Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Wishing all of you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Margaret Junkin Preston was the sister of Elinore Junkin Jackson, the first wife of Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson. Elinore met Jackson while he was a professor of natural and experimental philosophy and artillery tactics at the Virginia Military Institute and married him in August of 1853.

The newlyweds set up housekeeping with Elinore's family on the campus of Washington College, where Elinore and Margaret's father, the Rev. Dr. George Junkin, was president. Margaret formed an immediate attachment to her sister's new husband and remained close to him even after Elinore died in childbirth 14 months later. Margaret eventually married a VMI professor, J.L.T. Preston, in 1857, the same year that Jackson entered into his second marriage with Mary Anna Morrison.

When the War Between the States broke out, Dr. Junkin , a staunch Unionist, left Lexington and returned to his former home up north. Margaret remained loyal to the Southern cause and stayed with her husband in Lexington. She went on to achieve some postwar reknown as a poet and has been anthologized in several early 20th century collections of Southern poetry.


by Margaret Junkin Preston (1820-1897)

We do accept thee, heavenly Peace!
Albeit thou comest in a guise
Unlooked for--undesired, our eyes
Welcome through tears the sweet release
From war, and woe, and want,--surcease,
For which we bless thee, blessed Peace!

We lift our foreheads from the dust;
And as we meet thy brow's clear calm,
There falls a freshening sense of balm
Upon our spirits. Fear--distrust--
The hopeless present on us thrust--
We'll meet them as we can, and must.

War has not wholly wrecked us; still
Strong hands, brave hearts, high souls are ours--
Proud consciousness of quenchless powers--
A Past whose memory makes us thrill--
Futures uncharactered, to fill
With heroisms--if we will.

Then courage, brothers!--Though each breast
Feel oft the rankling thorn, despair,
That failure plants so sharply there--
No pain, no pang shall be confest:
We'll work and watch the brightening west,
And leave to God and Heaven, the rest.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Well, I have submitted by research to AMU. Now I have only one thing on my plate: working with Deeds Publishing to come up with a good marketable print edition. Then, towards the end of January, I should hear about next year's grant.

More news when it is available.

Keep History Alive!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

And the Decision Is...

Well, I have decided. I am going to apply for another grant from AMU and will continue this project this coming year. I have discussed the project with Bob and Mark Babcock of Deeds Publishing and they both believe that a series has merit. So, the title of the series shall be: Broomsticks to Battlefields: The Cadets of Delaware Military Academy in the Civil War. Robinett will be the first published in the series.

The second will be David Vickers Jr. of Camden, NJ. Vickers is another interesting cadet from DMA. He was in the 3rd and 4th New Jersey Volunteers and was eventually captured at Spotsylvania Court House, take to Macon, GA and Camp Oglethorpe. When Sherman’s forces approached, he was moved to Camp Sorghum near Columbia, SC. He was brevetted to brigadier general in 1865 and after the war served as a diplomat in Cuba. During the Spanish American war he was an inspector general. Upon his death his will was contested by a second wife from Chile. He should make for a very interesting story.

Of course the pace of my research will be greatly enhanced if I receive a grant from AMU. Failing that , I will continue the project but at a slower pace.
That is the story for now. My Robinett project is due next Tuesday so this would holiday weekend will be spent putting the finishing touches on him and his story.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

and remember...

keep History Alive!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vickers or Robinson?

Robinson's Military Service Record doesn't include anything about him being arrested before enlisting. The Confederate Papers Relating to Citizens and Business Firms have there was nothing on him.

Vickers didn't have a General's Papers File or and Appointment, Commission & Personal (ACP) File. He had a Letters to the Commission Branch (CB) File and that was it

Decisions, decisions.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Grant Deadlines

Well, December 1 is my dead line for both submitting my paper and for next year's grant proposal. Sounds like a busy month ahead

I am not totally convinced I should do another project next year. I had 18 months to work on this one, next year, only 11. That makes a big difference in research

I am toying with two possible guys to investigate: George Julian Robinson “Jules Robinson” or David Vickers. I am going to put James R. Lincoln aside for now, I am not convinced there are enough sources for his experiences during the war

A bit on Robinson: DOB: May 27th, 1838, Georgetown, Delaware
Enlisted in October 1861, in Company A, 5th Texas Infantry, CSA
None of this is yet confirmed: When traveling with a relative, Robinson and relative were arrested by the Confederate army as spies. They were sent to Richmond VA for trial and execution. Robinson convinced the judge that they were not there as spies but rather to enlist in the Confederate Army. Robinson and a relative enlisted and were released from charges.
Robinson was wounded at Battle of Gaines Mills also saw action at Antietam, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg
Promoted to Sergeant Major
-Wounded at Battle of Wilderness. The wound shot through both cheeks, tongue mangled and jaw shattered
After the war, lived in Texas for a number of years before returning to Georgetown in 1882. He died in 1887 and was buried at St. George’s Chapel

David Vickers

Brevet Brigadier General. During the Civil War, he served as a captain in the 3rd New Jersey Infantry and was promoted to colonel in the 4th New Jersey Infantry. After the war, he served as a diplomat in Cuba. On May 31, 1865, he was made a brevet brigadier general "for faithful and meritorious services" during the war . He was captured and served time in Rebel POW camps in Georgia. The picture below is the best I can do, sorry

From the American Civil War Research Database:
David Vickers, Jr
Residence was not listed; 22 years old.
Enlisted on 5/25/1861 as a Private.
On 5/25/1861 he mustered into "B" Co. NJ 3rd Infantry
He was discharged for promotion on 9/29/1863
On 9/29/1863 he was commissioned into Field & Staff NJ 4th Infantry
He was Mustered Out on 5/15/1865
He was listed as:
* POW 5/12/1864 Spotsylvania Court House, VA (Confined at Macon, GA & Columbia, SC)
* Capt 5/31/1861 (As of Co. A)
* Major 9/29/1863 (As of 4th NJ Infanrty)
* Colonel 3/21/1865 (Not Mustered)
* Brig-General 5/31/1865 by Brevet
Intra Regimental Company Transfers:
* 6/6/1861 from company B to company A
Other Information:
born 12/21/1840 in Camden, NJ
died 6/27/1908 in Boise, ID
Buried: Pioneer Cemty, Boise, ID
(Signed Petition Complaining of Camp Sorghum Conditions)
Sources used by Historical Data Systems, Inc.:
- Register of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War 1861-65
- Dyer: A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion
- Heitman: Register of United States Army 1789-1903
- Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue
- Photo courtesy of HDS Subscriber
- Research by Jack Lundquist
(c) Historical Data Systems, Inc. @

I would like to do a Confederate soldier this time BUT Vickers and his experiences as a POW also hold merit. Your ideas are welcome.

Keep History Alive


Monday, November 2, 2009

I worked all day Sunday re-reading my draft. I am not quite done but getting there. Later this week, I will be mailing it to Al Nofi and Susannah Ural, both outstanding historians in the hopes that they can get me on the right track, presentation & style wise. Susannah works at Southern Miss. where she is an Associate Professor & Senior fellow @ the Center for the Study of War & Society. We met a about 4? years ago at a conference. Al, well I have known him quite a while. He is now retired from teaching but is not really retired (after all, what teacher can afford to do so?). He has his hands in many endeavors: writes for, has numerous publications to his credit, back in the day he designed numerous wargames with Jim Dunnigan and others, he is also a defense consultant and, unless it has changed, currently works for the Navy. He helped my students in Texas on a few projects as well; most notably a trip to Bracketville, TX and the "John Wayne" Alamo where we worked on a project for the Institute of Texan Cultures. I will also be sending various excerpts to others including Tom Parson at the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center.

On the downhill side and hope to have the "final" draft for AMU by the end of Thanksgiving weekend.

Keep History Alive.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Back to Work

Well, this Sunday I will be back at work on my second draft. Thanks to last weekend at PMC/Widener I have numerous items I wish to add to the project.

AMU is asking for next year's grant applications by 1 December. That means I must decided if I wish to do this again and if so how. The options are:

1. Don't apply, chill for the year - NOPE - doesn't sound like me.
2. Apply and expand Robinett in a full biography - not sure that is really interesting to anyone as I have the most critical events in this one.
3. Make Robinett volume one of a series on the cadets of DMA/PMA in the Civil War. This hold great merit as no work has been done on them and there are a ton of interesting cadets involved in the war. I am leaning towards this for my grant proposal. Your ideas are greatly appreciated.

I have been talking to a friend of mine, Bob Babcock who owns a publishing company and is also an accomplished historian himself. He think s the best potential is for a series of mini-books on these guys. You can check out his works here. What Now Lieutenant? is a great read and still relevant for today. He has also written a nice work on the 4th ID in OIF 1.

Keep history Alive!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homecoming 2009

Well, I have never been to Homecoming before and I must say, the ROTC cadets and the Class of '54 were the high points.

The modern Battery Robinett (2nd LT Keith Bright on left)
Me at Battery Robinett

Me & Class of '54

LTC Peterson

LTC Peterson presented me with a brick from the Amory built in 1920. I consider this a high honor.

Class of '54 & LTC Peterson

ROTC Cadets

LTC Peterson

Cadets & '54

Cadets & '54

Barbershop Group

Friday, October 16, 2009

The class of 1954 met the current ROTC cadets for 2 hours today. There were some great conversations! After that both groups got to hear about Henry C. Robinett and how his experiences relate to our soldiers today from me---good stuff. LTC Peterson gave me a Commander's Coin which I greatly appreciated. THEN he gave me a brick from the old Armory they tore down (1920-2008) last year--WOW, something special! It was a good day.

Keep History Alive

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First Rough Draft is Complete

Well, the first draft is completed. It is very rough. special thanks to Becky Warda and Jim Timmerman for looking it over for all my typing/spelling errors. I am an abysmal typist and when I write something this large I just keep going unless it is obvious.

Making a few copies to take with me to Homecoming at Widener/PMC this weekend. It is going to be COLD and WET. Some fun. Be nice to get some good shots of the Broom Drill at halftime of the game.

Next week, I will begin editing the draft and completing the sections I don't fell are just right.

Keep History Alive

Friday, October 9, 2009

Big Push This Weekend

Well, a three day weekend is upon us and I plan of finishing the first draft by Monday evening. I have discovered some more interesting connections between Robinett and the people of power in Wilmington, interesting stuff.

If you would like to read and help proof/critique the first draft just let me know.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Good Weekend!

I wrote most of the weekend, through Corinth, past Vicksburg and on to Grant’s staff. I wanted to get further but 10,000 words is a good number for two day’s work. This week and next weekend I will FINISH the first draft.

I want to have it ready to take to PA for Homecoming the following week.

Keep History Alive!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Time Marches On!

My writing is going well, despite the fact that I was "forced" to go fishing Sunday!

By the end of this weekend I plan on having a complete draft. I would like to have it finished before I go to Homecoming at Widener. I will be speaking to the ROTC cadets and members of the class of '54 so I want to have something in hand at that point.

After the draft is complete I need to add the graphics.

Right now, I am pleased with what I have written, it is flowing better and better. The key is to make sure I am telling an interesting story AND making it relevant for readers.

Who can blame more for fishing on a day like this?

Keep History Alive!

Monday, September 28, 2009

More Progress

Got Henry to "his" day at Corinth, all out push this week to complete the first draft.

I stumbled across his nemesis at his two major courts martial.

