Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4, 1862

September 4, 1862: On this date, the first of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia crosses the Potomac River into Maryland, thus beginning the Confederacy’s first invasion of the North. Many Southerners are conflicted over this move, since they swore that the South only wanted to defend her own. Scouting reports from Union scouts along the Potomac report the passing of large numbers of Confederate troops under Gen. Longstreet through Leesburg, and that the scouts have "counted sixty pieces of artillery." Gen. D. H. Hill begins crossing his division over the Potomac into Maryland on this date, near Edwards Ferry and Balls Bluff.


—The Governor of Kentucky, James F. Robinson, is concerned about the Confederate invasion, and asks Gen. Horatio Wright to send troops to protect Frankfort, the capital of the state. But Wright replies that the "true principle" at this moment is Concentration: his priority is to gather as many troops together as possible to meet the Rebel armies.


The Cruise of the CSS Florida: Ever since being commissioned, the Florida has been finding refuge in Cuban ports, her crew being ravaged by the Yellow Fever, including her captain, John Newland Maffitt. To get help and more crew, on this date, Maffitt, nearly prostrate with fever himself, runs the Florida through a storm of Federal shot and shell and past the Yankee blockade into Mobile Bay, and is protected by the guns of Fort Gaines.
C.S.S. Florida

—The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes news about the battle at Manassas (Bull Run) with some errors as to McClellan’s involvement:
Battle of Manassas.

Triumph of our forces over the combined armies of McClellan and Pope.
Our information is such as to give encouragement to the hope that the sacred soil of Virginia will soon be rescued from the hands land divested of the polluting tread, of the Yankee invader. The great battle of Saturday last, fought on the memorable and classic ground of Manassas, resulted in the overthrow of the combined armies of the Federal Government, with a loss that is perhaps unequalled in the annals of the present war. We write without particulars; but the dispatches received by the President, and now given to the public, warrants the belief that our triumph is complete and glorious, and that the Confederate army is probably to-day within hauling distance of the Federal capital.

The first dispatch received yesterday morning represented that the enemy had made several attempts to break through our lines, which intercepted their retreat towards Alexandria, but were repulsed each time with heavy loss. No mention of the casualties on our side was made, except that Gens. Ewell and Trimble were badly wounded, but not mortally, and Gen. Taliaferro slightly wounded.--A large number of prisoners were said to have been captured by our troops. . . . Late in the afternoon, a dispatch was received by the President from Gen. Lee, conveying information which left no grounds to question the glorious success of our arms. This dispatch stated that on Thursday Gen. Jackson's corps repulsed Gen. Pope; Gen. Longstreet repulsed McClellan on Friday, and that on Saturday Gen. Lee attacked the combined forces of McClellan and Pope, utterly routing them with immense loss. Our army, it was stated, was still pursuing them, but in what direction we did not learn. . . .

—Gen. John Pope reports to the President, and reads his report to Pres. Lincoln and Sec. of the Navy Gideon Welles. Later that day, Lincoln meets with Stanton and other Cabinet members to review whether or not McClellan is the man to depend on. On this occasion, Secretary Welles notes in his journal:
When with the President this A.M., heard Pope read his statement of what had taken place in Virginia during the last few weeks, commencing at or before the battle of Cedar Mountain. It was not exactly a bulletin nor a report, but a manifesto, a narrative, tinged with wounded pride and a keen sense of injustice and wrong. The draft, he said, was rough. It certainly needs modifying before it goes out, or there will be war among the generals, who are now more ready to fight each other than the enemy. No one was present but the President, Pope, and myself.

—George Templeton Strong writes in his journal about the news that McClellan is restored to command:
It is certain now that the army has fallen back to its old burrows around Washington. It will probably hibernate there. So, after all this waste of life and money and material, we are at best where we were a year ago. McClellan is chief under Halleck. Many grumble at this, but whom can we find that is proved his superior? He is certainly as respectable as any of the mediocrities that make up our long muster roll of generals. The army believes in him, undoubtingly; that is a material fact. And I suppose him very eminently fitted for a campaign of redoubts and redans, though incapable of vigorous offensive operations.

—Stephen Minot Weld, an officer in the 18th Massachusetts Inf. Regiment, and clearly a McClellan partisan, has a somewhat different view of McClellan and the recent campaign:
Headquarters 5th Army Corps,
Camp at Hall’s Hill, Va., Sept. 4, 1862.

Dear Father, — We have at length, after fighting over a year, reached Washington, and are as badly off as we were a. year ago. Here we are encamped in the identical spot we were last March when we started off on our way to Richmond. And now what is this owing to? Simply to the interference of the Abolitionists and politicians with McClellan. They bothered him, and interfered with him until they compelled him to retreat from his near position to Richmond, and finally made him come up here, when he offered to take Richmond with 25,000 more men. He, however, pushed his troops on to Pope’s assistance with all the rapidity he could. . . .

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