tv Civil War Soldiers Letters CSPAN January 25, 2015 4:32pm-5:54pm EST
transforming us repackaging us as the product. we are the ones eating sold. not only are we working for free, but we are being sold. it is the ultimate scam. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on q&a. coming up next on american history tv, the national archives posts independent researcher john emond as he reads letters from civil war soldiers, placing the letters in the context of the war as well as the soldiers daily lives defined by personal hardship, disease, and death. this is about one hour and 20 minutes. >> i think we are all settled in. welcome. i work in the national archives. i work -- i welcome you to this program. we have an ongoing lecture series to teach you about the records of the national archives
and how to use them for historical research. we are pleased to have john emond here with us today. the title of the event is civil war voices. a bit more about the know your records program, we also do researcher newsletters, if you provide your e-mail address i will send you that newsletter automatically. it -- we do a genealogy fair, and wheels of have a genealogy program taken place at the national archives building in washington dc. that happened several times a month. so, with that, i will turn -- give the biography for mr. emond. he retired in 2011 at the 30 years in government. most of it in contract technology transfer and project management at nasa. he is a member of the maritime committee with the maryland historical society. he is a collector of historical artifacts from the american
revolution and civil war. including several civil war soldiers' letters which he will refer to in this presentation. a program that will be approximately one hour long. we will take questions and answers at the end. thank you, i hope you enjoy. >> before i get started, because this is a program that highlights the national archives, a bit of further information on my background. as a collector of americana from the revolution through the civil war, i wanted to find out more. if there was an object with the name on it, i wanted to find out what was behind the name. i began to get involved with the archives to find out more about those instances where a story could be found. other peach -- people approached me, as well. many of the files i came across our routine, nothing extraordinary. but there are more. the stories that come out are truly extraordinary.
that is part of the fun. you never know what you are going to find. until you actually delve into it. that is the basis of how i got involved with the archives. it is a magnificent repository. as we begin, civil war voices from the archives. the civil war, for all intents and purposes be and with the confederacy against fort sumter, in 1861. it ended although confederate armies were still in the field with lee's surrender in a farmhouse in appomattox virginia, april 9, 1865. the cost of war it self was incredible. extraordinary. roughly two to 2.2 million people served the union army. many died of disease, many died in battle.
250,000 died of disease. on the confederate side, 700,000-1,000,000 men served the confederacy. 164,000 died of disease. about 600,000 deaths by battle or disease. if you look at the population in 1860, it was 31 million. compare that to the population in 2012 of 312 million. what that means is, as a ratio against the overall population with 6000 deaths during the civil war against the population of 31 million, if that equated to today's figures, that would mean in a population of 312 million in 2012, 6 million would have died. that is the magnitude, the scale of what the civil war meant to so many families, north and south. next slide. it is said, battles are planned
by generals and fought by privates. during the civil war, that was clearly the case. for both the union side, and the confederates. this is their story you will here today. it is not really of the major generals and major campaigns but it would -- is what it was like for the soldiers in the field. my presentation highlights the journey we are going on today. we will start from the dramatic the coming storm, the beginning of the war itself. adulation to anger two soldier stories. one from massachusetts and the other from pennsylvania. as they had on their journey south, what it was like to go from adoring crowds to a sullen group, sometimes even a mob.
families divided, we will hear what it was like to have not only a country divided, but a family divided. a slave no more. the issue of slavery was a central area of the civil war. return to war, how an individual who was captured escaped, and promised his family he would not go back into military service. why he did so, in a letter to his family. why he breaks his promise not to rejoin the military, and his reasons to do so. a confederates view of battle, a yankees view of battle. then we move on to historical tidbits from the archives. lincoln's substitute. i will get more to that. i was curious, when someone asked me to realize -- research lincoln substitute, i had no idea what he was talking about until i did the research. then, i will ask you to weigh in. what would you do? a soldier charged with
desertion. should that person be executed for what he did? and another instance, evacuating a military post. should the officer have ordered his post abandoned? why or why not? we will get your vote on these. and then, to lighten up the theme of death, there are funny stories that have emerged by the research i have done at the archives. one of them is called in action. i am not sure what it was about union kernels, but there were some real characters. another that i recently found, a great story that i knew had to come into this presentation. you can't make these things up. i captioned it, ok, but you are no ringo starr. and there is another, hey yank, throw it over. what happens when there is an informal truce between battle, when confederates and yankees
interact. and the most humorous event i have seen, the wedding. we will go into that. i will conclude the discussion as we get to the end of the war, and the most poignant aspects of stories i have come across. one of them is david king's letter of remorse. it is the most chilling i have ever encountered. william keith, as the war winds down, a letter from appomattox. he was there. lastly wisdom for the ages. charles smith's reflections. a passage that is flowery in victoria on a it is flowery but it has as much meaning today as it did when it was written. we are still part of the sesquicentennial. men most certainly were dying in the conflict, it was by no means over yet.
as far as the coming storm, you have a situation in the late fall of 1860. lincoln has been elected president. the country is on a nice -- a knife's edge. things are changing, and they are changing fast. this area in particular, maryland being a border state had southern sympathies and northern sympathies. there was uncertainty as to what would happen if maryland chose to secede. in virginia, there was speculation -- i have a newspaper from alexandria, the speculation there before the war broke out is, if washington invades northern virginia, maryland will invade washington. so, no one knew what was going to happen. all they knew was that life as they knew it was about to change, romantically. here is where we going to our
first letter. they're in mind, south carolina seceded from the union on december 20, 1860. there was no confederate flag at this point, but the state flag of south carolina was the palmetto flag. circular objects that were pinned to a hat, symbols of pro-secession leafs. this is relevant to the letter. december 7, 1860. dear friend bob, how are you? important business claimed the attention here of anyone, i.e. saving the country, to put down secessionists here in my state. i believe every hope is gone. maryland will be as hot for secession as any other state, in less than one month. the people almost all go for this union to throw off all northern role and set up for themselves. me, i am for the union.
