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RE: Civil War 150th

 
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RE: Civil War 150th - 6/26/2012 5:14:43 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

The Confederate counter-attack to save Richmond began, and immediately things went wrong. Stonewall Jackson's force was fatigued after marching from the Shenandoah Valley, and none more so than Jackson himself. His riding back and forth meant he had not had a good night's sleep for five days. (His approach was to ignore physical weakness and trust to his faith, but it didn't work.)

After waiting four hours, General A.P. Hill grew impatient and ordered his Rebels forward in a simple frontal assault. For a time it worked; the Union division opposing him was forced back. But soon Federal reinforcements arrived, and took up a strong position at Beaver Dam Creek. There, 14,000 well entrenched infantry supported by 32 guns threw back repeated Confederate attacks.

Jackson and his command arrived late in the afternoon. However, unable to find the other Confederates, Jackson did nothing. General James Longstreet and his men managed to find the battle, (despite orders from Lee to hold position), and joined in the Confederate attack. His assault met the same fate as the earlier ones, adding to the Southern casualty rolls. The day's fighting ended with the Union having lost 49 killed, 207 wounded, and 105 missing, while the Confederates suffered nearly 1,500 casualties of all types.

Lee was bitterly disappointed, but Jackson's presence had made a crucial difference after all. Union scouts had reported his arrival to McClellan, who believed Jackson had 30,000 men rather than his actual 18,000. Now McClellan was sure that his army of 130,000 bluecoats was outnumbered. He decided to shift his base of operations from the York River to the James River. And in doing so, he abandoned the plan of shelling Richmond, for there were no rail lines capable of transporting his massive siege guns to the new base.

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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RE: Civil War 150th - 6/27/2012 5:32:55 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

Robert E. Lee tried again to exploit the weakness on the Union northern wing. This time he tried to get as massive an assault as he could, gathering up his forces during the morning and starting the fighting at noon.

Stonewall Jackson and his force was still late. This time the problem was not so much fatigue as as bad directions. The guide for his advance column took the wrong road, and sorting this out took more than an hour. The Confederate attacks went in piecemeal, but much stronger than the day before. Up to 57,000 Southerners were in action at one point or another, quite possibly the largest Southern assault of the entire war.

But they met with approximately 34,000 Union troops in prepared positions. The fighting escalated through the afternoon, with some units sustaining very heavy casualties. (The 1st South Carolina Rifles suffered 57% losses in all.) Finally at 7:00 p.m., Lee managed a coordinated attack along the entire Union defensive line. Many of the Southern units were thrown back, but the Texas Brigade under Brigadier John Bell Hood broke through.

The Union line crumbled, and the retreat began, taking most of the night. A battalion of Northern cavalry charged the Texas Brigade and bought the time needed for the Yankees to fall back, though the cavalry themselves were eventually captured. The final losses were heavy for both sides: 894 killed, 3,107 wounded, 2,836 missing or captured for the Union and 1,483 killed, 6,402 wounded, 108 missing or captured for the Confederacy.


Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Because the Northerners were in retreat, the battle of Gaines's Mill was a clear victory for the South. Lee sent a message to Jefferson Davis reading: "Mr. President, it is my pleasing task to announce to you the success achieved by this army today… We sleep on the field, and shall renew the contest in the morning."

McClellan, on the other hand, had also heard of a small skirmish on the left wing at Garnett's Farm. This managed to reinforce his conviction that he was outnumbered, and he composed a telegram to the Secretary of War that showed him at his worst:


To Edwin M. Stanton

Savage Station June 28 12.20 am

I now know the full history of the day. On this side of the river the right bank - we repulsed several very strong attacks. On the left batik our men did all that men could do, all that soldiers could accomplish - but they were overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers even after I brought my last reserves into action. The loss on both sides is terrible - I believe it will prove to be the most desperate battle of the war. The sad remnants of my men behave as men those battalions who fought most bravely & suffered most are still ill the best order. My regulars were superb & I count upon what are left to turn another battle in company with their gallant comrades of the Volunteers. Had I (20,000) twenty thousand or even (10,000) ten thousand fresh troops to use tomorrow I could take Richmond, but I have not a man in reserve & shall be glad to cover my retreat & save the material & personnel of the Army.

If we have lost the day we have yet preserved our honor & no one need blush for the Army of the Potomac. I have lost this battle because my force was too small. I again repeat that I am not responsible for this & I say it with the earnestness of a General who feels in his heart the loss of every brave man who has been needlessly sacrificed today. I still hope to retrieve our fortunes, but to do this the Govt. must view the matter in the same earnest light that I do you must send me very large reinforcements, & send them at once.

I shall draw back to this side of the Chickahominy & think I can withdraw all our material. Please understand that in this battle we have lost nothing but men & those the best we have.

In addition to what I have already said I only wish to say to the Presdt that I think he is wrong, in regarding me as ungenerous when I said that my force was too weak. I merely reiterated a truth which today has been too plainly proved. I should have gained this battle with (10,000) ten thousand fresh men. If at this instant I could dispose of (10,000) ten thousand fresh men I could gain the victory tomorrow.

I know that a few thousand men more would have changed this battle from a defeat to a victory as it is the Govt must not & cannot hold me responsible for the result.

I feel too earnestly tonight I have seen too many dead & wounded comrades to feel otherwise than that the Govt has not sustained this Army. If you do not do so now the game is lost.

If I save this Army now I tell you plainly that I owe no thanks to you or any other persons in Washington. You have done your best to sacrifice this Army.

G B McClellan


The last two sentences appear to have been omitted by the telegraphist, who likely knew they would almost certainly have caused McClellan's removal from command.

