The biographical sketches listed here below, are focused upon each individual’s tenure at Fort Moultrie, rather than over the breadth of their entire careers. More detail is therefore included about their stints on Sullivan’s Island, however brief these might have been in most cases, and which should not be interpreted as implying any special importance to these particular interludes.
Anderson, Robert (1805-1871)
Distinguished U.S. Artillery officer, who was placed in command of beleaguered Fort Moultrie late during his career, just as secessionist sentiment was peaking throughout South Carolina.
Birth & Early Life (1805-1826)
He had been born on June 14, 1805, on a rural estate located about ten miles outside of Louisville, in eastern Jefferson County in the State of Kentucky. This homestead had been named the “Soldier’s Retreat” by his father Lt.-Col. Richard Clough Anderson, an American Revolutionary War hero who had fought beside George Washington at the Battles of Trenton and Yorktown. Robert was to be the eighth of what would eventually be a total of sixteen children, which Colonel Anderson would sire by two successive wives. This extensive family would be sustained by a plantation operated by slaves, as well as through the Andersons’ extensive political connections. Robert’s own step-uncle was another Revolutionary War hero, Brig. Gen. George Rogers Clark, while his mother Sarah Marshall’s cousin was Chief Justice John Marshall, and Andrew Jackson and James Monroe were known to have been house-guests at the Soldier’s Retreat.
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Thanks to his oldest brother’s influence (Richard Clough Anderson, Jr., who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for two successive terms in 1817-1821), an appointment was secured through Pres. James Monroe for the bright young Robert to enter the United States Military Academy on July 1, 1821, less than three weeks after his sixteenth birthday. Slender and bookish, he proved to be an excellent student at West Point, graduating four years later in fifth place out of the 37 cadets in his class. Fellow-graduates included the future military engineers Alexander H. Bowman and Thompson S. Brown, the scientist Alexander D. Bache, Confederate Gens. Daniel S. Donelson and Benjamin Huger, as well as Union Gen. Charles F. Smith.
Despite receiving a brevet commission as Second Lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Artillery Regiment, Anderson had instead deferred this placement to accompany his eldest brother Richard — by then the recently-widowed U.S. Minister to Colombia — as his “private secretary”, when the latter set sail from Washington, D.C., to resume his interrupted diplomatic posting at Bogotá. Arriving in that exotic South American country by October 1825, this intriguing episode in young Robert’s life was cut short when his brother received instructions from Pres. John Quincy Adams to assist another American representative at Portobelo, Panama. Travelling overland from the Colombian capital toward the steamy seaport of Cartagena so as to take passage to the Isthmus by ship, Richard Anderson fell ill and died in the small town of Turbaco on July 24, 1826, leaving his bereaved sibling to return home alone.
Artillery Study, Black Hawk War, & West Point Instructor (1826-1837)
Anderson’s 76-year-old father also died at Louisville on October 16, 1826, so upon resuming his deferred military career late that same year, the 22-year-old was reassigned as a Second Lieutenant to the 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment, and sent to the “Artillery School of Practice” at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. He was rotated out of that garrison for ordnance duty as of March 6, 1828 at the U.S. Arsenal in St. Louis, Missouri, and was still occupied in that capacity four years later when the Black Hawk War suddenly threatened farther north in Illinois, erupting with a resounding defeat of an untrained frontier militia-force. During the resultant panic, Anderson was appointed on May 9, 1832, as Assistant Inspector-General with the temporary rank of militia Colonel on the staff of Illinois’ Gen. Henry Atkinson, and was consequently present at the final massacre of the pathetic remnants of Black Hawk’s band at the “battle” of Bad Axe on August 2, 1832 — being so distressed by their suffering as to personally rescue a wounded native child from atop the body of its dead mother. Three days later, Anderson wrote in heartfelt disgust to one of his brothers that he had observed scenes of “misery exceeding any I ever expected to see in our happy land. Dead bodies, males & females, strewed along the road, left unburied, exposed — poor, emaciated beings.”
Later that same month of August 1832, U.S. Col. Zachary Taylor ordered Anderson and First Lt. Jefferson Davis to conduct the captive chieftain Black Hawk and about 60 of his followers to Jefferson Barracks, south of St. Louis, during which trip Anderson became a lifelong friend of the future Confederate President. And as a result of his participation in this campaign, Anderson was promoted to First Lieutenant in the regular U.S. Army as of June 30, 1833, and assigned to garrison duty at Fort Constitution in New Hampshire through 1834 and much of 1835.
Ordered to then report to the U.S. Military Academy as its new Assistant Instructor of Artillery, he arrived at West Point on September 10, 1835 and was promptly elevated to the senior position as of December 1, 1835, due to the unexpected resignation of his superior. Anderson would occupy this teaching position over the next two years, some of his student-cadets including such future luminaries as William T. Sherman, Braxton Bragg, Irwin McDowell, George Meade, Joseph Hooker, Jubal Early — and P.G.T. Beauregard, whom Anderson personally selected to serve as his tutorial assistant.
Seminole War & Artillery Theorist (1837-1845)
Seeking active duty once more, Anderson departed West Point on November 6, 1837, to serve in Florida in the renewed conflict against its Seminole Indians. He took part in the “action of Locha-Hatchee” on January 24, 1838, and five weeks later led Company D of the 3rd Artillery — escorted by 200 mounted Tennessee volunteers under Maj. William Lauderdale — on a trail-blazing march from Jupiter to New River, where they erected a blockhouse and stockade near the ocean which would be named “Fort Lauderdale” by March 16, 1838. Anderson was also felled shortly thereafter by malaria and other tropical ills, which would weaken his constitution and leave him subject to sporadic fevers throughout the remainder of his life, yet nonetheless had recuperated sufficiently to be in command when 45 Seminoles were captured near Ft. Lauderdale on April 2, 1838, winning himself promotion to brevet Captain for his “gallantry and successful conduct” on that occasion. After fighting in another skirmish in the Everglades on April 24, 1838, Anderson was made aide-de-camp that same May 9th to his friend Maj.-Gen. Winfield Scott, and subsequently served in the sad forced-march of the Cherokee Nation westward to the “Indian Territory” of Oklahoma, the so-called Trail of Tears.
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Sickened in both body and spirit by these experiences, Anderson was appointed by a sympathetic Scott as his Assistant Adjutant-General for the Eastern Department on July 7, 1838, and accompanied the General to his headquarters in New York City. In addition to his staff duties, Anderson also began translating a French field-artillery manual in 1839, his initial draft being completed next year — which proved to be so lucid when compared to other existing American treatises, that Scott in July 1841 ordered this work continued and expanded. Anderson had also unsuccessfully attempted to get a bill introduced into Congress in January 1841, which would create “Military Retreats” where invalid soldiers might be housed and cared for after being discharged from service.
The September 16, 1841 edition of the Army and Navy Chronicle (Volume 12, Number 37, Whole Number 350, Page 296) published an order which had been issued eight days previously by Brig. Gen. John E. Wool at Troy, New York, in which it was announced that he was assuming command over the Eastern Division of the U.S. Army, with Anderson retained on its small divisional staff as Assistant Adjutant-General. However, since Anderson was shortly thereafter assigned to a separate board of officers, with instructions to produce a definitive U.S. field-artillery manual, he was transferred to serve as a Captain in the 3rd Artillery Regiment as of October 23, 1841, and relieved of his duties as Assistant Adjutant-General of the Eastern Division six weeks afterward so as to concentrate upon this project.
While engaged in this technical study and compilation, Anderson met Eliza “Eba” Bayard Clinch, the eldest daughter of a prominent Georgia plantation-owner and retired U.S. Army General, Duncan Lamont Clinch, who was living stylishly as a Southern belle in a New York City hotel because of her frail health. The 36-year-old Anderson and 20-year-old Eba were married in a small private ceremony presided over by the Rev. Martin P. Parks (the U.S. Military Academy’s Chaplain and Bishop-elect of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Alabama) on Saturday, March 26, 1842, the bride being given away by General Scott, as a close personal friend of both the groom and of the absent General Clinch. The couple would eventually have four children together, three daughters:
- Eliza McIntosh Clinch Anderson, born in 1848;
- Maria Latham Anderson, born in Ohio in October 1849;
- and Sophie Clinch Anderson, born at Fort Preble in Maine on December 10, 1852
as well as a son born in New York City on February 17, 1859, and christened as Robert Anderson, Jr.
Over the next couple of years after his marriage, Captain Anderson’s board expanded and enhanced their material by drawing upon British sources, as well as receiving many practical contributions from serving American officers and specialists in the private sector. The final results were submitted for approval and authorized for publication by the Secretary of War William Wilkins on March 6, 1845, the first copies of a book which was to be 166 pages long and illustrated with 69 plates being printed by Joseph Robinson in Baltimore, Maryland, becoming the standard U.S. Army manual for this branch of the service and being repeatedly reissued over ensuing decades under its title of Instructions for Field Artillery, Horse and Foot.
Fort Moultrie, Mexican War & Recuperation (1845-1860)
His field-artillery manual completed, Anderson requested a return to active line-duty and in 1845 was put in command of Company G of the 3rd Artillery, then part of the garrison at Fort Moultrie. William T. Sherman was one of his three subordinates, serving as his junior First Lieutenant. After a year of rising tensions over the imminent annexation of Texas, which the Mexican government was threatening to contest, Anderson’s company was ordered to depart Moultrie for Fort Marion in Florida on May 21, 1846, and eventually joined General Scott’s expedition to open up a second front in the Mexican War, by landing outside of Veracruz in early March, 1847.
Scott had naturally offered Anderson a position on his staff, but the latter begged off so as to see combat. His battery participated in the bombardment of this Mexican port-city, and was also present at the Battle of Cerro Gordo and a skirmish at Amozoque, as the small American army pressed inland. Anderson’s old feverishness and chills recurred, but he had recovered sufficiently to lead a contingent in the crucial assault against the Molino del Rey strongpoint outside of the Mexican capital on September 8, 1847. Fighting his way inside of this vast building, Anderson almost died from several wounds which he received before being relieved two hours later, and would carry a musket-ball in his right shoulder for the rest of his days.
Promoted to brevet Major for his “gallant and meritorious conduct” during this assault, he returned home to convalesce for a year, and resumed actively promoting his idea of a nation-wide system of “Soldiers’ Retreats” to receive and care for sick or disabled veterans. He himself was assigned to return to light garrison-duties at Fort Preble, Maine, in 1848, where he also became a member of the local Portland Natural History Society. Then in July 1849, Anderson was once again delegated to help devise and compile “a Complete System of Instruction for Siege, Garrison, Seacoast, and Mountain Artillery,” participating along with four other officers — his former Academy classmates Benjamin Huger and Charles F. Smith, as well as brevet Lt.-Col. F. Taylor of the 1st U.S. Artillery and newly-promoted Capt. John W. Phelps of the 4th Artillery —to produce an extensive, well-illustrated Instruction for Heavy Artillery manual by August 1850, which was published in May 1851 and remained the standard text on this subject for American artillerists over the next decade-and-a-half.
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By now in his late 40s, Anderson was retained on light administrative duties in the peacetime Army, leaving his station at Fort Preble overlooking Portland Harbor in Maine to assume the office of Governor of the Harrodsburg Branch Military Asylum in his native Kentucky — an institution which he himself had founded — on June 11, 1853, and remaining in that posting until November 1, 1854. After a brief stint as a member of the Board for the Armament of Fortifications from early November 1854 until early April 1855, he was employed from July 20, 1855 to November 15, 1859 (presumably with the backing of his friends General Scott and the Secretary of War, Jeff Davis) as inspector of the ironworks being manufactured for public projects under U.S. government contracts at Trenton, New Jersey — only a two-hour trip by train from New York City, which afforded him leisure time to spend with his wife and family, who were living in a luxurious suite in the Brevoort House Hotel.
During this latter interlude, Anderson’s promotion to full Major in the 1st U.S. Artillery Regiment also came through on October 5, 1857. Anderson was subsequently seated on another board arranging the new program of instruction for the Artillery School for Practice at Fortress Monroe, and to yet another board on July 18, 1860 (along with his friend, newly-reelected Senator Jeff Davis of Mississippi), to “examine into the organization, system of discipline, and course of instruction at the U. S. Military Academy.” It was while engaged in these peaceful pursuits, that the 55-year-old Anderson was suddenly ordered by telegram on November 12, 1860 to travel from New York City to Washington for an interview with the Secretary of War John B. Floyd, and three days afterward instructed to depart New York City once more —this time to assume command over beleaguered Fort Moultrie outside of restive Charleston.
Defense of Fort Moultrie & Sumter (1860-1861)
His old commander, Lieutenant-General Scott, had apparently selected Anderson for this delicate task because of his Southern connections, level-headedness, and apolitical inclinations. Anderson arrived at Moultrie on November 21, 1860, and continued the on-going strengthening of its defenses against a feared South Carolinian takeover. He and his officers nonetheless were convinced that its tiny garrison of less than 70 U.S. gunners lay hopelessly exposed within their low-lying fort, vulnerable to any sudden mass-assault from among the encircling civilian dwellings.
Anderson therefore surprised the authorities in both Charleston and Washington, by unexpectedly evacuating his entire force from Moultrie on the evening of December 26, 1860, and transferring his command across the harbor-mouth into much more defensible Fort Sumter. Yet after three-and-a-half months of encirclement in that stronghold, with his supplies almost exhausted, the threat of possible reinforcement by the U.S. government prompted Confederate shoreline batteries to at last open fire at 4:20 a.m. on April 12, 1861. After bravely resisting for 34 hours, Anderson agreed to surrender to his former student Beauregard, and be evacuated for New York City as the Civil War erupted.
Final Years (1861-1871)
Anderson emerged a shattered man from his tense, five-month ordeal at both Moultrie and Sumter, who — although hailed as a hero throughout the North — would never see active duty again. When the steamer Baltic arrived at Sandy Hook outside of New York Harbor at 10:30 a.m. on the morning of April 18, 1861, Anderson immediately sent a telegram ashore to be transmitted to Washington, reporting on his surrender of Fort Sumter. His ship then proceeded into port, being greeted by ringing bells and whistles from every anchored vessel, and he disembarked at the Battery to a tumultuous welcome from cheering crowds. Escorted through this throng, he was reunited with his family at the Brevoort House hotel, and besieged with requests for appearances and interviews.
Two weeks later, Anderson traveled from New York through Philadelphia on May 3, 1861, having been summoned to report to Washington. He was promoted to Colonel in the U.S. Army shortly after reaching the national capital, received lavish praise from President Lincoln, then was ordered on May 7, 1861 “to receive into the Service of the United States, as many regiments of volunteer troops from the State of Kentucky and from the Western part of the State of Virginia, as shall be willing to engage in the service” for three years. (It has furthermore been recorded that Anderson became so idolized during his White House visit by the President’s youngest son Tad, that the eight-year-old boy often carried a carte-de-visite bearing the “hero of Sumter’s” image, and even insisted upon having his photograph taken beside it.)
The newly-promoted Colonel departed Washington for New York again three days afterward, escorting Mrs. Mary Lincoln part way, and regaining Brevoort House by the morning of May 11, 1861. The New York papers reported on his promotion to Colonel, and subsequent departure for his native Louisville on May 14, 1861 to take up his new command, travelling via Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Cincinnati. While still en route, Anderson was made a Brigadier General in the regular U.S. Army as of May 15, 1861, and arrived to officially assume command of the Department of Kentucky thirteen days afterward.
Anderson was furthermore placed in nominal command of the Department of the Cumberland from that same August 15, 1861, but played no further role during the next four years of conflict. He was instead simply classified as “waiting orders” for the next couple of years, from October 8, 1861 until the summer of 1863, performing such ceremonial functions as escorting Mrs. Mary Lincoln on a visit to the Brooklyn Navy Yard on October 29, 1862. After attending the commencement ceremonies at Yale University in late July of that latter year, Anderson was put in command as of August 19, 1863 of the reserve garrison holding huge Fort Adams, the headquarters and recruiting-depot for the 15th U.S. Infantry Regiment under Col. Oliver L. Shepherd at the northern end of Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island. Yet within three weeks of assuming command of that installation, Anderson confessed that he was no longer capable of performing even such light administrative-functions, and so he was allowed to depart Fort Adams to resume residence in New York City as an unattached staff-officer for the Eastern Department and his name was officially retired from the active roster as of October 27, 1863, “for disability resulting from long and faithful service, and wounds and disease contracted in the line of duty.”
Retained on the books as a staff-officer of the Eastern Department, Anderson was given a brevet promotion to Major-General on February 3, 1865, and invited to sail from New York City with his family to Charleston Harbor aboard the U.S. transport Arago, so as to be present when his old Sumter flag was re-hoisted over its blasted remnants on April 14, 1865. He died six-and-a-half years later in Nice, France, on October 26, 1871, and lies interred in the cemetery at West Point.
Barnard, George Norman (1819-1902)
Northern-born Civil War photographer, who took numerous scenes of Fort Moultrie on behalf of his Federal employers at this conflict’s conclusion, and subsequently settled and worked in Charleston for a couple of decades thereafter.
Birth & Early Life (1819-1845)
He had been born on December 23, 1819, outside the town of Coventry in Tolland County in north-central Connecticut, to a farmer named Norman Barnard and his wife Grace (née Badger). While still only a boy, George’s father had died in 1826, so that his mother moved the family to Sauquoit in central New York State and young George would spend much of his childhood living with relatives, and apprenticing in various family-owned businesses. Their widespread Congregationalist family was known to be religiously devout, committed to the virtues of education, culture, and social responsibility.
In 1833, Barnard’s sister Pauline Gaskill, with whom he was then living, moved with her husband to Nashville, Tennessee, and later on to Gallatin, where the teenage George spent several years. He had returned to New York State by 1842 and was living again with other family members in Sauquoit, before getting married at 23 years of age to 20-year-old Sarah Jane Hodges on January 24, 1843, with whom he would eventually have two children: a daughter named Mary Grace, and a son who died in infancy.
Pre-War Successes (1846-1859)
First, though, the young couple moved to Oswego in 1845, where George became co-manager of the Oswego Hotel, before giving up this position a year later to pursue a full-time career as a daguerreotypist, opening that town’s first photographic studio. It is unknown how Barnard had learned this profession, although he would later claim to have been working at it since 1842 (a mere three years after Louis Daguerre had presented his method before the French Academy of Sciences in Paris in early January 1839, and the French government had then offered the secret of his technique as “free to the world” that same August 1839). A praise-filled article in the Oswego Palladium newspaper on March 9, 1847, stated that Barnard:
...at his rooms in the Palladium Building (southwest corner of West First and Cayuga Streets), is taking some of the finest pictures, we have ever seen. They seem to be fully equal to Plumbe’s [a prominent contemporary New York City photographer]. Mr. Barnard is one of our most meritorious citizens, and we hope those wanting anything in his line will give him a call.
He seems to have soon enjoyed considerable local success, his daughter Mary Grace being born on November 19, 1849, after which Barnard announced on July 1, 1851, that he was relocating his studio to new rooms “over E.P. Burt’s store” at 137 West First Street in Oswego and:
...has perfected a powerful sky-light, yet so mellow that he has enabled to take the likenesses of children and all others, in a few seconds, with perfect ease to the sitter; retaining a natural expression.
By January 1853, Barnard and his small family were residing in a fine home at 105 East Fourth Street and he owned a spacious new studio occupying the third floor of the City Bank at 147 West First Street, his well-provided establishment including a “Reception, Operating Room, Toilet Room, and other apartments for the convenience of the patrons and the sales of wares, chemicals, etc.”
He was in this studio at 10:30 on the quiet Tuesday morning of July 5, 1853, when a devastating fire broke out in the Fitzhugh & Company’s flour mill on the eastern banks of the Oswego River, being quickly propelled by a strong wind out of the west through the wooden grain-elevators towering amid its crowded maze of factories. The heat grew so intense, that it could be distinctly felt on the opposite shoreline, more than a quarter-mile upwind.
Barnard rushed his cumbersome camera outside and from near West Oneida Street at the head of West Cayuga Street, one block east of his studio, photographed southeastward across the river toward the terrifying spectacle of the Ames and Doolittle Mills going up in flames. This dramatic daguerreotype, plus a second more distant view of the smoldering aftermath of this blaze — showing eight blocks or 50 acres of Oswego’s Second Ward reduced to ashes — are widely considered to be the first “live-action” news photographs ever taken. [Small contemporary “reduced-copy” daguerreotypes of their originals were purchased for a few dollars at an auction in 1960, and are today preserved in the Still Photograph Archive of the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.]
Three months afterward, Barnard attained further distinction when Edward Anthony — owner of the leading photographic supply-house in New York City — sponsored a daguerreotype competition, for which ten leading photographers submitted four pictures apiece, vying for the princely sum of $500 in prize money. Samuel Root won for his grouping of studio portraits, yet shortly thereafter Henry Hunt Snelling editorialized in the influential Photographic and Fine Art Journal (Volume VII, Number 1, Page 6):
... we trust that it will not be deemed out of place to say a few words in regard to the pictures contributed. Of the whole forty daguerreotypes, but two were composition — all the rest were portraits — a class of pictures rendered more easy to perfect, on account of the continued practice, and consequently apt experience of the manipulator. We therefore look upon the man who can step aside from the beaten track, and produce an artistic composition, worthy of honorable mention, superior to him who can simply produce a perfect portrait, just in proportion as that composition is more difficult and artistic.
Snelling then singled out two daguerreotypes for special praise, in particular declaring that Barnard's study of a Canadian wood-sawyer and his young son — posed beneath the sky-light in his Oswego studio, as if resting from their labors over their midday lunch — was “almost perfect.” Indeed, his “Wood-sawyers, Nooning” is still considered to be an iconic example of early American photography.
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That same December 1853, Barnard went into partnership with Alonzo Nichols of Fulton, New York, opening a subsidiary operation by buying John M. Clark’s existing studio in the “Granite Store” — also known as 4 Franklin Building — at 128 East Genesee Street in Syracuse, New York. Barnard personally supervised his gallery’s allotted new layout, as that building (which still stands today as part of the historic Franklin Buildings at 124-132 Genesee Street in downtown Syracuse) was just then undergoing an expansion, while Nichols was to maintain the Oswego operation. By 1854, Barnard was also advertising the new ambrotype photographic process at another studio at 6 South Salina in Syracuse, followed soon after by paper prints and tintypes. However, he seems to have suffered an illness around this same time, too, for a card survives which informed the public in May 1854 “that Mr. Barnard has recovered from his sickness, and has just returned from New York with a large variety of goods.”
Barnard evidently sold his trio of studios three years later — possibly as a result of the nation-wide economic downturn resulting from the Panic of September 1857 — to instead pursue the development of a method which he had invented, whereby a collodion negative could be transferred directly onto a printer’s block, thereby bypassing the need for an artist’s drawing, and for which Barnard had been awarded a prize by the American Institute. He also worked in partnership with John Homer French to produce the New York State map and gazetteer which was published in 1859.
New York City, Niagara, and Cuba (1859-1860)
Barnard moved to New York City that same year of 1859, having been hired by Edward Anthony of the famed photographic-supply firm at 501 Broadway to take stereographs for popular sale. It is possible that Barnard’s first assignment may have been to visit Niagara Falls, where the French daredevil Jean-François Gravelet — better known as “The Great Blondin” — began a series of sensational tightrope walks across that raging gorge as of June 30, 1859. During his initial traverse, Blondin lowered a rope to a boat far below and hoisted up a bottle so as to refresh himself halfway across, as well as performing a backward somersault. On subsequent walks made during the next couple of summer months, he memorably crossed over his tightrope on a bicycle; blindfolded; while pushing a wheelbarrow; pausing to cook an omelet; shuffling along with hands and feet manacled; and then on August 19, 1859, Blondin even carried his manager Harry Colcord across on his back.
Barnard is known to have taken a large number of photographs at the Falls which E. & H. T. Anthony published as a series of stereographic cards entitled The Majesty and Beauty of Niagara, a few of which featured Blondin’s exploits. That following summer, Barnard evidently traveled to Cuba as well, his Views of Cuba — taken in and around Havana during June and July of 1860 — being copyrighted and published as a series of 177 stereographic cards that same year, as well as being reissued in 1863. (A sampling of nineteen of these Cuban cards are conserved today by the Library of Congress with the call number LOT 2809 (S) [P&P]; another large group of this stereographic series is held in the Tom Pohrt Photograph Collection in the Merrick Library at the University of Miami, plus numerous other institutions as well.)
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Toward the end of 1860, Barnard was commissioned — together with his former assistant Jacob F. Coonley and a few other photographers — by Mathew Brady’s manager, the Scots-born Alexander Gardner, to make copy negatives in carte-de-visite style of all the portraits of distinguished people which Brady had accumulated on daguerreotype plates during his fifteen years in business. These were to be used to fulfill a lucrative contract which Gardner had negotiated with Edward Anthony, “which paid the Brady studio the phenomenal sum of $4,000 per year for rights to publish and sell, over Anthony’s imprint and Brady’s name, cartes de visite of illustrious Americans.” Barnard was also apparently summoned during the first week of February 1861 to Brady’s studio in Washington, D.C., where he furthermore assisted in taking portraits and photographed Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861.
Early Civil War Coverage: Defense of Washington (Spring 1861)
With the outbreak of the Civil War six weeks later, Barnard moved to the national capital on a more permanent basis and became actively engaged in taking pictures, particularly of military sitters for Brady, and was moreover recorded in May 1861 as having worked independently in collaboration with C. O. Bostwick in photographing members of the 7th New York State Militia Regiment, while it was deployed on an emergency basis in defense of Washington, D. C. This fashionable unit was nicknamed the “Silk-Stocking Regiment” (although they preferred to be known as the “Gallant Seventh”), being comprised of 1,050 well-to-do members of New York high society. The 7th had paraded out of its armory at the foot of Third Avenue and departed New York to help defend the U.S. capital on April 19, 1861, being one of the earliest regiments to arrive in support of the Union.
Mustered into temporary U.S. service for a period of thirty days as of April 26, 1861, the Seventh then remained bivouacked in Camp Cameron, on Meridian Hill overlooking the Potomac River from May 2-23, 1861, receiving visits from such notable dignitaries as Pres. Abraham Lincoln and Maj. Robert Anderson, . Eventually, they were marched across the Potomac as part of the large Federal force which occupied Arlington Heights, Virginia, and assisted in the construction of Fort Runyon from May 24-26, 1861. Immediately thereafter, this regiment returned back across the Potomac into Camp Cameron for a few more days, before leaving Washington altogether to be mustered out of service and restored to civilian life in New York City by June 3, 1861.
During this brief and bloodless excursion, many of its wealthy members had posed for photographs in their encampment to preserve as mementos, numerous of which were simultaneously being sent and offered for sale as albumen prints back in New York. More than three-dozen of these pictures still survive today, although it is not known exactly how many of these portraits were personally taken by Barnard and sent to Anthony for publication in New York.
First Civil War Battle: Manassas or Bull Run (Summer 1861)
Barnard was seemingly also still working on behalf of Anthony that following month, when Maj.-Gen. Irwin McDowell led an army of 35,000 green Union troops into Virginia and was defeated during the confused First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. Precise details about individual photographers’ participation during that campaign is still lacking today, although the American Journal of Photography would report only ten days after this clash, that two photographic “parties” had accompanied McDowell’s army on its offensive. Brady himself was recorded as having travelled to the battlefield with two wagonloads of equipment and assistants, along with the newspaper reporters Richard C. “Dick” McCormick of the New York Evening Post; Edwin H. “Ned” House for the New York Tribune; and the artist Alfred R. “Alf” Waud of the New York Illustrated News.
However, Brady then lost much of his photographic equipment and the few glass negatives which he had managed to take, through damage due to the jostling of his wagons during the precipitate Federal flight back into Washington. Bob Zeller, in his book The Blue and Gray in Black and White, posits that the leader of the other photographic “party” which had accompanied the Union army to the First Battle of Bull Run, and who is described in this same August 1, 1861 American Journal of Photography article:
... as having taken a “fine stereo-view of the famed Fairfax Court House,” was an Anthony and Company photographer, because such a photograph turned up in their catalogue described as having been taken “just after the Grand Army passed to fight the battle of Bull Run,” and that the photographer was quite possibly George Barnard, who worked at times for both Anthony and Brady. [Robert Wilson, Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), Page 107.]
Renewed Fieldwork into Virginia (March 1862)
It would not be until almost eight months later, during the second week of March 1862, that Confederate forces unexpectedly fell back south of the Rappahannock from around Manassas Junction, Centreville, and Fairfax Court House, allowing McClellan’s Army of the Potomac to push back into Northern Virginia once again. Barnard and another of Brady’s associated photographers — James F. Gibson — accompanied these Union forces as they probed forward, being much better equipped for this renewed round of campaigning, having since acquired a large-format 8 x 10-inch field camera and a stereo camera, which permitted them to produce high-quality negatives in the field. (They seem to have often mounted these two cameras very close together so as to take a single picture of a scene, after which adjustments could be made, and a second, final glass negative recorded.)
Barnard and Gibson used a tent mounted on a wagon as their darkroom, inside which they could develop the latest “wet plate” or “wet collodion” photographs — a process whereby glass plates were coated with a mixture of collodion and halide salt, then dipped in a silver-nitrate solution so as to be exposed within a camera-box while still moist, and the resultant negative hastened back into the darkroom so as to be processed immediately. (Once the collodion had dried, no photograph could be revealed.) In this fashion, Barnard and Gibson took about 60 pictures of Harper’s Ferry and the Bull Run battlefield during their March 1862 excursion into Northern Virginia, slightly more than half of which were subsequently purchased by Brady, while the remaining 28 were to be copyrighted under the joint credit of “Barnard and Gibson” — although on the understanding that these pictures too, would appear under the rubric of “Brady’s Album Gallery”.
