The American Civil War, day by day - Page 70 - Politics | PoFo

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Potemkin wrote:This was Lincoln, showing his character. He would stubbornly adhere to what he considered to be morally correct principles, no matter what the consequences. In the short term, this would have terrible human and political consequences, but in the long term it would save the soul of America. Once again, thank God Lincoln was President at this hour, and not any lesser man.

July 31, Friday

A momentous month which has seen the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson and the Battle of Gettysburg comes to a close with skirmishing at Lancaster, Mississippi; and Morris’ Mills, West Virginia. In Virginia Federal forces push across the Rappahannock with fighting at Kelly’s Ford.
August 1863

After the crisis of July, a time of assessment and realignment is welcome. The North is more optimistic and confident now that the Mississippi Valley is clear and Lee back deep in Virginia. However, no one forgets that Charleston is untaken and Lee far from beaten. In the Confederacy, a growing depression has to be conquered and the people called upon once more for renewed effort. If many suspect that such effort will be futile, as yet they seldom say so openly.

Both sides wonder whether their army can mount an offensive in Virginia after Gettysburg, and, if so, where. Confederates hope they can hold against men and ironclads in Charleston Harbor. What will be done with Grant’s army in the West? Can Bragg keep Rosecrans out of Chattanooga and the deep South? Can the blockade be eased? The Confederacy survived a series of monumental defeats a year before. Can it again?

August 1, Saturday

A cavalry action occurs in the oft-fought-over area of Brandy Station, south of the Rappahannock, as the Federal cavalry feels out the enemy and attempts to determine Lee’s plans. A week-long Federal expedition moves from Warrenton Junction into the country between Bull Run and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In Kentucky there is a small expedition by the North from Columbus to Hickman and a skirmish at Smith’s Shoals on the Cumberland River. Skirmishes break out on the Little Blue River at Taylor’s Farm and at Round Ponds near the Castor River, Missouri. Union forces begin to advance on Little Rock, with cavalry operating for several days from Witteburg to Clarendon, Arkansas. In the Charleston Harbor area Federals begin the build-up for an attack on Battery Wagner and Fort Sumter.

The Federal War Department disbands the IV and VII Army Corps.

Rear Admiral David D. Porter assumes naval command on the Mississippi River, where the major problems are now Confederate raids and firings upon Federals. Porter encourages legal river trade.

President Davis declares that all soldiers absent without leave and those who have not reported for service will be granted pardon and amnesty if they report within twenty days. he calls for greater exertion by the people of the Confederacy, saying, “no alternative is left you but victory, or subjugation, slavery and utter ruin of yourselves, your families and your country.”

Prominent Confederate spy Belle Boyd is in prison in Washington for a second time after her arrest in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
August 2, Sunday

As reconnaissance by both sides continues on the line of the Rappahannock in Virginia there is skirmishing at Newtown, Virginia; Stumptown, Missouri; and a Confederate scout from Pocahontas, Arkansas, to Patterson, Missouri. At Cummings Point, on Morris Island in Charleston Harbor, Federals attack the Confederate steamer Chesterfield.

President Davis writes General Lee of the problems of returning stragglers to the Army and says, “It is painful to contemplate our weakness when you ask for reinforcements.”
August 3, Monday

As events begin to quiet down along the Rappahannock in Virginia, there is only minor action elsewhere, including skirmishing at Ripley, Mississippi, and Jackson, Louisiana. A Federal scout from Fort Pillow, Tennessee, skirmishes near Denmark.

The Federal IX Corps leaves the Vicksburg area for service in Kentucky and eventually east Tennessee.

Governor Horatio Seymour of New York asks President Lincoln to suspend the draft in his state.
August 4, Tuesday

Minor fighting continues in Virginia: there is yet another skirmish at Brandy Station, plus action near Amissville and Fairfax Court House. The Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac are back at their approximate starting points, and Meade doesn’t pursue, ending the sixty days of marching and fighting which have comprised the Gettysburg campaign.

