Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Captured Federal flags apart of materials surrendered in Charlotte

   A couple of weeks ago, I wrote on the captured CS papers in Charlotte at the end of the war. You can catch that article here. What was captured, and what was lost, is a topic that occupies my mind from time to time. I kind of side with Joe Johnston - more of this should have been preserved for history! Johnston wrote to Maj. Gen. John Schofield on May 8, 1865: "It has just been reported to me that the archives of the War Department of the Confederate States are here. As they will furnish valuable materials for history, I am anxious for their preservation, and doubt not that you are too. For that object I am ready to deliver them to the officer you may direct to receive them." (OR 47, 3:443)
   In that lot of 81 or 83 boxes (different accounts) are "5 boxes, marked captured flags." (OR 47, 3: 534) Of course, we don't know the size of these boxes. There were boxes "of various sizes, from an ammunition box to a large clothing chest... They were also of all shapes. Some of them are rifle boxes, and many of them resemble the ordinary army mess chest." (OR 47, 3:497).
   If a Confederate soldier captured a flag in battle, then it was usually sent further up the chain of command, and eventually forwarded to Richmond and the War Department. An interesting article appeared in the Richmond Enquirer in November 6, 1863 (possibly from the Atlanta Appeal). The article stated that "Lieut. Hugh Farley, of General Kershaw's staff, who, for his gallantry in the battle of Chickamauga, was detached, with four other kindred spirits from various divisions of the army, to carry the twenty-five captured flags to Richmond, has returned. But he gave an account of the mission which ought to put to blush every man connected with the department to which the embassy was sent.- He states that on arriving at the capital, the flags were taken, tumbled into a wagon driven by a negro to headquarters, and there, without ceremony--without even a recognition of the grave men who had borne them from the field-they were turned over to the clerks of the War Department like so many pieces of flannel." The rest of the article goes on to lambast the "well fed" clerks and government officials in Richmond. (November 6, 1863.)
   A delegation accompanying the flags appears to have been the standard operating procedure, at least through 1863. An order from Ewell, issued on June 15, 1863, stated that, "The garrison flag, captured by Maj. General Early's division, will be sent to Richmond by a detail to be made by Maj. Gen. Early." (Richmond Dispatch July 1. 1863). I presume this was a flag captured in Winchester.
    An interesting article from the Desert News (Salt Lake City), but probably cobbled together from another newspaper, stated that the "rebels claimed that they had 239 of our flags." (March 15, 1865.) One little piece came from the Wilmington Herald, May 22, 1865. The article was discussing the captured boxes that had recently passed through Raleigh. In the lots were "four boxes marked captured flags'-two of them 1863. These contain the battle flags captured from regiments in the Union army, and their recovery will undoubtedly be an immense satisfaction to those interested. The battle flags lost by the national forces at Chickamauga and the few lost during the Gettysburg campaign are among the most prominent." (May 22, 1865) There might be a list somewhere of these captured flags.
Flag of 17th Michigan captured by 37th NC 
   One of the flags I believe in the lot turned over to US forces in Charlotte belonged to the 17th Michigan Infantry. It was captured on May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania Court House by Lt. James M. Grimsley, 37th North Carolina. Billy Mahone tried to claim that this flag was captured by one his men, and not by a member of Lane's brigade. According to sworn statements, Lieut. Grimsley, with twenty or thirty of his regiment, met with a yankee color Sergeant and some half dozen other yankees; that Lieut. G. demanded their surrender to which the Sergeant replied, "certainly Lieutenant, but as I have carried the colors so long, please let me carry them to the rear;' that Lieut. G[rimsley] consented, directing some of his men to take charge of them and keep a sharp lookout upon them. Corporal Plummer in addition, and just here, testified that at that time the yankee Sergeant took off the oil cloth cover which belonged to the flag, and which he had tied around his waist, and also the staff pouch now used in the 37th N. C. T. and gave them to him.... Grimsley with his men conducted the party to the rear with the colors. Just before getting to the edge of the woods, Lieut. Grimsley probably desirous of carrying  his capture himself into the lines, told the Sergeant to hand the flag over to him, which he did." (Our Living and Our Dead January 21, 1874)
   C. S. Venable, Lee's A. D. C., signed a note on May 13, 1864, acknowledging the captured flags had arrived at headquarters.
      The 17th Michigan's flag was presumably sent to Richmond, and when the Confederate capital was abandoned, boxed up and sent via rail to Charlotte, where it was turned over to Federal forces in early May 1865. From there, it was sent to Washington, D. C., with the other boxes from the War Department.
   A couple of weeks ago, I was talking (emailing) with Mat VanAcker about the flag of the 17th Michigan. He works with the Save the Flags program at the Michigan State Capital. I believe that the flag of the 17th Michigan was issued not long after the regiment was mustered into service in 1862. There are battle honors painted on the flag, including Antietam, Vicksburg, and East Tennessee. Mr. VanAcker cannot quite confirm when the flag was turned back over to the state of Michigan, but it was possibly on July 4, 1866, when the veterans of other Michigan regiments presented their flags brought home to the state at a ceremony in Detroit. However, it appears that veterans of the 17th Michigan worked quickly. Usually, it took years and copious amounts of paperwork for veterans to retrieve those flags captured during the war. (Would this not be a treasure trove to find?)  Thanks to the conflict between Mahone and Lane regarding the capture of this flag, we know more about its journey on May 12, 1864. It would be an interesting story to find out more about its capture from the Federal side.
   Those four or five boxes of captured US flags, turned over to Federal forces in May 1865,  make up just one more little part of the war on a much grander scale.

