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General News

11 Jan 2010, by

Upcoming Event

I’ve been invited to participate in a cavalry conference being sponsored jointly by Longwood University and the Appomattox Court House National Historic Park at Longwood University on February 27. For those of you who might be interested in attending, here’s the flyer for the program:

ELEVENTH ANNUAL CIVIL WAR SEMINAR

THE CAVALRY: WEAPONS, LEADERS, and BATTLES

Cavalry Generals J.E.B. Stuart (CSA) and Philip Sheridan (USA)

WYGAL AUDITORIUM
LONGWOOD UNIVERSITY
FARMVILLE, VIRGINIA

February 27, 2010

Schedule

9:00 a.m. Doors open

9:25 a.m. Introduction by Dr. David Coles, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of History, Political Science, and Philosophy, Longwood University

9:30 a.m. Robert Dunkerly
“Horsepower and Firepower: Weapons of the Cavalry.”

10:00 a.m. Eric Wittenberg
“Little Phil: A Reassessment of the Civil War Leadership of
Gen. Philip H. Sheridan.”

11:15 a.m. Jeffery Wert
“‘He Stood out from the Great War Canvas’: Jeb Stuart.”

12:30 Lunch

1:45 p.m. Clark “Bud” Hall
“The Battle of Brandy Station: Attack and Defense of the Daremark Line.”

2:45 p.m. Scott C. Patchan
“Overview of cavalry operations in the 1864 Valley Campaign.”

Participants

ROBERT DUNKERLY
Bert Dunkerly is currently a park ranger at Appomattox Court House NHP, where is the park’s historic weapons safety officer. He has worked at several other National Parks, including Gettysburg, Stones River, Jamestown, Kings Mountain, and Moores Creek. He has authored several articles and books on the Revolution, Civil War, and historic preservation.

CLARK B. HALL
Clark B. Hall serves as Senior Managing Director for The Fairfax Group, a premier international security and investigative firm. Mr. Hall previously served as Global Business Security Director for General Electric and also as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Prior to service with GE, Mr. Hall enjoyed a distinguished career with the U.S. Congress as a criminal investigations manager, during which time he served as Chief Investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives Iran/Contra Committee. Prior to Congressional service, Mr. Hall spent seventeen years with the FBI, wherein he managed nationwide organized crime investigations, serving as Unit Chief, Organized Crime Section, FBI Headquarters. He has written and lectured widely on cavalry operations in the Civil War and is a co-founder and past board member of the Chantilly Battlefield Association; Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites and the Brandy Station Foundation. Mr. Hall has been presented numerous battlefield preservation commendations, including the “Anne B. Snyder Preservation Award.” He is a decorated Marine combat veteran, who served in Viet Nam as a tactical commander. Mr. Hall received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Kansas State University. He has performed graduate studies in history and law at Kansas State and the University of Virginia and now resides in Middleburg, Virginia. He is currently working on Sabers Across the Rappahannock: The Battle of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863.

SCOTT C. PATCHAN
Scott Patchan was born and raised in Ohio, and attended college at James Madison University. He has written dozens of articles for Civil War Magazine and other periodicals, is a contributing writer and historical consultant for the Time Life Series Voices of the Civil War and for the Kernstown Battlefield Association. He is a frequent lecturer on many aspects of Civil War history and is often requested as a battlefield tour guide. He is the author of Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign. His first book The Forgotten Fury: The Battle of Piedmont, Virginia received critical acclaim when it was published in 1996 and is now out of print. He has a forthcoming book on the Battle of Third Winchester.

JEFFRY D. WERT
Jeff Wert graduated cum laude with a B. A. History from Lock Haven University in 1968. In 1976, he completed his M. A. in History at Penn State. Wert taught at Penns Valley Area High School from 1969 to 2002 and was Pennsylvania’s “Teacher of the Year” in 1999. He is now a full time author and an historian. He has written articles for Civil War Times Illustrated, American History Illustrated, Blue & Gray Magazine, America’s Civil War, Military History, Virginia Cavalcade, Pennsylvania History, and the Civil War News. Wert has contributed and edited Historical Times Illustrated’s “Encyclopedia of the Civil War.” He has wrote seven books including: From Winchester to Cedar Creek: The Shenandoah Campaign 1864; Mosby’s Rangers; General James Longstreet: The Confederacy’s Most Controversial Soldier; Custer: The Controversial Life of George Armstrong Custer; A Brotherhood of Valor, Gettysburg—Day Three, The Sword of Lincoln; and Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: A Biography of J. E. B. Stuart. His books have won numerous awards. Wert has appeared on the History Channel’s “Civil War Journal”; C-Span 2’s “Book Talk”; and PBS’s “Valley of Fire.” Wert is an Honorary Board of Directors for the Civil War Preservation Trust; serves on the Advisory Council for the Lincoln Award at Gettysburg College; and is on the Historical Advisory Board for the Friends of Gettysburg.

