Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 29, 1862

June 29, 1862: 

Eastern Theater, Peninsula Campaign
Seven Days' Battles, Day 5

Battle of Savage’s Station:  As Lee discovers the comprehensive extent and haste of McClellan’s retreat, he devises a plan for pursuit, so as to catch McClellan divided or at least disorganized on the tangled country roads southeast of Richmond.  He puts D.H. Hill under Jackson’s command, and orders Jackson’s force (several divisions, including his own, Hill’s, and Ewell’s) to move east and cross back over the Chickahominy (hereafter referred to as “the river”), along with A.P. Hill’s Light Division (which was really a large division), and Longstreet’s  force of several divisions.  Lee expects that Jackson would, being closest to McClellan’s escape routes, be able to descend upon the Union flank or even the rear; A.P. Hill and Longstreet, being farther away, are not expected to catch up with the fleeing Yankees.  South of the river, Huger and Magruder are expected to strike eastward at the Yankees also.  Lee believes that McClellan will move slowly enough that the Confederates will be able to catch up with a large chink of the Federal army and wagon train by July 30, the next day.  McClellan, however, moves faster than Lee expects.  Little Mac is convinced that Lee and an army nearly twice his size are about to swallow up the Army of the Potomac, and so pushes his columns southward and then departs with his headquarters for the James River, leaving no overall commander of the corps of Heintzelman, Sumner, and Franklin that are left as a rear guard, so that his huge wagon train may pass through the White Oak Swamp safely to the James River also. 
Maj. Gen. "Prince John" Magruder, CSA

As Magruder advances with 14000 men, his lead column tangles with a couple of Pennsylvania regiments put there by Gen. Edwin Sumner, commander of the Federal II Corps.  Magruder calls for Huger to reinforce him, and sits down to wait, having also heard that Jackson’s arrival will be delayed while he re-builds a bridge across the Chickahominy that he needs to cross on.  Jackson has also received confusing orders from Lee’s staff, and this fatally delays his cooperation with Magruder.  While Lee tries to unsnarl the problem of Jackson’s orders, he directs Magruder to not delay and to attack the Federals wherever he can find them.  So Magruder’s troops go forward, Kershaw’ and Semmes’ brigades pushing the Federals.  Kershaw pierces the Union line, but for lack of support has to abandon his advantage: Union reinforcements dislodge his troops, and the Rebel attack collapses.  Magruder also orders forward a new Confederate invention: a railroad gun---and 32-pounder Brooke naval rifled cannon mounted behind an armored barricade and swiftly advanced on the railroad toward the Yankee lines—the first use of a railroad-mounted battery in war.  It makes little difference, however.  The fighting dies out with the day’s light, with little being accomplished except for a large bill of casualties for so limited an action.  As the Federals abandon Savage’s Station, 2,500 Federal wounded, in addition to the wounded from this day’s’ fight, are abandoned to imprisonment by the Rebels.  Although this is a marginal tactical victory for the North, the subsequent Union retreat make it a strategic victory for the South.  Stalemate.

Battle of Savage's Station

Losses:   Union – 1,038         Confederate -- 473

---In Baton Rouge, Sarah Morgan writes in her journal about the hated Federal occupation, especially under the tyranny and military rule of the even more hated Gen. Benjamin Butler:

Ah, truly! this is the bitterness of slavery, to be insulted and reviled by cowards who are safe at home and enjoy the protection of the laws, while we, captive and overpowered, dare not raise our voices to throw back the insult, and are governed by the despotism of one man, whose word is our law! And that man, they tell us, “is the right man in the right place. He will develop a Union sentiment among the people, if the thing can be done!” Come and see if he can! Hear the curse that arises from thousands of hearts at that man’s name, and say if he will “speedily bring us to our senses.” Will he accomplish it by love, tenderness, mercy, compassion? He might have done it; but did he try?

---The New York Times, in an editorial, considers the problem of cotton---or rather, the lack of it, if the American cotton crop from the South is not available.  In terms of American relations with Great Britain, this is an especially thorny problem, and partially explains the British tendency to favor the Confederacy up until this point in the War:

. . . But when we have silenced the political jargon of planters and demagogues in the South on this subject [slavery], we still have a profoundly important problem that all civilized nations are interested in solving. Where shall Cotton be had, abundantly and cheaply enough to meet the demand formerly, but no longer, supplied by the rebel crop?

