Monday, December 31, 2012

Loss of the USS Monitor

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Monitor. It seems that the event has drawn little notice in the blogosphere with everyone trying to get posts on Murfreesboro and the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation set for January 1, 2013. I must admit I had lost sight of it myself. My post on Murfreesboro , in particular “Hell's Half Acre” at the Round Forrest could not be pulled together to suit me, and the EP is best left to abler minds and pens than mine. What to do?

While searching Frank Leslie's Illustrated for something to tie in with Murfreesboro, I stumbled across the following poem (again???!!!) dealing with the loss of the Monitor. Although I enjoy sharing some of the poetry I find in my studies, I hate to do two posts back to back built on it. After thinking about it most of the day, I decided to go ahead with it. Two reasons led me to the decision. First, it is a great poem! It is at once heroic and sad, yet not full of flowery language that leaves your mind lost as to the poets intent. Secondly, after a perusal of the Official Records of the navies, I found it strikingly accurate, with little artistic license being employed.

It may not be completely accurate but close enough, and as a memorial to the sailors that perished aboard Monitor and her tow, the USS Rhode Island, it accomplished its mission. I beg pardon to those of you that do not like poetry but please read it anyway. It is another of my rare “Sesquicentennial Moments”. It is rather lengthy but it will keep your attention.
Crew of the Monitor,


The Monitor: December 31, 1862

In gallant trim, with fame elate,
the foremost of our Ironsides,
the Monitor, with noble freight
forth on the Atlantic billow rides.

Monroe's grim fort, from iron mouth,
thunders “God Speed” and “Victory!”
With answering cheer, towards the South
on steams the hero of the sea.

Commander J.P. Bankhead, USS Monitor
Old Ocean smiled, the wind was light,
the sailors wore a joyous air,
so passed the day, and so the night,
and all around was calm and fair.

But with the morning clouds arose,
which deepened, till, when evening came,
fierce on her fell those giant blows,
sending dull tremors thro' her frame.

But as a rider strides his horse,
which rages neath his weight, so kept
our gallant boat her onward course,
and thro' the tempest swept.

But art is weak when Nature rears
in wrath sublime her giant form,
and clothed in lurid night, rides forth
upon the volleying storm.

Down thro' the gaping seams the wave
poured its insidious tide, as erst
o'er Arqua's walls the invaders crept,
ere fell swoop the stormers burst.

Firm at their post, the gallant crew
struggled with night, and storm, and sea,
'twas all in vain— the tempest grew,
and battled for its victory.

The spectral blue lights rose in vain,
from the Rhode Island--soaring high--
in one brief gleam they pierce the rain,
then perish in the sky.

O'er deck and tower the maddened waves
like living creatures rush and leap,

Commander Stephen D. Trenchard, USS Rhode Island
as 'tho Old Ocean had unchained
the demons of the deep.

'Twas the threshold of the morn--
Midnight, without a star looked on;
and as the stormy day was born,
the Monitor was gone!

For with one shuddering lurch, as tho
it knew its doom, above the wave
it rose an instant, then below
plunged deep into its grave.

Brave hearts were quenched forever then,
they died as honor loves to die,
in striking chains from fellow men--
for Truth and Liberty!

And honor to the glorious band,
who, scorning the wild tempests breath,
grappled their sinking comrades hand,
and dragged them back from death!*

Worden and Bankhead—gallant twain, **
for one brief minute ye may weep
your ocean home beneath the main,
then to fresh triumphs on the deep!
'Twas the last morn of '62,
and by the long gray strips of sand
of Hatteras the seagulls flew,
at instincts blind command.

And all that day around the spot
where sank the noble Monitor,
The staunch Rhode Island cruised--
forgot were storm and oceans roar.

But fathoms deep below the wave,
our grand heroic brothers rest,
the corals guard their sacred grave;
and sea flowers deck each breast.

Where o'er their billowy pall each night
the sighing winds roll and surge,
the choral voices, vast and dim--
Old Oceans solemn dirge.

Unfortunately I was unable to find who actually wrote this poem and no mention of the author was given in Leslie's.
The Picket

* The USS Monitor went down off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina at about 1:30 AM, December 31, 1862, with sixteen sailors lost. Rhode Island lost eight in their efforts to save the crew of the stricken ironclad.
    **Lieutenant John L. Worden, First commander of the Monitor, Commander J.P. Bankhead the last.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Poem for a New Year- Henry Timrod

Art thou not glad to close
Thy wearied eyes, O saddest child of time?
Eyes which have looked on every mortal crime,
And swept the piteous round of mortal woes?