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< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 8/8/2012 5:14:33 AM >

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RE: Civil War 150th - 6/28/2012 5:19:55 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

In actual fact, George McClellan had almost 130,000 bluecoats against Robert E. Lee's 90,000 Rebels. But no one in Washington knew that, so Lincoln accepted McClellan's report that he was in trouble:

War Department, Washington City,
June 28, 1862

Major Gen. McClellan:
Save your army, at all events. Will send re-inforcements as fast as we can. Of course they can not reach you to-day, to-morrow, or next day. I have not said you were ungenerous for saying you needed re-inforcement. I thought you were ungenerous in assuming that I did not send them as fast as I could. I feel any misfortune to you and your Army quite as keenly as you feel it yourself. If you have had a drawn battle, or a repulse, it is the price we pay for the enemy not being in Washington. We protected Washington, and the enemy concentrated on you; had we stripped Washington, he would have been upon us before the troops sent could have got to you. Less than a week ago you notified us that re-inforcements were leaving Richmond to come in front of us. It is the nature of the case, and neither you or the government that is to blame. Please tell at once the present condition and aspect of things.
A. LINCOLN

P.S. Gen. Pope thinks if you fall back, it would be much better towards York River, than towards the James. As Pope now has charge of the Capital, please confer with him through the telegraph. A. L.



Meanwhile, Union recruiting of troops had actually been suspended, since a month before it had appeared that the Confederacy was entering its final days. Lincoln began to remedy the situation:

Executive Mansion, June 28. 1862
Hon. W. H. Seward

My dear Sir:
My view of the present condition of the War is about as follows:
The evacuation of Corinth, and our delay by the flood in the Chicahominy, has enabled the enemy to concentrate too much force in Richmond for McClellan to successfully attack. In fact there soon will be no substantial rebel force any where else. But if we send all the force from here to McClellan, the enemy will, before we can know of it, send a force from Richmond and take Washington. Or, if a large part of the Western Army be brought here to McClellan, they will let us have Richmond, and retake Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri &c. What should be done is to hold what we have in the West, open the Mississippi, and, take Chatanooga & East Tennessee, without more---a reasonable force should, in every event, be kept about Washington for it's protection. Then let the country give us a hundred thousand new troops in the shortest possible time, which added to McClellan, directly or indirectly, will take Richmond, without endangering any other place which we now hold---and will substantially end the war. I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsakes me; and I would publicly appeal to the country for this new force, were it not that I fear a general panic and stampede would follow---so hard is it to have a thing understood as it really is. I think the new force should be all, or nearly all infantry, principally because such can be raised most cheaply and quickly.
Yours very truly
A. LINCOLN



Meanwhile, on the Peninsula itself, McClellan's decision to retreat to the James River instead of going back the way his army had come bore fruit. Lee ordered Stonewall Jackson's troops to advance to White House Station, which had been the main Union supply depot. When the Southerners got there, all they found were smoking ruins. The Union troops had burned everything they couldn't take with them. At a place called Savage's Station, however, that would not be possible. That was were the main field hospital was, and it was regretfully decided to let about 2,500 sick and wounded Northerners fall into Confederate hands.

< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 6/28/2012 7:58:21 PM >


_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

(in reply to Capt. Harlock)
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RE: Civil War 150th - 6/29/2012 5:15:53 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

The Confederates advanced, more or less, on Savage's Station. (Once again Stonewall Jackson's force was too slow and in the wrong place.) The majority of the fighting was done by the Southerners commanded by "Prince John" Magruder. But while Magruder had proved himself a master of convincing an enemy not to attack, this time he was required to do the attacking, and he knew he was outnumbered. The result was that both sides were very reluctant to commit their full strength.

The two brigades on each side that were engaged, however, took heavy casualties. Finally the Yankees fell back, partly because of the first use of an armored rail car, the "Land Merrimack", by the Confederates. Total losses were 473 for the South, and 1,038 for the North, plus an additional 2,500 wounded men captured when the Rebels overran the field hospital.




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RE: Civil War 150th - 6/30/2012 5:32:42 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

Robert E. Lee made another major effort to destroy the Army of the Potomac. The resulting battle may have had the most names of any in the Civil War, being known as the Battle of Frayser's Farm, Frazier's Farm, Nelson's Farm, Charles City Crossroads, New Market Road, or Riddell's Shop, but most often as the Battle of Glendale. Once again Stonewall Jackson's force played only a small role: he was in a virtual daze from lack of proper sleep. (At supper, he fell asleep with a biscuit still in his mouth.)

Southern troops under James Longstreet and A.P. Hill, however, actually managed to break the Union defenses. This was the closest the Confederates had come to trapping the Northerners: if they had had men enough to exploit the breach, the Rebels could have cut off the line retreat. George McClellan was on a gunboat on the James, and gave little direction to the Union forces (which looks rather close to dereliction of duty).

But Union counterattacks, especially those from Generals Joseph Hooker and George Meade, sealed the breach. Another Southern effort to turn the Union left flank was driven off, partly by shelling from Federal gunboats. The final toll was the heaviest since Gaines' Mill: the North lost 297 killed, 1,696 wounded, 1,804 missing or captured, while the South lost 638 killed, 2,814 wounded, and 221 missing.

During the night, the Federal army set up a strong defensive position on a place called Malvern Hill.

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com




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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/1/2012 4:03:12 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:


The Union position atop Malvern Hill had allowed the Northerners to assemble an amazing 250 field guns to command the approaches. Nonetheless, Robert E. Lee belived that his army had the advantage in morale. He planned a "softening-up" bombardment with his own cannons, and then a direct infantry assault up the shallow slopes. It was eerily similar to the mistake he would make at Gettysburg, exactly a year and two days later.



Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

For the Union now showed its advantage in artillery. If all the Confederate guns had been brought into action simultaneously, it is likely they still would have lost, for the Union guns were generally newer and had better quality ammunition, and further were supported by Federal gunboats on the nearby James River. As it happened, the Rebel batteries were brought into position a few at a time, and as soon as each opened up, it was met by devastating counter-battery fire.

After two and a half hours of the one-sided exchange, Lee ordered the infantry to go in anyway. His subordinate general D. H. Hill would later write of the result, "It wasn't war; it was murder." The Southerners were mowed down by scores, getting no closer than 200 yards (180 m) from the main Union line. Especially deadly was the Northern use of canister shot, which allowed a faster reload time than the older grapeshot, and was nicknamed by the artillerists "canned hell-fire".

