In the American civil war, did junior officers join the battle with a rifle?

In the American civil war, did junior officers join the battle with a rifle?

I was asked at a event event whether or not junior officers may have used a rifle or musket during battle. I haven't seen any evidence in several archive records I've searched.

My speculation is that it's possible, as many of the junior company officers (1st or 2nd Lieutenants) may have been either recent cadet grads or senior cadets of a military academy.

Also, I could see the possibility that a cadet could also be used for sharpshooting, especially early on in the war.

Any thoughts?


The US Military Academy in 1860 was essentially an engineering school. There was little to no training in small arms so a newly created officer would be no more likely to shoot skillfully as anyone else.

Also, West Point was tiny. There were only 45 graduates in 1861. The 34 in the class of 1862 was rushed ahead and graduated later in that same year. This isn't going to fill up the spots required at all, much less fill up a sharpshooter unit. In the end, most officers were made from regular, well schooled and thought of men from other walks of life, who learned on the go from the West Pointers and Regular Army men about them. There is a story of Maj. General WT Sherman at Vicksburg himself taking up an ax and training a regiment to make fascines and sap rollers (tools for seige work) and by the end of the session, the officers and men were doing the job skillfully.

It was not part of an officer's job to take a musket and shoot, and actually it was frowned upon. That said, I do recall quite a few claims that officers did sometimes take a crack at the other side in battles. One that comes to mind is "Co. Aytch: A Side Show of the Big Show" where the author Sam Watkins mentions that one of his officers did take shots in most battles for kicks.


In his diary and again in his memoirs (Infantry Attacks), a certain Lt. Erwin Rommel notes during the 1915 attack on Verdun "although the most extreme command measures were necessary, although the men were properly dug into fox holes by nightfall."

So just what is a junior officer's "most extreme command measure" you might ask? Presumably something along the lines of holding a pistol to the head of the soldier accompanied by words to the effect "Dig now; or I squeeze the trigger now." Possibly accompanied by much profanity to assist the soldier's hearing, and add emphasis.

In the aftermath, after grumbling at twilight about the lucky adjacent company that was sheltered in a wood and didn't have to dig in, Rommel's company woke up the following morning with one dead and two wounded. The lucky adjacent company in the wood had ceased to exist as a fighting unit; the French knew well the devastating effects of tree burst artillery fire.

This is why officers in line units are never issued a rifle - the time spent using one is always time spent not managing the survival of the whole unit. In this way it must always be an officer's explicit decision to pick up another man's rifle, and join the fighting line, when that is necessary to improve the unit's survival chance; but it is never to happen accidentally.


Officers were usually too busy commanding to shots at the enemy.

There are a few exceptions, as always. General George Crook, for example, was sort of a one man army. As a lieutenant he reportedly shot six Pitt River warriors, as lieutenant colonel and brevet (honorary) general he reportedly shot a Paiute and an Apache, as a brigadier general he reportedly shot a Sioux or Cheyenne.

But that was just a minor little sideline to his tactical, strategic, and negotiating skills that resulted in the surrender of many thousands of hostiles.


Unable to save edits to my comments so, here's what I'm going with for my answer: Good points all… Couple of notes: during the US Civil War, especially early in the war, the significant majority of both armies were hardly 'seasoned' and definitely not veterans. Most in the north were from cities and I'd be willing to bet never used a rifle at all. In the south, as an agricultural society, at least the soldiers could use a rifle as this was the only way to put meat on the table.

Both sides did develop sharpshooter units later on, but these usually consisted of soldiers pulled from other units. I do know of sharpshooter units on both sides: the Berdans on union side, 1st South Carolina Sharpshooters on the confederate side, but am unable to find any evidence of the officers also being actively involved in sharpshooting in any battles. Again, thanks all for your answers…


Civil War Army Organization and Rank

A Civil War army consisted of many small parts that were joined together in stair-step fashion to make larger units. There were six basic units of organization. The smallest was a company, which had around 100 men. The largest was an army, which could have many thousands of men.

COMPANY

A company was the basic unit in a Civil War army.

A company had approximately 100 men and was commanded by a captain.

Companies were named with the letters A–K
(J was not used because it looked too much like I.)

REGIMENT

A regiment usually contained ten companies.

A regiment had approximately 1,000 men and was commanded by a colonel.

If the unit had only four to eight companies, it was called a battalion rather than a regiment.

BRIGADE

A brigade contained an average of four regiments.

A brigade had approximately 4,000 men and was commanded by a brigadier general.

Union brigades were named with numbers, but Confederate brigades were often named after their current or former commanding officers.

DIVISION

A division contained three to five brigades.

A division had approximately 12,000 men and was commanded by a major general.

Confederate divisions tended to contain more brigades than their Union counterparts. Confederate divisions often had twice as many men as Union divisions had.

CORPS

A corps contained an average of three divisions.

A corps had approximately 36,000 men and was commanded by a major general (Union) or a lieutenant general (Confederate).

ARMY

An army comprised from one to eight corps.

An army was commanded by a general.

The Union often named its armies after rivers or waterways, i.e., Army of the Potomac. The Confederacy named its armies after states or regions, i.e., Army of Northern Virginia.

Rank and Responsibilities

The rank of a Civil War soldier indicated his duties and responsibilities within the army. The vast majority of soldiers were enlisted men—they made up the bulk of the fighting force. Above them were noncommissioned officers (also considered enlisted soldiers) and commissioned officers. While officers had more prestige than privates, they also carried added burdens, since they were accountable for all the soldiers under their command.

MAJOR GENERAL

A major general had the command and administrative responsibilities for an infantry division. He had to ensure that his division was well cared for and ready to fight when needed. In battle, he commanded his division by issuing orders to his brigade commanders on where to position their troops.

BRIGADIER GENERAL

A brigadier general had the command and administrative duties for an infantry or cavalry brigade, made up usually of four regiments. He had to keep his men in good condition and ready to fight. In battle, he led his brigade by instructing his regiments on where to fight.

COLONEL

A colonel had the command and administrative duties for an infantry, cavalry, or artillery regiment, made up of varying numbers of companies. The colonel was expected to lead his regiment into battle personally to ensure that it performed to its utmost ability. For this reason, colonels were often killed or wounded in action.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL

A lieutenant colonel was the second in command of an infantry, cavalry, or artillery regiment. He had to assist the colonel in all duties, and in battle, he helped lead the regiment into the fight. If the colonel was killed or wounded, the lieutenant colonel immediately took command of the regiment.

MAJOR

A major was third in command of an infantry, cavalry, or artillery regiment and assisted the colonel in administrative and combat duties. In battle, an infantry major led the regimental attack, positioning himself at the front with the color guard. If the colonel and the lieutenant colonel were killed or wounded, the major took command of the regiment.

CAPTAIN

A captain had command of a company of infantry or cavalry, or an artillery battery of guns. In addition to his administrative duties, an infantry captain led his company into battle by giving the proper commands for the movement and fighting of his troops, in concert with the other companies in the regiment.

LIEUTENANT

Lieutenants were second in command of infantry and cavalry companies and artillery batteries. Infantry lieutenants assisted the company captain in their positions behind the line of battle by guiding the troops in their movements and firing.

SERGEANT MAJOR

A sergeant major was a regimental staff member responsible for keeping reports for the regiment. In battle, he advanced on the left, behind the line of battle, to help guide troop movement.

SERGEANT

Sergeants served either in the regimental color guard or in the individual companies of the regiment. There could be divisions, related to administrative duties, within the rank—for example, first sergeant, ordnance sergeant, and quartermaster sergeant.

Infantry sergeants advanced either in or behind the line of battle, depending on individual responsibilities. They helped guide troop movements and kept the men in their positions by example and force of command.

CORPORAL

Corporals served either in the regimental color guard or in the individual companies of the regiment. During combat, infantry corporals who were not part of the color guard were positioned in the line of battle. They helped to keep a uniform line in the movement of the company. Privates looked to corporals to help guide them during combat.

PRIVATE

Privates served as the backbone of the army and did most of the fighting in battle. Privates moved together shoulder to shoulder in straight battle lines and acted on the commands of their company officers. Privates rarely acted independently but rather worked as a group with the single purpose of fighting as a sheer force of numbers.

In addition to the regular ranks, Civil War armies had several specialist ranks.

Each regiment had a contingent of staff officers, which included surgeons, quartermasters, adjutants, and, on occasion, chaplains.

There were also special ranks for soldiers in specific parts of a regiment, such as the
field music (fife and drums),
the regimental band (brass instruments and drums),
and the color guard.

The color guard was an honorary group chosen to carry the flag, or colors, of the regiment. It usually consisted of eight color corporals and one color sergeant.


Outstanding Accuracy

Range: 1800 Yards (Just over one mile.)

At just over a mile, the Whitworth rifle's group was almost twelve feet, this may not seem extremely accurate. However, we must consider the fact that the shooter would probably be firing on a group of officers or artillery men. In which case, being able to consistently hit a twelve foot target would at least cause great disorder, if it did not prove deadly.

The Queen of England even used the Whitworth rifle with good results:

"The first meeting of the British National Rifle Association was held at Wimbledon in 1860. The first shot was fired by Queen Victoria, from a Whitworth rifle on a machine rest, at 400 yards, and struck the bull's-eye at 1 1/4 inches from its centre."

Before you get too impressed, you should probably know what a "machine rest" was. Basically, it allowed the rifle to be aimed and secured in position for the Queen, so that (by pulling a string that was fastened to the trigger) she could fire the gun while standing well clear.  

Despite all these promising signs, the Whitworth was never adopted by the British government. There were two main reasons for this. First, the unique barrel design was more easily fouled, meaning it needed more frequent cleaning than a traditional barrel and secondly, the Whitworth cost about four times as much to manufacture as the Enfield rifle.

