Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 31, 1863 (Saturday): Lincoln Tries to Pull Back Arkansas

Senator William K. Sebastian

EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, July 31, 1863.
[Major-General HURLBUT:]
    MY DEAR GENERAL HURLBUT: Your letter by Mr. Dana was duly received. I now learn that your resignation has reached the War Department. I also learn that an active command has been assigned you by General Grant. The Secretary of War and General Halleck are very partial to you, as you know I also am. We all wish you to reconsider the question of resigning; not that we would wish to retain you greatly against your wish and interest, but that your decision may be at least a very well-considered one.
    I understand that Senator [William K.] Sebastian, of Arkansas, thinks of offering to resume his place in the Senate. Of course the Senate, and not I, would decide whether to admit or reject him. Still, I should feel great interest in the question. It may be so presented as to be one of the very greatest national importance; and it may be otherwise so presented as to be of no more than temporary personal consequence to him.

    The emancipation proclamation applies to Arkansas. I think it is valid in law, and will be so held by the courts. I think I shall not retract or repudiate it. Those who shall have tasted actual freedom I believe can never be slaves or quasi slaves again. For the rest, I believe some plan, substantially being gradual emancipation, would be better for both white and black. The Missouri plan, recently adopted, I do not object to on account of the time for ending the institution; but I am sorry the beginning should have been postponed for seven years, leaving all that time to agitate for the repeal of the whole thing. It should begin at once, giving at least the new-born a vested interest in freedom which could not be taken away. If Senator Sebastian could come with something of this sort from Arkansas, I, at least should take great interest in his case; and I believe a single individual will have scarcely done the world so great a service. See him, if you can, and read this to him; but charge him to not make it public for the present Write me again.
Yours, very truly,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 24, Part 3, Pages 566-567.

Hurlbut was a close colleague of Lincoln's.  At the beginning of the war he was sent by Lincoln to Charleston to evaluate the situation at Fort Sumter.  The administration did, in fact, prevail upon him to remain in the Army.  But Sebastian did not rejoin the Senate, although that body did repeal his expulsion and compensate his family for the time he would have served after his death.  The noteworthy feature of the letter is Lincoln's flexibility on the subject of gradual emancipation.  Here he hopes Arkansas can be peeled away from the Confederacy through some middle ground proposal on the issue.

July 30, 1863 (Friday): An Epidemic of Desertion

North Carolina Soldiers (learnnc.org)

July 30, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
     SIR: I regret to send you the inclosed report of the adjutant [com-mander] of Scales' North Carolina brigade (Pender's old brigade), one which has done good service and reflected great credit upon that State. The officers attribute these desertions to the influence of the newspaper writers. I hope that something may be done to counteract these bad influences. From what I can learn, it would be well, if possible, to picket the ferries and bridges on James River and over the Staunton and Dan Rivers, near the foot of the mountains, in Halifax, Pittsylvania, Patrick, and Henry, at the most prominent points. Many of these deserters are said to pass that way, and it would be a great benefit to the army to catch them, in order to make some examples as speedily as possible.
     I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     R. E. LEE,


AUGUST 7, 1863.
     I find it difficult to command the needed guards. Efforts will be made to do so.

     J. A. S. [SEDDON,]


July 30, 1863.
Assistant Adjutant-General:
      MAJOR: I am pained this morning to inform you that last night brought another slur on our old brigade, and consequently on our State. Out of our small number present, about 50 deserted-42 from the Twenty-second, and 5 from the Thirty-eighth [North Carolina Regiments]. If any more, they have not been reported. It is that disgraceful "pease" sentiment spoken of by the Standard. Some-thing should be done; every effort should be made to overhaul them, and every one should be shot. Let us hope to check it now, for if this should pass by unnoticed, many more will very soon follow. I ask what to do.

     WM. L. J. LOWRANCE,
     Colonel, &c.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 1052.

It is clear soldiers on both sides had begun to lose the taste for war by 1863.   In the north newly arrived immigrants resisted the draft and in the south desertion was becoming more and more prevalent. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 29, 1863 (Thursday): Lee Assesses Conditions

July 29, 1863.
President of the Confederate States:
    Mr. PRESIDENT: Your letter of the 21st instant has been received and I am much obliged to you for the suggestions it contains. As soon as I receive an official account of the casualties in the army, it will be forwarded. The list of our wounded and missing I know will be large. Many of the first could not be moved, and had to be left behind. The latter will be swelled by the stragglers, who commenced, on crossing the Potomac, to stray from the line of march, and were intercepted by the enemy`s cavalry and armed citizens, notwithstanding every effort which was made to prevent it. Our people are so little liable to control that it is difficult to get them to follow any course not in accordance with their inclinations. The day after the last battle at Gettysburg, on sending back the train with the wounded, it was reported that about 5,000 well men started back at night to overtake it. I fear most of these were captured by the enemy`s cavalry and armed citizens, who beat their route. These, added to other stragglers, men captured in battle, and those of the wounded unfit to be transported, will swell our list of missing, and, as far as I can judge, the killed, wounded, and missing from the time we left the Rappahannock until our return will not fall short of 20,000. This comprises, however, the slightly wounded and those who straggled from the ranks, who are now rejoining us. After recrossing the Potomac, I commenced to consolidate the troops, considering the cases individually and united Archer`s and Heth`s (Field`s) former brigade under General H. H. Walker, and Pender`s and Heth`s divisions under General Heth. The accession of convalescents and stragglers is enlarging these divisions so much that I shall have to separate them again.
    As regards General Davis` Brigade, I think it will be better to attach the three Mississippi regiments to Posey`s brigade, in Andersons division, where I hope they will soon be increased in numbers. The North Carolina regiment of this brigade I suggest be attached to Pettigrew`s old brigade.
    The only objection to this plan is that it breaks up General Davis` command; but if his indisposition will detain him long from the field, it will be best to do it, for the present, at least. Although our loss has been so heavy, which is a source of constant grief to me, I believe the damage to the enemy has been as great in proportion. This is shown by the feeble operations since. Their army is now massed in the vicinity of Warrenton, along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, collecting re-enforcemnts. Unfortunately, their means are greater than ours, and I fear when they move again they will much outnumber us. Their future plans I Cannot discover, and think it doubtful, with their experience of last year, whether they will assume the Fredericksburg line again or not, though it is very probable. Should they do so, I doubt the policy of our resuming our former position in rear of Fredericksburg, as any battle fought there, excepting to resist a front attack, would be on disadvantageous terms, and I therefore think it better to take a position farther back. I should like your views upon this point. The enemy now seems to be content to remain quiescent, prepared to oppose any offensive movement on our part. General Meade`s headquarters are at Warrenton. I learn by our scouts that the seven corps are between that point and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. They are all much reduced in numbers. From the observation of some corps, the report of citizens and their prisoners, the reduction is general, and the corps do not exceed from 6,000 to 8,000 men. I have halted Ewell`s corps on Robertson River, About 3 miles in front of Madison Court-House, where grazing is represented to be very fine, and in the vicinity of which sufficient flour can be obtained. We have experienced no trouble from the enemy in crossing the Blue ridge. Excepting the attempt at Manassas Gap upon Ewell, and of a cavalry force on the Gourd Vine road on A. P. Hill, our march has been nearly unmolested. Our cavalry is in our front along the Rappahannock. I am endeavoring to collect all the provisions I can in this part of the country, which was also done in the Valley. While there, in order to obtain sufficient flour, we were obliged to send men and horses, thresh the wheat, carry it to the mills, and have it ground. There is little or no grain in that vicinity, and I cannot learn of more in Madison than sufficient for Ewell`s corps.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Pages 1048-1049.

