Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 23, 1864

February 23, 1864

---A circular being passed around calls for the Republican Party to pass its support to Salmon Chase (currently Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury) as its candidate for the Presidency.

---Mary Boykin Chestnut, of Richmond, records in her journal of incidents in high places in the Rebel capital:

February 23d.—At the President’s, where General Lee breakfasted, a man named Phelan told General Lee all he ought to do; planned a campaign for him. General Lee smiled blandly the while, though he did permit himself a mild sneer at the wise civilians in Congress who refrained from trying the battle-field in person, but from afar dictated the movements of armies. My husband said that, to his amazement, General Lee came into his room at the Executive Office to "pay his respects and have a talk." "Dear me! Goodness gracious!" said I. "That was a compliment from the head of the army, the very first man in the world, we Confederates think."

Battle of Okolona, Mississippi: Brig. Gen. William Sooy Smith, leading a column of 10,000 Yankee cavalrymen southeast into the interior of Mississippi, is able to cross the Tallahatchie River near New Albany, and from there has proceeded south towards Okolona. Passing that, Smith’s troopers, burning and destroying along the way, press southwards to West Point, where Nathan Bedford Forrest is laying a trap. Smith is aware of the trap, and begins to turn and re-trace his steps northward. Forrest’s riders (two brigades) then attack the Federal rear guard, on Feb. 21, harrassing them all the way to Okolona. The next day, the Rebels continue to strike at exposed odds and ends of the Yankee column, who are beginning to gather at Okolona and build a defensive line. By this point, Forrest has only one brigade at hand, and hesitates. Smith judges that Forrest is uncertain, and decides to attack instead of defend. So just as the Federals are about to launch an attack on the Rebels, Forrest leads the Rebels on an attack against a greatly superior force of Federals. Some of the blue troopers panic and retreat, and finally the whole force retreats. Having established another line, they await Forrest’s next move. Forrest gathers his brigade and another, led by his brother Jeffrey, and attack the Yankees again. The Confederate troopers are badly cut up by the massed fire of the dismounted Yankees. This attack fails, but a second one prevails, and the Yankees resume their retreat. Forrest, now with only 300 troopers with him, pushes them, and after two of his other brigades rejoin him, sends the Federals packing, abandoing their artillery. On their long, 5-day retreat, Smith’s bluecoats face starvation, since they left the countryside burned and devoid of forage or food.

Confederate Victory.

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