America’s Civil War, March 2006

by Brett Schulte on January 3, 2006 · 0 comments

The following is a short summary of the March 2006 issue of America’s Civil War. ACW is of a little lower quality than North & South and Blue & Gray. It is virtually identical to Civil War Times Illustrated at this point, because both magazines are published by Primedia. There are no end notes for the articles, although the maps are definitely improving over the quality of even a few years ago. I’m not particularly fond of the lack of footnotes. Despite these shortcomings, good authors still find their way into ACW’s pages. Eric Wittenberg and J.D. Petruzzi, who guest blog for me from time to time, are two examples. In fact, J.D. has an article in this month’s issue focusing on Elijah White, the leader of the 35th Battalion Virginia Cavalry. Other articles of particular interest to me include the two articles featuring the fighting in the east after the Overland Campaign. The first, by Gordon Berg, tells the story of the brave USCT soldiers who assaulted New Market Heights on September 29, 1864 as part of Ben Butler’s two-pronged plan to smash through the weakly held defenses southeast of Richmond. The second, by Jonathan A. Noyalas, covers the Confederate disaster at Fisher’s Hill, only a few days after the defeat at Third Winchester in September 1864.
Page 10
Personality: Bushrod Johnson by Ronald G. Domer
Bushrod Johnson, an Ohio Quaker, served in the Mexican War and later fought for the Confederacy when war broke out in 1861. Domer describes Johnson’s career as “often baffling”, and the general seemed to take one step forward, and one step back. He ended the war on a down note after being relieved of duty by General Lee after the debacle at Sailor’s Creek. Despite these ups and downs, the author says that Johnson was “a kind gentleman who cared for his sickly son and who won the affection of the men of his brigade.”
Page 12
Eyewitness to War: Benjamin Butler Stone by Steven C. Pearson
In this issue’s “Eyewitness to War”, we learn of a harrowing ordeal endured by Benjamin Butler Stone, a civilian in charge of Franz Sigel’s ammunition train. Stone had been ordered to find Sigel and deliver ammunition to the Army of Virginia’s I Corps on August 25, 1862. Stone stuck with his assignment and did manage to refill the cartridge boxes of Sigel’s men before joining in the general retreat to the Manassas-Centreville area.

