tv Union General Henry Halleck CSPAN June 10, 2017 7:15pm-8:31pm EDT
>> good morning, everyone. i am the csc a director, -- the associate director, and it is my pleasure to introduce to you john marszalek. john marszalek is the distinguished professor at mississippi state university, where he taught courses on the civil war, jacksonian america, and race relations. he earned his phd at notre dame and joined the faculty at mississippi state in 1973. during his time at mississippi state, he also served as the director and mentor of distinguished scholars and as the executive director and managing editor of the ulysses s. grant association.
grant papers are now housed at mississippi state university. he is the author and editor of more than a dozen books and 250 articles. that's impressive. including his important work, "sherman." a finalist for the lincoln prize. dr. marszalek received the richard wright literary award for lifetime achievement from a mississippi author and the historical society presented him the highest award for national distinction in history. he is currently at work on a book on the development of the mythology surrounding robert e. lee and william tecumseh sherman. he will be sharing with us some of his more recent work on henry halleck. dr. marszalek. [applause] john: i thought i was dead. she took my notes, what was i
going to do? thank you for being here so early on a saturday morning. this is great. i'm going to talk to you -- imagine scheduling a talk on henry halleck this early in the morning. we are going to give it a try. i appreciate everybody being here. it was quite a while ago that the halleck book came out. i had gone to a meeting, it was a meeting at one of these history conventions. we exchange the usual pleasantries with people and then you get down to the usual question, what are you working on now? then you wait for a response. i ran into a colleague. of course, what are you working on? i told him i had just started working on a biography of henry w. halleck. it happened to be bud robertson. he laughed and said john, you
will never finish it. you will die of boredom first. [laughter] john: as i worked on that project for a number of years, i have to say that the fear of death was not high on my priority list. i have to admit, i checkedm my pulse regularly. i really had more concrete concerns, and the concerns really were, i had finished a book on sherman and he wrote to everybody all the time during battle after battle. there is a huge amount of writing. he had written a memoir. he had written all kinds of articles. i had a ton of stuff use in that biography. the issue with hallock is completely different. he did not write a memoir. he never wrote any postwar articles talking about what he had done during the war. i was unaware of that time of any body of correspondence
except for what was in the or. i knew that he had written or edited a series of books, but this was before the war. they were technical publications. they were things like dealing with -- you can imagine him doing this -- the intricacies of property rights, international law, military theory. how am i going to get into the mind of this man? reat prewar accomplishments. he had served longer than anyone else during the civil war on either side. nobody had been commanding general that long. he is an important person. he was indeed the leading military thinker of that time.
he was an important military figure in the civil war. early in the war, he orchestrated the union successes in the missouri, kentucky, tennessee area. he organized and oversaw the opening union triumphs in the western theater river system. he had something to do with the battle of pea ridge. he helped save sherman from the group of -- grip of depression. he handled sherman property. -- properly. he is the same man who also lost u.s. grant to the union side because of his bureaucracy. when his troops took the important railroad center of corinth, mississippi in may of 1862, that achievement unlike what we think today, that was
considered so important, he did such a great thing, that his soldiers gave him the nickname, old brains. he captured that site and he hardly lost any soldiers in the process. it was then that abraham lincoln called him to washington to become the commanding general. in that role, henry w. halleck was involved in one way or another with every major decision that was made in the american civil war, every major battlefield decision. he advised. he cajoled, he encouraged, he rejoiced, or he picked up the pieces. when grant assumed overall command in 1864, halleck stayed on. he became part of the military theme. he was then that was then called
the chief of staff. it is not what we call it today, but he was the chief of staff. he was like a general to grant. he took the administrative burdens off grant's shoulders. he forged that military machine that finally overwhelmed the confederate forces. in short, i think it's fair to say that halleck played a major role both militarily and politically in the outcome of the civil war. he was a leading general, had an important influence on the nation's political leaders, no other military man was as central to the civil war as was henry w. "old brains" halleck. that's nice. who cares?
