Monday, January 27, 2020

A Most Lamentable Affair

Perhaps others more familiar with this unit have heard of this incident, but I had not until I found this newspaper account, so I thought I would share it here as I found it to be an interesting incident.

In late April of 1864, the men of the 31st Illinois infantry gathered at Carbondale, Illinois, preparing to return to the field after enjoying their well-earned furloughs. 

Local citizens planned a celebration for them, but unpredictable spring weather changed plans from a big reception to a nice meal and ball, which the soldiers still most certainly enjoyed.

The 31st achieved a distinguished Civil War service record, both before and after this gathering.  

The website Little Egypt in the Civil War called this regiment “one of the greatest in the Union,” and also provided the below image of John Logan.

Originally organized by John “Black Jack” Logan, the unit changed leaders, but remained an active fighting force. Throughout the war, it fought in battles and campaigns including (but not limited to) Belmont, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, the Siege of Vicksburg, the Atlanta Campaign, the March to the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign, including Bentonville. It participated in the Grand Review of the Armies in Washington D.C. before heading back west, where it mustered out July 19, 1865 and was then discharged in Springfield, Illinois on July 31. 

On the day of their meeting in Carbondale, festivities continued despite the poor weather that spring day.

A(ndrew) J. Kuykendall, the popular former Major of the unit, and a future Congressman, gave a speech that the men enjoyed, and soon an incoming train brought in Adjutant General Allen C. Fuller.  Fuller, described as an “eloquent speaker,” was “pressed into service” to give another speech. Rain continued to pour down, but the soldiers attentively listed to the General’s talk. 

Later that afternoon, however, a sad incident marred the day’s festivities. Here is how the May 2, 1864 Cincinnati Enquirer described it.  (The colonel’s actual name was Lindorf Ozburn, slightly different than how the writer spelled it in the story. His attacker was was William Weaver, as the final photo below the text shows.)

Lindorf Ozburn, per

From Cairo
Special Correspondence Cincinnati Enquirer
Cairo, April 24, 1864

A most lamentable affair occurred in the afternoon, which threw a gloom over all and marred all the happiness of the day. Lindsey Osburn  Esq., who succeeded General Logan as Colonel of the thirty-first (Brigade, Illinois volunteers), came into town in the morning, but did not mingle much among the men of the regiment, with whom he was personally quite unpopular. About three o'clock, he was sitting in R.M. Morgan's store, conversing with Quartermaster Swarthscope and several citizens, when two soldiers entered; one of them, named Weaver, from Williamson County, a member of Company K, approached Colonel Osburn, and without addressing a word to any one, struck Osburn a severe blow with a weight upon the left side of his head, breaking the skull, inflicting a mortal wound. As he passed out of the door, Weaver remarked, "You can lie there." Those in the store were so taken by surprise that no effort was made to arrest Weaver, who succeeded in making his escape. At noon yesterday Colonel Osburn was still alive, but insensible, and pronounced to be beyond the possibility of recovery.

Weaver owed the Colonel an old grudge for punishment inflicted while the latter commanded the regiment, and with several others had sworn to take his life upon the first opportunity.

Weaver exhibited the utmost coolness and determination in the affair, and showed himself to be a scoundrel of great nerve and daring. It was a cowardly act, and we are sorry that Col. Cook (perhaps Edwin S McCook) did not use more prompt and energetic measures for the villain's arrest. No effort should be left untried for Weaver's apprehension - he is a dangerous character to be at large, and every man, be he soldier or civilian, is in duty bound to exert himself to bring the murderer to justice. Colonel Osburn was a native of Murphysboro, about 43 years of age, and leaves a large family. He was Orderly Sergeant in a company raised in Jackson county during the Mexican war, and when the 31st regiment of Illinois volunteers was organized he was appointed its Quartermaster - subsequently became its Colonel.


A photograph on shows a historical marker that confirms the killer’s name and fate. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Lack of posting

Sorry for the lack of posts in recent weeks. I still hope to make at least 2-3 posts per month, but right now a lot is going on

I have some ideas for upcoming posts and even have a couplevof drafts started. Hopefully I will will be able to complete and edit them soon and return to posting a bit more frequently. 

