Monday, April 3, 2017

William Henry Carroll: Fired Before He Got Started Good


William Henry Carroll

       There is no known photograph of Confederate Brigadier General William Henry Carroll. The above drawing is the only known image of the general in existence. Even the birth date of the general is in question. It is believed that he was born in 1810. Carroll's father served as governor of Tennessee six times. His father was also close friends with President Andrew Jackson. 
       His first occupation was as a planter in Mississippi and then later became postmaster of Memphis in 1848. When the war began, Carroll was appointed colonel of the 37th Tennessee Infantry. Tennessee General Leonidas Polk sent Carroll to east Tennessee to raise more troops. Carroll was very successful in this endeavor. He raised three regiments of infantry. He was then promoted to brigadier general on October 26, 1861. 
       In Chattanooga, General Carroll was observed by Alabama Colonel Sterling A.M. Wood who noted that Carroll had been drunk for five years. Wood went on to call Carroll stupid and easily manipulated. 
       Commanding 5,000 men in Knoxville, Carroll was plagued by a shortage of arms. In January of 1862, Carroll was ordered to join Brigadier General Felix Zollicoffer in eastern Kentucky. He served under Major General George Crittenden and Zollicoffer at the Battle of Mill Springs. Crittenden in overall command praised Carroll following the defeat. There were rumors circulating that both Crittenden and Carroll had been intoxicated there. 
       When Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard began to gather the army in Corinth, Carroll was in command of a brigade of Tennessee infantry in Iuka a little over twenty miles east of Corinth. Major General William Hardee went there to investigate reports of incompetence by both Crittenden and Carroll. Both men were arrested for being intoxicated on duty. Under pressure from General Bragg and others, Carroll finally resigned his commission. 
       Carroll's family had moved to Canada following the fall of Memphis and Carroll soon joined them there. He never returned to the United States alive. He died in Montreal in 1868 at about the age of 58. Originally buried in Montreal, he was exhumed in 1869 and reburied in Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee. 


Me at the grave of William H. Carroll
(Note the incorrect birth and death dates)


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Edward Dorr Tracy: The Confusion surrounding the Alabama General


Brigadier General Edward Dorr Tracy

       It wouldn't be a good story without a little bit of controversy. The same is true of Edward Dorr Tracy. He was born on November 5, 1833 in Macon, Georgia. He graduated from the University of Georgia and became a lawyer at just 17 years of age. He taught school for three years and then moved to Huntsville, Alabama in 1855. He practiced law there until the war began.
       He raised a company that became a part of the 4th Alabama Infantry in early 1861. He had risen from Captain to major by the summer of 1861 and held that position at the Battle of Manassas, the first major battle of the war. Following the battle, he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 19th Alabama Infantry which was commanded by Colonel Joseph Wheeler. He served in this position, becoming one of the few Confederate officers to have fought at First Manassas and the Battle of Shiloh. At the battle along the west bank of the Tennessee River, Tracy attacked the eastern flank of the Hornet's Nest and had a horse killed beneath him. During the action at Shiloh, he was noted for his bravery and coolness under fire. 


Another image of Edward Dorr Tracy

      Soon after the Battle of Shiloh, Wheeler was promoted which resulted in Tracy becoming colonel of the 19th Alabama. He saw action around Corinth and was again praised for his gallantry. His brigade marched into Kentucky under the command of Edmund Kirby Smith who recommended Tracy for promotion to brigadier general. Although, Tracy saw limited action in Kentucky, Smith praised him for being "upright, intelligent, and accomplished." When the army returned to Tennessee, Tracy was promoted to brigadier general effective on August 16, 1862. 
       His brigade was soon sent to the defense of Vicksburg, Mississippi. There, his brigade was placed in a position to guard the southern part of town. Tracy was ordered to reinforce General Bowen's division south of town when Grant was found crossing the river below Vicksburg. He marched his 1500 men south, but was forced to stop and allow stragglers to catch up. 
       On the morning of May 1, 1863, Tracy was ordered south to intercept Grant. He was reduced to only three regiments which cost him a quarter of his fighting force. His position was attacked at 7 a.m. About an hour after the engagement began, General Tracy was shot through the chest and killed instantly. He was called a "brave and skillful officer, who fell where it is the soldier's pride to fall-at the post of duty and of danger." Bowen said that Tracy had shown his "signal proof of his ability as an officer and bravery as a man."
       He rests today in Rose Hill Cemetery, Macon, Georgia. He was 29 years of age. So where does the controversy come from? 


