Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27, 1863

June 27, 1863

---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 36

---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 31

---New General of the Army of the Potomac.  Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, commander of the Army of the Potomac, is convinced that Lee’s army outnumbers his---proving that many were susceptible to McClellan’s disease---and wishes to incorporate the 10,000 men at Harper’s Ferry under Gen. French into his forces.  After wiring Halleck on this topic, he waits until French receives a reply from Gen. Halleck, which tells French that he should not obey Hooker’s orders.  In a fit of pique, Hooker tenders his resignation, which Halleck and Pres. Lincoln accept with alacrity. 

SANDY HOOK, June 27, 1863-1 p. m.
(Received 3 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    My original instructions require me to cover Harper's Ferry and Washington. I have now imposed upon me, in addition, an enemy in my front of more than my number. I beg to be understood, respectfully, but firmly, that I am unable to comply with this condition with the means at my disposal, and earnestly request that I may at once be relieved from the position I occupy.


Lincoln quickly gives the command to Gen. George G. Meade of Pennsylvania, effective immediately.

Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade, USA
---Guerillas under Brig. Gen. John Imboden raid Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, taking supplies, horses, cattle, wagons, and household goods of all kinds, including a considerable coffle of negroes, whom the Confederates claim are runaways.  The raiders even have the cheek to offer to sell some of the goods back to the owners who had just been pilfered of said goods.  But the blacks were taken south into bondage, despite the fact that the townspeople could attest to many of them having been born and raised in Mercersburg and the surrounding area.

---Maj. Gen. John McClernand sends a letter to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, soliciting his help in getting McClernand restored to command of his corps in Grant’s army.  McClernand, among other complaints, seems to feel that Grant had no authority to do so---that “General Grant has assumed power to relieve me from the command.”

June 26, 1863

June 26, 1863

---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 35

---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 30

---Gen. Jubal Early’s division of Confederates burns the Caledonia Iron Works, a mill with workers’ housing belonging to Rep. Thaddeau Stevens of the U.S. Congress, probably the most implacable of all abolitionists.  His troops also march into Gettysburg, chasing out a regiment of home guard troops, and finally dispersing them east of town in a sharp skirmish.

Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early, CSA

---Battle of Hoover’s Gap, Day 3:  After more skirmishing, Gen. Stewart of Bragg’s army orders Bate and Johnson to withdraw from the Gap, along with the rest of Stewart’s division.  Wilder immediately sets out in pursuit, harassing the Rebels as Bragg’s army falls back to Tullahoma.  Union Victory.

---On this date, Pres. Lincoln commutes the death sentences for six soldiers in the Union army.  

June 25, 1863

June 25, 1863

---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 34

---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 29

---This morning, Jeb Stuart and his three brigades of Rebel troopers set out on their big ride around Hooker’s army.  His troopers skirmish with Union infantry guarding a large wagon train. 

---Louis Lėon, an infantryman from North Carolina in Ewell’s corps, finds himself at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the farthest north that Lee’s men will penetrate.  He writes in his journal about the march and the reception by the town:

June 25 – Marched on, passed through Leesburg, Canada, Hockinsville, and Centerville, all small villages. We got to Carlisle, Pa., at sundown. Marched 21 miles to-day. This city is certainly a beautiful place. It has 8,000 inhabitants, and we were treated very good by the ladies. They thought we would do as their soldiers do, burn every place we passed through, but when we told them the strict orders of General Lee they were rejoiced. Our regiment was provost guard in the city, but were relieved by the 21st Georgia Regiment, and we went to camp at the U. S. barracks. So far we have lived very good in the enemy’s country. We stayed here until the 30th, when we took the Baltimore pike road, crossed South Mountain at Holly Gap, passed through Papertown and Petersburg. We then left the Pike and took the Gettysburg road – 17 miles to-day. This has been a hard day for us, as we were the rear guard of the division, and it was very hot, close and very dusty, and a terrible job to keep the stragglers up.

