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Ozzy

Letters of Tom Christie

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Ran across an excellent collection of letters, on file with the Minnesota Historical Society, and all forty available online:  The Civil War Letters of Thomas Christie. 

 

Born in Ireland in 1843, Tom Christie settled in Wisconsin with his family. And shortly after the start of the Civil War, Thomas and his brother, William, enlisted in Munch's 1st Minnesota Battery of Light Artillery (which operated two 12-pounder Howitzers and four 6-pounder brass rifled guns.)

 

The letters begin in December 1861, and continue until May 1865; they are letters from Thomas, written to his Father, his sister and another brother. And the letters are sent from Fort Snelling; Benton Barracks; Corinth; Vicksburg; on the march to Atlanta; Savannah, Georgia; Goldsboro; and New York City. (Unfortunately, there are no letters from Pittsburg Landing.)

 

A letter written to his Father, and dated October 18th, 1862, I found especially interesting: Thomas describes his actions as Gunner Number One, during the October 3-4 Battle of Corinth.  (All the letters are available in the original cursive hand-writing; or a transcript can be selected, for easier reading.)   http://www.mnhs.org/library/christie/corinth.php

 

Cheers

 

Ozzy

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Brother of Mine. The Civil War Letters of Thomas & William Christie edited by Hampton Smith. This is an excellent book that not only has Tom's letters but his brother Bill as well. Lots of background context as well.

A few years ago I based my anniversary walking/driving tours on following the activities of the 1st Minn., Munch's Battery, through the battle of Corinth. The Minnesota Historical society sent me a few newspaper articles written by Tom Christie and one included this which took place on October 3 on the Memphis Road :

" A funny thing took place here. The German Captain of a Missouri battery [Capt. Henry Richardson] brought up his fine 20-pound Parrotts, and took position near us. A drink or two of 'commissary' had filled him with something more than 'Dutch courage:' he pranced back and forth on his horse shouting:

'Vere are dose tam rebels? Vere are dey?'

Our Lieutenant (now Maj. Clayton of Bangor, Me.) who had charge of us all the way from Chewalla, said to him:

'There they are, Captain, coming up thru that hollow; you had better turn your guns in that direction and give them canister.'

Unfortunatly, Clayton had been promoted only recently, and so was wearing the chevrons of an Orderly Sergeant. Also, he was black with powder smoke. The Captain glared at him.

'Go pack to your gun, sir! I don't take orders from a tam Sergeant!'"

 

This little gem is found in the National Tribune, November 26, 1914.

 

Tom

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Tom

 

Excellent find...  Thanks for bringing the modern work to our attention. (Much like the case of the German gun Captain, I found that Tom Christie's Irish accent comes through in lyrical tones.)

 

All the best

 

Ozzy

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A brief, but interesting history of Munch's 1st Minnesota Battery of Light Artillery at Pittsburg Landing (until evening of April 6th):

  • arrived aboard the John Warner on March 18th, and assigned to Buckland's Brigade, Sherman's Division
  • one section of two 12-pounder howitzers accompanied Sherman's April 2nd Expedition to Chickasaw and Eastport
  • Evening of April 4th, Munch's 6-gun battery ordered to join Prentiss Division
  • Saturday morning, April 5th, completed movement of six guns, men and equipment to Prentiss' Camp
  • Morning of April 6th, battery engaged against Rebel attack (Munch taken away, wounded); one section of two brass 6-pounders (under Lt Fisher) forced to retire to the Landing for repairs to disabled guns; remaining four guns engaged in fighting withdrawal with Prentiss
  • Reaching the Sunken Road/Hornet's Nest area, two 12-pounder Howitzers (Lt Peebles) positioned to left of Prentiss' Division, in line with infantry; two brass 6-pounders (Lt Pfaender) embedded with WHL Wallace's line of infantry, well right of Prentiss, between 14th Iowa and 12th Iowa
  • At 4pm, the order given to send all artillery back to the Landing. Hickenlooper's 5th Ohio Artillery are followed away from the Hornet's Nest by the two sections of 1st Minnesota Light Artillery
  • At 5pm, four guns of 1st Minnesota Light Artillery are observed arriving at Grant's Last Line, and put into position near the far eastern end: the last Union artillery pieces to be successfully withdrawn on Sunday.

