Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 8, 1862

November 8, 1862: Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, of Rhode Island, takes official command of the Army of the Potomac on this date, as this army’s third commander.
Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, USA, and his famous namesake whiskers
Gen. Burnside Relieves Gen. McClellan of Command

—On this date, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler, the hated commandant of occupying Union forces in New Orleans, and military governor of southern Louisiana, is relieved of his command—or rather, the orders are drafted and given. It will take some time for his replacement, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks, to arrive and deliver those orders. Butler has engaged in all kinds of sketchy projects, including confiscation of citizens’ property, forcing all citizens to swear allegiance to the U.S. (and jailing those who did not), levying steep taxes on the rich, and executing men who had desecrated the U.S. flag. He also closed down Episcopal Churches, which refused to include Pres. Lincoln in their prayers and engaged in secessionist activity; such churches claimed to be operating under the instructions of their Bishop—who happened to be Maj. Gen. Leonidas Polk of the Confederate Army. Butler had been skimming profits from the sale of confiscated property of Rebels, including siezed cotton. He arranged for ships that carried his goods to be let through the blockade so that he could make a fortune selling salt to the Confederate Army. He controlled all aspects of smuggling in the region, especially in liquor. 
Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler, USA

—George Grenville Benedict, of the 12th Vermont Infantry, writes home to his hometown newspapers about a soldier’s efforts to stay warm in an unseasonably early snowstorm in Virginia, by an ingenious attempt at a makeshift "stove":

. . . Something had to be done; our toes and fingers and noses were cold; our straw and blankets were damp. We must have a fire; how to get it was something of a question. Our sole supply of metal was in our dinner furniture before us. The problem was,—given a table knife and fork, a tin cup and a tin plate, to extemporize therewith a stove, pipe and chimney. But we set to work, and Mr. Ericsson himself could not have done more with the same material. With the knife and cup we excavated a hole in the firm and adhesive clay which forms the floor of our tent; at the top the hole was a little less in circumference than our tin plate; its bottom, a foot or more below the surface, was somewhat larger. A hole was then dug outside the tent, sloping inward till it nearly met our excavation inside, and the bottoms of the two were connected by a passage two inches in diameter, worked through with the knife. From the top of our circular cavity within, a trench was made extending outside the tent, and covered by a brickbat, which turned up opportunely when most needed. The tin plate was placed over the hole, and the thing was done. You perceive the nature of the invention. This planet on which we dwell forms the body of our stove. The tin plate is both door and top of the same. The small hole at the bottom is the draught; the trench at the top is the flue. We fill it with hard wood chips, light a fire, and it works quite as well as could be expected.
The heating surface was pretty small, it is true; but we kept the old plate red hot by assiduous feeding. In an hour or two the ground around began to be sensibly warmed. A dry spot developed itself, as soon as the snow stopped falling, in the canvas of our tent over the stove, and extended slowly along the side. The temperature rose sensibly within;—and when by a fortunate stroke of policy we were enabled to substitute a sheet iron mess pan for our dinner plate, thus quadrupling our heating surface, we had all the heat we needed. We can no longer see our breath within our linen house. We laid our bread on the top of our stove and had hot toast with our tea for supper; and the prospects are that we shall sleep warm and dry to-night.

—Gen. Grant’s army approaches Holly Springs, Mississippi, and the Rebel garrison abandons the city to the Yankees.

—The merchant steamer T.B. Wales is captured by the CSS Alabama and burned at sea.

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