Tuesday, July 31, 2012

August 1, 1862 (Saturday): D.H. Hill Shells McClellan and the Navy

Robert Knox Sneden-Firing of Cole's House-Virginia Historical Society

About half an hour after midnight, on the morning of August 1, the enemy brought some light batteries to Coggins' Point and the Cole's house, on the right bank of James River, directly opposite Harrison's Landing, and opened a heavy fire upon our shipping and encampments. It was continued rapidly for about thirty minutes, when they were driven back by the fire of our guns. This affair was reported in the following dispatch:

Berkeley, August 1, 1862-8 a.m.
    Firing of night before last killed some 10 men and wounded about 15.
    No harm of the slightest consequence done to the shipping, although several were struck. Sent party across river yesterday to the Cole's house; destroyed it and cut down the timber. Will complete work to-day, and also send party to Coggins'Point, which I will probably occupy. I will attend to your telegraph about pressing at once. Will send Hooker out. Give me Burnside, and I will stir these people up. I need more cavalry; have only 3,700 for duty in cavalry division.
    Adjutant General's Office forgot to send Sykes' commissions as major-general with those of other division commanders; do me the favor to hurry it on.

Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 11, Part 1, Page 76. 

This was the raid Lee had planned, sending Pendleton and over 50 guns of artillery under D. H. Hill to fire upon Union supply vessels.  The intent was to hasten McClellan's departure so Lee could begin a move north to alleviate pressure on Richmond.  The raid was of no great consequence, and on this day Burnside's troops were being put in motion headed to Aquia Creek.  The decision to withdraw McClellan's forces was already made regardless of the this shelling.  One direct result of the raid was a landing party of Union forces who went across the river on the night of August 1 and set fire to the Cole House, home of ardent secessionist Edmund Ruffin.

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 31, 1862 (Friday): Longstreet Gives Up Plan to Divert the James River

Sandbags at Confederate Battery Dantzler (http://www.chesterstation.org/projects/dantzler.php)

July 31, 1862.
General H. A. WISE,
Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: It is not worth while to continue the work on the dikes. I am quite satisfied we can accomplish nothing by it. I wish you would give notice to your neighbors that they must try and get their wheat crops in. If we should have to give up their grounds, we must have the wheat destroyed rather than allow it to fall into their hands. We have rumors that the enemy is drawing off his forces, but have not been able to learn anything definite.
    Very respectfully,

Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 2, Page 602.

The plan appears to have been to reduce the water level in the James River so low as to stop Union gunboats from passing up river to threaten Richmond.  Here Longstreet abandons the plan because rumors, which proved to be correct, said McClellan's forces were being drawn off from Richmond.  This was a very different project from the Dutch Gap Canal, which Union forces built later in the war in an attempt to bypass Parker's Battery and Battery Dantzler.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 30, 1862 (Thursday): Halleck Takes Command

General Henry W. Halleck
WASHINGTON, July 30, 1862.
Major General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN,
Commanding, &c., Army of the Potomac.:
    MY DEAR GENERAL: You are probably aware that I hold my present position contrary to my own wishes, and that I did everything in my power to avoid coming to Washington; but after declining several invitations from the President I received the order of the 11th instant, which left me no option.
    I have always had strong personal objections to mingling in the politico-military affairs of Washington. I never liked the place, and like it still less at the present time. But aside from personal feeling, I really believed I could be much more useful in the West than here. I had acquired some reputation there, but here I could hope for none, and I greatly feared that whatever I might do I should receive more abuse than thanks. There seemed to be a disposition in the public press to cry down any one who attempted to serve the country instead of party. This was particularly the case with you, as I understood, and I could not doubt that it would be in a few weeks the case with me. Under these circumstances I could not see how I could be of much use here. Nevertheless, being ordered, I was obliged to come.
    In whatever has occurred heretofore you have had my full approbation and cordial support. There was no one in the Army under whom I could serve with greater pleasure, and I now ask from you that same support and co-operation and that same free interchange of opinions as in former days. If we disagree in opinion, I know that we will do so honestly and without unkind feelings. The country demands of us that we act together and with cordiality. I believe we can and will do so. Indeed we must do so if we expect to put down the rebellion. If we permit personal jealousies to interfere for a single moment with our operations we shall not only injure the cause but ruin ourselves. But I am satisfied that neither of us will do this, and that we will work together with all our might and bring the war to an early termination.
    I have written to you frankly, assuring you of my friendship and confidence, believing that my letter would be received with the same kind feelings in which it is written.
    Yours, truly,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 11, Part 3, Page 343.

Halleck knew McClellan still smarted over having the overall command of Union armies in the field taken from him by the President.  In this message he attempts to establish a good tone in relations with McClellan.  It was about this time the administration fixed on removing McClellan's army back to Aquia Creek.  This being the case, it is likely Halleck was not fully informed, even on starting his duties.  That Halleck felt compelled to mention "personal jealousies" would seem to imply he believed McClellan possibly felt those emotions with regard to being over sloughed in favor of Halleck. 

July 29, 1862 (Wednesday): Medals of Honor

Original Configuration of Medal of Honor

No. 91. Washington, July 29, 1862.
The following resolutions, acts, and extract from acts of Congress are published for the information of all concerned:
* * * * * * * * *
I.-Public Resolution-Numbers 43.
A RESOLUTION to provide for the presentation of "medals of honor" to the enlisted men of the army and volunteer forces who have distinguish themselves in battle during the present rebellion.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, authorized to cause two thousand "medals of honor" to be prepared, with suitable emblematic devices, and to direct that the same be presented, in the name of Congress, to such non-commissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldierlike qualities, during the present insurrection. And that the sum of the sum of ten thousand dollars be, and the same hereby, appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the purpose of carrying this resolution into effect.
Approved July 12, 1862.
* * * * * * *

After Congress had earlier approved such a medal of sailors and marines, a similar resolution was approved on July 12, 1862.  Fifteen hundred and twenty-two would be issued during the Civil War.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 28, 1862 (Tuesday): Lee Plans to Cut McClellan's Supply Line

General D. H. Hill

July 28, 1862.
    SIR: General D. H. Hill has been directed to proceed with picked troops and about fifty pieces of artillery to old Fort Powhatan to endeavor to cut off General McClellan's communication by the river. I have ordered General Pendleton with five of his reserve batteries-the two 32-pounders, the long 32-pounder (Long Tom), and the 18-pounder, all on siege carriages-on the same expedition. I know of no heavier blow that could be dealt General McClellan's army than to cut off his communication. It would oblige him to break up from his position and retire at least to the broad part of the river. But if this cannot be done, the attempt, if partially successful, will anchor him in his present position, from which he would not dare to advance, so that I can re-enforce Jackson without hazard to Richmond, and thus enable him to drive, if not destroy, the miscreant Pope.
    I am particularly anxious that our newspapers may not give the enemy notice of our intentions, and have directed General Hill, in order to cover his movement, to say he was moving against Suffolk or Norfolk, so as to satisfy the curiosity of our countrymen. I leave it for you to judge whether an enigmatical paragraph in the Dispatch to that effect or entire silence may be most advisable.
    To have the honor to be, &c.,

R. E. LEE,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 11, Part 2, Page 936.

This letter to Hill shows Lee's audacity, envisioning an expedition to the South side of the James River, about four miles below Harrison's Landing.  Old Fort Powhatan dated back to colonial days, and had been improved somewhat by the Confederates early in the war.  It commanded the river at Hood's Point, where the channel narrowed considerably in a bend.  Lee is obviously sporting for a fight, eager to get away from Richmond and get at the "miscreant" Pope.  Lee's plan to use the newspapers for misinformation shows a sophistication which anticipated the importance of the media in conveying information, but accurate and ruses.  For those interested in using Google Earth to view obscure sites, the fort is near Disputania, Virginia at the end of Fort Powhatan Road.  Some traces of the fort remain, but not substantial enough to be shown in aerial views.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 27, 1862 (Monday): Lee Wants Pope Supressed

General Adolphus Steinwehr

July 27, 1862.
Commanding Valley District:
    GENERAL: I have received your dispatch of 26th instant.* I will send A. P. Hill's division and the Second Brigade of Louisiana Volunteers to you. Stafford's regiment (Ninth Louisiana) need not, therefore, be sent here, as directed in Special orders, Numbers 163. These troops will exceed 18,000 men. Your command ought certainly to number that amount. What has become of them? I heard they were coming
to you from the valley. Do not let your troops run down if it can possibly be avoided by attention to their wants, comforts, &c., by their respective commanders. This will require your personal attention; also consideration and preparation in your movements. I want Pope to be suppressed. The course indicated in his orders, if the newspapers report them correctly, cannot be permitted and will lead to retaliation on our part. You had better notify him the first opportunity. The order of Steinwehr must be disavowed, or you must hold the first captains from his army for retaliation. They will not be exchanged. A. P. Hill you will, I think, find a good officer, with whom you can consult, and by advising with your division commanders as to your movements much trouble will be saved you in arranging details, as they can act more intelligently. I wish to save you trouble from my increasing your command. Cache your troops as much as possible till you can strike your blow, and be prepared to return to me when done, if necessary. I will endeavor to keep General McClellan quiet till it is over, if rapidly executed.
    Very respectfully and truly,

R. E. LEE,

*Not found.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 12, Part 3, Page 918.

Steinwehr had issued an order saying any civilian who violated their oath of allegiance (and all civilians within the lines of his division were forced to take the oath) would be shot.  This Confederate government issued orders, here related by Lee to Jackson, that no officers of Steinwehr's Division be considered eligible for exchange, so that if any civilians were executed under the order there would be an officer of his division shot on each occasion in retaliation.  Steinwehr was an effective officer, and as a native German was a good leader of a division which consisted of many immigrants.  After the war he taught at Yale.

As almost a postscript, Lee notifies Jackson of the assignment of Hill and his troops to Jackson's command, expressing the idea he was an officer who Jackson could consult with.  Lee appears to be gently admonishing Jackson to take his subordinates more into his confidence, but he could well have saved the ink.  Jackson and Hill did not take to each other, with Jackson ultimately preferring charges against him.  Hill found life with Jackson even more disagreeable than his time with Longstreet, whom he carried not at all for. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 26, 1862 (Sunday): The Crittenden Court

General William Nelson
Major-General BUELL:
    John Morgan is retreating from Kentucky and will come in at Sparta. I want cavalry, and I want General Jackson, who is now in Nashville, to command it. I have sent repeated orders to Colonel Boone for his regiment to come here at once, and he will neither answer nor does he come. I also ordered one battalion of Wolford's cavalry to march here. I hear nothing of it one way or the other. I can settle this part of the country and stop Morgan and Forrest and be in position to receive any forces from Chattanooga, if I can get my orders obeyed. I have ordered the Thirty-first Indiana, Colonel Cruft, to march here and join its brigade. If Morgan and Forrest get together they will have 3,500 well mounted cavalry. General Manson arrived this morning.


Morgan's raid was one of the few pieces of good news the Confederates had in the western theater since early in the war.  Morgan was working his way back into Tennessee and Nelson was intent on trapping him before he could.  "Bull" Nelson was a capable officer from Kentucky and friend of the President's.  He possessed both a gregarious personality and a raging temper (the latter of which would lead to his been shot to death by a fellow Union officer in September during a card game). Nelson commanded Union defenses in Kentucky with his headquarters at Louisville.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 25, 1862 (Saturday): Pope Removes Protection of Civilian Property

General Pope's HQ at Rappahannock Station (13thMass.org)


No. 13.
Washington, July 25, 1862.
    Hereafter no guards will be placed over private houses or private property of any description whatever. Commanding officers are responsible for the conduct of the troops under their command, and the Articles of War and Regulations of the Army provide ample means for restraining them to the full extent required for discipline and efficiency.
    Soldiers were called into the field to do battle against the enemy, and it is not expected that their force and energy shall be wasted in protecting private property of those most hostile to the Government.
No soldier serving in this army shall hereafter be employed in such service.
    By command of Major-General Pope:

Colonel and Chief of Staff.

Pope was regarded by Confederate authorities in general, and Lee in particular, as a miscreant.  He had come from the west, where the armies were less disciplined and war involved civilians to a much greater extent than in the east.  In many of the flurry of orders he issued on assuming command he appears intent on gaining favor with the administration by contradicting statements and practices of McClellan, lenient treatment of civilians being one.  His denouement as a commander would come shortly.

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 24, 1862 (Friday): "In haste, but in kindness.."

                                                  General William T. Sherman

SAMUEL SAWYER, Esq., Union Appeal:
    DEAR SIR: It is well I should come to an understanding at once with the press as well as the people of Memphis, which I am ordered to command, which means control for the interest, welfare, and glory of the whole Government of the United States.
    Personalities in a newspaper are wrong and criminal. Thus, though you meant to be complimentary in your sketch of my career, you make more than a dozen mistakes of facts, which I need not correct as I don't desire my biography till I am dead. It is enough for the world to know that I live and am a soldier, bound to obey the orders of my superiors, the laws of my country, and to venerate its Constitution; that when discretion is given me I should exercise it and account for it to my superiors.
    I regard your article headed "City Council, General Sherman, and Colonel Slack" as highly indiscreet. Of course no person who can jeopardize the safety of Memphis can remain here, much less exercise public authority, but I must take time and be satisfied that injustice be not done.
    If the parties named be the men you describe, the fact should not be published to put them on their guard and encourage their escape. The evidence should be carefully collected, authenticated, and then placed in my hands.
    But your statement of facts is entirely qualified in my mind and loses its force by your negligence of very simple facts within your reach as to myself. I had been in the army six years in 1846; am not related at all to any member of Lucas, Turner & Co.; was associated with them six years instead of two; am not colonel of the Fifteenth Infantry, but of the Thirteenth.
    Your correction this morning, as to the acknowledged error as to General Denver, is still erroneous.
General M. L. Smith did not belong to my command a Shiloh at all, but was transferred to me just before reaching Corinth.
    I mention these facts in kindness, to show you how wrong it is to speak of persons.
    I will attend to the judge, mayor, board of aldermen, and policemen all in good time.
    Use your influence to re-establish system, order, government. You may rest easy that no military commander is going to neglect internal safety as well as to guard against external danger, but to do right requires time, and move patience than I usually possess is necessary. If I find the press of Memphis actuated by high principle and a sole devotion to their country I will be their best friend; but if I find them personal, abusive, dealing in innuendoes and hints at a blind venture, and looking to their selfish aggrandizement and fame, then they had better look out, for I regard such as greater enemies to their country and mankind than the men who, from a mistaken sense of State pride, have taken muskets and fight us about as hard as we care about.
    In haste, but in kindness, yours, &c.,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 17, Part 2, Page 116.

