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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
]The thread title refers to the latest excerpt from this volume which can be found at the end of the thread.

This post is to introduce a Kindle version of Volume 8, "The Civil War", of a series entitled
"AMERICA Great Crises In Our History Told by Its Makers" which was published as
a print version by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The eighth volume covers the
period 1861-1865, covering in detail all the major battles of the Civil War .
This Kindle version is published in partnership with the VFW who receive 50% of
sales revenue.

REVIEWERS WANTED! If you would like to review any of the books in this series,
PM me with your Amazon email address and I will gift copies to you.

Product Description

2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, a
bloody conflict that devastated the nation and claimed more American lives than
any war before or since. The eighth volume of this series of eye-witness
accounts of American history covers this defining event in the nation's story,
from Lincoln's first inaugural address to his death. It's essential reading. For
what could be more authoritative - and enthralling - than General U S Grant's
report of the surrender of Robert E Lee at Appomattox, than Lincoln's
assassination described by his own Secretaries, than Jefferson Davis's own
account of his flight and capture? You'll read accounts of Generals McClellan,
Sheridan, Sherman, Hood, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E Lee and other Union and
Confederate participants in such epic battles as Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam,
Chancellorsville, and Lookout Mountain. This volume delivers an 'inside view' of
the Civil War that will inform, stimulate and fascinate.

Introduction To The Series

"After you've heard two eyewitness accounts of an auto accident, you begin to
worry about history." This observation, attributed to the comedian Henny
Youngman, summarizes the dilemma you face when you want to find out what really
happened in the past. When you read a history book, the "facts" are actually the
author's own interpretation, often colored by a conscious or unconscious wish to
have you share a particular point of view. You're one step (or many steps)
removed from the original source material.

That's why the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States compiled this 12-
volume collection of writings of people who actually witnessed the key events in
American history - the actual actors in the events or contemporary observers of
them. Past historians have spent decades locating, studying and consulting vast
amounts of material such as this. This meticulously chosen selection brings you
the essence of history as originally recorded by those who participated in it.

You'll be reading mostly eye-witness accounts, by people contemporary with the
events they describe, including many significant historical figures themselves.
So you can make your own assessments, draw your own conclusions and gain an
understanding of past events undistorted by the prejudices, assumptions and
selectivity of professional historians. In some instances where there aren't
reliable or easily accessible eye-witness accounts, the compilers have chosen
extracts from objective, authoritative historians of past generations such as
Francis Parkman whose judgements have stood the test of time. Through these
accounts, your knowledge of American history will be immeasurably greater, your
understanding of the key events in the building of the nation immensely

Founded in 1899, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) is a
nonprofit organization dedicated to foster camaderie among United States
veterans of overseas conflicts, from the Spanish-American War to Iraq and
Afghanistan, and to ensure that they receive due respect and entitlements for
the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of the nation. With
this mission, the VFW has a natural desire to encourage a broad understanding
and appreciation of American history, and this essential collection of
historical documents makes a huge contribution to that aim.

This reissue was scanned, formatted and converted to e-book format by with the permission and encouragement of the VFW, to make
the series more accessible to a wider public. The VFW will receive 50% of all
sales revenue from these e-books. This book is about 300 print pages.

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606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series "Great Crises in our History"

Secession As A Constitutional Right

By Senator Robert Toombs.

TOOMBS, a Georgian, made this speech in the Senate in 1861, shortly before he Withdrew from Congress to espouse the Southern cause and become Confederate Secretary of State. As an old-time Whig, he Was disposed to be loyal to the Union, and as an able lawyer he understood the advantages of it; but as an advocate of States' Rights, he saw in secession the only hope of the South to remain free and independent.

Some of his arguments in this typical "fire-eating" oration are unassailable as statements of fact. Resigning from the Jefferson Davis Cabinet after a short term, he was commissioned a brigadier-general, and served in the second battle of Bull Run and at Sharpsburg.

After the war Toombs was a power at the Georgia bar, and never took the oath of allegiance to the United States.

THESE thirteen colonies originally had no bond of union whatever ; no more than Jamaica and Australia have to-day. They were wholly separate communities, independent of each other, and dependent on the Crown of Great Britain. All the union between them that was ever made is in writing. They made two written compacts.

