Monday, September 30, 2013

On With The Assault

Colonel John N. Daly is lying to the right of Colonel Rogers

       The most famous commander killed at the Battle of Corinth on October 4, 1862 was William Peleg Rogers who commanded a brigade of Texas Infantry. Killed in the attack on Battery Robinette alongside of Colonel Rogers was Colonel John Daly, commander of the 18th Arkansas Infantry.

       I’ve attempted to write a blog about Colonel Daly for some time now, but there is very little information to be found about him. After months of research, I decided to publish what is known about this brave Arkansas colonel.
       John Daly was born in Tennessee and eventually became a lawyer in Ouachita County, Arkansas. He was 29 years old in the 1860 census and had married a lady named Mary Ann McCollum. Together they had one son named Richard Hugh Daly. Mary Ann was born in 1838 making her seven years younger than John.

       When the war began, John was elected lieutenant of Company I, 18th Arkansas Infantry which was organized Camden, Arkansas. He was soon elected lieutenant colonel and eventually colonel of the regiment.
       The regiment having been 1000 strong when organized was down to 425 men by September, 1862 because of sickness. They fought in the Battle of Iuka on September 19, 1862. They then marched to Corinth where they formed for battle on October 4, 1862 with just over 300 infantrymen. They advanced against Battery Robinette and received enfilading fire from Battery Williams to the south. Colonel Daly led the regiment forward over felled trees and up to the enemy breastworks.
       He was wounded as he led the assault with his sword in hand. He yelled, “On with the assault!” before collapsing on the ground mortally wounded. The fire at the works was so severe, that only 43 men returned from the charge.
       One soldier in the 18th Arkansas wrote, “On Saturday, our gallant colonel John Daly, leading his men, was mortally wounded in that sheet of fire and lead which no troops could withstand. On Monday, after the charge on Saturday, I found our Colonel John Daly, who commanded the 18th Arkansas, and a number of others of the regiment. A detail of Federals were burying the Confederate dead. It was horrible to contemplate the scene and look upon the blackened and bloated corpses.”

       Studying the photograph of Colonel Daly beside Colonel Rogers, I had assumed he was shot in the head. There appears to be blood on his forehead, but eyewitness accounts say he didn’t die until sometime the next day. He possibly was struck in the head and survived until the following day. I also wanted to find where he was buried and the best I can figure is that he rests where he fell near Battery Robinette. There is a marker there dedicated to Colonel Rogers and one to Brigadier General Joseph Lewis Hogg who died in Corinth of dysentery on May 16, 1862. I asked one of the Park Rangers there at the Battery Robinette Civil War Museum if Colonel John Daly was buried there alongside of Colonel William Peleg Rogers and she replied, “I’ve never heard of the man.”

       If you study the above picture, you'll notice what appears to be blood above Colonel Daly's right eye. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Love From The Tomb

Love From The Tomb

Brigadier General Junius Daniel

Junius Daniel was born in 1828 in Halifax, North Carolina. He lived there until given an appointment to West Point by President James K. Polk. He graduated 33 out of 42 in the class of 1851. His graduation was delayed a year because of an injury that occurred during artillery practice. He would serve seven years in the army before resigning to run a plantation in Louisiana. When the war began, Daniel immediately returned to North Carolina and offered his services to the Confederacy.
Daniel was made colonel of the 14th North Carolina Infantry. He was offered the position of colonel of the 43rd North Carolina Infantry and the 2nd North Carolina Cavalry. Moving to Virginia, he saw action during the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days Battles. He had a horse killed beneath him at Malvern Hill. Dazed, he walked to the rear and regaining his senses, mounted another horse and returned to the fight.
President Jefferson Davis was so impressed with Daniel that he promoted him brigadier general in September 1862. Sent to North Carolina with his brigade, Daniel missed Chancellorsville. Lee placed his brigade in Rodes Division for the Gettysburg Campaign. Daniel again distinguished himself in the fighting on the first day at Gettysburg where he lost more men than any other Confederate brigadier.
Daniel and his brigade wouldn’t be absent from Lee’s army again. He would see action in the Battle of the Wilderness. At the Battle of Spotsylvania when the Federal army overran the Mule Shoe, Daniel would see his last battle. As parts of the Confederate army attempted to resist the Federal onslaught, Daniel had his brigade well in hand. He urged his brigade forward against the enemy force and saluted his old 14th North Carolina Infantry personally.
He was then struck in the stomach by a bullet. There was nothing surgeons could do for him. They eased his pain as best they could. The next day he sent his wife Ellen Long (who he’d married just before the war began) a “message of love, love from the tomb.” He sent her his pocket watch and asked her to care for his servant, William. He also asked that his horse be taken care of and asked about how his brigade had fared in the fight. He then died.