Did Lee delay as long as possible telling Davis the magnitude of his losses for fear word would spread to the press and embolden Meade to attack?  It is striking how long it took Lee to fully inform the government of his losses, although here he represents the toll on Meade's Army to be as great.  He believes Meade will not attack him, although it is possible in hindsight to believe Meade would have done so had he better information on Lee's location and intent.  The importance of the cavalry to these campaigns is evident in correspondence about this time.  Stuart's troopers remained active and the Union was not able to gather much information from behind the screen he established. 

July 28, 1863 (Wednesday): Meade Plans An Advance

General George Gordon Meade

July 28, 1863-3 p. m. {Received 7. 35 p. m. }

Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    I am making every effort to prepare this army for an advance. The principal difficulties encountered are the passage of the Rappahannock {at present unfordable, but which will probably be bridged to-night) also the want of animals for the batteries and cavalry, to supply which the quartermaster's department is doing everything possible. The recent marches in the mountain passes and the excessive heat of the weather caused a great loss of animals and the exhaustion of many others. A large proportion of the animals require shoeing. It is also necessary to accumulate subsistence stores to load the trains before starting. I am in hopes to commence the movement tomorrow, when I shall first throw over a cavalry force to feel for the enemy, and cross the infantry as fast as possible. My plan is to advance on the railroad to Culpeper and as far beyond as the enemy's positions will permit, to detach sufficient force to hold and guard the railroad from Manassas Junction, and thus test the question which has been raised of the capacity of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to supply the army and the practicability of maintaining open such a long line of communication.
No reliable intelligence of the position of the enemy has been obtained. He pickets the Rappahannock from Fredericksburg to Rappahannock Station. These pickets, however, seem to be mere "lookouts, " to warn him of my approach. Some camps can be seen at Pony Mountain, near Culpeper, and in the vicinity of Cedar Mountain. Contradictory reports from citizens and scouts place the main body, some at Gordonsville, others say at Staunton and Charlottesville, and some assert the retreat has been extended to Richmond. My own expectation is that he will be found behind the line of defense, most of the fords being commanded by the southern bank, where his artillery can be used to advantage. If I can hold the railroad without too great a weakening of my force, and it proves to have the capacity to afford all the supplies needed, I shall advance until the enemy is encountered or definite information obtained of his movements. By holding the road, I do not refer to the force necessary to prevent the injuries caused by guerrillas, but against large bodies of cavalry or other forces placed on my flank and rear for the purpose of destroying my communications.

       GEO. G. MEADE,

P. S.-4 p. m. -A scout just returned from across the river reports the enemy have repaired the railroad bridge across the Rapidan, and are using the road to Culpeper Court-House; that Lee has been intends to make a stand at Culpeper or in its vicinity.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 1, Page 105.

Meade believed himself under pressure from Lincoln to advance and attack Lee.  But the logistics of moving so many men over a considerable distance after a major battle worked against him, as did the current stage of the Rappahannock River.  It is interesting to note Lincoln's excitement by this time had cooled and he was not, in fact, urging Halleck to spur Meade to attack.  But there remained a lack of communication between Meade and Lincoln, perhaps because Meade was the least politically inclined of the generals who to this point had commanded the Army of the Potomac.

July 27, 1863 (Tuesday): The Wounded Still at Gettysburg

Adams Express Buckle (AdamsExpress.com)

July 27, 1863.
     SIR: I arrived at Gettysburg on the morning of the 10th of July, forty hours later than I had hoped to do, in consequence of the irregularities and interruptions on the railways leading to that place. Medical Inspector Volume reached Gettysburg some two or three days in advance of me, and immediately on his arrival made arrangements for sending away such of the wounded as were in a condition to be moved in ambulances or on the railroad. Lieutenant-Colonel Volume had the immediate charge of forwarding the wounded to the general hospitals designated by yourself. In this he was assisted by Dr. Osborne, of the Army of the Potomac, a very active and energetic officer. Both of these officers performed the duty assigned them with very great faithfulness and efficiency. I believe the wounded were received at the railroad depot and placed on the cars with as much care, attention, and comfort as was possible under the circumstances. Before the arrival of the fifty ambulances sent from Washington by yourself, our means of conveying the wounded from the field hospitals to the railroad depot were inadequate, although I am satisfied that as many ambulances were left by the Army of the Potomac as could possibly be spared. The number of medical officers detailed by Medical Director Letterman to remain with the wounded was thought to be sufficient, and probably might have been had not thousands of the enemy`s wounded been thrown unexpectedly on our hands. For some days after the battle, many of the rebel wounded were in a most deplorable condition, being without shelter of any sort, and with an insufficient number of medical officers and nurses of their own army. Every effort was made to alleviate the sufferings of these unfortunate men, and as soon as it could be done they were placed under cover or sent away to some general hospital. Our wounded with some few exceptions, were sheltered within a day or two after the battle, and made as comfortable as circumstances would permit. The scarcity of straw for bedding was seriously felt, and it was not until eight or ten days after the conflict that a sufficient quantity could be obtained. As far as my observation extends, the medical officers of the army, and the citizen surgeons who were employed during the emergency, discharged their arduous duties with fidelity and ability. I never saw men work harder and complain less of the difficulties that surrounded them. Through the efficiency of the medical purveyor, Assistant Surgeon [Jeremiah B.] Brinton, his storehouse was rapidly filled with supplies suitable for the occasion, and, by an arrangement of your own, liberal supply of ale and port is daily furnished to such of the wounded as need them. Up to the 25th instant (the day left Gettysburg), 15, 875 of the wounded had been sent away, and since that time 250 more have been forwarded, amounting in all to 16,125, leaving still at Gettysburg abut 3,500, 3,000 of whom, it is believed, are not in a condition to be moved at present. Those who are obliged to remain will be quartered in a large field hospital established at a suitable place near the town, where I hope they will have all the comfort and receive all the attention and kindness to which they are so justly entitled. I cannot close this brief report without acknowledging the immense aid afforded by the Sanitary and Christian Commissions. The promptness, energy, and great kindness uniformly exhibited by these benevolent associations doubtless helped to save the lives of many, and gladdened the hearts of thousands, who hold their good and noble deeds in grateful remembrance. To Adams Express we are also greatly indebted for much liberality and kindness extended to the wounded at a time when they were most in need.

     Medical Inspector, U. S. Army.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 1, Page 25.  Adams Express, a company still in business today, was a messenger service for companies which had no doubt extended its services to wounded soldiers.


July 26, 1863 (Monday): The Matter of Substitutes and Equality

Charles Sumner

 BOSTON, July 26, 1863.

Colonel FRY:
MY DEAR SIR: It is reported that (African-American) persons are not received as substitutes for white persons under the conscript act. If this be so I am at a loss to understand by what authority.
It was a part of the glory of this act that it made no distinction of color. If any such distinction be made under it, I cannot consider it otherwise than an interpretation utterly without sanction. It would follow therefore, first, that a (African-American) substitute can be taken as well as a white substitute. Indeed, a substitute is a substitute whether black or white.  Second, that all persons drafted must have the same pay. Here again there can no distinction of color.

On ground of policy, it seems to be obvious that (African-American) substitutes should be encouraged. Give me the slave as soldier rather than his master. If not too late, I hope this matter will be carefully examined; but it never can be too late to give a proper interpretation to a most important statute.
     Believe me, dear sir, faithfully yours,


Official Records, Series III., Vol. 3, Part 1, Page 575.

Sumner was a radical republican senator, whose caning by South Carolina senator Preston Brooks in 1856 on the floor of the senate sparked even greater sectional animosity.  He supported Lincoln to an extent, but pursued his own agenda, notably that of a fierce prosecution of the war and strict support for equal rights.  Fry, to whom he writes, was in charge of the conscription program.  There was dispute as to whether white Americans could pay the $300 fee to exempt themselves from the draft by paying African-American substitutes.

