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July 2014

This week in the Civil War for July 13, 1864

The Boston Evening Transcript of Boston, Massachusetts reported July 15, 1864, on the death of a beloved Massachusetts officer fighting for the Union in Petersburg, Virginia, when it came under siege 150 years ago in the Civil War. The dispatch said Col. P.S. Davis was "mortally wounded in the trenches near Petersburg."

War dispatches gave an account of his death: "One of the rebel shell entered his tent on Monday, and after rolling under the chair in which he was quietly seated, reading a newspaper, exploded and wounded him in so shocking a manner, that he expired within an hour." Just 40 years old, Davis left behind a wife and three children in Massachusetts, along with a business selling books and stationery in Boston. The Boston paper reported that under Davis' command, his regiment had flourished and "was frequently mistaken for regulars, from their admirable bearing and discipline." It added Davis was deeply missed by many: "Beloved in all the walks of private life, his public career as an officer of the union army has been honorable to himself and the State which claimed him as one of its most patriotic citizens."

From The Associated Press and Yahoo News

Texas Jack Vermillion

Texas Jack Vermillion-Civil War Enlistment Photo- Well known for his participation with Wyatt Earp in the Earp Vendetta Ride after the Clantons had killed Morgan Earp in 1882.

He was a Confederate civil war veteran and fought under the command of General J.E.B Stuart 

Jack eventually wound up in Kansas in the late 1870s. He went to Tombstone, Arizona, from Dodge City, Kansas, where he possibly previously knew the Earps and also perhaps Doc Holiday He was listed by Virgil as special policeman (i.e., deputy city policeman) June 22, 1881. This is the day of the large Tombstone fire of 1881, with which Virgil had to cope as acting city marshal; the date suggests that Jack is one of the extra men Virgil hired to help cope with looting, during and after the disaster.

The origin of Texas Jack, Vermillion’s nickname, is unknown, but he is first listed by this moniker on a wanted poster, for shooting a man during an argument at cards. When asked about why he was called Texas Jack, he replied “Because I’m from Virginia.”

Vermillion did not accompany Virgil Earp as a member of the protective squad which escorted him to Tucson, March 20, 1882. Instead, Vermillion joined the vendetta posse March 21, 1882 in Tombstone, a day after the killing of Frank Stilwell in Tucson, thus Vermillion was not one of the 5 men indicted for Stilwell’s killing. Vermillion may have participated in the Earp posse more as friend of Holliday, who was also a Methodist and fellow southerner. Note that Holliday’s father had also served as a Confederate soldier. 

He returned to Virginia 1890. Being a Virginian it is believed he got the nickname Texas Jack because he preferred to ride horses from Texas.

From: The Civil War Parlor on Tumblr

Union soldier exhumed in 1864

Samuel Weaver (holding open book at right) supervising African American laborers in the exhumation of the grave of a presumably Union soldier who died in Hanover, Pennsylvania, 1864. The soldier’s remains were to be relocated to Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg.



Roasted rats

Confederate soldiers were disparate for food at times. This recipe is from Phoebe Yates Pember, superintendent of one of the wings of Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.

It is in her book, "A Southern Woman's Story", published 1879, page. 104.

.Roasted Rat

"The rat must be skinned, cleaned, his head cut off and his body laid upon a square board, the legs stretched to their full extent and secured upon it with small tacks, then baste with bacon fat and roast before a good fire quickly like canvasback ducks."

From Civil War Talk

This week in the Civil War for July 6, 1864

Some 15,000 Confederate troops under the command of Jubal Early surged northward into Maryland in the summer of 1864, reaching the outskirts of Frederick, Md., hoping to slide around toward the lightly defended nation's capital. The Confedreate surge northward came amid a bid by Robert E. Lee to pressure Washington, D.C., even as the Union was plunging deep into Virginia. But Northern railroad agents, detecting the Confederate incursion, quickly alerted federal authorities. By July 9, 1864, the rival sides were battling each other fiercely along the Monocacy River in Maryland, the Union throwing some 5,800 fighters into the fray.

It would be the final time the Confederates took the battle to the North. "INVASION!!" a headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer blared. "EXCITING NEWS FROM WASHINGTON. THE NATIONAL CAPITAL IN DANGER." Fighting raged for hours that day, but the Union pressure on the Confederates gave the Union time to reinforce defenses around the nation's capital. The fight subsequently became known as the "Battle That Saved Washington." And an Associated Press, in a dispatch July 12, 1864, confirmed the Confederates had been driven out of Frederick, Maryland. One smaller outcome, AP noted, Frederick residents complained hungry rebel foraging parties had rounded up their livestock and horses. "At times the main streets of Frederic were literally filled with horses and cattle, all of which were driven down to the fords and sent across into Virginia," AP noted.