Eric J. Wittenberg
An attorney in Columbus, Ohio, Eric Wittenberg has long been a student of Civil War cavalry operations. Wittenberg has published fifteen books on Civil War history, most of them centering on Virginia. Additionally, his articles have appeared in Gettysburg Magazine, North & South, Blue & Gray, Hallowed Ground, America’s Civil War, and Civil War Times Illustrated. He is very active in battlefield preservation, and serves as the vice president of the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation and also serves on the Governor of Ohio Commission on Ohio’s Civil War Sesquicentennial. He is also active with the Civil War Preservation Trust and the Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation. He is a graduate of Dickinson College and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

This annual seminar is sponsored by Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Eastern National Bookstore, The Department of History, Political Science, & Philosophy, and the Center for Southside Virginia History at Longwood University.

This seminar is FREE and open to the public.

Parking available on Longwood University campus except in 24 hour reserved spaces, handicapped, or tow-away zones.

Lunch is available at the Longwood University Dining Hall

Signs will be posted on the Longwood University Campus. For directions to the campus go to www.longwood.edu. For more information contact Dr. David Coles at 434.395.2220 or Patrick Schroeder at 434.352.8987, Ext. 32.

Some of my favorite folks–Scott Patchan, Bud Hall, and Jeff Wert–are on the program with me, and Patrick Schroeder, the staff historian at Appomattox, is the coordinator. And best of all: it’s free!

If you’re in the area, please stop by.

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Hat tip to Russell Bonds for bringing this beauty to my attention.

From the January 7 issue of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, we have our first nominees for Civil War morons of the year for 2010:

Stanardsville Civil War dispute ends in courtroom stalemate
By STAFF REPORTS
Published: January 7, 2010

STANARDSVILLE — In a Civil War re-enactment that went too far, two Union and Confederate cavalry commanders who tussled on the field of battle each were found not guilty of assault.

The two pressed charges against each other after the Sept. 19, 2009, re-enactment of the Battle of Stanardsville.

The Confederate commander, Doug Nalls, claimed his Union counterpart, Joseph Ferguson, knocked off his hat and Nalls allegedly responded by firing his revolver. While the weapon was not loaded with a bullet, the Union commander suffered facial injuries from the revolver’s powder blast, according to a prosecutor.

This chapter of the Civil War ended in a draw: A judge concluded yesterday that he could not find either man guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The Greene County commonwealth’s attorney said the re-enactment gone bad was the result of “bad blood” between the men that boiled over on the battlefield, located about 20 miles north of Charlottesville.

Confederate re-enactors testified during the several-hour trial that the two had exchanged words before the violent encounter. According to Confederate witnesses, the Union commander used archaic slurs such as “blaggard” and “knave” to describe his Confederate counterpart.

The prosecutor, Ronald L. Morris, said today that more contemporary insults were also exchanged. He said courtroom accounts of the physical exchange were in dispute except for two points: “The hat came off and the gun was fired.”

Nalls’ father testified he had to wade into battle to separate the men.
Ferguson left court unhappy with the outcome. “The feud on the battlefield goes on,” he said.

Injuries, accidental or otherwise, are not uncommon during Civil War re-enactments. In 2008, a Confederate re-enactor brought a loaded weapon into a battle being filmed for a documentary and shot and wounded a Union re-enactor. — The Associated Press

I’d call this galactically stupid, but that would be an insult to stupid people. Amazing. Truly amazing.

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28 Dec 2009, by

The Decision

Allow me to begin by thanking everyone who weighed in on the question that I posed a week ago. I got lots of feedback, which is what I was hoping for. One person, Jim Durney, was a resounding no vote, but everyone else was universally supportive, both of my desire to tackle a project on the Revolutionary War, but also to take on the 1780 Battle of Camden.

