Thursday, February 28, 2013

February 27, 1863

February 27, 1863

---Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, one of J.E.B. Stuart’s commanders, writes a report of a raid he made into Yankee-held territory, routing the Federal cavalry he encountered:

Culpeper Court-House, va., February 27, 1863.
    SIR: I have the honor to report that I crossed the Rappahannock River at Kelly's Ford on the 24th instant, on a reconnaissance, with 400 men of my command, consisting of detachments of the First, Second, and Third Regiments Virginia Cavalry, commanded, respectfully, by Colonels [J. H.] Drake, [T. T.] Munford, and Lieutenant-Colonel [William R.] Carter.
     On the 25th, I drove in the enemy's pickets near Hartwood Church, and attacked his reserve and main body. Routed them, and pursued them within 5 miles of Falmouth, to their infantry lines. Killed and wounded many of them. Captured 150 prisoners, including 5 commissioned officers, with all their horses, arms, and equipments. I them withdrew my command slowly, retiring by detachments. Encamped at Morrisville that night, and on the 26 th recrossed the river, and returned to camp with my prisoners. The successive charges were splendidly executed. My loss in killed, wounded, and missing was 14.
Stuart and his troopers on a raid

---Maj. General Sterling Price, CSA, is ordered to be transferred west back to the Trans-Mississippi Departrment under the command of Edmund Kirby-Smith and Theophilus Holmes.  However, he is ordered to leave his Missouri Division with
Gen. Pemberton at Vicksburg.

---The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes this editorial as a cautionary tale to all Confederate wives: Don’t encourage your husbands to desert.

A solemn warning to wives.

–A correspondent of the Selma Reporter relates a story which should serve as a solemn warning to the wives of soldiers. He says a few weeks ago a soldier was tried and convicted of the crime of desertion, and sentenced to be shot. The day for the execution arrived, and at the appointed hour this brave man, who had fought many battles and endured every kind of hardship, fell a bloody corpse at the hands of his comrades. Upon inquiry it was ascertained he was as true as steel to our cause, and that it was on account of his wife that he deserted. He received a letter from her full of complaints. Looking alone upon the dark side of the picture, she had magnified her troubles and sufferings, and earnestly entreated her husband to return home. He became restless, discontented, unhappy. . . . His solemn oath never to desert troubled him much, and he well knew the crime of desertion had become so frequent in the army it would be punished with death. In this state of perplexity he drew his wife’s letter from his bosom and read it again. . . . His wife, now a widow, know[s] no peace of mind, but is constantly haunted with the thought that her exaggerated representations of her trials and sufferings caused her husband’s death. Let this case be a lesson to all wives and mothers. When you write to the soldier speak words of encouragement; cheer their hearts; fire their souls, and arouse their patriotism. Say nothing that will embitter their thoughts, or swerve them from the path of patriotic duty.

A young, Rebel officer and his family

---Ruffin Thompson, a young Mississippian serving in Gen. Barksdale’s brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia, writes home and includes some sober and surprisingly prescient thoughts about the progress of the war and the isolation of the South:

I suppose when we break up here to commence the campaign that there will be a repetition of the last summer’s work, hard living and hard working life — when? – that the campaign if successful – as it must be – will end the war, I confidently believe. Still, I am prepared to soldier for many a long year to come. Should Lincoln’s Conscript Law – which I hear is passed – be submitted to, there will be no cessation of hostilities till 1865, when a new President will have to be elected. It is folly to look for any aid other than our good right arms and a will that death alone can quench. There never was a people more completely isolated than ours – we need look for no sympathy among the nations of the earth. Our “peculiar institution” makes them all our enemies, actively or passively. They want our cotton and that alone is in our favor. Let us once gain our independence and we may defy the world in arms – we must be a nation of soldiers, and if the opportunity ever offers will repay the cotton-loving, slave hating Briton for his hostile sentiments towards us now. . . .

He also adds some observations about the illicit cross-river trade between Union and Confederate pickets up at the front:

Flags of truce are over nearly every day for one purpose or another. We watch, lately, have had opportunities for exchanging papers, but now we never get any. The pickets say they scarcely ever see a paper, unless perhaps, of a certain class. talking across the river is forbidden by General Lee. The Yankees seem to be very anxious to converse, but we treat them with silent contempt. A system of intercourse has been carried on for sometime by the opposing pickets – it was quite ingenious. Some of our boys would rig a small boat with sails, and when the wind was favorable, put papers and tobacco in, and start her for the other shore. It arrives in a few minutes, and the Yanks start the little voyager back, freighted with papers and coffee. The boat was some two or three feet long, and could carry several pounds. General Barksdale broke it up as soon as he found it out.

---Charles Francis Adams, Sr., the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, writes in a letter home about changing opinions in the United Kingdom:

The anti-slavery feeling has been astonishingly revived by the President’s proclamation and the kindly disposition by the supplies furnished to Lancashire. It is however to be noted that all this manifestation comes from the working and middle classes. The malevolence of the aristocracy continues just as strong as ever.

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