Daniel Beltzhoover: A Mount Saint Mary’s College Professor Serving in the Confederate Army

Daniel Beltzhoover was born in 1826, in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 1832, young Daniel Beltzhoover moved to Natchez, Mississippi. Daniel was a graduate of the 1847 class at West Point. He was a veteran in the United States Military serving during the wars in Florida and in Mexico. After the war with Mexico, he became a professor at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary near Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he taught mathematics. While teaching at the Mount, Daniel married Elizabeth Miles, who was the sister to Professor George Miles, who also taught at the Mount. Daniel Beltzhoover was a highly religious man and practiced the Roman Catholic faith.

Before the Civil War, he commanded a company of Zouave Mountain Cadets at Mount Saint Mary’s, and drilled them thoroughly on Eardin’s and Casey’s tactics. During the winter of 1860, Daniel Beltzhoover gave a lecture on “Modern Fortifications.” This was his last lecture before he entered the Confederate army. As the country became divided over the issues of the time period leading to the Civil War, Professor Beltzhoover and his students had a decision to make.

In March of 1861, before the first shots of the Civil War rang out in the Charleston Harbor at South Carolina, Daniel set out for the state of Louisiana, resigning from Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary. Daniel Beltzhoover was appointed the rank of major on April 17th, and mustered into service on April 18th, with the 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery Regiment. During this time period, Major Beltzhoover served as a staff officer to Major General David E. Twiggs.

On April 26, 1861, Major Beltzhoover, who was headquartered at New Orleans, sent a dispatch to 1st Lieutenant H. W. Fossler requesting him to report for duty at Fort Jackson to be mustered in and to receive his official commission from the Confederate States. This is the first official record stating Daniel’s rank in the Confederate Army.

On July 25, 1861, Major Beltzhoover received a dispatch from the Assistant Adjutant-General R. Chilton at Richmond, Virginia stating: “When troops are organized under State laws and received into service as so organized, as, for instance, by battalions or regiments, all vacancies occurring are filled according to State laws; but where independent companies are tendered as such and so received by the President, all vacancies are filled by his appointment.” This dispatch was sent to several other officers as well.

At New Orleans on July 1, 1861, Augustus C. Watson was a wealthy planter from the Tensas parish and equipped the battery with four 6-lb. Smoothbores and two 12-lb. Howitzers at a cost of $40,000-$60,000. The men serving in the battery were from Livingston, East Baton Rouge, and St. Helena parishes. According to the Story of the Mountain at least thirty Mountaineers (Mount Saint Mary’s Students) also served in the ranks of Watson’s Artillery. Shortly after Watson’s Artillery was formed, many of the officers who served in the battery took demotions in rank. The battery’s first Captain was Allen Bursly, a West Point Graduate. Sometime afterward, Augustus Watson, approached Major Beltzhoover to accept the position of the battery commander, which Major Beltzhoover accepted. In October, Beltzhoover took over as the commanding officer in Watson’s Flying Battery.

A reproduction jacket made from period descriptions.

Once the battery was equipped and enough manpower recruited, Watson’s Artillery set out for camp in August of 1861. On August 13th, the members of Watson’s Battery assembled at Lafayette Square to take a river steamboat to Watson’s Plantation for drill. Their uniforms consisted of a steel gray woolen jacket with a nine button front, and crimson red facings and piping. The sleeves adopted a French cuff taped with yellow with eight small ball buttons. The trousers were made from steel gray material matching the jacket and featured a crimson red stripe down the outer seam of the trousers. Their head gear was a steel gray kepi with a crimson red band, red cord, crossed cannons, and brass letters “WB” for Watson’s Battery to honor their founder Augustus Watson. Their uniform also included a black leather belt with the two-piece Louisiana buckle with the pelican insignia. As the war entered the fall and winter of 1861-1862, the flashy uniform would have been replaced with a deep south patterned uniform made of jeans-cloth.

At Lake Bruin, near St. Joseph, the men drilled until they were fit for active service. Many complaints from the enlisted men said that Beltzhoover was too hard and rough during drill periods. Petitions were signed by many of the unit’s enlisted men wanting transfers to other artillery organizations. Some of the men resigned from Watson’s Flying Battery to join the Louisiana Point Coupee Battery. With the situation unresolved, many men of Watson’s Battery tore off the “W” from their kepis in protest of General Polk’s lack of investigation into their claims.