that is the usual attitude. that's the usual response that we get. over the years, most historians have not had a positive evaluation of this man. instead, i think it's fair to say that historians have vied with one another to come up with ingenious ways to denigrate henry halleck. we heard all about buchanan and the nasty things said about him. they can't compare to what was said about henry w. halleck. a british historian said "halleck was not only stupid, but jealous and ambitious. a witless pedant. without fear of contradiction, he was throughout war worth more than that proverbial confederate
army." that is pretty strong stuff. his theywilliams in book,ke, -- his famous generals," hehe said this about halleck. "halleck had the reputation of being the most popular man in -- unpopular man in washington. it was a title he worked hard to gain. he warmed to the task because of his eyes, which williams described as bulging, fishy, watery, and dull. a lot of gossips in washington thought he was an opium eater. i'm not sure we have ever said that about buchanan, but we said it about halleck. i have given you a couple here,
but there are tons of these similar sorts of things by historians. but they pale in comparison to what was said about him by his contemporaries. the negative view of halleck is absolutely overwhelming. you really have to look hard to find anybody in american history who has had such ingenious contempt expressed about him. which is ironic, because during the war, the two leading figures on the union side, ulysses s. grant and william tecumseh sherman, liked halleck. grant called him one of the greatest men of the age. sherman believed he was the directing genius behind union military successes. in all fairness, however, by the end of the war, neither grant
nor sherman liked halleck a great deal. they found out what some of the things he was doing. most other union generals were negative about halleck from the very beginning. fighting joe hooker, who had this great name, never was a friend of henry halleck, not in california nor during the civil war. as only hooker could, he ridiculed halleck's heavy administrative role and his unwillingness to take the field. you may have heard this quote. "halleck serving as commanding general was like being a man who got married, but never intended to sleep with his wife." i didn't make that up. that's what hooker said.
george b. mcclellan, you can't think of many people he really liked -- is that better? little goodho had to say about anybody, except for himself, i suppose, became positively lyrical in his disdain for halleck. "of all the men i have encountered in high position, halleck was the most hopelessly stupid. it was more difficult to get an idea through his head then can be conceived by anyone who never made the attempt. i do not think he ever had a correct military idea from beginning to end." well, those kinds of
condemnations, when added with the condemnations of historians are bad enough, but they still do not reach the level of invective displayed by his political contemporaries, the people he dealt with regularly in washington. bluff ben wade. remember him? presidentbecamepresiden one time. "put halleck in front of 100,000 men, and he would not scare geese from their nests." [laughter] john: another description described his effort in the war as a "strangling incubus." i had to look incubus up, that is an evil spirit.
that says something. but that is not the two most inventive comments. i still think these are may be better. you can decide, you can pick the ones you like the best. of how it -- halleck were another politician and this time a political general. navy secretary, gideon welles, and general benjamin butler. welles despised old brains with a passion. curious what he wrote in his desk here is what he wrote in his diary. halleck originates nothing, anticipates nothing, takes no responsibility, plans nothing, suggests nothing, is good for nothing. general ben butler agrees, and
his prose is similarly inventive, i think. you may know that halleck translated onto a four volume biography of napoleon, and butler used that against halleck . he said at a moment, when every true man is laboring to his utmost, when the days are ought to be 40 hours long, general halleck is translating french $.09 a page, and sir, .09 in were to put those $ a box and shake them up, you would form a clear idea of
general halleck's soul. wow. wouldn't you love to have that said about you? halleck did not translate during the war, but in the 1840's, when he was on a ship going around he braced himself, tied himself to a bedpost so he would translatingd he was at that time. so who was this henry halleck? he was born in 1815. he is the first of 13 children, of a farmer and a daughter of a local magistrate. they were all from upstate new ville, not too far from utica, new york. until he was 16, halleck lived a very unhappy childhood. the reason for it was because he could not get out from under his father, who wanted him to work on that farm.
that is all he wanted him to do. halleck wanted an education. had to do tock escape this agricultural drudgery, he went to live with his maternal grandfather who was able to give halleck the education he so wanted. at the age of 20, halleck went to west point, but while he was at west point, he is finishing his degree at union college in new york. he gets his degree while he is in the middle of his west point years, and he also gets one of phi beta kappa keys from the founding union college. during his third year at west point, halleck gave the fourth of address, the fourth of july july oration at west point. this was an honor that was left only for the best military and academic scholars.
he graduated in 1838, a mere third in his class, and the two people ahead of him did not do a thing during the civil war. he so impressed the faculty that even while he was still a cadet, henry halleck was teaching classes to other west point cadets. when he graduated from west point, they immediately named him an assistant professor of chemistry and engineering. in 1841, he published what was his first of many books, wonderful title. "bicumen: its varieties, and properties and use." book, and no doubt very scintillating. i have to admit i have never read it. but it deals with a topic that most military historians do not talk about it.
asphalt and the importance to military actions. when you think about it, that is a major issue. who can understand the book, though? that book and the fact that he was the one who fortified new york harbor and served as an assistant to the federal government's board of engineers, resulted in an offer from harvard university to become an assistant professor there. he wanted to stay in the army. he received an honorary master's degree from union college. he made a trip to europe in 1844 to inspect french quarters, one -- to inspect french fortifications, one of the few americans that went there. this in turn caused the lowell institute of boston, a group of amateur people who would invite famous people to give lectures .
