Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tidball, the Tall Cool One.

John C. Tidball was born January 25, 1825 near Wheeling, VA (currently WV). From that day on, he had a very interesting life and his existence gives me the chance to cover three topics that I especially like. Therefore, Tidball rates very highly on my list of cool Civil War guys.



John C. Tidball
(Wikipedia.org)

Cool topic #1. Tidball graduated from West Point in 1848. Although he entered the artillery branch of the army, it was his time at West Point that allowed him to witness and comment on the deification of the Engineer at West Point. Engineers are cool. The god-to-heathen hierarchy scale was as follows-- Engineer, Topographical Engineer, Ordnance, Artillery, Infantry, Dragoon and Mounted Rifle. Tidball amusingly noted "this scale, the result of profound analysis by the engineering corps, which had controlled the academy from its infancy, was supposed to represent the brain requirement for each branch. We were taught with every breath we drew at West Point the utmost reverence for the scale; consequently it becomes a kind of fixture in our minds that the engineers were a species of gods, next to which came the 'topogs', or as they were sometimes styled, the apocryphal engineers, only a grade below the first, but still a grade--- they were but demi-gods. Then came the ordnance, a sort of connecting link between the deities and ordinary mortals, that is between the two higher orders and the line, but still above the latter. The line was simply the line, whether of horse, foot, or dragoons. The academic board did, it is true, draw a slight distinction, giving preference to the artillery and placing the dragoons last. For the latter a good square seat for the saddle was deemed of more importance than brains." (1) 

Cool topic #2. In September 1854 Tidball was ordered to Washington DC to become a part of the Coast Survey. The Coast Survey is extremely cool. The Coast Survey was founded in 1807 by Congress and Thomas Jefferson. The agency was founded "as a geodetic survey, designed to create a coastal geodetic triangulation network of stations, occasional carefully measured baselines, and geographic positions based on astronomical observations... [it] was a civilian agency but, from the beginning, officers and men from the US Navy and US Army were detailed to service with the Survey... in general, Army officers worked on topographic surveys on the land and related maps based on the surveys, while Navy officers in general worked on hydrographic surveys in coastal waters." Superintendent Professor Alexander Bache (great grandson of Benjamin Franklin) ordered Tidball to prepare a Congress Map. This was no ordinary map, it was mandated by a special act of Congress. Tidball determined "the object of the map was to show to congressmen at a glance the different stages of progress of the various operations of the survey, from reconnaissances for projected field work to completed charts." Tidball had never performed work like this before but his "composition" met Bache's high standards and it appeared in Bache's Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey Showing the Progress of the Survey during the Year of 1854 as Appendix No. 32 Description of the Congress Map, by Lt JC Tidball, USA, Assistant in Coast Survey (Pgs *61-63). (2)

Cool topic #3. Tidball fought at Antietam. Beyond cool. At some other time I will comment on Tidball's performance at Antietam. For now, I am more concerned with commenting on his performance in the aftermath of Antietam. Tidball was not pleased with the way his horse artillery was deployed during the battle. Not included in his official report to Pleasanton, Tidball wrote an analysis of deficiencies he observed and sent it to Artillery Chief Henry Hunt. He stated "the use of horse batteries being a new thing in our service, does not appear to be very well comprehended by those in whose command they most frequently are assigned... the duties assigned to these batteries at the battle of Antietam could have been performed as well by any other batteries, several of which were close by, unemployed. This would have left the horse batteries free for rapid movement to any parts of the field where a concentration of artillery was hastily required...[to give] a complete instead of Cadmean victory." Tidball was no fan of Pleasanton and the cavalry either. He felt the "saber-swinging dragoons" failed to support the horse artillery. In his analysis he further stated the cavalry was "not armed properly for the support of batteries...[and that] cavalry, for operating with horse artillery, should be armed with muskets or rifles of long range and should dismount and fight as infantry, their horses being used only for locomotion. As it is...as soon as the enemy opens fire the cavalry find themselves of no service and very properly retire. This, when there is no infantry at hand, leaves the batteries at the mercy of any uprising party of the enemy." Although only ranked as a Captain, Tidball was intelligent enough to identify these tactical flaws employed by his superiors and then offer an analytical report to which he flushed out the poor tactics and offered new methods. Ironically, John Buford's employment of dismounted cavalry on July 1 at Gettysburg is renown and Buford has received oodles of praise over the years. (3)

(civilwartalk.com)


1. No Disgrace to my Country: The Life of John C Tidball by Eugene C Tidball, 2002. Pg 51.
2. Tidball pgs 147-149.
The US Coast Survey during the Civil War by John St Cloud, 2011. Pgs 5,6.
3. Tidball pgs 268-269.

"A Fresh Battlefield is a Painfully Interesting Sight..."

"The historian is the traveler, the past is his country---but he must get his material, not from personal observation, but from the writings of those who lived then and who were actors in the events"---Wm. W.B.


William W. Blackford
(findagrave.com)

Captain WW Blackford was born in Fredericksburg, VA on March 23, 1831. During the ages 11-14, Blackford lived in Bogata, New Granada where his father served as charge´ d' affaires. He learned Spanish and perhaps developed his later flair for the big mustache. (1)


Upon returning to Virginia in 1845, Blackford moved to Lynchburg. While residing there, he worked on railroad construction survey crews. Blackford saved enough money to study engineering at the University of Virginia, which gained him employment as a civil engineer during the construction of the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. Blackford was acting chief engineer when the railroad was completed in 1856. (2)

Blackford organized the Washington Mounted Rifles in response to John Brown's Raid at Harpers Ferry in 1859. Elected Lieutenant, Blackford entered this company into Confederate service as part of the 1st VA Cavalry in July 1861. Blackford served as JEB Stuart's aide-de-camp and was promoted to Captain in October 1861. His engineering expertise was utilized during the summer of 1862 when he supervised pontoon bridge construction over the James River. (3)

Being attached to Stuart provided Blackford with the opportunity of viewing a battlefield before and after it was a battlefield. Unlike infantry and artillery, cavalry was one large moving vehicle that roamed the countryside. Blackford used this freedom to study battlefields after the fighting died in order to learn lessons from the battlefield. He stated "I made it a point throughout the war, whenever praticable, to ride over the battlefields immediately after the firing ceased, and acquired much valuable information in this way."(4)

What type of information could be gleaned while sifting through the human wreckage on a field? According to Blackford, everything! Blackford wrote "a battlefield immediately after a battle is always an interesting and instructive study for a soldier. There is to be seen, by the results, the relative strength of positions, and the effect of fire; and nothing cultivates the judgment of topography, in relation to the strategic strength of the position, so well as to ride over the ground while the dead and wounded still remain as they fell. You see exactly where the best effects were produced, and what arm of the service produced them...artillery tears its sheaves out by the roots and scatters the fragments, while infantry mows them down in well heaped windrows." Macabre sightseeing, yes, but this bloody tour offered crucial nuggets to future tactical planning. (5)

