Sunday, March 31, 2013

April 1, 1863 (Wednesday): Ship to Shore Fire at Grand Gulf

Fort Coburn at Grand Gulf (

Report of Brigadier General John S. Bowen, C. S. Army.

Grand Gulf, MISS., April 1, 1863.
   MAJOR: I have the honor to report that the enemy's boats, three in number, passed down the river yesterday evening at 8. 15. There having been reports of their approach during the day, everything had been held in readiness, the men at their guns and a regiment in the trenches.  Night coming on, a detail was left at the guns (enough to manage them) and the infantry bivouacked in position. Owing to the negligence of the signal corps stationed over the river at Hard Times, and who should have been able to give timely notice, no warning was given during the afternoon, and at night no rocket was sent up to apprise us of their approach. They were perceived by the sentinel at the upper battery as they rounded the point and immediately opened upon. About twenty shots were fired from the heavy guns, twenty-one from the field pieces, and twenty-one from the Parrotts of Wade's battery. The vessels were struck repeatedly. Seven heavy shells were seen to take effect, one raking the Hartford from stem to stern. The firing from the field batteries was excellent, the shrapnel bursting over the decks; but I have no means of discovering what damage was inflicted on the ships,* but the steam ram which passed the Vicksburg batteries was struck once amidships, swung round broadside to the current, and floated down thus, firing a lee gun, which could only have been a signal of distress.
    All the vessels lay about 10 miles below during the night and passed on down this morning.
    I regret to report than one of the 20-pounder Parrott guns burst at the fourth fire, killing 2, mortally wounding 1, and wounding 7, besides some scratches. I append a list. #. I entered the battery just as the gun exploded, and it affords me pleasure to bear testimony to the gallant conduct of the men there. Though many were knocked down, besides the wounded, only an imperceptible pause in the firing was occasioned, the men sprung up and to the other guns so quickly. The lieutenant of the burst gun replaced Numbers 1. of the next piece, who was killed, and it would not have been possible for the enemy to have discovered the accident from any slackening of the fire.
    The firing from the upper battery (Captain [J. B.] Grayson's) was excellent. The lower battery, where the accident occurred, was manned by Wade's and Guibor's companies of light artillery.
     I inclose a report on the circumstances attending and the causes of the bursting of the gun.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    JNO. S. BOWEN,
    Brigadier-General, Commanding.
    Major R. W. MEMMINGER,
    Assistant Adjutant-General.

* Rear-Admiral Farragut, U. S. Navy, reported that the Albatross was not struck; that the Hartford was struck once, killing 1 man and that the Switzerland was struck twice, but received no damage.
# Nominal list, omitted, reports 2 men killed and 1 officer (Captain Henry Guibor) and 1 man wounded, of Guibor's battery; 1 officer (Lieutenant John Kearney) and 5 men wounded, of Wade's Battery.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 24, Part 1, Page 486.

The Confederate defenses along the bluff at Grand Gulf overlooked a wide bend in the river.  It would be difficult to pass them.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 31, 1863 (Tuesday): Shovels for a Siege.

Richmond Defenses (

March 31, 1863.
Major-General BUTTERFIELD,
Chief of Staff:
    SIR: In case a siege of Richmond is deemed among the possibilities of the coming campaign, I think the chief quartermaster should be notified that he may be called on to furnish on our arrival in front of Richmond 10,000 shovels, 5,000 picks, 5,000 axes, and 2,000 shingling hatchets; that the Engineer Department should hold in readiness 30,000 sand bags, and that the secret service should, if possible, obtain authentic maps of the defenses of Richmond, either through their agents or by the public offers of large rewards. Such maps would be of no less value in case of an assault than in case of a siege. In the first case they would save valuable time that would otherwise be spent in selecting the proper point of attack, or might indicate at once that point. Such maps are undoubtedly in existence. Copies or originals may perhaps be obtained. It is believed to be impossible to compile such maps here from information given by persons who enter our lines, so as to obtain with sufficient accuracy either the strength of the works or the character of the ground around them.
     Very respectfully,

    Lieutenant of Engineers and Chief Engineer Army of the Potomac.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 18, Part 1, Page 573.

That Hooker planned to be in Richmond at some point in the not distant future is evident from this missive from chief engineer Comstock.  For the time being, these implements were not needed.

March 30, 1863 (Wednesday): Jenkins Raid

General Albert Jenkins

March 30, 1863-11.30 a. m.
General A. E. BURNSIDE:
    The rebels on Lower Kanawha are below all our troops, except one company at Point Pleasant. If any of your troops are passing, it would be highly desirable for a regiment or two to stop at Point Pleasant till the whole magnitude of the raid is known, and communication with General Scammon at Charleston reopened. I will send you further news as fast as I get it.
    I have been informed that about 700 of your men were expected at Parkersburg this morning; if so, the loan of them for a few days might put everything right.

     J. D. COX,

March 30, 1863-12.30 p. m.
Lieutenant-Colonel CHESEBROUGH, Baltimore:
     Dispatch from Gallipolis, just received, says the rebels have taken Point Pleasant. All sorts of exaggerated rumors as to numbers. There are no troops along the Ohio line, and the river is probably sufficient protection, but, if the force is large, I fear they may move northward toward the railroad. I have informed General Burnside also of the condition of things.

     J. D. COX,

March 30, 1863-12.30 p. m.
General KELLEY, Cumberland:
     Dispatch, just received, says the rebels have taken Point Pleasant. This would look as if their force was larger than first reported, and their being on the north bank of that river will make it necessary to look out for them farther north.

     J. D. COX,

MARIETTA, [OHIO,] March 30, 1863-2 p. m.
(Received March 30-3 p. m.)
Major-General BURNSIDE:
     The number of the enemy at Point Pleasant first sent you is best corroborated by late reports, but even that number is larger than all you troops between here and Portsmouth. I am trying to get volunteers at Gallipolis to go up and relieve Point Pleasant, where, at latest accounts, the company still held the court-house. Is there anything at Portsmouth which can be ordered up?

     J. D. COX,

MARIETTA, OHIO, March 30, 1863-2 p. m.
General E. P. SCAMMON, Charleston, via Clarksburg:
     The best information puts the rebel force below you less than 500. I have ordered a boat down for Zeigler's regiment, and am trying to raise citizens enough, with the company at Gallipolis, to relieve Point Pleasant. Am also urging General Burnside for aid from the Department of the Ohio. You had better push as large a force as you can mount rapidly down the river, and sustain them by what can be spared without abandoning posts above. I am practically without command, but assume this much as a necessity. Be assured everything possible well be done below, and I am confident all will come right shortly.

     J. D. COX,

March 30, 1863.
     Some rebel cavalry, estimated about 400, have passed from Sandy Valley and East Kentucky into the Lower Kanawha region. The Sandy Valley posts still belong to the Department of the Ohio, I believe, and as the troops in the Kanawha are necessarily concentrated near Gauley Bridge, they have to rely almost wholly on your forces at Louisa, &c., to protect their right flank. I respectfully suggest the importance of holding these positions strongly, and would like to be informed of the present condition of Eastern Kentucky, so that we may calculate accordingly in West Virginia.
    Truly, yours,

    J. D. COX,

March 30, 1863-6.30 p. m.
Major-General BURNSIDE,
     Rebels reported repulsed from Point Pleasant at 5 p. m., and have retired. No further particulars received as yet.

