Old Army Lingo: Countersign and Parole

One a.m., Monday, August 17, 1863, Lieutenant Colonel James W. Carr made his prescribed nightly guard post rounds as field officer of the day at Point Lookout, Maryland.  Carr and his escort approached the post manned by Private Martin A. Haynes, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry.

Photo portrait of Private Marin A. Haynes, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry
Private Martin A. Haynes, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry frequently referred to performing guard duty in dozens of letters written to his wife. Haynes, therefore, had to know the daily countersign on a regular basis.  Photograph courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library.

Upon seeing the unknown figures in the darkness, Haynes announced “Halt! Who goes there?”  Following regulations the sergeant escorting officer of the day announced the daily countersign “Glendale”, Carr then confirmed the parole “Cowdin”.

The scenario outlined above is largely based on fact.  We know from a letter written by Haynes that he was on guard duty that night.  Documents recently digitized by Old Army Records confirm that Carr served as field officer of the day and we know the countersign and parole used that day.  Countersigns and paroles were an integral part of an army service record.  Yet, until now little has been published on their specifics.

Definitions

The 1889 U.S. Army regulations succinctly define the two words used in the performance of guard duty.  “The ‘countersign’ is a word given daily to enable guards and sentinels to distinguish persons at night.  It is given to such persons as are entitled to pass and repass during the night, and to the officer, non-commissioned officers, and sentinels of the guard.  To officers com­manding guards a second word, called the ‘parole,’ will be given as a check upon the countersign, by which such officers as are entitled to make visits of inspection at night may be distinguished.”  In short, countersigns (or watchwords) and paroles helped ensure that authorized soldiers passed through the guard posts and prevented officers with ulterior motives from interfering with the guard.

Scanned image of paragraph 425 of the Revised United States Army Regulations of 1861 revised 1863 edition, concerning countersigns.
Army manuals regulated the conversation sentries had with people encountered at night. The above, for example, from the revised 1863 edition outlines such conversation related to countersigns.
Countersign and Parole Words Used in the Civil War

Based on lists obtained by Old Army Records, place names usually constituted the daily countersign.  Not surprisingly, sites of Civil War battles or significant cities, northern, southern, and foreign, dominated the list.

Paroles usually consisted of surnames with generals of the period predominating.  Not all names used during the Civil War period were of well-known officers.  Take, for example, the parole used on August 17th , 1863 at Point Lookout.  The general used that day was Robert Cowdin, whose appointment expired in March 1863.  Occasionally, paroles included foreign generals, such as Revolutionary War British commander Cornwallis.

Sometimes the dual watchword association left little to the imagination.  For instance, on March 13, 1863 the countersign/ parole combo was “Moscow” and “Napoleon.”  As early as 1834, army regulations required, for obvious reasons, that should a guard desert, the countersign be changed immediately.

Simple Words, Lots of Responsibility

Not surprisingly, safeguarding the countersign was of utmost importance.  Carelessness with the words often resulted in a dark spot in an army service record.  For example, Captain Pardon Mason, 3rd Rhode Island Artillery, stood a general court martial.  One charge read “Giving the wrong countersign or watchword, violation of the 53rd Article of War.”  While serving as field officer of the day on October 2, 1862 at Hilton Head, South Carolina, Mason allegedly issued the picket guard the wrong countersign,“Springbrook,” instead of “Crown Point.”  Found guilty, Mason’s punishment consisted of a public reprimand read to his brother officers by regimental commander, Colonel Nathaniel W Brown.

Knowingly disclosing the countersign or parole to any person not authorized to know the words could suffer death or other punishment imposed by a general court martial.  The case of 2nd Lieutenant William M. Crozier, Dubuque (Iowa) Light artillery Battery illustrates the importance of securing watchwords.  In December 1862, Crozier faced a general court martial on two charges, including violating the 53rd Article War.  The violation stemmed from the fact that the officer disclosed the daily countersign to one of the battery’s enlisted men, 1st Sergeant Otis G. Day.  Day evidently was not detailed for guard duty and therefore not in a position to know the watchword.  The indiscretion caused Crozier to be cashiered (dismissed) from army service.

Filling in the Details

Diaries, journals, and letters written by 19th century soldiers, like New Hampshire infantryman Haynes, frequently referred to performing guard duty.  However, these extant documents rarely provide details about the people encountered and specific instructions, including countersigns, relative to the security detail.  The 380+ countersign/ parole combinations recently discovered by Old Army Records will add rich detail to anyone (site administrator, living historian, author or genealogist) researching 19th century U.S. Army history.  Feel free to contact us with any research request, no matter how specific or mundane.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the staff in the Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, and especially Dale Valena, for providing the image of Martin A. Haynes.

Sources

Unpublished Sources (indexed by Old Army Records)
Army of the Frontier, Paroles and Countersigns (1863)
Department of the Missouri, General Court Martial Orders
District of St. Mary’s, Paroles and Countersigns (July 1863- July 1864)
Division of the South, General Court Martial Orders

Government Documents
General Regulations for the Army (1834)
Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (Heitman, 1903)
Regulations for the Army of the United States (1889)
Revised United States Army Regulations of 1861 (1863)

Other Primary Documents
A Minor War History Compiled From A Soldier Boy’s Letters to “The Girl I Left Behind Me”, 1861-1864 (Haynes 1916)

Old Army Duty: Officer of the Day

As previously discussed, the military service record of 19th century U.S. Army officers included duty on various ad hoc panels.  Duty included temporary appointments to boards of survey and councils of administration.  Besides the daily administration and training soldiers, for junior officers no other duty was as frequent as officer of the day.  The position required the officer to serve as the on-call commander of a camp or military installation for a 24-hour period.  Although temporary, the position of officer of the day held great responsibility.

Unidentified soldier in Union Captain uniform with crimson sash denoting Officer of the Day holding cavalry saber. oldarmyrecords.com
A crimson sash, worn over the right shoulder, denoted an officer of the day. This unidentified captain wears the sash during the Civil War. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The adjutant of each station maintained a roster of available officers and established the rotation schedule for the temporary position.  Those serving in the position wore a crimson sash.  According to the Army Regulations (1863) the sash was “worn across the body, scarf fashion, from the right shoulder to the left side, instead of around the waist, tying behind the left hip as prescribed.”

“The Officer of the Day has charge of the camp or garrison…”

Kautz (1868) outlined the specific responsibilities of an officer of the day.  The officer detailed “…receives his orders and instructions from the Commanding Officer, and transmits them to his subordinates.  All the guards of the camp or post are under his general direction; all the police parties and fatigue parties, when on duty, within the line of the guards, and often fatigue parties sent beyond the lines receives their orders from the Officer of the Day.”  The 1834 edition of army regulations stated that “[n]o other officer except a general officer will interfere with or give any order on the parade to the staff officer on duty there.”  However, the officer of the day reported all significant events/ actions directly to the commanding officer of the installation.

In addition, the officer of the day ensured that the camp or garrison remained clean, exercised control of prisoners in the guardhouse, and had the discretion to detain or release prisoners.  Not surprisingly, some prisoners took exception to directives issued by the officers.  For instance, on June 23, 1868, 1st Lieutenant Theodore Kendall, 33rd Infantry, while serving as officer of the day at McPherson Barracks near Atlanta, Georgia, ordered a prisoner, Private Thomas McDonough (Company I, 16th Infantry) to “carry a log”.  Taking offense McDonough refused the order and physically and verbally assaulted the officer.  A general court martial panel found McDonough guilty of the crimes and imposed several punishments, including a 15-month incarceration in the Dry Tortugas.

In times of war, when larger military units were constituted, field officers of the day were also detailed.  Brigade (compromised of 2 or more regiments) adjutants maintained rosters of officers with the rank of captain to colonel to fulfill the responsibilities referenced above.

Officer of the day rosters. oldarmyrecords.com
Post adjutants maintained rosters of officers available for duty as officer of the day. Similar rosters were kept at the brigade level for field officer of the day. The top example was maintained at Fort Assinniboine, Montana (1893). The bottom roster dates to September 1863 for the Department of Missouri, Army of the Frontier. 1st Division. 1st Brigade.
Posting and Checking Guards

An officer of the day’s tour began at the daily guard mount which typically occurred in the morning.  The new officer of the day held a prominent position in front, and slightly off-center from the guard; the outgoing officer stood directly in front of the guard.  Perhaps the most important responsibility of the 24-hour job was ensuring that the guard was all present, outfitted, and properly posted.  To that end, the officer visited the guard posts, referred to as grand rounds, frequently during the day and at least once after midnight when arguably, the command was most susceptible to attack.  Proactive security measures required the officer of the day to issue daily code words (countersigns and paroles) to the guards.

The military service record of an Old Army officer included various duties, many performed simultaneously.  An 1867 diary entry by Captain Tenodor Ten Eyck typifies those various tasks performed in a day.  Ten Eyck attended guard mount at 9 a.m. as officer of the day on May 7th.  He then served as the president of a general court martial, trying two cases, before attending to company paperwork.  Before turning in for the night, Ten Eyck made his grand rounds at 12:30 a.m. on May 8th.

Photo of Pennsylvania, 114th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Guard Mount, Headquarters Army of the Potomac, reviewed by Officers of the Day. oldarmyrecords.com
Guard mount of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry, ca. 1863. The outgoing officer the day (officer wearing the sash with his back turned on the right of center) stands next to his counterpart assuming the duty.
The Cost of being Inattentive

Inattention to guard duty was, for good reason, a very serious military crime punishable by death.  Not surprisingly, most infractions on guard duty occurred at night.  For that reason, officers of the day visited guard posts at least once at night and more frequently in times of hostilities.   Officers tending to the nightly grand rounds often found sentinels sleeping.  Court martial records from the 19th century contain frequent reference to those offenses.  For instance, in May 1870, 4th Cavalry private James Devine was posted as a guard at the post guardhouse in San Antonio, Texas.  The officer of the day discovered Devine sleeping in a chair between 3 and 4 a.m.  The respite cost the private $84 from his monthly pay and confinement at hard labor for six months.

Failure by an officer of the day to visit guards or pickets in the night was just as serious.  The case of Captain Henry Hase, 103rd New York Infantry, illustrates the point.  Hase joined the 103rd New York Infantry in 1861 as a sergeant and rose through the ranks.  On March 8, 1864, Hase, serving as field officer of the day, failed to obey written instructions to visit the brigade picket line on Folly River, South Carolina between the hours of 3 and 5 a.m.  The transgression found Hase defending against two charges (neglect of duty and disobedience of orders) at a general court martial.  The court panel found Hase guilty and abruptly dismissed him from the army; a permanent blemish to his military service record.

Although mundane, officer of the day assignments were critical in the 19th century U.S. Army.  As shown above, the duty factored into the service of officers and enlisted men.  Old Army Records continues to identify these details to complete the military service history of the soldiers who served during the period.  Check back in two weeks for an overview of duty affecting both officers and enlisted men:  countersigns and paroles.  In the meantime, feel free to contact us with questions or comments. 

Sources

Unpublished Sources (indexed by Old Army Records)
General Court Martial Orders, Department of the South
General Court Martial Orders, Department of Texas
Lists Relating to Safeguards, Details, and Other Matters, Department of Missouri, Army of the Frontier, 1st Division, 1st Brigade
Rosters of Officers and Organizations, Fort Assinniboine (1893), Fort Assinniboine Records, Box 6, Folder 11, Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives, Helena, Montana

Army Regulations
General Regulations for the Army (1834)
Revised U.S. Army Regulations (1863)

Published Source
Customs of Service for Officers of the Army (1868)

Unpublished Source
Tenodor Ten Eyck Diaries (1860-1871), Special Collections, University of Arizona Libraries, Tucson.  Digital copies in the possession of Kevin O’Dell.

U.S. Ram Monarch: A Brief Service History

No, Old Army Records has not gone to sea.  This article discusses the interaction of the army with river vessels. Watercraft of various sizes and classes aided the Union Army in securing victory during the Civil War.  Gunboats, steamers, and barges assisted the Union ground forces.  Often soldiers served on board boats, such as those used by U.S. Ram Fleet.

U.S. Ram Fleet
U.S. Ram Monarch and Queen of the West, ca. 1862. oldarmyrecords.com
U.S. Monarch and its sister ram Queen of the West, ca. 1862.

The U.S. Ram Fleet was developed by Pennsylvania-born engineer Charles Ellet, Jr in early 1862.  With the blessing of the Secretary of War, Ellet set about building his fleet. He purchased powerful and sturdy vessels already steaming up and down eastern rivers. The core of the fleet consisted of three stern-wheel towboats (boats used to push barges), the Queen of the West, Switzerland, and Monarch. The government purchased the Monarch in April 1862 for $14,000 (about $348,000 today).