Isaac Denniston DeRussy is buried in Arlington. From their site:
Appointed from New York, Second Lieutenant, 26 April 1861; First Lieutenant, 14 May 1861; Captain, 27 February 1862;

4th United States Infantry, 29 September 1879; Lieutenant Colonel, 14th United States Infantry, 1 July 1885; Colonel, 11th United States Infantry, 19 May 1891; Brigadier General, 1 April 1902; retired 15 April 1902;

Breveted Major, 13 March 1865 for faithful and meritorious services during the war.

Isaac D. DeRussy was born in 1840 at Fort Monroe, Virginia. He began his service as a Second Lieutenant with the 1st United States Infantry and by the end of the Civil War was a Captain. He participated in the siege of Corinth in May and June of 1862 and was breveted Major in 1865 for faithful and meritorious service during the war. He served with the 4th, 14th and 11th United States Infantry regiments. While commanding the 11th regiment as a Colonel, he also commanded Fort Huachuca, Arizona, in 1891 and 1892. On 10 August 1898 he led his regiment against Spanish forces near Hormiguero, Puerto Rico. He was retired on 1 April 1902 as a brigadier general and died on 17 February 1923 in New York City. He was buried in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Laura Requa DeRussy, who died in 1929, is buried with him.

What is most interesting is the fact that Robinett claims he never actually "served" during the war. Hmmmm....must check the ORs tonight.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

4,700 words...

and I am just getting into Henry joining the Army and the 1st U.S. Infantry. This is going to be much longer and more detailed than I expected but that is not a bad thing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

This Weekend

Well, much is being accomplished this weekend. I have completely fleshed out my outline, formatted the paper itself according to AMU guidelines (note my students, yes we use Chicago Manual of Style/Turabian as you do), and I am organizing my note cards.

I have found the easiest thing to do it to sort your cards into stacks (I am working on the Delaware & DMA cards as I write) with the stacks. Then arrange the stack in the order you wish to write about them and finally, order the cards within the stacks.

Following this method, you can then simply stack your cards and write from card to card.

An interesting aside. I determined yesterday that the poem, After The Battle, Harry quoted in his last court martial defense was written by Sir Thomas Moore.

This weekend there have been numerous distractions to keep me from concentrating. Things are not moving forward as rapidly as I hoped.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Writing Process

I thought I would pause here and share some thought on the writing process with my students.

Recall, in the beginning of this, I first looked about to see if indeed there was enough information available to make an interesting topic; there was. Then I developed a list of questions based on what I THOUGHT I was going to examine; as you all know the project evolved into a study of just Robinett.

Research completed I am not ready to begin writing. But where do I start? Thinking, that is where. For the last month I have been thinking about how to approach the organization of this and what themes to use. Last week I jotted down some ideas, nothing formal to see where I was with both.

Then I placed my ideas in an general outline:
I. Introduction
II. Delaware Military Academy
III. Early Military Career
IV. Corinth
V. Home
VI. Vicksburg
VII. 1st USI
VIII. Home
IX. Grant’s Staff
X. New Orleans
XI. Court Martial 1 & 2
XII. Court Martial 3
XIII. Disability Pension & Orders
XIV. Suicide
XV. Conclusion

After talking to a few friends and over the past few days I have developed a list of themes that I will weave into these sections:

Honor - Military Academy DMA - Military - Society? - Artillery-lack respect? - Family-Rev. War ancestors
Narcissism -Rage
Connections - Grant’s Staff - Freemason - Patrons?
Psychic/physical trauma?

I will think on these a bit more and then flesh out the outline, most likely this weekend. I find it hard to write well during the week; too many distractions with work and all. Once I have a completed outline I will begin writing the sections. Note I did not say chapters. This is will initially be an article for publication, later, who knows? I have enough to write a good article right now or a poor book; I’ll write the article, see how it is received, and see if I can get additional grants for the coming years to support anything further.

Keep History Alive

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our Trip to Wilmington, Deleware.

I have finally found some time to organize my pictures from the trip to the Delaware Historical Society and the Trinity Church. Rebecca Warda from the PMC Museum and Widener Art Gallery along with 2nd Lieutenant Keith Bright (class of ’09) accompanied me for the day. Our plan was to go to DHS and find additional information about Robinett and to hopefully find Henry’s fiancé.

What a surprise for us when we arrived! A recent donation for an estate had arrived and all the documents were about Henry C. Robinett and his family! In addition, the family presented Robinett’s ceremonial saber that was presented by the citizens of Wilmington for his service at Corinth. I cannot tell you how shocked, surprised, and pleased I was.

From a family Bible, we now know the day he was born.

HCR's commissions ALL on vellum, in prestine condition and signed by Lincon or Johnson!

"THE" Saber

Were we able to find the fiancé’s name? Yup. Elise Sherwood Starr.

Looking in the 1867 newspapers.

We then went to the church where Robinett and Starr were baptized and confirmed; Elsie just before her premature death.

Now, it is on to writing!

Keep History Alive

HCR's Request for a Disability Retirement

The last bit of research Vonnie Zullos sent me revealed some interesting information. Robinett appeared before a disability retirement board in May/June 1867 about 10 months before his suicide. While the board rejected his request the surgeon's documents provided in support of his request are enlightening.

