Our Country's Fiery Ordeal

A blog about the American Civil War, written and maintained by historian Daniel J. Vermilya, author of The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (History Press, 2014) and James Garfield and the Civil War (History Press, 2015)

Dedicated to my great-great-great grandfather, Private Ellwood Rodebaugh, Company D, 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, killed at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862.

"And may an Overuling Providence continue to cause good to come out of evil, justice to be done to all men where injustice has long prevailed, and finally, peace, quiet, and harmony to come out of this terrible confrontation and our country's fiery ordeal." -- Albert Champlin, 105th Ohio, Diary entry of June 19, 1864 (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas letter 150 years ago

In the early hours of Christmas morning in 1861, 150 years ago this Christmas day, a 23 year old Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Massachusetts sat down to write a letter to his mother…

Guard-Tent Second Massachusetts
Camp Hicks, near Frederick, MD, 3 ½ o’clock, A.M.
December 25, 1861
Dearest Mother,
It is Christmas morning, and I hope it will be a happy and merry one for you all, though, it looks so stormy for our poor country, one can hardly be in a merry humour.
I should be very sorry to have a war with England, even if we had a fine army, instead of a pack of politicians for officers, with their constituents for rank and file; and all the more so, of course, thinking that we shall have to take many “whoppings” before we are worth much. War isn’t declared yet, but doesn’t it look very much like it to every one at home? Here, we have made up our minds that we shall have much more soldiering to do than we expected when we started. I think we may as well consider ourselves settled for life, if we are to have a war with England! [1]

My Christmas Eve has been very much like many other eves during the last six months. On the whole, I have passed quite a pleasant night, though what our men call the “fore-part” of it was principally occupied in taking care of two drunken men (one of them with a broken pate), and in tying a sober one to a tree. After this was over, I did a good deal of reading, and, towards 1 o’clock, A.M., had some toast and hot coffee, —having previously invited my Sergeant to take a nap, so that I might not be troubled by hungry eyes, and made to feel mean, for these wasn’t enough to give any away. The drummer (who, with the Sergeant of the Guard, for some reason which I never discovered, sits and sleeps in the officers’ tent) kept groaning in his sleep; and I couldn’t help imagining that his groan always came in just as I took a bite of toast, of a large gulp of coffee. This diminished my enjoyment; and when he suddenly said, “Martha! There isn’t any breakfast”, I was certain that my proceedings were influencing his dreams!

It began to snow about midnight, and I suppose no one ever had a better chance of seeing “Santa Claus”; but, as I had my stockings on, he probably thought it not worth his while to come down to the guard-tent. I didn’t see any of the guard’s stockings pinned up outside their tent, and indeed it is contrary to army regulations for them to divest themselves fo any part of their clothing during the twenty-four hours.

Please ask Father to bring me a pocket-revolver, if he can get it, when he comes,—one small enough to carry in the breast-pocket. Also, tell the girls that Harry would be very much obliged if they would send him seventy or eighty pairs of mittens. I heard him say he would like to have some. The men were all glad to get them, though, as usual, they didn’t express their thanks. They get so many things that they are spoilt, and think they have a right to all these extras. Thirteen dollars per month, with board, lodging, and clothes, is more than nine men out of ten could make at home. Poor soldiers! Poor drumsticks! But this is not the sort of language for me to use, who am supposed to stand in the light of half mother to the men of my company. I should like about fifteen more pairs mittens; and some warm flannel shirts and drawers would be very useful, if there are any spare ones. “Uncle Sam’s” are miserable things. “Merry Christmas” and love to all, dear Mother. I suppose Sue is at Mrs. Schuyler’s [a family who lived on Staten Island]. I am so glad she is coming with you next month! Alex. And Annie will be here next week.
Your loving son, 

Robert Gould Shaw [2]  

Robert Gould Shaw, the young man who wrote a letter to his mother on Christmas 150 years ago, became the Colonel of the 54th Massachusetts in 1863, the first African American regiment in the Union armed forces during the Civil War. Shaw was killed on July 18, 1863, at the age of 25, leading the famed 54th Massachusetts in its heroic assault against Fort Wagner outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Over 600 men in the 54th Massachusetts made the valiant charge against Fort Wagner: 272, or 45 %, were either killed, wounded, or captured. After the battle, Confederate soldiers buried Shaw in a mass grave with his African American soldiers, seeing it as a sign of disrespect to bury a Union colonel with former slaves. Upon learning of his son’s burial, Shaw’s father replied that his son could have had “no holier place” for a gravesite. His father was quite proud of his son’s conduct and sacrifice, writing to William Lloyd Garrison, “We do thank God that our darling… was chosen, among so many equals, to be the martyred hero of the downtrodden of our land.” [3]

[1] The reference to a war with England concerns the famed Trent Affair, when the U.S.S. San Jacinto captured Confederate diplomats James Mason and John Slidell aboard the RMS Trent en route to England to pursue foreign intervention in the Civil War. The crisis led to great popular outcry against Britain among the Northern people, as well as pressures and fears over a war between Great Britain and the North. The tension was defused when President Lincoln released the two captured Confederate convoys in late December, 1861.
[2] Robert Gould Shaw, Blue Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, ed. Russell Duncan (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 168-9.
[3] Ibid., 54.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sunrise at Gettysburg

Yesterday I arrived back home in Ohio for the holidays and for the winter. While I won't be gone from Antietam for too long, being back home has reminded me just how fortunate I have been this past year to be able to work at such an amazing place. Before I went home, I made one last sojourn up to Gettysburg to take some sunrise photographs of the battlefield on a frigid, frosty morning. Because of the angle of the sun, I drove along Confederate Avenue on Seminary Ridge for the best views. No matter when or how often I visit, Gettysburg never fails to remind me of the magnitude of the events which took place there. While it is imperative to study, read, write, and tell the stories of our past, sometimes the best way to understand and appreciate our nation's history is to simply sit back and be a spectator on a cold December morning at Gettysburg.

