and emancipation as central facets to understanding the war, Spielvogel argues that the NPS in some instances preserves outmoded narratives of white reconciliation and heroic masculinity, obscuring the race-related causes and consequences of the war as well as the war’s savagery.

The challenges the NPS faces in addressing these issues are many, from avoiding unbalanced criticism of either the Union or the Confederacy, to foregrounding race and violence as central issues, preserving clear and accurate renderingsof battlefield movements and strategies, and contending with the various public constituencies with their own interpretive stakes in the battle for public memory.

Spielvogel concludes by arguing for the National Park Service’s crucial role as a critical voice in shaping twentieth-first-century Civil War public memory and highlights the issues the agency faces as it strives to maintain historical integrity while contending with antiquated renderings of the past.

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No Cover Image has yet been found for this title.  .  .

Veterans North and South:
The Transition from Soldier to Civilian after the American Civil War

Paul Cimbala
July 2013

Amazon Description: Based largely on Civil War veterans' own words, this book documents how many of these men survived the extraordinary horrors and hardships of war with surprising resilience and went on to become productive members of their communities in their post-war lives.

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Lincoln’s Citadel
The Civil War in Washington, D.C.

Kenneth J. Winkle
W.W. Norton & Company
August 2013

Amazon Description: From a White House window in 1861 Lincoln could see the Confederate flag flying across the Potomac. On Capitol Hill the slave trade and the underground railroad had long worked clandestinely side by side. Situated on the border of the Confederacy and at the crossroads of slavery and freedom, Washington, DC, was on the front lines of the Civil War. A dangerous position, it became a bastion for the Union under the leadership of Lincoln and his administration. Confederate sympathizers in this southern town posed real security threats, and fear led to loyalty oaths and political arrests. Tides of wounded troops and fugitive slaves flooding the city—the health risks compounded by pestilential canals and creeks—forced the administration to undertake massive relief operations.

Original and absorbing, Lincoln’s Citadel
shows us a president fully engaged, privately and publicly, with the challenges the war imposed on the capital and its residents, black and white. 8 pages of illustrations

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Across the Divide:
Union Soldiers View the Northern Home Front

Steven Ramold
NYU Press
April 2013
Amazon Description: Union soldiers left home in 1861 with expectations that the conflict would be short, the purpose of the war was clear, and public support back home was universal. As the war continued, however, Union soldiers noticed growing disparities between their own expectations and those of their families at home with growing concern and alarm. Instead of support for the war, an extensive and oft-violent anti-war movement emerged.
In this first study of the gulf between Union soldiers and northern civilians, Steven J. Ramold reveals the wide array of factors that prevented the Union Army and the civilians on whose behalf they were fighting from becoming a united front during the Civil War. In Across the Divide, Ramold illustrates how the divided spheres of Civil War experience created social and political conflict far removed from the better-known battlefields of the war.
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Lee’s Army During the Overland Campaign:
A Numerical Study

Alfred C. Young
Louisiana State University Press
May 2013
Publisher's Description: The initial confrontation between Union general Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Virginia during the Overland Campaign has not until recently received the same degree of scrutiny as other Civil War battles. The first round of combat between the two renowned generals spanned about six weeks in May and early June 1864. The major skirmishes—Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor—rivaled any other key engagement in the war. While the strength and casualties in Grant’s army remain uncontested, historians know much less about Lee’s army. Nonetheless, the prevailing narrative depicts Confederates as outstripped nearly two to one, and portrays Grant suffering losses at a rate nearly double that of Lee. As a result, most Civil War scholars contend that the campaign proved a clear numerical victory for Lee but a tactical triumph for Grant.
Questions about the power of Lee’s army stem mainly from poor record keeping by the Confederates as well as an inordinate number of missing or lost battle reports. The complexity of the Overland Campaign, which consisted of several smaller engagements in addition to the three main clashes, led to considerable historic uncertainty regarding Lee’s army. Significant doubts persist about the army’s capability at the commencement of the drive, the amount of reinforcements received, and the total of casualties sustained during the entire campaign and at each of the major battles.
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2013 thus looks to be a promising year. . .but more than anything else. . .this is what I am most looking forward to in the year ahead:

Our first little bundle of joy. . . .

