14 January 2008 by Published in: General musings 16 comments

One of the things that I really enjoy doing when working on my projects is developing orders of battle. I’ve always been very proud of my ability to put together detailed orders of battle that include a lot of useful information, such as the names of regimental commanders, and, if something happened to them, successors.

Sometimes, it’s just not possible to get everything. Given that the Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads occurred a scant few weeks before the end of the Civil War, and given the wretched state of Confederate record-keeping at that time, in spite of years of research and my very best efforts to do so, I was unable to identify several of the regimental commanders on the Confederate side. That really bothered me, because it was the first time that I’ve ever been unable to fill in all of the regimental commanders in an order of battle.

This evening, I started working on an order of battle for the July 9, 1864 Battle of Monocacy, which is going to be the next project for J. D. and me. I got a decent start on it, but I’ve still got a bunch of regimental commanders on both sides to identify.

This time, though, I’m going to succeed. I’m going to get all of them.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Craig Swain
    Tue 15th Jan 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Have you referred to Beares’ study of the battle. He offers a detailed order of battle, down to the regimental and battery level if I recall correctly.

  2. Craig Swain
    Tue 15th Jan 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Sorry, but the correct title is “The Battle of Monocacy: A Documentary Report by Edwin C. Bearss.” Edited by Brett Spaulding. Please disregard my first comment.

  3. Tue 15th Jan 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Hope you’ll put in the sharpshooters, esp. the Confederates. By this time each brigade had a battalion of them, and each division had a brigade-sized organization called the division sharpshooters. These organizations did a lot of the fighting in the Valley but you won’t find them on most OB since they are composite units.

    At Monocacy Rodes did all of his fighting at the Jug Bridge with his Division Sharpshooters, which at that time was a demi-brigade of 7-800 men. Rickett’s division had a sharpshooter company that cause quite a bit of damage also.

  4. Tue 15th Jan 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Craig,

    We do indeed have Ed’s study, and it will prove to be of immense help.

    Fred,

    Thanks so much for alerting us to the role of the sharpshooters – Eric and I just discussed it, and it’s a facet we’re not familiar with yet… we have a lot of digging to do on it, and any assistance you can provide will be more than welcome!

    J.D.

  5. Tue 15th Jan 2008 at 6:53 pm

    The offer of a blog review copy of my book is still open, if either of you are interested. Among other things I take a detailed look at what happened at Jug Bridge.

    The question of how to deal with composite units in an OB is an interesting one, since they aren’t “real” TO&E units, but yet they are on the battlefield and are quite important. I’ll be interested to see how you handle it.

    Happy to answer any questions you’uns might have about the sharpshooters.

  6. Jeff Mancini
    Tue 15th Jan 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Eric: Obviously your research will touch on the cavalry portion of this engagement. I believe Clendenin’s Federal Cavalry comprised the 8th Illinois Cavalry Regiment. This unit I believe was attached at one time to Buford’s brigade and was the first unit to skirmish with Heth’s division on the Chambersburg Road just west of Gettysburg July 1863. As for the Rebel cavalry effort John McCausland’s unit was comprised of I think the 17th Virginia Cavalry also known as the “Nighthawk Rangers”. The 17th Virginia lost their colors at Monocacy. The 17th Virgina actually had developed a deep and storied reputation including a splendid action attached to General Albert Jenkin’s Brigade fighting rear guard action at Gettysburg covering Lee’s retreating army, they served Stuart by clashing with Custer according to lore with the 17th’s troopers holding off the Michigan Brigade with Enfield rifles and 10 rounds of ammunition each.Further research however dispels that as I believe that the 17th was actually guarding prisoners and the credit for the fight goes to the 34th Virginia battalion. At any rate the 17th did actually fight the first day at Gettysburg. They would eventually finish the war at Appomattox but their efforts at Monocacy are definitely a worthwhile read. Can’t wait for your research on this one.

  7. Tue 15th Jan 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Jeff,

    You’re correct about the 8th Illinois. There were some other miscellaneous units, but the 8th was the primary mounted unit with Wallace.

    The 17th Virginia became a pretty good unit, although it didn’t start out that way. Part of the 17th fought on East Cavalry Field, but not the entire unit.

    Sit tight. It’s going to be a while. But we hope nobody will be disappointed.