I am still here.

Thanks for your understanding 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Some Newspaper Comments on South Carolina Seccession

In the days after South Carolina announced its secession on December 20, 1860, the Cincinnati Enquirer published several brief stories on various aspects of this event. Here is one that I thought was worth sharing from December 23, 1860.

Some people might say this article made a point the Confederacy never truly addressed, though Jefferson Davis does have his supporters, and others might claim Robert E. Lee stepped into that role through his military successes. 

The Revolution at the South - A Leader Wanted

Who is the “coming man?” (asks the  Philadelphia Bulletin) of the revolution that the Cotton States are trying to bring upon this Republic? Who is to be the Cromwell, the Napoleon, the Washington or the Girabaldi of the proposed Southern Confederacy? Thus far all the movements of the Seccessionists have failed to bring out from the masses a great genius, who may be able to “direct the storm” they are raising. Lawrence M. Keitt is not exactly the man to found a new nation; neither is Mr. Yancey  nor ex-governor Wise nor Senator Hammond  nor any one of the men that have mot furiously and impetuously urged secession. The soberness, wisdom, and self-possession of the South are all among the anti-secessionists. It is chief among the young and heedless that the insurgent spirit rages most violently. The destinies of a people can not safely be left in such hands. The very confusion and conflict of views that prevail among the Seccessionists prove how wrongly they are they are acting, not only to the whole nation, but especially to themselves. This confusion, also, prevents the enlistment of any great, wise and leading spirits in the cause of secession. There is a show of harmony, because so many people say they want secession. But as to the mode of accomplishing secession there seem to be irreconcilable differences, which, as the work of secession goes on, will develop into violent and dangerous jealousies. In such a state of the Southern popular mind, it is no wonder that there is a failure to obtain a great leader. Have the Seccessionists thought of the necessity of having some one wise and patriotic head, who will command the respect and confidence of all their people?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Would-Be Soldier

During the Civil War, some women disguised themselves as soldiers (male, of course) in order to fight in the war. This was not an overly common occurrence, but it did happen, probably more frequently than most people realized then or do today. This subject, however, has garnered more attention and study in recent years. For instance, the American Battlefields Trust has published a story on Female Soldiers in the Civil War, and here is a Smithsonian story on the topic. This nice article also discusses this situation, and a quick online search will turn up many similar accounts.

 I came across such an instance described in the January 10, 1862 Cincinnati Enquirer, and immediately knew it was a must share as I did not recall seeing a similar account in a local source. That it happened in Kentucky certainly heightened my interest, and then I realized it mentioned a unit that I’ve read about at Perryville, the 15th Kentucky Infantry, further capturing my attention.

Camp Temple, mentioned in the article, was Camp Joseph B. Temple, in New Haven, Nelson County, Kentucky, the same city in which the 15th Kentucky organized and mustered into service.

Location of New Haven, from

This unsigned letter was written from Camp Ham. Pope, also near New Haven, on January 6, 1862.

An incident not common in modern times, though frequent in the Amazonian and the days of chivalry, occurred at Camp Temple, adjoining us, yesterday. Some five weeks ago, a fine, healthy-looking and dashing young man joined Colonel Boone’s regiment (the 28th Kentucky Infantry.) He was duly mustered into service and performed the arduous duties of a soldier since, standing his regular guard and doing picket duty in his turn; but by some unlucky accident it was discovered yesterday that the man had changed his sex and turned out to be a woman. She was compelled, much against her will, to doff  the habiliments of Mars and substitute hat and hoops in their place. She was sent to Louisville under escort, with a view to be sent to Indiana, where it is said she hails from. She is a young widow, with captivating eyes and air and charms of romance. It is said she formerly enlisted and served sometime in a cavalry regiment, where she had a lover, and adopted the method of re-enlisting to reach him before or on the battlefield. I regret that I have not her name to send to you for the benefit of the novel writers, who could make a charming romance out of the affair. So fascinating was the would-be soldier, when forced out of unmentionables, that she quite captivated the heart of a gay Lieutenant, belonging to the Fifteenth Regiment. (This probably refers to the 15th Kentucky Infantry, which was organized at New Haven in the time frame the article describes.) He was formerly a rollicking disciple of Crispin* but now the light and life of the camp. He happened to be at the depot when she was departing, and, hearing the circumstance, immediately yielded himself up, a willing votary of the shrine of the heroine. Had she turned her face in any other direction than that of Louisville, the Fifteenth would now be minus one Lieutenant; but, inasmuch as there was another claimant for his affections there, with half a dozen responsibilities, he concluded that “discretion was the better part of valor.” 

