Monday, December 31, 2012

December 30, 1862

December 30, 1862:  Stones River Campaign, Central Tennessee -- Gen. Braxton Bragg, in command of the 35,000 men of the Army of Tennessee, CSA, begins to consolidate his forces, which have  been spread out over the countryside around Murfreesboro.  He positions his army on the west side of Stones River, even though he does have the river at his back and the terrain is less favorable for defense.  He ordered Gen. Joseph Wheeler to take his cavalry on a raid: Wheeler circumnavigates the entire Army of the Cumberland, attacks Union columns on the way, creating havoc and confusion---in addition, he destroys over 400 wagons, captures over 600 Yankees (and nearly as many horses), in addition to several thousand rifles.  The Confederate plan:  Bragg plans on Breckinridge holding firm, and then for Hardee’s and Polk’s corps to effect a massive right wheel from the left to hit the right flank and roll up the Federal line.

Rosecrans, in the meantime, has reduced his 80,000 army to 41,000, since he has been forced to leave divisions along the way to guard his supply and communications routes.  He places his troops by this evening close to the Confederate lines, putting McCook’s corps on the right, Thomas’s corps in the center, and Crittenden on the left.  Bragg has placed Hardee’s Corps on the left, Polk in the center, and Breckinridge’s division is posted on the right, across the Stones River, to watch the Union left, in case Rosecrans tries to cross the river for a flank attack.  The Union plan: Rosecrans has instructed Crittenden to cross the river in the morning and sweep to the right, pushing Breckinridge out of the way to get into the Confederate rear. 

Map showing U.S. and C.S. positions as of dusk, December 30

---Gen. Sherman decides to call off the campaign to take the Chickasaw Bluffs.  He asks Pemberton for a truce to recover the wounded and dead.

---Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and his Rebel cavalry are raiding far behind enemy lines, up through Fairfax County to the very outskirts of Washington, D.C. 

---Sergeant Alexander G. Downing, of the 11th Iowa Infantry, in the Army of the Tennessee, records this incident in his journal:

Tuesday, 30th—We struck our tents and started at 10 a. m. We reached Coldwater by noon and stopped for our mess. Our colonel must have been cold and in a hurry, for he gave the order, “Front right dress! Stack arms! Break ranks! Get rails and build fires! G— D—!” It amused the boys and they were not long in building fires and preparing hot coffee. At 1 o’clock we left for Moscow, Tennessee, along the railroad, and after a day’s march of twenty miles went into bivouac for the night within one mile of town.

---The U.S.S. Monitor, steaming south to take up blockade duty, founders and sinks in a storm off Cape Hatteras, taking the lives of four officers and twelve men in the process.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 29, 1862

December 29, 1862: 

The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou,  Mississippi

Day 3:  Sherman faces increasing odds as Confederates from Pemberton’s field army opposing Grant northward begin to arrive at Chickasaw Bluffs to bolster Generals Smith and Lee in opposing the slow Federal advance.  For this morning, Sherman’s plan is for Morgan’s division to run straight up the heights, supported by Steele’s division.  But when dawn comes, Morgan is confused: his engineers had bridged the wrong stream, and the Confederate artillery is raining shells down on them.  The attack bogs down into an infantry firefight.  He decides to call off the attack.  When Sherman rides to the front and straightens out the mess.  Having re-directed Morgan to the point of attack, Morgan sends the brigades of Blair and DeCourcy forward when Sherman gives the signal at Noon.  They push the Rebels back with speed, but when the reach the steep slopes of the bluffs, they are easy marks for Southern sharpshooters, and the Federals are falling in large numbers.  Morgan calls off the attack, and his men withdraw.  The Union losses for the day are heavy: 205 killed, 1,005 wounded, and 563 missing. The Confederates suffer lighter casualties:  57 killed, 120 wounded, and 10 missing.

---David Lane, a Union soldier in the 17th Michigan Infantry Regiment, encamped near Fredericksburg, writes in his journal:

As I was about to retire for the night, our door was thrown open and some letters were handed in. Among them was one for me. I recognized the well-known hand—tore open the envelope, and, after perusing the welcome contents over and over again, I went to bed and dreamed of home.

Inexpressibly dear, to the soldier, are letters from home. It is interesting to stand by as the mail is being distributed, and, as the names are called, witness the animated, joyful expression that illuminates the countenance of the happy recipients, while those less favored retire to their tents disappointed and sad.

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 28, 1862

December 28, 1862:   

The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou,  Mississippi

Day 2:  Having finally driven the Confederate forward units back to the line of bluffs, Sherman details Brig. Gen. Frederick Steele with his division to attack the Confederate right.  Steele deploys the brigades of DeCourcy and Blair forward, and the Federals are snared by obstructions and slowed by Rebel cannon.  The attack slows and stops.  Sherman plans on bigger attacks for the morrow.

---Gen. John McClernand finally arrives in Memphis to take command of the divisions he has raised for an expedition to take Vicksburg, under his command.  When he arrives, he finds, as he suspected, that his troops have been absorbed into William T. Sherman ‘s command and have already gone downriver.  McClernand sends Grant a letter expressing his disappointment and requesting guarantees from Grant that his command will be restored to him.  And he waits.

---There are disturbing reports of a high number of executions in the Army of Tennessee in Murfreesboro, at the commanding general’s order, mostly for desertion.  This has a profoundly negative effect on the morale of the soldiers.

---A number of ironmasters, including Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond and Vulcan Iron Works in Chattanooga, elect to call a convention of all iron companies throughout the South, in an attempt to find more skilled practitioners in the iron trades.  Translation:  Southern iron mills do not have enough skilled ironmakers to keep up with production needs.

---David Lane, a young soldier in the 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, writes sobering thoughts about the Army of the Potomac and its commander:

Camp near Fredericksburg, Dec. 28th, 1862.

The battle of Fredericksburg has been fought and —lost. We are now engaged in the laudable occupation of making ourselves comfortable; building log huts to protect ourselves from the cold storms of winter. Our brigade—the First—was not engaged at Fredericksburg. We were commanded by Colonel Poe, a graduate of West Point, a man thoroughly versed in the art of war. He saw the utter hopelessness of the struggle, and, when the order came to advance, he flatly refused to sacrifice his men in the unequal contest. Of course, he was put under arrest, and will be court-martialed, but he saved his men.

The eighteen thousand slaughtered husbands and sons who fell at Fredericksburg does not comprise our greatest loss. This whole army, for the time being, is thoroughly demoralized. It has lost all confidence in its leaders—a condition more fatal than defeat.

The leaders of the different corps do not work in unison. Our commander lacks the mental force to weld and bind these discordant, disintegrating elements into one solid, compact, adhesive mass, subject to his will and guided by his judgment; and herein lies the cause of our defeat.

---Muldraugh’s Hill, Kentucky, is the site of a trestle bridge for the railroad.  The 71st Indiana Infantry Regiment is attacked from several sides by John Hunt Morgan’s Rebel raiders: after a 10-hour fight, the Indianans had to surrender.  Morgan’s men destroy the trestle. 

---In Arkansas, Gen. James G. Blunt’s Federals attack and capture the city of Van Buren, Arkansas, a strategic point on the Arkansas River, along with the surrendered garrison, a large amount of supplies, and four riverboats loaded with military supplies.

---At Elk Fork, Tennessee, two regiments of Kentucky cavalry, the 6th and 10th, in the Union army, attack a Confederate camp with a superior force of Rebels, routing them and capturing many.

December 27, 1862

December 27, 1862: 

The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou


Day 1:  Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, in command of an advance corps of the Army of the Tennessee, lands his corps the night before at Johnson’s Plantation, on the Yazoo River, just a few miles from the Chickasaw Bluffs that flank the north side of the city of Vicksburg.  Sherman’s three divisions are each assigned a route of approach to the tree-choked Chickasaw Bayou, which flows from the Yazoo to the Mississippi, and which parallels the best approaches to Chickasaw Bluffs.  Added to Martin Luther Smith’s division of Rebels (brigades Barton, Vaughn, Gregg, and Tracy) is Gen. Stephen D. Lee and his two brigades (Withers and Thomas), who line up in advance of the Walnut Hills defenses (Chickasaw Bluffs).  Sherman has the divisions of A.J. Smith, George Morgan, and Morgan Smith, and Frederick Steele.  Sherman’s troops advance and begin to encounter Lee’s Rebels at Mrs. Lake’s Plantation.  Morgan’s division is supposed to attack the Rebels on their flank, but Morgan simply marches south, while a brigade under Frank Blair marches east, and the Rebels are hit from two directions.  But the attacks are not coordinated, and although the Federals drive the Southerners back, it is only a handful of Rebel regiments who hold back two entire Federal divisions until dark.  Water barriers, abatises, and forward rifle pits make the going difficult for the Federals’ advance, which bogs down.

Sherman's advance on Chickasaw Bayou -- the Union's best chance for a land approach to Vicksburg

At the beginning of his move down the Mississippi several days ago, Sherman had written to his brother, Senator John Sherman of Ohio, outlining the perameters of the campaign:

I embarked to-day on the Forest Queen and will have 20,000 men in boats by noon and be off for the real South. At Helena I will get about 12,000 more. Like most of our boasts of the “Myriads of the northwest sweeping away to the Gulf,” “breaking the back bone,” &c. &c., the great Mississippi expedition will be 32,000 men. Vicksburg is well fortified and is within telegraphic and railroad reach of Meridian, Mobile, Camp Moore and Grenada, where Pemberton has 30,000 to 35,000 men. Therefore don't expect me to achieve miracles.

---Gen. William Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland are moving cautiously toward Murfreesboro in order to attack Gen. Bragg’s Confederates of the Army of Tennessee, but active Southern mounted reconnaissance prevents Rosecrans from being able to surprise Bragg, so far.

---After a spirited battle, Gen. John H. Morgan of the Rebel cavalry attacks and captures Elizabethtown, Kentucky, far behind Union lines.

---At Dumphries, Virginia, three Union regiments and artillery engage in a desperate battle with Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry, in which the Yankees drive off the Rebel horsemen.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 26, 1862

December 26, 1862:   This morning, in Mankato, Minnesota, 38 condemned Dakota and Lakota (Sioux) warriors, out of the original 304 who had been slated for execution for bringing on the Sioux Uprising, were hanged in the what still remains the largest mass execution in United States history.

---Vicksburg, Mississippi:  Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and his 20,000 men and nearly 70 ships) arrive near Vicksburg, his men loaded on river transports.  Yesterday, they had landed at Miliken’s Bend, the designated landing place and supply depot for the Vicksburg campaign.  Sherman plans to steam up the Yazoo River to Chickasaw Bluffs in order to get around behind Vicksburg, but he finds that Gen. Martin L. Smith of the Confederate army has already fortified this precise line of bluffs, hoping for the Yankees to attack there. 

---Sarah Morgan, of Baton Rouge, writes in her journal of Christmas with very little to celebrate with, except for a few young officers to join them:

I commenced writing to-day expressly to speak of our pleasant Christmas; yet it seems as though I would write about anything except that, since I have not come to it yet. Perhaps it is because I feel I could not do it justice. At least, I can say who was there. At sunset came Captain Bradford and Mr. Conn, the first stalking in with all the assurance which a handsome face and fine person can lend, the second following with all the timidity of a first appearance. . . . Again, after a long pause, the door swung open, and enter Mr. Halsey, who bows and takes the seat on the other side of me, and Mr. Bradford, of Colonel Allen memory, once more returned to his regiment, who laughs, shakes hands all around, and looks as happy as a schoolboy just come home for the holidays, who has never-ending visions of plumcakes, puddings, and other sweet things. While all goes on merrily, another rap comes, and enter Santa Claus, dressed in the old uniform of the Mexican War, with a tremendous cocked hat, and preposterous beard of false hair, which effectually conceal the face, and but for the mass of tangled short curls no one could guess that the individual was Bud. It was a device of the General’s, which took us all by surprise. Santa Claus passes slowly around the circle, and pausing before each lady, draws from his basket a cake which he presents with a bow, while to each gentleman he presents a wineglass replenished from a most suspicious-looking black bottle which also reposes there. Leaving us all wonder and laughter, Santa Claus retires with a basket much lighter than it had been at his entrance. . . . Then follow refreshments, and more and more talk and laughter, until the clock strikes twelve, when all these ghosts bid a hearty goodnight and retire.