    Eric

  8. Tue 15th Jan 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Hi Eric,

    Well, I guess you’ll be visiting the C Burr Artz Library in Frederick, MD and the Historical Society of Frederick County eventually. You may also want to check on the railroad side of the events leading up to the battle by visiting the B&O Railroad Museum and Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, MD to find out about John W Garrett’s role in gathering intel about Early’s movements and working with Wallace to get the troops of the VIII Corps to Frederick in time.

    I think there’s also some Garrett stuff at the Museum of American History in DC but it won’t be open again until the summer.

    This sounds like a great research project!

    Take Care
    -Nick

  9. Tue 15th Jan 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Clendenin’s unit was only battalion strength and had a running fight down the Georgetown Pike. I think there are two graves of troopers from this at the church cemetery in Urbana, MD. Also Luke Teirnan Brien of Stuart’s staff is buried near by at the Catholic cemetery. I was in High School last time I was there.

    Take Care
    -Nick

  10. Wed 16th Jan 2008 at 10:13 am

    Fred,

    Eric and I just ordered copies of your book… I had intended to purchase it this year anyway, but your comments motivated us to pick it up sooner 🙂

    Keep the Monocacy info coming, guys – any leads such as this are of great assistance to us.

    J.D.

  11. Wed 16th Jan 2008 at 11:18 am

    Great suggestions, Nick. Many thanks.

    We will definitely pursue those leads.

    Eric

  12. Steve Meserve
    Wed 16th Jan 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Jeff Mancini said: “holding off the Michigan Brigade with Enfield rifles and 10 rounds of ammunition each….” That is one of the great myths of Gettysburg, ranking right up there with Heth’s shoes and Buford’s repeating rifles. At three aimed shots a minute, it would take an experienced musket shooter well under five minutes to shoot 10 rounds of ammunition; yet Witcher’s men held their position under heavy fire for more than an hour. I have never figured out exactly who started the “only 10 rounds per man” myth that Stuart perpetuated when he finally got around to writing his report on the campaign; but I can see why Stuart used it to blame his failure to drive Gregg from the field on someone who was not part of his regular command.

  13. James Mattes
    Wed 16th Jan 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Funny you should mention Monroe’s Crossroads Order of Battle. I have not gotten your book yet but I was researching the battle when I was stationed at Fort Bragg, 83-91. I was able to collect most of the first hand reports and other published resouces on the battle as well as copies of the Archeological surveys from Bill Kerns at the Environmental Engineering Department at Ft. Bragg. I wanted to do a detailed study of the battle and perhaps do a book on the subject. The Army had other plans for me and I spent the next ten years around the globe working out of D.C. By the time I was ready to take up the task again there were two books on the subject, a government publication on the battle and the site had a marker on the battlefield.

    Back in the day I conducted Staff rides out in training Area Z (Military name of the battlefield area). Several key teaching points from leadership, to snatch operations, to base camp security were subjects we covered during the visits. I used the battlefield in my instruction in the Special Forces Operations and Intelligence course as a teaching ad as well.

    I also by chance landed on the battlefield when one halo jump came up short. At the time I did not know of the battlefield. A few weeks later I was reading about the campaigns in the Carolinas when I discovered a reference to a fight at Cross Creek just west of Fayetteville. From then on I read everything I could find on the battle in the area and finally found the site with the assistance of Bill Kerns.

    I look forward to reading your book one of these days. I have read several of your articles on the net several years back and Scott Mingus speaks highly of you.

    VR
    James Mattes

  14. Wed 16th Jan 2008 at 7:54 pm

    I collected and posted some details of the Monocacy related sites, in perspective of the historical markers here:
    http://www.hmdb.org/results.asp?Related=3294

    http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?MarkerID=3294

    I reside a short drive from the battlefield and often travel those backroads. Certainly an interesting topic to cover.

  15. Richard Abel
    Sun 13th Apr 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Confederate troop strength @ Monocacy- Has always been debated. I donated to Monocacy NPS an original letter written by CS commanding general Jubal Early written from Drummondville, Ontario, Canada June 18th 1868. He lists 8,000 infantry, 40 pieces of light field artillery manned by some 4 or 500 men, 1200 or 1500 cavalry. But only one division (Gordon’s) 2,000 men, one brigade cavalry 4 or 500 men dismounted, and some 12-15 pieces of artillery were actually used in the fight. as info, Original northern newspapers describing the battle were also donated as source material & research@ the visitor center. Good Luck, hope this helps, looking forward to your book!

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