Thursday, June 30, 2011

July 1, 1861 (Monday): Arrest of the Baltimore Police Commissioners

Port of Baltimore-Maryland Historical Society Library
July 1, 1861.
Sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers.
SIR: Major-General Banks directs that you will proceed with a detachment of nine companies of your regiment immediately upon receipt of this order to the residence of Mr. Charles Howard, late a member of the board of police commissioners, or wherever else he may be found and him the said Howard arrest and securely hold and bring him to Fort McHenry in this department without fail; for all of which these presents and orders shall be your full warrant and authority.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

On June 28th General Banks ordered the arrest of Kane, marshall of police of Baltimore.  The police board of commissioners protested, declaring police law suspended and the police force officially off duty.  Banks believed arms were being stored by the police for some future use against Union authority.  Maryland citizens were volunteering in large numbers for service in the Confederacy and Baltimore was a base of operations against the vital Baltimore and Ohio railroad.  Lincoln and many northerners reserved a particular dislike for the state, and it took little provocation to suspend civil liberties in the state.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 30, 1861 (Sunday): The Press Is Too Accurate

Library of Congress
                                    HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
                                                Manassas Junction, Jun 30, 1861.
Hon. L. P. Walker
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
    SIR: Your letter of the 29th instant is received.  By the inclosed copy of a letter to General Bonham it will be seen that I had already called his attention to the absolute necessity of stopping any information to the newspapers relative to the strength  or intended operations of this army, for, as I tell him, “secrecy in war is half the victory.”  Unfortunately I find that our regulations do not forbid such publications, and I think the War Department ought to provide for this deficiency as soon as practicable, as well as preventing newspaper reporters from coming within several miles of the lines of an army in the field and in the presence of an enemy.  I have thus far been most industriously circulating exaggerated reports of the strength of the army under my command, and the correspondence referred to has probably destroyed the results of my labors.   The Department may then judge of the disappointment I experienced when the subject was called to my attention.
    I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                G. T. BEAUREGARD,
                                                Brigadier-General Commanding

Beauregard complains of two articles in the Charleston Mercury which contained accurate information as to the condition and location of his forces.  One of the articles purports to be an extract from the letter of a member of Bonhams’s staff, the other from a correspondent in the field.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 29, 1861 (Saturday): McCulloch Builds An Army of the West

Brigadier-General Ben McCulloch

                                                HEADQUARTERS MCCULLOCH’S BRIGADE.
                                                                        Fort Smith, Ark. June 29, 1861.
Hon. L. P. Walker, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
    SIR:  I have the honor to state to you that I will leave here to-morrow morning with the regiments of Arkansas and Louisiana volunteers to march to Maysville, on the northwestern frontier of Arkansas.  General Pearce is already there with 900 men.  Missouri has been crushed, and all of her forces are falling back from the Federal troops in the State.  I have authentic information that a force of nearly 3,000 Federal troops are now in Springfield, Mo., and that General Lyon, with 9,000 men, will soon be with them.  From reliable information is the intention to enter this State and the Indian Territory.  Under these circumstances I have deemed it necessary to issue a proclamation, calling all the men of Western Arkansas to arms for the emergency, and to rally upon Fayetteville, twenty miles from Maysville.  I hope soon to have such a force at my disposal on the northern frontier to drive this force back; at all events to keep them from entering the State.  The Texas regiment has orders to join me as soon as possible.  It has not yet reported here.  My embarrassment here has been very great.  Sent here without a force, without transportation, and without arms, I have found myself very much crippled; but by taking the necessary responsibility I have organized a train, the necessary staff department, called for an additional force, and am determined to march against this force to hold it in check, and, if an opportunity occurs, to strike them a blow in Missouri.  I hope that I will be sustained in all the steps that I have deemed it necessary to take.  
    We are much in need of arms and ammunition.  Is it not possible to send me a supply?
    From the last accounts such of the State troops of Missouri as are still under the command of the governor and General Rains are falling back form the Federal forces toward the southwestern corner of the State.  I have sent reliable men to them, with advice to fall back and form a junction with me.
   I have the honor to be, sir,
                                                                                    BEN MCCOLLOCH,
                                                                        Brigadier-General, Commanding.

McCulloch was creating an Army (the Army of the West) from scratch forces from Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, the measure of his success being the increased size of his force at Wilson’s Creek in August.  A neighbor of Davy Crockett, he fought in the Texas Revolution and in Mexico, served in the Texas Rangers, and as a U.S. Marshall.  Early in the war he quarreled with Sterling Price of Missouri, but was by all accounts quiet and well respected in Texas.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 28, 1861 (Friday): A Little Known Adventure

General William Bate, 25th Governor of Tennessee 

                                                                                    Brooke’s Station, June 28, 1861.
Hon. L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War:
    SIR:  Pursuant to your instructions, received last night, I dispatched Colonel Bate, with the effective force of his regiment present, to support Commander Lewis, C. S. Navy.  I consider the command (about four hundred) unnecessarily strong, as Colonel Bate is positively ordered to take no part in the expedition on the water.  I sincerely hope your excellency will not consider me extra cautious in this matter, for when we consider that an indispensable requisite to success would be the absolute concealment of three hundred or four hundred men on a comparatively small steamer, and those men untrained volunteers, and that this is only one of several other contingencies equally difficult to be reconciled, it seems to me the success would be miraculous.
    I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                                                    TH. H. HOLMES,
                                                                                    Brigadier-General, Commanding

The expedition referenced is one of the most bizarre incidents of the war.  Lewis had observed the side wheeler St. Nicholas regularly approach the warship U.S.S. Pawnee without challenge and hatched a plan to capture the St. Nicholas, embark several hundred men of Bate’s 2nd Tennessee Infantry, and then approach the Pawnee as usual, and then board and capture her.  Confederate Navy Captain George N. Hollins and Maryland Colonel Richard Thomas (a small man dressed and representing himself as a French woman) boarded the St. Nicholas on its regular Baltimore to Georgetown run along with 25 of Thomas’ fifty man unit of Zuoaves who boarded as passengers.  They succeeded in capturing the St. Nicholas and ran it into the Coan River near the mouth of the Potomac where they embarked (contrary to orders) part of Bate’s command who had been sent to provide infantry support for the landing.  The St. Nicholas put back out in search of the Pawnee but was unable to locate it, capturing along the way two commercial schooners and a brig.  They returned by way of the Rappanhanock to Fredericksburg.  In July Thomas returned to Baltimore and tried the same trick again, only to be recognized, arrested, and held in prison until being exchanged in 1863.  Thomas also used the name Zarvona, after a French women he had fallen in love with who had passed away during a foreign adventure of Thomas’ before the war.  Bate went on to become a Major General in the Army of the Tennessee.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 2, Page 959.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

June 27, 1861 (Thursday): Scott and Patterson On Different Pages

Dam No. 4 on the Potomac (Power Station Building Not Present During War)

                                                                        WASHINGTON, June 27, 1861.
Major-General Patterson, U. S. A.
                        Commanding, &c, Hagerstown, Md.:
I have your telegram of this date about a prisoner, but no acknowledgement of mine of the 25th, and letter of the same date.  Under the latter I had expected your crossing the river to-day in pursuit of the enemy.  You needed no special authority for sending prisoners to Fort McHenry.
                                                                        WINFIELD SCOTT 

Patterson was no doubt frustrated by Scott's tone.  It was Scott who had withdrawn a portion of Patterson's troops on the assumption Washington would soon be attacked.  This left Patterson without a battery and minus Burnside's well-drilled regiment.  Sending scouts forward, Patterson estimated Johnston's force at around 5,000 men from Falling Waters to Dam No. 4; 4,500 near Shepherdstown, under Jackson, and a reserve of 5,500 men under Johnston near Bunker Hill.  He overestimates Jackson's force by about 2,000 men, but accurately locates them on the Potomac above Shepherdstown.

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 2, Page 727


June 26, 1861 (Wednesday): Affair at Pop Castle

Pop Castle, White Stone, Lancaster County, Va.

                                                                        URBANNA, VA., June 26, 1861
   MY DEAR SIR:  I have just received a note, by special messenger from C W. Montague, esq., requesting me to furnish to you an accurate account of all the doings of the enemy on the Rappahannock, on Monday evening last.  I have taken much pains to gather, from persons who have visited the scene of action and conversed with those who were engaged in it, the following particulars, which you may regard as reliable.
    About 4 p.m. on Monday, the 24th, a war steamer (the Star of New York), of one thousand tons burden (the Monticello), came to opposite the house of Mr. James W. Gresham, of Lancaster, situated immediately on the river, about twelve miles below Urbanna, on the Lancaster side.  She dispatched to the shore three barges, one a very large one, with a swivel in the bow, and two smaller ones, all filled with armed troops.  The large barge grounded on the flats.  The other two came ashore with a number of armed men, variously estimated at between thirty and sixty.  After reaching the shore some six or eight proceeded up to Mr. Gresham’s house.  One of the party accosted Mr. Gresham, and introduced another of the party.  The first named, it seems, was the pilot, who was a captain of a wood vessel, and acquainted with Gresham.  He inquired if he had any chickens of lambs for sale.  Mr. Gresham replied that “He had a plenty, but a d-----d one for that party.”  He then took the pilot aside and told him they had better be getting away, as there were troops in the neighborhood and that he did not wish his premises to be the scene of a battle, as his mother was very ill in the house.  While they were talking a small company of Lancaster troops, about thirty in number, were seen coming down the road in double-quick time.  The alarm was given, and the enemy fled precipitately to their boats, our men firing into them as they shoved off.  In their flight they left one of the barges, the men, in great confusion, crowded into the other, and others wading out to the large barge on the flats.  In their flight they left, besides the barge, two breech-loading rifles, a revolver, and several swords, with coats, hats, and shoes, thrown away in their hasty retreat.  It is confidently asserted that four of the enemy were killed in the boat.  Nobody hurt on our side.  As soon as our men fired on the enemy the ship opened her guns on Mr. Gresham’s house.  She fired fifty-three shot and shell, seventeen of which took effect, damaging the house to the amount of at least $1,000.  As in all of our engagements, the preservation of life was most remarkable.  One of the balls struck the bed on which Mrs. Gresham was lying ill.  She was then removed to an outhouse, and a bomb-shell came in and exploded in the room without injury to any one.
    I have given you, in a very hurried manner, these particulars, which I gather from most reliable sources of information.  You will unite with us in contemptuous indignation at the cowardly conduct of these dastardly scoundrels, who, refusing to meet half their number face to face, at a safe distance, in their ship, destroy the property of our citizens.
    I hope to be able to visit your camp soon and renew the acquaintance I had the pleasure of having with you last winter.
     Hastily and truly, yours,
                                                                                    JOS. CHRISTIAN
Col. Charles A. Crump, Gloucester Point, Va.

This is one of those occasions when we regret not having a corresponding report of the battle from the other side.  This account of the home guard’s repulse of a Union reconnaissance party has to stand on its merits.  The ship referenced here “The Monticello” is the same as the “Star of New York”, with the reference being to its former name.  The house around which the battle was fought survives and  is known as “Pop Castle” and was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

June 25, 1861 (Tuesday): Scott's Orders to Patterson

                                                                        WASHINGTON, June 25, 1861.

Major-General Patterson:
   SIR: I have received your letters of the 22nd and 23d instant.
   As the enemy on breaking up at Harper’s Ferry did not abandon that district of country, but still continues in force between Winchester and the Potomac, observing that river from Harper’s Ferry to Williamsport, I deem it best that you should with your column remain in his front, and if, as is supposed, with superior or equal numbers, that you should cross the river and offer him battle; but if the enemy should retire upon his resources at Winchester it is not enjoined that you should pursue him to that distance from your base of operations without a well-grounded confidence in your continued superiority.
  A secondary object to which your attention is invited is a combined operation upon Leesburg between a portion of your troops and the column of Colonel Stone, at and (possibly) above the Point of Rocks, in order to occupy and to hold that village, the center of a wealthy district, abounding in friends of the Union.  As I write I learn from Colonel Stone that the enemy has just re-enforced Leesburg up to about 1,600 men, and may increase that number.  Inquire.
                                                                        WINFIELD SCOTT

Patterson’s mission was to interpose between Johnston and Beauregard, which required maintaining close contact.  But at the same time, Scott was reluctant for Patterson to engage Johnston on equal terms.  He had recently tasked Patterson with finding a way to make Harper's Ferry defensible using artillery on Maryland Heights.  Patterson also had received information leading him to believe a column of 8,000 Confederates might be approaching him.  Given the distance involved, and lacking clear information, it is not surprising Patterson chose to say put.

Series I, Vol 2., Page 725

June 24, 1861 (Monday): McDowell Lays Out His Plan

Confederate Works at Manassas

                                    HQRDS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA
                                                                        Arlington, June * __, 1861.

Lieut. Col. E. D. Townsend,
            Asst. Adjt. Gen., Headquarters of the Army:
COLONEL:  I have the honor to submit the following plan of operations, and the composition of force required to carry it into effect, in compliance with the verbal instructions of the General-in-Chief:
  The secession forces at Manassas Junction and its dependencies are supposed to amount at this time to:
Cavalry…… 1,500
Artillery…….  500
   We cannot count of keeping secret our intention to overthrow this force.  Even if the many parties intrusted with the knowledge of the plan should not disclose or discover it, the necessary preliminary measures for such an expedition would betray it; and they are alive and well informed as to every movement, however slight, we make…
    The objective point in our plan is the Manassas Junction.  This is covered by the enemy’s troops stationed at Centreville, Germantown, Fairfax Court-House, Fairfax Station, a place between Fairfax Station and Sangster’s, andon the Occoquan….
    …The country lying between the two armies is mostly thickly wooded, and the roads leading across it, except the turnpikes and railroads, are narrow, and in places sunken by the wear of travel and wash of rains…
     Leaving small garrisons in the defensive works, I propose to move against Manassas with a force of thirty thousand of all arms, organized into three columns, with a reserve of ten thousand…
     The enemy is said to have batteries in position at several places in his front, and defensive works on Bull Run and Manassas Junction.  I do not propose that these batteries be attacked, for I think they may all be turned.  Bull Run, I am told, is fordable at almost any place.  After uniting the columns this side of it, I propose to attack the main position by turning it, if possible, so as to cut off communications by rail with the South, or threaten to do so sufficiently to force the enemy to leave his intrenchments to guard them; if necessary, and if I find it can be done with safety, to move a force as far as Bristoe to destroy the bridge at that place…
   …Believing the chances are greatly in favor of the enemy’s accepting battle between this and the Junction, and that the consequences of that battle will be of the greatest importance to the country, as establishing the prestige in this contest on the one side or the other-the more so as the two sections will be fairly represented by regiments from almost every State-I think it of great consequence that, as for the most part our regiments are exceedingly raw and the best o f them, with few exceptions, not over steady in line, they be organized into as many small fixed brigades as the number of regular colonels will admit, these colonels commanding brigades to be assisted by as many regular officers as can be collected for the purpose, so that the men may have as fair a chance as the nature of things and the comparative inexperience of most will allow.
….I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                                        IRVIN McDOWELL
                                                                        Brigadier-General, Commanding.