    J. D. COX,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 171-174.

Jenkins men had entered Ohio in September of 1862 and had occupied early 1863 in foraging and harassing Union troops spread thin throughout West Virginia guarding the B&O Railroad.  They repeated their incursion, advancing as far at the Ohio River at Point Pleasant.  Jenkins was not a cavalry leader of the first rank, but to his credit had overcome the handicap of a Harvard education.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 29, 1863 (Tuesday): Report From Grenada

General Greenville M. Dodge

CORINTH, [March] 29, 1863. 

Major-General HURLBUT:
    Midshipman Henry Travis, of the sloop of war Mississippi, has arrived here on parole. He says that his ship run aground, and that they fought her one hour afterward; then all hands made the shore, after firing the ship. She floated down below and blew up. They took with him 46 men and the captain of marines. The ship was not struck until after she got ashore. Says the current turned their ship; that the batteries did not do them any harm, and that they could not depress their guns enough to do them much damage. The rest of officers and men are in Jackson.
    A scout just in from Grenada road says only few militia at Grenada, but considerable force in Yazoo; that he heard cannonading up to Sunday night, and three guns Monday. Reports an increase of force on our front, mostly mounted only for infantry, and says that determined efforts are to made to break up our communications. There is no doubt but that the increase of cavalry is to break up our railroad, and the infantry are to relieve from railroad guard duty. No troops have been moved out of Vicksburg up to Wednesday night, except one brigade; that went toward Yazoo City. A great portion of the army is now east of Big Black.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 24, Part 3, Page 155.

Grant's operations had been designed to take advantage of any success which developed.  But when no advantage did come to pass, Grant had still kept his troops in fighting shape and satisfied demands from the administration and public to keep trying combinations against Vicksburg.  These operations set the stage for what would become Grant's successful siege at Vicksburg.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 28, 1863 (Monday): Davis Misunderstands Lee

Modern Site of Cheat River Bridge (

March 28, 1863.
General S. COOPER:
    General W. E. Jones reports the Ninth Corps (Burnside's) started west last Sunday by the Pennsylvania Central and Baltimore and Ohio Railroads, supposed for Kentucky. I have inquired of General Longstreet.

     R. E. LEE,



    Why inquire of General Longstreet? This may be an error in dispatch, or it may be a suggestion of that which is to my mind indicated-the movements of Longstreet to re-enforce Bragg.
     Now is the time to destroy the Kentucky Railroad and the Cheat River Bridge, if possible.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 689.

Davis misunderstood what Lee had asked Longstreet about.  For the proposed raid on the Cheat River Bridge Jones was asking for two regiments under Marshall, then serving in eastern Virginia under Longstreet.  But here you see Davis thinking in terms of what ultimately would be done in the Chickamauga campaign, namely to use interior lines of communications to reinforce Bragg with troops under Longstreet.  


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 27, 1863 (Sunday): To Feed An Army

Virginia Farm Land (

March 27, 1863.

HON. JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War:
    Sir: About the last of January I directed General W. E. Jones to send an escort of cavalry with Maj. W. J. Johnson, commissary of the cavalry division, into Hardy County, for the purpose of collecting beff-catte, &c.  General Jones was also directed to send parties into the counties west for the same purpose.  Major Johnson has returned from his expedition, and reports that he obtained in Hardy County 500 beff-cattle, 200 sheep, and 4,200 pounds of bacon.  He also obtained from Loudoun and Culpeper 200 head of cattle, and from Rockingham 3,000 pound of bacon.  I have not yet learned what amount of subsistence the parties sent by General Jones obtained.  I have endeavored during the past campaign to draw subsistence from the country occupied by the troops, wherever it was possible, and I believe by that means much relief has been afforded to the Commissary Department.  At this time but few supplies can be procured from the country we now occupy.
   General Longstreet has been directed to employ the troops south of James River, when not required for military operations, to collect supplies in that quarter, and penetrate, if practicable, the district held by the enemy.  The troops of the portion of the army have for some time been confined to reduced rations, consisting of 18 ounces of four, 4 ounces of bacon of indifferent quality, with occasionally supplies of rices, sugar, or molasses.  The men are cheerful, and I receive but few complaints; still, I do not think it is enough to continue them in health and vigor, and I fear they will be unable to endure the hardships of the approaching campaign.  Symptoms of scurvy are appearing among them, and to supply the place of vegetables each regiment is directed to send a daily detail to gather sassafras buds, wild onions, garlic, lamb's quarter, and poke sprouts, but for so large an army the supply obtained is very small.  I have understood, I do not know with what truth, that the Army of the West and that in the Department of South Carolina and Georgia are more bountifully supplied with provisions.  I have also heard that the troops in North Carolina receive one-half pound of bacon per day.  I think this army deserves as much consideration as either of those named, and, if it can be supplied, respectfully ask that it be similarly provided.
   I have the honor to be, with great respect, you obedient servant,

  R. E. LEE

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 686-687.

Lee's army was less well provided than the others named because they were supplied from the interior of the Confederacy and not the front lines of the war.  Virginia was providing for two armies (Union and Confederate) while supplies in the Carolinas and Georgia were relatively free from interference.  It is interesting to note Lee raises the possibility the health of the Army might impact its operational availability during the spring.  The situation was dire, and explains why Lee would chance sending Longstreet away at this critical juncture.  Simply put, northern Virginia could not feed the Army of Northern Virginia.  Thus were at least some of the seeds of the Gettysburg campaign sown.


Monday, March 25, 2013

March 26, 1863 (Saturday): Lee Confides a Plan

Fredericksburg, March 26, 1863.

General W. E. Jones,
   Commanding Valley District, Lacey Spring:

GENERAL:  I have received your letter of the 20th.  I regret the necessity of dividing your command. I hope you will urge constant watchfulness of he part of your officers and men, to prevent surprises.  Forage for your horses, however, must be obtained, and everything done to maintain their condition.  I know this will elicit your earnest attention.
  The continuous bad weather, swollen streams, &c, has prevented the proposed expedition into the Valley for the east.  This I very much regret, as I desired it to be preliminary to that west of the Alleghany.  It is nearly time for the latter to be executed, and as soon as the roads and mountain streams permit, it should move.
   No period has occurred since the commencement of the war so favorable, in my opinion, for dealing a blow against the enemy's possession of the northwest as now.  The paucity of the numbers and the disaffection of our citizens combine in our favor, and if the movement can be made unexpectedly and simultaneously, it must be successful, if rapidly and boldly executed.  Their active force, as far as I can learn, distributed from New Creek to the Kanawha, except the garrisons of Beverly, Phillippi, and Buckhannon, does not exceed three regiments, say 1,500 men.  If therefore we cannot first disturb the enemy's occupation of Martinsburg and his railroad communication through the lower valley, I desire you, when General Imboden is ready to move, to threaten his forces at Romney, New Creek, and Cumberland, so at least to fix them there if you cannot dispossess them, and to prevent their being sent west. Simulataneously with your demonstration, and under cover of it, Imboden's cavalry will move upon Oakland from Moorefield and burn the bridge, which is of wood, near that place, and proceed to Rowlesburg and destroy the bridge there, also of wood.  His infantry and artillery will so regulate their march as to reach Beverley at the same time as his cavalry crosses Cheat River, which will prevent the forces there interfering with his cavalry's destruction of the railroad bridges as far west as Grafton, General Sam Jones in the meantime having fixed the enemy's attention in the Kanawha.
   I think these operations will draw Milroy from Winchester and the Valley to the northwest, open that country, for a time, at least, to us; enable us to drive out horses, cattle, &c, and afford an opportunity to our citizens who wish to join us, and give relief to others now suffering under oppression and robbery.
   I have disclosed the whole plan to you, that you may co-operate knowingly, and give every aid in your power to its success.  Take advantage of every opportunity to damage the enemy on your part, strike at his moving columns, collect cattle, &c, for the army.
   Very respectfully,

   R. E. Lee

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 684-684.

