Monday, September 3, 2012

September 3, 1862

September 3, 1862:  Gen. Robert E. Lee, eager to follow up his victories on the Peninsula and at Second Bull Run, writes to Pres. Davis, arguing for an invasion of the North---specifically of Maryland which, for most Southerners, is likely to turn Confederate with a little encouragement.  Now that Confederate troops occupy Fairfax, Dranesville, and Leesburg and thus control the key roads in northern Virginia, such a move is advantageous.  Lee writes:

MR. PRESIDENT: The present seems to be the most propitious time since the commencement of the war of the Confederate Army to enter Maryland. The two grand armies of the United States that have been operating in Virginia, though now united, are much weakened and demoralized. Their new levies, of which I understand 60,000 men have already been posted in Washington, are not yet organized, and will take some time to prepare for the field. If it is ever desired to give material aid to Maryland and afford her an opportunity of throwing off the oppression to which she is now subject, this would seem the most favorable.
    After the enemy had disappeared from the vicinity of Fairfax Court-House, and taken the road to Alexandria, and Washington, I did not think it would be advantageous to follow him farther. I had no intention of attacking him in his fortifications, and am not prepared to invest them. If I possessed the necessary munitions, I should be unable to supply provisions for the troops. I therefore determined, while threatening the approaches to Washington, to draw the troops into Loudoun, where forage and some provisions can be obtained, menace their possession of the Shenandoah Valley, and, if found practicable to cross into Maryland. . . .

    What occasions me most concern is the fear of getting out of ammunition. I beg you will instruct the Ordnance Department to spare no pains in manufacturing a sufficient amount of the best kind, and to be particular, in preparing that for the artillery, to provide three times as much of the long-range ammunition as of that for smooth-bore or short-range guns. The points to which I desire the ammunition to be forwarded will be made known to the Department in time. If the Quartermaster's Department can furnish any shoes, it would be the greatest relief. We have entered upon September, and the nights are becoming cool.
    I have the honor to be, with high respect, your obedient servant,

   R. E. LEE,
General Robert E. Lee, CSA
---Lee gives orders to Gen. Stonewall Jackson to put his corps in motion from Chantilly to Dranesville.  Within a few hours, Jackson’s troops are on the move.
Situation, Sept. 3, 1862, Virginia and Washington DC area
---Gen. Henry W. Halleck, commander of all U.S. armies, correctly guesses that Lee, certainly not foolish enough to attack Washington, will cross the Potomac upstream and invade Maryland.  Halleck gives direct orders to McClellan to immediately assemble a field army and have them provisioned and on the road in two days. 

---Col. Dixon Miles, the Federal commander of the garrison n at Harper’s Ferry, has ordered an evacuation of Winchester, Virginia, the main Federal base in the Shenandoah Valley.  Troops carry all the supplies they can and have come to Harper’s Ferry.  Miles has nearly 12,000 troops in Harper’s Ferry, and the addition of the Winchester evacuees brings it to 14,000.

---Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, considers the status of the Army and the war effort, and its head officers who are not suited to the exigencies of the day:

The army has no head. Halleck is here in the Department, a military director, not a general, a man of some scholastic attainments, but without soldierly capacity. McClellan is an intelligent engineer and officer, but not a commander to head a great army in the field. To attack or advance with energy and power is not in him; to fight is not his forte. I sometimes fear his heart is not earnest in the cause, yet I do not entertain the thought that he is unfaithful. The study of military operations interests and amuses him. It flatters him to have on his staff French princes and men of wealth and position; he likes show, parade, and power. Wishes to outgeneral the Rebels, but not to kill and destroy them. . . .

I cannot relieve my mind from the belief that to him, in a great degree, and to his example, influence, and conduct are to be attributed some portion of our late reverses, more than to any other person on cither side. His reluctance to move or have others move, his inactivity, his detention of Franklin, his omission to send forward supplies unless Pope would send a cavalry escort from the battle-field, and the tone of his conversation and dispatches, all show a moody state of feeling. The slight upon him and the generals associated with him, in the selection of Pope, was injudicious, impolitic, wrong perhaps, but is no justification for their withholding one tithe of strength in a great emergency, where the lives of their countrymen and the welfare of the country were in danger. . . .

---The U.S.S. A.B. Terry, an improvised gunboat, runs aground on Duck Shoals on the Tennessee River, and is captured by Rebel guerillas.  Among the prisoners are three free blacks, whom their captors immediately sell into slavery.

---A heated battle at Grieger’s Lake, Kentucky features 600 Rebel irregular cavalry under attack by a numerically inferior Federal force of cavalry under Col. Shackleford.  The Federals rout the Rebels, who re-form and counterattack.  After an extended firefight, the Federals are running out of ammunition, and so Shackleford leads a saber charge and drives the Rebels out again.
Prisoner excange cartel at Aiken Landing, Virginia

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