Thursday, August 9, 2018

An Officer, A Gentleman and an Ornament to His Country: The Life of Benjamin Franklin Davis, Part IV

On August 31, 1862 Colonel Davis would get instructions from Henry M. Binney, Aide-de-Camp to Colonel Dixon S. Miles, commanding the garrison at Harpers Ferry to "take post at Summit Point on the Winchester (and Potomac) Railroad, with your regiment"... protect the railroad and "closely watch the operations of  an active partisan group" the 12th Virginia Cavalry. Norton notes the 8th New York was "sent up the Shenandoah River scouting about every day to Charlestown and Shepherdstown, to ascertain the whereabouts of the rebel cavalry.  He also mentions  "we had not been there (Harpers Ferry) long before we found out we were surrounded by rebels."

When General Lee invaded Maryland in September 1862 he had expected the federal garrisons at Harpers Ferry and Martinsburg would evacuate.  When they did not Lee sent Major General Thomas J. Jackson with about two-thirds of his army to either capture the garrisons or force their evacuation.  Jackson left Frederick, Maryland September 10 and by the 13th he had Harpers Ferry surrounded.  Maryland Heights fell on the 13th and confederate artillery began shelling the town on the 14th.  It was inevitable the garrison would have to surrender.

 According to Ezra A. Carmen in The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Volume I, South Mountain  page 255, "During the afternoon of September 13 Colonel B. F. Davis, 8th New York Cavalry and Lieutenant Colonel  Hasbrouck Davis 12th Illinois Cavalry, waited upon General White...and suggested that as the cavalry was of no use there and forage short, it cut its way out, as if obliged to surrender, the horses and equipment would be a great prize to the enemy, and that an effort to reach McClellan ought to be made.  That evening a conference of all the cavalry commanders was held at Miles' headquarters, and Miles agreed they could consult and propose means of getting out." Purportedly there were sharp words between Grimes Davis and Dixon Miles, at the meeting, before the latter reluctantly gave his permission for the cavalry to attempt the breakout.  

Miles's Aide-de-Camp Lt. Reynolds drafted Special Order #120 on September 14, 1862 which stated:  "The cavalry force at this post, except detached orderlies, will make immediate preparations to leave here at eight o'clock tonight, without baggage wagons, ambulances or led horses, crossing the Potomac over the pontoon bridge, and taking the Sharpsburg Road.  The senior officer, Colonel Voss, will assume command of the whole, which will form the right at the quartermaster's office, the left up Shenandoah Street, without noise or loud command, in the following order: Cole's Cavalry, 12th Illinois Cavalry, 8th New York Cavalry, 7th Squadron Rhode Island Cavalry and the 1st Maryland Cavalry.  No other instructions can be given to the commander than to force his way through the enemy's lines and join our own army."  

Around 8:00 p.m. on the 14th about 1,500 cavalry composed of Companies H & I, 1st Maryland Cavalry, the 7th Squadron Rhode Island Cavalry, Cole's 1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry, Samuel Means Loudoun Rangers, the 12th Illinois and the 8 New York led by local guide Hanson T. C. Green and scout Thomas Noakes left the ferry via the pontoon bridge that spanned the Potomac to the base of Maryland Heights.  The guide and scout would lead the cavalry men along the existing roads and through various farm fields and pastures to Antietam Iron Works at the confluence of the Potomac River and Antietam Creek, then on to Sharpsburg, where they would rest for a while and regroup before heading northwestward on the Mercerville road.  According to Carmen, "once on the (Mercersville) Road they broke into a brisk trot, went through New Industry and Mercersville, traversing hills and ravines, through cornfields and meadows, over fences and water cources, with an occasional halt to breath the horses.  Before daylight the column came out near St. James College then continued northward entering the woods, "skirting the turnpike from Hagerstown to Williamsport.  About two and one half miles from Williamsport the low, rumbling sound of heavy carriage wheels was heard."  The command decided to surprise and capture the wagon train.  "The 8th New York and 12th Illinois were formed in line near the turnpike, the Maryland and Rhode Island Cavalry in Reserve, while Colonel B. F. Davis with a squadron of the 8th New York quietly advanced and took possession of the turnpike to interrupt the passage of the train to Williamsport."  In so doing a number of the wagons from Major General James Longstreet's ordinance train were captured and taken to Greencastle, Pennsylvania with the Union Cavalry column.  

Colonel Davis and the 8th New York did not have much time to rest at Greencastle, Pennsylvania following the arduous escape from Harpers Ferry.  Late on September 15, Davis was ordered by Major General MacClellan to retrace his steps to Jones' Cross Roads, at the intersection of the Keedysville - Williamsport Road four miles north of Sharpsburg, and join the 15th Pennsylvania cavalry there.  Davis and the 8th New York would stay around the Hagerstown area for much of the time until they crossed the Potomac at Berlin, Maryland on October 26 and joined the rest of the army of the Potomac in Virginia.  Colonel Davis would command the 5th Brigade, consisting on the 8th New York and the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry of Alfred Pleasonton's Division from September thru part of November 1862.

 Although the historical records are considerably muddled regarding who was responsible for coming up with the idea the Union Cavalry should try to escape Harpers Ferry, before the town surrendered, most of the credit has been given to Colonel Benjamin F. Davis for originating the idea and helping ensure the endeavor was a success.  I would suspect however, the idea was on the minds of most if not all of the cavalry officers and troopers present at Harpers Ferry even though they do not get much credit for it.

In the Records of the Harpers Ferry Military Commission which are part of Volume 19, Part I of the Official Records Henry Binney statement under oath supports the contention the idea for the cavalry to attempt an escape from originated with Colonel B. F. Davis.  Binney testified,  "On Sunday night (September 14) Colonel Davis of the Eighth New York Cavalry, came down  and represented that the cavalry was of no use there, and if we were obliged to surrender the place eventually they would be as great a prize as the enemy could get.  Furthermore, that we had no forage for the horses ... and that he desired the privilege of cutting his way out.  Colonel Miles then issued an order, or sent his orderlies  to the commanders of cavalry to meet at his office that evening.  They met at 7:00 or 7:30."  After considerable discussion a route was selected and Colonel Miles issued Special Orders #120.

A telegram George McClellan sent to Henry Halleck on September 23, 1862 adds credence to the supposition the idea to escape and the success of the venture rested squarely on the shoulder of Benjamin F. Davis.  The telegram stated: "The conspicuous conduct of Captain B. F. Davis 1st cavalry in the management of the withdrawal of the cavalry from Harpers Ferry at the surrender of that place merits the special notice of the government.  I recommend him for the brevet of major."

Many army officers who were contemporaries of Davis, also gave him credit for successfully leading the escape and called him the hero of Harpers Ferry. Since there is no evidence Colonel Davis himself ever wrote or spoke about the incident, that we know of, we may never know all the facts.  He certainly deserved some recognition but not all of it in deference to his fellow officers, scouts, guides and cavaliers.

To be continued.

Monday, August 6, 2018

An Officer, A Gentleman and an Ornament to His Country: The Life of Benjamin Franklin Davis, Part III

Captain Benjamin F. Davis would arrive at Camp Sprague near Washington, D.C. and join Company K, 1st U. S. Cavalry on January 18, 1862.  Eight companies of the 1st Cavalry, including K, would remain at Camp Sprague engaging in drilling, camp and garrison duties as well as serving as escorts, couriers and pickets, in the defense of Washington, until March 10, 1862 when they would depart for Alexandria, Virginia to join the Army of the Potomac.  They would be brigaded with the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry and the McClellan Dragoons commanded by Charles Barker to form Colonel George A. H. Blake's 2nd Brigade, Cavalry Reserve.

Blake's command left Alexandria, Virginia March 29, 1862, embarking on schooners in route to Hampton, Virginia, arriving there April 3rd.  On April 4th they were camped on the Kentucky Farm.  The command left the Kentucky Farm April 11 and arrived at a new camp near Ship Point on the Chesapeake Bay the same day.  The Union Army would use Ship Point as a point of debarkation, a hospital and a supply depot during part of the Peninsula Campaign.  Blake's Brigade left their bivouac near Ship Point April 24 heading to Camp Winfield Scott near Yorktown, Virginia.

