Thursday, January 26, 2017

Texans at West Point

After Texas joined the United States, three Texans received appointments before the start of the Civil War. 

James B. McIntyre - Cullum Number: 1627 - Class Rank: 49 

He graduated 49th in his class and the Army promoted him to brevet second lieutenant of infantry on July 1, 1853. 

The Army assigned him to duty on the frontier at Ft. Brown, Texas (1853-1854) and Ft. Belknap, Texas (1854-1855). 

On March 3, 1855, the Army promoted McIntyre to second lieutenant, First Cavalry. He was a member of the Sioux Expedition (1855) and at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas (1855-1856). 

The Army promoted him to first lieutenant, First Cavalry on January 16, 1857. 

Ft. Kearny, Nebraska
The First Cavalry rode to Ft. Kearny, Nebraska in 1856. At Ft. Kearny, the First performed scouting duty (1856) against the Cheyenne Indians and fought a skirmish near the fort on August 26, 1856. The Army sent him to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas (1856-1857) where his unit participated in Cheyenne Expedition (1857), engaged the Cheyenne in the action on Solomon's Fork of the Kansas on July 29, 1857, and fought the Kiowa and Comanche Indians in a skirmish near Grand Saline, Kansas on August 6, 1857. He served at Ft. Riley, Kansas (1857-1858), Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas (1858), Ft. Riley, Kansas (1859-1860), and Ft. Wise, Colorado (1860). While assigned to these posts, he participated in the Utah Expedition (1858), the march to the Arkansas River (1859), and the Kiowa and Comanche Expedition (1860). He was Quartermaster of the First Cavalry from April 15, 1858 to April 30, 1860. He received a leave of absence from April 1860 until May 1861. 
American Frontier Forts
When the Civil War began, McIntyre honored his commitment to the Union Army. On his return to active duty, the Army promoted him captain in the First Cavalry on May 3, 1861. On August 3, 1861, McIntyre transferred to the Fourth US Cavalry. McIntyre's initial assignment during the Civil War was in the Defence of Washington, DC September 22, 1861 to March 1862. He commanded a Squadron of the Escort of Major General McClellan of the Army of the Potomac in the Virginia Peninsular Campaign (March-August 1862) and in the Maryland Campaign (September-November 1862). He was on detached service at Washington, DC from December 1862 to March 1863. McIntyre commanded a company in Union operations in Tennessee and Alabama (March-June 1863) which fought in cavalry action at Franklin, Tennessee on May 10, 1863. He received a brevet promotion to major on May 10, 1863 for gallant and meritorious services in the cavalry action at Franklin, Tennessee. He directed a regiment (June-December 1863) that saw action near Chickamauga, Georgia on September 25, 1863 and fought the enemy in numerous skirmishes. The Army promoted him to lieutenant colonel for gallant and meritorious services in the action near Chickamauga, Georgia. 

He was on a leave of absence from December 24, 1863 to February 1864. The Army placed McIntyre in command of the cavalry regiment from March to November 17, 1864. He led the regiment on its march from Nashville, Tennessee to join the Army of the Cumberland in the invasion of Georgia. He was in charge of the unit in the cavalry operations of the campaign. After the regiment returned to Nashville, Tennessee, the Army granted him a leave of absence from November 17, 1864 to January 1865. Following his leave, he was in command of the regiment at their camp at Gravelly Springs, Alabama (January -March 1865). He was on recruiting service at Baltimore, Maryland from March 1, l865 to January 5, 1866. 

After the war, McIntyre commanded posts at Ft. Brown, Texas (May 1866- January 1867) and Ft. Larned, Kansas (January-May 1867). He received a promotion to major, Third Cavalry on July 28, 1866 at Ft. Larned. He died on May 10, 1867 at Ft. Larned, Kansas at the age of 34.

