DRUM & BUGLE
of the Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table
Civil War Round Table Newsletter
October 2018, Volume 15, Issue
Topic: “The Rock Hurler:
George Crook and the Battle of
When: Monday, October 8, 2018
Location: Brock’s Riverside Grill
Times: Social Begins 6:00 pm, Dinner 6:45 pm, Meeting Begins
Daniel Davis –“The
George Crook and the Battle of Fisher’s Hill”
Our program on Monday October 8, 2018 features Daniel Davis
speaking on "The Rock Hurler: George Crook, the Army of West Virginia and
the Battle of Fisher's Hill."
The presentation focuses on Union Major General George
Crook’s role in the Battle of Fisher’s Hill, fought near Strasburg, Virginia
in September 1864. Better known for his campaigns against the American
Indians after the Civil War, Crook played a major role in this Union
victory. Dan will discuss the colorful Crook’s military background, the
events leading up to the battle and its controversial aftermath. He will
also examine efforts to minimalize Crook’s contributions by other officers,
and place these contributions in their proper context.
“Distinguished Gallantry – Medal of Honor Stories from Area Battlefields” by
A Review of the September 2018 Program by Greg Mertz
Prior to the Civil War, the United States military
basically had no formal medals or awards. Though establishing a medal for
men in service was discussed in 1861, it did not proceed because of
opposition from General-in-Chief Winfield Scott who “felt that medals and
decorations smacked of European privilege and affectation.” But when Scott
retired in November, 1861, dialogue of such an honor renewed. The Secretary
of the Navy, Gideon Welles was able to establish the award first, and with
Lincoln’s signature on December 21, 1861 the Medal of Honor was created.
The army followed suit in February, 1862.
Secretary of War Edwin Stanton personally awarded the first six Medals of
Honor on March 25, 1863 to some of the men known as Andrews Raiders, who had
captured a train and attempted to destroy bridges and rails between Atlanta
and Chattanooga. Many of the recipients of the Medal of Honor was for deeds
associated with battle flags, whether saving their own unit’s flag, or
capturing a flag of the enemy. Returning to Union lines with a captured
Confederate flag practically guaranteed a soldier the Medal of Honor,
irrespective of just how the soldier happened to procure it.
Most Medals of Honor were not awarded during the war, but in the 1890s. For
example, of the 131 Medals of Honor issued to soldiers who fought on
Fredericksburg area battlefields, only nineteen were presented while the
Civil War was still being fought. The post-war awarding of the medal became
so rampant in fact, that additional standards were applied and in 1916 a
board was established to scrutinize the validity of the medals that had been
awarded. After examining all 2,625 Medals of Honor awarded by the army, 911
were rescinded in 1917.
One of the most appropriate of the retractions was for the 864 men of the
27th Maine whose deeds for receiving the honor was simply to reenlist.
Another annulment was the medal given to Lt. Col. Asa Bird Gardiner, who got
it in 1872 for simply writing: “I understand there are a number of bronze
medals for distribution to soldiers of the late war, and request I be
allowed one as a souvenir of memorable times past.” Dr. Mary Walker, whose
service included tending to soldiers at Chatham following the Battle of
Fredericksburg, had her medal revoked because, “This was a contract surgeon
whose service does not appear to have been distinguished in action or
otherwise.” Walker refused to return her medal and continued to wear it
proudly. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter officially restored her Medal of
Even though some of the Medals of Honor that had been issued did not meet
the standard for which the medal was intended, the board did not take
pleasure in rescinding the award. They reported, “In this connection the
board ventures to suggest that other insignia, in addition to the medal of
honor, be established by Congress to be awarded for distinguished or highly
meritorious services, not only in action but also in other spheres of
duty.” The result was the establishment of the Distinguished Service Cross,
the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star, established
between 1918 and 1944.
To date, 3,519 Medals of Honor have been awarded – 1,522 for deeds performed
during the Civil War. Of the 131 awarded for actions in the Fredericksburg
area, Private Archibald Freeman of the 124th New York, who received his
medal for service at Spotsylvania at the age of sixteen, was the youngest.
Brigadier General John Robinson, who also received his medal for service at
Spotsylvania, was both the highest ranking and the oldest at age 47.