Cheers

 

Ozzy

 

 

References:  http://thisweekinthecivilwar.com/?p=863    Brief history of Munch's Battery at 'this week in the Civil War'

 

http://archive.org/stream/minnesotacivil01minnrich#page/640/mode/2up    Minnesota in the Civil War (see page 640)

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TomP made reference to Brother of Mine: the letters of Thomas and William Christie some time ago... but I only just got around to taking a look at that book. And found that there are letters written by the Christie brothers in April 1862 (several letters within days of the battle.)  Why is this significant?

  • one of those early letters mentions the Sunken Road (on April 26th 1862) as a "sunken road"
  • clarification of the actions, Day 1 of Munch's 1st Minnesota Light Artillery, in front of Prentiss' camps early in the morning;
  • clarification of the actions of that artillery, after withdrawal from its initial position, to vicinity of the Sunken Road (and how the three sections operated independently of each other: the left section of 12-pounder Napoleon howitzers (Lieutenant Ferd Peebles) continued to operate with BGen Prentiss, and was in advance of his line of infantry; the right section of 6-pounder James rifles (Lieutenant Pfaender) was donated to WHL Wallace, who placed those two guns between his 14th Iowa and 12th Iowa infantry; and the center section of 6-pounder James rifles (Lieutenant Fisher) which was damaged during the early-morning action and sent to Pittsburg Landing to be repaired.)

The Minnesota Historical Society has not made these April letters available online; I'll be getting my own copy of "Brother of Mine" in the near future...

Ozzy

 

 

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I'm new here and just saw this thread. I've looked into the First's action on April 6 quite a bit. In his April 30, 1862 report Pfaender stated that the 12 lb Howitzer section was his when it accompanied Sherman on the April 2, 1862 expedition upriver/south and east. While it's possible that he and Peebles switched section commands between April 2 and April 6, that wouldn't make much sense but obviously I don't know for certain. I've seen nothing suggesting that. We do know that Fisher's section contained the two damaged guns that went back to the Landing.. I'm also not sure that the four 6 pounders can be called "James" rifles. Hurter refers to them as "3.67'"" rifles and the bore appears to have been a true 3.67" (rather than 3.8") because the fourth quarter 1862 return for the First shows a supply of 3.67" projectiles (for the two remaining 6 pounder rifles). Another oddity is in William Christie's April 15, 1862 letter to his father,. He states that in his left section  "Of the men, No. 3 on our gun and No. 1 on the howitzer were shot dead". By referring to "the howitzer", the implication is that the two remaining sections were reconfigured so that each had one rifle and one howitzer. Nothing else in any of the Christie letters, Pfaender's and Hurter's writings, or Clayton's letters refer to this. It strikes me as bizarre to deliberately create that mix of calibers/types and ordnance in a section.   

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Welcome to Belfoured! In answer to your query, the following is offered:

James rifles were an early solution to the need for rifled artillery at the start of the war. Six-pounder bronze guns could be rifled to fire the projectiles invented by Charles T. James. Some were simply rifled from their initial 3.67" bore, others were reamed to 3.80" then rifled. Reaming to 3.80" was preferred to eliminate wear deformities from service.[26] Nomenclature for the two sizes could be muddled and varied, but the effective descriptions for the 3.67" are "rifled 6-pounder" or "12-pounder James rifle", while the 3.80" variant was known as the 14-pounder James rifle. To add to the confusion new bronze (and a few iron) variants of the 3.80" bore rifle (14-pounder James rifle) were also produced with a longer, heavier tube utilizing the Ordnance profile.” [Wikipedia “Civil War Artillery”]. From the above, a 3.80 inch rifled bore was referred to as “14-pounder.” Munch's four brass rifled guns were referred to as “6-pounder.” http://www.mnopedia.org/group/first-battery-minnesota-light-artillery This article also refers to Munch's Battery as “two 12-pound howitzer smoothbores and four 6-pound James rifles.”

