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Battle of Dermbach, 4 July 1866

Battle of Dermbach, 4 July 1866

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Battle of Dermbach, 4 July 1866

The battle of Dermbach (4 July 1866) was a Prussian victory over a Bavarian army that prevented the Bavarians from joining up with their German allies (Austro-Prussian War, 1866). At the start of the war the Prussians were faced with three separate German forces - the Bavarian Army, the Hanoverian Army and the 8th Federal Corps. The Prussians allocated three divisions under General Falckenstein to this campaign, but he was still outnumbered by two-to-one. His biggest advantage was that his three opponents started the campaign widely spread out. The Hanoverians started at Göttingen. The 8th Corps was at Frankfurt and the Bavarians were at Bamberg.

The first fighting came in Hanover. The Hanoverian army made a half-hearted attempt to move south to join up with its allies, but despite winning the only significant battle of the campaign at Langensalza (27 June 1866), they were surrounded and forced to surrender on 29 June. This meant that the Bavarian and 8th Corps plan to unite at Hersfeld, south of Cassel, was no longer relevant. By this point the Federal troops were still close to Frankfurt and the Bavarians had reached Meiningen. The two commanders decided to meet up at Fulda, west of the Bavarians and north-east of the Federal position. The Bavarians were nearest to Fulda, but they would have to cross the Hohe-Rhön Mountains to get there.

On 2 July the Prussians began to move south, heading towards Fulda. On 3 July the Prussians advanced with Beyer's Division in the lead. Goeben's Division was to follow behind and to the left, with orders to clear out any Bavarian troops approaching from the east. Manteuffel's Division formed the rearguard.

The Bavarians were moving west in two columns. Three divisions moved west through the mountains, while Hartmann's Division was sent around the northern flank of the mountains, on a road that led north-west towards Dermbach then south-west towards Fulda. On 3 July Hartmann's advancing troops discovered that the Prussians had already occupied Dermbach in some strength. They also found Prussian troops further east, at Wiesenthal, but they retreated as the Bavarians advanced. By the end of the day the Bavarians had occupied Wiesenthal and also moved troops to Zella, south of Dermbach.

On 4 July General Goeben launched attacks on both Bavarian positions. General Ferdinand von Kummer was sent south to attack the troops at Zella, commanded by General Friedrich von Zoller. General Karl von Wrangel was sent east to attack the troops at Wiesenthal, commanded by General Hartmann in person.

In the south the Prussians attacked Zella from the north and the west, and soon forced the Bavarians out of the village. Soon after this they captured the village of Neidhartshausen, a little further to the north-east. The remaining Bavarians retreated further south to join Zoller's main force at Diedorf. The Bavarians attempted to recapture Zella, but without success.

In the east Wrangel's men forced the Bavarians out of Wiesenthal. The Bavarians took up a new position on a hill called the Nebelberg, west of the village of Rossdorf. Bavarian reinforcements under General Cella reached the battlefield, but the Bavarians were forced to retreat when two Prussian battalions, with a third in reserve, attacked the hill. Hartmann himself led in fresh Bavarians reinforcements, and almost managed to recapture the hill. Finally the Prussians committed fresh troops and the Bavarians were forced to retreat back to Rossdorf.

Goeben's job was to screen the march of the main army towards Fulda, and so in mid-afternoon he called all of his troops back to Dermbach. General Falckenstein decided to abandon the move on Fulda, and instead take what appeared to be a chance to attack the entire Bavarian Army. He called Beyer back from the Fulda Road, moved up his reserves, and prepared to attack. However by the time the Prussians were ready to move, the Bavarians had already decided to retreat. It was clear that the Prussians had advanced much further than expected, and there was no longer any chance of uniting at Fulda.

Further to the south-west Beyer's leading troops had clashed with the Bavarian Reserve Cavalry around Hunfeld. The Bavarians ended up retreating past Fulda, ending any chance of uniting the two German forces there. Both forces began to retreat south, allowing the Prussians to defeat them individually.

Prince Charles of Bavaria ordered his army to retreat south. He still hoped to join up with the 8th Corps south of the mountains, but as both armies moved south news reached them of the crushing Prussian victory at Königgrätz. With the Austrians almost certainly out of the war, the various contingents of the 8th Corps began to concentrate on defending their own homelands. The Bavarians suffered another defeat at Kissingen (10 July 1866), but continued to resist the Prussian advance.