Due to Arrive in May!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The 48th/150th: "The only thing we want to see is the war over:" Lt. Curtis C. Pollock's Fredericksburg Account

One of the best accounts of the 48th's actions at the Battle of Fredericksburg was penned by Lt. Curtis C. Pollock, of Company G, on December 18, 1862.

Pollock was only 18 when he enlisted as a corporal in 1861, but he rose quickly through the ranks to the rank of 1st Lieutenant, of Company G. A brave young officer, Pollock was struck down and mortally wounded in June 1864 at Petersburg, Virginia.

Camp near Fredericksburg
December 18, 1862
My dear Ma
Today a week ago
[December 11, 1862] we marched off about half a mile from our present camp expecting to cross the river at once but were halted there. All day we laid in mud about three inches deep and listened to the artillery firing which was kept up incessantly all day. Towards evening we were ordered back to camp and hardly got there and our things off before we were ordered to fall in again and off we started to cross the river but we had not got farther than the place where we had lain all day when the order was countermanded again and back we went to camp. We slept very comfortably and were aroused before daylight to get ready to cross. We had not more than eaten our breakfast before the order came and on we started, this time in earnest. When we arrived at the bridge we found it already to cross. We crossed at the upper bridge, where they had two [pontoons] down. I see by the papers that this is called the lower bridge, but in fact it is the upper one being at the upper end of town. Well we got safely across, though the Rebs fired a few shells at us while crossing and though they fell into the river it was too far up to injure any of us.

As soon as we crossed we were formed in line of battle along the shore and afterwards we marched up into the street to let other troops take our places. We laid in the street about half an hour when we were again moved forward to the gardens behind the house, here we laid nearly all day and the men wandered all over town bringing in tobacco, etc of which they found in abundant supply in the town and as they were out of money and no way to get it, it was very acceptable. They also brought a number of books, some very handsomely bound and works of the best authors. Co. G got a complete set of Waverly novels, very finely bound in muslin. I have one of them. I did not run around much being afraid of the regiment moving. In one very handsomely furnished home a ball struck a piano and knocked it from the corner, in which it was standing to the center of the room and destroying it entirely.

Everything was apparently left in great haste and the men could be seen walking around with every imaginable article of household goods. One man brought into camp a large doll. . . others had lace, shawls, silk dresses and in fact everything. I was told that a man belonging to one of the batteries found a whole set of silver and carried it off.

About four o’clock we were marched down the street nearest the river to about the middle of the town and halted just in front of where a whole block of houses had been burned to the ground, nothing was left of them but the tall chimneys and the smouldering embers. Here we had orders to bivouac for the night and as we could not light any fires the men made their coffee and cooked their evening meal on the burning ruins. Soon after dark one of the chimneys fell down with a loud crash and as the men were lying all around under them at every little there was we all supposed two or three must be badly injured, if not killed, but by good fortune all the men got out but one, who was not seriously injured, he being near the bottom.

Soon after this I changed my bed, having made it close to the fire, and not wanting any [chimney] to fall on me, I moved to the other side of the road. It was quite cold, and I laid down to try and go to sleep. I do not know how long I slept, but I got awake feeling very cold, and, hearing a great deal of commotion around I got up and saw a crowd around one of the fires, and on asking what it meant, learned that another chimney had fallen down and hurt another man. I jumped up and went over. The doctor was there and I could tell by his face that he was seriously injured. He was carried off to the hospital but died before morning. It was too cold to go to sleep again so I sat up on a narrow drawer and fell asleep with my head on my hands, but I had hardly got to sleep before the drawer gave way and I fell into the fire and burned my wrist slightly. It did not take me long to get out of it, I tell you. Well, after that there was no more sleep for me that night.

