Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Changing Sides

 

“There are very few unexplored topics concerning the history of the American Civil War,” is how Patrick H. Garrow starts Changing Sides: Union Prisoners of War Who Joined the Confederate Army (2020). Yet Garrow has found and explored one of those topics. Garrow makes a conservative estimate of 4,000 Federal soldiers who joined the Confederate ranks. These men were mostly, but not entirely, foreign-born - Irish and German immigrants. While confessing that it is difficult to trace the service of men who filtered into various regiments, Garrow concentrates on four: Brook’s Battalion, Tucker’s Regiment/1st Foreign Battalion, 2nd Foreign Battalion/8th Confederate Infantry; and the 10th Tennessee Infantry. The first three were recruited as organizations entirely made up of former Federal soldiers. The latter was an early war Confederate regiment whose ranks were depleted and received an influx of these recruits. Garrow examines the war-record of these late war regiments. Brook’s Battalion, while stationed near Savannah, had several members arrested and executed for mutiny. The 8th Confederate Infantry fought amazingly well at Salisbury in April 1865. Many members of the 10th Tennessee Infantry were captured at Egypt Station, Mississippi, and instead of being executed as deserters, were given the chance to re-enlist in the Federal army, surviving in the 5th United States Volunteers. Garrow then follows by tracing the lives of a few of the former Federal/Confederate soldiers into the post-war years, showing how many of these men (but not all) disappear from the pages of history. This is followed by an examination of some of the Confederate officers who commanded the members of the various battalions and regiments listed above. Garrow has accomplished what he set out to do: tell the story of an unexplored aspect of not just the war, but American history. This book is highly recommended!

Friday, January 20, 2023

Women Imprisoned at Andersonville


   When we think of war-time women prisoners, a few famous spies, like Belle Boyd, Rose O’Neal Greenhow, and maybe Pauline Cushman come to mind. There were a few others imprisoned who are not household names. Margaret Leonard is one of them.

   Margaret Larney was born in Ireland, came to the United States, and married Isaac Newton Leonard. Leonard enlisted in Company H, 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery the following year and was sent to eastern North Carolina. When Confederates under Robert F. Hoke came to invest Plymouth in April 1864, Margaret did not leave with the other refugees. Instead, according to a veteran’s post-war account, she “engaged in making coffee for the men in a building exposed to a heavy fire. At one time a solid shot passed through the building, taking with it one of her dresses, which hung on a nail by the wall. Another carried away the front legs of her cooking-stove. Yet when the fight was over, on the evening of the 19th, she had coffee for the men, and supper for the officers. She was in Fort Williams during the remainder of the fight.” She and her husband were both captured and imprisoned at Andersonville.    Margaret Leonard lived in the prison for a time, but eventually Captain Wirz moved her in with his family. After a while, “she began insulting” the Captain’s family and Wirz had her sent to Castle Thunder in Richmond. There she befriended Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, who described her as “a large stout Irish woman.” Before long, Leonard was sent beyond Confederate lines. Isaac survived the war but died in 1869. Margaret lived in California until her death in 1900.[1]

Grave in Florence, South Carolina (findagrave).

   Francis Jane Scadin, wife of Herbert Hunt, arrived a couple of weeks after Margaret Leonard. Hunt was a steamboat captain. Hunt had just married Francis, and with his new bride and other guests, set sail on a “pleasure cruise.” As the story goes, the ran into a United States revenue cutter, who forced Hunt to head to North Carolina to take on a load of corn. In the process of being loaded, Hunt and his ship were captured. His bride, thinking his imprisonment would last only a few days, disguised herself and went with him to Andersonville. Doctor J.J.W. was sent to Andersonville in July 1864 and ordered to oversee the dispensary. On his first night, “I heard a very small infant crying near my office. . . Upon inquiry one of the guards informed me that it was the infant of Captain Hunt and his wife, only three days old.” Kerr visited her the next morning, finding her in a tent with the babe, “in the most abstract poverty I had ever seen.” It appears that while in the prison proper, Federal prisoners had cut the back out of her tent and took her trunk with clothing and cash. Kerr made arrangements to move her to a home nearby and worked with a merchant friend in Macon to secure clothing for new garments. What exactly became of Mrs. Hunt is unknown.[2]

