Extraordinary Records of the American Civil War

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This article is a compendium of American Civil War Records. Entries are filed by type. This list is intended to be comprehensive. New suggestions, and corrections are encouraged by replying to the thread below.

Civil War - On The Battlefield "Firsts"
  • First Shot Fired in the War:
    • On April 12, 1861 at 4:30am, by the order of General P. G. T. Beauregard, and command of Captain George S. James, Lt. Henry S. Farley pulled the lanyard attached to a mortar on the beach near Fort Johnson, South Carolina, sending the first shot at Union held Fort Sumter.
    • OR - Maybe George Edward Haynesworth, should be credited for firing a cannon from Morris Island at the merchant ship Star of the West, on January 9, 1861
  • First Prisoner-of-War of the American Civil War:
    • Lt. John Worden is placed under arrest in Pensacola, Florida on April 15, 1861 by Confederate Braxton Bragg
  • Most Lethal Infantry Weapon In History at the time of the Civil War
    • In addition to it's use during the Crimean War in 1853-56, the Rifle Musket loaded with a Minie Ball was used by both Armies on nearly every American Civil War Battlefield. Produced in factories by the thousand, and filling infantrymen's cartridge boxes 40 at a time, the Minie Ball was the primary munition of the infantry of the period.
    • The Minie Ball could outperform the Round Ball when shot from a Rifle barrel, such as those found on the Springfield Rifle Musket, or the imported Enfield Rifle Musket. Range and accuracy were greatly increased when the rifling of the barrel spin-stabilized the ball through it's trajectory, carrying it out to 250 yards for the average infantryman. Experienced shooters could have luck hitting targets out as far as 500 and 1,000 yards distant. Before this invention, the Smoothbore shooting a Round Ball was only effective out to about 100 yards.
    • It's estimated that these improvements made the Rifle Musket and Minie Ball as much as three time more deadly on the battlefield than the next best infantry arm.
  • First Use of a Machine Gun: at least 5 instances, including...
    • The Ager Gun
    • The Williams Gun
    • The Gatling Gun
  • First Use of a Turreted Gun in Combat:
    • The Monitor at the Battle of Hampton Roads, April 1862
  • First Meeting in Combat of Ironclad Warships
    • A meeting between the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (a captured and converted ship formerly called the Merrimac) at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on March 9, 1862, a circling naval gunfight which went on for about three hours, with neither vessel being able to inflict significant damage on the other.
  • First Use of a Anti-Personnel Contact Mine:
    • C.S. Brig. Gen. Gabriel J. Rains developed mines in 1862, using them in the Peninsula Campaign against the advancing Union Army
  • First American Indian General
    • Confederate Brigadier General Stand Watie, a leader of the Cherokee Nation
  • First U.S. Navy Hospital Ship
    • USS Red Rover - Launched in 1859, Red Rover was a Mississippi River side-wheel steamer, used by the Confederates as a barracks ship, but was captured, fitted out as a hospital ship, and commissioned in October 1862, serving the Union Western Flotilla, taking on sick and wounded and delivering medicine and supplies, admitting over 2,400 patients during her career, decommissioned November 1865, and sold into private hands.
  • First Recipient of the Medal of Honor
    • Army Pvt. Jacob Parrott - for his role in Andrews' Raid, better known as the Great Locomotive Chase, presented on March 25, 1863 on behalf of President Lincoln by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton
  • 1612983998869.png
    First Photograph of Combat as it Happened
    • George S. Cook captured what is likely and sometimes believed to be the world's first photographs of actual combat, during the Union bombardment of Confederate fortification Fort Moultrie near Charleston – his wet-plate photographs taken under fire show explosions and Union ships firing at southern positions September 8, 1863.
  • First Use of an Observation Balloon:
    • Both U.S. and C.S. forces attempted to use balloons to spy on opposing forces
  • First Aircraft Carrier:
    • USS George Washington Parke Custis. A balloon was attached to it and used for observation in 1861.
  • First Use of Anti-Aircraft Guns:
    • 3" Rifled Cannons were rigged by digging in the trails for a high angle of fire in an attempt to shoot down observation balloons during the Peninsula Campaign, this trial was unsuccessful at hitting it's target.
