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1st Artillery Regiment (Light)
Battery L
George Breck columns
Chapter XXXVIII:

II Introduction

1. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades, p. 11.
2. Rochester Union and Advertiser, Oct. 16, 1871.
3. Rochester would become notable in another way, as a prominent center for the very movement Breck disdained: Abolitionism. Frederick Douglass, the preeminent black spokesman of his era, made Rochester his home and published his Douglass’ Monthly there. Susan B. Anthony, the famous suffragette and abolitionist, also lived in Rochester. John Brown was a frequent visitor to both in the years before the war, and William Seward coined the memorable phrase “irrepressible conflict” in a speech at Rochester.
4. Rochester Union and Advertiser, Oct.27, 1876; Daily American Directory of the City of Rochester for 1849-50, pp. 70-71.
5. Breck, p. 91.
6. Breck, p. 121.
7. Breck, p. 144.
8. Breck, p. 95-96.
9. Breck, p. 119.
10. Breck, pp. 138-139.
11. Breck, p.117.
12. Wiley, p. 40.
13. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades, pp. 117-130.
14. Breck and the Union and Advertiser were perfectly suited to each other. The U&A, one of three wartime dailies in Rochester, was staunchly Democratic. Editor Isaac Butts, the “stormy petrel” of Rochester journalism, adamantly opposed the Emancipation Proclamation, and during much of the conflict criticized Lincoln’s handling of the war. Butts thought so highly of Breck as to tell him he would have a job waiting for him whenever he left the service. (Breck, pp. 107-108) The other two Rochester dailies, the Evening Express and the Daily Democrat, were of Republican persuasion, especially the Express. For a good description of these partisan newspapers during the war, see Ruth Marsh’s fine overview of Rochester’s war effort, “A History of Rochester’s Part in the Civil War.” The Rochester Historical Society Publications, Vol. 22. Rochester: Rochester Historical Society, 1944; see also Blake McKelvey’s “Rochester’s Part in the Civil War,” Rochester History, Vol. 23, No. 1, January 1961.
15. McPherson, For Cause, pp. 176-77.
16. Breck, pp. 143-44, 98.
17. Breck ,p. 148.
18. Rochester Union and Advertiser, April 20 and Sept. 18, 1861.
19. Rochester Union and Advertiser, Oct. 7, 1861.

IV Who wouldn’t be a soldier
pp. 9-22

1. Marcotte, pp. 23, 62 and 109.
2. Bailey, a Regular Army captain and commissary of subsistence, was appointed colonel of the 1st New York Light Artillery on Sept. 25, 1861. He was killed in action at Fair Oaks, Va., on May 31, 1862, during the Peninsular Campaign. (Phisterer 2:1220) Allan Nevins says he may have been shot in the back by a resentful subordinate. (p. xii)
3. Brig. Gen. Van Valkenburgh was commander of the Elmira depot. (Phisterer I:15)
4. Rochester’s first volunteer infantry regiment to enter service during the Civil War.
5. Quinby, a West Point graduate, was a University of Rochester professor and the first commander of the 13th New York. He later commanded a division under Grant during the opening stages of the Vicksburg campaign. Martin Anderson was president of the University of Rochester. Palmer, an attorney and former judge, was one of 16 men who formed Monroe County’s military committee in charge of recruitment. He reluctantly accepted command of the 108th New York Infantry the following summer as its first colonel, and led it during its baptism of fire at the Sunken Road at Antietam. (Washburn, George H., A Complete Military History and Record of the 108th Regiment N.Y. Vols. From 1862 to 1894, Rochester: E.R. Andrews, 1894, p.188)
6. Capt. John Reynolds’ brother.
7. The “First Cattaraugus Regiment” fought with the Army of the Potomac from Yorktown through the end of the war.
8. The 1st New York Light Artillery departed for Washington on Oct. 29, though still lacking some of the batteries that would ultimately be assigned to it, including, as it would soon develop, Reynolds’ battery.
9. Fairchild, a Rochester insurance agent, was colonel of the 89th New York Volunteer Infantry from December 1861 until August 1865. He was later breveted a brigadier general.
10. Union privates were paid $13 a month, until June 20, 1864, when their pay was increased to $16 a month. Commissioned officers’ pay ranged from $105.50 a month for lieutenants to $212 a month for a colonel. (Boatner, p. 624)
11. Crounse’s command became Battery K of the 1st New York Light Artillery. (Phisterer II:1217) We will hear more of this battery later. It served in the Shenandoah Valley, then with the Army of Virginia during the Second Bull Run campaign, and with the Army of the Potomac from Antietam until the spring of 1864, when it was assigned to the defenses of Washington, D.C. (Dyer III: 1391)
12. The lake is part of western New York’s Finger Lakes region, so called because the narrow lakes run roughly parallel to each other, like the fingers of hand. It has since become a major grape growing and wine making region.
13. Zouaves were the well-drilled Algerian light infantrymen of the French colonial armies. Their reputed prowess in battle – and their gaudy uniforms, including gaiters, baggy trousers, short, open jackets and turbans or fezzes – made them the envy of and model for militia units and several volunteer regiments on both sides during the Civil War.
14. Breck is apparently referring to the shelling of Forts Beauregard and Walker on Nov. 7, leading to the capture of Port Royal, S.C., which secured for the North a haven and supply depot for its blockade fleet.
15. Brig. Gen. Rathbone was commander of the Albany recruit depot.
16. Indeed, by 1864, the various batteries of the 1st New York Light Artillery were scattered from the Army of the Potomac in Virginia to Sherman’s forces operating against Atlanta.
17. Barry, a Regular Army artillery officer before the war, was chief of artillery for Gen. McDowell at First Bull, for Gen. McClellan during his Peninsular campaign, and later for Gen. Sherman during his Atlanta and Carolina campaigns. (Warner, pp. 22-23)
18. Hillhouse, of Geneva, N.Y., was appointed the state’s adjutant general in 1861. (Phisterer 1:14)
19. The Western House of Refuge opened in 1849 in Rochester as a detention center and reform school for juvenile delinquents.
20. A trencher was a wooden bowl or plate.
21. George B. McClellan, whom Breck would come to idolize, was “one of the most controversial figures in American military history,” notes Ezra J. Warner. He was a West Point graduate and Mexican War veteran who left the Regular Army in 1857 to enter the railroad business, eventually becoming president of Ohio & Mississippi Railroad. At the outbreak of the war McClellan was put in charge of all forces in Ohio and quickly distinguished himself not only with his superb organizational skills but with a successful campaign to secure the loyal areas of western Virginia. This prompted Lincoln in August 1861 to put him in command of the Union forces that had been defeated at Bull Run. In November he was appointed general-in-chief of all Union armies as well. McClellan’s greatest contribution was whipping the Army of the Potomac into a superb fighting force. Ultimately, however, he proved overly cautious on the battlefield. (Warner, pp. 290-292)
22. A haversack was a bag for carrying rations, worn with a strap over one shoulder and hanging at the opposite hip. A knapsack was a backpack used for carrying clothing and other items.
23. Cothran’s Battery M of the 1st N.Y. Light Artillery was recruited at Lockport, Rochester and Albany. It served in the Shenandoah, then with the Army of Virginia during the Second Bull Run campaign, with the Army of the Potomac from Antietam to Gettysburg, and with Sherman during the Atlanta campaign, the March to the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign. (Phisterer 2:1210-1213) Wiedrich’s Battery I of the 1st N.Y. Light Artillery, recruited at Buffalo, Lancaster, Amherst and Elmira, followed a similar path. Wiedrich later served as lieutenant colonel with the 15th N.Y. Heavy Artillery. (Phisterer 2:1210-1213) An incomplete battery organized at Albany by Albert Von Puttkammer, 45, was consolidated with another incomplete battery recruited at Buffalo and at Ashtabula, Ohio to form the 11th Independent N.Y. Battery under Puttkammer's command. Initially assigned to Pope’s Army of Virginia, it later served with the Army of the Potomac until the end of the war. (Phisterer 2:1585-1587)
24. Fredendall, a captain in the 25th New York militia, was authorized to recruit a regiment. However, his men were consolidated with another regiment, the 91st New York, in which Fredendall was not commissioned. (Phisterer 4: 3025)
25. Sibley tents, invented by Henry Hopkins Sibley before the war, were conical in shape, like a teepee, with a central pole. Each tent could accommodate 12 soldiers who would sleep in a circular pattern around the tent, with either heads or feet pointing inward. Though frequently used in permanent encampments, they were seldom used during campaigns in the field. (Garrison, pp. 227-228; Boatner, p. 760)
26. Rochester Union and Advertiser, Dec. 3, 5, 1861.
27. Rochester Union and Advertiser, Dec. 21, 31, 1861.
28. Rochester Union and Advertiser, Jan. 22, 1862.

V Mud, mud, mud
pp. 23-40

1. The U.S. government issued orders, effective Jan. 1, 1862, placing recruiting in each state under the charge of a general superintendent, and directing that general depots be provided for collection and instruction of recruits. Major John T. Sprague of the Regular Army was detailed by the War Department to be general superintendent for New York State. (Phisterer 1:29) These orders remained in effect only until April 3.
2. The Union Refreshment Saloon in Philadelphia became one of the most famous stopover points for Union soldiers heading to the “front.” Boatner, in his Civil War Dictionary, explains that the origins of this remarkable institution can be traced to April 23, 1861, when “there occurred in a working-class district one of those spontaneous outbreaks of good will during which the people suddenly came pouring out of the houses bearing food and water for the thirsty, tired men” of a howitzer battery passing through the city on their way to Washington. Seeing this, Mary W. Lee “then set up a stove and coffeepot in an old boathouse and called it the Union Refreshment Saloon. This grew to include bathing facilities, dormitories, (and) a medical center, serving 4,000,000 during the war. (Boatner, p. 476)
3. Nevins, in his introduction to Wainwright’s war diaries, explains that “Batteries had to possess much larger numbers both of men and horses than most people at the time realized. Roughly twenty men, expertly trained, were required for each gun.” Each gun, attached to a limber, required a team of horses. In addition, each gun required a caisson, loaded with spare parts and ammunition, also drawn by a team of horses. “To mount a light battery of six guns properly, with a caisson to each gun, using six-horse teams, demanded eighty-four horses,” Nevins notes. “A horse battery, in which the cannoneers were mounted, required 149 horses. Then additional horses were wanted for battery wagons and forage. We can understand why Wainwright constantly worried over the losses among his horses from bad treatment – overstrain, the wearing of harness day and night, insufficient shelter, and underfeeding … After each action, the artillery commander first mournfully counted his dead and wounded, and then reckoned the number of his horses slain.” (Wainwright, p. x)
4. Sprague’s death, on Jan. 12, was all too typical. Four weeks earlier, he came down with the measles, seemed to recover, then caught a cold that “settled on his lungs.” Measles was often the first disease to strike a new unit, usually within months of its organization, especially in winter months. Improper care or undue exposure often led to pneumonia or other serious complications. By the end of the war, two soldiers would die of disease for every one killed on the battlefield. (Rochester Union and Advertiser, Jan. 16, 1862; Wiley, p. 133)
5. Forsyth, a former Rochesterian whose father still lived in the city, was apparently a friend of Breck’s and is mentioned frequently by him. Forsyth led a distinguished military career, ending the war with brevet rank of brigadier general for distinguished service under Sheridan in the Shenandoah and at Dinwiddie Courthouse, and later serving on Sheridan’s staff during the Indian wars. (Boatner, p. 292) Rew was editor of the Rochester Evening Express newspaper.
6. The three-inch ordnance rifles used by Battery L had a theoretical range of about 6,200 yards when firing solid shot at a 35-degree elevation. But in actual practice, effective maximum range was about 2,400 yards. (Naisawald, p. 537) The other two principal field artillery guns used in the Union army were the smoothbore Napoleons made of bronze, and the rifled Parrotts made of cast-iron with a distinctive reinforcing jacket of wrought iron shrunk around the breech. (Naisawald, pp. 36-37)
7. Initially, the North was fighting to save the union and maintain the Constitution. The Constitution legitimized slavery, so Union officers were instructed to return escaped slaves to their owners, even in Confederate territory. However, Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, who had moved on after securing Maryland to command the federal garrison at Fortress Monroe in Virginia, soon found a way around this distasteful requirement. When three slaves who had been working on Confederate fortifications slipped into his lines, he declared them “contraband of war” and refused to return them, because they had been employed by the enemy for military purposes. Since Virginia had seceded from the Union, he reasoned, the Fugitive-Slave Act no longer applied to that state. (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 290-292)
8. Much of the Union strategy in the west involved seizing the Mississippi River and its tributaries, which could carry invading armies into the heart of the Confederacy. Control of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, for example, would help the North control much of Kentucky and western Tennessee, Bruce Catton notes. Forts Henry and Donelson guarded these rivers. Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Flag Officer Andrew Foote launched a joint Army-Navy operation to seize them. Fort Henry was taken easily; Fort Donelson proved a tougher nut to crack, but finally surrendered on Feb. 16. Grant took 15,000 prisoners and the North had its first major victory of the war. (Catton, Picture History, p. 119)
9. The seeming inability of the Confederacy to defend its extensive coastline in the face of the North’s naval supremacy was demonstrated by the successful army/navy capture of Roanoke Island in North Carolina by Gen. Ambrose Burnside on Feb. 7 and 8. The capture gave the Union control of Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. By April 1862, notes James McPherson, “every Atlantic coast harbor of importance except Charleston and Wilmington (N.C.) was in Union hands or closed to blockade runners.” (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 306-307)
10. Willie Lincoln, age 11, died February 20 of what was then called “bilious fever.” Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, were devastated.
11. Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott, hero of the war with Mexico 15 years earlier, was general in chief of the U.S. Army when the Civil War began. However, he was 75, “very old now, physically all but helpless, perhaps touched with senility,” Catton has written. In November 1861 he resigned and McClellan replaced him in overall command of Union forces – but not before Scott had roughed out a strategy by which the north would eventually win the war. He envisioned first a blockade of the Southern seacoast and a sealing of inland borders, then a drive down the Mississippi “constricting the vitality out of the Confederacy,” Catton notes. This would buy time to raise large armies of invasion to carve up what was left. (Catton, Picture History, pp. 61-62)

VI Too good to be true
pp. 41-90

1. McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 224.
2. The property, in fact, was on the estate of George Hume “Maryland” Steuart, a well-to-do Marylander whose land and mansion were seized by Federal authorities, and who figured prominently as a general with the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. (Sheads and Toomey, pp. 176, 191-192) Steuart commanded a brigade at Gettysburg, and was one of two generals captured during Hancock’s famous surprise attack on the Salient at Spotsylvania in 1864.
3. Maj. Gen.. John A Dix assumed command of the Department of Maryland in July 1861. He is perhaps most famous for co-signing, with Confederate Major Gen. D. H. Hill, the Dix-Hill Cartel on prisoner exchanges the following year, and for suppressing the New York City draft riots in 1863. McKim’s Mansion was the estate and home of merchant John S. McKim. (Warner, pp. 125-126; Sheads and Toomey, p. 129)
4. The battery later served in Louisiana and participated in the ill-fated Red River campaign in 1864, losing all its guns in the Union defeat at Sabine Cross-Roads. (OR 1:34/1, pp. 462-463)
5. Abram Duryee, a wealthy mahogany importer, had a distinguished militia career before the war, and on the eve of the conflict recruited a volunteer regiment, the 5th New York, known as Duryee’s Zouaves. This unit saw action at Big Bethel in the first skirmish of the war. Duryee was then promoted brigadier general of volunteers, and was later wounded at Second Bull Run, South Mountain and Antietam. He resigned when a junior officer was promoted ahead of him for division command. (Warner, p. 133)
6. Ross Winans, and his son Thomas, both of Baltimore, were railroad engineers and shipbuilders. Ross was also a member of the Maryland legislature and was arrested twice in 1861 for allegedly being a Confederate sympathizer, building pikes and being “one of the disloyal members of the Maryland Legislature.” He was released both times after giving his parole of honor that he would not commit any act of hostility against the U.S. government. (OR series 1, vol. 2, pp. 639-640; series 1, vol. 5, p. 194; series 2, vol. 1, p. 671; Sheads and Toomey, pp. 184-185)
7. Though many people in the North viewed Baltimore “purely as a rebel stronghold,” note Sheads and Toomey, the city’s post-colonial development as a major industrial center had created a new social structure that fostered a strong core of Union sentiment. Granted, much of the city’s slave-owning upper class was solidly pro-secession. However, waves of German and Irish immigrants that had arrived in the 1850s were pro-Union, as were many of the wealthy industrialists who had arrived from the North. Perhaps no better indication of the strength of Union sentiment in the city and the state is the fact that Maryland enlistments in the Union army outnumbered those in the Confederate army three to one. (Sheads and Toomey, pp. 135-144)
8. William Yancey of Alabama was a leading proponent of secession, a member of the Confederate Senate, and a Confederate commissioner to England and France. Louis T. Wigfall of Texas was a member of the Confederate Senate, and became an outspoken critic of Jefferson Davis. (McPherson, p. 606)
9. Loudon Park Cemetery on Frederick Road is the largest cemetery in Baltimore, and contains the remains of about 2,300 Union and 650 Confederate soldiers. (Sheads and Toomey, p. 185)
10. See Sheads and Toomey, pp. 110-111, for another description of this execution.
11. Columbiads were large caliber, muzzle-loading, smoothbore artillery pieces, often used for coastal fortifications because they could fire a large projectile at high elevation over a great distance.
12. Of all Civil War artillery ammunition, canister was the “only really effective round,” L. Van Loan Naisawald contends. It consisted of a tin can, filled with small cast-iron or lead balls that scattered immediately upon leaving the muzzle, with the effect of a giant shotgun. It was lethal when used against masses of infantry at about 400 yards or less, especially when fired from smoothbore artillery pieces. Shells were any variety of hollow round or spherical projectiles, containing black powder, which was supposed to be detonated by a fuze, causing the shell to explode and spew fragments in all directions. However, fuzes were often unreliable, and the black powder sometimes did not properly fragment the shells. Shrapnel, or spherical case shot, was also hollow but contained lead bullets and a powder charge. In theory, this would extend the benefits of canister to longer ranges, but unreliable fuzes often hindered this. Artillery pieces also fired solid projectiles, which could be skipped into enemy troops like bowling balls. (See Naisawald, pp. 537-545; Boatner, pp. 119, 738, 758-759)
13. On March 7, Gen. Joseph Johnston, commander of the Confederate forces threatening Washington in northern Virginia, ordered his soldiers to withdraw behind the Rappahannock River. On March 10, McClellan crossed the Potomac in pursuit. It was soon apparent that the Confederate positions were much less powerful than McClellan had claimed to justify his inactivity. (Bailey, Ronald H., Forward to Richmond: McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign, Alexandria: Time-Life Books, 1983, pp. 83-86)
14. On April 19, 1861, the 6th Massachusetts Regiment, en route to Washington, D.C., was confronted by a mob of Southern sympathizers in Baltimore. Four soldiers and 11 civilians were killed in the ensuing melee. (Sheads and Toomey, pp. 14-19, 153-154)
15. The regiment was ordered to New Berne, N.C., and served in that state the rest of the war. (Dyer III:1253)
16. James Wadsworth, a wealthy landowner and prominent Republican from Geneseo, N.Y., was military governor of Washington, D.C., from March to November of 1862, and later served as a division commander in the Army of the Potomac.
17. This New York City regiment left Baltimore to serve in the Peninsular Campaign with McClellan’s Army of the Potomac. It participated in the siege at Yorktown, and suffered heavy losses in the fighting at Gaines’ Mill. (Phisterer, 2:1751)
18. The shot tower, made of brick, was the tallest structure in America when it was built in 1828. It survives to this day as a unique landmark. Molten lead was dropped from the top of the tower through a sieve-like device into a vat of cold water, forming lead shot. See National Park Service “Baltimore: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary” at
19. Congress, especially the Senate, was firmly controlled by “New England-born radicals” after the southern states seceded. As a result, seven emancipation or confiscation bills became law in the first half of 1862, including one to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and another, passed March 13, forbidding army officers to return fugitive slaves to their masters. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 423)
20. Soldiers’ pay was often months overdue. This deliberate postponement of pay was a persistent – and demoralizing – problem throughout the war. Indeed, “No other government policy had a greater effect in discouraging married men from volunteering …” Geary has noted. When Gen. Grant asked why his troops had not been paid, Army Chief of Staff Henry Halleck cited the “want of money in the Treasury,” and the competing demands from contractors who provided the army with food, clothing and ammunition. (Geary, p. 9)
21. By mid March, McClellan, at long last, was ready to advance on Richmond – not overland, but by transporting his army by boat to Fortress Monroe, then advancing up the peninsular between the James and York Rivers. Almost immediately, his forces came up against a thinly-held Confederate line of defense extending across the peninsula, anchored at Yorktown. McClellan, exhibiting his trademark caution, settled in for a siege.
22. McClellan’s chronic hesitancy to move against the enemy, his inflated estimates of enemy strength, his failure to capitalize on battlefield opportunities, and his opposition to emancipation created a multitude of critics inside and outside the Lincoln administration.
23. Fort Delaware, just up the coast from Fort McHenry on an island in Delaware Bay, became the most dreaded of all Union POW compounds, notes Lonnie Speer. Confederate prisoners were routinely tortured, bucked and gagged or left hanging from their thumbs for the smallest infractions; forced labor was routine amid muddy, squalid conditions. 2,460 Confederate prisoners died there. (Speer, pp. 46, 143-145, 325)
24. Relay House, about 7 miles southwest of Baltimore on the Patapsco River, was “perhaps the most important railroad station in the country in 1861,” note Sheads and Toomey (p. 30). It was crucial to maintaining vital rail links to Washington. It was near the turnpike linking Baltimore and Washington, but even more importantly was at the juncture of the strategic Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which ran east and west, and a branch line running south to Washington. The Official Records are replete with references by Union officials to Relay House during the first weeks of the war.
25. Gen. Benjamin Butler, often derided as an inept political general, may have made his most significant contribution to the Union war effort at the very beginning when “he almost single-handedly saved the state of Maryland for the Union,” note Sheads and Toomey. In addition to securing Annapolis and the Relay House, Butler occupied this prominent hilltop in south Baltimore on May 13-14, 1861, in effect taking Baltimore “out of the war as far as the Confederacy was concerned.” A strong fortification was subsequently built here, containing 42 guns by September 1861. (Sheads and Toomey, pp. 127, 32-33)
26. This “first land battle” of the Civil War – actually a minor skirmish – occurred June 10, 1861, near Newport News, Va., when seven Union regiments under Butler attacked a Confederate outpost. The Federal regiments became confused, fired into each other and were finally driven off by artillery fire. Thirty of the 76 Union casualties were suffered by the 3rd New York. (Phisterer 2: 1719-1720; Boatner, p. 63)
27. Civil War armies were organized as follows: Two or more regiments formed a brigade. Two or more brigades formed a division; two or more divisions, a corps. A major issue throughout the war, especially in the Union army, was how to properly assign artillery batteries. Initially they were often parceled out among the various brigades, coming under the control of the infantry officers who commanded brigades. However, this hindered the ability to mass large numbers of artillery at key points on the battlefield, and keep them properly supplied. As we shall see later, various attempts were made to group batteries together into artillery brigades or reserves, under command of artillery officers, so they could be used to maximum effect.
28. When Flag Officer David G. Farragut’s fleet ran past Forts Jackson and St. Philip on the Mississippi River on April 24, New Orlean’s fate was sealed. The South lost its largest city and greatest seaport; the North gained a foothold to begin securing the Mississippi and thereby splitting the Confederacy.
29. Though greeted in the North as a great “victory,” McClellan’s protracted siege at Yorktown was a missed opportunity. When McClellan arrived there the first week of April with 58,000 troops, only 13,000 Confederates occupied a 14-mile defensive line between the James and York rivers, anchored at Yorktown. Yet, McClellan, overestimating Rebel strength, settled into a month-long siege, meticulously hauling up heavy guns and digging approaches. “No one but McClellan could have hesitated to attack,” Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston remarked. The Confederates finally evacuated the night of May 3-4, just as McClellan prepared to launch his grand assault.
30. The U.S.S. Merrimack was a forty-gun steam frigate that Federal authorities scuttled in the Gosport navy yard near Norfolk, Va., after Virginia passed its ordnance of secession. The hull remained intact, however, and was rebuilt as the Confederacy’s first ironclad warship, the C.S.S. Virginia. On March 8 it steamed out into Hampton Roads, destroying two federal warships and running a third aground. The next day the North’s answer – the ironclad Monitor – fought the Virginia to a draw, and in the process made the world’s wooden navies obsolete. (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 220-221, 307-311)
31. In fact, Halleck was painstakingly closing in on Beauregard’s men at Corinth, Miss. Beauregard evacuated the city by the end of May. (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 349-350)
32. Ordinary dirt roads could quickly become pitted, muddy and virtually impassable during bad weather, greatly hindering military movements. Hence Breck’s appreciation for the macadamized roads he encountered in Maryland and, more importantly, in Virginia. They were named after Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam, who was credited with developing the road-building method in England during the early 1800s. Macadam pavement consisted of crushed rock packed tightly into thin layers, then covered by a top surface of sand or finely crushed stone that was rolled to provide “a well-bound surface resistant to the penetrating damage of rain, ice and snow.” The thickness of these roads ranged from seven to 18 inches or more. (“A History of Roads in Virginia: the most convenient wayes,” Virginia Department of Transportation Office of Public Affairs, 2002, p. 7)
33. Flora Temple, the "bob-tailed nag" of Stephen Foster's song, Camptown Races, was a legendary trotting horse of the 1850s and early 1860s, winning 92 races, and placing second 14 times. Source: Flora Temple Web page, maintained by Sue Greenhagen, Morrisville State College, Morrisville, N.Y., at
34. The famous Confederate ironclad, “too unseaworthy to fight her way into open water and too deep-drafted to retreat up the James River,” was blown up by its crew on May 11 after Norfolk was captured by Union soldiers. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 313)
35. When Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston evacuated the lines at Yorktown, he left six brigades at Williamsburg to cover the retreat of his army. They fought a bitter rearguard action against the advancing Federals on May 5.
36. This report was indeed false, but, as we shall see below, Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks ran afoul of Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah, and would be in full retreat by the end of the month.
37. This is an apparent reference to the five Federal warships that attacked Confederate Fort Darling, about 8 miles from Richmond on the James River, on May 15. The warships were stymied by obstacles in the river and by heavy fire from the fort and from enemy sharpshooters. The warships withdrew after expending their ammunition. (OR 1: 11/1, p. 636)
38. Saxton was the commander of Federal forces at Harpers Ferry.
39. On May 23, Stonewall Jackson overwhelmed the 1st Maryland at Front Royal in the Shenandoah Valley, during the opening stages of his famous Valley Campaign. The regiment, commanded by Col. John R. Kenly, a lawyer and prominent Maryland militia officer, suffered 592 casualties – 514 of them captured or missing. Kenly, initially reported killed in action, was wounded, captured and later exchanged. Ironically, a Maryland regiment that had enlisted to serve the Confederacy helped lead the attack. (OR 1, 12/1, pp. 553, 555-558; Sheads and Toomey, pp. 46-47)
40. The erroneous news of Kenly’s death caused gangs of Union men to take to the streets, Sheads and Toomey note, “threatening and beating known Southern sympathizers.” During two days of unrest, gangs also gathered in front of known Southern establishments, threatening violence if the Union flag was not displayed. (Sheads and Toomey, pp. 48-49)

