Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 17, 1863

July 17, 1863

---Battle of Honey Springs, Oklahoma – The largest and most decisive of the war’s battles fought in the Indian Territory, this battle put an end to Confederate hopes that the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole) who occupy this territory would help the South dominate in the region west of the Mississippi, and thus threaten the western borders of the northern states, too.  Maj. Gen. James Blunt, always resourceful in the face of shortages and administrative indifference, was the first to raise black troops (in Kansas) and Indian troops for the Federal army.  He marches his small, 3,000-man division down to Fort Gibson in the Territory to make it a strong point, positioned as it was at the junction of the Neosho and Arkansas Rivers in northeastern Oklahoma.  Gen. Douglas Cooper, Confederate commander of the district, has two brigades---one of Texas troops and another of Indian troops, making nearly 5,700 men altogether---and is waiting at Honey Springs (about 20 miles to the southwest), a major Confederate supply depot, for Gen. Cabell to arrive from Ft. Smith with another 3,000 men.  Gen. Blunt gets wind of Cooper’s idea, and in spite of suffering from incephalitis, Blunt gets his 3,000 troops on the road to attack the Rebels first, before they can effect a junction with Cabell’s force.  With 250 mounted men and 4 cannon, Blunt first secures a crossing over the Arkansas River, and the rest of his force follows him.  He now has 3,000 infantry, 12 field pieces, and a few cavalry.  As he approaches Honey Springs along the Texas Road, he finds the Rebels arrayed for battle just east of Elk Creek. 

Map courtesy of Civil War Trust, www.civilwar.org

Army of the Frontier – Maj. Gen. James Blunt, comm.
    1st Brigade - Col William R. Judson
        2nd Indian Home Guard --- Lt Col Fred W. Schaurte
        1st Kansas Colored Infantry--- Col James M. Williams (w), Lt Col John Bowles
        6 Companies, 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry --- Capt Edward R. Stevens
    2nd Brigade - Col William A. Phillips
        6 Companies, 2nd Colorado Infantry --- Col Theodore H. Dodd
        1st Indian Home Guard --- Col Stephen H. Wattles
        Detachments of 6th Kansas Cavalry* --- Col William F. Campbell
    Artillery
        2nd Kansas Light Artillery
        1st Section --- Capt Edward Smith
        2nd Section --- Lt John P. Grassberger
        3rd Kansas Light Artillery* --- Capt Henry Hopkins

Blunt lines up his two brigades---one under Col. William Judson on the right, and another under Col. William Philips on the left, supported by 12 field guns.  On the Confederate side, Gen. Cooper had only 4 field guns, and three of these were 12-pounder howitzers, which fired only small loads at a limited range.  Cooper’s army was organized as follows:

First Brigade, Indian Troops, Brig. Gen. Douglas Cooper, comm.
    Texas Brigade - Col Thomas C. Bass
        20th Texas Cavalry (Dismounted) --- Col Thomas Coker Bass
        29th Texas Cavalry - Col Charles DeMorse (W)
        5th Texas Partisan Rangers--- Col Leonidas M. Martin
    Indian Brigade - Brig Gen Douglas Cooper
        1st Cherokee Mounted Rifles* --- Maj Joseph F. Thompson
        2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles# --- Lt Col James M. Bell
        1st Choctaw---Chickasaw Mounted Rifles --- Col Tandy Walker
        1st Creek --- Col Daniel N. McIntosh
        2nd Creek--- Col Chilly McIntosh
    Artillery & Cavalry
        Lee's Battery--- Capt Roswell W. Lee
        Scanland's Squadron Texas Cavalry --- Capt John Scanland
        Gillett's Squadron Texas Cavalry --- Capt L. E. Gillett

Cooper is at a disadvantage because nearly a fourth of his force lack serviceable weapons, and the Rebels’ powder supply is limited and of poor quality.  Some eyewitnesses claim that nearly half of the Rebels were not even engaged.  The battle commences with an artillery duel that lasts for over an hour, each side having only disabled one gun of the other.  Blunt has his cavalry dismount, and the battle turns into a seesaw firefight in the underbrush.  At one point, the Confederate superior numbers are put to use as they extend their right to flank the Federal left.  Blunt orders the 1st Kansas Colored to attack the Rebel center and capture their guns, and the black troops move forward and pour in a deadly volley fire.  But the 2nd Indian Home Guard, in the smoke and confusion, veers to the right and finds itself between the 1st Kansas and the Texans they were fighting.  Lt. Col. Bowles orders the Indians to retreat back into their position.  From the Confederate lines, it sounds and looks as if the Union troops are retreating, and they advance into what they hope is a disintegrating Union line; but as they hit the Union line, they find an established and solid battle line, and the Federal troops pour deadly volleys into the surprised Southerners.  The 20th Texas Cavalry takes especially heavy losses, and after the loss of their colors, the Confederate line begins to fall back.  Cooper moves his forces farther back to guard the Elk Creek bridge while his artillery is evacuated, and later, at the Honey Springs Depot itself, the Chickasaw and Choctaw troops, supported by Texas troopers, hold off the Federals long enough to cover the retreat.  The Rebels set fire to the depot, but Blunt’s men salvage much of the supplies.  The Rebels immediately march west, and---two hours after the battle is over---encounter Gen. Cabell and his reinforcements---who are too late.  The next day, July 18, Blunt marches his men back to Fort Gibson.  Union Victory. 
Losses:  U.S.  79           C.S.  637