Sunrise from Seminary Ridge

North Carolina Memorial

North Carolina Memorial

North Carolina Memorial

Statue of Robert E. Lee atop the Virginia Memorial

Virginia Memorial

Virginia Memorial

Virginia Memorial

Louisiana Memorial

Louisiana Memorial

Louisiana Memorial  

 Mississippi Memorial

Mississippi Memorial

 Mississippi Memorial

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book Review: Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War, by Tony Horwitz

A View of Harpers Ferry from Maryland Heights.

On December 2, 1859, John Brown, a 59 year old abolitionist, was hung at the gallows in Charlestown, Virginia. Just a few weeks prior, Brown and a band of abolitionists had led a daring and ill fated raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, attempting to seize the Federal arsenal there and secure weapons to arms slaves in a massive insurrection which would spread throughout the South. Such a daring plan, infused with Christian theology and a radical hatred of slavery, has made John Brown one of the most famous crusaders in American history. Brown lives on in American memory through songs, poems, portraits, sculptures, memorials, and books.

The engine house which became John Brown's fort during his Harpers Ferry Raid

The latest of these books is Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Horwitz’s Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War. Most will be familiar with Horwitz from his outstanding work on the presence of the Civil War in the modern South, Confederates in the Attack. In Midnight Rising, Horwitz has seemingly taken a new direction, moving from a journalistic view of the past to more traditional historical writing. While the focus of Horwitz’s book is different from his previous works, his writing remains quite similar. Just as Confederates in the Attack was a fascinating read, Midnight Rising keeps the reader consistently engaged from the first page to the last. While some historians view journalists writing history with skepticism, often times it takes one with the writing ability of a non-academic historian to write history in an interesting and deliverable format. Horwitz’s narration of Brown’s dramatic raid at Harpers Ferry places one in the midst of the action at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers in October 1859.

An obelisk marking the original site of John Brown's fort, looking toward its current location, less than 100 yards away.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Midnight Rising, I found Horwitz’s discussion of the differences between John Brown and Abraham Lincoln to be an unfortunate flaw to his otherwise fine work. In 1859, like many Republicans, Lincoln distanced himself from Brown, denouncing the Harpers Ferry Raid as poorly guided violence that did little to help the political, moral, and social problems facing the country. When discussing the two, Horwitz notes that Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry and Lincoln’s assassination served as “bookends to the great national bloodletting over slavery” (280). Horwitz’s characterization of the two men draws a stark contrast between their views: “in death, the reluctant emancipator was joined to the abolitionist he had distanced himself from six years before” (280).

This comparison is a small part of the book’s conclusion, yet it speaks to much larger questions about the two men and their achievements. While John Brown’s cause was no doubt admirable, his story serves as a lesson on how to affect political change. Taking up arms and starting an insurrection to achieve a political goal leads to bloodshed in the streets and further entrenching one’s opposition. Horwitz and many others are right; Brown’s actions sparked outrage in the South, contributing to the already smoldering fire that would soon erupt into Civil War. However, once that war began, the question of slavery was far from being answered. The many twists and turns along the way made abolition anything but a guaranteed result of the conflict. It took the statesmanship of Lincoln to turn emancipation from a possibility to a reality. Lincoln tried combating slavery through rhetoric, politics, and the law. He did not choose the path of violence and war. However, once the war had begun, Lincoln's statesmanship accomplished what the sword of John Brown could not. While Horwitz and many others may paint Lincoln as the “reluctant emancipator,” it was the prairie lawyer from Illinois, not the militant crusader of Kansas, who effectively brought about the end of slavery in America. Chipping away at Lincoln’s achievements to praise John Brown does little to help the reputation of either. Rather, it is best for us to let each stand on his own, understanding each man for what he accomplished. While Brown was an admirable crusader who failed to properly and prudently pursue his goals, Lincoln was a true statesman, using politics and rhetoric to deftly navigate the treacherous slavery issue during the nation’s “fiery trial.”

One aspect of Midnight Rising that I did like was Horwitz’s emphasis on Brown’s Christian beliefs. While the laws of the nation permitted slavery, John Brown firmly believed that such an egregious moral sin could not be tolerated under God’s law, and he was thus required to fight against it. Thus, Brown killed slave owners out of a sense of Divine retribution. Christianity’s crucial place in John Brown’s fight against slavery is representative of most 19th century social reformers. From abolitionists to the temperance movement, the 19th century was filled with individuals seeking to remake American society in God’s image, curing it of all its evils. Certainly, not all went to the lengths of John Brown to accomplish their goals. One should also note that while many Northern abolitionists used the Bible in their fight against slavery, just as many Southern slave owners claimed that God was on their side of the matter. These differing views regarding God’s judgment on slavery lay at the heart of the burgeoning conflict between the North and the South.