---Battle of Hoover’s Gap, Tennessee:  Beginning yesterday, Gen. Rosecrans has directed Gen. George Thomas to march his corps to this and a few other gaps in the Highland Rim range of hills in central Tennessee, in order to force Bragg’s right flank.  Thomas’s troops approach this location, but leading out in front are the mounted infantry of Col. John T. Wilder of Indiana, whose men are equipped with the repeating Spencer rifle.  Wilder arrives first, and drives off the Rebel cavalry posted there.  In the meantime, infantry from the brigade of Gen. Bate from A.P. Stewart’s division arrives, and attacks Wilder, who is now entrenched on higher ground.  Bate is driven back with heavy losses, but is later joined by another brigade under Bushrod Johnson, and the two brigades launch another assault, also repulsed with heavy losses.  Thomas sends a note asking Wilder to withdraw, but Wilder insists on staying.  He is reinforced by troops under Rousseau and Brannan.

---A Unionist woman living in Vicksburg, records in her journal the bloody effects of the Yankee bombardment, and how it finally unnerved her:

June 25.- A horrible day.The most horrible yet to me, because I’ve lost my nerve. we were all in the cellar, when a shell came tearing through the roof, burst up-stairs, tore up that room, and the pieces coming through both floors down into the cellar, one of them tore open the leg of H.’s pantaloons. This was tangible proof the cellar was no place of protection from them. On the heels of this came Mr. J. to tell us that young Mrs. P. had had her thigh-bone crushed. When Martha went for the milk she came back horror-stricken to tell us the black girl there had her arm taken off by a shell. For the first time I quailed. I do not think people who are physically brave deserve much credit for it; it is a matter of nerves. In this way I am constitutionally brave, and seldom think of danger until it is over; and death has not the terrors for me it has for some others. Every night I had lain down expecting death, and every morning rose to the same prospect, without being unnerved. It was for H. I trembled. But now I first seemed to realize that something worse than death might come: I might be crippled, and not killed. Life, without all one’s powers and limbs, was a thought that broke down my courage. I said to H., “You must get me out of this horrible place; I cannot stay; I know I shall be crippled.” Now the regret comes that I lost control, because H. is worried, and has lost his composure, because my coolness has broken down.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24, 1863

June 24, 1863

---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 33

---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 28

The Gettysburg Campaign:

---Jeb Stuart writes orders to detail off two of his brigades---under Grumble Jones and Beverly Robertson, under Robertson’s overall command---to harass and scourge the Yankees, and to keep a screen between the enemy and Lee’s army, “keeping on its right and rear.”  In the meantime, Stuart is apparently taking the option of riding around the Yankee army with his three remaining brigades of Hampton, Lee, and Chambliss.

---Chambersburg, Penn. -- Gen. Ewell’s men of the II Corps enter Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, one of the key points that Lee needs to supply his campaign.  The men of Rodes’ division enter first, and the locals are surprised and gratified that the Rebels are not looting and ransacking the town.  Gen. Early’s division detaches Gen. Steuart (no relation to Jeb) with his infantry brigade to move west from Greencastle to Mercersburg and then McConnellsburg, due west of Chambersburg.  Ewell sends Early east from Chambersburg toward Cashtown and then the crossroads town of Gettysburg.  Rodes’ division will continue to follow the main pike towards Shippensburg (where Jenkins’ small cavalry brigade is) and then Carlisle, where a modest force of Yankee cavalry and infantry await. 

---Gen. Richard Anderson’s division of A.P. Hill’s III Corps crosses the Potomac into Maryland today.

---Andrew J. Proffitt, a young Confederate soldier in Longstreet’s I Corps, writes home from a friends’ home and tells of the killing march through Virginia on the way to Pennsylvania:

. . . we have had another hard march from Fredericksbur toward Win-chester the march was so hard and the weather so hot that hundred give out I marched three days un-til I could go no more they halled me one day but the ambulances were so crowded that they broke part of them down so the doctors give me a pass to shift for myself I am at a first rate place & can stay as long as I choose I do not know when I will be able to go on but I suppose I will in a week or so.  There is nothing the matter more than I am broken down, my feet worn out & my head pains me right smartly. All of which make me quite weak I can say to you that A. N. give out & was sent back to Culpepper he was right sick but I hope not dangerous. It was said that many marched until they fell dead on this march you need not be uneasy that I will do that I guess that I have been some where since I left home.  do not be uneasy about me I am treated as kindly as I would at home.

