The American Civil War, day by day - Page 32 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15057771
January 4, Saturday

General Jackson’s militia at Bath, Virginia, tries again to get around the west side of Warm Spring Mountain, but the waiting Federals take them by surprise and send them scampering. General Loring’s brigade moving toward Bath stops half a mile from the town when enemy troops are seen on the mountain. With the morning and early afternoon wasted, a disgusted Jackson sends his cavalry galloping into town under one of his staff officers, and follows close behind. They find the town empty, the Federal infantry peaceably departed over the mountain to the west to Romney or northward across the Potomac to Hancock, Maryland. By the time Jackson reaches the Potomac in pursuit darkness is falling and he can do no more than fire a few shells at Hancock from the two guns he has managed to bring up.

There are other skirmishes in the soon-to-be-state at Slane’s Cross Roads, Great Cacapon Bridge, Sir John’s Run, and Alpine Depot.

President Lincoln, as essentially temporary Commander-in-Chief, with McClellan still ill, inquires of General Buell in Kentucky as to the progress of his much desired movement toward and into east Tennessee. Buell somewhat doubts the wisdom of the move, and at times appears to neglect it.
#15057916
January 5, Sunday

Stonewall Jackson demands the Union garrison in Hancock, Maryland, surrender the village within the hour. When the demand is refused, Jackson briefly bombards the village, then orders a bridge constructed across the Potomac two miles upriver.

For a week there are Federal operations in Johnson and La Fayette counties of Missouri with a skirmish at Columbus, Missouri.
#15058120
January 6, Monday

President Lincoln confers with General McClellan, recovering from what has been called typhoid fever, and writes General Buell in Kentucky of his distress over “our friends in East Tennessee,” urging, without ordering, military advance in the area.

The Radical Republicans of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, feeling that they have amassed enough proof of General McClellan’s alleged incompetence of not treason, meet with Lincoln and demand that he order McClellan to advance. In this and subsequent meetings Lincoln will defend his general-in-chief, but he is increasingly disturbed by McClellan’s strange inertia.

General Jackson again bombards Hancock, Maryland, as construction of the bridge across the Potomac continues. In the afternoon he changes his mind, reporting that the Hancock garrison has been reinforced too heavily to be worth the cost of taking.
#15058305
January 7, Tuesday

General Jackson’s forces, turning from Hancock, Maryland, move toward Romney, western Virginia, away from the Potomac. As they move over a treacherous sheet of ice covered by six inches of snow, the temperature drops to 20 degrees below zero.

In eastern Kentucky operations, there is a skirmish near Paintsville and another at Jennie’s Creek, as Federals move slowly forward.

The Federal Department of North Carolina is constituted and will be commanded by Brigadier General Ambrose E. Burnside. General McClellan formally authorizes an amphibious assault on 12-mile-long Roanoke Island, nestled between the North Carolina coast and the Outer Banks north of Hatteras Inlet. Several ports nearby on the mainland are earmarked for occupation as well. The seizure of Roanoke Island would eliminate the Confederate threat to Federal operations along coastal North Carolina and give the Federals great flexibility of movement—troops will be able to land and advance northward against Norfolk and its vital naval base, or southward against the railhead at New Bern and the rail junction at Goldsboro. If Goldsboro can be captured, the railroad supply line from the Deep South to Richmond—and the Confederate army in Virginia—would be severed.
#15058485
January 8, Wednesday

General Jackson’s army staggers into Unger’s Store, Virginia, in woeful condition. One of General Loring’s brigades reports 500 men sick, another 300 sick. With his ranks depleted and with snow and sleet continuing, Jackson has no option but to wait at Unger’s Store while the men rest and the farriers reshod the horses with ice calks, before continuing to Romney.

Federals rout a Confederate camp at Roan’s Tan-Yard on Silver Creek, Missouri, while there is another skirmish at Charleston, Missouri, and a minor affair on the Dry Fork of Cheat River, western Virginia. Near Somerset on Fishing Creek, Kentucky, there is small skirmish, and as the armies are gathering in the area it presages more to come.

President Davis continues to correspond with the various governors, including Claiborne Jackson of Missouri, trying to persuade them that their states are not neglected and that the Confederacy needs manpower.
#15058590
January 9, Thursday

President Lincoln informs General McClellan that neither of the commanders in the West, Halleck or Buell, have met the President’s request to name a day when they will be ready to move. At Cairo, Illinois, however, Grant is preparing a reconnaissance in force into Kentucky toward Columbus.

There is a brief skirmish near Columbus, and another near Pohick Run, Virginia.

Orders go out in St. Louis to have a copy of each newspaper daily sent to the provost marshal for inspection. That city’s Chamber of Commerce has been disrupted by withdrawal of pro-Unionist members.

In the Congress of the United States petitions are continually being issued calling for an end to slavery, and members on the floor are suggesting emancipation, colonization of Blacks, and compensation to owners.
#15058779
January 10, Friday

Grant’s Federal troops in the cold and damp leave the Cairo, Illinois, area and move toward Columbus, Kentucky. Meant largely as a diversionary action to take attention from Union operations toward east Tennessee, Grant leads his men on a dreary, wearisome march with little fighting. By January 21 they will be back in Cairo, mission accomplished, and a lot learned about winter marching.

Farther east in Kentucky, at Middle Creek, near Prestonburg, Federal forces under Brigadier General James A. Garfield advances against Confederates under Humphrey Marshall. Garfield is unable to penetrate the Confederate lines or force them back, but after the engagement both sides retreat, and both claim victory. It is another event in the slow developing Federal drive toward east Tennessee.
In a Confederate command change the Trans-Mississippi District of Department No. 2 is set up under command of Major General Earl Van Dorn. Van Dorn is actually President Davis’s third choice for the position—the new department essentially supersedes the authority of General Sterling Price, the pre-war governor of Missouri, and pro-Price Missourians have objected so strenuously to Davis’s first choice, Colonel Henry Heth of Virginia, that Heth has declined the appointment. So has Davis’s second choice, General Braxton Bragg, who declines to risk his reputation in an area where, he writes, “so much as been lost, and so little done.” Colonel Thomas Snead, Price’s adjutant, will write, “We were delighted [with Van Dorn’s appointment], for he was known to be a fighting man, and we felt sure he would help us regain our state.”

President Lincoln, still anxious over his armies, writes the Secretary of War that he is exceedingly discouraged over the failure to launch an offensive in the West. “As everywhere else, nothing can be done, he says. At the same time the President is considering the problem of Secretary of War Simon Cameron, who has appended a strong anti-slavery statement to his official report without permission. There are repeated charges of corruption in the War Department, and demands for Cameron’s ouster.

On this same day President Lincoln visits the office of his able Quartermaster General, Montgomery C. Meigs, saying, “General, what shall I do? The people are impatient; Chase has no money and tells me ha can raise no more; the General of the Army has typhoid fever. The bottom is out of the tub. What shall I do?” Meigs points out that McClellan has been in bed for three weeks and might be incapacitated for three more, and suggests that Lincoln convene a White House conference. Lincoln does so, meeting with several Cabinet members and two of McClellan’s corps commanders, saying, “If General McClellan does not want to use the Army, I would like to borrow it.” In this and subsequent meetings they discuss possible avenues of attack.

In the US Senate Missouri senators Waldo P. Johnson and Trusten Polk, pro-Confederates, are unanimously expelled.

The first auction of confiscated cotton from Port Royal, South Carolina, is held in New York.
#15058781
Honest Abe wrote:“If General McClellan does not want to use the Army, I would like to borrow it.”

Well put, Mr Lincoln! :lol:
#15058785
Potemkin wrote:Well put, Mr Lincoln! :lol:

Yes, Lincoln is more than a little frustrated with his top general.
#15058788
Doug64 wrote:Yes, Lincoln is more than a little frustrated with his top general.

