About Me

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I am a lifelong student of military history with particular interest in the Battle of Antietam. I work for the federal government in Washington DC and have two young adult children who I love very much. I currently volunteer at Antietam and devote much time to the study of this battle and the Maryland Campaign. I enjoy collecting notable contemporary quotations by and about the men of Antietam. Since 2013 I have been conducting in depth research on the regular artillery companies of the Union Army and their leaders. I hope to turn this into a book on this subject in the future. My perspective comes from a 28-year career in the U.S. Army. Travels took me to World War II battlefields in Europe and the Pacific where American valor ended the tyranny of Nazism and Empire. But our country faced its own greatest challenge 80 years earlier during the Civil War. And it was the critical late summer of 1862, when Robert E. Lee launched the Maryland Campaign. It is an incredible story of drama, carnage, bravery, and missed opportunities that culminated around the fields and woodlots of peaceful Sharpsburg MD. So join me as I make this journey South from the North Woods.

Friday, March 16, 2018

In Perfect Order

Lieutenant Charles Hazlett
After the Battle of Antietam, Henry Hunt the new Chief of Artillery for the Army of the Potomac directed that an inspection be conducted of every artillery battery in the army.  Hunt’s papers in the Library of Congress contain detailed records of that first inspection.[1]   Included are reports from some 33 artillery batteries from every army corps but the Sixth.[2]

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Wainwright himself newly appointed to the same post in the First Corps conducted inspections for that command and reported his findings on October 6th.  Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing at the time on Sumner’s staff as the topographical engineer inspected Second and Twelfth Corps artillery units.  He submitted his report on October 8th.  Lieutenant Samuel Benjamin who commanded a 20-pound Parrott battery in the Ninth Corps completed reports for is corps on October 23rd. Finally Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Webb, inspector general of the Fifth Corps reviewed the artillery batteries of Porter’s corps and submitted his report the next day.  Webb’s reports are the most comprehensive of the group.    

These officers evaluated the condition of the guns, limbers and caissons. Did the company possess the basic load of 250 rounds per gun and was it properly and safely packed?  Inspectors carefully checked the health and care of artillery horses.  Was there a proper supply of forage and hay?  Were harnesses properly cared for?  Were there enough artillery implements and tools for the guns? Were there enough tents?  Did the brigade and/or division quartermasters and commissary officers attend to the needs of the company?

They looked at the condition and cleanliness of the men.  Were they all equipped and effective for combat? How was their military bearing?  Was new clothing available?  Did they have their knapsacks?  Were officers and men receiving daily recitations of Army Regulations and tactics? How many times a day did the officers and sergeants conduct calls, drill and guard mount?

Did the commander accurately account for all company property?  Were his company books and returns accurate and complete?  Was his camp laid out correctly and properly policed?  Where was the nearest hospital tent?  Finally was the commander effectively in charge?  The inspector ended each inspection with a sentence to the effect that the battery was or was not “efficient.” 

Though the report narrative for each category is very brief, sometimes just one or two words, the reports are surprisingly comprehensive.  They draw a fascinating picture of the condition of the Union artillery immediately following the Battle of Antietam.

Generally the guns and accouterments were very well maintained and most batteries had their basic load of 250 rounds per gun.  One exception was Monroe’s Rhode Island Battery which was about 70 rounds short for each gun though the battery had stashed a larger than authorized amount of canister.  It was no wonder considering what Monroe had been through in the past 60 days.   His battery was nearly overrun at Second Manassas and there had been some dicey moments at Antietam too.

The biggest problem was the number and condition of the horses.  Many of the batteries did not have enough horses.  The army was in the process of condemning unfit horses.  They were in short supply and “smallish.”  In the Ninth Corps, the horses were coming down with what Lieutenant Benjamin called greasy heel. This was a bacterial disease caused by insufficient diet, exposure to dampness, and rough riding conditions.[3]  Benjamin reported that many batteries in his corps were short of horseshoes.  Overall, there were many reports that the supply of hay was inadequate. 

Many batteries were in need of clothing for the men. In the weeks after the battle McClellan and the Union quartermaster general Montgomery Meigs were engaged in a barrage of telegrams on the logistics situation.  Meigs maintained that adequate stocks had been shipped to the army.  McClellan and his quartermaster Rufus Ingalls disagreed.  Whatever the case, new clothing was not reaching some of the artillery batteries. 

The regular batteries were generally rated the most military in bearing and drill.  Several of them only had one officer on hand.  Charles Hazlett was the only officer in Battery D, Fifth Artillery. James Stewart in Battery B, Fourth Artillery was another case in point. Wainwright pointedly noted also that Battery B was comprised almost entirely of volunteers.  Of the 140 enlisted men, 123 or 93% were of volunteers.  Ransom’s regular battery lost all of their books (company records) at Second Bull Run.  In the Second Corps, Evan Thomas’ Battery A, Fourth Artillery had moved out of Washington so quickly at the beginning of the Maryland Campaign that they left their knapsacks containing all their personal clothing on barge at Georgetown.  The men had essentially been in the same clothes for six weeks. 

