Thursday, February 14, 2013

February 13, 1863

February 13, 1863

---Gen. Grant writes to Gen. Stephen Hurlbut, who commands the Federal troops in West Tennessee, and gives directions on several matters, including continued Confederate activity and the possibility of a Federal cavalry raid down through Mississippi:

Information which I have just received and which undoubted, shows that Van Dorn, with his force, went over to the Mobile road, to Okolona. Price is at Grenada with 6,000 or 7,000 men only. North of that point there is no large force on the Mississippi Central Railroad. Our cavalry can go to the Tallahatchee without difficulty. The enemy have not got the road repaired yet north of Water Valley. I would like to have the road destroyed as much as possible south of Holly Springs.

It seems to me that Grierson, with about 500 picked men, might succeed in making his way south, and cut the railroad east of Jackson, MISS. The undertaking would be a hazardous one, but it would pay well if carried out. I do not direct that this shall be done, but leave it for a volunteer enterprise. . . .

---Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, commander of the 1st So. Carolina Volunteers (U.S.), the first official black regiment, sends in his report.  He offers his unstinting assessment of the capabilities of black soldiers:

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, which white troops do not; and, moreover, that they have peculiarities 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 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.

---Henry Adams, serving in the American legation with his father, notes in his journal the growing tension in England between the aristocratic supporters of the South and the more “democratic” supporters of the North:

London, February 13, 1863

The last week here has been politically very quiet. I am surprised at it, for I thought that the meeting of Parliament would set the floods going. Lord Derby, however, put his foot on any interference with us, on the first night of the session, and so we have obtained a temporary quiet. But the feeling among the upper classes is more bitter and angry than ever, and the strong popular feeling of sympathy with us is gradually dividing the nation into aristocrats and democrats, and may produce pretty serious results for England.

---Near Bolivar, Tennessee, Federal and Rebel cavalry clashed, resulting in the Rebels being driven off, sustaining casualties. 

---The USS Indianola successfully passes by the heavy guns on Vicksburg’s heights, and is able to make contact with Col. Ellet’s flotilla.
The USS Indianola runs unharmed past the Vicksburg guns

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