Overall, Midnight Rising is quite good, and certainly worth reading. It is a well written narrative of a thrilling event in our nation’s history. Horwitz brings John Brown to life, taking the reader on a journey through Brown’s long crusade against slavery, finally and firmly placing him in the middle of Harpers Ferry during the raid of October 16, 1859. What occurred on that fateful October night was far more than a band of crusaders trying to capture weapons; it represented the nation beginning to tear itself apart. The violence that occurred in the streets of Harpers Ferry soon spilled out across the nation. Without understanding John Brown’s story in all of its tragedy, meaning, and detail, it is difficult to truly understand the road to Civil War.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Website for Antietam Battlefield Guides

The Antietam Battlefield Guide Association has a new website (here is the link) to advertise the guide program and its many activities in advance of Antietam's 150th next year. The new site is designed as a blog to make it more interactive. It will be updated with information and posts about different tours and programs that will be offered. The site also features profiles of each Antietam guide, as well as links to guide blogs and other history links. If you are interested in learning more about the Antietam Battlefield Guides, please check out the new site.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Antietam National Battlefield's 2011 Memorial Illumination

Every year, on the first Saturday of December, Antietam hosts a very special event to honor the memory of all those from both sides who fell as casualties in battle that awful September day many years ago. The park uses scores of volunteers to set out 23,110 candles, one for each man killed, wounded, and missing at the Battle of Antietam. As the sun sets on the battlefield, the glow of the candles breaks through the darkness, reminding visitors, volunteers, and rangers alike of the true cost of Antietam.

This year's illumination was my first, and I split my time between helping to park volunteer's cars and aiding visitors who had acquired special use permits to photograph the battlefield from the visitor center. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this was one of the coolest, most awe inspiring experiences I have had in my young park service career. Visitors lined up in their cars for miles and miles to see the event. Last night, the line of cars at one point stretched over five miles long, causing waiting times of two to three hours. The drive through the event could take up to an hour itself. That being said, every visitor who I spoke to today said it was completely worth it. There really isn't any way to describe the event other than seeing it for yourself.

I wanted to share with you just a few photographs that I took to try to capture the spirit of last night's event. For a few of these, I want to thank park volunteer and good friend Dave Maher, who maintains a great Civil War blog titled Pennsylvania's Emergency Men.

For many of us, Antietam is just a statistic. It is known as America's bloodiest day. 23,110 men were killed, wounded, or missing during a single day of combat. Yet, Antietam is much more than just a number. When we view it as 23,110 candles set before us in the night, the human cost of September 17, 1862 becomes painfully clear. Each candle represents a life that was either snuffed out or dramatically altered by what occurred at Antietam. Each candle represents a person. When we speak of Antietam, we aren't speaking of maps, war games, or hypothetical situations. We are speaking of people. Real people. People with families. People like Elwood Rodebaugh, who died upon the fields of Antietam, leaving his wife a widow and his two young children without a father. Each candle that was lit for Antietam's Memorial Illumination reminds us of just how high the cost of freedom truly is.

 (Courtesy of Dave Maher)

 (Courtesy of Dave Maher)

(Courtesy of Dave Maher)

Private Elwood Rodebaugh, Company D, 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Killed in Action at the Battle of Antietam

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lincoln's December 3, 1861 Message to Congress: "The struggle of today is not altogether for today..."

On this date in 1861, 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln delivered his first annual message to Congress. Lincoln's message was fulfilling the constitutional requirement that the President update Congress on the state of the nation annually. We know this today as the State of the Union address. For many years, from Thomas Jefferson to Woodrow Wilson, presidents simply submitted their address in written form. There were no cameras, no exaggerated applause lines, and no pontificating for the polls.

Lincoln's December 3, 1861 message lacks the fame of his other presidential papers, yet there were still significant themes which he discussed, including foreign affairs with Britain, preventing further secession, prospects of compensated emancipation and colonization, as well as the retirement of Winfield Scott and the appointment of George McClellan to the post of General-in-Chief. While you can read the entire address here, I have excerpted the last few paragraphs below, as I feel they speak to some of the essential truths of Lincoln's political philosophy. Here, Lincoln is speaking of the relationship between labor and capital, as well as the opportunities offered for Americans by a united government protecting their constitutional liberties. Lincoln believed strongly in the possibility of advancement and social mobility in America. After all, Lincoln was a man born in a log cabin, who taught himself how to read and write, who worked his way through numerous jobs and hardships, became a self taught lawyer, politician, political leader, and President of the United States. Lincoln's life is the embodiment of that for which he fought; the rights and freedom of all men to become a part of the great American experiment in self-government.

It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not exclusively, a war upon the first principle of popular government——the rights of the people. Conclusive evidence of this is found in the most grave and maturely considered public documents, as well as in the general tone of the insurgents. In those documents we find the abridgment of the existing right of suffrage and the denial to the people of all right to participate in the selection of public officers except the legislative boldly advocated, with labored arguments to prove that large control of the people in government is the source of all political evil. Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the people.

In my present position I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism.

It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class——neither work for others nor have others working for them. In most of the Southern States a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor masters, while in the Northern a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men, with their families——wives, sons, and daughters——work for themselves on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own labor with capital; that is, they labor with their own hands and also buy or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class.

Again, as has already been said, there is not of necessity any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States a few years back in their lives were hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous system which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress and improvement of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which if surrendered will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost.