The above image is listed as three different Confederate officers

       The above image has been credited as being that of Edward Dorr Tracy sometime before 1863 while he was still a colonel. There is a slight resemblance to the above photographs of Tracy, however the match is not perfect. The above photograph has been listed as that of Confederate Brigadier General James Green Martin of North Carolina. A Quick look at General Martin will quickly show you the above photo looks nothing like him.



An image of Brigadier General James Green Martin who lacks the amount of hair to match the photo above his

       In the book More Generals In Gray by Bruce Allardice is photograph of a Confederate Colonel named John Donelson Martin. The photo is provided by a descendant of Colonel Martin. Colonel John D. Martin was born in Tennessee in 1830 and his father was a wealthy business man of Nashville, Tennessee. Colonel Martin fought in the Mexican War at the age of 16. Following that war, he became a doctor. He entered the war as a captain in the 154th Tennessee Infantry. He became colonel of the regiment by January of 1862. He fought at Belmont, Shiloh, Iuka, and was mortally wounded on the first day of the fighting at the Battle of Corinth. Colonel John Donelson Martin rests today in Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee. If the photograph below is that of John D. Martin as his descendants insist, then the photograph was taken between January of 1862 and October of 1862, between the time he served as a captain and the time he was killed in combat at the age of 32. Below is the photograph of John Donelson Martin.



Colonel John Donelson Martin






Sunday, February 26, 2017

Alabama Brigadier General Alpheus Baker


Alpheus Baker

           Alpheus Baker was born on 28 May, 1828 in Clover Hill, South Carolina. He became a school teacher at age sixteen and taught in South Carolina, Georgia, and eventually settled in Eufaula, Alabama.  At the age of twenty, he began reading law and soon became an attorney.
      When the war began, Baker enlisted as a private and was quickly elected captain. Ordered to Fort Pillow, Tennessee on the Mississippi River, Baker was elected colonel of the 1st Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi Infantry. He was in the process of moving artillery from New Madrid, Missouri to Island No. 10 when the fort was surrendered. He was held prisoner from April, 1862 until September.
       Upon his exchange, Baker’s regiment was reorganized as an all Alabama regiment and became the 54th Alabama Infantry. He saw action at Fort Pemberton during the Vicksburg Campaign and was severely wounded in the foot at Champions’ Hill. General Loring, his superior there, praised him for his bravery.


A post war photograph of Alpheus Baker

       After his recovery, Baker was promoted to brigadier general on March 7, 1864. His brigade of four regiments, the 37th, 40th, 42nd, and 54th Alabama infantry were ordered to the Army of Tennessee in Georgia. He saw heavy action at Resaca and New Hope Church. At the Battle of Ezra Church, he was again praised by his immediate commander Major General Henry D. Clayton. His brigade had charged and lost almost half their men.
    Although praised by his division commanders, it appears his corps commander Lieutenant General S.D. Lee was somewhat disappointed in Baker. He called the general “indecisive” and “lacking in energy.” Baker’s brigade was soon transferred to Mobile, Alabama saving them from the blood bath at Franklin. His last battle was at Bentonville, North Carolina where his brigade numbered only 350 men, yet they captured 204 Federal troops.
       Following the war, Baker returned to his law practice. He was well known for his use of humor in the courtroom. Thirteen years after the war, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky and practiced law there. He died there in 1891 at the age of 63 and rests today in Cave Hill Cemetery. A space was left vacant at his request amid the Confederate POW’s buried there and he rests with those men today. 

Alpheus Baker

Alpheus Baker late in life

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Baker's tombstone

Monday, February 20, 2017

Braxton Bragg: Exactly what was that guy's problem?


