Tuesday, November 12, 2013

October 6, 1863

October 6, 1863

---Battle of Baxter Springs, Kansas:  Lt. Col. William Quantrill and his irregular Rebel cavalry attack a Federal outpost here, held my detachments from the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment, and the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry.  Quantrill’s men attack, but are able to do little, when a force of over 100 Yankees approach from the north—Gen. James Blunt and his staff.  The Rebels attack, and are able to hunt down, trap, and massacre 103 Union soldiers.  Gen. Blunt barely escapes with his life.

---The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes an editorial on a curious topic: how few Northern generals have been slain in battle as compared with Southern generals---of whom many have perished.  There is clearly a gap in cultural ideals and perceptions, with the North not as passionate about the chivalric code as their enemies in the South, and the snide and satirical tone of this piece makes clear the Southern scorn for Yankee indifference to matters of honor:

It has been observed that not many Federal Generals have been killed in this war. The military expediency of keeping out of danger is fully appreciated by those heroes, so self-denying of glory, so generous in their distribution of the posts of honor and peril to the humble privates in their ranks. Burnside, butting the heads of his rank and file against the ramparts of Fredericksburg, and ensconcing himself in a snug covert three miles from the roar of battle, is a fair specimen of the military discretion of the Commander in Chief of the Federal forces. It is a rare thing to hear of one of them who is unmindful of the great law of self preservation. Such slaughter as has been witnessed among the common soldiers of the Yankee army has not often been witnessed, nor such exemption from peril as their leaders have enjoyed. Scott, McClellan, McDowell, Buell, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, all live, and have not even a scar to testify that they have ever been engaged in a battle of this war.

And yet, though successful in escaping Confederate bullets, they are as dead, to all intents and purposes, as if they had shared the fate of the thousands whom they have driven to the slaughter. Not one of the long array we have mentioned has survived the fields of their former notoriety. Each and all of them have been paralyzed by the shock of arms which they so carefully kept out of, and laid up in a mausoleum where they are scarcely objects of curiosity to the living world. The Confederates have killed them one and all as effectually as if they had perforated their carcases [sic] with Minnie bullets. Better would it have been for their reputation to have perished in the smoke and din of battle than to go down to posterity not only defeated, but disgraced. They have purchased a few years of life at the expense of all that makes life desirable to a soldier. With them the process of decomposition has begun before death, and they are masses of living putrefaction — a stench in the nostrils of all mankind and of themselves. . . .

---The New York Times publishes an editorial discussing the possible reasons for General Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania, even considering Lee’s own report.  The editorial concludes:

This report of LEE confirms the opinion universally entertained, that a grand opportunity was missed to strike a blow at his army while it was at Williamsport, making preparations to retreat across the Potomac. He confesses to his embarrassments in that position, and brings to our knowledge some whose existence we had surmised, but of which we previously had no proof. At the same time, his campaign is throughout tacitly confessed to have been a total and stupendous failure — even accepting his own confession of its objects; but we are persuaded now, as during the pendency of the campaign, that its real and final object was the capture of Washington.

---Wheeler’s raid burns its way into middle Tennessee, towards Murfreesboro.  Right behind Wheeler is Gen. George Crook with a brigade of Union cavalry, nipping at the Rebels’ heels.  Crook catches up with Wheeler’s rear guard, and attacks in an extended saber charge.  After deploying his artillery, Crook breaks through, but Wheeler reaches Murfreesboro and captures a railroad bridge and a few Federal troops.  After tearing up track, Wheeler’s gray riders move on to Shelbyville, on the Duck River, and take up a defensive position.  With over 5,000 troopers, Wheeler outnumbers Crook, but Crook is joined by Gen. Robert Mitchell, with 2,000 more, bringing the Federal total to 4,000.  Wheeler’s three divisions, under Davidson, Martin, and Wharton, are spread out guarding river crossings.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, CSA

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