Friday, August 30, 2013

August 30, 1863

August 30, 1863

—Near Shoal Ford, on the Arkansas River, Col. Ritter and his brigade of Federal cavalry attempt to force the crossing, with the 5th Arkansas Cavalry, under Col. Robert Newton, resisting the crossing, in a skirmish that lasts several hours. Gen. Frederick Steele, commanding the Union forces, is still trying to find a satisfactory approach to Little Rock.

—More of Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland crosses the Tennessee River, in the face of little resistance.

—Shelling Fort Sumter resumes, as the Confederates try to dig their guns out of the rubble when they can.

—By this date, the 9th Kansas Cavalry regiment, under a Lt. Col. Clark, has killed forty of the guerillas under Quantrill who participated in the Lawrence Massacre, after chasing Quantrill’s men through three counties.

An unnamed Union soldier

Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 29, 1863

August 29, 1863

---Federal cavalry regiments from Corinth, Mississippi, and from La Grange, Tennessee, have completed an extended raid into northern Mississippi where they destroyed railroad lines and facilities in Grenada and other locales.  The damage is reported in the Richmond Daily Dispatch:

In addition to the machinery, there were no less than forty locomotives and several hundred cars, passenger and freight, amounting in value to millions of dollars, a property invaluable and impossible to be replaced until the end of the war, when it can lend us no assistance in the one great object we have all at heart — our liberty and independence. The enemy appears to have been more fully aware of its importance to our interests than our own authorities. . . . It is difficult to look these stern facts in the face without a feeling of bitterness and a sickening lamentation for such important and irreparable losses — rather, sacrifices.

When the witnesses of the sad scene left, the work of destruction was still going on, and the flames were leaping high in the air from store-houses groaning beneath the weight of Government stores. Fifteen miles from the scene the blood-red light of the conflagration still gleamed in the sorrowful eyes of the observers. Not before to-day has Gen. [Stephen D.] Lee been able to concentrate his cavalry and threaten the vandals. . . .

---On this date, the troops of Maj. Gen. McCook’s XX Corps and Maj. Gen. Thomas’s XIV Corps begin crossing the Tennessee at three points downstream, with apparently little opposition.  Maj. Gen. Thomas Crittenden also begins crossing with his XXI Corps at one point upstream and north of Chattanooga.

—In Charleston Bay, the experimental CSS Hunley, a submarine vessel, sinks to the bottom with a five of her crew of nine drowning. But the vessel is quickly raised and work resumes on refining its navigational features and training a new crew.

August 28, 1863

---Chattanooga Campaign:  Gen. Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland (U.S.) have nearly completed bridges across the Tennessee River at three locations in northeastern Alabama, downstream from the city of Chattanooga.

---A letter co-authored by H.R. Donnell, Speaker of the House in the North Carolina legislature, and F.B. Satterthwaite, president of the Governor’s Council in that state---and with the approval of Gov. Vance---identifies and condemns the apparently false pretenses by which the “fire-eaters” and Secessionists used to bring the Southern states into rebellion.  This letter concludes that a peace based on mutual separation is no longer possible, due to recent reverses, and advocates a convention of the various Southern states in order to seek out any honorable peace:

So far from the wars ending in six months, as they said it would, should it ensue, it has already lasted more than two years, and if their policy is to be pursued, it will last more than two years longer; and notwithstanding their predictions, the Yankees have fought on many occasions with a spirit and determination worthy of their ancestors of the revolution. . . .

England and France have not recognized us–have not raised the blockade–have not shown us any sympathy, nor is there any probability that they ever will–and that cotton is not the king is now universally acknowledged. And Maryland has not joined the confederacy, nor has Kentucky or Missouri ever really been with us. Slavery has not only not been perpetuated in the states, nor extended into the territories, but Missouri has passed an act of emancipation, and Maryland is ready to do so rather than give up her place in the Union, and the best hope of obtaining one foot of the territories for the purpose of extending slavery has departed from the confederacy forever.

. . . So far, the Yankees have never failed to hold every place of importance which they have taken, and present indications are that Charleston will soon be added to the number. The campaign of Gen. Lee into Pennsylvania has undoubtedly proved a failure, and with it the last hope of conquering a peace by a successful invasion of the enemy’s country. Our army has certainly been very much weakened and dispirited y this failure and the fall of Vicksburg, and how long even Richmond will be safe, no one can tell.  As the Richmond Enquirer said some time ago, ‘They are slowly but surely gaining upon us, acre by acre, mile by mile,’ and unless Providence interposes in our behalf–of which I see no indications–we will, at no great distance of time, be a subjugated people.

---Sergeant Downing, of the 11th Iowa, adds in his journal of the expedition to Monroe, Louisiana, and how the Rebels did not put up a fight---and the comical results of a “foraging” expedition:

Friday, 28th—We had company inspection this morning and then started out for Monroe, expecting to have a little fight in taking the town. But upon reaching the place we found that the rebels had withdrawn, leaving at 6 o’clock in the morning. . . . Monroe is a nice town, well situated, and has some fine buildings. Strict orders had been given us not to kill any livestock on this expedition; all persons caught in the act were to be arrested. But some of the boys of our regiment had killed a hog and were in the act of cutting it up when the general of our division came riding along with his staff. The boys were caught in the very act. General Stephenson halted, and wanting to know by what authority they had killed the hog, he was going to have them arrested on the spot. But they had one fellow equal to the occasion, who explained that they had killed a wild hog. They were out in the timber getting wood with which to build fires, when some wild hogs there made a charge upon them, and in self-defense they had killed the boldest one; they then thought that as they had killed it they might as well bring it in and have some fresh pork. The general rode on.

