Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 4, 1863

May 4, 1863

---Battle of Salem Church, Day 2 – The fighting that began the day before midway between Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg continues today.  Confident that Hooker will not dare attack, Lee takes a risk and sends reinforcements to the force blocking Sedgwick’s VI Corps of Federals here.  Gen. Jubal Early, out beyond Sedgwick’s left flank, sends John B. Gordon’s brigade smashing into the Union left.  Sedgwick pulls this flank back, and bends it back toward the river, thus severing his connection with Fredericksburg and his base at Falmouth.  The Federal line was now in a u-shape, protecting the fords across the Rappahannock.  Early’s subsequent attacks are less effective, however, and in spite of reinforcements from Anderson’s division, the Confederate assault loses steam.  Sedgwick, faced with a force half his size, has allowed himself to be pushed out of the game altogether.  After dark, Sedgwick withdraws his troops across the Rappahannock.  Confederate Victory.

Losses:         U.S.    4,611              C.S.    4,935

---In Mississippi, Grant’s rapidly advancing troops advance to the Big Black River, at Hankinson’s Ferry, where Confederates take note of their presence.  Messages are exchanged with Gen. Pemberton, and the Rebels are certain that the Federals will attempt to cross there, and make a strike directly at Vicksburg.

Grant's campaign for Vicksburg

---Sergeant Alexander G. Downing, of the 11th Iowa Infantry Regiment, reflects the optimism amongst Grant’s men about the ongoing Vicksburg campaign:

Monday, 4th—The Eighth, Twelfth and Thirty-fifth Iowa Regiments passed here today on their way to the front. They are all fine-looking men. I feel in hopes that Vicksburg will soon be in our hands. Our division is in the rear, most of the other troops having gone on ahead of us. Our army is in strong force at this place, and there is no danger of the rebels’ cavalry making a raid on the base of our commissary supplies here.

---George Templeton Strong, of New York City, records in his journal the talk on Wall Street about what has happened in the Chancellorsville battle, which has clearly been skewed with an optimistic spin:

Morning papers tell us nothing, but at ten A.M. the boys are shrieking an extra Tribune. . . . Our left across the Rappahannock, occupying Fredericksburg, and the “first line” of works behind it (carried with little loss) and “feeling its way” toward a hypothetical “second line.”  Our right (and our centre, also, I suppose) at a one-house village called Chancellorsville, around which there was battle.  The traitor General Lee held the works behind Fredericksburg with only a rear-guard and had thrown himself in force on Hooker in Chancellorsville or thereabouts.  Stoneman is believed to have cut the railroad line behind the rebel army.  Is so, Lee’s position is most critical.  He is likely to be destroyed, unless he gain a decisive victory over our superior force. . . . The common talk was that we are doing well, and that Hooker has executed a splendid bit of strategy, with great promise of decisive success.  Many expect the annihilation of Lee’s army, but the majority are more reasonable. . . . But croakers think Hooker will be cut up, that he has been enticed into a trap and fights with the river behind him. . . . We have had about two hundred and fifty rumors good and bad, all of them “authentic.”

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