Tuesday, April 22, 2014

February 26, 1864 (Saturday): Foster Plans A Move On Raleigh

State Capital, Raleigh, 1861



BALTIMORE, MD., February 26, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK:
General-in-Chief U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
    GENERAL: In a conversation with Grant at Nashville, Tenn., on the 12th instant, reference was made to a project of an operation from the Eastern sea-board, to aid, by co-operation, the contemplated movements in Alabama and Georgia. He desired, as I understood him, to have a column of 60,000 men move on Raleigh, by the way of Weldon, and thence to co-operate with the Armies of the Ohio and of the Cumberland. I have though of the project since, as I had in fact, often before, while in command in North Carolina and Virginia, and beg leave, respectfully, to present the following plan, which will, I think, meet General Grant's wishes, and also attain some other important objects:
    I would respectfully propose that the force be collected in the vicinity of Hampton Roads, in such a way as to excite the least suspicion of its real object; that the artillery and infantry be moved by transports to Fort Powhatan, on the James River, landed at that point and the one opposite, on the north bank of the river, and a portion of the force put to work to intrench those points, so as to be
held against attacking force, while, the remainder be rapidly prepared for marching, the whole cavalry force to move at the same time quickly from Williamsburg to Bottom's Bridge, and make a dash on Richmond. Failing in this, to attack the enemy in rear at Malvern Hill or at Charles City Court-House, whichever place may be their point of concentration to meet our threatened advance in force; and then to cross the James River at Fort Powhatan by means of the steam ferry-boats, to be prepared at that point, and make a dash on Petersburg, the Petersburg and Weldon, and the Petersburg and Lynchburg Railroads. Succeeding or failing in this, to fall back toward Weldon, by the county roads, on the flanks of the main column, which, by this time, should be in full march for Weldon, destroying all bridges in their rear. Arrived at Weldon to assault the works at once, and failing in this, to settle down into a determined attack, opening the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad for supplies from Norfolk, and calling up the North Carolina force from Plymouth to act on the rear of the enemy at Weldon. After taking Weldon, to destroy the bridges at that place and at Gaston, and to sweep through the State threatening Goldsborough and Raleigh, and really only occupying Raleigh with the cavalry, while the main column moves directly for Wilmington as rapidly as possible, living on the country. All the railroad and other bridges are to be destroyed on the march. Reaching Wilmington, to attack that town in such a way as to succeed, opening at the same time a landing for a base of supplies at Masonborough Inlet. Capturing Wilmington all the defenses on the river and at its mouth are sure to fall in succession. This line of advance on Wilmington is the only one that offers decided chances for success, inasmuch as it entirely cuts off all re-enforcements from Virginia, and, if the cavalry succeeds in cutting the Wilmington and Manchester road, from Charleston also. It avoids the delays in crossing the White Oak and New Rivers of a column moving from Morehead City; at the same time it shuts off the troops that might, in the mean time, be poured into Wilmington by the two railroads mentioned above.
     The reasons that I prefer the route by the way of the James River to that by the line of the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad to Weldon are that it avoids the delays consequent upon forcing the passage of the Blackwater, the Nottoway, and the Meherin Rivers, and of rebuilding the bridges over those streams, which the enemy will be sure to burn to retard the march of our forces, and that the route by Fort Powhatan and Prince George Court-House to Weldon turns those rivers is likely to insure the capture of the troops stationed along them to defend their crossings and the salvation of the bridges; also, that this way of coming down on Weldon cuts off the re-enforcements from Virginia, which might otherwise be thrown into Weldon by rail.
     The reason that the main column should be hurried directly through North Carolina without waiting to occupy Raleigh in force is that it saves precious time in getting at Wilmington. At the same time the direct route lies nearer the bases of supply in North Carolina, viz, Plymouth, Washington, and New Berne.
     The strength of the expedition should be fully equal to that estimated by General Grant, viz, 60,000 men, to insure the success of the movement, which covers a very long march, and must of necessity involve severe fighting, entailing considerable losses from deaths, wounds, sickness, and straggling.
    I am confident that such an expedition of the above strength can succeed in all the points that I have described above, provided it be conducted with proper skill and determination.
    A lesser force could not make sure of Weldon, upon the attainment of which everything depends. It could, however, operate up the James River, as a large water bayou, fortifying point after point in succession and, at last lay siege to Petersburg with good chances of success. Such a move would be important in view of the effect it would produce on the enemy at Richmond and on the Rapidan, but otherwise of very little value.
    The above is respectfully submitted with the hope that it may meet the approval of the General-in-Chief.
    I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


    J. G. FOSTER,
    Major-General of Volunteers

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Pages 602-604.

Weldon, the key to Foster's plan, was an obscure railroad junction.  To possess it was to be threaten Petersburg.  While an approach from the east was desirable it was not practical.  There were not 60,000 troops available for the execution of the plan and the approaches were through marshland leading across country toward New Berne.