A good volunteer battery was Matthew’s Battery F, First Pennsylvania Light Artillery. This fine outfit stood firm in the Cornfield along with Ransom and Stewart and was instrumental in halting the Confederate attacks there.  Wainwright found discipline excellent, a rating hard to earn from that very finicky officer. 

Then there was Company L, First Ohio Light Artillery.  This was a new battery that arrived after Antietam to add an artillery complement to Humphrey’s Third Division of the Fifth Corps.  It had not seen a lot of action.  It was with Shield’s division in the Department of the Rappahannock and for most of the summer and fall had been in the Washington defenses.  Its commander was Lieutenant Frederick Dorries.  Lieutenant Colonel Webb found the battery “decidedly unmilitary on parade…the command was overall inefficient, officers were not well acquainted with their duties…the Orderly Sergeant does not wear chevrons and lives with commissioned officers; he does not know duties, property is not accounted for, no training offered, files not complete, This battery is in miserable condition owing to the inefficiency of the officers.” It was left to be seen whether this battery would be ready for action before the next campaign.

While Dorries’ battery had a lot of work to do to meet Henry Hunt’s standards, there was one battery that stood out.  This battery was organized by Charles Griffin, an artillery instructor at United States Military Academy at the start of the war and was comprised of West Point artillery soldiers, and such graduates of the Class of 1861 as Henry Kingsbury, Adelbert Ames and Charles Hazlett.  From this pedigree, it became known as the West Point Battery. Battery D, Fifth U.S. Artillery made its first appearance at First Bull Run under Griffin where it lost its guns in the climactic struggle on Henry Hill.  When Griffin took command of an infantry brigade in Morell’s division, his gunners found a place as the regular army battery assigned to that command. The battery did well under Henry Kingsbury at Gaines Mill and Malvern Hill.  Kingsbury would credit the battery’s success to “Hazlett’s unwearied exertions of preparation.”[4]   While Ames and Kingsbury eventually accepted volunteer commissions to command the 20th Maine and 11th Connecticut Infantry respectively, Hazlett remained with the artillery.   The young Ohioan led his gunners at Second Manassas firing over 1,000 rounds of ammunition and barely escaping capture while supporting Gouveneur Warren’s Fifth New York Infantry as it was nearly destroyed by rampaging Confederates.[5]  At Antietam the battery was part of Henry Hunt’s line of guns of position and remained east of the creek during the battle.  Hazlett and his men were deeply saddened to learn the news of the death of Kingsbury who fell leading his regiment at the Burnside Bridge. On September 19th and 20th the Battery D participated in the artillery duel during Battle of Shepherdstown where the men were overjoyed to learn that Griffin’s infantry recaptured one of their lost Bull Run guns.

Webb a graduate of West Point in 1855 was a Second Artillery officer before the war and aide to former Chief of Artillery William Barry.  He was thoroughly qualified to inspect the artillery batteries of the Fifth Corps.  As he began the inspection of Hazlett’s battery, he noted several times in his report that the lieutenant was the only officer present.[6]  Despite this he found the battery’s six 10-pound Parrots in good condition, the ammunition in perfect order, horses and caissons in very good condition, the men well supplied with clothing and the command overall very efficient and orderly. Company records were all in hand and well kept and the camp was “in admirable police; the neatest in the artillery of the corps.”  The only problems were not in the battery itself but with the Quartermaster Department in that the wants of the battery are not normally anticipated. Overall Webb pronounced the battery is in admirable condition but pointedly indicated that it needed five officers.

Hazlett’s “unwearied exertions of preparation” continued to maintain the West Point Battery as one of the finest in the Army of the Potomac.

In nine months Alexander Webb would lead the Philadelphia Brigade to immortality at the Copse of Trees at Gettysburg on July 3rd 1863.  He would live another 48 years, honored and respected for his key role in the Union victory at that important battle.  Charles Hazlett would not fare so well. The day before Pickett’s charge, a rebel sharpshooter killed Hazlett on Little Round Top.  While leaning close to catch the dying words of his friend and fellow artilleryman Stephen Weed, Hazlett was struck by a bullet in the forehead and died instantly.  He was 24 years old.

The findings of Hunt’s artillery inspectors should not always be completely regarded as a bad reflection on the battery commanders.  Like their Confederate counterparts, the artillerymen of the Army of the Potomac had been marching and fighting continuously since the end of May.  The Second, Fifth and Sixth Corps had seen hard fighting on the Peninsula.  The First, and Twelfth were veterans of the tough fights at Cedar Mountain and at earlier battles with Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Army in the spring.  The First, Fifth, Ninth and Twelfth fought hard at Second Manassas.  The continuous marching, and fighting stretched the logistic network to its limit.  Men, horses and equipment were worn out.  Hunt’s series of inspections gave him and his officers a snapshot on the overall condition of the command and a place to start from in the rebuilding of the artillery corps of the Army of the Potomac.

