1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

How effective were Unionist Regiments?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by leftyhunter, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Colonel

    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    Messages:
    13,436
    Location:
    los angeles ca
    I have found evidence that not all Unionist regiments were equal has far has being effective combat units. I define Unionist troops has being white and born in one of the 11 states that formally seceded. I do not for my purpose count troops from Mo, Del, Ky or Md since most men of those states served in the Union army. Any discussion of non white troops who were Southern born should be on a separate thread.

    Per the book George Thomas Virginia for the Union by Christopher Einolf Univ of Oklahoma Press
    Gen. Thomas during his early battles in Ky did not think of troops from East Tn has being very effective and only allowed them to fight on the flanks. Einolf quotes historians that estimate up to 104k Unionists served in the Union army.

    Per the book General John Buford a military biography by Edward Longacre Da Capo press Gen Buford praised the 1st Va USV Cav has an effective fighting force under his direct command.

    The 1st Ark cav USV got of to a rough start at the battle of Parire Grove but in 1863 sucessuflly defended Fayetville from an attack of 2k confederates and inflicted heavier loss then the 1st Ark recieved from the enemy. See exploresouthernhistory.com for Col. Harrisons battle report. per the books "The Un civil war Irregular warfare in the upperSouth 1861-1865 Robert Mackey(who is a US Army major and serves in strategic planing at the Pentagon) Univ of Ok Press the 1st Ark was a successful counter insurgency unit.
    The 1st Al Cav USV was Gen. Shermans color guard in his Ga Campaign . It seems however to have at best a mixed record per oocities.org. I have read other sources that the 1st Al was not the best but I didn't write them down.

    I am leaving out many Unionist regiments since I don't have information on them of course many of you would know more then I.
    Overall has far has the CSA was concerned a Unionist soldier be he effective or not is one less body the CSa does not have and the CSA needed every man it could lay their hands on since the CSA was always outnumbered for the most part and they were always loosing manpower. Einholf makes the argument that the loss of Southern white men to the Union Army was the difference that made the CSA loose. He may be right.

    Leftyhunter
     

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. johan_steele

    johan_steele Colonel Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    14,451
    Location:
    South of the North 40
    Like any unit at any time in history it is all about the leadership. A good leader can make excellent troops from rabble and a poor leader can turn excellent troops into a rabble.
     
  4. Monitor

    Monitor Corporal

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2012
    Messages:
    250
    Location:
    Ballina, NSW, Australia
    I am currently reading Brigades of Gettysberg by Gottfried and it is very interesting to look at the varied performances of units on each side during that battle. And Johan's comment is valid when you see that in many cases where units (brigades, regiments) failed it was often because of poor or indecisive leadership.
     
  5. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Colonel

    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    Messages:
    13,436
    Location:
    los angeles ca
    I would think most of the Unionist regiments were recruited from rural areas so in theory they would be equal to any other rural regiment. In reality that may not of been true. I don't know if there has been a study of say urban regiments vs rural regiments which ones were better.

    True better leaders are all things being equal will have more success then poor leaders. I was trying to see why some Unionist regiments were better then others I was thinking some Unionist soldiers had different motivations and that affected their combat performance. One example of Unionist soldiers that fought hard of course is Ft.Pillow where Unionist and USCT troops did fight very well even though they lost. If Unionist has well has USCT troops knew that surrender would result in death or beating that would indeed motivate them to fight to the death.
    Leftyhunter
     
  6. 16thVA

    16thVA First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2008
    Messages:
    1,260
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Just a slight caveat, the 1st Va Cav. (later 1st WV Cav.) was mostly from Ohio and Pennsylvania, about 1/3 were Virginians.
    This is true of many of the early Virginia regiments during the first year of the war, though not later on.
     
    tbuckley likes this.
  7. johan_steele

    johan_steele Colonel Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    14,451
    Location:
    South of the North 40
    So called "Tory" troops were a mixed bag. Some were better than others, some were excellent w/ some being outright worthless. The same was true of "Loyal" Southern troops, some were superb w/ other such poor quality or so untrustworthy that they were disbanded so their weapons & equipment could be passed on to other units. And again the same was true for US units. The good, bad & the ugly. This is reality as old as fighting men have been grouped into units.
     
