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RE: Civil War 150th

 
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RE: Civil War 150th - 6/20/2013 8:11:05 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

West Virginia was formally admitted into the Union. The Confederate flag had been changed earlier in the year, and now it was the turn of the U. S. flag. (of course, the change was only to add a 35th star.)




In Pennsylvania, more and more Confederate troops began to appear. A call for militia was sent out, which drew little response except from the black community. The Governor tried to refuse these men, claiming that only the Federal government had been authorized to enlist colored troops.

Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 6/21/2013 3:31:32 AM >


_____________________________

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 #: 871
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/21/2013 3:30:32 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

At Upperville, Virginia, Alfred Pleasonton's cavalry again tried to break through "Jeb" Stuart's screen to get more information about what Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia were up to. Although the Yankees were now reinforced by a brigade of infantry, Stuart and his men took expert advantage of stone walls and other terrain features to make a slow fighting withdrawal. At Ashby's Gap they stopped and took up a strong defensive position. The Northerners captured a cannon, the first gun ever lost by Stuart's cavalry, but did not penetrate into the Shenandoah Valley. The exact plans of the Confederates were still a mystery.

But "Jeb" Stuart wasn't happy either. For nearly a week he had been fighting on the defensive, and it wasn't what cavalry was supposed to do. More, although he had accomplished his task of preventing the Yankees from finding out where the Confederate army was, the location of the Union army was now also uncertain. The bluecoats had moved away from Fredricksburg, heading north, but the all-important question was how far north. Stuart applied to Lee, requesting a more aggressive assignment (and one that gave him more of a chance to wipe out the sting of his surprise at Brandy Station).




Attachment (1)

_____________________________

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 #: 872
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/22/2013 5:21:08 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

Robert E. Lee issued new orders to "Jeb" Stuart and his cavalry. Lee's basic idea was for the Southern troopers to screen to the east of the main body of the Army of Northern Virginia. But he was accustomed to given his subordinates flexibility, to use their own judgement:

HEADQUARTERS, June 22, 1863.

Maj. Gen. J. E. B. STUART,
Commanding Cavalry:

GENERAL: I have just received your note of 7.45 this morning to General Longstreet. I judge the efforts of the enemy yesterday were to arrest progress and ascertain our whereabouts. Perhaps he is satisfied. Do you know where he is and what he is doing? I fear he will steal a march on us, and get across the Potomac before we are aware. If you find that he is moving northward, and that two brigades can guard the Blue Ridge and take care of your rear, you can move with the other three into Maryland, and take position on General Ewell's right, place yourself in communication with him, guard his flank, keep him informed of the enemy's movements, and collect all the supplies you can for the use of the army. One column of General Ewell's army will probably move toward the Susquehanna by the Emmitsburg route; another by Chambersburg. Accounts from him last night state that there was no enemy west of Frederick. A cavalry force (about 100) guarded the Monocacy Bridge, which was barricaded. You will, of course, take charge of Jenkins' brigade, and give him necessary instructions. All supplies taken in Maryland must be by authorized staff officers for their respective departments--by no one else. They will be paid for, or receipts for the same given to the owners. I will send you a general order on this subject, which I wish you to see is strictly complied with.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,
General.


The order was passed through James Longstreet's headquarters, who saw fit to give Stuart even more latitude:

HEADQUARTERS,
Millwood, June 22, 1863- 7 p. m.

Maj. Gen. J. E. B. STUART,
Commanding Cavalry:

GENERAL: General Lee has inclosed to me this letter for you, to be forwarded to you, provided you can be spared from my front, and provided I think that you can move across the Potomac without disclosing our plans. He speaks of your leaving, via Hopewell Gap, and passing by the rear of the enemy. If you can get through by that route, I think that you will be less likely to indicate what our plans are than if you should cross by passing to our rear. I forward the letter of instructions with these suggestions.

Please advise me of the condition of affairs before you leave, and order General Hampton-whom I suppose you will leave here in command-to report to me at Millwood, either by letter or in person, as may be most agreeable to him.

Most respectfully,
JAMES LONGSTREET,
Lieutenant-General.


Stuart had been hoping for a chance to ride completely around the Union army for a third time. Now, although it wasn't what either Lee or Longstreet really had in mind, the orders permitted it.

_____________________________

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 #: 873
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/24/2013 2:29:07 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

Up until this date, General William Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland had faced Braxton Bragg and the Army of Tennessee, neither moving except for cavalry raids. Now, after much haranguing from President Lincoln and General-in-Chief Halleck, the Northerners began what would be known as the Tullahoma campaign. Accompanied by one or two feints, a mounted brigade under Colonel John T. Wilder was sent forward. Wilder's men had been equipped with the new seven-shot Spencer repeating rifles (and they had been procured and paid for "creatively", due to shameful delays back in Washington).

On the morning of June 24th, at 3 o'clock, we left camp 5 miles north of Murfreesboro, and started to the "front," in ad­vance of everything. As we passed through the camps in Murfreesboro, the rattle of drums, sounding of bugles, and clatter of wagons, told us plainly that the whole army was to follow in our wake, and we knew full well, from the direction we were taking, that a few hours march would bring the brigade to some of the strongholds of the enemy, so there was silence in the column as we moved along through the mud, and every ear was strained to catch the sound of the first gun of our advance guard that would tell us of the presence of the enemy.

Soon after daylight a heavy rain commenced falling which continued without interruption all day and night, and has con­tinued ever since, with only a few hours cessation at a time. About noon the first gun was fired, and then we pushed ahead rapidly, for we were nearing the formidable "Hoover's Gap," which it was supposed would cost a great many lives to pass through, and our brigade commander determined to surprise the enemy if possible, by a rapid march, and make a bold dash to pass through the "Gap" and hold it with our brigade alone until the rest of the army could get up. We soon came into the camp of a regiment of cavalry which was so much surprised by our sudden appearance that they scattered through the woods and over the hills in every direction, every fellow for himself, and all making the best time they could bareback, on foot and every other way, leaving all their tents, wagons, baggage, com­missary stores and indeed everything in our hands, but we didn't stop for anything, on we pushed, our boys, with their Spencer rifles, keeping up a continual popping in front. Soon we reached the celebrated "Gap" on the run.

... the enemy was surprised and flying before us, so we pushed onward until we passed entirely through the "Gap," when a puff of white smoke from a hill about half a mile in front of us, then a dull heavy roar, then the shrieking of a shell told us we could advance no further as we had reached their infantry and artillery force. But we had done enough, had advanced 6 miles further than ordered or expected possible, and had taken a point which it was expected would require a large part of the army to take; but the serious question with us now was: "Could we alone hold it in the presence of superior force?"

[...]

On us a terrific fire of shot and shell from five different points, and their masses of infantry, with flags flying, moved out of the woods on our right in splendid style; there were three or four times our number already in sight and still others came pouring out of the woods beyond. Our regiment lay on the hill side in mud and water, the rain pouring down in torrents, while each shell screamed so close to us as to make it seem that the next would tear us to pieces.

Presently the enemy got near enough to us to make a charge on our battery, and on they came; our men are on their feet in an instant and a terrible fire from the "Spencers" causes the advancing regiment to reel and its colors fall to the ground, but in an instant their colors are up again and on they come, think­ing to reach the battery before our guns can be reloaded, but they "reckoned without their host," they didn't know we had the "Spencers," and their charging yell was answered by an­other terrible volley, and another and another without cessation, until the poor regiment was literally cut to pieces, and but few men of that 20th Tennessee that attempted the charge will ever charge again. During all the rest of the fight at "Hoover's Gap" they never again attempted to take that battery...

... an incident occurred worthy of men­tion; for it shows the spirit of the men of this brigade. A corpo­ral of the [17th] Ind. was shot through the breast at the first fire; he had always said, as indeed all our men do, that the enemy should never get hold of his "Spencer" to use it; he hadn't strength to break it so he took out his knife, unscrewed a part of the lock plate and threw it away, rendering the gun en­tirely useless, he then fell back amid the storm of bullets, lay down and died.
--Col. James Connolly


(Historical note: the real problem for the Confederates in trying to get the Spencers was the ammunition. Both sides used .58 caliber single-shot muskets, so ordinarily captured weapons could be loaded with standard-issue paper cartridges. But the Spencers used copper-cased cartridges, which the desperately copper-poor South could not manufacture in quantity.)




Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 6/25/2013 4:26:35 AM >


_____________________________

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 #: 874
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/25/2013 4:42:07 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

Probably the most amazing escape from slavery in recorded history happened on the outskirts of Vicksburg. The investment of the town had become a classic siege operation, including digging tunnels underneath the defensive ramparts and placing barrels of gunpowder to blast away the obstacles. The Confederates got wind of the operation and "counter-mined" or dug tunnels of their own, but much of the work was done by conscripted slaves. Partly as a result, they did not stop the Union sappers:

On the 25th of June at three o'clock, all being ready, the mine was exploded. A heavy artillery fire all along the line had been ordered to open with the explosion. The effect was to blow the top of the hill off and make a crater where it stood. The breach was not sufficient to enable us to pass a column of attack through. In fact, the enemy having failed to reach our mine had thrown up a line farther back, where most of the men guarding that point were placed. There were a few men, however, left at the advance line, and others working in the countermine, which was still being pushed to find ours. All that were there were thrown into the air, some of them coming down on our side, still alive. I remember one colored man, who had been under ground at work when the explosion took place, who was thrown to our side. He was not much hurt, but terribly frightened. Some one asked him how high he had gone up. "Dun no, massa, but t'ink 'bout t'ree mile," was his reply.
--The Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant




In Virginia, an hour or two after midnight, "Jeb" Stuart and his troopers moved out. It is possible that Stuart had already made up his mind to ride completely around the Northern army, as he had done twice before and gained fame thereby. Whether or not he had so determined, the Army of the Potomac was about to become a moving target. That same day, Joe Hooker learned that Confederate infantry was in Maryland and moving into Pennsylvania, and he finally began to pursue Lee in earnest, his force heading north. By the time Stuart reached where he expected to find the Federals, they were gone.