Senators, the Constitution is a compact. It contains all our obligations and duties of the Federal Government.... All the obligations, all the chains that fetter the limbs of my people, are nominated in the bond, and they wisely excluded any conclusion against them, by declaring that the powers not granted by the Constitution to the United States, or forbidden by it to the States, belonged to the States respectively or the people. Now I will try it by that standard; I will subject it to that test. The law of nature, the law of justice, would say and it is so expounded by the publicists that equal rights in the common property shall be enjoyed. . . . This right of equality being, then, according to justice and natural equity, a right belonging to all States, when did we give it up? You say Congress has a right to pass rules and regulations concerning the Territory and other property of the United States. Very well. Does that exclude those whose blood and money paid for it? Does "dispose of" mean to rob the rightful owners? You must show a better title than that, or a better sword than we have.

But, you say, try the right. I agree to it. But how? By your judgment? No, not until the last resort. What then; by yours? No, not until the same time. How then try it? The South has always said it, by the Supreme Court. But that is in our favor, and Lincoln says he will not stand that judgment. Then each must judge for himself of the mode and manner of redress. But you deny us that privilege, and finally reduce us to accepting your judgment. We decline it. You say you will enforce it by executing laws; that means your judgment of what the laws ought to be. Perhaps you will have a good time of executing your judgment. The Senator from Kentucky comes to your aid, and says he can find no constitutional right of secession. Perhaps not; but the Constitution is not the place to look for State rights. If that right belongs to independent States, and they did not cede it to the Federal Government, it is reserved to the States, or to the people. Ask your new commentator where he gets your right to judge for us. Is it in the bond?

In a compact where there is no common arbiter, where the parties finally decide for themselves, the sword alone at last becomes the real, if not the constitutional, arbiter. Your party says that you will not take the decision of the Supreme Court. You said so at Chicago; you said so in committee; every man of you in both Houses says so. What are you going to do? You say we shall submit to your construction. We shall do it, if you can make us; but not otherwise, or in any other manner. That is settled. You may call it secession, or you may call it revolution; but there is a big fact standing before you, ready to oppose you that fact is, freemen with arms in their hands. The cry of the Union will not disperse them; we have passed that point; they demand equal rights: you had better heed the demand.

I have, then, established the proposition it is admitted that you seek to outlaw $4,000,000,000 of property of our people in the Territories of the United States. Is not that a cause of war? Is it a grievance that $4,000,000,000 of the property of the people should be outlawed in the Territories of the United States by the common Government? . . . Then you have declared, Lincoln declares, your platform declares, your people declare, your Legislatures declare there is one voice running through your entire phalanx that we shall be outlawed in the Territories of the United States. I say we will not be; and we are willing to meet the issue; and rather than submit to such an outlawry, we will defend our territorial rights as we would our household goods.

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series "Great Crises in our History"

The Siege And Capture Of Fort Sumter

By Major John Gray Foster.

MAJOR FOSTER (later brevetted major-general) assisted Major Robert Anderson in the defense of Fort Sumter, April 12-13, 1861, when it was bombarded and reduced by the Confederate batteries in Charleston Harbor. As director of engineering operations of the United States troops at Charleston, Foster had superintended the construction of Fort Sumter and the repairing of Fort Moultrie, from which he had helped transfer the Federal garrison to Fort Sumter. He was a graduate of West Point.

On April 11, 1861, acting under orders from President Jefferson Davis, General Beauregard, commanding the Confederate forces at Charleston, had demanded the evacuation of the fort. Anderson refused to withdraw. The historic bombardment followed, as here recounted. The garrison of 128 men left the fort on April thirteenth with the honors of war. There was no one wounded or killed on either side during the action.

APRIL 12th At one a.m. four aides of General Beauregard ... came with a second letter, stating that as Major Anderson had been understood to make a; remark to the bearers of the first letter, in taking leave, that he would "await the first shot, and if not battered to pieces, would be starved out in a few days," it was desired to know what importance might be attached to it. The reply of Major Anderson did not satisfy the aides, who were authorized in that case to give notice that the fire would open. Accordingly, on leaving at 3:30 a.m., they gave notice that their batteries would open in one hour.

At 4:30 a.m. a signal shell was thrown from the mortar battery on James Island; after which the fire soon became general from all the hostile batteries.

At 7 a.m. the guns of Fort Sumter replied, the first shot being fired from the battery at the right gorge angle, in charge of Captain Doubleday.

The supply of cartridges, 700 in number, with which the engagement commenced, became so much reduced by the middle of the day, although the six needles in the fort were kept steadily employed, that the firing was forced to slacken, and to be confined to six guns two firing towards Morris Island, two towards Fort Moultrie, and two towards the batteries on the west end of Sullivan's Island.