they invited henry halleck -- not to give measly lecture, but one to give 12, 1 night after the next. filled the hall every night. these lectures were later gathered together and published in his major book "elements of military art and science." that came out in 1846. keep in mind that when that book came out -- all these things that happened before, he is 31 years old. 31 years old. he travels, stays in the army, the mexican war comes and he travels to california, and sherman is one of his bunk mates on this terrible ride they have, waves going up and down, etc.. he did not waste any time. everyone else was playing cards and novels, but he is translating four novels about napoleon from french to english.
he creates that four volume english version that you could still get, if you like. that appeared in 1864. they are going to monterey, california. he is not in the main part of the war, but he is in california, very important in the war. when he gets there, they are -- there is still fighting to be done. in localrticipated area fighting. he is a very good small unit commander. he also serves as secretary of state for the entire territory of california after he becomes part of the united states, and serves under several military governors. if that is not enough to keep him busy, he also is collecting spanish manuscripts, translating mexican law, relative to
california landholding and -- into publications. he helps form the major law firm in california, halleck, peachy, and billings. he supervised the construction of a four story building that was built out in the field of -- in the field of san francisco for harbor and came up with a brilliant idea of taking redwood, making a platform, something like 40 feet deep, and building this four-story building on top of it. when the great earthquake came in the 20th century, that building withstood the earthquake. why? because it moved. that building stayed ok until
about the 1920's, 1930's, when they had to inject cement to stabilize it, which was fine, but then, as only americans can do, in the 1950's it was leveled for a parking lot. it was leveled for a parking lot. if you want to know where it is today, take a look at san francisco, the trans-american tower. that is the spot where halleck's building existed. so he is an architect on top of everything else, and a major, major architect. but he is doing other things as well. that is not enough to keep him busy. he also is an influential member, the influential member , of the california constitution al convention.
he became also the director general, the guy who ran the operation, of a major quicksilver mine in california. you say, "big deal." that quicksilver mine, the gold rush and the gold that was discovered could not be separated from the rock that was -- that it was in. he was it an inspector of california's lighthouses. he is the member of the first board of directors of the society of california pioneers, and it is said, although it is disappeared -- how it is is beyond me, but he wrote a 700 page history of california, i guess in his spare time. he resigns from the army in 1854. a lot of people resigned. resigned isalleck
so he could give full attention to his law firm, and he is also president of the pacific and atlantic railroad, which ran from san francisco to san jose. i remember going to the bancroft library at the university of california and looking through the old card catalog, which was still then being used. what did they have? they had a map of this railroad. i said, this is great. i asked if i could have that, and they looked at me funny, can i have that? the next thing i know one of the , people is coming out with a piece of plywood with a map glued to it, showing that particular railroad. i said big deal, it is not a long-distance from san jose to san francisco, but that was meant to be of the transcontinental railroad. it never was, but that was the plan.
halleck was involved in that as -- in that, too. and for good measure, he published several more books on land law, wrote one on international law that was in textbooks and colleges and universities in the united states into the 20th century, and for good measure he was also major general of the california militia. that is not bad for one person to do in that short amount of time. well, there is a problem, is there not? i have given you a lot of successes and told you about how many people thought he was a total loser. it did not take me long, even as dumb as i am, it did not take me long to figure out that there was a difference between halleck in the pre-civil war years and halleck in the civil war years.
there was a matter of he was a success at one time, a failure at another time. it was january of -- i am guessing about 2000 or so in 1999, but they have a symposium every year in florida, many of you i know go there in sarasota. i gave some sort of talk on and confessed to the audience i did not know much about halleck. i didn't understand why he had such contrasting -- such a contrasting personality. successful, yet a failure it seems. i asked these people, and said spread the word. i writing letters to the editor ams all over the place, asking for any information on henry halleck, particularly this question of why is he a success
and then he is a failure? it didn't take long. finished.ut it happened that in that audience there were several medical doctors. at least four that i talked to, and others. several of them individually came up to me after the talk and asked had i thought about the possibility that halleck had graves' disease? is as' disease thyroid gland problem. maybe this is why there is such a difference between success and failure. i admit that i had never thought about that, the physical, medical stuff like that. i said, i will sure look into it. so what these physicians and these people at the conference
urged me to do, and i did, was to consider the impact of health on halleck's behavior. what i started doing, as i was doing my research, i started making a list, making a list of symptoms that he talked about at various times. i also talked to some medical doctors, and i got to thinking, you know, maybe there is something their psychological that i ought to be looking at. so i talked to some psychologists and people who worked with this kind of thing. it was a big thrill because one of these people was my own son, who has a phd in this and it practice and teaches and all, and it was great to listen to people talk about that. well, i learned pretty quickly that this man had a lot of
physical problems. my wife is not able to be here with me, she always comes to these things, and always starts to cringe if i talk about halleck, because she knows i am going to say this. one of the big problems he had was that he had hemorrhoids. don't talk about that, for heaven sakes. [laughter] they called them piles in those days, but you know what i'm getting at. anyway, in those days, the common, medical thing to do if you had hemorrhoids -- and if you went to a physician -- is that you would -- they would give you an opium suppository. i leave it up to your imaginations from this point on, but in any case, that is what they did with halleck. he went to a doctor.
