Marching Along

Something for the weekend.  Marching Along by William B. Bradbury.  Bradbury was a human song writing machine of the 19th century.  Of all the songs he wrote, doubtless the best known is the tune for Yes, Jesus Loves Me which I frequently sang as a child.  He wrote that tune the same year, 1862, that he wrote Marching AlongMarching Along, appropriately enough, was a favorite marching song of the Army of the Potomac, and they sang it endlessly during their marathon marches of the Civil War.

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Published in: on May 31, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Marching Along  
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May 30, 1864: Battle of Totopotomoy Creek

Overland_Campaign_May_29-30

 Lee realized that he was reaching a limit to how he could respond to Grant’s continual movement to the southeast.  Protecting Richmond was nailing his army in place, depriving it of the ability to maneuver as Grant used his superior numbers to outflank Lee’s defense.   Lee’s left and center along the Totopotomoy were relatively easy to defend, but his right was at a right angle tot he creek as the Union forces were continuing their push south to outflank him.  It was for this reason that Lee ordered Early, now in command of the II corps after Lee had relieved Ewell, attack Warren’s V corps.

The Confederate attack, although pressed heroically by the men of Ramseur’s division, proved a costly failure with 1500 Confederate casualties to 700 Union, the Union troops cheering the valor of the Confederate troops they repulsed and captured.  (more…)

In Memory of Baby

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(My dog Baby passed away during the evening of May 22-23 last week.  I originally posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the dog lovers of Almost Chosen People might wish to read it.)

His Apologies

MASTER, this is Thy Servant. He is rising eight weeks old. He is mainly Head and Tummy. His legs are uncontrolled. But Thou hast forgiven his ugliness, and settled him on Thy knee . . . Art Thou content with Thy Servant? He is very comfy with Thee.

Master, behold a Sinner? He hath done grievous wrong. He hath defiled Thy Premises through being kept in too long. Wherefore his nose has been rubbed in the dirt, and his self-respect has been bruiséd. Master, pardon Thy Sinner, and see he is properly looséd.

Master — again Thy Sinner! This that was once Thy Shoe, He hath found and taken and carried aside, as fitting matter to chew. Now there is neither blacking nor tongue, and the Housemaid has us in tow. Master, remember Thy Servant is young, and tell her to let him go!

Master, extol Thy Servant! He hath met a most Worthy Foe! There has been fighting all over the Shop — and into the Shop also! Till cruel umbrellas parted the strife (or I might have been choking him yet). But Thy Servant has had the Time of his Life — and now shall we call on the vet?

Master, behold Thy Servant! Strange children came to play, And because they fought to caress him, Thy Servant wentedst away. But now that the Little Beasts have gone, he has returned to see (Brushed — with his Sunday collar on —) what they left over from tea. . .  . . .

Master, pity Thy Servant! He is deaf and three parts blind, He cannot catch Thy Commandments. He cannot read Thy Mind. Oh, leave him not in his loneliness; nor make him that kitten’s scorn. He has had none other God than Thee since the year that he was born!

Lord, look down on Thy Servant! Bad things have come to pass, There is no heat in the midday sun nor health in the wayside grass. His bones are full of an old disease — his torments run and increase. Lord, make haste with Thy Lightnings and grant him a quick release!

Rudyard Kipling

My dog Baby, a terrier poodle mix, passed away over night, after a mercifully brief illness.  She had been in decent health until recently.  We brought her home from an animal shelter 13 years ago.  She was so eager to make a good impression on us that she didn’t bark for three days!  She was the companion of our children when they were young and the solace of my bride and I as our fledglings left the nest.  For years I would take her for a pre-dawn stroll which she loved and was the high point of her day.  I was also always the easiest touch for treats and hand outs, and she would always beg from me whenever I ate, although otherwise she was a mommy dog.  I would feed her chocolate occasionally although I was warned that the black sweetness was bad for dogs.  I replied that at least she would die with a smile on her snout!  She was a grand dog and led a grand life, bringing us love and companionship every day that she was with us, from her first to her last.  We will miss her, which is not a bad epitaph for man or beast.