From The Associated Press and Yahoo News

Widow Of Civil War General Philip Sheridan

Widow Of Civil War General Philip Sheridan

The wife of Lieutenant General Philip Sheridan and the daughter ofBrigadier General Daniel H. Rucker (also buried at Arlington). She was born in 1856 at Fort Union, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) and married Sheridan in Chicago on June 3, 1875. She is buried in Section 2 with her husband.

Chicago Daily News, Inc., photographer. CREATED/PUBLISHED
[1924 July 16?]

Half-length portrait of Mrs. Philip Sheridan, widow of Civil War General Philip Sheridan, smiling and sitting in an upholstered chair with a fan in her lap in a room in Chicago, Illinois.


Mrs. Philip H. Sheridan, 83, widow of the Union Army’s Cavalry leader, died yesterday afternoon at her home, 2211 Massachusetts Avenue N. W., Washington, D. C., after a long illness. The home is a short distance from Sheridan circle and the equestrian statue of her husband. Death came nearly half a century after the death of her famous husband.

Last of the widows of top-flight Union Army leaders, Mrs. Sheridan was a noted beauty and popular in Washington society.

All her life, Mrs. Sheridan had lived in Army circles. She was the daughter of General D. H. Rucker, who was Quartermaster General of the Army. About 24 years younger than General Sheridan, who was born in 1831, Mrs. Sheridan spent most of her girlhood in Washington and at Army posts. She was born at Fort Union, New Mexico.

While a bridesmaid at a wedding in Chicago, in 1874, Irene Rucker met General Sheridan, who made his headquarters there. For the next few months he courted her steadily, and contemporaries still recall the hero of the Civil War and “pretty Miss Rucker’ riding down Wabash avenue in an open carriage. They were married the following year.

This photo negative taken by a Chicago Daily News photographer. Cite as: DN-0077384, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.

From The Civil War Parlor on Tumblr

Letter from the Rock Island prison


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Letter With Colored Sketch,  Confederate Soldier James W. Duke To An Unidentified Cousin, Written From A Union Prison Camp, 31 August 1864.(Charles Buford Papers)

There were about 150 military prisons on both the Confederate and Union sides during the American Civil War. The type of structures used to house prisoners of war included forts and fortifications, jails, penitentiaries, altered warehouses and factories, and enclosed barracks and tents. Only the South used open stockades. The facilities most dreaded by Confederate prisoners were the bleak and inaccessible fortifications at Fort Delaware in the Delaware River and Fort Warren in Boston harbor, Massachusetts, but no northern prison equaled the horrors of the Andersonville stockade in southern Georgia where more than thirteen thousand men died from exposure, malnutrition, and disease.

This color sketch of the federal prison on Rock Island, a small strip of land in the Mississippi River between Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, was found in a letter written by Confederate soldier James W. Duke to his cousin (presumably a woman) in Georgetown, Kentucky. The sketch was drawn by a soldier identified only as H. Junius, and it apparently is the item described in Duke’s letter as “the picture of our row of Barracks.” Duke likely inserted it as a keepsake and token of his gratitude for his cousin’s “kind letter.” As Duke’s letter suggests, prisoners often sent various items, including prison-made jewelry, to civilians who wrote to them or supplied such comfort commodities as tobacco and baked goods.

Rock Island prison was authorized in July 1863. When finished, it consisted of eighty-four barracks, 82 feet long and 22 feet wide, arranged in six rows of fourteen each, and surrounded by a high fence. Each barrack contained two stoves for cooking, but potable water was scarce and at times nonexistent. From December 1863 until the end of the  war, Rock Island held between five thousand and eight thousand Confederate prisoners, many of whom arrived before the facility was completed. Obviously, this idyllic sketch of men strolling peacefully on the grounds or performing routine chores among the neatly maintained barracks reveals more about the restrictions placed on outgoing mail than on actual conditions within the prison. Knowledgeable viewers can only assume that the artist was obliged to show the prison in as good a light as possible in order to get it by the guards, many of whom also served unofficially as censors.

Words and Deeds in American History

From The Civil War Parlor on Tumblr