Wednesday, July 31, 2013

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

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