Saturday morning rose as stated in the papers. About 10 o’clock we moved down the street to the lower end of town and laid there until about one o’clock. (The infantry firing commenced about 12), when we were moved out through town towards the firing. When we arrived at the outskirts of the town we were order to remain there in reserve, while the rest of the Brigade went out. We laid down behind a stable for some time, when one of the staff officers reported the rebels going to charge, and then we were ordered to support the men already out. We started off on a double quick across the fields and as soon as the Rebs saw us they commenced pouring in their shells thick and fast, but we kept on and by our going at double quick we escaped a great many of their shells, which otherwise would have fallen directly in our ranks. Gen. Sturgis complimented us very highly on the manner in which we went up and said it was the best line he ever saw go into a fight.

After a run of about a quarter of a mile we reached the place where the infantry was firing. they were posted behind a small hill and were firing over the hill at the Rebs who were behind a stone wall at the bottom of the hill, on the top of which they had their breast works, and near the stone fence ran a small creek between them and us. We were lying down behind the hill for a few minutes waiting for a Regiment to fire all their ammunition before we relieved them. When they were through we went up to the brow and commenced well, we fired away, but could not tell whether we did any damage or not. We were relieved by other troops who had come up while we were firing, and we went back out of the road. There was a regiment coming up soon after we were through firing (163 N.Y.) and as soon as they saw some of us some them fired right into us, taking us I suppose for Rebels, but after a great waving of flags on our part, they ceased firing and came up. They paid pretty dearly for their firing at us, for the Rebs seeing them stop dropped several shells right in their ranks and put them in great confusion. When they fired into us it killed two men, lying right at my feet, but never scratched me.

As soon as it was dark, we were marched back to town to get another supply of ammunition, and on the road we got mixed up with some other regiment and I lost my company. We went back to the place where we were the night before and, had hardly half the regiment but Col. Pleasants soon came up with the remainder. I went in the house that Col. J.K. Sigfried was quartered in and slept very comfortably.

Sunday morning we got up with the expectation of fighting again, and in fact it was rumored that Gen. Burnside had ordered the 9th A.C. to take the fortifications by storm, but we were lying around all day, in suspense afraid to leave for fear the regiment might move.

I slept in the same place that I did the night before, and the family who were living in the cellar came up occasionally and as there were two very pretty, and interesting young ladies who sang remarkably well, we managed to spend a very pleasant evening.

Monday morning came and we all were wondering what Burnside intended to do. We all thought it was folly to attempt to take the position which the Rebels held and we were getting anxious about lying around the town exposed to their artillery firing. The papers say so much about the men eager for the fray, but to tell the truth, you will not come across one man in the whole army who is not heartily tired of the whole thing and would like to see it settled any way at all. I thought I could see from the various movements about town that we were going to evacuate. The ambulance trains were running all day beside men carrying wounded men over the river on litters, old bed ticks, mattresses, chairs and in fact everything they could lay their hands on. This was kept up from morning until dark and I was told that the night before they were working quite as hard. Soon after dark we were marched off down the street the same way we went on Saturday and stopped at the same place. then the Colonel called the company commanders together and told us we were to go up to the outskirts of town and occupy the houses. We were to make loop holes through them large enough for one man to shoot through. From this I thought we were to direct the attention of the Rebs to the front while the remainder of the army went around and attacked them on the flank. but we had hardly got the work done when we were ordered to fall in again and marched back to town and over the same pontoon we crossed on before and marched up to our old camp. Thus ended the five days fight before Fredericksburg. There were some charges made on their fortifications but none got any farther than the creek. I was very glad we did not have to charge as we would have been almost entirely cut up. I believe that the position they hold is impregnable when attacked on the front.

We found our old shanty all knocked to pieces and for the first night we slept in with some of the men. But now we have one of our own again and much better and larger than the first. We have fine large fire places in it and warms it up finely. Lieut. Jackson was detailed to take a party over the river to bury the dead, and he tells us he has seen as much war as he wants to—He saw General Stuart and several other Rebel celebrities.