While it never saw action in the British Army, the Whitworth rifle got to prove its usefulness on the battlefield on the other side of the Atlantic.


Types [ edit | edit source ]

Springfield Rifle Musket [ edit | edit source ]

An 1863 Model Springfield rifle musket

This was a single shot, muzzle-loading gun that used the percussion cap firing mechanism. It had a rifled barrel, and fired the .58 caliber Minié ball. The first rifled muskets had used a larger .69 caliber Minié ball, since they had simply taken .69 caliber smooth bore muskets and rifled their barrels. Tests conducted by the U.S. Army indicated that the .58 caliber was more accurate at a distance. After experimenting with the failed Maynard primer system on the Model 1855 musket, the Model 1861 reverted to the more reliable percussion lock. The first Model 1861 Springfields were delivered late in that year and during 1862 gradually became the most common weapon carried by Union infantry in the eastern theater. Western armies were slower to obtain Springfield rifles, and they were not widely used there until the middle of 1863.

Rifles were more accurate than smooth bore muskets, and could have been made using shorter barrels. However, the military was still using tactics such as firing by ranks, and feared that shorter barrels would result in soldiers in the back ranks accidentally shooting front rank soldiers in the back of the head. Bayonet fighting was also important at this time, which also made militaries reluctant to shorten the barrels. The Springfield Model 1861 therefore used a three-band barrel, making it just as long as the smoothbore muskets that it had replaced. The 38-inch-long rifled barrel made it a very accurate weapon, and it was possible to hit a man sized target with a Minié ball as far away as 500 yards (460 m). To reflect this longer range, the Springfield was fitted with two flip up sights, one set for 300 yards (270 m) and the other for 500. Along with a revised 1863 model, it was the last muzzle-loading weapon ever adopted by the US Army.

By the end of the war, approximately 1.5 million Springfield rifle muskets had been produced by the Springfield Armory and 20 subcontractors. Since the South lacked sufficient manufacturing capability, most of the Springfields in Southern hands were captured on the battlefields during the war. ΐ]

Many older Springfield rifle muskets, such as the Model 1855 and 1842, were brought out of storage and used due to arms shortages. Many smooth bore muskets dating all the way back to the Springfield Model 1812 were brought out of storage for similar reasons. These old and obsolete weapons were replaced by newer weapons as they became available.

Enfield Rifle Musket [ edit | edit source ]

A British 1853 Enfield rifle musket

The second most widely used weapon of the Civil War, and the most widely used weapon by the Confederates, was the British Pattern 1853 Enfield. Like the Springfield, this was a three-band, single-shot, muzzle-loading rifle musket. It was the standard weapon for the British Army between 1853–1867. American soldiers liked it because its .577 cal. barrel allowed the use of .58 cal. ammunition used by both Union and Confederate armies. Originally produced at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield, England, approximately 900,000 of these muskets were imported during 1861–1865, seeing use in every major battle from Shiloh onward. Many officers, however, preferred the Springfield muskets over the Enfield muskets—largely due to the interchangeability of parts that the machine-made Springfields offered. ΐ] see The Enfield had a stepped flip up sight, which was adjustable from 100–900 yards (91–823 m) (1,200 yards (1,100 m) in later models) in 100 yard increments. Realistically, though, hitting anything beyond 500 yards was mostly a matter of luck.

Lorenz Rifle [ edit | edit source ]

The third most widely used weapon of the Civil War was the Lorenz Rifle. This rifle was invented in 1854 by Austrian lieutenant Joseph Lorenz. This rifle had first seen action in the Second Italian War of Independence.

The Lorenz rifle was similar in design to the Enfield rifle-musket. It used a percussion lock, was similar in length, and had three barrel bands, like the Springfield and Enfield. The Lorenz rifle was originally .54 caliber. A large number were bored out to .58 caliber so that they could use the same ammunition as the Springfield and Enfield rifle-muskets.

The quality of Lorenz rifles during the Civil War was not consistent. Some were considered to be of the finest quality, and were sometimes praised as being superior to the Enfield. Others, especially those in later purchases, were described as horrible in both design and condition. The bored out versions were not consistent in caliber, ranging from .57 to .59. Many of these poorer quality weapons were swapped out on the battlefield for Enfield rifle-muskets whenever one became available.

The Union purchased 226,924 Lorenz rifles, and the Confederacy bought as many as 100,000. Α]

Whitworth Rifle [ edit | edit source ]

The Whitworth rifle was designed by Sir Joseph Whitworth, and was manufactured in Manchester, England. The Whitworth rifle featured a unique hexagonal shaped bullet (with a matching hexagonal barrel) that gave it superior accuracy. This rifle was mostly used by Confederate snipers. The accuracy of the Whitworth was often exaggerated, but it was capable of hitting a man sized target beyond 1,000 yards.

Whitworth rifles were equipped with either Enfield style sights or telescopic sights. The telescopic sights were more accurate, but had a reputation for bruising the user's eye due to the rifle's recoil.

Other rifles used [ edit | edit source ]

Other rifles used during the Civil War were the British P-1841-Bored Brunswick Rifle (not common), Burnside carbine (used only by cavalry), Henry rifle (privately purchased by soldiers only), and the Spencer rifle (used almost exclusively by cavalry). There was also the Model 1859 Sharps rifle, a single-shot breechloader. They were expensive to manufacture and only 11,000 were produced, most of which were unissued or went to sharpshooters. However, the Sharps carbine was very common, with over 90,000 produced. The rifles differed from each other mainly in the different "actions" they had. Almost all rifles were made with iron barrels, while only some, like the Burnside, used steel, which then was expensive.

Model 1855 rifles were fairly common. Most of the regular army was equipped with them in 1861, and the Confederates had a few thousand that had been stored in Southern arsenals. They acquired more through battlefield pickups and would use them throughout the war (although the 1855 rifle was eventually replaced in the Union ranks by 1861 Springfields).

The Model 1841 Mississippi Rifle, the progenitor of the Model 1855 and 1861 Springfield, was still used in the Civil War to a fair degree, especially by Confederate non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and sharpshooters.

The Confederacy also produced a variety of weapons itself, standardizing on .58 caliber in 1862. These were usually clones of existing designs and tended to be poor quality due to shortages of raw material and skilled labor. Some such weapons included clones of the Sharps carbine, the Richmond/Fayetteville rifles (a Springfield clone) and imitations of Enfield rifles and musketoons.

The only breechloading rifle (not built as a carbine like the Burnside) firing a primed-metallic cartridge (a .50 cal. rimfire) made by the Federal Government (at Springfield Armory) and actually designed for issue to infantrymen was the Model 1865 Springfield Joslyn Rifle, of which only 3,007 were made. In fact, this rifle was the first breechloader ever made in any national armory that fired a primed metallic cartridge. It was basically a Joslyn Carbine action fitted to a 1863 Springfield barrel and stock (though heavily modified). It was issued to disabled soldiers of the Veteran Reserve Corps very late in the war (April, 1865) and likely was never used in action. However, it established the single-shot metallic cartridge breechloader as a standard infantry weapon, which eventually all modern armies adopted in one form or another. The US adopted the breechloading 1866 Springfield "Trapdoor" infantry rifle built from surplus rifle-musket parts after the war.

The new repeater rifles would see fairly limited use in the Civil War. The first such weapon adopted by the US Army was the Model 1855 Colt Revolving Rifle (and a companion carbine), but it had a serious defect in that the gun would often discharge several chambers at once, the extra rounds flying straight into the hand that was holding the barrel up. Some soldiers tried to get around this dangerous problem by loading only one chamber, however this defeated the purpose of having a repeater rifle. Most Colt Revolving Rifles were eventually sold off by the War Department for 55 cents just to get rid of them. The unfortunate experience the army had had with these led to a stigma against repeating rifles, combined with the old fear that they (and single-shot breech loaders) would encourage men to waste ammunition.

Spencer rifles were the first successful repeater used in the United States. After attending a demonstration firing, President Lincoln was impressed enough to give it his approval. The seven-shot Spencer was produced in rifle and carbine versions, although the latter was more common. By 1864, some Union companies were armed with them, although rarely whole regiments. A few fell into Confederate hands, but proved largely unusable due to a lack of ammunition (the Confederacy had insufficient supplies of copper to manufacture the Spencer's rimfire cartridges).

The Henry rifle had a copper or brass cartridge that effectively sealed the breech of the gun so that the hot propellant gases would be held inside of the gun. The ignition source was a folded rim on the inside of the gun. The inventor of the gun was able to mass produce a cartridge that had a powerful powder charge. The power of a Henry Rifle was comparable in power to military pistols, but that was not enough to be used as a shoulder fired rifle for the military. While most shoulder fired rifles during the time fired a bullet between 350 and 500 grains propelled by 40 to 60 grains of powder the Henry rifle shot a small .44 bullet of only 200 grains and 26 to 28 grains of black powder, giving it a quite short range. While the Henry was carried and used by men in the Civil War it was not widely accepted or popular by the military. Nonetheless, Henry and Spencer rifles were used at the December 1864 Battle of Nashville to quite devastating effect.


Battle of Palmito Ranch: American Civil War’s Final Battle

By May 11, 1865, nearly everyone in the United States and in the moribund Confederacy considered the Civil War over. Both of the South’s principal armies had capitulated. Lieutenant General Richard Taylor had surrendered most of the remaining Confederate forces east of the Mississippi. President Jefferson Davis had just been captured, and his cabinet had scattered to escape Yankee vengeance. Even the elusive Confederate guerrilla William Quantrill had been fatally wounded. The martyred president, Abraham Lincoln, had been buried a week before, and Federal troops had begun their long occupation of Dixie. Arrangements were underway for a grand review — a victory parade — in Washington, and the War Department was preparing to muster out most of the huge Union Army. Peace had come at last.