The correspondent did briefly mention the female soldier’s physical appearance and “charms of romance,” while portraying her as chasing after a man, but also praised her work as a soldier instead of only commenting on traditional female traits, a fair and respectful description of this person. Of course, the lack of a name or other identification is a frustrating hole in the story, as is the ignorance of what the “unlucky accident” that revealed her secret was, but is still is a small, fascinating piece of the Civil War.

*The meaning of “a disciple of Crispin” is unclear. Crispin and Crispinian are patron saints of “cobblers, currents, tanners, and leather workers” per Wikipedia, and a St. Crispin’s Day Speech appears in Shakespeare’s play Henry V, but but neither of those appears to make sense in the context in which this article uses it. If anybody sees something I’ve overlooked, leave a comment or email me. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Why a Body-Guard?: Lincoln’s Trip to Gettysburg (And Other Commentary)

I was curious about what the Cincinnati Enquirer printed about the Gettysburg Address, though, having read other of its articles from this period, I had some idea of what to expect. 

Unfortunately, I could find no opinions about Lincoln’s few appropriate remarks directly from this journal. It did reprint an article from a Pennsylvania newspaper ridiculing Lincoln’s refusal to give an impromptu talk when a crowd serenaded him, but made no mention of his actual speech on that November day. 

The Enquirer did, however, provide a commentary about the President’s use of a group of soldiers as a bodyguard, an editorial easy to question now, with the knowledge of what happened at Ford’s Theater about seventeen months after these comments. It followed this with more editorializing about the administration. 

I do find it interesting that the author did at least use terms like “our arms” and “our armies” to advertise his loyalty to the United States while showing that he was obviously not a fan of the nation’s strategies or its “simple-minded President.”

The Enquirer published this piece on November 24, 1863.

Special Correspondence of the Enquirer

The President and his Body-Guard Gone on an Excursion - why Have a  a Body-Guard for a Republican President  - How Halleck is Snubbed by the President and a Secretary of War - Halleck Wants to Attack Richmond from the South - How Not to do It! - The Solution Found In Butler

Washington November 19, 1863 

The President, accompanied by two members of the Cabinet, several other dignitaries, and some of the foreign ministers, left  here yesterday in a special train, in order to attend the ceremonies of the dedication of the Soldiers’ Cemetery at Gettysburg. The President was es orated by a body-guard of soldiers. Why a body-guard of soldiers? No other President ever travelled so escorted. True we are at war. But the President was not going to the front. If he had been going to the front, to see how Gen. Meade was progressing in obeying his famous order to “find and fight the rebel army immediately,” then a body-guard of cavalry would have been eminently proper. Nay, no one even thought of objecting, when the successor of Washington and the “heir to the aspirations of John Brown” was seen every day during the summer, riding from the White House to the Soldiers’ Home, and back again, with his carriage escorted by a squadron of cavalry. For at that time, to the national disgrace be it said, if not so attended, Mr.Lincoln was in real danger of being captured and carried bodily off by bands of Confederate soldiers, who always found means to get within our lines; and who, under that singular man Mosby’s, even yet make their daily incursions to within sight of the dome of the Capitol. Besides, that mode of escort was so much more decorous and becoming than the one devised by the simple-minded President himself; namely, having a big infantry recruit, with his blunderbuss in hand, bundled into the carriage with the Chief Magistrate, and another one, similarly armed, seated beside the driver. Such was actually Mr. Lincoln’s body-guard, until it occurred to Halleck, who happened to see it one day, that that was not exactly the manner in which his President should be escorted. Then, and therefore, came the squadron of cavalry.

