Colonel Don Pardee of the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Part II

Now firmly entrenched, the 7th Division commanded the main entry point into Kentucky. They were well fortified but lacked the provisions for a long stay. Lieutenant Colonel Pardee was ordered to take five companies of his regiment and two pieces of artillery to the town of Tazewell, Tennessee where hundreds of bushels of corn were supposedly being stored. When they reached the outskirts of the town, Pardee split his force in half, leaving 200 men to defend the road leading back to Cumberland Gap. Within a short time Confederate soldiers appeared in the area. Pardee deployed his small force as skirmishers, spreading them in a line a mile long. The advancing Rebels noticed the large amount of skirmishers and believed they had stumbled on General Morgan’s main army. They fell back in a hurry, reporting the 7th Division was close by. Pardee called back his skirmishers and moved them to the woods behind the road. He had the soldiers march in a circle to fool the Confederates into thinking a large army was on the march. Gaps in the forest gave the illusion of a continuous line of men marching to the front. Several regiments of Rebels were ordered forward, but once again retreated, believing they were heavily outnumbered. Pardee had succeeded in buying time for his remaining troops to gather wagonloads of corn and flour and head back to Cumberland Gap.

At this point the Confederates began a major attack on the Union position. Pardee had his two cannon partially hidden in a sunken road. Both guns were loaded with double shots of canister. The Confederates advanced in a long line, companies marching shoulder to shoulder. When they were at point blank range the Union gunners fired, decimating the first wave of attackers. The lines broke in confusion, allowing the artillery to be pulled back and hitched to the horses. The 42nd reached the road back to camp and hurried along to safety. For the better part of a day, Pardee had held back a much larger enemy force. He brought back wagonloads of provisions to feed General Morgan’s army for several weeks. His actions showed great skill and leadership. He would receive personal thanks from General Morgan for his efforts.

Lt. Col. Don Pardee ably led the 42nd Ohio at the battle of Tazewell, Tennessee. His creative tactics led Confederate troops to believe they were facing a much larger force. Pardee’s mission at Tazewell was to secure provisions for Union troops, and he was successful. (www.mkwe.com)

The Union Army’s position at Cumberland Gap proved to be tenuous. The Confederates began a siege that stopped any further attempts at foraging. In October, the 7th Division abandoned their position and marched 200 miles north to Ohio. The 42nd received new uniforms, supplies, and six months’ back pay. The enjoyed a few weeks of rest until orders arrived to join General Grant and his army set to invade Mississippi. The main objective would be the city of Vicksburg.

The first action began in late December at Chickasaw Bluffs. This area was north of Vicksburg, a good staging point for an assault on the vital Confederate city. Pardee and the 42nd were now part of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Army of the Mississippi. General Sherman had command of the army and quickly formed plans for the attack. To assault Chickasaw Bluffs meant wading through a deep bayou with swamp on either side, crossing an open plain, then climbing hills to reach the Confederate position. The commander of the Southern troops was General John Pemberton. He had entrenchments built to shield his soldiers and placed artillery at the peak of the hills. Any Union attack on his position would result in heavy casualties. Despite the difficulty, General Sherman ordered the advance. Lieutenant Colonel Pardee led his men forward, dashing through the bayou and heading into the open area. The Confederates blazed away at the enemy and Pardee was wounded when a musket ball struck him in the boot. He continued to lead, urging his boys forward. The battle raged on, with Union casualties mounting by the hour. One by one the regiments broke, and ran for the rear. Only the 42nd held their ranks, falling back in good order. Lieutenant Colonel Pardee shouted out orders for his troops to fall in line, about face and march to the rear as if they were drilling on parade grounds. The assault would go on for another four days until General Sherman realized the bluffs could not be taken.

After spending nearly a week in the swamps and bayous, Pardee developed a high fever along with dysentery. He was confined to the field hospital while the 42nd readied for an assault on Fort Hindman. Despite the serious illness, Pardee rose from his bed, dressed and mounted his horse “Charley” to lead the attack. Within a short time he fainted and had to be carried off his horse and back to the hospital. He would remain ill for several months, but insisted on leading his regiment into battle.