Peninsula Campaign: "Barnard & Gibson" (April-May 1862)
Next month, Union Maj.-Gen. George B. McClellan opened up a new front by transferring the bulk of his Army of the Potomac to Fortress Monroe in southeastern Virginia, so as to disembark in strength on its Peninsula and advance threateningly upon the Confederate capital of Richmond. All evidence suggests that although many photographs would be recorded from the opening two months of this new offensive under the joint credit-line of “Barnard & Gibson”, they were in fact not taken with the assistance of Barnard — who instead remained at work in Brady’s Washington studio throughout May and June 1862, apparently developing and copyrighting the prints.
Copyrighted as of May 5, 1862 under the joint credit of “Barnard and Gibson” (although on the understanding that these pictures would appear under the rubric of “Brady’s Album Gallery”). “Entered according to an Act of Congress, in the year 1862, by Barnard & Gibson, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of Columbia.”
According to Roy Meredith’s Mr. Lincoln’s Cameraman, Brady himself personally accompanied McClellan’s campaign into Virginia at the beginning of April 1862, departing Fortress Monroe with Gibson, David B. Woodbury, and John Wood, plus two mobile darkrooms. The army pushed inland on April 4, 1862, and next afternoon halted almost within sight of the defensive works at Yorktown, which were besieged by the Union army over the next month. Brady and his assistants made numerous pictures around Camp Winfield Scott, especially as the weather improved.
A view of General McClellan’s tent at Camp Winfield Scott outside Yorktown, Virginia, on May 1, 1862, was attributed to “Barnard & Gibson.” A number of photographs taken two days afterward are attributed to Barnard, showing the French Prince de Joinville and a few retainers eating from a plank set atop a tree-stump “at Camp Winfield Scott near Yorktown, Virginia,” on May 3, 1862, as well as another showing them playing dominoes; one each of these prints was presumably purchased and copyrighted by Brady, as they were later published as Views 356 and 358 of Brady’s Civil War Album of 1864. as of May 5, 1862
On May 14, 1862, Barnard apparently photographed Allen Pinkerton and his agents as they rested in their camp “at Mr. Toller’s house” near Cumberland, Virginia, and three days later photographed “Colonel Lee's residence, formerly the residence of Mrs. Custis Washington,”
(The Samuel Proal Hatfield Civil War Photograph Album, 1861-1865, which is today held by the Special Collections of the Olin Library at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, contains some interesting notations for these photographs, as the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery participated in the siege of Yorktown and advanced up the York River from that captured city on May 16, 1862.)
It appears as if Barnard himself did not actually arrive on the Peninsula from Washington until late June 1862, as he is credited with taking a trio of somber pictures of the overgrown St. John’s Church cemetery amid the ruins of Hampton on July 2, 1862 (a city which had been torched by its Confederate defenders eleven months previously), one of which views would later be published as No. 465 in Brady’s gallery of albumen prints. In all, Barnard took more than two-dozen stereoscopic photographs around Hampton and Yorktown, yet it would be Gibson’s earlier work during the Peninsula campaign which would garner the greatest critical acclaim once Brady personally presented them next month at his New York Gallery. The July 22, 1862 edition of New York’s Evening Post newspaper, reported how a new exhibit had just opened in Brady’s “gallery, corner of Broadway and Tenth Street,” with large albumen prints and smaller cartes de visite containing views “of the war in Virginia,” including such scenes as:
Here is the gateway to Yorktown, a rude work of wood, flanked by a rude wall - a sort of caricature on the gates and walls of old York, in England. Here is a battery near Yorktown, with gloomy, death-dealing mortars, crouched behind a protective earthwork; here is the entrance to Cornwallis’ cave, converted into a magazine by the Confederates; here a view of one of the batteries on York river, curiously constructed of wood, clay, and sandbags ...
The reporter even added as a revealing detail how “at the recent retreat to the James River, one of them [Brady’s associates] lost his photographic apparatus.”
Withdrawal from the War & Return to Oswego (September 1862-November 1863)
At the end of that same summer, Barnard took a break from war photography and instead returned to Oswego, where the September 23, 1862 edition of the Oswego Commercial Times ran an ad by Tracy Gray, proprietor of a local photographic gallery, which declared that:
Having secured the services, for a limited period, that celebrated artist, George N. Barnard, (formerly of this city, and late from Brady’s Gallery, Washington), we desire to inform those of our citizens who would secure Cartes de Visite, or Photographs of superior style of workmanship, equal, if not superior to any taken in this country, will find Mr., Barnard at Gray’s Gallery, at the East end of the Iron Bridge, where he will be pleased to see his old customers and former acquaintances and friends.
Barnard apparently concentrated on civilian portraiture for the rest of 1862 and most of 1863, far removed from the war.
Civil War Coverage: — Southern Theater (December 1863-February 1865)
In December 1863, Barnard was hired to work with the Topographical Branch of the Department of Engineers of the Army of the Cumberland, under the direction of Capt. Orlando M. Poe. Barnard arrived in Nashville by February 1864, and was made head of photographic operations, his work consisting of photo-duplication of maps, plans, and other materials relating to military construction and special subjects assigned to him by Poe, who was in command of the 1st Michigan Regiment of Engineers and Mechanics. Poe proved supportive enough as to instruct his photographer:
It is not to be understood that your labors are limited to these points ... Should the time at your disposal admit of it, you can take views of celebrated houses, scenery, &c. — but this must not interfere with the more important object of the expedition.
Maj.-Gen. William T. Sherman assumed command of the Army of the Cumberland at Chattanooga in March 1864, and prepared to strike into Georgia. Barnard apparently had three cameras at his disposal — a handheld stereo camera, a 12x15 inch model, and a larger 18x22 inch camera — and so satisfied his immediate boss Poe, that the latter wrote in a letter to his superiors justifying Barnard’s salary of $6.75 a day, saying that it was impossible for him to “obtain a sufficient number of draughtsmen to enable me to perform the work which Mr. Barnard does”.
After the fall of Atlanta on September 2, 1864, Barnard was summoned from Nashville on Sherman’s orders, departing for Georgia with his equipment by rail on September 11, 1864, and spending most of October making photographic copies in Atlanta of top-secret maps needed by the Federal Army for its “March to the Sea”, as well as taking pictures of Confederate fortifications, railroad yards, private homes, and city streets. When Sherman’s huge army finally departed Atlanta in November 1864, Barnard was assigned two mules, a covered wagon, and an African-American driver so as to accompany them, although he took no photographs during the march as the Union columns were almost constantly on the move through difficult terrain, until they reached Savannah in December 1864. Poe then left Barnard behind in Savannah when Sherman continued his campaign into the Carolinas early next year, duplicating maps of the march-route, until Barnard was allowed to depart for New York City on January 23, 1865, and enjoy 30 days of home-leave.
Charleston and Fort Moultrie (March-April 1865)
After this month-long respite, Barnard arrived in occupied Charleston by ship from New York City in early March 1865, remaining for several weeks to photograph the bleak devastation in that city. His photograph of the Vendue Range is specifically dated as having been taken on March 13, 1865, while Harper’s Weekly would also explicitly identify an engraving of “Ruins in the Heart of Charleston — View from King Street” published on Page 428 of its July 8, 1865 edition, as being based upon a picture taken “by George N. Barnard.” He also appears to have taken numerous views of captured Forts Moultrie and Johnson during this visit, as well as of the preparations for the ceremonial restoration of Fort Sumter’s flag on the four-year anniversary of its removal by Maj. Robert Anderson in April 1861, which had initiated the Civil War.
It is known that Barnard then rejoined Poe in Washington by May 1865, and continued working for him there until July 1, 1865. Next year, after being discharged and enduring an unsatisfactory return home to New York, Barnard travelled through Georgia and South Carolina once again, taking additional photographs of the war’s devastation for a book of photographs which he intended to publish. The local newspaper in Augusta, Georgia, reported his visit there on June 4, 1866, after which Barnard continued on to Columbia and eventually Charleston, where he photographed desolate Fort Sumter and other scenes.
Following the publication of his album, Barnard worked again in Syracuse and New York City for a couple of years, before then — his marriage having permanently failed — relocating to Charleston in 1868, where he created a new life for himself by forming a portrait-studio partnership with the already-established Charles J. Quinby. (Barnard’s former colleague, Jacob F. Coonley, had managed Quinby’s gallery for a time after the war.) Together, Barnard and Quinby won a prize as the best photographers at the South Carolina Institute Fair in 1870, but they apparently sold their joint venture’s 4,000 negatives to Bertha F. Souder in May 1871, when Barnard moved to Chicago at the insistence of his sister — although he continued paying taxes throughout this absence on his Charleston properties.
Interlude in Chicago (1871-1873)
Arriving in this booming city in Illinois to make a fresh start, Barnard initially opened a gallery with a partner named Matthews at 29 Washington Street. However, at 9:00 p.m. on October 8, 1871, a conflagration began less than a mile southwest of downtown, in a barn near the intersection of Jefferson and Taylor Streets. Lamentably, the city’s firemen — exhausted after battling a twenty-acre blaze west of Chicago for fifteen hours the previous night — responded slowly, then were sent to the wrong address, so that by the time they finally confronted the fire, it was raging uncontrollably in twenty-mile-per-hour winds. Flames raced from block to block throughout that night, and across wooden river-bridges, precipitating a city-wide panic. Hydrants ran dry next dawn when the waterworks burned to the ground, and a cold rain eventually quenched the flames at 3:00 a.m. on October 10th.
A swathe of destruction a mile wide and four miles long had nevertheless been carved through Chicago, almost every structure between Harrison Street to the south and Chicago Avenue on the north, and between the two branches of the Chicago River to the west and Lake Michigan on the east, having been consumed — some 17,000 buildings in total, representing a material loss of $250 million, which would bankrupt several local insurance companies. Some 300 individuals had also perished, and another 90,000-100,000 of Chicago’s 335,000 residents had been left homeless, with winter about to set in.
Barnard lost his own new gallery to this fire, yet managed to borrow some equipment and photograph the devastation, publishing a series of stereographic cards entitled Among the Ruins of Chicago from a temporary studio established at 376 Van Buren Street. He used his camera to record the reconstruction efforts which followed, being listed as sharing a studio with Briggs L. Rider at 335 West Madison by early 1873.
Return to Charleston and Final Years (1873-1902)
Barnard returned to Charleston that same July 1873 to buy back his former studio at 263 King Street from Mrs. Souder for $7,000, and continued to take remarkable images over the next seven years. In 1875, he supplied 61 photographs from which engraved printing-plates were made to illustrate a pictorial guide of Charleston, but lost much of his stock to a fire that same year. Two of his pictures of city wharves were used to produce engravings for the January 1878 edition of Harper’s Weekly, and for a few months in 1879, he also operated a branch studio at the corner of Main in Republican Streets in Sumter, even recruiting the Canadian photographer J. C. Fitzgerald of Peterborough, Ontario, to assist him there.
Barnard eventually sold his diminished stock for $5,000 to Frank A. Nowell and moved in 1880 to Henrietta, a suburb of Rochester, New York, to be near his daughter’s family. He remarried — in fact, to his son-in-law’s widowed mother Emma Jane Chapin Gilbert in 1881 (Barnard’s divorced first wife Sarah dying in New York City on March 25, 1884) — and worked in collaboration with George Eastman in nearby Rochester as a demonstrator to promote his company’s new gelatin dry-plate process. In 1884 Barnard, his wife, and his daughter’s household moved to Painesville, Ohio, where he opened a studio and dry-plate manufactory with Horace W. Tibbals, before the family moved again four years afterward to Gadsden, Alabama. Barnard finally retired for good in 1892 and returned to Cedarvale, near Syracuse, where he died at his daughter’s home during a bad snowstorm on February 4, 1902. His obituary was published in Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin, Volume 33, Number 4 (1902), pp. 127-128.
Bragg, Braxton T. (1817-1876)
Prickly U.S. Artillery subaltern who was stationed at Fort Moultrie for two years early during his career, and went on to become a famed Confederate army commander.
Birth & Education (1817-1837)
Born on March 22, 1817, in Warrenton — a small town of less than 1,000 people, set amid the tobacco fields of North Carolina’s Warren County — he was the fifth of six sons, and eighth of twelve children of an industrious local carpenter and contractor named Thomas Bragg, and his wife Margaret (née Crossland). According to legend, their infant’s unusual first name was chosen to honor Carter Braxton, a Virginia planter who had been one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Seven years prior to his birth, Braxton’s quick-tempered mother had taken offense against a comment made to her on the street by a free black youth, so had shot and killed him. Jailed on a charge of manslaughter, her husband had hired a prominent local attorney, who won an acquittal from an all-white judge and jury on grounds of “self-defense.” Thomas Bragg had paid off this legal debt by building the lawyer a fine new house, yet his wife’s reputation never recovered from her brief incarceration. In class-conscious Warrenton, the Braggs were regarded as of an inferior status, and her young son Braxton would apparently grow up ashamed of his mother. His biographers later noted how among the hundreds of letters which he wrote throughout his lifetime, Braxton often commented fondly about his father, yet never once mentioned his mother’s name after she died on January 8, 1835.
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At the age of seven, Braxton was enrolled in the Warrenton Male Academy, only two blocks west from his family home. He proved a bright student, a teacher even noting approvingly four years later that he was of a “tractable and docile disposition,” who would excel in Latin and mathematics. Bragg’s father therefore decided to seek him admission to West Point, so as to embark young Braxton upon a military career. Such an appointment was attained after the eldest son, John Bragg, passed the bar and was elected to the state legislature in 1830, where he arranged a couple of years later with U.S. Senator Willie P. Magnum and Warrenton’s own U.S. Congressman, Micajah T. Hawkins, for 16-year-old Braxton to be nominated to the United States Military Academy in March 1833.
Arriving there by mid-June 1833, his physical exam recorded the teenage plebe as being five feet, ten inches in height and weighing 130 pounds. He easily excelled in his studies at West Point, and unexpectedly jumped from fourth-year private to the rank of cadet Captain when a number of his classmates turned down this same promotion during a widespread protest by upper-classmen. His contemporary Joseph Hooker (later a prominent Union General) would remember Bragg as “bright and energetic,” admiring his “manliness, independence, and unbending integrity,” although others found Bragg to be opinionated and tactless.
Service in Florida (1837-1843)
He graduated in the summer of 1837, fifth in a class of 50 cadets which included such notable future Civil War commanders as Hooker, John C. Pemberton, Jubal A. Early, and John Sedgwick. Commissioned on July 1, 1837 as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment, Bragg cut short his home-leave in Warrenton to join his regiment next month at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. Initially serving as assistant commissary officer and in training recruits, he shipped out in October 1837 for Florida with the rest of the 3rd Artillery under its controversial second-in-command — Maj. William Gates, recently court-martialed for cowardice — to participate in the Second Seminole War. Bragg served as regimental adjutant from that same November 1837 at its field-base of Fort Marion, near St. Augustine, without seeing any combat. However, he soon began to suffer from a feverish malady which swept throughout its garrison, so received medical leave in March 1838 to return home to North Carolina to convalesce.
When his regiment was subsequently ordered to Tennessee to help supervise the forced relocation westward of thousands of Cherokees, Bragg immediately wrote to the U.S. Army’s Adjutant-General, arguing that his physician felt “a trip to the mountains of the Cherokee might prove beneficial” to his recuperation. Bragg was therefore allowed to rejoin his regiment by June 1838, to take part in the pitiless deportation known as the “Trail of Tears.” While thus engaged, his promotion to First Lieutenant came through on July 7, 1838, but Bragg was once more weakened by the fever contracted in Florida. Granted a second three-month leave in December 1839, he reported back from Warrenton to Washington in March 1840, being temporarily stationed for a month at Philadelphia, before being reassigned to light recruiting-duty at Fort Columbus, on Governors Island in New York Harbor.
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Shortly after arriving there, Bragg formally accused its commandant — Col. Josiah H. Vose — of lying, and demanded his prosecution. Both the Adjutant-General and senior commander of the Eastern Department, Maj.-Gen. Winfield Scott, were astonished by this impertinent demand from such a junior officer, and refused to act on Bragg’s charge. It has since been speculated that the mercury-laced calomel routinely prescribed during the mid-19th Century for ailments such as Bragg’s recurring fevers, may have begun gradually poisoning his system, and over time would exacerbate his innate antagonism and paranoid distrust of others.
When he had gathered sufficient recruits for the 3rd Artillery by late September 1840, Bragg was ordered to sail with them for Florida, despite his objections at not being allowed to proceed with any legal action (the charge against Colonel Vose being simply left ignored). He grudgingly departed New York with his men aboard the transport Zenobia on November 23, 1840, accompanied by Second Lt. George H. Thomas, another future Union General with whom he would become lifelong friends. Placed in command next month of a company garrisoning Fort Marion near St. Augustine, Bragg remained at that outpost until June 1841, followed by a second stint in that same capacity from July 1842 to March 1843.
Only 23 years old at the time of first being given this independent command, Bragg proved a stern disciplinarian, and such a stickler for regulations as to become a difficult subordinate for his superiors as well. Ulysses S. Grant, who knew Bragg during this period, would later recall him as a “remarkably intelligent and well-informed man,” but with an:
... irascible temper [who] was naturally disputatious … [As] a subordinate he was always on the look-out to catch his commanding officer infringing on his prerogative; as a post-commander he was equally vigilant to detect the slightest neglect.
Yet although unloved by his men, Bragg wrote tirelessly on their behalf to the various department heads in Washington, seeking to improve his soldiers’ provisions and living conditions, his stream of complaints to senior U.S. Army officials — eventually including the Adjutant-General and Paymaster — growing increasingly blunt in tone.
Controversial Fort Moultrie Tenure (1843-1845)
When the Second Seminole War officially concluded in August 1842, Bragg’s Company E of the 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment was rotated out next spring to Fort Moultrie, arriving there on April 5, 1843. Overcrowded and still undergoing repairs from a hurricane which had roared through that previous autumn, it would be Bragg’s station for the next two years. During this period, he would cement friendships with his two immediate Company E subordinates, George H. Thomas and John F. Reynolds, as well as with Lt. William T. Sherman of Company G. However, Bragg also remained so prickly as to publicly insult the garrison commander, Lt.-Col. William Gates, when he asked the 26-year-old First Lieutenant to join him for a drink at the sutler’s quarters. Regarding Gates as a weak and inferior commander, Bragg had ungraciously retorted: “Colonel Gates, if you order me to drink a glass of wine with you, I shall have to do it.”
He furthermore challenged an editor of the Charleston Mercury newspaper to a pistol-duel, for having referred to North Carolina as “a strip of land between two states” during a July 4th speech. Reynolds and Sherman had succeeded in diffusing this confrontation, by persuading the editor to apologize. And more notoriously, Bragg also began penning a series of critical articles from Moultrie entitled “Notes on Our Army”, which appeared anonymously in the pages of the Southern Literary Messenger as of February 1844. Written under the pseudonym of “A Subaltern” and addressed to leading politicians of that day, they featured pointed attacks against the policies of the U.S. Army’s commander-in-chief, Maj.-Gen. Winfield Scott, referring to him as a “vain, petty, conniving man.” Bragg also included lengthy criticisms of Army administrative practices, with his own recommended solutions.
His articles quickly came to the attention of U.S. Representative James G. Clinton, a New York Democrat and political opponent of Scott, who wished to embarrass the Whig General and dim his Presidential aspirations. Clinton therefore invited Bragg to testify before his House Committee on Public Expenditures, so that the young officer requested a 30-day leave from Moultrie and departed for Washington on March 1, 1844. Bragg had not informed Colonel Gates (a friend of Scott’s) of his design, but another officer stationed at Moultrie — Lt. Erasmus Keyes, a former aide to the General-in-Chief — wrote to warn Scott that Bragg was the anonymous “Subaltern,” and in the national capital to consort with his political foes. The General therefore had a peremptory query sent to Bragg on March 20, 1844, ordering him to return to his post if he was not in Washington on official business.
Bragg replied somewhat evasively, and Clinton overrode any qualms which the young Lieutenant might have experienced about proceeding with his testimony, by officially subpoenaing Bragg to appear before his Committee six days later. Angry, Scott had Bragg arrested immediately thereafter and sent to Fortress Monroe, Virginia, to be court-martialed on April 2, 1844, for disobedience to orders and disrespect toward his superior officers. Bragg conducted his own defense (with the help of his eldest brother John) and attempted to turn the trial into a condemnation of Scott, using the balance of his allotted question-period to insult the commanding General on the witness stand. Yet when the verdict was pronounced, Bragg had only been found guilty of the lesser charge of disrespect, and so received an official reprimand from the Secretary of War, plus suspension from duty at half-pay for two months — relatively mild punishments. Still, even his biographer would later marvel at how these actions had:
… established Bragg’s distinction as the most cantankerous man in the Army. He had been court-martialed and convicted; he had been censored by the Secretary of War, the Adjutant-General, and the Commander of the Eastern division. No other junior officer could boast of so many high-ranking enemies. Both the Commander of the Third Artillery and the Commanding General of the United States Army hated Bragg. His future in his regiment and in the Army seemed most uncertain.
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Others supported his views, however, so that an undeterred Bragg would continue to write his stream of “anonymous” articles in the pages of the Southern Literary Messenger for another year. The June 1844 edition even included a letter of rebuke objecting to his tone, from officers of an “unnamed fort” — which Bragg assumed to be some of his own Moultrie colleagues. He returned to duty there on June 27, 1844, and was reassigned to his old living-quarters. This suite was “not only uncomfortable, but considered uninhabitable,” another officer would later recall, “owing to the heat and the ... insects which a want of circulation of air accumulated,” further attracted by a waste-room located nearby.
When Bragg learned in late October, 1844 that Lieutenant Thomas would soon be rejoining from detached service, and that a private house outside Moultrie’s compound was to be leased for his residence, Bragg requested this house for himself. Gates refused on the grounds that it had not yet been leased. Once Thomas did return, though, this house was instead given to Lt. William H. Churchill — a recently-married young officer — while Thomas was assigned to Churchill’s vacated suite in Moultrie. Bragg consequently filed a formal complaint with Gates on November 22, 1844, arguing that the Colonel had been wrong to deny him his rights according to rank. Gates replied that he found Bragg’s protest “objectionable in tone and language,” who therefore responded in a more pleasing manner on November 26th — but at the same time asking that the matter be forwarded to headquarters. Gates retorted testily four days later, declining this latest request and repeating his complaints about Bragg’s “disrespectful” attitude. Bragg formally requested a hearing before a court of appeal on December 1, 1844, causing the Colonel to angrily accuse him of “making a serious matter out of a trifle.”
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A four-member court of inquiry was nonetheless convened to sit at Moultrie at 10:00 a.m. on January 16, 1845, chaired by Lt.-Col. Thomas Childs. Since Gates had gone into Charleston on business, though, they had to wait until he returned later that same afternoon, to begin their proceedings. Bragg thereupon submitted a clutch of documents as evidence, and paraded seven witnesses to the stand. When a verdict was rendered five days later, it upheld his prerogatives in choice of quarters, and his right to appeal Gates’s denial. An opinion subsequently appended to this verdict by Brig. Gen. John E. Wool, head of the Eastern Division, further admonished the Colonel for his “unmilitary and undignified correspondence” in this matter, doubtless intensifying Gates’s dislike of Bragg.
Yet this distaste by his base commandant, may well have helped hasten Bragg’s departure for the front. As relations with Mexico began to fray in that same spring of 1845, over America’s impending annexation of Texas, Bragg requested three months’ leave on June 18, 1845 to arrange his personal affairs. Instead, this was denied and he was ordered to begin preparing Company E, departing Moultrie eight days afterward aboard the brig Hayne, the first unit to sail for New Orleans. There he was to assume command over four light artillery-pieces and teams of horses, reorganize his company into a field-artillery formation, and proceed “as expeditiously as possible” to join the brigade which Brig. Gen. Zachary Taylor was gathering in anticipation of the forthcoming conflict.
Mexican War Service (1845-1848)
Bragg’s company reached New Orleans by July 19, 1845, and although the promised field-pieces and horses were not yet available, he and his went aboard the transport Alabama four days later as infantrymen, so as to accompany Taylor’s army as it cleared for Corpus Christi. A protracted layover thereupon ensued on St. Joseph’s Island, several months during which Bragg, Reynolds, and Thomas accoutered and trained their 72 gunners as a “light-artillery” unit [which meant that their artillerymen served dismounted, hitching rides on the guns or wagons whenever these were being moved; only Capt. Samuel Ringgold’s battery was outfitted as “flying artillery,” with special saddles and seats so as to carry his gunners into action].
After eight months of unsuccessful diplomatic wrangling, during which the American army remained miserably encamped at Corpus Christi, Taylor finally advanced toward Matamoros on March 8, 1846. Six days later, while suffering from thirst as they pushed across the arid Texan desert, Bragg distinguished himself by finding a spring of water, which “practically saved the army.” Arriving at the riverbank opposite Matamoros by March 28, 1846, Taylor’s force erected a star-shaped earthwork dubbed Fort Texas, and settled down for another wait. There were numerous cross-river defections into the Mexican base over the next few months, including one of Bragg’s two black slaves.
Then after a patrol under Capts. Seth B. Thornton and William J. Hardee had been ambushed and captured by a Mexican column, Taylor led his main army northeastward on May 1, 1846, to secure his supply-lines from Port Isabel. Maj. Jacob Brown remained to hold Fort Texas with an infantry regiment and two field-batteries, including Bragg’s. This garrison weathered eight days of Mexican bombardments and assaults, before Taylor returned to relieve them. Bragg was promoted to Brevet Captain effective as of May 9, 1846 for his “gallant and distinguished conduct” during this defense, followed by promotion to full Captain in the regular U.S. Army as well on June 18, 1846. A few weeks afterward, he furthermore served as defense counsel at the court-martial of Captain Thornton, winning his acquittal.
Bragg led his battery from Matamoros deeper into Mexico on August 5, 1846, overtaking Taylor’s main army nine days later at Camargo. Assigned to the division of Brig. Gen. David E. Twiggs, the American invaders advanced on August 19, 1846, across the desert to assault the city of Monterrey by September 20th. Its stubborn garrison was subdued, but not defeated by three days of bloody thrusts and street-fighting, in which Bragg’s guns were not able to really distinguish themselves. He was nonetheless brevetted as a Major in the aftermath of the Mexicans’ negotiated withdrawal, backdated to September 23, 1846. A lull in the fighting in northern Mexico thereupon ensued as Taylor’s forces occupied towns and dug in for the winter, during which Gen. Winfield Scott also visited in early January 1847 to select units for a second front which he was to inaugurate by landing at Veracruz. Not surprisingly, he did not choose Bragg’s 150-man battery to join this expedition.
Instead, Bragg was still encamped with General Taylor south of Saltillo when word was suddenly received at dawn of February 21, 1847, that the Mexican commander-in-chief Santa Anna — alerted to American weaknesses by captured correspondence — was fast approaching with his main army. Taylor ordered his outnumbered forces to fall back and brace to receive them at La Angostura or “The Narrows” near Buena Vista, checking the initial Mexican onslaught on the afternoon of February 22, 1847. Next day, repeated assaults were hurled back all day long, the U.S. field-artillery proving invaluable throughout this desperate resistance. Bragg’s battery performed admirably, at one point saving the 1st Mississippi Rifles Volunteer Regiment under its Col. Jefferson Davis from annihilation, so that Bragg was brevetted immediately after the battle to Lieutenant.-Colonel. Newspaper accounts furthermore reported that Taylor had allegedly called out during at the height of this action for “A little more grape, Captain Bragg,” which became a popular catch-phrase throughout America.
Yet once Scott landed at Veracruz early next month to open up his second front, Santa Anna was obliged to retire south to defend Mexico’s national capital, leaving Taylor in unchallenged possession of northern Mexico. Bragg spent the remainder of the war on garrison-duty in and around Monterrey, a period of enforced idleness in its torrid climate during which his strict discipline came to be resented by his gunners. While asleep in his tent on the night of August 26, 1847, Bragg was almost murdered when someone lit a twelve-pound shell loaded with canister within a few feet of his bunk. Miraculously spared, he endured a second, almost identical assassination attempt only two months later.
Post-War Service and Resignation into Private Life (1849-1860)
On June 4, 1849, Bragg applied for a marriage bond in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, and three days afterward married Elizabeth “Elise” Brooks Ellis; they would have no children together. Bragg’s 72-year-old father Thomas, Sr., died at Jackson in North Carolina on January 31, 1851, and Bragg himself resigned his U.S. Army commission effective as of December 31, 1855, instead purchasing the “Leesburg” sugar-plantation near Thibodeaux in Lafourche Parish on February 5, 1856, for $145,000, and renaming it “Bivouac” Plantation.
Bragg was appointed by the Confederate government on March 6, 1861, to assume command over the Florida militia forces which had occupied the Federal installations around Pensacola Harbor, arriving four days later to relieve the 62-year-old local landowner and Maj.-Gen. William Henry Chase. Bragg found that he only had 1,100 men under his command, rather than the 5,000 promised, and their situation “in a most deplorable condition.”
At the conclusion of the Alabama project, Bragg moved to Galveston, Texas, accepting the job of inspector of a large railroad. While walking alongside a roadbed on September 27, 1876, he suddenly fell and was carried to a nearby drugstore, where he died. An inquest attributed the cause of death to “fatal syncope, possibly induced by organic heart disease.” His body was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama.
Byrne, Bernard Miles (1807-1860)
Irish-born U.S. Army surgeon, who died while serving as Fort Moultrie’s medical officer, shortly before South Carolina’s secession and the outbreak of the Civil War.
Birth & Early Life (1807-1827)
Notwithstanding some contradictory information in family histories, it appears as if Bernard was born in 1807 at the ancestral Byrne home of Ballinderry House [commonly referred to as “Ballinderry Grove Hall” in American genealogical records], in County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland. He was seemingly the fifth of what would eventually be eight children born to Brian or “Bernard” Byrne, Sr., and his wife Mary Russell. As a child, young Bernard apparently received some early education at Trinity College in Dublin, but at the age of eleven, his father suffered some financial reverses, and so sold off his properties in order to emigrate with his family to America. Legend has it that the Byrnes sailed from Liverpool aboard the ship Ontario, and disembarked at Alexandria, Virginia, on August 16, 1818.