February 25, 1864 (Friday): Checking On Sherman


General Stephen D. Lee

HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY WEST OF ALABAMA,
Starkville, Miss., February 25, 1864.
Brigadier General W. H. JACKSON,
Commanding, &c.:
   GENERAL: General Lee's headquarters will, for the present, be at Macon. He directs that you will at once establish a courier-line, consisting of three at a post, from your headquarters to Newtonville, near the line of Attala and Winston Counties, there to connect with General Forrest's line to Macon. During the general's absence you will assume command of Brigadier-General Ferguson's division, as well as of your own. He wishes you to take immediate steps for collecting all stragglers from your command and restoring them to duty.
    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


    WILLIAM ELLIOTT,
    Assistant Adjutant and Inspector General.

P. S.-The general wishes you to send scouts above, as well as below, Vicksburg for the purpose of ascertaining and reporting in which direction General Sherman's army is sent.
     Very respectfully,


     WILLIAM ELLIOTT,
     Assistant Adjutant and Inspector General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol.52, Part 2, Page 630.

Sherman had been sent to assist in Bank's Red River Valley expedition, but since the rivers were too low to allow for naval support, he decided to reenforce Vicksburg and central Mississippi.  Davis knew the potential threat Sherman's army created, and wanted it attacked.  Part of the problem was knowing exactly where Sherman was headed, since he could not be attacked in his well supplied and supported position in Vicksburg.  Stephen D. Lee's cavalry was employed to try and gain additional information on Sherman's movements.  The letter here is interesting also in its description of how courier lines were established.

 

February 24, 1864 (Thursday): Discontent in North Carolina

Davidson County Courthouse, Lexington NC


SPECIAL ORDERS, ADJT. AND INSP. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 45.
Richmond, Va., February 24, 1864.
* * * *
XIII. Major General G. E. Pickett will immediately dispatch to Lexington, N. C., a sufficient force to repress the mob and to protect the public property at that place.
* * * *
By command of the Secretary of War:



JNO. WITHERS,
 Assistant Adjutant-General. 

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 1196.

Riots and public protests in the South usually revolved around the lack of food or enforcement of conscription.  Opposition to the war was strong in western North Carolina, Lexington being at the edge of that region.  There had been protests in nearby Asheboro over the arrest of draft dodgers and it is likely the incidents described here were a continuation of those events.

Monday, April 21, 2014

February 23, 1864 (Wednesday): To Destroy Sherman


General Joseph Eggleston Johnston

RICHMOND, VA., February 23, 1864.
General J. E. JOHNSTON,
Dalton, Ga.:
     Your troops of this day received.+ General Beauregard has not sent troops to General Polk. He was called on to re-enforce you, and has indicated necessity for some delay. The re-enforcement you were called on to send General Polk was for immediate service. Promptitude, I have to repeat, is essential. To hesitate is to fail. General Longstreet quotes you as authority for the statement that the enemy is re-enforcing Knoxville from Chattanooga; if so, the demonstration in your front is probably a mask. To destroy Sherman will be the most immediate and important method of relieving you, and best secures the future supply of your army. Speedy success in Mississippi restores the forces you detached, and adds others to enable you to follow up the advantage.


    JEFFERSON DAVIS.



RICHMOND, VA., February 23, 1864.
General J. E. JOHNSTON,
Dalton, Ga.:
     Information just received from General Polk indicates that the re-enforcements you were directed to send him are too late. Recall those which have not passed Montgomery.


     JEFFERSON DAVIS.

+See VOL. XXXII, Part II, p. 798. 

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 627.

On the 14th Sherman had entered Meridian.  Polk's infantry divisions under Loring and French moved into North Alabama.  After several days of skirmishes, Sherman withdrew to central Mississippi.  Davis wanted Johnston to act promptly, with the intent of destroying Sherman's detached force.  But alacrity was not an attribute Johnston possessed.

February 22, 1864 (Tuesday): Battle at Olustee




CHARLESTON, S. C., February 22, 1864.
Major General W. H. C. WHITING,
Wilmington, N. C.:
    General Finegan met enemy at or near Olustee, Fla., on 20th instant, in full force under Seymour, and defeated him with heavy loss. We have field of battle, enemy's killed and wounded, five pieces of artillery, large number of small-arms and prisoners, and our cavalry is pursuing. Our loss about 250 officers and men killed and wounded.


    THOMAS JORDAN.
 
(Same sent to General Mackall, chief of staff, Dalton, Ga., and Major General D. H. Maury, Mobile, Ala.)


CHARLESTON, S. C., February 22, 1864.
Brigadier General R. S. RIPLEY,
Mount Pleasant:
     Finegan has defeated Seymour of Olustee, Fla., with heavy loss to enemy; possession of field of battle, five pieces of artillery, large number of small-arms, and prisoners and the enemy's killed and wounded. Our cavalry pursuing with vigor.