It is easy to fix upon the conflict between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia and ignore the strategic importance of the northwest to both armies.  Lee desired greatly to cut the B&O Railroad to the west and essentially isolate Washington from Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.  The bridge at Rowlesburg was the key point on the line whose destruction would ensure for a time this objective. Jones was capable, but worthy of his nickname Grumble, and not the bold warrior of the Valley Jackson had been.  This was the task Jackson had sought to accomplish when he first came to the Valley, but there was no Jackson to execute it now that Union forces in the area had subsided.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 25, 1863 (Friday): What News?

The Telegraph Office-Washington (

Washington, March 25, 1863.

Major-General Hurlbut, Mephis:
   What news have you?  What from Vicksburg?  What from Yazoo Pass?  What from Lake Providence?  What generally?



March 25, 1863.

Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States:
   Two divisions of General Sherman's command are in Steele's Bayou, above Haynes' Bluff, and two divisions in Yazoo Pass, near Greenwood.  Water runs freely into Lake Providence, but Bayou Macon is encumbered with trees.   About 900 square miles of Upper Louisiana under water.  Canal at Vicksburg deep enough but not wide enough.  Enemy are repairing Mobile and Ohio Railroad, and will run to Tupelo by next week.  This road is strongly guarded.  All indications point to asteady abandonment of Vicksburg and concentration on Rosecrans, with a division on my left.  Enemy's cavalry in front of Corinth are being strongly re-enforced.  This, I think, is a cover, unless Van Dorn is driven across the Tennessee, when we may have something to do.
   The troops in this command are in fine order and ready for what may turn up.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 24, Part 3, Page 147.

Hurlburt was familiar with Lincoln from before the war, when both were at the bar in Illinois.  Hurlbut, as was popularly believed in the army, stayed at the bar during the war and was criticized for drunkenness and corruption.  But Lincoln utilized such as Hurlbut to gain information indirectly on the progress of the Army, observing no allegiance to chain of command.  Thus were some careers advanced and others impeded, although to Lincoln's credit he did realize the worth of such men as Grant, even when he was going behind his back. 

March 24, 1863 (Thursday): Cannons on the Mississippi

General C. L. Stevenson, (Library of Congress)
VICKSBURG, March 24, 1863.

Lieutenant-General PEMBERTON:
   Close observation with the telescope for the last two days confirms the report of an intelligent deserter that a large part of the forces opposite to us have left; most of them, he states, have gone to Moon Lake, some to Lake Providence, and one division to Deer Creek.  The division landed below Skipwith's and marched across; the dredging-boats have been moved out of the canal, and are tied up near the transports.  The work there, I think, has been suspended for the present.  The two Federal gunboats are still here.  I think that Farragut is waiting for an interview Porter, with the view of running some of his iron-clads past.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 24, Part 3, Page 688.

Carter Littlepage Stevenson was another of those types who affronted academia by overcoming finishing 42nd in the 45 man West Point class of 1838.  Despite this he rose to command a division sized element under Pemberton at Vicksburg.  The previous day the Hartford and Albatross had attempted to silence Confederate shore batteries at Warrenton, south of Vicksburg.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 23, 1863 (Wednesday): A Day of Fasting and Prayer

President Jefferson Davis


Numbers 46.
March 23, 1863.
    In obedience to the proclamation of the President of the Confederate States, setting apart Friday, the 27th of March, as a day of fasting and prayer for the nation, all duties will be suspended on that day in the Army of Northern Virginia, except such as are necessary for its safety and subsistence. Religious services appropriate to the occasion will be performed by the chaplains in their respective regiments.
Soldiers! no portion of our people have greater cause to be thankful to Almighty God than yourselves. He has preserved your lives amidst countless dangers; He has been with you in all your trials; He has given you fortitude under hardships, and courage in the shock of battle; He has cheered you by the example and by the deeds of your martyred comrades; He has enabled you to defend your country successfully against the assault of a powerful oppressor. Devoutly thankful for His signal mercies, let us bow before the Lord Hosts, and join our hearts with millions in our land in prayer "that He will continue His merciful protection over our cause; that He will scatter our enemies and set at naught their evil designs, and that He will graciously restore to our beloved country the blessings of peace and security."

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 683.

Such observances were declared by Lincoln and Davis at various times throughout the war.  The invocation of religious calls to sacrifice were sincerely felt by men on both sides.  In this instance there was a prevailing opinion in the South the Union army would soon move to attack and that events were progressing to a critical juncture. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 22, 1863 (Tuesday): Ballooning In Falmouth

One of Lowe's Balloons Launching Near Phillips' House, Falmouth

Balloon Camp,
Near Falmouth, Virginia
March 22, 1863

Professor Lowe:
    SIR: Lieutenant Comstock went up to-day in the Washington.  It was very calm, and I let the balloon ascend up to an elevation of 2,000 feet, where he remained for an hour and a half in full view of the enemy camps and works for twenty miles distant.  The balloon was then towed, at an elevation of 1,000 feet, three miles on our left, with him in the car of the balloon.  He expressed himself gratified with the knowledge thus obtained.

   Aeronaut In Charge of Balloon Washington

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 299.

The views attained by Lowe's aeronaut's of the famous scenes of the war would be the envy of modern students of the war.  As noted, at an altitude of 2,000 feet the view was clear to 20 miles and at the height there was no danger of being taken under fire.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 21, 1863 (Monday): A Proper Accounting

Robert Hall Chilton A.A.I.G.

March 23, 1863.

  With a view to a resumption of active operations by the 1st of April, the army will at once prepare for the approaching campaign. 
   I.  All surplus baggage, public and private, properly marked, will be sent to Richmond, under charge of a responsible officer from each brigade, to be turned over to Captain (W. E.) Warren, assistant quarter-master, who will receipt therefor in bulk, and will retain the same in the store-house provided  for the purpose until it shall be required.
   II.  No further leaves of absence will be given, to extend beyond the 31st instant, except on surgeon's certificate of disability, as prescribed in Regulations, or in cases of extraordinary urgency.
   III.  There being some misapprehension as to the returns required to be made by regimental officers to the several departments to which property in their hands appertains, and returns having in consequence heretofore been been omitted in many cases, commanders of regiments will immediately take an inventory of all ordinance stores in the possession of their regiments and ordinance sergeants; file them with accounts now in hands of said sergeants; forward receipts to the Chief of Ordinance at Richmond, Va., for stores thus found, and make out hereafter the returns required in Army Regulations.  All future losses must be accounted for by certificates of company officers, stating the circumstances of loss; and where through fault of the men, that they have been or will be charged on the muster rolls, specifying the months.  Returns will also be made by company officers of all property in their hands, except arms and ammunition accounted for by regimental commanders, retaining duplicates with company papers.  When an officer is relieved from his command, he will pass receipts and invoices for property to his successor.  If removed by accident, the next in rank will take an inventory immediately of all the public property for which his predecessor was responsible, and send receipts therefor to the proper departments, to aid in settlement of his accounts, and as evidence of his own responsibility.
   IV.  It will be necessary to reduce the transportation of the army to the lowest limit.  This necessity arises from the difficulty of procuring animals and forage, and from the increased demand for transportation of subsistence when the army shall be removed from the vicinity of railroads.  The commanding general regrets the necessity for curtailing the comforts of an army which has evinced so much self-denial in the endurance of privations, but feels satisfied that ready acquiescence will be shown in all measures tending to secure success and the more speedy conclusion of the war, and appeals to officers and men to aid him in the accomplishment of this greatly desired object by the strict observance of orders and careful perservation of the property in the hands, daily becoming more valuable by the difficulty of replacing it.
   By command of General R. E. Lee:

   Assistant Adjutant and Inspector General

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 681-682.