August 27, 1863

August 27, 1863

---At Bayou Meto, east of Little Rock, Marmaduke and Gen. Walker receive a series of attacks from Gen. Davidson’s Federal cavalry.  The Yankees are rebuffed, and the Confederates fall back on Little Rock.  Gen. Steele and the rest of the Federal force approach Little Rock to follow up Davidson’s advance, in spite of nearly 1,000 of his men down sick from the summer heat and fevers.

---Sergeant Alexander P. Downing, of the 11th Iowa Infantry Regiment, writes in his journal of his division’s sortie into northern Louisiana, and the miseries of campaigning in the American South in the summer:

Thursday, 27th—Leaving our Oak Ridge bivouac early this morning we journeyed fifteen miles more and stopped for the night on the banks of Bayou Said, only seven miles from Monroe, our destination. During the day we crossed another ridge known as Pine Ridge, which is eight miles across and about twenty feet above the surrounding land. It is beautifully covered with yellow pine, growing so straight and tall, seventy-five to one hundred feet. We noticed a few small clearings with log huts. This is the worst bivouac we have yet occupied. It is full of poisonous reptiles and insects, centipedes, jiggers, woodticks, lizards, scorpions and snakes of all kinds—I have never seen the like. Some of the boys killed two big, spotted, yellow snakes and put them across the road—they measured about fifteen feet each. The ground is covered with leaves ten inches deep, and the water of the bayou has a layer of leaves and moss fully two inches thick.

From Daily Observations of the Civil War:

August 26, 1863

August 26, 1863

---The bombardment of Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, continues, although the fort is nearly in ruins and yet the garrison has not been significantly weakened thereby, except that none of the fort’s large guns are workable by this point.  The Rebels refuse to concede or evacuate.  The U.S. Navy begins to work at clearing the harbor channels of torpedoes, since Sumter cannot fire on the crews.  Fort Wagner, meanwhile, is the object of interest from Gen. Gillmore, the area’s Federal commander.  He orders an attack that captures the rifle pits in front of the fort, but the fort remains in Confederate hands.  However, both of these projects are postponed due to the advent of a fourth major hurricane of the season on the Carolina coast. 

---George Templeton Strong writes in his journal about the aftermath of the deadly Draft Riots in New York City in the month preceding:

It seems certain that the riot of July has damaged Seymour and his friends seriously in this city.  It has stirred up also a feeling against Irishmen more bitter and proscriptive than was displayed by the most thorough Native American partisans* in former times.  No wonder.  The atrocities those Celtic devils perpetrated can hardly be paralleled in the history of human crime and cruelty, and were without shadow of provocation or excuse.

---Harper’s Weekly publishes an editorial about the use of black troops:

THE magnificent behavior of the Second Louisiana colored regiment at Port Hudson recalls the fact that it is just two years since a warning, uttered in the columns of this journal, that if this war lasted we should arm the negroes, and use them to fight the rebels, was received with shrieks of indignation, not only at the South and in such semi-neutral States as Maryland and Kentucky, but throughout the loyal North and even in the heart of New England. At that time the bulk of the people of the United States entertained a notion that it was unworthy of a civilized or a Christian nation to use in war soldiers whose skin was not white. How so singular a notion could have originated, and how men should have clung to it in the face of the example of foreign nations and our own experience in the wars of 1776 and 1812, can only be explained by referring to the extraordinary manner in which for forty years slavery had been warping the heart and mind of the American people. A generation of men had grown up in awe of slavery, and in unchristian contempt of the blacks. And that generation declared that it would not have negro soldiers. . . .

---Pres. Lincoln, having been invited to a rally back home in Illinois in support of the Union (and against Emancipation), writes a gracious answer for his friend James Conkling to read to the assemblage, stating in return that he is unable to attend, addressing the issues of many Midwesterners’ dissatisfaction with Emancipation and Negroes serving in the army.  Among others, Lincoln makes these arguments:


MY DEAR SIR:—Your letter inviting me to attend a mass meeting of unconditional Union men, to be held at the capital of Illinois, on the 3d day of September, has been received. It would be very agreeable for me thus to meet my old friends at my own home, but I cannot just now be absent from here so long as a visit there would require.

The meeting is to be of all those who maintain unconditional devotion to the Union, and I am sure that my old political friends will thank me for tendering, as I do, the nation's gratitude to those other noble men whom no partisan malice or partisan hope can make false to the nation's life. . . .

A compromise, to be effective, must be made either with those who control the rebel army, or with the people, first liberated from the domination of that army by the success of our own army. Now allow me to assure you that no word or intimation from that rebel army, or from any of the men controlling it, in relation to any peace compromise, has ever come to my knowledge or belief. All charges and insinuations to the contrary are deceptive and groundless. . . .

But, to be plain: You are dissatisfied with me about the negro. Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between you and myself upon that subject. I certainly wish that all men could be free, while you, I suppose, do not. Yet, I have neither adopted nor proposed any measure which is not consistent with even your view, provided you are for the Union. I suggested compensated emancipation; to which you replied you wished not to be taxed to buy negroes. But I had not asked you to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such way as to save you from greater taxation to save the Union exclusively by other means.

You dislike the Emancipation Proclamation, and perhaps would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional. I think differently. I think the Constitution invests its commander-in-chief with the law of war in time of war. The most that can be said, if so much, is, that slaves are property. Is there, has there ever been, any question that by the law of war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken when needed? And is it not needed whenever it helps us and hurts the enemy?

