Curmudgeons, Drunkards, and Outright Fools: The Courts-Martial of Civil War Union Colonels

Overview

During the Civil War, a Union colonel was five times more likely to be court-martialed than a private. Worse, courts-martial of all ranks increased by 400 percent in the winter months. Among the court-martialed transgressors presented in this volume are an officer nicknamed “Stumpy” because he tended to hide behind tree stumps during combat and a man tried for calling his superior a “miserable reptile.” The gallery of offenders also includes a Vermont colonel who became a chloroform addict and a New York colonel ...
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Overview

During the Civil War, a Union colonel was five times more likely to be court-martialed than a private. Worse, courts-martial of all ranks increased by 400 percent in the winter months. Among the court-martialed transgressors presented in this volume are an officer nicknamed “Stumpy” because he tended to hide behind tree stumps during combat and a man tried for calling his superior a “miserable reptile.” The gallery of offenders also includes a Vermont colonel who became a chloroform addict and a New York colonel who rode his horse into a barroom, ordered a brandy for himself and one for his horse, then fired his pistol through the ceiling. The stories of fifty misdeeds, along with a statistical exploration of twenty-two thousand other courts-martial, provide a pioneering study of the little-known world of Civil War misbehavior and clarify the often-bewildering dynamics between volunteer soldiers and their professional superiors.
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Editorial Reviews

North & South
“Well-conceived and well-written, this volume’s greatest value lies in its rich portrayal of how an army of civilian volunteers lived, fought, and died—real men with all the virtues and failings of real men. It is a great resource for understanding the realities of the Civil War.”—North & South
Civil War Times
“Lowry has taken the genre of the historical underside to its proper scholarly limits; he has coupled the lurid and the weird with excellent research and analysis.”—Civil War Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803280243
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Pages: 258
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas P. Lowry is a retired associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of several books, including The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell: Sex in the Civil War and The Civil War Bawdy Houses of Washington D.C.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
The Source Material
Foreward
Introduction: The Refiner's Fire 1
1 Flames at Buckroe Farm: Col. William H. Allen 11
2 A Colonel Bucked and Gagged: Col. John F. Ballier 17
3 "Charge, Mes Enfants!": Lt. Col. Joseph A. Vigneur de Monteil 21
4 "An Oppressive and Insulting Act": Col. William Halstead 25
5 An Extreme Case: Col. Morton C. Hunter 28
6 "Got for Dam!": Col. Charles Knobelsdorff 34
7 "And a Brandy for my Horse!": Col. Newton B. Lord 40
8 "A Miserable Reptile": Lt. Col. John Dunn MacGregor 44
9 "I Will See You Damned!": Col. John H. McCunn 47
10 "A Mouthful of Tongue": Col. Dixon S. Miles 52
11 So Drunk He Fell Off His Horse: Lt. Col. Francis B. O'Keefe 57
12 "General Logan Can Kiss My Ass": Col. Frank L. Rhodes 61
13 "I'll Pull Your Nose on Dress Parade!": Col. William F. Small 65
14 "Makes Us a Set of Niggers": Lt. Col. William T. Wilson 70
15 "I'll Burst it to Thunder!": Col. William Bishop 77
16 A Wild Night at the Old Spanish Fort: Lt. Col. John Creighton 80
17 "Damned Hungarian Humbug!": Col. Henry C. de Ahna 83
18 "Perjured Felons": Col. Carter Gazley 87
19 "Inexpressible Regrets": Col. William H. Irwin 90
20 "Their Pants Unbuttoned": Col. James E. Kerrigan 94
21 Fling Wide the Banner: Col. John McCluskey 98
22 Drunk at Cloud's Mill?: Col. Robert P. McDowell 104
23 Death at Buzzard's Roost: Col. Geza Mihalotzy 106
24 A Sharp Tongue: Lt. Col. James Peckham 108
25 "I Felt of Her Bosoms": Col. J. Lafayette Riker 111
26 He Drank Himself Sober: Col. Charles L. Summalt 116
27 Bad Blood in the 4th New York: Col. Alfred W. Taylor 121
28 Malaria and Hemorrhoids: Col. Joseph W. Bell 127
29 "The Blood Spurted": Col. Henry B. Carrington 130
30 "Shit in Your Breeches": Col. Charles A. de Villiers 136
31 "Unceasing and Tyrannical Abuse": Col. James Fairman 141
32 "Annoyed to Death by Old Soldiers": Col. Josiah Harlan 144
33 Bad Water or Bad Faith?: Col. George S. Hays 148
34 Friends in High Places: Col. Michael K. Lawler 151
35 Baa Like a Sheep: Lt. Col. Henry L. Potter 155
36 The Russian Thunderbolt: Col. John B. Turchin 161
37 "In the Hands of a Clique": Col. Emil von Schoenig 165
38 Five Cartridges per Man: Col. Nelson G. Williams 167
39 "I Have Been Ruptured!": Col. Henry Amisanzel 173
40 "For God's Sake, Don't Skedaddle": Col. Robert C. Murphy 176
41 "The Worst Colonel I Ever Saw": Col. Francis Quinn 182
42 Hiding Behind a Tree Stump: Col. David H. Williams 186
43 Sense Enough to Come in Out of the Rain: Lt. Col. Edward F. Ellis and Col. William M. Wheatley 191
44 In the Middle of the Forehead: Col. Jonas P. Holliday 194
45 Sick at Astor House: Lt. Col. Julius C. Kretschmar 197
46 "Low and Bawdy Engravings": Col. Ebenezer W. Peirce 199
47 "Goddamn Dutch Hounds": Lt. Col. George W. Roberts 204
48 Firing Into the Suburbs: Col. John H. Taggart 208
49 "Damned Fool and Illiterate Whelp": Lt. Col. Jonathan Tarbell 213
Epilogue 219
App. A The Index Project, Inc 226
App. B The Articles of War 228
App. C Tables & Graphs 236
Notes 245
Bibliography 250
Index 252
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