Thursday, April 4, 2013

March 31, 1863

March 31, 1863
---F.J. Heywood, an infantryman from North Carolina, writes to a friend with details about life in Lee’s army with the Spring campaign season approaching.  Heywood notes the singular awkwardness of the two armies’ picket lines being so close to each other:
I was on picket yesterday on the Rappahannock, but did not notice anything unusual  among the yankee pickets; their pickets and areas are only separated by the river. Theirs on one bank and ours on the other, all conversation and exchange of papers between the pickets has been prohibited by Genl Lee. A man in the 23rd NC deserted to the Yankees on picket Two or three days [ago], and the Yankees raised a great howl of Triumph over him.

---Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge, CSA, writes a letter to Gen. Samuel Cooper, Inspector General of the Confederate States Army, in protest to Gen. Bragg’s official report on the Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River) concerning the action of Jan. 2, when Breckinridge undertook a suicidal charge under protest.  Defending his role in the battle and that of his division, he asks for an investigation:

SIR: Two days ago I read General Braxton Bragg's official report of the battles of Stone's River, before Murfreesborough, and, after a proper time for reflection, I think it my duty to send you this communication.
. . . And in regard to the action of Friday, the 2nd of January, upon which the commanding general heaps so much criticism, I have to say, with the utmost confidence, that the failure of my troops to hold the position which they carried on that occasion was due to no fault of theirs or of mine, but to the fact that we were commanded to do an impossible thing. My force was about 4,500 men. Of these, 1,700 heroic spirits stretched upon that bloody field, in an unequal struggle against three divisions, a brigade, and an overwhelming concentration of artillery, attested our efforts to obey the order.

I have the honor to request that a court of inquiry be appointed, to assemble at the earliest time consistent with the interests of the service, and clothed with the amplest powers of investigation. . . .

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