Savage Station, June 1862

In dark Plutonian caves,
Beneath the lowest deep, go, hide thy head;
Or earth thee where the blood that thou hast shed
May trickle on thee from the countless graves!

Take with thee all thy gloom
And guilt, and all our griefs, save what the breast,
Without a wrong to some dear shadowy guest,
May not surrender even to the tomb.

Burying the dead at Fredericksburg

No tear shall weep thy fall,
When, as the midnight bell doth toll thy fate,
Another lifts the scepter of thy state,
And sits a monarch in thine ancient hall.

Him all hours attend,
With a hope like morning in their eyes;
Him the fair earth and him these radiant skies
Hail as their sovereign, welcome as their friend.

Him to the nations wait;
O lead us from the shadow of the past.”
In a long wail like this December blast,
They cry, and crying grow less desolate.

How he will shape his sway
They ask not-- for old doubts and fears will cling--
And yet they trust that, somehow, he will bring
A sweeter sunshine than thy mildest day.

Fishing on the James River

Beneath his gentle hand
They hope to see no meadow, vale, or hill
Stained with a deeper red than roses spill,
When some too boisterous zephyr sweeps the land.

A time of peaceful prayer,
Of law, love, labor, honest loss and gain--
These are the visions of the coming reign
Now floating to them on this wintry air.

Henry Timrod, “1866- Addressed to the Old Year” [1]

Henry Timrod was born December 8, 1829 in Charleston, South Carolina. He studied at the University of Georgia but due to ill health he left the school and never returned. After leaving school he studied law in the office of a prominent Charleston lawyer but had no particular relish for that line of work. He would again take up his classical studies, on his own, and he hoped to one day gain a professorship. He never attained the heights of academia he desired, but he did teach the children of a wealthy South Carolina planter for several years. His poetry as well as some prose, would appear in magazines such as “The Southern Literary Messenger and Russell's Magazine. In 1860 Ticknor and Fields of Boston, Massachusetts produced a slim volume of his poems. [1]
He enlisted in the 20th South Carolina Infantry in 1862 but was soon discharged, again owing to poor health. Afterward he became a war correspondent for the Charleston Mercury, and later became editor for the newspaper, The South Carolinian. [2]

He survived the war and died October 7, 1867, a relatively young man of 37 years.

The Picket

1- The Poems of Henry Timrod, Timrod, Henry, 1829-1867, New York, E.J. Hale and Son, 1873. from
2- The Cyclopedia of American Biographies, 1903, Federal Book Company, Boston Massachusetts
Photo Credits
All photos from Library of Congress:
Burying the Dead at Fredericksburg, from
Drawing is left side of Harper's Weekly centerpiece, January 3, 1863, volume 7, number 314, from Internet Archive,
by Thomas Nast

Monday, December 24, 2012

Season's Greeting's,

Merry Christmas!!!
Right side of Harper's Weekly centerpiece, “Christmas Eve” Thomas Nast. January 3, 1863. Volume 7. Number 314.

I like the drawings as they appeared in original form.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Other News for December 1862

Vast amounts of ink, paper, and talent were devoted to the coverage of the American Civil War. Column after column and page after page the bloody toll of the war was recited. Headlines trumpeted “signal victory” or passed judgment, sometimes both. Maps of the far off theaters of battle lay within the folds of the newspapers, and portraits of generals graced the front page or covers of journals.

Hidden amongst the riot of war news, one could find the items of less import, yet of no less interest. Some were humorous, some tragic, but all made up life in the years 1861-1865. None had a profound impact on the war, but assuredly all were impacted to some degree by it. What follows are examples of Other News for December 1862. All of the items are given in their entirety, illustrating how little space things of this nature occupied in print.

The New York Daily Tribune reports the following short items on December 2:

A New Journal in South Carolina-

The Rev. Mansfield French, who returned to this city a few weeks ago, from Port Royal, has, since his arrival, purchased a printing press, type, and a large stock of paper, for the furnishing of the printing office of The Southern Cross, a newspaper about to be published in South Carolina. It is expected that The Southern Cross will be raised in Charleston early in January.

It also reported :

Attempt to set Fire to the Jersey City Prison

On Saturday forenoon, a soldier named Wm. Griffith, committed to the city prison, and held as a deserter, attempted to burn the building by setting fire to the straw mattress in his cell. The cell being fireproof the attempt of course failed, but Griffith was considerably burned about the hands and face, which caused him to call out for help. It was supposed he was laboring under an attack of delirium tremors. [1]

The Memphis Daily Appeal reports on December 13:

Great Breadth of Land Sown in Wheat

The Macon Journal and Messenger learns that an unusual breadth of land has been sown in wheat in Georgia, and the present prospect is encouraging for a large crop next year.