_____________________________

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 #: 875
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/26/2013 4:19:15 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

The Army of Northern Virginia continued its progress north. As has generally been the case throughout history, newly raised militia proved no match for experienced soldiers. Confederates from Jubal Early's division brushed aside the Pennsylvania militia after a few skirmishes, and marched into a place called Gettysburg just north of the state border. Early announced a tribute, but few supplies were actually collected. The Rebels burned a bridge and some railroad cars, cut the telegraph wires, wrecked what rail lines they could, and camped for the night.


In New York City, Andrew H. Foote had been promoted to Rear Admiral, the highest rank then in the Union Navy. But his health had deteriorated, and he had given up his command of the fleet of river gunboats. After several months of what was essentially desk duty, he felt fit for active service again, and had been assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, covering Virginia to Florida. But on this date he died suddenly, probably of kidney disease.





Attachment (1)

_____________________________

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 #: 876
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/27/2013 8:13:26 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

In spite of his nickname, "Fighting Joe" Hooker had turned out to be a general much like George McClellan: an excellent organizer, but hesitant on the battlefield. Now he showed another similarity; the fear that he was outnumbered. To bolster his strength for the looming showdown with Robert E. Lee and his army, Hooker wanted more troops. The best place to get them, he believed, was to take the 10,000-man garrison at Harpers Ferry. After all, over 12,000 men had proved insufficient to hold the place during the Antietam campaign.

But General-in-Chief Henry Halleck strongly disagreed. Difficult to defend it might be, but Harpers Ferry was a key junction and a place with strong emotional significance to both North and South. He flatly refused Hooker's request, even going so far as to tell the garrison commander to ignore Hooker's orders. The incensed Hooker telegraphed his resignation, hoping that Halleck would not dare to change commanders on the eve of battle. This was unwise, because Halleck and Lincoln were both unhappy with him. The resignation was immediately accepted.


In the morning, the Rebels under Jubal Early departed the town of Gettysburg. It did not seem to be a place worth holding, and the city of York, Pennsylvania offered a much better chance for gathering supplies.

_____________________________

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 #: 877
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/28/2013 3:56:38 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

In the early morning hours, a messenger came into the tent of V Corps commander George Gordon Meade and woke him up. Meade would later write to his wife that his first thought was that politics had caught up with him, and he was being arrested. To his astonishment he learned that he was now the commander of the Army of the Potomac. And it was clear that a major battle was only a matter of days away.




Just to the northwest of Washington D. C. , "Jeb" Stuart and his cavalry swooped in and captured a wagon train of 140 fully loaded wagons plus teams. This caused understandable alarm in the Northern capital, and Stuart is supposed to have told a prisoner that if his horses hadn't been fatigued "he would have marched down the 7th Street Road [and] took Abe & Cabinet prisoners." (Your humble amateur historian believes it had more to do with the fortifications around Washington.) The capture was all well and good, but the Southern troopers were supposed to have been in Hanover, Pennsylvania on this date, and loaded wagons would slow them down even more. Without those brigades of cavalry, Robert E. Lee and his army were largely blind as to where the Union army was. And on this date, that Union army was around Frederick, Maryland, and moving north at a good pace.


Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Attachment (2)

< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 6/29/2013 4:08:37 AM >


_____________________________

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 #: 878
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/28/2013 4:58:45 AM   
nicwb

 

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Great thread as usual Capt Harlock.

I never knew that the Confederates had gone to Gettysburg some days earlier than the final clash.

As a matter of interest, what were the "politics" Meade was worried about? He must have been regarded as a solid commander to lead a Corps and be chosen to take charge of the Army of the Potomac.

(in reply to Capt. Harlock)
Post #: 879
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/28/2013 8:35:15 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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quote:

As a matter of interest, what were the "politics" Meade was worried about? He must have been regarded as a solid commander to lead a Corps and be chosen to take charge of the Army of the Potomac.


Some surprisingly incompetent men were promoted to corps or even army command during the Civil War, especially on the Northern side. Benjamin Butler, IMHO the worst of the Union generals, got his assignments because of his connections in the Massachusetts political scene. John McClernand we have also seen, and Grant finally was able to get rid of him not because of poor performance but because he had demonstrably violated War Department regulations. There was also Daniel Sickles, whom we will hear of during Gettysburg, whose political connections were powerful enough to make people pass over the fact that he had shot and killed the son of Francis Scott Key. Sickles claimed that Key had had an affair with his wife, and received the first successful verdict of "temporary insanity" in American legal history.

As for Meade himself, he had criticized Joseph Hooker both during and after Chancellorsville, and Hooker had not taken kindly to it. Although born to American parents, Meade's place of birth was actually in Spain, making his loyalty suspect to some people (though there were no solid grounds for this).

_____________________________

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 nicwb)
Post #: 880
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/29/2013 4:07:22 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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End of June, 1863:

There were now no less than four campaigns underway, five if one counts the sieges of Vicksburg and Port Hudson as separate. In Mississippi, Joseph Johnston had manged to scrape together transport and supplies, and his relief army moved towards Grant and Sherman. In Arkansas, a Confederate force was on the move to capture the main Union supply base at Helena and force the Yankees to leave the state. In Tennessee, The Union Army of the Cumberland was now slowly but skillfully advancing, taking up positions which compelled the Confederate Army of Tennessee to fall back bit by bit for fear it would be flanked.

But the main event was Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania. Rebel troops spread out through the area, seizing food, clothes, horses, and on several occasions black men, women and children. (A conservative guess is that forty were sent south into slavery, but it is almost certain that many more were taken. Some were freed with aid from local Pennsylvanians, and some had to be released when the Confederate units had to march quickly.) The news of the Confederate invasion began to go across the Atlantic to England, where pro-Southern sympathies were still strong.

The one worry for Lee was that, with Stuart's cavalry missing, he had very little idea of where the Union army was. With his forces spread out over the Pennsylvania countryside, there was great risk of having them defeated piecemeal, as had come close to happening before Antietam. Word now reached Lee that the Army of the Potomac was marching north rapidly, and might be only a couple of days away. He acted promptly; orders went out to concentrate the Army of Northern Virginia near a place called Cashtown, near the southern edge of Pennsylvania.


Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com


Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 6/29/2013 4:11:22 AM >


_____________________________

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 #: 881
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/30/2013 5:50:34 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

Two brigades of Northern cavalry under John Buford re-occupied the town of Gettysburg. A few hours later, a Confederate brigade under James J. Pettigrew approached the town from Cashtown, eight miles (13 km) to the west. Pettigrew's divsion commander Henry Heth would later say that he had sent the Rebel troops to see if there was a supply of shoes in Gettysburg. Modern scholarship holds this to be unlikely, since the town had already been overrun. It seems more probable that Heth was using this as an excuse for sending out a brigade, rather than concentrating as were his orders.

Yanks and Rebels spotted each other, but Confederate commander Pettigrew decided not to engage. The Southerners retreated back to Cashtown, where Pettigrew reported to Heth, who was joined by Corps commander A. P. Hill. Both senior officers did not believe there were Federals that close, and suggested that Pettigrew had only seen militia. A. P. Hill decided to sent a stronger force in the morning to make sure.

Back at Gettysburg, several of the Union officers were of the opinion that the Rebels would not return, or if they did, they would be easily beaten off. John Buford differed, and told his subordinates, "You will have to fight like the devil until supports arrive."


_____________________________

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 #: 882
RE: Civil War 150th - 6/30/2013 1:20:06 PM   
nicwb

 

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quote:

There was also Daniel Sickles, whom we will hear of during Gettysburg, whose political connections were powerful enough to make people pass over the fact that he had shot and killed the son of Francis Scott Key. Sickles claimed that Key had had an affair with his wife, and received the first successful verdict of "temporary insanity" in American legal history.


I think the fact that he was "temporarily insane" would have been even more of a hurdle !

Thanks for the answer - I thought it may have been that Meade had some real political "skeletons in the closet". You're right about the "political generals" though. Mind you didn't Ben "the Beast" Butler end the war commanding the Army of the James ? I suspect his real strength was administrative.

Still when you compare him to some capable officers you wonder what was happening.

(in reply to Capt. Harlock)
Post #: 883
Annnd -- Here We Go - 7/1/2013 3:47:49 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

At Vicksburg, the siege was reaching its climax. The Federals set off another mine, blowing a redoubt into a good-sized crater. This time there was no attempt at occupying it, but it was one more step in clearing the way for a final attack:

By the 1st of July our approaches had reached the enemy's ditch at a number of places. At ten points we could move under cover to within from five to one hundred yards of the enemy. Orders were given to make all preparations for assault on the 6th of July. The debouches were ordered widened to afford easy egress, while the approaches were also to be widened to admit the troops to pass through four abreast. Plank, and bags filled with cotton packed in tightly, were ordered prepared, to enable the troops to cross the ditches.
--The Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant


To the east, Joseph Johnston's relief army had begun to move. He had on the order of 30,000 men, which he knew was not nearly enough to beat Grant's 70,000-strong force. But Johnston hoped to create enough of a diversion to allow the garrison of Vicksburg to fight their way out and escape. He wrote to Vicksburg commander John Pemberton that the diversionary attack would be made on the 7th.

