Thursday, June 28, 2012

Union Code Books Surface- Part 2

The Eckert collection's existence was not known by historians until 2009 when an owner, who had bought it ftom Eckert's descendants, put 76 books up for auction in New York City and it sold for $36,000.  The new owners declined to reveal how much they spent.

Archives elsewhere contain militasry y\telegrams, but they are individual paper slips or pages copied from telegram and are haphazardly archived with many missing.  The Eckert collection offers a systematic, centralized record in chronological order.

Lincoln spent many hours in the telegraph office of the War department which was located near the White House.

The Exkert collection shows that Lincoln had an assortment of aliases: Ida, India, Irving, Ingress, Ingrate and Ingot.  Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was Indigo or Infant.  If a message said "shaker" or "sable," it meant that an attack was to take place.  The code for infantry was "rapture" and "ramble."

Evidence of insider trading was even found according to how a battle ended and the price of cotton and gold.

Seaky, Very, Very Sneaky.  The Old "Ingrate."  --Old Secesh

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Union Code Books Surface-- Part 1

From The January 26th Chicago Tribune "Union code books surface, but too late for Johnny Reb" by Mike Boehm.

"A long-unknown, 150-year-oldtrove of handwritten ledgers and calfskin-covered code books, which giive a potentially revelatory glimpse into both the dawn of electronic battlefield communications and the day-to-day exchanges between Abraham Lincoln and his generals as they fought the Civil War, now belongs to a California research institution."

The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Btanical Gardens acquired these in a private sale January 23rd and includes 40 cardboard-covered albums of messages written by telegraph operators and walletlike booklets containing key codewords that Union commanders used to keep snoopy Confederates from finding out what they were saying.

The ledgers had been kept by Thomas Eckert who ran the US military telegraph office at the War department from 1863 to 1862.  There are also messages from 1862 when he served as telegraph chief for General McClellan.

More than 100 of the telegrams transcribed were sent by Lincoln, many showing his frustration with McClellan.

More to Come.  --Old Secesh

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Traveling the Civil War-- Part 2

THE BATTLE OVER CATTLE, Ft. Myers, Florida.  Florida was a Confederate state, but Union troops used the fort here as a base for stealing local cattle being raised to feed the Confederate Army elsewhere.  Over 4,000 head taken.  In February 1865, Confederates attacked the fort but were repulsed.  Light casualties on both sides.  Probably the southernmosty fight in the war.

FIRST SUBMARINE ATTACK, Charleston, SC.  Charleston, as the seat of the secession movement came under major Union attack starting in 1863.  It was hoped submarine Hunley would be able to turn the tide.  On Feb. 17, 1864, it attacked the USS Housatonic and sank it.  The Hunley never returned, but was recovered in 2001.  You can see it undergoing preservation.

Old Secesh

Traveling the Civil War-- Part 1

From the AARP Magazine  "Civil War: Going to Extremes" by Bill Newcott.


At St. Albans, Vermont, where 21 Confederate soldiers posing as tourists drifted down from Canada and robbed three banks Oct 19, 1864 and took off back to Canada with $208,000.  A historical 1861 schoolhouse where the raiders gathered before the attack is now the St. Albans Historical Museum.


Picacho Pass, Arizona.  On April 15, 1865, a three-and-a-half hour battle between Confederate Rangers and Union cavalry from California resulted inthree Union dead.


1. Manassas National Battlefield Park, Vitginia.  better-known as Bull Run, the first really big battle of the war July 21, 1861.

2.  Appomattox Court House National Historic Park, Virginia.  Lee's surrender April 9, 1865, essentially ending the war.

3.  Harper's Ferry National Historic Park, West Virginia.  John Brown's Raid before the war began but a big reason why it came to be.

4.  Andersonville National Historic Site, Georgia.  Confederate prison where 12,000 Union troops died.

5.  Ford's Theater National Historic Site, Washington, DC.  Where Lincoln was killed.

More to Come.  --Old Secesh

Monday, June 25, 2012

Daughter of Union Veteran Dies at Age 94

From the June 14th San Diego Union-Times by John Wilkes.

