The American Civil War, day by day - Page 75 - Politics | PoFo

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Amid all this hardship—and with worse trouble threatening—Rosecrans, says Charles Dana, seems “dazed and mazy” and “insensible to the impending danger.” Although the commanding general orders that steamboats be built and the railroads repaired, he has no concrete plan. He does take the time to apportion blame for the defeat at Chickamauga: Rosecrans’ attempt to shift blame for Chickamauga by relieving Generals McCook and Crittenden of their commands at the end of September has done nothing to distract attention from his own deterioration. President Lincoln is well aware of the situation: Dana is sending reports critical of Rosecrans to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, which the Secretary is sharing with the President. Lincoln does what he can to shore up the unsteady Chattanooga commander and assures him of Washington’s continued support.

A good general knows how to lose as well as how to win. Rosecrans did not seem to be able to believe and accept that all his cleverness and all his careful planning and husbanding of resources and delaying until the right moment had come to this. But the greatness of a military commander is often in how that commander recovers from a catastrophic defeat. As Thomas Paine put it, "These are the times that try men's souls...."
@Potemkin, true enough, Lee is giving a counterexample right now. Though to be fair, Lee’s situation after Gettysburg wasn’t quite this extreme.
October 13, Tuesday

Meade, no longer in severe danger of being cut off from Washington, although his skillful withdrawal continues, heads toward Manassas and Centreville. Unlike Pope, he doesn’t stop behind the Rappahannock to wait for an explosion deep in his rear. Instead, he keeps moving up the Orange & Alexandria Railroad—bringing his rear with him, so to speak. His aim is basically the same as Lee’s: the infliction of some “terrible wound,” if Lee and Providence afford him the opportunity. Meanwhile he takes care to see that he affords none to an adversary whose considerable fame has been earned at the expense of men who either had been negligent in that respect or else had been overeager in the other. He keeps his five corps well closed up, within easy supporting distance of one another as they withdraw northeast along the railroad.

General Lee, still riding with Ewell, reaches Warrenton today to receive a report from Jeb Stuart that the Federals are still at Warrenton Junction, due east on the main line, burning stores. There seems an excellent chance of cutting them off, somewhere up the line: perhaps at Bristoe Station, where Jackson landed with such explosive effect before. There is skirmishing near the important road center of Warrenton and at Fox’s Ford and Auburn.

Confederate raider Shelby suffers defeat at the hands of the Federals near Arrow Rock, and also fights at Marshall, Missouri. Joe Wheeler skirmishes at Maysville, Alabama, and Fayetteville, Tennessee; Chalmers at Wyatt, Mississippi. In West Virginia, fighting breaks out at Bulltown and Burlington; and Federals scout from Great Bridge, Virginia, to Indiantown, North Carolina.

Ohio voters decisively beat Clement L. Vallandigham, Democratic candidate for governor, in favor of War Democrat John Brough, who ran on the Republican or Union ticket. Vallandigham, who campaigned by mail from Canada, polls a surprisingly large vote despite his exile and condemnation as a Copperhead. Governor Andrew Curtin, a staunch Union supporter, is reelected in Pennsylvania. Union candidates also win in Indiana and Iowa. President Lincoln is particularly interested in Curtin being renamed.

In northern Georgia, President Davis, after touring Chickamauga and conferring with Bragg and other officers, authorizes Bragg to relieve Lieutenant General D.H. Hill from command. Hill and Bragg have long been at odds. Bragg sends Davis a letter approving the transfer of General Forrest to west Tennessee, and Davis leaves an invitation for Forrest to meet with him in Montgomery, Alabama.
October 14, Wednesday

In Virginia, General Hill’s lean marchers take the lead. Remembering the rewards of Jackson’s strike, they put their best foot forward, if for no other reason than the hope of getting it shod. Shoes, warm clothes, food, and victory: all these lie before them, fifteen miles away in Bristoe, if they can only arrive in time to forestall a Yankee getaway. As they march their hopes are heightened by the evidence that Meade, though clearly on the run, has no great head start in the race. Hill’s soldiers find early campfires still burning. Guns, knapsacks, blankets, etc., strewn along the road show that the enemy is moving in rapid retreat, and prisoners sent in every few minutes confirm Confederates’ opinion that Meade is fleeing in haste.

Not everyone with Meade approve of his cautious tactics; but Meade is watching and waiting, from Rappahannock Station through Warrenton Junction, for the chance he has in mind. Then suddenly,just up the line at Bristoe Station, he gets it. The opportunity is brief, scarcely more indeed than half an hour from start to finish, but he makes the most of it while it lasts. Or anyhow, the untried Warren does. Approaching Bristoe from the west at high noon, after a rapid march of fifteen miles, Hill sees northeastward, beyond Broad Run and out of reach, heavy columns of the enemy slogging toward Manassas Junction, a scant four miles away. He hasn’t won the race. But neither has he lost it, he sees next, not entirely. What appears to be the last corps in the Federal army is only about half over the run, crossing at a ford just north of the little town on the railroad, which comes in arrow-straight from the southwest, diagonal to the Confederate line of march. The uncrossed half of the blue corps, jammed in a mass on the near bank of the stream while its various components await their turn at the ford, seem to Little Powell to be his for the taking, provided he moves promptly. This he does. Ordering Heth, whose division is in the lead, to go immediately from march to attack formation, he puts two of his batteries into action and sends word for Anderson, whose division is in column behind Heth’s, to come forward on the double and reinforce the attack. Fire from the guns do more to hasten than to impede the crossing, however, and Hill tells Heth, though he has only two of his four brigades in line by now, to attack at once lest the bluecoats get away. Heth obeys, but as his men start forward he catches a glint of bayonets to their right front, behind the railroad embankment. When he reports this to Hill, asking whether he wouldn’t do better to halt and make a reconnaissance, Hill tells him to keep going: Anderson will be arriving soon to cover his flank. So the two brigades go on. It presently develops, however, that what they are going on to is by no means the quick victory their commander intends, but rather a sudden and bloody repulse at the hands of veterans who stood fast on Cemetery Ridge, fifteen weeks ago tomorrow, to serve Picket in much the same fashion, except that here the defenders have the added and rare advantage of surprise.

