Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 10, 1862

September 10, 1862:  Hearing that an unknown force of Federals is in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and is reported heading south to Hagerstown, Maryland, Gen. Lee divides his army again, in the face of protests from Gen. Longstreet.  Lee orders Longstreet to detail off Gen. D.H. Hill and his division of 5,000 to guard the passes through South Mountain, and then to take the rest of his corps and march north to Hagerstown.

—Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania issues a call for 50,000 able-bodied “freemen” to arm and report for military drill to defend against the Rebel invasion which, it was believed, would drive up into Pennsylvania and possibly head for Harrisburg or Philadelphia.

---In answer to Pres. Lincoln’s queries, Gen. Don Carlos Buell, commander of the Army of the Ohio, 50,000 strong, gives a puzzling and ambivalent answer as to Bragg’s whereabouts.  Bragg has about 25,000 troops, and Gen. Kirby-Smith in Lexington, Kentucky has about 9,000---even combined, no match for Buell.  Buell appears to  be loath to give up Nashville, even though Kirby-Smith is already in northern Kentucky and threatening Cincinnati, and Bragg (by this point) is clearly heading  northward and not toward Nashville.  Buell’s letter reveals uncertainty and yet a desire to show that he is on top of things:

NASHVILLE, TENN., September 10, 1862 – 12 m.

Bragg is certainly this side of the Cumberland Mountains with his whole force, except what is in Kentucky under Smith. His movements will probably depend on mine. I except that for the want of supplies I can neither follow him nor remain here. Think I must withdraw from Tennessee. I shall not abandon Tennessee while it is possible to hold on. Cut off effectually from supplies, it is impossible for me to operate enforce where I am; but I shall endeavor to hold Nashville, and at the same time drive Smith out of Kentucky and hold my communications.


---Gen. Braxton Bragg writes his concern about the moral corruption of his army, in a letter to a friend.  He is also clearly defending his actions as a strict disciplinarian, for which he becomes notorious in future months:

No man in power can expect to do his duty and escape detraction. All mortals are fallible, and I have no doubt my errors are many and great.–With a conscientious conviction, however, that my course is right, I shall pursue it; and if at the end of this war, when our independence, is secured, an enlightened public judgment shall condemn me, after hearing the testimony of those who are now with me, gallantly and nobly defending their colors, as well as of those who have basely deserted to their homes to slander and revile their officers, in justification of their dishonor, I shall utter no murmur, but endeavor in silence to repent of my errors. In any event, I shall enjoy the consolation of having done something to prevent the moral degradation of our armies and our society. 

Had not the reformation of grog-shops, gambling-houses, &c., commenced by me at Pensacola and Mobile, been approved and enforced by the Government, we should now be a degraded and enslaved people. . . .

---U.S. Sec. of the Navy Gideon Welles cogitates over the generals who run the army, worried about McClellan’s well-known liabilities at this moment of crisis; he is likewise wary of Halleck’s lack of “edge,” revealing a keen appreciation of the political situation:

There are muttering denunciations on every side, and if McClellan fails to whip the Rebels in Maryland, the wrath and indignation against him and the Administration will be great and unrestrained. If he succeeds, there will be instant relief, and a willing disposition to excuse alleged errors which ought to be investigated.

General Halleck is nominally General-in-Chief and discharging many of the important functions of the War Department. I have as yet no intimacy with him and have seen but little of him. He has a scholarly intellect and, I suppose, some military acquirements, but his mind is heavy and irresolute. It appears to me he does not possess originality and that he has little real military talent. What he has is educational. He is here, and came from the West, the friend of Pope, and is in some degree indebted to Pope for his position. . . . Halleck, destitute of originality, bewildered by the conduct of McClellan and his generals, without military resources, could devise nothing and knew not what to advise or do after Pope’s discomfiture. He saw that the dissatisfied generals triumphed in Pope’s defeat, that Pope and the faction that Stanton controlled against McClellan were unequal to the task they were expected to perform. . . .

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