Maj. Gen. James G. Blunt, USA

---Civil strife in the streets of New York is less severe, even as more troops arrive from the Army of the Potomac.

---Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles writes more in his journal concerning the denouement of Gettysburg and Vicksburg:

In a conversation with General Wadsworth, who called on me, I learned that at the council of the general officers, Meade was disposed to make an attack, and was supported by Wadsworth, Howard, and Pleasonton, but Sedgwick, Sykes, and the older regular officers dissented. Meade, rightly disposed but timid and irresolute, hesitated and delayed until too late. Want of decision and self-reliance in an emergency has cost him and the country dear, for had he fallen upon Lee it could hardly have been otherwise than the capture of most of the Rebel army.


The surrender of Port Hudson is undoubtedly a fact. It could not hold out after the fall of Vicksburg. We have information also that Sherman has caught up with and beaten Johnston.

July 16, 1863

July 16, 1863

---On this day, President Jefferson Davis of the Confederate States issues a decree that calls up all white men for military service: “all white men, residents of said States, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, not legally exempted from military service.”

---New York Draft Riots:  The New York Times reports on the horrendous destruction of the day in the city streets:

A Morning Riot in Thirty-second-Street.
THE MILITARY FIRE UPON THE MOB. 
Late on Tuesday night a raid was made by the mob on a number of negro dwellings situate on Thirty-second-street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues; these buildings were almost entirely demolished and several attempts were made to fire the whole vicinity. 
An unfortunate negro, who made an attempt to fly for his life from the fury of these persecutors, was caught and severely beaten with stones and bludgeons; the infuriated mob not satisfied with thus brutally mangling their victim, slipped a rope around his neck and hung him to a tree in the neighborhood, where he remained until quite an early hour this morning. 
About 9 o’clock yesterday morning, Capt. Morr, of the United States artillery, having been sent with a strong force to cut down the unfortunate negro, was met by the mob with the most persistent opposition. After requesting them to disperse, and being still menaced by the crowd, he ordered his men to fire; three rounds of grape were poured into them with fearful effect. When they dispersed, it was ascertained that upward of twenty-five had been killed and a number seriously wounded. 
Another negro was also hung by the mob in the forenoon, in Thirty-sixth-street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues.

 
The Sacking of the Colored Orphan's Asylum
---George Templeton Strong, writes of the trouble in the streets on this day and the effect of events on political sentiment in the city:

Rather quiet downtown.  No trustworthy accounts of riot on any large scale during the day.  General talk downtown is that the trouble is over.  We shall see.  It will be as it pleases the scoundrels who are privily engineering the outbreak---agents of Jefferson Davis, permitted to work here in New York. . . . Coming uptown tonight I find Gramercy Park in military occupation.  Strong parties drawn up across Twentieth Street and Twenty-first Streets at the east end of the Square. . . .

Never knew exasperation so intense, unqualified, and general as that which prevails against these rioters and the political knaves who are supposed to have set them going, Governor Seymour not excepted.  Men who voted for him mention the fact with contrition and self-abasement. . . . But we shall forget all about it before next November.  Perhaps the lesson of the last four days is still to be taught us still more emphatically, and we have got to be worse before we are better.  It is not clear that the resources of the conspiracy are yet exhausted.  The rioters of yesterday were better armed and organized than those of Monday, and their inaction today may possibly be meant to throw us off our guard. . . . They are in full possession of the western and eastern sides of the city, from Tenth Street upward, and of a good many districts beside.  I could not walk four blocks eastward from this house this minute without peril.  The outbreak is spreading by concerted action in many quarters.  Albany, Troy, Yonkers, Hartford, Boston, and other cities have each their Irish anti-conscription Nigger-murdering mob, of the same type with ours.  It is a grave business, a jacquerie that must be put down by heroic doses of lead and steel.


George Templeton Strong (center, standing) and associates

---Sec. of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his journal about the Draft riots:

July 16, Thursday. It is represented that the mob in New York is about subdued. Why it was permitted to continue so long and commit such excess has not been explained. Governor Seymour, whose partisans constituted the rioters, and whose partisanship encouraged them, has been in New York talking namby-pamby. This Sir Forcible Feeble is himself chiefly responsible for the outrage.

