Thursday, January 7, 2010

Colonel Charles Woodman Kittredge

THIRTY-SIXTH INFANTRY.

Charles W. Kittredge is a New Englander, being born in Portland, Maine, on the 16th of January, 1826. His father, Joseph W. Kittredge, who was a merchant, closed up his business in Portland in 1828, and removed with his family to Sutton, Vermont. Sutton remained the residence of his family, till the year 1836. At nine years of age, young Kittredge entered the High School of Bradford, Massachusetts. A few years later, he became a member of the Lyndon Academy, Vermont, where he remained till 1839. That year he completed his schooling, and soon after joined his father's family in Adams county, Illinois, where it had removed in the fall of 1836. The father died in 1844, soon after which Charles returned with his mother to New England, where he remained till 1855, doing business in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and in Dexter and Portland, Maine. In 1855, he again came West, and, after a residence of three years in Chicago and Mt. Pleasant, settled in Ottumwa, Iowa, where he entered the grocery business.

Early in the summer of 1861, he enlisted a company (F) for the 7th Iowa Infantry, and was elected its captain. He accompanied his regiment in all its tiresome marches through Missouri, and was with it in the brilliant, though unfortunate affair at Belmont, where he distinguished himself. Just after the flank movement of the enemy had been learned, and when his regiment was falling back, Captain Kittredge was severely wounded, and, being necessarily left upon the field, fell into the hands of the enemy. He was soon paroled, however, and sent to Cairo, where he lay for many weeks in a very critical condition, in the St. Charles Hotel. He was shot twice; through the arm, and through the thigh, the ball in the latter case passing between the bone and the femoral artery. Having finally recovered he re-joined his regiment on the 30th of the following March; but his wounds had disabled him for duty as a line officer, and he was compelled to tender his resignation, which was accepted on the 11th of June, 1862.

Returning to Ottumwa, he resumed his former business, and was thus engaged when, in the following August, Governor Kirkwood tendered him the colonelcy of the 36th Iowa Infantry. He accepted the commission, and at once reported at Keokuk, where his regiment was in rendezvous.

The 36th Iowa, like all her sister regiments, has a good record. It has an unfortunate chapter in its history: it is one of the seven Iowa regiments that, during the war, has been captured.

The regiment, by order of General Curtis, commanding at St. Louis, reported at Helena, Arkansas, on the first of January, 1863, and remained at that post on garrison-duty till the 24th of February following, when it left on the celebrated Yazoo Pass Expedition. It sailed with the advance, under Brigadier-General Ross of Illinois, and arrived at Shell Mound on the Tallahatchie, about two miles above Fort Pemberton, on the 11th of March. It was at once disembarked, and sent out to support a portion of General Solomon's Brigade, then skirmishing with the enemy; but, though under fire, it did not engage the enemy, and suffered no loss. It left on the return to Helena the 4th of April, having in the meantime only met the enemy in skirmishes.

The dangers and hardships of the Yazoo Pass Expedition have been given elsewhere, and I need only add here that, in the perilous return up the Tallahatchie and Cold Water Rivers, the 36th Iowa lost only four men wounded. But many of both officers and men contracted diseases on this expedition, which rendered them unfit for service. Among others was Major T. C. Woodward, a most excellent officer, and deservedly popular with the regiment.

The 4th of July vindication, at Helena, Arkansas, in the summer of 1863, was the first severe engagement of the 36th Iowa. Here, three thousand five hundred men successfully resisted the repeated and determined assaults of six times their number. It was a terrible disaster to the rebels, and made the hearts of those on the west side of the Mississippi disconsolate. From the 8th of April to the 10th of August, 1863, the 36th Iowa was stationed at Helena; but on the last named date started out with Major-General Steele on the Arkansas Expedition, which ended with the capture of Little Rock, September 10th 1863. During this march, Colonel Kittredge commanded the 1st Brigade of the 2d Division.

Having passed the fall of 1863, and the following Winter at Little Rock, the 36th Iowa, on the 23d of March, 1864, joined the expedition under Major-General Steele, which, being organized in conjunction with one under Major-General Banks, had for its object the capture of Shreveport, and the defeat and dispersion of the enemy in the Red River country. The battles of Elkin's Ford and Mark's Mills, Arkansas, will ever have a place in the military annals of Iowa, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio, the States whose troops were there represented.

