Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25, 1863

January 25, 1863: In Washington, Burnside has been simmering overnight as Lincoln consults his cabinet and Gen. Halleck about Burnside's demand. Halleck is reluctant to relieve Burnside, and Lincoln is aware of Hooker's treasonous talk. But after Burnside had presented his list of officers to be sacked, he then submitted his resignation. Today, President Lincoln decides to accept it:
Numbers 20.

Washington, January 25, 1863.

I. The President of the United States had directed:
   1. That Major General A. E. Burnside, at this own request, be relieved from command of the Army of the potomac.
   2. That Major General E. V. Sumner, at his own request, be relieved from duty in the Army of the Potomac.
   3. That Major General W. B. Franklin be relieved from duty in the Army of the Potomac. 
   4. That Major General J. Hooker be assigned to the command of the Army of the Potomac.
II. The officers relieved as above will report in person to the Adjutant-General of the Army.

By order of the Secretary of War:
Assistant Adjutant-General.
Gen. Burnside, in his famous whiskers, is at least relieved of command at his request.

---Sec. of the Navy, Gideon Welles, writes in his journal concerning the appointment of Joseph Hooker as commander of the Army of the Potomac:
There is a change of commander of the Army of the Potomac. Burnside relinquishes to Hooker. I hope the change may be beneficial, but have apprehensions. The President asked me about the time of the Second Battle of Bull Run, when Pope was to leave and McClellan was out of favor: "Who can take command of this army? Who is there among all these generals?" The address to me was unexpected, and without much consideration I named Hooker. The President looked approvingly, but said, "I think as much as you or any other man of Hooker, but - I fear he gets excited," looking around as he spoke. Blair, who was present, said he is too great a friend of John Barleycorn.

—The state legislature of New Jersey has the task of filling an empty Senate seat until March, and they appoint—in an act of defiance toward the Lincoln government—James Walter Wall, who has just spent several weeks as a prisoner in Fort Lafayette because of activities pro-Confederate and treasonous. The Richmond Daily Dispatch gets wind of this event, and notes that the Democrats did this in spite of Mr. Wall’s protest that he did not want it.

—Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts and a delegation of abolition-minded folks from Boston call upon President Lincoln to admonish him on the subject of the Proclamation: it does not do enough.

—Col. Elisha Franklin Paxton, a Virginian serving in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, writes home to his wife, admonishing her on the subject of running their farm, and about his illness there in the army camp:
Camp Winder, January 25, 1863.

I spent yesterday in bed, and feel to-day like getting back into it. Whilst I have not lost any time from sickness since I last left home, I have been often unwell and compelled to lie in bed for a day or two. A few days’ quiet generally relieves me, but exposure and irregular living generally bring it on again. . . .

. . . If my work here is well done, it will occupy my whole time. I should like to fill my place here, so as to leave it with some credit to myself. To do this will leave me but little time for matters on the farm. So you must be housekeeper, overseer, man of all business, and everything. You may as well learn now, and if you will devote your mind to it you will have no trouble. With such assistance as you can get from Matt and your father, you will be able to get along very well.

When I was lying in bed I half wished that I might get sick, so that I might get home for a little while; but I think my disease is destined to take an unfavorable turn so as to deprive me of that pleasure and keep me in camp.

Give my love to little Matthew and Galla, and tell them I say they must be good boys and do everything you tell them. How I wish that I could be with you again! I hope the day may not be far distant. This hope is the last thing with which I wish to part. Now, darling, good-bye. Write often.

(Col. Paxton shortly gets his "wish" for his illness to turn worse, and soon is furloughed home for a number of weeks to recover.)

Harper’s Weekly, the most popular weekly paper in the North, does a story on some of the first black regiments: the 1st and 2nd Louisiana Native Guards, raised in New Orleans. Most of the men in these regiments were free mulattoes of the city, and they officered their own regiment with "black" officers, a practice that was not followed with the black regiments raised later in the war. But the educated and mostly middle-class officers of these two regiments were an exception to the rule:
It is now some five months since General Butler’s attention was called, by certain free colored men in New Orleans, to the fact that they held commissions from Governor Moore, of Louisiana, as duly enrolled officers of the Confederate army, and requesting to transfer their services to the United States. General Butler, with that keen perception for which he is so remarkable, at once saw the bearings of this important matter, granted the request of his applicants, and issued his order mustering the regiment into our service, under the command of Colonel (then Lieutenant-Colonel) Spencer H. Stafford, one of his aids-de-camp.

Although ready and anxious for a brush with the enemy, that opportunity has not yet been afforded them. . . .

"You see my men can work, Sir, though people say they can’t fight," said the Colonel, triumphantly. "We don’t trouble our heads much about transportation. Put me down in a forest with those same fellows, and I’ll build you a city; for I have every useful trade represented among them."

At this moment a Captain came up to the Colonel, saluted him very respectfully, and, after receiving his order, went off.

"I understood you, Colonel," said I, "that all your line officers were colored men: there goes one, at any rate, who is white." The Colonel turned to me with a sarcastic smile:

"And do you really think him white? Well you may, Sir; but that man is a ‘negro’—one who carries the so-called curse of African blood in his veins."

I was literally amazed. Often as my senses had been deceived in this matter, they never had been so completely before. This officer, Captain E. Davis, of Company A, was a fine-looking young man, not unlike General M’Clellan in mould of features, with light blue eyes, ruddy complexion, soft, silky hair, and a splendid mustache, of a sandy color, nearly approaching red. It would have defied the most consummate expert in Niggerology, by the aid of the most powerful microscope, to discover the one drop of African blood in that man’s veins. Still there it was upon the record against him.

Louisiana Native Guards Infantry disembarking on campaign in Louisiana


Line officers of the Louisiana Native Guards Regiments


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