Texarkana, TX 94° View Live Radar Fri H 96° L 75° Sat H 95° L 74° Sun H 94° L 74° Weather Sponsored By:

Library has records of Civil War officers' communications

Library has records of Civil War officers' communications

June 13th, 2018 by Neil Abeles in Texarkana Region

Cass County historian Charles Steger takes a moment to show the 47 volumes of "The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies," which the Atlanta library has.

Photo by Neil Abeles /Texarkana Gazette.

Even longtime historian Charles Steger of Atlanta, Texas, is impressed by one holding at the Atlanta Public Library.

A collection of 47 black and heavy volumes on the second floor shelves of the genealogical society are filled with "The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies."

"All the communications of the officers during the Civil War are here. It's fascinating. You go back and read exactly what was said. These are used all the time by people searching for family history proof that someone was or was not there," Steger said.

The series actually extends to 128 volumes.

Here's an example from the opening page. It's Dec. 26, 1860. Maj. Robert Anderson, commander, First Artillery, is at Fort Moultrie in Charleston Harbor, S.C., with just a few men. He is saying he's abandoning. He can't defend this fort. He's moved everything to Fort Sumter.

"The step which I have taken was, in my opinion, necessary to prevent the effusion of blood," he tells his commander.

The next day, U. S. Secretary of War J. B. Floyd, responds.

"Intelligence has reached here that you have abandoned Ft. Moultrie, spiked your guns, burned the carriages, and gone to Ft. Sumter. It is not believed, because there is no order for any such movement. Explain the meaning of this report."

By return telegram, Anderson replies:

"The telegram is correct. I abandoned Ft. Moultrie because I was certain if attacked my men must have been sacrificed and the command of the harbor lost (this) garrison never would have surrendered without a fight."

In January, as conflicts continue, F. C. Humphreys, an arsenal commander, is surrounded by Confederate forces and has no way to defend the arsenal. He writes to the Confederates, "I also demand as a right that I be allowed to salute my flag before lowering it, with one gun for each State now in the Union."

Humphreys is granted that right, abandons and takes the flag with him.

Then, on April 12, Commander Anderson at Sumter tells the Confederate commander Brig. Gen. Beauregard, he will leave Sumter by noon on this day, if provided with necessary means of transportation.

In return, aides for Gen. Beauregard reply, "We have the honor to notify you that he will open the fire of his batteries on Fort Sumter in one hour from this time."

The Civil War began in an hour.

Such immediate impact is a major importance for a holding such as this, Steger emphasizes.

The volumes are frequently used," librarian Jackie Icenhower said.

"In 2014, we had a re-organization here of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The UDC had been started back in 1901 by Gertrude Curtwright in Linden in behalf of her Civil War veteran husband Cornelius. She was instrumental in gathering the money for the Civil War monument on the square in Linden."

Icenhower said today's UDC makes use of these volumes.

"You have to prove your lineage to be a member of the UDC. We've needed more on the Civil War. We have a large selection of the Revolutionary War thanks to the Daughters of the American Revolution group we have here," she said.

Atlanta's volumes of The War the the Rebellion are to be picked up and read. One looks in the index for names or battles. They are not digitized on the genealogical society's local website.

"You choose the state where the battles occurred and research those volumes," Steger said. "They are important to anyone doing military research on both Union and Confederate sides. The amazing thing is that we have such communication of both sides preserved."

Steger noted that perhaps the volumes may not be so useful for the usual genealogical research.

"Some time they do mention the common soldier, but I'm not certain if these names are indexed."

The project was authorized by an Act of Congress June 16, 1880. All reports, letters, telegrams and general orders of military orders were to be gathered, arranged and published. Four series were produced, and about 10,000 copies printed. Atlanta's library has the first of the four series contained in the complete 125 volumes.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com