VII Soldiering in good earnest
pp. 91-116

1. This was not a happy time for the 8th New York Cavalry, which was recruited in and around Breck’s hometown of Rochester. After six months in federal service, it still hadn’t received horses. Five of its companies, sent to Winchester to help Banks as infantry, were left to fend for themselves and ended up being routed with the rest of his army. Morale in the unit soon hit rock bottom. (Marcotte, pp. 84-86)
2. Dickinson, hobbled by a wounded foot, was captured. Babbitt was unharmed, and retreated up the Valley Turnpike trying to relocate his scattered soldiers.
3. The view may have been splendid, but those magnificent heights surrounding Harpers Ferry could spell doom for any garrison that did not adequately defend them. When the Confederates seized those heights during the Antietam campaign, for example, the Federal garrison was surrounded, isolated and compelled to surrender.
4. Commander of the 78th New York Infantry.
5. See OR series 1, vol. 12/3, p. 268 for Brig. Gen. Saxton’s brief account of this expedition.
6. After his unsuccessful attempt to incite a slave uprising with his attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry in October 1859, Brown and his surviving followers were imprisoned and tried at nearby Charlestown. Brown was hung there in December 1859.
7. McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 386.
8. After serving, as Breck notes, in Missouri and West Virginia, Saxton was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers. He commanded at Harpers Ferry for two months, then spent much of the rest of the war enlisting and organizing ex-slaves into the Federal army. (Warner, pp. 420-421)
9. Invented by Admiral John A. Dahlgren, these artillery pieces were thicker at the breech, tapering rapidly toward the muzzle, giving them a unique appearance and nickname: “soda-water bottle.” They were used primarily in the navy. (Boatner, p. 218)
10. Fremont and Shield’s division were indeed converging from west and east on Strasburg, well to the south of Jackson’s men, hoping to cut them off. But once again, hard, fast marching by Stonewall’s “foot cavalry” enabled his command to scoot through Strasburg on June 1 before the Federals could close the trap.
11. Sigel was a German military academy graduate who fled that country after the revolution of 1848. He was director of schools in St. Louis, Mo., when the war began, and was a leader in rallying the German-American community to the Union cause. After serving in the West, he arrived in the Shenandoah Valley in early June to assume command of the forces at Harpers Ferry from Rufus Saxton. The two brigades of Brig. Gen. Cooper, including Battery L, and Brig. Gen. John P. Slough thereupon became the Sigel Division. (Warner, pp. 447-448, OR 1: 12/3, p. 399)
12. The misfortunes of the 8th were about to be reversed with the appointment of Benjamin “Grimes” Davis, a Regular Army cavalry officer, as their new commander. The unit was finally outfitted with horses and went on to compile an outstanding record. (Marcotte, pp. 84-88)
13. Fenn, of Batavia, N.Y., had Rochester connections. His father was still living in the city.
14. From Breck’s perspective, limited to events occurring in the Shenandoah Valley, Jackson’s campaign may indeed have seemed of little consequence. Looking at the big picture, however, Jackson’s achievement can hardly be overstated. As James McPherson notes, Jackson's campaign “had diverted 60,000 Union soldiers from other tasks and had disrupted two major strategic movements -- Fremont's east Tennessee campaign and McDowell's plan to link up with McClellan's right wing before Richmond." Indeed, "Jackson's Valley campaign won renown and is still studied in military schools as an example of how speed and use of terrain can compensate for inferiority of numbers." (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 388-389)
15. Tennessee seceded from the Union in May 1861. Breck may be referring to eastern Tennessee, which had rejected secession by more than two to one, and where Unionist sympathies remained strong throughout the war. (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 223-224)
16. Breck could afford to be much more candid in his private correspondence. When, within two weeks, the battery was transferred to Slough’s brigade, Breck expressed his relief in a letter to his sister Ellen. “We have little or no faith in Gen. Cooper’s military capacity,” Breck wrote on June 29. Cooper, 52, had been a lawyer, Congressman and U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. His “military antecedents” consisted of being a member of the Frederick, Md., Home Guard. His military career was short-lived. Though he briefly succeeded to command of Sigel’s Division in July, he was soon sent to command Camps Wallace (for paroled Union soldiers) and Chase (a POW facility), and died while on active duty at the latter in 1863. (Breck, p. 97; Boatner, p. 174; Warner, pp. 90-91)
17. Breck’s words are prophetic. The Shenandoah was vital to the Confederate war effort, and not merely as an important breadbasket. It also served as a convenient invasion route onto Northern soil. Fighting would continue to rage in the valley, culminating in the summer and fall of 1864 when Sheridan finally defeated Early’s army, but would even spill over into the following spring, when the remnants of Early’s army were routed at Waynesboro just five weeks before Lee’s surrender.
18. In one very important sense, everything was not “all right.” Fremont, Banks and Shields had failed to corner Stonewall Jackson who, even as Breck wrote this letter, was en route with his soldiers to reinforce Lee’s army in front of Richmond. (Tanner, Robert G., Stonewall in the Valley: Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign, spring 1862, Mechanicsville, PA: Stackpole Books, 1996, p. 437)
19. Fremont, described as “precocious, handsome and daring,” was also “mercurial, headstrong and unstable,” notes Ezra Warner in Generals in Blue. He gained fame leading several important expeditions through the American West and a played a “leading part” in the conquest of California. However, he resigned from the army in 1848 after being found guilty of insubordination and mutiny. He served a term in the U.S. Senate, and was unsuccessful presidential candidate of the newly created Republican Party in 1856. Lincoln appointed him a major general of the Regular Army at the outbreak of the war. “Fremont was a controversial administrator and was shunted from command to command,” Warner notes, finally arriving in the Valley in the spring of 1862. (Warner, pp. 160-161)
20. Indeed. As noted earlier, Jackson and his men had already departed the valley to do just what Breck feared: join Lee’s army near Richmond.
21. Breck’s source was a good one. Shields was eventually withdrawn from the valley to rejoin McDowell’s corps, with every intention of reinforcing McClellan. That didn’t happen, however, as McDowell’s forces continued to be held in northern Virginia. See OR 1, 12/3 pp. 354-415 for the ongoing debate among Union military authorities about where this division should go.
22. Ulric Dahlgren was the son of John Adolph Dahlgren, Union admiral and inventor of the Dahlgren gun. Ulric served on the staffs of Sigel, Burnside, Hooker (Chancellorsville) and Meade (Gettysburg). He was killed in the ill-fated Kilpatrick-Dahlgren cavalry raid against Richmond in February and March of 1864. (Boatner, pp. 218, 460-461)
23. Blenker, like Sigel, was a German native who fled that country after participating in the 1848 revolt against the monarchy. He recruited a New York regiment at the start of the American Civil War, commanded a brigade at First Bull Run, then a division under Fremont during the Valley Campaign. Although there was no “overt criticism” of his conduct or dispositions at the battle of Cross Keys, he was ordered to Washington shortly after Sigel’s arrival in the valley, and died the following year. (Warner, p. 37)

VIII Under the new arrangement
pp. 117-140

1. This was the transfer from Cooper’s to Slough’s brigade alluded to earlier.
2. John Potts Slough’s fiery temper sometimes got the better of him. He was expelled from the Ohio legislature for striking another member. He managed to pull off a victory at Glorieta Pass in New Mexico in 1862, “in direct defiance” of his commanding general’s explicit orders. Perhaps it is not surprising that his death, two years after the war, occurred during an altercation in a billiard room with a member of the New Mexico territorial legislature who had introduced a resolution censoring Slough for “unprofessional conduct.” (Warner, p. 453)
3. Clay, the aging Kentucky senator, helped engineer the Compromise of 1850, permitting California to enter the Union as a free state.
4. Buoyed by Union victories in the west in the spring of 1862, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton on April 3 ordered all recruiting offices closed. “The public perceived this as a sign that the armies were large enough to win the war,” McPherson notes. “Stanton may have shared this belief; in any case he considered the existing system of raising troops inefficient,” what with “state governors, prominent individuals, and officers on detached service from active regiments . . all beating the same bushes for recruits.” (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 367)
5. Fremont “was relieved from command at his own request after being assigned to a command under General John Pope, whom he detested,” Warner notes. With Fremont’s departure, Sigel ascended to command of the First Corps, with Gen. Cooper temporarily taking over Sigel’s old division. (Warner, p. 161)
6. Sutlers were civilian merchants who received approval to follow the army and sell food and other goods to the soldiers. They were often criticized by soldiers for the high prices they charged. However, the sutlers had to account for the expense involved in transporting the goods long distances and in the wastage due to exposure. And always there was the risk of losing everything in the event of a military reversal. (Van Doren Stern, Philip, Soldier Life in the Union and Confederate Armies, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1961, pp. 159-162)
7. This is an apparent reference to the reverses suffered by McClellan’s army on the Peninsula.
8. On July 2, Lincoln issued a call for 300,000 more volunteers to bring the war to a “speedy and satisfactory conclusion.”
9. Breck’s anger is apparently directed at the militiamen who remained at home, and for whose benefit concerts were held.
10. In a July 19 letter to his sister Ellen, Breck noted “There is but one physician in our Brigade, able to do duty now. They are all sick or absent.” (Breck, p. 100)
11. And quite wrong: McClellan was to leave the Peninsula and join Pope instead. Breck’s perplexity is reflected in his private correspondence as well. “I regard the military operations here in Eastern Virginia as of a very queer character. We have now been in the field over two months, but what has been accomplished,” Breck wrote to his sister Ellen on July 19. “The troops are scattered from Dan to Beersheba in this part of the territory, and things look dark. But we won’t look on the dark side of the picture. We will hope for the best.” (Breck, p. 100)
12. Letcher was governor of Virginia.
13. During the “Free Banking Era,” beginning in the 1830s, there was no uniform national currency in the United States. By 1860, an estimated 8,000 different state banks were circulating notes of various denominations, ranging from ½ cent to $20,000. Coin hoarding and the need to use metal for war purposes created a shortage of coins during the Civil War, hence the need for “shinplasters,” or so-called fractional currency of 3 to 50 cents. These were usually issued on paper smaller than other bills, and were called shinplasters because soldiers would line worn-out shoes and boots with them. In 1861, to pay for the war effort, the U.S. Treasury began issuing “Demand Notes” in $5, $10 and $20 denomination. They were called “greenbacks” because of their color. (Flamme, Karen, “A Brief History of Our Nation’s Paper Money,” from 1995 Annual Report of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.)
14. Slough, at his own request, was relieved of his command with Bank’s corps on July 7. (OR 1:12/3, p. 459)
15. The confiscation act of July 1862 signaled a harsher war policy on the part of the North. It punished rebel “traitors” by confiscating their property, including slaves who were to be deemed “captives of war and shall be forever free.” Pope’s first acts on assuming command in Northern Virginia further reflected this hardening attitude, McPherson notes. Pope issued a series of general orders to his army, “authorizing his officers to seize rebel property without compensation, to shoot captured guerrillas who had fired on Union troops, to expel from occupied territory any civilians who refused to take the oath of allegiance, and to treat them as spies if they returned.” (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 426, 501)
16. Breck was promoted to 1st lieutenant, to take effect from July 31, to fill the opening created by Loder’s resignation.
17. John White Geary, a Pennsylvania native who officered a regiment from that state during the Mexican War, was the first mayor of San Francisco and an antislavery governor of the Kansas Territory before the Civil War. He was commissioned a brigadier general of volunteers in April 1862. He later served as a division commander at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and under Sherman during the March to the Sea. He served two terms as a Pennsylvania governor after the war. (Warner, pp. 169-170)
18. Legislation adopted by Congress on July 17, 1862, abolished the 24-man regimental bands that had been authorized the previous year, in favor of one, 16-member band per brigade. OR 3:2, p.278)
19. Breck is apparently referring to the bombastic message Pope addressed to his army July 14, 1862, upon assuming command. “I have come to you from the West,” he asserted. “where we have always seen the backs of our enemies,” adding that he wanted the soldiers of his new command “to dismiss from your minds certain phrases, which I am sorry to find so much in vogue amongst you” such as "taking strong positions and holding them," and “lines of retreat." “Let us look before us, and not behind. Success and glory are in the advance, disaster and shame lurk in the rear.” This “snide denigration” of eastern troops “won Pope few friends,” McPherson notes. Especially among the higher-ranking officers he would depend upon to execute his commands. (OR, series 1, vol. 12, part 3, pp. 473-474; McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 448)

IX Roughing it now as never before
pp. 141-150

1. Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, p. 28.
2. McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 449.
3. In fact, Jackson had a total of about 24,000 men, even after being reinforced with A. P. Hill’s soldiers from Lee’s army. Of these, 16,868 were actually engaged in the battle. (Boatner, p. 102)
4. George Sears Greene, born in 1801 in Rhode Island, was one of the oldest field commanders in the service, yet had a distinguished career commanding brigades and divisions in the east and later with Sherman’s forces during the Carolina campaign. (Warner, pp. 186-187)
5. Printed as “Major R.” but it seems clear from the context that Major K. was meant.
6. Prince was indeed captured, and not exchanged until December. (Warner, p. 387)
7. Banks’ forces suffered 2,381 killed, wounded and missing at Cedar Mountain. (OR 1:12/2, p. 139)
8. Charles Sidney Winder, killed by an artillery shell, commanded a Confederate division at Cedar Mountain despite being sick and having to be carried into action in an ambulance. (Boatner, p. 940)
9. McGilvery, in his official report, listed four men killed, nine wounded and five captured – heavy losses indeed for an artillery battery. (OR 1:12/2, p. 419)

