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.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Where were all the Captains?

Robertson's Battery of Horse Artillery (B&L 2nd Artillery)
During the Maryland Campaign twenty-two of the Union Army’s artillery batteries came from the Regular Army.  Five of these were actually consolidations of two batteries.  Battery consolidations occurred because of the difficulty in recruiting up to authorized strength. Even when consolidated, the batteries submitted separate battery muster rolls each month. That means that there are actually twenty-seven artillery batteries muster reports to look at when studying the regular batteries at Antietam.

These batteries were the core of the Army of the Potomac’s artillery power and were found in every infantry corps, the cavalry division, and the artillery reserve.  As originally envisioned by William Barry and Henry Hunt, the army’s first two artillery chiefs, the regulars formed the core of an infantry division’s artillery complement.  Their job was to train the volunteer batteries in the performance of their duties.  The plan was for the regular artillery battery commander was also the division’s chief of artillery.  The ratio was one regular to three volunteer batteries.  This did not always work out in practice.

A Federal artillery battery was authorized one captain and four first lieutenants. 

Each of the regular army’s five artillery regiments were represented during the Maryland Campaign.  Four of these had been in existence since 1821.  The Fifth Artillery was a new regiment established in May of 1861.

In reviewing the list of battery commanding officers at Antietam, one question becomes apparent.  Where were all the captains?

The table below shows all of the batteries.  It identifies the captain who commanded the battery according to the muster rolls for August 1862. The actual commander at the time follows in the next column. 

Captain (on muster rolls)
Actual Commander
Gun Type
Division/Corps assignment at Antietam
E&G First Artillery
Jefferson C. Davis (Company E) [1] John M. Schofield (USMA 1853 Company G)[2]
1LT Alanson Randol (USMA 1860)
4-12 lb Napoleons
Sykes Division Fifth Corps
I      First Artillery
James Ricketts (USMA 1839)[3]
1LT George Woodruff (USMA June 1861)
 6-12 lb Napoleons
Sedgwick’s Division, Second Corps
K     First Artillery
William Graham[4]
CPT William Graham
6-12 lb Napoleons
Artillery Reserve
A Second Artillery
John C. Tidball (USMA 1848)
CPT John C. Tidball
6-3" Ordnance Rifles
Horse Artillery Cavalry Division
B&L Second Artillery
James W. Robertson (Company B) William Hays  (USMA 1840- Company L)[5]
CPT James W. Robertson
4-3" Ordnance Rifles
Horse Artillery Cavalry Division
D Second Artillery
Edward R. Platt (USMA 1849)[6]
1LT Edward Williston
6-12 lb Napoleons
Slocum’s Division, Sixth Corps
Second Artillery
Josiah H. Carlisle (USMA 1845)[7]
1LT Samuel Benjamin (USMA May 1861)
4-20 lb Parrot Rifles
Willcox’s Division Ninth Corps
G Second Artillery
James Thompson (USMA 1851)[8]
1LT John H. Butler
4-12 lb Napoleons 
Couch’s Division Fourth Corps
M Second Artillery
Henry Benson[9]
1LT Peter Hains (USMA June 1861)
6-3" Ordnance Rifles
Horse Artillery Cavalry Division
C&G Third Artillery
Horatio Gibson (USMA 1847 Company C)
Alexander Piper  (USMA 1851 Company G)[10]
CPT Horatio Gibson
6-3" Ordnance Rifles
Horse Artillery Cavalry Division
L&M Third Artillery
Dunbar Ransom (Company L)[11]
John Edwards (USMA 1851-Company M)
CPT John Edwards
4-10 lb Parrot Rifles
Cox’s Division, Ninth Corps
A&C Fourth Artillery
Francis N. Clarke (USMA 1840 Company A)[12]
George Hazzard (USMA 1847)[13]
1LT Evan Thomas
6-12 lb Napoleons 
Richardson’s Division, Second Corps
B Fourth Artillery
John Gibbon (USMA 1847)[14]
1LT Joseph Campbell (USMA June 1861)[15]
6-12 lb Napoleons
Doubleday’s Division, First Corps
Fourth Artillery
Joseph C. Clark (USMA 1848)
CPT Joseph C. Clark
4-10 lb Parrot Rifles
Sturgis Division, Ninth Corps
F Fourth Artillery
Clermont Best (USMA 1846)[16]
1LT Edward D. Muhlenberg
6-12 lb Napoleons
Twelfth Corps
G Fourth Artillery
Albion Howe (USMA 1841)[17]
1LT Marcus P. Miller (USMA 1858)[18]
6-12 lb Napoleons
Artillery Reserve
A     Fifth Artillery
George Getty (USMA 1840)[19]
1LT Charles P. Muhlenberg
6-12 lb Napoleons
Rodman’s Division, Ninth Corps
Fifth Artillery
Dunbar Ransom
CPT Dunbar Ransom
4-12 lb Napoleons
Meade’s Division, First Corps
D     Fifth Artillery
Charles Griffin (USMA 1847)[20]
1LT Charles Hazlett (USMA May 1861)
4-10 lb Parrots 2-12 lb Napoleons 
Morell’s Division, Fifth Corps
Fifth Artillery
Romeyn Ayres (USMA 1847)[21]
1LT Leonard Martin (USMA May 1861)
4-10 lb Parrots 2-12 lb Napoleons
Smith’s Division, Sixth Corps
I      Fifth Artillery
Stephen Weed (USMA 1854)
CPT Stephen Weed
4-3" Ordnance Rifles 
Syke’s Division, Fifth Corps
Fifth Artillery
John R. Smead (USMA 1854)[22]
2LT William E. Van Reed
4-12 lb Napoleons  
Syke’s Division, Fifth Corps

