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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

May 3, 1864 (Thursday): On to Richmond

the Wilderness (

May 3, 1864.
    This division will move to-morrow at 4 a. m. by way of Brandy Station and Stevensburg, following the Second Division. Order of march: First Brigade, Second Brigade, Third Brigade, ambulances. The First Brigade will follow close upon the Second Division. Fifty rounds upon the person, three days' full rations in the haversacks, three days' bread and small rations in the knapsacks, and three days' beef upon the hoof will be carried. The division will take half of its infantry ammunition, one hospital and one medicine wagon for each brigade, half of the ambulance train and the light spring wagons allowed at the various headquarters; the latter will precede the ambulances. No other train or means of transportation will accompany the division, except such wagons as will be necessary for forage for immediate use (five days). The subsistence and other trains loaded with forage, ammunition, & c., heretofore ordered, will be assembled under the direction of the acting quartermaster of the corps in the vicinity of Richardsville. The Fourth Brigade, Brigadier-General Shaler commanding, is detailed as guard for the trains of the corps, and will be so posted as to protect the train on the march and in park. No other guards will be allowed. Company commanders will be held strictly responsible that no straggling is allowed, and that the column is at all times well closed up. As it is very desirable to conceal this movement from the enemy, the strictest orders will be given and enforced in relation to bonfires; none must be allowed.
    By command of Brigadier-General Wright:

    Assistant Adjutant-General.

CULPEPER, May 3, 1864 - 3.30 p. m.
Major-General BURNSIDE, Warrenton Junction:
    All of General Meade's troops will be away from Brandy Station to-morrow morning. You must have a force there to guard your stores. They should be started up at once.

    U. S. GRANT,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 36, Part 2, Page 362.

Grant was finally ready to move.  Intense fighting lay ahead and so did Richmond. 

May 2, 1864 (Wednesday): Mutiny?

General Samuel S. Carroll

HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Numbers 23. May 2, 1864.
   The commanding general having learned that, notwithstanding the caution contained in General Orders, Numbers 22. of April 25, 1864, from these headquarters, * there are men in its army who refuse to do duty on the ground that their term of service has expired, it will be made known to such men that their conduct, being open mutiny, will be punished with death without trial unless they promptly return to duty; and, hereafter, any soldier who refuses to do duty on a similar plea will instantly be shot without any from of trial whatever. The honor of the service, and the necessities of the hour, admit of no other disposition of such cases. The commanding general again express the hope that the soldiers of this army will respectfully ask for and cheerfully abide by the decision of the War Department with respect to their term of service, but he has no further word of warning for those who, at at a time like the present, choose to defy lawful authority. Corps and other independent commanders are charged with the execution of this order.
    By command of Major-General Meade:

   Assistant Adjutant-General.

May 2, 1864.
Brigadier-General GIBBON,
Commanding Second Division:
    GENERAL: The major-general commanding desires you to send to him at once a statement of the affair which occurred in the Eighth Ohio Volunteers yesterday, where certain men declined to do duty.
    I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

   C. H. MORGAN,
   Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief of Staff.

[First indorsement.]

May 2, 1864.
    A disturbance took place yesterday morning in the Eighth Ohio Volunteers. Measures were at once taken by Colonel Carroll to suppress it, and 12 of the ring-leaders were placed in irons. Every man has now returned to duty; a more healthy state of feeling exists, and no further trouble is anticipated. In case of such, however, I have directed that any man refusing to do duty will be shot on the spot.


    Brigadier-General, Commanding Division

[Second indorsement.]

May 2, 1864.
    Respectfully forwarded for the information of the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac.

     W. S. HANCOCK,
     Major-General, Commanding.

[Third indorsement.]

May 2, 1864.
    Respectfully returned to the commanding officer of the Second Corps.
    Any refusing to do duty will be shot on the spot, being in open munity.

   By command of Major-General Meade:

   Assistant Adjutant-General.
      A general order will be issued on this subject to-day.*

    Assistant Adjutant-General.

* See Vol. XXXIII, p. 970.

* Transmitted to General Meade 1 p. m. May 2. 

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 36, Part 2, Pages 331, 335, 336.

