Thursday, August 1, 2013

July 23, 1863

July 23, 1863

---Battle of Manassas Gap – The Excelsior Brigade of the III Corps pushes westward into the Manassas Gap to cut off the Confederate retreat route.  A lone regiment of Georgians resists the Federal advance until late in the day, when more troops from Rodes’s division stops the advance.  During the night, the Rebels are gone, and so is the rest of Lee’s army.

---Young Kate Morgan of New Orleans is living at the home of her older half-brother, who is a committed Unionist.  She writes in her diary today of the Federal regulations concerning how the locals may or may not communicate with the prisoners captured at Port Hudson when it surrendered:

Thursday, July 23d.

It is bad policy to keep us from seeing the prisoners; it just sets us wild about them. Put a creature you don’t care for in the least, in a situation that commands sympathy, and nine out of ten girls will fall desperately in love. Here are brave, self-sacrificing, noble men who have fought heroically for us, and have been forced to surrender by unpropitious fate, confined in a city peopled by their friends and kindred, and as totally isolated from them as though they inhabited the Dry Tortugas! Ladies are naturally hero-worshipers. We are dying to show these unfortunates that we are as proud of their bravery as though it had led to victory instead of defeat. Banks wills that they remain in privacy. Consequently our vivid imaginations are constantly occupied in depicting their sufferings, privations, heroism, and manifold virtues, until they have almost become as demigods to us. . . . It is all I can do to avoid a most tender compassion for a very few select ones. Miriam and I are looked on with envy by other young ladies because some twenty or thirty of our acquaintance have already arrived. To know a Port Hudson defender is considered as the greatest distinction one need desire. If they would only let us see the prisoners once to sympathize with, and offer to assist them, we would never care to call on them again until they are liberated. But this is aggravating. Of what benefit is it to send them lunch after lunch, when they seldom receive it? Colonel Steadman and six others, I am sure, did not receive theirs on Sunday. We sent with the baskets a number of cravats and some handkerchiefs I had embroidered for the Colonel.

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