"This is to certify that I attended Luiet (Now Bvt Maj) H.C. Robinett, 1st U.S. Infy. Who was wounded on or about the 4th day of October, 1862 at the battle of Corinth, Miss-He was wounded by a musket ball transing the entire length of the top of his head from before, backwards-completely exposing the bone-No evidence of fracture, could be discerned-He was under my care at Corinth, Miss-until sent North. J.L.G Happensett CPT, Asst. Surgeon

"I humbly certify that I have had the aforesaid, Bvt Major Robinett, Captain 1st U.S. Infantry under my professional care-and have carefully examined him and found that he is laboring under disability resulting from a gun shot wound of the scalp received as he states at the battle of Corinth, Miss. The cicative ?? of the wound extends from the anterior to the posterior frontalobe. I am unable to ascertain with any certainty whether any fracture existed at the time or not. He suffers from frequent and intense cephalalgia. Especially in exposure to the sun or serving under changes of temperature; an extreme sensitiveness to the action of alcoholic stimulants-which has only existed since he was wounded-considerable loss of memory-and great depression of spirits. I am of the opinion that a Southern Climate exerts an unfavorable impression in his case and that he would perhaps be able to do duty more efficiently at some station further north." Major Henry Preson Asst Surgeon

"I feel that I have become incapacitated for the performance of the duties required of a Regimental officer, in this climate. In consequence of a wound received in my head at the battle of Corinth, Oct. 4th, 1862. I suffer greatly, at all times, from the effects of excessive heat upon my wound, and when exposed to the heat of the Sun in this climate my suffering is almost unbearable. I can no longer endure any considerable mental or physical exertion without intense suffering. I have at times been affected mentally in a manner which admonishes me that farther continued exertion and exposure to the excessive heat of the Sun in a Southern climate, consequent upon the performance of the duties of an officer in the Army, may produce the most serious results." Robinett

Medical Cert of Bvt Major Asch Asst Surgeon USA "The track of the wound was in mainly the medial line from left to right. Maj. Robinett has been under my observation since the later part of 1865 and it is my opinion that the effects of said wound renders him unfit for duty in this climate. Extremely hot weather-a mental excitement- renders him nervous and excitable to such a degree as at times to induce fear that the brain my be temporarily affected. Further residence in this climate must do his permanent harm. It is a question whether life in a colder climate will entirely remove the disability."

"Personally approved before me W.D. Waller a Notary Public, Brevet Lieut. Col. George A Williams Major 6th U.S. Infantry and made oath as follows. On the 4th of October 1862 I commanded the 1st U.S. Infantry at the battle of Corinth. The Regt was used as Heavy Artillery. One battery (Battery Robinett) was commanded by 1st Lieut H.C. Robinett 1st U.S. Infantry which battery the enemy charged upon during the battle. 1st Lieut H.C. Robinett was struck by a ball on the top of his head cutting away the scalp and creasing the skull and from which injury he was obliged for a time to retire from the field. Lieut Robinett's conduct during the battle was admirable. He fought his battery very gallantly have had 13 of 26 officers and men who manned the battery either killed or wounded" Capt. Williams 1st USI

The surgeons that examined him for the board found:

Surgeons report: "Find a scar on the median line of the scalp result of a gunshot wound received at Corinth, Miss. Oct. 4th 1862. There is no evidence of any fracture of the skull. From the personal appearance of Major Robinett and from the medical evidence in the case we are of the opinion that he is not incapacitated from performance of active duty, though service in a hot climate may give use to unpleasant sensations."

Keep History Alive

Friday, August 28, 2009

One Final Bit of research

Well, as much as I would like to keep digging, it is time to start the writing process. Vonnie found one additional set of documents for me, HCR applied to a retirement board in 1867 and claimed a disability due to his wounding at Corinth. It was denied and he returned to New Orleans and active duty.

I have never been able to find anyone who definitively said, “I saw Lieut. Robinett be wounded at Corinth.” There have only seen second–hand accounts of his wounding and one friend of his even speculated that he fabricated the wounding in his mind to justify his behavior.

Perhaps this set of documents will clear this up.

One final plug for Horse Soldier Research:

Vonnie has been a Godsend. There is no way I could have gotten off work enough days to search the National Archives like she has. Without her research this project would have been a dead end.

Next week I will be dismissing the writing process and how I hope to approach this study,

Keep History Alive.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

On Vacation

Just a quick update. I spent 1 1/2 hours on Friday before I left with the four doctors. Boy are they sharp. They saw things I had never imagined and I am deeply appreciative of their time. I don't have much time to write now but here are a few new questions:

1. Was HCR a narcissist?
2. Was he depressed?
3. Did his sense of an officer's honor drive much of what he did in New Orleans?

I am in Ocean City, NJ for some R&R so that is it for now. Thursday I will be @ the Delaware Historical Society Archives to wrap up my research.

Keep History Alive.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rounding out my Research.

The next two weeks will round out my research. I am a couple weeks behind my plan but that is why you build in some extra time.

This Friday I will be able to get a better handle on HCR’s possible PTSD. I prepared a list of symptoms, etc for Shook Over Hell (See an earlier post) and here is what I found:

Symptoms of PTSD

Undergo hardships & trials in the military? YES
In a situation where he experienced anxiety & fear? YES
Exposed to combat, to death & mutilation of his comrades? YES
Exposed to the slaughter of enemy soldiers? YES
Encounter disease that might have weakened his psychic defenses? UNKNOWN
Bonds with friends & family ameliorate his problems or enhance? Death of fiancé
Did a warm homecoming wash away the pain & deaths? UNKONOW

“Sometimes this fear was so intense that men would fall to the ground paralyzed with terror, bury their face in the grass, grasp the earth, and refuse to move.” CORINTH

Many experience a sense of disembodiment and become oblivious to their own bodies and needs. Shell or gunshot wounds could bring a man back to the reality of his own body and sense of vulnerability. CORINTH

The pounding and concussion from cannonading can be overwhelming. CORINTH

Infuriated and obsessed with battle a man can screen out all the horror of death. Concentrate on the matters at hand and put personal safety aside and belatedly react to the horrific scenes they have witnessed CORINTH

Terrifying noise of shells over head could lead to nervous habits never fully overcome-startle reactions CORINTH

Artillery fire & the sights and sounds of battle could be unnerving in the extreme CORINTH/VICKSBURG

“Perhaps the most horrific aspect of the Civil War experience was the scene of the battlefield after the firing had subsided. Mangled men, dead and dying, littered the landscape.” CORINTH/VICKSBURG

