Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 23, 1864 (Thursday); 4,800 Hogs Saved

Knoxville, 1856

KNOXVILLE, January 23, 1864.
Major General U. S. GRANT:
    We have secured the whole drove of 4,800 hogs which was threatened with capture. The rebels have ceased to press vigorously. I have no idea that they intend to undertake a siege. It is absolutely necessary that the army have rest. I have therefore ordered the whole to go into quarters, and shall post the different corps so as to hold this place, the line of railroad to Loudon, Loudon itself, [and] the line of river to Kingston. I shall also hold Maryville and surrounding country, and the country south of the French Broad as far up as the cavalry can hold.
    The country north of us cannot be held for want of forage. I have out posts at Clinton and Wheeler's Gap. All the trains will now come by the way of Kingston. I shall push the building of the bridge at this place and Loudon. We are quite secure, I think, in all our arrangements. We have 900,000 rations of meat, of which 400,000 are slated; ten days' rations of coffee and sugar, but none of bread.
    I shall send all the animals to the rear for forage.

     J. G. FORSTER,

Official Records, Series I., Vol, 32 Part 2, Pages 183-184.

Knoxville was still under threat but Forster had enough troops and there enough from other commands within supporting distance that the threat was not overwhelming.  Longstreet believed he could still take Knoxville provided he could get across Forster's line of supply.  But that would require retaining cavalry needed by Johnston, and moving his command on bad roads in winter conditions.

January 22, 1864 (Wednesday): Short Rations In Lee's Army


January 22, 1864.
    The commanding general considers it due to the army to state that the temporary reduction of rations has been caused by circumstances beyond the control of those charged with its support. Its welfare and comfort are the objects of his constant and earnest solicitude, and no effort has been spared to provide for its wants. It is hoped that the exertions now being made will render the necessity of short duration, but the history of the army has shown that the country can require no sacrifice too great for its patriotic devotion.
     Soldiers! You tread with no unequal step the road by which your fathers marched through suffering, privations, and blood to independence. Continue to emulate in the future, as you have in the past, their valor in arms, their patient endurance of hardships, their high resolve to be free, which no trail could shake, no bride seduce, no danger appeal, and be assured that the just God who crowned their efforts with success will, His own good time, send down His blessing upon yours.

      R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 1117.

Lee was worried about the very survival of the army itself.  The shortage in rations was not, as Lee maintained here, "beyond the control of those charged with its support".  Authorities in Richmond were not without blame for the shortage of rations, even if continued Union incursions made supply more difficult.  War weariness was growing in both north and south.

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 21, 1864 (Tuesday): Hotchkiss, Topographical Engineer

Hotchkiss' Map of the Battle of Cedar Creek (

STAUNTON, VA., January 21, 1864.
Major General J. A. EARLY,
Commanding Volley District, Harrisonburg, Va.:
    GENERAL: I last night received your letter of yesterday, giving me instructions. I brought my assistants along with me, with the consent of Generals Ewell and Lee, and I have obtained quarters in Staunton, where I can keep them at work and supervise them once a week at least.
    I have a surveyed map of Rockbridge County, and also a survey of portions of Augusta, Bath, and Allegheny Counties, and I shall have them at once put together by my assistants, and so forward the work assigned me. I am now making tracings of the maps I have  to take along with me, that I may verify them; that and other necessary preparations will occupy the rest of this week, and on Monday I shall start, and go first along the line of the North Mountain, by the road nearest to it on the east, and go as far as where the road from the Sweet Springs to Fincastle crossed the same mountain, then come back by the nearest line of parallel roads on the west of the North Mountain, and so back and forth until I reach the Allegheny Mountains, as I suppose by so doing I shall examine all the crossings of the mountains from one parallel valley to another. I think I had better make the main road from Harrisonburg, through Staunton, Lexington, Buchanan, and Fincastle, on the Salem, the limit of the map on the southeast; the road from Dry River Gap to Harrisonburg and the Parkersburg road from Staunton westward the limit on the northeast; the Allegheny Mountains the limit on the southwest, making a section of country 100 miles long and 40 wide, as shown in the inclosed tracing. * Such, I understand, is the intention of your orders when you ask for "a map of Augusta and Rockbridge form Staunton and Lexington westward, and the counties adjoining them on the west," and "ascertain the routes from Covington to Lexington, Buchanan, Fincastle, and Salem. " All the materials from Staunton northeast to the proposed line are now ready to my hand, and only need reduction. If this boundary is not the one you desire, please specify to me a limit. I need a courier or cavalryman to go along with me; it expedites my observations much to have some one to send to ascertain names of houses, &c., while I am taking notes and sketching topography. A courier of Major Allan's (A. D. Moore) desires to accompany me, and General Ewell and Major Allan have consented for him to come, but General Lee has referred the matter to you. I will be obliged to you if you will approve it. I have asked Colonel Imboden to let one of his men accompany me next week, which will, I hope, meet with your approval. I have always had a courier sent with me when on such duty.
    I propose to construct the map on a scale of 1\160000 or 4\10 of an inch to the mile. My address will be Staunton.
    I am, general, you obedient servant,

    Captain and Topographical Engineer, Second Corps.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Pages 1111-1112.

Hotchkiss had written his name large in history by his work for Stonewall Jackson during his famous Valley campaign.  He continued in the same capacity with Jackson's sucessor's, most notably Jubal Early.  His diary of the war, "Make Me A Map of the Valley" is a very worthwhile acquisition for any student of Jackson, or the war in Virginia generally.

January 20, 1864 (Monday): Lee Contemplates An Attack On New Berne

General George Pickett
HEADQUARTERS, January 20, 1864.
President Confederate States:
   Mr. PRESIDENT: I have delayed replying to your letter of the 4th until the time arrived from the execution of the attempt of on New Berne. I regret very much that the boats on the Neuse and Roanoke are not completed. With their aid I think success would be certain. Without them, though the place may be captured, the fruits of the expedition will be lessened and our maintenance of the command of the waters in North Carolina uncertain. I think every effort should be made now to get them into service as soon as possible. You will see by the inclosed letters to Generals Pickett and Whiting the arrangements made for the land operations. The water expedition I am willing to trust to Colonel Wood. If he can succeed in capturing the gun-boats I think success will be ceratin, as it was by aid from the water that I expected Hoke to be mainly assisted.
    In view of the opinion expressed in your letter, I would go to North Carolina myself, but I consider my presence here always necessary, especially now, when there is such a struggle to keep the army fed and clothed. General Early is still in the valley. The enemy there has been re-enforced by troops from Meade's army, and [by] calling down General Averell with his cavalry. I do not know what their intentions are. Report from General Early yesterday stated that Averell with his cavalry had started for Moorefield. I will, however, go to North Carolina if you think it necessary. General Fitz. Lee brought out of Hardy 110 prisoners, 250 horses and mules, 27 wagons, and 460 head of cattle. He captured 40 wagons, but 13 turned over on the mountains and had to be abandoned. He had also to leave behind between 100 and 200 head of cattle. The difficulties he encountered were very great, owing to the extreme cold, ice, storms, &c. Nearly all his men were frost-bitten, some badly; many injury by the falling of their horses. He got within 6 miles of Paddytown, but could not cross the mountains,owing to the icy roads and the smoothness of his horses. He could take with him neither artillery nor wagons.
     I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 1101-1102.

