Requisition – March 1862


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Confederate document from the Shiloh Campaign era, circa March 1862, requisitioning funds to supply clothing to the 5th (later 35th) Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, of which O. F. Bruster was quartermaster. The document was approved and signed by Major General William J. Hardee, Colonel Patrick R. Cleburne, and Colonel Benjamin J. Hill.

Letter – Charles Baskerville, 2 March 1862


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Letter written by Major Charles Baskerville of the 2nd Battalion MS Cavalry, to Brigadier General Daniel Ruggles at Corinth, MS from the bank of the Tennessee River. Baskerville writes that he is planning to report to Colonel Mouton of the 18th LA Infantry at Pittsburg Landing, TN, and that he needs all the forces currently in Corinth and Iuka. He is particularly interested in the company commanded by Captain Matthews at Iuka. In a note on the opposite side of the letter, Baskerville writes that Captain Reeves has offered his company. The events detailed in the letter precede the battle of Shiloh.

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Genl Ruggles


By order just at hand from Col Mouton I shall repair immediately to him –

I need all my forces now at Corinth & Iuka May I suggest that you send them to rejoin my command near Pittsburg –

The Company commanded by Capt Matthews at Iuka & now used as artillery can at this moment be of great value to me as Cavalry

Capt Matthews could again resume the its Artillery Drill when the emergency is not so great – I have no information to report further than the Confirmation of the fight at Pittsburg yesterday & send you a dispatch from Col Mouton. I learn but not reliably, that they have been fighting at Savannah, your Obt Svt [Obedient Servant]

March 2nd/62 Chas Baskerville

Major Comd’g 2nd Batt

Miss Cavalry


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Capt Reeves, the Bearer, from Noxaber Country Mis has today reported to me, that his command wish to join me.

I would be gratified, sir if you would Sanction it

C Baskerville

Majr Comdg

Commission – James Mitchell, 19 March 1863


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Document forwarding a an army commission for James E. Mitchell of Pennsylvania as 2nd Lieutenant of the 18th US Infantry, from the Adjutant General’s Office in Washington. Mitchell wrote and signed this certified copy of the original document. The original commission was signed by James B. Fry, Assistant Adjutant General. The office required personal details from Mitchell, including his age, residence, birth state, and full name. After accepting the commission, Mitchell was to report to the battalion commander.

Adjutant General’s Office

Washington March 19th 1863


    I forward herewith your commission of

                Second Lieutenant

your receipt and acceptance of which you will please acknowledge without delay reporting at the same time your age and residence when appointed, the State where born, and your full name Correctly Written. Fill up, Subscribe, and return as soon as possible the accompanying oath, duly and carefully executed

     On receipt and acceptance hereof, you will report in Person, for orders, to your Battalion Commander and by letter to the Commander of your Regiment.

                             I am sir very Respectfully,

                                Your Obedient Servant,

                            (signed) James B. Fry

                              Asst Adjutant General

Second Lieutenant James E. Mitchell

         18th Regt U. S. Inft

I certify that the above is a true copy of the Original

                                James E Mitchell

                                2nd Lieut 18th U. S. Inf

James E. Mitchell, from Pennsylvania, enlisted as a private in Company H of the 2nd Battalion, 18th US Infantry, on February 14, 1862. He was subsequently appointed sergeant prior to his commission appointment dated February 19, 1863. His acceptance was duly noted on April 21, 1863, and he served on active duty until his death September 13, 1863, evidently from the bite of a poisonous snake the previous night.

Letter – Alfred Sofield, 6 March 1863


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Letter written by Captain Alfred J. Sofield of Company A, 149th PA Volunteer Infantry “Bucktails,” to his wife Helen from camp near Belle Plain, VA. Sofield writes of the impending arrival of a new chaplain, and a rumor that Captain Bryden was appointed provost marshal of the Congressional district. He also mentions the prevalence of disease within the camp. He goes into detail about the politics in the regiment concerning their lack of an acting major. Sofield received the majority of the votes for major, though he is unsure if he will get the position as the promotion would be made by the colonel. He writes that Belle Plain is only used as a government depot, and they are on picket duty for the next several days.

