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What did you do in the War, Great-Great-Great Granddaddy?

Posted 02-08-2010 at 05:38 PM by Sock Puppet
Updated 02-08-2010 at 10:47 PM by Sock Puppet

My brother sent me a huge-assed email with his rather exhaustive research on what our triple-great-grandfather did during the Civil War years, as well as what happened in his general vicinity. He hung around, had a few laughs, killed some people, and may or may not have participated in wholesale slaughter of Native Americans under bullshit justifications.

Anyway, I thought some of you history perverts might enjoy some of this. I'm doing a full copypasta of my brother's composition, although I'm redacting the name so you don't find out who my triple-great-grandfather was and STEAL MY ENTIRE EXTENDED FAMILY'S IDENTITY, because I know how you bastards are.

If you actually slog through this :tldr: stuff, you'll be rewarded with various editorial comments my brother has made about some events. So if you take exception to any of said opinions, keep in mind that I don't really have a dog in the fight.

Quote:
A recap of the most major battles of the War Between the States and our ancestor’s role in them:

War’s Outbreak – 1861

Eastern Theater

April, 1861 - Fort Sumter, South Carolina: Bloodless Confederate siege and occupation of the fort/Confederate victory –

Trans-Mississippi (large area West of the Mississippi) Theater

Spring-summer, 1861 – pvt. WFM (GGG granddad) and his regiment, the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles, seize Federal forts in Texas to force their surrender (one of these seizures may have happened before Sumter, claims one historian – if so it would be the first Confederate offensive of the War). There are reports that the unit’s then commander, John Baylor, ordered the regiment to feint a truce with hostile Apache and then “exterminate” [murder] them, because he said that a Confederate law provided for the extermination of hostile Indians. Whether this order was carried out and if so, whether our grandfather participated, is not clear to me largely because a detachment of the regiment was sent on a different small scale mission at this time. I do know that a copy of the order, including its rationale, reached Jefferson Davis in Richmond, who shot back an enraged reply that there was no such law.

July, 1861 - Battle of 1st Bull Run/1st Manassas, Virginia/Confederate victory

Fall, 1861 - Battle of Ball’s Bluff, Virginia/Confederate Victory

Trans-Mississippi Theater

July, 1861 - Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Missouri/Confederate Victory - Federals surprise Confederates but are repulsed, due mostly to the Dutchman Franz Sigel’s ineptitude.

Cross-Theater Union Naval Blockade, several Southern ports controlled/Union Victory

Both sides wait and plan with bated breath for the rest of 1861

1862

Western Theater (West of Virginia and the eastern seaboard but East of the Big Muddy)

January, 1862 - Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky/Union Victory – Dumb Confederate general Zollicoffer is out of his depth and gets himself popped in the process. No real significance to this fight other than Kentucky’s fickle leanings were swayed toward the bluish persuasion.

February, 1862 - Battles of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, Tennessee/Union Victories – U.S. Grant, despite some valid criticism, was one of the few Federals to understand his own resources early on and learn from his mistakes, although his losses were very high throughout the War.

Trans-Mississippi Theater

March, 1862 - Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), Arkansas/Union Victory – Adroit Federal general Samuel Curtis uses his organizational skills to spank pretty boy Confederate Earl Van Dorn, effectively throws Van Dorn’s army east of Mississippi.

February, 1862 - Battle of Valverde, New Mexico Territory/Confederate Victory (Grandfather’s unit participated)

March, 1862 - Battle of Glorieta Pass, New Mexico Territory/Confederate tactical victory/Union Strategic victory – Ended Confederate operations West of Texas for the rest of the War (Confederate supply train almost completely destroyed due mostly to the rebel’s drunken and absentee commander, Sibley, as mentioned in “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”) Our GGG grandfather’s regiment (2nd Texas Mounted Rifles) did well despite the loss.

Western Theater

April, 1862 - Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing), Tennessee/Union Strategic Victory – both sides bloody each other about equally in the worst fighting up until that point. Confederates had to retreat into Mississippi.

Eastern Theater

April, 1862 - Shenandoah Valley Campaign (Stonewall Jackson), Virginia – assorted battles/Confederate Victory – Stonewall Jackson toys with bumbling Federals, kills many

May, 1862 - Seven Days Battles (McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign), Virginia/Confederate Victory – Organizationally speaking, could have made for a great Federal victory but McClellan was too slow and refined his soap too much, Lee took over the Army of Northern Virginia from Joseph Johnston and chased McClellan back to where he had started.