(from the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections, U. of North Carolina)

---The renowned Pennsylvania Reserves division is called up into active service again.  Gen. Samuel W. Crawford is given command of the 1st and 3rd Brigades, with the 2nd brigade is added to the troops protecting Washington.

---Gen. Rosecrans’ Federal troops skirmish with Confederate troops in Tennessee, near Guy’s, Liberty, and Hanover gaps.

---Col. Mizener (Misener?) and a raiding force of Federal cavalry return to La Grange, Tennessee from a raid down into Mississippi, leaving a wake of destruction in his path.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 23, 1863

June 23, 1863

---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 32

---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 27

---Gen. Robert E. Lee writes to Pres. Davis with a plan to divert Federal attention away from his movement into Pennsylvania, which would look like this:  detach Gen. Beauregard with troops from North and South Carolina (since recently diminished Federal troop strength there indicates no Northern offensive planned there for the near future), and send this force up to the Rappahannock River around Culpeper, to threaten Washington from that front. 

---Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, commander of the Army of the Cumberland (U.S.), puts his army on the road out of Murfreesboro to execute his planned campaign of maneuver against Bragg’s Army of Tennessee at Tullahoma.

---Maj. Gen. J.E.B. (Jeb) Stuart continues probing to discover the exact location of Hooker’s army, since Lee has tasked Stuart with determining whether Hooker has crossed the Potomac yet, or whether the Yankees will remain inactive.  Lee’s discretionary orders are actually quite ambiguous, and leave room for Stuart to ride north following Ewell’s path, or to detach two brigades and take the rest for a ride around the Union army, which he is undoubtedly eager to do.  And yet, he is expected to keep in touch with Ewell’s right.

---Gideon Welles, Lincoln’;s Secretary of the Navy, writes in his journal of a Cabinet meeting this day, and the apparent condition of the President:

Neither Seward nor Stanton was at the Cabinet-meeting. Mr. Bates has left for Missouri. The President was with General Hooker at the War Department when we met, but soon came in. His countenance was sad and careworn, and impressed me painfully.

---British observer Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle writes in his diary concerning his visit to Winchester, Virginia, and the damage done to it by the occupying Yankee forces:

I understand that Winchester used to be a most agreeable little town, and its society extremely pleasant. Many of its houses are now destroyed or converted into hospitals; the rest look miserable and dilapidated. Its female inhabitants (for the able-bodied males are all absent in the army) are familiar with the bloody realities of war. As many as 5000 wounded have been accommodated here at one time. All the ladies are accustomed to the bursting of shells and the sight of fighting, and all are turned into hospital nurses or cooks.

From the utter impossibility of procuring corn, I was forced to take the horses out grazing a mile beyond the town for four hours in the morning and two in the afternoon. As one mustn’t lose sight of them for a moment, this occupied me all day, while Lawley wrote in the house. In the evening we went to visit two wounded officers in Mrs ——’s house, a major and a captain in the Louisianian Brigade which stormed the forts last Sunday week. I am afraid the captain will die. Both are shot through the body, but are cheery. They served under Stonewall Jackson until his death, and they venerate his name, though they both agree that he has got an efficient successor in Ewell. . . . At no period of the war, they say, have the men been so well equipped, so well clothed, so eager for a fight, or so confident of success—a very different state of affairs from that which characterised the Maryland invasion of last year, when half of the army were barefooted stragglers, and many of the remainder unwilling and reluctant to cross the Potomac.