I commanded Company D and lost two men killed and two wounded. Co. G lost but one man wounded in the arm, not as the rebels could see, when each brigade left town and could have full sweep at them from that time until they got all the way up and under the shelter of the hill. Some regiments coming up you could see the shells bursting directly in their ranks and knocking men in all directions. Our regiment suffered less than most of the others and the reason of it is, I think that we went at it more systematically and did not get excited. Lieut. Jackson had a very narrow escape, a shell bursting directly in front of him and the powder burnt his neck and hands without doing any further injury.

It was quite cold last night but we slept very comfortably in our new house The weather was very mild all the time we were over the river, or the men would have suffered severely. We are getting along very well and are in good spirits, and the only thing we want to see is the war over. I think you will be pleased with this letter and about the only think that kept me at it so long was the thoughts of it pleasing you so much. I have had to stop and rest myself several times during the writing, but I have at last got it through and I am very glad of it.

With much love to all I remain your affectionate son,

The 48th/150th: "It was not long before the work of carnage began:" Captain Bosbyshell Describes The Battle

Captain Oliver C. Bosbyshell (seated), with Lts. Pollock and H.C. Jackson, Co. G
Saturday, December 13, was an exceedingly pleasant day, so far as the weather was concerned—warm and balmy—but anything but a pleasant one to the torn, shattered and maimed soldiers, who passed through the fiery ordeal of the that day! The streets of the town were very muddy. Of course the command was aroused early, and all could guess the momentous events to come, by the unusual activity among the staff offices, who could be seen galloping here and there, conveying orders. The Forty-eighth was soon formed, and marching still further to the left, halted in line below the railroad. Whilst waiting at this point, General Thomas Francis Meagher rode by. Who can forget his magnificent appearance! Dressed in a faultlessly fitting suit of dark green cloth, black shoulder knots, in the center of which were embroidered silver stars, and his yellow silk sash crossed over his breast, denoting a general field officer of the day—superbly mounted on a deep bay horse, he made up a picture of unusual grace and majesty. One can well understand how, later in the day, his Irish brigade fought with the tenacity of tigers, inspired by the magnificent presence of its intrepid leader.
It was not long before the work of carnage began—opened by battery after battery sending terrible missiles hurtling through the air, until the vast amphitheatre reverberated with the sound of three hundred rebel cannon and as many Union guns. Above the din the sharp rattle of musketry soon arose, adding to the terrible work of death.
The regiment moved to the back of the town toward Marye’s Heights, and for a time remained stretched out in a street running perpendicular to the river. Whilst lying the grape, canister and shells of the enemy wounded several men in the ranks. Captain Gilmour of H, Sgt. Nies, of G, and others were slightly wounded, one man of Company A was killed. At this point the novel experience of seeing a ball or shell coming from the rebel artillery was vouchsafed. The ball could be distinctly seen in the air, and the ground immediately on the left of the regiment was frequently struck; the shots would roll over and over, in the most awkward manner.
General Nagle and staff were standing under cover of a brick stable, not far from the right of the Forty-eighth. A solid shot struck the building penetrating both walls—coming out just above the heads of the General and staff—throwing the brick bats amongst them, and covering the party with dust and dirt. It was a narrow call, but little time was permitted to ponder over it—the order to advance being given. This was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The Forty-eighth marched by the flank toward the right a short distance until some obstruction had been passed when the command, ‘Left face, double quick time,’ came, and running over the clear space down into a hollow, and up a slight rise in the ground, the regiment became hotly engaged with the enemy. This movement was made under a terrible storm of deadly missiles. The command was in full view of the rebels and within easy range. As one of the regiment puts it in his diary, “the advance to the front over a clean ground with death staring us in the face as grim as ever any troops met it.” . . .
The regiment remained on the front line until 7 o’clock in the evening—expending sixty rounds of ammunition per man, to great purpose—for the batteries immediately in its front were at times completely silenced by the marksmanship of the men. Lt. Col. Pleasants passed along the line, directing that the ten best marksman of each company should elevate the sights of their pieces and pick off the men manning the guns. The effect of this action was soon made apparent by the decreasing fire of the artillery.
The regiment was relieved by the Twelfth Rhode Island, Colonel Brown. . . .The command passed off the hill by the left flank, and retired under cover of deep railroad cut—returning to the same street and occupying the same places utilized the night before. Fresh ammunition was distributed and the men literally worn out soon fell asleep despite the angry tempest of lead still raining in the front. The loss was sixty killed, wounded and missing.  