Sherman had no fondness for the press, no doubt from experience.  Earlier in the war numerous papers, many in the North, found fault with his conduct and printed rumors as to his emotional stability.  It is notable Sherman here is much kinder to a newspaperman from the South than he normally would be with those of the North.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 23, 1862 (Thursday): Lee Puts Off Jackson

General Robert E. Lee

HEADQUARTERS, July 23, 1862.
Major General THOMAS J. JACKSON,
Commanding Valley District:
   GENERAL: I have received your letter* of the 21st, with inclosure. I am in doubt as to the position and numbers of the enemy in your front and on the Rappahannock, and can get no clew as to his intentions. I am inclined to the belief that General McClellan is being re-enforced to the extent of the means of his Government and that he will continue to be so. A force will be kept in front of Washington to guard its approach, and General Pope, I presume, is charged with this duty. His main body, I suspect, is not far from Manassas, that being his best front, and his scouts and skirmishers are sent out for plunder, provisions, and devastation. I have not been as yet able to send you re-enforcements. Indeed, unless General Pope was within striking distance, or you were prepared with transportation,, provisions, &c., for a further aggressive movement, I saw no object. I have not heard your strength or condition, or what favorable prospect you saw for a blow. The troops have not yet arrived from the south. General McClellan is feeling stronger, is uneasy in his position, and no doubt feels the necessity to advance upon Richmond. He is making daily demonstrations to deceive us or test our strength. Under these circumstances I am reluctant to weaken the force around Richmond without seeing a prospect of striking a blow elsewhere. I am, however, ready to re-enforce you as soon as that prospect is apparent.
    I am, most respectfully and truly, yours,

R. E. LEE,

*Not found.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 12, Part 3, Page 917.

 Jackson was in the Gordonsville area with about 11,000 men, an insufficient amount to strike he a blow.  From his correspondence with Lee during this period he was much agitated his lack of resources prevented his going on the offensive.  Essentially, Jackson was back in the weakened position he was in when he first came to the Valley.  It would be easy to speculate he wanted to make an aggressive move to recompense for his lack of success during the Seven Days campaign, but for the fact when in this same position previously he also was often requesting reinforcements to make an offensive possible.  It is clear from this letter Lee could not begin any offensive campaign until the question of the safety of Richmond was answered. It is also interesting to see Lee taking note at this early point of the abuse of the civilian population of northern Virginia.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 22, 1862 (Wednesday): Bragg Talks Strategy

General Braxton Bragg

TUPELO, July 22, 1862.
   MY DEAR GENERAL: As I am changing entirely, under altered circumstances, the plan of operations here, I submit to you what I propose and beg your candid criticism, and in view of the cordial and sincere relations we have ever maintanined, I trust to your compliance. I am moving the Army of the Mississippi, 34,000 effectives, to East Tennessee to join with Smith's 20,000 and take the offensive. My reasons are: Smith is so weak as to give me great uneasiness for the safety of his line, to lose which would be a great disaster. They refuse to aid him from the east or south and put the whole responsibility on me. To aid him at all from here necessarily renders me too weak for the offensive against Halleck, with at least 60,000 strongly intrtenched in my front. With the country between us reduced almost to a desert by two armies and a drought of two months, neither of us could advance in the absence of rail transportation. It seemed to me then I was reduced to the defensive altogether or to the move I am making. By throwing my cavalry forward toward Grand Junction and Tuscumbia the impression is created that I am advancing on both places and they are drawing in to meet me. The Memphis and Charleston road has been kept cut, so they have no use of it and have at length given it up. Before they can know my movement I shall be in front of Buell at Chattanooga, and by cutting off his transportation may have him in a tight place. Van Dorn will be able to hold his own with about 20,000 on the Mississippi. Price stays here with 16,000. Thus you have my plan. I leave to- morrow for Mobile, thence to Chattanooga. Our cavalry is paving the way for me in Middle Tennessee and Kentucky. Crittenden is quite a prize, and the whole affair in proportion to numbers more brilliant than the grand battles where strategy seems to have been the staple production on both sides; and if I am any judge the enemy beat us at it. We may congratulate ourselves that McClellan was satisfgied with changing his base, for it occurs to my obtuse mind that a bold stroke at Richmond, while we were hunting for him, would have ruined us. The papers seem to be groping in the dark as to the reasons which influenced the change here, and attributing motives to each of us never entertained by either. Fortunately we know each other too well and have this cause too much at heart to be influenced by these things.*
    Hoping for your restoration and return, truly yours,


*For reply, see VOL. XVI, Part I, p. 711.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 331.

An interesting letter.  Bragg had a reputation for being ill tempered, but here displays a remarkable good will in his relations to Beauregard, who he has replaced in command.  Perhaps in seeing the newspaper stories he alludes to he believed Beauregard could have been offended and moved to head off any ill will between the two.  It is a good description of why he moved his army east and contains an element not sufficiently noted, that is the effect of drought upon Bragg's plan of campaign.  It was difficult in best of times to leave an army stationary for an extended period for fear of depleting resources in the vacinity.  A drought made matters that much worse.  Finally, it appears Bragg gives me credit to McClellan's ineptitude for saving Richmond than to Lee for attacking.

July 21, 1862 (Tuesday):Jackson Moves West

"Westover"-Harrison's Landing (LOC)

WASHINGTON, VA., July 21, 1862.
Major-General POPE:
    I have just received a dispatch from Colonel Anisansel, First Virginia Cavalry, dated Culpeper, July 21. He says:

    I received orders from General Hatch to strike the Richmond and Gordonsville Railroad in the neighborhood of Louisa Court-House, on Gold Mine Creek, and burn the bridge.

   He started Friday, 3. p. m., with five companies of First Virginia Cavalry; arrived within 4 miles of Louisa Court-House; learned with certainly that Jackson had been there at 2 p. m. Saturday, 19th July. Jackson was received with great rejoicing, and left with 10,000 or 12,000 men by land on the State road for Gordonsville, with a large force of artillery. He left rear guard at Louisa Court-House of 3,500 men and one regiment of cavalry. Colonel Anisansel proceeded to the left of Louisa Court-House, but was informed by prisoners and contrabands that no bridges or culverts were between Gordonsville and Hannover Court-House. He failed in attempting to tear up the track for want of tools and the presence of rebel troops moving on the State road to and from. He reports that he heard the cars running, and a great stirring up was evident on his left, toward Hanover Court-House. He finally made a dash at his right, upon consultation with his officers, to destroy what he could, but encountered a heavy body of cavalry in moving one-half mile, and withdrew slowly, being ordered not to engage the enemy. He thinks they were the first Yankees in that quarter. He says he would have destroyed the bridges had he found them, and ordered officers to go back to the same neighborhood, about 50 miles from Culpeper Court-House, and destroy stores.
    I have not heard of this enterprise from General Hatch, and now received the news direct from Colonel Anisansel. Have sent report of the information relating to the enemy to General McDowell and General Sigel. Your orders to General Hatch have seen forwarded to him at Culpeper.
    No other news of importance.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 12, Part 3, Page 492.

