Sunday, 29 January 2012

Mississippi Naval Academy Brigade

As I'm nearly finished assembling the Confederate Army of Oxford, I wanted to added a couple of unique units to give the army a bit more color. Inspired by the Virginia Military Academy cadets who fought at the battle of New Market, I thought it would be fun to add a similar unit to my army.

Here's the story. With the outbreak of hostilities in 1860, Mississippi assembled its own naval academy, knowing that control of the river would prove crucial. However, by 1864, with the river completely under Union control, the cadets were re-equipped and retrained to fight as infantry, but kept their distinct uniforms.

The miniatures are by Empress Miniatures and are intended to be British soldiers during the Maori War. They are really top-notch miniatures, and it is definately worth finding an excuse to work them into your army. (Click on the images to get a larger view)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

J. S. Walker's Twenty-Ninth Letter

Camp near Youngs Mill
Warwick Co., 19th Sept., 1861

My dear Wife:

                I received yesterday yours dated 17th relative to Boggs, and asking if I would give to the Missionary Cause. Yes, give $20.
                Since writing from Camp DeSoto we have twice changed and are now the advance post towards the enemy, being only eight miles from Newport News. Those in command here are daily expecting an attack from Gen. Wool, but I think they are mistaken. I think the old man has too small a force and is only playing a little brag game with us. He may, however, come, and if so I hope we will give him a Bethel setting back. Our Regiment needs very much a head. Col. August is alone with us and I hope Col. Stuart will soon appear. We are at last receiving reinforcements down here and will soon be able to give old Wool a fight. I thank the Lord my trust is alone in Him and not in the weak arm of flesh. I hope he will continue with us and still more signally prove that he is Lord and host in battle, but our soldiers as a genera thing are very immoral and profane and I fear if his blessings don’t turn them to Christ and turn them from their evil way that in love for their souls he may chastise them.
                Pray for the convicting grace to descend upon our army. I have the opportunity of writing, and am thankful today I am still well. I read Thompson Brown got home.
                Kiss the dear children.  Love to all.

                                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                                                Jno. S. Walker

Have you gotten your winter coal, if not, write to Mr. Wooldridge to have 250 bus. sent you and keep coal house locked.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Marching with Great, Great, Great Granddad

As it turns out, Santa Claus does read blogs, and this year, under my tree, was a prettily wrapped present containing For Cause and For Country by Eric Jacobson and Richard Rupp. I’ve only just started reading this account of 'the Affair at Spring Hill and the Battle of Franklin', but I’m already very much enjoying it.
Basically in late 1864, after the Confederates had abandoned Atlanta, General John Bell Hood led the butternuts on their last major offensive in the Western Theatre. After a chapter of introduction, the book gets down to business with the Confederate advance into Tennessee.  Leading that advance was Cheatham’s Corp, which contained Brown’s Division, which in turn contained Gist’s Brigade, which included the 16th South Carolina Volunteers, led by Col. James McCullough .   While individual regiments rarely get mentioned in large campaign histories, I can easily follow my ancestor's basic course as part of the larger organizations.
As the Confederates started off into Tennessee, they were caught up in a terrific snowstorm. I’ve read numerous accounts of marches through bad weather, but there was something different knowing that those snowflakes stung the face of my ancestor. I could imagine the scene like never before.
I can’t wait to see what the rest of the book will bring.

Monday, 16 January 2012

J. S. Walker's Twenty-Eighth Letter

Warwick C. H., 16th Sept., 1861

My dear Wife:

     I write to let you know that after a sojourn here of one day with all the trouble of pitching our tents, we have to pull up and pitch again five miles below here, near Young’s Mill, seven miles from Newport News. Our commanding officers anticipate an attack from Gen. Wood very soon, tho I do not.
     You must expect great irregularity in hearing from me, as I will be a long way from a post office.
     I am in excellent health, and tho the sickness of the Regiment increases daily, I am as well as usual, but if I get sick you may rest assured I will get home, as there are no facilities here for making a sick man comfortable.
     Kiss the dear children and remember me affectionately to all friends.

                                                Yours very affectionately,

                                                                Jno. S. Walker

In haste.

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Confederate

One of my best Christmas presents this year actually came a week or two prior to the holiday, when my co-worker P- presented me with this piece of artwork. P- has a lot of contacts among military artists and, knowing my love of the Civil War, and especially Confederate history, he convinced one of them to paint this for me.  The piece is by Fabien, a man best known for his work in French comic books. 

What I really like about the piece is how much the figure resembles a 28mm miniature like the ones I am fond of painting.  It is just waiting for a suitable frame.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

CSS Manassas

Over the weekend, I was reading an article in an old issue of America's Civil War Magazine about the very first Confederate Ironcload, CSS Manassas.  The little image above claims to illustrate the ship, however, if that is true, it is missing a smoke stack.  What interested me most in the article wasn't the short career of the ship, but rather the reason for its creation.

Apparently, when the war broke out, a New Orleans businessman constructed the ironclad over the frame of a tugboat to serve as a privateer.  It's the first time I've ever heard anyone mention the idea of a river privateer, and I'm still not exactly sure how it was expected to work. I guess the Confederates never foresaw how quickly most of the river would be blockaded.  However, the concept gets stranger the more one examines the ship.  As was true of most ironclads, the CSS Manassas was slow, ponderous, and unreliable. Considering the most important trait of any privateer is speed, using an ironclad is certainly curious.  But there is more. The Manassas sported only one gun that was fixed forward. The gun was to be fired at point-blank range, right before the ship rammed its opponent.  This actually proved an effective tactic in Mississippi river warfare, but how does it work for a privateer? What good is ramming your prey and putting a big hole in the hull if you are trying to capture the ship intact?

In the end, it didn't really matter. Rather predictably, the ship was seized by the Confederate Navy to use as a warship, a task for which it was much better suited.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

J. S. Walker's Twenty-Seventh Letter

Camp DeSoto,
12th Sept., 1861

My very dear Wife:

                I have an opportunity of writing today and avail myself of it. We are at such an out of the way place that I write when I have a chance.
                I have not heard from you since I left, but feel no uneasiness on that account, since I know that the Lord reigneth, ruleth, and protecteth my family better than I could. Should you fail to hear from me for some time together, attribute it to the want of opportunity to write and not as you most likely would do, to sickness, etc. I am thankful to a good Father above for health of body and mind, and I hope an increasing spiritual experience. I am thrown entirely on my own dependence now upon the Lord, for everything in our Regiment is going to the dogs, and I understand Col. August is to return to us from Richmond, but the Lord can provide a way of escape from my surrounding troubles, and I will trust him to the end.
                I am pained to hear that Frank Boggs has turned out a perfect sot and had to resign his post as Captain. The temptations of camp to dissipation are very strong, and tho I think occasionally a drink is good for the health, yet I have determined to forego it altogether even should I be sick for it, lest my example should lead others astray, and yet the abuse is the sin and not the needful use.
                                                Kiss the dear children for father. In great haste,

                                                                Your ever affectionate husband,

                                                                                Jno S. Walker