—On this date, Col. Wirt Adams, commanding the Rebel cavalry in central Mississippi, begins skirmishing with Sherman’s advancing columns. Sherman’s cavalry, a brigade under Col. Edward Winslow, engages the Rebel horsemen, pushing them back. Soon, Adams is reinforced with a battery of artillery, and take up position on Champion Hill, the site of a desperate battle the preceding spring. Gen. James McPherson, commanding one of Sherman’s corps, deploys troops into line of battle, and attack Adams’ line. The Rebel riders retreat, set up another line, and the Yankees attack and drive them back again. Lucius Barber, a Federal soldier, writes in his memoir of an incident during the running battles fought that day:
Just at this time, a rebel officer mounted on a beautiful white charger rode out toward us. We were ordered not to fire, supposing him to be a bearer of dispatches. He rode up to within easy range, coolly drew his revolver and fired several shots at Col. Rogers who was on horseback, when wheeled his horse and fled. A perfect shower of bullets was sent after him, but strange to say, he escaped unhurt. His boldness insured his safety. We were petrified with astonishment.
McPherson advances ten miles today by this method, and Hurlbut’s corps also contends with Rebels in front of his corps in a like manner.
—Pres. Lincoln sends the original manuscript of his Gettysburg Address to Edward Everett, so that he can donate it to be sold at auction by the Ladies Committee for the New York Metropolitan Sanitary Fair.
—Lt. Josiah Marshall Favill, of the Army of the Potomac, writes in his journal about the army’s plans to host a large ball or cotillion and invitations to ladies to travel down and join them. He writes with enthusiasm of the building of the great hall they are crafting to house the event:
February 4th. The great hall grows rapidly and is going to be a fine affair. The notables throughout the land have generally accepted invitations. A special train will be run from Washington, and all army circles are on the very tip toe of expectation. At our headquarters the tents are decorated with evergreens, sabres, swords, pistols, etc.; we have remade the beds with the softest of cedars and put everything in order for the reception of our guests, who will soon come along. Our plan is to give up our quarters to the ladies and take shelter in the great hall ourselves after the festivities of the evening are over. We have portable bunks made for this purpose and our men will put them up after the floors are deserted. There will be two girls in each tent, except that Alvord’s is to be devoted to his sister alone. Major Hancock, Captain Martin, and the general each will have their wives with them, and Mrs. Curtin will have a whole tent to herself and maid.
All interest centering in the army, of course, it is immensely popular, and the ladies write most enthusiastically of the coming visit; every woman in the land has taken intense interest in the army, which, necessarily, has been to nearly all of them only a shadow; now they are to see the reality.