Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 2, 1863

October 2, 1863

---Gen. Braxton Bragg orders Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest to turn over the command of his cavalry corps to Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler.  Forrest is enraged, tells him what he thinks of Bragg, and travels to Bragg’s HQ to deliver the message.  Written down after 4 decades, this is Forrest’s best version of what he told Bragg:

I am not here to pass civilities or compliments with you, but on other business. You commenced your cowardly and contemptible persecution of me soon after the battle of Shiloh, and you have kept it up ever since. You did it because I reported to Richmond facts, while you reported damn lies. You robbed me of my command in Kentucky and gave it to one of your favorites — men that I armed and equipped from the enemies of our country.

In a spirit of revenge and spite, because I would not fawn upon you as others did, you drove me into West Tennessee in the winter of 1862, with a second brigade I had organized, with improper arms and without sufficient ammunition, although I had made repeated applications for the same. You did it to ruin me and my career.

When, in spite of all this, I returned with my command, well equipped by captures, you began again your work of spite and persecution, and have kept it up; and now this second brigade, organized and equipped without thanks to you or the government, a brigade which has won a reputation for successful fighting second to none in the army, taking advantage of your position as the commanding general in order to further humiliate me, you have taken these brave men from me.

I have stood your meanness as long as I intend to. You have played the part of a damn scoundrel, and are a coward; and if you were any part of a man, I would slap your jaws and force you to resent it. You may as well not issue any more orders to me, for I will not obey them, and I will hold you personally responsible for any further indignities you endeavor to inflict upon me. You have threatened to arrest me for not obeying your orders promptly. I dare you to do it, and I say to you that if you ever again try to interfere with me or cross my path it will be at the peril of your life.

---Col. Edward McCook, in command of the 1st Missouri and 2nd Indiana Cavalry regiments, attacks Wheeler’s force and drives them for a time. 

---Wheeler’s force divides, and Wheeler takes a division south along with Sequatchie Valley, surprising a miles-long wagon train of nearly 800 wagons.  After a stiff battle, wherein Wheeler’s troopers put to flight two Federal regiments, many of whom escape by climbing up the steep walls of the narrow valley to escape the Rebels.  Wheeler and his men spend over 8 hours trying to destroy all of the wagons. 

---George Templeton Strong considers the dominant racial bias against blacks, and offers some mocking satire against its unreasonableness: 

“Modern physiology, my dear sir, has, as you must be aware, demonstrated the essential inferiority of the black race and proved it to be anthropoid rather than human.” Certainly.  Why not?  The Negro can be taught reading and writing and the first four rules of arithmetic, to be sure, and he is capable of keeping a hotel.  He can fight like a hero and live and die like a Christian.  But look at his facial angle, sir, and at the peculiarities of his skeleton, and you will at once perceive that his place is with the chimpanzees and the gorilla, not with man.  Physical science is absolutely infallible, you know.  No matter what the Church, or the Bible, or human instincts, or common sense may seem to say on the subject, physical science is always entitled to overrule them.  It’s very true that the science of 1863 has reversed or modified about 250,000 of the decisions it gave twenty years ago, but that makes no difference.

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