Captain John C. Tidball - USA

frontrank2

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Oct 10, 2012
Messages
4,157
Location
Mt. Jackson, Va
Cwoff.jpg

An image of Capt. Tidball. At Antietam, John C. Tidball was the Captain of Battery A, 2nd US Artillery. A West Point graduate from 1848, Tidball was an experienced officer whose actions at the battle helped to support infantry attacks on the Federal right and left. His guns were positioned on a ridge line just west of Antietam Creek, having a view of the center and southern end of the battlefield.
In his account of Antietam, Tidball writes that Union artillery units were not as well organized as were their Confederate counterparts. Confederate batteries were largely organized into battalions, allowing for greater concentration of firepower on certain parts of the field (think of the Stephen D. Lee Battalion in between the Dunker Church and the current site of the Visitor Center). Conversely, Federal batteries were largely on their own, attached to various brigades or divisions. This dispersed Federal firepower for field artillery west of the Antietam, limiting the ability of Union artillery to support infantry attacks with close range support.
Tidball's description of the fighting in the Cornfield and West Woods is critical of Hooker's use of his artillery. He suggests that Federal artillery was underutilized because of the lack of general coordination between various divisions and corps in their attacks. He also provides a chilling quote describing the fighting in that sector: "No other equal area upon the American continent has been so drenched with human blood."
http://fieryordeal.blogspot.com/2012/04/
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Joined
Jun 2, 2017
Messages
892
Tidball certainly had a very interesting and diverse military career. Here's a little more info:

Tidball served all through the Civil War, being brevetted five times for gallant and meritorious conduct on the field, and being complimented personally by President Abraham Lincoln for his work at the Battle of Gettysburg, where he was in command of the Second Brigade Horse Artillery under MG Alfred Pleasonton. He served in most of the major campaigns in the Eastern Theater, from the First Battle of Bull Run through the Siege of Petersburg

After the war, Tidball was in active service in the Regular Army for forty more years, and was assigned to almost every army post from Alaska to Texas. He was the 3rd Commander of the Department of Alaska (which preceded the position of Governor of Alaska), and lived there for six years. He was Commandant at West Point for many years, and was Commandant at the Artillery School at Fort Monroe in Virginia, and reorganized and brought that institution to a high state of perfection. When he retired, he was regarded as the Army's premier artillerist. His 1879 instruction book, Manual Of Heavy Artillery Service, served for decades as the army's guidebook to artillery strategy and operations. He also served on the staff of William T. Sherman during the latter's tenure as general-in-chief of the U.S. Army.
 

rpkennedy

Major
Joined
May 18, 2011
Messages
9,740
Location
Carlisle, PA
Tidball certainly had a very interesting and diverse military career. Here's a little more info:

Tidball served all through the Civil War, being brevetted five times for gallant and meritorious conduct on the field, and being complimented personally by President Abraham Lincoln for his work at the Battle of Gettysburg, where he was in command of the Second Brigade Horse Artillery under MG Alfred Pleasonton. He served in most of the major campaigns in the Eastern Theater, from the First Battle of Bull Run through the Siege of Petersburg

After the war, Tidball was in active service in the Regular Army for forty more years, and was assigned to almost every army post from Alaska to Texas. He was the 3rd Commander of the Department of Alaska (which preceded the position of Governor of Alaska), and lived there for six years. He was Commandant at West Point for many years, and was Commandant at the Artillery School at Fort Monroe in Virginia, and reorganized and brought that institution to a high state of perfection. When he retired, he was regarded as the Army's premier artillerist. His 1879 instruction book, Manual Of Heavy Artillery Service, served for decades as the army's guidebook to artillery strategy and operations. He also served on the staff of William T. Sherman during the latter's tenure as general-in-chief of the U.S. Army.
Around the time of Gettysburg, both Alfred Pleasonton and Henry Hunt lobbied for John Tidball and James Robertson (commanding the cavalry's horse artillery brigades) to be promoted to brigadier general due to their skill and the seeming unfairness that they were witnessing their juniors be jumped to regimental and brigade command while Tidball and Robertson languished in the Regular Army promotion system. In August 1863, Tidball would take command of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery as a colonel but would command the Second Corps' artillery until Petersburg. He would end the war as a brevet major general.

