Friday, August 24, 2012

August 24, 1862

August 24, 1862: Gen. Lee calls a conference with Generals Longstreet and Jackson. He gives Jackson orders to take his 27,000 men on a long swing to the west, around Pope’s right flank, and hit the Federal supply base at Manassas Junction. Lee knows that this is a risky move, to divide his army in the face of the enemy----but he is convinced that Pope is not sufficiently perceptive to discern his move. He is right, of course. Jackson’s route will take him behind the Bull Run Mountains, which will act as a screen, until he reaches Thoroughfare Gap, where he will turn southeast and strike at the rail junction at Manassas and hopefully snare Pope and isolate him from supplies. Longstreet, meanwhile, begins shifting to the left to cover Jackson’s part of the line. Jackson’s corps is on the road by 3:00 A.M. later tonight, marching rapidly.
Jackson's flanking march

—The New York Herald, in the wake of defeats in the Seven Days Battles before Richmond, and at Cedar Mountain, publishes an editorial that questions how a nation so superior and population and material resources can not be winning the war by now. It implicitly calls into question the matter of generalship, which is on every Northerner’s mind these days (and will be even more so before September passes away):
President Lincoln has the confidence of the country. No man doubts his honesty or his patriotism. Down to the recent seven days bloody battles near Richmond he may, perhaps, have shared with the whole people of the North the belief that this war in a week or two would be substantially ended; but those memorable seven days have convinced him, as they have convinced the North and all our loyal States, that we had vastly underrated the numbers of the rebel army and exaggerated our own. But if, in anticipation of a crowning victory at Richmond, the energies and vigilance of the Administration in regard to our army were slackened, the severe disappointment which followed has brought its compensating reaction. It has taught us — Government and people — that while our war like means, resources, and facilities are absolutely overwhelming, they go for nothing unless we bring them to bear in superior strength against the active forces of this rebellion.

—George Templeton Strong of New York City records in his journal the tone of the public anxiety over the apparently disordered military affairs in Virginia:
We are most anxious about affairs in Virginia. The streets are filled with rumors of a great disaster to General Pope’s command. They cannot be traced and are disbelieved, but these shadows are too often the forerunners of some calamitous fact. Such disaster is but too plainly probable, thanks to the refined strategy that has thus far directed the campaign. McClellan’s withdrawal to the lower end of the Peninsula makes the whole rebel army available for a dash in any direction its leaders may select. It is set free—disengaged—for offensive operations. . . . If they possess common sense, they will surely move against Pope with their whole available force, which certainly far outnumbers his, hoping to crush him and move on Washington before McClellan can join him. This is their hour. . . . They must strike now. . . . We want a strong man, a great general, very badly. Such a man would be dangerous, but we want him.

—A nearly comical series of telegrams between Gen. Halleck and Gen. McClellan make it clear that neither general knows where Gen. Pope is. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac is disembarking at Aquia Creek and Alexandria, and he is requesting orders, scarcely concealing his impatience. But Halleck does not know what to tell Little Mac, since he does not know where Pope is. Some of McClellan’s troops, such as Burnside’s IX Corps, and Porter’s V Corps, are in the field but so far have not been given any orders by Pope, either, who seems to not be aware that these reinforcements are at hand.


—Pope, on the other hand, clearly does not know where Gen. Lee and the Rebels are. Every time Pope’s troops make a thrust in any direction, they fail to make contact with the Rebels—and so his Army of Virginia continues sparring with a shadowy opponent, all the while retreating.


—General Edmund Kirby-Smith, in command of the Army of East Tennessee, writes to his wife from Barboursville, Kentucky: 
The country is aroused, the people are all against us, this is true of all the mountain region of Ky. but the blue grass region [west?] of the mountains is our dependence there the sentiment is in our favour and when we [debauch?] from the mountains, we expect support. My expedition is something like Cortez. I have burnt my ships behind me and thrown myself boldly into the enemy’s country, the results may be brilliant and if successful will be considered a stroke of inspiration and genious. pray for me darling wife.

—Near Lamar, Kansas, nine companies of Kansas cavalry are attacked by William Quantrill’s and Col. Hays’ bushwhackers. The fighting see-saws for some time, with the Federals driving off the Southern men.


—Dallas, Missouri: A hot skirmish takes places between the Rebel irregulars of Col. Jeffries and a battlion of the 12th Missouri Cavalry, U.S. The Rebels, although more numerous, and driven from the field.



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