Lee's army sustained 5,650 casualties, against the Union loss of only 2,214. By nightfall, nearly everyone in the Confederate army was convinced, with the exception of a brigade under General Isaac Trimble. But as he was about to move his men forward, Stonewall Jackson came up and asked him what he was going do. Trimble replied "I'm going to charge those batteries, sir!" Even the highly aggressive Jackson had adopted caution. "I guess you'd better not try it," he said. "General Hill has just tried with his entire division and been repulsed. I guess you'd better not try it."


Ye elms that wave on Malvern Hill
In prime of morn and May,
Recall ye how McClellan's men
Here stood at bay?
While deep within yon forest dim
Our rigid comrades lay --
Some with the cartridge in their mouth,
Others with fixed arms lifted South --
Invoking so
The cypress glades? Ah wilds of woe!

We elms of Malvern Hill
Remember every thing;
But sap the twig will fill:
Wag the world how it will,
Leaves must be green in spring.

-- Herman Melville, July 1862


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< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 7/1/2012 4:11:27 AM >

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/2/2012 5:10:53 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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Aftermath of the Seven Days:

Although George McClellan had been virtually absent for the fighting of the last two days, he now ordered a further Union retreat from Malvern Hill to Harrison's Landing. Several of his subordinates were taken aback, for they knew the Confederates had been hurt the day before. General Phil Kearny, after McClellan had gone, went so far as to say "Such an order can only be prompted by cowardice or treason."

But the Seven Days' Battles were at an end, and for thousands of wounded soldiers, it was as well. Both sides were overwhelmed by the number of casualties. On the Northern side, the ambulance drivers were civilians, and many had fled as far as the could from the horrific combat. Soon a trained ambulance corps of soldiers trained and given special uniforms would be instituted, and the system would spread to the European armies. There was also a shortage of nurses, since the example of Florence Nightingale had not really taken hold yet in America, and women were generally considered too delicate for the tasks needed. Necessity would now change that attitude in short order.

If anything, matters were worse on the Confederate side, since the Southerners had sustained even more casualties. Thousands of wounded men were conveyed back to Richmond. Churches, hotels, warehouses, and other places were turned into temporary hospitals, and even so a number of soldiers died in the streets because at that moment there was nowhere else to put them. Already, the Confederate Medical Department had taken over the planning and building of hospitals when it had become clear that private initiatives would not produce construction on the necessary scale. Now matters would be accelerated much further, and Chimborazo Hospital on the east side would become the largest such facility in the world, with 250 pavilion buildings.

In Washington, Lincoln now called for 300,000 more volunteers. This led to one of the more famous songs of the Civil War, "We Are Coming, Father Abraham".

We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more,
From Mississippi's winding stream and from New England's shore.
We leave our plows and workshops, our wives and children dear,
With hearts too full for utterance, with but a silent tear.
We dare not look behind us, but steadfastly before,
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!

CHORUS: We are coming, we are coming, our Union to restore,
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!


However, (perhaps because of the somewhat depressing lyrics) the numbers of volunteers fell short of what was wanted. The administration began to think about following the South, and enacting conscription.

< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 7/3/2012 2:07:12 AM >

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/4/2012 4:30:02 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

At Knoxville, Tennessee, a force of nearly 900 Confederate cavalry rode out and headed north for Kentucky. They were led by John Hunt Morgan, a wealthy man who had been born in Kentucky and was deeply unhappy that the state had stayed in the Union. Morgan had distinguished himself at Shiloh and started to gain a popular following; men traveled from as far away as Texas to enlist in his regiment.

Morgan had now developed new ideas about the proper employment of cavalry. He recognized that the days of directly charging a line of infantry, or worse yet artillery, were pretty much over. Encouraging his troopers to abandon their sabers, he equipped them largely with Enfield rifles smuggled from Britain. He even brought along artillery in the shape of a pair of 12-pounder howitzers, which were light enough to need only two horses to pull them. In essence, his force was mounted infantry, and they would now be tested in a raid that would last almost the entire month of July.




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_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

(in reply to Capt. Harlock)
Post #: 608
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/7/2012 5:51:40 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

Although most everyone's attention was focused on the duel between McClellan and Lee, there was still a war west of the Mississippi River. Northern General Samuel Curtis hoped to Seize Helena, Arkansas, and then move on to Little Rock, the state capital. This would allow the Union to claim another "reconstructed" state back in the fold. But to do this, the Northerners needed supplies.

There were very few railroads in Arkansas at this time, so the necessary supplies had to be delivered by riverboats. The plan was for the Union supply flotilla to rendezvous with Curtis' force at Clarendon, on the White River. On this date, Texas cavalry attacked two Union brigades commanded by Union Colonel Charles E. Hovey (pictured), hoping to keep the Yankees from their supplies. They clashed at Hill's Plantation, and so the fight would be known as the Battle of Cotton Plant.



The Texans had the advantage in numbers, but cavalry charges were no longer effective against infantry that kept good order and had rifles. Several assaults were repulsed, and finally Union reinforcements arrived and the Confederate troopers retreated. They had lost 245 casualties, with about half of them killed, while the Northerners had suffered only 6 killed and 57 wounded. But the Southern objective was achieved after all. At Clarendon, the supply vessels gave up waiting, and left before the Union army could arrive. Samuel Curtis would be able to take Helena, but Little Rock would be out of reach until next year.


