Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April 23, 1864: Grant orders Burnside to bring IX Corps forward

On this day 150 years ago, Ulysses S. Grant ordered Ambrose Burnside to bring his command, the IX Corps, forward to join the Army of the Potomac. As the Spring campaign season neared, Grant had begun to concentrate his forces for the drive south to Richmond.
CULPEPER COURT-HOUSE, VA., April 23, 1864.

Major General A. E. BURNSIDE,

Commanding Ninth Army Corps:

March your troops with as little delay as possible, taking position from Bull Run to the Rappahannock, so as to perfectly guard the road between the two streams and relieve the troops now there, so as to enable them to come to the front and join the corps to which they have been assigned. Get forward to the troops as rapidly as possible all their transportation and supplies to the 2nd of May, inclusive. When this is done send forward to Brandy Station a competent assistant quartermaster and commissary of subsistence to take charge of stores. Forward also troops of your own, a brigade, if you think proper, to guard your stores at that place. Have brought up there fifteen days' rations and ten days' forage of grain alone, to be held for use after your march from there. All supplies that you use whilst on the railroad is to be independent of these supplies. Of the fifteen days' supplies to be carried with you but four will be pork or bacon; the remainder will be beef on the hoof. Your men must carry seven days' rations without meat in haversacks and knapsacks. Baggage must be reduced to nothing in wagons, or as near to that standard as possible, all the transportation being reserved so far as possible for provisions and ordnance stores. One hundred and fifty rounds of ammunition per man will be the amount required to be carried on the person and in wagons together. If it can be avoided, no ammunition should be carried on the person, except what can be put in the cartridge-boxes.

For the sake of uniformity you should adopt about the same orders governing transportation that General Meade has. I have no copy of his order on the subject, but will have one sent to you. Further details and instructions will be furnished you after your troops are in position.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 22, 1864: Phil Sheridan is ordered to get ready

On this day 150 years ago, Major General Philip H. Sheridan, commander of the Army of the Potomac's Cavalry Corps, was ordered to get his men ready for active campaigning.
April 22, 1864-8.45 p. m.

Major-General SHERIDAN:

The commanding general directs that you immediately draw the supplies of ammunition, subsistence, and forage required by existing orders to be kept on hand in your command. The knapsacks, rations, and communition to be carried on the person will not be issued till orders to move are received. I am instructed to impress on you the necessity of making every preparation for the receipt of marching orders. Please acknowledge.


Assistant Adjutant-General.

April 22, 1864.

General WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General:

Your dispatch of 8.45 p. m. is received.



April 22, 1864.

Commanding Officers First, Second, and Third Divisions Cavalry:

I am instructed to impress you the necessity of making every preparation for the receipt of marching orders. Prepare all the equipments of your mounted men, except carbines and pistols, for transportation to the rear. Organize your dismounted men into foot battalions. Send off all surplus baggage for which transportation cannot be furnished by existing orders.



April 22, 1864.

Colonel BRYAN,

Commanding Third Division:

SIR: General Meade reports a movement of the enemy's cavalry, and indicates a general movement of the enemy. I want the detachment at Grove Church to watch the lower fords of the Rappahannock vigilantly, and quickly report any movement they may see or hear of.

Very respectfully,


Major-General, Commanding.

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21, 1864: Benjamin Butler to John A. Dahlgren

Major General Benjamin Butler, U.S. Army (left) and Robert Ould, C.S. Prisoner of War Commisioner (right).
On this day 150 years ago, Union Major General Benjamin F. Butler telegraphed Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren that his son's remains were in friendly hands. Dahlgren's son Ulric had been killed on March 2, 1864 in a failed cavalry raid against Richmond and the Confederate defenders were so angered by the plans they found on Ulric's body that they plotted to make his remains disappear by burying him in an unmarked grave.
FORT MONROE, VA., April 21, 1864. (Received 1. 45 p. m.)

Rear-Admiral JOHN A. DAHLGREN,

Washington, D. C.:

The remains are not so far within my control as to be able to remove them from Richmond, where every effort is being made by the detectives to find them; but they are, I am informed and believe, in the hands of devoted friends of the Union, who have taken possession of them in order that proper respect may be shown to them at a time which I trust is not far distant. I hardly dare suggest to Ould, when he reports to me, as he will, that he cannot find them, that I can put them into his possession, because that will show such a correspondence with Richmond as will alarm them, and will redouble their vigilance to detect my of information. I am, however, under the direction of the President.


Major-General, Commanding.
Ulric's grave was identified by the Union spy ring in Richmond led by Elizabeth Van Lew, and on the night of April 6, 1864, they had stolen Ulric Dahlgren's body from Richmond's Oakwood Cemetery. The body was smuggled out of Richmond and buried on the farm of a Union sympathizer. After the end of the war, Dahlgren's body was returned to his family and buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 20, 1864: Confederate forces retake Plymouth, North Carolina

Brigadier General Robert Hoke, C.S. Army
On this day 150 years ago, Confederate Brigadier General Robert Hoke won a brilliant victory, retaking the town of Plymouth, North Carolina and capturing more than 2,800 Union soldiers with the assistance of the C.S.S. Albemarle.
New Berne, N. C., April 20, 1864-12 m.

GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a dispatch just received. I have just sent the steamer General Berry with Captain White, Ninety-ninth New York, bearing duplicate of this to you, and also a communication from Commander Davenport, U. S. Navy, to Rear-Admiral Lee, conveying similar information. I send this also for the reason that the Berry may not get through the canal, or even by Roanoke Island.