Page 14
Men and Materiel: The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad by Larry E. Johnson
This is the story of John Garrett, the Virginia-born President of the B&O, who kept his railroad running for the North despite his original Southern leanings. I found particularly interesting the situation in the early days of 1861. Virginia had not yet seceded, and Stonewall Jackson, in charge of Virginia units near Harper’s Ferry, actually allowed the B&O Railroad to carry supplies through the Virginia town on the way to Washington, D.C. Stonewall changed his tune on the day Virginia seceded, however. He managed to trap a large number of B&O locomotives and rolling stock and sent them south to Richmond for Confederate use.
Page 18
From The Yazoo Mud by Christopher Kennelley
Kennelley’s article covers the U.S.S. Cairo (pronounced CAY-ro or CARE-Oh for you non-Egyptians). The ironclad gunboat was one of Eads’ “City Series” boats, but disaster struck in the Yazoo River near Vicksburg on December 12, 1862, when the Cairo struck two Confederate torpedoes and went down shortly thereafter. The Yazoo’s mud covered and preserved the ironclad for future generations, and a team led by well-known Vicksburg historians Ed Bearss and Warren Grabau recovered the ship in the 1960’s. It was partially restored and sits today in Vicksburg National Military Park, where visitors (including myself just last year) can walk through the ironclad and visit the museum next door which features many of the relics found within the ship’s hull when she was raised.
Page 26
Embattled Courage at New Market Heights by Gordon Berg
This article was very interesting to me personally because it is a part of the little-known Petersburg Campaign. On September 29, 1864, Benjamin Butler’s Army of the James launched a two-pronged attack from their Deep Bottom bridgehead designed to punch a hole in the Confederate works southeast of Richmond. The right side of this attack consisted of the two X Corps divisions under Major General David Birney, and the XVIII Corps Division of USCT (United States Colored Troops) under Brigadier General Charles J. Paine. Paine’s Division spearheaded the attack on New Market Heights, a lightly defended but extremely formidable position north of Deep Bottom. The USCT regiments involved in the attack struggled uphill through difficult terrain, but their courage and dedication under fire eventually won the day. Fourteen African-Americans won the Medal of Honor for their deeds in this single action. More importantly, New Market Heights showed the white veterans that their black counterparts could and would fight well for the cause.
Page 34
False Gibraltar at Fisher’s Hill by Jonathan A. Noyalas
In late September, 1864, Jubal Early’s Valley Army was on the run. They had just lost to Phil Sheridan’s Union force at Third Winchester on September 19, 1864. The Confederates needed a place to regroup, and Fisher’s Hill seemed to be that place. It was a strong position that dominated the Shenandoah Valley and blocked Sheridan’s pursuit. Unfortunately for the Confederates, they no longer had enough men to adequately man the line. To make matters worse, the untrustworthy Confederate Valley Cavalry manned the left flank, and George Crook’s Federal VIII Corps slammed into this flank on September 22, 1864. The end result was surprisingly light fighting and a Confederate disaster. Apparently Sheridan tried to claim too much credit for the victory after the war, and former friends Sheridan and Crook fought for the rest of their lives over who came up with the flank attack at Fisher’s Hill.
Page 42
‘He Rides Over Everything In Sight’ by J.D. Petruzzi
J.D. Petruzzi, occasional guest blogger here at ACW Gaming & Reading and cavalry expert, is the author of this look at Elijah Viers “Lige” White and his 35th Battalion Virginia Cavalry. White and his men had quite the exciting run during the war, operating alternately as Partisans in the Loudoun Valley and as regulars in the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. White and his men were certainly feared in their days as Partisans, wreaking havoc on unsuspecting Yankee camps. They also participated in the Antietam and Gettysburg Campaigns, including the largest cavalry battle in the western hemisphere at Brandy Station. White was well-known to both friends and foes alike, suffering several serious wounds during his service to the Confederacy.
Page 50
Commands: 6th Louisiana
The 6th Louisiana served in Richard Taylor’s Brigade during the 1862 Valley Campaign, and from there went on to participate in most of the Army of Northern Virginia’s battles. Many of the original recruits were born in Ireland, though several companies were composed of men of native or German descent. The Brigade earned the nickname of Tigers in many fights, and the two Louisiana Brigades in the ANV were consolidated into one just after the Battle of the Wilderness. The 6th and its sister regiments fought on in the 1864 Valley Campaign and at Petersburg.
Page 58
Books reviewed in this issue:

1. McClellan’s
War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union
by Ethan
S. Rafuse

2. Team
of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
by Doris Kearns

Reviews in Brief

1. Black
Jack Logan: An Extraordinary Life in Peace and War

by Gary Ecelbarger

2. War
Governor of the South: North Carolina’s Zeb Vance in the Confederacy

by Joe A. Mobley

3. River
Runs Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the American Civil War

by Andrew Ward

4. Ironclad:
The Epic Calamitous Loss, and Historic Recovery of the
by Paul Clancy

5. Loss
of the Sultana and Reminiscences of Survivors

ed. by Chester D. Berry

6. Bouquets
From The Cannon’s Mouth: Soldiering With The Eighth Pennsylvania Reserves

by Robert E. Eberly, Jr.

7. A
Melancholy Affair: The Vermont Brigade, June 23, 1864

by David Faris Cross

8. Silent
Sentinels: A Reference Guide to the Artillery at Gettysburg
George W. Newton

Page 66
Preservation by Kim A. O’Connell
Fisher’s Hill battlefield is in mostly pristine condition, but a proposed enlargement of I-81 (which runs through the Valley) looms.

Check out Beyond the Crater: The Petersburg Campaign Online for the latest on the Siege of Petersburg!

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