Friday, March 31, 2017

Battle of Seven Pines in Photographs

This series of Photographs were taken sometime after June 1, 1862. at the Seven Pines Battlefield by Photographer George N. Barnard

32lb field Gun near the twin houses. The twin houses were located behind Casey's Redoubt and near the Williamsburg Stage Road.

The twin houses, orchard, and well at Seven Pines, Va You can see freshly covered graves in the foreground of this picture.

Casey's Redoubt in front of the twin houses. This is what D.H. Hill's Division faced as they came out from the woods. Picture appears to be taken from the Union Side looking North West.

Old Houses and tents near Hooker's Division Headquarters. are used as a Hospital for the wounded.

Famous picture of the wounded soldiers at Seven Pines.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Situation Report: General Lee Takes Command June 1, 1862

Richmond, Va., June 1, 1862

Special Orders, No. 22

           I. In pursuance of the orders of the President, General R. E. Lee assumes command of the armies of Eastern Virginia and North Carolina.
The unfortunate casualty that has deprived the army in front of Richmond of the valuable services of its able general is not more deeply deplored by any member of his command than by its present commander. He hopes his absence will be but temporary, and while he will endeavor to the best of his ability to perform his duties, he feels he will be totally inadequate to the task unless he shall receive the cordial support of every officer and man.
The presence of the enemy in front of the capital, the great interests involved, and the existence of all that is dear to us appeal in terms too strong to be unheard, and he feels assured that every man has resolved to maintain the ancient fame of the Army of Northern Virginia, and the reputation of its general and to conquer or die in the approaching contest.
II. Commanders of divisions and brigades will take every precaution and use every means in their power to have their commands in readiness at all times for immediate action. They will be careful to preserve their men as much as possible, that they may be fresh when called upon for active service. All surplus baggage, broken-down wagons, horses, and mules, and everything that may embarrass the prompt and speedy movement of the army will be turned into depot. Only sufficient transportation will be retained for carrying the necessary cooking utensils and such tents or tent-flies as are indispensable to the comfort and protection of the troops.

By order of General Lee:
                                          W. H. Taylor,
                                   Assistant Adjutant-General

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Great Snowball Fight of 1864: Dalton, GA

Great Snowball fight of 1864: Dalton, Ga
From: Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne and the Civil War

Occasionaly the unpredictable March weather broke routine of camp life and interrupted the training schedule . On rare occasions it snowed and like children released from school , the troops treated any snowfall as an occasion for play. On March 22 dawn revealed a fresh 5 inches of new snow, and a spontaneous snowball fight broke out all across the camp. The men threw themselfs into the fracas with enthusiiasm. One Arkansas soldier recalled, "Such pounding and thumping, and rolling over in the snow, and washing of faces and cramming snow in mouths and in ears and mixing up in great wriggling piles together." (Stephenson, Civil War Memoir)

In Cleburne's Div. , Lucius Polk's Brigade attacked Govan's Brigade, pitting Arkansas against Arkansas, and Cleburne could not resist getting involved. He placed himself at the head of his old brigade and led the attack on Govan's campsite. The snowballs flew thick and fast , and Govans's men Were getting the worst of it when they decided to launch a counterattack. They charged Forward, no doubt yelling for all they were worth and Cleburne suddenly found himseld a prisoner of war. After some tongue -in-cheek deliberation, his captors decided to parol their commander, and claburne was released.

