The American Civil War, day by day - Page 43 - Politics | PoFo

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July 7, Monday

Military action on the James is relatively light as both North and South rest and repair their weary ranks. Meanwhile, General Pope has wasted no time since his arrival from the West before stoking the fires of controversy over the fate of McClellan and his army. He joins Stanton’s anti-McClellan cabal and disparages McClellan immoderately in frequent talks with Lincoln. Testifying before the Republican-controlled Committee on the Conduct of the War, he criticizes McClellan for his conduct of the Peninsula Campaign; Pope brands McClellan’s retreat to the James an egregious blunder, since it has permitted General Lee to interpose his army between McClellan’s force and Washington. Despite the considerable merit of his charges, Pope’s position is tainted with cynical self-interest—he stands to gain such troops and prestige as McClellan loses.

President Lincoln has listened attentively to both sides in the rancorous debate and decided to go down to Harrison’s Landing and appraise the situation firsthand. He arrives today aboard the Navy steamer Ariel. One chaplain will write that while the President looks ludicrous reviewing the troops on horseback—“It did seem as though every moment the President’s legs would become entangled with those of the horse and both come down together.”—he is universally popular with the soldiers. McClellan disagrees, writing to his wife, Nellie, that Lincoln is received unenthusiastically by the army; that he has to order the men to cheer and that they do so feebly.

In spite of being plagued by the pro-Union bushwhackers that abound in the East Tennessee mountains, Colonel Morgan’s cavalry have been able to make the 104-mile ride from Knoxville across the Cumberland Plateau to Sparta, Tennessee. Here, as General Smith and Colonel Morgan have expected, the people are sympathetic to the Confederate cause; new recruits flock to join Morgan’s raiders. Among the volunteers is a guerrilla named Champ Ferguson, who has earned a reputation for barbaric treatment of prisoners. One of Morgan’s men will write of Ferguson: “Ill-treatment of his wife and daughter by some soldiers and Home-guards enlisted in his own neighborhood made him relentless in his hatred of all Union men. He had a brother of the same character as himself in the Union army, and they sought each other persistently, mutually bent on fratricide. The mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee were filled with such men, who murdered every prisoner they took.”

Morgan is eager to move on with his brigade, now number 1,100 men, to Tompkinsville, Kentucky, 90 miles to the northwest. Doubtless he relishes the idea of taking Tompkinsville, because he knows that the town is defended by a battalion of the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry commanded by Major Thomas Jefferson Jordan. Back in May, these same Pennsylvanians occupied the Kentucky village of Lebanon and insulted the women there with vulgar language and advised them that the only way to preserve their virtue was, as Jordan put it, “to sew up the bottoms of their petticoats.”

At Chattanooga, Confederate General Kirby Smith sends a confidential letter to General Stevenson outlining his intention to outflank General Morgan’s 10,000-man army in the Cumberland Gap and drive into Kentucky. But he isn’t yet ready to reveal his plan to anyone else.

There are skirmishes at Inman Hollow and Newark, Missouri. Other operations include a Federal reconnaissance from Yorktown, Virginia, July 7-9; and in Aransas Bay, Texas, July 7-17.
July 8, Tuesday

President Lincoln spends the day sounding out senior officers about the disposition of the Army of the Potomac. Corps commanders William Franklin and Erasmus Keyes, as well as division commander John Newton and Chief Engineer John Barnard, recommend withdrawal. The other corps commanders—Fitz-John Porter, Samuel Heintzelman, and Edwin Sumner—want to stay and attack Richmond. So does General McClellan, of course, but to Lincoln’s dismay the general presents no concrete strategy and continues his excessive demands for reinforcements. To make things worse, he attempts to enlarge the scope of his influence by handing the President a long, annoying letter on political as well as military policy, and he tries to limit the war to opposing armies and political organizations. Military operations should not interfere with slavery, he writes the President in what will come to be known as the “Harrison’s Bar letter.”