As usual, things were different in Texas. Hostile forces still faced each other at the southernmost tip of the state, where the Rio Grande spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. On Brazos Santiago Island lay nearly 2,000 Union troops, including the 62nd and 87th U.S. Colored Infantry, the 34th Indiana and a few dozen loyal Texans who had volunteered for cavalry service but remained dismounted. Across the bay and several miles inland, fragmented battalions of Confederate cavalry guarded the Mexican border, beyond which French imperial forces and native Juaristas vied for control of the northern province.

The Western Sub-District of Texas, commanded by Confederate Brig. Gen. James E. Slaughter, encompassed virtually all of Texas below San Antonio. Slaughter, a Virginia native who had served in the U.S. Army from the Mexican War until Texas seceded, had been assigned his post some eight months before by Maj. Gen. John G. Walker, whom Slaughter had previously served as chief of staff. As late as the end of 1864, Slaughter had been able to count more than 2,600 soldiers under his command, but with the new year that number began to dwindle rapidly. On the last day of January 1865, only 1,722 of those men remained, of whom fewer than 1,450 officers and men stood ready for duty. By March 31, Slaughter’s returns revealed only 1,200 men of all ranks present. With spring, desertions increased rapidly, and Slaughter began to suspect that he could not rely on those who remained.

Slaughter’s troops consisted almost entirely of cavalry, from a tiny detachment at Fort Clark 200 miles up the Rio Grande to his heaviest concentration of several companies and a light battery at Brownsville and Fort Brown, about 20 miles from the river’s mouth. By April 6, 1865, Slaughter had made his headquarters at Brownsville, which he styled the Southern Division of his subdistrict.

Colonel John Salmon Ford — a Mexican War veteran, former captain of Texas Rangers, onetime Austin mayor and an already legendary character — commanded Slaughter’s Southern Division. Ford, popularly known as ‘Old Rip,’ had been appointed colonel of Texas troops early in 1861, when Slaughter was still a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Ford had accepted the surrender of Brazos Santiago in February of that year, and he had spent most of the war on duty in southern Texas. For about a year he served in the Conscription Bureau in Austin the camp of instruction near Tyler was named in his honor, although he may have felt little honored after Camp Ford became notorious as a prison pen.

In the spring of 1865, Colonel Ford’s immediate force amounted to nine companies of cavalry in two battalions. In addition, three more unassigned companies and Captain O.G. Jones’ six-gun battery were stationed at Fort Brown. He also exercised control over half a regiment of cavalry that covered the river below Ringgold Barracks, too far away for assistance on short notice. Between the end of January and the end of March, his troop strength shrank almost 20 percent as April opened, he had only 763 officers and men to guard about 100 miles of river, and only 625 of them were fit for duty. By May, desertion had diminished Ford’s command even further.

In that remote corner of the Confederacy, few military units adhered to numerical state designations, instead taking the names of their commanders. The largest organized force on which Ford could call was the six-company battalion temporarily commanded by Captain William N. Robinson, who could still muster about 250 troopers when every man answered the bugle. Ford posted Robinson about 15 miles from the Rio Grande at Palmetto (also spelled Palmito) Ranch. A smaller vanguard lay a little closer to the enemy, at White’s Ranch.

Despite the precaution of maintaining that outpost at White’s Ranch, Ford did not anticipate that there would be significant trouble with the Union troops at Brazos Santiago. In March he and a civilian emissary had corresponded with Federal Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace on the subject of peace, and although they came to no conclusions, it was evident even to the Confederate forces that the rebellion was about finished.

Many of the Texas cavalry companies had scattered in an effort to find grass for their horses some of those mounts were so broken down that Slaughter hoped he might be able to replace them with a few hundred mustangs.

At Brazos Santiago, a change in command appears to have ended the unofficial truce. Colonel Robert B. Jones of the 34th Indiana left for home in April, turning the island over to Colonel Theodore H. Barrett of the 62nd U.S. Colored Infantry. Unlike Jones, Barrett had never led his regiment in combat, and he seems to have thirsted for a little battlefield glory before the war ended altogether. In the wee hours of May 11, Barrett summoned his lieutenant colonel, David Branson, and gave him instructions that would lead to the last clash of arms between organized Union and Confederate forces.

At 4 a.m. Branson, who had been appointed lieutenant colonel directly from the noncommissioned ranks of the 28th Illinois less than a year and a half before, gathered 250 of his men and a full complement of officers on the waterfront, with a view to crossing over to Port Isabel. However, a storm kicked up, and the steamer he intended to use broke down, so Barrett ordered the expedition back to camp.

Later in the day, he found enough small boats to cross the troops over the shorter passage to Boca Chica, at the southern end of the island, and in the evening Branson moved his command down there. Along the way he picked up 50 recruits from the Union 2nd Texas Cavalry Battalion and two of their officers, all of whom still lacked horses. The two lieutenants had not even acquired rank insignia.

Branson procured 100 rounds of ammunition and five days’ rations for each man, and by 9:30 p.m. all of them had reached the mainland. Followed by two mule-drawn supply wagons, the procession started immediately for White’s Ranch, where Robinson’s forward companies were reportedly still camped.

Branson reached White’s Ranch at 2 a.m. on May 12 and silently surrounded the main building. Upon springing the trap, however, he learned that his prey had withdrawn to Palmetto Ranch a couple of days earlier. His men had already been on their feet for more than 24 hours, so Branson gave up any hope of surprising the Palmetto Ranch detachment before daylight. He marched his command another 1 1/2 miles upriver, then scattered the men into the chaparral for a few hours’ sleep.

French forces patrolled the Rio Grande on the Mexican side, and by 8:30 that morning their videttes had spotted the Federal troops. The news quickly drifted over the river to the Confederates, and French troops appeared on the bank opposite Branson’s camp. Branson nevertheless formed his 300 riflemen and marched them toward Palmetto Ranch.

Palmetto Ranch was 112 miles away, but Branson did not arrive there until noon. A flurry of musketry erupted between Branson’s skirmishers and Robinson’s pickets without drawing blood on either side. When the Federal infantrymen had driven the startled Confederates away from the hilltop hacienda, they settled down to count up their prizes: two or three sick Texans, a couple of horses and rations for 190 men, including four beef cattle. Captain Robinson, who could initially collect only about 60 of his retreating battalion, sent word of the attack back to Colonel Ford at Brownsville. Ford instructed Robinson to hold on while he rounded up other scattered companies and brought them to his assistance.

Robinson did more than hold on. With his little command he returned to the ranch on Palmetto Hill and launched a bold midafternoon assault on the Union troops, who were enjoying a siesta. Branson, who thought he faced ‘a considerable force of the enemy,’ thought his position untenable and immediately began to retreat. He backpedaled to White’s Ranch, losing one Texan.

Once he had dug in for the night, Branson sent a courier back to Brazos Santiago with an appeal for help. Colonel Barrett ordered Lt. Col. Robert G. Morrison to take 200 of his 34th Indiana to Branson’s aid. Morrison, an experienced officer who had led his regiment through the Vicksburg campaign, took his men to Boca Chica in skiffs. Barrett followed with some acting staff officers, and they all reached White’s Ranch at dawn on May 13.

At Barrett’s direction, Branson detailed a platoon from his regiment to guard the captured supplies, the few prisoners and the wounded Texan. Then, while the Hoosiers stopped to cook breakfast, the black regiment started back toward Palmetto Ranch, about three miles away, skirmishing briskly with Robinson’s cavalrymen. Half an hour later, Morrison put his men back in line and trailed after Branson, lagging a mile or so behind.

At 11 a.m. Colonel Ford started to Robinson’s aid with as much of the rest of the battalion as he could muster, adding to it the three independent companies and the battery from Fort Brown. After an urgent appeal from Captain Robinson, Ford sent one company galloping ahead while he remained behind to personally hurry the main body forward.

The advance of Barrett’s little brigade passed Palmetto Hill again, burning what remained of the supplies at the ranch before pressing on after Robinson’s weary troopers. Two companies of the 34th Indiana preceded the 62nd as skirmishers. One company deployed on the right, while the other — 27 men of Company K, under 2nd Lt. Charles A. Jones — fanned out on the left in the thick chaparral along the riverbank. Their sporadic fire escalated sharply as Ford’s reinforcements began to show up.

Ford threw most of his men into line at 3 p.m. He later calculated that his entire force, some of whom were ‘volunteers,’ had amounted to 275 cavalry and 25 foot soldiers to work the six guns. Years afterward he explained that the volunteers were French soldiers who had crossed the river to see a little action. Riding around in civilian dress, Ford placed one section of the battery on either end of his line and kept two guns in reserve. He gave Robinson the rest of his original battalion, bracing his right with the three companies under Captain D.M. Wilson.

Later Colonel Barrett claimed that he had wanted to bivouac that night on Telegraph Road, a better-drained thoroughfare that led directly to Port Isabel, where a transport could carry his troops back to Brazos Santiago. The arrival of Ford, whose force Barrett overestimated by a factor of two, changed those plans. Though Barrett still commanded 500 officers and men, he started falling back before the 300 Texans.

Veteran officers in the 34th Indiana found Barrett unimpressive, charging that he asked the most junior officers their opinions and requested their cooperation rather than giving orders. At one point he acceded to Lieutenant Jones’ request for 100 men to perform a ‘little maneuver’ on the Confederates, apparently directing Colonel Branson to follow the second lieutenant’s instructions. To even Jones’ surprise, Branson submitted, although Ford’s arrival canceled the experiment.