The enemy have appeared in force in front of Plymouth, and attacked the place. The ram has sunk the Southfield, disabled the Miami, and has passed below Plymouth. The sound is probably by this time in possession of the enemy, and Roanoke Island will undoubtedly soon be attacked, if it has not been already. Washington is also threatened. Firing has been heard in that direction all night and this morning. Unless we are immediately and strongly re-enforced, both by land and water, all of Eastern North Carolina is lost to us. Immediate action is imperatively necessary. Captain Flusser, of the Miami, is killed.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.

Major General B. F. BUTLER,

Commanding Dept. of Va. and N. C., Fort Monroe.

New Berne, N. C., April 20, 1864.

GENERAL: I have this morning received this very bad news from Plymouth, and inclose a copy of the dispatch for your information. There is no doubt but that Plymouth is lost by this time, and the ram will probably come down to Roanoke Island, Washington, and New Berne. Unless we are immediately and heavily re-enforced, both by the army and navy, North Carolina is inevitably lost.

The ram is heavy and very formidable, and none of the gun-boats here can stand against its power. The Southfield is sunk, and the rest disabled.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



Major-General BUTLER,

Commanding, &c.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 19, 1864: The C.S.S. Albemarle attacks Plymouth, North Carolina

C.S.S. Albemarle post-war after her capture by Union forces.
On this day 150 years ago, the ironclad ram C.S.S. Albemarle came down the Roanoke River and attacked Union gunboats at the mouth of the river.


Off Mouth of Roanoke River, Tuesday, April 19, 1864 6 a.m.

SIR: Last night from about 6:30 to 8 the Miami and Southfield were engaged in shelling the enemy. On the news that the ram was below the blockade at Hyman's Ferry, the Southfield was brought alongside the Miami, and the two vessels were fastened together. At 3:30 a. m. the Ceres came down from picket duty at the town (the Miami and Southfield being at the lower picket station) aud reported the ram coming down, firing. The batteries on shore did not fire.

By Captain Flusser's command the two boats were driven ahead direct upon the ram. She struck the Southfield slantwise and tore a hole clear through to the boiler. Both vessels fired solid shot at her, but it had no effect on her slanting sides. The Southfield sank almost immediately. Nothing of her stores was saved. The Miami continued firing, but it was evident that the shot had no effect.

Captain Flusser was killed in the early part of the action, while pulling the lockstring of one of the guns forward. His body is being got ready now to be sent away on the Ceres.

Captain French and some of his officers reached the Miami. Others were taken prisoners. After the ram had sank the Southfield she followed the Miami, which steamed slowly down the river. The ram fired two shells at the Miami while going down the river, but they did us no damage.

Captain French has held a consultation of officers as to what had best be done under the circumstances. The garrison at Plymouth must be captured, as things now are. The opinion of all the officers who saw the ram and the effect of solid shot upon her agree that another attack would result only in the sinking of the Miami.

I have written the above in haste by Captain French's orders, as he has not time to write himself at present.

Very respectfully,

Acting Assistant Paymaster.

Commander H. K. DAVENPORT,
Senior Officer, Sounds North Carolina.

P.S. Captain French is going up to reconnoiter in the Whitehead. He will report officially as soon as possible. The ram was accompanied by the Cotton Plant, steamer.

U.S.S. Miami, one of two U.S. gunboats that attacked the Albemarle.
The other gunboat, the U.S.S. Southfield, did not survive the engagement.

Friday, April 18, 2014

April 18, 1864: Conditions at Rock Island Barracks

Roll Call at Rock Island Prison Barracks

At a time in the war when the Confederacy was "housing" prisoners of war in holes in the ground, Confederate prisoners in the hands of federal forces lives in barrack with roofs and windows.

Secretary of War.


Colonel JAMES A. HARDIE, Inspector-General U. S. Army:

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following inspection report of Rock Island Barracks, Ill.:

Commanding officer, Colonel A. J. Johnson, Fourth Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps. Colonel Johnson is intelligent and a man of good habits, but not as efficient as he ought to be. The troops under his command are not properly instructed in guard duty or in the method of keeping their books, making returns, &c. The grounds immediately surrounding the barracks are neglected.

The prisoners' quarters I found in excellent condition; discipline and government good; barracks clean; grounds thoroughly policed, and being constantly improved by grading and drainage. The shelter, food, clothing, and treatment for the health of prisoners is good. No prisoner has escaped since February last. The post sutler authorized to sell by Colonel Johnson. He sells pies, candies, &c. No pecuniary transactions discovered between officers and sutlers or persons furnishing supplies for prisoners.

Troops composing garrison, Fourth Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps and Thirty-seventh Iowa Volunteers; the latter a regiment of decrepit old men and the most unpromising subjects for soldiers I ever saw.

Money and packages sent to prisoners properly accounted for. No post fund or regimental fund.

Post quartermaster, Captain Charles A. Reynolds, U. S. Army. Returns for March not finished. Could not ascertain what balance was due United States. The captain was somewhat intoxicated.

Commissary of subsistence and treasurer of prison fund, Captain W. Butterfield, U. S. Army. Subsistence fund due United States April 18, $860. 07; prison fund April 18, $4,345. 24. Captain B. was absent at Chicago and the clerk had no funds in his possession.

Purchases appear to be made at fair rates. Stores good and not in excess of the wants of the post.

The garrison should not be reduced.

Number of prisoners April 18, 1864, 6,860.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant Colonel Twenty-fourth Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps.