Thursday, January 31, 2013

February 1, 1863 (Sunday): Fort McAllister Attacked

Interior of Fort McAllister ( Edling)

GENESIS POINT, February 1, 1863-1.30 p. m. 

Fight lasted five hours, ending 12.45. Major Gallie's brains blown out, nobody wounded, and 7 injured by concussion. One 32 trunnion knocked off; parapet torn up in about fire places; in front of columbiad it was partly demolished. Enemy's iron-clad struck at least a dozen times, perhaps two dozen, and has gone back out of sight. She came within 1,000 yards of our battery, probably 700. Colonel R. H. Anderson and garrison have acted nobly.

     Major and Assistant Inspector-General.

SAVANNAH, February 1, 1863.
General THOMAS JORDAN, Chief of Staff:
    GENERAL: I visited Genesis Point this morning just after the fight, too late to get a view of the iron-clad, which came much nearer-perhaps within 600 yards, but more likely about 700. She was afraid of our fire, however, and fell back some distance.
     I inclose rough sketches of this steamer as she appeared to three parties and two rough plans of the position of enemy's fleet during engagement.
     The iron-clad seems to have fired principally 15-inch shell, one of which went directly through the parapet (17 feet thick) in front of a 32-pounder on the left. At this point the parapet was mostly built of marsh mud, which I infer cannot provide sufficient resistance to these missiles. Two shells seem to have struck near the same point on the parapet (made of sand) in front of the columbiad and tore away about a third of it, covering several men with sand; one or two were dug out. The resisting power of sand is very great, and after thick iron it makes probably the protection most desirable. So far as demolishing earthwork goes I am inclined to think the 15-inch shell a partial failure. I think a concentrated fire of smaller guns would have been more destructive to us. Had they burst better, however, the result might have been different. Captain George W. Anderson, the officer next in rank to Major Gallie, has proved himself a brave and good young soldier, but I think Captain Alfred L. Hartridge, Company B, First Georgia Sharpshooters, who commanded Genesis Point last summer, is the man best qualified to succeed Major Gallie. I will send you by express a brass fuse plug from the 15-inch shell.
     I am, with regard, your most obedient servant,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 14, Part 1, Pages 212-213.

Genesis Point was the site of Fort McAllister on the Ogeechee River, commanding the Southern approaches to Savannah.  The U.S.S. Montauk, a monitor, shelled the earthworks for five hours without significantly reducing the fort.  The commanding officer, Major Gallie, was killed and the 17 foot parapet was punctured by one 32 pound shot.  It would take the introduction of land forces under Sherman in 1864 to finally take the fort.  While the very large and well constructed brick Fort Pulaski was reduced easily, the sand parapets of McAllister proved to be much more formidable.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 31, 1863 (Saturday): Breaking the Blockade

Confederate Ironclads Engaging the Union Fleet (

Numbers 3. Report of Commander John R. Tucker, C. S. Navy.
January 31, 1863.
    SIR: In obedience to your order I got under way at 11.30 p. m. yesterday and stood down the harbor in company with the Confederate States steamer Palmetto State, bearing your flag. We crossed the bar at 4.40 a. m., and commenced the action at 5.20 a. m. by firing into a schooner-rigged propeller, which we set on fire, and have reason to believe sunk, as she was nowhere to be seen at daylight. We then engaged a large side-wheel steamer twice our length from us, on the port bow, firing three shots into her with telling effect, when she made a run for it. This vessel was supposed to be the Quaker City. We then engaged a schooner-riffed propeller and a large side-wheel steamer, partially crippling both and setting on fire the latter, causing her to strike her flag. At this time the latter vessel, supposed to be the Keystone State, was completely at my mercy, having a raking position astern, distance some 200 yards. I at once gave the order to cease firing upon her and directed Lieutenant Bier, first lieutenant of the Chicora, to man a boat and take charge of the prize; if possible, to save her. If that was not possible to rescue the crew. While the boat was in the act of being manned I discovered that she war endeavoring to make her escape by working her starboard wheel, the other being disabled. Her colors being down, I at once started in pursuit and renewed the engagement. Owing to her superior steaming qualities she soon widened the distance to some 2,000 yards. She then hoisted her flag and commenced firing her rifled gun, her commander, by this faithless act, placing himself beyond the pale of civilized and Honorable warfare. We next engaged two schooners-one brig and one barkrigged propeller-but not having the requisite speed, were unable to bring them to close quarters. We pursued them 6 or 7 miles seaward. During the engagement (near its termination) I was engaged at long range with a large bark-rigged steam sloop of war, but in spite of all our efforts was unable to bring her to close quarters, owing to her superior steaming qualities. At 7.30 a. m., in obedience to your orders, we stood inshore, leaving the partially-crippled and fleeing enemy about 7 miles clear of the bar, standing to the southward and eastward. At 8 a. m., in obedience to signal, we anchored in 4-fathom water off the Beach Channel.
It gives me pleasure to testify to the good conduct and efficiency of the officers and crew of the Chicora. I am particularly indebted to the pilots, Messrs. Payne and Aldert, for the skillful pilotage of the vessel. It gives me pleasure to report that I have no injures or casualties.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    J. R. TUCKER,
    Commander, C. S. Navy.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 14, Part 1, Page 209.

Under a moon three days short of full the Chicora and Palmetto State passed Fort Sumter on their way to confront the ten wooden ships of the Union blocking fleet.   The Palmetto State badly damaged the Mercedita, the Chicora put ten shots into the Keystone State.  Although first surrendering, it then raised its flag and outran the slower Chicora to safety.  By this time the sun was up and the Confederates headed seven miles out to sea in pursuit.  The Union fleet gave the rebels plenty of room and no more damage resulted.  The Keystone State, with 20 dead and 20 wounded, was towed to Port Royal.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 30, 1863 (Friday): Grant's Canal

Remaining Section of Grant's Canal (NPS)

Numbers 4. Reports of Captain Frederick E. Prime, U. S. Corps of Engineers, Chief Engineer, of operations January 30-May 4. 

Camp opposite Vicksburg, MISS., January 30, 1863.
   GENERAL: I have the honor to forward herewith tracing of point opposite Vicksburg. The dotted line at the entrance of the canal shows the new direction so as to correspond with the course of the current. Ground was broken to-day. Tomorrow I shall try and dam the canal at the point marked, not having any levels but such as used by masons. I shall then be enabled to obtain the approximate difference of level between the water level at the entrance and exit of the canal. At present it is variously estimated from 28 inches to 3 feet. The velocity, as roughly measured to-day by using a floating body, was 422 feet in two minutes. I shall commence making a few fascines and gabions tomorrow. There is difficulty in procuring proper materials for withes and for gabions in the immediate neighborhood.
    Should circumstances require the expedition to remain here for some length of time, and the river continues to rise, there will be much trouble from the backwater in the swamps coming from the crevasses in the levee. There is a crevasse above here, as shown on the map, which in a few days will probably be repaired. About 2 1/2 miles above the mouth of the Yazoo River there is another and more troublesome crevasse, which I have not been able to examine, nor have I any person to send. There is also another crevasse some 10 or 12 miles below here. The earth from the new entrance to the canal will by used on the east side to from a species of levee connecting with the old leave, in order to prevent the current (in case it should show a tendency to cut) from expending it self on the low land outside of the levee when the old levee is passed. The levee, as stated in my previous letter, is being constructed on the WEST side, in order to prevent the camping ground from being inundated.
    I shall continue to give the Department all information that I can obtain in connection with the engineer part of the expedition. As I have no means or time to keep copies of my letters, any repetitions must be laid to that cause.
     I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Captain of Engineers.

    Brigadier General JOSEPH G. TOTTEN,
    Chief Engineer of the Army, Washington, D. C.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 24, Part 1, Page 117.

Although the canal below Vicksburg described here is known as "Grant's Canal" it was actually begun in 1862 when the first Federal troops (3,000 under General Thomas Williams) came to the area.  The idea was to the point where Vicksburg's guns commanded the river and eventually change the course of the river there, leaving the Confederate citadel high and dry.  Grant lacked confidence in the idea but believed it would keep his troops (who labored alongside African-Americans impressed into service) healthy by means of activity.  The project stopped when a sudden rise in the river broke a dam and flooded the canal with sediment.  Attempts to bring in a dredge were defeated when Confederate artillery drove them away.  By March the attempt was abandoned as Grant pursued more aggressive siege operations.

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 29, 1863 (Thursday): The Mud March Ends

Mud March-Library of Congress

Fredericksburg, January 29, 1863.
    SIR: On the 19th instant, being satisfied that General Burnside was massing the larger portion of his army in the vicinity of Hartwood Church; that his artillery and pontoon trains were moving in the same direction and that General Slocum's command was advancing from the vicinity of Fairfax toward the Rappahannock, our positions at Banks' and United States Mine Fords were strengthened and re-enforced, these being the points apparently threatened.
    The movements of the enemy on the 20th confirmed the belief that an effort would be made to turn our left flank, and that Franklin's and Hooker's corps were the troops selected for that purpose. About dark that evening the rain, which had been threatening during the day, commenced to fall, and continued all night and the two following days. Whether the storm or other caused frustrated the designs of the enemy I do not know; but no attempt as yet has been made to cross the Rappahannock, and some of the enemy's have apparently resumed their former positions.
    A second storm commenced before day on the 27th, and continued till this morning. The ground is covered with at least 6 inches of snow, and the probabilities are that the roads will be impracticable for some time.
    I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,
   Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
   Secretary of War, Richmond.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 1, Page 755.

Lee's description of the storms, by today's standards, do not sound extreme.  But coupled with cold temperatures, gale force winds, and dirt roads which converted easily to muddy quagmires they represented a formidable check to Burnside's efforts.  In one instance a team of twelve horses and 150 men attempted, without success, to extract a single cannon from the mud.  In any case, Hooker was now in command and had no desire to repeat the experiment. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 28, 1863 (Wednesday): Accident in Petersburg

Old Petersburg RR Station-Canal Was Behind Station (Google Earth)

C. S. MILITARY PRISON, Richmond, January 28, 1863.
Captain W. S. WINDER, Assistant Adjutant-General.
     SIR: In reference to the accident which occurred yesterday morning when the prisoners were being sent off I wish to report the following: The prisoners were started from this prison at 4 o'clock a. m. and were marched by the nearest and usual route to the Petersburg depot. The train was waiting to receive them but had backed nearer to the foot bridge that spans the canal than is usually the case, in consequence of which the prisoners had to be halted before they were all over which left a portion on the bridge and on this side. Before those in front could be gotten on board the bridge gave way and about sixty or seventy were thrown into the canal. All were rescued except two whose names I inclose. * This is clearly proven from the fact that at City Point the roll was called and the prisoners counted in the presence of the Abolition officer in charge of the Yankee boats and only two were missing. The rolls sent down called for 794 and I have the Federal officer's receipt for 792.
     Proper persons were engaged all day yesterday in dragging for the bodies supposed to be drowned. Two were discovered as mentioned above. The coroner took charge of them. None of the guard who accompanied the prisoners were drowned.
     I am, sir, your obedient servant,

    T. P. TURNER,
    Captain, Commanding.

*Not found. 

Official Records, Series II., Vol. 5, Part 1, Page 823.

The foot bridge described was up river from the station.  The rail line ran adjacent to the canal with a foot bridge crossing.  This is the bridge described as having collapsed.  Prisoners released in Richmond were sent to Petersburg and then on to City Point where they returned north by ship.

January 27, 1863 (Tuesday): An Action In Louisiana

Civil War Waterfront Baton Rouge (

MISSISSIPPI RIVER, January 27, 1863.
    GENERAL: I have the honor to submit to you the following reports: Yesterday the Yankees landed a small foraging force from two transports on this side, and had collected about 5,000 bushels of corn at Mrs. Barrow's place, 1 mile above Baton Rouge. They succeed in moving only a small portion of it on board their boats by night, leaving the remainder, the amount above specified, on shore without a guard. The young men of the Signal Corps, W. C. Miller, D. M. Bedford, Edward B. Roberts, John Ducker, and J. B. Holden, assisted by two young men citizens of the vicinity, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Clark, conceived the project of destroying it, provided I gave them the authority to do so. I consented, upon the belief that I would be doing our Government a service by cutting off their supplies, especially in corn, as it would in crease their difficulties in maintaining a large force of cavalry either on this or the other side. Major Beard, commanding a battalion of infantry of General Sibley's command, also gave his consent.
   The young men above mentioned proceeded to the place about 10 o'clock and without any difficulty succeed in setting fire to the corn, completely destroying it in less than two hours.
    The Yankees came up after the sheds and cribs containing it were in full blaze and attempted to save them, but were too late; and after some ineffectual efforts retired to their boats.
     I hope I have done right in this matter; and, if so, I will destroy any other they may attempt to remove, if unattended by any serious difficulty.
    There is no doubt now that the river will be over the bank in a day or two, as the levee is entirely washed away at Captain Chinn's place and the water beginning to run over now. The crevasse will separate two of my signal posts and cut the cavalry off from us entirely. The greatest difficulty, however, will be in the inundation of the railroad, preventing any co-operation of General Sibley's forces with yours, besides the cutting off this section of country for foraging purpose from General Sibley. I believe 1,000 men, with the proper implements, could mend the levee in a day or two so as to save the country. I do not offer this as a suggestion, but only state it as a fact.
    I will of course do the best I can and remain as long as possible I will soon have the line complete to Rosedale. The rise in the river will be the only difficulty in the way.
    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Captain, Commanding Signal Corps

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 16, Part 1, Page 692.

We naturally focus on the major battles of the Civil War, but forget the many small battles which went on outside the view of generals and grand strategy.  Across the great expanse of America portions of the armies were in close contact, especially in occupied territory.  Supply lines stretched for long distances and required guarding by small garrisons, observation points were maintained, and cavalry units were dispersed across the countryside on scouting missions.  Between combat armies could not be maintained in a central location and were forced to spread out for food and sanitary reasons.  Here a band of seven men set out to destroy corn which was being used to supply Union troops.  It was only a small episode of the war, but the war itself was made up of innumerable such actions.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 26, 1863 (Monday): A Tepid Welcome

President Abraham Lincoln

Washington, D. C., January 26, 1863.
Major-General HOOKER:
    GENERAL: I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skillful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not an indispensable, quality. you are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm; but I think that during General Burnside's command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer. I have heard, in such a way as to believe it. of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a dictator. Of course, it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The Government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the army, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it. And now beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.
    Your, very truly,



Numbers 1.
Camp near Falmouth, Va., January 26, 1863.
    By direction of the President of the United States, the undersigned assumes command of the Army of the Potomac. he enters upon the discharge of the duties imposed by this trust with a just appreciation of their responsibility. Since the formation of this army he has been identified with its history. He has shared with you its glories and reverses with no other desire than that these relations might remain unchanged until its destiny should be accomplished. In the record of your achievements there is much to be proud of, and, with the blessing of God, we will contribute something to the renown of our arms and the success of our cause. To secure the ends, your commander will require the cheerful and zealous co-operation of every officer and soldier in this army.
     In equipment, intelligence, and valor the enemy is our inferior; let us never hesitate to give him battle wherever we can find him.
     The undersigned only gives expression to the feelings of this army when he conveys to our late commander, Major-General Burnside, the most cordial good wishes for his future.
    My staff will be announced as soon as organized.

    Major-General, Commanding Army of the Potomac.

Official Records Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 4&5.

Lincoln has appointed Hooker to command the Army of the Potomac, but it is hardly a warm welcome.  Hooker was a schemer and Lincoln here is concerned that his intrigues will come back to haunt him.  It is not an auspicous start.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 25, 1863 (Sunday): Change In Command

General Edwin Vose Sumner


Numbers 20.
Washington, January 25, 1863. 

I. The President of the United States had directed:
1. That Major General A. E. Burnside, at this own request, be relieved from command of the Army of the potomac.
2. That Major General E. V. Sumner, at his own request, be relieved from duty in the Army of the Potomac.
3. That Major General W. B. Franklin be relieved from duty in the Army of the Potomac.
4. That Major General J. Hooker be assigned to the command of the Army of the Potomac.
II. The officers relieved as above will report in person to the Adjutant-General of the Army.
    By order of the Secretary of War:

    Assistant Adjutant-General.

January 25, 1863.
Major General JOSEPH HOOKER,
Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: The President directs me to say that he wishes an interview with you at the Executive mansion as early as possible.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    H. W. HALLECK,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 3.

Lincoln decided to change commanders after Burnside made his extraordinary request to sack several of his top generals for going behind his back to the administration.  Burnside had not wanted the job to begin with and acquiesced in his "resignation" without regret.  Sumner resigned due to his disillusionment with the quarreling in the Army of the Potomac, and would die of a heart attack in New York in March on his way to a new command in Missouri.  Franklin was fired, in no small part due to the efforts of Republicans on the Committee on the Conduct of the War.  He would play a small part in the Red River Campaign in 1864 (where he was wounded), be captured (and escape the next day) by Jubal Early's men during the Monocacy Campaign,  and finish the war "awaiting orders".  The choice of Hooker was perhaps the only play left on the board.  He was a schemer, played the political game well, but was also a competent general (although the record of the Chancellorsville Campaign would challenge that assumption).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 24, 1863 (Saturday): Violence in Alabama

General Grenville Dodge

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF CORINTH, Corinth, Miss., January 24, 1863. Captain R. M. SAWYER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Memphis:
    CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit a statement of a few of the outrages committed upon citizens of Alabama by the Confederate troops. While all their leaders, from the President down, are boasting of their carrying on this war in accordance with the laws that govern nations in such cases, and are charging upon our troops all kinds of depredations and outrages, I think a few simple facts must put them to the blush, and make those parties and our press and people who are seconding the efforts of Davis to cast stigma upon us ashamed of the work they are doing. I will merely state what I know to be true. Abe Canade and Mr. Mitchell were hung two weeks ago for being Union men. They lived on the Hackelborough Settlement, Marion County, Alabama. Mr. Hallwork and daughter, of same county, were both shot for the same cause; the latter instantly killed. The former is yet alive, but will probably die. Peter Lewis and three of his neighbors were hunted down by one hundred bloodhounds and captured. The houses of Messrs. Palmer, Welsly, Williams, the three Wright-mens, and some thirty others were burned over their heads, the women and children turned out of doors, and the community notified that if they allowed them to go into other houses, or fed or harbored them in any manner, that they would be served the same. Mr. Peterson, living at the head of Bull Mountain, was shot, &c. I am now feeding some one hundred of these families, who, with their women and children, some gray-haired old men, and even cripples on crutches, were driven out and made their way here, through the woods and by-ways, without food or shelter-all done for the simple reason they were Union men, or that they had brothers or relations in our army. The statements of these people are almost beyond belief, did we not have the evidence before us. I am informed by them that there are hundreds of loyal men and women in the woods of Alabama, waiting for an opportunity to escape.
    I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

   G. M. DODGE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 23, Part 2 Page 11.

While Alabama may be thought of as strongly pro-Confederate, there were portions of the northwest portion of the state which were divided.  Marion County was rural and there were few plantations and little slavery.  Many small farmers wished not to be involved in the war and were referred to locally as "Tories" or "hold-outs."  There were a number who joined the Union Army when it was in the area, and others who joined in on raids against pro-Confederate communities.  Oddly, the Stars and Stripes flew above the county court house for much of the war until a local judge who lost a son in the Confederate Army in Virginia raised the Stars and Bars.  Neither flag was bothered and the community of Pikeville was considered to be a sort of neutral ground.  There were attacks from both sides which involved civilians and the ones described here against Union sympathizers were particularly brutal.  After the war many Union sympathizers left for Texas.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 23, 1863 (Friday): Burnside to the President

General Joseph Hooker

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, January 23, 1863-8.50 p.m.
President of the United States:
    I have prepared some very important orders, and I want to see you before issuing them. Can I see you alone if I am at the White House after midnight? I must be back by 8 o'clock to-morrow morning.

    Major-General, Commanding.

I. General Joseph Hooker, major-general of volunteers and brigadier-general U. S. Army, having been guilty of unjust and unnecessary criticisms of the actions of his superior officers, and of the authorities, and having, by the general tone of his conversation, endeavored to create distrust in the minds of officers who have associated with him, and having, by omissions and otherwise, made reports and statements which were calculated to create incorrect impressions, and for habitually speaking in disparaging terms of other officers, is hereby dismissed the service of the United States as a man unfit to hold an important commission during a crisis like the present, when so much patience, charity, confidence, consideration, and patriotism are due from every soldier, in the field. This order is issued subject to the approval of the President of the United States.
II. Brigadier General W. T. H. Brooks, commanding First Division, Sixth Army Corps, for complaining of the policy of the Government, and for using language tending to demoralize his command, is, subject to the approval of the President, dismissed from the military service of the United States.
III. Brigadier General John Newton, commanding Third Division, Sixth Army Corps, and Brigadier General John Cochrane, commanding First Brigade, Third Division, Sixth Army Corps, for going to the President of the United States with criticisms upon the plans of their commanding officer, are, subject to the approval of the President, dismissed from the military service of the United States.
IV. It being evident that the following named officers can be of no further service to this army, they are hereby relieved from duty, and will report, in person, without delay, to the Adjutant-General, U. S. Army: Major General W. B. Franklin, commanding left grand division; Major General W. F. Smith, commanding Sixth Corps; Brigadier General Samuel D. Sturgis, commanding Second Division, Ninth Corps; Brigadier General Edward Ferrero, commanding Second Brigade, Second Division, Ninth Army Corps; Brigadier General John Cochrane, commanding First Brigade, Third Division, Sixth Corps; Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Taylor, assistant adjutant-general, right grand division.
    By command of Major General A. E. Burnside:

    Assistant Adjutant-General.
*This order was not approved by the President, and was, therefore, never issued. It appeared in the public prints, is referred to in the correspondence between Halleck and Franklin, post, and in Burnside's testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 1, Page 998-999.

For those interested in keeping score, Burnside asked for the dismissal of one Major-General (Hooker) and three Brigadier-Generals (Brooks, Newton, Cochrane), along with the removal from the Army of the Potomac of two Major-Generals (Franklin, Smith), two Brigadier-Generals (Sturgis, Ferrero) and one Lieutenant Colonel (Taylor).  It is hard to imagine Burnside believed these actions would be approved by the President, but he surely intended to put on record his understanding of the actions and character of the individuals involved. His opinion of these men, for the most part, was borne out by their later war records.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 22, 1863 (Thursday): Supplying the Army

View of James River & Kanawha Canal at Lexington Virginia (Library of Congress)

January 22, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
    SIR: With the view of increasing the supply of wheat in Richmond, I would suggest, if it has not already been done, that all the grain in the counties adjacent to the James River and Kanawha Canal be purchased, and conveyed by means of the canal to Richmond. I have been told that there is a large quantity of wheat in the counties of Rockbridge, Botetourt, Bedford, &c., which the owners are withholding from market, and which might be secured for the use of the army by active and energetic agents.
     I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 1, Page 1110.

The James River and Kanawha Canal grew out of an idea of young George Washington as he explored the western frontier.  His aim was for a canal which would go all the way to the Ohio River and unite the country all the way to what was then its farthest reaches.  During the Civil War the canal was a supply artery which reached as far as Buchanon in western Virginia.  When Stonewall Jackson's body was returned to Lexington for burial it travelled in part by the canal.  Lee's letter is valuable in showing the ever present, but often overlooked, importance of grain to the army.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 21, 1863 (Wednesday): The Deluge

Winter Campaigning

JANUARY 21, [1863]-7.40 [a.m.]
    It is not possible to get these boats into the river so that we can make a fight to-day, and the enemy will have all night to concentrate against us. There are yet no boats ready to put in the water, and they are all along the road for 2 miles. The artillery is none of it in position, and not all here, the road blocked by pontoons. I think the state of the weather should be reported at once.

     W. F. S. [WM. F. SMITH,]

HEADQUARTERS CENTER GRAND DIVISION, Sweatman House, Va., January 21, 1863-11 a.m.
Brigadier General W. W. AVERELL,
Commanding Cavalry Brigade:
    I am directed by the major-general commanding to request that you will not leave your camp until further orders; and, in case you should have left, to request that you will return to it immediately, and there await further orders. The general would advise you to re-establish your camps, owing to the precarious of the weather.
     Very respectfully, &c.,

    Major and Aide-de-Camp.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 1, Page 991.

Krick's "Civil War Weather In Virginia" records that following two days of intermittent snow and low's around sunrise in the 20's there was an inch and a quarter of rain during the night and high wind.  The rain continued on the 21st, rendering the roads by which Burnside's troops were attempting to pass quagmires.  The "mud march" was off to an inauspicious start, especially as the Confederates were becoming increasingly aware of the activity on the other side of the river.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 20, 1863 (Tuesday): Burnsides Advances

Area of Burnside's Planned Flanking Movement (Google Earth)

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, January 20, 1863-11.45 p.m.
Major General E. V. SUMNER,
Commanding Right Grand Division:
    GENERAL: Inclosed please find instructions given to the generals commanding the other two grand divisions, all of which explain themselves. The Ninth Army Corps will not be required to move at 4 o'clock to-morrow morning, as designated by my previous orders, but will be in readiness to move as soon as orders are received. I will see you at your headquarters at a very early hour to-morrow morning. When the Ninth Corps moves, it should follow the road in rear of Couch's corps. Mr. Cushing, of your staff, is conversant with the roads. The probable time which it will be required to start will be 6.30 o'clock. I have placed all the cavalry at these headquarters at the disposal of General Pleasonton, and have instructed him to keep his command in hand, ready to start at a moment's notice, subject to your orders or my own.
     I have the honor to be, very respectfully, yours,

     A. E. BURNSIDE,
     Major-General, Commanding.

[Sub-inclosure No. 1.]

Commanding Left Grand Division:
    GENERAL: Your place of crossing will be at a point just below Banks' Ford, over the pontoon bridges to be constructed by General Woodbury. The commanding general directs that you will please have one division of your command ready to accompany an aide-de-camp of General Woodbury, who will report to you at 11 a.m. to-day, and will conduct it to a place of bivouac for the night. This division will assist in getting the pontoons down to the river, under the direction of an engineer officer, at an early hour to-morrow, and then will be thrown across the river in pontoons, with a view to holding the opposite bank while the two bridges are being built. The remainder of your command will please move in such manner as to have the head of your column at the place of crossing at 7.30 o'clock to-morrow morning, and have them so concentrated as to have a continuous column crossing the bridge. If we succeed in crossing, you will please move your command with a view to seizing the heights immediately above the crossing and holding the Fall Hill road, which leads from Fredericksburg, in front of Dr. Taylor's house, to the Plank road. If this work should be accomplished, you will, immediately after connecting with General Hooker on your right, throw your right flank forward to a point on the other side of the Plank road, designated on the map as Guest's, accomplishing which it is presumed the heights in front of the town will be evacuated by the enemy. General Hooker will be ordered to keep your right well supported, and General Sumner will be ordered to follow you immediately over the bridges. The plan spoken of last night is so far modified as to do away with the probability of the throwing of a bridge below your crossing for General Sumner's command, and he will follow you in reserve. I state this because engineers think that a bridge cannot be thrown at that place. An attempt will be made, and it is possible that Taylor's Heights may be taken by Sumner's infantry. You may be sure that everything will be done to accomplish it that can be. Many of the details of this plan were talked over last night, but if there are any other points on which you desire information, he will be glad to give it you. He takes it for granted your topographical engineers have been informed by Mr. Brown of the route to be pursued by your columns. He will be in communication with you during the day, and will endeavor to give you such orders as the emergencies may require.
    I need not impress upon you the importance of a most vigorous attack. General Gregg will maintain his line of pickets below, and will hold himself in readiness in rear of your column, at such place as you may designate, to move at short notice in such direction as he may be required. The general commanding is of the opinion that a point between your headquarters and his, in a sheltered position, will be a proper place for him, as General Gregg can be reached by telegraph from headquarters. If such is the disposition, please instruct him to have an orderly in waiting at the telegraph office.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    JNO. G. PARKE,
    Chief of Staff.

[Sub-inclosure No. 2.]

Major-General HOOKER,
Commanding Center Grand Division:
    GENERAL: Your place of crossing will be at a point just above Banks' Ford instead of United States Ford. The commanding general directs you will please have one division of your command ready to accompany an aide-de-camp of General Woodbury, who will report to you at 11 a.m. to-day, and will conduct it to a place of bivouac for the night. This division will assist in getting the pontoons down to the river, under the direction of the engineer officer, and will then be thrown across the river in pontoons, with a view to holding the opposite bank while the bridges are being built. The remainder of your command you will please move in such manner as to have the head of your column at the place of crossing at 7.30 a.m. on the 21st. General Franklin crosses at a point a mile below you. The aide of General Woodbury will designate to you on the map your place of crossing. Definite written instructions will be given you to-morrow as to your movements when across the river.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    JNO. G. PARKE,
    Chief of Staff.

[Sub-inclosure No. 3.]

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, January 20, 1863-10.45 p.m.
Major-General HOOKER,
Commanding Center Grand Division:
    GENERAL: In addition to the orders already give you, the following will be for your guidance, if you succeed in crossing your command at the designated place: You will, if possible, seize the heights upon which Decker's house is situated, occupying at the same time the wooded ground above it. The bridge over Mott Run, near the foot of Decker's Hill, should be secured as early as possible, and held either under the guns of the battery or by an infantry force. You will readily see the importance of securing this bridge, as it will be the only rapid means of communication between yourself and General Franklin. These two points having been occupied, you will extend your command as much to the right and front as possible, keeping your advanced line well supported. The Plank road is some 2 1/2 miles from Decker's house, and it is very desirable to secure a position on that road at or in advance of Salem Church, which is about three-quarters of a mile from the intersection of the Fall Hill road with the Plank road. The Fall Hill road is the one that runs up the river from Fredericksburg until it reaches a point opposite Falmouth, when it bears to the left, and, passing Dr. Taylor's house, intersects the Plank road at Morrison's. General Franklin is ordered, after crossing, to secure the heights above his crossing, and afterward Taylor's Heights, and, in case he is successful, to extend his right to the neighborhood of Guest's house. You will please hold yourself in readiness to support his right, and, in case the enemy should vacate the heights in his front, it may be advisable to throw your force down the old Mine road to the Telegraph road. This road is wrongly laid down on the map; it is nearer Fredericksburg than the map represents. It may be well to state that there is an infantry and cavalry force in the vicinity of the United States Ford that needs watching. I have attached to General Averell another regiment, 1,000 strong, and have relieved a portion of his pickets. He is subject to your order, having simply received orders from me to remain at Potomac Creek, ready to move at a moment's notice, when ordered by you or myself. It having been reported by Captain Comstock that the crossing below General Franklin's, ordered for General Sumner's command, is impracticable, I have ordered General Sumner to hold his two corps in readiness to follow you and General Franklin. I shall, however, attempt to throw a bridge at that place for footmen, at least.
These instructions may be materially modified by the events of tomorrow, during which day I hope to be in frequent personal communication with you. I need not say to you that this attack upon the enemy should be a vigorous one. My headquarters will be at Wroton's house until 8 a.m. An aide will be sent to communicate with you. I will send you a guide before you commence your movement across the river tomorrow morning.
     I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 1, Pages 78-80.  

At the battle of Fredericksburg Burnside had planned to seize a point on the Confederate right near Hamilton's Crossing in order to force away the strongly posted forces on Marye's HeightsHis new plan was to cross at Banks Ford and Motts Run and move against the Confederate left by way of the Plank Road, securing Taylor Hill (on the heights dominating the town from the west) while working their way back toward town.

January 19, 1863 (Monday): Lee Returns

Banks Ford & Scott's Dam (

Richmond, Va.:
    Mr. PRESIDENT: I go down this morning to examine the preparations which the enemy seem to be making on the banks of the Rappahannock. I understand that a redoubt has been built on the hill overlooking the river, where their causeway has been constructed. Since my arrival, I have learned nothing more of the designs of the enemy than what had been previously received, except the inclosed notes from two of our scouts, on their right and left flank. Everything combined seems to indicate a movement, and I believe that their army, instead of being diminished by detachments to North Carolina, has been re-enforced since the battle of the 13th December. I therefore have suspended the march of the brigades ordered to North Carolina, until I can ascertained something more difficulty. If, in your opinion, the necessity there is more urgent than here, I will dispatch them immediately; they are ready for the march. I have directed the chief quartermaster of this army to take 50 wagons belonging to its transportation, and apply them exclusively to convey the wheat that may be purchased by the agents of the
Commissary Department, at Richmond, in the counties lying between the Rappahannock and Pamunkey, to the Central Railroad at Hanover Court-House. I think this a more convenient point than any on the Fredericksburg Railroad, and one from which transportation to Richmond can be more readily obtained.
I would suggest that the Quartermaster-General, in Richmond, collect all the wagons that can be spared from the posts at Gordonsville, Charlottesville, Staunton, Lynchburg, Richmond,&c., which may probably amount to 50, and apply them to the transportation of the wheat in Greene, Madison, and Culpeper Counties,&c., to the railroad, for conveyance to Richmond. Our necessities make it imperative that every exertion be made to supply the army with bread. As the Commissary Department purposes to issue sugar to the army in lieu of part of its meat ration, it has occurred to me that if its supply will warrant it, that by offering to exchange sugar for salt meat in the counties where grain is being collected, many persons might be tempted to part with bacon now retained for their own use. A few thousand pounds even, collected in this way, would be of assistance to the army.
    I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 1, Page 1097.

Lee had just returned from an inspection trip to North Carolina was actively seeking to determine Burnside's intentions.  The plan originally was to detach four brigades to North Carolina, believing the Union forces aim was to move up from there to threaten the rail lines leading to Petersburg.  Neither side had confidence they understood what the other was up to.  The Confederate authorities were concerned, very concerned, about another approach to Richmond from the James and points south.  The Union planners were not convinced the Army of the Potomac was up to another battle so soon, but also believed a significant portion of Longstreet's corp was on its way to Tennessee.  But Lee here determines something is afoot on the Rappahanock line based on reports from scouts.  He was correct in this assumption, as Burnside would the next day launch what history would record as "the Mud March", a turning attempted turning movement of Lee's left by way of Banks Ford.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 18, 1863 (Sunday): Longstreet to Jackson

General James Longstreet

Lieutenant General THOMAS J. JACKSON,
Commanding Second Corps:
    Your note of yesterday was received last night.* I did not express my idea clearly to you. The problem that you speak of is the one that I was trying to solve. It occurred to me that we might protect our men along your line of rifle trenches from the flank fire of the batteries that the enemy might place on your right, by good traverses for that purpose, with a good traverse on the right flank of each pit. I think the men might be perfectly secure from any fire from that direction, particularly as it seems (from my recollection of the field) that the enemy could not use the battery against our right flank after he began to cross his troops; and as our sharpshooters would not be wanted in action until he began to cross his troops, they could keep the shelter close under the traverses. I did not observe the field with this view when I was on it, and may be mistaken in my idea the enemy where he attempts to cross would also be under the shells of his battery that he might place on the right flank of your line of rifle trenches.
   General Chilton has just sent me a note in reference to the movement of the brigades. Up to the time the general started for Richmond, nothing satisfactory was received from North Carolina. Since he left I have not heard a word, except such as I pick up from the newspapers.
    I am almost convinced that the enemy will not make another efforts against our line before spring. The relative condition of the two armies would not warrant any such effort on his part. Our line is stronger now than it was when he advanced before. Even with the two brigades that I have sent off and your two gone, we shall be much stronger, in position, than we were before. He cannot be as strong in numbers, and he must be exceedingly weak in morale. I shall send a brigade to the United States Ford to-morrow. With that, strengthened by earthworks, I think that we will be secure against attack. Entertaining these views, I feel that I should have the brigades put in march to meet any demand that may for their services. I desire, therefore, that you put them in march early to-morrow morning for Hanover Junction, where they will take railroad transportation. In drawing them off, please endeavor to have it done in such a way as to avoid discovery, and, if practicable, extend your other troops so as to cover the same ground that you now do. If any other important demonstration should be made, the operation of this order will be postponed.
    I will write the general now, and tell him of the orders, and ask him to telegraph me if the services of the troops are not in demand immediately.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

*Not found.

Official Records, Series I., Vol 21, Part 1, Pages 1095-1096.

Longstreet was filling in while General Lee was in North Carolina evaluating the situation there at the request of the President and North Carolina authorities.  Here he explains to Jackson a point of field engineering to Stonewall Jackson, apparently after at first having failed to communicate his point.  It is interesting to think what might have happened had Burnside's "mud march" three days hence had brought on a battle while Lee was away.  Obviously the Confederate command had no idea Burnside would attempt to take the offensive given the horrible weather conditions in the region.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 17, 1863 (Saturday): Mutiny in Tennessee

Secretary of War STanton

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington City, D. C., January 17, 1863.
Brigadier-General MITCHELL, Nashville:
    Information has reached this Department that the members of the Anderson Cavalry who are under arrest in Nashville are treated in a cruel and improper manner, and that you have uttered threats against them, and expressed a desire and determination to have some of them shot. You will report immediately the names of the persons imprisoned, and the manner of their treatment, and are directed to treat them in a humane manner, cause them to be imprisoned in a proper place, and properly supplied and cared for.

    Secretary of War.

HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES, Nashville, Tenn., January 17, 1863. (Sent January 20.)
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
    I am in receipt of your dispatch of this date, informing me of my inhumanity toward the Anderson Cavalry. In reply, I have only to say they have been treated as all other soldiers are treated placed in confinement for high crimes. A portion of them are confined in city work-house; the other portion in the county jail yard, with proper covering, and have received a soldier's fare. I have said to them that mutiny in the face of an enemy was punishable by death, and unless they reconsidered their action some of them would be made examples of. I have further said to them and their friends that their course was cowardly in the extreme, a disgrace to themselves and their State. I have refused to allow them to board at first-class hotels, and have also refused admittance of persons from the city of Philadelphia, who have been publicly encouraging them in their course, and promising to sustain them at home and at the capital. One of the persons so refused avowed to me that half a million dollars should be spent before they should yield the position they had taken. I have no desire to persecute any man. The only object I had in the premises was to enforce proper discipline. If these men are sustained in their present course, we might just as well abandon the cause for which we are fighting. Other men will take advantage of any clemency shown to them. My action has been governed whole by instructions from my department commander, and by my judgment of what was necessary to stop an open, dangerous, and shameful mutiny. A court-martial assembled to-day for the trial of these men, by order of Major-General Rosecrans. To the gallant dead, and those members of the regiment who did not take occasion to refuse to obey orders when obedience would take them face to face with the enemy, I pay all due honor and consideration, and I bear cheerful witness to the brave conduct of those who went to the front and met the enemy. I state, in addition, that the Government will be the loser of not less than $25,000 or $30,000 by the neglect of the mutineers properly to care for the horses and other Government property.
     January 20, 1863.-I had written the foregoing in reply to your first dispatch, received on 17th instant, and waited your directions as to sending it by telegraph. In answer to your inquiry in your second dispatch, I have the honor to say that the number of prisoners confined is 350-96 in the jail-yard, 254 in the work-house. The court-martial for their trial is in session (January 20, 1863). The other inquiries, I think, are all answered in the first part of this dispatch.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 20, Part 2, Pages 373-374.

The Anderson Cavalry of Philadelphia were very much enamored of themselves.  They were raised, according to their accounts, to serve as a body guard to General Don Carlos Buell and doing other special service.  Buell having been removed from his command they became a body guard without portfolio and latched onto the idea of serving in that capacity to General Rosecrans, who declined their offer.  They did not have sufficient officers but did have barracks lawyers in abundance and refused orders to move to the front until their grievances were addressed.  A few hundred men answered the call to come to the battle of Stones River, but the rest who did not were arrested.  They used political connections to bring Secretary of War Stanton into the case in their behalf.  The troop was mustered out of service in March of 1863.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 16, 1863 (Friday): Gall and Wormwood

Approaches to Fort Hindman (Library of Congress)

Post Arkansas, January 16, 1863
President of the United States:
    SIR: Herewith I have taken the liberty to transmit a copy of a communication to General Grant.
    I believe my success here is gall and wormwood to the clique of West Pointers who have been persecuting me for months. How can you expect success when men controlling the military destinies of the country are more chagrined at the success of your volunteer officers than the very enemy beaten by the latter in battle? Something must be done to take the hand of oppression of citizen soldiers whose zeal for their country has prompted them to take up arms, or all will be lost .
    Do not let me be clandestinely destroyed, or, what is worse, dishonored, without a hearing. The very moment you think I am an impediment to the public service, upon the slightest intimation of it my resignation will be forwarded. Until then you may count upon my best endeavors, at whatever peril, to sustain the sacred cause for which we are contending.
    In addition to the reasons set forth in the copy of the dispatch inclosed for the Arkansas River expedition I might assign the order of the Secretary of War, indorsed by you, to open the Mississippi River.
    The Mississippi River being the only channel of communication, and that being infested with guerrillas, how can General Grant, at a distance of 400 miles intelligently command the army with me? He cannot do it. It should be made an independent command, as both you and the Secretary of War, as I believe, originally intended.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Post Arkansas, January 16, 1863.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
Commanding Department of the Tennessee:
    GENERAL: Your dispatch of the 16th [13th] instant came to hand at 6 o'clock p. m. this day, and I hasten at the same moment to answer it.
    I take the responsibility of the expedition against Arkansas Post, and had anticipated your approval of the complete and signal success which crowned it rather than your condemnation.
In saying that I could not have effected the reduction of Vicksburg with the limited force under my command, after its repulse near that place under General Sherman, I only repeat what was contained in a previous dispatch to you. From the moment I fell back from Oxford, and the purpose of a front attack upon the enemy's works near Vicksburg was thus deprived of co-operation, the Mississippi River Expedition was doomed eventuate in a failure.
    I had heard nothing of General Banks when I left Milliken's Bend on the 4th instant, and if, as you say, Port Hudson has been made "very strong," it will be some time before he will be in a situation to receive the co-operation of the Mississippi River Expedition, unless he should prove more successful than the latter.
    Had I remained idle and inactive at Milliken's Bend with the army under my command until now I should have felt myself guilty of a great crime. Rather had I accept the consequences of the imputed guilt of using it profitably and successful upon my own responsibility.
    The officer who, in the present strait of the country will not assume a proper responsibility to save, it is unworthy of public trust.
    Having successfully accomplished the object of this expedition I will return to Milliken's Bend, according to my intention communicated to you in a previous dispatch, unless otherwise order by you.
    Respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 17, Part 2, Page 567.

McClernand had been authorized by Lincoln and Halleck to raise forces for his expedition  to take Vicksburg.  On arrival he was at cross purposes with Sherman and Grant.  Grant was determined to move on Vicksburg and would have preferred McClernand's forces had been commanded by Sherman.  On his own initiative McClernand moved on Fort Hindman (Arkanas Post) and took it, capturing nearly 5,000 Confederates.  As seen by this correspondence, this success was not looked upon favorably by Grant.  Obviously, McClernand, a pre-war attorney with Illinois political connections, did not look with favor on Grant or West Pointers in general.  As a side not, the site of Fort Hindman is now underwater, excluding some earthworks which extended from the salient angle to the northwest of the fort.  The fort was on a bluff and the Arkansas River's changing course gradually eroded it before finally taking the site entirely.

