The Puzzle of Midshipman Morgan Lewis Ogden Jr. Part 1

The Puzzle of Midshipman Morgan Lewis Ogden Jr. Part 1

The first puzzle about Midshipman Morgan Lewis Ogden jr. was his appointment from New York state to the US Naval Academy. I only called it into question because his state of birth was listed as Alabama. I thought it might just have been a transcription error on my part, writing down that particular southern state designation meant for another midshipmen. But the designation kept popping up in other records: the NY state census for 1855, and three federal censuses, two for 1860 and one for 1870. (He is listed twice in the 1860 census, once in Annapolis [as Wm L Ogden] and also for Washington DC Ward 1). His father and all his siblings list New York as their birth state. Only Morgan and his mother are different, though her state of Maryland is closer to the New York than his.

This mystery was cleared up by an Ogden family history. His father was down in Mobile Alabama in the 1840’s, working with his brother Charles W. Ogden in a cotton shipping business. There he married Eliza Glendy McLaughlin, and the future midshipman was born a year later. The 1855 NY state census indicates that the family relocated to New York City sometime in 1846. So this put him in the right place for his appointment from the 7th NY Congressional District when he was fifteen and a half.

The family history also brought up some interesting points about his ancestors. Through his father’s mother they are related to the Lewis family of New York. Her uncle was Morgan Lewis (hence their name sake), a soldier in the Revolution and the governor of New York in the early 1800s. And this same Lewis line traces back to Francis Lewis one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Morgan jr.’s naval career was a short one – two years – both of them in the plebe class. The total of his demerits were well below the threshold for dismissal, and were generally of the nature of absences of one form or another (seven the first year and five the next). The more serious ones involved the use of tobacco, either smoking, or the chewing and spitting variety; and one during the school year for intoxication. After this drinking incidence, he must have been called on the carpet, and had to give exacting promises never to repeat the offense.

So what happened?

Like Stephen Austin McCarty referenced in the last research post, Morgan became embroiled in the Foote Outrage. Like McCarty he was dismissed from the service on 4/27/1859, and like McCarty he was reinstated on 5/20/1859 and required to ship out on the USS Plymouth for the summer cruise. It was on this cruise that he again ran afoul of the bottle.

On September 20, 1859, George Blake, the Superintendent of the Naval Academy reported to Isaac Toucey, the Secretary of the Navy:

“The Department directed that the usual
indulgence of leave on shore should not be accorded
to these young gentlemen & it will be seen that in
contempt of this positive order they separated
themselves from Lieut. Carter under whose charge
they were sent on shore at Plymouth [England] on duty &
that Actg Midn Ogden was taken alongside the
ship intoxicated to utter insensibility & in that
condition was lifted on board by sailors.”

And goes on:

“Mr Ogden’s general conduct at the Academy
has been bad.-  He has been once found deficient
in his studies & put back.-  I have had occa-
sion to report him to the Department twice before
to recommend his dismissal last spring in which
recommendation the department concurred.-
Under his most solemn assurances of amendment
I subsequently ventured to suggest his restoration
in which the Department was also pleased
to concur.-  I fully concur with Commander
Craven in earnestly recommending the immediate
dismissal of Actg Midn Ogden.-“

Three days later Morgan received his dismissal from Secretary Toucey. He returned to his family. Which brings us back to the First Ward of the City of Washington in the District of Columbia where the family was living at the time of the 1860 census. Here his father is listed as a lawyer, and Morgan jr. a law student.

When the war came, like McCarty, Morgan joined the army, (the regular army not a state unit) receiving a commission as first lieutenant in the US 18th Infantry. Unlike McCarty he did not make a switch to the navy. Morgan had pretty effectively burnt that bridge. He served along the Mississippi (Vicksburg and Jackson), then on to the Tennessee campaign, followed by that of the move on Atlanta. He was brevetted a captain for his gallant service in the battle of Murfreesboro, in which he was also wounded. The 18th Infantry was part of the US Ninth Army Corps, and he served that organization in the commissary of musters department, i.e. recruiting. The last year of the war he spent in that service, first in Wisconsin, and then in Indianapolis.

After the war, he remained in the US 18th Infantry as it served in the Dakotas against the Sioux. He ended his career in Columbia, South Carolina in 1877, as the 18th was then posted to the Military Department of the South (involved in the reconstruction of the southern states). The ending was not a happy one. He was dismissed from the service by court martial. I do not know what the charges were against him, though I suspect “demon” rum may have reared its ugly head again.

There were a couple of surprises that popped up in my research about Morgan and his family, both touching on Abe Lincoln. When in Indianapolis on recruiting duty, Morgan stood honor guard on April 30, 1865 when the Lincoln funeral train made its stop there on its slow journey to Springfield, Illinois.

He may have met the President earlier in 1861. His little seven year old brother Sydney had. Sydney was about Tad Lincoln’s age, and had been invited over to play “soldier” at the White House. Either Tad or his older brother Willie recruited Sydney into their company – “Mrs. Lincoln’s Zouaves.”

This last item I find particularly fascinating. My third screenplay was about Willie and Tad, and seeing their famous father from their view. The sequel I have planned covers some of the “famous battles” of this unit.

Rebel Treasure nineteenth post

EXT. STONE RAILROAD BRIDGE – NIGHT
The train slows to a stop on the stone bridge. Lon drops from the cab and runs back and unhooks the baggage car. He motions to Jimmy, who moves the train forward and stops.

Then, Romeo rides up on the far side of the bridge and there pickets the horses. He meets Jimmy by the engine and together they walk back to join Lon by the baggage car. Jimmy passes out huge crowbars, which they use to tip the car off of the tracks. It hits the water with a tremendous splash and there she rests on her side.

LON (to Jimmy)
All right then.
(motions to the train)
Let’s give the Yanks something else to keep them busy.

Jimmy races forward to the cab, opens the throttle, and jumps back out. As they watch, it picks up steam and chugs away into the night.

And from a place of concealment, the trio watches the cavalry troop split in two. One section rides back to the bridge, while the other chases after the train.

FIELD IN MARYLAND – NIGHT
Lon swings down from his horse and points out to the far side of the field, etched silver in the light of the moon.

JIMMY
Are you sure?

LON
(holding up a sextant)
As sure as the sightings that I took last night.

ROMEO
I don’t see the wagon.

A window appears to open in the ground itself, and a square of yellow lamplight beckons to them. Jesse steps out from under a tarpaulin, bearing aloft a kerosene lantern. Behind him the wagon rests below ground level in a hole.

JESSE
About time you got here. Give us a hand with the shovels.

LON
Let me get a souvenir first.

JESSE
Why not? We all got ours.

The petty officer and Jesse each hold up a golden ingot. Louis prepares to start shoveling.

LOUIS
Sure seems a waste of all our effort. I can’t see how all this is doing the Confederacy any good.

Lon selects a shiny gold ingot with “1860” stamped on it.

LON
It’s all temporary. Maryland is going to secede; and soon General Harper will be marching over from Harpers Ferry and forces will be coming up from Alexandria– we just need to remember where we left it.

JESSE
But what if Maryland doesn’t go out?

LON
Well, then, I guess, at least we denied the gold to the enemy.

The petty officer, Jimmy and Romeo all chuckle.

[next pt 20]

ET and Old Ironsides

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When E T and the other soldiers awoke in the morning, most were unaware of what had transpired in the wee hours.  General Butler and his officers had been on the alert the whole time.  They had walked a tight rope. They didn’t know what to expect from the authorities ashore, both at the Naval Academy, nor of the civilian ones in Annapolis itself. It was a slave state after all, and hence held strong political and emotional ties to the seceded states.  And as the state’s major city Baltimore, had proved willing to resist the decisions of the Federal government, they were not sure which way this cat was going to jump.

On the other side of the coin, Captain George S. Blake, the Superintendent of the Naval Academy was himself convinced that the vessel off his station, having been observed descending from the direction of Baltimore, was filled with hostile elements bent on seizing the installation, its stores and weapons. Also at risk was the United States Frigate Constitution, posted here since September of the preceding year as a school-ship. Blake had orders from the Secretary of the Navy to defend her, or failing that, destroy her. To that end a sailor was kept in the hold of Old Ironsides, prepared to set a match to the 60,000 pounds of gunpowder stowed below.

In truth, both were men on the same side, yet neither knew. Both sides sent out feelers, that passed each other in the murk, and more misunderstandings ensued. By the first light of day, the two parties finally cleared things up. Both sides were going to get what they wanted. General Butler had a place to land his troops, the necessary next step on his march to Washington, and Captain Blake would get men to help defend the grounds, and most important of all, personnel to help man the Constitution.

Most of the Marines assigned to the Academy had been ordered to other stations prior to this.  Blake asked Butler if he could assign some men as a marine guard for the Constitution. Butler chose the Salem Zouaves and ordered them to transfer to the ship. He also put a call out for men who knew their way around a sailing vessel, a request easily fielded by companies recruited from the seacoast of Massachusetts.

So the soldiers made their preparations and breakfasted on whatever rations were left. And the Maryland came alongside the man of war.  And so E T stepped from one deck to another and became a marine for a time, serving on the historic and oldest vessel in the US Navy.

 

ET Storms Perryville

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After the regiment had gathered at the station at 11, it was still another four hours before the train set out. The fog of war was in full swing by the time they left.  Caution was the watchword, so they stopped frequently to collect intelligence.  But they encountered only rumors at every stop.  While in Philadelphia, Colonel Lefferts of the 7th NY had heard that the railroad ferryboat Maryland was seized and destroyed.  Butler had heard the same thing but didn’t give it credence.  And thousands were feared to be gathering in Perryville to oppose them.

Butler carried with him permission to seize the ferryboat if necessary, or destroy it if he deemed it more prudent.  Butler toured the cars and saw to it personally that the soldiers loaded their weapons.  He let it be known that they may very well suffer many casualties.  He encouraged letters be written home and left with the conductor to be forwarded.

At one point, Butler ordered the train to proceed at top speed (30 mph).  And soon after came the cry of “Man Overboard.”  One of the men had become so frightened that he leapt from the speeding train.  He had stripped off his coat and shirt, and fled only in his trousers and shoes.  Not wanting to delay after an attempt to retrieve him, Butler posted a reward, and pushed on.  By this, the men learned for the first time their destination – Annapolis, for it was there that the reward would be collected.

An half mile out of Perryville, they stopped and detrained.  The zouaves deployed first, the sappers and miners behind them, and Company K to provide cover. Captain Devereux ordered his men at the double quick not waiting for the rest of the regiment.

What crowd there was in the sleepy town dispersed  at the sight of the armed men.  There was no opposition as they stormed aboard the Maryland. Nothing was prepared for them, the ferryboat was out of fuel and water and had no engine crew.  The regiment pushed four coal cars aboard, added water to nearby empty whiskey barrels and fielded a crew of twenty from their members.  It took two hours to accomplish these tasks and to load their baggage.

By 6pm they were ready to depart, and cast off for Annapolis.  The boat’s captain and pilot were the only employees of the railroad aboard.  Neither of them seemed friendly or helpful. So their loyalty was suspect.

It was fine night for April, but soon got very dark.