England is more interested in the answer to this question than the United States — far more. England depends to a vastly greater extent on the prosperity of cotton manufactories, for the preservation and welfare of her population, than do the people of the United States. Hence it is that the prospect of the reduction of the rebellion by our Government gives no joy and no peace of mind in England — for it conveys no assurance of a resumption of the enormous production of cotton in the States that once supplied the English mills to repletion. On the contrary, England recognizes the blow that Slavery has received, and having adopted the Southern and secession theory of “no Slavery, no cotton,” her statesmen feel that the triumph of the Union will be a crushing blow to England’s prosperity — plunging her manufacturers into bankruptcy, and reducing millions to the verge of starvation.

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 28, 1862

June 28, 1862: 

Eastern Theater, Peninsula Campaign

Seven Days' Battles, Day 4

There is no significant fighting on this day, although the Union Army is very busy.  Gen. McClellan is convinced that he must retreat and that the project to take Richmond is no longer feasible.  He sends out orders to abandon all non-essential equipment (tents, camp equipment, etc.) and for all supply and ammunition trains and their wagons to withdraw south and east to Savage’s Station, along the York River Railroad.  An immense amount of army stores are put to the torch.  He also orders that “the sick and wounded that are not able to walk must necessarily be left.”  This is a decision that will not sit well with a number of people in the North.  Gen. Porter is able pull his entire force south of the Chickahominy River, and the Federals torch their base on White House on the York River.  McClellan himself rides all the way down to the James River and moves his headquarters to a gunboat on the river, leaving others to attend to the complicated details of the retreat.
Union wounded at a field hospital following the Battle of Gaines Mill

In the meantime, Lee has his troops on the move.  Surmising correctly that McClellan is moving south to the protection of the Navy’s gunboats on the James River, Lee hopes to trap McClellan as the Federals try to disentangle their army from the Chickahominy and especially the White Oak Swamp: if the Rebels can catch them in the midst of this morass before the bluecoats pass through it, it might mean the end of the Army of the Potomac, or at least severely crippling it.  Today, Gen. Magruder sends out a reconnaissance in force to tap the Federal lines at Golding’s Farm on the far left Union flank, mostly to convince the Yankees that the entire Union line was under attack, or soon would be. 

---Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, in collusion with telegraph officials, elects to send ot Lincoln only an expurgated and vetted version of McClellan’s insubordinate telegram from last night, omitting the lines, “If I save this army now, I tell you plainly that I owe no thanks to you, or to any other persons in Washington.  You have done your best to sacrifice this army.”

---Admiral Farragut, in an extended re-attempt at taking Vicksburg, finally has to admit that he cannot take the city without the Army, and Gen. Williams and his brigade just are not enough troops to do it.  Farragut writes to Captain Charles Davis about his dilemma:

I think, therefore, that so long as they have the military force to hold the back country, it will be impossible for me to reduce the place without your assistance and that of the Army. I have only about 3,000 soldiers, under General Williams, associated with me, but they are not sufficient to land in the face of all Van Dorn’s division of Beauregard’s army. 

Gen. Williams has attempted to dig a canal to re-route the river, but is losing too many men to illness, and finds that the canal would be too narrow for the job, and so abandons the project.

---Lt. Charles Francis Adams, Jr., of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry regiment, writes home of his frustration over the Secessionville debacle, and of the inefficiency of the Union command in the South Carolina coastal theater---and of the stumbling blocks that the many missionaries and philanthropists in the wake of the Army have imposed by getting underfoot of military priorities:

And today, though under every circumstance I have looked on riding into Charleston as a sure and ample reward for all I might be called on to undergo, I hear that the chances are immense against my ever receiving that reward with an indifference which surprises me. I am ordered and I can’t help it; though it seems strange to me that we must turn our backs on these fellows for lack of ten poor regiments out of the grand army of the republic. I do so know we could whip these men if we had two chances out of five, and we would so like to do it; and now to go back with nothing but failure — oh! for one hour of generalship!! Everything here but honor has been sacrificed to the fussy incompetence of Benham, the unmilitary amiability of Hunter, and the misplaced philanthropy of Edward L. Pierce…. Philanthropy is a nuisance in time of war. . . . I respect the missionaries for their objects and perseverance, but they have no business here. Their time is not yet and they make us fight in fetters. . . .