Armies have always run on paperwork and the Army of Northern Virginia was no exception.  Underlying the message is the hope war will eventually end and the concurrent idea that supplies of everything useful to the army were becoming scarcer.  Robert Hall Chilton graduated 48th of 50 in the West Point Class of 1837.  Despite his less than illustrious academic record he rose in administrative ranks in the Adjutant General's office in Richmond.  He served as a cavalry camp instructor in Ashland before becoming Lee's Chief of Staff in September of 1862, jsut in time to sign Lee's famous lost order in the Antietam Campaign.  In May thru November of 1864 he commanded the 57th Virginia at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania before returning to staff duty.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 20, 1863 (Sunday): Beauregard Amends His Shiloh Report

The Peach Orchard Shiloh (

General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF S. C., GA., AND FLA., Charleston, S. C., March 20, 1863.
    GENERAL: My report of the battle of Shiloh was written without opportunity to consult reports of army corps commanders and of their subordinate officers. These have never been furnished me, except the report and accompanying papers in relation to the operations of the corps under General Braxton Bragg, copies of which were furnished me at this place from your office. I hear that the reports of the corps under Lieutenant-General Polk have been handed in; if so, please have copies sent me as early as practicable; also of the reports of Major-Generals Hardee and Breckinridge, if at your disposition, as these papers are necessary in the preparation of a detailed report, which I find it will be proper for me to prepare and render.
     Respectfully, your obedient,

    General, Commanding.

    General S. COOPER, Adjt. and Insp. Gen., Richmond, Va.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 10, Part 1, Page 392.

Beauregard had written a detailed report on April 11 of the previous year.  But newspaper controversies related to whether he had called off attacks which might have routed the Union army on Day 1 at Shiloh compelled him to ask for further documentation with which to expand on his earlier report and defend himself.  Battle reports in the Official Records were, if written within days of battle, reasonably accurate.  But the further from the fight the farther from the truth, and officers on both sides shaped the truth to their liking.  Afterwards they engaged in arguments in print with their fellow officers over controversies which inevitably ensued, win or lose.

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 19, 1863 (Saturday): Mourning Pelham

Site of Pelham's Wounding (

March 19, 1863.
President of the Confederate States:
    Mr. PRESIDENT: On my arrival yesterday, learning that the enemy's cavalry had retired across the Rappahannock, and that no effort was being made by their infantry to cross the river, I countermanded the orders for Pickett's and Hood's divisions to march in this direction, and returned to Richmond the two battalions of heavy artillery, armed as infantry, that I had brought up to Hanover Junction to guard our stores, railroad bridges, &c.
     General Stoneman's attempt seems to have proved fruitless to him. His whole force was driven back by Fitz. Lee's small brigade. If he could restore to us our gallant dead, I should be content. I mourn the loss of Major Pelham. I had hoped that a long career of usefulness and honor was still before him. He has been stricken down in the midst of both, and before he could receive the promotion he had richly won. I hope there will be no impropriety in presenting his name to the Senate, that his comrades may see that his services have been appreciated, and may be incited to emulate them.
     I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 675.

Pelham was marked for greater things, as Lee's comments attest.  He had been in combat an amazing number of days during his short career.  Lee's desire to see Pelham posthumously promoted was gratified by the Senate when they approved his promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 18, 1863 (Friday): Longstreet on Strategy

Civil War Petersburg (
Petersburg, Va., March 18, 1863.
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding, & c., Fredericksburg, Va.:
    GENERAL: Your letter of 10.30 p. m. yesterday is received. I do not think it would be well to draw off any portion of Pickett's division at present. All of it cannot well be taken from here as long as the enemy holds this force of his so near Richmond. The force at Newport News and Suffolk cannot be less than 26,000. We shall have to meet that with hardly a third, including Pickett's division; but there are three brigades of Pickett's division near here, which may possibly be thrown up by rail; that is if the enemy makes no effort to advance by the south side. I think, however, that he will make a diversion from Suffolk, and as strong as is in him.
    Your letter,+ in relation to supplies, of yesterday is this moment received. All things considered I now think that our better plan would have been to fight the enemy on the Rappahannock with the force that you have there, or slightly diminished even, and to leave the force that was here to drive back the enemy in North Carolina and draw out the supplies there. I cannot divest myself of the opinion that an obstinate resistance on the Rappahannock will hold that line, and the force that I had here would then do to drive the enemy out of North Carolina, where it seems we must get our supplies. With the force left here by the withdrawal of Hood's division nothing can be done more than to hold our fortified positions and railroads, and the latter is somewhat doubtful. If it is necessary to give ground anywhere it seems to me that it would have been better to retire your force across the Anna, and to keep possession of all that part of North Carolina where we may be able to get supplies. From your report of the scarcity of supplies with you I fear that Hood's division may be more than you can supply, and I doubt if it can reach you in time by marching. I shall therefore try and have it sent by railroad, unless I get authority by telegraph to stop it. I shall go to Richmond this afternoon and await there further intelligence.
     I remain, general, your most obedient servant,


 P. S. - The enemy is re-enforcing at New Berne and at Suffolk. His intentions it is presumed are to make  diversions on both points when he moves to cross the Rappahannock. Success at either point will be pushed, of course, unless he fails again on the Rappahannock.

+ Not found; but see Longstreet to Hill, same date. 

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 18, Part 1, Page 924.

Lee had directed Pickett and Hood be held ready to move back to the Army of Northern Virginia in the wake of the crossing at Kelly's Ford.  Longstreet desired to keep them with him and sent Hood to the railroad in anticipation of a move, but kept Pickett in place.  He deigned to advise Lee he had force sufficient to hold the line of the Rappahannock.

It would appear the seeds of Longstreet's attitude at Gettysburg were sewn at Petersburg where he kept his headquarters during the Suffolk campaign.  Lee would agree to cancel his orders once he released only cavalry had crossed at Kelly's Ford, but his subsequent communication with Longstreet was more than usually direct. Complicating matters was the fact Richmond administrative types considered Longstreet in charge of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, covering eastern Virginia and NC.  It is very possible Longstreet may have considered himself now a peer of Lee, as opposed to merely a subordinate.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 17, 1863 (Thursday): Kelley's Ford

Lt. Colonel John Pelham
Two Miles from Kelley's Ford, via Culpeper, March 17, 1863-7 p. m.

General R. E. LEE,
Richmond, Va.:

Enemy is retiring. He is badly hurt. We are after him. His dead men and horses strew the roads.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 2, Page 685.

