The American Civil War, day by day - Page 55 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15144255
@Potemkin, I kinda split the difference between Johnston and Davis. On the one hand, the Federals have to take Vicksburg to open up the Mississippi and completely cut off the trans-Mississippi Confederacy. That being so, fortifying Vicksburg and making the Union pay for it in time and blood makes sense, and forts are force-multipliers. OTOH, getting tens of thousands of soldiers trapped in the city in a months-long siege that can have only one end if you have any other choice isn't exactly a smart thing to do, either.
#15144268
Doug64 wrote:@Potemkin, I kinda split the difference between Johnston and Davis. On the one hand, the Federals have to take Vicksburg to open up the Mississippi and completely cut off the trans-Mississippi Confederacy. That being so, fortifying Vicksburg and making the Union pay for it in time and blood makes sense, and forts are force-multipliers. OTOH, getting tens of thousands of soldiers trapped in the city in a months-long siege that can have only one end if you have any other choice isn't exactly a smart thing to do, either.

Indeed, it's all too easy to be an armchair general and hindsight is always 20/20. But the Union generals had consistently shown themselves to be eager to waste their armies in futile frontal attacks against Confederate armies in strong defensive positions. A few more battles like Antietam or Fredericksburg, and Vicksburg would be in a much safer position....
#15144285
@Potemkin, true enough, though there are Confederate generals willing to waste troops on frontal attacks as well, even the greats such as Lee--the Battle of Malvern Hill on July first of this year of 1862 is proof enough of that. Still, for now it looks like Davis and Pemberton are more right than Johnston.
#15144339
December 22, Monday

President Lincoln confers in Washington with General Burnside as disputes rage over responsibility for the Fredericksburg debacle and the actions of various generals before and after the battle.

Morgan’s Confederates cross the Cumberland River on their Kentucky raid. There are skirmishes near Windsor and at Joyner’s Ferry on the Blackwater in Virginia.
#15144499
December 23, Tuesday

President Davis issues a proclamation calling the former Federal commander of New Orleans and the Gulf, Major General Benjamin F. Butler, a felon, an outlaw, a common enemy of mankind; if captured he should not be considered a military prisoner but should be hanged immediately. This is the result of Butler’s alleged tyrannical rule in New Orleans.

Davis, from Jackson, Mississippi, also wires his Secretary of War, “There is immediate and urgent necessity for heavy guns and long range field pieces at Vicksburg.”

Major General Simon Bolivar Buckner assumes command of the Confederate District of the Gulf, and Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith resumes command of the Department of East Tennessee.

There is a skirmish near Nashville, Tennessee; and another on the St. Francis Road, near Helena, Arkansas. Operations in the Sugar Creek Hills of Missouri will last until the end of the month.
#15144710
December 24, Wednesday

General Sherman and Admiral David Porter are still hoping to fall without warning upon the Vicksburg defenses. But the attempt at secrecy is doomed. Neither Grant nor Sherman know that before the war a planter had installed a private telegraph wire along the west bank of the Mississippi north of Vicksburg, and the Confederates have been manning the wire, watching upstream for the approach of the Federals. At about midnight, at the Vicksburg end of the wire, an Army telegrapher named Philip H. Hall suddenly receives an agitated message from a post at Lake Providence, 42 miles to the north: “Great God, Phil, eighty-one gunboats and transports have passed here tonight.” The night is stormy and the river rough. With great difficulty, Hall manages to cross to the east bank; he races into town and interrupts the Christmas ball being held at a prominent physician’s home. Major General Martin Luther Smith, commander of the Vicksburg defenses, pales and shouts, “The party is at an end!”

Union army forces occupy Galveston, Texas, already partially in control of the Navy.

