Sunday, August 28, 2011

September 2, 1861 (Tuesday): Caution and not Censure for Fremont

General John C. Fremont

                                                                        WASHINGTON, D.C., September 2, 1861.
Major-General Fremont:
    MY DEAR SIR:  Two points in your proclamation of August 30 give me some anxiety:
   First:  Should you shoot a man, according to the proclamation, the Confederates would very certainly shoot our best men in their hands in retaliation; and so, man for man, indefinitely.  It is, therefore, my order that you allow no man to be shot under the proclamation without first having my approbation or consent.
   Second.  I think there is great danger that the closing paragraph, in relation to the confiscation of property and the liberating slaves of traitorous owners, will alarm our Southern Union friends and turn them against us; perhaps ruin our rather fair prospect in Kentucky.  Allow me, therefore, to ask that you will, as of your own motion, modify that paragraph so as to conform to the first and fourth sections of the act of Congress entitled “An act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes,” approved August 6, 1861, and a copy of which act I herewith send to you.
   This letter is written in a spirit of caution and not of censure.  I send it by special messenger, in order that it may certainly and speedily reach you.
    Your, very truly,

Official Records, Series I. Vol. 3, Page 469

On August 30 Fremont had assumed civil authority over the State of Missouri, declared martial law, and in a far reaching proclamation declared anyone who was found bearing arms within the lines of the Union Army would be tried and, if found guilty, shot.  He also stated the slaves of anyone bearing arms against the government where to be considered emancipated.  Lincoln was put in a hard position.  He correctly noted the impact this would have on Kentucky.  But he had to be careful not to alienate the more radical wing of his own party, which saw emancipation as an aim of the conflict.  This view was in sharp contrast to that of Democrats who wanted to restore the Union but, for the most part, did not favor immediate emancipation.

September 1, 1861 (Sunday): Much Accustomed to Indulgence

John A. Kennedy, NY Superintendent of Police
NEW YORK, September 1, 1861.

Honorable W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

SIR: Last night a man who at the time called himself J. Storer, of Dayton, Ohio, but who afterward proved to be Rev. M. M. Hallinan, now of Salem, Mass., but formerly was at the college at Georgetown, D. C., in some capacity, was arrested for endeavoring to induce a soldier in the U. S. service to go over to the enemy, as set forth in the enemy, asset forth in the accompanying affidavits. * He is a young man of about thirty years of age, Irish by birth, and has some reputation as a lecturer. At the time of his arrest he was very such under the influence of drink, and this morning presents the appearance of a man accustomed to such indulgence. On his persons was found $ 1,119. A very large sum to be in the possession of a priest. But on taking possession of his baggage nothing was found to implicate him in any way whatever with the rebels, his papers consisting of skeleton sermons, lectures, poetic effusions and amatory letters. Of the latter there are quite a large number. On his person besides the money besides the money and a few unimportant papers was the inclosed letter* addresed W. L. Beaumont, Boston, Mass. Notwithstanding the strength of the affidavits I send I am inclined to regard him as inoffensive. He is undoubtedly very much debauched by intercourse with women and indulgence in drink. And his visit to Philadelphia seems to have been made in consequence of having received the Beaumont letter, which I have no doubt is another assumed name for himself. In his trunk I found a large number of newsp[aper clips; some are signed M. M. H., others Beaumont, others B. These are no doubt effusions of his own that he has collected. And I think in the erased signature I can trace the word Donna, one of his most devoted correspondents, whose letters and scraps he has sav of over fifty. If I am right, this is a love threat, nothing more; but if not, it may in some way be connected with his conduct with Fabre yesterday. He arrived in this city on Tuesday, 27th instant, and took a room at the hotel in Fourth avenue; left that evening for Philadelphia, where he remained until 2 p. m. of Friday, when he returned on the same train with Fabre, and then went back to the same hotel. The postmark on the Beaumont letter is August 24, and he would seem to have obeyed the summons immediately. The Doctor Fitzgerald whom he involves with himself has command of a company in Colonel F. Webster's regiment, and is now in the field. I think it well that Colonel Webster should be apprised of the suspiction resting on him by the act of this druken priest. If the doctor is sound it will do no harm; if not he had better be on guard. Farbe tells me that the doctor was to join the enemy before he could be expected to get around to them, and this note was for use when he mat him on the other side. I have to request that proper notice be taken of he conduct of the private, Farbe. He has managed the matter in a very adroit manner, and seems to have been influenced alone by a desire to detect and expose the business of seducing our men from their allegiance.

Respectfully, yours,

* Not found.