Ironically, a day after Grant had written Halleck of his proposal for a move on Raleigh by way of Eastern North Carolina, Lee is continuing to press for an attack on Union forces at New Berne, NC.  Neither Grant's nor Lee's proposals would come to fruition.  The Confederate gunboats mentioned would be slow in construction and require troops to defend them.  Yet there was sufficient Confederate force in Pickett's command near to Richmond to allow movement into eastern NC if necessary.  And it does not appear that Grant's proposal was ever seriously considered in Washington, which remained focused on Richmond.

January 19, 1864 (Sunday): Grant Proposes A Move On Raleigh

Dome of the NC Capital, Raleigh

Nashville, Tenn., January 19, 1864.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief of the Army, Washington, D. C.:
    GENERAL: I would respectfully suggest whether an abandonment of all previously attempted lines to Richmond is not advisable, and in lieu of these one be taken farther south. I would suggest Raleigh, N. C., as the objective point and Suffolk as the starting point. Raleigh once secured, I would make New Berne the base of supplies until Wilmington is secured.
    A moving force of 60,000 men would probably be required to start on such an expedition. This force would not have to be increased unless Lee should withdraw from his present position. In that case the necessity for so large a force on the Potomac would not exist. A force moving from Suffolk would destroy first all the roads about Weldon, or even as far north as Hicksford. From Weldon to Raleigh they would scarcely meet with serious opposition. Once there, the most interior line of railway still left to the enemy, in fact the only one they would then have, would be so threatened as to force him to use a large portion of his army in guarding it. This would virtually force an evacuation of Virginia and indirectly of East Tennessee. It would throw our armies into new fields, where they could partially live upon the country and would reduce the stores of the enemy. It would cause thousands of the North Carolina troops to desert and return to their homes. It would give us possession of many negroes who are now indirectly aiding the rebellion. It would draw the enemy from campaigns of their own choosing, and for which they are prepared, to new lines of operations never expected to become necessary. It would effectually blockade Wilmington, the port now of more value to the enemy than all the balance of their sea-coast. It would enable operations to commence at once by removing the war to a more southern climate, instead of months of inactivity in winter quarters. Other advantages might be cited which would be likely to grow out of this plan, but these are enough. From your better opportunities of studying he country and the armies that would be involved in this plan, you will be better able to judge of the practicability of it than I possibly can. I have written this in accordance with what I understand to be an invitation from you to express my views about military operations, and not to insist that any plan of mine should be carried out.          Whatever course is agreed upon, I shall always believe is at least intended for the best, and until fully tested will hope to have it prove so.
     I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     U. S. GRANT,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 394-395.

It is interesting, given the success Grant ultimately achieved by moving overland to Richmond, that he believed the best course was not such a campaign, but a movement against Raleigh through eastern North Carolina.  His reasoning is sound, and it would have been interesting to see what the result might have been had he been permitted to attempt this strategy.  North Carolina was becoming less solidly bound to the Confederacy, and it is likely a move against it might have caused the loss of the state and many of its troops.


January 18, 1864 (Sunday): Ewell's Return Clouded

General R. S. Ewell

HEADQUARTERS, January 18, 1864.
Lieutenant General R. S. EWELL,
Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: I have received your letter of the 15th, transmitting a communication to you from the Secretary of War, with your reply. I am glad to hear that you now experience no inconvenience from your injury, and hope you may continue to feel none.
    Your answer to the Secretary is such as I would expect from a true soldier and patriot as yourself. But I cannot take upon myself to decide in this matter. You are the proper person, on consultation with your medical advisers. I do not know how much ought to be attributed to long absence from the field, general debility, or the result of your injury, but I was in constant fear during the last campaign that you would sink under your duties or destroy yourself. In either event injury might have resulted. I last spring asked for your appointment provided you were able to take the field. You now know from experience what you have to undergo, and can best judge of your ability to endure it. I fear we cannot anticipate less labor than formerly.
     Wishing you every happiness, and that you may be able to serve the country to the last.  I am, very truly, yours,

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Pages 1095-1096.

Ewell had suffered the effects of his injury at Second Manassas for more than a year, had been struck by a ball in his wood leg at Gettysburg, and on the 15th had toppled off his horse in the snow.  He still expressed himself able to carry out his duties, but clearly Lee had doubts.  During the Overland Campaign in 1864 he would find ample reason to believe his doubts justified.  Ewell was not physically fit for field duty and his physical problems seemed to combine with a lack of decisiveness to make him particularly ineffective as a corp commander.


January 17, 1864 (Saturday): A Question of Command

General Samuel Jones

Dublin, January 17, 1864.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army:
    GENERAL: On the 6th of September last, under instructions from the War Department, I assumed command of that portion of South-western Virginia embraced in the Department of East Tennessee and all the forces east of Knoxville belonging to that department, and continued to exercise command in that department until, in the course of military operations, Lieutenant-General Longstreet came with his command east of Knoxville. Whilst I was exercising that command the former commander of the department, Major-General Buckner, ordered a number of the officers of the Department of East Tennessee to report to me, among them the military court, medical director, and inspector-general of cavalry of his department. They did so, and have been, and are now, acting under my orders. The Secretary of War has informed me that Lieutenant-General Longstreet having come within the Department of East Tennessee, as a matter of course, commands that department by virtue of his superior rank. But no order having been issued relieving me from the command, all the departmental business is still referred to me. If Lieutenant-General Longstreet is in command of the Department of East Tennessee, I respectfully ask that it may be so announced in orders, and that all officers of that department who have reported to me be ordered to report to Lieutenant-General Longstreet.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     SAM. JONES,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 1092.

Longstreet was in command of the region he inhabited by virtue of rank, but he likely had little interest in the adminstrative tasks which went with departmental command, his staff being occupied with maintaining an army in the field.  Jones' relations with Longstreet were not entirely cordial in any event.  It seems at this point in the war nobody knew exactly what use was to be made of Longstreet and his command.  The general himself desired to return to the Army of Northern Virginia, believing Richmond had ignored his suggestions for the area and, therefore, he could best be utilized with Lee's army.  Jones service is little known to history, but his command included defense of the vital salt works in the region and he was, by and large, a capable administrator.

January 16, 1864 (Friday): Rail Wars In Georgia

Georgia State Capital-Milledgeville

RICHMOND, VA., January 16, 1864.
Governor BROWN,
Milledgeville, Ga.:
     General Johnston has notified me that unless the management of the State railroad from Atlanta is improved he will be compelled to fall back for want of supplies. The Quartermaster-General has been directed to offer to you any assistance he can furnish. The vital interest of Georgia is at stake, and I ask for the matter your prompt attention.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 602.

Brown replied by saying Johnston's charges were without merit.  He went to say Confederate officers had taken from the state rails and lost on other roads eight or best engines and over two hundred cars.  Brown demanded two engines and fifty good cars be placed on Georgia railroads by the Confederate government.  Not until then, said the governor, could Johnston's supplies move promptly.  Ironically, for a secession movement founded on a suspicion of centralized government, the decentralized nature of the Confederacy increasingly worked against it as supplies dwindled and war weariness set it.  States increasingly became more hostile toward Richmond.