At 1 o'clock two United States men-of-war were seen off the bar, and soon after a third appeared.

The fire of our batteries continued steadily until dark. The effect of the fire was not very good, owing to the insufficient caliber of the guns for the long range, and not much damage appeared to be done to any of the batteries, except those of Fort Moultrie, where our two 42-pounders appeared to have silenced one gun for a time, to have injured the embrasures considerably, riddled the barracks and quarters, and torn three holes through their flag.

The effect of the enemy's fire upon Fort Sumter during the day was very marked in respect to the vertical fire. This was so well directed and so well sustained that from the seventeen mortars engaged in firing 10-inch shells, one-half of the shells came within or exploded above the parapet of the fort, and only about ten buried themselves in the soft earth of the parade without exploding. In consequence of this precision of vertical fire, Major Anderson decided not to man the upper tier of guns, as by doing so the loss of men, notwithstanding the traverses and bombproof shelters that I had constructed, must have been great.

The effect of the direct fire from the enemy's guns was not so marked as the vertical. For several hours firing from the commencement a large proportion of their shot missed the fort. Subsequently it improved, and did considerable damage to the roof and upper story of the barracks and quarters, and to the tops of the chimneys on the gorge.

The night was very stormy, with high wind and tide. I found out, however, by personal inspection, that the exterior of the work was not damaged to any considerable extent, and that all the facilities for taking in supplies, in case they arrived, were as complete as circumstances would admit. The enemy threw shells every ten or fifteen minutes during the night. The making of cartridge bags was continued by the men, under Lieutenant Meade's directions, until 12 o'clock, when they were ordered to stop by Major Anderson. To obtain materials for the bags all the extra clothing of the companies was cut up, and all coarse paper and extra hospital sheets used

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series "Great Crises in our History"

The Battle Of Chickamauga

By Brigadier-General George H. Thomas.

IT was as commander of the left wing of the Union army at Chickamauga, Tennessee (September 19-20, 1863), that General Thomas, who made this official report to the War Department, displayed such courage and military genius as to save the Union army from overwhelming defeat, and earn for himself the title of "The Rock of Chickamauga." In this sanguinary engagement the Union and Confederate losses were about 34,000 in killed, wounded and missing, about equally divided. Opposing 55,000 Federal troops was a Confederate army of about 70,000. Though the battle was won by the Confederates, under General Bragg, the prize for which it was fought, the city of Chattanooga, remained in possession of the Federals, under Rosecrans.

This account begins on September 18, and pictures the eventful September 20, when the Federals were routed, leaving Thomas to stand firm against tremendous odds, before retiring under cover of darkness.

AT 4 p. m. the whole corps moved to the left along Chickamauga Creek to Crawfish Spring. On arriving at that place received orders to march on the cross-road leading by Widow Glenn's house to the Chattanooga and La Fayette road, and take up a position near Kelly's farm, on the La Fayette road, connecting with Crittenden on my right at Gordon's Mills. The head of the column reached Kelly's farm about daylight on the 19th [September, 1863] Baird's division in front, and took up a position at the forks of the road, facing toward Reed's and Alexander's Bridges over the Chickamauga. Colonel Wilder, commanding the mounted brigade of Reynolds' division, informed me that the enemy had crossed the Chickamauga in force at those two bridges the evening before and drove his brigade across the State road, or Chattanooga and La Fayette road, to the heights east of Widow Glenn's house.

Kelly's house is situated in an opening about three-fourths of a mile long and one-fourth of a mile wide, on the east side of the State road, and stretches along that road in a northerly direction, with a small field of perhaps 20 acres on the west side of the road, directly opposite to the house. From thence to the Chickamauga the surface of the country is undulating and covered with original forest timber, interspersed with undergrowth, in many places so dense that it is difficult to see 50 paces ahead. There is a cleared field near Jay's Mill, and cleared land in the vicinity of Reed's and Alexander's Bridges. A narrow field commences at a point about a fourth of a mile south of Kelly's house, on the east side of the State road, and extends, perhaps, for half a mile along the road toward Gordon's Mills. Between the State road and the foot of Missionary Ridge there is a skirt of timber stretching from the vicinity of Widow Glenn's house, south of the forks of the road to McDonald's house, three-fourths of a mile north of Kelly's. The eastern slope of the Missionary Ridge, between Glenn's and McDonald's, is cleared and mostly under cultivation. This position of Baird's threw my right in close proximity to Wilder's brigade ; the interval I intended to fill up with the two remaining brigades of Reynolds' division on their arrival. General Brannan, closely following Baird's division, was placed in position on his left, on the two roads leading from the State road to Reed's and Alexander's Bridges.

