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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.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Social Networks 1844

John Tyler U.S. President in 1844 and future Confederate Congressman

A talking point that we sometimes make when discussing the Battle of Antietam with visitors is the number and the impact of West Point officers at the battle and the idea that officers who studied at the Academy and then served together in the regular army took up arms against each other.  There is rarely time to give a lot of examples except perhaps for the famous Class of 1846 that had fifteen of its own fighting in Maryland.

For all these men, the majority of their careers were not spent in the intense atmosphere of battle.  They labored mostly in the more mundane and routine duties of garrison life.  It was not during war but the years working together that contributed more to the establishment of social networks, lifelong impressions and relationships. The most often cited relationship was attendance at West Point.  But that is just the beginning.  Relationships matured and grew by lifelong associations based upon their branch (infantry, artillery, dragoons, engineers etc), the specific regiment to which they were assigned, and the post or duty assignment where they served.  Wars and serious Indian campaigns were eagerly anticipated as ways to advance careers and rank but these episodes are few and far between. 

In an effort to look in some depth at these relationships, lets observe what those future Antietam combatants who were already in uniform back in 1844 were doing. There were 43 West Point graduates serving in the army who would later fight in the Maryland Campaign.  A further ten were had subsequently resigned their commissions and were pursuing civilian careers.[1]  The year 1844 was not a particularly eventful one but was certainly one more representative of a junior officer's career path. If you are familiar with the personalities at Antietam, you may be able to discern here how some of their working relationships, and friendships might bear on their connections at Antietam.

As the year 1844 dawned, no one could have realized that this would be the last year before relations with Mexico would deteriorate to war.  Already elements of the United States Army would deploy to the southwest border (Louisiana) as an Army of Observation under Zachary Taylor.  In the spring of 1844 the Third Infantry was transferred to Camp Wilkins, near Fort Jesup, and with the Fourth Infantry at nearby Camp Salubrity and seven companies of the Second Dragoons at Fort Jesup, became the " Army of Observation " under General Zachary Taylor. Its mission was to patrol the boundary of the Republic of Texas. Making that move from the Third Infantry were Second Lieutenants Israel Richardson (USMA 1841) and George Sykes (USMA 1842).[2]  From the Second Dragoons came Second Lieutenant Richard Anderson (USMA 1842) and Brevet Second Lieutenant Rufus Ingalls (USMA 1843).[3]  From the Fourth Infantry came Captain Robert Buchanan (USMA 1830) and Brevet Second Lieutenant James Longstreet (USMA 1842).[4]  Longstreet as a brevet lieutenant had not received his permanent regimental assignment and was temporarily with the Fourth Infantry.[5]  He  would ultimately be commissioned in the Eighth Infantry in 1845.  Another Fourth Infantry officer, already a close friend of Longstreet was Brevet Second Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant who was also now at Jesup.  Also stationed in Louisiana at the time were Second Lieutenants Lafayette McLaws (USMA 1842) and Napoleon Dana 1842), West Point classmates and fellow officers of the Seventh Infantry.[6]  McLaws was at Baton Rouge and Dana was assigned to Fort Pike, a coastal fort 20 miles east of New Orleans. 

These regiments had been fighting the Seminoles in Florida for years.  There still remained a sizeable force in that state in 1844.  Among them were Captain Dixon Miles (USMA 1824) now a staff quartermaster at Pensacola.[7]
For the most part, the artillerists continued to man the coastal forts or protect the northern border with Canada.  In the First Artillery, First Lieutenant Joseph Hooker (USMA 1837) served as the regimental adjutant at Fort Columbus.[8]  This fort was one of several  guarding the harbor of New York.  Hooker's classmate, First Lieutenant William French (USMA 1837) was at Fort Adams Rhode Island.[9]  For a time that year, Second Lieutenant James Ricketts (USMA 1839) was stationed at  Hancock Barracks in remote backwoods Maine but would move to Fort Sullivan on the coast later in that year.[10]  With Ricketts at Hancock was Brevet Second Lieutenant James Hardie (USMA 1843).[11]  These outposts in Maine kept an eye on the British across the border in New Brunswick still unsettled from the Aroostook“War” earlier that decade. Also manning the Canadian border at Sackett’s Harbor New York was First Lieutenant Marsena Patrick (USMA 1835) and Second Lieutenant Alfred Sully (USMA 1841) both of the Second Infantry.[12]  