Official Records, Series II, Vol. 2, Part 1, Page 53

Kennedy (no relation to the famous family) was superintendent of police in New York throughout the war.  In addition to ferreting out the disloyal, he also came across the normal run of confidence men and odd characters.  Like Kennedy, it is hard for the modern reader to see Hallinan as much of a threat to the army.  But the $1,119 found on his person are a good indication of a proficiency at the grifter's art. 

August 31, 1861 (Saturday): Lee Encourages Wise

Colonel Albert G. Jenkins 

                                                VALLEY MOUNTAIN, VA., August 31, 1861.
General Henry A. Wise
     Comdg. Wise’s Legion, Dogwood Gap, West of Lewisburg, Va.:
  General: I have just received and read with much interest your report of the 28th instant.  The troops under your command deserve great commendation for the alacrity and cheerfulness they exhibited in the trying march they underwent to Gauley River and the promptitude with which they performed their duty.  I regret the loss sustained by Colonel Jenkins’ cavalry, by apparently incautiously advancing into an ambuscade.  The behavior of Captain Brock on the occasion was praiseworthy.  Danger is so sharp that its frequent presence will inspire coolness and self-possession in the men, and ultimate benefit will result from it.  Yet they ought not to be exposed unnecessarily.  I am much gratified at General Floyd’s success in dispersing and punishing the regiment of the enemy beyond the Gauley and feel assured that by your united efforts you will be able to drive back to Ohio his whole force.  A re-enforcement of two regiments (one from North Carolina and one from Georgia) is on the march to Lewisburg.
    I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
                                                                                    R. E. LEE,
                                                                        General, Commanding

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 5 Page 824

Lee would march to Gettysburg in 1863 with Jenkins cavalry to his front and no doubt remembered their troubles in western Virginia in 1861.  Here Lee goes out of his way to praise Wise and Floyd, and expresses the hope they will be successful in their united efforts.  If he did believe that, it would be contrary of all available evidence. 

August 30, 1861 (Friday): Professor Lowe Surveys Munson's Hill By Air

View Larger Map

(The Confederate works at Munson's Hill were just to the west of Bailey's Cross Roads on the map).

Fort Corcoran, August 29, 1861.

Prof. T. S. C. Lowe:
The general desires you to be here at 3 a.m. tomorrow morning to make an ascension before daybreak to examine camp-fires and ascend again as soon as it may be light enough to watch for movements of any bodies of men. Should I not be present please write the observations and send them to me by express at Arlington.

Captain, Topographical Engineers.

These orders were complied with, and during my observations I discovered the enemy for the first time building earth-works on Munson’s Hill and Clark’s Hill, and also saw their movements along the entire line. In the afternoon I moved the balloon to Ball’s Cross-Roads and there took several observations, during which the enemy opened their batteries on the balloon and several shots passed by it and struck the ground beyond. These shots were the nearest to the U. S. capital that had been fired by the enemy, or have yet been, during the war.

Series III, Vol. 3, Page 260.

Munson’s Hill was a point of considerable interest to Union planners. Today it is the area outside of Washington known as Seven Corners, prime real estate covered by every conceivable sort of homes and businesses. Munson’s Hill was also graded at the top in the 1950’s and is no longer quite the towering presence it was in 1861 when it afforded spectacular views of Alexandria and the capital (barely five miles distant). The presence of the rebel flag in the works at Munson’s Hill, visible from the capital, was an affront to the Union, as well as exciting fears of an attack from rebel forces so close at hand. Lowe’s mission was to get a better view of the Confederate works and give advance warning of any threatening movements from that direction.

August 29, 1861 (Thursday): McClellan Dresses Down Rosecrans

General Erastus B. Tyler

AUGUST 29, 1861.
Brigadier General W. S. ROSECRANS,

Clarksburg, Va.:
There is no excuse for Tyler being surprised.* Concentrate everything possible against Floyd. Let Cox leave the minimum force required to hold the Gauley, and with the remainder of his troops attack Floyd from the south at the same time you attack from the north. Your continuced presence at Clarksburg excites comment.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 1, Page 463

McClellan affixes blame for Tyler's defeat.  Reynolds and Cox were McClellan's favorites in the theatre, Rosecrans and Tyler less so.    While McClellan may have wished Rosecrans to be more active, Clarksburg was a central point worthy of occupation.  McClellan was confident, though, of his troops ability to check Floyd and Wise and preferred more active campaigning.  No doubt the political element in Washington felt likewise.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 28, 1861 (Wednesday): Skirmish at Bailey's Cross Roads

J. E. B. Stuart's Saber and Scabbard (Museum of the Confederacy)

Report of Colonel J. E. B. Stuart, C. S. Army.

Munson's Hill, August 28, 1861.