fugitive slaves should be returned, and so on. but as long as he shows favorite to negroes, i will fight to the knife. the boys in baltimore can fight. the southern army will be invincible on their own grounds. there are thousands will fight for the union. they are organizing into companies. i hear cockade's are is plenty as june bugs in july. the palmetto flag is very clear this is a southern-leaning expression. palmetto flags wave from two establishments from all-time. and at night, from several places. something is in the wind, although i do not know what it is. yours, george. then, war breaks out. call to volunteers. north and south, if you look at pension files and military
records in the war, you see a lot of times, the call to service for three months. both north and south thought it was going to be a short war. it turns out that short war resulted in four years of struggle. we have a situation where armies that are organized in the north start off with adoring crowds. our brave boys heading forth to a glorious victory. they found it was different. early in the war, there was an angela in. -- adulation. there were parades through crowds that were cheering on their brave boys. on the right-hand side it may be hard to make out, that is rioting in baltimore april ninth, 1961. a different greeting for the union soldiers heading through. we will do background on that. the soldiers are heading into baltimore, they had to change
trains at pratt street to board another train to continue their journey to washington. as they marched from one train station to another, crowds gathered. insults and bricks were hurled. rioting lookout shots were fired. several soldiers and civilians were killed. i'm about to tell you two stories. one soldier came from massachusetts, the other from pennsylvania. they write about their experiences at the start their journey, the adoring crowds, more food than they can possibly eat. this is what happens as they go through to a border state, and the situation changes dramatically. adulation to anger. 16th massachusetts infantry, baltimore, it august 20, 1861. dear mother, 43 hours from boston. from home to maryland it was a triumphal march. your soldier boy got many a sweet kiss from the jersey
girls. elizabethtown, princeton trenton, all the large places, there was a perfect rush to see us and bring us food and drink. we arrived in philadelphia at 9:00 in the evening. they have a place else in the side of the street, and every passing regiment is fed. it is a splendid city. the people like soldiers. thousands flocked to see us. old massachusetts was cheered. many a shake of the hand and a kiss, and a hearty rod bless you. we left for baltimore at 12:00 at night. now, the scene changes. we got into baltimore yesterday about 11:00. we were received without a cheer or other expression. people looked on in sullen silence. we marched through baltimore. one of marshall kane's storehouses where powder was
hid, is used by a commissary to store our bread. the city is spread out before us. the washington monument looks fine. workman henry -- fort mchenry can be seen. the provost marshal is here, and has warned us to eat or drink nothing. a quick part about fort mchenry at that point, it was well armed and staffed. cannons were mounted and manned. they were not pointing out to the chesapeake bay. they were pointing towards baltimore. there was an armed camp making sure that if any insurrection broke out in baltimore, it would be put down. at that moment, fort mchenry was not there to defend the city, but was ready to attack the city in case of insurrection. july 2 1861. this is after bull run, when
both north and south realized this is not the issue of war. he was medically discharged due to wounds. another soldier. company h, ninth pennsylvania reserve, washington d c. dear father, i am sorry i have not had time to write. i have been busy since i left pittsburgh. we left at 8:00. we arrived at huntington at five or 6:00. when we got there, people were loaded out with baskets of bread, coffee, and milk. the regiment cheered with the good people of huntington. cars were ready to take us to baltimore. i got up at daylight. i looked out, and was admiring the country in maryland. we were about 25 miles from baltimore and we had to wait for trains from baltimore. there is a strong guard along the railroads. all along the railroads, from maryland to baltimore, the roads
were lined with burned down bridges, burned to slow the progress of federal troops heading south. we learned that we would have trouble in baltimore, so we work earnest with cartridges. we got to baltimore 1:00. we found thinks quieter than expected. nathan and i walked around the city. i found the city to be the most beautiful place i ever saw. we visited the washington monument. it is a splendid column of marble, surrounded by beautiful grounds. in our travels we are greeted sometimes by cheers, but mostly as we pass a crowd someone would come off for jefferson davis. or, ask us if we were going to bull run. bull run, a human fiasco, a union defeat. by asking if they were going to bull run it was basically, are
you going to get your but with again, yankee? so we went to the station. just before he left, union men came to the station and furnished us some bread. going from one station to another, we marched over the court that the massachusetts regiments did when they were attacked. we left about 10:00 and arrived in washington 6:00. july 27, 1861. after bull run. all bets were off. promoted to lieutenant, promoted to captain in 1863. interestingly enough, he was wounded in battle june 30, 1862. north and south. a country divided. clearly, it was not just -- not only a country divided, but families were divided. the civil war split a number of families. mary todd lincoln, abraham
lincoln's wife had several brothers who were confederate officers. jeb stuart, cavalry commander his father-in-law was the union officer. in a letter dated 1862 from tennessee, john boston 80 first ohio infantry, expresses his outrage at his wife's pro-southern father. i think it is a curious thing why your father does not write to you or me. i think their patriotism is not very strong, otherwise he would write. but he does not care one grain if you were dead or alive, and he would rather hear of my death and my coming home. he is afraid to hear cannons roar and rifles crash, for here -- fear that it would break his copperhead bones. he is mad at me for volunteering to serve my country. he would rather hang around the birds nest, then to leave and
fight to protect the family. but let the poor devil go for the time being. if i should be so lucky as to come home, i will give him a soldier's blessing, and that will be a rough was satan you may -- a rough blessing, you may be sure. there is a day when he will pay for all of this. john boston, enlisted 1862, ohio infantry. he was involved in a nut -- a number of battles. he died august 4, 1918. that means, clearly, john boston did get home. perhaps he gave his father-in-law a soldier's blessing. it would have been interesting to see how thanksgiving might have been dealt with their, with very lively discussions between the ex-soldier and the southern sympathizing father-in-law. clearly, one of the most