he was so sick with hemorrhoids during the war, that he literally could not stand up. he had to lie down sideways on a couch for a week or so until he got over this stuff. opium suppositories. well, and i found other things too. not as glamorous as that, but i found other things, too. [laughter] so i consulted with these medical people and the psychologists and all, and several of them are mentioned in my book. if you really, really want to be bored, i have this that i wrote about my conversations with them and what halleck had and did not have and all the rest. in any case, what i came up with was that no, he did not have graves' disease. it looks like he suffered, at the whole range of his physical background, he suffered from something known as hemochromatosis.
hemochromatosis, as some of you know, is iron retention that can cause lassitude, a variety of other intervening symptoms. that was one other thing some of you know who jean baker is. she has written many, many wonderful books. she wrote a book on mary lincoln. at the lincoln forum, i was talking to her, and her husband happened to be there, and he was chief of surgery at johns hopkins. we got talking about halleck, and he said i do not know anything about this, but i know some people who know something, and you want to look at mercury poisoning, because he was in charge of this mercury thing. i did. he sent me all kinds of learned articles, some of which i actually understood, but the point was that i did not think it was mercury poisoning. hemochromatosis seemed to be the issue.
and then another issue really struck me right between the eyes, a psychological issue. he suffered from terrible psychological problems because of his very bad relationship with his father and with his family. with his father, when he left to live with the maternal grandfather, he never came back, never. he wrote letters to his mother, never mentioned his father, never came to his funeral. so there was a very, very big break. in any case, there were other issues. he was actually born a twin, but the girl, whose name was katherine, same name as his mother, died in childbirth. some of the psychologists say there is a psychological trauma that develops in cases like that where people blame themselves
for being -- why am i living, why did she died, -- die, and her name is the same as my mother. a lot of other issues are involved. so halleck did not become a failure suddenly in the civil war, but the seeds of these wartime problems were evident, even during the times of his success. it is much more complicated, as you can imagine, so what i will do is shamelessly tell you, by the book, and read all about it. i will be happy, happy to talk about it any time. be sure you buy one for your neighborhood physician and psychologist, that would be nice too.
so what can we say, finally? who was this "old brains" halleck? and that is my interpretation. he was many things. he was a success in this life, but he was also a failure. he was a very brilliant man, but he was also stupid. we are not making some of these things up. he had very few friends, yet he had many important acquaintances, both in his military and business lives. he inspired the deepest animosity in people, ok? use a nasty human being, no question about this. -- he was a nasty human being, no question about this. that he never tried to adjust his behavior to mollify his critics. one of the doctors i consulted, when we talked about the hemorrhoid problem, he said i do i would not say that hemorrhoids
not think i would not say that hemorrhoids would cause him to , be a failure in the civil war, but it could explain, and i quote him "could explain why he was such a mean son of a --." so it seems to me that he certainly played a role in the union victory, no question in my mind, but i think he is a lot like rodney dangerfield -- or -- remember him? he gets no respect. that is too bad, i think. we could learn a lot from this man, who is one of the major americans of the 19th century. thank you very much. [applause] as you know, i wear a hearing aid, so i would love to answer any questions you might have . if you do, yelled them at me --
yell them at me, i may or may not hear them. >> the floor mics are open for question. >> i have to ask this question -- who was hated more? braggs or halleck? dr. marszalek: i think, i think that braggs was probably more hated, and even more hated by historians. you know the story about a famous historian writing the first volume of his biography, and braxton braggs getting to hate him so much he never wrote the second volume, and getting his graduate student to do it. i did the biography of halleck, so what does that say about me? i don't know. thank you. >> at the very beginning of your
lecture, you mentioned that after halleck came to washington, he was involved in every major decision. can you think of any player -- i even open it up to north or south -- that could have done his job almost as well or as well, or maybe even better, than he did? dr. marszalek: good question? that?erybody hear is there anybody else who could have done that job? i am sure there was. sometimes people say you know, lincoln really blew it when he pointed halleck instead of grant to be general back there in 1962. i do not think so. i do not think grant would have done the job. i think he grew into that position. sherman could not have done
that. the thing about halleck was that he was somehow able, even though it's steamed people because he would not make decisions -- he would say look, you are the commander on a batter field -- battlefield, you make the decision. i am far away and cannot do this. but the result was that oftentimes the decisions -- even when people asked him, like burnside did, he would not answer. but could there have been anyone else? i do not know of anybody. keep in mind that one of the happiest days of his life was when lincoln named grant to be commanding general. now he is free. he does not have to make these decisions. what he can do is -- and he does it -- is he writes letters to various generals, saying general grant says you better shape up, or we will get rid of you. he was very happy to get to do that. but i really do not know of anybody, anybody else -- and
that is one of the problems. it is easy for us, like it was said in the earlier session, easy for us to be critical, but we are not wearing those same shoes. >> i read your book and enjoyed it, and i would like to check my understanding with you as far as his relationship with grant. it seems to me as though at first, he figured grant was not doing the paperwork correctly, and that is why grant was a lousy general in his eyes, and it seemed to me as though he thought that he had taught grant how to do the paperwork correctly, and that is why grant turned into a success. is that true? dr. marszalek: yes and no. your first part, i think, is correct. halleck cannot believe that grant can be so sloppy with his paperwork. and it is true. halleck not only tried to teach grant, but all the other generals.
