Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 31, 1863 (Sunday): Disciplining the Army

Major General George Sykes (Library of Congress)

Camp near Three-Mile Station, October 31, 1863.
    The commanding general is again compelled to call the attention of division, brigade, and regimental commanders to the frequent complaints made against the troops for depredating upon the inhabitants in the vicinity of the camps. The evil instead of being, put a stop to, seems to be daily increasing. It appears that the fields, gardens, poultry, and stock of scarcely any one are respected. The fault rests wholly with the officers, and either shows that they are unequal to the positions they occupy or that they are utterly unmindful of the excesses committed by the troops. Common humanity demands that the little possessed by women, children, and aged persons throughout the country we occupy should be secured to them. Reports of armed parties of marauders from this corps, numbering from 40 to 60, have been sent from headquarters Army of the Potomac, and, from the fact that a number of these robbers were fired upon by the provost guard of the Second Division, the reports are shown to be true.
     Company officers will hereafter daily inspect the messing of their companies and any meat, poultry, vegetables, or other property not a part of the army ration, will be required to be accounted for by the soldier in whose possession it may be found, and if improperly acquired, the offender will be brought at once before a field officer's court for trial. As most of the stragglers accompany or fall in with the trains all commissaries and quartermasters will make a like inspection daily of their departments for the same purpose, send to their regiments for trail all soldiers with plunder int heir possession, and stop the pay of civilian employes, &c., guilty of like disgraceful practices.
The commanding general expects and requires strict compliance with this order. Division commanders and the commanders of artillery will report weekly whether it has been enforced throughout their commands.
    It will be read at the head of every company to-day, and all men on detached duty, employes, &c., will be made acquainted with its provisions.
     By command of Major-General Sykes:

     FRED. T. LOCKE,
     Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 404.

Sykes had a distinguished record before and during the Civil War.  He was a no nonsense West Point graduate who had little tolerance for the behavior he describes on the part of his men.  Meade found him overly cautious, and after Grant came into the Army of the Potomac he weeded out some corp commanders, Sykes among them.  Sykes was sent west, perhaps to duties which more suited his idea of discipline. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 30, 1863 (Saturday): Bragg Explains The Trouble With Longstreet to Davis

General James Longstreet

MISSIONARY RIDGE, October 30, 1863.
Savannah, Ga.:
    On the night of 26th the enemy crossed a force to this side of river below Lookout Mountain and drove Lonsgtreet's outpost back. As soon as informed, I directed him to retake the position. Failing to do so during the day of 27th, I renewed the order at night, placing his two and Walker's division at his disposal, and directed the troops to move before daylight. The attack was not made up to 10 a. m., when Longstreet joined me on Lookout Mountain, where I went to witness. I learned no disposition were made for it. [At] 12 m. a column of the enemy, probably two brigades, appeared on the road from Bridgeport and formed a junction with the forces which had crossed. The cavalry on the left under Longstreet had given no notice of this move. That night (the 28th) Longstreet asked for another division as a support to his attacking column. It was given. He informed me he should attack with one brigade. I ordered him not to do so with less than a division. He moved a division to the vicinity, but attacked with one brigade, surprised the enemy and routed him, but he rallied on finding the small attacking force, drove it back with heavy loss, and secured his position. We have thus lost our important position on the left, and the enemy holds the railroad within six miles of Chattanooga, and from there, by dirt road and pontoon bridge, to the rear of his position. He has brought forward heavy re-enforcements by this route.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 566.

Longstreet had, by failing to use sufficient force in Lookout Valley to prevent Hazen's securing the Brown's Ferry landing, cost the Confederates a chance to starve out the Union force.  He then delayed obeying Bragg's positive orders to counterattack, and when he did employed only a part of his force when he could have used his entire corp and overwhelmed the Union force.  Afterwards, he blamed his own officers, and preferred charges against Evander Law (later dropped due to the needs of the service).  Those who would defend Longstreet, and lay his postwar reputation at the feet of "The Lost Cause Narrative", fail to consider that when he went West the same patterns of delay, poor deployment, and denial of responsibility went with him. 


Monday, October 28, 2013

October 29, 1863 (Friday): Night Battle at Wauhatchie

Wauhatchie Battlefield, Rowden Cabin Site (

Lookout Valley, Tennessee, October 29, 1863-1 a.m.
Major-General REYNOLDS,
Chief of Staff, Chattanooga:
    Major-General Hooker directs me to inform the major-general commanding that he has moved all his force to the assistance of General Geary, at Wauhatchie. No report has been received from General Geary, but heavy firing in that direction indicates that he has been attacked.
    Very respectfully,

     Major-General, Chief of Staff.

OCTOBER 29, 1863-1.15 a.m.
General THOMAS:
    Heavy fire raging between this and Wauhatchie.


OCTOBER 29, 1863-1.45 a.m.
General TURCHIN:
    Leave one regiment of your eight regiments in position and move the rest of the regiments down to the gorge, and go down there in person and take command of all the troops there. I will be at General Hazen's headquarters. You can communicate with me by signal from this [point] or by sending up the mountain.

     W. F. SMITH,

OCTOBER 29, 1863-2.20 a.m.
General THOMAS:
     A brisk engagement has been and is now going on in the vicinity of Wauhatchie, and General Hooker has moved part of his force down.

     W. B. HAZEN,

OCTOBER 29, 1863-2.30 a.m.
General THOMAS:
     Fight still raging furiously. Think we are being driven a little.

     W. C. WHITAKER,

Lookout Valley, October 29, 1863-3 a.m.
General WHITAKER and Colonel MITCHELL,
Commanding Officers of Brigades, near Brown's Ferry Bridge:
    Major-General Hooker directs me to say that, in accordance with instructions received from Major-   General Thomas, you would be ready to move to his support. He desires that you commands move up and report to him.
    Very respectfully,

    Major-General, Chief of Staff.

Lookout Valley, Tennessee, October 29, 1863-3 a.m.
Major-General REYNOLDS,
Chief of Staff, Chattanooga:
    General Hooker directs me to say that he has called up the brigades of General Whitaker and Colonel Mitchell; that the enemy has been foiled in his attempt thus far to break the line. We have prisoners from two brigades of Longstreet's corps. They state that two prisoners, or all of Longstreet's corps that are here, have crossed, their aim being to prevent the opening of this line. Reports come in of sounds and commands as if massing and forming troops. The general anticipates from this and what the prisoners say a renewal of enemy's attack at daylight. He would like to have signal officers sent out.
    Very respectfully,

    Major-General, Chief of Staff.

OCTOBER 29, 1863-3 a.m.
General TURCHIN:
    You need not remove that regiment if you have not already done so.

    W. F. SMITH,

OCTOBER 29, 1863-3.30 a.m.
At General Whitaker's:
    You will hold your command in readiness to proceed at a moment's notice to the support of General Hooker.


OCTOBER 29, 1863-3.30 a.m.
     The general commanding directs that you move to Brown's Ferry with your command, except your battery and proper support for it. Send this order also to Colonel Mitchell. Obey a call from General Hooker if one should come for aid.