McDowell’s plan was sound and also shows an awareness of the difficulties associated with striking a decisive blow with amateur soldiers.  The desire of McDowell to reach as far as Bristoe (much to the rear of the Confederate left) is little remarked on by historians.

Official Records, Series I, Vol 2, Page 720

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 23, 1861 (Sunday): Steamboat John's Bad Joke

1860's Steamboat

                                                                        Case of John S. Emerson

    John S. Emerson was arrested by Lieut. C. H. Sheppard, provost marshal of Alexandria, and committed to the city jail, Washington, by order of General Mansfield June 23, 1861.  Emerson was formerly from Memphis where he was employed as steam-boat captain on the western and Mississippi rivers.  He left there in May and came to Alexandria, passing himself off as Lieutenant Hill, of the Sixth Massachusetts, and claimed to have been wounded while passing through Baltimore with that regiment.  He mingled with the officers and men, talking with the sentinels, and seemed desirous of ascertaining the strength of the Union forces in and about Alexandria.  His conduct was so suspicious that he was finally arrested as a spy and committed as stated above.  He was relaeased on taking the oath of allegiance October 17, 1861, by order of the Secretary of State-From Record Book, State Department, “Arrests for Disloyalty.”

Emerson’s case is a good example of the tension which exists in war time.  In documents attached to his file, his attorney pointed out he was visiting friends and relatives in Alexandria and was in a drunken reverie with them when he made the statements described above.  He subsequently began a letter writing campaign from jail, both to the Secretaries of State and War.  He complained of his health, the conditions of his confinement, a lack of exercise, and noted he “didn’t care which (side) whips” and had only left Memphis because of the ill effect of war on river trade.  He was released on taking the oath of allegiance in October of 1861.

Series II, Vol 2, Page 355.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 22, 1861 (Saturday): Jefferson Davis Congratulates Joe Johnston

View Larger Map

RICHMOND, June 22, 1861.
MY DEAR GENERAL: I congratulate you on the brilliant movement of Colonel Vaughn’s command. To break the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was essential to our operations, and if the bridge at Cheat River and the Grand Tunnel could be destroyed, so as to prevent the use of that railroad for the duration of the war, the effect upon public opinion in Western Virginia would doubtless be of immediate and great advantage to our cause.
If the enemy has withdrawn from your front to attack on the east side of the mountain, it may be that an attempt will be made to advance from Leesburg to seize the Manassas road and to turn Beauregard’s position. The recent effort to repair the railroad from Alexandria to Leesburg may have been with such intent. In that event, if your scouts give you accurate and timely information, an opportunity will be offered you by the roads through the mountain passes to make a flank attack in conjunction with Beauregard’s column, and, with God’s blessing, to achieve a victory alike glorious and beneficial.
We continue to send forward re-enforcements to Manassas Junction. On Monday and Tuesday a battalion of light artillery will go forward, and every effort is made to reach a condition which will enable our forces to shape the campaign by assuming the offensive.
I wish you would write whenever your convenience will permit, and give me fully both information and suggestions. Colonel Thomas recently undertook to explain to me your wants as one authorized to speak for you, and to-day Mr. Staples communicated his impression of your views, necessities, and wishes. I am sure you cannot feel hesitant in writing to me freely, and trust your engagements will permit you to do so frequently.
With earnest wishes for your welfare and happiness, I am, very truly,


This letter is rare in that Jefferson Davis is being elaborately polite to Joseph Johnston. The two men disliked each other even before the war. Here Davis congratulates Johnston on the destruction of track and bridges along the B&O railroad, particularly near McCoole, Maryland (a rail crossing on the Potomac)by the 3rd Tennessee Infantry under Vaughan. The strategic importance of the B&O Railroad was that it connected the northwestern United States to Washington, in much the way Baltimore and Maryland connected the northeast.

Official Records, Series I, Vol 2, Page 945.

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 21, 1861 (Friday): The First Aeronaut

Lowe's Balloon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION
                                                                        June 21, 1861.
Hon. Simon Cameron:
    Dear Sir:  In accordance with your request made to me orally on the morning of the 6th of June, I have examined the apparatus and witnessed the balloon experiments of Mr. Lowe, and have come to the following conclusions:
    1st.  The balloon prepared by Mr. Lowe, inflated with ordinary street gas, will retain its charge for several days.
    2nd.  In an inflated condition it can be towed by a few men along an ordinary road, or over fields, in ordinarily calm weather, from the places where it is filled to another, twenty or more miles distant.
    3rd.  It can be let up into the air by means of a rope in a clam day to a height sufficient to observe the country for twenty miles around and more, according to the degree of clearness of the atmosphere.  The ascent may also be made at night and the camp lights of the enemy observed.
    4th.  From experiments made here for the first time it is conclusively proved that telegrams can be sent with ease and certainty between the balloon and the quarters of the commanding officer.
     5th.  I feel assured, although I have not witnessed the experiment, that when the surface wind is from the east, as it was for several days last week, an observer in the balloon can be made to float nearly to the enemy’s camp (as it is now situated to the west of us), or even to float over it, and then return eastward by rising to a higher elevation.  This assumption is based on the fact that the upper strata of wind in this latitude is always flowing eastward.  Mr. Lowe informs me, and I do not doubt his statement, that he will on any day which is favorable make an excursion of the kind above mentioned.
    6th.  From all the facts that I have observed and the information I have gathered I am sure that important information maybe obtained in regard to the topography of the country and to the position and movement of an enemy by  means of the balloon now, and that Mr. Lowe is well qualified to render service in this way by the balloon now in his possession.
    7th.  The balloon which Mr. Lowe now has in Washington can only be inflated in a city where street gas is to be obtained.  If an exploration is required at a point too distant for the transportation of the inflated balloon, an additional apparatus for the generation of hydrogen gas will be required.  The necessity of gathering the gas renders the use of the balloon more expensive, but this, where important results are required is of comparatively small importance.
   For these preliminary experiments, as you may recollect, a sum not to exceed $200 or $250 was to be appropriated, and in accordance with this, Mr. Lewis has presented me with the inclosed statement of items, which I think are reasonable, since nothing is charged for labor and time of the aeronaut.
   I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, you obedient servant,
                                                                        JOSEPH HENRY
                                                                        Secretary Smithsonian Institution.

Thaddeus Lowe is one of the great men of science of the 19th century.  Henry’s description of the equipment developed by Lowe is a very accurate summation of its capabilities.  Lowe made observations at Bull Run in July, but came down behind Confederate lines and barely escaped becoming a prisonerLowe’s balloons were used successfully through 1863 when he abandoned his work for the Union over cost cutting measures (including reducing his pay from $10 gold per day to $6 gold).  Lowe held numerous patents and developed the water gas process to generate large amounts of hydrogen gas.  Lowe is a member of the military intelligence Hall of Fame.

Official Records, Series III, Vol. 3, Page 254.                     

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 20, 1861 (Thursday): Jim Lane of Kansas

Senator James Lane of Kansas

                                                                                    EXECUTIVE MANSION,
                                                                                    June 20, 1861.
Hon. Secretary of War:
     MY DEAR SIR:  Since you spoke to me yesterday about General J. H. Lane of Kansas, I have been reflecting upon the subject, and have concluded that we need the services of such a man out there at once; that we better appoint him a brigadier-general of volunteers to-day, and send him off with such authority to raise a force (I think two regiments better than three, but as to this I am not particular) as you think will get him into actual work quickest.  Tell him when he starts to put it through.  Not be writing or telegraphing back here, but put it through.
     Yours, truly,
   General Lane has been authorized to raise two additional regiments of volunteers.
                                                                                       SIMON CAMERON
                                                                                       Secretary of War
During the “Bleeding Kansas” period, James Lane was known as “Liberator of Kansas”for his role in leading the Kansas militia.  Lane became a United States Senator from Kansas, and returned to lead a unit in a minor affair “The Battle of Dry Wood Creek” against Sterling Price.  He gained fame, and infamy, for his role in the sack of Osceola, Missouri in which the town of 3,000 was plundered and burned to the ground and nine civilians executed by Lane’s drunken troops.  Lane’s share of the looting was a piano and some silk dresses.  The sack of Osceola provided the historical basis of the movie “The Outlaw Josey Wales”.

Official Records, Series III, Vol. 1, Page 281          

Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 19, 1861 (Wednesday): Scott and the Nervous Generals

General Lew Wallace

                                                                        Washington, June 19, 1861-9.45 p.m.
Maj. Gen. R. Patterson, U. S. A. Hagerstown, MD.:
    McClellan is again alarmed for the safety of Wallace.  I do not believe there is any formidable force in the mountains to assail Wallace, and sooner than be annoyed with these daily rumors it would perhaps be better to call him to you and absorb him.  Govern yourself, however, by the later and better information that you may possess.  Retain two companies of Thomas’ horse, and send him with the other two here.  I shall send Major Palmer temporarily to you.
                                                                        WINFIELD SCOTT

Scott appears to have formed an accurate impression of both the location of Confederate forces and  the reliability of McClellan's intelligence.  Within the week he would have Wallace’s force called to Patterson.

Series I, Vol. 2, Page 708

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 18, 1861 (Monday): Lincoln Intercedes

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

                                                                                    ENGINEER DEPARTMENT
                                                                                                June 18, 1861.
Lieutenant-Colonel Townsend,
            Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters, Washington:
    COLONEL:  I had the honor in a letter dated the 15th to request that Lieutenants Reese and McFarland might be sent from Fort Pickens to resume their duties at Forts Jefferson and Taylor, from which they had been withdrawn by Col. Harvey Brown. ….Colonel Brown exercised a control over engineer property and engineer operations that he could only be entitled to exercise from special assignment by the highest authority, and he delegated besides a like power to his subordinate, for, in virtue of said delegation, major Arnold issued orders to the engineer officer in charge of the construction of Fort Jefferson, directing what particular work he should carry on at that fort; that he should make specified purchases; that he should make a submit for his approval plans for new defenses on the several keys of the harbor; the new works, &c, thus ordering to be set aside instructions from this department and interfering with, arresting, and delaying operations of that fort when the safety of the harbor, the fort, the garrison, and all things there, indeed, required that every available farthing should be applied to the fort proper according to those instructions, causing by these proceedings funds that had been granted by Congress for a specified object to be expended in the face of the most explicit interdict of law and to the delay and detriment of the specified object upon others, sustained by no authority but his own.
     I am constrained, in behalf of the service we are held responsible for, and especially of these defenses of such great importance to our control in the Gulf of Mexico, to make formal protest against this interference, and I do not hesitate to assert that every deviation from the course that the engineer officer would have pursued under his instructions which has been caused by these irregular proceedings, has necessarily increased expenditures, as well as injuriously delayed operations essential to strength and efficiency…..
   I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                                        JOS. G. TOTTEN
                                    Brevet Brigadier-General and Colonel of Engineers

Totten was a career regular Army Officer and 73 at the outbreak of the war.  In the old Army engineers were kings.  Brown, on the other hand, had served at Washington and Fort McHenry, making political connections with the Lincoln administration.  Unknown to Totten, Brown carried an order saying “All officers of the Army and Navy to whom this order may be exhibited will aid by all means in their power the expedition under the command of Col. Harvey Brown, supplying him with men and material, and co-operating with him as he may desire.---Abraham Lincoln.” Brown would take command of Fort Pickens and direct its improvements, to the detriment of Forts Jefferson and Taylor.  Jefferson would never be entirely completed, but protected a key deep water anchorage and was later the place of internment of Doctor Mudd, involved in aiding Lincoln's assassin.  Early in the war Lincoln's already directing the Army involving himself in ways large and small.

Series I, Vol. 52, Part 1, Page 180

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 17, 1861 (Sunday): Shortage of Ammunition Breeds Timidity

General Samuel Cooper, the Confederacy's Ranking General at War's Outbreak

                                                            HEADQUARTERS CAMP BUNKER HILL,
                                                                                    June 17, 1861.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant-General, Richmond Va:
     GENERAL:  On the morning of the 16th intelligence was received, apparently reliable, that no enemy is advancing on Romney, and that the large body of troops collected near Hagerstown would cross the Potomac yesterday.  The troops under my command were therefore directed to this point, on the road from Hagerstown to Winchester, the main route from Maryland into the valley of Virginia.  We are twelve miles in advance of Winchester.  My only hope from this movement is a slight delay in the enemy’s advance.  I believe his force to be about 18,000; ours is 6,500.  Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart, commanding our small body of cavalry, sent me intelligence last night that the Federal troops encamped yesterday afternoon about eight miles from Martinsburg (seventeen miles from this place) on this road.
    I will endeavor to conform as nearly as circumstances may permit to the instructions received from you on the 15th.  The want of ammunition has rendered me very timid.
    I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                            J.  E. JOHNSTON,
                                                            Brigadier-General, C. S. Army
P. S.---Colonel Thomas, who will deliver this to you, goes to expedite a supply of ammunition for small arms.  We have about thirty rounds.

Johnston has fallen back to Bunker Hill, blocking any Union advance up the Shenandoah Valley and placing himself on the flank of any advance by McClellan.  While the Confederates took many firearms and machinery at Harper’s Ferry, they evidently got little ammunition, judging by Johnston’s complain.