On the opposite side of time, Blackford performed many reconnaissances and gave accurate reports to Stuart prior to a battle. Typically, Blackford would take three mounted men and push as close as possible to the Union lines without being detected. He and two men would dismount while the third held the horses and they would use "all cover and inequalities of the ground, until a good view of the enemy could be had from some commanding point." I wonder if John Buford stole this classic defense-in-depth tactic from Blackford. (6)

Stuart so greatly valued the work performed by Blackford during the Seven Days' Battles that in his report he stated "Capt. Wm. W. Blackford of the Engineers...was always in advance, obtaining valuable information of the enemy's strength, movements and position, locating routes and making hurried but accurate topographical sketches. He is bold in reconnaissance, fearless in danger, and remarkably cool and correct in judgment. His services are invaluable to the advance guard of the army." Although I tend to dismiss Stuart's opinions frequently, I will agree with him this time. (7)


Sketch of McClelland's [sic] position July 7th, 1862
(loc.gov)

Although Blackford was already the Chief Engineer on Stuart's staff, he did not receive the proper engineer equipment until Stuart was promoted to Major General in late July 1862. Blackford was issued equipment for making maps and tubes for preserving them as well as a wagon, driver, and horses. (8)

On September 16, Lee tasked Stuart with finding out whether it was the enemy's cavalry or infantry that were appearing on the field near the Confederate left flank. Stuart sent Blackford to perform  this reconnaissance. Blackford set out with his three men and "field glass of unusual size and power." I would like to see this amazing field glass. When the party reached a piece of high ground it dismounted and crawled to about 150 yards from the enemy skirmish line. Initially, Blackford was unable to decipher what branch of service was on the field because the enemy remained hidden behind trees and bushes. However, with his super field glass, Blackford brought into view "the blue trimmings and bayonet scabbards of the infantry soldier and not the yellow of the cavalry." On the 17th, the horse artillery was used but the cavalry was not so Blackford remained posted near the Potomac River. On the evening of the 18th, Stuart told Blackford to "examine the Potomac River in our rear above the regular ford near Shepherdstown, and find, if possible, a ford by which cavalry could cross...that if such a crossing could be found, to place some men at it and station a line of men at intervals of a couple of hundred yards along the route leading to the place so that I could guide a column of cavalry to it in the dark without fail...I found a crossing just below a fish trap where a shallow dam had been built". Later that night, the Confederate army crossed the Potomac back into Virginia at Shepherdstown Ford while Blackford led the cavalry to the fish dam where it too crossed. (9)

Blackford remained with Stuart until January 1864 at which time he was ordered to report to Richmond and appointed Major of the 1st Regiment of Engineers. Although he regretted leaving Stuart, he was now surrounded by fellow civil engineers (Blackford had enormous disdain towards West Point engineers and called them "manufactured soldiers") and enjoyed his work acting as a builder, sapper, miner, etc, until he surrendered at Appomattox. (10)

William W. Blackford
(housedivided.com)
After the war, Blackford worked as an engineer for various railroad companies and as a professor. He wrote his memoirs in the 1890s and experimented with artificially fattening oysters. He died in 1905. (11)

1. www.encyclopediavirginia.org/blackford_w_w_1831-1905.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. War Years With JEB Stuart by William Willis Blackford, 1993. Pg 44.
5. Ibid Pg 44.
6. Ibid Pg 83.
7. Ibid Pg 85.
8. Ibid Pg 88-89.
9. Ibid Pg 149, 152-153.
10. Ibid Pg 249.
11. www.encyclopediavirginia.org/blackford_w_w_1831-1905. 


Sunday, April 21, 2013

It's More Than Just Grass

My next post about DH Hill will cover the battle of South Mountain. After that post, it will be time to explore Hill at Antietam, which is great because it will give me an excuse to ramble on and on and on about my very favorite thing---TERRAIN!!!!!!!!! Lucky for me, Hill's Division was all over the field so I will be able to blend and examine the two, Hill and Terrain, together. In addition, I plan on introducing a few cartographers and topographers that were present at Antietam and shed some light on their contributions. In the meantime, I figured I'd give a synopsis on the science of Civil War cartography and topography.
Recon of ground made by Hooker's 1st Corps. Map made by DC Houston, WA Roebling, WS Long.
(loc.gov)

Topography is the geography of regions or localities considered collectively and in detail. Physical features are NATURAL and divided into relief, that of land and its elevation, and drainage, that of water.  The artificial features made by man are referred to as CULTURAL and added to the natural features for a complete picture of terrain. Terrain is the limited part of land surface on which tactical and strategical operations occur. The description and delineation of terrain and how it affects operations is called military topography. To see what “effect terrain will have on tactical operations...it should be broken down into its natural units, such as a valley, a range of hills, plain or forested area. Analyze each unit to see what effect it will have from both friendly and enemy viewpoints. This analysis should specifically cover concealment, avenues of approach, lines of communication, natural and artificial obstacles, observation and fields of fire for all weapons.”(1)
The job of the Civil War military topographer was to explore and report on a region assigned to him. He had to learn the physical features of the terrain (relief and drainage) and identify and mark the cultural features of the landscape (man made). The combination of the two formed the army’s environment.
Binoculars
(http://www.sharpsburg-arsenal.com/collection/optics/civil-war-binoculars/prod_517.html)

Topography is divided into map reading, topographic sketching, and surveying. For those planning and/or conducting operations, it was essential to have mastered these skills because the time to be worrying about the map was BEFORE the battle, not during or after it.  Since one cannot predict what will happen in active operations, it was better to prepare for every contingency and nothing screamed “prepared” like a  map. However, a map IS an accurate representation of the terrain made with precision instruments. At Antietam, any “maps’ would have been handmade topographic sketches, providing an approximate representation of the terrain. The sketches took the place of nonexistent maps or supplemented the few that existed. Sketches were either of an area or route, and both were categorized as reconnaissance. Area sketches provided specialized information such as enemy camps, terrain features along an outpost line, or a military situation at a given time within a specified area. Route sketches displayed all natural and military features on and in the immediate vicinity of the route passed over or to be taken, such as houses, bridges, and vegetation.(2)
Drawing Instruments
(http://pages.suddenlink.net/topogs/equipment.htm)
The first step in creating a map was measuring distance. There were numerous ways to calculate distance and more popular options included estimation, pacing, triangulation, wheel revolutions, and time. The rope and chain method was used to mark and count small distances. Longer distances were either estimated or paced. For a topographer with average eyesight the following could be estimated with little error---"9-12 miles, church spires; 5-7 miles, windmills; 2-2.5 miles, chimneys; 2000 yards, trunks of large trees; 600 yards, individuals of a column; 500 yards, individual panes of glass in windows; 400 yards, arms and legs of dismounted men." ***Note to yourself---remember 600 and 400 yards, an illustration of this will be shown in a later post***. However, the estimation method was affected by weather, “objects appear to be nearer than they really are when the sun is behind the observer and the object is in a bright light...objects appear to be farther away than they really are when they are up a steep hill from the observer...and when seen across undulating ground.”(3)
Transit- measures elevation
(http://pages.suddenlink.net/topogs/equipment.htm)