From the first taking of our national census to the last are seventy years, and we find our population at the end of the period eight times as great as it was at the beginning. The increase of those other things which men deem desirable has been even greater. We thus have at one view what the popular principle, applied to Government through the machinery, of the States and the Union, has produced in a given time, and also what if firmly maintained it promises for the future. There are already among us those who if the Union be preserved will live to see it contain 250,000,000.

The struggle of today is not altogether for today; it is for a vast future also. With a reliance on Providence all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us.

Abraham Lincoln
 December 3, 1861

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 3rd day of October, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
Abraham Lincoln

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Fall of William Tecumseh Sherman

150 years ago, on November 21, 1861, William Tecumseh Sherman was a man consumed by depression and anxiety. He wrote two letters that day, one to his friend General Robert Anderson, and the other to his brother, Senator John Sherman. Earlier in the month, on November 9, Sherman had been relieved of his command in the state of Kentucky. After weeks of worrying and sending frantic notices to Washington regarding the rebel menace and the threat of Kentucky falling to Confederate forces, Sherman’s superiors, Henry Halleck, Lorenzo Thomas, and George McClellan, finally had enough of his complaints. Many thought Sherman had indeed gone insane. Sherman was a man predicting that victory would take a force of hundreds of thousands of men fighting against determined Confederates in equal or greater numbers. The telegrams and letters which Sherman sent during October and early November of 1861 portray a man who believed his command and his own life were threatened by the growing Confederate threat and a lack of adequate forces to stop it. Many throughout the country thought that surely such notions of a long and protracted conflict requiring so many men must be either off base or insane.

In Sherman's letters, his inner battles and frustrations poured out to his readers. To Robert Anderson, he apprised his former commander of the situation in Kentucky and his many concerns regarding the state, as well as his own feelings of inadequacy to the task at hand:

We have now a pretty large force in Kentucky, but the Regiments are hastily assembled and poorly disciplined, and being still in a manner dependant on the Railroad they are scattered. My deep earnest conviction from the secession feeling wherever I went, and from my knowledge of the forces collected round about Kentucky I made my declaration that  we should need in this Department a very large force, and the very gingerly way in which they came induced me to think the War Department did not share with me these fears and apprehensions at not only the loss of Kentucky, but the forces sent here—I asked that Halleck or any one else be sent here, and Buell has been here a week, in command and I am ordered to Saint Louis.

I confess I never have seen daylight in the midst of the troubles that now envelope us. I am therefore disqualified to lead, and must follow—you know with what reluctance I entered on my command and have always felt that Somehow or other I would be disgraced by it.

In the letter which he wrote to his brother John, Sherman again elucidated his fears and worries regarding not only Kentucky, but the perilous state in which the nation rested:

                Your letter was received yesterday. I know that others than yourself think I take a gloomy view of affairs without cause. I hope to God tis so. All I know is the fact that all over Kentucky the People are allied by birth interest and preference to the South…
                One soldier less than two hundred thousand will be imperiled the moment the Confederates choose… I suppose I have been morose and cross—and could I now hide myself in some obscure corner I would so, for my conviction is that our Government is destroyed, and that no human power can restore it—They have sent me here old Condemned European muskets, and have sent no arms for Cavalry, and when I bought pistols wherewith to arm some scouts, the accounts have been disallowed at Washington because I had not procured authority beforehand. Troops came from Wisconsin and Minnesota without arms, and receive such as we have here for the first time, and I cannot but look upon it as absolutely sacrificing them. I see no hope for them. In their present raw and undisciplined condition they are helpless, and some terrible disaster is inevitable—Buell is however imbued with the same spirit that prevails in Washington that there are plenty of Union people, South, in Tennessee and Kentucky, and does not share with me in my fear of the People among whom we live.

                In closing, Sherman proclaims that as long as the attitude in Washington went unchanged, he would not desire or seek a command for himself. Thus, following his dismissal from Kentucky, he had only to move on to his next post. “For myself I will blindly obey my orders and report to General Halleck in Missouri—but till I can see daylight ahead I will never allow myself to be in command.”

While Sherman's next post was in Missouri with General Henry Halleck, his fears and worries followed him from Kentucky. Rumors began to spread that the general had gone insane. Some even feared he would take his own life; to that end, Sherman’s wife, Ellen Ewing Sherman, was sent to comfort and rescue her beleaguered and troubled husband. Sherman later told his wife that during this stretch of time he had thoughts of suicide. When in Missouri in late November, Halleck had Dr. J.B. Wright, the medical director for his department, examine Sherman to discover what was troubling him. Wright’s analysis suggested that Sherman was so riddled by nerves “that he was unfit for command” (Marszalek, Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order, 164). Because of such conclusions, as well as Sherman’s persistent worrying regarding an imminent Confederate attack all along the Union positions in the West, he was given a 20 day leave. Thus, Brigadier General William Tecumseh Sherman was sent home to Lancaster, Ohio, with his wife. Today, Sherman’s name evokes images of Atlanta in flames, a long column of Union troops snaking its way through Georgia, and a victorious march down the streets of Washington for the Grand Review of May, 1865. However, in November of 1861, all of that was but an impossible dream, as William Tecumseh Sherman had fallen from grace due to uncertainty, nerves, and fear. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review: Destiny of the Republic