January 15, 1864 (Thursday): Johnston Looks to West Tennessee

Horses Being Shod (Gardner, Library of Congress)

DALTON, January 15, 1864.
   Mr. PRESIDENT: My recent telegrams to you have shown not only that we cannot hope soon to assume the offensive from this position, but that we are in danger of being forced back from it by the want of food and forage, especially the latter. Since my arrival very little long forage has been received, and nothing like full rations of corn, and that weevil-eaten. The officer commanding the artillery of a division which I inspected to-day reported that his horses had but 13 pounds each of very bad corn in the last three days. Of the four brigades I inspected to-day, two cannot march for want of shoes. We are not receiving enough to supply the consumption.
    I have directed that half the artillery shall be encamped on the Etowah, with all the wagons not required here for camp service.
    Major-General Wheeler informs me that five and a half of the eight brigades of cavalry belonging to the Army of Tennessee are with General Longstreet. I have placed two-thirds of that remaining with this army to the southwest of Rome, not only to put the horses in condition for a campaign but in the hope of making cavalry capable of fighting in battle. If General Longstreet has no further use for the cavalry of this army which is with his, I should very much like to have it here, for rest, refitting, and, above all, instruction.
    It seems to me that there are two routes by which we might advance into Middle Tennessee from our present base, whenever this State road is so managed as to enable us to accumulate supplies sufficient for the enterprise, and we have a sufficient force. The first from Rome, via Huntsville, crossing the Tennessee near Gunter's Landing. By it we should turn the Cumberland Mountains. The other, that by which General Bragg left Tennessee, would be very difficult, and would require immense means. We should have either to expose ourselves to an army in Chattanooga, while passing the river, or besiege that fortress. It is certain that we cannot make such sieges. Either of these routes, through barren and mountainous tracts, would require great supply trains. By General Leadbetter's estimate, the equipage of one brigade over the Tennessee would require 150 wagons.
    Should the enemy attempt to penetrate to Atlanta, and we be able to beat him and have then ready the means of marching across the Cumberland Mountains, as well as crossing the Tennessee, the offensive would be easy.
    If East Tennessee can furnish provision and forage for the march thence into Middle Tennessee, this army might join Longstreet for that enterprise. Two thousand or 3,000 cavalry could prevent a hostile army from reaching Atlanta in less than a month.
     I think, however, that Mississippi would give us the best base of offensive operations. From it we can easily take possession of West Tennessee, which, with Mississippi, has abundant supplies for a large army.
     These ideas are expressed, not from opinion of their own value, but in the hope of turning your thoughts to this important subject for my instruction.
     It is thought by all the officers with whom I have conversed on the subject that the temper of the army would be greatly improved by the restoration of the organization which existed before the battle of Missionary Ridge. The West Tennesseans are said to be absolutely discontented. I have therefore recommended for favorable consideration an application for the reformation of Major-General Cheatham's former division. Lieutenant-General Polk urges the sending the West Tennessee regiments, under General Cheatham, to his command, thinking that they would thus soon be filled from West Tennessee. To me there would be as much fear of desertion as hope of recruiting.
     I beg leave again to express the hope that Your Excellency will strengthen this army by appointing to it lieutenant-generals. The value of the formation of corps d'armee seems to me to depend upon having competent lieutenant-generals to command them.
     Most respectfully, your obedient servant,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 32, Part 2, Page 560.

Johnston believed moving to West Tennessee offered the best defense to Atlanta.  Any move directly on East Tennessee, with the massed Union forces there, seemed out of the question.  You begin to see Johnston at least consider going to the defensive in a campaign against Atlanta and then attacking and driving a beaten army out of the area.  But logistics, as always, are a concern and there is not sufficient feed for his animals.


Monday, January 13, 2014

January 14, 1864 (Wednesday): To Put An End To The War

General Raleigh A. Colston

Savannah, Ga., January 14, 1864.
Brigadier General THOMAS JORDAN,
Chief of Staff, Charleston, S. C.:
     GENERAL: The past two or three days have brought to light a bad state of affairs here. Among the troops stationed at the batteries on Rose Dew Island, mouth of the Little Ogeechee River, there are at least a few men of bad spirit who have been attempting to excite the troops there and at other points around Savannah to acts of insubordination and desertion. It is to be feared even that a spirit of discontent has spread throughout the whole command at Rose Dew, extending possibly to other companies.
    As reported by a corporal stationed at Beauleiu, the conspirators proposed to march away from their post on the island yesterday evening, going in a body with their arms to the interior of this State. They expressed themselves tired of the war and said they thought such a step on their part would end it. A secret oath had been exacted of all admitted to their confidence not to divulge their intentions.
Believing these reports might be well founded, I advised Brigadier-General Mercer, commanding the District of Georgia, to send Colonel Olmstead's regiment and a part of Colonel Gordon's command
last evening to take position near the Little Ogeechee to observe the enemy in his threatened advance from that quarter, with private instructions to watch the garrison at Rose Dew Island.
These dispositions were made and the suspected troops watched. No movement was attempted by them during the night.
    By order of General Mercer a board of officers is now engaged in a rigid investigation of the whole matter, and as soon as the facts are known the guilty men will be arrested and placed in close confinement for trial and punishment. This spirit of discontent has ripened into an intent to desert under the influence of idleness, a want of active service for officers and men, and I am satisfied it will be best to exchange some of the troops here for others, sending the disaffected to Charleston or some other point where they will be in the presence of the enemy.
    The companies at Rose Dew are Company F (Captain J. W. Anderson), Company I (Captain Elkins), Fifty-fourth Georgia Regiment, and Jackson Guards (Captain Tanner), who claims to belong to the Fourth Florida Battalion, but is considered here as commanding an independent company. There are two other companies of the Fifty-fourth Georgia Regiment here, commanded by Captains Russell and Brantley; the latter is with the siege train.
    As a change of duty may be the means of improving the tone of these disaffected troops, I propose to order the four companies of Colonel Way's regiment, Fifty-fourth Georgia, and the Jackson Guards, Captain Tanner, to the Third Military District of South Carolina, and replace them here by the Twelfth Georgia Battalion, Major Hanvey.
     The Fifty-seventh Georgia Regiment should be sent on duty in presence of the enemy, say at Charleston or some other point, and another regiment sent here to replace it. The men of this regiment complain, as stated by Brigadier-General Colston, that they were not properly exchanged after their capture at Vicksburg. Will the commanding general take these troops to Charleston and send a good regiment to replace them here? If this cannot be done, perhaps an exchange might be arranged so as to bring a regiment from the Army of Tennessee or from Virginia.
     The inclosed report from Brigadier-General Colston gives a clear statement of what has transpired up to this hour, and I concur fully in the recommendations therein made. Prompt action will probably be the means of avoiding future trouble, and add to the general efficiency of our available strength.
The individuals found guilty of exciting their companions in arms to discontent and desertion should be promptly punished.
     I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     J. F. GILMER,
    Major-General and Second in Command.