However, by this time, the lines around Vicksburg were tight indeed, and the message would be too slow in reaching the starving city. On this date, seeing the Yankee preparations, Pemberton sent out a note to his sub-commanders:


"Unless the siege of Vicksburg is raised, or supplies are thrown in, it will become necessary very shortly to evacuate the place. I see no prospect of the former, and there are many great, if not insuperable obstacles in the way of the latter. You are, therefore, requested to inform me with as little delay as possible, as to the condition of your troops and their ability to make the marches and undergo the fatigues necessary to accomplish a successful evacuation."




At Gettysburg, the advancing Confederate troops found there were indeed Federals present. A Northern lieutenant named Marcellus E. Jones borrowed a carbine from one of his men and fired (without result) at a mounted Southerner -- and the greatest battle yet fought in either North or South America was on.

Although dismounted cavalry should not have been a match for seasoned infantry, the Union troopers had two things working in their favor. First, Buford was one of the most experienced, and possibly the best, of the Northern cavalry commanders at this point. Second, after over a year-and-a-half of delays, his men had finally been equipped with Spencer repeating carbines, giving them a major boost in firepower. The Confederate commander quickly saw that he would need more forces than he had. Although the orders had been to "avoid a general engagement" until the Southern army could be brought together, the Rebels were in no mood to retreat. Calls for reinforcements went back to Cashtown. Nor were the Yankees hesitant about sending urgent requests for more troops. The battle rapidly became a classic "meeting" engagement, drawing in everyone within marching distance.

As James Longstreet would later write, "As fast as the troops got into line they became severely engaged." Infantry and artillery were rushed to the battle, often being placed without thought of protection:


Well, this change of front gave us a clean rake along the Rebel line for a whole brigade length but it exposed our right flank to the raking volleys of their infantry near the pike who at that moment began to get up again and come on. Then for seven or eight minutes ensued probably the most desperate fight ever waged between artillery and infantry at close range without a particle of cover on either side. They gave us volley after volley in front and flank and we gave them double canister as fast as we could load. The 6th Wisconsin and 11th Pennsylvania men crawled up over the bank of the cut or behind the rail fence in rear of Stewart's caissons and joined their musketry to our canister, while from the north side of the cut flashed the chain lightning of the Old Man's half battery in one solid streak!
At this time our left half battery taking their first line en echarpe swept it so clean with double canister that the Rebels sagged away from the road to get cover from the fences and trees that lined it. From our second round on a gray squirrel could not have crossed the road alive.
-- Augustus C. Buell, "The Cannoneer: Recollections of service in the Army of the Potomac"


Among the early Union reinforcements was the famous Iron Brigade, which I Corps commander John Reynolds decided to lead himself. The decision cost him his life:

“The enemy still pushed on, and was now not much more than 60 paces from where the Gen’l was. Minie Balls were flying thick. The Gen’l turned to look towards the Seminary, (I suppose to see if the other troops were coming on,) as he did so, a Minie Ball Struck him in the back of the neck, and he fell from his horse dead. He never spoke a word, or moved, a muscle after he was struck. I have seen many men killed in action but never saw a ball do its work so instantly, as did the ball which struck General Reynolds..."
--Sergeant Charles A. Veil, Reynolds’ Staff


It was a serious loss, for Reynolds at that moment may have been the best field commander in the Army of the Potomac. But the Iron Brigade, soon joined by more troops from I Corps and Oliver Howard's XI Corps, continued to fight well, and the Confederates were held, for the moment.

But as fast as the Yankees arrived, the Rebels arrived even faster. Among the arrivals was Robert E. Lee himself. He had not wanted to bring on a full-scale battle until his army was fully concentrated, but now he saw the momentum building and ordered a full attack. Shortly after this, a Confederate assault form the north and yet another from the northeast finally collapsed the Union right.

Some of the Northern units scattered, but not all. Abner Doubleday became famous for being credited with inventing the game of baseball, which modern research suggests he actually did not do. However, he had been the second in command at Fort Sumter, and at this date he was commander of a division of infantry. He now rendered solid service to the North, retreating his troops in good order through the streets of the town, and finally getting them to the hills to the south. By that time I Corps had taken staggering casualties. (The losses were such that it never really recovered, and it would be disbanded in 1864.)

The Northerners spread out along the string of hills, which also contained the town cemetery. Exactly how well they were positioned that first evening is part of one of the great controversies of the battle. Lee took in the terrain and gave orders to A. P. Hill to seize the high ground of Cemetery Hill "if practicable". There is little doubt that in that situation, Stonewall Jackson would have attacked at once -- but whether he would have been successful is another question. Winfield Hancock, arguably now the best Corps commander in the Army of the Potomac, arrived on the scene with II Corps about this time and quickly laid out a defense line on the new high ground. After consulting with his subordinates, A. P. Hill "passed the buck" by sending a message to Lee that he needed support on his flank to attack. But the Confederate troops at that location that were not casualties were worn out. Back came the message that no support could be managed, whereupon Hill, with the support of his lieutenants, decided the attack was not "practicable".


General Lee ... had announced beforehand that he would not make aggressive battle in the enemy’s country. After the survey and in consideration of his plans,—noting movements of detachments of the enemy on the Emmitsburg road, the relative positions for manœuvre, the lofty perch of the enemy, the rocky slopes from it, all marking the position clearly defensive,—I said, “We could not call the enemy to position better suited to our plans. All that we have to do is to file around his left and secure good ground between him and his capital.” This, when said, was thought to be the opinion of my commander as much as my own. I was not a little surprised, therefore, at his impatience, as, striking the air with his closed hand, he said, “If he is there to-morrow I will attack him.”
-- James Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox: Memoirs of The Civil War in America


On the Union side, roughly 22,000 men had been engaged (about a quarter of the Army of the Potomac), against approximately 27,000 men on the Confederate side (about a third of Lee's army). Total Union casualties for the day were almost 9,000, while the Confederates had lost a little more than 6,000 men. Up until this point, the Gettysburg campaign had been a substantial victory for the Southerners. But, of course, this was only the beginning of the main event. For the Yankees would indeed be "there tomorrow". All through the night, more and more units of the Army of the Potomac arrived, including George Meade. At a quickly summoned war council, it was agreed that this was the place to fight.

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com




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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/2/2013 4:20:53 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

At Vicksburg, commander John Pemberton received bad news from his subordinates. Weeks on low rations had sapped the energy of the Confederate soldiers, and the slow but steady bombardment from both land-mounted siege guns and river warships had chipped away at morale. An attempt to evacuate Vicksburg meant a straight-on assault against Union fortifications which were by this time about as strong as the Southern ones -- in other words, hopeless for men in that condition. No messages had been received from Joseph Johnston, so no cooperation could be expected. It was time to surrender.



South of Gettysburg, dawn revealed the Northern army occupying the high ground, and the best of the Southern cavalry still missing. But as Robert E. Lee surveyed through his field glasses and received scouting reports, he guessed the Union position was not nearly as strong as it first appeared. Though most of the Army of the Potomac was now on the scene, they had not yet been placed in optimum positions. More, there had not been enough time, or light, to fully entrench. In more than one spot, there were fine opportunities for the Confederates to either turn the Northern flanks, or seize the high ground and gain the artillery superiority that had served them so well at Chancellorsville.

Perhaps the best opportunity of all was unwittingly given by III Corps commander Daniel Sickles, the man who had temporarily occupied the high ground at Chancellorsville. Here again, he spotted another piece of terrain which looked better to him than what he had been assigned, and advanced his forces to take it. This meant he was largely isolated from the rest of the Federal army, and the hills he had vacated were now almost undefended. But Sickles' change of position was almost as disruptive to the Confederate attack as to the Union defense. Lee had decided on a plan of hitting both flanks of the Northern army, hoping to effectively surround the Yankees and destroy the entire force. Now, the left flank was not where anyone had expected it to be, and it took some time to maneuver the Rebel troops under Longstreet into position for an assault.

In the meantime, "Jeb" Stuart finally rode in to Lee's headquarters around noon. The normally courteous Lee gave Stuart a cold reception, saying "I have not heard a word from you for days, and you the eyes and ears of my army." There is reason to believe that Lee was not well, possibly suffering from diarrhea. Certainly he did not do a good job of communicating his battle plan, issuing no written orders, and never bringing all three of his infantry corps commanders together at one time so that each could understand when and how the others would move. And it was all up to those three men, for Stuart's troopers were still too strung out and tired to play any real part in the day's fighting.