Ford took one company each from Robinson and Wilson to swing around his left and assail the Federal right. Two companies under Captains J.B. Cocke and John Gibbons strung out parallel to the Rio Grande, but wary Yankees saw the movement. Barrett directed Colonel Morrison to confront that threat with two more companies of the 34th, and Morrison sent Captain Abraham M. Templer out with Companies B and E.

The first rounds from Ford’s artillery struck the Federals at about 4 p.m., when Barrett’s line had fallen back to within a mile and a half of Palmetto Hill. Those first shells alarmed the Union soldiers, who had not suspected the presence of any guns and had none with which to reply. When Cocke and Gibbons opened fire on his right, Barrett started his main body to the rear at the double-quick. Lieutenant Jones reported that his men were too exhausted to serve as the rear guard, so Barrett ordered the 50 Texans to cover the retreat. First Lieutenant James Hancock, who commanded the Texans, complained that his men had already expended all but a couple of rounds of ammunition apiece, but Barrett ordered him out anyway with a promise to relieve him soon.

The two fleeing Union regiments left 100 of their comrades behind. Captain Templer, one lieutenant and 48 Indiana infantrymen were surrounded and compelled to throw down their arms. Company E was the color company of the 34th, and the prisoners included the men who carried the national and state flags. Sergeant John R. Smith, who bore the Stars and Stripes, took the state flag from Corporal George Burns and disappeared into the chaparral with both banners. He tried to swim the river with them, but when troops on the Mexican side fired on him he swam back, evidently losing the state flag near the far side. Troubled by an old foot wound, Smith could not outrun his pursuers, but he tucked the U.S. flag beneath some undergrowth along the riverbank just before Confederate cavalrymen caught up with him.

Lieutenant Hancock, his second lieutenant and 20 of their Union Texans also surrendered when they were cut off. In addition, nearly 30 stragglers from the 34th fell into enemy hands while their regiment raced toward Palmetto Ranch. The precipitous retreat quickly exhausted the Indiana troops. A few of the laggards did manage to swim the Rio Grande without interference.

Now Colonel Barrett ordered out several companies of skirmishers from the 62nd U.S. Colored Infantry to cover his rear and flank. The white regiment and the black one crossed paths near Palmetto Ranch, each breaking the other’s ranks. The 34th, which had been behind, took the road nearest the river, while the 62nd bore to the left and slowed its step to quick time. Still trotting at the double-quick, the 34th overtook the 62nd despite having the longer road around a bend in the river, and when the white regiment reached the far side of Palmetto Hill, it had taken the lead in the retreat. One witness later testified that Colonel Barrett had promised the Indiana troops he would stop and fight at Palmetto Hill, but instead he barely slowed the retreat.

Barrett ordered Morrison to keep up with the wagons, which rolled ahead of the harried column. Canteens, haversacks and even rifles littered the road in its wake. Morrison stayed near the head of his regiment, trying to reassure the men and maintain a pace that would not wear them out before they reached the relative safety of Boca Chica. He threw a company ahead to hold back anyone with the inclination to bolt, but the column still moved steadily forward. Occasionally a shell or a solid shot whistled overhead, after which a volley or two would come echoing back from the rear guard.

When the fugitives reached White’s Ranch, they still had another 12 miles to Boca Chica. Ford’s Confederates pursued doggedly, but from there the narrow peninsula foiled any flanking maneuvers. All the Confederates could do was hasten the withdrawal with artillery fire. Three miles from Boca Chica, one of the Federal wagons became mired in a bog, but the Indiana regiment filed around it and made for the boats. The sun had just set when the first of Morrison’s men reached the landing, rushing into the water to secure their places in the skiffs. A staff officer tried to hold them back so the wounded could cross first, but they ignored him.

The enemy was no longer in sight by now, so there was no need for such frenzy. With Union reinforcements just across the inlet, Colonel Ford preferred not to linger, but as he started back upriver he encountered Brig. Gen. Slaughter, who rode up at the head of 120 men of the other cavalry battalion. Slaughter told Ford to resume the pursuit. Ford argued against it, but Slaughter insisted and threw out such a heavy line of skirmishers that the Federals feared he meant to charge.

About 2l2 miles from the landing, Colonel Branson deployed his skirmishers one final time. Company K of the 62nd, under Captain Fred Coffin, spread out and leveled another volley at the Confederates, who returned it. The two lines fired ineffectually at each other for a few more minutes, and then Captain Coffin turned his line back to Boca Chica. The Texans eased their horses forward again, but the last shots of the Civil War had been fired. Slaughter thought better of his aggressiveness, and Barrett ferried the rest of his men across without further molestation.

When all the reports had come in, Colonel Barrett discovered that he had lost only one man killed, Private John Jefferson Williams, of Jay County, Ind. Nine men had been wounded and 103 officers and men captured, most of them from the 34th Indiana. Colonel Ford summarized his losses as ‘five or six, wounded.’ The prisoners from the 34th Indiana carried their comrade’s body to the outskirts of Brownsville, where they buried him.

One black soldier, Sergeant David Clark, evidently fell out on the retreat and spent the night of May 13 huddled in the chaparral a mile below Palmetto Ranch. Ford’s men found him as they swept back through at noon the next day. He was the last prisoner ever taken by the Confederate Army, and as Texans prodded him back toward Brownsville that afternoon, other horsemen came galloping up to the column with the battered national colors of the 34th Indiana. Military authorities recovered the state flag on the Mexican shore a couple of days later. The commander of the post at Bagdad, Mexico, turned it over to an Indiana lieutenant.

Within a fortnight of the battle, an official armistice ended the fighting in Texas, and on May 30 the 34th Indiana marched into Brownsville to begin occupation duty. That did not end the matter, though, for Colonel Barrett’s poor showing in his only engagement led him to bring charges against Colonel Morrison, on whom he tried to blame the disaster.

A court-martial sat on the case through late July and most of August, listening to conflicting stories divided along partisan lines. Witnesses from Morrison’s regiment gave testimony that supported him, while Barrett’s officers recounted versions that flattered their leader. Even Colonel Ford appeared on Morrison’s behalf, offering the embarrassing information that Barrett had fled before a force barely half the size of his own. Despite lax discipline in the 34th and the relative disorder of its retreat, the court refused to convict Morrison on a single charge or specification.

Apparently by virtue of overweening ambition, Colonel Barrett had initiated a perfectly unnecessary battle. Through his incompetence, he had given the dying Confederacy the satisfaction of claiming victory in the last battle of the war.

This article was written by William Marvel and originally published in the February 2006 issue of Civil War Times Magazine.

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Lincoln’s Henry Rifle, around 1862

The New Haven (Conn.) Arms Company presented this engraved, gold-mounted Henry rifle to President Abraham Lincoln in hopes that he would endorse the innovative firearm for use by the Union army.

Designed by B. Tyler Henry, the .44-caliber, lever-action, repeating rifle fired up to seven times faster than single-shot muskets. Despite its technological advantages, it was deemed too heavy and damage-prone for regular battlefield use. After the Civil War, the Henry rifle was redesigned to create the famous 1866 Winchester rifle.


New York in the Civil War

The American Civil war was a conflict in which almost a million Americans died fighting each other. Every single part of the nation was affected deeply, some more than others. Yet one of the most interesting histories of the American Civil War comes from New York City. A city made up of hundreds of different religions, classes, and ethnicities had to respond to the call to a war of rights. This war would take its toll on the city and the state, as it did everywhere, but the citizens would end up doing more damage to their own city then the Confederacy ever would. The city of New York during this difficult time period was an interesting place, with people clamoring for secession or independence throughout the city, tens of thousands of young men being formed into union regiments for the war effort, and thousands of citizens rioting to protest conscription laws. New York City has always been an interesting place, but during the 1860’s it was more of an exploding cannon than a melting pot.

The idea of southern secession was a nightmare for most New York City businessmen. New York City was one of the major commerce capitals of the world in the 1860’s, and it has stayed that way since. Now this is important because much commerce and southern business went through the ports in New York City. The American south was one of the few places in the world that mass produced cotton, and this cotton created the clothing of France and Great Britain. With this valuable trade lost, much of the businessmen in New York would find themselves suffering greatly.[1] This caused a lot of anti-war sentiment, as well as a movement for New York independence sponsored by the then mayor Fernando Wood, who suggested the creation of the Free city of Tri-Insula. This early war bashing of heads between pro and anti-war was very much a New York thing. Not many other places in the country had mixed sentiments on the matter and were hardline for one or the other faction. Yet New York City was important for the war effort, so there was no way it could be independent. Money, industry, and manpower all poured out from New York and into the hands of the Union government.

Many regiments of the American military during the Civil War came from New York State, and much of that population came from the city. Twenty one percent of the men in the state would join the union army throughout the Civil War. Many of these regiments were formed communally, meaning there were Irish brigades, German brigades, French brigades, Italian brigades and Scottish highlander brigades. New York City’s cultural diversity was carrying over to the battlefields of the American South. The cultural diversity that could be found in different sections of the city could be found in the battlefields of the American Civil War. Irish soldiers carried green flags, emblazoned with Gold harps. Scottish regiments wore plaid pants, and every regiment with an ethnic background carried with it something that made it unique. Yet one of the most interesting of these regiments were the 11 th New York Volunteer infantry, or the New York “fire” zouaves.

Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth was a young New Yorker who by twenty-four had an accomplished career. He had worked in law, which he learned from Abraham Lincoln, and drilled with a local militia in New York. When the war broke out in 1861, he and his militia joined up, and his regiment was dubbed the 11 th New York Infantry. He styled his soldiers after the French zouave soldier and dressed them in the bright and classy apparel. His regiment was comprised almost entirely of firefighters from New York City, young men who volunteered in their local fire brigades who sought glory in war. However, they would be some of the first to learn that in war there is nothing to be found but death and a scarred generation. The first New Yorker of this regiment to learn the severity of war was Ellsworth himself, as he went to take down a rebel flag in Alexandria, the home’s owner fired at him with a double barreled shotgun, making him the first Officer to die in the American Civil War. As the man who killed Ellsworth fired his next shot, Cpl. Brownell fired his rifle and killed the owner. This act would later see the New Yorker rewarded with the Congressional Medal of Honor, while Ellsworth would become a martyr and symbol to the union cause.[2]

The 11 th New York continued on with their new commanding officer, and their regiment of New York city firemen turned into fancily dressed soldiers were notoriously rowdy. As these men came from the island of vice that never sleeps, they carried with them the same bawdy demeanor throughout Virginia. This caused many of them to be temporarily imprisoned, sent to other regiments, or disciplined by officers. Many of them wore parts of their firemen’s uniforms combined with their sharp zouave uniforms and thus were dubbed the New York “fire” regiment by those around them, and many historians thereafter. Yet it would not all be fun and games as these men were soon to find out they had lost their commanding officer but would soon lose much more.

The first Battle of Bull Run would be a wake-up call for most of the nation. This was the first major battle of the war, and many were about to die. The Confederate forces under the superior leadership of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and his subordinates held throughout the entire battle and beat back any Union advances. The Union army would eventually break, and their retreat would need to be covered. This is where the 11 th New York came in. These brave New Yorkers turned soldiers stood as the rear guard of the army and held out under withering fire against Confederate forces. Row after row of New Yorkers fell into a bloody heap on the field until the retreat was at a safe distance. This was just the start of a long and brutal war for many New Yorkers who would now rush to join the union army.[3]

As the war grew in severity over the years and tens of thousands of men began to die, the pressure on the Union to recruit more men was going to be felt all throughout the country, but especially in New York. The draft laws said that those who did not wish to get drafted could pay 300 dollars to have someone else take their place.[4] This did not sit well with many who could not afford this fee and felt that they had no choice but to fight and die because of their economic status. On top of this, the recent emancipation proclamation, combined with the formation of the USCT which allowed black men to enlist in the army, created a hostile environment in New York as racial tensions skyrocketed. Poor white working class (mainly Irish) began to protest at the idea of free black people taking their low wage jobs although there had been no evidence this was going to happen. These working-class whites began to riot throughout the city, causing much destruction throughout. “We have had great riots in New York today and I thought they were exaggerated”[5]. The rioting became so bad that President Lincoln ordered multiple regiments to leave Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and go to New York to stop the rioting. Many gangs in the city also took this chaos as a moment to go to war with each other, and spilled each other’s blood in the streets, which is famously depicted in the movie Gangs of New York. Mob members killed police, police killed members in the mob, poor whites attacked and killed black citizens, soldiers fired into crowds, it was complete and total chaos. The damage the city sustained costed well over a hundred million modern day dollars to repair, and the deaths caused during the riot were pointless. It took thousands of Union soldiers to restore order in the city again. The riot was so huge that in order to tackle it, the Union army treated it as a battle with a full order of battle and dispatched strategic orders on which streets to take first, instead of just marching in and trying to take order.[6]

This New York of the past can tell us much about the New York of today. It shows us the importance of New York city’s economy, the importance of its diversity, and the importance of New Yorkers themselves. New York City is not only one of the most important cities in the world but one of the most important historical sites in the world. It lives and breathes its history every single day. There are a million things that can be said about the city that never sleeps, but what should be said more is that New Yorkers are some of the strongest people the world has to offer, and some of the most sensational. The American Civil War put the entire country to the test. It tested the wills of everyone involved. The family losing a son, or brother, the businessman losing his entire business, the soldier losing a limb to a minieball or doctor’s saw, it was one of the greatest tests to ever be thrown at the country. Yet the Union prevailed, and New York city is one of the major reasons for this. The major investment of manpower through over two hundred regiments of infantry combined with New York’s industry and financial infrastructure all helped to reform the Union. Because of New Yorkers like Elmer Ellsworth, who gave their lives for their city and their Union, the nation New York calls home is still around today. Even in the draft riots we see a flash of the New York today. A city famous for its various ethnic groups, its competition, mobs, crowds, risks and rewards, and crime. In New York there is everything, and although the American Civil War was just a footnote in the great history of the city, it should not be forgotten behind other great achievements. Thousands of New Yorkers died to preserve the union, but the New York fighting spirit kept the Union going along the way to victory.

[1] Jaffe, Steven H., and Jessica Lautin. “THE CIVIL WAR: 1861–1865.” In Capital of Capital: Money, Banking, and Power in New York City, 1784-2012, 66-89. New York Chichester, West Sussex: Columbia University Press, 2014. Accessed February 19, 2020. doi:10.7312/jaff16910.8.

[2] Coddington, Ronald S., Michael J. McAfee, and Ron Field. “Elmer Ellsworth, Haute Couturier?: A Previously Unknown Portrait of the Union Martyr Offers Insight into His Design Method.” Military Images 36, no. 2 (2018)

[3] Correspondence, etc. Union”. The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume II, Chapter IX. United States Department of War. 1880. Retrieved March 17, 2008. Correspondence, etc. Union”. The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume II, Chapter IX. United States Department of War. 1880. Retrieved March 17, 2008.

[4] Dupree, A. Hunter, and Leslie H. Fishel. “An Eyewitness Account of the New York Draft Riots, July, 1863.” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 47

[5] Dupree, A. Hunter, and Leslie H. Fishel. “An Eyewitness Account of the New York Draft Riots, July, 1863.

[6] Joyce, Toby. “New York Draft Riots 1863.” History Ireland 12, no. 1 (2004): 13.


10 Facts: Perryville

The Union 28th Brigade under Col. John Starkweather defended this hill against Confederate attacks led by Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham Steven Stanley

Despite being the Confederate high-water mark of the Western Theater and one of the most important battles of the American Civil War, most people, including many Civil War buffs, know little about the Battle of Perryville. Consider these 10 facts about this watershed battle in the western theater.

Fact #1: Perryville was the largest battle fought in the State of Kentucky.

There were 72,196 combatants (55,396 Union and 16,800 Confederates) in the area during the Battle of Perryville. Of this total, 20,000 Union troops and 16,000 Confederates engaged in combat during the battle. These large numbers make Perryville the largest battle to have been fought in the Bluegrass State.

View of the Perryville Battlefield at early morning. Rob Shenk

Interesting to note that there were 21 different states represented within the forces present at Perryville. In the battle there were soldiers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Fact #2: Perryville is considered the "High Water Mark" for the Confederacy in the West.

Much as Gettysburg is to the Eastern Theater, the Battle of Perryville proved to be the most northerly major battle of the Civil War in the Western Theater. According to historian Ken Noe, "Only after dark did Bragg realize that he had taken on Buell’s entire army at Perryville. Notably, Joe Wheeler tardily reported that an entire Federal corps lay southwest of town, poised to strike. Bloodied and outnumbered, facing thousands of fresh Federal troops, he first fell back during the night to his supply depot at Camp Dick Robinson, only to discover that there was little food or forage collected there. Moreover, Bragg was now furious that Kentuckians had not come forward to fight for the Confederacy, as so many including Kirby Smith had promised him. That combination of factors convinced Bragg to fall back to Tennessee, where he could rebuild and resupply his army."

So despite winning a tactical victory at Perryville, the Confederates were forced to abandon their 1862 Heartland Campaign (a strategic defeat). The Union victory at Perryville helped ensure that Kentucky would remain in Northern hands throughout the rest of the war.

Fact #3: At its time, Perryville was the second bloodiest battle of the Western Theater.

The Battle of Perryville produced 7,621 total casualties (4,220 Union and 3,401 Confederate). Of this number, 1,422 soldiers were killed in the battle and 5,534 were wounded. When you add in the soldiers who died later of wounds suffered at Perryville, the number of men who lost their lives as a result of fighting at Perryville comes to 2,377. This high casualty figure made Perryville the second bloodiest battle of the Western Theater (after Shiloh) in the Fall of 1862.

Of the units involved in the fighting at Perryville, the 22nd Indiana (195 casualties out of 300 - 65.3% of their force) and the 16th Tennessee (219 casualties out of 370 engaged - 59.2% of their regiment) suffered the highest percentage of casualties.

Fact #4: A severe drought in the region drew the two armies to the Perryville region.

According to historian Ken Noe, "In the autumn of 1862, the upper south west of the Appalachians and Midwest were locked in the worst drought in memory. So severe was the drought that when they arrived in Louisville, some of Buell’s Hoosiers just kept walking, across the Ohio River toward home. Indeed both armies had marched north into Kentucky absolutely desperate for water, and as a result the men were both dehydrated and sick due to the microbes they had ingested by drinking anything wet. Good water was a prize. On October 7, when Bragg directed Polk to stop and eliminate the pursuing Federal threat, he reunited his force in Perryville, taking tactical advantage of the hills west of town but also guarding a series of springs as well as the puddles in the bed of the Chaplin River."

Federals from the 42nd Indiana were gathered around this shallow country stream filling their canteen's when they were set upon by Patrick Cleburne's Confederates driven to the rear. Rob Shenk

Fact #5: Despite greatly outnumbering their Confederate opponent, only one of the three Union corps at Perryville was significantly engaged in the battle.

Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio included three Federal corps, totaling 55,396 soldiers. This total greatly exceeded Bragg's Confederate forces which numbered around 16,800. Despite this great numerical superiority only one of the three Union corps actively engaged in combat at Perryville - Alexander McCook's First Corps.

Why did the Union army fail to employ its full force at Perryville? Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, recuperating from a recent fall from his horse, was far from the battlefield and an acoustic shadow prevented him from hearing the heavy gunfire coming from the battlefield. Resting on his cot and preparing for an attack the next day, Buell was dismissive of reports describing the heavy fighting. Buell's failure to act in a timely manner earned him many enemies within his own army.