As a native of Ohio, I have always found James A. Garfield, Civil War general and 20th president of the United States, an extremely intriguing individual. To that end, I recently read a fascinating new book about this amazing American. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President, written by Candice Millard, is a riveting new work detailing the dramatic story of the election, assassination, and death of James Garfield. Born into abject poverty, Garfield rose from his humble beginnings to become one of the most remarkable men ever to hold the highest office in the land. With a keen intellect, an unsatiable appetite for books and knowledge, and a drive and passion equal to the greatest figures in history, Garfield was truly a self-made man. His journey from canal boy to the presidency took him through many places. His posts along the way included becoming a young professor, the president of a university, Lt. Colonel of the 42nd Ohio, a Union general in the Civil War, and a United States Congressman. As an ardent Christian and firm abolitionist, Garfield was at the forefront of the Republican party when it came to taking a progressive stance on race relations and rights for freedpeople in the reconstructed South. In 1880, his eloquence and wisdom, evident in his nomination speech for John Sherman, elevated him to his party's nomination for the presidency, a post he did not want nor seek. Once elected, Garfield brought his faith and determination with him to the White House, hoping to clean up a corrupt and misguided government.

All that came to an abrupt end soon after taking office. On July 2, 1881, a mentally disturbed office seeker named Charles Guiteau, acting entirely on his own, shot Garfield in the back at the Baltimore and Potomac train station in Washington. Guiteau had expected praise and acclaim for his brave act of "removing" the president for the good of the country. Instead, he was greeted with righteous indignation, an anger which brought the country together in prayer for the life of their president. With fumbling doctors more concerned about their egos and credentials than germ theory, Garfield was repeatedly infected with germs through unsanitary exams and surgeries. Despite the best creative efforts of Alexander Graham Bell to find the bullet using cutting edge metal detecting inventions, the infections that ravaged Garfield's body proved too much to bear. He struggled for several months, dying on September 19, 1881.

I highly recommend Candice Millard's work, as it is an excellent read. Her narrative is engaging and tells the remarkable story of a remarkable man who was gunned down by a cowardly and insane assassin. While Garfield languishes in relative historical obscurity, his is a story which should be told. His short presidency may serve as simply a footnote or piece of trivia, but it tells us far more about our past and who we are as Americans. America is a nation which allowed a poor boy to rise to the highest office in the land, entirely on his own strengths of learning and determination. Millard emphasizes the virtue of Garfield's character, assuming an office he did not seek, simply for the good of the country. She places Garfield, his presidency, and his assassination firmly in the context of late 19th century American politics, portraying him as a promising bright light for the country that was tragically snuffed out far too soon. For those looking for a great read about a remarkable man and a tragic piece of nearly forgotten American history, Candice Millard's Destiny of the Republic is an excellent choice.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord"

150 years ago this morning, in the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C., Julia Ward Howe, a 42 year old poet and abolitionist, awoke from her sleep with a spark of inspiration. Visiting Washington with her husband, physician and former John Brown supporter Samuel Gridley Howe, Julia Ward Howe had spent the previous days visiting troop encampments, seeing soldiers on review, and even visiting the president. As one who was keenly aware of the deeper causes and meanings behind the conflict, Howe was deeply moved by all that she saw. As she arose that morning, while the sky outside was still dark, she began to write down lines of poetry. Howe later recalled that morning, as well as the events leading up to it:

I distinctly remember that a feeling of discouragement came over me as I drew near the city of Washington at the time already mentioned. I thought of the women of my acquaintance whose sons or husbands were fighting our great battle; the women themselves serving in the hospitals, or busying themselves with the work of the Sanitary Commission. My husband, as already said, was beyond the age of military service, my eldest son but a stripling; my youngest was a child of not more than two years. I could not leave my nursery to follow the march of our armies, neither had I the practical deftness which the preparing and packing of sanitary stores demanded. Something seemed to say to me, “You would be glad to serve, but you cannot help any one; you have nothing to give, and there is nothing for you to do.” Yet, because of my sincere desire, a word was given me to say, which did strengthen the hearts of those who fought in the field and of those who languished in the prison.
We were invited, one day, to attend a review of troops at some distance from the town. While we were engaged in watching the maneuvers, a sudden movement of the enemy necessitated immediate action. The review was discontinued, and we saw a detatchment of soldiers gallop to the assistance of a small body of our men who were in imminent danger of being surrounded and cut off from retreat. The regiments remaining on the field were ordered to march to their cantonments. We returned to the city very slowly, of necessity, for the troops nearly filled the road. My dear minister was in the carriage with me, as were several other friends. To beguile the rather tedious drive, we sang from time to time snatches of the army songs so popular at that time, concluding, I think, with
“John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the ground;His soul is marching on.”

The soldiers seemed to like this, and answered back, “Good for you!” Mr. Clarke said, “Mrs. Howe, why do you not write some good words for that stirring tune?” I replied that I had often wished to do this, but had not as yet found in my mind any leading toward it.
I went to bed that night as usual, and slept, according to my wont, quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twighlight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, “I must get up and write these verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them.” So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed, and found in the dimness an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper. I had learned to do this when, on previous occasions, attacks of versification had visited me in the night, and I feared o thav erecourse to a light lest I should wake the baby, who slept near me. I was always obliged to decipher my scrawl before another night should intervene, as it was only legible while the matter was fresh in my mind. At this time, having completed my writing, I returned to bed and fell asleep, saying to myself, “I like this better than most things that I have written.”
The poem, which was soon after published in the “Atlantic Monthly”, was somewhat praised on its appearance, but the vicissitudes of the war so engrossed public attention that small heed was taken of literary matters. I knew, and was content to know, that the poem soon found its way to the camps, as I heard from time to time of its being sung in chorus by the soldiers. [Julia Ward Howe, Reminiscences (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1899), 274-276].