[1] Henry Hunt Papers, Library of Congress Box 7 Folder 6 (October – December 1862)
[2] 1st Corps 10 batteries, 5th Corps 9 batteries, 9th Corps 7 batteries, 2nd & 12th Corps 7 batteries
[3] Collea, Joseph The First Vermont Cavalry in the Civil War: A History Jefferson NC: Jefferson McFarland and Company 2010, page 92
[4] OR 11:2 page 286 Report of Lieut. Henry W. Kingsbury, Battery D, Fifth U.S. Artillery, of the battles of Gaines Mill and Malvern Hill
[5] OR 12:2 page 468 Reports of Lieut. Charles E. Hazlett, Battery D, Fifth U.S. Artillery, of the battles of Groveton and Bull Run
[6] Of the other officers, Captain Griffin was commanding the brigade in Morell’s division, Lieutenants Harrison and Bolles were sick, Lieutenant Reed was on recruiting duty and Lieutenant Hascall was on detached service with the Quartermaster Department. Source:  October 1862 Monthly Return

Monday, January 29, 2018

That One Important Minute

J. Albert Monroe, First Rhode Island Light Artillery
He called it “that one important minute”, the time when an artillery commander had to make the decision to either throw one more round of canister into the face of enemy infantry just yards away from his guns, or to limber up and head to the rear. 

Albert Monroe knew what he was talking about.  He was born on October 25, 1836 at Swansea Village Massachusetts.  He was distantly related to President James Monroe.  In 1852 his family moved to Providence where he attended Providence High School for two years.  He worked in dry goods, at a jewelry establishment and spent a semester teaching school. His goal was a higher education.  In 1860 he was a student at Brown University.  In 1854 Monroe joined the famed Providence Marine Artillery, one of the premier artillery militia companies in the North.  He was a member for about three years rising to the rank of Fifth Sergeant.  Many of this unit’s soldiers would rise to prominence in the famed First Rhode Island Light Artillery Regiment in the Civil War.  This regiment produced some of the finest volunteer artillery batteries in the Union Army. 
At the beginning of the war, Monroe was commissioned as a lieutenant in what eventually became Battery A First Rhode Island Light Artillery.  The battery fought with distinction at the First Battle of Bull Run.  In September he was promoted to Captain and command of Battery D.  His company was assigned to what eventually became Abner Doubleday’s division at Antietam.[1]  Monroe’s biographer describes his distinguished career: 

He was chief of artillery to the divisions of McDowell, Doubleday and Hooker successively; commander of the Artillery Camp of Instruction at Washington, D. C.; chief of artillery commanding the artillery brigade of the Second Army Corps; inspector and chief of staff of the Artillery Reserve of the Army of the Potomac, commanding officer of the second division of the artillery brigade of the Eighth Army Corps, and chief of artillery commanding the artillery brigade of the Ninth Army Corps.  … Monroe's battle record is as follows: Fairfax Court House, First Bull Run, Falmouth; Tar, Po and North Anna rivers; (cavalry skirmish), Thoroughfare Gap, Rappahannock Station, Sulphur Springs, Gainesville, Groveton, Second Bull Run, Annandale, South Mountain, Antietam, Kelly's Ford, Mine Run, Locust Grove, Morton's Ford, Tolopotomy, Bethesda Church, Hawes’ Shop, Cold Harbor, Wilderness, Po River, Spotsylvania, North Anna, First Assault of Petersburg, Fort Hell, Siege of Petersburg, Mine Explosion, Avery Farm,  Yellow Tavern and Pegram's Farm.  [2]

Perhaps Monroe’s greatest moment was commanding his battery at Second Manassas.  A group of federals officers who included Phil Kearney watched the rebels attempt to capture Monroe’s guns three times.  As other batteries were swept up by the advancing Confederates the seemingly impossible happened.  Awestruck, an artillery officer standing with Kearney recalled the moment:

"Our interest was centered in the battery, now all alone, entirely without support, and all expected to see it gallop to the rear and join the general stampede. " To our infinite surprise, after advancing two hundred or three hundred yards to the rear, the captain [Monroe] again went into battery, as if, single-handed, to defy the whole center of the rebel army The assurance of the battery commander, his effrontery and impudence were as much of a surprise to the rebels apparently as to us, and they seemed to be staggered for a few minutes, as if in doubt whether or not our lines had reformed and were about to advance again. Their doubts were soon dispersed, and then they charged with such a dashing, impetuous rush that, apparently, the battery could by no possibility escape. Again the horses and limbers plunged wildly forward and it seemed as if the pintle-hooks of the limbers actually shot into the lunettes of the trails of the gun carriages. Before the charging line reached the ground that the guns stood upon and fired from, the battery was moving away at a sharp trot. It looked as if the battery captain was playing and trifling with the enemy, for when he reached the crest of the hill leading down into the valley he went into battery again to pay a parting compliment to the Johnnies, but he failed to surprise them for a third time and they resumed their formation for a charge. The captain saw his danger, and without firing a shot he limbered to the rear and coolly moved down the hill, where he was lost to our sight.