Published in: on May 30, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on In Memory of Baby  
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Martin Treptow’s Pledge

Martin August Treptow was a barber from Cherokee, Iowa.  Enlisting in the National Guard, during World War I his unit was called up and Treptow found himself in the 168th Infantry, part of the 42nd Division, called the Rainbow Division by Major Douglas MacArthur, who would rise during the War to eventually command the division, because it consisted of National Guard units that stretched across the country like a rainbow.

July 30th, 1918 was a hard day for the division.  Participating in the Second Battle of the Marne which stopped the last major German offensive of the War and saved Paris from capture, the division was attempting to take Hill 212 on La Croix Rouge Farm and incurring heavy casualties.  A message from Treptow’s unit needed to be taken to another platoon.  Private Treptow did not hesitate, but grabbed the message and ran off with it.  As he neared the platoon leader to deliver the message, Treptow was cut down by a burst of German fire.  He was twenty-five years old.  Sergeant  Joyce Kilmer was killed on the same day, in the same battle, a little bit later.  Go here to read about him. (more…)

May 26-28, 1864: Movement From the North Anna

Overland_Campaign_May_27-29

Grant, after the fruitless skirmishing on the North Anna, decided to resume his drive by once again heading east and south, around Lee’s left, the same type of movement he had been making since the outset of this campaign.  However, he had a tricky problem to resolve:  How to cross to the north bank of the North Anna without Lee becoming wise to his intentions, and launching an assault on the Union army as it straddled the North Anna?  To divert Lee’s attention, Grant sent two divisions of cavalry west to convince Lee that Grant was going to move west instead of east.  The ruse worked, and Grant quietly moved his infantry corps successfully across the North Anna on the evening of the 26th-27th.

Lee on the 27th instantly realized what Grant was doing, and sent his army hurtling south to take up a strong defensive position at Atlee’s Station, only nine miles north of Richmond, where he could guard the railroads that supplied Richmond and his army.

Grant sent his cavalry ahead to blaze a path across the Pamunkey River for his infantry marching southeast.  On May 27th Union cavalry established a bridgehead over the Pamunkey at Dabney Ford with a Union engineer regiment building a pontoon bridge.  General Custer’s cavalry beat off a Confederate counterattack and Union infantry and Cavalry passed over the Pamunkey on the pontoon bridge.

On the 28th Union and Confederate cavalry fighting dismounted, clashed at Haw’s Shop while the remainder of Grant’s army crossed the Pamunkey, except for Burnside’s corps that was guarding the army’s wagon train.

Lee now knew that Grant was across the Pamunkey but was unsure what Grant’s next move would be, and for now held his position behind  Totopotomoy Creek at Atlee’s Station.  Here is Grant’s account of this movement in his Personal Memoirs: (more…)

Published in: on May 28, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on May 26-28, 1864: Movement From the North Anna  
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May 27, 1864: Battle of Pickett’s Mill

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After the battle of Resaca, go here to read about it, Johnston retreated to the Allatoona Pass, fighting the battle of Adairsville on May 17 during his retreat.  Sherman viewed Johnston’s  Allatoona Pass position as too strong to assault.  He moved his armies to the West,hoping to Johnston’s left.  Johnston anticipated this move.   At New Hope Church on May 25, Johnston bloodily repulsed Hooker’s corps, inflicting 1665 casualties for 350 of his own.

Attacking Johnston’s right at Pickett’s Mill with O.O. Howard’s corps, Sherman suffered another bloody repulse, losing about the same proportion of Union casualties (1600) to Confederate (500) as at New Hope Church.

A Confederate probe at Dallas was repulsed on May 28.