Jackson had been detached from Lee's forces at Richmond and was back in the vicinity of Louisa, about 45 miles north and west of Richmond and 35 miles south and east of Fredericksburg.  Lee believed the detachment might prompt the administration to remove McClellan from Richmond if there was a perceived threat to Washington.  But it appears the Unionists had a clear understanding of the relatively small size of Jackson's command and did not take the bait.  In any case, it was necessary to return some force to the area to protect the Virginia Central Railroad, the Confederate supply line to and from the Valley of the Shenandoah.  For now, the standoff continued in front of Richmond.  McClellan remained with 90,000 men in a malarial region, with 16,000 of them reporting sick.  The debate continued as to the next move, McClellan wanting to eventually resume operations and some of his command (such as Keyes) wanting to repair to a more hospitable climate before refitting and resuming the offensive. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 20, 1862 (Monday): Bragg Leaves Tupelo

General William S. Rosecrans

General GRANT:
    GENERAL: From a gentleman whom I know, who was imprisoned by the rebels and escaped after two unsuccessful attempts, bringing with him the irons with which he was manacled at Tupelo, I learn the following important facts:
    Bragg with a large force left Tupelo on the 7th, the date of his flag-of-truce letter to General Halleck, for the east, marching by Peeksville toward Chattanooga. A small force left Tupelo for Mobile July 1. There has been additional forces sent from Tupelo to Saltillo. Bradfute's cavalry is at Fulton. Thomas Jordan commands at Saltillo. Price is at Priceville, 6 miles east of Tupelo. A brigade is half west of Tupelo. No troops any farther west. Total force in that vicinity will not exceed 20,000. No troops were seen by him north of New Albany except a few strolling cavalry.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 17, Part 2, Page 107.

This is the beginning of Bragg's campaign.  With a relatively small force and 270 miles between Tupelo and Chattanooga, he faced severe obstacles in trying to wrest control of eastern Tennessee back from the Unionists. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 19, 1862 (Sunday): Enter Mosby

Colonel John Singleton Mosby

July 19, 1862.
Major General T. J. JACKSON,
Commanding Army of the Valley:
    GENERAL: The bearer, John S. Mosby, late first lieutenant, First Virginia cavalry, is en route to scout beyond the enemy's lines toward Manassas and Fairfax. He is bold, daring, intelligent, and discreet. The information he may be obtain and transmit to you may be relied upon, and I have no doubt that he will soon give additional proofs of his value. Did you receive the volume of Napoleon and his Maxims I sent you through General Charles S. Winder's orderly?
     Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Cavalry.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 2, Page 594.

Mosby would later become a partisan ranger, but at this point in the war was one of Stuart's scouts.  He was coming fresh off the high adventure of Stuart's ride around McClellan's army and now engaged in further adventures.  A lawyer before the war, Mosby was a keen observer in the field and  of human nature, as his post war writings and speeches show.  Stuart's sending a copy of Napoleon's Maxim's to Jackson was an example of the good will which existed between two very opposite personalities.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 18, 1862 (Saturday): "Semi-Pious, Semi-Official, and Altogether Disagreeable"

Marker Commemorating Montgomery White Sulphur Springs

July 18, 1862.
General J. E. JOHNSTON:
   MY DEAR JO.: Yours of the 28th of June, inclosing sheets of my report, was received yesterday, postmarked Richmond, June 30. Rather a long time coming it seems to me. I at once omitted the portions alluding to the two subjects referred to by yourself, and by the train to-day send the corrected sheets with this by Captain Beckham, aide-de-camp, to insure against further unnecessary delay. The news you have me from the battle-field was a "little old," but I felt none the less gratified that you wrote me in spite of wounds and pains, and was as mad as ---, and "cussed" some about "Confederate mails." I wrote Lee asking him to reform my division and make certain disposition of my staff the day before I left Richmond. He has taken no notice of the letter, but Melton saw Chilton on the subject and received for answer "that matter has all been settled already," or something to that effect. Lee gave me to understand that he had no expectation even of Jackson's army crossing the Blue Ridge toward Richmond, and when I put the questions at him direct he said that under certain contingencies, of which he had not yet heard, Whitting's troops and Lawton's would come back to the army around Richmond, but there was no present intention of bringing any further troops from Jackson's command. This was on Saturday afternoon, the 21st of June, the day I visited you last. He had just had a long private interview with the President. What think you of that? He mentioned nothing of re-enforcements coming from the South, and left me in that respect under the old decision when you commanded, viz: "We have no re-enforcements for the Army of the Potomac; not a man can be spared from any place whatever." General Cooper telegraphed me on the 5th of July, saying that the President desired to know if my health was sufficiently restored to enable me to take command of the Department of South Carolina and Georgia. There was several days' delay in its reaching me. I answered immediately on its receipt, "My health is not yet sufficiently restored to enable me to return to duty." I have heard nothing more from it. I came off on a three weeks' leave. Just before it expired I requested Beckham to write to Chilton, for Lee's information, saying that I would not return because not well enough, but was improving. I received yesterday a note from Lee, in answer to Beckham's note to Chilton, first a layer of sugar, three lines, then two lines telling me to forward a certificate, and three more lines of sugar. I shall keep him informed from time to time of the condition of my heath.
    Gaillard is with me, so I feel quite assured of correct information and judgment in the case, and do not propose supplying General Lee with any more surgeon's certificates beyond that upon which the original leave was granted. He took special pains to tell me, when I called to find out about Jackson's movements, in order to judge whether I had better stay in Richmond any longer waiting for a battle, that he could not grant me leave except on surgeon's certificate; that was "his rule," he said. I told him I didn't come to ask for leave, but to get information upon which to determine whether I would yield to the advice of the surgeons and leave the city, adding that I had already put it off for ten days or more in anticipation of active operations, and was getting worse, instead of better. In a semi-pious, semi-official, and altogether disagreeable manner, he commenced regretting that I hadn't gone sooner; considered that the army had lost my services for ten days unnecessarily - and other like stuff. We "will bide our time." All I want is success to the cause; but there is a limit beyond which forbearance ceases to be a virtue, and if provoked much further I will tear the mask off of some who think themselves wonderfully successful in covering up their tracks. But I a, transferring all rules for myself about thinking at present, let alone writing, upon such subjects. I am improving, but do not get straight in brain and nerves as fast as I hoped-in fact, in these respects have improved very little- but my general health is already quite good, and Galliard says that with prudence perfect recovery is certain. Write me how you are, and all you know of your probable future command.
    Yours, as ever,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 2, Page 594.

Graduating 6th in the West Point class of 42', Smith came into the war with a reputation which ultimately proved to be in excess of his abilities.  He had suffered a bout of paralysis in the summer of 1861 before his coming South and the same malady afflicted him on June 2nd just at the conclusion of the battle of Seven Pines.  Already part of Johnston's anti-Davis contingent, he was relieved from command because of his health issues and later shifted to lesser commands when he returned to duty.  Ironically, given his issues with Davis and Lee, he was interim Secretary of War for 4 days  in November 1862.  This letter provides a remarkable window into the animus between Smith and Johnston toward Davis, and the degree to which they associated Lee with Davis.  Smith's attitude toward Lee can only be termed venomous, and it can logically be inferred Johnston shared that attitude in that Smith is so free to denigrate Lee.  The white sulphur springs at Montgomery County (Christiansburg, Va) were a convalescent camp established near the springs in cottages for wounded soldiers.

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 17, 1862 (Friday): A Call to Return Deserters

Secretary of War George W. Randolph

Richmond, July 17, 1862.
    SIR: Our armies are so much weakened by desertions, and by the absence of officers and men without leave, that we are unable to reap the fruits of our victories and to invade the territory of the enemy. We have resorted to courts-martial and military executions, and we have ordered all officers employed in enrolling conscripts to arrest both deserters and absentees, and offered rewards for the former. In Virginia the sheriffs, constables, and jailers have also been employed by the permission of the Governor, but still the evil continues, and unless public opinion comes to our aid we shall fail to fill our ranks in time to avail ourselves of the weakness and disorganization of the enemy.
    Their resources enable them to repair defeat with great rapidity, and they are more numerous now in Virginia than they were before the recent battles near Richmond.
    I must therefore beg your Excellency's aid in bringing back to our colors all deserters and absentees. If you will authorize their arrest by State officers, and bring to our assistance the powerful influence of public opinion in your State, we may yet cross the Potomac before a fresh army is raised to oppose us.
    It is desirable that this cause of weakness should be concealed as much as possible from the enemy, but we cannot adopt measures to remove it without risking to some extent a disclosure of its existence.
Very respectfully,

Secretary of War.
(Sent to the Governors of States.)

Official Records, Series IV, Vol. 2, Part 1, Page 7.

The enthusiasm which raised troops so readily to the Confederate cause during the days of Bull Run was being dissipated by the reality of massive casualties such as were experienced during the Seven Days battles around Richmond.  Having seen enough of war to know its true nature, many left the armies, having seen enough of war.  Here Randolph lays out two important considerations.  First, there is a need to move above the Potomac to relieve Richmond.  Secondly, an acknowledgement of the true state of Lee's army might have influenced the administration in the North to renew the push on Richmond.  As it were, the Union had sampled its own share of discouragement and was not likely to fully understand how fragile their opponent's army actually was.  Randolph, the Secretary of War since March 18 was Thomas Jefferson's youngest grandson and is buried at Monticello.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 16, 1862 (Thursday): The Arkansas Stands Off A Union Fleet

The Arkansas Running the Union Fleet at Vicksburg

VICKSBURG, July 16, 1862.
President DAVIS:
    Enemy opened all their guns and mortars last evening and shelled the city and batteries until after dark, when eight of their vessls of war passed down under fire of batteries and Arkansas' baraodsides. What damage was done to them have not larned, though they were repeatedly pierced by shot of heviest caliber. One heavy shot passed through side of Arkansas, killing 2 men and wounding 3. This was all the damage done to us, with exception of one house burned down in city. Our troops have contempt for the fleet and bombardment and await coolly for troops to land. The Arkansas is the admitration of all, and her daring and heroic act has inspirex all with the greatest enthusiasm. She is now being repaired and will soon be ready for orders.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 329.

The Arkansas had a short, but distinctive career in which she was the master of the Union vessels deployed against her.  In August she would be ill-advisedly taken to Baton Rouge, where he engines failed and she was blown up to prevent capture. 

July 15, 1862 (Wednesday): A Poet's Sharp Engagement

General A. Sanders Piatt

WINCHESTER, VA., July 15, 1862.
Major-General POPE:
    I herewith make the following report: The Garibaldi Regiment, commanded by Major Hilderbrandt, with one company of cavalry, was ordered to this point from Front Royal by way of Middletown, where I had stationed them to protect stores. They were attacked this evening, after passing Middletown 1 1\2 miles, by three columns of rebel cavalry, supported by infantry. He deployed the right and left of the road to prevent being flanked, and after a sharp engagement had to fall back; 2 men wounded and 4 missing. The enemy were in sight until he passed Newtown.
He arrived at this point at 9 p. m.


HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF VIRGINIA, Washington, July 16, 1862.
Brigadier-General PIATT,
Winchester, Va.:
    Your dispatch received. A regiment of infantry in such a country is more than a match for a dozen regiments of cavalry, and ought never to retreat before them. Neither do I quite understand your calling an affair in which 2 men were wounded a "sharp engagement." I hope you will infuse a much bolder spirit in your men. The idea of retreating before a cavalry force with only 2 men wounded is hardly up to the standard of soldiership. In such a country no cavalry force is able to make your infantry give back a foot if they will only fight. How is it known that these cavalry columns are supported by infantry; who saw the infantry, and, if there were any, were they not dismounted cavalry? Please investigate the matter thoroughly. I do not like the idea of an infantry regiment of this army retreating without more loss and better reasons than are set forth in your dispatch.

Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 12, Part 3, Page 475.

Pope was undoubtedly trying to live up to his pronouncements of the previous day.  But for all the ridicule they would later inspire, it is fair to him to say he did have grounds to try and steel such generals as Piatt, who would term such a tepid action a "sharp engagement".  Piatt was a newspaper publisher and poet. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

July 14, 1862 (Tuesday): Pope Takes Command

General John Pope

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF VIRGINIA, Washington, D. C., July 14, 1862.
To the Officers and Soldiers of the Army of Virginia:
    By special assignment of the President of the United States I have assumed the command of this army. I have spent two weeks in learning your whereabouts, your condition, and your wants, in preparing you for active operations, and in placing you in positions from which you can act promptly and to the purpose. These labors are nearly competed, and I am about to join you in the field.
    Let us understand each other. I have come to you form the West, where we have always seen the backs of our enemies; from an army whose business it has been to seek the adversary and to beat him when he was found; whose policy has been attack and not defense. In but one instance has the enemy been able to place our Western armies in defensive attitude. I presume that I have been called here to pursue the same system and to lead you against the enemy. It is my purpose to do so, and that speedily. I am sure you long for an opportunity to win the distinction you are capable of achieving. That opportunity I shall endeavor to give you. Meantime I desire you to dismiss from your minds certain phrases, which I am sorry to find so much in vogue amongst you. I hear constantly of "taking strong positions and holding them," of "lines of retreat," and of "bases of supplies." Let us discard such ideas. The strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy is one from which he can most easily advance against the enemy. Let us study the probable lines of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of themselves. Let us look before us, and not behind. Success and glory are in the advance, disaster and shame lurk in the rear. Let us act on this understanding, and it is safe to predict that your banners shall be inscribed with many a glorious deed and that your names will be dear to your countrymen forever.

Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 12, Part 3, Page 474.

Pope's message would live in history books, but not for the reasons his vanity would have imagined.  He once told a reporter his headquarters would be in the saddle, which prompted the famous quip, "his headquarters was where his hindquarters should be".  His hubris exceeded his military abilities by a a considerable margin, and his cheap insult of McClellan's "change of base" gives good evidence of his character.  When he eventually failed as a commander he was sent West to fight the Dakota in Minnesota late in 1862.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 13, 1862 (Monday): Lincoln, McClellan, and "Leakage"

Lieutenant Thomas L. Livermore
(Author of "Numbers and Losses")

Washington, July 13, 1862
Major-General McCLELLAN:
    MY DEAR SIR: I am told that over 160,000 men have gone into your army on the Peninsula. When I was with you the other day we made out 86,500 remaining, leaving 73,500 to be accounted for. I believe 23,500 will cover all the killed, wounded, and missing in all your battles and skirmishers, leaving 50,000 who have left otherwise. Not more than 5,000 of these have died, leaving 45,000 of your army still alive and not with it. I believe half or two-thirds of them are fit for duty to-day. Have you any more perfect knowledge of this than I have? If I am right, and you had these men with you, you could go into Richmond in the next three days. How can they be got to you, and how can they be prevented from getting away in such numbers for the future?