Stuart's report is terse, but boastful.  Averell's 2nd Division had been ordered to attack Confederate cavalary near Culpeper.  The advance guard was delayed at the crossing until around 6:30 a.m. and Averall then took two hours to move his force across the stream.  Fitz Lee moved to intercept the attackers around 7:30 a.m. with Stuart and Pelham riding along as observers.  The 3rd Virginia attacked along a stone fence  near the Wheatley House and despite reinforcements from the 5th Virginia they were forced to withdraw, pursued by the 4th and 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry.  It was in this portion of the engagement Pelham was killed by a shell fragment.  On the opposite flank three regiments (1st R.I., 4th PA, 6th Ohio) attacked the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Virginia with some success.  At 5:30 PM Averell took counsel of his fears and withdrew, despite outnumbering Lee's men 2,100 to 800.  He had advanced just 2 miles in 12 and a half hours.  Despite an unimpressive showing, the fact Averell was able to get to near the key position of Brandy Station and stay there in the face of what had, to that point, been largely superior Confederate cavalry, was a sign Union troopers were improving.

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 16, 1863 (Wednesday): Harper's Ferry Revisited

Remnants of Fort Duncan (

March 16, 1863. 
Lieutenant Colonel W. D. WHIPPLE,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Baltimore:
    COLONEL: I have the honor to communicate, for the information of the general commanding, my opinion of the defenses in and about Harper's Ferry.  Having carefully examined them, I am convinced they are inefficient for the purposes intended, so far as I understand what those purposes are. Bolivar Heights, the key to this post, a position of great strength, commanding one of the main approaches, is without works for guns of any caliber. It is true the guns of Fort Duncan, on the Maryland side, command these heights and the entire length of their crest, the nearest point being 1,250 yards, and the most distant only 2,900 from that work. These heights are commanded, and would be enfiladed, by enemy's batteries from Loudoun Heights, on the opposite side of the Shenandoah, could batteries be established there. But our guns on Maryland [Heights] so completely command Loudoun [Heights] that it may be regarded as altogether impracticable for those heights to be held by an enemy while Maryland Heights are in our possession. This condition of defenses is such that an enterprising enemy can easily possess themselves of Bolivar Heights, and hold them without serious damage from the guns of Fort Duncan by the construction of a few traverses for the protection of gunners, the labor of a single night. That position in the possession of an enemy of sufficient force to attempt the capture of this place by seige or coup de main, would compel the withdrawal of our troops to the Maryland side. There the natural difficulties of attack and the strength of our works would secure small forces against five times their numbers.
     We should have, then, the singular spectacle of a place commanded by two contending armies while neither can hold or occupy it. The bridge and the railroad would then fall into the power of the enemy, and by night enterprise of small parties could be destroyed. It would be impossible for the forces on Maryland Heights to prevent such destruction.
     If, as I suppose, one of the main purposes of holding Harper's Ferry and the erection of the defenses already made here is to protect the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, it seems to me certain that such intention may be defrauded, because of the failure to fortify Bolivar Heights, the main key and strength of this position on the Virginia side. If, in fact, Harper's Ferry is of any considerable military importance, either for the protection of the railroad, to hold Maryland from invasion, or as an exterior defense to aid Washington, and is to be held at any cost, I conceive it to be essential to fortify strongly Bolivar Heights.
       With these views, I ask the major-general commanding the department to order an experienced engineer officer to report to me without delay, to plan defenses for Bolivar Heights, to superintend their construction, and to determine the number and caliber of guns needed to arm them.
     I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    B. S. ROBERTS,
    Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 141-142.

Roberts was the New York state geologist before the war, worked on construction of the St. Petersburg to Moscow railroad, practiced law, and fought in the Mexican War.  He finished 53rd of 56 in the West Point Class of 1835.  Here he grasps the essential point regarding Harper's Ferry.  It could be taken but not held for an extended period.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March 15, 1863 (Tuesday): Bushwackers

Quantico Creek, Prince William Forest, Near Dumfries (NPS)

MARCH 15, 1863.-Affair near Dumfries, Va.

Numbers 1. Report of Brigadier General Alfred Pleasonton, U. S. Army, commanding Cavalry Division.

    The patrol of the Eighth Illinois was captured at night between Dumfries and Occoquan. Lieutenant-Colonel Clendenin had written orders not to send a less number that a platoon on this patrol. He will be arrested and charges preferred accordingly.
     It is recommended taht the rebel partisans and bushwhackers be cleared out from the vicinity of Occoquan and Brensville by a command from this division. One brigade and a couple of Guns would be sufficient. it is reported the enemy have one or two guns at Brentsville.


    Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,
    Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 1, Page 45.

The "bushwackers" were a mix of irregular forces, Mosby's men, and locals who could join up on short notice to harass the occupying army.  The problems encountered by Pleasanton's command would not be out of place from the Romans to the British Army during the Revolution to modern day Iraq and Afghanistan.  Taking territory is often easier than holding the acquisition.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 14, 1863 (Monday): Port Hudson

USS Mississippi

Lieutenant-General PEMBERTON:

Port Hudson, La., March 14, 1863.
    COLONEL: I have the honor to report that on Monday last, March 9, the enemy gave some indications of advancing, and on Tuesday moved out with considerable force of infantry, cavalry, and artillery on the three roads, but made a halt only a few miles from Baton Rouge. He moved a portion of his forces by transports about 5 miles above Baton Rouge at the same time, and also sent up one gunboat, which drove in my signal parties from the lower stations, capturing 2 men.
     Yesterday he advanced five gunboats, the Mississippi and Richmond, with three transports, and landed a small force of cavalry and two regiments of infantry at Springfield Landing, about 10 miles below here by the road. They marched rapidly to the Baton Rouge road and passed down that to the road to Taylor's Landing, and embarked again at that point. I started Wingfield's cavalry immediately on the receipt of the intelligence, but they were too late. The enemy effected nothing except driving in the small interior cavalry pickets and stealing few horses. The expedition was of more benefit to my men than theirs, as it produced immediate cheerfulness and hopes of a fight.
    The five gunboats anchored in sight, but not in range. Six in sight this morning. No news from the front.
    I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 15, Part 1, Page 272.

Port Hudson was 25 miles north of Baton Rouge and a strong point for Confederates on the Mississippi.  Admiral Faragut bombarded the works there during his run up river to Vicksburg.  In this action the USS Mississippi ran aground.  After refloating efforts (led by the executive officer George Dewey later of fame at Manilla Bay) failed the machinery was destroyed, her guns spiked, and ship set afire to prevent capture.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March 13, 1863 (Sunday): Ironclads Revisited

Montauk Striking a Mine (

Hilton Head, Port Royal, S. C., March 13, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
    GENERAL: I have the honor to acquaint you that, having had an interview yesterday with Rear-Admiral S. F. DuPont, I find that the recent experiments with the iron-clads against Fort McAlister have demonstrated certain defects grave enough in the opinion of the admiral to call for a postponement of active operations until they shall have been remedied. The exact nature of the alterations shown to be necessary I need not state precisely, but may say in general that the deck plating will have to be strengthened and the magazines more securely armored. Large fatigue parties of my command are now at work cutting timber to coat the deck, and the admiral has sent North the steamer Ericsson for a fresh layer of iron plates for each deck.
     The result of the torpedoes which exploded under the Montauk has also made the admiral anxious for certain submarine torpedo-exploders, for which he has also sent North.
    Owing to these causes a delay of some weeks would now be inevitable-a thing to be regretted, but which is wholly unavoidable. The repose shall be used to perfect the troops selected in all matters necessary to the work before them, and I respectfully ask that to this end you will assign to service in this department the two brigadier-generals asked for in my last.
    There is nothing of the least consequence new. Three deserters from Savannah to-day announce that a third ran is now ready to receive her armament, the Atlanta and Georgia being complete and afloat below
Fort Jackson, and that two additional rams have been commenced.  The men are Northern and appear reliable.
     Last night the enemy made a dash across Skull Creek, near Spanish Wells, and captured an officer and some few men belonging to the Signal Corps, immediately getting back into their boats and escaping before our infantry, through very alert, could overtake them.
    I take this occasion of again renewing my request for a regiment of cavalry, the one battalion of the First Massachusetts Cavalry stationed in the department being utterly unable to furnish the necessary reliefs for patrols and pickets, while the exposed situation of these islands, liable to sudden forays of the enemy from the main-land, renders it peculiarly desirable that we should have speedy means for the transmission of intelligence.
     I have the honor to be, general, with high esteem, your most obedient servant,