January 14, 1864.
Captain G. A. MERCER,
Assistant Adjutant-General:
SIR: On Tuesday, 12th instant, a communication was received from Captain Hanleiter, commanding Beaulieu Battery, to the effect that a non-commissioned officer had informed him of the existence of a plot among the garrison at Rose Dew, the purpose of which was to abandon the post at Rose Dew with arms, ammunition, &c., to win over the troops at Beaulieu if possible, to advance toward Savannah, taking with them the Terrell Artillery at White Bluff, whose adhesion was considered certain, also some State troops camped on the Skidaway road, and to come to the camp of the Fifty-seventh Georgia, upon whom they seemed to rely as ready to join them, the whole to make their way to the interior of the country, their avowed purpose being to induce by their example as many of the troops as possible to imitate them and by refusing to bear arms any longer "to put an end to the war." The plot was to be executed on last night. I immediately send Captain W. T. Taliaferro, my assistant adjutant-general, to Beaulieu and Rose Dew to investigate the matter. In the mean time an order was sent from district headquarters for the arrest of Private Coleman, Company F, Fifty-fourth Georgia, and he was sent on to the barracks at Savannah. From the result of investigations made by Major Hartridge, commanding at Rose Dew, and Captain Taliaferro it became evident that the plot, which at first appeared so improbable, did really exist.
    On yesterday I ordered about 300 men from the First Georgia Regiment and the First Florida Battalion, under the command of Colonel Olmstead, First Georgia, to repair to the causeway connecting Rose Dew Island with the mainland and cut off the communication between the two. Captain Guerard's battery of artillery was ordered to support him. One hundred and fifty men from the Sixty-third Georgia Regiment, under Major Allen, were ordered to report to Colonel Olmstead. These movements of troops were made ostensibly for the purpose of meeting some demonstrations of the enemy by way of the Ogeechee.
    No attempt of any kind was made on last night by the garrison at Rose Dew. The arrest of Coleman and the concentration of troops has evidently frustrated the design, but from the report of Sergeant Hinson to Captain Tanner (Jackson Guards, at Rose Dew), the attempt was not given up until late yesterday evening. Another non-commissioned officer confessed last night to Captain Tanner that nearly the whole company had agreed to go off that night. All the parties concerned were pledged to secrecy by an oath.
     A board has been ordered by district headquarters to investigate further into the matter. The troops sent to Rose Dew to check any attempt will remain there until further orders. I would respectfully offer the following suggestions:
     First. That a court-martial be convened forthwith for the immediate trial of the parties implicated; that the proceedings of this court be revised at once by the proper authority and the sentences be immediately carried into effect. A terrible and very prompt punishment is indispensable in such an extreme case.
     Second. That the troops at Rose Dew be removed from that post and their place supplied by others upon whom reliance can be placed.
    Third. That the Fifty-seventh Georgia Regiment be transferred either to the Army of Tennessee or of Virginia. The spirit of this regiment (the Fifty-seventh Georgia) is bad. The troops say that they have never been properly exchanged, and the impression prevails, probably with good reason, that they will not fight if brought before the enemy. They are demoralized by the influence of home, to which they are too near, their friends and relatives persuading them that they have not been properly exchanged and ought to be at home. Their presence here may have a bad effect upon the other troops and their spirit and tone may be improved by removal to more distant points.
    It will be necessary, of course, to send other troops in the place of those removed.
    I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. E. COLSTON,
    Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 35, Part 1, Pages 529-532.

This is one of the most advanced plots at mutiny during the war.  The plan was to take the command and march on Savannah and then to the interior of Georgia, inducing troops they encountered along the way to end the war.  It had little hope of success, but it another reflection of the dire state of affairs in the Confederacy at the start of 1864.  A key point made by Colston is that being close to home actually acted as an inducement to mutiny, as it was too easy to be influenced by a civilian population much more disenchanted with the war than the military was.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

January13, 1864 (Tuesday): Hill Puts Things To Right

Bristoe Station ( Robert Yates)

Orange Court-House, January 13, 1864.
Major General H. HETH,
Commanding Division:
    GENERAL: Having been informed that it was probable some misapprehension existed in regard to your management of your division at Gettysburg, Falling Waters, and Bristoe, it is but simple justice to you that I say your conduct on all those occasions met with my approbation. At Gettysburg the first day's fight, mainly fought by your division, was a brilliant victory. You were wounded that day, and not again in command of your division until the retreat commenced. At Falling Waters the enemy were kept at bay until the army had crossed the Potomac, and the prisoners taken by the enemy were stragglers, and not due to any fault of yours. At Bristoe the attack was ordered by me, and most gallantly made by your division; another corps of he enemy coming up on your right was unforeseen, as I had supposed that other troops were taking care of them. I write you this letter that you may make such use of it as may be deemed advisable by you.
    Very respectfully,

    A. P. HILL,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 2, Page 811.

Gettysburg was already becoming a source of great discussion in the press.  Heth was taking blame for bringing on combat at Gettysburg on the first day when Lee wanted to avoid a general engagement.  At Bristoe, Heth had attacked at the railroad embankment with great loss.  But Hill rightly took responsibility for that and was generous in assuring his responsibility was known.


January 12, 1864 (Monday): A Hard Winter In Eastern Tennessee

Bridge at Strawberry Plains, Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, January 12, 1864.
Major General U. S. GRANT:
   The cold weather and high rivers have made things worse; many animals are dying daily; the pontoon bridge at this place has been broken twice since you left by high water and floating ice. As soon as the bridge at Strawberry Plains is done and weather moderates I shall move two corps to Dandridge to obtain forage and corn and wheat. Everything is eaten out north of Holston River, also nearly everything is eaten up at Mossy Creek. My move to French Broad River is therefore rendered imperative. Some quartermaster stores have arrived, but not in sufficient quantity. No rations by last boats. Am entirely destitute of bread, coffee, and sugar. Have telegraphed this to General Thomas. Trust you may be able to raise the amount of supplies by river. The weather is intensely cold, with one inch of snow on the ground.

     J. G. FOSTER,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 32, Part 2, Pages 71.

Foster's account is a good example of why winter campaigns were simply not practical in most cases.  Subsisting man and beast was difficult and moving a force of any size over poor roads and swollen rivers often was impossible.


January 11, 1864 (Sunday): The Force at Moorefield

Cumberland, Maryland

New Creek, W. Va., January 11, 1864.
Captain T. MELVIN,
A. A. G., Dept. of West Virginia, Cumberland, Md.:
    CAPTAIN: Colonel Thoburn reports that a deserter from McNeill's company arrived yesterday morning at Petersburg, who reports that the force in the vicinity of Moorefield is composed of detachments from the commands of Imboden and Fitzhugh Lee. He states that the conversation among the men is that Early is at Orkney Springs and Fitzhugh Lee's entire command in camp. He heard them talk of shoeing their horses and making another demonstration in the direction of Petersburg. The supply train has reached Petersburg in safety. The enemy was in wait for it across the Patterson's Creek Mountain, but owing to the strength of the guard did not attack.
    I am, captain, faithfully,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 372.

Early's whereabouts were still of great concern to Union planners.  The war in western Virginia never really subsided until late in the war.  Although there were few battles of any size in the region, there was always fighting or threats of fighting.  The B&O Railroad was constantly protected and threatened.