Twenty-five years after the war, Albert Monroe recalled that fight in a paper he wrote for the Soldier and Sailors Historical Society of Rhode Island.  He bemoaned the fact that Northern historians had so far ignored the actions of the artillery in their writings.  This is largely still the case today.  Turning to that moment witnessed by Kearney the old gunner, veteran, of many battles, reflected on the absolutely necessary qualities of an artillery battery commander in battle. [3]

He should have all the dash and impetuosity of a cavalry leader, all the coolness of an infantry commander, for at times he must throw his pieces forward like a whirlwind to the very front line and fling his iron hail into the ranks of the enemy, where their success or reverse is just on the balance, or, if the onslaught is irresistible, he must know, to the very last moment, how long he can hold his position and deliver his fire with safety. This is the time that tries his mettle. He sees the line of the enemy rapidly advancing, gap after gap in the hostile line, torn out by his shot and shell, filled as if men sprang out of the ground for the purpose of mocking him. On they come until his canister rattles forth from his pieces like rain. The gaps in the advancing line in his front increase in frequency, but they are no less frequently filled, and the new men appear to be fresher and more determined than the others. Then he knows that the escape of his command depends upon how much punishment he can inflict, how much weakness he can cause up to the very moment that he must get away. Wavering in mind for a single second then, indecision for an instant at the supreme moment will prove to be his destruction, the severe crippling, if not the entire loss of his entire command. If he leaves a minute too soon the enemy quickly reaches the position he has occupied, comparatively fresh, and pours into him a destructive fire as he hastens with his exhausted men to the rear. If he uses that important minute to hurl canister from pieces well depressed, the enemy reaches the position he has abandoned, exhausted, torn and bleeding, and while he is gathering himself together, the self-contained, well-manned battery may seek cover with comparative leisure.[4]

Artillery gun position at Antietam
Albert Monroe knew what he was talking about.  And only other men who commanded batteries in extremis knew the feeling too.  Men like James Ricketts or Charles Griffin at First Bull Run.  Men like William Terrill at Shiloh.  Men like Henry De Hart or Alanson Randol during the Seven Days.  Men like Dunbar Ransom or James Stewart or Joseph Clark at Antietam.  Men like George Dickenson at Fredericksburg.  Men like John Mendenhall and Frank Guenther at Stones River.  Men like Clermont Best or Justin Dimick or Edmund Kirby at Chancellorsville.  Men like John Calef or George Woodruff or Alonzo Cushing or Gulian Weir at Gettysburg.  Men like Howard Burham at Chickamauga.  Men like Edward Williston at Trevillian Station. 

Men like Albert Monroe. 

[1] Chapters 15 and 16 of The Maryland Campaign of 1862 Volume II: Antietam by Ezra Carman edited by Tom Clemens  (Savas-Beatie 2012) thoroughly cover Monroe’s role in the Battle of Antietam.  Additionally Monroe wrote a detailed monograph titled  Battery D, First Rhode Island Light Artillery at the Battle of Antietam September 17, 1862 by J. Albert Monroe (Late Lieutenant Colonel First Rhode Island Light Artillery (Providence: Soldier and Sailors Historical Society of Rhode Island Third Series No. 16 Providence 1886).
[2] This summary of Monroe’s military career comes from John Albert Monroe First R.I. Light Artillery A Memorial (Providence: Soldier and Sailors Historical Society of Rhode Island Fourth Series No. 18 Providence 1892), pages 31-33
[3] Battery D, First Rhode Island Light Artillery at the Second Battle of Bull Run by J. Albert Monroe (Late Colonel First Rhode Island Light Artillery (Providence: Soldier and Sailors Historical Society of Rhode Island Fourth Series No. 10 Providence 1890), pages 29-31
[4] Ibid pages 8-10

Monday, January 8, 2018

“I have one favor to ask of you “ Influence and Connections

Colonel Harvey Brown Fifth Artillery
On May 4 1861 President Lincoln directed the first expansion of the Regular Army of the United States since 1855.  In that earlier year two infantry and two cavalry regiments were added under the auspices of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis.  Circumstances in 1861 were much different.  The nation was at war with itself.  The Regulars (it was believed) would form the backbone of a large volunteer force being raised to put down a rebellion now being lead by that former Secretary of War. 
Lincoln’s executive order (confirmed by Congress on July 29th) added ten infantry regiments, two cavalry regiments and one artillery regiment to the regular army.  The artillery regiment would be outfitted as light artillery meaning that the 12 companies would be mounted with horses and guns.