   Another woman imprisoned at Andersonville appears to have been Florena Budwin. Our information about her comes from a Pvt. Samuel Elliott, a member of the 7th Pennsylvania Reserves. Elliott was captured during the battle of the Wilderness in May 1864. He, along with Florena Budwin and her husband, were sent to Andersonville. It appears that Florena had disguised her sex when she enlisted. At least Florena and Elliott were transferred to the prison in Florence, South Carolina. Elliott wrote in 1890 that “I knew the female prisoner at Andersonville, having seen her frequently pass our detachment on her way to the swamp for water. I remember her as a woman rather above medium height, sunburnt, with long, unkempt hair. Her clothing consisted of a rough gray shirt, a pair of worn out army trousers, and what was once a military cap, but scarcely enough of it was left to afford protection from the burning sun.” When transferred to Florence in September 1864, her “sex was discovered…and she was taken… to be a nurse in the hospital.” She served several months as a nurse at Florence, then contracted pneumonia and died on January 25, 1865. She just might be the first woman buried in a national cemetery.[3]

   There are probably many more stories like these that are lost to history.



[1] Marvel, Andersonville, 174; Davis, Ghosts and Shadows of Andersonville, 147; Goss, The Soldier’s Story of his Captivity at Andersonville, 60.

[2] Marvel, Andersonville, 56;  Sheppard, Andersonville, 38; Confederate Veteran, vol. XXIII, 318; Speer, Portals to Hell, 264.

[3] The Independent-Records, June 24, 1890; The State, May 29, 1934.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Watauga blog follow-up

 Usually, when anonymous comments come through on the form, I don’t even read them. They just get deleted (the old file 13). I figure if you can’t put your name on something and claim it as your own, then I don’t have the time to reply. This one, though, caught my attention, more so for its adherence to bad history than for its unattributed authorship. The anonymous poster was referring to a blog I published in December 3, 2014, entitled “A Racially integrated Confederate Military.” You can read the original post here.

Here are the anonymous poster’s comments in whole. We’ll look at some fallacies in the argument below. 

Hi. I’m an Oxentine from Watauga County. First and foremost, I wonder why you’d use Watauga County as your “Test County” for rhe Confederate South of which Watauga County was far from either. Watauga had no allegiance to the Confederacy, period. In fact, we were quite opposed to the Confederacy. We were certainly the opposite of representative of the Confederate South. My god, surely a documented Underground Railroad upon which I was cultivated is not your test county. We had no large plantation, no need for slaves and Watauga County didn't utilize slaves in any sort of imaginable way as slaves were used in the true antebellum south. I would think to use Atlanta as your test county if I were you. And then you might ask the descendants of those minorities in the true south if they wanted to be confederate soldiers or if they were forced. It’s quite concerning that history is written in reference to a people a people by someone other than descendants of the people because it’s not history at all. I know myself. I know our mentality. It is very unlikely that anyone in Watauga County had any kind of true grit loyalty to the Confederacy. Historically, we are the last group of people to get involved in conflict of any kind but the most malicious when we did. We were farmers. We wanted to be left alone. We came here to be left alone. We had no allegiance to society because we hate society. If you don’t know that, because you’re not from Watauga, it’s hard to factor that in. Prior to the civil war, we were already racially diverse, moreso than anywhere in the south, and you comment that we were the least diverse. 1. That’s an assumption on your part based on a single letter placed in a square box. 2. And if we were racially heterogenous, for the most part, you can’t assume that was a precursor to our offering minority confederate soldiers. 3. As an Oxentine descendant, I can tell you first hand that we are descended from the Croatan, Cheraw, and other Eastern Bands of Native American with a more recent linage of African and European. 4. Anyone, and I mean anyone, who was a free person of color was listed as Mulatto, and that includes Native Americans, Swahili or what have you. 5. In the case of the mulattos in Watauga County, or any other true melungeon group, there is no record of Portuguese descent prior to the mid 20th century and actually no Portuguese at all. More bad history. My culture was 100% founded upon European, Native American and African tradition. And that’s it. 6. What if I were to tell you that 99% of people residing in Watauga County at the time were ALL of mixed racial heritage? How would you write your book then? Because that’s how you should write your book. I promise you that.