July 25, 1863 (Sunday): Battle at Wapping Heights

Manassas Gap Battle-FaquierCivilWar.com

July 24, 1863-8 p. m.
(Received, via Warrenton, July 25, 4. 10 p. m.)
Major-General HALLECK,
General-in Chief:
     I last night telegraphed you that, after driving the enemy through Manassas Gap, the head of the army, consisting of the Third Corps, had reached within a few miles of Front Royal at sunset, and was in the presence of a considerable force of the enemy, with batteries in position. Prisoners taken belonged to the several corps of the Confederate Army, and reliable intelligence was obtained of the arrival of Ewell's corps from Winchester at the close of the engagement. It was not until late in the evening that the army debouched from the pass sufficiently to deploy any larger force than the Third Corps, though this corps was followed immediately by the Fifth and Second. During the night, the Twelfth and two divisions of the Sixth were ordered up, and it was my intention, as reported to you, to attack with my whole force, in the hope of separating the force of the enemy and capturing such portions as had not reached the passes. I regret to inform you that, on advancing this morning at daylight, the enemy had again disappeared, declining battle, and though an immediate advance was made and Front Royal occupied, nothing was seen of him but a rear guard of cavalry with a battery of artillery. I then ascertained that for two days he had been retreating with great celerity principally through Strasburg and Luray, sending through Chester Gap sufficient force to cover his flank and hold me in check in my advance through Manassas Gap. As evidence of the hurried manner in which the enemy's retreat was conducted, is the fact of his abandoning some 80 wounded in Front Royal without any supplies. My cavalry have been employed in harassing the enemy, having captured numerous prisoners and several herds of cattle and sheep. Finding the enemy entirely beyond my reach, I have withdrawn the army from Front Royal, through Manassas Gap, and shall concentrate it in the vicinity of Warrenton and Warrenton Junction for supplies and to establish a base of communication. The losses in yesterday's engagement are reported to amount to some 200 killed and wounded, * among the latter General Spinola. The enemy is believe to have gone Culpeper, and probably beyond.

      GEO. G. MEADE,

WASHINGTON, D. C., July 25, 1863-12. 30 p. m.
Major-General MEADE, Army of the Potomac:
    Your telegram of 10 p. m., 23d, is just received - the first communication from you for four or five days. The Quartermaster's and Commissary Departments have been prepared to send forward supplies, but were uncertain of the position of your army. Every possible effort has been made to send remounts to your cavalry, but the destruction of horses is enormous. Every serviceable horse in the country occupied should be impressed. They only serve for guerrillas.

    H. W. HALLECK,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 1, Pages 98-99.

On July 23, Meade ordered the III Corps, under Maj. Gen. William. H. French to cut off the retreating Confederate columns at Front Royal by forcing passage through Manassas Gap.  At first light, French began slowly pushing Walker’s Confederate brigade (Anderson’s division) back into the gap. About 4:30 pm, a strong Union attack drove Walker’s men until they were reinforced by Rodes’s division and artillery. By dusk, the poorly coordinated Union attacks were abandoned. During the night, Confederate forces withdrew into the Luray Valley. On July 24, the Union army occupied Front Royal, but Lee’s army was safely beyond pursuit (NPS).  This is also know as the Battle of Wapping Heights and the fighting occurred near Linden, east of Front Royal.

July 24, 1863 (Saturday): Rosecrans Job At Risk

Site of Wartime Elk River Bridge Estill Springs (civilwaralbum.com-Paul Stanfill)

Washington, D. C., July 24, 1863.
Major-General ROSECRANS, Nashville:
     GENERAL: The tone of some of your replies to my dispatches lately would indicate that you thought I was unnecessarily urging you forward. On the contrary, I have deemed it absolutely necessary, not only for the country but also for your own reputation, that your army should remain no longer inactive. The patience of the authorities here has been completely exhausted, and if I had not repeatedly promised to urge you forward, and begged for delay, you would have been removed from the command. It has been said that you are as inactive as was General Buell, and the pressure for your removal has been almost as strong as it has been in his case. I am well aware that people at a distance do not appreciate the obstacles and difficulties which they would see if nearer by; but, whether well founded or without any foundation at all, the dissatisfaction really exists, and I deem it my duty, as a friend, to represent it to you truly and fairly; and I think I ought to do so, if for no other reason, because it was at my earnest solicitations that you were given the command.
     Yours, truly,

    H. W. HALLECK,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 23, Part 2, Page 552.

The Tullahoma Campaign consisted of a series of minor battles in an area 50 miles of so southeast of Nashville.  Heavy rains through the last week of June stifled Rosecrans' attempts to exploit advantages gained and on the 30th Bragg retreated behind the Tennessee River destroying  the bridges over the flooded Elk River.  This set the stage for the Chickamauga campaign.  Rosecrans remained in command perhaps only because the administration was more frustrated with Meade for not pursuing Lee effectively after Gettysburg and because events in the west were so generally favorable.

July 23, 1863 (Friday): 1/4 Pound of Bacon A Day

Lucious Northrop (NPS.gov)

Richmond, Va., July 23, 1863.
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding Army of Northern Virginia:
   GENERAL: As preliminary to the present letter, I inclose for your perusal a copy* of one written to Colonel Cole, when the ration of salt meat was, at your repeated instance, reduced to one-half pound, the Secretary of War having refused to fix decidedly on the quarter pound, as I urged. My last conversation with you respecting subsistence stores terminated by your stating substantially that the respensibility in that direction did not rest on you. There is, in my judgment, no isolating of responsibility in any of the machinery of war as a means of defense where loss of parts of territory within which supplies alone can be got diminishes chances of supply and increases difficulties. While I do not feel troubled by any responsibility except that in foro conscientia, I cannot satisfy myself therein without the above statement, and letting a man, whose views were so influential in preventing what I believed necessary, understand my present views of the situation of his army in respect to the changes of continued subsistence on the scale now existing. General Bragg's army since leaving Kentucky has draw its supplies chiefly from the reserves of Atlanta. These drafts have been of such magnitude that there is of bacon but a small amount left, about 1,800,000 pounds; there is but about 500,000 pounds here. It is quite certain that want awaits both armies, even on the supposition that our efforts to import form England are far more successful than heretofore. Not one of the contract to import form the North has been fruitful. A short time ago, failing to obtain from the Secretary of War authority to reduce the ration to one-quarter pound, I got his agreement to place the ration at one-third of a pound when not in actual movemetn, allowing one-half pound when at hard labor or on the march. I shall urge him now to make a further reduction of the one-third to one-fourth and the one-half to one-third. I write to inform you of the actual circumstances and those impending, and propose for your consideration the propriety of keeping your army on the most rigid construction of this rule.
     I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     L. B. NORTHROP,
    Commissary-General of Subsistence.

*Not Found

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 1, Page 738.

Northrup was the very definition of a petty functionary.  Realize this is a Colonel writing to the General in command of the most powerful army of the Confederacy and you get a sense of why he was characterized as "peevish, obstinate, condescending, and fault-finding" by one of his critics.  His one ace card was his relationship with Jefferson Davis.  He was inept at his job, unfeeling toward the soldiers he was charged with subsisting, and imperious and tone deaf in relationships.  Davis' refusal to remove him lead to the Confederate Congress passing bills for his removal (in 1865) and he was arrested at wars end for his failure to provide adequate food to Union prisoners. 

July 22, 1863 (Thursday): Custer Reports In

Goose Creek Bridge (Ashby's Gap Turnpike) Virginiaplaces.org

HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, CAVALRY CORPS, Upperville, Va., July 22, 1863-10 a. m.
Major-General Pleasonton,
Commanding Cavalry Corps:
    One of my officers, from a position on the mountain, near Ashby's Gap, has been enabled, with a glass, to see large columns of troops in the valley beyond, all moving toward Front Royal. An immense train was observed going in the direction of Front Royal, and afterward was seen going into park at Front Royal. I have directed my signal officer to take his post at the station referred to and will immediately report any information I may receive.
     Very respectfully, &c.,

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

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 741.

