The Civil War History of the
Volunteer Infantry Regiment, USA
THE BEGINNING: A CALL TO ARMS
July through November, 1862
During this time period, these battles and events occurred in the Civil War.
Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan and his cavalry begin
raiding in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Gun boat comes up James River with Lincoln to see McClellan.
McClellan gave Lincoln "Harrison's Landing letter" a letter telling him what
to do and what not to do. John Pope takes over for McClellan.
The Confiscation Act becomes law. Slaves of persons fighting
the Union are to be seized as "contraband of war."
Union and Confederate forces clash at Gaine's Mill, Virginia, one
of a series of battles in General George McClellan's unsuccessful
campaign to capture Richmond.
Aug 5, Battle of Baton Rouge, La.
Aug. 9, Jackson defeats Federals at Cedar Mountain, Virginia.
Aug. 28-29, Union general John Pope's forces are dealt a severe blow at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). Generals "Stonewall" Jackson and James Longstreet command the victorious Confederates.
Aug. 29-30, Battle of Richmond, Ky.
Sep. 1, Battle of Chantilly (Ox Hill), Va.
Sep. 3, Lincoln restored McClellan.
Sep. 12-15, Siege and capture of Harpers Ferry, Va. (now W.Va.) "Stonewall" Jackson wins, capturing 12,000 Union troops.
Sep. 14, Battle of South Mountain, Maryland.
Sep. 14-17, Siege of Munfordville, Ky.
Sep. 17, Federals attack Lee at Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland; indecisive. Bloodiest single day of the war.
Sep. 19, Battle of Iuka, Miss.
Sep. 22, Lincoln issues preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
Oct. 3-4, Battle of Corinth, Miss.
Oct. 8, Buell's forces
ended Bragg's invasion of Kentucky in the Battle
Oct. 10-12, JEB Stuart
comes back to Maryland and circles
McClellan. McClellan is depromoted back to Trenton, New Jersey.
Ambrose Burnside takes over Union Army.
Nov. 5, Lincoln removed
McClellan from command and appointed
Ambrose Burnside to head the Army of the Potomac.
In July of 1862, the War of the Rebellion was 16 months old. It started out slowly for the first few months following the affair at Fort Sumter. But bloody battles, each increasing in carnage, had by then raged for a year.
A year before, on July 21, 1861, there was the Battle of First Bull Run (First Manassas), where the Confederates first used the railroads to rapidly transport reinforcing troops and turn the tide of a battle. The raw Federal troops were routed and scrambled from the battlefield, not stopping until they were safe in the nation's capital nearly 20 miles distant.
It was remembered as "The Great Skidaddle." It took the Union soldiers four days to march from Washington to the battle field at Bull Run. Most made it back in 12 to 18 hours.
In the next month, on August 10, 1861, there occurred the clash at Wilson's Creek (Oak Hills) in southwest Missouri. In that battle, Confederate forces from Arkansas, along with Missouri State Guard forces, were victorious over the Federals, even killing their commander, General Nathaniel Lyon.
Still at that time, most Americans were of the opinion, both North and South, that the conflict would be relatively brief. Those who predicted that it would be a prolonged and ugly fight, as did then Colonel William T. Sherman, were treated with derision and their warnings were dismissed as fancy delusions.
In Virginia the Confederates bloodied and befuddled Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley, as other rebel troops waited and prepared while the Federal Army of the Potomac swelled and drilled in Washington, D.C. It would be a few months before President Abraham Lincoln would finally persuade General George C. McClelland to move his army from their training grounds and onto the fields of battle.
In the meantime, in the Western Theater, General Ulysses S. Grant was on the offensive, attacking and taking both Fort Donelson and Fort Henry in Tennessee, using ironclad gunboats on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers in February of 1862. He then moved south up the Tennessee River and waited for General Carlos Buell to arrive with his divisions. Once together, their plan was to sweep south into the heart of Mississippi. The rallying point was at a place known as Pittsburg Landing, situated on the west bank of the river, near a small church named Shiloh.
In early April of 1862, General Albert Sidney Johnson and his troops were massed at Corinth, Mississippi, just 20 miles or so from Pittsburg Landing. General Johnson saw no advantage in waiting for Buell to join Grant. He decided to attack and destroy Grant before Buell could arrive. Johnson's plan very nearly succeeded.