Wye Level-establishes land contours
(http://pages.suddenlink.net/topogs/equipment.htm)


After interpreting the terrain, the second part of making the map was representing the survey data in its correct positions and providing a clear picture of the terrain. Based on what information a commander wanted, the data was plotted in such a way that when considered, all relevant pieces were available for examination and a tactical operation could be planned and executed. A good military map had to be accurate, legible (even in poor light), easily understood with conventional symbols, and made on durable paper. In addition, the map was named, dated (to show field work, issue, or revision), and scaled. Each map was drawn at least twice, first in pencil to correct any errors and then in ink for the commander. The drawing board had to be kept dry so as not to ruin the ink drawing. The topographer had to determine which parts of the map he would draw first---if he was right-handed he would start in the upper left corner and work diagonally to the lower right to keep his hand ahead of wet ink thereby avoiding smudges.(4)
Aneroid Barometer- measures differences in elevation
(http://pages.suddenlink.net/topogs/equipment.htm)


The satisfied feeling that came from completing a map was not one the topographer usually got to often enjoy. As soon as the ink dried, the map needed updating. In active military operations the situation was fluid. On the battlefield, a field may be rendered impassable for artillery wagons due to heavy artillery fire or a retreat route may be threatened due to a damaged bridge, a lush forest levelled,  and fortifications or earthworks built/destroyed. Armies traipsing across the land altered every piece of landscape they came in contact with. What once was may no longer be and thus maps needed to reflect the most current information in order to prepare and execute operations.

In regards to terrain, Antietam was full of concealment (hill, ridge, woods, river bank, town), compartments (depression, ravine, sunken lane), obstacles (steep hill, deep ravine, stream), observation points (hill, woods), fields of fire (flat field), and key points (critical natural and cultural features)  that impacted tactical operations.
---Concealment hides men and/or equipment while also taking into consideration the changing appearance of terrain due to the time of day, weather, and season. Not all areas of concealment can be represented on a map due to the terrain's depth. Nonetheless, it is imperative to identify areas of concealment and surmise what could be placed in these areas, by both friendly and enemy forces.
---A compartment is terrain that is high enough to screen from direct fire or observation. Typically, an area of low ground, such as a depression, is enclosed by high ground, such as a rise or hill, and acts as a pocket of security. If a compartment is long and narrow and leads into/behind enemy lines then it is a corridor. If this corridor is situated behind the main line then it is a cross compartment as it funnels men to and fro. Compartments can have one or several exit/entrances. Piper Farm is an excellent example of a terrain compartment (and I can't wait to dive into that!!!). A topographer should have identified areas of concealment and compartment on a map so that a commander could identify what areas needed to be held/taken in order to facilitate troop movements while thwarting enemy movements.
---Obstacles are terrain features which hinder movements and can be natural or cultural. At times, and if used properly, an obstacle can be an asset used against the enemy. Therefore, it is imperative to analyze how an obstacle influences any movements.
---Observation points are located on higher ground BUT not on the crest of a ridge/hill. The function of an observation point is to examine the terrain from friendly and enemy viewpoints without the enemy observing in return.  These points can vary from a hill to woods but must offer a line of sight to inspect whether the terrain helps or hinders.
---Fields of fire are flat fields or crests from which infantry/artillery can directly aim at a target. Not all fields of fire are good for both infantry and artillery so it is necessary to stand on the field to assess the range and then decide on the proper weapon.
---Key points are simply that, a prominent terrain feature that if possessed determines the outcome of the operation. Key points can be natural or cultural.(5)
So that's terrain in a nutshell. From here on out, I will be examining a plethora of locations at Antietam. Each location will be assigned to one (or more) of the above categories and its impact on operations will be explored. 
Piper Farm Compartment

1. Technique of the Terrain; Maps and Their Use in the Field of Peace and War by HA Musham. 1944, pg 171.
2 Musham pg 7-8, 11-12.
3. Musham pg 95.
4. Musham pg 165-166, 169.
5. Musham pg 171-173.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

September 13 (DH Hill Part III)


In an earlier post, "Who Lost South Mountain: Lee or Stuart?", I gave a critical examination of Stuart's actions on September 13. I suggest that post should be read prior to this post since much of the material from that post will not be included here yet is extremely relevant.
                                          
Lee left Hill at Boonsboro on September 11 as he and Longstreet continued towards Hagerstown. As stated in Special Orders #191,--- General DH Hill’s division will form the rear guard of the army, pursuing the road taken by the main body. The reserve artillery, ordnance, and supply trains, &c., will precede General Hill.  Lee expected Hill to catch any Union troops that escaped from Harpers Ferry or Martinsburg. Hill's position at Boonsboro was ideal for this interception. Hill penned in Battles & Leaders, "I was directed to distribute my five brigades so as not only to protect the wagons and guns, but also to watch all the roads leading from Harper's Ferry, in order to intercept the federal forces that might make their escape before Jackson had completed the investment of that place."(1) 

In addition, Lee relied on Hill to aid Stuart with infantry if Stuart requested it. In a September 12 letter to Stuart, Lee wrote, "if you find the enemy intends more than a reconnaissance, and is too strong for your cavalry, Gen. Hill can reinforce you with a brigade of infantry and some artillery...if there is a prospect of drawing the force you mention under Reno, within reach of Hill, so that he can strike at them with his whole force, do so. Keep Hill advised of any movements affecting him."(2)

It seems evident that at no point did the thought of fighting to hold the South Mountain gaps cross Lee's mind. Hill was in a rear-guard position, NOT a position to offer or accept battle. Stuart (in theory) was screening and reconnoitering. If Stuart needed support he was to call upon Hill for it. Eventually Stuart did ask for reinforcements but he did not keep Hill informed about any movements affecting him. Due to Stuart’s ineptitude, as well as Lee’s “audacity”, for all intents and purposes, the Maryland Campaign was lost on September 13. From there on out, it was a matter of survival for the Army of Northern Virginia, and Hill was to become its unlikely savior.