Colonel Dan. McCook, commanding a brigade of the Reserve Corps, met me at General Baird's headquarters, and reported to me that he had been stationed the previous night on the road leading to Reed's Bridge, and that he could discover no force of the enemy except one brigade, which had crossed to the west side of the Chickamauga at Reed's Bridge the day before; and he believed it could be cut off, because, after it had crossed, he had destroyed the bridge, the enemy having retired toward Alexander's Bridge. Upon this information I directed General Brannan to post a brigade, within supporting distance of Baird, on the road to Alexander's Bridge, and with his other two brigades to reconnoiter the road leading to Reed's Bridge to see if he could locate the brigade reported by Colonel McCook, and, if a favorable opportunity occurred, to capture it. His dispositions were made according to instructions by 9 a. m.

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series- America, "Great Crises in our History."


By Major-General Ambrose Everett Burnside.

THIS account of the Battle of Fredericksburg, fought on December 13, 1862, between the Federal Army of the Potomac, numbering approximately 116,000, under Burnside, and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, numbering about 78,000, under Lee, is embodied in Burnside's official report to the War Department. The Union command had been forced upon Burnside, in succession to McClellan, despite his misgivings as to his competency. That they were well-founded was borne out by the overwhelming Confederate victory at Fredericksburg, where the Union loss was 12,653, and the Confederate 5,377.

In the camp of his beaten army that night, Burnside moaned over and over: "Those men upon the ground! Those men, those men, those men!" Yet it was only with great difficulty that he was dissuaded by his officers from renewing the attack on the following day. A month or so after this battle Burnside was replaced by General Hooker in command of the Army of the Potomac.

I WAS to move the main army to Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg, and there cross the Rappahannock on pontoon bridges, which were to be sent from Washington.

In my with interview General Halleck I represented to him that soon after commencing the movement in the direction of Fredericksburg my telegraphic communication with Washington would be broken, and that I relied upon him to see that such parts of my plan as required action in Washington would be carried out. He told me that everything required by me would receive his attention, and that he would at once order, by telegraph, the pontoon trains spoken of in my plan, and would, upon his return to Washington, see that they were promptly forwarded.

On my arrival at Falmouth, on the 19th [November], I dispatched to General Halleck's chief of staff the report . . . which . . . states the fact of the non-arrival of the pontoon train. These pontoon trains and supplies, which were expected to meet us on our arrival at Falmouth, could have been readily moved overland in time for our purposes in perfect safety.

Great exertions were made by Colonel Spaulding to push his train forward, but before his arrival at the Occoquan he decided to raft his boats when he reached that river, and have them towed to Belle Plain, for which purpose he sent an officer back for a steamer to meet him at the mouth of the river. The animals were sent overland. He arrived at Belle Plain with his pontoons on the 24th, and by the night of the 25th he was encamped near general headquarters.

By this time the enemy had concentrated a large force on the opposite side of the river, so that it became necessary to make arrangements to cross in the face of a vigilant and formidable foe. These arrangements were not completed until about December10.

Before issuing final orders, I concluded that the enemy would be more surprised by a crossing at or near Fredericksburg, where we were making no preparations, than by crossing at Skinners Neck, and I determined to make the attempt at the former place.- It was decided to throw four or five pontoon bridges across the river two at a point near the Lacy house, opposite the upper part of the town, one near the steamboat landing at the lower part of the town, one about a mile below, and, if there were pontoons sufficient, two at the latter point.

Final orders were now given to the commanders of the three grand divisions to concentrate their troops near the places for the proposed bridges.

The right grand division (General Sumner's) was directed to concentrate near the upper and middle bridges; the left grand division (General Franklin's) near the bridges, below the town ; the center grand division (General Hooker's) near to and in rear of General Sumner. These arrangements were made with a view of throwing the bridges on the morning of December 11th. The enemy held possession of the city of Fredericksburg and the crest or ridge running from a point on the river, just above Falmouth, to the Massaponax, some 4 miles below. This ridge was in rear of the city, forming an angle with the Rappahannock. Between the ridge and the river there is a plain, narrow at the point, where Fredericksburg stands, but widening out as it approaches the Massaponax.