If the incongruity of a plain Republican President, thus assuming the state and manners of a King, struck for a moment, it was quickly followed by the recollection that the individual thus guarded by flashing sabers and all the panoply had usurped and exercised powers that no King of England would have dared to assume.

But why the body-guard of soldiers to go from Washington to Gettysburg in Pennsylvania? Not in order that the President may appear in due honor there, for there will be thousands of soldiers there to escort him. Not as a retinue en route, for the distinguished party who went in the same train formed a retinue composed of men of such position and distinction as an a Emperor might be proud of. The truth may as well be told. Mr. Lincoln never passed through Baltimore since the night when he went through that city in disguise; and he is afraid of it. Fears for his personal safety, and that alone, led him to take his military escort with him. Of course it would be an insult to your readers to say a word as to the utter groundless of any such fears; but this it is, that “conscience doth make cowards of us all.” 

The want of success which so often attends our arms; the fact that even the victories gained by our armies are always barren of results; the fact, in a word, that the war is no nearer a termination now than it was two years ago, is generally attributed to General Halleck. This is natural, because Halleck is nominally the General-in-chief of the army. But the fact is, General Halleck exercises very little authority in the management of the war, and none at all where his views come with those of either Mr. Lincoln or the Secretary of War. On such occasions (and they occur very often) Halleck is practically a cipher. Judged by a European standard, by the side of such Generals as Napoleon, Moreau, Ney, Desaix, McDonald, and Keebler, Halleck does not rank as a third-rate or a fourth-rate soldier. But when it is remembered that, of the trio who our conducting our campaigns, he is the only one who has even any pretensions to military knowledge, and that he is constantly snubbed and put down by the other two, how can we ever expect success? 

An illustration of this has just occurred. Because the Pennisula route to Richmond was the choice of a general McClellan; and  ecause that officer believed, in common with all other Generals who have enjoyed a military education, that the route affords the best opportunities for the capture of Richmond, therefore the Administration has decided never again to make a campaign on that route. In this decision Halleck concurred, and still concurs. Because General McClellan is known to believe that, for military reasons, it is impractical to reach Richmond by the overland route (a belief which the successive defeats on that route of Burnside, Pope, Burnside again, Hooker, and Hooker a second time, and the retreat of Meade, have proved to be well-founded,) therefore, the Administration has decided that that route, and that alone, shall be the only one in which our armies shall march to Richmond. In this decision, too, Halleck concurred; but he concurs in it no longer.

Every one who has studied the matter attentively, and with the aid of good maps, must have perceived that the present is the moment for making an attack on Richmond from the direction of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Petersburg; or at least for an expedition from Suffolk or Newberne (sic, i.e. New Bern), which, striking the Wilmington Railroad at Goldsborough or Weldon, shall destroy enough of that road to break up the connection between Richmond and Wilmington. The recent captures of the steamers Robert E. Lee and Cornu is have inflicted a severe blow upon the South. The port of Wilmington is about the only one left through which the Southern States can carry on their foreign commerce. To follow up this blow by an expedition which should destroy, or render useless the railroad between Wilmington and Richmond, would go far towards bringing the war to a termination. The Confederate leaders themselves are impressed with the importance of these facts, and, as I have recently learned, actually anticipate that a demonstration against this railroad, and an attack against Richmond from the South, will form a part of our plans for the winter campaign. General Halleck wishes this to be done; and before the removal of General Foster from the Military Department, he wished him to be reinforced to an amount that would give him the command of 75,000 troops, and intended him to attack Richmond from the south, while General Meade was marching toward it from the north. The President and Secretary of War, however, did not favor the project at all. And just then political considerations intervened, which resulted in the appointment of Butler to supersede General Foster. Of course that puts an effectual quietus on the whole project. Butler is not a fighting General, nor can he plan battles or campaigns for others to fight. His forte is to bully, to threaten, to irritate, and to make war on women and non-combatants. He was just the man to send to Newberne, in order that the war in that locality may be protracted, even at the expense, it may be, of a second Big Bethel. 