On the afternoon of September 13, Stuart was tasked with slowing or repulsing any Union advance toward South Mountain. Hill, who was ordered by Lee "to dispose of my troops so as to prevent the escape of the Yankees from Harper's Ferry...and also to guard the pass in the Blue Ridge near Boonsborough", believed Stuart was competent enough to handle this assignment without infantry and thus kept his troops near Boonsboro rather than in the mountain’s gaps. However, an unforeseen cavalry engagement between Stuart and Pleasanton caused Stuart to revise his thinking and he "sent a dispatch to me [Hill] saying that he was followed by two brigades of Federal infantry, and asking me to send him a brigade to check the pursuit at South Mountain". Hill sent two brigades, Colquitt and Garland, and kept the remaining three brigades near Boonsboro.(3)

When Colquitt arrived he found Stuart being pushed down the west side of the mountain by Pleasanton. George Grattan, a staff member of Colquitt's, observed that "Colonel Colquitt had a conference on the road-side with General Stuart, at which I, as his aide, was present, and heard what General Stuart said in regard to the advance of the enemy. My distinct recollection is that General Stuart reported that there were no troops following him but cavalry and that Colonel Colquitt would have no difficulty in holding the pass with his brigade. I remember that Colonel Colquitt requested that two companies of Calvary might be left with him for picket duty, but General Stuart thought it unnecessary, and declined to leave them." Near nightfall, and catching sight of the Confederate infantry, Pleasanton halted his advance. Without conducting reconnaissance, Pleasanton's pause caused Stuart to believe Colquitt could hold National Pike with no difficulty.(4)

With nightfall, Grattan recollected Colquitt's "brigade was ordered to move for the night back to the top of the mountain, and pickets were sent out in advance, and also on the two narrow mountain roads leading from the Mountain House at the pass; one to the right and south at Fox's Gap, and the other to the left and north to a narrow pass over the South Mountain...[however]  Colquitt became satisfied that there was a very large force in his front, and he sent a courier with a note to General Hill, giving this information [that] he saw the whole Middletown Valley lighted with camp-fires far in excess of what would have been necessary for the two brigades of cavalry which General Stuart had reported as the only troops following him...[and] these camp-fires continued to increase as the night advanced."(5)

Once Hill received this information from Colquitt he sent a note to Lee informing Lee that the situation at South Mountain was turning into a Situation. Around midnight Hill also ordered Ripley to find Stuart in order to obtain all the information Stuart had about the terrain of the gaps. Stuart wrote he was surprised by Hill's lack of "information concerning roads and gaps in a locality where General Hill had been lying for two days with his command" and that he "cheerfully" provided Ripley with the information and a map. Stuart, furthermore, stated "his [Hill's] troops were duly notified of the advance of the enemy."(6)

The hours 'after midnight' and 'before daylight' on September 14 are a further illustration of Stuart's communication fumbles. Prior to dawn, Stuart had posted some cavalry at Fox's Gap but neglected to tell Hill or Colquitt. Had he informed either men of this, Stuart would have found there already was a force there AND that his assumption of a limited Union force in front of them was in reality the Union army. Having this knowledge, Stuart may not have whisked off to Crampton's Gap but instead would have stayed with Hill at Turner/Fox Gaps, as he was ordered to do so by Lee.(7)

After midnight and prior to sunrise on September 14, Hill was in a pickle. Due to Stuart's pathetic performance, Hill was not yet even aware that he was in a jam. Based on the information Ripley had relayed to Hill from Stuart, Hill made no changes to his division's location. Stuart had given him no reason to. Until Hill could make a  personal reconnaissance and assess the situation for himself, Colquitt's brigade remained at Turner's Gap and Garland's brigade nearby on the western side of the mountain. Hill's other three brigades remained on the roads west of South Mountain yet tasked with the objective of preventing the escape of Union troops from Harpers Ferry and guarding the wagon and artillery trains in Boonsboro.(8)

Next Up---Hill at Dawn on September 14





1.        Battles & Leaders North to Antietam, 1956, pg 560.
2.        To Antietam Creek by D. Scott Hartwig, 2012, pg 296.
3.        Official Reports Vol 19 Part I, pg 1019
Battles & Leaders North to Antietam, 1956, pg 590.
4.        “Battle of Boonsboro Gap or South Mountain” by George Grattan in SHSP 39, 1914, pg 34.
5.        Grattan pg 35-36.
6.        OR Vol 19, Part I, pg 817.
7.        OR Vol 19, Part I, pg 817.
8.        Grattan pg 36.


 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cholera, Typhoid, Amputation...


Sherman
(Samaritanhealth.com)

When I started writing blog entries about the Representatives who fought during the Maryland Campaign, I had Socrates Norton Sherman at the top of my list and planned on writing about him first. I figured finding information on him would be quite easy since he was a doctor and even has his name on the regiment’s monument. Ha! Wrong! Sherman has been the most elusive Representative and it took several months and a few dozen emails to finally locate something more than just a tiny bio about him in the Congressional Biographical Directory.
Sherman was born on July 22, 1801 in Barre, Vermont. He attended Mount Castleton Medical College and graduated in 1824. He moved to Ogdensburg, NY in 1825 and practiced medicine. In June 1832, a cholera epidemic broke out in Canada. New York Governor Enos Throop passed the “Public Health Act” and imposed quarantines along the NY/Canada border. However, within two weeks of the reported Canadian cholera cases, Ogdensburg had its first reported case. During this epidemic, Sherman was the health officer for Ogdensburg. The nature of the illness was not understood at that time so Sherman treated the sick as best he could and recorded all cases of those infected.(1)