  • First wide spread use of an Integrated Metal Cartridge on the Battlefield
    • Specifically the 1859 Sharps Single Shot Breechloading Rifle
  • First Use of Repeating Rifles on Field of Battle: including 2 arms accepted into service by the Union Army
    • Spencer Repeating Carbine
    • Henry Rifle
  • First Combat Submarine to Sink a Warship / First Submarine to Sink in Combat
    • On February 17, 1864, the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley attacked and sank the 1,240-displacement ton U.S. Navy screw sloop-of-war USS Housatonic, which had been on Union blockade-duty in Charleston's outer harbor. Hunley did not survive the attack and also sank, taking with her all eight members of her third crew, and was lost.
  • First Use of Mounted Railroad Artillery: Several examples can be found...
    • The most famous example is the 13-inch mortar, "The Dictator"
Casualties of War
  • First Man Killed in the Civil War:
    • Union Pvt. Daniel Hough of Co. E., 1st Artillery from Premature Discharge during Fort Sumter evacuation ceremonies.
  • First Man Injured by Hostile Action:
    • Nicolas Biddle, a black orderly in Co. A, 27th Pennsylvania, struck by a brick thrown by Southern sympathizers in Baltimore on April 18, 1861
  • First Man to Die by Hostile Action:
    • Union Pvts. Sumner Needham, Luther C. Ladd, Anderson O. Whitney, & Charles A. Taylor of the 6th Massachusetts, and a dozen rioters in Baltimore, during an attack by a secessionist mob, April 18, 1861
  • First General Officer Killed:
    • C.S. Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett, killed at Corrick's Ford, Virginia (today WV) on July 13, 1861.
  • Only sitting U.S. Senator ever to be killed in a military engagement:
    • Union Col. Edward Dickinson Baker from Oregon, killed at Ball's Bluff on October 21, 1861
  • Most American Deaths in Battle over a Single Day:
    • The Battle of Antietam, 7,650 American soldiers were killed in combat in a single day
  • Youngest Combat Death during the American Civil War:
    • Drum Major Charlie King of Company F of the 49th Pennsylvania was mortally wounded at the Cornfield during the Battle of Antietam at the age of Thirteen
  • Highest Ranking Military Officer Captured in Battle:
    • Confederate Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton captured at Siege of Vicksburg
  • Most Valuable Person to be Captured by the Opposing Side:
    • Confederate States President Jefferson Davis captured in Georgia on May 10, 1865 while wearing his wife's overcoat after escaping from Richmond, Virginia
  • First Confederate Death at Gettysburg:
    • Henry Raison, 7th Tennessee Infantry
  • First Union Death at Gettysburg:
    • Cpl. Cyrus W. James, Co G., 9th NY Cavalry
  • Most Deadly Battle of the Civil War:
    • The Battle of Gettysburg, with between 46,000 and 51,000 casualties for both sides combined over the three days of fighting.
  • General with Most Mounts Killed Under Him:
    • C.S. Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, 29 Horses During the War
  • First United States President to be Assassinated:
    • Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, Mortally Wounded by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865
Extraordinary People
  • Longest Last Named General Officer:
    • U.S. Brig. Gen. Alexander Schimmelfennig, 14 letters
  • Tallest Union Soldier:
    • Capt. Van Buskirk, 27th Indiana, 6' 10.5"
  • Shortest Union Soldier:
    • Private in the 192nd Ohio, 3' 4"
  • Youngest Union General During the Civil War:
    • Brig. Gen. Galusha Pennypacker, promoted on April 28, 1865, aged 20 years, 11 months
  • Youngest Soldier in the Civil War
    • John Lincoln Clem joined the 22nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry, Company C in May of 1861, as a Union Drummer Boy, at the age of Nine.
  • Oldest Person to Enlist and Serve in the Union Army during the War
    • Curtis King enlisted in the 37th Iowa Volunteer Regiment (known as the "Gray Beards") in 1863 at the age of 80 years old. He served for a few months, but was discharged due to ill health. He died that same year.
  • Number of Generals named "George Washington": 6
    • George Washington Cullum
    • George Washington Deitzler
    • George Washington Getty
    • George Washington Gordon
    • George Washington Curtis Lee
    • George Washington Morgan
  • Other Coincidentally Named People of the Era (Thanks for finding these @Bill_Torrens!)
    • Men Named in the Union Service:
      • Union Army Brevet Major General Jefferson C. Davis of Indiana
      • Braxton Bragg, of Co.B, 54th Connecticut Infantry
      • Joseph E. Johnston of the 170th Ohio.
      • A.P. Hill of the 8th Illinois Cavalry.