The creation of the new Fifth Artillery meant unprecedented career opportunities for the officer corps.  All of the new field grade officers (colonel, lieutenant colonel and majors) were drawn from the ranks of the regular army and all were West Point graduates.    Harvey Brown (USMA 1818) a major of the Second Artillery since 1851 became the first colonel.  Thomas Sherman (USMA 1836), a captain in the Third Artillery since 1846 became the first lieutenant colonel.  The new majors were all graduates of West Point between 1837 and 1839 and at the time of their promotions were commanding companies.   Thomas Williams (USMA 1837) of the Fourth Artillery commanded Company L.  William Barry (USMA 1838), and Henry Hunt (USMA 1839) commanded the two light companies of the Second Artillery A, and M respectively.  The leadership of the regiment was solid.  All of its officers were Mexican War veterans and Hunt and Barry in particular were known as leading authorities on artillery.

The captains of eleven of the twelve batteries were West Point graduates.  Five were commanding foot artillery companies in other artillery regiments when appointed.  Transfer to the Fifth Artillery meant command of a light company.  The only captain appointed from the civilian sector was James McKnight of Pennsylvania. McKnight was a militia officer of broad experience.  He had commanded the Ringgold Light Artillery Battery of Berks County Pennsylvania.  This was a fully mounted battery  with four six-pound guns.  The Ringgold Artillery was one of the “First Defenders” from Pennsylvania to reach Washington after the fall of Fort Sumter. 

The new battery commanders of the Fifth Artillery were:

Battery A        Captain George W. Getty USMA (USMA 1840)  Transferred from command of Company E, Fourth Artillery (in command since 1854)
Battery B        Captain James A. Hardie  USMA 1843)  Transferred from command of Company G, Third Artillery  (in command since 1858)
Battery C        Captain Truman Seymour (USMA 1846)  Transferred from command of Company G, First Artillery  (in command since Apr 1861)
Battery D        Captain Charles Griffin (USMA 1847)  Transferred from command of Company B, Second Artillery (in command since Apr 1861)
Battery E        Captain Samuel F. Chalfin (USMA 1847) Transferred from command of Company F, First Artillery (in command since Apr 1861)
Battery F        Captain Romeyn B. Ayres (USMA 1847) Promoted to Captain from Company F, Third Artillery
Battery G        Captain Richard Arnold (USMA 1850) Promoted to Captain from Company H, Third Artillery
Battery H        Captain William R. Terrill (USMA 1853) Promoted to Captain from Company C, Fourth Artillery (killed at Perryville)
Battery I         Captain Stephen H. Weed (USMA 1854) Promoted to Captain from Company K, Fourth Artillery (killed at Gettysburg)
Battery K        Captain John R. Smead (USMA 1854) Promoted to Captain from Company D, Second Artillery (mortally wounded at Second Manassas)
Battery L        Captain Henry V de Hart (USMA 1856) Promoted to Captain from Company C, Third Artillery (killed at Gaines Mill)
Battery M       Captain James McKnight (PA 1861)  Appointed May 14, 1861.  McKnight commanded the Ringgold Light Artillery (PA) since 1850

The regular army filled seven of the lieutenant vacancies in the regiment:
Battery A        1 LT Herbert A. Hascall (USMA 1856), transferred from Company A, Fourth Artillery
Battery B        1LT Edmund C. Bainbridge (USMA 1856),  transferred from Company H, Fourth Artillery
Battery C        1LT Lorenzo Lorain (USMA 1856),  transferred from Company L, Third Artillery
Battery D        1LT George A. Kensel (USMA 1857),  promoted from Company L, Fourth Artillery
Battery G        1LT John W. Barriger (USMA 1856), transferred from Company L, Second Artillery
Battery H        1LT Francis L. Guenther (USMA 1859), promoted from Company E, Fourth Artillery
Battery I         1LT Norman Hall (USMA 1859) promoted from Company H, First Artillery

Eight of the lieutenants came from the West Point class of May 1861. 

Battery D        1LT Adelbert Ames
Battery F        1LT Leonard Martin
Battery G        1LT Jacob B. Rawles 
Battery H        1LT Jacob A. Smyser
Battery I         1LT Malbone Watson                      
Battery L        1LT Henry Kingsbury (killed at Antietam)
                        1LT Charles Hazlett  (killed at Gettysburg)
Battery M       1LT Emory Upton

In accordance with Lincoln’s executive order and the subsequent enabling legislation, the remaining 30 lieutenants were appointed directly from the civilian world.  In the initial round of appointments, none went to any enlisted men.  This “Civilian Class of 1861” produced many good artillery officers and a few great ones.  Some would rise to the command of their batteries as lieutenants during some of the fiercest battles of the war.  Many of these men ended up making the army their career as well. One would be the first Chief of Artillery ever appointed in peacetime.  Two were killed in action. 

