The American Civil War, day by day - Page 31 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15055618
I am reading What Hath God Wrought, the pulitzer prize winning history that covers from 1815 to about 1850.

IOW, the runup to the civil war.

I haven't gotten far enough in to see if it has this (I am sure it will), but during this era, the 3 things poor Southerners depended on would go into decline. Wild pigs, nuts, and something else I can never remember.

A society that has as many slaves as the the South had, lives in mortal fear of rebellion. If you combine that with unrest among a large portion of the rest of their population, the combination is potentially explosive.

In that situation, a war they were unlikely to win would still hold a lot of appeal.

Anyway, the book is fab, and will help you understand the Civil War better.
#15055689
Doug64 wrote:Now, there I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. The Italian peninsula is constricted enough that news traveled fast even by foot and horse, and with Hannibal monster-stomping over one army after another the news was so bad (including perhaps the single bloodiest day in all human history) that I don’t think images on TV screens would have added much to the impact.

Good point. And another good point is that most people back then would have been perfectly familiar with the brutal nature of warfare from direct personal experience, unlike the USA in the 1960s. I guess the consequences of defeat would have been so severe that there was no real choice but to keep struggling on....
#15055702
@Potemkin @Doug64

I have a direct ancestor who fought for the south in the American Civil War. I have also visited his tombstone and we place an American flag by it every year. He was an infantry soldier who we believe was probably drafted by the Confederate government (both sides used conscription during the war) as Union troops moved into his home county here in the south. He ended up travel some very long distances by foot fighting around Atlanta in Georgia to battles in Nashville, Tennessee to where he was eventually captured by Union forces and became a Prisoner of War.

He was imprisoned at Camp Douglas in Chicago where a lot of Confederate soldiers died during their imprisonment. After the defeat of the south, he had to pledge allegiance to the Union and he was allowed to leave. The railroads in the south were destroyed so he had to walk all the way back home by foot from Chicago to his home in the South.

His wife wouldn't allow him to go into the house and he had to take a bath outside while she boiled his clothes in extreme scalding hot water to kill the bacteria and lice in his clothes. He was then allowed in the house. We have his pensions records where states in the south granted pensions to confederate soldiers who fought for the south. We also have pictures of him and his wife after the war was over. My father and I look much like his wife who is my great great great grandmother.
#15055712
Potemkin wrote:Good point. And another good point is that most people back then would have been perfectly familiar with the brutal nature of warfare from direct personal experience, unlike the USA in the 1960s.

They would certainly be much more familiar with and accepting of violence and brutality. Rural people would be far more likely to be familiar with the butchery of animals. However no people are familiar with, the scale and terror of organised state warfare. Violence may be natural to humans, but organised, highly disciplined State warfare is quite unnatural to humans hence the need for considerable training to overcome the soldiers natural instincts. Primitive people are no match in head to head battle against organised, trained forces. I suspect that even when men have been trained from boyhood for warfare the reality of full scale warfare when it is first experienced is profoundly shocking.

This is why the "Lions led by Donkeys" trope is so banal. As any army would soon find out if they tried to fight without their officer corps. The problem is that your leaders might be quite good, but if the eneemy is better led or better resourced, then you're going to have serious trouble.
#15055762
I’m playing a bit of catch-up today, doing some research over the weekend on Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley before the campaigns of 1862 I found I’d gotten to it almost two months too late.

December 23, Monday

As a result of his interview with Secretary of State Seward on the previous Saturday, Lord Lyons writes to Lord Russell, Foreign Minister, “I am so convinced that unless we give our friends here a good lesson this time, we shall have the same trouble from them again very soon.... Surrender or war have a very good effect on them.”

Lord Lyons has misread Seward badly, perhaps because the Secretary of State knows that he needs to write a response that will satisfy not only the British demands (as softened as they are) but also the Northern public. He closets himself in his office this day and the following Christmas Eve to do just that.

