Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 1862

October 29, 1862: Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, on this date, sends two telegrams to Gen. John McClernand in Illinois, who is raising a new army that he intends to use to sidestep (or bypass) Gen. Grant in doing the important work of attacking Vicksburg and capturing the entire length of the Mississippi River. Apparently, Grant does not know about this activity that is going on behind his back–and behind General-in-Chief Halleck’s back. In these telegrams, Stanton urges McClernand: 
Every effort should be made to raise all the forces you can. You will see to getting as many cavalry regiments as possible. In respect to arms, do not suffer yourself to be misled by captious and trifling complaints as to their quality. We shall improve them as fast as possible. Additional funds for pay and bounty will be remitted to-morrow. Get the troops forward as fast as possible. Let every hour advance your work.
He sends another wire later in the day, and repeats some of the same things: 
I wish you to report as frequently as possible the progress that you are making in organizing and sending forward troops, specifying the number from each State.

Diligent attention should be given to providing yourself with cavalry. I have authorized, and will give fresh authority if needed, for raising any number of cavalry regiments. . . .

Artillery has already been forwarded to Cairo, and you may raise any number of artillery companies that you deem necessary. . . . You will apprise me of your wants, which shall be promptly supplied as far as may be in the power of the Department.
This kind of carte blanche is very unusual, and there appears to be no transparent reason for Stanton’s odd subterfuge or his tone of haste.
U.S. Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton


—Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell discovers he has been relieved of command—indeed, several days ago—on this date, by reading about it in the newspapers. Gen. Rosecrans still had not arrived to deliver Buell the orders. Gen. Halleck in Washington apparently never sent any orders to Buell, relying on Rosecrans, the new commander of the department, to show Buell the orders as he arrived. Buell is still in Louisville, even though his quarry, Bragg’s army, is already in East Tennessee, preparing to drive west into Middle Tennessee, and he is starting to put his army on the road south back to Nashville when he discovers he has been relieved of command. He sends this note to Gen. Halleck:
Louisville, Ky., October 29, 1862—11.30 a. m. H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief:
If, as the papers report, my successor has been appointed, it is important that I should know it, and that he should enter on the command immediately, as the troops are already in motion.

Gen. Buell is not re-assigned. He later requests a trial in which he is acquited, but not reinstated in the army.
Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, looking dubious

---Battle of Island Mound, Misouri: Under command of Brig. Gen. James Lane, detachments from the 5th Kansas Cavalry and the 1st Kansas Volunteers, a black regiment raised by Lane---which he formed in disregard of orders---engage in sporadic skirmishing over the previous three days with Confederate forces. Outnumbered, the Federals form a defensive position, fortified. As the Rebels attack repeatedly, the black troops drive them off every time. The Rebels set a prairie fire which flushed the Kansas men out, but as they fled, they turned suddenly and delivered a volley which broke up the Rebel mounted charge. The black troops had lost 4 killed and 12 wounded, but there were at least 30 Rebels killed, and an unknown number wounded. Black troops won their first victory against the Rebels, and a newspaper in Lawrence praised the battle as proving "that black men can fight."

—Major Alexander Biddle, of the 121st Reg. of Pennsylvania Vol. Infantry, writes home to his wife Julia, thanking her for the food treats she has sent to add a little variety to his diet—and also hinting at things she might yet send:

We are at Berlin with orders to march at short notice. We expected to march last night, this morning and think we shall certainly go over the river tomorrow at the farthest. Your box dearest came by Mr. Rasin with the tea &c. You need not send me crackers – the condensed beef I have not tried I think it may be good on the march but I like to have it by me. Alick’s chestnuts were very acceptable to the Field Staff and his papa. I do not think any boxes can reach me for some time to come but the best method to send me anything is by Mr. Rasin. A pine apple cheese may also do very well – any dried preserved fruits are pleasant "bonnĂ©s bouches" to soldiers.

Your chocolate is delightful. A piece of it was my supper in last Sunday night’s rain. A piece of good dried beef is a very good thing too. And the tea you sent just supplied our chest.

Your kindness love has been a great help to me.

You do indeed follow me with your influence wherever I go and always to promote my happiness saving that I cannot be with you. . . .

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