The hour of 4:00 p. m. arrived, and at last the Confederate assaults began against Daniel Sickles and III Corps:


...the long lines and the columns of the Rebel infantry, now
unmistakably moving out to the attack. The position of the Third Corps
becomes at once one of great peril, and it is probable that its
commander by this time began to realize his true situation. All was
astir now on our crest. Generals and their Staffs were galloping hither
and thither--the men were all in their places . . . new Rebel batteries
opened upon Sickles' right flank--his former front--and in the same
quarter appeared the Rebel infantry also. Now came the dreadful battle
picture, of which we for a time could be but spectators. Upon the front
and right flank of Sickles came sweeping the infantry of Longstreet and
Hill. Hitherto there had been skirmishing and artillery practice--now
the battle began; for amid the heavier smoke and larger tongues of flame
of the batteries, now began to appear the countless flashes, and the
long fiery sheets of the muskets, and the rattle of the volleys, mingled
with the thunder of the guns. We see the long gray lines come sweeping
down upon Sickles' front, and mix with the battle smoke...
-- Frank Haskell, "The Battle of Gettysburg"


Though outnumbered, Sickles' men strongly resisted being driven out of their position. Some of the fiercest fighting of the war now erupted, and the Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield, and the Devil's Den now joined spots like the Hornets' Nest and Bloody Lane as permanent names in American history.

In the meantime, a brigade of Confederates from Alabama had been ordered to seize Little Round Top, at the extreme left of the Union line. The Union 20th Maine, commanded by Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, had been posted there just ten minutes before, with orders to hold the ground at all costs. Though the Yankees had not been able to dig in, they poured a terrific fire from the heights of Little Round Top onto the Confederates:


I ordered my regiment to change direction to the left [to face toward the west], swing
around, and drive the Federals from the ledge, for the purpose of enfilading their line, relieving the
Forty-seventh Alabama -- gain the enemy’s rear, and drive him from the hill. My men obeyed and
advanced about halfway to the enemy’s position, but the fire was so destructive that my line
wavered like a man trying to walk against a strong wind, and then slowly, doggedly, gave back a little;
then with no one upon the left or right of me, my regiment exposed, while the enemy was still under
cover, to stand there and die was sheer folly...
-- Colonel William C. Oates, 15th Alabama, Law’s Brigade


Nonetheless, the Alabamans did not give up. They re-grouped, came on again, and yet again. After an hour and a half of ferocious combat, the Northerners had reached a breaking point:

Our ammunition is nearly all gone, and we are using the cartridges from the boxes of our wounded comrades. A critical moment has arrived, and we can remain as we are no longer; we must advance or retreat. It must not be the latter, but how can it be the former? Colonel Chamberlain understands how it can be done. The order is given "Fix bayonets!" and the steel shanks of the bayonets rattle upon the rifle barrels. "Charge bayonets, charge!" Every man understood in a moment that the movement was our only salvation, but there is a limit to human endurance, and I do not dishonor those brave men when I write that for a brief moment the order was not obeyed...
--Theodore Gerrish, 20th Maine Volunteers


According to Gerrish, a lieutenant went halfway between the two lines, yelling "come on!" He was followed by the color seargant, and then the rest of the regiment charged. Col. Chamberlain's report, however, did not mention any hesitation. The fact that they were charging downhill gave the Yankees momentum, but they got even more help from the sudden appearance of more Union men who fired into the flank of the Confederates. This was more than the tired Rebels could stand, and they retreated headlong. Little Round top was safe for the Union.

Back at the the Wheat field, the Northerners managed to feed some reinforcements to their beleaguered III Corps, but it was not enough. After two and a half hours, a fresh Mississippi regiment finally broke the Union defense. Sickles was hit in the right leg by a cannonball, (it would be amputated, but he survived) and the Federals finally retreated.

In front of the advancing Confederates was a gap on Cemetery Ridge. Union II Corps commander Winfield Hancock saw it, and knew that he could not bring up sufficient troops before the Rebels reached it. There was, however, the remnant of the 1st Minnesota regiment, 262 men strong. Hancock ordered the commander, Colonel William Colvill, to charge and buy time to bring up more units.


“Silently, without orders, and, almost from the start, double-quick had changed to utmost
speed, for in utmost speed lay the only hope that any of us would pass through that storm of lead
and strike the enemy. ‘Charge!’ shouted Colvill, as we neared their first line; and with leveled
bayonets, at full speed, we rushed upon it; fortunately, as it was slightly disordered in crossing a dry
brook at the foot of a slope. The men were never made who will stand against leveled bayonets
coming with such momentum and evident desperation. The first line broke in our front as we
reached it, and rushed back through the second line, stopping the whole advance. We then poured
on our first fire, and availing ourselves of such shelter as the low banks of the dry brook afforded,
held the entire force at bay for a considerable time.”
--Second Lieutenant William Lochren, 1st Minnesota


Of the 262 Minnesotans, only 47 came back, and the highest ranking surviving officer was a captain. (The casualty rate of 83% is probably the highest single-day loss of any U. S. unit not actually wiped out.) But they had gained a priceless half an hour, and the gap had been plugged by fresh Northern reinforcements.

With only about an hour of daylight left, the Confederates attacked the Union right wing at Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill. Whether or not Cemetery Hill could have been taken late in the day on July 1, a day later it stood firm, and the Rebels eventually had to fall back. On Culp's Hill, however, the assault made progress. The Southerners managed to capture the first line of Union entrenchments. But they got no further: the Yankees were very reluctant to admit defeat, and the fighting continued until well after nightfall. It was not until an hour before midnight that the combat finally wound down.



Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Shortly afterwards, Meade and his generals sat down to a council of war. In terms of casualties, the Confederates had the best of the day again, but the Union soldiers had held their position (with the minor exception of the first line at Culp's Hill). A stalemate favored the Northerners; they were in friendly territory with a supply line to Baltimore. It was decided to continue holding the high ground, and see what Lee would do. Meade turned to General Gibbon, the commander of the center of the Union line. "If Lee attacks tomorrow, it will be on your front." Asked to explain, Meade answered, "Because he has made attacks on both our flanks and failed, and if he concludes to try it again, it will be on our center."


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< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 7/2/2013 4:26:39 AM >

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/3/2013 4:09:56 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

At Vicksburg, the negotiations for surrender began. Around 10:00 A.M., white flags were displayed at a point in the Confederate lines, and two officers came over with a letter to U. S. Grant from John Pemberton. The Southern commander prposed a cease-fire and a meeting of commissioners to arrange terms. He added: "I make this proposition to save the further effusion of blood, which must otherwise be shed to a frightful extent, feeling myself fully able to maintain my position for a yet indefinite period."

For the moment, "Unconditional Surrender" Grant lived up to his nickname. Back went the reply:

"Your note of this date is just received, proposing an armistice for several hours, for the purpose of arranging terms of capitulation through commissioners, to be appointed, etc. The useless effusion of blood you propose stopping by this course can be ended at any time you may choose, by the unconditional surrender of the city and garrison. Men who have shown so much endurance and courage as those now in Vicksburg, will always challenge the respect of an adversary, and I can assure you will be treated with all the respect due to prisoners of war. I do not favor the proposition of appointing commissioners to arrange the terms of capitulation, because I have no terms other than those indicated."
--The Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant


Nonetheless, the two generals and their staffs met near an oak tree at 3:00 P.M. At first, Grant held out for unconditional surrender, which Pemberton refused. Two subordinate generals then got together, and it was agreed that Grant would send revised terms later.

When I returned to my headquarters I sent for all the corps and division commanders with the army immediately confronting Vicksburg. Half the army was from eight to twelve miles off, waiting for Johnston. I informed them of the contents of Pemberton's letters, of my reply and the substance of the interview, and that I was ready to hear any suggestion; but would hold the power of deciding entirely in my own hands. This was the nearest approach to a "council of war" I ever held.
--The Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant


He needn't have bothered, for he ended up ignoring the almost unanimous opinion of the other officers. By this time Grant had realized that the logistics required to send all the Confederate prisoners north would tie up his available transport for weeks. He therefore proposed to parole the entire Southern army, requiring them to turn over their arms. Grant believed that most of the Rebel soldiers would desert, having had enough of war. The new terms were sent to Pemberton.



At Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee was aware that he had come close to breaking the Union lines, though he was probably not aware just how close. Since the Northerners had had to reinforce their flanks, it stood to reason that the center would now be weakened. A break there would split the Army of the Potomac, and allow it to be defeated in detail. Combined with an assault on the Union right, Lee had a plan rather like a land version of Nelson's tactics at Trafalgar, and he hoped just as decisive. to make his victory doubly complete, Lee ordered the cavalry under "Jeb" Stuart, to ride around into the Union rear, which would siphon off troops from the Northern main line and possibly cut the path of retreat.


Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

But the Yankees were not standing entirely still. They wanted their entrenchments on Culp's Hill back, and at 4:30 a.m. their artillery opened up to prepare the way for their counter-attack. Before the infantry moved, however, the Confederates began their assault. It gained no ground, for the Rebels were outnumbered and outgunned. Even the famous Stonewall Brigade was thrown back with heavy losses. It took seven hours, but the Northerners regained the entrenchments they had lost the evening before.

"Jeb" Stuart's cavalry fared little better. His attack was blocked by a smaller force of Northern horsemen, but who were backed up by artillery. One Southern charge was met by an equally determined counter-charge commanded by the newly promoted youngest general in the army, a 23-year-old George Armstrong Custer. The Federal troopers again demonstrated they were now a match for their opponents, giving about as good as they got, and preventing any attack on the Union rear. Now it was all up to the attack in the center.