But the proclamation, as law, either is valid or is not valid. If it is not valid it needs no retraction. If it is valid it cannot be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life. Some of you profess to think its retraction would operate favorably for the Union, why better after the retraction than before the issue? There was more than a year and a half of trial to suppress the rebellion before the proclamation was issued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an explicit notice that it was coming, unless averted by those in revolt returning to their allegiance. The war has certainly progressed as favorably for us since the issue of the proclamation as before. . . .

You say that you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you; but no matter. Fight you, then, exclusively, to save the Union. I issued the proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you shall have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time then for you to declare you will not fight to free negroes. I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do anything for us if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us they must be prompted by the strongest motive, even the promise of freedom. And the promise, being made, must be kept.

The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea. Thanks to the great Northwest for it; nor yet wholly to them. . . . Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay, and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time. It will then have been proved that among freemen there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet, and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their case and pay the cost. And there will be some black men who can remember that with silent tongue, and clinched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have helped mankind on to this great consummation; while I fear there will be some white ones unable to forget that with malignant heart and deceitful speech they have striven to hinder it.

Still, let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy, final triumph. Let us be quite sober. Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God, in His own good time, will give us the rightful result.

Yours very truly,


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 25, 1863

August 25, 1863

---Battle of Brownsville, Arkansas – West of Helena, Gen. Davidson’s 5,000 mounted Federals advance and clash with Gen. John Marmaduke’s 1,100 troopers at this place just east of Little Rock.  Marmaduke is defeated and driven off, but keeps Davidson at bay regardless.

---As a direct result of the Quantrill raid on Lawrence, Kansas, and directly in retaliation, Brig. Gen. Thomas Ewing, Jr., Federal commander of the military district in western Missouri, issues the infamous General Order No. 11, which depopulates four counties in order to deprive the Rebel guerillas of sympathy, shelter, and supplies:

All persons living in Jackson, Cass, and Bates counties, Missouri, and in that part of Vernon included in this district, except those living within one mile of the limits of Independence, Hickman's Mills, Pleasant Hill, and Harrisonville, and except those in that part of Kaw Township, Jackson County, north of Brush Creek and west of Big Blue, are hereby ordered to remove from their present places of residence within fifteen days from the date hereof.

August 23, 1863

August 23, 1863

---By this date, Gen. Joseph Johnston, in Mississippi, has been ordered to reinforce Bragg, and therefore dispatches two divisions--about 9,000 men--to Chattanooga.  Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, with just nearly 9,000 men, is ordered to fall back on Chattanooga, thereby conceding Knoxville to Burnside’s 15,000-man Army of Ohio (mostly the old IX Corps) advancing into eastern Tennessee.  Meanwhile, Gen. Rosecrans has positioned Thomas’s XIV Corps and McCook’s XX Corps to the southwest of Chattanooga, ready to strike across the mountain passes and hopefully get behind the Confederate army and the city—and he has placed Crittenden’s XXI Corps in position to cross the Tennessee north of the city, so as to draw Bragg’s attention in that direction (which, in fact, it does).

Map by Wikipedia

August 22, 1863

August 22, 1863

---Oliver Norton Willcox, a Union soldier in the 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry, writes home, commenting on the viciously hot weather in Virginia, the food, darftees and substitutes, and the new commander of the brigade:

Beverly Ford, Va.,
August 22, 1863.

Dear Parents:—
I received a piece of paper from E. a few days since, saying that he had received my letter and would answer it soon. The answer has not come yet. The envelope contained the perfumery I sent for, and, if it is not effectual, I don’t know of anything that would be. Fortunately, I am not troubled with the “crumbs” now. All the men who ever are rid of them are so now. A good boiling does the business, but there are some who would be lousy if they had every convenience and a year’s time, and just as soon as we start on a march again they will be all over. “All is quiet on the Rappahannock” yet. The hot weather paralyzes both armies, but lying still they are gaining. The flies are so troublesome that horses do not gain so fast as they would in cooler weather, but they still improve some. Many of the cavalry regiments and batteries are getting new horses.

The commissary is issuing soft bread two days out of three, nice fresh bread, too, and, oh, if we had some butter! He issues small rations of potatoes and dried apples occasionally, and dessicated vegetables. I presume you have never seen any of this last. It is in square cakes an inch thick and seems to consist of potato, carrot, turnip, onion, cabbage, red pepper, etc., scalded and then pressed and dried. I am confident that if we could learn how to cook it we should like it. We are all hungry for vegetables, but I cannot cook it nor have I seen any one who could so that it will be good. We have put in fresh beef and made soup of it, and we have boiled it down dry and tried it every way we can think of, and don’t succeed yet. The fault seems to be that each vegetable loses its individual flavor in the cooking and all blend together in a nondescript sort of a dish that isn’t good a bit.

The principal topics of news in camp are the arrival of the conscripts and the departure of Colonel Rice. Captain Judson came down from Philadelphia this week with two hundred men for the Eighty-third, and he has gone back for more. Of the two hundred but three men, so they say, were drafted. All the rest are substitutes, and most of them two years and nine months men. They seem to be pretty hard nuts. They are very quiet here, but Captain Judson says they had quite a tendency to get lost on their way down.

Colonel Rice’s “eagles” have been setting a good while, and the other morning on waking he found they had hatched a pair of “stars” and “marching orders” to report in Baltimore, and with many thanks to the eagles he proceeded to obey immediately. The senior officer of the brigade now is Colonel Chamberlain of the Twentieth Maine, a former professor in a college and a very fine man, though but little posted in military matters. He is absent now on sick leave, though about to return, I hear.

---The gunboats USS Reliance and the USS Satellite are captured by the Confederate Navy just off the mouth of the Rappahannock River.