They make the most of it. Behind the embankment, diagonal to the advancing line, is the II Corps under Warren, the former chief of engineers, who, demonstrating here at Bristoe as sharp an eye for terrain as he showed in saving Little Round Top, has set for the unsuspecting rebels “as fine a trap as could have been devised by a month’s engineering.” His—not Sykes’s, as Hill had supposed from a hurried look at the crowded ford and the heavy blue columns already beyond Broad Run—is the last of the five Federal corps, and when he saw the situation up ahead he improvised the trap that is now sprung. As the two gray brigades come abreast of the three cached divisions, the bluecoats open fire with devastating effect. Back up the slope, Little Powell watches in dismay as his troops, reacting with soldierly but misguided instinct, wheel right to charge the embankment wreathed in smoke from the enfilading blasts of musketry. This new attempt, by two stunned brigades against three confident divisions, can have but one outcome. The survivors who come stumbling back are pitifully few, for many of the startled graybacks choose surrender, preferring to remain with their fallen comrades rather than try to make their return journey up the bullet-torn slope they had just descended. Elated, the Federals make a quick sortie that nets them five pieces of artillery and two stands of colors, which they take with them when they draw off, unmolested, across the run. The worst loss to the Confederates, though, is men. Both brigade commanders are shot down, along with nearly 1,400 killed or wounded and another 450 captured. The total is thus close to 1,900 casualties, as compared to a Union total of about 300, only fifty of whom were killed.

Indignation sweeps through the gray army when the rest of it arrives in the course of the afternoon and learns of what happened at midday, down in the shallow valley of Broad Run. No segment of the Army of Northern Virginia has suffered such a one-sided defeat since Mechanicsville, which was also the result of Little Powell’s impetuosity. Hill’s only reply to his critics is included in the report he will submit within two weeks. “I am convinced that I made the attack too hastily,” he will write, “and at the same time that a delay of half an hour, and there would have been no enemy to attack. In that event I believe I should equally have blamed myself for not attacking at once.” Seddon and Davis both will endorse Hill’s conclusion that he was overhasty.

Elsewhere, action includes fighting near Man’s Creek, Shannon County, Missouri; a skirmish with Shelby’s cavalry at Scott’s Ford, Missouri; skirmishing at Creek Agency, Indian Territory; Carrion Crow Bayou, Louisiana; Blountsville and Loudoun, Tennessee; and Salt Lick Bridge, West Virginia. Union expeditions of several days operate from Messinger’s Ferry on the Big Black toward Canton, Mississippi; and from Matchez and Fort Adams, Mississippi, to the Red River in Louisiana, seeking Confederate guerrillas.

Major General Christopher C. Auger supersedes Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman in command of the Federal Department of Washington, D.C.

President Davis in a message to the Army of Tennessee says, “Though you have done much, very much yet remains to be done. Behind you is a people providing for your support and depending on you for protection. Before you is a country devastated by your ruthless invader....”
October 15, Thursday

As much as the criticism of A.P. Hill’s disastrous attack yesterday likely stung the thin-skinned Virginian, worse by far is likely Lee’s rebuke this morning when Hill conducts him over the field, where the dead still lie in attitudes of pained surprise, and explains what occurred. Lee says little, knowing as he does that his auburn-haired lieutenant’s high-strung impetuosity, demonstrated in battle after battle—but most profitably at Sharpsburg, of which he himself wrote: “And then A. P. Hill came up”—has gained the army far more than it cost. “Well, well, General,” he remarks at last, “bury these poor men and let us say no more about it.”

Lee is distracted by the possibility of much heavier bloodshed, four miles up the line, where so much blood has been shed twice already. It seems to him that Meade, encouraged by Warren’s coup yesterday, will call a halt and prepare to fight a Third Manassas. That is very much what Lee himself wants, despite the disparity in numbers. Others have a different reason for wanting to push on at once to the famed junction. According to one of Stuart’s men, “We were looking forward to Manassas with vivid recollections of the rich haul we had made there just prior to the second battle of Manassas, and everybody was saying, ‘We’ll get plenty when we get to Manassas’.” As it turns out, though, Meade wants no part of a third fight on that unlucky ground. There is no battle, and there is no “rich haul” either. “We were there before we knew it,” the hungry trooper will write. “Everything was changed. There was not a building anywhere. The soil, enriched by debris from former camps, had grown a rich crop of weeds that came halfway up the sides of our horses, and the only way we recognized the place was by our horses stumbling over the railroad tracks.” This dreary vista is repeated all around. As far as the eye can reach on every side, there is one vast, barren wilderness; not a fence, not an acre cultivated, not a living object visible, and “but for here and there a standing chimney, on the ruins of what was once a handsome and happy home, one would imagine that man was never here” and that the country is an entirely new one.

Under these circumstances, with an inadequate wagon train and the railroad inoperable because the Federals have blown the larger bridges as they slog northward, for Lee to remain where he is means starvation for his men and horses. Nor can he attack, except at a prohibitive disadvantage; Mead has taken a position of great natural strength, which he promptly improves with intrenchments, along the Centerville-Chantilly ridge. Lee is confident he could turn Meade out of this, but that would be to drive him back on Washington with its 50,000-man garrison in its defenses and its 589 guns (Richmond, by contrast, has just over 5,000 men in its defenses and 42 guns); which plainly will not do, even if the poorly shod and thinly clad Confederates are in any condition for pursuit, now that the weather is turning colder, along the rocky pikes of Fairfax County.

