Monday, February 27, 2012

Feb. 27, 1862

Feb. 27, 1862: On this date, the new Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia, a made-over armored vessel made from the remnant hull of old Federal frigate Merrimack, is at last finished and ready for service. However, Commodore Forrest of the Gosport Naval Yard, where the Virginia has been built, sends telegrams and letters trying to find ammunition for the Virginia’s guns.

—After McClellan’s “success” at getting a pontoon bridge across the Potomac the day before, on this date he receives delivery of canal barges, which are to be used to construct a more permanent bridge, as the pontoon one is threatening to give way.  However, after having spent hunderds of thousands of dollars on them, the Union engineers find that the boats have been made the wrong size, and will not fit.  McClellan concludes that the advance on Winchester cannot be made, and that his entire timetable for invading Virginia is set back.  Incensed, Pres. Lincoln rages at the equally wroth Sec. of War Stanton:  “Why in the damn nation… couldn’t the general have known whether a boat could go through that lock before spending a million of dollars getting them there. I am no engineer but it seems to me that, if I wished to know whether a boat would go through a hole or a lock, common sense would teach me to go and measure it. I am almost despairing at these results. Everything seems to fail.”

—Bugler Oliver Willcox Norton, a Union soldier in the Army of the Potomac, writes home to his cousin:

I stepped out into the street this morning and one of the boys who stood there said to me: "Norton, there’s something on my back; brush it off." I looked, and what do you think it was? "Couldn’t imagine." He had his knapsack packed and on the outside two woolen blankets, one rubber ditto, one picket tent, pole and ropes, overcoat, pair of boots, haversack with two days’ provisions (Hardees and tiger), canteen with two quarts of coffee, cartridge box with forty rounds and a thirteen-pound rifle. I can only say I didn’t attempt to brush it off, but went back to my tent and found the same thing ready for my back with a bugle for a balance weight. . . . There are many speculations as to where we are going. Some say a general advance is to be made on Centreville and Manassas, some that nothing more is contemplated than moving the camps a few miles further to better situations, others that the division is to go via Washington and Baltimore to Harper’s Ferry. My own opinion is different from all these. I think we are going to—stay here. Cotton has abdicated, corn never was much of an absolute monarch, but "King Mud" is king yet.

—The New York Times publishes this poignant letter from a young Army officer to his father back home in Illinois, telling of his horrifying experiences at the Battle of Fort Donelson:

MY DEAR FATHER: Sad, lonely and down-hearted. I attempt to write you a few lines, to let you know I am alive and unhurt. We have had a most bloody fight; there must have been five thousand to seven thousand men killed and wounded, on both sides. But the enemy surrendered on Saturday evening, we taking about thirteen thousand prisoners. But, dear father, the hardest part of the story is, that out of eighty-five men in my company, only seven came out — the most wholesale slaughter that was ever heard of.
My company was the color company, at which the rebels took particular aim; as fast as one man who carried it would be shot another would take his place; but the flag was brought through. Only one hundred and sixteen remain in the Eleventh Regiment uninjured.
Do not wonder, dear father, that I am downhearted. My boys all loved me, and need I say that, in looking at the poor remnant of my company — the men that I have taken so much pains to drill, the men that I thought so much of — now nearly all in their graves — I feel melancholy. But I do not complain; God spared my life, and for what, the future must tell. I will write you soon again. The Eleventh Regiment will, I think, (what is remaining,) be left to guard the prisoners at Cairo or Alton, whilst they recruit. Whether I shall attempt to raise another company, I do not know at present. Good bye. Let the folks at home know I am safe.
Yours, affectionately,
L.D. WADDELL, Captain Co. E. Eleventh
Regiment Ill. Vol., (what is left of it.)

No comments:

Post a Comment