August 21, 1863

August 21, 1863

---The Lawrence Massacre – William Quantrill and 450 Confederate raiders ride into Lawrence, Kansas, equipped with lists of abolitionists and Unionists who were slated to be executed.  Quantill, an Ohio native and former resident of Lawrence, rides his men into a camp of Union army recruits and tramples 17 of them to death under the hooves of their horses, and injure 5 more.  Indiscriminate killing ensues, and both white and black men are murdered without mercy.  By mid-morning, up to 200 men and boys were murdered, many more wounded, and over 100 buildings burned.  Jim Lane, the notorious abolitionist leader of Kansas, and a killer of Southerners himself, escapes Quantrill’s dragnet.  Federal troops pursue, and burn the homes of any suspected sympathizers with the Rebel guerillas.

Quantrill's men sack Lawrence, Kansas
---Gen. Quincy Gillmore, commander of Union troops besieging Charleston, sends a message to Gen. Beauregard, the Rebel commander, that Morris Island and Fort Sumter must be surrendered, or the Yankees will open fire with guns that can reach the center of the city.  The “Swamp Angel”, an 8-inch Parrott Rifle, could throw an incendiary shell over 4 miles from its battery location into the center of the city, which it began to do this day.  Gen. Beauregard sends a message to Gillmore, condemning the act of the Federal commander for “turning your guns against the old men, the women, and children, and the hospitals of a sleep city, an act of inexcusable barbarity. . . .”  However, the Swamp Angel blew out its own breech with its 36th shot.

---Near Chattanooga, Tennessee, an advance unit of Federal troops under Col. John Wilder opens up with artillery from across the river and begins shelling the city of Chattanooga.  Wilder’s guns destroy two steamers at their moorings at the city wharf.  Gen. Bragg returns late this evening from a trip into Georgia, apparently surprised to find the Yankees on his doorstep.

August 20, 1863

August 20, 1863

---In Kansas, guerilla leader Captain William C. Quantrill and 450 pro-Confederate partisan rangers ride to the outskirts of Lawrence, Kansas, the most anti-slavery and Unionist town in the state.

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 18, 1863

August 18, 1863

---John Beauchamp Jones, of the Confederate War Department, notes the latest news from the Coastal War in South Carolina:

AUGUST 18TH.—There is heavy firing, day and night, on Wagner’s battery and Fort Sumter. The enemy use 15-inch guns; but Sumter is 4000 yards distant, and it may be hoped will not be reduced.

---This afternoon, Pres. Lincoln meets Christopher M. Spencer, inventor of the Spencer Repeating Rifle, and walks to Treasury Park, accompanied by his son Robert, Mr. Spencer, and secretary John Hay, for a test shooting of the new weapon.  He recommends it to the Army.

Union cavalryman loading a Spencer with a tube magazine through the stock

August 17, 1863

August 17, 1863

--- Siege of Charleston -- Today, after months of preparation, Federal guns open fire in a massive siege campaign against Charleston, in an effort to capture the city or at least the fortifications surrounding it.  Maj. Gen. Quincy Adams Gillmore commands the U.S. Army forces and the ground-based artillery; Admiral John  A. Dahlgren commands the U.S. Navy fleet (seven ironclads and six wooden warships) operating in cooperation at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. 

Inside Fort Sumter during the Union bombarment
The principal goals are the seizure of Charleston itself, Fort Sumter, and Morris Island (the location of Fort Wagner, which the tragic assault of the 54th Massachusetts had failed to capture).  Federal batteries on other part of Morris Island and other locations, at 5:00 AM, begin to shell the Rebel fortifications in a concerted effort.  Dahlgren’s gunboats move in close to Fort Wagner and open fire.  Federal artillery fire does great damage to the walls of Fort Sumter, after firing over 900 shots at it, disabling seven of the fort’s guns.  The Navy hammers Fort Wagner so heavily that the fort’s guns all fall silent---some of them disabled, and the rest abandoned as the crews seek shelter in the fort’s bombproofs.

---An interesting look into the President’s private life, such as it is:  Pres. Abraham Lincoln confesses himself not much of a theater fan, although he writes this letter to actor James Hackett, whose role as Falstaff Lincoln enjoyed, and hopes to see more:



MY DEAR SIR:—Months ago I should have acknowledged the receipt of your book and accompanying kind note; and I now have to beg your pardon for not having done so.

For one of my age I have seen very little of the drama. The first presentation of Falstaff I ever saw was yours here, last winter or spring. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay is to say, as I truly can, I am very anxious to see it again. Some of Shakespeare’s plays I have never read, while others I have gone over perhaps as frequently as any un-professional reader. Among the latter are Lear, Richard III., Henry VIII., Hamlet, and especially Macbeth. I think nothing equals Macbeth. It is wonderful.

Unlike you gentlemen of the profession, I think the soliloquy in Hamlet commencing “Oh, my offense is rank,” surpasses that commencing “To be or not to be.” But pardon this small attempt at criticism. I should like to hear you pronounce the opening speech of Richard III. Will you not soon visit Washington again? If you do, please call and let me make your personal acquaintance.

Yours truly,


---Christopher M. Spencer meets Pres. Lincoln at the White House and presents him with a complimentary Spencer Rifle, a repeater that is his own invention.

---David Lane of the 17th Michigan Infantry, recently from the Vicksburg Campaign, are now in Nicholasville, Kentucky.  Lane comments on some of the habits of Kentuckians:

Their manners, forms of speech and customs all point to past ages. They are very loyal and very friendly when sober, but when filled with corn whiskey, hypocrisy and self-interest take a back seat, and they speak their real sentiments with a frankness and fluency that is not at all flattering to us “Yanks.” From what I have seen, I conclude all Kentuckians drink whiskey. There are distilleries in every little town, where the “genuine article” is turned out. I called at a farm house one day for a drink of water. The good woman was catechising her son—a lad of ten or twelve years—about ten cents she had given him with which to buy some little notion at the store. She gave me a drink of water, then, turning to the young hopeful, angrily inquired, “But where’s that ten cents I gave you?” “I guv five cents to Bill.” “Where’s the other five?” “Bought my dram with it.” The explanation appeared satisfactory.

