Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January 7, 1863

January 7, 1863: Although Brig. Gen. James Blunt of the Union forces had advanced south and nearly bagged Hindman and his Rebels at Van Buren, and thus cut off Fort Smith from its line of supply via the river to Little Rock, he had done so against the orders of Maj. Gen. John Schofield, commander of the military department. Schofield came to Arkansas soon after the New Year, and sacked Blunt and put him under arrest.

In the meantime, Gen. Thomas Hindman in central Arkansas sends two columns of cavalry northward, winding through the Ozarks. Gen. John Marmaduke commands both columns, one of which is Joseph Shelby’s brigade, and the other a lone regiment of abou 300 men, under Col. Emmet McDonald. In the early morning hours of this date, McDonald attacks Fort Lawrence and routs the Federal defenders, many of whom ride hard westward to the nearest Union garrison at Ozark, Missouri. They arrive near dusk, and Marmaduke still has not shown up yet with Shelby’s troopers. The Yankees evacuate Ozark and head for the Union fortifications surrounding the town of Springfield, Missouri. All Federal troops in the area are gathered into the town, numbering about 1,500 men, commanded by Brig. Gen. Egbert Brown. The Rebels, about 1,600 strong, under Gen. Marmaduke, approach from the south—but the Yankees get reports that 6,000 Rebels are descending upon them.


—President Jefferson Davis returns home to Richmond after his extended tour amongst the armies and posts in the Western Theater.


—Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, issues this letter of congratulations to his entire army for the victory at Fredericksburg:

Headq’rs Army of Northern Virginia, December 31, 1863,
General Orders, No. 132.

The General Commanding taken this occasion to express to the officers and soldiers of the army his high appreciation of the fortitude, valor, and devotion displayed by them, which, under the blessing of Almighty God, have added the victory of Fredericksburg to the long list of their triumphs.

An arduous march, performed with celerity under many disadvantages, exhibited the discipline and spirit of the troops, and their eagerness to confront the foe.
The immense army of the enemy completed its preparations for the attack without interruption and gave battle in its own time, and on ground of its own selection.

It was encountered by less than twenty thousand of this brave army, and its columns crushed and broken, hurled back at every point with such fearful slaughter that escape from entire destruction became the boast of those who had advanced in full confidence of victory.

That this great result was achieved with a loss small in point of numbers, only augments the admiration with which the Commanding General regards the prowess of the troops, and increases his gratitude to him who hath given us the victory.

The war is not yet ended. The enemy is still numerous and strong, and the country demands of the army a renewal of its heroic efforts in he behalf. Nobly has if responded to her call in the past, and she will never appeal in vain to its courage and patriotism.

The signal manifestations of Divine mercy that have distinguished the eventful and glorious campaign of the year just closing; give assurance of hope that under the guidance of the same Almighty band the coming year will be no less fruitful of events that will ensure the safety, peace, and happiness of our beloved country, and add now insure to the already imperishable name of the Army of Northern Virginia.

R. E. Lee, General.

---In answer to a letter from Gen. John McClernand, who suggested that certain Southern leaders would welcome a chance to come back into the Old Union if Lincoln would only retract the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln writes to his old friend, the general, and very clearly explains why he can never retract the freeing of the slaves:
My dear Sir

Your interesting communication by the hand of Major Scates is received. I never did ask more, nor ever was willing to accept less, than for all the States, and the people thereof, to take and hold their places, and their rights, in the Union, under the Constitution of the United States. For this alone have I felt authorized to struggle; and I seek neither more nor less now. Still, to use a coarse, but an expressive figure, broken eggs can not be mended. I have issued the emancipation proclamation, and I can not retract it.

After the commencement of hostilities I struggled nearly a year and a half to get along without touching the "institution''; and when finally I conditionally determined to touch it, I gave a hundred days fair notice of my purpose, to all the States and people, within which time they could have turned it wholly aside. . . .

As to any dread of my having a ``purpose to enslave, or exterminate, the whites of the South,'' I can scarcely believe that such dread exists. It is too absurd. I believe you can be my personal witness that no man is less to be dreaded for undue severity, in any case. . . .

—A Northern woman volunteering at a military hospital writes in her journal of this humorous vignette:
The other day Miss — was washing a boy’s face very gently. "Oh!" said he, "that reminds me of home—" (Miss — highly gratified); "that’s like my sister; she often did that for me. My eyes! wasn’t she a rough one! She’d take off dirt, and skin too, but she’d get the dirt off."

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