With Hooker at Fort Columbus were several Second Artillery officers.  They included his West Point classmate First Lieutenant John Sedgwick (USMA 1837) and Second Lieutenants Henry Hunt  (USMA 1839)  and William Hays (USMA 1840).[13]  Across the harbor at Fort Hamilton were Brevet Second Lieutenants Seth Williams (USMA 1842) and Henry Clarke (USMA 1843).[14]  On August 31, 1844, Williams would receive his permanent commission as a second lieutenant with the Third Artillery and be reassigned to Hancock Barracks.   The gunners would no doubt have made the acquaintance of Captain Robert E. Lee (USMA 1829) of the Corps of Engineers.[15]  Lee since 1841 labored on the construction and repairs of the defenses of the Narrows entrance to New York harbor. 
At that time, Third Artillery officers typically garrisoned coastal forts in the mid-Atlantic region.  At Fort Moultrie guarding Charleston South Carolina was Second Lieutenant John Reynolds (USMA 1841) and Brevet Second Lieutenant Abner Doubleday (USMA 1842).[16]  Doubleday would return to Charleston South Carolina many years later. He started the year at Fort McHenry Maryland with Brevet Second Lieutenant Roswell Ripley (USMA 1843).[17]  Both officers then did a short stint at Fort Johnston North Carolina on the Cape Fear River before Doubleday proceeded to Fort Moultrie and Ripley went to Augusta Arsenal in Georgia. Another Brevet Second Lieutenant in the Third was D.H. Hill (USMA 1843).[18]  He was stationed at Savannah Georgia with another renowned engineer, Captain Joseph K.F. Mansfield (USMA 1822).[19]  Mansfield already a 22-year army veteran was the superintending engineer for the construction of Ft. Pulaski, a project for which he had labored since 1830. 
From the Fourth Artillery, Second Lieutenant George Getty (USMA 1840) was stationed for most of the year at Fort Monroe Virginia.[20]  In November he went with Company K to Carlisle Barracks Pennsylvania for the instruction of light artillery. 
While the artillery protected America’s coasts, the infantry regiments and horsemen of the First Dragoons continued to man the outposts on the western frontier.  Captain Edwin V. Sumner, First Dragoons commanded Fort Atkinson in present day Nebraska.[21]  One of his officers there was Brevet Second Lieutenant Alfred Pleasonton (USMA 1844), freshly minted from the West Point Class of 1844.[22]  Another First Dragoon officer, First Lieutenant Robert Chilton (USMA 1837) was assigned to Fort Gibson now in Oklahoma.[23]  Chilton no doubt was acquainted with Lafayette McLaws who served at Fort Gibson as a brevet second lieutenant in the Sixth Infantry before receiving his permanent commission in the Seventh and a new assignment at Baton Rouge Louisiana. 
Winfield Scott Hancock (USMA 1844) was another brand new brevet second lieutenant, and was temporarily assigned to the Sixth Infantry.[24]  Hancock after graduating from West Point in 1844 spent his first duty assignment at Fort Towson on border between the Indian Territory and the Republic of Texas. 
Other infantrymen along the western frontier were Second Lieutenant William T. H. Brooks (USMA 1841), Third Infantry, Second Lieutenant Richard Garnett (USMA 1841), Sixth Infantry, and First Lieutenant Randolph Marcy (USMA 1832), Fifth Infantry.[25]  Brooks served at Fort Leavenworth Kansas.  Garnett was at Fort Smith Arkansas and Marcy was assigned at far off Fort Gratiot on Lake Huron 70 miles north of Detroit. 
Besides the engineering projects already cited for Mansfield and Lee, Second Lieutenant Henry Eustis (USMA 1842) was Assistant Engineer for the construction of the Fort Warren seawall in Boston harbor.[26]  Brevet Second Lieutenants William Franklin (USMA 1843) and James Abert (USMA 1842) of the Topographical Engineers participated in the surveys of the Northwestern Lakes.[27]  Second Lieutenant George Meade (USMA 1835) worked on projects in the Delaware Bay.[28]  First Lieutenant Andrew Humphrey (USMA 1831) worked in Washington DC at the Topographical Bureau and Coastal Survey Offices while Robert E. Lee also served in Washington for a time as the Assistant to the Chief Engineer.[29]
In 1844, five officers served as assistant professors at the Military Academy.  Assistant professors were officers of the line who were not permanently tenured at West Point but who, based upon their knowledge and experience, were detailed to the Academy.  The were:
·      Second Lieutenant E. Parker Scammon (USMA 1837), Topographical Engineers, Principal Assistant Professor History, Geography, and Ethics.[30]
·      First Lieutenant Israel Vogdes (USMA 1837), First Artillery, Principal Assistant Professor of Mathematics.[31]
·      Second Lieutenant Francis N. Clarke (USMA 1840), Fourth Artillery, Assistant Professor of Mathematics.[32]
·      Second Lieutenant Albion Howe (USMA 1841), Fourth Artillery, Assistant Professor of Mathematics.[33]
·      Brevet Second Lieutenant James A. Hardie, First Artillery, Assistant Professor of Geography, History, and Ethics.  (Hardie reported to West Point in September having been previously stationed at Hancock Barracks)
Graduates of the Class of 1844 were Alfred Pleasonton and Winfield Scott Hancock.  Attending West Point as cadets were the future classes of 1845-1848[34] that included 36 future officers who would fight one day at the battle of Antietam.[35] 

