A Tale of Two Howards, Part 1: Howard Affleck (Part A)

Have you ever had the feeling, while you’re reading history, that you’re watching one of those old horror movies, and you can see that monster hiding behind a tree before the character does, and you want to shout at him to “look out!” or even “get out while you still can!” But you can’t. Well, you can…but he’s not going to hear you.

Having learned the story’s end before I learned the beginning, that’s about how I felt reading these words written by 21-year-old Howard G. Affleck, a private in the 46th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on March 16, 1862:

Our boats all ran down to Pittsburgh this morning and landed at the foot of the high bluff, which here overlooks the river. Pittsburgh is seven or eight miles above Savannah. It is merely a landing, there being only one or two houses to show where the place ought to be…[1]

He’s not talking about Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He’s talking about Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, site of the famous Battle of Shiloh. Savannah also refers to a town in Tennessee. Both towns are located along the banks of the Tennessee River.

Affleck goes on:

…I took a stroll over the field where the ‘battle of Pittsburgh’ was fought on the 1st day of the present month. In this fight the crews of the gun-boats ‘Tyler’ and ‘Lexington’ were engaged with a much larger force of rebels. Our men from their boats forced them to retire; but were beaten back when they landed and attempted to follow them into the woods.[2]

This passage threw me for a loop at first, as I knew that “the” battle at Pittsburg Landing had yet to take place. What was he talking about? Apparently, there was a small skirmish at the landing on March 1, 1862, in which less than 30 people (total, both sides) were killed, wounded, or reported missing.[3] If only that had been the only battle at Pittsburgh Landing…

*****

I first learned about Howard Affleck while processing the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (at the Dayton Metro Library)[4], which includes letters between Mary (Howard) Affleck (Howard’s mother) and her sister Sarah (Howard) Forrer. Actually, both women had a son named Howard—which is not surprising, since as it was their maiden name and also a perfectly acceptable name for a man—but it could get confusing!

However, the above quotations come from the collection of the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society in Buffalo, New York, where Howard Affleck’s sister later lived.

*****

Howard Gladstone Affleck was born in 1840 in Bridgeport, Belmont County, Ohio, the elder son of Dr. John Affleck and his wife Mary Howard.

Howard was “a young man of great capacity and promise, having the advantage of the best education the country co’d give, particularly excelling in his Classics, Mathematics, and History.”[5]

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Howard enlisted on April 18, 1861, in the 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Company B), which was initially organized as a three-month service regiment organized at Columbus. The 15th Ohio saw very little action. He was mustered out of the 15th O.V.I. in August 1861.[6]

A few months later, Howard re-enlisted as a Private, signing up for three years service in the recently formed 46th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Company H, led by Mitchel C. Lilley), which was organized at Worthington and commanded by Colonel Thomas Worthington.[7]

For the first few months of its organization, the 46th Ohio did little of particular interest and appears to have basically remained in camps in Ohio and Kentucky. In February 1862, the 46th Ohio was ordered to Paducah to join Sherman’s Division, and in March, this Division headed to Tennessee to reinforce Grant, who had recently opened up the Tennessee River for Union troops through significant victories at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson.[8]

Early on the morning of March 7, the steamer B. J. Adams departed Paducah carrying the 46th Ohio and ultimately arrived at Pittsburg Landing on the morning of March 16. The various regiments of Sherman’s Division set up camp in the area, with the 46th Ohio’s camp being located near the far right, along the Hamburg-Purdy Road.[9]

The soldiers saw little excitement thenceforth until the morning of Sunday, April 6…


[1] Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 16 Mar. 1862, Howard G. Affleck Civil War Diary and Mary Affleck Letter Book (Mss. A64-275), Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society (Buffalo, New York).

[2] Ibid.

[3] James B. Jones, Jr., ed., Tennessee Civil War Sourcebook (Nashville: Tennessee Historical Commission, 2005), March 1862, http://www.artcirclelibrary.info/Reference/civilwar/1862-03.pdf: 1-6.

[4] Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio).

[5] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[6] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; “15th Ohio Infantry,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/15th_Ohio_Infantry.

[7] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; “46th Ohio Infantry,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/46th_Ohio_Infantry; Thomas Worthington, Brief History of the 46th Ohio Volunteers (Washington?: s. n., 1878?), 25, 29; Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IV (Akron: Werner Co., 1887), 378.

[8] James D. Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War: Shiloh, Sherman, and the Search for Vindication (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2001), 64; Worthington, Brief History of the 46th Ohio Volunteers, 4.

[9] Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War, 67-75; Worthington, Brief History of the 46th Ohio Volunteers, 5-18; Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 16 Mar. 1862.

5 responses to “A Tale of Two Howards, Part 1: Howard Affleck (Part A)

  1. Oooo, cliffhanger!

  2. History is filled with accounts of the veteran experience take, for example, The Civil War Veteran A Historical Reader, edited By Larry M.

  3. Pingback: A Tale of Two Howards, Part 6 – Howard Forrer (Part A) | Glancing Backwards

  4. Pingback: A Tale of Two Howards, Part 12 – Edward Affleck | Glancing Backwards

  5. Pingback: A Tale of Two Howards, Part 13 – Howard Forrer (Part E) – Final Installment | Glancing Backwards

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