The members of Watson’s Battery reported to Memphis Tennessee in September of 1861, and were ordered to report for duty in early October at Columbus, Kentucky. On November 7th, the men of Watson’s Artillery received their first baptism of fire at Belmont, Missouri. During the battle of Belmont, Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover supported Colonel John V. Wright’s 13th Tennessee Regiment, who was on Beltzhoover’s left. They also supported the 13th Arkansas Regiment under Colonel Tappan, with the regiments of Colonels Pickett, Freeman, and Russell on their right. Beltzhoover’s guns were directed to take up position in a field about one hundred yards from the Mississippi River. Watson’s Artillery kept the fire hot and Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover was noted by several regimental officers for his gallant conduct during the battle. The Federals made an attempt to turn the left wing of the Confederates but was defeated by the destructive fire of Beltzhoover’s battery supported by Colonel Wright’s Tennessee Regiment.

Colonel Beltzhoover was ordered to remove his battery to the rear when it ran out of ammunition. During the execution to fall back, one team of horses ran off with the limber, leaving the gun in its position where the battery was first stationed. Some reports claim that a Federal artillery shell had exploded near Watson’s Battery. While the other pieces of Watson’s Artillery were withdrawn to the bank of the river, the gun fell into Federal hands. Colonel Buford’s 27th Illinois were the first to press into the Confederate line and succeeded in capturing the gun belonging to Watson’s Battery. Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover asked for assistance in recovering the lost gun.

Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover’s report the day after the Battle at Belmont: “About 8 a.m., November 7, you informed me at Camp Johnston, Missouri, that the enemy were advancing in force against us, and ordered me to put the Watson Battery in position. I immediately posted a section at the end of each of the three roads by which our camp could be approached, and when you came out with your regiment you gave me a company to support each section. We stood as thus placed until the arrival of Brigadier-General Pillow, who ordered your companies back to the regiment, and united my battery at the edge of the woods and the bend of the right-hand road from the usual landing of the enemy’s gunboats. There we stood doing our best until the whole line retreated to the river. At the river I formed in battery again, although I had no ammunition, and so remained until carried down the bank by the force of retreating troops. My loss is 2 killed and 8 wounded and missing; 45 horses killed; 2 guns missing. I feel bound to mention, for your favorable notice, Lieutenant C. P. Ball, than whom a braver or more accomplished officer cannot be found, and Privates White and Frederick. I am afraid Lieutenant Ball is seriously wounded by being run over by a caisson.” Signed: Lt. Colonel D. M. Beltzhoover.

On November 30th, Watson’s Artillery had 5 officers and 94 men present for duty. In late December, Watson’s Artillery reported at Bowling Green, Kentucky where they were assigned to Colonel John S. Bowen’s Brigade. From there, they would travel to Corinth Mississippi in February of 1862.

On March 13, 1862, Lt. Colonel Daniel Beltzhoover received an appointment for a staff position as Chief of Artillery (Special Order #44) and it was requested that Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover enter his duties at once. However, Beltzhoover failed to assume the duties as Chief of Artillery and continued serving in Watson’s Artillery as its Captain. Major Francis Shoup was temporary appointed as Chief of Artillery in mid-April, although the appointment was never officially filled.

On April 6th and 7th, 1862, during the battle of Shiloh, Watson’s Battery had 114 men manning four rifled 6 pound cannon and two 12 pound howitzers. They were part of Bowen’s Brigade with Colonel John D. Martin commanding the brigade since General Bowen was recovering from a wound. H. C. Carke a Vicksburg, Mississippi native wrote about Watson’s Artillery during the Battle of Shiloh. “The artillery were all hurried forward to complete the work. Thirty-six of our best guns were now brought into position on a ridge at a distance of three-fourths of a mile from the enemy’s main body. There was the Watson heavy battery, of Breckinridge’s Division, among the first to take its place, under the fearless and skillful Beltzhoover, who had already performed several brilliant feats in aid of Cheatham’s movement. In this battery the liberal and patriotic gentleman after, whom it was named, who had been instrumental in putting it into the field with his own means, worked at the guns as an artillerist. There, too, was the battery of the still unwearied Robinson, of Mobile, whose guns were the handiwork of one of our own foundries.” Reports from the battle state Watson’s Artillery sustained two casualties and Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover was not there to command his battery.

On April 13, 1862, Brigadier General Breckinridge announced his staff in the Army of the Mississippi where Lt. Colonel Daniel Beltzhoover was appointed to Chief of Artillery. Because of this order, Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover resigned from Watson’s Artillery. From May to July, Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover served as an Acting Inspector-General at Camp Moore.