To command what would be the largest Confederate field bombardment of the war, Lee selected a colonel rather than the general who was technically in command of the artillery. However, the colonel was Edward Porter Alexander, the man who had achieved the superiority of the Southern guns at Chancellorsville, and Lee knew him for the best artillerist in the army. Over 150 guns were assembled, but it may have actually been too many. Colonel Alexander quickly realized that the smoke from all those cannon, plus the Federal guns firing in reply, would make it very difficult to see the effect of the bombardment:

In a few minutes report came from Alexander that he would only be able to judge of the effect of his fire by the return of that of the enemy, as his infantry was not exposed to view, and the smoke of the batteries would soon cover the field. He asked, if there was an alternative, that it be carefully considered before the batteries opened, as there was not enough artillery ammunition for this and another trial if this should not prove favorable.
-- James Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox: Memoirs of The Civil War in America


Longstreet did not believe the attack would be successful (and he would be proved right). But Lee was determined. He knew that the Northerners had taken even more losses than he had the first two days of battle, and he believed that one more push would break the Army of the Potomac. At 1:00 P.M., the guns opened:

The signal-guns broke the silence, the blaze of the second gun mingling in the smoke of the first, and salvoes rolled to the left and repeated themselves, the enemy’s fine metal spreading its fire to the converging lines, ploughing the trembling ground, plunging through the line of batteries, and clouding the heavy air. The two or three hundred guns seemed proud of their undivided honors and organized confusion. The Confederates had the benefit of converging fire into the enemy’s massed position, but the superior metal of the enemy neutralized the advantage of position.
-- James Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox: Memoirs of The Civil War in America


As happened on many occasions, the Rebel gunners tended to aim high. The bombardment did significant damage to the Union artillery, and many shells actually went clean over the crests of the hills and landed to the rear of the lines:

All in rear of the crest for a thousand yards, as well as among
the batteries, was the field of their blind fury. Ambulances, passing
down the Taneytown road with wounded men, were struck. The hospitals
near this road were riddled. The house which was General Meade's
headquarters was shot through several times, and a great many horses of
officers and orderlies were lying dead around it. Riderless horses,
galloping madly through the fields, were brought up, or down rather, by
these invisible horse-tamers, and they would not run any more…
The percussion shells would strike, and thunder, and
scatter the earth and their whistling fragments; the Whitworth bolts
would pound and ricochet, and bowl far away sputtering, with the sound
of a mass of hot iron plunged in water; and the great solid shot would
smite the unresisting ground with a sounding "thud”
[...]
An hour has droned its flight since first the war began. There
is no sign of weariness or abatement on either side. So long it seemed,
that the din and crashing around began to appear the normal condition
of nature there, and fighting man's element ... We went along the lines of the infantry as
they lay there flat upon the earth, a little to the front of the
batteries. They were suffering little, and were quiet and cool. How glad
we were that the enemy were no better gunners, and that they cut the
shell fuses too long. To the question asked the men, "What do you think
of this?" the replies would be, "O, this is bully," "We are getting to
like it," "O, we don't mind this." And so they lay under the heaviest
cannonade that ever shook the continent, and among them a thousand times
more jokes than heads were cracked.
--Frank Haskell, "The Battle of Gettysburg"


After nearly two hours, Colonel Alexander saw that several of his guns had been destroyed by the Union counter-fire, and the rest were running low on ammunition. He decided it was now or never:

General Pickett rode to confer with Alexander, then to the ground upon which I was resting, where he was soon handed a slip of paper. After reading it he handed it to me. It read:
“If you are coming at all, come at once, or I cannot give you proper support, but the enemy’s fire has not slackened at all. At least eighteen guns are still firing from the cemetery itself."
“Alexander.”

Pickett said, “General, shall I advance?” The effort to speak the order failed, and I could only indicate it by an affirmative bow. He accepted the duty with seeming confidence of success, leaped on his horse, and rode gayly to his command.
-- James Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox: Memoirs of The Civil War in America


Both sides agreed that the spectacle of the over 12,000 advancing Confederates was nothing less than magnificent:

None on that crest now need be told that "the enemy is
advancing". Every eye could see his legions, an overwhelming resistless
tide of an ocean of armed men sweeping upon us! Regiment after regiment
and brigade after brigade move from the woods and rapidly take their
places in the lines forming the assault. Pickett's proud division, with
some additional troops, hold their right; Pettigrew's (Worth's) their
left. The first line at short interval is followed by a second, and that
a third succeeds; and columns between support the lines. More than half
a mile their front extends; more than a thousand yards the dull gray
masses deploy, man touching man, rank pressing rank, and line supporting
line. The red flags wave, their horsemen gallop up and down; the arms of
eighteen thousand men, barrel and bayonet, gleam in the sun, a sloping
forest of flashing steel. Right on they move, as with one soul, in
perfect order, without impediment of ditch, or wall or stream, over
ridge and slope, through orchard and meadow, and cornfield, magnificent,
grim, irresistible. All was orderly and still upon our crest; no noise
and no confusion. The men had little need of commands, for the survivors
of a dozen battles knew well enough what this array in front portended,
and, already in their places, they would be prepared to act when the
right time should come. The click of the locks as each man raised the
hammer to feel with his fingers that the cap was on the nipple; the
sharp jar as a musket touched a stone upon the wall when thrust in
aiming over it, and the clicking of the iron axles as the guns were
rolled up by hand a little further to the front, were quite all the
sounds that could be heard.
--Frank Haskell, "The Battle of Gettysburg"


Then the Federal artillery opened with redoubled fury. A little further, and the nearly untouched Union infantry added their fire, some units even coming down off the hills to enfilade the Southerners:


“A sound filling the air above, below, and around us, like…the whirring sound made by the sudden flight of a flock of quail. It was grape and canister, and the column broke forward into a double quick and rushed toward the stone wall where forty cannon were belching forth grape and canister twice and thrice a minute. A hundred yards from the stone wall the flanking party on the right, coming down on a heavy run, halted suddenly within fifty yards and poured a deadly storm of musket balls into Pickett’s men, double-quicking across their front, and, under this terrible cross fire the men reeled and staggered between falling comrades and the right came pressing down upon the centre, crowding the companies in confusion. But all knew the purpose to carry the heights in front, and the mingled mass from fifteen to thirty deep, rushed toward the stone wall…. Muskets were seen crossed as some fired to the right, and others to the front and the fighting was terrific--far beyond all other experience even of Pickett’s men ... On swept the column over ground covered with thedead and dying men, where the earth seemed to be on fire, the smoke dense and suffocating, the sunshut out, flames blazing on every side, friend could hardly be distinguished from foe, but the division…pushed forward, fighting, falling and melting away, till half way up the hill they were met by a powerful body of fresh troops charging down upon them…”
--Captain Henry T. Owen, 18th Virginia, Pickett’s Division


Under both frontal and flanking fire, the Confederates took terrible casualties. Most of the units faltered. But at one place, the "Angle", they broke the Northern line, if only for a few moments:

--great heaven! Were my senses mad? The larger portion of Webb's brigade -- my God, it was true -- there by the group of trees and the angles of the wall, was breaking from the cover of their works, and, without orders or reason, with no hand lifted to check them, was falling back, a fear-stricken flock of confusion! The fate of Gettysburg hung on a spider's single thread!
A great magnificent passion came upon me at the instant, not one that overpowers and counfounds, but one that blanches the face and sublimes every sense and faculty. My sword, that had always hung idle by my side, the sign of rank only in every battle, I drew, bright and gleaming, the symbol of command. Was that not a fit occasion, and these fugitives the men on whom to try the temper of the Solinzen steel? All rules and proprieties, were forgotten; all considerations of person, and danger and safety despised; for, as I met the tide of these rabbits, the damned red flags of the rebellion began to thicken and flaunt along the wall they had just deserted, and one was already waving over the guns of the dead Cushing. I ordered these men to "halt," and "face about" and "fire," and they heard my voice and gathered my meaning, and obeyed my commands. On some unpatriotic backs of those not quick of comprehension, the flat of my saber fell not lightly, and at its touch their love of country returned...
--Frank Haskell, "The Battle of Gettysburg"


In addition to the men beaten back into line, Northern reinforcements were rushed to the spot. The 72nd Pennsylvania delivered a volley from a distance, but refused to charge. Other regiments were more eager; the colonel of the 19th Massachusetts said to II Corps commander Winfield Hancock, "The colors are coming over the stone wall; let me go in there!" Hancock replied, "Go in there pretty God-damned quick!" And the breach was sealed:

General Armistead, of the second line, spread his steps to supply the places of fallen comrades. His colors cut down, with a volley against the bristling line of bayonets, he put his cap on his sword to guide the storm. The enemy’s massing, enveloping numbers held the struggle until the noble Armistead fell beside the wheels of the enemy’s battery. Pettigrew was wounded, but held his command. General Pickett, finding the battle broken, while the enemy was still reinforcing, called the troops off. There was no indication of panic. The broken files marched back in steady step. The effort was nobly made, and failed from blows that could not be fended. Some of the files were cut off from retreat by fire that swept the field in their rear. Officers of my staff, sent forward with orders, came back with their saddles and bridles in their arms. Latrobe’s horse was twice shot. Looking confidently for advance of the enemy through our open field, I rode to the line of batteries, resolved to hold it until the last gun was lost. As I rode, the shells screaming over my head and ploughing the ground under my horse, an involuntary appeal went up that one of them might take me from scenes of such awful responsibility...
-- James Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox: Memoirs of The Civil War in America



To Lee's credit, he immediately took responsibility for the disaster. Everyone thought that there would now be a Union counter-attack, and Lee rode out among the survivors staggering back, telling them that it had been his fault and not theirs, and encouraging them to re-group. Remarkably, they did. But the only Northern move was a small cavalry attack under Kilpatrick, which lost more casualties than it inflicted. George Meade had little taste for sending his infantry across ground covered by masses of cannon -- he was not aware that the Southerners were now very low on artillery ammunition. The Battle of Gettysburg was effectively over.