During the Battle of Shiloh, Lieutenant Pfaender took overall command of the Minnesota Battery upon the wounding of Captain Munch, and withdrew the battery to the rear. As the new line was being formed (Hurlbut's Division, with Prentiss's remnant extending west of Hurlbut) Lieutenant Pfaender reported to General Prentiss and was given position, with Peebles to the left, and Pfaender to the right [https://archive.org/stream/minnesotacivil01minnrich#page/642/mode/2up pp.642-4].

In Brother of Mine: the Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie, page 43 (notes) there is this description of Munch's Minnesota Battery: “The battery was divided into three 2-gun sections, with the Left Section (manned by the Christies) consisting of two 12-pound Howitzers...” On page 40 Thomas Christie indicates he was, “in the same section as Lieutenant Peebles.” Therefore, the conclusion is drawn that Peeble's section, to the left of Pfaender in the Hornet's Nest, operated the howitzers.

Kindest Regards

Ozzy

 

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Ozzy: Thanks for the welcome. Given Pfaender's April 30 report stating that his section (the howitzers) accompanied Sherman on April 2, l think we still need something substantiating that he and Peebles switched sections after April 2.  I find William's phrasing  - "the howitzer" - to be strange. There's no rational reason why the sections would have been re-configured to have one howitzer and one 6 pounder. Your information regarding the "James" nomenclature is interesting. i think the "purists" might object to these 3.67" guns being labeled "James", because they would say the name properly refers to the ordnance."James" was pretty loosely used for any  bronze rifles. Because these guys had 3.67" projectiles as of their fourth quarterly report, I think it's logical to conclude that they were issued new 6 pounder rifles (Eagle foundry?) rather than re-bored smoothbores.  I just got Lanny Smith's two new books on the Union Army at Shiloh and he has a little confusion at one point about the First. The Sword and Daniel books have even more.    

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Belfoured

Thanks for your continued interest in Pfaender and Peebles and Munch's Battery. I have attempted to find primary sources that confirm your claims, but without success. There is indeed “a mystery” concerning WHO commanded the section of howitzers during the Chickasaw Bluff recon (Pfaender claims he did; but there is an almost complete lack of a roster of participants in that expedition conducted by Sherman; and without knowing full details (i.e. did other officers of the battery go along; was anyone sick and left behind at Pittsburg Landing), all that can be made are assumptions.) These are the best references I have run across with significant mention of the 1st Minnesota Light Artillery and its key players:

“Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars” (1890 – 93) [contains details not in 2005.]

“Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars” (2005) [contains info not in 1890 version.]

OR 10 parts 1 and 2

OR 52 part 1

Minnesota Historical Society http://www.mnopedia.org/group/first-battery-minnesota-light-artillery

http://libguides.mnhs.org/firstartillery 1st Minnesota Battery resources

The Battle of Shiloh: the Union Armies (2019) by Lanny K. Smith

Shiloh Discussion Group [a number of topics and posts on the SDG site, easily found by searching for “Minnesota” or “Munch” or “Pfaender” via Search Box at top of Home Page.]

http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/civwar04.pdf Report of the Shiloh Monument Commission

William Pfaender http://www.mnopedia.org/person/pfaender-wilhelm-1826-1905

William Pfaender and New Ulm http://collections.mnhs.org/MNHistoryMagazine/articles/30/v30i01p024-035.pdf

Brother of Mine: the Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie (2011).

 

Cheers

Ozzy

 

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