Chickasaw Bluffs at Vicksburg (Library of Congress)

Pardee’s 42nd Ohio performed well under heavy fire from Confederate batteries and infantry at Chickasaw Bluffs near Vicksburg.  The assualt on Chickasaw Bluffs lasted several days until Union commanders finally realized the attacks were futile.  (Library of Congress)

The battle for Vicksburg continued throughout the spring of 1863. The 42nd fought at Thompson’s Hill, Port Gibson, and The Black River Bridge and eventually took part in the siege of the city. Lieutenant Colonel Pardee led his regiment on the field for most of the campaign. Though still suffering from camp fever, he managed to participate in the majority of the fighting. On July 4, 1863 General Pemberton surrendered his army to General Grant. The Union now had control of the entire Mississippi River, an essential piece the Confederacy could not afford to lose.

Within a month the 42nd was transferred to Carrollton, Louisiana, roughly four miles above New Orleans. Lieutenant Colonel Pardee was appointed Provost Marshal General of the Gulf Department. He used his legal background to administer the law to the Union military population. Any infractions of military rules came under his jurisdiction including criminal investigations and desertion. Pardee served his new position for one year, then re-joined the 42nd in time to muster out of service in November of 1864. He would be brevetted to Colonel and then Brigadier General in March of 1865.

The time spent in Carrollton made a great impression on Pardee. After the war ended he returned there to set up a law practice. It must have been quite interesting for the northern Yankee to do legal work for the Confederates he fought against. At the very least they surely had some great stories to tell. In 1868 Pardee was elected Judge of the Second Judicial District of Louisiana and served in that position for twelve years. In 1879 he ran an unsuccessful campaign for state Attorney General. The 1880 Presidential election was won by James A. Garfield, a close friend and former commander. Within months the new President appointed Judge Pardee to the United States Circuit Court for the Fifth Circuit. It was a job that Pardee would never give up. He served until his death on September 26, 1919. He was eighty-two years old.

The final resting place of Don Albert Pardee in Woodlaw Cemetery in Wadsworth (Medina County), Ohio.  (www.findagrave.com)

The final resting place of Don Albert Pardee in Woodlaw Cemetery in Wadsworth (Medina County), Ohio. (www.findagrave.com)

During the summer months, Pardee would return home to Wadsworth to visit old friends and relatives. He would be seen riding the city streets on a white horse. This imposing man would look straight ahead while he rode, looking every inch the soldier that he was.

-Scott Longert, Park Guide

Colonel Don Pardee of the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Part I

On May 1, 1863 the Union campaign to seize the city of Vicksburg was fully underway. General Ulysses S. Grant ordered an attack at Port Gibson well south of his intended target. The goal was to secure the port, land troops, and advance north to Vicksburg. The 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry was in the thick of the fight. Lieutenant Colonel Don Pardee was in command of the regiment, leading his troops on several assaults on the Confederate defenses. There came a lull in the fighting where Colonel Pardee stopped to discuss his options with another Union commander. While the two spoke, a Confederate musket ball streaked inches between them. The Union commander flinched, then awkwardly backed away. Pardee never moved. He had no fear on the battlefield, a quality that many of his fellow officers did not possess.

Don Albert Pardee was born March 29, 1837 in Wadsworth, Ohio. In 1824 his father, Aaron, traveled from Connecticut to Ohio to clear land his family had purchased. He eventually built a large working farm that became quite successful as the years passed. Aaron studied law and developed a large practice that gave him enough influence to secure fifteen-year-old Don an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. As a midshipman Pardee excelled in his studies, rising to second in his class. Among the midshipman was George Dewey, who would later command the ships that fought against Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Don Pardee started his miltary career in the U.S. Navy.  In 1861 he received an officer's commission in the 44th Ohio, but was soon transferred to the 42nd at the insistence of Col. James A. Garfield.  (Ohio Historical Society)