it was a very famous letter that grant has his chief of staff send all of his generals, saying this is the way i want you to fold letters when you send them to me. [laughter] and you are right. he does not think grant is a good general because he is so sloppy. for example, halleck defends grant after shiloh, but he still calls grant on the carpet and said you really screwed up. not so much in the battle, i do not say anything about the surprise, but afterward you have been sloppy. look up the mess out here. you have done nothing to get things organized. and the interesting thing is that halleck, when he and mcclellan are talking about grant, brings up the fake news, the fake news of grant posy -- of grant being a drunk. and grant does not know this. he does not know this until his
aid is writing his history, and grant is helping him, and they come across the letters that make this point. that is it. that is it. anything else? >> can you comment on his relationship with abraham lincoln and what lincoln thought about him? is there any thing -- is there anything public on that? question. abraham lincoln, you have heard the famous statement or abraham lincoln, "he is a mere clerk. of course, i have to like him. if i do not, nobody will." [laughter] lincoln gets very frustrated by halleck for this reason. he brings halleck on board because lincoln is smart enough to know that he does not know a whole lot about military stuff. he knows a lot more than he thinks, and by the end of the war he is teaching his generals. but at this particular time, lincoln wants somebody learned
in the military skills to be at his side, to help them organize the union war effort. i want you to tell me what i should do, and halleck will not do that. he simply takes the position. he almost resigns. he offers to resign. if you make me tell you what i think ought to be done, i will resign. hands. threw up his i think lincoln understand, this is it. this is the best i got. maybe i can teach him to say some things. lincoln is not a great supporter, he is a supporter of halleck, but i would not say they are close, and halleck had a very dour personality, as we have talked about. so, i don't know. yes, sir?
>> i have an education in engineering, and i can see the engineer in halleck, all the way from what you said about his biography. also, the fact that he had that hemorrhoid problem tells you that he would not have been a good general in the field, being with a combat army and trying to direct in combat. dr. marszalek: that is true. you do not see halleck in the saddle very often, let's put it that way. [laughter] dr. marszalek: as you probably know, and harold holzer can tell you more about this, but there at the beginning of the war, there were stock images in the with everything but a person's head of horses doing all these wonderful things, so there is a picture of halleck in the saddle, but he is not a battlefield general.
his current campaign, for example, comes down to the fact that he is going to make sure there will be no surprise. he will make sure that everything he does is according to the book. and yet the interesting thing is by the end of the war, maybe it is sherman, maybe it is grant, maybe it is lincoln, have taught halleck that war has changed. you have to change. you have to take a different approach. so you have halleck saying things at the end of the war that he would never say at the beginning of the war. but no, there is not any relationship. yes, sir? >> good morning. i just have to complement on how much i appreciate your talk this morning. it is nice to see somebody peel back the onion, look at a person 's entire life, and so many of
us are quick to be critical of people without knowing all the facts, and as time goes back, trying to find all the facts that contributed to a person's life their successes, and , failures. --ust wanted to complement complement you, and i appreciate it. dr. marszalek: thank you. i have often thought about it, you have often heard of the great theory of history and all, and i blame myself as much as any when i was teaching, but we tend to look for perfection. maybe a better thing for us to do would be to maybe look at ourselves. we are good at something. all of us have some skills that we are good at. i don't know of any human being that is good at everything, that will be absolutely perfect at everything. sometimes, with people like halleck, that is what we expect. i didn't mention, he is probably one of the wealthiest guys in the united states.
he was worth over $500,000 when the civil war began money he had , made, and all of these other things. but we expect that. we expect somebody to be good at everything. and we do not expect our people, the people we study, to have flaws. and certainly halleck had flaws. lincoln had flaws, everybody has flaws. the question is what do we do with it? how do we overcome what flaws we have to make achievements, to do things that we have been asked to do at a particular time? thank you very much, i appreciate your attention. [applause] >> we have a 20 minute break now. our next session will begin at 11:00.