January 10, 1864 (Saturday): Longstreet Eyes Washington

Nenney House, Russelville TN (Longsteet's HQ)


Russellville, E. Tenn., January 10, 1864.
General R. E. LEE, Commanding, &c.:
    GENERAL: I have been trying to work out some plan by which we may be begin operations before the enemy, and at lest disconcert his plans. I do not think we can do anything here or at Chattanooga. I have concluded there is no other opportunity but in Virginia. If we could leave our cavalry here to destroy the railroad and take our infantry to Virginia, it seems to me that we might, by using the turnpike roads, throw our forces behind General Meade me catch him in the mud, and either push on and get Washington or fight him to greater advantage than we can have anywhere else; or you might make arrangements to mount a corps, for locomotion, and throw it with your cavalry behind Meade, and let it push on and get Washington. These plans cannot be well digested, as I have no information as to the difficulties, &c.
    If the plan to mount a corps is thought practicable we should take every precaution to prevent its being known or suspected and I would suggest that in collecting saddles for the purpose that the Quartermaster-General be ordered to collect them for General Kirby Smith, and let the horses and mules be got together in General Johnston's name. We could begin to retire from here about the 10th of February, and upon reaching Briston have transportation for Gordonsville ready. Everything should be in readiness for us upon our arrival at Gordonsville or Staunton, so that we should meet with no delay. This should be by the 1st of March, so as to have the full benefit of the bad roads. My position under present circumstances seems to be somewhat precarious. I am just strong enough to tempt the enemy to concentrate against me, and either destroy me or drive me back as far as chooses.
     General Johnston cannot aid me, as the enemy can occupy this fortifications about Chattanooga, and send up such forces here as he chooses. We should have the means of communication and cooperation, or we should not allow armies to lie between us.
    I remain, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

    Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

Official Record, Series I., Vol. 32, Part 2, Pages 541-542.

Longstreet concluded he would receive no support from Richmond for his plans in Tennessee.  So, he made the interesting proposal to Lee to return back east and combine with him to gain Meade's rear and make a rapid movement on WashingtonThe weather would argue against the plan, and it was no adopted, but it presaged, in a way, Early's run at Washington in the Monocacy campaign.

January 9, 1864 (Friday): Longstreet Offers His Resignation

General James Longstreet

Richmond, January 9, 1864.
General ROBERT E. LEE,
Commanding Army of Northern Virginia, Orange C. H., Va.:
    GENERAL: Lieutenant-General Longstreet has asked to be relieved from his present command and corps. Would you advise his exchange with Lieutenant-General Ewell? Please answer for information of the President.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     S. COOPER,
     Adjutant and Inspector General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 32, Part 2, Page 539.

Longstreet was not happy with the authorities in Richmond, who he felt were not giving due consideration to his thoughts on strategy.  He offered his resignation, likely not believing it would be accepted.  Lee replied the next day that he did not do the reasons Longstreet offered to resign, but did not believe he could easily be replaced or that an exchange with Ewell would be beneficial to the troops of either corp.  In his post war memoirs he mentions this offer in connection with the promotion of Edmund Kirby Smith to rank him as a full general, however the Confederate congress had yet to approve the promotion of a sixth full general.

January 8, 1864 (Thursday): A Slur Denied (After A Fashion)

General William Henry French

January 8, 1864.
Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,
Asst. Adjt. General, Hdqrs. Army of the Potomac:
   GENERAL: Inclosed is a copy of the New York Tribune of the 7th instant, to which I respectfully invite the attention of the major-general commanding the army to request to be informed whether the statement made by a Rev. Mr. Hall, set forth in the paragraph marked, particularly that italicized, were furnished and sanctioned by him.
    I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    WM. H. FRENCH,
    Major-General of Volunteers.


The Rev. S. A. Hall, of Dover, N. H., recently visited the Army of the Potomac and called upon General Meade. He writes to a New Hampshire paper that he asked General Meade to explain his last campaign, and the general was kind enough to do so, as follows:
    I went over the river to fight, and if my orders had been obeyed, I am confident that Lee's army might have been defeated. My plan was to cross at Germanna Ford, take the road to Orange Court-House, and push on rapidly. If Lee should send forces to stop me, to attack him in force and destroy that portion of his army before he could concentrate the whole of it to oppose me. But one of my corps commanders failed me. He was commanded to march at 6 o'clock in the morning, but did not move until 8 o'clock. He was directed, if Lee sent forces to oppose him, to attack at once. Lee did send Ewell down the Orange Court-House road, just as I expected, but my general stood and looked at him all day and did not fight. So we lost twenty-four hours, and that gave Lee notice and time to concentrate his army, and take so strong a position that it could not be carried without great loss and a risk of losing our army. Such a fight would have damaged us and encouraged the rebels, and prolonged the war, and I gave the order to retreat. The corps commander referred to was General French, who was probably too drunk to know or do his duty.

JANUARY 8, 1864.
Commanding Officer Third Corps:
     I am directed by the commanding general to acknowledge the receipt of your note of this date, inclosing a copy of the New York Tribune, and calling his attention to an article therein.
    The commanding general desires me to say to you that he has no recollection of ever having had any conversation with the Rev. Mr. Hall, though, as he receives numerous visitors, it is not impossible this gentleman may have called on him. The commanding general is, however, quite positive he never authorized that part of the article in italics, nor does the rest of the article accurately convey his views; if, however, the commanding general had any conversation with Mr. Hall, he thinks it probable he may have told him what he has officially reported to the War Department, that it was the delay in the movements of the Third Corps, and particularly the failure to effect a junction at Robertson's Tavern on the 27th of November, which was one of the primary causes of the failure of the recent movement across the Rapidan.
     The commanding general presumes this statement will not be a surprise to you, inasmuch as he directed Major-General Humphreys, chief of staff, to inform you officially that your explanation of the delay in the movements of the Third Corps was not satisfactory, and that the matter would have to be the subject of official investigation.
      Very respectfully, &c.,

     Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 1, Pages 747-748.

A tall, heavy set man, it was said of him he resembled "one of those plethoric French colonels, who are so stout, and who look so red in the face, that one would suppose someone had tied a cord tightly around their neck."  Meade blamed French for the aborted Mine Run campaign through his slowness to move on the 27th.  His denial here, through his AAG Williams, is specific only to his remembering a specific conversation with the Reverend Mr. Hall.  Meade clearly did believe, and took pains to point out, that French's performance was unacceptable.  The matter of drunkeness is not touched upon.  French would shortly be separated from the army and placed on garrison duty.