If the plan of General Halleck had been carried out, it may be too much to say that Richmond would have fallen this winter. But it is not too much to say that it would have been necessary for the Confederates to have exerted all their energies to save it, and to have concentrated there all of their forces in the East. As matters are now, however, they can easily defend their Capitol, for it is not even seriously threatened. 

Henry Halleck, from

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

“An Insult to Public Intelligence:” Abraham Lincoln’s Re-Election

Here is another story which seems appropriate to post at this time of the year, similar to a post I did recently.

 That previous post described one view of Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860, so this one naturally concerns his re-election four years later. The Cincinnati Enquirer published this on November 9, 1864. The author certainly did not hide his true feelings.

The Re-Election of Abraham Lincoln

Yesterday broke dark and lowering - the clouds were heavy - a drizzling and dismal rain was falling - and in every respect it was a cheerless and melancholy day; but a fit one for the re-election of ABRAHAM LINCOLN. The physical elements were in entire harmony with that state of the public morals and public intelligence that could repeat, after all the terrible lessons of the past, the horrid mistake of 1860. They were in harmony with the black and cheerless prospect that this re-election of the prime cause of our misfortunes opens to us. Nature, we repeat, sympathizing with the deed about to be committed, put on her most somber robe and darkest colorings. As to the means by which this political result was effected, we have spoken in another article. They will constitute the most woeful chapter in our national history. After making all due allowance for the frauds, forgeries, and rascalities, it will ever remain a wonder how so many hundreds of thousands of electors could deliberately vote to perpetuate the dynasty that is now in power. Not only does it seem to be an insult to public intelligence, but it would appear to be opposed to all the principles which ordinarily governs human nature and human conduct. It can only be accounted for upon the theory that a strange and unaccountable delusion has seized the public mind, giving it all the aspect of confirmed lunacy and madness. 

But it is useless, in this connection, and at this time, to speculate upon causes or express astonishment at results. What is written is written, and what is done is irrevocably finished. We can only hope for the best from this sad event and affliction, which forebodes such calamities to our beloved country. We hope we have in this matter no pride of opinion. Greatly should we rejoice if the future, which now appears to be of so frightful a character, should be robbed, as we approach it, of the evils that apparently attend it, and that some sparkling jewels may be found in the head of the ugly and venomous toad that is burrowing under the tree of American liberty. 

But with all the aid that philosophy can summon - with all the hope of the patriot - we can not draw aside the veil that hides another period of Mr. Lincoln’s administration without the greatest dread and apprehension. We are now embarked in a current that leads straight to the rapids of destruction, toward which the ship of State with all its priceless cargo is drawing near with frightful velocity. If we fail to be engulfed in its inmost depths under such pilotage as that of Mr. Lincoln, it will be the most remarkable miracle that was ever performed. 

"Long Abraham Lincoln a Little Longer"

Monday, November 4, 2019

“Their Triumph:” One Reaction to Abraham Lincoln’s Election

The Cincinnati Enquirer of November 8, 1860 included this brief commentary on one of the immediate effects of Abraham Lincoln’s election as President of the United States. It seems like a story worth sharing during election season.

The Negroes and the Election

The negroes in this city yesterday were greatly exhilarated by the triumph of Lincoln, and gave vent to their feelings in the most enthusiastic manner. They seemed to understand that it was emphatically their triumph; and all believe that it is the harbinger of Abolition in the South and negro equality in the North! In the Slave states the same belief extensively prevails. In this connection we will relate an anecdote or two to illustrate their feeling.