X A battle of blunders
pp. 151-174

1. The withdrawal from the Rapidan to the Rappahannock turned into a “mass stand-around,” Hennessy notes, because the route of both Sigel’s and McDowell’s corps took them through Culpeper, where the roads simply could not handle “the immense crush of vehicles that preceded the foot soldiers. The column quickly degenerated into ‘one heterogeneous mass of vehicles’ that clogged the roads like ice in a straw.’” (Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, p. 52)
2. Both regiments were from the Rochester area.
3. Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, p. 63.
4. “The New Yorkers opened a nasty fire that belied their inexperience,” Hennessy notes. “Indeed the Confederates thought they confronted two Federal batteries, not one.” (Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, p. 63)
5. As he was being carried from the field, the plucky Bower “urged us to ‘give it to them with a vengeance,” according to an account from a member of the battery, printed in the Evening Express on Sept. 5.
6. Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, p. 85.
7. Doubleday, “more famous for the canard that he originated the game of baseball than for his military career,” notes Warner, served in the artillery branch after graduating from West Point, and is said to have aimed the first gun fired in defense of Fort Sumter. (Warner, pp. 129-130)
8. In order to stop a regular flow of official letters and telegrams from his “decidedly leaky” staff to the press, Pope imposed a ban on all outgoing newspaper dispatches and letters – even those of private soldiers. “The order did little to stop the leaks,” Hennessy notes, “but it did diminish morale, for mail to a solider was, and is, like nectar to a bee.” A “lively business” in letter smuggling soon sprung up, he adds, with a large number of letters making it home after all. (Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, p. 102)
9. Pope had sent Col. Herman Haupt, a first-rate railroad man, back home, thinking his services unnecessary to maintain the Orange and Alexandria, Hennessy writes. But the army’s quartermaster, Col. Robert E. Clary, was not up to the task, and traffic ground to a halt by mid-August, seriously restricting food and other supplies. (Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, p. 39)
10. Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, pp. 105-107.
11. Field guns were operated by a gunner and seven artillerymen, Ian Drury explains. On a muzzle-loading cannon like those used by Battery L, the gunner would give the command to load, and the artilleryman designated No. 1, standing at the front of the gun, would sponge out the gun’s tube using a wooden pole with a water-soaked sponge at one end, and an iron rammer at the other. “This extinguished any smoldering residue in the barrel and cleaned the bore,” Drury explains. Other artillerymen would then remove the next round from the limber chest, cut the fuse and carry the round to the front of the gun where artilleryman No. 2 would insert it into the barrel when No.1 was finished sponging it out. No. 1 would then ram the round down the barrel. (Drury, Ian, The Civil War military machine: weapons and tactics of the Union and Confederate armed forces, New York: Smithmark, 1993, p. 76) No. 1, then, was not only in an exposed position at the front of the gun, but was also directly in harm’s way in the event the gun discharged prematurely before he had withdrawn the ramrod.
12. Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, pp. 167-190.
13. Actually Porter commanded the V Corps, which included two divisions. This was part of McClellan’s army sent to reinforce Pope.
14. Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, p. 297.
15. Hennessy, Return to Bull Run, p. 299.
16. In organizing his army, Pope “clung to the obsolete tactic” of assigning the batteries to the various infantry brigades and making them answerable to the brigade commanders. This was a fatal flaw, notes L. Van Loan Naisawald, in Grape and Canister, because it left no artillery in reserve and no one in overall charge. Breck’s observations confirm this. (Naisawald, pp. 146-149)
17. The battery was on Dogan’s Ridge.
18. See, for example, Sgt. James Young’s letter in the Daily Democrat, Sept. 10, 1862.
19. James Spoor of the battery wrote to his mother that “I have not changed my shirt in three weeks, nor do I see a prospect of getting a clean one to put on in three weeks to come.” (Evening Express, Sept. 5, 1862) “Well, we are a tough looking party, tired, worn-out, ragged almost to nakedness, and dirty; our horses reduced almost to skeletons,” another member wrote. (Evening Express, Sept. 11, 1862)

XI The roar of artillery shook the earth
pp. 175-197

1. McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 457-459.
2. This appears to be a reference to the death of Martin Van Buren on July 24, 1862.
3. During the period Aug. 16 to Sept. 2, Patrick’s brigade suffered 568 casualties. (OR 1:12/2, p. 254)
4. There were 38 military hospitals in and around Washington at the time, with about 31,000 patients and 224 medical officers, according to a report by the Army of the Potomac’s medical director. (OR 1:19/1, p. 111) For Breck to assert that all of these hospitals were “perfect in every particular,” is simply fatuous. Some were cleaner and better administered than others; all suffered from the Washington climate in which disease-bearing flies and mosquitoes proliferated. And throughout Northern hospitals, the food tended to be of poor quality, with fruit and vegetables particularly inadequate. Nonetheless, despite these flaws, the Union military hospitals in Washington and other parts of the country were “a credit to the nation,” asserts George Worthington Adams. Indeed, the northern hospital system evolved into “one of the wonders of the medical world,” treating more than one million white soldiers, with a mortality of only 8 percent, the lowest ever recorded for military hospitals. (Adams, George Worthington, Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1952, pp. 149-173)
5. The Evening Express on Sept. 12 reported that Battery L was down to only 90 men.
6. Sears, Stephen W., Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam, New Haven: Ticknor & Fields, 1992, pp. 161-163.
7. This regiment, recruited at Rochester, N.Y., and the surrounding towns of Monroe County in response to Lincoln’s July call for 300,000 volunteers, was mustered into service Aug. 16-18. It had its baptism of fire in front of the Sunken Road at Antietam. (Marcotte, pp. 80-83)
8. Battery C of the Pennsylvania Light Artillery.
9. Breck, too, had a narrow escape. In a letter to his sister Martha a week after the battle, Breck described being struck by a “spent” round, which did not have enough velocity to cause serious injury. This could happen when not enough powder was used, or when the round had exceeded its effective range. (Breck, p. 105)
10. The commander of the XII Corps was mortally wounded at the edge of the East Wood when he rode out ahead of his troops, fearing they were firing on Union soldiers. (Catton, Bruce, Mr. Lincoln’s Army, Garden City: Doubleday and Co., 1951, p. 279)
11. Antietam was the single bloodiest day of fighting during the Civil War, inflicting 12,410 Union casualties and 13,724 Confederate casualties. (Boatner, p. 21)
12. The 12,000-man Union garrison there surrendered to Jackson on Sept. 15.
13. Marsena Patrick, born near Watertown, N.Y., in 1811, was a West Point graduate and a veteran of the Mexican War and the war against the Seminoles in Florida. He resigned from the army in 1850 to devote himself to scientific farming at Geneva, N.Y. and to promoting the advancement of agriculture in the state. Breck’s assessment of Patrick’s ability as a disciplinarian was shared by McClellan, who appointed him provost marshal general of the Army of the Potomac, a position in which he remained through a succession of commanders. “Despite a stern manner and a voice reminiscent of the proverbial bull of Bashan,” notes Warner, “General Patrick’s kindheartedness toward the helpless and impoverished white Southerners in the District of Henrico (Richmond), which he commanded after the surrender, led to his relief.” (Warner, pp. 361-362.)
14. Wainwright, like Breck, was a conservative Democrat and admirer of McClellan, and a strict disciplinarian. After taking command of I Corps artillery, he found fault with virtually all of the batteries. For example, he offered this assessment of Battery L: “no credit to the regiment, everything slipshod and slovenly; the men made no appearance at all on parade; still they seemed to understand their duty so far as essentials are concerned.” (Wainwright, p. 106) As we shall see, his estimation of the battery would soon improve.
15. Three of Porter’s brigades had crossed the river when they were attacked by the Confederates, and had to withdraw.

XII Why are we lying still so long
pp. 198-221

1. It did not seem to occur to McClellan that Lee’s outnumbered army was in worse condition that his own. Despite repeated prodding from Lincoln and Halleck to move quickly while the roads remained dry, McClellan continued to find excuses not to do so. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 491)
2. In a letter to his sister Martha, Breck could not help musing on the inexplicable fortunes of combat. Annis “was hit by a rifle ball almost in the same spot” on the battlefield where Breck was hit. “He was driving at the time, as we were going off from the field. The ball that hit me was spent, its force nearly destroyed. The ball that hit this young man came with death’s velocity, and now he is no more. Why was he taken, and I left? God’s love, God’s will, is the only explanation, and to Him my heart would render praise.” (Breck, p. 104-105)
3. Straggling was a persistent problem for both sides. Weary soldiers who fell out of the ranks during a long, hot march – but had every intention of catching up with their unit later – were likely to be treated more leniently by their commanders than soldiers who fled the scene of battle. Even then, there are conflicting accounts as to how rigidly this was dealt with. When Lee lost his temper, and ordered one of Jackson’s battlefield stragglers shot as an example, Jackson instead merely sent him into battle. However, when Jackson launched his famous flank attack at Chancellorsville, he reportedly placed sharpshooters at the rear, with orders to shoot anyone who fell back unless wounded. By 1863, notes McPherson, both Union and Confederate armies had designated provost guards to drive stragglers back into line. “These units functioned with varying effectiveness,” McPherson adds. “It was not easy to get them to shoot fellow soldiers,” though they would not hesitate to drive cowardly soldiers forward at the point of a bayonet. Desertion – the leaving of ranks by soldiers who did not intend to return – was a more serious offense, especially later in the war when the North resorted to lucrative bounties to try to entice enlistment. Bounty jumpers would enlist, desert, then re-enlist elsewhere, desert again, etc., to keep collecting bounties. Both sides did not hesitate to shoot deserters to set an example. Even here, however, the North shot only 141 deserters during the war, according to Catton, which was only a small fraction of the estimated 200,000 some deserters from the Union armies. (See Freeman, Douglas Southall, R. E. Lee: A Biography, Vol. II, New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1934-35, p. 390; OR 1, 19/1, p.143; 19/2, pp. 615 and 617-619; McPherson, For Cause, pp. 49-52; Catton, Picture History, p. 381; Geary, pp. 14-15)
4. The number was partially obscured on microfilm, but appeared to be 30,000.
5. Rogers was commander of the 21st N.Y.
6. Boatner, p. 814.
7. “A shame, that these rebel raids can’t be stopped,” Breck wrote to Ellen on Oct. 12. “I sometimes despair of ever witnessing our army manifesting that pluck and dash, so characteristic of the rebel army, and so frequently attended with success. I am a stickler for McClellan, believe from my heart that he is a pure patriot and a great general, but as remarked once, in a private letter to Mr. Butts, I wish his movements were characterized with more celerity.” (Breck p. 106)
8. Paul, a native of St. Louis, Mo., was a West Point graduate who distinguished himself during the storming of Chapultepec during the Mexican War, and remained in the Regular Army afterwards, reaching rank of major when the Civil War began. He supported commanders who turned back a Confederate attempt to capture the New Mexico territory early in the war, then came east as a brigade commander. He was later blinded during the first day of fighting at Gettysburg. (Warner, pp. 363-364)
9. McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 492.
10. The gubernatorial election that fall in New York, as in other Union states, became a referendum on the Lincoln administration’s conduct of the war. New York Democrats criticized the Lincoln administration’s arbitrary arrests and suspension of habeas corpus, and called the proposed Emancipation Proclamation an unconstitutional exercise of power and a threat to free labor in the state. They overcame their differences and nominated former governor Horatio Seymour. Horace Greeley and the radical Republicans seized control of their convention and chose Gen. James S. Wadsworth as their candidate. Wadsworth, serving as military governor of Washington, D.C., staunchly defended Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. (Ellis, David. M. et al; A Short History of New York State; Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1957, p.336)

XIII A sad, sorrowful day
pp. 222-225

1. McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 492.
2. The genial Burnside, a close friend of McClellan, was born in Indiana in 1824 and graduated from West Point in 1847. After serving on the western frontier, he resigned to manufacture a breech-loading rifle that he had invented while in the service. The venture failed and he later landed a job on the Illinois Central Railroad under McClellan. He led a brigade at First Bull Run, then commanded a successful expedition to occupy the North Carolina coast line early in the war, leading to his promotion to major general. He was well aware of his own limitations, however, and had twice before declined offers to command the Army of the Potomac. This time he was not allowed that option, thus becoming “the most unwilling and, perhaps, most unsuitable commander of the Army of the Potomac,” Warner observes. (Warner, pp. 57-58; Marvel, William, Burnside, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1991, pp. 99-100, 111)
3. Buell’s account is an accurate one. Libby Prison, located in a building amid warehouses, shanties, stables and vacant lots in Richmond, was the headquarters for the Confederate military prisons, and in addition to housing prisoners was also the depot to which all POWs were brought before being transferred to other facilities in or outside the city. Belle Isle, just to the southwest, was a small island in the James River that had been a favorite resort area for Richmond residents. A POW camp was opened on six acres there in 1862, was deactivated after prisoner exchanges began, then reopened in 1863. By November that year 6,300 Union POWs were crowded there, half of them without even the benefit of the ragged tents that Buell referred to. (Speer, pp. 89, 92, 93, 119-122)

XIV What a sacrifice of human life is this!
pp. 226-246

1. Stackpole, Edward J., Drama on the Rappahannock: The Fredericksburg Campaign, Harrisburg, Pa.: Military Service Publishing Co., 1957, pp. 79-97.
2. Burnside organized the Army of the Potomac into three wings or “grand divisions” – Left, Center and Right – each wing consisting of two corps, and each corps containing three divisions.
3. The Prince de Joinville, former vice admiral of the French navy, arrived in the United States with two nephews shortly after First Bull Run. All three served on McClellan’s staff, de Joinville as an unofficial private adviser. He published a pamphlet about the Army of the Potomac, later translated into English as The Army of the Potomac: Its Organization, Its Commander, and Its Campaign. (Sears, Stephen W., George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon, New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1988, p. 115; Wainwright, p. 134)
4. Gen. Nathaniel Banks was indeed organizing an expedition. However, its destination was not Richmond but Louisiana.
5. Stackpole, Edward J., Drama on the Rappahannock: The Fredericksburg Campaign, Harrisburg, Pa.: Military Service Publishing Co., 1957, pp. 98, 106, 110; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 2, New York: Random House Inc., 1963, p. 25.
6. Capt. Gustavus A. De Russy, 4th U.S. Artillery, was given command of eight other batteries besides Battery L to cover Franklin’s crossing of the river. (OR1: 21, p. 214)
7. Col. Robert Taylor of the 33rd New York from the Rochester area briefly commanded a brigade in Howe’s Division of Smith’s VI Corps.
8. Bayard commanded a cavalry brigade, Vinton an infantry brigade.
9. Breck was much less confident in a letter to his sister Ellen, written the same day as this column. “This sacrifice of human life is monstrous. If it continues much longer, I believe the people and the two armies, whatever may be the wishes and aims of military and political leaders, will demand a cessation of hostilities, they will demand a Peace, I will not say at the sacrifice of honor or principle, but at the cost, it may be, of a separation of the Union. God grant that the Union may be restored and our Government preserved, but oh, for a speedy and honorable termination to this cruel war.” (Breck p. 114)
10. These English rifled artillery pieces, used in small numbers by the Confederates, were capable of firing their projectiles with great accuracy at ranges of up to five miles. Lee’s army had at least two at Fredericksburg and four in 1863. (Boatner, p. 917)