     J. J. REYNOLDS,

DEPARTMENT HEADQUARTERS, October 29, 1863-3.50 a.m.
    Send a staff officer to Brown's Ferry to ascertain if you are needed, and if so move down at once.
    By order of Maj. General George H. Thomas:


OCTOBER 29, 1863-4 a.m.
General THOMAS:
    Fight abated. From sound enemy appear to hold Kelley's Gap, our troops having been apparently driven toward Wauhatchie. They have made an assault in direction of Smith's left, and have been repulsed. Do not know the troops. Judge from the sound.

     W. C. WHITAKER,

Lookout Valley, Tennessee, October 29, 1863-4 a.m.
Brigadier-General GEARY,
Commanding Division:
    General Hooker directs me to say that if you hear firing or fighting on your left, it will probably be General Schurz pushing out to join you. If you have to change position from the developments
before or after daylight, aim to fight in this direction, but bear in mind if it should be necessary, which is not anticipated, that you have a line open via Kelley's Ferry to Brown's Ferry Bridge and Chattanooga. Schurz should be up with you by the time this reaches you.
Very respectfully,
Major-General, Chief of Staff.
OCTOBER 29, 1863-4.20 a.m.
Send a staff officer to Brown's Ferry to ascertain if you are needed, and if so move down at once.

Lookout Valley, Tennessee, October 29, 1863-6.45 a.m.
Major-General REYNOLDS,
Chief of Staff, Chattanooga:
     General Hooker directs me to say that the brigades of General Whitaker and Colonel Mitchell, ordered up at 3 a.m., have not yet reported.
     Very respectfully,

     Major-General, Chief of Staff.

Rowden's House, October 29, 1863-7 a.m.
Maj. General D. BUTTERFIELD,
Chief of Staff, Eleventh and Twelfth Army Corps:
     GENERAL: My command is almost without ammunition. Please have some sent me, say 70,000 rounds. One brigade of General Schurz' has reported to me and been placed in position; the balance of his division is located in the mountain, and, I believe, is going to remain there.
     I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     JNumbers W. GEARY,
     Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.

Lookout Valley, Tennessee, October 29, 1863-7.10 a.m.
Brigadier-General GEARY:
Yours of 7 a.m. received. Another brigade of General Schurz' has been sent you. With these you can relieve some of your regiments
that are exhausted and out of ammunition. Also another brigade from Chattanooga. What ammunition we have has been sent forward, and is by this time up to the mountains where General Tyndale's brigade is posted, where you can get it. When all these troops arrive detach a regiment to go and escort up the supply train 3 miles back toward Whiteside's. Is your rear toward Whiteside's open? Can you send down in Lookout Creek Valley and find out anything for us concerning the enemy, with scouts or otherwise?
Very respectfully,
Major-General, Chief of Staff.

Lookout Valley, Tennessee, October 29, 1863-7.45 a.m.
Major-General REYNOLDS,
Chief of Staff, Chattanooga:
    The position now held and being intrenched by General Geary this side of Wauhatchie, at the forks of Kelley's Ferry and Chattanooga roads, should have the supervision of a competent engineer to locate lines and works in the most advantageous manner; the position is a very important one. I have no engineer officer in the command. I have to request that one may be sent out here at once.
     Very respectfully,

     Major-General, Commanding.

Lookout Valley, Tennessee, October 29, 1863-8.20 a.m.
Major-General REYNOLDS,
Chief of Staff, Chattanooga:
    General Schurz reports large columns of the enemy seen to march down along Lookout Creek, and then, turning to the right, marching up the mountain. Is it not possible to injure them from the Moccasin Point or other batteries on the north side of the river? The prisoners captured last night on the ridge carried by Smith's brigade are sent in herewith.
    Very respectfully,

    Major-General, Commanding.

HEADQUARTERS, October 29, 1863-11 a.m.
    Report any change of pickets on Lookout Mountain.


Rowden's House, October 29, 1863-3.30 p.m.
Commanding Officer Advance Forces:
    SIR: Bring your command to this point as rapidly as possible. We need re-enforcements. Guard well your right flank. Rowden's house is at the intersection of the Chattanooga and Brown's Ferry by the Kelley's Ferry road.
     By command of Brig. General John W. Geary:

     Captain, Assistant Adjutant-General.

OCTOBER 29, 1863-5 p.m.
    See no change on the enemy's front or picket lines. As many are visible now as this time last evening. I have sent for the Ninety-night Ohio from the island to strengthen my pickets. Shall I stay here or go to the regiments re-enforcing General Hooker?


OCTOBER 29, 1863-7.05 p.m.
     You can remain at your headquarters to-night, but be prepared to cross the river in case of an attack.


Maj. General J. J. REYNOLDS:
GENERAL: The officer on signal station opposite Lookout, at Fort Whitaker, reports the following:
Heavy columns of rebel troops have been passing across Chattanooga Valley from right (our right) to left. Were seen to pass front of General Baird's division. They occupied half an hour in passing
one point. He estimate the number at about that of a division. No artillery with them. Battery No. 5 opened upon them. Could see them as they passed the different openings until they entered the woods at a point he judges to be opposite General Rousseau's command. This was at about 12 m.

     W. E. SHERIDAN,
     Captain, and Acting Signal Officer.

OCTOBER 29, 1863-7.50 p.m.
General THOMAS:
     Rebel troops were moving about northeast. They were twenty-seven minutes in passing a given point.

     Lieutenant, and Acting Signal Officer.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 1, Pages 59-67.

This extensive selection of battle communications is noteworthy for many reasons, not the least of which it describes one of the few intense night combats of the war, the Battle of Wauhatchie. After Hazen had established a bridgehead at Brown's Ferry, Bragg ordered Longstreet to attack.  Longstreet ordered a night assault on Geary's force.  The attack started at midnight, two hours late, but even though the Union forces were on the alert they were surprised by the intensity of the attack.  Hooker ordered Schurz to reinforce Geary and Steinwehr also was sent in, arriving before Schurz.  His men attacked a 200 foot hill held by Evander Law's Confederates, which dominated Brown's Ferry.  Several Union assaults were repulsed, but Law received erroneous reports of Union success and pulled back.  Just as the Confederates began to gain the upper hand, with Geary's men running low on ammunition, reports of Union reenforcements in the rear of the Confederate force caused a withdrawal.  Union casualities were 216 and Confederate 356.  This was the first battle in the series of battles which became the Battle of Chattanooga.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ocober 28, 1863 (Thursday): "Restlessness Is Not A Sufficient Reason For Removal"

General Simon B. Buckner

BLAKELY, ALA., October 28, 1863.
General B. BRAGG,
Near Chattanooga, Tenn.:
    Before the present movements commenced the Department of East Tennessee was added to your command. In virtue of the authority thus conferred you drew Generals Buckner and Preston with a portion of their troops to your headquarters. While serving there they and their troops are, like others in the army, subject to your orders. The few troops left by them and now remaining in service have been incorporated with those of General Jones, who receives his orders and instructions from the War Department. General Buckner in his present position can give no orders in contravention of the authority of this commanding general, and neither of you should interfere with the operations in Southwestern Virginia, except so far as you may keep General Jones advised of your movements so as to secure co-operation. Officers serving with you will be required to perform their appropriate functions, and restlessenss is not a sufficient reason for removal. Your dispatch was not received until I had started from Mobile. I hope you have communicated with General Hardee at Demopolis.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Page 552.

