Thursday, August 1, 1861
August started not with shots fired on the field of battle, but angry letters exchanged from Confederate General to Confederate President. General Beauregard, victorious commander of the Battle of Bull Run, wrote to Congress, insisting that the “want of food and transportation has made us lose all the fruits of our victory. We ought to, at this moment, be in or about Washington.”
Though Beauregard wasn’t the only Confederate to think this, he was effectively blaming the Davis administration for the lack of stores. “From all accounts,” concluded Beauregard, “Washington could have been taken up to the 24th instant, by twenty thousand men!”
Davis was called to the floor of Congress and asked to defend his inaction, where he reported that the commissary was as good as could be expected. This didn’t exactly say anything and certainly didn’t solve the problem.1
The problem, according to Davis, anyway, was an exaggeration by Beauregard. Davis had heard from Beauregard by telegraph a few days prior, letting him know that several regiments were without food. Col. Lee of the Commissary made an addendum to the note, stating that while there were certainly deficiencies in some areas, the local population had gathered enough food to feed the wanting regiments.
Davis returned the telegram to Beauregard, informing him of the inconsistency. The President, however, did allow that, if the soldiers suffered due to lack of rations, “the neglect of the subsistence department demands investigation and proper correction.”2
Beauregard’s letter to Congress had already done its damage. Shortly, it would be leaked to the press and the rumblings of an anti-Davis opposition party would emerge. This, however, was in the future. For the time being, Davis would wait a few days to reply to Beauregard.
Had the governmental situation brewing in Richmond been known to Col. John Baylor, he may not have been so keen to set up a government of his own in what was, until this date, New Mexico Territory. It was now The Confederate Territory of Arizona, and consisted of “all that portion of New Mexico lying south of the thirty-fourth parallel of north latitude.”
Baylor declared, “all offices, both civil and military, heretofore existing in this Territory, either under the laws of the late United States or the Territory of New Mexico, are hereby declared vacant, and from the date hereof shall forever cease to exist.”
He then placed the new territory under a military government (commanded by him) “until such time as Congress may otherwise provide.” Baylor established a two-branch system of government. The executive would be run by the Confederate Army of Arizona, while the judicial branch would be ruled by a supreme court. This Colonel, who commanded no more than 300 men, had thought of everything, including the number of judges on the supreme court (two), as well as the number of judicial districts (also two). Even probate courts and a method of appeals were included. Any pending court cases would now be continued in these new courts.
The territorial governor was given the power to appoint his cabinet, marshals and justices of the peace. Since Baylor was that governor, he did so immediately.
Mesilla, the town next to captured Fort Fillmore, was established as the capital.3
Three Independent Commanders in Western Virginia
In Western Virginia, General Lee left Monterey, where the bulk of Army of the Northwest had convened after their losses at Rich Mountain and Corrick’s Ford. The General’s destination was Huntersville, a three-day ride southwest (probably around fifty miles on the 1861 roads). There, he was to meet with General Loring, who still was unaware that Lee was in his theater of command.
General H. R. Jackson had taken over the Army of the Northwest, about 5,000 strong, after General Garnett’s death, but General Loring was dispatched by Lee to take over for Jackson. Loring, seeing that Cheat Mountain could not be assailed from Jackson’s position, established his headquarters at Huntersville to personally command what he hoped would develop into a flank attack against the Union troops under General Rosecrans at Cheat Mountain. There, he commanded three Tennessee regiments and a Virginia regiment.4
Meanwhile, nearly seventy miles south at Camp Bee (near Sweet Springs), Confederate General Floyd wrote to President Davis, catching him upon on the news of the ill-fated Kanawha Valley Campaign. General Wise, Floyd’s rival, had burned the Gauley Bridge and retreated out of the valley towards Lewisburg. The route Floyd wished to take into the Kanawha Valley was now blocked by Union troops.
The solution, thought Floyd, was to combine his force with that of Wise and raise 10,000 more in the nearby area. Once the Yankees were pressed east to the Ohio River, this combined army could move 80 to 100 miles into Ohio. Perhaps the force could even be turned on the Union army at Cheat Mountain, attacking it from the rear. Raising troops, Floyd wrote, should not be difficult. He had just traveled through the area and “never witnessed a better spirit than seems to be almost universal.”5
Though the details of Lee’s mission into western Virginia were vague at best, it was becoming clear that three independent commanders would have to be convinced to work together under Lee’s guidance.