The poem which Julia Ward Howe wrote that November morning in 1861 went on to become perhaps the most well known and definitive piece of music to emerge from the American Civil War. It spoke to the war's underlying cause of slavery, as well as the overriding belief by millions of Americans that the war was not theirs alone, but God's as well. With Howe's words, Union soldiers became an God's Army, marching against sin and slavery. Every soldier who sacrificed his life in the struggle was undertaking an act of Christ-like sacrifice for his nation and for over 4 millions slaves. The war was a form of God's justice being enacted on the country for national sins. Howe's lyrics permeated the Union and imbued a deeper meaning and spirit to the fight which had forever altered the nation. What Howe wrote that morning became the Battle Hymn of the Republic...

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

Friday, November 11, 2011

American Veterans


The above picture, taken on a chilly November afternoon, shows the statue of Color Sergeant George Simpson atop the 125th Pennsylvania monument at Antietam, standing guard over the Antietam battlefield nearly 150 years after that terrible September day. It is a fitting reminder of the countless men and women who have bravely stood guard over this nation and American liberty for over 235 years. Let us honor and remember all our veterans not only today, but each and every day. Perhaps the words of one of Antietam's veterans put it best:

“In the private soldier I seem to see typified the union of purpose, the union of valor, and the union of probity, which gave to this war the benediction of God, and, to our own cause, a glorious victory. Among all nations and throughout all time the soldier, who endures the throes of warfare for the sake of his home and his conceptions of liberty and justice, should merit universal esteem.”
-Captain John Stevenson, veteran of the 100th Pennsylvania, speaking at the dedication for the 100th Pennsylvania Monument at Antietam, September 17, 1904

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Civil War 150: An Essential To-Do List, by the Civil War Trust

I just recently came across a copy of a new book for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. It is titled, The Civil War 150: An Essential To-Do List for the 150th Anniversary, and was put together and published by the folks at the Civil War Trust.

The Civil War Trust is an outstanding organization that has done incredible work preserving battlefields and educating Americans about our nation's fratricidal conflict. With their new guide for the 150th, the Civil War Trust has an interesting, engaging, and worthwhile book for both the casual observer and the major Civil War buff.

The book contains 150 suggested things to do, books to read, movies to watch, and places to visit to properly commemorate the sesquicentennial of the war. For the list of things to do, watch, and read, items include reading a Bruce Catton book, watching the movie Glory, taking in a reenactment, and getting a kid interested in Civil War history. The list of sites to see is divided into several geographic categories, and includes famous sites such as Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, and Antietam. The list also includes off the beaten path places as well, such as the National Museum of Civil War medicine in Frederick, MD, the Shepherdstown ford where Lee's army recrossed the Potomac after Antietam, and the gaps of South Mountain. The list also pays equal attention to non battle sites, such as famous monuments, national historic sites and buildings, as well as places such as the National Portrait Gallery. To top it all off, each item has its own page, with details on the activity or place and why it is essential for properly commemorating the 150th anniversary of the war.

Now, I know that some folks might see this and think, "Oh, I don't need a silly book to tell me what Civil War sites I should see, I know them all!" Well, even if you are a reincarnated version of Robert E. Lee himself, I think you might still be able to find this little guide an interesting addition to your collection. It includes many diverse items and sights and touches on the many different ways in which the Civil War is a fascinating topic for Americans in the 21st century (one suggestion is to use your smartphone for a tour at a Civil War site, as the Civil War Trust is developing battlefield tour apps for many important battlefields). Even if you have already held a minnie ball in your hand, seen the movie Glory, and walked across the Burnside Bridge at Antietam, the book can still be a fun and interesting addition to your Civil War 150th commemorations. To top it all off, it is affordable and is produced by some great people at a great organization.

For the casual observer and major buff alike, the Civil War Trust's 150th "To-Do" List guide is a nice addtional to your plans for commemorating Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

"I think I die in victory": Lt. Col. Wilder Dwight at Antietam

I came across this page on the Massachusetts Historical Society website. It tells the story of Lt. Col. Wilder Dwight of the 2nd Massachusetts at Antietam through primary documents and pictures. If you are not familiar with Lt. Col. Dwight's story, it is one of the more heart wrenching stories of the battle.

Dwight's regiment, the 2nd Massachusetts, began their day with the rest of the 12th corps, in reserve in the East Woods and along the Smoketown Road, listening to the sounds of war bellowing over the landscape as Joseph Hooker's 1st Corps was bloodied and battered in the Cornfield. That morning, the 29 year old Dwight had begun writing a letter to his mother, informing her of the developing battle. However, with the onset of the 12th corps attack, Dwight was forced to leave his letter to his mother behind.