Indeed. When McClellan ousted Winfield Scott so brusquely, Lincoln probably assumed that he had some brilliant military plan which would bring the war to the Confederacy to end it quickly, and that the old and ailing Scott had to be brushed aside in order to implement that plan. But no, apparently not. McClellan humiliated Winfield Scott in order to take his place and then... did nothing. By this time, Lincoln must have begun to suspect that McClellan had been motivated by nothing more than personal vanity when he forced Winfield Scott's ousting. And when he assured Lincoln that, "I can do it all!", what was that worth? :eh:
#15058794
The sad thing is that when McClellan was brought in, he was exactly what the army at Washington needed—someone that could instill discipline and espirit de corps, and train the mass of recruits into a real army. It was just when it came time to do anything with the army that his flaws became self-evident. If he had had Grant’s fighting qualities added to his organizational genius, the war would have been a lot shorter and Grant would have been not much more than a footnote.
#15058801
Doug64 wrote:The sad thing is that when McClellan was brought in, he was exactly what the army at Washington needed—someone that could instill discipline and espirit de corps, and train the mass of recruits into a real army. It was just when it came time to do anything with the army that his flaws became self-evident. If he had had Grant’s fighting qualities added to his organizational genius, the war would have been a lot shorter and Grant would have been not much more than a footnote.

Indeed. I regard McClellan as a brilliant administrator rather than a brilliant general. For someone who had such an ebullient and bumptious personality, he was astoundingly timid as a military commander. An army is useless unless you actually do something with it, and doing anything in war is fraught with risk.
#15058811
Potemkin wrote:Indeed. I regard McClellan as a brilliant administrator rather than a brilliant general. For someone who had such an ebullient and bumptious personality, he was astoundingly timid as a military commander. An army is useless unless you actually do something with it, and doing anything in war is fraught with risk.

It was more than that, McClellan had charisma, probably more than any other Union general of the War. The Army of the Potomac would have marched into Hell for him, and he would have gone down as one of history’s most brilliant leaders if he had been willing to, you know, lead.
#15058815
Doug64 wrote:It was more than that, McClellan had charisma, probably more than any other Union general of the War. The Army of the Potomac would have marched into Hell for him, and he would have gone down as one of history’s most brilliant leaders if he had been willing to, you know, lead.

I didn't realise that. As the Bard put it, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." McClellan had greatness thrust upon him, but fumbled and dropped the catch. Lol.
#15058982
Potemkin wrote:I didn't realise that. As the Bard put it, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." McClellan had greatness thrust upon him, but fumbled and dropped the catch. Lol.

:lol: That pretty much sums it up.

January 11, Saturday

A fleet of about a hundred vessels carrying troops under Union Brigadier General Ambrose E. Burnside sails from Hampton Roads, Virginia, for the coast of North Carolina. The navy squadron is under command of Commodore Louis M. Goldsborough. Forces number about fifteen thousand and poses a new threat to the already severely intruded Southern coast. The ships carrying the troops are a motley collection of river barges, sailing vessels, commercial steamers, and armed tugs. There had actually been problems embarking the troops for the trip down to Hampton Roads—rather than ask General McClellan for troops from his army, Burnside has recruited from the seacoast towns of New England and the Middle Atlantic states, and many of them were fishermen and merchant sailors; they know that the vessels’ shallow drafts might enable them to cross the sea-washed sandbar at the entrance to Pamlico Sound behind Hatteras Inlet, but they could easily founder in the gales so common along the Atlantic coast. To quiet the men, just before departure General Burnside transfers from the George Peabody, one of the largest and safest of the transports, to the tiny armed steamer Picket, the smallest vessel in the flotilla.

Out west there is a brief clash of gunboats near Fort Jefferson north of Columbus, Kentucky, on the Mississippi.

In Washington President Lincoln accepts the public resignation of Secretary of War Simon Cameron writes the President that he has long wished to resign, and the President appears relieved. But underneath the change are charges of contract fraud, overactive politics, and incompetence in the management of the War Department. Cameron, while probably reasonably honest personally, is a Pennsylvania politician who could never forget his friends and associations. Few have been satisfied with War Department operations.

In an attempt to take action regarding the stalled armies in Virginia, at President Lincoln’s request a group of major officers in Washington confer on the possibility of a move in Virginia.
#15059120
January 12, Sunday

From this day to the twenty-third the Thirty-seventh Ohio Infantry carries out an expedition to Logan Court House and the Guyandotte Valley of western Virginia, opposed by Confederate guerillas.
#15059188
January 13, Monday

In the Shenandoah Valley General Jackson’s cavalry report that the enemy, against all expectations and having grossly overestimated Jackson’s strength, has abandoned Romney.

The Federal seaborne expedition under Brigadier General A.E. Burnside arrives at Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina, and the general assumes command of the Department of North Carolina, but foul weather will hold up his intended invasion for some time.

