Monday, August 13, 2012

August 13, 1862

August 13, 1862: Gen. Robert E. Lee, becoming more certain that McClellan will not attack him, sends Gen. John B. Hood with two brigades marching for Gordonsville to reinforce Jackson—partly to encounter what is reported to him: that Burnside’s troops are moving west to reinforce Pope.

—Pope has discovered Jackson’s withdrawal from his front at Cedar Mountain, but his scouts estimate Jackson’s 21,000 men to be 35,000, making Pope believe that he is not strong enough to attack across the Rapidan.

—On the evening of Aug. 12, a Federal division of 12 regiments, 4 batteries of artillery, and a squadron of cavalry under the command of Gen. Jesse Reno begins marching west from Falmouth, Virginia, across the river from Fredericksburg. Gen. Burnside remains in Falmouth with his second division for the time being. Reno’s force marches all night.

—Capt. William J. Bolton, of the 51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, writes in his journal of this movement, which shows the urgency and dispatch of their movement to aid Pope:
After a most tedious march all night we came to a halt about 4 o’clock A.M. and went into bivouac without any shelter and nothing to eat, as we were too tired to prepare it. Left our bivouac at 9 o’clock A.M. came to a halt at noon for rest near a peach orchard, and the boys soon made short work of the fruit. This was near the Yellow House, some eight miles from Fredericksburg. After our short rest we started again. The heat had now become intense, but kept up our march until 9 o’clock P.M. when we came to a halt, and bivouacked in an open field for the night.
A 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army

—Gen. Jacob Cox, in command in mountainous West Virginia, sets out eastward with a division of troops to reinforce Pope.

—Gen. McClellan fires off one more telegram to Gen. Halleck with reasons why moving his army now to Aquia Creek (as Halleck has ordered him) and abandoning the Peninsula front would be impossible, and arguing why he ought to be allowed to make a movement toward Richmond and distract Lee from where he was. Halleck replies curtly: ""I have read your dispatch. There is no change of plans. You will send your troops as rapidly as possible. There is no difficulty in landing them. According to your own accounts there is now no difficulty in withdrawing your forces. Do so with all possible rapidity."

—At Yellow Creek, Missouri, Rebels (Poindexter’s guerillas) and Federal troops under Col. Guitar (yep—his real name) clash in a sharp fight, resulting in the rout of the Rebels, and the Yankees capturing abouit 60 of them.

—Battle of Clarendon, Arkansas: In eastern Arkansas, near Clarendon, Rebel troops from Gen. Thomas Hindman’s rapidly building army attacked the Federal troops of Gen. Hovey, both infantry and cavalry. There was heavy fighting for several hours, with the Rebels getting the worst of it. They retreated, leaving nearly 700 prisoners in Union hands. Union Victory.

---Orders are issued for eastern North Carolina by Gen. D.H. Hill for one-fourth of the region’s able-bodied slaves to be given up for government service in digging the fortifications around Richmond:
Head Quarters Dist. of Pamlico & Cape Fear
Goldsboro August 13th 1862


In compliance with instructions from Major Genl. D.H. Hill commanding the District of North Carolina, all the counties in the eastern part of the state bordering on the lines of the enemy are required to furnish at once one fourth of the able bodied slave laborers within their limits, to be used in the vicinity of the cities of Richmond and Petersburg, Va.

The following counties are specially designated
New Hanover, Onslow, Duplin, Lenoir, Craven, Jones, Carteret, Pitt, Martin, Bertie, Hertford, Gates, Green

As the loyal and patriotic citizens of these counties have suffered, and are suffering much from the depredations and outrage of the enemy, it is earnestly and confidently hoped that they will promptly respond to this call and by so doing contribute to the expulsion of the invader from our soil.

—The Richmond Daily Dispatch, with some satisfaction, publishes the contents of a Northern telegram detailing President Lincoln’s rejection of negro troops:
The efforts of those who love the negro more than the Union to induce the President to swerve from his established policy are unavailing. He will neither be persuaded by promise nor intimidated by threats. To-day he was called upon by two U. S. Senators, and rather peremptorily requested to accept the services of two negro regiments. They were flatly and unequivocally rejected. The President did not appreciate the necessity for employing the negroes to fight the battles of the country, and take the positions which the white men of the nation, the voters and sons of patriotic sires, should be proud to occupy; there were employments in which the negroes of rebel masters might well be engaged, but he was not willing to place them upon an equality with our volunteers, who had left home and family and lucrative occupation to defend the Union and the Constitution, while there were volunteers or militia enough in the loyal States to maintain the Government without resort to this expedient.