---John Beauchamp Jones, in Richmond, writes of the gleeful spectacle made by over 2,000 Union prisoners in the city, including field officers such as Gen. McCall and Gen. Reynolds:

To-day some of our streets are crammed with thousands of bluejackets—Yankee prisoners. There are many field officers, and among them several generals.

General Reynolds, who surrendered with his brigade, was thus accosted by one of our functionaries, who knew him before the war began: “General, this is in accordance with McClellan’s prediction; you are in Richmond.”

“Yes, sir,” responded the general, in bitterness; ” and d—n me, if it is not precisely in the manner I anticipated.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 27, 1862

June 27, 1862: 
Eastern Theater, Peninsula Campaign:


Battle of Gaines Mill (First Battle of Cold Harbor):  Once again, Lee tries the same strategy he used for the previous day’s battle at Mechanicsville (Beaver Dam Creek): to force the Federal right, turn it, and hopefully destroy it---and once again, poorly coordinated Confederate attacks prevent the success Lee hopes for.  To do this, he needed Jackson to push around the isolated flank of the Federal army, which is mostly Porter’s V (Fifth) Corps, 27,000 strong.  Porter’s three divisions, under Morell, Sykes, and McCall, are deployed behind Boatswain’s Creek, a tributary whose course is a swampy vale with heavy vegetation.  McCall is held in reserve.  Jackson is supposed to hit behind Porter’s flank, supported by D.H. Hill, whose whole force has now crossed to the north side of the Chickahominy, and A.P. Hill is supposed to drive at Porter’s line closer to the Chickahominy, supported by Longstreet’s divisions---a total of 57,000 men attacking about half of that number under Porter’s command.  What happens instead comes partly from D.H. Hill’s advance, toward Old Cold Harbor, which he believes is beyond and even behind the Union flank; when he approaches Cold Harbor, he finds that Yankees from Sykes’ division are firmly in position in front of him.  The Confederate attacks do not begin until after 2:00 PM. 
A.P. Hill's opening attacks on Porter's position, @2:30 PM

A.P. Hill launches attacks again (as yesterday) without the coordinated support of his colleagues, and Northern artillery shreds his formations so that he can only hold his ground and exchange with the Yankees in an infantry firefight, hoping for Jackson to arrive.  Longstreet launches some diversionary attacks on Porter’s left.  Jackson is slow in getting to his position, which he finds is not the right place to attack, and so countermarches his troops to find a better position.  When he finally engages the enemy, he feeds his brigades in piecemeal, Ewell’s troops finally going forward @ 4:00 PM, with Elzey’s and Trimble’s brigades in the fore; these are thrown back with losses. 
Gaines Mill, @ 3:30 PM

Lee orders a more coordinated attack, and orders Jackson to pour in all his troops at once, with a renewal of A.P. Hill’s attacks, and with D.H. Hill feeling for the Union flank.  Porter senses the coming Rebel assault, and asks for reinforcements; he receives brigades from Slocum’s VI Corps.  After 7:00 PM, an hour before dusk, the Confederate attack goes forward: Jackson has Whiting’s division and Walker’s Stonewall Brigade in front.  Whiting’s brigade of Texans (supported by Hampton’s Legion and Law’s Brigade), under Brig. Gen. John B. Hood, goes in with wild abandon, and takes heavy losses, but plows through the heavy woods and swamp, and pierces the Union line.  In spite of inflicting heavy losses on the Rebels, Porter’s line begins to crumble on the left (where Longstreet sends in Wilcox and Pickett), the center (Hood’s attack), and the right (as D.H. Hill hits the Union flank). 
Final Confederate attacks, and collapse of the Union lines

As the Union infantry retreats, Porter’s artillery now has a clear field of fire, and are able to claw the advancing Rebels dreadfully with canister before the attack hits.  The Yankees lose 14 guns to capture.  The Union retreat is uneven: some regiments retreat in order, and some disintegrate and panic, leading to over a thousand being captured.  Thus ends an incredibly bloody battle, considering the brief amount of time it took.  Confederate Victory.
Gen. Hood breaks through

Union artillery decimates advancing Rebel infantry

(There is evidence that when McClellan understands Lee’s plan, he considers attacking with the main part of his army the thin line Lee has left south of the Chickahominy and driving through the Rebel line straight into Richmond.  When he discovers Jackson out on the Union right flank, however, he abandons all such ambitions and thinks strictly in defensive terms thereafter.  Little Mac assumes that 100,000 Rebels are in front of Richmond, and he faces them with only 64,000.  In fact, his 64,000, who remain idle at  day, face only 30,000 Southerners in a thin line.  Huger and Magruder succeed in inflating the Yankees’ fears and intelligence estimates.)