Friday, May 04, 2018

A Refugee Crisis

When we think of refugees during the War years, Vicksburg always comes to mind. Residents in the besieged city were forced out of their homes, living in caves dug into the hillsides about the river town. The often told stories include civilians who lived on rats, dogs, cats, birds and mules, just trying to survive.

Yet the stories of refugees is far greater that just those told about the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River in Vicksburg. The War produced hundreds of thousands of refugees across the South (an estimated 200,000 in Virginia alone). The could be found coming from small towns, like Winston, North Carolina, the first town burned by Federal troops (February 1862). Larger locations, like Atlanta and Columbia, were put to the torch, while other areas were shelled so extensively there civilian populations chose to flee. Charleston and Petersburg come to mind.
There were of course, the more famous Southern refugees, like Mary Chesnut, Varina Davis, and the family of Leonidas Polk. Refugees were not confined to women either: North Carolina governor Zebulon Baird Vance became a refugee at war's end. He fled to Statesville, living not far from the Confederate Senator from Tennessee, Landon Carter Haynes, who became a refugee much earlier.

The war touching places was not confined to these larger districts: it came to the rural areas as well. Arizona Houston recalled that when Kirk's raiders passed through the North Toe River Valley area of present-day Avery County, North Carolina, her mother was forced to relocate to her parents house after losing everything they owned. Col. John B. Palmer's (58th NC) home, and possible another residents, were burned during the same raid. The raiders took everything they had. In neighboring Yancey County, the home of Melchizedek Chandler was robbed and his wife threatened with hanging. When Chandler returned, he abandoned his home and moved closer to the relative safety of Burnsville. One county further west, in the Laurel community of Madison County, came the story of Confederate soldiers forcing some families into one single home, and then torching the others.
Technically, unless the former owners agreed to keep their former slaves on as hired hands at the end of the war, 3.6 million slaves became refugees, with no place to go, no house to live, no jobs, and with very limited (marketable) skills. There were Unionist displaced as well, like the families of Andrew Johnson, Horace Maynard, and William G. Brownlow. They were escorted from the Confederate controlled East Tennessee and sent packing up north.

What got me to thinking along these lines was a recent reading of Letters from Lee's Army, by Susan Leigh Blackford and Charles Minor Blackford. Blackford commanded a cavalry company early in the war, and then served as an assistant judge advocate on Longstreet's staff. While these letters are very edited (much like Mary Chesnut's Diary), they contain some fantastic description of life during the war. On July 11, 1864, Blackford writes from Petersburg:

We are camped just outside of town... The whole country around here is filled with refugees from Petersburg in any kind of shelter, many in tents. Mr. Watkins is about a mile from here in a barn. His party consists of his wife and himself, Mrs. Hall, Miss Cary and all the children. They sleep on the barn floor.... Every yard for miles around here is filled with tents and little shelters made of pine boards, in which whole families are packed; many of these people [are] of some means and all of great respectability. There must be great suffering." (266)