General Daniel's pocket watch

General Robert E. Lee, Lieutenant General Richard Ewell, Major General John B. Gordon, and Brigadier General Bryan Grimes all praised the leadership ability of Junius Daniel. He was one of the Confederacy’s better brigade commanders and rumors circulated that Lee intended to promote him to major general.

Brigadier General Junius Daniel was 35 years old. He rests today in the Old Colonial Churchyard, Halifax, North Carolina. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

George Pickett the Great Commander

George Pickett the Great Commander

George Edward Pickett

Historian Thomas Desjardin noted, “General George Pickett commanded only about half of the troops who made the assault known today as 'Pickett's Charge'.”

The historical novel “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara describes Pickett as follows, “Gaudy and lovable, long-haired, perfumed. Last in his class at West Point, he makes up for a lack of wisdom with a lusty exuberance.”

Pickett did love a good time, but also a stiff drink. He was noted for his love of alcohol while a cadet at West Point. He was also noted for his arrogance. When Lee was asked for a lock of his hair, he turned it down saying he could hardly afford to give up any, but they might ask Pickett because of his long ringlets. The joke upset Pickett who didn't think it a bit funny.

James Dearing noted, “Pickett is not noted for keeping his temper...he ripped out with a whole handful of pretty strong words.”

Major John C. Haskell talking about Pickett's being wounded in the shoulder at Gaines Mill portrayed Pickett as anything but heroic. He claimed after Pickett was wounded, he was found “standing by his horse in a small hollow...bewailing himself. He called to me to send a litter as he was mortally wounded. I had none and was too busy with my men. He was very slightly wounded and perfectly able to take care of himself.”

Eppa Hunton who was known to dislike Pickett complained about he and his staff lying low on their horses when in an exposed position at Suffolk. Hunton of course rode erect to inspire his men. Hunton also noted that Pickett was a great and honorable soldier up until the time he engaged and married. He then began to lose his desire for battlefield heroics. There is a lot of truth in this statement.

Longstreet ever the friend grew tired of Pickett leaving his command during the night. Pickett decided to ask Sorrel for permission instead. Longstreet's aide Moxley Sorrel declined to take responsibility for Pickett's absence in case his division was attacked. Sorrel wrote, “Pickett went all the same, nothing could hold him back from that pursuit. I don't think his division benefited from such carpet-knight doings on the field.”

Historian Lesley Gordon stated, “His frequent absences, constant complaining, and bungling of even the simplest of orders, however, marked Pickett as an unreliable division leader.”

Following his failure at Gettysburg, he was sent to take New Berne and again failed miserably. The stress of responsibility was growing. His temper was showing a short fuse. When twenty-two men who had once been members of the North Carolina Home guard, yet had deserted to join the Union were captured, Pickett had a chance to take out his frustrations on someone other than himself. He had the prisoners hanged against the protest of Union General John J. Peck.

One Confederate overheard Pickett yell at two of the prisoners just before the court martial trial began, “God damn you, I reckon you will hardly ever go back there again, you damned rascals; I'll have you shot, and all other damned rascals who desert.”

