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."

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