Ten of the new officers were from Pennsylvania; four each were from Ohio, New York and DC, one each were from New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, Delaware and one at large.  Perhaps the large number of Pennsylvania appointees, and the placement of the regiment’s initial camp of instruction at Camp Greble near Harrisburg had something to do with the fact that Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania was the Secretary of War.  To this former party boss, patronage and policical favoritism were ingrained in his DNA. 

Young Henry Gansevoort
The chances for getting an appointment had a lot to do with the amount of influence and connections that the applicant could project.  In the 1860s, no one thought anything of using all possible influence and calling in of favors to secure these coveted commissions.  Henry Gansevoort is a case in point.  Scion of one of Albany New York’s original Dutch families, Gansevoort’s grandfathers were General Peter Gansevoort a revolutionary war hero and Chancellor Sanford, a United States Senator from New York.  His father Peter was an extremely well connected attorney, judge, and New York legislator.  Young Gansevoort was a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School.  For a time, he read law with Millard Fillmore’s firm in Buffalo. Before joining a practice in New York Gansevoort in 1858 embarked on a 15 month journey to Europe .  With the attack on Sumter, Gansevoort immediately enlisted in the Seventh Regiment, New York State militia. The regiment was among the first to be sent to Washington upon the outbreak of the war.  He was almost desperate to obtain a commission in the regular army.  On April 30th, 1861 Gansevoort wrote to his father from Washington:

I have one favor to ask of you. It is possible at present to obtain for me a second-lieutenant's commission in the additional twenty-five thousand men to be raised for the regular army. Will you please apply for me at once, —today? Please speak to Judge P _____ . Hill, of Albany, has a commission.[1]

Gansevoort was referring Edward B. Hill an acquaintance who was appointed to the First Artillery.[2]  Gansevoort followed up with another letter on May 17th:

I request that you make an early application, as there are many applications already, and unless great exertions are made the chances will be small. ... I think application had better be made on the spot : General Wool, however, could suggest the most usual way. I leave the matter in your hands, knowing that your indulgent and paternal nature will do for me all that can be done.[3]

Finally, on August 4th Gansevoort triumphantly reported:

I have obtained a permanent position in the army, — lieutenant in the Fifth Artillery, headquarters at Harrisburg. This regiment is to be composed entirely of flying batteries, of which there are to be twelve. Brown, of Pickens fame, is the colonel, and Sherman the lieutenant-colonel. It is, I know, a dangerous branch of the service, but it is a choice and scientific branch. Under the present system of warfare, officers suffer most, and particularly those commanding batteries, as it is the aim of sharpshooters to thus cripple the guns; but it is on this very account that I prefer it. You are aware, perhaps, that there has been but one regiment of artillery formed under the increase of the army, so that commissions in that branch are comparatively scarce. I obtained this commission by my own exertions. All political influence that I brought to bear failed to aid me in the least and it was only by the resignation of a friend who held the appointment, that I received it, being substituted in his place.[4]

Gansevoort and his family’s efforts were duplicated by dozens of other men seeking appointments.  The following is a list of the civilians who successfully obtained appointments in the Fifth Artillery.  The list is organized by battery.  It identifies the name, home state, age at appointment and name of the officer’s father or significant person (if known) who likely had a role in securing the appointment.  For some, that connection and influence that person was able to provide are obvious.  For others there is less information or none at all.  In all but one case, detailed information on the father or patron was located. 

Battery A
Charles P. Muhlenberg (1837-1872) from Pennsylvania; age at appointment 24; Son of Frederick Muhlenberg a prominent physician from Lancaster Pennsylvania and member of the Muhlenberg family a powerful Pennsylvania political, religious, and military dynasty.  His brother Edward was also appointed as a lieutenant in the Fourth Artillery. He commanded Battery A which was assigned to Burnside’s Ninth Corps at Antietam. Two brevets, one for Cold Harbor and one for good conduct.  Resigned 1867. 
James Gilliss (1840-1898) from DC; age at appointment 21; son of James Gilliss a naval officer, noted astronomer and founder of the United States Naval Observatory.  At Antietam commanding ambulance train for the Artillery Reserve.  Two brevets for Malvern Hill and Spotsylvania.  Retired in 1897 as Colonel, Deputy Quartermaster General.
George W. Crabb (1840-1907) from Pennsylvania; age at appointment 21; son of George Crabb newspaper editor of the Harrisburg Patriot and Telegraph; His father was a one time apprentice to Simon Cameron. He fought at Antietam in Battery A.  Two brevets for Antietam and Petersburg. Retired in 1898 as a Major.