So, here are my rebuttals:

·         Watauga had no allegiance to the Confederacy, period. In fact, we were quite opposed to the Confederacy. We were certainly the opposite of representative of the Confederate South.

Actually, that is not even close to being true. While Watauga County, like many North Carolina counties, voted against calling a convention to consider secession in February 1861, fewer than six weeks later, they had had a change of heart. What changed their minds? There are several occurrences over that six weeks that are factors: the failure of the Peace Conference, Abraham Lincoln’s babbling first inaugural address, Lincoln going back on his word and sending reinforcements to Fort Sumter, and the call for 75,000 troops to invade Southern states. Watauga County’s response to these events was swift. Early in May, a group of fifty men met and responded, forming a company and pledging “Our Lives, our Properties, and our Sacred Honors to defend the Rights[,] Institutions and Honor of our County, State, and our Common Country, the Confederate States of America.” William Y. Farthing was elected captain.” At the same time, former representative George N. Folk was raising a company for Confederate service. This would become Company D, 1st North Carolina Cavalry. Both of these companies were raised before North Carolina even left the Union.

 When the vote to leave the Union was held in Raleigh on May 20 to leave the Union and join the Confederacy, James W. Councill, the man who was elected by the county to represent them, voted in concurrence with the others. By the end of 1861, two other volunteer companies of Confederate troops had been formed in Watauga County. With a scattering of other men in regiments connected with other counties, a little over 400 men from Watauga County, about ten percent of the whole population, had volunteered. In total, 793 men served in the Confederate army from Watauga County. Of those, 61 deserted and joined 50 other Watauga County men in the Union army. Many of those “Unionists” actually waited until the closing weeks of the war, once victory had been assured, to enlist. (Military Records, Watauga County, North Carolina State Archives.)

·         To the question of Watauga County being a representation of the South, actually, it is.

University of Georgia Professor John C. Inscoe explores this topic in his book The Heart of Confederate Appalachia: Western North Carolina in the Civil War. He argues that the social and political society in the mountain South was the same as other places in the South, just on a smaller scale. Certainly, there were fewer slaves in Watauga County. But those slave owners were the driving social force in the community. Thomas Farthing, who represented the area in the General Assembly in 1860, was a slave owner. In fact, all of the major movers and shakers in the county – elected officials, store owners, etc., had some enslaved people working in their businesses or on their farms. This includes the Council, Mast, Hilliard, Farthing, Horton, Dobbin, Estes, Hardin, Baird, Green, and Gragg families. Even Unionists, like the Banners, owned slaves. As small as Watauga County was in 1860 – with a population of 4,957 (although several hundred would be carved out of the lower end of the county when Mitchell was finally formed in February 1861) – it still adhered to the same pyramid scale of population as other counties in the South. (Watauga County, 1860 US Federal Census-Slave Schedules.)

·         Documented Underground Railroad?

This is a question I get every couple of years from a reporter or student. So far, there is no documented true Underground Railroad in Watauga County, at least not in the traditional sense of an Underground Railroad for escaped slaves trying to flee through the area and make their way to Canada (because “black codes” prevented them from settling in most Northern states). We did have the other kind of underground railroad, for escaped Federal prisoners and dissidents, during the war years. These men made their way through the area attempting to get to Federal lines in Kentucky, and as the front of the later changed, to Tennessee. Typically, these federal prisoners and dissidents did not encourage the enslaved people whom they encountered to come with them. The militia, and later home guard, were only kind of looking for these men. A missing slave would result in a more serious, focused search.

·         We were farmers. We wanted to be left alone. We came here to be left alone. We had no allegiance to society because we hate society.”

This idea is largely a post-war creation. The people in the mountains, prior to the war, were a very literate, welcoming society, and somewhat transient. There are numerous stories of families heading west for a while, maybe to Texas or the gold fields in California. Traveling preachers, like Elisha Mitchell, never made mention of a society that wanted to be left alone. The “left alone “part was partially a product of the war, as bands of bushwhackers and thieves roamed the countryside. The raids in the Bethel community and the death of Thomas Farthing come to mind as events that would certainly inspire xenophobia and seclusion. But there were many other factors. Reconstruction did not help foster trust of outsiders. Then came the timber barons who exploited the people and lands.  Thankfully, because of the geology of the land, Watauga County was spared the mineral rights exploitation of the coal fields of neighboring Appalachian states.