XV The soldiers fail to see
pp. 247-259

1. Wadsworth, born in 1807, was a wealthy landowner from upstate New York. He did not have military training, but was appointed for political reasons. A staunch Republican, he had served as an aide to Gen. McDowell at First Bull Run, commanded a brigade later that year, and while serving as military governor of Washington, D.C., had disputed whether McClellan left sufficient troops to guard the nation’s capital during the Peninsular Campaign. He arrived at Falmouth to take command of the first division of I Corps after being defeated in that fall’s race for New York governor. During the race, he had defended Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and his conduct of the war. Small wonder that Pro-McClellan officers immediately distrusted him, believing his appointment a political “balm.” (Wainwright, p. 149) However, Wadsworth proved to be courageous and caring general. (Marcotte, pp. 185-188)
2. Gen. William S. Rosecrans took command of the Union Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee in late October. By December he was advancing against Murfreesboro and a showdown with Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 501-502)
3. Brig. Gen. William Averell proposed taking 1,000 picked Union cavalrymen on a raid from the Rappahannock all the way south of the James River, as far as Suffolk or even North Carolina. Part of Hooker’s grand division was to help secure fords for the cavalry to cross. However, the plan was nixed at the last minute, and Averell’s men were directed to try to intercept a force of 1,800 of Jeb Stuart’s Confederate cavalrymen who had staged a raid in the area of Dumfries and Fairfax Station, Dec. 26-31. See OR1: XXI, pp. 895-896; 901-902.
4. Soldiers disgruntled by defeat, lack of pay, shortages of food were deserting the Army of the Potomac at the rate of a hundred or more a day during January, McPherson notes. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 506)
5. On the evening of Jan. 5, 1863, just after returning to Richmond from a visit to the western states of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis appeared on the portico of the Executive Mansion and addressed hundreds of people who had congregated for a serenade. He defended the South’s right to own slaves and also excoriated the barbarism of the enemy, accusing the federal soldiers of committing every crime from murder to burning to plundering. And now they were trying “to be your masters, to try to reduce you to subjection” by “disturb[ing] your social organizations on the plea that (emancipation) is a military necessity.” The Emancipation Proclamation, he contended, would destroy the South’s very “social existence.” The Yankees, he declared to shouts of approval, were worse than “hyenas.” (Cooper, William J. Jr., Jefferson Davis, American; New York: Alfred A. Knopf; 2000, pp. 420-421)
6. The Confederate congress enacted the first conscription law in American history on April 16, 1862, declaring all able- bodied white male citizens between 18 and 35 subject to service for three years. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 364)
7. In fact, the Federal government did enact a conscription law in March 1863, and conducted four drafts, the first that July, and the other three in 1864. However, of 776,000 men chosen in the draft, only 46,000 actually went into the army. How could this be? Part of the reason was that many were exempted for physical or hardship reasons, or simply didn’t report. Others – some 73,600 – bought substitutes to take their place while 86,724 paid a $300 commutation fee, which exempted them. The bigger reason, however, is that the draft actually served as a “carrot and stick” approach to encourage voluntary enlistments. Communities would either fill their quotas with voluntary enlistments, or see their men drafted instead. By and large, it worked. Some 800,000 men either enlisted or re-enlisted voluntarily after national conscription was instituted. How was this achieved? In large part with the very “ten-fold” – or more – increase in bounties that Breck was convinced wouldn’t work. See Geary, pp. 65-166, and McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 519-525 for a more detailed discussion of this fascinating, often overlooked chapter of the war.
8. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and his 32,000 soldiers were repulsed at Chickasaw Bluffs, a few miles north of Vicksburg, on Dec. 27-29, 1862, in the opening stage of the campaign to capture that Mississippi River stronghold. Galveston, captured by a Union naval force without resistance on Oct.5, 1862, was recaptured by the Confederates with a surprise attack at dawn on Jan. 1, 1863. (Boatner, pp. 153, 322)
9. The proclamation applied only to slaves in the rebelling states. Why? “Lincoln acted under his war powers to seize enemy resources; he had no constitutional power to act against slavery in areas loyal to the United States,” explains McPherson. The bigger point is that “The Proclamation would turn Union forces into armies of liberation after January 1 – if they could win the war. And it also invited the slaves to help them win it.” (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 480-481)
10. Privately, Breck had already decided against the Emancipation Proclamation. It was an “ill-timed, mischief making instrument; of no good now, practically and uncalled for, except by a crazy lot of abolitionists, who are bent on destroying slavery, if it costs the life of the nation, and sheds oceans of blood,” he wrote to Ellen on Oct. 17, 1862. (Breck, p. 109) In a Sept. 25, 1862, letter to his sister Martha, he expressed his fear that the proclamation’s immediate impact would be a “firmer cementing of rebel hands and hearts, and a greater intensity of hatred and bitterness towards us.” (Breck, p. 105)

XVI Mortifying, isn’t it?
pp. 260-265

1. Rosecrans and his Army of the Cumberland won a Pyrrhic victory at the battle of Stones River, or Murfreesboro, in Tennessee on Dec. 31-Jan. 2. He compelled Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee to retreat, but was so crippled by losses of more than 30 percent that he was unable to resume his offensive for several more months. (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 501-505)
2. McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 506-507.

XVII Keep trying men until the right one is found
pp. 266-304

1. Starr, Stephen Z., The Union Cavalry in the Civil War, Vol. 1, From Fort Sumter to Gettysburg, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979, p. 338.
2. Each defeat of the Union army fed anti-war sentiment in the north, especially in the peace faction of the Democratic Party. The movement took on added momentum with the enactment of the federal conscription law in March 1863. Former Ohio Congressmen Clement L.Vallandigham emerged as the leader of what came to be called the “Copperheads,” so called because they wore copper pennies as a badge of pride. To detractors of the peace faction, the term referred to the poisonous snakes. Like Breck, Copperheads believed the Lincoln administration had turned a war to save the Union into a fanatical, misguided crusade to free the slaves, and urged an immediate armistice and peace conference. (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 513-519)
3. Sumner was relieved at his own request; Franklin was relieved by Lincoln in the same general orders appointing Hooker to command. Burnside, and later the Committee on the Conduct of the War, blamed Franklin’s feeble effort while in command of the Left Grand Division for the defeat at Fredericksburg. (See, for example, Burnside’s official report on the battle, OR 1: XXI, pp. 90-95.) Franklin later commanded a corps under Gen. Banks during the ill-fated Red River campaign. (Boatner, p. 304)
4. Preston S. Brooks, a South Carolina congressman, gained notoriety when he viciously caned Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner on the Senate floor in 1856. Sumner had delivered an invective-laden speech decrying “The Crime Against Kansas” by pro-slavery factions. During the speech he impugned the reputation of a South Carolina senator who happened to be related to Brooks. The incident further exacerbated the growing tensions between North and South. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 117)
5. The Ninth Corps, under command of Gen. W. F. “Baldy” Smith, left for Newport News, Va. on Feb. 6, 1863. Burnside was ordered to resume command of the corps on March 16 and take two of its divisions to Ohio. (Welcher, pp. 420-430)
6. Wainwright, pp. 165, 175-176.
7. Breck appears to be taking the “Pope’s Bull against the Comet” comment out of context. Lincoln made the comment on Sept. 13, 1862 – four days before McClellan’s “victory” at Antietam. He told a group of clergymen that the emancipation proclamation could help the Union cause. However, given the bleak Union military situation at that point, such a proclamation would be virtually unenforceable. “I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will necessarily see must be inoperative, like the Pope’s bull against the comet!” Four days later, after McClellan fought Lee to a draw at Antietam and forced the Confederate commander to call off his invasion of the North, the military situation had clearly improved – enough so to allow Lincoln to issue the proclamation. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 433)
8. The same figure is cited by Brig. Gen. C. P. Buckingham, an assistant adjutant general, in a report to secretary of war Stanton dated Feb. 9, 1863. (OR3: 3, p. 37)
9. Gen. William French, commanding a division in the Army of the Potomac, reported on Feb.6, 1863, that the commander of the 132nd Pennsylvania had received an anonymous note from a town in that state, “advising him that citizens' clothing was being mailed to soldiers in this army to facilitate their desertion. He had the mails supervised, and yesterday he brought to me two packages of clothing (citizens') which had arrived in the mail. . . There was also a letter of advice from a female relative, clearly stating the object of the transmittal. The lieutenant-colonel of the One hundred and thirty-second Pennsylvania is of (the) opinion that many men are assisted in this matter through the Government mails. . .” (OR 1: 25/2, p. 73) Hooker was concerned enough to forward the report to Brig. Gen. Lorenzo Thomas, the Adjutant-General of the Army in Washington, D. C., urging that “such measures may be taken by the Government … as will put a stop to the evil presented.”
10. The Eleventh Corps remained with the Army of the Potomac. Sigel had commanded both the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps when they constituted the Reserve Grand Division under Burnside’s reorganization of the army. However, he departed in February when Hooker abolished the grand divisions and relegated Sigel back to corps commander. Sigel, because of his rank, felt he was entitled to a larger command. (OR 1: 25/2, pp. 70-71)
11. In fact, Lee had sent two divisions under Longstreet south, below Richmond, to thwart federal movements from Norfolk and North Carolina, leaving his army with only 60,000 men to confront twice that many in the Army of the Potomac. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 552)
12. Tuesday was the 24th; Sunday was the 22nd.
13. The "rational" or "bloomer" dress first introduced in 1851 by Amelia Bloomer, featured a skirt over full trousers, notes M. Cricket Bauer in “Girls of ’61,” an on-line article written for Sally Queen & Associates, a company that preserves historical garments and clothing articles. Although the bloomer “never gained widespread acceptance as a replacement for the long full skirts of the mid 19th century,” Bauer notes, “the costume was deemed a suitable alternative for specific situations, like gymnastics or certain types of manual labor.” It was particularly favored by dress reformers and “women who stepped outside of conventional stereotypes, such as Dr. Mary Walker, who wore Bloomer-inspired dress during and well after the Civil War. Amanda Farnham, a nurse with the Sixth Corps, sported ‘full pants buttoning over the top of her boots, skirts falling a little below the knee, and a jacket with tight sleeves.’ Dorothea Dix, head of the Northern Nursing Corps, did not approve of it.” See
14. Butterfield, a native of Utica, N.Y., commanded a brigade during the Peninsular campaign, and led V Corps at Fredericksburg. In addition to helping design the celebrated corps insignia that Hooker issued, Butterfield is even more famous for the bugle call “Taps,” which he composed at Harrison’s Landing in 1862. (Warner, pp. 62-63)
15. Breck is referring to the commutation fee, by which a person could buy his way out of a particular draft. The $300 was not an inconsequential sum in those days, being roughly equal to a common laborer’s yearly salary. However, just as Breck predicted, it was widely taken advantage of – even by laborers who could not come up with the money on their own. To buy exemptions for these men, communities raised taxes; political machines collected money; factories, businesses and railroads used funds contributed by workers or levied 10 percent from wages. Even draft insurance societies sprung up, in which a worker would pay a premium of a few dollars a month, helping to build up a pot from which the $300 would be paid for those members actually called. Despite this, there was an outcry against commutation as a boon to the rich. Not surprisingly, after Congress abolished the commutation fee in 1864, the price of buying a substitute – another commonly used way to avoid service – skyrocketed. (See McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 521-522 and Geary, pp. 103-115, 140-144)
16. One of the provisions of the conscription act called for a Presidential proclamation of amnesty, “declaring that all soldiers now absent from their regiments without leave may return, within a time specified, to such place or places as he may indicate in his proclamation, and be restored to their respective regiments without punishment, except the forfeiture of their pay and allowances during their absence…” The proclamation, issued by Lincoln on March 10, set the deadline at April 1. (OR 3: 3, pp. 60-61)
17. The Official Records do not mention which correspondent Breck might be referring to. However, run-ins between reporters and the army high command were not unusual. In February, 1863, for example, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman ordered Thomas Knox, a Herald reporter, arrested for, among other things, printing accounts of Sherman’s aborted attack on the Chickasaw Bluffs at Vicksburg that were not only critical of Sherman and other officers but allegedly revealed the strength of Union forces. See OR 1: 17/2, pp. 889-897 for a fascinating exchange of letters between Sherman, Knox and federal authorities. A circular issued April 26, 1863, from the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac’s cavalry corps specified that “ If there is in this command such a person as the correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer, he will, by direction of the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac, be immediately sent out of the lines of the army, never to return.” The reasons were not specified. (OR 1: 25/2, p. 256) Such incidents occurred throughout the war, but as a general rule, the newspapers were allowed far more leeway in reporting military matters than in more recent wars. Indeed, both sides read the others’ newspapers as a possible source of military intelligence. For example, in a letter to Jefferson Davis on June 9, 1863, Lee writes: “I see by the New York Herald that the Twelfth New York Cavalry Regiment is on its way to New Berne, N. C., and that the transports Pocahontas and S. L. Tilley would sail from New Berne for Boston on the 8th instant, with the Forty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment.” (OR 1:27/2, p. 294) And on May 27, 1863, Lincoln inquired of Hooker: “Have you Richmond papers of this morning? If so, what news?” (OR1: 25/2, p. 529)
18. Breck, like McClellan, grossly overestimates the 40,000 or so soldiers that Lee actually had present for duty at Antietam.
19. Breck, in a letter to Ellen dated April 11, said the president, “poor man, looks the picture of weariness, wornout-ted-ness, as if the fate of all nations rested on his shoulders. He has a mouth of huge dimensions, stretching almost from Dan to Beersheba. He looks as harmless as a dove, as if he wouldn’t intentionally wrong a hair of a single individual.” (Breck, p. 123)
20. Pitching quoits is similar to a game of horseshoes, the main difference being that rings instead of horseshoes are thrown at hubs placed only about half as far apart as the 40 feet in horseshoes.
21. It did. The April 7 repulse of eight Union ironclads at Fort Sumter dashed Union hopes for a quick capture of Charleston. However, Grant’s four-month campaign to capture Vicksburg was about to enter a decisive phase. By the end of the month, his army would be across the Mississippi 30 miles to the south, ready to embark on a bold overland campaign that sealed the city’s doom. And even as Breck wrote, the Confederates were giving up their siege of a small Union garrison at Washington, N.C.