Losses:                      Killed           Wounded         Missing or Captured        Total

Union                         894                 3,107                   2,836                                   6,837

Confederate          1,483                6,402                       108                                   7,993

---Gen. McClellan writes to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton his assessment of the fight at Gaines Mill, sending it via telegraph about midnight:

. . . I have lost this battle, because my force was too small. I again repeat that I am not responsible for this, and I say it with the earnestness of a general, who feels in his heart, the loss of every brave man who has been needlessly sacrificed to-day. I still hope to retrieve our fortunes, but to do this, the government must view the matter in the same earnest light that I do. You must send me very large reinforcements, and send them at once. . . . I only wish to say to the President, that I think he is wrong in regarding me as ungenerous, when I said that my force was too weak. I merely reiterated a truth, which to-day has been too plainly proved. If at this instant I could dispose of ten thousand fresh men, I could gain the victory to-morrow.

I feel too earnestly to-night, I have seen too many dead and wounded comrades, to feel otherwise than that the government has not sustained this army. If you do not do so now, the game is lost.

If I save this army now, I tell you plainly that I owe no thanks to you, or to any other persons in Washington.

You have done your best to sacrifice this army.

---John Beauchamp Jones, of the Confederate War Department, hears the sounds of battle outside of Richmond, and voices the growing admiration most Southerners are feeling for Lee:

What genius! what audacity in Lee ! He has absolutely taken the greater portion of his army to the north side of the Chickahominy, leaving McClellan’s center and left wing on the south side, with apparently easy access to the city. This is (to the invaders) impenetrable strategy. The enemy believes Lee’s main forces are here, and will never think of advancing. We have so completely closed the avenues of intelligence that the enemy has not been able to get the slightest intimation of our strength or the dispositions of our forces.

---Judith White McGuire of Richmond, describes in her journal the effect of the Lee’s many thousand

June 27th.—Yesterday was a day of intense excitement in the city and its surroundings. Early in the morning it was whispered about that some great movement was on foot. Large numbers of troops were seen under arms, evidently waiting for orders to march against the enemy. . . . I am told (for I did not witness it) that it was a scene of unsurpassed magnificence. The brilliant light of bombs bursting in the air and passing to the ground, the innumerable lesser lights, emitted by thousands and thousands of muskets, together with the roar of artillery and the rattling of small-arms, constituted a scene terrifically grand and imposing. What spell has bound our people? Is their trust in God, and in the valour of our troops, so great that they are unmoved by these terrible demonstrations of our powerful foe? It would seem so, for when the battle was over the crowd dispersed and retired to their respective homes with the seeming tranquility of persons who had been witnessing a panorama of transactions in a far-off country

---Charles Francis Adams, Sr., U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, in a letter home on this date, offers observations on the cotton trade and its effect upon the enemy’s war effort:

The cotton problem in England is becoming more and more serious. The stock has got down to about two hundred and fifty thousand bales, and there is a demand for export which is reducing it faster than was anticipated. At present it is calculated that by November there will be none left. Provided always that the slaveholders should be so foolish as to persevere in destroying it and themselves. It has seemed to me all along that they were mere suicides, and I believe it more firmly every day.

---Lt. Col. Rutherford B. Hayes, on duty with his regiment, the 23rd Ohio in the mountainous regions of western Virginia, notes in his diary the forming of the Army of Virginia, with Gen. John Pope in command:

General Pope appointed to “the Army of Virginia” — being the combined forces of Fremont, Shields, Banks, and McDowell, now in the Valley of Virginia. Sorry to see Fremont passed over but glad the concentration under one man has taken place. General Pope is impulsive and hasty, but energetic, and, what is of most importance, patriotic and sound — perfectly sound. I look for good results. —

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26, 1862

June 26, 1862: 
Eastern Theater, Peninsula Campaign:


