Camp 2140’s ancestors stories :

If you are a member of Lt. Stephen Dill Lee’s Caledonia Rifles

Camp 2140 and you would like to write the history of your ancestors

participation in the CSA during the war of Northern Aggression , you can do so here :

Responses

  1. Pvt Garrett Gowan : 15th Mississippi Infantry Reg.

    Early in the year of 1861 my great grandfather , Garrett Gowan , a resident of what was then known as Bluff Springs , Mississippi heard the call to duty from his homeland , the State of Mississippi .

    Upon the decision to secede from the Union of the United States, by the State Legislature of Mississippi ,and upon the official formation of the new Southern nation , The Confederate States of America, Garrett Gowan answered the call of his country ,by volunteering to be a member of the Long Creek Rifles . It wasn’t long before the Attala County soldiers , including the Long Creek Rifles , were marching towards Corinth Mississippi to be enrolled in the regular Confederate States Army . Garrett Gowan among them , the Long Creek Rifles became Company A of the 15th Mississippi Infantry Regiment .
    Garrett served many a long and hard campaign, and many a desperate fight , among them the Battles of Mill Springs and Shiloh ,and both of the confrontations at Corinth . He watched as the ironclad ram CSS Arkansas plied down the Yazoo River to wreak havoc on the Yankee fleet standing off Vicksburg. He helped besiege Baton Rouge, briefly helped garrison both Port Hudson and Jackson MS, and fought at Champion Hill and the Big Black River Bridge . Finally he was captured and later paroled at Vicksburg. Whereupon I think he just went home. However his younger brother, my great Uncle Isaac, enlisted to take his older brother’s place , and became a member of the 5th Mississippi Cavalry , riding under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest until the end of the war .
    Both of these men did not wait to be conscripted, both volunteered to serve and fight for their country ,when the call went out. I imagine they had their gripes and probably wished more than anything that they could just go home , maybe every day!
    But they fought and they served and they did their duty . What’s more they put their lives on the line in respect for what their country, the Confederate States of America, stood for . They did not question it , although they may have criticized it a little . They honored it greatly.

  2. Henry Ashmore and the Battle of Mill Springs, KY

    My great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side was William Henry Ashmore. This short article will give a little information on him but will mostly detail his one great battle at Mill Springs, KY, more correctly known as the Battle of Logan’s Crossroads.

    Henry was born in 1828 somewhere in Alabama. His Civil War experience began as he was mustered into service on 27 April 1861 at Bluff Springs in Attala County, MS by L.D. Fletcher, Captain of the ‘Minute Men of Attala’, at the age of 33. His enlistment was for 12 months. His sign-up sheet indicate that he came from the Kosciusko, MS area. Henry’s muster record states that he was 6 foot, 3 inches tall, which was tall for people in those days. Most only averaged between 5’ 7 and 5’ 10.

    The Attala companies traveled to Corinth, MS where the regiment was organized starting on 21 May 1861. He was mustered into the 15th MS Infantry Regiment, Co. A, nicknamed ‘Long Creek Rifles’, on 27 May 1861, Captain Lamkin S. Terry commanding. Col. Winfield S. Statham commanded the regiment. Another member of Company A was Garrett Gowan, ancestor to our Hawaii member, Robert Gowan and profiled in another account on the blog.

    The 15th remained in Corinth until ordered to Union City, TN along with the 14th MS. The units were then ordered to Russellville, TN on 13 Aug 1861 for duty with Gen. Felix Zollicoffer’s 1st Brigade and then moved on to Knoxville, TN. The 14th and 15th MS were among several of the early regiments that were outfitted with the state issued uniform. The distinctive gray uniform with red facings was issued and worn long past 1861.

    Just to the north of Tennessee was the border state of Kentucky. The Confederacy intended to hold on to the waffling state and in accordance with this strategy, a tenuous ‘defense line’ ran from one end of Kentucky to the other – in reality just a few strong points and towns strung out from east to west, not a fortified line. The 14th MS was ordered to Cumberland Gap, while the 15th marched towards Barboursville, KY. It was during this expedition that Henry experienced his first combat on 21 Oct ’61 as the 15th and other regiments skirmished with a Union brigade under Gen. Albin Schoepf at Camp Wildcat, on the Rockcastle hills. It was a small affair with only 15 killed and 62 between the two sides. The Confederate force returned to Cumberland Gap with a captured wagon train of salt to show for their efforts.