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 11, Part 3, Page 319.

July 15, 1862. (Received 8 p.m.)
His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President;
    Your telegram of yesterday [July 13] has been received. The difference between the effective force of troops and that expressed in returns is considerable in every arm. All commanders find the actual strength less than the strength represented on paper. I have not my own returns for the tri-monthly period since arriving at Fort Monroe at hand at this moment, but even on paper I will not, I am confident, be found to have received 160,000 officers and men present, although present and absent my returns will be accountable for that number. You can arrive at the number of absentees, however, better by my return of July 10, which will be ready to send shortly. I find from official reports that I have present for duty: Officers, 3,215; enlisted men, 85,450; in all present for duty, 88,665; absent by authority, 34,472; without authority, 3,778; present and absent, 144,407.
    The number of officers and men present sick is 16,619. The medical director will fully explain the causes of this amount of sickness, which I hope will begin to decrease shortly. Thus the number of men really absent is 38,250. Unquestionably of the number present some are absent-say 40,000 will cover the absentees. I quite agree with you that more than one-half these men are probably fit for duty to-day. I have frequently called the attention lately of the War Department to the evil of absenteeism. I think that the exciting of the public press to persistent attack upon officers and soldiers absent from the army, the employment of deputy marshals to arrest and send back deserters, summary dismissal of officers whose names are reported for being absent without leave, and the publication of their names, will exhaust the remedies applicable by the War Department.
    It is to be remembered that many of those absent by authority are those who have got off either sick or wounded or under pretense of sickness or wounds, and having originally pretext of authority are still reported absent by authority. If I could receive back the absentees and could get my sick men up I would need but small re-enforcements to enable me to take Richmond. After the battle of Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, &c., most of these men got off. Well men got on board hospital boats taking care of sick, &c. There is always confusion and haste in shipping and taking care of wounded after a battle. There is no time for nice examination of permits to pass here or there.
    I can now control people getting away better, for the natural opportunities are better. Leakages by desertion occur in every army and will occur here of course, but I do not at all however anticipate anything like a recurrence of what has taken place.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 11, Part 3, Page 321.

Livermore's "Numbers and Losses" (1900) is still the most reliable source.  He places McClellan's effective force in the field at 91,169.  The number grows, as shown in this correspondence when you factor in those available for duty in non-combat roles, absent on authorized leave, absent sick, and absent without leave.  Of the 38,250 absent a good portion most likely were either never on the Peninsula or left prior to the Seven Days battles.  If you add to the 91,169 effective 20,000 who were deployed at some point on the Peninsula and allowed for 16,000 casualties, you would come to a total close to McClellan's 144,407.  A good rule of thumb is to deduct 7% as unavailable for combat, leaving 93% effectives.  Interestingly, McClellan and Lincoln's numbers are not far apart (20,000).  The difference is McClellan has a better understanding of how difficult it is to restore sick and absent troops to combat.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 12, 1862 (Sunday): Hill and Longstreet Part Ways

General A. P. Hill

General R. E. LEE,
Commanding Army:
    I have the honor to request that I may be relieved from the command of Major-General Longstreet.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major-General, Commanding Light Division.


HEADQUARTERS, July 14, 1862.
Respectfully forwarded.
    If it is convenient to exchange the troops, or to exchange the commanders, I see no particular reason why Major General A. P. Hill should not be gratified.
Very respectfully,

Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 11, Part 3, Page 640.

After the fight at Ellerson's Mills a staff officer of Hill's told the Richmond Examiner that for a time Hill had commanded all of Longstreet's troops, the inference being Longstreet was away from his post.  Longstreet replied in a letter to the Examiner he had arrived on the field in the company of General Lee prior to Hill's arrival.  Lee believed by transferring Hill to Stonewall Jackson's command that Hill would have a fresh start.  History would soon record Hill had, if anything, a worse relationship with Jackson.

July 11, 1862 (Saturday): Andrew Johnson's Wrath

Andrew Johnson

WAR DEPARTMENT, July 11, 1862.
    MY DEAR SIR: Yours of yesterday is received. Do you not, my good friend, perceive that what you ask is simply to put you in command in the West? I do not suppose you desire this. You only wish to control in your own localities; but this you must know may derange all other posts. Can you not and will you not have a full conference with General Halleck? Telegraph him, and meet him at such place as he and you can agree upon. I telegraph him to meet you and confer fully with you.


WAR DEPARTMENT, July 11, 1862.
Major-General HALLECK, Corinth:
    Governor Johnson, at Nashville, is in great trouble and anxiety about a raid into Kentucky. The Governor is a true and a valuable man - indispensable to us in Tennessee. Will you please get in communication with him, and have a full conference with him before you leave for here? I have telegraphed him on the subject.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 16, Part 2, Page 122.

The future President of the United States had recently been appointed military governor of Tennessee.  A native of North Carolina, he was awarded his post for his loyalty to the Union.  Johnson was made a Brigadier-General along with his commission as military governor.  This commission was not intended as a warrant to control military affairs, although Johnson did not understand this and butted heads with Buell and his staff.  The raid Johnson was concerned by was Morgan's first raid in Kentucky.  As Buell moved toward Chattanooga, Morgan's raid covered 1,000 miles, captured or paroled 1,200 men, and caused upset among Unionists in the region.

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 10, 1862 (Thursday): The Case For Leaving Harrison's Landing

General Erasmus D. Keyes

Harrison's Bar, July 10, 1862
    SIR: After some inquiry, I find that my opinions agree essentially with the opinions of several officers whom I regard as the most able in this army, at the head of which is General Barnard, of the Engineers. I therefore venture to address a letter to Your Excellency.
    The simple failure of this army to reach Richmond has given a serious aspect to our affairs, and after much reflection I have considered the subject of first importance to be the position which this army ought to occupy during the next two months.

   Can this army remain here encamped at Harrison's Bar?

   Clearly not, since the confinement to a small space, the heat, and sickliness of this camp would nearly destroy the army in two months, though no armed force should assail it. Moreover, the enemy being in possession of both banks of the James River above and below us, he will shortly find the means to cut us off from our supplies, or shut us up by means of fortifications and his abundant artillery, in such a manner as will give him time, ample time, to capture Washington before we could possibly go to its rescue.

    Can this army leave its present camp to go and attack Richmond?

    No; it cannot. To make this army to march on Richmond with any hope of success it must be re-enforced by at least 100,000 good troops. No officer here, whose opinion is worth one penny, will recommend a less number. To bring troops freshly raised at the North to this country in months of July, August, and September would be to cast our resources into the sea. The raw troops would melt away and be ruined forever.
Some of our officers think that to remove this army to the neighborhood of Washington would be a virtual abandonment of our cause. I cannot regard the matter in that light at all. This army has not been defeated in battle, nor has it been repulsed in this campaign as often as it has repulsed the enemy. It is no in a strong position, with all its baggage. Sickness, and the approach of a more sickly season, together with the superiority in numbers and sanitary advantages on the part of the enemy, render it proper and advisable that we should return to our capital and a healthy country. Did not the Confederates return to their capital from Manassas, and afterward from Williamsburg did they not retreat in confusion? In the West the two armies have often been successful and unsuccessful, and have each frequently retreated in Missouri and elsewhere. Those fluctuations have in the end inured to our advantage.
    To shut up this army on the James River is to make certain its destruction or its neutralization within the next two months, and then the North will be at the mercy of the South and the sport of the caprice of Europe.
    Bring this army back to the neighborhood of Washington, to spacious, healthy camps, pass some laws which I could suggest,and at the end of three months it will be worth much more against an enemy than it was last March. The laws I refer to would force our able-bodied men to join the army and to remain with it; would stop rogues and pettifoggers from using the courts of law to rob such as are absent fighting and would constrain to the public service all supplies and means of transportation at a reasonable price.
    When a large army reaches, or is placed in a position where it cannot hold the enemy in check not operate effectively against him, it is a military axiom to move that army without delay. With a large, well-appointed army in any camp from which it can be employed we may bid defiance to our enemies. This army cannot be employed here, and the enemy may close its egress, for which reasons and many others I respectfully recommend that immediate instructions may be issued for its withdrawal.
    All the available gunboats and men-of-war ought to assist in the movement, which ought to be made within the next forty-eight hours.
    I have the honor to be, respectfully, Your Excellency's most obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Fourth Army Corps.