Now that things are settling down, the first order of business for General Lee is to repair his battered army. Concluding that McClellan’s encampment at Harrison’s Landing is unassailable under the guns of US warships anchored in the James River, Lee begins pulling his army back toward Richmond, leaving behind only a handful of cavalrymen to warn of any menacing Federal movement. In and around Richmond, the Confederate units are refurbished with tenting and gear from captured Federal stores. There Lee undertakes his main task: a thorough reorganization of his army, whose command structure proved dangerously inadequate during the Seven Days’ Battles. No less than 11 Confederate divisions fought in those battles. Too numerous for Lee to control in action, they tended to behave like little armies, with little coordination between them. Lee means to make the divisions work in harness and be more responsive to his orders by establishing several corps. However, to accomplish this he will have to circumvent a Confederate law that effectively prohibits the formation of any unit larger than a division. This law, which has been conceived primarily as a states’ rights measure to maintain the authority of governors over units recruited from their states, caused no serious difficulty until the small, scattered actions of the early War escalated into massive campaigns.

Lee begins working behind the scenes to get the constraining law repealed, but won’t achieve this until November. But without waiting for official sanction, he divides his Army of Northern Virginia into two commands, which he carefully avoids calling corps. They will sometimes be referred to as “wings,” but Lee will prefer the entirely unspecific title “command.” He chooses James Longstreet to lead one command, assigning him five divisions, and Stonewall Jackson to lead the other command of two divisions (perhaps because of Jackson’s notorious reluctance to communicate with his subordinates). Lee temporarily retains under his personal direction the division of A.P. Hill. The loose but effective arrangements of his cavalry is regularized, under the overall command of the flamboyant Jeb Stuart, now a major general. Along with these structural changes, Lee reappraises his commanders down to the brigade level and weeds out those he considers inadequate or ill-suited to a flexible, hard-hitting army.

Through it all, Lee repeatedly has to act as peacemaker in quarrels between certain proud and hot-tempered generals whom he wants to keep. Perhaps the most sensational dispute will be touched off when the Richmond Examiner publishes a glowing account of A.P. Hill’s action at Frayser’s Farm. Longstreet, Hill’s superior in that battle, takes offense and has his adjutant write a rejoinder for the rival Richmond Whig. The article so incenses Hill that he refuses to speak to Longstreet, who has him arrested for insubordination. When they arrange a duel, Lee intercedes and stops the fight.

Lee is not by nature a patient man, but he now has the self-control to play a waiting game. His desire to quiet his temperamental generals and to test his revamped army doesn’t prompt him to rush into battle. He keeps watching for an enemy attack, and for the right time and place to launch his own modest offensive.

There is skirmishing at Orient Ferry or Black Run, Arkansas, and Pleasant Hill, Missouri.
Last edited by Doug64 on 07 Jul 2020 16:56, edited 1 time in total.
Perhaps the most sensational dispute will be touched off when the Richmond Examiner publishes a glowing account of A.P. Hill’s action at Frayser’s Farm. Longstreet, Hill’s superior in that battle, takes offense and has his adjutant write a rejoinder for the rival Richmond Whig. The article so incenses Hill that he refuses to speak to Longstreet, who has him arrested for insubordination. When they arrange a duel, Lee intercedes and stops the fight.

The 19th century. :lol:
Potemkin wrote:The 19th century. :lol:

True, these days we use tweets at twenty paces. ;)
Doug64 wrote:True, these days we use tweets at twenty paces. ;)

Indeed so, indeed so. :)
July 9, Wednesday

Morgan’s brigade of Confederate cavalry reach Tompkinsville and quickly surround the 400 Federal troops that hastily deployed on a thickly wooded hill. After a brief flurry of musketry, Major Jordan surrenders. All the Federal prisoners except Jordan are paroled; presumably for his offense against Southern womanhood, Jordan is sent to prison in Richmond. When Morgan’s force reaches the Louisville & Nashville telegraph line, 30 miles north of Tompkinsville, George Ellsworth taps the wire and begins spreading the false information that Morgan intends to strike all the way to the Ohio River and attack Louisville and Cincinnati. The bogus reports will be widely believed, with alarms raised throughout the Ohio River valley and panic spread through Cincinnati and Louisville. To fuel the fear, Morgan marches to the banks of the Ohio northeast of Louisville.

Union forces capture Hamilton, North Carolina. There is a skirmish at Lotspeich Farm, near Wadesburg, Missouri; a Federal reconnaissance on the Long Branch Road, Virginia; and a Southern expedition to Fenwick’s Island, South Carolina. On this day and the tenth Northern troops demonstrate against Pocotaligo, South Carolina.

Public meetings are held in England asking the government to use its influence to bring about a reconciliation in America.
July 10, Thursday

Federals in Virginia carry out a reconnaissance from Harrison’s Landing on the James toward White Oak Swamp, and fight a skirmish.

