Eyewitness to War by Kevin M. Levin
Captain John C. Winsmith, a South Carolinian serving with the 1st South Carolina Infantry, describes in a letter home the severe fighting in the Wilderness and at Spotsylvania Court House. Winsmith took command of his regiment in the Wilderness, and though his regiment faltered, he led them into a stand up fight with the enemy for an hour. At Spotsylvania, Winsmith’s brigade fought off several attacks and reinforced the II Corps line during the massive Federal assault of May 12 on the Mule Shoe salient. Winsmith was later wounded at Peebles’ Farm on September 29, 1864 during Grant’s Fifth Offensive of the Petersburg Campaign, and ended the war as a brigadier general of South Carolina militia in 1865.
Personality by Steven L. Ossad
The Terrill brothers of Virginia are discussed in this edition of Personality. The eldest son, William Rufus Terrill, attended West Point and later chose to stay with the Union during the war. After first serving as a Captain of a Regular artillery battery, Terrill soon was promoted to Brigadier General and took command of a green brigade just before the Battle of Perryville in October 1862. It was at Perryville leading his new troops that Terrill was hit by an artillery shell, where he died later that night. His brothers and his father all sided with the Confederacy. One brother, James Barbour Terrill, served with the 13th Virginia with much praise, eventually commanding that regiment as a colonel. James was in temporary command of Pegram’s Brigade in June 1864 when he was killed leading an attack at Bethesda Church. He was posthumously promoted to Brigadier General to date from May 31, 1864. The Terrills’ younger brother Philip Mallory Terrill was killed late in the war near Cedar Creek, Virginia. Only George P. Terrill survived the war out of the four siblings. Their father erected a monument to his three fallen sons with the inscription: “This monument erected by their father. God Alone Knows Which Was Right.”
A Letter From America’s Civil War
In this version of what I can only conclude is a replacement for an editor’s note, entitled “Message From the Ether”, the mass grave of one known and 53 unknown soldiers is discussed. The author (the editor?) ruminates on the lack of personal identification in the Civil War period, and the fact that this lack of identification on dead bodies throughout the war led to numerous unknown fates and unmarked graves.
‘Balaklava’ In An Antietam Cornfield by T. Jeff. Driscoll
The 7th Maine, an already under strength regiment at 225 men at the start of the Antietam Campaign, was asked by their new brigade commander Colonel William H. Irwin to charge the Confederate lines on the northern part of the Antietam battlefield long after the main fighting had ended. In what could only end badly, Major Thomas W. Hyde bravely led his men into combat. They faced portions of no less than four Confederate brigades, losing 95 men out of 181 engaged. The Lt. Colonel commanding the 4th Vermont asked to go in to support the Maine men, but his brigade commander, William T. H.. Brooks, forbid it as too dangerous. In the end, the one regiment attack failed, and only one officer in the entire 7th Maine escaped untouched. Division commander Baldy Smith and Corps commander William Franklin praised Hyde and his regiment. Colonel Irwin, known to be fond of whiskey, was relieved from command shortly after the battle. Incredibly, Irwin later received a promotion based on his conduct at Antietam. Major Hyde more deservedly won the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.
Comrades Across Conflict: Harry & Burn by Gerard A. Patterson
Henry Heth and Ambrose Burnside, “Harry and Burn”, became friends at West Point and remained so for life, even through their struggles in the Civil War. Heth and Burnside were apparently well known at West Point as pranksters. Despite this, Burnside finished in the middle of his class, though Heth finished 38th…out of 38 cadets. The two men were separated in the army, with Burnside going into the artillery an Heth the infantry. Both were involved in the Mexican War. After that conflict ended Burnside tried to market a breechloading carbine he had designed, and Heth wrote a manual describing a system of target practice. During the Civil War, both men suffered failures, Burnside at Fredericksburg and The Crater, Heth notably at Gettysburg. Despite the terrible conflict, the two men reunited after the war “as though nothing had happened to separate us.” Burnside seemed to have more success immediately after the war than his friend, and in his influential positions he managed to help Heth in various ways.
Lieutenant Burnside’s Hour of Glory by Wayne R. Austerman
Ambrose Burnside is today known mainly for the debacle at Fredericksburg and for adding the term “sideburns” to the English language. However, Burnside showed some tactical flair in Tecolote, New Mexico in the late 1840’s. A band of Apache Indians had approached the town under a flag of truce, but they became belligerent after seeing Burnside’s small artillery force of 40 men. Burnside knew that attempting to hold off the Apache with his artillery would result in a defeat, so he had his men mounted on the artillery horses and had them charge the Indians with their Model 1840 Light Artillery sabers. The Apache, expecting an easy victory, were greatly surprised and lost numerous casualties in what turned into a rout.
