Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 7, 1863

May 7, 1863

—Pres. Lincoln and Gen Halleck arrive at the HQ for the Army of the Potomac at Falmouth, Virginia, soon after Hooker and his troops arrive there. In conference with Hooker, the President emphasizes that he does not blame anyone, but just wants the army to whip itself into shape for the next campaign—soon. Several corps commanders, notably Couch and Slocum, and perhaps Meade and Sedgwick, want Hooker to resign and someone else put in his place. Couch and Slocum want Meade, but Meade is less eager to pursue this. Lincoln writes to Hooker: "The recent movement of your army is ended without effecting its object. . . . What next? Have you already in your mind a plan wholly, or partially formed? If you have, prosecute it without interference from me. If you have not, please inform me, so that I, incompetent as I may be, can try [to] assist in the formation of some plan for the Army.

Grant's Vicksburg Campaign

—On this date, in Guiney Station, Virginia, General Stonewall Jackson, recovering from his amputation, contracts pneumonia, and Dr. McGuire begins to administer mustard plasters, warm blankets, and bleeding.

—In Mississippi, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant sends his three corps on two roads, from Rocky Springs and Hankinson’s Ferry on a quick march toward Fourteen-Mile Creek. His aim is to cut and disrupt the supply lines to Vicksburg by taking the railroads and the state capital of Jackson, where the railroads all meet.

—Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn, ever the dashing cavalier and "framed to make all women false" (Shakespeare, Othello), was sitting at his desk at his headquarters in Spring Hill, Tennessee, when Dr. James Bodie Peters came in and shot Van Dorn in the back of the head, because Van Dorn had been having an affair with his wife, Jessie. Although Dr. Peters is arrested for the shooting, he is never put on trial or convicted for the crime.

Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn, CSA -- R.I.P.

—Sergeant Alexander G. Downing of the 11th Iowa Infantry Regiment in Grant’ army, writes in his journal about recent action in Mississippi, and longs for his rear-echelon regiment to go to the front:
Thursday, 7th—One hundred and fifty prisoners captured at Grand Gulf were taken past here this morning; they all looked quite downhearted. A large train of provisions passed here for the army below. The roads are drying fast, which is making the hauling and marching better. The boys are all anxious to leave this place and move to the front. This is a low, unhealthy locality. An old negro here has picked up more than a thousand overcoats and blankets and is storing them away in his hut. These are thrown aside by the men marching out from the landing. On becoming warm and getting tired of their loads, they begin to unload about the first day’s march.

—Osborne H. Oldroyd, of the Union Army, speculates on the regular devastation that visits the Southern people in the course of the war:
They are just beginning to open their eyes to war’s career of devastation. They must not complain when they go out to the barnyard in the morning and find a hog or two missing at roll-call, or a few chickens less to pick corn and be picked in turn for the pot. I think these southern people will be benefited by the general diffusion of information which our army is introducing; and after the war new enterprise and better arts will follow—the steel plow, for instance, in place of the bull-tongue or old root that has been in use here so long to scratch the soil. The South must suffer, but out of that suffering will come wisdom.

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