Sunday, October 20, 2013

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 The Eleventh Corps having been withdrawn from the railroads, its place is supplied by the cavalry picketing along the Rappahannock.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.

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