When General Stonewall Jackson assumed command of the defense of the Shenandoah Valley and established his headquarters at Winchester on November 5th, he found the situation not at all to his liking. The problem isn’t Winchester’s location, the pleasant little colonial town is, among other things, the hub for nine important roadways. Confederate control of Winchester offers the inviting possibilities of invasions into Maryland or Pennsylvania; it also provides a base for raids against the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. But his Army of the Valley faced 18,000 Federals under General Nathaniel P. Banks holding western Maryland along the bank of the Potomac. In addition, more than 22,000 Federals led by Brigadier General William S. Rosecrans were established in western Virginia, just across the Alleghenies. And, of most immediate concern, Brigadier General Benjamin F. Kelley and his 5,000 Federals had recently captured the village of Romney, posing a threat to Jackson’s western flank and even to his headquarters—only forty miles away from Winchester by a fine road. To counter these forces, Jackson had pitiable resources—1,651 militia armed with converted flintlocks and desperately short of ammunition, scattered in little infantry and cavalry detachments with the largest group of 442 men at Winchester. Additionally, Jackson could call on 485 undisciplined cavalry troopers under Colonel Angus McDonald, a 60-year-old Southern patriot whose rheumatic afflictions would soon force him to resign in favor of his flamboyant second-in-command, Colonel Turner Ashby. Finally, Jackson had two artillery pieces, which the gunners didn’t know how to load. On his first day in command, Jackson ordered his dispersed militiamen to concentrate at Winchester, issued a call for all Valley militia not already in the field, and dispatched his adjutant to warn Richmond that the Shenandoah Valley is defenseless. In fact, the weakness of the Valley defenses was so obvious that it was recognized by the Confederate Secretary of War, Judah P. Benjamin, whose ignorance of military matters was surpassed only by his optimism. Even before Colonel J.T.L. Preston arrived, Benjamin had decided to send Jackson the Stonewall Brigade that he had just left.

But Jackson’s extremely limited resources don’t discourage him from wanting to take the offensive. On November 20, he wrote to Secretary Benjamin that an offensive movement in the Valley might deceive the Federal authorities that he had been reinforced by General Joseph Johnston with troops from the Manassas-Centreville area. Believing that even the unadventurous General McClellan might be tempted to attack Johnston’s supposedly weakened army, Jackson pledges that in that event the Valley army would turn from whatever it is doing and rush to Johnston’s side—in short, a repeat of the triumph at Bull Run/Manassas. And Jackson’s plan didn’t end with McClellan’s defeat. Thereafter, he argued, his troops could return to the Valley and then “move rapidly westward to the waters of the Monongahela and Little Kanawha” in Virginia’s Allegheny region. “I deem it of very great importance that Northwestern Virginia be occupied by Confederate troops this winter.”

In the Shenandoah Valley, whatever his long-range goals, General Stonewall Jackson’s immediate objective is to recapture Romney. Not only is the Union force there a threat to Jackson’s headquarters at Winchester, but a road runs southwest from the town through the Alleghenies to Monterey, intersecting there the vital highway from Staunton to Parkersburg, on the Ohio River. And arcing around Romney at an average distance of 20 miles is a 60-mile stretch of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, previously put out of commission by Confederate raids but now being repaired by Federal work crews. To set his scheme into operation, Jackson needed help, and he requested the Confederate Army of the Northwest under Brigadier General William W. Loring, after a dismal campaign under Robert E. Lee in northwestern Virginia now doing little more in the Alleghenies than guarding the Staunton-Parkersburg road. Secretary Benjamin agreed with Jackson’s plans and suggested to Loring that the Army of the Northwest would join Jackson. Loring consented, but said he would require two or three weeks of “every exertion” to get ready to march, and would bring only three of his four brigades—about 6,000 men—leaving the last brigade to guard the Allegheny passes.