On this day and the eleventh there is a Federal expedition under a flag of truce to Guntown, Mississippi, where Southern and Northern officers exchange dispatches and newspapers and discuss in a friendly manner topics of the day.

Confederate John Hunt Morgan calls for citizens of Kentucky to “rise and arm, and drive the Hessian invaders from their soil.”

Ninety Confederate guerrillas drilling in a field between Gallatin and Hartsville, Tennessee, are captured by Union forces.

General Kirby Smith again warns General Bragg that General Buell’s Union Army of the Ohio is drawing close and then, as if the threat to Chattanooga is no longer his concern, announces, “I am mobilizing my command for movement on General Morgan or into Middle Tennessee, as the circumstances may demand.”

General John Pope has been making only slow progress in assembling his Army of Virginia. He has ordered his three corps to concentrate east of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the strategic area along the Orange & Alexandria railroad line between Warrenton and Culpeper Court House. But his scattered units are hard to supervise and bring together. He also stirs a storm in the South by issuing controversial orders that go well beyond the rigors of martial law, ruling that in the Shenandoah Valley and throughout the area of operations of his Army of Virginia the people will be held responsible for injury to railroads and attacks upon trains or straggling soldiers. In case of guerrilla damage, citizens will be held responsible financially, and if a Federal soldier is fired upon from any house, it will be razed. People detected in acts against the army will be shot without civil process.
July 11, Friday

Major General Henry W. Halleck is named General-in-Chief of all US land forces by President Lincoln. Halleck has been commander in the West during Grant’s successful campaigns, and was field commander at the capture of Corinth, Mississippi. He is considered a top-grade administrator with a sound military mind. Now, Halleck summons Grant to Corinth and tells him that he is leaving, and adds, “This place will be your headquarters.” This seems to augur increased responsibilities for Grant.

There is quiet in Virginia on the Peninsula except for another Federal reconnaissance from Harrison’s Landing beyond Charles City Court House. Missouri state militia fight Confederate guerrillas at Sears’ House and Big Creek Bluffs near Pleasant Hill, Missouri.

A new Union commander, Brigadier General Thomas T. Crittenden, takes charge of the 1,400-man brigade garrisoning Murfreesboro. Crittenden realizes immediately that his defenses have to be improved—the brigade is widely scattered and inefficiently led—but as there has not been a Confederate force closer than Chattanooga since February, he decides that he has plenty of time. Meanwhile, this evening Federal cavalry sweep into Woodbury, 18 miles east of Murfreesboro, arrest nearly all of the male residents, charge them with being Confederate sympathizers and spies, and in the morning take them to jail at Murfreesboro.

The Federal congressional act to carry into effect the treaty with Great Britain for suppression of the African slave trade is approved by the President.
July 12, Saturday

General Pope is tired of waiting and decides to act. He has nothing ostentatious in mind, just a follow-up to orders he has already given. He orders General Banks’s corps to advance to Culpeper Court House on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. This move would threaten Gordonsville 27 miles to the southeast, and Gordonsville is a vital junction. There the Orange & Alexandria intersects with the Virginia Central line, which links Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley. Banks orders a vanguard of cavalry under Brigadier General John P. Hatch to tear up the tracks of the Virginia Central east of Gordonsville. General Lee at Richmond learns of Pope’s orders to Banks this same day.

Late this night, Colonel Bedford Forrest halts his column in Woodbury, Tennessee, 18 miles east of Murfreesboro. By now his brigade has swelled to 1,400 men, most of them regiments from Texas and Georgia. Various additional companies and battalions of Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky troopers not assigned to regiments have joined Forrest en route. The men have never fought together as a brigade, but they have followed Forrest willingly across 100 miles of rugged mountain terrain in six days. The townsfolk of Woodbury are overjoyed to see Forrest’s troops and inform him of the arrest of nearly all the male residents the previous evening. They claim that six of the prisoners are to be hanged in the morning. With no hesitation, Forrest promises that he will prevent the executions.

Morgan and his Confederate raiders capture Lebanon, Kentucky. There is excitement in Cincinnati, Ohio; and in Frankfurt, Lexington; and Louisville, Kentucky; over reports that Morgan’s men are coming.

President Lincoln appeals to border-state congressmen at the White House to support compensated emancipation of slaves.

General Samuel Curtis’ Federal army arrives at Helena on the Mississippi River after marching across Arkansas.