In Washington it is a busy day for President Lincoln. The Cabinet meets in the morning, and the President indicates he will name prominent Washington attorney and former Attorney General under Buchanan Edwin M. Stanton as Secretary of War. Stanton, a native of Ohio, is to supersede resigned Simon Cameron. At the same time the President sends to the Senate the nomination of Cameron as Minister to Russia, replacing legendary Cassius Marcellus Clay.

General McClellan gets wind that something is going on behind his back, struggles out of his sickbed, and shows up at the White House looking pale, thin, and angry, for the next council of generals, Cabinet members, and Lincoln. He sits silent through most of the meeting, and when challenged by the Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon Chase, to reveal his plans, he refuses, stating that some of those present “were incompetent to form a valuable opinion, and others incapable of keeping a secret.” He does indicate that he has a fixed schedule, but doesn’t say what it is. At this Lincoln—relieved that McClellan is back in the saddle—adjourns the meeting. But the general has made a powerful enemy of Chase, and has also irritated Seward, Meigs, and Postmaster General Montgomery Blair.

Writing generals Buell and Halleck in the West, the President indicates his desire for action on all fronts against the enemy and points up the strategy of “menacing him with superior forces at different points, at the same time.”
#15059333
January 14, Tuesday

General Jackson arrives in Romney late in the day, in driving sleet. General Loring’s brigades will take two days longer; one regiment will manage to move only 500 yards in a day.

Three Federal gunboats move down the Mississippi to Columbus, Kentucky, throwing shells into Confederate encampments.

Grant’s reconnaissance into Kentucky operates near Blandville.
#15059505
January 15, Wednesday

The US Senate confirms Edwin M. Stanton as Secretary of War. Stanton, an energetic, tireless worker, is known to have uttered statements derogatory to President Lincoln. The new Secretary is also known to be a friend of General McClellan, and soon he will become one of the most controversial figures of the war. There are, and will be, those who feel he is crafty, dishonest, arbitrary, and unfit for his position. There are, and will be, those who feel that, arbitrary though he is, he is a tower of strength for the Union and for President Lincoln, and that Federal victory will owe much to Stanton.

On the Tennessee River a Federal gunboat reconnaissance operates January 15-25, going almost as far as Fort Henry just below the Kentucky-Tennessee line. The operation is in conjunction with Grant’s overland operations from Cairo.

In Missouri there are Federal expeditions to Benton, Bloomfield, and Dallas until the seventeenth.
#15059625
January 16, Thursday

General Jackson reports with some satisfaction that his expedition against Romney has cost him only four men killed and 28 wounded. He now prepares to take up winter quarters. One militia brigade will be stationed at Bath to guard against a Federal crossing from Hancock. Another will be posted at Martinsburg on the lookout for an enemy incursion from that direction. Loring’s brigades will remain at Romney to ensure the security of the South Branch Valley. And the Stonewall Brigade will return to Winchester, where it will be within supporting range of all the outposts.

Federal naval forces descend on the harbor and village of Cedar Keys, Florida, and burn seven small blockade runners and coastal vessels, a pier, and some railroad flatcars before withdrawing.

In Kentucky Confederate forces, encamped near Beech Grove with their backs to the Cumberland River to their south, hear reports of Federal advances under George H. Thomas, but do nothing about it. The Confederates under Brigadier General Felix K. Zollicoffer had been at Mill Springs, south of the Cumberland, but Zollicoffer, with neither training nor talent in military matters though idolized by his men, has unwisely taken them north of the river. The new commander, Brigadier General George B. Crittenden, has ordered Zollicoffer to retire south of the river, but he has not done so.

In Washington Edwin M. Stanton takes over the Federal War Department with a drive and efficiency that startles those used to the previous slipshod management. From the beginning Stanton is going to be a hard but generally just man to deal with, though there will be issues. In appointing Stanton, President Lincoln assumes that he will get along well with the general in chief. McClellan thinks so, too, considering Stanton a friend and calling his appointment “a most unexpected piece of good fortune.” But no sooner will Stanton move into his new post then he will change positions and political coloration, becoming inaccessible to McClellan and making such declarations as, “The champagne and oysters on the Potomac must be stopped,” and “I will force this man McClellan to fight.”
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