Sunday, May 20, 2018

Shamed at Sharpsburg: The Court Martial Case of Alfred Ransom Courtney

A postwar portrait of Alfred Ransom Courtney
(courtesy of George Seitz,
As September 17, 1862, wore on, Robert E. Lee realized he would need as much help as he could find. Robert Chilton, a staff officer of Lee's, wrote a dispatch in the midst of the battle to artillery chief William Nelson Pendleton, requesting “fifteen or twenty guns, suitable for our purposes…with a sufficiency of ammunition.” Lee stressed to Pendleton: “We want ammunition, guns, and provisions” as the battle intensified.[1]
One artillery officer who had plenty of capacity to help Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia in this respect on September 17 commanded a battalion of artillery (four batteries)—Maj. Alfred Ransom Courtney. The 28-year-old major’s roots in North America dated back to 1620. “With an ancestry in whose veins flowed Scotch and English blood so pure,” wrote one of Courtney’s associates, it was no surprise that Courtney “developed in a high degree characteristics of intelligence, integrity and courage.” Courtney passed his bar exam before the Civil War began. He became a lieutenant in one Confederate battery at the outset of the war before receiving command of his own battery in July 1861.[2]

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

From Antietam Creek to Stones River: Two Victories that Saved the North and Reshaped the Nation

The summer and winter of 1862 were hard times for the North.  Confederate offensives from Maryland to the Mississippi River sat at the peak of Union setbacks in the summer of 1862.  In the end, these offensives were turned back at Corinth, Perryville, and Antietam Creek; the latter also serving to redefine the nation and the war as it now sought to end slavery in the United States due to the Union victory on the banks of Antietam Creek.  Abraham Lincoln stated that he issued the proclamation strictly “as a military measure” and as such, only slaves then in territories that “the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States…” would “be then, thenceforward, and forever free….”