Showing posts from June, 2023

Lost from the O.R. Part 3: Colonel William Sirwell’s report for the 78th Pennsylvania at Stones River

T he Official Records of the War of the Rebellion , the massive 128 volume postwar work issued by the War Department, serves as the cornerstone of our understanding of the military history of the Civil War. Within its thousands of pages reside after action reports, correspondence, court martial proceedings, charts, maps, a veritable mountain and gold mine of information that has delighted (and infuriated) historians since its publication in the 19th century. But even then, it was recognized that not every report made it into the O.R., some were, in a phrase, "lost to history." A superb attempt was made to address this deficiency during the 1980s and 1990s when Broadfoot Publishing printed 100 more volumes of material in the Supplement to the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion . Amazingly, even with 228 volumes of reports, once in a while something new is discovered that was missed. I'm proud to present one of those missing after action reports: Colonel William

The 67th Ohio commemorates First Winchester, 57 years later

I t was a tradition for the veterans of the 67 th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry to hold two reunions per year; the primary reunion being held the first week of September while a secondary reunion was held the third week of March. This secondary reunion was specifically held to commemorate the regiment’s first time under fire during the First Battle of Winchester which occurred March 22-23, 1862.           The veterans took great pride in their efforts in securing this rare battlefield victory over Stonewall Jackson in the spring of 1862. But by 1919, the ranks of the veterans of the regiment had grown painfully thin and this reunion proved to be one of the last. “Only nine of the boys in blue who participated in the battle of Winchester were present at their annual reunion in Ottokee,” the Fulton County Expositor explained. “There were about 25 Civil War veterans present and of course some new reminiscences were brought to line. Letters were read from a number of boys who were un

Federal Arms in the Stones River Campaign

  T he following list, constructed after many years of research, lists unit by unit which type of weapons were carried by the Army of the Cumberland during the Stones River campaign. A number of sources were consulted including state ordnance reports, Federal quarterly ordnance reports (thank you Research Arsenal ), Ken Baumann’s Arming the Suckers, regimental histories and memoirs, captured ordnance reports, and consultation with knowledgeable experts in the field of firearms. Some of this information has been shared on the blog before in “ Rosy’s Heavy Metal: Artillery of the Army of the Cumberland ” or “ Shoulder Arms: How Sheridan’s and Davis’s Divisions Were Armed at Stones River ” but this is the first time the army as a whole has been presented. The overall conclusion I drew from looking at this data is that the Army of the Cumberland in December 1862 was an organization in the midst of transformation as far as arms. Many of the regiments still retained their original issue

Taking the Southern Course: The 74th Indiana and Tullahoma

P erhaps the most important piece of field kit carried by the Army of the Cumberland during the Tullahoma campaign in late June 1863 was the rubber gum blanket. Doubling as a rain poncho, most Federal soldiers wore the gum blanket every day as they marched through seemingly endless rains that characterized that campaign. Lieutenant Lawrence Gates of the 74 th Indiana wrote of another use that the men of his regiment found for the ubiquitous gum blanket. “On Thursday June 25 th , we encamped in a large wheatfield of a hot-headed secessionist and as he openly expressed his feelings and wished that all Yankees were in some hot place, we used his fences for firewood and his wheat as bedding because the ground was too wet to sleep on otherwise,” Gates reported. “He had two beehives around his house and to keep the boys away from his premises, he upset them all to get the bees excited. However, the old 74 th was not to be thwarted by an army of secesh bees, but muffled their heads in the

Outright Murder: The 18th Wisconsin at Shiloh

J ust one week after leaving Camp Trowbridge in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the soldiers of the newly raised 18 th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry found themselves under fire in the opening moments of the Battle of Shiloh. The 18 th Wisconsin was not the only green regiment at Shiloh; large portions of both armies had never “smelt powder,” but few experienced such a rapid turn from peace to war as the rookie Badgers.   They went to war under a plethora of fanciful names including one company of Tigers (Co. C styled themselves the Bad Ax Tigers), one company of Rifles (Co. H was called the Green Lake County Rifles), two companies of Guards (Co. A was the Taycheedah Union Guards and Co. K was the Union Guards), two companies of Infantry (Co. B was the Eagle Light Infantry and Co. E was the Portage Light Infantry), and finally four companies of rangers (Co. D was the Northwestern Rangers, Co. F was the Oshkosh Rangers, Co. G was the Alban Pinery Rangers, and Co. I was the Lewis Rangers). To