Monday, January 6, 2014

January 7, 1864 (Wednesday): Friendly Fire at Fort Sumter

Fort Johnson (Harper's Weekly)

Fort Johnson, January 7, 1864.
Lieutenant C. S. FINDLAY,
Acting Adjutant of Post:
    SIR: I have the honor to forward the report of Lieutenant Halsey, Company A, Second Regiment Artillery, who was in charge of the battery on the night of the 3rd instant, explaining why he opened fire on Fort Sumter.
    I would most respectfully state, in addition to Lieutenant Halsey's explanation, that positive instructions on that night were given by the commanding officer of artillery not to fire unless the signals were made from Sumter, but it appears by his action that he could not fully have understood the orders issued. It probably may be a palliating circumstances that this company to which this officer is attached had just reported to take the place of Captain Mathewes' artillery, and had not become familiarized with the duties and orders of the post.
    I would also state that, however erroneous may have been the officer's judgment in the case, yet I believe his action was prompted by the best motives, and although under a wrong impression, he thought that he was performing his duty.
    The sentinel who made the false report was punished and the officer would have been arrested, but an order was received on the morning of the 4th instant rendering it necessary to send a portion of his company to take charge of Battery Cheves, as Captain Billopp had been ordered away. There being but 2 officers with Company A, Lieutenant Halsey was obliged to be kept on duty.
    Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     D. G. FLEMING,
     Captain, Commanding Artillery.

James Island, January 7, 1864.
Assistant Adjutant-General:
    MAJOR: I respectfully beg leave to report that I was in charge of the battery at Fort Johnson on the night of the 3rd instant which opened upon Sumter. My reasons for opening were that I firmly believed the fort was attacked by the enemy. I was aware that our boats were at the fort, and trailed my guns to the right to avoid striking them.
    I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

    M. P. HALSEY,
    Second Lieutenant Company A, Second Artillery.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 35, Part 1, Pages 511-512.

The Confederates still controlled Charleston harbor, despite the powerful Union naval force besieging it.  A small boat attack on Fort Sumter was always a possibility.  On the night in question Confederate boats were operating near the fort.  In this instance a sentinel thought the boats were a Union attack on the fort and a battery commander, new to his assignment, opened fire from Fort Johnson.  Three shots were fired wide and to the right of Fort Sumter, before Fleming (in charge at Fort Johnson) stopped the fire.  No trace remains of Fort Johnson, which was located at Windmill Point on James Island.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

January 6, 1864 (Tuesday): Swords or Plows? Day 1000 of the War

Governor T. H. Watts

Montgomery, January 6, 1864.

Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
    SIR: Unless the planting interest in the South can be carried on successfully the armies of the Confederacy cannot be supported. Without iron the planting interests cannot be profitably carried on.
Alabama has an immense quantity of iron ore, and many of her people are making iron, but all or nearly all have contracts with the Confederate Government to deliver all they make to the Government authorities. The Consequence is that the planters, even in the best iron regions of the State, cannot get enough iron to make and repair their agricultural implements. Now, sir, the object of this communication is to ask that the contractors be authorized to sell to planters some of the iron they make. I have numbers of letters showing the necessity for such instructions to your contractors and agents. It is useless to enlarge on a subject which must be fully appreciated at a glance by the Secretary of War. Will you grant this right?
     I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

     T. H. WATTS,
     Governor of Alabama.

Official Records, Series IV., Vol. 3., Part 1, Pages 3-4.

Resources were scarce throughout the south.  So much so that farmers were not able to obtain replacement implements.  Watts had been Attorney General of the Confederate States and now, as governor, was using his connections to try and get relief for farmers in Alabama.  Watts, himself, had been a planter and large slaveholder before the war.


January 5, 1864 (Monday): All Quiet On the Harper's Ferry Front

General Jubal Early

January 5, 1864 - 7 p. m. (Received 7. 15 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
     Shaler's brigade of the Sixth Corps, 1,375 enlisted men, will leave this point at 4 a. m. to-morrow.
Further examination of scouts subsequent to my telegram of 1 p. m. would lead to the conclusion that the infantry of Early's command in the lower valley was only two brigades and some detached regiments.

     GEO. G. MEADE,

Washington, D. C., January 5, 1864 - 4. 20 p. m.
Major-General MEADE,
Army of the Potomac:
     The brigade ordered up will probably be sufficient to supply General Kelley's wants. It will be held here ready for his orders. Last reports from Baltimore and Ohio Railroad indicate no immediate danger.

      H. W. HALLECK,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 348.

Only days before there was alarm that Early was moving to attack Harper's Ferry.  Actually, the force on the move was primarily Imboden's with White's Cavalry.  But the movement of Early to the Valley to check Averell created confusion about both his strength and intention.  Three years in the Union still had the problem they did at the commencement of the war, how to protect the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the lines to the northwest. 

January 4, 1864 (Sunday): Bounties Maintained

Bounty Notice (

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington City, January 4, 1864.
To His Excellency the President of the United States:
     MR. PRESIDENT: I beg to submit to your consideration the accompanying letter of the Provost-Marshal-General in respect to the provision of the joint resolution of Congress of December 23, 1863, relating to the payment of bounties. No one seems to doubt the necessity of increasing the military force for the speedy termination of the rebellion; and although much difference of opinion exists in respect to the merits of the system of raising troops by volunteers, and the payment of bounties, and the system of raising and adequate force by draft, yet two things are certain-
     First. That, whatever may be the weight of argument or the influence of individual opinion, a large portion of the people in every State prefer the method of contributing their proportion of the military force by bounty to volunteers rather than by draft.
     Second. That veteran soldiers who have become inured to service, even when paid bounty, constitute a more capable force than raw recruits or drafted men without bounty.
The information received by this Department from the armies in the field prior to the passage of the resolution referred to indicated that a very large proportion of the forces now in service would have cheerfully re-enlisted for three years under the terms authorized by the order of this Department, and that such enlistments have been checked, and will, in great measure, be put an end to by the restriction imposed by the action of Congress. It is believed, that if any limitation should be imposed upon the payment of bounties to encourage the enlistment of the veteran forces now in the field, it ought not to be sooner than the 1st of February. It is respectfully submitted to your consideration, therefore, whether the attention of Congress might not again well be called to the subject, so that the restriction may be reconsidered.
     I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     Secretary of War.


Secretary of War:
    SIR: After great labor the volunteer recruiting service under the President's call of October 17 is fairly in progress. Letters, all dated between the 20th and 24th of December, from the superintendents of recruiting service in sixteen States are, in the main, very encouraging as to the prospect of getting a large number of recruits by volunteer enlistments. Several of the State were in a fair way to raise the quotas assigned them. The act approved December 23, 1863, forbidding, after January 5, the payment to volunteers of all bounties except $100, authorized by the act of 1861, was not known at the time these favorable reports were made to me. I have no doubt the effect of that act will be to check, if it does not shop, enlistments. Of the $100 bounty provided by act of 1861, but $25 can be paid in advance, $75 being due only after two years" service.
    It took some time after October 17 to get the people aroused to the subject of volunteering; they are now in most States earnestly engaged in it, and I have reports for October, November, and part of December, showing that 42,529 men have been enlisted, and the daily average of enlistments is increasing. Under these circumstances I respectfully suggest the property of a reconsideration of the act forbidding bounties after January 5. I inclose herewith a copy of my report to you of the 25th of December in relation to the subject of the present bounties.*
     I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


*See Vol. III, this series, p.1192 

Official Records, Series III., Vol. 4, Part 1, Pages 5-6.