It is reported that the city of New Orleans, while suffering under the virtual dictatorship of Benjamin Butler and Federal occupation forces, is cleaner than ever “in the memory of the oldest inhabitant” and was “never more healthy at this season of the year.”

Federal troops carry out an expedition July 12-16 from Decatur, Alabama, to lend support to unionists of north Alabama.
July 13, Sunday

Before dawn, Colonel Forrest sends Colonel Wharton and a detachment of his 8th Texas Cavalry on a reconnaissance toward Murfreesboro. They return an hour later with fifteen captured Federal pickets, who admit that the Murfreesboro garrison has no inkling of Forrest’s presence. They also disclose that the Federals have one camp just west of town and another even farther west on the bank of Stones River. Forrest issues orders for an attack at first light. Wharton will engage the Federals encamped on the outskirts of town. Meanwhile, part of the 2nd Georgia under Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Hood will dash into the center of town to seize the jail and free the men from Woodbury. The remainder of the 2nd Georgia and part of the 8th Texas will take the courthouse and other key buildings, including General Crittenden’s headquarters at the hotel. Another column will circle the town to the west to cut off any advance from the Federal encampment on the river.

With first light, Wharton’s cavalrymen charge into the Federal camp near town, taking a detail of the 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry completely by surprise and stampeding the dismounted troopers into the nearby tents of Colonel William W. Duffield’s 9th Michigan Infantry. Despite the confusion, Duffield is able to form a line of battle, steady his men, and open fire. Now it is the Texans’ turn to be driven back. In the exchange of fire, both Wharton and Duffield go down with serious wounds. Duffield’s replacement, Lieutenant Colonel John G. Parkhurst, fears that his Federals cannot withstand a second assault in their present position. He orders a hasty retreat to the cover of a nearby wooden fence, with the men adding further protection by overturning supply wagons behind it. The wagons are barely in place when Lieutenant Colonel John C. Walker, who has taken over from Wharton, redeploys the Confederates and opens a hot fire on the Federals to keep them pinned down.

Meanwhile, Morrison and Hood lead a pell-mell charge into Murfreesboro. The prisoners in jail hear the rescuers coming, including Confederate Army Captain William Richardson, an escapee from a prisoner-of-war camp who was arrested traveling in civilian clothes and has been condemned as a spy. While some of the raiders besiege the jail, others quickly overrun the hotel, capturing General Crittenden and his staff. Nearby, a company of Michigan soldiers barricade themselves inside the courthouse and opens fire on the Confederate attackers. The raiders charge the building from all sides as some of their numbers break down the front door with an improvised ram. The Confederates swarm inside and quickly capture the defenders. At the jail, the situation is precarious. The jail guards, realizing that they can’t escape, nevertheless do not intend to surrender their prisoners alive; they try to shoot the Confederates in their cells. Captain Richardson and the others survive only by cringing into a nook in a forward corner of the cell where the guards can’t bring their guns to bear. But the captives are far from safe. Before leaving the jail, one of the Federal guards lights a bundle of papers and shoves them beneath the flooring. By the time the Southern riders reach them the fire is already under good headway and the jailer has fled with the keys. The rescuers pry at a heavy metal door, managing to bend it enough to extricate the prisoners. Just as they escape the burning building, Colonel Forrest rides up.

Meanwhile, Colonel Lawton has run into trouble to the west of town. The sound of gunfire has awakened Colonel Henry C. Lester in the Federal camp on Stones River, about a mile and a half from town. Lester forms the 3rd Minnesota Infantry and the Kentucky Light Battery into a column and heads for the fighting. In a tree-bordered cornfield near the town, the Federals run into Lawton’s waiting Confederates. Lester shells the Confederates, forcing them to pull back into the tree line on the east side of the field. Lawton and his men are stalled there under fire when Forrest rides up. Sizing up the situation, he orders the 1st Georgia, along with a Tennessee and a Kentucky company, to ride around the Federals and burn their camp on the river.