divisive aspects of the war, one of the most perfect aspects leading up to the war, the whole issue of slavery. several documents in the national archives recounted individual lives before and after emancipation. before the proclamation, their life was referred to as slave time. for slave owners, breaking up a family might just be a business deal, a commodity. you buy and sell wheat, corn tobacco, you buy and sell human lives. this private was a slave before the war. after his death in 1864, his widow noted in a deposition, my husband was previously married in time of slavery. his wife was taken from him. she was sold to a distant land. he never heard from her or his child. another document noted, he was married to colina moon, and her
and her child were sold 15th of august, 1858. a family torn apart. but it is just business, it is just buying and selling commodities. even a compassionate owner still had absolute control over the lives of slaves. calvin buford, private. u.s. colored infantry. calvin and mary buford were married at the house of the master. their last name was the same as their owner richard buford. in shell because he tennessee may, 1859. they were married by a slave on the plantation with the knowledge and consent of their master. alvin and mary buford were slaves of richard buford. they lived together until they were -- the fact is, they had to get his permission for that to
occur. slave names had nothing to do with natural ancestry, and everything to do with their life as a commodity to be bought and sold. antwan williams, private. before receiving freedom as a slave, he took the last name of his master, handed from one slave-owning family to another. said soldier obtained his freedom a short time previous to enlistment. the reason why he enlisted under the name of williams is, that was his master's name. when he got his freedom, he went by the name of his master instead of that of his own father. there is someone who is entering into union service, to fight the confederacy. after the emancipation proclamation, to free the slaves. and he still is taking the name of his master, his former master. even the events of not enough proof that -- former slave owners. ira member anton williams was a
slave belonging to me at the time of the emancipation. i'd amended his certificate of enlistment. emancipation has happened, that does not make any difference to slave owners. i want to see his enlistment papers. otherwise, i will insert my right at being his owner. he then realizes, here is someone in uniform, armed. i guess he is no longer my slave. that is what it took, to have slave owners recognize, i no longer on them. christopher columbus, company eight, fourth regiment, missouri infantry. a remarkable letter from him to his wife, march 14, 1864. my dear wife i think the services first rate. we were assigned to a regiment in uniform. we have been uniformed, and we will be armed and sent to did exceed to hunt rebels. since i put on lincoln blue,
you'd hardly know me. your affectionate husband, christopher columbus. even though in a number of instances, black troops were not on the front line, in other instances they most certainly were. for all of these individuals putting on the union blue as he puts on his lincoln blue, you can imagine the gratification they had. he puts it, they are going to hunt rebels. they are going to hunt former slave owners. you can imagine how important that was, for him to be in the military on the union side, as a soldier, no longer a slave. there are many who volunteered some were drafted, many were drafted during the war. others entered service for a number of reasons. patriotism, or it could be that life at home was dull and boring , and they wanted to do something exciting. bear in mind, in many wars, there is an initial exhilaration. going to war in the 19th
century, in the sense of courage and honor for the bloody truth of the war becomes apparent. for some, irish americans, there is another reason why they want to enlist. it is fascinating for both confederate irish-americans and union irish-americans. not only is it to fight the war but it does to gain military training so that after the war as irish-americans, north and south, the intent was to go back and fight for the cause of irish freedom. in 1866, after the civil war ended, there was a raid, an attempt to invade canada. that was the closest british government they could get access to. as a way of striking a blow against england. that raid had both can -- confederate and union soldiers in the raid. here we have an individual james rorty.
he served in several brigades. a great fighting unit. he is captured. he escapes. clearly, he has promised his parents he is not going back into military service. in the letter i came across in the archives, he decides to rejoin the military, and he feels duty-bound to explain to his parents why he broke his parents -- thomas to them and is going back into the military. november 15, 1861. one reason is, hating working in his father's business. god knows i have struggled with mind and body for three years, and the -- at the end i am -- it only succeeded in crippling my intellect. i must have more powerful incentive than the mere caustic gain. i joined the 69th you -- union infantry.
weak in body, after enduring extraordinarily fatigued and hardship iraq -- returned in less than six months invigorated. my nervousness gone, nothing like the hiss of rifle and musket balls. as for the danger of death, i trust in god's protection. i believe in my heart the drygoods business would be a more speedy road to death than the military life. i would rather be shot at than behind -- be behind a desk or counter. he also gives another reason. the other reason why he rejoins the military is to use his military training in the cause of irish freedom. the military knowledge and skill which i may acquire may be turned to the sacred cause of my native land. sometime before the present unhappy war broke out i joined the phoenix brigade, an organization of irishmen, much like in 20th century, the ira
to fight for irish freedom. i joined the free makes brigade -- the phoenix brigade. i cannot see now why i should not make myself competent to lead in the cause of ireland. are we not serving the foe of ireland's foe? does not every male ring the cheering indications that overgrown and commercial blue -- body of england will fail if it cannot get a supply of american cotton yucca? if i can obtain you and my mother's forgiveness and blessing, i would be happy. the consciousness of my disobedience is the only drawback to my happiness. i implore you to give me your consent, that i may feel a conviction to my duty in battle. your affectionate though undo to full sun -- undo to full's son.