As for Meade, when he announces Warren’s repulse of the rebels at Bristoe Station he passes along to Washington information gleaned from prisoners “that Hill’s and Ewell’s corps, reinforced to a reported strength of 80,000, are advancing on me, their plan being to secure the Bull Run in advance of me.” He supposes, he says, that Lee will “turn me again, probably by the right … in which case I shall either fall on him or retire nearer Washington.” Loncoln presumes from past performances that Meade would certainly choose the latter course.

With all the marching, the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac skirmish at McLean’s, Blackburn’s, and Mitchell’s fords and at Manassas and Oak Hill.

Federal troops operate toward Canton, Mississippi, skirmishing at Brownsville. Shelby’s cavalry continue their scrapping at Cross Timbers, Missouri. There is also an affair near Hedgesville, West Virginia. A skirmish occurs at Creek Agency, Indian Territory. In the east Tennessee fighting skirmishes are at Bristol and Philadelphia.

In Charleston Harbor the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley sinks for a second time during a practice dive. Hunley, the inventor, and seven men die. The vessel is raised again.
October 16, Friday

In Virginia, a heavy rain seems more or less to settle the question of any movement, in any direction whatever, by drenching the roads and fields, swelling the unbridged streams, and confining Lee to his tent with an attack of what is diagnosed as lumbago. His decision, reached before the downpour stops after nightfall, is to withdraw as he came, back down the railroad, completing the destruction Meade began.

Since Lee hasn’t advanced further, President Lincoln takes it as evidence that the Confederates are by no means as strong as the prisoners claimed. Irked by what he sees as a superfluidity of caution on Meade’s part, he risks a near commitment. “If Gen. Meade can now attack [Lee] on a field no worse than equal for us,” he writes today, “and will do so with all the skill and courage which he, his officers, and men possess, the honor will be his if he succeeds, and the blame may be mine of he fails.” Perhaps Meade notes the “may” in the copy Halleck sends him, or perhaps he recalls that other such letters had preceded other downfalls. In any event, since neither of his superiors is willing to put the suggestion in the form of a direct order, he chooses to continue the policy he has been following all along. Besides, he protests, this policy is no different from the one being urged on him. “It has been my intention to attack the enemy, if I can find him on a field no more than equal for us,” he replies. “I have only delayed doing so from the difficulty of ascertaining his exact position, and the fear that in endeavoring to do so my communications might be jeopardized.”

Although things are quiet in Virginia, skirmishes erupt at Grand Cateau, Louisiana; Fort Brooke, Florida; near Island No. 10 in Tennessee; at Treadwell’s near Clinton and Vernon Cross Roads, Mississippi; and at Pungo Landing, North Carolina. Shelby’s cavalry in Missouri fights at Johnstown, Deer Creek, and near and at Humansville.

General Grant reaches Cairo, Illinois. When he telegraphs Washington as instructed, he receives orders as enigmatic as those ordering him up from Vicksburg: “You will immediately proceed to the Galt House, Louisville, Kentucky, where you will meet an officer of the War Department with your orders and instructions. You will take with you your staff, etc., for immediate operations in the field.”
October 17, Saturday

En route to Louisville, at Indianapolis, Grant unexpectedly encounters the “officer of the War Department” he is supposed to meet—Secretary of War Edwin Stanton boards Grant’s train. The Secretary and Grant have never met and, as usual, Grant’s shabby appearance belies his rank. After Stanton bustles into Grant’s railroad car at the Indianapolis station he shakes hands with Dr. Edward Kittoe, Grant’s staff surgeon, and says: “How are you, General Grant? I knew you at sight from your pictures.” Once Stanton has located the real Grant, he hands him two sets of orders and tells him to choose between them. Both sets decree a radical change in the chain of command in the West. The three armies operating in the Tennessee area—the Armies of the Cumberland, the Ohio, and the Tennessee (Grant’s old Vicksburg command)—will be incorporated in a new Military Division of the Mississippi under Grant. Now comes the choice: One set of orders leaves Rosecrans in command of the Army of the Cumberland; the other names General George H. Thomas as Rosecrans’ successor. Grant has certain reservations about Thomas; he considers him to be too slow. But he regards Rosecrans as even more deliberate and a good deal less reliable. He replaces Rosecrans with General Thomas.

In Washington, President Lincoln issues a proclamation calling for 300,000 more volunteers for Federal armies.

Meanwhile, the march south of the Army of Northern Virginia gets under way in the morning, despite the mud from yesterday’s rain, with skirmishing near Chantilly, at Manassas Junction, Frying Pan Church, near Pohick Church, and at Groveton, Virginia. The Confederates are not prepared to await an attack by Meade. Meade doesn’t pursue, except with his cavalry, and he will soon have cause to regret that he has done even that much. Stuart, tasked with guarding the retreat, withdraws by way of Gainesville, down the Warrenton pike, Fitz Lee by way of Bristoe, down the railroad; the arrangement is that the two will combine if either is faced with more than he can handle.

Also in Virginia there is a skirmish at Berryville and an affair at Accotink, skirmishes in North Carolina near Camden Court House, and in Missouri in Cedar County, courtesy of Jo Shelby. In Mississippi the Federal expedition fights near Satartia, Bogue Chitto Creek, and at Robinson’s Mills near Livingston.