     D. HUNTER,
     Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 14, Part 1, Pages 427-428.

In the initial euphoria over the performance of the Monitor against the Virginia there was a feeling of invincibility about these ships.  But the bombardment of Fort McAllister proved there were vulnerabilities even in the most modern, advanced warships.  Deck plating worked loose under shore fire and the Montauk had to be run aground to prevent sinking after it struck a torpedo (mine) in the channel.  The Union still held the high cards in South Carolina and could afford to wait for modifications to the ironclad fleet.

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 12, 1863 (Saturday): Johnston, The Querulous

General Joseph E. Johnston

MOBILE, March 12, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I have had the honor to receive here, being on my way to Lieutenant-General Pemberton's headquarters, two dispatches (telegraphic) from you, by way of Chattanooga, to which I have briefly replied by telegraph.
     The first directs me to order General Bragg to Richmond for conference. I shall obey the order as soon as I can. I hope that most meritorious officer's removal is but temporary, and that the Government will adopt no course which might be regarded by the public as evidence of want of confidence in his generalship.
    The second asks if I have any resources under my control to meet the advance from Corinth, reported by Lieutenant-General Pemberton; if troops can be spared from Mobile or Mississippi, or from Middle Tennessee for the purpose; if Van Dorn's cavalry, at least, might not return.The infantry for defense on the land side of Mobile amounts to but 2,500.
      I reported to the President in December that nearly 20,000 additional troops were required in Mississippi. Since then Grant's army has been heavily re-enforced. Allow me to remind you also of what I have said of the length of time necessary for the transfer of troops in any considerable number from Mississippi to Tennessee. Those two departments are more distant from each other in time than Eastern Virginia and Middle Tennessee.
     In relation to detaching from General Bragg's army, permit me to remind you that I have been for the last two months asking the Department to strengthen it, and representing it as too weak to oppose the powerful army in front of it with confidence. On that account Major-General Van Dorn's cavalry was added. Dividing that army might be fatal to it. Major-General [Samuel] Jones reported some time ago that the enemy was sending troops from the Kanawha Valley. Soon after, our friends about Nashville informed General Bragg that Major-General Cox had arrived with his division from Western Virginia, and, a little later, that Major-General Sigel's division had also joined Rosecrans. I therefore suggested that the troops which had been opposed to those divisions in Virginia should be sent to General Bragg without delay. Allow me to repeat that suggestion.
      Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

     J. E. JOHNSTON,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 23, Part 2, Pages 684-685.

 At this point in the war Johnston was in overall command of the western theater.  Here he advocates removing forces from Virginia to meet the threat to eastern Tennessee.  It is likely Johnston still seethed at being sent West and his advocacy of shifting forces from Virginia to eastern Tennessee probably was an equal mix of a desire to use interior lines and a desire to inconvenience Richmond.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March 11, 1863 (Friday): Fort Henry Evacauted

Earthworks at Fort Heiman (

COLUMBUS, KY., March 11, 1863.
Major-General HURLBUT,
Memphis, Tenn.:
    In connection with my telegram of March 7, giving unofficial information of the abandonment of Forts Henry and Heiman, I beg to report the following telegram received from Fort Donelson:
Forts Henry and Heiman are evacuated. All the troops there are either here or on their way; also the stores. The works have been down by order of General Rosecrans. Fort Henry was untenable by high water. All quiet here.

     A. C. HARDING,
     Colonel, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 24, Part 3, Page 99.

Fort Henry was a singular victory for the Union, but flooding made it untenable for much of the year.  Fort Heiman, opposite Fort Henry was a considerable work.  Where the bulk of Fort Henry is now under water, a large portion of the Fort Heiman complex has been preserved. That these forts were abandoned is also a testament to the challenges Union war planners faced in trying to defend every portion of an ever extending line.

March 10, 1863 (Thursday): The Great Bridge Raid

Rowlesburg WVA (Google Earth)

Richmond, Va., March 10, 1863.
Brigadier General W. E. JONES,
Commanding, &c.:
     GENERAL: This will be handed to you by Captain J. H. McNeill, who has proved himself by past service a gallant and enterprising soldier. He has submitted to me, with the commendation of General Imboden, a plan of a gallant dash, with some 600 or 800 men, to accomplish the destruction of the trestle-work on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the bridge over the Cheat River. These are objects of great importance, and their successful accomplishment has long engaged the attention and special interest of the President. Several efforts heretofore have been, from special causes, frustrated, but the practicability of the enterprise, especially by the sudden dash of a small force, is believed to be by no means doubtful. The plan of Captain McNeill meets the concurrence of the Department, and after consultation with General Samuel Jones, whose approval (as the enterprise was to be attempted in a district of his department) was desired, has secured his sanction. I hope, when explained to you by Captain McNeill, it will likewise have your approval and co-operation. You will be expected to afford a portion, at least, of the force required for the enterprise, and by any contemporaneous operation you may deem judicious to favor and promote the scheme.
     For any further details or explanation, either as to his own views or those of Generals Samuel Jones or Imboden, with whom he has conferred, I refer you to Captain McNeill, and commend him to your favorable consideration.
     With great esteem, very respectfully, yours,

    J. A. SEDDON,
   Secretary of War.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 2, Pages 660-661.

The bridge at Rowlesburg, West Virginia linked western Pennsylvania and Ohio to the eastern theater by means of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  Breaking this connection was, to Robert E. Lee, "worth an army" but it would likely have taken one to accomplish the task.  What was proposed here became a twin movement of Imboden and McNeil's men later in the spring.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

March 9, 1863 (Wednesday): Staughton Captured

General Edwin Staughton

MARCH 9, 1863.-Affair at Fairfax Court-House, Va.
Report of Captain John S. Mosby, Virginia Cavalry.