In 1860 Sherman was elected as a Representative to the 37th Congress. While yet serving in Congress, he responded to Lincoln’s initial call for troops and entered the military as the Surgeon for the 34th NY on June 15, 1861. Sherman accompanied the 34th NY to Washington DC in July 1861 and remained at the city’s hospitals until August 1861. On September 30, 1861 Sherman wrote about his experience with the 34th NY---
“Reached Washington July 6 and went into camp on Kalorama Heights. There it remained until the 30th, when the sick were ordered to the Georgetown hospital and the regiment to Seneca Mills, Md., where it arrived on August 2. While encamped at Kalorama the diseases were almost exclusively diarrhea and rheumatism, but since it occupied its present location there have been superadded intermittent and remittent fevers, which in a few cases have assumed a typhoid type. I was detained at Washington and did not rejoin my regiment until August 11, when I found it encamped in the Seneca bottom, half a mile from the Potomac. Immediately the camp was removed to an elevation half a mile from and one hundred and fifty feet above the creek and about the same distance from and height about the Potomac. All possible attention has been paid to police regulations. The location is airy and descends in all directions. The water from a spring adjacent is both pure and abundant. The rations furnished are sufficient in quantity and of unexceptionable quality. Ardent spirits are excluded. Among the duties assigned the regiment is that of guarding the river for four miles above and below the camp; this has required the constant services of two companies, with generally four on picket on the banks of the river or the tow-path of the canal. Chills and fever have resulted, but only among those doing guard duty on the river; and of those attacked few fail of a rapid recovery when quinine is liberally used and strict confinement to camp enjoined. As the frosts of autumn approach the number of attacks decrease and the recoveries are more speedy.”(2)
Letterman
(CivilWar.org)
Around this time, Jonathan Letterman designed a new medical system that Sherman would be a part of at Antietam. Treating the wounded during and after a battle was an absolute chaotic nightmare. Men died because they could not be removed from the field in a timely fashion. After observing this tragedy during the Spring/Summer 1862, Letterman stated “the subject of the ambulances became, after the health of the troops, a matter of importance. No system anywhere had been devised for their management. They were under control both of Medical officers and Quartermasters, and, as a natural consequence, little care was exercised over them by either. They could not be depended upon for efficient service in time of action or upon a march...[thus] it was necessary, nevertheless, to devise such a system as would render most available the materials upon the spot without waiting for the arrival.”(3)
In August 1862, Letterman released orders which created an ambulance corps and field hospitals. Dr Potter summed up Letterman’s orders---
“Each division hospital was to organize a staff, consisting of one surgeon in charge; one assistant surgeon as recorder; one assistant surgeon to provide food and shelter; three medical officers to perform operations, each operator to have three assistants; and additional medical officers, according to necessity, to attend the wards, dress the wounds, etc. There was also a chief hospital steward, one chief cook, one ward master, and a few nurses attached to the permanent organization.”
“The ambulances were organized into division trains with a first lieutenant in command and second lieutenants from each brigade as assistants; the entire trains from each corps being commanded by a captain attached to the corps commander’s  staff. A sufficient number of enlisted men were detailed from the ranks to properly man the trains of each division, in the proportion of two men and a driver to each ambulance, and a mounted sergeant from each regiment. A medicine wagon, properly supplied with stimulants, dressings, and medicines for each brigade, also formed a part of the division field-hospital equipment. Each division was provided with a saddler, blacksmith, and a traveling forge, to keep the train in order; and each ambulance was supplied with stretchers, buckets, kettles, lanterns, beef stock, bed-sacks, and kitchen utensils.”(4)
On September 2 McClellan’s Army of the Potomac fell under the medical direction of Letterman. The army was in a wretched condition as the medical officers were exhausted and most supplies had been left at Harrison’s Landing, VA. Pope’s Army of Virginia was not in any better condition having just been whipped at Second Manassas. The two armies met and merged in Washington and within days were quickly turned back out to chase after Lee in Maryland. As a result, the medical officers had no time to replenish their instruments and medicine supplies before they embarked on another campaign. Letterman lamented “the Medical Department of the entire Army had to be reorganized and resupplied while upon a rapid march in different sections of the country, and almost in the face of the enemy.”(5)
When the Army of the Potomac reached Frederick, MD on September 12, Letterman found the Confederates had already cleaned out all medical supplies. Even with this dire setback, Letterman arranged for hospitals to be made in Frederick and ordered supplies from Baltimore. Unfortunately, the suppliers could not meet Letterman’s needs fast enough due to the ruined condition of the railroads between Baltimore and Frederick. To make ends meet, supplies were taken off the rail cars four miles from Frederick and brought into the city by wagons and carts. Incredibly, some rail cars were put off to the side to make room for other cars and the medical supplies contained within were not discovered until much later while other rail cars simply never left Baltimore.(6)
On September 13, the day before the battle of South Mountain, Letterman selected houses and barns in Middletown to be used as hospitals. Sure enough, after the battle the wounded flooded into the area. The ambulances went up the mountain and brought the wounded back down.(7)
On the 15th Letterman passed through Keedysville and began a search for places that could be used as hospitals for the next battle shaping up along Antietam Creek. He had a general idea of McClellan’s battle plan and examined the terrain for ideal spots that were both safe and located near water. He said “the resources of the country for hospital purposes was ascertained as speedily as possible, and, when an idea was given of the nature of the battle, and the positions to be occupied by our troops, instructions were issued to Medical Directors of Corps to form their hospitals, as nearly as possible, by divisions, and at such a distance in the rear of the line of battle as to be secure from the shot and shell of the enemy---to select the houses and barns most easy of access---and, when circumstances permitted, to choose barns well provided with hay and straw, as preferable to houses, since they were better ventilated, and enabled Medical officers to attend a greater number of wounded---to place the wounded in the open air near the barns, rather than in badly-constructed houses---and to have the medical supplies taken to the points indicated.”(8)
Potter further elaborated on the details of hospital preparation when he explained that when battle was looming, the Medical Director of each corps located the site of division hospitals with an eye to safety and access to water. The hospital also needed to be an easy place for the wounded to be brought to. Once the site was chosen, the ambulance wagons pulled up and unloaded. Prior to receiving the first victims of battle, tents were pitched, buckets filled, tables and instruments laid out. Also, the hospital flag was raised and markers were placed along a route from the battlefield to the hospital so those in need wouldn’t get lost.(9)