General Bragg orders Forrest’s two brigade currently under his command “to press vigorously toward Knoxville as soon as possible.” Forrest isn’t personally notified of this, likely because he has gone on leave.
October 18, Sunday

General Grant assumes command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, which gives him control over Federal military operations from the Mississippi east to the mountains. This comes after rumors from Chattanooga that Rosecrans might retreat. Thomas, now in command and told he must hold Chattanooga at all hazards, replies, “We will hold the town till we starve.”

In Virginia, the Army of Northern Virginia under Lee nears its old line, the Rappahannock, as it withdraws from the Bull Run-Manassas area. A skirmish at Bristoe Station occurs during the withdrawal. Pressed by superior numbers of Pleasonton’s troopers, Jeb Stuart falls back across Broad Run and, sending word for Fitz Lee to reinforce him, takes up position on the south bank to contest a crossing at Buckland Mills.

It seems to Halleck that Meade is more afraid of jeopardizing his reputation than his communications. Accordingly, with the encouragement of President Lincoln, he decides to crack down harder, apparently in the belief that more pressure from above might stiffen the reluctant general’s backbone. Today, Meade reports that Lee is again in motion, and though he doesn’t know what the Virginian has in mind, he thinks he might be headed for the Shenandoah Valley, as he did after Chancellorsville. Halleck replies that this might be so, but adds tauntingly, “If Lee has turned his back on you to cross the mountains, he certainly has seriously exposed himself to your blows, unless his army can move two miles to your one.” By evening, moreover, the general-in-chied has decided there is nothing to the report. “Lee is unquestionably bullying you,” he wires. “If you cannot ascertain his movements, I certainly cannot. If you pursue and fight him, I think you will find out where he is. I know of no other way.” Sooner or later, all subordinates—even the placid Grant—bridle under this kind of treatment from Old Brains, and the short-tempered Meade is by no means an exception. “If you have any orders to give me, I am prepared to receive and obey them,” he shoots back, “but I must insist on being spared the infliction of such truisms in the guise of opinions as you have recently honored me with, particularly as they were not asked for.” By way of emphasis, he adds: “I take this occasion to repeat what I have before stated, that if my course, based on my own judgment, does not meet with approval, I ought to be, and I desire to be, relieved from command.” This is his trump card, never played without overriding effect; for who is there in the Army of the Potomac to replace him?

Other fighting breaks out near Annandale and Berryville, Virginia; at Charleston, West Virginia; Carrion Crow Bayou, Louisiana; Carthage, Missouri; and near Clinton, Mississippi.

President Davis leaves north Georgia and Bragg’s army, proceeding west through Selma, Alabama. He has addressed the command problems of the Army of Tennessee simply by demoting or replacing all those opposed to Bragg. In the process the Army of Tennessee is reorganized into three corps. General Polk is assigned to General Joseph E Johnston’s Alabama-Mississippi department in exchange for Lieutenant General William J. Hardee, who returns to the Army of Tennessee as a corps commander. Simon Buckner is reduced from corps commander and is soon after granted a leave of absence. Daniel Harvey Hill is suspended and sent home, and his corps turned over to Major General John C. Breckinridge—who is an implacable foe of Bragg’s, but who didn’t sign the petition that sought his removal. Bragg relents in one case, returning Thomas Hindman to command under Breckinridge. It is obviously impossible to dispose so easily of James Longstreet, one of the most respected generals in the entire Confederate Army. Longstreet is stripped of several divisions—he keeps only his two from Virginia—but neither Davis nor Bragg can demote the general without setting off a furor throughout the Confederacy. However, Davis has thought of an assignment, which for the present he shares only with Bragg, that will soon separate the squabbling officers.The Union army under Burnside at Knoxville needs to be dealt with.
October 19, Monday

In Vrginia, Jeb Stuart is having little trouble contesting the Union crossing at Broad Run, banging away with his guns at the bridge he purposely left intact as a challenge, when a courier arrives with a suggestion from Fitz Lee, who has heard the firing and ridden ahead to assess the situation. If Stuart will fall back down the turnpike, pretending flight in order to draw the Yankees pell-mell after him, the courier explains, Fitz will be able to surprise them when they come abreast of a hiding place he will select for that purpose, some distance south, behind one of the low ridges adjoining the pike; whereupon Jeb can turn and charge them, converting the blue confusion into a rout. Stuart likes the notion and proceeds at once to put it into effect. The bluecoats—Judson Kilpatrick’s division, with Custer’s brigade in the lead—snap eagerly at the bait, pounding across the run in close pursuit of the fleeing graybacks, who lead them on a five-mile chase to Chestnut Hill. At this point, only two miles short of Warrenton, the “chase” ends. Hearing Fitz Lee’s guns bark suddenly from ambush, Jeb’s horsemen whirl their mounts and charge the head of the now halted and badly rattled column in their rear. There follows another five-mile pursuit—much like the first, except that it is in the opposite direction and is not a mock chase, as the other had been, but a true flight for life—all the way back to Buckland Mills. There Stuart finally calls a halt, laughing as he watches the Federals scamper across to the north bank of Broad Run. He has captured something over two hundred of them, along with several ambulances, Custer’s headquarters wagon, and a good deal of dropped equipment. One regret Stuart has, however, is that his opposite number Kilpatrick hadn’t kept his artillery near the front, as prescribed by the tactics manual; in which case, Jeb is convinced, “it would undoubtedly have fallen into our hands.”

This marks the last fighting of any significance in the Bristoe Campaign, although skirmishing takes place at Gainesville, New Baltimore, Catlett’s Station, and Haymarket. There is more skirmishing in East Mississippi at Smith’s Bridge; in South Carolina at Murrell’s Inlet; and in Missouri at Honey Creek.