It was not uncommon for newspapers to trade stories, and it did not matter if it was a Northern or Southern paper. The Daily Appeal also reports of their move from Grenada, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi in the two weeks prior to this issue. They report that they feel as if “among friends and brothers.”[2]

Minnesotans are duly proud of the health of the people of the state. On December 18, the Saint Cloud Democrat reports the following:

 Healthfulness of Minnesota

The census shows the following number of deaths in Minnesota for the year ending June 1, 1860:
Males; 584, Females; 515; Total, 1100 or 1 to every 157 of the population.

The following is the mortality and health of each section:
States: Population Deaths Proportion
New England: 3,132,283 45,859 1 to every 68
Middle States: 7,458,885 84,620 1 to every 88
Western States: 8,563,377 89,602 1 to every 95
Southern States: 12,315,374 174,095 1 to every 71
The proportion of deaths in Minnesota was thus about half the average of the United States in general. In other words, it is twice as healthy as the rest of the country. It will be seen by the above table that the Western States are much healthier than any other potion of the Union, while Minnesota is a great deal healthier than other Western States. (from the St. Paul Press) [3]

In the national newspapers and magazines, other things made news.

From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper of December 27 we find the following noteworthy nuggets listed under the heading Epitome of the week:

The snow in Washington county N.Y. Was 18 inches deep a few days ago. Many of the farmers had not dug their potatoes or gathered their corn.

The shock of an earthquake was felt on the 7th of December at Evansville, Ind.; it rang all the doorbells and shook the houses.

And it seems gentlemen were still looking for wives as the following indicates:

An advertisement in a Western paper thus reads: The advertiser, being a widower, is open to proposals from ladies, either widows or maids, of more than average respectability, tolerably sane in disposition and with hair of any color except red. [4]

Harper’s Weekly of December 6 reports the forthcoming marriage of the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark.

The Prince of Wales and His Intended Bride

We publish on page 781 portraits of the Price of Wales and the Lady whom he is to marry, the Princess Alexandra of Denmark. The Prince is just twenty-one years of age. It will be seen by our portrait that he looks rather older than when he danced here at the famous Prince's ball. He wears incipient whiskers; and the crafty engraver has contrived a shade over the upper lip which may perhaps pass as a mustache. He is understood to have been kept busy since he left here, in study and travel, and has no doubt a well stored mind.
The following account of Princess Alexandra, the future Queen of England, will doubtless be read with interest:

Princess Alexandra, born December 1, 1844, is the second child and eldest daughter of Prince Christian of Schleswig- Holstein, heir expectant to the Danish throne, and of Princess Louisa of Hesse-Cassel. She is gifted, as will be seen in our portrait, with no inconsiderable share of beauty, and is described as being very accomplished, having received in her family, which is generally esteemed as a model of all domestic virtues, the most careful and complete education. Princess Alexandra is a Sous Lieutenant in the Danish Army. Many journals in France and Belgium, upon commenting on the account given of the Royal family of Denmark, stated that the Almanache de Gotha had committed an amusing mistake in describing Princess Alexandra as a Sous-Lieutenant in the Danish Army. It appears, however, that there was no mistake at all in the matter; for, however extraordinary it may appear to us, the illustrious intended bride of the Prince of Wales does actually hold the commission described in the Danish Army.” [5]

The Prince of Wales at the time was Albert Edward, son of Queen Victoria and husband Prince Albert. He became King of England in 1901 and known as King Edward VII. It seems Americans have always been enamored with the British Royal Family.

The Scientific American reports of an interesting discovery abroad:

An Ancient Oven Containing Loaves
A correspondent of the London Atheneaum, writing from Naples, states that a bakers oven was lately discovered in Pompeii. He was present when the iron door of the oven was removed, and he says: “We were rewarded with the site of an entire batch of loaves which were deposited seventeen hundred and eighty three years ago! They are eighty-two in number, and are, as far as regards form, size, and and every characteristic except weight and color, precisely as they came from the bakers hand. They are circular, about 9 inches in diameter, rather flat and indented (evidently with the elbow) in the center; but they are slightly raised at the sides, and divided by deep lines, radiating from the center into fragments. They are of a deep brown color and hard, but exceedingly light.”

This of course is in reference to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and sudden destruction of the city of Pompeii in 79 AD.