>> this is american history tv on c-span3. we are live from gettysburg, pennsylvania today for the annual civil war institute conference, hosted by pennsylvania college -- gettysburg college. we will be back with a pulitzer prize winner of "custer's trial: a life on the frontier of new america." he will offer a look into the legacy, including parts of his life not largely known. for the next 10 minutes of so, we will tour the fort ward union museum and historic site. it was built to protect washington, d.c. from confederate forces. >> welcome to fort ward, which is a premier civil war site in the city of alexandria, and a
major destination and orientation site for visitors who want to learn more about the civil war defenses of washington. we are the only site that has a museum or visitors center to help interpret, not just our site, but illustrate for the public these important points about the defenses of washington. ft. worth was named for commander james harmon ward, who was the first union navy commander to be killed during the civil war. he was a well-respected naval officer, an authority on naval ordinance, and helped found the naval academy at annapolis. in fact, if you go to the naval academy today, there is a hall called ward hall, named for him. we are standing in front of an orientation map display that visitors very often find interesting because it sets the scene for a history of fort ward and wartime alexandria, and the
history of this defense system. one thing i think this map really illustrates is how extensive this network of union force was. but it is more thought-provoking , i think, to imagine what the washington area was like in the spring of 1861, when the civil war began. if you saw this map now, none of these forts would have been there. washington was essentially defenseless at that time, vulnerable. president lincoln and his officials in washington anticipated the eventual secession of virginia and prepared for it. in the early morning hours, may 24, 1861, thousands of union troops were dispatched into the area of northern virginia, pretty much from where alexandria up through arlington to chamber at -- to chain bridge was located.
that was to begin getting a foothold in that area for the protection and defense of the capital. at first, very few forts were built. no one anticipated this would be a four year war. but things really changed during the summer of 1861, with the confederate victory at the battle of first manassas or bull run, as it is also known. this puts everything in a different perspective, seen as more of a need to defend the capital. in the late summer of 1861, even more forts were built, and fort ward was begun at that particular time, along with a number of other forts on the virginia side. one important point about the defenses of washington is that it really transformed the whole washington area into a military city, in essence. you had the seat of the federal government here, but with this huge ring of forts and all the camps that also accompanied those forts, washington really
becomes a logistical headquarters for the union war effort. it becomes a major camping and training ground for the union army during the civil war. thousands of union soldiers passed through washington and alexandria during the civil war, which was such an important resource to the union because of its transportation facility, .t's port you can see how many of these forts, including ft. worth, were built to surround the town of alexandria during that time. the earthwork remains of fort ward are most significant and -- the most significant artifact here. we have 90% to 95% of the original fort ward wall preserved. some are in better condition than others in different parts of the fort, but there is not -- there is enough significantly
preserved here to wary of someone were to walk the site and they had a walking tour map in front of them, they could design andout of the format of the fort. the north west bastion gives them a full picture of what other preserved sections of the fort would have looked like. we are standing at an orientation exhibit on the history of fort ward during the civil war to give visitors more of an idea of what the ford would have looked like and how it was documented in terms of restoring the fort. this model shows the design of the fort as of 1864 and 1865. this is the improved, expanded version of the fort, which made it the largest in the defense system. this is a type of design that would have been called a bastian, star shaped. each one of these triangular areas protecting -- projecting
outward containing various gun placements, and the whole concept of projecting and reentering angles would have protected from gunfire. we see several important documents that illustrate visually what the fort looked like and how it was designed in the national archives. there are important military engineer plans that document the design of the fort, and also the design of the fort's ceremonial entrance gate. the restored bastion of the fort, the northwest bastion that we are going to be seeing is , this bastion directly over here, which would have faced out toward louisburg turnpike, -- towards leesburg turnpike. present day route 7. the fort is located on an important, strategic high point of ground between two major access routes to alexandria and the washington area.