General Braxton Bragg

       My old military history professor in college was a guy named Doctor Ikerman. He was the first to explain the difference in an art and a science when it comes to warfare. In science, you can repeat an experiment and it always has the same result. In art, you can get a different result each time. I still use some of his analogies when I give talks today. Historians have spent decades trying to understand the problem with Braxton Bragg's generalship. I think they too often become overly focused on his argumentative personality. While that is a big part of him becoming such a failure, that's not his greatest downfall. The man didn't understand that war was an art. 
       When he planned a battle, he planned it from A to Z. In other words, he figured he would make the first move, his enemy would react a certain way and Bragg would react to that in a sequence. He planned his battle all the way through. When his opponent didn't react as expected, it threw General Bragg into a quandary. An example is the quote Major General Breckinridge made in regard to Bragg's battle planning. He claimed that when Bragg was planning a battle, he would take no advice from his top subordinates, but when things went awry, he would accept the advice of a drummer boy. 
       Historians look at the Battle of Chickamauga and attempt to understand what Bragg was thinking. He'd won the battle, and was informed of the victory by several of his subordinates, yet he refused to believe he'd won. The main question here is why? Bragg had spent days attempting to cut Federal General Rosecrans off from Chattanooga and his base of supplies. On the night of September 18th, he went to bed thinking he'd finally gotten his army beyond Rosecrans's right flank. Rosecrans expected Bragg to do this very thing and during the night extended his left flank beyond the Confederate right. Bragg was surprised in the morning when his flank attack turned into a very costly frontal assault. 


Bragg's frontal assault on the morning of September 19, 1863

       When Rosecrans began to shift more troops from his right to the heavily engaged left, Bragg had an opportunity to strike these forces in the flank, but it went against how he had planned the battle and three of his divisions sat idly by as the opportunity was lost. Once the day was finished, he made another blunder. He changed the order of battle. To completely change the order of battle in the midst of a battle is just asking for mass confusion and that's exactly what he got. In most Confederate armies, a general was in command, lieutenant generals commanding corps' answered directly to the general. Bragg decided to mix matters up by having Lieutenant General D.H. Hill report to Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk who he made the right wing commander. He had Lieutenant General James Longstreet command the left wing and placed Major General John Bell Hood in command of Longstreet's Corps. Are you confused yet, because D.H. Hill and Leonidas Polk certainly were. 
       The blunders didn't end there. The next day, the frontal assault continued, Polk's right wing lost heavily. Luckily for Bragg's army, Rosecrans committed a blunder by creating a gap in front of Longstreet's left wing. Hood managed to attack at the right moment and break the Federal army. Once the Federal army began to retreat, Longstreet begged Bragg for reinforcements from the right wing to help him finish the enemy forces off. Bragg, far to the rear at his headquarters at Reed's Bridge refused to believe he'd won the battle. Without riding forward and observing for himself, he simply refused to send Longstreet any troops. 
       There is a comical story told about a Confederate private who'd been captured by the Federals and then escaped when their army retreated. He made his way to Bragg's headquarters and insisted on seeing the general in person. When he was brought into the presence of General Bragg, he told his commander that he'd won a great victory and that the Federal army was in full retreat. "How would you know what a retreat looks like?" snapped Bragg. "I should know," the ragged private replied, "I've been in your army almost two years."
       Even Bedford Forrest was frustrated with Bragg asking what the man fought battles for anyway. Mary Chesnut said of Bragg when he laid siege to Chattanooga: "Bragg, thanks to Longstreet and Hood, won at Chickamauga. So we looked for results that would pay for our losses in battle, at least. Certainly, they would capture Rosecrans. No! There sits Bragg--a good dog howling on his hind legs before Chattanooga, a fortified town--and some Yankee Holdfast grinning at him from his impregnable heights. Waste of time. How? He always stops to quarrel with his generals."
       That brings us to the second problem General Bragg had. He could never take the blame. At each failure or setback, his first reaction was to find someone to blame. When the repulse of Pickett's Charge occurred at Gettysburg, the first words out of General Lee's mouth was, "It's all my fault." As one historian once wrote, "Bragg would have choked on those words." I give two examples of great leaders. One is Robert E. Lee and the other is former Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Coach Bryant always took the blame for the losses and gave the players credit for the wins. Robert E. Lee praised his soldiers in victory and took the blame in defeat. Braxton Bragg wasn't capable of this at all. It was always someone else's fault. 
       At Shiloh, he blamed Randal Gibson and the Confederate soldiers. At Murfreesboro, it was General McCown and Cheatham. At Chickamauga, he blamed Polk, D.H. Hill, and Hindman. It was always someone else's fault. A leader like Lee had no problem motivating his men to fight. They knew he was there to accept fault for failures even when they weren't his fault. Bragg never!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Thomas Muldrop Logan: Sherman's Youngest Confederate General