Snail-like, General-in-Chief Halleck responds to Meade’s push back against him yesterday by pulling in his horns—as, in fact, it is his custom to do whenever they encounter resistance. “If I have repeated truisms,” he wires the general this morning, “it has not been to give offense, but to give you the wishes of the government. If, in conveying these wishes, I have used words which were unpleasing, I sincerely regret it.” Now it is Meade’s turn to be high-handed. “Your explanation of your intentions is accepted,” he replies, “and I thank you for it.”

General Grant and Secretary of War Stanton have spent the day at Louisville, Kentucky, talking strategy. This night the Secretary receives an alarming—although inaccurate—message from Charles Dana: Rosecrans is making preparations to abandon Chasttanooga. Greatly upset, Stanton instructs Grant that under no circumstances is the Army of the Cumberland to withdraw from the town. Grant instantly sends off a flurry of telegrams notifying Rosecrans that he is relieved of command and ordering Thomas to “Hold Chattanooga at all hazards.” The reply from the Rock of Chickamauga is immediate: “We will hold the town till we starve.”
October 20, Tuesday

In Virginia the Confederate cavalry retires across the Rappahannock as the campaign toward Bristoe and Manassas ends, resulting in little change of territory and few losses. Lee calls a halt and gives his men some badly needed rest while waiting for the blue army to arrive. He has congratulated his chief of cavalry, along with Lee’s nephew Fitz Lee, for achieving yesterday’s “handsome success”—an action to be known hereafter as the “Buckland Races”—though he was also prompt to deny the permission sought by Stuart, in his elation at the outcome of the ruse, to undertake a raid behind Meade’s lines while the blue troopers were trying to pull themselves together. In truth, Jeb and his men have done quite enough in the past ten days. Not only did the Buckland farce help to restore the army’s morale, damaged by the Bristoe fiasco six days ago, but at a cost of 408 casualties, most of them only slightly injured, he has inflicted 1,251 casualties on the enemy cavalry, all but about 300 of them killed or captured, and has assisted in the taking of some 600 infantry prisoners, mostly stragglers encountered during the movement north. With no more than 48,402 effectives, as compared to Meade’s 80,789, Lee has maneuvered his adversary into a sixty-mile withdrawal, from the Rapidan to beyond Bull Run. And now, though he himself was obliged to withdraw in turn for lack of subsistence, he has done what he can to insure that the inevitable Union follow-up will be a slow one. Meade burned only the bridges on the Orange & Alexandria; Lee burned the crossties, too, and warped the rails beyond salvation by piling them atop the burning ties. The Federals, unable to feed themselves without the use of the railroad, now that the autumnal rains are turning the roads into quagmires, will advance no faster than their work gangs can lay tracks. Confederate losses for October 10-21 are 205 killed, 1,176 wounded, a total of 1,381 casualties. Federal casualties are put at 136 killed, 733 wounded, and 1,423 missing or captured for a total of 2,292.

General Grant, after conferring with Secretary of War Stanton, leaves Louisville for Chattanooga. From Nashville he wires instructions to Burnside in east Tennessee and to other officers.

General Forrest has been “dissatisfied” with the failure to return his two brigades transferred to Wheeler and the order independently given to his brigades that remain, but is mollified by President Davis’s invitation to meet with him and the okay for another leave of absence.

Near beleaguered Chattanooga, a Federal reconnaissance operates from Bridgeport toward Trenton, Alabama. Other action includes skirmishing at Barton’s and Dickson stations and Cane Creek, Alabama; Treadwell’s Plantation, Mississippi; Warm Springs, North Carolina; and Philadelphia, Tennessee.
October 21, Wednesday

On his way to Chattanooga, when General Grant reaches the railroad junction at Stevenson, Alabama, he encounters General Rosecrans, who is on his way home to Cincinnati. The two men have a cordial meeting. Rosecrans describes very clearly the situation in Chattanooga and makes some excellent suggestions as to what should be done, Grant will recall, adding dryly: “My only wonder is that he had not carried them out.” From Bridgeport to Chattanooga Grant faces almost impassable, muddy, washed-out mountain roads and is further handicapped by being on crutches since his fall from a horse in New Orleans.

In the Bayou Teche operations in Louisiana, Federal forces under General Franklin have advanced about 75 miles, skirmishing along the way with Confederates led by Major General Richard Taylor, the 37-year-old son of Zachary Taylor, hero of the Mexican War, and a hero himself earlier in the war as one of Stonewall Jackson’s ablest lieutenants. But Taylor has only been able to slow Franklin down, not stop him, and today Franklin occupies Opelousas, Louisiana, after fighting there and at Barre’s Landing. But here Franklin dawdles indecisively. He has learned that food will be exceedingly hard to find in sparsely inhabited western Louisiana, and he is loathe to move without a large, well-stocked wagon train. Soon he will begin to pull back—only to have his northernmost brigade surprised in its camp near Grand Coteau by two cavalry brigades under newly promoted Brigadier General Thomas Green, the Confederate leader at the Battle of Valverde in New Mexico last year. Green’s Texans, supported by three infantry regiments from Major General John Walker’s Texas division, rout the Federals anc capture almost 600 men.

Other action takes place at Cherokee Station, Alabama; Sulphur Springs, Tennessee; and Greenton Valley near Hopewell, Missouri. Federals scout from Charleston to Boone County Court House, West Virginia.