In the Virginia Peninsula, George McClellan took a (brief) respite from his demands for more troops, and composed an interesting political letter to his commander-in-chief. (The full text is available at http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/primarysources/letter-from-mcclellan.html)

Head Quarters, Army of the Potomac Camp near Harrison's Landing, Va. July 7th 1862

Mr. President

You have been fully informed, that the Rebel army is in our front, with the purpose of overwhelming us by attacking our positions or reducing us by blocking our river communications. I can not but regard our condition as critical and I earnestly desire, in view of possible contingencies, to lay before your Excellency, for your private consideration, my general views concerning the state of the rebellion; although they do not strictly relate to the situation of this Army or strictly come within the scope of my official duties. These views amount to convictions and are deeply impressed upon my mind and heart.
Our cause must never be abandoned; it is the cause of free institutions and self government. The Constitution and the Union must be preserved, whatever may be the cost in time, treasure and blood.
[ . . . ]
It should not be a War looking to the subjugation of the people of any state, in any event. It should not be, at all, a War upon population; but against armed forces and political organizations. Neither confiscation of property, political executions of persons, territorial organization of states or forcible abolition of slavery should be contemplated for a moment. In prosecuting the War, all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected; subject only to the necessities of military operations.
[ . . . ]
Military power should not be allowed to interfere with the relations of servitude, either by supporting or impairing the authority of the master; except for repressing disorder as in other cases. Slaves contraband under the Act of Congress, seeking military protection, should receive it. The right of the Government to appropriate permanently to its own service claims to slave labor should be asserted and the right of the owner to compensation therefore should be recognized. This principle might be extended upon grounds of military necessity and security to all the slaves within a particular state; thus working manumission in such [a] state . . . A system of policy thus constitutional and conservative, and pervaded by the influences of Christianity and freedom, would receive the support of almost all truly loyal men, would deeply impress the rebel masses and all foreign nations, and it might be humbly hoped that it would commend itself to the favor of the Almighty. Unless the principles governing the further conduct of our struggle shall be made known and approved, the effort to obtain requisite forces will be almost hopeless. A declaration of radical views, especially upon slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present Armies.
[ . . . ]
In carrying out any system of policy which you may form, you will require a Commander in Chief of the Army; one who possesses your confidence, understands your views and who is competent to execute your orders by directing the military forces of the Nation to the accomplishment of the objects by you proposed. I do not ask that place for myself. I am willing to serve you in such position as you may assign me and I will do so as faithfully as ever subordinate served superior.
I may be on the brink of eternity and as I hope forgiveness from my maker I have written this letter with sincerity towards you and from love of my country.

Very respectfully, your obdt svt,

Geo B McClellan
Maj Genl Comdg


In the opinion of your humble amateur historian, time showed McClellan to be almost completely wrong. The Confederacy had the fervent support of the majority of its people. Many Northerners were beginning to lose heart about forcing the Southerners to rejoin a Union they so clearly wished to separate from, and the longer the Confederacy operated as an independent entity, the more Britain and France would be tempted to recognize it as a nation. A cause was needed with the power to turn the world's opinion back towards the Union, and make the sacrifice of blood and treasure worthwhile.

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< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 7/7/2012 3:59:28 PM >


_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

(in reply to Capt. Harlock)
Post #: 609
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/8/2012 3:09:51 AM   
t001001001

 

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These views amount to convictions and are deeply impressed upon my mind and heart.
Our cause must never be abandoned


Sounds to me like those guys were worried they were about to lose the cussed thing. They were right, they danged near did. I think we're getting to the turning point.

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Post #: 610
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/8/2012 7:54:22 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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quote:

I think we're getting to the turning point.


Yes, and no. When I first started this thread I was presenting the documents and events as they happened, and letting them mostly speak for themselves. (Granted, I intruded some of my own opinions during the discussion of States' Rights.) But most historians can't help introducing their own style as they write more and more about a subject. I propose to show that there were three turning points: the late summer of 1862, the late spring and early summer of 1863, and the summer and fall of 1864. It's going to be a long but hopefully rewarding ride.

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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Post #: 611
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/9/2012 3:01:58 AM   
Kiith

 

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Another great write-up thanks Capt Harlock, but the more I read about McClellen the more he baffles me. I mean he's by his own admission hard pressed to save his army but he's got the time to write about the political conduct of the War. I can only conclude that he wrote such a letter in a attempt to divert attention away from his performance as a commander?

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Post #: 612
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/9/2012 4:35:58 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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quote:

the more I read about McClellen the more he baffles me. I mean he's by his own admission hard pressed to save his army but he's got the time to write about the political conduct of the War. I can only conclude that he wrote such a letter in a attempt to divert attention away from his performance as a commander?


You are not alone in your bafflement: when U. S. Grant was asked about McClellan in later years he replied, "McClellan is to me one of the mysteries of the war." On this occasion, however, it appears McClellan was being deliberately dishonest. He had written to General John Pope the day before, “I am in a very strong natural position, rendered stronger every day by the labor of the troops, and which in a few days will be impregnable.” And this assessment was correct: Lee soon realized he could not successfully attack McClellan and moved his army back to the outskirts of Richmond, where he get supplies more easily.

My guess, for what it is worth, is that he was trying to get himself re-instated as General-in-Chief (a position that would shortly go to Henry Halleck instead), and as a back-up plan, he wished control of as many of the Union troops as possible.

(in reply to Kiith)
Post #: 613
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/9/2012 4:45:59 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today,

John Hunt Morgan and his Southern raiders had their first victory at Tompkinsville, Kentucky. As with a number of the smaller Civil War battles, there are conflicting accounts of the action. Both commanders wrote after-action reports, but since the Union leader was captured, it seems likely he tried to spin his defeat the best way he could. Morgan's report appears to be the more accurate:

BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS, Tompkinsville, Ky., July 9, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that I arrived with my command at the Cumberland River and passed the ford at about 2pm yesterday, 8th instant. My forces consisted of Colonel Hunt's Georgia regiment cavalry, my own regiment, and a squadron of Texas Rangers; we were joined at the river by two companies under Captains Hamilton and McMillin. I received information that the enemy had passed the Cumberland River at Celina the day of my arrival with about 180 men, but did not deem it right to attack that force, as I was aware that a considerable body of cavalry, about 380 or 400 strong, were stationed at this town, and I thought by rapid night march I might succeed in surprising them. I left the river at 10pm on the 8th instant, and at 5am this day I surprised the enemy, and having surrounded them, threw four shells into their camp, and then carried it by a dashing charge. The enemy fled, leaving about 22 dead and 30 to 40 wounded in our hands. We have 30 prisoners and my Texas squadron are still in pursuit of the fugitives. Among the prisoners is Major Jordan, their commander, and two lieutenants. The tents, stores, and camp equipage I have destroyed, but a valuable baggage train, consisting of some 20 wagons and 50 mules is in my possession; also some 40 cavalry horses, and supplies of sugar, coffee, etc. I did not lose a single man in killed, but have to regret that Colonel Hunt, while leading a brilliant charge, received a severe wound in the leg, which prevents his going on with the command. I also had three members of the Texas squadron wounded, but not seriously.