The snowball fight contined and claburnes once again entered the fray. Alas he was captured a 2nd time .. and this time his captors confronted him with mock solemnity about his violation of parole. According to one veteran, "Some called for a drumead court martial; others demanded a sound ducking in the nearby creek. Still others mindfull of Cleburne's reputation as a stern disciplinarian, insisted that the general be meted out his own customary punishment. The idea caught on and soon the whole brigade took up the familiar order: 'Arrest that soldier and make him carry a fence rail!' " Cooler heads prevailed, with Cleburne's defenders arguing that after all this was the 1st occasion on which he had been known to break his word and once again his captors granted him parole. When it was all over, Cleburne authorized a ration of whiskey to the troops , and they stood around great bonfires singing and yelling "at the top of their lungs" {Steve Davis "The Great Snowbattle of 1864" CWTI (June 1976) }

More snow fell on the 23rd of March, provoking yet another snowball fight and rain and snow continued through the rest of the month. On the 31st a more serious sham battle occurred when Joe Johnston organized a mock engagement involving Hardee's Corps. Cleburne's and Bates's Div. Squared off against those of Cheatam and Walker. It was a fine weather for a charge, and the troops entered the spirit of the drill, firing off a blank cartridges each, thrilling the small audiences of ladies who had driven out from Dalton to watch. One veteran recalled, "The noise waas terrific and the excitement intense, but nobody was hurt. . . except perhaps one of the cavalry men who was dismounted while charging a square of infantry." That night, back in camp , it was peaches and cornbread again for dinner. (John S. Jackson Diary of A Confederate Soldier)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Battle of Seven Pines June 1,1862: Union Counter Attack Part 2

General French's Brigade firing on General Mahone's Brigade across the tracks.

Turn 3.Federal Initiative. Sickles Brigade continues their attack.  All along the line the attack grows in strength.

BG Armistead's Brigade continues to hold out. The 9th VA Infantry break under the pressure and fall back.

Turn 4. Confederate Initiative. The Confederate Line more or less is intact. They hold position as the Federal wave crashes into them. Colston's Brigade holds position. General Longstreet moves forward to help with the developing situation.

French's Brigade prepares to move forward after forcing the Confederate 9th VA Infantry to retreat. A hole in the line develops between Mahone's Brigade and Armistead's Brigade.

Birney's Brigade crosses the Rail Road track and presses into Pickett's Brigade. Meagher's Brigade continues to slug it out with Armistead's Brigade. 

Turn 5. Federal Initiative. The majority of Birney's Brigade is across the track. Pickett's Brigade takes heavy casualties.

BG Wilcox holding the line with his men.

Turn 6. Confederate Initiative. the 8th NJ Infantry from Patterson's Brigade routs. Sickles Presses the Excelsior brigade Forward. The 10th Alabama Infantry from Wilcox's Brigade Routs. The 19th VA Infantry from  Pickett's Brigade also leaves the field.  BG Pryor tries to support Wilcox with volleys of musketry.

Pickett's Brigade is in a bad place. A hole in the line develops between Pickett and Pryor's Brigade. on the right. Birney's Brigade also presses  between Pickett and Armistead's Brigades. If Pickett stays he will be surrounded on three sides.

French's Brigade pushes south across the track. Holes develop all along the Confederate line.

BG Raleigh Colston and his North Carolina Brigade sit uneasy as they are unsure were they are needed. The Confederate Line begins to collapse in four places.

Turn 7. Confederate Initiative. The lines more or less remain the same with each side releasing volley after volley into each other. The Confederate force takes the blunt of the casualties. BG Pickett's Brigade remains in position at the curve in the line.

Ever closer do they come.... BG Sickles and the Excelsior Brigade come within  yards of the Confederate line

Turn 8. Federal Initiative. More and more regiments show signs of fatigue. Sickles Brigade, 71st NY Infantry rout off the table. Pickett's 18th VA Infantry Rout. Meagher's 69th NY Rout as well.  BG Mahone losses the 41st VA infantry as they rout. Colston receives orders to shift his brigade line and hold position for a breakthrough.

Turn 9. Confederate Initiative.  Sickle's Brigade runs out of steam and they advance grinds to a halt. Wilcox and Pryor's Brigades manage to hold the line, but paid a heavy cost.  The remains of Pickett's Brigade falls back after they realize their position is unattainable.  Birney uses this moment to straighten his line and prepare to advance again. Meagher's Brigade moves in the gap created by the vacant brigade. BG Armistead stubbornly holds out. he is flanked on both sides by advancing Federal Brigades.