Yael Sternhell argues that the massive amount of refugees the war created remade the South's social landscape. The War "challenged the laws and customs that governed movement in the antebellum years and subverted structures of power that determined which Southerners had the right to move at will and which did not." (Routes of War, 7) I would argue that scarcely any family in the South was not affected by the refugee crisis the war produced. They knew of people displaced by the war, took in people displaced by the war, or became refugees themselves. Those people that Blackford encounter living in tents, barns, and shanties outside of peoples in June 1864 were just a fraction of those dislodged during the 1860s.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Longstreet in western North Carolina

In late fall of 1863, Longstreet moved his command toward Knoxville, attempting to drive Federal forces out of the city and to restore the rail link to Virginia. The high water mark of the campaign was the failed Confederate attempt to take Fort Sanders on November 29, 1863. Following the battle of Beans Station (December 4), Longstreet's men went into winter quarters in and around Rogersville and Morristown.

Longstreet's men complained mightily about their poor provisions that winter. A private in the Fifteenth Alabama recalled that: "The winter of '63-64 at Morristown, Tenn., was peculiarly hard. We had no huts, rations were scant and poor, as were blankets, clothing and shoes. We did not get a mail for three months. Plug tobacco could not be had..."  Some supplies were brought via rail to Bristol, or, when the railroad was in repair, a little further south.

James Longstreet
Longstreet also sent out foraging parties to scour the area for food and forage. While many of their scouts were confined to East Tennessee, it seems that on a few occasions, Longstreet's men ventured into western North Carolina. Wilkes County's Calvin Cowles wrote Governor Vance on April 4, 1864, that Longstreet's men had "come down through McDowell, Burke & Caldwell [Counties] & have nearly consumed all the grain they could pick up... What are poor day laborers to do for bread when every crib in the land is depleted to the lowest possible standard... I see a dark day ahead for the poor sons of toil and in fact for us all unless some unforseen good luck should happen." (UNC-Chapel Hill)  A local Caldwell County historian wrote after the war that the Ninth Georgia Battalion was encamped next to the mill in the Patterson Community of Caldwell County. (Hickerson, Echoes of Happy Valley, 101)

James H. Greenlee, a McDowell County resident, noted the arrival of Longstreet's men in February 1864. He noted on February 23 that seventy or eighty "soldiers from Longstreets army here hunting up cattle[.]" The next day, they were still around, "washing there cloths and mending their shoes." On March 20, Greenlee wrote that there were "48 wagons from the army" getting their feed. (UNC-CHapel Hill) Governor Vance complained in a letter to Secretary of War James Seddon on March 21, 1864, about elements of Jenkins's cavalry in "about twenty counties" impressing food and forage. "I complain," Vance wrote, "that a large body of broken-down cavalry horses are in North Carolina, eating up the substance of the people in a region desolated by drought and reduced to the verge of starvation..." Seddon wrote Vance back on March 26: "I regret to learn from your letter of the 21st--inst. of the necessity for the impressments of corn in Burke County, N.C., to sustain the Artillery horses of Genl. Longstreet's command..." (North Carolina Civil War Documentary, 199-203) Longstreet's command pulled out of east Tennessee toward the end of April, and presumably took his foragers with him.

It would be great to know more about the activities of Longstreet's men in western North Carolina. Did they come down the French Broad River route, and into Asheville, and then scout east? Or, how about the route over Roan Mountain, into the North Toe River Valley, and then into Caldwell, McDowell, and Burke Counties? Maybe if we could find those fifty letters that local citizens wrote to Vance, complaining of the recent Confederate arrivals, we could learn more about the visit of these soldiers in western North Carolina.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Meeting General Lee

Someone emailed me years ago, looking for a day-by-day account of a specific Confederate ancestor. This correspondent, I imagine, had no idea how far-fetched that request actually was.  Unless your ancestor kept a diary, you might be lucky to have a one-or-every-two-month glimpse into his personal life. And even then, those muster roll sheets don't tell us much about the day-to-day lives of these men.

R. E. Lee
Recently, I was reading Timothy H. Smith's The Story of Lee's Headquarters (1995) and found a brief mention of Brig. Gen. James H. Lane. While the account is very short, it adds a little to the personal story of Lane at Gettysburg. Lane, following the death of Brig. Gen. Lawrence Branch, was promoted to brigadier general and assumed command of the Branch's old brigade. But how many times did Lane and Lee interact during the war? Technically, Lane reported to his division commander (A. P. Hill, then William D. Pender, and finally Cadmus Wilcox). There are only three documented encounters between Lane and his corps commander, Stonewall Jackson - twice during the tearing up of the railroad in October 1862, and then in the dark woods the evening Jackson was mortally wounded by Lane's men. Of course, these men saw each other more frequently. But those encounters seem to have been lost to history.