·         Historically, we are the last group of people to get involved in conflict of any kind…”  

Actually, men (and women) have been involved in every military conflict on records, from the War of 1812 to the Cherokee Removal, the Mexican-American War, Spanish-American War, and all of the 20th century conflicts. Have there been conscientious objectors? Of course, there were a few. But Watauga Countians as a whole have always been more than willing to get involved. 

Per the other comments (points) regarding race, the anonymous poster apparently missed the context of the entire post, and other posts I have written in the past, in that, the Confederate army was not all that white. Unfortunately, since NDA testing is still in its infancy, the little boxes checked regarding race (ok, there were no actual boxes to check in the 1860 census; the information that the person told the census enumerators), along with a few scattered letters, are pretty much all we have to go on. And as far as the Cousins/Cossens being of Portuguese decent, all I can say is what Mark Holsclaw wrote to Governor Ellis in his June 1861 letter, trying to obtain the freedom of the two Cousins brothers. Obviously, he got this information from someone. My bet would be someone in the Cousins family. (They did live in Boone, next door to W.W. Fletcher.)

As I have stated before, I would love to see this type of in-depth research on other counties. I’ve worked on Watauga County and a few of the surrounding counties for close to 27 years. Hence, my ability to say with some certitude certain things. If my anonymous poster would like to dig deeply, I encourage him/her to check out my book on Watauga County and War, track down all my sources, and tell me how I can improve. In the end, I am only as good as what the sources tell me.

 

 

 

Friday, January 13, 2023

Sherman burning towns on the March to the Sea

   In February 2010, History (you know, the “Hitler” channel, and later, the “Aliens” channel) published a piece entitled “Sherman’s March to the Sea.” In the very first paragraph, the author wrote “The purpose of Sherman’s March to the Sea was to frighten Georgia’s civilian population into abandoning the Confederate cause. Sherman’s soldiers did not destroy any of the towns in their path, but they stole food and livestock and burned the houses and barns of people who tried to fight back.” (you can read the whole article here.) Yet in a December 31, 2022, article “US Cities and Towns Destroyed During the Civil War, on 247wallst.com, the author lists twenty-six towns or cities that were consumed, in part of whole, by both armies during the war. Several of those are listed as having been destroyed by Sherman’s men. (You can read that article here) So, which is correct?

Sherman's March (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc./Kenny Chmielewski)

   For the purpose of our discussion, we are going to define Sherman’s march from the date of November 5, 1864, to December 9, 1864. This looks at all of Sherman’s maneuvers from just above Atlanta to the outskirts of Savannah. Undoubtedly, there are some sites that have been missed.

   Atlanta, of course, was abandoned by Confederate forces on September 2, 1864. Federals held the city, and much of the area along the railroad to the north, through November, when they chose to abandon the region, cut their line of supplies, and head south. To leave nothing behind that could be used, the Federals practiced a scorched-earth policy. While Sherman would state that he never ordered the burning of any dwelling, he really did nothing to prevent it. Major Henry A. Hitchcock wrote in his diary that he was Marietta and saw the courthouse and much of the public square burned. When he mentioned it to Sherman, Sherman replied with, “There are the men who do this [looking at Federal soldiers whom they were passing]. “Set as many guards as you please, they will slip in and set fires. That Court House was put out-no use-dare say [the] whole town will burn, at least the business part. I never did order the burning of any dwelling-didn’t order this, but it can’t be helped. I say Jeff. Davis burnt them.[1]

   Large scale burning seems to commence on November 5, when the 5th Ohio Cavalry ordered out what few civilians remained in Cassville, where they burned the town in a retaliatory measure after ten Federal soldiers, nine of whom were stragglers, were killed.[2]

 On November 11, 1864, Sherman wrote Henry Hallack, his superior in Washington, D.C., that the previous day he had ordered the burning of all “foundries, mills, and shops of every kind in Rome.” The fire undoubtedly spread to other parts of the town. E.P. Burton, a surgeon in an Illinois regiment, wrote in his diary on November 10 that “The country is light with the burning of Rome – Walked down through town this eve. It seemed melancholy to see property being destroyed. It is against orders – but the soldiers want to see it burn.” A couple of days later, Burton wrote that “A good many houses were burned in Rome the night before we left.”[3]