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 11, Part 3, Page 314.

Lincoln reverted on his visit to Harrison's Landing to opening himself to direct communication with McClellan's subordinates.  Although Lincoln and Stanton wrote supportively to McClellan, the President quickly lost what little faith he had in his abilities.  Here Keyes takes the liberty of communicating directly with the President behind his commander's back.  Much of what he says is true, the advice he gives reasonably sound, but the fact he would write the letter is an indication McClellan has lost the moral authority to command the Army of the Potomac. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 9, 1862 (Wednesday): McClellan-"The enemy is in full retreat."

Drewry's Bluff (NPS.gov)

July 9, 1862-3 p.m. (Received 10.45 p.m.)
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War;
General Davidson found enemy's rear guard 4 miles off on Long Bridge road this morning. Several prisoners confirm previous statement, and I am now confident that enemy is in full retreat, probably destinated for immediate vicinity of Richmond. Our cavalry has not yet returned nor sent in news. No reasons as yet to believe that any portion of enemy have moved on Washington. Jackson was in front of us yesterday. Shall watch closely and keep you constantly informed of what transpires.

Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records Series I., Vol. 11, Part 3, Page 308.

While the President was completing his visit to McClellan's command, the Confederates were pulling back.  Longstreet anchored the new Confederate right opposite Drewry's Bluff, D.H. Hill moved back to his original position near Seven Pines, and Jackson returned to Mechanicsville.  McLaws Division constituted the reserve behind Hill's command near Gillie's Creek (within sight of Richmond).  Holmes command returned to the Petersburg area, within supporting distance of the Confederate batteries at Drewry's Bluff.  It was still thought at this time McClellan would resume offensive operations.  In fact, in messages exchanged on this day between Halleck and Sherman out west, both expressed confidence in McClellan and stated he would now undoubtedly take Richmond by slow advances of lines of entrenchments.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 8, 1862 (Tuesday): Lincoln Visits the Troops

Lincoln Reviewing Troops at Harrison's Landing     etc.usf.edu
Camp mear Harrison's Landing, Va., July 8, 1862.
Brigadier - General MORELL,
Commanding Division:
   GENERAL: The commanding general directs me to inform you that the President of the United States will ride through the camps this afternoon. The commanding general desires you to have your command ready and give him a hearty welcome. The President will visit General Sumner's corps first.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Assistant Adjutant - General.

[Same to Generals Sykes and Seymour.]

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 1, Page 718.

Lincoln left Washington the day before on the U.S.S. Ariel, arriving at Fort Monroe in the morning of the 8th to meet with Burnside and Dix.  He arrived at Harrison's Landing at 6PM and spent the next three hours reviewing troops.  McClellan visited Lincoln aboard the Ariel and presented his letter of the previous day on the conduct of the war, which Lincoln accepted without comment.  The next day the President would spend the next day talking with troops before returning to Fort Monroe, then back to Washington on Thursday.


Monday, July 7 (Monday): McClellan on the Conduct of War

General George B. McClellan
Camp near Harrison's Landing, Va., July 7, 1862 

MR. PRESIDENT: You have been fully informed that the rebel army is in our front with the purpose of overwhelming us by attacking our positions or reducing us by blocking our river communications. I cannot but regard our condition as critical, and I earnestly desire, in view of possible contingencies, to lay before Your Excellency for your private consideration my general views concerning the existing state of the rebellion, although they do not strictly relate to the situation of this army or strictly come within the scope of my official duties. These views amount to convictions, and are deeply impressed upon my mind and heart. Our cause must never be abandoned; it is the cause of free institutions and self-government. The Constitution and the Union must be preserved, whatever may be the cost in time, treasure, and blood. If secession is successful, other dissolutions are clearly to be seen in the future. Let neither military disaster, political faction, nor foreign war shake your settled purpose to enforce the equal operation of the laws of the United States upon the people of every State.
    The time has come when the Government must determine upon a civil and military policy covering the whole ground of our national trouble. The responsibility of directing the whole course of national affairs in regard to the rebellion, must now be assumed and exercised by you, or our cause will be lost. The Constitution has given you power sufficient even for the present terrible exigency.
    This rebellion has assumed the character of a war. As such it should be regarded, and it should be conducted upon the highest principles known to Christian civilization. It should not be a war looking to the subjugation of the people of any State
    In any event, it should not be at all a war upon population, but against armed forces and political organizations. Neither confiscation of property, political executions of persons, territorial organization of States, or forcible abolition of slavery should be contemplated for a moment.
    In prosecuting the war all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected, subject only to the necessity of military operations; all private property taken for military use should be paid or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes, all unnecessary trespass sternly prohibited, and offensive demeanor by the military toward citizens promptly rebuked. Military arrests should not be tolerated, except in places where active hostilities exist, and oaths not required by enactments constitutionally made should be neither demanded nor received. Military government should be confined to the preservation of public order and the protection of political rights. Military power should not be allowed to interfere with the relations of servitude, either by supporting or impairing the authority of the master, except for repressing disorder, as in other cases. Slaves, contraband under the act of Congress, seeking military protection, should receive it. The right of the Government to appropriate permanently to its own service claims to slave labor should be asserted, and the right of the owner to compensation therefore should be recognized. This principle might be extended, upon grounds of military necessity and security, to all the slaves of a particular State, thus working manumission in such State; and in Missouri, perhaps in Western Virginia also, and possibly even in Maryland, the expediency of such a measure is only a question of time. A system of policy thus constitutional, and pervaded by the influences of Christianity and freedom, would receive the support of almost all truly loyal men, would deeply impress the rebel masses and all foreign nations, and it might be humbly hoped that it would commend itself to the favor of the Almighty.
     Unless the principles governing the future conduct of our struggle shall be made known and approved the effort to obtain requisite forces will be almost hopeless. A declaration of radical views, especially upon slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present armies. The policy of the Government must be supported by concentrations of military, power. The national forces should not be dispersed in expeditions, posts of occupation, and numerous armies, but should be mainly collected into masses, and brought to bear upon the armies of the Confederate States. Those armies thoroughly defeated, the political structure which they support would soon cease to exist.
     In carrying out any system of policy which you confidence, understands your views, and who is competent to execute your orders by directing the military forces of the nation to the accomplishment of the objects by you proposed. I do not ask that place for myself. I am willing to serve you in such position as you may assign me, and I will do so as faithfully as ever subordinate served superior.
    I may be on the brink of eternity, and as I hope forgiveness from my Maker I have written this letter with sincerity toward you and from love for my country.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 11, Part 1, Page 73.