Fact #6: Famous Confederate diarist Sam Watkins declared Perryville the "hardest fighting" that he experienced.

Sam Watkins, a soldier in the First Tennessee, fought in every major battle that this Confederate unit was engaged in - Shiloh, Corinth, Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, the Atlanta Campaign, Franklin, and Nashville. In his famous memoirs published shortly after the war, Company Aytch, Watkins said of Perryville that "I was in every battle, skirmish and march that was made by the First Tennessee Regiment during that war, and I do not remember of a harder contest and more evenly fought battle that of Perryville."

Later in his account, Watkins, whose First Tennessee was locked in a hand-to-hand struggle for four Union cannon, stated that "[s]uch obstinate fighting I never had seen before or since. the iron storm passed through our ranks, mangling and tearing men to pieces." At Perryville, Watkins would find that both his hat and cartridge box had been holed by enemy fire. making him one of the lucky ones.

And on the other end of the Confederate command spectrum, Gen. Braxton Bragg also commented, "[f]or the time engaged it was the severest and most desperately contested engagement within my knowledge."

Fact #7: Small quantities of Henry repeating rifles were used at Perryville, probably the first time one was used in combat.

According to historian and Perryville Park manager Kurt Holman, archaeological evidence shows that at least one Henry Rifle was employed during the Battle of Perryville. These rifles were being sold in Louisville in September 1862 and it is assumed that one was bought by an officer or soldier in Terrill's or Starkweather's Brigade and used in the battle.

Repeating rifles like the Henry and Spencer were the most advanced infantry weapons of their day and were the progenitors of more capable assault weapons that were carried by American soldiers in future wars.

The Henry, which was the forerunner of the famous Winchester, lever-action rifles of Wild West fame, was one of the first repeating rifles of the Civil War.

Douglas MacArthur Wikimedia

Fact #8: Two officers who fought at Perryville were fathers of significant World War Two generals.

Simon B. Buckner was the commander of one third of the Confederate Army at Perryville. Buckner's son, Simon B. Buckner, Jr., a Lt. General in charge of American land forces on the island of Okinawa, was killed by Japanese artillery on June 18, 1945. Buckner was the most senior American military officer killed by enemy fire in World War Two.

Perryville was the first battle for a young officer in the 24th Wisconsin. Arthur McArthur, who would later earn the Medal of Honor for his exploits at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, was the father of Douglas MacArthur who would go onto great fame in World War Two and Korea. Arthur and Douglas are still the only father-son combination to have both won the Medal of Honor.

Fact #9: The Perryville Battlefield has the maybe the first monument dedicated to Confederate dead paid for by the United States government.

After the conclusion of the Battle of Perryville, a house owned by a farmer Goodnight was turned into a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers. Roughly 30 Confederate soldiers expired at this site and were buried nearby. In the late 1880s a monument was erected at this site commemorating the Confederate war dead. On the monument itself are the words - "erected by the United States."

Fact #10: The Perryville State Battlefield Site was established on October 8, 1954, ninety years after the battle.

Despite the great importance of this Civil War battle, Perryville went largely unprotected late into the 19th century. With resources going more towards Shiloh, Chickamauga, and Vicksburg, Perryville was largely left to fend for itself. By 1952, the site's condition had become so poor that the local Perryville Lions Club finally stepped in to help rehabilitate the small Confederate cemetery at Perryville and the surrounding area. The Lions Club went on to convince the Kentucky State Conservation Commission to step in and create a state park. On October 8, 1954, former Vice President Alben Barkley officially opened the Perryville State Battlefield Site.

The Union 28th Brigade under Col. John Starkweather defended this hill against Confederate attacks led by Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham Steven Stanley

From its initial 18-acre boundary, the Perryville State Battlefield Site has grown to encompass over 1,000 acres of this historic battlefield. The American Battlefield Trust is proud to have played an important role in helping to expand the amount of preserved battlefield land at this well-maintained site.


3. William Flores

(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

On January 28, 1980, the USCGC Blackthorn collided with a tanker in Tampa Bay, Florida. Seaman Apprentice William Flores, just eighteen years old and a year out of boot camp, stayed on board as the cutter sank, strapping the life jacket locker open with his belt, giving his own life jacket to those struggling in the water, and giving aid to those wounded on board. He was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard’s highest non-combat award, the Coast Guard Medal.


Contents

The following is an uncompleted list of notable Hispanics who participated in the American Civil War. Their names are placed in accordance to the highest rank which they held during their military service.

Union forces Edit

  • Admiral David Farragut (1801–1870) – Son of Spanish-born Jordi Farragut, Farragut was promoted to vice admiral on December 21, 1864, and to full admiral on July 25, 1866, after the war, thereby becoming the first person to be named full admiral in the Navy's history. Farragut's greatest victory was the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864. Mobile, Alabama at the time was the Confederacy's last major port open on the Gulf of Mexico. The bay was heavily mined with tethered naval mines, also known as torpedoes. When the USS Tecumseh, one of the ships under his command, struck a mine and went down, Farragut shouted through a trumpet from his flagship to the USS Brooklyn, "What's the trouble?" "Torpedoes!" was the reply, to which Farragut then shouted his now famous words "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"[10] The fleet succeeded in entering the bay. Farragut then triumphed over the opposition of heavy batteries in Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines to defeat the squadron of Admiral Franklin Buchanan. [11] Farragut was promoted to vice admiral on December 21, 1864, and to full admiral on July 25, 1866, after the war, thereby becoming the first person to be named full admiral in the Navy's history. [12]
  • Brigadier General Diego Archuleta (1814–1884) – was a member of the Mexican Army who fought against the United States in the Mexican–American War. During the American Civil War he served in the New Mexico Militia. He fought with the 1st New Mexico Militia Infantry in the Battle of Valverde and became the first Hispanic to reach the military rank of brigadier general. He was later appointed an Indian Agent by President Abraham Lincoln. [13]
  • Brevet Brigadier General [note 1]Henry Clay Pleasants (1833–1880) – was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina to an American father and a Spanish mother. Pleasants, who at the time was a Lieutenant Colonel, devised a plan to break the Confederate stranglehold on the city of Petersburg, Virginia. He organized the building of a tunnel filled with explosives under the Confederate lines outside the city. His actions led to the Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864. It was supposed to give the Union troops an opportunity to break the defense of Petersburg. The poorly executed "Battle of the Crater" failed and his troops continued to fight for eight more months. Pleasants, however, was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General. [6]
  • Colonel Carlos Alvarez de la Mesa (1828–1872) – Alvarez de la Mesa, a resident of Worcester, Mass., was a Spanish national who fought at Gettysburg for the Union Army in the Spanish Company of the "Garibaldi Guard" of the 39th New York State Volunteers. [14] He received a stomach contusion at Gettysburg and was medically discharged on September 30, 1863, for intermittent fever and chronic ankle ulcer. [15] Over 200 letters written by Carlos Alvarez de la Mesa during the Civil War were donated to the NY State Military Museum. [16] Alvarez de la Mesa is the grandfather of Major GeneralTerry de la Mesa Allen, Sr. commanding general of the First Infantry Division in North Africa and Sicily, and later the commander of the 104th Infantry Division during World War II. [14]
  • Colonel José Guadalupe Gallegos (1828–1867) – Gallegos was the Post Commander at Hatch Ranch on Nov 22, 1861. His unit was under special order 187, Nov 9, 1861 to construct a road between Las Vegas and Fort Union. Gallegos served as commander of the Third New Mexico Volunteer Infantry in the Army of the United States from August 26, 1861, until March 6, 1862. This was just prior to the Battle of Glorieta Pass, fought from March 26 to 28, 1862, the decisive battle of the New Mexico Campaign. [17]
  • Colonel Miguel E. Pino – Prior to the Civil War, Pino was the Commanding Officer of an expedition which was organized in Santa Fe, New Mexico, against the Navajos. During the Civil War, Pino commanded the 2nd Regiment of New Mexico Volunteers, which fought at the Battle of Valverde from February 20 to February 21, 1862, and the Battle of Glorieta Pass from March 26 to March 28, 1862. Pino and his men played an instrumental role in the defeat Confederate Army, derailing any plans of an invasion of New Mexico. [18]
  • Colonel Federico Fernández Cavada (1831–1871) – Cuban-born Cavada commanded the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer infantry regiment when it took the field in the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg. Because of his artistic talents, he was assigned to the Hot Air Balloon unit of the Union Army. From the air he sketched what he observed of the enemy movements. On April 19, 1862, Federico sketched enemy positions from Thaddeus Lowe's Constitution balloon during the Peninsula Campaign in Virginia. Cavada was captured during the Battle of Gettysburg and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. Cavada was released in 1864 and later published a book entitled "LIBBY LIFE: Experiences of A Prisoner of War in Richmond, VA, 1863–64", which told about the cruel treatment which he received in the Confederate prison [19][20]
  • Lieutenant Colonel José Francisco Chaves (1833–1904) – Chaves had been an officer in the Mexican Army before he joined the Union Army. He entered the Union Army as major of the 1st New Mexico Infantry Regiment. Chaves fought in the Battle of Valverde in the American Civil War alongside Colonel Kit Carson. Chaves later became the first Secretary of Education for New Mexico. [21]
  • Lieutenant Colonel Julius Peter Garesché (1821–1862) – When the American Civil War broke out, Garesché declined a commission as brigadier general of volunteers, and was made Chief of Staff, with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the regular army, to Maj. Gen.William S. Rosecrans. In this capacity he participated in the operations of the Army of the Cumberland at the Battle of Stones River. Riding with General Rosecrans toward the Round Forest, Garesché was decapitated by a cannonball. [22]
  • Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Perea (1830–1913) – On December 1861, Perea organized and commanded Perea's Militia Battalion for the defense of New Mexico. Perea was later elected as a Republican to the Thirty-eighth Congress. He served in said position for two years (March 4, 1863 – March 3, 1865). [23]
  • Lieutenant Colonel Jose Maria Valdez (1841–1884) – Valdez commanded the 3rd New Mexico volunteers at Valverde. Both he and Colonel Pino were cited by Union General Canby in his official report for their efforts in this action. [3]
  • Major Manuel Antonio Chaves (1818–1889) – Chaves was in charge of Fort Fauntleroy in northwestern New Mexico. On March 28, 1862, Chaves led 490 New Mexico volunteers on a daring raid. As the main Union troops fought the Confederates, Chaves's men lowered themselves down a 200-foot slope, taking a small Texan guard completely by surprise and capturing the Confederates' supply train. They destroyed the wagons and burned all the supplies. [20]
  • Major Salvador Vallejo (1813–1876) – Vallejo organized First Battalion of Native Cavalry one of the California units which served with the Union Army in the West. Companies of Vallejo's unit saw action in the Bald Hills War, and against the Mason Henry Gang in Central California, and late in the war the whole unit was sent east to Arizona Territory, to defend it from the raids of the Apache. Like most California units they never engaged the Confederates and therefore Vallejo did not have a battlefield role in the Civil War, but did hold the West for the Union. [24][25]
  • Captain Román Antonio Baca – Baca was an officer in the New Mexico Volunteers a Union force. In 1862, he became the first Hispanic spy for the United States. [24]
  • Captain Stephen Vincent Benet (1827–1895) – the grandson of an immigrant from Minorca (one of the Spanish Balearic Islands). During the Civil War he taught the science of gunnery at West Point. He would eventually retire as a brigadier general. [6][26]
  • Captain Adolfo Fernández Cavada (1832–1871) – Cavada served in the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg with his brother, Colonel Federico Fernandez Cavada. He served with distinction in the Army of the Potomac from Fredericksburg to Gettysburg and was a "special aide-de-camp" to General Andrew A. Humphreys. [19][27]
  • Captain Luis F. Emilio (1844–1918) – The son of a Spanish immigrant, Emilio was among the group of original officers of the 54th selected by Massachusetts War Governor John Albion Andrew. Captain Emilio emerged from the ferocious assault on Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863, as the regiment's acting commander, since all of the other ranking officers had been killed or wounded. He fought with the 54th for over three years of dangerous combat. [28]
  • Captain Antonio Maria de la Guerra (1825–1881) - Mayor of Santa Barbara, California, several times a member of the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, California State Senator and Captain of California Volunteers in the American Civil War. [29]
  • Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez (1841–1880) – Rodríguez was a Puerto Rican native who served as an officer in the 15th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, of the Union Army. Rodríguez served in the defenses of Washington, D.C. and led his men in the Battles of Fredericksburg and Wyse Fork. [30]
  • Third Assistant Engineer Cipriano Andrade (1840–1911) – Andrade was born in Tampico, Mexico. He joined the Union Navy in 1861, and served on board the USS Lancaster. During the Civil War, Andrade served on board the USS Lancaster (1861–1863) and the USS Pontiac (1863–1865) as a third assistant engineer. His position was the most junior marine engineer of the ship. responsible for electrical, sewage treatment (resulting in the pejorativepun "turd engineer"), lube oil, bilge, and oily water separation systems. Depending on usage. [31] and his position sometimes required that he assist the third mate in maintaining proper operation of the lifeboats. On July 1, 1901, he was transferred to the retired list of the Navy with the rank of rear admiral. [32]

