June 19, 1863
---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 28
---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 23
---Battle of Middleburg, Virginia: For the last three days, Gen. Pleasonton, commander of Hooker’s cavalry, has probed the Rebel cavalry screen so ably wielded by Jeb Stuart, and in a three-day series of sharp skirmishes near this town (starting with the rather bloody battle at Aldie), finally fails to penetrate that screen. As of this date, Gen. Hooker still has no clear idea of where Lee’s army is. In the heavy skirmishing today, Col. Gregg’s Union brigade is sent forward, dismounted, and they engage the Rebel troopers with competence, driving them back. Another Rebel brigade shows up, charges Gregg’s men, and more Union reinforcements are moved up. Finally, Gen. Stuart calls off the fight, and moves his troopers further west. This fight is a Union victory, but Gen. Pleasonton has not gained any useful intelligence for Hooker.
|Dismounted Federal troopers skirmish with Stuart's riders|
---Captain Charles Francis Adams, Jr., of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, writes in his journal of the ghastly losses his troopers suffered at the Battle of Aldie:
Middleburg, Va., 10 A.M. Friday, June 19, 1863
We were engaged at Aldie’s Gap day before yesterday and very roughly used. I went into action with ninety four men in my squadron and fifty seven in my Company and came out with between thirty and forty in my squadron and just twenty five in my Company. My Company lost thirty two out of fifty seven — nine killed, twelve wounded and eleven missing; the squadron loss was sixty one out of ninety four. All the killed were of my Company. My poor men were just slaughtered and all we could do was to stand still and be shot down, while the other squadrons rallied behind us. The men fell right and left and the horses were shot through and through, and no man turned his back, but they only called on me to charge. I could n’t charge, except across a ditch, up a hill and over two high stone walls, from behind which the enemy were slaying us; so I held my men there until, what with men shot down and horses wounded and plunging, my ranks were disordered and then I fell slowly back to some woods. Here I was ordered to dismount my men to fight on foot in the woods. I gave the order and the men were just off their horses and all in confusion, when the 4th N.Y. on our right gave way without a fight or an instant’s resistance, and in a second the rebs were riding yelling and slashing among us. Of course, resistance was impossible and I had just dismounted my squadron and given it to the enemy. For an instant I felt desperate and did n’t care whether I was captured or escaped, but finally I turned my horse and followed Curtis and Chamberlain in a stampede to the rear. Here I lost my missing men, for almost all my men were captured, though some afterwards escaped. In twenty minutes and without fault on our part I lost thirty two as good men and horses as can be found in the cavalry corps. They seemed to pick out my best and truest men, my pets and favorites. How and why I escaped I can’t say, for my men fell all around me; but neither I nor my horses was touched, nor were any of my officers or their horses. . . .
---On this date, the U.S. Congress admits West Virginia officially to the Union as the 35th state, ratifying Pres. Lincoln’s proclamation.
---John Lockwood writes of the departure of the 23rd New York State Militia (The Brooklyn 23rd), called up for duty in the emergency brought about by Lee’s invasion of the North. He offers a delightful and humorously tolerant vision of the pandemonium and spectacle surrounding the departure of troops (in their gray uniforms---common for militia units, even in the North) for what may become the battle front:
Thursday, 18th.—The Brooklyn Twenty-Third are ordered to assemble at their armory, corner of Fulton and Orange streets, at 7 o’clock, a.m., fully armed and equipped, and with two days’ cooked rations in their haversacks, to march at 8 o’clock precisely. The gallant fellows are up with the larks: a hundred last things are done with nervous haste; father and brother give and receive the parting brave hand-grip; mother and sister and sweetheart receive and give the last warm kiss; and with wet eyes, but in good heart, we set out for the rendezvous. There is remarkable promptitude in our departure. At the instant of 8 o’clock,—the advertised hour of starting,—the column is moving down Fulton street toward the ferry. . . . From the armory all the way down to the river it is a procession of Fairy-Land. The windows flutter with cambric; the streets are thronged with jostling crowds of people, hand-clapping and cheering the departing patriots; while up and down the curving street as far as you can see, the gleaming line of bayonets winds through the crowding masses—the men neatly uniformed and stepping steadily as one. Bosom friends dodge through the crowd to keep along near the dear one, now and then getting to his side to say some last word of counsel, or to receive commission to attend to some forgotten item of business, or say good-bye to some absent friend. As we make our first halt on the ferry-boat the exuberant vitality of the boys breaks out in song—every good fellow swearing tremendously, (but piously) to himself, from time to time, that he is going to give the rebels pandemonium, alternating the resolution with another equally fervid and sincere that he means to “drink” himself “stone-blind” on “hair-oil”. What connection there is in this sandwich of resolutions may be perhaps clear to the old campaigner. To passing vessels and spectators on either shore the scene must be inspiriting—a steamboat glittering with bayonets and packed with a grey-suited crowd plunging out from a hidden slip into the stream, and a mighty voice of song bursting from the mass and flowing far over the water. To us who are magna pars of the event, the moment is grand. Up Fulton street, New York, and down Broadway amid the usual crowds of those great thoroughfares, who waved us and cheered us generously on our patriotic way, and we are soon at the Battery where without halting we proceed on board the steamboat “John Potter” and stack arms. There is running to and fro of friends in pursuit of oranges and lemons—so cool and refreshing on the hot march—and a dozen little trifles with which haversacks are soon stuffed. One public-spirited individual in the crowd seizes the basket of an ancient orange-woman, making good his title in a very satisfactory way, and tosses the glowing fruit indiscriminately among the troops, who give him back their best “Bully Boy!” with a “Tiger!” added. Happy little incidents on every side serve to wile away a half hour, then the “all a-shore!” is sounded, the final good-bye spoken, the plank hauled in, and away we sail. (from Blue Gray Review: www.bluegrayreview.com)