The states were increasingly having problems meeting their quotas but remained reluctant to practice full conscription.  Only about 52,000 Union soldiers ever entered the war against their will, the remainder being volunteers or substitutes.  It was considered unseemly for a state to have to resort to conscription to meet quotas and it was often the case that wealthier communities within states often met their individual quotas by simply offering higher bounties than poorer communities.  It is estimated that the amount of bounties paid by all state and federal sources amounted to nearly $750,000,000.

January 3, 1864 (Saturday): An Offer of Amnesty

Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction (Library of Congress)

[Inclosure No. 1.] HDQRS. CONFEDERATE FORCES EAST TENNESSEE, January 3, 1864.
    SIR: I find the proclamation of President Lincoln of the 8th of December last in circulation in handbills amongst our soldiers.* The immediate object of this circulation appears to be induce our soldiers to quit our ranks and take the oath of allegiance to the United States Government. I presume, however, that the great object and end in view is to hasten the day of peace.
I respectfully suggest for your consideration the property of communicating any views that your Government may have upon this subject through me, rather than by handbills circulated amongst our soldiers.
     The few men who may desert under the promise held out in the proclamation cannot be men of character or standing. If they desert their cause, they disgrace themselves in the eyes of God and of men. They can do your cause no good nor can they injure ours. As a great Nation you can accept none but an Honorable peace; as a noble people you could have us accept nothing less.
     I submit, therefore, whether the mode that I suggest would not be more likely to lead to an Honorable end than such a circulation of a partial promise of pardon.
     I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

    Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series III., Vol. 4, Part 1, Page 50.

*See Series II, Vol. VI, p.680.  

Longstreet's opposite number in east Tennessee was General J. G. Foster.  Foster had caused copies of the President's December 8 offer of amnesty to be circulated in the field and copies of it came into the hands of Longstreet's men.  Foster responded to this letter by sending twenty copies to Longstreet so he could make distribution to his men himself, making that construction of the Confederate general's comments.  This was not what Longstreet had in mind and lead to a frustrating correspondence between the two with no positive result.  It was clear at this point in the war that enthusiasm for the war was waning at home on both sides, but the discipline of both armies was well established and maintained.  Lincoln's amnesty offer set forth an early view of what reconstruction would consist of.  Generous pardons for those of lower rank, maintaining recent proclamations with regard to slavery, and reconstitution of institutions of government once ten percent of the population had taken the oath.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January 2 1864 (Friday): Lee Proposes to Strike Union Forces In NC

Civil War Entrenchments at Fort Thompson, New Berne, NC

HEADQUARTERS, January 2, 1864.
His Excellency, JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President of the Confederate States:
     Mr. PRESIDENT: The time is at hand when, if an attempt can be made to capture the enemy's forces at New Berne, it should be done. I can, now spare troops for the purpose, which will not be the case as spring approaches. If I have been correctly informed, a brigade from this army, with Barton's brigade (Pickett's division), now near Kinston, will be sufficient, if the attack can be secretly and suddenly made. New Berne is defended on the land side by a line of intrenchments from the Neuse to the Trent. A redoubt near the Trent protects that flank, while three or four gun-boats are relied upon to defend the flank on the Neuse. The garrison has been so long unmolested, and experiences such a feeling of security, that it is represented as careless. The gun-boats are small and indifferent, and do not keep up a head of steam. A bold party could descend the Neuse in boats at night, capture the gun-boats, and drive the enemy from their aid from the works on that side of the river, while a force should attack them in front. A large amount of provisions and other supplies are said to be at New Berne, which are much wanted for this army, besides much that is reported in the country that will thus be made accessible to us. The gun-boats, aided by the iron-clads building on the Neuse and Roanoke, would clear the waters of the enemy and capture their transports, which could be used for transportation. I have not heard what progress is making in the completion of the iron-clads, or when they will be ready for service. A bold naval officer will be required for the boat expedition, with suitable men and officers to man the boats and serve the gun-boats when captured. Can they be had?
I have sent General Early, with two brigades of infantry and two of cavalry, under Fitz. Lee, to Hardy and Hampshire Counties to endeavor to get out some cattle that are reported within the enemy's lines, but the weather has been so unfavorable that I fear he will not meet with much success. The heavy rain-storm will swell all the streams beyond fording, and the cold weather and snow in the mountains will present other obstacles. Many of the infantry are without shoes, and the cavalry worn down by their pursuit of Averell. We are now issuing to the troops a fourth of a pound of salt meat, and have only three day's at that rate. Two droves of cattle from the West that were reported to be for this army have, I am told, been directed to Richmond. I can learn of no supply of meat on the road to the army, and fear I shall be unable to obtain it in the field.
     I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

      R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I.,Vol.33, Part 1, Page 1063.

New Berne had been captured by Burnside during his expedition of 1862 and would remain in Union hands throughout the war.  The description of conditions in the Army of Northern Virginia is as grim as the weather report.  Rations were low and would remain so throughout the remainder of the war.  The threat of Union forces coming toward Atlanta and toward the salt works with western Virginia would only make matters worse for Lee.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January 1, 1864 (Thursday): New Year, New Threat

Harper's Ferry

HARPER'S FERRY, W. VA., January 1, 1864.

Colonel Rodgers,
Martinsburg, W. Va.:
     Should telegraph wire be cut between us use the signal with Maryland Heights.

     J. C. SULLIVAN,

MARTINSBURG, W. VA., January 1, 1864.
Captain BOONE,
Assistant Adjutant-General:
      Telegram received; all your orders are being executed. All my cavalry have gone to support the squadron at Bunker Hill. General Averell has sent a strong force toward North Mountain.

     R. S. RODGERS,
     Colonel, Commanding.

HARPER'S FERRY, W. VA., January 1, 1864.
Colonel RODGERS,
Martinsburg, W. Va.:
      Your own forces are for the protection of the road. You are the commandant of the post. General Averell's command should cover the town. You keep it quiet. I look to you.

     J. C. SULLIVAN,

 MARTINSBURG, W. VA., January 1, 1864.
Captain BOONE,
Assistant Adjutant-General:
     My cavalry party are still at Bunker Hill. Cavalry have gone to their support. It is believed that two rebel brigades are at Winchester.

     R. S. RODGERS,
     Colonel, Commanding.

January 1, 1864. (Received 10. 50 a. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
     Our agent at Martinsburg telegraphs us at 7. 50 this morning that General Averell advised us to move all our power and cars to Harper's Ferry, or east of that. The pickets were driven, at 4 o'clock this a. m., from a point 4 miles north of Winchester. One brigade of the enemy reported as moving toward Martinsburg. The general also reports that the Government pickets were driven in at Bunker Hill and firing heard on the Tuscarora road. These advised appear to be ominous of a heavy movement. Will you require additional transportation, and from what point?

      J. W. GARRETT,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 325.

Early had moved into the Valley in pursuit of Averell, so the perception was created that a threat existed to Harper's Ferry.  The force moving toward there actually was the smaller one of Imboden and White's Cavalry. They had no real offensive intent, and less capability, but the move was enough to cause a realignment of Union forces in the area.

December 31, 1863 (Wednesday): Defending the B&O

Camden Station-Baltimore, Maryland

CAMDEN STATION, Baltimore, Md., December 31, 1863.