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series- America, "Great Crises in our History."

The Siege Of Vicksburg

By General U. S. Grant.

GENERAL SHERMAN, who cooperated with Grant in conducting the siege of Vicksburg, which the Confederate General, Pemberton, surrendered to the Union Army, July 4, 1863, pronounced the series of operations which resulted in the capture of the Mississippi stronghold, "one of the greatest campaigns in history." It was a much-needed and timely Federal victory, the year 1862 having been one of Union disasters, and, coinciding with the defeat of Lee at Gettysburg, marked the turning point of the Civil War.

In his Memoirs, published by the Century Company, General Grant thus recounts the victorious conclusion of the campaign. His army numbered 50,000. Twelve miles of Union trenches were mounted with 220 guns, and the capitulation followed a twelve-day bombardment from land forces and gunboats. 29,391 Confederate officers and men were paroled; 790 refused paroles. The garrison was reduced to the verge of starvation.

I NOW determined upon a regular siege to outcamp the enemy," as it were, and to incur no more losses. The experience of the 22d convinced officers and men that this was best, and they went to work on the defenses and approaches with a will. With the navy holding the river, the investment of Vicksburg was complete. As long as we could hold our position the enemy was limited in supplies of food, men and munitions of war to what they had on hand. These could not last always.

The crossing of troops at Bruinsburg commenced April 30th. On the 18th of May the army was in rear of Vicksburg. On the 19th, just twenty days after the crossing, the city was completely invested and an assault had been made; five distinct battles (besides continuous skirmishing) had been fought and won by the Union forces; the capital of the State had fallen, and its arsenals, military manufactories, and everything useful for military purposes had been destroyed; an average of about one hundred and eighty miles had been marched by the troops engaged; but five days' rations had been issued, and no forage; over six thousand prisoners had been captured, and as many more of the enemy had been killed or wounded; twenty-seven heavy cannon and sixty-one field-pieces had fallen into our hands; and four hundred miles of the river, from Vicksburg to Port Hudson, had become ours.

After the unsuccessful assault of the 22d the work of the regular siege began. Sherman occupied the right starting from the river above Vicksburg, McPherson the center (McArthur's division now with him), and McClernand the left, holding the road south to Warrenton. Lauman's division arrived at this time and was placed on the extreme left of the line.

In the interval between the assaults of the 19th and 22d roads had been completed from the Yazoo River and Chickasaw Bayou, around the rear of the army, to enable us to bring up supplies of food and ammunition; ground had been selected and cleared on which the troops were to be encamped, and tents and cooking-utensils were brought up. The troops had been without these from the time of crossing the Mississippi up to this time. All was now ready for the pick and spade. Prentiss and Hurlbut were ordered to send forward every man that could be spared. Cavalry especially was wanted to watch the fords along the Big Black, and to observe Johnston. I knew that Johnston was receiving reinforcements from Bragg, who was confronting Rosecrans in Tennessee. Vicksburg was so important to the enemy that I believed he would make the most strenuous efforts to raise the siege, even at the risk of losing ground elsewhere.

The ground about Vicksburg is admirable for defense. On the north it is about two hundred feet above the Mississippi River at the highest point, and very much cut up by the washing rains ; the ravines were grown up with cane and underbrush, while the sides and tops were covered with a dense forest. Farther south the ground flattens out somewhat, and was in cultivation. But here, too, it was cut up by ravines and small streams. The enemy's line of defense followed the crest of a ridge from the river north of the city eastward, then southerly around to the Jackson road, full three miles back of the city; thence in a southwesterly direction to the river. Deep ravines of the description given lay in front of these defenses. As there is a succession of gullies cut out by rains along the side of the ridge, the line was necessarily very irregular. To follow each of these spurs with intrenchments, so as to command the slopes on either side, would have lengthened their line very much. Generally, therefore, or in many places, their line would run from near the head of one gully nearly straight to the head of another, and an outer work triangular in shape, generally open in the rear, was thrown up on the point; with a few men in this outer work they commanded the approaches to the main line completely.

The work to be done to make our position as strong against the enemy as his was against us was very great. The problem was also complicated by our wanting our line as near that of the enemy as possible.

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series- America, "Great Crises in our History."

Lee And Grant In The Wilderness

By Charles Anderson Dana.