They also offer a drawing of the following timely devise with attendant explanation of its workings. Patent for this was procured through The Scientific American Patent Agency, October 28, 1862 by Lewis Bunn.[6]


It amounted to nothing more than an icebox. Ice was placed in the box above the decedents head, which cooled the box and its contents. The bucket at left caught the water from the melting ice. The box was said to be airtight as possible, and the door on the right end could be opened to allow for viewing. It had a gasket made of either felt or India rubber and a strap was connected to it which passed over the chin of the dearly departed which helped keep the door closed.

And of course there was always:

News From The War.

This was the focal point of the Harper's Weekly centerpiece on June 14, 1862, although it is fitting for the entire war. As for December, the Battle of Fredericksburg was fought, and the true picture of it was beginning to become clearer as late December papers were going to press. The Battles of Stones River and Chickasaw Bayou occurred to late for them to be reported by any save the largest daily newspapers and then only sketchily at best.

It is good to remember other things were happening between 1861 and 1865.

The Picket

1- New York Daily Tribune, December 2, 1862 page 3 from Library of Congress, Chronicling America collection,
2- Memphis Daily Appeal, December 13, 1862, pp. 1 and 2 from Library of Congress, Chronicling America collection,
3-Saint Cloud Democrat- December 18, 1862, page 1, from Library of Congress, Chronicling America collection,
4-Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, December 27, 1862, page 215 from Internet Archives at
5- Harper's Weekly, December 6, 1862, pages 779 and 781. from Internet Archives at and
6- The Scientific American, Volume VII, Number 23, December 6, 1862, pages 360 and 362. from Internet Archives at
News From The War, Harper’s Weekly, June 14, 1862, drawn by Winslow Homer. From Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs online catalog,

Monday, December 17, 2012

First Anniversary

This day in History- The blog “The Picket” came into being.

Yes, loyal reader, one year ago today, I launched this blog. Starting out with trying to come up with a title for it, then posting my first story, and on through the year, it has been quite a pleasure bringing some of the old stories to light. I hope those of you that stop in from time to time have enjoyed the content delivered to you.

Beginning today, as you may have noticed, The Picket has a new name, sort of. I decided to incorporate the blog description into the name, and I changed the description to better match the mission of the blog. I have been toying with the idea for several months and decided to do it now. I am hoping it will help it show up better in general searches. At least get it away from picket fences and Shepherd University's blog also called the Picket. I suppose I should have researched the Web before settling on a name. Generally speaking though, it will always be The Picket!

I would like to share some accomplishments from the year that make this effort worthwhile to me. I am proud of my work here and it does not hurt to “toot my own horn” once in a while although it rarely happens. It is my anniversary after all. So here is my year in a rather large nutshell!
As of today:
The Picket has had 62 posts added to it not including this one. That is not bad for an amateur do you think? Although my unstated goal was to have 100 posts up, I am not disappointed to terribly. 100 is a reasonable target and it gives me incentive to try a little harder for the coming year!
It has had 732 visits prior to this post. The best month was August 2012 with 109 visits. Again I am not to disappointed. I had hoped for 1,000 visits over the year, but I look at it as another reason to try harder. Eventually the readership will grow and I will have more views than I can count?
The Picket has had 194 page views. This number is based on each time a post has been viewed as an individual page. I tend to look at it the most. It lets me know with a reasonable amount of certainty that a real human being has been here and that I have not been invaded by web crawlers and nuisance sites. I must admit I am disappointed in this number. I had hoped to show up in the search engines a little more often. But that will also come in time.
My top page view earner was “A Small Thing But...” posted on January 21, 2012, the story of how the twist drill aided the Confederacy in constructing the ironclad CSS Albemarle.
Google is the top referring site, and Civil War Saga (a great blog!) is the top URL that sends readers my way.
My page background
I have gained two Followers. A little disappointing, but more will come eventually. I hope anyway! This only reflects the Google followers. I think I have a couple of people following by email also.
The Picket appears on one blog roll. Thanks Meg Thompson! (First Fallen: The Life and Times of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth) More will follow someday, when more bloggers actually find me. I do not ask to be on other lists. I feel I need to earn a spot on them. I won't be mad if someone suggests this blog to other bloggers, or shares it to Facebook, a favorite forum, Tweets, Stumbles, Diggs, Pins, or whatever social network you engage in, feel free! (Yes, that is a hint!) That way others can make a judgment as to this blogs worth and include it on their blog rolls if they feel it has enough quality content. Just make sure you think it is worth mentioning before you share it.