A Hard Knock for Heth by Gerard A. Patterson
Harry Heth’s division opened the battle of Gettysburg against John Buford’s Federal cavalry on July 1, 1863. While in command, Heth was hit on the side of the head by a minie ball which knocked the general unconscious. This wound disabled Heth enough to take him out of the rest of the battle. J. Johnston Pettigrew took his place. In this article, Gerard Patterson provides a bit of background before presenting Heth’s September 1863 report of his division’s activities on July 1..
‘We will outstretch you, fall upon your flank and rout you’ by Ethan S. Rafuse
On April 2, 1865, the Federal VI Corps managed to break through the Confederate lines southwest of Petersburg. A large force consisting of four Confederate brigades under the command of Harry Heth were cut off from the main Confederate army defending Petersburg and Richmond. This force moved north and west in the direction of Sutherland Station along the South Side Railroad, but Heth soon learned that A. P. Hill had been killed, and he was now in command of the Confederate Third Corps. This left Brigadier General John R. Cooke in charge of the approximately 4,000 man Rebel force. Pursuing these men were the nearly 8,000 troops of Nelson A. Miles’ II Corps division. The II Corps had been roughly handled during the Overland and Petersburg Campaigns, and the men of Miles’ Division wanted to get in some shots at the Confederates as pay back. Miles, eager to drive the Confederates away, launched unsupported frontal attacks on the enemy lines. The brigades of Madill and Nugent made these two attacks. Eventually, Miles used those units to hold Cooke in place, sent skirmishers to distract and stretch the Confederate right, and sent the men of Ramsey’s Brigade on a flanking attack that drove in the Confederate left and won the battle. Only Cooke’s own brigade stayed together as a cohesive unit in the aftermath of the battle. The other three brigades disintegrated in the confusion that followed. Miles’ effort was one of several related drives that forced Lee to abandon Petersburg and Richmond that night.
Men & Materiel: Identification Disks by Joseph Stahl
Joseph Stahl writes a brief article on identification stamps used by Union and Confederate soldiers during the war, almost always bought to identify their bodies if they were killed in battle. One other use was to send a disk home to loved ones as a memento. Several disks from Mr. Stahl’s collection are also pictured.
Between Two Valleys by John J. Fox III
The men of Thomas’ Georgia Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia had hoped to spend the winter of 1863-1864 in their camps near Culpeper Court House, but something else entirely was in store. From the middle of December to early February the brigade, including the 35th Georgia, spent time in the Shenandoah Valley and also mountainous West Virginia chasing raiders, trying to stop Federal excursions into the Shenandoah, and moving on Petersburg, West Virginia. By the time the cold and weary Rebels made it back to their camps it was March, and fighting would begin again soon.
Commands: 9th Tennessee Infantry by James R. Fleming
The 9th Tennessee saw hard service throughout the war in the Western Theater, and spent much of that time consolidated with the 6th Tennessee. The 9th participated in the following battles, Belmont (in reserve), Shiloh, Perryville, Stone’s River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga (in reserve), Atlanta Campaign, Franklin, Nashville, and Bentonville, finally surrendering with Joe Johnston’s Army at Bennett Place, North Carolina on April 26, 1865.
Books reviewed in this issue:
1. Major General Isaac Ridgeway Trimble: Biography of a Baltimore Confederate by Leslie R. Tucker
2. Furious, Insatiable Fighter: A Biography of Major General Isaac Ridgeway Trimble, C.S.A. by David C. Trimble
3. Banners South: A Northern Community at War by Edmund J. Raus Jr.
4. Horses of Gettysburg narrated by Ronald F. MaxwellReviews in Brief:
1. Dear Mr. Lincoln: Letters to the President by Harold Holzer
2. The Southern Journey of a Civil War Marine: The Illustrated Note-Book of Henry O. Gusley by Edward T. Cotham Jr.
3. The Battle of Hampton Roads: New Perspectives on the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia edited by Harold Holzer and Tim Mulligan
4. The 48th Pennsylvania in the Battle of the Crater: A Regiment of Coal Miners Who Tunneled Under the Enemy by Jim Corrigan
5. Two Confederate Hospitals and Their Patients: Atlanta to Opelika by Jack D. Welsh
Preservation by Chris M. Calkins
Chris Calkins, Chief Historian at the Petersburg National Battlefield, covers an exciting new project involving the expansion of the lands currently held within the Petersburg Battlefield. In addition to expanded areas of existing battles such as the Crater, Five Forks, Ft. Stedman, etc., the Park plans to include land at other key battlefields as well, including Reams’ Station, Boydton Plank Road, Globe Tavern, Hatcher’s Run, Jerusalem Plank Road, and White Oak Road. New visitor centers and other buildings to help with interpreting the Siege and the Civil War are planned as well.