Confederate forces Edit

  • Colonel Ambrosio José Gonzales (1818–1893) – Gonzales, a native Cuban, settled in South Carolina. He was volunteering during the bombardment of Fort Sumter and became an inspector of coastal defences. In 1862 he was assigned as Chief of Artillery to the Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. In 1864 he served as artillery commander at the Battle of Honey Hill during Sherman's March to the Sea. [33] President Jefferson Davis declined promotion requests for the rank of Brigadier General six times. It is believed that neither Gonzales's early experience with Cuban filibusters, without success, nor his contentious relationships with Confederate officers in Richmond were aiding him but most likely Davis' dislike for P. G. T. Beauregard, who was a schoolmate of Gonzalez and the proponent of several of the requests, didn't help either. [34]
  • Colonel Leonidas M. Martin (1824–1904) – Martin organized and was a major in the 10th Texas Cavalry. Promoted to Colonel was placed in charge of the 5th Texas Partisan Rangers under the command of Colonel Thomas C. Bass. Martin participated in the Battle of Honey Springs, the largest battle fought in Indian Territory, fought on July 17, 1863. The Union Forces were victorious and a result of the Confederate defeat in this battle was that the Confederates were always short on supplies in the Indian Territory forcing the Texas Cavalry to abandon the territory. [35]
  • Colonel Santos Benavides (1823–1891) – Benavides commanded the 33rd Texas Cavalry Regiment. He was the highest ranking Tejano in the Confederate Army. On March 19, 1864, he defended Laredo against the Union's First Texas Cavalry, whose commander was Colonel Edmund J. Davis, a Florida native who had previously offered Benavides a Union generalship, and defeated the Union forces. Probably his greatest contribution to the Confederacy was securing passage of Confederate cotton to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, in 1863. On March 18, 1864, Major Alfred Holt led a force of about two hundred men from the command of Col. Davis near Brownsville, Texas, to destroy five thousand bales of cotton stacked at the San Agustín Plaza. Colonel Santos Benavides commanded forty-two men and repelled three Union attacks at the Zacate Creek in what is known as the Battle of Laredo. [19][36]
  • Lieutenant Colonel Paul Francis de Gournay (1828–1904) – De Gournay was a Cuban who fought for independence from Spain and afterwards settled in Louisiana. In 1861 he equipped an artillery battery at his own expense and led it during the Peninsula Campaign in Virginia. Later he became the commander of the 12th Battalion, Louisiana Heavy Artillery. He served during the Siege of Port Hudson and with its surrender became a prisoner for the rest of the war. [34]
  • Major David Camden DeLeón (1816–1872) – DeLeón a.k.a. "The Fighting Doctor", came from a Sephardic Jewish family. He was the first Hispanic to graduate from an Ivy League School (University of Pennsylvania – 1836). In 1864, he became the first Surgeon General of the Confederate States. The President of the Confederate States Jefferson Davis, assigned him the task of organizing the medical department of the Confederate Army. [24]
  • Captain Michael Philip Usina (1840–1903) – was a member of the Confederate States Navy. He was born in St. Augustine, Florida, to Spanish parents. As captain of several blockade runners, Usina managed to avoid capture on his many successful missions. Usina fought in Co. B in the 8th Georgia Infantry of the Confederate Army before being transferred to the Navy. He was wounded and captured in the Battle of Manassas, but managed to escape and reach the Southern lines. [6][37]

Hispanic women in the Civil War Edit

Many women participated in the American Civil War. Two of the most notable Hispanic women to participate in that conflict were Lola Sánchez and Loreta Janeta Velazquez. The similarities between them were that both were Cuban born and both served for the Confederacy. However, the difference between them was that one served as a spy while the other disguised herself as a male and fought in various battles.

  • Lola Sánchez (1844–1895) – Sánchez was born in Armstrong, Florida of Cuban descent. She became upset when her father was accused of being a Confederate spy by the Union Forces and sent to prison. This event angered and inspired her to become a Confederate spy. The Union Army had occupied her residence in Palatka, Florida and she overheard the officer's plans of a raid. She alerted the Confederates under the command of Capt. John Jackson Dickison. Because of the information which she provided, the Confederate soldiers were able to surprise the Union troops, in what became known as the "Battle of Horse Landing", [20] and capture the USS Columbine, a Union warship in the only known incident in US history where a cavalry unit captured and sank an enemy gunboat. [38]
  • Loreta Janeta Velazquez a.k.a. "Lieutenant Harry Buford" (1842–1897) – Velazquez was a Cuban woman who masqueraded as a male Confederate soldier during the Civil War. She enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861, without her soldier-husband's knowledge. She fought at Bull Run, Ball's Bluff and Fort Donelson, but her gender was discovered while in New Orleans and she was discharged. Undeterred, she reenlisted and fought at Shiloh, until unmasked once more. She then became a spy, working in both male and female guises. [19]

Medal of Honor Edit

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President in the name of Congress on members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States". [39]

  • Corporal Joseph H. De Castro (1844–1892) – De Castro served in Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry and was the first Hispanic-American Medal of Honor recipient. During the battle, De Castro attacked a confederate flag bearer from the 19th Virginia Infantry regiment, with the staff of his own colors and seized the opposing regiment's flag, handing the prize over to General Alexander S. Webb. General Webb is quoted as saying:
  • Seaman Philip Bazaar – Bazaar was a resident of Massachusetts, who joined the Union Navy at New Bedford. He was assigned to the USS Santiago de Cuba, a wooden, brigantine-rigged, side-wheel steamship under the command of Rear Admiral David D. Porter. In the latter part of 1864, Union General Ulysses S. Grant ordered an assault on Fort Fisher, a Confederate stronghold. which protected the vital trading routes of Wilmington's port, at North Carolina. [41] On January 12, 1865, both ground and naval Union forces attempted a second land assault, after the failure of the first. During the land assault, Bazaar and 5 other crew members carried dispatches from Rear Admiral Porter to Major General Alfred Terry, while under heavy fire from the Confederates to Major General Alfred Terry. Bazaar was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. [42][43]
  • Seaman John Ortega (1840-. ) - Ortega was a resident of Pennsylvania who joined the Union Navy in his adopted hometown in Pennsylvania. Ortega was assigned to the USS Saratoga during the Civil War. The USS Saratoga was ordered to proceed to Charleston, South Carolina, for duty in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Ortega was a member of the landing parties from the ship who made several raids in August and September in 1864, which resulted in the capture of many prisoners and the taking or destruction of substantial quantities of ordnance, ammunition, and supplies. A number of buildings, bridges, and salt works were destroyed during the expedition. For his actions Seaman John Ortega was awarded the Medal of Honor and promoted to acting master's mate. He was the first Hispanic member of the U.S. Navy to receive the Medal of Honor. [44][45]

The 1st California Cavalry Battalion Edit

The 1st Battalion, Native California Cavalry, was raised in California in 1863-64 and served on the border in Arizona and New Mexico. All officers and non-commissioned officers had to be fluent in Spanish, and the language of command was Spanish. The Native California Cavalry were one of the last U.S. military mounted regiments equipped with lances.