Camp Winfield Scott was about a mile and a half from Yorktown.  Theophilus Rodenbough notes in From Everglades to Canyon with the Second United States Cavalry: the camp was "in a large open plain, surrounded by trees, the sun has a good chance at us.  The location is a very fine one, far superior to our last one, some eight miles back, where we lived in mud literally fifteen inches deep, and drowned out every other day."  Major General McClellan was attempting to defeat the rebels at Yorktown by siege, however the Confederates thwarted his plans when they evacuated their camp on the night of May 3rd, 1862.

The May returns for the 1st U. S. Cavalry state the regiment left camp on Cheeseman's Creek, about six miles southeast of Yorktown, on Sunday May 4th.  They were engaged, along with the 6th U. S. Cavalry and Captain Horatio Gibson's Light Company C 3rd U. S. Artillery et al, as the advance guard of the Army of the Potomac, against the rebels on both May 4th and 5th near Williamsburg, Virginia.  On May 4th Brigadier General George Stoneman directed his two reserve cavalry brigades to harass the rear of the retreating Confederates.  Emory became engages with Stuart's cavalry while Blake's command, which included the 1st U. S. Cavalry, followed the rebels in the direction of Fort Magruder.  While Blake skirmished  and maneuvered to assault the Confederates they attacked his cavalry and Gibson's battery. Captain Benjamin Davis commanded a squadron of about 60 men who were part of the rear guard as the 1st U. S. Cavalry and Gibson's Battery retired from the field late in the day.  According to Brigadier General Philip St. George Cooke's official report while the 1st Cavalry was retiring with it's last squadron (Davis's) at a walk, and carrying off the wounded they were "charged in the narrow road by a superior force of the enemy's cavalry.  Captain Davis, wheeling about by fours, met and with great gallantry (handsomely) repulsed them" driving them back in confusion which protected the artillery battery and the wounded. Davis's command captured a rebel standard and suffered 13 casualties.  Captain Davis would be recommended for a brevet promotion two different times for leading the gallant charge at Williamsburg, the first time by Philip Cooke on June 20, 1862 and the second time by Edwin M. Stanton, February 23, 1863 however, neither would be conferred.

On May 6th Captain Davis and the rest of the 1st U. S. Cavalry would be camped near Williamsburg. They left the Williamsburg area on May 11th and camped near West Point, Virginia.  On the 13th the regiment advanced to New Kent Courthouse.  They were at St. Peters Church by the 18th before moving to Tunstall's Station on the Richmond and York River Railroad 18 miles from Richmond by the May 20th.  On May 23rd the regiment would be camped 7 miles from Richmond.  On May 31 they relocated their camp near Walnut Grove, nine miles from Richmond.

The 1st U. S. Cavalry would remain at their camp 9 miles from Richmond for most of the month of June 1862.  On June 13 they left camp in pursuit of Stuart's Cavalry who had been causing depredation at Garlick's Landing on the Pamunkey and Tunstall's Station during his ride around McClellan's Army.  They were back in camp by the 15th.  Later in the month 4 companies of the 1st cavalry were engaged at the Battle of Gaines Mill. 

 It is unclear if Captain Davis was with his regiment during this time.  The June returns indicate Company K might have been on detached service at Fort Monroe.   The returns also indicate Davis was on leave as of June 25, 1862 as per Order #141, Army of the Potomac dated June 15 and a Special Order of the War Department dated June 17.  What is known is that on June 7, 1862 Captain Davis was commissioned Colonel of Volunteers by the governor of New York, to date from June 6, and assigned to command the 8th New York Volunteer Cavalry.  He was unable to report to duty with his new command immediately however, as on June 30, 1862 W. K. Barnes of the Surgeon General's Office, Washington D.C., noted Davis was confined to his bed, with a febrile (fever) attack, at Willards Hotel. 

July 1862 would find Colonel B. F. Davis at Relay House, Maryland, near Baltimore, commanding the 8th New York Volunteer Cavalry.  He had been mustered in as the units colonel July 11, 1862 to date from June, 25th.  The 8th New York had been organized on November 14, 1861.  They left New York for Washington D.C., November 29.  The regiment, which was not mounted and equipped as cavalry until July 1862, served in the defenses of Washington until March 9, 1862.    Between March 9 and April 6th they were guarding the Potomac River and the C & O Canal between Edwards Ferry and Point of Rocks.  On April 6th they moved to Harpers Ferry where they were assigned to guard the railroad between Harpers Ferry and Winchester, Virginia.  On June 23, 1862 they were ordered to Relay House to meet their new colonel and finally get outfitted as a mounted unit.

Colonel Davis would spend July and most of August drilling the 8th New York Cavalry into an elite fighting unit.  He had been commissioned their colonel at the request of their officers and upon the recommendation of George Stoneman.    Henry Norton described Davis in Deeds of Daring or History of the Eighth New York Cavalry: "He was a military man clear through, the right man in the right place. He was a strict disciplinarian and brought the regiment down under the regular army regulations.  Some of the boys thought he was to severe with them.  They said no man could bring a volunteer under regular army style with success.  Previous to Davis taking command the boys were put in the guard house for punishment.  That suited them too well.  Colonel Davis's mode of punishment was to make the soldier carry a rail on his shoulder and walk a ring until he gave orders for him to stop."  Norton also noted Davis was quite a smoker.  "He had an old clay pipe and when he got engaged he would keep it in his mouth for an hour after it was smoked out."

Another member of the 8th New York described Davis in a July 21, 1862 letter to the governor of New York:  "As I stepped to the door of my quarters...and looked out this moment on the busy scene of work and drill in camp—two acres swept like a floor—all filth and garbage removed; tents open, clean and aired; officers hard at work in drill; the men busy, orderly and cheerful—I thought of you and intrude upon your time... just to express to you our sense of obligation for the commission to Col. Davis.  The bearing of our Colonel among us has given us a lofty example of the hard-working soldier and of the man of honor, at home in his work, quiet, thoughtful, cheerful, of few words, and, like the weight and pendulum of a clock, in ceaseless and noiseless influence on all the wheels. His quarters and their furnishings are as plain as those of any of his officers; that is, as plain as plain can be, and no one rises in the morning and finds him abed. That he means to do his duty is evident, and no one is left in doubt that he expects the rest of us to do ours. He had no favors to ask for himself. That is both evident and striking. I dare say your Excellency will recognize that as a peculiarity; but it is also the secret of true dignity and freedom."
The 8th New York Cavalry would get their horses and accouterments on July 8 and July 20, 1862.  Norton noted the regiment drilled every day until late August.  On August 28, Colonel Davis would be ordered by Major General John Wool to have his "regiment ready to start for Harpers Ferry by Saturday at the latest."  Davis and the 8th New York left Relay House for Harpers Ferry on the 29th by railroad, arriving there on August 30, 1862.  Little did they know that in about 2 weeks time, after arriving at the ferry, they would have a date with destiny on account of their colonel.

To be continued. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

An Officer, a Gentleman and an Ornament to his Country: The Life of Benjamin Franklin Davis, Part II

 Fort Tejon was established near Tejon Pass at the head of the San Joaquin Valley in California in August 1854.   In December 1856 the fort became the headquarters of the 1st U. S. Dragoons.  Companies H & I were at Fort Tejon while Companies B, D, G and K remained at Camp Moore.  By 1858 the post was commanded by Major George A. H. Blake, 1st Dragoons.

2nd Lt. B. F. Davis arrived at Fort Tejon on July 7, 1858 along with his commanding officer Captain John W. Davidson and Albert B. Chapman of Company K.  Davis immediately took on new duties at the fort as he began serving as the posts Acting Assistant Quartermaster (AAQM) and Acting Assistant Commissary of Subsistence (AACS).   He would continue these duties until December 1858. He also spent some time on detached service and in command of Company B, 1st Dragoons.