      • At least 15 Union men were named Thomas J. Jackson
      • At least 41 Union men were named Jefferson Davis
      • At least 64 Union men were named Joe Wheeler
    • Men Named in the Confederate Service
      • At least 1 Confederate man was named George B. McClellan
      • At least 1 Confederate man was named William T. Sherman
      • At least 4 Confederate men were named Joe Hooker
      • At least 4 Confederate men were named George Custer.
      • At least 4 Confederate men were named Benjamin F. Butler
      • Confederate Army Enlisted Man from Rockingham County, Virginia named Private Abraham B. Lincoln, part of Company F, 1st Virginia Cavalry
  • First Jewish Attorney General in America:
    • Confederate Judah Benjamin
  • First Woman to Unofficially Command a U.S. Military Regiment:
    • Nadine A. Lvova Turchin in the spring of 1862 took command of the 19th Illinois Volunteer Regiment when her husband was sick and being transported by ambulance, an action the men in the unit accepted and followed her lead without disobedience.
  • First African-American U.S. Army Field Grade Officer
    • Major Martin Robison Delany - Commissioned in February 1865 as part of the United States Colored Troops
  • Only Confederate General to Fight for Both sides during the Civil War
    • Captain Frank Crawford Armstrong of Choctaw Agency, Indian Territory, he led a company of Union cavalry at the First Battle of Bull Run. Soon after the battle, in August of 1861, he resigned his commission and immediately joined the Confederate Army. He was supposed to wait a few days for his resignation to take effect, but because he joined the Confederate army so quickly, he was technically "on both sides" at the same time for a short period. In 1863 he was promoted to Brigadier General in the Confederate Army.
    • Another Notable Officer who switched sides mid-war was Joseph G. Sanders. He attained the rank of Captain in the Confederate 31st Georgia Volunteer Infantry, and attended several major battles. He resigned from the Confederate Army in early 1864. Later that year he did the unthinkable and joined the Union 1st Florida Cavalry, with a provisional commission as a Second Lieutenant. He resigned for what the Union Army termed: "the good of the service" in late 1865 with no further promotions.
  • Only Known Veteran of the Civil War and World War I
    • Peter Conover Hains
      • Civil War Duty - Commissioned June 24, 1861 - Remained active in the Army until 1904
        • Assignments: 2nd U.S. Artillery; Corps of Topographical Engineers; Corps of Engineers
      • World War 1 - Recalled to active duty September 1917, at the age of 77; Left active duty in the Fall of 1918
        • Chief Engineer for the Norfolk Harbor and River District; Chief Engineer for the Eastern Division of the Corps of Engineers
  • Last Living Confederate Army General
    • C.S. Brigadier General Felix Huston Robertson - died April 20, 1928, age of 89
  • Last Living Union Army / Civil War General
    • U.S. Brevet Brigadier General Aaron Simon Daggett - died May 14, 1938, age of 100
  • Last Living Confederate Army Veteran
    • C.S. Private Pleasant Riggs Crump, 10th Alabama Infantry Regiment - died December 31, 1951, age of 104
  • Last Living Union Army Combat Veteran
    • U.S. Private James Albert Hard, 32nd New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment - died March 12, 1953, age of 109
  • Last Living Union Army / Civil War Era Veteran
    • Drummer Boy Albert Henry Woolson, 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Regiment - died August 2, 1956, age of 106
Other Miscellaneous Civil War Era Records
  • Largest Blockade Effort Ever Attempted / Largest Navy in the World at that Time
    • On April 19, 1861, President Lincoln issued a Proclamation of Blockade Against Southern Ports. The planned Union Blockade in 1861, with 3,500 miles of Confederate coastline, and 180 possible ports of entry to patrol, and limited ships available, was only partially effective. Obviously a larger Union Navy was required to patrol such a vast area. By the end of the war, the Union Navy had grown to 671 ships, making it the Largest Navy in the World.
  • Most Recorded Artillery Rounds Fired by an Artillery Battery in One Day During the Civil War:
    • 1,342 rounds by the six 10-pdr. Parrott Rifles of the 1st New Jersey Artillery, Battery 'B' at Gettysburg, on July 2nd during the fight at the Peach Orchard.
  • Smallest Field Artillery Gun Accepted into Federal Service:
  • Largest Field Artillery Gun:
    • The 4.5 inch Siege Rifle is considered to be the largest heavy field gun of the Civil War, two batteries accompanied the Army of the Potomac as “heavy” field artillery between 1862 and 1864. The next size piece used, 30-pdr. Parrott Rifle was too cumbersome to move at the same pace with the rest of the army.
  • Largest Overall Artillery Accepted into Federal Service:
    • Model 1861 U.S. 15-inch Columbiad, also known as the 15-inch Rodman
  • Largest Experimental Artillery of the War:
  • Largest Artillery Barrage of the War:
    • July 3, 1863 - Gettysburg, Lee orders a massive artillery bombardment prior to the planned infantry assault known as Pickett's Charge. More than 150 guns took part in the hour-long cannonade.
  • Longest Siege in American Warfare:
    • The Siege of Petersburg, Virginia lasted 9 months, 2 weeks and 2 days, from June 9, 1864 to March 25, 1865 consisting mostly of trench warfare.
  • The Largest Concentration of African-American Troops of the War
    • The Siege of Petersburg: In December of 1864, all the United States Colored Troops around Petersburg were incorporated into three divisions and became the XXV Corps of the Army of the James. It was the largest black force assembled during the War, and varied between 9,000 and 16,000 men. Overall in the Petersburg Campaign USCTs would participate in 6 major engagements and earn 15 of the 16 total Medals of Honor awarded African American soldiers in the Civil War.
  • The Largest Number of Armed Men to Confront Each Other for Combat during the American Civil War:
    • Battle of Fredericksburg, with nearly 200,000 troops between the two armies.
  • United States Navy's Greatest Defeat before World War II
    • The CSS Virginia's attack on the ships at Hampton Roads, Virginia on March 8, 1862, was a major loss for the Union Navy. The USS Cumberland had been rammed and sank, with 150 casualties. The USS Congress had burned and sank with a loss of 110 sailors. A third ship, the USS Minnesota, had also run aground and was vulnerable to attack. With the tide dropping, the deep drafted Virginia was unable to close the distance, and chose instead to return to port for repairs and to tend the wounded. Virginia's acting Captain made plans to finish the job with Congress the next morning. Virginia's casualties included some damage to the smokestack reducing her speed, some loose armor, 2 disabled guns, a lost ram, 2 dead sailors, and a few wounded crew including Captain Buchanan.
  • One of a Kind, Commander-In-Chief Landing on Enemy Soil, to plan & direct an Amphibious Attack
    • When President Lincoln, accompanied only by his harbor pilot, tread upon the "sacred soil" of Virginia at the beach near Ocean View in May of 1862, he wasn't just taking in the beautiful view. Lincoln set foot in enemy territory to assess the tactical situation. Only one other sitting president had ever been so personally involved in planning and directing a military mission. Soon after, Lincoln initiated an amphibious attack on Norfolk and the Navy Yard at Gosport, assuming direct operational control, because he didn't trust that anyone else would do it right. The attack, under his direction, forced Norfolk to surrender to Union forces. With no other means of escape, the Confederates scuttled and burned the vulnerable CSS Virginia.
  • First Admiral in the United States Navy
    • David Glasgow Farragut - On July 16, 1862, the U.S. Congress created the Navy rank of Rear Admiral, honoring Farragut with a promotion to the new rank. On December 21, 1864, Lincoln promoted Farragut to Vice Admiral. This promotion made him the senior ranking officer in the United States Navy.
  • Largest surrender of United States troops before World War II
    • Surrounded, with no way to escape, on the morning of September 15th, 1862, Union commander Col. Dixon S. Miles of the Union Garrison at Harper's Ferry relented, and told his men to surrender to Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's forces. Jackson would secure a prize of 12,000 soldiers, 13,000 arms, and 47 pieces of artillery. Dixon was mortally wounded by a shell before the surrender took place.
  • Largest Military Snowball Fight
    • On January 29, 1863, the largest military snow exchange occurred in the Rappahannock Valley in Northern Virginia. What began as a few hundred men from Texas plotting a friendly fight against their Arkansas camp mates soon escalated into a brawl that involved 9,000 soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia.
  • Largest Civil War Prison Break:
    • In Richmond, Virginia in February 1864, 109 Union Prisoners of War broke out of the infamous Libby Prison in the middle of the night.
  • Most Successful Commerce Raider in Maritime History