GENERAL: I inclose a list of killed and wounded. * I have no time for a detailed report of the affair of yesterday, but I acquainted Rev. D. Ball, chaplain, to my regiment, as well as Major Skinner, with all the particulars, and requested them to inform you last night, which I hope will answer for the present. As soon as it was fair light this morning I had a piece of rifled cannon, Washington Battery [Artillery,], brought clandestinely in position to bear on Bailey's Cross- Roads and fired four shots, distance being by the shots 1,350 yards. THE shots took effect admirably, dispersing the entire force at that point, and developed what it was my object to ascertain- that they had no artillery there. Munson's Hill. The a fire of artillery dispersed also a long line of skirmishers, who ran precipitately without being in the slightest danger from its shots. The First Regiment is at Falls Church, and I have directed its commander to hold himself in readiness to move up to my support, or act to the left, as circumstances indicate. Two companies of that regiment are ordered to occupy the ridge along Upton's. I sent back Beckham's section of artillery, as the men were pretty well used up from fatigue and hunger, and I ma now going to send back to Falls Church. I believe this a fine line of defense; I mean the line passing through this and Mason's Hill. Every inch of the road is visible from here to Bailey's Cross- Roads. The force now here and at Falls Church I consider sufficient for the present, and the best school of practice possible for our troops. I consider the enemy's design not to meet us outside their trenches enforce pretty well developed. please send this to General Johnson for me.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel. Commanding.


P. S.- The scattered fragments of the force at Bailey's Cross- Roads reassembled, and I have the piece in position to stir them up again whenever they group in sufficient force to warrant the expenditure of our ammunition.

J. E. B. S.

The list of prisoners forwarded about two hours ago should be added to this report.

Brigadier-General, Commanding.
*Shows 1 killed and 6 wounded.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 51, Part 1, Page 38

After Bull Run the Confederates occupied Munson's and Mason's Hills, near Falls Church.  They would maintain these positions through late September, increasingly subject to skirmishes with Union troops in the area.  The first of these skirmishes is described here. 

August 27, 1861 (Tuesday): Shenandoah's Harvest

Shenandoah Valley Farm

RICHMOND, August 27, 1861.

Honorable L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War:
    DEAR SIR: I am requested by some of the citizens of the valley counties to make a representation to you of the facts bearing upon the call of the militia in that region.
It is the most fertile part of Virginia for wheat and corn growing. It has no other staple of consequence. The call of the militia was at a time when the harvest was scarcely over, and the farmer left his crop standing in the field unhoused. No plow has been put into the ground for the fall seeding of wheat. See, than, the sacrifice which our people in that region are called on to make-to imperil the crop of the past year and to prevent the raising a crop for the coming year.
     I know it is supposed the same rule of 10 per cent., being applicable elsewhere, must be applied to the valley, and with no worse results; but one fact will show the contrary: In Shenandoah county there is a white population of 12,800 and a total population of 13,800, showing only 1,000 blacks, free and slave. Ten per cent. of the whites makes a call of 1,280 for militia service drafted from the laborers, the tillers of the soil, and not leaving sufficient slaves at home to work while the master is abroad to fight.
Nansemond County, near Norfolk, has a total population of 13,700, (nearly the same as Shenandoah), of which 5,700 are white and 8,000 black, free and slave. The draft of 10 per cent. draws 570 whites, but leaves the negro to the farm labor.
     This is an evil which calls for a remedy, if one can be had. Of the militia at Winchester, numbering, say, 5,000, perhaps one-half are unarmed. Might not furloughs be allowed, or a part be disbanded who are unarmed, upon call to be summoned again if needed, especially since report says the column of General Banks has fallen back from the valley toward Baltimore? If anything can be done for as true and patriotic a people as there are in the South, I appeal to you to do it. When I tell you that in Shenandoah County, which cast 2,500 votes for the secession ordinance and only 5 against it, there are only 700 slaves, I think I may vouch for the integrity of her people upon the great crisis of the South.

I am, with high respect, yours,


Shenandoah has furnished about 950 volunteers. Could not enough of her militia be retained to make up her quota and released the residue on furlough? As it is now, she has largely more than her quota in the field, counting her volunteers and her militia.


Official Records, Series I, Vol. 5, Part 1, Page 819

War in the abstract collides with the reality of competing necessities.  Johnston needed every man under arms he could muster for defense of the Valley.  But a critical reason the Shenandoah Valley required defending was its role as bread basket of the Confederacy.  And the harvest could not be gathered with farmers and their sons in the field of battle.  Here the attorney general of Virginia argues the case for providing relief from duty, if only for a time.  Ultimately, Walker would reject the request, though reluctantly.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

August 26, 1861 (Monday): Floyd Routs the 7th Ohio at Kessler's Cross Lanes

Badge of the 7th Ohio
AUGUST 26, 1861.
Brigadier-General COX,


    Your dispatches of the 24th and 25th received. The latter indicates, though you do not say so, that Floyd's force came down Saturday and Sunday Creek roads. Please in future note such circumstances. It would seem also that he had chosen that as principal route. If so, hold Hawk's Nest firmly and draw him down the Summersville road. Arrange for two boats a day, if necessary, and messengers to connect. Let your information be solid, so that action may be based on it. We may succeed in crushing the enemy's column.      
   Catch him and crush him.