My first post was “Forgotten” posted December 17, 2011. It tells of a group of unknown Confederate soldiers buried in a small cemetery in Southern Indiana.
My favorite post did not see the light of day as far as page views. Someone may have seen it, but it did not show up in the search engines to be read as its own page. Titled “Not So Friendly Fire” it was posted June 23, 2012, and highlights the “battle” of Columbus, Ohio. Men of the Ninth Corps were passing through Columbus while transferring to the west in 1863, and clashed with the very raw soldiers of the 115th Ohio Infantry who were on Provost Guard duty there. Shots were fired and men died in a truly senseless episode that many may have never heard of. That post was a true accident as far as writing it went. I had been researching something else when I found a soldiers death listed as “Murdered in Columbus Ohio”. Further digging produced the story.
So there you have it. A year in the life of one blog; my blog, The Picket. The only real disappointment I have is that I did not start sooner! I have enjoyed it as it couples my love of writing with my love of history, in particular the American Civil War era.
My mission for the coming year will be more of the same. I will strive to improve both the content and my writing. I will need your feedback from time to time though. Tell me how I am doing! Good, bad, or indifferent, another opinion can only help me improve. Suggestions for stories are welcome also!
Here comes YEAR 2 and maybe this will be the year I get discovered! (I can dream can't I?)
Lord willing there will be more years to follow!

And thanks for stopping by!

The Picket

Army of the Potomac. Our Outlying Pickets in the Woods” Winslow Homer

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Bleak Winter: 1862-1863

The Twenty-seventh Indiana infantry perhaps gets lost in the shuffle of hard fighting regiments of the civil war. Formed in July and August of 1861, these men came mostly from the south central section of the state, representing eight different counties. (Putnam and Daviess counties each contributed two companies.) By December of 1862 the had proven there mettle in the Valley at Cedarville and Winchester, and in Maryland at Antietam. At the time of the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, the Twenty-seventh was just beginning to move toward the main body of the Army of the Potomac from the upper Potomac. As part of the Third Brigade, First Division, Twelfth Army Corps, they were picketing the river after the battle at Antietam between Williamsport and the mouth of the Antietam below Sharpsburg.[1]
Thirty-four years after the war, Edmund R. Brown wrote the history of the Twenty-seventh. He tells the reader that the regiment had missed the the bloody repulse at Fredericksburg and the feeling of the men at the time:

The same day we had started from Dam Number Four, our comrades at the front had dutifully moved out to assail the impregnable positions of the enemy about Fredericksburg. As we had journeyed laboriously along, making our tiresome marches, they had been fighting a hopeless, but heroic, battle. It was getting to be an old story, sickening its repetition, but we were forced to hear it once more: Our side had lost! This explained our current dillatoriness.” [2]

The Twenty-seventh had reached Fairfax Station by this time, and the Twelfth Corps was undergoing a series of forward motions, retreats, and full stops during the days following Fredericksburg. They would soon go into winter quarters there, to be rousted out by the second of Ambrose Burnside's winter campaigns; the Mud March. They would finally settle in for the winter, near Stafford Court House, not to be terribly disturbed until the Spring campaigning season.
Flag of the 27th Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry
The Winter of 1862-63 may have been the darkest for the Army of the Potomac during the whole of the war. Not only had Fredericksburg been devastating for much of the army, large portions (including the Twenty-seventh Indiana) had suffered through Pope's Virginia campaign and subsequent rout, Antietam, and earlier, the Seven Days down on the Virginia Peninsula. The army as a whole had been battered unmercifully with scarcely a regiment not experiencing some of the horrors. Add to that the dismissal of George McClellan, the favorite of the original Potomac troops, then prospects for a bright outcome were dim. The wet, cold winter weather did not help matters. It was during this winter that Brown in his history recalls the orders to guard against desertion.
For a while we had orders to shoot any person approaching the picket line from the inside [of the camp] without the countersign. And:

They were deserting at this time at the rate of nearly 300 a day.” [3]
Although Brown quickly points out that desertion was not much of a problem for the Hoosiers, he mentions the anti war sentiments, bordering on outright treason, contained in letters from home. He says these sentiments were “Wholly lost on the Twenty-seventh” and the men responded with letters of reply denouncing such rhetoric. [4]
Federal Soldiers under fire in the streets of Fredericksburg,
The Twenty-first Massachusetts was at Fredericksburg. They had very nearly been among the first troops to conduct an amphibious assault under fire on December 11, 1862. They, along with the 51st New York were ordered to use the pontoons for the bridges as boats, cross the river and clean out the Rebels that held the town. When they arrived at the riverbank, they were too late, as the 7th Michigan, 19th and 20th Massachusetts had already went across. The 21st and 51st returned to their camps. [5] They would have plenty to do in a couple of days though.
On the 13th, the Twenty-first watched as regiments of the Second Corps dashed themselves against Marye's Heights. Shortly after noon they would be ordered against the rebels on the same heights. They would reach a point about two hundred yards from the stone wall where they would shelter in a slight depression for the remainder of the day, unable to press the attack or retire without terrible casualties. It was here they were fired on by friendly troops. A raw regiment, the 163rd New York had crossed the same ground at a later time. Having been shaken by artillery and musketry from the Rebels, they began firing through the 21st Massachusetts. Only after bitter cursing from the Massachusetts men did they stop and the bulk hastily departed to the rear. A few would advance to the declivity and join the Twenty-first.[6] After dark they were relieved and returned to Fredericksburg, and would cross the Rappahannock on the 16th of December. They would leave behind 13 dead, 52 wounded and one captured. [7]
The Twenty-first Massachusetts would also soon go into winter quarters on the east bank of the Rappahannock River. They would be subject to Rebel incursions, rather visits, near Christmas. The author of the History of the Twenty-First Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers in the War for Preservation of the Union, Charles F. Walcott relates an interesting story. It seems that some Union soldiers had crossed the river to make merry the season with the rebels, at their invitation, on Christmas Eve. A few nights later a group of Rebels crossed the river, to make merry with their Yankee friends, again by invitation. They were arrested and made prisoners. When the true story behind the incursion came out, they were released and sent back to the Confederate lines. [8]
The Massachusetts men would also be involved in the Mud March, albeit indirectly. They, being a part of the Ninth Corps, would be part of a proposed attack on Marye's Height to keep part of Lee's army occupied while Burnside moved down the Rappahannock to attack Lee's left. The winter storm that blew through that area and gave the movement its sobriquet also canceled the proposed attack on the heights. [9]
The Mud March
The 21st (all of the 9th Corps) would remove from the Army of the Potomac in February. Walcott writes in a diary entry for February 25, 1863:
The corps seemed to enter on a new life since it left the jealousies and chilling influences of the Army of the Potomac, and we had a splendid review.” [10]
Part of those “jealousies and chilling influences” were no doubt the product of Ambrose Burnside, or rather his subordinates. He had written an order dismissing from the service several of the generals of the Army of the Potomac, “subject to the approval of the President of the United States.” Among them was his eventual replacement, Major General Joe Hooker, the commander of the Center Grand Division. Burnside charged him with being guilty of:
unjust and unnecessary criticisms of the actions of his superior officers, and of the authorities, and having, by the general tone of his conversation, endeavored to create distrust in the minds of officers who have associated with him, and having, by omissions and otherwise, made reports and statements which were calculated to create false impressions, and for habitually speaking in disparaging terms of other officers..., as a man unfit to hold a commission during a crisis like the present...” [11]

All told, this order, number 8, would request the dismissal of ten generals from brigade to corps level. The charges were much the same as those levied against Hooker, and in the estimation of Burnside, none were fit to hold command. The order was never officially issued since implementation was dependant on Lincolns approval, which he withheld. This order was presented to Lincoln in person by Burnside. In their meeting the general told the president that if the order was not approved, then the only option left was that he resign as commander of the army. On January 25, Burnside was relieved of command, “at his own request” and the same order elevated Hooker to the command of the Army of the Potomac. [12]
Yes, the winter of '62-'63 was bleak indeed for the Army of the Potomac. 1862 had definitely not been kind to them. From the top down. And 1863 was still unknown and yet to be reckoned with. 
The Picket

1- The Twenty-seventh Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Brown, Edmund Randolph, pages 273-274 retrieved from
2-Ibid page 282
3- Ibid, page 289
4- Ibid page 290
5- History of the Twenty-first Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers in the War for the Preservation of The Union, 1861-1865, Walcott, Charles F., page 238, retrieved from googlebooks,
6-Ibid, pages 241-244
7-Ibid, page 250
8-Ibid, pages 257-258
9- Ibid, pages 259-261
10-Ibid, page 263
11- War of the Rebellion, Records of the Union and Confederate Armies [O.R.] Series 1, Volume 21, Part 1, pages 998-999 retrieved from ehistory,
12-Ibid, pages 1004-1005
Photo credits

Our soldiers in streets of Fredericksburg” Alfred Waud drawing, appeared in Harpers Weekly, volume 7, number 291, January 3, 1863. from Library of Congress,

Winter Campaigning. The Army of the Potomac on the move.” Sketched near Falmouth, Virginia, January 21, 1863 by Alfred R. Waud. From Library of Congress,

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Neat Find

I found this little jewel while searching for the Compiled Service Records for Georgia Soldiers. Yes I know it has nothing to do with those men, but I did find it interesting and thought you might also.