Burying the dead can be equally as traumatic CORINTH

Symptoms – delayed stress:

Intrusive recollection-nightmares & flashbacks UNKNOWN
Disoriented thinking YES
Startle reactions UNKNOWN
Social numbing YES

Depression (melancholy) YES
Anxiety Yes
The “mental distance” from family can be overwhelming YES
Critical to this issue is social support UNKONWN
Strangers ???
Refuse to leave room for days JACKSON BARRACKS

Fear of recurrence of some great calamity – Think something horrible is going to happen to them UNKNOWN
Descent into “into a kind of permanent psychotic state” POSSIBLE
Sit for hours alone staring off into space—startled when spoken to JACKSON BARRACKS?
Dread of calamity, cognitive disorders. JACKSON BARRACKS
Parades and welcome home to family does not wash away the “tangle of emotions of devotion, horror, honor, fear, excitement, anger, and boredom.” UNKNOWN
Crying spells, anxiety symptoms JACKSON BARRACKS

Nervous behaviors, trembling, shaking, irritability & hyperactivity JACKSON BARRACKS

Cognitive disorders
Problem with memory or thinking JACKSON BARRACKS

Inability to concentrate or remember JACKSON BARRACKS

Loss of memory not associated with any neurological deficit.
Non-military factors –most potent mental shock DEATH OF fiancé
Gunshot wounds in service Corinth
Psychological consequences of wound JACKSON BARRACKS

Restless, sleepless, suicidal JACKSON BARRACKS

“One suspects that many cases of men behaving in a disorderly manner or refusing to obey orders … also involved soldiers who had reached the limits of their endurance, and could easily have been considered psychiatric causalities of war; however these men were punished severely” —treated as disciplinary problems. NEW ORLEANS

“…many Civil War veterans resorted to suicide as a mean of dealing with intolerable mental and physical pain….” YES?

Post CW suicide no loner regarded as a heinous crime-tended to disguise or deny the act. YES
Pensions grated for suicide due to war wounds. YES?

Obviously these are my layman’s observations. We will see what the experts have to say after I lay out all the evidence. The most telling information I have is from his father’s pension application after his death. In it are letters numerous people who know HCR and their observations of him are quite telling.

Next Thursday, the 20th of August, Becky Warda, and Keith Bright will be travelling with me to the Delaware State Historical Society archives and the Old Swedes Church where I will conclude my research.

Keep History Alive

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Robinett, PTSD, Suicide, and Delaware Freemasons

I will be the first to admit I am no expert on the subject. I contacted the folks at Eisenhower medical Center on Ft. Gordon and found some folks who are. On the 14th I will be meeting with Dr. Bruce A. Leeson, PhD, Clinical Psychologist; CPT Kyle Grohmann, currently immersed in suicide research data; Dr. John Albrecht, a clinician-researcher who has been focusing on PTSD as long as many folks have been in practice; and Ms. Susanne Jones is a psychometrician (the measurement of an individual's psychological attributes, including the knowledge, skills, and abilities a professional might need to work in a particular job or profession)

I hope after meeting with them to have a much better handle on his state of mind

More good news.

In his last court martial, as he was taken out of the Theatre he was heard to remark that he was a Mason. I contacted the Grand Lodge of Masons in Delaware for confirmation and there is was. He petitioned the Lafayette Lodge No. 14 on 18 November 1862, was crafted AND raised on 28 November 1862. That in itself is quite remarkable for its speed. It is also about a month after the Battle of Corinth.

Keep History Alive

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This has been a busy two weeks

I have been grading research papers and finals from my classes in addition to trying to wade through the final court martial transcript. I have finally finished the transcript, all 164 pages of it!

What a case. It has it all. An officer accused of conduct unbecoming etc. A pro-Southern crowd in the Varieties Theatre in New Orleans threw him out with the aid of the police. In the process he was bitten on the thumb and stuck in the head.
Whom does he run into when returned to a camp of the 1st US Infantry? Captain DeRussy, his old nemesis from the previous court martial. This provokes another incident and HCR tells him to “go to Hell” and offers that if he will come out of his tent “I will shoot you through the heart!”
Most telling in some ways was his written defense. He opens with a few comments on honor. They are included below.

"In order to fully comprehend the consequences of your decision in such a case, particularly if it be unfavorable to the accused, you must know the appropriate value and price of a Soldier's honor! A Soldier is the only man of all men, who feels himself rich indeed "when all but life and honor's lost!"

This is an Irish song from HYLAND'S MAMMOTH, AFTER THE BATTLE

Night closed around the conqueror's way.
And lightnings showed the distant bill.
Where those who lost that dreadful day
Stood, few and faint, but fearless still!
The soldier's hope, the patriot's zeal,
Forever dimmed, forever crossed.
Oh, who shall say what heroes feel,
When all but life and honor's lost!

The last sad hour of freedom's dream
And valor's task moved slowly by,
While mute they watched, till morning's beam
Should rise and give them light to die.
There's yet a world where souls are free,
Where tyrants taint not nature's bliss;
If death that world's bright opening be.
Oh, who would live a slave in this?

The last sad hour of freedom's dream
And valor's task moved slowly by,
While mute they watched, till morning's beam
Should rise and give them light to die.
There's yet a world where souls are free,
Where tyrants taint not nature's bliss:
If death that world's bright op'ning be,
Oh! who would live a slave in this?

Powerful stuff!

He continues:

“but to the Soldier All things Else sink into insignificance in comparison to his honor! Now, gentlemen, depriving the Soldier who has Sustained his own and his Country's honor on more than one hard and desperately fought-field of battle-learning the Evidence of his devotion to Country and of his own heroism to much the battle plain--of his hard earned reputation, by degrading him; strip him of all his well earned honors and his Soldierly pride, by passing a sentence in severity greater that the Criminality of the Offense. 'per se' would justify, then you send back to 'civil society' a person, who, if not forever afterwards deprived of, is forever prohibited....By sentencing away his character his former life as a Soldier, and his future history, whatever it may be, that time can never effase! You take from him a Soldier's all 'his honor'.”