Official Records, Series I., Vol 5, Part 1, Page 459

The forbidding territory along the Gauley River made it highly likely the two forces would make contact at some point.  The possibility of unplanned events loomed with each turn in the deep forests and river valleys.  As the time Rosecrans was writing this instruction, Floyd was crossing the river at Kessler's Cross Lanes and putting to rout the 7th Ohio. 

August 25, 1861 (Sunday): Cannons Across the Potomac

Conrad's Ferry

                                                HEADQUARTERS CORPS OF OBSERVATION,
                                                                                    Poolesville, August 25, 1861.
Maj. Gen. N. P. BANKS, U. S. Army,
                                                Hyattstown, Md.:
   GENERAL:  The enemy opened a fire of cannon from three pieces yesterday morning on our outpost at Conrad’s Ferry, and uselessly expended about seventy-five rounds.  Their position is such that I cannot command it within the range of my smooth-bore 6-pounders, while it would be easy to dislodge and annoy them with a rifled gun.  If convenient to you, it would be a favor to me to lend me for a day or two a section of rifled guns with which to punish them.  I do not think that the enemy’s force is largely increased opposite my positions.
   Very respectfully, I am, general, your most obedient servant,
                                                                        CHAS. P. STONE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol 51., Part 1, Page 456

Stone and his force were beginning an uneventful period of watching along the Potomac which would culminate in October with the Battle of Ball’s Bluff.  The Potomac, along Stone’s line, is a formidable obstacle, and the Union did not possess the means or motivation to force a crossing.

August 24 (Saturday): Wise Writes (Unwisely) to Lee

General Henry A. Wise

                                                            DOGWOOD GAP CAMP, August 24, 1861.
General R. E. LEE, Commanding, &c.;
   SIR:  I received your last dispatch this morning and I confess with a heavy heart.  The general instruction is that my command is independent in its organization, and cannot be detached, yet General Floyd may divide and detail it in part, subject to his direct orders, in any proportion of force, so as to deprive me of all opportunity to organize and protect it, and to command the respect from it which I must have, in order to make it efficient or to be myself of any use in the service.  To be plain, sir, I am compelled to inform you expressly that every order I have received from General Floyd indicates a purpose to merge my command to his own and to destroy the distinct organization of my Legion.  We are now brought into a critical position by the vacillation of orders and confusion of command.
   Two days ago I was ordered to proceed down the turnpike to meet the enemy.  Everything was put in motion, and the commands were united at the foot of Gauley Mountain, where the foe was found in force.  We arrived on the evening of the 21st.  That night General Floyd, for the first time, conferred with me, and I concurred in a plan to attack Carnifix Ferry, on the Gauley, while he should hold the front on the turnpike, and was accordingly ordered to proceed that night at 3 o’clock to take and cross that ferry.  He was to check the enemy in front and join me at the ferry, after covering my train and artillery, which he had left at Dogwood Gap.  At 3.30 o’clock I marched.  Found no enemy on the Sunday road. They had retreated across the ferry, and I arrived there early in the morning.  I paused to get breakfast while looking out for boats on which to cross.  The enemy had sunk one and sent the other adrift over the falls.  I had scarcely paused before General Floyd, with his whole force, arrived by another road, leaving his train and his artillery unprotected on the turnpike.  The rain and mud were nearly insufferable the day before yesterday, and the men without tents after a night’s march.  In the course of the day he changed orders three times, and at least ordered me to divide my batteries, giving him three pieces of artillery, with a detachment for the guns, and 100 horse to follow across the Gauley.  The sunken boat having men raised—a single boat of the smallest size for a country ferry—he ordered me, with the remainder of my command, to take position on the road and check the enemy, leaving me four pieces and he taking six—four of mine and two of his own.  Under these orders I marched back yesterday to Dogwood, leaving Captain Hart, with my detached artillery, on this side of the ferry, awaiting the opportunity to cross, General Floyd having taken over his own two pieces.  Last night his quartermaster dispatched to me the message that their boat sank yesterday and went with General Floyd are cut off until we can build another ferry boat.  He has with him only about 1,000 men and two pieces of artillery, the enemy having about 4,000 men at Gauley and Back Creek, and within a few hours march of him.  This unfortunate move may cut him to pieces, but Colonel Tompkins is coming up with about 750 men, and we will do what we can to cover the retreat or to re-enforce his position.
   I now ask to be entirely detached from all union with General Floyd’s command.  I beg you, sir, to present this request to the President and Secreatry of War for me.  I am willing, anxious, to do and suffer anything for the cause I serve, but I cannot consent to be even subordinately responsible for General Floyd’s command, nor can I consent to command in dishonor.  I have not been treated with respect by General Floyd, and co-operation with him will be difficult and disagreeable, if not impossible.  I earnestly ask that while he is attempting to penetrate Gauley I may be allowed to operate in separate command from him, but aiding his operations, by being ordered to penetrate the Kanawha Valley on the south side, by the Loop or Paint Creek, or by the Coal River; or send me anywhere, so I am from under the orders of General Floyd.
    I am, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,
                                                                                    HENRY A. WISE
Official Records, Series I., Vol. 5, Page 804