    The 15th returned to KY on 7 Nov 1861, and on 14 Nov they entrenched and went into winter quarters at Wartburg, KY, south of the Cumberland River. Gen. Zollicoffer then decided to move his forces north across the Cumberland River to Beech Grove, KY in early December, putting his regiments into winter camp there and digging a line of entrenchments to protect his camp. In early January, 1862, Maj.Gen. George B. Crittenden arrived to take command of the forces at Beech Grove. The 15th had moved to Beech Grove on 20 Nov 1861 and spent the holiday season there with 854 men present for duty. They were the largest regiment in Crittenden’s army. The Confederates had some 6500 men in the area, including cavalry and artillery.

    Opposing the Confederates were Federal forces under under Gen. Schoepf at Somerset and Brig. Gen. George Thomas at Lebanon. Thomas’ superiors feared that Crittenden’s forces would attack and overwhelm Schoepf, so they ordered the Federals to concentrate west of Somerset, near Fishing Creek. Poor weather and bad roads kept Thomas from reaching the area until January 17, when his forces camped at Logan’s Crossroads, a key intersection nine miles west of Somerset and about nine miles north of Zollicoffer’s camp at Beech Grove.

    Crittenden was determined to attack Thomas before Schoepf could join him and the Confederates thought that heavy rains would make Fishing Creek impassable, keeping Schoepf from joining Thomas at Logan’s Crossroads. Schoepf still managed to send three infantry regiments and an artillery battery to Thomas’ support, giving the Federals a force of some 4500 men. Unaware of this reinforcement and wishing to attack the Federals before they could concentrate their strength, Crittenden ordered an advance of the Confederate army at midnight on January 18, 1862. The stage was set for the battle of Mill Springs.

    THE BATTLE OF MILL SPRINGS

    After marching north for six hours through a cold rain that turned the road into a sea of mud, the vanguard of the Confederate force arrived near Logan’s Crossroads about 6:30am on January 19, intending to surprise the Federals in their camps. Dawn attacks became a Confederate hallmark, later to be repeated at Shiloh in April 1862.
    At the foot of a ridge a mile-and-a-half from the crossroads, the advance Confederate cavalry met a strong picket force of Thomas’ 10th Indiana Infantry and 1st Kentucky Cavalry regiments. Far from being surprised in their camps, the Federals were on the watch, and this picket force stubbornly resisted the Confederate advance up the hill. When the attacking Southerners reached the high ground, the Union pickets were reinforced by the rest of the 10th Indiana, and this force stood its ground against the advancing Confederates.

    Zollicoffer’s brigade was in the lead and the 15th Mississippi was first, in line of battle advancing up the Mill Springs Road, with his other regiments following. These were the 19th Tenn, 20th Tenn, (Todd Carter’s regiment), and 25th Tenn. This force was more than enough to push the Federals off the hill and into the woods below. However, the dawn was dark and misty, and the Confederates were spread out for miles along the narrow muddy road, slowing their advance. After fighting for nearly an hour on their own, the 10th Indiana and 1st Kentucky Cavalry were almost out of ammunition and in danger of being overrun. They fell back to a rail fence bordering a corn field, on a low ridge running perpendicular to the road. Here they were finally reinforced by the 4th Kentucky Infantry, and this fence line and ridge formed the basis for the main Federal battle line. The 10th Indiana fell back a short distance to regroup and the troopers of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry sent their horses to the rear and fell in beside their infantry comrades in the 4th Kentucky.

    Unable to push this force further back, the 15th Mississippi began to move to their right flank under cover of a deep wooded ravine. From here, they could approach the Federal lines before engaging their enemy at close range. This also gave the following Tennessee regiments room to come on line. This infuriated the commander of the 4th Kentucky, Col. Speed S. Fry, who climbed up on the fence and brandished his sword at the enemy, demanding that they “stand up and fight like men”.