For more information on McIntyre, please see Fiddler's Green: James B. McIntyre, 

Horace Randal - Cullum Number: 1675 - Class Rank: 45 

Randal was a cadet at the US Military Academy from July 1, 1849, to July 1, 1854.He graduated 45th in his class and the Army promoted him to brevet second lieutenant of infantry on July 1, 1854. 

Horace Randal
The Army assigned him to duty on the frontier. He conducted recruits to Ft. Washita, Indian Territory (1854-1855). The Army assigned him to Ft. Davis, Texas (1855) where Randal had scouting duties. On March 3, 1855, he received a promotion to second lieutenant in the First Dragoons. He participated in a surprise attack on an Apache Indian camp near Ft. Bliss, Texas on July 22, 1855. Later that year, the Army posted him Ft. Union, New Mexico (1855) and Los Lunas, New Mexico (1855-1857). He fought in a skirmish against Apache Indians near the Almaigre Mountains in April 1856 and in an action with the Apaches near Gila River on November 30, 1856. He served at Ft. Buchanan, New Mexico (1857); on recruiting service (1858); and on frontier duty at Ft. Buchanan, New Mexico (1859-1860). 

Randal resigned from the United States Army on February 27, 1861. He joined the Confederate Army and received a commission as a first lieutenant in the cavalry on March 16, 1861. Initially, he served in General Braxton Bragg's quartermaster corps at Pensacola, Florida. The Army transferred him to the Army of Northern Virginia. On November 16, 1861, the Army appointed him as an aide-de-camp to Major General Gustavus W. Smith. On February 12, 1862, Randal received a commission as a colonel of cavalry. Colonel Randal recruited the Twenty-eighth Texas Cavalry regiment (Dismounted) from men in and around Marshall, Texas. Randal appointed his father, brother, and brother-in-law to serve on his regimental staff. On July 9, 1862, the regiment composed of twelve companies through Marshall and marched to Little Rock, Arkansas. In Little Rock, the regiment joined what was to become the Second Brigade of General John G. Walker's Texas (Greyhound) Division. The Army appointed Colonel Randal brigade commander on September 3, 1862, and he served in Arkansas and Louisiana. He led the brigade at Milliken's Bend during the Vicksburg campaign in June 1863, and in repulsing Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks' Red River campaign in the spring of 1864. General E. Kirby Smith appointed Randal brigadier general on April 8, 1864, but the Confederate government never confirmed his promotion. He was killed at the Battle of Jenkins Ferry, Arkansas on April 30, 1864. 

For more information on Randal, please see Randal, Horace and Twenty-eighth Texas Cavalry

Henry C. McNeill - Cullum Number: 1785 - Class Rank: 26 

McNeill was a cadet at the US Military Academy from July 1, 1853, to July 1, 1857. He graduated 26th in his class and the Army promoted him to brevet second lieutenant, Mounted Riflemen, July 1, 1857. He attended the Cavalry School for Practice at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 1857-1858. The Army promoted him to second lieutenant, Mounted Riflemen on October 26 1857. 

The Army assigned him to frontier duty at Ft. Thorn, New Mexico (1858); Ft. Defiance. New Mexico (1859); and Ft. Fillmore, New Mexico (1859) where he engaged in scouting activities in Navajo Country, New Mexico. 

While on an expedition against the Pinal Apaches (1859-1860), McNeill fought in a skirmish near Ft. Buchanan, New Mexico on December 3, 1860. He was at Ft. Fillmore, New Mexico (1860); on scouting duty (1860-1861); and on scouting duty at Ft. Union, New Mexico (1861) and Ft. Stanton, New Mexico (1861). 

The Fifth Texas Cavalry
On May 12, 1861, McNeil resigned his commission and joined the Rebellion of 1861-1866 against the United States. The Confederate Army commissioned him as a first lieutenant. On August 9, 1861, McNeill received a commission as lieutenant colonel in the Fifth Texas Cavalry. He distinguished himself during the New Mexico campaign, at one point capturing the bulk of a Union army regiment. On May 20, 1863, the Confederacy promoted McNeill to colonel. 