The butcher's bill was not on the level with such historical bloodbaths as Cannae or the Somme, but by American standards it was immense. Estimated losses are Union: 3,155 killed, 14,531 wounded, 5,369 captured or missing for a total of 23,055, Confederate: 4,708 killed, 12,693 wounded, 5,830 captured or missing for a total of 23,231. (The Confederate estimate is almost certainly low.) In other words, the Union army had lost about a quarter of its effective strength, and the Confederate army had lost a full third.




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< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 7/3/2013 4:15:07 AM >

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/4/2013 3:30:57 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

It was to be an Independence Day like no other. But the day began somberly in Washington. The news of the tremendous battle in Pennsylvania had preoccupied the whole city, but the telegraphs to the Gettysburg area were not very efficient. The news of the Union victory would not reach the capital until late in the morning.

At Helena, Arkansas, the Confederates made their attack with 7,600 infantry and cavalry. The defending Northerners had just 4,100 men, but they also had good artillery and a nearby gunboat. At first, the Rebel assault went well, and a Union redoubt with several cannon was captured. The Southerners attempted to turn the guns onto their foes, but soon discovered that the Federals had just had time to sabotage the cannon before being overrun.

More, the Confederates found out they were in a place exposed to the remaining Union guns, who knew the range. As if this weren't bad enough, the gunboat USS Tyler steamed into a good firing position, and began lobbing large-caliber shells. Soon the Southerners had had enough, and general retreat was ordered. Casualties were 57 killed,146 wounded, 36 missing for the Union, and 169 killed, 659 wounded, 786 missing for the Confederacy. The ability of the Rebels to take the offensive in Arkansas was, for the time being, at an end. And as matters turned out, it was too late to help the garrison at Vicksburg.


In Southern Tennessee, Confederate commander Braxton Bragg had decided that every position north of the Tennessee River was untenable because of Union Commander William Rosecrans' flanking moves. Without consulting his subordinates, he had ordered a retreat all the way back to Chattanooga, just a few miles north of the Georgia border. On this date, the Southern Army of Tennessee crossed the river into the city, ending possibly the most brilliant and least bloody campaign of the war. Western and Middle Tennessee were now firmly in Union hands.


At Gettysburg, the two armies were quiet. Robert E. Lee knew well that his army needed rest and reinforcements before any further offensive action, and where he was he could get the first but not the second. George Meade again waited to see what Lee would do, knowing that the Southerners had dug in to defensive positions, and believing that he could best attack when Lee's force began to move.

In the meantime, both sides had the appalling job of burying around 8,000 dead soldiers, burning the bodies of at least 3,000 dead horses, and caring for over 27,000 wounded. For miles around, nearly every building which had space was turned into a makeshift hospital. By the evening, Lee knew that he would have to retreat, and he would have to leave his most severely wounded behind to be cared for by Northern hands. But his foraging parties had collected hundreds of wagons, enough to carry the food and other supplies the invasion of Pennsylvania had captured, and to carry the wounded who could be moved, but who could not walk on their own. As darkness fell, the long retreat began.


At Vicksburg, just after midnight, Grant received the reply to his offer of parole. Pemberton requested that his men be allowed to march out of the city and stack their arms, and also for Grant to pledge that the property of private citizens would be respected. Grant did not want any of the Vicksburg garrison running off to join Johnston's relief army. He also declined to limit himself as to the seizure of property (both sides had pulled down houses when they needed wood during the siege). He did, however, allow the Confederates the dignity of marching out and stacking their arms and colors, as long as they marched back into Vicksburg to be counted for parole. Pemberton agreed, and the surrender was set for 10:00 A.M.

At the appointed hour the garrison of Vicksburg marched out of their works and formed line in front, stacked arms and marched back in good order. Our whole army present witnessed this scene without cheering. Logan's division, which had approached nearest the rebel works, was the first to march in . . . Our soldiers were no sooner inside the lines than the two armies began to fraternize. Our men had had full rations from the time the siege commenced, to the close. The enemy had been suffering, particularly towards the last. I myself saw our men taking bread from their haversacks and giving it to the enemy they had so recently been engaged in starving out. It was accepted with avidity and thanks.
--The Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant


Evidence of how valuable Vicksburg, and the supply route it had guarded, was to the Confederacy was quickly found. It was discovered, for one of the few times in the entire war, that the Southerners had actually been better equipped than the Northerners:

At Vicksburg 31,600 prisoners were surrendered, together with 172 cannon about 60,000 muskets and a large amount of ammunition. The small-arms of the enemy were far superior to the bulk of ours. Up to this time our troops at the West had been limited to the old United States flint-lock muskets changed into percussion, or the Belgian musket imported early in the war--almost as dangerous to the person firing it as to the one aimed at--and a few new and improved arms. These were of many different calibers, a fact that caused much trouble in distributing ammunition during an engagement. The enemy had generally new arms which had run the blockade and were of uniform caliber. After the surrender I authorized all colonels whose regiments were armed with inferior muskets, to place them in the stack of captured arms and replace them with the latter.
-- The Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant



"Losing at Gettysburg, the Confederates had lost more than they could well afford to lose; at Vicksburg, they lost what they could not afford at all."
-- Historian Bruce Catton

Interestingly, the U.S. Navy had developed an efficient telegraph system for its fleet on the Mississippi River. The news of the fall of Vicksburg first reached the Navy Department in Washington. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles brought the glad tidings to Lincoln, but found the President excitedly discussing Gettysburg with other Cabinet members. Rather than raise his voice, the elderly Welles indicated that he had good news by throwing his hat in the air when he entered the room.

It was a gesture that a number of Washingtonians probably imitated. By nightfall, the city was celebrating an exuberant Fourth of July as none had been celebrated since the American Revolution.

_____________________________

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 #: 887
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/6/2013 6:25:38 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

Charleston was considered the cradle of secession, and of course the location of Fort Sumter. The prestige, and its value as a harbor for blockade runners, made the Lincoln administration very anxious to capture the city, or at least to shut down the port. But the Confederates had repaired Fort Sumter, and the other batteries they had emplaced around the fort were very effective at keeping the Union Navy out. On this date, Samuel DuPont was relieved of command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, having achieved nothing in particular with his naval bombardments of the Rebel fortifications. The plan had been to replace DuPont with Rear Admiral Andrew Foote, but Foote had died unexpectedly. The Navy's next choice was John Dahlgren, head of the Ordnance Department and inventor of the Dahlgren Cannon. Now he would be facing some of his own brainchildren, for the Southerners had captured several and set them up in their shore batteries. Dahlgren would decide a combined Army-Navy operation would be required.


The abolitionists were aware that if and when slavery was eradicated, there would still be the great question of what status the freed blacks would have. Would they be allowed to vote, or serve on juries, or hold political office? On this date, Frederick Douglass gave a speech at the National Hall in Philadelphia urging more blacks to join the Union army, pointing out:

"Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States."

No one could say that Douglass did not practice what he preached. His eldest son had joined a "colored" regiment, the 54th Massachusetts -- which was headed to the Charleston area.

_____________________________

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 #: 888
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/7/2013 6:35:48 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

Jackson, July 7, 1863,

To Hon. J. A. Seddon, Secretary of War :

Vicksburg capitulated on the 4th instant. Garrison was paroled,
and are to be returned to our lines; the officers retaining their side
arms and personal baggage. This intelligence was brought by an
officer who left the place on Sunday the 5th. In consequence, I am
falling back from the Big Black river to Jackson.

(Signed,) J. E. JOHNSTON, General.


Johnston was wise: After the fall of Vicksburg, U. S. Grant's army of over 70,000 veteran soldiers was now available for further campaigns. Grant had given Sherman the majority of his force and told him to go after Johnston's army and "drive him from the state". The one advantage that Johnston had was the weather: Mississippi in early July was very hot, and the Yankees had to make sure there was water available as they advanced.


In Pennsylvania and Maryland, George Meade's Army of the Potomac was likewise pursuing Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. President Lincoln had made clear that he wanted the Rebels not just driven back south, but destroyed. However, Meade was not the aggressive general that Sherman, and he had the opposite problem as Sherman: heavy rains had fallen since the battle of Gettysburg, and the roads were very muddy. The Northern cavalry made contact with the Confederates, but Lee was conducting a well-organized retreat and had groups of infantry and artillery covering his rear. He needed them, for the train of wagons bringing supplies and wounded back to Virginia stretched roughly thirty miles.

On this date, the front of the Southern army reached the Potomac River. Now Lee had a problem with the rains as well, for the river was running too high for the fords to be used. He ordered the construction of a pontoon bridge, and meanwhile the army had to put up fortifications in case the Northerners caught up to them. The Confederates went to work with a will, though nearby houses and barns had to be dismantled to provide wood for the bridge. This would take a couple of days. In the meantime, earthworks were thrown up so rapidly and so well that by nightfall some of the men were hoping that the Yankees would attack.