    As one writer says “The Mississippians were eager to oblige him.”

    After advancing nearly to the ridgeline on the west of the road and almost flanking the Federals on their right, the Confederate advance on that part of the line stalled. Most of the soldiers had never been in a battle before and the dark rainy morning, coupled with the smoke and din of battle and the lack of visibility in the dense woods, produced quite a bit of confusion. Gen. Zollicoffer, leading his brigade from the front with the 19th Tennessee Infantry, was sure that his men were firing on another Confederate regiment, and rode forward in the road to reconnoiter. Just at the point where the road ran into the trees he met Union Col. Fry, who had ridden to his right for the same purpose. Neither recognized the other and Zollicoffer ordered Fry to cease firing on his friends. Fry, assuming Zollicoffer was a Federal officer whom he did not know, and also unsure of who the troops to his right were, answered that he would never intentionally fire on a friendly unit. As Fry moved back toward his own regiment, Capt. Henry M.R. Fogg of Zollicoffer’s staff suddenly rode out of the woods to warn Zollicoffer, firing his pistol at Fry. Fry and the Union soldiers near him immediately returned the fire, and Zollicoffer fell dead in the road. Capt. Fogg was also killed in the volley.

    A contributing factor in Zollicoffer’s demise was the fact that he was extremely near-sighted, and may not have recognized Fry’s Federal uniform in the rain and smoke. Zollicoffer’s death threw some troops on that part of the field into confusion, and with no brigade commander to lead them, many made no further significant advances on the west of the road. Infuriated by the death of the well-liked Zollicoffer (which they considered murder), the 15th Mississippi and 20th Tennessee regiments launched a series of furious attacks on Fry’s position, some even reaching the fence, where they fought the Federals hand-to-hand. Bayonets were poked through the fence rails, and the Mississippians attacked swinging their long “cane” knives.

    Now the Confederates moved ever toward their right, threatening to turn the Federal left flank. But a section of Federal artillery appeared at the crucial moment and threw shells toward the Confederates, as the 2nd Minnesota and 9th Ohio regiments arrived to bolster the Union defenses. The Federals now had over four regiments at the point of action, opposing three Confederate regiments in direct contact with their enemy — less than ideal odds for the Southern attackers.

    General Crittenden, in his after action report wrote:
    “For an hour now the 15th MS under Lt Col Walthall and the 20th Tenn under Col. Joe Battle, had been struggling with the superior force of the enemy. I cannot omit to mention the heroic valor of these two regiments, officers and men. When the left retired they were flanked and compelled to leave their position.”

    The 25th and 28th Tennessee regiments had moved forward on the 15th’s left to support them in the desperate fight, but weather and obsolete technology conspired to defeat them. Most of the Confederate forces, particularly the Tennessee regiments, were armed with obsolete flintlock muskets. Only the 15th Mississippi, 16th Alabama, and 29th Tennessee were for the most part armed with percussion muskets and rifles. The 15th had many Mississippi rifles with sword bayonets. Company G, the “Grenada Rifles,” furnished their own Mississippi rifles with saber bayonets, purchased by the men. Others of the 15th Mississippi had percussion muskets (probably flintlock conversions) firing buck and ball ammunition.

    One Southern soldier wrote afterward that, “The rain was descending in torrents and our flint lock muskets were in bad condition; not one in three would fire. We did the best we could with our old flint locks. Mine went off once during the action, and although I wiped the ‘pan’ and primed a dozen times it would do so no more.” Another participant estimated that only a fifth of all Confederate muskets would fire. In their frustration, many of the Tennesseans were seen smashing their useless flintlocks against trees as they fled to the rear.

    Adding to the Confederates weapon woes was poor generalship by Crittenden, who did not bring up forces fast enough to concentrate on Federal weak points. Some speculate that Crittenden may have been drinking during the battle, but it is certain that the rain and mud also slowed any reinforcements. Inexplicably he made no attempt to flank the Union forces with the two battalions of cavalry he had at the battle site (casualty figures after the battle show only one cavalryman wounded) .