this is the ceremonial entrance gate to fort ward. it has been reconstructed from a period engineer plan from the fort, so it is an authentic pattern and situated on the original site, so it helps to give context actually to be preserved earthwork walls of the fort. this is the spot where soldiers would have entered the fort during the war years. we are standing now at the reconstructed northwest bastion of fort ward, and this is an excellent, authentic example of what the interior and exterior of one of these forts would have looked like. one of those important elements of any fort would have been an underground room called a powder magazine, and right now i am standing in front of the entrance door that would have led underground to a long, narrow room where powder, bags
, and barrels of gunpowder, what -- what have been stored. this was one of the most dangerous rooms in a fort. there were lots of rules and regulations about who could go in to one of these rooms, what they could carry with them, no arms, no weaponry, nothing that is metal, ok? that might scrape against something and get a spark. obviously no smoking, no candles, anything of that nature. there was, actually, in the summer of 1863, a powder magazine explosion at a fort that was located near alexandria, called fort lyon, and it was a result of a careless accident that had occurred in one of these forts, so it underscores the rules and regulations put in place for soldiers stationed at a fort like fort ward. gunpowder from the magazine would then be taken over to
another underground room, again, typical of forts in the defense system and elsewhere called a filling room. here we can see another door that led down into an underground room where ammunition would have been filled with gunpowder, and loaded ammunition stored in a room like this. this is where artillery men would have come to gotten their live charges to take out to the canons for either artillery practice or during battle situations. moving a little forward into the interior of the bastion, again, this gives our visitors a great picture of what the interior of a civil war fort would have looked like. you would've had gun platforms with the various canons and guns
located on them. in the northwest bastion we are , looking at replicas of the types of guns that would have been stored here during the civil war, so you can see these three large cast-iron 4.5 inch guns, also a couple of examples of 24 pounders, howitzers, and a six pounder here to the right of me. between the gun platforms, you will see ledges, and these ledges are called van caps. this is where infantry or armed artillery who were also trained in infantry tactics, would have stood during battle situations to fire over the fort wall. on an average day patrolling, doing guard duty. we are standing on eight
breast-height ledge overlooking the reconstructed northwest bastian of fort ward, and you can get a bit of a sense of how high up we are. all of these forts were built on high point of land, -- points of land, for better visibility and maximum firing range. if the forts were attacked or marched upon. here, this bastion faced out toward leesburg turnpike, present day route seven, and even though we cannot see route seven from here, it is only about one mile away. we have trees and high-rise buildings today but during the , civil war, the land around forts like fort ward was completely cleared of trees for maximum visibility and field of fire. so from here you could have actually seen all the way down to bailey's crossroads during the civil war. so several miles down the leesburg turnpike. a major access route to alexandria, and one that
stretched all the way to the shenandoah valley. we are actually standing in the area where the military support buildings were located during the civil war, right back behind the fort, near the entrance gate to the fort. we are standing specifically in front of a reconstruction of a small officer's quarters, or officer's hut, typical of the type of shelter that would have been built for officers stationed in the defenses of washington. we have this little quarters furnished inside to give some idea of what an officer's daily life might have been like. when you look at some of the contents, you will see that they have been functionalized to look like some of his daily activities and some of his work activities as well. today, i think it is also important to note that out of all these forts, this extensive defense system, very few of them
still exist. many of them were destroyed due to development that hadn't croce -- that had encroached on the washington area during the 20th century, so it is fortunate that we have fort ward. >> this submarine is the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel in combat. that is the significance of this submarine. it was not the first submarine, or the most advanced submarine, but it was the first one to do something. it was proof submarine technology could work. it was built in mobile, alabama, brought to charleston in 1863, and after a number of months of training and preparation, they went out and made an attack february 17, 1864. they went out at night, and the
target was one of the warships blockading charleston. charleston was under siege at the time and being strangled by land and by sea. this was one of the ships, they picked one of the ships blockading the harbor. they made their attack, solidifying the place in history, and it never returned back to the dock. so it became a mystery. for 136 years, nobody knew where it was. a great mystery and houston, south carolina, and in the civil war. in 1995, it was discovered, and then begin the process and then begin the process in preparation leading to the recovery in the year 2000, which involve preparing the building and getting the conservation facility outfitted, and getting the experts in here and the people who could do a good job not only of the recovery, but the follow-up archaeological investigation and restoration treatment.
was four feet tall with 2 hatches that allowed access for the crew. there was a crew of eight on board this submarine, and the captain we knew beforehand, was george e dixon. he was in charge of navigating the submarine, steering the sub, directing it towards its target. the other members of the crew were primarily tasked with powering the submarine. it had a hand crank. turn at his would station the crank. that would turn the propellers. that is how they powered the submarine. it was a very simple device, designed to be practical and accomplish its task. which was attack. this method of attack, it had a spar located on the lower portions of the bow, and on the end of that was an explosive device. it was called a torpedo, but it was basically a bomb.