  8. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2010
    Messages:
    5,788
    Location:
    Kingsport, Tennessee
    Tennessee furnished to the Union Army 9 infantry regiments, 9 mounted infantry regiments, 16 cavalry regiments, 1 cavalry battalion, 1 light artillery battalion, 1 independent mounted scout unit, and 1 National guard unit. Approximately 31,092 men, 744 killed in action or mortally wounded, 4086, died of disease, 1,092 died of other causes for a total of 6,777. The vast majority of these southern Unionists were from east Tennessee. I'm wondering if the " Rock of Chickamauga " being the loyal Virginian he was, had developed a " prejudice " against all southerners, even the loyal ones ? The following is from the History of the Union 1st Tennessee Cavalry written by a veteran of company C, W.R.Carter and first published in 1902 :

    General J.M. Schofield wrote to Andrew Johnson in 1864 asking the Military Governor to put James P. Brownlow, Colonel of the 1st TN Cavalry, in command of a brigade. " Colonel Brownlow is energetic, daring and skillful. Success with him and his gallant command is the invariable rule "

    A friend of the regiment writes, " Colonel James P. Brownlow and his regiment, The 1st Tennessee Cavalry participated in more than 50 battles and skirmishes. He gained honorable distinction as a cavalry commander. he had 4 horses shot out from under him and was seriously wounded at Franklin. "

    Union General Edward M. McCook : " I had 2 southern brigades, one from Tennessee, and one from Kentucky. I can't say their discipline was perfect, but their fighting was "

    Union General D.S. Stanley makes mention that at Shelbyville, Tennessee 27 June,1863 the 1st Tennessee Cavalry helped give " the most overwhelming defeat ever suffered by the Confederate Calvary of General Joseph Wheeler and completely established the superiority of the Federal Cavalry in the west. "
     
    leftyhunter likes this.
  9. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    4,512
    Location:
    Colorado
    "Gen. Thomas during his early battles in Ky did not think of troops from East Tn has being very effective and only allowed them to fight on the flanks." I am not sure what this statement means. I respect Gen. Thomas, but the flanks is where a command is most skittish as Gen. Longstreet so adroitly noted.
     
  10. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Colonel

    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    Messages:
    13,436
    Location:
    los angeles ca
    I have not had time to research until now. Per Einolf's book page 121 concerning the battle of Mills Springs, Ky: Thomas had little faith in troops from Ky and Tn there soldiers resisted discipline and were poorly led. The 1st Ky Cav and 4th Ky Inf were exceptions to the rule. The Tn and Ky troops did little fighting.

    Not to say Thomas opinion of Unionist troops did not change over time. If I am not mistaken most Unionist troops did serve in the AOC so Thomas would have been very familiar with them. I don't know what Gen.Rosecrans though of Unionist troops he may of thought differently and has their commander for over a year it was his job to access them. The Unionist troops may of fought more post Mill Springs. I don't recall Unionist forces being mentioned in the book "No better place to die" about the battle of Stones Creek. Many Unionists served in various regiments from other states and apparently preformed well. The 2nd Colo cav had Unionists and they were well regarded has did the 20th In inf.
    Leftyhunter
     
    east tennessee roots likes this.
  11. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2010
    Messages:
    5,788
    Location:
    Kingsport, Tennessee
    True, Some weren't among the elite. Several of the mounted infantry regiments in Tennessee were 90 day regiments organized in late 1864. Many of their members were Confederate deserters. One such unit in upper east Tennessee was the 3rd Tenn Mounted Inf. Their Colonel was pulled out from under a house, where he was trying to hide from Vaughn's Confederate Cavalry. He had reportedly perpetrated several "atrocities " on several Confederate families in Monroe County, Tenn. After they removed him from under the house, they beat him to death with clubs. While doing genealogy research, I found records of court testimony where Union sympathizers said under oath that Co.F Union 3rd Tn Mounted was " no more than an organized outlaw band. " One of them was " kinfolk " LOL !!!!!
     