The other day, in Lexington, as we were assured by a Kentucky gentleman, while a lady was fitting a dress upon one of her slaves, a girl about nine years of age, the latter remarked that, if her mistress would give her another real nice dress, she would stay with her after the election! 

A few days since a Kentucky farmer, in Scott County, overheard one of his negroes inform his colleagues that, no matter what they did, he should stay with his master after the election! 

It will be remembered that, in 1856, a report was current in Tennessee among the negroes, that FREMONT had been elected, and was at the mouth of the Cumberland River, with a large force to set them free. They became insubordinate, and an extensive conspiracy and insurrection was the result. There can hardly be a doubt that the election of LINCOLN will have a bad effect upon the negroes, rendering those at the North saucy and insolent, and in the South insubordinate. 


The author - consciously or not - reinforced the “loyal slave narrative” that some slavery defenders used in claiming that slaves accepted or even liked being slaves, their situation and that they loved their masters while being naturally subordinate. Though these anecdotes at least implied it was possible that those slaves might leave, their conclusions supported the idea of the servants’ loyalty, before the final paragraph contradicted that view. The only word that seems to be missing from that final stanza is “uppity,” though I do not know if that was a word in those days. At least those closing lines acknowledge that slaves were able to desire change in their status and that not all slaves would be content to remain faithful and passive chattel.

This story also demonstrates the reality that even a newspaper editor in Ohio, a free state, did not maintain a positive attitude towards slaves and showed no sympathy towards them.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Citizens Transformed to Soldiers

The following article comes from the Cincinnati Enquirer of September 12, 1862, near the end of the episode called the Siege of Cincinnati. I wonder if the talks that the author mentions were with any of the soldiers (of either side) in the area at the time, or if this was based on earlier discussions.

Several of my recent (and probably upcoming) posts have come from articles like this that I found in the Enquirer. Some have been on topics I specifically looked up, while others, such as this one, have been interesting tales I found by chance and decided to share. 

This one is no Earth-shattering revelation of any sort, but I found it be a pretty good attempt to describe citizen-soldiers and their mindset, or at least the author’s perception of their mentality. 

Citizens Transformed to Soldiers
It is a thing which men will look upon with uneasiness or otherwise, according to their several temperaments, that we are approaching a state of things in which war will be a chronic condition. The moral revolution which men are required to experience before this condition arrives is more perceptible, perhaps, in the Southern than the Northern armies. Men who have, either as prisoners or otherwise, been within the lines of the former, and have had opportunities to converse freely with the troops, remark the transformation that has taken place by the process of converting, for long periods, the citizen into the soldier. The military qualities and ambitions are developed at the expense of the civil. The soldiers think and talk little of their homes in Alabama, Arkansas, or Mississippi. The army is their home; war their profession; its honors and its plunder their reward. Whether they ever return to their families and former places of residence is a matter of which they speak with indifference. Doubtless, though in a less perceptible degree, through a difference in the circumstances, the same process is going on in the Northern armies. The soldier, after a time, becomes a soldier of fortune. In the army all his thoughts are centered, and in the pains and pleasures, the desperate adventures and unrestrained gratifications of a soldier’s life, his entire moral capital is invested.  

There is no doubt that in this is the perfection of discipline and efficiency. When the civil and the domestic are abandoned - when the soldier no longer looks back with tender regret to home and farm and fireside - when he has adopted the army as at once family and country, it is then that he becomes dangerous - dangerous to the enemy in war, to his country in peace. Once a soldier of fortune, he needs employment. War is his element, and the excitements of the battle abroad are the only guarantee against his becoming a source of danger at home.

Here is one of the sad paradoxes of war. It is the duty of the soldier to make himself the iron thing which the necessities of the military service requires; and yet, at how sad an expense it is done of the civil, social, and domestic virtues! We cry out for discipline; and well we may. Elaborate leaders are written to show how necessary it is, not to the usefulness of the army merely, but to its safety; but yet, how few there are who take time to reflect how many sorrowful, and in any other aspect, undesirable, ingredients enter in to make up that discipline which is so greatly in demand.

Soldiers, photo from

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