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Camp near Bell Plain, Va

March 6. 1863

8 O clock P.M.

My Dear Wife                          

     I have been waiting anxiously several days for a reply to some one or all of my letters. But the mail is in and again I am sorely disappointed. Yours of the 19th, 22d, & 21st ult. I rec’d at the same time, that is on Tuesday last. You may well believe I had begun to get nervous as I know you generally write to me frequently. And in this case it being so long, and the children being sick when I left, I imagined all manner of things, and of course was very much gratified to hear that you all, if not quite well, were so much better. I rec’d a letter from Capt. Bryden [Co. G] saying that Mr. Calkins’ [chaplain] papers had not reached

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Harrisburg. I went immediately to Col. Dwight and said it was very strange as he saw them mailed. The next morning the adjutant brought me the documents and said they had been mislaid. I took and forwarded them to S. F. Wilson at Harrisburg, and we now expect our chaplain will be with us about the last of next week. Did you see Wilson when he was in Washington, or was you at Alexandria at the time I heard yesterday that Capt. Bryden was appointed provost marshal of our Congressional district. Is it so? I hope it is. When we arrived at this camp we only numbered 530 men, and out of that small number 130 were reported sick this morning. One of Capt. Bryden’s

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men died today. It was a Blissburg man. I do not know his name, but if I can think of it in the morning will find out and let you know. There are quite a number of my men sick, but none of them dangerously so. Among the number is John Wilcox. Colds & diraeah are the prevailing diseases. We have no acting maj. There was a move on foot by which Capt. Osborne was to act in the absence of Maj. Speer. It was a move of Col. Stone’s, at least so says Col. Dwight. But the officers of the regt. just told the lt. col. that that would never answer, and it had the desired effect. The officers had a meeting a few nights ago and took a vote as to who they were in favor of, and I had all but three votes

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Two of those against me were by men voting for themselves and the other by a lt. of one of the other candidates, viz. Capt. McCullough. I cannot tell how the thing will as there has been a regimental order issued saying that promotions would be made by the col. without consulting the wishes of the line officers. But I think the col. will hardly dare to disregard the opinion of so large a majority. If he does, I have the consolation of being almost the unanimous choice of the regiment. Bell Plain is just a government depot. No other buildings there. We are doing picket duty four days out of six. I send out about half my company on that duty. They have to travel about 3 miles before reaching the line. We are doing duty on the outer line close by the Rebels. I think I wrote you of my being wet. After this when I go I have a horse to ride as the captains will only go as field officers, and we take turns at that, so I shall not have to go often. When in camp we drill from 8 to 10 hours a day. I am very impatient to hear how you succeed in your clerkship. I approve your course. I do not want you to return to Wellsboro until you can do so in the right shape, and

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independent of everyone. Now it is getting towards the 1st of April, and I believe the lease of Mrs. Micks house expires on the 16th of April. And if you should conclude to remain at Washington, I think you had better write to Horace Cook and ask him to have our things packed up nicely and stored in some good, safe place. I think we had better let C. S. Wilcox take the piano, and use it (if he will) till we want it. If he does not want Lewis Bodine says he would like to have it taken to their house. You can do as you think best about it. I only suggest what I hope to think of as in case you stay something of the kind must be done. I think of you almost constantly. And it causes me much more

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anxiety than my own situation does. I know your hands are more than full, but I have one thing to console me, and that is if any woman can get along where brains and good judgment is required, you can. Tell Willie that apples sell here for five cents a piece. The Lt. was Benjamin Hughes that died in Bryden’s company. Ma, kiss Willie, Jimmie, & Bennie and Willie, Jimmie & Bennie, kiss Ma, all for me.

     Now Helen, I want you to write immediately and frequently thereafter. I am always anxious to hear from you and particularly so when you are away from home & situated as you now are. And now good by for the present.