Ellet quickly retrofitted the vessels to meet his task, ramming and sinking enemy boats.  The key to building an effective ram was to put the whole weight of the boat at the central bulkhead so that, at the moment of collision, the weight and momentum carried through to the target boat.  To accomplish this, Ellet instructed that three heavy solid timber bulkheads, from 12 to 16 inches thick, ran fore and aft, from stem to stern, placing the central one directly over the keel.  In addition, iron stays held the boilers and machinery firmly in place.  Also, oak timbers, bolted together in layers 2 feet thick helped protect the machinery and pilot house from small arms fire.

Soldiers Protected the Ram Fleet

Although supporting army operations, the Monarch fell under the immediate command of naval officers throughout most of its wartime service.  However, from the onset, all of Ellet’s rams had army security details assigned to each vessel.  Men from Company I, 59th Illinois Infantry served on the Monarch.  The men included 1st Sergeant Edward W. Bartlett and privates John Holland and Gilbert C. Hamilton.  However, service for some of the men was short.  Private Holland, for example, took violently ill in the streets of Tuscumbia, Alabama in September 1862 and died shortly thereafter.

Getting Into Action

Just months after setting out on his mission, Ellet, now with the rank of Colonel, steamed the tiny fleet south on the Mississippi River.  Contact with Confederate vessels occurred soon after.  In what is known as the Naval Battle of Memphis (June 6, 1862), the Monarch helped sink or incapacitate several vessels, including the Little Rebel, Lovell, Price, and General Beauregard.  Serving on the bridge of the Monarch during the Memphis engagement was David M. Dryden, a 1st Lieutenant from Company F, 1st Kentucky Infantry.  Dryden fought with his infantry unit in Virginia in 1861 before taking a leave of absence for health reasons.  His experience as steamboat captain caught the attention of Ellet, who secured Dryden’s transfer to the Ram Fleet.

 

U.S. Ram Monarch in the Memphis naval battle. Published by Harpers Weekly, June 28, 1862. oldarmyrecords.com.
Just months after being acquired by the government, U.S. Ram Monarch went into battle near Memphis. This depiction, published by Harper’s Weekly on June 28, 1862, shows the Monarch ramming the Confederate side wheel boat General Beauregard.

 

With the surrender of Vicksburg in July 1863, Union forces held unrestricted access to the Mississippi River. It effectively ended the mission of the ram fleet.  For the next year, the Monarch and the other rams, steamed up and down the Mississippi River and tributaries on a variety of excursions.  These ranged from expeditions involved in removing obstructions, such as torpedoes, and reconnaissances in force.  Occasionally, the Monarch served as the flagship for the Ram Fleet.

By fall 1864, the Ram Fleet was no longer serving the Navy and was scattered up and down the Mississippi River Valley in charge of army quartermasters.  The Monarch was anchored in New Orleans.  While in army service the Monarch served primarily as a transport hauling mail, freight, soldiers, and refugees.

Monarch’s Final Military Service

Until recently, the end of the military service history of the Ram Monarch are sketchy.  For instance, the Wikipedia entry for the Monarch, which relies heavily on Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks, simply states that the boat “…was dropped from the naval list in 1864, but remained in reserve, ready for recall to active service. She was sunk by ice in December 1864, but was refloated and taken to Mound City, Illinois for dismantling in July 1865.”  The final two months of government service of the Monarch were memorialized in a journal kept by Captain Charles Bogy (Master) and/or H. Carrigan (Clerk).  During our recent trip to the National Archives, Old Army Records digitized the journal.  The log documents rather mundane, yet important duties as they relate to the 19th century military personnel and their dependents.

Death Highlights the Monarch’s Final Trips

By October 1864, army quartermasters assigned various duties to the Monarch.  The vessel carried destitute refugees, black and white, from devastated southern states northward.  Many of these passengers were in poor health and died in route.  For instance, at 2 a.m. on November 2, 1864, Irene Fitzgerald “wife of a soldier of the 6th Mississippi Heavy Artillery” died on board.  The boat crew then went into Vicksburg, procured a coffin and buried her.  She left a young child, William, who was left in a dying condition at the refugee home operated by the Western Sanitary Commission in Vicksburg.

Just two days later another refugee, Matilda Cotton, died of “chronic diarrhea and general debility” at Skipwith Landing.  Intestinal distress soon claimed a third victim.  Private Ezekiel J. Bailey of Battery G, 6th Michigan Heavy Artillery passed away in the evening of November 5th.  Bailey was on his way home on furlough.

Map of the lower Mississippi River Valley during the Civil War. The military and naval history of the rebellion in the United States. With biographical sketches of deceased officers. The story of the Ellets and their men (cover page), 1865. oldarmyrecords.com
The U.S. Ram Monarch steamed up and down the Mississippi River and its major tributaries. As a result, the boat anchored at several cities and small communities. Some stopping points, affecting the military service of several Old Army soldiers and their dependents, are shown here. Map modified from one shown in The Military and Naval History of the Rebellion in the United States (1865).
An Inglorious End to the Ram Monarch

The run of bad luck continued nine days later when the Monarch struck a rock near Thebes, Illinois and took on water.  Ironically, the addition of timber to hull, in order to make the boat an effective ram, prevented the crew from making repairs.  Captain Bogy steered the wounded boat to shallower waters near the shore.  The boat eventually came to rest in water 4-12 feet deep “…very much listed over to the port.”  Over the next several weeks, crews pumped out and repaired the Monarch.  Finally, on the morning of December 9, 1864, the Monarch was once again under steam and headed to St. Louis.

By December 20th, the boat was at Harlow’s Landing about 25 miles south of St. Louis.  The last entry in the log was ominous.  It read “Main channel [b]locked up with ice it will nearly take all night for [the steamer] to take in the wood[.]  Weather might be called very pleasant for this portion of the country[,] very little ice ram[m]ing Stmrs [steamers].”  Did ice finally defeat one of Charles Ellet, Jr. prized rams?

Elaborating on 19th Century Military Service Records

As the history and log of the Ram Monarch illustrates, Old Army soldiers interacted with a variety of military branches and departments.  Old Army Records will continue to locate, digitize, and index these documents to help flesh out the military service history of a 19th century U.S. Army soldier.

We wish to thank our recent customers for their research requests.  Trying to find specific information on an individual soldier, unit, or event without much success?  Are you having trouble finding information on an obscure Old Army topic?  We may be able to help.  Feel free to contact us for guidance and a free quote. 