Howard Burnham killed at Chickamauga
Battery B
Thomas Williams (1835-1894) from Pennsylvania; age at appointment 26; son of Thomas Williams a Pittsburg attorney and editor of The Advocate a Whig newspaper and US Congressman from 1863-1869. One brevet for Second Manassas as General McDowell’s aide. Resigned 1866.  Committed suicide in 1894
Howard Burnham (1842-1863) from Massachusetts; age at appointment 19; son of Roderick Burnham a Massachusetts attorney and member of the Massachusetts Legislature; Nephew of Colonel Joseph Mansfield, Inspector General of the U.S. Army; Transferred to Battery H and killed at Chickamauga September 19, 1863.
William Beck (1837-1930) from Pennsylvania; age at appointment 23; son of John Beck who served three years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1854, 1862, and 1863; Beck attended West Point for one year before resigning in 1856. Four brevets for Po River, Boydton Plank Road, Petersburg, and good conduct. Retired as a captain in 1891.

Battery C
David Veech (1837-1874) from Pennsylvania; age at appointment 24; son of James Veech a well-connected Republican lawyer and friend of Edwin Stanton. Resigned 1863.  Appointed Captain volunteer Commissary of Subsistence ; Resigned again in 1865.
Gulian Weir (1837-1886) from New York appointed at large; age at appointment 24; son of Robert Weir, Professor of Drawing at West Point 1834-1876. Fought at Antietam under Captain Ransom in the Cornfield; Two brevets for Peninsula Campaign and Fredericksburg.  Commanded battery at Gettysburg. Remained in the Army. Committed suicide in 1886.
Homer Baldwin 1837-1870 from Ohio; age at appointment 24; son of Dudley Baldwin a bank director and Director of Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad. Two brevets for Gettysburg and the Red River Campaign; Died on duty 1870.

Battery D
Lloyd Harrison (1837-1880) from DC; age at appointment 24;  son of Naval officer Gustavus Harrison who died in 1848. Fought at Antietam; Dismissed in 1864.
Horatio Reed (1837- 1888) from New York; age at appointment 24; graduate of Troy Polytechnic Institute. Four brevets for First Bull Run, Peninsula Campaign, Bristoe Station, and good conduct.  Colonel 22nd NY Cavalry;  Resigned 1870.

Battery E
Eben Scott (1837-1919) from Pennsylvania; age at appointment 24; son of William B. Scott 1812-1840; an 1858 Yale graduate and attorney; Resigned 1863.
John R. Brinckle (1839-1910) from Delaware; age at appointment 21; son of Episcopal Rector Samuel Crawford Brinckle. Two brevets for Sailors Creek and Appomattox Campaign.  Retired as a major in 1896.
Elijah R. Craft (1841-1916) from New York; age at appointment 20; son of Charles Craft a railroad express man. [5]  Two brevets for Port Hudson and Fort Morgan; Resigned 1866
Charles Carroll 1841-1906 from DC; age at appointment 21; son of William Carroll Clerk DC Superior Court; One brevet for Sailor’s Creek; Resigned 1865.

Battery F
David Kinzie 1841-1904 from Illinois appointed from Kansas; age at appointment 20; grandfather John Kinzie was the first white settler of Chicago. His uncle was Major David Hunter an intimate to Lincoln; Resigned from West Point in 1861 to accept a commission.  Three brevets for White Oak Swamp, Antietam, and good conduct.  Retired in 1903 as brigadier general.
Charles Hickox 1837-1901; from Ohio; age at appointment 23; After the war and original member of the New York Stock Exchange.  Resigned 1864.

Battery G
Henry Brewerton 1838-1913 from Maryland; age at appointment 22; son of Major Henry Brewerton Superintendent of West Point from 1845-1852; One brevet for Cedar Creek where he was captured; Retired as major in 1892;
Henry L. Taliaferro from Kentucky;  Resigned 1862.

Battery H
Benjamin F. Rittenhouse 1839-1915 from DC; age at appointment 21; son of Benjamin Rittenhouse a Treasury auditor. Two brevets for Bethesda Church and good conduct; Assumed command of Hazlett’s battery at Gettysburg; Retired in 1870 as a captain. Committed suicide in 1915.
Israel Ludlow (1841-1873) from Ohio; age at appointment 20; son of James C. Ludlow; Ludlow’s sister was married to Salmon Chase. One brevet for good conduct; Resigned in 1865.

Battery I
Thomson McElrath (1837-1898) from New York; age at appointment 24; son of T.P. McElrath, Business Manager of Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune. Two brevets for Gaines Mill and good conduct; Resigned in 1870.
Charles C. MacConnell (1840-1908) from Pennsylvania; age at appointment 21; son of Thomas MacConnell a lawyer and judge in Pittsburgh. Three brevets for Peninsula, Gettysburg, and Fort Stedman; Retired as a captain in 1883.

