Friday, July 27, 2012

July 26, 1862

July 26, 1862:  Gen. Halleck consents to send Gen. McClellan the 20,000 reinforcements that Little Mac has requested, but now McClellan asks for 55,000 more troops.

---In General Franz Sigel’s advance, near Madison Court House, Virginia, the 1st Connecticut Cavalry Regiment skirmishes with Rebel cavalry under Beverley Robertson, and drives the Rebels from the town.

---In  Patten, Missouri, troops of the 10th Battalion of state militia fight a close-fought skirmish with about 200 Rebel bushwhackers, or irregular cavalry.  The Rebels are beaten and driven off, suffering 25 killed and wounded.  The Unionists incur only 3 men wounded.

---Alexander G. Downing, an infantryman in the 11th Iowa Infantry Regiment, Army of the Tennessee, writes in his diary about the issuing and quality of rations:

During this hot weather the regular army rations are drawn, but the men use very little of the salt bacon. But the bacon being issued, the company cook takes care of it and now has a wagon load of it stacked up beside his tent, anyone being permitted to go and help himself to it. At noon the company cook prepares the bean soup and cooks the pickled beef, after which he calls out for every man to come and get his portion. All the other rations are issued every five days, each man carrying his portion in his haversack. We haven [sic] had no Irish potatoes issued for eight months now, but fresh beef we draw, sometimes twice a week, and it is cooked for us by the company cook. The rations are all of good quality with the exception of crackers, which at times are a little worm-eaten.

---In answer to his family’s inquiries, Oliver Willcox Norton of the 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry tries to describe to them his feelings and thoughts while in battle:

At other times I would have been horror-struck and could not have moved, but then I jumped over dead men with as little feeling as I would over a log. The feeling that was uppermost in my mind was a desire to kill as many rebels as I could. The loss of comrades maddened me, the balls flew past me hissing in the air, they knocked my guns to splinters, but the closer they came they seemed to make me more insensible to fear. I had no time to think of anything but my duty to do all I could to drive back the enemy, and it was not duty that kept me there either, but a feeling that I had a chance then to help put down secession and a determination to do my best. My heart was in the fight, and I couldn’t be anywhere else. I told you it was hard to describe one’s feeling in a battle, and it is. No one can ever know exactly till he has been through it.

---The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes this rather dry but witty discourse on the origins of the Yankee term “skedaddle” (i.e., retreat), while playing on popular Southern prejudices on the subject of education amongst the Yankees (which is odd, considering that the literacy rate amongst Southerners was much lower than amongst Northerners).  Notice also the witty allusion to the recent Union defeats and the now-notorious military euphemism coined by McClellan on the occasion of his retreat from Richmond:

Origin of the Yankee phrase “Skedaddle.”

A friend of ours says that this phrase, apparently invented by the Yankees, in a prophetic spirit, to describe their own predestined performances in that part of the drill which is inaugurated by the command “right about face,” is certainly derived from “skedase,” the future tense of the Greek verb “skedonnumi,” signifying “to disperse. ” This verb, in some of its tenses, is frequently used by Homer to describe that manoeuvre called by McClellan”a change of base,” or “a strategic movement,” and known by others, not so conversant in military operations, as “a headlong flight.”

We found some difficulty in accounting for the manner in which the Yankee soldiers had contrived to pick up so much Greek; but our classical friend had a solution ready for the occasion. He thinks the phrase was not invented by the soldiers, but by some wild college boy, who used it to express the scattering of a company of boys engaged in some mischievous prank when a professor suddenly appears in their midst. From the college it passed into multitude and was thus drawn into general use. The genealogical tree of “skedaddle” is quite respectable, if such be the proposetus. Whether it be or not, we leave to the consideration of scholars and antiquaries. The theory has at least the merit of being very ingenious.

---Also posted in the Daily Dispatch on this date: an ad offering reward for returnin escaped slaves:

Two hundred dollars reward

The above reward, or a proportionate rate for any of them, will be paid for the apprehension of the following slaves and their confinement in jail so that I get them again, or their delivery to me, at Petersburg or Maiden's Adventure, Powhatan county:
Daniel about 30 years old; black; about 5 feet inches high; no marks recollected.

Charles, about 25 years old; black; about 6 feet high; no marks recollected.

Ned, about 21 years old; black; about 5 feet 8 inches; no marks.

David, about 40 years old; black; about 5 feet 6 inches; no marks.

Ann, about 32 years old; black; about 5 feet 2 inches; no marks.

Eliza, about 14 years old; black.

Matthew, about 25 years old; black; 5 feet 8 inches.

Richard, black; about 5 feet 8 inches; no marks recollected.

Gilbert, black; about 5 feet 6 inches; no marks recollected.

All except two of the above negroes having lived in Surry county, at Hog Island, were removed to Maiden's Adventure, Powhatan county, and are doubtless endeavoring to make their way back to Hog Island, with a view to escaping to the enemy.

Also, Joe, hired at the American Hotel, Richmond. R. Y. Jones.

Petersburg, July 16, 1862. jy 19--1w.

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