Jackson had little choice but to wait for Romney. In the meantime, to keep the Stonewall Brigade occupied, he took them on a short winter campaign against a dam on the 60-foot-wide Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, capable of handling barges of up to 100 tons. With the B&O tracks broken, the Federals depend heavily on the canal to provide their stoves with Appalachian coal. Jackson decided to cut this artery near Martinsburg at Dam No. 5. He set out on December 16 and arrived at the dam by dusk the next day, and in spite of bombardment from the Maryland side of the river worked at night over the next few days to eventually breach the dam before leaving to return to Winchester on the 20th. But the damage was minor, and repaired before Jackson arrived back at Winchester this day do find that only one of Loring’s brigades has arrived.
#15055893
December 24, Tuesday

Christmas Eve—the first of the war—and many a soldier on a lonely, inactive post dreams of home and fireside.

The Federal Congress passes a bill increasing duties on tea, coffee, sugar, and molasses.

There is a skirmish at Wadesburg, Missouri, and a reconnaissance by Federals toward Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia.

Secretary of State Seward is again closeted in his office, continuing his work on his response to the British demands for the return of the Confederate envoys removed from the Trent. For this purpose he takes a page from General Butler’s book, where the squint-eyed general justified receiving slaves into his lines by declaring that their labor for the enemy made them contraband of war. Seward now declares that the envoys and their secretaries were “contraband,” liable to seizure, and that Wilkes’ error lay in his leniency in not bringing the Trent and all her cargo into port for judgment; in which case, Seward is sure, the ship and everything aboard her, including the four Confederates, would have become the lawful property of the United States. It’s nonsense, of course, the envoys have never been in any sense “property” to be declared contraband, but it provides the sop needed to hopefully satisfy the many in the North that still support Wilkes’s actions. However, Seward continues, he could appreciate his lordship’s being taken aback, for in impressing passengers from a merchant vessel Wilkes has followed a British, not an American, precedent. Seward sees the present ultimatum as an admission of past injuries inflicted by the British, and he congratulates Britannia on coming around to the point of view against which she had fought in 1812: “She could in no other way so effectually disavow any such injury, as we think she does, by assuming now as her own the ground upon which we then stood.” Captain Wilkes was mainly in the right, but the United States wants no advantage gained by means of an action which was even partly wrong. If the nation’s safety required it Seward would still detain the captives, but:

“ ... the effectual check and waning proportions of the existing insurrection, as well as the comparative unimportance of the captured persons themselves, when dispassionately weighed, happily forbid me from resorting to that defense.... The four persons in question are now held in military custody at Fort Warren, in the State of Massachusetts. They will be cheerfully liberated. Your lordship will please indicate a time and place for receiving them.”
#15055904
Doug64 wrote:December 24, Tuesday

Christmas Eve—the first of the war—and many a soldier on a lonely, inactive post dreams of home and fireside.

The Federal Congress passes a bill increasing duties on tea, coffee, sugar, and molasses.

There is a skirmish at Wadesburg, Missouri, and a reconnaissance by Federals toward Fairfax Courthouse, Virginia.

Secretary of State Seward is again closeted in his office, continuing his work on his response to the British demands for the return of the Confederate envoys removed from the Trent. For this purpose he takes a page from General Butler’s book, where the squint-eyed general justified receiving slaves into his lines by declaring that their labor for the enemy made them contraband of war. Seward now declares that the envoys and their secretaries were “contraband,” liable to seizure, and that Wilkes’ error lay in his leniency in not bringing the Trent and all her cargo into port for judgment; in which case, Seward is sure, the ship and everything aboard her, including the four Confederates, would have become the lawful property of the United States. It’s nonsense, of course, the envoys have never been in any sense “property” to be declared contraband, but it provides the sop needed to hopefully satisfy the many in the North that still support Wilkes’s actions. However, Seward continues, he could appreciate his lordship’s being taken aback, for in impressing passengers from a merchant vessel Wilkes has followed a British, not an American, precedent. Seward sees the present ultimatum as an admission of past injuries inflicted by the British, and he congratulates Britannia on coming around to the point of view against which she had fought in 1812: “She could in no other way so effectually disavow any such injury, as we think she does, by assuming now as her own the ground upon which we then stood.” Captain Wilkes was mainly in the right, but the United States wants no advantage gained by means of an action which was even partly wrong. If the nation’s safety required it Seward would still detain the captives, but:

“ ... the effectual check and waning proportions of the existing insurrection, as well as the comparative unimportance of the captured persons themselves, when dispassionately weighed, happily forbid me from resorting to that defense.... The four persons in question are now held in military custody at Fort Warren, in the State of Massachusetts. They will be cheerfully liberated. Your lordship will please indicate a time and place for receiving them.”

A clever and measured response. I wouldn't have expected that from Seward. Actually being involved in a real war seems to have sobered him up somewhat.
#15055909
@Potemkin

Potemkin wrote:Actually being involved in a real war seems to have sobered him up somewhat.


OHHHHHHH That is the quote of a lifetime right there Potemkin. Being involved in a REAL war in REAL fighting will sober up any man more than most people will ever know or ever appreciate. It will put you in check and grow you up fast, if you aren't killed in action first.
#15055982
Merry Christmas, everyone!

December 25, Wednesday

It is a busy Christmas Day in the White House. President Lincoln and his Cabinet meet in the morning for lengthy discussions about the British demands for release of Confederate commissioners Mason and Slidell. As much fun as the Secretary of State must have had building and demolishing his strawman in his response, the Cabinet hotly objects. They can appreciate the brilliance of his performance, but they are being asked to yield—which most of them have sworn not to do. What Lincoln calls “a pretty bitter pill” is for the Cabinet, one member says, “downright gall and wormwood.” When they adjourn this afternoon to spend what is left of the holiday with their families, no agreement has been made.

The Lincolns at Christmas dinner entertain many guests.

The shooting doesn’t stop for the holiday. There is skirmishing at Cherry, western Virginia, near Fort Frederick, Maryland; and a Union expedition near Danville, Missouri.

Off Cape Fear, North Carolina, a blockade runner is taken.

In a sense the war is one year old this night, the anniversary of Anderson moving his eighty-odd men from Moultrie to Fort Sumter.
#15055983
Politics_Observer wrote:OHHHHHHH That is the quote of a lifetime right there Potemkin. Being involved in a REAL war in REAL fighting will sober up any man more than most people will ever know or ever appreciate. It will put you in check and grow you up fast, if you aren't killed in action first.

As the reaction of the Cabinet shows, not everyone’s gotten the message. :eh:
#15056106
Doug64 wrote:As the reaction of the Cabinet shows, not everyone’s gotten the message. :eh:

The Civil War posed an existential threat to the United States, something it had not experienced since the War of 1812 (and probably not even then). Lincoln understood this, and Seward had come to understand it. But most of Lincoln's cabinet didn't seem to have sobered up even a year into the war. This did not bode well....
#15056114
December 26, Thursday

After another Cabinet meeting it is finally agreed that the seizure of Mason and Slidell while en route to Britain and France was illegal and that they will be released by the United States; as one of them writes, “all yielded to the necessity, and unanimously concurred.” The message is sent to Lord Lyons, British minister in Washington, and the crisis is ended. The US government has swallowed its pride and concluded that the Confederate commissioners are a greater danger in their hands than if they are abroad. With the surrender of Mason and Slidell to the British goes another hope of the Confederacy that their struggling nation will be recognized by major foreign powers.

Martial law is proclaimed in St. Louis and in and about all railroads operating in Missouri.

There is an engagement at Chustenahlah, Indian Territory, scene of recent operations by Confederate Amerinds and Texans against pro-Union Creek Amerinds under Opothleyahola. After severe losses the Creeks flee, some of them reaching Kansas after terrible privations.