XVIII They will cross the Rappahannock again and again
pp. 305-326

1. Wainwright, in his diary, describes the location as a high open bank, beyond a piece of wood to the west of the road leading down from White Oak Church, “just above where Pollock’s Mill used to be.” (Wainwright, p. 185)
2. Hooker assigned V, XI and XII Corps to this task.
3. “I held the head of Charles Carpenter when he died,” Breck wrote afterwards to his sister Ellen. “He was insensible. He was terribly mutilated. These cannon balls and shells do awful havoc when they strike men.” (Breck, p. 125)
4. In fact, the battery lost one killed, nine wounded. Breck corrects this at end of his column dated May 15. Capt. John A. Reynolds, in his official report on this engagement, praised his men for being “cool and collected. Lieutenants Reynolds and Breck were especially so, watching carefully the effect of the fire from their sections, and giving directions accordingly, inspiring their men with coolness by their example.” He reported that the battery had fired 303 rounds. (OR1: 25/1, pp. 275-276) Wainwright, commander of I Corps artillery, commended the battery in his report, saying “Captain Reynolds replied deliberately and with good effect … The battery was exceedingly well handled, the firing being carried on coolly and deliberately.” (OR 1: 25/1, p. 259)
5. McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 558-559.
6. This is probably a reference to Capt. George Cramer of the 108th New York, which suffered 52 casualties, most while fighting in the Chancellorsville salient the morning of May 3. (Marcotte, p. 106)
7. Boatner, p. 140.
8. The 33rd New York, also from the Rochester area, was within one month of being mustered out of service. It suffered its heaviest casualties of the war – 221 killed, wounded and missing – during Sedgwick’s assault on Marye’s Heights on May 3, and helping to defend his position near Banks’ Ford the following day. (Marcotte, pp. 108-112)

XVIX A willingness to tarry
pp. 327-338

1. The Union artillery at Chancellorsville was gravely hampered because Hooker had relegated his artillery commander, Hunt, to essentially the role of adviser, notes Naisawald. Batteries were parceled out among the various infantry divisions and placed under the command of their officers, repeating, in a sense, the same mistake Pope had made with his army. During the chaotic fighting around the Chancellorsville clearing the morning of May 3, for example, no one was in overall command of the artillery to ensure that ammunition was replenished, or that batteries withdrawn from the line were replaced. Clearly a reorganization was needed. Moreover, as Breck notes above, it was apparent that because of attrition, the infantry divisions were no longer the battlefield factors they had been in 1862. Army corps, consisting of two or more divisions, were now the key tactical unit. Hence, the May 12, 1863, reorganization in which batteries were assigned to artillery brigades, under command of an artillery officer, with one artillery brigade assigned per corps. Moreover, an artillery ammunition train was created for each corps, under the control of that corps’ chief of artillery. See Naisawald, pp. 272-273, 326-331.
2. Most regiments that were organized in the first months of the war enlisted for two years. The length of term was extended to three years for most regiments that were organized subsequently.
3. The mechanisms that needed to be established for the draft to occur were more complicated than Breck realized. “Considering that some 185 district enrollment boards had to be established, and given the inherent difficulties in administering the law” – such as setting quotas for each of those districts – it was “no mean achievement” that the draft was implemented as early as it was, in October 1863, notes James Geary. (Geary, p. 73)
4. Bower, it will be recalled, lost his left arm during the battery’s first serious engagement along the Rappahannock the previous August. The indomitable officer had “procured a false arm to supply the place of the one sacrificed to the cause,” before returning to the battery, the Evening Express reported on May 27.
5. Boatner, p. 332.
6. Boatner, pp. 309, 332.

XX The most desperate and bloody battle
pp. 339-357

1. Boatner, p. 81.
2. According to Bruce Catton, 141 Union soldiers were executed for desertion during the war, “although a sympathetic President Lincoln granted an untold number of pardons, preferring, he said, to ‘take the risk on the side of mercy.’” (Catton, Picture History, p. 381)
3. This is an apparent reference to Brig. Gen. Gabriel Paul’s brigade, which contained the 22nd, 29th, 30th and 31st New Jersey regiments. These nine-month regiments, mustered into service the previous September, were mustered out in June and July. (Dyer 1:178-179)
4. However, in a letter to Ellen the next morning, Breck wrote that despite marching an average of 15 miles a day, “ a good night’s rest has made me feel fresh as a Cock… All ready for another tramp. … I look the picture of roughness, and my face is literally sun-burnt.” (Breck, pp. 126-127)
5. Reynolds had been put in command of I, III and XI Corps, constituting the left wing of the Army of the Potomac. (OR 1: 27/3, p. 308)
6. As we have already seen, Lee was indeed invading the north, having persuaded Jefferson Davis and his cabinet that more was to be gained on northern soil than by reinforcing Bragg or Johnston. Indeed, Vicksburg was already under siege by Grant’s army. And Gen. William S. Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland, bloodied at Stones River in December, was about to launch a brilliant campaign of maneuver that would force Gen. Braxton Bragg, commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, to relinquish Chattanooga by Sept. 8.
7. See OR1: 27/1, pp. 58-60.
8. OR1: 27/1, p. 363.
9. Wainwright, p.235.
10. OR 1:27/1, p. 363.
11. Wainwright, p. 244.
12. OR 1: 27/1, pp. 174, 362-364.
13. Breck, pp. 131-133.
14. Welcher, pp. 757-759.
15. William Barksdale was a Mississippian and staunch advocate of secession. He commanded the brigade from his state that had stubbornly impeded Burnside’s efforts to lay down pontoon bridges at Fredericksburg by firing on the engineers from houses on the opposite bank. Barksdale was mortally wounded on the second day at Gettysburg during Longstreet’s attack, when his brigade crashed through the Peach Orchard, rolled up Union formations along the Emmitsburg Road, and was finally repulsed along Plum Run at the base of Cemetery Ridge.

XXI An army of observation
pp. 358-374

1. Newton succeeded to command of I Corps after Gen. John F. Reynolds was killed at Gettysburg.
2. The Union cavalrymen crossed the river at Rappahannock Station late on the morning of Aug. 1 “to gain information of Lee’s whereabouts,” Buford reported. Two brigades of Stuart’s cavalry “made a most obstinate resistance,” but were driven within1 ½ miles of Culpeper, where Buford came up against A. P. Hill’s infantrymen and was compelled to retire. (OR1: 27/1, p. 932)
3. Louis Napoleon, who harbored hopes of restoring a French empire in the New World, sent 35,000 soldiers in 1863 to capture Mexico City, overthrowing the government of Benito Juarez and installing Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian as “Emperor of Mexico.” Confederate envoys contacted Maximillian, offering to recognize him if he would help persuade France to recognize the Confederacy. However, by January 1864, notes James McPherson, “Napoleon seemed to have lost interest in the scheme.” (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 600)
4. The recruiting system required each congressional district to fill a certain quota. There was a great deal of pressure to fill those quotas without resorting to a draft, by offering ever higher bounties or accepting substitutes. And that meant there was a great temptation to accept men regardless of their fitness to actually serve. Wainwright, in his diary, complained that “the surgeons and provost-marshals pass anything in the way of a substitute. Being appointed in the district in which they live, and most of them being political aspirants, their object is to fill their quota, not to get good men for the army.” (Wainwright, p. 275) Note, also, Bruce Catton’s observation that “The substitute broker – the dealer who, for a price, would find substitutes for well-heeled draft dodgers – would take any men he could get, and some of them were mentally or physically defective. Through bribery, the broker could often get these men accepted…” (Catton, Picture History, p. 485) As a result, “horrified medical officers in the Army of the Potomac were finding that new lots of recruits often included hopeless cripples, lunatics, and men far along in incurable disease,” Catton adds. Of 57 recruits received by the 6th New York Heavy Artillery, for example, 17 were so disabled “that even a layman could see it – some, for instance, had but one hand, and a few were out-and-out idiots.” (Catton, A Stillness at Appomattox, p. 24)
5. Welcher, p. 272.
6. Most Union regiments enlisted for three-year terms, and with many of those terms set to expire in 1864, the Union army faced a dire predicament: It was very unlikely it could successfully prosecute the war using only the “bounty men” now being drawn into the ranks. It needed its veteran soldiers to re-enlist, preferably in entire regiments, and strong inducements were offered. Regiments that successfully re-enlisted at least three-fourths of their members would be allowed to go home on 30-day furlough; soldiers would receive bounties totaling about $700 and the regiment would be retained in service. This appeal to unit pride helped create a great deal of peer pressure. In the end, 136,000 veterans re-enlisted; 100,000 did not. See Catton, Stillness at Appomattox, pp. 33-36 and McPherson, p. 626.

XXII Expeditious marching

1. Boatner, p. 87.
2. Uncertain whether Lee was withdrawing or trying to flank him, Meade initially ordered Buford to advance across the Rapidan on Oct. 10 and uncover Morton’s Ford, allowing I and V Corps to cross over and move upstream. By the evening of Oct. 10, however, Meade realized Lee was moving around the Union right, and began pulling his army back to the Rappahannock and beyond. (Welcher, p. 273-274)
3. Both Hill’s and Ewell’s corps participated in the movement.
4. OR 1:29/1, pp. 228, 406-408.
5. Rosecrans, who seemed bewildered after his defeat at Chickamauga, was relieved on Oct. 20 by Grant, the hero of Vicksburg, who assumed overall command of the Union forces at Chattanooga. Bolstered by the reinforcements from the Army of the Potomac, and from other forces, it took only about a month for Grant to open up a new line of supply called “the cracker line,” and then push Bragg’s men off Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, back into northern Georgia.
6. Meade did, indeed, propose attempting to turn Lee’s right flank, by crossing the Rappahannock at Banks’ Ford and Fredericksburg, and securing the heights behind that town. However, Lincoln and Halleck vetoed the plan. (OR 1: 29/2, pp. 409, 412, 415)
7. The Veteran Reserve Corps, originally called the Invalid Corps, consisted of wounded soldiers who were unfit for field service, but could still volunteer to perform moderate duties, such as guarding prison camps and arsenals, acting as hospital guards, and doing provost guard duty at draft sites, notes Bruce Catton, who called it “as unusual a fighting force as the United States ever armed and equipped for action.” (Catton, A Stillness at Appomattox, pp. 143-145)
8. Boatner, pp. 680-681.
9. Breck was misinformed. The two Confederate brigades in the bridgehead were Hays’ Louisiana brigade and Hokes’ North Carolina brigade. See Early’s report, OR1: 29/1, pp. 618-626.

XXIII We bade goodbye to General Lee’s army
pp. 390-395

1. It is not clear why the reference is to “greybacks,” since federal currency was called “greenbacks.”
2. Felloes were the rims of the wheels, into which the spokes were fitted. (Garrison, p. 76)
3. Longstreet’s soldiers, it will be recalled, had been sent from Lee’s army to reinforce Bragg’s forces in northern Georgia. They helped Bragg win the battle of Chickamauga in September and bottle up Rosecrans’ army at Chattanooga. However, Longstreet soon became as disenchanted with Bragg’s leadership as the other corps commanders in the unhappy Army of Tennessee. He was detached with 15,000 men to try to recapture Knoxville, which had been taken by Burnside on Sept. 3. This decision led to disaster. Longstreet’s departure fatally weakened Bragg’s army, making it that much easier for Grant to drive Bragg’s men off Missionary Ridge and end the siege of Chattanooga. Moreover, Longstreet was repulsed in front of Knoxville on Nov. 29 and the following April was headed back to Lee’s army.

XXIV Every man is the architect of his own house
pp. 396-415

1. Captain Reynolds, it will be recalled, went west when XI and XII Corps were sent to help relieve Rosecrans’ army at Chattanooga, as commander of XII Corps artillery. He was in the thick of a fierce night battle at Wauhatchie, Tenn., in October, when Longstreet attempted to prevent the opening of the “cracker line” into Chattanooga. He remained as chief of corps artillery when the XI and XII were combined into the XX Corps under Hooker the following spring, and participated in Sherman’s Atlanta campaign.
2. Evening Express, Jan. 25, 1864; Daily Democrat, Jan. 12.
3. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and Harper’s Weekly were the Civil War equivalent of the modern news magazine. The strict Wainwright, describing Battery L’s camp in his diary, is as close to complimentary as his exacting standards could allow: “Reynolds’s huts are quite uniform in size, but they are too low; the chimneys are not all on the same side, nor do they all open into the street, which he has made more than double the width necessary … so as to form his company in the street for parade. … Reynold’s stable is something unique, being the half of a hollow square, with his carriages parked in the centre … The inner side of the stables is open: the other is closed with split logs set upright. Roof and floor are made in the same way, with not a nail in the whole thing.” (Wainwright, p. 317)
4. There was little, if any sense of a “terribly bitter” experience at Albany in the columns Breck wrote at the time, when he apparently was putting the best possible “spin” on the battery’s experiences to encourage enlistments.
5. The 54th, Rochester’s militia regiment, started toward New York City to help quell the draft riots, but was detained at Albany. (Marsh, p. 43)
6. OR1:33, pp. 507-516.
7. The official tally was 255 casualties. (OR 1: 33, p. 118)
8. Two Stringfellows, John and his brother Ben, were both active in the leadership of pro-slavery factions along the Kansas frontier. The Stringfellow “of Kansas notoriety” that Breck refers to is likely John, who used his platform as senior editor of the Atchison Squatter Sovereign and as speaker of the Kansas Territory's House of Representatives to launch fiery, vindictive attacks against free soilers. See various references to both in Alice Nichols' Bleeding Kansas (New York: Oxford Universrity Press, 1954), pp. 9, 26, 39, and 105.
9. John Minor Botts was a “venerable Virginia unionist and former U.S. congressman,” notes James McPherson, who was arrested and jailed by Confederate authorities in 1862 on suspicion of being a “disloyal” citizen. He was paroled from confinement on condition that he leave Richmond for some other location in the “interior,” that he not travel more than five miles from his new residence, and do nothing to aid the Union. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 366; OR2:2, pp. 1545-7)
10. On March 4, 1864, Meade recommended to the Secretary of War that the five corps of the Army of the Potomac be consolidated into three. He cited the reduced strength of nearly all infantry regiments in the army. He was probably also influenced by knowledge that Lee’s army had been well managed with only three corps, and moreover by the fact that on several occasions some of his corps commanders have given less than satisfactory performances. Consolidation would enable him to reduce the number of commanders required, and hence allow him to weed out the less capable ones. As a result, the 1st and 3rd corps were discontinued, with the 2nd, 5th and 6th corps being retained under the command of Gens. Hancock, Warren and Sedgwick. (Welcher, p. 278)
11. Lincoln had talked with Kilpatrick about conducting a raid deep behind enemy lines to distribute copies of the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconciliation, pardoning all who had participated in the rebellion if they took an oath of allegiance. Meade approved the idea, tacking on an additional goal of freeing Federal prisoners held at Richmond. Kilpatrick’s force, numbering 4,000 cavalrymen, left Stevensburg on Feb. 28, with Ulric Dahlgren leading the advance. The raid fell short of its objectives, failed to free any prisoners and Dahlgren was killed. Papers taken from his body allegedly disclosed that the raiders hoped to burn Richmond, and kill Jefferson Davis and his entire cabinet, all of which was stoutly denied in the North, but created a furor in the South, further hardening attitudes on both sides. (Welcher, pp. 765-766; Catton, A Stillness at Appomattox, pp. 4-18)
12. The Christian Commission was founded by YMCA leaders in November 1861 to provide “blankets, clothing, books and physical as well as spiritual nurture to Union soldiers,” McPherson notes. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 413)
13. See Priscilla Astifan’s “Baseball in the19th Century,” in the Rochester History quarterly series, Vol 52:3, pp. 17-19, for more on the exploits of this early Rochester baseball team. It can be viewed at, then click on “Rochester History.”
14. “W.E.” – possibly Sgt. Webster Eaton – reported to the Evening Express that the new recruits had brought the battery up to 155 men present for duty, in other words a full complement. (Rochester Evening Express, March 21, 1864)

XXV They will stand by him through thick and thin
pp. 416-424

1. Indeed, it was in the Wilderness that First Sergeant Rooney, Corporal Blake, and 12 privates found the battery on June 6, when they rejoined it at the expiration of their veteran furloughs. (OR 1:36/1, p. 657)
2. The United States Sanitary Commission, organized by northern women and physicians to supplement the outdated Army Medical Bureau, was one of the great success stories of the Northern war effort. It was inspired by the role of the British Sanitary Commission which, during the Crimean War, had exposed the filthy and primitive conditions that had decimated the Allied armies. The U.S. commission organized bazaars and fairs to raise money for medical supplies, sent volunteer nurses to the army hospitals, and instructed soldiers in proper camp hygiene. Eventually, the adversarial walls thrown up by the army bureaucracy were overthrown, opening the doors to full cooperation between the commission and the military establishment. One result was widespread acceptance of women nurses, and the establishment of a trained ambulance corps. (McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 262, 410-415)
3. For most of the war, black soldiers in the Union ranks not only received less pay than their white counterparts, but were not allowed to serve as commissioned officers, hence the need for white officers to lead them.
4. The much-traveled IX Corps, after leaving the Army of the Potomac in February 1863, saw service in the Vicksburg campaign and during the siege of Knoxville, Tenn., before being ordered back east in 1864. In April, it relieved Warren’s V Corps guarding the Orange and Alexandria R.R. However, because Burnside and his chief of staff held superior rank to Meade, Grant initially did not assign IX Corps directly to the Army of the Potomac but kept it under his personal control. (Welcher, pp. 420-430)
5. OR1:36/1, p. 12.
6. OR 1: 36/1, pp. 14-18.

XXVI Such terrible fighting
pp. 425-459

1. Shelton’s section was ordered to advance down the Orange Turnpike where the road passed through Saunders’ Field, to support an attack being made by a Union brigade that included the 140th New York from the Rochester area. The Rochester foot soldiers, already suffering heavy losses, had to endure the added insult of being fired into from the rear by Shelton’s artillerymen. “Our shots, to reach the enemy, must hew their way through our men,” Shelton later wrote from a Confederate prison. “To fire at all was almost deliberate murder, and the two shots that we did fire was only to obey … the insane order that sent us …” The 140th suffered 255 casualties out of 529 who attacked. (Marcotte, pp. 178-180) Shelton’s 10-month sojourn in the south, being shuttled from prison to prison, making multiple escape attempts, and finally succeeding with the help of Union sympathizers, is chronicled in “A Hard Road to Travel out of Dixie,” an article he wrote for Century magazine in 1890 (Vol. 40, pp. 931-949).
2. Breck’s reference is not clear, since there was relatively little fighting on May 7, compared to the two prior days.
3. OR 1: 36/1,p. 657; Wainwright, p. 357.
4. Matter, William, If It Takes all Summer: The Battle of Spotsylvania, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1988, p. 126.
5. “Mr. Matthews was sitting upon a gun at the time he was shot, entirely unsuspicious of danger,” the Daily Democrat reported on May 23. It was probably at the Pritchett House that Breck had a close call. In a letter written to friends on May 11, according to the Union and Advertiser, Breck said he “had stopped a spent ball which struck his leg but inflicted no injury.” (Union and Advertiser, May 17, 1864) More details of apparently the same incident followed in the UA on May 19. “We are told that the friends of Lt. Geo. Breck of Battery L have a letter from him which was perforated by a bullet while in his port folio. He had partially written the letter and put it into the leather port folio which he carried at his side. A spent ball passed thro’ the porte folio, letter and all, and struck the metal clasp where its force was exhausted and it could do no harm. But for the porte folio it is probable that the ball would have entered the body of Lt. Breck.” Lt. Charles Anderson, in his official report, said Breck had been “slightly wounded” on the 9th, but did not leave the field. (OR 1: 36/1, p. 657)
6. OR 1:36/1, p. 657.
7. One of recaptured guns was the one that had been captured from Battery L at Gettysburg. (Hazlett, James C., “The 3-Inch Ordnance Rifle,” Civil War Times Illustrated, Vol. 7, No. 8, December 1968)
8. There are two radically different accounts of where Battery L was posted on the 12th. Wainwright, in his official report, said Breck’s battery had been moved to the extreme left of the V Corps. Lt. Anderson, in his report, said the battery was placed on the right of V Corps, expending 378 rounds before pulling out of the line at 5 p.m. and moving to the rear of the V Corps hospital. See OR1:36/1, pp. 643 and 657.
9. Actually marching Friday night, May 13, into the morning of Saturday, May 14.
10. OR 1:36/1, p. 643.
11. Wainwright, in his diary, explained that Meade wanted to break up the army’s Artillery Reserve or send it back to Washington, since it had been little used during the campaign. This would have meant breaking up or sending away entire batteries. Hunt “tells me he means to hold on to all the organizations he can,” and thus suggested a compromise: Reduce the number of guns in batteries throughout the army instead, “rather than send off the batteries themselves, so that they can easily be filled up again if needed.” (Wainwright, p. 374.)
12. OR 1:36/ 1, p. 658.
13. McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 641.
14. Lee, detecting Grant’s preparations to move, sent a force into the rear of the Army of the Potomac in an attempt to sever Grant’s supply lines. This attack was turned back during heavy fighting at the Harris Farm, in the last of the battles around Spotsylvania, during which several heavy artillery regiments, pulled from fortifications in places such as Baltimore, had their baptism of fire as infantry.
15. Trudeau, Bloody Roads South, pp. 231-235.
16. On Oct. 21, 1861, a Union brigade commanded by Col. Edward Baker, an old friend of Lincoln’s, crossed the Potomac at Ball’s Bluff, north of Washington, D.C., as part of a demonstration aimed at driving the Confederates out of Leesburg, Va. Baker and his inexperienced soldiers ran into a Confederate brigade at the top of the 100-foot high bank. Baker was killed, and his soldiers were driven in disorder back down the slope and into the river, where many were drowned. More than half Baker’s 1,700 soldiers ended up casualties. The debacle prompted radical Republicans in Congress to establish a Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War to search for a scapegoat. The committee continued to operate throughout the war. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 297)
17. OR 1:36/1, p. 658; Wainwright, p. 386.
18. Trudeau, Bloody Roads South, p. 239.
19. Trudeau, Bloody Roads South, pp. 252-257; OR1: 36/1, p. 658.
20. OR 1: 36/1, p. 647; Trudeau, Bloody Roads South, pp. 262-278.
21. OR 1: 36/1, p. 658.
22. Grant sent Sheridan with two cavalry divisions on a diversionary raid during the movement of the rest of the army to the James. Sheridan’s target was the Virginia Central Railroad at Charlottesville, but Wade Hampton caught up with the Union raiders with two divisions of Confederate cavalry. Heavy fighting around Trevilian Station on June 11 and 12 forced Sheridan to break off his raid, rejoining Grant on June 28. (Boatner, p. 848)
23. OR 1:40/1, p. 481.
24. Smith, seeing how lightly defended the fortifications were, decided to attack them with a heavy skirmish line, rather than a regular battle formation. That would disperse his men, making them less of a target for the big guns in the forts. The tactic worked: The Confederates held their fire, waiting for battle formations which never appeared, and the skirmishers succeeded in overrunning the forts. (Trudeau, Last Citadel, p. 41)
25. Anderson, in his official report, said the battery, along with Battery B, 1st Penn., engaged rebel Batteries Nos.18 and 19, expending 200 rounds of ammunition “with satisfactory practice.” (OR 1:40/1, p. 490) Col. Wainwright, in his official report, said Breck’s battery was placed “to the left of the Norfolk road and in front of the Deserted House, between this road and the Norfolk railroad...” (OR 1:40/1, p.481)
26. OR1: 40/1, p. 481.
27. Trudeau, Last Citadel, p. 53.
28. Anderson reported that the battery had fired 480 rounds. (OR 1:40/1, p. 490) See appendix for full report.
29. OR1:40/1, p. 482.

XXVII Tired of fighting
pp. 460-476

1. Trudeau, Last Citadel, p. 6.
2. Lee reported that Mahone’s men captured 1,600 prisoners, four artillery pieces and eight battle flags. (Trudeau, Last Citadel, p. 80)
3. Surely this was exactly the kind of “contraband” information that Breck normally took care not to reveal. Coal miners serving in a Pennsylvania regiment were indeed tunneling under a section of the Confederate defenses. The plan was to build a chamber at the end, pack it with powder, detonate it, and blow a hole in the Confederate line. Obviously, secrecy was of paramount importance to the plan’s success!
4. Lt. Charles Anderson, in his official report, noted: “For a month at this portion of the line the enemy continued a desultory fire, our instructions being not to reply. The only compliments we could return him were those of a contemptuous silence.” (OR1: 40/1, p. 490)
5. Not all soldiers in front of Petersburg were so fortunate. One soldier of the 108th New York said the regiment’s wells yielded a “fluid that resembled watered milk, which was palatable” – barring the frogs. (Washburn, George H., A Complete Military History and Record of the 108th Regiment N.Y.Vols. From 1862 to 1894, Rochester: E. R. Andrews, 1894, p. 81)
6. A surgeon’s medical certificate for leave of absence, dated July 24 in Breck’s military records, states Breck was “laboring under debility resulting from malarial disease, from which he has been suffering for the past three weeks; is feeble and emaciated and naturally of somewhat delicate organization.” He was treated July 21 to 31, then received a furlough to recuperate in Rochester.
7. Anderson, in the battery’s official report, identified the position as the “south front of Fort Warren.” (OR 1: 40/1, p. 490)
8. OR1: 40/1, p. 17.
9. Trudeau, Last Citadel, p. 174.
10. This was another name for Globe Tavern.
11. The problem in the besieged city, notes Noah Andre Trudeau, was not so much the supply of food, which was generally adequate, but the prices that were charged. Even before the siege, during the winter of 1863, flour cost$200 a barrel, butter $6 a pound, wheat $25 a bushel and beans $30 a bushel. Most people managed to eke by, one resident proudly proclaiming she did not have to eat rats, mice or mule meat at any point during the siege, instead getting by on peas, bread and sorghum, and a little milk mixed with a drink made from roasted and ground corn. The most serious threat of starvation, Trudeau adds, was among refugees with no relations in town, or those abandoned by deserting soldiers. One visitor to Petersburg in January 1865 related seeing several women and young children who were compelled to go among the soldiers to beg for food. (Trudeau, Last Citadel, pp.6, 258)
12. McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 652.
13. McClellan “professed to stand for restoration of the Union by military victory,” McPherson notes. “But the Peace Democrats wrote the platform, whose crucial plank…branded the war a failure and called for an armistice and peace negotiations. The vice presidential nominee George Pendleton was also a Peace Democrat.” As a result, most northerners – and many Confederates – regarded the upcoming election as a referendum on the war itself. (McPherson, For Cause, p. 176)
14. The U.S. Military Railroad ran from City Point, the army’s main supply depot on the James River, all along the Union lines at Petersburg, which meant it had to be extended each time the Federal trench lines crept farther west below Petersburg. Trudeau, in The Last Citadel, quotes soldiers who marveled at the way the rail line simply went up hill and down with “no pretense of grading,” its undulations so marked “that a train moving along it looked in the distance like a fly crawling over a corrugated washboard.” Nonetheless, it was the army’s lifeline, with as many as 15 trains per day bringing food and ammunition to within easy hauling distance of the front. (Trudeau, Last Citadel, pp. 298-299)
15. The first medals of honor to be awarded during the Civil War were actually presented more than a year earlier. On March 25, 1863, medals were presented to six soldiers who, disguised as civilians, had participated the year before in the hijacking of a Confederate train in an attempt to disrupt the rail line between Big Shanty, Ga., and Chattanooga, Tenn. The award ceremony occurred at the War Department after the six were paroled from Confederate prison. It is worth noting that the Medal of Honor was awarded far more leniently during the Civil War than it is now. (Kane, John F., The Medal of Honor of the United States Army, Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1948, p. 7) Not until 1918 were additional, lesser medals created to reward valor, thereby enabling the Medal of Honor to be reserved for only the most conspicuous acts of gallantry “above and beyond the call of duty.” (Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1978, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, U.S. Senate, Washington: U.S Government Printing Office, 1979, pp. 11-16)
16. When Confederate scouts discovered a large number of cattle at Coggin’s Point, on the south bank of James River, Wade Hampton’s cavalry moved out to capture them. During the ensuing fighting on Sept. 16, the cattle herders broke down the fence of the corral and fired pistols in the air, trying to stampede the cattle out of Hampton’s reach.