---The steamer Nita, a Rebel blockade runner, is captured by the USS DeSoto while trying to run the blockade.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August 16, 1863

August 16, 1863

---John Beauchamp Jones, of Richmond, a clerk in the War Department of the Confederate States, writes in his journal about the scarcity of food and other privations being endured by the Southern populace.  He tells of one planter in Mississippi who petitions Pres. Davis to end the war.  Jones also talks about his garden---a very necessary pastime:

I often wonder if, in the first struggle for independence, there was as much suffering and despondency among certain classes of the people as we now behold. Our rich men are the first to grow weary of the contest. Yesterday a letter was received by the Secretary of War from a Mr. Reanes, Jackson, Mississippi, advising the government to lose no time in making the best terms possible with the United States authorities, else all would be lost. He says but a short time ago he was worth $1,250,000, and now nothing is left him but a shelter, and that would have been destroyed if he had not made a pledge to remain. He says he is an old man, and was a zealous secessionist, and even now would give his life for the independence of his country. But that is impracticable—numbers must prevail—and he would preserve his wife and children from the horrors threatened, and inevitable if the war be prolonged. He says the soldiers that were under Pemberton and Lovell will never serve under them again, for they denounce them as traitors and tyrants, while, as they allege, they were well treated by the enemy when they fell into their hands.

Yet it seems to me that, like the Israelites that passed through the Red Sea, and Shadrach and his brethren who escaped unscorched from the fiery furnace, my family have been miraculously sustained. We have purchased no clothing for nearly three years, and had no superabundance to begin with, but still we have decent clothes, as if time made no appreciable change in them. I wear a hat bought four years ago, and shoes that cost me (government price then) $7.50 more than a year ago, and I suppose they would sell now for $10; new ones are bringing $50.

My tomatoes are maturing slowly, but there will be abundance, saving me $10 per week for ten weeks. My lima beans are very full, and some of them will be fit to pull in a few days. My potatoes are as green as grass, and I fear will produce nothing but vines; but I shall have cabbages and parsnips, and red peppers. No doubt the little garden, 25 by 50, will be worth $150 to me. Thank Providence, we still have health!

But the scarcity—or rather high prices, for there is really no scarcity of anything but meat—is felt by the cats, rats, etc., as well as by the people. I have not seen a rat or mouse for months, and lean cats are wandering past every day in quest of new homes.

What shall we do for sugar, now selling at $2 per pound? When the little supply this side of the Mississippi is still more reduced it will probably be $5! It has been more than a year since we had coffee or tea. Was it not thus in the trying times of the Revolution? If so, why can we not bear privation as well as our forefathers did? We must!

---Confederate artilleryman George Michael Neese, on duty in the Shenandoah Valley, writes dispiritedly in his journal:

August 16 — The second section relieved the first this evening. I am still on the sick list, and feel sickish, bad, and dull; broke-upness is creeping and crawling all over me, the zest and vivacity that render camp life worth living have both gone on a scout and left me dispirited and languid.

---Captain Josiah Marshall Favill, of Gen. Caldwell’s staff, engages in brigade inspection on behalf of the division commander, and on this day visits the famous Irish Brigade’s camp:

August 16th. Sunday morning, immediately after breakfast, four officers were detailed from the staff to inspect the several brigades, notice of which had been given to their commanders. I was ordered to the Irish brigade, Colonel Kelly commanding, a painstaking, competent, and excellent officer. I followed my instructions closely, and made the most critical inspection of arms, accoutrements, contents of knapsacks, and of the three days’ supply of rations supposed to be in the men’s haversacks, subsequently of company quarters. I was surprised to find the brigade in such excellent condition, and made a very favorable report; after the inspection I accepted an invitation to the colonel’s quarters, and was regaled with champagne and fine cigars; there were, of course, all the regimental commanders present and we had an agreeable half hour. They are a brilliant lot of soldiers, and jolly boon companions.

---A Rebel blockade runner, the Alice Vivian, is captured today by the USS De Soto, commanded by Capt. William Walker.

---Kate Cumming, a nurse in a Confederate army hospital in the northern Georgia countryside, writes in her journal of a sermon on the Sabbath, and her thoughts about the divisions and strife in sectarian Christianity:

Sunday, August 16.—To-day Dr. Quintard preached twice. As our chapel is not yet up, he had service under a large oak tree. In the morning his text was one I had heard him preach from in Chattanooga: “We are journeying on to the place of which the Lord hath said, I will give it you.” He asked me before preaching if I would object hearing it again. I told him, on the contrary, that I would be much pleased.

As the text is taken from Numbers, which is a history of the children of Israel and their wanderings, a more appropriate one to the scene before us, could not have been selected. Here we were, wanderers, pitching our tents, wo know not for how long. Nearly every patient in the hospital was there; among them the lame and the halt. The tents in the distance, and God’s messenger before us, delivering God’s commands, as Moses and Aaron did to the children of Israel, could not but be an impressive scene. It struck me as such, and I have no doubt many others who were there. O, how earnestly I prayed that we, with all the warning of that unhappy race before us, might not forget the Lord our God, and he cast us wanderers over the earth.

Mr. Green, our chaplain, sat with Dr. Q., and I observed he did not assist him with the service. This caused me to reflect on the diversity of the Christian religion, and I thought what a pity it is that there should be any difference about it.

