Monday, April 20, 2009

What do you think

I think I have said (written) this before: writing history often presents more questions than it does answers. Here is my question of the week: what happened to Col. Washington M. Hardy? Not so much after the war. I wrote about that in a previous post here. What happened to him the last days of the war?

I wrote last Friday in my manuscript about the 58th and 60th North Carolina regiments. The new organization was known as the 58th North Carolina Consolidated, or the 58th North Carolina battalion. The field and staff of the new regiment was made up of just-promoted Maj. G. W. F. Harper, formerly Captain of Company H, 58th NCT and who had commanded the 58th NCT through the battle of Bentonville, and just-promoted Lt. Col. Thaddeus C. Coleman, who had been serving on the staff of General Hood at the rank of Captain.

Actually there are a couple of things I don’t understand. Why promote Coleman, a staff officer (he had started the war in an artillery company), over Harper, who had combat experience, and who had been associated with one of the two regiments since its inception? And why would Johnston, who was aware of Hood’s scathing report about his tenure as commander of the Army of Tennessee, appoint one of Hood’s staff officers?

But, back to my original question: what happened to Hardy? Hardy had served as Colonel of the 60th NCT since May 1863. He had commanded Reynolds’s brigade for a time, and commanded his own brigade at Bentonville. According to what I wrote previously, he was present on March 31, 1865, but nine days later, was gone. I can find no parole papers. I can find no presidential pardon.

So three possibilities. One: Hardy had been ill at other times during the war. Maybe he took this opportunity to go home on furlough and the documentation to prove this is missing. Two: maybe he could not command the new consolidated regiment as colonel because Col. John B. Palmer, 58th NCT, outranked him. Palmer was promoted to colonel in July 1862. However, Palmer had been assigned to the department of western North Carolina since November 1863. He never rejoined the regiment, but was still listed as colonel. Third: Maybe because Hardy’s performance at Bentonville was so poor, he was declared supernumerary and went somewhere else.

Any thoughts?

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