Don Pardee started his miltary career in the U.S. Navy. In 1861 he received an officer’s commission in the 44th Ohio, but was soon transferred to the 42nd at the insistence of Col. James A. Garfield. (Ohio Historical Society)

Pardee became proficient in mathematics, artillery, and infantry. He had two tours of duty on the Preble, a sloop of war that sailed the eastern coast of the United States. Don was on his way to a promising naval career when his father summoned him home to help with the law practice. In 1859, after two years of study he began a practice in Medina County, Ohio. Just before the beginning of the Civil War, Pardee married Julia Hard, a local girl from Wadsworth. The bride and groom knew each other well when they were classmates at the Wadsworth district school.

In April 1861 the Civil War began. Pardee did not initially enlist due to Julia being in poor health. The Union Navy offered to reinstate him with his class but Don stayed home to care for his wife. A combination of the Southern victory at Bull Run and Julia recovering from her illness prompted the former midshipman to accept a commission as Major of the 44th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). After reporting to Camp Chase, Pardee became sought after by Colonel James A. Garfield, commander of the 42nd OVI. Garfield needed an officer with a strong military background and arranged for Pardee’s transfer to the 42nd. Pardee reported for duty and helped turn raw recruits into soldiers. One would later remark that the Major was strict in his discipline, often barking orders that made the boys jump. Frank Mason, who wrote the regimental history of the 42nd said, “His military education had made him an iron disciplinarian, but behind and with that was the strength and readiness in emergencies, that tenacity and power of command, which wins from soldiers a respect which no lighter attributes can inspire.”

In the fall of 1861, Pardee heard a ruckus on the campgrounds. He ordered a corporal from the 42nd and a detail of three privates to take care of the disturbance and arrest anyone if necessary. The guards reported back to the Major, advising there was a company of new recruits that had been out drinking. The rowdy soldiers waved their muskets at the small detail causing them to flee the scene. Pardee took the detail back to the drunken mob and showed his physical strength by disarming a number of the revelers. The new recruits suddenly became quiet. Major Pardee then ordered his detail to disarm the rest and march them to the guardhouse. All in a day’s work.

Major (later Lt. Col.) Don Pardee turned the green recruits of the 42nd Ohio into soldiers using methods and discipline he first encountered as a Naval Academy cadet and U.S. Navy officer.  (Hiram College Archives)

Major (later Lt. Col.) Don Pardee turned the green recruits of the 42nd Ohio into soldiers using methods and discipline he first encountered as a Naval Academy midshipman and U.S. Navy officer. (Hiram College Archives)

The 42nd OVI received orders to advance to northern Kentucky and set up a base in Catlettsburg. Confederates under the command of Brigadier General Humphrey Marshall had already established camp in the southern part of the state. Rumors had a detachment of Rebels occupying the town of Louisa, just south of the Union position. Colonel Garfield ordered Pardee to select forty men and attack the Confederates to determine their strength. The Major moved swiftly, finding Confederate Cavalry and sending them scattering back to the main camp in Prestonsburg. The 42nd OVI, 40th OVI, and two Kentucky regiments occupied Louisa and set up headquarters there.

With Louisa secure, Colonel Garfield quickly planned an assault of the Rebel position. He moved his brigade directly south to Paintsville where he engaged Confederate General Marshall. Garfield aggressively attacked at three separate positions causing the Confederates to retreat further south beyond Middle Creek. The Union brigade pursued, finding Marshall’s men in the hills just beyond Middle Creek. In early January1862, Major Pardee led the assault, climbing the hills to dislodge the well-entrenched Confederates. The fighting raged throughout the day until darkness forced Pardee to lead his men back down the hills.

During the night Marshall decided to burn his supplies and retreat further south into Virginia. A harsh winter delayed any further advance of the Union army. In March, Pardee led 500 men on a surprise assault at Pound Gap near the Virginia border. The Confederates were caught eating breakfast and fled the field, abandoning any hopes of occupying eastern Kentucky. Pardee received a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.