Davis was returning from Tennessee, having met with Bragg and his generals.  They were in a high state of excitement against Bragg, and had signed a round robin asking for Bragg's removal.  Bragg had retaliated against Buckner by essentially eliminating his command as an organization (hence the "restless is not a sufficient reason" line in the letter from Davis to Bragg.  Beyond these obvious headaches, Davis also had to contend with Bragg and Buckner attempting to give orders to General Jones, whose command in southwest Virginia was outside of his department. 

October 27, 1863 (Wednesday): The "Cracker Line" Established

Thomas' HQ In Chattanooga (NPS.Gov)

Chattanooga, October 27, 1863-2 p.m.
Major-General HOOKER,
(Care Colonel Le Duc, Bridgeport):
     We have had possession of the south side of the river at Brown's Ferry since 5 o'clock this a.m. Move forward with your force and take possession so as to command the road from Kelley's Ferry to Brown's Ferry. Colonel Le Duc has been notified to see that you are supplied with forage and rations. Prisoners report that but two regiments of the enemy were in Lookout Valley this morning. Two brigades have been seen to pass over the point of Lookout and into the valley nearly out of range of our guns. So far as we now know, they have only six guns in the valley.
    By command Major-General Thomas:

    Major-General, and Chief of Staff.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 1, Pages 53-54.

At about 3 a.m. Hazen and 1500 men cross on pontoon boats and secured the Brown's Ferry crossing.  Turchin and 3500 men crossed at Moccasin Bend on the opposite bank and overwhelmed a small Confederate force.  A new supply line, running past Confederate positions in Lookout Valley, was now in place.  The "Cracker Line" provided an immediate link between the besieged union forces in Chattanooga and the rapidly growing Union forces coming to their relief.

October 26, 1863 (Tuesday): Reestablishing A Line to Chattanooga

Browns' Ferry Upper R, Kelley's Ferry Opposite Left

Chattanooga, October 26, 1863.
    Your telegram of 10 p.m. last night received. Commence the movement to-morrow morning, 27th, and open and secure the railroad and wagon road from Bridgeport to Rankin's Ferry, and thence as far toward Chattanooga as you can. General Palmer will co-operate with you at Rankin's Ferry. We will cross a co-operating force at Brown's Ferry, and take possession of the south bank there.
     By command of Major-General Thomas:

     J. J. REYNOLDS,
     Major-General, and Chief of Staff.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 1, Page 47.

Hooker's troops from Virginia were in North Alabama and ready to move to the relief of Thomas in Chattanooga.  The key would be gaining a bridgehead at Brown's Ferry, so the reenforcements could cross there.  There would also involve a simultaneous advance up Lookout Valley, securing the Kelley's Ferry Road.  Turchin's and Haen's brigades of the 3rd Division, Fourth Corp were assigned the task of establishing the Brown's Ferry Bridgehead.

Friday, October 25, 2013

October 25, 1863 (Monday): A day In Charleston

Battery Gregg (Library of Congress)

October 25, 1863.-There is no change reported in the fleet this morning.
Monitor [No.] 2 rejoined the fleet to-day, and Monitor No. 6 departed-it is supposed for repairs.
Now inside the bar-Monitors [Nos.] 2,3,4, and 5, while Nos.1, 6, and 7 are absent.
Only 8 shots were fired by us to-day, and those from Battery Simkins. The enemy still silent.
Four guns are now observed in position at Battery Gregg-three Parrotts and one 10-inch columbiad. The Parrott gun on the northeast angle still has the breech toward Sumter and the muzzle in the sand. One Parrott and the columbiad is mounted on the north face, and one Parrott on southwest angle, bearing on the city.
   At the midway battery [between Gregg and Wagner] the embrasure toward Sumter is masked with sand-bags. The southeast angle off this work appears to be intended for mortars bearing in the direction of Sullivan's Island. All the guns seem to be removed from the Gadberry Hill batteries.
An extensive work has been completed south of Gregg's Hill; also the batteries on each side of Light-House Inlet and near the observatory on Folly Island. At the former battery three naval guns are in position, but none are observed in the latter.
    Four heavy guns are thought to be in position at Battery Wagner.
    A large increase of tents is reported on Cole's and Folly Islands.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 1, Pages 149-150.

One of the more interesting items in the Official Records is the Confederate day book from Charleston which gives precise accounts of the comings and goings of the Union fleet, the activity at batteries around Charleston, and Confederate troop movements, including accounts of shells fired and damage done.  This is the account for October 25.  The numbers listed for the US monitors reflect the practice of affixing a number to the ship, often on its stack. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 24, 1863 (Sunday): Lincoln Pushes Meade to Act

Lynchburg (

Washington, October 24, 1863-11. 20 a. m.
Major-General MEADE,
Army of the Potomac:
    The President desires that you will prepare to attack Lee's army, and, at all hazards, make a cavalry raid, to break the railroad at or near Lynchburg, and such other places as may be practicable. The troops making this raid must mainly subsist upon the country. They should be provided with the proper means of destroying railroads, bridges, &c. There are four lines by which to return; first to your army; second, through the Valley of the Shenandoah; third, to Gloucester; fourth, to Norfolk. I send herewith a copy of the President letter, just received.

     H. W. HALLECK,


Washington, October 24, 1863.
Major-General HALLECK:
    Taking all our information together, I think it probable that Ewell's corps has started for East Tennessee by way of Abingdon,marching last Monday, say, from Meade's front directly to the railroad at Charlottesville.
    First, the object of Lee's recent movement against Meade; his destruction of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and subsequent withdrawal, without more motive, not otherwise apparent, would be explained by this hypothesis.
    Secondly, the direct statement of Sharpe's man that Ewell has gone to Tennessee.
    Thirdly, the Irishman's statement that he has not gone through Richmond, and his further statement of an appeal made to the people at Richmond to go and protect their salt, which could only refer to the works near Abingdon.
    Fourthly, Graham's statement from Martinsburg that Imboden is in retreat for Harrisonburg. This last matches with the idea that Lee has retained his cavalry, sending Imboden and perhaps other scraps to join Ewell. Upon this probability what is to be done?
     If you have a plan matured, I have nothing to say. If you have not, then I suggest that with all possible expedition, the Army of the Potomac get ready to attack Lee, and that in the meantime a raid shall, at hazards, break the railroad at or near Lynchburg.

     Yours, truly,
     A. LINCOLN.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Pages 375-376.

Ewell was not headed west, as Lincoln supposed, nor was Imboden.  Lincoln was correct in supposing there was an intent to Lee's destroying the Union rail, but it was merely to prevent Meade from making useful movements before winter brought an end to the season of active campaigning.  The protection of the Confederate salt works in Western Virginia were always of critical, but historically overlooked importance.  Meade would, in fact, move on Lee in thirty days, but would accomplish little.  Lynchburg was a strategic railhead, and Lincoln shows foresight in understanding its importance to Confederate war efforts.  But not until 1864 would his purpose be seen through.

October 22, 1863 (Saturday): Fraud Afloat

General Nathan B. Buford

OCTOBER 22, 1863.-Destruction of the Steamer Mist on the Mississippi River.