So, after some reflection, I have decided to tackle the Battle of Camden. My friend Scott Patchan, who has done some terrific work on the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, and I have been looking for a project to do together for some time. We had talked about perhaps doing a biography of William Woods Averell together, but we’re probably the only two people interested in such a book. Scott leads a lot of tours of Revolutionary War battlefields, and is very knowledgeable about the War of Independence.

So I put two and two together and decided to ask Scott if he would be interested in tackling Camden with me, and he readily agreed. Consequently, Scott and I will be teaming up to do the first detailed tactical study of the Battle of Camden, which had far-reaching consequences for the Patriot cause.

Others of you gave me some really good suggestions, including Kings Mountain and a battle study of the Battle of Brandywine. Brandywine has long interested me, as I grew up about an our from the battlefield, and it was the largest set-piece battle of the war. I intend to tackle Brandywine too.

So, here’s the plan. I have a book on Sheridan’s May 1864 Richmond Raid and the Battle of Yellow Tavern under contract, and will fulfill that contract. Then, Scott and I intend to tackle Camden. Then I will do another Civil War book (the third volume in my trilogy with J.D. Petruzzi), and then I expect to take on the Battle of Brandywine. So, fear not, Civil War readers. I will never give up on the Civil War entirely, and I will continue to write about it. I just won’t be doing it exclusively.

I need to grow as a writer and historian, and variety will only make me better.

I will have more news about the Revolutionary War to report soon. Thanks again to all who took the time to give me input on this important decision.

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Ted Strickland, the Governor of Ohio, authorized the formation of a Civil War sesquicentennial commission in April. The membership of the commission was finally announced this past week, and your humble servant was named as one of its 15 members. From the Ohio Civil War 150 website:

OHIO HISTORICAL SOCIETY NAMES CIVIL WAR SESQUICENTENNIAL ADVISORY GROUP
by Kristina – December 10th, 2009.
Filed under: News. Tagged as: Civil War 150 Advisory Committee.
Members Represent Statewide Effort To Ensure Successful Commemoration Effort

(COLUMBUS, OHIO)—In response to Gov. Ted Strickland’s directive to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War in Ohio (2011-2015), the Ohio Historical Society has appointed 15 Ohioans to the Civil War 150 Advisory Committee, announced Jim Strider, acting executive director.

Made up of individuals from around the state, the committee will provide guidance to the historical society on programs and activities to ensure a successful commemoration effort at both the state and local levels. Meeting will run quarterly, and members will serve until the end 2015.

“These individuals represent men and women who have a deep interest in Ohio history, particularly its Civil War heritage,” Strider said. “Advisory committee members also will contribute their professional expertise in history, education, state government, historical organizations, media and tourism.”

The Civil War 150 Advisory Committee includes:

James Bissland is from Bowling Green in Wood County. He taught in the journalism program at Bowling Green State University for 20 years and serves today as an associate professor of journalism emeritus. Bissland is the author of “Blood, Tears, & Glory: How Ohioans Won the Civil War,” published in October 2007.

Tom Brinkman Jr., a former Ohio legislator (2001-2008) from Cincinnati, has an educational background in history and experience with former commemorative initiatives in Ohio. He lives in Cincinnati in Hamilton County.

Andrew Cayton is a Distinguished Professor of History at Miami University. He lives in Oxford in Butler County. He is the author of “Ohio: The History of a People,” published in 2002. He has earned many honors and distinctions for both his scholarship and his teaching, including a Fulbright position in American Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Bob Davis serves as commander of the Department of Ohio, Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War. This patriotic and educational organization seeks to preserve the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic and to care for GAR memorials and identify the location of union veterans’ gravesites. Davis lives in Canal Winchester in Fairfield County.

Gainor Davis is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Western Reserve Historical Society of the Western Reserve Historical Society, an organization whose collections include an extensive and unique Civil War-era collection. She has more than 27 years of experience, including leadership roles in history organizations in Pennsylvania, Vermont and Louisiana. She resides in Cleveland Heights in Cuyahoga County.