Battery K
William Van Reed (1841-1896) from Pennsylvania; age at appointment 20; son of James Van Reed a well-known paper manufacturer who moved to California in 1850. Commanded Battery K at Antietam; One brevet for Weldon Railroad; Retired as a captain in 1887;
James Piper (1835-1876) from Pennsylvania; age at appointment 26; son of Alexander Piper active in Pennsylvania Government; Brother of Lieutenant Alexander Piper USMA 1851). One brevet for Mechanicsville; died on active duty in 1876, a captain.

Battery L
Wallace F. Randolph  (1841-1910) from Pennsylvania; age at appointment 19; son of Dr. Charles F. Randolph. Cousin was General Lorenzo Thomas.  Two brevets for Second Winchester and good conduct.  Captured at Winchester; escaped from Libby Prison after tunneling out.  Brigadier General USV in the Spanish American War; In 1903 appointed as the first peacetime Chief of Artillery of the army.  Retired as a brigadier general in 1904. Committed suicide in 1910.
Edmund D. Spooner (1843-1915) from Ohio; age at appointment 17; son of Judge William Lewis Spooner of Ohio. Resigned 1865.

Battery M (3)
Valentine Stone (1840-1867) from Indiana; age at appointment 21; son of Samuel Stone one-time member of the Kentucky legislature; nephew of Senator Henry Smith Lane of Indiana . Two brevets for good conduct.   Died on active duty, a captain in 1867.
Henry Baldwin (1840-1864) from New Jersey; age at appointment 21; son of Caleb Dodd Baldwin a paper mill operator in Essex NJ; mortally wounded at Cedar Creek.  Mortally wounded at Cedar Creek and died of wounds November 8, 1864.
Henry Gansevoort 1835-1871 from New York; age at appointment 26; son of Peter Gansevoort New York Lawyer, Judge, and Legislator.  Transferred to Battery C and fought at Antietam.  Four brevets for Antietam, Manassas Gap, and two brevets for good conduct.  Brevet brigadier general of volunteers.  Commanded 13th New York Cavalry; Died on active duty, a captain in 1871.

Of the 30 officers, one was dismissed and five resigned during the war.  Seven remained on active duty but resigned before they were eligible to retire.  Five died while on active duty after the war.  Ten retired from active duty.  Two of them, David Kinzie and Wallace Randolph retired as brigadier generals in the regular army.  Randolph was appointed the first peacetime Chief of Artillery in 1903, something that Henry Hunt had advocated fifty years earlier.  Two paid the ultimate sacrifice.  Howard Burnham fell while leading his battery at Chickamauga.  Henry Baldwin was mortally wounded at Cedar Creek.

Lieutenant Colonel Gansevoort, 13th New York Cavalry
The Class of 1861 almost without exception produced some great artillery officers.  Perhaps no officer epitomized the group more than Henry Gansevoort, the young gentleman from Rheinbeck New York who asked his father for a favor.  Gansevoort was appointed as an officer in Company M.  He spent many months drilling and preparing his battery for action.  Sent to the Peninsula, he saw his first major action at the Battle of Seven Pines.  Promoted to first lieutenant and transferred to Ransom’s Battery C, he fought at Second Manassas. At Antietam Gansevoort for a time commanded his battery and was instrumental in halting Rebel attacks in the Cornfield. In June of 1863 he accepted a volunteer commission as lieutenant colonel of the 13th New York Cavalry.  Subsequently promoted to colonel of the regiment, Gansevoort spent much of the remainder of the war operating in Mosby’s Confederacy scoring some notable successes against the guerilla leader.  Gansevoort returned to his battery after mustering out of the volunteers.  He was promoted to captain in 1867. Gansevoort continued to serve but gradually grew sick and enfeebled from recurrences of the camp fever and hard service he suffered during the war.  Feeling that the end was near, Gansevoort departed from Fort Independence in Boston for his ancestral home.  He died on board the steamboat “Drew” on the Hudson River opposite Rhinebeck New York on April 12, 1871.

[1] Memorial to Henry Sanford Gansevoort edited by J.C. Hoadley Boston Franklin Press 1875) p 89.  The identity of Judge P is not known.
[2] Lieutenant Edward B. Hill was an officer in Company G, First Artillery.  He was mortally wounded on June 30th, 1862 in the Battle of White Oak Swamp.
[3] Memorial p 89
[4] Memorial p 94
[5] During the 19th century, an expressman was someone whose responsibility it was to ensure the safe delivery of a train's gold or currency, which was secured in the "express car". This job included guarding the safe or other strongboxes or coffers against outlaws, and memorizing the safe's combination until delivery.