It's quite possible that Pickett's friendship with Lieutenant General James Longstreet was the reason he was retained in command despite all his failures. The two men had been friends since the Mexican War when they'd fought side by side. Moxley Sorrel, an aide to Longstreet wrote, “I could always see how Longstreet looked after Pickett, and made us give him things very fully; indeed sometimes stay with him to make sure he did not get astray.”

When Bragg began to berate Pickett for his panicking about the Federal troop movements, Pickett requested to return to Longstreet's corps. Longstreet went so far as to write a letter to the war department asking that Pickett be returned to his command. On May 9, 1864, it seems that George Edward Pickett possibly suffered a nervous breakdown. Despite this setback, he would soon return to command of his old division.

Lee and Longstreet sent Pickett with his division and other troops under his command to Five Forks, the extreme right flank of Lee's army. There Pickett would command 19,000 men against Sheridan's 50,000 men. The odds were long, but they'd always been long for the Confederate army. Pickett marched toward the field on March 30 and his handling of his troops was questioned by many that witnessed his advance. The next morning, Pickett's men attacked Sheridan's troops and drove them from the field, With daylight still remaining and the Federal army in full retreat, Pickett inexplicably called off the attack. The next day on April 1, 1865, with Sheridan's men regrouped and moving against his force, Pickett did the unthinkable. Despite Lee's orders for him to hold Five Forks at all hazards, Pickett left the field. Pickett and cavalry commander Fitzhugh Lee moved several miles to the rear to attend a shad bake hosted by cavalry brigade commander Tom Rosser. While they ate and possible drank brandy, Pickett ignored reports of the attack against his troops.

As his line collapsed, Pickett mounted his horse and raced from the field. When one of Rooney Lee's couriers attempted to deliver a message to Pickett, he shouted for the man not to talk to him and continued his retreat. Pickett would lose over 4,000 men in the fiasco. It was the beginning of the end for General Lee's army.

Just before the surrender of the army, Robert E. Lee saw Pickett and asked his aides, “Is that man still with this army?” 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Beauregard Lost Shiloh Because of Hesitation

Beauregard Lost Shiloh Because of Hesitation

P.G.T. Beauregard

Every student of the Civil War has heard the story about how Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard blew the Southern victory at the Battle of Shiloh. General Albert Sidney Johnston had worked so hard throughout the day to win a desperately needed victory over Federal Major General Ulysses Grant only to have the victory squandered by Beauregard who stopped the action late in the day believing he would finish up the Union army the next morning.

Each time the story of Shiloh is brought up, one must endure this same story repeatedly. Is this story fact or myth? It is true that Grant's army was pushed all the way back to Pittsburg Landing overlooking the Tennessee River. It is true that many of his men had become demoralized and refused to fight. But in order to understand if Beauregard blew the victory that afternoon, we must look at the condition of the troops Grant had left and the condition of the troops Beauregard had to continue the battle. One must also take a look at the terrain Grant was defending and what Beauregard would have to advance through to reach his position.

Once Johnston was killed at Shiloh, many historians believe a lull fell upon the field that gave the Federal's time to regroup at the landing. The lull actually fell on the field as a result of the capture of over two-thousand Union troops. These men were taken, processed (weapons taken away), and then marched to the rear. Once this was completed, the Confederate's had about one hour of daylight remaining to deal with Grant. Brigadier General James R. Chalmers infantry brigade was given a fresh supply of ammunition and ordered forward. Brigadier General John K. Jackson's brigade was almost depleted of ammo, thus they were sent forward with Chalmers and instructed to rely upon the bayonet. Colonel Robert Trabue's brigade was sent forward with their fellow Confederate's. Two of his regiment's had newly captured Enfield rifles abandoned by the fleeing Federal troops.

These three brigades arrived at the ravine that contains Dill Branch about 6 p.m. For anyone who has walked through the terrain and up the steep hill on the north side of Dill Branch (I am one of those who have), it takes no great imagination to see the obstacle these weary men who'd been fighting since daylight were facing. For anyone who has worn Civil War era brogans on steep mossy ground (again I have), it's extra treacherous.