    As things began to swing against the Confederates, the 16th Alabama moved forward to support the 15th, but by now the Federals were finally able to concentrate their forces. Three new Union regiments arrived to outflank and outnumber the hard fighting 15th Mississippi and 20th Tennessee, and Union Gen. Thomas, sensing the imminent collapse of the Confederate line, ordered a general advance of the Union force. The 9th Ohio Infantry, a German regiment from Cincinnati, charged with fixed bayonets and the Confederate left (Tennessee regiments) crumbled under the Ohioans’ bayonet charge.

    The 15th Mississippi and 20th Tennessee were forced to retreat to keep from being surrounded. The courageous Lt. Bailie Peyton, Jr., commanding a company in the 20th Tennessee was killed when he refused to retreat or surrender, but stood firing his pistol at the advancing enemy.

    The entire Union line advanced, forcing what was left of the Confederate army back to the top of the hill from which they had originally attacked. Here, the 16th Alabama, 17th and 29th Tennessee regiments opened a heavy fire on the Federals, momentarily halting their pursuit and allowing the front-line Confederate units to safely retreat.

    “For most, the retreat turned into a rout. Many of the men simply turned and ran, throwing away their muskets and other implements of war in their haste to escape capture. Their courage and determination were simply not enough to overcome their fatigue from marching all night over muddy roads and fighting since dawn, their despair when their outmoded flintlocks refused to fire in the rain, and the confusion and lack of decisive leadership at their command level. After some three or four hours of hard fighting on a dark, rainy morning, the battle was over”.

    Both the 15th Mississippi and 20th Tennessee managed to fall back to the Beech Grove entrenchments on the north bank of the Cumberland, along with the remnants of the army. However Federal artillery arrived and began shelling the landing where a small steamer was being used as a ferry. Realizing the position was untenable, the Confederates retreated to the south side of the river during the night, with the 15th providing rear guard cover. As soon as the regiment crossed over they burned the ferry and all the boats so the Federals could not pursue.

    They Confederates left behind all of their artillery pieces and wagons and most of their horses and camp equipment. When dawn on January 20th arrived and the Federal infantry moved against the Confederate works, they found the camps abandoned and Crittenden’s force safely across the river.

    Several of the Southern battle flags reported by the Federals as ‘captured’ at Mill Springs were actually taken from the abandoned baggage trains. Some regiments carried only one flag into battle, storing extra company flags, while others had multiple company battle flags in the battle line. The 15th Mississippi alone lost six flags in this engagement, several being captured by the 2nd Minnesota as the two units battled on the fence line.

    The Federal forces reported 246 casualties of the battle, including 39 killed in action. The Confederates suffered 533 casualties, including more than 120 killed in action. The bodies of Gen. Zollicoffer and Lt. Peyton were returned to their families, who had them buried with honor in Nashville. The remaining Southern dead were left on the field to be buried in mass graves, many near the site of Zollicoffer’s death. Crittenden finished his report on the actions of the 15th by saying:
    “The regiment was gallantly led by Walthall. The reputation of the Mississippians for heroism was fully sustained by this regiment. Its losses in killed and wounded, which was far greater than any other regiment, tells sufficiently the story of discipline and courage. The limits of this report will not permit me to enumerate the individual acts of courage with which this regiment abounded. Suffice it to say that it is entitled to all praise.”

    The regiment had 44 killed, 153 wounded and 29 missing.

    The South lost more than men at the Battle of Mill Springs. The defeat caused their defense line to collapse in eastern Kentucky, leaving the region itself under Federal control and eastern Tennessee open to invasion. The subsequent losses of Forts Henry and Donelson, both just over the border into Tennessee, forced all Confederate forces to retreat out of the state. Though the South would try to retake Kentucky later in 1862, the failure of this effort meant that the state remained firmly in control of the Union for the rest of the war.

