Monday, February 11, 2013

February 11, 1863

February 11, 1863

*–Brig. Gen. Rufus Saxton of the Union army in Beaufort, South Carolina, writes a report on the conduct of Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson’s new black regiment, the 1st So. Carolina Volunteers (U.S.):
Beaufort, S. C., Jan 25th, 1863.
Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War:

Dear Sir:

Plaque with text at the 54th Mass. Infantry Memorial, Boston Common
Click on picture to enlarge, to read the text on the plaque.
I have the honor to report that the organization of the first regiment of South Carolina volunteers is now completed. The regiment is light infantry, composed of ten companies of about eighty-six men each, armed with muskets and officered by white men. In organization, drill, discipline, and morale, this regiment, for the length of time it has been in service, is not surpassed by any white regiment in this department. Should it ever be its good fortune to get into action, I have no fear but it will win its own way to the confidence of those who are willing to recognize courage and manhood, and vindicate the wise policy of the Administration in putting these men into the field, and giving them a chance to strike a blow for the country and their own liberty. In no regiment have I ever seen duty performed with so much cheerfulness and alacrity; and as sentinels, they are peculiarly vigilant. . . .

54th Massachusetts Memorial, Boston Common


*–Jenkin Lloyd Jones, of the 6th Wisconsin Artillery, based at Memphis, Tennessee, writes in his journal of the winter quarters shelter he and his mates built:
Memphis, Wednesday, Feb. 11. Warm and sunny. Ball playing and building shanties the order of the day. We completed ours. It consists of an excavation of one foot, then walled two feet with rails and logs, and banked; covered with a double roof, a brick chimney in one end, and door in the other, with the floor boarded. Such is our house.

Union Camp in winter near the Rappahannock River, Virginia

*–Horatio Nelson Taft, of Washington, D.C., writes in his journal of the rise of Copperheadism in the Midwestern states of the North:
Washington Wednesday Feby 11. 1863
Fears are now frequently expressed that we are to have trouble in the free states. There seems to exist a great number of peace men, men who are willing to make peace on any terms "only stop the war." The "Knights of the Golden Circle" (K.G.C.) a secret Society are said to have become numerous and are ready to overthrow the Govt if necessary to make Peace. . . . The action of some of the State Legislatures, and conventions of the People, and the tone of some of the Interior Papers is somewhat alarming. There is as this State of things prove a great lack of confidence in those at the head of the Govt and who manage the War. But a Victory or two will put things "all right." No Separation. "No peace" for ten years to come, unless those in rebellion are willing to lay down their arms and return to their duty as Loyal Citizens, so say I.

*—The mounting problems of manpower shortage for the South are beginning to dominate as much attention as Gen. Robert E. Lee can give it. This winter is when the Confederacy first begins to feel the pinch severely:
February 11, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:

SIR: I think it very important to increase the strength of all our armies to the maximum by the opening of the next campaign. Details of officers and men have been sent from all the brigades of this army to collect deserters and absentees. By the return of last month, forwarded to the Department to-day, you will perceive that our strength is not much increased by the arrival of conscripts. Only 421 are reported to have joined by enlistment, and 287 to have returned from desertion, making an aggregate of 708, whereas our loss by death, discharges, and desertions amounts to 1,878. Now is the time to gather all our strength and to prepare for the struggle which must take place in the next three months. I beg you to use every means in your power to fill up our ranks.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,

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