Then, concerning the escape of Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia back to friendly soil, Welles adds these doubts about Gen. Halleck’s relative capacities:
 
U.S. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles
Lee’s army has recrossed the Potomac, unmolested, carrying off all its artillery and the property stolen in Pennsylvania. When I ask why such an escape was permitted, I am told that the generals opposed an attack. What generals? None are named. Meade is in command there; Halleck is General-in-Chief here. They should be held responsible. There are generals who, no doubt, will acquiesce without any regrets in having this war prolonged.

In this whole summer’s campaign I have been unable to see, hear, or obtain evidence of power, or will, or talent, or originality on the part of General Halleck. He has suggested nothing, decided nothing, done nothing but scold and smoke and scratch his elbows. Is it possible the energies of the nation should be wasted by the incapacity of such a man?

---John Beauchamp Jones, a senior clerk at the Confederate War Department, writes gloomily in his journal concerning the recent reverses for the South:

JULY 16TH. —This is another blue day in the calendar. Nothing from Lee, or Johnston, or Bragg; and no news is generally bad news. But from Charleston we learn that the enemy are established on MorrisIsland, having taken a dozen of our guns and howitzers in the sand hills at the lower end; and that the monitors had passed the bar, and doubtless an engagement by land and by water is imminent, if indeed it has not already taken place. Many regard Charleston as lost. I do not. . . .

            Mr. Secretary Seddon, who usually wears a sallow and cadaverous look, which, coupled with his emaciation, makes him resemble an exhumed corpse after a month’s interment, looks to-day like a galvanized corpse which had been buried two months. The circles round his eyes are absolutely black! And yet he was pacing briskly backward and forward between the President’s office and the War Department. He seems much affected by disasters.


---Second Battle of Jackson, Mississippi – After two days of sporadic fighting, Sherman invests the city, preparing for a siege, and places over 200 cannon for that purpose.  Gen. Joseph Johnston decides that the city cannot be held, and decides to pull out, leaving behind the seriously wounded, 23,000 rounds of artillery ammunition, 1,400 muskets, and three large siege guns.  The Confederates, as they leave, destroy much of the city.  What is left is pillaged by Sherman’s troops as they enter.  Union Victory.


---On this day, Pres. Abraham Lincoln issues a proclamation establishing a national “day of thanksgiving” for the recent victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg:

Now, therefore, be it known that I do set apart Thursday, the 6th day of August next, to be observed as a day for national thanksgiving, praise, and prayer, and I invite the people of the United States to assemble on that occasion in their customary places of worship, and, in the forms approved by their own consciences, render the homage due to the Divine Majesty for the wonderful things He has done in the nation’s behalf, and invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion, to change the hearts of the insurgents, to guide the counsels of the Government with wisdom adequate to so great a national emergency, and to visit with tender care and consolation throughout the length and breadth of our land all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles, and sieges have been, brought to suffer in mind, body, or estate, and finally to lead the whole nation through the paths of repentance and submission to the Divine Will back to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace.

July 15, 1863

July 15, 1863

---George Templeton Strong of New York City distracts his attention to the rioting in his city by focusing on war news:


News from the South is consolatory.  Port Hudson surrendered.  Serhman said to have beaten Joseph Johnston somewhere near Vicksburg.  Operations commencing against Charleston.  Bragg seems to be abandoning Chattanooga and retiring on Atlanta.  Per contra, Lee has got safely off.  I thought he would. . . . Lots of talk and rumors about attacks on the New York Custom House. . . . Then called on Collector Barney and had another long talk with him.  Find him well-prepared with shells, grenades, muskets, and men, but a little timid and anxious, “wanting counsel,” doubtful about his rightr to fire on the mob, and generally flaccid and tremulous---poor devil! . . . What is worse, we were badly repulsed in an attack on the mob in First Avenue. . . . Fired upon from houses, nad had to leave sixteen wounded men and a Lieutenant Colonel Jardine in the hands of these brutes and devils.  This is very bad indeed. . . .
George Templeton Strong


---Sarah Morgan, of New Orleans, writes in her journal and describes her feelings of dread and disbelief at the disasters that have befallen the South:

Wednesday, July 15th.It is but too true; both have fallen. All Port Hudson privates have been paroled, and the officers sent here for exchange. Aye! Aye! I know some privates I would rather see than the officers! As yet, only ten that we know have arrived. All are confined in the Custom-House. Last evening crowds surrounded the place. We did something dreadful, Ada Peirce, Miriam, and I. We went down to the confectionery; and unable to resist the temptation, made a d├ętour by the Custom-House in hope of seeing one of our poor dear half-starved mule and rat fed defenders. The crowd had passed away then; but what was our horror when we emerged from the river side of the building and turned into Canal, to find the whole front of the pavement lined with Yankees! Our folly struck us so forcibly that we were almost paralyzed with fear. However, that did not prevent us from endeavoring to hurry past, though I felt as though walking in a nightmare. Ada was brave enough to look up at a window where several of our prisoners were standing, and kept urging us to do likewise. “Look! He knows you, Sarah! He has called another to see you! They both recognize you! Oh, look, please, and tell me who they are! They are watching you still!” she would exclaim. But if my own dear brother stood there, I could not have raised my eyes; we only hurried on faster, with a hundred Yankees eyes fixed on our flying steps.My friend Colonel Steadman was one of the commissioners for arranging the terms of the capitulation, I see. He has not yet arrived.• • • • • • • •
Dreadful news has come of the defeat of Lee at Gettysburg. Think I believe it all? He may have been defeated; but not one of these reports of total overthrow and rout do I credit. Yankees jubilant, Southerners dismal. Brother, with principles on one side and brothers on the other, is correspondingly distracted.

July 14, 1863

July 14, 1863

---Battle of Falling Waters, Maryland – In one more action of what has been a running fight for over a week, the cavalry division of Kilpatrick and Buford strike at withdrawing Confederate troops, and Kilpatrick captures over 500 Rebel troops from Henry Heth’s division who was fighting a rear-guard action.  In the fighting, Brig. Gen. James Johnston Pettigrew, a promising young officer whose division is covering the retreat (and who participated in Pickett’s Charge) is mortally wounded.


---George Michael Neese, a Confederate artilleryman from Virginia, gives his view of the completion of Lee’s retreat across the Potomac:


July 14 — General Lee abandoned his position near Hagerstown yesterday evening or last night, and by daylight this morning the greater part of his forces were on the Dixie side of the Potomac. Some of the troops waded the river, which was deep and rising, but the greater part of the army crossed on a pontoon that was thrown across the river at Falling Waters, four miles below Williamsport.


---Morgan’s troopers pass by Cincinnati and keep moving westward, their Yankee pursuers closing in on them.


---An article in the New York Times today, entitled, “Shall Ruffians Rule Us?”, offers an editorial sentiment on the Draft Riots:

The mob yesterday was unquestionably started on the basis of resistance to the draft. But that was a very small part of the spirit which really prompted and kept it in motion. It was, probably, in point of character the lowest and most ruffianly mob which ever disgraced our City. Arson, theft and cowardly ferocity seemed to be the animating impulse of a very large portion of the mass that composed it. We have never witnessed a more disgusting or more humiliating sight than was offered in every street which these gangs of outlaws tramped through with their hideous uproar. A large portion of them were mere boys, and their special delight seemed to be to hunt negroes. One would have supposed that every colored man, woman and child must be a wild beast — to judge from the savage and eager delight with which they were chased and beaten and stoned by these wretched brutes in human form. It seems inconceivable that so much of pure, unadulterated ferocity — so much of that clear, undiluted cruelty which feels a keen and ecstatic relish in the infliction of torture upon others for its own sake, can dwell in the human heart. . . . There is but one way to deal with this coarse brutality. It is idle to reason with it, — worse than idle to tamper with it; it must be crushed. Nothing but force can deal with its open manifestations. Unless this City is to be surrendered to the most lawless and reckless of mob rule, this riot which broke out yesterday, and which, beyond all question, will renew its outrages, must be put down by force.

The lynching of a negro in the New York Draft Riots

---George Templeton Strong writes in his journal of the day’s events:

Plenty of rumors throughout the day and evening, but nothing very precise or authentic.  There have been sundry collisions between the rabble and the authorities, civil and military.  Mob fired upon.  It generally runs, but on one occasion appears to have rallied, charged the police and militia, and forced them back in disorder. . . . Many details come in of yesterday’s brutal, cowardly ruffianism and plunder.  Shops were cleaned out and a black man hanged in Carmine Street, for no offence but that of Nigritude.  [Mayor] Opdyke’s house again attacked this morning by a roaming handful of Irish blackguards.  Two or three gentlemen who chanced to be passing saved it from sack by a vigorous charge. . . . I believe I dozed off a minute or two.  There came something like two reports of artillery, perhaps only falling walls.  There go two jolly Celts along the street, singing a genuine Celtic howl, something about “Tim O’Laggerty,” with a refrain of pure Erse.  Long live the sovereigns of New York, Brian Boroo redidivus and multiplied.  Paddy has left his Egypt---Connaught---and reigns in this promised land of milk and honey and perfect freedom.  Hurrah, there goes a strong squad of police marching eastward down this street, followed by a company of infantry with gleaming bayonets. . . .


---The Times also publishes this editorial on the mob attack on the offices of the New York Tribune, a competitor paper:

THE MOB AND THE PRESS.–The mob last evening broke the windows and demolished the furniture in the counting-room of the Tribune, and attempted to crown their infamous and fiendish ruffianism by setting the building on fire. The prompt arrival and vigorous action of a body of Police interrupted their proceedings, and deprived them of the pleasure of being as brutal as they had hoped and expected to be.