It is now 11 am, and some of Forrest’s officers begin to worry about Federal reinforcements arriving by train from Nashville. They propose a withdrawal. “I didn’t come here to make half a job of it,” Forrest snaps. “I’m going to have them all.” He devises a ruse. While his designated units circle Lester’s position and attack and set fire to the westernmost Federal camp, Forrest rides back to where Colonel Parkhurst’s troops lie pinned down behind their wagons and sends in a flag of truce. Forrest claims to have captured all the other Federal troops in the area and demands Parkhurst’s surrender, adding that if his raiders have to attack they will take no prisoners. Parkhurst, thinking he is the last to hold out, surrenders at noon. Forrest immediately returns to his troops at the cornfield and prepares another bluff. Ordering his men to march back and forth in order to inflate their actual numbers in the eyes of the enemy, Forrest sends an intimidating note to Colonel Lester demanding his unconditional surrender and threatening to take no prisoners. Thoroughly intimidated, Lester surrenders his 450 men and four guns. With that, Forrest has them all—1,200 prisoners, 50 wagons and teams, a battery of artillery and about a quarter of a million dollars’ worth of assorted supplies. Before leaving, he destroys the railroad depot and tears up the track near town. Since the loot is more than his troops can carry, Forrest makes a deal with some of the prisoners: They will help haul the goods to McMinnville, and he will parole them to their homes.

General Buell, hearing of the wholesale surrender at Murfreesboro, is outraged. But he has much greater problems. Lacking tight security at the many outposts along his extended line of supply and lacking the cavalry with which to chase down the raiders, he will be forced yet again to delay his advance on Chattanooga to deal with the threats to his rear. He sends Brigadier General William (Bull) Nelson with a 3,500-man division to Murfreesboro to stop Forrest, repair the railroad there, and keep it open.

This morning, at the risk of leaving the Richmond defenses with less than half as many troops as General McClellan’s Army of the Potomac to the south, General Lee orders Stonewall Jackson to rush his two divisions north to Gordonsville to oppose Banks’s ordered advance—an advance that hasn’t started yet, as General Hatch is still assembling artillery and supply wagons for what is supposed to be a lightning strike.

Union forces destroy the railroad bridge over the Rapidan River at Rapidan Station, Virginia, during a skirmish. Another skirmish is fought near Wolf River, Tennessee.

Lincoln and McClellan continue their correspondence over how many men McClellan has and whether he can take Richmond. Lincoln has increasing doubts about his evasive commander on the Peninsula.

On the Grand River in Indian Territory, in the idleness and heat, the morale of Weer’s Federals plummet and their supplies run low. Suddenly a combined force of Texans, Chickasaws, and Choctaws led by Colonel Douglas H. Cooper—belatedly ordered north by General Albert Pike—appear in their front, across the Arkansas River. With guerrillas in Missouri threatening their rear and Cooper’s force in front of them, Weer’s officers become restive. Finally, they mutiny. Prussian-born Colonel Frederick Salomon of the 9th Wisconsin Volunteers, a mostly German-born regiment, arrests the inebriated Weer and assumes command. Salomon leaves the three Amerind regiments to patrol the northern part of the Territory and starts his White troops back toward Kansas, taking along John Ross, who rides with his entourage in a caravan of carriages that also holds the boxed-up treasury and archives of the Cherokee nation. Many of the refugee Amerinds, their hopes dashed, trudge along, heading back to more months of miserable exile in Kansas.

Ross’s capture plunges the Cherokee country into chaos. In the wake of the Federals’ retreat, a reign of terror breaks out. The shaky alliance between the pro-Confederate Cherokee and the Northern sympathizers unravels completely, and each side seeks vengeance against the other, resulting in murdered families, burned homes, destroyed crops, and slaughtered herds of livestock. Unable to police the region, the three Union Amerind regiments withdraw to Kansas, leaving the Territory once again in the hands of Confederate Amerinds. The secessionist Cherokee quickly name Stand Watie in Ross’s place, triggering the flight of a new wave of frightened pro-Union Amerinds to the already crowded refugee camps in Kansas.
July 14, Monday

Federal General John Pope has moved his newly created Army of Virginia between the Confederates and Washington in order to draw the pressure from McClellan on the Peninsula. Now he issues a bombastic address to his troops calling for offensive action and an advance against the enemy: “I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies.” This doesn’t make the best impression with the soldiers of his new command, however; the men, many of whom are veterans of the tough fighting in the Shenandoah Valley against the forces of Stonewall Jackson, resent such condescending talk.

At Yazoo City, Mississippi, Naval Lieutenant Brown starts the CSS Arkansas down the Yazoo River toward Vicksburg. There is little time to waste. The level of the river is going down, as it often does during the summer, and the Arkansas, drawing 13 feet, is in danger of being trapped. Moreover, Farragut’s fleet is anchored in the Mississippi above Vicksburg, and Brown isn’t sure how much longer it will present such an inviting target. On the trip downriver, the boiler of the Arkansas springs a leak and soaks one of the powder magazines. Brown pulls in to shore for a day to dry everything off in the sun—“expecting the enemy every moment.”

