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August 2014

Group brings honor to Civil War soldiers.

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Link to video

Art Holliday, KSDK

ST. LOUIS - A local genealogy organization is pleasantly surprised it successfully lobbied the Department of Veterans Affairs for a group of soldiers who no longer have a voice.

Newschannel 5 first met Sarah Cato in April 2013 at a meeting of the St. Louis African American History and Genealogy Society. The group's goal: come to the rescue of the 56th U.S. Colored Infantry, Missouri slaves who fought for the Union Army in the Civil War.

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The 1st and 2nd United States Sharpshooters were the elite of the Union Army. To qualify each man had to be able to place ten shots (with a rifle of his choice) in a circle of 10 inches in diameter from 200 yards. A sharpshooter also had to posses a good eye and calm nerves.

They were issued the breech loaded Model 1859 Sharps Rifle (which was specially designed for them) forest green frock coats, pants and forage caps instead of the standard blue union uniforms. This uniform was very effective when the berdans were in cover but in the open field it made them easy targets.

As the war progressed and casualties mounted the two units were consolidated and many were forced to switch over to the standard blue uniform of the Union Army.

At the end of the war casualties between the two units was 532 Men killed, wounded or missing.

From Revolted states on Tumblr

This week in the Civil War for August 10, 1864

Union Admiral David Farragut sailed into Mobile Bay, Alabama, with his federal warships 150 years ago this August in the Civil War, defeating a Confederate force that included the ironclad CSS Tennessee. The seizure of the Southern port marked another victory in Abraham Lincoln's federal war effort. The Associated Press, in a dispatch dated Aug. 9, 1864, reports that the Confederates were not at all giving up their naval campaign, feverishly building new vessels for the fight. The AP dispatch said the rebels "are pushing another ram to completion and erecting forts at the mouth of the Roanoke" River in North Carolina. The report also said the rebels were intent on raising a sunken gunboat along the Southeast coast. Confederate forces at this point in the war are, meanwhile, bidding to stave off Union forces pressing toward Atlanta. The fall of Atlanta would be only weeks away. The fighting near Atlanta by forces of Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman attracts the attention of the North, with one newspaper reporting he ranks among the foremost military leaders of the war at this point 150 years ago in the conflict.

From Yahoo News and the Associated Press

Shelby Foote


Remembering Civil War Historian Shelby Foote

A Compilation Of Sayings Of Shelby Foote  (1916 – 2005)

Foote was relatively unknown to the general public for most of his life until his appearance in Ken Burns's PBS documentary The Civil War in 1990, where he introduced a generation of Americans to a war that he believed was “central to all our lives.”

"It is very necessary if you’re going to understand the American character in the 20th Century, to learn about this enormous catastrophe in the mid-19th Century. It was the crossroads of our being and it was a hell of a crossroads".

Shelby Dade Foote, Jr. was an American historian and novelist who wrote The Civil War: A Narrative, a massive, three-volume history of the war.

From The Civil War Parlor on Tumblr

Gettysburg Mystery - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's family

Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow- Painting Of His Three Daughters Found On Gettysburg Battlefield

When the Civil War ended in 1865, the poet was 58. His poems were popular throughout the English-speaking world, and they were widely translated, making him the most famous American of his day. His admirers included Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, and Charles Baudelaire. 

This copy, plus frame, of Thomas Buchanan Read’s painting of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s three daughters was found at Gettysburg after the July 1-3, 1863 battle. It was not found on, or close to, any soldier’s body, so no one knows who was carrying it. The three children are Alice (top), born September 22, 1850, Edith (left), born October 22, 1853, and Anne Allegra, born November 8, 1855.

Maine Historical Society-

Charles Longfellow- Son Of Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


In 1863, he ran off to enlist as a private in the Union Army during the Civil War, and eventually received a commission as a lieutenant in a cavalry regiment. Miraculously, he survived a bout with malaria and what could have been a mortal gun shot wound to his back, which he received while on campaign in Virginia. The bullet traveled across his back, nicked his spine, and exited under his right shoulder. He missed being paralyzed by less than an inch.

He knew his father disapproved of him fighting, but went anyway. He wrote a letter to his father saying, “I have tried to resist the temptation of going without your leave but cannot any longer.”

Charles Longfellow went on to become one of the earliest American tourists in Japan. His journal offers a rare picture of the Asian nation opening up to the world after centuries of isolation. Charles was independently wealthy with inheritances from his grandfather, Nathan Appleton and his mother, and spent the rest of his life traveling the world. He died in 1893, in Cambridge from pneumonia and is buried in the family vault in Mt. Auburn Cemetery. The souvenirs of his travels and his uniforms and accoutrements from his service in the Union Army are at Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


This week in the Civil War for August 3, 1864

Amid an intensifying conflict 150 years ago, calls arose in the summer of 1864 in the North for newspapers to refrain from publishing rumors of troop movements, whether by Confederate or Union soldiers. As The Evening Star of Washington, D.C., noted on its front page July 27, 1864: "There are many wild reports to-day and to-night" and most were believed to be "unfounded." An accompanying dispatch by The Associated Press reported on the hardships of obtaining verified war details. "It is extremely difficult to obtain any authentic information relative to affairs on the Upper Potomac, and rebel movements in the (Shenandoah) Valley" of Virginia, AP noted. "By far the greater part of the rumors and even positive statements hourly put in circulation here are evidently false, and therefore not worth repeating," the dispatch added. But big news still got through that week as AP reported that Sherman's Union force was pressing in a "grand movement upon Atlanta," a major Union objective in the Deep South.

From Yahoo News and the Associated Press

Image source: Wikipedia

TN man believes he has found unmarked Civil War graveyard

Civil War historian Dan Griggs

Reported by Dennis Ferrier

Dan Griggs is a Civil War historian and his Dover museum is full of amazing artifacts. But he may have made the discovery of a lifetime using a divining rod.

