Civil War Daily Gazette

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

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Arkansas Rebels Preparing a San Jacinto-like Defeat for Invading Yankees

Smith: I'm active and intelligent!

August 13, 1863 (Thursday) Though things in the Confederate West were going poorly, things in the Confederate far West were even worse. Since the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the General Kirby Smith’s Department of the Trans-Mississippi, consisting of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, was essentially lopped off from the rest of the country. This caused the governors of the four states (which included Missouri’s exiled Thomas Reynolds) to issue an address to people, hoping to convince them that all was not lost. The governors concluded that the loss of the Mississippi River interrupted communication between the two sections and forced each to rely “mainly on its own resources.” Though things seemed dark, the governors were at least outwardly convinced that it was not so. “We now are self-dependent, but also self-sustaining,” they insisted. They had indeed opened factories to cast artillery, make arms, powder and more. Cotton was plentiful, as was food. They were, claimed the governors “able to conduct a vigorous defense, and seize occasions for offensive operations against the enemy.” This… Read More

Federals Testing Fire Upon Fort Sumter

Watch your head, General Gillmore!

August 12, 1863 (Wednesday) Bit by bit, the Federal troops on Morris Island crept ever closer to Battery Wagner, guarding Charleston Harbor. Since the failed attacks of August 11th and 18th, both sides had been actively improving their defenses. Federal General Quincy Adams Gillmore, had pleaded for more troops, and soon 5,000 were to arrive, including veterans of Gettysburg. Already, three brigades that had been stationed in North Carolina had arrived, as well as the 3rd Regiment United States Colored Troops. The 3rd USCT wasn’t the only black regiment on the island, of course. There was also the much depleted 54th Massachusetts, as well as a brigade consisting of the 55th Massachusetts and the 2nd and 3rd North Carolina Colored Volunteers, commanded by the abolitionist Edward Wild. Even though the 54th had become national heroes, they too were lumped in with the other “colored troops” and placed on fatigue duty. In the case of Morris Island, fatigue duty consisted of digging deep trenches in the face of galling enemy fire and in the sweltering summer… Read More

I Felt Our Country Could Not Bear to Lose You – Lee’s Resignation is Denied

And Lee probably knew that.

August 11, 1863 (Tuesday) When Jefferson Davis received General Lee’s letter of resignation, he was, of course, in no way entertaining the idea of allowing Lee to leave. Through the summer, Davis had made strange decisions to favor generals he liked (Bragg) over generals who had proven themselves (Johnston). For Davis, Lee was both. Davis genuinely like Lee, and most certainly respected his skills as a commander as much as his own. “If I could take one wing [of the army] and Lee the other,” Davis apparently mentioned around this time, “I think we could between us wrest a victory from these people.” Of course, Davis could not leave Richmond to take command in the field, but neither could he allow Lee to succumb to the bad press the defeat at Gettysburg had wrought. Two days prior to receiving Lee’s letter, Davis wrote a paroled General Pemberton, who had not resigned, but expressed the same disgust over his portrayal in the newspapers. Pemberton, however, conceded that the maxim was true, that “success is the test… Read More

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