Battle at Roßbrunn

Prussia Kingdom Major General Eduard Moritz von Flies ,
Major General von Korth ,
Colonel Thassilo Krug von Nidda

Kingdom of Bavaria Major General Jakob von Hartmann Major General Maximilian von Feder

101 dead 715 wounded 40 missing people

94 dead 632 wounded 192 missing

The battle near Roßbrunn was the last battle of the Main Campaign in the German War of 1866. It took place on July 26, 1866 near Roßbrunn , Uettingen and Hettstadt .


Initial situation

After his invasion of Frankfurt , the commander of the Prussian Main Army Vogel von Falckenstein was recalled and replaced by Edwin von Manteuffel . In addition, the army was reinforced to 60,000 men. After crossing the Odenwald , there were battles with Baden, Hessian and Württemberg units of the VIII Corps of the Federal Army at Hundheim , Werbach and Tauberbischofsheim until July 24th .

The 8th Federal Corps, consisting of four divisions under the command of Alexander von Hessen-Darmstadt, was divided into the following locations on the day of the battle:

  1. (Württemberg) division near Tauberbischofsheim,
  2. ( Baden ) division near Werbach ,
  3. (Grand Ducal Hessian) division at Großrinderfeld and
  4. (Austrian- Nassau ) division near Grünsfeld - Paimar .


During the actual battle on July 24, 1866 (three weeks after the decisive battle of Königgrätz ) in Tauberbischofsheim, the Prussian 13th Division under the command of General von Goeben and the Württemberg 1st Division under the command of Lieutenant General Oskar von Hardegg and Major General Eduard met von Kallee as Chief of the General Staff. The Prussians were able to push back the Württemberg people thanks to their superior firepower. The total losses on the part of the Prussians were put at 126, including 16 dead, those of the VIII Federal Corps at 709, including 62 dead.

After the battle, the 8th Bundeskorps was thrown back behind the Tauber and united with the Bavarian troops advancing from Würzburg . An armistice was agreed in Würzburg on July 30, 1866.

Ordre de Bataille of the VIII Federal Army Corps in a contemporary representation:

1st (Württ.) Division in the VIII Federal Army Corps 1866

2nd (bad.) Division in the VIII Federal Army Corps 1866

3rd (Hess.) Division in the VIII Federal Army Corps 1866

4th (combined) division in the VIII Federal Army Corps, 1866

Reserve cavalry and reserve artillery in the VIII Federal Army Corps, 1866

Ordre de Bataille of the Prussian Main Army in a contemporary representation:

13th Inf. Div. on July 27, 1866

13th Inf. Div. in the Prussian Main Army in 1866

Old.-Hans. Brig Weltzien in the 13th Inf. Div. of the Prussian Main Army 1866

Combined Div. Beyer in the Prussian Main Army in 1866

Combined Div. Flies in the Prussian Main Army 1866

Reasons for the Prussian victory [ edit | edit source ]

The Prussian victory is more the result of better organization than of the technical superiority of the Prussian weapons like the needle gun (Zündnadelgewehr). ⎟] Helmut von Moltke, the chief of the Prussian general staff, had planned an offensive war to beat the federal troops before they could unite and fully use their superiority in men and equipment. The plan was successful because the untrained federal armies needed a long time for mobilization which the Prussians had prepared well. Furthermore the Prussians had one unified command which the federal side had not. Formally Karl von Bayern, the commander of the VIIth corps, was supreme commander of all the federal troops, but Alexander von Hessen, the chief of the VIIIth corps, also received orders from the Federal Convention (Bundestag) in Frankfurt and the governments of the states which had sent troops. The communication between the federal troops was as insufficient as their reconnaissance so that they often had to react instead of acting initiatively. ⎠]

The Battles of Platte Bridge Station and Red Buttes

A pair of fights on July 26, 1865 in what’s now central Wyoming were two of the most significant battles of the Indian Wars of the northern Great Plains. They resulted in the loss of Lt. Caspar Collins and 27 other soldiers, along with lighter losses among the Cheyenne, Lakota Sioux and Arapaho warriors who attacked them.

The battles were a direct result of the famed Sand Creek Massacre hundreds of miles away in southeastern Colorado Territory the previous November, when Col. John Chivington and 700 troops attacked a peaceful Southern Cheyenne village led by Chief Black Kettle.

Black Kettle’s band had been awaiting peace negotiations with soldiers and government officials at nearby Fort Lyon. But the Colorado troops got there first, and killed about 135 people in the village, more than 100 of them children and women. In the following months, the “entire central plains exploded into war," wrote historian Richard White.