Custer had just been appointed a division commander.  His forces were among those attempting to provide Meade with more exact information on the whereabouts and intentions of Lee's army corps.  It is likely the forces he sighted were those of Longstreet.  It was undoubtedly a source of frustration to Lincoln that, after having allowed Lee back across the Potomac after Gettysburg without another battle, Meade now was not even fully possessed of knowledge of his whereabouts. 

July 21, 1863 (Wednesday): Rebuilding A Battered Army

President Jefferson Davis

July 21, 1863.
General R. E. Lee,
Commanding Army of Norther Virginia:
    GENERAL: Yours of the 16th was duly received. The letter of the 7th, of which you send a copy, was, after much delay, also received.
     No official account of the casualties in your army having been received, I have continued to hope that the reports exaggerated your loss. If, however, it be approximately as great as stated, it will, I suppose, involve reorganization. When companies have been reduced to squads and regiments to little more than companies, without any immediate prospect of recruiting them, it may be better to disband some, and enroll the men for such as are retained. If the law permitted, a better arrangement could be made by consolidation and selection of the officers; but this was discussed by the Congress and rejected. The number of brigades and divisions might be reduced by causing more regiments to be put in a brigade, and, where there is any prospect of filling up the companies, this would be the kinder proceeding, as maintaining names associated with gallant deeds, and saving officers from discharge because their hard service had swept away their commands.
     In some instances I can readily imagine that the efficiency of a company, or even of a regiment, may have been destroyed by the loss of the commander and a few others on whom the discipline and confidence of the rest depended. There may be exceptional cases where the remnant could, if sent away, draw to it recruits which otherwise would go elsewhere. By such reflections I have been led to call your attention to the propriety of either adopting a general plan, or deciding each case on its merits, so as to avoid the embarrassment of applying any general rule where there are so many exceptions. Archer`s brigade, previously small, is reported as nearly annihilated. The Tennessee regiments have never been recruited, and it may be that, if too small to be valuable here, they could get men if sent to their former home in East Tennessee, and then return, or in the meantime be exchanged for another brigade. I mention the case not to express an opinion, but to illustrate my meaning as to exceptional conditions.
     General J. R. Davis, who is here, quite feeble, with indications of typhoid fever, informs me that his brigade on the first and third days at Gettysburg lost so heavily that the whole force remaining was less than 500. Unlike the other, nothing could be gained in this case by returning home, but something might be from being sent to the rear to recruit and reorganize. Wounded officers and men, sick officers and men, as they return will add not only to the numbers but also to the proper reorganization consequent upon the loss of many of the best officers of the command.
      General Beauregard regards it as necessary to act on the defensive, and has repulsed the assault of the enemy on Battery Wagner. The success of the enemy on the Mississippi will enable them to send as many troops as are needed, and unless the climate protects us, it is to be feared that their artillery and labor will at last give them the island and the best position for breaching Fort Sumter.
      General Johnston is retreating on the east side of Pearl River, and I can only learn from him of such vague purposes as were unfolded when he held his army before Richmond. He seems to anticipate
an attack on Mobile, and it is certainly not improbable, unless General E. K. smith can keep them occupied in Lower Louisiana.
     Yesterday it was reported that the enemy`s cavalry were moving on the railroad to Wilmington, from the direction of Greenville, and Spear`s cavalry is said to be again about Suffolk. The gunboats have gone lower down the river.  General Dix and General Keyes are reported to have gone to new York; Foster to be in command at Fort Monroe.
     With cordial regards, I am, very respectfully, yours.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Pages 1030-1031.

Gettysburg was certainly not an outright defeat of the Army of Northern Virginia but it was a battering of it.  Davis acknowledges this in mentioning the need for reorganization of units decimated by combat casualties.  The realization of the implications of the loss of Vicksburg are noted, in that forces dedicated to the defeat of that bastion are now available to apply against tasks in the east.  There is also a candid estimation of Johnston's activities, in the remarks about "vague purposes as were unfolded when he held his army before Richmond."  The outlook for the Confederacy, while not hopeless, has turned more grim.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 20, 1863 (Tuesday): Defending Charleston

Battery Wagner
July 20, 1863.
Brigadier General R. S. RIPLEY,
Commanding First Military District, Charleston, S. C.:
     GENERAL: The batteries from Shell Point to Fort Johnson being nearly completed, and some of the guns in position, it becomes necessary to guard them strongly at night with infantry. The same must be done with regard to the new lines of batteries from Legare's Point toward the extremity of the eastern lines on James Island. Everything must be put in readiness for all those batteries to open at a moment's notice.
The accumulation, last night, of the enemy's barges, with armed men, among the fleet, would seem to indicate one of two things - either to re-enforce his troops on Morris Island for another attack, by landing a strong party between Batteries Wagner and Gregg, or to make an attempt on Sullivan's Island.
     The renewal of the shelling to-day with such vigor would incline me to believe that the first will be attempted, but prudence demands that we should guard against both; hence, I beg that you should adopt all the necessary measures to frustrate their designs.
     Respectfully, your obedient servant,

     General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 28, Part 2, Page 212.

The attack on Battery Wagner, immortalized in the movie "Glory" had taken place on the 18th and Union forces remained in position to move against the defenses of Charleston.  Beauregard had done a skillful job of preparing his fortifications against such an attack, his forces were stretched. 

July 19, 1863 (Monday): Lee On The Defensive

July 19, 1863.
Lieutenant General JAMES LONGSTREET,
Commanding Corps:
    GENERAL: On reaching Millwood, should nothing occur to arrest your progress or render it advisable for you to cross Berry's Ferry and occupy Ashby's Gap, I request you to proceed next day to Front Royal, cross the mountain at Chester Gap, and take some position at the headquarters of the Rappahannock, in Fauquier or Rappahannock Counties, as you may select. Should you be able to subsist your army in that position by drawing flour in that region of country, and not hear that the enemy is pushing on on the route to Richmond, I desire you will halt there. Should you hear they the enemy is advancing on to Richmond, you will proceed by the most direct route, and place yourself behind the Rapidan. You had better send forward and see what flour you can obtain on your route, until you can come within the reach of the railroad. I have heard that the railroad bridge over the Rapidan has been carried away by the freshet. It was immediately ordered to be rebuilt, but it is probable that you can get nothing by railroad north of the Rapidan Station. Colonel Cole has sent an officer up to New Market and Harrisonburg to load some empty wagons in that region with flour and take them across to the Sperryville Valley. These may reach there in time to supply you, provided you cannot obtain enough elsewhere. I need not suggest to you the importance of causing every attention to be paid to your artillery and wagon horses, for, as little or no grain can be procured, it will be impossible for them to stand hard work without the utmost care and relief from all superfluous weight. I have advised General Jones and General Robertson, who are picketing on the Shenandoah, to give you all information which may be of importance to you. Should I receive information which may render it necessary, A. P. Hill will follow you on Tuesday morning. Please give instructions to keep all the mills going in your route, so as to supply flour to the other troops. I have directed a pontoon bridge to be laid at Front Royal, and you had better send an officer forward to see its progress.
    Should you determine to cross at Ashby's Gap, you must order it to you.
    I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 1024-1025.

Now that Lee was back across the Potomac he was still faced with challenges, foremost of which was supplying his army.  He was returning to an area which was still without much in the way of subsistence for man nor beast.  And he had to keep a sharp eye turned toward an enemy which might move directly on to Richmond and press him back and several points.  Here he is engaged in preparing for movement of Longstreet's Corp back to the Rappahannock.

July 18, 1863 (Sunday): The Draft Breeds Discontent

James Barnet Fry

PITTSBURG, PA., July 18, 1 863. (Received 8 p. m.)
    Some uneasiness is felt about a riotous spirit that is thought to exist. To be ready for any emergency I would like to have the battery and two three-months" regiments sent to West Virginia returned. A number of (African-American) men have been drafted and accept as substitutes. No instructions have been received as to their disposition. I think they ought to be got out of the city as soon as possible.