When Meade finds out, as he presently does, that the Army of Northern Virginia isn’t headed for the Shenandoah Valley but is withdrawing as it has come, back down the railroad, he privately admits that Lee has indeed bullied him, though he doesn’t use that word. He perceives now that it has never been his adversary’s real intention to come between him and Washington at all, as he supposed, but simply to maneuver him rearward, sixty miles or more, and thus forestall a continued Union advance during the brief period of good weather that remained. Lee’s has been “a deep game,” Meade writes to his wife, “and I am free to admit that in the playing of it he has got the advantage of me.” Accordingly, after his cavalry fail to intercept or indeed scarcely even trouble the retiring enemy, he puts his repair gangs to work on the wrecked supply line and follows with his infantry. The advance is necessarily slow, being regulated to the speed with which the rails are laid and the bridges reconstructed.
October 22, Thursday

General Grant toils over the atrocious roads en route to Chattanooga, where General George H. Thomas doggedly resists the Confederate siege. The journey over the long Federal supply route through Anderson’s Crossroads reveals to Grant the seriousness of the problems he faces. A driving downpour persists for the entire trip. The steep, narrow, and slippery road, Grant will write, “[is] strewn with the debris of broken wagons and the carcasses of thousands of starved mules and horses.” At one point, Grant’s horse slips on the treacherous trail and throws him; his battered leg is once again severely bruised.

Fighting breaks out near Volney, Kentucky; New Madrid Bend, Tennessee; Brownsville, Mississippi; Bloomfield, Missouri; Annandale, Virginia; and on the Rappahannock at Rappahannock Bridge and near Bealeton, Virginia.
October 23, Friday

In a major command change, President Davis relieves General Leonidas Polk from command of a corps in the Army of Tennessee. Polk is assigned to organizational work in Mississippi, replacing General Hardee. Davis issues his orders from Meridian, Mississippi, another stop in his Western tour.

Just as darkness is falling, Grant arrives at Thomas’s headquarters in Chattanooga “wet, dirty and well,” in Dana’s words. Grant finds that despite his fall the hard traveling has improved, rather than worsened, his injured leg.

With as slowly as the Army of the Potomac is moving south, General Meade has time for a quick visit to the capital, at Helleck’s urging, for a conference with the President. Meade reports to his wife that he finds Lincoln kind and considerate, though obviously disappointed that Meade hasn’t gotten a battle out of Lee. At one point, though, the talk shifts to Gettysburg and the touchy subject of the pursuit of the rebels to the Potomac. “Do you know, General, what your attitude toward Lee for a week after the battle reminded me of?” Lincoln asks, and when Meade replies, “No, Mr. President, what is it?” Lincoln says: “I’ll be hanged if I could think of anything else than an old woman trying to shoo her geese across the creek.” For once, Meade keeps his temper under control, but he is glad to return tomorrow to his army, away from the Washington atmosphere.

Yet another skirmish breaks out near Rappahannock Station, Virginia, as the armies in Virginia again probe each other. A skirmish is also fought at Warm Springs, North Carolina.
At one point, though, the talk shifts to Gettysburg and the touchy subject of the pursuit of the rebels to the Potomac. “Do you know, General, what your attitude toward Lee for a week after the battle reminded me of?” Lincoln asks, and when Meade replies, “No, Mr. President, what is it?” Lincoln says: “I’ll be hanged if I could think of anything else than an old woman trying to shoo her geese across the creek.”

Ouch! Nobody could be more biting than Lincoln in his 'folksy' mode. :lol:
@Potemkin, yup, Lincoln could be patient and forbearing beyond belief, but he had a temper. And thanks to his determination not to make the mistake the Czar did a couple generations later of taking personal responsibility for military operations he could get incredibly frustrated, and it slipped out occasionally. Usually in letters he’d write and never send, but when he meets them in person … :eek:
October 24, Saturday

Early in the morning at Chattanooga, General Grant is back on his horse, studying the terrain, and listening delightedly to a plan—already set in motion by Thomas—for ending the Confederate siege. The author of the plan is a West Point acquaintance of Grant’s, Brigadier General William F. Smith. He joined the Army of the Cumberland as its chief engineer only a few days ago. Already his men have built a sawmill—using “an old engine found in the neighborhood”—and are building crude boats and pontoons.

Smith has made a careful study of the area’s geography, with special attention to the terrain between the army at Chattanooga and its supply base at Bridgeport. Two and a half miles downstream from Chattanooga, the Tennessee River interrupts its southwestard course and makes an abrupt turn to the northwest around a tongue of land called Moccasin Point. From the pontoon bridge already in place at Chattanooga a road leads directly westward across Moccasin Point for two miles until it hits the river again at Brown’s Ferry. From Brown’s Ferry the river continues northwestward for five miles toward Walden’s Ridge then makes another hairpin turn to the southwest for seven miles, creating a peninsula open to the south. The road from Brown’s Ferry continues west across this neck of land to another ferry—Kelley’s. significantly, Kelley’s Ferry can be reached from Bridgeport by steamboat.

The road from Chattanooga to Kelley’s Ferry is for its entire length out of range of the Confederate artillery posted on Lookout Mountain. The problem is that the Confederates are holding Brown’s Ferry and a stretch of road west of it. By taking control of that short stretch the Federals can get their supplies into Chattanooga with an overland haul of only eight miles. And Smith has a plan. Two forces will move against Brown’s Ferry from Chattanooga, one marching straight across Moccasin Point while the other—the key to the operation—drifts down the river in pontoon boats. The water-borne force will surprise and overpower the pickets on the Confederate side of the river. Then the combined forces will use the pontoons to build a bridge and move on to occupy the road to Kelley’s Ferry. In addition, General Joseph Hooker is to send three of his divisions across the Tennessee on pontoons at Bridgeport. They are to march eastward along the railroad, around the flanks of the lightly held Raccoon Mountain to the hamlet of Wauhatchie, just west of Lookout Mountain. There, Hooker’s men will be in a position to support the attacks on the ferries, if necessary, and can also help clear the area between them. Grant endorses the plan enthusiastically.

Farther west, Major General William T. Sherman formally assumes command of the Army of the Tennessee, replacing Grant.