 

Sources

Unpublished Sources (Old Army Records)
David M. Dryden, Military Service Records (RG 94)
John V. Holland, Pension Record (RG 15)
Journal of Events on the U.S.S. Monarch, October-December 1864 (RG 393)

Published Sources (in Old Army Records digital library)
History of the Mississippi River Ram Fleet and Marine Brigade (Crandall 1907).
Outline of the Forthcoming History of the Mississippi River Ram Fleet and Marine Brigade (Crandall ca. 1906).

Government Documents
The Military and Naval History of the Rebellion in the United States (1865)
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.  Series 1, Volumes 13 (1885), 15 (1886), 17 (1886 and 1887), 24 (1889), 41 (1893), and 52 (1898)
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion.  Series 1, Volumes 25 (1912) and 26 (1914)

Website
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Monarch_(1862)
https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers.htm#

 

 

 

Old Army Records Update

 

Jim and I are back from our most recent Old Army records acquisition trip.  As our journey through Old Army records continues, we always encounter new information that refines our knowledge on the daily operation of the 19th century U.S. Army.  For example, in 1864 the Adjutant General issued General Order No. 75, which clarified several personnel issues, including the designation of draftees and the transfer of soldiers to the U.S. Navy.  Last week we found a document that tabulated the number of copies and distribution of general orders in the 1860s.  The Adjutant General printed and distributed over 5,900 copies of G.O. 75 to various military commands, states, installations, and generals.  This example illustrates the civilian and military manpower required to maintain the War Department.  With that being said, we are excited to announce that soon thousands of names will be indexed related to the following Old Army topics:

  • Soldiers who qualified as marksman/ sharpshooters
  • Lists and assignments of army sutlers/ post traders
  • Charges and specifications against soldiers
  • Lists of soldiers fitted for artificial limbs
  • Lists and assignments of civilian nurses
  • Rosters of noncommissioned officers serving in regular army units
  • Lists of officers detailed to teach military science at high schools and colleges
  • Individuals issued specific firearms
  • Lists of soldiers detailed to perform specific jobs
  • Lists of civilian clerks working at various staff departments
  • Prisoners at Forts Leavenworth and Pulaski
  • Individuals serving as scouts during the Civil War
Old Army soldiers performed a wide-range of daily duty. For example, this list includes the names of soldiers from the 47th New York Infantry assigned to picket duty in North Carolina.
Wide range of Old Army Subjects

What distinguishes Old Army Records apart from other databases, is our commitment to not only capture the names of soldiers, but index the events, places, material, and other subjects associated with the period.  Together, these subjects, or what we call searchable units (SUs), put soldiers into context with the Old Army.  We are therefore pleased to announce the following additions to our dataset:

  • 500+ names and descriptive data for army horses and mules
  • List of countersigns and paroles used during the Civil War
  • List of safeguards issued during the Civil War
  • Tabular data of the types of firearms lost, damaged, and rendered unserviceable by regular army units
  • The causes of desertion from the regular army
  • Lists of items received by soldiers confined to prison
  • Accounting for ammunition expended in the southwest during the 1860s
  • Lists of ordnance and ordnance stores lost by the Union Army in key Civil War battles
Army officers were responsible for all government property and could be called upon to account for expenditures. One enterprising officer maintained a ledger which included the loss and usage of ammunition. This excerpt, for example, includes ammunition used in combat and by the the butcher for Company C, 1st California Cavalry in November and December 1865.
Following the Paperwork Trail

With each document digitized, we are amazed at the breadth of records kept by the 19th century U.S. Army and that survive, yet, today.  The details contained in those documents helps fulfill our goal of presenting the rich day-to-day life of an Old Army soldier.  In the coming months, while we index the new data, we will publish articles on these topics.  So, keep checking the Records Inventory page for updates.  In the meantime, feel free to contact us with questions or your research requests.

Major General Jacob Jennings Brown’s Funeral

On February 25, 1828, Adjutant General Roger Jones issued the following directive from Washington, DC.  “The Senior officers of the General Staff of the Army, and the Commanding General of the Militia of the District of Columbia, will convene at the Adjutant’ General’s Office, this morning, at nine o’clock, to make suitable arrangements for the funeral honors of the distinguished and lamented Major General Brown.”  The flurry of orders and details which soon followed outlined the funeral for the 12th Commanding General (both George Washington and James Wilkinson each served twice) of the U.S. Army.

Humble Roots

Jacob Jennings Brown was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in May 1775.  He descended from a long line of devout Quakers making his ultimate career path therefore seem strange.  After brief stints as a surveyor, school teacher, and military secretary for Major General Alexander Hamilton, Brown purchased land on Lake Ontario in northern New York.  Soon after, he founded the village of Brownville and became a prominent figure in state politics.  His political position led to an appointment of colonel in the militia.  When the war of 1812 began Brown served as a militia brigadier general.

General Jacob Brown, Commander of the Army

Much of the War of 1812 was fought along the northeast U.S. border with Canada.  As a result, New York militia troops entered the conflict early.  Brown competently lead troops in the early engagements at Ogdensburg and Sackett’s Harbor.  Consequently, he received appointments as brigadier and then major general in the Regular Army.  Regular Army soldiers, led by Brown, defeated British regulars at Chippawa and Lundy’s Lane in January 1814.  Before the war officially ended, Congress bestowed upon Brown a Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his “gallantry and good conduct” at the battles of Chippewa, Niagara, and Erie.

By June 1815, Brown was the senior officer of the U.S. Army.  However, he did not receive the title of Commanding General of the Army until 1821.  During his tenure as senior army commander, General Brown attempted to retain competent soldiers and improve unit training.

Jacob_Jennings_Brown.jpg. oldarmyrecords.com
Major-General Jacob Jennings Brown (1775-1828), US Army, circa 1814.
A Grand Funeral Possession

General Jacob Brown died on February 24, 1828 while on duty in Washington, DC.  The exact cause of death is unknown.  He suffered several wounds at Lundy’s Lane in January 1814.  One 19th century biographer stated that “[t]he disease of which he died is said to have been in consequence of another wound contracted by him at Fort Erie, during the war…”  The funeral orchestrated by the War Department included nearly all senior military and government leaders then at the nation’s capital.  As with all military duty, the funeral was scripted and adhered to strict protocol.  The following circular, issued by the Adjutant General, outlined the funeral procession.

Orders of the Adjutant General's Office, Washington, DC, 26th July 1825-October 29th, 1828. oldarmyrecords.com
Circular issued by the Adjutant General outlining the order for General Jacob Brown’s funeral procession.