Series I, Vol. 2, Page 934

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 16, 1861 (Sunday): McDowell Takes the High Road

Colonel James B. Fry

General Orders, No. 5 Hdqrs. Dept. of Northeastern Va.,
Arlington, June 14, 1861.
Unless under the special orders in each case of a commander of brigade or superior authority, it is forbidden to any officer or soldier within this department to arrest or attempt to arrest any citizen or citizens under the plea of their being secessionists, or for any cause whatsoever save that of being at the time in arms against the United States. Nor will any officer or soldier without the like authority forcibly enter, search, or attempt to search any house or the premises of any peaceable resident or other persons not in arms against the United States. The military or police force will arrest any one found trespassing even on the premises of any citizen without the department.
By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:
Assistant Adjutant-General

This memo defines one of the two schools of thought of Union authorities towards civilians in occupied territory. McDowell’s edict was consistent with the Constitution, but not with the views of many in the administration. Lyon in Missouri and Butler in eastern Virginia are more representative of their views. Fry was a career soldier, who had taken part in the expedition to suppress John Brown’s rebellion at Harper’s Ferry.  Fry served through the war and was brevetted for Bull Run, Shiloh, Perryville and war service.  He remained in the Army until 1881.

Series 1, Vol. 51, Part 1 Page 400

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 15, 1861 (Saturday): Rebels Gone to Winchester

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HAGERSTOWN, June 15, 1861-Received 11.15 p.m.
Col. E. D. Towsend, Assistant Adjutant-General:
I arrived and located my headquarters here at 6 p.m. Harper’s Ferry at 2 p.m. was occupied by five hundred men breaking camp. Everything destroyed; also depot, iron-works, &c., at Martinsburg. Rebels gone to Winchester.
Major-General, Commanding.

Johnston had retreated from Harper’s Ferry with 6,500 men, stopping along the way at Bunker Hill on the way to Winchester. In doing so, he maintained a presence on the flank of any Union force moving eastward. The Union forces, under Patterson, were proceeding cautiously, having initially believed the evacuation of Harper’s Ferry a trap. “The destruction of Harper’s Ferry is a decoy, I fear.”, Patterson had written earlier in the day.

Official Records, Series I, Vol. II, Page 689

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 14, 1861 (Friday): The Push Against Harper's Ferry Continues

Colonel Charles P. Stone

                                                                                                                                                                             ROCKVILLE, June 14, 1861-8 o’clock a.m.
   COLONEL:  The First Regiment Pennsylvania was pushed forward early this morning two miles beyond the position of the new York Ninth Regiment, on the road to the two ferries.  The section of Griffin’s battery has gone to the same point.  The First New Hampshire will leae this evening, bivouac nine miles from this, and, in the cool of the morning, proceed to Poolesville.  I leave within the hour, taking the cavalry force to make a reconnaissance beyond Poolesville, towards the ferries, where there are said to be 300 to 400 of the enemy.  I do not credit the report, but, if true, it will not be difficult to capture them.
    From Poolesville it will be easy to march either on the ferries or to the Point of Rocks, as may be deemed most advisable.
    The command is in good health and fine spirits.
    I inclose returns of elections in this region, showing a large majority for the Union candidate for Congress.
    Very respectfully, I am, colonel, your most obedient servant,
                                                                                    CHAS. P. STONE,
                                                Colonel Fourteenth Infantry, Commanding Expeditions.
Lieut. Col. E. D. Townsend,
            Assistant Adjustant-General, Headquarters of the Army.

With McClellan coming from the West, Wallace driving in on Confederates in Romney,  Patterson moving on Hagerstown, and Stone moving  out toward Leesburg Johnston began withdrawing from Harper’s Ferry to Winchester even as Stone was writing his message to Townsend. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 13, 1861 (Thursday): Davis Counsels Beauregard

