Pioneer Brigade

This Brigade was organized by details of twenty men each from all Infantry regiments in the Army of the Cumberland, per G.O. No. 3, dated Department of the Cumberland, November 3, 1862, and instructions from Headquarters 14 A.C. of November 21, 1862. The Brigade was broken up and men having more than one year to serve were transferred to the 1 Reg't U.S. Veteran Engineers and the remaining men sent back to their respective regiments by S.O. No.231, dated A.G.O., July 8, 1864, and G.O. No. 132, dated Department of the Cumberland, September 1, 1864, -- A. 587--V.S. 1864.

(Pvt. Absalom Ross was selected and assigned to the Pioneer Brigade)

The regimental colonels detached their best, most talented men,
 in the expectation that they could use their pioneers as they saw fit.
It should be considered to be quite a compliment to your great grandfather
that he should have been selected for the Pioneer Brigade.
It meant that his colonel thought highly of him. ... Philip Shiman

Headquarters Department of the Cumberland

Murfreesboro, Tenn., February 12, 1863

(The Battle of Stones River, Dec. 1862 - Jan. 1863)

  "Among the lesser commands which deserve special mention for distinguished services in the battle the PIONEER CORPS, a body of 1,700 men, composed of details from the companies of each infantry regiment, organized and instructed by Capt. James St. Clair Morton, Corps of Engineers, chief engineer of this army, which marched as an infantry brigade with the left wing, making bridges at Stewart's Creek; prepared and guarded the ford at Stone's River on the night of December 29th and 30th; supported Stokes' battery, and fought with valor and determination on December 31st, holding its position till relieved on the morning of January 2nd; advancing with the greatest promptitude and gallantry to support Van Cleve's division against the attack on our left on the evening of the same day, constructing a bridge and batteries between that time and Saturday evening. The efficiency and esprit du corps suddenly developed in this command, it's gallant behavior in action, and the eminent services it is continually rendering the army, entitle both officers and men to special public notice and thanks, while they reflect the highest credit on the distinguished ability and capacity of Captain Morton, who will do honor to his promotion to a brigadier general, which the President has promised him."

(Comments from General Rosecrans' Stone River official report.)

(Pvt. Absalom Ross was one of those soldiers wounded in this battle.)

For an excellent history of the Pioneer Corps

Convalescent Hospital, Nashville, TN

This company was organized from convalescents at Nashville, Tenn., and its members were forwarded from time to time to their respective commands, under the provisions of G.O. Nos. 72 and 78, War Dept., A.G.O., of June 28, and July 15, 1862.--R. and P., 387, 545.

(Pvt. Absalom Ross was stationed here, building hospital cots, after being wounded in the battle of Stone's River.)

Gunboat Silver Lake No. 2

This organization was formed of men of various regiments detailed by S.O. No. 190, Hd. Qrs. Department of the Cumberland, of July 20, 1863 for duty on Gunboat Silver Lake, No. 2.

The men were relieved and returned to their respective regiments at different dates.--R. and P. 389, 287.

(Pvt. Absalom Ross was assigned to this gunboat after leaving the hospital in Nashville.)

History of the Gunboat Silver Lake #2

  “Too great a proportion of the interest and study of the Civil War has been lavished upon the slogging to and fro on the martial highway between Washington and Richmond. The little men-of-war on the bayous likewise served from start to finish, and they fought summer and winter too. For unique thrills their adventures cannot be approached in this struggle unless possibly by their sisters on the eastern sloughs. West and east, those on both sides behaved splendidly.” H. Allen Gosnell, author of Guns on the Western Waters.

(This book is a very good read! J.H.R.)

Fort Negley, Nashville, Tennessee

26 November 1864

Pvt. Absalom Ross is assigned to the 12th Indiana Light Artillery Battery at this fort just before the Battle of Nashville takes place in 1864. He later rejoins the 70th Indiana Regiment in North Carolina, on 23 April 1865.





Gunboat Silver Lake

In the picture the "Silver Lake" is lying off Vicksburg (Mississippi) after its fall. While Admiral Porter was busy attacking Vicksburg with the Mississippi squadron, Lieutenant-Commander Le Roy Fitch, with a few small gunboats, was actively patrolling the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. It was soon seen that the hold upon Tennessee and Kentucky gained by the Federals by the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson would be lost without adequate assistance from the navy, and Admiral Porter was authorized to purchase small light-draft river steamers and add them to Fitch's flotilla as rapidly as they could be converted into gunboats. One of the first to be completed was the "Silver Lake." The little stern-wheel steamer first distinguished herself on February 3, 1863, at Dover, Tennessee, where she (with Fitch's flotilla) assisted in routing 4,500 Confederates, who were attacking the Federals at that place. The little vessel continued to render yeoman's service with the other gunboats, ably assisted by General A. W. Ellet's marine brigade.

From the Photographic History of the Civil War: the Navies by Francis Trevely Miller, 1911

Gunboat U. S. S. Benton

This drawing of the Ironclad Benton depicts a typical layout of a Western Waters Gunboat. The water line shown here would actually be much higher. From: A. L. Holley's A Treatise on Ordnance and Armor, 1865. Photo from: Guns on the Western Waters, H. A. Gosnell.

Gunboat U. S. S. Conestoga

One of the first three Union Gunboats on the Western Rivers, the others being the Tyler and Lexington. From: H.W. Elson's The Civil War Through the Camera, 1912. Photo from: Guns on the Western Waters, H. A. Gosnell.