Many Southern Cheyenne bands began moving north across the plains of Colorado, gathering allies as they went among the Lakota and Arapaho. They attacked army posts and stage stations at Julesburg on the South Platte and Mud Springs on the North Platte. By winter they had reached the Powder and Tongue River basins in what’s now northeastern Wyoming—prime buffalo country. There, they linked up with Oglala Lakota and Northern Cheyenne bands.

By May, there was a huge camp of 10,000 or more people on Tongue River. Out of that energy and power, combined with continuing rage and grief over the losses at Sand Creek, the tribes decided it was time to attack the soldiers at Platte Bridge Station, an army post near present-day Casper, Wyo. guarding the westernmost Oregon Trail crossing of the North Platte River.

Platte Bridge Station was built in 1862 at the site of a trading post to house storage batteries that powered the Pacific Telegraph line and to warehouse supplies to repair the line. The duties of the soldiers stationed there included protecting and repairing the telegraph line.

Troops at Platte Bridge Station

At that time, the station housed three officers and 60 men from the 6th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. In the spring of 1865, it was changed from an occasional troop station to a permanent fort. By that time the post was manned by units of the 11th Ohio and 11th Kansas cavalry regiments. Col. Thomas Moonlight of the 11th Kansas, stationed at Fort Laramie, commanded Platte Bridge and other posts along the Oregon Trail. Because of his actions and attitudes, bitterness and animosity grew between the 11th Ohio and the 11th Kansas regiments.

On July 8th Capts. Henry Bretney (Ohio) and James Greer (Kansas) argued over who was in command at Platte Bridge. On the 9th orders arrived putting Greer in command of the post, and placing Maj. Martin Anderson (11th Kansas) in command of a district running 300 miles or more from Ft. Laramie to South Pass. Anderson’s headquarters would be Platte Bridge, about in the middle of the district. The argument and its outcome deepened the hostility between the two regiments.

Anderson arrived at Platte Bridge on July 16. He immediately ordered Bretney and all the Ohio regiment (except four men who knew how to operate the cannon) to the Sweetwater Station near Independence Rock, 55 miles to the west. The Ohioans left on the 21st accompanying Commissary Sgt. Amos Custard and wagons carrying rations and gear for the troops on the Sweetwater.

After Bretney and the Ohio troops were transferred to Sweetwater Station, Platte Bridge Station had men from companies of the 11th Kansas, 3rd U.S. Infantry, and a handful from the 11th Ohio. By the 26th, with the arrivals of small groups of troops on their way east and west, the total number at Platte Bridge Station was 119 men and officers.

The fight at Platte Bridge

At 2 a.m. on July 26, Capt. A. Smyth Lybe of the 3rd U.S. Infantry, Bretney and 10 men of the Ohio regiment arrived at Platte Bridge Station. They were on their way to Fort Laramie from Sweetwater Station to draw pay for their men.

Bretney immediately informed Anderson that Sgt. Custard and his small train of freight wagons, returning to Platte Bridge, were camped at Willow Springs, 25 miles west of Platte Bridge Station, where they had stopped for the night. Because hostile Indians were known to be in the area, Bretney urged Anderson to either send orders for Custard to come in or to send reinforcements. Anderson did neither.

Lt. Caspar Collins of the 11th Ohio had arrived at Platte Bridge from Fort Laramie the previous day, with a corporal and 10 men of the 11th Kansas. Collins was on his way to join his men at Sweetwater Station. Collins and Bretney had breakfast with Anderson early on the 26th.

During the meal Bretney volunteered to take 75 or 100 men and the howitzer and escort Custard to the station. Anderson said no. However, he did agree to send 20 men of the 11th Kansas Regiment.

The Kansas Regiment was due to be entirely mustered out of the Army in little more than a week, and no officer would volunteer to lead the rescue party. The general feeling was that the mission was suicidal. Collins volunteered to lead the party, however, if given more than 20 men.

The North Platte River curved around the west and north sides of the fort. At 7 a.m., Anderson ordered Collins to take 20 men, cross the bridge to the north side of the river, turn west and go to assist Custard. Even though sentries had spotted increasing numbers of warriors on the hills to the north, Collins was ordered to take his men on a route along the tops of those hills, bypassing the road in the river bottom. They would rejoin the road to the west, where it reached higher ground. Thus Collins and his men would remain in view of the station.

After Collins left, mounted on a borrowed, hard-to-manage horse, the troops at the fort saw more Indians west of the river. Anderson sent Bretney and Lybe with 20 men to guard the rear of the Collins party and to prevent the Indians from cutting off retreat to the bridge.

When he reached the top of the hills, Collins spied two Indians cutting the telegraph line and ordered his men to attack. As soon as they began following these Indians, 400 Cheyenne warriors came rushing out of ravines near the river.

Collins wheeled his men to meet the approaching Cheyenne. Because of the hills, Collins could not see the main body of Cheyenne, Arapaho and Lakota approaching from other directions. His group was soon surrounded. The soldiers tried to fight their way through to the bridge. When one soldier's horse was shot from under him, he called out for help.

Collins returned to help the man. According to historian John McDermott, Lakota warriors had recognized Collins as a friend and let him pass, but the Cheyenne did not know him and shot him with arrows. His horse bolted and ran. Collins finally fell from the saddle at the top of the bluff.

George Bent, the Platte Bridge fight and the attack on the wagon train

George Bent, a son of longtime trader William Bent of Bent’s Fort on the Arkansas River and Owl Woman, a Southern Cheyenne, was living with his Cheyenne relatives during this time. In a series of letters he wrote 40 years later to historian George Hyde, Bent recounted events from before Sand Creek to the fights at Platte Bridge and beyond.

Bent was an eyewitness to the battle from the Indians’ side. According to his account, at about 9 a.m., cavalry crossed Platte Bridge and turned west. A smaller group of Indians was waiting in ambush, and once the fight started, the main party of Indians came over the hill some 2,000 strong and attacked the soldiers from the flanks.

"As we went into the troops,” Bent wrote, “I saw [Collins] on a big bay horse rush past me through the dense clouds of dust and smoke. His horse was running away with him and broke right through the Indians. The Lieutenant had an arrow sticking in his forehead and his face was streaming with blood.” He estimated only four or five soldiers escaped alive and said the road was littered with the bodies of dead soldiers and horses.

Besides Collins, four other soldiers of the 11th Kansas were killed in the fight. A fifth was killed after the battle when he attempted to repair the telegraph line, according to McDermott.

Meanwhile, Custard and his wagons had left Willow Springs early on the 26th heading for Platte Bridge Station. About 11 a.m., when the party came over a hill five miles from the station, they were sighted by men there as well as by the Indians. The Indians attacked the wagons.

During the first skirmish, five men became separated from the rest of the party: Cpl. James Shrader and privates Henry Smith, Byron Swain, Edwin Summers and James Ballau. Shrader ordered these men to head for the river, down the hill to their right. Ballau made it across, but was shot when he reached the opposite side of the river. His body was never recovered. Summers was chased south toward Casper Mountain and killed. His body was later recovered. A party of 20 men from the station finally rescued Shrader, Smith and Swain.

Custard's men corralled the wagons and piled cargo underneath them to form a breastwork of sorts. They held off the Indians until about 4 p.m., at which time the men in the station saw smoke rising from burning wagons.

"When the Indians I was with came up,” George Bent later recalled, “the soldiers were already fighting a large body of warriors. . . . Some men were in the [rifle] pits, others behind the barricade under the wagons, and a few sharpshooters were in the wagons, firing through holes cut in the canvas tops."

According to Bent, the Indians’ usual custom was to take no prisoners. He counted 22 dead soldiers. Eight warriors were killed and many more wounded. One unnamed newspaper version of this battle reported that the unarmed soldiers were massacred by the Indians, who tied some of the men to wagon wheels and burned them alive.

Bent called the report "nonsense.” He wrote, “The Plains Indians never tortured prisoners, they never took men prisoners but shot them at once, during the fighting. As to the soldiers being without arms, they were very well armed and put up a hard fight. They stood off a thousand warriors for at least half an hour. Lieutenant Collins and his men, on the other hand, were killed in a few minutes with practically no loss to the Indians."

McDermott stated 21 soldiers were buried on the wagon train battleground, "seven in one grave, thirteen in another, and one in a solitary grave by the river."

Already before the fights at Platte Bridge, plans were underway for a three-pronged, punitive expedition of 2,500 troops into the Powder River country to the north. Gen. Patrick Connor and 1,400 troops managed to destroy an Arapaho village on Tongue River in late August, but the other two columns met with disaster and near starvation.

After a hard winter, some of the tribes were nevertheless ready to make peace the following spring. Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne representatives came to Fort Laramie to negotiate, but while they were there Col. Henry B. Carrington arrived on a mission to build forts on Bozeman Trail, which led from the North Platte through Indian territory to Montana, along the east side of the Bighorn Mountains. The Indians left in disgust.

Carrington’s troops built the forts, and white travelers on the trail came under steady attack in what came to be called Red Cloud’s war, for the Oglala Lakota war leader. The Army eventually abandoned the forts, and something like peace held sway for a few years until gold was discovered in the Black Hills of Dakota Territory.

Tensions rose again, Lt. Col. George Custer’s command was rubbed out on the Little Bighorn in Montana Territory in 1876, and finally the tribes came in to reservations in the spring of 1877. Major hostilities flared up one last time on Wounded Knee Creek in Dakota Territory in December 1890, when troops of the Seventh Cavalry killed hundreds of Lakota men, women and children in the last battle of the Indian Wars.

Throughout these decades of warfare with the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota Sioux, it is the stories of these small outposts, such as Platte Bridge Station, that are key to understanding what McDermott calls "the pervasiveness and terror of racial conflict" lessons that are still important today.

Searching for the battle site

Since at least 1927, when Casper history buff and Midwest Oil Company General Manager Robert Ellison brought two Kansas survivors of the 1865 fights to Casper to help pinpoint the burial sites of the soldiers, people have been looking intermittently for the graves of Sgt. Custard and his command.

Around that time, the fight at the Custard wagon train came to be called, misleadingly, the Battle of Red Buttes, named for the famous Oregon Trail landmark about 10 miles west of the fort, and out of sight of the fort and the battle site.

In recent years, efforts have been led by Fort Caspar Museum Director Rick Young, chairman of the Natrona County Historic Preservation Commission, with the help of local volunteers and archeologists from the office of the Wyoming State Archeologist. They have searched with metal detectors, magnetometers and cadaver dogs. Their results are so far inconclusive.

Various sources differ in the location of the battle, ranging from three and a half to five miles west of present day Fort Caspar. This is a large area to cover on foot looking for the three unmarked graves McDermott mentions. The sites are on private land west of Casper with development beginning to push into the area. Young hopes to locate the site and to be able to preserve it.

Aftermath [ edit ]

After further clashes the next two days at Gerchsheim, Uettingen, Helmstadt and Roßbrunn, which endet in favor of the Prussians, the federal troops withdrew to Würzburg where a truce ended the fightings. The Prussians occupied northern Württemberg and negotiated a peace in August 1866. Württemberg paid an indemnity of 8,000,000 gulden, and concluded a secret offensive and defensive treaty with her conqueror.

Although not officially part of the North German Confederation, the secret treaty effectively bound Württemberg to Prussia. Few years later, in 1870, Württemberger troops played a creditable part in the Battle of Wörth and in other operations of the Franco-Prussian War. In 1871, Württemberg became a member of the new German Empire.

Memorials [ edit ]

Monument to the Wurttemberg Fallen

Monument to the Wurttemberg Fallen

“An Absolute Massacre” – The New Orleans Slaughter of July 30, 1866

Political Cartoonist Thomas Nast drew this political cartoon, "The Massacre at New Orleans," criticizing President Andrew Johnson for his role in permitting the violence to unfold in New Orleans on July 30, 166

The Confederate military and government collapsed in the Spring and Summer of 1865, effectively ending the Civil War with the United States preserved and slavery destroyed. But the violence was far from over. White resistance to Black citizenship during Reconstruction often turned violent – as it did in New Orleans on July 30, 1866.

During the war, President Abraham Lincoln had hoped that Louisiana, with a strong US military presence in Louisiana would serve as the model for readmitting states back to the United States. In 1864, the state ratified a new constitution that abolished slavery, but did not grant Black Louisianans the right to vote – something that President Lincoln began to consider as the war ended the next year. In his last speech, delivered on April 11, 1865, Lincoln openly expressed his desire to enfranchise select freed people and emphasized that “…voters in the heretofore slave-state of Louisiana have sworn allegiance to the Union… held elections, organized a State government, adopted a free-state constitution, giving the benefit of public schools equally to black and white, and empowering the Legislature to confer the elective franchise upon the colored man. Their Legislature has already voted to ratify the constitutional (Thirteenth) amendment recently passed by Congress, abolishing slavery throughout the nation.” 1 In the crowd was John Wilkes Booth. Incensed at the thought of Black citizenship and voting, Booth assassinated President Lincoln a few days later. The violence did not stop at Ford’s Theatre.

The Memphis Riots in Tennessee took place a few months before the New Orleans Massacre in July 1866.

Tennessee State Library and Archives

Within a year of Lincoln’s death, many Southern states – with former Confederates in power and backed by President Andrew Johnson, began to enact Black Codes to stifle Black political life. Tensions rose throughout the South. The first three days of May 1866 were marked with racial violence in Memphis, Tennessee when local police officers, supported by a white mob, clashed with recently discharged African American troops and in turn attacked the Black population of the city, ultimately killing 46 men, women, and children and burning 89 homes, as well as twelve Black churches. 2

A little over a week following the Memphis Massacre, tensions continued to rise in New Orleans as the city’s former Mayor, and Confederate sympathizer, John T. Monroe entered the office he had been expelled from just four years prior. Monroe’s return to power embodied the ideals which Radical Republicans had long despised, and thus decided that action needed to be taken. This effort came in the form of reconvening the 1864 Constitutional Convention, with the goal of extending suffrage toward freedmen, eliminating Black Codes, and pursuing the disenfranchisement of ex-Confederates. Louisiana Supreme Court Judge R.K. Howell was to preside over the reconvened convention and declared the date of gathering to be July 30. 3 Mayor Monroe declared the meeting an “unlawful assemblage,” and reached out to General Absalom Baird for Federal support in arresting the convention delegates. Baird, however, maintained that the purpose of his command was “the maintenance of perfect order and the suppression of violence.”

Harry T. Hays had served as a General in the Confederate Army. But in the Summer of 1866, he was the Sheriff of New Orleans, and deputized a posse of ex-Confederates to confront a citizen's convention in the city.

Friction between the Radical Republicans and Conservative Democrats only heightened as convention delegates held a political rally in the city on July 27, and New Orleans Sheriff Harry T. Hays, a former Confederate General, deputized a posse of white officers, many of whom were ex-Confederates, with the purpose of disrupting the coming gathering. The reconvened convention met as planned at 12:00pm on July 30 at the New Orleans Mechanics Institute, with 25 delegates who filed into the building. A growing crowd of opposition waited outside, while approximately 200 unarmed freedmen, mostly veterans, approached the Institute in parade form to display their support. As the Black assembly neared their destination, several bystanders harassed and assaulted them, which ignited several isolated scuffles.

The situation quickly escalated as Sheriff Hays and his recently deputized police force arrived on the scene and began to fire into the crowd, forcing many of the freedmen to seek shelter in the Mechanics Institute, while others were wantonly massacred in the street. General Baird, whose troops had not become involved in the affair, wired to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton that afternoon, “Immediately after this riot assumed a serious character, the police, aided by the citizens, became the assailants, and from the evidence I am forced to believe, exercised great brutality in making their arrests. Finally, they attacked the Convention hall and a protracted struggle ensued. The people inside the hall gave up some who surrendered, and were attacked afterward and brutally treated.” The swelling mob fired into the Institute with the intent to kill, and they infiltrated the meeting hall several times during the altercation to pull the inhabitants outside. Many of those who tried to surrender were struck down or shot. When reporting his findings to Ulysses S. Grant at the War Department, General Phil Sheridan noted that the peaceful delegates and supporters were attacked “with fire-arms, clubs, and knives, in a manner so unnecessary and atrocious as to compel me to say that it was murder… It was no riot. It was an absolute massacre by the police, which was not excelled in murderous cruelty by that of Fort Pillow. It was a murder which the Mayor and police of the city perpetrated without the shadow of a necessity.” 4

This image from Harpers Weekly depicts Confederate veterans opening fire on the crowd in New Orleans. The placement of the US flag in the drawing served as a reminder to readers that some former Confederates had not yet accepted the outcome of the war.

In a matter of approximately two hours, 34 African American supporters were killed, while the wounded numbered 119. Three of the delegates who had assembled in the Mechanics Institute were killed, while 17 were wounded, and approximately 200 others arrested. When the streets around the Mechanics Institute fell quiet, General Baird ordered martial law, which remained in effect into early August. On August 1, the Cleveland Daily Leader published sentiments that were shared by many other papers across the North: “Remember that this work was done by the constituted authorities of the city of New Orleans, rebels in record and in heart, but placed in power over loyal men by the policy of a renegade President. Remember that these scenes are but a prelude of what is to be… if Mr. Johnson’s policy shall be carried out.” 5

Paired with news of the tragedy that occurred in Memphis months before, the New Orleans massacre contributed to major changes in Reconstruction policy. The 1866 elections saw to it that a Radical Republican majority ruled in both the House of Representatives and Senate, and ultimately contributed to the passing of the 14th and 15th Amendments. It could even be said that the violence which transpired on July 30, 1866, in a twist of irony, gave rise to several policies that would be enacted in following years, including Federal military presence in the South, temporary disenfranchisement of former Confederates, and for a population of more than four million freed people - the right to vote.