Among the twenty Medal of Honors awarded for service during the Battle of
Fredericksburg, was Lieut. Evan Woodward, of the 2nd Pennsylvania Reserves.
Woodward ordered several companies in his regiment to wheel toward the
exposed Confederate flank and toward the cannon massed on Prospect Hill.
This portion of the reserves soon found themselves on the flank and in rear
of the unsuspecting 19th Georgia, and opened fire. The Georgians were
caught in a crossfire, with some of the bullets fired from Union soldiers in
front of the Confederates striking Woodward’s men behind the Confederates.
Woodward sprang to action, dashing into the Confederate trench and getting
them to surrender and capturing a battle flag – the sole banner captured by
the entire Union army in the otherwise disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg.
But the story of this Medal of Honor did not end with Woodworth’s seizure of
the flag. As an officer providing critical leadership at a critical moment
of the battle, he felt he could not leave the battlefront, so he entrusted
the flag to a private instructed to take the flag to the rear. That private
was wounded, and another soldier named Jacob Cart picked up the flag, turned
it in, and also received the Medal of Honor – so two medals were awarded for
the capture of the same flag!
During the Chancellorsville Campaign, 41 Medals of Honor were bestowed,
including one to Private John F. Chase of the 5th Maine Light Artillery,
stationed at the Chancellorsville Inn during the morning of May 3, 1863. As
shot and shell pounded the battery, five of the six guns fell silent and
Chase was one of a two-person team that kept the final gun firing. With the
help of the Irish Brigade, they pulled that last gun to the rear via the
prolonge rope, and then Chase returned to the front to carry the badly
wounded acting battery commander Lieut. Edmund Kirby from the field. His
Medal of Honor was donated to the park on the 146th anniversary of the
The Battle of the Wilderness was the scene of deeds of bravery leading to 23
Medals of Honor. Lt. John H. Patterson, of the 11th United States Infantry,
received his medal because of his actions during the infamous fires that
broke out during that battle, when he “picked up and carried several hundred
yards to a place of safety a wounded officer of his regiment who was
helpless and would otherwise have been burned in the forest.” His medal is
also in the possession of the park and on display.
The Battle of Spotsylvania was the setting for more Medals of Honor than any
of the other three battles in the park – a total of 47. Of that number, 22
were awarded for gallantry during the initial attack on the Mule Shoe
salient on the morning of May 12, 1864. Maugle concluded that this first
hour of the assault represented “the most concentrated period of Medal of
Honor actions performed in American military history.” All 22 medals were
presented for the performance of the same type of deed – the capture of a
Confederate battle flag. At least one recipient, Private Francis Bishop, of
the 57th Pennsylvania, acknowledged that flags were simply there and he took
one, stating, “I did not realize at the time that there was any particular
Maugle concluded by pointing out that the standards for receiving the Medal
of Honor today are significantly different than they were during the Civil
War, asking the round table members to consider whether the Civil War
recipients are less deserved of the award than those upon whom the honor has
been bestowed in modern times.
Greg Mertz Honored with the Emerging Civil War
The Emerging Civil War (ECW) has chosen RVCWRT
Scribe and founding president, Greg Mertz, as the recipient of the 2018
Thomas Greeley Stevenson Award. This award is presented annually to an
individual (or organization) that has made a significant contribution to
Greg Mertz has worked for the NPS for 37 years, and as
a supervisory historian at FSNMP for more than two decades.
The award is named after Brigadier General Thomas
Greeley Stevenson, Union IX Corps Division Commander, killed at Spotsylvania
Courthouse in May 1864.
THE FULL NORTH ANNA BATTLEFIELD
September 26, 2018, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
The Battle at
North Anna River was fought May 23 - 26, 1864 just after the Battle at
Spotsylvania Courthouse and just before the Battle of Cold Harbor during
General Grant's Overland Campaign. This engagement has not garnered as
much attention as those two battles because it wasn't a "blood bath,"
but it was a big opportunity lost for Robert E. Lee and his Army of
Northern Virginia because they had at least two of Grant's Army Corps in
serious peril and let them get away.