Hoffman Farm

Hoffman Barn
Closer to the action, on the edge of the battlefield, was located an advance ambulance team with basic items. This team usually worked for a single brigade but on occasion for two if the brigades were small enough. The men of this team quickly determined if a wound could be treated by them at the “field depot” or if the person needed a hospital. Once at the hospital, the recorder made an entry of the wounded soldier (name, rank, company, regiment, nature of the wound, any other notables) and passed the soldier either to a dresser (of wounds) or the operating staff. The recorder would then add to the entry the course of treatment, the outcome of treatment, and daily reports. The daily reports were collected and sent to the Medical Director of the corps who then sent the reports to the Medical Director of the army. Hopefully, any patterns of success or failure would show up in these reports.(10)
This recording system was in use during the Maryland Campaign and in The Medical and Surgical History of the War of Rebellion, five entries were patients of Sherman’s at Antietam. Although full case studies are not provided, it seems Sherman was a competent surgeon since four out of five lived. His patients were---
1.      J Egan, 2nd NY Militia, amputation of right femur, died September 25, 1862.
2.      J Bowers, 69th PA, amputation of right femur, discharged May 15, 1863.
3.      C Ford, 106th PA, amputation of right femur, discharged December 10, 1863.
4.      CF Gage, 15th MA, amputation of left leg, discharged December 10, 1863.
5.      TG Smith, 107th NY, amputation of right leg, discharged December 6, 1862.
All patients were treated at the Susan Hoffman farm on Keedysville Road so it can be assumed that was Sherman’s location during the battle. This hospital provided aid to over 800 Union soldiers, primarily from the II Corps. From the above listings, four out of five soldiers were from the II Corps, as was Sherman, and the fifth was from the XII Corps.(11)
Dr Holt from the 121st NY wrote three entries in his diary that described what it was like to be a doctor in the days and weeks after the battle (Going Out for a Fight entry describes his South Mountain and Antietam experiences)---
On September 25---the soldiers “sleep in the open air. A few brush and boughs thrown over a frame of poles is all they have for shelter. Our hospital is such a structure. When it rains, the water comes down upon the men just the same as if they were in the open air. The consequence is, that sickness is greatly upon the increase...we have one hundred and fifty on the sick list...unless a change takes place soon, deaths will be as frequent as the most cruel enemy wish. We are lacking medicines...”
On October 2- “Surgeon’s Call is sounded and from one hundred and fifty to two hundred patients present themselves for treatment. The time required to attend all this consumes two or three hours and then the hospital has to be visited and those sick in quarters:---that means, those who are too unwell to come up to call, but who are not sick enough to go into the barn which we have taken possession of for a hospital. We have to make from twenty-five to thirty of these calls daily, seeing that the medicines prescribed are faithfully given and that the condition of men are comfortable, &---the diet of the sick in bed is also to be looked to--- Sanitary condition of the camp must be attended to, and a general supervision of the health of the men made and reported.”
On October 15- “Nothing upon or about me indicates a civilian. Everything is warlike:---guns, swords, bayonets, flags, drums, tents and indeed all the eye rests upon is unlike home. I am at this time sitting upon a canister of black tea, with a surgical case upon my lap for a table, writing this amid almost momentary interruption. Someone comes for an excuse from duty---another for relief from guard---another does not feel well enough to attend battalion drill---still another prays for excuse from dress parade, and others want still want their discharge papers made out and sent home. This is all competent for the Surgeon, and these calls are as frequent as every few moments in the day.”(12)
Even after the battle there was still the vexing problem of getting supplies from Baltimore to the battlefield. Any and all supplies in Frederick were needed at the Antietam hospitals. Luckily, at no time did the Medical Corps run dry. With the establishment of the Sharpsburg depot by the Sanitary Commission, supplies were continually replenished through the middle of October. Wagons unloaded at the depot and from there the goods were distributed among the battlefield hospitals. Since Letterman had such a difficult time getting supplies from Baltimore, the Commission was able to distribute supplies donated to it in the Medical Department’s stead. Typically, the route was from Philadelphia-Hagerstown-Sharpsburg. The Commission donated generously to every hospital within three miles of the battlefield regardless of where the soldier was from.  The Inspector of the Sanitary Commission, Lewis H Steiner, proudly wrote in his report that “I am pleased to state that the true relation of the Sanitary Commission to the Medical Department was fully recognized and appreciated as a body designed to supplement and not supplant the regular operations of the Army [as] the medical officers of the Army united with our officers in the proper disposal of our supplies.”(13)
Steiner also realized that the Sharpsburg depot was a huge success and quickly considered “an institution.” He sought ways to make it a permanent part of the Army’s medical operation. Furthermore, Steiner envisioned a future permanent partnership with the military Medical Department in a role where the Sanitary Commission hoped “to supply the want by details made from the private practitioners of our large cities...[as] demands for aid of this kind have been responded to by a rush of professional volunteers...[so that] a certain number of experienced surgeons, who would be willing to respond to such calls, and in whom the utmost reliance might be placed by the medical officers.”(14)
Letterman, too, was busy after the campaign ended. On October 4, he issued a medical supply chart for field service. Each brigade was allowed one full hospital wagon, one medicine chest per regiment, a hospital knapsack for each regimental Medical officer, designated supplies to be transported by a four-horse wagon. The brigade Surgeon was responsible for all supply receipts, issuing supplies to regiment Medical officers, and keeping the keys to the medicine chest!!!(15)
Overall, Letterman was happy with the results of the ambulance system he implemented prior to the campaign. In his 1866 Medical Recollections, Letterman wrote “it will be perceived that the ambulance system, with that of supplies and of field hospitals, were ordered as essentials of that new organization from which, I earnestly hoped, the wounded and sick would receive more careful attendance and more skillful treatment...[and] all the arrangements that time permitted to carry out the instructions contained in the system I had established; and with the hearty cooperation given me by the ablest Medical officers of the Army, I felt, in the event of a battle, this Department would be better able than ever, to discharge the duties devolving upon it.”(16)
On March 6, 1863 Sherman left the 34th NY. He was discharged for promotion and served with the US Volunteers Medical Staff until October 7, 1865. This staff consisted of surgeons who were above the regimental surgeons and who usually served in hospitals or were in charge of brigades. Sherman spent the time between 1863-1865 as the Surgeon-In-Charge at Grafton Hospital in West Virginia. He served only one term in Congress and never ran for reelection. After the war he returned to Ogdensburg and continued practicing medicine until he died on February 1, 1873.

1. www.samaritanhealth.com/library.htm Newsletter No. 45 June 2009.
2. The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, GPO 1870-88, Vol 1 Part 3 Pg 360-361.
3. Medical Recollections of the Army of the Potomac by Jonathan Letterman, 1866. Pg 22-23.
4. Reminiscences of Field-Hospital Service with the Army of the Potomac by William W Potter MD, 1889. Pg 9-10.
5. Letterman Pg 33-34.
6. Letterman Pg 35.
7. Letterman Pg 36.
8. Letterman Pg 39.
9. Potter Pg 10.
10. Potter Pg 11.
11. The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, GPO 1870-88, Vol 2 Part 3 Pgs 246, 248, 259, 516, 533.
Historic American Buildings Society, Hoffman Farm, HABS No. MD-961, 1991, Martha Wagner.
12. A Surgeon’s Civil War: The Letters and Diary of Daniel M Holt, MD by James M Greiner, 1994. Pgs 29-32, 37.
13. Letterman Pg 40-41.
Report of Lewis H Steiner, Inspector of the Sanitary Commission, Containing a Diary kept During the Rebel Occupation of Frederick, MD, 1862. Pgs 35-36.
14. Steiner Pg 38.
15. Letterman Pg 52-55.
16. Letterman Pg 63-64.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Lost Dispatch (DH Hill Part II)

