EDWARD P. ALEXANDER.
Born in Georgia and appointed to the United States Military Academy from Georgia. He was appointed a Brevet 2nd Lieutenant in the Engineers on July 1, 1857, Received a regular commission as a 2nd Lieutenant on October 10, 1858 and resigned his commission on May 1, 1861. (Powell, p. 157).
(E.P. Alexander, "Memoirs of E.P. Alexander" typescript at the University of North Carolina.)
The sappers with whom I came to serve were under command of 1st Lieut. Thomas Lincoln Casey of the engineers and I had known him slightly at West Point before I went to Utah. His wife, Emma, was a daughter of dear old Professor Robert Weir, professor of drawing at West Point.
Perhaps this is as good a place as any to say that among all the many friendships which Miss Teen and I have made, in our varied journeyings, our friendship with the Caseys was one of the very dearest and it has proved the very longest of all in its duration. It continues today with poor Mrs. Casey. Tom having died last year, after being retired as Brig. General and Chief of Engineers, though still charged with and having nearly completed one of the great works of his life, the Congressional Library in Washington City.
Tom and Emma met us on the dock at Steilacoom City and drove up in the post ambulance to the fort, where we became the guests of his father, Lt. Colonel Silas Casey of the 9th Infantry, who was in command of the post. I am tempted to linger a little over our six months stay at Fort Steilacoom. As I look back at it, now it seems to have been the last of my youth.
Never to, or during that time, did I begin to realize what care and responsibility may mean. I had a position for life and an assured support in the profession I loved and I had only to get the most pleasure that I could out of my surroundings.
I kept up some professional reading and study and I worked a bit at two proposed patents I had in mind for projectiles to give greatly increased ranges. (One was for a projectile with a hole through its long axis; and one was for a flat projectile to sail like an aeroplane.
Some Germans are just perfecting this hole through the center invention now and getting very wonderful results. The aeroplane idea I am sure will also be utilized, probably to throw dynamite.) But my company duties were very light and I had plenty of time for shooting, fishing, playing chess and for social pleasures.
Our garrison consisted, besides the sappers of two companies of the 9th infantry. The other officers, besides the Casey mentioned, were Captain Thomas English; Lieut. David McKibben, both married; Lieut. Arthur Shaaf; Quartermaster Major "Nosey" Myers; Chaplain Rev. Mr. Kendig (married); Paymaster Major A. B. Ragan, with Mrs. Ragan and two adopted children (Frank and Wyly B.( and her brother, John Ector; the surgeon Dr. Brown and family soon succeeded however by young Dr. Vansant and he later by Dr. Heger. In Colonel Casey's household beside Mrs. Casey were also his two sweet daughters, Abbie who while we were there married Captain Hunt of the 4th Infantry and beautiful Bessie with her lovely eyes, who afterwards became Mrs. Robert N. Scott.
Besides these families there was the family of the sutler, a Mr. Bacheler, who were visited by the ladies and there were also Capt. Fauntleroy in command of the armed steamer Massachusetts with his wife.
The Massachusetts did not belong to the Navy, but was kept by the army to protect the settlers and Puget Sound Indians from a very warlike Alaska Tribe, the Stikines, who sometimes made incursions in immense war canoes carrying 60 warriors each. Captain Fauntleroy was a Virginian, son of a former army officer, celebrated as a great rifle shot and he had with him a Midshipman Barron son of Commodore Barron who I think fought a duel with Commodore Decatur.
We stayed with Colonel Casey as his guests for about two weeks. He quarters were a double cottage, l/2 stories facing the center of the parade ground; 4 rooms and 2 shed rooms on the lower floor and four rooms in the l/2 story above. On each side of it were three other cottages with two full rooms and two shed rooms below and two rooms in the 1/2 story above.
After looking around we found our only chance for quarters was to divide the cottage next on the right to Colonel Casey's with Lieut. Shaaf who being unmarried only needed half of the downstairs. He took the rooms on ones' left entering.
The right front room, on entering was our parlor and dining room. The rear or shed room was the kitchen. Upstairs, the upstairs rooms had no fire places, our bedroom was over our parlor which was the side next to Colonel Casey's and Anne our cook and house girl whom we had brought from West Point had the room over Shaaf's parlor for her bedroom.
It took us some little time to find all the furniture, bedding etc. we needed to go to housekeeping, but we finally got fixed sending thirty miles to Olympia the capital for some things, getting some in Steilacoom and some at Nisqually, a fort or station of the Hudson Bay Company on the prairie about six miles to the south.