Benjamin Davis spent the first several months of 1859 at Fort Tejon.  On the May returns he was reported as being on detached service in San Francisco since May 2nd.  In June he was again absent from the fort conducting recruits to Fort Crook as per Special Order #56,  Department of California dated June 15, 1859.  Fort Crook, named after 1st Lieutenant George Crook, 4th U. S. Infantry, was located on the north bank of the Falls River in Shasta County, California near the present town of Falls River Mills.  It was established in 1857 to protect settlers from the hostile Indians.  In August 1859 Davis was still on detached service, this time on the Colorado River.  He left Fort Tejon on August 12 and did not return until September 29.  By December 27, 1859 Davis was again on detached service at Los Angeles.

1st Lt. Benjamin Davis left Fort Tejon January 19, 1860 for Fort Yuma where he was a member of a general court martial.  He returned to Fort Tejon February 27.  Fort Yuma was established in 1848 in what is now Imperial County, California across the Colorado River from Yuma, New Mexico Territory (now Arizona).  By 1858 The Butterfield Overland Mail had a station near the fort.  In March 1860 Company B, 1st Dragoons was temporarily under the command of Milton T. Carr a West Point classmate of Benjamin Davis.  Both Carr and Davis left Fort Tejon in mid April for the Mojave River.  They were probably part of Brevet Major James H. Carletons Pah-Ute Campaign against the Southern Paiutes and the Chemehuevis Indians who had been attacking wagon trains on the Mojave Road which linked Southern California to Beale's Wagon Road and the Santa Fe Trail. On April 18, 1860 Companies B & K of the 1st Dragoons were  engaged near Camp Cady on the Mojave River in Arizona.  Both Carleton and Carr were back at Fort Tejon by July 9.  Davis probably returned at the same time.

The July returns for Fort Tejon show 2nd Lt. Benjamin F. Davis being promoted to 1st lieutenant, after almost five years as a 2nd lieutenant, and transferred from Company B, to Company K, 1st Dragoons.  Post records do not show the promotion date however Davis's service records indicate the  promotion occurred on January 9, 1860.  On July 18, 1860 1st Lieutenant Davis will apply for and receive 60 days leave of absence, the first extended leave he appears to have taken since joining the 5th U. S. Infantry in Texas in December 1854.  By early October Benjamin will be back at Fort Tejon where he again will serve as the AAQM and Acting Commissary of Subsistence (ACS) of the post.  He will continue these duties until June 20, 1861.

First Lieutenant Grimes Davis spent the first four months of 1861 at Fort Tejon.  On May 3, 1861 he was ordered to Los Angeles on detached service.  He left Fort Tejon May 11.  As noted on pages 55-58 of "Los Angeles in the Civil War, 1860 to 1865":  "On May 14 Major James Henry Carleton and 50 mounted troopers from Company K, 1st Dragoons, from Fort Tejon, trotted into Los Angeles, to the immense relief of Captain (Winfield Scott) Hancock (the Army's lone officer in town) and the Union sympathizers.  A few days later they were joined by cavalry from Fort Mojave and the immediate danger of insurrection in Los Angeles was over.  The soldiers set up camp on the southern outskirts of town in view of Hancock's Quartermaster buildings.  The new encampment was named Camp Fitzgerald."

 June finds Lt. Davis at Camp Fitzgerald.  He would remain here for several months commanding the 1st Dragoon Band and serving as the camp adjutant.  Camp Fitzgerald was garrisoned by a little over 300 soldiers belonging to Companies B & K of the 1st Dragoons and Companies F & I of the 6th U. S. Infantry.

On July 30, 1861 1st Lt. Benjamin F. Davis was promoted to Captain 1st U. S. Dragoons which was renamed the 1st U. S. Cavalry on August 3.  He  stayed at Camp Fitzgerald until mid August.  The camp returns for the month note he is on detached service per a telegraph dispatch from San Francisco dated August 15, 1861.  The young officer would leave Camp Fitzgerald August 17, 1861 to take command of the 1st Battalion (5 companies) 1st California Volunteer Cavalry.

When the Civil War started California was asked to provide a regiment of infantry and 5 companies of cavalry to help guard the overland mail route between Carson City (Nevada) and Fort Laramie (Wyoming).  Suitable officers had to be found to organize and train the raw recruits.  Brigadier General Edwin V. Sumner commander of the Department of the Pacific was coordinating with John G. Downey California's governor to find officers for the California volunteers.  In correspondence to Lorenzo Thomas, Adjutant General, Washington DC dated August 22, 1861 Sumner wrote:  "General in raising the volunteers for this state, I find it indispensably necessary, for economy as well as efficiency to have a cavalry officer of experience and ability to command the five companies of cavalry.  There was no suitable man to be found outside of the Army, and at my request the governor of California has given the commission of Lt. Colonel to Lt. B. F. Davis of the 1st Dragoons.  I have known this young officer since he entered the army and I know him to be one of the best officers in it.  He is from the south but a firm loyalist to the government.  I would respectfully ask the sanction of the war department to this appointment."

Benjamin F. Davis was commissioned  Lt. Colonel of Volunteers August 19, 1861 to date from August 6, 1861.  In an August 29 letter Colonel James H. Carleton wrote "by authority of the general commanding the Dept. of the Pacific Lt. Col. B. F. Davis is designated as mustering officer for the 1st Cavalry and 1st Infantry now camped at Contra Costa, (County) California".  It would be Davis's responsibility not only to muster in the volunteer cavalry but also to drill and discipline the raw recruits and make them an effective fighting force.

The volunteers who would make up the five companies of the 1st California Volunteer Cavalry rendezvoused at Camp Merchant near Lake Merritt Oakland, California in August 1861.  They would receive barely a month's training before being mustered into federal service and ordered to Southern California.  On September 14, 1861 Richard C Drum, AAG wrote Special Order #172, Department of the Pacific directing Colonel James H. Carleton to take the 1st California Infantry and Cavalry to Los Angeles.  The horses of the battalion of cavalry were to be left in San Francisco.  The cavalry would be remounted at Los Angeles.  The quartermaster was to procure the necessary transportation by water to San Pedro.

The California Volunteer Cavalry and Infantry arrived at the port of San Pedro on  September 19 and 20th.  They disembarked and marched approximately 18 miles northward where they established a camp   near Bollona Creek christened Camp Latham.  Three companies of cavalry remained at Camp Latham with the 1st California Infantry while the other two were sent to Camp Carleton near San Bernardino.  The recruits training would continue in southern California.

 On October 13, 1861 Lt. Col. Davis wrote a letter from Camp Latham applying for a seven day leave of absence with permission to visit San Francisco.  He noted in the letter "I have given the colonel commanding verbally my reasons for deserving this indulgence".  His leave was approved and Davis departed Camp Latham on October 15.  It is unknown if the request was related to business or pleasure or both however my supposition is he was primarily seeking permission from headquarters to return east with the 1st U. S. Cavalry Regiment.   After Davis arrived in San Francisco he applied for an additional ten days of leave on October 19.  Then in a letter dated October 29, 1861 he resigned his commission as Lt. Colonel of the 1st California Volunteer Cavalry.  The resignation was accepted  October 30, 1861 by Headquarters Dept. of the Pacific who subsequently drafted the following Special Order # 205: "Captain B. F. Davis, 1st Cavalry, having tendered his resignation as lieutenant-colonel of cavalry, California volunteers, will join his company at San Pedro in time to embark with the same on the steamer leaving this port on the 1st proximo".  All the regular army regiments except 4 artillery batteries had been ordered east.  Captain B. F. Davis would leave the port of San Pedro, California November 1st, aboard the wooden side-wheel Steamer S. S. Golden Gate, cross the Isthmus of Panama, by train, board another ship headed for New York and finally arrive in Washington City, DC by early January 1862.

To be continued.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

An Officer, a Gentleman and an Ornament to his Country: The Life of Benjamin Franklin Davis

When Brigadier General John Buford wrote his official report on the Battle of Brandy Station near Warrenton Junction, Virginia on June 13, 1863 he noted: "This woods were dearly bought, for among the noble and brave ones who fell was Colonel B. F. Davis, 8th New York Cavalry.  He died in the front giving example of heroism and courage to all who were to follow.  He was a thorough soldier, free from politics and intrigue.  A patriot in the true sense, an ornament to his country and a bright star in his profession."  Who is this man who elicited such glowing comments from the well respected cavalier John Buford who would follow Davis to the cemetery at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point after his own untimely death on December 16, 1863.  Very little is known about him but he deserves to be remembered.  I will try and do that in this short essay.