March 11, 1863.
    GENERAL: I have the honor to report that having accurately ascertained the number and disposition of the troops in Fairfax County, I determined to make the attempt to reach Fairfax Court House, where the general headquarters of that portion of the army were established. Sunday night, the 8th instant, being dark and rainy, was deemed propitious. I proceeded down the Little River pike to within about 3 miles of Chantilly; then, turning to the right, crossed the road leading from Centreville to Frying Pan, about half way between Centreville and the Little River pike; then proceeding on toward Fairfax Court-House, came upon the Warreton pike at a point about 4 miles distant from Fairfax Court-House. I then kept the pike until I got within about a mile and a half of the Court-House, when I turned to the right in order to avoid some infantry camps, and came into Fairfax Court-House from the direction of the railroad station. The few guards stationed around the town, unsuspecting danger, were easily captured. I then sent one party to the headquarters of Colonel Wyndham (acting brigadier), another party to Colonel Johnstone's, while with 6 men I went myself to Brigadier General Stoughton's. Unfortunately Colonel Wyndham had gone down to Washington, but his assistant adjutant-general and aide-de-camp were made prisoners. Colonel Johnstone, having received notice of our presence, made his escape. General Stoughton I found in bed asleep, as well as his staff and escort, whom we captured. Afterward, in the darkness and confusion, two officers of his staff made their escape.
     While these things were going on, other detachments of my men were busily engaged in clearing the stables of the fine horses with which they were filled. It was about 2 o'clock when I reached the Court-House, and I did not deem it safe to remain there over one hour and a half, as we were 10 miles within the enemy's lines, and it was necessary that we should get out before daylight, the close proximity of the enemy's forces rendering our situation one of great peril, there being three regiments of cavalry camped 1 mile distant, at Germantown, two infantry regiments within a few hundred yards of the town, one infantry brigade in the vicinity of Fairfax Station, and another infantry brigade, with artillery and cavalry, at Centreville. About 3.30 o'clock, therefore, I left the place, going in the direction of Fairfax Station, in order to deceive the enemy as to my line of retreat should they attempt pursuit; then, wheeling to the right, took the pike to Centreville at a point about a mile and a half from Fairfax Court-House. When I came to within a half mile of Centreville I again turned to the right, passed so close to the fortifications there that the sentinels on the redoubts hailed us, while we could distinctly see the bristling cannon through the embrasures. We passed within a hundred of their infantry pickets without molestation, swam Cub Run, and again came into the Warrenton pike at Groveton.
    I have not yet heard whether the enemy pursued. It was my purpose to have reached the Court-House by 12 o'clock, but this was frustrated by our mistaking our road in the darkness, by which we were delayed two hours; but for this occurrence I should have had ample time not only to have made more, captives, but also to have destroyed the large amount of quartermaster's, commissary, and sutlers' stores accumulated there. They were stored in the houses of the town, and it was impossible to have burned them without destroying the town.
     The fruits of this expedition are 1 brigadier-general (Stoughton), 2 captains, and 30 men prisoners. We also brought off 58 horses, most of them being very fine, belonging to officers; also a considerable number of arms. We left hundreds of horses in the stables and other places, having no way of bringing them off, as I was already encumbered with more prisoners and horses than I had men. I had 29 men with me; sustained no loss. They all behaved admirably.
      I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

     JNO. S. MOSBY,
     Captain, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 1, Page 1122.

Staughton was a West Point graduate who rose rapidly to a generalship at 24.  At the time of his capture his appointment had lapsed, Congress not having confirmed it.  There are a number of stories told, perhaps fanciful, perhaps not about Mosby's capture of Staughton.  He supposedly slapped the young officer to waken him and asked if he knew Mosby.  Staughton reportedly replied, "Why, have you got the rascal?" to which Mosby replied, "No, but he has you."  But the best summation of what was really a minor event came from President Lincoln who remarked, "I can get more generals, but those horses cost $125."


Thursday, March 7, 2013

March 8, 1863 (Tuesday): Overcoming Obstacles

General Isaac R. Trimble

March 8, 1863.
    MY DEAR GENERAL: I am much obliged to you for your suggestions, presented in your letters of February and March. I know the pleasure experienced in shaping campaigns, battles, according to our wishes, and have enjoyed the ease with which obstacles to their accomplishment (in effigy) can be overcome. The movements you suggest in both letters have been at various times studied, canvassed with those who would be engaged in their execution, but no practicable solution of the difficulties to be overcome has yet been reasonably reached. The weather, roads, streams, provisions, transportation, &c., are all powerful elements in the calculation, as you know. What the future may do for us, I will still hope, but the present time is unpropitious, in my judgment. The idea of securing the provisions, wagons, guns of the enemy, is truly tempting, and the desire has haunted me since December. Personally I would run any risk for their attainment, but I cannot jeopardize this army.
     I consider it impossible to throw a trestle bridge over the Rappahannock below the Rapidan, with a view to a surprise. Our first appearance at any point would be the signal for the concentration of their army, and their superior artillery would render its accomplishment impossible without great loss of life. A bridge might be thrown over the Rapidan above Germanna Mills, and has been contemplated. Our movements might be concealed until we crossed the Rappahannock, but the distance from there to Aquia is great; no forage in the country; everything would have to be hauled. The route by Orange and Alexandria Railroad is the most feasible. The bridge is passable at Rappahannock Station. We must talk about it some time.
     I hope you are getting strong, and that you have good tidings from all your friends.

    Very truly,
    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 658.

Trimble had been severely wounded at Second Bull Run.  He was an active letter writer during his recovery.  He lobbied Richmond for promotion and argued with J.E.B. Stuart over credit for the seizure of the Union supply depot at Manassas.  It appears he also offered strategic ideas to Robert E. Lee.  If there is doubt as to Lee's sense of humor, a reading of the letter will dispel them.  Lee notes he has "enjoyed the ease with obstacles....(in effigy) can be overcome. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March 7, 1863 (Monday): What to do with Milroy?

General Robert C. Schneck

             Washington, March 7, 1863.

Major-General SCHENCK,
   GENERAL:  The substance of your distpatch* in regard to Winchester was telegraphed to General Hooker, who replied that no considerable force of the enemy could possibly be in front of General Milroy, and that was probably "stmmpeded" as usual.  General Milroy seems to be a very unrealiable man, and hardly fit for such a position.  Can you not make a better disposition of him?
    In regard to reconstructing the railroad to Winchester, the Secretary of War is of the opinion that do so at the present time would be a mere waste of public money.
    I have communicated to you my opinion in regard to Winchester.  It is a mere post of observation, or, in military phrase, a post in the air.  The Upper Potomac is a mere line of defense, not a base of operations.  It is, therefore, injudicious to risk any large number of troops at Winchester, and these must retire if there by any severe danger that the enemy will cut them off from Harper's Ferry.
    General Milroy's plan of operations is contrary to every military rule. To move an army up the Shenandoah while Hooker operated from the Rappahannock, would be to repeat the same old error of distant parallel lines, with the enemy between them, ready to concentrate upon and crush our divided forces.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

      H. W. HALLECK

 Not found.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 132.

Milroy continually reported troops preparing to overwhelm Winchester.  But Halleck here points out, even if there were such forces assembling against Milroy, Winchester was not a critical position to hold.  It was a good forward post of observation, but no more.  Ironically, although Halleck understood this, he left too many troops there during the Gettysburg campaign, many of whom were captured when Ewell swept north.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March 6, 1863 (Sunday): "A stampeder..."

General Robert H. Milroy

March 6, 1863-1 p. m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    I have no means of verifying the suspicions of General Milroy. I only know that his general character is that of a stampeder, and that if a large cavalry force is in his front, I am puzzled to know where it came from. Certainly not from the army in my front. If my cavalry is to be sent there on the present information, a positive order will be required. That trip will disable my cavalry for service for six weeks. If General Milroy has 4,000 infantry, he should be able to take care of himself against any cavalry force the enemy can send against him.


Official Records Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 127-128.

Milroy believed he was threatened at Winchester by an accumulating Confederate cavalry force.  There was some shifting of forces in the area, but no major reinforcements and the danger was not as great as he apprehended.  Hooker harbored the prejudices West Point officers often felt toward civilian generals and shows some of that disdain here. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

March 5, 1863 (Saturday): "Three regiments of infantry are missing.."