We have not always agreed with our neighbor on political topics, and have not deemed it wise on grounds of the public welfare to make Slavery and the negro so prominent in these discussions as the Tribune has done. But that is a matter concerning which judgments and tastes may differ. It is intolerable that a mob should undertake by violence and destruction of property to dictate topics for public discussion, or to control the sentiments and utterances of the public Press. When such an issue is forced upon journalists, they must make it their common cause.

We regret that the Tribune should have suffered in such a shape even the trifling loss which last night’s mob inflicted upon them. They had the aid of some among our employees in protecting their property, and shall have it again whenever the invidious favor of the mob shall again release us from the necessity of defending our own.


---Sec. of the Navy Gideon Welles writes in his journal of the President’s despair over the failure to pursue and destroy Lee:

The Cabinet-meeting was not full to-day. Two or three of us were there, when Stanton came in with some haste and asked to see the President alone. The two were absent about three minutes in the library. When they returned, the President’s countenance indicated trouble and distress; Stanton was disturbed, disconcerted. Usher asked Stanton if he had bad news. He said, “No.” Something was said of the report that Lee had crossed the river. Stanton said abruptly and curtly he knew nothing of Lee’s crossing. “I do,” said the President emphatically, with a look of painful rebuke to Stanton. “If he has not got all of his men across, he soon will.”

The President said he did not believe we could take up anything in Cabinet to-day. Probably none of us were in a right frame of mind for deliberation; he was not. He wanted to see General Halleck at once. Stanton left abruptly. I retired slowly. The President hurried and overtook me. We walked together across the lawn to the Departments and stopped and conversed a few moments at the gate. He said, with a voice and countenance which I shall never forget, that he had dreaded yet expected this; that there has seemed to him for a full week a determination that Lee, though we had him in our hands, should escape with his force and plunder. “And that, my God, is the last of this Army of the Potomac! There is bad faith somewhere. Meade has been pressed and urged, but only one of his generals was for an immediate attack, was ready to pounce on Lee; the rest held back. What does it mean, Mr. Welles? Great God! what does it mean?” . . . .

I can see that the shadows which have crossed my mind have clouded the President’s also. On only one or two occasions have I ever seen the President so troubled, so dejected and discouraged.


---Pres. Abraham Lincoln today writes a letter of stern rebuke to Gen. George G. Meade, whose army has failed to capture Lee’s army in a timely fashion---but does not send it.  It remains in his files.  The letter reads:

Executive Mansion,

Washington, July 14, 1863.

Major General Meade

I have just seen your despatch to Gen. Halleck, asking to be relieved of your command, because of a supposed censure of mine. I am very--very--grateful to you for the magnificent success you gave the cause of the country at Gettysburg; and I am sorry now to be the author of the slightest pain to you. But I was in such deep distress myself that I could not restrain some expression of it. I had been oppressed nearly ever since the battles at Gettysburg, by what appeared to be evidences that yourself, and Gen. Couch, and Gen. Smith, were not seeking a collision with the enemy, but were trying to get him across the river without another battle. What these evidences were, if you please, I hope to tell you at some time, when we shall both feel better. The case, summarily stated is this. You fought and beat the enemy at Gettysburg; and, of course, to say the least, his loss was as great as yours. He retreated; and you did not, as it seemed to me, pressingly pursue him; but a flood in the river detained him, till, by slow degrees, you were again upon him. You had at least twenty thousand veteran troops directly with you, and as many more raw ones within supporting distance, all in addition to those who fought with you at Gettysburg; while it was not possible that he had received a single recruit; and yet you stood and let the flood run down, bridges be built, and the enemy move away at his leisure, without attacking him. And Couch and Smith! The latter left Carlisle in time, upon all ordinary calculation, to have aided you in the last battle at Gettysburg; but he did not arrive. At the end of more than ten days, I believe twelve, under constant urging, he reached Hagerstown from Carlisle, which is not an inch over fifty five miles, if so much. And Couch's movement was very little different.

Again, my dear general, I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee's escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely. If you could not safely attack Lee last monday, how can you possibly do so South of the river, when you can take with you very few more than two thirds of the force you then had in hand? It would be unreasonable to expect, and I do not expect you can now effect much. Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably because of it.

I beg you will not consider this a prosecution, or persecution of yourself. As you had learned that I was dissatisfied, I have thought it best to kindly tell you why.

