Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Feb. 28, 1862

Feb. 28, 2012: In response to Pres. Lincoln’s frustration over the canal-boat bridge that was the wrong size, Gen. McClellan sends this letter to the President explaining his motives and decisions. Notice the general’s tone, which is not a little condescending and displays a healthy and flourishing ego:

SANDY HOOK, February 28, 1862. (Received 9.30 p. m.).

It is impossible for many days to do more than supply the troops now here and at Charleston. We could not supply and move to Winchester for many days, and had I moved more troops here they would have been at a loss for food on the Virginia side. I know that I have acted wisely, and that you will cheerfully agree with me when I explain. I have arranged to establish depots on that side so we can do what we please. I have secured opening of the road.

—For the first time, Pres. Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy exercises the power given him by the C.S. Congress to suspend the writ of habeas corpus—the very crime for which Southern newspapers and critics have savaged Pres. Lincoln as a "monster." Davis immediately suspends this basic right in Richmond, as well as Norfolk and Porstmouth, declaring martial law.

—The addition of the Gadsden Purchase to the Territory of New Mexico led to increased white settlement in what is now southern Arizona, most of them Southerners and Texans. At the beginning of the war, the Confederacy organizes what is now Southern Arizona and Southern New Mexico into the Territory of Arizona, with the capital at Mesilla, on the Rio Grande. An intended Confederate invasion and capture of Tucson in 1861, which would then go on to capture southern California, was cancelled due to increased Union military presence in California. Tucson residents began raising militia companies. As Gen. Sibley began his 1862 advance up the Rio Grande Valley, he detached Capt. Sherod Hunter and 60 cavalrymen to move east towards Tucson. On this date, in 1862, Hunter’s company enters Tucson, to the adulation of the white population. One of Hunter’s projects was to establish diplomatic relations with Mexico with the view of establishing a Confederate base and port at Guaymas, Sonora, on the Gulf of California. Meanwhile, 5 companies of the 1st California Cavalry Regiment move across the desert to occupy Fort Yuma on the Colorado. Col. Carleton prepares to take the rest of his regiment, nearly 1,000 men, and a battery of artillery, to Fort Yuma and then to invade Arizona and New Mexico from the west.

—Laura Norwood of North Carolina writes a letter to her cousin Ellen Richardson of Mississippi, and offers these patriotic–and romantic–sentiments:

All out of doors is so bright, sunshiny and gay. I am a little afraid that hungriness is very much conducive to despondency when there is no prospect of satisfying the appetite, but although I am feeling the want of food very sensibly just at present, and have been listening for two hours, I mean one hour, was at church two, to Mr. Rankin, the Presbyterian Minister who is dry as a last years cornstalk. Still, I hope nothing like a desponding tone will pervade this letter. If it does, my darling, ascribe it to physical and not mental causes, to the want of dinner but not the absence of devotion to the Cause of our Country, — dearer, far dearer in the hour of its peril than in the day of its many victories. I would here state, before I get any hungrier, that I am in no sense defeated because Buckner, Pillow, Floyd, or whoever it is, is defeated. No Indeed! The Yankees did not capture my spirit of Resistance when they took Donelson. . . . but be it as bad as it may be, I am not conquered or bewildered. Who ever expected that we would gain our independence without a desperate struggle? I certainly did not. And I think if it were gained by a succession of brilliant victories, it would not long abide. A people untried by adversity are unfit to be the founders of a great nation. . . . I am often glad I am not married, but methinks there is some thing very fine in having a brave husband to fight in the glorious battles, and come home and tell about them by the fireside. I declare it would be fine to own such a brave officer as — , Well I wont say who. He is a splendid looking man, as bold and brave as any Knight of the olden time, and therefore worthy of a more beautiful ladye love than myself who care nothing for him any way, nor he for me. Only it would be quite fine, and patriotic to say "My Husband Maj." — . . .

Charles Francis Adam, Jr., an officer in a Massachusetts cavalry regiment in Beaufort, S.C., writes to his father, Charles, Sr., who is U.S. ambassador in England:

Meanwhile I am very well and very comfortable, save in some respects of position with which I will not trouble you and which will cure themselves. To us it is now more of a picnic than war, and I live in as much luxury almost in my tent as I ever did at home. We are all very well and as brown and dirty as nuts, and I have never enjoyed life more than in the army. In fact, my college days seem to have come back to me, but bereft of most of their cares.

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