December 25, 1862 - Christmas Day

December 25, 1862:  Christmas Day.  Gen. Rosecrans calls a meeting of his corps commanders to plan the route the army would take in the coming campaign.  At the meeting’s end, he shocks everyone by announcing that the advance would begin tomorrow---that the army would step off toward Murfreesboro tomorrow.

---George Michael Neese, of Chew’s Battery in the Confederate Artillery, writes in his journal of his unit being part of a reconnaissance in force down the Shenandoah Valley:

December 25 — This is Merry Christmas. This morning we resumed our march early and moved down the Valley nearly to Kernstown, where we encountered the Yankees and gave them a Christmas greeting in the shape of a few shell. We took the same position we held at the battle of Kernstown last spring. About sixty sharpshooters advanced on our position and attempted to drive us away. We opened fire on them with two guns and fired three rounds, which thoroughly settled the sharpshooting business for this Christmas.

---Isaac Adams Howard, of the 5th Texas Infantry Regiment, writes home to his father in Gonzalez, Texas, with news about the Fredericksburg battle and of a Christmas spent in camp:

I suppose you will have heard of the great battle of Fredericksburg before this letter reaches you. The Yankees sustained the most utter and terrible defeat probably that they have experienced during the war.  It was the most glorious victory we have ever gained. Our loss is trifling in comparison with the enemy according to Gen. Lee’s report of the battle our loss was 1800 killed wounded and missing while that of the enemy according to their own Statement was 15.500 and many of their papers place it as high as 20.000. Not more than one half of our forces were engaged [our?] brigade didn’t fire a gun. . . . I think that we will go into winter quarters soon, as the Yankees seem to be disgusted with their ill success of this winters campaign & they are said to be going back to the Potomac to go into winter quarters.  The Yankee scoundrels almost completely destroyed Fredericksburg. They vented their malice & spleen in the most wanton manner. Breaking up and destroying whatever they could not remove. Nothing was too pure or sacred for their unbridled lust. The very churches were pillaged of whatever value or ornament they contained. The retribution they received for their iniquitous proceedings was sudden and terrible. The town was literally choked with [their?] dead. There was 5.000 dead bodies of Yankee soldiers lying stiffening on that [?] field the day after the fight. . . .  The Yankee army would have been nearly annihilated. . . .

The weather for the last few days has been admirable and to day it is mild and beautiful as any Christmas I ever remember having seen in Texas.

Tell Ma not to be the least uneasy about my personal comfort. I have plenty of good clothes and blankets and have been in excellent health ever since the fall set in.

There aint much preparation for Christmas in camp. The boys are in excellent spirits however not much doing in the eggnog line but with butter, molasses, sugar, confederate [cake] and apples from the sutlers and peas [?] roast-beef and hot biscuit from our own [?] we managed to make out a pretty good dinner. I wish I could send some apples. Nice red rosy cheeked fellows to Nellie and Susie. Bless their little hearts.

Sergeant Howard will be killed in battle seven months later at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

December 24, 1862

December 24, 1862:  Gen. Braxton Bragg, commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, has consolidated his advance position at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, only 30 miles from Nashville, where Gen. Rosecrans and his 80,000-man Federal Army of the Cumberland remains inactive, much to the ire of Sec. of War Stanton and the President, especially when they consider that Bragg has only 30,000 men in his army, less than half of Rosecrans’ number.  Meanwhile, more and more divisions of Northern troops chase after the newly married Gen. John Hunt Morgan, whose raiding into Kentucky is making Rosecrans feel very insecure about his line of communications. 

---Secretary of the Navy in Washington, Gideon Welles, writes in his diary of the Administration’s reputation, and the moral cowardice of the members of Congress:

December 24, Wednesday. Congress has adjourned over until the 5th of January. It is as well, perhaps, though I should not have advised it. But the few real business men, of honest intentions, will dispatch matters about as well and fast without as with them. The demagogues in Congress disgrace the body and the country. Noisy and loud professions, with no useful policy or end, exhibit themselves daily.

Most of the Members will go home. Dixon says the feeling North is strong and emphatic against Stanton, and that the intrigue against Seward was to cover and shield Stanton. Others say the same. . . .

Santa Claus visits the Union Army - by Thomas Nast

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 23, 1862

December 23, 1862:  Having attempted to restore his lines of communication and supply after Van Dorn’s raid on his supply base, Grant is convinced that he can no longer continue the expedition into Mississippi and that capture of Vicksburg by a long overland route is impractical.  He decides to cancel the move.  His troops begin their retreat back up into Tennessee. 

---Gen. Joseph Johnston writes to Pres. Davis his views of what should happen in the West, hinting that he wants command of the Confederate troops in Arkansas as well, in order to save Vicksburg:

Our great object is to hold the Mississippi. The country beyond the river is as much interested in that object as this, and the loss to us of the Mississippi involves that of the country beyond it. The 8,000 or 10,000 men which are essential to safety ought, therefore, I respectfully suggest, to be taken from Arkansas, to return after the crisis in this department. I firmly believe, however, that our true system of warfare would be to concentrate the forces of the two departments on this side of the Mississippi, beat the enemy here, and then reconquer the country beyond it, which he might have gained in the mean time.

---Confederate troops of the Army of Northern Virginia take up a collection for the people of Fredericksburg in the wake of the Yankee’s looting and despoliation of December 12.  Gen. Longstreet issues a letter of thanks to the men of the Washington Artillery battalion:

Near Fredericksburg, Va., December 23, 1862.

Colonel J. B. WALTON,
Commanding Battalion Washington Artillery:
    COLONEL: By direction of the lieutenant-general commanding, I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your check for $1,391, the contribution of the troops of your battalion to the fund for the relief of the Fredericksburg sufferers. In making this acknowledgment I and directed to express his admiration for the generous and feeling manner in which your command has responded to the call for relief. The members of the Washington Artillery show that they have hearts to feel as well as hearts to fight.
     I have the honor to be, Colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    G. M. SORREL,
    Assistant Adjutant-General

---On this date, Miss Mattie Ready marries Col. John Hunt Morgan (now a Brig. General) in highly publicized wedding in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

---Pres. Jefferson Davis, in a moment of ire against Benjamin Butler and his depredations in New Orleans, issues a proclamation that Butler’s officers “be declared not entitled to be considered as soldiers engaged in honorable warfare, but as robbers and criminals, deserving death; and that they and each of them be, whenever captured, reserved for execution.”  Union officers will summarily executed, and any black troops serving under Union command would also be subject to the same fate, whether a black soldier had ever been a slave or not.  Davis’s anger dealt mostly with the use Butler has made of several regiments of Louisiana Native Guards---all made up of free black men, mostly mulattoes. 