Battle of Mechanicsville (Beaver Dam Creek):  The Battle of Oak Grove the day before draws McClellan’s attention to his left flank, thus missing the sure signs of Lee’s intended attack on his right, as deserters and escaped slaves have been telling Little Mac’s intelligence service.  Lee’s step-off movement of this series of attacks to cripple the Union right essentially fails because Stonewall Jackson, uncharacteristically sluggish, does not descend upon the Union flank of Gen. FitzJohn Porter’s V Corps, isolated from the rest of McClellan’s army north of the Chickahominy River.  Lee’s plan calls for A.P. Hill to strike Porter’s front while Jackson threatens Porter’s exposed flank; then, Longstreet and D.H. Hill will cross the Chickahominy and join in Hill’s attack.  But although Jackson’s men are in motion, they are six hours behind schedule.  A.P. Hill waits for the sounds of Jackson’s guns, and by 3:00 PM, finally attacks alone.  Porter pulls his blue line back to Beaver Dam Creek and, with 14,000 men in a strong position, and 32 guns, deflects Hill’s attack with his 11,000.  Jackson arrives, but does not attack; his exhausted troops go into bivouac.  In spite of Lee ordering him to stand his ground and not attack any more, Hill is joined by some of Longstreet’s and D.H. Hill’s troops later, and tries more attacks with unencouraging results.  Meanwhile, Huger and Magruder’s men south of the Chickahominy maneuver menacingly, inflating Union report of their numbers.  Union Victory.

Union                          361
Confederate          1,484
Battle of Beaver Dam Creek or Mechanicsville

---As a result of the action near Mechanicsville, McClellan is convinced that his right flank is threatened, and that in fact his supply line by rail to White House on the York River is threatened, and therefore decides to move his supply base to the opposite side of the Peninsula, to the James River.  The presence of Jackson’s men on Porter’s flank also prompts McClellan to order him to withdraw his Corps to Gaines Mill, where there are strong prepared defensive lines behind Boatswain’s Creek.  McClellan sends a message to Washington, asserting that he faces over 200,000 Confederates, and requests reinforcements. 

Seven Days' Battles

---John Beauchamp Jones, of the C.S. War Department, records in his journal of the sounds of battle heard in the capital---and perhaps hastily interprets what he hears as the successful execution of the Lee’s plan:

. . . Hill was so near us as to be almost in sight. The drums and fifes of his regiments, as they marched up to the point of attack, could be easily heard; how distinctly, then, sounded his cannon in our ears! And the enemy’s guns, pointed in the direction of the city, were as plainly discerned. I think McClellan is taken by surprise. . . . Another hour, and the reports come with the rapidity of seconds, or 3600 per hour! And now, for the first time, we hear the rattle of small arms. And lo! two guns farther to the right,—from Longstreet’s division, I suppose. And they were followed by others. This is Lee’s grand plan of battle: Jackson first, then Hill, then Longstreet—time and distance computed with mathematical precision! The enemy’s balloons are not up now. They know what is going on, without further investigations up in the air. The business is upon earth, where many a Yankee will breathe his last this night! McClellan must be thunderstruck at this unexpected opening of a decisive battle. . . .

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25, 1862

June 25, 1862:  Eastern Theater, Peninsula Campaign - SEVEN DAYS’ BATTLES, Day 1:

Battle of Oak Grove – McClellan, at last moving forward, advances troops from two divisions of the III Corps to push the Confederates  back in order to get his lines close enough to mount his siege guns within range of Richmond.  He orders Gen. Joseph Hooker to advance three brigades from his division to advance across a large expanse of swampy ground and push the Confederate pickets back.  As Grover’s brigade advances, Wright’s Rebels push them back with heavy losses.  Sickles pushes his brigade forward, and likewise a Southern counterattack causes his troops to retreat.  Both sides throw in increasingly larger numbers of reinforcements until a stalement lulls the field into relative quiet.  McClellan finally visits the battlefield from his headquarters, and orders more assaults in the evening.  In the end, the Union gains 600 yards and puts the swampy ground behind them; the Rebels do not have to retreat one inch.  Although often counted as the first of the Seven Days’ Battles, Oak Grove is in no way connected with or a precursor to the movements by Lee that causes these battles to ensue.   Stalemate.

