Go East, Young Man!

I just returned from a week in Virginia, touring Civil War Sites with my Dad. We saw Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spottsylvania; and then, after a diversion to Yorktown, the Maritime Museum in Newport News to see the Monitor, and Jamestown, we picked up again with Petersburg and Lee’s retreat. We finished that leg at Appomattox, and ended the whole trip at Gettysburg.

I had a fine time, bought plenty of books, and covered a lot of ground. I have also decided I need to go back for a more intensive study of the Overland campaign, but that is a story for another day and/or forum

What struck me about this trip was how much of Chickamauga I saw. Of course, references to Phil Sheridan are everywhere, and I expected to see a lot of him, but plenty of other Chickamauga Alumni were there to be tracked down as well.

Antietam fetched up George Crook, as well as the 11th and 36th Ohio – units who fought with Turchin in September 1863, and helped George Thomas rescue much of his corps on the afternoon of the 20th.

But there were far more connections than that. I ran across Bushrod Johnson and old friends in the 17th Tennessee. At Petersburg I noted “Gracie’s Salient.” At Pamplin Park my soldier comrade was none other than LT Marcus Woodcock of the 9th Kentucky (Union) infantry, who described his role at Chickamauga in extensive detail in his memoir. I saw battleflags not just to the 3rd Arkansas, (not unexpected,) but also for the 13th Louisiana, of Adams’s Brigade.

At the Museum of the Confederacy’s new facility outside Appomattox, I saw Uniform coats for Joe Wheeler and Pat Cleburne. Cleburne’s coat was very unexpected. It was in bad shape, not preserved well, but the MOC finally decided to display it flat (to better conserve it) than not display it at all. I also saw Archer Anderson’s Coat – Anderson was on D.H. Hill’s staff and had a hand in the miscues between Hill and Polk on the night of the 19th/20th.

In short, in addition to all the expected sights and experiences of a trip to the eastern theater, I found plenty of fascinating Chickamauga links as well.

Oh, and the Gettysburg Visitor’s Center was selling “Maps of Chickamauga.” Huzzah!

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12 Responses to “Go East, Young Man!”

  1. Brad Butkovich Says:

    Woodcock’s autobiography is a great book overall. He also provides good detail on the Atlanta campaign and Pickett’s Mill in particular, which I am researching.

    I find the insight of a junior officer fascinating. You can see how even lowly lieutenants benefited from the perks of being a commissioned officer. I don’t know that an enlisted man would have been able to get the types of leaves of absences Woodcock was able to secure in order to recover from disease. I would think most privates would have to make due in an army hospital for the long term.

  2. ExNavyPilot Says:

    Dave,
    Glad you were able to see all those great places, but as you indicated regarding the Overland Campaign (as well as Peninsula Campaign, Bermuda Hundred, et al), there’s still much to see in the area. Had you gone to Cold Harbor, you might have run into Tom Crittenden (who you evidently missed at Spottsylvania…although with his record at Chickamauga, you might have been avoiding him.)
    Also, I must object (albeit mildly) to your calling Yorktown, the Mariners Museum, and Jamestown “diversions.” Yorktown’s Revolutionary War era earthworks served ably in McClellan’s “siege” of the town, making Yorktown a Civil War site in its own right. Jamestown, likewise, played a part in the ACW by hosting the Confederate Fort Pocahontas. Currently, researchers are excavating about half of Fort Pocahontas to research the older (and admittedly more “important”) Jamestowne fort, but they’ve discovered and studied a bombproof from the Civil War era and could find other interesting things. Finally, paying homage to the Battle of Hampton Roads can in no way be considered anything but de rigueur for any Civil War buff visiting the area. As a Hampton Roads area resident (and retired Naval Officer), I just HAD to set the record straight on this. 😉

    • Dave Powell Says:

      I should have noted Tom Crittenden’s presence, he’s worth a nod. It’s always intersting to me that Crittenden took command of a division in IX Corps in 64.

