Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29, 1862

May 29, 1862: Since it is clear that Jackson’s campaign is drawing off Union troops from McClellan, Gen. Joseph Johnston sends Jackson orders to advance north in force to threaten Harper’s Ferry. Leaving some troops in Winchester to handle the prisoners, Jackson marches north To Charles Town with 14,000 men, and then on to Harper’s Ferry. In command of about 7,000 Union troops at Harper’s Ferry is Gen. Rufus Saxton, who puts his troops into defensive position at Harper’s Ferry. Jackson receives two messages, one that places Gen. Shields’ 11,000 Federal troops only a day’s march east of Front Royal, and another reporting Fremont poised a day’s march west of Strasburg with 15,000. Both locations lay on Jackson’s supply route and line of retreat. McDowell is also forwarding divisions under Rufus King and Ord to bring the aggregate to a total of 52,000 Union troops closing in on Jackson.

Virginia, May 29, 1862, showing both fronts: Jackson threatening Harper's Ferry and McClellan pressing the Rebel lines near Richmond.

---Gen. Irvin McDowell has arrived in Manassas with 21,000 men, and one of his divisions under Gen. Shields is approaching Front Royal. Pres. Lincoln again orders Gen. Fremont to close in on Jackson’s supply line and retreat route. The Federal trap for Jackson is starting to close. McDowell writes in a letter to Shields with some confidence: "General Fremont is at Moorefield, and is ordered, as we are, by the President to push after the enemy with all speed. The question now seems to be one of legs - whether we can get to Jackson and Ewell before they can get away."

---Mary Boykin Chestnut of South Carolina writes in her diary of the debate on the home front about the situation at the battle front—especially Jackson in the Valley:
Mrs. Gibson is a Philadelphia woman. She is true to her husband and children, but she does not believe in us— the Confederacy, I mean. She is despondent and hopeless; as wanting in faith of our ultimate success as is Sally Baxter Hampton. I make allowances for those people. If I had married North, they would have a heavy handful in me just now up there.

Mrs. Chesnut, my mother-in-law, has been sixty years in the South, and she has not changed in feeling or in taste one iota. She can not like hominy for breakfast, or rice for dinner, without a relish to give it some flavor. She can not eat watermelons and sweet potatoes sans discrétion, as we do. She will not eat hot corn bread à discrétion, and hot buttered biscuit without any.

"Richmond is obliged to fall," sighed Mrs. Gibson. "You would say so, too, if you had seen our poor soldiers."

"Poor soldiers?" said I. "Are you talking of Stonewall Jackson’s men? Poor soldiers, indeed! " I flared up.

She said her mind was fixed on one point, and had ever been, though she married and came South: she never would own slaves. "Who would that was not born to it?" I cried, more excited than ever. She is very handsome, very clever, and has very agreeable manners.

"Dear madam," she says, with tears in her beautiful eyes, "they have three armies."

"But Stonewall has routed one of them already. Heath another." She only answered by an unbelieving moan.

"Nothing seemed to suit her," I said, as we went away.

"You did not certainly," said some one to me; "you contradicted every word she said, with a sort of indignant protest."

---Troops from the 15th Pennsylvania Vol. Infantry engage in heavy skirmishing with Rebel troops near Pocotaglio, South Carolina, and drive off the Southerners with heavy losses.

—At Corinth, all three of Halleck’s armies–under Thomas, Buell, and Pope–are preparing for a heavy artillery assault against Beauregard’s entrenchments, followed by infantry attacks. Pope, on the extreme right, is convinced that he is about to be attacked by the Rebels, however, since he sees the enemy’s works emptied of men—obviously being pulled back and organized into assault columns. He also sees the Confederate artillery out of position, limbered up. What the Yankees do not know is that Beauregard is pulling out. Sterling Price’s troops are already gone, and headed south.

—In Missouri, Brig. Gen. John M. Schofield, USA, issues orders that all guerillas and marauders operating against U.S. troops shall be shot on sight, if they are caught bearing arms, and that any citizens who give aid or shelter to them shall be considered "aiders and abettors" of said criminals.

—George Templeton Strong, of New York City, writes in his journal, fuming over Edwin Stanton and the War Department and its inefficiency, in his efforts to get more medical officers in the army, as per the bill the United States Sanitary Commission has sponsored through Congress:
We [USSC] incline to an open rupture with the Secretary of War, in which we should find many backers. Unless the strange movements of the last five days lead to a decisive victory in Virginia, he can hardly keep his place. There is a good deal of evidence that his brain is diseased. His delay in appointing officers under the Medical Bill is paralyzing Hammond and costs the country scores of lives every day. It is a great crime.

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