Skirmishing in Virginia is at Liberty and Bealeton; in Louisiana at Washington; and in Alabama at Tuscumbia. Shelby’s raiders skirmish near Harrisonville, Missouri, and Buffalo Mountains, Arkansas. At last Shelby is apparently leaving Missouri.

President Lincoln instructs General Halleck that “with all possible expedition the Army of the Potomac get ready to attack Lee....” Meade replies that he will “make every preparation with the utmost expedition to advance....”
October 25, Sunday

Confederate John S. Marmaduke attacks Pine Bluff, Arkansas, after his demand for its surrender is refused. Eventually he withdraws after partial occupation. In Virginia there are skirmishes at and near Bealeton; and in Tennessee fighting breaks out at Philadelphia.
October 26, Monday

The guns roar again at Charleston as the second great bombardment opens from land and sea. Guns and mortars fire on into the night. Shelby fights in Johnston County, Arkansas, after his lengthy Missouri raid, and a fight breaks out at King’s House near Waynesville, Missouri. Confederates attack a wagon train near New Baltimore, Virinia. Other action flares at Ravenswood, West Virginia; Warm Springs, North Carolina; Jones’ Hill and Sweet Water, Tennessee; Vincent’s Cross Roads near Bay Springs, Mississippi; and near Cane Creek and Barton’s Station, Alabama. Until November 15th Federal troops operate from Cape Girardeau to Doniphan, Missouri, and Pocahontas, Arkansas.
October 27, Tuesday

The Union preparations at Chattanooga have been made in strictest secrecy, and at 3 am General Smith’s forces move stealthily out of the town. While 3,500 infantrymen commanded by Brigadier General John B. Turchin march overland toward Confederate-held Brown’s Ferry with three batteries of artillery in support, Brigadier General William B. Hazen and 1,500 more troops float noiselessly down the Tennessee in fifty oar-equipped pontoons and two flatboats. Once past the Chattanooga defenses, the Federal soldiers on the water are in enemy territory and will be for seven miles; there is a full moon, but a light fog and scattered clouds help hide them. For two tense hours they drift downriver, the men lying flat in their boats, motionless and soundless. Hazen’s troops can hear the Confederate sentinels singing to keep themselves awake; and at one point two guards can be seen staring intently over the river toward the boats—but no alarm is given.

As the sky begins to lighten, the leading pontoons come abreast of some small signal fires lit on the east bank by Turchin’s men. The silence is shattered as General Hanzen bellows “Pull in!” The men in the boats spring up, their squad leaders shout orders, the oars are unlimbered—and the handful of Confederate pickets on the west bank open fire. The Federals hit the west bank and scramble ashore in the dim light, more or less at their assigned places near the ferry landing, and they are able to brush away the enemy pickets easily. But the road ahead runs in a defile through a steep ridge that commands the ferry landing; the men will have to take the crest of that ridge if they expect to hold the bridgehead. And that isn’t going to be easy. There are six Confederate companies on the height, and they are commanded by one of Longstreet’s more promising young officers, Colonel William C. Oates. Hearing gunfire and informed of the routing of the pickets, he orders two of his companies to counterattack immediately. Oates will recall that he told his officers “to deploy their men at one pace apart and instruct them to walk right up to the foe, and for every man to place the muzzle of his rifle against the body of a Yankee when he fired.” Employing this unusual tactic as best they can, two of Oates’s companies are able to drive back the Federals for a distance, but soon they are receiving heavy fire from the flank. Finally, Oates sends in all six of his companies, and still he can’t cover the enemy’s front. While encouraging his men, Oates is felled by a bullet in the right hip. During this skirmish Turchin’s Federals are using the pontoon boats to row themselves across the river, and soon they possess overwhelming odds. Outflanked and outnumbered, the Confederates witrhdraw to the south, toward Lookout Mountain, carrying Colonel Oates with them. The Federal forces secure the bridgehead and go to work. By midafternoon, the pontoons have been planked over to make a serviceable bridge at Brown’s Ferry, protected by light breastworks. The little operation has been accomplished without a hitch. Federal casualties total only 38; only six of them are fatalities. An exultant General Hazen strides along his lines yelling to his men, “We’ve knocked the cover off the cracker box!”

The second major bombardment of Fort Sumter goes into high gear with 625 Federal shot fired. The usual fighting occurs elsewhere: Tulip, Arkansas; near Bealeton and Rappahannock stations, Virginia; Cherokee County, North Carolina; on Sandy River near Elizabeth, West Virginia; Clinch Mountain, Tennessee; and Little Bear Creek, Alabama. Federals scout from Columbia toward Pulaski, Tennessee. From New Orleans General Banks gets his expedition underway toward the Rio Grande and the coast of Texas. He still hopes to establish a foothold in Texas, despite failure at Sabine Pass and on the Teche.
October 28, Wednesday

Federal reinforcements are on their way to Chattanooga. Hooker started his troops east toward Chattanooga yesterday morning. Major General Oliver O. Howard leads the way with the two XI Corps divisions; Brigadier General John W. Geary follows with a division from Slocum’s XII Corps. Their advance is almost completely without incident, and by this evening Howard’s men are in position a mile from Brown’s Ferry. General Geary’s division halts three miles to the south, in Wauhatchie.

The Confederate high command is slow to react to this critical development. Despite repeated warnings from Oates and others, Longstreet apparently believed that the action at Brown’s Ferry was of little significance, and he didn’t even bother to pass the word to Bragg. When Bragg learns of the rout he is furious, and this morning he summons Longstreet to a confederance on Lookout Mountain. As the two men argue heatedly, a signal party sends word that Federal columns are approaching from the southwest. Bragg refuses to believe the report, but then he and Longstreet are led to a place that affords a sweeping view of the valley; they can see the Federals on the road below “marching quietly along the valley toward Brown’s Ferry.” As they watch, Geary’s division comes in sight and makes its bivouac immediately in front of the point where they stand. Even though the threat is now obvious, Bragg and Longstreet fail to agree on a course of action. Bragg insists that Longstreet attack the Federal bridgehead at Brown’s Ferry, using both of his divisions; Bragg even makes available an additional division of Breckinridge’s corps as a reserve. But Longstreet has other ideas: Instead he advances on Geary’s troops at Wauhatchie with a single division in a rare night attack.