Of the twenty seven battery captains, six (Davis, Schofield, Ricketts, Gibbon, Howe and Griffin) were brigadier generals of volunteers serving in infantry commands.  Three (Best Clarke, and Getty) were Corps Artillery Chiefs; two Ayres and Ransom were division artillery chiefs (though the information is confusing on Ransom); Hays commanded the Artillery Reserve; Piper was detailed to the defenses of Washington; Thompson to Cincinnati; three (Benson, Hazzard, and Smead), and had been recently killed or mortally wounded and the muster rolls did not yet reflect this; Carlisle was on sick leave; Platt was an inspector general on the Sixth Corps staff.  This left eight (Graham, Tidball, Robertson, Gibson, Edwards, Clark, Ransom [again], and Weed) actually in command of their batteries.  Dunbar Ransom is listed twice commanding both Battery L, Third Artillery, and Battery C, Fifth Artillery.  The note on Battery L’s muster indicates that Ransom was Chief of Artilery for Meade’s division.

The bottom line is that there were a lot of very young lieutenants commanding many of the regular batteries during the Maryland Campaign.  Stay tuned.

[1] Jefferson C. Davis was a brigadier general of volunteers and commanded a division in the Army of the Cumberland. A sergeant in the Third Indiana Volunteers in the Mexican War, Davis was commissioned into the First Artillery on June 17, 1848. Not to be confused with the Confederate President, this Davis is famously known for shooting and killing his superior officer, Maj. Gen. William "Bull" Nelson in Louisville, Kentucky and after being slapped in the face by Nelson. A shortage of competent generals saved Davis from a court martial conviction.
[2] John Schofield a future commanding general of the U.S. Army was a brigadier general of volunteers and commanded the District of Missouri at the time of the Battle of Antietam. 
[3] James Ricketts was a brigadier general of volunteers and commanded the Second Division, First Corps.
[4] William Graham was directly commissioned into the First Artillery on June 7, 1855.  He may have benefited from the fact that his father and namesake Lieutenant William M. Graham who commanded the 11th Infantry Regiment was killed at Molino del Rey during the Mexican War.
[5] William Hays was a staff lieutenant colonel and commanded the Artillery Reserve of the Army of the Potomac.
[6] Edward Platt was a staff lieutenant colonel and assistant inspector general of the Sixth Corps.
[7] Josiah Carlisle was on sick leave of absence, Aug. 3, 1862, to Apr. 14, 1863;
[8] James Thompson as Chief of Artillery, in defense of Cincinnati during rebel offensive into Kentucky during September, 1862
[9] Henry Benson was an enlisted artilleryman in the Second Artillery during the Mexican War.  He was commissioned into the Second Artillery on January 26, 1849.  Benson died August 11, 1862 of wounds received August 5, 1862 at Malvern Hill
[10] Alexander Piper who was Pope’s Chief of Artillery was now assigned as Assistant Inspector of Artillery at Washington DC.
[11] Dunbar Ransom was the Chief of Artillery of Meade’s Division and commanded Battery C, 5th U.S. Artillery.
[12] Francis Clarke on detached duty as Chief of Artillery, Second Corps. He was promoted to Major, Fifth Artillery on August 5, 1862.
[13] George Hazzard died August 14, 1862 of wounds received at the Battle of White Oak Swamp on June 30, 1862.
[14] John Gibbon was a brigadier general of volunteers and commanded the Black Hat Brigade of Doubleday’s division, First Corps.
[15] Campbell had the staff rank of Captain-Staff Additional Aide de Camp
[16] Clermont Best was chief of artillery for the Twelfth Corps
[17]Albion Howe was a brigadier general of volunteers and commanded a brigade in Couch’s division, Fourth Corps
[18] Marcus Miller was the regimental adjutant detached to the battery. 
[19] George Getty was staff lieutenant colonel and commander of the Ninth Corps artillery.
[20] Charles Griffin was a brigadier general of volunteers and commanded a brigade in Morell’s Division, Fifth Corps.
[21] Romeyn Ayres commanded the division artillery of Smith’s Division, Sixth Corps
[22] John R. Smead was killed on August 30, 1862 at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Lord is one of the coolest men under fire, I ever saw.”


My research on the West Point officers who served at Antietam continues.  Recently, I contacted the West Point Library to see when they began recording images of the graduating classes.  I learned that they began to do this in 1857.  Unfortunately they do not have the images for the Classes of 1858 or 1860.  The Library copied the images of 53 officers from the graduating classes of 1857, 1859, May 1861, June 1861, and 1862. I can’t be certain but many of these are not on the internet as I have tried to google some of these relatively unknown men and not obtained any results. 

