Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mercantile Battery.

This is coolbert:

Yet once more from the Chicago Tribune of today "Chicago Flashback"


As usual, thanks to the Tribune and Stephan Benzkofer.

"A good unit's bad decision"

That Red River Campaign of the American Civil War another defeat for the Federal forces. Shameful and disastrous rout, a pell-mell rush to the rear, unorganized and defeat without amelioration. AND REPORTED SO IN THE TRIBUNE OF 150 YEARS AGO IN DETAIL, WITHOUT QUALIFICATION.

Especially galling the conduct of the Mercantile Battery, described as:

"A number of Illinois-based units were involved in the fighting, and the fate of one was particularly painful."

"The Chicago Mercantile Battery was recruited and funded by Chicago Businessmen in 1862."

These artillerymen their comportment in battle prior to Red River without question honorable. After Red River, behavior less than illustrious.

As is described by a soldier and as printed in Chicago Tribune at the time:


(Testimony of Janesville Boy.)

"We remained until our horses commenced to drop when Capt. White told us to limber up and make for the rear as we could not do a thing more without support. So, we limbered up and started. Just then Lieut. Throop was mortally wounded, shot in the bowels. We could not go a great way, however as the wagon train loaded with forage blocked up the road and we had to go through the dense pine woods. But we got our guns and caissons about two miles the rebs right after us crying out, 'halt and surrender you d - - - - d Yankees.' It was not long before, we got stuck fast, between about a dozen wagons, logs, and in a big mud hole. Then the Captain told us to cut the traces and save ourselves. Well, we started leaving everything we had behind us except the clothes on our backs and what we had in our pockets. It was a perfect rabble, a regular Bull Run: It was devil take the hindmost, sure enough"

Subsequent dereliction of duty and downright mutinous behavior of the Battery leading to dissolution of the unit!

Indeed, a retirement of a military unit, a movement to the rear, retreat if you want to term it such, best understood if done in an organized or disorganized and panicked manner. The former [organized] not so bad, the latter [disorganized] very bad, shameful and deplorable.


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