Very respectfully,

JOHN H. MORGAN, Colonel, Commanding.


(However, Colonel Hunt died of his wound a few days later.)

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Post #: 614
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/11/2012 4:40:07 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

General Henry Halleck received new orders by telegraph. Lincoln had promoted him to be General-in-Chief of all the Union armies. However, this meant turning over his command of the troops in the West to Ulysses S. Grant, his least favorite subordinate. Halleck telegraphed Grant to come to his headquarters at Corinth, Mississippi, but gave no further details. Grant wired back, inquiring if he should bring his staff with him. He received the curt reply: "This place will be your headquarters. You can judge for yourself."

Grant now had an independent command, but he also had serious problems. Halleck had scattered his force of over 100,000 men to a number of places, including an expedition to the relief of the pro-Unionists in eastern Tennessee. Halleck had also caused the construction of a massive ring of fortifications around Corinth -- so massive that they would have taken all his 100,000 troops to man. Since less than half that number were now in the area, the first order of business for Grant was to have more compact entrenchments dug. This was not suited to the aggressive Grant's temperament, but his duty was plain. Going on the offensive would have to wait until he had more men, and the Eastern theater was currently claiming most of the new recruits.

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/12/2012 4:29:23 AM   
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150 Years Ago Today:

John Hunt Morgan and his Confederate raider force reached Lebanon, Kentucky, which is in almost the exact center of the state. For the first time, but not the last, the Southerners seized control of the town and its railroad depot.


In Washington, since the Navy had a Medal of Honor, it was decided that the Army should have one too. On this date, the law was passed establishing the medal and declaring it would be awarded "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities, during the present insurrection."




Also in Washington, Lincoln addressed a letter to the Congressmen of the border states, urging them to emancipate their slaves. He summoned his considerable powers of eloquence:

July 12, 1862
Gentlemen: After the adjournment of Congress, now very near, I shall have no opportunity of seeing you for several months. Believing that you of the border-states hold more power for good than any other equal number of members, I feel it a duty which I can not justifiably waive, to make this appeal to you. I intend no reproach or complaint when I assure you that in my opinion, if you all had voted for the resolution in the gradual emancipation message of last March, the war would now be substantially ended. And the plan therein proposed is yet one of the most potent, and swift means of ending it. Let the states which are in rebellion see, definitely and certainly, that, in no event, will the states you represent ever join their proposed Confederacy, and they can not, much longer maintain the contest. But you can not divest them of their hope to ultimately have you with them so long as you show a determination to perpetuate the institution within your own states. Beat them at elections, as you have overwhelmingly done, and, nothing daunted, they still claim you as their own. You and I know what the lever of their power is. Break that lever before their faces, and they can shake you no more forever.
Most of you have treated me with kindness and consideration; and I trust you will not now think I improperly touch what is exclusively your own, when, for the sake of the whole country I ask “Can you, for your states, do better than to take the course I urge?” Discarding punctillio, and maxims adapted to more manageable times, and looking only to the unprecedentedly stern facts of our case, can you do better in any possible event? You prefer that the constitutional relation of the states to the nation shall be practically restored, without disturbance of the institution; and if this were done, my whole duty, in this respect, under the constitution, and my oath of office, would be performed. But it is not done, and we are trying to accomplish it by war. The incidents of the war can not be avoided. If the war continue long, as it must, if the object be not sooner attained, the institution in your states will be extinguished by mere friction and abrasion–-by the mere incidents of the war. It will be gone, and you will have nothing valuable in lieu of it. Much of its value is gone already. How much better for you, and for your people, to take the step which, at once, shortens the war, and secures substantial compensation for that which is sure to be wholly lost in any other event. How much better to thus save the money which else we sink forever in the war. How much better to do it while we can, lest the war ere long render us pecuniarily unable to do it. How much better for you, as seller, and the nation as buyer, to sell out, and buy out, that without which the war could never have been, than to sink both the thing to be sold, and the price of it, in cutting one another's throats.
I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at once to emancipate gradually. Room in South America for colonization, can be obtained cheaply, and in abundance; and when numbers shall be large enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the freed people will not be so reluctant to go.
I am pressed with a difficulty not yet mentioned–-one which threatens division among those who, united are none too strong. An instance of it is known to you. Gen. Hunter is an honest man. He was, and I hope, still is, my friend. I valued him none the less for his agreeing with me in the general wish that all men everywhere, could be free. He proclaimed all men free within certain states, and I repudiated the proclamation. He expected more good, and less harm from the measure, than I could believe would follow. Yet in repudiating it, I gave dissatisfaction, if not offence, to many whose support the country can not afford to lose. And this is not the end of it. The pressure, in this direction, is still upon me, and is increasing. By conceding what I now ask, you can relieve me, and much more, can relieve the country, in this important point. Upon these considerations I have again begged your attention to the message of March last. Before leaving the Capital, consider and discuss it among yourselves. You are patriots and statesmen; and, as such, I pray you, consider this proposition; and, at the least, commend it to the consideration of your states and people. As you would perpetuate popular government for the best people in the world, I beseech you that you do in no wise omit this. Our common country is in great peril, demanding the loftiest views, and boldest action to bring it speedy relief. Once relieved, its form of government is saved to the world; its beloved history, and cherished memories, are vindicated; and its happy future fully assured, and rendered inconceivably grand. To you, more than to any others, the previlege is given, to assure that happiness, and swell that grandeur, and to link your own names therewith forever.