December 21, 1862

December 21, 1862:  George Templeton Strong, with his usual savvy eye for the political climate in the North, writes in his journal about the tempest in the Federal Administration:

Seward has tendered his resignation!  Whether it will be accepted and if so, who will succeed him, and whether other changes in the Cabinet are to follow, we don’t yet know.  Edward Everett and Charles Sumner [Senator from Massachusetts] are named as candidates for the succession.  I do not think Seward a loss to government.  He is an adroit, shifty, clever politician, in whose career I have never detected the least indication of principle.  He believes in majorities, and it would seem, in nothing else. 

An editorial in a very Democrat newspaper in Seneca County, New York, excoriates in the strongest terms the crimes of the Administration in regard to the disaster at Fredericksburg---and thus is a clear barometer to the mood of the public:

Never was heroism more sublimely displayed, – never an army more needlessly, wickedly sacrificed. The blundering strategy and the incompetent generalship that hurled our forces against the impregnable intrenchments of the enemy should be characterized and denounced as indiscriminate murder slaughter, and the authors, whoever they may be, execrated and driven from the presence of God and man. We have no patience to speak in milder terms. Too many of the noblest and bravest of the land have already been slaughtered in this wicked and unrighteous war; and too many, alas, have perished through the combined stupidity and criminal incapacity of ABRAHAM LINCOLN, HENRY W. HALLECK and EDWIN M. STANTON. They have too long trifled with the very existence of the nation. When the rebellion was about to be crushed they interposed, defeated the plans of the Generals in the field, and blasted the hopes and expectations of a loyal people. Through their intrigue and imbecility the disaster under POPE and the slaughter at Antietam were brought upon us. And now the fruitless butchery on the heights of Fredericksburg is the last drop in the bitter cup of anguish and despair. A whole nation is in mourning over the awful scenes of desolation and death that come to us from the battle field, and God alone can wipe away the twenty thousand fireside tears that to-day are being shed throughout the length and breadth of this once happy country. Is there no hope for a suffering people? Must this dreadful war go on until the whole nation is in mourning? The public patience is exhausted.

Monday, December 24, 2012

December 20, 1862

December 20, 1862Battle of Holly Springs, Mississippi – Behind Grant’s advance at Oxford, Mississippi, was his advance supply base at Holly Springs.  A small Federal force, about a brigade, is there guarding it, commanded by Col. Robert C. Murphy.  Murphy has received reports of a Confederate raiding force in the vicinity, and promptly ignores the warnings.  Maj. Gen Earl Van Dorn, with 3,500 Rebel cavalry in a special forced raised for the purpose, has been criss-crossing the countryside and throwing off the scent of Union patrols, and is now closing in on Holly Springs in an attempt to cut Grant’s line of supply.  The Union garrison were apparently involved only in planning a ball for the evening.  Just before dawn, Van Dorn’s raiders roared into town, scattering the feeble Yankee attempts at forming a defense.  The Missouri regiment of Rebels smashed into the Federal infantry, and the Mississippi regiment gave chase to the disorganized Union cavalry troopers.  Van Dorn even captures Gen. Grant’s wife Julia, but takes care to place a guard on her house for safety.  The Rebels also capture Col. Murphy, still in his night-shirt.  Van Dorn’s men capture a number of Federal troops hiding out, and a large amount of supplies.  They parole all 1,500 Union prisoners and destroy 1.5 million dollars-worth of supplies. 

---Sergeant Alexander G. Downing of the 11th Iowa Infantry writes in his journal:

Saturday, 20th—We struck our tents early this morning and marched twenty-one miles back toward Holly Springs. It is a disappointment to have to retrace our steps and the boys are not as jolly as they were when going south. Holly Springs is said to have been taken and our supplies cut off. We have been put on half rations.

---Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman leaves Memphis with 20,000 men  on steamers, and head downriver to officially begin the river campaign against Vicksburg. 

---Oliver Willcox Norton, of the 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry, writes to his sister, giving her his rather heartfelt reaction to the battle at Fredericksburg, and the subsequent political firestorm:

We have had a terrible fight, but you have heard of that, and I need not give particulars. I don’t feel like it, for it was nothing but humiliating defeat. I suppose the radicals have got enough of Burnside now and will want another change. I have nothing to say—of course it makes no difference to the country how many of her sons are offered on the altar of this incapacity. Oh, no. If it was Little Mac, thunders would be hurled against him, but no. We have got a man now who will move, no matter what reason he has for standing still. You may think I am talking bitterly. Well, I feel so. I’m sick of such useless slaughter. McClellan never made an attack and failed, and never showed stupidity as Burnside has.

—The Richmond Daily Dispatch fairly chortles in an editorial about the victory at Fredericksburg, and the ineptitude of Yankee generals:

                The inhabitants of Yankeedom, having had their fill of glory over the occupation of Fredericksburg, are now doubtless prepared to felicitate themselves upon its evacuation. Next to an “onward movement,” nothing exalts them so much as a “change of base.” The first illustrates their superhuman valor; the last, their unapproachable generalship. Burnside has gratified them in both particulars. He came thundering down upon Fredericksburg like a thousand locomotives; he departed like a dog with his tail cut off. A dog with his tail cut off affords a literal exemplification of that famous Yankee operation, a change of base. The creature’s base is changed, but not his baseness. . . . We are curious to see what will now be the fate of Burnside. The Fredericksburg route to Richmond was his pet scheme, and in this he had the emphatic approval of the Yankee Commander in Chief, Gen. Halleck. His career has been a short one; brief and inglorious as that of the robber, Pope. . . . The manes [sic] of McClellan are now avenged. He was decapitated for not moving; Burnside avoided that error, and behold the result. The unfortunate Yankee Generals are between Seylla and Charybdis. If they stand still their own Government destroys them; if they don’t stand still, they are destroyed by the Confederates. . . .