   Portions of Sherman’s command passed through Kingston next. Reportedly, the only building to survive was the Methodist church. Cartsville met much the same face. One Federal soldier involved in applying the torch wrote that “most of the families have either gone north or south, but a few, from some cause, have failed to get away and now they are weeping over their burning homes. The sight is grand but almost heartrending.”[4]

 Acworth was put to the torch as well. Major James Connolly, 123rd Illinois, wrote that “Our soldiers burned the village of Acworth without orders and we went to camp at Big Shanty about dark. Acworth has been a thriving village, but tonight it is a heap of ruins. I was the only one of the general’s staff in the town when the fires began, and I tried to prevent the burning, but while I watched one house to keep it from being fired, another somewhere else would take fire, so I concluded to give up. I succeeded in saving a few houses occupied by ‘war widows’ and their families, but all the rest of the town went up in smoke.”[5]

   Sherman watched parts of Marietta burn. He, and the rest of his command proceeded to Atlanta. One Federal soldier chronicled in his diary that “Nearly every house on the road today had been burned.”  Sherman had ordered the evacuation of the city in early September. Now, the city was gutted. Fires sprang up on the night of November 11. Some buildings were demolished with a crude battering ram, while other structures were blown up. A survey of the ruins revealed that 4,500 buildings, both houses and businesses, were destroyed. One Confederate wrote that “The work was done with terrible completeness; buildings covering 200 acres were in flames at one time; the heavens were an expanse of lurid fire; and amid the wild and terrific scene Federal bands played ‘John Brown’s soul goes marching on.’”[6] 

Sherman Burning Atlanta (Harper's Weekly Magazine, January 7, 1864)

   The combined Federal armies struck out south, toward Savannah, using two different routes. Griswoldville was the site of a battle on November 22 when 2,300 members of the Georgia militia stumbled into what they thought was a minor cavalry patrol. Just two days prior, Sherman’s men burned the firearms manufacturing facility, along with much of the town. Parts of Milledgeville were burned at the same time, including Howell Cobb’s nearby home, and the arsenal, depot, and bridge over the Oconee River; also burned was the state penitentiary, albeit by prisoners rather than Federal troops. The state library was pillaged and the state house vandalized.[7]

   Gordon, Wilkerson County, was visited by both Stoneman’s command in July 1864 and portions of Sherman’s command on November 22-25, 1864. What Stoneman did not destroy, Sherman’s men did. (Miles, Civil War Sites in Georgia, 170.) Confederates attacked Federal foragers ahead of the army at Sandersville on November 25, driving them back several miles. Federal infantry arrived the following day. According to one officer, Sherman told a local lady that because of the delaying action fought by Confederate cavalry in the streets of the town, the town would be burnt. Soon, the courthouse, jail, and local businesses were on fire, all the while a band played. Other warehouses were burned the following day as the Federals left. Just how many private residences were burned by stragglers is unclear.[8]

   Federal columns moved through the Jefferson County communities of Davisboro and Louisville. One source says Davisboro was burned and Louisville pretty much destroyed by looters. In the latter, the courthouse, jail, and several houses were burned. A member of the 89th Ohio Infantry wrote that the Federals found "...quite a number of stores of different kinds, all fairly stocked with goods. The delay in laying the pontoons, and getting trains and troops over, gave our boys ample time to go through the town, which, unfortunately for the inhabitants, they did most completely; everything was appropriated that could be used, and many things that could not be used. The town was thoroughly and completely ransacked, and by some unaccountable means late in the afternoon, the town caught fire...."[9]

   Sherman himself camped at Millen on December 3. Millen was the site of Camp Lawton, a prison built in an attempt to relieve the overcrowding at Camp Sumter (Andersonville). Yet Sherman found no prisoners. The depot, ticket house, warehouses, and hotel were burned. An officer in the 63rd Ohio recalled Sherman’s verbal instruction to one of his corps commanders: “make the destruction [of Millen] ‘tenfold more devilish’ than he had ever dreamed of, as this is one of the places they have been starving our prisoners.”[10]