Lincoln was not exaggerating; the demand for action against slavery from the "Radical" Republicans both in Congress and in his own Cabinet was growing ever louder. But the response was a decided no. Two-thirds of the border representatives signed a manifesto opposing Lincoln's plea.


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< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 7/12/2012 8:23:24 PM >

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/13/2012 5:34:13 AM   
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150 Years Ago Today:

It was a time when it was sadly more common for a parent to have to bury a child. Lincoln had lost a son in February, and now he attended the funeral of Secretary of War Stanton's infant son. On the way, Lincoln and Stanton were riding in the presidential carriage along with Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles (who had acted as a pallbearer). Lincoln decided the time was right to reveal that he was considering "emancipating the slaves by proclamation". It had become clear that the South's slaves were a major part of its war effort and so, Lincoln said, he had "come to the conclusion that it was a military necessity absolutely essential for the salvation of the Union, that we must free the slaves or be ourselves subdued."

Both Welles and Stanton were strong abolitionists, but they recognized this as a fundamental change. (For one thing, it could be argued to violate the Constitution, which had been drawn up recognizing and protecting slavery.) Though Seward was usually at no loss for words, he merely said he prefered to "bestow on it mature reflection before giving a decisive answer." This was still better than Welles, who sat speechless.

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Post #: 617
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/15/2012 5:12:28 AM   
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150 Years Ago Today:


The ironclad CSS Arkansas had been under construction at Yazoo City, up the Yazoo river from Vicksburg. Farragut's Union fleet had been making no progress capturing Vicksburg, and now he learned of the possible threat. Early in the morning, three Union vessels including the ironclad Carondelet were sent up the Yazzo to investigate. But Arkansas' commander Issac Brown was well aware he had limited time, and had his men working night and day to complete his vessel. She wasn't quite ready: her stern was armored with hastily-installed boiler plate instead of the iron rails that protected the rest of the ship. But when the Union ships were sighted, it was now or never. Brown raised steam, and with a crew half composed of Confederate Army men ordered to his assistance, he came out to fight.

The first Northern ship to attack was Tyler, but she was unarmored, and soon got the worst of it. Carondelet engaged, then turned away, and a well-aimed shot destroyed her steering. The last ship, Queen of the West, was a ram with no guns and so decided to go back towards the rest of the Federal fleet. By this time the Arkansas had taken damage herself, and when she emerged from the Yazoo into the Mississippi, it was discovered she could not make the speed to go back upriver. There was nothing for it but to fight her way through the entire Union fleet to the safety of Vicksburg.

Fortunately for the Confederates, the Queen of the West had done a poor job of raising the alarm. Farragut had just awoken, and most of the Northern ships had not yet lit their fires and could not make steam. Still, when the Arkansas appeared, the Union sailors hastily went to quarters, and manned their guns.

It took half an hour for the slow-moving Arkansas to go through the Union fleet, with firing given and received from all sides. But after the first few minutes, the clouds of smoke from the many cannons made it hard for everyone to see their targets. The Northern ram Lancaster was disabled by a shot into her boiler, and Arkansas herself was hit several more times, knocking out guns and holing her smokestack, which lowered her speed still more. But she was still afloat and under power as she headed towards Vicksburg, having fought her way through thirty Federal ships.

The Union ironclad Benton pursued, but thought better of it as she came within range of the Vickburg batteries. Twenty thousand cheering spectators welcomed the Arkansas to the city docks. A number even tried to come on board, but with 10 men killed and 15 seriously wounded, it was no place for the curious. The civilians left, and with them went the Army men who had signed on for only a week to work on the ship. Captain Brown now had less than half a crew.

Farragut was not the man to take such an attack on his fleet lying down. That very evening, he brought a squadron of his heaviest ships down to Vicksburg to make another attempt. But by the time he had gotten his flotilla organzed and underway, night was falling. His ships took little damage from the Vicksburg shore batteries, but in turn could not see the Arkansas at all. (Unknown to Farragut, one chance shot manged to hit Arkansas at the waterline and admitted water into the engine room.) More careful planning was in order.








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_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

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Post #: 618
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/15/2012 9:27:31 AM   
nicwb

 

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Once again thanks Capt Harlock - I love the detail of the war - it really makes it come alive and personal

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/16/2012 5:32:56 AM   
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150 Years Ago Today:

John Hunt Morgan and his raiding force continued through Kentucky, with no Union force seeming able to stop them. On this date, Morgan sent a message back to General Kirby Smith: "I am here with a force sufficient to hold the whole country outside of Lexington and Frankfort. These places are garrisoned chiefly with Home Guards. The bridges between Cincinnati and Lexington have been destroyed. The whole country can be secured and 25,000 to 30,000 men will join you at once. I have taken eleven cities and towns with very heavy army stores." Smith began to think very seriously about a full-scale invasion instead of a temporary raid. If Kentucky could be brought into the Confederacy, the reconquest of Tennessee would almost certainly follow.

In Washington, Congress authorized the rank of Rear Admiral. Ironically, it was primarily meant for David Farragut, who had just suffered the worst defeat of his career. Still looking to destroy the ship that had shot its way through his entire fleet, Farragut brought in mortar boats to try to destroy Arkansas with long-range shelling. No luck.

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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Post #: 620
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/17/2012 5:25:54 AM   
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150 Years Ago Today:

The Confiscation Act of 1862 was authorized by the U.S. Congress. For those interested in the legalese, the full text is available at http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/conact2.htm

In principle, the Second Confiscation Act allowed the Union government to seize all the property of those taking up arms against the US government, or anyone aiding the rebellion. However, only a small amount of such property was ever truly confiscated (though there was of course considerable looting as the war went on). Most of all, the Confiscation Act provided few details on enforcement. It simply stated, "it shall be the duty of the President of the United States to cause the seizure of all the estate and property, money, stocks, credits and effects." Reluctant enforcement of the Act by Attorney General Bates didn't help.

