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Ozzy

SGT Thompson, 3rd Iowa, Co. F

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On the morning of the 6th of April, Sergeant Seymour Thompson was a twenty-year old member of 3rd Iowa, Company F, eating breakfast with his messmates, when the growing sound and increasing frequency of musket fire to the south and southwest became concerning. But with the booming of not-so-distant artillery, there was no mistake: the Federal camp at Pittsburg Landing was under attack. The long roll trilled and SGT Thompson joined his fellows in ranks for the march south to aid General Prentiss' 6th Division... but General Stephen Hurlbut halted his men well short of Prentiss' camps -- made aware of that Division's disintegration by the swelling stream of wide-eyed skeddadlers racing north -- and Sergeant Thompson and the rest of the 3rd Iowa found themselves arranged in a line of blue, stretching roughly east-west across a cotton field. And not long after the stragglers thinned out a bit, Thompson caught his first sight of the enemy:  "The Rebel regiments with their red banners flashing in the morning sun marched proudly and all undisturbed through the abandoned camps of Prentiss. To the enemy's surprise, suddenly appeared our line of blue, widely deployed upon the open field, the ground sloping towards him, and not a brush to conceal us from his view: a single blue line, compact and firm, crowned with a hedge of sparkling bayonets, our flags and banners flapping in the breeze. And in our center a battery of six guns, whose dark mouths scowled defiance at him.

"The enemy's infantry fronted towards us and stood. Ours kneeled and brought their pieces to the ready... Thus for some moments, the antagonists surveyed each other... until a regiment on our left opened fire, and the other regiments got caught up, and the fire was carried along the entire line..."

Thus relates Seymour Thompson his initiation into the Battle of Shiloh in his 1864 book, Recollections with the 3rd Iowa Regiment. Nearly forty pages of this 400-page history are devoted to arrival at Pittsburg Landing and subsequent battle. The first hundred pages relate the forming of the regiment (and trouble arising from the political "selection" of Colonel from outside the regiment, in opposition to the usual practice of vote of members); and everything one could ever want to know about guarding railroads in northern Missouri. The book concludes with Thompson's discussion of 3rd Iowa's disastrous participation in the Battle of Jackson, Mississippi in July 1863. Because only two years passed between Battle of Shiloh and publication of the book, many unexpected insights and revelations are included IRT how that battle was fought; what chance the Confederates had of winning; and observations of early-career U.S. Grant, W.T. Sherman and John Pope.  And Stephen Hurlbut comes in for criticism early on (during operations in Missouri); but over the course of Days 1 and 2 at Shiloh, Hurlbut experiences a transcendence in the view of the author, and most of the men of the 4th Division. Available at archive.org (free site for out-of-copyright books).   

Ozzy

 http://archive.org/stream/recollectionswit00thomp#page/n3/mode/2up

 

N.B.  SDG member, Hank, first made mention of this work by Lieutenant Thompson several months ago... but I only just got around to it.

 

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Thompson wrote a "review" of the skills and character of Surgeon Edwards starting of page 185. In this day of anonymous character assassination on the internet, his stands out! The regimental nurse tried to get Edwards fired while the 3rd was at Quincy in late '61. 

 

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Rbn3

Thompson wrote about "a lot of things" in his 1864 work. And I cannot help but marvel at the forthright and candid information presented by Seymour Thompson in his Recollections. Some of the gems:

  • Why Northerners fought (pages 16-18)
  • First impression of General Stephen Hurlbut (page 70)
  • The "problem" with Colonel N.G. Williams (page 62)
  • Concise description of Benton Barracks (and why the author believed Benton Barracks and its window-less quarters acted as incubator for disease) page 169;
  • Sergeant Thompson was unhappy to learn the 3rd Iowa had been assigned to Hurlbut's Division during the Tennessee River expedition (page 191)
  • Description of 1862 Savannah, Tennessee (page 195)
  • Hurlbut's General Order No.4 of March 17, 1862 (page 200)
  • Description of Pittsburg Landing and its camping ground atop the Bluff (page 202)
  • "In a week or ten days after our arrival on March 17, the roads dried out." (page 202)
  • Mistakes made in preparation at Pittsburg (page 205)
  • What was necessary for the Rebels to win Day 1 at Shiloh (page 205)
  • Battle of Shiloh (pages 208-216)
  • Thompson witnessed U.S. Grant and two or three Staff officers [Hillyer and Rowley?] riding back of the 3rd Iowa line not long after 10am (and reports that he did not see General Grant again until that evening, when Grant was in company with General Buell on the Bluff above Pittsburg Landing (page 216)
  • Stephen Hurlbut (who has been excoriated by Thompson, until now) earns respect at Shiloh (page 218)
  • Cooperation with Benjamin Prentiss (and evaluation of Prentiss) pages 226-230;
  • Buell arrives!! (page 230)
  • Hurlbut's rise in the eyes of his men complete (page 249).

In addition, Seymour Thompson indicates by the flow and progress of his own writing that this Recollection is constructed from a diary he kept. (There is no other way to have such a grasp of detail, with even minor experiences recorded.) Also, on page 278-9 Seymour Thompson records that "he had to resort to another 3rd Iowa diary in order to include detail concerning the regiment during the time he was seriously ill" [early June 1862, upon completion of the Capture of Corinth]. Another 3rd Iowa diary is out there (and it may belong to Charles P. Brown of Company D.)

A reading of Thompson's Recollections reveals a man with a streak of the Larrikin (the whole 3rd Iowa seemed to possess an attitude of irreverence); but also Seymour Thompson reveals a sense of right and wrong, that over the course of his War experience evolved into a heightened perception of justice and injustice. Upon conclusion of hostilities, Thompson became a lawyer; later in life he became a noted Judge in New York.

In regard to Surgeon Thomas Edwards, there is not enough direct information contained in Thompson's work to reveal what it was that made the Regimental Surgeon repugnant to him and others. But there is innuendo sprinkled throughout the Recollections... and I note that Edwards resigned from the Army on April 8th 1862, when competent medical practitioners at Pittsburg and Savannah were most needed.

Ozzy

 

 

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Thank you for an excellent review/summary of Thompson's book, which is, as you say, nearly a diary. Ambrose Bierce's "What I Saw at Shiloh" (first published in London in 1872) is another fairly detailed "almost" contemporaneous description of the evening of the 6th (when Bierce arrived with Nelson) through Monday, etc.

Edwards was accused by Thompson of being a jerk, but also dereliction of duty.

P.S. Is this your self portrait?

Capture.JPG

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Hey... I thought I burned all those.

Actually, the Larrikin doesn't have so much a look, as an attitude: irreverence for authority, but gets the job done on his terms. Of the Civil War regiments I have studied, the 3rd Iowa seems to have the attitude... as do the Jessie Scouts... and Nathan Bedford Forrest...

Ozzy

 

 

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On 1/3/2017 at 6:17 PM, Ozzy said:

In regard to Surgeon Thomas Edwards, there is not enough direct information contained in Thompson's work to reveal what it was that made the Regimental Surgeon repugnant to him and others. But there is innuendo sprinkled throughout the Recollections... and I note that Edwards resigned from the Army on April 8th 1862, when competent medical practitioners at Pittsburg and Savannah were most needed.

The situation with Thomas Edwards is not simple. I have not obtained enough info yet to flesh it out, but his resignation was tied to an arrest. I don't know what the arrest was for, but per an article printed in the Cedar Falls Gazette on 4/11/62 by "St Charles":

Near Pittsburgh, Tennessee, March 27 1862 –
....  Today surgeon Edwards was ordered under arrest, and I understand that he will have a speedy trial.

Philo Chapman's diary (also March 27) mentions "Edwards & Darrow" - which I take to mean there was some event regarding the Surgeon and drum major George Darrow who may have been suffering from tuberculosis (if i interpret Chapman's earlier hints correctly, which is not easy).

Chapman on the 31st writes: Old Edwards [Edwards was 52] lost his horse last night -- choked to death -- he & [Surgeon Daniel] cool are fighting again & the sick are neglected.

Chapman announces on Apr 15 that Edwards resigned. "Old Edwards resigned [?]  & gone Hurrah"

On April 18 "St Charles" again wrote to the Gazette explaining: "Dr. Edwards is no longer a member of the Iowa third.  He did not choose to stand trial and a proposition came from someone that he would resign if the charges were withdrawn.  The resignation was sent in when the charges against him were withdrawn the resignation accepted and the doctor took his departure from Tennessee." (Gazette, May 2, 1862)

Also, Edwards was treating soldiers between his arrest on 3/27 and when he left. Kellenbarger mentions him Monday, Apr 7 tying to find the minie ball in his shoulder "...probing around in the wound for some time and almost killing me...." ("The War Years")

Tim J 

(pardon me if this is too much info for a minor event - on an old post)

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Rbn3 - thanks. I read that Mrs Amigh was against Edwards, but haven't yet found anything concrete on his arrest. I would very much like to learn more about Ophelia, particularly during the war. If you have any sources you can point me to I would appreciate it.

As far as Edwards - my take on him is that he must have been very gifted (elected to congress, professor of medicine, etc), but there was something about his personality prevented him from being able to work with/live with the same people for long. he kept moving here and there.... I'm glad you mentioned the Lincoln connection. it hadn't occurred to me that Edwards' stint in the House was the same as Abe's.

Tim

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Tim

I have been collecting material on Ophilia Amigh for some time. I am going to be away for a week or so. When I get back I'll post some more info (scanty) on her career in the Civil War. I have some Dr. Edwards material also (also scanty). Edwards and Lincoln were not on the same committee but were in the same Congress. Edwards participated in one of the great American medical controversies of the 19th century over who discovered anesthesia.

Rbn3

Lincoln Edwards.JPG

Morton Jackson Edwards.JPG

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A bit more on T.O. Edwards from The History of Dubuque County, Iowa, Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns, &C., Biographical Sketches of Citizens, War Record of Its Volunteers in the Late Rebellion ... General and Local Statistics. Chicago: Western historical company, 1880.

His daughter married Gen (?) William Hyde Clark. 

The definition of "such injuries" would probably include court-martial. It seems half the officer Corps was under arrest at Shiloh at a critical time. Much of this seems to have revolved around the use of ardent spirits. Maybe alcohol explains Edwards' checkered career, characterized.

T O Edwards son in law Gen Wm Hyde Clarke.JPG

T O Edwards bio p784 Hist Dubuque.JPG

 

T O Edwards MD.JPG

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Dr. Edwards returned "home" to Lancaster, Ohio after "leaving" the 3rd Iowa. He did not return to Dubuque. However he and his two sons had gone to Pike's Peak in 1860 but without success. It is a long story only tangentially related to Shiloh, but Edwards was an adversary of Asa Horr in Dubuque in a professional kerfuffle that also involved Dr. Patrick Gregg of Shiloh fame. Edwards "entire time and attention" ran out in mid-April 1862.

He ran a pharmacy in Cincinnati in the early 1850's and drug addiction is an occupational hazard for both doctors and pharmacists. The allusions to an opiate problem does not seem at all impossible given his erratic behavior - "other stimulants" have also been mentioned (which usually is a euphemism for alcohol).

He rushed to aid of his fellow congressman former President Adams when the latter collapse from a stroke on the House floor. Some have written that he and Lincoln were pallbearers. Lincoln was on the committee for arrangements but I do not find confirmation that he was a pallbearer, though Calhoun and Benton were. see: https://uschs.wordpress.com/tag/death-and-funeral/

Edwards wrote to U.S. Grant about Andrew Johnson. I'm pretty sure Grant did not remember him!

The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant January 1-September 30, 1867 Edwards to Garnt.JPG

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Ha! - I'm at  my dad's this week, and this morning I told him about these 2 cool books that I ordered last night ... he pointed over to one of his bookcases and showed me one of them (Tarnished Eagles).

 

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I have bought second copies of books all on my own because I forgot I had it or couldn't find it. No better way to find the original than to buy another one - never fails. Lowry has published about 20 books, some of them appear to me to be just retitled reprints. OTOH he and his wife scoured the NA's for material that we mere mortals could not access without moving to Washington. 

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Teaser on old Tom O....

A complex man who inspired his allies and infuriated his adversaries...what is expected in the Age of Jackson. I have not yet decided how to judge him but he is a more sympathetic character than the Col Williams supporters portray him. Still, Ophelia Amigh did not like him and she was an excellent judge of character.

Tom O Edwards Biography 1,2.pdf

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