Wise would very likely have been cashiered but for his political influence.  Even then, it is hard to imagine a superior other than Lee with the patience to endure the constant sniping between Wise and Floyd.  One criticism of Lee in West Virginia, and it appears valid, is that he was unable to act decisively to address the Wise-Floyd feud, relying on diplomatic messages and invocations of the good of the cause.

August 23, 1861 (Friday): Action at Potomac Creek

Brigadier-General R. L. Walker

                                    Report of Colonel R. M. Cary, Thirtieth Virginia Infantry.

                                                HEADQUARTERS, MARLBOROUGH POINT.
                                                                                    August 23, 1861.
   COLONEL:  I have the honor to report that this afternoon at about 4.30 o’clock the enemy’s steamer Yankee and a tug were seen standing in the mouth of Potomac Creek.  I ordered down to the point the siege rifled gun (Betty Holmes) and a section (rifle) of Walker’s battery.
    The enemy fired the first shot, not aimed at this point, however.  Smith’s battery replied.  As soon as our field pieces opened the U. S. steamer Release (ice-boat) stood in and engaged us.
    The officers in charge of the pieces and the men behaved with proper coolness and deliberation.  They were Lieutenants Hagerty, Pegram, and Dabney.
   The enemy’s fire was very accurate, frequently bursting his shell in close proximity to our pieces.  It is believed that both the Yankee and the Release were hit; the former more than once.  No once was hurt on our side.
   The action lasted about forty minutes, during which we fired some twenty-five shot and shell;  the enemy as many more.  Capt. R. L. Walker was present, in immediate command of all the pieces.
   I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
                                                                                                R. M. CARY
                                                                        Thirtieth Virginia Infantry, Commanding.

     Asst. Adjut. Gen., Dep’t of Fredericksburg, Brooke’s.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 5, Page 115

The Confederates still were able to disrupt Union activity along the Potomac in 1861, with a number of batteries placed at strategic points.  It would not be until they abandoned the Manassas line that Union forces would be completely rid of this impediment.  The Captain Walker referred to here was Reuben Lindsay Walker, who would go on to be one of the most acclaimed Confederate artillerists, seeing action in 63 battles and engagements.  He was never wounded, a subject about which he was very sensitive, saying in response to a question about not having been wounded, “No, sir, and it was not my fault.”

August 22, 1861 (Thursday): Enter U. S. Grant

U. S. Grant
Jefferson City, Mo., August 22, 1861.

Captain SPEED BUTLER, Asst. Adjt. General, Saint Louis, Mo.:

    During yesterday I visited the camps of the different commands about this city, and selected locations for troops yet to arrive. I find a great deficiency in everything for the comfort and efficiency of an army. Most of the troops are without clothing, camp and garrison equipage. Ammunition was down to about ten rounds of cartridges, and for the artillery none is left.
    The artillery here consists of four 6-pounder, without artillery-men, and one 24-pounder howitzer, too heavy for field use. The post quartermaster and commissary have not been here since my arrival, so that I cannot report fully as to these departments. They are apparently in a bad condition. There are no rations to issue. The mules sent some time since are guarded in a lot, no effort being made to get them into teams, and a general looseness prevailing. I have fitted out an expedition of 350 men to scour the country around where the cars were fired into day before yesterday. Such information has been received here as will probably lead to the arrest of many of the parties engaged. The party in pursuit will subsist off of the community through which they pass. Stringent instructions have been given as to how supplies are to be got. From reports received here the whole of this country is in a state of ferment. They are driving out the Union men and appropriating their property. The best force to put this down would be mounted Home Guards, and I would therefore recommend that a many as possible of this class of troops be put upon horses. Generally they are able to mount themselves, and when they cannot, horses could be obtained from good secessionists who have been aiding and abetting the Southern cause. I would further recommend that companies of Home Guards be received without any reference to their being organized into regiments. They can be attached to other regiments either by companies or squadrons, and be quite as effective as if in large bodies.


