Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More Info on the Mutineers from Today's Earlier Post

After publishing my earlier post today, I received comments on Facebook from my friend David Norris in Wilmington, NC. It turns out that he has some information on the mutineers from the Huzzar. Here is his email in its entirety:


Here's the Marine Artillery info -- I got interested in the regiment while researching background information for Potter's Raid. (Note: David is the author of Potter's Raid: The Union Cavalry's Boldest Expedition in Eastern North Carolina) The only guy killed in Greenville (NC) during the Civil War was a private in the Marine Artillery, who was shot by a Confederate cavalryman during a Union naval raid in November 1862. Researching the regiment led to a pretty interesting story. Not much on the mutiny appears in the Army and Navy Official Records, but the Chicago Tribune covered it extensively.



The 1st New York Marine Artillery was commanded by Col. William A. Howard, who before the war was the senior captain in the US Revenue Marine. His regiment was intended to man guns aboard army gunboats in the coastal rivers and sounds of the South. Marine Artillery enlisted men wore naval-style uniforms, and were armed like sailors, with revolvers and cutlasses.

After recruiting in New York City and Chicago, the Marine Artillery was sent to North Carolina with the Burnside Expedition in 1862. They fought credibly in several land actions, firing boat howitzers. Lt. William B. Avery won the Medal of Honor for his conduct in a sharp skirmish at Tranter’s Creek, North Carolina. The regiment also built a “monitor car”, a special ironclad railroad car armed with a pair of breech loading cannons that defended the Union stronghold of New Bern.

Things began to go wrong for the Marine Artillery in the fall of 1862. Many of the men were promised $18 a month, the same as naval seamen, instead of the usual $13 a month for a private. The extra pay never came through; neither did promised enlistment bounties and prize money. Embarrassing revelations of fraud and mistreatment of the Illinois recruits, who had never been paid or issued uniforms, came to light after a mutiny. Angry letters about “the Marine Artillery Swindle” splashed onto the pages of the Chicago Tribune. The outcry in Chicago grew so loud that the Illinois legislature and governor pushed the War Department to release them from their enlistments.

The War Department ordered the Marine Artillery disbanded in December 1862. 300 mutinous men were reportedly let out of jail and abandoned in New Bern, North Carolina. Others were allowed to transfer to the 3rd New York Artillery. Officers found themselves drifting in limbo, scrambling to find new assignments. In July 1863, several former officers of the regiment who were still at loose ends, helped put down the Draft Riots in New York City.


Lee Thomas Oxford said...

Andrew - Thanks for the account above. I have been researching a 20th Indiana Pvt. Henry A. Unruh who was captured on te Outer Banks, October 4, 1861. He was released in May 1862 and discharged. He enrolled at Chicago on August 1, 1862 with the 1st NY Marine Artillery and was discharged January 25, 1863 at New Berne. I have researched extensively his 20th Indiana service and his capture and imprisonment. I only discovered his 1st NY Mar. Art. service after scanning his Pension file at NARA. I was not aware of this mutiny story until reading your article. So, I am intrigued. Unruh later became a very wealthy real estate executive, tied into the railroad and banking industries, etc. He laid out the city of Arcadia California and was the city's second mayor. So, any info you can pass along would be helpful. - Lee Oxford -

Andrew Duppstadt said...

Mr. Oxford,
I'm sorry to say that I can't really provide you with any further information. Everything I have is contained here in the blog post. Had I not been researching the USS Hussar, I never would have come across it myself. Sorry I can't be of further assistance, but thanks so much for dropping in and commenting! The story of Henry Unruh sounds pretty interesting. ~Andrew Duppstadt