On the slavery question especially, the new law seemed to “straddle the fence”. Section 9 provided for the freedom of all slaves who escaping to the lines of the Union army – if they belonged to persons engaged in rebellion. This allowed pro-slavery Union commanders to still hold runaway slaves for fear that they might have owners loyal to the Union. More, it could be interpreted to mean that slaves were still “property” under the law. Interestingly, it also proposed emigration for freed slaves to "some tropical country beyond the limits of the United States". Lincoln signed the act into law, but privately continued to work on his rough draft of a proclamation of emancipation.

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/18/2012 8:30:27 PM   
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(Deleted because of image failure.)

< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 7/18/2012 8:49:17 PM >

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/18/2012 8:47:06 PM   
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150 years Ago Today:

By this time, John Hunt Morgan and his raiders had ridden almost across the breadth of Kentucky. He now attacked a small town named Cynthiana in the northern part of the state, hoping to convince the Union forces that he meant to go all the way across Kentucky and raid Cincinnati. The result, oddly enough for a Civil War battle, does not seem to have a generally accepted name. (The Battle of Cynthiana refers to an action in 1864.)

The Union had a garrison of about 340 men, less than half the size of Morgan's force. The Rebels quickly surrounded the town, but the Yankees put up a stout resistance at first, at one point firing grapeshot from their single cannon down the main street. After some determined house-to-house fighting, the Union soldiers began to run low on ammunition. many scattered, while a small group of about forty fell back to the railroad depot. There was a lull, and then the Northern commander decided to cut his way out. Only he and a handful of his men escaped, however.

The Confederates did not even hold the town until sundown. Hearing rumors that a large force of Union cavalry was on the way, Morgan headed south -- but he would be back in two years.





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Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/21/2012 4:06:00 PM   
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150 Years Ago Today:

In Washington, messengers were sent out to summon a special meeting of Lincoln's Cabinet. Everyone assembled at the White House except for Postmaster Montgomery Blair, who was in Maryland. Lincoln announced that he was "profoundly concerned at the present state of affairs, and had determined to take some definitive step in respect to military action and slavery." He read several measures he was considering, including requesting troops in Confederate territory to live off the land, and formally paying wages to blacks employed by the Army. This lead to a discussion about possibly arming them, and everyone knew the prospect of "runaway" slaves with weapons would inflame the South. The debate ran for quite some time, and Lincoln scheduled another meeting the next day, where he would make a more definite announcement.


Morgan's first raid came to a successful conclusion as his troopers crossed back into Tennessee and arrived in the town of Livingston. In twenty-four days they had ridden about a thousand miles and overrun seventeen towns, burned immense amounts of Union supplies, and captured and "paroled" more Northern soldiers than the size of their entire force. They had sustained only ninety casualties.

Northern spirits, which had been high as recently as May, drooped. McClellan seemed to be stuck in Virginia, Grant was stalled in the West, the Arkansas seemed safe at Vicksburg and blocking the Mississippi, and now Union territory could be overrun with near impunity.




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_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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Post #: 624
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/22/2012 4:34:20 AM   
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150 Years Ago Today:

The Union navy made another attempt to destroy the Arkansas. The plan was that, around 3:00 am, Farragut's fleet would shell the Vicksburg batteries from downriver and the ironclads would do likewise from upriver. During the engagement, the Yankee ironclad Essex and the ram Queen of the West would sneak in close to shore and then ram Arkansas. Unknown to the Northerners, the Arkansas had only six officers and twenty-eight crew on board, enough to man only two or three of her guns.

But the attack started late, and was not truly coordinated. Essex came in first, but could not manage a direct blow, and caromed off to ground on the river bank. Sharpshooters from the town plinked away at the Union ironclad for ten minutes until captain William Porter manged to back her off and sail south to join Farragut's fleet. In doing so, Porter missed a rich opportunity. Just before impact, two of his cannons had penetrated Arkansas' plating, killing eight and wounding six on the gundeck. That was nearly half the crew, and had Essex's men grappled and boarded, they might well have captured the Arkansas.

Next came Queen of the West. But again, the blow was not direct, due to an eddy in the river current, and again, the Northern vessel grounded near shore. Still, this impact did some damage, tearing plating off the rebel ironclad's beam. The Southerners tried to take their revenge on Queen of the West. As Captain Ellet later reported, "I had the undivided attention of all the enemy's batteries and sharpshooters, and the consequences were that the Queen was completely riddled with balls and very much damaged." Miraculously, the Queen backed off the bank and steamed back upriver with no serious injuries to her crew.

Confederate commander Earl Van Dorn wired Jefferson Davis, "An attempt was made this morning by two ironclad rams to sink the Arkansas. The failure so complete it was almost ridiculous." But had the Arkansas' engines been carefully inspected, Van Dorn would not have been so cheerful. The connecting rods had been jarred out of alignment.


At the White House, having gathered the Cabinet in his office, President Lincoln took two sheets of paper from his pocket, adjusted his glasses, and read aloud his draft proclamation. It set New Year's Day 1863 as a deadline, after which all slaves in states still in rebellion would be declared free, "thenceforward, and forever". Lincoln proposed to use his authority as Commander in Chief during a time of war, thus bypassing the protection given slavery in the Constitution. For this reason, those slaves in the border states still in the Union would not be freed. But for three and a half million people, their freedom would come as soon as they could escape, or Union troops occupied wherever they happened to be. Since the great majority of the South's wealth was in slaves and the land they farmed, this meant tearing the Southern economy up by the roots.

The Cabinet listened in silence until the President was finished. Then, they spoke in favor or against. Secretary of War Stanton and Attorney General Bates were in favor of enacting the proposal immediately. Secretary of the Navy Welles and Secretary of the Interior Caleb Smith kept silent, daunted by the magnitude of the proposal. Postmaster Blair gave a vigorous dissent, and asked to file his objections in writing. Surprisingly, Secretary of the Treasury Chase, who was a staunch abolitionist, argued that it was "a measure of great danger" and might lead to "depredation and massacre on the one hand, and support to the insurrection on the other." Nonetheless, he was willing to support it if the alternative was doing nothing.

