Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 14, 1863

August 14, 1863

---A Mr. A. T. Bowie writes to Gen. Ransom of the behavior of Union forces on the lower Mississippi River, telling of the depredations of the “Marine Brigade”---Army troops who operate Brig. Gen. Ellet’s curious squadron of river gunboats which had won the naval Battle of Memphis the preceding year.  Apparently, the foraging activities of these men has devolved into sacking and pillaging:

That on or about the 21st of July a company of marine cavalry (styling themselves of the authority of the United States, and whose play was their booty) landed at Judge Perkins’, or Ashwood Landing, La., dashed around Lake St. Joseph, inquiring for Mr. John Routh. On reaching his plantation demanded from him, first, his arms, which were given them. They then burst open a barrel of whisky, made all of the negroes drunk, and in that way learned where his valuables were, consisting of silver-ware, liquors, meats, clothes, table and house linen, and even scuffled with him for his purse. They took the amount of $25,000 worth of property-$15,000 of silver-ware,and perhaps the largest and most valuable private collection of table and house linen in the southern country.

Mr. Routh is an old man of nearly seventy years; had his house, gin, barn stables, and everything burned last spring at the [time the] others on the lake had lost their property. These marines also threatened to take him prisoner; did take his grandson, Mr. Andrew S. Routh, prisoner, who is now, it is said, in jail at Vicksburg. Andrew had not been in jail at Vicksburg. Andrew had not been in the army since last April; has been with his grandfather assisting him in taking care of his property. He had been ordered back to Colonel Harrison’s regiment, but determined to put in a substitute, in order that he might remain with his grandfather, and this was his position at the time he was taken off by Ellet’s marines. Mr. Routh is all alone, and wishes Andrew to live with him.

General Grant is informed of the incident, and in a letter to his adjudant-general, gives order to “beach” the Marine Brigade and to turn their boats over to the transport service.  Grant adds that he believes it “highly probable the charges brought against the Marine Brigade are exaggerated. But that this conduct is bad, and their services but very slight in comparison to the great expense they are to Government and the injury they do, I do not doubt.”

---Gen. Meade confers upon Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren the command of the II Corps of the Army of the Potomac, due to the severe wounding of Winfield S. Hancock at Gettysburg.

---Ephraim Shelby Dodd, of Co. D of Terry’s Texas Rangers (8th Texas Cavalry Regiment), writes in his diary of life in camp in Georgia, as part of Bragg’s Army of Tennessee:

Thursday, 6th, to Friday, 14th—Nothing but roll call, inspection, dress parades and drill. We are living high on peach pie. I have made a few acquaintances, but don’t find the hospitality that we did in Tennessee.

Troopers from the 8th Texas Cavalry - Terry's Texas Rangers

---Captain Josiah Marshall Favill, a young English immigrant in the Union army, now serves on the staff of Gen. Caldwell, who commands a division in the Army of the Potomac.  Favill is given the post of the division’s judge advocate, and all criminal cases are tried before him.  Here, in his diary, he details the proceedings of the courts, and describes the melancholy details of a military execution:

I entered upon the duties of division judge advocate immediately, and soon became fascinated. All courts martial sitting in the division, are detailed and organized through my office. I make the selection of officers and the adjutant general details them. We have now three courts in operation, one of which I serve as judge advocate. . . . It is surprising how many delinquents there are in the army. The Irish brigade is a great sinner in this respect. . . . A military execution is a very solemn and impressive pageant. The doomed man marches to his own funeral, to the solemn music of the band, in presence of the whole command. In the two cases mentioned above, the utmost pomp and display was made, to render the executions as impressive as possible. The whole division paraded in full dress, and in column of division, marched upon the ground following the prisoner, led by the band, playing the “Dead march” in Saul. A squad of men from the provost guard immediately followed, then four men carrying the coffin on their shoulders, with the prisoner walking close behind, his buttons and regimental insignia stripped from his clothing; a few files of men with muskets loaded, and bayonets fixed, marched directly in rear of him, the firing party under command of the provost marshal. Then follows with arms reversed, the entire command, marching in step to the solemn cadence of the music. Arriving upon the field, the troops form three sides of a square, while the band, prisoner and provost guard march directly forward to the unoccupied side of the square, halting before a grave already dug. The bands wheel out of line, the bearers of the coffin place it on the ground, close by the new made grave, the prisoner is marched up and seated on the coffin, while the firing party halt a few paces in rear. Then the adjutant general advances and reads the proceedings of the trial, the sentence, and the confirmation of the general-in-chief. Immediately afterwards the prisoner is blindfolded, still sitting on his coffin, and the command is given to “Aim! Fire!” and the lifeless body of the unfortunate soldier falls over, invariably dead. It is certainly an awful and solemn duty, yet necessary for the safety of the forces. The execution over, the bands strike up a lively air, and at a quick step the troops march back to their camps.

No comments:

Post a Comment