Monday, July 30, 2012

July 29, 1862

July 29, 1862:  Western Theater - By this date, the bulk of Braxton Bragg’s army has arrived by tedious railroad stagings in Chattanooga, and the Federals are realizing that their advance on this crucial Appalachian rail junction has been blocked.  Gen. Rosecrans, in command of Pope’s (formerly) Army of the Mississippi, has been advancing eastward from Corinth, and Rosecrans’ recently-promoted cavalry chief, Brig, Gen. Philip Sheridan, is leading raids into Confederate country.  On the 28th, Sheridan captures a Confederate officer in possession of papers that establish Bragg’s design of concentrating at Chattanooga in order to work in concert with Gen. Kirby-Smith in Knoxville.  Meanwhile, Gen. Sterling Price, with several Confederate divisions, begins maneuvers in northern Mississippi.

---Trans-Mississippi Theater:  Unionist guerillas (also known as Jayhawkers) attack Confederates at Moore's Mills, Missouri in what becomes a rather savage fight for involving fairly small units.  The Jayhawkers lose 16 men killed and 30 wounded, while the Rebels lose 62 dead and 100 wounded.

---The state of Kansas begins to call for black volunteers for the “First Regiment of Kansas Zouaves d’Afrique”, arguably the first black regiment in the Union army. 

---Union Army surgeon Alfred L. Castleman, with the Army of the Potomac camps at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, notes mysterious movements in the army:

Some mysterious movements are going on in this army. At night we look over a large flat covered with tents, lighted by camp fires, resonant with the sounds of living soldiers. In the morning that same flat is deserted and still, as if the angel of death had enjoyed a passover. What has become of the busy actors of the night, none who dare speak of it can conjecture.

---Mersey River, England:  A most significant event takes place on this date in the John Laird shipyards in Birkenhead, when a vessel commissioned by the Confederate States of America (known up to this point only as Hull No. 290) is launched and---despite the best diplomatic efforts of Ambassador Charles Francis Adams, Sr.---is allowed to leave Liverpool harbor as the S.S. Enrica.  At sea, the ship is outfitted with cannons and equipment and re-commisioned the CSS Alabama, which will make history as the most successful and destructive ship in the Confederate Navy, capturing and destroying a huge amount of Yankee shipping and driving much of the Northern merchant shipping from the seas.

---Confederate War Department clerk John Beauchamp Jones notes the effect of the Yankee Gen. Pope and his policies:

JULY 29TH.—Pope’s army, greatly reinforced, are committing shocking devastations in Culpepper and Orange Counties. His brutal orders, and his bragging proclamations, have wrought our men to such a pitch of exasperation that, when the day of battle comes, there will be, most be terrible slaughter.

---Sarah Morgan of Baton Rouge writes in her journal of the sufferings of the Union soldiers in the malarial summer heat of Louisiana:

These poor soldiers are dying awfully. Thirteen went yesterday. On Sunday the boats discharged hundreds of sick at our landing. Some lay there all the afternoon in the hot sun, waiting for the wagon to carry them to the hospital, which task occupied the whole evening. In the mean time these poor wretches lay uncovered on the ground, in every stage of sickness. . . . All day our vis-à-vis, Baumstark, with his several aids, plies his hammer; all day Sunday he made coffins, and says he can’t make them, fast enough. Think, too, he is by no means the only undertaker here! Oh, I wish these poor men were safe in their own land! It is heartbreaking to see them die here like dogs, with no one to say Godspeed. The Catholic priest went to see some, sometime ago, and going near one who lay in bed, said some kind thing, when the man burst into tears and cried, “Thank God, I have heard one kind word before I die!” In a few minutes the poor wretch was dead.

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