Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 29, 1863

January 29, 1863:  Battle of Bear River (or Bear River Massacre):  Near the border of the Washington Territory and the Utah Territory, Col. Patrick Edward Conner and a force just over 300 volunteer troops from California, based at Salt Lake City, fight a desperate battle with a large force of Shoshone warriors along the Bear River.  Connor had with him four troops of the 2nd California Cavalry and one company of the 3rd California Infantry.  Out of his 300 men, he loses 21 dead and 46 wounded---very heavy losses---but manages to drive the Shoshone, who were reported “in full retreat, but very few of them escaped.”  Connor reports that he counted 240 slain Shoshone on the field, along with a number of dead squaws and papooses.  A large number of the troops also suffered frostbite, frozen fingers, and hypothermia: Conner reports that 75 suffered from frozen feet, and “some of them I fear will be crippled for life.”  There were 160 captive squaws and children, whom Connor released with a little wheat.  Danish immigrant Hans Jasperson, who liked nearby, reported a much smaller number of released women and children, and counted 493 dead Shoshone on the field.  The local Mormon bishop sends a few militiamen to the battle site, where they discover a number of wounded women and children, and bring them back to Franklin town, where they are nursed.  Porter Rockwell and the Mormons find sleds and sleighs with teams to haul the wounded and dead soldiers back to Salt Lake City, saving their lives.  Floundering in the snow, the soldiers are fed and sheltered by the Mormons on the return trip, for which Col. Conner never forgave the Mormons, whom he loathed.

---A very Democrat newspaper in Seneca County, New York, publishes this editorial in a tirade against Lincoln’s government and the way they handled Burnside’s resignation and the firing of Franklin and others:

It has been given out that the Army of the Potomac is to be destroyed. The conduct of the Administration toward the gallant army has tended to its demoralization, and it will be impossible much longer to conceal the real purpose of the partisan maneuverers, who have disposed of its destinies from their closets at Washington aiming to destroy the Army of the Potomac?

The people have no longer any confidence in the Administration, nor the Administration in the army, nor the army in its commanders. The shameful malpractices of the President and his cabinet have disgusted the country, and crippled the national credit. The army in the field is fast diminishing by desertion, disease and slaughter; and it is morally impossible, in the present condition of things, to augment the thinned out ranks by a single recruit. Nothing but disaster stares us in the face. After almost two years of desperate conflict, we find ourselves financially bankrupt, with the flower of our manhood, mercilessly sacrigced [sacrificed] and not a single substantial result achieved.

---The Princess Royal, a British steamer running the blockade, was captured just off of Charleston Harbor by the U.S. Navy.  The Princess was carrying a cargo of steam engines, rifled cannon, rifle muskets, and ammunition.

--- Capt. William Jefferson Halsey, a company commander in the 11th New Jersey Infantry, writes home to his wife about the worsening conditions for the Federal troops still stuck in the places where the “Mud March’ bogged down to a halt in Virginia:

It has rained and snowed since yesterday morning and it is very muddy so that we cannot do anything.  It is very unpleasant.  If you have sent me a box I am afraid that it will not get here until everything spoils as the rail road from Aquia Creek has so much to do to keep us in provisions that they will not cary boxes and the roads are so bad that the Quarter Master will not send the teams after them. . . . I weigh 165 lbs, am rugged as a bear, all but my teeth.  They bother me some. . . .

---Horatio Nelson Taft of Washington, DC writes in his journal about the furor in the Senate over the question of raising Negro troops:

A little excitement in the Senate for the past day or two. A motion to expel Senator Saulsbury of Delaware for disorderly conduct on the floor was postponed today upon his making an apology. The Bill in the House to authorize the raising of Negro Regiments for the War creates much excitement there and the House did not adjourn yesterday, but sat all night and adjourned this morning without coming to a vote upon the question.

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