Benjamin Franklin Davis was born in Perry County, Alabama on or about October 24, 1831.  He was the eldest of six sons born to Benjamin E. Davis and his wife Matilda Holladay Davis between 1831 and 1840.  Little is known about Benjamin E. Davis except for the marriage records showing either his marriage to Matilda E. Holladay or the issuance of a marriage license on January 1, 1831;  his purchase of 79.81 acres of government land in the E2NW4 Section 17 T. 18 N., R. 8 E., in Perry County on November 14, 1833 and a reference in the 1840 Perry County Census showing Benjamin E.,  as being between 30 and 39 with a wife age 20 to 29, 3 sons age 5 to 9 and 3 sons under age 5.  The census also indicated the elder Davis owned 5 slaves.

Matilda E. Holladay Davis was born in Wilkes County, Georgia before 1813.  She was one of 11 children (8 girls and 3 boys) born to Captain Benjamin W. Holladay and his wife Elizabeth Cook Jones Holladay.  Captain Benjamin W. Holladay was born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia in April 1777.  He was the son of John M. Holladay III who served as a private in the 10th Virginia Regiment of Foot in the Continental Army.  John M. Holladay III was the great grandson of Thomas Holladay a native of  Middlesex, England who came to the colonies with some of the early arrivals and settled in Virginia.

Sometime after the completion of the Perry County Census in late 1840 Matilda and Benjamin E. Davis and their six sons moved to Union Parish, Louisiana.  Matilda died of unknown causes in early 1843.  Benjamin E. Davis passes away on or about June 26, 1846.   All six sons, including Benjamin, became wards of Walter Taylor the husbands of Matilda's sisters Agnes. Very little is known about the life of Benjamin F. Davis and his five brothers from 1840 until they reappear in court records in 1846 & 1847, correspondence in 1849 and Monroe County, Mississippi Census records in 1850.  Benjamin Davis did enlist as a private in Company E, Anderson's Mississippi Rifles, commanded by Lt. Colonel James Patton Anderson on December 23, 1847, at Aberdeen, when he was sixteen years old.  The rifles were stationed at Tampico.   He mustered out with the unit on June 28, 1848 at Vicksburg.   In 1850 William O. Davis age 17, Frances Marion Davis age 13 and Augustus R. Davis age 11 reside with William Taylor.  Thomas J . Davis age 16 lives with Wiley and Nancy Howell.  It is not know who Christopher Columbus Davis, age 10 lived with in 1850.

 In 1849 Benjamin F. Davis was seeking an appointment to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.  A number of his friends and relatives wrote letters to the local congressman W. S. Featherston supporting his application. E. Abbott, a friend of Benjamin Davis had this to say in his December 28, 1849 letter to Featherston: "Mr. Davis is 18 years of age, 5' 9 or 10 inches high, and will weigh about 130 pounds, a fine looking fellow.  Mr. Davis served in the battalion from this state at Tampico in the Mexican War and is one of it's best soldiers.  He is the grandson of B. W. Holliday 6 miles from Aberdeen on the Columbia Stage Road.  Mr. Davis has lost both father & mother and has 5 brothers all fine strong well behaved boys."  In another letter  Davis's uncle John Abbott wrote Featherston on December 26, 1849: "Permit me to ask a favor of you, my nephew Benjamin Franklin Davis of Monroe Co., heard that there is a vacancy from your district... if so I wish that Mr. Davis could get the situation.   He is the grandson of Capt. Benj W. Holladay of this county, nephew of W. Taylor and Wiley Howell and all of his relations live in this and the adjoining county.  He is a very promising young man about 18 years of age and has a liberal education for a youth, he has a fine appearance of good size and in every way a gentleman....His means is limited."  Benjamin Davis himself wrote Featherston a letter on December 28, 1849, from Columbus, Mississippi.  Davis noted that he had written Featherston a letter of inquiry three or four weeks ago concerning a commission in the navy but now realized  "that I am to old by one year 17 being the limited age and besides I would rather have this appointment."  The letter writing campaign was successful.  On April 3, 1850 Benjamin F. Davis acknowledged receipt of the communication from the Secretary of War dated March 16, 1850 of his conditional appointment of cadet in the service of the United States and to inform you of my acceptance of the same.

Benjamin Davis was admitted to West Point on July 1, 1850.  His age is listed at 18 years 8 months at date of admission.  Sometime during his tenure at the academy he acquired the nickname "Grimes".  During his 4th year he ranked 43rd of 71 cadets.  His best subject was engineering studies where he ranked 31st.  He accumulated 92 demerits.  In 1852 Davis ranked 53rd of 60 cadets in the third class.  His best subject was French.  He ranked 224 of 224 cadets in conduct with 200 demerits.  During his second year Davis moved up in the class standings ranking 30th of 54 cadets.  He ranked 23rd in philosophy and 26th in chemistry.  His conduct also improved as he ranked 172 of 225 cadets with 186 demerits.

In 1854 Benjamin Davis was a member of the 1st class at West Point.  Henry L. Abbott who wrote "Half Century of a West Point Class 1850 to 1854"  noted in a table titled "Record at West Point" on page 56 that Davis was one of four Captains of Cadets along with James Ewell Brown Stuart, Charles N. Turnbull and John B. Villepigue.  Of the 46 cadets that graduated on July 1, 1854 Davis ranked 26 in cavalry exercises and  32nd over all with 198 demerits.  He was commissioned a brevet 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th U. S. Infantry upon graduation.

Benjamin F. Davis returned to Aberdeen, Mississippi after graduating from West Point.  In a letter dated August 26, 1854 he accepted his commission as a brevet 2nd lieutenant offered him by the president.  The returns from Ringgold Barracks, Texas where Davis was to report to join his unit shows him on leave from July 1, 1854 through the end of October.  The November returns note his passage is delayed through New Orleans to join his regiment until December 1, 1854.    Davis finally joins the 5th Infantry at Ringgold Barracks on December 24 after 5 months leave.

Brevet 2nd Lieutenant Davis will remain at Ringgold Barracks with Company C, 5th Infantry from January to June 1855.  In June he will transfer to the 1st Dragoons, as per a war department letter dated May 23, 1855. The United States Regiment of Dragoons, organized by an Act of Congress on March 2, 1833, was an elite mounted force trained to fight on foot and on horseback with sabres, carbines and pistols.  Four West Point classmates, all from the south, William D. Pender, Alfred B. Chapman, John T. Mercer and Horace Randal will join Davis with the 1st Dragoons.  When the Civil War starts all but Davis will resign their commissions in the U. S. Army.  Pender, Mercer and Randal would fight for the Confederacy.  Chapman would take up the practice of law in California.

Benjamin F. Davis left Ringgold Barracks June 23, 1855 in route to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  While in St. Louis on July 1, 1855 he accepts his appointment as 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Dragoons to date from March 3, 1855.  He arrives at Fort Leavenworth August 3rd.  At this time the post was commanded by Colonel. Edwin V. Sumner, 1st U. S. Cavalry.

On September 23, 1855 2nd Lt. Davis leaves Fort Leavenworth headed to Jefferson Barracks outside St Louis, Missouri.  By early October he is at Fort Jay, New York in route to join his regiment in New Mexico Territory.  On October 25, 1855 Davis, Chapman, and David McMurtrie Gregg (West Point Class of 1855) depart New York Harbor by sea in route to Corpus Christie, Texas in charge of a number of recruits.  Davis is the acting adjutant.