From there, they continued on to Maryland, to temporarily join one of Brian Byrne’s old friends who had emigrated earlier from Dublin, Francis O’Hart. When the territory of Florida was annexed into the United States three years later, the senior Byrne purchased 9,000 acres of virgin land along the St. John’s River in 1821, to begin clearing it as a tobacco-plantation which he would name “Wicklow.” A Seminole raiding-party burnt down its main house a couple of years afterward, but the Byrnes rebuilt and reoccupied it — although such perils may have compelled the relocation of at least some family members to the relative safety of Pikesville, Maryland.
Medical Studies (1828-1835)
Teenaged Bernard must have figured amongst this latter group, as he began studying toward a career in medicine at the University of Maryland, like his older brothers Lawrence and Charles. According to Eugene Fontleroy Cordell’s The Medical Annals of Maryland (1899, Page 340), young Bernard graduated from this university’s “Chirurgical Faculty” in 1828 with a medical degree, in addition to having won that institution’s esteemed Latin Medal prize. He was retained almost immediately as a physician by the supportive Hibernian Society in Baltimore, but Bernard’s father died in February 1829 (apparently from injuries suffered after being thrown by a horse).
More than four years later, his 26-year-old son and namesake would distinguish himself once again by publishing An Essay to Prove the Contagious Character of Malignant Cholera; With Instructions for its Prevention and Cure in October 1833, and young Bernard Byrne became a regular contributor to the 1834 Baltimore Medical and Surgical Journal and Review. He also apparently served as “prosecutor” to the Professor of Anatomy at Washington College, New York.
Military Enlistment & Initial Frontier Service (1836-1844)
Byrne was nominated, interviewed, and selected as a top candidate to become an Assistant Surgeon in the U. S. Army as of May 20, 1836, his appointment being announced on Page 46 of the Army and Navy Chronicle edition of July 14, 1836 (Vol. III, No. 2, Whole No. 80). As was common for successful applicants to such a medical position, Byrne would serve with the rank of First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army for his “first five years of service,” after which he would be promoted to Captain. Initially stationed at Fortress Monroe, Virginia — where Maj. John L. Gardner happened to be in command of Company A of the 4th U.S. Artillery Regiment at that time — Byrne was subsequently ordered to report to Washington when his unit sailed for Florida to participate in the Second Seminole War. He arrived in the national capital on October 18, 1837, to be directed six days afterward to “temporary duty at Fort Hamilton,” New York (Army & Navy Chronicle, Vols. 4-5, pp. 266 and 272).
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However, Byrne must have been deployed to Florida very shortly thereafter, and would spend much of the next several years on extended tours in that state. It is known that he was stationed at Fort Gilleland in 1838, where in addition to his regular duties, “he attended the sick among the settlers who had been collected within the fort.” Byrne later claimed that he did so under a special understanding with the post commandant, that he would receive a $100-a-month honorarium from the U.S. government, over and above his Army salary. A petition was duly presented on his behalf before the House of Representatives on January 7, 1839, “for remuneration for professional services to troops in the service of the United States” (Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 3rd Session of the 25th Congress, Washington: 1839, p. 205), although it would eventually be denied nineteen years later.
That same summer of 1839, the Army and Navy Chronicle (Vols. 8-9, p. 61), reprinted an article from the St. Augustine News which reported that:
Dr. Bernard M. Byrne sailed on the 10th instant [of July 1839] in schooner Medium, on leave of absence. Dr. B. has been in Florida for the last three years, actively and permanently engaged in field duty.
The subsequent August 29, 1839 issue of this same publication (Vol. IX, No. 9, Whole No. 243, Page 142) included the official notification of: “Leave for three months to Ass’t. Surgeon B. M. Byrne.” He apparently visited Washington on September 16, 1839 (Ibid., No. 12, Whole No. 246, Page 185), as well as again on November 20, 1839 (Ibid., Page 831).
Byrne must have been back in Florida by next year, though, before the January 22, 1842 issue of the Army and Navy Chronicle (Pages 11 and 14) mentioned that Byrne had been in the national capital yet again on December 27, 1841, and temporarily assigned to Fort Hamilton. The Register of the Army of the United States for 1843 nonetheless listed Byrne on Page 6 as being back in Florida once more, and sixteen years later, a witness during Byrne’s court-martial would testify how during that summer of 1843, Byrne had been dispatched from St. Augustine to help contain a yellow-fever outbreak on Key West, which was effectively checked. The Register of the Army of the United States for 1844 listed him on its Page 8 as being stationed at Fort Marion, although the July 10, 1844 edition (Vol. 30, Num. 23) of The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal noted among its “Medical Miscellany” on Page 467: “Assistant Surgeon B. M. Byrne permitted to proceed to New York for examination, for promotion.”
Mexican War (1845-1848)
As expectations of a war with Mexico escalated, Byrne was sent in late 1845 to join Gen. Zachary Taylor’s army marshalling at Corpus Christi, Texas, and mentioned as having been temporarily left behind “with a detachment of troops guarding stores at St. Joseph’s Island,” when this force pushed southward to the Mexican border next spring. Byrne nevertheless rejoined in time to be present at the opening Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de las Palmas, as well as the subsequent actions at Monterrey, Saltillo, and Buenavista, being noted in dispatches for having carried the famed field-artillery commander “Ringgold from the field when he was fatally wounded.” After fighting jumped much farther south into Central Mexico with Gen. Winfield Scott’s disembarkation at Veracruz, Byrne remained as part of the occupation force in northern Mexico, being listed in a report dated February 1, 1847, as the assistant director of the U.S. Army hospital in occupied Monterrey.
Once hostilities ceased and the American armies returned home, the Register of the Army of the United States for 1850 showed Byrne as being stationed in Central Florida once again — this time at lonely Fort Gardner, located just north of Lake Kissimmee — although he must have been transferred shortly thereafter to the Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri, where he performed bravely during the cholera epidemic of July 1850, plus those that struck at New Port Barracks in Kentucky in September 1851 and May 1852.
Sometime between these latter two events, Byrne’s brief compilation entitled Letters on the Climate, Soils, and Productions of Florida had been published by the newspaper offices at Jacksonville in 1851, while on a personal note he had married Louisa Matlack Abert — the daughter of Col. John James Abert, chief of the U.S. Topographical Engineers — on November 18, 1851 in Washington, D.C. They would have three children together: an eldest son christened Charles Abert, a daughter Ellen Abert, and finally Bernard Abert.
Promoted to Major and Surgeon in the U.S. Army as of March 31, 1853, Byrne also decided next year to reissue his two-decades-old Essay to Prove the Contagious Character of Malignant Cholera in a revised edition, finalizing its written introduction on September 21, 1854, while stationed at Fort Vancouver in the “Washington Territory,” where he had been sent as Medical Director. This reedited treatise was published by Childs and Peterson in Philadelphia that following year, to favorable reviews. In January 1857, he was still listed (albeit erroneously as “B. W. Byrne”) as the Chief Medical Director and Purveyor for the U.S. Army’s Department of the Pacific, by then stationed at Benicia, California.
Moultrie Posting, Court-Martial & Death (1858-1860)
It is uncertain exactly when Byrne was assigned to Moultrie, although it seems likely that he was directed to succeed Asst. Surgeon Levi H. Holden in February 1858, but did not arrive to actually take up this new posting until April 1858, the earliest month for which reports signed by Byrne are recorded from this fort among the U.S. Army’s Returns from Military Posts. The American Medical Times would later report on Page 215 of its September 22, 1860 edition, that he had been “for three years Attending Physician of the Fort Moultrie Station on Sullivan’s Island” — suggesting that he must have arrived sometime early in 1858. Two artillery companies also disembarked at the fort from a lengthy campaign in Florida that same June 1858, to constitute Moultrie’s new garrison, and a number of these fresh arrivals began falling ill by late August 1858.
As the first deaths started occurring in early September 1858, and with more gunners falling sick every day, it became obvious that Moultrie was in the grip of a yellow-fever outbreak. A full-blown epidemic eventually infected a total of 49 soldiers and claimed the lives of 28. Byrne reported himself as ill only a week into this crisis, and remained in his leased civilian home with his family and servants for more than a month, while a hired doctor attended at Moultrie’s hospital. Angered by Byrne’s extended absence from his post throughout this critical period, Capt. Abner Doubleday — second-in-command of the fort — and two Lieutenants presented formal letters of complaint on October 7, 1858 to its commandant, Colonel Gardner, requesting that the surgeon be court-martialed for his “unprofessional conduct” during this outbreak.
Byrne’s trial was convened at Moultrie on March 26, 1859 by Brevet Brig. Gen. Sylvester Churchill, and after two weeks of testimony — during which Byrne was assisted in his defense by the prominent Charleston attorney, William E. Martin — he was acquitted, although with an admonition inserted into the verdict. Byrne remained on duty as the fort’s physician for another seventeen months, before falling ill and dying unexpectedly on September 6, 1860. He was succeeded by Capt. and Asst. Surgeon Samuel Wylie Crawford. Byrne’s widow Louisa received financial relief from the Federal government in 1862, and his son Bernard Abert Byrne went on to a distinguished military career in his own right, as well as several other members and descendants of the Byrne family.
Cook, George Smith (1819-1902)
Charleston photographer and portraitist who recorded many prominent figures, as well as scenes around Fort Moultrie and Charleston Harbor, both prior to and throughout the Civil War.
Early Itinerant Life (1819-1849)
Born on February 23, 1819 in the ancient town of Stratford, at the mouth of the Housatonic River on Long Island Sound a few miles from Bridgeport in Fairfield County, Connecticut, Cook was orphaned at an early age. Nothing is known about his parents, although he was christened with his father’s name as George S. Cook, Jr. Raised by his maternal grandmother in Newark, New Jersey, he departed there late in 1833 at the age of fourteen, to work his way down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Reaching New Orleans toward the end of 1837 or early 1838, his artistic talents led him to become an apprentice portraitist and miniaturist, painting images of wealthy local citizens while trying unsuccessfully to establish his own modest gallery — until he was introduced a few years later to a revolutionary new invention known as “daguerreotype” photography, reportedly learning its rudiments from William H. Harrington (who is known to have briefly operated such a shop in New Orleans early in 1842).
Cook possibly managed the gallery of H. G. Ely at 3 Exchange Place, until he failed to purchase the art gallery owned by portraitist George Cooke, then departed Louisiana altogether in the summer of 1845 to return home. He was back in New Jersey by October 4th of that same year, purchasing his own daguerreian equipment and perfecting the art of taking portraits in both Newark and New York City during 1845-1846, and even competing by submitting five frames to the American Institute exhibit (whose top prize was won both years by Mathew Brady). However, the 27-year-old Cook wished to develop his own photography business in a less crowded market, so married 30-year-old Elizabeth Smith Francisco of Newark in September 1846, and set out next month with his new bride and her young daughter Francesca or “Fannie” for St. Louis, Missouri.
Quickly amassing $300 from photographic portraits which they took of local gentry, the newlyweds continued in January 1847 down the Mississippi and Cumberland Rivers, pausing to work such towns as Natchez, Memphis, and Nashville. Cook seems to have established a string of subsidiary galleries throughout Alabama — at Huntsville, Athens, Florence, and Tuscumbia — from the summer of 1847 until January 1848, his method consisting of offering classes in daguerreotype techniques to local students, then leasing or selling the studio to the most apt pupil upon his departure. The Cooks were on the move again through Georgia from August 1848 until August 1849, establishing galleries in Columbus, Warm Springs, Macon, Milledgeville, and LaGrange. Their first child was born to them in May 1849 in this latter town, and so was baptized as George LaGrange Cook.
Establishment in Charleston (1849-1860)
Now with two young children and wishing to settle down permanently, the Cooks set out for Charleston on September 12, 1849, arriving in South Carolina’s main seaport by October 10th. Cook was convinced that he could flourish in this growing city of 43,000 inhabitants, and so opened a gallery at 235 King Street (“over James E. Spear’s Jewelry Store”, opposite Hasell Street) offering daguerreotypes in “a new style with all the Colours,” as well as apparently winning prizes at the South Carolina Institute Fair. By 1851, he had prospered sufficiently to temporarily leave his Charleston gallery in an assistant’s care, when Cook was retained by Brady to manage his own renowned gallery at 205 Broadway in New York City, while the latter travelled to England to personally attend the “Fair of All Nations” Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London. Cook’s tenure in New York was supposed to extend until the end of 1852, but — ever ambitious — he also purchased a rival gallery from C. C. Harrison “in the La Farge building” at 293 Broadway, so that Brady cut short his European tour and hastened home to prevent the flourishment of such competition.
Closing his New York outlet and returning to Charleston by the spring of 1852, Cook introduced various new types of reproductions at his busy gallery, as well as painting commissioned portraits, plus further supplementing his income by offering training-classes in photography, as well as importing and stockpiling supplies to sell to other practitioners throughout the region. By 1856, he was doing so well that he revived his expansion plans, reputedly buying the gallery of Marcus Aurelius Root at the “southeast corner of Fifth and Chestnut Streets” in Philadelphia, which the latter had been intending to close so as to move his operation to New York City, before Root had been unexpectedly injured in a railroad accident. Next year, Cook also joined a Canadian partner named Samuel Montague Fassett in opening a gallery at 181 Lake Street in Chicago. The June 1857 edition of Harper’s Monthly (Num. 15, Pages 1-22) prominently featured a spread of engravings of “Charleston: The Palmetto City,” most of which illustrations had been etched from photographs taken by Cook. He seems to have spent a considerable amount of time in Philadelphia during this period, upgrading and moving the Root Gallery to 820 Chestnut Street by 1859.
Now grown quite wealthy, Cook purchased two plots of land back in Charleston on July 2, 1860, on fashionable South Battery Street, overlooking the White Point public gardens and with a panoramic vista across the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, as they flowed out of Charleston Harbor into the distant Atlantic Ocean. His properties lay on either side of a splendid Italianate-style villa with arcades and bracketed cornices, which had been erected seven years previously at 26 South Battery for Col. John Algernon Sydney Ashe, a rich planter, banker, and state politician. Cook would start construction of his own fine brick mansion with a stucco facade at 28 South Battery Street, while converting his half of an 18th-Century tenement at 24 South Battery into a rental property. (The other half of this tenement had already been torn down so that Nathaniel Russell Middleton, Charleston’s City Treasurer, might build his own splendid three-and-a-half story house at 22 South Battery in 1857-1858.)
On Page 8 of his 1994 Photographic History of South Carolina in the Civil War, Richard B. McCaslin declared that Cook’s portraits could:
... always be recognized by the distinctive vase of flowers in the background. Cook usually made three exposures per sitting, and boasted that he rarely had to reshoot a subject. If a customer did not agree that the image was the best he ever had, he was entitled to another sitting, which rarely happened according to Cook.
The official census for 1861 listed Cook’s gallery as having been moved into a brick building at 265 King Street, owned by the former Mayor of Charleston (and titular militia General), John Schnierle. Cook is furthermore mentioned in this same census as owning an unoccupied brick house at 12 South Bay Street.
Taking Major Anderson (February 1861)
As reconstructed by Bob Zeller in his book The Blue and Gray in Black and White, Cook received a letter dated January 11, 1861 from a fellow-photographer in Philadelphia named Walter Dinmore, who pointed out that a picture of Major Anderson would sell very well in that market and throughout the North. Dinmore therefore proposed to his Charleston colleague that: “If you can procure us a ½ plate ambrotype of him, we will copy it into photographs and divide the profits accruing from the sale.” Before that same month was out, Cook furthermore received similar letters from Edward Anthony and Thomas Fairs in New York City as well.
It was difficult for Cook to arrange a visit to the beleaguered fort, and especially to obtain permission from the South Carolinian authorities to be allowed past their patrols into Sumter, but he eventually secured a pass from Gov. Francis Pickens (thanks to the intercession of his pretty young wife, Lucy Pickens). Hiring a boat at the exorbitant price of $5.
Civil War Survival (1861-1863)
The English-born correspondent Thomas Butler Gunn recorded on Page 149 of Volume Fifteen of his personal diaries, how he had visited Cook’s King Street studio (an establishment which he had patronized before) on the drizzly Monday morning of February 11, 1861:
... where I saw the recently-taken portrait of Anderson and his officers. I should have got some items, but Cook had two lady sitters, and is not a communicative man.
Gunn therefore proceeded to Quinby’s studio to make his purchases.
When the escalating tensions between South Carolina and Washington finally erupted with the bombardment of Fort Sumter at dawn on April 12, 1861, Cook glumly noted in his business journal:
Shut up [i.e., his studio closed, not open for business].War, war, war.
Next day, he opened his gallery and made a few sales, before recording the surrender of Sumter’s Federal garrison in his journal that same Saturday afternoon. Cook would remain busily engaged over that ensuing month in taking portraits of more than 40 Confederate military men, as well as pictures of installations around the Charleston area and photographic copies of maps and drawings for General Beauregard.
Throughout the early years of this conflict, Cook was able to use his longstanding business and personal contacts in the North, as well as his affiliations with his Canadian partner Fassett and other associates in Britain’s overseas colonies, to continue bringing photographic supplies in through the Federal blockade. Vital chemicals such as iodides and bromides were smuggled into Charleston, sometimes under the guise of medicines. The New York City-based American Journal of Photography even commented in its September 1863 issue: “By favor of our British cousins, who run the blockade with powder and guns, our friend Cook of Charleston has still a precarious stock of photographic materials, and still makes a business in the shadows of the people.” Cook even personally invested in at least three blockade-runners himself, using them to import materials so successfully as to be able to supply other photographers in neighboring North Carolina and Georgia. He furthermore allegedly established a short-lived subsidiary studio in Columbus, Georgia, as well as remaining busily engaged in producing photographic copies of military maps and charts for General Beauregard.
Action-Photography Under Fire (September 1863)
In the aftermath of the Confederate evacuation of Battery Wagner and Morris Island, Cook volunteered in response to a wish expressed by the Confederate chief-of-staff in Charleston, Gen. Thomas Jordan, that a photographic record be made of the devastation suffered by Fort Sumter (now the frontline harbor defense), so as “to show to future generations what Southern troops can endure in battle.” Despite the dangers from persistent Union shelling, Cook had himself rowed out (with James M. Osborn acting as his assistant) to the badly-battered fort under cover of darkness on the night of September 7-8, 1863, so as to record the effects of its still on-going Union bombardments.
A flotilla of Federal monitors closed on the harbor entrance that same morning, to engage Fort Moultrie and other Confederate shore-batteries on Sullivan’s Island, as well as Sumter, in support of the USS Weehawken, which had run aground in a narrow inshore channel near Cummings Point. Amid these exchanges of gunfire, Cook climbed to the top of Sumter’s northeastern parapet and used a shattered gun-carriage as a tripod, to quickly take a pair of photographs of three of these Union monitors in action at a range of roughly two miles, before his presence was detected and drew fire from the stranded Weehawken. Cook reportedly later told a story of how a shell had passed close to him, then another knocked his plate-holder off the parapet into Sumter’s water-cistern, before he was at last ordered down because he was drawing unwanted fire on the defenders. He furthermore paid a soldier five dollars to retrieve his plate-holder.
Post-War Career (1865-1902)
With his home and studio in Columbia destroyed, South Carolina prostrate, Confederate resistance at an end, and lawlessness and poverty on all sides, Cook decided to risk returning to his house at 28 South Battery Street in occupied Charleston that same spring of 1865. The accompanying video at left shows his vacant home as it appeared at that time, still shuttered by its caretaker in late April of that year, although with its columns obligingly adorned with black bunting in mourning for the assassinated President Lincoln — just like the mansion right next door at 26 South Battery Street, which had been commandeered to serve as the headquarters for Maj.-Gen. John P. Hatch, who was in command of all the Union forces which were occupying the city and its district. The soldiers seen standing on guard in front of Hatch’s residence may be from the famed 54th Massachusetts, or 32nd Pennsylvania, as both of these regiments were known to be performing provost-duties in Charleston around this time. [The musical accompaniment for this video is the “Amy Waltz”, an 1854 composition by Charles de Janon, played on a 19th-Century parlor guitar by Lucas Gonze.]
Cook cautiously reappeared at his house to reopen it with his 26-year-old son George in May 1865 , as well as their old studio at 235 King Street shortly thereafter. By now a 47-year-old widower, Cook returned to Newark and on September 24, 1866, married Lavinia Elizabeth Pratt, a 29-year-old niece of his first wife, in the First Reformed Dutch Church and returned with her and his step-daughter to Charleston. The couple’s first and only child together, a boy christened Huestis Pratt Cook, would be born there on July 13, 1868.
Cook had shifted his Charleston gallery to 281 King Street by the summer of 1870, a small ad in the June 15th edition of the Sumter Times of Sumterville mentioning that “George S. Cook, Photographic Artist,” could offer “All the latest styles of Good Work done at this Gallery, and Warranted to Excel.” In January 1873, he purchased David and Daniel Bendann’s gallery at 1134 Broadway in New York City, which failed so that he closed it by May 1874. Cook consequently decided to try his luck again in Richmond, Virginia, travelling there in April 1880 to buy a gallery at 913 East Main Street, which had formerly been owned by David H. Anderson. Cook’s family followed that same August 1880, leaving the operation of his Charleston gallery to his eldest son, 31-year-old George Lagrange Cook. However, business in Virginia also remained so slow at first, the senior Cook was writing back to his Charleston creditor William S. Manning by late February 1881 that “while the business of this [Richmond] gallery last year from May to May was nearly $10,000, it has not reached half of that for the past nine months proportionally.”
His son George Lagrange followed him to Richmond in 1890, and eventually took over the business, so that the elder Cook could spend much of his time in semi-retirement at nearby Bon Air, Virginia. There, he suffered a stroke on November 25, 1902, and died two days later in his home, the funeral service being held “at the Presbyterian Church near that place” before his body was conveyed for burial in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery.
Crawford, Samuel Wylie (1827-1892)
U.S. Army doctor who was transferred into Moultrie shortly before South Carolina’s secession, and later wrote a detailed account of the evacuation of this fort’s garrison and their subsequent bombardment within Sumter, the action which ignited the Civil War.
Birth & Education (1827-1850)
Crawford had been born on November 8, 1827, at his family’s 300-acre farm named Alandale along the banks of the Conococheague Creek in Franklin County, at that time lying four miles outside of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (and about 25 miles west of Gettysburg). His parents were the Rev. Samuel Wylie Crawford, Sr. — who as a child had been brought north from his native Charleston, South Carolina, after the death of his parents — and Jane Crawford (née Agnew), originally from New York State. His Presbyterian minister father was just then serving as the principal of the Chambersburg Academy, but in April 1831 he resigned to head up the “Academical Department” and teach theology at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His eldest son John Agnew Crawford would be enrolled into that institution of higher learning at the age of fifteen in 1837, followed five years afterward by his middle son and namesake Samuel, Jr., when he was still only fourteen. The even younger Alexander McLeod Crawford would likewise follow his two older brothers into the University in 1845.
The eldest John eventually obtained a doctorate in Divinity, while Samuel, Jr. — who was commonly called by his middle name of “Wylie” by both family and friends, throughout his lifetime — received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1846, a Master’s next year, and a medical degree three years afterward. His thesis entitled “An Essay on Hypertrophy and Atrophy,” presented on February 4th and defended on March 28, 1850, is still preserved today in that University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Shortly after graduating from his medical studies on April 6, 1850, his father arranged with Joseph R. Chandler for the 22-year-old Wylie to appear before a board which was sitting in New York City, to examine applicants for commissions as assistant surgeons in the U.S. Army. Travelling to New York in anticipation of this interview, Crawford was the guest of First Lt. Thomas Jackson of the 1st U.S. Artillery Regiment, then stationed at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn (who a dozen years later would become the famed Confederate commander “Stonewall” Jackson, and inflict a stinging reverse upon Crawford’s Union brigade at the Battle of Cedar Mountain).
Military Service (1851-1860)
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Crawford stood first among the six candidates who were accepted by this examination board, and was duly commissioned as an Assistant Surgeon and brevet First Lieutenant in the regular U.S. Army as of March 10, 1851, having already set sail from New York for Texas that same February 1851 as a civilian “acting Assistant Surgeon” with a party of 160 recruits, so as to immediately take up his initial posting with the 8th U.S. Infantry (Mounted) Regiment. He was mentioned that same year in the “overland journal” recorded by Dr. Samuel W. Woodhouse, surgeon-naturalist of the Sitgreaves Expedition which was exploring the Southwestern Borderlands recently acquired from Mexico, and Crawford was apparently further promoted to Captain in the Army as of May 1851, although — being rated as a staff officer because of his medical role, rather than as a field-officer — he would be usually referred to as simply “Assistant Surgeon S. W. Crawford, U.S. Army” throughout the first decade of his career.
Crawford served at various outposts such as Fort Croghan on Hamilton Creek near modern Burnet, Texas (his monthly reports from April 1851 until March 1852 still being held among the U.S. Returns from Military Posts), as well as at Fort McKavett on the San Saba River in what is now Menard County from March 1852 until September 1853, where he studied the effects of alcoholism among its garrison and according to Joseph J. Woodward’s book Outlines of the Chief Camp Diseases of the United States Armies, experimented with combating scurvy by issuing the juice of lamb lettuce (fedia radiata) and poke-weed (phytolacca decandra) to the men. Finally, Crawford became permanently assigned early in January 1854 to the “Post of El Paso” — which was renamed Fort Bliss, New Mexico, as of March 8, 1854 — and where he would remain over the next two years, supplementing his regular duties by sending specimens of various local animals and reptiles to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. During this tenure, Crawford also learned Spanish and familiarized himself with the Mexican inhabitants of its district, so that upon being ordered to return to the Eastern United States at the end of his five-year tour, he requested a leave-of-absence from the U.S. Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, so as to travel through Mexico on his homeward journey.
This request granted, Crawford departed El Paso with a wagon-train bound into the interior of Mexico in early October 1856, intending to highlight his visit by attending the great fair at San Juan de los Lagos, which was celebrated every December. (His journal for this foray deep into Mexico is conserved in the Archives of the Arizona History Museum, with call-number MS 951.) However, upon reaching Mexico City on October 23, 1856, and presenting himself before the newly-arrived U.S. minister John Forsyth, Jr., the latter — impressed by Crawford’s fluency in Spanish and ability to travel throughout that country — asked that the young medical officer delay his trip to Washington, and even wrote to the War Department so as to secure an extension of Crawford’s leave that would allow him to remain temporarily in Mexico as an auxiliary member of the American legation.
While residing in the Mexican capital, Crawford also met a party of scientific visitors from Prussia, who were exploring and recording the natural history of Mexico. In mid-January 1857, he accompanied them on an excursion to the great snow-capped Popocatépetl volcano, starting up its ashy slopes at dawn from the village of Amecameca near its base. After climbing for hours up past the snow line, Crawford was the only one out of this group to reach the 17,800-foot-high crater with a single local guide. Next morning, he furthermore climbed the nearby Iztaccihuatl volcano as well, and afterwards ascended Popocatépetl once again, spending a night at its summit and descending into its crater next day, returning with specimens of sulfur, basalt, and lava (which he subsequently donated to West Point). For these feats, Crawford would be elected a member of the Geographical Society of Mexico.
Crawford then departed the Mexican capital shortly thereafter with a consignment of dispatches from Forsyth and regained Washington, D. C., by February 25, 1857, along with another of the Minister’s aides. The local Washington correspondent for the Pennsylvania Inquirer reported how:
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Col. [Charles] Butterfield, with Dr. S. W. Crawford of the U.S. Army, both bearing important dispatches from Mexico, arrived in Washington this evening, and are now at the National [Hotel]. Col. Butterfield brings the long-looked for treaty, and has been closeted with Mr. Marcy [U.S. Secretary of State William L. Marcy] ever since his arrival.
… Doctor Crawford, who is a native of your city, has recently made some astonishing ascents of the volcanoes of the Valley of Mexico. He ascended the “Popocatépetl” with but one guide, being the only one of some twenty who started to make the ascent. He subsequently returned, and ascended the “Iztaccihuatl”, a feat never before accomplished, and has demonstrated the fact that no crater exists on its summit.
He re-ascended the Popocatépetl, and spent an entire night in the crater, in which he was lowered a distance of some six hundred feet by rope tied round his waist. We understand that the Doctor is preparing a report on the subject, which cannot fail to be exceedingly interesting. (New York Evening Express, Saturday, February 28, 1857.)
Crawford’s own more fulsome account of his expedition to the Mexican volcanoes was to be published in the March 3, 1857 edition of the Washington American (Volume 2, Number 16, First Edition), and get picked up by numerous other American newspapers as well.
The 29-year-old Assistant Surgeon was then posted by the U.S. Army’s Medical Department in May 1857 to Fort Adams at peaceful Newport, Rhode Island, but a year later he was sent back out West again in May 1858 — first to Jefferson Barracks in Missouri for a month, then to travel with troops of the 2nd U.S. Infantry Regiment from the troubled town of Fort Scott, Kansas, up to Fort Randall in the “Dakota Territory” [modern South Dakota]. They wintered over there from August 1858, before departing on the “Sioux Indian Expedition” next May 1859 to push even further across the prairie wilderness into Fort Laramie by that same August 1859, where they would winter over once again. While isolated at that very remote frontier-station, The Medical and Surgical Reporter journal back East would mention on Page 72 of its October 8, 1859 edition [Vol. III, Num. 2 or Num. 155, Whole Series] how: “Assistant Surgeon S. W. Crawford has been ordered to repair to New York City, thence to report by letter to the Surgeon-General of the Army.”
Assignment to Moultrie (1860)
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Unable to be recalled and depart from snowbound Fort Laramie, Wyoming, until March 1860, Crawford returned East for routine “examination and promotion” by the Medical Department, after which it was further mentioned on Page 90 of the August 4, 1860 edition of the American Medical Times how: “The leave of absence heretofore granted to Assistant Surgeon S. W. Crawford, has been extended until the 30th of September next [i.e., September 30, 1860].” However, while Crawford was breakfasting with friends in Newport, Rhode Island, on the morning of September 7, 1860, he received an urgent telegraph from the U.S. Army’s Adjutant-General in Washington, D.C., directing him to “proceed forthwith to Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, and report for duty to the commanding officer of that station.” [The original telegraph, bearing the “letterhead of the Newport Telegraph Co.,” is preserved today in the Archives of the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.]
