Thursday, April 28, 2016

Old Clinton War Days Reenactment 2016

I am actually on the advertisement. Behind and to the right of Georgia State Flag. This picture was taken last year at the 2015 event. We were marching to the Memorial Service that was held at the church in Clinton, GA.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fort Gaines: Part of the Battle of Mobile Bay

Just had the opportunity to stop here this past weekend. I have to say that i enjoyed it.

Fort Gaines Historic Site
51 Bienville Blvd
Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528

Situated on the tip of Dauphin Island at the entrance to Mobile Bay, Alabama, sits Fort Gaines. The fort was designed by General Simon Bernard. Construction was started in 1819 but was put on hold because of costs and the belief that the entrance to the harbor was too shallow to warrant the construction of a fort. In 1845 funds were made available and the work was completed by 1861. Needless to say, On August 5, 1864, The Union Navy under the command of Admiral David Farragut lead his fleet of ships into the harbor running the defenses of both Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan which is across the entrance at 3 miles distant.In hindsight, he proved that the harbor could be attacked.  The Guns from both forts, the mine field at the harbor entrance, and the small squadron of ships including the CSS Tennessee put up a good fight.

The North East bastion. Looking out into the Harbor.

Col. Charles D Anderson, commander of the Fort at the time of the battle.

The architecture is what I find amazing. A structure built so long ago still standing.

The Officers Mess hall.

Displays in the Fort Museum.

Uniform of the 21st Alabama Infantry Regt. This unit garrisoned both Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan.

"Bite the Bullet." This phrase usually refers to something that we don't want to do, but we do it anyway. Back then, it had a "Literal" meaning. When doctors and surgeons ran low on medicine they would give the patient something to bite down on to keep from screaming out in pain. This lead bullet has teeth marks on it from when it was used. You can't help but wonder, Who had to bite the bullet? What kind of surgery did they endure? Did the patient survive?

This is the Anchor from the USS Hartford, Admiral David Farragut's Flagship. It was from the deck of this ship that he witnessed the Ironclad monitor USS Tecumseh strike a mine and sink in less than five minutes. The ships that followed the Tecumseh began to stall and bottleneck under the guns of the forts. It is believed that Admiral Farragut said. "Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!" (Torpedoes in this time period where underwater mines.)

Three miles in the distance, Fort Morgan sits.

Fort Gaines is listed as one of the most "At Risk" Civil War sites in the United States. The guns may be silent, but the war on the shoreline is continuously fought against erosion. Sadly, there are a few sections of the fort that can't be accessed due to water damage and flooding. The hurricanes in recent years have gone a long way to hurting the structural integrity and some of the buildings.

There is something about the fresh air blowing off the Gulf. It fills your lungs and refreshes you. There were wind gusts on the day that I visited. I had to take my ball cap off to keep it from being blown off my head. The sky was overcast and it was a perfect day for this "little field trip." No chance of a sunburn today. 

Directly off in the distance, Sand Island Lighthouse can be seen. The area of the lighthouse, built in 1838, is where the Union Navy formed up before they made their attack run.

The Fort from the outside.

The drive back to the mainland from Dauphin Island.
If you are ever in The Mobile Alabama Area, I recommend taking the time to visit Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan across the way. A toll Ferry can take you across the Harbor if you like. My time in Mobile was tradgicaly short. I was only able to visit here and the USS Alabama Memorial. The next time I am in town i want to visit Fort Morgan and also visit Bellingrath Gardens

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Siege of Yorktown April 16, 1862 Dam Number One at Lee's Mill

Yorktown on the peninsula.
~Orders of Battle~
Union Forces

BG. William H.T. Brooks Brigade

3rd VT Inf                        5 stands
4th VT Inf                        5 stands
7th VT Inf                        6 stands


Confederate Forces

BG Howell Cobb

15th NC Inf                              5 stands
7th GA Inf                                6 stands
2nd LA BN (Coppens Zouaves)  7stands

General George McClellan decided on a bold plan to end the war and Capture Richmond. Fearing that a direct rout overland would be a costly affair, He chose to move his army by water and landing on the Peninsula and marching into Richmond through the "backdoor." In early march 1862, The Army of the Potomac, already had 50,000 men at Fort Monroe on the Virginia Peninsula. This number grew to 121,500 soldiers before any shots were fired. McClellan effectively commanded the largest army ever assembled on the North American Continent. His command was organized into three corps and other supporting units.On April 4. McClellan ordered the advance up the Peninsula. on April 5, IV Corps commander BG Erasmus Keyes made initial contact with Confederate forces in defensive positions at Lee's Mill on the Warwick River. The Confederate Commander, MG John Magruder, was a fan of theatrics. He ordered several units to march in and out of clearings in the woods in order to give the appearance of endless numbers of defenders. This tactic worked and The "Little Napoleon" decided on waiting for his siege cannons to come up from the coast. McClellan was convinced he was facing a force that was numerically superior to his force. In fact Magruder only had 11,000 men on the peninsula. So settled both armies on the defenses around Yorktown Virginia, with McClellan waiting for his heavy siege cannons and mortars to be in place before making an assault. On April 16th Federal forces probed in force the Confederate defenses around Dam No. 1, on the Warwick River by Lee's Mill.