In Kentucky, John Hunt Morgan occupies Glasgow, after a skirmish. There is fighting near Nashville, Bolivar, and Middleburg, Tennessee. Sherman’s expedition from Memphis draws closer to Vicksburg.
#15144876
December 25, Thursday

Christmas Day brings no cessation of lesser action throughout the warring nations. Sherman’s expedition operates near Milliken’s Bend north of Vicksburg. Morgan’s men in Kentucky fight at Green’s Chapel and Bear Wallow. There is a skirmish near Warrenton, Virginia; and a Federal reconnaissance from Martinsburg to Charles Town, western Virginia. Fighting occurs on the Wilson Creek Pike near Brentwood and at Prim’s Blacksmith Shop on the Edmondson Pike, Tennessee, as well as at Ripley, Mississippi.

When President Davis left Chattanooga on the 13th, Murfreesboro was already buzzing over another social event—the impending marriage of John Morgan to Mattie Ready, reputed to be the prettiest girl in town. Mattie Ready, at the age of seventeen, caught the attention of the 37-year-old Confederate hero with an outlandishly dramatic gesture. While Murfreesboro was temporarily occupied by Federal troops during the summer, she heard some Yankee officers disparaging the flamboyant Morgan. She defended her hero so staunchly that one of the officers demanded to know her name. “It’s Mattie Ready now,” she replied, “but by the grace of God one day I hope to call myself the wife of John Morgan.” As soon as Morgan returned to Murfreesboro, he heard the story and called on her; he found her to be “as pretty as she was patriotic,” and her wish is soon granted.

The wedding ceremony becomes the event of the Christmas season. The service is performed by General Leonidas Polk, who is also a bishop in the Episcopal Church; and it is attended by all the luminaries of the Army of Tennessee. Then comes kindred festivities—parties, horse races, and extravagant dinners. All the while, the army is being fed and feted by wives, fiancées, mothers, and relatives, who bring with them not only hampers of delicacies but new clothing and uninforms. These solicitous ministrations are much appreciated but soon contribute to something of a crisis. Discipline flags, and drunkenness increases alarmingly.

Still, picket duty, guard duty, and drill occupy much of the soldiers’ time. They also keep busy constructing crude huts and houses around Murfreesboro in case they have to spend the dead of winter in place. There are small, sporadic actions. A week after his wedding, Morgan kisses his bride goodbye and sets out on a two-week raid into Kentucky, during which he destroys miles of Louisville & Nashville Railroad track, takes nearly 2,000 prisoners, and destroys two million dollars’ worth of property. Bragg spends the Christmas season waiting for Rosecrans’ next move. The Army of Tennessee is aligned in a 32-mile-long crescent centered on Murfreesboro and facing Nashville. Bragg reorganizes his cavalry, detaching the units under Morgan and Forrest for “special service” and placing the remaining horsemen under the command of 26-year-old Joseph Wheeler. The young man has been out of West Point for only three years and has been a brigadier general for two months, but he has already earned the nickname Fighting Joe. Wheeler’s troopers continually patrol the countryside between Bragg’s line and Nashville, watching for Rosecrans.

For the Federal troops, it is a lonely, depressing Christmas. Some soldiers augment their diet by hunting robins in a canebrake at night with torches and sticks, knocking them off the bushes. They have some flour, and make pot pies for dinner. But today, General Rosecrans is ready for battle at last. He issues orders for the Army of the Cumberland to advance on Murfreesboro tomorrow. At a war council this night, Rosecrans tells his generals that the Confederates are now more vulnerable than ever: He has learned that Bragg has lost a quarter of his army and sent Forrest and Morgan away on raids. Rosecrans goes over his plans with his generals and holds a discussion after. As night falls a heavy rain, typical of winter in Tennessee, begins to fall.

President and Mrs. Lincoln visit wounded soldiers in Washington hospitals.
#15145020
December 26, Friday

At the time that General Martin Luther Smith, commander of the Vicksburg garrison, received word at a Christmas Eve party that General Sherman and Admiral Porter are approaching, he had only 6,000 troops to man the ten-mile line of bluffs along the Yazoo where Sherman’s 30,000 Federals are expected to attack. But thanks to the warning—and the fact that Sherman paused to destroy some railroad tracks at Milliken’s Bend, fifteen miles north of Vicksburg—Smith has been able to muster reinforcements from the Jackson area. About 6,000 men have arrived, with another 13,000 on the way, by the time Sherman draws near. Sherman lands his men on the south bank of the Yazoo seven miles above its confluence with the Mississippi and four miles northwest of Chickasaw Bluffs. He advances toward the line of bluffs known as Walnut Hills and Haynes’ Bluff, protecting Vicksburg on the north.

In the cold, gray, wet dawn, three columns of Federal troops trudge out of Nashville by separate routes—General Crittenden, on the Federal left, down the Nashville Pike; McCook in the center down the Nolensville Pike toward Triune, where he is to turn eastward toward Murfreesboro; and George Thomas on the right, on the Franklin Turnpike south from Nashville to Brentwood, then east crossing in the rear of McCook and on to Murfreesboro. Little more than half of the Army of the Cumberland—44,000 of the 82,000 men available—actually take part in the advance. The rest remain in garrison in Nashville and guard the railroad to Louisville.

Just as Rosecrans predicted, the advancing columns run into Confederate cavalry units soon after passing the outposts of Nashville. First contact is made by McCook’s wing, which at 7 am attacks a detachment at Nolensville. The Confederate cavalry here, commanded by Brigadier General John A. Wharton, withdraw toward the south in good order and form a line on the ridges north of Triune. There Wharton’s artillery commences a duel with McCook’s. On hearing the firing, General Thomas turns eastward to march to McCook’s assistance. At about the same time, Crittenden, to the northeast, runs into Wheeler’s outposts, deployed north of Lavergne on the Nashville-Murfreesboro road. Later in the day, as Crittenden pushes on closer to Lavergne, he encounters stiff resistance from Wheeler’s entire brigade, reinforced by a brigade of Tennesseans. There is other action at Franklin and Knob Gap. A pattern is emerging in which the Federals, instead of making a rapid advance on the main Confederate army, are continually being forced to stop, form a line of battle, and clear their path of stubborn, well-deployed cavalry units.

In raiding, Morgan fights at Bacon Creek and Nolin, Kentucky, and operates against Rosecrans’ railroad lines. Forrest is withdrawing from Grant’s lines in Tennessee after considerable destruction. For the Federals, S.P. Carter’s small force of cavalry leaves Manchester, Kentucky, for the upper Tennessee Valley, destroying railroad and fighting skirmishes, in particular one at Perkins’ Mill or Elk Fort, December 28. The raid will last until January 5. Federals attack a guerrilla camp in Powell County, Kentucky.

At Murfreesboro, Tennessee, at 11 am the condemned deserter Confederate Private Asa Lewis is paraded in front of his brigade in a wagon. His coffin follows in a second wagon. With his brigade drawn up in an open-ended square around him, Lewis faces the firing squad, his hands bound behind him. The division commander, General Breckinridge, dismounts and walks over to the private and the two exchange a few whispered words, then the general remounts and rides to one side. The firing squad performs its duty. As Lewis falls dead, Breckinridge pitches forward on his horse, deathly sick; members of his staff catch him and save him from a fall.

General Burnside remains determined to renew the offensive in the Fredericksburg area. He resolves to move his army a short distance up the Rappahannock, then cross and circle to the south to get behind Lee. Cavalry units will go first, crossing at Kelly’s Ford, 25 miles northwest of the town, and severing the vital enemy supply routes on two railroads: the Virginia Central; and the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac. Today, Burnside orders supplies laid in for a 10-day movement and has the men cook three day’s rations; all units are to be ready to march on twelve hours’ notice.

38 Sioux that were captured during the revolt in Minnesota in late August, that altogether cost 450 or more lives, are hanged at Mankato, Minnesota. President Lincoln pardons another at the last minute, after receiving a telegram from now-General Sibley stating that new information leads him to doubt the prisoner’s guilt.
#15145127
December 27, Saturday

Sherman’s troops pick their way across the swamps and bayous north of Vicksburg toward the bluffs. They engage in minor fighting at Snyder’s Mill against Confederate pickets as Pemberton rushes in troops to defend Vicksburg.

Rosecrans’ Union army continues its march toward Bragg at Murfreesboro, Tennessee; there is some skirmishing on the Jefferson Pike at Stewart’s Creek Bridge, Triune, Franklin, and on the Murfreesboro Pike at another Stewart’s Creek Bridge.

With the time gained by the Confederate cavalry’s successful delaying tactics, General Bragg has begun to consolidate his army. He calls McGown in from Readyville and Hardee from the Triune area. Wharton hangs on stubbornly at Triune until the superior Federal artillery drives him out of his line. By nightfall, Wharton and his infantry support has withdrawn to Murfreesboro.

Morgan’s Confederates capture a Union garrison at Elizabethtown, Kentucky. There is a skirmish at Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and another at Dumfries, Virginia.
#15145253
December 28, Sunday

General Sherman’s army finally approaches the foot of the bluffs north of Vicksburg. There, facing a stretch of bayou and bog with an abatis beyond, they are stopped by a fearsome bombardment from Confederate cannon on the heights above. All day and through the night, Sherman’s men probe the defenses. But the Confederate field commander, Brigadier General Stephen D. Lee, has his forces well prepared, and the Federals get nowhere.

General Bragg, unsure in the face of Rosecrans’ three-pronged advance where the main Federal effort will be made, throws a defensive line across all the approaches to Murfreesboro from the northwest. Polk is placed more than a mile west of the town, where the Stones River curves behind his back, while Hardee is an equal distance out to the northwest, across the river from Polk. It is a terrible position for any kind of fighting. The field of battle offers no peculiar advantages for defense. The country on every side is open and accessible to the enemy. It is rough ground, interspersed with limestone shelves, large boulders and deep crevices, and dotted with thick stands of red cedar.

Morgan destroys a bridge at Muldraugh’s Hill in Kentucky near Lincoln’s birthplace, and also fights at Bacon Creek before escaping into Tennessee by January 1.

Grant's General Order 11 goes into full force. Thirty Jewish families, shell-shocked and roughly treated, are ordered to leave Paducah, Kentucky, within twenty-four hours. Jewish families in Paducah are forced to collect their personal belongings, shutter their homes and shops, and board a steamer on the Ohio River. One Jewish resident of Paducah, Cesar Kaskel, a Union loyalist and president of the Paducah Union League Club, is summoned to Paducah's Provost Marshall, L.J. Waddell, and ordered by Waddell to leave the city. Throughout the North, Jewish groups protest and send telegrams to the government in Washington, D.C.

There is skirmishing near Suffolk and at Providence Church, Virginia. Federals evacuate New Madrid, Missouri. The Federal Army under James Blunt fights the Confederates at Dripping Springs, Arkansas, and drives them in and through Van Buren, capturing about forty wagons, four steamers, and other equipment.
#15145261
Grant's General Order 11 goes into full force. Thirty Jewish families, shell-shocked and roughly treated, are ordered to leave Paducah, Kentucky, within twenty-four hours. Jewish families in Paducah are forced to collect their personal belongings, shutter their homes and shops, and board a steamer on the Ohio River. One Jewish resident of Paducah, Cesar Kaskel, a Union loyalist and president of the Paducah Union League Club, is summoned to Paducah's Provost Marshall, L.J. Waddell, and ordered by Waddell to leave the city. Throughout the North, Jewish groups protest and send telegrams to the government in Washington, D.C.

What inspired this idiocy of Grant's? He showed no special anti-semitism either before or after this episode. What possessed him? :eh:
#15145275
Potemkin wrote:What inspired this idiocy of Grant's? He showed no special anti-semitism either before or after this episode. What possessed him? :eh:

There’s no way to say for certain at this point, but I’d guess pure frustration—both generally with how the need to deal with all the cotton speculation distracts from military affairs and with his own father and those his father brought with him on his visit being involved; and then having that combined with the general air of prejudice that permeated his army aimed specifically at Jewish traders and at Jews generally it exacerbated. You’re right, he didn’t usually demonstrate anti-Semitism, and he’ll regret this for years.
#15145388
December 29, Monday

After the previous night’s fruitless probing of the Confederate defenses north of Vicksburg, General Sherman decides to concentrate his effort on the left. There, in front of one brigade, a narrow causeway crosses Chikasaw bayou; before another lies a swampy but passable area. Sherman calls on the division commander, Brigadier General George Washington Morgan, to attack, adding a less than heartening comment: “We will lose 5,000 men before we take Vicksburg, and we may as well lose them here as anywhere else.” Morgan protests that an entire army would not be able to carry the Confederate position. But he obeys the order, and commands Brigadier General Francis P. Blair Jr. to push the one brigade across the swamp and Colonel John F. DeCourcy to take the other across the causeway. “My poor brigade!” DeCourcy responds—and then orders the advance.

The proposed point of attack upon the bluff proves to be the interior of an arc or semicircle, so as the storming brigade advances it find itself in the center of a converging fire, a flaming hell of shot, shell, shrapnel, canister, and Minié balls. Despite the terrain and the murderous fire, both brigades fight their way through the abatis to the foot of the bluff, but there they are pinned down. Ordered forward to support the attack, another brigade goes astray in the swamp. Still, the men of an Iowa regiment find their way to the base of the bluff, where they are halted by a ferocious barrage. So devastating is the fire that the soldiers have to scoop out protective caves in the bank with their hands.

The Federal attack has failed. All formations are broken. They are terribly repulsed, but not beaten. There is neither rout nor panic, but the troops fall back slowly and angrily to their own line, halt, re-form, and if ordered, would have again rushed to the assault. The men of the Iowa regiment stay in their burrows under the cliff, shivering in a driving rain, until darkness falls. Only then can they safely leave their holes and scurry, one by one, back to their lines. The day has been a calamity. Sherman has lost 208 killed, 1,005 wounded, and 563 missing for a total of 1,776 out of about 31,000 effectives. The Confederates have lost only 63 killed, 134 wounded, and 10 missing for 207 out of about 14,000 engaged. The position is simply too strong to storm—it is reminiscent of Fredericksburg.

In Tennessee, Crittenden’s corps approaches Stones River in the late-afternoon gloom. The Federal cavalry, an inadequate force, has been unable to find out anything of value about the Confederate dispositions. In fact, General Rosecrans has told Crittenden that Bragg is retreating and ordered him to occupy Murfreesboro with one division and hold the rest of his corps on the west side of the river. Crittenden rides to the head of his column, where the divisions of Brigadier Generals Thomas J. Wood and John M. Palmer are forming lines of battle. They can all see, in plain view along the far bank of the river, a large part of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, and it is not retreating. Crittenden, ignoring the odds against him, orders Wood, with Palmer in support, to attack and occupy Murfreesboro. Wood protests that if he must take on Bragg’s army with his lone division, it would best be done tomorrow during daylight. Crittenden agrees that an immediate movement is risky, but he remains adamant. Wood then sends Colonel Charles Garrison Harker’s brigade across the river into Confederate rifle fire. Harker’s woefully outnumbered Federals manage to drive the Confederate skirmishers back about 500 yards, but then they run headlong into Breckinridge’s entire division and are stopped in their tracks. Wood can see that the attack is hopeless, and Crittenden decides enough is enough. They describe the situation in a message to headquarters and suggest that if General Rosecrans were there with them he would not order an attack. Rosecrans concurs.

General Bragg correctly concludes that the Federals won’t attack now or tomorrow, and he orders Wheeler’s cavalry to harass the Federals’ rear. Wheeler’s men, who have been in the saddle almost continuously for three days, move out shortly after midnight.

Morgan is still skirmishing near Johnson’s Ferry or Hamilton’s Ford on Rolling Fork, and he captures a stockade at Boston, Kentucky. Federal S.P. Carter in his East Tennessee expedition passes Moccasin Gap and captures a small group of Confederates on the Blountsville Road. There is also an affair near Plaquemine, Louisiana.
#15145501
December 30, Tuesday

General Wheeler’s cavalry, having since midnight ridden five miles north from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, then turned west, at dawn strikes Brigadier General John Starkweather’s brigade at Jefferson, well behind the Federal lines. Although taken by surprise, Starkweather’s veterans resist strongly. The Confederates have no time for a fight; they press on. At noon, Wheeler’s troopers ride up to Lavergne, seven miles northwest of Jefferson, and spy a rich prize—McCook’s supply train of 300 wagons. In three columns, the Confederate horsemen storm down on the wagons; the astonished Federals can offer only token resistance, and soon the train is Wheeler’s; he takes 700 prisoners and destroys nearly a million dollars’ worth of Federal matériel. “The turnpike, as far as the eye could reach, was filled with burning wagons. The country was overspread with disarmed men, broken down horses and mules. The streets were covered with empty valises and trunks, knapsacks, broken guns and all the indescribable debris of a captured and rifled army wagon train.” From Lavergne, the raiders gallop six miles to the southwest where they drop like a tornado upon quiet little Nolensville. Here it is Lavergne repeated. They find squads of Yankees and some 150 wagons, mostly loaded with ammunitions and medicines, together with several fine ambulances. The latter they preserve, and the Yankees they send on their way rejoicing as paroled prisoners of war. They also have an immense deal of fun. When Wheeler finally rides back into Confederate lines, his men have destroyed all or parts of four wagon trains and have captured and paroled about 1,000 enemy soldiers. He brings back enough weapons to equip a brigade and many fresh horses for his command.

For the Federal soldiers in the lines near Murfreesboro, the previous night was a miserable one. The troops tried with little success to sleep, shivering in their wet clothes. They rise long before daylight but cannot warm or dry themselves; orders have been issued that no fires are to be built. So the men prepare for a wearisome day of marching and countermarching. Since a battle is obviously imminent, they figure that the generals will—as usual—keep them busy closing gaps and changing positions; then the generals will redeploy everyone all over again. And the troops are kept tense and nervous by Confederate probing attacks along the line. Early in the morning, Rosecrans and his staff appear on the scene to oversee the disposition of forces. Crittenden’s line is already anchored on the river to the north and extended across the Nashville Turnpike. Thomas is directed to place one of his divisions in reserve while the other, commanded by Major General James S. Negley, advances through the cedars to take position between Crittenden and the Wilkinson Pike to the south. Meanwhile, the Pioneer Brigade cuts alleys and trails across the rugged terrain so that ammunition trains, ambulances, and artillery can reach Negley’s line. McCook is ordered into place on the right of Negley to extend the line southward.

As McCook’s troops move up to their assigned position, Confederate skirmishers dog their advance. Rosecrans anxiously follows the troops’ progress by the sound of musketry. Shortly after 7 pm, the general is standing in the door of his headquarters, a log cabin near the Nashville Turnpike, when a Confederate sharpshooter hits one of his staff officers. Then Confederate shells begins to descend. One of them explodes not far from Rosecrans; the next one to hit decapitates an orderly. Rosecrans decides to move. In a pouring rain, he leads his generals up a slope to a spot among some trees, where the staff sets up a crude shelter of fence rails and blankets. By then, McCook’s troops have gained their position, extending the Federal line south to the Franklin road.

Rosecrans’ orders to his corps commanders for tomorrow’s fighting are delivered verbally and imprecisely; McCook will say later that he learned the details when he read a newspaper account of the battle. Crittenden knows that he is to lead the attack against Breckinridge on Bragg’s right, but he doesn’t know when to begin. Thomas is told that he is to support Crittenden’s attack. McCook, although he doesn’t know the overall plan, is at least clear that his role is to maintain his position.

Come evening, Rosecrans decides to see if he can deceive Bragg about the Federals’ intentions. He orders McCook to extend his right and build many campfires to make Bragg believe that the main threat is on that front, the Confederate left. The ploy is a trite one, used often by both sides. Still, it contributes to a fateful change in the Confederate dispositions. Bragg is apparently fooled by the simple ruse. After spending the day in the field observing the various Federal moves, he calls his corps commanders together at headquarters. He has concluded, he says, that the Federals are massing to strike the Confederate left; he then orders a complicated series of adjustments not only to meet the threat there but to attack in force on the left. The Confederates spend much of the night groping through the darkness into their new positions. When all that is accomplished, the Confederate right is held only by Breckinridge’s division, supported by Brigadier General John Pegram’s cavalry brigade and a small reserve brigade called up from guard duty around Chattanooga. As it happens, the two commanders have arrived at identical plans: to attack the other’s right flank. And now the men on both sides settle down at last for a long night of waiting.

Before tattoo, one of the Federal regimental bands begins playing; the strains of “Yankee Doodle,” “Hail Columbia,” and other popular Northern tunes drift out to the Confederate lines. After a time, the Federal musicians yield to a Confederate band, which plays a series of Southern favorites. The musical exchange continues until a Federal band strikes up “Home Sweet Home.” Immediately, a Confederate band catches up the strain, then one after another until all the bands of both armies are playing “Home Sweet Home.”

In Mississippi, Sherman remains in his frustrating Chickasaw Bayou position in front of the bluffs at Vicksburg. Morgan fights again at Springfield and at New Haven, Kentucky, as he withdraws. Carter in his Federal raid captures Union and Carter’s Depot, Tennessee, and destroys bridges across the Holston and the Watauga. There is also a skirmish at La Grange, Arkansas, and a two-day Union expedition in Virginia from Falmouth to Warrenton and another from Potomac Creek to Richards’ and Ellis’ Fords.

On the Rappahannock in Virginia, General Burnside’s cavalry move out and have reached Kelly’s Ford when Burnside receives a cryptic telegram from the President: “I have good reason for saying that you must not make a general movement of the army without letting me know.” The order comes as a shock to Burnside, who has thought his plans were known only to him and his staff. Mystified, he countermands his orders and heads to Washington to find out what is going on.

Lincoln’s message is the result of an intrigue by two of Burnside’s officers, Brigadier Generals John Newton and John Cochrane of Franklin’s grand division. Late this month, they traveled to Washington to complain about Burnside to their Congressmen. But the two generals, neither of whom has a reputation for brilliance, had overlooked the fact that Congress adjourns for the holidays: Most of the Representatives are back in their home districts. Cochrane is a former Congressman, which makes the blunder all the more remarkable, but he compensated for it by arranging an appointment with Secretary of State William Seward. Seward in turn arranged for the generals to see the President. The generals told Lincoln of Burnside’s planned attack. They predicted failure and expressed their concern that another defeat might well destroy the Army of the Potomac. On the strength of their reservations, Lincoln sent his curt telegram restraining Burnside.

As well as the telegram, Lincoln produces for his Cabinet a preliminary draft of the final Emancipation Proclamation, to be issued the first of the new year, with a request for suggestions.

Shortly after midnight the USS Monitor founders off Cape Hatteras in heavy seas with the loss of sixteen officers and men. Monitor sends a distress signal at 11 pm. Her escort, Rhode Island, rescues forty-seven officers and men. The hero of the battle with Virginia, never very seaworthy, was being towed to the Carolina coast.
#15145516
On the Rappahannock in Virginia, General Burnside’s cavalry move out and have reached Kelly’s Ford when Burnside receives a cryptic telegram from the President: “I have good reason for saying that you must not make a general movement of the army without letting me know.” The order comes as a shock to Burnside, who has thought his plans were known only to him and his staff. Mystified, he countermands his orders and heads to Washington to find out what is going on.

Lincoln’s message is the result of an intrigue by two of Burnside’s officers, Brigadier Generals John Newton and John Cochrane of Franklin’s grand division. Late this month, they traveled to Washington to complain about Burnside to their Congressmen. But the two generals, neither of whom has a reputation for brilliance, had overlooked the fact that Congress adjourns for the holidays: Most of the Representatives are back in their home districts. Cochrane is a former Congressman, which makes the blunder all the more remarkable, but he compensated for it by arranging an appointment with Secretary of State William Seward. Seward in turn arranged for the generals to see the President. The generals told Lincoln of Burnside’s planned attack. They predicted failure and expressed their concern that another defeat might well destroy the Army of the Potomac. On the strength of their reservations, Lincoln sent his curt telegram restraining Burnside.

This is extraordinary. Either Tweedledum and Tweedledee were right about Burnside, in which case Lincoln needed to fire him, or they were wrong about him, in which case Lincoln needed to fire them. But just taking their word for it and sending a curt telegram reining Burnside in was not going to be productive. If Lincoln didn't trust Burnside's judgement any more, then why keep him on? :eh:
#15145521
Potemkin wrote:This is extraordinary. Either Tweedledum and Tweedledee were right about Burnside, in which case Lincoln needed to fire him, or they were wrong about him, in which case Lincoln needed to fire them. But just taking their word for it and sending a curt telegram reining Burnside in was not going to be productive. If Lincoln didn't trust Burnside's judgement any more, then why keep him on? :eh:


Because generals aren't easy to replace, and you wouldn't want to take any unnecessary chances especially since the Union had suffered several defeats up to that point despite the generals being really confident that they would achieve a quick and easy victory?
#15145522
@Potemkin, @Saeko has it right, Lincoln isn’t exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to generals. As well, he could be concerned enough about Tweedledee and Tweedledum’s (I like that, for this pair of idiots) news to put a stop to the advance until reviewing it, but sufficiently unsure about the news (and possibly its source) to not just sack Burnside—someone who’s defeat wasn’t entirely his own fault, after all.
#15145526
Good point. Lincoln was in a pretty desperate position. But it's generally not a good idea for a civilian politician to try to micromanage a general's manoeuvres....
#15145527
@Potemkin, depends on the general and the politician. Back during Jackson’s Valley Campaign, if Lincoln’s generals had followed his telegraphed orders in a timely way Jackson would have been mousetrapped and wiped out. Here and now, it’s backfiring on them. But Lincoln’s been studying and his instincts are good. Also, Burnside made the basic mistake of not keeping his own superior at least generally clued in on his plans, especially when he has just recently given that superior reason to doubt his judgment.
#15145540
Doug64 wrote:@Potemkin, depends on the general and the politician. Back during Jackson’s Valley Campaign, if Lincoln’s generals had followed his telegraphed orders in a timely way Jackson would have been mousetrapped and wiped out. Here and now, it’s backfiring on them. But Lincoln’s been studying and his instincts are good. Also, Burnside made the basic mistake of not keeping his own superior at least generally clued in on his plans, especially when he has just recently given that superior reason to doubt his judgment.

Can't argue with that. :)
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You think becoming a republic will change anythin[…]

Atheism is Evil

That is as close to a meaningless statement as an[…]

I'm not going to keep going round in circles with[…]

Everything is fragile

For you. That's just what I do. If there's some […]