"The affair at the Varieties Theatre....was a sheer and wanton violation of the rights of a gentlemen, and stamps it as an uncalled for, brutal, outrageous and cowardly and shameful attack upon an Officer of the United States Army. The incentives to such an outrage, and the cause of the perpetration thereof, being the deeply rooted, prejudices engendered in the bitter five years War of the Rebellion of the Southern States.”

"It is clearly shown…that the accused was laboring under a high state of mental excitement ? Under and by the brutal, unhuman, cowardly and shameful treatment he received…Treatment that would have almost made frantic and maddening with anger any gentleman who possessed the spirit worthy of a Soldier! What true man, what Soldier, we ask, would brave the indignities and insults offered to and the outrage perpetrated upon the person of the accused....and in consequence - of have been almost bordering upon madness itself....those who are so high-spirited and repellant in their natures that they cannot brook with indifference an affront or shameful and disgraceful indignity, but who loose entire control of that Devil-attribute of our nation-passion-and there commit acts which others of a cooler and more phlegmatic nature would never be guilty of."

He also cites in conclusion all the battles he served in, I need this as it was incomplete in my mind.

“Purdy Bridge May 2d 1862
Siege of Corinth-Battle of Corinth 3&4 1862,
Champion Hills and Big Black River in the Miss. Campaign of 1863
Siege of Vicksburg being interruptedly engaged and under fire for 45 days and on duty each day of the protracted Siege
New Market Heights 25 Sept 1864, where for the first time a permanent advance position was gained on the north side of the James,
First Hatcher Run
movement of the Army of the Potomac about Petersburg to the left by the Brotherton Plank Road Oct 25th 1864
Second Hatcher's Run Feb 6th 1865
Battles around Petersburg 30 - 31st March and 1 & 2nd of April1865.
The pursuit of the Rebel Army of Northern Virginia the finale of that brilliant and wonderful 21 days.
In each of the above battles and engagements the accused has borne an honorable part. And has received the approval and commendation therefore of his different immediate commanding officers, and in several instances of the Commanding Generals."

In the next few weeks, I will be meeting with a Army behavioral psychologist along with an expert on military suicide, and a neuropsychologist.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Court Martial # 1, 2, 3

Yes three. I have put Corinth aside for a while as I await some more documents in the mail. For the past week I have been looking at the three times HCR was in serious trouble with the Army.

I'll let the documents speak for themselves:

Charge CM #1 Camp St., LA @ the Brook's House Charge 1 "Conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline." HCR said "I will put my baggage in this wagon." When told by Major M. Maloney that his baggage could not be put into the wagon, did repeat the same words, and that he "would like to catch any person putting it out." And make use of other words in a disrespectful manner. Charge 2 "Using contemptuous and disrespectful language to his superior officer" When MAJ Maloney told him to consider himself under arrest HCR said in presence of Officers & Citizens, that "You are not my Commanding Officer," and that 'I will not respect your authority,' and did further say 'you are a damned fool.' or words to that effect.

"The Major General Commanding (Sheridan) trusts that the rebuke given ... will be sufficient warning to him of the enormity of his offense, and regrets that he should be obliged thus publically to reprimand an officer of a Regiment noted for its discipline, for so gross an offence as disrespect to an officer greatly his superior, in both years, rank, and experience."

Believe it or not, before this case was settled he was brought up on charges again:

Charge CM #2 Camp & Lafayette St, NO, Saloon incident "Conduct unbecoming on Officer and gentleman. In this that Lieut. Henry C. Robinette…while in a state of intoxication, enter the saloon of one Andrew Kiplinger on the corner of Camp and Lafayette Streets, with two enlisted men of his Regiment and call upon the barkeeper to give said enlisted men something to drink and upon being refused by the said Barkeeper did forcibly and by means of threats cause said Keeper to come from behind his bar, upon which he, 1st Lieut. Robinett went behind said bar and did use such violent and ungentlemanly language and threats as to cause the Barkeeper to call to his Assistance the "Officer of the `Day" on duty at Headquarters Mil. Div. of the Gulf."

"Conduct to the prejudices of good order and Military Discipline…did say to two enlisted men of his Regiment when ordered by Captain J.D. De Russey 1st US Infantry to leave the saloon, "You are not going to obey that order are you?" or words to that effect, thereby prejudicing the authority of said Captain De Russy and inciting a mutinous spirit on the part of the said enlisted men"

HCR was found guilty and dismissed from the service. EXCEPT:

"The recommendation [to be reinstated] of Lieut. Genl Grant is approved. Referred to the Adjutant Genl to issue order. by order of the Sec of War [Stanton]"

And then #3 about a year later:

"While is a state of intoxication behave in a manner so unbecoming (as to disrupt and annoy the audience and actors in the said theater); and when requested by the usher And police officer in attendance to desist from such conduct, did persist in making a disturbance (and did use loud and insulting language to said usher and police-officer), and did continue to behave in such an unbecoming manner (as to interrupt the performance on the stage) and to cause the said usher and police-officer to forcibly eject him from the said theatre, and to take him as a prisoner to the First district police station."

Again found guilty and dismissed from service.

But wait:

"Sec. of War respectfully submits report of the JAG in the case of Capt & Bvt. Maj Henry C Robinett to the President."

"Judge Advocte General advises that the sentence be mitigated to suspension from rank and pay for a limited period. Respectfully returned to the Secretary of War whose attention is called to the action of the President [Johnson]."

Yes, all three in New Orleans after the war. Yes, Grant stepped in on the second and President Andrew Johnson on the third.

