Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14, 1863

January 14, 1863: Battle of Bayou Teche (Corney’s Bridge_, Louisiana – Gen. Godfrey Weitzel, in a campaign to gain Federal control over the winding bayou country, proceeds up this waterway with a flotilla of gunboats under Commodore A.J. Buchanan—the Calhoun, Kinsman, Diana, and Estrella. The gunboats encounter formidable obstructions placed by the Rebels, including torpedoes, near this bridge. The Confederate ironclad steamer, the J.A. Cotton, comes steaming down to meet the Yankees. A lively artillery duel between the Federal ships and the Cotton and Rebel land batteries heats up. After doing battle with the Union gunboats and with land batteries, the Cotton retires back upstream. She reappears twice more, but the effect of Federal fire has damaged her badly. Meanwhile, the Union infantry attack the Rebel positions and finally prevail. The J.A. Cotton ends up destroyed.

—The New York Times publishes an editorial against the Governor of Kentucky, James F. Robinson, who came out with a public statement against Emancipation Proclamatio. The Times wonders how Kentucky can oppose Emancipation and yet still consider itself a loyal state:
What means this terrible eruption of wrath from the Kentucky Governor against the Presiden’s Proclamation? What are we to make of the constant fulminations of the Kentucky senators and Representatives at Washington against the Executive policy? How happens it that of the three slaveholding Border States, Maryland, Missouri and Kentucky, the last alone should be kindled into rage? Missouri, five years ago, was as extreme in its devotion to Slavery as South Carolina itself, and even more furious. Its slave population, in the decade between 1850 and 1860, increased thirty-one and a half per cent., while that of Kentucky increased less than seven per cent. And yet we find Missouri promptly and cordially endorcing the emancipation propositions of the President, by a large majority of its popular vote. We see, too, the leading men of Maryland, and the ablest portion of its Press, taking the same bold stand; and there is no longer a question that the State will, not long hence, concur formally in the plan of compensated emancipation. . . .
Kentucky is every whit as loyal as either of the other two States. It has had more men in active military service for the Union than either of them — no less than forty-one regiments; and no National troops have fought with greater gallantry, as Shiloh and Donelson and Murfreesboro can well testify. The Kentucky Generals Anderson, Rousseau, Crittenden, Nelson, Boyle and others have done deeds for the old flag that will ever live in history. . . .
The extinction of Slavery in Kentucky is simply a question of manner and time. Could the discussion once be fairly started among the people of the State, we are confident that the decision would be, as in Missouri and Maryland, that the compensating scheme of the President is the right manner, and now the appropriate time. But if the State chooses to shirk the subject, until her slaves become a profitless burden, without marketable value, she certainly should be allowed the privilege, without molestation. Of course if she resists until then, she will not expect help from the Government. . . .

—Charles Lockhart Pettigrew of North Carolina, has traveled too Winston to check on his plantation, where he finds much amiss. Most of the plantations in the area are suffering from the shortage of food crops, the devaluation of currency, and the blockade’s effect on the cotton trade:
It is a fortunate thing you did not come in with me. The whole country is full of all sorts of diseases, and you would have run great risk. Today as the cars passed there was a woman coverd with the smallpox. I trust I will not take it. Sixty cases are reported at Goldsboro and every little town has it on the railroad. I am a good deal troubled by all things around me. The cars are full to overflowing, and there is but little chance for me to get the negroes on to S.C. My own dearest wife, I know you need me badly where you are but what is to be done! My team are unable to pull the waggons. There is nothing [?] there is no trust in the promises of people. We are in the hands of a great and good God. I saw brother William and Annie at Mocksville, where he is hire-ing his negroes out per the year. We are all in a bad way. I saw a man from Scuppernong. He says the neighbors send no word to come home and I can save every house and furniture from destruction by taking the oath of allegiance to the Lincoln government. If I am not at home by the 18 the work of destruction will commence. It is a hard case, but I cannot return. I must turn to the future. I hope better things will be reserved to us. I cannot say when I shall be able to turn my face to S.C. I so long for peace and quiet. I do not feel well this evening, and it makes me a little low down. I hope you and all the children are well, and would be so glad to get a letter from you this evening. Love to Mary. Kiss the children for me (the pony is very nearly starved into death). Believe me always your loving husband

—Julia LeGrand of New Orleans responds to Gen. Nathaniel Banks (now the U.S. commandant of occupied New Orleans) and his new order regulating the way that the local citizens must treat Union soldiers:

An order of Banks’ today enjoins on all of us a most respectful treatment of Federal soldiers; parents are to be held responsible for the behavior of the children. I had no idea rulers could descend to such trifles, for my part I consider it beneath me to treat anyone with rudeness, least of all would I treat with indignity these wretched privates who have been induced to leave their homes by thousands of pretenses, and are uncomfortable and miserable enough without our jeers. They [Yankees] all have a serious, heavy-hearted aspect; men fighting for home and fireside feel differently; our Confederate knights have at least this consolation to support them under all their trials. The wind blew a perfect hurricane all day; I thought of the poor soldiers at sea.

—Sergeant Alexander P. Downing, of the 11th Iowa Infantry Regiment, writes in his journal of the miseries of a soldier on bivouac in the winter:
Wednesday, 14th —It rained all night and much of the day. Our tents failed to turn the water, as the strong wind blowing literally drove the rain through the canvas, making it as wet where we lay as on the outside. There is no hay or straw to lie on at night and no lumber to be had for floors, but the quartermaster is providing us with plenty of cordwood, and having the Sibley tents we build fires in the center of them to warm ourselves and dry our clothes. A great many of the boys got permission to go down town to spend the night.

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