Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 25, 1863 (Thursday): A National Cemetary in Chattanooga

Gates at Chattanooga National Cemetery


Numbers 296.
Chattanooga, Tennessee, December 25, 1863.
    It is ordered that a national cemetery be founded at this place in commemoration of the battles of Chattanooga, fought November 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27, and to provide a proper resting-place for the remains of the brave men who fell upon the fields fought over upon those days, and for the remains of such as may hereafter give up their lives in this region in defending their country against treason and rebellion.
    The ground selected for the cemetery is the hill lying beyond the Western and Atlantic Railroad, in a southeasterly direction from the town.
    It is proposed to erect a monument upon the summit of the hills, of such materials as are to be obtained in this vicinity, which, like all the work the cemetery, shall be exclusively done by the troops of the Army of the Cumberland.
    Plans for the monument are invited to be sent in to these headquarters.
    When the ground is prepared notice will be given, and all interments of soldiers will thereafter be made in the cemetery, and all now buried in and around the town removed to that place.
    By command of Major General General George H. Thomas:

   Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 487.

A fitting commemoration to those who died for the Union cause is the national cemetery at Chattanooga. 

December 24, 1863 (Wednesday): "A straightforward kind of fellow..."

General Samuel D. Sturgis

New Market, Tennessee, December 24, 1863-2 a.m.
    GENERAL: My whole command reached this place this evening. From all the information I can gather, I have little doubt but the whole, or nearly so,of the enemy's cavalry are on this side of the Holston.
     Colonel Palmer has arrived from Dandridge with his command. He captured 4 prisoners of Morgan's division,who were a part of an advanced guard to Dandridge. From these and from citizen we learn that one brigade, and perhaps a division,is now at Dandridge. Armstrong,unless he moves to-night,is in the vicinity of Morristown, and a large force somewhere in the vicinity of Cheek's Cross-Roads. I propose to attempt the separation of the force at Dandridge from the remainder. I will move a brigade by Mount Horeb to intercept their retreat, and a brigade with four pieces of artillery on the direct road to Dandridge. These forces can reach their destination by daylight, I hope.
The brigade,or division, supposed to be at Dandridge has six pieces artillery, five rifled and one brass.
the prisoners say that the cavalry came over to intercept us,because it was understood that we contemplated a raid on Longstreet's rear.
     I talked with one-an Alabamian and straightforward kind of fellow-who says that last Friday Longstreet was joined by A. P. Hill's corps, and that what the men say through their camps is that Longstreet has now 50,000. I give you this for what it is worth.
     I think it would be well to send the dismounted men left by Colonel Wolford down to Strawberry Plains, taking their wagons with them, and they would serve as a guard for that place.

     S. D. STURGIS,
     Brigadier-General, Commanding Cavalry Corps.

Major General JOHN G. FOSTER.

P. S.-If the brigade of Colonel Wolford which went to Tazewell can be reached, I hope you will send it on at once. The colonel's whole division now here is only some 800 or 900 strong.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 1, Page 626.

A great deal of misinformation was obtained from prisoners, some of it intentional and some founded on the all too human tendency to hold forth at length on subjects absent knowledge of the same.  A.P. Hill's division was nowhere near Tennessee and Longstreet had far fewer than 50,000 men to threaten Knoxville.  After Custer fell at the Little Big Horn, Sturgis succeeded him as commander of what was left of the 7th cavalry.  A Navy transport named for him carried many dignitaries to the signing of the peace treaty with Japan.

December 23, 1863 (Tuesday): "Marched, climbed, slid, and swum 355 miles..."

Arthur Boreman, First Governor of West Virginia

Governor BOREMAN,
    General Averell has succeeded in cutting the Virginia and Tennessee railroad at Salem, in Roanoke County. He reached there on the 16th. Destroyed three depots containing an immense amount of public property, unquestionably collected there for the use of Longstreet's army,which is supposed to be falling back into Virginia.
    The following comprises a portion of the property destroyed: 2,000 barrels flour, 10,000 bushels of what, 100,000 bushels of shelled corn, 50,000 bushels of oats, 2,000 barrels of meat, 1,000 sacks of salt, several cords of leather, 31 boxes of clothing, 20 bales of cotton, large amount of harness, shoes, saddles, equipments, tools, oil, tar, and various other stores, and 100 wagons; water stations, bridges, several culverts, and much of track torn up and rails destroyed; large quantity of bridge timber and repairing materials were also destroyed.
    General Averell captured about 200 prisoners, and lost about 60 men in killed, wounded, and missing. He says:
My command has marched, climbed, slid, and swum 355 miles since the 8th instant.
This is undoubtedly one of the most hazardous, important, and successful raids since the commencement of the war. General Averell will reach Beverly to-night.

     [B. F. KELLEY,]

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 580.

Averell's raid receives little note in history books.  But this letter makes the valuable point that his operations in the rear of Longstreet were of great value to the war effort and, at the least, a discomfiture to the rebels.  Much like Stuart's ride around the Union Army during the Peninsula Campaign, it was attended with great danger and rising rivers nearly resulted in portions of his raiders being cut off in their retreat while in the face of the enemy.

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 22, 1863 (Monday): Thirty-Five Day Furloughs for Reenlistment

General Seth Williams

Washington, D. C.:
    SIR: I have the honor herewith to transmit a copy of an order issued by me, designed to carry out, in this army, the orders and instructions of the War Department relative to the re-enlistment of veteran volunteers.
    It is not in my power, at the present moment, to say what number of men have re-enlisted or agreed to re-enlist prior to this date, but I place the number, approximately, at 10,000 infantry and 2,500 cavalry.
    I do not consider that a greater number of men can be spared at present, although it is hoped that a considerable number will yet re-enlist; and, if so, they can be furloughed when the men about to leave return to duty.
   Under the discretion left to me in General Orders, No. 376, of the 21st ultimo, from the War Department, I have directed that individual furloughs be given, believing that this would be more acceptable to the men generally than an order to report to the superindtendents of the recruiting service, in their respective States, for furloughs and reorganization. When, however, three-fourths of a regiment or company re-enlist, the men will be allowed to go home in a body with their officerrs, and to take their arms with them.
    The period of the furlough has been fixed at thirty-five days, so as to allow the men, as far as practicable, thirty days within the limits of their States.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    GEO. G. MEADE,
    Major-General, Commanding.

December 21, 1863.
    1. With the exception hereinafter indicated, corps and other independent commanders are now authorized to grant individual furloughs for thirty-five days, which must cover the entire period of the soldier's absence from his company and regiment, to such men of their respective commands as may have, up to this date, re-enlisted, or having, since the issue of the circular from these headquarters dated December 17, 1863, signified their intention to do so, shall at once re-enlist as veteran volunteers, under the provisions of General Orders, Nos.191, 305, and 376, from the War Department.
    2. When three-fourths of the men of a regiment or company re-enlist, such portion of the regiment or company will be allowed to go home in a body, and take with it is arms and equipments. In all other cases, the arms and equipments of the men granted furloughs will be turned, in before leaving camp, to the division ordnance officer, by whom they will be transferred to the officer in charge of the ordnance depot, to be held subject to his call on the return of the men to duty. Three-fourths of a veteran regiment will be understood to mean three-fourths of the men belonging to it who are within the limits of this army, and not to include those absent as prisoners of war, in general hospitals, &c. When there are men in a veteran organization who do not come within the limits for re-enlistment, all men who have joined the army since July 1, 1863, excepted, and are yet willing to re-enlist, they will be permitted to go on furlough with the regiment, in case it goes in a body, and those only will be left behind who are within the limits and yet refuse to re-enlist, and the aforesaid men who have recently joined. The men willing to re-enlist will, of course, not be discharged and remustered till they come within the limits; that is,have less than one year to serve, but they will be required to affirm in writing, their intention to re-enlist, and such affirmation must be witnessed by two commissioned officers, and filed with the muster-rolls of the company to which they belong.
     3. Furloughs will not be granted in cases where three-fourths of a regiment or a company have agreed to re-enlist under the foregoing provisions until after corps commanders shall have sent to these headquarters, for the orders of the commanding general thereon, a statement showing the strength present with the army of such regiment or company, and the number of men who have re-enlisted or can re-enlist under the orders and instructions of the Wawr Department.
    4. When an organization may be broken up for the time being by the departure of the men going on furlough, corps commanders will transfer, temporarily, the officers and men who remain to other regiments and companies from the same State, or organize them into a battalion, as may be thought best.
    5. Every furlough granted under this order will have an indorsememt showing that the holder, as a veteran volunteer, is entitled to transportation to and from his home, as provided for by Paragraph 4, of Genereal Orders, No. 376, from the War Department. Corps commanders will make requisitions upon the chief quartermaster for transportation for the men of their commands who may be granted furloughs, and the chief quartermaster will make the necessary arrangements with the proper officer of his department at Washington to have all such men promptly forwarded to their homes.
    6. The necessities of the service will not admit of the granting of furloughs at present to a larger number of men than are embraced in this order. But the me not herein included, who may be entitled to re-enlist as veterans, will be granted a similar, furlough on the return to duty of the men now fruloughed.
    7. Corps and other independent commanders will report at the earliest moment practicable the number of men who have re-enlisted or may re-enlist in their respective commands, and who may receive furloughs under the provisions of this order.
     By command of Major-General Meade:

     Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 574.

The war was going well for the Union but this did not mean morale was such that soldiers who were eligible to leave service would automatically reenlist.  While the draft could provide numbers, it could not provide the cohesion and effectiveness of veteran troops.  To encourage them to reenlist, and to keep units intact, provision was made for 35 day furloughs where three fourths of a unit was willing to reenlist.  This serves also to illustrate the nature of the war once it became too cold and the weather too inhospitable for active campaigning.  Meade estimates here he will lose 10,000 men, but he would not have had work to employ them and it was as well to let these troops go home to see their families as opposed to keeping them underarms and having to feed and supply them. 

December 21, 1863 (Saturday): The Army-Navy Game

Admiral John Dahlgren

Washington, D. C., December 21, 1863.
    MY DEAR SIR: Sending a note to the Secretary of the Navy, as I promised, he called over and said that the strikes in the ship-yards had thrown the completion of vessels back so much that he thought General Gillmore's proposition entirely proper. He only wishes (and in which I concur) that General Gillmore will courteously confer with and explain to Admiral Dahlgren.*

* * * * * * *
     Yours, as ever,
     A. LINCOLN.

    Referred to the General-in-Chief.

*Portion here omitted refers to affairs in Missouri, and appears in Series I, Vol. XXII. 

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 28, Part 2, Page 124.

Lincoln found himself in the middle of a minor dispute between Gillmore in South Carolina and Dahlgren, whose vessels were tasked with reducing Confederate forts in Charleston.  Gillmore wanted a joint naval-land operation and failing that wished to enlist more African-American soldiers to strengthen his force to go it alone if necessary.  Lincoln agrees, but takes note of the Navy's contention that Gillmore had been less than courteous in his discussions with Dahlgren.  The strikes were a problem for the Navy, as Dahlgren believed he needed more warships to take Charleston.  The strikes were slowing down both new construction and needed repairs.

December 20, 1863 (Sunday): Early Drives Back Averell

Colonel William L. Jackson (

JACKSON'S RIVER, [December] 20, 1863.
Major General J. A. EARLY:
    Last night with fifty men I divided Averell's command at this bridge. He burned the bridge. In doing this I lost connection with my main command, and it did not come up this morning as soon as I desired. The two regiments I cut off burned the train and are now endeavoring to escape by the railroad track. We have captured a number of men and officers and ambulance drivers; killed and wounded considerable. My loss so far is small. I am in pursuit. They may go to Lewisburg. I have just heard that Averell is three miles above for the purpose of saving the residue of his command.


Staunton, December 20, 1863.
General LEE:
    Dispatch just in from Jackson, who is safe. He has captured a number of the enemy, whose loss in killed and wounded is considerable. His own slight. Enemy burned his trains. Two regiments are cut off from main body and Jackson in pursuit.

    J. A. EARLY,

Staunton, December 20, 1863.
General R. E. LEE:
    I am just in from Millborough. Averell with main body of his forces and his artillery escaped by way of Covington on Rich Patch route. Jackson's force captured about 200 prisoners and some ambulances; 2,700 men reported cut off from main body. Jackson himself reported captured, but hope no true. But for incorrect information from Lynchburh that Averell had returned to Salem, Fitz. Lee would have been in position to capture his whole force. I endeavor to get out by Warm Springs with infantry, but delay so great on railroad that I was too late. Enemy's force at Strasburg has advanced to Harrisonburg and I am going now to drive it back. No news from Rosser.

    J. A. EARLY,

NEAR MOUNT CRAWFORD, VA., [December] 20, 1863.
General EARLY:
     Enemy is quiet. Shows no dispostion to advance. Has been in Harrisonburg only once. His force is two regiments of infantry, two of cavalry-1,600 men. This comes from a very reliable officer who escaped from them. He says they do not intend advancing farther. Major O'Ferrall has lost about fifteen men.

      H. H. WALKER,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 1, Page 805.

Early had succeeded with a single brigade of infantry and a portion of Fitz Lee's cavalry in driving Averell back to the south and west of Harrisonburg.  It was a thing done relatively easily, but it would not be so easy in the coming year as the Federal cavalry became more active, well equipped, and well trained.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Decmeber 19, 1863 (Saturday): Suffering In Camp

Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,
Commanding Department of the Cumberland:
    GENERAL: The sufferings and privations now being undergone by our troops are most cruel, I assure you. We have been now nearly a month without tents and clothing, and from the limited quantity of our transportation-only one wagon to a regiment-and being obliged to live upon the country, our rations have been very irregular and limited.
    We are now bivouacking at this place, 22 miles east of Knoxville, in the mud and rain, and many of the command are falling sick with pneumonia, diarrhea, &c., Our officers are destitute of clothing and cooking utensils, being unable to procure them at Knoxville. A small supply of clothing and shoes has arrived, about one-third of what is needed.
    The stock of medicines and stationery in Knoxville is entirely exhausted. Our books an records having been left behind, we are unable to make any returns. If it is determined that we remain here this winter, I respectfully request that the First Division of this corps be sent up to join us, and with them can be sent our transportation, baggage, camp and garrison equipage, to which they can act as escort.
    I am, general, very respectfully,

    Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 448.

In some ways winter quarters were worse for the health of men than active campaigning.  Cold temperatures, inadequate housing, insufficient sanitation, and the enclosing so many men in relatively small space made conditions ripe for suffering. General Granger, quoted here, was a career soldier who would die still in active service in 1876 on the western plains.

December 18, 1863 (Friday): Early Tracks Averell

General Jubal Early

Lexington, December 18, 1863.
[General J. A. EARLY:]
    GENERAL: I arrived at this place at sunrise this morning after a very hard march on men and horses. Scouts sent to Buchanan confirm Averell's movements, as previously reported, viz, via Roanoke, Red Sulphur, New Castle, and toward Sweet Springs. I shall march, via Covington, to Callaghan's, as I find rom statements of the citizens and guides I can get across all streams. The only way I can see that Averell can escape is in direction of Lewisburg (unless arrangements have been made to stop him by that route), or unless he is delayed by high water. Supposing that he is forced back by either of the two causes, he might return and come up by Buchanan. I have ordered the Corps of Cadets to that point. Had you not better throw a supporting force to this point? Averell has too much start of me to intercept him if he goes toward Lewisburg, unless delayed by high waters. Will do what I can, however.
     Very, respectfully,

     FITZ. LEE, 
     Major-General, Commanding.

    P. S. - Imboden is up, and I have also Colonel Massie's home guards.

    F. L.,

     2 P. M. - Dispatches inclosing slip from Richmond papers just received.
      F. L.,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 1, Page 802.

Early was no Stonewall Jackson, but he was a Valley native (Franklin, Virginia) and knew the area well.  Averell had come east into Western Virginia and was to the west of Lexington around Salem.  The terrain was difficult and the weather prohibitive, but the ever combative Early still desired to get at him. 


Monday, December 16, 2013

December 17, 1863 (Thursday): Longstreet Charges McLaws

General Lafayette McLaws


No. 27. Near Bean's Station, December 17, 1863.
    Maj. General L. McLaws is relieved from further duty with this army, and will proceed to Augusta, Ga., from which place he will report by letter to the Adjutant and Inspector General. He will turn over the command of his division to the senior brigadier present.
     By command of Lieutenant-General Longstreet:

     Lieutenant-Colonel, and Assistant Adjutant-General.

Major-General McLAWS,
C. S. Army.

Lieutenant-Colonel SORREL,
Assistant Adjutant-General:
    I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Special Orders, No. 27, from your headquarters, of this date, relieving me from further duty with this army. If there is no impropriety in making inquiry, and I cannot imagine there is, I respectfully request to be informed of the particular reason for the order.
    Very respectfully,

    L. McLAWS,

Near Bean's Station, December 17, 1863.
Major-General McLAWS,
C. S. Army:
    GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of to-day asking for the particular reason for the issue of the order relieving you from duty with this army. In reply, I am directed to say that throughout the campaign on which we are engaged you have exhibited a want of confidence in the efforts and plans which the commanding general has thought proper to adopt, and he is apprehensive that this feeling will extend more or less to the troops under you command.
     Under these circumstances the commanding general has felt that the interest of the public service would be advanced by your separation from him, and as he could not himself leave he decided upon the issue of the order which you have received.
     I have the honor to be, general, with great respect, your obedient servant,

     Lieutenant-Colonel, and Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Pages 497-498.

In the aftermath of Longstreet's failed campaign at Knoxville he filed charges against McLaws for the failure of the attack at Fort Sanders and against Robertson for incompetence.  McLaws requested a courts martial, which resulted in his acquittal in February.  Although reinstated, McLaws would not return to the Army of Northern Virginia and was sent to command the defenses of Savannah.


December 16, 1863 (Wednesday): Early Enters the Valley

Luray, Virginia (1910)

STAUNTON, December 16, 1863-7.30 a. m.
Major W. H. TAYLOR,
Assistant Adjutant-General:
     I arrived here at 1 a. m. Imboden at the foot of North Mountain, six miles beyond Buffalo Gap. Averell reported crossing Warm Springs Mountain in the direction of Millborough. The force of Strasburg same as last reports represented, 1,800, but no indications of a movement in this direction. Fitz. Lee is here. Shenandoah too high to cross low down. It may be necessary to send Fitz. Lee to prevent an advance by Averell on Lexington or Fincastle. Stuart had perhaps better make a demonstration in favor of Rosser. At any rate, the gaps leading to the Page Valley had better be watched, to prevent Rosser being hemmed in on the east side of the Shenandoah. I shall leave in a few minutes for Buffalo Gap.

      J. A. EARLY,


Respectfully submitted for the information of Lieutenant-General Ewell. General Stuart has been requested to have the passages leading into PAGE Valley watched.

    W. H. TAYLOR,
    Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series. I., Vol. 52, Part 1, Page 797.

Averell was operating out of West Virginia, making probing raids into the Shenandoah Valley.  Early had moved Imboden west of Stanton and Averall was reported operating west of Lexington.  Page Valley was a small valley centered around Luray, Virginia between the Massanutten and Blue Ridge.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 15, 1863 (Tuesday): Trouble In the Valley

Road to Woodstock (
Alan M. Di Sciullo, Esq)

NEW MARKET, December 15, 1863-4 o'clock.
General R. E. LEE:
      The enemy's cavalry again dashed into Woodstock about 2 o'clock. The force not known.


DECEMBER 15, 1863.
Lieutenant General R. S. EWELL:
     GENERAL: I think I had better go to the Valley at once, and another brigade had better be sent. Of course if things did not require it, I would return immediately. If we wait further developments it might be too late. I will be over very shortly.

      J. A. EARLY,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 2, Page 797.

Ewell was filling in for Lee while the Army of Northern Virginia's commander was in Richmond conferring with Jefferson Davis.  The Union cavalry, more numerous and active than in the past, was having its way in the Shenandoah Valley.  Early would spend most of 1864 associated with famous events in the Valley and here makes an early foray into the region to quiet Union activity there.


December 14, 1863 (Monday): Defending Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia 1864

ATLANTA, GA., December 14, 1863.
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of Tennessee:
    COLONEL: I have the honor to stat I replied by telegraph a few moments since to your dispatch of the 13th, concerning the defense of Atlanta, that I had about 1,800 men, all told, effective strength, including the five artillery companies just sent down. I need to mention to you the peculiar topography of this place, rendering it easy of approach in every possible direction; this fact renders it necessarily a difficult point to defend against large bodies of men, or even against a moderate force, so long as we are so deficient in cavalry to do picket and keep us advised properly, or to meet them in front and so delay their advance as to enable us to know when to meet them. This is more especially the case with us here, as our main strength is the local force engaged in our various shops as mechanics. I am using every exertion to prepare the place for defense. Have completed a good line entirely around the city connecting all the batteries by heavy rifle-pits. The five companies sent me occupy now ten of my principal batteries, each company being strong enough to man two batteries of four guns each. At Roswell, Ga., on the north I have 150 men, armed with two pieces of artillery, and 40 mounted men, to guard that ford. The companies are composed of the employes of the factories there, and under the command of Captain J. R. King, a very fine officer. He has instructions to come to our aid under circumstances as fully explained in his orders. He will advise me from that direction by courier with written dispatches. The commandant of the posts at Marietta has promised to advise me fully from his direction. By request, General Iverson has kindly promised to advise me from his section by mail and telegraph. I have instructed Captain Steadman, commanding a company of my command at Lawrenceville, to keep me posted from that direction. I have sent a detachment of one of my cavalry companies here on the Peach Tree Road, running between Roswell and Lawrenceville to Gainesville, to picket that road, thus as far as possible covering the front (toward enemy) with the best system of pickets I can avail myself of. I am having guns mounted at the batteries as fast as possible. As before remarked, the local troops are chiefly mechanics, and I cannot call them out and put them in camp without great injury to the service, unless it be in an emergency. If duly advised, they can be easily commanded. They are all armed, and I have had ammunition,&c., all distributed to be ready at a moment's warning. I trust that I may be advised of the approach of any raiding parties so as to be ready, and hope that more men can be sent me if danger is threatened. If you say so, I can command 100 men from Macon, a splendid company, but unless the danger is apparent, would not like to call for them. Will you please reply by telegraph if necessary.
    I am, colonel, respectfully, your obedient servant,

    M. H. WRIGHT,
    Colonel, Commanding.

   P. S.-If cavalry cannot be sent, please send infantry.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Pages 821-822.

That the defenses of Atlanta were commanded by a colonel is a good indication of how secure, up to this time, the Confederates believed the critical supply and manufacturing center to be.  But Bragg and Longstreet's disasters in eastern Tennessee had suddenly forced the Confederates to begin thinking of how the city would be defended  The scant force available would certainly be of little use in other than a delaying action.  The real defense of the city lay with the Army of the Tennessee which was interposed between the invading Union Army and Atlanta.  The problems pointed out in Wright's letter would eventually be faced by that Army late in 1864 as it fell back to the city.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 13, 1863 (Sunday): Affair at Germantown

Colonel Charles Lowell

DECEMBER 13, 1863 - Affair at Germantown, Va.

Report of Colonel Charles R. Lowell, jr., Second Massachusetts Cavalry.
Vienna, Va.,
December 13, 1863.
    COLONEL: I have the honor to report that the dismounted party set out some days since returned today, after scouting in the direction of Dranesville. They report everything quiet in that vicinity. Mosby, after attacking the picket post at Lewinsville, went up through Dranesville. They reported there that they had been whipped and 3 of their men badly wounded.
    This morning at about 3 o'clock the picket at Germantown were surprised by a party of guerrillas, dismounted, some 20 strong. They crawled up and shot (without any warning), mortally wounding 2 men and capturing 5 horses and their equipments.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     C. R. Lowell, jr.,

     Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. Taylor,
     Chief of Staff, and Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 1, Page 977.

Lowell was Mosby's counterpart, Harvard educated, and not given the notice history records Mosby.  Mosby regarded Lowell as a gentleman, Lowell did not share the disdain of Mosby many in the north did.  But there was considerable tension in the lower level's of Lowell's command as there was no time to rest while on picket duty as Mosby's men were liable to attack at short notice and considerable aggression.  The toll they took in plunder and Union casualties was no where near the psychological toll exacted by the raiders.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 12, 1863 (Saturday): Forrest at Large

General Nathan B. Forrest

CORINTH, December 12, 1863.
Major-General HURLBUT,
    I learn from several sources that General Forrest has ordered all troops in West Tennessee to Jackson, and is organizing for a raid upon the railroad. All the small detachments that were around Purdy and Hamburg have gone to Jackson. The train that passed down to Savannah, I am inclined to think, took down arms and ammunition for Forrest. He has quite a force. Fifteen hundred unarmed conscripts at Jackson, and promised to arm them speedily. I also learn from a citizen from Middle Tennessee that conscripts are being sent across the Tennessee River to Forrest. My opinion is that you will have to prepare for a demonstration from Forrest, who will have at least 6,000 men, perhaps more.
    We are having a steady rain to-day which will render all streams temporarily past fording. If expeditions could be projected at the same time from La Grange, Union City, and Corinth, General Forrest and his command might be effectually disposed of.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 395.

Joseph Johnston said had Forrest had the benefit of a military education he might have become the central military character of the war.  


December 11, 1863 (Thursday): Beauregard and the Science of War

General P. G. T. Beauregard

CHARLESTON, S. C., December 11, 1863.
Richmond, Va.:
    DEAR SIR: I send you herewith the plan of operations for the present emergency you had asked of me before you left here. The views I have expressed may appear bold na impracticable to many, but our condition is so critical, in my opinion, that half-way measures may retard our ruing but cannot save us. The past,however, gives me no reason to believe that my views will be adopted by the War Department.
     This is the sixth plan of campaign that I have had the honor to offer, directly or indirectly, to the Government, to wit, two from Manassas to the President in June and July, 1861, one from Bladon to General Bragg in July, 1862, one from Charleston to General Johnston, in May, 1863,one from Charleston to General Bragg, in October, 1863, and the one accompanying this letter to yourself. Of all these plans only the second one from Manassas was partially adopted, and after its success, strange as it may appear, its paternity was disputed! Indeed, at the time I attached but little importance to it, my sole object being to defeat the enemy and insure the success of our cause. I looked in pity on those who could not understand such motives of action, and left sick at heart at their egotism and blindness. God grant that they may open their eyes before we are all engulfed in the same abyss!
   You are at liberty to show the accompanying plan of campaign to whomever you think may aid you in having it adopted.
    I fear that the friends of the administration may not be pleased with certain passages in it, but I endeavored to make it as "gentle" as I could. It was impossible to do justice to the subject and say less. I think it can safely be shown to Messrs. Orr, Wigfall, Miles, Conrad, and Villere.
With many kind regards to all inquiring friends, I remain, yours sincerely,



HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF S. C., GA., AND FLA., Charleston, S. C., December 8, 1863.
Richmond, Va.:
    MY DEAR SIR: In compliance with your request made on the eve of your departure for Richmond, I have prepared for you a sketch of certain operations by which we may yet retrieve our late losses and possibly baffle the immense resources of men and available material of our enemy.
First. The system hitherto followed of keeping in the field separate armies acting without concert on distant and divergent lines of operation, and thus enabling our adversary to concentrate at convenience his masses against our fractions, must be discontinued, as radically contrary to the principles of the art of war, and attended with inevitable results as our disasters in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Northern Georgia.
    Second. We must arrange for a sudden and rapid concentration upon some selected, decisive, strategic point of the theater of war of enough troops to crush the forces of the enemy embodied in that quarter. This must necessarily be done at the expense or hazard, for the time, of other points less important or offering less advantages for striking the enemy. A blow thus struck will necessarily disorganize his combinations and give us the choice of the field of operations.
    I am sensibly aware of our limited means, our want of men, the material and appliances of war, and of transportation, and hence the difficulties which will embarrass us in the execution of this plan of concentration, but I see no way to success except through and by it. A different course may, indeed, protract the contest, which will become day by day more unequal. We may fight-stoutly, as hitherto-many more bloody and indecisive battles, but will never win a signal, conclusive victory until we can manage to throw a heavy and overwhelming mass of our forces upon the fractions of the enemy, and at the same time successfully strike at his communications without exposing our own. I believe this may yet be done. Not knowing, however, our present available forces and their locations, I am unable to make a definite or detailed plan of operations, but I believe I am warranted is assuming that we have under arms 210,000 effective men, distributed as follows:

In the Trans-Mississippi Department,say.................. 40,000
Department of Alabama and Mississippi, say............... 15,000
Under Hardee,including Longstreet,say.................... 60,000
Department of South Carolina, Georgia,and Florida,say..... 28,000
Department of North Carolina, say........................ 7,000
Department of Virginia,say............................... 60,000
Total.................................................... 210,000

     Looking at a map of the Confederate States, it will be seen that the most injurious blow which the enemy could strike at present would be to take possession of Atlanta, thus isolating still more completely the trans-Mississippi States, and detaching, in a great measure, the States of Mississippi and Alabama from the eastern portion of the Confederacy. It would also be a deplorable injury to the energeting, populous State of Georgia, and cripple the great resources of that people. We should, therefore, regard Atlanta as the actual objective point of the large force which the enemy has concentrated about Chattanooga, and the one which we must at all cost prevent him from obtaining.   In this state of affairs, throwing aside all other considerations, subordinating all other operations to this one vital campaign, at a concerted moment we must withdraw from other points a portion of their forces - all, indeed, not absolutely essential for keeping up a show of defense or safety against a coup de main, and concentrate in this way every soldier possible for operations against General Grant. Such strategic points as Richmond, Weldon, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, and Meridian or Jackson, Miss., at the same time should be fortified, garrisoned, and provisioned, according to their present relative value to the Confederate States, sufficiently to prolong their defense if attacked or besieged until troops for their relief could be detached, as required, from the army in Northwestern Georgia.
    I will now state, approximately, what troops may, in my belief, be withdrawn from the following quarters and added to the army at or about Dalton, namely:

From Alabama and Mississippi............................. 10,000
From South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida................. 8,000
From North Carolina...................................... 2,000
From Virginia............................................ 20,000
Total.................................................... 40,000

     These 40,000 men, added with celerity to the force now under Hardee, and including that under Longstreet and other detachments, would make an army of 100,000 men. Let this army take the offensive at once, and, properly handled, it should crush any force that Grant could assemble in time an oppose, scattered as he evidently is, and unprepared as he would be for such an event.
To insure the success of a plan of operations the press must preserve complete silence touching all military movements. Depots of subsistence, munitions of war, ambulances,horses, wagons, &c., should be established at certain points not too far from Atlanta for rapid concentration at the proper time. Meantime, whatsoever troops that could safely be withdrawn from the departments already indicated, should be quickly, quietly concentrated at suitable central points, thence to be thrown with all possible dispatch to Dalton with all the means of transportation available of all sorts. At the same time the officer appointed to command this large army should make all his preparation for such a trust and the sudden accumulation of troops of all arms, so that he may able to mold it into a homogeneous mass as early as practicable, and to inaugurate offensive operations without loss of one moment of time that may be obviated. And further, he must be invested with an unrestricted, unembarrassed selection of staff officers and thoroughly emancipated from the least subordination to the views and control of the heads of bureaus at Richmond, a reproduction in this war of that fatal Austrian system, with which no eminently successful commander ever had to contend - a pernicious plan of administration which will clog and hamper the highest military genius, whether of a Napoleon or a Caesar.I believe the success of the plan of campaign thus sketched and the utter defeat of the enemy would be almost certain.The question would next be, whether to pursue the routed enemy with vigor to the banks of the Ohio and Mississippi, or to return to the several sources whence the army was gathered their respective detachments or quotas for the campaign. This should be left, however, to be determined by the nature of the enemy's operations at the time.I must finally remark that were it possible to concentrate with sufficient expedition, at or about Knoxville, such an army as I have indicated, that would be the better point whence to take the offensive into Middle Tennessee than Dalton, that is, according to the principles of the art, would promise more decisive results, for it is evident we should thus threaten the enemy's communications without exposing our own (Principe II, Art of War). "Le secret de la guerre est dans le secret de communications" (Napoleon).By a movement from Knoxville we should be doing what is taught in connection with the third maxim (Art of War), to wit: That part of the base of operations is the most advantageous to break out from into the theater of war which conducts the most directly on the enemy's flanks or rear. There may be, however, such practical difficulties in the way of execution of such a movement on that line as may not make it advisable to adopt it."The whole science of war," it has been well said, "may be briefly defined as the art of placing in the right position at the right time a mass of troops greater than your enemy can there oppose to you."These conditions, I sincerely believe, may all be filled by very much such a plan as the one which I have hurriedly placed before you. Of course my views must be subject to such modifications as my want of precise information relative to the number and location of our troops may render necessary.The hour is critical and grave.The enemy increaseth every day;We at the height, are ready to decline.
     I am filled with intense anxiety lest golden opportunities shall be lost - lost forever. In no theater of human action is it so true as in war -

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
* * * *
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

     It is concentration and immediate mobility that are indispensable to save us.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Pages 812-816.

At the time of this epistle, Lee was in Richmond advocating for Beauregard to be placed in command (as opposed to Lee himself assuming the duty).  But Jefferson Davis had a clear, and unfavorable, view of Beauregard.  It was in no small part due to his vanity and far reaching strategic imaginings, fully on display here.  A point Beauregard makes, and others would make after the war, was that Richmond was not as strategically important as Atlanta and to win independence the Confederates needed to have recognized the fact.  But it must be understood that to cede Virginia to the Union would also mean to lose a large part of it's armies, as Virginians would be more likely to go home than to continue the struggle after their homeland had been abandoned to the Union army.  Davis was no fan of Joe Johnston, either, but messages such as this were of the stuff which stunted any ambition Beauregard had for enacting his plans in the field with actual troops.  Pierre Soule was a diplomat from Louisiana who had been captured and imprisoned at the start of the war, but escaped South.  Before the war he had schemed for the US to annex Cuba.

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 10, 1863 (Wednesday): Grant Thanks His Troops

General U.S. Grant


Numbers 9.
In the Field, Chattanooga, Tennessee

December 10, 1863.
    The general commanding takes this opportunity of returning his sincere thanks and congratulations to the brave armies of the Cumberland, the Ohio, the Tennessee, and their comrades from the Potomac, for the recent splendid and decisive successes achieved over the enemy. In a short time you have recovered from him the control of the Tennessee River, from Bridgeport to Knoxville; you dislodged him from his great stronghold upon Lookout Mountain; drove him from Chattanooga Valley; wrested from his determined grasp the possession of Missionary Ridge; repelled, with heavy loss to him, his repeated assaults upon Knoxville, forcing him to raise the siege there; driving him at all points, utterly routed and discomfited, beyond the limits of the State. By your noble heroism and determined courage you have most effectually defeated the plans of the enemy for regaining possession of the States of Kentucky and Tennessee. You have secured positions from which no rebellious power can drive or dislodge you. For all this the general commanding thanks you collectively and individually. The loyal people of the United States thank and bless you. Their hopes and prayers for your success against this unholy rebellion are with you daily. Their faith in you will not be in vain. Their hopes will not be blasted. Their prayers to Almighty God will be answered. You will yet go to other fields of strife, and, with the invincible bravery and unflinching loyalty to justice and right which have characterized you in the past, you will prove that no enemy can withstand you, and that no defenses, however formidable, can check your onward march.
    By order of Major General U. S. Grant:

    T. S. BOWERS,
    Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 2, Pages 51-52.

Well did Grant's men deserve the accolades they won.  Grant's summation was accurate and reflected how much the Union had accomplished in Tennessee in a short period of time.  Although Gettysburg is regarded by many as a turning point in the war, it would be hard to argue that Chattanooga and Knoxville were not at least equal pivot points.  So much a success were they for the north they prompted Davis to call Lee to Richmond to discuss taking command in the west.  There was now a sense in the North the war was moving toward a conclusion.  Perhaps not an immediate one, but the tide had turned.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 9, 1863 (Tuesday): Lee Summoned to Richmond

General J. E. B. Stuart

CAMP, December 9, 1863.

General STUART:
     GENERAL: I am called to Richmond this morning by the President. I presume the rest will follow.* My heart and thoughts will always be with this army. Please look out for positions for the cavalry, where they can be foraged, and be not too far away from the field of operations. I have set Colonel Corley to work. I expect to be back.
     Very truly,

    R. E. LEE.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 866.

  *See Lee to Davis, December 3; Davis to Lee, December 5, and Lee's reply, December 7.

Lee was headed to Richmond to consult again with Davis upon the question of his assuming command of the western armies.  While Lee expressed himself willing, he was not eager for the task and his message to Stuart reveals the depth of his feeling for the men of his command.  It is obvious he believed Davis might insist on the exchange of commands.  Lee would go to Richmond and suggest Beauregard for the command, something Davis was not willing to consider.  Ultimately he would not force Lee to go, but would name Joseph Johnston to the position.

December 8, 1863 (Monday): Something Must Be Given Them to Eat

Culpeper Court House (Library of Congress)

Colonel C. ROSS SMITH,
Chief of Staff, Hdqrs. Cavalry Corps:
All quiet on the lines and in front.
    I respectfully call the attention of the proper authorities to the condition of the citizens of Culpeper and its environs. Almost all of them are suffering for the necessaries of life, and some will starve soon if their, condition is not bettered by issues the commissaries. Very few, if any will take the oath of allegiance to the United States Government;some refuse from prejudice, others from fear of their neighbors, who, they say, would persecute them for the action. Nor would administering the oath of allegiance to such people do any good, for they would not probably consider themselves bound by it, as they reason that it is forced upon them. I do not allow these people to go out of the town limits, as they steal through the lines, and, being rabid female rebels, give the enemy information. Something must be given them to eat, though.
     Very respectfully,

      W. MERRITT,
      Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 592.

Conditions in the Culpeper area had become severe.  Both armies took note of it.  Lee had called on the government in Richmond to allocate a portion to civilians from the supplies set aside for the army.  And here, Wesley Merritt, the Union Cavalry officer, takes not of the condition of the local population, raising the possibility of starvation.  He also is reluctant to allow women to pass through the lines, as the spirit of rebellion remained active and he feared information getting through to the Confederates if he allowed them through the lines.

December 7, 1863 (Sunday): Lee Declines A New Command

General Robert E. Lee (Library of Congress)

President Confederate States, Richmond:
     Mr. PRESIDENT: I have had the honor to receive your dispatch, inquiring whether I could go to Dalton. I can if desired, but of the expediency of the measure you can judge better than I can. Unless it is intended that I should take permanent command, I can see no good that will result, even if in that event any could be accomplished. I also fear that I would not receive cordial co-operation, and I think it necessary if I am withdrawn from here that a commander for this army be sent to it. General Ewell's condition, I fear, is too feeble to undergo the fatigue and labor incident to the position. I hope Your Excellency will not suppose that I am offering any obstacles to any measure you may think necessary. I only seek to give you the opportunity to form your opinion after a full consideration of the subject. I have not that confidence either in my strength or ability as would lead me of my own option to under take the command in question.
      I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

      R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 792.

Davis did not directly offer Lee command of the Army of the Tennessee, but he would undoubtedly would have liked the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia to at least go to Dalton and bring some order to the situation.  In his discussions with Davis Lee must have at least picked up a hint of the idea of him taking command and here he tactfully steps away from the possibility.  This is yet another indication Lee was beginning to have doubts regarding his own health.  In addition, the practical matter of who would lead the Army Northern Virginia in his absence raises itself.  Ewell had seniority, but after losing a leg at Second Manassas he was not up to commanding an army.  In any event, given his temperment, it is difficult to imagine Ewell in command of the entire army for any length of time.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December 6, 1863 (Saturday): Longstreet Retreats

General James Longsteet

TAZEWELL, Tennessee, December 6, 1863-6 p..m.
(Received 2.15 a.m., 7th.)
Major-General HALLECK,
     There seems no doubt that Longstreet is in full retreat. A deserter who came in to-day reports that he came out with the column from Knoxville on the 4th. The infantry and transportation moving up the valley on the other side of the Holston, and the cavalry from this side to cover from my attack. The talk among the soldiers was that they were going to Virginia or North Carolina. Foster's cavalry division was 4 miles this side of Maynardville at 2 p.m., when the courier left, preparing to attack the enemy's cavalry.

      J. G. FOSTER

      (Same to General Grant.)

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 344.

Longstreet was headed for winter quarters at Rogersville, Tennessee, roughly 65 miles northeast of Knoxville.  A scratch force of infantry and cavalry followed in pursuit, but not aggressively.  If Longstreet had entertained thoughts of advancement in the west, they were not to come to pass.  When Davis accepted Bragg's resignation (much to Bragg's surprise) there appears to have been no thought given to Longstreet as a replacement.  Although he won plaudits for his performance at Chickamauga he was part of the cabal which plotted against Bragg, botched an attack on an exposed element of the Union forces at Chattanooga, missed an opportunity at Campbell's Station, and dawdled before Knoxville, finally failing badly in an attack on Fort Sanders.

December 5, 1863 (Friday): Lee to Dalton?

Defenses Near Dalton, Georgia

December 5, 1863.
General R. E. LEE,
Orange Court-House:
      Could you consistently go to Dalton, as heretofore explained?


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 861.

Davis wanted Lee to go to Dalton to sort out Army of Tennessee after Bragg's resignation was accepted and Hardee was reluctant to assume temporary command.  As Lee would point out in response two days later, it only made sense for him to go to Georgia if he were to take permanent charge there, and he had no suitable replacement for himself if he did. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 4, 1863 (Thursday): Charleston Beseiged.

Ruins of the Railroad Station (Charleston SC)

December 4, 1863.
General S. COOPER:
     Enemy threw 32 shells into the city yesterday morning, doing little damage, and nobody hurt. The fire on Sumter ceased at night, probably in hopes of surprising the garrison by a sudden assault.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 38, Part 2, Page 539.

Charleston was both symbol and objective during the war.  The city in which the war commenced was a focal point of Union strategists, not only for any advantage gained in taking it, but for the psychological impact of putting the flag back up at Fort Sumter.  But taking the city, even with a large naval force in support, was proving to be an illusive goal. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

December 3, 1863 (Thursday): Lee Looks West

Confederate White House (

December 3, 1863.
President Confederate States, Richmond:
     Mr. PRESIDENT: I have considered with some anxiety the condition of affairs in Georgia and Tennessee. My knowledge of events has been principally derived from the public papers, and the impressions I have received may be erroneous, but there appears to me to be grounds to apprehend that the enemy may penetrate Georgia and get possession of our depots of provisions and important manufactories. I see it stated that General Bragg has been relieved from command, and that General Hardee has been relieved from command, and that General Hardee is only acting until another commander shall be assigned to that army. I know the difficulties that surround this subject, but if General Beauregard is considered suitable for the position, I think he can be replaced at Charleston by General Gilmer. More force, in my opinion, is required in Georgia, and it can only be had, so far as I know, from Mississippi, Mobile, and the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.    The occupation of Cleveland by the enemy cuts off General Longstreet from his base, and unless he succeeds quickly in defeating General Burnside, he will have to retire either into Virginia or North Carolina. I see no reason why General Sam. Jones should not be ordered to advance to his support, or at least to divert the attention of the column that is said to be moving on Charleston, Tenn.
     I have ventured to trouble Your Excellency with these suggestions, as I know how much your attention is occupied with the general affairs of the country, especially as the session of Congress approaches. I think that every effort should be made to concentrate as large a force as possible, under the best commander, to insure the discomfiture of Grant's army. To do this and gain the great advantage that would accrue from it, the safety of points practically less important than those endangered by his army must be hazarded. Upon the defense of the country threatened by General Grant depends the safety of the points now held by us on the Atlantic, and they are in as great danger from his successful advance as by the attacks to which they are at present directly subjected.
      Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

      R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol 29, Part 2, Page 858-859.

An interesting memo for a number of reasons.  It underscores a little discussed fact, which is that Lee's army often drew on supply depots as far south as Atlanta.  At the time this was written any number of persons, Hardee among them, was advocating Lee take command in the West.  Lee suggests Beauregard as Bragg's replacement, when Johnston was still in theater as overall commander of the Department of the West. Lee is also ever mindful of the absence of Longstreet and his corp from the Army of Northern Virginia and points out the necessity of Longstreet either taking Knoxville or returning through western Virginia.  Conditions were not good and the always aggressive Lee advocated for a force under a strong commander to strike a blow against Grant.

December 2, 1863 (Wednesday): Bragg Departs

General Braxton Bragg


No. 214. Dalton, Ga., December 2, 1863.
     Upon renewed application to the President, his consent has been obtained for the relinquishment of    the command of this army. It is accordingly transferred to Lieutenant-General Hardee.
The announcement of this separation is made with unfeigned regret. The associations of more than two years, which bind together a commander and his trusted troops, cannot be severed without deep emotion. A common cause and dangers shared on the many hard fought fields from Pensacola to Chickamauga have cemented bonds which time even can never impair.
    The circumstances which render this step proper will be appreciated, however, by every good soldier and true patriot, and the last appeal the general has to make to the gallant army which has so long and so nobly sustained him, is to give to his successor that cordial and generous support so essential to the success of our arms. In that successor you have a veteran whose brilliant reputation you have aided to achieve. He cannot fail, if properly sustained, to fill the measure of our country's expectations.
    To the officers of my general staff, who have so long, so zealously, and so successfully struggled against serious difficulties in support of the army and myself, is due, in a great degree, what little of success and fame we have achieved. In bidding them and the army an affectionate farewell, they have the blessing and the prayers of a grateful friend.

      General, C. S. Army.

RICHMOND, December 2, 1863.
Lieutenant General WILLIAM J. HARDEE, Dalton, Ga.:
     Your dispatch November 30 received and submitted to the President. What general is in your mind for the command which you decline? It is needless to name Lee, who is now indispensable where he is.

     S. COOPER,
     Adjutant and Inspector General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Pages 775-776.

Bragg had offered his resignation on November 29 after the disaster at Chattanooga.  It was done as a matter of form and Bragg was surprised when Davis immediately accepted it.  The depths to which Bragg's reputation had fallen are evidenced by the lack of an obvious successor.  It is interesting also to note Longstreet, who might have been given the task, had worked his way out of the job by his failing to accomplish anything of substance in the Knoxville campaign.  Also, it is ironic to not that on the day Hardee was named to the command he was requesting Lee be given it.

December 1, 1863 (Tuesday): Meade Moves His Army

A typical army encampment.

December 1, 1863.
The following movements of troops are ordered for to-day and to-night:
1. The First Corps, Major-General Newton commanding, will withdraw from its position on Mine Run (part of the Fifth Corps relieving it), concealing the movement from the enemy, and march at 4 p.m. to Germanna Ford, where it will take position and hold the crossing of the river until the Fifth and Sixth Corps cross, when it will follow those two corps as soon as the road on the opposite side is clear. It will then form the rear guard, and use every precaution to insure the safety of the rear. It will take post at the termination of the plank road, covering the trains on the Stevensburg road and watching the Mitchell's Ford road.
2. The Fifth Corps will withdraw from its position on Mine Run as soon as it is dark (6 o'clock), take the turnpike, and pass to the Germanna plank road by the left, along a wood road which the guide will point out, and move to Germanna Ford and cross the river. After crossing, it will mass on some convenient point near the ford until the Sixth Corps has passed, when it will follow the latter, taking the plank road to its termination, turn into the Stevensburg road at Holley's, and take position at Stevensburg. It will not leave Germanna Ford until the First Corps has crossed so much of its force as not to need its support.
3. The Third Corps will withdraw from its position as soon as it is dark (6 o'clock), and move to the Orange Court-House plank road and proceed to Culpeper Ford, using a cross-road to the Germanna plank road, and turning from the latter by the road to Culpeper Ford. A guide will accompany the corps. The route is that used by the Fifth and First Corps on the recent march. The two brigades of this corps at Parker's Store and Wilderness Tavern will remain with the cavalry, and take post with them at Culpeper and Ely's Fords until after the passage of all the trains and troops, when they will rejoin the Third Corps at Brandy Station. After crossing the river, the Third Corps will mass at some suitable point near the ford until the Second Corps has passed, when it will follow that corps and take the road past Richardsville, moving to Brandy Station, leaving the Stevensburg road at Madden's and crossing Mountain Run at Stony Ford, a mile below Ross' Mills.
4. The Sixth Corps, Major-General Sedgwick commanding will withdraw as soon as the Fifth Corps to Germanna Ford, and, after crossing the river, there precede the Fifth Corps, taking the Germanna plank road; thence past Holley's and through to Stevensburg to the vicinity of Brandy Station, where it will remain until the arrival of the Third Corps, when it will proceed to its former position near Welford's Ford, on Hazel River. The Sixth Corps brings up the rear of the column that crosses at Germanna Ford as far as the Rapidan, and will use every precaution to protect it; it will throw out some force upon the Raccoon Ford road until it has passed Robertson's Tavern.
5. The Second Corps, Major-General Warren commanding, will withdraw after dark in time to follow closely the Third Corps. After that corps had entered the Orange Court-House plank road, it will follow that corps to Culpeper Ford by the route prescribed, and after crossing the river will precede the Third Corps, passing by Richardsville to its former position on Mountain Run, leaving the Stevensburg road at Madden's. The division of the Sixth Corps with it will there rejoin its corps.
The Second Corps will form the rear guard of the column until it crosses the Rapidan, when it will precede the Third Corps. It will use every precaution to insure the safety of the rear.
6. The corps on the same route will maintain constant communication with each other, and keep within close supporting distance. Those that cross at Germanna will look out for their left; those that cross at Culpeper will look out for their right as far as that ford, and every precaution will be used to secure the flanks and rear from surprise.
7. The trains and artillery will precede the head of each corps, excepting such artillery as may be needed for the rear guard of the rear corps.
8. Corps commanders will so conduct the withdrawal of their troops as to avoid the observation of the enemy. In conducting the march, every effort will be made to prevent any accidental deviation from the route.
9. The major-general commanding the Cavalry Corps will dispose of that arm so as to cover the right flank until the infantry corps have crossed the Rapidan, and the rear, after crossing, by holding the river.
The two brigades of infantry of the Third Corps with General Gregg will remain with the cavalry and take post with them at Culpeper and Ely's Fords until after the passage of all the trains and troops, when they will rejoin their corps at Brandy Station.
10. The pickets will not be withdrawn until 3 o'clock on the morning of the 2nd instant. Those of the Sixth, Fifth, Third, and First Corps will be assembled under the command of the officer commanding the pickets of the Fifth Corps, and will be conducted by him on the route of the Fifth Corps. After crossing the Rapidan the pickets will rejoin their corps. The pickets of the Second Corps will follow the route of that corps.
11. Headquarters will take the route of the column that crosses at Germanna, and will be found on the route between the Fifth and Sixth Corps as far as the Rapidan. At Germanna Ford it will be found at the former headquarters there, and afterward on the route to former headquarters near Brandy Station, through Stevensburg. At the close of the march headquarters will be at the former locality, near Brandy Station.
By command of Major-General Meade:
Assistant Adjutant-General.
(To commanding officers First, Second, Third, Fifth, and Sixth Corps, Cavalry Corps, chief of artillery, chief commissary of subsistence, chief engineer, and provost-marshal-general.)

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Pages 530-532.

The movement of such large armies was necessarily a logistical undertaking of considerable complexity.  Armies in motion were subject to unexpected attack and isolation, as well as being less able to defend themselves.  It was vital the moves of any one part of the army coordinated with the others.  Meade's movements here in the aftermath of the brief battle at Payne's Farm along Mine Run is a good example.

November 30, 1863 (Monday): Custer Reports

General George A. Custer

Morton's Ford, November 30, 1863-2 p. m.
[Colonel C. ROSS SMITH,
Chief of Staff, Cavalry Corps:]
    Two contrabands, who crossed the river near Rapidan Station last night, report that the enemy is moving all his trains toward Gordonsville. One contraband stated that he had counted over 500 wagons moving from Orange Court-House to Gordonsville. There was scarcely any guards with the train. A man belonging to my command who was taken prisoner two weeks ago at Raccoon Ford, made his escape from the enemy and has just come in. He reports that he has been at Orange Court-House for one week; that now there are but very few troops at that point, all having been marched toward Fredericksburg. He confirms the report which states that the trains of the enemy are moving to Gordonsville. He was dressed in the rebel uniform, and associated freely with the rebel soldiers after making his escape.
    They are all aware of Bragg's disaster and expect that Lee's army will be forced back. The enemy have withdrawn all infantry from the fords above this point, and do not show as large a force of cavalry as usual. I can cross Morton's Ford at my pleasure. A few minutes ago I received through General Merritt's headquarters a dispatch from you, stating that our batteries would open at 8 a. m.     The dispatch was dated 7 a. m.

     G. A. CUSTER,
     Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 930.

Custer's fame, for better and worse, was made mainly on the western plains.  But he had an active career leading cavalry forces during the Civil War.  Here he relates information obtained from a spy (or deserter, it is not clear).  It is interesting to note how quickly word of Bragg's loss at Chattanooga made its way to the eastern armies.

November 29, 1863 (Sunday): Saving Burnside

General Henry Halleck

WASHINGTON, November 29, 1863-11.40 a.m.
Major-General GRANT,
Chattanooga, Tennessee:
      Governor Bramlette, of Kentucky, has sent to the President a protest against your taking rails from the Paducah road, and suggests that they be taken from some Mississippi, Louisiana, or Arkansas road. I communicate the Governor's suggestion, but do not ask you to adopt it.

      H. W. HALLECK,

WASHINGTON, November 29, 1863-1.30 p.m.
Major-General GRANT,
Chattanooga, Tennessee:
      Advices from Knoxville on Wednesday last are that Burnside is still hard pressed. Re-enforcements should be pushed forward as rapidly as possible, till it is positively known that Longstreet has fallen back.

     H. W. HALLECK,

CHATTANOOGA, November 29, 1863-8 p.m. (Received 10.30 p.m.)
Maj. General H. W. HALLECK,
     The Fourth Corps started yesterday for relief of Burnside. Sherman was sent to the Hiwasee, and I have sent orders to him to take command of the whole, and organize a sufficient force for the object to be a accomplished, and send the remainder of the troops here. I made this change, knowing Sherman's promptness and ability. If Burnside holds out a short time he will be relieved. Should Longstreet succeed in capturing Knoxville, he himself will be captured, I think.

      U. S. GRANT,
      Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 270.

Having neutralized Bragg's threat to Chattanooga Grant turned to relieving Burnside in Knoxville.  The urgency felt by the administration was not shared to that great an extent in the field.  Grant knew Longstreet was likely to have to fall back with Grant now on his line of communication and, in any case, if Longstreet took Knoxville he would not be holding it for long without support, which could not come from Bragg after the latter's retreat south to Dalton.  These memos are good examples of the role Halleck played as an administrator in Washington.  His authority was limited but his judgment was usually sound.  Although not a great admirer of Grant, he worked well with him.

November 28, 1863 (Saturday): Mine Run

Mine Run at Bottom of Hill, Confederate Positions Beyond                                                                                                                                   

(Photo courtesy Yates).

November 28, 1863.
    The enemy's whole force is on the roads to Orange Court-House. No advance toward Spotsylvania. His progress yesterday was successfully resisted.

     R. E. LEE.

     General S. COOPER,
     Adjutant and Inspector General.

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 29, Part 1, Page 829.

Meade was rebuffed by the administration in his initial plan for the fall campaign.  He eventually attempted to maneuver Lee out of position by crossing at Germanna Ford and turning west toward Orange Court House.  Stuart's cavalry detected the move and Lee strongly entrenched along Mine Run to wait on the enemy.  After a series of minor attacks resulting in no advantage being gained, Meade retired and went into winter quarters around Culpeper.