Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 7, 1861 (Wednesday): The Long Winter Ahead

Soldiers Tents-National Archives

WAR DEPARTMENT, Richmond, Va., August 7, 1861.

SIR: The war existing between this Government and that at Washington will probably be prolonged during the coming winter, and in view of the rigor of the climate at that season on the line of the seat of war it is desired that our soldiers shall be well supplied with clothing. You are therefore requested to cause the quartermaster's department to have made up at an early day, to the extent to your ability, woolen clothing to supply the needs of the Army, to be charged to this Government. The necessity of this provision to meet the demands of the Army will be apparent to Your Excellency, and I am quite sure the measure proposed will receive your approbation and that you will respond to it with alacrity. I must, however, say that this Department is doing everything in its power to provide clothing, and I have gone so far, in the absence of positive affirmative legislation upon the subject, as to assume the responsibility of directing the Quartermaster-General of the Confederate States to contract for the supplies that may be required. But Your Excellency is doubtless aware of the difficulties in the way of procuring a full provision in consequence of the blockade of our ports preventing importations and the limited quantity of goods in the general market. Hence it is the State governments are earnestly solicited to co-operate with our exertions to place the future beyond all doubt.

Secretary of War.

(Addressed severally to the Governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.)

Series IV, Vol. 1, Part 1, Page 534

After the elation in the South and shock in the North generated by the Battle of Bull Run, neither side was in a position to immediately land another blow.  This brought the realization it would be a longer war than anticipated, one which had not been planned for.  Here, Confederate Secretary of War Walker does show foresight in attempting in August to have the states begin preparing their troops for winter duty. 

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