August, 1862 - 2nd Bull Run/2nd Manassas, Virginia/Confederate Victory – Federals get trounced a second time on the same field

September, 1862 - Antietam (Sharpsburg), Maryland/Bloody Stalemate – Lee eventually left the field but nothing is gained for the Union beyond the Confederate casualties – sound stalemate in all respects – bloodiest single day’s fighting of the war

-commonly assumed mid-war mark

Western Theater
October, 1862 - Perryville, Kentucky/Confederate Tactical Victory, Union Strategic Victory – ended Confederate aspirations to occupy Kentucky

October, 1862 – Corinth, Mississippi/Union Victory

Trans-Mississippi Theater

December, 1862 - Prairie Grove, Arkansas/Tactical Draw, Union Strategic Victory –end of most concerted rebel resistance in Arkansas (not all)

Eastern Theater

December, 1862 - Fredericksburg, Virginia/Confederate Victory – worst drubbing of Federals aside from Chancellorsville

Winter Inactivity

1863

Trans-Mississippi Theater

January, 1863 – Galveston, Texas (Union Navy vs. Confederate port defenders)/Confederate victory – for the moment, the Galveston port is still able to send supplies to the East, until the fall of Vicksburg. 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles (now re-designated 2nd Texas Cavalry) are in the fight.

Not much else happened in the Trans-Mississippi in 1863 except a small Oklahoma territory battle that resulted in Union victory. My research so far indicates that GGG granddad likely spent much of this year fighting Indians, but I don’t know where – probably Texas and/or Oklahoma.

Western Theater

December 31st, January 1, 1863 – Stones River/Tactical Draw, Union Strategic Victory – Establishes firmer Federal grasp of Tennessee – ironically, pro-Confederate West and Central Tennessee is occupied by Federals, and pro-Union East Tennessee is occupied by Confederates.

Eastern Theater

May, 1863 – Virginia – Chancellorsville/Confederate Victory – regarded as Lee’s greatest triumph, although this resulted in Jackson’s death from friendly fire and Lee thereby lost his closest and most able lieutenant. This is important because Lee’s leadership style didn’t involve ramming his will down the throats of his subordinates – in large part he simply expected his strategy to be carried out - and for a time this worked. But without Jackson, who had an uncanny ability of carrying out Lee’s will and then some, Lee’s lieutenants would perform unevenly for the rest of the War.

July, 1863 – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – Union Victory – ended any more Confederate invasions north – regarded as Lee’s greatest defeat. Confederate cavalry was practically asleep, which was unlike them. Rebels dominate the first day, but push Federals back to an impregnable position. Most criticize Lee for being in Penn at all, but I think more fault lies with the otherwise capable James Longstreet for being too slow in bringing his corps to Gettysburg.

July, 1863 – Vicksburg, Mississippi (siege of fortress Vicksburg ends)/Union Victory – Cut off Trans-Mississippi (port, supplies, and cattle) from rest of Confederacy, Federals now completely control Mississippi river. Although it is his eighth try and had been planning and trying this for about a year, Grant’s persistence pays off.

July of 1863 was a very bad month for the Confederacy

Western Theater

September, 1863 – Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia/Rare sound Confederate Victory in the Western theater, but Gen’l Bragg failed to exploit it.

Fall, 1863 – Chattanooga Campaign, Tennessee/Grant salvages situation brought about by Chickamauga defeat and pushes rebels back into Georgia – this one is commonly regarded as one of the most important Union victories, as it cut off Confederate attempts in Tennessee and put them on the defensive to hold one of their last strongholds, Georgia.

Eastern Theater

Fall, 1863 – Mine Run Campaign, Virginia – Meade, in a prolonged pursuit of Lee post-Gettysburg, fights him in a series of smaller scale and inconclusive battles.

1864 – commonly regarded as the start of the late-War period

Eastern Theater

Grant takes command of eastern Federal Army of the Potomac. He is, for all practical purposes, the army’s sixth commander.

April – June, 1864 – Virginia – Grant’s Overland Campaign (battles: Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor), First two battles are bloody stalemates, resulting in some of the most gruesome fighting of the war. They are regarded as stalemates because Grant continued his advance, although he did, technically, leave the field. Cold Harbor was a bloody repulse for Grant and the only engagement of the War he wished he had not initiated.