General Kirby Smith sends a long letter to President Davis detailing the dispositions and organization of his troops around Chattanooga, but not his intention to invade Kentucky. He warns Davis that Buell’s army constitutes “an overwhelming force, that cannot be resisted except by Bragg’s cooperation.”

There are skirmishes near Batesville and Helena, Arkansas. A Federal reconnaissance operates July 14-17 from Grand River to Fort Gibson, Tahlequah and Park Hill, Indian Territory.

Confederate Adjutant General Samuel Cooper puts the conscription law into stricter operation.

President Lincoln, in a message to Congress, asks for an act to compensate “any State which may abolish slavery within it’s [sic] limits.” He thus continues his attempt to deal with the slavery issue while still favoring compensated emancipation on a state-control basis.

An act setting up a system of pensions for men disabled in service since the start of the war and for next of kin in case of death is signed into law.

Twenty border-state representatives and senators reply that they oppose President Lincoln’s plan of compensated emancipation presented to them July 12. Tomorrow seven congressmen will reply in support of the appeal.

The US Senate passes a bill granting secession of western Virginia from Virginia and creating a new state. This is actually a violation of the Constitution, which requires that any such action have the approval of the state from which the new state is seceding, but no one of importance in Washington much cares.
President Lincoln, in a message to Congress, asks for an act to compensate “any State which may abolish slavery within it’s [sic] limits.” He thus continues his attempt to deal with the slavery issue while still favoring compensated emancipation on a state-control basis.


The US Senate passes a bill granting secession of western Virginia from Virginia and creating a new state. This is actually a violation of the Constitution, which requires that any such action have the approval of the state from which the new state is seceding, but no one of importance in Washington much cares.

Interesting that Lincoln was still bending over backwards to respect states' rights on the issue of emancipation, while the Senate was riding roughshod over states' right (secessionist states, it's true, but all the same...).
@Potemkin Yeah, no one’s much concerned about the rights of a state that’s in open rebellion. OTOH, having majorities—or even larger minorities—in Kentucky and Maryland turn against the Union would be catastrophic. Especially right now.
Doug64 wrote:@Potemkin Yeah, no one’s much concerned about the rights of a state that’s in open rebellion. OTOH, having majorities—or even larger minorities—in Kentucky and Maryland turn against the Union would be catastrophic. Especially right now.

And Lincoln seems to have been acutely aware of this, whereas the Senate seems not to have had the same concerns....
@Potemkin I don’t think Lincoln, or any other Republicans, were all that worried that creating West Virginia would scare off Union supporters in Kentucky and Maryland. After all, the majority in West Virginia is sticking with the Union as well, and it doesn’t impact the bottom line of those loyal slave owners. Threats to their “property,” OTOH ...
Doug64 wrote:@Potemkin I don’t think Lincoln, or any other Republicans, were all that worried that creating West Virginia would scare off Union supporters in Kentucky and Maryland. After all, the majority in West Virginia is sticking with the Union as well, and it doesn’t impact the bottom line of those loyal slave owners. Threats to their “property,” OTOH ...

Indeed. Money, as usual, trumps all other concerns.... Lol.
July 15, Tuesday

On the Yahoo River north of Vicksburg, Lieutenant Brown’s fears that the enemy is on their way are sound—word of his ambitious engineering project has reached Federal ears, and today three craft have been dispatched up the Yazoo to investigate: the speedy ram Queen of the West; the light gunboat Tyler; and the powerful ironclad gunboat Carondelet, captained by Henry Walke, a longtime friend of Brown’s in the prewar Navy. The three Union boats are steaming up the river in line when they see the CSS Arkansas steaming towards them and quickly realize that they are at a disadvantage. The Queen of the West, unarmed and unarmored, turns tail and heads back downstream, followed by the other two boats. They prove to be slower than the Arkansas, which opens fire as soon as it comes into range.

The Federals fight back fiercely. In the spirited exchange, Lieutenant Brown suffers two head wounds and his pilot is mortally wounded. The Federals also suffer, the Carondelet, hit in her steering mechanism, running aground and fired into once more as the Arkansas passes her in pursuit of the others. But the Arkansas is now suddenly losing power. When the firing stops—both the Queen and the Tyler pulling ahead—Brown has time to take stock and finds that the pipe connecting the furnace to the smokestack has been shot away and flames are pouring into the boat’s main cabin. There is barely enough steam pressure for steerageway, but the current is carrying the Arkansas in the right direction and Brown continues on his course, steaming out of the mouth of the Yahoo and into the Mississippi ten miles north of Vicksburg.