                                 Ever yours,


Alfred J. Sofield was a clerk/justice of the peace in Wellsboro, PA when he enrolled as a Union Army Officer. He served in the Civil War as Captain and commander of Company A of the 149th PA Volunteer Infantry. During the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, he was stationed along Chambersburg Pike north of the McPherson Farm. His unit under artillery fire from the Confederate batteries on Herr Ridge, and was struck by a round, which killed him as well as Private Edwin D. Dimmick and Corporal Nathan H. Wilcox.

Dispatch – P.G.T. Beauregard, 12 March 1862


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2 Confederate HQ telegraph dispatches sent by General P. G. T. Beauregard to General Albert Sidney Johnston from Jackson, TN, to Decatur, AL prior to the Battle of Shiloh. In the first dispatch, General Beauregard requests surplus ammunition for guns and small arms to be sent to Corinth, MS. It also mentions that Union forces under General Charles F. Smith’s command are up the Tennessee River. The second dispatch states that General Chalmers in Iuka, Mississippi, has sighted Union boats. Beauregard mentions that pickets at East Port spotted Union ships at Savannah. He writes that the Union boats will likely go to Pittsburg Landing or East Port. He also warns Johnston not to collect too many trains at Tuscumbia, as they may be cut off from the west by Union forces.

-Dispatch 1-

                              Jackson, March 12th 1862

Genl. A. S. Johns[t]on


     Have you surplus ammunition for guns & small arms for this army – If so, send to Corinth forthwith. Enemies force up Tennessee supposed to be [Gen. C. F.] Smith’s command.

                               G. T. Beauregard

-Dispatch 2-

Jackson, March 12th 1862         

Genl. A. S. Johnston


     Genl. Chalmers at Iuka telegraphs some of Boats in sight – At East Port when my pickets left at six o’clock this morning enemy were at Savannah last night with thirty-three transports & gun boats did not disembark – wagons Horses & all on board at sunset they said they would start for Rail Road this morning early – There is not water enough for the Gun Boats to go to Florence – They will stop at Pittsburg or East Port – the enemy took in all pickets & guards last night.

     Later shelling East Port

Two Gun Boats in sight.

N. B. Be care not to collect too many trains at Tuscumbia for fear of being cut off from the west by the enemy

                          G.T. Beauregard

It appears this document was carried by a dispatch courier from the telegraph office in Decatur, AL to Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston’s HQ. It is believed this dispatch was the first time Gen. Johnston saw the fateful mention of “Pittsburg [Landing],” where he would die little more than three weeks later. As such, these messages prompted immediate action on the part of Johnston to aid Beauregard at Corinth, MI. Johnston sent Hindman’s brigade by rail to Corinth on March 15th, and despite adverse weather, hastened preparations to get his army there, 93 miles distant. Johnston’s troops began arriving about March 20th, and by March 23rd Johnston was present himself. Although the crisis declared by Beauregard did not result in immediate significant fighting, it was a precursor to the crisis that soon developed. Following the occupation of Pittsburg Landing by the main segment of the Union army on March 16th it was apparent that a major Union offensive against Corinth was imminent. Ironically, this ominous message of Beauregard’s four days earlier had pinpointed the exact location to carefully watch. Eastport, also mentioned as another likely site of enemy occupation, was protected by long range Confederate guns, thus Pittsburg Landing was the obvious enemy point of invasion. Despite Beauregard’s astute observations of this, little was done in scouting, mapping, or otherwise planning for the major offensive strike that soon resulted in the famous April 6th surprise attack at Shiloh.

