Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May 28, 1863

May 28, 1863

---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 6

---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 1

---Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton is put in temporary command of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, as Gen. Stoneman has taken a leave of absence for his health.  Pleasonton finds the Corps over 60% understrength, and begins refurbishing his troops.  His scouts obtain information that indicates that the Rebels are on the move, and Pleasonton opines to Gen. Hooker, “The Rebels always mean something when their scouts become numerous.”  Pleasonton ramps up the watch on the river crossings, with the aid of V Corps infantry under Meade.  He also dispatches the Reserve Brigade of cavalry under Brig. Gen. John Buford farther upstream towards “Mosby’s Confederacy” in an attempt to interdict Mosby’s raids in that area.

Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton, USA

---This morning, in Boston, Massachusetts, large crowds line the streets of the city as the newly trained 54th Massachusetts Infantry, a black regiment, parades on its way to transports that will ship the regiment south to South Carolina to assume its first assignment at the front.  Commanding the regiment is Col. Robert Gould Shaw, 25 years old and newly married.  Shaw is a combat veteran who served in the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry as a lieutenant and then captain.  Gov. John Andrew purposely calls upon Shaw since his family are wealthy Bostonian bluebloods who are prominent socially and in also prominent in the Abolition movement.  Frederick Douglass has two sons, Charles and Lewis, who join the regiment.  Most of the soldiers are free blacks from the Boston area, with also a good number of men from New York and Pennsylvania, and a contingent of African-Canadian volunteers from Toronto.  The 54th ships out today.

Col. Robert Gould Shaw, 54th Mass. Inf., comm.

---The Washington Chronicle publishes a report from some recently-exchanged naval officers who tell of what they saw while being held in Vicksburg:

The streets of Vicksburgh were fairly studded with rifle pits, and every favorable spot along the wharves or in the suburbs, had there kind of defences constructed on them. Where it was necessary, yards of houses were taken and used in the above manner, and very often earthworks were thrown up around the dwellings. In consequence of these obstructions very few wagons were seen in the streets.

The rebel reports that the people of Vicksburgh had plenty to eat, are pronounced by these officers to be untrue. Very little else but corn bread and small quantities of meat were to be had, these being the only fare of our officers.

---John C. West, a soldier serving in one of the Texas infantry regiments in Hood’s division in the Army of Northern Virginia, writes in his journal about the daily life of a Confederate soldier:

Thursday, May 28th.

While we are encamped life is so monotonous that I do not usually regard it as necessary to keep a diary, but occasionally we have a little variety and spice which is exciting and pleasant. Yesterday we received notice early in the morning to prepare to march five miles to attend a review of our division which was to take place about a mile beyond General Hood’s headquarters. We left our camp about 8 o’clock a. m. and reached the muster ground about 10 o’clock. We found the artillery posted on the extreme right about three quarters of a mile from our regiment.

The brigades, Anderson’s, Laws’, Robertson’s and Benning’s, were drawn up in line of battle, being over a mile long; our regiment a little to the left of the center. As we were properly formed General Hood and staff galloped down the entire length of the line in front and back again in the rear, after which he took his position about 300 yards in front of the center. The whole division was then formed into companies, preceded by the artillery of about twenty pieces; passed in review before the General, occupying about an hour and a march of over two miles and a half for each company before reaching its original position. The spectacle was quite imposing and grand, and I wish Mary and the children could see such a sight. After passing in review we rested awhile and were then again placed in line of battle, and the artillery divided into two batteries, came out on opposite hills in front of us, where they practiced half an hour or more with blank cartridges. This was the most exciting scene of the day except the one which immediately followed, viz: We were ordered to fix bayonets and the whole line to charge with a yell, and sure enough I heard and joined in the regular Texas war whoop. This was the closing scene of the day, after which we marched back to camp. . . .

To-day Companies B and F are variously employed. There is one squad fishing, another has made a drag of brush and are attempting to catch fish by the wholesale. Two or three other squads are intensely interested in games of poker; some are engaged on the edge of the water washing divers soiled garments as well as their equally soiled skins. I belonged to this latter class for a while, and have spent the remainder of the morning watching the varying success or failure of the fishermen and poker-players, and in reading a few chapters and Psalms in the Old Testament and the history of the crucifixion in the New. . . . I went up to a house to-day about half a mile from our picket camp and found a negro woman with some corn bread and butter milk. A friend who was with me gave her a dollar for her dinner, which we enjoyed very much. The woman was a kind-hearted creature and looked at me very sympathetically, remarking that I did not look like I was used to hard work, and that I was a very nice looking man to be a soldier, etc., etc.

---British Army officer Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle writes in his journal some of the details of his visit to the camp of the Army of Tennessee---in the course of which, he meets exiled Copperhead Clement Vallandigham:

When I arrived I found that General Hardee was in company with General Polk and Bishop Elliott of Georgia, and also with Mr Vallandigham. The latter (called the Apostle of Liberty) is a good-looking man, apparently not much over forty, and had been turned out of the North three days before. Rosecrans had wished to hand him over to Bragg by flag of truce; but as the latter declined to receive him in that manner, he was, as General Hardee expressed it, “dumped down” in the neutral ground between the lines, and left there. He then received hospitality from the Confederates in the capacity of a destitute stranger. They do not in any way receive him officially, and it does not suit the policy of either party to be identified with one another. He is now living at a private house in Shelbyville, and had come over for the day, with General Polk, on a visit to Hardee. He told the generals, that if Grant was severely beaten in Mississippi by Johnston, he did not think the war could be continued on its present great scale.

When I presented my letters of introduction, General Hardee received me with the unvarying kindness and hospitality which I had experienced from all other Confederate officers. He is a fine soldier-like man, broad-shouldered and tall. He looks rather like a French officer, and is a Georgian by birth. He bears the reputation of, being a thoroughly good soldier, and he is the author of the drill-book still in use by both armies. Until quite lately he was commanding officer of the military college at West Point. He distinguished himself at the battles of Corinth and Murfreesborough, and now commands the 2d corps d’arme’e of Bragg’s army. He is a widower, and has the character of being a great admirer of the fair sex. . . . General Hardee’s headquarters were on the estate of Mrs ——, a very hospitable lady. The two daughters of the General were staying with her, and also a Mrs ——, who is a very pretty woman. These ladies are more violent against the Yankees than it is possible for a European to conceive; they beat their male relations hollow in their denunciations and hopes of vengeance. It was quite depressing to hear their innumerable stories of Yankee brutality, and I was much relieved when, at a later period of the evening, they subsided into music.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting observation from British Army officer Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle. Traveling the long distance from home, its seems as if he is analyzing the outside features and the way people look. A little weird how he mentions several men he finds good looking... and the women are brutes...