The Battle of Mansfield
From January 1863 to September 1864, McNeill served with this unit and acted as commander in several engagements. These actions included the battles of Galveston and Bayou Bourbeau, Louisiana, in 1863 and the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill in Louisiana in 1864. A valued officer, his superiors repeatedly recommended McNeill for promotion to general. In 1864, McNeill's father turned over control of the family plantation and its forty-six slaves to McNeill and his brother-in-law, T. Scott Anderson. On May 26, 1865, McNeill and his unit surrendered along with the rest of the Trans-Mississippi command by Gen. E. Kirby Smith. 

After the war, McNeill farmed in Eagle Lake, Texas. Henry McNeill died in Columbus, Texas, on November 29, 1876, of congestion of the lungs. His grave is probably in Lakeview Cemetery, Eagle Lake, Colorado County. He married Margaret L. Murray. 

For more information on McNeill, please see McNeill, Henry Cameron,

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fort Heiman

On January 30, Major General Henry Halleck ordered Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant to prepare "to take and hold Fort Henry."[1] Grant quickly got things moving. His invasion force consisted of 15,000 to 17,000 men in two divisions and the Western Flotilla. Brigadier General John A. McClernand commanded the First Division at Cairo, Brigadier General Charles F. Smith led Second Division at Paducah and Smithland, and US Navy Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote directed the Western Flotilla. The Western Flotilla had four "ironclad" gunboats (Foote's flagship USS Cincinnati, USS Carondelet, USS St. Louis, and USS Essex) commanded by the flag officer, and three "timberclad" gunboats (USS Conestoga, USS Tyler, and USS Lexington) under Lieutenant Seth L. Phelps. 
Attack on Fort Henry and Fort Donelson

Grant informed Smith that " On Monday next I expect to start from Smithland, Paducah, and this place some 15,000 men for Fort Henry, to take and occupy that position. Full instructions will be received from General Halleck in the morning. At the present I am only in possession of telegraphic orders to take and hold it."[2]
Col. Adolphus Heiman
When the federal attack began on February 4, Colonel Adolphus Heiman was in command of the works because Brigadier General Tilghman was inspecting construction at Fort Donelson. The Confederates fired rockets to alert Tilghman of the Union assault. Fort Henry's garrison of 2,600 troops was scattered with two regiments at Fort Heiman and two up the river at Paris Landing. Colonel Heiman waited for Tilghman's orders to consolidate the dispersed troops. When Tilghman heard the artillery exchange that morning and learned that Union troops had landed below the fort that afternoon, he placed Colonel John W. Heard in command at Donelson and left for Henry. Tilghman and his escort reached Fort Henry around 11:30 p.m. on February 4.

General Lloyd Tilghman
The next day, Tilghman ordered the evacuation of Fort Heiman except for two companies of Alabama cavalry and the forty Kentucky men of Padgett's Spy Company. Tilghman instructed this small force to harass Union forces on the Kentucky side of the river. The Fifteenth Arkansas Regiment and Twenty-Seventh Alabama Regiment crossed the river and joined their comrades at Fort Henry.
Smith's Second division arrived on the scene. Two brigades landed on the Kentucky side and one brigade on the Tennessee side. It was after 11:00 p.m. on February 5 before all of Grant's army was in position. Tilghman knew he was outnumbered and regretted "the wretched military position of Fort Henry and the small force" at his disposal. [3]

Attack on Fort Henry
The attack began at dawn on February 6. While Union gunboats were bombarding Fort Henry, General Smith's troops advanced to Fort Heiman. The remaining Confederate quickly left Heiman when they saw Smith's troops. The Rebels abandoned the fort so fast that they left their recently prepared dinner. Smith and General Wallace enjoyed a meal of a block of pork "done to a turn" and cornbread. Across the river, they saw the United States flag flying over Fort Henry [4]