The 48th/150th: Fredericksburg Casualties

48th Pennsylvania Casualties at Fredericksburg

Private James Williams, Co. A
Corporal Reuben Robinson, Co. B
Private Michael Divine, Co. B
Private John Williams, Co. B
Private William Hill, Co. B
Sergeant Henry Williamson, Co. D
Private Thomas Kinney, Co. D


Company A: Joseph B. Carter, William F. Heiser
Company B: Sergeant Nelson W. Major, William Brown, Clement Betzler, Carey Heaton, Philip Carling, Lieutenant John S. Wood
Company C: Corporal Henry Weiser, Samuel Harrison, Charles Walker, Andrew Scott, Michael McLaughlin, John Murray
Company D: Corporal John H. Derr, H.C. Burkholder

H.C. Burkholder, Co. D

Company E: Robert Hughes, Edward Murphy, John Sunderland, Corporal Michael Sandy, Corporal Samuel Clemens

Company F: David Griffiths, Evan Thomas, William Fulton

David Griffiths

Company G: Sergeant James C. Nies, Daniel Donne, John Tobin

Daniel Donne

Company H: Captain Joseph A. Gilmour, Corporal Alba C. Thompson, Valentine Kinswell

Joseph A. Gilmour

Company I: Sergeant Francis D. Koch, Corporal James Miller, Wilson Kerns, Edward F. Shappelle, Jacob Gongloff, Charles E. Weaver, Anthony Beltz, Joseph Gilbert, Elias Faust

Francis D. Koch [Ronn Palm Collection]

Company K: John Currey, Thomas Currey, Frank Simon, Michael Delaney


George Airgood, Co. A

The 48th/150th: Fredericksburg. . .Reports & Soldier Accounts

Sergeant Joseph Gould, Co. F:
"On the 11th of December a heavy artillery duel took place, and the troops on our side of the [Rappahannock] river were moving towards the bank ready to cross. Our brigade did not take any part in the movement until the 12th, when we crossed the river on a pontoon bridge opposite the city, and lay in the streets all that day and night. The shells from the enemy were exploding all around us while occupying this position, and quite a number of the regiment were disabled. On the 13th our brigade, now consisting of the 48th Pennsylvania, 2nd Maryland, 6th and 9th New Hampshire and 7th Rhode Island, was ordered to the assault at 2 p.m. Prior to this we had been in an exposed position, the right wing lying up one street northward and the left wing on another street eastward. Directly in front of the right wing was a large brick barn, behind which [division commander] Gen. Sturgis and staff were standing, until a solid shot came flying clean through the walls, scattering the bricks and debris in all directions, and with is scattered the general and his staff."
Sergeant William J. Wells, Co. F:
"Just prior to this incident, while General Sturgis was seated upon a camp stool and leaning against the barn, General Ferrero, commanding the 2nd Brigade of his division, came in from the front, much excited, and told Sturgis that his brigade was all cut up, and demanded to know why in the hell he did not send them reenforcements. Sturgis replied: 'Oh, I guess not, General, keep cool; take a little of this,' lifting the canteen to his lips. While so engaged, the shot came through the barn, just over his head, but he never lowered it until he had finished his drink; then, handing the canteen to Ferrero, he rose, went to the corner of the barn, looked over the field, and then said to Col. [Joshua] Sigfried [commanding the 48th], who was standing near, 'Now is your time, Colonel. Go in.'"