On September 2, only a day after the Second Manassas Campaign ended, Lee was contemplating further offensive action. In Bethel to Sharpsburg, Hill explained Lee’s two options consisted of the first, “to retire further into Virginia and await Federal initiative; the other, to relieve Southern territory of harassment and distress by carrying the war into Maryland, and possibly into Pennsylvania.” Hill, always the fighter, approved this aggressive behavior and remarked Lee “wisely dismissed” retiring and instead opted for “the occupation of Maryland...[as to] enable Lee to hold his desired aggressive, and possibly force a decisive battle before the Federal army could assimilate its new organizations.”(1)
In a letter to Jefferson Davis on September 3, Lee indicated the reason for this offensive action was that it seemed “to be most propitious time since the commencement of the war for the Confederate army to enter Maryland. The two grand armies of the United States that have been operating in Virginia, though now united, are much weakened and demoralized... [and if it was] ever desired to give material aid to Maryland and afford her an opportunity of throwing off the oppression to which she is now subject, this would seem the most favorable. Without waiting for a response from Richmond, the rebels began crossing the Potomac on September 4.(2)
By September 7 the bulk of Lee’s army was concentrated in and around Frederick, MD. Lee had accomplished the first objective of crossing “the Potomac east of the Blue Ridge, in order, by threatening Washington and Baltimore, to cause the enemy to withdraw from the south bank, where his presence endangered our communications.” Lee’s next step was “to move the army into Western Maryland, establish our communications with Richmond through the Valley of the Shenandoah, and, by threatening Pennsylvania, induce the enemy to follow, and thus draw him from his base of supplies.” Thus far, the communication line had been running from Richmond-Gordonville-Culpeper to Warrenton. For this campaign, Lee wanted it changed from Richmond-Gordonville-Culpeper-Luray to Winchester with Winchester acting as the main depot. However, there was one hitch that complicated any future movements by the Confederates.(3)
Hill summed up the military situation facing Lee in Frederick, “Lee had naturally expected that, when his army appeared in the direction of Frederick, the Federal troops at Harpers Ferry and Martinsburg would be withdrawn, as his movement would leave them in an indefensible pocket. In this he was disappointed...these forces were left in their exposed positions. This unexpected departure from military rules requiring the relief of a hopeless position, complicated future movements. General Lee had now to decide whether he should ignore the menace of hostile forces squarely seated on his supply roads from the Valley and adhere to his original plan of a speedy concentration behind the South Mountains, or whether to stay his march long enough to capture the large garrison at Harpers Ferry before proceeding. If he left this force unmolested, there was of course the probability that with large reinforcements it would be a constant menace to his communications; if he stayed his march long enough to capture this stronghold, he would again have to divide his army in the immediate presence of a numerically superior army and again run the serious risk of having each division overwhelmed separately.”(4)

Best Farm
On September 9 Lee held a war council at Best Farm (currently a part of Monocacy National Battlefield) with Jackson and Longstreet. It was during this meeting that the outline of Special Orders #191 was developed. In his Official Report, Lee justified his decision for splitting the army because “it had been supposed that the advance upon Fredericktown would lead to the evacuation of Martinsburg and Harper’s Ferry, thus opening the line of communication through the Valley, this not having occurred, it became necessary to dislodge the enemy from those positions before concentrating the army west of the mountains.” As a result, in order to continue the invasion of Maryland, along with the goal of getting as far north as Pennsylvania, Lee formulated a plan that would divide his army. Lee saw no danger in this division because “the advance of the Federal army was so slow at the time we left Fredericktown as to justify the belief that the reduction of Harper’s Ferry would be accomplished and our troops concentrated before they would be called upon to meet it.” Once rid of the Union forces at Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry, the Confederate communication line would be secure. After the reduction, Lee’s army could reunite and continue on its merry way to Pennsylvania to force a battle with the Union. Hill penned “therefore, Special Orders No. 191, afterwards famous as the ‘lost dispatch,’ sent his [Lee's] army westward from Frederick on September 10 to undertake by rapid movements the capture of Harpers Ferry, and a subsequent concentration behind the South Mountains.”(5)
Special Orders No. 191  Hdqrs.
Army of Northern Virginia, September 9, 1862

1.      The citizens of Fredericktown being unwilling while overrun by members of this army, to open their stores, in order to give them confidence, and to secure to officers and men purchasing supplies for benefit of this command, all officers and men of this army are strictly prohibited from visiting Fredericktown except on business, in which cases they will bear evidence of this in writing from division commanders, the provost-marshal in Fredericktown will see that his guard rigidly enforces this order.

2.      Major Taylor will proceed to Leesburg, Virginia, and arrange for transportation of the sick and those unable to walk to Winchester, securing the transportation of the county for this purpose. The route between this and Culpeper Court-House east of the mountains being unsafe, will no longer be traveled. Those on the way to this army already across the river will move up promptly; all others will proceed to Winchester collectively and under command of officers, at which point, being the general depot of this army, its movements will be known and instructions given by commanding officer regulating further movements.

3.      The army will resume its march tomorrow, taking the Hagerstown road. General Jackson’s command will form the advance, and, after passing Middletown, with such portion as he may select, take the route toward Sharpsburg, cross the Potomac at the most convenient point, and by Friday morning take possession of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, capture such of them as may be at Martinsburg, and intercept such as may attempt to escape from Harpers Ferry.

4.      General Longstreet’s command will pursue the same road as far as Boonsborough, where it will halt, with reserve, supply, and baggage trains of the army.

5.      General McLaws, with his own division and that of General RH Anderson, will follow General Longstreet. On reaching Middletown will take the route to Harpers Ferry, and by Friday morning possess himself of the Maryland Heights and endeavor to capture the enemy at Harpers Ferry and vicinity.

6.      General Walker, with his division, after accomplishing the object in which he is now engaged, will cross the Potomac at Cheek’s Ford, ascend its right bank to Lovettsville, take possession of Loundon Heights, if practicable, by Friday morning, Key’s Ford on his left, and the road between the end of the mountain and the Potomac on his right. He will, as far as practicable, cooperate with General McLaws and Jackson, and intercept retreat of the enemy.

7.      General DH Hill’s division will form the rear guard of the army, pursuing the road taken by the main body. The reserve artillery, ordnance, and supply trains, &c., will precede General Hill.

8.      General Stuart will detach a squadron of cavalry to accompany the commands of Generals Longstreet, Jackson, and McLaws, and, with the main body of the cavalry, will cover the route of the army, bringing up all stragglers that may have been left behind.

9.      The commands of General Jackson, McLaws, and Walker, after accomplishing the objects for which they have been detached, will join the main body of the army at Boonsborough or Hagerstown.

10.  Each regiment on the march will habitually carry its axes in the regimental ordnance-wagons, for use of the men at their encampments, to procure wood &ct.