---John C. West, of the 4th Texas Infantry (in Longstreet’s corps in Lee’s army), writes to Miss Decca Smith of South Carolina, detailing the miseries of an infantryman on a brisk campaign march:

June 23rd, 1863.
To Miss Decca Stark, Columbia, South Carolina:

Dear Decca: Yours of the 6th inst., with one from Miss Nannie Norton of the same date reached me about eight days ago, and I have not had a moment since to answer you, and even now cannot tell whether I shall be interrupted before I am half done this. I am writing on my knee, with everything packed ready to move at the sound of the bugle. I wrote you last on the 6th of June from near Culpepper Court House. On that day we took a hard march of eighteen miles through the rain, and on very muddy roads. We halted about 10 o’clock at night. I was wet and very tired.

There was an order against making tires, as we were near the enemy, being on the same ground on which Stuart fought them a few days afterwards. Of course I slept; a soldier, if he knows his own interest, will sleep whenever opportunity offers, but there were 10,000 or 12,000 men huddled on the side of the road in a promiscuous mass, just as you have seen cattle about a barn lot; no one knowing how much mud or filth he reposed in until the generous light of day revealed it. It rained a good deal during the night and kept me thoroughly soaked. . . .

On the 13th we received orders to be ready to march or fight, but it turned out to be only a march of five miles, which we accomplished in an hour and reached Cedar Run, the scene of one of Stonewall Jackson’s battles last August. There were a great many unburied skeletons, presenting a very ghastly appearance. There were forty-nine skulls in one little ditch. . . . A hand or a foot might be seen protruding from the earth, here and there, to mark the last resting place of the patriotic victims of this horrible war.

We left this camp on the 15th and marched through Culpepper towards Winchester. This was one of the hottest days and one of the hottest marches I have yet experienced. Over 500 men fell out by the road side from fatigue and exhaustion, and several died where they fell; this was occasioned by being overheated and drinking cold water in immoderate quantities, and the enforcement of the order requiring us to wade through creeks and rivers up to our waists without the privilege of even taking off our shoes. I felt quite sick and giddy with a severe pain in my head as I was climbing the hill after wading the Rappahannock, but it passed off, and I kept with the company, though I saw two dead men during the time and several others fall.

Oh! how I would have enjoyed one of mother’s mint juleps then as we rested in “the shade of the trees.” I slept gloriously that night on a bed of clover and blue grass. . . . On the 16th we marched twenty miles without so much suffering, though the day was very warm, and many fell by the way, and like the seed in the parable, “on stony ground,” for we were getting towards the mountains. . . .

All the country we have passed through is perfectly charming, and I cannot see why any Virginian ever leaves Virginia. All that I have seen so far fills my ideal of the-”promised land.” On the 18th we marched to the Shenandoah, ten miles, and waded it with positive orders not to take off any clothing. The water was deep and cold. I put my cartridge box on my head. The water came to my arm pits. We camped about a mile beyond the river. A tremendous rain drenched us before night, so we were reconciled to the wading. My blankets and everything that I had was soaked, except Mary’s daguerreotype, which Colonel B. F. Carter took charge of for me. I slept in clothes and blankets soaked wet. On the 19th we marched down the river about ten miles over a very muddy road, . . . and here about dark we experienced the hardest storm of wind and rain I ever saw. It seemed to me as if the cold and rain, like the two-edged sword of holy writ, penetrated to the very joints and marrow. I laid down but did not sleep a wink until about an hour before day, and woke up cold and stiff. More than half the soldiers spent the night in a desperate effort to keep the fire burning, which was done with great difficulty.

I took off my clothes, one garment at a time, and dried them, and baked myself until I felt tolerably well; but truly a soldier knows not what a day may bring forth. Just as I was thoroughly dried, up came another cloud and soaked us again, and then came an order to fall into line “without arms.” . . . we discovered that we had been encamped in a cloud on the mountain top, right in the heart of the rain factory, the summer resort of Æolus himself. . . . I have quite a severe cold, though I am better to-day than I was yesterday. Don’t write this to Mary. I hope we will soon get through our demonstrations and come to the fighting part of the drama.

I have not heard from home yet, though it is more than two months since I left Texas, and there are several letters in the regiment of recent date. I understand there is a large mail for our brigade at the Texas depot, in Richmond, awaiting an opportunity to be sent to us.