Official Records, Series. I., Vol. 3, Part 1, Page 452

Grant began the war in command of the 21st Illinois and was later given a district command headquartered in Cario, Illinois.  Here he travels to Jefferson City, Missouri to assist in putting some order to Union efforts to combat marauding parties of Confederates who were active in the area.  There is a clarity thought in his writing, and an underlying theme of moving forward through hostile territory without fear of outrunning supplies.  These qualities will continue to manifest themselves in his career.

August 21, 1861 (Wednesday): Reverdy Johnson's Proposal

Reverdy Johnson
Washington, August 22, 1861.

Major-General MCCLELLAN, U. S. A.,
Commanding Department of the Potomac:

    SIR: The General-in-Chief directs me to say that, on information considered by the War Department as important and reliable, orders were given to Major-General Dix, commanding in Baltimore, to stop, until further orders, all boats between Baltimore and Saint Mary's or the neighboring counties of Maryland and Virginia. This order was given the 15th instant. Permission was given the 18th for a steamboat to make one trip to bring away families left behind.
    The Honorable Reverdy Johnson, of Baltimore, proposes that the boats shall be permitted to renew their trips for the purpose of carrying freight only, without the privilege of taking passengers, under such guard or regulations as may be necessary for the public safety. The object of this arrangement would be to enable the loyal people of Maryland to send their produce to the Baltimore market, as they have been in the habit of doing. The General-in-Chief wishes you to refer this proposition to Major-General Dix, and if he thinks well of it, to have it carried into effect.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,\

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 1, Part 1, Page 578

Johnson was a major political figure in Maryland and had been active in trying to avoid the war.  The Lincoln administration saw him as useful, but likely did not entirely trust him as he was more pro-Reverdy Johnson than pro-Union.  Before the war he had been a member of the Taylor administration and as a lawyer advocated for slave owners in the Dred Scott case.  He would later go on to serve as an attorney to General Fitz-John Porter during his court martial and was the lead attorney for Mary Surratt, accused on participating in the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.  After the war he was a United States senator from Maryland, and died in a fall at the Maryland governor's mansion in 1876.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 20, 1861 (Tuesday) "Your Friend, Jefferson Davis"

Confederate White House Richmond

RICHMOND, VA., August 20, 1861.


GENERAL: Frequent complaints have been made to me of improper food for the well and a want of care for the sick. I most respectfully invite your attention to both these subjects, and hope that abuses may be promptly corrected. Is it not practicable to construct bake-ovens at or near Manassas, that good bread may be supplied to the troops? The main complaint is of bad bread and of inattention to the sick. I have repelled grumblers, but the clamor has increased in specifications until I have deemed it proper to obtain the facts from you. Captains and colonels, instead of correcting evils by personal attention, seem to have been the sources of no small part of the impressions received and circulated. I have for some time designed to organize a medical board to examine the appointees, and hope soon to do so.

Your friend,


Official Records, Series Series I., Vol. 5, Part 1, Page 798

Davis appears, by the records, to have made at least political gestures of good will to Johnston at the start of the war.  But the records also show here Davis was to be very involved in military affairs and not afraid to press his points home.  The condition of Confederate troops in relation to the commissary functions would be a problem throughout the war and only grow worse as time progressed.

August 19, 1861 (Monday): Guns for Fernandina

Fort Clinch (Florida State Parks)
Richmond, August 19, 1861.

Colonel W. S. DILWORTH,
Fernandina, Fla.:

SIR: The attention of this Department has been already directed to the importance of the defense of the harbor of Fernandina, and in reply to your letter of the 12th instant I have the honor to inform you that artillery such as you desire has been already directed to be forwarded to you, in compliance with previous requisitions addressed to this Department, and it is hoped it may arrive in time to meet your most pressing exigencies.
In reply to your further propositions I have the honor to say that an artillery company, if organized and furnished with a battery, will be accepted, and assigned to your command if its services are desired by you; and that a cavalry company also, armed and furnishing its own horses, will be accepted, if required, and assigned to your command.


