Behind The Lines: A Note From The Editor
by Chris W. Lewis
Turning Points: The 1862 Sioux Uprising
by Jeffry D. Wert
By mid-1862, the Dakota Sioux were fed up with the United States government. They had signed many treaties which seemed to increasingly take their land. Two years of failed crops made things desperate, and they took advantage of the fact the United States was at war with itself to try to drive the white settlers away. The first bloodshed occurred on August 17, 1862. By the time the fighting and massacres were over late in 1862, 71 Sioux, 77 soldiers, and over 800 civilians were killed. Part of the 7 Sioux who died were 38 men who were hanged for rape and/or murder of white civilians.
Gallery: Johnadab Bowles submitted
by Mary Bowles McBride
John Bowles was born in England on April 30, 1842, and later moved with his family to Clyde, New York. He joined the 67th New York in April 1861, but appears to have been listed as a deserter for a period of time. He later reappeared on the rolls of the regiment in March 1862. In November of that year, he enlisted in a horse artillery battery, Battery G, 2nd U.S. Artillery. The unit was a part of John Sedgwick’s VI Corps. Bowles went on to see service at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettyaburg, Culpeper Court House, Bristoe Station, Mine Run campaign, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. He received an honorable discharge on November 9, 1965, and was married to Catherine McGowan on December 29, 1869, in Swain, New York. The couple died together on October 24, 1909 of carbon monoxide poisoning.
by Eric Ethier
Sharpshooters were used on both sides, although the Confederates were much more successful in the practice. Sharpshooters served as both light infantry, performing skirmish line duty, and as snipers in the modern sense, picking off officers and men in the opposing lines. By far the most famous sharpshooter units were Hiram Berdan’s 1st and 2nd United States Sharpshooters. Berdan wasn’t a great leader, but he was skilled in obtaining money and backing in high places for his project. In 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia created sharpshooter battalions in every brigade of the army. This idea was the brainchild of Robert Rodes. These picked men were recruited for accurate shooting, initiative, and tough constitutions. They were trained in skirmishing using bugle calls, and were generally called upon to screen the main body when in the presence of the enemy. The sharpshooters typically used Enfield Rifles, target rifles, English Match Rifles, Whitworth Rifles, and several other weapons in their duties.
My War: Dueling Diarists In Winchester
by Jerry W. Holsworth
Kate Sperry and Julia Chase lived within 3 blocks of each other in Winchester, Virginia during the war. Both women kept detailed diaries of their experiences during the war. Holsworth moves back and forth between the two diaries, specifically near the time of the Second Battle of Winchester. This creates an interesting effect where the reader can see how different the views of these two ladies were, even though they lived in close proximity to one another.
The Killing of Uncle John
by Fred L. Ray
Fred Ray, author of Shock Troops of the Confederacy, here describes in detail the killing of “Uncle John” Sedgwick, commander of the Union VI Corps, on May 9, 1864 near Spotsylvania Court House. Sedgwick’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Martin McMahon, had earlier warned him not to enter a certain angle due to the amount of fire being laid down. Sedgwick later ignored the advice, and as men around him ducked, he admonished them, saying several times “they couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” After the second utterance, a Confederate sharpshooter proved he could hit something much smaller than an elephant at that distance. But the question of who that man was continues to evade us today. Ray looks over the claims of various Confederates who later affirmed that they were the one to do the deed, but in each case questions of distance, line of sight, unit positions, and time raise issues. Ray concludes that the soldier cannot be determined based on the evidence available today.
Chance and the Civil War
by Keith Miller
Gambling was a prevalent evil during the Civil War, even though many states had passed anti-gambling laws in the antebellum period due to corrupt state lotteries. In an effort to pass time, soldiers resorted to playing cards; betting on horse races, cock fights, boxing and wrestling matches, and almost any other kind of competition; and throwing dice. Card games were by far the most popular method of gambling, from faro to poker to euchre to many other types of cards. Confederate soldiers, who found pay coming less and less frequently as the war continued, resorted to gambling on items such as pocket knives and watches. Some soldiers became excellent card players…or they simply cheated. In the Victorian Era, most soldiers believed that gambling was not only wrong but also sinful. When a battle was near, soldiers would routinely drop any forms of gambling instruments such as playing cards, coming back later to pick up what they could if they survived the day. The authorities tried to ban gambling in the camps, but it was mostly a fruitless exercise, as many of the officers were involved as well. Another problem that arose in the occupied South was the presence of organized gambling establishments. Many times Southern spies would gain quite a bit of information from intoxicated Union soldiers who were at these gambling dens. Miller closes by mentioning the current issue of a Gettysburg Casino, saying “the uneasy relationship between the Civil War and gambling lives on.”