Meade has at least received from Washington the accolade that has been withheld so long, though the gesture still is not from Lincoln. “Take it altogether,” Halleck writes, “your short campaign has proved your superior generalship, and you merit, as you will receive, the confidence of the government and the gratitude of your country.” But Meade has already disclaimed such praise from other sources. “The papers are making a great deal too much fuss about me,” he writes home. “I claim no extraordinary merit for this last battle, and would prefer waiting a little while to see what my career is to be before making any pretensions.... I never claimed a victory,” he explains, “though I state that Lee was defeated in his efforts to destroy my army.” Thin-skinned and testy as he is, he finds it hard to abide the pricks he receives from his superiors. He doubts, indeed, whether he is “sufficiently phlegmatic” for the leadership of an army which he now perceives is commanded from Washington, and he confides to his wife that he would esteem it the best of favors if Lincoln would replace him with someone else. Who that someone might be he doesn’t say, but he can scarcely recommend any of his present subordinates, whose lack of energy he deplores. Most of all, he misses his fellow Pennsylvanians, the dead Reynolds and the convalescing Hancock.

With nine of his best generals gone for good, and eight more out with wounds of various depth and gavity, Lee has even greater cause for sadness. Just now, though, his energies are mainly confined to refitting his army, preparing it for a continuation of the struggle he sought to end with one hard blow, and incidentally in putting down a spirit of contention among his hot-tempered subordinates as to where the blame for the recent defeat should go. Few are as frank as Ewell, who presently tells a friend that “it took a dozen blunders to lose Gettysburg and [I] committed a good many of them,” or as selfless as Longstreet, who writes to a kinsman shortly after the battle: “As General Lee is our commander, he should have the support and influence that we can give him. If the blame, if there is any, can be shifted from him to me, I shall help him and our cause by taking it. I desire, therefore, that all the responsibility that can be put upon me shall go there, and shall remain there.” Others are quick to point out just where they think the blame should rest—Pickett, for instance, whose report is highly critical of the other units involved in the charge tradition will give his name to. Lee returns the document to him with the suggestion that it be destroyed, together with all copies. “You and your men have covered yourselves with glory,” he tells him, “but we have the enemy to fight and must carefully, at this critical moment, guard against dissensions which the reflections in your report would create.... I hope all will yet be well.”

On the James River a reconnaissance by Federal army and navy units lasts four days. Elsewhere action includes at the mouth of Vincent’s Creek, South Carolina; at Burlington, West Virginia; as well as a Federal reconnaissance near Rock Island Ferry, Tennessee.

For four days Federal naval guns have bombarded Battery Wagner in Charleston Harbor.

The truce between General Rosecrans and his superiors in Washington, produced by his success at Tullahoma, lasted only three days. On July 7th, General Rosecrans was stung by a gratuitous communication from the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton: “Lee’s army overthrown; Grant victorious. You and your noble army now have the chance to give the finishing blow to the rebellion. Will you neglect the chance?” Rosecrans’ reply was immediate and scathing. “You do not appear to observe the fact that this noble army”—the sarcastic use of Stanton’s own words cannot have escaped the Secretary’s attention—“has driven the rebels from Middle Tennessee. I beg in behalf of this army that the War Department may not overlook so great an event because it was not written in letters of blood.”

That set the tone for the communications that followed; Stanton remains insistent, Rosecrans adamant. Again, Rosecrans refuses to move until he is ready. As usual, he has his reasons, and they are not frivolous. He is being asked to pursue Bragg into mountainous country and across a great river. It will be hard to supply his army in such terrain and at such a distance from his Nashville base. The railroad that must carry his rations and ammunition was partially wrecked and needed repairs. Moreover, Rosecrans feels that if he is to thrust deep into enemy country, he must have protection on his flanks. He regards General Joseph E. Johnston, whose army has been driven by Grant into Mississippi, as a threat to his right; Rosecrans proposed that Grant be ordered to watch Johnston. The response was a single, curt sentence from Halleck: “Grant’s movements at present have no connection with you.”

Rosecrans’ superiors do, however, share his concern about his left flank. In Knoxville, just a little more than 100 miles to the northeast of Chattanooga, the Confederates had stationed a small force under Major General Simon Bolivar Buckner. General Bragg has already summoned Buckner to Chattanooga, and he is on his way with half his forces. But there is another, more compelling reason for Washington officials to worry about northeastern Tennessee. The region around Knoxville has concerned President Lincoln since the earliest days of the war. Although it is in Confederate hands, its population—mainly small farmers with little enthusiasm for slavery—is strongly Unionist. These people[are] hunted by rebel authorities, [are] persecuted and driven to caves, imprisoned, starved, tortured, put to death. It [is] a sacred duty of the government to go to the rescue of these people.” That duty has been delegated to Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, who presided last December over the disastrous Federal attack on Fredericksburg. Relieved of the command of the 114,000-man Army of the Potomac, in March he was given command of the 24,000-man Army of the Ohio, stationed near Cincinnati. his job is to drive across northern Tennessee and run the Confederates out of Knoxville, meanwhile protecting the left flank of Rosecrans’ army. Burnside was preparing to move when his IX Corps was taken from him to assist in the siege of Vicksburg; he was awaiting its return before advancing, although the force opposing him was even smaller than his reduced army. Halleck now has to goad two generals instead of only one. “Burnside has been frequently urged to move forward and cover your left,” he says in a testy telegram to Rosecrans. “I do not know what he is doing. He seems tied fast to Cincinnati.”

