Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Arming the Army of the Potomac on the March: A Case Study

     In September 1862, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan not only faced the task of expelling Gen. Robert E. Lee and his Confederate army from Maryland but also of organizing and arming an army with which to do that. The Army of the Potomac was literally being built on its march towards an as yet unknown battle along Antietam Creek.
     Some corps and divisions fared better than others in the previous campaigns. The 1st Corps was in particularly rough shape as it trudged into Maryland. To resurrect it and restore its fighting spirit, McClellan appointed Joseph Hooker to command the corps. Of the troops under his command in September 1862, McClellan confided to his wife that the 1st Corps troops were "the only doubtful ones." They "are in bad condition as to discipline & everything else," he reported. "Hooker will however soon bring them out of the kinks, & will make them fight if anyone can."(1)
James B. Ricketts
     James B. Ricketts' 2nd Division especially needed a hand. In the recent Northern Virginia campaign, one member of the division speculated, "Our division probably done more marching than any other." The situation within the division was so bad that Ricketts' surgeons banded together and approached the commanding general with the ominous assessment that, in their opinion, "the division was physically unfit for duty."(2)
     The expediency of the dire situation forced by Lee's invasion into Maryland in September 1862 forced the Federals' hand. McClellan had to make use of what he could with what he had. The army's artillery arm was not in good shape. "Many had not been refitted since the August campaign; some had lost more or less guns; others were greatly deficient in men and horses, and a number wholly unserviceable from all these causes combined," wrote Brig. Gen. Henry Hunt, the man responsible for sorting out McClellan's artillery.(3) Certainly, one of those batteries Hunt dealt with was that belonging to Capt. James Thompson's Battery C, Pennsylvania Light Artillery.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Visiting the Graves of Anderson, Branch, Garland, and Starke

     George B. Anderson, Lawrence O'Bryan Branch, Samuel Garland, and William Starke are all names of Confederate general officers forever connected to the Maryland Campaign. The four generals were killed or mortally wounded during the operations in Maryland, one at South Mountain (Garland) and three at Antietam. I have made it a point to visit all of their graves on my travels throughout the years, and I have passed by the battlefield monuments noting their deaths numerous times. Below are some of the pictures and information on the Army of Northern Virginia's four general officers that died as a result of the campaign.