Dawn of April 6 found the Confederates in line of battle marching north through the Union camps, driving the surprised and unprepared bluecoats before them. The end of the day's fighting resulted in the Federals forming their last defensive lines with their backs to the Tennessee River. But by then Buell had arrived and had begun ferrying his men across the river.
At around two o'clock that afternoon, General Johnson had been killed. General Pierre T. G. Beauregard took command of the Rebels. On the next day, facing Buell's fresh troops, the Confederates were pushed back and Beauregard decided to withdraw.
Most students of the Civil War, with whom this author is acquainted, often endeavor to engage in speculation on the various possible courses the war might have followed had certain events not taken place. General A. S. Johnson is often the subject of such speculation.
Many credible arguments have been forwarded maintaining it is highly likely, had General Johnson survived the war, that he would have probably changed the fate of the Confederacy. He was an experienced, revered and brilliant military leader. Some claim A. S. Johnson's accomplishments and fame would have exceeded Lee's had he lived to have the opportunity to fight beyond Shiloh.
In the two day battle at Shiloh, more American soldiers had been killed, wounded or captured, than in all of the previous battles of the previous wars in which the United States had thus far fought, combined. It was this slaughter that began to awaken everyone to the realization that the war would be anything but brief. Before it ended three years hence, the Civil War would endure eight battles exceeding the shocking casualties of Shiloh.
Meanwhile, back east, McClelland was engaged in the Peninsula Campaign, approaching the Confederate capital in Richmond, Virginia, from the east. Before that campaign was over the South would have a new commander, General Robert E. Lee. Cavalry General James Ewell Brown (JEB) Stuart would complete his daring ride around McClelland's entire army and McClelland would find himself and his army on transports, steaming up the Potomac and back to Washington. Richmond would be unscathed and remain secure.
It became evident to Lincoln that many more thousands of troops, beyond the 1,000,000 he had already raised, would be required to subdue the seceded states and force them back into the Union, if it could be realized at all. He called for 300,000 more volunteers. Missouri was destined to provide her share of these additional soldiers.
For all intents and purposes, Missouri was under the control of the Federal forces since the Confederate defeat at the Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern) in northwest Arkansas on March 7-8, 1862. This control extended to preserving an unelected, appointed government, and also to the press.
Hamilton R. Gamble, the appointed Missouri Governor, faithfully responded to Lincoln's call with a call of his own, appealing to the state's men to answer the call to arms.
In St. Louis, in the July 11 edition of the Missouri Daily Democrat, it was reported that, "...the Governor of Missouri responded to a call of the President for 300,000 more troops in the tone and spirit of a patriot." The state was expected to raise four regiments of infantry "...as soon as practicable for the United States service, for three years or during the war..."
Thus resulted the conception and formation of the 29th Missouri Infantry Regiment of the United States Volunteers. They were men from several walks of life, Missouri men, and they answered the call, enlisting from July through October.
Recruiters were dispersed throughout the state to places like Cape Girardeau, Commerce, Wittenburg, Bloomfield, Pilot Knob, Ironton, Fredericktown, Linn Creek, Booneville, Chillicothe, St. Joseph, Cameron and St. Louis, among other sites. Luring promises of $100.00 enlistment bonuses, known as "Bounties," helped attract recruits.
Enough men were enlisted in July and August to raise five companies. On September 5, Company A, and on September 6, Companies B, C, D and E mustered in at Benton Barracks in St. Louis.
Benton Barracks was a United States Army facility located in what is today's north St. Louis. 150 acres in size, it was leased from John O'Fallon on property that is now Fairgrounds Park. Completed in September, 1861 it was where enlistees and officers mustered into their companies and regiments. Clothing, equipment and arms were issued. This was where the new recruits experienced their first tastes of army life.
Besides forming and training new units, Benton Barracks was used as a base for paroled prisoners awaiting exchange. Benton Barracks ceased operations in December, 1865.
On the 12th of September, these first five companies were loaded on a steamer, one of several they would embark upon for the next several months, and sent down the Mississippi River to Cape Girardeau in southeast Missouri. The regiment was attached to the District of Cape Girardeau, Dept. of Missouri. It was from this area that a great many of the men in the 29th were recruited.
It was there they established Camp Cavender, named for the first Commander of the regiment, Colonel John S. Cavender. There they drilled, trained and participated in garrison duty while they awaited the formation and arrival of the rest of the regiment.