James H. Lord USMA 1862
One of these images is of James H. Lord of the Class of 1862.  It is amazing to consider that this young man who graduated from the Academy on June 17, 1862 would earn a brevet promotion to First Lieutenant only fourteen days later at Malvern Hill.  He would earn two more (including one for Antietam) before the end of the war.  He probably looked very much like this image at Antietam.

A great source of biographical information for these lesser known officers are their obituary notices found in the Annual Reunion of the Association of Graduates.  When Lord died on February 21, 1896 at the Presidio, his classmate and fellow Second Artillery colleague John Calef penned the following tribute which appeared in the 1896 Annual Reunion.

Major JAMES HENRY LORD was born at Honesdale, Pa., February 27th, 1840. After attending school in his native town, he was, at the age of 14, sent to the military school of General William H. ("Billy") Russell, at New Haven, where he received his preparation for the United States Military Academy. He entered the Academy on July 1st, 1857.[1] Graduating in 1862, amidst the excitement of the Civil War, he was appointed to the Second Artillery, and was sent immediately to active service with the Army of the Potomac. Being assigned to Carlisle's Battery "E," Second Artillery, (composed of 4-20 pounder Parrotts).[2] He participated with this celebrated Battery under [First Lieutenant Samuel F.] Benjamin, in the following battles: Second Malvern Hill, Second Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and then accompanied the Ninth Army Corps to Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the siege of which place his battery took part, as well as in the capture of Jackson, the Capital of Mississippi. During these operations on the Mississippi he contracted a fever accompanied by congestive chills, which necessitated a change of climate, and after a sick leave, he was placed on "mustering and disbursing duty" at Cincinnati and Boston until February, 1865, when he joined Horse Battery "A," Second Artillery, then serving with Davies' Brigade, Gregg's Cavalry Division in the siege of Petersburg.
In command of that Battery he participated in the final campaign of the War, being engaged at Dinwiddie Court House, Five Forks, Lisbon Centre, High Bridge, Farmville, and lastly at Appomattox Court House. He then served as Aide-de-Camp to General Crook, but returning to the Second Artillery, he accompanied it to the Pacific Coast in September, 1865, and on May 1st, 1867, was appointed Regimental Quartermaster, which he held till appointed Captain and Assistant Quartermaster, April 24th, 1875. In this position he served as Chief Quartermaster District of Tucson, Arizona, and Depot Quartermaster at Yuma, Arizona, from June, 1875, to November, 1878. On duty at General Depot, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to August 1st, 1879; Post-Quartermaster at Fort Preble, Maine, to June 8th, 1880. Depot Quartermaster at Cheyenne to November 10th, 1885; on duty at Jeffersonville Depot, Indiana to July 1st, 1886; Post-Quartermaster Governor's Island, New York, and Assistant Quartermaster Division Atlantic, to August 3d, 1890; in charge of General Depot, San Francisco, California, to March 31st, 1893, and retired from active service, September 6th, 1893.
He was brevetted First Lieutenant, July 1st, 1862, for gallant and meritorious services in the battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia; Captain, September 17th, 1862, for gallant and meritorious services in the battle of Antietam, Maryland; and Major, April 9th, 1865, for gallant and meritorious services in action at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
Major Lord was an unique character. From the reveille of his military career till the taps which signified its close, he ever displayed that cheerful quality of mind and disposition which extended its influence to all around, and endeared him to countless friends. His wonderful energy and fertility of resources were displayed in every position to which he was called, and whether in organizing an " outfit" for the use of the Commanding General on an inspecting tour, or in planting trees for beautifying the Presidio Reservation, he gave his personal attention to the details, which assured success.
During the Civil War, he early made a reputation for coolness and intrepidity under fire, and I recall the remark of his Battery Commander, Lieutenant (afterwards Colonel) S. W. Benjamin, who, when speaking of the terrific fire the Battery ("E," Second Artillery,) was subjected to at the Second Bull Run, said: "Lord is one of the coolest men under fire, I ever saw.”[3]
He was also of an inventive turn of mind, and secured, I believe, patents for several inventions. Ever loyal to his old friends, he was generosity itself, and many a thorny path was smoothed by him. His was a very lovable nature, and in his untimely demise, the service has lost an excellent officer and his friends have experienced an irreparable loss.
Captain, Second Artillery.[4]

[1]Lord repeated his freshman year having been found deficient in English studies.
[2] Captain Josiah M. Carlisle, Third Artillery (USMA 1845) commanded this battery through the Battle of Malvern Hill.  He was relieved of command due to illness on August 2, 1862 and never returned to front line service.  Carlisle retired on August 4, 1863 for disability and died on December 16, 1866.
[3] Benjamin mentions Lord in his lengthy report on the Battle of Antietam stating that Lieutenants Graves and Lord, "worked well and faithfully." (OR 19:1 page 436)
[4] Twenty Seventh Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, June 11, 1896 page 122