Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 4, 1863

September 4, 1863

---By this date, most of Rosecrans’ army has crossed the Tennessee River, both north and south of Chattanooga, thereby threatening both of Bragg’s flanks. 

---Today, in Mobile, Alabama, a large crowd of women march downtown armed with knives and hatchets, bearing signs that say “Bread or Blood” or “Bread and Peace.”  Many of them break into shops along the street, taking things they need.

---Sergeant Alexander G. Downing, of the 11th Iowa Infantry, on the march in Mississippi, ruefully remarks in his journal on the grim effect on the soldiers to be marching in the heat in a malarial region:

Friday, 4th—The weather today is intensely hot. Those who are not sick spent the day in washing their clothing. Over half of the boys in our regiment are sick with the fever and ague, all because of the very poor water we had to drink while on the march, the weather being very hot and sultry.[1]

   The results accomplished by this expedition were meager indeed, While the suffering endured by the men engaged in it was very great. Many died from the effects of the hardships to which they were subjected, and many never fully recovered from the diseases contracted while passing through that malarious region, and that during the hottest days of the summer.—A. G. D.

---On this date, the Richmond Daily Dispatch, one of the two large newspapers in the Confederate capital, publishes this passionate editorial on the excellence of the men in the army, on loyalty, and on the Cause:

The spirit of the army.

–Every letter that appears from Gen. Lee’s army breathes the highest spirit. There is something affecting, grand, and sublime in the magnificent courage of these heroes — a courage which not only scorns the perils of the battle-field, but is proof against the unmanly croaking at home of men who have never yet heard a bullet whistle, but have been living in security and plenty during the whole of the war. It is a humiliating truth that the only sections of the country in which repining, disloyalty, and treason have found utterance are the most remote from the seat of hostility and danger, whose people have never been disturbed even by raids. . . . But, of all classes of our countrymen, none are so uncompromising as the men of the army — the men who have made the most sacrifices, and endured all the hardships and perils of the war. The Southern army is in fact the Southern people. It contains the cream of the chivalry, the patriotism, the physical stamina, and the moral worth of the land. If we desire to find the only infallible exponent of the spirit and purpose of the Southern Confederacy, we must look to the army, and its universal voice is that it would prefer death to the last man to life and subjugation.

. . . The army — the always valiant and always victorious army — which has suffered and dared so much, proclaims itself ready to suffer and dare a thousand fold more rather than discolor its bright banners with the shame of submission and conquest. It has fought a hundred battles; it has endured hunger, heat, cold, and raggedness; it has beaten the foe over and over again, and all it asks of those who have never fired a gun, or endured a pang of hunger, or suffered a single discomfort of life, is not to discourage with their dismal croaking the spirits of the men who are fighting for their security, comfort, and independence. . . .

The North has made some nine or ten enterprises of “On to Richmond,” in each and all of which it has been signally defeated, and yet, after all their failures, it renews its efforts with unabated perseverance. What shall be said of Southern men who have not as much confidence and determination after ten victories as the North after ten defeats? If they were a fair specimen of Southern manhood the subjugation of the South would be no longer a question. . . .

We invoke the soldiers of the South to turn a deaf ear to the raven-croaking which come up from in their rear from these unfortunate mortals whose unbalanced minds and disordered livers prevent them from forming an intelligent and dispassionate judgement of public affairs. The great heart of the country . . . keeps time with the inspiring pulsations in the hearts of its heroes. Noble, generous, devoted men — men of whom the world is not worthy — men whose deeds have never been surpassed in all Greek, all Roman fame — your countrymen and country-women are not only grateful for your Fast, but full of Hope and Faith in your Future. They are proud of your courage, proud of your humility, proud above all, of the lofty spirit which has resolved, with God’s help, to deliver this land from an accursed tyrant, and to light in every hill and in every valley beacons of glory and victory, which shall blaze till the stars have ceased to shine.

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