Hill overlooking Dill Branch

This brings us to the next question of what were these men facing once they actually struggled up that hill. At the top of this ridge, Grant's chief of artillery, Colonel Joseph Webster had arrayed fifty artillery pieces there to hold the last line. Chalmer's wrote about the attempt by his brigade to carry Grant's last line, “In attempting to storm the last ridge we were met by a fire from a whole line of batteries protected by infantry and assisted by shells from the gunboats. Our men struggled vainly to ascend the hill, which was very steep, making charge after charge without success.” He went on to report about a battery of Confederate artillery that was brought forward to assist his men, “Gage's battery was brought up...but suffered so severely that it was soon compelled to retire. This was the sixth fight in which we had been engaged during the day, and my men were too much exhausted to storm the batteries on the hill.”

Grant's last line just above Dill Branch Ravine

Historian James Lee McDonough stated, “Those who have criticized Beauregard for ordering the army to fall back about six o'clock have shown little understanding of the condition of the Rebel army or the terrain they had to cross. He has been criticized for not consulting the other commanders before withdrawing the army, but his decision was the right one and was probably based, at least in part, on intelligence of the total situation of his tired and exhausted troops as supplied by his staff officers.”

This was occurring after 6 p.m. What was happening on the Union side at this time? A brigade of Buell's army had arrived across the Tennessee River from Pittsburg Landing at 5 p.m. At 5:40, this brigade under Colonel Jacob Ammen were crossing the river to reinforce Grant. Also, Major General Lew Wallace's tardy division arrived on the field just after dark.

Beauregard wasn't wrong to call off the assault with what he had available to move against Grant's position at this point. The Confederate army was exhausted having fought all day and most units were low on ammunition. Still, much of the Confederate army was seeing battle for the first time and most units were down to half strength or less. The victory had disorganized the Confederate's as badly as it had their Union counterparts.

So we're left with the question of who was actually at fault for the loss of the Battle of Shiloh? Before entering the United States Military Academy at West Point, Beauregard had attended a school taught by two brothers who had served as lieutenants in Napoleon's army. Beauregard who was already of French descent was further enamored by the great French hero Napoleon.

Before departing Corinth for the showdown with the Federal army at Shiloh, Sidney Johnston, Beauregard's superior, wired President Davis in Richmond that his plan of operations was to turn the Federal left flank. In doing this, he would be required to place his strongest corps on the right flank. He told Davis he would place Hardee's large corps on the right, Bragg's corps in the middle, with Polk's weaker corps on the left. The reserve corps under Breckinridge would be placed behind Hardee's corps. What Johnston was attempting to do was push Grant's army away from the river and its route of escape. He wanted Grant's army pushed into the swamps northwest of Pittsburg Landing where they would be forced to surrender.

Beauregard arrived at Corinth recovering from throat surgery. Besides the throat surgery he was suffering from a bronchial infection. Thus he had his chief of staff Thomas Jordan draw up the battle plan. Jordan, understanding Beauregard's love of Napoleon, used the only Napoleonic battle plan he had in hand, the Battle of Waterloo. The plan called for all four corps arrayed in line one behind the other, thus the Confederate army of 40,000 men would strike the Federal army of 40,000 men one corps at a time. Basically, 10,000 men would strike the 40,000 man Union army alone each time.

Beauregard's alignment of the Confederate Army

Sidney Johnston accepted Beauregard's plan without objecting to a single thing. This was a fault that General Hardee had with General Johnston. The man was so easy going that he lacked the ability to override a strong-willed subordinate. Historian James Lee McDonough stated, “Beauregard's...colossal ego...made him fully capable of scrapping a superior's instructions and writing his own.”

The resulting battle plan resulted in confusion and the many ranks jumbled together. Each corps commander had a line almost three miles long and with the terrain and forests at Shiloh, had no way of controlling his entire corps. The result was a mass of men who couldn't be watched over by their own commanders. Most of the Confederate army being green troops with no combat experience made matters even worse.