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 15, 1863 (Thursday): Trouble at Lewisburg

General Sam Jones

Officer Commanding U. S. Forces in the Valley of the Kanawha:
    SIR: It has been represented to me that on the night of the 9th instant a body of cavalry, constituting a part of your command, came within a mile or less of the town of Lewisburg, [W.] Va. They entered the house of Mr. Austin Handley, which was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Handley and their three or four small children. The first warning the enemy gave of their wicked and barbarous purpose was the application of the torch to the bed-clothes and other combustible articles in the different rooms of the house. Mr. and Mrs. Handley and their young children were turned out of doors at a late hour of the night, barefooted and in their night-clothes. The weather was cold, and the ground covered with snow. The dwelling-house, with all the furniture, private papers and money, the stables and horses, the barns and forage, were all destroyed in the conflagration. They also set fire to the residence of Mr. Feamster, and burned his stables, six horses, and a quantity of forage. They were driven off by my troops stationed at Lewisburg, and thus prevented from committing other depredations, which they had declared their purpose of doing.
When the enemy was asked by Mr. Handley for an explanation of their conduct, their only reply was that "they were ordered to do it." These facts are communicated to me by undoubted authority. I cannot believe that you have ordered any one under your command to commit such wanton acts of barbarity, in violation alike of the usages of civilized warfare and the ordinary dictates of humanity. I communicate this information to you in order that you may institute such investigation as you may think proper, and visit upon the offenders the punishment they deserve. If, however, I am mistaken, and these acts were committed by your authority, I have to ask that you will so inform me, that I may know whether the existing war is to be carried on in this section of country in accordance with, or in disregard of, the usages of civilized warfare.
     I respectfully ask an early answer to this communication.
     Very respectfully,&c.,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 1, Pages 1093-1094.

General Scammon replied to this letter that the outrages were committed without order and the matter would be properly inquired into.  The burnings were authorized by Colonel Powell of the 2nd West Virginia on what he termed a military necessity.  The houses mentioned sat in a critical road junction on a hill and could observe troops approaching.  Having said that, the actions of the troops were clearly outside the rules of war and if the description of the events is to be believed also particularly cruel in execution.  Given the involvement of the 2nd West Virginia it is likely there was also an element of hostility toward persons who remained loyal to the south as opposed to joining in willingly with the new state of West Virginia.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 14, 1863 (Wednesday): Fort Hindman Falls

Confederate General T. J. Churchill, Commanding at Arkansas Post

Saint Charles, White River, January 14, 1863.
GENERAL: General McClernand's attack and capture of Post Arkansas, with about 6,000 prisoners, 13 guns, and all their stores and munitions of war, has been heretofore reported to you. I arrived at this placed last night, and found the place evacuated, they having left day before yesterday evening, carrying away, by a little steamer, two 8-inch siege guns, and six light pieces. Their train and infantry left by land at the same time. I have started the cavalry in pursuit of their train, but I think they have burned one bridge, which will prevent its capture. I have left one regiment of infantry, one battery of six guns, two companies of cavalry, and the iron-clad gunboat Cincinnati here, as a temporary garrison. I proceed at once, with the iron-clad gunboat Saint Louis and the remainder of the command, to Devall's Bluff, where I hope to overtake their little steamer with their artillery aboard, before they can
carry it off by railroad from Devall's Bluff to Little Rock. No accident has occurred, and all is going well. I expect to meet 1,500 of my cavalry at Clarendon. I shall try and communicate with our forces at Batesville, if they are there.
     I am, general, respectfully, &c.,

    W. A. GORMAN,
    Brigadier-General, Commanding.

    Major General SAMUEL R. CURTIS,
    Commanding Department of the Missouri.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 22, Part 1, Page 216.

Major General McClernand had gained approval in October for an operation against Vicksburg.  Neither Halleck nor Grant were consulted by the President.  Initially his force was diverted to Sherman in the unsuccessful Chickasaw Bluffs operation.  McClernand, ranking Sherman, took over the 20,000 men in the new command and decided to capture the 4,500 man Confederate detachment at Arkansas Post (Fort Hindman).  On January 10th, Union forces enveloped the fort from the land side while naval forces moved into range to batter the guns in the fort.  On the morning of the 11th a coordinated attacked was launched, and by 3 P.M. the fort had surrendered.  The importance of the fort was it gave the Confederates a a place from which to send gunboats into the Mississippi. General T. J. Churchill, Confederate commander at Fort Hindman, was governor of Arkansas after the war and made official today's pronunciation of "Arkansas". 


Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 13, 1863 (Tuesday): Lee to Davis

Globe Tavern on the Weldom Railroad

HEADQUARTERS, Camp near Fredericksburg, January 13, 1863.
President of the Confederate States, Richmond, Va.:
    MR. PRESIDENT: I have had the honor to receive your dispatch of yesterday.
    For several days past there have been general indications of some movement by the army of Burnside, but nothing sufficiently definite to designated true. Rumors are abundant, but whether it is intended to retire, advance, or transfer it elsewhere I cannot ascertain. I am pretty sure that the whole army is between Rappahannock and the Potomac. No considerable portion ought to have been able to leave without my knowing it. Re-enforcements of infantry and artillery have reached it from Washington. Wharves are still being constructed at Potomac Creek. The army has recently been more concentrated, its land communication with Alexandria more strongly guarded, and its right flank more extended toward the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Cattle are being driven down on the Maryland side and crossed over on steamers to Aquia. No winter quarters are being erected, but the men are covering themselves, constructing chimneys to tents,&c.
    There are a great many vessels of all sorts in the Potomac, but not more than enough to supply so large a force. It is said by their army than their transports were sent off with General Banks, and that there are not enough now to move it.
     Citizens in Stafford and King George Counties are not allowed to leave their dwellings. Persons even going to mill are guarded.
    You may have remarked that recent Northern papers are silent as to its movements. It is said this is by order. I have hope I from day to day to have been able to discover what is contemplated, and to be guided in my movements accordingly. I think by spring, if not before, they will move upon James River. In the mean time they will endeavor to damage our railroads,&c., in North Carolina, and get possession of Wilmington and Charleston.
     Should General Burnside retire from his present position, I have intended to throw part of this army into North Carolina, and with another endeavor to clear the Valley of the Shenandoah. I did not wish to move until the designs of the enemy were developed. I have hoped that General Smith, with the troops at his disposal, could keep the enemy in North Carolina in check in the mean time. I still hope so. Since you seem to think my presence there would be of service, I will endeavor to go on as soon as I can.
    All the troops in that State should be concentrated as near as possible to the threatened points. Charleston will not be attacked until Wilmington is captured. General Beauregard can, therefore, fight them at both points. As far as I have been able to judge, I have apprehended the movements in North Carolina were intended more as a feint to withdraw troops from this point, when General Burnside could move at once upon Richmond. Telegraph me your wishes.
      With great respect, your obedient servant,

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 1, Page 1092.