Companies G and H were mustered in on September 18 and Company F on the 19th. These three companies were sent down the Big Muddy to Cape Girardeau on the 22nd. Company I mustered in on September 25 and embarked on a steamer on the 30th.
The last recruits were mustered in on October 18 and comprised Company K, the tenth and last company of the 29th Missouri. They left for Cape Girardeau on October 22 for the one day journey down river from St. Louis. At this point, the 29th Missouri was as close to full strength as they would ever be.
Before they ever made it to battle, the ranks of the regiment would begin to thin. Several factors would contribute to this occurrence.
Some were discharged for unfitness, others deserted. However, disease would be the primary cause of losing men early on, and would remain so throughout the war.
The stresses of army life, poor medical care and contaminated water and food would afflict the soldiers. Men were crowded together and exposed to pathogens for which they had little or no resistance.
Soldiers were sickened and killed by measles, typhoid, smallpox and pneumonia. But the biggest killer was dysentery or chronic diarrhea.
It was not unusual for companies to begin with upwards of 100 officers and men and then find their strength reduced to 60 or 70, and sometimes even less, within the first six months of service. In the Federal armies, potential replacements were used instead to form new regiments.
While awaiting the arrival of Company K, the regiment was put to marching and scouting, as there were frequent reports of rebels in the area. On October 6, Companies A, D, F, H and I set out for Jackson, some 10 miles northwest of camp. They would turn around and march back the next day.
On the 8th, Lieutenant Colonel Peckham ordered Companies B, C, E and G to march ten miles down river to Commerce. They too would turn around and march back the next day.
On October 19 the entire regiment, still minus Company K, would test their marching legs with a longer march, 17 miles due south to Benton for a scouting mission. Once again they would march back the next day. Company K arrived three days later.
On October 30 the regiment, now complete with the arrival of Company K, left Camp Cavender and marched two and one half miles towards Jackson on the Jackson Road and established Camp Peckham. There was an election scheduled for November 2.
On November 1 a battalion was formed of several men from each company to be lead by Captain Phillip H. Murphy of Company A. It was reported that there were Rebels in Jackson hoping to influence the voting.
Company F contributed 32 soldiers, Company K sent 20 men and Company I sent Sergeant W. H. Gray and five men. It is not known how many were sent from the other 7 companies.
Apparently the Rebs knew they were coming. When the battalion from the 29th arrived in Jackson, they were informed that between 100 and 200 Rebels had left the day before. The battalion returned to Camp Peckham on November 2.
At that camp they drilled and awaited further orders. The wait was not long as they were ordered to strike camp and march to Camp Burnside near Patterson, Missouri, a distance of some 75 miles, and report to Brigadier General John Wynn Davidson, commander of the District of St. Louis.
On November 9 they broke camp and formed into a marching column. They proceeded west on the Jackson Road and marched nine miles to Camp Davidson. They spent several days there drilling and preparing to continue the march.
On the 13th they packed up and headed west, traveling ten miles to Camp Blair on the Whitewater River. On the 14th they crossed the river and moved another ten miles into Bollinger County, camping at Camp Peterson near Dallas (today's Marble Hill).
Next they pushed 18 miles to Camp Murphy on the Castor river. This area of Missouri becomes swampy. On the 16th they continued another ten miles to Camp Lincoln, the last stop before reaching their destination.
On November 17 they marched another 10 miles, crossing the St. Francois River and arriving at Camp Burnside, two miles from Patterson. They had to be tired and spent from marching 58 miles in four days, breaking camp each morning and pitching camp each evening, crossing three rivers and traversing swampland.
However, they were afforded little rest. They drilled and underwent inspections of their arms, ammunition and accoutrements. They were reviewed and inspected by General Davidson himself.
Their stay at Fort Burnside would prove to be short. They received new orders on the 23rd and left on the 24th, marching back to Cape Girardeau. They returned on November 29 and were stationed at Camp Burkardt on the banks of the Mississippi river where the drilled and fired their rifles daily.
Meanwhile, at the command level, plans were being laid to open the Mississippi by taking Vicksburg, MS. The 29th Missouri would be a part of these plans. No one in the regiment knew it yet, but within a month they would be in the thick of a great battle. The first blood of the regiment would be spilled, and spilled in abundence.
The story of the 29th is continued in the next chapter:
First Blood: Chickasaw
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