Friday, August 9, 2013

August 5, 1863

August 5, 1863

---Gen. Halleck, in Washington, issues orders to Gen. Rosecrans, with the Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee, to select a column of 12,000 men to invade Unionist East Tennessee and to capture Knoxville, and eject the small force there, under Gen. Buckner.  Rosecrans appears to consider that Burnside’s IX Corps (in Kentucky) would be best for the job, and give it little more thought.  Burnside, in turn, points out that most of his troops are dispersed to support the recently-fallen Vicksburg and to chase Morgan.

---Oliver Willcox Norton, of the 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry, writes home about the terrible waste in horses’ lives the war makes---and of the relative efficacy of hardtack as nourishment for man and horse:

A week’s rest will do for the men, but the horses must have time to get a little more flesh on and to regain their lost strength. Why, every day since we returned to Virginia, every day we have marched, Battery D. Fifth United States, has turned out to die from four to ten horses. Many of these will recover and make good farm horses (the farmers pick them all up) but some are so far gone that they die in the road. Everywhere we march there is a dead horse or mule on the road every bad place we come to, and often there are three or four. I tell you hot weather and heavy guns use up artillery horses. My horse stands it just first-rate. He is as fat as he ought to be to travel and always feels well. All the grain he gets is about a peck per day. I kept him on hard tack for nearly a week in Pennsylvania. Our teams were twenty-five miles off and no grain to be had.

I think the last I wrote to you I told you that I had been sick. Lest you should worry about me I will say this time that I am well, as well as ever. My bowel complaint is entirely gone and I feel like myself again. I lost considerable flesh while I was so weak, but that will soon come again. Hard tack is good to fat a man that likes it, and, without butter, I prefer it to soft bread. Soft bread and the paymaster are both reported to be on their way here.

Norton then comments on how the soldiers feel about Copperheadism at home, and other such disloyal sentiments:

Tell Mercy Clark, if you write to her, that I am as much in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war as when I first enlisted. I have just administered a filial rebuke to my parents for asking me to get a furlough because they wanted to see me. This war must be fought out, and while I have health and strength I shall not so much as think of leaving the field till it is done. If I am sick or wounded and sent to a hospital, it will be a different thing, but I don’t want to hear any whimpering from those I left behind. The only thing that I care to come home for is to make some of those copperheads hunt their holes. General Logan’s speech at Cairo the other day just expressed my sentiments. Every copperhead, peaceman, anti-draft man, every cursed mother’s son of them that does not support the war by word and deed ought to be hung or sent to the south where they belong. There is no middle ground. Every man who is not for us is against us, and I would just as soon fight a cursed copperhead as a southern rebel. Yes, rather, for they have means of knowing the truth and most rebels have not. If a man or a boy comes into your house and talks peace, or complains about the draft, tell him he is a traitor and you won’t listen to him. Drive him out as Orpha Dart did with a broomstick. I tell you when the old soldiers get home, such cowards and sneaks, traitors and rebels in disguise, will have an account to settle. It won’t be a pleasant neighborhood for them. . . . Maybe you think I am excited. I mean what I say at all events, and I have been so provoked and disgusted that I, like every loyal soldier, am down on every opposer of the war “like a thousand of brick.” I have no patience with them at all. I know that if I was home, I should have trouble with the first man that talked a word of such stuff to me.

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