January 14, 1862 (Tuesday)
General Stonewall Jackson had been holed up with his men at Unger’s Store for nearly a week. Having failed to take Hancock, Maryland, Jackson turned for a move on Romney, forty frozen miles away.
During that week, Romney had been abandoned by the Federals, much to the chagrin of General Frederick Lander. The news, however, thrilled Jackson. He was prepared to take Romney by force, but now, it seemed, that was unnecessary.
Jackson and his army had spent the previous day sloshing through the thawing roads, nine miles to Slane’s Crossroads. The Stonewall Brigade, under General Dick Garnett, led the way and General Loring’s men brought up the rear. The sun had been shining in the morning, but by afternoon, the clouds had gathered and temperatures fell.
Used to Jackson’s speed, the Stonewall Brigade set a lively pace, while Loring’s troops fell farther and farther behind, one regiment making only 200 yards all day.
On the morning of the 14th, the ground was covered by two inches of freshly fallen snow. The rain and sleet fell throughout the day, drenching the men and growing icicles from the brims of their hats. By evening, however, they were in Romney. Loring’s men would take an additional two days to arrive.
The town of Romney had been hastily abandoned. The Stonewall Brigade were quartered in churches, the county courthouse and in the homes of citizens. Few, if any, had to sleep outdoors, which was a fine thing given that the Federals had already used most of the fence rails to make their fires.1
After securing his own quarters, Jackson wrote to Secretary of War Judah Benjamin that he regarded the area around Romney to be once again under Confederate command. It was, of course, done only through the blessings of God. These blessings, it seems, were not enough. With the enemy on the retreat and word of medical supplies in Cumberland, Maryland, twenty-five miles north, he asked for 4,000 additional troops so that he could take it and defeat the Federal army under General Lander.2
For now, Jackson would have to wait for both Benjamin’s reply and for the rest of his army under General Loring.
Grant Begins His Diversion
It had been four cold, muddy days since General Ulysses Grant had been ordered to await further orders. Expecting General Buell in Kentucky to advance into Eastern Tennessee, General Halleck, commander of the troops in Missouri, planned to launch Grant’s 15,000 men into Western Kentucky as a diversion. Halleck hoped to trick the Rebels into thinking that Grant was moving to attack Fort Donelson, keeping them from reinforcing Eastern Tennessee. Halleck had repeatedly asked Buell when the diversion should take place, but received no reply.
“I can hear nothing from Buell,” wired Halleck to Grant on the 11th, “so fix your own time for the advance.”3
Since then, Halleck had fallen ill with the measles, and Buell was slowly coming around to the idea of a move towards Eastern Tennessee. Both General McClellan and President Lincoln had been hounding him to make such a move as soon as possible, but Buell, at first, thought it unimportant, preferring a move into central Tennessee. By the 13th, however, he had conceded that the end results of an advance into Eastern Tennessee were indeed important, but that advancing on central Tennessee would achieve the same results.
In fact, Buell had already sent a division under General George Thomas, 14,000-strong, towards the Rebels entrenched near Mill Springs, on the road to Nashville, in central Kentucky.4
Meanwhile, in Cairo, Illinios, General Grant grew tired of waiting for the reinforcements that Halleck had promised him a few days prior. Already given permission to begin the diversion, he decided to wait no longer.
The bulk of his forces were under General John McClernand, a lawyer and politician before the war. They had moved across the Mississippi to Fort Jefferson and Blandville. That evening, Grant ordered McClernand to march to Mayfield, deeper into Confederate-held western Kentucky, where Grant would join him in a couple of days.
For Grant, most of the day was spent with Commodore Andrew Foote on the Mississippi. The gunboats Essex, St. Louis and Tyler exchanged a few shots with Rebel batteries near Columbus. Foote and his small river fleet were all part of the diversion.5
General Curtis Ordered to Drive Price Out of Missouri
Just as General Halleck was coming down with the measles, he ordered General Samuel Curtis with his 12,000 men to march on Springfield. Stationed at Rolla, Curtis had been given command of the Army of Southwest Missouri. He was to keep an eye on General Sterling Price and his band of secessionist Missouri State Guards, who were slowly being officially filtered into the Confederate Army.
After several reports placed a large body of Rebel cavalry on the road from Springfield to Rolla, Halleck thought it a good idea to retrace the same ground taken and then lost by both Generals Lyon and Fremont.
By this cold January day, Curtis believed that the weather had checked the Rebel advance. The next day’s weather, however, was to be better, and then Curtis would begin his advance.6
- Stonewall Jackson by James I. Robertson, as well as Shenandoah 1862 by Peter Cozzens. [↩]
- Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 5, p1033. [↩]
- Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 7, p545. [↩]
- Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 7, p548-549. [↩]
- Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 7, p552-553. I apologize for the scattered writing here, there’s not much on Grant’s diversion. Even Foote wrote nothing of this day. [↩]
- Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 8, p499-500. [↩]