Report of Brig. General Napoleon B. Buford, U. S. Army, commanding District of Eastern Arkansas.

Helena, Ark., October 23, 1863.
    SIR: For the information of General Hurlbut, I report the steamer Mist, Captain Calhoum, was burned by a party of 20 guerrillas, commanded by Dick Holland, at the foot of Ship Island, on the Mississippi shore, yesterday at 3 p.m., the captain robbed of a large sum, which he states to have been over $ 17,000, and the boat rifled. The captain and crew of 10 men were allowed to go free. Captain Calhoum reports his engine was out of order. He was anchored in the stream; took a skiff and went ashore to get four bales of cotton; the boat was blown ashore.
    The cotton he said had been purchased from a man named Cole, by McDonald, who had a permit to ship 50 bales. Captain Calhoun states his pilot, E. Wood, was also robbed of $ 5,000 of Confederate money, which was in the safe with the boat's funds. The guerrillas did not burn Cole's cotton. The captain further states that the steamer Evansville landed at the same place the day previous,and took on board about 20 bales of cotton without the protection of a gunboat.
    There are inconsistencies in this story which are apparent. I am informed by Colonel Silas Noble, who is here, that when he commanded at Paducah, Captain Calhoun was disloyal.
     Your obedient servant,

     N. B. BUFORD,
     Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Series I., Vol. 31, Part 1, Pages 32-33.

Buford was in Arkansas after being banished there by General Grant, who served with him at Belmont.  Here Buford describes a highly suspicious report of the not inconsiderable sum of $17,000 from a boat captain.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 21, 1863 (Friday): The Bristoe Campaign Ends With A Whimper

General George G. Meade

Gainesville, Va., October 21, 1863-10. 30 a. m.
(Received 11 a. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    I regret to inform you that from the examination made, I have reason to believe that the Orange and Alexandria Railroad has been destroyed from Bristoe Station to Culpeper Court-House. To repair and put in working order the road to the Rappahannock will require the use of a considerable part of this army for guards and working parties. Under these circumstances, I do not see the practicability of an advance on this line to Gordonsville. A transfer to the Fredericksburg road, if successful in crossing the Rappahannock, would require time to put the road in working order from Aquia Creek, and the enemy would doubtless destroy it in advance of the point we held.
    It seems to me, therefore, that the campaign is virtually over for the present season, and that it would be better to withdraw the army to some position in front of Washington and detach from it such portions as may be required to operate elsewhere. Although I have no information but the acts of the enemy, I think it is his intention to detach a portion of his forces for operations elsewhere. I should be glad to have the views of the Government at the earliest possible moment.

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

WASHINGTON, October 21, 1863-1. 30 p. m.
(Received 9. 15 p. m.)
Major-General MEADE:
     Your telegrams of 8 p. m. last night and 10. 30 this morning were received. I cannot reply till I receive the orders of the President and the Secretary of War.

     H. W. HALLECK,

WASHINGTON, October 21, 1863-3. 30 p. m.
(Received 9. 15 p. m.)
Major-General MEADE:
     If you can conveniently leave your army, the President wishes to see you to-morrow.

    H. W. HALLECK,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Pages 361-362.

It is well to remember we are only 90 days or so removed from the Union victory at Gettysburg.  It is popular to consider Gettysburg a pivot point on which the war turned in favor of the North.  But since the battle Meade has not taken the battle to Lee, but Lee has attempted to get at Meade and driven him into Washington's defenses.  So much for the great victory at Gettysburg.

October 20, 1863 (Thursday): Grant Relieves Rosecrans

General George Henry Thomas


Numbers 1.
Louisville, October 20, 1863.
Major-General ROSECRANS, and
Major-General THOMAS,
    Major General W. S. Rosecrans having been relieved from the command of the Department of the Cumberland, by direction of the President of the United States, per General Orders, Numbers 337, of October 16, 1863, Major- General Thomas is hereby assigned to the command, and will at once assume its duties. General Rosecrans will turn over all books, papers, maps, and other property pertaining to the command to Major-General Thomas. All staff officers, except the aides-de-camp authorized by law, now on duty with General Rosecrans, will report to General Thomas for assignment as soon as relieved. General Rosecrans will proceed to Cincinnati, Ohio, and report to the Adjutant-General of the Army, by letter, for orders.
     By order of Major-General Grant:

     Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 669.

Without comment, Grant chose to replace Rosecrans with Thomas.  He had been given the option by  the administration of keeping Rosecrans or replacing him.  He chose wisely, Rosecrans being at this point greatly demoralized. 

October 19, 1863 (Wednesday): Lee Congratulates Stuart

General J. E. B. Stuart

October 19, 1863.
Major General J. E. B. STUART,
Commanding Cavalry Corps:
    GENERAL: Your note announcing your victory over General Kilpatrick, by your combined divisions, has been received. I congratulate you and your officers and men on this handsome success. The plan was well conceived and skillfully executed. It is not my design for you to advance or to cross the Potomac, but to withdraw on the line formerly designated, when you think it advantageous to do so. I have ordered the iron from the railroad for some miles north of the Rappahannock to be hauled to the river. I desire you, while this operation continues, to have a brigadier near the railroad, with pickets at Catlett's, in order to give the working parties and wagons notice of any advance of the enemy's cavalry, and to cover their movements as much as possible. Be sure, also, to send back, at once, any stragglers from the infantry whom you may find in the country north of the Rappahannock.
    I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 725.

Lee's notes congratulating Stuart are a staple of the Official Records.  Stuart's independence as cavalry commander afforded him and his troops ample opportunity for recognition.  In this instance Lee gives Stuart the task of destroying railroad lines which would be useful to the Union army in the event Meade were to advance.  We are now nearing the end of October and any delay, including that caused by the destruction of rail ties, could materially delay an advance.  Lee ultimately accomplished more by tearing up railroad track in Northern Virginia than he would have by making an advance back across the Potomac.  It appears from this correspondence Stuart had in mind a repeat of his raid on Chambersburg.  But the Army of Northern Virginia would not again during the war cross the Potomac. 

October 18, 1863 (Tuesday): Slim Rations On Both Sides At Chattanooga

Statement of Thomas Kearney, Company K, Thirty-second Alabama Regiment, Adams' brigade, Breckinridge's division, Hill's corps.
    I came voluntarily into the lines on Saturday evening about 7 o'clock. Came around under Lookout Point. Left the picket-post. My brigade was encamped at the foot of Lookout Mountain near the Summertown road, one-half mile from the foot. Came there about one week ago. Only one regiment [the Thirty-second Alabama] was on duty. This was posted along the west side of the mountain for a distance of 250 yards. Saw four pieces of artillery drawn by 16 horses pass up the Summertown road to the top of the mountain. I think they were 24-pounders. This was four or five days ago. Have heard that no more pieces were there. I think two of the guns were to be taken to left of the line. I know the caliber of cannon when I see them. One brigade of the Vicksburg troops is around the mountain; the other one I think is stationed on the top. Between our brigade and the mountain there are no troops; there is some artillery.
    There was two divisions left before Longstreet's corps went. I heard that Longstreet's corps went to Knoxville. Have not been outside of my division lines for three weeks.
    As far as my acquaintance goes, the men are very much disheartened. Would take peace on most any terms. A great many of the men of my regiment's terms of service will be out in a few months, and the men will not stay any longer in the service. A number that I know would leave now, but as their time is so near out, they prefer serving their time out. We get about the same rations we have had.
     The stock is in very bad condition; they get but six ears of corn per day. This I know. They are taken back about 8 o'clock in the morning, and kept there until afternoon grazing. The mules get no corn; they are turned out, and what they get to eat is what they can pick up. The majority of them are hardly able to walk.
     Our division has not been paid off for five months. I think this is the case with all of Bragg's old army.