1 Lincoln, Abraham, and Scott Yenor. “Document 5: Last Public Address.” Reconstruction: Core Documents, Ashbrook Center, Ashland University, 2018, pp. 13–17.

2 O'Donovan, Susan, and Beverly Bond. “‘A History They Can Use’: The Memphis Massacre and Reconstruction's Public History Terrain.” The Journal of the Civil War Era, 10 Jan. 2018,

3 Reynolds, Donald E. “The New Orleans Riot of 1866, Reconsidered.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, vol. 5, no. 1, 1964, pp. 5–27. JSTOR, Accessed 30 July 2020.

4 The New-Orleans Riot. Its Official History. New York Tribune, 1866.

5 The Louisiana Convention. Cleveland Daily Leader, 1 August, 1866, p. 1.

by Park Ranger Rich Condon, Reconstruction Era National Historical Park

Final Operations

The convergence of the Prussian armies on the battlefield ended in the greatest confusion. The Elbe army had crossed the front of the I. army, and the II. army was mixed up with both. The reserve cavalry reached the front too late in the day to pursue. Thus the Austrians gained 24 hours, and the direction of XXIV. 23 a their retreat was not established with any degree of certainty for several days. Moreover the little fortresses of Josephstadt and Koniggratz both refused to capitulate, and the whole Prussian armies were thus compelled to move down the Elbe to Pardubitz before they could receive any definite new direction.

Meanwhile Benedek had in fact assigned only one corps with the reserve cavalry to oppose a Prussian advance towards Vienna, and the remaining seven retired to Olmiitz, where they were on the flank of a Prussian advance on Vienna, and had all the resources of Hungary behind them to enable them to recuperate. They were also still in railway communication with the capital. On purely military grounds the Prussians should have marched at once towards the Austrian field army, i.e. to Olmiitz.. But for political reasons Vienna was the more important objective, and therefore the I. and Elbe armies were directed towards the capital, whilst the II. army only moved in the direction of the Austrian main body. Political motives had, however, in the meantime exercised a similar influence on the Austrian strategy. The emperor had already consented to cede Venetia to Italy, had recalled two corps from the south (see Italian Wars, 1848-1870) to, the capital, and had appointed the archduke Albert to command the whole army. The Army of the North, which had reached Olmutz on the 10th of July, now received orders to move by road and rail towards Vienna, and this operation brought them right across the front of the II. Prussian army. The cavalry established contact on the 15th in the neighbourhood of Tobitschau and Rochetinitz (action of Tobitschau, July 15th), and the Austrians finding their intention discovered, and their men too demoralized by fear of the breechloader to risk a fresh battle, withdrew their troops and endeavoured to carry out their concentration by a wide circuit down the valley of the Waag and through Pressburg. Meanwhile the Prussian main army was pursuing its advance under very adverse circumstances. Their railway communication ended abruptly at the Austrian frontier the roads were few and bad, the country sparsely cultivated and inhospitable, and the troops suffered severely. One third of the cavalry broke down on a march of 97 m. in five days, and the infantry, after marching 112 m. in ten days, had to have a two days' halt accorded them on the 17th. They were then in the district about Briinn and Iglau, and on the 18th the royal headquarters reached Nikolsburg. News had now been received of the arrival of Austrian reinforcements by rail at the capital both from Hungary and Italy, and of the preparation of a strong line of provisional defences along the Florisdorf position directly in front of Vienna. Orders were therefore issued during the 18th for the whole army to concentrate during the following days in the position held by the Austrians around Wagram in 1809, and these orders were in process of execution when on the 21st an armistice was agreed upon to commence at noon on the 22nd. The last fight was that of Blumenau near Pressburg on the 22nd this was broken off at the stated time.

After he was educated in the Cadet Corps , Riistow came in 1843 as an officer in the 32nd Infantry Regiment in Erfurt . In 1849 he was sent to Suhl to supervise Prussian rifle production , where on October 9, 1851 he married Emilie Frederike Johanna Spangenberg, the daughter of a gun dealer from Suhl. With her he had two sons and a daughter. However, his wife died of tuberculosis on June 30, 1859 at the age of only 28 , so that the children grew up with their grandmother.

During the inspections, Riistow dealt more and more with rifle technology, which has undergone several revolutionary technical innovations in these decades. In addition to the needle rifle , with which the rate of fire was significantly increased, the Minié rifle was developed , favored by Rüstow. During the Crimean War , the Prussians changed 300,000 muzzle-loaders according to Minié's system within 18 months . He became chairman of the Royal Prussian Rifle Acceptance Commission in Suhl.