Benjamin Davis would arrive at the remote outpost of Fort Stanton in south central New Mexico on April 24, 1856.   The, fort named after Captain Henry W. Stanton, had been constructed  along the Rio Bonita River by the 1st Dragoons and the 3rd and 8th Infantry in 1855 to protect settlers from the indigenous Mescalero Apache.  The April 1856 post returns show Davis at a grazing camp near Fort Stanton since April 28, 1865.   In late May he is on a scout to the Pecos River.  By June 15 he is back at the fort.  Davis will leave Fort Stanton August 11, 1856 in route to Camp Moore (renamed Fort Buchanan in June 1857) near Calabasa Ranchero 45 miles southeast of Tucson in what is now the state of Arizona.  2nd Lt. Davis will remain at Camp Moore from November 1856 through February 1857 with Company B 1st Dragoons.  He will leave the post March 9th, 1857 on detached service in search of deserters and will not return until April 15.

On May 3, 1857 2nd Lt. Davis will leave Camp Moore.  He will participate with Company B & K, 1st Dragoons, commanded by Captain Richard S. Ewell, et al, as part of Lt. Colonel Dixon S. Miles southern column in Colonel Benjamin Bonneville's Gila River Expedition.  After marching from a depot on the Gila River for 12 days the command made up of about 400 men will encounter a band of Coyotero and Mogollon Apache on June 27, 1857.  In the fighting 24 Apache will be killed and 27 taken prisoners and all their property captured or destroyed.  Several officers under Ewell's command will also be injured including 2nd Lt. Davis who received an arrow wound in the right knee. In General Orders #14, dated November 14, 1857 Irvin McDowell noted "great credit was also given to both 2nd Lieutenants Benjamin F. Davis and Alfred B. Chapman" for their conduct in the June 27 action against the Apache.  2nd Lieutenant Davis would return to Fort Buchanan with the 1st Dragoons in August 1857.  He would remain in and around the fort the remainder of the year.

Fort Buchanan, by all accounts, was a miserable place.  The post historian noted: "It consisted of a series of temporary jackals.  The quarters lacked neatness and comfort and the houses were built of upright posts of decayed timber coated in mud.  The floors and roofs were covered with dirt and grass and the rooms were low, narrow and lacked ventilation."  Marshes surrounded the fort on three sides which exposed the garrison to mosquito borne malaria.

In early 1858 Benjamin Davis would spend considerable time on detached service away from Fort Buchanan.  During one stint in April while at the fort he would be in command of Company B, 1st Dragoons a position he had also temporarily held in the fall of 1857.  On May 11, 1858 2nd Lieutenant Benjamin F. Davis was transferred to the Department of the Pacific.  He left Fort Buchanan for Fort Tejon in southern California where the 1st Dragoons were headquartered.

To be continued.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Were Jefferson F. Davis and Benjamin F. Davis Related: Examining the Question in Light of the Evidence

It has been stated by a number of historians when writing about Captain 1st U. S. Cavalry and Colonel 8th New York Volunteer Cavalry Benjamin Franklin "Grimes" Davis, who was mortally wounded in the early morning hours of June 9, 1863 near Brandy Station Virginia, that he is a 1st or 2nd cousin of Confederate States president Jefferson F. Davis, and if not a cousin at least a relative.  I found this association quite intriguing and not knowing much about B. F. Davis's family I set out to  find more information about him. I have spent considerable time researching the genealogical records of both Benjamin and Jefferson and in so doing have found some interesting history about both of them. It is evident they are not 1st cousins and probably not second cousins however proving or disproving whether they are related at all is a much more difficult task.  The following is my assessment of the situation based on my research and the extant evidence.

The first reference I have been able to uncover as to the two Davis's being related comes from "Fighting Rebels and Redskins: Experiences in Army Life of Colonel George B. Sanford, 1861-1892" published in 1969 by the University of Oklahoma Press.  In 1862 Sanford was a 1st lieutenant in Company K, 1st U. S. Cavalry commanded by Captain Benjamin F. Davis.  Sanford, who obviously knew Captain Davis,  noted: He was a thorough officer" and "I am indebted to him more than any other one officer for whatever I afterwards became in the service."  He also wrote on page 175 "Davis was born in Alabama and appointed to the Military Academy from Mississippi, and I believe was a distant relative of Jefferson Davis."

A second reference to the two Davis's being related appears on page 35, Volume 16 Southern Historical Society Papers where Captain Milton Rouse who was captured by Colonel Davis at Harpers Ferry noted: "Davis claimed to be a Mississippian, and a relative of Hon. Jefferson Davis."

A third reference appears in an article written for the National Tribune by O. O. Howard on July 12, 1884.  Howard was writing about the Battle of Brandy Station and noted Buford's leading brigade was in charge of Colonel B. F. Davis.  "Davis was a classmate of mine at West Point and a distant relative of Jefferson Davis."

 I assume Benjamin Davis's being related to Jefferson Davis has morphed from these statement by Sanford et al of their possibly being related to them being either 1st or 2nd cousin in subsequent histories covering the cavalry officer.

As noted in a prior post on this blog Benjamin Franklin Davis was the eldest son of Benjamin E. Davis and Matilda Holladay Davis.   Benjamin E. and Matilda were married in early 1831 in Perry County, Alabama as per county marriage indexes.  Benjamin F. Davis was born in Perry County Alabama on or about the 24th of October 1831. (Davis himself notes in an August 26, 1854 letter written in acceptance of his commission as a brevet 2nd lieutenant: "My age is 22 years, ten months and two days".)  1840 Federal Census records show Benjamin E. and Matilda still living in Perry County, where the elder Davis had homesteaded, with 6 sons, the youngest of which was born about 1840.  By the late 1840's the sons were living with married sisters of Matilda in Monroe County, Mississippi where a relative noted the boys were orphans.

                                    Benjamin Franklin Davis

Matilda Davis, the daughter of Benjamin W. Holladay, was born in Wilkes County,  Georgia about 1813.  The family moved to Perry County, Alabama before 1830.  It is not known when or where Benjamin E. Davis was born which is a huge fly in the ointment in trying to ascertain any relationship between Jefferson Davis and Benjamin F. Davis.  It is also not know when or where Benjamin E. and Matilda E. Davis died, what they died of or where they are buried.  I have tried in vain to locate then in any of the Perry County, Alabama cemetery records.

Jefferson F. Davis, who is probably best know as the president of the Confederate States of America although he was also a graduate of West Point, Secretary of War in the Pierce administration and both a Senator and Congressman from Mississippi, was born in Fairview, Christian (now Todd) County, Kentucky in 1808.  He was the youngest of 10 children born to Samuel Emory Davis and his wife Jane (Cook) Davis.  What is noteworthy about this is that Jefferson Davis is at least a generation older than Benjamin Franklin Davis even though he is the youngest child in his family.

                                    Jefferson F. Davis

Samuel Emory Davis, Jefferson's father, was born about 1756 probably in Georgia although references also indicate he could have been born in Pennsylvania.    Samuel Emory Davis was the only child of Evan Davis Jr., and his wife Mary (Emory) Williams Davis.  Mary had two sons from a prior marriage who would have been half-brothers to Samuel Emory Davis.  The fact that Samuel Emory Davis was an only child precludes Jefferson Davis and Benjamin Franklin Davis from being 1st cousins because to be 1st cousins you have to have grandparents in common.  Second cousins are children of parent's 1st cousins.  Samuel Davis would not have had any 2nd cousins on his father's side because he did not have any 1st cousins because he was an only child.

Evan Davis Jr., Jefferson Davis's grandfather, was the youngest son of Evan Davis Sr., and his wife Mary.  He was born in Philadelphia about 1729.  He spent some time in South Carolina before moving to Wilkes County, Georgia where he raised his son Samuel and stepsons from Mary's 1st marriage and is buried.

Evan Davis Sr., Jefferson Davis's great grandfather,  was purportedly born in Wales, before 1695, although records vary on this issue.  He lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his wife Mary.  Evan and Mary had six children, 5 sons, Benjamin, William, Samuel, Joseph and Evan Jr., and a daughter Hannah.  Records indicate William, Samuel, Hannah and Evan Jr., married where as Benjamin and Joseph did not.  With all these brothers and sisters Evan Davis Jr., could have had relatives that could be related to Benjamin E. Davis, Benjamin Franklin Davis's father however without more information about Benjamin E, Davis's ancestry this possibility cannot be confirmed or denied.