     W. T. H. BROOKS.

CAMP GILES Pottsville, Pa., July 18, 1863.
Colonel JAMES B. FRY,
Provost-Marshal-General of the United States:
    COLONEL: In my last communication to you I stated that there were from 4,000 to 5,000 men assembled to resist the draft. Since that time I have learned from reliable information that there are at least 10,000 men that can assemble within twenty-four hours time. My forces here at present will not exceed 150 men, which is entirely inadequate for the purpose they were designed for.
    The provost-marshal of the Twelfth District has made application for men. Captain Tower, the provost-marshal of this place, declines to grant the aid asked for.
     In view of the above state of affairs in this locality, I most respectfully ask for instructions in regard to the same.
     I have the honor to remain, your obedient servant,

      Major, U. S. Invalid Corps, Commanding Post.

Refer to Colonel Bomford to use the force so as to complete one job at a time in troublesome districts.
J. B. F.

Official Records, Series III., Vol. 3, Part 1, Pages 543-544.

After the great victory at Gettysburg there was still much opposition to the draft.  Force had to be employed throughout the North to break up opposition which was developing against the draft.  There was great sentiment against the draft in immigrant communities and it often ignited animosity against African-Americans.

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 17, 1863 (Saturday): Change of Command

General James S. Wadsworth

       No. 316                                      Washington, July 17, 1863.

   VI.  Brig. Gen. J. s. Wadsworth, U. S. Volunteers, is relieved from duty with the Army of the Potomac, and has leave of absence until further orders.


   By order of the Secretary of War:

   Assistant Adjustment-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 717.

Wadsworth performed admirably at Gettysburg on the first day in helping blunt the initial Confederate assaults west of town.  But his command was basically wrecked and he undoubtedly understood it would require considerable refitting before resuming action.  A civilian before the war, he choose to temporarily step back from the war for a time, but would return to command and be killed in the battle of the Wilderness the next year.

July 16, 1863 (Friday): Other-Wise Well

Digital Gallery-NYPL.org.

Bunker Hill, July 16, 1863

Hon. James A. Seddon:
     Secretary of War, Richmond, Va:
     SIR: I have received the communication sent me by your brother, Major [John] Seddon, and shall endeavor to carry out your views.  He will inform you of the arrival of the army at this point; it is a little foot-sore, and in much need of shoes for men and horses; other-wise well.  I expect a supply of shoes of both kinds to-day, which will afford some relief, but not enough.  Clothing is also required.  The labors of the march have been increased by the constant rains, muddy roads, &c.
    I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 1011.

In retrospect Gettysburg seems an enormous calamity to the Confederate cause.  Yet the sense of that does not pervade the writings of Confederate officers immediately after the fact. An awareness of the deficits in manpower the South was accumulating with each battle is mentioned at other times by Lee, but not in the aftermath of the battle.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 15, 1863 (Thursday): Lincoln on Meade

Abraham Lincoln

War Department,
Washington, July 15, 1683--9 a. m.

Hon. Simon Cameron, Harrisburg, Pa.: 
   Your dispatch of yesterday received.  Lee was already across the river when you sent it.
   I would give much to be relieved of the impression that Meade, Couch, Smith, and all, since the battle of Gettysburg, have striven ony to get Lee over the river, without another fight.  Please tell me, if you know, who was the one corps commander who was for fighting, in the council of war on Sunday night.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 703.

Meade had fought ably and well at Gettysburg, but he understood the toll battle takes on troops and was reluctant to press Lee too closely.  Lincoln believed that any damage Meade labored under, Lee must also, and wanted an attack pressed promptly.  The President would make up his mind more quickly on Meade as commander than he did his predecessors.  The change in command to Grant became more inevitable by the day as Meade did not attack Lee.

July 14, 1863 (Wednesday): Meade Too Slow For Cameron's Taste

Simon Cameron

Harrisburg, PA, July 14, 1863.
          (Received 10 p. m.)
Hon. Abraham Lincoln,
       President of the United States:
   I left the Army of the Potomac yesterday, believing that the decision of General Meade's council of war on Saturday night, not to attack the rebels, would allow them to escape.  His army is in fine spirits and eager for battle.  They will win, if they get a chance.
    General Couch has a fine army between Carlisle and Greencastle, but will move no further south without orders, under the strong belief that his duty is to guard the Susquehanna.  In my opinion, the Susquehanna needs no guard.  I have urged him from the beginning to join Meade.  I hope in God that you will put forth your authority and order every man in arms between the Susquehanna and Potomac to unite with Meade, so that he may have no reason for delay in giving battle before the falling of the flood allow Lee to escape.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 700.

Cameron was the consummate political operative.  He had served Lincoln as Secretary of War before Stanton, but was then consigned to ambassador to Russia.  But he still had powerful political connections in Pennsylvania.  Here he stokes the fires against Meade by decrying his slow movement against Lee and decision not to attack his entrenched position at Williamsport.

July 13, 1863 (Tuesday): Stuart Back In Good Graces

Ford at Williamsport (jhu.edu).

July 13, 1863--4.15 p.m.

Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart,
      Commanding, &c:
    GENERAL:  As arranged this afternoon, I wish you to place your cavalry in position before night, so as to relieve the infantry along the whole extent of their lines when they retire, and take the place of their sharpshooters when withdrawn.  They will be withdrawn about 12 o'clock to-night.  Direct your men to be very vigilant and bold, and not let the enemy discover that our lines have been vacated.  At daylight withdraw your skirmishers, and retire with all your force to cross the river.  Have officers stationed at the fords, so as to direct your men immediately upon arrival, and make every arrangement to get your command over in safety.  The cavalry that occupies Longstreet's line might cross at the bridge if the officer in command will take measures to see that the bridge is clear at day-light.  The rest had better cross at the ford, I think but, but you may take any course that you may think best.  I know it to be a difficult, as well as delicate, operation to cover this arm and then withdraw your command with safety, but I rely upon your good judgment, energy, and boldness to accomplish it, and trust you may be as successful as you have been on former occasions.  After crossing, continue to cover the rear of the army with part of your force, and with the rest move forward to our front, where you will receive further orders.
   Very respectfully, &c,

    R. E. LEE

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 1001.

If Lee was vexed with Stuart over his performance during the Gettysburg campaign you would not be able to discern it from this memo.  Stuart has the post of honor, covering the withdrawal of the army at Williamsport.

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 12, 1863 (Monday): The Enemy Strongly Posted

Williamsport, Maryland

[HAGERSTOWN, MD.,] July 12, 1863-10. 30 a. m.
General MEADE:
     Our infantry occupies the town. One brigade of cavalry on the right and another on the left of town. General Wright's column of the Sixth Corps moved up from Funkstown, and his advance is within one-half mile of town, on our left.
     The enemy had two pieces of artillery near the town, which they withdrew after firing a few shots. They have a battery of 20-pounder Parrotts in position on the Williamsport road, about 1 1/2 miles from town, which fired a few shots. The battery is supported by infantry, and the road is lined with skirmishers.
The best news I can find from Union men is that the enemy has taken position, his right resting on the Potomac, near Williamsport, his left within 1 1/2 miles from here, Longstreet commanding the right, Hill the center, Ewell the left, Stuart's cavalry covering the flank.
    All agree that no ammunition has been received by the rebels, and the way they received our attack shows that they are saving their powder. They have, however, plenty of provisions.
    We captured wheat enough in one of the mills to feed the army a week. Shall await further orders.

