Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10, 1862

December 10, 1862: The town of Plymouth, North Carolina, under Federal control, is attacked by Rebel forces, and the garrison driven out. The Rebels burn part of the town, and attack the USS Southfield, a Navy gunboat anchored in the river, but the ship escapes with little damage.

—An editorial in the Richmond Daily Dispatch addresses the lamentable state of supply for Lee’s army, especially in regard to shoes:
Lieut. Carpenter, of Hay’s brigade, Louisiana volunteers who arrived in this city on official business on Monday evening last, reports that a large number of the faithful and tried soldiers of Gen. Jackson’s corps are yet without shoes, and their feet exposed to the severe cold of the past three days. That the Government is doing what it is for the comfort of its soldiers we have no reason to doubt, and that in a short time it will be able to relieve the wants of these gallant men we have good reason to believe; but how much more quickly on the desirable object be accomplished with the co-operation of the people.

—Young Capt. William Thompson Lusk, of the 57th New York Infantry, reveals to his mother in a letter home his apprehensions of a battle:
The indications promise the great battle of the war — possibly an Austerlitz for the enemy — we hope a Waterloo for us. I have heretofore, sheltered by the prayers of mother and sisters, been singularly exempt from the accidents of war. The same Power that has already shown so much tenderness, has still the power to spare. But if in His wisdom it seemeth best this time to take my life, then, my dear mother, recognize in it only the Hand of the Inevitable. If my dying hours were only crowned by the certainty of victory, I could then close my eyes in peace. And in the great joy of the Nation, all individual griefs were selfish. So that I would have my mother’s heart beat high, and be proud to have contributed a part of its own life’s blood to the glorious consummation. With my whole heart I am eager for our success. Should I not see it with my earthly eyes, still let my mother rejoice for me, when all once more is well. But I am not given to entertaining forebodings. It is enough to do one’s duty and let Providence provide.

—Lieut. Josiah Marshall Favill, a young Englishman volunteer in the Union army, and serving with the 57th New York Infantry with the Army of the Potomac, writes in his journal of the army’s preparations for an attack on Fredericksburg:
December 10, 1862. All doubts as to a movement were set at rest by the receipt this morning, of orders to prepare three days’ cooked rations, and issue ninety rounds of ammunition. The troops are notified to leave their camp equipage and extra clothing behind, and hold themselves in readiness to move at a moment’s notice. As soon as the instructions were given to the regimental commanders, Colonel Zook and I rode over to Hancock’s headquarters to find out more about the matter. Mitchell tells us Burnside has definitely settled upon the plan of a general attack in front, and that arrangements are going on to enable the troops to cross at daybreak tomorrow morning. Two pontoon bridges are to be thrown across the river a little north of the Lacy house, and two more below the railroad bridge, and we are to furnish the infantry to protect the engineers at the two upper bridges; the colonel selected the Fifty-seventh under Chapman, and Sixty-sixth, Lieutenant-Colonel Bull, and all preparations were made for carrying out the instructions we received; spent the rest of the evening chatting together of the task before us, but in view of our early movement in the morning, soon turned in and went to sleep.

—By a vote of 96 to 55, the U.S. House of Representatives votes to create a new state of West Virginia. A previous measure had been defeated in the Senate.

—As dusk decsends on Fredericksburg, Virginia, Union army engineer battalionss move down off the heights of Falmouth and begin building the pontoon bridges the Army of the Potomac will need to cross the Rappahannock River.

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