- 11 Sep 2019 13:25
September 11, Wednesday
For five days General R.E. Lee and his Confederates campaign actively against the Federals, the heavy rains of the season, and the rugged mountains in western Virginia. Dividing his forces into five columns, Lee plans to attack the separated Union forces of J.J. Reynolds at Cheat Mountain Summit and Elkwater. There is light fighting at Conrad’s Mill; on the twelfth one Confederate column under Colonel Albert Rust fails to attack in what was supposed to be the signal for a general assault. The element of surprise is now gone and the weather growing worse. By the thirteenth it is clear that Lee’s plan has failed miserably, both because it required complicated movements and close cooperation, and because of the rough terrain and incessant rains. On the fifteenth the Confederates pull back. General Lee’s response to the fiasco is, “We must try again.” Casualties are light on both sides, but, coupled with Carnifix Ferry, it is a considerable disaster to Confederate plans to regain western Virginia. Furthermore, the campaign results in serious criticism of Lee from newspapers, civilians, and soldiers, and will dim his reputation for some months.
After this battle and the Federal occupation of the region, roving bands of Confederate irregulars will launch a campaign of ambush and raiding west of the Alleghenies on the flank of the Shenandoah Valley. “Their methods outrivaled the savage,” a Federal officer will claim. “They would lie in wait until an opportunity presented itself to kill the party they sought. Then they would remain watching the corpse to kill the men who might come to bury it.” The Federals will fight back with stratagems of their own. “The command became an army of scouts,” an Ohio soldier will recall, “adopting perforce a system of independent warfare.” The men will travel light, carrying only their weapons, ammunition, blankets, and perhaps some coffee and salt to trade with farmers in return for a hot meal and a place to sleep. The patrolling will often be brutal business. “There was no sentiment in driving bushwackers from their lairs,” a Federal soldier will write. “They never made an open attack. A puff of smoke and the whiz of a bullet was the only warning.” When the weather turns too cold to fight, the irregulars will simply return to their farms and pass themselves off as pro-Union men. And the Federals will retreat to their camps, where they face long, lonely days of picket duty and drill before the next round of bushfighting.
Near Washington there is a reconnaissance by Federals from Chain Bridge to Lewinsville, Virginia, and some action.
President Lincoln, after his interview with Mrs. Fremont of the night before, writes the general that he would order that the clause in relation to confiscation of property and emancipation of slaves in his famous proclamation be modified to conform with the acts of Congress.
The Kentucky legislature passes a resolution calling on the governor to order the Confederate troops in the state to leave. Another resolution calling for both Northern and Southern troops to leave is defeated. Unionists appear to be in control of the political machinery in Kentucky.
Ideas are far more powerful than guns. We don’t allow our enemies to have guns, why should we allow them to have ideas?
To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.