In conclusion, it is safe to assume Benjamin Franklin Davis and Jefferson F. Davis are not either 1st or 2nd cousins.  More information will have to become available and more research conducted to ascertain if they are related in any way.  So as with many things the quest will continue.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Wounded at Antietam: Battery B 4th U. S. Artillery Part 7

As noted in a prior post 25 privates with Battery B 4th U. S. Artillery were wounded during the fighting in the fields adjacent to D. R. Miller's cornfield on the morning of September 17, 1862.  Twenty of those privates have been discussed previously.  Here are the stories of four of the remaining five.

Private Henry M. Colby was born in Whitefield, Lincoln County, Maine October 27, 1839.  Henry, his three brothers and three sisters were the children of Nathaniel and Charlotte (Norris) Colby.  In 1850 the family lived in Whitefield where Nathaniel was employed as a carpenter/joiner.  Henry and his older brother Seymour were living in Taylor's Falls, Chicago County, Minnesota when he enlisted in Company B, 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry on June 25, 1861. Henry was detached to serve with Battery B on December 2, 1861.  Private Colby suffered a gunshot wound to the leg on September 17, 1862 at Antietam.  On October 6, 1862 Henry Colby would be admitted to General Hospital A, a tent hospital located on the almshouse property near Frederick, Maryland where  he would remain until January 17, 1863. Henry Colby would be discharged from the army for disability on March 31, 1863.  He might have spent time in Washington Territory in the late 1870's employed as a lumberman.

Henry's older brother Seymour, who was born March 29, 1837, enlisted in Company B, 6th Wisconsin on June 8, 1861.  He served with Battery B from December 2, 1861 until July 15, 1864 when he was mustered out at the expiration of his three years of service.  Seymour would return to Maine, where he would marry and raise a family.  He died on March 22, 1918.

Private John H. Fillmore, a son of Norman and Sarah Ann (Shanks) Fillmore, was born July 28, 1839 in Bennington, Wyoming County, New York.  On May 31, 1861 he enlisted in Company G, 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.  He was detached to Battery B on December 2, 1861 and remained on detached service until August 8, 1864.  Silas Felton notes in The Iron Brigade Battery an essay in "Giants in Their Tall Black Hats"that John was wounded at Antietam.  John veteranized after 3 years of service and transferred to Company D, 6th Wisconsin on November 27, 1864.  He would be mustered out on July 14, 1865.  In 1870 John his wife Sarah and daughter Clara, who was born in 1866, were living in Hortonia, Outagamie County, Wisconsin where John was a farmer.  Sadly Clara would die in 1874.  In 1880 John and Sarah still lived in Hortonia.  Sarah passed away in 1891.  On September 3, 1896 John H. Fillmore, aged 57 was admitted to the Northwestern Branch National Home for Disabled Soldiers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the time of admission he stood 5' 8" tall with a dark complexion.  John lived at the Old Soldiers Home until his death on November 7, 1912.  John H. Fillmore is buried in Wood National Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Headstone John H. Fillmore Find A Grave photo Steven Blackwood

Private Claus Young, who was born in Holstein January 10, 1838, came to America in 1859.  He enlisted in Company G, 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry on July 29, 1861.  He was on detached service with Battery B from September 1862 until October 1863.  Claus was wounded at Antietam while serving with Battery B.  Private Young continued to serve with the 19th Indiana after leaving Battery B.  In January 1, 1864 he would join the 20th Indiana and serve as a sergeant in Company C,   until he was mustered out on October 19, 1864. In 1870 John and his wife Nancy Jane (Davis) Weaver, whom he married on February 2, 1864 were living in Fremont, Steuben County, Indiana.  The couple had a son Frank and 2 daughters Mary and Ina.  In 1880 the family lived in Fairview, Madison County, Nebraska where Claus was a farmer.  In 1882 he received a patent to a 160 acre homestead.  In 1900 Claus lived in Union, Madison County, Nebraska.  Claus Young died March 22, 1908 in Norfolk, Nebraska.  He is buried in the Crown Hill Cemetery in Madison County.  

Headstone of Claus Young Find A Grave photo William Peel

John J. Lee was born in Yorkshire England in January 1841.  Census records indicate he came to the United States in 1850.  It is unclear when he enlisted in Company M, 1st U. S. Cavalry  however he left the unit on August 12, 1861 at the expiration of his term of service.  On August 26, 1861 John enlisted in Company D 7th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.  He stood 5'6" tall with grey eyes, light colored hair and a ruddy complexion.  Private Lee was detached to serve with Battery B on March 7, 1862.  He was wounded at Antietam.   Lee served with Battery B until September 1, 1864 when he mustered out at the expiration of service.  He served with Company C 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry from February 1, 1865 until November 15, 1865.  In 1870 John his wife Lucy and 3 month old daughter Dora were living in Brooklyn, Green County, Wisconsin.  By 1880 the family had moved to Prarie Dog, Harlan County, Nebraska where another daughter was added to the clan.  The 1900 Census shows John J. Lee a 59 year old widower employed as a laborer at Hunters Hot Springs, Park County, Montana.   In 1910 John was living with his daughter Dora and her husband  in Seattle, Washington.  Sometime before 1920 the family moved to Berkeley, Alameda County, California.  John J. Lee was admitted to the Old Soldiers Home in Yountville, Napa County, California on July 13, 1915.  He died there on March 10, 1917 of diabetes.  John J. Lee is buried in Veterans Memorial Grove Cemetery in Yountville, California.  He had been a member of the Richmond, Contra Costa County GAR prior to his death.  

Headstone of John J. Lee Find A Grave photo Peg & Lacey

There are many mysteries that still remain regarding the wounded of Battery B at Antietam.  All of the wounded are yet to be identified.  The records are unclear and confusing.  The wounded includes regulars assigned to the battery, volunteers on detached service with the battery and other volunteers that stepped up to the plate to assist on that fateful September day 156 years ago.  Maybe the complete answer will never be know but the quest will continue so stay tuned.

Information in this post is obtained mostly from U. S. Army Register of Enlistments 1798-1914, U. S. Burial Registers, Military Posts and National Cemeteries; U. S. Census records, Regimental Rosters, Civil War Pension Indexes, Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, Government Land Office Records, U. S. National Home for Disabled Volunteers records, Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, Giants in Their Tall Black Hats, The Cannoneer, One Vast Hospital: The Civil War Hospital Sites in Frederick, Maryland after Antietam;  and other Civil War related Records on and  

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Wounded at Antietam: Battery B 4th U. S. Artillery Part 6

Private John H. Cook was born in Albany, New York in 1842.  He was the son of tinsmith Jeduthan and Margaret (Brewer) Cook.  In 1850 the family was living in Williamstown, Massachusetts but by 1860 they had moved to Hartford, Washington County, Wisconsin.  John was an 18 year old farm laborer, standing 5' 5 " tall with blue eyes and a florid complexion when he enlisted in Company D, 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry at Milwaukee on May 10, 1861.  Private Cook was detailed to Battery B, 4th U. S. Artillery on September 12, 1862.  He received a gunshot wound in the right leg during the Battle of Antietam.  On September 26, 1862 John was admitted to General Hospital #2 in Frederick, MD.  On October 1 he would be transferred to Philadelphia and would wind up spending   7 months in a hospital in Chester, Pennsylvania before returning to Battery B.  He served with the battery until March 4, 1864 when he transferred to the 10th Independent Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery.  Private Cook was discharged from the volunteer service June 7, 1865 at Madison, Wisconsin. After being discharged John Cook returned to Hartford.  While in the service Cook was known as the "tough one" having had run-ins with officers in both the 6th Wisconsin and Battery B for infractions of the rules.  After returning home Cook would marry a woman named Grace and work as a tinner (tinsmith).  By 1890 he was a resident of the Northwestern Branch U. S. Home for Disabled Soldiers.  He would be in and out of the home several times before finally being discharged on June 22, 1910.  By this time his wife Grace had passes away.  John H Cook had three brothers who served in the Union Army during the civil war, older brother James Ezra Cook and two younger brothers Albert Lymon Cook and Franklin Dewey Cook.  All 4 brothers would survive the war.