_____________________________

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 #: 889
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/8/2013 4:42:28 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

Mary Boykin Chesnut, probably the Confederacy's most famous diarist, recorded her reaction to the fall of Vicksburg:

PORTLAND, Ala., July 8, 1863. - My mother ill at her home on the plantation near here - where I have come to see her. But to go back first to my trip home from Flat Rock to Camden. At the station, I saw men sitting on a row of coffins smoking, talking, and laughing, with their feet drawn up tailor-fashion to keep them out of the wet. Thus does war harden people's hearts.
[...]
Near me on the train to Alabama sat a young woman in a traveling dress of bright yellow; she wore a profusion of curls, had pink cheeks, was delightfully airy and easy in her manner, and was absorbed in a flirtation with a Confederate major, who, in spite of his nice, new gray uniform and two stars, had a very Yankee face, fresh, clean-cut, sharp, utterly unsunburned, florid, wholesome, handsome. What more in compliment can one say of one's enemies? Two other women faced this man and woman, and we knew them to be newcomers by their good clothes. . .
        The handsomest of the three women had a hard, Northern face, but all were in splendid array as to feathers, flowers, lace, and jewelry. If they were spies why were they so foolish as to brag of New York, and compare us unfavorably with the other side all the time, and in loud, shrill accents? Surely that was not the way to pass unnoticed in the Confederacy.
        A man came in, stood up, and read from a paper, "The surrender of Vicksburg." I felt as if I had been struck a hard blow on the top of my head, and my heart took one of its queer turns. I was utterly unconscious: not long, I dare say. The first thing I heard was exclamations of joy and exultation from the overdressed party. My rage and humiliation were great.
-- Mary Boykin Chesnut, A Diary From Dixie




At the south bank of the Ohio River, Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan and 1,800 cavalrymen had captured two river steamers. Now, Morgan made the decision to cross the river into Indiana, which was in violation of explicit orders from General Braxton Bragg. The Southern troopers landed near Mauckport, Indiana, and drove off a company of Indiana home guards.





Attachment (1)

_____________________________

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 #: 890
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/9/2013 1:20:25 AM   
Field2sdsf

 

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I am a northerner who happens to live in the South.

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Post #: 891
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/9/2013 5:21:50 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

One of the war's greater examples of grasping at straws occured. A rumor had reached the Davis administration in Richmond that a Confederate force west of the Mississippi under General Richard Taylor had relieved the siege of Port Hudson:

Richmond, July 9, 1863.
To General J. E. Johnston, Jackson, Mississippi :

If it be true that General Taylor has joined General Gardner and
routed Banks, you will endeavor to draw heavy reinforcements from
that army, and delay a general engagement, until your junction is
effected. Thus, it is to be hoped, the enemy may yet be crushed and
the late disaster be repaired.

Send by telegraph a list of the general and staff officers who have
come out on parole from Vicksburg, so that they may be exchanged
immediately. As soon as practicable, let the lists of regiments and
other organizations be forwarded, for same purpose. General Rains
should now fully apply his invention.

(Signed,) JEFFERSON DAVIS


In fact, General Franklin Gardner surrendered Port Hudson and his remaining garrison of about 6,500 men on this very day. After the fall of Vicksburg, he believed that holding out further was pointless, and supplies of food and ammunition were almost exhausted. Union commander Nathaniel Banks gave parole to about 5,900 men, but about 400 officers were sent as prisoners to Memphis or new Orleans. (The remainder were too sick to move.)

The siege had been especially costly for the Northerners: in addition to about 5,000 battle casualties, about 4,000 men had fallen victim to disease or sunstroke. But now the North had free navigation of the entire Mississippi River. The Confederacy had been split, with Texas, Arkansas, western Louisiana, and the Indian territory allied with the South being effectively cut off. That large area was now, for all practical purposes, governed by department commander General Edmund Kirby Smith instead of Jefferson Davis. Some even began to refer to it as "Kirby Smithdom".

Joseph Johnston lost no time in undeceiving President Davis:

Jackson, July 9, 1863.

To his Excellency, the President :

The enemy is advancing in two columns on Jackson, now about four
miles distant. I shall endeavor to hold the place as the possession of
Mississippi depends on it. His force is about double ours.

(Signed,) J. E. JOHNSTON, General.


_____________________________

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 Field2sdsf)
Post #: 892
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/10/2013 5:01:19 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

In Mississippi, Sherman's force was encountering difficulties, but arrived at Jackson:

...the weather fearfully hot, and water scarce. Johnston had marched rapidly, and in retreating had caused cattle, hogs, and sheep, to be driven into the ponds of water, and there shot down; so that we had to haul their dead and stinking carcasses out to use the water.
On the l0th of July we had driven the rebel army into Jackson, where it turned at bay behind the intrenchments, which had been enlarged and strengthened since our former visit in May.
--Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman



Johnston was not simply trying to inconvenience the Yankees. He hoped that the shortage of water would force Sherman to order an immediate assault, which had a good chance of failing. But Sherman had seen the result of attacking earthworks at Vicksburg, and his men somehow managed to find enough water to sustain the army. The Northerners began to surround the town for a siege.


Near the entrance to Charleston harbor was Morris Island, which had a powerful battery of Southern guns on its northern side. On this date, a Union amphibious operation led by Admiral John Dahlgren and General Quincy Gillmore landed on the southern edge of the island. Advancing quickly from their beachhead, they hoped to be able to overrun the Rebel battery the next day. Among the troops landed was the 54th Massachusetts.

_____________________________

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 #: 893
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/11/2013 5:21:15 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

John Hunt Morgan and his cavalry raiders hit a stumbling block in Indiana. They had been routing the militia that had attempted to stop them at various towns. But on this date, one of the Confederate captains and several of his men were captured by regular Union troops while scouting a ford in the Blue River. Indiana Governor Oliver Morton was getting a better defense together than Morgan and his men had anticipated.


On Morris Island outside of Charleston harbor, a Union brigade attacked Fort Wagner. (It is often referred to as "Battery Wagner", but by this time the Confederates had built solid fortifications on all sides.) It was not enough: fort commander Colonel Robert Graham had pulled together a garrison of 1,770 men. With cannons and musketry, the Rebels took a heavy toll of the assaulting troops. One Northern regiment, the 7th Connecticut, managed to reach the ramparts but were thrown back. Union casualties were 339 (49 killed, 123 wounded, 167 missing), Confederate only 12. A larger and better planned attempt was in order.




Attachment (1)

_____________________________

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 #: 894
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/12/2013 8:20:03 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

George Meade's Army of the Potomac had finally gotten into position to attack Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Meade wired to General-in-chief Henry Halleck, "It is my intention to attack them tomorrow unless something intervenes to prevent it." He then summoned a council of war with his seven Corps commanders.

But five of the seven voted against an attack. The situation was now almost reversed from Gettysburg: this time it was the Southerners who had a good defensive line, laid out in an arc so they could quickly send reinforcements using interior routes rather than having to march around the periphery of a circle. The Union soldiers had been marching or fighting for almost two weeks, through broiling July sun or heavy rain. Most of all, the Confederates had taken good advantage of the five days' halt while building bridges and waiting for the river to subside, and put up formidable fortifications.

Disobey Washington's orders to attack, or risk having his men slaughtered? Meade truly faced a dilemma.



Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Attachment (1)

_____________________________

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 #: 895
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/13/2013 4:26:09 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

In Maryland, it was now or never for both Meade and Lee. George Meade decided "never", and canceled his attack on the Rebel fortifications. Robert E. Lee decided "now", for he had already sent a number of wagons across the hastily constructed bridges towards Virginia. The rain picked up again, and the river began to rise, making it too risky to send both troops and wagons on the bridge. The men had to wade across at the fords, which were over waist-deep. Some of the shorter men were up to their armpits, and had to hang on to taller comrades to avoid being swept away. But the evacuation continued, with the rain helping to mask the retreat from the Northerners. It was not until nightfall that reports started to reach the Union headquarters, and a detachment of cavalry was ordered to investigate the next day.


In New York City, the second drawing for the draft was held. The first drawing two days before had gone smoothly enough, but things would be very different this time. A mob of about 500 people attacked the Provost Marshal's Office where the drawing was taking place. First, paving stones were pulled up from the streets and thrown through the windows. Then the doors were broken down and the building set on fire. When the fire department responded, the fire engines were demolished and the horses killed. Police superintendent John A. Kennedy arrived on the scene, was recognized, and beaten nearly into a coma.



Matters only got worse from there. The militia had been sent out of the city to Pennsylvania to try to deal with the Confederate invasion, and the police now found themselves badly outnumbered. (The drawing from "Harper's" showed one area in where the police were successful, but it was not what most often happened.) The rioting then became a horrific pogrom against the city's blacks, and anyone thought to support them. Many blacks were killed, and some even hanged or burned.



The offices of the New York Times came under attack, but were repelled by the managers and staff. The defenders had an extraordinary advantage: privately purchased Gatling guns. This was more than the Union Army had, for the gun would not be officially accepted until 1866. Among the defenders was "The King of Wall Street", Leonard Jerome, who is believed to have been the power behind the throne determining the editorial slant of the Times. His daughter Jeanette would go on to marry an English aristocrat, and would name her first-born son Winston Spencer Churchill.

The Colored Orphan Asylum housing 233 children was attacked in the late afternoon. By this time the mob had grown to several thousand, including women and children. The building was looted for its food and other items, which fortunately gave the orphans time to escape before it was burned to the ground. With nightfall came rain, which temporarily dispersed the rioters and helped control the many fires which had been set. But the death toll is believed to already have reached 100 -- and it wasn't over.