Arrangements occurred right up to the burial on February 27th.  Early that morning the War Department issued last-minute orders, which included instructions for the line of escort to form precisely at 10:30 a.m. in front of General Brown’s residence with its left resting near the corner of the United States Bank.  The procession escorted the general’s body to the Congressional Cemetery where it was interred in Section 1, Range 57, Site 150.

Mourning and General Jacob Brown’s Old Army Legacy

The day after the funeral Secretary of War James Barbour issued an order, distributed to troops throughout the nation, eulogizing General Brown.  In it Barbour credited Brown for“[u]niting with the most unaffected simplicity, the highest degree of personal valor, and of intellectual energy, he stands pre-eminent before the world, and for after ages, in that band of heroic spirits, who, upon the ocean and the land, formed and sustained, during the second war with Great Britain, the martial reputation of their country.”  Barbour went on to commend the former commanding general for his “intuitive penetration, his knowledge of men, and his capacity to control them…his scrupulous regard for their rights, his constant attention to their wants…”

Following regulations, artillery at each military post were fired every half hour from sunrise to sunset on the day succeeding the arrival of the directive.  Further, each army officer wore black crape around their left arm and on the hilt of their sword for six months.

According to the official history of commanding generals and army chiefs of staff, Brown recommended pay incentives to encourage reenlistment and pay increases for noncommissioned officers.  He also advocated periodic centralized training for widely scattered units in order to prevent erosion in military instruction.

Sources

Unpublished Sources (indexed by Old Army Records)
Orders issued by the Adjutant General’s Office (1828)

Army Regulations
General Regulations for the Army (1825)

Congressional Document
The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents; and all the Laws of a Public Nature; with a Copious Index, Thirteenth Congress-Third Session.  Comprising the Period from Sept. 19, 1814 to March 3, 1815, Inclusive. Compiled from Authentic Materials (1854)

Government Document
Commanding Generals and Chiefs of Staff, 1775-1995: Portraits & Biographical Sketches of the United States Army’s Senior Officer (Bell 1999)

 

 

Old Army Demographics: 18th Regular Infantry in the Civil War

In the previous article I discussed the role of adjutants in the 19th century U.S. Army.  The dedicated efforts of those staff officers ensured that current Old Army researchers have the detail-rich unit and garrison information.  Accordingly, an adjutant’s duty was documenting the activities and personnel of their assigned unit.  In April 1866, Colonel Henry B. Carrington forwarded the Official History of the 18th United States Infantry, 1861-1865 to the Adjutant General’s Office.  Compiled by regimental adjutant, 1st Lieutenant Frederick Phisterer, the history provides data significant to understanding Old Army demographics.

Three Regiments in One

The 18th was one of nine regular army infantry regiments (11th-19th) formed in 1861.  Modeled on the French regimental system, each regiment consisted of three 8-company battalions (designated 1st-3rd).   In actuality, each battalion functioned as a regiment, each with their own command and staff positions and set of records.

The history prepared by Phisterer documented the enlistment of 4,778 men between July 1, 1861 and December 31, 1865.  His effort received high praise from senior officers for its thoroughness and completeness.  It includes the names and dates of enlistment of the nearly 5,000 men who joined the regiment during the Civil War period, monthly itineraries of the 24 companies, and biographies of the regiment’s officers.  Moreover, the history lists the names, dates of appointment, and notes (i.e. death, wounds, demotion, etc.) of the 657 noncommissioned officers who served with the unit.  Perhaps the most the interesting information contained in the book are the demographics of the enlisted men.  Some of that information is presented below.

Old Army Demographics, Occupations From Actor to Woodchopper

Although a regular army unit, the 18th could easily claim to be an Ohio regiment.  Of the 4,778 men who joined the unit, 1,320 (28%) claimed Ohio as their birth state.  Officers organized and trained the recruits at Camp Thomas, Ohio, just north of Columbus.  Over 1,000 recruits enlisted at Columbus alone; an additional 43 recruiting stations throughout Ohio also swelled the ranks.  The high number of Ohio-born men in the regiment is no doubt attributed to its formation in that state.

Army Demographics: table number of 18th Regular U.S. Infantry Civil War enlistments from each state and territory.
The stats of the 18th Regular Infantry indicate that most enlisted men were born in the U.S.  Interestingly, the ranks included men from nearly all the states and territories which comprised the nation then.

 

About 33% of the ranks claimed foreign birth places with the majority from western Europe.  Of the foreign-born, Ireland and Germany led with 1,002.  Canada, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick accounted for 156 enlistees.  Additionally, a few soldiers claimed Cuba, Australia, and “on the sea” as birthplaces.

Army Demographics: map of Europe showing number of non-native-born enlistments, in each country, for the 18th Regular U.S. Infantry of the Civil War.
Roughly a third of enlistees in the 18th Regular Infantry claimed to be non-native-born. Of those, most hailed from western Europe.
Occupations From Actor to Woodchopper

In many ways, the composition of the regiment was a microcosm of the nation.  The 108 different occupations, noted by enlistees, reflected the diversity.  Not surprisingly, 35% of the soldiers listed their occupation as farmer thereby reflecting the agrarian nature of the economy.  The 1,679 farmers therefore led all occupations.  Laborer, soldier, carpenter, blacksmith, shoemaker, boatman, clerk, sailor, and musician rounded out the top ten occupations represented in the regiment.  However, numerous other occupations filled the ranks such as physicians, lawyers, an actor, a showman, and one “gentleman”.  In short the 18th Infantry included a wide range of unskilled and skilled professions.

Army Demographics: table showing the many former occupations of enlisteees of the 18th U.S. Infantry of the Civil War.
Enlisted men in the 18th U.S. Infantry claimed over 100 different occupations before joining the unit.
The Personal Cost of Old Army Service

The 18th Infantry fought and bled at several of the prominent battles in the Civil War Western Theater, namely the sieges of Corinth (1862) and Atlanta (1864) and battles of Stones River (1862/1863), Chickamauga (1863), Resaca (1864), and Kennesaw Mountain (1864).  Throughout most of the Civil War, the 18th Regulars served in the 14th Army Corps alongside battalions from fellow regular army infantry regiments (15th, 16th, and 19th) and numerous volunteer units.  The latter included the 11th Michigan and 69th Ohio infantry regiments.

Attrition, common to all military units of the era, affected the regiment.  As of December 31, 1865 the unit lost 64% of its enlisted men owing to a variety of reasons.  Most, 1,052, deserted.  Just over 200 men died outright in battle or succumbed to wounds while 330 died from disease.  Only 14% received honorable discharges for successfully completing their term of enlistment.  Moreover, a high number of men (582) received early discharge for disability.  Interestingly, 29 men were still listed as missing in action as of December 1865.

The statistics listed in the 18th Infantry history provide a fine basis for compiling Old Army demographics.  Do you have any idea for a “By the Numbers” or other Old Army article?   We’d love to hear it.  Send your suggestions through the Contact Us page.

Old Army Staff Position: Adjutant

Old Army officers had numerous administrative and command duties.  At the root of all these responsibilities was complete and accurate record keeping.  One military position was responsible for the extant Old Army records:  the adjutant.

U.S. Army Adjutant General Shield.
The Adjutant General

Congress authorized the creation of Adjutant General’s Office (AGO) in 1813.  Initially headed by a brigadier general, the AGO was tasked with issuing orders from army headquarters, detailing troops for specific movements and tasks, and the instruction of troops.  The office also served as the repository of documents pertaining to army personnel.  In times of conflict a small cadre of temporary adjutants, known as acting assistant adjutant generals, aided with the administrative duties.  At the regiment and military post level, those administrative duties were completed by junior officers assigned the position simply known as adjutant.

Staff Position

Although written for regimental adjutants, the following statement, from the 1847 army regulations, equally applies to the position within all types of commands.

It is enjoined upon the adjutant to maintain a courteous and friendly understanding with his brother officers, avoiding all discussions upon the orders, or military conduct of the commander.  He should inform himself upon all points of military usage and etiquette; and on proper occasions kindly aid, with his advice and experience, the younger subalterns of the regiment, especially those just entering the service.  And he should, at all times, endeavor to exert the influence belonging to his station, in sustaining the reputation and discipline of the regiment. 

Captains oversaw their respective companies.  The role of post, regiment, and detachment adjutant therefore fell to the junior most officers, lieutenants.  Like other staff positions, adjutants served at the discretion of the colonel or permanent commander.  However, by the end of the 19th century army regulations stipulated that officers could only serve four years in the position.  He was not eligible for a second tour in that capacity except to serve an unexpired term of four years.

Often detachments were assembled to complete temporary assignments.  Officers completed ad-hoc positions for these units.  For example, in the spring of 1875 a battalion of the 7th Cavalry took up post near Yankton, South Dakota to quell disturbances at the nearby Ponca Indian Agency.  Second Lieutenant William Thomas Craycroft was detailed as adjutant as well as quartermaster and commissary of subsistence for the battalion.

Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

Whether using a small field desk under “an oak tree”, in tents, or dedicated office space an adjutant performed several tasks.  Captain August V. Kautz in Customs of Service for the Officers of the Army summed up the role and responsibility of an adjutant.

The Adjutant is the official organ of the regimental commander through whom he communicates with the subordinates in the regiment.  He has charge of the books, records, and papers pertaining to the regiment.  He superintends the machinery and workings of the regiment.  He communicates the orders of the commander, and sees that they are obeyed, and the regular returns and reports are made.  He keeps the roster of the officers, makes the details that are called for from the regiment, and forms and marches on the guard at guard mounting.

In addition, the adjutant oversaw the regimental/ post band, often functioned as the official unit timekeeper, served as post treasurer, and issued non-commissioned officer warrants (official papers notifying soldiers of promotion to the rank of corporal or sergeant).   Adjutants maintained a variety of books and documents.  The types of documents varied throughout the 19th century.  However, the following is a representative example:

Descriptive Book
Endorsement Book
General Order Book
Index to Letters Received
Letters Sent Book
Morning Report Book
Rosters
Special Order Book

Each morning the adjutant prepared duty rosters which detailed officers and enlisted men to a variety of temporary assignments.  These included officer of the day, fatigue and guard duty.  The first sergeants in turn met with the adjutant to receive orders and assignments pertaining to their respective companies.  Clerks, detailed from the enlisted ranks, often assisted adjutants with copying and organizing the various reports and papers.  Not surprisingly, clerks received assignments based on their administrative ability and penmanship.

Assembled here, in front of tent, are the adjutant and first sergeants of the 22nd New York State Militia, holding an American flag and rifles.
Each morning regimental adjutants issued duty rosters to the first sergeants. Assembled here are the adjutant and first sergeants of the 22nd New York State Militia near Harpers Ferry, ca. 1862. (photo courtesy of Library of Congress).
Adulation and Consternation
Card de Vist portrait of Captain George M. Templeton, in uniform.
George M. Templeton capably served as post adjutant at Fort C. F. Smith. (photo courtesy of Newberry Library).

The position of adjutant was prestigious, but carried great responsibility.  Post and regiment commanders often recognized the service provided by the military administrators.  George M. Templeton, 27th U.S. Infantry is a typical example.  Templeton’s promotion to Captain no longer allowed him to serve as adjutant at Fort C.F. Smith, Montana Territory (M.T.).  In a January 1868 special order, post commander Luther P. Bradley announced the change and “to express his sense of the very faithful and able manner in which he has discharged the duties of Post Adjutant.”  This sentiment is typical of the sentiments expressed by commanders for adjutants vacating their position.

Occasionally, an adjutant ran afoul of military protocol and answered to a court martial.  In 1873, 2nd Lieutenant Charles Austin Booth, a 7th Infantry officer and adjutant at Fort Benton, M.T. found himself defending the charge of “conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline.”  In his staff capacity Booth “became acquainted with the contents of an official communication from the Commanding Officer of the Department of Dakota” and addressed to the commander of Fort Benton.  The communication in question dealt with policy to prevent Indians from visiting the nearby town of Benton.

Booth informed several local citizens of the policy thereby violating one of the key tenants of adjutant:  confidentiality.  The court found Booth guilty and sentenced him to a written reprimand issued by general order from Brigadier General Alfred Terry, the department commander.  However, Terry concluded that Booth completed the indiscretion inadvertently “rather than the intent to do wrong” and opted not to inflict upon him the “mortification of a reprimand.”

Closing Thoughts

Often, Old Army researchers experience frustration with gaps in the original records for the period.  However, considering the fact that 19th century army records slogged with the soldiers through wind, rain, snow, and mud, we are fortunate that we have as many records as we do.  This is largely due to the unsung administrative warriors of the period, the adjutants.  Check out our list of documents kept by adjutants and indexed by Old Army Records.  In the next article I will discuss details from a superb regimental history prepared by an extremely capable adjutant.

Sources

Unpublished Sources (indexed by Old Army Records)
General Orders from the Headquarters of the Department of Dakota, 1873
Special and General Orders, Fort C.F. Smith
Special Orders, General Orders, and Circulars, Seventh Cavalry

Army Regulations
General Regulations for the Army (1821)
General Regulations for the Army of the United States (1847)
Regulations for the Army of the United States (1895)
Regulations of the Army of the United States (1881)
Revised U.S. Army Regulations (1863)

Congressional Document
Legislative History of the General Staff of the Army of the United States (Its Organization, Duties, Pay, and Allowances), From 1775-1901 (1901)

Published Source
Customs of Service for Officers of the Army (1866)

Unpublished Source
Cornelius C. Platter Civil War Diary, 1864 – 1865, Hargerett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries

 

 

Old Army Records: Circulars

In previous articles, I discussed general and special orders issued by the 19th century U.S. Army.  General and special orders regulated day-to-day operations of the army.  Often, officers required detailed instructions on how to complete army paperwork or comply with procedures.   Occasionally, line officers became lax in their administrative duties and needed gentle reminders to get them into compliance.  Policy changes or adjustments to soldier behavior sometimes required attention.  Directions for the composition of and behavior on expeditions needed clarification.  Finally, certain army business required specific documents.  For the instances referenced above, army commanders issued circulars.

All levels of command, ranging from the Adjutant General’s Office (AGO) to a battalion or detachment, issued circulars.  As with other types of orders, the issuing authority maintained books and/or files for circulars.  Unlike orders, which were typically numbered sequentially, circulars were often organized and referred to by the date of their publication.

Detailed Instructions

Not surprisingly, an army officer spent considerable time completing paperwork and complying with procedures.  Circulars notified officers of changes and helped guide officers through the bureaucratic jungle.  For example, in April 1871, the AGO issued a letter to all military divisions regarding reenlistment standards.  The headquarters of the Military Division of the Pacific incorporated the letter into a circular which they distributed throughout the division:

Only men who are up to the standard of height [5’6” and upwards and between 21 and 35 years old and concerning whose fitness for the service in other respects there exists no doubts], prescribed in letter of March 18th, 1871, from this Office will be enlisted.

No objection will be made to the re-enlistment of good men, who are below the standard height, in the companies from which they were discharged, provided they apply in person at the station or stations of said companies. 

Sometimes, circulars simply functioned as technical pamphlets. For example, in May 1870 the Military Division of the Missouri issued a 6-page circular detailing the construction and use of sundials.  Frequently, circulars outlined the process for requisitioning and disposing of arms, equipment, or other government property.  The following are examples.  First, instructions issued to 7th Cavalry company commanders for requisitioning Model 1873 Springfield Carbines and Colt revolvers.  Second, instructions from the Commissary General of Subsistence for the disposal of surplus desiccated vegetables.

Advertisement Circulars

The 19th century army, as with today, relied heavily on civilian contractors to complete their mission.  Contractors throughout the country provided a wide range of goods and services including freighting, building material, horses, and fuel.  In most instances, the government selected contractors based on competitive bids.  The army issued circulars detailing which newspapers procuring officers could advertise in.  Conversely, leaflets also listed which newspapers no longer warranted advertisements.  The following is a small sample of newspapers in which the War Department authorized the publication of ads in the 1870s:

Advocate (Huntsville, Alabama)
Daily Times (Jersey City, New Jersey)
Evening Call (Leavenworth, Kansas)
Grand Era (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
Inter-Ocean (Chicago, Illinois)
National Republic (Selma, Alabama)
Our Mountain Home (Talladega, Alabama)
Pioneer (Asheville, North Carolina)
Republican (San Francisco, California)
Skandinavisk (New York, New York)

Memos

Circulars also functioned as interbranch memos.  Memorandum replaced circulars as a form of communication in the 20th century army.  Colonel John R. Brooke (3rd Infantry), commander of Fort Shaw, Montana Territory took issue with the behavior of some of his men at a post band concert.  As a result, Brooke issued the following:

During a band concert at Fort Shaw in 1880, soldiers spit tobacco juice on a mess room floor. Post commander, Col. Robert Brooke, deemed the behavior unacceptable and issued this circular.

 

Circulars condemning behavior also applied to officers.  The 1895 army regulations specifically listed one instance in which officers likely regretted inclusion in the memos:

The notice of stoppage of officers’ pay will be prepared in the form of a monthly circular to paymasters, advising them of stoppages outstanding at its date. This circular will be submitted to the Secretary of War for his approval prior to its publication. When an officer’s name is borne thereon, no payment of salary will be made to him which is not in accordance with the stoppage entry made against his name.

Although not as numerous as general and special orders, circulars contain a wealth of information regarding the administration of the Old Army.  They provide insight into what subjects army commanders deemed important throughout the 19th century.  Furthermore, the leaflets identify other documents, such as newspapers, that may contain other information pertaining to an Old Army topic.

Sources

Unpublished Sources (indexed by Old Army Records)
7th U.S. Cavalry, General Orders, Special Orders, and Circulars
Adjutant General’s Office, General Orders and Circulars
Atlantic (Division of), Orders
Fort Shaw, Montana Territory, General Orders, Garrison Court Martial Orders, and Circulars
Missouri (Division of), Orders
Office of the Commissary General of Subsistence, Circulars
Pacific (Division of), Orders
Texas (Department of), Orders

Government Documents
Regulations for the Army of the United States (1895)

 

Pack Mules, Carts, or Travois: Survey Says….

For many Old Army researchers, myself included, sifting through primary documents for answers to questions is a thrill.  Nothing beats that eureka! moment when we find the desired information.  Occasionally gems are encountered in unexpected places.  These documents provide insight into topics or, more likely, pose more questions.  While on a recent data acquisition trip to the National Archives I came across a few unexpected documents.  They included a report on carbines used in the Middle Military Department and discussed in an earlier post.  While looking through quartermaster records, I also found a survey abstract of answers from officers relative to the use of carts, travois, and pack mules for transporting supplies on long and rapid marches.

Survey Respondents

The abstract summarizes the responses from 43 officers ranking from lieutenant to colonel. The document lists the name, rank, and unit of the replying officer and their recommended moving supplies (e.g. cart, mules, etc.).  Two officers, both with 8th Infantry, did not provide responses because of their limited field experience.  The survey includes familiar names, such as Wesley Merritt (5th Cavalry), Richard I. Dodge (23rd Infantry), and Nelson A. Miles (5th Infantry).  However, most Old Army researchers probably won’t recognize many of the names in the abstract.  They include individuals such as 1st Lieutenant William P. Hall (5th Cavalry), 1st Lieutenant Joshua W. Jacobs (7th Infantry), and Captain William M. Wallace (6th Cavalry).