After the war, President Davis was asked to speak in New Orleans at an unveiling of a monument to Sidney Johnston. With Beauregard in attendance, Davis said, “In the entire Shiloh Campaign, Johnston made only one mistake, he let another officer direct the march to the battlefield.” Davis was only close to being correct. Johnston allowed Beauregard to plan the entire campaign and thus lose that battle. The only difference in history and the myth we've been taught today is the fact that Beauregard lost the Battle of Shiloh before leaving Corinth, not the afternoon of the first day.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reviewers Needed

Tim will be releasing a new book soon and we need some people to review it for us.  If you feel up to a great historical mystery/fiction story please email me at and I will have his PR person get in contact with you.  We will need the reviews by September 25th.


The Myth of the Six Dead Generals

The Myth of the Six Dead Generals

My buddy Seab Hunter and I in behind the Carnton Plantation. The bodies of the generals were laid out on the lower back porch to the right.

The bodies of the generals were laid out on the far end of this photo.

I often hear about the six Confederate generals that were killed at Franklin. When people hear that I'm a Civil War historian and especially that I've written a book about the Battle of Franklin, they tend to tell about the bodies of the six Confederate generals that were laid out on the back porch of the Carnton Mansion. I'm not the type person to correct people, so I usually just listen politely.
In truth, there were only four generals brought to Carnton the morning after the battle. Major General Patrick Cleburne and Brigadier General John Adams were brought back in the same wagon. Brigadier General Otho Strahl and Brigadier General Hiram B. Granbury were also brought to Carnton. Brigadier General John C. Carter was mortally wounded, gut shot to be exact and lingered for about a week at the Harrison Home south of Winstead Hill. Brigadier General States Rights Gist was mortally wounded, shot in a leg and the chest and died during the night at a field hospital. He would be buried in the yard of a resident named William White the next day.
So how did the legend of six Confederate generals being laid out on the back porch of the Carnton Plantation get started. Usually, when a legend begins, it is based on some fact. That is the same in this case. As the bodies were brought in, they were laid out on the lower back porch of the Carnton plantation. Strahl, Adams, Cleburne, and Granbury were placed gently on the porch. So how could four bodies be mistaken for six generals?
There were two more officers laid out on the porch with the generals. Lieutenant Colonel Robert B. Young of the 10th Texas was found near his commander Brigadier General Hiram B. Granbury and also brought there. He lay on the porch next to his commander. Lieutenant John Marsh, one of Brigadier General Otho F. Strahl's staff officers was carried back to Carnton with his commander and placed on the porch. So we know there were six bodies placed side by side on the back porch at Carnton and there is where the rumors began.

Me at the grave of Colonel Robert B. Young, one of the bodies who lay with the generals at Carnton. Cleburne, Strahl, and Granbury would have been buried beside him here until removed to their homes. Lieutenant John Marsh still rests here beside Young.

Somewhere down the line, knowing there were six generals killed during the Battle of Franklin and hearing veterans talk about seeing the six bodies laid out on the back porch, people jumped to the conclusion that all six were generals rested there momentarily that morning.
People enjoy telling this story because it makes for a much more interesting tale. It has just become one more myth produced from that war. The truth doesn't take anything away from the heroism that occurred on that field of battle. Below are the pictures of the generals killed at Franklin and the officers laid out beside the generals at Carnton.

Brigadier General John C. Carter died a week later at the Harrison home.

Brigadier General States Rights Gist was buried at William White's house.

Major General Patrick R. Cleburne was carried to Carnton.

Brigadier General Hiram B. Granbury placed on the back porch at Carnton.

Brigadier General John Adams was brought to Carnton.

Brigadier General Otho F. Strahl was brought to Carnton.

Lieutenant John Marsh, aide to Strahl was brought back to Carnton. I have yet to find a photograph of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Young who was also laid out on the back porch with his commander General Granbury.