Paul LaRue is a social studies teacher at Washington High School and lives in Washington Court House in Fayette County. He has been honored for his innovative methods of teaching Civil War history by the American Legion (2003 Educator of the Year) and the Civil War Preservation Trust, among others.

Roger Micker, from Wheeling (West Virginia), is a social studies teacher at Steubenville High School in Steubenville, Jefferson County. He is president of the Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable, a re-enactor, a member of the Ohio Historical Society Teacher Advisory Committee, and a Teaching American History program participant.

Bob Minton is Colonel of the Army of the Ohio Reenacting Battalion and involved in Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island. He has also raised funds to conserve two Ohio Civil War battle flags. Minton lives in Fostoria in Hancock County.

Don Murphy, from Cincinnati in Hamilton County, serves as chief executive officer of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. He is the former deputy director of the National Park Service and before that served for seven years as the director of California State Parks.

Rep. Mark Okey represents House District 61, which includes Carroll County and parts of Mahoning, Stark and Tuscarawas counties. The McCook House, an Ohio Historical Society site, is within his district. His interest in Civil War history is evidenced by his personal collection and research. He resides in Carrollton in Carroll County.

Dave Roth is the co-founder and publisher of Blue & Gray Magazine, which focuses on Civil War battlefields and provides in-depth information on Civil War sites for its readers. The magazine has surpassed 25 years of operation and 150 issues. Roth lives in Columbus in Franklin County.

John Switzer is a journalist with the Columbus Dispatch, who lives in Columbus in Franklin County. Previously a weather columnist, today he writes a Sunday Metro column, often revealing his interest in historical topics.

Diana Thompson is the executive director of the Miami County Visitors & Convention Bureau. She has 26 years of experience in the hospitality field and is active in the Ohio Travel Association, including teaching for the Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy. Thompson lives in Piqua in Miami County.

Catherine Wilson is the executive director of the Greene County Historical Society. She has experience in archives, genealogy, history scholarship and Civil War re-enacting. She has authored a number of articles on topics of relevance to Civil War history as well. She resides in Xenia in Greene County.

Eric Wittenberg, from Columbus in Franklin County, is an attorney who has authored more than 10 books about the Civil War and also writes a blog, Rantings of a Civil War Historian. He is a member of the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable and Vice President of the Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation.

About the Civil War 150

Ohio’s leadership before, during and after the Civil War had a profound influence on American history. Decades later, Gov. Ted Strickland wants to make sure that all Ohioans remember the past of their great state and the sacrifices that were made to preserve the Union. He chose the Ohio Historical Society to lead the effort because the state history organization is “uniquely positioned” to direct the initiative.

“It is important not only to commemorate the historic significance of the Civil War, but to also celebrate the role that Ohio and Ohioans played in achieving the monumental victory,” Gov. Strickland said in his directive to historical society last April. “The Ohio Historical Society is uniquely positioned with the expertise and physical resources to lead the state in commemorating the Civil War in Ohio.”

Civil War 150 Efforts Underway

In addition to establishing the Civil War 150 Advisory Committee, the historical society has organized a statewide network of organizations and historic sites so that the Civil War tribute can be organized seamlessly. One goal is to raise awareness of the upcoming sesquicentennial and encourage Ohioans to visit the many Civil War sites across the state.

“Ohio’s link to the Civil War is a very significant one,” Strider said. “Ohioans had a deep and lasting influence on the war, and the war spurred an age of great prosperity and political power for the state.”

To help raise awareness about Ohio’s pivotal role in Civil War history, the Ohio Historical Society and Cleveland State University’s Center for Public History and Digital Humanities recently launched www.ohiocivilwar150.org to commemorate the upcoming 150th anniversary of the war in 2011 to 2015. The Web site is a collection of information as well as a dynamic tool for the public, educators and local history groups to collaborate and share their knowledge of Ohio’s fascinating Civil War history.
The Ohio Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that serves as the state’s partner in preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, natural history, archaeology and historic architecture. For more information about programs and events, visit www.ohiohistory.org.

On one hand, this is a very great honor, and I am honored to have been selected. On the other hand, Ohio’s economy is in shambles (and has been for some time), and we’re going to have to put together programming for the sesquicentennial with next to no budget, largely because the Ohio Senate pulled funding for it back in June. It’s going to be a real challenge to pull this off with no budget to speak of, but I will keep everyone posted as to our progress. Our first meeting has yet to be scheduled, but I’m sure it will be shortly after the first of the year.