Travelling by train all day until he reached Charleston that same night, Crawford rested overnight at the Benson House Hotel before reporting next morning (Saturday, September 8, 1860) to Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, being immediately summoned to the adjacent civilian residence of Lt.-Col. John Lane Gardner to attend to a household servant, who had recently been tending to his late medical predecessor, Dr. Bernard M. Byrne — the belief being that this doctor had died of yellow fever, although it soon turned out to have been from non-contagious dengue or “broken-bone” fever. Crawford immediately thereafter assumed his medical responsibilities in Moultrie’s hospital, which was located in the Reservation behind the fort, and assessed the state of its garrison. Although the soldiers’ physical health was reasonably good, he could not help but notice the military weakness of the small and outdated seaside stronghold itself, which he would later summarize in his book Genesis of the Civil War [see excerpt under “Written Descriptions”] and which was about to become supplanted by much stronger Fort Sumter, nearing completion out in the bay.
As one of the very few doctors resident on Sullivan’s Island, Crawford also soon realized that he would be consulted by wealthy civilian patients from the summer villas around the base, many of whom promptly made his acquaintance and extended the hospitality of their homes, furthermore requesting that he attend to them in their Charleston residences as well. This entrée into South Carolinian society would afford Crawford a first-hand opportunity to witness the progression of secession over the next few months, including attendance at public meetings. Although not an abolitionist or supporter of the Republican Presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln (whom he would later describe in a letter to his brother as a “vulgar, third-rate politician”), Crawford nonetheless staunchly upheld the Federal cause and viewed secessionism as an unconscionable act.
In full uniform, he attended much of the convention which eventually gathered in St. Andrew’s Hall on December 19, 1860, to consider passage of an Ordinance of Secession, keeping a diary of its deliberations and other subsequent events which is today conserved in the “Civil War Manuscripts” Collection of the Library of Congress. He furthermore wished to actively participate beyond his medical role in the defensive preparations by Fort Moultrie’s tiny peacetime garrison against any surprise assault by South Carolina militiamen, and so volunteered to perform additional duties and stand nocturnal watches in his military capacity as a U.S. Army cavalry Captain.
Defender of Sumter (1861)
After Maj. Robert Anderson suddenly withdrew Moultrie’s garrison into Fort Sumter on the evening of December 26, 1860, Crawford returned next morning to recover more supplies, before Moultrie was finally abandoned altogether to Confederate occupation. [A letter to Crawford dated March 15, 1861, from his Charleston friend William Algernon Alston survives today in the South Caroliniana Library Archives at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, assuring the young Federal officer that “you are not forgotten by your Charleston friends, although duty demands that we as well as you should take position for our own convictions,” and adding that while his South Carolinian acquaintances might merely differ with him, “we curse your employers, the ‘Black Cabinet’.”] He served courageously in defense of Sumter during its bombardment on April 12-13, 1861, and was one of the last Federal defenders evacuated for New York City. Abner Doubleday would later recall Crawford as “a genial companion, studious, and full of varied information.”
Civil War Military Service (1861-1865)
A month after quitting Sumter, Crawford was summoned to Washington to meet Pres. Abraham Lincoln, who offered him an appointment to active line-duty as a Major in the newly-reconstituted 13th U. S. Infantry Regiment under Col. William T. Sherman, which the 33-year-old Crawford accepted as of May 14, 1861, while at the same time resigning his medical commission. This unit was one of nine oversized “three-battalion” regular regiments, with 24 companies of infantrymen instead of the usual ten, and so remained engaged in recruiting over the next year while headquartered at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. However, Crawford got himself promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers on April 25, 1862, bringing his younger brother Alex along as his aide-de-camp when he transferred East to serve in the Army of the Potomac, and launched his brigade in a successful flanking assault out of a thick woods at the Battle of Cedar Mountain that same August 1862, only to be mauled and driven back with heavy casualties by Stonewall Jackson’s counter-attack. It was recorded that during a truce to gather up the fallen, Crawford met the Confederate cavalry commander Jeb Stuart (whom he had known in the peacetime Army), and who bet Crawford a hat that the Federals would claim that Cedar Mountain had ended in a Union victory. Shortly thereafter, a hat was delivered through the lines for Stuart, along with a copy of a New York newspaper that proclaimed General Pope’s triumph.
One month later at the Battle of Antietam, Crawford’s brigade suffered heavy casualties again — 1,076 killed, wounded, and missing — and he himself was wounded in his right thigh late on the afternoon of September 17, 1862 (some say by a clumsily self-inflicted gunshot), which injury would put him out of action for the next five months and plague him for the rest of his life. Crawford convalesced at his retired father’s home in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and had recovered sufficiently to resume light duties as of February 1863, “when he was placed on a military commission in Washington”, and by May 1863 was ready for active field-service once again. That same month, he was put in command — “at the special request of the Governor of Pennsylvania” — of three brigades comprising a division of Pennsylvania Reserves, which were performing garrison-duty in the defenses around the national capital. When the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee then led his Army of Northern Virginia in a major offensive next month that threatened to overrun Pennsylvania, Crawford brought two of his three Reserve brigades (totaling 3,800 men) away from Upton’s Hill and Fairfax Station on June 25, 1863, marching hard while struggling to keep up with the large Union host which was converging to check this enemy incursion one week later at Gettysburg.
Positioned on the Little Round Top’s north slope out on the Federal left, Crawford personally led a gallant charge across the northern end of Plum Run Valley late that same July 2, 1863, which helped to push back a Confederate advance. A colleague would later recall him as “a tall, chesty, glowering man, with heavy eyes, a big nose and bushy whiskers,” who “wore habitually a turn-out-the-guard expression.” Col. Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine, one of the heroes of the Battle of Gettysburg, would describe Crawford as “a conscientious gentleman, having the entrée at all headquarters, somewhat lofty of manner, not of the iron fiber, nor spring of steel, but punctilious in a way, obeying orders in a certain literal fashion that saved him the censure of superiors — a pet of his State, and likewise, we thought, of Meade and Warren, judging from the attention they always gave him.”
Crawford furthermore served in the Overland Campaign, at Spotsylvania, Five Forks, and in the final Appomattox Campaign, having been promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in the regular U.S. Army as of February 17, 1864, shortly before his Pennsylvania Reserves were officially mustered out of service on May 31, 1864, having completed their terms of enlistment. Crawford himself was transferred to command of a provisional formation designated as the Second Division of the Fifth Corps, which was reinforced shortly thereafter and became the Third Division, while he was promoted to brevet Major-General of Volunteers as of August 1st of that same year. At the conclusion of hostilities, he returned to Charleston Harbor as an honored guest along with Doubleday, to be present at the ceremony during which Anderson raised the old Union flag above Fort Sumter once more.
Post-War Career (1866-1872)
Crawford was mustered out of the Volunteer service effective from January 15, 1866, although he remained in the regular Army and was appointed commander of the 16th U.S. Infantry as of February 22, 1869 — which regiment was at that time stationed in Kentucky, but subsequently ordered nine days later to be merged with the 2nd U.S. Infantry at Atlanta (in accordance with an Act of Congress aimed at downsizing the peacetime U.S. Army). Crawford’s 16th was therefore consolidated with the 2nd U.S. Infantry in Georgia as of April 18, 1869, and he was left as Colonel of both units and led them into Alabama two days afterward, to deploy his command at various outposts and — as a staunch Republican supporter —help enforce the recently-passed Reconstruction Act throughout that state, with his headquarters and Companies B, D, and I being established at Huntsville, Alabama (while Companies A, F, and K went to Mobile, and C and E to Montgomery). That same September 1869, Crawford was also accorded an honorary Doctorate of Law by his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania.
Crawford resigned from the command of the 2nd U.S. Infantry Regiment in February 1872 and retired from active duty altogether effective as of February 19, 1873, having already become interested in compiling a history of the pre-war encirclement and bombardment of Fort Sumter in which he had participated, inagurating the Civil War. (A reply to one of his letters-of-inquiry survives, written by an official in Washington, D.C., and dated January 25, 1872, informing Crawford “that the Secretary of War denies permission to access the War Department’s records relating to the occupancy, defense, and fall of Fort Sumter, 1860-61.”)
Authorship, Retirement & Death (1872-1892)
Initially frustrated in this design of recording his memoirs, Crawford would instead take up residence in New York City in 1872 and travel extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East next year, and again in 1875, when he attended the “Geographical Congress” in Paris as a delegate from the New York Geographical Society. The records of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., also noted how he donated a “box of bird-skins from Iceland” to their collections in 1879, the same year in which “Major-General S. Wylie Crawford” was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain (with his contact-address given as the prestigious “Union Club, New York”).
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Crawford eventually returned home to Philadelphia to begin compiling a detailed account of his pre-war service at Fort Moultrie, which was published in 1887 by Charles L. Webster and Company of New York under the title Genesis of the Civil War: The Story of Sumter, 1860-1861. His exceptionally wide-ranging research into this subject (for that era), even prompted Thomas E. Kirby of the American Art Association in New York to publish in 1914 an Illustrated Catalogue of the Unique and Valuable Collection of Autographs, Manuscripts and Documents of Persons Intimately Connected with the Civil War and Fort Sumter, Collected by the Late Major General Samuel Wylie Crawford, U.S.A., in Preparation of his History.
The Philadelphia Times reported on Page 9 of its July 5, 1891 “Sunday Special” edition:
Major General Samuel Wylie Crawford, who has just spent two years and a half traveling abroad, has returned to Philadelphia and is stopping at the Stratford. General Crawford, who commanded the Pennsylvania Reserves during the war, returns, as he says, “a better American, if possible, than ever.” The general has spent these years abroad, under medical and surgical treatment for a spinal affection, which deprives him almost entirely of active locomotion. He comes back to Philadelphia much improved in general health, and has succeeded in finally arresting the progress of the disease. He expresses himself as more than delighted at being back in his old home, and of the opportunity he will have of meeting those of his “boys” who still survive.
He speaks enthusiastically of the rapid strides that are being made by his old alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, and as a proof of his affection for the old school, it need only be said that the alcove which bears his family name in the University library has already received from his hands over 2,000 volumes, and he is not through yet.
General Crawford speaks very feelingly of the way in which he has been received abroad. In addition to being a member of the military clubs of London, he has received the most delicate attentions from all quarters, and his experiences with the leading warriors of the Old World have been among the most pleasant of his life. General Crawford is an ardent Pennsylvanian, and it was in fighting under the standard of the Keystone State that he earned distinction. The general spoke freely last night on the European situation and the conditions of the European armies as he had found them.
Some fifteen months afterward, Crawford — who had never married — died in Philadelphia on November 3, 1892, and was buried in that city’s Laurel Hill Cemetery, amid several other members of his distinguished family.
Cullum, George Washington (1809-1892)
U.S. engineering officer who supervised the last peacetime enhancements at Fort Moultrie, and would later create the famous Register cataloguing all West Point graduates.
Birth & Education (1809-1833)
Born in New York City on February 25, 1809, he was the second son and eldest surviving child of Arthur and Harriet Cullum (née Surges), their first-born offspring Oscar having lived for only twelve days. When he was eight, George’s family moved from Fairfield, Connecticut, to Meadville in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, and eventually came to include a total of seven more children: Horace, Catherine, Malvina, Arthur, Clinton, Henry, and Lucinda.
As the eldest, George received “an excellent preparatory education” and at the rather advanced age of twenty was enrolled as a cadet at the United States Military Academy, arriving at West Point on July 1, 1829. Less than two months later, his father died back in Meadville on August 18, 1829, yet George remained at the Academy to commence his studies, where he proved to be a driven and excellent student. In a letter to a friend back home — Alfred Huidekoper or Huydekoper, destined to become Cullum’s brother-in-law when he married Catherine Cullum — the studious second-year cadet confided on September 9, 1830:
Fortunately, I live with a Cadet Professor who is entitled to a light after taps (10 o’clock), by which I am very glad to profit until about 12, as it requires all of that time for me to get my lessons.
Cullum wrote that for the two weeks prior to the exams of early January 1832, “I scarcely lifted my eyes from my book, except to eat and sleep my six hours,” and added that during the testing itself “my heart palpitated strong enough to have shaken the Alleghenies, had they been placed upon it.” And in an entirely different vein, Cullum also told Huidekoper in yet another letter dated June 21, 1832, at the end of his third year:
I wish you could be here one night when I am on guard, to visit with me some of these raw plebes on post. I can assure you, I have some rare sport with them. Sometimes we get into Fort Clinton, which is close by the line of posts, and flash powder at them or wrap ourselves in sheets and then run across their posts on our hands and feet, muttering some undiscovered language, which they — poor simpletons — take to be ghosts or the devil himself.
Six weeks later, he added:
We are now instructing the plebes in firing cannon, which affords us no small quantity of amusement. Never being accustomed to hear so many pieces discharged at once so near them, they make as much fuss as though they had an arm or two shot off. Some get so frightened, that it almost impossible to get them again to their duty before ten minutes. As soon as the artillery drill is over, we attend the Laboratory where we are instructed in making all sorts of things for doing mischief such as cartridges, fire balls, Congreve rockets, etc., etc.
Early Engineering Duties (1833-1845)
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Cullum graduated from West Point on July 1, 1833, third in his class of 43 cadets, such a high academic standing that he received an appointment to the elite U.S. Corps of Engineers. After the traditional three months’ home-leave, he was breveted as a Second Lieutenant and sent to serve as Assistant Engineer in the on-going construction of massive Fort Adams at the northern end of Aquidneck Island near Newport, Rhode Island, under the direction of Lt.-Col. Joseph G. Totten — considered one of the foremost American-born engineers of his day. Within a year, Cullum was reassigned to act as an assistant to the Chief Engineer in Washington, D. C., and then in 1835 sent to make an inspection of Forts Severn and Madison “to examine their sufficiency for the defense of Annapolis harbor, Maryland.”
It was around this same time that the 26-year-old Cullum also privately drew up a design to build a new Unitarian Church in his Pennsylvanian hometown of Meadville, whose erection was commenced by late 1835 and resulted next year in a sturdy red-brick structure, which still stands today at 346 Chestnut Street on the southwest corner of Diamond Park Square, being furthermore listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Cullum finally “got off his brevet” and officially became a full Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers as of April 20, 1836, and a few months afterward was ordered to resume his duties at Fort Adams, as was tersely announced in the July 28, 1836 edition of the Army and Navy Chronicle (Volume III, Number 4, Whole Number 82, Page 63):
Lieut. G. W. Cullum, relieved from duty as Asst. to the chief Engineer, and ordered to report to Lieut. Col. Totten, Newport R. I., assistant at Fort Adams.
Seasoned by almost three years of experience, Cullum was then entrusted with the independent role of Superintending Engineer for the erection of a pier, dike, and lighthouse on Goat Island in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island, carrying out this task so ably that he was promoted to Captain by July 7, 1838, and sent to supervise the construction of a new version of Fort Trumbull slated to be commenced at New London, Connecticut. The Army and Navy Chronicle (Volume 10, Number 9, Whole Number 269, Page 138) noted his arrival for a visit in Washington, D. C., on February 24, 1840, when Cullum lodged at Mrs. Latimer’s Hotel; and again on February 19, 1842, when he stayed at the Hope Club (Volume 13, Number 6, Whole Number 371, Page 92). Cullum furthermore broke ground on Battery Griswold at New London in 1841, and five years later was transferred to supervise “the repairs of Sea Walls for the preservation of Deer, Lovell's, and Rainsford Islands” in Boston Harbor, as well as to upgrade Forts Warren, Independence, and Winthrop. He was also recorded as one of the individuals who had a “silhouette portrait” free-cut by the touring French artist Auguste Edouart at the fashionable resort-town of Saratoga Springs, New York, on August 10, 1844.
Mexican-American War and Shipwreck (1846-1848)
When the war with Mexico erupted in the spring of 1846, Cullum was not assigned to Gen. Zachary Taylor’s initial invasion-force advancing out of Texas, instead remaining on duty in New England. On the evening of Wednesday, November 25, 1846, he departed Boston for New York City as a passenger aboard the steamer Atlantic of Capt. Isaac Dustan, which shouldered its way out to sea through a heavy northeastern gale. Shortly after passing New London, Connecticut, a steam-pipe burst and disabled the Atlantic’s engine, leaving it bobbing helplessly at anchor amid the stormy seas. Slowly driven down Long Island Sound onto the rocky shore at the west end of Fisher’s Island near Stonington, Connecticut, the steamer finally struck and was destroyed in the early hours of November 27, 1846, many people being drowned during this disaster.
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Cullum managed to get ashore and — soaking wet — staggered for two miles through the freezing night, until finding shelter with other survivors in a private home. An Irish workman whom he had treated kindly while engaged in the labors on Fort Trumbull, recognized Cullum and helped him procure dry clothing and a bed, saving his life. The New York clergyman James W. Alexander recorded the account of another survivor, a few days afterward in a letter written to a colleague:
Young C. S. Stewart (United States Engineer) who was saved, stayed by the vessel till the timbers parted, in company with Capt. Cullum and Lieut. Norton. At length, his hair and eyelashes being frozen, his hands were so benumbed that he thought they would become useless, unless he let himself down at once, which he did. After struggling in the surf, he gained footing. Shortly after, he heard Capt. Cullum’s voice. Norton was lost. Charles S. was much bruised, and so exhausted as to fall down three times before reaching the house; of which they had previously endeavored, by daylight, to fix the locality in their minds. After ten hours, he reached New London, whence he had set out; he is there engaged on the new fortification.
Cullum himself was deeply moved at miraculously surviving this harrowing ordeal, and personally paid for the publication of the Sermon in Allusion to the Wreck of the Steamer Atlantic delivered in the Universalist Church of New London on November 29, 1846, appending his own written account as well. Newspaper reports of the survivors of the Atlantic spread throughout the United States, eventually reaching as far as Hawaii and Australia.
Upon recuperating and with another major military expedition preparing to sail against Mexico, intended to disembark at Veracruz so as to push threateningly into the central highlands towards the enemy capital, Cullum’s talents were diverted into recruiting skilled troops and equipping the U.S. Army’s newly-created Company of Sappers, which was to assist Gen. Winfield Scott’s penetration in traversing rivers and fords. This skilled company departed for Veracruz early next year, among their ranks being a youthful John G. Foster, freshly graduated from the U.S. Military Academy. Cullum remained behind to perform “special duty” at West Point, where he conducted a series of detailed studies and drills to perfect the building of India-rubber pontoons. Once hostilities against Mexico ceased, he stayed on at the Academy as “Instructor of Practical Military Engineering” and Treasurer as of March 25, 1848, as well as succeeding brevet Capt. George B. McClellan as “Commandant of Sappers, Miners, and Pontoniers” as of June 23, 1848 (the day after this company had returned to West Point from its service in Mexico). Cullum also supervised the construction of the Academy’s new “South Cadet Barracks,” a 360-foot wide edifice of gray stone with granite and red sandstone accents in the Gothic Tudor style, complete with battlements, towers, moats, and a sally-port.
Peacetime Employments (1849-1854)
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Cullum furthermore compiled an initial version of his Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy since that instituion’s inception in March 1802, which book was approved for publication by West Point’s Superintendent on July 4, 1850, being issued by the printer John F. Trow in New York City. That very next day, Cullum was granted a “sick leave of absence”, during which he would travel throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa; a second such furlough dated from May 19, 1851, allowed him to visit the West Indies for another year as well. In an eerie coincidence during this second furlough, Cullum cleared from Liverpool in England to return to New York City on October 1, 1851, aboard another steamship named Atlantic — and it too encountered a storm in the Irish Sea and had one engine temporarily crippled, before driving on out into the North Atlantic in a full gale. During the worst of this storm six days later, Cullum’s clergyman room-mate Dr. James W. Alexander wrote how the two of them prayed together in the state-room of Episcopal Bishop James H. Otey of Tennessee, as recorded on Page 365 in the second volume of Alexander’s Forty Years’ Familiar Letters (New York: Charles Scribner, 1860).
The 2,900-ton Atlantic forged its way through the heavy seas and tied up at New York’s Canal Street docks early on October 15, 1851, so that Cullum was able to resume his teaching duties next summer at West Point, as of June 1, 1852. He was subsequently detached to act as Superintending Engineer for the construction of the New York City Assay Office, under the auspices of the U.S. Treasury Department, as well as to make alterations and repairs to the Wall Street Bank Building which was being converted into offices for the U. S. Assistant Treasurer, remaining on these assignments throughout much of 1853-1854. A cursory quartermaster receipt survives, dated June 1854 in New York City, in which the members of Company A of the Engineers under Capt. George W. Cullum signed for “several articles of clothing set opposite our respective names.”
Fort Moultrie Assignment (1855-1858)
Cullum’s return to teaching at the Academy was to be interrupted yet again shortly thereafter, by a natural calamity which would take him to South Carolina for the next few years. On September 7-8, 1854, Charleston Harbor was struck by a huge hurricane, during which cataclysmic event the unremitting surf carved a breach clear across Sullivan’s Island, sweeping away houses and driving several hundred terrified civilians into seeking shelter within Moultrie. By the time that this storm receded, the fort was left inundated under a couple of feet of water, and in dire need of extensive repairs. As a result, Cullum was appointed on January 1, 1855, to act as Supervising Engineer for all Federal installations around Charleston Harbor, and arrived in South Carolina that following month to begin organizing reconstruction efforts. (His fellow engineer, Capt. Montgomery C. Meigs, would note in his diary on February 16, 1855, how Cullum arrived in Washington that evening and stayed for several nights.)
Cullum had personally inspected Fort Moultrie by March 31, 1855, finding it distressed but structurally sound, so reported to Colonel Totten in Washington that the fort’s drainage would indeed require improvement, with numerous other repairs and enhancements scheduled to be made. Its flooded lower-level rooms were already having their walls re-plastered, and flooring replaced as well. The three flights of weakened stairs in front of its main buildings were all rebuilt, as well as the seven smaller ones radiating out from its Officers’ Quarters.
In addition to supervising Moultrie’s reconstruction, Cullum would also oversee repairs to Castle Pinckney, as well as the replacement of its wharf and the one at old Fort Johnson. He would moreover organize and direct the improvement through dredging of Maffit’s Channel leading into the harbor, plus the erection and repairs to various light-houses, keepers’ dwellings, and beacons. On August 25, 1857, Cullum wrote three notices from Charleston to publicly announce that not only had the burnt Front Range Beacon on Sullivan’s Island been entirely rebuilt, but that new lights had furthermore been added on Morris Island and at the eastern end of the city Battery. And as of that same year of 1857, he was encharged as well with repairs to Forts Macon and Caswell in neighboring North Carolina, and the “preservation of their sites.”
Cullum would finally be relieved of his duties at Charleston and superseded by Capt. John G. Foster on April 28, 1858, and next month was in New York City, from where Cullum continued on to New Bedford, Massachusetts, to attend to other official duties that same summer. The Annual Report of the Secretary of War for 1859 described how Cullum had left the works at Fort Macon at Beaufort Harbor and Fort Caswell in Smithville, both in the State of North Carolina, upon handing over to Foster, as well as all the fortifications around Charleston Harbor: Forts Moultrie, Sumter, Johnson, and Castle Pinckney.
Civil War Service (1858-1865)
Immediately after being relieved of his duties at Charleston, Cullum was appointed a member of the “Special Board of Engineers to devise the defenses of Sandy Hook, New Jersey,” as well as superintending the construction of a new fort at Clark's Point in New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts. He furthermore was put in charge of making repairs to Fort Adams at Newport, Rhode Island, plus Fort Trumbull and Battery Griswold in New London Harbor, Connecticut. In 1859, he was additionally assigned the task of commencing a new fort at Willet's Point, and “making repairs and alterations of Ft. Schuyler, for the defense of eastern entrance to New York harbor.”
Cullum was detailed on January 12, 1860, to serve for the next three-and-a-half months on a board revising “the Programme of Instruction at the [United States] Military Academy,” followed by being commissioned to a “Special Board of Engineers to select sites for additional batteries at Ft. Hamilton, New York,” from September 7 to October 25, 1860.
The nationally-prominent St. Louis politician and Cabinet member Edward Bates noted in his diary how Cullum called upon him in Washington, D.C., on the evening of November 19, 1861, to discuss matters in Missouri as he was going out there to serve as chief-of-staff to General Halleck. Bates recorded as his impression: “Cullum seems to be a good man and learned in his profession, but dull.” (The Diary of Edward Bates, Pages 202-203.)
When his wife died, she left a bequest to the New York Cancer Hospital which Cullum augmented to what was then a staggering sum of $200,000, even coming to serve as a member of its board. He was also on the boards of the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, and the Farragut Monument Association.
His obituary in the February 29, 1892 edition of the New York Times, stated that Cullum had “died last evening at his home, 261 Fifth Avenue,” adding that he had been in falling health for some months and:
A week ago Saturday, he was compelled to take to his bed with a cold, which developed into pneumonia. Gen. Cullum had no immediate family, and had lived alone with his servants in the house in which he died for a number of years, except for occasional visits from his relatives. His nephew, A. C. Huidekoper of Meadville, Penn., was with him when he died. His other relatives live in Meadville.
Cullum was buried in the Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, and his 24-year-old niece Katherine Renee Cortazzo would eventually inherit his home on Sea View Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island, although she did not actually come to occupy it until 1912.
Doubleday, Abner (1819-1893)
U.S. artillery officer who was second-in-command at peacetime Fort Moultrie, and a vocal Republican supporter throughout the escalating secessionist tensions during the autumn of 1860, which climaxed with the evacuation of its garrison and bombardment within Fort Sumter next spring.
Birth & Education (1819-1842)
Born on June 26, 1819, in a one-room clapboard house which still stands at the corner of Fenwick and Washington Streets in Ballston Spa, a village in Saratoga County in upstate New York, Abner was the second of three sons — the eldest, Thomas, having been born on February 18, 1816. Eventually, a total of eight children would be born to its local printer and newspaper publisher, Ulysses F. Doubleday, and his wife Hester (née Donnelly). Abner’s family shifted west shortly after his birth into the growing town of Auburn, New York, where his father purchased the struggling Cayuga Patriot newspaper and Ulysses, Jr., was born on August 31, 1824. Their father was subsequently elected to the United States Congress as a Jacksonian Democrat in 1831 and 1835, before losing most of his fortune during the financial Panic of 1837 and then removing “to New York City, where he engaged in the book trade.”
Prior to this setback, teenaged Abner had been sent to live with his uncle in Cooperstown, a village 100 miles farther east in Central New York State, where he attended a private preparatory high school, as well as practicing as a surveyor and civil engineer for two years as far afield as Canada, before eventually winning appointment through his father’s political connections to the United States Military Academy in September 1838. Doubleday would prove remarkable among his fellow cadets in that he did not smoke, drink, or swear, and his record at West Point further noted that he was “correct in his deportment, social and communicative ... [but] rather averse to outdoor sports, and retiring in his manner.” He nonetheless seems to have been only a mediocre student, and four years later graduated 24th in a class of 56 cadets, being commissioned on July 1, 1842 as a brevet Second Lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment.
Early Military Assignments and Mexican-American War (1842-1851)
Stationed for the next two years at Fort Johnston on the Lower Cape Fear River near Smithville [modern Southport], North Carolina, Doubleday’s company was then moved to Fort McHenry outside of Baltimore, Maryland in 1844, where he finally escaped his long brevetcy by being appointed on February 24, 1845 to fill a vacancy as Second Lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Artillery Regiment, and as a result transferred to Fort Preble, Maine. That same spring of 1845, he sailed with this new company from Portland for New York Harbor, to proceed into the Gulf of Mexico and take part in the forthcoming “Military Occupation” of Texas — a breakaway province and new republic which was about to become annexed into the United States, over Mexico’s objections.
By October 1845, Doubleday’s contingent had reached Aransas Bay and disembarked to join Brig. Gen. Zachary Taylor’s small army, which was awaiting developments around the hamlet of Corpus Christi. Doubleday was consequently present when fighting actually erupted more than six months later at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, and would see further action as Taylor’s expedition pushed into northern Mexico, especially at the hard-fought Battle of Monterrey in late September 1846.
Following this victory, General Taylor ordered a vanguard of 1,000 troops to press southwest on November 13, 1846, and seize the City of Saltillo as an advance base, from where his patrols might probe the stark desert surroundings. Doubleday himself had remained behind in Monterrey with his battery as part of that city’s occupying force, until reports began arriving in mid-February 1847 that the Mexican commander-in-chief Antonio López de Santa Anna was fast approaching Saltillo with his main army to mount a surprise counter-strike against Taylor. Doubleday was ordered to hastily join Saltillo’s outnumbered U.S. defenders with his two 18-pounder and two 12-pounder guns, and after a difficult traverse over dirt roads, managed to arrive on February 24, 1847 — just as the Battle of Buena Vista was ending in an American victory. Despite having missed this action, though, Doubleday was promoted to First Lieutenant effective from March 3, 1847.
His battery then remained in a defensive role in the occupied city of Saltillo for the next fifteen months, as major fighting shifted much farther south (thanks to a seaborne U.S. landing at Veracruz to open up a second front). During this interlude of uneventful garrison-duty, the young and adventurous Doubleday enjoyed his time in this exotic desert setting. Grown fluent in Spanish after such prolonged residence in the borderlands, he roamed throughout northern Mexico and noted in his journal: “This is the very life I had been desirous of leading, to mix with the Mexican rancheros and see more of their manner of living.” After a perilous journey with a couple of companions to visit the distant town of Parras in March 1848, hostilities with Mexico officially concluded and his battery was ordered to return north toward Camargo on June 14, 1848, where their artillery-pieces were stored before proceeding on to Fort Brown [modern Brownsville, Texas] for repatriation.
