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Military Issues

This slideshow contains 17 items
1
Surgeon report on illness in New Orleans, 1862

Surgeon report on illness in New Orleans, 1862

Item 70234 info
Maine Historical Society

For Brig. Gen. George F. Shepley, serving as military governor of Louisiana meant dealing with military as well as social and political issues.

A number of types of requests and reports crossed his desk -- health needs of soldiers, reports on captured property, troop strength for the occupied territory, soldier behavior, and soldier requests for promotions or endorsement of promotion, among many others.


2
Dr. Gale on deceased soldier, New Orleans, 1862

Dr. Gale on deceased soldier, New Orleans, 1862

Item 70236 info
Maine Historical Society

Surgeons assigned to regiments often were blunt in their assessment of health issues. In the previous letter, Enoch Adams of the 14th Maine wrote, "There is not a man sleeping on the ground that has not a cough," as he urged bunks for soldiers.

Dr. George F. Gale, surgeon for the 8th Vermont, wrote in his brief report that a soldier "died last night in Hospital from starvation."

The climate in Louisiana, along with the conditions facing many troops, resulted in large numbers of death from disease.


3
Report on concealed guns, equipment, New Orleans, 1862

Report on concealed guns, equipment, New Orleans, 1862

Item 70955 info
Maine Historical Society

While Shepley did not directly command troops, he was kept apprised of troop activity and often was involved in issues related to the security of the Union-occupied areas of Louisiana.

Shepley received a letter from Col. F. S. Nickerson of the 14th Maine Volunteers who wrote to Col. Nathan Dudley, assistant military commandant of New Orleans, to report that he had "positive information" about concealed equipment and guns that had been taken from the Marine Hospital when Union forces arrived in New Orleans.

He sought permission to search for the items and take them as contraband of war.


4
Instructions when alarm sounded, New Orleans, 1862

Instructions when alarm sounded, New Orleans, 1862

Item 71946 info
Maine Historical Society

Because New Orleans remained part of the war zone, Union forces needed plans for emergencies.

Shepley, then military commandant of New Orleans, along with Lt. Godfrey Wietzel of the U.S. Engineers who was assistant military commandant, issued confidential instructions for troop movements and assignments in case an alarm was sounded.


5
Col. William Kimball report on capture of battery, New Orleans, 1862

Col. William Kimball report on capture of battery, New Orleans, 1862

Item 71952 info
Maine Historical Society

Col. William Kimball of Shepley's former regiment, the 12th Maine Infantry, reported on the successful capture of a Rebel battery.

In his report, he praised all regiments involved, writing that he wanted to "express to you my full confidence in their gallantry, courage & discipline, as exhibited during the entire expedition."


6
Brig. Gen. G.F. Shepley to Edwin Stanton, Portland, 1862

Brig. Gen. G.F. Shepley to Edwin Stanton, Portland, 1862

Item 72122 info
Maine Historical Society

Shepley, in anticipation of his expected visit to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 1862, wrote to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton that more troops were needed for the Union to effectively occupy New Orleans and areas of Louisiana.

Rebels were still active in the area, but in addition, troops were needed to deal police reported stores of weapons, dealings with the Confederacy, escaped slaves, and numerous other issues.


7
Nathaniel Banks telegram on Opelousas, 1863

Nathaniel Banks telegram on Opelousas, 1863

Item 74976 info
Maine Historical Society

Shepley worked closely with, and under the direction of, the military commander for the Department of the Gulf.

The first commander was Shepley's friend, Gen. Benjamin Butler. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks replaced Butler in December 1862.

Banks sent Shepley a telegram on April 18, 1863, telling him the army would soon be at Opelousas, Louisiana, and asking Shepley to meet the troops there.

Union forces occupied Opelousas and Banks wanted to have the presence of the military governor when the troops completed their occupation.


8
Gen. Shepley warning on Rebel attack, New Orleans, 1863

Gen. Shepley warning on Rebel attack, New Orleans, 1863

Item 75082 info
Maine Historical Society

Shepley kept in close touch with the officers who were directly commanding troops.

Here, Shepley warns Gen. Godfrey Weitzel about a potential Rebel attack if Banks' troops moved to Port Hudson to retrieve ordnance stores.