While working on General Lee's Immortals, I came across a letter by Lane to the editor of the Richmond Times. Lane really just repeats what wrote in his official report, but does add an interesting little tidbit: on July 3, Lane writes, "Gen. Lee appeared in front of my line, reconnoitered the enemy's position, and, when he was about to leave, he remarked that, 'he needed more troops on the right, but he did not know where they were to come from.'" (The Indicator April 23, 1867) This is the second encounter between Lane and Lee.

James H. Lane
Surprisingly, mentions of encounters between Robert E. Lee and Jane H. Lane are few and far between. Lane wrote of dropping by Lee's office in Richmond in May 1862, as his regiment was being transferred from Kinston to Gordonsville, asking about better arms for the 28th North Carolina. They were obviously together on the afternoon of May 12, 1864, when Lee directed Lane to capture the Federal battery enfilading Confederate lines. Lane also records an encounter with Lee twice when Lane returned to the Army of Northern Virginia after his wounding. It was at this second encounter that Lee gave Lane some peaches sent to Lee by admirers. Lane shared the fruit with his own staff.

Then, in Smith's The Story of Lee's Headquarters, we find another encounter: Mrs. Thompson, who lived in the house we all know as Lee's Headquarters, "returned [from the Seminary] unmolested to the bullet-riddled and shell-ripped home, to find General Robert E. Lee, General A.P. Hill, General James Longstreet, General William Pendleton and General James Lane, along with" numerous staff officers." (84)  Wow! That puts Lane with the top brass of the Army of Northern Virginia (save General Ewell). Now, if this account was written about July 1, well, I might have some qualms about its authenticity. There were other brigades between Lane and the Thompson house headquarters. However, if it deals with the evening of July 2, or July 3, or July 4, then it could be true. Lane would have been in charge of the Light Division. I don't really know more about the account except that it appeared in print in 1968 in an account written by Eugene Sickles.

Lee's Headquarters
Robert E. Lee's circle of contacts was both large and small. He would have frequently been in contact with his own staff, his corps commanders, and certain members of their staff. A lowly brigadier general like James H. Lane never would have wandered over to army headquarters just to have a chat. It was against army protocol.

Would I have put the account of Lane being with Lee, Hill, and Longstreet in General Lee's Immortals? Maybe. But it would probably have been in the same place I found it... in a footnote.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Finding A. P Hill

   A few days ago, a friend and I visited the site of AP Hill's death in Petersburg, Virginia. It had been several years since my last visit. The locals in the area do a great job keeping the area clean. If you have never visited, it is located near Pamplin Historical Park, in the back of a small subdivision, off A. P Hill Drive.

   There are conflicting accounts of just who found Hill's body, but, I guess I am getting ahead of my story. Early on the morning of April 2, Hill was at Lee's headquarters in Petersburg when the Federal breakthrough occurred. Hill rushed from Petersburg south, attempting to find and rally his men and possibly seal the breach. He had two couriers with him: William H. Jenkins, 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry, and Sgt. George W. Tucker, 12th Virginia Cavalry. The latter was Hill's chief courier. The three had captured two Federal infantrymen, whom Hill sent to Lee under Jenkins. Hill and Tucker rode on. A mile or so later, they came upon more Federal soldiers. Two ducked behind a tree and aimed their rifles at Hill and Tucker, both of whom had their pistols drawn. Tucker rode a little ahead and demanded the two surrender. Hill advanced beside Tucker, echoing the demand to surrender. The two Federal soldiers, members of the 138th Pennsylvania, fired. Hill was killed, and Tucker, as ordered, rode back to Lee's headquarters. (This summery came from James I. Robertson, Jr.'s General A. P. Hill: The story of a Confederate Warrior.)

   George W. Tucker survived the war, and in 1899, wrote a detailed account of the affair that appeared in the Southern Historical Society Papers. Tucker writes that the "Fifth Alabama Battalion, skirmishing, found the General's body, which was still slightly warm, with nothing about it disturbed." Tucker's claim was repeated by Robertson in his biography of Hill, adding that the 5th Alabama Battalion was acting as headquarters' guard. According to Crute's Units of the Confederate States Army, the 5th Alabama Infantry Battalion was assigned to Hill as his provost guard sometime after Gettysburg.