The Federal fleet is lying at anchor on both sides of the river. The Federals have no steam up except for one vessel, and are caught by surprise when the Arkansas sweeps down on them. Finding himself in a forest of masts and smokestacks, Brown lets go with all his guns, firing rapidly “to every point of the circumference without fear of hitting a friend or missing an enemy.” The Arkansas is moving too slowly to be used as a ram, but her guns are enough. Only once does Brown take aim with his ship’s prow, and then the boiler of the enemy vessel explodes before the Arkansas can strike. The Union vessels can’t maneuver, but they can still fire their cannon and the air is full of shells, hitting the Arkansas continually. Most of the Federal projectiles ricochet harmlessly off the sloping armor or cross the river to strike friendly vessels. But a few shots strike home with devastating effect, smashing the pilothouse, riddling the smokestack, and penetrating that armor several times.

At length the Arkansas passes the fleet, and as she slowly limps into the welcome protection of the Vicksburg batteries, the cannonading dies down. It has been a phenomenal exploit—one unknown Confederate officer and his jerry-built vessel tweaking the nose of a top Federal admiral and his whole fleet—and it has been witnessed with indescribable delight by a large audience of townspeople. Nevertheless, as the battered Arkansas draws into the Vicksburg docks and the carnage on its decks are seen the cheering dies down. The Arkansas has suffered twelve killed and eighteen wounded, and because she is a relatively small boat, the evidence of the human damage is widespread and chilling. The Federals have fared much worse; they count seventeen dead and 42 wounded. The Arkansas has disabled one vessel and scored hits on many others; every wooden ship in Farragut’s fleet has taken at least one hit. Worst of all for the Federals is the humiliation they have suffered. Admiral Farragut, sleeping late this morning, tumbled out of his bunk at the sound of gunfire and watched the whole affair in his nightshirt, and he is furious. His own flagship is one of those damaged; his self-esteem has been damaged even more, and he swears vengeance.

In fact, he tries to even the score this very day, ordering the fleet to sail immediately past Vicksburg. At sunset the vessels run the batteries once more and this time blast away at the Confederate ram as they go by, while “the batteries from the hills, the mortars from above and below, and the ironclads keep the air alive with hurtling missiles and the darkness lighted up by burning fuses and bursting shells.” But the Arkansas, her sides colored dark red by rust on the iron rails protecting her, makes a difficult target against the red clay of the bluffs, and she suffers only minor damage. Farragut, however, loses five men killed and nine wounded; the gunboat Winona is disabled and has to be run ashore to keep her from sinking.

In Virginia, after three days of frantic roundup of railroad cars, Stonewall Jackson’s two divisions of 18,000 troops pile onto 18 trains of 15 cars each to depart to defend Gordonsville from General Bank’s threatened advance. By now, General Hatch’s cavalry, artillery, and supply wagons are crawling toward Gordonsville.

Federal cavalry defeat Confederates in an action near Fayetteville, Arkansas. There are skirmishes at Orange Court House and Middletown, Virginia; and Wallace’s Cross Roads, Tennessee.