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Doubleday arrived at that border-outpost by July 22, 1848, and served a two-month stint as commissary officer under its difficult commandant, Col. Thomas W. Sherman, even enduring arrest in September 1848 as a result of one particular dispute with his cantankerous superior, which goaded Doubleday into filing counter-charges of his own. Before that same month was out, he departed by ship from Port Isabel, Texas — still only a First Lieutenant in the regular U.S. Army — and returned to New York by late October 1848, to be stationed at Fort Columbus on Governors Island. He was technically still under arrest, but all legal charges and counter-charges were dropped six weeks later, after an official review. Doubleday’s subsequent posting to command the 1st U.S. Artillery’s Company E at Fort Columbus proved to be most welcome, allowing him to socialize with his father, uncle, and other relatives in New York City, only a half-mile by ferry across the water.
In August 1850, Doubleday was ordered to conduct a company of recruits to Florida, and upon his return to Fort Columbus next month, he was sent to relieve brevet Maj. and First Lt. Thomas J. Jackson (later the famed Confederate commander “Stonewall” Jackson) in command of Company K at Fort Hamilton in nearby Brooklyn, guarding the entrance into New York Bay. Shortly thereafter, Doubleday was ordered to march this new company overland to Fort McHenry outside of Baltimore, and while on a visit to Washington, D.C., he met and fell in love with 28-year-old Mary H. Hewitt, the strong-willed daughter of the prominent Maryland attorney Robert Morton Hewitt and a niece of the late U.S. Marine Corps paymaster, Lt.-Col. Charles R. Broom. The 32-year-old junior officer married her on January 2, 1852, and the couple would remain happily inseparable.
Special Mission into Mexico (1852-1853)
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However, nine months after their wedding, Doubleday was surprised to receive a personal summons in early October 1852, to report to the U.S. Sec. of War Charles M. Conrad at his private home in Washington, D.C. Upon arriving, Doubleday was informed that three years previously, an American-born dentist named Dr. George A. Gardiner — who had lived and owned businesses in Mexico since prior to the war — had filed a claim before the Congressional “Mexican Claims Board” for a half-million dollars in compensation, for the vindictive destruction of his valuable silver-mine near San Luis Potosí by Santa Anna’s forces. Awarded $428,750 in damages, Gardiner had then helped engineer a second similar petition from one John H. Mears, for an additional $153,000 for the destruction of a separate quicksilver or mercury mine.
The legitimacy of these costly suits having been questioned in the U.S. Senate, a commission of five officials was appointed to travel into Central Mexico and investigate the truth behind these matters, Doubleday being selected by Conrad to serve as the Army representative because of his fluency in Spanish and proven ability to travel throughout that country. The five investigators duly travelled by train and assembled in New Orleans on October 25, 1852, to set sail two days afterward for Veracruz aboard the U.S. naval side-wheel steamer Fulton, then travelled inland to Mexico City and eventually on to San Luis Potosí to view the actual mines in question. The country was experiencing considerable turmoil and lawlessness in the wake of its recent defeat by U.S. forces, with revolts against Pres. Mariano Arista and much banditry, so that the journey for a small party of Americans was perilous. Gardiner had furthermore preceded them into Mexico himself, to complicate their investigation.
The five members nonetheless quickly discovered the falsity of his claims. Regaining the Mexican capital by Christmas 1852, Doubleday’s party crossed to Havana, took the steamer Isabel on to Charleston, and regained Washington by January 14, 1853, to report their findings two days later before the Senate committee, that:
- Gardiner was not a citizen of the United States;
- that his claim for destroyed silver mines was wholly fictitious, fraudulent, and sustained by forged evidence;
- and that John H. Mears’s claim, likewise engineered by Gardiner, was also false and fraudulent.
Gardiner’s first trial ended with a hung jury on May 30, 1853, so that a second had to be convened that same December 1853, and resulted in his conviction to ten years’ incarceration on March 3, 1854 — at which point he swallowed strychnine, so as to avoid the humiliation of imprisonment. [For all official proceedings in this matter, including a journal of the investigators’ trip into Mexico, see the Report of the Select Committee of the Senate, in Relation to the Proceedings of the Board of Commissioners on the Claims against Mexico, ordered to be printed on March 28, 1854, by Beverley Tucker in Washington, D.C.]
Frontier Duty (1854-1858)
Doubleday received the “thanks of Congress” and a financial bonus of $2,000 for his performance of this Mexican commission, and with his wife Mary rejoined his military company in August 1854, which in the interim had been transferred to patrol against the Comanche, Apache, and other hostile tribes out of Fort Duncan at Eagle Pass, Texas. Rather unusually for Army wives of that period, Mary would accompany her husband on virtually all of his frontier postings, and they remained together in that primitive, hazardous, and torrid garrison throughout the next nine months. Another Army wife who passed through Fort Duncan during this interval, named Lydia Spencer Lane, would later recall about Doubleday:
His wife was with him, a pretty, refined woman, and she was more afraid of a mouse than anything in the world. I remember she had a frame fixed all around the bed and covered with netting to keep them out. She did not seem to dread snakes at all, nothing but an awful mouse.
Her husband was finally promoted to full Captain as of March 3, 1855, and wrote a letter thanking Sen. William H. Seward of Auburn, New York, for his recommendation in this regard. Doubleday then received orders in May 1855 to depart Texas and assume command over the 1st U.S. Artillery’s Company E once more at Fortress Monroe at Old Point Comfort, Virginia. His sentiments upon receiving this rotation back East were later recorded in his Life in the Old Army: “The change was a very agreeable one and I was soon on my way, eager to revisit home, friends, and civilization once more.”
But the Third Seminole War soon flared up around that same Christmas 1855, so that Doubleday and his company were redeployed to Fort Dallas on the west side of Key Biscayne Bay in south Florida, arriving there (along with Mary) on October 25, 1856, to engage in a year of fruitless pursuits of elusive tribal bands, before retiring into Fort Capron to rest. Once these hostilities ceased altogether that following May 1858, Doubleday’s company was employed in shutting down Fort Capron, before shifting to Fort Brooke at Tampa, so as to be rotated out of Florida altogether for Fort Moultrie.
Garrison-Duty at Fort Moultrie (1858-1860)
Doubleday reached this new South Carolinian posting along with his wife, Company E, and the regimental commander Lt.-Col. John L. Gardner, aboard the steamer Gordon on June 16, 1858. There they joined Capt. Truman Seymour’s Company H, which had arrived only ten days earlier, to jointly constitute Moultrie’s new U.S. Army garrison. Doubleday took up residence in its Officers’ Quarters with Mary, the only woman living within the confines of the peacetime fort. As commandant, the elderly Gardner lived just outside in a fine big leased house directly opposite the Western Postern-Gate with his small family, so that Doubleday would often be the senior officer present within Moultrie itself.
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That same August 1858, a yellow-fever outbreak began amongst its newly-arrived companies of artillerymen, eventually infecting 49 — about a third of their total number — and killing 28. Before this epidemic had fully run its course, Doubleday and two Lieutenants formally presented letters to Colonel Gardner on October 7, 1858, urging that charges be brought against the base surgeon, Dr. Bernard M. Byrne, for neglecting his duties during this crisis. The latter was subsequently indicted, but acquitted at his trial in April 1859, although with a reprimand inserted into his record. And in order to minimize the possibility of any such future calamitous recurrence, Washington authorized Gardner to temporarily transplant his command (if necessary), as a preventive measure into a healthier locale during the hot summer seasons.
The Colonel was consequently absent from Moultrie during much of the summer of 1859, scouting out potential cantonments around Smithville, North Carolina. As the senior officer remaining in residence, Doubleday acted as commandant during this absence, and in the sweltering summer-heat of July 1859 had a disagreement with his own Company E subordinate, Lt. Otis H. Tillinghast. This dispute apparently began when the straitlaced Doubleday rebuked his Lieutenant for gambling at the post, which the latter denied. When threatened with legal action, Tillinghast angrily retorted in a letter written on July 27, 1859:
This threat is worthy of the officer, who a few days ago tried to induce his Adjutant [Tillinghast] to become a spy upon the other officers of the Post, by going to the Billiard Room, to see and report to him what was going on there; and when he declined the mission, did still urge him “to happen in” for some purpose.
Doubleday consequently brought charges against his Lieutenant for “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline,” and Gardner headed up the general court-martial which eventually heard this matter on October 3, 1859. Tillinghast had meanwhile retained the services of a prominent Charleston attorney, William Henry Trescot, so that despite being found guilty and receiving an official admonishment, his verdict tellingly added that the judges were “… of the opinion that this is the severest sentence which can be awarded under the circumstances, as the evidence shows that the accused may have been tempted to this course by the compromising and vacillating conduct of his Commanding Officer [Doubleday].” Tillinghast and Trescot furthermore arranged for the publication of a 24-page booklet in Charleston entitled A Defence Read Before a General Court Martial at Fort Moultrie, So. Ca., so as to publicize the unfair nature of the charges leveled by Doubleday.
Another difficulty had arisen when it was discovered that ten new 8-inch Columbiad guns which had been received, did not fit on the granite platforms pre-cut to mount them at Fort Moultrie’s Southeast and Southwest Angles. Doubleday therefore had to write on September 28, 1859, for the engineering officer Capt. George W. Cullum to return from Baltimore so as to resolve this problem, which took some time as the existing pads had to be reduced in size and their iron rails reshaped. Possibly on account of his public embarrassment following the trial, Doubleday was to be absent from Moultrie on extended leave from late 1859 into the spring of 1860, although his mother’s illness and death that same November 4, 1859 at Bloomington, Indiana, may well have been a contributing factor. Yet tellingly, Tillinghast in turn left the fort on extended leave himself as of May 29, 1860 — around the same time that Doubleday rejoined his company.
Secessionist Crisis and Defense of Fort Sumter (1860-1861)
As political tensions escalated throughout South Carolina during that summer and autumn of 1860, Doubleday and his wife remained outspoken advocates of abolitionism and Republican resolve, even writing to Northern friends in a secret code, and passing along unsolicited information to their preferred Presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln. Years later in his Reminiscences of Forts Sumter and Moultrie in 1860-’61, Doubleday would note with some relish how he “… became quite unpopular in Charleston, partly on account of my anti-slavery sentiments, but more especially because some very offensive articles, written from that city, had appeared in the Northern papers, and were attributed to me.”
He actively approved of the strengthening of Moultrie’s neglected defenses, and viewed his elderly commandant with disfavor:
Colonel Gardner had done good service in the War of 1812 and in Mexico, but now, owing to his advanced age, was ill fitted to weather the storm that was about to burst upon us. In politics he was quite Southern, frequently asserting that the South had been treated outrageously in the question of the Territories, and defrauded of her just rights in other respects. He acquiesced, however, in the necessity of defending the fort should it be attacked; but as he lived with his family outside of the walls, he could not take a very active part himself. Indeed on one occasion, when a Secession meeting was held in our immediate vicinity, accompanied with many threats and noisy demonstrations, he sent word to me to assume command at once in his place.
The Colonel’s replacement, Maj. Robert Anderson, surprised Doubleday and the rest of his command by unexpectedly announcing a withdrawal across the harbor-mouth into Fort Sumter on the evening of December 26, 1860, abandoning Moultrie to the South Carolinian authorities. When the protracted encirclement of Sumter finally ended in its shelling by Confederate batteries on April 12-13, 1861, Doubleday aimed the cannon that fired the first return-shot.
Subsequent Career & Death (1861-1893)
Evacuated to New York City, Doubleday was assigned immediately upon his triumphal arrival to command Fort Hamilton in nearby Brooklyn — which guarded the entrance into New York Bay — and was promoted to Major of the 17th Infantry Regiment in the U.S. Army as of May 14, 1861, then transferred to serve under Maj.-Gen. Robert Patterson in the Shenandoah Valley as of June 3, 1861. Early that same September 1861, Doubleday joined in the defense of Washington, D.C., being given command of several artillery batteries along the Potomac River. (Ordered to erect a three-gun breastwork to guard the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and halt Confederate cross-river raids above the town of Williamsport, Maryland, this so-called “Battery Doubleday” was soon abandoned because of its inadequate sight-lines toward the river fords frequented by these marauders. However, its remnants still survive today within Riverview Cemetery, while this prominence also retains the name of “Doubleday Hill.”) Appointed as a Brigadier General of Volunteers on February 3, 1862, he was briefly placed in command of the Washington defenses, until the formation of Maj.-Gen. John Pope’s “Army of Virginia” that same summer of 1862.
Doubleday received his first combat-command, leading the 2nd Brigade, First Division, III Corps, and playing a key role at Brawner’s Farm during the opening actions of the Second Battle of Bull Run. Although his men were routed next day, Doubleday took command of the entire division on August 30, 1862, after Brig. Gen. John P. Hatch had been wounded, and rallied his troops so as to cover the retreat of the main Union army. Transferred to the I Corps in the Army of the Potomac, Doubleday next saw action at the Battle of South Mountain on September 14, 1862, assuming command of the division when Hatch was again wounded, and leading it into the Battle of Antietam three days later.
Fighting in the West Woods and the Cornfield, Doubleday’s men held the right flank of the Union army during this major encounter, and he was injured when an artillery shell exploded near his horse, throwing him violently to the ground. His bravery — if not strategic skills — won him a recommendation for promotion on November 29, 1862, to Lieutenant-Colonel in the regular Army and Major-General of Volunteers by March 1863. At the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, his division mostly sat idle, and was also kept in reserve throughout the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863. Moreover, Doubleday remained unpopular with many of his peers, being regarded as stiff and pompous, who still viewed himself as the “Hero of Fort Sumter.”
At the opening of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, Doubleday's 3rd Division was the second Union infantry formation to reinforce Brig. Gen. John Buford’s cavalry, resisting stoutly against the weight of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s arriving army for five hours before being overwhelmed and driven back to Cemetery Hill. However, Doubleday was demoted from corps commander because of this retreat by Maj.-Gen. George Meade, which he strongly resented. Fighting bravely throughout the remainder of this four-day battle, Doubleday was wounded in the neck and received a field-promotion to Brevet Colonel; but when Meade subsequently refused to restore his command over I Corps, Doubleday departed for Washington on July 7, 1863, and never again fought in the field.
Instead he served in administrative capacities in the nation’s capital, and remained a loyal Republican and staunch supporter of Lincoln, even riding with the President on the train which carried him to deliver the Gettysburg Address. Once the Civil War ended, Doubleday reverted to his regular Army rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and assumed command of the 35th U.S. Infantry Regiment in September 1867. Stationed at San Francisco from 1869 to spring of 1871, he took out a patent for the cable-car railway that still operates there today, although he signed away his rights when reassigned to command of the 24th U.S. Infantry.
This all African-American regiment was at that time headquartered at Fort McKavett, on the San Saba River in what is now Menard County in Texas, where Doubleday arrived to assume his new duties in April 1871. The 24th’s companies were scattered among several remote outposts such as Forts Bliss, Clark, Davis, Duncan, Quitman, and Stockton, seeing little fighting beyond general police-duties. Doubleday kept busy traveling between these various garrisons and inspecting their facilities, ordering repairs, and supervising the improvement of sanitary conditions. In August 1872, acting on orders from Washington, he transferred his headquarters to Fort Brown in the Rio Grande Valley, and redeployed his troops along the border-forts.
After he became seriously ill from a stomach disorder, Doubleday applied for and received an extended medical leave, departing Texas in June 1873; and when his condition did not improve, he retired from active duty in the U.S. Army altogether in December 1873, spending his last two decades in intellectual pursuits and dedicated to veterans’ affairs, before finally dying of heart disease at Mendham, New Jersey on January 26, 1893. He is buried, along with his wife Mary (they never had any children), in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Baseball Myth (1908)
A decade after his death, as the long-established sport of baseball began soaring in popularity in booming American cities during the first few years of the 20th century, a debate as to the game’s origins heated up. The influential journalist and statistician, English-born Henry Chadwick, published an article in 1905 which declared that baseball had grown out of the older British games of rounders and cricket. Counter-arguments were quickly made, maintaining that it had been a uniquely American invention, so that a former star-player turned sports-magnate named Albert G. Spalding appointed a special “commission” of his friends and colleagues to investigate this question. Citizens who might know anything about the creation of baseball were urged to write in, and one such letter was received on December 30, 1907 from elderly Abner Graves, claiming that baseball had been invented as long ago as 1839 by Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown, New York. The commission members accepted this account at face value, publishing their final report in 1908 which further asserted that the deceased Union General had even invented the word “baseball,” designed its diamond-shaped field, indicated its fielding positions, and written down its rules.
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Yet Graves had never mentioned any of these facts in his letter, nor was he ever interviewed by the commission. (His reliability as a witness would be further undermined when he was subsequently convicted of murdering his wife, spending his final days in an asylum for the criminally insane.) It is moreover known that Doubleday was not living in Cooperstown in 1839, but rather attending West Point, with no annotation in that institution’s records to indicate that he had been granted any leave. Among his extensive surviving correspondence and personal papers, no description of baseball has ever been found, and not even the commission chairman — Abraham G. Mills, a lifelong friend of the General — ever recalled hearing Doubleday so much as mention the game. It is today believed that the General’s cousin, also named Abner Doubleday but fifteen years his junior, may have been responsible for the organized effort at Cooperstown, although much later than 1839, when both he and Graves would have only been about five years of age.
But such was the appeal of baseball’s invention in a beautiful rural town, with no foreign influence or industrial backdrop, that Doubleday would find himself posthumously credited with its creation. This theory is universally dismissed by modern scholars.
Foster, John Gray (1823-1874)
Energetic U.S. engineering officer, who greatly enhanced peacetime Moultrie’s defenses, before its isolated Federal garrison slipped across the harbor-mouth into stronger Fort Sumter and the Civil War erupted. He would later rise to command the Union army which besieged Charleston Harbor.
Birth & Education (1823-1846)
Born on May 27, 1823 at Whitfield, a small town nestled on the northern fringe of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, he was the middle child — and third son — of seven children born to Maj. Perley Foster and his wife Mary Gray. Of limited means, Foster’s family moved to the larger city of Nashua when John was only ten, where he first attended school, before being enrolled in the Hancock Academy, then prepping at Crosby’s Nashua Literary Institute for admission into West Point.
Appointed by the local U.S. Representative Charles G. Atherton, 19-year-old Foster was duly enrolled in the United States Military Academy on July 1, 1842, and graduated exactly four years later — fourth in a class of 59 cadets, such a high academic standing that he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the prestigious Corps of Engineers, and assigned three months later to the Engineer Bureau in Washington, D.C.
Mexican War (1847-1848)
But as the Mexican War was already raging, and the invasion of northern Mexico had concluded that same September 1846 with the capture of the City of Monterrey and its surrounding district by Gen. Zachary Taylor’s army, Foster got himself attached to the newly-created company of sappers, miners, and pontonniers which had been assigned to accompany Gen. Winfield Scott’s seaborne expedition, so as to open up a second front by disembarking at Veracruz and directly threatening the Mexican heartland. The young Second Lieutenant consequently served in the ensuing siege of that seaport from March 9-29, 1847, then fought in the Battle of Cerro Gordo on April 17-18, 1847, as Scott’s small army forged inland toward Mexico City.
On the outskirts of the Mexican capital itself, Foster won a brevet promotion to First Lieutenant on August 20, 1847, for his “gallant and meritorious conduct” during the twin Battles of Contreras and Churubusco. He then commanded a column of infantry during the assault against the fortified Molino del Rey complex on September 8, 1847, being severely wounded near his right hip. Doctors even proposed amputating his injured leg, but Foster talked them out of it, although he would walk with a noticeable limp for the remainder of his life. Promoted to Brevet Captain for his bravery during this crucial assault, he was returned home to Nashua for an extended leave of absence, so as to convalesce and recuperate from his wounds.
Peacetime Service (1848-1860)
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Once hostilities ceased altogether and Foster regained his strength, the 25-year-old reverted to his rank of Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers and on May 24, 1848, was assigned as assistant engineer for the construction of Fort Carroll on the Patapsco River in Maryland. He remained employed on that project over the next four years, during which period he also married 21-year-old Mary L. Moale on January 21, 1851 at Baltimore — the daughter of Samuel Moale, a well-to-do lawyer who had served in Maryland’s First Regiment of Volunteer Artillery during the War of 1812, and remained its militia Colonel — with whom Foster would sire a daughter named Annie M., born that same November 3rd.
Foster was thereupon transferred to the Coast Survey Office in Washington, D. C, remaining with that department from March 20, 1852 until April 26, 1854, and being promoted to First Lieutenant as of April 1, 1854. After returning to Fort Carroll until the end of the latter year, he was sent to the United States Military Academy at West Point, to begin serving as principal Assistant Professor of Engineering as of January 11, 1855. Two-and-a-half years later, Foster departed on June 27, 1857, to assume the duty of superintending engineer for the survey of a new fort-site at Willets’ Point on Long Island, New York, as well as participating in preliminary operations for the building of another fort at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. From 1858-1860, he would be variously employed in the on-going construction of Fort Sumter; repairs to Fort Moultrie; Forts Macon and Caswell in North Carolina; and Fort Carroll. He would also be promoted to Captain in the Corps of Engineers as of July 1, 1860, for “fourteen years continuous service.”
Service at Moultrie (1860)
Foster was to distinguish himself after being specially detailed to return to restive Charleston, South Carolina, so as to upgrade all of its Federal harbor defenses against any possible secessionist seizure. He reached Moultrie on the morning of November 11, 1860, and threw himself into this work. He maintained an office in Charleston proper, but was frequently present at diverse work-sites, and lived on Sullivan’s Island with his wife Mary and only child Annie, his 23-year-old brother-in-law Edward Moale, and a black servant named Benjamin Scott, in a cottage near Fort Moultrie rented from the wealthy Charles H. Simonton. (Foster later mentioned in a letter dated on January 12, 1861 and addressed to his superior in Washington, Gen. Joseph G. Totten, following the Federal garrison’s escape into Fort Sumter: “All of my personal effects are in the house that I occupied on Sullivan’s Island, with the exception of some few things that I have here.” War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume 1, Page 138.)
In that highly-charged atmosphere of late 1860, Foster also proved to be a strong leader for the beleaguered Federal outpost, beyond his engineering contributions. More than six feet tall and powerfully built, a veteran soldier, Capt. Abner Doubleday would later remember him as “one of the most fearless and reliable men in the service.” When Maj. Robert Anderson furthermore arrived ten days later to supplant Col. John L. Gardner as commandant, the pace of Foster’s labors accelerated. By the first week of December 1860, he had 260 laborers toiling away — 125 at Moultrie, 115 in unfinished Sumter, and 30 more at Castle Pinckney — so that new defenses rapidly began taking shape. In addition to a pair of caponnieres and a fifteen-foot-wide ditch encircling Moultrie, Foster added a bastionette to its northwest point, and bricked up its two postern entrances “at Major Anderson’s request, as he felt too weak to use them for sorties, and as the doors might be burst in, both the iron and woodwork being old and defective.”
As tensions rose, Foster even used his laborers to mount howitzers and raise merlons, explaining to his superiors in Washington how he had used his hired civilian workers on such military tasks because “the garrison is too weak to undertake any work, beside the drills.” He also spread rumors about having heavily mined Moultrie, to give pause to any surprise-assault being contemplated by South Carolinian militiamen. Eventually, Foster’s wife Mary hosted a dinner-party on Christmas Day, 1860, at their “residence in the neighboring village of Moultrieville,” which was attended by Major Anderson and several dignitaries from Charleston. And when Anderson abruptly announced his decision shortly thereafter to evacuate his fort for Sumter on the evening of December 26, 1860, Foster remained behind with a small party to cripple Moultrie’s main armament by burning the carriages of eleven guns facing Sumter, which would be difficult to remount without a gin. He even cut down Moultrie’s flagstaff, before slipping across the harbor with his party next morning.
Subsequent Service & Death (1861-1874)
Foster served bravely during the subsequent bombardment of Fort Sumter by encircling Confederate batteries on April 12-13, 1861, and was evacuated to New York City. After being briefly reassigned to the Engineer Bureau at Washington, D. C., from April 22 to May 5, 1861 and declining appointment as a full Major in the 11th U.S. Infantry, he was instead sent to superintend the construction of Sandy Hook Fort in New Jersey until November 22, 1861. Given the rank of Brigadier General of Volunteers one month previously, he then assumed command over his new troops at Annapolis, Maryland by November 25, 1861, and five days before Christmas departed as a brigade commander in Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s seaborne expedition to secure a Union foothold in North Carolina.
Foster received a field-promotion to Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel in the regular Army on February 8, 1862, for his “gallant and meritorious services” in the capture of the Confederate garrison defending Roanoke Island, as well as to Brevet Colonel for the subsequent securing of New Bern, North Carolina, by that same March 14th. Once Fort Macon was invested and subdued on April 26, 1862, the bulk of Burnside’s army was diverted to the Peninsula Campaign, leaving Foster at the head of the 18th Army Corps in command of the Department of North Carolina from July 1, 1862. He successfully held this enclave against assorted Confederate counter-thrusts over the ensuing year, during which he also rose to full Major in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as of March 3, 1863.
Returning into Washington that summer, Foster received promotion to Major-General of Volunteers (back-dated to July 18, 1862) and was placed in command of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina on July 1, 1863. Severely injured when his horse accidentally fell on him on December 23, 1863, he was obliged to relinquish his departmental command and convalesce on sick-leave in Baltimore from February 9 to May 5, 1864. Foster resumed his station at Hilton Head Island in time to support Gen. William T. Sherman’s advance northward in late 1864, and at the conclusion of the war was put in charge of Florida.
As U.S. armed forces were restored to a peacetime footing, Foster was mustered out of the Volunteer service effective September 1, 1866, and resumed his duties at the Engineer Bureau as a Major in January 1867. Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel by March 7, 1867, he was posted two months later to superintend defensive works at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and would spend the next five years on a variety of engineering projects. His wife Mary died in New York on June 6, 1871, and the 48-year-old widower promptly married 18-year-old Anna or “Annie” Johnson Davis of New York in a lavish ceremony at St. Matthew the Apostle Church in Washington, D. C., that following January 9, 1872, which was attended by a bevy of dignitaries such as General Sherman and the U.S. Secretary of War. Foster himself died at Nashua on September 2, 1874, still only 51 years of age, and was buried behind its Unitarian Universalist Church. Fort Foster, on the southwestern tip of Gerrish Island in Kittery, Maine, would later be named in his honor.
Gardner, John Lane (1793-1869)
Long-serving U.S. artillery officer, who — late during his career — was put in command of peacetime Fort Moultrie, only to be relieved because of his age by Maj. Robert Anderson, just as armed confrontation with the South Carolinian authorities was threatening to climax.
Birth & Initial War of 1812 Service (1793-1814)
Gardner had been born in Boston as long ago as August 1, 1793, the second son and third of five children of a Massachusetts merchant and militia captain named Robert Gardner, and his wife Sarah or “Sally” (née Dench). His father having quarreled with various colleagues and been cashiered from that state’s militia, the senior Gardner thereupon joined the U.S. Army, before failing in business as well and consequently moving his entire family to Washington, D.C.
His teenaged middle son John was enrolled into the U.S. Army during the War of 1812, military records indicating that he was appointed as a Third Lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Infantry Regiment as of May 20, 1813, then promoted to Second Lieutenant on March 28, 1814 — during Maj.-Gen. James Wilkinson’s final ill-fated push into Canada. Two days afterward, this American army forged through heavy snow to assault British forces dug in at La Colle river-ford (ten miles west of Île aux Noix, Quebec), and young John Gardner was among many who fell wounded in their attempts to carry the thick stone mill which served as the defenders’ strongpoint. Wilkinson subsequently retreated south with his demoralized army into Plattsburgh, New York, to face a court of inquiry.
Early Peacetime Duties (1815-1829)
Soon after the War of 1812 had concluded and American forces were being demobilized, the 21-year-old Gardner transferred into the U.S. Artillery on May 17, 1815, becoming a First Lieutenant in this branch three years later, as of April 20, 1818. He was also appointed an Assistant Quartermaster on May 18, 1820, joined the 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment on June 1, 1821, and then moved on to the 4th Artillery during a general reorganization ordered by the War Department that same August 16th. Gardner was promoted to Captain on November 1, 1823 and at the age of 32, married 21-year-old Caroline Goldsborough — the daughter of Charles and Catharine Goldsborough — on October 6, 1825 in the District of Columbia, with whom he would eventually have four children: daughters Elizabeth Greenbury, Caroline Goldsborough, and Catharine Frances, plus a son christened as Henry W.
According to the U.S. Returns from Military Posts, Gardner was posted to Fort Marion Barracks at St. Augustine in East Florida from October 1825 until March 1826, at which time he was returned to the regimental base at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. He remained on its books until August 1827, although Gardner may have also been detached for a period to the Quartermaster General’s Office in Washington, as a note is known to have been written by him from that office to Secretary of State Henry Clay on June 5, 1827 (see The Papers of Henry Clay, Vol. 6, 1981 University Press of Kentucky edition, Pages 649-650). The 4th Artillery’s headquarters was subsequently moved to Fort Columbus, New York, where Gardner figured on its books from September 1828 until April 1829.
Brief West Point Tenure & Renewed Stagnation (1829-1835)
Although not himself a graduate of the United States Military Academy, Gardner was detached for duty at West Point in May 1829, remaining at that institution until at least October 1830. The Register for the Academy’s graduating classes in both June 1829 and June 1830 listed “Captain J. L. Gardner (4th Artillery), Assistant Quarter Master,” as a member of its academic staff. (A new cadet who also happened to become enrolled at West Point during this interlude, was Edgar Allan Poe on July 1, 1830, although he only remained at the Academy for a few months.)
By June 1832, Gardner was mentioned as being stationed in “New York Harbor,” from where he was transferred back to Fortress Monroe once again in April 1833. He was brevetted as a Major of artillery on November 1, 1833 — although merely “for ten years’ faithful service in one grade,” rather than any particular distinctive action or service. Like many other career officers, Gardner’s advancement had become stalled in the peacetime Army.