Losses:                                 Killed            Wounded    Missing        Total

Union                                   68                     503                 55                  626

Confederate                       13                     362                 66                  441

---Gen. McClellan, that night, sends Sec. of War Stanton this message: that he expects that Jackson has indeed reinforced Lee, and that he expects a Confederate attack---and adds that he desperately needs more troops.  Otherwise, McClellan indicates that he is perfectly prepared to resist the enemy or—if defeated—to blame the government for not getting enough troops:

PORTER'S HEADQUARTERS, June 25, 1862--10.40 p.m.
(Received June 26--3 a.m.)


Secretary of War:

The information I received on this side tends to confirm impression that Jackson will soon attack our right and rear. Every possible precaution is being taken. If I had another good division I could laugh at Jackson. The task is difficult, but this army will do its best, and will never disgrace the country. Nothing but overwhelming forces can defeat us. Indications are of attack on our front tomorrow. Have made all possible arrangements.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24, 1862

June 24, 1862:  Outside of Richmond, Gen. Joseph Hooker’s U.S. division advances its picket lines closer to the city; there is considerable skirmishing with the Rebels in this operation. 

---Josiah Marshall Favill, an officer in the 57th New York Infantry, notes this interesting observation about a soldier’s life in his journal:

June 24th. Almost every man in the regiment got a thorough drenching last night; their arms, too. The colonel ordered fires lighted to dry the blankets and clothing, and on the color line at break of day every ball cartridge was withdrawn and the men ordered to clean their muskets. After breakfast the regiment fell in, and arms were carefully inspected, then reloaded. It is extraordinary how little the men require looking after in regard to their muskets! There are few men who do not keep them in perfect order all the time.

---In the U.S. Senate, Senator Willard Saulsbury, Sr., of Delaware (who once had distinguished himself by threatening the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms with a pistol to the head, in chambers), bares his opposition to the Confiscation Acts in a spirited protest on the basis of Constitutional law:

Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware: Under the pretense of suppressing a causeless rebellion, the executive and legislative departments of this Government are, in my opinion, daily engaged in the grossest violations of the fundamental law. If in times of peace the Constitution is the surest protection of the citizen, in times of civil war it is his only hope of safety.

   It is my purpose today, to strip assumption of its false pretensions, and to expose to public view the real authors and abettors of my country’s ruin. From my place I say that it is my deliberate and solemn conviction that either abolitionism or constitutional liberty must forever die; the two cannot exist together. Abolitionism has for the time being dissolved the Union. While it lives and rules, the Union will remain dissolved. . . .

   For purposes of convenience they entered, as independent States, each with the other, into Articles of Confederation. In 1787, for the purpose of forming a more perfect union between them, these separate, independent, and sovereign States appointed delegates to a common convention, to consider and agree upon terms of union for purposes common to them all, subject, however, to their separate ratification and approval. The approval of a majority of all the people of these States could not make the agreement of the delegates a constitution for all or any of them. It required the separate approval of each separate State to make that agreement its constitution. When nine States had thus separately ratified this agreement, it became their constitution, but not the constitution of those States which had not given it their assent. . . . No one was mad enough then to propose emancipation of slaves as a condition of Union. . .

   Seventy years later Lincoln was elected, Fort Sumter was fired. . . . On the day following the fall of Sumter, Congress passed a resolution that this war was to be waged to restore the Union, not to free slaves.

   And how have you kept that word? You have abolished slavery in the District, when slave-owners claim their property, you turn the military upon them, making it an offense for any military officer to return a slave to his master. You have decoyed and afforded shelter to thousands of slaves. You are now feeding and clothing them. You are paying thousands of negroes to act as teamsters and you are arming the slaves. You are attempting to build up an abolition party in the Border States, and you have recognized Hayti and Liberia. You have by your bills proposed the emancipation of almost the entire slave population of the South. . . . Governments according to our theory, derive all their just powers from the consent of the governed. There is no divine right in the ruling power. In the Declaration of Independence, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are declared to be inalienable rights; and that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever a government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to abolish it. . . .

   This is the doctrine of Lincoln. In 1848, sitting in Congress, Lincoln said, “any people anywhere being inclined, and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government. and form a new one that suits them better.”

   Mr. President, the true theory of our government is this: the Federal Government is the creature of the States. They, being sovereign, made it. Within the sphere of its delegated powers they agreed that it should be supreme. They did not thereby relinquish their own sovereignty. . . . The Government of the United States was made by the people of the several States, acting in their separate State capacity, and not by a majority of the whole people of the United States, acting in their collective capacity. . . .