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< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 7/13/2013 5:23:22 PM >

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RE: Civil War 150th - 7/14/2013 7:33:57 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

At the Potomac River in Maryland, the Union cavalry rode in to where the outposts of the Confederate army where supposed to be. They found nothing for a considerable distance, for the evacuation was nearly complete. The abysmal state of the roads was no help to the Yankees; their horses occasionally sank up to their knees and the troopers had to make their way carefully. After several hours, they finally encountered the Rebel rearguard. A spirited fight developed, with the Northerners taking 1,500 prisoners and mortally wounding General James Pettigrew, one of the three generals who had led Pickett's Charge.

But they were forced to report that the great bulk of the Rebel army had gotten away. This led to an angry exchange of telegrams between General Meade and General-in-Chief Halleck back in Washington, at the end of which Meade offered his resignation. That evening, President Lincoln wrote a letter attempting to soothe Meade's feelings, but could not suppress his disappointment:

Executive Mansion
Washington, July 14

Major General Meade,

I have just seen your dispatch to Gen. Halleck, asking to be relieved of your command, because of a supposed censure of mine. I am very–very–grateful to you for the magnificent success you gave the cause of the country at Gettysburg; and I am sorry now to be the author of the slightest pain to you. But I was in such deep distress myself that I could not restrain some expression of it ... You fought and beat the enemy at Gettysburg; and, of course, to say the least, his loss was as great as yours ... You had at least twenty thousand veteran troops directly with you, and as many more raw ones within supporting distance, all in addition to those who fought with you at Gettysburg; while it was not possible that he had received a single recruit; and yet you stood and let the flood run down, bridges be built, and the enemy move away at his leisure, without attacking him.
[...]
Again, my dear general, I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely.


After reading over his missive, Lincoln realized it would do more harm than good. He put it in a desk drawer, unsigned, and there it would remain.


In New York City, the rioters came back into the streets with the sunrise. This time the police were a little better prepared, and though they were still outnumbered, they found that a group of fifty police officers swinging their truncheons in unison could make headway against the mob. The Governor of New York also appeared, and made a speech denouncing the Conscription Act as unconstitutional. The rioting was was prevented from spreading, but not stopped, and the killing, looting, and arson continued. In the meantime, army regiments were being hastened back to the city.

_____________________________

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 #: 897
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/14/2013 8:01:48 PM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

In New York City, the rioters came back with the sunrise. This time, the police were a little better prepared, though still outnumbered. They discovered that fifty officers, swinging their truncheons in unison, could hold back a mob that was confined to the width of the city streets. New York state Governor Horatio Seymour gave a speech at City Hall, denouncing the Conscription Act as unconstitutional. These measures prevented the rioting from spreading, but did not stop it, and the killing, looting, and arson continued.


In southern Maryland, the Union cavalry rode in to where the outposts of the Confederate army were supposed to be. For a surprisingly long time, they found nothing. The Rebel evacuation had proceeded through the night, and was nearly complete. Matters were not helped for the Yankees by the wretched condition of the roads, into which their horses would occasionally sink up to their knees. Progress had to be slow and careful.

It was just an hour before noon when the Northern troopers finally caught up to the Confederate rearguard. A spirited fight broke out, with the Yankees eventually capturing some 1,500 prisoners and mortally wounding General James Pettigrew, one of the three division commanders who had led Pickett's Charge. But the Federals had to report that Robert E. Lee and the bulk of his Army of Northern Virginia had gotten away across the Potomac River. Lee had thoughtfully ordered the pontoon bridge to be cut loose behind them, so pursuit was not a realistic option.

This led to an angry exchange of telegrams between General George Meade and General-in-Chief Halleck back in Washington. At the end, the incensed Meade offered his resignation. That evening, President Lincoln wrote a letter attempting to soothe Meade, but he could not suppress his own disappointment:

Executive Mansion
Washington, July 14

Major General Meade,

I have just seen your dispatch to Gen. Halleck, asking to be relieved of your command, because of a supposed censure of mine. I am very–very–grateful to you for the magnificent success you gave the cause of the country at Gettysburg; and I am sorry now to be the author of the slightest pain to you. But I was in such deep distress myself that I could not restrain some expression of it ... You fought and beat the enemy at Gettysburg; and, of course, to say the least, his loss was as great as yours. He retreated; and you did not, as it seemed to me, pressingly pursue him; but a flood in the river detained him, till, by slow degrees, you were again upon him. You had at least twenty thousand veteran troops directly with you, and as many more raw ones within supporting distance, all in addition to those who fought with you at Gettysburg; while it was not possible that he had received a single recruit; and yet you stood and let the flood run down, bridges be built, and the enemy move away at his leisure, without attacking him.
[...]
Again, my dear general, I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely.


After re-reading his missive, Lincoln realized it would do more harm than good. He put it in a desk drawer, unsigned, and there it would remain.

_____________________________

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 #: 898
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/16/2013 5:05:21 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

In Jackson, Mississippi, Joseph Johnston realized time was running out. Union shells were already dropping into the city (Sherman would write in his memoirs of "using our artillery pretty freely"), and the news came that the Yankees had received a wagon train of additional ammunition. There were no caves as there had been at Vicksburg to take cover in. Johnston ordered his army to evacuate, and after sundown, they moved out.


By this date, there were several thousand Federal troops in New York City, including some artillery. An announcement had been made that the draft would be suspended. Order was restored toward the evening, though not without a final confrontation at Gramercy Park, and it is estimated that a dozen people lost their lives on this last day of the riots.

It is certain that this was the worst episode of rioting in American history, but no one knows by exactly how much. A number of buildings burned to the ground, destroying the bodies inside, and many blacks fled the city for their lives without leaving any notice. Estimates of the total death toll range from 120 to 1,200. (The second worst rioting was the "Rodney King Riots" of 1992, which caused 53 deaths. Your humble correspondent was present, though in one of the safer areas of Los Angeles.)

< Message edited by Capt. Harlock -- 7/16/2013 8:09:36 PM >

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Post #: 899
RE: Civil War 150th - 7/17/2013 5:01:52 AM   
Capt. Harlock


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150 Years Ago Today:

At Jackson, Mississippi, the Union army awoke to find the Confederates gone. Sherman sent a division in pursuit, but this was now in unfamiliar territory, that they had not traversed during the march on Vicksburg. The weather was, in Sherman's words, "fearfully hot", and the Yankees did not know where to get water. The pursuit was called off when it became clear that Johnston's Southerners had too much of a head start.


One of the more unusual battles of the Civil War was fought at a place called Honey Springs, now in Oklahoma, but at the time in Indian territory. Fort Gibson had become a thorn in the Confederate side, since it offered shelter to the Cherokee and other native Americans abandoning the Southern cause. The Confederates determined to re-take the fort, and amassed a stock of supplies at Honey Springs, a day's march away. They also collected a force of from 3,000 to 6,000 men (estimates vary) consisting partly of Texans and partly of Cherokee, Choctaw, and Creek. However, this was not considered to be quite enough, since nearly a quarter did not have working firearms, and their artillery consisted of exactly four pieces. Another 3,000 men were sent to reinforce the small army.

Inside Fort Gibson, command had passed to General James Blunt, an aggressive anti-slavery man who had been fighting even before the Civil War began, in the struggles over Kansas Territory. Blunt received word of the reinforcements, and decided to attack before the Southerners could combine their forces. Blunt's 3,000 men were an even more mixed group than the Rebels: Indian Home Guard, Colorado Infantry, Kansas Artillery, Wisconsin Cavalry, and the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, quite possibly the most multi-ethnic force the U. S. Army would field until World War II.

Early in the day, the Union force had marched to within half a mile of the Confederate lines around the Honey Springs depot, when a rain shower came through. The Northerners were not discouraged; they stopped to eat and replenish their canteens, which they knew would be needed. The rain was even better for them than they knew, for many of the Rebels did not have cartridge boxes, and their gunpowder got wet.

The battle began with an artillery duel, each side losing one gun, but leaving the Southerners with only three pieces to the Union eleven. General Blunt ordered the Kansas Colored troops to advance. A classic Napoleonic fight ensued, with each side standing in position, delivering volley fire. Then, somehow, a group of Union Indian Home Guard got in between the two lines. Northern officers hastily ordered the Indians to retreat, but the Southerners overheard and believed the entire Yankee force was about to fall back. The Rebels charged, to be met with disciplined and lethal fire from the black infantry, who had dry powder and rifled muskets. The Confederate colors were shot down, raised and shot down again, and finally captured by the Indians remaining on the field.

The Southern General ordered his men to pull back, hoping to get dry powder from the stocks in the rear. But the Northerners pressed too closely for a disciplined withdrawal, and soon most of the Confederate force was in flight. Interestingly, the Texans proved more anxious to get away than the Indians: a rearguard of Choctaw and Chickasaw held back the Yankees for a half-hour, but then were overwhelmed. The supply depot at Honey Springs was overrun, and set on fire, not necessarily in that order. The Union soldiers managed to salvage some of the foodstuffs, and left the rest to burn. Without the supplies, the threat of a Southern attack on Fort Gibson was over.

Union losses were 17 killed and 60 wounded. The Confederate commander reported 134 killed and wounded, with 47 taken prisoner, however, General Blunt claimed that 150 Rebels were buried and 77 prisoners taken, and he believed 400 of the enemy had been wounded. Blunt especially praised the Kansas Colored troops in his report to the War Department. This and a more famous action the following day on the eastern side of the continent would finally convince the majority of Northerners of the value of black soldiers in combat.

_____________________________

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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