This is from the Anti Slavery Alphabet, a small book intended to teach children the ABC's while informing them about slavery. It was written by Hannah and Mary Townsend of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and presented by them to the Female Anti Slavery Society of that city, to be used at a fund raising fair in December 1846.

Frankly, I can not comment much on this little work as I do not know enough about the abolition movement to make an informative post. I will say that as an educational device, it seems to be more advanced than a typical child of 5 or 6 could comprehend while trying to learn their letters. It is not written like the kindergarten or first grade spellers I remember. It goes way beyond A is for Apple and B is for Bird. The rest of the book can be found at the Mississippi Department of Archives & History at the link below.

This will take you straight to the book, but Adobe Flash v 10 player is recommended to view it. The following link will take you to the digital archives offered by the MDA&H.

The MDA&H also has on line Confederate pension records available for Mississippians as well as old photo collections and other documents. It offers the estate papers of Jefferson F. Davis, his last will and testament is written in his own hand.

The Mississippi archive website is one of the better ones I have encountered. It is easy to navigate and has a good selection of digitized material.

Now, where are those Georgians?

The Picket

Friday, December 7, 2012

Latest Blog Roll Additions

School is out! I will not return to class until early January so hopefully I will get some things accomplished here at The Picket.

With this post I am going to take care of updating my Blog Roll. This is something that I have overlooked far to long. You may have already noticed these additions but I would like to share my thoughts with you.

I would also like to point out that if a blog appears here I do read and enjoy it. Some of them I do “follow” if they have that application. However, I do not troll the Internet “following” blogs in order to draw traffic to mine. It is my way of letting them know their work is appreciated. Besides, not all blogs have the “follow” option. My blog roll is intended to showcase the talents of lesser known writers. Most of the blogs do not show up on any radar although a couple do appear on one or two other lists.

Now, the additions...

History by Zim- Beyond the Textbooks

This is not really a blog, but kinda sorta is. It is an eclectic mix of social, political, and military history. It mostly deals with United States History but it is not limited to this country. It is heavy with photographs which I find fascinating. I have always loved old photos especially clothing and machinery. You can also find old letters there, another thing I really enjoy. The compiler of this site is Jessica Zimmerman and she does a remarkable job of gathering all of this stuff to put into one place. The site is frequently updated so a daily peek at it will will not hurt. This is good place to start trips down memory lane or explore what was happening when your Dad was younger.

Zim also has a blog called “Zim's Ramblings” where she, as the title implies, rambles about things. It is not as frequent, but it is a fun read.

Our Country's Fiery Ordeal

Written by Dan Vermilya, this blog focuses on the Battle of Antietam, but has a good mix of content. Mr. Vermilya is a park ranger at the Antietam National Battlefield. He earned a Master of Arts Degree in American History. You can find book and movie reviews there from time to time as well as the main content relating to the American Civil War. He has posted things about U.S. Grant, Shiloh, and of course, Antietam.

This is not strictly a retelling of the battle, but also encompasses things that lead up to the battle away from the field, before and after the fact. It is well written and updated regularly, usually weekly. Bookmark it and enjoy!

Civil War Saga

Last but certainly not least is Civil War Saga brought to us by Rebekah Brooks. This one rapidly became my favorite. Ms. Brooks has recently focused her talents on civil war prisons and lady spies. I enjoy her writing style and the fact that she uses a “serial” method of posting the information. By that I mean she may write two or three posts on the same topic, then move to a different story. It allows the reader to keep up with the information. I have found that she never is truly finished with a subject. A topic might disappear for a while but will return later. It never gets dull that way! She writes with an easy to read style that gets the point across very well. To show the range of subjects she covers, Dinosaurs In Gettysburg, is an interesting read so click on this link or copy and paste it in your browser. This post actually cemented her position on my blog roll. The blog is not regularly updated and time between posts can be about 2 weeks. Sometimes she sneaks them in more frequently. The reason it takes so long I imagine is the fact she also produces two other blogs! (amazing) She is also a freelance writer so time may be at a premium for her. Nevertheless, it is well worth the wait. She also has a “Picture of the Day” gallery in the sidebar so you will always have a reason to visit!

Please check these blogs out, I am sure they would appreciate the visit!
And thanks for stopping by!

The Picket

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving- A work of Fiction

November 26, 1863

Dearest Carrie,

I take some time to write and inform you that I am well as are all of the boys from home.

No skirmishing today except between the graybacks and fleas. Harper and Boyd are after each other hammer and tong as well. It is hard to say which is worse. At least the boys draw little blood and usually retreat after a spell. I can't say the same of the vermin. They are always in line of battle, charging and pawing for the best patch of ground, moving to and fro across the field. Only a little water and fire, strategically applied, deters them. Their casualties mount and they beat a hasty retreat until the fire and water are removed. Then they are back, with reinforcements and renewed vigor. I tell you the field is tinged crimson in places.