     O. O. HOWARD.

July 12, 1863-4. 30 p. m. (Received 8 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,

    Upon advancing my right flank across the Antietam this morning, the enemy abandoned Funkstown and Hagerstown, and my line now extends from the latter place to Fair Play. The advance of the cavalry on the right showed the enemy to be strongly posted on the Hagerstown and Williamsport road, about 1, 5 miles from Hagerstown. On the left, the cavalry advance showed them to be in position back of Saint James' College and at Downsville. Their position runs along the high ground from Downsville to near Hagerstown. This position they are intrenching. Batteries are established on it. It is my intention to attack them to-morrow, unless something intervenes to prevent it, for the reason that delay will strengthen the enemy and will not increase my force.

 Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 1, Page 91, Part 3, Page 992.

The climactic battle of the Gettysburg campaign would never come.  Lee's position was too strong and the attack on the 13th would not come.  It is very possible Lee would have preferred to be attacked, occupying a position of great strength.  Meade would not oblige, earning the displeasure of the President. 

July 11, 1863 (Sunday): Preparing for Battle at Williamsport

Williamsport MD (steencannons.com)

SANDY HOOK, July 11, 1863-11. 45 a. m.
General G. K. WARREN:
     Lieutenant Mackenzie is absent with General Naglee, and I opened your dispatch to him.
     The Potomac above the railroad bridge at this point has fallen 4 feet within the past forty-eight hours, and is still falling slowly. It is still 4 to 5 feet above the stage of water which renders if fordable here.
The troops of the Engineer Brigade under my command now here have been constantly at work or making forced marches ever since the army left Falmouth, and I take it for granted they are liable at any moment to be called up for extraordinary exertions. Is it desirable that they should be kept incessantly at work here by General Naglee upon work not indispensable to the efficiency and success of the army?

    Lieutenant-Colonel, Volunteer Engineers.

Antietam Creek, July 11, 1863-4 p. m.
(Received 5. 30 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    The line of this army was advanced cautiously this morning in the direction stated in yesterday's dispatch, and at this time its right rests on the road from Smoketown to Funkstown, about 2 miles from the latter, the line crossing the Antietam, passing through Jones' Cross-Roads, the left being near Marsh Run. Strong reconnaissances of infantry are being pushed out toward Funkstown, on the left bank of the Antietam, toward the same point on the right bank, and on the road from Sharpsburg to Funkstown. At the same time, cavalry force is pushing out on the left, on the Boonsborough and Williamsport road, and on the right toward Hagerstown from Chewsville, and Leitersburg. The cavalry on the Chewsville road advanced without opposition to within a short distance, about 1, 5 miles, of Hagerstown. The cavalry in the direction of Leitersburg and that advancing toward Williamsport have not yet been heard from. Everything indicates that the enemy is massing between Hagerstown and Williamsport, and from various sources it is stated they are intrenching. From the representations of General Spinola that the nine months' men of his command could not be relied upon, as their time had nearly expired, and my own experience of troops under such circumstances, I have directed the regiments of his brigade to be posted in the rear. Troops of this character can be of little service unless they are pledged to serve beyond their terms of enlistment; and the supplies they consume and the space they occupy on the lines of communication can be illy spared; besides, their presence may have an injurious effect upon other troops. I do not, therefore, desire to be re-enforced by such troops unless they have pledged themselves to remain beyond their terms of service and until I can dispense with their services.

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

July 12, 1863 - 5. 30 p. m.
Major-General STUART:
    GENERAL: Colonel [A. L.] Long has returned from a survey of our position occupied by the corps of Longstreet and Hill. He has discovered the enemy massing their troops in their front, and thinks their principal attack on our lines will be between the Williamsport and Boonsborough road and the Frederick road, embracing both said roads.
    He has not been in Ewell's front (has just gone), but from your reports and those of General Ewell, there seems to be no enemy in that quarter. He thinks the attack will be made early to-morrow morning. Should it be, and there be nothing to occupy you, I wish you to bear down on the enemy's right, endeavoring to select good positions with your horse artillery, to harass and retard him. You will have, however, to keep a good lookout on the Chambersburg and Greencastle road, and not leave our left uncovered.
    I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 1, Page 90, Part 3, Pages 646, 998.

Lee was in a solid position.  The river was receding behind him and his entrenched position was strong.  Meade was preparing for an attack the next morning. 

July 10, 1863 (Saturday): "Beware of Partial Combat"

Pursuit of Lee's Army (Forbes)

July 10, 1863-1 p. m.

(Received 3. 10 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    The information received to-day indicates that the enemy occupy positions extending from the Potomac, near Falling Waters, through Downsville to Funkstown, and to the northeast of Hagerstown, Ewell's corps being to the northeast of Hagerstown, Longstreet at Funkstown, and A. P. Hill on their right. These positions they are said to be intrenching. I am advancing on a line perpendicular to the line from Hagerstown to Williamsport, and the army will this evening occupy a position extending from the Boonsborough and Hagerstown road, at a point 1 mile beyond Beaver Creek, to Bakersville, near the Potomac. Our cavalry advanced this morning, drove in the enemy's cavalry on the Boonsborough pike to within a mile of Funkstown, when the enemy displayed a large force, and opened a fire from heavy guns, 20-pounders. I shall advance cautiously on the same line to-morrow until I can develop more fully the enemy's force and position, upon which my future operations will depend. General Smith is still at Waynesborough. A dispatch was received from him at that place this morning. Instructions similar to those of yesterday were sent to him.

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

July 10, 1863-9 p. m.
Major-General MEADE,
Army of the Potomac:
    I think it will be best for you to postpone a general battle till you can concentrate all your forces and get up your reserves and re-enforcements. I will push on the troops as fast as they arrive. It would be well to have staff officers at the Monocacy, to direct the troops arriving where to go, and to see that they are properly fitted out. They should join you by forced marches. Beware of partial combats. Bring up and hurl upon the enemy all your forces, good and bad.

    H. W. HALLECK.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 1, Page 89.

The story of Gettysburg is so entrenched in our memory the retreat from there is a much smaller part of the narrative than is warranted.  Other than the excellent "Retreat from Gettysburg" by Kent Masterson Brown, little has been written.  But at the time it was not only possible, but anticipated by both sides, there would be a battle on the road south.  Lee was entrenching, waiting for the Potomac to fall, Meade cautiously pursuing.  While Lincoln continued to press for a battle, Halleck advised against partial combat.

July 9, 1863 (Friday): Port Hudson Falls

General Frank Gardner

JULY 9, 1863.
    Port Hudson surrendered yesterday at 6 a.m. Our provisions were exhausted and it was impossible for us to cut our way out, on account of the proximity of the enemy's works.
    Our casualties during the siege are 200 killed and between 300 and 400 wounded. About 200 men have died from sickness. At the time of surrender,there were only 2,500 men for duty. I came out through the enemy's lines about an hour after the surrender, and tried to ascertain the strength of General Banks' army, but did not succeed; but from may own observation, I am led to believe his force to be 25,000 or 30,000 men.

    C. M. JACKSON,

    Acting Asst. Insp. General to Major General Frank. Gardner.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 26, Part 1, Page 144.

The surrender of Port Hudson is usually overlooked due to the fall of Vicksburg on the 4th.  But it was another significant body of troops surrendered and another obstacle on the Mississippi removed.  With the surrender, the Mississippi truly once more flowed "unvexed to the sea."   Ironically, just as Vicksburg was surrendered by the Philadelphian Pemberton, Frank Gardner was a native of New York City.  Gardner was highly regarded by his troops, but sometimes is criticized for the conditions at Port Hudson during the siege.  If anything, soldiers there had even fewer supplies and rations than those in Vicksburg.

July 8, 1863 (Thursday): "Forces sufficient to make your victory certain."

Major General John Adams Dix

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, July 8, 1863-12. 30 p. m.
Harrisburg, Pa.:
     Your dispatch of this morning to the Secretary of War is before me. The forces you speak of will be of no imaginable service if they cannot go forward with a little more expedition. Lee is now passing the Potomac faster than the forces you mention are passing Carlisle. Forces now beyond Carlisle to be joined by regiments still at Harrisburg, and the united force again to join Pierce somewhere, and the whole to move down the Cumberland Valley, will, in my unprofessional opinion, be quite as likely to capture the "man in the moon" as any part of Lee's army.