9
Gen. Banks telegram on Confederates loss of boat, Louisiana, 1863

Gen. Banks telegram on Confederates loss of boat, Louisiana, 1863

Item 75223 info
Maine Historical Society

Banks reported to Shepley that Union forces near New Iberia in April 1863, "pressed the enemy so hard that they have been obliged to destroy the gunboat Hart, iron clad, & the best boat they had."


10
Gen. Banks concern about gambling, New Orleans, 1863

Gen. Banks concern about gambling, New Orleans, 1863

Item 76121 info
Maine Historical Society

Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks was concerned that a gambling house in New Orleans that was "frequented by a large number of officers of the Army."

Banks wrote that the "reputation and the interest of the government require that these places shall be closed." He reported that a lieutenant had lost $300 in one night.


11
Gen. Shepley endorsement of Webb promotion, New Orleans, 1863

Gen. Shepley endorsement of Webb promotion, New Orleans, 1863

Item 75083 info
Maine Historical Society

Soldiers frequently sought Shepley's formal endorsement -- or his influence -- in their requests for promotion.

Commissions generally were given to those with political or social influence, but soldiers in the field maneuvered to get promotions.

In this case, Shepley endorsed the promotion of Charles Webb, quartermaster of the 12th Maine, to quartermaster of the army and to a rank of captain.


12
Inquiry about lack of soldier's promotion, Auburn, 1863

Inquiry about lack of soldier's promotion, Auburn, 1863

Item 75086 info
Maine Historical Society

The process of promotions sometimes brought complaints and disappointments to ambitious soldiers -- and their families.

Sumner Wood of Auburn wrote to Shepley to find out why his brother, Sgt. William D. Wood, of the 1st Maine Battery had not been promoted.

He complained that a private was promoted to lieutenant and Sgt. Wood was not.


13
Laurens Joyce request for troop command, Florida, 1863

Laurens Joyce request for troop command, Florida, 1863

Item 75479 info
Maine Historical Society

Especially after the spring of 1862 when President Lincoln approved formation of black regiments, many soldiers sought to move into officer positions in black regiments -- which generally had white officers.

Capt. Lauren Joyce of Brunswick sought such a command. Joyce, of the 15th Maine, asked Shepley to endorse him to command a "Colored Regiment."


14
Recommendation for Laurens Joyce appointment, Florida, 1863

Recommendation for Laurens Joyce appointment, Florida, 1863

Item 75480 info
Maine Historical Society

In addition to Joyce's letter, Shepley received one from Col. Isaac Dyer, commander of the 15th Maine, who recommended that Joyce be promoted to colonel and be given command of a black regiment.


15
Capt. Joyce letter on black troops, 1863

Capt. Joyce letter on black troops, 1863

Item 75484 info
Maine Historical Society

Capt. Laurens Joyce wrote another letter to Shepley, furthering his plea for command of a black regiment.

He wrote, "With the information which I possess I do not hesitate to say that a Regiment of Negroes can be raised here and in the neighborhood."

Joyce added, "I respectfully solicit your influence if not incompatible with previous engagements in procuring me such a command."

There is no indication that Joyce ever received his sought-after promotion.


16
Gen. Shepley endorsement of Capt. Buck promotion, New Orleans, 1863

Gen. Shepley endorsement of Capt. Buck promotion, New Orleans, 1863

Item 75482 info
Maine Historical Society

Capt. Alfred E. Buck of the 13th Maine had better luck. Shepley endorsed his promotion to color and command of a black regiment.

Buck had received endorsements and recommendations from the lieutenant colonel of his regiment and from brigadier generals Sherman and Neal Dow.

In October 1864, Buck, a graduate of Colby College, began a lieutenant colonel in the 51st U.S. Colored Infantry.


17
Surgeon Thompson to Gen. Shepley, Point Lookout, MD, 1863

Surgeon Thompson to Gen. Shepley, Point Lookout, MD, 1863

Item 76531 info
Maine Historical Society

Sometimes, Shepley's correspondents reported back to him that they had been promoted. This was especially true of officers Shepley had served with in the 12th Maine Infantry Regiment.

Surgeon James H. Thompson of the 12th Maine wrote about his promotion to Surgeon of Volunteers and his assignment at the Point Lookout, Maryland, prisoner of war camp, where he was chief medical officer.

Thompson wrote that the camp held "only" 8,000 prisoners -- 1,000 having recently been exchanged for Union soldiers being held prisoner.


This slideshow contains 17 items