Homestead Manor, Thompson Station Battlefield (
NASHVILLE, March 5, 1863.
     General Gilbert telegraphs that Colonel Coburn is engaged 6 miles out on the Columbia pike. Heavy artillery firing going on. Am holding troops here in readiness to support Gilbert, if necessary.

     G. GRANGER,

     [P. S.]-Later dispatch says fight is going on at Spring Hill. Gilbert is going down with his whole force.   Baird leaves here at once with his troops.

NASHVILLE, March 5, 1863.
Brigadier-General GARFIELD,
Chief of Staff:
     One-half of Baird's command has already gone down on the cars. The other half goes soon, I accompanying.

     G. GRANGER,

Brigadier General C. C. GILBERT, Franklin:
    The general commanding directs me to say that he regrets exceedingly that you did not support Coburn and help to bring off the infantry. He desires now that the commanding officer at Franklin keep him fully advised of the strength, position, and movements of the enemy, and give such immediate information as will enable him to give Sheridan proper instructions. We must strike a blow back, to counterbalance the injury we have sustained.


Brigadier General C. C. GILBERT, Franklin:
     The general commanding desires a fuller and more complete report of the affair in your front. He desires to know what force the enemy have, and the composition of it; whether you were repulsed or routed. Why did Colonel Coburn engage the enemy to such an extent, and what were his instructions?


FRANKLIN, TENN., March 5, 1863.
GENERAL: Colonel Jordan, with the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry, next in rank to Colonel Coburn, represents the force of the enemy at 10,000, and even more, nearly all infantry, five pieces of artillery, and between 2,000 and 3,000 cavalry. Three regiments of infantry are missing; the artillery and cavalry have returned without much loss. The infantry in the retreat broke for the woods and hills, and many have come in during the night. Colonel Coburn did not believe the enemy was in force, as he had repulsed them yesterday, but he [had] only met the advance cavalry. Colonel Jordan says Van Dorn was on his way to attack me yesterday, and was taken by surprise by our advance on them. Colonel Coburn's instructions were issued from the telegram from headquarters, signed by Brigadier-General Garfield, to go to Spring Hill to ascertain the force in our front. He was fully apprised of the importance of not becoming vulnerable.

     C. C. GILBERT,

Brigadier-General GARFIELD.
NASHVILLE, March 5, 1863.
GENERAL: The following just received from Franklin, to General Granger:

FRANKLIN, March 5, 1863.
Major-General GRANGER:
   Major [L. S.] Scranton, Second Michigan Cavalry, gives the following account of the expedition send out yesterday forenoon:About 2 o'clock the enemy offered his first opposition. He showed about 1,200 cavalry and four pieces of cannon. This force contested the advance of Colonel Coburn, chiefly with artillery, for about one hour, and then yielded the ground for the day, showing only some force on each flank, but as a distance. The command went into camp about 4 miles from here. In the morning, about 8 o'clock, the march was resumed, and about 2 miles skirmishing ensued, which continued some 2 miles farther, up to Thompson's Station, on the railroad, the enemy stoutly contesting the ground. Just before reaching the station here, a battle began, and continued about two hours and a half. Colonel Coburn having achieved some success, proceeded to storm one of the enemy's batteries, when he was drawn into a line of greatly superior forces, enveloping him on both flanks. The artillery and cavalry and train were extricated, but most of the infantry is still missing, and probably is captured or destroyed. I presume Colonel Coburn thought he was contending only with the forces he had driven the previous day, as the enemy kept concealed among the wooded knobs. After the action had continued some time, the ammunition on our left beginning to fail, the enemy closed in strongly on our left, and our lines gave way.

     C. C. GILBERT,
     Brigadier-General of Volunteers, Commanding.

Camp at Eagleville, March 5, 1863.
    COLONEL: I am in receipt of a dispatch from the general commanding, dated this evening.
    General Steedman drove the enemy from Chapel Hill to-day. I am sorry he did not open communication with me before he went on, as I could have thrown a brigade and the cavalry to Godionville, and intercepted the force he was driving, said to be 2,500 men (cavalry). I have directed General Steedman to take position at Triune at 6 o'clock to-morrow morning, and will myself take position at the junction of the Chapel Hill pike and this pike (about 4 miles south of Triune). I can thus operate in the direction of Franklin, or in this direction, and be entirely secure if any infantry advance was made on me. This is a strong place, but there is no particular reason that it should be held.

     I cannot make anything by a second dash on Rover at present, but can threaten the enemy in their attack on Franklin, which it is said they intend to make.
    From all I can learn, no troops have left Shelbyville for Tullahoma. Colonel Long was sent out to-day, as soon as I found from the scouts what had become of Steedman. Long was too late to intercept the enemy.
    The enemy have again occupied Rover, in strong force, infantry, it is said.
     Perhaps it is safest to send communications to me by Franklin road, via Triune.

    Very respectfully,

    Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 23, Part 2, Page 109, Official Records, Series I., Vol. 23, Part 1, Page 76

After Stones River the armies warily faced each other, both bruised enough by the battle not to initiate a reengagement.  In early March Coburn's Brigade left Franklin on a scouting and foraging mission south to Columbia.  Four miles from Spring Hill he attacked to Confederate regiments and was repulsed.  Then Van Dorn seized the initiative, attacking in front with Brigadier-General Red Jackson's infantry and around the left flank of the Union force with Forrest's cavalry division.  Forrest captured Coburn's wagon train and blocked his escape to Nashville.  Much of the Union force dissolved into the woods and Coburn surrendered.  1220 Union soldiers were captured and this caused a temporary loss of momentum for Union forces in Middle Tennessee.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March 4, 1863 (Friday): Finding A Replacement for "Grumble" Jones

General W. E. Jones

HEADQUARTERS, Fredericksburg, March 4, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
     SIR: I have received your letter of the 26th ultimo, directing General W. E. Jones to be relieved from the command of the District of the Shenandoah Valley. I will make the change your order as soon as circumstances will permit.
     I think it most judicious to change the cavalry brigades with their commanders, sending General Fitz. Lee's into the Valley with him, and bringing General Jones' east of the mountains. As General Fitz. Lee is now posted on the enemy's right flank, watching his movements, I shall have to replace him, or send forward a cavalry expedition before he can be withdrawn.

    I beg leave to say, in justice to General Jones, that I do not know that under the circumstances, with his force and that opposed to him, any one would have done better. General Fitz. Lee is an excellent cavalry officer, and is extremely useful in his present position. I do not know how I can spare him upon the resumption of active operations, as I feel at liberty to call upon him and General W. H. F. Lee on all occasions. General Hampton, the senior brigadier of cavalry, and an officer of standing and gallantry, might answer better.
     General Jones' brigade is that formerly commanded by General Ashby. It has always served in the Valley, and, I believe, is organized of men principally from that region. The only way of retaining the brigade there would be to transfer General Jones to an infantry brigade, and appoint Colonel Wickham or Colonel Munford to its command.
     General Milroy is reported to have under his command 15,000 men, stationed at Harper's Ferry, Martinsburg, Winchester, Romney, and New Creek. General Jones' force is not more than sufficient to restrain marauding.
    I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 654.

Jones would have to remain a while longer in the Valley, despite political pressure being place on the Davis administration to remove him.  "Grumble" Jones was an able officer, but short tempered and ill disposed to interact in a congenial manner.  The alternatives mentioned were not practical.  It would have not have been a move welcomed by Hampton (as suggested by Lee) and Lee and Stuart did not want to see Fitz Lee dispatched.  Ultimately Munford would end up in the Valley, but at a later date.