This was a microcosm of the Army in 1844.  It was not a particularly eventful year in the careers of those who would fight at Antietam 18 years later.  It was a year when they performed their duties as career officers in a very small regular army establishment. Engineers improved harbors; artillerymen garrisoned the coastal fortifications; infantryman and dragoons patrolled the western frontier.

[1] The following officers had resigned their commissions before 1844 but would return to duty during the Civil War:  George Greene (USMA 1823), Thomas Stockton (USMA 1827), Thomas Drayton (USMA 1828), James Barnes (USMA 1829),  William Pendleton (USMA 1830), Rufus King (USMA 1833), George Morell (USMA 1835), Charles Whiting (USMA 1835), Jubal Early (USMA 1837), and Alexander Lawton (USMA 1839).
[2] Sykes commanded the Second Division, Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac.  Richardson commanded the First Division, Second Corps, Army of the Potomac.  Richardson would be mortally wounded as he reorganized his troops for a final push past the Sunken Road.  Note that all positions cited in the footnotes are at the time of the Battle of Antietam.
[3] Richard Anderson commanded a division under Longstreet in the Army of Northern Virginia. Ingalls was McClellan’s superb quartermaster.
[4] Robert Buchanan commanded a brigade of Regulars in George Sykes division.  Longstreet commanded the Right Wing of the Army of Northern Virginia.
[5] Brevet rank was given to West Point graduates until a permanent Second Lieutenant vacancy occurred in a regiment.  The wait time could be years.  While officers might receive their permanent rank in the same regiment that they held their brevet rank, it was very possible to move to another regiment.  In 1844, Seth Williams gave up his brevet rank in the Second Artillery to accept a permanent commission in the Third.  This necessitated a move from comfortable Fort Hamilton New York to more spartan Hancock Barracks in Maine.  Similarly Richard Anderson moved from the First to the Second Dragoons relocating from Fort Washita Indian Territory (Oklahoma) to Fort Jesup Louisiana.  Lafayette McLaws moved from the Sixth at Fort Gibson to a Seventh Infantry position at Baton Rouge.
[6] McLaws commanded an infantry division under James Longstreet.  Dana commanded the Third Brigade, Second Division, Second Corps.  Their troops would clash in the West Woods during the Battle of Antietam.
[7] Dixon Miles commanded the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry.  He would surrender the garrison to Stonewall Jackson on September 15, 1862 and be mortally wounded in a final fusillade of artillery fire shortly afterward.
[8] Hooker commanded the First Corps, Army of the Potomac.  He would be wounded leading the attack into the Cornfield.
[9] French commanded the Third Division, Second Corps, Army of the Potomac.  He led this division for the first time at the Sunken Road.
[10] James Ricketts commanded the Second Division, First Corps under Hooker.  His troops would be among the first to enter the Bloody Cornfield.
[11] Hardie was a staff lieutenant colonel that served as an acting assistant adjutant general at Headquarters, Army of the Potomac.
[12] Marsena Patrick commanded the Second Brigade, First Division (Doubleday), First Corps.  Sully commanded the First Minnesota Infantry, part of Gorman’s brigade of Sedgwick’s division.  Patrick and Sully were instrumental in halting the surging Confederates who were advancing out of the West Woods after crushing Sedgwick’s division. 
[13] Sedgwick commanded the Second Division, Second Corps that advanced into the West Woods and was outflanked by troops of McLaws, and other Confederate troops.  He would be killed at Spotsylvania in May 9, 1864. Hunt commanded the artillery of the Army of the Potomac.  William Hays, a lieutenant colonel at Antietam would command Hunt’s Artillery Reserve.