      A. LINCOLN.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,
WHITE HOUSE, VA., July 8, 1863.
     SIR: Thank God for giving us Vicksburg! I am breaking up here to-day, but with great regret. I have planked over the railroad bridge, and can pass artillery and supply trains, controlling the whole country between the Pamunkey and Rappahannock. Richmond and the neighboring counties are in a ferment. The moment I leave, the troops there will be ready to operate elsewhere. If Lee is broken up, and I can have 20, 000 men, I can go into Richmond. I have not delayed a compliance with your order, but hoped that changed relations might keep me here.

    JOHN A. DIX,

July 8, 1863-3 p. m. (Received 3. 20 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    My information as to the crossing of the enemy does not agree with that just received in your dispatch. His whole force is in position between Funkstown and Williamsport. I have just received information that he has driven my cavalry force in front of Boonsborough. My army is and has been making forced marches, short of rations, and barefooted. One corps marched yesterday and last night over 30 miles. I take occasion to repeat that I will use my utmost efforts to push forward this army.

    GEO. G. MEADE,

WASHINGTON, D. C., July 8, 1863.
Major-General MEADE,
Army of the Potomac:
    Do not understand me as expressing any dissatisfaction; on the contrary, your army has done most nobly. I only wish to give you opinions formed from information received here. It is telegraphed from near Harper's Ferry that the enemy have been crossing for the last two days. It is also reported that they have a bridge across. If Lee's army is so divided by the river, the importance of attacking the part on this side is incalculable. Such an opportunity may never occur again. If, on the contrary, he has massed his whole force on the Antietam, time must be taken to also concentrate your forces. Your opportunities for information are better than mine. General Kelley was ordered some days ago to concentrate at Hancock and attack the enemy's right. General Brooks is also moving from Pittsburgh to re-enforce Kelley. All troops arriving from New York and Fort Monroe are sent directly to Harper's Ferry, unless your order differently. You will have forces sufficient to render your victory certain. My only fear now is that the enemy may escape by crossing the river.

    H. W. HALLECK,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 3, Part 1, Pages 612, 613,819 and Vol. 1, Page 85.

Lincoln was anxious to end the war.  It was not likely to happen the way he envisioned, but in fairness it was also true there was an opportunity to inflict further damage on Lee's army if a move was promptly executed.  Meanwhile, Dix had been ordered away from White House landing, but was in no hurry, believing he still had an opportunity to move on Richmond while Lee was away.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July 7, 1863 (Wednesday): Lee to Davis

Lee's Army at Williamsport

HAGERSTOWN, July 7, 1863.
    Mr. PRESIDENT: My letter of the 4th instant will have informed you of the unsuccessful issue of our final attack on the enemy in the rear of Gettysburg . Finding the position too strong to be carried, and, being much hindered in collecting necessary supplies for the army, by the numerous bodies of local and other troops which watched the passes, I determined to withdraw to the west side of the mountains . This has been safely accomplished with great labor, and the army is now in the vicinity of this place . One of my reason for moving in this direction, after crossing the mountains, was to protect our trains with the sick and wounded, which had been sent back to Williamsport, and which were threatened by the enemy's cavalry . Our advance reached here yesterday afternoon in time to support our cavalry in repulsing an attempt of the enemy to reach our trains . Before leaving Gettysburg, such of the sick and wounded as could be removed were sent back to Williamsport, but the trains that have interfered so much with our general movements have so swollen the Potomac as to render it unfordable, and they are still on the north side. Arrangements are being made to ferry them across to- day. We captured at Gettysburg about 6, 000 prisoners, besides the wounded that remained in our hands after the engagements of the 1st and 2d. Fifteen hundred of these prisoners and the wounded were paroled, bud I suppose that under the late arrangements these paroles will not be regarded. The rest have been sent to Williamsport, where they will cross. We were obliged to leave a large number of our wounded who were unable to travel, and many arms that had been collected on the field at Gettysburg. In addition to the general officers killed or wounded, of whom I sent you a list in my former letter, I have to mention General Semmes, General G. T. Anderson, Pettigrew, and General J. M. Jones, wounded; General Archer was made prisoner. General Heth is again in command. In sending back our trains in advance, that of General Ewell was cut the enemy's cavalry, and a number of wagon, said to be about 40 were captured. The enemy's cavalry force, which attempt to reach our cavalry trains yesterday afternoon, was a large one. They came as far as Hagerstown, where they were attacked by General Stuart, and driven back rapidly toward Sharpsburg. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

      R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 2, Page 299.

Returns were probably not yet completely in, or Lee would have been able to tell Davis the terrible toll taken upon the Army of Northern Virginia.  Lee betrays no particular concern about the crossing, despite the river being up and the Army of the Potomac rapidly coming on before him.

July 6, 1863 (Tuesday): The President Is Dissatisfied

President Lincoln

SOLDIERS' HOME, [Washington,] July 6, 1863-7 p. m.
Major-General HALLECK:
    I left the telegraph office a good deal dissatisfied. You know I did not like the phrase, in Orders, Numbers 68, I believe, "Drive the invaders from our soil. " Since that, I see a dispatch from General French, saying the enemy is crossing his wounded over the river in flats, without saying why he does not stop it, or even intimating a thought that it ought to be stopped. Still later, another dispatch from General Pleasonton, by direction of General Meade, to General French, stating that the main army is halted because it is believed the rebels are concentrating "on the road toward Hagerstown, beyond Fairfield, " and is not move until it is ascertained that the rebels intend to evacuate Cumberland Valley.
    These things all appear to me to be connected with a purpose to cover Baltimore and Washington, and to get the enemy across the river again without a further collision, and they do not appear connected with a purpose to prevent his crossing and to destroy him. I do fear the former purpose is acted upon and the latter is rejected.
    If you are satisfied the latter purpose is entertained and is judiciously pursued, I am content. If you are not so satisfied, please look to it.

     Yours, truly,
     A. LINCOLN.

Gettysburg, July 6, 1863-2 p. m. (Received 9. 20 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    Yesterday I sent General Sedgwick with the Sixth Corps in pursuit of the enemy toward Fairfield, and a brigade of cavalry toward Cashtown. General Sedgwick's report indicating a large force of the enemy in the mountains, I deemed it prudent to suspend the movement to Middletown until I could be certain the enemy were evacuating the Cumberland Valley. I find great difficulty in getting reliable information, but from all I can learn I have reason to believe the enemy is retreating, very much crippled, and hampered with his trains. General Sedgwick reported that the gap at Fairfield was very formidable, and would enable a small force to hold my column in check for a long time. I have accordingly resumed the movement to Middletown, and I expect by to-morrow night to assemble the army in that vicinity. Supplies will be then provided, and as soon as possible I will cross South Mountain, and proceed in search of the enemy. Your dispatch requiring me to assume the general command of the forces in the field under General Couch has been received. I know nothing of the position or strength of his command, excepting the advance under General Smith, which I have ordered here, and which I desire should furnish a necessary force to guard this place while the enemy is in the vicinity. A brigade of infantry and one of cavalry, with two batteries, will be left to watch the enemy at Fairfield, and follow them whenever they evacuate the gap. I shall send general instructions to General Couch to move down the Cumberland Valley as far as the enemy evacuates it, and keep up communications with me; but from all the information I can obtain, I do not rely on any active co-operation in battle with this force. If I can get the Army of the Potomac in hand in the Valley, and the enemy have not crossed the river, I shall give him battle, trusting, should misfortune overtake me, that a sufficient number of my force, in connection with what you have in Washington, would reach that place so as to render it secure. General Trimble, of the Confederate army, was to-day found wounded just outside of Gettysburg. General [J. L.] Kemper was found mortally wounded on the road to Fairfield, and a large number of wounded, estimated as several thousand. General Heth, Wade Hampton, Jenkins, and Pender are reported wounded. The losses
of the enemy were no doubt very great, and he must be proportionately crippled. My headquarters will be here to-night, and to-morrow I expect to be at Frederick. My cavalry have been attacking the enemy on both flanks, inflicting as much injury as possible.

