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OhioatPerryville

Hello from Ohio at Perryville

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Just dropping by to say hello and wishing everyone the best of holiday seasons!

 

I host the Ohio at Perryville blog, lead tours there at Perryville on occasion, and also own Walking With History LLC.  My Shiloh interests are focused on the Army of Ohio and those Confederate troops that are involved with the Kentucky Campaign.  

 

I hope to make my first journey to Shiloh in 2017...almost embarrassed to say that I have never visited the park or its environs!

 

Darryl

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I had the opportunity to visit the  Perryville battlefield twice in the last few years, like Shiloh,  a civil war site that remains virtually unchanged and is quite beautiful. I visited in October, right around the anniversary of the battle. I bought a book and read it as I walked over the battlefield and saw that some  of the key locations were private farms, including a spot known as the 'high watermark of the Confederacy in the west'. After I have completed my project on the 77th Ohio, I would like to focus a bit more on the Perryville campaign. Definitely take the time to visit Shiloh Darryl.

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Darryl

Welcome to SDG. Looking forward to your discussion of the merits of Don Carlos Buell.

All the best

Ozzy

 

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Hello Darryl, I saw on your blog that the area I mentioned earlier known as the high watermark of the Confederacy a.k.a. the goat farm, has been purchased by the civil war trust, and that is great news. 

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Slightly off topic, a few years back I traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, on business and would always stay an extra day or two and rent a car and in addition to going to Perryville, I had the opportunity to visit Abraham Lincoln's birthplace where a miniature Lincoln memorial sits on a little hill where his families cabin once stood. Lincoln himself never remembered living there.  His second boyhood home Is down the road about nine miles along Knob Creek on what was once the main highway between Louisville and Nashville. This is where Lincoln's earliest memories were. A few years later his family left Kentucky and moved across the Ohio River to a remote area of Indiana. The reasons for this touch on the issue of slavery which will not be discussed here. On another trip I had a chance to visit the Indiana location as well and you can begin to develop a feeling of connection to the man. An incredible journey from dirt poor farm boy to President. I've never had a chance to visit Springfield or the locations in Illinois, but hope to before long. 

 

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On 11/27/2016 at 7:40 PM, Ozzy said:

Darryl

Welcome to SDG. Looking forward to your discussion of the merits of Don Carlos Buell.

All the best

Ozzy

 

Merits might be a strong word, but I think my take on DCB is a bit more inline with Engels.  DCB was a bit of a tough bird, but also was personally brave (several soldier accounts after Shiloh were favorable towards DCB), and he was a decent administrator.  His inability to be flexible was his major shortcoming, as he made plans without considering what the enemy might do.  And I one one that does not buy into the acoustic shadow at Perryville.  I believe old DCB wanted to fight on the 9th after his movement and attack orders on the 8th were not executed in a timely fashion (and they were not issued in the most timely of fashions either), and he refused to believe that the fight could occur on the 8th because his new orders were to attack on the 9th.  The enemy never factored into his mind.

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On 11/27/2016 at 8:33 PM, rwaller said:

Hello Darryl, I saw on your blog that the area I mentioned earlier known as the high watermark of the Confederacy a.k.a. the goat farm, has been purchased by the civil war trust, and that is great news. 

Indeed it is, and the Friends group has already done a lot of work in the area getting it back to an 1862 appearance.  I am looking forward to when I can take tours to the new area once it has been interpreted.

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On 11/27/2016 at 9:10 PM, rwaller said:

Slightly off topic, a few years back I traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, on business and would always stay an extra day or two and rent a car and in addition to going to Perryville, I had the opportunity to visit Abraham Lincoln's birthplace where a miniature Lincoln memorial sits on a little hill where his families cabin once stood. Lincoln himself never remembered living there.  His second boyhood home Is down the road about nine miles along Knob Creek on what was once the main highway between Louisville and Nashville. This is where Lincoln's earliest memories were. A few years later his family left Kentucky and moved across the Ohio River to a remote area of Indiana. The reasons for this touch on the issue of slavery which will not be discussed here. On another trip I had a chance to visit the Indiana location as well and you can begin to develop a feeling of connection to the man. An incredible journey from dirt poor farm boy to President. I've never had a chance to visit Springfield or the locations in Illinois, but hope to before long. 

 

The Lincoln birthplace is a nice little park, and I would suggest that folks who haven't been there and are in the area take an hour to make a stop.  The Indiana farm is a very cool site as well, love the fact that there is still a tiny and functional post office inside the park building!!

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Darryl

Thanks for the thoughtful summation of DCB. To me, Buell was a strict disciplinarian (but not to the level of Bragg), possessed a big ego; and suffered from a sense of entitlement, and a lack of charisma. But I also believe he was personally courageous and relatively skillful in the art of war. I believe mutual dislike (IRT US Grant)  played a major role in Grant choosing not to share any credit at Shiloh (especially after Buell highlighted-to-excess the shirkers cowering along the riverbank, as if they "represented" the sum of Grant's Army.) And I believe Don Carlos Buell illustrates the concept of the "Peter principle" and was elevated one level too many, beyond his capability... as eventually were John Pope Cook, George McClellan, John Pope and Henry Halleck. 

Regards

Ozzy

 

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Valid points, Ozzy.  DCB, much like McClellan and Bragg, would have been better served in an admin role.  They had the skills to organize as well as to increase the quality of supplies for their soldiers.  

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welcome to SDG ..this aniversary this April will be the 155th..and on that  Sat we will be having luminaries to view .will be worth the trip.

 

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Looks like Shiloh will be 2018 as I hope to travel with a few of my Chickamauga study group friends for that one.  2017 (besides two tours at Perryville, a couple at Cynthiana, a trip to Chickamauga, and a symposium in Indiana) will be Donelson in February (which will include Columbus/Belmont, Heiman, some hiking near Fort Henry, and Donelson proper).

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Darryl

Just happened to notice your plan to visit the site of Fort Columbus. If you have the chance, could you enquire:

  • how the Confederates got the chain and its anchor to Kentucky;
  • did it come off a ship, or was it (and the anchors) purpose-built;
  • how close did U.S. Grant and his attacking force at Belmont get to the Missouri anchor position of that chain?

I believe I read somewhere that each link in that chain was about a foot long, and weighed about fifty pounds, (and the total length of chain was about a mile) so the total weight of the "barrier to navigation" was not insignificant.

All the best

Ozzy

 

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15 hours ago, Perry Cuskey said:

I was remiss in welcoming you to the group earlier Darryl, but glad you've joined us. New perspectives are always welcome. 

Perry

No worries from my end, Perry.  Glad to be onboard!

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15 hours ago, Ozzy said:

Darryl

Just happened to notice your plan to visit the site of Fort Columbus. If you have the chance, could you enquire:

  • how the Confederates got the chain and its anchor to Kentucky;
  • did it come off a ship, or was it (and the anchors) purpose-built;
  • how close did U.S. Grant and his attacking force at Belmont get to the Missouri anchor position of that chain?

I believe I read somewhere that each link in that chain was about a foot long, and weighed about fifty pounds, (and the total length of chain was about a mile) so the total weight of the "barrier to navigation" was not insignificant.

All the best

Ozzy

 

The museum is closed this time of year but I will post what I find.  I'll check Tim Smith's book tonight and see what he has in there about Columbus as well.

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Darryl

Thanks for the quick reply. The reason I enquire about the Fort Columbus barrier chain is because I ran across an online article that indicates "the chain broke and sank of its own weight." This is problematic because I was under the impression the chain was buoyed by barges, and intact when U. S. Grant conducted his November 1861 raid against Belmont. And I have long suspected that one goal of that Belmont raid was to detach the barrier chain from its Missouri anchor, or for Foote's gunboats to break the chain (but that goal was not accomplished.)

Further, I was of the impression the chain remained intact until General Polk abandoned Fort Columbus in March 1862. (Until its removal, the barrier chain stretched all the way across the Mississippi River, protected by powerful guns at Fort Columbus and further defended by co-located torpedoes of proven ability.)

Cheers

Ozzy

 

Reference:  http://www.usgwarchives.net/ky/military/civilwar/columbus_belmont/chain.html  Fort Columbus chain 

 

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Well, not a lot of info for you.  While I did tour the park rather completely, not a lot of info on your specific questions.  I can address that each link was less than 12 inches in length (closer to eight) and weighed 19-20 pounds.  Those links are heavy, and the anchor alone was four tons in weight.  They would have had to use some sort of floatation device(s), but then a line of buoys would have tipped off any Union force that something was strung across the river.  

 

In terms of closeness at Belmont, Grant's troops got close, within yards most likely, but I do not believe they were they to do anything to the chain.  I have been skimming through Hughes' book, and not really seeing that as a goal.