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19, 1862

December 19, 1862: In Washington, a cabal of Republicans from the House and Senate, believing still that William Seward is the de facto president and really runs the Administration, call for Seward’s resignation in the wake of the disaster at Fredericksburg. Those who were supporters of Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury—who seemed to be fostering some of the rancor against Seward---called for only a partial re-structuring of the Cabinet. In the midst of this, Seward submits his formal resignation, and will not be mollified. Lincoln then calls a Cabinet meeting, and reads the group’s resolutions to them. He then contrives to have the Cabinet meet with the cabal, which Sec. Chase opposes, lest his role be discovered. This evening, nine senators meet with the Cabinet, minus Seward. As the discussion goews forward, Chase if forced to admit that Seward contributes many things to the administration—and the tide turns against him. The senators leave, feeling betrayed by Chase, and no action is taken against Seward. Chase, in embarrassment, submits his own resignation also. Lincoln refuses to accept either one, reasoning that the "public interest does not admit of it." There is no more talk about the Administration collapsing.

—Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a Wisconsin artilleryman in the Union army with Grant in Mississippi, writes in his journal of a pleasant day of unseasonable weather:
Near Oxford, Friday, Dec. 19. Bright and sunny. The delightful weather succeeded in enticing most of the boys from their well worn decks and cribbage boards, bringing them out in ball playing, pitching quoits, etc. Tallied for an interesting game of base ball.

—Pres. Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy has been visiting Chattanooga, Tennessee, conferencing with Gen. Joseph Johbnston on what to do about the situation in the West. Davis wants Bragg to send troops to Pemberton to defend Mississippi, Vicksburg in particular, whereas Johnston opposes this, arguing that the Confederacy will lose Tennessee as a result. He argues that all available troops in Arkansas, under the overall command of Gen. Theophilus Holmes (and which includes the army recently beaten at Prairie Grove under Hindman) should be sent to reinforce Pemberton. Johnston’s command authority, however, does not extend across the Mississippi, and so he cannot insist on this point. On this date, Davis prepares to travel by rail to Vicksburg to confer with Pemberton.

—George Templeton Strong writes in his journal of the Fredericksburg disaster, revealing increasing public rancor against Stanton and even Lincoln:
Our loss at Fredericksburg is crawling up to 17,000. It is generally held that Stanton forced Burnside to this movement against his earnest remonstrance and protest. Perhaps Stanton didn’t. Who knows? But there is unversal bitter wrath against him throughout this community, a deeper feeling more intensely uttered than any I ever saw prevailing here. Lincoln comes in for a share of it. Unless Stanton be speedily shelved, something will burst somewhere. The general indignation is fast growing revolutionary. The most thorough Republicans, the most loyal Administration men, express it most fiercely and seem to share the personal vindictiveness of the men and women whose sons or brothers or friends have been uselessly sacrificied to the vanity of the political schemes of this meddling murderous quack. His name is likely to be a hissing, till it is forgotten, and the Honest Old Abe must take care lest his onw fare no better. A year ago we laughed at the Honest Old Abe’s grotesque genial Western jocosities, but they nauseate us now. If these things go on, we shall have pressure on him to resign and make way for Hamlin [the Vice President]. . . .

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18, 1862

December 18, 1862:  Gen. Grant has issued an order expelling all Jews from his military district:

The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.

Post commanders will see that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters.

Later, a regretful Grant would write a letter of apology that he meant only to cleanse the district of the scourge of cotton speculators (especially those with whom the general’s father, Jesse Grant, was in cahoots, and who happened to be Jews). 

In the meantime, Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and his cavalry are behind Union lines leading a nasty raid into West Tennessee and Kentucky, and Earl Van Dorn has collected a small division of 2,500 cavalry and has poised himself east of Grant’s troops in Oxford for a raid of his own.

---Rebel mounted troops under Gen. Forrest enter Lexington, Tennessee today and engage in a 3-hour battle with Federals of the 11th Illinois Cavalry, under Col. Ingersoll, in which the Federals are driven out, leaving two cannon to Confederate capture. The Confederates capture 140 Yankee riders, including Col. Ingersoll. Forrest destroys the supplies there.

---Gen. Longstreet issues a letter of congratulations to the men of his Corps, wherein he cites them for their valor and steadfastness:

. . . yet notwithstanding he knew them to be steadfast veterans, they still kindle in him a new admiration by the remarkable firmness with which defended Marye's Hill. A more frightful attack of the enemy has not been seen during the war; they approached within thirty paces of your lines, again and again returning with fresh men to the assault. But you did not yield a step; you stood by your posts and filled the field before you with slain. The general commanding congratulates the troops upon the humiliating retreat to which the invader has been forced. Every such disaster to his arms brings us nearer to the happy and peaceful enjoyments of our homes and our families. . . .


Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17, 1862

Dec. 17, 1862: George Templeton Strong writes in his journal the grim results of Fredericksburg:
Burnside pleads guilty to failure and repulse. The inews arriving yesterday afternoon, has produced serious depression and discouragement. The battle of Fredericksburg was a defeat with heavy loss, damaging to the national cause. . . .

—The New York Express offers this vehement editorial in the heated political aftermath of Fredericksburg:
. . . it is evident, now, – either the Administration must die, or the Government must die. The Administration and the Government can no longer live together. One or the other must perish. Which shall it be? Never, never, the Government. – long live the Government! – and, oh, ye Republicans – responsible for this Administration – change or abolish your Administration.

—Gen. Burnside writes to Gen. Halleck and Pres. Lincoln. Among other things, he confesses this:
   As the day broke, our long lines of troops were seen marching to their different positions as if going on parade; not the least demoralization or disorganization existed.
    To the brave officers and soldiers who accomplished the feat of this recrossing in the face of the enemy I owe everything. For the failure in the attack I am responsible, as the extreme gallantry, courage, and endurance shown by them was never excelled, and would have carried the points, had it been possible.
To the families and friends of the dead I can only offer my heartfelt sympathy, but for the wounded I can offer my earnest prayers for their comfort and final recovery.
    The fact that I decided to move from Warrenton onto this line rather against the opinion of the President, Secretary, and yourself, and that you have left the whole management in my hands, without giving me orders, makes me the more responsible.

—In North Carolina, near Goldsboro, Union troops under Gen. Foster defeat Confederates under Gen. Evans in a sharp battle, thus enabling the Union troops to destroy the railroad link to Goldsboro and Kinston.