Several months later the 42nd was attached to the 7th Division under General George Morgan for the Cumberland Gap Campaign. Pardee led a small force on a night raid to clear Rogers Gap from where the major assault would be launched. The maneuver went as planned, allowing the division to form lines for the attack. The Confederates pulled back, abandoning Cumberland Gap and moving south into Tennessee.

(Check back soon for Part II!)

-Scott Longert, Park Guide

The “Fine Times” of James A. Garfield’s Education, Part II

To obtain an actual degree, Garfield’s first inclination was to attend Bethany College because of its affiliation with the Disciples of Christ. However, in the spirit of opening up his mind to new ideas he settled on Williams College in Massachusetts and moved there with his Hiram friend and former teacher Charles Wilber in the summer of 1854. Williams was nonsectarian but still strongly religious, like the Eclectic. But unlike Hiram, religious sentiment was more Calvinist, and the New England atmosphere seemed exotic compared to Garfield’s rustic life in Ohio. Despite his cultural differences, though, he eventually won the acceptance of his New England classmates, who gave him the nickname “Gar”. His education at the Eclectic qualified him as a junior at Williams and he once again buried himself in his studies.

It was there, at Williams, that Garfield finally found an appropriate academic niche for his abilities: he performed well and would receive some accolades for his achievements, but he never outpaced the other students like he had in Chester or Hiram. Allan Peskin writes in his authoritative biography Garfield: “Students and teachers alike regarded him as a good, but not brilliant student, who stood well in the upper half of his class, but never seriously challenged his better-trained colleagues.” Just reading his comparatively sparse journal entries during his time in Massachusetts gives one the feeling that Garfield was too focused on his studies to write regularly. But none of this is meant to imply that Garfield performed poorly – in fact, he learned and accomplished much at Williams. He was considered by some classmates as one of the most capable debaters the college had ever seen; he was elected president of one of the main literary societies at the school; he even found himself chosen as the editor of a college publication, the Williams Quarterly. His knack for languages expanded to include German and Hebrew, and he came to enjoy studying the natural sciences even more. At Williams, Garfield discovered that he not only had a natural ability to learn easily, but that he also had the drive and work ethic to match it when that natural ability by itself was not enough to keep up with his peers.

Garfield chose to attend Williams in order to broaden his intellectual horizons in the very different culture and atmosphere of New England.  Here he was regarded as a good but not exceptional student, but his love of learning was cultivated as he had hoped it would be.  (Williams College)

Garfield chose to attend Williams in order to broaden his intellectual horizons in the very different culture and atmosphere of New England. Here he was regarded as a good but not exceptional student, but his love of learning was cultivated as he had hoped it would be. (Williams College)

In later years Garfield would recall the exact beginning of his intellectual life: witnessing an address in Williamstown by the essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. Arguably, though, his intellectual calling had begun earlier when he found that he loved being a student. He would return to Hiram in 1856 as a full-time teacher and then school president the following year. But his academic side carried on beyond that role as well and would influence virtually every aspect of his life and career. During the Civil War, Garfield had no official military training but recognized his own strength as a quick learner, so he read biographies on Napoleon and studied every book on military tactics he could find. As Chief of Staff of the Army of the Cumberland he spurred the West Point-trained General Rosecrans to action before the Tullahoma Campaign with a lengthy, essay-like report that logically listed point-by-point every reason the army should attack the enemy.

In Congress, he was a firm ally of education, saying in a speech in 1879: “If… we allow our youth to grow up in ignorance, this Republic will end in disastrous failure.” He proposed the bill for the creation of the federal Department of Education (which passed and formed in 1867), supported the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute after the Civil War for the education of blacks, was a regular visitor to the Library of Congress, and introduced a bill to provide military education in colleges (a forerunner to ROTC, which ultimately did not receive enough interest to pass). Ainsworth Spofford, the head of the Library of Congress for over 30 years, recalled Garfield being one of the most frequent users of the collection there. It was also in Congress that Garfield developed a unique proof of the Pythagorean theorem still used by some today.