[First indorsement.]

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 3, Pages 86-87.

A clear statement of the condition of Confederate troops.  The beseigers were in little better condition than those who were beseiged within Union lines in Chattanooga.  We do well to consider the condition of both armies in 1864.  Confederate cavalry under Wheeler and Forrest have interfered with Union supply lines in the west, especially around besieged Chattanooga, but as far west as Corinth.  The armies have lost heavily in combat and the quality of replacements, especially in the Union army, has been poor.  Finally, a weariness of the war has set in on both sides and desertion and straggling, as seen here, continue to be problems.

October 17, 1863 (Monday): Lee Checks In With Davis

Attack at Bristoe Station

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, Bristoe Station, October 17, 1863.
    MR. PRESIDENT: I have the honor to inform you that, with the view of bringing on an engagement with the army of General Meade, which lay around Culpeper Court-House, extending thence to the Rapidan, this army marched on the 9th instant by way of Madison Court-House, and arrived near Culpeper on the 11th. The enemy retired toward the Rappahannock at the railroad bridge, declining battle, and removing all his stores. I determined to make another effort to reach him, and moved through Warrenton toward the railroad north of the Rappahannock. The enemy had several direct roads by which he retired, while we were compelled to march by a more circuitous route. We only succeeded in coming up with a portion of his rear guard at this place on the 14th instant, with which a severe skirmish ensued, but without any decisive or satisfactory result.
    During the night of the 14th the enemy continued his retreat, and is now reported to be fortifying at Centreville. I do not deem it advisable to attack him in his intrenchments, or to force him farther back by turning his present position, as he could quickly reach the fortifications around Washington and Alexandria, which we are not prepared to invest. Should I advance farther, I should be compelled to go to Loudon for subsistence for the army, this region being entirely destitute, and the enemy having made the railroad useless to us by the complete destruction of the Rappahannock bridge. Such a movement would take us too far from other points where the army might be needed, and the want of clothing, shoes, blankets, and overcoats would entail great suffering upon our men. I can see not benefit to be derived from remaining where we are, and shall consequently return to the line of the Rappahannock.
    The railroad bridges over Cub Run, Broad Run, and Cedar Run have been destroyed, and the track torn up from the first-mentioned point back toward the Rappahannock, the ties burnt, and the rails bent. The destruction will be continued as far as the river, and may prevent another advance of the enemy in this direction this season.
     We have captured about 1,600 prisoners, and inflicted some additional loss upon the enemy in the various skirmishes that have occurred since the movement began. Our own loss was slight, except in the action at this place, where it was quite severe, and I regret to add that five pieces of artillery belonging to Hill's corps were captured. The particulars have not yet been officially reported to me, but shall communicated as soon as received.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 1, Pages 407-408.

This ended Lee's attempt to bring Meade to battle.  He had, however, succeeded by a series of flanking movements to push the Union Army of the Potomac back by 40 miles.  It was a remarkable achievement, given his limited resources.  Although Lee states not to have known the particulars of Hill's debacle at Bristoe Station, he had spoken with Hill and made his famous "Let us bury these men and say no more of it" rebuke.  He had, however, not received a formal, written report from Hill. 

October 16, 1863 (Sunday): Rosecrans Grows Concerned

General William S. Rosecrans

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Chattanooga, October 16, 1863-7 p.m.
Major-General BURNSIDE,
Knoxville, Tenn.:
     The enemy are preparing pontoons and increasing number on our front. If they cross between us you will go up, and probably we too. You ought to move in this direction, at least as far as Kingston, which should be strongly fortified, and your spare stores go into it without delay. You ought to be free to oppose a crossing of the river, and with your cavalry to keep open complete and rapid communications between us, so that we can move combinedly on him. Let me hear from you, if possible, at once. No news from you in ten days. Our cavalry drove the rebel raid across the Tennessee at Lamb's Ferry, with loss to them of 2,000 killed, wounded, prisoners, and deserters; also five pieces of artillery.


     Answer quick.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 30, Part 4, Page 428.

Burnside was spread out across eastern Tennessee and could not readily come to Rosecrans aide.  The problem was to consolidate enough of his troops so as to at least make a feint in Rosecrans direction.  The situation remained critical in Chattanooga, with Rosecrans troops on limited rations. 

October 15, 1863 (Saturday): Meade Retreats Against Advice

Centerville (National Archives)

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Centerville, October 15, 1863-12 m. (Received 1. 45 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    Generals Warren and Sykes were successfully withdrawn last night, and the army is now at Union Mills, Centerville, Chantilly, and Fairfax Court-House, awaiting the movements of the enemy. The cavalry is out on the flank and the front, endeavoring the ascertain the position and movements of the enemy. General Warren engaged yesterday Heth's division, of Hill's corps, inflicting serious injury on it, taking 5 guns and 450 prisoners. Among the prisoners are soldiers just from Charleston. The reports of the prisoners are that Hill's and Ewell's corps, re-enforced to a reported strength of 80,000, are advancing on me, their plan being to secure the Bull Run field in advance of me. They started five days ago with seven days' rations with the men and large supply trains.
     I am unable to surmise whether Lee will await opening his communication with Gordonsville, or whether he will continue his advance. In the latter case, I suppose he will turn me again, probably by the right, with his back to the mountain, in which case I shall either fall on him or retire nearer Washington, according as his movements indicate the probability of his being able to concentrate more rapidly than I can. I have ordered General King, with such of his troops as are at Fairfax Court-House and Station, to report to Major-General Sykes, Fifth Corps.

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

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 326.

Meade here displays a want of energy.  He had been admonished earlier in the day by Halleck that Lee surely did not have sufficient force to be playing such a bold hand and urged Meade to attack him.  The previous day A.P. Hill had stumbled into Warren's Corp at Bristoe Station and come out much the worse for wear.  Instead, Meade continued to fall back toward the defenses of Washington.

October 14, 1863 (Friday): A Hanging In Norfolk

Norfolk, Va., October 14, 1863.
The following order is hereby transmitted:
Fort Monroe, Va., October 10, 1863.
    The proceedings of the Military Commission instituted for the trial of David M. Wright, of Norfolk, Va., by Special Orders, Nos. 195, 196, and 197, of 1863, from the headquarters of the Department of Virginia, having, in accordance with section 5 of the act of Congress approved July 17, 1863, been submitted to the President of the United States, and the sentence having been approved, and the execution ordered by the President at such time and place as the major-general commanding the department may appoint, it is therefore ordered that the sentence that the accused, David M. Wright, of Norfolk, be hung by the neck until he be dead, be carried into execution on Friday next, the 16th day of October, at 10 o'clock in the forenoon, at such place in or near Norfolk ad Brigadier General James Barnes, commanding United States forces at that place, may designate.
     By command of Major-General Foster:

     Assistant Adjutant-General.