   In Statesboro, once again, Federal soldiers burned the county courthouse, three or four residences, and a local “saloon.[11]

   By December 9, Sherman’s armies were near Fort McAllister, and soon, the Federals had built a wharf and were being supplied by the Federal navy. They had cut a path throughout the state of Georgia, destroying many towns. While a church or residence might be left in some of these locations, when the courthouse, depot, businesses, and hotels are all loss to a blaze, albeit from someone under orders or by stragglers that seemed uncontrollable, the town is pretty much destroyed. While Sherman and other Federal generals condemned the loss in word, they seemed unwilling to take the necessary steps to curtail the damage. To say that no town was destroyed during the March to the Sea seems to ignore the historical evidence, much of it provided by Federal soldiers along for the march.

 


[1] Howe, Marching with Sherman, 53.

[2] Hebert, “Civil War and Reconstruction Era Cass/Bartow County, Georgia,” 280.

[3] Shaffer, Day by Day Through the Civil War in Georgia, 308; Burton, Diary of E.P. Burton, Surgeon 7th Reg. Ill., 39-40; see also Rome News-Tribune, November 10, 2014.

[4] Hebert, “Civil War and Reconstruction Era Cass/Bartow County, Georgia,” 280.

[5] Todd Hudson, “The Burning of Marietta,” https://patch.com/georgia/marietta/the-burning-of-marietta

[6] Burton, Diary of E.P. Burton, 41; Shaffer, Day by Day Through the Civil War in Georgia, 291; Garrison, Atlanta and the War, 281-42.

[7] Inscoe, The Civil War in Georgia, 97-98; Miles, Civil War Sites in Georgia, 167.

[8]  Trudeau, Southern Storm, 246, 260; Howe, Marching with Sherman, 96.

[9] Miles, Civil War Sites in Georgia, 173); G.A.R. Papers, Read Before Fred C. Jones Post, No. 401, 322-323.

[10] Trudeau, Southern Storm, 326.

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Torn Families – the Merrimans

   We often say that the war was fought “brother vs. brother.” Here is another example, the Merriman family (You can read about two other families here – the Gibbon family and the Flusser family.)

   Eli T. Merriman was born in Bristol, Connecticut, in 1815, graduating from Yale University in 1833, and then studying medicine in Pennsylvania and Vermont. He married another Connecticut native, Jenette Bartholomew. In the 1830s, the family moved to Texas, and Merriman became the first doctor to open a practice in San Marcos, Texas. Merriman served in the Mexican-American War, lived in Brownsville, then Banquette, Corpus Christi, and had six children with Jenette before they divorced. He also served in the Texas Legislature, and during the war, he became a Confederate doctor. He served at hospitals in Texas. His own ranch at Banquette served as a hospital “for the contagious.”[1]



   At least three of Merrimans’ sons served in the war. Two fought for the South, and one for the North.

   Walter Merriman (1835-1911), born in Connecticut, enlisted on January 1, 1863, in Rio Grande Station, in Company D, Duff’s Partisan Corps, which later became the 33rd Texas Cavalry. He brought his own horse and equipment and was mustered in as a corporal. The only other muster roll in his file is dated July 31, 1863, but he did survive the war. The 33rd Texas Cavalry was involved in the battle of Nueces and did patrol duty along the Rio Grande.[2]  

   James E. Merriman (1843-1931), born in Connecticut, enlisted in Company K, 8th Teas Infantry on May 4, 1862, in Corpus Christi. He was mustered in as a private. In October 1862, he was reported on detached service, but he appeared back with his command by the end of year. Merriman appeared present or accounted for through the end of 1864, although he was out sick or in a hospital for part of that time. The 8th Texas Infantry was involved in the battles of Corpus Christi, Fort Esperanza, and the Red River Campaign.[3]

   Henry E. Merriman (1837-1921), like his brothers, was born in Connecticut and went with the family to Texas. However, Henry returned to Connecticut where he was working in a store when the war began. On August 11, 1862, he enlisted in Company K, 16th Connecticut Volunteers.  The 16th Connecticut was involved in the battle of Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Siege of Norfolk, and the battle of Plymouth, North Carolina. At the latter, Merriman was captured and subsequently imprisoned at Andersonville, Florence, and Macon.[4]

   A 1904 newspaper article praised Henry Merriman for sticking it out in prison and not writing to his father asking for assistance in getting released. Given that Doctor Merriman was in localized Texas hospitals, and not the “high ranking” Confederate the post-war newspaper made him out to be, it is unlikely that the doctor could have done anything for Henry. Given the distance and time, one has to wonder if the different members of the Merriman family even knew who was in what army.