    One of the Federals, Cpl. John W. Mauk wrote in 1899 that "Shortly afterwards I told Comrade Wolford that I would go and see what the officer had with him. I went a short distance, and saw what I took to be a skirmish line advancing. I went back and got part of the men on the hill, perhaps ten or fifteen, and deployed them as skirmishers for self-defense. The advancing line came within hailing distance. I ordered them to halt, which they did. Then I said: 'Throw up your arms, advance, and give an account of yourselves.' On being questioned, they said they had captured some rebel prisoners and were taking them to the rear. Six or eight were carrying guns, and were dressed in our uniform. About as many were without guns, and wore rebel uniforms. I took their word, and let them go. Turning round they asked me if a man had been killed near there. I told them an officer in the swamp. They went off in that direction. I had no suspicions at the time, but afterwards thought this was a Confederate ruse to get the body of the man I had just killed." (Southern Historical Society Papers Vol. 27 34-35)

A. Wilson Greene speculates in The Final Battles of the Petersburg Campaign: Breaking the Backbone of the Rebellion, (Second Addition), on the matter, writing "The stratagem of pretending to be a Federal detachment escorting captured Confederates seems a plausible way to navigate a country swarming with the enemy. The question as to how the Alabamians obtained Union uniforms must remain open." (264)

   But wait, there's more. An article appeared in The Southern Home, on May 5, 1870, years before a mention of the 5th Alabama Battalion, giving us a different account.
      "Gen. A. P. Hill - We have recently learned some particulars of the death of this distinguished officer from Mr. James Cody of Lincoln county, a gallant soldier of the 11th N. C. Regiment, who lost an eye in the service of his country. Mr. Cody says that a citizen named Kennedy reported to the Confederates that Gen. Hill had been killed, and a small party, consisting of himself, Lt. Col. Ursin [Eris Erson] of the 52nd [NC] Maj. Collins, Capt. J. M. Young, Capt. Daniel Hanes, and a Sergeant of Lane's Brigade, found the General near a branch lying on his back, his right arm grasping his revolver in the branch. The pistol had been discharged twice. The Confederate party captured the seven Yankees concealed in a little thicket, who had shot the General. They placed his body on a horse and removed it back to our lines. Mr. Cody thinks that General Hill was reconnoitering alone when fired upon, or, if attended, he was deserted when the fire opened."

   The challenge is this: where was the 5th Alabama Battalion posted when Hill was killed? Did they actually have time to learn of Hill's death and procure Federal uniforms and go in search of the General? All writers seem to agree that Hill's body was brought in a short time after his death. We know where Lane's brigade and the 11th and 52nd North Carolina of MacRae's brigade were originally posted: not far from where Hill's body was recovered. Capt. J. M. Young is probably James M. Young, Company K, 11th North Carolina. I don't easily see Major Collins, or Capt. Daniel Hanes, and there were many sergeants in Lane's brigade. James Cody also served in the 11th North Carolina. I wonder who the citizen named Kennedy was?

   Maybe there is more to the story of the recovery of Hill's body that we previously thought. In writing General Lee's Immortals, I stuck to the original script, stating that the General's body was recovered by the 5th Alabama Battalion. But I did make mention of that sergeant from Lane's brigade in a footnote.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Two new projects...

Pvt. John W. Towson, 39th Batt. VA Cav.  

   A lot of times, I'll show up at an event, give my talk, answer a few question, and at some point, get the inquiry "what are you working on next?" Unless I have a contract, I'm usually pretty hesitant about what's coming next. And I'm not sure why. It's not like there is a whole lot of idea-stealing in the history world. I suspect people want to know if I'm going to be working on a history of their ancestor's regiment or their favorite battle or campaign.

   So, I have two new projects under contract. Two? Am I crazy? Probably....