Almost two years later, he was still listed in the Army and Navy Chronicle issue of August 20, 1835 (Vol. 1, No. 34, Page 272) as being in command of Company A of the 4th Artillery at Fortress Monroe — a unit which was temporarily transferred in September 1835 to Fort Washington in Maryland, before being rotated back into Fortress Monroe that same November.
Second Seminole War (1836-1839)
Gardner’s status as being posted at the head of Company A at Fortress Monroe was repeated on Page 142 of the September 1, 1836 issue of the Army and Navy Chronicle, but Gardner had in fact already sailed with this unit that previous month to Garey’s Ferry, Florida, to participate in the already on-going Second Seminole War. His artillerymen operated out of Fort Heilman during September-October 1836, before taking part in the clumsy pursuit by Florida Gov. and militia Gen. Richard K. Call into the Wahoo Swamp. During the ensuing confused confrontation against the Seminoles, it was reported that “[Lieutenant-Colonel] Pierce and Gardner heard more of the whistling of rifle balls than any other commanders,” and he was commended for showing “the utmost activity, skill, and intrepidity” during this engagement.
Once Call was supplanted by the regular U.S. Army Maj.-Gen. Thomas Jesup, Gardner’s company was garrisoned at Volusia, East Florida in early 1837, as well as subsequently rotating among several other outposts on patrol. After a brief respite in Fortress Monroe during August-September 1837, when hostilities seemed to have died down, Gardner sailed for Florida once again that same October, as part of a renewed effort to clear the Seminoles from the St. John’s River (Army and Navy Chronicle, Vol. V, No. 17, Whole No. 147, Page 265). Lt. John Pickell, Adjutant of the 4th U.S. Artillery Regiment at that time, recorded in his second journal how he found Gardner’s two companies occupying Volusia once more on November 17, 1837, and Gardner was listed as still being stationed at Fort Micanopy as late as April 1838.
But he and his company were withdrawn from Florida shortly thereafter, to help remove the Cherokee Indians from western North Carolina, before returning into Fort Columbus from July-September 1838. Late that same year, the regiment was ordered back to East Florida and employed in constant scouting, as well as in building roads and forts. Gardner remained at Fort Mellon until February 1839. A travel-notice inserted on Page 267 of the April 25, 1839 edition of the Army and Navy Chronicle (Vol. VIII, No. 17, Whole No. 225) recorded how Gardner and another U.S. Army officer had reached Charleston from Savannah aboard the steam-packet Thorn on April 16th, and the May 16, 1839 issue of this same publication reported that Gardner had been returned to Fort Columbus, where the entire regiment was gathered two weeks later to attend the summer-long “Grand Camp of Instruction” at Trenton, New Jersey.
Authorship & Garrison Duties (1839-1845)
He is known to have travelled during this interlude to Washington, D.C., arriving there on June 6, 1839 according to Vol. VIII, No. 24, Whole No. 232, Page 378 of the June 13th edition of the Army and Navy Chronicle. This was to be the same year that Gardner apparently self-published a book entitled Military Control, or Command and Government of the Army, written anonymously — the author’s name being given simply as “An Officer of the Line” — and himself paying to have it printed by A. B. Claxton & Company in the national capital, so as to be sold for fifty cents a copy. Gardner moreover remained as part of the instructional “Camp Washington” throughout August-September 1839, before being sent with Companies A and K to take command of the frontier outpost of Fort Gratiot, Michigan from October 1839 until October 1841, with a brief detachment to the Madison Barracks in New York Harbor during July 1840.
Gardner was permanently assigned to the Madison Barracks as of November 1841, after the 4th Artillery’s headquarters had been relocated into Buffalo, New York. Then he was transferred with a single company, to assume command over Fort Severn at Annapolis, Maryland in July 1842. In a side-note, it is also recorded how he presided as judge at the court-martial of Second Lt. Bryant P. Tilden, Jr., of the 2nd Infantry Regiment on January 21, 1843. Two years later, the American Almanac for 1845 would still list Gardner as being a Brevet Major of the 4th Artillery Regt., in command of Fort Severn, and in his private capacity he was recorded as a lay member of Maryland’s Protestant Episcopal Church convention that same May 1845, attending along with some of his in-laws. On August 15, 1845, the Secretary of War ordered that Fort Severn pass from Army to Navy control, so that Gardner — once this handover had been completed — was directed to proceed with his company to rejoin the bulk of his regiment at its headquarters in Fortress Monroe. He remained there from September 1845, until the following summer. Shortly after rejoining, the Niles National Register had also announced in its February 14, 1846 edition (Vol. 69, Page 370) how “John L. Gardiner [sic]” had been promoted to full Major in the U.S. Army as of October 13, 1845.
Distinguished Mexican War Service (1846-1848)
As a threat of hostilities with Mexico escalated, four of the 4th Artillery’s companies were sent from Fortress Monroe in advance under Lt.-Col. M. M. Payne that same autumn of 1845, to join Brig. Gen. Zachary Taylor’s “Army of Occupation” as it was marshaling at Corpus Christi, Texas. These four fought in the opening battles of the war at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma in May 1846, before Gardner was dispatched from Fortress Monroe with Companies F and H in July 1846, disembarking at Fort Polk on Brazos Island to reinforce the American army. He remained at this seaside base with Company F, as the remainder of the batteries advanced with Taylor into northern Mexico, seizing Monterrey by late September 1846 and repulsing Santa Anna’s counter-offensive at Buena Vista in February 1847. [The 4th Regiment’s octogenarian Col. John de B. Walbach had not departed Virginia on campaign, because of his veryadvanced age.]
Mexican resistance having evaporated in the northern theater after the Battle of Buena Vista, Gardner was reassigned with the 4th Artillery’s Companies A, D, F, G, and H to join Brig. Gen. David E. Twiggs’ division in Gen. Winfield Scott’s seaborne expedition, which landed at Veracruz to open up a second front in early March 1847. Gardner’s batteries frequently distinguished themselves as this second American army fought its way inland, receiving a brevet or field-promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel on April 18, 1847 for his service at the Battle of Cerro Gordo, and another to brevet Colonel on August 20, 1847 for his actions in the encounter at Contreras, where he commanded the right column of the attack.
Once Mexico City fell, Gardner would also play a significant role in its military occupation. According to Scott’s General Order No. 15, issued in that city on January 11, 1848, Major Gardner was appointed “superintendent of the direct and indirect taxes for the support of the army on that portion of Mexico called the Federal District,” a large region which encompassed the Mexican capital and many outlying jurisdictions. Almost three months later, hostilities officially ended and the American forces began evacuating via Veracruz. Gardner and his 4th Artillery returned triumphantly into Fortress Monroe by late May 1848, where he was able to give away his eldest daughter Elizabeth in marriage to the young engineering subaltern (and fellow Mexican War veteran) Isaac F. Quinby at Old Point Comfort that same October 6th, before being ordered to depart with a battalion comprised of Companies G, H, and I to assume command over Forts Pickens and McRee at Pensacola, Florida.
Peacetime Deployments (1848-1857)
Arriving in Pensacola Bay before that same year of 1848 was out, the 55-year-old Gardner and his 4th Artillery officers and gunners were at first dismayed by the dilapidated state of its vacated quarters. Refurbishment and repairs immediately began, supplies of fresh provisions were arranged, while Gardner wrote protests to Washington. The June 6, 1849, edition of Niles’s National Register of Philadelphia (Vol. 75, No. 23, Page 353) mentioned the following news-item:
Col. John L. Gardner of the 4th Artillery, arrived here yesterday from Pensacola, where he has been stationed in command of the posts near that place, to assume the command of the Military Department lately held by Major General Brooke. This department extends, we believe, from Baton Rouge to Key West. We learn, however, that Col. Gardner, with the consent of Major General Gaines, commanding the Western Division, will make his headquarters at Pensacola.
Gardner did indeed transfer the 4th Artillery’s headquarters out of Forts Pickens and McRee into the more habitable mainland town of Pensacola, and personally moved around among various outposts in Florida throughout his initial tenure as that district’s commandant. In October 1850, the 4th Artillery was rotated out of West Florida to Fort Columbus, Gardner departing with his last company from Fort Myers that same December 1850.
Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in the U.S. Army on August 3, 1852, Gardner was also made Brevet Colonel of the 1st Artillery Regt., and so had to depart Fort McHenry and return to Pensacola that same November 1852 for another year of duty there, as it was now a base for the 1st Artillery. Upon leaving Florida in December 1853, he was placed in command of Fort McHenry, and remained at that posting until at least May 1856.
Tenure at Moultrie (1858-1860)
Gardner arrived to assume command over Fort Moultrie on June 16, 1858 (as he himself stated next year, on Page 5 of the court-martial Proceedings against Dr. Bernard M. Byrne). The returns for mid-1858 certainly identify “Lt. Col. and Bvt. Col. J. L. Gardner” as being the commandant at Moultrie. He, his wife, and unmarried daughter Caroline, all lived in a fine big house opposite its Western Postern exit, the lease for this residence paid for by the U.S. government. Shortly after its new garrison had been installed from their extended tour in Florida, one of these newly-arrived soldiers fell ill on August 12, 1858, while serving as Gardner’s household orderly. At first misdiagnosed as simply suffering from gastritis, this man then abruptly worsened and died four days later, of an evident case of yellow fever. A servant girl in Gardner’s home sickened next, on August 25th and died five days afterward, signaling the beginning of an epidemic.
Though mustering fewer than fifty men at Fort Moultrie, he effected an arrangement with Joseph Pannell Taylor, commissary-general, for six months’ provisions, and announced his intention to defend the fort to the last extremity against the secessionists. However, some also believed he favored Southern sentiments, “frequently asserting that the South had been treated outrageously in the question of the Territories, and defrauded of her just rights in other respects.” (Bearss, p. 157.)
Lt. Theodore Talbot wrote to his sister in 1860, that Gardner was “utterly incompetent to command a post under the most favorable circumstances.”
Subsequent Career & Death (1861-1869)
Secretary of War John B. Floyd relieved him from command in mid-November 1860, ordering Gardner to report to Gen. David E. Twiggs in Texas, while Maj. Robert Anderson succeeded to the command at Fort Moultrie. Next year, Gardner was promoted to Colonel of the 2nd Artillery Regiment, but in 1862 was — by his own request — placed on the retired list, and employed merely in a recruiting capacity for the remainder of the Civil War. He was brevetted a Brigadier-General in 1865 “for long and faithful service,” and died in Wilmington, Delaware, on February 19, 1869, being buried in Immanuel Episcopal Churchyard at New Castle.
Macomb, Alexander (1782-1841)
U.S. engineering officer who very early during his career, built the third and final version of Fort Moultrie, and then went on to attain the highest rank in the U.S. Army, capping a remarkably distinguished military career.
Birth & Education (1782-1798)
Born on April 3, 1782 in a large two-storey home beside the British-held frontier outpost at Detroit, Michigan, he was the third son and seventh of ten children of the wealthy fur-trader and land-speculator Alexander Macomb, Sr., and his Franco-American wife Mary Catherine Navarre. The infant’s father and uncle William were the richest men in that region, controlling much of its water-borne commerce and vast tracts of fertile, under-developed territory. Shortly after the American Revolutionary War ended next year, Alexander Macomb moved his family to New York City, and initially prospered there as well, living on a grand scale. His magnificent home on Broadway, standing between Trinity Church and the Battery, was even leased in 1791 by the U.S. government to serve as the Presidential mansion for George Washington. However, the senior Macomb’s purchase of 3.6 million acres of virgin land in Upper New York State subsequently proved to be a financial disaster, ending with his ruin and indignity of being hauled off to debtor’s prison during the Panic of March 1792, having plunged more than $300,000 into debt.
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Prior to this reversal, his eight-year-old son Alexander had been enrolled in the Newark Academy in New Jersey, proving to be an exceptional student. His education and comfortable upbringing would be continued thanks to the marriage of his eldest sister Jane to the well-to-do Robert Kennedy in 1795, who owned a handsome estate named Peterboro on the Passaic River near to Newark. Three years later, as international tensions heightened against the radical government of Revolutionary France, 16-year-old Alexander was elected a member on May 28, 1798 of an exclusive volunteer company known as the “New York Rangers,” attached to the 3rd New York State Militia Regiment. That same autumn, young Macomb successfully petitioned for a transfer into the regular U.S. Army, which was being expanded onto a wartime footing, his application being supported by a recommendation from Maj.-Gen. Alexander Hamilton.
Early Military Career (1799-1802)
Young Macomb was duly commissioned on January 10, 1799 as a Cornet in the Light Dragoons, and assigned to staff duty in New York City as an assistant to Lt.-Col. William North, the U.S. Army’s recently reinstalled Adjutant-General. Promoted to Second Lieutenant as of March 1799, Macomb was honorably discharged by June 1800, once this Quasi-War with France had ended and military strength was being reduced to its former peacetime status. Macomb thereupon travelled into Canada to visit British Gen. Napier C. Burton’s headquarters garrison at Montreal, and upon his return into the United States was commissioned on February 10, 1801 by Pres. Thomas Jefferson, as a Second Lieutenant of Dragoons.
Ordered to Philadelphia on recruiting service, 18-year-old Macomb — fluent in French ever since childhood — enjoyed ample free time there to study “the science of fortification and military topography” under an exiled French engineering officer. His interest whetted by this introduction, Macomb — after successfully conducting his body of recruits to Pittsburgh — was temporarily reassigned to serve under an acquaintance, Maj. Jonathan Williams of the 2nd Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers, “in preparing the drawings, calculations, estimates, and memoirs necessary to illustrate the plans” for a proposed new fort which was to be erected on Black Rock near Buffalo, New York, opposite the British border-stronghold across the Niagara River in Fort Erie, Ontario.
Macomb was subsequently retained as an aide on the staff of Gen. James Wilkinson, departing this commissioner’s encampment at Southwest Point at the juncture of the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers in August 1801, to conduct negotiations with various Cherokee and native tribal leaders in hopes of paving the way for American expansion and settlement throughout the interior. A treaty was duly concluded at Milledgeville, Georgia, by July 1802, which the 20-year-old Lieutenant then conveyed to Washington, D.C., via Charleston, South Carolina. During his year-long absence in the wilderness, the U.S. Army had once again been contracted in size, so that Macomb now found himself transferred to the 1st U.S. Infantry Regiment.
Initial Engineering Duties (1802-1806)
But rather than report to this branch, Macomb instead preferred to take a commission proffered by Williams as First Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers, which he accepted on October 12, 1802 so as to follow this officer to West Point, where Lieutenant-Colonel Williams had been named as first Superintendent of the newly-created United States Military Academy. Macomb was to serve as both instructor and student among this first generation of West Point cadets, and next summer furthermore married his sixteen-year-old cousin Catharine Macomb on July 23, 1803.
The 21-year-old subaltern was ordered that same autumn of 1803 to preside over the court-martial at Fredericktown, Maryland, of Col. Thomas Butler (for refusing a direct order to cut his old-fashioned queue of long hair), and conducted these proceedings so admirably that several participants suggested that young Lieutenant Macomb write an official treatise on the proper manner for conducting general courts-martial.
After completing two more years of study at West Point, in May 1805 Macomb reported to U.S. Army headquarters in Washington, where he was promoted to Captain in the Corps of Engineers as of June 11, 1805. An admiring biographer would later describe him as “above the ordinary height, being five feet, nine and a half inches”, with blue eyes. His first independent architectural assignment entailed repairing the harbor works at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and early in 1806 the 23-year-old officer was appointed to replace the deceased engineer Johannes Christian Senf as Superintendent of the new national depot and armory which were being built at remote Rocky Mount (or “Mount Dearborn” as it had become known since 1803, in honor of Gen. Henry Dearborn), located about 36 miles up the Catawba River above Camden, South Carolina.
While toiling away on this difficult engineering project in its wild riverside setting, Macomb would devote his spare time to commence writing the suggested treatise on Army courts-martial, consulting on this subject with the retired 50-year-old Brigadier General and former Governor of North Carolina, the erudite politician William R. Davie, who lived eighteen miles away on an estate named Tivoli, near Landsford in Chester County [today part of South Carolina’s Landsford Canal State Park]. A draft of Macomb’s manuscript would also eventually be sent on to Davie’s friend, 60-year-old Maj.-Gen. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in Charleston, for further revision and suggestions.
Construction of Fort Moultrie (1807-1809)
Macomb was also directed in early July 1806 by Colonel Williams, in his capacity as Chief of the Corps of Engineers at Washington, to visit Charleston Harbor and prepare a report on its various U.S. military sites, which had been leveled by a massive hurricane almost two years previously. The 24-year-old Captain was ordered back to that seaport for a second time in early January 1807, to begin contracting for local materials “necessary for repairing old and erecting some new works,” yet was hindered in his attempts to initiate this effort by repeated bureaucratic delays. When Colonel Williams disembarked at Charleston’s waterfront on a regional inspection-tour on March 12, 1807, he was disappointed to find that no progress at all had been made toward reconstituting any of its harbor defenses.
Williams consequently suggested six weeks later to Secretary of War Dearborn, that the ruins of old Fort Moultrie be entirely replaced by Macomb with a new structure, and other defensive enhancements made around Charleston Harbor. Yet before any funds could be voted for this purpose by Congress, the British frigate H.M.S. Leopard unexpectedly fired into the neutral U.S. warship Chesapeake in a confrontation off the Virginia coast, provoking an international crisis. Amid the nation-wide rush to bolster American coastal defenses, Macomb was welcomed back into Charleston from Mount Dearborn for a third time, bringing orders to temporarily reinforce old Moultrie’s ruins with palmetto logs and sand, until sturdier materials could be gathered for the erection of a proper new fort. Yet he was disappointed to find that the assembled South Carolina militiamen refused to perform any kind of manual labor, instead insisting that all work be done by slaves hired out by their masters, for which additional expenditure Macomb had been given no authorization. He therefore returned to Rocky Mount by mid-September 1807, to continue his work there.
Congress finally voted to fund construction of a major new nationwide chain of coastal defenses on November 24, 1807, which would become known collectively as the “Second System” fortifications. Macomb, now with a proper budget and promoted to Major, regained Charleston on February 18, 1808, establishing his headquarters there and immediately launching into a series of labors intended to strengthen all of its seaside defenses. As part of this broad effort, old Moultrie’s remnants were to be stripped of salvageable materials such as bricks, so as to start a new enclosure a short distance behind its ruins.
Macomb had likewise been made responsible for the engineering needs of this entire district, so in July 1808 he sailed on an inspection-tour to Wilmington, North Carolina, and from there visited Beaufort, where young Capt. Charles C. Gratiot was erecting a military work. Lt. William Partridge was likewise building another in Winyah Bay at Georgetown, South Carolina, while Capt. William McRee was supervising construction of yet a third project in Georgia. Macomb would report about an even more perilous trip which he undertook in September and October 1808, when he travelled to the southernmost limits of his jurisdiction:
… as far as St. Mary’s and the Floridas, on the duties of my profession. I went through the inland navigation with a boat & six men, and returned after an absence of two months with only three of my crew, and they all sick. I made this voyage not only on account of its being the only means of getting at the different points in my district, but with a view of obtaining a complete knowledge of the inland navigation, and the avenues through which an enemy might assail the weaker parts of our country.
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By late 1808, Fort Mechanic had been completed in the City of Charleston, and the local South Carolinian militia were claiming “the right to garrison it.” As for Moultrie on nearby Sullivan’s Island, a single-level structure would gradually emerge there next year under Macomb’s supervision, with three sides facing out so as to cover the main ship-channel and other ancillary approaches leading into Charleston Harbor, this shoreline stronghold intended to be armed with 30 guns mounted en barbette and enclosing two-storey barracks capable of housing a garrison of up to 300 men. Moultrie’s design-elements conformed to other American forts of this same generation, and its new enclosure was completed before the year 1809 drew to a close, with the installation of its gate within the fortified sally-port. (A year-and-a-half later, though, Macomb would still be lamenting that its outer works had not been dug out properly or finished off according to his plan.)
Sometime during that ensuing winter of 1808-1809, the 26-year-old Macomb sat for an engraved portrait by the famed French exile, Charles de Saint-Mémin, who was visiting Charleston for a spell, on tour from his regular studio and home in Burlington, New Jersey. The young engineer officially turned over his finished version of Fort Moultrie, with seven of its 30 guns already mounted, to Lt.-Col. John Smith of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment on December 19, 1809, who had come from Rocky Mount specifically for this purpose with two companies of regulars, plus a troop of light dragoons. These soldiers were embarked from Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, and shuttled across the harbor aboard boats to Sullivan’s Island, so as to be installed as the new Fort Moultrie’s first permanent U.S. Army garrison.
Subsequent Career (1810-1841)
Moultrie completed, Macomb remained on as Chief Engineer for all works in the Southern states, his headquarters still located at Charleston, and was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel — as well as becoming second-in-command of the entire Corps of Engineers — as of February 25, 1811. He meanwhile launched into the construction of Castle Pinckney, for which twenty-five 24-pounder guns would be shipped to arm it by the U.S. Superintendent of Military Stores, before Macomb departed on another regional inspection-tour that same summer of 1811. He then presided over the court-martial and acquittal of his old commander, Major-General Wilkinson, at Fredericktown that same September 1811, and next spring was summoned to Washington to be appointed as Adjutant-General for the entire U.S. Army on April 28, 1812, as war with Great Britain was threatening. When these hostilities actually erupted soon thereafter, he immediately requested line-duty (which was otherwise denied to engineers), and so became commissioned on July 6, 1812 as Colonel of the newly-created 3rd Regiment of Artillery, which was being formed in New York.
Macomb marched his regiment from Cantonment Greenbush to the frontline border-port of Sackets Harbor on Lake Ontario in November 1812, so as to participate in Commo. Isaac Chauncey’s assault against Kingston [Ontario], but arrived to find this American squadron already gone. Once it returned and was laid up for the winter, Macomb remained in command at Sackets Harbor, despite seeking to actively participate in the renewed offensives into Canada next spring. He missed the taking of York [modern Toronto], but was present in the aftermath to the capture of Fort George in late May, 1813. And he took part in Wilkinson’s ill-fated invasion attempt toward Montreal, whose army was crippled at the Battle of Crysler’s Farm and retired into winter quarters at French Mills by November 13, 1813.
After a cross-country trek under a flag-of-truce into Canada, Macomb was promoted to Brigadier General on January 24, 1814 and given command of the deceased Gen. Leonard Covington’s brigade. Wilkinson was recalled in disgrace to face a court of inquiry, but Macomb distinguished himself in the subsequent defense of Plattsburgh, New York, against a large Anglo-Canadian army under Sir George Prevost in early September 1814, winning a brevet promotion to Major-General and a Congressional Gold Medal.
Once the War of 1812 concluded, the U.S. Army was ordered in March 1815 to reduce to a peacetime strength of 10,000 troops within two months, only two Major-Generals and four Brigadiers being retained on active duty; Macomb was senior among the latter quartet. Initially assigned to command over the Third Military Department with his headquarters in New York City, he was transferred in 1816 to the Fifth Military Department at Detroit, a city which he had not visited in more than a quarter-century. His five-year tenure in that wilderness would prove to be very successful, as he established new Great Lake outposts at Fort Gratiot, Chicago, Michilimackinac, Green Bay, etc.
Another contraction in U.S. Army strength reduced him to the rank of Colonel, although he was then recalled to be appointed as Head of the Engineer Department in Washington, D.C. Macomb departed Detroit aboard a steamboat on June 8, 1821, accompanied by his wife, nine young children, and mother-in-law, disgorging at Georgetown twelve days later. His seven-year service as Chief Engineer would also prove highly satisfactory, as the Corps built many public roads and enhanced canal navigation throughout the nation, in addition to its military obligations. Macomb’s own personal life was clouded with tragedy when his wife died within their first year in the national capital, while giving birth to a daughter. Four years later, Macomb would marry the widow Harriet Balch Wilson in May 1826, daughter of a Presbyterian pastor in Georgetown.
When the U.S. Army commander, Maj.-Gen. Jacob Brown, died in February 1828, a dispute arose between Brig. Gens. Winfield Scott and Edmund P. Gaines as to who should succeed him. Macomb was technically next in seniority, yet had accepted demotion from senior Brigadier upon assuming command over the Engineer Department. Pres. John Quincy Adams opted to recommend Macomb’s direct promotion to the vacant rank of Major-General, and thus become overall commander of the U.S. Army, which motion was approved by a large majority in the U.S. Senate. Resentment against his elevation would nonetheless linger in military circles, yet Macomb remained in that position for the next thirteen years, until his death at Washington on June 25, 1841.
Ripley, Roswell Sabin (1823-1887)
Northern-born artillery officer who retired from the U.S. Army to become a prosperous resident of South Carolina, and as a Lieutenant-Colonel in its militia refurbished Moultrie’s defenses, as well as directing its Confederate gunners during the subsequent bombardment of Fort Sumter.
Birth & Early Army Career (1823-1852)
Ripley had been born on March 14, 1823, in a house which still stands at 623 High Street in Worthington, Ohio, a small village in Franklin County, not too far from the city of Columbus. He was the second child and only son of Christopher Ripley — himself a volunteer militia Captain during the War of 1812 — and his wife Julia (née Caulkins). The elder Ripley had already been residing in Worthington on business, when he had purchased this combined brick store and residence for $1,250 just a month prior to his wife giving birth. The infant was named for his maternal grandfather, the patriot Roswell Caulkins, who had served at Valley Forge and Monmouth, and it appears as if the child may have actually been baptized with the middle name of “Sabin,” although it would often be misspelled as “Sabine” throughout his lifetime and ever since.
At the age of four, Ripley’s family moved briefly to Massachusetts, then relocated to his father’s new business in Ogdensburg, New York. But C. Ripley & Company had failed by 1830, so that Roswell’s father temporarily worked as a purchasing agent for the Canadian firm of Molson, Davies, and Company of Montreal. The senior Ripley eventually sold his Worthington property at a loss in 1834 for $1,100, and along with two associates invested heavily in a large tract of land from “Macomb’s Purchase” in 1836, being ruined when they could not subsequently sell off enough plots to recoup their original investment.
Three years afterward, sixteen-year-old Roswell received an appointment to the United States Military Academy in 1839. The U.S. Army Register recorded two years later, how the second-year pupil had stood fifth in his class and excelled in “Mathematics, French, Drawing, and English Grammar” during the June 1841 examinations, and in fact the teenage Ripley proved to be an excellent cadet throughout his tenure at West Point, never receiving more than 55 demerits during any single term. He graduated on June 30, 1843, seventh out of a class of 39 cadets — although reputedly not popular among his classmates, who included such famous future generals as Ulysses S. Grant, William S. Rosencrans, and Samuel G. French.
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Ripley received a brevet commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment as of July 1, 1843, and after the traditional three-months’ home-leave was posted to peacetime garrison-duty: first at Fort McHenry outside of Baltimore, Maryland, where he remained from the autumn of 1843 into 1844. He was then transferred to Fort Johnston on the Cape Fear River near Smithville [modern Southport] in North Carolina for part of 1844, before being moved on to the Augusta Arsenal from 1844 into that following autumn. Ripley furthermore served briefly as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and artillery instructor at West Point from September 20, 1845 to January 17, 1846, and one week after that was assigned to detached service with the United States Coast Survey, on which duty he remained for only four months until May 19, 1846. While thus employed, Ripley finally “came off his brevet” as well, becoming a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Artillery Regiment as of March 26, 1846.
Mexican War & Aftermath (1846-1851)
When the war with Mexico erupted, Ripley was initially assigned in July 1846 to the staff of Gen. Zachary Taylor, under whom he saw action at the Battle of Monterrey that same September. But after offensive operations in northern Mexico had subsided into uneventful occupation, Ripley’s unit was among many others which were transferred early next year to serve under the command of Gen. Winfield Scott, so that the 24-year-old Second Lieutenant took part in the seaborne disembarkation which besieged and seized the port of Veracruz, and then pushed into Central Mexico to threaten the enemy capital. Ripley was officially promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant in the regular Army as of March 3, 1847, and six weeks afterward distinguished himself at the Battle of Cerro Gordo, being brevetted a Captain for his “gallant and meritorious conduct” on April 18, 1847.
Once the American army resumed its advance upon Mexico City, he was assigned to the staff of the politician-soldier Brig. Gen. of Volunteers Gideon J. Pillow as of August 6, 1847, a well-connected lawyer who had received his commission from his political ally, Pres. James Polk. Ripley was made a brevet Major for his heroism in Pillow’s final assault against Chapultepec Castle on September 13, 1847, and abetted his self-aggrandizing superior in his escalating dispute with General Scott. Even after the conclusion of hostilities next year, Ripley remained a member of Pillow’s staff and returned home with him to Clifton, Tennessee, being granted a leave-of-absence from his regular U.S. Army duties as of May 1848 so as to swiftly write a two-volume, 1,200-page work entitled The War with Mexico, which was highly favorable to Pillow’s conduct. Three days after Pillow was promoted to Major-General in the U.S. Army by his friend Polk, Ripley was relieved from this staff-assignment as of July 20, 1848, yet continued to write and oversee the publication of his book in New York City by Harper & Brothers in 1849.
That same year, Ripley furthermore returned to active duty and saw a bit more action in the Second Seminole War: the Congressional Edition of 1849, for example, including on its Pages 57-59, a couple of letters written on August 9 and 12, 1849 by “Brevet Major R. S. Ripley, 2d Art.,” after being dispatched from St. Augustine’s Fort Marion with a body of troops to investigate an attack against the new American settlement on the Indian River. Next year, Ripley was reassigned to garrison-duty at Fort McHenry outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and was recorded in The United States Postal Guide and Official Advertiser (Vol. I, Number 9, Page 264) as having made an official visit on February 12, 1851 to Washington, D.C. Ripley was subsequently posted for the remainder of 1851 to Fort Monroe, Virginia, and his father died on September 17th of that same year.
Fort Moultrie Assignment, Marriage, and Resignation (1852-1853)
“Brevet Maj. R. S. Ripley” was once again mentioned as having visited Washington, D.C., on January 15 and 23, 1852, after which he was assigned to Fort Moultrie. Shortly after arriving at this South Carolinian station, the 29-year-old Ripley began actively courting the wealthy 28-year-old widow Alicia Middleton, who came from an influential Charlestonian family and had been the wife of the diplomat Dr. William Alexander Sparks of Society Hill, deceased three years previously while serving as U.S. Consul at Venice, Italy. The novelist William Gilmore Simms, who was vacationing on Sullivan’s Island during that same summer, wrote the following account in a letter dated August 18, 1852:
A friend, Major Ripley, has had quite an adventure on the island. Gen. [William E.] Martin told me yesterday that R. had been for some time vigorously addressing the widow Sparks. He brought the affair to an unfortunate finish a few days ago, and got her rejection. In his rage at this result, he bolted downstairs, & not permitted to give the lady kick for kick, he either employed his boots, or threatened to do so, on the breech of the barkeeper, who has had him arrested by a magistrate’s warrant & brought to town. The magistrate issuing the warrant (Axson) being his guest of the preceding day.
Ripley nonetheless persisted with his courtship and on December 22, 1852, married Alicia Middleton in Chatham, Georgia. Three months after his wedding, Ripley officially resigned his commission as brevet Major and First Lieutenant of the 2nd U.S. Artillery Regiment, effective March 31, 1853, so as to enter into civilian life. His wife already had a five-year-old daughter from her previous marriage, Marie Alice Sparks, and another girl would be born to the newlywed couple on November 1, 1853, being named Alicia Ripley.
Arms Merchant (1853-1860)
Launching into his private career, Ripley and Charles W. Brush became partners in September 1853 of Charles G. Baylor’s brand-new Daily American Times newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, which openly advocated free trade for Southern states. But the two ownership-partners quickly withdrew from this failing enterprise by March 1854, and Ripley would henceforth turn to brokering international arms-sales, where his military experience and contacts proved to be much more useful assets — in particular the fact that his Connecticut-born uncle, 59-year-old Maj. James Wolfe Ripley, was still a highly-placed officer in the U.S. Ordnance Department.
With the Crimean War about to enter into its second year, Ripley travelled to Europe as a representative of the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The English newspaper Northern Times noted among its “Miscellaneous Passenger Lists,” how Ripley had arrived in the Mersey on the evening of January 9, 1855 aboard the U.S. mail steamer Pacific, having departed New York on December 28, 1854. The portly Ripley was to be humorously lampooned in the January-June 1855 edition of Punch magazine (Vol. XXVIII, Pages 107-108), as a “Gaunt Stranger” who gives a brisk demonstration of his American carbine in the waiting-rooms of the government offices at Whitehall.
Ripley would also come to be “connected with the small arms factory at Enfield and other enterprises of the same sort,” and secured contracts for English manufacturers in the United States. Next year, among other business dealings, he proposed the sale of 100 English-made .36-caliber Adams revolvers at $18 apiece to the U.S. Ordnance Department, which was accepted by June 17, 1856. These initial guns were manufactured in England and duly delivered to the New York Arsenal by March 7, 1857, after which a second order for 500 more revolvers was placed, this time to be manufactured by the Massachusetts Arms Company.
And as secessionist sentiment rose in the South, Ripley also sought to use his professional experience in support of his adoptive state. On March 3, 1860, he wrote to Gov. William H. Gist of South Carolina:
My attention has lately been called to the subject of the armament of the Militia and Volunteers of the Southern States, by several gentlemen holding military office ... one problem is ... the time required for properly manufacturing arms, after the required quantities are designated, no matter where the work is to be executed. Another, and a greater, is the almost entire absence of persons having experience or knowledge in that branch of industry in the South.
Ripley therefore proposed the establishment of an armory through a joint subscription of funds from South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia, to manufacture about 8,000-12,000 weapons per year. Favorable replies were received within a few weeks from all three officials, yet no funds were ever committed.
Ripley continued to press his plan, though, until he finally wrote to Governor Gist on November 7, 1860 from the Continental Hotel in Philadelphia (where he had gone to arrange weapon-purchases):
Good arms are scarce in this country outside of the National Arsenals, and for a rush we should have to go abroad. France will do as a market, but the arms are not so good as English or others. Meantime, there are about 14,000 stand [altered] at Charleston. They are serviceable weapons, though not good, and should be looked to, that they are not taken from the State. Lincoln is elected beyond a doubt, and I suppose the matter will soon be settled.
He added that he would be returning to South Carolina soon, and suggested that “no overt act” be taken until the President-elect was actually inaugurated next year.
Early on the morning of December 27, 1860, a fellow arms-salesman named Capt. Amos H. Colt was surprised to have Ripley bang on his door in the Charleston Hotel, and loudly announce the news of Major Anderson’s abrupt evacuation of Moultrie “with the words: ‘By God, Bob’s got ‘em now! He’s in Sumter, and all hell can’t get him out!’” The English war-correspondent Thomas Butler Gunn was introduced to “Major Ripley” (as he still styled himself) for the first time that same morning in the hotel lobby, and recorded on Page 171 [modern digital-number 187] of Volume 14 of his personal diaries, how Ripley had:
… gossiped with me for half-an-hour about it [the evacuation]. He was a sturdy, obese, bearded man, an ex-U.S. Artillery officer; had served in Mexico and written a history of that war, published by the Harpers. At present, a soldier of fortune, he had come to Charleston in search of office on the side of the Carolinians. He chuckled a good deal about the movement of “Bob” Anderson, whom he knew perfectly well, and talked of the Carolina volunteer soldiery with much of that short-sighted military contempt which “regulars” ordinarily profess for militia.
He had been in England during the Russian war [i.e., Crimean War], as an agent for Sharps rifles; was indeed the “Gaunt Stranger” introduced in an amusing “Punch” drama entitled “Under Consideration” by Tom Taylor, which I remembered perfectly well.
Shortly thereafter, the newly-installed Governor of South Carolina, Francis W. Pickens, asked Ripley — as a respected military advisor and armaments specialist — to survey the sabotage left behind at Moultrie, so that he arrived at that occupied fort on December 31, 1860 to find an artillerist’s nightmare. Eleven heavy guns lay dismounted on its southwestern terreplein, their carriages burnt to ashes, and the entire fort in a complete state of disarray. It was incapable of mounting any kind of effective defense, should the Federal government launch an effort to relieve Sumter.
Fort Moultrie Command (December 1860-April 1861)
Ripley immediately set about making repairs, as best he could with the limited equipment and untrained personnel available to him. A newspaper dispatch from Charleston dated January 3, 1861, stated that “Major Ripley commands the battery at Fort Moultrie,” although the state’s military forces were still in the process of being formally constituted. When the hired steamer Star of the West tried to slip up the Main Channel six days later out of the open ocean, approaching the harbor-entrance at dawn on January 9, 1861 with the intent of reinforcing and resupplying the Union garrison now isolated within Fort Sumter, Ripley allowed his eager young gunners to briefly join the artillery salvoes being fired from the Morris Island battery — although he knew that even Moultrie’s largest Columbiads were so far out of range that only a few rounds could be loosed off and fell well short, before this vessel reversed course and disappeared back out to sea.
Gunn, the English correspondent — who was working on behalf of the Illustrated London News, as well as secretly for a couple of Northern newspapers — recorded his impressions of Ripley’s command a couple of days later, when he took the eleven o’clock ferry across from Charleston to Sullivan’s Island on January 11, 1861, then walked up to the fort’s main gates and:
… sent in a penciled request for admission to Major Ripley, who came to the entrance-port in a hearty manner, and invited me in. He was in private clothes and felt hat, and conversed with me on the ramparts looking toward Fort Sumter. The interior of Moultrie is described in my letter [later smuggled out of Charleston to be published anonymously in New York], as minutely as I thought prudent. There were but eleven cannon spiked and dismantled by Anderson; I committed the error purposely, not to seem too particular, as Ripley told me the number.
I asked him whether I might make a sketch of the interior “for the Illustrated London News” — he acquiesced, if I would promise not to send it to any Northern picture-paper, which of course, I readily could do.
I inquired what he could do in the defensive way in Moultrie. “Do? Oh, a good deal, if that fellow there” — pointing to Fort Sumter — “don’t prevent us.”
I asked if he thought Moultrie could be held, if Sumter opened fire upon it. “Perhaps a couple of hours,” said Ripley, “and he may blow us to Hell in half that time!”
He talked more freely then than he did afterwards, speaking in a hearty military tone about Bob Anderson, and in some degree discussing the matter as if it were a joke. Ripley impressed me as a perfect soldier-of-fortune with some private pique against the U.S. government, disliking the Republican Party, but little disposed to pooh-pooh the unmilitary indefiniteness of the secessionists. I had that day’s Mercury [newspaper], and gave it to him. Asking about the young fellows who were in the fort, he said they were “as green as grass, but they had pluck enough, and would fight like hell!”
They were greatly excited during the firing on the Star of the West, and must needs entreat him to let them blaze away with a cannon, too, though they could do no possible mischief, and he and they fully expected that Anderson would open fire upon them from Fort Sumter in retaliation. There was a story about this in, I think, the paper I had given Ripley, stating that he had consented with the remark: “You’ll all be in Hell in a minute!”
“I didn’t say that!” he told me with a chuckle.
He wouldn’t have let “that other fellow,” meaning W[illiam] Waud [another English-born correspondent, openly working for a Northern publication], into the fort to sketch for Frank Leslie’s [Illustrated Newspaper]. He left me to talk to an elderly officer, when I strolled about at my leisure. On the verge of the ramparts, looking toward Sumter, a sentinel — a very young fellow — challenged my advance, but an intimation that I had just parted from Ripley afforded me an unobstructed passage. Half an hour satisfied my curiosity. I interchanged a remark or two with a raw lad of eighteen or twenty from New Orleans, who wore the Louisianan secession badge, the button in the center displaying a pelican feeding her young.
That very next day, after Anderson had formally rejected a demand from the South Carolina representatives Judge Andrew G. McGrath and David F. Jameson to vacate his stronghold, Ripley began deploying work-crews of black slaves on loan from their masters to commence gathering and shifting materials, so as to erect “high and solid merlons, formed of timber, sand, and earth” between all the guns on Moultrie’s southwest face that aimed at Sumter. An inspection on Sunday, January 13, 1861 by General Jameson and the engineer Col. James H. Trapier, found that all but three of Moultrie’s Columbiads had been unspiked and remounted, and that Ripley’s defensive work was in full swing. (The secessionist firebrand Edmund Ruffin, who was among these visitors that Sunday, even filled a few wheelbarrows himself with a shovel, joking that it allowed him “to commit a little treason to the northern government.”)
The correspondent Gunn ran into Ripley again one week later at 8:00 p.m. on the evening of Sunday, January 20, 1861, while dining at the Charleston Hotel (ibid., p. 77, modern digital 87), and once more four days afterwards, noting in his diary:
In going downtown, I met Ripley, with a great roll of bills in his hand; probably his pay, for there had been talk of his quitting Charleston for Pensacola (though he did not do so), and a paragraph to that effect in the Courier.
The mention in that day’s edition of the Courier had read: “We regret to hear it confidently reported that Major Ripley is about to leave this city and State, for a sister Southern and seceded State.” That same afternoon of January 24, 1861, Gunn took Ripley to the studio of George S. Cook, to sit for a portrait.
The Federal officers were all the while observing Ripley’s military labors from their refuge in Fort Sumter, and noted how he had erected additional defenses and remounted most of Moultrie’s sabotaged pieces by January 27, 1861. Three days later, a newspaper correspondent confirmed that Moultrie’s last two guns were about to be reinstalled, and went on to comment:
Fort Moultrie, under the skillful direction of Major Ripley, with his black brigade of picks and shovels, has thrown up breastworks and mounted heavy guns to such an extent that the whole appearance of the fort has changed, and has almost attained its utmost state of efficiency. Huge heaps of sand-bags surmount the ramparts, faced with Palmetto logs and covered with hides, from the embrasures of which the grim dogs of war protrude their muzzles, nine of them levelled direct at Fort Sumter. What is conceived to be the weakest point in the granite mass has been selected as the mark at which all these cannon are pointed, and they will give the work of the mason a severe test.
The interior of the fort [Moultrie] also presents a most warlike aspect. The oven for hot shot is in readiness, like your steam fire-engines, for firing up at any moment, and all the equipments for carnage piled up around the gun-carriages. The magazine has been buried in a cavern of sand-bags, and is believed to be beyond the reach of shot or shell. Every arrangement has been made, not only for the protection of the men, but for receiving the balls of Sumter with the least possible damage.
Ripley’s expectations of being rewarded by receiving high rank in South Carolinian service, though — commensurate to his status as a former professional U.S. Army officer — were to be disappointed. The State legislature had passed an act on January 28, 1861, which authorized the creation of a force of regular troops, with enlistments extending for three years: 960 men in total, who were to be organized into an infantry regiment, artillery battalion, and cavalry squadron under the overall command of Brig. Gen. Robert G. M. Dunovant. Officers were to be appointed by the Governor, with the consent of the State Senate, so that on February 6, 1861, Ripley was officially confirmed in command of the newly-created Artillery Battalion, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
He was not inclined to take orders from others, however, especially less-experienced men or political appointees, and quick to find fault. When the engineering work being done around Moultrie failed to meet with his approval, he took matters into his own hands, provoking an angry riposte from Maj. Walter Gwynn, Chief of the South Carolina Engineer corps, on February 1, 1861. After a battalion of the First South Carolina Volunteer Regiment was removed from Ripley’s command and transferred over to Morris Island, he wrote to the newly-arrived Beauregard on March 5, 1861, complaining that he had been left with “but 171 [men] total, to man 15 guns on the channel, requiring 75; 11 guns on the Sumter battery, 55; 4 guns on the oblique battery, 20, and 40 men for the mortar battery, requiring 190 at least, to say nothing of guard duty at the fort,” and so requested that another unit be sent as reinforcement. And when directed that very next day to transfer two of Moultrie’s 32-pounders into a new shore-battery which was being created along the shoreline of Maffitt’s Channel, he replied that he lacked a gin or sufficient men for this task.
Ripley also maintained a literary output throughout this period, for ten days later, the March 16, 1861 edition of the Charleston Mercury newspaper included the following notice:
The title of a manual for the use of siege and garrison guns, printed for, and used by, the late United States Army. In these days of and rumors of wars, such a book has become a necessity to all military men. As the work is not for sale North or South, our neighbors, EVANS & COGSWELL, No. 3 Broad Street, are now reprinting it, under the supervision of officers of the artillery of this State, with an amendment to the Manual of the Columbiads as made by Lieutenant Colonel R. S. RIPLEY, of the 1st Artillery, S. C. A. We would suggest that in order to secure copies of this useful book, and early call had better be made on Messrs. E. & C., No. 3 Broad Street, a limited edition being in the press.
But he also overcame many shortcomings, and trained his novice artillerymen in the intricacies of various gun-drills over that ensuing month. By the second week of April 1861, he had Moultrie’s nine pieces along its Southwest Angle fully restored and bearing on Sumter, along with the four-gun Oblique Battery and other heavy weaponry, manned by eager crews. Always a colorful character, it would later be reported that Ripley joked upon firing off his first round against the Federal stronghold at dawn of April 12, 1861, that it would ring “the breakfast bell for Major Anderson.”
As the exchanges of gunfire continued throughout that day, he sent a hastily-scrawled report to headquarters at 1:00 p.m.: “Damages so far trifling. Men in high spirits; obey orders like veterans. Lieut. Hallonquist’s Mortar battery and the Enfilading battery doing splendid service.” Next morning, he furthermore employed Moultrie’s hot-shot furnace to begin firing incendiary rounds as of 8:00 a.m., smoke eventually appearing out of Sumter. The anonymous correspondent Virginius would later report exuberantly:
Major Ripley worked at his guns himself the whole time, in his shirt sleeves. A ball passed by him and knocked off the chimney of his furnace, in which they heat balls. He called out to the man in attendance: "Is it hurt?"
"No, sir," was the reply. "Well, then, let her bile [sic: boil]."
It will later be reported that Ripley joked upon firing his first round, that it would ring “the breakfast bell for Major Anderson.” As the exchanges of gunfire continued throughout the day, he apparently sent a hastily-scrawled report to headquarters at 1:00 p.m.: “Damages so far trifling. Men in high spirits; obey orders like veterans. Lieut. Hallonquist’s Mortar battery and the Enfilading battery doing splendid service.” Next morning, he used Moultrie’s hot-shot furnace to begin firing incendiary rounds as of 8:00 a.m., and smoke eventually appeared curling out of Sumter.
Command of Fort Sumter and the Dept. of South Carolina (April-December, 1861)
Upon Anderson’s surrender, Ripley was honored by being put in command of this battered prize on April 14, 1861, bringing Capt. James H. Hallonquist’s Company B of the 1st South Carolina Artillery Battalion across with him from Sullivan’s Island as an occupation force, as well as the Palmetto Guards from Morris Island. Ripley was one of “the ranking officers of Engineers and Artillerists” who were subsequently assigned to assess its material condition, and spent the next several weeks supervising repairs so as to restore some of its defensive capabilities. He soon became disgruntled with this duty, though, and by the summer of 1861 was threatening to resign his commission altogether. Prominent citizens circulated petitions in Charleston, appealing for him to remain. Finally, on August 15, 1861 — by order of the Adjutant Inspector-General’s office in Richmond, Virginia — Ripley was promoted to Brigadier General in the Confederate Army, and six days afterward was assigned to command the Department of South Carolina and its coastal defences.
Ripley threw himself into this work, ordering Moultrie’s sea-face strengthened with banks of sand, and the masonry on all of Charleston’s harbor-forts reinforced. New batteries were erected on Cole’s Island at the mouth of the Stono River, to deter Federal warships and defend the outer-island approaches to Folly and Morris Islands. But the Confederate leadership late that same year consolidated command of all the coastlines of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida into one military department under the direction of Gen. Robert E. Lee. This new commander in turn subdivided South Carolina into five districts, so that as of early December 1861, Ripley was reduced to being in charge of only the Second Military District of South Carolina.
In the wake of the Union seizure that previous month of an advance foothold at Port Royal Sound, Ripley began ambitiously reinforcing far-flung perimeter defenses, while Lee preferred concentrating the defenders’ limited manpower and resources closer around Charleston. Ripley used large numbers of slave-laborers to expand and toughen its network of harbor fortifications and batteries, and even ingeniously employed timber caissons to position a fixed battery in the shallow waters between Castle Pinckney and Fort Johnson, which was to be named Fort Ripley in his honor. But by early next year, the intemperate General was openly questioning Lee’s strategic judgment, so that Governor Pickens wrote apologetically on January 7, 1862:
I fear the feeling of General Ripley towards General Lee may do injury to the public service. His habit is to say extreme things even before junior officers, and this is well calculated to do great injury to General Lee’s command. I do not think General Ripley means half what he says in his energetic way, but others construe it differently …
Lee was recalled to Richmond in early March 1862, to counter the threat being posed by an invading Federal army on the Peninsula in Virginia, and was replaced at Charleston by Maj.-Gen. John C. Pemberton — originally a Pennsylvanian, who had been promoted from command of South Carolina’s Fourth Military District. Ripley took a hostile view of his subordination to this former equal, and Pemberton provoked a public outcry when less than two weeks after assuming command, he ordered Ripley to “withdraw the guns from the batteries on Cole’s Island and to confine the defenses of the city Charleston by that approach, to James Island and the Stono River.” Governor Pickens and most Charlestonians were outraged by this plan to simply abandon their outlying defenses, and further alarmed when Ripley sought a transfer out of the department in disgust. On May 15, 1862, Lee wrote to Pickens that he saw no way of alleviating the dispute between both senior commanders:
… save the relieving of General Ripley in compliance with his request. I should regret to take this step, in as much as his ability and knowledge of affairs in Charleston Harbor would be very essential in time of an attack. As he seems to be dissatisfied, however, and not in harmony with those above and below him, it may be the best thing to gratify his wishes.
Nine days later, Ripley received orders to travel to Richmond for reassignment to the Army of Northern Virginia, departing South Carolina with a reputation as a competent, yet headstrong officer who engendered bad relationships with his fellow officers.
Confederate Service (1862-1865)
As commander of the Fifth Brigade (comprised of the 1st and 3rd North Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiments, as well as the 4th and 44th Georgia Volunteers), Ripley served in Maj.-Gen. D. H. Hill’s Division and as such participated in the confused Battle of Mechanicsville on June 26, 1862. His blundering attempts to lead a flanking maneuver around the Union left late that afternoon, after crossing the Chickahominy River, inflicted needless casualties and brought an end to the day on a note of Confederate failure. Not all the blame was Ripley’s, but his reputation as an infantry leader — already suspect — was further tarnished. (Ten days prior to this disappointment, a Captain of the 44th Georgia had written to his wife, describing Ripley as “a big, fat, whiskey-drinking loving man.”)
During Lee’s subsequent counter-invasion of Maryland, Ripley performed poorly again during the Battle of South Mountain on September 14, 1862, and then was severely wounded in the neck three days later during the Battle of Antietam, although he quickly returned to the fight after receiving treatment for his injury.
He resumed command of the Charleston fortifications in 1863. The English Lt.-Col. Arthur Fremantle of Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards visited Charleston that spring on a three-month tour of the Confederacy, and described Ripley during an inspection of the Morris Island defenses in mid-June 1863 as being:
... a jovial character, very fond of the good things of this life, but it is said that he never allows this propensity to interfere with his military duties, in the performance of which he displays both zeal and talent. He has the reputation of being an excellent artillery officer, and although by birth a Northerner, he is a red-hot and indefatigable Rebel ... Nearly all the credit of the Charleston fortifications is due to him ... notwithstanding his northern birth and occasional rollicking habits, he is generally popular.
Ripley formed his famous “ring of fire” in the harbor which kept the Federals out of the city until almost the end of the war. In 1864, his Instructions for the Care and Drill of Heavy Artillery manual was reissued by Evans & Cogswell at Columbia, South Carolina.
Post-War Exile (1866-1884)
The war having ended in defeat, Ripley helped marry his 18-year-old stepdaughter Alice Sparks to his former subordinate Alfred M. Rhett on August 14, 1866, then moved abroad with his wife and daughter Alicia to settle in England. Yet without any fixed source of income or occupation beyond his military expertise, contacts and knowledge of armaments, Ripley would often teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, prompting his wife and teenage daughter to leave him by 1868 so as to return home to Charleston. A brief mention of Ripley’s financial distress appeared in the pages of the April 3, 1869 edition of The Charleston Courier, followed by a terse announcement in the May 28, 1869 edition of the Charleston Daily News (Vol. VII, No. 1069):
A Confederate Bankrupt. London, May 25. General Ripley, formerly of the Confederate Army, has passed through bankruptcy. His liabilities are $37,000; assets $50,000.
It was rumored the following year that because of his repute as a defensive specialist, gained during his protracted resistance around Charleston Harbor, the ex-Confederate General was consulted by French officials for suggestions regarding the defense of Paris in the winter of 1870-1871, during the Franco-Prussian War. The September 22, 1870 edition of the Charleston Daily News (Vol. X, No. 1483) reprinted a brief telegraphic report, sent from Tours the previous day, stating that: “General R. S. Ripley, formerly of the Confederate Army, and who is now in Paris, has tendered his service to the Committee for Public Defense.” A private letter received two weeks later, written from London on September 19, 1870, added “that his office had been recently at Paris, and in conference with the National Committee of Defense, but he had returned to London.”
And five years afterward, a citizen of Brighton named J. R. Lee-Bellasyse would furthermore write to the American authorities and news-outlets such as the New York Times, to denounce how:
... in March 1872, when England had a difficulty with America about the “Alabama” claims, Gen. Ripley wrote a very long letter to our War Office, giving them all the information he possessed as regards the defenses of America, pointing out the best places to land troops, what support might be expected from the South, and sketching out a plan of our entire campaign[.]
This production of his was afterward printed in pamphlet form, without his name to it, for circulation among his friends; he favored me with one, also a letter cautioning me not to let “any Yanks get hold of it.”
In a more conventional vein, Ripley is known to have also submitted an extensive but well-written commentary — under the pen-name of “A General Officer of the Late Confederate Army” — to the editors of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine in August 1874 (Vol. 116, Pages 211-230), criticizing the recently-published History of the Civil War in America by the French prince Comte de Paris.
Restoration of the 54th Massachusetts Flag (1875)
In January 1875, a former Confederate naval officer named Hunter Davidson wrote privately from London, mentioning how:
Gen. Ripley spent much of the day & dined with me yesterday. He says that he has just been appointed to the command of the northern defense of China & leaves shortly with his staff for his destination.
While awaiting confirmation of this Chinese appointment, Ripley (who hoped to travel through the United States to assume this posting in the Far East, procuring armaments and personnel along the way) made an overture intended to smooth his reception at home, by sending a package with the following letter to William Gaston, newly-elected Democratic Governor of Massachusetts:
8 Stanhope Terrace, Gloster Road,
South Kensington, London
January 12, 1875
To His Excellency the Governor of Massachusetts:
I have the honor to forward to Your Excellency the regimental color of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, which was taken in action on the evening of 18th of July, 1863, by the garrison of Battery Wagner under General Taliaferro, being part of the forces defending Charleston, South Carolina, under my command, when that work was assaulted by the Federal troops under General Gillmore.
Since the close of the civil war in America I have been generally absent from the country, and I have seen with regret the failure of expedients attempted to restore peace and content to the Southern States. It seems to me, however, that the lapse of time and the course of events have produced a less embittered state of public feeling than that which existed just after the close of the strife. Under the existing state of things I deem it decorous, if not a positive duty, to promote the oblivion of the animosities which led to, and were engendered by, the war.
Such being the case, I prefer to look upon trophies of the character of the color in question as mementoes of the gallant conduct of men who, like Shaw, Putnam and other sons of Massachusetts, sealed their devotion to the cause which they adopted, with their lives, rather than as evidences of prowess on the one side or the other. The custodians of such a memento should be the authorities of the State served by these gallant men, and I therefore transmit the flag to your Excellency for such disposition as the authorities of Massachusetts shall determine.
Your obedient servant,
R. S. Ripley
Enclosed was a battle-flag of the 54th Volunteer Regiment, captured after that unit of African-American troops had been decimated during its failed assault against Fort Wagner in July 1863 [as depicted in the movie Glory]. Governor Gaston politely acknowledged receipt of Ripley’s submission on March 31, 1875, but his gesture set off an angry debate within the state legislature, so that while the flag itself was restored to the regimental mementoes in Boston’s Doric Hall, that “body absolutely refused to insert the name of Gen. Ripley in the resolution accepting the flag.”
That same June 1875, a representative of the Colt Arms company in London reported another conversation with Ripley in which the General confided that his China “appointment was not yet certain,” but added that once a decision was made, he hoped to travel to there via the United States, purchasing weaponry along the way (including a Gatling gun). But Ripley’s Chinese confirmation never came through, so that he was forced to declare bankruptcy by December 14, 1875, the public notice appearing one week later on Page 6573 of The London Gazette and describing him as: “R. S. Ripley, late of 95 Gloucester Road, South Kensington, in the County of Middlesex, but now of the Royal Hotel, New Bridge Street, in the City of London, a bankrupt.” When the court actually heard his case at Lincoln’s Inn Fields on January 20, 1876, it was found that Ripley now had debts totaling £9,056 and no assets.
He nonetheless remained in England, publishing yet another excellent but unattributed article in the February 1877 edition of Blackwood’s on “The Situation in America” (Vol. CXXI, January-June 1877, Pages 196-220).
Return from Exile and Death (1885-1887)
Ripley did not return to the United States until eight years later, after the election of Grover Cleveland in November 1884 — the first Democratic Presidential victor in 28 years. The former General seems to have initially visited Charleston, as The Watchman and Southron newspaper of Sumter, South Carolina, reported on the front page of its May 19, 1885 edition, how Ripley had given an entertaining talk there the previous day, about some minor incidents related to the shelling of Fort Sumter two-dozen years ago. But long estranged from his wife, he lived apart from his family, and apparently never saw his daughter again.
Instead he travelled to New York City, where he resided in the New York Hotel for the next couple of years before suddenly dying of a massive stroke on a Tuesday morning, March 29, 1887, less than two weeks after his 64th birthday. It was said that in his dying moments, he asked to be buried in Charleston. His body was embalmed and transported there, to receive a hero’s funeral at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and interment in Magnolia Cemetery on April 3, 1887.
Sherman, William Tecumseh (1820-1891)
U.S. Artillery officer who early during his military career, was contentedly stationed at Fort Moultrie for almost four years, then later became the Union army commander who would burn a destructive swathe across the secessionist State of South Carolina.
Birth & Education (1820-1840)
Born on February 8, 1820 in Lancaster, near the shores of the Hocking River in Fairfield County, Ohio, his father Charles Robert Sherman — a successful Connecticut-born lawyer and part-time militia Major — allegedly chose to have his infant child baptized as “William Tecumseh” because of a “fancy” which he had taken for that great Shawnee war-chieftain. Consequently, Charles Sherman’s third son and sixth child would be called by the nickname of “Cump” throughout his lifetime, by both family and friends.
In July 1821, William’s father petitioned to fill a vacancy as a circuit-judge for Ohio’s Supreme Court, being appointed to that position two years later. While engaged in these duties, he unexpectedly fell ill while presiding in the town of Lebanon almost eight years afterward, and died there on June 24, 1829, leaving his widow Mary Hoyt Sherman with eleven children and no means of support. Nine-year-old William was sent to live with his father’s friend and fellow-attorney, Thomas Ewing, who that following year was elected to the United States Senate on the Whig ticket. Toward the end of his single term in office as a Senator, Ewing secured an appointment for 16-year-old William in April 1836 to attend the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.
