Monday, June 17, 2013

June 15, 1863

June 15, 1863

---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 24

---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 19

---Second Battle of Winchester – Day 3:  As the day breaks, Ewell is ready to spring his trap.  Milroy has withdrawn most of his Federal troops into the several forts and fortified strong points around Winchester.  However, after realizing that they are surrounded, and after conferring with his officers, Milroy decides that they should abandon Winchester, leaving his artillery behind.   

Maj. Gen. Robert Milroy, USA

His troops assemble quietly and simply walk out of the city without a shot being fired, on the road to Martinsburg, through the gap left open between Early’s and Johnson’s advanced units.  At Stephenson’s depot, just north of town, Johnson’s Confederates attack the head of Milroy’s escaping column, as regiment after regiment in gray are added to the line as they come up, in addition to nearly 30 guns placed.  The Federals rally and counterattack, but the attacks are not coordinated.  The Rebels again advance, Nicholls and his Louisiana Brigade break up the Yankee line before them, followed by the Stonewall Brigade striking on the far northern Federal flank, and cutting the escape route of the Valley Pike.  The Union units begin to dissolve at this point, and some regiments surrender outright.  The entire Union force scatters, some even escaping southeast, through Manassas Gap.  In addition to bagging 23 cannon, the Rebels capture over 4,000 prisoners, having inflicted nearly 500 Federal casualties.  As bits and pieces of Milroy’s command straggle into Harper’s Ferry, there are no more than 1,200 which escaped the Southern trap.  Milroy is relieved of command, and placed under arrest.  This has been an overwhelming Confederate Victory.

Losses:                     Killed        Wounded               Captured/Missing         Total
Union                          95                  348                                4,000                      4,443
Confederate             47                   293                                          3                          343

---Jenkins’s cavalry brigade, assigned to Ewell’s corps, is with Rodes’ division (who were not engaged at Winchester).  Gen. Rodes sends Jenkins posting north over the Potomac to dash forward and secure Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  By late tonight, Jenkins’ troops reach Chambersburg.  Also, some of Rodes’ infantry crosses the Potomac.  The invasion has begun.

---In Virginia, Gen. Robert E. Lee starts the rest of his army on the march, as Longstreet’s I Corps begins its march from Culpeper, with Hood’s division in front.

---Several northern states respond to Pres. Lincoln’s call for 100,000 militia to help repel the expected Rebel invasion.  Maj. Gen. Darius Couch is to be given command of the militia units, east of the Susquehanna River.

---Gov. Thomas Curtin of Pennsylvania issues this public proclamation in impassioned rhetoric, calling upon all citizens to take up arms:

I now appeal to all the citizens of Pennsylvania who love liberty and are mindful of the history and traditions of their revolutionary fathers, and who feel that it is a sacred duty to guard and maintain the free institutions of our country, who hate treason and its abettors, and who are willing to defend their homes and their firesides, and do invoke them to rise in their might, and rush to the rescue in this hour imminent peril. The issue is one of preservation or destruction. It invokes considerations paramount to all matters of mere expediency; and all questions of local interest, all ties, social and political, all impulses of a personal and partisan character, sink by comparison into insignificance. It is now to be determined by deeds, and not by words alone, who are for us and who are against us. That it is the purpose of the enemy to invade our borders with all the strength he can command is now apparent. Our only dependence rests upon the determined action of the citizens of our free Commonwealth. I now, therefore, call upon the people of Pennsylvania capable of bearing arms to enroll themselves in military organizations, and to encourage all others to give aid and assistance to the efforts which will be put forth for the protection of the State and the salvation of our common country.

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