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From the September 13, 2009 issue of the York Daily Record:

Electric Map Could Make A Comeback: New Gettysburg Visitor Center Could Host A Video Presentation Of The Map

The Electric Map might have a place at the new Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center after all. More than 16 months since the famous map’s last showing, visitors continue to ask about the Gettysburg icon, park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon said. She said rave reviews of the new museum center are often punctuated by a single comment from visitors: “I really wish that you still had the map.”

Park officials have taken note, she said, and are in the middle of an “experiment” they hope will satisfy those visitors and critics who have argued that the 46-year-old Electric Map deserves to have a place in the new facility. Their idea is to create a film “based on the Electric Map presentation” that would orient visitors to Gettysburg history — and give them an alternative to viewing the museum’s current film, “A New Birth of Freedom.” The details of how it would work are still sketchy, but Lawhon said the Electric Map film has potential to create a better visitor experience.

“The common ground here is that for people who are coming to the park and they want to see the Electric Map, it’s a way to meet their needs,” she said. Created in 1963 by Joseph Rosensteel, the Electric Map used lights to depict troop movements during the Battle of Gettysburg. It could be viewed by the public for $4 before the old visitor center on Taneytown Road was closed last April.

Though the Electric Map had originally been included in the park’s general-management plan as one of three pay-to-see “interpretive venues,” park officials ultimately decided not to reopen the exhibit at the new site on Baltimore Pike. They cited a lack of interest from the public and an opportunity for new technology. Then, a year ago, some suggested reinstating the Electric Map as a means of generating revenue after the park announced its plan to institute an admission fee for the previously free museum. Officials had projected a $1.78 million shortfall. But park and foundation officials said they believed the potential revenue from the Electric Map would not resolve the overall problem.

The Electric Map was disassembled earlier this year and placed in storage, where it remains today. But before it was taken apart, the Electric Map presentation was filmed, Park Superintendent John Latschar said Thursday. The film is being edited, he said.

“When it’s ready, we’re just going to run an experiment,” Latschar said, adding that park officials have heard from many visitors who “desperately missed the map.” The experiment, Latschar said, will be to show both the Electric Map film and “A New Birth of Freedom” simultaneously “and let visitors vote.”

Asked to explain further, Lawhon said that doesn’t mean the park intends to offer only the more popular film. Rather, she said, visitors will likely have a choice of which film they’d like to view before moving on to the Cyclorama painting presentation. That’s possible because there are two theaters in the museum. Calling it a hybrid of old and new technology, Lawhon stressed the Electric Map film is still an experiment. “If we get it up and running, we would probably leave it as a second option,” she said.

I’m not the least bit surprised to hear that there’s a clamor to bring back the Electric Map. A lot of people have a warm place in their hearts for it, including me, and I think that the Park Service can do a lot to bring joy to a lot of people by bringing back some incarnation of it. I wholeheartedly support the idea of finding a way to return it to its rightful place, even if it is a film presentation of it. It belongs somewhere in the new VC.

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in case any of my readers are in the Cleveland area and have an interest, I am speaking to the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable on Wednesday evening. The Cleveland CWRT meets at a place called Judson Manor, which is located near the Cleveland Clinic at the corner of East 107th Avenue and Chester Avenue. The social hour and meal begin at 6:00, and I believe that I go on at 7:00. Advance reservations are required, so please be sure to make a reservation if you intend to come hear my talk, which will be based on my book Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg.

If any readers make it to the talk, please be sure to come and introduce yourself to me.

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The first Battle of Middleburg occurred late in the day on June 17, 1863. Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton, the acting commander of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps, was known to be a terrible xenophobe. He felt that foreigners had no place in the American Civil War, and he didn’t trust any of them. Once he took command of the Cavalry Corps, he took steps to purge his command of all foreign-born officers. One of his prime targets was Col. Alfred N. Duffie of the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry.

Duffie, a Frenchman of questionable military lineage, had briefly commanded a division before a reorganization and poor performance caused him to be demoted to regimental command. Pleasonton sent Duffie’s regiment, the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry, on a mission far behind enemy lines to find out whether there were any enemy in the town of Middleburg. This small but fine regiment got chopped to bits when it got there, unexpectedly finding Brig. Gen. Beverly H. Robertson’s large but green brigade of North Carolina cavalry there. The Tar Heels chopped Duffie’s regiment to shreds, and only a handful of men avoided capture. Not surprisingly, they lost their regimental flag, which was, for years, part of the collection of the North Carolina Museum of History.