Lastly, Secretary of State Seward gave his opinion. He worried that the proclamation would lead to racial war in the South, and give Britain and France grounds for intervening. However, he was now steadfast in loyalty to Lincoln, and would approve -- except for the timing. "The depression of the public mind, consequent on our repeated reverses, is so great that I fear . . . it may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help . . . our last shriek, on the retreat." It would have far more effect if Lincoln waited "until the eagle of victory takes his flight."

As Lincoln would later say, "The wisdom of the view of the Secretary of State struck me with very great force. It was an aspect of the case that, in all my thought upon the subject, I had entirely overlooked. The result was that I put the draft of the proclamation aside . . . waiting for a victory."

But matters would get much worse for the Union before they got better. For one thing, a rested Stonewall Jackson was on his way back to the Shenandoah Valley.




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_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/23/2012 5:04:52 AM   
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150 Years Ago Today:

Encouraged by the success of John Hunt Morgan's raid into Kentucky, General Braxton Bragg had decided to follow up with a full-scale invasion. His Army of Tennessee had been somewhat out of position for this move, being at Tupelo, Mississippi. Bragg partially solved the problem by commandeering railroad transport and bringing his 30,000 infantry to Chattanooga by rail. Because of the loss of Corinth, the route had to through Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama, a distance of 770 miles. It was the largest movement of Confederate troops by rail during the war. However, Bragg's cavalry and artillery moved by horse-on-road transport, and would take some time to catch up.

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/27/2012 4:59:32 AM   
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150 Years Ago Today:


The Confederacy had decided to do something about the Yankees in Louisiana. The first step was to recapture the state Capital, Baton Rouge. 5,000 Confederate troops, led by Gen. John Breckinridge, marched out of Vicksburg for Camp Moore in upper Louisiana. There they joined up with a further, though smaller, group of Southern infantry. For once, the Rebels had a goodly amount of equipment and supplies, and were well fed. They would need every advantage to disloge entrenched troops in a city, supported by Union gunboats.

To deal with that last point, the Southerners wanted the CSS Arkansas. Her skipper, Isaac Brown, had been working his men night and day to get his ship battle-ready again. But on a trip to secure spare parts, he had fallen ill. From his sick-bed, Brown wired the exec, Henry Stevens, not to move the Arkansas until he returned. But the overall theater commander, General Earl Van Dorn, ordered Stevens to get under way as soon as Arkansas' leaks were repaired, for the attack on Baton Rouge was set for August 5. Stevens was caught between two incompatible orders.


_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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Post #: 627
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/30/2012 2:53:11 AM   
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150 Years Ago Today:

George McClellan was far from alone in opposing the waging of "total war", the destruction of the Southern economy and social system rather than merely the bringing down of the Confederate government. In the eyes of many Republicans such people, who were almost always Democrats, secretly sympathized with the South and did not actually want the Union to succeed. Before the war, Northern supporters of slavery had been called "dough-faces". But now a stronger term was wanted, and some radical Republicans compared the Democrats who fought the war measures such as confiscation of Rebel slaves and other property to poisonous snakes. On this date, the Cincinnati Gazette used the term "copperheads" for the first known time in print. It would rapidly catch on.

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/31/2012 8:32:18 PM   
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End of July, 1862:

In the Virginia Peninsula, McClellan's Army of the Potomac was showing few signs of activity. President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton both urged McClellan to resume his advance on Richmond, but he was still convinced he was badly outnumbered. His incessant demands for more troops were now wearying almost everyone in Washington. and if he wasn't going to do anything in the Virginia Peninsula, the men could definitely be used in the Shenandoah Valley, where Stonewall Jackson was showing signs of activity.

In Chattanooga, Generals Braxton Bragg and Kirby Smith conferred over the situation in Kentucky and Tennessee. Bragg was the senior, but Smith was not in his formal chain of command. For once, a general ignored his ego: Smith volunteered himself and his men to do whatever Bragg thought best. Since Bragg's artillery and supply wagons were still making their way to Chattanooga, Bragg decided to send Smith's force into eastern Tennessee, wheel around to the north, and trap Union general Don Carlos Buell and his army between Smith's army and Bragg's.

At Vicksburg, Lieutenant Henry Stevens, the acting commander of the CSS Arkansas, needed clarification. There happened to be a Captain in the Confederate Navy in the area, and Stevens applied to him to decide whether his should disobey his skipper and move the Arkansas, or disobey theater commander Earl Van Dorn and stay put. The Captain instructed Stevens to sail to the aid of the Confederate force marching on Baton Rouge. (It probably helped that this force was commanded by John Breckinridge, a former Vice-President of the United States.) Ready or not, the Arkansas would sail.

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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RE: Civil War 150th - 8/3/2012 8:25:40 PM   
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150 Years Ago Today:

In the Shenandoah Valley, great things had been expected of Union General John Pope and his Army of Virginia. (For once a Northern army was not named after a river.) But Pope had committed the classic error of dividing his forces in the face of the enemy. Although he had over 60,000 men, his largest concentration was only 16,000 (under Nathaniel Banks). This was not nearly enough to take on the 24,000 Rebels under Stonewall Jackson entrenched at the key junction of Gordonsville.

The quick solution was to bring back McClellan's Army of the Potomac, which was apparently immobilized on the Virginia Peninsula. But first, General-in-Chief Henry Halleck had decided to give McClellan one more chance, and an advance to retake Malvern Hill was ordered. But although the Northerners had defended the position admirably just a month previously, they had apparently forgotten the way. After hours of choosing the wrong roads, the division commander Joseph Hooker marched his bluecoats back to camp in disgust.

Although he had a working telegraph, McClellan failed to report this to Halleck for several hours more. By that time Halleck had decided. “It is determined to withdraw your army from the Peninsula" came the order. Interestingly, Halleck also instructed that the movement “should be concealed even from your own officers” until the time came to march.

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

(in reply to Capt. Harlock)
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