It is amazing that there are still folks alive just one generation removed from the war, but it is true.  Stella Mae Case, 94, died June 10th.  Her father was John Harwood Pierce who was 70 when she was born and died seven years later.

She only has a few memories of him but remembers seeing him in his Civil War uniform at Memorial Day parades and staying with him at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles where he was the resident Santa Claus.

Mr. Pierce was born in Canada on Leap Day 1848 and was turned down twice from entering the Union Army because of his young age.  He finally joined the 11th Illinois Cavalry despite being 14 and under five-foot tall.  Because of his youthful appearance, he once dressed as a woman while spying.

After the war he had a series of jobs: teacher, newspaper reporter, mechanical bell inventor, lecturer and minister.  He married five times and had five children with some of them born out of wedlock.  Stella was the last one and born in Oakland in 1918.  Her mother, Jennie, had a nervous breakdown after she learned Pierce was still married to someone else.

One of the Vanishing Links to This Old War.  --Old Secesh

Friday, June 22, 2012

More Horses and Mules Died: One and a Half Million

From the Civil War Examiner "More horses and mules died in the Civil War than men" by Bob O'Connor.

Most people do not think of the fate of the equine branch of the military forces during the war, but they too suffered and died right alongside the men they served.  hey!  Super big targets, and, stop the horses and mules, stop the cavalry and artillery.

There is a war horse statue in Richmond Virginia at the Virginia Historical Society at 428 North Boulevard.  It is dedicated to the million and half horses and mules who died in the Confederate and Union armies and was designed by England's Tessa Pullam and dedicated in 1997.

Like the men, more died of disease and exhaustion than were actually killed in battle.  Many died of glanders, a highly infectuous disease of the nasal passages, respiration and skin.  In battle, it often took more than one bullet to bring one down.  Many were found with as many as five bullets.

At the Battle of Gettysburg alone, more than an estimated 3,000 died.  Horses had a problem keeping up with the established 4 mph cavalry rate of movement.

Something You Don't Think About.  --Old Secesh

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wade Gains Control of War Committee

From the Dec. 14, 2011, Biloxi/Gulfport (Miss) Sun Herald   "Benjamin Wade Gains Control of War Committee."

Known as one of the most radical of the Radical Republicans, Benjamin Wade of Ohio was given the chairmanship of the newly formed Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.  This group came about because of embarrassing defeats at Fort Sumter, Manassas, Wilson's Creek and Ball's Bluff.

Wade, along with Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania and Charles Sumner of Massachusetts were the leaders of the Radical Republicans and all were vehemently opposed to slavery and southern power.  They thought Lincoln was too moderate and lenient. 

The defeat at Ball's Bluff brought it back as a sitting senator, Col. Edward Baker was killed.

The Radical Republicans had a great disdain for West Point-trained generals and favored those appointed for political reasons.  From 1861 to 1866, the group held 272 meetings.

No Wonder General Butler Did Not Fear It,  --Old Secesh

The Joint Committee of the Conduct of the War Approved by Congress

Fr5om the December 10, 2011, Civil War Gazette.

I have mostly heard of this group because of the hearing on Benjamin Butler's attack on Fort Fisher, but didn't know much about its origins.  I did know it was set up to look into Union debacles.

The Union disaster at the Battle of Ball's Bluff was the incentive for the group.  It was not a big battle, but very important from a political view.  What was wanted to know was who was at fault: Col. Edward D. Baker or General Charles Stone or was it that the regular Army soldiers were guilty for not aiding the volunteers.

The press, military, people and politicians wanted somebody's head.  Since early December, the 37th Congress had been discussing how to find that scapegoat (or guilty party).  It was decided a joint committee of both Senate and House members would be set up.  It was approved by the Senate and then, on December 10th, by the House.

It consisted of three senators and four representatives who had  the "power to send for persons and papers and to sit during recess of either house of Congress.

Go Get 'Em, Boys!!  --Old Secesh