The 43d Indiana, 36th Iowa, 77th Ohio, and two sections of Battery E, 2d Missouri Light Artillery constituted the 2d Brigade, 3d Division, 7th Army Corps, and, with the exception of two companies of the 1st Iowa Cavalry, were the only troops on our side engaged at Elkin's Ford. Indeed, if I am correctly informed, the 77th Ohio was not engaged, having been previously detached to support the cavalry in another quarter.

The battle of Elkin's Ford was opened early on the morning of the 4th of April, 1864, by the enemy driving in our cavalry-pickets, and by advancing rapidly against the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Drake, composed of portions of the 43d Indiana and the 36th Iowa, and one section of Battery E, 2d Missouri Light Artillery, which was being held as the picket-reserve. The fighting was very severe, and the gallantry of the troops unrivaled; but the force of the enemy was so great as to render all opposition of no avail. Lieutenant-Colonel Drake was being gradually forced back, when Colonel Kittredge, coming up on his left with the balance of his regiment, charged the enemy and drove him back in confusion. The repulse was so complete that the enemy declined to renew the fight, and beat a hasty retreat.

The battle of Elkin's Ford was fought near the Little Missouri River, and during General Steele's march southward. That of Mark's Mills was fought, while the 2d Brigade was en route to Pine Bluff for supplies for Steele's army at Camden.

How General Steele, learning at Prairie de Anne of the defeat of Banks, turned eastward to Camden; how he lost much of his train sent out on a foraging expedition to Poisoned Springs; how, after that, Colonel Mackey of the 33d Iowa came through with supplies from Pine Bluff; and how Steele, resolving to maintain himself at Camden, sent back to Pine Bluff for other supplies, has already been stated in the sketches of other officers and regiments. The 2d Brigade, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Drake, constituted the command above alluded to; and, in addition to those troops, were two hundred and forty men of the First Indiana and 7th Missouri Cavalry, under Major McCaully. The wagon-train consisted of two hundred and forty wagons.

Lieutenant-Colonel Drake left Camden on the morning of the 23d of April, and proceeding on the Pine Bluff road, reached Moro Bottom in the evening of the 24th instant. Up to that time, Major McCaully, in command of the cavalry, had discovered no enemy; and Lieutenant-Colonel Drake, thinking that he was not threatened, went into camp. Had he marched all that night, as did the enemy, he would have escaped capture, and saved his train. On the 25th instant, the march was resumed at day-light, and proceeded unmolested till near the junction of the Warren and Pine Bluff roads, when Major Morris, in advance, came on the enemy's skirmishers. The engagement opened at once. At this time the 36th Iowa, under Major Hamilton, a brave and worthy officer, was marching by the side of the train, to guard against a flank-surprise; but, on receiving notice of the attack, hurried to the front. Orders were also sent to the 77th Ohio, in the extreme rear, to double-quick to the front; but before the movement was executed, the regiment was surrounded and captured. The 36th Iowa, 43d Indiana, Lieutenant Peetz's Battery, and the cavalry, had, therefore, to continue the engagement without reinforcements. As was afterward learned, the rebel troops on the ground numbered little less than eight thousand. Fagan was in command, and he had seven brigades — Shelby's, Dockery's, Cabell's, Cooper's, Crawford's, Wright's, and Greene's. But, notwithstanding these overwhelming numbers, the remnant of the 2d Brigade maintained its position, repelling the enemy's charges, for nearly five hours. Finally, being completely surrounded, its ammunition expended, and having no hope of relief, the command surrendered. It was at this time that the rebel General Fagan boasted that the capture of Steele's whole army was certain.

Lieutenant-Colonel Drake was severely wounded in this engagement, and was soon after paroled with others, and sent within our lines; but the 36th Iowa was marched to Tyler, Texas, where it passed a long and wretched prison-life. To show the hardships endured on this cruel march, I quote, briefly, from a statement made by Chaplain M. H. Hare, of the 36th Iowa:

"We were marched off rapidly after the close of the battle. We were all driven on foot fifty-two miles, without rations, rest, or respite, to Moro, or, as we termed it, 'Raw Corn.' There we crossed the Ouchita. We had eaten our breakfast on the morning of the 25th before day; and now it was after dark in the evening of the 26th. The rebels had robbed us of our haversacks, beside other valuables; and, when we reached the river, we seized upon some mule-corn, which we found, and ate it with avidity, raw. It was a sad sight to go among the boys, as I did that night, and see them — some gnawing away, and others, wearied and exhausted, lying asleep, still holding their half-eaten ear."