Much more to read in the records...more later.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thursday morning: October 4, 1862 @ Corinth

I spent the last three full days pouring through the sources for the events surrounding Battery Robinett on that day and I am still not done! I wanted to share a few snippets from the primary sources. These few hours were some of the most brutal, bloody and vicious in the war.

"All the night we lay under the brightest moon I ever saw. Under the same moonlight, and only 600 yards away from us, also lay the victorious rebel army. They believed Corinth as good as taken but they had only taken our outer line of forts. Yet it looked bad for us....out there lay thousands of others in line, only waiting the daylight to be also mangled and torn...."

"With the earliest dawn of day, the enemy's [CSA] battery in front opened its fire. What a magnificent display! Nothing we had ever seen looked like the flashes of those guns. No rockets ever scattered fire like the bursting of those shells!"

"Lieut. Robinette did not respond for some twenty minutes; in the meantime, training his guns to the point of attack so as not to send one useless shot"

"After Lieut. Robinette opened his battery of Parrot guns the scene soon changed - as only a few shots were necessary to drive the Rebels from their position."

"Suddenly we heard something, almost like a great whirlwind….amazed to see a great black column, ten thousand strong, moving like a might storm-cloud out of the woods and attacking the troops and forts to our left. Instantly we changed direction a little and, without further firing, witnessed one of the greatest assaults of any war. It was the storming of Fort Robinett....These recklessly advanced on the forts, climbing over the tress and bending their heads against the awful storm of grape and canister from all our cannon....Even an enemy could feel pity to see brave men so cruelly slaughtered."

“In front of us was the most obstructive abattis that it was my misfortune to encounter …, “the forts belched destruction into our ranks; yet our men did not waver or halt …. when about half through the abattis, Robinett changed shells for grape and canister on us. Our yells grew fainter and our men fell faster, but at last we reached the unobstructed ground in front of the fort …”

"Upon the advancing lines the 47th were pouring a deadly enfilading fire with telling effect, the guns of Robinett were double charged and the redoubt was a circle of flame. Magnificently mounted and bearing the Confederate colors aloft, Colonel Rogers of Texas [2nd Texas Infantry-leading the charge on Robinett] led the line of gray, led them to the very edge of the ditch which he was in the act of leaping when the Ohio Brigade arose and delivered a murderous fire, before which the Confederates recoiled …”

"I shall ever remember looking at the face of the rebel Col. Rogers, when not more than 30 paces, and noting the peculiar expression it had, He looked neither to the right or left, neither at his own or our men, but with eyes partly closed, like one in a hail storm, was marching slowly and steadily upon us."

"The fighting in front of Robinett was desperate in the extreme. Many of the gunners from the 1st Inf. were disabled, and when the cannon ceased to belch forth its hail it was soldiers from Capt. Spangler's co. A. 43rd Ohio, who sprang into the fort and assisted in manning he guns until the close of the struggle"

“It seemed as though hell was holding a jubilee." "It was a bloody contest and we could see men using their bayonets like pitch forks and thrusting each other through"

"Lieut. Robinett, of the battery, severely wounded in the head, fell senseless under one of his guns. At this most of his men ran to the rear. A moment later, some of the men of Co. A. of the 43rd Ohio, entered the battery, aided the few brave fellows who had stood their ground, to man the guns.”
“Oh we were butchered like dogs,”

"When the assault had failed and the noise of the battle was stilled, I hurried down in front of Robinett. My canteen was full of water and I pressed it to the lips of many a dying enemy--enemy no longer. Our grape shot had torn whole companies of men to pieces. They lay in heaps of dozens, even close up top the works."

"The rebel dead lay every few feet from the embrasures of Ft. Robinette, a mile to the front."

"In front of Fort Robinett the Confederate dead lay piled from three to seven deep; for a hundred feet the bodies lay so close it was almost impossible to walk between them.”

"They had been cut to pieces in the most intense meaning of that term. Such bravery was never been excelled on any field as the useless assaults on Robinette."

"That night I stood guard under an oak tree. On the battlefield under the unburied dead. Many of the wounded, even, had not yet been gathered up. The moon shone as brightly as the night before, while thousands who had laid there under its peaceful rays before the battle were now again sleeping, never to awaken again."

Battery Robinett

COL Rogers (w/ beard) & Confederate dead.

Keep History Alive

Monday, June 29, 2009

Old Swedes Church

Those of you who have been following this blog will know Keith Bright. He graduated from Widener this year with a history degree and was commissioned in the U.S. Army. Keith has been doing some research for me and this past weekend he went to Old Swedes Church in Wilmington, DE. Robinett was baptized there so Keith went to find out more and boy did he.

He found burial records that indicate Harry MIGHT have been disinterred at Chalmette Cemetery in New Orleans and reburied on 28 March 1869 almost a year after his suicide. I am now searching for confirmation. Numerous other family members are buried there including his sister.

The church has a long and rich history. Established as a Swedish Lutheran Church, the church building was constructed in 1698-1699. The church was placed under the jurisdiction of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1791. It flourishes today as the nation's oldest church building still standing as originally built. It is still in regular use for worship.
You can check out the church here:

Thanks Keith for another job well done!
Keep History Alive!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Robinett’s wounding at Corinth

Thanks to Vonnie Zullos of Horse Soldier Research, I have in my possession the first eyewitness to indicate Harry was wounded at Battery Robinett. In the National Tribune on May 23, 1901 in a piece entitled “Fighting Them Over. What the Veterans have to Say About Their Campaigns. Battle of Corinth.” Captain W.H.H. Minturn, 89th Ohio of the Ohio Brigade wrote this:

"Lieut. Robinett, of the battery, severely wounded in the head, fell senseless under one of his guns. At that most of his men ran to the rear.”