   If you wage this war for the restoration of the Union as it was and the Constitution as it is, observing your own obligations under it. But if, in waging it, you mean to subvert the Constitution, which is the only bond and obligation of Union, if you mean to destroy or impair the rights of States or the people, you wage it under a false pretense and your war is murder and your success treason. . . . Did not slavery exist in the Southern States you never would have thought of this confiscation bill. You did not think of it in the war of 1812, in the war with Mexico. Why do you think of it now? Your design is to make this a war for the abolition of slavery. You desire to destroy the domestic institutions of the States. Abolition shouts Union, while meaning to destroy the only bond of Union.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23, 1862

June 23, 1862:  Stonewall Jackson arrives in Richmond, at the head of his divisions making their way by stages on the railroad to join him.  (There is still apparently no clue that the Federals still suspect he and his troops have left the Shenandoah Valley.)  Gen. Lee calls a conference at his new headquarters outside of the city.  Having over 85,000 overall, the largest strength ever reached by the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee plans to leave 30,000 men under Generals Huger and Magruder to guard Richmond to the south of the Chickahominy River, versus the bulk of the Union army.  The Plan: to attack FitzJohn Porter’s V Corps isolated north of the Chickahominy and destroy it, and then to drive for the Federal rear, taking the supply base at White House landing on the York River.  Jackson is to march east and then cut south to hit Porter in the right flank and rear, and A.P. Hill is to drive forward to strike at Porter’s other flank near the river, and thus cut off Porter’s access to the bridge near Mechanicsville.  Then, Longstreet and D.H. Hill are to join in the attack, altogether bringing 56,000 Confederate troops against the lone V Corps of Yankees.  The plan depends on Gen. McClelland and his 130,000 Army of the Potomac doing nothing, as usual.

---In the West, Halleck begins breaking up his Grand Army that had captured Corinth, Mississippi, into its component parts.  Gen. Buell, with his Army of the Ohio, on June 11th began a campaign toward Chattanooga, but by this date had only reached Tuscumbia, Alabama.  Buell is wary, and is moving slowly.  Advance troops have already penetrated as far as Chattanooga, but not in enough strength to hold the city.  Bragg, newly appointed commander of the Confederate army, minus Price’s and Van Dorn’s troops, is planning a campaing to join up with Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith in eastern Tennessee with 20,000 men, and to strike north.

---Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, once again in control of the Army of the Tennessee, establishes headquarters at Memphis, where Mrs. Grant and his children soon join him.

---Pres. Lincoln proposes a generous loan to Mexico to assist the neighboring nation in its struggle against French domination.

---The 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment, on special assignment, patrols Gloucester and Mathews Counties in Virginia to control the impredations of Rebel cavalry who are raiding the communities there to arrest deserters from the Confederate army and others who are avoiding conscription.

---Stephen Minot Weld, of the 18th Massachusetts Infantry, writes home to his father; his letter reveals how common amongst the rank and file was the attitude of their commander, McClellan, that conspiracies in Washington were responsible for McClellan not  being able to move:

From present appearances, we shall stay here all summer sweltering under this powerful sun, our ranks daily .decreasing from sickness and exposure, all from want of reinforcements. Unless we are attacked by the enemy, or unless General McClellan gets some very favorable chance to attack them, there will be no fighting for some time, and in case of a battle the result, to say the least, is extremely doubtful. They greatly outnumber us, and are daily throwing up trenches and batteries right opposite our army. In the face of all these facts, and notwithstanding McClellan’s frequent and earnest appeals for more troops, the Government at Washington refuses us any reinforcements. The Abolitionists in Congress have a great deal to do with this, and are purposely protracting the war in order to render emancipation necessary, and are so endangering our existence as a nation united and whole. . . .

---George Michael Neese, a Confederate soldier in Chew’s Horse Artillery, relates his impression of Sunday services:

We had preaching in camp to-day again, and we are getting in a goodly supply of heavenly ammunition from the arsenal of truth — in double doses, preaching in the morning and prayer meeting at night. The ammunition is fixed and ready to fire at all times and under all circumstances, and I hope that we may all pack at least some of it away in the cartridge box of fortitude for immediate and constant use, and not act like the great majority of the world, both saints and sinners, who use it all up in empty ceremonials on Sunday, having not enough left on Monday morning to make a decent skirmish against the inroads of wrongdoing, hypocrisy, and rascality.