Yours very truly,

A Lincoln


July 13, 1863

July 13, 1863

The New York City Draft Riots

---In what will become the worst and most violent civil disturbance in United States history, riots begin spreading across the city, starting from the Five Points district and arising mostly out of unrest in the Irish populace and their dissatisfaction over the military draft, and the unwillingness of the working class to join the Army.  A mob of 3,000 to 4, 000 people attack the Provost Marshal’s office, where the drawing of names for the Draft is being done, and capture the lists and draft tickets, scattering and destroying them.  Then, they set fire to the buildings.  The mob begins to catch and lynch negroes, and they attack the Colored Orphan Asylum on Fifth Avenue, looting the facility of any valuables, and set fire to the building.  The firefighters are unable (or unwilling) to save the school.  The mob attacks the local Armory at Second Avenue and a battle with police commences there. The mob also attacks the offices of Horace Greeley' New York Tribune.  By 5:00 PM, the rioters have burned 7 buildings and killed 6 policemen, and attempt to murder Superintendent of Police Kennedy. 


---George Templeton Strong writes of the Riots in his journal, and how he goes walking to investigate:

Above Twentieth Street all shops were closed, and many people standing and staring or strolling uptown, not riotously disposed but eager and curious.  Here and there a rough could be heard damning the draft.  No policeman to be seen anywhere.  Reached the seat of war at last, Forty-sixth Street and Third Avenue.  Three houses on the avenue and two or three on the street were burned down; engines playing on the ruins---more energetically, I’m told, than they did when their efforts would have been useful.

   The crowd seemed just what one commonly sees at any fire, but its nucleus of riot was concealed by an outside layer of ordinary peaceable lookers-on.  Was told they had beat off a squad of police and another of “regulars”. . . . At last, it opened and out streamed a posse of perhaps five hundred, certainly less than one thousand, of the lowest Irish day laborers.  The rabble was perfectly homogeneous.  Every brute in the drove was pure Celtic---hod-carrier or loafer.  They were unarmed.  A few carried pieces of fence-paling and the like.  They turned off west into Forty-fifth Street and gradually collected in front of two three-story dwelling houses on Lexington Avenue, just below that street, that stand alone together on a nearly vacant block. . . . Some said a drafting officer lived in one of them, others that a damaged policeman had taken refuge there.  The mob was in no hurry. . . . After a while sporadic paving-stones began to fly at the windows, ladies and children emerged from the rear and had a rather hard scramble over a high board fence, and then scudded off across the open, Heaven knows whither.  Then men and small boys . . . began smashing the sashes and the blinds and shied out light articles, such as books and crockery, and dropped chairs and mirrors into the back yard; the rear fence was demolished and loafers were seen marching off with portable articles of furniture.  And at last a light smoke began to float out of the windows and I came away. . . .

   The fury of the low Irish women in that region was noteworthy.  Stalwart young vixens and withered old hags were swarming everywhere, all cursing the “bloody draft” and egging on their men to mischief. . . . If a quarter one hears to be true, this is an organized insurrection in the interest of the rebellion and Jefferson Davis rules New York today. . . .


   We telegraphed, two or three of us, from General Wool’s rooms, to the President, begging that troops be sent on and stringent measures taken.  The great misfortune is that nearly all our militia regiments have been despatched to Pennsylvania. . . . These wretched rioters have been plundering freely, I hear.  Their outbreak will either destroy the city of damage the Copperhead cause fatally.  Could we but catch the scoundrels who have stirred them up, what a blessing it would be!


---Morgan’s Rebel raiders raid and sack Harrison, Indiana, and later cross into Ohio this evening.


---Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle, of Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards, is visiting New York on his way home to Britain.  He happens to get a first-row seat to witness the New York riots:
I walked the whole distance of Broadway to the Consul's house, and nothing could exceed the apparent prosperity; the street was covered with banners and placards inviting people to enlist in various high-sounding regiments. Bounties of $550 were offered, and huge pictures hung across the street, on which numbers of ragged greybacks, terror depicted on their features, were being pursued by the Federals. 
On returning to the Fifth Avenue, I found all the shopkeepers beginning to close their stores, and I perceived by degrees that there was great alarm about the resistance to the draft which was going on this morning. On reaching the hotel I perceived a whole block of buildings on fire close by: engines were present, but were not allowed to play by the crowd. In the hotel itself, universal consternation prevailed, and an attack by the mob had been threatened. I walked about in the neighbourhood, and saw a company of soldiers on the march, who were being jeered at and hooted by small boys, and I saw a negro pursued by the crowd take refuge with the military; he was followed by loud cries of "Down with the b——y nigger! Kill all niggers!" &c.


---Col. Robert Gould Shaw, commander of the 54th Massachusetts Inf. Reg., writes to his wife Annie about the regiment’s transfer to James and Morris Island, near Charleston, South Carolina:

My Darling Annie,

Just after closing my last, on the envelope of which I said we were ordered away from St. Helena’s Island, we embarked on board the "Chasseur." We sailed at about 3 P.M., without anything but India-rubber blankets and a little hardbread, and arrived off Stono Inlet, near Charleston Harbour, at about one o’clock this morning. We lay off the bar until 1 P.M. waiting for the flood-tide. The sea was running very high all the time, so that the men were very sea-sick, and we had a decidedly uncomfortable day. . . .