December 16, 1862

Dec. 16, 1862: Capt. William Thompson Lusk, of the 2nd New York, writes home about his experience in the attacks at Fredericksburg, with some snide references to Pres. Lincoln---yet he offers an eloquent vision of battle in this ghastly style:

Camp Near Falmouth, Va.

Dec. 16th, 1862.

My dear Mother:

Back again once more in the old camp, sound as a dollar. Would that 10,000 lying on the field across the river, or stretched on rude soldiers’ beds in pain and some in mortal agony, could say as much! Gone are the proud hopes, the high aspirations that swelled our bosoms a few days ago. Once more unsuccessful, and only a bloody record to show our men were brave. This cannot heal the broken hearts this pitiful record is to cause. That God must do! Alas, my poor country! It has strong limbs to march and meet the foe, stout arms to strike heavy blows, brave hearts to dare — but the brains, the brains — have we no brains to use the arms and limbs and eager hearts with cunning? Perhaps Old Abe has some funny story to tell appropriate to the occasion. Alas, let us await the wise words of Father Abraham! I say I am back, having recrossed the river about two o’clock this morning. Yesterday evening I was sent out with a couple of hundred sharpshooters to cover the front until the troops were all withdrawn. . . . Our position gave me a fine opportunity to witness the battle. It was a bonnie sight though, and thrillingly exciting. From the crests of the hills frowned the enemy’s batteries. The city was gay with our troops. Beyond the city and below the batteries was open country giving no cover to advancing troops. Over this expanse our men were marched. The pennons fluttered gaily in the sunshine. Then suddenly the hills seemed to vomit forth smoke wreathing them in obscurity. Then followed the thunder of the cannon, intermingled with the screaming of the bursting shells. The ordeal was a terrible one. Some Regiments marched on without flinching; others fell back. To the left, running diagonally, was a stone-wall. A portion of our troops drew near it. This suddenly is likewise jetting with curls of smoke, followed by the sharp crack of the rifle and the angry humming of the conical balls. Now the troops are shaken. Stragglers run rapidly to the rear, then whole Regiments fall back with torn colors and broken ranks. It is of no use. That terrible stonewall is alive with death. Many Regiments try to reach it. Their efforts avail nothing, though. . . . At length night closed on the scene. We believed the bloody day was done. There was one scene yet bloodier to be enacted. A final night attack was decided upon. . . . And we knew that more blood had been shed and nothing won. . . . Last night the troops crossed the river, and to-day we are counting on our fingers the thousands of men the events of the past few days have cost us. There are impossibilities in warfare — things that no troops can accomplish, however brave they may be. They cannot for one thing cross long stretches of open country without any cover in the face of an artillery fire of any magnitude, and then clamber up a hill-side exposed to the musketry of a concealed foe, and then cross the ditches and scale the earthworks of the enemy, driving the latter from their position with the bayonet. Men fight in masses. To be brave they must be inspired by the feeling of fellowship. Shoulder must touch shoulder. As gaps are opened the men close together, and remain formidable. But when the ranks are torn by artillery, the cohesion begins to fail. Then expose the men for several hundred yards to a murderous fire of musketry, and front rank man is gone, rear rank man is gone, comrades in battle are gone too. A few men struggle along together, but the whole mass has become diluent. Little streams of men pour in various directions. They no longer are amenable to command. The colors must be drawn to a place of safety, and in time the men will gather around it again. Numbers can effect little under such circumstances, provided they have no means of touching the enemy. The latter, lying under cover, firing from a place of safety, may murder your men. You may try again and again the experiment, but each repetition only lengthens the butcher’s bill. Now I have written all this to show that success, as the attack was made, was impossible. In the same way we butchered the Confederates at Malvern Hill.

December 15, 1862

December 15, 1862: Burnside begins to draw up his IX Corps for his suicide attack, but is dissuaded at the last by his generals.  He finally withdraws his troops from the south bank of the Rappahannock River to safety at Falmouth.

—Judith White McGuire records in her journal of the trainloads of wounded passing in the night:

15th.—An exciting day. Trains have been constantly passing with the wounded for the Richmond hospitals. Every lady, every child, every servant in the village, has been engaged preparing and carrying food to the wounded as the cars stopped at the depot—coffee, tea, soup, milk, and every thing we could obtain. With eager eyes and beating hearts we watched for those most dear to us. Sometimes they were so slightly injured as to sit at the windows and answer our questions, which they were eager to do. They exult in the victory. I saw several poor fellows shot through the mouth—they only wanted milk; it was soothing and cooling to their lacerated flesh. One, whom I did not see, had both eyes shot out. But I cannot write of the horrors of this day. Nothing but an undying effort to administer to their comfort could have kept us up. . . . The gratitude of those who were able to express it was so touching! They said that the ladies were at every depot with refreshments. As the cars would move off; those who were able would shout their blessings on the ladies of Virginia: "We will fight, we will protect the ladies of Virginia." Ah, poor fellows, what can the ladies of Virginia ever do to compensate them for all they have done and suffered for us? As a train approached late this evening, we saw comparatively very few sitting up. It was immediately surmised that it contained the desperately wounded—perhaps many of the dead. With eager eyes we watched, and before it stopped I saw Surgeon J. P. Smith (my connection) spring from the platform, and come towards me; my heart stood still. "What is it, Doctor? Tell me at once." "Your nephews, Major B. and Captain C, are both on the train, dangerously wounded." "Mortally?" "We hope not. You will not be allowed to enter the car; come to Richmond to-morrow morning; B. will be there for you to nurse. I shall carry W. C. on the morning cars to his mother at the University. We will do our best for both." In a moment he was gone. . . .

December 14, 1862

December 14, 1862: As the remains of his attacking columns lay all night on the frozen ground in front of Marye’s Heights, Burnside frets about his losses. He decides to ride at the head of his old IX (Ninth) Corps to attack again at dawn on the 15th, but his subordinate generals argue against it. On the Confederate side, Lee is convinced that Burnside may try again, and spends the day collecting more ammunition for the battle that does not come.


—George Templeton Strong of New York City writes in his journal: 
I think the fate of the nation will be decided before night. The morning papers report a general engagement that lasted all yesterday, with no result but a little advance by part of our line, and heavy losses apparentlly on both sides. Taken together, the little scraps of fact and incident and humor that have come over the wires look unpromising but they might be much worse.