"You keep it loosely in your hand at all times, and once you cross undisturbed ground, it will automatically turn on its own," Griggs said.

Three weeks later, he has mapped out an incredible possible 3,536 graves.

"My findings would not stand up in court," he said.

Griggs, however, is not without credibility. He used his dowser to find the unmarked mass grave of 17 Confederate soldiers. There is now a monument for those soldiers in Dover.

These possible graves are under five different properties, including Darrell Watson's, who believes the state should immediately come in and investigate.

State archeologist Michael Moore said he is very interested in seeing what's in Dover, but the state doesn't have the time, money or resources to investigate something that has been discovered using divining rods.

"What we need is an archaeologist to verify what is here and then as far as a monument or whatever for these boys, I will try to raise the money to get them one," Griggs said.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


August 1864


Mark Morgan
Commander Emaratus
Lt. George E. Dixon Camp 1962
Sons of Confederate Veterans

  Everyone should be familiar with the old saying, “The light at the end of the tunnel?  It’s a train.”  Where the Confederacy was concerned during the summer of 1864, several few bright prospects for the struggling Confederacy invariably turned into a figurative runaway train, as two major Union armies rampaged through the South, pinning down the two largest Confederate States armies under Generals Lee and Johnston.  

   To be sure, the United States had its own issues, chief among them war weariness.  Many up north were fed up with the repeated calls from President Lincoln for more troops and almost all were shaken by the incredible loss of lives at battles such as Cold Harbor.  Politically, there were no guarantees that Lincoln would gain reelection in November although, to his benefit, the Democrat Party effectively split in two, with one faction – the “War Democrats” – pushing for continuation of the war to victory and restoration of the Union and the other – the “Peace Democrats” – ready to throw in the towel and allow the South to go its own way.  

   It didn’t help that in early July, the Confederate Army of the Valley (the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia) under Lt Gen Jubal Early came flying out of the Shenandoah Valley, turned right, defeated a thrown-together force under Maj Gen Lew Wallace at Monocacy and then threatened Washington DC.  With the US capitals’ defenses stripped down to some 9000 men, politicians and local military commanders howled for reinforcements; by the time Early’s force of 10,000 men arrived on DC’s outskirts, the city had been boosted to 20,000 by the arrival of VI and XIX Corps.  Over 11-12 July, the Confederates attempted to penetrate the capital’s defenses in the vicinity of Fort Stevens on the northwest side of the city.  They failed; most of the Southerners were exhausted and Early himself was unsure of the size and capability of the Northern forces he faced (most of the recent Union reinforcements were battle-tested veterans of the Army of the Potomac and they were in a particularly foul mood about the proceedings).  Early pulled his army off the line, crossed the Potomac and headed south, hounded by 40,000 Yankees under Maj Gen Phil Sheridan. 

  Down in Georgia, Gen John Bell Hood had relieved Gen Joseph E. “Retreatin’ Joe’” Johnston as commander of the Army of Tennessee on 17 July 1864; at the time that army was south of the Chattahoochee River, only a few miles in front of Atlanta.  Hood immediately hit Maj Gen George Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland at Peachtree Creek and was repulsed.  A second battle on 20 July – the “official” Battle of Atlanta – ended similarly, with the Confederates falling back.  However, the Union suffered a major loss with the death of Maj Gen John B. McPherson, who had relieved William T. Sherman as commander of the Army of the Tennessee.  His West Point classmate John Hood subsequently wrote, “I will record the death of my classmate and boyhood friend…the announcement of which caused me sincere sorrow…neither the years nor the difference of sentiment that had led us to range ourselves on opposite sides in the war had lessened my friendship.”  Another Union victory, at Jonesborough over 31 August-1 September, forced Hood to evacuate south, leaving Atlanta wide open to Sherman.

   The situation further north proved equally grim.  The lead Northern elements, consisting of 30,000 men under Maj Gen William F. “Baldy” Smith and Maj Gen Winfield Scott Hancock, hit Petersburg’s outer line of defenses on 15 July.  Over the next two days, 5400 Confederate defenders fought hard under the leadership of Gen P.G.T. Beauregard but had to consistently give ground.  The arrival of reinforcements from the Army of Northern Virginia stiffened the Confederate lines; the arrival of Lee and the rest of Army into Petersburg’s defenses ended any chance the north had of quickly taking the city and, by extension, Richmond.  The famous (or infamous) “Battle of the Crater,” on 30 July, only briefly opened a hole in the Confederate lines.  The Southern defenders slaughtered the Union troops who rushed  into the crater and quickly rebuilt their defense; Grant later commented the fiasco was “…the saddest affair I have witnessed in the war.” 

   With the Army of Northern Virginia pretty much surrounded at Petersburg and the Army of Tennessee retreating away from Tennessee, Confederate prospects could not have looked bleaker.  However, things did get worse during the terrible month of August.  On 5 August, a US Navy fleet commanded by Rear Adm David G. Farragut successfully ran the defenses of Mobile Bay – Fort Morgan to the east and Forts Gaines and Powell to the west, plus several smaller defenses and gun positions – and destroyed a small Confederate fleet under the command of Adm Franklin Buchanan.  

   During the battle, the monitor USS Tecumseh went down, the victim of a mine (leading to Adm Farragut’s famous “Damn the torpedoes!” command), the ironclad CSS Tennessee was battered into submission (Adm Buchanan was wounded in the process) and the US Navy gained control of the bay. 

   On 23 August, the city of Mobile surrendered to the Union forces.  The loss of the Gulf Coast city left the Confederate states with only one viable port for blockade runners, Wilmington, NC.