Mount Rainier, in the southeast, across the parade ground, towered high above the Cascade Range which bounds the horizon there, apparently some forty to fifty miles away. The country is one of interspersed prairie and forests of fir, with many little lakes scattered about, a dozen or more within an hour's walk.
Since the war the fort has been given to the territory for an insane asylum and Miss Teen and I revisited it in 1892. Colonel Casey's quarters and our house on the right and Tom Casey's on its left were the only buildings left of the officers quarters existing in our day, but some of the old soldiers barracks still stood and the old trees about the vicinity and we walked out to the little lake nearby where we used to walking the old days of our honeymoon and cut our initials on a tree with the dates '61 and '92.
One of our favorite walks, too, was to a little mill pond, about a mile north on a stream flowing into the Sound, a deep ravine. Here Miss Teen would sit on the bank and read while I, out on a log could always catch a fine string of brook trout in a little while.
Indeed we nearly lived on game and fish. I bought a nice pony which Colonel Casey kept in his stable, for the privilege of joint use by his daughters and once a week I would ride down to the mouth of the Puyallup River, where the City of Tacoma is now situated, and leaving Charley, the pony, at the house of a Swede named DeLinn who had a little shingle mill on a little brook emptying into the Sound I would walk up a mile or two to the Indian village on the Puyallup River and get an Indian to take me in his Kynim to paddle around the flats and creeks at the mouth of the river for a cultus mimeloose Kulla Kulla or for amusement kill ducks. I could usually get fifteen or twenty by the time he would land me at Delinns and if I cared to get any pheasants I could always get them in an adjacent crab apple thicket with Mrs. Delinns little dog.
About five miles southeast form the fort was a large late, about one mile wide by four long which was a great resort for wild geese to roost in. At least twice every week I would get up long before day and saddle Charley and by dawn would be on the far side of the lake to get a shot at the geese as they flew for their feeding grounds and I usually brought one or two and one afternoon I walked out and back and brought in seven.
Occasionally too I would go deer hunting on the islands in the sound with Capt. Fauntleroy, but only once did we get a deer. Then I killed it, running in the woods, one hundred yards off by a wonderful chance shot, with the old small bore rifle of Capt. Fauntleroy's father, the bullet hitting it in the neck and cutting the jugular vein.
Once I was sent by Colonel Casey on a three days trip over to some settlements on the White River, where it was reported that there were hostile demonstrations by Indians, but the alarm proved unfounded.
Once every five or six days, I was on duty as officer of the day. Our guard had charge of a few very hard cases, deserters, etc. serving long terms. One day one of these fellows mutinied and getting an iron bar cleared the upstairs room in which they were confined and threatened to kill anyone who came up. The sergeant of the guard ran over to my house for me and I went over and advanced on the fellow with my sword when he retreated into his cell where he gave up and submitted to hand cuffs.
By the excitement of the winter was caused by the going crazy of my intimate associate, John Ector, who lived with the Ragans in the cottage adjoining us on the right. As the Ragans were from Georgia and the old major, a charming and hospitable gentleman, we became very intimate and Ector and I used to be together a great deal especially to play chess a great deal.
Some time early in February, 1861, his conduct began to be a little peculiar at times. He got excited upon religious subjects and began to show that exaggerated self appreciation which is so often a sign of incipient insanity. At last it became necessary to have him watched constantly and one night they sent for me about 4:00 a.m. to come over, for he had a violent fit and had driver two soldiers who were nursing him and Major Ragan out of the house with a poker, breaking the bones of one man's hand.
I went over hurriedly in dressing gown and slippers and got him in his room and disarmed him, but had to stay with him till breakfast time, at 8:30 a.m. when he insisted on going over to my house to get my guns and pistol to kill all the people on the post whom he thought were plotting against him.
I got him out on the porch and there a half dozen soldiers brought up behind a fence made a dash on him and after a hard fight tied him. After that he had to be kept in an out house in a straight jacket and his feet fastened to a staple in the floor.
When we all came home in April and May as has yet to be told, Ector was brought along, always with his arms in a straight jacket and his feet tied together and fastened to the floor of a cabin on the steamers or a room in hotels and transferred by main force when necessary and generally making his vicinity known by howling and yelling, crying fire or murder or both, and vituperating every person he saw with a most extensive vocabulary of billingsgate and profanity.