  

[2] Walter Merriman Compiled Service Record, M323, Roll 0163, Record Ground 109, National Archives.

[3] James E. Merriman, Compiled Service Record, M323, Roll 0325, Record Group 109, National Archives.

[4] Hartford Courant, June 14, 1904.

Sunday, January 01, 2023

Looking ahead to 2023.

 


  Whew… 2022 has come and gone. It was a good year. A History Lover’s Guide to North Carolina was released, and Hidden History of the Toe River Valley is just about ready to go in. The old office has been cleaned, and loads of old papers have been recycled or filed. I’ve also rebuilt my old pc. It should be running pretty well the next couple of years. My last post on here talked of the next project, a new history of the April 1864 battle of Plymouth, North Carolina. I’ve been doing some background reading on that subject. It was one of the few Confederate combined operations of the war, and it was a Confederate victory. For background reading, I started Rowena Reed’s Combined Operations in the Civil War a week or so ago. Wow! What a good book. Very critical of Union operations. While I have read thousands of books on the time period, it is amazing how many more there are to read.

   Most of my reading for the next few months will be tied up with this project. No, I’ll probably not read a horde of entire books (someone actually asked me that the other day). But I’ll be reading quite a few sections of books. Recently, I checked both Lincoln’s papers and U.S. Grant’s papers for references to the April 1864 battle. Lincoln, it appears, never mentioned the April 1864 battle. Grant did. We’ll need to explore this a little more.

 As far as more news, we are going to be turning this blog into a podcast. Yes, you will still be able to access the information here, but we will be doing recordings at the same time. More details to follow.

   Any Feeding the Army of Northern Virginia news? Well, I have an editor and went through her edits a couple of months ago, but still no timetable. I’ll post more details when I have them.

   2023 is going to be a great year! Lots of good research, many places to go, and many people to reconnect with or new friends to make. I look forward to sharing the journey with you!

Monday, October 17, 2022

New project – Battle of Plymouth!

 

   Usually, I do not lack for project ideas. As I drudge through the minutiae of history, I see plenty of holes in the historiography that need to be filled or expanded upon. It is, however, always nice when a publisher contacts me with an idea. Ted Savas, of Savas Beatie Publishing, recently did that, asking me to tackle a new project on the April 1864 battle of Plymouth, North Carolina. This project fits well into my interests of North Carolina history and the history of the 1860s.

Replica of the CSS Albemarle 

   The battle of Plymouth was a somewhat successful attempt to wrest control of eastern North Carolina away from the Federals. Ever since the loss of camp Hatteras, Roanoke Island, and New Bern, the Confederates had been worried the Federals’ forays could wreck the precious railroad that ran between Wilmington and Virginia. One such earlier expedition at New Bern was unsuccessful. This new attack, led by Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hoke, proved successful. Part of that success was due to the use of the incomplete CSS Albemarle. The success at Plymouth led the Federals to abandon Washington (North Carolina) as well, although a second attack at New Bern on May 5 was unsuccessful. Plymouth remained under Confederate control until the end of October 1864.

   This new project will be a part of Savas Beatie’s new Battles and Leaders Series, one that focuses on small battles and events that took place during the war. There are three titles so far in this series, and I encourage you to check them out here

Battles and Leaders Series from Savas Beatie

   What am I bringing to this project? Years of writing about the war, and years of writing about North Carolina to start with. I’ve already uncovered some little-used sources, and I am sure there are many more out there waiting to be found. Another aspect are some well-crafted maps that explore the battlefield. As far as the battlefield goes, there is really not much left today of the entrenchments that the Federals constructed during the war. There is a really good museum in town, the Port o’ Plymouth Museum, that I encourage you to check out. (We were there this past July.) This will be my 2022-2023 winter project, and it will allow me to explore some topics I’ve only written about briefly, like the CS and US Navies.

   I’m really looking forward to diving into a new project!