During the peak of the economy of the Minié rifle, Rüstow quickly advanced to become a profound expert on this system. He put his findings down in 1855 in the publication Das Miniégewehr . Riistow became a teacher at the Prussian division school, later a teacher at the war school in Erfurt . In 1857 another treatise on the Minié rifle with the title Retrospectives on Prussia's rifle modification according to the Minié system was published without mentioning his name . His main work, however, was Die Kriegfeuerwaffen , which also appeared in two volumes in 1857. The first volume dealt with the structure of the weapons and has even been officially translated into Russian . The second volume dealt with the individual types of weapons and their properties, which differ according to the war purpose.

In 1862 Caesar Riistow was a general staff officer in the 1st Division in Königsberg . Four years later he was promoted to major in the 15th Infantry Regiment . With this he took in the division " Goeben on" campaign part of the Main Army. When he was leading his battalion in the battle of Dermbach , a Bavarian bullet hit him in the abdomen on July 4, 1866. At the first aid station, a second in the back of his head put an immediate end to his life. Caesar Rustow was buried together with a fallen Bavarian general in Geisa in the Rhön. His grave monument is now in the Geisa cemetery.

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Rüstow, Friedrich Wilhelm

RÜSTOW, FRIEDRICH WILHELM (1821–1878), Swiss soldier and military writer, was a Prussian by birth. He entered the service of his native country, and served for some years, until the publication of Der Deutsche Militärstaat vor und während der Revolution (Zürich, 1850) brought him official condemnation. He was sentenced by a court-martial to a long term of fortress imprisonment, but succeeded in escaping to Switzerland. He obtained military employment in the service of the Republic, and in 1857 was major on the engineer staff. Three years later he accompanied Garibaldi in the famous expedition against the two Sicilies as colonel and chief of the staff, and to him must be ascribed the victories of Capua (19th Sept. 1860) and the Volturno (1st Oct. 1860). At the end of the campaign he once more settled down at Zürich. At the outbreak of the war of 1870 he offered his services to Prussia, but was not accepted. In 1878, on the foundation of a military professorship at Zurich, Rüstow applied for the post, and, on its being given to another officer, lost heart and committed suicide.

Two younger brothers, both Prussian soldiers, were also distinguished men. The elder, Alexander (1824–1866), is remembered for his work Der Kustenkrieg (Berlin, 1848) the younger, Caesar (1826–1866), was one of the foremost experts of his time in the design and construction of military rifles, and the writer of several treatises on that subject, of which we may mention Die Kriegshandfeuerwaffen (Berlin, 1857–64). Both Alexander and Caesar fell on the field of battle in the war of 1866, at Königgratz and Dermbach respectively.

Amongst F. W. Rüstow's works, which covered nearly eve? branch of the military art, a large number must be mentioned. Historical—Heerwesen und Kriegführung Julius Cäsars (Gotha, 1855 2nd ed., Nordhausen, 1862), Kommentar zu Napoleon III.'s Geschichte Julius Cäsars (Stuttgart, 1865–67), Geschichte des Griechischen Kriegswesens (in collaboration with Köchly, Aarau, 1852), Militär. Biographen (David, Xenophon, Montluc) (Zürich, 1858), Geschichte der Infanterie (Gotha, 1857–58 3rd ed., 1884), Die Ersten Feldzüge Napoleons 1796–1797 (Zürich, 1867), Der Krieg von 1805 in Deutschland und Italien (Frauenfeld, 1854), Geschichte des Ungarischen Insurrektionkrieges 1848–49 (Zürich, 1860), reminiscences of 1860 in Italy (Leipzig, 1861) and monographs on the campaigns of 1848–49 in Italy (Zürich, 1849) and the (Crimean War (Zürich, 1855–56). Critical and General—Allgemeine Taktik (Zürich, 1858 2nd ed., 1868), Kriegspolitik und Kriegsgebrauch (Zürich, 1876), Militär-Handwörterbuch (Zürich, 1859), Die Feldherrnkunst des XIX Jahrhunderts (Zürich, 1857 3rd ed., 1878–79), Der Krieg und seine Mittel (Leipzig, 1856). He also wrote Annalen des Königreichs Italien (Zürich, 1862–63).

See Zemim, “ F. W. Rüstow," in Unsere Zeit. vol. 2 (Leipzig, 1882).

Watch the video: Battle of Königgrätz 1866 Reenactment. (August 2022).