Civil War Daily Gazette

A Day-By-Day Accounting of the Conflict, 150 Years Later

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I Am Not Watching You with an Evil Eye – Lincoln Reassures Rosecrans

What? Certainly no evil eye here!

August 10, 1863 (Monday) General-in-Chief Henry Halleck had ordered both Generals William Rosecrans and Ambrose Burnside to advance south from their positions in Tennessee and Kentucky. The order was peremptory, it was to be obeyed at once. It was, however, no great surprise that on this date, five days after issuing the orders, neither force had budged. To Halleck, Rosecrans’ move was more important. Burnside was to clear East Tennessee and guard Rosecrans’ left flank, but both would be relatively easy tasks compared to assaulting Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Halleck and Rosecrans had been engaged in a paper war, sending letters and telegrams, ever increasing the needless drama. On the 4th, Halleck issued his final order to Rosecrans, and wanted that to stand as his final statement. When Rosecrans responded, however, Halleck couldn’t bear to let it go. On the 9th, Halleck responded to Rosecrans’ accusations that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton had it out for him. In answering, he quickly took the opportunity to remind Rosecrans of the subject at… Read More

My Confidence Has Not Been Diminished – Davis Comforts a Distraught Pemberton

Jeff Davis in less trying times.

August 9, 1863 (Sunday) Though Confederate President Jefferson Davis would not receive General Lee’s submission of resignation for another day or so, in writing to another crestfallen General, John Pemberton, he was able to gather his thoughts, and reflect on what he and his new country needed in military commanders. Following the surrender of Vicksburg and its garrison on July 4th, Union General Grant paroled General Pemberton, who had commanded the capitulated Rebel forces. He was ordered by Grant, as part of the terms, to report to General Joseph Johnston. Their meeting was cold and Johnston wanted little to do with him. The Southern press, however, wanted everything to do with him, fully blaming him for the July 4th defeat and demanding that he be relieved. Still without much of a command, Pemberton had retired to Gainsville, Alabama to be with his family and to write his official report of the Vicksburg Campaign. He also wished to “disprove many charges made against me through ignorance or malice.” Pemberton knew this was would be a battle,… Read More

Take Measures to Supply My Place – General Lee Offers His Resignation

General Lee

August 8, 1863 (Saturday) General Lee wasn’t a beaten man, any more than his Army of Northern Virginia was a beaten Army. They were, however, both suffering. Lee had been ill since the spring, suffering a possible heart attack or two along the way. The defeat at Gettysburg greatly depressed him, and sent the typical murmurings through the Southern press, already cranky over the loss of Vicksburg. With all this in mind, General Lee decided the only honorable thing he could do was offer his resignation to President Jefferson Davis. The letter, written from his camp near Orange Court House, was a strange and meandering one. Lee was hardly one to beat around the bush, but for the first two lengthy paragraphs, the General muses over the state of his army and the Southern People. The latter was on his mind when he turned philosophical, writing that “We must expect reverses, even defeats. They are sent to teach us wisdom and prudence, to call forth greater energies, and to prevent our falling into greater disasters.”… Read More

Lincoln Defends the Draft, Overestimates the Confederate Cause

One way to escape the draft...

August 7, 1863 (Friday) Abraham Lincoln was, by this point in the war, immune to accusers railing against what they perceived as the dashing of their civil liberties. Early on, Lincoln had suspended the write of habeas corpus in Maryland, arresting and imprisoning many without trial. If a few (or many more than a few) newspapers were shut down along with them, so be it. Even the freeing of slaves, believed many, went against their Constitutional rights to be owners and dealers of human beings. No single act, however, was more wide spread than the draft. By the summer of 1863, if any adult male had not already enlisted, it was fairly doubtful he ever would. Just as there were many reasons why men fought, there were just as many given for why they did not. Some, like the Amish, Quakers and Shakers were pacifists. Others were simply not interested in killing and dying to either save the Union or free the slaves (or both). Some did not wish to leave home and family, and… Read More

How to Get the Troops You Need to Attack Charleston

Gillmore: My dear tall horse, how will I ever find the troops I need?

August 6, 1863 (Thursday) Following the Union defeat at Battery Wagner, guarding the entrance to Charleston Harbor, there had been much debate. General Quincy Adams Gillmore wanted, of course, to take another crack at it, but his force had been reduced, via battle and illness, to a mere 6,000. He had called for reinforcements, asking General-in-Chief Henry Halleck in Washington to send upwards of 10,000 veteran troops. Gillmore believed that the victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg would free up enough men to take Battery Wagner and seize the birth city of secession. Fearing that he would get no help from Washington (and that perhaps the whole campaign would be called off), Gillmore wanted to make sure he had an ally. If the army could not supply the troops, perhaps the Navy could. Gillmore turned to Admiral John Dalgren, commanding the gunboats in the vicinity. Dahlgren had aided Gillmore the best he could during the initial assault, and might again be of some service. Both Gillmore and Dahlgren agreed that it would be suicidal to launch… Read More

The Farther Side of a Country Rugged and Sterile – Nobody Wants to Move Anywhere

Bragg: What, you have HOW many men? Well then have I got an excuse for you!