Secretary of War.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 1, Part 1, Page 473

Fort Clinch protected the deep water port of Fernandina, north of Jacksonville at Amelia Island, Florida.  Fernandina was also the eastern terminus of the only cross-state railroad in Florida.  The fort itself is a substantial work, constructed in 1847.  It was one of the forts built along U.S. coasts in  a massive government building project known as the Third System Fortifications.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 18, 1861 (Sunday): A Cavalry Clash at Pohick Church

Pohick Church, Lorton, Virginia

                                    Report of Brig. Gen. William B. Franklin, U. S. Army

   The company of Lincoln [First New York] Cavalry sent out this morning met a party of the enemy’s cavalry at Pohick Church, about 12 miles from her, numbering about 20.  They charged the enemy, scattered them in all directions, and wounded two ofthem.  One of our men was killed, and 2 are missing, who were thrown from their horses.
   The enemy’s horses far outstripped ours, so that no prisoners could be made.  I have learned nothing definite about Springfield.  Our scouts were 1 ½ miles from there last night.  Saw their pickets; so there is not doubt that they are there.  General Kearny thinks the force there is a variable one.  So report his scouts.
                                                                                      W. B. FRANKLIN,
                                                                                    Brigadier-General, Commanding.
Maj. S. Williams

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 5, Page 113.

The Confederates still moved about the area between the Manassas Line and Alexandria and both sides scouted to determine where the enemy was located.  In this case, Franklin had sent troops to determine what force occupied Springfield.  The action was small, and confused, with the Union cavalry getting almost to the church but retreating rapidly (and without orders) after encountering a small force they believed much larger.  The officers regrouped the scouting party and moved back to the church, being fired on by well concealed Confederates.  Ultimately, the Southerners left on three adjacent roads, taking light casualties.  The advantage of horse flesh the South enjoyed was coupled with more experience with horses, but as the war would move into its last two years those advantages would diminish rapidly.

August 17, 1861 (Saturday): The Cycle of Violence In Missouri

Thomas C. Reynolds of Missouri

                                                                        NEW MADRIS, MO., August 15, 1861.
Maj. Gen. FREMONT, U. S. A.,
                        Commanding U. S. Forces in Missouri:
   SIR:  Capt. Charles Price, of the Missouri State Guard, has received a letter from Messrs. B. S. Curd and William M. Price, dated Cape Girardeau, August 10, 1861, in which they write:   “The coloel says that if you attack Commerce to-night he will hang us.”  With this not is another, recognized to be in the handwriting of Col. C. C. Marsh, and of which the following is an exact copy:

                                                                        Headquarters, U. S. Forces,
                                                                                    Cape Girardeau, August 10, 1861.
   SIR:  Your relatives have written you the above note.  It is true.  If you injure the people of Commerce or their property I will hang them, and take a bitter revenge on you in other respects.
                                                                        C. C. MARSH
                                                Colonel, Commanding, U. S. Forces, Cape Girardeau.
   The gentlemen held by Colonel Marsh are, as I am credibly informed, citizens of this State, and unconnected in any way with military operations.  Even were they so connected in a manner justifying their being made prisoners of war, the Articles of War and Army Regulations of the United States require humane treatment of prisoners.
    I also learn that the detachment of Colonel Marsh’s troops which captured Mr. William M. Price wantonly burned his father’s warehouse and took away a large quantity of corn and 60 mules.  Similar outrages are believed to have been very lately committed at the farm of General N. W. Watkins, near Cape Girardeau, and also by Colonel Marsh’s troops.  I therefore, in the interest of humanity, lay these matters before you and request a frank answer to these inquiries.
   Does this conduct of Colonel Marsh and his troops meet your approval?  If not, what steps do you propose to take in respect to the guilty parties and in order to prevent the repetition of such conduct?
    It is the desire of the Missouri State authorities to conduct the present war according to civilized usages, and any departure from them by Missouri forces will be properly punished by their officers if aware of it.  I deem it proper to add that on seeing Colonel Marsh’s letter I immediately instructed the general commanding the Missouri State Guard in this district to hold in close custody a number of prisoners recently taken by him and belonging to your forces.  Should Colonel Marsh’ future treatment of Messrs. Curd and Price necessitate the hanging of any of those prisoners in retaliation, I am content that impartial men shall judge who is morally responsible for their melancholy fate.
    I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                            THOS. C. REYNOLDS,
                                                                        Acting Governor of Missouri

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 3, Page 449

Where Western Virginia was clearly for the Union and the rest of the state for the South, Missouri was a different matter.  You could not draw clear Union or secessionist boundaries, and strong sentiments existed within smaller geographical areas.  As the fortunes of war would shift, one side or the other would gain the upper hand, with grim consequences for those on the wrong side of fortune.  Commander John Rodgers of the U. S. Navy reported Union men’s fields destroyed, stock killed, horses stolen, and property carried off.  Similar outrages were perpetrated by Unionists against the South.  In this instance, Colonel Marsh had threatened relatives of prominent Confederates with hanging if a force of around 1,000 men (many of them reported as being as young as 12 or 14) moved on Commerce.  Missouri still was in the Union, although Reynolds was acting as governor (later Lieutenant Governor) of a pro-Confederate provisional government.  Marsh never backed down from his threat, and Confederate threats of retaliation didn’t come to pass, either, as Union gunboats moved in to protect the town.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 16, 1861 (Friday): Wise and Floyd Come to Loggerheads