In accordance with the above order, the execution of Dr. Wright will take place at the Fair Grounds, near this city, at the time specified above. The Twenty-first Connecticut Volunteers, One hundred and eighteenth New York Volunteers, and Regan's battery (without pieces), will be present, under the command of Colonel Dutton.
    The provost-marshal is charged with the execution of this order.
    By command of Brigadier General J. Barnes:

    Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 322.

Dr. Wright had assassinated Lieutenant A.L. Sanborn in a Norfolk street while the later commanded a squad of African-American troops.  Wright hung himself in his cell before he could be executed.  His wife then committed suicide and one of their daughters was reported to have gone mad with grief. 

October 13, 1863 (Thursday): Halleck Prepares For A Raid by Lee

Harper's Ferry

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, October 13, 1863-3. 30 p. m.
Brigadier-General KELLEY,
Clarksburg, W. Va.:
    Lee's army is moving north, and perhaps will go into the Shenandoah Valley. Your attention is called to Harper's Ferry and the railroad in the vicinity, as cavalry raids may be made in that direction.

     H. W. HALLECK,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 309.

The impression existed, both in the North and South, that Lee was possibly going to attempt at least a partial raid across the Potomac.  He possessed nothing near the force required to do so, and his cavalry was so lacking in forage for the horses he could not muster enough force for a significant cavalry raid.  Lee was playing a bold hand with few trump cards. 

October 12, 1863 (Wednesday):Lincoln and Rosecrans Compare Notes

Period Telegraph (Lincoln Library and Museum)

WAR DEPARTMENT, October 12, 1863-8.35. a.m.
Major-General ROSECRANS, Chattanooga, Tenn.:
    As I understand Burnside is menaced from the east, and so cannot go to you without surrendering East Tennessee. I now think the enemy will not attack Chattanooga, and I think you will have to look out for his making a concentrated drive at Burnside. You and Burnside now have him by the throat, and he must break your hold or perish. I therefore think you better try to hold the road up to Kingston, leaving Burnside to what is above there. Sherman is coming to you, though gaps in the telegraph prevent our knowing how far he is advanced. He and Hooker will so support you on the west and northwest as to enable you to look east and northeast. This is not an order. General Halleck will give his views.


Chattanooga, October 12, 1863-3 p.m.
(Received 8.45. p.m.)
Honorable A. LINCOLN, President United States:
    Line from here to Kingston is long; our side is barren mountain; rebel side has railroad. Our danger is subsistence. We cannot bring up Hooker to cover our left against a crossing above us, for want of means to transport provisions and horse-feed. Enemy's side of valley full of corn. Every exertion will be made to hold what we have and gain more, after which we must put our trust in God, who never fails those who truly trust.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 30, Part 4, Page 306.

Lincoln believed the end of the war was becoming in sight if only Rosecrans could hold out.  What he did not take into account was Rosecrans troops were starving in Chattanooga.  Burnside was not nearly so menaced as Lincoln (and Burnside) believed, and it was their good fortune to be facing Braxton Bragg and not a more able general, else there existed the possibility of Rosecrans force being reduced to submission. 

October 11, 1863 (Tuesday): The Army-Navy Game

USS New Ironsides

In the Field, Folly Island, S. C., October 11, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
     GENERAL: I have to report no important changes in the state of affairs here. From a recent conversation at some length with Admiral Dahlgren, I am led to the belief that no offensive operations against Charleston with the naval force now here will be attempted. The programme of operations in this quarter, which I submitted to you while at Washington, and which met the approval of not only the War and Navy Departments, but of the President also, and to secure the execution of which it was deemed proper to supersede the former naval and military commanders in this department, is doubtless fresh in your memory. It was as follows:
1. To make a descent upon, and obtain possession of, the enemy's fortified position on the south end of Morris Island.
2. To reduce Fort Wagner and Battery Gregg on the north end of Morris Island.
3. From positions thus secured, to demolish Fort Sumter.
4. the monitors to enter, remove the channel obstructions, run by the batteries on James and Sullivan's Islands, and reach the city.
5. Subsequent operations of the two branches of the service to be government by circumstances.
    The entire programme was to be executed by a cordial and energetic co-operation of the army and the navy, excepting item 4, which was considered a specialty for the iron-clads alone. The first three pars of the programme have been successfully carried out. Fort Sumter is incapable of harming our iron-clads fleet, and I have received the written assurance of the General-in-Chief that the land forces have done all that I proposed to do with them, "and all that was hoped or expected." I desire to record my belief that the whole programme can be carried out, but that every day's delay is rendering its execution more difficult.
      Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

      Q. A. GILLMORE,
      Major-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 28, Part 2, Page 105.

The Army and Navy generally were very much in league in combined operations during the war.  In this instance, Gillmore is stating his appehension at the slowness of the Navy to move on Charleston.  He underestimates the amount of damage the Confederates had inflicted on the naval force, but moreso, the wearing down of that force for operations by the nature of the ships involved and the supplies they required.  It is perhaps merely human nature which makes individuals always exaggerate the difficulties they face and minimize those of others. 

October 10, 1863 (Monday): Contact As Lee Moves Around the Union Right

Area of the Bristoe Campaign (Library of Congress)

October 10, 1863-8.45 a. m.
    Enemy is moving in force through Madison Court-House toward our right. Pickets are engaged on our right. Columns halted yesterday are in motion.


October 10, 1863-9.35 a. m.
Captain NORTON:
     Enemy is moving in force through Madison Court-House toward our extreme right. Cavalry is now passing through. The rebel sharpshooters are now advancing to the foot of this mountain.

     [29.] Captain.

October 10, 1863-2.30 p. m.
Captain NORTON:
     A train of ten wagons is moving to our right aroung Clark's Mountain. Enemy show no signs of occupying their works between Raccon and Morton's Fords. Too smoky for extensive observations.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 1, Page 1101-1102.

With Lee moving around Meade's right there begin to be contacts made between the advance elements of Lee's Army and Union picket lines.

October 9, 1863 (Sunday): Mobile and Prompt

Major General Robert Ransom, Jr.

October 9, 1863.
Major General SAMUEL JONES,
Dublin Depot:
GENERAL: I arrived here yesterday; Hill's corps was moving and passed, going to the front and left of this place.
    This morning early, Ewell's corps passed, or at least two divisions. General Lee moves to-day. General Early's division will, I think, bring up the rear. I think I shall be able to get my troops here. Cooke's brigade has already arrived.
    It is supposed the enemy has fallen back to Culpeper Court-House, and perhaps beyond that place. A deserter reported yesterday that only a small body was in that town. I am sorry to find General Lee quite unwell from an attack of rheumatism. He expressed great interest in getting supplies from Tennessee and kentucky. Any horses you can have sent to him will be more than acceptable.
I shall go down to-day. If a fight comes off I can hardly be in it.
    Everything indicates rapidity of motion, and if the enemy is going to his entrenchments about Washington, there is not time to lose. Every one says the army is in fine condition. What I have seen appears to be. They are mobile and prompt.
    When I reach Richmond I will write again. Regards to your staff.