At last Halleck loses patience. Today he sends an unequivocal message to Rosecrans: “Your forces must move forward without further delay. You will daily report the movement of each corps until you cross the Tennessee River.” A similar notice is sent to Burnside. Rosecrans, incredulous, requests confirmation. The orders,” replies Halleck, “are peremptory.”
August 5, Wednesday

For the rest of the month Federal cavalry carries out an expedition under William Woods Averell from Winchester, Virginia, into West Virginia, with a skirmish this day at Cold Spring Gap, West Virginia. Other areas of fighting are Little Washington and Muddy Run, Virginia, and Mount Pleasant, Mississippi; while a week-long Union expedition operates from Kempsville, Virginia, into Currituck and Camden counties, North Carolina. Major General Frederick Steele assumes command of Federal forces at Helena, Arkansas. In Charleston Harbor Confederates strengthen their defenses at Fort Sumter and Battery Wagner, realizing the Federals will soon launch an all-out attack. Near Dutch Gap, Virginia, an electric torpedo severely damages USS Commodore Barney.

President Lincoln, writing General Banks regarding affairs in Louisiana, states that he is “an anti-slavery man” and “For my own part I think I shall not, in any event, retract the emancipation proclamation; nor, as executive, ever return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.”
August 6, Thursday

Following President Lincoln’s proclamation, the North observes a day of thanksgiving for recent victories, with church services and suspension of business.

Skirmishes take place at Cacapon Mountain and at Moorefield, West Virginia; while Mosby’s Southern guerrillas capture a wagon train near Fairfax Court House, Virginia. In addition, Federal expeditions and scouts operate for several days in Missouri and in Kansas on the Missouri border.

Three Federal vessels are heavily bombarded by shore batteries while on a James River reconnaissance. Cheering crowds watch CSS Alabama capture the bark Sea Bride near the shore of Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope.

From Richmond President Davis writes Governor M.L. Bonham of South Carolina that he will do all possible for the safety and relief of Charleston, “which we pray will never be polluted by the footsteps of a lustful, relentless, inhuman foe.”
August 7, Friday

Fighting breaks out at Burke’s Station, Virginia, and near New Madrid, Missouri.

In Washington Lincoln tells Governor Seymour of New York that he will not suspend the draft in New York and adds, “My purpose is to be, in my action, just and constitutional; and yet practical, in performing the important duty, with which I am charged, of maintaining the unity, and the free principles of our common country.”
August 8, Saturday

General Robert E. Lee offers to resign as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. He writes President Davis that he realizes there has been discontent as a result of the failure of the Gettysburg Campaign and “I, therefore, in all sincerity, request your excellency to take measures to supply my place.” His health and general depression influence his request, which Davis rejects.

On Morris Island in Charleston Harbor Federals continue to construct approaches to Battery Wagner, illuminating the island at night with calcium lights. Fighting occurs at Waterford, Virginia; Rienzi, Mississippi; and on Clear Creek, near Ball Town, Missouri.

USS Sagamore takes four prizes off Indian River and Gilbert’s Bar, Florida.
August 9, Sunday

President Lincoln writes General Grant that he believes that Black troops are “a resource which, if vigorously applied now, will soon close the contest.”

Meantime the usual skirmishes erupt at Brandy Station and Welford’s Ford, Virginia; Sparta, Tennessee; and Garden Hollow, near Pineville, Missouri. Operations of several days’ duration take place from Cape Girardeau to Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
August 10, Monday

Federal troops under General Frederick Steele begin to march from Helena, Arkansas, toward the capital at Little Rock. Elsewhere there is skirmishing at Dayton, Missouri; Bayou Tensas, Louisiana; and the start of a thirteen-day expedition by Federals from Big Black River, Mississippi, to Memphis, with considerable skirmishing.

Meanwhile, Grant’s huge army at Vicksburg is slowly being broken up; the XIII Army Corps is sent to Carrollton, Louisiana.