Today we are observing the day of thanksgiving as called for by Mr. Lincoln. The camp is still, hushed. The boys speak only in quiet tones, and now Boyd and Harper are in retreat, a handshake seals their truce. It is not melancholy that produces the quiet, for a smile plays around the lips of each man. They are not broad, but faint little curls around the corners, and each eye holds a far off gaze with small embers of happiness being kindled there, produced by fond recollections of home. It all seems long ago now.

The supper fires are all going now, and the smiles the boys wear are broadening. The smell of bacon, beef, and biscuits waft across the camp. Rations are plentiful. We have all learned to cook for ourselves but it is a poor substitute for the feast prepared by the loving hands at home. At least we suffer no ill effect from it. My table will have food foraged from the country. Schneider brought in a dozen squirrels and Boyd claims to have shot the deer Harper brought in, who says otherwise. I being a corporal was called upon to settle the matter. After inspecting the carcass, three bullet holes were in evidence but the boys were to busy arguing to notice. I declared someone else had shot the deer, perhaps a Johnny Reb. They seemed a bit shaken by that prospect. Boyd and Harper in fact had shot it but only as the deer was about to lay down and die. They went along with the verdict. Since I was the judge presiding, I also declared that they should take part of the meat to your brother Jimmy's mess as “punishment” for disturbing our day of thanksgiving with their bickering. Boyd, ever the fractious one, huffily declared that we did not need all of it anyway! The mess rang with laughter, including Boyds! The punishment benefited our mess as Jimmy sent back some tobacco, canned peaches, and an apple pie he had procured from a Secessh house. I felt bad for that household but I know Jimmy. He would not have left that family destitute. We ate our fill, and the boys are resting now. Boyd and Harper are still honoring their truce, and the company is content. All remains quiet. Our smiles continue but the fires in our eyes, once blazing, now burn low. The far away countenance resumes its place on each face. No, it is not sadness that places it there. Each man is lost in his own memory and contemplating what they are thankful for. And they are homesick, as I am homesick. We all long for the day peace is restored and we can return home but not a man in the company is willing to return until their duty is fully performed.

I must tell you what I am thankful for before I close. I am thankful for you, dear wife, and the home you keep ready for my return. I am thankful that you are in fine health and spirits which bodes well for our child you now carry inside you. I am thankful for the innumerable blessings that God has bestowed on us, a Kind Providence has seen fit to keep me this side of the sod, and has favored me with good health. His mercy has kept most of the boys in the company in the same order. We do mourn the loss of a few comrades but trust in His wisdom about such affairs. The assurance of His salvation and the abiding knowledge that those gone from us will rise at the final trumpets call is something we are all thankful for. I am most thankful to The Most High that holds the future in His hands and in His infinite wisdom and mercy we will all return home soon.

I must close now. It is nearing evening and the company has been assigned picket duty and I must see to details. Do not fret about your husband or your brother. We are watching out for each other. The skirmishing has broken out again but not in our front. I think the fleas are mounting a counter attack. Write soon.
Your faithful Husband,

Thanksgiving Day, 1863, probably did not produce many letters like this. The armies in the east and the west were rather busy for so late in the year. Grant and Sherman had their hands full just prior to November 26 while fighting Bragg in Tennessee at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge and then pursuing him into Georgia. Burnside was also having difficulty with Longstreet at Knoxville. In the east, Mead was involved in crossing the Rapidan River and kicking off the Mine Run campaign.
It is unlikely that very many soldiers in the primary theaters of the war would have had time to “observe a day of thanksgiving as called for by Mr. Lincoln.” It is possible they mentioned the day, in passing, in letters home or in their diaries. This letter is a simple flight of my own fancy. It combines the staple fare of a typical soldier letter home: camp life, thoughts of home, family, and duty to the country. Thanksgiving days were common in the United States from its very beginning. The soldiers would have had fond memories of those days to reflect upon. Since many of them had never been more than a few miles from home, it strikes me that a national Thanksgiving Day in camp would evoke a lot of emotion, reflection, and produce the “faint smile” and “far away gaze”. It has been the same all throughout our history. Men and women have been far from home serving the country we all love. For those men and women past, present, and future I am thankful.
For the Most High God and the assurance of his salvation I am, above all things, truly thankful.
I hope you enjoyed my letter even if it might not be totally accurate historically. I also hope it reminds you to be thankful today and every day.

Thanks for stopping by! I am always thankful for that!

The Picket