The Garibaldi Guard, D Company "The Spanish Company" Edit

The 39th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as the "Garibaldi Guard", was mustered into the U. S. service at New York, May 28, 1861. The unit was composed of three Hungarian companies, three German, one Swiss, one Italian, one French, one Portuguese and one Spanish. The Spanish unit, 4th D Company, consisted of men from different Latin American countries. Puerto Ricans and Cubans were Spanish subjects at the time and inscribed as Spaniards. The unit fought in the Battle of Gettysburg, participated in the Mine Run campaign and in the Wilderness campaign. The battalion participated in the pursuit of General Robert E. Lee's army and performed various routine duties in the vicinity of Richmond until July 1, 1865, when it was mustered out at Alexandria. [4]

The following is a list of the names of some of the Hispanics officers of the 4th D Company "The Spanish Company" of the Garibaldi Guard: Captain Joseph Torrens, 1st Lt. Jose Romero, 2nd Lt. (later Colonel) Carlos Alvarez de la Mesa and 1st Sgt. Francisco Luque. [4]

New Mexico Volunteer Infantry Regiment Edit

Mustered in August 1861, the New Mexico Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the Union Unit with the most officers of Hispanic background. On February 21, 1862, these units fought against Confederate Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley and his troops in the Battle of Valverde in February and the Battle of Glorieta Pass. In January 1864, Colonel Kit Carson led a detachment of nearly 400 in the Battle of Canyon de Chelly. Later that year Carson led a detachment at the first Battle of Adobe Walls. Among the last engagements of the war in which the units participated was the Battle of Aro Pass, fought on July 5, 1865. [3] The regiment was mustered out on September 30, 1866. [46]

European Brigades and the Louisiana Tigers Edit

The 5th Regiment of the "European Brigade" was a home guard brigade of New Orleans, Louisiana made up of 800 Hispanics who were descendants of immigrants from the Canary Islands. The brigade, under the command of Brigadier General William E. Starke, was assigned to defend the city. Louisiana also had a unit called the "Cazadores Espanoles Regiment" (Spanish Hunters Regiment) [47] and the "Louisiana Tigers", commanded by Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat, which had men from Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. The units fought at the Battles of Antietam and Gettysburg. [6]

The following is a list of the names of some of the Hispanics officers of the 5th Regiment of the "European Brigade": Capt. Domingo Fatjo, Capt. Magin Puig, Capt. Jose Quintana, Capt. A. Pons Valencia, 1st Lt. Jose Albarez, 1st Lt. J. Barba, 1st Lt. John Fernandez, 1st Lt. S. J. Font, 1st Lt. Eduardo Villa, 1st Lt. Antonio Robira, 1st Lt. Antonio Helizo, 2nd Lt. Dormian Campo, 2nd Lt. Lorenzo Carbo, 2nd Lt. J. B. Cassanova, 2nd Lt. Eduardo Deu, 2nd Lt. Juan Fernandez, 2nd Lt. A. Fornaris, 2nd Lt. Valentin Hamsen, 2nd Lt. Juan Parra, 2nd Lt. Antonio Mercadal, 2nd Lt. R. Martinez, 3rd Lt. [note 2] Antonio Barrera, 3rd Lt. Edward Bermudez, 3rd Lt. Jose Bernal, 3rd Lt. Candelario Caceres, 3rd Lt. C. Garcia, 3rd Lt. Bernardo Heres, 3rd Lt. Bernardo Rodriguez, 3rd Lt. Jose Salor and 3rd Lt. F. Suarez. [48]

Among the Hispanic officers of the "Cazadores Espanoles Regiment" are the following: Lt. Col. J. M. Anquera, Capt. Jose Anguera, Capt. S. G. Fabio, 2nd Lt. Ceferino Monasteria, 1st Lt. Vicente Planellas, 1st Lt. L. Roca and Surgeon Francisco Ribot. [48]

The Spanish Guards Edit

The home guard brigade of Mobile, Alabama, made of Hispanics, was called "The Spanish Guards". The guard served as part of the Mobile County Reserves. Even though it was disbanded on April 12, 1865, many of its men joined the other Confederate forces and surrendered with General Richard Taylor, at Citronelle, Alabama, on May 4, 1865. Various brigades which had a significant number of Hispanic soldiers and which fought at the Battles of Antietam and Gettysburg were Alabama's 55th Infantry and Florida's 2nd Infantry. [6]

The following Hispanic officers served with the Alabama forces: Maj. F. A. Moreno, 1st Lt. Andrew J. Pou, 2nd Lt. Jerome Eslava and 2nd Lt,. M. Franciscoa. Lt. Col. William Baya and 2nd Lt. Francis Baya served with the Florida Infantry. [6]

Confederate units of Texas Edit

Besides serving in the "Benavides Regiment", many Hispanics who were from Texas served in other units of the Confederate Army. Known as Tejanos, they fought in the Battles of Gaines' Mill, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Appomattox Court House as members of the Sixth and Eighth Texas Infantry and of Hood's Texas Brigade under the command of Col. John Bell Hood. Some Tejanos marched across the deserts of West Texas to secure the Mesilla Valley as members of Charles L. Pyron's company which were later incorporated into Gen. Henry Hopkins Sibley's Confederate Army of New Mexico and fought at the battle of Valverde. [49]

After the war, the Confederate Army ceased to exist and many of the volunteer units of the Union were mustered out. Most of the former soldiers went home and returned to the civilian activities that they had prior to the war. Others continued in the military and joined the regular Army and Navy.

Among the notable Hispanics who served in the war and who continued in the military was Admiral David Farragut. Farragut was promoted to admiral on July 25, 1866. [50] His last active service was in command of the European Squadron from 1867 to 1868, with the screw frigate USS Franklin as his flagship. Farragut remained on active duty for the rest of his life, an honor accorded to only six other US naval officers. [50]

Both brothers, Colonel Federico and Captain Adolfo Fernández Cavada were named US consuls in Cuba. Federico was appointed United States consul at Trinidad and his brother Adolfo appointed United States consul at Cienfuegos. Both brothers resigned their positions upon the Cuban insurrection against Spanish rule that became known as Cuba's Ten Years' War (1868–1878). [20] Together they joined the insurgents and Federico was named General for the District of Trinidad, Commander in Chief of the Cinco Villas. On April 4, 1870, Federico Fernández Cavada was named Commander-in-Chief of all the Cuban forces.

Federico was captured by the Spanish gunboat "Neptuno" in 1871 and taken to Puerto Principe. There he was tried the Spanish authorities and sentenced to die by firing squad. Federico was executed in July 1871. [51] In December 18, 1871, Adolfo Fernández Cavada was killed in battle at the coffee estate "La Adelaida" near Santiago de Cuba. [51]

Captain Stephen Vincent Benet was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General on June 23, 1874, and named Chief of Ordnance. He authored various military related books. [26]

Among the veterans who entered politics were Brigadier General Diego Archuleta, who was named Indian Agent by President Abraham Lincoln and later served in the Mexico Legislature. [13] Lieutenant Colonel José Franciso Cháves, who became the first Secretary of Education for New Mexico [21] and Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Perea who was elected as a Republican to the Thirty-eighth Congress. Perea served in said position for two years (March 4, 1863 – March 3, 1865). [23]

One of those who resumed their life as a civilian was Colonel José Guadalupe Gallegos. Prior to the war Gallegos served in the New Mexico Territorial Legislature between 1855–1861. He was one of the founding members of the Historical Society of New Mexico and a founding associate in the incorporation of the New Mexican Railway Company [52] and the New Mexico Wool Manufacturing Company. However, little is known of what he did after the war with the exception that five years later he drowned in a mysterious accident involving his horse-drawn carriage. [17]

Captain Luis F. Emilio [28] went into the real estate business, first in San Francisco, and later in New York. Lieutenant Augusto Rodríguez became a firefighter in New Haven, proprietor of a cigar store, a bartender and saloon keeper.

Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Joseph H. De Castro was employed by the NY Barge Office when on May 8, 1892, he died in his home at 244 West 22nd Street. [53]

The former Confederate Colonel Santos Benavides resumed his merchant and ranching activities. He also remained active in politics. [36]

Colonel Ambrosio José Gonzales pursued a variety of vocations, all of which were marginally successful but, like many others, he never provided the security he sought for his extended family. His efforts were similar to those of other formerly wealthy Southerners who sought to recover their estates and social status. [54] Gonzales faced not only financial loss but also sorrows over the death of his wife and his sister-in-law's successful efforts to poison the relationships between Gonzales and his children. [34]

Major David Camden DeLeón moved to Mexico after the war. He returned to the United States at the request of President Ulysses S. Grant, and settled in New Mexico where he practiced medicine and wrote for medical journals. [24]


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