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Sherman never rose above the rank of cadet Private during his four years at that institution, and accumulated many demerits, explaining years later in his Memoirs how “neatness in dress and form, with a strict conformity to the rules, were the qualifications required for office, and I suppose I was found not to excel in any of these.” Yet he was well-liked by many of his contemporary classmates such as George H. Thomas and William Rosencrans (future Union Generals), the latter recalling Sherman as “one of the brightest and most popular fellows” and “a bright-eyed, red-headed fellow, who was always prepared for a lark of any kind.” And being intellectually gifted, Sherman also excelled in the classroom, and would have graduated fourth in his class in June 1840, except that his numerous demerits dropped him down to sixth out of 43 cadets.
Service in Florida (1840-1842)
Commissioned into the U.S. Army as a brevet Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Artillery Regiment as of July 1, 1840, Sherman enjoyed the traditional three months’ home-leave before joining a company of recruits at Fort Columbus on Governors Island in New York Harbor late that same September 1840, and sailing with them to Savannah, Georgia, so as to march overland to St. Augustine, Florida. From there, Sherman continued on to Fort Pierce on the Indian River to join his regular unit: Company A of the 3rd U.S. Artillery. He subsequently participated in patrols against elusive Seminole bands, and even escorted the war-chief Coacoochee or “Wild Cat” into that fort for a parley with Maj. Thomas Childs on May 1, 1841. After promising to gather his followers to be transplanted from Florida, Coacoochee was treacherously seized on Childs’s orders during a subsequent visit to Fort Pierce one month later, and sent into exile in chains.
For his part in these actions, Sherman won promotion to First Lieutenant on November 30, 1841, and was transferred to join Company G of the 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment as a junior officer, arriving at their outpost at Picolata near Saint Augustine just before Christmas of that same year. With the unpopular Second Seminole War at last winding down, his unit was shortly thereafter rotated out of Florida in February 1842, and reassigned to vacant and decrepit Fort Morgan at the mouth of Mobile Bay, Alabama. Company G reached that lonely outpost next month, where Sherman relieved the boredom of two months’ garrison-duty by fishing and boating.
Fort Moultrie Posting (1842-1846)
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His company was one of two which were subsequently selected to accompany the 3rd Artillery’s 54-year-old Lt.-Col. William Gates in reoccupying Fort Moultrie in late June 1842, this stronghold having just undergone extensive repairs and refurbishment. It would prove to be Sherman’s home over the next four years, and its proximity to the attractive city of Charleston provided a welcome relief from the Florida swamps or desolate Fort Morgan. Decades later, Sherman would recollect how: “Our life there [Moultrie] was of strict garrison duty, with plenty of leisure for hunting and social entertainments.” More of his impressions and remembrances of his time at the fort can be read under “Written Descriptions and Observations.”
Because of his engaging personality and close connection with the politically-prominent Ewing family, Sherman was given a warm reception by South Carolinian society, noting: “We soon formed many and most pleasant acquaintances in the city of Charleston; and it so happened that many of the families resided at Sullivan’s Island in the summer season, where we could reciprocate the hospitalities extended to us in the winter.”
Next spring, Sherman wrote his younger brother John in a letter dated May 23, 1843: “During the past winter, I have been at North Carolina twice, at Savannah once, and at Charleston some hundred times.” Having completed a year of duty at Moultrie, Sherman was granted four months’ leave in the summer of 1843 to return to Lancaster, during which visit he “became engaged to Miss Ellen Ewing, the accomplished daughter of his guardian, and the friend and companion of his school-days” (although Sherman would not actually write to obtain Thomas Ewing’s consent for this marriage until March 5, 1844). His leave having expired, Sherman chose to return to Fort Moultrie via the more challenging Mississippi River-route of Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis down to New Orleans, then across Lake Pontchartrain to Mobile, Montgomery, and finally through Georgia to Savannah. Having departed Ohio on November 16, 1843, he informed his brother in another letter how:
At last, on the 27th of December , after an absence of five months and two days, I stood once more in my old quarters at Ft. Moultrie. Since my return, the weather has been so bright and delightful, that I have almost renounced all allegiance to Ohio, although it contains all whom I love and regard as friends. I have been so busy of late that I have not even been to Charleston to see my old acquaintances, and could only steal time the other day to accept an invitation of some planters on an adjacent island to participate in a fox hunt, and the consequent dinner and frolic.
Six weeks later, Sherman received orders from the War Department in Washington to assist Col. Sylvester Churchill, Inspector-General of the U.S. Army, in conducting a board of inquiry at Marietta, Georgia, which was being held to decide government compensation for mounts lost by Georgia and Alabama militiamen during the recent fighting against the Seminoles. After first concluding his role in an already on-going court-martial at Moultrie, Sherman joined Churchill at Marietta by February 17, 1844. After six weeks spent there and another two months at Bellefonte, Alabama, Sherman regained Moultrie and wrote to his legally-trained brother on June 12, 1844:
Since my return, I have not been running about in the city [Charleston] or [Sullivan’s] island as heretofore, but have endeavored to interest myself in Blackstone, which, with the assistance of Bouvier’s Dictionary, I find no difficulty in understanding. I have read all four volumes, Starkie on Evidence, and other books, semi-legal and semi-historical, and would be obliged to you if you would give me a list of such books as you were required to read, not including your local or State law. I intend to read the second and third volumes of Blackstone again, also Kent’s Commentaries, which seem, as far as I am capable of judging, to be the basis of the common-law practice. This course of study I have adopted, from feeling the want of it in the duties to which I was lately assigned.
Shortly after resuming his Moultrie duties, a dispute arose between certain officers of Company B of the 3rd Artillery, which that autumn of 1844 was garrisoning the U.S. Arsenal at Augusta, Georgia. Sherman was dispatched to resolve their issues, restoring good relations by rotating several individuals out to new postings.
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Resuming his duties at Moultrie, Sherman was hunting deer early in 1845 with his fellow Lt. John F. Reynolds of the 3rd Artillery, on their civilian friend James Poyas’s plantation — about fifty miles up the Cooper River — when Sherman’s horse fell and he painfully dislocated his right shoulder. As a result, he was once again granted leave to visit Lancaster during his recovery, departing Moultrie on January 25, 1845 and returning into Charleston aboard the ship Sullivan by March 9th of that same year. Texas being about to be annexed into the United States, a U.S. military build-up commenced in Louisiana that same summer, to counter any military opposition from Mexico. Companies and officers began departing Moultrie for the Gulf Coast as part of these preparations, but Sherman was not initially selected. By early 1846, his company commander was Capt. Robert Anderson (who fifteen years later would abandon Moultrie in order to defend Fort Sumter against Confederate seizure).
Mexican War & Resignation (1846-1860 )
When the Mexican War finally erupted in May 1846, Sherman had the misfortune to be on detached “recruiting service” at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, so missed the departure of his own company from Moultrie. After a month of pleading for an active assignment, he was transferred to Company F of the 3rd Artillery Regiment on June 29, 1846, hastening directly to New York City so as to sail from Governor’s Island with this unit by July 14th aboard the converted sloop USS Lexington, bound around Cape Horn for California. The ensuing 198-day voyage included layovers at Rio de Janeiro and Valparaiso, Chile, before this expedition eventually disembarked at Yerba Buena (whose name was officially changed into San Francisco two days later).
No fighting occurred in California, though, so that Sherman had little chance of distinguishing himself. He served as acting Assistant Adjutant-General under Brig. Gen. Stephen W. Kearny, and accompanied his successor as military governor of California — Col. Richard B. Mason — in the inspection that confirmed the discovery of gold in 1848, thereby helping to accelerate the Gold Rush. Yet Sherman returned to Washington, D. C., two years later, still only a First Lieutenant, to marry 25-year-old Eleanor “Ellen” Boyle Ewing in her father’s house on May 1, 1850, in a ceremony attended by Pres. Zachary Taylor and other luminaries, as the bride’s father was just then serving in the Cabinet as the first U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Through his influence, Sherman was appointed a “commissary of subsistence” with the temporary rank of Captain, and assigned to the staff of the Military Department of the West at St. Louis, Missouri. In March 1851, he also received from the U.S. President, “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,” a brevet appointment as Captain — back-dated to May 30, 1848.
Yet disappointed by the diminished prospects of peacetime service, Sherman resigned his commission in the Army on September 6, 1853, to return to California as San Francisco branch-manager for the St. Louis bank of Lucas, Turner, and Company. Merely in order to reach his destination, Sherman survived two shipwrecks and floated through the Golden Gate on the overturned hull of a foundering lumber schooner. The city was in the grip of feverish speculation and turmoil, and he would later comment about this stressful period: “I can handle a hundred thousand men in battle, and take the City of the Sun, but am afraid to manage a lot in the swamp of San Francisco.” He eventually closed his branch-office in May 1857 and relocated to New York City on behalf of his employers, only to have their main bank fail that same year during the financial Panic of 1857.
After briefly attempting to set up a law practice in 1858 in Leavenworth, Kansas, Sherman accepted the position next year of first Superintendent of the proposed Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, which was to be established at Alexandria (the precursor of modern Louisiana State University). Classes commenced at that institution by early January 1860, and the first examinations were held at the end of July. Sherman thereupon travelled to Washington and New York City on state business, and visited with his family in Lancaster, before regaining Alexandria that same October 1860. However, the election of Abraham Lincoln early next month began the secession of various Southern states, and Sherman especially resented the circumstances surrounding the seizure of the U.S. Arsenal at Baton Rouge by a large force of Louisiana militiamen under his old Moultrie colleague, Braxton Bragg, on January 10, 1861. Eight days later, Sherman resigned his position and had quit Louisianan service altogether by the end of February.
Civil War Career & Death (1861- )
On 27 March, 1861, Sherman proceeded to St. Louis, Missouri, and early next month declined an offer from the Lincoln administration to take a position in the War Department, as a prelude to becoming Assistant Secretary of War. Even after hostilities had actually erupted with the bombardment of Fort Sumter that same April 12, 1861, he still hesitated to fully commit to military service, as most notions about quelling the secession struck him as unrealistic and ill-founded. Nonetheless, he finally offered himself for service in the regular Army in May 1861, and his younger brother (now Senator John Sherman of Ohio) and other political connections quickly maneuvered so as to get him reinstated and commissioned as Colonel of the 13th U.S. Infantry regiment, effective as of May 14, 1861.
But since the 13th was a new regiment yet to be raised, Sherman was first assigned to inspection-duty by Lt.-Gen. Winfield Scott between June 20-30, 1861, at the conclusion of which he assumed command of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Division in the Army of Northeastern Virginia, comprised of three-month volunteers.
Waud, William (1831-1878)
Accomplished English-born artist and war-correspondent, who visited and sketched several views of Fort Moultrie while reporting for Leslie’s Illustrated News, just a few months prior to the Civil War.
Birth & Early Life (1831-1854)
He had been born in London on April 13, 1831, the second son of a 35-year-old carver and gilder named Alfred Waud and his 24-year-old wife Mary (nee Fitzjohn), who was originally from Swansea in Wales. Three more sisters would follow: Mary Priscilla, Julia, and Josephine. Their mother taught all five children, being herself listed in 1840 as the owner of a school for young ladies “at Cliff with Lund.” According to the census of 1841, the Waud family lived at 51 Cirencester Place in the district of Marylebone, now known as Great Titchfield Street near Regents Park. The youngest daughters Julia and Josephine would remain life-long spinsters, but Mary Priscilla eventually married Augustus Cory Scoles, a solicitor and son of a famous London architect.
Little is known about young William’s early life, beyond the fact that he — like his older brother Alfred Rudolph before him — studied at the Government School of Design at Somerset House in London (today the Royal College of Art). This background would be alluded to years later by their mutual friend and fellow-countryman Thomas Butler Gunn, when (after spending a rainy evening chatting in the smoker of the Charleston Hotel in late January 1861) Gunn recorded on Page 84 in Volume 15 of his personal diaries, how they had first become acquainted “thirteen years ago in Hanover Street, Hanover Square, London, he a hobble-de-hoy fresh from the Somerset House drawing school, I an architectural draughtsman of 22” — hobble-de-hoy being a 19th-Century English slang expression meaning “youngster” or “whippersnapper.”
While his older brother Alfred had emigrated to America in hopes of finding work as a set-designer for theaters as early as 1850, the teenage Will was apparently hired as a draughtsman that same summer to assist during the major construction effort being mounted by the engineering firm of Fox, Henderson and Company to transform the vision of Joseph Paxton — a renowned English landscape architect — into a glass-and-wrought-iron conservatory to temporarily house the Great Exhibition, which was scheduled to be staged in London’s Hyde Park as of May 1851. This project, dubbed the “Crystal Palace” because of its stunning and innovative architecture, turned out to be a remarkable success for which both Paxton and its builder Charles Fox would be knighted, after which the temporary structure itself was disassembled in 1852 to be resurrected as a substantially different building atop Sydenham Hill outside of London by 1854.
Years later, Thomas Butler Gunn would reminisce in yet another of his diary entries how upon being reunited in America, he and the Waud brothers initially used to spend all of their time together at “Life Brown, the lithographer’s place in Fulton Street” in Brooklyn (Gunn Diaries, Volume 13, Page 7), until the Wauds relocated to Boston early in 1856. Although the exact details of their transfer to Massachusetts remain sketchy, both brothers were now married, albeit with uncomfortable domestic arrangements. According to Will Waud’s biographical notation compiled by the Boston Athenaeum, one year after he had followed his brother Alf across the Atlantic, it was recorded how he “immigrated to the United States in 1855 and relocated to Boston in 1856, where he was listed in the Boston Directory as a “designer” from 1857-1859.” Their father, Alfred Waud, Sr., also died in London on February 5, 1858.
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That following year, 28-year-old Will — thanks to his past role, however insignificant, in the famed Crystal Palace effort — became affiliated with the wealthy Bostonian philanthropist William E. Baker “of the Grover and Baker Sewing Machine Company,” who was actively attempting to organize a similar project for the newly-conceived Boston Public Garden. A number of civic groups had coalesced with the aim of securing this area so as to provide more green parkland space for the rapidly-expanding city, although most did not necessarily agree with Baker’s grandiose vision. As part of that magnate’s public-relations campaign to promote his own scheme, though, Waud as “architect” completed a design in April 1859 for a proposed new cruciform glass “conservatory of art, science, and historical relics” modeled on the Crystal Palace, which was to be the centerpiece of this new Bostonian park. However, Baker’s proposal was rejected and almost all groups had disassociated themselves from him by late May 1859.
Shortly thereafter, Gunn received a letter in New York City from Alf Waud on June 2, 1859, in which the older brother informed him that:
Will has been engaged “to some extent” about a Boston Crystal Palace scheme, “but it comes much easier to him to play the gentleman.” (Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume 11, Page 3.)
Despite his wealthy patron’s continuing efforts, Baker’s grandiose plan could not be revived, so that Will Waud was left under-employed as an architect or architectural draughtsman in Boston. Consequently, he decided to turn elsewhere and another letter from Alf Waud early that following year, which reached Gunn in New York City by February 3, 1860, mentioned that Will “meditates a visit to New York in a fortnight” (Gunn Diaries, Volume 12, Page 31).
Hired by Frank Leslie (1860)
Will Waud actually arrived in New York City for a week’s visit on February 29, 1860, telling his friend Gunn that he hoped to take up permanent residence in that metropolis “if he can find employment after his liking, viz., making big watercolor perspectives for architects” (Gunn Diaries, Volume 12, Page 69). However, Waud instead quickly found another line of work, by entering into “an engagement to draw for Frank Leslie” as a newspaper correspondent on March 7, 1860 (Ibid., Page 77). Will Waud was soon boarding in lodgings on Second Avenue and being welcomed as a member of Leslie’s team of artists “with Wallin, Stephens, Berghaus, and others” (Ibid., Page 79), his first assignment being to travel to Charleston to sketch the Democratic Convention as a “Special Artist” for Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly. Meanwhile, his older brother Alfred was also recorded in Gunn’s diary on March 17, 1860, as intending to follow Will to New York and “accept a situation on the Illustrated News, Frank Leslie’s rival, at from $30 to $35 per week” (Ibid., Page 95). Alf Waud duly arrived in New York City along with an engraver named Hayes on the morning of March 22, 1860.
Will Waud had in the meantime proceeded to Charleston, where the first sketch which he filed for Leslie proved to be an inspired choice: applying his architectural skills, he drew the building where the troubled Democratic convention was about to be held, a view which was converted into a woodcut engraving and published on the front page of the April 14, 1860 edition of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (Volume 9, Number 228, Page 303) — and matched one week later by a rival drawing featured in the April 21, 1860 edition of Harper’s Weekly.
The convention itself opened two days afterward and dissolved one week later amid a rancorous split, eventually ending in early May 1860 without any Democratic candidate even being nominated, despite the 57 ballots which had been taken. In New York City, Gunn noted in his journal for May 2, 1860: “Will Waud at Charleston still, supposed to be sketching and taking it easy” (Gunn Diaries, Volume 12, Page 176). Eight days later, he mentioned how Alf Waud in turn “has gone to Washington, to sketch the doings of the newly-arrived Japanese embassy” for the New York Illustrated News, while Will Waud was recorded as having returned from Charleston to New York when he dropped by to see Gunn at his boarding-house for an hour on the evening of May 11, 1860 (Ibid., Pages 188-189).
In late July 1860, Will Waud was dispatched north into Canada by Leslie, to meet the 18-year-old Albert, Prince of Wales, and follow his royal tour part-way through that British colony. Waud provided illustrated reports of the initial stages of the teenage Prince’s progression, but parted company with his entourage after Montreal, before Albert eventually crossed the border into Michigan and Illinois (Gunn Diaries, Volume 13, Page 102). Gunn did not meet Waud again until September 12, 1860, when he ran into him at Jones’s Wood “on duty for Frank Leslie” at a barbecue and rally being held in support of the Northern Democratic Presidential candidate, Stephen A. Douglas (Ibid., Page 221). They also spent the Sunday afternoon of October 7, 1860, conversing after dinner (Gunn Diaries, Volume 14, Pages 31-33), before the Prince of Wales reached New York four days later aboard the U.S. revenue cutter Harriet Lane.
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Gunn sailed as one of a select group of reporters which had been invited aboard that warship to accompany the Prince from Perth Amboy and upon disembarking at Castle Garden, found “the two Wauds sketching outside one of the lines of soldiers, without the building, Alf in his normal state of temper” (Gunn Diaries, Volume 14, Page 42). Gunn next mentioned meeting the Wauds at “Crook and Duff’s” famous restaurant in the New York Times’ building on November 15, 1860, when “Will talked friendly and considerately to me, seeing I was out of sorts” (Ibid., Page 101).
Covering South Carolina’s Secession (November-December 1860)
Shortly thereafter, Leslie dispatched Will Waud back to Charleston for a second time as his “special artist,” to report on the looming Secession Crisis in the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s electoral victory of November 6, 1860. Waud’s English birth was felt to be a plus under these tense circumstances, with separatist fervor now erupting throughout the South, as he could claim neutral status, even while working for a Northern weekly. (Gunn himself — like several other English-born reporters employed by American journals — went to the British Consul in New York City on December 15, 1860, to secure a passport that would allow him to move about more freely as a British subject in the event of a complete rupture by the Southern states, as he noted on Pages 150-151 of Volume 14 of his Diaries.)
Will Waud’s first sketch upon his return to Charleston, was again published on the front page of the November 24, 1860 edition of Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (Volume 11, Number 261), depicting “orators addressing the people outside of the City Hall in Charleston, S.C.”, while a two-page spread inside on Pages 8-9 depicted the “Great mass meeting” held in Institute Hall “to endorse the call, of the legislature of South Carolina for a state convention, to discuss the question of secession from the Union.” One week later, three of Waud’s sketches of the Charleston harbor-forts were once more featured on the cover of Leslie’s December 1, 1860 issue (Volume 11, Number 262), while another of his drawings — of a “Secession meeting in front of the Mills House” on Meeting Street — was published inside as a woodcut engraving on its Page 24, as well as yet another of the city’s beleaguered U.S. Arsenal on its facing page. The December 8, 1860 edition of Leslie’s featured Waud’s panoramic view of Charleston as seen from the harbor, its anchorage crowded with merchant shipping, after which he apparently returned to New York City before the Christmas season.
Sumter Crisis (January-February 1861)
According to the diary of his friend Gunn (Volume 15, Page 28 or modern digital 35), Waud returned to Charleston for a third time from New York by train to continue reporting about developments in South Carolina on Saturday, January 5, 1861, as they ran into each other that same evening in their hotel’s hallway. That following Monday, Waud took the cross-harbor ferry out to visit Sullivan’s Island, sketching both Castle Pinckney and Fort Sumter in passing. Wednesday at dawn, January 9, 1861, the approaching relief-steamer Star of the West was fired upon by South Carolinian batteries installed out on Morris Island. Waud subsequently tried to sketch some of the excited crowds in Charleston’s city streets, until ordered to stop by local vigilantes, so instead went out into the harbor that same night as a guest aboard the patrol-schooner Aiken. On the evening of January 17, 1861, he was warned by a friend not to “stray abroad at night into strange barrooms,” as he was suspected of spying on behalf of Northern interests (ibid., p. 74 or modern digital 84).
Next day, Waud visited a couple of photographers’ studios in King Street with Gunn — presumably George S. Cook’s, as well as Osborn & Durbec’s — buying some pictures and possibly posing for a portrait himself. On Saturday, January 19, 1861, the two correspondents together watched a company of the Moultrie Guards departing from a city wharf for James Island, but were prevented from accompanying them on the ferry, so that the two correspondents instead remained on the Battery where “Waud made a bit of a sketch of the schooner Aiken, which lay in the stream” (Gunn Diaries, Volume 15, Page 75 or modern digital 85). After another week of investigating and recording scenes around Charleston, Waud went on the 11:00 a.m. ferry to Sullivan’s Island again with Gunn on Sunday, January 27, 1861, gaining access into Fort Moultrie and also sketching the grounded passenger-steamer Columbia. They spent that night as guests of Capt. Dan Miller’s “Richland Rifles” company from Columbia, who were encamped near the Pinckney House hotel. After returning into Charleston for more art supplies next day, Waud returned to Sullivan’s Island and happened to witness the impromptu review of its South Carolinian troops by Governor Pickens’ wife and daughter, at 4:00 p.m. on January 28, 1861.
Four days later, Waud accompanied Gunn to view the Floating Battery, which was being constructed in the Palmetto Yard at the end of Hazel Street in Charleston, but did not openly sketch it for fear of arousing suspicion among the crowd of onlookers, rather drew it from memory once he was back in his hotel room that afternoon. The two correspondents spent a good deal of time in each other’s company until Waud travelled to Augusta, Georgia, on Saturday, February 9, 1861, and did not return to Charleston before Gunn had departed for New York. Around that time, Gunn would note in his diary:
Will Waud was decidedly popular among his acquaintances in Charleston; he is so generally. A good-looking little chap, of good address, capable of singing a good song, most people think him rather a superior fellow, especially the majority who never go deep into character. He has tact, shrewdness, cleverness, ability with his pencil; might, I believe, achieve position, if he possessed industry. (Gunn Diaries, Vol. 15, p. 138.)
Gunn furthermore inserted a photographic portrait of Will Waud on the next page of his diary [ibid., Page 139, modern 149 of Volume 15], and additionally commented in contrasting the two Waud brothers:
In manner and general amenity — merits which always attract people — Will is infinitely more agreeable than Alf; he has none of the intolerant disregard of others’ feelings characterizing his elder brother. The one would have been incapable of deserting a woman; the other of accepting the responsibilities of an adulterous passion, as of that want of tact and common sense which induces Alf to attempt to bully the world in regard to the social ostracism with which it inevitably punishes his offence. Alike in many things, yet differing in more, the brothers exhibit equally their father’s self-will, and probably other family qualities with which I am less familiar.
Confederate Artilleryman (March-June 1861)
Back in New York City, Gunn gleefully noted in his journal on March 23, 1861 (Volume 16, Page 23) how the Times correspondent in Charleston assumed that Waud had joined a South Carolina militia company: “I guess in consequence of his sporting that military cap, with the gilded palmetto on it, in which he traveled throughout the South!” However, it was reliably confirmed less than three weeks later (Ibid., Page 68) that Will Waud had in fact volunteered for Confederate service, and was serving as a soldier on Morris Island. For this reason, and because Waud was holding back sketches for lack of payment, Frank Leslie decided to send another artist off to Charleston in his place — only to be prevented next day, April 12, 1861, by the news that Fort Sumter was under bombardment and the Civil War had begun.
Despite rumors of his defection to the Confederate cause, Waud abruptly rematerialized in Leslie’s offices in New York City on June 12, 1861 (Ibid., Page 213), explaining that he had felt constrained to join the Marion Artillery because of the escalating war-fever which had been gripping Charleston, resulting in repeated threats against his person as a suspected Northern spy. Waud had consequently witnessed and even participated in the bombardment of Fort Sumter from Morris Island as a member of the Marion Artillery, and visited that stronghold after its capture to make sketches.
Sketches held today by the Library of Congress, and erroneously attributed to Will’s older brother Alfred, include:
view of Fort Sumter, 1861 — LC-DIG-ppmsca-20244
various views of The Citadel at Charleston, flying the “Palmetto flag” of South Carolina — LC-DIG-ppmsca-20440 and LC-DIG-ppmsca-20441
imagined scene of Anderson reaching Sumter, December 26, 1860 — LC-DIG-ppmsca-21101
flag of the Richland Volunteer Rifle Company, South Carolina — LC-DIG-ppmsca-21367
details of the Floating Battery and its attached Floating Hospital, March 1861 — LC-DIG-ppmsca-21582
waterfront at Charleston, South Carolina, with sketches of three ships — LC-DIG-ppmsca-21600
State House at Columbia, South Carolina — LC-DIG-ppmsca-21601
panoramic view of Charleston Harbor, as well as of “James Island” and “Fort Pinckney,” with a notation on its reverse to “Return to: Mr. Alfred Waud, South Orange, N. J.” — LC-DIG-ppmsca-21633 and LC-DIG-ppmsca-21634
rear view of a plantation-house near Charleston, with an annotation about “thick honeysuckle” — LC-DIG-ppmsca-21660
black slaves mounting cannon on Morris Island, for bombardment of Fort Sumter, ca. March 1861 — LC-DIG-ppmsca-21740
view of Charleston, S.C., from on board the Harriet Lane — LC-DIG-ppmsca-22528
The November 1884-April 1885 edition of The Century: Illustrated Monthly Magazine (Volume 29; New Series, Volume 7) reproduces on Page 923 a drawing by Waud of: “The man who would not haul down the Union flag at the Pensacola Navy-Yard (from a sketch from life by William Waud).”
Gunn noted in Volume 20, Page 14 of his diaries, how he encountered Will Waud in Frank Leslie’s New York offices on October 25, 1861, and again on November 5th (ibid., Page 40). Two weeks later, Waud and Gunn shared drinks with other reporters at Crook and Duff’s restaurant on November 19, 1861, during which Will told him “with some envy” about how his brother Alf “was having a very great time in Washington, invited to suppers with officers, getting special information on movements, &c.” (Vol.20, Page 60). Gunn ran into Will Waud again on December 6, 1861 (ibid., Page 89), and early in the New Year learned that his friend no longer figured among Leslie’s staff of salaried artists, “but draws as an outsider now” (ibid., Page 148). Gunn received a fuller explanation for this change of status on January 10, 1862, when he was told:
… that William Waud had been discharged by Leslie in consequence of his idleness. “He never did more than two days’ work a week,” said John Angell. “He had two or three warnings, and then Leslie had to sack him. He gives him outside work, now, out of good nature; it might be done in the office and the expense spared.” (Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Vol.20, Page 151)
Conversely, Gunn two weeks later recorded on January 23, 1862 how:
Alf Waud has dropped the “[New York] Illustrated News,” possibly in consequence of irregular payments, and now draws, at an increased salary, for Harper’s. He made the acquaintance of one of the young Harpers in Washington, nursed him while sick, or was otherwise of service, and got offers made to him. (Ibid., Pages 169-170)
But Will Waud nonetheless remained on friendly terms in New York with Frank Leslie, and as the new military campaigning-season began to arrive with the advent of spring, was rehired in early March 1862 to accompany Adm. David G. Farragut’s expedition against New Orleans as a “special artist” once more. While in transit toward the Gulf of Mexico, Will Waud sketched the U.S. naval installation and Fort Taylor at Key West, Florida, both views being engraved and published on Pages 372 and 381 of the April 19, 1862 edition of Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.
New Orleans & Peninsula Campaigns (March-June 1862)
The Boston Journal correspondent Albert G. Hills recorded in his diary how he had met Waud in the foretop of the U.S.S. Mississippi during Admiral Farragut’s bombardment of Fort Jackson on April 18, 1862, and again two days later, while the expedition was proceeding upriver in boats toward New Orleans. [Albert G. Hills, A Civil War Correspondent in New Orleans (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2013 edition by Gary L. Dyson), Pages 87-88.]
While encamped in the field with the 62nd Pennsylvania on a drizzly Monday, May 26, 1862, as McClellan’s army was advancing up the Peninsula from Williamsburg toward Hanover Court House, Gunn was quite surprised to note in his journal (Volume 22, Pages 14-15):
Shortly afterwards, visitors came and among them, neither more nor less than Mr. Will Waud, looking as trim as if he had stepped out of a band-box, contrasting curiously with our weather-stained appearance. He was there as artist for F. Leslie, he said, and had just arrived by railroad from the White House [Virginia]. He had a letter for poor Hall, which curtly informed him that on the receipt of it, he must surrender up his “credentials” to the bearer and return to New York. Poor Hall! He had done his work very well and faithfully, at the cost of innumerable privations and discomforts, trudging on foot for the greater part of his time, to be coolly thrown over by Leslie. I was indignant at it, he hurt. Waud, of course, spoke in friendly sort. He said that his brother Alf was sick of a fever, at a house some distance back — I think not far from Williamsburg, where I last saw him. Presently, Will departed to good quarters, for he had as usual, fallen on his feet.
Four days later, Gunn ran into Waud again, noting that his friend “had, of course, sent nothing to Frank Leslie as yet,” after which Gunn himself was compelled to abandon the Peninsula campaign and return to New York, because of illness.