The deployment of the 12th Corps at Antietam is a highly confusing matter, due in large part to the number of green regiments in the corps, as well as the mortal wounding of 12th Corps commander Joseph Mansfield soon after he arrived on the field. Lt. Col. Dwight and the 2nd Massachusetts were in George Gordon's brigade of Alpheus Williams's division. Between 8 and 8:40 AM, the 2nd Massachusetts was on the northern edge of the cornfield, with its flank bordering the Hagerstown turnpike. By 9:30, with Sedgwick's advance into the West Woods, the 2nd Massachusetts, along with the rest of Gordon's Brigade, had been repositioned and then occupied the East Woods, facing due west toward the Confederate lines and the West Woods. With the massive Confederate counter attack in the West Woods and the route of Sedgwick's division, the 2nd Massachusetts and the 13th New Jersey, both 12th Corps regiments in Gordon's brigade, advanced forward to the Hagerstown turnpike in an attempt to stem the losses of Sedgwick's men, as well as to stop the Confederate assault in the West Woods. It was here, along the Hagerstown Turnpike, where Dwight met his fate that day. As the 2nd Massachusetts attempted to stop the advancing Confederates emerging from the West Woods, they took very heavy casualties. Among those casualties was Lt. Col. Wilder Dwight.

As Dwight lay dying on the field, his thoughts drifted home and to his family. Despite his close proximity to Confederate forces, as well as his severe wounds, Dwight picked up the letter he had begun that morning and continued to write his mother (you can see the letter at the link above, complete with Dwight's blood stains still on the paper). You can find scans of the letter itself at the link to the Massachusetts Historical Society webpage. The text of the letter is as follows:

Near Sharpsburg. Sept. 17th 1862.
On the field

Dear Mother,

It is a misty moisty morning. We are engaging the enemy and are drawn up in support of Hooker who is now banging away most briskly. I write in the saddle to send you my love and to say that I am very well so far --

Dearest mother, I am wounded so as to be helpless. Good bye if so it must be I think I die in victory. God defend our country. I trust in God and love you all to the last.

Dearest love to father and all my dear brothers. Our troops have left the part of the field where I lay-

Mother, yrs

All is well with those that have faith

 Lt. Col. Wilder Dwight died on September 19, 1862, from the wounds he received at the Battle of Antietam.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Rise of George B. McClellan: "Whatever it may be I will try to do my duty to the army and to the country"

On October 30, 1861, George McClellan was on the verge of the greatest accomplishment of his life. As tides of unease were growing in the north, major changes were in the works for the Union war effort. Winfield Scott, who only trailed Washington on the list of the greatest American generals at that time, was advanced in years and poor in health. Scott's inability to take command in the field significantly hampered his abilities as general-in-chief of the Union forces. While Scott's career was more decorated and remarkable than any other officer of the time, north or south, it was drawing to a quick end. And who would it be to replace such a man? None other than the "Young Napoleon", a man whose youth and vigor were the perfect solution to Scott's age and ailments.

The contrasts between these two men ran deeper than age and health. In August, 1861, McClellan, the rising star of the Union armies, had proposed a grandiose plan to Lincoln, outlining a strategy encompassing all the theaters of the war. The crux of the plan rested on McClellan moving an army of over 270,000 men directly against Richmond, taking the Confederate capital by sheer numerical force. Other aspects of the plan involved Union forces moving down the Mississippi River, moving from Kansas into Texas, and liberating Eastern Tennessee and driving to take Memphis. Such a plan was bold, no doubt, but it also stepped on the toes of the current general-in-chief, Winfield Scott. Scott had already been overruled by Lincoln on two major events: the resupplying of Fort Sumter and the Union advance toward Manassas (both of which Scott had opposed). Further inflaming the situation were telegrams which McClellan sent to Lincoln greatly exaggerating Confederate troop strengths in Virginia. McClellan's estimates of troops also contributed to fears over a Confederate invasion of Maryland in September of 1861 (one year exactly before the Antietam Campaign). After several months of political fighting and bickering over policy and the strength of the enemy, in late October, it appeared as though McClellan would be elevated to overall command of Union forces. On October 19, McClellan said as much in a letter to his wife: "I seems to be pretty well settled that I will be Commander in Chief within a week. General Scott proposed to retire in favor of Halleck (General Henry Halleck, who became general-in-chief the following year). The President and cabinet have determined to accept his retirement, but not in favor of Halleck."1.

Just a few days later, on October 30, McClellan again described his views on the matter in a letter to his wife. He went on at some length concerning his feelings about his role in the conflict, speaking of God's intentions for him during the war. He displays semblances of humility in the letter, seemingly odd from a man who so many view only as a narcissist:

… You may have heard from the papers etc. of the small row that is going on just now between General Scott and myself—in which the vox populi is coming out strongly on my side. The affair had got among the soldiers, and I hear that officers and men all declare that they will fight under no one but “Our George,” as the scamps have taken it into their heads to call me. I ought to take good care of these men, for I believe they love me from the bottom of their hearts. I can see it in their faces when I pass among them. I presume the Scott war will culminate this week—and as it is now very clear that the people will not permit me to be passed over it seems easy to predict the result.
Whatever it may be I will try to do my duty to the army and to the country—with God’s help and a single eye to the right I hope that I may succeed. I appreciate all the difficulties in my path—the impatience of the people, the venality and bad faith of the politicians, the gross neglect that has occurred in obtaining arms, clothing, etc.—and also I feel in my innermost soul how small is my ability in comparison with the gigantic dimension of the task, and that, even if I had the greatest intellect that was ever given to man, the result remains in the hands of God. I do not feel that I am an instrument worthy of the great task, but I do feel that I did not seek it—it was thrust upon me. I was called to it, my previous life seems to have been unwittingly directed to this great end, and I know that God can accomplish the greatest results with the weakest instruments—therein lies my hope. I feel too that, much as we live in the North have erred, the rebels have been far worse than we—they seem to have deserted from the great cardinal virtue.2