Turn 1. Federal Initiative. BG Brooks fails to order his men forward. the Colonels take it upon themselves to move the men forward. Only the 7th VT Infantry decide to hold position.  We can see the defenses along the north bank of the river.

General Magruder with General Howell Cobb riding up to the defenses on the Warwick River.

"This line must be held, We must buy Richmond time to gather reinforcements. All the world is a stage and we have a part to play."

Th Confederate troops dug in on the north side of the Warwick River.

Gen William F. "Baldy" Smith  explains to Brig Gen Brooks how important it is to find a way to break the Rebel line and put an end to this rebellion. "Gen McClellan has been observing troop movements in and out of the tree lines in front of Yorktown. Trains have been arriving in constantly. We need to know how strong their defenses are."

Turn 1 Federal Initiative. Brooks fails to order the brigade forward at the start time. The messenger must have gotten lost. Either way, the Colonels take it upon themselves to start the advance. Only the 7th Vermont holds position. The Confederate forces hold in position. The Colonels check with their company commanders, making sure everyone is loaded and ready.

Moving through the woods towards Lee's Mill.

Turn 2 Federal Initiative. Finally, the messengers deliver their orders. The brigade moves as one. the 3rd Vermont Infantry has moved out of command radius but continues forward. The Confederates listen to the sounds of the woods across the river. They listen for the sounds of an approaching army.

Turn 3. Federal Initiative. General Brooks realizes his troops will hit the line at different times. He quickly orders his advance to straighten its line. The 3rd Vermont emerges from the woods and opens fire on the 15th North Carolina Infantry across the river from them. The Confederates watch as the Federals emerge from the woods. The initial volley causes some casualties. The 15th North Carolina Inf Regt. Rallies and returns fire.

Turn 4. Federal Initiative. The 3rd Vermont and the 15th North Carolina continue to "exchange pleasantries." The rest of the Vermont Brigade moves forward. the 4th Vermont forced to make a right oblique march to get around the Mill 

Turn 5. Confederate Initiative.  General Cobb continues to have the 15th Nc Infantry fire at the 3rd VT Infantry on the Confederate right flank.  The rest of the line holds there fire and waits for the rest of the assault that is sure to come. General Brooks continues to move his brigade forward in a hurry. 

Turn 6. Federal Initiative. The remainder of Brook's brigade emerges from the woods and forms up on the south bank of the river. They open fire all along the line. The 15th NC Infantry on the Confederate right flank has taken heavy casualties by this time. General Cobb hasn't given up yet and responds with a volley of his own.. Casualties begin to mount up. The 15th NC is Shaken. The 3rd VT drops down to cohesion of 4 and miraculously passes. The 7th VT takes heavy casualties and one stand of infantry is removed. Coppen's Zouaves made every shot count.

Turn 7.  Confederate Initiative. Several of the Regiments hang on by a thread. The casualties have piled up. What started off as a mild skirmish and probing the defenses has turned into a general assault on this line.

Turn 8. Confederate Initiative. The regiments of Cobb's brigade continue to pour it into the Federal troops on the river bank. the 3rd Vt Infantry finally had enough and quit the field. the 4th Vt Infantry in the Federal center  also rout and leave the field. The 7th Vt on the Federal right flank still holds on to their position despite their losses. Brigadier General Brooks orders a withdrawal from the line. The 7th Vt Infantry pull back in good order The Confederates hold the line.
~After Action Report~ There should have been some Artillery support for this attack. Historically The Federals were only to probe the line and gauge the strength of the defenders. This ended up being a general assault on the line. However, it should have had more support.

~Historical Outcome~ When the Union Army made it to the Warwick Line they were stopped in place by their commander. General McClellan was confused by the troop movements and reports he was receiving from the front line. His opponent,Major General John B. Magruder, was an amateur actor before the war. His flare for the dramatic saved the Confederate army. He ordered Infantry and artillery to move along the line in a loud and boisterous fashion so the Union observers could see. Confederate soldiers would march in and out of clearings, deploy and regroup. march and redeploy all along the line. This made McClellan and his Intelligence operatives, Allan Pinkerton, over estimate the Confederate strength.
McClellan may have doubted his numerical strength but he did not doubt the strength of his artillery. His time serving as an military observer in the Crimean War in 1855, and witnessing the siege of Sevastopol, enforced his belief in the the power of siege warfare. This set the stage for the siege of Yorktown as the infantry dug in and faced each other and McClellan moved his Siege guns forward into position.
The Union Army Balloon Corps with aeronaut Professor Thaddeus Lowe used two balloons, the Intrepid and the Constitution, to perform aerial reconnaissance. On April 11, the Intrepid carried Brig Gen Fitz John Porter aloft but winds caused the balloon to drift over enemy lines much to the concern of the Union Army. a wind change brought the hapless Porter back to his own lines.  On the Confederate side, Captain John Bryan experienced a similar incident during his observations from a Confederate balloon over the Yorktown lines.