In his blog post today, Michael C. Hardy shared this interesting piece of news:

The North Carolina Museum of History has returned a Civil War flag of Company L, First Rhode Island Cavalry to its home state. The V-shaped flag, called a guidon, was captured by the 63rd North Carolina Troops (Fifth North Carolina Cavalry) on June 17, 1863, during the Battle of Middleburg, Virginia. The battle was part of the Gettysburg campaign, a series of battles in June to July during Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s movement through Virginia toward Pennsylvania.

The silk, striped guidon of Company L, with stars and letters on a field of blue, was donated to the Museum of History in the early 1900s. The gold-fringed banner has been fully restored by the museum and has appeared in previous exhibits.

In a gesture of goodwill, the Museum of History initiated the offer to return the flag to the State of Rhode Island. In 2008 the Rhode Island National Guard accepted the gift from North Carolina.

“The Rhode Island National Guard is thankful to the North Carolina Museum of History staff for graciously returning a Rhode Island Civil War guidon,” says Maj. Gen. Robert T. Bray, Adjutant General and Commanding General of the Rhode Island National Guard. “We are delighted to display the banner, especially given its pristine condition as a result of the careful preservation provided by the museum, among the many historical artifacts at the Varnum Armory in East Greenwich.”

The Museum of History hopes the State of Rhode Island will return a North Carolina flag captured by Rhode Island soldiers at New Bern on March 14, 1862. “We would like this Confederate flag, along with ones held by other states, to eventually be returned to North Carolina,” says Tom Belton, curator of military history.

In addition to the Rhode Island guidon, the Museum of History has given back a Civil War flag to Louisiana. The banner was mistakenly identified as being associated with North Carolina. Within the last few years, the Museum of History has received North Carolina flags from Arkansas and Massachusetts to add to its collection.

The Museum of History boasts the third-largest Confederate flag collection in the world. All banners in the collection were carried by Tar Heel troops. The museum is currently engaged in an extensive flag conservation program in anticipation of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War; commemorative events will take place from 2011 to 2015.Company L, First Rhode Island Cavalry at the Battle of Middleburg

Company L, First Rhode Island Cavalry suffered devastating losses during the Battle of Middleburg. On June 17 Union Col. Alfred N. Duffié led more than 230 men into Middleburg around 4 p.m. After hearing of their arrival, Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart ordered Brig. Gen. Beverly Robertson to move the Fifth North Carolina Cavalry in, and at 7 p.m. the regiment surrounded and attacked the Rhode Island unit. Several of Duffié’s men were killed or wounded, and the rest were driven out of town and fought their way through the night.

Most of Company L’s soldiers were captured the next morning. Only four of Duffié’s officers and 27 soldiers made it back to Centreville on June 18. A few more men from Company L returned during the next two days, but the regiment’s losses were about 200.

For more information, call 919-807-7900 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org. The Museum of History is located at 5 E. Edenton St., across from the State Capitol.

I’m pleased that this flag has been returned to Rhode Island where it belongs–it’s a generous and worthy gesture by North Carolina to do so. Thanks to Michael Hardy for sharing this good news with me.

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This morning, Susan and I leave for a much-needed vacation. We’re headed to California for a week. There will be no Civil War on this trip, and I intend to take a much needed break from work, researching, writing, and, yes, blogging, too. We will be back on the evening of the 15th. Posting will resume on the 16th. Have a good week and enjoy your respite from me.

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Time for another in my infrequent posts on forgotten Union cavalrymen. Today, we’re focusing on a little-known officer who commanded an even more obscure unit. Erastus Blakeslee was born to Joel and Sarah Marie Mansfield Blakeslee in Plymouth, Connecticut on September 2, 1838. He attended the Williston Seminary at Easthampton, Massachusetts for his college preparatory studies, and entered the freshman class at Yale University in the fall of 1859. He was on his spring vacation in 1861 when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, and he was one of the first from Plymouth to enlist in response to President Lincoln’s call for volunteers.