     GEO. G. MEADE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Pages 567, 582.

Lincoln is so idolized by historians his very real deficiencies as commander in chief are overlooked.  The butcher's bill of 23,000 Union soldiers killed, wounded, and missing was not considered fully paid by the President because Meade failed to accomplish what any general in the war achieved, namely the complete destruction of his opponents army.  Meade could not be certain exactly where Lee was, so used up was his cavalry.  It was likely Lee would be defending the gaps in force. Lincoln as portrayed by today's historians and as represented in the letter to Meade are two different figures.  The President could be all his admirers claim, but he could also be petulant and short sighted.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 5, 1863 (Monday): Lee's Bad Example

River Crossing at Williamsport

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Gettysburg, July 5, 1863-8 p. m.
    GENERAL: West left here this morning. When he arrived here last night, the enemy was apparently in full force before my center and left, but had withdrawn from my right. I knew he was in a strong position, awaiting my attack, which I declined to make, in consequence of the bad example he had set me in ruining himself attacking a strong position. At the same time, I left a little nervous about your position, as Couch telegraphed you were going to Cashtown, where I could not have helped you. I therefore detained West till morning, when we found the enemy had retired on the Cashtown and Fairfield roads. I then told West you could safely join me by keeping a little to the west.
    My instructions to Couch were to cross and make a demonstration in my favor, always looking to his return to the Susquehanna in case of disaster to me or other cause requiring it. I have never given him any other orders, and I do not like to run the risk of taking his troops away from the position that may be so important to hold. After I found the strength of your command, and its proximity, in consideration of my losses, I thought I would order you to join me, but if you consider your command essential to the defense of the Susquehanna, you had better return after I leave here. I say this because Couch writes he has now only men to guard the fords, and seems to be nervous.
    One of your messengers that arrived this p. m. I sent back, asking you to come forward in person, as I should like to see you. As I understand you are 12 or 14 miles from here, I can hardly expect you. Should you arrive with the intention of joining me, I will, in case I am not here, leave orders for your guidance.
     Respectfully, yours,

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

P. S. -I am not able to say what Lee is going to do, but expect he is off for the Potomac or the lower end of the Valley; he may, however, remain behind the mountains.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 539.

Meade could not be sure what Lee's intentions were, but he was correct in thinking he would be headed for the Potomac.  The pursuit, or lack of it, of Lee would become Meade's undoing with Lincoln.  Meade's comment regarding Lee's bad example attacking a strong position reflected a consensus of opinion which formed early.

July 4, 1863 (Sunday): The Union Celebrates Twin Victories

Union Warships at Vicksburg

July 4, 1863.
Major-General GRANT:
    MY DEAR GENERAL: The telegraph has just announced to me that Vicksburg is ours; its garrison will march out, stack arms, and return within their lines as prisoners of war, and that you will occupy the city only with such troops as you have designated in orders. I can hardly contain myself. Surely will I not punish any soldier for being "unco happy" this most glorious anniversary of the birth of a nation, whose sire and farther was a Washington. Did I not know the honesty, modesty, and purity of your nature, I would be tempted to follow the examples of my standard enemies of the press in indulging in wanton flattery; but as a man and soldier, and ardent friend of yours, I warn you against the incense of flattery that will fill our land from one extreme to the other. Be natural and yourself, and this glittering flattery will be as the passing breeze of the sea on a warm summer day. To me the delicacy with which you have treated a brave but deluded enemy is more eloquent than the most gorgeous oratory of an Everett.
    This is a day of jubilee, a day of rejoicing to the faithful, and I would like to hear the shout of my old and patient troops; but I must be a Gradgrind-I must have facts, knocks, and must go on. Already are my orders out to give one big huzza and sling the knapsack for new fields. Tuttle will march at once to Messinger's, Parke to Birdsong, and I will shift my headquarters to Fox's. McArthur will clear the road of obstructions made against the coming of the unseen Johnston, and as soon as Ord and Steele's columns are out, I will push ahead. I want maps, but of course the first thing is to clear the Big Black River and get up on the high ground beyond, when we move according to developments. I did want rest, but I ask nothing until the Mississippi River is ours, and Sunday and 4th of July are nothing to Americans till the river of our greatness is free as God made it. Though in the background, as I ever wish to be in civil war, I feel that I have labored some to secure this glorious result.
     I am, with respect, your friend,

     W. T. SHERMAN.


Numbers 68.
July 4, 1863-4. 15 p. m.
The commanding general, in behalf of the country, thanks the Army of the Potomac for the glorious result of the recent operations.
    An enemy, superior in numbers, and flushed with the pride of a successful invasion, attempted to overcome and destroy this army. Utterly baffled and defeated, he has now withdrawn from the contest. The privations and fatigue the army has endured, and the heroic courage and gallantry it has displayed, will be matters of history, to be over remembered.
    Our task is not yet accomplished, and the commanding general looks to the army for greater efforts to drive from our soil every vestige of the presence of the invader. *
    It is right and proper that we should, on all suitable occasions, return our grateful thanks to the Almighty Disposer of events, that in the goodness of this providence He has thought fit to give victory to the cause of the just.
    By command of Major-General Meade:

    Assistant Adjutant-General.

*See Lincoln to Halleck, July 6, p. 566. 

July 4, 1863.
Brigadier General J. D. IMBODEN, Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: In pursuance of verbal directions given you last night, I desire you to take charge of the train belonging to this army, which I have directed to be assembled in the vicinity of Cashtown this afternoon.
I advise that you start the train at least by 5 p. m. to-day, and endeavor to push it through to Greencastle by to-morrow morning by the road turning off at Greenwood. Thence you can follow the direct road to Williamsport, where the train must be put across the Potomac at once, and advance beyond Falling Waters, whence it can proceed more leisurely to Winchester. It will be necessary to escort it beyond Martinsburg, at least as far as Bunker Hill. I have directed two batteries to report to you this afternoon, to accompany the train, so that you may have sufficient artillery to guard the front and rear, and distribute along at intervals, in order to repel any attack that may be made along the line by parties of the enemy. I advise that in turning off at Greenwood you have your scouts out on the Chambersburg road until the rear of your train has passed it, and that you also keep scouts out on your left toward Waynesborough. From Greencastle you had better send a scouting party through Hagerstown, and hold that place until the train shall have crossed the river. At the river you can post your artillery to hold the for, keeping out your scouts toward Hagerstown, Boonsborough, &c., until further orders. After the train has reached a place of safety, you can return to the Maryland side, taking position in front of Hagerstown, so as to keep open communications. I need not caution you as to preserving quiet and order in your train, secrecy of your movements, promptness and energy, and increasing vigilance on the part of yourself and officers. I inclose a letter to the commanding officer at Winchester, which I wish you would forward to him immediately upon crossing the river, unless you can find opportunity to send it securely before.
      Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

      R. E. LEE,

P. S. - I desire you to to turn back everybody you may meet on the road coming to join this army, to Falling Waters.

Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 24, Part 3, Page 472.  Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 594, 967, 968.

Twin victories of a singular nature give the Union cause reason to rejoice.  The North now controls the Mississippi River again and has repelled a much feared invasion.  Two footnotes-the term "unco happy" used by Sherman is a Scots expression regarding "uncouth" happiness, or that which is overly jubilliant.  Also, Grangrind was a character in the Dickens novel "Hard Times" who was noted for his devotion solely to profitable enterprise.  In the end of the Vicksburg campaign, Sherman sees greater work ahead.  Lee, headed west from Gettysburg is endeavoring to secure his retreat.