Friday, February 1, 2013

February 1, 1863

February 1, 1863 

Gen. John McClernand, having been put in his place by General Ulysses S. Grant, protests in high dudgeon at having been relegated to mere corp command—in fact, having his two corps, the XIII and the XV, reduced to his command of only one corps, the XIII. He writes to Grant, bent on seeking redress from the War Department (and from the President):

HEADQUARTERS THIRTEENTH ARMY CORPS, Before Vicksburg, February 1, 1863.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
Commanding Department of the Tennessee:

GENERAL: Your dispatch of this date, in answer to mine of yesterday, is received. You announce it to be the intention of General Orders, Number 13, to relieve me from the command of the Mississippi River expedition, and to circumscribe my command to the Thirteenth Army Corps, and undertake to justify the order by authority granted by the General-in-Chief. I acquiesce in the order for the purpose of avoiding a conflict of authority in the presence of the enemy, but, for reasons set forth in my dispatch of yesterday, which, for anything disclosed, I still hold good, I protest against its competency and justice, and respectfully request that this, my protest, together with the accompanying paper, may be forwarded to the General-in-Chief, and through him to the Secretary of War and the President. I request this, not only in respect for the President and Secretary, under whose express authority I claim the right to command the expedition, but in justice to myself as its author and actual promoter.

Your obedient servant,
JOHN A. McClernand,
Major-General, commanding.
Grant acquiesces in McClernand’s request, and sends McClernand’s letters along with his reply and the original order, to Washington. In his accompanying letter, Grant writes his final assessment of the matter: "But whether I do General McClernand injustice or not, I have not confidence in his ability as a soldier to conduct an expedition of the magnitude of this one successfully."

McClernand, in the meantime, writes to Lincoln himself: "Please cause it to be signified to me whether Genl. Grant or myself will have immediate command of the Miss. River Expedition."


  St. Mary’s Expedition: Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, commander of the new black regiment 2nd South Carolina Volunteers (U.S.), has accompanied a picked force from his regiment to raid the coast along South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, particularly up the St. Mary’s River. In his official report, Higginson lauds the courage and particular zeal of his troops, who mere months ago had languished in chains, and makes a compelling case for the use of black troops:
The expedition has carried the regimental flag and the President's proclamation far into the interior of Georgia and Florida. The men have been repeatedly under fire; have had infantry, cavalry, and even artillery arrayed against them, and have in every instance come off not only with unblemished honor, but with undisputed triumph. . . .

Nobody knows anything about these men who has not seen them in battle. I find that I myself knew nothing. There is a fiery energy about them beyond anything of which I have ever read, except it be the French Zouaves. It requires the strictest discipline to hold them in hand. During our first attack on the river before I had got them all penned below they crowded at the open ends of the steamer loading and firing with inconceivable rapidity, and shouting to each other, "Never give it up." When collected into the hold they actually fought each other for places at the few port-holes from which they could fire on the enemy. Meanwhile the black gunners, admirably trained by Lieutenants Stockdale and O'Neil, both being accomplished artillerists, and Mr. Heron, of the gunboat, did their duty without the slightest protection and with great coolness amid a storm of shot.
Amongst the booty of the expedition was a load of 40,000 bricks, along with cordage, railroad iron, lumber, oars, resin, rice, and assorted livestock. They also found, at Woodstock, Florida, a slave jail:
We obtained also some trophies of a different description from a slave-jail, which I shall offer for your personal acceptance -- three sets of stocks, of different structure, the chains and staples used for confining prisoners to the door, and the key of the building. They furnish good illustrations of the infernal barbarism against which we contend. . . .

No officer in this regiment now doubts that the key to the successful prosecution of this war lies in the unlimited employment of black troops. Their superiority lies simply in the fact that they know the country while white troops do not, and, moreover, that they have of temperament, position, and motive which belong to them alone. Instead of leaving their homes and families to fight they are fighting for their homes and families, and they show the resolution and the sagacity which a personal purpose gives. It would have been madness to attempt, with the bravest white troops what I have successfully accomplished with black ones. Everything, even to the piloting of the vessels end the selection of the proper points for cannonading, was done by my own soldiers. Indeed, the real conductor of the whole expedition up the Saint Mary's was Corpl. Robert Sutton, of Company G, formerly a slave upon the Saint Mary's River, a man of extraordinary qualities, who needs nothing but a knowledge of the alphabet to entitle him to the most signal promotion. . . .

Due to wartime inflation, Confederate money has become devalued, to less than 20¢ to the dollar. The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes a comparative table showing the rapid inflation of the Confederate Dollar since the war started, and how inflated prices have reached crisis levels:


                 1860.                                                                                    1863.

Bacon, 10 lbs. at 12½¢ $1.25                                   Bacon, 10 lbs. at $1 $10.00

Flour, 30 lbs. at 5¢ 1.50                                            Flour, 30 lbs. at 12½c 3.75

Sugar, 5 lbs. at 8¢ .40                                               Sugar, 5 lbs. at $1.15 5.75

Coffee, 4 lbs. at 12½¢ .50                                        Coffee, 4 lbs. at $5 20.00

Tea (green), ½ lb. at $1 .50                                     Tea (green), ½ lb. at $16 8.00

Lard, 4 lbs. at 12½¢ .50                                           Lard, 4 lbs. at $1 4.00

Butter, 3 lbs. at 25¢ .75                                            Butter, 3 lbs. at $1.75 5.25

Meal, 1 pk. at 25¢ .25                                               Meal, 1 pk. at $1 1.00

Candles, 2 lbs. at 15¢ .30                                        Candles, 2 lbs. at $1.25 2.50

Soap, 5 lbs. at 10¢ .50                                             Soap, 5 lbs. at $1.10 5.50

Pepper and salt (about) .10                                   Pepper and salt (about) 2.50

                        Total $6.55                                                                           Total $68.25


Capt. Charles Wright Wills, of the 103rd Illinois Infantry Regiment, in hated garrison duty at Jackson, Tennessee, writes in his journal about the lack of good officers in his regiment:

I’m on duty as "field officer of the day," and have been temping around in the mud looking to policing, guards, etc., and just now a detail has come for me to go on picket to-morrow. I was only relieved from picket yesterday morning. We are very short of officers, having only 11 for duty in the regiment. All sick. D—n ‘em, they ought to resign and let men draw the pay who do the work. . . . I tell you, between ourselves, that of the 30 line officers there are not more than six that are worth their salt. The others do 100 times more harm than good to the service. I modestly count myself one of the six, so that you can judge better what I think they are.

A young Union artilleryman in the 6th Battery, Wisconsin Artillery, Jenkin Lloyd Jones, writes in his journal about how the Sabbath Day is different for him now he is in the army:
Buntyn Station, Sunday, Feb. 1. It is Sunday, but hard to realize it. The same routine is gone through as upon the other days, the cards shuffled with equal liveliness, the game of ball with the same noise. And I lay in my tent never realizing that this is the Sunday that I used to spend at home with such stillness, when the horses stayed in the stable unhitched, all work laid aside. Ah, well I remember the first Sunday spent in the army, how I used to recoil as I heard the boisterous oaths and reckless sport of the soldiers as they were returning to their comrades on that clear Sunday morning from Columbus to Corinth. It was just five months ago to-day, and am I really so much changed? Can it be that I am so much more vicious and wicked than then, that I heed not the Sabbath? God forbid. But what does company have to do? Almost everything. I flatter myself that it is not so very wicked. It cannot be.

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