The 8th Ohio was a veteran regiment with a fine record, most recently at Gettysburg.  Some troops in the regiment refused to continue service when their terms expired.  With the Union and Confederate armies in close proximity and the possibility of combat Union commanders took extreme steps to keep soldiers from leaving the army. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

May 1, 1864 (Tuesday): No Point Holding Back

Colonel Charles Scott Venable

May 1, 1864.
Lieutenant Colonel C. S. VENABLE,
    COLONEL: Your letter of yesterday is received. General Field will move to the vicinity of Gordonsville this afternoon or early to-morrow morning. As General Burnside's army is up in our front there can be but little use in holding any considerable force below Richmond, as there is no force of the enemy that can give us any trouble in that quarter. I hope, therefore, that at least Pickett's division may be sent up to us.
      I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 36, Part 2, Page 940.

The Union planned included a diversion from Fortress Monroe coming up the Peninsula.  But the Confederate command quickly discounted this movement.  Longstreet would need as much of his force as could be spared to join him.

April 30, 1864 (Monday): Anticipating Grant

General Henry W.Wessells

FORT MONROE, VA., April 30, 1864.
Lieutenant- General GRANT:
    The following, from a letter of General Wessells, at Plymouth, on the 16th, is forwarded for your information:
     Longstreet's army is in motion for Richmond. Pemberton and many officers passed up to Richmond last week, and talked freely of the opening campaign. It is Lee's intention to anticipate General Grant's combinations; take initiative.

    B. F. BUTLER,
    Major- General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol.  33, Part 1, Page 1029.

The one part of this dispatch which was accurate was that it was Lee's intention to anticipate Grant's movements and take the initiative.  Ironically, the more outnumbered Lee was by Grant the more important it was not to surrender the initiative.  To fall back to Richmond was to either ultimately require the loss of the capital when, inevitably, the army withdrew or to become pinned down in or near the defenses of Richmond.  The report was not entirely accurate, in that Longstreet was closing up to Lee's position near Culpeper. 

April 29, 1864 (Sunday): Arm to Avoid Capture

Spencer Repeating Rifle

Camp Hamilton, Va., April 29, 1864.
Major General B. F. BUTLER,
Commanding Department of Virginia and North Carolina:
   GENERAL: In view of the approaching campaign, and more especially on account of the recent inhumanities of the enemy perpetrated upon troops of like character to those of my command, I deem it my duty to urge that these troops shall be more efficiently armed, to enable them to defend themselves and lessen their liability to capture.
    There certainly ought to be no objection to arming these troops with as effective a weapon as any that are placed, in the hands of white soldiers, who are to go into battle with none of the peculiar disadvantages to which my men will be subject. The present arms of several regiments in the division are inferior in kind and manufacture. The Springfield rifled musket of the Bridesburg manufacture is an unreliable gun. The contract Enfield rifle is also unreliable, and one regiment is armed with the old Harper's Ferry smooth- bore. Now, these arms will suffice, perhaps, and were for troops who will be well cared for if they fall into his hands, but to troops who cannot afford to be beaten, and will not be taken, the best arm should be given that the country can afford.
    The retaliation we should at present adopt is to arm our colored troops with Spencer repeating rifles, and I request that my division, or a part of them, may be armed with a repeating or breech- loading fir- arm.
     I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     E. W. HINKS,
     Brigadier- General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Pages 1020-1021.

African-American troops had a legitimate concern of being shown no quarter after the recent events at Fort Pillow.  But repeating rifles were in short supply and not likely to be provided to relatively inexperienced troops. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

April 28, 1864 (Saturday): Leaving Defenses Thin In Washington

Civil War Culpeper (O'Sullivan)

WASHINGTON, April 28, 1864- 3.30 p. m.
Lieutenant- General GRANT,
Culpeper, Va.:
    General Augur has been stripped of almost everything available to give to General Burnside. When the trains cease to run the guards under General Briggs can be placed in the block- houses, between Bull Run and the Rappahannock. I will also give him the Massachusetts detached artillery as soon as it arrives. No troops are yet available to replace Abbot's artillery in the fortifications. Perhaps some
militia or invalids from the West amy arrive in time. If not, we must weaken the other garrisons. There is very little left outside of Burnside's command to use against any movement of Longstreet. The Navy Department says that one iron- clad left New York and one left Philadelphia on the 26th, and should reach Fortress Monroe to- day. The one from Boston touched at New York, and will leave there to- morrow.

   Major- General, Chief of Staff.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Pages 1002-1003.

Two years before the administration was at loggerheads with McClellan over whether he was leaving adequate troops to man the defenses of Washington.  Now, under Grant, those same defenses were being stripped to allow Grant to maintain forces in front of Lee on the Rappahannock and in Eastern Virginia.  At this point war planners were still uncertain exactly where Longstreet and his forces were located and what their intentions were.