Major General H. E. HALLECK, General-in-Chief, and
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
     General Sullivan has information that the enemy is at Winchester, under command of Early, and General Averell advise us to keep our rolling stock in hand to move if necessary. I trust the forces that can be concentrated will be sufficient to prevent the enemy destroying our communications. I know your interest in doing all that is possible for the protection of this important line.

     J. W. GARRETT,
     President Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

WAR DEPARTMENT, December 31, 1863-3.45 p.m.
       Please have your trains, &c., in readiness for rapid movement of troops from Washington and Baltimore west, if necessity should require. Suspend everything that may interfere with his object within the next twelve hours.

       Secretary of War.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 591.

Early had been sent to the Valley to stop the advance of Averell.  Now the raid was over, Early's force (which the Union command overestimated in size) was perceived as a threat to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the key link between Washington and western Pennsylvania and Ohio.


December 30, 1863 (Tuesday): North Carolina Wavers

Governor Zebulon Vance

Raleigh, December 30, 1863.
His Excellency President DAVIS:
     MY DEAR SIR: After a careful consideration of all the sources of discontent in NOrth Carolina, I have concluded that it will be perhaps impossible to remove it except by making some efforts at negotiation with the enemy. The recent action of the Federal House of Representatives, though meaning very little, has greatly excited the public hope that the Northern mind is looking toward peace. I am promised by all men who advocate this course that if fair terms are rejected it will tend greatly to strengthen and intensify the war feeling and will rally all classes to a more cordial support of the Government; and although our position is well known as demanding only to be let alone, yet it seems to me that, for the sake of humanity, without having any weak or improper motives attributed to us, we might with propriety constantly tender negotiations. In doing so we would keep conspicuously before the world a disclaimer of our responsibility for the great slaughter of our race and convince the humblest of our citizens, who sometimes forget that actual situation, that the Government is tender of their lives and happiness and would not prolong their sufferings unneccessarily one moment. Though statesmen might regard this as uselless, the people will not, and I think our cause will be strengthened thereby. I have not suggested the method of these negotiations or their tems; the effort to obtain peace is the principal matter. Allow me to beg your earnest consideration of this suggestion.
     Very respectfully, yours,

     Z. B. VANCE.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 1, Page 807.

Vance was in a precarious position.  The western part of his state was never fully committed to the Confederacy, the east was under invasion from Union forces, and there was dissatisfaction elsewhere.  Here he points out that although he does not believe the Union will offer favorable terms he must at least appear to be in a position to listen to placate those in his state who wanted the war to end quickly.  The loss of North Carolina would have isolated Virginia and hastened the end of the war.  It was yet another of a number of growing problems faced by Davis' administration. 

December 29, 1863 (Monday): Johnston Applies Logic

Statue of Joseph Johnston in Dalton, Georgia

DALTON, December 29, 1863.

    I have just received a dispatch from General Longstreet asking for my cavalry to help him drive the enemy out of East Tennessee, because he cannot march his infantry for want of shoes. I suppose, therefore, that if shoes were supplied, he could get possession of that country. He took with him more than half the cavalry of this command.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 879.

Johnston was a confidant of Longstreet, so it is not likely he intended sarcasm in his comments to President Davis.  But, like all commanders, he was reluctant to give up any of his resources.  Longstreet had a problem common to both armies, the lack of shoes. 

December 28, 1863 (Sunday): Kinston Threatened

Kinston Bridge (New Bern-Craven Co. Public Library)

Wilmington, December 28, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:
    GENERAL: I have received information, which I consider entirely trustworthy, that large re-enforcements are daily arriving at New Berne and Beaufort. Positive numbers not yet ascertained, but there is no doubt that the enemy is concentrated for an attack. Kinston is supposed to be the point. Butler is reported as intending to extend his lines to New River and Kinston; and this would undoubtedly be his design an preliminary to attack here, for it would place our communications in his power, and advance his front much nearer to me. Kinston ought certainly to be strengthened at once, and a heavy force thrown into North Carolina, to be ready to repel Butler's advance at first, and to re-enforce me. I telegraphed this information to you and to General Pickett to-day. Please call the President's attention to it.
      Very respectfully,

      W. H. C. WHITING,

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 893.

Butler was not ready to move, but his presence in eastern North Carolina was sufficient to constitute a threat to yet another part of the Confederacy.  The enduring theme of late 1863 is the inexorable progression of Union forces across a wide expanse.   

December 27, 1863 (Saturday): Report From Clark's Mountain

Lee and Stuart Approaching Clark's Mountain (

DECEMBER 27, 1863.

General J. E. B. STUART:
GENERAL: I send you the report from Clark's Mountain received this morning:
    The enemy's camps of about two corps are in sight, as before reported, near Mitchell's Station and along the railroad between Mitchell's Station and Culpeper Court-House. No movements in their camp this morning. It is too smoky to see plainly about Brandy and vicinity, but the rising of columns of smoke indicates increased camps about Stone-House Mountain and Culpeper Court-House.
    I wish if to-morrow is favorable you would ride to Clark's Mountain and observe the position of the enemy, and let me know your conclusion. The report from the mountain does not coincide with Lomax's of 11.15 to-day, just received.
     Very respectfully,

     R. E. LEE.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 29, Part 2, Page 892.

It was unlikely Meade would press Lee further with the campaign season ending, but it was still important to remain vigilant.  Clark's Mountain (1073 feet above sea level) had a commanding view of the area toward Culpeper and eastward.

December 26, 1863 (Friday): Longstreet Asserts Authority In Western Virginia

Saltville, Virginia (

Secretary of War:
    SIR: I am informed that a large portion of the enemy's cavalry, recently in East Tennessee, is now in Kentucky and near the Virginia line. I think it highly probable that they contemplate a raid on the salt-works and lead mines. I therefore respectfully suggest that the infantry and part of the artillery of
Major-General Ransom's command be placed in position to guard those works and this line of railroad. One regiment of Brigadier-General Wharton's brigade is stationed near Saltville. I think it advisable that the other part of the brigade be placed at or near Glade Springs.
    To defend this line of road against the raid on Salem, which I apprehended would be much more extensive and destructive than it proved to be, I ordered Major-General Ransom to send his infantry to Bristol, from which point it could have been moved by railroad to the point where their services might have been needed. Ransom referred my order to Lieutenant-General Longstreet, under whose orders he was acting, who declined sending the troops, and informed me that Ransom's command was under his orders, as he, Longstreet, conceived, by authority of the President; hence I can give no orders to that portion of my troops. I therefore make the foregoing suggestion to you for such action as you may think proper.
     With great respect, your obedient servant,


Official Records, Series I. Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 872.

Longstreet was a loose cannon.  At the time this was being written, Jefferson Davis was calling on him to produce a written order from Davis Longstreet claimed required return back to Bragg just as he was attacking Knoxville at Fort Sanders.  Here is interfering with Jones sending troops defend western Virginia.  Any threat to the region put at risk the vital salt works at Saltville, Virginia.  The ability to salt meats and preserve them for use by the army and civilians was essential to the war effort.  It had been made clear not only to Longstreet, but to Bragg before him, they were not to interfere with Jones command.  Although something of a backwater command, Jones duty was important out of proportion to the number of troops he possessed based on the resources he protected.