they were trying to sneak up and impact and with an explosive device. return to away and shore. ideally, they could go out the next night and get another ship. the fascination was that it disappeared. it was a mystery for so many years. it was discovered 1000 feet from the ship which was still , offshore, and starting with the recovery operation, its location, taking that location, what we knew about it, taking it to our lab and our staff begin a detailed investigation of the submarine with the goal of finding out what happened that fateful night in 1864. we recovered the submarine in the year 2000, 2001 was the interior excavation. we removed over 1000 three gallon buckets of mud, lots of
material. the submarine was full of mud, which was excellent for us and archaeologists. it signaled that we would have some great preservation, and we did. so looking at these artifacts, including human remains, and the associated artifacts and trying to put those into context of how this happened, how the crew died, for example, and looking at other clues we find from the investigation of the artifacts, and combine that with the information that we got from studying the hull will hopefully point us to a conclusion as to what happened that night. the crew was a fascinating part of the story. look at the submarine, 3.5 feet wide, four feet tall, it was a narrow tube, and going out there, four hours out there, four hours back, and knowing that if anything goes wrong it is certain death.
the first two crews died in training in charleston. you can imagine, the third crew knew everyone else who worked on this submersible, the submarine, had died. yet, they were still willing to join the third crew and take the submarine out and try and do something. the third crew were from all different parts of the south and possibly the north, depending, 4 were possibly born in europe. there was not a common thread to tie these guys together except for volunteering. the plan was to bury the crew of the huntley in 2004, to lay them to rest. as part of the work leading up to that, we wanted to give a -- to get a face associated with the names we had come up with. the identities of the crew we knew, we knew information about
the artifacts associated with them, but we wanted to see what they look like. all eight of the crewman had casts of their skulls used to make facial reconstructions, and that is what we see here. in 2004, presented to the public before they were buried, that was in april, 2004. if you are going to recover anything, especially a marine artifact, you have to have a proper place to take care of it, you have to have a lab. you cannot pull an artifact out of the ocean and put it on the dock. it will start to fall apart. what happens to artifacts that have been in a marine environment for extended periods of time, they absorb chlorides in the seawater. these are fine if the object remains wet. if you let it dry out, the salt will crystallize and destroy the
object from the inside out. one of the primary tasks in dealing with marine artifacts is removing these chlorides. which is why 10 years on, the submarine is still in a tank of water. this leads into what is going on behind me. beginning last week, we began a rotation of the submarine. it was found 45 degrees to starboard. it was recovered in the same position. archaeologically we did not want , to do disturb the submarine. it is an artifact, but also a site, and we wanted to lift the entire site off the seafloor and bring it into our lap to study, which is what we have done for the last 10 years. for the last 10 years it has been sitting in slings that cradled it from underneath, hanging from a supporting truck. it was an excellent way to hold the submarine and support it over these years, but as we move to the next phase of conservation, we need to remove
the nylon bags and slings supporting the summary in and .- supporting the summary we have to minimize other materials in the tank with the submarine because of their reaction to those chemicals. we had to remove the slayings and come up with another way to support the submarine. that is getting it up right and sitting it down on its keel. this will be the first time the submarine was upright since it sank. i have done all my work on this submarine with it in a certain position, 45 degrees to starboard. we have preserved it in the same orientation as it was found. for the first time, we are turning it up right. not only was it amazing to see that submarine sitting again as .t was designed to set, upright
it turned from being an artifact keeled over on its side. when we turned it up right it looked again like a weapon of war, like a submarine. the lower starboard side underneath the sub was largely obscured. we could not get a good look at it. a whole quarter of the submarine hull was completely blocked. there were things we had not seen before. there were things we had not seen before. after the rotation, i spent 20 minutes walking around the submarine. it was like a new submarine. i was seeing things i had never seen before. it gets your excitement going again, even more so, and we are now chomping at the bit. once the rotation is complete, they are still fine-tuning it, we will get in there and begin looking at the parts of the submarine we have not seen yet. our ultimate goal is to make a
personal connection with the submarine and the crew, and what it did back in 1864. >> this sunday, q&a is in hyde park, new york at the franklin d roosevelt presidential library and museum, where we go inside a rare look at fdr's personal office and collection of artifacts. the museum's director -- >> this library opened in june, 1941. he was still president of the united states, so this became the northern oval office. fdr had an incredibly inquisitive mind. there are 914 books in this room alone. every book was selected by fdr to be in this room. it is almost identical to the way it was when fdr died. nothing has changed.
>> watch queue and day from the franklin d roosevelt presidential library and museum in hyde park, new york sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. this is american history tv on c-span3. we are returning to our live coverage from gettysburg, pennsylvania today with the civil war institute's annual conference, hosted by gettysburg college. the next speaker will be tj stiles, pulitzer prize winning author of "custer's trial: a life on the frontier of new america." while we stand by for the conference to get back under way, if you would like to share with us the thoughts on our connect with us on twitter or facebook.g, this is american history tv, only on c-span3.