[14] Seth Williams was McClellan’s brilliant Adjutant General.  Colonel Henry Clarke was Chief of the Commissariat for the Union Army during the Maryland Campaign.
[15] Robert E. Lee commanded the Army of Northern Virginia from June 1, 1862 until the end of the Civil War.
[16] Reynolds commanded the Pennsylvania Reserve Division but on September 13, 1862 much to his disgust, was detached to command the Pennsylvania Emergency Militia for the duration of the Maryland Campaign.  He was killed at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.  Doubleday commanded the First Division, First Corps, Army of the Potomac.  Doubleday commanded a company at Fort Moultrie/Fort Sumter in April 1861.
[17] Roswell Ripley, originally from Ohio, commanded a brigade in D.H. Hill’s division.  His troops fought in the Cornfield.
[18] Daniel Harvey Hill commanded a Confederate infantry division.  His troops were engaged in the Cornfield and Sunken Road.
[19] Mansfield assumed command of the Twelfth Corps, Army of the Potomac on September 15, 1862.  He was mortally wounded in the East Woods leading his corps into action and died on September 18, 1862.
[20] George Getty, a lieutenant colonel at Antietam commanded Ninth Corps artillery .
[21] Sumner commanded the Union Second Corps. 
[22] Alfred Pleasonton commanded the newly organized Union Cavalry Division.
[23] Colonel Robert Chilton was Lee’s Chief of Staff and Assistant Adjutant General.  His counterpart on the Federal side was Seth Williams.
[24] Initially, Hancock commanded First Brigade, Second Division, Sixth Corps.  McClellan placed Hancock in command of Richardson’s division upon the wounding of that officer therefore beginning Hancock’s historic association with the Second Corps. 
[25] W.T.H. Brooks commanded the Vermont Brigade, Second Division, Sixth Corps. Richard Garnett commanded a Confederate brigade in David R. Jone’s infantry division. Marcy was McClellan’s Chief of Staff and Chilton’s counterpart in the Federal army.
[26] Eustis commanded the 10th Massachusetts Infantry, First Brigade, First Division, Fourth Corps.
[27] Franklin commanded the Union Sixth Corps.  Captain Abert was the Twelfth Corps Topographical Engineer.
[28] Meade commanded the Pennsylvania Reserve Division.  Upon the wounding of Joseph Hooker, he ascended to command the First Corps.
[29] Humphrey commanded the Third Division, Fifth Corps in the Maryland Campaign.
[30] Scammon commanded a brigade in the Kanawha Division, Ninth Corps.
[31] Major Vogdes was a staff officer serving with John Reynolds and the Pennsylvania Emergency Militia during the Maryland Campaign.
[32] Clarke was artillery chief of the Second Corps.
[33] Howe commanded the Union Second Brigade, First Division, Fourth Corps.
[34] The Class of 1848 reported to the Academy on or about July 1, 1844.
[35] These numbers included from the Class of 1845 William F. Smith, Fitz-John Porter, John Hatch, Delos Sacket, William Wood, David Russell. From the Class of 1846, George B. McClellan, Jesse Reno, Darius Couch, Thomas Jackson, Albert Magilton, Truman Seymour, Richard Rush, Samuel Sturgis, David Jones, George H. Gordon, Frederic Myers, Delancey Floyd-Jones, John Wilkins, Nelson Davis, and Cadmus Wilcox;  From the Class of 1848 Orlando Willcox, A.P. Hill, Horatio Gibson, Ambrose Burnside, John Gibbon, Clermont Best, Romeyn Ayres, Charles Griffin, and Thomas Neill; From the Class of 1848 James C. Duane, Robert Williamson, Joseph Clark, John Tidball, John Buford, and George Evans.

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