I do not think that any one will deny the necessity of having a stable government in the church. Surely, as in every thing else, God has made order predominant. He never meant that his church should be without it.  Who can not see the evil effects produced by the many different sects which are constantly springing up around us? . . .

Many say, were not the apostles ignorant men? forgetting that they were so, like all others, until they were taught. They had no mean teacher; none less than our blessed Savior himself, who instructed them daily. And even then their education was not completed until the day of Pentecost, when a miracle was performed, and they spake in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. We have no miracles now-adays, but we have colleges and teachers, which answer the same purpose.

But I must drop this subject, it has carried me much further than I had any idea of going. I was only deploring this state of affairs, and wondering which body of Christians ought to yield. I must think, with religion, as with many other things, that which is the most stable and makes most use of the Bible, must certainly be the best. . . . I am so much rejoiced when a man tells me he is a professor of religion, and trying to be a follower of the lowly Jesus, that I never think or care of which Christian church he is a member. . . .

August 15, 1863

August 15, 1863

---The Chickamauga Campaign -- At long last, after much prodding and cajoling from Washington, Maj. Gen. William Starke Rosecrans begins to move his Army of the Cumberland in the final leg of maneuvers designed to force Bragg and the Army of Tennessee out of Chattanooga.  This plan has already partially worked, since Bragg has already moved some of his troops down into Georgia.  Chattanooga, the most crucial rail hub on the most viable rail route over the Appalachians, is on the Tennessee River in a bowl of a valley surrounded by mountains, and Bragg knows that the army that gets trapped in there will have very few choices for maneuver or retreat.  Today, Rosecrans issues orders for all three of his infantry corps, two divisions of cavalry, and reserve units to advance on a variety of routes through the mountains of Tennessee and northern Alabama, in hopes of encircling Bragg’s Rebels completely.

Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland, about 60,000 strong, is organized as follows:

XIV Corps:  Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, almost 23,000 men in 4 divisions:
Brig. Gen. Absalom Baird
Maj. Gen. James S. Negley
Brig. Gen. John M. Brannan
Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds

XX Corps:  Maj. Gen. Alexander McD. McCook, with over 13,156 men in 3 divisions:
Brig. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis
Brig. Gen. Richard W. Johnson
Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan

XXI Corps:  Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden, with 14,660 men in 3 divisions:
Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood
Maj. Gen. John M. Palmer
Brig. Gen. Horatio P. Van Cleve

Reserve Corps:  Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, with 7,372 men in two divisions:
Brig. Gen. James B. Steedman
Col. Daniel McCook (one brigade)

Cavalry Corps:  Brig. Gen. Robert B. Mitchell, with 10,078 men in 2 divisions:
Brig. Gen. George Crook
Col. Edward M. McCook

Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, with his old IX Army Corps, is put in command of the Department of East Tennessee, and is beginning his advance from Kentucky down into the Appalachians, through the Cumberland Gap, and down into the Tennessee River Valley, with the object of capturing Knoxville and liberating the mostly-Unionist population of East Tennessee from Confederate repression.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 14, 1863

August 14, 1863

---A Mr. A. T. Bowie writes to Gen. Ransom of the behavior of Union forces on the lower Mississippi River, telling of the depredations of the “Marine Brigade”---Army troops who operate Brig. Gen. Ellet’s curious squadron of river gunboats which had won the naval Battle of Memphis the preceding year.  Apparently, the foraging activities of these men has devolved into sacking and pillaging:

That on or about the 21st of July a company of marine cavalry (styling themselves of the authority of the United States, and whose play was their booty) landed at Judge Perkins’, or Ashwood Landing, La., dashed around Lake St. Joseph, inquiring for Mr. John Routh. On reaching his plantation demanded from him, first, his arms, which were given them. They then burst open a barrel of whisky, made all of the negroes drunk, and in that way learned where his valuables were, consisting of silver-ware, liquors, meats, clothes, table and house linen, and even scuffled with him for his purse. They took the amount of $25,000 worth of property-$15,000 of silver-ware,and perhaps the largest and most valuable private collection of table and house linen in the southern country.

Mr. Routh is an old man of nearly seventy years; had his house, gin, barn stables, and everything burned last spring at the [time the] others on the lake had lost their property. These marines also threatened to take him prisoner; did take his grandson, Mr. Andrew S. Routh, prisoner, who is now, it is said, in jail at Vicksburg. Andrew had not been in jail at Vicksburg. Andrew had not been in the army since last April; has been with his grandfather assisting him in taking care of his property. He had been ordered back to Colonel Harrison’s regiment, but determined to put in a substitute, in order that he might remain with his grandfather, and this was his position at the time he was taken off by Ellet’s marines. Mr. Routh is all alone, and wishes Andrew to live with him.

General Grant is informed of the incident, and in a letter to his adjudant-general, gives order to “beach” the Marine Brigade and to turn their boats over to the transport service.  Grant adds that he believes it “highly probable the charges brought against the Marine Brigade are exaggerated. But that this conduct is bad, and their services but very slight in comparison to the great expense they are to Government and the injury they do, I do not doubt.”

---Gen. Meade confers upon Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren the command of the II Corps of the Army of the Potomac, due to the severe wounding of Winfield S. Hancock at Gettysburg.

---Ephraim Shelby Dodd, of Co. D of Terry’s Texas Rangers (8th Texas Cavalry Regiment), writes in his diary of life in camp in Georgia, as part of Bragg’s Army of Tennessee:

Thursday, 6th, to Friday, 14th—Nothing but roll call, inspection, dress parades and drill. We are living high on peach pie. I have made a few acquaintances, but don’t find the hospitality that we did in Tennessee.