he was wounded and captured at the battle of bull run july 21st, 1860 one. he escaped in the fall of the -- 1861. he in -- reenlisted two days after this letter was sent to his parents, into the fifth irish brigade. he was wounded in action at fredericksburg virginia, in 1862. he did not live to fight for the cause of ireland. as captain 14th new york independent battery light artillery, james was killed in action at gettysburg. now, we have first-hand accounts. i mentioned that battles are planned by generals, but it takes privates to fight them. here is a confederate's view of battle in spring 1863, several cavalry clashes between union
and confederate forces. none of them really ended in a clear victory for either side. for once, the union cavalry which was derided by the confederates that they could not stand muster against confederate cavalry men, in this instance, the series of battles and 1863, the union cavalry gave as good as it got. they did not defeat the confederates, but they stood their own. kelly's ford, 1863. our cavalry had a considerable fight with the yankees yesterday. our regiment was very badly used up. we had good many wounded and captured. our major was taken prisoner. he was commanding the resonant -- regiment at the time. i lost my horse in the first charge, shot through the head by a pistol. he fell on the field and died
without a struggle. this is robert isabel. the inky's were less than 50 yards from me when my horse fell. i did not have time to save my saddle or my close. one ball shot me broke the skin on my leg, and it rues did very much. i'm not disabled, all i want is a good horse and i will be after the yankees again. i cannot say whether any of my companies were lost and not -- or not, my horse fell early. i came up last night on the train cars. robert isabel was born in 1833. he was the first corporal, second virginia cavalry. he was captured and became ill behind enemy lines in 1862 but was released on parole back with his company in november 1862.
wounded in battle 1864. his last reference is dated november 30, 1864, when he is ordered to duty from the hospital. that is telling. that date, the war is winding down, the confederacy's desperate. the fact that someone who is recuperating at the hospital is called back to duty, tells you how short the confederacy was on manpower. now, they are calling up even soldiers who are recuperating in the hospital, if they could carry a gun, there needed on the front lines. although there is no further information on him, the fact that he is called out of his hospital bed to duty tells you by this point in the war, the confederacy is getting desperate. a yankees view of battle. around the same time, brandy station, 1863. william keith. dear mother and father sister
and brother. i am rested up after a hard fight. our regiment was in the advance. we crossed beverly ford at 4:00 in the morning. as we cross the river, we were ordered to draw sabres. company a and company b were the first across the river. we started our horses on a run and commenced yelling like the devil, driving in the red pickets. the regiment poured in, bled into our ranks. we returned favor and through our revolvers and poured into them. our company commander was killed, and our kernel, as we got the rebs to running. it was the hardest fighting our regiment ever had. we lost 11 men killed and wounded out of 32 in the company. we had 15 horses killed and wounded. we lost more men than any company in the regiment. i tell you, it was a death struggle some of the time.
we commenced at 4:00 in the morning. we work under fire until 3:00 in the afternoon, when we withdrew from the front and were taken from the field. we expect to cross again any day. we suffered for lack of water. the sun beat down, and we had nothing to eat and drink for 24 hours, neither for our horses or ourselves. shells bursting in our ranks hurt us more than the bullets. i do not want to see any harder fighting again then we saw then, but thank god i came out all right, me and my horse. i have the best horse in our ranks, he cannot -- a horse that cannot run and jump is no good for a cavalryman. william keith is a fascinating observer. here is an example, he talks about the horror of that oh, how the confederate -- all -- all artillery. he ends the letter with an
affectionate note about his horse. it becomes very much like a pet. i am fond of my horse, despite the fact that he has just lived through the most hellish experience. i came across requests people had given me, interesting stories. one of them someone asked me to research lincolns substitute. i said, what you mean, lincoln's substitute? as part of the lincoln order of drafting individuals, you had two choices. you could either, once drafted you could serve, or you could pay your way out. that is the argument that it was a rich man's war. if someone was rich, a banker or businessman, he did not have to shoulder a musket. he could pay someone to do it for him. lincoln did not want to simply send out an act of this order
without symbolically, at least saying he is no different from anyone else. so here we have john summerfield staples. november 3 1862, pennsylvania militia. discharged 1863 due to medical disability. he was drafted so he was one of the ones who is called in as a drafty. he then is -- finishes his duty, and is discharged due to medical disability. lincoln signed into law in 1863 a draft that would require military service unless a man hires a substitute to serve for him. to symbolically blue -- prove that he is no different, abraham lincoln hires john staples to take his place. october 1, 1864. john staples, lincoln's representative recruit was arrayed in the uniform of the u.s. army and accompanied by general larner of the third
ward. he was taken to the executive mansion and received by president lincoln. general frey introduced him by saying mr. president, this is the man who is to represent you in the army for the next year. mr. lincoln shook hands with with staples, remarked that he was a healthy looking young man and believed he would do his duty. he was present -- there was an official notice of the fact that he had put in a representative recruit. the presidential cans with staples and expressed the hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones, and the visiting party and retired. if you are going to fight in the civil war, you want to be abraham lincoln's substitute soldier. you can guarantee will be nowhere near getting killed or captured. once it became the substitute soldier for abraham lincoln greatest wound he probably faced was maybe a paper cut. john staples work for the
provost marshal until he was hospitalized and discharged in 1865. he died in 1888. if you have to take a position in the army, that is not a bad position to have. you also your stories, sometimes remarkable stories, and it is hard to believe. yet, you have sometimes officials that seem to indicate that such a story really happened. here is a depiction of someone who is using a horse as a shield as he takes aim and fires. that firing position has a lot to do with this next passage, a document in the files at the archives. two bullets colliding, james b scully, vermont infantry wounded 18 -- 1863. while in the act of firing, a confederate bullet entered his musket and met his bullet going out, splitting his musket to the shoulder.