'Attention! Right face! Forward, march!' and the 48th moved quickly to the right, until the barn was uncovered, when the Colonel commanded: 'By the left flank; march,' and the regiment swung into line, rapidly marching to the front, then to the right, then again to the front, when we halted, the right companies finding themselves for a short time lying flat on their faces behind a frame house and a long pale fence, while grape and canister played a tattoo through the same. We had been carried too far to the right and could not advance farther to the front from that position. Up again, then to the left until the house was cleared, then by the front; forward, with a rush, into shelter under the brow of a slight elevation, when our advanced was impeded by a mass of men, many deep, seeking similar shelter. Here we stayed doing sharpshooting, picking off the officers and gunners from the batteries upon the heights until nightfall, when we were withdrawn under the cover of darkness."

Sergeant Gould:

"It has been truly said that only those who participated in the contest know much and how little they heard. We remember how the smoke, the woods, and the inequalities of the ground limited our vision when we had the leisure to look about us, and how every faculty was absorbed in our work; how the deafening noise made it impossible to hear orders; what ghastly sights we saw, as men fell near us, and how peacefully they sank to rest when a bullet reached a vital spot. [Sergeant August] Farrow and [Private David] Griffiths of Company F stood in the ranks to deliver their fire, though repeatedly commanded to lie down, until Griffiths was shot through the left lung and carried to the rear. Wounded men shrieked and others lay quiet; the singing and whistling of the balls from the muskets was incessant; and we knew very little of what was going on a hundred yards to the right or left. Participants in real fighting know how limited and confused are their recollections of the work, after it has become hot. All efforts to dislodge the enemy were unsuccessful, and the losses very heavy. Night put an end to the contest, and, having exhausted our ammunition, we were relieved by the 12th Rhode Island regiment and marched back to town. Cannon and musketry fire ceased their roar, and in a few moments the silence of death succeeded the stormy fury of the ten hours' battle. We were soon fast asleep in the streets of the town, tired out."

Brigadier General James Nagle, Commanding 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Corps:

"From 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m., the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers was held in reserve. It was the ordered to the front. The men marched under a most galling fire like true veterans. The whole of my brigade remained in the front until after sixty rounds of ammunition had been expended, and until they were relieved by other troops. . . ."

Colonel Joshua K. Sigfried, Commanding the 48th Pennsylvania, to the Miners' Journal, 12/16/1862:

"We bivouacked in the street on the right of the city the preceding night; towards noon on the 13th marched toward the left and to the support of the 2nd Brigade of same Division. At one o'clock P.M., received orders from General Nagle to march to the open field in the rear of the city, when my regiment was kept in reserve (while the rest of our brigade marched forward) until half-past two o'clock, when General Sturgis ordered me to forward my command to assist in repelling a charge the enemy was about making on our line. We started and went at double-quick (a distance of half a mile) under a most terrific fire of shell, grape and cannister from the enemy's batteries. Arriving at the hill (about four hundred yards from the enemy's breastworks), I was requested by Colonel Clark, of the 21st Massachusetts Volunteers, to relieve his regiment; their ammunition was nearly expended; I did so; when we remained on the crest of the hill until our ammunition was exhausted (sixty rounds per man), when Colonel Brown, of the 12th Rhode Island Volunteers, relieved us. At dusk the hill became crowded, and seeing other regiments still coming up, Colonel Clark and myself concluded best to return to the city for ammunition, and give room for fresh troops to get under the shelter of the hill."Too much praise cannot be given to all the soldiers (and the following officers who were in the battle, viz: Lieut-Colonel Pleasants, Major J. Wren, Adjutant D.D. McGinnes, Captains U.A. Bast, G.W. Gowen, Winlack, Hoskings, O.C. Bosbyshell, J.A. Gilmour, John R. Porter, Isaac Brennan, and Lieutenants H. Boyer, Eveland, John Wood, Humes, Chas. Loeser, Jr., Bohannan, Fisher, James, Williams, Jackson, Pollock, A. Bowen, Schuck, Douty, and Stitzer), for their gallantry during the entire engagement. Their line was steady and unbroken while advancing under the most murderous shelling of the enemy, and their fire deliberate, well-aimed and effective.
"I deeply sympathize with the families and friends of those who have fallen, but it is a source of great gratification to know that they fell while gallantly defending a just and holy cause."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The 48th/150th: "The Eleventh of December. . .was an eventful day."