Thomas Muldrop Logan

       Thomas Muldrop Logan was a long lanky Confederate Brigadier General by the end of the war. He was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1840. He graduated first in the South Carolina College in 1860 and began the war as a private. Following the bombardment of Fort Sumter, he was elected 1st lieutenant in the Hampton Legion. He saw his second serious action at the Battle of Manassas on Henry Hill. He action there won him a promotion to captain. 
       During the Seven Days battles, he was severely wounded at Gaines Mill and put out of action a few months. Though not quite healed yet, he returned in time to fight at Second Manassas. The Hampton Legion overran an artillery battery there and he won even more praise for his performance. At Sharpsburg (Antietam) he won even more praise for his distinguished bravery. 


The Boyish Looking Thomas Logan

       Following that battle, he transferred to Micah Jenkins South Carolina Brigade as a lieutenant colonel. He was praised in that capacity as well. Along with the rest of Micah Jenkins men, he missed the Battle of Gettysburg. At the Battle of Chickamauga, he was placed in charge of all the sharpshooters in John Bell Hood's division. He continued in that capacity to the Battle of Knoxville where Longstreet praised him for his courage and skill.
       Logan was then sent to Drewry's Bluff where he served Beauregard as a staff officer. Following an engagement there, he won promotion to colonel and was given command of the famous Hampton Legion. There were two Hampton Legion's at this time, one of infantry and one of cavalry. Logan commanded the cavalry regiment. He saw action at Riddell's Shop where he suffered another serious wound. 
       After he recovered, he was assigned to command Butler's South Carolina Cavalry Brigade. Fitz Lee recommended he be promoted to brigadier general and permanently assigned to that command. His promotion to brigadier general ranked from February 15, 1865. At the time, he was the youngest general in the Confederate Army. He saw action at Bentonville as a general and the war came to a close. 


One of only three photographs of Logan in uniform

       During the surrender ceremonies, Sherman met Thomas Logan and could hardly believe that such a "slight, fair haired boy" was a general. He imagined that Logan must be the youngest general in the war. He of course was wrong, that distinction belonged to Union Brigadier General Galusha Pennypacker who was four years younger than Logan. (Legend sometimes has it that Pennypacker was promoted by Lincoln because he thought his last name sounded comical.) 
       General Logan asked Sherman if he could take the train home to Charleston, South Carolina. Sherman surprised him by offering him a seat on the train about to leave for Raleigh. Logan was surprised by the kindness of Sherman, but replied that he wasn't ready to leave just yet. He wanted to say goodbye to his men. Sherman told him to just find General Kilpatrick when he was ready to go and he would direct him to Sherman who would ensure he had a seat on a train. Logan thanked Sherman for his kindness. 


Kate Virginia Cox

       Following the war, Thomas Logan borrowed five dollars and married Kate Virginia Cox of Virginia. He studied law in Richmond and soon became a railroad tycoon. He was one of the lucky ex-Confederates that didn't struggle to make a living. He was often associated with John D. Rockefeller. He died in New York City in 1914 and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery, the "Arlington of the Confederacy" in Richmond, Virginia. 


A post-war photograph of Thomas M. Logan


       

My buddy Jerry (right) and I at the grave of Thomas M. Logan




Thursday, January 26, 2017

James Green Martin: Old One Wing


Brigadier General James Green Martin

       James G. Martin was born in North Carolina in 1819. He entered West Point in 1836, graduating 14th in the Class of 1840. He stood eight places behind William "Cump" Sherman, two places behind George H. Thomas, and one behind future Confederate Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell. Like Ewell, James Martin would soon become bald. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the artillery. He spent his first few years in Maine and Rhode Island. 
       When the Mexican War began, he saw action under both Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. He fought at Monterrey, Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Contreras, and Churubusco. At Churubusco, he was wounded when canister fire struck him in the right arm. The wound was so severe, that it required amputation. He earned the nickname "Old One Wing" because of the loss of his arm. 
       Despite losing his arm, he remained in the U.S. Army until the Civil War began. He resigned in 1861 and returned to North Carolina, where Governor John Ellis made him a captain of cavalry and assigned him to an administrative role. 