Flag Officer
Andrew H. Foote 
In the time it had taken for Smith's forces to reach Fort Heiman, Foote's seven-gunboat flotilla had bombarded Fort Henry into submission. Foote deployed the four ironclads in a line abreast, followed by the three wooden ships. Foote kept the "timber clad" gunboats away from the fort and fired from long-range on the works. The flagship USS Essex opened fire at 1,700 yards, and the artillery battle began. The other gunboats started shelling the fort, and Henry's guns returned fire. The gunships slowly approached the fort until they were within 600 yards of the Rebel batteries when "the fire both from the gunboats and fort increased in rapidity and accuracy of range." About twenty minutes before the fort surrendered, the Essex "received a shot in her boilers, which resulted in wounding, by scalding, 29 officers, and men, including commander Porter." The shot forced the disabled Essex out of the line. The firing continued with "unabated rapidity and effect upon the three gunboats" as they "continued to approach the fort with their destructive fire until the rebel flag was hauled down, after a very severe and closely contested action of one hour and fifteen minutes." General Tilghman had no choice except to surrender, and he sent a boat containing his adjutant general and captain of engineers to request a meeting with the flag officer. The fort was so badly flooded that a small boat was able to sail through the sally port [5] to pick up Tilghman for the surrender ceremony on the Cincinnati. The evacuating force left all of its artillery and equipment behind. Foote reported taking "the general, his staff and 60 or 70 men as prisoners,[6] and a hospital ship containing 60 invalids, together with the fort and its effects, mounting twenty guns, mostly of heavy caliber, with barracks and tents capable of accommodating 15,000 men, and sundry articles." Flag Officer Foote commented, "The excessively muddy roads and high stage of water" altered the army's role in the attack and "prevented the Army reaching the rear of the fort to make a demonstration simultaneously with the Navy" until after Foote had taken possession of the fort.[7]
The Union victory was mostly due to the flooded condition of the fort. The low elevation of the Rebel guns only allowed their shells to hit the ships where their armor was strongest. As Foote pointed out in his report to General Halleck, except for skirmishes the day before and pursuit of the fleeing Confederates, it was a victory won by the Union navy. While the flag officer and the new city class gunboats claimed the victory, both the army and navy were proud of the successful amphibious operation.
Buoyed by the easy victory, Grant sent a triumphant dispatch to Halleck:
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF CAIRO,Fort Henry, February 6, 1862.
Fort Henry is ours. The gunboats silenced the batteries before the investment was completed. I think the garrison must have commenced the retreat last night. Our cavalry followed, finding two guns abandoned in the retreat.
 I shall take and destroy Fort Donelson on the 8th and return to Fort Henry.
U. S. GRANT,Brigadier-General.Maj. Gen. H. W. HALLECK, Saint Louis, Mo.[8]
Last Fall, I had the opportunity to return to Fort Donelson and discovered the Fort Heiman unit of the National Battlefield.

Entrance to Fort Heiman
Markers along the road explain the role of the fort in the Civil War.
Description of the Unfinished Fort prior to the Battle of Fort Henry

Along the road with remains of earthworks

The fort was under Union control after the Battle of Fort Henry

General Forest conducted a raid on the Union Works

Video 1 on earthworks

Video 2 on earthworks


[1James Knight, Battle of Fort Donelson (Charleston: History Press, 2011), 70. 

[2] Grant, U. S. Orders to C. F. Smith, January 31, 1862, Official Records, Ser. 1 - Vol. 7, 575. 
[3] Knight, Fort Donelson, 73.
[4] Knight, Fort Donelson, 80.

[5] A sally port is a secure, controlled entryway of a fortification. Sally port,, Accessed 15 October 2012.

[6] Other accounts say 12 officers and 82 men surrendered with 15 men killed and 20 wounded.

[7] Foote, A. H. Report to H. W. Halleck, February 7, 1862, Official Records, Ser. 1 - Vol. 7, 122-124.

[8] Grant, U. S. Note to H. W. Halleck, February 6, 1862, Official Records, Ser. 1 - Vol. 7, 124.