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Correspondence (Union) - April 3, 1862

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Camp Near Columbia

April 3, 1862


Dispatch of yesterday received. The troops at Camp Chase are only fragments, and scarecely more than enough to guard prisoners. I am taking along the division which I designed to have provisionally in front of Columbia. I am not altogether satisfied to do it, but have diminished the force nearer Nashville to remedy it.


Camp Seven Miles South of Columbia

April 3, 1862 9 p.m.


My troops all on the march. I move ahead to join the leading division, now 40 miles from Columbia. General Sturgis is in Nashville. I have telegraphed him to report to you in Saint Louis. If General Stanley is sent to me I shall be pleased to have him.



Headquarters District of the Ohio

Nashville, Tenn., April 3, 1862


V. Unless it conflicts with special instructions he may have received or may hereafter receive from the Postmaster-General, Col. A. H. Markland, special agent Post-Office Department, will continue with and take general supervision of the mails for the Army of the Ohio until further orders.

By command of Major-General Buell


Assistant Adjutant-General

Headquarters District of West Tennessee

Savannah, April 3, 1862

GENERAL WILLIAM NELSON, Commanding Fourth Division, Buell's Army:

Your advance has arrived here. All difficulties in our neighborhood will be remedied before your arrival.


Major-General, Commanding

Headquarters Sherman's Division

Camp Shiloh, April 3, 1862

CAPT. JOHN A. RAWLINS, Assistant Adjutant-General, Steamboat Tigress:

SIR: I inclose herewith report of Colonel Taylor of his scout last night, and send, in charge of a guard, with one of my aides, Captain Taylor, the two prisoners--one prisoner of the First Alabama Cavalry, and the other a citizen, Dr. Parkes. Colonel Taylor is a most intelligent officer, and is fully impressed with General Grant's views relative to the unjust arrest of citizens. My orders to him were to molest no citizen, farmer, or mechanic whom he found at home or engaged in his usual legitimate pursuits. But this Dr. Parkes he found at a farmhouse on his way out, and afterward found him beyond, with attending circumstances to show he had given the other pickets warning whom I expected near Greer's.

My plan was to post in ambush Colonel Smith's regiment of Zouaves at Greer's on Lick Creek. They started at 8 o'clock p.m. last night, with two excellent guides. The cavalry of Colonel Taylor was to take the Corinth road and turn toward Greer's.

He executed his orders, capturing one of the enemy's pickets, whom I send forthwith for General Grant to question, as he is pretty intelligent. The Dr. Parkes I also advise should be held prisoner for having given important information to the enemy.

I have yet no reports from Colonel Smith, and expect him back momentarily, when I will communicate the result of his scout.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding Division

Headquarters Division

Camp Shiloh, April 3, 1862

COLONEL BUCKLAND, Commanding Fourth Brigade:

SIR: You may march your entire brigade to-day forward on the Corinth road about 3 miles, by way of drill and instruction. When you reach the hill, send companies as skirmishers to the right and left a mile or so.

Do not molest people quietly at their usual occupation as farmers, mechanics, but all persons armed, uniformed, or suspicious bring in as prisoners.

Keep your men together, unless detached as companies, and allow no firing unless you encounter an enemy.

I am, &c., your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding Division

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Sometimes "interesting information" hides in plain sight...

When Manassas Belle posted the above information a few years ago, one particular and curious telegram escaped notice: the 3 APR 1862 telegram (9 p.m.) of Don Carlos Buell to Major General Henry Halleck, sent from the telegraph line that General Buell was stringing from Nashville while he marched the Army of the Ohio towards Savannah. The concerning bit of information is reference to Brigadier General Samuel D. Sturgis (who had spent his Civil War in Missouri, involved at Battle of Wilson's Creek (and given credit for safely withdrawing Union forces north after the death of General Lyon) and also involved in the failed relief of Lexington (which resulted in capture of Colonel Everett Peabody and the 13th Missouri Infantry.) In December of 1861, MGen Halleck (who replaced Fremont in November) sent Sturgis on a "Tour of Inspection, focusing on Federal Army posts along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers" [according to S.D. Sturgis, USMA Class of 1846 entry on Cullum's Register.] And on March 5th 1862 General Sturgis found himself at Nashville (where he remained, "attached" to Buell's Department of the Ohio up through the time the telegram was sent on April 3rd.)

Reading Buell's telegram, three likely scenarios present IRT Brigadier General Sturgis:

  • Buell was dissatisfied with his performance, so left Sturgis behind at Nashville;
  • Buell used the reference to Sturgis as opportunity to press for assignment of Brigadier General David S. Stanley USMA Class of 1852 (then with Pope at New Madrid) to Army of the Ohio, should that officer become available;
  • Sturgis had been sent to Nashville by Henry Halleck, to act as liaison between Buell's Department and Halleck's Department.

Why is the role of Samuel Sturgis important? It is known that Civil War telegraph communications were periodically intercepted, and so the most secure communication of sensitive information remained the courier, with that information delivered verbally, and not written down. Next best delivery system: "coded telegrams" (which if intercepted, the enemy could not read.) Given the nature of Halleck's operations (his trust of John Pope, and sharing of confidences with Don Carlos Buell, while NOT trusting Ulysses S. Grant) I believe it likely that General Sturgis operated as go-between, facilitating coded messages to pass between Generals Halleck and Buell, and allowing Major General Grant to be kept "out of the loop." I believe it also likely that "a special code" shared by only Halleck and Buell (delivered by Sturgis to Nashville) allowed passage of coded messages through Cairo, without fear of interception by friends of Grant or Sherman.

As of the time of writing, the above is purely speculation. 

In any event, Brigadier General Sturgis departed Nashville on 10 April 1862.

Reference:  http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/America/United_States/Army/USMA/Cullums_Register/1303*.html


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