    Very truly,
    R. RANSOM, JR.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 782.

Ransom was assigned to various duties regarding the defense of Richmond.  He was in a position to know all he states of the army's movements.  It is because of his undefined duties in Richmond he states he can hardly be in a fight if there is one.  He was likely further away from his post than the administration might have found acceptable.  Also interesting are the comments with relation to General Lee's health.  It is likely a heart condition, not rheumatism, was the cause of his unwellness.


October 8, 1863 (Saturday): The Bristoe Campaign Begins

General Robert E. Lee

October 8, [1863]-11 a.m.
Major-General FRENCH,
Commanding Third Corps:
    The following dispatch from General Sedgwick is sent for your information, and for that of the division commander at James City;
Brigadier-General Torbert reports that appearances indicate a movement of the enemy to our right; that wagons and artillery were moving in that direction last night. I have sent for further information.


      A. A. HUMPHREYS,
      Major-General, Chief of Staff.

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 29, Part 1, Page 324.

Thus began the Bristoe Campaign, with Lee moving around Meade's flank and gradually forcing him back, ultimately by 40 miles.  The audacity required for so a move in the face of a superior enemy cannot go without comment.  Without Longstreet's Corp Lee could not strike a hard blow, but at least he was able to keep up appearances and reenforce the idea in Washington he possessed more men than he did in reality have.

October 7, 1863 (Friday): Beauregard Offers Strategic Advice to Bragg

General P. G. T. Beauregard

October 7, 1863.

Commanding near Chattanooga, Tenn.:
    DEAR GENERAL: I have just been informed, from Richmond, that the Army of Virginia is about to take the offensive again, to prevent Made from re-enforcing Rosecrans, thus repeating, to a certain extend, the campaign of last July into Pennsylvania, which did not save Middle Tennessee and the Mississippi Valley.
   You must, no doubt, recollect what I wrote on the subject to General Johnston on the 15th of May last, to endeavor to prevent that offensive campaign, which, I thought, would not effect the object in view.
    I now address you on my views on the reported intentions of General Lee, or the War Department, to see if our small available means cannot be used to a better purpose.  It is evident to my mind, that, admitting Lee's movement can prevent Meade from re-enforcing Rosecrans and drive the former across the Potomac, Lee cannot prevent Rosecrans from being re-enforced by about 40,000 or 50,000 men from Ohio Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, and the Mississippi Valley in about one month's time; hence, admitting that Rosecrans has now about your own supposed effective force, say 60,000 men of all arms, he will then have about 110,000 men against 60,000.
    War being a contest of "masses against fractions," all other things being equal, you would certainly be defeated; then either you must be re-enforced from Johnston's or Lee's army, or Middle Georgia would be lost, and the Confederacy, now cut in two, would then be cut in three. Meanwhile, Meade, having been re-enforced by the new levies of the enemy, and taking his time to organize and discipline them, would retake the offensive, and Lee would by driven back toward Richmond, admitting that his supplies would enable him to maintain his army that long on the south side of the Potomac; or a large army might be concentrated here, and having taken this place and marched into the interior, toward Augusta, the Confederacy would again be subdivided; or, should the enemy find it impossible or too tedious to take Charleston, he might concentrate his forces again on the coast of North Carolina, and, marching to Raleigh or Weldon, would cut off all our present communications with Virginia.
    The question now arises, can these calamities be avoided, and in what way? If my opinion, for once, could be listened to, I would say, again act entirely in the defensive in Virginia, send you immediately 25,000 men from Lee's army, 5,000 or 10,000 more from Johnston's forces to enable you to take the offensive fort whit and cross the Tennessee, to crush Rosecrans before he can be re-enforced to any large extent from any quarter; then you could attack and defeat the enemy's re-enforcements in detail before they could be concentrated into a strong army. In the meantime, Lee, if necessary, could fall back within the lines around Richmond, until a part of your army could be sent to his relief. I fear any other plan will, sooner or later, end in our final destruction in detail.
    Should you approve of this plan, can you not address it as your own to the War Department, in the hope of its being adopted? What I desire is our success. I care not who gets the credit for it. Our resources are fast getting exhausted. Our people, I fear, are getting disheartened, for they can see not bright spot in the horizon to revive their drooping hopes after the patriotic sacrifices they have made in this terrible contest.
     Let us, then, unite all our efforts in a last deadly struggle, and, with God's help, we shall yet triumph.
     I regret that I have not time to pay you a short visit to present you my views more fully, and to discuss with you our future operations.
     Wishing you ample success, I remain, sincerely, your friend,

     General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 28, Part 2, Pages 399-400.

We look back at Lee through the lens of the postwar view of him throughout the south.  This fails to take into account that he was regarded with considerable jealousy, perhaps even some hostility, by his fellow generals.  Many of them believed, as Beauregard appears to, that the best course for beating back the ever increasing Union forces was to shift troops from Lee's command west to Bragg.  Longstreet was certainly of this mind, as was Johnston, and probably Bragg.  Lee continued to have the ear of Jefferson Davis, so the south never fully committed to a full shift of heavy forces westward. 

October 6, 1863 (Thursday): David Vs New Ironsides

CSS David

October 6, 1863

Major Elliott reports two submarine affairs near the Ironsides, also several wooden gunboats. The Ironsides appears to have escaped injury from last night's attempt to destroy her.
The following are copies of signal messages sent by the enemy and translated by our signal corps on Sullivan's Island:
Admiral D-:
Trouble among the navy vessels. Heavy musketry fire near the Ironsides.
Enemy quiet now. I did not receive any explanation of the firing near the Ironsides.
Have not yet learned the cause of the alarm. Firing seemed to be around the Ironsides; it continued some fifteen minutes. The admiral is outside; I will signal to him.
Admiral D-:
G- is anxious to learn the cause of the firing last night. Will you be kind enough to inform me, so that I can communicate it to him?
General G-:
The admiral sends me the following dispatch: "An attempt was made last night to blow up the Ironsides by a small steamer and a torpedo. It failed signally, although the torpedo exploded at the right moment. There were 4 men in the boat, 2 of whom are prisoners."

Official Records, Vol. 1, Vol. 28, Part 1, Page 141 (excerpt).

The David was not a submarine, but had a very low profile and burned smokeless antracite coal.  Altogether not a very detectable craft, it managed to ram the New Ironsides and break off a charge in it.  The attack failed to sink the New Ironsides, and two of the David's crew fell into Union hands when they jumped overboard, believing incorrectly their ship was about to sink.  It sailed back down the channel to safety.  The David was left in place after the war and the area silted over.  It is believed to be under Tradd Street and Murray Boulevard on the battery in Charleston.