Watching the front. Colston's Brigade prepares for the attack that they know is sure to come.

French's Brigade Presses through the gap between Armistead and Mahone's Brigades.

General Longstreet issues orders for his brigades to fall back and reform their lines.

Turn 10. Sickles's Brigade Holds its position and lets loose with a few volleys. Patterson's Brigade Holds position as well. Wilcox and Pryor's Brigades straighten their lines and return fire. Pickett's Brigade continues to fall back in order to reform. Birney's Brigade Holds position and reforms for the advance. Armistead's Brigade continues to slug it out with Part of Meagher's Irish Brigade and French's brigade. 

General Longstreet decides that this is close enough to the front. Remembering what had happened to MG Joe Johnston the day before, he  issues orders for his men to make preparations to defend against another attack.

The apex of the battle line. Pickett's Brigade position

BG Mahone agrees with his aide. The brigade should pull back and reform.

Colston's Brigade ready and willing.

The summer sun begins to set on the battlefield and with it comes the closing musketry of the days battle. A very bloody affair indeed.
The results of the battle include Federal losses of 6 Regiments routed from the field. one Brigade Commander killed. BG Patterson. However, The Federal Army did manage to break the Confederates defensive line in three places.
The Confederate Losses where 6 Regiments routed from the field and their defensive line broken. Brigadier General George Pickett's Brigade suffering the worst in casualties losing 2 of the regiments that were routed.

The Results being a DRAW. The Federal Army managed to breach the Confederate Line in three places however, they were not able to exploit this in the time given.

The overal Results for the two day Battle of Seven Pines is a Confederate Victory.

HISTORICAL RESULTS~ The results of May 31st gave the Confederate Army the initiative. They managed to drive Casey's Division from the redoubt. The attack north of the Richmond and York Rail Road extended the battle line. The conclusion of the days battle was still in question when General Joesph E. Johnston was seriously wounded that evening.
June 1st came with the Confederate force in a bit of disarray. Johnstons' successor,  Major General Gustavus Woodson Smith took command of the army but had no idea of his former commanders overall tactical situation or objectives because of  a lack of information available. He suffered what appears to be a panic attack and was thus relieved of command by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.  His replacement, Davis's Military aide, a fifty five year old West Point Graduate by the name of Robert Edward Lee....

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Battle of Seven Pines June 1,1862: Union Counter Attack Part 1

~Orders of Battle~
Union Forces

BG Edwin Sumner II Corps Army of the Potomac
approx 11,500 men

BG Israel Richardson's 1st Division
BG Oliver O. Howard's Brigade

5th NH Inf                        6 stands
81st PA Inf                        6 stands
61st NY Inf                        6 stands
64th NY Inf                       6 stands

BG William French's Brigade

57th NY Inf                          6 stands
52nd NY Inf                         6 stands
53rd PA Inf                          6 stands
66th NY Inf                         6 stands

BG Thomas Meagher's "Irish" Brigade

69th NY Inf                        6 stands
88th NY Inf                         6 stands
83rd NY Inf                        6 stands

BG David Birney's Brigade

38th NY Inf                          3 stands
40th NY Inf                         3 stands
3rd ME Inf                          3 stands
4th ME Inf                          3 stands

BG Francis E. Patterson's Brigade (from Heintzelman's III Corps, Hooker's 2nd Division)

5th NJ Inf                          3 stands
6th NJ Inf                           3 stands
7th NJ  Inf                            3 stands
8th NJ Inf                            3 stands

BG Daniel Sickles's Brigade (from Heintzelman's III Corps, Hooker's 2nd Division)

70th NY Inf                          5 stands
71st NY Inf                           5 stands
72nd NY  Inf                         5 stands
73rd NY Inf      Zouaves        5 stands
74th NY Inf      Zouaves        5 stands