The exchanges of views between Lee and Davis were in contrast to those between Lincoln and his various commanders.  Lee's tact and diplomacy kept Davis from taking more direct control of matters in the field, as the President felt his was kept informed and his views given due consideration.  There was so much turnover in the Union command structure early in the war, and so much of a division of opinion within the two political parties as to war aims and personalities, that Lincoln did not have the luxury of a strong personal relationship with his commanders.  What is also clear in this letter is how fixed on the James River threat Lee would be.  He foresaw the inevitable result of the fall of Petersburg and the rail network running from eastern North Carolina to Richmond through it.   

Friday, January 11, 2013

January 12, 1863 (Monday): A. P. Hill Requests A Court Martial

General A. P. Hill

January 12, 1863.
Major General A. P. HILL,
Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: Your letter of the 8th instant is received. At the time the charges preferred by General Jackson were first brought to my attention, in September last, I was unable to give them a careful examination, and have no recollection of having made any indorsement indicating an opinion as to their correctness, as intimated in your letter of the 30th September.
    I do not think that in every case where an officer is arrested there is a necessity for a trial by a court-martial, and I consider yours one in which such a proceeding is unnecessary.
    A commanding officer has the right to make an arrest, and to release the office arrested without prosecuting the matter further, when, in his judgment, the exigencies of the service require such a course. An arrest is often resorted to in order to give point and prominence to an expression of disapprobation, even when, in the opinion of the officer making it, the act is not one requiring a judicial investigation.
     The exercise of this power may sometimes appear harsh, and in some cases may actually be so. But the power itself is one too important and essential to the maintenance of discipline to be denied because it may be abused. In the present instance, General Jackson exerted this authority for what he thought at the time good and sufficient reasons. He exercises a discretion which you or any other commanding officer must use, and which, I have said above, must be committed to superior officers for the good of the service.
    In deciding whether the supposed offense is one which the rights of the person arrested of the good of the service requires to be brought before a court-martial, other considerations than those which induce the arrest must be taken into account.
     Upon examining the charges in question, I am of the opinion that in the interests of the service do not require that they should be tried, and have, therefore, returned them to General Jackson with an indorsement to that effect. I hope you will concur with me that their further prosecution is unnecessary, so far as you are consented, and will be of no advantage to the service.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 19, Part 2, Page 732.

A. P. Hill had requested a transfer to get away from James Longstreet.  Things did not improve for him with his new commanding officer, Stonewall Jackson.  They quarreled during the Cedar Mountain campaign over Jackson's belief Hill had ignored his orders for an early march.  They clashed again during the Antietam Campaign, with Jackson placing Hill under arrest.  Ironically, Hill came up late in the day from Harper's Ferry to save the Confederate army at Antietam.  After the battle Hill repeatedly sought a court martial to vindicate his reputation.  Lee, ever the diplomat, tried to avoid bringing the case before a military court.  Hill believed since Jackson's arrest of him had gained public notice that a trial was required which would bring equally negative attention to Jackson.  The case was never resolved, with Lee and Jackson having no desire to see it brought forward and Jackson ultimately dying from wounds after the battle of Chancellorsville.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

January 11, 1863 (Sunday): A Gift Appreciated

General Sterling Price

    I have received with much pride the donation of socks sent by you to my soldiers and to me. They will add much to our comfort and have already given us great pleasure by causing us to think cheerfully of our dear little girls in their far-off homes. They will remember your kindness to us when we shall have passed away, and I trust that it may be so repaid to you that you will ever bless the generosity which you have shown us. We will endeavor to repay you in part now by striving earnestly to protect your homes from the enemy and to drive him so far away that your fathers and brothers may return to you in peace and safety. Little girls of Port Gibson, you have the soldiers' prayers. Continue in your good actions that your youth may weave a chaplet of virtue to adorn your old age on earth and make you blessed in eternity.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 406.

Both armies derived aid and comfort from donations and well wishes from the civilian population.  Here Sterling Price thanks children in Port Gibson, Mississippi for knitting socks for his troops.  Price would be a major figure in the war in Missouri and led a major raid in 1864.  At war's end he refused to surrender and headed to Mexico where he led a community of ex-Confederates.  He returned to Missouri in 1866 but contracted typhoid fever and eventually died from intestinal ailments in 1867.  His flight to Mexico was the inspiration for the John Wayne, Rock Hudson movie "The Undefeated." 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 10, 1863 (Saturday): Milroy's Outrage

General Milroy

January 10, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Commander-in-Chief U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
     GENERAL: I have the honor to transmit to you copies of two papers recently served upon Mr. Job Parsons, a citizen of Tucker County, Va., by the military authorities of the United States in that region.* The originals of these papers are now in the possession of His Excellency the President of the Confederate States, who has directed me to communicate with you on the subject.
     I am unwilling to believe that such threats against unarmed and defenses citizens as are contained in the extract from what purports to be an order from Brigadier-General Milroy have received the sanction of any soldier, and have the honor to ask whether the extract from the order referred to is literally or substantially correct.
    Should it unfortunately prove to be true. I am instructed to ask whether your Government will tolerate the execution of order so barbarous and so revolting to every principle of justice and humanity. Should you not deem it proper to respond to these inquiries it will be reluctantly assumed after the expiration of ten days from the date of this communication that the order is that of General Milroy, and that its execution will not be restrained. In that event I am directed to inform you that this Government will be completed to protect its citizens by the immediate adoption of stern retaliatory measures.
      I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     R. E. LEE,

[First indorsement.]

JANUARY 15, 1863.
     Respectfully refereed to Major-General Schenck to ascertain and report if the inclosed papers are copies of genuine originals.
Brigadier-General Milroy had no authority to issue these orders, which are deemed in violation of the laws of war. If such orders were actually issued must be revoked.

    H. W. HALLECK,

    [Second indorsement.]

Baltimore, Md., January 16, 1863.
     Respectfully referred to Brigadier-General Kelley, who will obtain from General Milroy the information called for by the General-in-Chief .
     By command of Major-General Schneck:

    Assistant Adjutant-General.

   [Third indorsement.]

Harper's Ferry, January 21, 1863.
    Respectfully transmitted to Brigadier-General Milroy, who will report the information called for by the General-in-Chief.
     By order of Brigadier-General Kelley:

    T. MELVIN,
    Assistant Adjutant-General.

* See enclosures Nos. 1 and 2, Imboden to Davis, December 9, 1862, Vol II, this series, p. 944. 

Official Records, Series III., Vol. 3, Part 1, Page 11.

The Milroy incident related to a demand by the general that Southern sympathizers in the portion of West Virginia he occupied pay restitution to their Unionist neighbors for horses allegedly stolen from them.  In reality, the Unionists had sold their horses elsewhere and then went to the army claiming they had been stolen.  So they were paid for the same horses twice.  Milroy added a twist by issuing this order; "If they fail to pay at the end of the time you have named their houses will be burned and themselves shot and their property all seized, and be sure that you carry out this threat rigidly and show them that you are trifling or to be trifled with.  You will inform the inhabitants for ten or fifteen miles around your camp on all the roads approaching the town upon which the enemy may approach that they must dash in and give you notice and that upon failure of any one to do so their houses will be burned and the men shot."

Milroy would eventually occupy Winchester and inflict on its citizens his peculiar notions of justice.  While there his force was captured by Ewell during the opening stages of the Gettysburg campaign.  It is interesting to speculate the fate which would have awaited him had he himself been captured, as the Confederate government had taken a keen interest in his conduct.  In any event Halleck would have him arrested for losing his division and a court of inquiry acquited him.  But he was unable to find any but an administrative command for the remainder of the war as no general in the western theater would have him under their command.