Friday, August 9, 2013

August 1, 1863

August 1, 1863

---In on-going operations to establish bridgeheads across the Rappahannock River (once again), John Buford’s cavalry division swims a brigade across at Rappahannock Station, and later more when the engineers for the Army of the Potomac have finished building the bridge here this afternoon.  Buford’s men chase a Rebel brigade all the way back to the old Brandy Station battlefield.  Gen. Jeb Stuart is present, urging his men on against Buford.  Buford’s troopers drive Stuart’s riders beyond the battlefield, until the Yankees encounter a division of infantry from A.P. Hill’s corps, and therefore fall back.  But the Rebels cannot dislodge Buford’s division from Brandy Station, which is south of the river.  Lee calls for his army to begin retreating south to a new set of camps south of the Rapidan River.

---Of this battle, George Michael Neese, an artilleryman in Chew’s Battery in the Confederate army, writes an account in his journal of his battery’s role in the fight:

We were directly on the right flank of the Yankee line, and we opened a square enfilade fire on their batteries, which compelled them to abandon their position immediately after we opened. We advanced then and took another position and opened fire, and the Yanks again retired, and so we kept up a running fight for two hours, in which time we drove the enemy back about three miles. Then the shades of night were already falling fast, and the gathering darkness lulled the wavelet of war to quietude and rest. The field where the little fight occurred is a level plain about two miles long, with the Orange and Alexandria Railroad on one side and a body of woods on the other. It is identically the very same field where General Stuart held his grand reviews last June. The engagement to-day was principally between cavalry, with some artillery mixed in on both sides.

General Hampton’s cavalry and General Jones’ brigade were in the fight on our side. For the last few days the weather has been oppressively hot, in fact, too hot for an active butcher business. However, if the bluecoats can endure it the gray jackets can do the same thing.

---The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes a public notice of the death of Senator William Lowndes Yancey of the Confederate Congress on July 27---Yancey is the one man seen as being, more than any other single person, the father of the Confederate States.  He died of kidney disease.  As a champion of secession and an obdurate and implacable enemy of the North, the United States, abolition, and all Yankeedom, Yancey had been the most prominent among the “Fire-eaters” faction of the Democratic Party and, while in Congress, vehemently opposed the Compromise of 1850.  He was personally instrumental in splitting the Democratic Party at the 1860 Convention in Charleston.  After the war began, he briefly served as an ambassador to Britain.  This obituary offers moderate praise:

The death of William L. Yancey, Confederate Senator from Alabama, is an event that occasions much public regret. He was among the most devoted of the sons of the South to the cause of the South, as he was one of its ablest defenders. He is conceded generally to have been the most brilliant man in the Confederate Senate, as he was the most chaste and eloquent orator in the South. Though we must all deplore the loss of leaders in our struggle, we may be assured that the cause itself will bring out more than enough to fill their places, for the times must be fruitful of great men.

William Lowndes Yancey

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