August 5, 1863 (Wednesday) Confederate General Braxton Bragg had a great idea. Since there were, essentially, two major Southern armies in the West, why not combine them and with the might of 80,000 Rebels, destroy the smaller Federal Army under William Rosecrans in Tennessee? With that accomplished, they could turn on General Grant’s Army and retake Vicksburg. True, General Joe Johnston had suggested a strikingly similar plan prior to the need of retaking Vicksburg, but this time Jefferson Davis was behind it (making one thing that Davis’ loathing of Johnston played a roll in striking down the original suggestion). Bragg figured that with Johnston’s 23,000 strong and able men, who had seen little of battle as of late, this new super-army would indeed be something with which to reckon. When asked by Richmond if it could be done, Bragg replied that with “success if a fight can be had on equal terms.” Though the difficult terrain that must be crossed to give battle to Rosecrans had to be considered, he would meet with General Johnston… Read More

Your Forces Must Move Forward Without Further Delay

Hurry. UP!

August 4, 1863 (Tuesday) Though General Burnside’s beloved IX Corps was finally on the road back to its figurehead and master, things were still hardly looking up in the mind of General-in-Chief Henry Halleck, far to the east in Washington. For months now, he had been urging Burnside and William Rosecrans to advance south from Tennessee and Kentucky. General Rosecrans was to move on the Confederate forces helmed by Braxton Bragg, while Burnside was to cover his left and occupy East Tennessee. For a time in the middle of July, Rosecrans seemed only to be waiting for Burnside to make the move. Though the operation would “involve a great deal of care, labor, watchfulness, and combined effort” to come off as successful, by all appearances, Rosecrans was ready. It had been up to General Halleck to hurry Burnside along. And it was since the middle of July that Halleck had been frustrated. “General Burnside has been frequently urged to move forward and cover your left,” he wrote to Rosecrans on the 13th. “I do no… Read More

Burnside’s Ninth Corps is Finally on its Way

Have you sent my IX Corps yet?

August 3, 1863 (Monday) Following the campaign, siege and surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi, nearly one month prior, General Grant’s Army of the Tennessee had earned a bit of rest. Since the late winter, they had toiled away, searching, often in vain, for some way, any way to assail the defenses of Vicksburg. But now, in the early days of August, after all the capitulated Rebels had been paroled, and the citizens urged back to normal (albeit, slave-free) existence, for the Army to turn to the relative ease of camp life would be a blessing for which few soldiers would not beg. Ulysses S. Grant was not such a soldier. Momentum, he believed, must be kept. They had taken Vicksburg and rather than rest fulfilled upon their greenest of laurels, Grant wanted more action. Grant wanted little more than to flow down the Mississippi Valley, like the river itself, and eventually focus upon Mobile, Alabama. To begin this movement, Grant decided to send the XIII Corps, now commanded by General E.O. Ord, south to Natchez, Mississippi.… Read More

Suddenly, Every Confederate in the West Agrees with Johnston

Braxton Bragg sees the light (maybe a bit too late).

August 2, 1863 (Sunday) “If we can spare most of Johnston’s army temporarily to re-enforce you,” asked Richmond to Braxton Bragg, “can you fight the enemy?” Ever since General Bragg had retreated from his position at Tullahoma to Chattanooga, along the Tennessee River, he had been advocating a revolutionary plan of concentration. Though this was hardly a new idea, he felt that having three different armies scattered all over the West made it impossible to use any to achieve victory, their numbers so scant. Bragg wanted his own army and that of General Joe Johnston to join, and in mid-July suggested that his army of 45,000 reinforce Johnston’s of 23,000 in Mississippi. Together, they could defeat Grant, whose numbers hovered about their equal. Following General Grant’s victory at Vicksburg, Johnston had been pushed back well east of Jackson, Mississippi. In Johnston’s mind, it was too late for such machinations. “Such a combination might have been advantageous before or during the siege of Vicksburg,” wrote Johnston in his memoirs, “but not after its disastrous termination.” No… Read More

And Sabers Were Used with Success – Meade Controls the Rappahannock

John Buford cuts through the fog of war.

This day marks the 1000th post for the Civil War Daily Gazette. Only 600 (or so) to go! August 1, 1863 (Saturday) Just like the previous day, Federal Cavalry General, John Buford, attempted to ford the Rappahannock, but found the river “swimming” and could not cross. He had sent a brigade to Beverly Ford, a little upriver from Rappahannock Station, where the Orange & Alexandria Railroad once crossed. “I can cross in boats and drive away the rebs,” he reported, “after which, if the engineers are instructed to lay a bridge, I can cross and hold the opposite bank.” He was getting evermore disgruntled at the seemingly lackadaisical attitude toward this operation. “If I am to advance, I would like to see some disposition shown to aid me,” he concluded in a morning message to General George Meade, commanding the army. “Everything seems to be awaiting orders.” A half-hour later, around 6:30am, General Gouverneur K. Warren, Meade’s Chief Engineer, received a message from Captain G.H. Mendell, the engineer at Rappahannock Station. Mendell informed Warren that… Read More

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