Thursday, January 3, 2013

January 3, 1863

January 3, 1863:  Murfreesboro, Tennessee – Gen. Bragg, being convinced that Rosecrans had on hand huge reserves to crush him with, finally decides to disengage and retreat.  Although the reinforcements so far amount to one lone brigade, it is accompanied by a huge wagon train of food and supplies, and Bragg’s army is destitute.  The Confederates retreat southeastward until they reach Tullahoma, where Bragg decides to establish winter quarters.  Part of the reason for the retreat is the earnest counsel of his subordinate generals, including Gen. Polk and these two division commanders:
HEADQUARTERS IN THE FIELD, Murfreesborough, Tenn., January 3, 1863-12.15 a. m.
General BRAGG, Commanding, &c.:
GENERAL: We deem it our duty to say to you frankly that, in our judgment, this army should be promptly put in retreat. You have but three brigades [divisions*] that are at all reliable, and even some of these are more or less demoralized from having some brigade commanders who do not possess the confidence of their commands. Such is our opinion, and we deem it a solemn duty to express to it you. We do fear great disaster from the condition of things now existing, and think it should be averted if possible.
Very respectfully, general, your obedient servant,

Major-General, C. S. Army.

---On December 30, George Templeton Strong wrote about the impending Emancipation Proclamation in his journal:
There is a report of nineteen colored chattels hanged in Charleston.  If true, the presumption is that this large amount of property was thus sacrificed because it exhibited symptoms of contumacy and insubordination, produced by the expected proclamation of January first---day after tomorrow!!!  A critical day that will be.  Will Lincoln’s backbone carry him through the work he is pledged them to do?  It is generally supposed that he intends to redeem his pledge, but nobody knows, and I am not sanguine on the subject.  If he come out fair and square, he will do the “biggest thing” an Illinois jury-lawyer has ever had a chance of doing, and take high place among the men who have controlled the destinies of nations.  If he postpone or dilute his action, his name will be a byword and a hissing till the annals of the nineteenth century are forgotten.
On this date, Strong writes this follow up note:
The President has signed the bill admitting “West Virginia” as a state.  And be it remembered, with gratitude to the Author of all Good, that on January 1st the Emancipation Proclamation was duly issued.  The nation may be sick unto speedy death and past help from this and any other remedy, but if it is, its last great act is one of repentance and restitution. . . .
---The New York Times publishes this editorial response to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, revealing a wide distrust of abolitionism in general, still strong in the North---as well as a surprising lack of awareness of African-Americans’ desire to fight:
President LINCOLN’S proclamation, which we publish this morning, marks an era in the history, not only of this war, but of this country and the world. It is not necessary to assume that it will set free instantly the enslaved blacks of the South, in order to ascribe to it the greatest and most permanent importance. Whatever may be its immediate results, it changes entirely the relations of the National Government to the institution of Slavery. Hitherto Slavery has been under the protection of the Government; henceforth it is under its ban. . . . This change of attitude is itself a revolution.

President LINCOLN takes care, by great precision in his language, to define the basis on which this action rests. He issues the Proclamation "as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing the rebellion." While he sincerely believes it to be an "act of justice warranted by the Constitution," he issues it "upon military necessity." In our judgment it is only upon that ground and for that purpose that he has any right to issue it at all. In his civil capacity as President, he has not the faintest shadow of authority to decree the emancipation of a single slave, either as an "act of justice" or for any other purpose whatever. . . .

What effect the Proclamation will have remains to be seen. We do not think that it will at once set free any considerable number of slaves beyond the actual and effective jurisdiction of our armies. It will lead to no immediate insurrections, and involve no massacres, except such as the rebels in the blindness of their wrath may themselves set on foot. The slaves have no arms, are without organization, and in dread of the armed and watchful whites. Besides, they evince no disposition to fight for themselves so long as they see that we are fighting for them. . . . Whenever our armies reach their immediate vicinity, they will doubtless assert their freedom, and call upon us to "recognize and maintain" it. Until then, they will work for their masters and wait for deliverance.
---Gen. McClernand, having arrived at Miliken’s Bend, the Union base near Vicksburg, now takes command of the troops he raised and, on Sherman’s suggestion, moves against Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post, just a little ways west on the Arkansas River, since the fort threatened the supply line of Union troops operating in the Yazoo-Vicksburg area.  McClernand’s force sets off on this date.  Problem: neither he nor Sherman have informed Grant, who is commander in that theater.

---Major Alexander Biddle, of the 121st Pennsylvania Infantry, writes home to his children about having to miss New Years with them:
Dear Children
Papa sends happy New Year to Aleck Harry Julia and Winny – Papa wished very much to go home on New Year’s day to have a New Year’s dinner with Mama Uncle and his dear children with Uncle Clem but Papa had to stay with his Regiment and take care of the soldiers who do not take good care of themselves – Papa has to see that they dress betimes and are cleanly in all that they do so that they will always be well and ready to march at a moment’s warning.
---Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles notes with sorrow in his journal of the loss of the USS Monitor at sea:
A word by telegraph that the Monitor has foundered and over twenty of her crew, including some officers, are lost. The fate of this vessel affects me in other respects. She is a primary representative of a class identified with my administration of the Navy. Her novel construction and qualities I adopted and she was built amidst obloquy and ridicule. Such a change in the character of a fighting vessel few naval men, or any Secretary under their influence, would have taken the responsibility of adopting. But Admiral Smith and finally all the Board which I appointed seconded my views, and were willing, Davis somewhat reluctantly, to recommend the experiment if I would assume the risk and responsibility. Her success with the Merrimac directly after she went into commission relieved me of odium and anxiety, and men who were preparing to ridicule were left to admire.
USS Monitor and crew on deck
---Confederate War Department clerk John Beauchamp Jones writes in his journal:
A large meeting has been held in New York, passing resolutions in favor of peace. They propose that New Jersey send a delegation hither to induce us to meet the United States in convention at Louisville, to adopt definitive terms of peace, on the basis of the old Union, or, that being impracticable, separation. Too late!

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