Hoodwinked, Part 2: Confederate Military Deception
by Maurice G. D’Aoust
In the second part of a two-part series on Union and Confederate military deception, D’Aoust takes a look at various instances of Confederate deception throughout the war. John B. Magruder plays a prominent role in the article, as expected. Magruder was known for his theatrical flair, and he succeeded beyond belief on the Virginia Peninsula, convincing the approaching Union Army of 55,000 that he had many more men than his true number of 13,600. Magruder marched men across open spaces and had them do it over and over again. In addition, he ordered troops to cheer each time a “new” unit arrived. By the time McClellan brought his siege guns up and had them ready to fire, Magruder had withdrawn under cover of night. P.G.T. Beauregard used a similar strategy at Corinth, not long after the Battle of Shiloh. His army of barely 50,000 men faced a Union host of over 100,000. His solution was to run trains into and out of Corinth at night, his men cheering loudly at each “arrival” of reinforcements. John Pope on the Union left expected an attack at any time from the Rebel horde. Beauregard too fled under cover of night, keeping his campfires burning brightly to complete the ruse. Nathan Bedford Forrest used ruses more than once during the war. On July 13, 1862, he and his 1,400 troopers rode into Murfreesboro, Tennessee, garrisoned by two infantry regiments of 1,040 men in camps on the opposite sides of the town. He moved against the 9th Michigan and convinced the commander of that unit that the other regiment had already surrendered. After securing these men, Forrest moved on the 3rd Minnesota and repeated the trick. The commander did not believe Forrest in this instance, but since the General already had the Michiganders in his custody, he gladly showed the Minnesota Colonel the situation. Forrest hadn’t even outnumbered the enemy 1.5:1 and had still managed to capture the whole lot and a battery of artillery as well! Later, Forrest pulled an even more audacious trick. In May 1863 he was tailing Colonel Abel D. Streight’s 1,400 cavalrymen with less than a third of that number of men. D’Aoust writes, “in a smoke-and-mirrors display that included the transformation of two artillery pieces into a 15-gun array, Forrest eventually fooled Streight into believing he was severely outnumbered.” Imagine Streight’s surprise when he found out the truth! In a humorous addendum, the author relates that Streight demanded his men be released with their weapons and the battle continued. Forrest responded with “all is fair in love and war.” The final case of deception concerns Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson during May and June 1862. The generals conceived (Lee) and executed (Jackson) a plan that managed to keep fully 60,000 men away from the Army of the Potomac then getting ready to besiege Richmond. Lincoln and Stanton were fooled into believing Washington was at risk during the Valley Campaign, and Jackson then slipped away in mid-June to help Lee defeat McClellan around the Confederate capital.
A Table Full of Civilians
by James A. Morgan III
James A. Morgan III, the author of A Little Short of Boats: The Fight at Ball’s Bluff and Edwards Ferry, October 21-22, 1861, here recounts some of the fallout of that Union disaster. Brigadier General Charles Pomeroy Stone had been the overall commander of the troops which fought at Ball’s Bluff, though he ws not present on the battlefield. The leader in charge of the tactical situation was Senator (and Colonel) Edward Baker, but he was killed in the fighting. The battle resulted in a rout of the Union forces, and many became casualties. General McClellan did not blame Stone and relieved him of any responsibility for the disaster. The death of the Senator “became a political club to be wielded against Stone.” the Radical Republicans suspected Stone of sympathizing with the South due to his Democratic leanings. There were also several incidents where Stone returned slaves to their owners, though to be fair in one instance the slaves actually wanted to return to be with their families. To make matters worse, Stone called Senator Charles Sumner a “well known coward” after Sumner chastised him over the slave issue. In any event, after the heavily Republican Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War was formed, Stone became the scapegoat for Ball’s Bluff. He was imprisoned for over 6 months without ever being told what the charges were against him. Although he later was released and served in 1864 in Louisiana and briefly in Virginia, Stone had had enough. He resigned from the Army in September 1864. After the war, Stone moved to Egypt and became the chief of staff to Khedive Ismail of Egypt for 13 years. As if this were not enough, Stone later became chief engineer overseeing the construction of the Statue of Liberty. The work must have weakened him. He died on January 24, 1887, only a few months after the dedication of the New York landmark. Stone had been given an unfair shake during the war, but Morgan points out that many of his contemporaries knew him to be a good general and a loyal man. He uses Phil Kearny’s glowing praise of Stone as “the ablest man in the army” to prove the point. Kearny was extremely stingy in his praise of others, so that comment is particularly revealing.
In Their Footsteps: The Sioux Wars of 1862-1864
by Jay Wertz
Jay Wertz discusses some interesting sites to visit in the Dakotas and Minnesota involving the Sioux Wars of 1862-1864, including Ft. Snelling, the Sibley House Historic Site, Mankato, Minnesota, Upper Sioux Agency State Park, and others.
Civil War Times Album of the Late War
This version of “Album of the Late War” includes topics such as the fate of Benjamin Wade, the slouch hat of Major General John Sedgwick, and the origin of the song “The Vacant Chair”, penned after Lieutenant John William Grout lost his life at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff.
Reviews: Books and Other Media
Books reviewed in this issue:
1. Basil Wilson Duke, CSA: The Right Man in the Right Place by Gary Robert Matthews
2. Shock Troops of the Confederacy: The Sharpshooters of the Army of Northern Virginia by Fred L. Ray
3. Soldiering: The Civil War Diary of Rice C. Bull edited by K. Jack Bauer
Frozen Moment: A Friendly Game of Cards
This issue’s frozen moment depicts two veterans, one Confederate and one Union, playing cards at a reunion long after the war was over.
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