Tactically Johnson won these engagements and stopped Sherman’s advance for a brief period.  Strategically, Sherman won by drawing Johnston’s army away from Allatoona, which Sherman’s cavalry captured on June 1.  Sherman moved towards Allatoona on June 5, now being able to supply his army up to that railhead.  Johnston followed, as he had to if he was to stop Sherman from advancing down the rail line.  Here is an excerpt, from an article that Johnston wrote for the August 1887 edition of  Century Magazine on his portion of the Atlanta Campaign, which deals with these battles :

 

 

A little before 6 o’clock in the afternoon Stewart’s division in front of New Hope Church was fiercely attacked by Hooker’s corps, and the action continued two hours without lull or pause, when the assailants fell back. The canister shot of the sixteen Confederate field-pieces and the musketry of five thousand infantry at short range must have inflicted heavy loss upon General Hooker’s corps, as is proved by the name “Hell Hole,” which, General Sherman says, was given the place by the Federal soldiers. Next day the Federal troops worked so vigorously, extending their intrenchments toward the railroad, that they skirmished very little. The Confederates labored strenuously to keep abreast of their work, but in vain, owing to greatly interior numbers and an insignificant supply of intrenching tools. On the 27th, however, the fighting rose above the grade of skirmishing, especially in the afternoon, when at half-past 5 o’clock the Fourth Corps (Howard) and a division of the Fourteenth (Palmer) attempted to turn our right, but the movement, after being impeded by the cavalry, was met by two regiments of our right division (Cleburne’s), and the two brigades of his second line br ought up on the right of the first. The Federal formation was so deep that its front did not equal that of our two brigades ; consequently those troops were greatly exposed to our musketry-all but the leading troops being on a hillside facing us. They advanced until their first line was within 25 or 30 paces of ours, and fell back only after at least 700 men had fallen dead in their places. When the leading Federal troops paused in their advance, a color-bearer came on and planted his colors eight or ten feet in front of his regiment, but was killed in the act. A soldier who sprang forward to hold up or bear off the colors was shot dead as he seized the staff. Two others who followed successively fourth bor e back the noble emblem. Some time after nightfall the Confederates captured above two hundred prisoners in the hollow before them. General Sherman does not refer to this combat in his “Memoirs,” although he dwells with some exultation upon a very small affair of the next day at Dallas, in which the Confederates lost about three hundred killed and wounded, and in which he must have lost more than ten times as many.

In the afternoon of the 28th Lieutenant-General Hood was instructed to draw his corps to the rear of our line in the early part of the night, march around our right flank, and form it facing the left flank of the Federal line and obliquely to it, and attack at dawn – Hardee and Polk to join in the battle successively as the success on the right of each might enable him to do so. We waited next morning for the signal – the sound of Hood’s musketry – from the appointed time until 10 o’clock, when a message from that officer was brought by an aide-de-camp to the effect that he had found R. W. Johnson’s division intrenching on the left of the Federal line and almost at right angles to it, and asked for instructions. The message proved that there could be no surprise, which was necessary to success, and that the enemy’s intrenchments would be completed before we could attack. The corps was therefore recalled. It was ascertained afterward that after marching eight or ten hours Hood’s corps was then at least six miles from the Federal left, which was little more than a musket-shot from his starting-point.

 

Published in: on May 27, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on May 27, 1864: Battle of Pickett’s Mill  
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Memorial Day Pledge

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

Inscription on the memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Infantry Division at Kohima.

 

 

On this Memorial Day I thought that we might want to look at Eisenhower’s Gettysburg Address.  On the 100th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1963, President Kennedy had to beg off appearing due to his trip to Texas, a trip that would end in tragedy on November 22, 1963 in Dallas.  Former President Eisenhower, a resident of Gettysburg, agreed to speak in his place.  Eisenhower in his brief address viewed Lincoln’s speech not as of merely historical interest, but rather an ongoing challenge to the nation.  Here is what he said:

 

We mark today the centennial of an immortal address. We stand where Abraham Lincoln stood as, a century ago, he gave to the world words as moving in their solemn cadence as they are timeless in their meaning. Little wonder it is that, as here we sense his deep dedication to freedom, our own dedication takes added strength. 

Lincoln had faith that the ancient drums of Gettysburg, throbbing mutual defiance from the battle lines of the blue and the gray, would one day beat in unison, to summon a people, happily united in peace, to fulfill, generation by generation, a noble destiny. His faith has been justified – but the unfinished work of which he spoke in 1863 is still unfinished; because of human frailty, it always will be. 

Where we see the serenity with which time has invested this hallowed ground, Lincoln saw the scarred earth and felt the press of personal grief. Yet he lifted his eyes to the future, the future that is our present. He foresaw a new birth of freedom, a freedom and equality for all which, under God, would restore the purpose and meaning of America, defining a goal that challenges each of us to attain his full stature of citizenship. 