The very next day, on October 31, 1861, Winfield Scott retired from the army. On November 1, Abraham Lincoln elevated George Brinton McClellan to commander of all Union armies. Upon entering his new role as General-in-Chief, McClellan famously remarked, "I can do it all." That same day, in General Order 19, General-in-Chief McClellan, McClellan made note of the awesome responsibility which now fell upon his shoulders: "In the midst of the difficulties which encompass and divide the nation, hesitation and self distrust may well accompany the assumption of so vast a responsibility; but confiding as I do that Providence will favor ours as the just cause, I cannot doubt that success will crown our efforts and sacrifices."3 McClellan certainly had large shoes to fill, yet his confidence in his abilities, as well as his trust in God, gave him cause to believe that only success could result from his elevation to command. On November 2, 1861, McClellan wrote to his wife to tell her of the new duties which he had recently assumed, as well as the frenetic pace at which he had been working to begin his tenure as General-in-Chief:
I have been at work with scarcely one minute's rest ever since I arose yesterday morning--nearly 18 hours. I find the "Army" just about as much disorganized as was the Army of the Potomac when I assumed command--everything at sixes and sevens--no system, no order--perfect chaos. I can and will reduce it to order--I will soon have it working smoothly.4

Thus, the Union war effort had received new life and direction under its new commander, George B. McClellan. What lay in store for McClellan and his army, no one knew; yet, 150 years ago, hope was high in Washington and throughout the North that the "Young Napoleon" would deliver victories befitting his promising moniker.

1. James McPherson, Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief (New York: Penguin Press, 2008), 51.
2.  Stephen Sears, Ed., The Civil War Papers of George B. McClellan: Selected Correspondence, 1860-1865 (New York: Da Capo Press, 1989), 112-113.
3. Ibid., 122
4. Ibid., 123

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Landscape Turned White: October Snow at Antietam

If you have not heard, we have had a bit of snow as of late at Antietam. While it won't last for long, as more seasonal temperatures are in store for us, it was quite a day on Saturday. We lost power at the Visitor Center and had to close early, as the landscape outside was transformed from a fall battlefield to a winter battlefield. I had the chance this morning to take some early morning photographs of Antietam's snowy landscape. I have never seen the battlefield more beautiful and serene. I hope you enjoy...

 The Pry House

 "Old Simon"

Piper Orchard and Observation Tower

 14th Connecticut Monument

 New York State Monument and Visitor Center

 Dunker Church, surrounded by frozen fall colors

 Maryland Monument

 The frozen 124th Pennsylvania Monument

 Indiana Monument with a now snow covered cornfield just behind it

 14th Brooklyn Monument

Texas Monument

 Mumma Farm with a distant Observation Tower

 132nd Pennsylvania Monument

 A frozen wayside pannel

 132nd Pennsylvania Monument, Observation Tower, and a frozen fence

While the sun has come out again and the snow has begun melting, it is obvious that colder weather is just around the corner. Hopefully, many more beautiful sights and pictures are to come at Antietam. Seeing the battlefield adorned in a frozen layer of white was truly a remarkable sight this morning

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

George McClellan's thoughts on the Battle of Ball's Bluff

Writing to his wife on October 25, 1861, George McClellan offered some fascinating thoughts on the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, fought just a few days prior on October 21. While McClellan had played some role in the battle, considering he had authorized Brigadier General Charles Stone to commence a small demonstration against Confederate troops near Leesburg, the battle itself was an entirely different matter. In searching for the culprit responsible for the debacle, McClellan looked past Stone when determining who was at fault. While Stone was excoriated by scores of politicians, McClellan instead turned his blame to the late Baker, a close personal friend of Lincoln’s. McClellan’s letter shows both a human side to the man, as well as an important opinion on what exactly went wrong at Ball’s Bluff.

George Brinton McClellan to his wife, Mary Ellen McClellan

October 25, 1861

…How weary I am of all this business—case after case—blunder after blunder—trick upon trick—I am well nigh tired of the world, and were it not for you would be fully so.

That affair of Leesburg on Monday last was a terrible butchery—the men fought nobly, but were penned up by a vastly superior force in a place where they had no retreat. The whole thing took place some 40 miles from here without my orders or knowledge—it was entirely unauthorized by me and I am in no manner responsible for it.

The man directly to blame for the affair was Col. Baker who was killed—he was in command, disregarded entirely the instructions he had received from Stone, and violated all military rules and precautions. Instead of meeting the enemy with double their force and a good ferry behind him, he was outnumbered three to one, and had no means of retreat. Cogswell (Colonel Milton Cogswell, 42nd New York) is a prisoner—he behaved very handsomely. Raymond Lee (Colonel Raymond Lee, 20th Massachusetts) is also taken. We lost 79 killed, 141 wounded, and probably 400 wounded and prisoners—stragglers are constantly coming in however, so that the number of missing is gradually being decreased and may not go beyond 300 (McClellan’s casualty figures were off by quite a bit: 49 killed, 158 wounded, 714 missing). I found things in great confusion when I arrived there—General Banks having assumed command and having done nothing. In a very short time order and confidence were restored. During the night I withdrew everything and everybody to this side of the river—which I truth they never should have left….