Brigadier General Philip St. George Cocke, Confederate officer who had distinguished himself earlier in the year, commits suicide at his home in Powhatan County, Virginia.

Over 150 horses die in a fire in the government stables near the Washington Observatory.

At the mouth of the Savannah River a small Confederate flotilla of five ships attack Federal blockaders and force them to move away, but only temporarily.

The last of the three brigades of General Loring’s Army of the Northwest reinforcing General Stonewall Jackson for his expedition against Romney arrive at Jackson’s headquarters at Winchester, Virginia.
#15056195
December 27, Friday

Throughout the North and the South the press spreads the word of the forthcoming release of Confederate commissioners Mason and Slidell. The Trent Affair, to many’s relief and others’ disappointment, is over.

At Hallsville, Missouri, a small skirmish breaks out.

Representative Alfred Ely of New York arrives in Washington from Richmond, Virginia, where he has been a prisoner of war since his capture in July while a civilian watcher at the Battle of Bull Run or Manassas.

The Confederate and Union armies are settling in for winter, building cabins and quarters.
#15056277
December 28, Saturday

Federal forces occupy Beckley or Raleigh Court House, western Virginia; there is fighting at Sacramento, Kentucky, and Mount Zion Church, Missouri. There is a skirmish at Grider’s Ferry on the Cumberland River in Kentucky.
#15056465
December 29, Sunday

There are two days of skirmishing in Clay, Braxton, and Webster counties if western Virginia.

Jeff Thompson’s Confederates operate against Commerce, Missouri, and unsuccessfully attack the steamer City of Alton.

Skirmishing continues in the Indian Territory in the wake of the exodus of the pro-Union Creeks, who are opposed by Choctaws, Chickasaws, and portions of the Seminoles and Cherokees.
#15056614
December 30, Monday

The US government and banks in some leading cities suspend specie payment. This suspension of redeeming paper money for metallic will continue until 1879.
#15056865
December 31, Tuesday

The last night of a climactic year. A troubled President Lincoln, concerned over the lack of action by his Army, finds that Major General McClellan, General-in-Chief, is ill. In effect taking over, he wires General Halleck in Missouri and General Buell in Kentucky, asking if they are acting by mutual arrangement.

From Ship Island a Federal landing party captures Biloxi, Mississippi; destroys a Confederate battery; but does not attempt to hold the town.
#15057112
January 1, Wednesday

At Provincetown, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, the Confederate commissioners Mason and Slidell board the British sloop of war Rinaldo en route to Halifax and Europe. They had been released from Fort Warren in Boston Harbor after the Federal government had acceded to British demands for their release. Slidell will be twenty days late for the appointment he made with his wife when he was removed from the Trent, to meet her in Paris in sixty days. The Trent Affair is finished, but it has left a bad taste.

Presidents Lincoln and Davis open the new year with traditional receptions. In Washington all the Cabinet members, diplomatic corps, justices, and army and navy officers attend, as well as the public. One guest, an Illinois politician, has his pocket picked of more than $50 in gold. In Richmond bands play and thousands grasp President Davis’s hand at the door of his reception room.

President Lincoln, though, receives responses from Generals Halleck and Buell to the telegraphs he sent the previous day. Buell replies that there are no provisions for concerted action; Halleck replies that he knows nothing of Buell’s plans and that he is unable to cooperate in any case. “It is exceedingly discouraging. As everywhere else, nothing can be done,” Lincoln writes on the back of Halleck’s reply, and wires for them to get in touch at once. This same day he goes to the office of Quartermaster General M.C. Meigs. “General, what shall I do?” he groans. “The people are impatient; Chase has no money, and tells me he can raise no more; the General of the Army [McClellan] has typhoid fever. The bottom is out of the tub. What shall I do?”