October 5, 1863 (Wednesday): Lee and the Politics of Command

General W. E. Jones

October 5, 1863.
President Confederate States, Richmond, Va.:
    Mr. PRESIDENT: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 1st. I hope there was a mistake as to the strength of Bragg's army. His effective strength, given me by General Cooper before the battle, and before the addition of Longstreet's corps, was 76,219; Bragg's 51,101 and Buckner's 16,118, plus 9,000 from Johnston's army. I think if Your Excellency could make it convenient to visit that country, you would be able to reconcile many difficulties and unite the scattered troops.
    I wrote to you that I could spare General Iverson for the cavalry in Georgia. He is the only man I can think of for the situation. I would also recommend that General W. E. Jones be assigned to the command of the cavalry lately under Deshler, unless there is with that army a better man for the place. I consider General Jones a brave and intelligent officer, and his feelings have become so opposed to General Stuart that I have lost all hope of his being useful in the cavalry here. He tendered his resignation befor the expedition to Pennsylvania, which I withheld. He has been subsequently tried by court-martial for disrespect and the proceedings are now in Richmond. I understand he says he will no longer serve under Stuart, and I do not think it would be advatageous for him to do so, but I wish to make him useful. I can replace him by Colonel Rosser, Fifth Virginia Cavalry, an excellent officer in the field, who is prompt, cool, and fearless, and has been twice wounded in this war. He resigned his position as cadet at the U. S. Military Academy, just before the period of his graduation. When the war commenced, served first in the artillery, with some distinction, and subsequently was transferred to the cavalry. As soon as the proceedings of the court are published, I shall be obliged to relieve Jones from the command of his brigade, which, in fact, has been without its commander ever since the army crossed the Potomac.
     I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 772.

Rosser would not live up to Lee's high expectations for him, but was certainly a passable replacement for Jones.  Iverson could always be spared from any assignment given him, especially after his poor performance at Gettysburg.  The number of troops available to Bragg was a point of considerable interest.  Lee most likely was late to know Longstreet was, even as this letter was being written, attempting to remove Pickett's Corp from around Petersburg and have it sent west to him.

October 4, 1863 (Tuesday): From Cedar Mountain Signal Station

Stereoscopic View of Cedar Mountain

October 4, 1863-7. 30 p. m.
Captain NORTON:
     All quiet at sunset. Enemy's signals report "all quiet. " Yesterday enemy planted a color in one of their works near Raccoon Ford. They are strengthening their works every day between Rapidan Station and Morton's Ford. General F. Lee has his headquarters down the river; I think at or near Halstead's house. General Ewell is somewhere in rear of Clark's Mountain. General Steuart's headquarters can be seen from this station. We have Captain Frayser's station (chief signal officer Stuart's cavalry) in view. Also stations which communicate with Ewell, Early, and F. Lee.
    I do not think that General R. E. Lee has been here for a week. The fords as far up the Rapidan as I can see are pretty strongly picketed, with at least a regiment of infantry at each. Stuart's cavalry, with exception of Fitz. Lee's division, lies between Rapidan Station and Madison Court-House. The enemy appeared to be quite short of rations, as in answer to the inquiry, "When do you expect the men's rations," a cavalry colonel replied, "God only knows. "
     I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     L. B. NORTON,
     Captain, and Chief Signal Officer.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 252.

The efforts of the signal corp are much under appreciated.  They managed to gather surprisingly accurate intelligence and contributed much to the ability of the army commanders to plan their movements.  This is an excellent example.  The location of Fitz Lee, General Ewell, and general Steuart are all revealed here, as well as the fact that General Robert E. Lee had not been in the vacinity in some time.  It should be noted that the lack of pollution in that period of time meant the distance at which things could be seen was much greater than today.  Also revealing is the decoded exchange related to rations for the Confederate army.

October 3, 1863 (Monday): Union Demoralization

Colonel Lunsford Lomax

October 3, 1863.
Brigadier-General LOMAX:
    SIR: The entire Yankee army is falling back. The Sixth and Third Corps started to re-enforce Rosecrans last night. They are marching to-day, and everything indicates a hurried retreat. The Eleventh Corps having been withdrawn from the railroads, its place is supplied by the cavalry picketing along the Rappahannock. This cavalry is of Gregg's division, and was drawn from the front. Their army is very much demoralized. Thousands of the conscripts have thrown away their guns, and are scattered through the country. If we only had a heavy force of cavalry here, what a strike we would make.  Just opposite to me are the Yankee pickets in sight at [paper mutilated], belonging to the Fourth.
[Signature torn off.]

P. S.- They admit that they have been badly whipped in Tennessee, and that this movement is in consequence of it.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 773.

It is often wondered why the Union Army did not follow up its victory at Gettysburg, especially with Longstreet's Corp absent from the Army of Northern Virginia.  A simple answer is that events often tend to follow headlines, and at the first of October the headlines were of the Confederate victory at Chickamauga and the seige of Rosecrans troops at Chattanooga.  It would probably have been well for the Union forces in the east to be kept well in hand and a blow struck at Lee's army.  But there was considerable consternation at the events in the west and the withdrawal of troops from Meade's forces was the remedy chosen for that particular ailment.  With colder weather at hand, time for active campaigning was running out.  Another fact alluded to here is that the new conscripts were an uneven lot, and flimsy stock on which to build an army. Lomax was in charge of scouts and partisan rangers in Northern Virginia and here is receiving a report, perhaps from Mosby.

October 2, 1863 (Sunday): Wheeler Attacks Rosecrans Supply Train

Area of Signal Mountain Where Wheeler Attacked Union Wagon Train (Civil War

CHATTANOOGA, TENN., October 2, 1863-10.30 p.m. [Received 2 p.m., 3rd.]
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    The rebel cavalry, which crossed between Burnside and our left, turned our cavalry; got to Anderson, by Pikeville, before the cavalry of McCook reached there. Attacked and burned our wagons at the foot of the mountain. A general supply and ammunition train was there. The extent of the disaster is not yet known. The non-arrival of our cavalry there not yet explained, nor do we know where it is. Infantry is moving to the point from both this way and Bridgeport. The enemy still on our front, preparing and awaiting the effects of his raids. The Eleventh Corps is at Bridgeport. No advices from its commander nor from Hooker yet received.

       W. S. ROSECRANS,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 30, Part 4, Page 32.

 Joe Wheeler's cavalry destroyed a Union supply train on Walden's Ridge (Signal Mountain).  The last supply line into Chattanooga was now destroyed and rosecrans soldiers were reduced to quarter rations.  The ten mile long wagon train stretched from the top of the mountain into the Sequatchie Valley.  Up to 700 wagons were captured or destroyed along with more than 1,000 mules.  However, Bragg was not able to succeed in starving out the Union forces, despite the success of the raid.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 1, 1863 (Saturday): Polk and Hindman Charged

General Leonidas K. Polk

RICHMOND, October 1, 1863.
Near Chattanooga, Tenn.:
     Your dispatch, stating you had suspended Generals Polk and Hindman from command, received. I am directed to inform you that the power of a commanding general in such cases is limited to arrest and to the furnishing charges in order to trial, and that suspension from command as above be considered punishment without trial.

      S. COOPER,
      Adjutant and Inspector General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 30, Part 2, Page 60.

Bragg had sent Polk and Hindman away from their commands on September 29 for failing to be prompt in attacking as ordered at Chickamauga.  In the end, nothing would come of the charges.  Polk and Hindman would be sent to other commands.  In February the unpopular Bragg would be relieved.  Long since he had lost the confidence of the generals in his army.  An interesting point of military justice presents itself here.  Often senior officers were placed in arrest by their commanders (Stonewall Jackson, for one, was a frequent practicioner of this method).  But they were not sent away from their commands, and seldom did the cases ever come to courts martial.