White House of the Confederacy, Richmond

Richmond, June 13, 1861.
General Beauregard, Cmdg., &c, Manassas Junction, Va.:
My Dear General: Colonel Jones delivered to me your letter of the 12th instant, and, as suggested by you, I conversed with him on the matters to which it related. Your information may be more accurate than we possess in relation to the purpose of the enemy, and I will briefly reply to you on the hypothesis which forms the basis of your suggestion.
If the enemy commences operations by attack upon Harper’s Ferry, I do not perceive why General Johnston should be unable, even before overwhelming numbers, to retire behind the positions where the enemy would approach him in reverse. It would seem to me not unreasonable to expect that before he reached Winchester, the terminus of the railroad is his possession, the people of the fertile and populous value would rise in mass to aid him in repelling the invader. But suppose it be otherwise, he could still, by retiring to the passes on the Manassas Railroad and its adjacent mountains, probably check the progress of the enemy, and prevent him from either taking possession of the valley or passing to the rear of your position. We hope soon to re-enforce you to an extent equal to the strength you require by the junction of General Johnston, and I cannot doubt but that you will agree with me that you would then be better circumstanced to advance upon Alexandria than if General Johnston, by withdrawing from the valley, had left the enemy with the power to pass to your rear, to cut your line of communication, and advance to attack you in reverse while you were engaged with the enemy in front.
Concurring fully with you in the effect which would be produced by possession of Arlington Heights and Alexandria, if your rear is at the same time sufficiently covered, it is quite clear that, if the case should be otherwise, your possession, if acquired, would be both brief and fruitless.
To your request that a concerted plan of operations should be adopted, I can only reply that the present position and unknown purpose of the enemy require that our plan should have many alterations. I have noticed your converging lines upon Richmond, and it can hardly be necessary to remind you that we have not at this time the transportation which would enable us to move upon those lines as described. Should the fortune of war render it necessary to retire our advance columns, they must be brought mainly upon railroads, and that of Harper’s Ferry would come by your present position. It would therefore be a necessity that General Johnston’s columns should make a junction with yours before yours retired; but I have not anticipated the necessity of your retreat, and have struggled rather to increase your force, and look hopefully forward to see you enabled to assume the offensive. Had I been less earnestly engaged in providing for yours and other commands, I should have had the pleasure of visiting you before this date.
Very truly, yours,

Davis' leading commanders both wanted to move from their current positions. To the west was Johnston, constantly asking for authority to retreat from Harper's Ferry. To his north, Beauregard, the conjurer of grand offensive dreams, wanted Johnston to come to him and for them to move forward to retake Alexandria.  Letters to them from Davis, Lee, and Cooper all show Richmond still wanting them to maintain their current positions while new recruits were pushed forward to reenforce them.  Richmond had no master strategic plan, but wanted two large armies in the field, one to cover the Valley, the other the approaches to Richmond.  To the Union, Davis was willing to concede the opening move.

Official Records: Series I, Vol. II, Page 923

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 12, 1861 (Wednesday): Free Advice From A Politician

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Lloyd’s, Va., June 12, 1861.
His Excellency Jefferson Davis, &c:
My Dear Sir: Since I left Richmond I have been thinking of the rumor that the real attack upon Richmond would be made from the Rappahannock River. Whether the plan has been laid I know not, but I fear it is feasible, and, as you cannot acquainted with the topography of the country, I will say why I think it practicable. The only defense to bar the passage of our steamers on the Rappahannock, up to the head of tide, is a little fort (Lowry) which is now being constructed about thirty mile from the mouth of the river. Should an army be landed a little below the fort, it would cost but little to silence it, and then the whole Rappahannock Valley would be thrown open to the hostile fleet….Once at the junction, an invading army might take either of two railroads, and reach Richmond in a run of twenty miles; or it might, by a march of forty miles, upon the Central Railroad, put a strong force at Gordonsville, the junction of the Lynchburg and Alexandria Railroad; nor with the Hanover Junction, in the hands of an enemy, could Richmond be re-enforced, except from the south side of James River. As a strategic point, would not Hanover Junction be more valuable to an enemy than Harper’s Ferry itself? Indeed, would not its possession secure Harper’s Ferry.
Very truly and faithfully, your friend,

Hunter had been Speaker of the House in the US House of Representatives, and a close friend of John C. Calhoun. In less than a month he would be appointed Confederate Secretary of State. Like many in positions of power, he believed his understanding of military affairs ran deeper than it actually did. The Confederates had considered batteries at two different points at the mouth of the river, but didn’t have heavy enough ordinance to cover the entire channel. Fort Lowry was constructed at a narrow point on the river and was eventually completed before being abandoned in 1862. It is interesting to note that an ascent of the Rappahannock and march on Richmond from the river was never given serious consideration at any point during the war. Fort Lowry's location is marked by "B" on the map.

Series I, Volume 2, Pages 920-922

Friday, June 10, 2011

June 11, 1861 (Tuesday): Lyons Builds An Army

Saint Louis Arsenal, Lyons Headquarters

                                    WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, June 11, 1861
General Lyon:
   You are authorized to enlist in the service of the United States such loyal citizens of the State of Missouri as you think proper, who shall not receive pay except when called into active service this Department.  Five thousand additional stand of arms have been ordered to be forwarded to you for distribution among them.  The disbursing officers in Missouri are instructed to discriminate in the purchases against persons disaffected to the Government.
                                                                                    SIMON CAMERON,
                                                                                    Secretary of War

Missouri remains divided, with Lyon accumulating volunteers from the German community in Saint Louis and many rural areas being neutral or pro-Southern.  It is important to remember the armies of 1861 were often little better than armed mobs.  Lyon had numbers and initiative, but he did not have a professional fighting force.

Official Records, Series I, Vol. III, Page 384.