A Photograph of Martin while in the U.S. Army

       It didn't take long for James Martin to grow tired of sitting behind a desk. In May of 1862, he requested a field command. President Davis commissioned Martin a brigadier general to date from May 15, 1862. He was given command of the District of North Carolina. He saw little action until given a brigade of his own in October of 1863. He was given four regiments of North Carolina troops and within weeks had them combat ready. He saw action in several minor engagements in southern Virginia and North Carolina. 
       He saw action at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia in May of 1864 and his brigade charged, overran a line of breastworks and sent the enemy troops flying in retreat. Martin was hoisted on the shoulder's of his men and carried through camp to loud cheers. 
       Sent to Cold Harbor to face Grant with Lee's army, Lee asked if Martin's troops would stand and fight the veterans of Grant's army. "Old One Wing" replied to Lee that his troops would fight as well as any veterans in Lee's army. He also was the first to predict that Grant would soon cross the James River and attempt to take Petersburg. 
       In June of 1864, James Martin's health began to fail him. He was taken from the front lines and given small jobs of guarding bridges and trestles. Martin's brigade remained with Lee under the command of William W. Kirkland. When Lee praised the behavior of Kirkland's brigade, Kirkland was quick to remind Lee that all such praise should go to "Old One Wing" because he had trained them. At that, General Lee stated, "General Martin is one to whom North Carolina owes a debt she can never repay."

James Green Martin

General Martin's resting place

       With the war having ended, General Martin was without a profession. He studied the law and soon began practicing his new profession. He also became very active in the Episcopal Church. "Old One Wing" died in 1878 at the age of 59 and rests today in Riverside Cemetery, Asheville, North Carolina. Ironically, as of this writing, the photograph on findagrave of General Martin is of Alabama Confederate Brigadier General Edward Dorr Tracy who has a head full of hair. 

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Edward Dorr Tracy (left) and James Green Martin



Thursday, January 19, 2017

James Byron Gordon: A Brave, Intelligent Commander

James Byron Gordon.jpg

James Byron Gordon

       One of the little known brigadier general's that gave his life for the Confederacy was James Byron Gordon of North Carolina. He was born in 1822 in Wilkes County, North Carolina. He was of Scottish descent. He was a distant cousin of Georgia Major General John Brown Gordon who attained a bit more fame. Prior to the war, Gordon was a business man and farmer.  He also served in the North Carolina State Legislature. 
       Gordon began the war as a lieutenant in the 1st North Carolina Cavalry. During the summer of 1861, he was promoted to major of the regiment. They were assigned to Jeb Stuart's brigade in Virginia. He saw a couple of engagements in late 1861. In the spring of 1862, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel when Laurence Baker was promoted to colonel. Baker had an alcohol problem and took an oath to abstain from drinking until the war concluded. Stuart noted that Baker wasn't near as dashing once he stopped drinking. 
       Gordon saw action during the Peninsula and Seven Days campaigns. During the summer of 1862, the 1st North Carolina Cavalry was placed in Wade Hampton's cavalry brigade. Gordon was noted for bravery, intelligence, and leadership in the battles of late 1862. He saw action at 2nd Manassas, Sharpsburg, and Stuart's raids. He fought at Brandy Station and at Gettysburg. When Hampton was wounded at Gettysburg, Baker took command of the brigade and Gordon led the regiment. 
       Gordon led the regiment in an attack at Hagerstown, Maryland and routed Kilpatrick's Federal brigade. Because of this action, Stuart and General Lee both recommended Gordon be promoted to brigadier general. He received his promotion on September 28, 1863 and took command of the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade. Gordon was wounded a month later in a skirmish, yet refused to leave the field. He had his horse shot from beneath him a week later. 


Marker where Gordon was mortally wounded

       When Sheridan led a raid against Richmond, Stuart was mortally wounded at Yellow Tavern on May 11, 1864. Gordon took command of the cavalry and defended Richmond once Stuart was wounded. The next day, Gordon was fighting Sheridan at Meadow Bridge when he too was mortally wounded. Carried to Richmond, he survived for six days, dying on May 18, 1864. He was one of Stuart's better cavalry commanders always distinguishing himself. He managed to save Richmond from Sheridan. Hampton seemed to think that Gordon would have received a promotion to major general before the war ended had he survived. 
       
James Byron Gordon

Gordon's grave in St. Paul's Episcopal Churchyard, Wilkesboro, North Carolina