Troopers from the 8th Texas Cavalry - Terry's Texas Rangers

---Captain Josiah Marshall Favill, a young English immigrant in the Union army, now serves on the staff of Gen. Caldwell, who commands a division in the Army of the Potomac.  Favill is given the post of the division’s judge advocate, and all criminal cases are tried before him.  Here, in his diary, he details the proceedings of the courts, and describes the melancholy details of a military execution:

I entered upon the duties of division judge advocate immediately, and soon became fascinated. All courts martial sitting in the division, are detailed and organized through my office. I make the selection of officers and the adjutant general details them. We have now three courts in operation, one of which I serve as judge advocate. . . . It is surprising how many delinquents there are in the army. The Irish brigade is a great sinner in this respect. . . . A military execution is a very solemn and impressive pageant. The doomed man marches to his own funeral, to the solemn music of the band, in presence of the whole command. In the two cases mentioned above, the utmost pomp and display was made, to render the executions as impressive as possible. The whole division paraded in full dress, and in column of division, marched upon the ground following the prisoner, led by the band, playing the “Dead march” in Saul. A squad of men from the provost guard immediately followed, then four men carrying the coffin on their shoulders, with the prisoner walking close behind, his buttons and regimental insignia stripped from his clothing; a few files of men with muskets loaded, and bayonets fixed, marched directly in rear of him, the firing party under command of the provost marshal. Then follows with arms reversed, the entire command, marching in step to the solemn cadence of the music. Arriving upon the field, the troops form three sides of a square, while the band, prisoner and provost guard march directly forward to the unoccupied side of the square, halting before a grave already dug. The bands wheel out of line, the bearers of the coffin place it on the ground, close by the new made grave, the prisoner is marched up and seated on the coffin, while the firing party halt a few paces in rear. Then the adjutant general advances and reads the proceedings of the trial, the sentence, and the confirmation of the general-in-chief. Immediately afterwards the prisoner is blindfolded, still sitting on his coffin, and the command is given to “Aim! Fire!” and the lifeless body of the unfortunate soldier falls over, invariably dead. It is certainly an awful and solemn duty, yet necessary for the safety of the forces. The execution over, the bands strike up a lively air, and at a quick step the troops march back to their camps.

August 13, 1863

August 13, 1863

---George Templeton Strong, of New York City, ponders in his journal the irony of the immigrant Irish in the city opposing the war and the Negro, who has been badly treated in America, supporting it.  It is interesting to note that his use of the “N” word does not seem to carry with it the disdain that the word usually signifies:

Nigger recruiting prospers.  Rumors of a Corps d’Afrique to be raised here.  Why not?  Paddy, the asylum-burner, would swear at the dam Naygurs, but we need bayonets in Negro hands if Paddy is unwilling to fight for the country that receives and betters him in his poverty and transmutes him into an alderman and a wealthy citizen.  If he back out, let us accept, with contrition and humiliation, the services of this despised  and rejected race, and be thankful that it is willing to enlist in the cause of a nation from which it has received only contumely and persecution.

---In Arkansas, Gen. Sterling Price, now the ranking field commander for the Confederacy in that state, announces his intention to launch a campaign that would sweep the Yankees from Arkansas and invade up into Missouri.  Gen. Frederick Steele, the Union commander of troops along the White River, east of Little Rock, plans a counteroffensive, until the Federals learn that Price is more brag than bite.  Desertion has been plaguing the Confederate forces in the Trans-Mississippi area, especially since the fall of Vicksburg has cut them off from the eastern states.  Gov. Flannagan of Arkansas puts out a call to all able-bodied men to report for military service, hardly anyone heeds the call.  Steele advances his troops from Helena, and Rebel bases at Jacksonport and Clarendon are abandoned without anyone firing a shot.  Steele stops at the White River, content that Price is not, in fact, launching an invasion with his skeleton crew.

---On this date, three Union gunboats---the Lexington, Cricket, and Mariner, ascend the White River in Arkansas, and take the Rebel gunboats Tom Suggs and Kaskaskia, as well as destroying some mills and a bridge.

---Oliver Willcox Norton, of the 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry, writes home and relates a humorous incident about the commander of his brigade:

Beverly Ford, Va., Thursday, August 13, 1863.
Dear Mother:—

I received your letter of the 5th night before last. Yesterday it was so hot that I could not write or do anything else but lie in the shade and sweat. I don’t know where the mercury stood, but I think it must have been above 100. It was as hot as any day we had on the Peninsula except one. Last night we had a furious thunder storm. The ground was completely soaked and I had fun enough this morning to last me a week.

Yesterday Colonel Rice had a large force of men putting up booths or shades of poles and brush over the tents. This morning they all fell down one after another and smashed down the tents. The colonel’s was the first, just about daylight. He came crawling out under the edge sans everything but shirt. He came in such a hurry that he could not keep his perpendicular and went sprawling in the mud. Then Lieutenant Grannis’ tent came down and he came out in the same cool dress like a mouse from a shock of corn.

---Mr. Theodore Wagner, of Charleston, South Carolina, in concern for that besieged city, offers a $100,000.00 reward to stir some enterprise toward sinking the USS New Ironsides, the USS Wabash, or $50,000.00 for “one of the monitors.”