The Battle of
North Anna River was fought basically at three separate locations about
six miles apart along the shores of the river. For many years, this
battlefield has been inaccessible to the general public but that started
to change some years ago when Hanover County and the Martin Marietta
Company reached two separate agreements a few years apart to set aside
180 acres of land next to Martin Marietta's Doswell quarry for the
County to establish a Civil War Park covering the Ox Ford portion of the
battle. This left the other two main areas of the battlefield (Jericho
Mills, Telegraph Road & Henagan's Redoubt) still in private hands.
in 2014 when the Civil War Trust (now the American Battlefield Trust)
purchased 654 acres of land at the Jericho Mills site. The purchase
agreement allowed the previous owner to lease property as a working
farm, so for the time being public access is only by special arrangement
with the Richmond National Battlefield Park. Just recently, the Civil
War Trust purchased 125 acres along the Telegraph Road (US Route 1)
portion of the battlefield south of the river.
We have been
given a unique opportunity by the Richmond National Battlefield Park to
take a group tour of the whole battlefield led by Bob Stone, a local
Civil War instructor, speaker, and tour guide (and Lake of the Woods
resident). Bob cautions that this tour will involve a large amount of
walking (around 5 miles total) over uneven ground, and that it is not
accessible at this time for handicapped individuals. Transportation will
be by shared rides in a car caravan (4 per car), and the total group
size will not exceed 24 people. The cars will leave from the Lake of the
Woods lower parking lot at 8:00 a.m. Everyone is responsible for
bringing their own lunch, snacks and drinks. There is a picnic grounds
at the Ox Ford Park.
If you are
interested in taking this tour, please call Bob Stone at 540-388-2880 to
get more information, or to get on the list, and to let him know if you
are willing to drive three additional people. Registration is
first-come, first-served until the 24 slots are filled. There will be no
charges for the tour guide or the battlefield visit. The only expenses
will be the provision of your own bag or picnic lunch and the cost of
driving for those that drive their car in the caravan. It is recommended
that each person riding in someone else's car pay that individual $10 to
help cover the car expenses.
Please contact Bob Jones to order your dinner in advance or
to confirm your dinner reservation. Please call Bob Jones @ 540-399-1702 or
send him your e-mail at
Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg
a courtesy, the RVCWRT provides as a regular feature each month, the ongoing
scheduled speakers for the CWRTF’s 2018 Program Year. The Civil War Round
Table of Fredericksburg normally meets on the fourth Wednesday of every
month (except for one meeting held on the third Wednesday of June 2018).
Dinner Meetings are held at the UMW’s Jepson Center located at
Hanover Street, Fredericksburg, VA,
dinner cost is $32.00 per person. Advance reservations should be made by
or telephone: 540-361-2105.
Scheduled Speakers for the
2018 and 2019
October 24, 2018
Generalship of Lee and Grant in the Overland Campaign"
November 14, 2018
"Confederate Generals' Uniforms"
January 23, 2019
"Civil War Railroads"
February 27, 2019
of the Battle of Fredericksburg"
"James Hanger and the Hanger Company"
1861 Peace Conference"
Patrick Schroeder, NPS
America's Forgotten Soldiers"
SEPT. 25, 2019
Brian E. Withrow
“Ulysses S. Grant in Character”
Michael K. Shaffer
“In Memory of Self and Comrades: Thomas W.
Letter to RT Membership
This letter (in part) was received from Abbi Smithmyer, an NPS
summer intern: "I wanted to express my sincere appreciation for what your
organization does and accomplishes. I think what you offer is crucial to
sustaining interests in your area and the Civil War in general. Thank you
for helping to make my summer so enjoyable".
The Drum and Bugle Newsletter is published monthly, by the
Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table, Post Office Box 7632,
Fredericksburg, VA 22404. Each month, The Drum and Bugle newsletter is also
placed on our web-site, www.RVCWRT.org. Yearly membership dues are $35.00
for an individual, $45.00 for families, and only $7.50 for students.
Membership is open to anyone interested in the study of the Civil War and
the ongoing preservation of Civil War sites.
RVCWRT Executive Committee:
Member at Large:
Member at Large:
Member at Large:
Media & Events Coordinator: