- 31 Oct 2020 14:25
Little but memory is left of the three Confederate thrusts of late summer and early fall. Lee is back in Virginia and McClellan’s Army of the Potomac has begun to move again, through slowly and with numerous delays. Bragg is gone from Kentucky, his Army of Tennessee not much injured. The new Federal commander, Rosecrans, still has a formidable enemy to contend with. In northern Mississippi Van Dorn has failed to do much against the Corinth area except to sustain losses, and Grant is preparing an overland campaign down the north-south railroad, aimed at Vicksburg. News of the successful Confederate sea raider Alabama is seeping in, but the blockade is still there, and continually tightening. For the South, the faint hope of foreign recognition seems further away than ever. In the North there is scattered resistance to the draft. The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is still a subject of controversy. But at least the immediate threats of Confederate invasion are gone. At the moment, in fact, the war seems to be dragging.
November 1, Saturday
November opens with McClellan finally back on Virginia soil but hardly in active pursuit of Lee’s army, which is still licking its own wounds after Antietam. In Kentucky the new Federal commander, William S. Rosecrans, is preparing to resume operations against Confederate Braxton Bragg, who has escaped nearly intact from his drive toward the Ohio River.
On the Mississippi, Grant, is setting in motion a plan for a speedy conquest of Vicksburg. He will begin slowly moving southward from the Tennessee border along the tracks of the Mississippi Central Railroad, gathering forces as he goes. His course will parallel the great river and about sixty miles to the east. He plans to sweep inexorably through Mississippi, carefully extending and maintaining his lines of supply as he progresses, until he reaches Jackson. There he will cut the railroad line between that city and Vicksburg, and flank the river port—at which point he expects to take Vicksburg with relative ease, if it doesn’t first surrender. Confederate operations of the fall have been partially successful, but in a defensive-offensive sense have bought little but time. Strangely enough, Grant is not the only general contemplating an attack on Vicksburg. Even as he commences the campaign, he hears persistent rumors that another Federal commander—Major General John McClernand—is raising an army north of the Ohio River and that he intends, with Washington’s blessing, to move down the Mississippi and launch an amphibious attack on the port. Grant can scarcely believe that such an operation will be mounted in his department without consultation. Yet troops recruited by this rival general are arriving on the scene.
At Knoxville, General Bragg’s Confederate army is suffering cruelly from exposure and disease. More than 15,000 troops fill hospitals from eastern Tennessee to northern Georgia. With six inches of snow on the ground in eastern Tennessee, the remaining 27,000 troops lack clothing, equipment, and shelter to protect them from the bitter winter. They are also short of food, although plenty of provisions are stockpiled in the area. The Confederate government has decreed that supplies in eastern Tennessee are to be reserved for the exclusive use of the Army of Northern Virginia, whose campaign in the East is considered to be more important. While Bragg’s men are foraging desperately across the countryside, nearby warehouses are shipping eastward thousands of cattle and hogs, barrels of flour, bushels of wheat, and sides of bacon.
Today, the first elements of that suffering army begin their move to Chattanooga, then to Tullahoma, and finally through the Stones River valley toward Murfreesboro. General Bragg has put into motion his promised plan to move against the Federals at Nashville.
General Butler in New Orleans issues orders tightening pass requirements and authorizing discharge from confinement of all “slaves not known to be the slaves of loyal owners.”
President Davis continues to worry about the relations of the Confederate states to the central government, the raising of troops, and the danger of Federal invasion of the coasts.
November 1st through the 12th a Federal expedition from New Berne will fight several skirmishes at Little Creek and Rawle’s Mill, North Carolina. Operations early in the month will be carried out in Boone and Jackson counties, Missouri, and Berwick Bay, Louisiana. Other fighting this day occurs at La Grange, Arkansas, and in Henderson County, Kentucky.
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