Longstreet dispatches Hood’s former division, now under Brigadier General Micah Jenkins, west past the tip of Lookout Mountain to the road linking Wauhatchie and Brown’s Ferry. From there a brigade under Brigadier General Evander M. Law moves a short distance to the north and takes a position on high ground to the right of the road to prevent Hooker’s main force from reinforcing Geary. Jenkins takes a brigade of 1,800 men south and, shortly after midnight, deploys and advances on Geary. There is a strong moon this night, but frequently it is obscured by drifting clouds. The Confederates attack in a rush, out of the darkness, hurtling their main body, without skirmishers, on Geary’s left. Although Geary is more experienced as a politician—elected Mayor of San Francisco and later Governor of Kansas—than as a general, he commands his men well. Despite the shock of the sudden assault, the Federals stand fast. No one is able to see more than a few feet into the darkness—the fire of the men is directed by watching the explosion of the enemy’s muskets. Geary’s defenders have two advantages. They know approximately where their lines are and therefore can shoot without hitting comrades. And they have four guns already positioned to fire over their own lines into the enemy’s. As the engagement spreads from Geary’s left to his right, he can hear the attackers calling to one another to “pick off the artillerists.” As a fierce new attack is launched on his right flank, two companies from a Pennsylvania regiment and one gun—under Geary’s son, Lieutenant Edward Geary—are repositioned to meet it. The Pennsylvanians hold, but the Federals pay a stiff price. The Federals fall rapidly, two of the Federal guns are put out of commission, and Geary’s son is killed.

Their losses notwithstanding, the embattled Federals continue to fight off Jenkin’s Confederates. General Hooker, at Brown’s Ferry, has heard the firing and ordered a division commanded by Major General Carl Schurz to rush to Geary’s relief at the double-quick. The other division, under Brigadier General Adolph von Steinwehr, is to follow. Schurz’s division starts off down the wrong road and gets lost in a swamp, but eventually finds its way to Wauhatchie and runs into Law’s waiting Confederates. At this point the Federals fall into bungling. Apparently the orders that instructed at least part of the force to continue to Wauhatchie to join Geary either were not delivered or aren’t obeyed. Two Federal brigades—one of Schurz’s and later one of von Steinwehr’s—stop to deal with Law, but the bulk of the Federal reinforcements—four brigades—unaccountably halt, leaving Geary to fight his own battle. Law’s Confederates are well situated on high ground. Although outnumbered and even almost encircled by their enemy, they are able to withstand several Federal attacks and inflict heavy casualties. Finally, a brigade of von Steinwehr’s division launches a bayonet charge, in the dark, up the rugged hill in a last-ditch effort to dislodge the Confederates. The reckless ascent is led by a Massachusetts regiment. Advancing under heavy fire, they soon reach a formidable obstacle—a crooked ravine some twenty feet deep, the sides of which are almost perpendicular, slippery with leaves and clay, and covered with brush rendered still more formidable by the deceptive moonlight. The regiment gallantly plunges into it, falls back under heavy fire, reforms and advances again with fixed bayonets. The hill becomes so steep that in some places the men have to pull themselves up by grasping shrubs and roots. Reaching the crest, Rider’s men charge into the Confederates, who break and flee down the opposite slope.

By this time Geary, too, is contemplating a bayonet charge; he is almost out of ammunition, and his flanks have been pushed back until the men on the right are standing almost back to back with the men on the left. But it is the Confederates who give out first. Suddenly, at half past three o’clock they cease firing on Geary’s left and, firing a few volleys at the Federal center—promptly responded to—they retire, leaving the field to the Federals. Wauhatchie is one of the few fairly important night engagements of the war. Northern losses are 78 killed, 327 wounded, and 15 missing for 420 casualties. Confederate lost an estimated 34 killed, 305 wounded, and 69 missing for 408. Afterward a rumor will circulate in the Federal camp that the Confederates broke off the engagement under highly unusual circumstances. As the tale will go, the teamsters accompanying Geary’s division had panicked when the battle started, abandoning their mules. Later the frightened animals stampeded into the Confederate lines—“heads down and tails up,” according to an alleged witness, “with trace chains rattling and whiffletrees snapping over the stumps of trees.” Sone of the startled Confederates, sure they were facing a cavalry charge, faltered and fled. The story of the mule attack will be told and retold in the Federal army, doubtless improving with each retelling. As it happens, the battle has occurred at a time when the Northern public believes that too many brevet, or honoray, promotions are being handed out. General Grant will be greatly amused when the quartermaster whose department is in charge of the mules forwards the following recommendation to him: “I respectively request that the mules, for their gallantry in this action, may have conferred upon them the brevet rank of horses.”

In Arkansas, Federal cavalry occupy Arkadelphia south of Little Rock. Skirmishing erupts at Clarksville and Leiper’s Ferry, Tennessee. At Charleston, 679 shots are fired against the almost wrecked Fort Sumter, but the garrison holds on. The fort is more a symbol now than a valuable military objective.

Lincoln, still upset over the political situation in Missouri, writes General John M. Schofield in St. Louis about the evils of allegedly arming disloyal citizens and disarming the loyal in Missouri, admonishing, “Prevent violence from whatever quarter; and see that the soldiers themselves, do no wrong.”
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