By command of General RE Lee
    RH Chilton, Assistant Adjutant General(6)




McClellan's Copy of the Lost Orders
(NPS)

After the meeting ended, Lee had RH Chilton formally draw up the orders and, from the original order, make seven copies for Jackson, Longstreet, McLaws, Stuart, Taylor, Walker and Davis. Chilton was not instructed to make a copy for Hill so how is it that not one, but two, copies were made for him?
1.      Up until this time, September 9, Hill fell under Jackson’s command and received his orders directly from Jackson. Once Jackson received his copy of the orders he secretly wrote another copy and sent it to Hill since SO#191 removed Hill from Jackson’s command and placed Hill on a special assignment and under Lee’s direct command. Hill received the copy Jackson made for him and put it in his pocket.
2.      Thinking along the same lines in regards to Hill’s status as defined by the orders, Chilton made a copy of SO#191 for Hill and sent it to him. According to SO#191, Hill was an independent commander, and thus entitled to receive his own copy of orders from headquarters. No one told Chilton to make a copy for Hill, he did it on his own accord. Hill never received Chilton’s copy.
On September 10, the SO#191 went into effect and the Confederates began moving out of Frederick to their assigned destinations.(7)
Chilton
(CivilWar.org)
On September 13, the Army of the Potomac reached Frederick. As the skirmish line of the 27th Indiana pushed through the abandoned Confederate camps, Private (although perhaps Corporal) Barton W Mitchell found a copy of SO#191 wrapped around three cigars in a field. In 1892, (then First Sergeant) Captain John M Bloss told the story of how the dispatch was found. Bloss stated “on the 13th we expected an engagement as we pushed forward to Frederick. That morning Company F, 27th Indiana, was placed on the skirmish line in front of our brigade...and when the opportunity afforded itself, we threw ourselves upon the grass to rest. While lying there, I noticed just beyond Corporal Barton W Mitchell, with whom I was conversing, a large envelope, and through curiosity asked him to give it to me. It was not sealed, and on taking it up, two cigars and a paper fell out...I began to read the enclosed document. As I read, each line became more interesting. It was Lee’s order to his army giving his plans for the next four days from that time.” Mitchell and Bloss took this treasure to their Colonel, Silas Colgrove, who then delivered it to Headquarters. This copy originated from Lee’s headquarters and was signed by Chilton and addressed to Hill. It was authenticated by Colonel Samuel E Pittman who was familiar with Chilton’s signature due to professional banking transactions in Michigan prior to the war. Now, McClellan had Lee’s plans in his hands (how McClellan responded will be in a future entry).(8)
So, how did a copy of SO#191 manage to get “lost” and remain in a field near Frederick waiting to be discovered by a group of tired skirmishers? As soon as stories about the “lost dispatch” appeared in newspapers, courtesy of McClellan, Hill became the scapegoat since his name was on the orders. There is no doubt two copies of SO#191 had been prepared for Hill. He had received the copy from Jackson but never the one from Chilton. It was not until McClellan’s Official Report was published stating that Hill was the intended recipient of the found copy of SO#191 did Hill even believe that this “lost dispatch” was addressed to him. Again, Hill denied ever receiving Chilton’s copy. It has been suggested that the error lie not with Hill but with Colgrove. Colgrove stated “we [27th IN] stacked arms on the same ground that had been occupied by General DH Hill’s division the evening before” thus giving further ownership to Hill by stating it was Hill’s former campsite where the “lost dispatch” was found. In 1868 General SW Crawford authored a letter that told a different story. According to Crawford, on September 13 he was informed by one of McClellan’s staff the “lost dispatch” had been found almost where Crawford was presently standing, and that was on AP Hill’s former campsite. In agreement with Crawford, RB Marcy (McClellan’s Chief of Staff) also composed a letter in 1868 and penned “I am of the opinion that the order of Lee that you inquire about was found in the camp which had been occupied by AP Hill and not DH Hill.” Not wishing to besmirch the reputation of his fallen comrade AP Hill, Hill didn’t publish the contents of these letters.(9)
In Lost Cause by EA Pollard, Pollard wrote an inflammatory paragraph that incensed Hill to no end. Pollard declared “a copy of the order directing the movement of the army from Frederick had been sent to DH Hill; and this vain and petulant officer, in a moment of passion, had thrown the paper on the ground. It was picked up by a Federal soldier, and McClellan thus strangely became possessed of the exact detail of his adversary’s plan of operations.” In response to Pollard, Hill provided a detailed explanation as to why Pollard was incorrect, and incompetent. In The Land We Love, Hill asserted “if I petulantly threw down this order, I deserved not merely to be cashiered, but to be shot to death with musketry...there is not the shadow of truth in his charge, and he has therefore perpetrated a gross and unprovoked slander.” Hill further argued “General McClellan states that a dispatch, of General Lee, directed to me was found near Frederick, Maryland, and that he gained most important information from it. There can be no doubt then, that such a dispatch was lost. But it is obviously unfair to assume that a paper with my name on the envelope was necessarily lost by me in person. Might it not have been lost in Gen. Lee’s own office? Might it not have been dropped by his courier in carrying it to me? As the Adjutant is the keeper of all orders, might it not have been lost by my Adjutant? Who has the right to assume that the loss was through my own carelessness? Who, without evidence, can presume to charge me with throwing it down in a fit of passion?” As far as Hill was concerned, he was under Jackson’s command. He drew all supplies and received all orders from Jackson. Therefore, receiving a copy from Jackson was not only typical but expected. Receiving an order from someone else, such as Chilton, would have been atypical. Hill maintains “it was right and proper that I should have received this order from Jackson, and from no one else, and I have no recollection of getting one from General Lee’s office direct. My Quarter-master, Major John D Rogers, writes to me that while at Frederick, he received all orders in regard to his wagon train, supplies, &c., through General Jackson’s Quarter-master. It seems to me utterly incomprehensible that all orders should have come through the usual official channels, except this one, the most important of all.”(10)
150 years later and there is still no definitive answer as to who was responsible for losing a copy of SO#191 in a field. No doubt though, this debacle tarnished Hill’s reputation and his adversaries used it against him. Rather than blame Lee for questionable decisions such as dividing his army, Hill was blamed for losing the orders thereby causing Lee to lose the Maryland Campaign. But Hill did not lose the campaign for Lee. In fact, because of Hill, Lee was granted time to reunite his divided army and continue on with the invasion of Maryland.

Next Up--- Hill & September 13 (Part III)

1.        Bethel to Sharpsburg Vol 2 by DH Hill, 1926, pg 326-327.
2.        Official Reports Vol 19 Part 2, pg 590-591.
3.        Official Reports Vol 19 Part 1, pg 145.
Bethel to Sharpsburg, pg 334.
4.        Bethel to Sharpsburg pg 335-336
5.        OR/19/1 pg 145.
Bethel to Sharpsburg pg 337.
6.        OR/19/2 pg 603-604.
7.        The Lost Orders by National Park Service, pg 3.
8.        “Antietam and the Lost Dispatch” by Captain John M Bloss in War Talks in Kansas, 1906, pg 83-84.
Battles & Leaders North to Antietam, 1956, pg 603.
9.        “Lost Dispatch” by DH Hill in The Land We Love February 1868, pg 274.  
Battles & Leaders pg  603.
Lee’s Maverick General by Hal Bridges, 1991, pg  97.
10.     The Lost Cause by EA Pollard, 1868, pg 314.
Lost Dispatch pg 273-275.