    The story of the 15th Mississippi went on: through Shiloh, the campaign to relieve Vicksburg, fighting in Georgia around Atlanta, and the disastrous Tennessee Campaign. But Henry’s part in its history ends after Mill Springs. His records show him being discharged on 5 February 1862. Since this was a few months before his one year enlistment was up, we can speculate that he may have been sick or wounded in the battle and sent home. They may have also let him go early since the army was about to be reorganized later the same month.

    What’s in a Name?

    The battle of Mill Springs holds the record for the number of names given to a single Civil War battle. While many battles have a couple of different names (Southern troops tended to name battles after nearby towns, while Northern troops picked streams or rivers), Mill Springs has at least nine.

    During the War, the Confederates usually called it the battle of Fishing Creek, and the Federals often called it the battle of Logan’s Cross Roads (reversing the normal usage mentioned above).

    In addition to Fishing Creek, Logan’s Cross Roads, and Mill Springs (and variants such as Mill Creek, Mill Spring, and Mills Spring), the battle has also been called the battle of Somerset, Webb’s Cross Roads, Nancy, Cliff (or Clifty) Creek, Old Fields, and the Battle of the Cumberland. Obviously, some of these names are rather dubious, as Webb’s Cross Roads is over ten miles from the battlefield, and the town of Nancy did not exist in 1862.

    The best name would probably be Logan’s Cross Roads, since that was the immediate area of the battle. Fishing Creek is about four miles from the battle site, and Mill Springs is over nine miles south, on the other side of the Cumberland River. But over the years, and especially in modern literature, the battle has come to be best known as Mill Springs. Today Logan’s Crossroads is called Nancy and is located 8 miles west of Somerset at the intersection of highways 80 and 235.

    Submitted by: Adjutant Jessie Riggs

  3. Augustus L. Riggs

    Augustus Luckie Riggs was my great-great-grandfather on my father’s side. He enlisted into the Mississippi state army at Iuka, MS on 6 Apr 1861. He was a 32-yr old carpenter. He was placed in Company K, 2nd Regiment, Mott’s Brigade, State Army under Capt. J.M. Stone – ‘Iuka Rifles’ . The company moved out for Virginia and arrived at Lynchburg, VA on 9 May 1861, where they were mustered into Confederate Service on 10 May 1861 as Company K, 2nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment. The 2nd then moved onto Harpers Ferry, VA and then back to Winchester, VA in June 1861

    The first action for the 2nd was also the first major battle of the war, at 1st Manassas on 20 June 1861. The regiment had 25 killed, 82 wounded, and 1 missing.

    Between July 1861 and through most of 1862, Augustus was sick for a long time and records show that he had a stoppage in pay of $2.75 for a government issued blanket. The winter camp of the 2nd was near Dumfries, VA until March 8, 1862, when the brigade was moved to Fredericksburg, and then to Yorktown in April.
    March & April 1862 – Absent, Sick
    May & June 1862 – Sick at Danville, VA

    The register for Chimborazo Hospital No. 2, Richmond, VA states that Augustus was admitted 17 June 1862 for diarrhea, then transferred 28 June 1862 to Danville, VA 29 June 1862 for dysentery. It must have been a very serious case because he was in the hospital until November 1862.

    While he was gone, the 2nd Mississippi saw a lot of action and it is just as well that he missed it:
    – Battle of Seven Pines May 31 and June 1.
    – Sent to reinforce Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, arriving at Strasburg June 18, and a few days later returning to make the flank attack on McClellan’s army on the Chickahominy River.
    – Seven Days Battles – 25 June 1862 to 1 July:
    Battle of Gaines’ Farm – 27 June 1862. 21 killed and 79 wounded.
    Battle of Malvern Hill – 1 July 1862. 1 killed and 10 wounded.
    – Battle at Thoroughfare Gap (Chapman’s Mill) – 28 August 1862.
    – Battle of Second Manassas – 29 August 1862. 9 killed and 69 wounded.
    – Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam) -17 September 1862. 27 killed and 127 wounded.

    Returning to the Shenandoah Valley after Sharpsburg, the 2nd was ordered to Richmond to join the Mississippi brigade under Gen. Joseph R. Davis and arrived at Richmond 17 November 1862.