    • As of June of 1864, Captain Raphael Semmes and the cruiser CSS Alabama, had stopped 447 vessels, capturing 65 Union merchant vessels and sinking the USS Hatteras. The Alabama was at sea for 534 out of the 657 days of her life. During this time she took 2,000 prisoners with no loss of life, and never actually touched Confederate soil.
  • Most Successful Runs through the Union Blockade
    • The English built, and privately owned iron-hulled sidewheel steamship SS Syren made 33 successful runs through the Union blockade, the most of any blockade runner, between her maiden voyage on November 5, 1863, and her capture by invading Union forces at Charleston Harbor on February 18, 1865.
  • The Last Presentation of an American Civil War Medal of Honor
    • Posthumously presented to Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing in 2014 by President Obama.
  • Last American to Receive a Civil War Pension:
    • Irene Triplett of North Carolina, died June 1, 2020 at the age of 90. She had been getting a check for $73.13 every month. Her father, Mose Triplett was a Confederate soldier, who had defected to the Union, and being a lifelong disabled child of a Veteran entitled her to the benefit.
More Surprising Facts
  • 4:1, Ratio of "people who attended church weekly in 1860", to "those who voted in the 1860 election"
  • About 20 percent of soldiers who enlisted were under the age of 18
  • The Civil War encompassed about 6,000 battles, skirmishes, and engagements over a period of only 4 years.
  • The Civil War was the first war to be widely photographed.
  • An estimated 3,000 horses were killed at the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • In 1863, as the lowest bidder of $1.59 per body, F.W. Biesecker was awarded the contract to disinter, remove and rebury the Union dead from the Gettysburg Battlefield to the new Soldiers National Cemetery.
  • An ambulance corps was finally established in 1864, before that, there was no effective ambulance corps to transport the wounded to a field hospital or doctor.
  • 2.5% — Approximate percentage of the American population that died in the Civil War
  • Approximately 700,000 soldiers surrendered over the course of the entire Civil War, making the odds of a soldier surrendering to the enemy at some point during their Civil War service, at about one in four, with some surrendering multiple times.
  • The Civil War History of Arlington Plantation
    • Robert E. Lee's Family Residence & Plantation Property at Arlington, Virginia was abandoned by the Lee family in May of 1861. It was occupied by the U.S. Army shortly thereafter, and considered confiscated. It used the house as a headquarters and officers’ housing, while soldiers camped around the property. The Army cut down many acres of forest in order to build multiple forts on the land.
    • In 1863, Congress levied a tax on all confiscated properties, but payment was rejected for Arlington. It was put up for sale for non-payment of $92.07 in taxes in January of 1864 and purchased by the U.S. government.
    • On May 13, 1864, U.S. Private William Christman became the first soldier buried on the Arlington property. On June 15, 1864, 200 acres of the plantation were officially designated as a military cemetery, formally establishing Arlington National Cemetery.
    • In 1877, Robert E. Lee's oldest son, George Washington Custis Lee sued the federal government for confiscating Arlington illegally; the Supreme Court agreed with Lee, and ordered the property returned to the Lee family.
    • The Lee family had no desire to live in an estate turned into a cemetery, and the government had no desire to disinter the 20,000 soldiers already buried on the property. George Washington Custis Lee came to an agreement with Government officials and sold Arlington back to the U.S. government on March 31, 1883 for $150,000.
  • The Government estimated the cost of the Civil War was $6.19 billion in 1865 dollars, or about $98 trillion in 2020 inflation adjusted dollars.


This article is a work in progress....
 
Last edited:

littledoug

Corporal
Joined
Apr 1, 2011
Location
iowa
Isn't the Hunley credited with being the first submarine to sink an enemy warship, the Housatonic in Charleston harbor? I believe there was prior use of submarines, even in the American Revolution, but that none successfully attacked to that extent.
 

nc native

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Location
NC Piedmont
Here is a candidate for the tallest solider that fought in the Civil War for either side: 2nd Sgt. Benjamin R. Mosley of the 18th Virginia who was 7' 0". He only served for a year when he was discharged in August 1862 for being overage. He was 42 years old at enlistment.
 
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