Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 1, 1863

June 1, 1863

---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 10

---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 5

---Maj. Gen. John McClernand, commander of the XIII Corps in Grant’s Army of the Tennessee, issues a letter of congratulations to his corps for their service in the recent attacks on the Vicksburg defenses.  At the time of the assault of May 22, McClernand falsely claimed that he had captures a couple of Confederate strong points, in a bid to get Grant to send him more reinforcements from other corps, so that he might indeed accomplish the break-through himself that he now falsely claimed---and thus become the hero of capturing Vicksburg.  Grant had discovered the bogus nature of McClernand’s request, and therefore denied him the reinforcements.  McClernand’s letter of this date details the claim that the XIII Corps could have carried the works, had Grant provided the requested reinforcements: that McClernand’s requested assistance surely, “by massing a strong force in time upon a weakened point, would have probably insured success.”  However, McClernand commits one error that Grant cannot ignore: instead of submitting his Order to Grant’s headquarters for approval, he gives copies to reporters for two newspapers back in Illinois which are his political allies.  This is a violation of army regulations.

Maj. Gen. John Alexander McClernand, USA
---Stephen Minot Weld, a Union officer serving in the Army of the Potomac, on the staff of the I Corps, writes in his journal of the boredom of camp life:

June 1.— The first day of summer, and as dusty and disagreeable a day as one often passes. Nothing of any interest occurred, except in the evening, when we had some officers over here, and the band to play for us. After the band left we had some banjo-playing and nigger dancing. Egbert returned to-day.

---Brig. Gen. E.A. Wild has arrived in Newbern, North Carolina, the bastion of Union occupation of coastal North Carolina, with the design of raising a brigade of black troops from among the local refugees and “contrabands.”  A Samuel A. Glen writes to the New York Herald about the repugnance of many in the Army against this project.  The Herald publishes Glen’s observations about this “experiment”:

The advocates of the colored brigade only claim a fair trial for their experiment, unobstructed by the natural prejudices of the white troops, and say that they will stand or fall by the result. They do not object to fair and impartial criticism—to that more powerful weapon, unlicensed and illiberal ridicule—provided the credit they may justly be entitled to shall not be withheld. There is one thing calculated to impair whatever of good may eventually result from the undertaking—if any good is destined to come of it—and that is, the senseless cry and impetuous and misguided zeal of those Northern fanatics who talk, write and act as if there were no other interests involved in the great contest than the elevation of the negro. It is no wonder the white soldier and the white citizen becomes exasperated when these reckless agitators spur and hound on the blacks in a hasty race for premature emancipation. . . . If some of this class of persons [fanatics], or the whole of them, were lodged in Fort Warren, or Lafayette, or anywhere else, so that they could be kept out of the way of harming the cause of the Union by alienating the affections of the white troops from their love and devotion to the old flag, and stirring up angry and resentful feelings all over the country, it would be of vast benefit to the republic and a merciful response to the cry of suffering humanity wherever tyranny exists. But if the honest advocates of the enlistment of negro troops only ask a trial for the sake of showing to the country what their proteges are capable of doing as warriors fighting inspired by the “battle cry of freedom,” there are many who distrust the policy from first to last, but are yet willing to give them a chance. A few weeks will demonstrate their practicability or impracticability in the Department of North Carolina.


  1. That is interesting to learn about John McClernand. What stopped Grant from demoting him or from sending McClernand some where else? I think it would be hard to work with someone who wanted all of the credit. It is interesting to learn that there were some Union soldiers who only signed up for the war to gain recognition.

    posted by Jory Johnson

  2. Maj. Gen. McClernand seemed to be quite the careerist. I've heard of better reasons to go to war, but it sounds like this man's intent was to take credit for the victory of Vicksburg. Generals like Grant make decisions off of the information that they receive, and hopefully its all accurate. McClernand took a big risk that could have reversed the actual result of the battle. I wonder how aspiring generals like this view the lives of the men who bought their glory?