Ryan
 

George Thomas

Private
Joined
Aug 28, 2017
Messages
178
Location
Greater Boston (MA) area
There is a very nice walking trail at Antietam that leads to Tidball's position. It give a great perspective not available on the auto tour. It is a short trail, but steeply uphill. It can be accessed from the Three Farms Trail near where it crosses the Boonsboro Pike. One could also park at the Newcomer House and connect to the Tidball trail. Here is a photo looking from Tidball's position towards the national cemetery.

20170601_View from Tidball Trail, Antietam.jpg
 

sjw83071

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2013
Messages
721
Location
Dixie Land
I have seen him before but didnt know his name or story. Isn't the photo a crop of one that shows some other officers with him? Does anyone know anything about them?
 

rpkennedy

Major
Joined
May 18, 2011
Messages
9,740
Location
Carlisle, PA
Many officers didn't particularly wish to serve in the artillery because promotions there were so slow to occur.
As an example, James M. Robertson, also a horse artillery brigade commander, was promoted to captain in May 1861, served through the war as a captain with brevets all the way up to brigadier general, returned to the post-war army as a captain, was promoted to major of artillery in 1874, and retired as a major in 1879.

Ryan
 

sjw83071

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2013
Messages
721
Location
Dixie Land
a snippet from https://wildcatbatterya2usarty.wordpress.com/

The Battle of Antietam found the Battery storming, piece by piece, over Middle Bridge. Tidball, finding his command unsupported, and fired on by cannon and musket, chose a bold move. Instead of retreating, he ordered the guns to be advanced ‘by hand’ up the steep, freshly ploughed, slope. Sweeping away the Rebel sharpshooters, and pushing back the opposing artillery, the Battery took and succeeded in holding the ridge. Observing this action Gen. McClellan cried, “Bully for Tidball!”

In the spring of 1863, the Battery saw action as part of General Stoneman’s famous, but, ultimately, ineffectual cavalry raid.

During the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battery, under the command of Lieutenant John H. Calef, was part of General Buford’s audacious holding action. Strung out along a wide front—to give the impression of several batteries—Calef’s six guns were hotly engaged by approximately thirty enemy artillery pieces. During this action Buford ordered one of the guns to enfilade an unfinished railway cut the Confederates were using as a rifle pit. As the gun was being unlimbered its Chief of Piece, Corporal Bob Watrous, grabbed a double round of canister and rushed it to the gun. However, before he got there he was brought down by a minnie ball. Private Tom Slattery, the No. 2, rushed over to the Corporal and got the round to the gun just as the Confederates were about to overrun the piece. The Southerners were so close, they were ‘literally blown away from the muzzle’ when the No. 4 yanked the lanyard. The Battery, eventually, received orders to retire. After withdrawing the first two sections, Calef rode over to the position of the third. Unsupported, it was imperilled by charging Rebel infantry. Calef quickly ordered the section to withdraw, and it galloped off to rejoin the rest of the Battery. Buford told the weary cannoneers, “Men, you have done splendidly. I never saw a battery served so well in my life.”
 

James N.

Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Messages
11,386
Location
East Texas
i want to know something on these other 3 officers. I've always liked this photo.
These four men were at the time the photo was made all officers in Tidball's battery of U. S. Regular Horse Artillery - Tidball was the captain commanding the battery and the three lieutenants each commanded one of the three sections of two guns, two caissons, and four limbers that comprised the six-gun battery. The most notable of these besides Tidball was the man on the right, A. C. M. Pennington, who at Gettysburg commanded his own battery of horse artillery attached to the Michigan Cavalry Brigade of George A. Custer. Pennington rendered exceptional service in the repulse of J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry there and subsequently Custer came to depend highly on him. Custer angled for Pennington's promotion, but in the cavalry not the artillery, and the next year in the Shenandoah Valley, Pennington commanded one of the brigades in Custer's division. One aspect I've always liked about this photo is that although all these men are artillery officers, they are all wearing different patterns of sabers. Tidball and Pennington have cavalry officers' sabers, while Clarke on the right is wearing a non-reg type popular with volunteer officers; I can't tell about Dennison's but it appears that NONE of them are wearing artillery sabers!
 


Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top