Captain Oliver Bosbyshell describes the regiment's activities, 150 years ago this very day, December 11, 1862:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Bombardment of Fredericksburg, 12/11/1862

           The eleventh of December, 1862, was an eventful day. The men of the regiment were aroused at 4 a.m. by order of the Colonel. Blankets, with shelter tents enclosed, were rolled to be carried across the shoulder as a sash. Three days’ rations were placed in haversacks and knapsacks, and all unnecessary baggage was left in camp, in charge of the sick. The regiment started at 8 o’clock, with the brigade, to participate in the assault on Fredericksburg. The artillery stationed on the many eminences overlooking the town, opened early and kept up an almost incessant cannonade all day long. The Forty-eighth was drawn up in line of battle on the summit of a hill, about a half-mile east of the Lacy House—in the neighborhood of the Phillip’s House—awaiting the completion of the pontoon bridge. The laying of this bridge was a very difficult task—the rebel infantry stationed along the edge of the south bank of the river, kept up a rattling fire upon the sappers and miners engaged therein. The latter gallantly returned the fire, and continued with their work. Some thus engaged were killed, and quite a number wounded. Then the rebel sharpshooters, with which the houses along the river abounded, turned their attention to our cannoneers, who were making it uncomfortable for the rebel infantry along the river bank.

            As the artillerymen began to fall, Burnside ordered the town shelled. The batteries responded with a will, roar succeeded roar in rapid succession, pouring into the doomed town a terrible shower of deadly missiles. The cannonading at this time was terrific, rendered a thousand-fold more deafening by the reverberations arising from the peculiar formation of the country. The deep bluffs overhanging the river giving back a hollow sound, like the rolling and crashing of thunder!

            Noon came. The regiment still lay idly in line. The pontoon had not yet been laid. At 3 p.m. it was the writer’s good fortune to accompany Lieutenant-Colonel Pleasants nearer the town, where opportunity was afforded for a better look at the condition of things. Adjutant McGinness kindly loaned his horse. Pausing in our route, at General Sumner’s headquarters, there was spread below the once beautiful town of Fredericksburg, now in flames, and from all appearances doomed to soon become a mass of ruins. Whilst gazing on the destruction, Colonel Frick and Major Anthony, of the 129th Pennsylvania, came up, and proposed going to the river’s edge, which was lined with Union batteries, in order to obtain a still better view. Down we galloped, and very soon we became interested spectators of a most glorious scene. We were directly over the spot where, all day long, the sappers and miners had been endeavoring to build a pontoon bridge. This was almost immediately beneath the bluff on which the Lacy House stood. The engineers were supported by the 7th Michigan Regiment, and just as we reached the scene, a part of this gallant regiment took two of the pontoon boats, and paddling them across the river, drove the rebels from the banks an sent them running through the town. This was done in the face of their sharpshooters. The Michigan boys were a determined set of men and not to be dismayed. Soon the entire regiment got across, using the boats for that purpose, and although the rebels rallied and far outnumbered them, the 7th stood to their work, beating the foe back in grand style. The artillery came to their aid and poured into the town a destructive fire of grape and canister. This was enough, and when we rode away from the river the brave Michigan men held the town. Having both banks of the river the bridges were completed speedily.

Whilst on this inspecting tour with Lieutenant-Colonel Pleasants, the regiment had received orders to return to camp, which it did. As preparations were under way to occupy the old quarters for the night, orders to ‘fall in’ were given. Back again it marched, expecting to cross the river. Another halt, and another order to return, took the regiment to the old camp, where it remained for the night, with orders to be ready to move in thirty minutes after notice. A sufficient number of troops had been sent across the river to hold the town during the night.