July 10th—Still on board our transport. Last night, two regiments landed, but encountered nothing but a few outposts. General Terry’s part is only to make a feint, the real attack being on Morris Island from Folly. That began this morning, and the news from there is, that General Gillmore has got all his troops on Morris Island, and has possession of nearly half of it.

This afternoon I went inland about two miles, and from a housetop saw Fort Sumter, our Monitors, and the spires of Charleston. Just now the news of the fall of Vicksburg, and of Lee’s defeat has reached us. What an excitement there must be through the North! For my part, though, I do not believe the end is coming yet, and the next mail will probably tell us that Lee has got away with a good part of his army; there is too much danger of our government making a compromise, for peace to be entirely welcome now. I am very glad that McClellan was not restored to command, for such vacillation in the government would have been too contemptible. Every one can rejoice at Meade’s success, as he is as yet identified with no party. I hope the prisoners will not be paroled, for they will be in the army again in a month, if they are.

I found a classmate, to-day, on board the "Nantucket," surgeon there, and George Lawrence, of the class above me, paymaster on board the "Pawnee." They are both very nice fellows; particularly so, because they have invited me to dinner; having had hardly anything but hard-bread and salt-junk since we left camp, a good dinner is to be desired. . . .

Saturday evening — We landed at noon to-day, and are now about two miles inland. There are two Brigades in line in advance of us. I don’t think anything will be done on this side.

13th — Yesterday I dined with Lawrence on board the "Pawnee," and met some very pleasant men among the officers. It has been very fortunate for me to have found so many old acquaintances here, as it has been the means of my meeting a great many people who would have otherwise been disinclined to make the acquaintance of an officer commanding a black regiment.

Our men are out on picket with the white regiments, and have no trouble with them. One of my companies was driven in by a small force of Rebels last night, and behaved very well indeed. The Rebel pickets call to us, that they will give us three days to clear out. . . .

We have not had out clothes off since we left St. Helena, and have absolutely nothing but an India-rubber blanket apiece. Officers and men are in the same boat. I sent down to-day to get a clean shirt and a horse. They will not allow any accumulation of luggage here.

The general feeling is that Gillmore will get Charleston at last. . . .

Governor Andrew writes that he has urged the Secretary of War to send General Barlow here to take command of the black troops. This is what I have been asking him to do for some time.

We got some ham for dinner to-day, which is an improvement on salt-junk. I hope the mail will be allowed to go this time.

Good bye, dearest Annie.


Your loving Rob

July 12, 1863

July 12, 1863

---Gen. Meade does not lauch an all-out attack on Lee’s army, and on this night, after the Confederate engineers have assembled a new pontoon bridge, Lee’s troops begin to cross the Potomac. 

---George Templeton Strong writes in his journal of the latest war news and the reactions to the Draft:

Despatches in morning papers, though severally worthless, give on the impression when takne collectively that Lee is getting safely across the Potomac and back to Old Virginny’s shore,  bag and baggage, guns, plunder and all.  Whereupon the able editors begin to denounce Meade, their last new Napoleon, as incapable and outgeneralled. . . . People forget that an army of fifty thousand and upward cannot be bagged bodily unless its general be a Mack or a Dupont.  But I shall be disappointed if the rebels get home without a clawing.

Then, Strong turns to more immediate matters at home---the drawing of names for the Draft.  Strong prophetically sees trouble brewing on that front:


Draft has begun here and was in progress in Boston last week.  Demos [the masses] takes it good-naturedly thus far, but we shall have trouble before we are through.  The critical time will be when defaulting conscripts are haled out of their houses, as many will be.  That soulless politician, Seymour, will make mischief if he dare.  So will F’nandy Wood, Brooks, Marble, and other reptiles.  May they only bring their traitorous necks within the cincture of a legal halter!  This draft will be the experimentum cruces to decide whether we have a government among us.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 11, 1863

July 11, 1863

---On this date, the military draft selection process begins in New York City.  The New York Times reports on the beginning of the draft lottery, and gamely asserts, on the street, “that the almost universal expression is that of satisfaction and acquiescence in the wisdom and propriety of the measure.” 

---First Battle of Fort Wagner, South Carolina – Gen. Strong and his brigade are directed to launch an attack at Fort Wagner, and so Strong sends forward a force of four battalions—four companies each of the 7th Connecticut, the 76th Pennsylvania, and the 9th Maine.  The approach to the fort is a narrow strip of beach, and in a very few minutes, mounting casualties force the Federal force back, even though the Connecticut men had gained the top of the wall.  The Federals suffer 338 casualties, and the Rebels in the fort suffer only 12.