—Miss Sarah Morgan of Baton Rouge, having fled the city, is on the run from Yankee gunboats amongst the plantations along the west bank of the Mississippi. She records in her diary her reaction to the news that the family’s hidden possessions have been looted by Yankee troops—and in doing so, once again considers the complexities of her desires for peace and her thirst for revenge:
I am in despair. Miss Jones, who has just made her escape from town, brings a most dreadful account. She, with seventy-five others, took refuge at Dr. Enders’s, more than a mile and a half below town, at Hall’s. It was there we sent the two trunks containing father’s papers and our clothing and silver. Hearing that guerrillas had been there, the Yankees went down, shelled the house in the night, turning all those women and children out, who barely escaped with their clothing, and let the soldiers loose on it. They destroyed everything they could lay their hands on, if it could not be carried off; broke open armoirs, trunks, sacked the house, and left it one scene of devastation and ruin. They even stole Miss Jones’s braid! She got here with nothing but the clothes she wore.

This is a dreadful blow to me. Yesterday, I thought myself beggared when I heard that our house was probably burnt, remembering all the clothing, books, furniture, etc., that it contained; but I consoled myself with the recollection of a large trunk packed in the most scientific style, containing quantities of nightgowns, skirts, chemises, dresses, cloaks, — in short, our very best, — which was in safety. Winter had no terrors when I thought of the nice warm clothes; I only wished I had a few of the organdie dresses I had packed up before wearing. And now? It is all gone, silver, father’s law papers, without which we are beggars, and clothing! Nothing left!

I could stand that. But as each little article of Harry’s came up before me (I had put many in the trunk), I lost heart. . . . They may clothe their negro women with my clothes, since they only steal for them; but to take things so sacred to me! O my God, teach me to forgive them! . . .

I have always been an advocate of peace — if we could name the conditions ourselves — but I say, War to the death! I would give my life to be able to I take arms against the vandals who are laying waste our fair land! I suppose it is because I have no longer anything to lose that I am desperate. . . . Tell me it would be of service to the Confederacy, and I would set fire to my home—if still standing —willingly! But would it?

The ever-candid Union Army surgeon Alfred L. Castleman writes with furious exasperation (if not a little exaggeration) at the deceptions and prevaricating delays of the Army of the Potomac high command—indeed, that of the whole Union army:

Our leaders here are rapidly losing the confidence of the army and becoming objects of ridicule to the enemy. At White Oak Bridge, when we retreated, we left our pickets at their posts, without notifying them of our movements. They were of course taken prisoners. . . . they were being examined by a rebel Colonel, when Stonewall Jackson came up and upbraided the Colonel for spending time with the prisoners. "Let the prisoners go," said he, and "press on after the enemy. So accustomed have they become to digging that if you give them twelve hours’ rest, they will dig themselves clear under ground." Flattering, truly! I hope General McClellan will note it. But these things must not be talked about. Oh, no! We must see army after army sacrificed, the bones of hundreds of thousands of our bravest men bleaching on the plains, the nation draped in mourning, and not speak of it lest we shake confidence in our Generals, who through selfishness or incompetency, I will not yet say treason, are so frequently subjecting us to such contumely and sacrifices. History will make sad revelations of this war. I verily believe that, could its abuses be fully told, it would arouse the people to an enthusiasm which no acts of the enemy can excite. Under our present leaders, God knows what is to become of us. I have lost all confidence in them. In only four months from the time we landed on the Peninsula we had lost nearly two-thirds of the vast army brought with us, without one decisive battle! . . . At any time between October and June last, it has been in the power of this army to crush out this rebellion in a month; and yet the rebellion is more formidable to-day than at any previous time. Even now we are receiving reports of the discomfiture of Pope’s army, and, notwithstanding that its struggles are for our relief, it is unmistakeably evident that the report gives pleasure to the staffs of McClellan and Hancock. It may be so with other staffs; these are the only ones I have seen. Jealousy, jealousy—what will be the end of this? God preserve us.

Whilst I am noting down these abuses, a strange feeling possesses me; I lose all sense of my determination to abandon this rotten thing, and I resolve here to fight to the bitter end. Oh, if we had a Wellington, a Napoleon, a Scott, or even a Jackson, to do—something—anything, but dig and watch and —! falsely report!

Just as I close this journal of the day, a man rides up and tells me that General Pope has had a fight, and "holds his own." I hope this is true, but I cannot forget that on the 26th of June, General McClellan made the army boisterously joyful by his assertion that McCall had thoroughly whipped Stonewall Jackson. On the next morning at daylight, it was claimed that McCall had only "held his own." Two hours later we find that instead of even holding his own, he had retreated four miles, but it was only a "strategic movement," and next day it became necessary for the whole army to—not retreat—but—"change its base." All this it required to tell the simple truth that we were overpowered, whipped, and on the retreat. I hope it may not now be the beginning of a like history of General Pope’s movements.

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