Returning to the 1st Louisiana Artillery in August 1862, Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover assumed his duties under the command of Colonel Charles A. Fuller. Colonel Fuller, just like Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover, held a staff position as Inspector-General for the Confederate Army. The 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery Regiment was organized with men from the New Orleans area during the spring of 1861. It served at Forts Jackson and St. Phillip in New Orleans.

By December of 1862, Daniel Beltzhoover was stationed at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Life for the artillery men consisted of drilling in the tactics of Heavy Artillery, picket duty and guarding prisoners. Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover wrote to the Assistant Adjutant-General Major J. R. Waddy stating “Five hundred political prisoners. None landed and will not be landed until definite instructions are received regarding them.”

During the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover was attached to Colonel Edward Higgins’ Water Batteries that served as a portion of the Vicksburg defenses. Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton wrote on January 31, 1863, describing the layout of the area where Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover and the rest of Colonel Higgins’ Brigade were stationed. The batteries were divided into individual commands .The upper batteries, or those immediately on the city front, were under the command of Major F. N. Ogden, Eighth Louisiana Artillery Battalion, to whose command was attached Captain S. C. Bain’s company of Vaiden Light Artillery. The low batteries were under the command Lt. Colonel Daniel Beltzhoover of the First Louisiana Artillery with a portion of the Twenty-Third Louisiana Volunteers.

Beltzhoover’s command served on 26 cannon, mostly heavy guns, in the “Lower Batteries,” of Vicksburg. His command included the famed “Whistling Dick” and the “Widow Blakely.” The “Whistling Dick” was a model 1839 smoothbore cannon that fired an 18 pound projectile and was later rifled. The muzzle of which was damaged by a premature explosion. The tube was cut short which gave its projectiles a unique whistle when fired, thus, the nickname “Whistling Dick.” The gun was credited with the sinking of the Union gunboat Cincinnati. “Whistling Dick” disappeared after the surrender of Vicksburg and remains unaccounted for today.

The “Widow Blakely” was a 7.44 inch Blakely rifle that was called the “Widow” as it was the only Blakely in the city’s defenses. On May 22, 1863, The “Widow Blakely” exploded as a shell in the tube burst while it was firing at a Union gunboat. The explosion took a portion of the end of the muzzle off, leaving the remainder of the tube intact. The ragged ends were then cut and the rifle was used as a mortar during the rest of the siege. After the trimming of the muzzle the overall length of the gun was about 100 inches. Originally, the tube would have been about 124 inches long.

During the siege of Vicksburg, a bullet had struck a sword that was given to Beltzhoover by a wounded member of his artillery command. This sword had been used during the battle of Waterloo against the French. When Beltzhoover was riding his horse, giving commands, the bullet struck the sword and cracked it while the same bullet forced his horse to fall to the ground.

On July 4th, 1863, the 1st Louisiana Artillery surrendered and was paroled several months later at Camp Enterprise, Mississippi. While waiting for parole Beltzhoover was stationed at Camp Enterprise until his release in November. On November 20, 1863, Major General John H. Forney made his report of paroled and exchange of troops at Enterprise, Mississippi. The Confederate troops involved during the parole and exchange for the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana under General Joseph E. Johnston listed Beltzhoover in command of the Heavy Artillery Brigade. The brigade consisted of the following units: 1st Louisiana commanded by Lieutenant Colonel D. Beltzhoover, 8th Louisiana Battalion commanded by Captain Toby Hart, 22nd Louisiana commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Jones, Vaiden Mississippi Artillery commanded by Captain Samuel C. Bains, Watson Louisiana Battery which was unassigned, 1st Mississippi commanded by Colonel John M. Simonton, and the 1st Mississippi Light Artillery commanded by Captain James J. Cowan.

On August 29, 1863, Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover wrote in his after action report “I cannot give any idea of the ordnance stores lost, because I have none of the reports of returns. During the siege the commanders of garrisons had nothing to do with the ordnance stores further than to see that they were taken care of. Ammunition was sent to the batteries and removed from them without our knowledge. Colonel Higgins and all his staff are absent, and I get no better information than given above.”

Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover also assessed the losses of heavy artillery from his brigade during the surrender of Vicksburg. The losses were: eight 10-inch Columbiads, one 9-inch navies, one 8-inch Columbiad, one 10-inch mortar, three 42-pounders, five 32-pound rifles, five 32-pound smooth-bores, two Brooks’, one Blakely, and two 6-pound field guns. In all, twenty-nine guns were lost.

