Tuesday, October 22, 2013

September 22, 1863

September 22, 1863

---As of this date, two days after the battle, Bragg has made no serious move toward Chattanooga.  Rosecrans uses this reprieve to strengthen his positions and the earthworks surrounding the city.

---Gen. William S. Rosecrans, in command of the beaten Army of the Cumberland, sends this dispatch by telegraph to Gen. Halleck in Washington, which shows Rosecrans wildly overestimating the forces opposing him:

CHATTANOOGA, TENN., September 22, 1863-9.30 a.m. (Received 2.30 p.m.)

Major General H. W. HALLECK,
     We have fought a most sanguinary battle against vastly superior numbers. Longstreet is here, and probably Ewell, and a force is coming from Charleston. We have suffered terribly, but have inflicted equal injury upon the enemy. The mass of this army is intact and in good spirits. Disaster not as great as I anticipated. We held our position in the main up to Sunday night. Retired on Rossville, which we held yesterday; then retired on Chattanooga. Our position is a strong one. Think we can hold out right. Our transportation is mostly across the river. Have one bridge. Another will be done to-day. Our cavalry will be concentrated on the west side of the river, to guard it on our left. Telegraph communication will probably be cut off for several days, as we will be compelled to abandon south side of the Tennessee River below this point.


---News of the Battle of Chickamauga finally reaches Richmond.  War Department clerk John Beauchamp Jones records in his journal the jubilation over the news of the victory, and rather optimistically embellishes what he hopes will accrue from it:

September 22d.—Another dispatch from Bragg, received at a late hour last night, says the victory is complete. This announcement has lifted a heavy load from the spirits of our people; and as successive dispatches come from Gov. Harris and others on the battle-field to-day, there is a great change in the recent elongated faces of many we meet in the streets. So far we learn that the enemy has been beaten back and pursued some eleven miles; that we have from 5000 to 6000 prisoners, some 40 guns, besides small arms and stores in vast quantities. But Gen. Hood, whom I saw at the department but a fortnight ago, is said to be dead! and some half dozen of our brigadier-generals have been killed and wounded. The loss of the enemy, however, has been still greater than ours. . . . Yet, this is from the West.

The effects of this great victory will be electrical. The whole South will be filled again with patriotic fervor, and in the North there will be a corresponding depression. Rosecrans’s position is now one of great peril; for his army, being away from the protection of gun-boats, may be utterly destroyed, and then Tennessee and Southern Kentucky may fall into our hands again. To-morrow the papers will be filled with accounts from the field of battle, and we shall have a more distinct knowledge of the magnitude of it. There must have been at least 150,000 men engaged; and no doubt the killed and wounded on both sides amounted to tens of thousands!

Surely the Government of the United States must now see the impossibility of subjugating the Southern people, spread over such a vast extent of territory; and the European governments ought now to interpose to put an end to this cruel waste of blood and treasure. . . .

---Charles Wright Wills, a captain in the 103rd Illinois Infantry, stationed in southern Mississippi, writes in his journal :

Camp at Messenger’s Ferry, Big Black River, Miss.,
September 22, 1863.

I wrote you a few lines from Vicksburg on the 18th inst. to notify you that I had escaped the perils of navigation (sandbar and guerillas) and of my safe arrival. I had a delightful trip down the river. A splendid boat, gentlemanly officers, not too many passengers, and beautiful weather. Major General Tuttle and wife and Mrs. General Grant were of our number. I think Mrs. Grant a model lady. She has seen not over thirty years, medium size, healthy blonde complexion, brown hair, blue eyes (cross-eyed) and has a pretty hand. She dresses very plainly, and busied herself knitting during nearly the whole trip. Believe her worthy of the general. Vicksburg is a miserable hole and was never anything better. A number of houses have been burned by our artillery firing, but altogether the town has suffered less than any secesh village I have seen at the hands of our forces. . . . They call it level here when the surface presents no greater angles than 45 degrees. . . . We have lost a large number by disease since I left the regiment. Anyone who saw us in Peoria would open wide his eyes at the length of our line now, and think we’d surely passed a dozen battles. The greater part of the material this regiment is made of should never have been sent into the field. The consolation is that these folks would all have to die sometime, and they ought to be glad to get rid of their sickly lives, and get credit as patriots for the sacrifice. We are now in the 2d Brigade 4th Division 15th Army Corps, having been transferred from the 16th Army Corps. We are camped on the bluffs of Black river, which we picket. Our camp is the finest one I ever was in. There are two large magnolias, three white beeches, and a half dozen holly trees around my tent. I think the magnolia the finest looking tree I ever saw. Many of the trees are ornamented with Spanish moss, which, hanging from the branches in long and graceful rolls, adds very much to the beauty of the forest. Another little item I cannot help mentioning is the “chigger,” a little red insect much smaller than a pin-head, that buries itself in the skin and stings worse than a mosquito bite. Squirrels skip around in the trees in camp, and coons, owls, etc., make music for us nights. Capt. Gus Smith when on picket several nights, saw a bear (so he swears) and shot at it several times. . . . 

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