General John B. Floyd

                                                HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE KANAWHA,
No. 11.}
            On the march, forty miles west of Lewisburg, Va., Aug. 16, 1861.
General HENRY A. WISE:
   SIR:  I understand that an order has been issued by you, requiring the officers of your Legion to communicate with me through you.  Such an order can result in nothing but the most serious embarrassment, as your headquarters are 40 miles from my position and that of some of your officers co-operating with me.  You will see, therefore, the necessity of revoking immediately that order, if such a one has been issued.
  I hope you will hurry up all your available force to my support.  I shall in all human probability stand in great need of them almost immediately.  I learned from a source deemed worthy of full credit that a large force of the enemy has crossed Gauley, and are advancing by this road.  Two hundred of their wagons have been counted this side of Gauley.  There is the utmost need for promptness and speed in sending your forces to my support.
   I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                                        JOHN B. FLOYD,
                        Brig. Gen., Comdg. Forces in the Valley of the Kanawha.

Series I., Vol. 5, Page 790.

What is more problematic than one political general?  Two.  Wise was a former Virginia governor who had raised a legion, which was under command of another former Virginia governor (and ex-Secretary of War under Buchannon) John B. Floyd.  Floyd constantly attempted to have Wise unite his command with his and Wise resisted.  This letter was the beginning of a long string of correspondence which would eventually make its way to General Lee, now cast in the role of mediator.  He would ultimately uphold Floyd’s authority, but in his careful way, respecting both men.

August 15, 1861 (Thursday): Lincoln Answers Fremont

Old Courthouse Saint Louis (NPS)

                                                                        WAR DEPARTMENT,
                                                                                 Washington, August 15, 1861.

Major-General Fremont, Saint Louis:
   Been answering your messages ever since day before yesterday.  Do you receive the answers?  The war Department has notified all the governors you designated to forward all available force, and so telegraphed you.  Have you received these messages?  Answer immediately.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 3, Page 443

In the aftermath of General Lyons’ defeat at Wilson’s Creek, Fremont declared martial law in Saint Louis and requested reinforcements. 

August 14, 1861 (Wednesday): Muntiny!

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

                                                HEADQUARTERS DIVISION OF THE POTOMAC
                                                            Washington, August 14, 1861.
Lieut. Gen. Winfield Scott, Commanding U. S. Army
   GENERAL: I am informed by Brigadier-General McDowell that 62 non-commissioned officers and privates of the Second Reigment of Maine Volunteers have formally and positively, and in the presence of their regiment, refused to do any further duty whatever, falsely alleging that they are no longer in the service of the United States.  In concur in the suggestion of General McDowell that this combined insubordination, if not open mutiny, should be immediately repressed; and I approve of his recommendation tha the insubordinate soldiers should be immediately transferred in arrest and without arms to the Dry Tortugas, there to perform such fatigue service as the commanding officer there may assign to them, until they shall by their future conduct show themselves worthy to bear arms.
            Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                            GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
                                                              Major-General, Commanding

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 5, Page 561.

Terms of service became an issue with some of the volunteer soliders.  The 2nd Maine soldiers who engaged in mutiny believed their regiment was militia, and thus bound only to three months service.  The 79th New York, on the same day, rebelled over a number of issues including the appointment of a new commander without a vote.  The 79th believed they had the right of militia troops to vote on a new commander, as opposed to having the Army designate one for them.  A number of soldiers from the 2nd Maine were, in fact, marched through Washington and placed on the U. S. S. Powhattan, bound for the Dry Tortugas.  Fort Jefferson, 70 miles west of Key West, was as thoroughly inhospitable a place as the Union had at its disposal.

August 13, 1861 (Tuesday): Leaving Harper's Ferry

Maryland Heights

                                                            HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
                                                                                    August 13, 1861.
            Commanding, &c, Sandy Hook, Md:
   You are authorized to withdraw your batteries and troops from Maryland Heights and Harper’s Ferry, leaving a guard to observe the enemy, and to take such position with your army as you deem best, between Frederick and the Potomac and on either side the Monocacy, to observe the enemy across the Potomac and protect the canal.  If involved in or threatened with active operations you may absorb the upper part of Stone’s command or, in an extreme case, the whole of it within your reach.
                                                            WINFIELD SCOTT

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 5, Page 560.

The problem with Harper’s Ferry is the same reported by Confederate General Joseph Johnston.  It is a central, and important position, but difficult to defend given the heights which command it.  Banks also wanted to operate closer to the supply depot which was being established around Frederick.  What Scott envisions, the cooperation with Stone’s command down river being essential, is a corps of observation which would act to detect and delay any movement north across the river into Maryland.