Not surprisingly, most of the responses came from cavalry officers; all cavalry regiments, except the 1st Cavalry, are represented.  However, officers from eight infantry regiments, seven quartermaster department officers, and one surgeon also replied.

Excerpt from the abstract showing some of the names and suggestions of the respondents.
And the Winner Is

Most respondents overwhelmingly recommended the exclusive use of pack mules.  Four recommended carts exclusively and two, including Miles, suggested the use of travois.  A few respondents advocated the use of more than one method, depending upon circumstances.  For example, Lieutenant Colonel Eugene A. Carr, 5th Cavalry, noted that “[w]ith practicable roads 4 horse wagons with springs would be best; otherwise packmules [sic].”  Surgeon H. R. Tilton recommended “a conveyance which combines the features of the cart & travois, like the Cuban ‘volante’”.

Surgeon H. R. Tilton recommended that the Army use the Cuban volante, a combination cart/travois similar to the one shown here circa. 1900.
Aparejos and Pack Mules

Significantly, respondents advocated the use of experienced packers and aparejos (Spanish pack saddles) with pack mules.  Widely used by the Spanish in North America, the Old Army soon adopted aparejos.  Noted government chief packer Thomas Moore improved the technique.  Moore supervised pack mule trains, outfitted with aparejos, for numerous Indian campaigns in the Southwest and northern plains in the 1870s and 1880s.  Beginning in 1878, Moore published Instructions for Using the Aparejo or Spanish Pack Saddle a guide issued to government employees and military officers.  The same box, at the National Archives containing the abstract of answers regarding carts, travois, and pack mules held a letter report prepared by Moore in 1877.  The 1877 document includes more information into the specifications of aparejos and their use than what is included in Moore’s published guide.

Thomas Moore helped modify and perfect the use of aparejos and the pack mule system used by the Old Army. His influences lasted into the 20th century, as seen by this illustration from a 1917 U.S. Army manual on pack transportation.

 

Pack mules were integral to U.S. military operations throughout the later half of the 19th century through World War Two.  The use of pack mules was not a foregone conclusion in the late 19th century.

Feel free to contact us with any requests for obscure information regarding the Old Army.  We may not have the information, but may, inadvertently, come across it.  As always we appreciate all your requests and feedback.

Sources

Unpublished Sources (from the digital collection of Old Army Records)

“Abstract of answers received from different officers of the line & staff to circular of Dec. 12, 1877 calling for report as to the relative merits of Carts, Travois & Packmules as a means of transporting supplies on long & rapid marches in a rough & broken country.” Summary in U.S. Quartermaster General files, National Archives.

Instructions for Using the Aparejo or Spanish Pack Saddle by Thomas Moore (1878)

Letter report dated Camp Robinson, Nebraska by Thomas Moore (May 20, 1877)

 

Unique 19th Century Army Jobs (Odd Old Army Jobs)

What did you do in the army?  This is a question asked of countless army veterans through the ages.  Gauging the number of reminiscences published by soldiers, especially Civil War veterans, the question pervaded 19th century America.  These publications often provide general narratives of their author’s service.  Even some popular overviews of the period, namely The Life of Billy Yank (Bell Irvin Wiley 1952), Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay (Don Rickey Jr. 1963), and Regular Army O! (Douglas C. McChristian 2017), generalize the day-to-day life of a 19th century U.S. soldier.  However, they do not provide the unique service experienced by an individual soldier.  While indexing various sets of orders, Old Army Records, identified several enlisted men and officers assigned to duties not typically discussed in reminiscences and general histories.  The following are some of those unique 19th century army jobs.

Unique 19th Century Army Jobs for Enlisted Men

Private Charles Bullock, Co. F, 15th Infantry, received the assignment to drive the police cart at District of New Mexico headquarters.  The cart did not transport prisoners.  Rather, it hauled trash and debris removed from the installation.  Soldiers did not welcome all jobs.  One can imagine the reaction George Anderson, a private in Co. K, 7th Cavalry, to being detailed to daily duty in charge of the slop cart at Fort Abraham Lincoln.

In December 1871, Captain William Kelly, 8th Cavalry, suffered from chronic dysentery and received permission to convalesce at his Portland, Oregon home.  At the time Kelly’s unit served in the District of New Mexico.  A nurse/ attendant, detailed from the enlisted men of the regiment, accompanied the captain.  Company C private, Richard Archer, received the assignment.  Sadly, Kelly died in Denver, Colorado en route to his home.

Often senior noncommissioned officers performed multiple duties.  In 1873, Fort Abraham Lincoln Ordnance Sergeant Eugene Walsh epitomized multitasking.  The post commander increased his workload by adding the responsibilities of post librarian and “the culture and preservation of the trees at this Post” to his duties.

Unique 19th Century Army Jobs for Officers

As previously discussed, officers performed a multitude of administrative duties in the Old Army (e.g. boards of survey and councils of administration).  However, like their enlisted men, officers sometimes drew unique assignments.  For example, in October 1885, the Adjutant General detailed lieutenants Allyn Capron (1st Artillery), Charles G. Treat (5th Artillery), and Isaac N. Lewis (2nd Artillery) for torpedo coursework at Willets Point, New York.  The 1881 U.S. Army regulations made provisions for artillery regiments to send subalterns to New York for instruction in the torpedo service.  These weapons differed from those used by the navy in that they were meant for shore defense.

 Capt. Charles G. Treat _newspaper_portrait photo, ca. 1899. oldarmyrecords.com
In 1885, 2nd Lt. Charles G. Treat completed torpedo service course work at Willets Point, New York. Treat is shown here as a Captain in the 7th Artillery, circa. 1899.

U.S. Revised Statute 1225, amended on July 5, 1876, allowed the President to detail army officers to teach military science or similar subjects at schools across the country.  As a result, 1st Artillery lieutenant James M. Ingalls assumed the role of professor of military science and tactics at Houghton High School in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, beginning in early 1877.

Enlisted men and officers alike often had the opportunity to perform unique jobs.  These jobs no doubt provided welcome reprieve from the mundane daily activities.  Nineteenth century U.S. Army records are filled with information that provides a unique narrative of an individual soldier’s service history.  Continue to check back as Old Army Records extracts this information.

Sources

Unpublished Sources (indexed by Old Army Records)
Adjutant General’s Office, Special Orders (1877, 1885)
District of New Mexico, Special Orders (1871, 1872)
Fort Abraham Lincoln, D.T., Special Orders (1876)

Government Document
Regulations for the Army of the United States (1881)