 

Sorry for the lack of info, but even if the museum was open, not sure how much any staff person there might have known if they did not have some sort of info on the chain inside.

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Darryl

Thanks for dropping by old Fort Columbus and taking a look. My interest in the original Gibraltar of the West stems from the fact it rates barely a mention in school texts covering the Civil War, yet it is a primary reason why Foote and Grant conducted operations up the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers (and the Battle of Shiloh followed on from the Tennessee River expedition.) Fort Columbus blocked the way for Northerners to make use of the lower Mississippi River, and its reduction was seen as essential; but Henry Halleck determined that application of force directly against that fortified position was impractical. (General Polk had made the place almost impregnable over time, with 140 pieces of artillery mounted along a high bluff, a garrison of over 12 000 men, support from Commodore Hollins' gunboats, and of course, that chain.)

In January 1862, General Halleck made his final decision to turn Fort Columbus indirectly, through reduction of Fort Henry (plan proposed by Grant and Foote.) I believe the main reason Halleck agreed to this plan (which Grant asserts was re-submitted) was due to delay in arrival of 13-inch mortars from the foundry in Pennsylvania; and Foote's assertion that Fort Henry could be reduced without use of those mortars.

Meanwhile, Fort Columbus was a work-in-progress: Leonidas Polk continually looked for ways to improve the strength of his fortification, including the application of "submarine batteries" (torpedoes) in close proximity to the barrier chain to deter "tampering" with that barrier. In the attached link, U.S. Grant's message to Halleck of January 6th 1862 reports on the discovery of "torpedoes in close proximity to the chain." Upon receiving the report, General Halleck sent Flag-Officer Foote to investigate: Foote confirmed that one torpedo was found in place, in close proximity to the chain. In addition, a report was passed along concerning the "test" of one torpedo (when a coal barge engaged it, and was blown to pieces.) This may have been an accident, but the result confirmed the viability of Isaac Newton Brown's torpedoes.

(When Federal troops took possession of the abandoned Fort Columbus in March 1862, they found torpedoes that had been converted to land-mines, that had been intended to protect the eastern approaches to Polk's Fortress.)

Thanks again for your information concerning Fort Columbus

Ozzy

 

Reference:  http://digital.library.msstate.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/USG_volume/id/16840/rec/1   Papers of US Grant, volume 3, pages 375-377, including footnotes at bottom of entries details use of the chain; its protection by torpedoes; the explosion of the coal barge.

 

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Time did not permit me the chance to visit Fort Columbus but I did get a chance to make a quick visit to Cairo, Illinois, where I was able to see the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. It's glory days are long past but a couple of substantial architectural government buildings remain there, most notably the U.S. Customs House. Today its mainly a run down place with a few liquor stores with lotto tickets and even a couple of hookers. The hookers would definitely have been there during the war, but perhaps more out of sight, hidden away in some gambling and drinking establishments. In addition to the river traffic, railways brought thousands of soldiers from points north where they crowded the waterfront, which would have been lined with steamers. A once bustling place but now largely forgotten, with two aging steel bridges, one leading to Kentucky, the other to Missouri. 

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Here is an image of Confederate Fort Columbus, as it appeared at peak strength Jan/Feb 1862:

1862++COLUMBUS++ATLAS.jpg

 

Map created by West Point graduate George Cullum in 1862, and to be found in West Point Atlas. (Interesting that several sources, including this one, indicate the chain on the Missouri side was attached to a "capstan," while the Kentucky side was attached to a heavy anchor buried over ten feet underground. 

?CISOROOT=USG_volume&CISOPTR=16453&actio

Above is an image showing relative positions of Fort Columbus to Cairo, Fort Holt, Paducah, Smithland, Bird's Point and Island No.10 (near New Madrid.) From Papers of US Grant, volume 3, page 132. [On file with U.S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University.]

Ozzy

 

 

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Probably the most comprehensive description of Fort Columbus -- then and now -- that I have run across is attached (compiled by John K. Ross, jr. in 2009). Includes period sketches (from Harpers Weekly) and makes mention of the devastating floods of 1913 and 1927 (the 1927 flood erased half of the former site of Fort Columbus, but in process revealed the "lost" barrier chain and its Kentucky anchor.)

Cheers

Ozzy

Reference:  http://rosswar.blogspot.com.au/   Fort Columbus: Gibraltar of the West

 

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