Confederate Forces

MG James Longstreet's Corps
approx 11,100 men

BG Richard H. Anderson's Division
BG. William Mahone's Brigade

3rd AL Inf                   6 stands
41st VA Inf                   6 stands
12th VA Inf                   6 stands

BG Raleigh Colston's Brigade

13th NC Inf                   6 stands
14th NC Inf                  6 stands
3rd VA Inf                   6 stands

BG Lewis Armistead's Brigade

9th VA Inf                      7 stands
14th VA Inf                     7 stands
53rd VA Inf                    7 stands

BG George Pickett's Brigade

18th VA Inf                      4 stands
19th VA Inf                      4 stands
8th VA Inf                       4 stands
28th VA Inf                     4 stands

BG Roger Pryor's Brigade

8th AL Inf                     6 stands
14th AL Inf                    6 stands
14th LA Inf                     6 stands

BG Cadmus Wilcox's Brigade

9th AL Inf                      5 stands
10th AL Inf                    5 stands
11th AL Inf                    5 stands
19th MS Inf                   5 stands

Early in the Morning of June 1st. General Longstreet ordered a limited probing advance along the line to feel out the enemies position and strength. At more or less the same moment. The Union Forces made a general advance all along the line that resulted in a counterattack by the Union army.

The town of Seven Pines is seen at the crossroads. The Williamsburg Stage Road is seen running from left to right of the map. The earthworks from the day before can been seen on the left side of the map. Fair Oaks Station can be seen in the top left corner of the map.The Confederate Forces are deployed on the southern side of the Richmond and York Railroad.

Overhead view of the battlefield and the dispositions of the forces involved.

MG James Longstreet in Seven Pines.

BG Israel Richardson and Division HQ escort

The Irish Brigade under the command of BG Thomas Meagher.

BG Edwin V. Sumner's II Corps HQ Escort

BG Daniel Sickles and the "Excelsior" Brigade.

BG Francis Patterson's Brigade

BG David Birney's Brigade

BG William French's Brigade

BG Cadmus Wilcox's Brigade

BG Roger Pryor's Brigade

BG George E. Pickett's Brigade in the bend of the Confederate line.

BG Lewis Armistead's Brigade

BG William Mahone's Brigade on the Confederate left flank near the Fair Oaks Station.

BG Oliver O. Howard's Brigade near Fair Oaks station.

BG Raleigh Colston's Brigade held as reserve in Seven Pines.

Another view of the battlefield looking East.

Turn 1. Confederate Initiative. Confederate BG Cadmus Wilcox's Brigade opens up on Sickles' "Excellsior" Brigade. The line of sight and the closeness of the opposing forces brings heavy casualties in the opening shots of the battle.

BG Pryor's brigade moves forward.

during the Union phase of the turn. All Federal Brigades manage to move forward.

Birney's Brigade attempts to cross the tracks.

Pickett gives orders for his men to prepare to open fire.

Armisteads Brigade advances to the tracks.

BG Raleigh Colston's Brigade waits in anticipation of orders bringing them to the front.

Turn 2. Federal Initiative.  Sickle's and Paterson's Brigades open volleys on Wilcox's right flank. Wilcox's responds with a devastating volley on the 72nd NY Inf which in turn gives up the field. All along the line the sounds of musketry are heard. on the Confederate left flank, French's Brigade opens fire on Mahone's Brigade. The forces involved go back and forth.  BG George Pickett's 19th Virginia Infantry  open a volley on Patterson's 7th NJ Infantry. During the exchange, a hail of minnie balls strike the Federal Regiment. General Patterson, who was advancing with his men, was struck in the neck. Falling from his horse, he died in a matter of minutes, The 7th NJ Infantry rout from the field under the pressure of the Confederate fire. 

The killing ground east of Seven Pines.

The Battle near Fair Oaks Station.

The two opposing armies become locked in a mortal struggle. The coming turns will unfold as the engagement intensifies all along the line.................. To be Concluded.