We read Lincoln’s sentiments, we ponder his words – the beauty of the sentiments he expressed enthralls us; the majesty of his words holds us spellbound – but we have not paid to his message its just tribute until we – ourselves – live it. For well he knew that to live for country is a duty, as demanding as is the readiness to die for it. So long as this truth remains our guiding light, self-government in this nation will never die. 

True to democracy’s basic principle that all are created equal and endowed by the Creator with priceless human rights, the good citizen now, as always before, is called upon to defend the rights of others as he does his own; to subordinate self to the country’s good; to refuse to take the easy way today that may invite national disaster tomorrow; to accept the truth that the work still to be done awaits his doing. 

On this day of commemoration, Lincoln still asks of each of us, as clearly as he did of those who heard his words a century ago, to give that increased devotion to the cause for which soldiers in all our wars have given the last full measure of devotion. Our answer, the only worthy one we can render to the memory of the great emancipator, is ever to defend, protect and pass on unblemished, to coming generations the heritage – the trust – that Abraham Lincoln, and all the ghostly legions of patriots of the past, with unflinching faith in their God, have bequeathed to us – a nation free, with liberty, dignity, and justice for all.

Soon we will remember D-Day on June 6, this year being the 70th anniversary of that longest day.  Here is what Eisenhower wrote to the troops who were embarking on, as he termed it, the Great Crusade:

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!


You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle.
We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Sacrificing for freedom for Eisenhower was not just an empty political phrase.  As he wrote these words he knew that many of the men who read it would be paying the ultimate price so that people long after they were dead, generations unknown to them, would enjoy the freedom they were about to die for. (more…)

Published in: on May 26, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Memorial Day Pledge  
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Father Turgis: Preacher By Deeds, Not Words

Father Turgis

“God give me strength for I am not a good preacher.”

 Born in Marigny, France on April 12, 1813, Isidore Francois Turgis loved the classics and the Church.  He was ordained on May 31, 1846.  During the Crimean War he attempted to served as a chaplain, but was rejected for physical reasons.  However, while his flesh was frail, Father Turgis had a spirit of pure steel and his persistence was rewarded in 1857 with an appointment to the Corps of Chaplains.  During the Second Italian War of Independence he served with the French army at the battles of  Montebello, Palestro, Magenta, Crossing of the Tessin, Marignan, and Solferino.  He also served with the French army in Cochin China (Vietnam).

Some priests seem to be destined to lead adventurous lives.  After returning to France, he decided that he was called to be a priest in New Orleans.  Arriving there he was assigned to serve at the Saint Louis Cathedral.  He quickly became popular with the creole population and was asked to serve as chaplain of the Orleans Guards.  He hoped that he would not have to preach often as a chaplain in the Confederate Army:  “God give me strength for I am not a good preacher.”

Letters from troops in his regiment, which later became the 30th Louisiana Infantry, attest to the courage, kindness and faith of Father Turgis.   At Shiloh he was one of the few Catholic priests who was present at an engagement, and this fact still stuns even after 152 years, where more Americans were battle casualties, 23,000, than in all of America’s prior wars combined.  His courage stood out during two days when courage was not in short supply on either side.

Lieutenant Colonel S.F. Ferguson, an aide de camp to General Beauregard, was placed in command of a brigade during the battle of Shiloh.  One of the regiments was the Orleans Guard in which Father Turgis was chaplain.  In his report to General Beauregard he stated “and of Father I. Turgis, who, in the performance of his holy offices, freely exposed himself to the balls of the enemy”, in commending the priest’s courage.