Private James S. Armstrong was born in Canada about 1845 one of seven children of mill wright Thomas and Phoebe (Turner) Armstrong.  In 1855 the family lived in Ramsen, Oneida County, New York.  By 1860 they had settled in Trimbelle,Pierce County, Wisconsin.  James enlisted in Company B, 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment on June 6, 1861 following in his brother Edgar's footsteps, edgar having enlisted on May 10, 1861 in the 6th Wisconsin.  James Armstrong was detached to serve with Battery B 4th U. S. Artillery on  December 1, 1861.  He was serving with the battery at Antietam when he was wounded September 17, 1862.  James would be discharged for disability October 25, 1862.  After being discharged he would return to Trimbelle where he died November 10, 1862.  Private Armstrong is buried in the Trimbelle Cemetery Pierce County, Wisconsin.  Jame's brother Edgar would serve with Battery B from December 1, 1861 until mustering out of federal service on July 15, 1864.  Edgar would live until November 6, 1910.

        James S Armstrong Headstone (Find A Grave photo by JLH)

Private Isaac Sourwine enlisted in Company E, 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment of July 29, 1861.  Isaac, who was born November 14, 1841 in Cross Roads, Delaware County, Indiana was the son of Virginians Christian Souerwine and his second wife Catherine.  By 1860 Isaac and his father were residents of Bear Creek, Poweshiek County, Iowa.  Private Sourwine was detached from the 19th Indiana on November 1861, volunteering to serve with Battery B.  He was wounded by a shell fragment in the left leg during the Battle of Antietam.  On September 28, 1862 he was admitted to General Hospital No. 6 in Frederick, Maryland.  He was discharged for disability on December 2, 1862 at Frederick.  Isaac would return to Indiana after his discharge.  In July 1863 he enlisted for 10 days in Company F, 110th Indiana Volunteer Infantry.  He later enlisted as a sergeant in Company G 7th Indiana Cavalry From September 5, 1863 until September 19, 1865.  On June 12, 1866 Isaac married Margaret Susannah Clevenger in Indiana.  In the 1870 & 1880 Census the family was living in Monroe, Delaware County, Indiana where Isaac was listed as a farmer.  The couple would eventually have 6 children, 2 daughters and 4 sons.  By 1900 Isaac and Margaret were living in Jackson, Wells County, Indiana.  Isaac would die  of throat cancer April 22, 1906.  Margaret would out live him by about 11 years dying in1917.  Isaac and Margaret are buried in Jones Cemetery, Wells County, Indiana.

        Isaac Sowerwine Headstone (Find A grave photo by NLBMZ)

John H. McLaughlin, a son of John and Mary A. (Walker) McLaughlin was born in Pennsylvania in March 1836.  He was living in Trimbelle, Pierce County, Wisconsin when he enlisted  as a private in Company B,of the 6th Wisconsin.  He would be detached to Battery B June 7, 1862 and would serve with it until mustering out of the service July 15, 1864.  McLaughlin was wounded at Antietam.  John married Elizabeth K. (Beardsley) September 10, 1865 at Oak Grove, Pierce County, Wisconsin.  In 1870 the family lived in Trimbelle where John was a cooper.   By 1880 he was farming and also served as the Trimbelle town treasurer.  John & Elizabeth would have three daughters, Ella, Lulu and Maud.  1900 would find John and Elizabeth residing in Clear Lake, Skagit County, Washington with at least one of their daughters.  John McLaughlin died on October 21, 1909 age 73.  He is buried in the Clear Lake Cemetery in Skagit County, Washington.

        John McLaughlin Headstone (Find A Grave photo by Mostloved)

John Holland was born in New York, February 24, 1833, the son of Irish immigrant parents.  John was a resident of Oshkosh, Wisconsin when he enlisted in Company E, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry of May 18, 1861.  Private Holland was detailed to Battery B September 15, 1862.  He would remain on detached service until May 9, 1864.  Holland would be wounded in action at Antietam and Gettysburg.  He mustered out of federal service on July 14, 1865.  John Holland would marry Harriet Mull in Shawano County, Wisconsin on July 4, 1870.  Their son Abraham was born in February 1872.  The 1880 Census shows the family living in Alma, Jackson County, Wisconsin.  John was listed as a laborer.  By 1900, when John was 67, John, Harriet and Abraham were living in Summit, Langlade County, Wisconsin  where John was a farmer and Abraham a farm laborer.  John Holland died in Summit, Wisconsin December 25, 1917.  He is buried in Gleason Cemetery, in Lincoln County, Wisconsin.  His headstone notes he served with the 2nd Wisconsin and Battery b 4th U. S. Artillery.

John Holland Headstone (Find A Grave photo by Kizzie)

Information in this post is obtained mostly from U. S. Census records, Regimental Rosters, Pension Indexes, Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, U. S. National Home for Disabled Volunteers records, Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, New York, Town Clerks Register of Men Who Served in the Civi War. Giants in Their Tall Black Hats,  and other Civil war related Records on and

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Wounded at Antietam: Battery B 4th U. S. Artillery Part 5A

In September 1865 1st Lieutenant James Stewart would be transferred to Battery G, 4th U. S. Artillery ending his long association and illustrious career with Battery B.  Battery G was assigned to Fort Wayne, Detroit, Michigan.  Stewart moved there with his wife Sabine, son James and daughters Margaret, Sabine and Mary who had been born in the District of Columbia in 1865.

On November 23, 1866 Stewart would be promoted to Captain and assigned to command Company K 18th U. S. Infantry.   He left Michigan in December 1866 in route to Fort McPherson, Nebraska where he arrived on April 1, 1867.   His next duty station was Fort Fetterman, Dakota Territory (now Wyoming) where he commanded Company K and a post located at a sawmill 17 miles from the fort.  By March 1868 Company K and Captain Stewart were at Fort Sedgwick, Colorado.  While in Colorado Stewart commanded a sub post at Sydney Station on the Union Pacific Railroad Route, staying at Sydney Station until at least December of 1868.

In 1869 the 18th U. S. Infantry would be combined with the 25th Infantry and assigned to Atlanta Georgia.  Stewart would move to Atlanta with his wife and 6 children.  Two children had been added to his growing brood between 1865 and 1869, a son John G. Stewart born in Michigan January 1, 1867  and a daughter Emma born in February 1870 in Nebraska.  Another son William would be born in 1871.

The 18th U. S. Infantry was sent south during Reconstruction.  They had a varied number of assignments and duty stations.   James Stewart and Company K did not stay long at one location during this period.  They were in Atlanta from April 1869 until October 1870.  They were then assigned to Columbia, South Carolina until March 1871.  In April Company K and their commander moved to Laurensville.  The next assignment was Newberry, South Carolina from December 1874 until July 1875.

James Stewart took his family south with him in 1869.  In November 1873 while Captain Stewart was stationed at Newberry his wife Sabine died.  The Columbia, South Carolina newspaper noted: "Mrs. Stewart was a native of Alsace and had no living relations on this continent.  She was the mother of seven children, the eldest a son, to whom she was most tenderly attached,  being absent from her side at a school in a distant city" (Detroit, Michigan).  At age 47 Brevet Major & Captain James Stewart was a widower with seven children to take care of, four of whom were less than 10 years of age.

In July 1875 Stewart and Company K 18th U. S. Infantry were transferred to Greenville, South Carolina.  While stationed in Greenville Captain Stewart and 10 men of the 18th Infantry were ordered to report to the Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue to protect the collector while he enforced revenue laws.  While assisting the deputy revenue collector the party destroyed 13,300 gallons of mash and beer, arrested 17 men and destroyed 7 stills, caps and worms.  Stewart commanded the post at Greenville until July 24, 1877.  He was then transferred to the Allegheny Arsenal in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania until November 1, 1877 before returning to McPherson Barracks at Atlanta, Georgia where he would remain until his retirement in March 20, 1879.

