Thursday, September 26, 2013

Petersburg Maps

The operations of both armies in the Richmond-Petersburg campaign from June 1864 through April 1865 are complex and far-ranging. If there was ever a clear link from the set battle pieces of early to mid 19th century warfare to the continent/world spanning wars of the 20th century, this campaign has to be that link.

Maps that show coordinated operations in the theater have to cover a lot of territory; to see the place names and unit movements/fighting means text legibility; both of these together require digital maps that are very large in size, both dimensionally and by the megabyte. These are maps that do not fit easily into books. How to give readers enough information at enough detail is one of the puzzles Ed and I have to solve by the middle of 2014 when we plan to publish.

Just to illustrate: the line along Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg from Cemetery Hill to Round Top and across to Seminary Ridge, almost the entire engagement of that pivotal battle, fits into a map of operations on the South Side. The Gettysburg overlay is 2 miles wide by 4 miles tall and sits beside the engagements known as Poplar Spring Church -- Peebles Farm -- Pegram Farm which took place 30 September through 2 October 1864. Twenty thousand Union soldiers from four divisions in the V and IX Corps took three hours just to clear the lines on Friday morning; there was just one main road west and dense woods led to some caution as the columns approached them. A smaller number of Confederate soldiers under Heth, with support by cavalry detachments commanded by Hampton were able to give good battle in defense of the vital Boydton Plank Road and Southside Railroad over those three days.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Civil War Carded Medical Records and Geneological Research

Civil War historians and family researchers have long known about the value of a soldier's compiled military service record (CMSR) and pension file (PF).  Copies of both the CMSR and the pension file, which are filed in individual envelopes for each soldier, may be easily ordered from the National Archives.  See Military Service Records at the National Archives, Reference Information Paper 109 at 10, 43 and NATF Form 86.

The value of the carded medical records (CMR) (Record Group 94, Entry 534) is less well known, probably because these records are not as easily accessible.  The CMRs are filed by state, then regiment, and then roughly alphabetically within the regiment.  (To complicate matters, there are many mispellings and misfiles both within and between regiments due to miscommunication of information at the time of admission.)  (See Publication 109 at 10-11, 43)

 The CMRs compiled information from casualty reports and hospital reports.  Because a significant number of Civil War soldiers were sick enough to be admitted to hospital at some point and many were wounded, most Civil War soldiers will have a carded medical record.  For the 179th New York,  there are CMRs for roughly three-quarters of the soldiers.  The CMR contains details not present in the CMSR.  A comparison of the CMR and CMSR for  my great-great grandfather, James C. Rutan, Co. A, 179th New York Volunteers, demonstrates the additional detail available in the CMR relating to a soldier's wounds and sickness.

CMR                                                                                              CMSR

  July 30, 1864  Wounded: Right side (Missile: shell)            July 30, 1864.  Shell wound, right side
     Treatment: Simple dressing.  Sent to Depot
     Hosp. Aug. 1 City Point

  August 2, 1865 Admitted Depot Field Hospital,                 July-Aug 1864 (USAGH)  Sick
      9 AC, City Point.  Bruised

  August 5, 1864 Admitted to USA Hosp. Steamer
       Atlantic.  Sent to GH Aug 7, 1864

  August 9, 1864.  Admitted USA GH, Rochester, NY         Sept -Oct 1864 (179th) Absent sick
      Chronic hepatitus.  Deserted 9/11/64                              Sept 11, 1864 (USAGH) Deserted from
  November 12, 1864.  Returned to USA GH Rochester      Nov-Dec 1864.  (179th) Absent

  February 14, 1865.  Returned to duty from Rochester        Jan-Feb 1865.  (179th) Absent sick
                                                                                           Jan-Feb 1865 (USAGH) Sick
  February 18, 1865.  Admitted to USA General Hospital
       Ladies' Home, NYC from Battery Barracks, NY
       Pneumonia.  Transferred to GH April 4, 1865    

  April 5, 1865.  Admitted USA GH Elmira from                  Mar-Apr 1865.  (179th) Absent sick
       Ladies' Home.  Contusion right kidney 7/30/64              Mar-Apr 1865. (USAGH) Sick
       Missile: Wagon wheel

  April 18, 1865. Furloughed

  May 18, 1865  Discharged from service.                           May 23, 1865  Mustered out.      

                                                                                          July 11, 1891.  Charge of desertion removed.                                                                                                     AWOL 9/11/64 to 11/12/64.