Discontent over rations and lack of furloughs appear to be the reason for a mutiny of several Confederate regiments at Galveston, Texas, but order is soon restored.

President Lincoln assures General Rosecrans, in command north of Chattanooga, that “I have not abated in my kind feeling for and confidence in you.” He adds, “Since Grant has been entirely relieved by the fall of Vicksburg, by which Johnston is also relieved, it has seemed to me that your chance for a stroke, has been considerably diminished....”
August 11, Tuesday

Confederate guns at Battery Wagner, Fort Sumter, and on James Island open furiously on Federal trenches on Morris Island, halting the Northern working parties. Meanwhile, Beauregard, in command of the Charleston area, orders the defense lines on James Island shortened. In Virginia Confederates capture a Union wagon train near Annandale. A Federal expedition from Portsmouth, Virginia, operates toward Edenton, North Carolina, for over a week.

At Washington, North Carolina, a large pro-Union meeting supports the Federal war effort.

Replying to General Lee’s offer to resign, President Davis refuses to consider it: “our country could not bear to lose you.”

President Lincoln, in a letter to Governor Seymour of New York, once more defends his policy regarding the draft.
August 12, Wednesday

Heavy Parrott rifles open from the low-lying sand batteries of Morris Island, firing against Fort Sumter and Battery Wagner. Although just a practice to establish the range, the firing in effect marks the opening of a new Federal offensive in Charleston Harbor. Even in practice the breeching batteries cause considerable destruction to the brick walls of Fort Sumter.

In Mississippi a skirmish occurs at Big Black River Bridge; and a ten-day Union expedition starts from Memphis, Tennessee, to Grenada, Mississippi. The First Division of the Federal IX Army Corps from Vicksburg arrives at Covington, Kentucky, en route to east Tennessee.

President Lincoln refuses to give Major General John A. McClernand a new command. McClernand has been relieved of corps command at Vicksburg by General Grant.
August 13, Thursday

On Morris Island Federal guns continue practice firing against Fort Sumter, now from both land batteries and naval guns. Other action is limited to skirmishes at Pineville, Missouri; Jacinto, Mississippi; and a four-day Federal expedition up the White and Little Red rivers in Arkansas. Federal troops begin a month-long expedition against the Amerinds of Dakota Territory.

A Confederate army chaplain writes to Davis expressing the feeling of many in and out of the Western armies “that every disaster that has befallen us in the West has grown out of the fact that weak and inefficient men have been kept in power,” and “I beseech you to relieve us of these drones and pigmies.” He includes Pemberton and Holmes.
August 14, Friday

Along with the armies and raiding cavalry, there have been many on both sides unwilling to subject themselves to military discipline or restraint in their prosecution of the war—especially along the Kansas-Missouri border—and one of the most infamous is “Bloody Bill” Quantrill. His actual name is William Clarke Quantrill, and by any standard he is an enigma—a Yankee who murders for the South, a Kansas jayhawker who betrayed his comrades to become a Missouri bushwhacker.

Even before the war began, he was living in Lawrence, Kansas, about forty miles from the Missouri line, and running with local toughs who jayhawked across the border for pleasure and stole horses—including those of their neighbors—for profit. The first enterprise was permissible but the second was not, and Quantrill soon found himself a very short step ahead of the law. Realizing that he had more than worn out his welcome, Quantrill determined to quit Kansas—but not without a proper send-off. In December of 1860 Quantrill accompanied five young Quaker abolitionists on a mission to liberate the 26 slaves of a prosperous Missouri farmer named Morgan Walker. When the Kansans neared the farm, Quantrill rode ahead of the others on the pretense of reconnoitering. Instead, he seized the opportunity to inform Walker’s family of the imminent raid—and when the unsuspecting Quakers arrived, they rode straight into a shotgun ambush. Three of the abolitionists were killed. Quantrill had a ready lie to excuse his betrayal: The Quakers, he said, had been members of a jayhawker gang that had murdered his older brother, and he had arranged their deaths as a matter of vengeance. This, of course, was something that the Missourians could admire, and Quantrill’s status as an avenging angel earned him instant admission into Missouri’s bushwhacking society.