      And I didn’t mean to slight the Navy.:)

  3. Nathan Towne Says:

    Glad that you had a great time Mr. Powell.

    I know that you are busy but if you get a chance can you tell me when the 36th and 38th Alabama regiments came from Mobile and formed with the 18th Alabama into Henry Clayton’s brigade? Did those regiments come northward during the concentration at Chattanooga? I am assuming so but I am not sure. Thanks.

    • Dave Powell Says:

      Nathan, Actually, the transfer happens before the main concentration. the 36th and 38th are sent to Bragg while he’s at Tullahoma, in late April, 1863. Clayton is commissioned as a Brigadier General at about the same time, and the new brigade is formed when A. P. Stewart gets a division. They start showing up on Army of Tennessee organization tables in July, 1863, but they seem to have been there by late spring. Dave Powell

  4. Chris Evans Says:

    Going to the Wilderness you also got to see the site of Longstreet’s third excellent offensive attack of the war after Second Mannasas and Chickamauga.

    These were more ably done than the terrible one at Knoxville.

    Chris

  5. John Foskett Says:

    Chris: good point, but two of those were in part “gifts” from Irvin McDowell and Tom Wood opening the door wide and putting up a “welcome” sign.

    • Chris Evans Says:

      I guess it was like when “Napoleon was asked whether he preferred courageous generals or brilliant generals. Neither, he replied; he preferred lucky generals.”.

      Chris

    • Chase Newman Says:

      Chris,
      I would add that Longstreet’s attack on the Second Day at Gettysburg wasn’t too shabby either in my opinion. In Longstreet’s defense at Knoxville, both he, McLaws, and Jenkins badly misjudged the depth of the trench at Fort Sanders, with only Jenkins having reservations about attacking. Of course, the entire Knoxville campaign was on a misguided premise against an opponent who outnumbered Longstreet and was concentrated behind well prepared defenses. Not that Longstreet is entirely blameless for Knoxville and it’s surrounding operations, but it is worth noting that of the four battles in East Tennessee that Longstreet had tactical control over, he outright won two (Dandridge and Bean’s Station) and achieved a tactical victory at Campell’s Station at the cost of a strategic defeat ( Burnside reaching Knoxville safely). Of course, the strategic failure meant that these tactical victories were for naught, but I digress.

      John,
      As per Wood’s gap at Chickamauga, even if the lead elements of Hood’s Column were repulsed, Law’s and Kershaw’s Division were coming up behind. Even if Wood had repulsed Hood’s whole corps (which I believe is unlikely given strength of the units involved), Hindman’s division still would have clobbered Davis and thus left Wood’s southern flank exposed to being rolled up. Of course, having resistance might have changed the whole course of how Hood’s corps would press it’s attack. I think that people do put a bit to much emphasis on Hood’s Column and Wood’s gap in the initial attack (the gap would play a role in the breakout, but that is a slightly different subject), because this ignores Hindman’s attacks which overwhelmed Davis and routed Sheridan.

      Dave,

      It is nice to hear that you had a good time. I can’t wait for your new book on Chickamauga to be published.

      • Chris Evans Says:

        Thanks for the reply.

        It will be interesting to see Earl Hess and his take on the Knoxville campaign.

        Chris

  6. John Foskett Says:

    Chase: Thanks for the comment. I think you’re right – in a serious vein, some resistance at Wood’s line would clearly have been better than none. The same could be said of the attack at Second Bull Run – Longstreet’s numbers were such that Reynolds may not have been able to stop the attack but, again, having a sizable force there (rather than a small brigade of two regiments) could have made a difference in how things progressed. As it was, the execution of the attack by most of Longstreet’s subordinates (including Hood, who occupied dual roles) was less than stellar. The irony of the Gettysburg attack is that the Union blunder there (by Sickles) may actually have slowed down Longstreet’s assault.

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