Letter – Louis P. Di Cesnola, 10 March 1863


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Letter written by Medal of Honor winner Colonel Louis P. DiCesnola of the 4th NY Cavalry, to New York Congressman Erastus Corning, from Willard’s Hotel in Washington. DiCesnola writes that he has been restored to his former rank and position, and will retake command of the 4th NY Cavalry as he has lost command of the brigade given to him by General Franz Sigel. However, DiCesnola says he plans on resigning soon, as he did not receive the “full justice” he is entitled to from Secretary Stanton. DiCesnola implores Congressman Corning to find military employment for him under Governor Seymour, as he has very little money left. DiCesnola suggests that he be put in charge of instruction at a large military camp due to his years of experience instructing officers in the army.

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Willard’s hotel Washington

                                 March 10th 1863

Hon. Erastus Corning, M.[ember] C.[ongress]

     The order restoring me to my former rank and position has been at last printed & is published today or tomorrow. With what aching heart I return to my regiment – few persons can appreciate it! I tried ever to do my utmost in well deserving from my adoptive country, and the rewards I received from the administration I may say were nothing but kicks. I am going to take command of my regiment again, as I lost the permanent command of the brigade Genl. Sigel gave me having been disbanded & put in several other divisions. It is impossible for me to continue in the service[,] as tho’ I have been restored I have not received from the administration that full justice I was entitled, and Secy. Stanton says “it is all he can do.” I am therefore going to the regiment with a broken heart – to stay there some weeks and then I shall resign as it is incompatible with my character to continue.

     I am poor and the little money my wife had I have freely spent it in recruiting, so I may say I am going to be a beggar out of service if you do not assist me in getting some military employment under Governor Seymour. I heard of a large camp of instruction is going to be formed. If that is true, I could be of

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some good as I can truly boast I know and can impart instruction in the U. S. military tactics, cavalry, artillery, & infantry as any of the West Point professors, as I have instructed more than 800 officers now in the army. The commander of a camp of instruction or another similar military command would suit me well and put me in a position of doing good to the noble cause I fight & fought for.

     If I fail in getting any other employment I shall then turn farmer and live an independent life.

     I thank you most heartily for all the kindness you always showed me, and be sure I shall never forget them as long as I live. I remain as ever with the greatest respect.

                        Your most obt. servt.

                          Col. di Cesnola                          4th N.Y. Cavalry

Louis Palma di Cesnola, was born June 29, 1832 in Rivarolo, Italy into a noble family. He served in the Italian army as a non-commissioned officer in the 1850’s. As an immigrant with military experience, he was commissioned as major of the 11th NY Cavalry on Sept. 11, 1861, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was appointed colonel of the 4th NY Cavalry Sept. 11, 1862. Under Major General Franz Sigel he was given brigade command in General John Pope’s Army of Virginia, but in early 1863 his brigade was disbanded (the basis for this letter). He only commanded the 4th NY Cavalry during the Chancellorsville Campaign. Although briefly restored to brigade command (1st Brig., 2nd Div., Cav. Corps), in the reorganization of June 14, 1863 di Cesnola lost his brigade once again to Judson Kilpatrick, and reverted back to command of the 4th N.Y. Cav. On June 17, 1863 at the Battle of Aldie, VA, an altercation occurred between di Cesnola and Kilpatrick. Di Cesnola’s  protests over being bypassed and superseded by his junior, was interpreted by Kilpatrick as insubord-ination. He placed di Cesnola under arrest, taking his sword from him, as was the usual procedure. The 4th NY Cavalry in support of di Cesnola, refused to obey Kilpatrick’s order to charge until he was released from arrest. Kilpatrick released him from arrest and ordered him to attack Fitz Lee’s VA cavalrymen, strongly posted in front. Although badly outnumbered, and a “senseless order,” di Cesnola led the forlorn charge. His horse was shot from under him, and he was wounded by a saber slash on the head and a rifle ball in his left arm. Captured on the field by Privates Wade and Scruggs of the 2nd VA Cavalry, di Cesnola was eventually sent to Libby Prison following his recovery. Paroled March 21, 1864 and soon  exchanged, di Cesnola rejoined the army but was not promoted. Frustrated, di Cesnola resigned Sept. 4, 1864. He received the medal of honor post war for his service at Aldie, and died Nov. 20, 1904.