By December 1861, after a year of raiding with other marauders, Quantrill organized his own band of bushwhackers, originally comprising ten youths. There was nothing subtle about Quantrill’s tactics; he relied almost entirely on sudden, headlong charges at the enemy, secure in the knowledge that his men possess firepower superior to their victims. Each of his bushwhackers carry four or five Colt revolvers on his person or within handy reach on his saddle. Against such weaponry, even the Union cavalry was outmatched, since most troopers at this stage of the war were armed with muskets or muzzle-loading carbines. Thus, in raid after raid, Quantrill established himself as the terror of the Missouri-Kansas border country. All through the summer of last year, Quantrill’s band robbed Union mails, ambushed Federal patrols, and attacked boats on the Missouri River. By autumn, Captain Quantrill’s gang (he received a Confederate captain’s commission authorized by General Thomas Hindman, then commander of the Trans-Mississippi District) numbered 150 men and were raiding Kansas towns. In November, anticipating a scarcity of food over the winter, Quantrill and his bushwhackers rode south to Confederate-held Arkansas, where General Sterling Price’s army could provide them with rations. It wasn’t until May that Federal authorities on the Missouri border learned some highly highly unwelcome news: Quantrill is back.

He takes up where he left off, and before long his rampages have become so commonplace that the Kansas City Journal of Commerce states as a matter of simple fact, “Quantrill & Co. do rule this section of the state.” Union forces in the region have been recently reorganized, and the commander of the so-called District of the Border is a general who clearly means business. Brigadier General Thomas Ewing Jr., a brother-in-law to William Tecumseh Sherman (another one), determines that he will strike at the bushwhackers where they are most vulnerable—through the women who give them food and shelter. During the summer, Ewing rounds up mothers, wives, sisters, and sweethearts of some of the more notorious bushwhackers and clap them in confinement. Soon a tragedy occurs. About a dozen of the women are being held on the second floor of a three-story Kansas City building so dilapidated that makeshift rafters are required to shore up its roof and ceilings. Today the building collapses, killing five of the women and seriously injuring several others. Among those crushed to death is a girl named Josephine Anderson; her sixteen-year-old sister Mary is badly hurt. Their brother William is already making a name for himself as one of the more vicious of Quantrill’s gang, and when he hears of the tragedy his frail hold on sanity will snap. Known as Bloody Bill Anderson, the maniacal man will henceforth ride into battle sobbing and frothing at the mouth.

At Charleston Federal guns continue their practice firing. Most of the action is in Missouri at Sherwood, Wellington, and near Jack’s Fork; as well as at West Point, Arkansas. Skirmishes break out at Washington, North Carolina, and there is a Federal scout in the Bull Run Mountains of Virginia. There is also a scout to Winchester, Virginia.

General Meade, in Washington, relates details of the Gettysburg Campaign to the President and Cabinet and discusses future operations.
Brigadier General Thomas Ewing Jr., a brother-in-law to William Tecumseh Sherman (another one), determines that he will strike at the bushwhackers where they are most vulnerable—through the women who give them food and shelter. During the summer, Ewing rounds up mothers, wives, sisters, and sweethearts of some of the more notorious bushwhackers and clap them in confinement. Soon a tragedy occurs. About a dozen of the women are being held on the second floor of a three-story Kansas City building so dilapidated that makeshift rafters are required to shore up its roof and ceilings. Today the building collapses, killing five of the women and seriously injuring several others. Among those crushed to death is a girl named Josephine Anderson; her sixteen-year-old sister Mary is badly hurt. Their brother William is already making a name for himself as one of the more vicious of Quantrill’s gang, and when he hears of the tragedy his frail hold on sanity will snap. Known as Bloody Bill Anderson, the maniacal man will henceforth ride into battle sobbing and frothing at the mouth.

It didn't help that the owner of the building which had been commandeered from him by Ewing publicly claimed that Ewing had deliberately caused the building to collapse on the women and girls. This was probably motivated both by a desire to obtain compensation from the Federal authorities for the loss of his building, and to divert blame away from himself, since it was the owner's own half-baked alterations to the building which had caused its dilapidated state in the first place. Bloody Bill Anderson and the others were convinced that the tragic (though probably preventable) accident had been an act of deliberate murder. This accounts for a lot of the bloody savagery which was to follow....
Potemkin wrote:This accounts for a lot of the bloody savagery which was to follow....

I have to disagree. It does play a part in what’s to follow, but the bushwhackers aren’t going to do anything that they haven’t done before, on a smaller scale.
Doug64 wrote:I have to disagree. It does play a part in what’s to follow, but the bushwhackers aren’t going to do anything that they haven’t done before, on a smaller scale.

Hmm... granted. Bleeding Kansas got a whole lot bleedier during the War.... :hmm:
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