Sunday, February 3, 2013

February 3, 1863

February 3, 1863

◊-- Mississippi River, Vicksburg: The Escapades of the Queen of the West, Part 2 – Col. Ellet and his crew steam downriver from Vicksburg, having passed the fortress in relative safety.  The Queen makes several stops, trying out different river ports, capturing a few Confederate officers, and ran unmolested all the way down to the mouth of the Red River.  Just south of that spot, a Confederate naval vessel is seen steaming upriver toward them, and pulls alongside before the Rebel crew sees their mistake; a number of Rebels dive overboard, and the captain of the A.W. Baker surrenders his ship without a fight.  The Baker had just come up from Port Hudson, another Confederate stronghold.  Just then, another steamer comes downriver toward the Queen and her prize.  The Moro was loaded with pork for Port Hudson, and the Yankees confiscated the entire cargo.  They also capture the Berwick, which was loaded with molasses, sugar, flour, and cotton.  As the day began to wane, Ellet decides to torch his prizes, cargoes and all.

USS Queen of the West

Col. Charles Ellet, Jr.

◊-- General Grant authorizes an expedition to begin cutting a canal from the Missisippi River to Lake Providence, a crescent lake on the Louisiana side of the river, which has a navigable outlet to two bayous that flow into the Red River, and thus would provide a water route around Vicksburg.  Grant sends 100 negro workmen to add to the project. 

 ◊--A Union expedition at Yazoo Pass, a levee between the Mississippi and the Yazoo Rivers in northern Mississippi, is able to cut through the levee, so that hopefully Federal gunboats will be able eventually to steam into the Yazoo Delta and thus behind Confederate defenses at Vicksburg.

 ◊--Battle of Dover, Tennessee: While on an extended raid in Union-occupied territory, Generals Forrest and Wheeler with their 2,500-man cavalry division attack Union-garrisoned Fort Donelson on the banks of the Cumberland River in Tennessee. Wheeler, in overall command, places his artillery and makes a determined attack, but Col. Harding of the Federal army has places his rifle pits well, and the Rebels are repulsed. By dusk both sides are low on ammunition, and so Wheeler elects to withdraw, leaving the town and Fort in Union hands. As he does so, Harding mounts a pursuit, and captures some Rebel troops. Out of the 800 soldiers in Dover, the Yankees lose 126 killed and wounded. The Confederate losses number 670, at least a couple hundred of those captured. These are steep casualties for such small forces. Union Victory.
--The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes an editorial lauding the successes of the Southern commerce raiders Alabama and Florida:
The Confederate Navy Since the days of Paul Jones there have been no achievements of a single ship in naval warfare as brilliant as those of the Alabama. Capt. Semmes has won for himself and his country imperishable laurels. The Florida, which has just put to sea under her gallant commander, bids fair to rival the renown of the Alabama. The Navy Department and the Confederate Congress ought to devote their utmost energies to putting more ships afloat, and giving an opportunity to our gallant naval offices to distinguish themselves and render service to the Confederacy. This is the only arena upon which we can carry on aggressive warfare against the Yankees, and touch them in the vital spot of both their pride and interests. The extreme sensitiveness manifested in their commercial circles to the operations of a single ship, the Alabama shown us their weak spot, and we should strike at it with all our power. With all the boasted prowess of the Yankee upon the deep, we believe that a Confederate navy can be built up which will make the sea as uncomfortable to them as the shore, and drive their commerce — the source of all their wealth. . . .

◊--Major Alexander Biddle, of the 121st Pennsylvania Volunteers, writes home to his wife Julia about the speculated moves the Army might make, and of woolen shirts, and dinner:

If any move is made I hope we will choose ground of our own to fight on – that seems to me the great advantage the Rebels have they always fight battles in selected positions – we attack the positions they select hence they always have a great advantage – I wrote to you a letter yesterday and with nothing much to say write for the mere pleasure of thinking by so doing I draw a little bit nearer to you Today I have been contributing to a sword for Genl Reynolds a compliment from the Reserves and they come to us to help it through – to which we willingly assent – Give love to the dear little ones for me – If you have a little spare room in your bucket send me two (2) stout white woolen undershirts 36 inches round the chest – the thickest you can find – I want nothing else in my supply is just a little short

Dear Wife I trust it may soon be permitted that I may return home to you and hope when it does come it will never be to part again – Our dinner is on the table, the Lt Col says let us sit down while it is hot – I concur and therefore close these hasty lines – Your Loving


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