---Caroline Cowles Richards, of upstate New York, writes in her diary of an amusing set of incidents at worship services:

June. — There was great excitement in prayer meeting last night, it seemed to Abbie Clark, Mary Field and me on the back seat where we always sit. Several people have asked us why we sit away back there by old Mrs Kinney, but we tell them that she sits on the other side of the stove from us and we like the seat, because we have occupied it so long. I presume we would see less and hear more if we sat in front. To-night just after Mr Walter Hubbell had made one of his most beautiful prayers and Mr Cyrus Dixon was praying, a big June bug came zipping into the room and snapped against the wall and the lights and barely escaped several bald heads. Anna kept dodging around in a most startling manner and I expected every moment to see her walk out and take Emma Wheeler with her, for if she is afraid of anything more than dogs it is June bugs. At this crisis the bug flew out and a cat stealthily walked in. We knew that dear Mrs Taylor was always unpleasantly affected by the sight of cats and we didn’t know what would happen if the cat should go near her. The cat very innocently ascended the steps to the desk and as Judge and Mrs Taylor always sit on the front seat, she couldn’t help observing the ambitious animal as it started to assist Dr Dagget in conducting the meeting. The result was that Mrs Taylor just managed to reach the outside door before fainting away. We were glad when the benediction was pronounced.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20, 1862

June 20, 1862:  Being frustrated by Beauregard’s continual retreating, Pres. Davis finds an opportunity to relieve the Creole of his command, since Beauregard has taken a leave of absence for his health.  Davis relieves Beauregard and promotes Braxton Bragg to command of the Confederate army in the western theater.

---The Richmond Daily Dispatch, bemoaning the nefarious practice of draft substitution, and how many will join for the bounty and then desert, offers a solution:

This evil has become so great that it should be immediately attended to, and some of the base follows summarily dealt with. There are two ways to put an end to the pernicious practice, In the first place, every man who offers to sell himself as a substitute should be looked upon with suspicion, and be arrested on the spot as a deserter, which in nine cases out of ten he will prove to be. Secondly, a few of them should be court-martialed and formally shot. After what has transpired, and the frequent warning given by the press, it would be the height of folly for any soldier to throw his money away upon these infamous scoundrels.

---Katherine Prescott Wormeley writes home to her mother about an incident in nursing the wounded and sick soldiers:

This afternoon, as I was attending to some men in the Sibley tents, I came upon one of the exhortative kind, who often afford us much amusement. He made a rapid survey of the history of the world, to prove that no women had ever done as we were doing, no men had ever been succored as they were succored. Whether he was out of his mind, or simply one of the irrepressible, I could not tell; but he looked so funny, declaiming in his hospital rig, that I slipped out of the tent, convulsed with laughter, — for which I felt sorry, and rather ashamed, a moment later, when I saw the tears in the eyes of a gentleman, new to the work, who was with me. But we must either laugh or cry; and this work teaches us that we had better laugh, if we mean to be good for anything.

June 19, 1862

June 19, 1862:  ---Battle of St. Charles.  In Arkansas, a Union attempt to establish communications by river to Gen. Samuel Curtis’s army in Central Arkansas, results in an expedition up the White River, with the ironclads Mound City, St. Louis, timberclads Lexington and Conestoga, and two transports carrying the 46th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Reg.  At a bend in the river at St. Charles, Arkansas, the Rebels have set up two batteries of guns, and have sunk a gunboat in the river as an obstruction.  A lively artillery duel begins, with the Mound City taking the lead.  At one point, however, a Confederate solid shot pierces the Mound City’s armored casemate, killing several men and piercing the ship’s boiler.  The escaping steam kills or badly scalds most of the crew.  A few are able to escape, but Rebel riflemen shoot many of them in the water.  Only 25 men of the crew remain uninjured, but 125 are killed, and another 25 badly burned or wounded, including Commander Kilty, the skipper of the ironclad.  Strangely enough, the ship’s boiler is soon repaired, and the expedition continues upriver---but eventually gives up and returns to base.
U.S.S. Mound City

---Gen. Hunter, commander of the Dept. of the Southeast, in South Carolina, gives orders to arrest Gen. Benham for disobedience to orders and the fiasco at Secessionville, and appoints Gen. Horatio Wright to command in Benham’s stead.

---Gen. John Pope is summoned to Washington  by Sec. of War Edwin Stanton.