He enlisted in Company A of the 1st Battalion Connecticut Cavalry Volunteers on October 9, 1861. Nine days later, he was commissioned second lieutenant in the same company. On November 26, just over a month later, he was promoted to first lieutenant and was appointed regimental adjutant. On February 28, 1862, he was promoted to captain of Company A, which he commanded in the field.

On July 14, 1863, he was promoted to major, and assumed command of the regiment. On May 21, 1864, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and six days later, was promoted to colonel in a remarkably rapid rise. He went from private to colonel in two-and-a-half years. He was wounded in battle at the Battle of Ashland, Virginia on June 1, 1864, and returned to duty in time for the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign. He mustered out on October 26, 1864 upon expiration of his term of service. Blakeslee was brevetted to brigadier general of volunteers on March 13, 1865 for gallant conduct at Ashland, Va. on June 1, 1864. “He was a brilliant fighter,” observed one writer. “The General is the idol of his old regiment.”

Although the 1st Connecticut is a not a well-known regiment, it was engaged in a great deal of fighting during the Civil War. The State’s first cavalry regiment was organized as a battalion under Maj. J. W. Lyon in September 1861, and became a full regiment under Col. William S. Fish in November. It was sent to western Virginia to fight bushwhackers in March, 1862.

In the winter of 1862-1863 the regiment moved to Baltimore, Maryland for reorganization, and was serving there during the Gettysburg Campaign as part of the forces assigned to the Middle Military District. It moved to Harper’s Ferry, W. Va., July 5, 1863, and skirmished with southern cavalry in that vicinity until January, 1864.

After Blakeslee was promoted to colonel, the regiment became part of the Third Cavalry Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, fighting throughout the Overland Campaign, including at the Wilderness, Todd’s Tavern, Yellow Tavern, Meadow Bridges, throughout the Wilson-Kautz Raid, and then served in Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign from August to December 1864, fighting at Tom’s Brook and Cedar Creek. It then participated in Lee’s retreat from Petersburg, including fighting at Sailor’s Creek. The 1st Connecticut escorted Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to receive Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The 1st Connecticut suffered 772 casualties during the war, representing 56% of its strength.

Blakeslee was also an inventor. With the advent of the Spencer repeating carbine, Blakeslee realized that his troopers would run out of ammunition quickly unless they had a way to carry large quantities of ammunition available to them. Blakeslee addressed this problem by designing the “Blakeslee Box”, which held ten ammunition tubes for the Spencer, meaning that each trooper could carry 70 rounds in tubes, ready to be loaded. More than 10,000 Blakeslee Cartridge Boxes were manufactured and distributed to the Federal cavalry during the course of the Civil War.

After the war, Blakeslee engaged in business in New Haven, Connecticut and then in Boston. In 1876, he resumed his studies, attending and graduating from Andover Theological Seminary. After graduating from there in 1879, he held Congregational Church pastorates in New Haven, Connecticut and Spencer, Massachusetts. While in Spencer, he became interested in an effort to improve the methods and result of Bible study in Sunday schools and among young people, and set about developing a system of study. In the summer of 1892, he resigned from his pastorate and moved to Boston, where he devoted his efforts to developing further improvements in the methods of Bible study.

He published numerous works on the Bible, including a nine-part study titled The Gospel History of Jesus Christ, that were translated into ten different languages, and were used in nearly all of the evangelical denominations in North America.

General Blakeslee lived the rest of his life in the Boston area, where he was active in veterans’ affairs, and regularly attended reunions of his old regiment. “At such times the Custer tie is the dominant color in the old cavalry organization,” noted a reporter in 1895.

He died July 12, 1908, and was buried in Walnut Hills Cemetery in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is one of the few officers to rise from private to colonel and regimental command. His genius led to the development of his cartridge box, and he then devoted his life to preaching the gospel. Here’s to Erastus Blakeslee, forgotten cavalryman.

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On Thursday, I accepted an invitation that I was honored to receive. I have been invited to be the keynote presenter at the 20th anniversary picnic commemorating the founding of the Brandy Station Foundation, which will be on September 13, 2009, at Berry Hill Farm in lovely Culpeper County, Virginia. The event begins at 1:00, and I will be speaking between 2:30 and 3 on a subject that is near and dear to my heart, “Preservation and the Brandy Station Battlefield.

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