He continues with a sad event, “A moment later, some of the men of Co. A, of the 43rd, entered the battery, aided the few brave fellows who had stood their ground, to man the guns. The enemy was now retreating and in the excitement a little drummer boy passed directly before the battery and jumped upon a log to see the rebels run. A piece had just been aimed, and “ready-fire” followed before the little fellow was discovered. When the smoke cleared up we saw that both legs were torn off. Somehow there seemed a ting in the recollection that men of his own regiment had fired this shot.”

He also commented upon Col. Rogers, “I shall ever remember looking at the face of the rebel Col. Rogers, when not more than 30 paces, and noting the peculiar expression it had. He looked neither to the right nor left, neither at his own or our men, but with eyes partly closed, like one in a hail-storm, was marching slowly and steadily upon us.”

All in all much of my research could not have been accomplished without Vonnie. I could not afford the time nor money to travel to WDC to find these gems.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Questions Arise

At the beginning of this project, my students will recall I posted a series of questions to guide my research (and I strong urge you to do the same for your papers). Much has changed since then. I am no longer focusing upon James Rush Lincoln this year; I will save him for another time.

Some new and very interesting questions about Robinett keep running through my mind.

Why did he go to Sec. of War Stanton and ask for a commission rather than signing up with one of the volunteer units forming in Wilmington?

How did his DMA experiences shape his time in the military?

Did he plan on a military life and a career all along or was that decision made later in the war?

Why did he stay in the Army after the war?

How did his family react to the news of his suicide?

What prompted him to take his life when he did?

Where did his personal effects mentioned in a fellow officer’s letter end up?

Did he keep a diary? If so, does it survive?

Where did all his influence come to have his courts martial overturned?

How common was suicide for veterans still on active duty?

Is this really a case of PTSD?

And the big one: What kind of wound did he receive (if any) at Corinth?

I will spend most of time in the next two months trying to answer these questions.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It’s time to starting putting it all together

June is my time to put all my research together and to see where there are gaps that need filling. I created a timeline of Robinett’s life including a timeline of DMA and one for the 1st US Infantry. Then I created another timeline for Corinth and one for Vicksburg. It takes a good while to input all the information I have collected. The one BIG missing link so far is his head wound at Corinth. He says he was wounded, his commander in his official report of the engagement says HCR was unconscious under one of his guns when the 2nd Texas overran the redoubt. I have yet to find an eye witness to verify anything. Captain Maloney was too far away to see what was happening in the redoubt so his account has to be considered second hand information. No medical records exist for HCR which is unusual if he was wounded. In addition, the doctor that performed his autopsy said there was no sign of and old head injury. So for now it is a mystery that I need to solve.

In the mean time, I am getting ready to get into Harry’s head. July I will be meeting with various experts on PTSD and military suicide to see if we can get a handle on that aspect of his life.

So, that is where it all stands right now.

Keep History Alive

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Corinth, Where it all Began

This is where it really all began for Henry C. Robinett and I intentionally saved it for last on my trip. In fact, you may have noticed I started where he died and then went backwards in time.
Corinth is a very interesting engagement. It had it all, personality conflicts; intense, vicious hand-to-hand combat; supreme bravery; and as always in combat, luck.
I am not going to detail the engagement here. Suffice it to say, the battle could have gone either way, numerous times. Jefferson Davis considered control of Corinth and its railroad crossroads critical to the war effort, but it was not to be after October ‘62. The defeat of the Rebels forced the end of Braxton Bragg’s Kentucky Campaign and opened the door for Grant and his Vicksburg Campaign.

I met the Park Ranger, Tom Parsons, on a damp, drizzly, and humid Memorial Day. I was here when the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center first opened but was just passing through and didn’t stay long. It is one of the newer centers in the NPS system and very well done. Unlike Chalmette what few graves there are at the site had flags for Memorial Day.

Tom spent many hours with me; we walked the field and talked about Robinett’s role in the battle. They have a very nice research room and Tom provided me access to some excellent primary sources that will definitely help my research.

Tom also showed me the grave of BG Joseph L. Hogg
[]from Texas (Yes, he is an East Texas boy) and told me the “story” behind the removal of the redoubt. He died during the Union siege of Corinth in April and May of 1862. His most famous descendent?
Ima Hogg [] the "The First Lady of Texas."

Colonel William P. Rogers, commander of the 2nd Texas fell in the assault. In a remarkable tribute to Rogers's personal bravery, General Rosecrans ordered his burial attended with full military honors, a ceremony normally reserved only for Confederate general officers. In 1912 the United Daughters of the Confederacy together with several Rogers family descendants, dedicated a white marble obelisk to mark his gravesite atop a hill overlooking the battlefield.

I left Corinth with a much greater appreciation for the importance of the position of Battery Robinett and Harry’s role. Battery Robinett was the fulcrum of the rebel attack. The 2nd TX made a valiant attempt to take the position and, at one point, overran the works. Battery Williams (HCR’s commander) actually fired two rounds at the redoubt. One hit the works and another exploded above the works. HCR was “wounded” here and according to Captain Williams’ account he was lying unconscious during the counter-attack that drove the 2nd TX out and finished the Rebel chances. What kind of wound? Harry said it was a head wound; yet there was no sign of an old wound in the top of his head in his autopsy. Was he knocked unconscious in the hand-to-hand combat within the redoubt? Did this “wound” contribute to his suicide? One of his friends at Jackson Barracks felt harry “talked himself” into a head wound.

So far no answers.

Inside the Battery Robinett looking towards the Rebel approach

View from the Rebel approach towards the redoubt

Inside the redoubt looking towards the town

Inside the redoubt looking towards the Rebel approach

There was a covered way here back to the railroad.

A view from near the end of the covered railroad.

My final stop was downtown Corinth and the Rogers monument there.

The rest of this month I will be finishing my research; the plan for July is to get inside his head as best I can with all the available evidence and consulting with some PTSD experts from the Army.

Keep History Alive