as the stock rebounded by the shock, struck him in the head. the shock was so severe that he would have fallen had i not took hold of him. i stood by his side at the time, and i remember the incident well. if, literally -- he would have more luck getting the national powerball lottery than having -- you are firing, and as the bullet is leaving your barrel, it is met i and incoming confederate round. i'm not sure if he was just very lucky, or very unlucky to have that happen. it is an amazing story. i will change and involved -- involve your voting. i want to get your reaction. the first incident is, what you would do. this is an execution scene. company h, 14th kentucky infantry, accused of desertion and joining the confederate army. in 1862, he deserted his rude --
unit and joined the confederate forces. he remained with the enemy for six weeks or thereabouts, at the expiration of which the regiment was disbanded and he returned to his home and remain there until arrested by federal forces in 1863. he did desert his company and run to his home. he remained there until early april 1862, at which point he was threatened by -- with conscription by the confederate army. he served in a confederate unit. as indicated, he did not go on duty, he never drew pay. he was sick and left to go home and recover. intending to return to his unit but he was afraid to be punished if he returned. the court-martial found this man
guilty of desertion and aiding the enemy by joining the confederate army and the penalty for -- on april 4 1863 is that he be shot to death as a general commanding may direct. a question to you, should this man be executed based on desertion and treason? how many believe he should of been a queued? he not only deserted, he joined the confederate army. how many of you believe he should face the ultimate penalty? a few people. most of you, though, have sympathy for the man. you will be glad to know you are not alone. one man can make a big difference. first of all, this man's death sentence was suspended in 1863 but remained, he remained in prison under a death sentence. prison chaplain thought -- fought to save his life. he put out a passionate letter to president lincoln in 1863.
henry s step did not understand the consequence of what he did. he was sick months -- much of his time in federal service. he was allowed to stay at home to regain his health. upon rejoining his unit, he became ill and decided to go home until his health improved. while at home, his favorite was surrounded by confederate forces. during conscription, and receiving word he would be paroled and allowed to stay at home, he gave himself up. however, he was not allowed to return home, and was kept prisoner. according to the chaplain, he never enlisted in the kent at her at army and resisted solicitation to do so. once the rebel forces disbanded he returned home until his arrest. in 1865 f for the chaplain wrote to john sherman, asking for president johnson to review his case. we have two prisoners under sentence of death for desertion.
they remained in cells by themselves after the sentence was suspended. for seven or eight months, they were heavy irons, and what may have been their fault, they have suffered severely in mind and body. as the war has closed, i feel i can no longer resist asking you if possible, to bring their click -- cases to the notice of president johnson, and to ask for a pardon, that they may go at once to their houses. this man left his regiment on account of sickness and went home. rebels surrounded his home and he gave himself up as a prisoner. he would -- expected that he would be paroled but he never was. he said he never entered rebel service. i hope you will feel free to ask mercy to be shown for these men on these representations. you're truly obedient servant chaplain. the following order was given.
the sentence of death in the case of henry estep, is by direction of the president commuted to imprisonment and hard labor for one year. he has gone from having the umbrella of death over him to one year of an prison meant and hard labor, due to one chaplain that believed this man is innocent and he should not pay the ultimate penalty and he, alone, was responsible for estep being freed after one year. let me give you another what if scenario. what would you do, evacuate new madrid missouri, or not? 1862. a telegraph from colonel scott to colonel dyer. i think the post is in no danger. if you have any advice that indicates an attack on new madrid, and for me, as my
presence at this event is desirable. 1862, despite kernel scots believe that new madrid was not in immediate danger, and this, by the way, it depicts an evacuation scene, he receives orders. colonel scott, proceed to new madrid. spike the guns, destroy the ammunition totally. take the same boat and proceed to the fort under the cover of gun boats. report to colonel wilkes. december 28, 1862. colonel scott. general, in accordance with orders, i abandoned this post, having destroyed siege guns and ammunition. i go to the fort the command at this place. 32nd iowa infantry commanding.
he was given orders to evacuate, despite -- to destroy the guns of the confederates could not use them. should he have been abandoned and evacuated new madrid? how many think he should have evacuated and abandoned? a few. some of you may be skeptical. what happens is, january 6 1863 colonel scott is placed under arrest. the general directs me to say that as far as he can understand you have abandoned your post in the most shameful and cowardly manner, and to the detriment of the public service. the fact of your receiving orders from general babies does not hallie eight in the slightest degree your offense. you are not under his orders, and had no right to obey his command, no more rights than he had to give the commands. brigadier general will prefer
formal charges as soon as that is complete. in addition you have deserted the limits of the district with the role command, and you are hereby ordered to return to new madrid with your new command and consider your self under arrest. so, he obeyed the general's orders. but he obeyed the wrong general. he was being told that that general had no command over you, should have not done what he said. doubtful but he simply obeyed the wrong general. a number of communications go back and forth regarding charges against colonel scott. general, i have received communications for your head -- from your headquarters. in the case of charges against me, just -- justice for myself makes me say that every charges false.
ultimately, colonel scott resigned honorably in 1864. they allowed him to resign his commission. his guilt was basically following orders, essentially. he was told he followed the wrong orders. now, we will move into a bit of a lighter motif. there are some stories that come out of the archives that are funny. despite the fact that we are talking about the civil war. as far as penalties someone who is drunk on duty instead of being cashiered out of the military sometimes he is humiliated as punishment. here is someone walking around camp in a whiskey there'll. -- barrel. here is william hepburn in action. a sterling individual. he was court-martialed for being drunk on duty as follows. william hepburn ohio cavalry.