In New Mexico Territory, a company of Union soldiers commanded by Captain Thomas Roberts is scouting the advance of the main body of the California Column, checking the waterholes to make sure there is enough water along the route, when it is ambushed at Apache Pass by 500 Apache warriors under Mangas Coloradas and Cochise. (Geronimo will later claim to have been present, but that will never be verified.) The Union soldiers are not in good shape—the infantrymen have walked dozens of miles across the hot Arizona desert, headed for the spring at Apache Pass, now blocked by the well-armed Chiricahua warriors. The Apaches have thrown up defenses, several breastworks made of stone. They have also surprised the invaders with an ambush, waiting until the soldiers come within thirty to eighty yards of their positions before opening fire. Low on water, and realizing a retreat back to Tucson without water can cost him many men, Roberts chooses to fight. At first the Union troops can barely see their attackers. After a few minutes of intense combat Roberts orders retreat, and his force withdraw to the mouth of Apache Pass. His men regroup and unlimber the mountain howitzers for an advance against the Apaches. This is one of the first times the United States Army had been able to use artillery against the Amerinds in the Southwest. Roberts orders his infantry to take the hills overlooking the pass, while he remains in the pass to direct the artillery support. The skirmishers move forward, where they are able to take cover in an abandoned Butterfield Overland Mail station. The soldiers are now about 600 yards from the spring. Overlooking the spring are two hills, one on the east, the other on the south. The Apache riflemen behind the breastworks on the hills are delivering a deadly fire against the attackers. Roberts advances with his howitzers and has them open fire. Their effectiveness is limited by the fact that they are 300 to 400 feet below the Apache defenses. Roberts moves his guns ahead to a better position, all the time under heavy fire. Once the guns are in effective range, the artillery opens fire in earnest. The Apaches hold their positions until nightfall, when they flee, allowing the Union troops to reach the spring. After allowing his tired men to enjoy a meal, Roberts retreats to bring up another detachment. The next morning the Apaches will return, but they will flee once the artillery opens fire on them. A fort will be built and manned to protect the area from further depredations by the Apaches.
July 16, Wednesday

Napoleon III of France receives Confederate commissioner John Slidell, who requests recognition of the Confederacy and aid from warships in breaking the blockade in exchange for cotton.

Confederate Major General Theophilus H. Holmes is assigned to command the Trans-Mississippi Department.

There is a reconnaissance by Federals from Westover, Virginia, on the Richmond Road near the James River.

General Halleck will soon relinquish command to assume his new role as general of all US armies. Command will be given to U.S. Grant, but this leaves Grant less happy than he might have been. First, Halleck has apparently been searching for someone else to take charge of the military district—he has asked Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton if the President has any suggestions, and then, when none are forthcoming, offers the job to his chief quartermaster, Colonel Robert Allen. Only when Allen declines the offer does Halleck give the position to Grant. How much Grant knows about this maneuvering is uncertain, but he can see the result. As a practical matter, he will later write wryly: “I became a department commander because no one was assigned to that position over me.”

Second, Halleck’s first act as general in chief is to cut Grant’s department, reducing it to about half its former area and troop strength. In the end, Grant will have about 100,000 men under him to guard rail communications and occupy towns in Union-held territory in the west—the Army of the Tennessee and Major General William S. Rosecrans’ Army of the Mississippi. Grant will concentrate on taking Vicksburg, the last principle Confederate bastion on the Mississippi River. Major General Don Carlos Buell’s 101,000-man Army of the Ohio, which had been under Grant at Shiloh, is to continue focusing on Kentucky and Tennessee to concentrate on taking Chattanooga and clearing east Tennessee of Confederate resistance, and to counter the threat posed by Confederate forces under General Braxton Bragg.

Grant’s shrunken command is spread across the southwestern corner of Tennessee. Sherman’s division is protecting Memphis. One hundred miles to the east and just south of the Tennessee border, Major General Edward O.C. Ord’s division is defending Corinth, Mississippi, now a major Union depot. General Rosecrans’ army holds the railroad from Corinth 20 miles east to Iuka. All Grant can do with his troops is defend his territory, which means handing over the initiative to the Confederates—a galling circumstance for the combative general. He is sure the Rebels will attack someplace; there is nothing he can do now but wait.

Measures of the US Congress approved by the President includes creating the grade of rear admiral to be conferred on all flag officers; increasing temporary protective tariffs on sugar, tobacco, and liquor; and forbidding all financial interest in public contracts to members of Congress, officers, and agents of the government. William H. Aspinwall of New York presents the Federal War Department with a check for $25,290.60 (2020 value $642,015.65) as his share of profits on an arms contract.
@Doug64 @Potemkin

I have visited Andersonville POW camp in person and seen the vast rows upon rows of tombstones placed for each Union soldier who died there. Here is some American Civil War history on Andersonville POW camp. Much respect to the Union soldiers who were imprisoned there and honored their oath:

@Politics_Observer Agreed, all honor to the Union soldiers that refused to falsely swear loyalty to their enemies. I do think that the clip wasn’t exactly fair to Wirz, though. The conditions of the camp were, as noted briefly at the beginning, the result of a lack of resources rather than deliberate. Unmentioned was that it was intended as a temporary holding facility and only became what it was because the parole system broke down in the last years of the war. Wirz himself petitioned his superiors for more support and was denied, and in July 1864 sent five prisoners to the North with a letter signed by the inmates asking Washington to negotiate their release.
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