    Rebforever, CSA Today and leftyhunter like this.
  12. John Sumner

    John Sumner Private

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Messages:
    65
    Location:
    Monroe, OH
    I'm curious as to how a unionist unit would be uniformed and equiped? The same as regular federal troops?
     
    east tennessee roots likes this.
  13. CSA Today

    CSA Today Colonel

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2011
    Messages:
    17,469
    Location:
    Laurinburg NC
    North Carolina furnished 4 small white unionist regiments totaling 3,156 men. The mortality rate --43 deaths were battle related from a total of 360 deaths from all causes.

    “When it came time for the “Buffaloes to take to the field, they took to the woods.”
    An exasperated Federal officer
     
    Stony and Rebforever like this.
  14. johan_steele

    johan_steele Colonel Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    14,451
    Location:
    South of the North 40
    Yes
     
    lelliott19 likes this.
  15. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2010
    Messages:
    5,788
    Location:
    Kingsport, Tennessee
    The Union regiments made up of east Tennesseans early in the war were recruited, organized, equipped, and trained in Kentucky. The closest probably being Camp Nelson and Camp Dick Robinson. The early recruits as a rule made good soldiers. They had to put their lives on the line going through Confederate lines to get to Kentucky in the first place. The 90 day units made up in late 64, after Confederates were driven out of east Tennessee weren't much to write home about as a rule. I believe I'm correct in saying only South Carolina of the 11 Confederate States, didn't have an organized military unit in the Federal Army. There were men from South Carolina in other units.
     
    leftyhunter likes this.
  16. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Colonel

    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    Messages:
    13,436
    Location:
    los angeles ca
    One area of academic dispute about Unionists concerns Wv. From what I gather the general consensus is about 20k men from Wv served in the CSA vs 20k who served in the Union Army. Again these figures are not written in stone. Some Wv regiments are reported has being composed mostly of men from Oh and Pa. none the less if it is true that 20k West Virginians fought in the Union Army that's a lot of manpower. I don't know how good they were.
    Leftyhunter
     
    damYankee likes this.
  17. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Colonel

    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    Messages:
    13,436
    Location:
    los angeles ca
    Apparently many where and some where not. Some such has the 1st Ar had a rough start but did very well and some Nc units started of well and became demoralized due to being shot as prisoners. At Gettysburg the 7th Wv beat the 7th Va CSA. "Lincolns Loyalists Union soldiers from the Confederacy" Richard Nelson Current University Distinguished Professor Univ of North Carolina ,Greensboro Oxford University Press the chapter"fighting by Southern Federals'. I had a similar thread a while back but can figure out how to use the search function to bring it up.
    Leftyhunter
     
    War Horse and Blue Mississippian like this.
  18. Blue Mississippian

    Blue Mississippian Private

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2014
    Messages:
    96
    I'm currently reading that book. It's a fascinating subject and overlooked in history books.
     
    leftyhunter likes this.
  19. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Colonel

    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    Messages:
    13,436
    Location:
    los angeles ca
    Me to . In recent years there has been more scholarship devoted to Unionism plus the Jone County movie is coming out soon.
    Leftyhunter
     
    War Horse likes this.
  20. chellers

    chellers Lt. Colonel Trivia Game Winner Retired Moderator Honored Fallen Comrade

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2013
    Messages:
    10,394
    Location:
    East Texas
    Lefty, is this the thread?
    http://civilwartalk.com/threads/how-would-they-have-answered-this-question.107075/
     
    Blue Mississippian likes this.
  21. Elennsar

    Elennsar Colonel

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Messages:
    14,837
    Location:
    California
    I'd say it depended considerably on the quality of the usual things at work in "how good was X regiment". I'm not sure we can say there was a general trend towards being more or less dependable from my limited reading (most of which is on West Virginia's contribution, so don't take me as a subject matter expert).
     

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)