Captain and Brevet Major James Stewart was retired at age 53 on a surgeons certificate of disability with noted he was "incapacitated from active service due to pleuritic adhesions, impaired vision and some loss of locomotion due to an ankle broken during the siege of Petersburg."  All of these impairments were obtained in the line of duty.  Upon retirement Stewart and his family moved to Carthage, Ohio.

The 1880 Census shows James Stewart living with his 2nd wife Rebecca (Duffy) Stewart as residence of Carthage.  Rebecca, the daughter of Irish immigrant Dr. Thomas Stringer Duffy and his wife Catherine had been born in Rutherfordton, North Carolina in 1848.  The family includes children from his 1st marriage,  Margaret, Sabine, Mary, John, Emma and William.  James and his second wife would have three children of their own, Katherine born in June 1880, Thomas, born August 1881 and Mignon born in March 1888.

James Stewart would be active in retirement.  He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Loyal Legions, The Masonic Fraternity, the Episcopal Church and the Republican Party.  For many years he was a vice president of the Iron Brigade Association and attended a number of their reunions.  In the 1890's he taught classes at the Ohio Military Institute for several years.  On May 31, 1904 he would be appointed Major, retired in the U. S. Army.

During the last few years of his life Stewart resided at Fort Thomas, Kentucky.  He died at 10:00 p.m. April 19, 1905 at the post hospital several weeks before his 79th birthday.  His remains were transported to Washington D. C. for burial at Arlington National Cemetery on April 23, 1905.  Prior to the internment a funeral was held at the home of General W. W. Dudley a long standing friend of Stewart who had served with the 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry during the civil war.

Stewart's headstone, which bears the emblem of the Iron Brigade Association, was unveiled on July 28, 1907 by his son Thomas Duffy Stewart.  The program was orchestrated by General Dudley.  Edward S. Bragg, formerly of the 6th Wisconsin gave the dedication oration.

Stewart's second wife Rebecca would outlive the Major by 30 years dying in Cincinnati, Ohio July 8, 1935.  Rebecca and at least 5 of Stewart's children are buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.  

Information in this article is derived from sources including but not limited to:  U. S. Army Register of Enlistments, U. S. Returns from Military Posts, 1806 - 1916, letters written by Stewart, U. S. Census Records, History of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio, military records, newspaper articles.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Wounded at Antietam: Battery B 4th U. S. Artillery Part 5

When Captain Joseph B. Campbell was wounded three times in quick succession during the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, and had to relinquish command of Battery B 4th U. S. Artillery the command devolved on 2nd Lieutenant James Stewart.  In his official report following the battle Stewart noted the battery suffered 1 captain wounded, 3 sergeants, 4 corporals, 32 privates killed and wounded and 26 horses killed and 7 wounded.  He failed to include one wounded officer in his total however.

 In a letter written to John M. Gould on January 16, 1893 when Stewart was retired and living in Carthage, Ohio  he wrote: " About ten minutes after being placed in command (at Antietam) I was struck by a minie ball breaking my belt plate and knocking me down.  On getting up I found my sword belt broken in two.  The shock was terrible for some time, but I knew if I should allow it to be known that I was wounded that someone else would be sent to command the battery.  I suffered a great deal and had to use a Catheter for many a year and sometimes especially when I would catch cold the old pains will come back.  General Gibbon does not know to this day that I was wounded in that battle.  To when the battle was over, in place of looking over the field and making notes I had to lie flat on my back and obtain all the relief I possibly could until the Surgeon came and helped me with the pain."

What else can we say about a man who would receive a painful, grievous, wound in combat that he would suffer with the remainder of his life but consciously elect to not report the incident to a superior officer because he does not want to relinquish command.

James Stewart was born in Leith, Scotland, May 18, 1826.  His mother died in 1829 when he was three years old.  His father who was a builder and contractor followed her to the grave in 1841, leaving James an orphan when he was 15 years old.  Stewart  attended school in Leith and was a typesetter in the Queens Printing Office before leaving Scotland and immigrating to the United States in 1846. He was employed as a printer in New York City prior to his enlistment in the United States Army on October 29, 1851 when he was 25 years old.  At the date of his enlistment he stood about 5 feet six inches tall, had blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion.

Stewart's 1st duty station after enlisting was at Fort Columbus, Governor's Island New York, headquarters of the 4th U. S. Artillery.  In May 1852 acting 1st Sergeant Stewart, and 90 recruits made their way to Brownsville, Texas where Private Stewart was assigned to Battery B 4th U. S. Artillery beginning an association with the battery that would last for more than ten years and see Stewart rise in rank from private to 1st Lieutenant.

James Stewart would be appointed Corporal October 1, 1853, Sergeant on January 1, 1855 and 1st Sergeant on October 6, 1855.  Sometime in 1856 Stewart would marry Sabine Haas a daughter of farmer John Haas of Baden, Germany.  On August 29, 1856 he would reenlist for  2nd 5 year term with Battery B. In late November 1856 Battery B, which had been in Texas since the close of the Mexican War, would get orders to proceed to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

James Stewart, his wife and Battery B would spend the winter at Jefferson Barracks in St Louis, departing that city for Fort Leavenworth in March, 1857. On June 19 James Stewart, his growing family which now included a son also named James, and Battery B headed for Camp Floyd, Utah Territory, arriving there in the early summer of 1858.

When the Civil War started in 1861 James Stewart was still in Utah with Battery B which was now under the command of Captain John Gibbon.  By this time Stewart's family had grown to include two daughters born in Utah, Margaret born in 1859 and Sabine born in 1861.   On July 1, 1861 Stewart reenlisted for a 3rd 5 year term.  Eighteen days later on  July 19,  Battery B departed Camp Crittenden for the east.  By late October they were in Washington DC assigned to the Army of the Potomac.

On November 15, 1861 James Stewart was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant with Battery B 4th U. S. Artillery at the recommendation of Captain John Gibbon who referred to Stewart as being  "intelligent, faithful and honest, and without exception the best non-commissioned officer I have ever seen in the army."

Stewart would serve conspicuously with Battery B as a 2nd Lieutenant in numerous engagements with the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Virginia until appointed a 1st Lieutenant on July 3, 1863.  As previously noted he would assume command of Battery B at Antietam and command it throughout the vast majority of the remainder of the civil war.

At Gettysburg, where Stewart received his second war wound when he was struck in the thigh by a shell fragment, Battery B was engaged on both sides of the famous unfinished railroad cut in support of the 1st Corps on July 1 before retreating to East Cemetery Hill where they were engaged on July 2nd and 3rd. While the elements of the Union Army were retreating through town on July 1 and after getting his 3 guns out of harms way Stewart went back to look for his remaining three guns commanded by James Davidson.  Stewart ran into the rebels instead who yelled at him to surrender.  He noted "As I had not gone there for that purpose, I wheeled my horse  and started off as fast as he could go."

 Battery B was in the thick of the fighting at Gettysburg.  They lost 40 men killed and wounded and 57 horses killed or disabled during 3 days of combat. Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin, who knew Stewart well and served alongside him at both Antietam and Gettysburg noted in "Service with the 6th Wisconsin that "Stewart was as brave and efficient a man as ever fought on a field of battle."

1st Lieutenant James Stewart commanded Battery B during the Overland Campaign  and the Siege of Petersburg in 1864 and 1865.  He would be breveted Captain on August 1, 1864 for brave and meritorious conduct at Spotsylvania Courthouse and to Major on August 18 for action at Weldon Railroad.  He would be wounded a third time late in 1864 before Petersburg when his horse was shot under him and fell on his leg permanently injuring his ankle.

At the close of the Civil War  James Stewart would lead Battery B down Pennsylvania Avenue during the Grand Review May 23, 1865 before being transferred to Battery G 4th U. S. Artillery in September 1865 and being assigned to Fort Wayne, Detroit, Michigan.  James Stewart would continue to serve in the United States Army until his retirement in 1879.  To be continued...

Information in this article derived from sources including but not limited to:  U. S. Army Register of Enlistments, 2 articles written by James Stewart for MOLLUS, letters written by James Stewart & John Gibbon, U. S. Census Records, History of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio, The Cannoneer (photo).