The Indian Territory in the Civil War Message Board

More on Wanderer=Young

Linking the Wanderer with John Russell Young (J.R.Y.) has proved challenging. If true, however, it would be important to appreciating the full story of the Beale Wagon Road in Indian Territory. It is a documented fact that The Wanderer was the pseudonym for a youthful, talented correspondent working for The Press of Philadelphia in 1859, and so was John Russell Young. No other viable candidate has been found.

John Russell Young

In 1859, 18-year old John Russell Young had impress his supervisor, but was still looking for that big story. It does not appear that Young had published anything in The Press prior to the Civil War under his actual name. Finally, on July 23, 1861 Young published his Manassas I battlefield letter in The Press, entitled “Our Great Battle Beyond Centreville” which brought him national acclaim. He signed this article “J.R.Y.” See Young’s article at:
https://panewsarchive.psu.edu/lccn/sn84026296/1861-07-23/ed-1/seq-2/

Young seems to have become John Weiss Forney’s personal staff assistant during the Civil War years of 1862-63, including covering President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. John Russell Young was now walking in the Halls of Federal Power, but missing all the great Civil War battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, etc. And then came the glorious opportunity to go down to New Orleans (his old high school stomping grounds (July 1851 - July 1854) and cover the Union Army’s prospective victory during the Red River Campaign to be led by former Speaker of the House (1855-6) and now Major General N. P. Banks, a big political friend of John W. Forney. Surely, after victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, 45,000 Yankees and 100+ warships would maul the remaining Confederate defenders out west in the Trans-Mississippi. Didn’t happen! And in May 1864, President Lincoln, General Grant and John W. Forney made sure that J.R.Y. didn’t publish another Manassas I truthful disaster letter prior to Lincoln’s reelection efforts.

On returning to Philadelphia, and likely a bit downtrodden, J. R. Young was sent by Forney out to visit Western Pennsylvania and vicinity in the Fall of 1864 to raise his spirits. Young was asked to report back to Forney on the status and prospects of the new Oil Industry. Recall Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well along Oil Creek near Titusville northwest of Pittsburgh on August 27, 1859. The implication of Young's new assignment is that Young’s boss, John W. Forney, knew that Young was very familiar with the area around Pittsburgh, and could get the job done well. Young’s special report was provided to Forney's Philadelphia Press, December 5, 1864. See its reference at
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.31951d029745765&view=1up&seq=53

Young’s work on The Battle of Manassas, as published in The Press on July 23, 1861, the Red River Campaign, and the Oil paper of 1864, are all noted on page 53 of:
https://catalog.loc.gov/vwebv/search?searchCode=LCCN&searchArg=03022608&searchType=1&permalink=y

The Wanderer

Let’s now examine "The Wanderer’s" recent experience about Pittsburgh and vicinity. In our Letter A, written on July 27, 1859 in St. Louis and published in The Press on August 2, 1859, the Wanderer writes about his journey west to Fort Smith:
"I did not stop at Pittsburgh for the reason I had been there only a few weeks before.”

{Wanderer is riding the Pennsylvania Railroad from Philadelphia via Pittsburgh and Fort Wayne, IN to Chicago, on his way to Fort Smith.} Actually, the Wanderer did stop in Pittsburgh to change trains, and we note that he says that he had also earlier visited Pittsburgh around July 4th, possibly to check on Drake’s nearby oil play.

Thus, Wanderer was familiar with Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and some of West Virginia by 1859. He had been in Pittsburgh at least twice during the time Edwin Drake was drilling the first oil well nearby in Titusville, and Eastern investors were getting interested in "Rock Oil."

See Letter A, written by Wanderer on July 27, 1859 in St. Louis, and published in The Press in Philadelphia on August 2, 1859 at:
http://panewsarchive.psu.edu/lccn/sn84026296/1859-08-02/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=08%2F01%2F1859&city=&date2=09%2F01%2F1859&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&lccn=sn84026296&index=7&words=Smith+Territory+Wanderer+wanderings&county=&frequency=&ortext=Wanderer%2C+Fort+Smith%2C+Indian+Territory&proxtext=&phrasetext=&andtext=&rows=20&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1

Wanderer's common and timely experience around Pittsburgh in 1859 further supports the notion that The Wanderer was then really 18-year old John Russell Young, who wrote about the Western Pennsylvania Oil Fields in 1864, and later President Grant’s Around The World Tour, following his Presidency.

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