   A few you know (family and a few old friends) that when I was a kid, I was diagnosed as having ADHD. I could be the poster child for ADHD. Thankfully, my folks chose the Feingold diet and not the drugs for the treatment. (I'd probably be better off if I was still on the diet, or any diet!) So how does a person who has ADHD write books? I mean, we're easily distracted, right? Well, yes, we are, and look! an airplane! It seems at times like my brain is like the browser on your computer. I'll have a dozen tabs open and I will be constantly flipping through them. I compensate by working on multiple projects at a time. In fact, I often have four or five projects going at once. Some days, I might only work on one or two. Other days, I work on all of them. Many people would state that they could never get anything done like that. Well, since I have twenty-three books in print, I guess that odd strategy is working for me.

   Yesterday, I put two contracts in the mail for two new book-length projects. I've been working on both of them since I finished the proofs for Kirk's Civil War Raids Along the Blue Ridge, and both having me diving deep into the history of the Army of Northern Virginia.

   The first is a history of the 39th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, better known as Lee's Headquarters Guards or at times, Lee's Bodyguards. At times, this battalion of four companies was also known as Richardson's Battalion of Scouts, Guides, and Couriers. As these names imply, they did not function as a traditional cavalry command. Instead, they were attached to the staffs of various Confederate generals, like Jackson, Pickett, Early, and of course, Lee. Their primary mission was to act as couriers, but they also scouted, escorted prisoners, rounded up skulkers, established headquarter sites, etc. Of course, this will not be a traditional regimental history (like the others I have written) since they did not function like a regular cavalry command. I already have several thousand words on paper. This project will be published by the History Press and is due in to the publisher later this year.

   Contract #2 is something I've had floating around for a long time. When I first started writing (almost twenty-five years ago), I kept a list of things or subjects that I came across and that I felt could use an article or a book-length treatment. On that list was an idea to do something about Food Stuffs in the Confederate army. That idea is coming to fruition. I just signed with Savas Beatie (who did a great job publishing General Lee's Immortals) to publish Feeding the Army of Northern Virginia.  (My working title is Hard Crackers and Crackers Hard: Feeding the Army of Northern Virginia. "Hard crackers and crackers hard" comes from a July 1862 letter from a member of the 53rd GA). I have been doing background reading on this paroject for the past six or seven months, and have somewhere around fifty sets of letters under my belt and tons of citations/notes. The chapters include food issued by the army, food from home, food on campaign, and food in the hospital, with appendixes on feeding the generals and feeding camp servants. Like almost all of my other projects, this one will tackle the issue from the boots up, examining how the men in the ranks felt about their fare, how it affected their morale, while at the same time looking at how the Confederate government in Richmond contracted for the food, and transportation issues involved getting it to the rank and file in camps. I am really looking forward to working with Savas Beatie on this project, due to them in the summer of 2019.

Am I abandoning my study of North Carolina and the War? Not at all. There are a few connections with the 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry and the Tar Heel state (Alvis W. Daniels and Walter M. Rawlings were two members of the battalion who came to North Carolina after the war). Of course, all of my research into the 37th North Carolina and the Branch-Lane brigade made a good starting point for the Feeding the ANV project. I also have two on-the-side projects that deal with local North Carolina counties and the war, but more on those later.

Two new projects... it's the only way I stay sane......

Friday, March 30, 2018

War Department Papers Captured in Charlotte

Post-war image of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse
    To my knowledge (limited, I know), there has only been one article ever written on Confederate War Department papers. Dallas D. Irvine wrote "The Fate of Confederate Archives: Executive Office" and it appeared in The American Historical Review in July 1939. Irvine talks a great deal about the Papers of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, but for the next few lines, I would like to focus on the papers other than those of the Executive Branch.

   Irvine tells us that the papers of the State and War Departments were boxed up and sent away from Richmond. The State Department papers were sent away prior to the evacuation on April 2, 1865. William J. Bromwell, "disbursing clerk," was in charge. The papers were first taken to the Danville Female College, but Bromwell later loaded them back on the train and took the State Department papers to Charlotte. In Charlotte, "the containers were placed in packing crates marked with his [Bromwell's] initials and stored in the courthouse." Later, in fear of a Federal raid, they were removed to the "country" under the care of Mr. A. C. Williams" (826).  Bromwell wrote to Judah P. Benjamin on April 5, so I would assume they were in Charlotte and then the "country" by this date.

   According to Irvine, the papers of the Quartermaster's Department were shipped to Lynchburg, Virginia. All 128 cases of them were captured there. Records of the Exchange Bureau were left in Richmond, along with the records of the Engineer Bureau and from the office of the chief paymaster. The War Department papers were hurried out of Richmond on the night of April 2, 1865, and taken to Charlotte. There were reportedly 81 crates of documents. When Jefferson Davis chose to leave the Queen City, the papers of the War Department were turned over Gen. Samuel Cooper.