in 1863, during engagement with the enemy, the colonel was drunk to such a degree as to render him unfit to command. he was so drunk that he ordered lieutenant reed, commanding two howlett sirs, to fire the guns. the fire would have resulted in the destruction of a column of forces in front of the guns. and, to go -- companies of men in front of the guns. he ordered a subordinate to open fire on his own man. the order was not carried out. on or about november 3, 1863, lieutenant colonel william hepburn, once again, was so drunk he ordered a second lieutenant, the same subordinate, commanding to 12 pound howlitzers to shell a
flock of goats. that was obeyed. you can imagine the subordinate the colonel says fire, and the subordinate says, but sir. those are goats. and the colonel says, i gave you in order. fire. there may be a sense that, we did not did defeat confederates but we've put the fear of god into those goats. another colonel colonel lewis pierce pennsylvania. a checkered career multiple charges leveled against him in the course of his service. one of them is bribery in exchange for promotion. the good colonel says, want to be a lieutenant?
it will cost you. he is selling ranks. he has conduct unbecoming an officer. 1863. colonel pierce, when in a drunken condition, he rode a horse. he into a camp of the ohio volunteer infantry, and demanded two snare drums, one for himself, and one for the cap in with him, saying, there is a bet between us as to who is the better drummer. the major protested against drumming in the camp. colonel pierce replied, i will be responsible. let me have the drum. your men should learn to fall out after night at any hour. there is a record of who won the bet. colonel pierce caused a false alarm in the camp, by beating the drum. to win the bet, they are both beating the long roll. this is a
nighttime, pitchdark telling the soldiers, we are under attack. the soldiers who were sleeping, both long rolls meant, we are under attack. colonel pierce was removed from his position. a lot of times in military records, you see, to save face the person is able to leave the military for pressing family matters, or personal matters. when in fact, it would be, do this or you will be court-martialed. this person is so amazing. colonel pierce was eventually removed from his position due to, and this is an official vote, utter worthlessness and inefficiency. you can't get much better than that. one general noted, and incompetency. you can imagine, his grandkids asking, grandpa, what did you do in the war? the reality is, he did not do
all that much, very well. then, we have instances where there is fraternization. there is a lull in the fighting. these are americans, north and south, linked with a common language. there is a lot to have in common, despite the fact that they are enemies in battle in a war. during the fighting, a lot of times, the ruby impromptu truces exchanged. on the left, you have someone who is crafting a small boat and sending it across to the other side to get something in return. on the right, you see literally in the middle of no man's land, a river. they meet in the river to exchange goods. on the union side, they have coffee the confederates would prefer. the confederates had tobacco. which the union forces would want. you have an exchange back and forth. here is an instance where i think the confederates got the better hand. orange county virginia.
come to hand on the 29th of december. you found me well and hearty. today is a pleasant day for this time of year. we have taken up winter quarters, camp seven miles below orange county court -- courthouse. on christmas day, we were on one post together. about 15 minutes later, we exchange papers with the nt. we threw the papers across the river with our rock. the papers they yankees through fell short. we said, hey yank, throw overhand. then, we told him to do -- take off his overcoat and threw it across the river. the confederates take a rock, and use that to weigh the paper as they throw it across the
river. they tell the yankee, take off your overcoat and use that. at the end of the day, the yankee it's a rock and the confederates get an overcoat. they got the better end of the bargain. not all encounters in battle were pleasant. i have a letter from william keith, who you heard from earlier. you get the feeling that if someone is captured on the battlefield in the middle of the day, they are taken prisoner. but, if someone is infiltrating the campground maybe killing the pickets and killing the soldiers as they sleep in their tent, all bets are off as far as taking prisoners. we know that because in this letter, william keith says, if they found someone trying to infiltrate the campground at night, we leave them where they find them. they would not hurt no one, no more. if you're caught on to sneak into the campground, lord knows
what you are trying to do to us while we sleep. if you are caught, you are staying right where you are caught. a chilling message. the confederate i mentioned was a private, mustard in in 1862, captured in 1864, sent to a camp at fort delaware. probably the funniest story i came across, someone asked me to research pension records. clearly at the time, the pension officer, in talking to this woman, her husband died during the war. she put in for a survivor pension. the official says, what is with your name? there is something strange about this file. you need to clarify for us to process this further. there is sort of a victorian wedding. alice frost applied for a pension. she then explained, what is up with all these names?
while about 19 years and unmarried, she attended a mock marriage. she was chosen to act as bride and thomas dawson to act as groom. the groom so selected was a stranger to her at the time. in connection with this act of fun, they went through with the ceremony. so the party is winding down. before the breaking of the party, people think of -- for those who may remember seinfeld and think of cramer being the minister. here you got the party winding down. she was informed that the person officiating as the minister was in fact an ordained minister. and authorized to solemnize marriages. someone like the character of kramer wasaying you're
really married. she said to the groom thomas dawson, you know this is not intended to be american i want you to take steps to have it annulled. being very mushy million did buy the affair and acting impulsively, she assumed the fictitious name. ross. forst. -- frost. and continue to pass as alice frost. her maiden name having actually been abbie trowbridge. that was the funniest passage i came across. we think of victorian as very stayed in listening to soft music. here you have got this party and they are doing mock marriage, when the minister comes up and says, i'm the real deal. good luck. next slide, please. and as the war is in its
latter phases, the most radical and most chilling ini came across -- this is an actual letter in the file. as the archives is doing a wonderful job of digitizing all the records they can for posterity, for outreach so everyone can have access, i think that is great but i also encourage the archives to always have a way for individuals to have access to the actual paper. when i opened up this letter from david king and realized it is in his handwriting, you will understand i was humbled. king entered military service mustering in on september 2 1862. as a third regiment michigan calvary. he had reenlisted on january 27 1864. david king wrote a letter home
on september 1 861. -- 1861. dear parents and friends, i will try and write a few lines. i spoke about the rebel raid. our men are after the yet. it is three years tomorrow since i first enlisted. if i had not been such a fool as to enlist again, i might be at home. don't say anything about this last sentence i have written or say anything about it if you please. virgil -- his brother -- can do his best about enlisting. for he had better go as a substitute for some men or pay a large price. if my brother is going to go into the military, he ought to make it worth his while, go for a large pirce.-- price. he also says father, if you think he is of any use, keep him
out of the military, out of the danger. this is all for the present goodbye. your affectionate son d.m. kin g. bear in mind, i am holding the letter he wrote as part of the pension file. september 1, 1864. you look into the file records. military service from the archives note david king captured by guerrillas near brownsville station september 4, 1864. thereree days after he wrote this letter. the letter in the archives also has his postmarked envelope, which is postmarked september 5, 1864. which means by the time that letter is postmarked, he's dead. in the file, there's another letter written by his father to his brother many years later, in 1867. his father writes, in the middle
of the letter he reflects on king's letter and indicates there was one thing he did not want mentioned. clearly, what he did not want mentioned was his expression of regret that he reenlisted and otherwise he would of been on his way home. you're holding the actual -- this is why i say, the image you see on the computer -- as important as the outreach is as important as the saving of this information for posterity, i think it is vital to also have t he opportunity to hold in your hands the real thing. as i was looking at the letter he wrote in his handwriting and knowing what was going to happen toh im, it was chilling and humbling to see what he says when he's saying if i had not been such a fool to reenlist knowing what he was going to face and how prescient and h
much of a portend that passage ended upow being. next slide please. we then get to the war's end. william keith. 8th new york calvary had been in campaign throughout and was an steady combat in the fall of 1864 into 1865. in 1863 the union calvary's to their own because the confederate calvary. the end of the war, the union helped to blunt lee's last gam ble, when he evacuated petersburg he tried to join up with the confederate corps in north carolina and continue the war from there. he was stopped from doing so by union calvary that blocked his march southward at appomattox. when lee realized he was boxed in from the front and other union armies coming from his rear he has no choice but to
seek terms for surrender. so, william keith, 8th new york calvary, he is at appomattox. he's seen this happen. seeing a flag of truce. this is what he says. he enlisted in 1862. he joined the 8th new york cavalry. he saw action in a number of battles including gettysburg and the shenandoah valley. april 9 1865. here's a letter their william keating sending home. appomattox courthouse, virginia, april 15 1865. dear mother and father and sister, i have the pleasure of writing you want more -- once more after days of marching and fighting, and i thank god i'm fared. -- i am spared. i think we have fought our last battle. since i last worterote you from the first of april, our division under our brave general custer
charged them and gained the south side road with the assistance of the fifth corps. our regiment was in the advance of our division, was deployed with skirmishes and drove the red skirmishes bexar lee.-- back to lee. they sent up a flag of truce. such a shouse went up for my men it made the g-0-- such shouts went up forthe men made. i can't express my feelings. i think we have fought our last battle. i trust so. iyour son, william keating. william keith became a police captain in rochester, new york. last slide, the war has now ended i want to leave this
presentation with the passage i came across. a lot of times things are sort of routine, but there are things from the archives, dramatic, funny, poignant and in some instances everlasting wisdom for the ages. charles otto smith, born april 1, 1846. he entered military service every 23rd, 1864. his term or service was 3 years. he mustered out of service on september 28 1865. died january 11 1919. one of his roles after the war was one of an instructor department of pennsylvania g.a.r. soldiers memorial hall. in the archives files, and i've got copies to folks interested
is a small business card with his image. that is new. see the face of an individual, it puts the face together with the soldier. that is not all. on the backside of his business card, he talks about patriotic instructor g.a.r. this is what he says. it's a victorian and flowery but it has as much relevance today as it did then. remember, do not keep the alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead. fill their lives with sweetness. spe approving and ensuringak words while their years can hear them. while their hearts can be thrilled and made happier by them. the kind words you mean to say when they are gone, say before they go. the flowers you mean to send for their coffins, send to brighten and sweeten their homes before
they leave them. if my friends had alabaster boxes later way full of perfumes of sympathy and affection which they intend to break over my dead body, i would rather they would bring them out in my troubled hours and open them that i may be refreshed and cheered while i need them, i would rather have a plain coffin without a flower, a funeral without a eulogy that a life without sweetness of love and sympathy. let us learn to anoint our friends before had for their burial. post more than kindness does not cheer the troubled spirit. flowers on the coffin cast no fragrance backward over life's weary way. remember, we travel the road of life but once. let us try to make the world better for having lived. i think that is a wonderful point for me to reach closure. i thank you.
i will say two things. this passage to me was so remarkable that i actually have for those of you here today hayek got copies of it. -- i've got copies of it. i want to bring to your attention, those of you that are here today have copies and for those that will see this on c-span, i want to encourage you. the maryland historical society right now has a remarkable exhibit called maryland divided. it shows artifacts and personal stories of individuals both north and south, because marilyn did send it -- be because maryland sent its sons into the union and confederate army. and they have a remarkable exhibit. maryland historical society in baltimore. this particular exhibit will be running for some time. i highly encourage you to see it. as much as you heard today the personal story, the historical society has personal stories of both marylanders confederate and marylanders who were union
soldiers. i encourage you to go to this exhibit. and there is also a remarkable exhibit on the war of 1812, same location caret with that, i will turn it over to see if there any questions that people might have. yes? >> i have a question. first i would like to say thank you for sharing your talent to bring these letters, sharing the letters and helping us really understand the context of the times. really is a talent. so my question is, if i were going to the national archives it sounds like most of these letters were found in -- detenti on files? >> the reason why it services in the pension files, there are times where a soldier is writing a letter and he is saying, i'm sending you money home. if he dies, especially if he dies in battle, the family -- pensions were not given on
service alone. they were based on financial need. if a family tried to indicate they needed the pension because their son had sent money home and that's what really helped them, and if he is dead, then they are in desperate financial straits, to help prove that they need this money, they would send the soldier's that talks about sending money home to the pension office and the pension office turned these files over to the archives. so it does not happen often but there are instances where the actual letter will surface and most of the times it services because in the letter itself, in the midst of everything else, it is basically saying, i am sending you money home. one more quick example. another poignant message a soldier was sending money home. he was also saying, i'm looking forward to coming home. mom and apple pie, good food, warm bed. he's talking about looking forward to coming back to his
home. in the myths of the letter he is saying, we are going on the road. we are on the march. the archives point out he died in battle week later. once again i was holding that letter. that could very well have been the last letter he wrote. in the course of the letter he was saying, he sending money home. that is what triggers, it goes to the pensions office and they turn the files over to the archives. that is when some of these things surfaced. and they are really awe-inspiring. thank you for the question. any other questions? >> [indiscernible] >> they -0-- an excellent question. sometime it took years and not only the pension request -- not always the pension request was given. again, it was not based on military service which was an automatic way of sending out files to fill out and compensation forms. they had to request it and
basically saying that they, either the soldier themselves survived the war or seek survivor pension -- and again, they would have to document why. or if they died during the war the family would have to say we need this, the pension, and they would have to have a link to have the soldier sent money home and with his loss, their financial distress would warrant them to appeal and apply for a pension. but it was a tedious process and took a long time. some people never did get their pension. they would have to initiate it. yes? >> are there any other wars of the united states that would have files like these? >> um, there are indeed. relative to more recent times in the archives too this would be more associated with world war ii. i would encourage talking to staff at the college, the
archives too to find out what access there might be to records associated with world war ii and so forth. there are some statute of limitations in terms of numbers of years that one has to pass before records are accessible. the main branch of the archives goes from the spanish-american war to the american revolution. even if there is not a letter, there is a lot of interesting information that can surface. this could be revolutionary war, war of 1812, civil war. i've got a document that supposedly the individual was discharged by george washington personally. that was my understanding. i went into the archives, and i dove into the microfilm records, and there is a contemporary document that was written at the time indicating yes indeed, this person was personally discharged by george washington. that information i found by going into the pension records. a quick answer -- the main branch of the archives, revolutionary war, through the
spanish-american war. usually the letters mostly surfaced from the civil war, but there are other very useful, very interesting documents that were also surfacing from the early wars. american revolution, war of 1812 mexican war things of that sort. more recently, it would be through archives in college park. and for that you need to contact staff to find out, because veterans from world war ii are still alive. there may be some limitations on accessing public records sure they would be in a better position than i to let you know about accessing them. any other questions? yes? >> i'm interested in new statistics on the number of soldiers who died of disease during the civil war. i have seen many pension files in which the soldier died of disease he got during the war. or after the war. yet, i have never seen any statistics. do you know if they and he
compiled any -- if they ever compiled any on the soldiers who died after the war on disease? >> i am not really sure about that. i know in terms of survivor pensions, they would have to be -- there would have to be a way to link up the way the individual died as a result of what took place during the war. >> i actually asked that -- the widows. >> right. there are is is is and i have seen where a file has been rejected because a person may have died of pneumonia. if it is old age, if it is an affliction that they came down with late in life, but was not linked up, in some instances someone who may have been a union prisoner at one of the confederate pow camps and came down with a lifelong debilitation, was never the same, and then passed away after the war, even though it was after the war, the family would get a doctor and others to cooperate this person was never
the same as a result of being imprisons and came down with pneumonia and, never fully recuperated and died. they would always have to make a link back to service. as to those died after the war tracking other caseswho of disease that afflicted them, i am not really sure. because the link in the pension records for disease always was whether or not they can prove that it was a sickly war r-- that is was basically war related. >> i've never seen a statistic. i do not know if they compiled it. >> another good source would be the museum of civil war medicine in frederick because they have a lot of exhibits, they have done a lot of research. they may have gone into the database and they might be a much better source than i, because they are focusing on civil war medicine. they may have much more information on file. any other questions?
i leave today, hopefully, these stories have gotten, conveyed to you the importance of the archives and how they really remain a national repository for records. i encourage you to make use of the archives. and i encourage you to also visit the maryland historical society to see some of these objects firsthand. after we wrap up today, i have got copies of reflections that i just spoke of a moment ago for those who would like copies. and i thank all of you for coming today. [applause] >> you are watching american history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span 3. follow us on twitter at c-span history for information on our schedule, upcoming programs and to keep up with the latest
history news. >> monday night on "the communicators," fcc commissioner on net neutrality, reclassifying broadband as utility and other issues facing the federal communications commission. >> oi for one believe there is a consensus that has been in place for almost two decades that served as pretty well. the clayton fc -- the clinton fcc decided the internet would be an information service. it was the chairman of both political parties, chairman canard, chairman martin, chairman powell who recognize that regulation -- light regulation was the right way to incentivize broadman deployment. -- broadband deployment. as you know, the debate has taken a turn starting with the president's announcement in december. we now stand poised to consider what is called title ii or
common carrier regulation. that heavy-handed regulation developed decades ago would be a mistake for the american consumer. >> monday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on "the communicators" on c-span2. >> american history tv posteach we -0-- help tell the story of the 20th century. ♪ >> 250 miles north of saigon the airbase that was ripped by communist guerrillas. from carriers and land bases, 49 jets struck back the red guerrillas were able to slip past guards in the middle of the night raid and lobbed mortar shells into the area. while handcarried bombs were placed onto aircraft.