Sunday, July 25, 2010

2LT G.W. Askew, the 42nd Alabama, and the Battle of Corinth

                A few years ago as I was working on my thesis involving the 42nd Alabama, I had the opportunity to visit the Battlefield at Corinth, Mississippi.  My father made the visit with me as we rediscovered the past.  Corinth was the first experience of combat for the 42nd Alabama.  The 42nd Alabama participated in the heaviest portions of the battle from 3-5 October 1862.  The regiment’s first combat occurred near Battery F on 3 October, the heaviest action occurred on 4 October during the attack on Battery Robinette and the unit saw its final fighting on 5 October at Davis Bridge during the retreat from Corinth.  The regiment suffered horrendous casualties over the course of these three days of constant fighting.  The severest killed-in-action rates occurred in companies A, B, and D.  Overall, the 42nd Alabama suffered 57 percent casualties, reducing the regiment from 700 to approximately 304 effectives.  The 42nd Alabama suffered the second highest casualty rate within its assigned Brigade, Commanded by General John C. Moore.  The 42nd Alabama incurred rates of 5.8 percent killed-in-action, 9.6 percent wounded-in-action, and 41 percent missing-in-action or captured.  Many of the regiment’s leaders were wounded-in-action, including the Regimental Commander, Colonel Portis and his deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Lanier.  Of the ten company commanders, Captain Foster was killed-in-action and Captain Knox died of wounds, this equated to a 20 percent killed in action rate for company commanders.  One other company commander, Captain Condry, was wounded-in-action and survived his wounds.  One First Sergeant was killed-in-action and two of ten First Sergeants were wounded-in-action.  In addition, one lieutenant was killed-in-action and six were wounded-in-action, one of these wounded was my GGGrandfather, G. W. Askew of F Company.  I have included a few eye witness accounts of the bloody action experienced by the 42nd Alabama.

Charles R. Labruzan, acting commander of F Company, a former Mobile Merchant, husband and father of four, described the scene near Battery Robinette: 

We were met by a perfect storm of grape, canister, cannon balls and minnie balls.  Oh God! I have never seen the like! The men fell like grass even here.  Giving one tremendous cheer, we dashed to the brow of the hill on which the fortifications are situated…I saw men, running at full speed, stop suddenly and fall upon their faces, with their brains scattered all around; others, with legs and arms cut off, shrieking with agony.  They fell behind, beside, and within a few feet of me.  (Oscar L. Jackson, The Colonel’s Diary. Sharon, PA, 1922, p. 71)

Lieutenant Jefferson R. Stockdale described the actions of G company, “We went over the breastworks into Corinth and fought in the streets, grappling with the foe, in many instances hand to hand but overwhelming numbers forced us to retire, the killed and wounded on both sides was very great.” (The Democratic Watchtower Vol. 23, No. 40 October 28, 1862)

The 42nd Alabama culminated in the town of Corinth at the railroad junction near the Tishomingo Hotel.  At their high tide, General Moore reported that they were “overwhelmed” by “massive reserves” and “melted under their fire like snow in thaw.” (OR, 17.1, Washington, D.C.:  U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880-1901, p. 396)

For more information on the 42nd Alabama’s actions during these three days of combat, feel free to read my articles:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sergeant Sam Snow of the 8th Mississippi Infantry, A Letter from his First Sergeant, and an Unknown Mississippi Soldier’s Grave

As my father and I began our research into our family history, my father discovered a letter of condolence which began an interesting bit of fact finding on Sergeant Sam Snow.   The Letter of Condolence is as follows:

Company G 8th Mississippi Regiment Near Cassville Georgia May 18th 1864
Miss Mary,  It is my very painful necessity to communicate to you the news.  The very sad news of the death of your Brother Sam; he fell gallantly fighting for the liberties we are all striving, he was killed at Resaca on Saturday the 14th May. Just as the sun was sinking beneath the western hills.  The Confederacy has lost one of her bravest and best boys, a more gallant boy never lived.  I have fought by his side in four battles, but alas; he is done with the trials, trouble, and tribulations of this world and I hope is now a shining angel in Heaven.  I cannot speak in tones high enough to [illegible] his courage as a soldier; it is the fate of war.  He was left on the battlefield as we were not able to hold it.  Lt. Clark also fell a victim to that  “sad monster death”.  I do indeed sympathize with you and the family in your loss; as He was to me almost as a Brother, and I consider I have lost one of my best friends.  You have my sympathy.  I am Miss Mary Yours Respectfully Frank E. Hough 

During the course of our research we discovered that Samuel N. Snow was born on October 24, 1839 and was the older brother of my GGGrandmother Rachel Henritta (Snow) Askew.  He was the oldest sibling of a very large family.  He had a younger sister Mary F. Snow, who was the oldest of seven sisters and only two years younger than Sam.  

Sam volunteered on July 13, 1861 and mustered into Company G “Tolson Guard” of the 8th Mississippi Regiment at the age of 21.  He was later promoted to 4th Sergeant on April 20th, 1863.  Company G was first organized at Fellowship Church and mustered into state service at Buckley's Store in the Fellowship Community of Jasper County, Mississippi on July 17, 1861.  The 8th Regiment was subsequently mustered into Confederate service in early October and immediately sent to Pensacola, Florida where it defended against the Union held Fort Pickens through the remainder of 1861.   In May, 1862 the regiment was ordered to Mobile, Alabama and during December, 1862 participated in the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee where it suffered its first battlefield casualties of the war.  The regiment remained stationed at Bridgeport, Alabama until July 1863.  In September, the regiment was engaged in some of the heaviest fighting of the Battle of Chickamauga during which it 'liberated' three pieces of artillery and five horses from the Union Army.  The unit participated in the Siege of Chattanooga and the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge during November 1863, sustaining heavy casualties.  Following these engagements, the regiment went into winter quarters at Dalton, Georgia with the Army of Tennessee under the command of General Joe Johnston.  As Sherman began his advance toward Atlanta and flanked Joe Johnston out of Dalton; Johnston attempted to confront Sherman at Resaca.  The Battle of Resaca began on May 13th 1864; the 8th Mississippi was assigned to W. H. T. Walkers Division of 1st Corps and participated in some of the most severe fighting of the battle. Sam Snow was killed in action on May 14th.  The only two casualties for Company G at Resaca were Lieutenant Lewis M. Clark and Sergeant Samuel N. Snow. 

A few years ago my brother had the opportunity to visit the Resaca Cemetery … he discovered Lieutenant Clark’s headstone and only a few yards from Lieutenant Clark’s headstone, near the back wall of the cemetery, was the headstone of an unknown Mississippi Soldier.  Could this be the final resting place of Sergeant Samuel N. Snow?