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 1863

August 12, 1863

---A newspaper called the Missouri Democrat reports on rumors of the mistreatment of black troops captured by the Rebels of the torture and mutilation of white officers who had commanded black troops in battle:


The following is given us upon the authority of Lieutenant Cole, of the Mississippi Marine Brigade:

The day after the battle of Milliken’s Bend, in June last, the Marine Brigade landed some 10 miles below the Bend, and attacked and routed the guerrillas which had been repulsed by our troops and the gunboats the day previous. Major Hubbard’s cavalry battalion, of the Marine Brigade, followed the retreating rebels to Tensas Bayou, and were horrified in the finding of skeletons of white officers commanding negro regiments, who had been captured by the rebels at Milliken’s Bend. In many cases these officers had been nailed to the trees and crucified; in this situation a fire was built around the tree, and they suffered a slow death from broiling. The charred and partially burned limbs were still fastened to the stakes. Other instances were noticed of charred skeletons of officers, which had been nailed to slabs, and the slabs placed against a house which was set on fire by the inhuman demons, the poor sufferers having been roasted alive until nothing was left but charred bones. Negro prisoners recaptured from the guerrillas confirmed these facts, which were amply corroborated by the bodies found, as above described. The negroes taken were to be resold into slavery, while the white officers were consumed by fire. Lieutenant Cole holds himself responsible for the truth of the statement.

---George Templeton Strong, following up on his thoughts on the meaning of the war, makes a prophetic statement on the future:

We hardly appreciate, even yet, the magnitude of this war, the issues that depend on its result, the importance of the chapter in the world’s history that we are helping to write.  In our hearts we esteem the struggle as the London Times does, or pretends to.  God forgive our blindness!  It is the struggle of two hostile and irreconcilable systems of society for the rule of this continent.  Since Mahometanism and Christendom met in battle this side of the Pyrenees, there has been no struggle so momentous for mankind.  I think that Grant and Rosecrans, Lee and Stonewall Jackson and Joe Johnston, and all the others, will be more conspicuous and better known to students of history A.D. 1963 than Wallenstein and Gustavus, Condé, Napoleon, Frederick, Wellington, and the late Lord Raglan; not as greater generals, but as fighting on a larger field and in a greater cause than any of them.  So will our great-great-grandchildren look back on them a century hence, whatever be the result.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 11, 1863

August 11, 1863

Capt. August C. Thompson, Co. G, 16th Georgia Infantry Regiment
from Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs,

---The Richmond Daily Dispatch prints a news item of interest, only indirectly referring to the raids of Confederate soldiers on the gardens of the Richmond populace:

Securing supplies.

–All the Justices of Henrico county are summoned to attend at their Court House to day to consider the propriety of petitioning the Secretary of War for a line of sentinels around Richmond, to guard the suburban farms and gardens against depredations. The question is one of meal and bread to the people of Richmond, and is worthy of careful consideration.

Also, this newspaper makes reference to the nasty heat wave that is spread across the Eastern seaboard of both North and South, and is mentioned in nearly every letter and journal entry of the time:

The Weather

has at length arrived at melting heat. Fat men are but skins of grease, literally running away as they attempt locomotion, and lean ones are so dried and porched that their bones rattle as skeletons in the wind when they move about. We may expect a thunder storm at any moment, judging from the flying clouds and occasional guate of wind.

---In answer to a query from President Lincoln about the possibilities of reconstruction in currently Union-occupied states, Maj. Gen. Stephen Hurlbut, commander of garrison troops in western Tennessee, offers his thoughts in a letter to the President, of which we excerpt a few:

HDQRS. SIXTEENTH A. C., Memphis, Tenn., August 11, 1863.His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,President of the United States, Washington, D. C.:
SIR; In reply to your communication of the 31 set of July, I desire to submit the following remarks as the result of my observations:
1. The rank and file of the Southern army have begun to awaken to the knowledge that they are not fighting their own battle, but the battle of the officers, the politicians, and the plantation class. You may remember I predicted this result more than a year since. One evidence of this state of things is that arrests are being made in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi of soldiers and citizens on suspicion of membership in secret Union societies. . . .
5. As to Tennessee, I am satisfied that this State is ready by overwhelming majorities to repeal the act of secession, establish a fair system of gradual emancipation, and tender herself back to the Union. I have discouraged any action on this subject here until East Tennessee is delivered. When that is done, so that her powerful voice may be heard, let Governor Johnson call an election for members of the Legislature, and that Legislature call a convention, and in sixty days the work will be done. Then we can use upon the Tennessee troops in Southern service the same tremendous lever of State pride and State authority which forced them into hostile ranks.
Moral causes, in my judgment, will have as much to do with the down-fall of the Confederacy as physical ones.Battles are valuable by breaking up the solid array of force-more valuable as they break the hedge of steel, and allow men to think and act.
The days of chivalry are gone in the South as elsewhere.
6. The emancipation proclamation and the arming of negroes is the bugbear in Mississippi.
I have now an application from some FIFTY men of mark and position in Mississippi, asking if they may hold a meeting to consider the probabilities of recognition by the United States. I shall answer them unofficially, and will send the answer.
Substantially, it will be this: Both as a State and as individuals you have committed treason. Your property in slaves by State law is forfeited by the act of treason. As aliens by your own act, you cannot appeal to the Constitution. The Confederacy, the embodiment of treason, cannot be treated with. The States can. The terms must be prescribed by Congress. I think that if you continue in armed resistance six months longer, you will have no slave property to quarrel about. It is now for you simply a question of time and of means. Accept the facts before you, let yourselves down easily and gradually, or go down by the run and find your State held by armed negro troops. Admit emancipation as a fact, an accomplished fact, and settle your own time for doing so and come back, or have it forced upon you peremptory, immediate, and armed, and take the consequences.
Mississippi is thoroughly broken-spirited. . . .

---Frederick Douglass meets yesterday with the President, offering criticisms for the lack of equal pay for black soldiers and the lack of equality in the Confederate treatment of black prisoners of war.  Douglass, after the interview, says that “in his company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular color.”

Frederick Douglass