The Confederate cavalrymen – “born cowboys” – were able to round up the animals and bring 2,486 cattle to Lee’s hungry army. (Boatner p. 371-372)

XXVIII Politics are running high
pp. 477-487

1. One might also argue, of course, that once McClellan took it upon himself to enter the rough and tumble arena of politics, he forfeited the right to be treated with kid gloves.
2. The 104th New York, organized primarily at Geneseo, N.Y., suffered heavy losses the first day at Gettysburg when Confederates poured through a gap between I and XI Corps near the Mummasburg Road. It suffered an almost identical fate in the fighting at Weldon Railroad, where the regiment was surrounded and captured. After that, the only remaining members were assigned to provost guard at V Corps headquarters. (Marcotte, pp. 122-125, 227-229)
3. Breck told his sister Ellen he had administered “something in the neighborhood of 500 oaths” to enable soldiers to vote through proxies back home for McClellan. “Hundreds of soldiers have been literally proscribed from voting for McClellan by their officers,” Breck complained, “and they have been obliged to get McClellan ballots from other sources and to get other officers to administer the necessary oath to them.” (Breck, pp. 140-141) Wainwright, however, was apparently more realistic in his appraisal of the soldiers’ political sentiments. “I was told yesterday that Lincoln has a majority of about fifteen votes in every hundred in my command … The new men, thousand-dollar patriots, all vote for Lincoln, while a majority of the old soldiers go the other way. The army vote, however, will be decidedly Republican.” (Wainwright, p. 476)
4. (Trudeau, Last Citadel, pp. 221-252.
5. While a victory no doubt would have benefited the president’s re-election chances, the more important motive, suggests Noah Andre Trudeau, was Meade’s desire to recover some of his lost prestige, especially after a New York Independent article suggested Grant was anxious to get rid of him. (Trudeau, Last Citadel, pp. 221-222)
6. Breck, in a letter to Ellen dated Dec. 18, elaborated on his concern that in defeating the Confederate armies, “only half the work will then be done, for unless we can win these 8,000,000 people back, by satisfactory terms of negotiation, by mutual and friendly concessions, we shall not have restored the Union. We shall have a Union kept together by force only, and I wouldn’t give a rush for such a Union. Better none at all.” (Breck, pp. 146-147)

XXIX The federal skies never looked so bright
pp. 488-507

1. Jubal Early, when last heard from, had advanced to the outskirts of Washington in July. Timely arrival of the VI and part of the XIX Corps forced him to retreat. But he continued to stir up trouble. Later that month he advanced into Pennsylvania and burned Chambersburg before retiring back into the Shenandoah Valley. Grant was exasperated by these tactics. He sent Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan to take charge of Union forces in the Shenandoah with two missions: eliminate Early and destroy the valley as a Confederate breadbasket. Sheridan fulfilled the first part of his mission by defeating Early at Winchester and Fisher Hill in September, and pursuing him as far as Harrisonburg. He fulfilled the second when his army then returned back up the valley, burning everything in his path. Early followed, and on Oct. 19 launched a surprise attack at Cedar Creek. The Confederates succeeded in routing most of the Union soldiers, then paused to regroup. Sheridan was 15 miles away, returning from a strategy conference in Washington, when he heard the sound of gunfire. He galloped toward the battlefield, rallying and energizing his defeated soldiers. Sheridan’s counterattack that afternoon routed Early’s army and destroyed it as an effective fighting force.
2. VI Corps rejoined the Army of the Potomac on Dec. 6. The two divisions of the XIX Corps remained in the valley until the following year. (Welcher, p. 493)
3. “The main and about the only thing that keeps me in the service beyond my original time,” Breck wrote to Ellen on Oct. 23, “is that in consequence of so many men going out, one third of them non-commissioned officers of the Battery, it leaves the Battery in somewhat of a disorganized condition, and I dislike very much to leave it in that shape.” When Lt. Charles Anderson was mustered out Oct. 29, Breck was temporarily left as the battery’s only commissioned officer. (Breck, p. 141)
4. Humphreys became commander of II Corps after Hancock took leave to recuperate from his unhealed wounds from Gettysburg.
5. Breck, perhaps out of modesty, fails to mention his own promotion to brevet major, for “gallant services during the operations before Petersburg.” Officially it is dated Feb. 6, 1865, but Breck mentions it in a Dec. 18 letter to Ellen. Boatner, in his Civil War Dictionary, explains that “For practical purposes brevet rank can be regarded as an honorary title, awarded for gallant or meritorious action in time of war, and having none of the authority, precedence, or pay of real or full rank.” Unfortunately, he adds, there were occasions when Civil War officers insisted their brevet rank be treated as real rank. Regulations covering this were so vague that “controversies arose throughout the war.” Moreover, about 1,700 volunteer and Regular Army officers were breveted major general or brigadier general, most of them near the end of the war, an abuse that eventually led to abandonment of the brevet system in the U.S. Army. (Boatner, p. 84)
6. Trudeau, Last Citadel, pp. 264-285.
7. It is interesting that Breck, who normally keep apprised of such things, either did not know or chose not to relate the events that precipitated the destruction. As Warren’s men neared Sussex Court House on their return, black civilians came in with news that Federal stragglers had been waylaid and killed by Rebel guerrillas. Union detachments found the bodies, with throats cut, heads bashed in with axes, others stripped of their clothing and apparently shot in the head while the men were kneeling in a circle. This outraged the Union soldiers. “We protected (the) houses, when we advanced, but on our return, after witnessing the inhuman acts of the inhabitants, we fired every building on the route.” (Trudeau, Last Citadel, p. 280)
8. The missing word appears to be “aflection.”
9. McPherson, Battle Cry, pp. 711-719.
10. Gouverneur Kimble Warren, a native of Cold Springs, N.Y., and graduate of West Point, was a topographical engineer in the Regular Army, possessing an “eye for ground as good as any in the Army of the Potomac,” Warner notes. He was the hero of the second day at Gettysburg, rushing Union troops onto Little Round Top just in time to prevent its seizure by the onrushing Confederates. Warren’s later handling of V Corps during Grant’s overland campaign “could hardly be taken exception to,” Warner adds, “however, there seems to have been a personality clash among him, U.S. Grant and Philip Sheridan.” As we shall see below, Sheridan relieved Warren of command at Five Forks, a move which does not appear to have been justified, yet which ruined Warren’s military career. (Warner pp. 541-542) Warren may have appeared perfectly “agreeable and urbane” to Breck in a social setting, but he was notorious for his black moods and foul-tempered outbursts against subordinates. For example, Breck’s brigade commander, Charles Wainwright, frequently commented on Warren’s moodiness in his diaries, including this entry for June 1, 1864: “General Warren has been in one of his pets all yesterday and today, as ugly and cross-grained as he could be. One would suppose that a man in his position would be ashamed to show that kind of temper … He has pitched into his staff officers most fearfully, cursing them up and down as no man has a right to do ... (Wainwright, p. 396)
11. McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 722.
12. Alexander Hamilton Stephens, the Confederacy’s vice president and a voice of moderation, was among a three-member delegation from Richmond that met with Lincoln and Seward aboard a steamer in Hampton Roads on Feb. 3, 1865, to see if peace could be restored. The conference failed when Lincoln and Seward insisted on 1) restoration of federal authority through all the states, 2) no backing away from the Emancipation Proclamation, and 3) an end to the war, including the disbanding of all rebelling forces. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 724)
13. On the night of Jan. 23, three Confederate ironclads and a small flotilla of wooden torpedo boats and gun boats, moved down the James River from Chaffin’s Bluff to attack Union shipping at City Point. “A combination of Union defensive fire, poor C.S. sailing, and mechanical breakdowns ended the raid well short of its goal,” Trudeau notes. (Trudeau, Last Citadel, p. 299)
14. Trudeau, Last Citadel, pp.312-322.

XXX The rebellion is played out!

1. Warren was relieved of command of V Corps by Sheridan, who believed Warren had mishandled the corps during the fighting at Five Forks. Warren was replaced by Maj. Gen. Charles Griffin.
2. As mentioned earlier, after overthrowing the republican government of Benito Juarez in 1863, Louis Napoleon installed Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian as the Emperor of Mexico. Confederate envoys offered to recognize him if he would help obtain French recognition of the South. The efforts came to naught. (McPherson, Battle Cry, p. 600)
3. Given that Lee didn’t surrender until April 9, this letter was probably written late that day or on the next.
4. Sheridan, who along with Grant and Sherman constituted the triumvirate of famous Union generals, “may have been born in any one of several locations on a date which he himself occasionally reestablished,” Warner notes. Born in Albany, N.Y., according to his memoirs, he grew up in Ohio, graduated from West Point after being suspended for a year for quarreling with another cadet, then spent eight years on the frontier. Early in the Civil War, he served as quartermaster under Halleck during the Corinth, Miss., campaign, then took command of the 2nd Michigan Cavalry in 1862. “Thereafter his rise in rank and responsibility was meteoric,” Warner notes. He fought with distinction in several western battles, commanding a division at Chickamauga. It was Sheridan’s soldiers who spontaneously stormed up Missionary Ridge and seized it, without orders. Grant gave Sheridan the command of the Army of the Potomac’s cavalry at the start of the overland campaign in 1864. As noted above, he commanded successful Union operations against Early in the Shenandoah Valley later that year, and played a leading role at Five Forks and the subsequent pursuit of Lee’s army to Appomattox. After the war he was instrumental in forcing Napoleon III to withdraw his military support of Emperor Maximilian in Mexico. He helped direct operations against Native Americans, and eventually ascended to commanding general of the army in 1884. (Warner, pp. 437-439)
5. Rather than simply accepting the surrender of Johnston’s army, Sherman set forth, in effect, a national peace treaty that far exceeded his authority and, in all probability, was more lenient than even Lincoln would have accepted had he not been assassinated, Bruce Catton notes. For example, Sherman stipulated that each southern state government would be recognized as lawful once its officers took an oath supporting the U.S. Constitution. No one would be punished for supporting the rebellion. All rights of person and property as spelled out in the Constitution would be respected, which might, as Catton notes, “give slavery a new lease on life.” In the vengeful atmosphere created by Lincoln’s assassination, Sherman’s document didn’t stand a chance. Stanton and the rest of the cabinet disapproved it; Johnston surrendered anyway on terms identical with those Grant gave Lee. (Catton, Picture History, pp. 592-594)

XXXI Never were marching orders hailed with greater delight
pp. 521-533

1. The Dutch Gap canal was a pet project of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler, part of a “grandiose scheme to clear the way for Yankee gunboats to reduce Richmond’s James River defenses,” notes Bruce Catton. Butler’s soldiers removed over 65,000 cubic yards of dirt to bypass a loop in the James River. “The canal was not completed until the war was nearly over, and its only result was to straighten a bad bottleneck in the James, much to the benefit of Richmond’s postwar commerce.” (Catton, Picture History, p. 470-471)
2. Castle Thunder was yet another infamous Richmond prison, consisting of a tobacco factory and two smaller buildings. Prisoners came up with the name Castle Thunder, “evidently as a sardonic reference to having evoked the thunder of the gods,” Lonnie R. Speer notes. (Speer, p. 93)
3. Davis, attempting to reach the last remaining Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi, was captured in south Georgia on May 10 when Federal cavalry caught up with his band. “When he emerged from the tent, he was wearing a water-repellent cloak with wide, loose sleeves and a black shawl that (his wife Varina) had thrown around his shoulders,” biographer William J. Cooper Jr. notes. (Cooper, William J., Jefferson Davis: American, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000, p. 534)
4. The procession began when “on some impulse a few soldiers got out candles, stuck them in the muzzles of their muskets, lighted them, and began to march down a company street,” Bruce Catton writes in This Hallowed Ground. Other soldiers joined in, until the entire corps was on the parade ground, “nothing visible but thousands upon thousands of candle flames…As they paraded the men began to cheer. They had marched many weary miles in the last four years, into battle and out of battle, through forests and across rivers, uphill and downhill and over the fields, moving always because they had to go where they were told to go. Now they were marching just for the fun of it. It was the last march of all and, when the candles burned out, the night would swallow soldiers and music and the great army itself; but while the candles still burned, the men cheered…” (Catton, Bruce, This Hallowed Ground: The Story of the Union Side of the Civil War (edition for young readers), Garden City: Doubleday and Co. 1956, p. 187)

XXXII Breck’s life after the war
pp. 534-535

1. Rochester Union and Advertiser, June 20, 1865.
2. Union and Advertiser, March 7, 1867.
3. Union and Advertiser, Jan. 5, 1870, Jan. 22, 1872.
4. Union and Advertiser, Dec. 16, 1874. Management of the hospital was turned over to the Lady Managers of the Rochester Female Charitable Society.
5. Union and Advertiser, Oct. 20, 1875.
6. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Aug. 24, 1911.
7. Letter in Breck’s Pension Application File, National Archives and Records Administration.

XXXV Breck’s address at dedication of Gettysburg monument
pp. 548-553

1. Fox, William F., New York at Gettysburg, Final Report on the Battlefield of Gettysburg, Albany, N.Y.: J.B. Lyon and Co., 1900, vol. 3, p. 1255.
2. Battery A, 2nd U.S. Artillery was under command of Lt. John H. Calef at Gettysburg.
3. Also called Chambersburg Pike.
4. Brig. Gen. Henry Hunt, commander of artillery for the Army of the Potomac, reported that the loss of this gun and one from another battery were “the necessary result” of the “obstinate” resistance the artillery had put up to cover the withdrawal of the infantry. “Guns can be lost with honor,” he later told the battery. (OR1:27/1, p. 231; New York at Gettysburg 3:1254)

XXXVII Palmyra and Battery L
pp. 561-563

1. Breck, pp. 113, 121-122. The two were tent mates for at least the time the Battery was stationed in Baltimore and in the Shenandoah. Breck found himself in an awkward position, being promoted to 1st lieutenant ahead of Anderson, apparently due to Anderson’s bad relationship with Capt. John Reynolds. Anderson and the captain had had several “spats;” Anderson at one point even contemplated a transfer to another command. That didn’t happen, and by Feb. 1863, he and Breck had become “very intimate and strong friends,” Breck told his sister Ellen. “I like him much. He is very intelligent and sensible. Has perhaps an hauteur of manner that is disagreeable to some. We are politically opposed to Capt. and Lt. Reynolds, and have had many sharp discussions. They think we, especially Lt. A., by our opposition to the proclamation of freedom, create dissatisfaction among the troops in our own company … But that’s all nonsense.” Anderson appears to have worked as tirelessly as Breck in rounding up soldiers’ votes for McClellan during the presidential election of 1864. (Breck, pp. 98, 112, 121-122, 141)
2. See page 302.


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