Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21, 1862

August 21, 2012: Minnesota Dakota Uprising - Battle of Fort Ridgely, Day 2 - With ranks swelled to nearly 800 warriors, Chief Little Crow once again attacks the fort, where only 175 soldiers and less than 200 settlers have holed up. This time, the Dakota do not flinch at the cannon, and their charge captures several of the buildings, from which the warriors keep up a hot fire; but they are unable to maintain their position, and finally retreat. Many braves have been killed, but the Army has lost only seven men. Since the basis of the Dakotas’ grievances are with the U.S. Government—failure to live up to their treaty, to deliver food, or the money promised to pay for the taken lands—Little Crow sees the U.S. Army as their true enemy. But the attacks on the fort are futile, so he plans to join the warriors who are still laying siege to the town of New Ulm tomorrow.
Chief Little Crow

—A sharp battle takes place at Gallatin, Tennessee, between Col. John Hunt Morgan’s Rebel cavalry and Union troops under Gen. R.W. Johnson. The Yankees are beaten back after a severe fight.

—Union General George Morgan (not to be confused with the Rebel cavalry officer, John Hunt Morgan), in command of troops around Cumberland Gap in Tennessee, faces overwhelming Confederate forces in his front and rear, from the armies of Kirby-Smith and Bragg. Morgan sends a dispatch to headquarters insisting that he will hold the position: "If attacked I pledge myself and command for the security of this fort. We won it and do not intend to lose it."

—Capt. William L. Bolton, of the 51st Penn. Infantry, writes in his journal of the initial fighting at the ford at Rappahannock Station:
Hostilities opened this morning in dead earnest at 10 ½ o’clock A.M. near the Rappahannock Station, by the enemy driving in our pickets, and about one hour later it began in our immediate front. The 51st P.V. ordered to repel the attack, and was about to move off, when the cavalry was ordered instead. Reno ordered to send three regiments of cavalry under Buford, and two pieces of artillery, to make a strong reconnaisance towards Stevensburg, and to advance three regiments fo infantry and a battery three miles south of the Rappahannock to support him. The fighting continued all day. . . . The fighting ended for the day at 6 o’clock P.M. favorable to the Union cause, [Gen.] Sigel having captured 19 guns.
Stuart raids behind Pope's army to Catlett's Station

—George Michael Neese, a Rebel artilleryman with Jackson’s troops, wrote in his journal of the fighting at Rappahannock Station:
At dusk this evening we heard heavy cannonading and some musketry down the Rappahannock. The whole country around here seems to be full of Yankees. We will tree some of them before long; perhaps tomorrow.

—Robert Know Sneden, of the III Corps staff with McClellans’ army, records in his journal his mixes feelings about leaving the Peninsula campaign defeated:
Fine day. I went swimming in the York River at 6:30 a.m. Several hundred soldiers, with some officers were in the water at the same time. The bugle sounded "pack up" at 7:30 and our headquarter tents were struck by 9 o’clock. Long lines of troops moved from the town to the dreary looking wharf and began embarking on steamboats. . . . A dozen or more steamers, all laden with troops were now steaming down river, and our boat soon overhauled the fleet as she was a fast river steamer. Bands were playing and men cheering, flags flying, and the show was grand. But our spirits were not so buoyant as when another much larger fleet, filled with expectant troops left Alexandria in March last, "On to Richmond" then being the universal song.

—Josiah Marshall Favill, a young officer with the 57th New York Infantry, records his regiment’s R &R at Yorktown:
August 21st. Marched bright and early, arriving at Yorktown about noon and put up our tents on the identical spot occupied by us while awaiting shipment to West Point, in the spring; felt quite at home. As soon as the camp was established, all hands were dismissed for a swim, and the waves were quickly whispering lullabys in the ears of the dusty and weary warriors of the first division. . . . After a capital swim, several of us rode through the quaint, slow, old town, which we found just as dirty as ever, the pigs still running at large, feeding on the filth from the tumble down houses; received orders to be ready to march early in the morning for Newport News, as transports were awaiting us; weather magnificent.

—Alfred L. Castleman, a Union Army surgeon with McClellans’ retreating army on the Peninsula, records his impressions when his brigade comes into sight of the harbor at Hampton (Newport News), where they are to embark for Washington:
21st.—Camped last night in sight of Big Bethel, and left this morning at 5 o’clock. After a brisk march of four hours, we reached Hampton, (12 miles.) As we reached the summit of a ridge and the Roads, and the shipping two miles off suddenly burst upon the view, how intensely did I realize the feeling of a scarred leader in a ten year’s war, when, on his return he caught the first glimpse of his native land—

—Gen. Henry W. Halleck, in command of all U.S. armies, writes this diplomatically-worded message to Gen. McClellan, who is still on the Peninsula in Virginia:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, August 20, 1862.
Major General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN,
Commanding, &c.:

I have just received yours of the 17th by General Burnside.

You can scarcely imagine the pressure on me for the last two weeks and the anxiety I have had in regard to your movements. When I felt that the safety of Washington depended on the prompt and rapid transfer of your army it is very probable that my messages to you were more urgent and pressing than guarded in their language. I certainly meant nothing harsh, but I did feel that you did not act as promptly as I thought the circumstances required. I deemed every hour a golden one, the loss of which could not be repaired. I deemed every hour a golden one, the loss of which could not be repaired. I think you did not attach so much value to the passing hours; but perhaps I was mistaken. I know that there are several little matters which have annoyed you; they could not be avoided. . . .

There is enough and more than enough for all of us to do, although none of us can do exactly what we could wish. That Lee is moving on Pope with his main army I have no doubt. Unless we can unite most of your army with Burnside and Pope, Washington is in great danger. Under these circumstances you must pardon the extreme anxiety [and perhaps a little impatience] which I feel. Every moment seems to me as important as an ordinary hour.
Yours, in haste,


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