     THOMAS JORDAN,
     Chief of Staff.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 35, Part 1, Page 633.

Seymour had landed at Jacksonville and worked his way inland 20miles to Baldwin where he was met on the 9th by Gillmore.  On the 20th Henrys cavalry brigade made contact and drove Confederate outposts back to their main body, under Finnegan.  The 7th New Hampshire was hit while deploying and routed.  The 8th Infantry of the US African-American Infantry also broke and fled.  Finally the 54th Massachusetts held until dark.  Seymour then withdrew having lost a third of his force in killed, wounded, and missing. 


February 21, 1864 (Monday): Skirmish at Upperville

Upperville Battlefield (civilwaralbum.com, Richard Edling).

FEBRUARY 21, 1864.
    MAJOR: I have the honor to report that about 8 o'clock yesterday morning, on being informed that a large body of the enemy's cavalry were in Upperville, I took immediate steps to be prepared to meet them. The enemy proceeded some distance along the pike toward Piedmont, when they started back. I did all in my power to retard my men time to collect. After getting between 50 and 60 together i attacked them about 12 miles beyond Upperville. A sharp skirmish ensued, in which we repulsed them in three distinct charges and drove their sharpshooters from a very strong position behind a stone wall. They fled in the direction of Harper's Ferry. We pursued them about 2 miles. They were enabled to cover their retreat by means of their numerous carbineers posted behind stone fences. As my men had nothing but pistols, with only a few exceptions, I was compelled to make flank movements in order to dislodge them, which, of course, checked a vigorous pursuit. Citizens who counted the enemy inform me that they numbered 250 men, under command of Major Cole. They left 6 of their dead on the field, among them 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, and 7 men prisoners; also, horses, army equipments, &c. The road over which they retreated was strewn with abandoned hats, haversacks, &c. They left 6 of their dead on the field, among them 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, and 7 men prisoners; also, horses, army equipments, &c. The road over which they retreated was strewn with abandoned hats, haversacks, 7c. They impressed wagons to carry off their wounded.
      While all acted well, with but few exceptions, it is a source of great pride to bring to your notice the names of some whose conspicuous gallantry renders their mention both a duty and a pleasure. They are Captain and Lieutenant Chapman, Lieutenants Fox, Richards, Sergeants Palmer, Lavender, and Privates Munson, Edmons, Montjoy, Starke, and Cunningham. My loss was 2 wounded.
     Respectfully, your obedient servant,


    JNO. S. MOSBY,
    Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 157.

Mosby assembled his men on short notice and was a constant threat to Union detachments.  He was also a studious chronicler of his unit's accomplishments.  His fame is largely out of proportion to his impact of the war, but no one can dispute that his adventures were the stuff of good fiction and better history. 


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 157.

February 20, 1864 (Sunday): Disloyal Paw Paws




HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI, Saint Louis, Mo., February 26, 1864.
Messrs. W. T. REYNOLDS and others,
Liberty, Mo.:
    GENTLEMAN: Your letter of February 20, 1864, inclosing copy of one dated December 26th, ultimo, addressed to the department commander, are received and the matters therein set forth have been carefully considered. While I appreciate the feelings and sentiments of loyalty which animate you, and assure you they shall receive all the attention and respect to which they are entitled, I must urge upon you and all unconditional men such wise and considerate policy toward all who are willing to obey the laws that none can fail of protection who act properly. The enemies of our country and local peace and quiet endeavor to damage the national cause and to keep the country in continual hot water by stirring up ill-blood between you and those who with a little care, watching, and kind, but firm, treatment will do well and return to industry and practical citizenship.
     I also request you to furnish names and facts going to prove the "Paw Paws" disloyal and only willing to protect their own homes against robbers, while they would do nothing against the common enemies of our nation and State. If these suggestions are carried out in a spirit of magnanimity and justice, it will greatly aid me in my endeavors to attain the object of your wishes. I want also assurance from you that the aspirates and hatreds engendered against rebels and rebel sympathizers shall not be carried to disturb the peace, as the "Paw Paw" advocates say they will be if they are left to the mercies of our embittered Union men.
     While we must hold all former rebels and their sympathizers bound to respect the laws and feelings of loyal men, we ought to leave those who behave rightfully in peace, notwithstanding their former conduct may have been hostile to the Government. All we ought to ask of them is sincere repentance and modest reserve.
     I am, gentlemen, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


    W. S. ROSECRANS,
    Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 34, Part 2, Page 428.

The "Paw Paws" were local militia, largely composed of civilians who were pro-Confederate early in the war.  Unionists in Missouri referred to them as paw paws because the paw paw grew  in the bushes and they regarded these men as bushwackers.  Rosecrans was a gentleman and disinclined to suspect the worst, but in this case he would have been justified.