Here is a summary of a letter written after Shiloh that Father Turgis wrote to the formidable Archbishop Jean-Marie Odin, second Archbishop of New Orleans, in which he modestly told him not to believe what the newspapers were saying about his valor at Shiloh:

 

Turgis begs pardon for not having given (Odin) any sign of life since the terrible days of (April) 6 and 7.  He has been trying ever since, as much as his energy permits, to make himself useful visiting the 18th, 24th, 17th, 13th and 4th regiments at Corinth, in all 296 sick, of whom 207 have confessed and 121 have received Communion.  He begs (Odin) to believe nothing which newspapers say in his regard, the Orléans Guards are so favorable to him that they exaggerate everything, regarding as self-sacrifice that which is only the accomplishment of a duty.  About the Battle (of Shiloh): There were about 18 to 20 thousand Catholics, all speaking or understanding French, and he was the only priest.  He gave absolution for 18 hours without stopping, but he cannot prevent himself from weeping continually in thinking about those thousands of Catholics who asked for him and whom it was impossible to see.  The pastor of the cathedral had told him there would be 6 or 7 priests and that he would be unneeded, but without him the elite of their Creole population would have been exposed to being lost for eternity.  If (Odin) could visit some of the wounded in (New Orleans), such as Major or young Labar(?), etc., he believes it would result in great good and also greatly relieve their suffering.  On the field of battle a colonel made him promise to spend eight days amid his brigade of 2,000 men, camped 40 miles away.  All are Catholic. Captain Stayaise (?) of the 4th of Orléans Guards took the name of this place; he went to New Orleans without leaving this address for Turgis.  He asks (Odin) to get it for him. (more…)

Published in: on May 25, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Father Turgis: Preacher By Deeds, Not Words  
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Hymn to the Fallen

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

General George S. Patton

 

Something for a Memorial Day weekend.  Hymn to the Fallen by John Williams.

Published in: on May 24, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Hymn to the Fallen  
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May 23-26, 1864: Missed Opportunity at the North Anna?

 

north-anna-battle-map

We can lie about him,
Dress up a dummy in his uniform
And put our words into the dummy’s mouth,
Say “Here Lee must have thought,” and “There, no doubt,
By what we know of him, we may suppose
He felt—this pang or that—” but he remains
Beyond our stagecraft, reticent as ice,
Reticent as the fire within the stone.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

Ultimately the North Anna portion of the Overland Campaign produced little in the way of fighting.  Four skirmishes fought over four days with total casualties of 2600 for the Union and 1500 for the Confederacy, high enough for the men killed and wounded  and their families but as nothing compared to the casualties amassed at The Wilderness and Spotsylvania.  However, one tantalizing question emerges from this section of the campaign:  did the Confederates miss a golden opportunity to defeat Grant on May 24 due to the illness of General Lee.  The armies now were closer in size than they would be at any time before or later during the campaign:  68,ooo in the Army of the Potomac and 53,000 in the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee having received reinforcements, consisting of Breckinridge’s Valley force, fresh from their victory at New Market and three out of four brigades from Pickett’s James River defense force, Butler and his Army of the James now being safely bottled up.  If the Confederates were to go over on the offensive, this was their window of opportunity from a numerical standpoint.

After skirmishing on the 23rd, Lee confronted an interesting strategic situation.  Warren had his corps ready to cross the North Anna on his left at Jericho Mills.   Wright, Burnside and Hancock’s corps were still north of the North Anna confronting his center and right.  In the face of this Lee fortified his line in an inverted V with its apex on Ox Ford.  Lee hoped that Grant would assume that he was retreating and cross, allowing Lee to use his inverted V fortifications to divide Grant’s force and allow him to attack the Union troops crossing on his right while his left held off the Union troops crossing the North Anna on the left side of the inverted V.

On the 24th it looked like Lee had his opportunity.  Wright and Warren crossed the North Anna on Lee’s left.  Hancock crossed on Lee’s right.  Grant was fooled completely, cabling Washington that Lee was in full retreat.  Burnside was still across the North Anna.  A crushing attack on Hancock’s corps beckoned.

No attack was made.  , Lt. Col. Charles S. Venable, an aide of Lee, explained what  happened.  Lee suddenly fell sick with a severe bout of dysentery and took to his bed.  According to Venable, Lee said from his bed, “we must strike them a blow.”  Lee lacked the command structure after the death of Jackson and the absence of Longstreet after his wounding in The Wilderness, for such an attack to be launched without him. (more…)

Published in: on May 23, 2014 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on May 23-26, 1864: Missed Opportunity at the North Anna?  
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