Ainsworth Rand Spofford was the Librarian of Congress from 1864 to 1897.  He recalled Congressman James A. Garfield as one of the most frequent visitors to the Library of Congress during Spofford's long tenure.  (Library of Congress)

Ainsworth Rand Spofford was the Librarian of Congress from 1864 to 1897. He recalled Congressman James A. Garfield as one of the most frequent visitors to the Library of Congress during Spofford’s long tenure. (Library of Congress)

Learning was a big part of Garfield family life. Academics and books gave James and Lucretia an additional common bond early on in their courtship, and she would continue to be an intellectual counterpart to her husband throughout their marriage. Naturally he took a scientific approach to farming in Mentor – his diaries mention different experiments with soil, crops, and irrigation. He was also very interested in the progress of his children’s education. He was confused why his oldest sons did not share the same love of education that he had, noting in his diary that “the mind naturally hungers and thirsts for knowledge.” Before their move to the Mentor home, he had decided to send Harry and Jim to a private school, believing the public schools to be too crowded and the students overworked; Mollie would stay home to learn “something of books” and housekeeping. In December 1874, he wrote happily in his diary “Harry and Jimmy have this Winter awaked to the love of reading.” Garfield continued to help with their studies and all five of his children who lived to adulthood had very successful lives of their own.

The Mentor house itself stands as proof of the President’s love for reading and learning. Nearly every room of the house has at least a few books in it, and this seems pretty exact to how it appeared when Garfield lived there as well. A reporter wrote that “His real pleasure seems to be when poring over his books.” Another visitor to the house in the late 1870s wrote:

“..you can go nowhere in the general’s home without coming face to face with books. They confront you in the hall when you enter, in the parlor and the sitting room, in the dining-room, and even in the bath-room, where documents and speeches are corded up like firewood.”

Mrs. Lucretia Garfield added the Memorial Library to her Mentor home in 1895-96, several years after her husband's assassination.  The room was designed to memorialize her husband for her family and the nation while also preserving his sizeable book collection.  This library is considered the birthplace of the presidential library idea.  (National Park Service)

Mrs. Lucretia Garfield added the Memorial Library to her Mentor home in 1885-86, several years after her husband’s assassination. The room was designed to memorialize her husband for her family and the nation while also preserving his sizeable book collection. This library is considered the birthplace of the presidential library idea. (National Park Service)

Even his Inaugural Address discussed the importance of education in a government that derives its power from its citizens. Garfield started to prepare his speech by studying the Inaugural Addresses of his predecessors. In his own Address, he pointed out the alarming percentage of illiteracy indicated by the recent census and announced what he believed to be the cure: “For the North and South alike there is but one remedy. All the constitutional power of the nation and of the States and all the volunteer forces of the people should be surrendered to meet this danger by the savory influence of universal education.” Stating that their children will one day be the inheritors of their government, he added “It is the high privilege and sacred duty of those now living to educate their successors and fit them, by intelligence and virtue, for the inheritance which awaits them. In this beneficent work sections and races should be forgotten and partisanship should be unknown.” For Garfield, education and intelligence were not just ways of allowing one individual to “rise above the herd” – education for everyone, regardless of race or class, provided the surest foundation for the perpetuation of the nation itself. Learning offered the means for which Garfield was able to live a successful life, and it is little surprise that he believed that to be the surest way for others as well.

Due to his assassination,  we will never know where his scholastic calling would have called him next, or if he would have been successful in his plans for the Presidency. But his statements during his Inauguration as President of the United States act as an appropriate summation of how academics and education had influenced Garfield’s own life. Perhaps most fitting of all, later that evening the Inaugural Ball was held not in a temporary structure as many balls before, but in the new Smithsonian Museum.

-T.J. Todd, Visitor Use Assistant

(Thanks to Jennifer Morrow of the Hiram College Archives for her generous assistance.)