Poor Major Ragan! Mrs. Ragan, Ector's half sister, was not very far from being crazy herself, even before Ector became son and his affliction made her very excited and unreasonable and hard to do anything with. Then the major had a brother of his own with him, I fort his name, a little old man, who I had forgotten until now and who could not help getting maudlin drunk whenever he could get a chance and chances had to be allowed him or he would have D. T. and Mrs. R. had also a miserable pet poodle dog named Annette which she cared for as much as for her adopted boys, Frank and Wyly.
And the poor Major had to make that trip from Fort Steilacoom to George with that menagerie, Mrs. Ragan, Ector (the) major's brother, Frank, Wyly B. and Annette. Duly I will tell what happened to Annette on the journey when I come to that.
After getting to New York he took Ector to an asylum in Philadelphia where he was cured within a year and came down to Georgia. And in 1874 he visited us in Opelika Alabama, and scared Miss Teen awfully, for she had no confidence in his recovery and when I, manoeuvering to bring a long, long tedious and trying visit to a termination said I must go down to my office for a while, Miss Teen nearly fainted at the idea of being left alone with him and she believes to this day that I put her in great danger in making the suggestion. But fortunately it worked and Ector went off with me and did not come back.
For social amusements we had a very occasional hop at some sort of a semi public room or hall, I can't now recall exactly what and once some wretched travelling minstrels gave a show to which Miss Teen and I took Bessie Casey and I remember Joseph Bowers snag to the grinding of a coffee mill used in imitation of a hand organ. Once or twice we had attempts at sleigh rides with dry goods boxes on makeshift runners when we h ad a few inches of snow, but it usually melted in a day and we had to come back through the mud.
Once the little pond we used to walk to froze over so hard that Colonel Casey though he might cut some ice and he walked out there with Miss Teen, Bessie Casey and an orderly. The orderly thought the ice was strong enough and walked far out where the water was very deep when he broke through and would have drowned and not Miss Teen taken an oar and walked out near enough to give it to him while Bessie Casey ran back to the barracks nearly a half a mile and brought help. The oar enabled the soldier to hold up until ropes were brought and he was hauled out.
Sometimes we had riding or walking excursions or picnics with some of the ladies and sometimes pistol practice for them and Miss Teen generally beat them all.
As the spring approached she and I used to take long walks just to pick the beautiful yellow violets of which the woods were full. Bless the memories of old Fort Steilacoom! Though possibly they are seeming peculiarly dear today as I write them, June 9, 1897, way down in Greytown, Nicaragua, where lonesomeness has its own abode and homesickness its everlasting habitation.
(E.P. Alexander, "Memoirs of E. P. Alexander," typescript at the University of North Carolina. written June 9, 1897.).
GENERAL E. P. ALEXANDER'S FORT STEILACOOM NOTES
Alexander, General E. P. The American Civil War, A critical narrative, by General E. P. Alexander, Chief of Artillery
"Soon after returned to West Point I was ordered to relieve Lt. Robert at Fort Steilacoom in Washington Territory with the detachment of our company. With my wife I sailed on the steamer Northern Light for Aspinwall on Aug. 10, by the John L. Stephens from Panama on the 19th, and by the Cortes from San Francisco on Sept. 8, landing at Steilacoom City on Sept 20. All steamers of those days were side wheelers.
The Dost was commanded by Col. Silas Casey of the 9th Infantry, and garrisoned by two companies of the 9th and our detachment of 36 Engineer troops under Lt. Thomas L. Casey. There were no duties but those of company routine. The post was a very pleasant one, the woods and waters abounded in game and fish, the climate was mild and open, and the fall and winter passed rapidly. But it was a period of great anxiety to Southern officers whose native states, after debating the question of secession, began one after another to take the step.
There was generally little active interest taken by army officers in political questions, but with few exceptions, the creed was held that, as a matter of course, in case war should result from secession, each officer would go with his state .... In March came orders for the return of our detachment to West Point.
No vessel was then running to any port in Puget Sound, and we had to wait until special arrangements for our transportation could be made. Our Quartermaster Department, however, maintained an armed vessel, the Massachusetts, upon the Sound to keep off invasions of the Stikane Indians, who made raids from Alaska in their immense war canoes. This vessel was directed to take us to Port Townsend, and there the Cortes, which ran between San Francisco and Vancouver's Island, would call and get us.
We sailed from Steilacoom City in the afternoon of April 9, 1861. Four years later, to an hour, I saw Gen. Lee ride back to his lines from Appomattox Court House, where he had just surrendered his army ...
(Alexander, General E. P. The American Civil War, A critical narrative, by General E. P. Alexander, Chief of Artillery, Longstreet's corps with sketch maps by the author. London: Siegle, Hill and Company, 1908, pp. 4-5.