    Augustus finally returns to duty from Danville on 25 November 1862. The regiment was ordered to North Carolina, reaching Goldsboro about 15 December 1862. Left for Blackwater Bridge, Va., 2 February 1863 where it stayed a while. On 8 April 1862, they moved to Suffolk, VA to help besiege Union forces there, withdrew on 3 May 1862 back to Blackwater Bridge, VA. Left Blackwater Bridge for Fredericksburg, VA on 3 June 1863 and was attached to Heth’s Division,
    A. P. Hill’s corps, in preparation for Lee’s invasion of the North.

    From Dunbar Rowland’s regimental history:

    July 1, 1863 – With the main Confederate army beyond South Mountain, Heth’s division was ordered to move toward Gettysburg, Pa., where the presence of Federal troops was reported. Heth sent the brigades of Davis and Archer ahead to observe what strength the enemy had.

    On their long march from below Richmond and into Pennsylvania the 2nd Regiment, after being out all night on picket, had stopped for breakfast at Cashtown, and then marched eastward on the Gettysburg road, the men having no idea a battle was at hand. Within a mile of Gettysburg, resistance was encountered. Heth reported that Davis advanced, driving the enemy and capturing batteries, but was unable to hold the position he had gained against the overwhelming force that assailed him. “The brigade maintained its position until every field officer save two were shot down and its ranks terribly thinned.”

    Davis first encountered John Buford’s dismounted cavalry, the advance guard of the Blue, as the Mississippians were the advance of the Gray army, already turning rapidly from its northward course to follow in forced march the movement to Gettysburg. “Often as the opposing forces had exchanged hard blows in the last two years the encounter on the Willoughby run marked a new epoch in the war,” writes an English commentator, Cecil Battine. “Never before had the Federal troops displayed the same confidence in themselves and eagerness to engage. The tenacity with which they clung to their ground imposed on the Confederate infantry, who expected only to have a weak detachment to deal with.” When Wadsworth’s division came up to help Buford the Mississippians were driven back with heavy loss. The 2nd, after defeating a New York regiment, was pushing in for a flank attack on Wadsworth’s line, but the left wing got into the railroad cut through the ridge west of the seminary and there was subjected to an enfilading fire from the end of the cut. Though some persisted in fighting surrender was inevitable. Colonel Dawes, 6th Wisconsin, reported that Major John A Blair, commanding the regiment (Second Mississippi Volunteers), surrendered to him his sword and command, including 7 officers and 225 men.

    Augustus’ records show him as ‘wounded and left in hospital near Gettysburg, 1st July 1863,’ where he was subsequently captured by the Federals and transferred to the charge of the Provost Marshal along with other wounded Confederates. He was eventually transported to DeCamp Hospital on David’s Island in New York Harbor arriving sometime between 17 and 24 July, 1863. David’s Island is a small island at the northeastern end of New York harbor off New Rochelle that was leased by the US government for use as a POW hospital during the war. Interestingly, Confederate records list Augustus as being held on ‘Devil’s Island’.

    On 24 October 1863 Augustus was transferred to Bedloe’s Island for confinement at Ft. Wood. Bedloe’s Island would later become Liberty Island and home to the Statue of Liberty. His confinement was short lived – he died on 5 Dec 1863 from ‘phthisis’, an old medical term for either tuberculosis or a ‘general wasting away’.

    Record of Death and Interment – Copies to Surgeon General and Adjutant General, U.S. Army
    Sir:
    It becomes my duty to inform you that the person above described died at this Hospital as herein stated; and that it is desired his remains should be interred with the usual military honors.
    Respectfully,
    John S. Billings,
    Asst. Surgeon, U.S. Army

    He is buried in grave 952 in Cypress Hill cemetery in Brooklyn, NY – a rather nice cemetery from the looks of it – with many sections of military graves. He was ‘lucky’ in death this way, since his family now knows where he rests while thousands of his fellow soldiers lie unmarked and forgotten.

    Submitted by Adjutant Jessie Riggs


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