Trans-Mississippi Theater

March-May, 1864 – Red River Campaign, Louisiana/rare late-war Confederate victory – Political Federal General Nathaniel Banks – who evidently had not received enough smacking from Stonewall Jackson in the Valley Campaign – went on an expedition with a sizable force in order to plunder Southern cotton and possibly establish a New England colony in Texas, where rebellious Southerners could be taught solipsistic New England virtues. To his credit, Grant disapproved of this plan because it held no vital importance to the Union cause, but ultimately he and Lincoln would relent because Banks could cause trouble for both politically if he wasn’t pacified. So instead of the late Stonewall smacking him around, this time native Virginian and resident Louisianan Richard Taylor (son of former president Zachary Taylor) got to whap him. Bank’s soldiers, hardy Western Feds, performed well, but Banks was just too inept to assert his power. I believe GGG grandfather *[Edit-see below] served as a private rebel cavalryman in this campaign, which is why I’ve expounded so much here, in addition to it being the most interesting late War campaign all around, because of its backwater-ness. After this campaign, not much happened in the Trans-Mississippi.

Western Theater

June-July-August, 1864, Atlanta Campaign – Sherman pushes through Georgia, winning most battles due to his superior numbers and supplies. This is what I have the most problems with: people praising Sherman for his military achievements at this juncture. True, he won most of the battles here, due to the reasons mentioned, but he was checked every time he met with a real Confederate force, and was bloodily repulsed by Joe Johnston’s vastly inferior numbers at Kennesaw Mountain.

November, December, 1864 – Battles of Franklin and Nashville, Tennessee – Hood leads his mean into head-on slaughter at the hands of the Federals. One of the stupidest and most desperate moves of the War, virtually disintegrating his army.

Eastern Theater

Summer, 1864-April, 1865 – Seige of Petersburg – Grant eventually overwhelms Lee with numbers, and then envelopes him after retreating from Petersburg entrenchments. Fights at Five Forks and the last stand at Appomattox, and then the capitulation of Lee’s army, which effectively ended the War.

Lincoln is assassinated about a week later, which riles Federal passions and probably does much to increase the suffering of Reconstruction.

Western Theater

April, 1865 – Confederate gen’l Joseph Johnston reassumes command of the remnants of the army Hood had fought to pieces and tries to oppose Sherman, who has moved through Georgia and South and North Carolina, at a small NC town called Bentonville. After a fight, Johnston asks for terms, Sherman gives uncharacteristically generous ones, and Johnston surrenders.

Jefferson Davis captured by Federals. He is imprisoned for two years, then set free, the Federal government unwilling to try him for treason, probably because they feared that secession might be legally upheld, thereby making themselves the bad guy, and incidentally, making a cruel farce out of the bloodiest war waged on the continent. The way to continue to be the good guy in the eyes of the world was to promote, at least in lip service, a congenial reunion.

Trans-Mississippi Theater

Alleged Lincoln conspirators hanged in June

The bulk of the Trans-Mississippi department having surrendered or disbanded (I think GGG granddad simply disbanded and went home), a fight is made between the two sides in South Texas at Palmito Ranch. It is fought in June, and ironically, it is a Confederate victory.

General Stand Watie (leader of Native American Confederate cavalry raiders) is the last gen’l to surrender Confederate forces.

--I know GGG granddad was active (at least his regiment was active) in the seizure of the Federal fort in 1861, the ill-fated New Mexico campaign in 1862, the defense of Galveston on New Year’s day, 1863, and the Red River Louisiana Campaign of 1864. That would mean that he fought and/or campaigned in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona territories, Louisiana, Arkansas, and perhaps the Oklahoma Territory – at one time or another. Aside from Missouri, that would comprise almost the entire department of the Trans-Mississippi South.
*Edit: It appears that BroPuppet has already made a revision, as follows:

Quote:
The 2nd Texas did not participate in the Red River Campaign of 1864 as I had thought. What action they saw in Louisiana was the year prior, as part of an effort to relieve pressure from the siege of Vicksburg – the Confederate term for these operations is “The Louisiana Expedition.”

They were pressured by general Richard Taylor (son of former president Taylor) to participate in the defensive operations of Red River, but they considered themselves independent of his command and went back to Texas, their first duty they considered to defend Texas from Union invaders. That sounds like Texans.

1864 and 1865 they spent patrolling the eastern-ish Texas area, anticipating a Federal invasion that never came. There is an account of them just stealing their new clothes at one time, rather than paying for them. Rather than surrender to anyone, I think they just disbanded and went home in ’65.
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