   Other papers from the War Department were destroyed, including the records of the Surgeon General, Commissary General, Signal Office, and Army intelligence Office. Other records still missing to this day include those of the Engineer Bureau, Ordnance Bureau, Niter and Mining Bureau, Office of Foreign Supplies, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Engineer Bureau papers were reported as abandoned in a railroad car in Greensboro. The ordnance records might have made it as far as Charlotte. It was reported that some records were destroyed at Fort Mill, South Carolina, possibly including the records of the Naval Department.
Some of the "Rebel Archives." Photo by Lee Spence. 

   The State Department records mentioned above, according to Irvine, were retrieved by Bromwell after the war and brought to Washington, D.C., by Confederate colonel John T. Picket. Picket put the papers up for sale in 1868, and they were finally sold to the US Treasury Department in 1872. In 1906 and 1910, they were transferred to the Library of Congress.

   An interesting paper trail for the War Department records can be found in the Official Records. After the surrender at the Bennett Place, Joseph E. Johnston made his way to Charlotte. Cooper notified Johnston of the papers, and on May 8, Johnston wrote from Charlotte to Maj. Gen. John Schofield: "It has just been reported to me that the archives of the War Department of the Confederate States are here. As they will furnish valuable materials for history, I am anxious for their preservation, and doubt not that you are too. For that object I am ready to deliver them to the officer you may direct to receive them." (OR 47, 3:443)

   Schofield finally responded on May 12, writing from Raleigh. He informed Johnston that he was sending "Lieutenant Washburn, of my staff, to receive the War Department papers... I fully share your desire for their preservation, as they will be invaluable to history, and will take care that they be properly preserved for that purpose." (OR 47, 3:483).

   When C. P. Washburne came calling on the evening of May 14, Johnston was out, but replied to Washburne's note that the documents had already been turned over to the local post commander. However, Johnston agreed to meet with Washburne the next morning. An observer noted that the papers were stored in a building on main street, "in a cellar-a dark, dismal spot... wagons were procured, and the boxes containing the documents conveyed to the railroad" and then taken to Raleigh. There were 83 boxes "of various sizes, from an ammunition box to a large clothing chest... They were also of all shapes. Some of them are rifle boxes, and many of them resemble the ordinary army mess chest." 

   Washburn wrote Col. W. M. Wherry on May 14 from Charlotte that he had the "rebel War Department documents" and would start for Raleigh at 7 o'clock the next morning (OR 47, 3:497). The papers were shipped via rail to Raleigh.

   US Secretary of War Edwin Stanton wrote to Schofield on May 16: "Please turn over to Colonel Cutts, to be brought here immediately, all the rebel War Department papers and correspondence recently captured by you, and all papers or correspondence relating to the rebellion or the operations of the rebel Government in Richmond... Also give Colonel Cutts transportation and every facility to get here with the papers as speedily as possible" (OR 47, 3:510).  At the same time, Schofield writes to Henry Halleck: "I have all the archives of the late rebel War Department, including all the army muster-rolls, officers' reports, captured flags, &c. They amount to about two car-loads" (OR 47, 3:511). Halleck fired back on May 16: "Box up all captured Confederate papers, flags, &c., and send them to C. A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War... Preserve every paper, however unimportant it may appear. We have the key to their ciphers. Important links of testimony have been discovered here of the Canadian plot." (OR 47, 3:511-12)

   There were several notes passed between Stanton, Halleck, and Schofield on May 17. Halleck informed Stanton that the boxes, "weighing ten tons" would set out that evening. Stanton wanted the papers shipped via rail, but that was not to be. Schofield then prepared a manifest of what he was shipping:  

   Halleck then notified Stanton that the papers "left Raleigh on the evening of the 17th." They were presumably shipped via rail to New Bern "or Beaufort," placed on the steamer John Tracy, and sent to Fort Monroe. Schofield sent a member of his staff, Colonel Treat, with the documents.  (OR 47, 3: 534)

   Stanton was trying to connect Jefferson Davis with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The papers soon arrived in Washington, D.C., but the connection between Davis and John Wilkes Booth eluded not only Stanton, but also historians up until this day.