---C. Chauncy Burr, publisher of an anti-war magazine called the Old Guard in New York, writes an editorial on the impending military draft:

A new phrase has lately appeared in this country, very much as Satan’s face first appeared in Paradise.-It is “the war power,” as something above the Constitution, which is declared to be “the supreme law of the land.” It is a new doctrine in America. It was one of the reasons our fathers gave for rebelling against the King of England …

What is now by ignorant or designing people called the war power, or military law, is simply the absence of all law, and rests upon the same moral basis, as what is called Lynch law, or mob law. They depend upon the same arbitrary usurpation of power, in opposition to Constitution and statute. It depends solely on the will or caprice of the party by whom it is proclaimed and enforced. Until Mr. Lincoln’s election , no man imagined that it was ever to be put in force outside of the military camp …


---George Templeton Strong of New York City notes in his journal the improved picture of what happened at Gettysburg:

From negative evidence in appears that Lee’s retreat was no rout.  He shews a firm front at Williamsport and Hagerstown, seeking to recross the Potomac now in high freshet.  Meade is at his heels, and another great battle is expected. . . . I observe that the Richmond papers are in an orgasm of brag and bluster and bloodthirstiness beyond all historical precendent even in their chivalric columns.  That’s an encouraging sign.  Another is the unusual number of stragglers and deserters from Lee’s army.  Rebel generals, even when defeated, have heretofore kept their men well in hand.

The Gettysburg Campaign

---Gen. Lee concentrates his army around Falling Waters, near the Potomac, in anticipation of a Federal all-out assault.  There is continual skirmishing at all points of the line, as Meade probes to find a weak spot in the Rebel lines.  Rains continue.


---John Hay, one of Lincoln’s secretaries, notes in his journal:  "The President seemed in specially good humor today, as he had pretty good evidence that the enemy were still on the north side of the Potomac, and Meade had announced his intention of attacking them in the morning."

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 10, 1863

July 10, 1863

---Meade’s troops concentrate around Boonsboro, with the Rebel cavalry contesting their every move.  There is skirmishing on several fronts in the area today.

---George  Michael Neese, a Confederate artilleryman, writes in his journal of some of the skirmishing around Boonsboro, in which his battery took part:

The Yankees advanced again this morning on the National Road, and we moved about two miles below Funkstown and opened fire on their advancing cavalry. We did not hold our position very long, as the enemy had too many dismounted sharpshooters crawling up on us, and their long-range rifles rendered our position untenable for artillery, and we retired. . . . The Yankees advanced on us again, and we opened fire on them, and held our ground until we fired the very last round of ammunition we had; then we moved back across the Antietam.


---Gen. Meade, slowly moving in Lee’s wake, writes to his wife, and mentions some of the pressure he is getting from Washington:

I also see that my success at Gettysburg has deluded the people and the Government with the idea that I must always be victorious, that Lee is demoralized and disorganized, etc., and other delusions which will not only be dissipated by any reverse I should meet with, but would react in proportion against me. I have already had a very decided correspondence with General Halleck upon this point, he pushing me on, and I informing him I was advancing as fast as I could. The firm stand I took had the result to induce General Halleck to tell me to act according to my judgment. . . .


---Gideon Welles, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy, again frets about the sluggish pursuit of the Rebels, who are still stuck by high waters on the Maryland side of the Potomac:

July 10, Friday. I am assured that our army is steadily, but I fear too slowly, moving upon Lee and the Rebels. There are, I hope, substantial reasons for this tardiness. Why cannot our army move as rapidly as the Rebels? The high water in the river has stopped them, yet our troops do not catch up. It has been the misfortune of our generals to linger, never to avail themselves of success, —to waste, or omit to gather, the fruits of victory. Only success at Gettysburg and Vicksburg will quiet the country for the present hesitancy. No light or explanation is furnished by the General-in-Chief or the War Department.

---Sarah Morgan, now living behind Yankee lines in New Orleans, writes a most exasperated passage in her journal:

July 10th.
Shall I cry, faint, scream, or go off in hysterics? Tell me which, quickly; for to doubt this news is fine and imprisonment, and if I really believe it I would certainly give way to my feelings and commit some vagaries of the kind. My resolution is formed! . . . I’ll stand on my head if necessary, to prove my indifference; but I’ll never believe this is true until it is confirmed by stronger authority.

Day before yesterday came tidings that Vicksburg had fallen on the 4th inst. The “Era” poured out extras, and sundry little popguns fizzled out salutes. . . . O dear, noble men! I am afraid to meet them; I should do something foolish; best take my cry out in private now. May the Lord look down in pity on us!


---On this date, Gen. Gillmore near Charleston orders Gen. George Strong and his large brigade of 2,500 men to land on Morris Island.  Strong establishes a strong beachhead at the southern end of the island.