While the sentiments contained in McClellan's letter were representative of the views of many in the army and perhaps most Democrats in the North, he chose a very peculiar time to develop such an extensive essay for the President's consideration.  He had badly lead his army, suffered tremendous losses, was essentially penned up below Richmond at Harrison's Landing, and still had a chance, albeit much lessened to continue offensive operations.  At minimum he had to be alert to possible attacks from a still dangerous foe.  And yet at this time, seemingly emotionally broken only days before, McClellan chooses to lecture Lincoln on what the nature of the war should be.  The letter anticipates, and opposes, what Lincoln would do after Antietam with the Emancipation Proclamation.  As for fighting the war in accordance with traditional rules of war, he underestimates the essential fact the very reason for the war was an intensity of ill will between the two sections.  The forces of vengence, represented by the Republicans, might have been held back by victory but would not stand idle when generals such as McClellan suffered defeat. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 6, 1862 (Sunday): Halleck In A Tight Spot

Governor William Sprague of Rhode Island

Washington City, D. C., July 6, 1862.
Major-General HALLECK,
Corinth, Miss.:
    MY DEAR SIR: This introduces Gov. William Sprague, of Rhode Island. He is now Governor for the third time and Senator-elect of the United States.
    I know the object of his visit to you. He has my cheerful consent to go, but not my direction. He wishes to get you and part of your force, one or both, to come here. You already know I should be exceedingly glad of this if, in your judgment, it could be without endangering positions and operations in the Southwest, and I now repeat what I have more than once said by telegraph. "Do not come or send a man if, in your judgment, it will endanger any point you deem important to hold, or endangers or delays the Chattanooga expedition."
    Still, please give my friend Governor Sprague a full and fair hearing.

Yours, very truly,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 17, Part 2, Page 76.

This odd letter regards Sprague's visit to Halleck to try and free up forces from Halleck's command to send to McClellan at Richmond.  Lincoln says he is not directing Sprague, but encourages him to listen to him advocate on behalf of giving up troops from his command.  At the same time he says not to send even one man if it will delay taking Chattanooga or cause the loss of any important position.  One can only imagine Halleck receiving this message from the President of the United States, and what mental gymnastics interpreting it required. The letter may also indicate Lincoln still believed McClellan capable of moving away from Harrison's Landing and making another attempt at Richmond.  Given the condition of the army this was likely not realistic.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July 5, 1862 (Saturday): Perhaps He Underates Gunboats

Harrison's Landing (Lower Left), Ridge (Top), Herring Creek (Upper L to R)

RICHMOND, July 5, 1862.
R. E. LEE, General, &c.:
    GENERAL: I have this moment received yours of yesterday, with sketch of the position occupied by the enemy near to the mouth of Herring Creek.*
    It is a hard necessity to be compelled to allow him time to recover from his discomfiture and to receive re-enforcements, but under the circumstances it must be regarded as necessary.
I fully concur with you as to the impropriety of exposing our brave and battle-thinned troops to the fire of the gunboats while attacking a force numerically superior and having the advantage of so strong a position as that held by the enemy.
    f further reconnaissance should show ground to the north of the Charles City road, which commands the ridge on which that road is located, we might send to you at least the two heavy guns which are on traveling carriages, so as to enable you to open fire on the enemy's batteries from a point beyond the effective range of his navy guns, or if a diversion, by engaging the gunboats from the south side of James River, would afford you an opportunity to attack the enemy in his present position, that might be done by sending some of Holmes' batteries to open fire on the first passing vessel at a point below Herring Creek, so as to draw the fleet in that direction. To do this effectually would require powerful batteries, with strong supports.
General Holmes, whom I saw last night at his headquarters below Drewry's, expressed a wish to go down on the south side of James River and open fire on the enemy's encampment. His experience on the Potomac has perhaps led him to underrate gunboats. He has ordered General Martin to join him with two regiments from Kinston, and spoke of drawing one regiment from Wilmington.
    The Secretary of War has called for men to fill up the vacancies in the ranks of your army, and every effort will be made to hasten them forward.
    The quartermaster-general assures me that all practicable means are employed to repair the railroads, especially the Virginia Central.
    My office work fell behind while I was in the field, but no public interest, I hope, was seriously affected.
    I will direct Colonel Gorgas to send to you some burning shells, with the hope that you can use them against the enemy's encampments and perhaps his boats, or in the event of night operations they may serve to guide as well as to conceal your advance.
     If there should be anything which you think would be more promptly or certainly executed by my personal attention you must not hesitate to ask for it.
     Before closing I will renew my caution to you against personal exposure either in battle or reconnaissance. It is a duty to the cause we serve for the sake of which I reiterate the warning. Colonel Custis Lee is much better.
    Very respectfully and truly, your friend,


*Not found.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 11, Part 3, Page 632.

The relationship of Davis and Lee was the polar opposite of Lincoln and McClellan.  Lee was deferential to Davis and managed to express his opinions in such a way as to be forthright without causing Davis offense.  Here Davis speaks of the intense desire the Confederates had to attack McClellan in his camps along the James and also the realization the gunfire support of the Union fleet made direct assaults impractical. McClellan surely was in a bottle, with his massive army penned behind Herring Creek protected by gunboats (which apparently did not strike fear into T.H. Holmes).  The ridge spoken of commands Charles City Road somewhat, but not by a decisive amount.

July 4, 1862 (Friday): A Union General In Prison on the 4th of July Writes the President

General Charles P. Stone
FORT HAMILTON, N. Y., July 4, 1862.
The PRESIDENT, Commander-in-Chief of the Army:
    On this day the anniversary of the Nation's Independence I find myself a prisoner under the folds of the flag of the Union, the same flag under which I have passed my life in the service of the country. Last year on this anniversary my face was fanned by the rush of rebel bullets, and the brave troops under my command drove rebellion from ten miles of the length of the Potomac, freeing thousands of loyal citizens from the yoke of that rebellion. I am utterly unconscious of any act, word or design of mine which should make me to-day less eligible to an honorable place among the soldiers of the Union that I was on that day, or any other day of my past life, and I deem it my duty to state this now when the country seems to need the services of its every willing soldier.
    Very respectfully, I am, Your Excellency's most obedient servant,


Series II., Vol. 4, Part 1, Page 124.

After Ball's Bluff rumors were started that Stone was responsible for the Union defeat at Ball's Bluff.  Radical Republicans on the Committee on the Conduct of the War prevailed upon the administration to confine Stone without charges, contrary to military law and regulations.  Stone spent the winter in New York harbor at Fort Hamilton, which greatly impacted his health.  While it was widely acknowledged there was no substantive evidence against him, he was aligned with McClellan, had angered abolitionists by allowed captured slaves to be returned to their masters, and had expressed opposition to the administration.  As Stanton is said to have put it, Stone was worth a division in confinement by the example his treatment made to other Union officers.  Lincoln had himself approved of Stone's confinement, and after Congress passed a law restating Stone must be charged or released within 90 days according to military law, the administration started the clock from the point of the legislation passing and held him an additional 90 days for no legal and logical reason.  Stone is the closest American equivalent to the France's Emile Zola, and an example of the dangerous of unfettered power by the executive branch during wartime.