During the events leading up to the siege of Vicksburg, where Beltzhoover was stationed, Watson’s Artillery, Beltzhoover’s old command was assigned to Moaxey’s and Beall’s Brigade, Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana. After serving in Mississippi, Watson’s Artillery became part of the garrison at Port Hudson, Louisiana and surrendered on July 9, 1863. The soldiers of Watson’s Artillery were paroled and exchanged, but many of its members joined the 1st Louisiana Regular Artillery Regiment under the command of Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover. Watson’s Artillery had ceased to exist.

After being paroled, Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover took over his former brigade and reorganized it. Beltzhoover’s Brigade included the 27th Louisiana, 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery, 8th Louisiana Heavy Artillery Battalion, 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery, Anderson’s Artillery, Bains’ Artillery company, Wade’s Missouri Battery, and one company of Sapper’s and Miner’s.

On January 1st, 1864, Beltzhoover’s command consisted of the 1st Louisiana Artillery, 8th Louisiana Battalion, 22nd Louisiana, 14th Mississippi Artillery Battalion, J. S. Smyth’s cavalry battalion, Trans-Mississippi Battalion, Vaiden (Mississippi) Artillery, 1st Mississippi Light Artillery, and a Signal Corps Detachment.

On April 23, 1864, Major General Dabney H. Maury, who was stationed at Mobile Alabama, wrote to Major General Samuel Cooper for the consideration of the establishment of a military school for the education of young officers. General Maury suggested that Mobile was the best place in the southwest for the establishment of military schools, and at this time there are several officers on duty here, graduates of military colleges and men of good ability and attainments, who will gladly aid in organizing a good system of military education. He had requested that Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover, as well as a few other officers, teach the young officers and men in the enlisted ranks.

Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover accepted the teaching position and was transferred to Mobile, Alabama, commanding the School of Practice for Artillerists. The school was located on Government Street. William T. Mumford of the 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery Company B was ordered to report to class on May 10th, 1864. His teacher was Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover. By May 30th, class was in session. On June 28th, Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover left Mobile at 5:00 a.m. and took his class to Forts Morgan, Gaines and Powell. At Fort Gaines, there were 13 Federal blockading vessels in full view. The class didn’t return to Mobile until 7:00 p.m. that evening.

On July 5th, the class received orders to be ready to march out of Mobile. Five days of rations were to be cooked, and a hundred rounds of ammunition were issued to each man. They were to march to Meridian at 3:00 a.m. the next morning to assist in repelling a raiding party of Federal soldiers coming from Mississippi to the north.

Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover marched his battalion of artillerists into Mississippi. At Tupelo, Mississippi Beltzhoover’s Battalion was used as infantry. According to William Mumford of the 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery during the Battle of Tupelo several officers and men were left behind, among them was Colonel Daniel Beltzhoover.

After suffering an illness in mid-July, Beltzhoover recovered in private quarters and was listed as sick until sometime in September, when he was moved to a hospital in Mobile, Alabama. Daniel Beltzhoover retired from the Army and on May 26th, 1865, Daniel Beltzhoover was paroled at Mobile, Alabama.

After the Civil War, Daniel continued teaching in Mobile until a Yellow Fever epidemic took his life. Daniel died on October 31, 1870 of Yellow Fever. Some reports state he died of gastritis. His body was laid out in a state of rest on November 1st, at the Cathedral in Mobile. He left behind four daughters, Mary 16, Sarah 15, Rosa 12 and Jane 10 and one son, Henry 14. The Story of the Mountain (Mount Saint Mary’s College History) claims that Beltzhoover’s daughters became nuns.

Daniel was later reinterred near Mount Saint Mary’s College. Upon his death from Yellow Fever his body could not be transported right away, since Yellow Fever was such a highly contagious epidemic. His wife Elizabeth Miles, and two of his daughters would join him, as they too are buried next to him on the Catoctin Mountain, near Mount Saint Mary’s University.

John G. Devereux, who served as Lt. Colonel Beltzhoover’s Lieutenant in the 1st Louisiana Artillery, visited Mount Saint Mary’s College forty years later looking for the grave of his old teacher Daniel Beltzhoover, and for three of Beltzhoover’s Louisiana comrades, whose beautiful epitaph was written by another of their teachers, George Henry Miles. It is said by his pupils, that Colonel Beltzhoover stood far above General Grant at West Point.

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