The question is rhetorical: Lincoln already knows what to do, and even how to do it. Midnight study of strategy texts, plus native common sense and conversation with professionals, has increased his understanding of the military problem. He says in a letter to Buell at this time: “I state my general idea of this war to be that we have greater numbers, and the enemy has the greater facility of concentrating forces upon points of collision; that we must fail, unless we can find some way of making our advantage an over-match of his; and that this can be done by menacing him with superior forces at different points, at the same time; so that we can safely attack, one, or both, if he makes no change; and if he weakens one to strengthen the other, forbear to attack the strengthened one, but seize, and hold the weakened one, gaining so much.”

However, the fact that he knows what to do, and can state it in one hard-breathing sentence, only renders more exasperating the fact that “nothing can be done.” It is a question, Lincoln sees already, of finding the right man to do the job. Already he is looking for a general who will not only believe in his “idea of war,” but will follow it inexorably to the end. And it is becoming increasingly clear that, for all his gifts and his soldiers’ love for him, McClellan is not the man.

In Pennsacola, Florida, the new year is welcomed by a bombardment by Federals on shipping and on Fort Barrancas, and by Confederates on Fort Pickens.

There is a sharp engagement at Port Royal Ferry on the Coosaw River, South Carolina, part of the long-continuing operations by Federals enlarging their main enclave on the south Atlantic coast.

Dayton, Missouri, is virtually destroyed during a skirmish.

The relentless cold of the past few weeks has finally relented, and Stonewall Jackson leads his Confederate force toward Romney, western Virginia. As one man will recall, the day is “springlike in its mildness,” and the troops work up a bit of a sweat and many of them discard their burdensome overcoats and blankets, either depositing them in company wagons or just discarding them along the road. But then a chilling wind whistles out of the northwest, temperatures plunge, snow and sleet fall, and even the men that put their overcoats in the supply wagons find that the train has fallen far behind the marching column. For hundreds of men there will be no greatcoats or blankets this night. The army covers barely eight miles.
#15057250
January 2, Thursday

The President learns General McClellan has very much improved, but not yet back on duty leading the Federal land armies.

General Jackson’s small army resumes its march toward Romney, Virginia, into a thickening blizzard. Some of General Loring’s regiments become hopelessly intermixed while trying to cross an icy bog. Worse yet, the supply wagons fall even further behind. And since most of the men, in the manner of young troops, have long since consumed their marching rations, now hunger is added to their misery. For the second day in a row, they cover barely eight miles.

In the South the Memphis Argus, like many Confederate papers, is beginning to ask why the soldiers are not used and to complain about taxes.
#15057510
January 3, Friday

General Jackson bypasses a crossroad at Unger’s Store that leads west through Bloomery Gap to Romney, instead keeping the troops marching toward Bath. The town is held by about 1,400 Federals who can attack the right flank of any Confederate move against Romney from the east. Jackson intends to at least drive the garrison across the Potomac. At best, he hopes to trap and capture the enemy force, then cross the river to destroy Federal supply depots at Hancock, Maryland, and cut the telegraph lines between Romney and western Maryland. The day is an ordeal, the troops slipping and slithering across the frozen bog that gave them so much trouble the day before. At dusk they finally arrive outside Bath. Jackson orders that his militia move around the flank of a massive ridge named Warm Spring Mountain to cut off enemy troops that might try to escape toward Romney, then orders one of General Loring’s brigades to drive straight into Bath. The march around Warm Spring Mountain proves a maneuver well beyond the militiamen, stopped cold by a few trees the enemy has cut down across their path. The brigade driving on Bath does no better, moving timidly into town, brushing up against Federal skirmishers, and recoiling as if bitten. Jackson sends instructions to charge as if they mean it, only for Loring to countermand the order.

There is also action at Huntersville, western Virginia, and a Federal reconnaissance near Big Bethel, Virginia, as well as a skirmish at Hunnewell, Missouri.

President Davis, aware of Federal troops on Ship Island, Mississippi, writes to the governor of Mississippi that the movement “no doubt is intended against Mobile or New Orleans.”
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