—Mrs. Judith White McGuire, in Richmond, records in her journal:
Nine o’ Clock at Night.—A sad, sad train passed down a short time ago, bearing the bodies of Generals Cobb, of Georgia, and Maxcy Gregg, of South Carolina. Two noble spirits have thus passed away from us. Peace to their honoured remains! The gentlemen report many wounded on the train, but not very severely. I fear it has been another bloody Sabbath. The host of wounded will pass to-morrow; we must be up early to prepare to administer to their comfort.
—The U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, writes in his journal about the Battle of Fredericksburg, which he correctly surmises to be a defeat for the North:
December 14, Sunday. There has been fighting for two or three days at Fredericksburg, and our troops were said to have crossed the river. The rumor at the War Department—and I get only rumor — is that our troops have done well, that Burnside and our generals are in good spirits; but there is something unsatisfactory, or not entirely satisfactory, in this intelligence, or in the method of communicating it. When I get nothing clear and explicit at the War Department I have my apprehensions. They fear to admit disastrous truths. Adverse tidings are suppressed, with a deal of fuss and mystery, a shuffling over of papers and maps, and a far-reaching vacant gaze at something undefined and indescribable.

Burnside is on trial. I have my fears that he has not sufficient grasp and power for the position given him, or the ability to handle so large a force; but he is patriotic, and his aims are right. It appears to me a mistake to fight the enemy in so strong a position. They have selected their own ground, and we meet them there. Halleck is General-in-Chief, but no one appears to have any confidence in his military management, or thinks him able to advise Burnside.

—In New Orleans, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks and his new expeditionary force of Union troops steams upriver to the city, where he will take commend of the Department of the Gulf.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 13, 1862

December 13, 1862:

The Battle of Fredericksburg

(First Fredericksburg)


Day 3:  The day opens with a cold, freezing fog, and the two main movements of the battle conducted by Gen. Burnside’s Federals get underway.  By 12 Noon, the Union forces are deployed.  Franklin has been ordered to attack Jackson’s position on the left where Jackson has placed his divisions at the base of a low ridge called Prospect Hill.  Burnside has directed Gen. Sumner to attack Marye’s Heights above the town with his Grand Division of two corps.  The Rebels have placed their lines carefully, and as Col. E.P. Alexander shows Lee his artillery placements on the crests, and how his guns are placed to cover the field with overlapping fire, Gen. Lee remarks, “It is well that war is so terrible, else we should grow too fond of it.”
Dec. 13, just before the fighting begins

    Prospect Hill – General Franklin, in command of the Union left, orders I Corps commander Gen. John Reynolds to select one division for the attack, and Reynolds chooses George Meade’s division, with John Gibbon’s division to support Meade’s right flank.  By 12 Noon, both division go forward across the foggy plain, with no clear idea of the enemy positions. 
As they advance, on the left appears two cannon with crews, commanded by Captain John Pelham of Stuart’s Horse Artillery.  Pelham hampers the advance by firing down the Federal lines with ghastly effectiveness.  One of his guns is disabled, and he continues with one gun.  The 24th Michigan is deployed to chase off Pelham, who does not leave until he is out of ammunition.  As Meade’s 4,500 men near Jackson’s lines, Jackson’s artillery opens up and stuns the Union advance into halting 600 yards short of their objective. 
By 1:00 PM, Union artillery had answered enough to encourage Meade to continue the advance.  As his men entered the thick woods at the base of the ridge, they encountered no Rebels—and so they kept on going. 
Meade's division finds the seam in the Rebel line.
Sinclair’s brigade enters the area, which is a heavily wooded and swampy ravine, and find themselves in a large gap in the Southern lines—between Archer on the left and Lane on the right, and Maxcey Gregg’s South Carolinians behind Lane.  Meade details Sinclair to pile into Lane’s and Gregg’s flank, while sending Conrad Feger Jackson’s brigade left to hit Archer in the flank.  Magilton’s brigade sends regiments in both directions, and soon Meade is rolling up the Confederate line in two directions. 
Meade exploits the gap.
On Meade’s right, as Lane’s brigade gives way, the blue tide strikes Gregg, whose troops are at rest.  Gregg is shot and will die 2 days later.  By this point, Meade’s attack has opened up a considerable hole in the Rebel line.  It apparently takes awhile for Jackson to learn the situation, but he swiftly orders up the divisions of Early and Taliaferro (pronounced – I kid you not – Tolliver) to counterattack.  Lane and Archer begin to rally their men, and soon fire is pouring in on Meade’s division from three directions.  Meade had sent back word for support, and finally at 1:30 PM Gibbon moves forward on Meade’s right, but his three brigades are driven back.  Meade calls upon Birney’s division to attack, but Birney will not come up.  Meade sends to Franklin, pointing out that he has found a seam in the Rebel lines, and another division could exploit the gap.  Franklin disagrees, and refuses to advance (even when ordered to by Burnside) arguing that all of his troops have been engaged, when in fact neither Doubleday’s division nor the entire VI Corps had been engaged.  Basically, Franklin had 20,000 fresh men unengaged.  And yet the offensive on the Federal left stops.
Meade breaks under the Sothern counterattacks, and finally pulls back his battered division over hazardous artillery-swept open ground.  The best chance for the North to have won the battle is lost.

    Marye’s Heights – On Marye’s Heights, Gen. Longstreet orders Gen. McLaws to place troops behind a stone wall with a sunken road behind it---an already-made trench.  McLaws places Cobb's and Cooke's brigades there: troops from Georgia and North Carolina.  Burnside orders Sumner to attack Marye’s Heights.  Sumner orders Gen. French to move up with his division.  At about 12 Noon, Nathan Kimball’s brigade begins to move through town toward the heights behind the town.  He is followed by the brigades of Andrews and Palmer, and they all suffer nearly 50% casualties as Alexander's artillery opens on them with a clear field of fire, and then McLaw's riflemen fire volleys into the exposed advancing ranks of men in blue. 
1st Lt. William Owen of the Washington Artillery (of New Orleans) describes how this first series of assaults fares:

The enemy, having deployed, now showed himself above the crest of the ridge and advanced in columns of brigades, and at once our guns began their deadly work with shell and solid shot. How beautifully they came on! Their bright bayonets glistening in the sunlight made the line look like a huge serpent of blue and steel. The very force of their onset leveled the broad fences bounding the small fields and gardens that interspersed the plain. We could see our shells bursting in their ranks, making great gaps; but on they came, as though they would go straight through and over us. Now we gave them canister, and that staggered them. A few more paces onward and the Georgians in the road below us rose up, and, glancing an instant along their field barrels, let loose a storm of lead into the faces of the advance brigade. This was too much; the column hesitated, and then, turning, took refuge behind the banks.
Rebel riflemen at the stone wall on Marye's Heights

French’s division is followed by Hancock’s division, and the famous Irish Brigade under Meagher gets to within 20 yards of the stone wall, the closest of any attack that day, before their line melts away under withering rifle fire and canister from the Southern guns.  They are followed by Caldwell, whose brigade suffers similar punishment. By this evening, fewer than 300 of the 1450 men of the Irish brigade will find their way back to camp that night.  Gen. Couch, commander of the II Corps, orders up his last division, under Gen. Oliver O. Howard, and they are decimated and pinned down.  By this time, Gen. Hooker is crossing his Grand Division (two corps) over the river, and deploying in lines in reserve.  Gen. Sturgis, from Hooker’s command, moves up against Marye’s Heights on the left, and his brigades are shredded in the attempt. 
The Rebel commander Gen. Cobb is killed, and Gen. Kershaw is sent to take his place.  Then, Hooker orders Griffin’s division forward on the left, and all three brigades meet a similar fate. 
Waves of Union attacks up Marye's Heights

Sumner orders forward Gen. Humphreys’ division of new recruits, and Humphreys leads the first brigade under Allabash himself, on horseback, with drawn sword---but moving through the ground crowded with grounded and wounded Yankees slows them down, and a savage set of volleys from the Confederates behind the wall decimates Allabash, too.  
Getty's attack at dusk
 Humphreys’ other brigades also get bogged down.  George Sykes and his division of Regular Army troops is ordered forward to get Humphreys out of trouble, but his troops are pinned down under a crossfire.  From the IX Corps, Getty is sent up with his two brigades, but to no avail, as dark has fallen.  As his lead brigade, under Hawkins, moves through the dark on the left, grounded Union troops on their right open fire on them, thinking they are Rebels.  The assault on Marye’s Heights is over.  In 14 successive waves, most of 8 Federal divisions are thrown against the sunken road position where fewer than 3,000 Rebels fought, and more than 9,000 Yankees out of 40,000 are shot down there.  Behind the stone wall, there are perhaps 50 Confederate casualties, among overall 500 lost Rebels at the Marye's Heights sector of the Southern line. 

That night, Sergeant Richard Kirkland, of the 2nd South Carolina, cannot stand the sound of suffering Federal wounded; he gathers as many full canteens as he can, and hops over the wall, giving succor to the thirst-crazed Yankees lying there, making several trips.  Confederate Victory.

Losses:                     Killed             Wounded        Missing                   Total

Union                       1,284                9,600                1,769                      12,653

Confederate              608                 4,116                   653                         5,377

It is a lopsided result, and the North is stunned with the ghastly news.  Pres. Lincoln is severely unnerved by the casualties, moaning to an associate, “If there is a worse place than hell, I am in it.”  He sinks into one of his chronic spells of clinical depression.  Some discussion in the newspapers and the halls of power speculate that the Republican party will self-destruct. 
The Sunken Road and stone wall that the Rebels defended against 14 assaults

---In Richmond, Judith White McGuire writes in her journal of the fearful news:

13th.—Our hearts are full of apprehension! A battle is going on at or near Fredericksburg. The Federal army passed over the river on their pontoons night before last. They attempted to throw the bridges over it at three places; from two of these they were driven back with much slaughter; at the third they crossed. Our army was too small to guard all points. The firing is very heavy and incessant. We hear it with terrible distinctness from our portico. God of mercy, be with our people, and drive back the invaders! I ask not for their destruction; but that they may be driven to their own homes, never more to put foot on our soil; that we may enjoy the sweets of peace and security once more. Our dear boys—now as ever—I commit them into Thy hands.

---Lt. Josiah Marshall Favill, of the 57th New York, tells of his regiment’s charge up Marye’s Heights as part of Zook's brigade:

About two o’clock French succeeded in deploying his lines, and our column immediately debouched on the plain in his rear, by way of the railroad depot. As the head of the column appeared in the open, the rebel batteries opened fire and pandemonium at once broke loose. The whizzing, bursting shells made one’s hair stand on end; our guns added to the confusion as they fired over our heads, and the two flights of shot and shell in opposite directions, made a noise above the roar of Niagara. We marched rapidly forward, passing a huge pile of bricks, which the round shot was scattering in every direction, then came a mill race, and on the other side of it a high board fence; clearing these obstacles in the face of a terrible fire, with considerable loss and obliquing somewhat to the right at first, then in full line of battle, we marched directly forward, in front of Marye’s house the strongest point of the enemys’ works. It seemed a terrible long distance, as with bated breath and heads bowed down, we hurried forward, the rebel guns plowing great furrows in our ranks at every step; all we could do was to close up the gaps and press forward. When within some three hundred yards of the rebel works, the men burst into a cheer and charged for the heights. Immediately the hill in front was hid from view by a continuous sheet of flame from base to summit. The rebel infantry poured in a murderous fire while their guns from every available point fired shot and shell and cannister. The losses were so tremendous that before we knew it our momentum was gone, and the charge a failure. Within one hundred yards of the base of the hill we dropped down, and then flat on our bellies, opened fire while line after line of fresh troops, like ocean waves, followed each other in rapid succession, but none of them succeeded in reaching the enemy’s works. . . . I wondered while I lay there how it all came about that these thousands of men in broad daylight were trying their best to kill each other. Just then there was no romance, no glorious pomp, nothing but disgust for the genius who planned so frightful a slaughter. Towards evening the attempt came to a halt, the firing ceased, and many of the troops withdrew. By this time the plain was covered with thousands of dead and wounded men, besides scores of lines of troops, lying on their bellies, utterly useless, but exposed to more or less continuous fire. We fully expected the enemy to leave his works and charge us where we lay, but very strangely they not only did not do this, but stopped their artillery fire, and by dusk it became almost quiet.