Captain T. B. Hale, unable to endure these hardships, died. This noble young officer was buried in a handsome grove, on the banks of the Ouchita, about sixty miles below Camden.

The killed and wounded of the 2d Brigade, in the battle of Mark's Mills, numbered about two hundred and fifty. The loss of the enemy is not known. Surgeon J. M. B. Cochrane, of the 1st Iowa Cavalry, Major Hamilton, of the 36th Iowa, and many others were highly complimented for their gallantry during the action.

The 36th Iowa was exchanged in the spring of 1865. Since that time, it has been stationed on garrison-duty at St. Charles, on White River.

Colonel Kittredge was not present in the engagement at Mark's Mills. At the time it was ordered out, he was sick and was left behind with some forty men of his regiment. On the return of General Steele to Little Rock, he accompanied the command of Brigadier-General Samuel A. Rice; and, under that officer, took part in the engagement at Jenkin's Ferry. During General Steele's absence from Little Rock, Colonel Anderson of the First Iowa Cavalry, who was left behind, assumed command of the post; but, soon after the return of the army, that officer resigned his commission, when Colonel Kittredge was made Post Commandant. Colonel Kittredge continued at Little Rock till the spring of 1865, when on the suggestion of General Reynolds he was dismissed the service. I will state briefly what I know of this unfortunate affair.

In the winter of 1864-5, Lieutenant-Colonel Drake of the 36th Iowa preferred charges against Colonel Kittredge, which I have never seen, and which, if I had, and could state them, would afford to the reader little interest. Early in March, 1865, Colonel Kittredge went before a general court-martial convened at Little Rock, for trial. Brigadier-General Cyrus Bussey was President of the Court, and Colonels Benton, Mackey and Thompson were among its members. The case was tried, and resulted, I am told, in a finding of "not guilty," as regarded every charge and specification. The record was then made up, and sent by the Judge Advocate to General Reynolds, for approval; but that general, instead, forwarded the papers to the President, with the recommendation that Colonel Kittredge be dismissed the service. General Reynolds' recommendation was of course complied with; for he had been recently sent to Little Rock to relieve General Steele, for the express purpose of renovating the Department of Arkansas, and all his recommendations were promptly endorsed. I should state further that, one of General Steele's staff-officers, who remained behind after the departure of that general for New Orleans, and who was a bitter friend of Colonel Kittredge, was acting on the staff of General Reynolds at the time the colonel's papers were sent up.

After receiving his dismissal the colonel returned to his home and proceeded thence to Washington to make inquiry into the proceedings in his case. He was gone only a few days when news came that the order for his dismissal was revoked and he reinstated. He left Washington immediately for St. Charles, Arkansas, where his regiment is now stationed in garrison.

From the portrait of Colonel Kittredge here published which is a good one, can be read the character of the man. He is independent and outspoken and has no policy. The following is illustrative of his character. While stationed at Helena he was requested to sign a paper recommending a brigadier-general for promotion. He refused to give his name, saying he did not believe the officer entitled to promotion. The officer was at the time his division commander. He is abrupt in his manners, quick in his movements, and treats his friends with generosity and his enemies with vindictiveness.

From what I can learn he was popular with his regiment. I talked with several of his men who were just out of prison and home on leave of absence, and they all said he was considered a good officer. In the first year of the regiment's service I understand he made enemies by recommending a lieutenant over several captains for a field officer, though all but the parties interested admitted that the lieutenant was the best man for the place.

It is proper to state in this connection that, soon after resigning his commission as captain in the 7th Infantry, Colonel Kittredge was married to Miss Charlotte Mahon of Ottumwa, a sister of Major Mahon, and an intelligent and accomplished lady.

SOURCE: Addison A. Stuart, Iowa Colonels and Regiments, p. 513-20

1 comment:

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