Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30, 1862

Northern Virginia, Oct. 30, 1862
October 30, 1862: Although Gen. McClellan began crossing the Army of the Potomac across the river that it was named for, still—four days later—no more than half of the army has crossed. He asks Gen. Halleck for more troops, and Halleck replies that he has no more troops for McClellan. McClellan then warns Gov. Curtin of Pennsylvania that he does not have sufficient troops to guard Pennsylvania from attack because Washington will not send the troops. He also discovers about this time that the Army is forming the new troops into new regiments rather than using them to put in veteran regiments. He writes home to Mrs. McClellan:
I have just been put in excellent humor by seeing that instead of sending the drafted men to fill the old rgts (as had been promised me) they are forming them into new rgts. Also that in the face of the great want of cavalry… they are sending the new cavalry rgts from Penna to Louisville instead of hither!! Blind & foolish they will continue to the end.

—On this date, the U.S. Navy offers a $500,000.00 reward for the capture of the CSS Alabama, or $300,000.00 for its destruction. Apparently, the Confederate commerce raider has become a big enough problem that the Navy needs to offer more motivation to its sea commanders.

—Sec. of War Stanton sends directives to the governors of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to begin sending newly-raised regiments to Gen. McClernand, rather than to Gen. Grant.

—On this date, Napoleon III, Emperor of France, proposes to Great Britain and Russia that the three nations intervene in the American Civil War and bring about a brokered peace—one that would provide favorable outcomes and privileges to the brokering nations, of course, since Napoleon was interested in establishing more French "opportunities" in Central America. The British and the Russians eventually reject Napoleon’s overtures, however.

Emperor Napoleon III of France

Harper’s Weekly, once an anti-Republican paper, but now a firmly pro-Republican paper, publishes a pair of cartoons as commentary on the upcoming elections in one week: they attack the "Seymour Party"—the New York Democrats who favor peace with the South at any price, and which will in future months become the core of Copperhead movement in the North. The cartoons lampoon the Peace Democrats’ approach to the war, of their prevarications about Union, and their sympathy and percieved loyalty to the South. (Seymour is shown as kissing the foot of The South):

What the Seymour Party Say
What the Seymour Party Do

—Gen. Robert E. Lee has formally divided the Army of Nothern Virginia into two corps–the 1st, under Gen. Longstreet, and the 2nd, under Gen. Jackson.

—John Beauchamp Jones, a clerk in the Confederate War Department, writes in his journal of the rumors that constantly fly around the Department:

But we have good news from England—if it be true. The New York Express says Lord Lyons is instructed by England, and perhaps on the part of France and other powers, to demand of the United States an armistice; and in the event of its not being acceded to, the governments will recognize our independence. One of the President’s personal attendants told me this news was regarded as authentic by our government. I don’t regard it so.

---George Templeton Strong, of New York City, writes in his journal about prospects for the war and prospects for the mid-term elections, where the mayoral seat for the city and the governorship of the state of New York are up for grabs, which could have crucial consequences for the Lincoln administration—not to mention the probability that New York’s congressional delegation would become strongly Democratic, due to increasing sympathy for the South and discontent with the stunted Union efforts toward victory. He also notes the ill effect of arresting Southern sympathizers and critics of the war without a writ of habeas corpus:
Private advices from the War Department are that the Virginia rebels are greatly reinforced and that McClellan is to wait a little longer. Alas for next Tuesday’s election! There is danger—great and pressing danger—of a disaster more telling than all our Bull Run battles and Peninsular strategy: the resurrection to political life and power of the Woods, Barlows, LaRocques, and Belmonts [leading Copperheads in New York], who have been dead and buried and working only underground, if at all, for eighteen months, and every one of them well deserves hanging as an ally of the rebellion. It would be a fearful national calamity. If it come, it will be due not so much to the Emancipation Manifesto as to the irregular arrests the government has been making. They have been used against the Administration with most damaging effect, and no wonder. They have been utterly arbitrary, and could be excused only because demanded by the pressure of an unprecedented national crisis; because necessary in a case of national life or death that justified any measure, however extreme. But not one of the many hundreds illegally arrested and locked up for months has been publicly charged with any crime or brought to the notice of a Grand Jury. They have all been capriciously arrested, so far as we can see, and some have been capriciously discharged; locked up for months without legal authority and let out without legal acquittal. All this is very bad—imbecile, dangerous, unjustifiable. It gives traitors and Seymourites an apology for opposing the government and helping South Carolina that it is hard to answer. I know it is claimed that these arrests are legal, and perhaps they are. . . . There go drums through the street. It’s a Democratic procession (democratic!) with torches, parading dirty James Brooks’s name on a dirty banner. I met this, or its brother, marching down Fifth Avenue on my way to Agnew’s, and felt as if a Southern Army had got into New York. . . .

---Private George Grenville Benedict, of the 12th Vermont Infantry Regiment, writes another letter he intends to publish in the Burlington Free Press, his hometown newspaper: this one is a humorous look at the constant work of a soldier who is ambitious to improve his comfort in camp. It also concerns the constant flux of army life and the total unreliability of said soldier’s expectations: "Change sweepeth over all," sang the plaintive Motherwell, and we find the line to have as much truth as poetry in the army. Yesterday at this time every man in the Second Vermont brigade thought we were good for a stay of some weeks on East Capitol Hill. . . . It was reasonable to suppose that some time for drill in battalion and brigade evolutions would be granted before sending us forward. . . . Some troops would of course be left there, and we must be the ones. So reasoned officers and men, and the conclusion was easily reached that we should stay where we were for the present. In this conviction the men of the Twelfth began making themselves more comfortable in camp. Lumber was procured at $25 a thousand and upwards. Our little A tents, in which we enacted the daily and nightly miracle of stowing six men, with six muskets and about as much harness as is allotted to so many horses in a well arranged stable, together with bedding, crockery and tinware and goods and chattels all and sundry, belonging to said family of six, in a tent seven feet square on the ground and tapering in a wedge to the height of six or six and one-half feet,—these little tents were elevated on sides built up of boards, by which their original capacity was almost doubled and the comfort of the occupants at least trebled. Shelves were rigged, pegs put in to hang guns and trappings on, floors laid, and various little contrivances to enhance order and cleanliness added. With what satisfaction we looked at our new structures! How we enjoyed a residence in which we could stretch our arms at length above our heads, and sit around the sides without doubling together like so many jack-knives! With what complacency did we think of our own thrift, and look forward to days and weeks of such comparative luxury! Alas for the folly of human expectations! With nightfall came the order to move into Virginia, and here we are to-night, five miles the other side of the Potomac, our new acquisitions left far behind us, and not a saw-mill or lumber yard this side of Washington or Richmond, so far as we know. They may talk of the sorrow of leaving the ancestral roof-tree, the hearth around which boyhood’s days were spent and youth’s and manhood’s memories clustered; —that can be described; but the pangs with which we left our wooden walls and floors, are indescribable. But such is life in the army.

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