DANA was an eye-witness of the battles between the Union and Confederate armies, commanded by Grant and Lee respectively, in what is known as the Wilderness campaign, culminating at Spottsylvania Court House, May 21, 1864. His "Recollections of the Civil War," published by D. Appleton & Company, from which this account is derived, is a record of his observations as Assistant Secretary of War, with headquarters in the field. He acted as personal representative of Lincoln and Stanton at the front, and was often in contact with Grant.

After the war, Dana found time, in addition to conducting the New York Sun, to edit several works, including a "Life of Grant," "Lincoln and His Cabinet," "Art of Newspaper Making," and an earlier popular "Household Book of Poetry." His literary judgments and perceptions were keen, and his own writing exhibited a mastery of English style.

MEADE was in command of the Army of the Potomac ; but it was Grant, the lieutenant-general of the armies of the United States, who was really directing the movements. The central idea of the campaign had not developed to the army when I reached headquarters, but it was soon clear to everybody. Grant's great operation was the endeavor to interpose the Federal army between Lee's army and Richmond, so as to cut Lee off from his base of supplies. He meant to get considerably in advance of Lee between him and Richmond thus compelling Lee to leave his intrenchments and hasten southward. If in the collision thus forced Grant found that he could not smash Lee, he meant to make another move to get behind his army. That was to be the strategy of the campaign of 1864. That was what Lee thwarted, though he had a narrow escape more than once.

The first encounter with Lee had taken place in the Wilderness on May 5th and 6th. The Confederates and many Northern writers love to call the Wilderness a drawn battle. It was not so; in every essential light it was a Union victory. Grant had not intended to fight a battle in those dense, brushy jungles, but Lee precipitated it just as he had precipitated the Battle of Chancellorsville one year before, and not six miles to the eastward of this very ground. In doing so he hoped to neutralize the superior numbers of Grant as he had Hooker's, and so to mystify and handle the Union leader as to compel a retreat across the Rapidan. But he failed. Some of the fighting in the brush was a draw, but the Union army did not yield a rood of ground; it held the roads southward, inflicted great losses on its enemy, and then, instead of recrossing the river, resumed its march toward Richmond as soon as Lee's attacks had ceased. Lee had palpably failed in his objects. His old-time tactics had made no impression on Grant. He never offered general battle in the open afterward.

The previous history of the Army of the Potomac had been to advance and fight a battle, then either to retreat or to lie still, and finally to go into winter quarters. Grant did not intend to proceed in that way. As soon as he had fought a battle and had not routed Lee, he meant to move nearer to Richmond and fight another battle. But the men in the army had become so accustomed to the old methods of campaigning that few, if any, of them believed that the new commander-in-chief would be able to do differently from his predecessors. I remember distinctly the sensation in the ranks when the rumor first went around that our position was south of Lee's. It was the morning of May 8th. The night before the army had made a forced march on Spottsylvania Courthouse. There was no indication the next morning that Lee had moved in any direction. As the army began to realize that we were really moving south, and at that moment were probably much nearer Richmond than was our enemy, the spirits of men and officers rose to the highest pitch of animation. On every hand I heard the cry, "On to Richmond!"

But there were to be a great many more obstacles to our reaching Richmond than General Grant himself, I presume, realized on May 8, 1864. We met one that very morning ; for when our advance reached Spottsylvania Courthouse it found Lee's troops there, ready to dispute the right of way with us, and two days later Grant was obliged to fight the battle of Spottsylvania before we could make another move south.

The battle had begun on the morning of May 10th, and had continued all day. On the 11 th the armies had rested, but at half past four on the morning of the 12th fighting had been begun by an attack by Hancock on a rebel salient. Hancock attacked with his accustomed impetuosity, storming and capturing the enemy's fortified line, with some four thousand prisoners and twenty cannon. The captures included nearly all of Major-General Edward Johnson's division, together with Johnson himself and General George H. Steuart.

It is not part of my plan to go into detailed description of all the battles of this campaign, but rather to dwell on the incidents and deeds which impressed me most deeply at the moment. In the Battle of Spottsylvania, a terrific struggle, with many dramatic features, there is nothing I remember more distinctly than a little scene in General Grant's tent between him and General Johnson. I was at Grant's headquarters when General Johnson was brought in a prisoner. He was a West Pointer and had been a captain in the old army before secession, and was an important officer in the Confederate service, having distinguished himself in the Valley in 1863, and at Gettysburg. Grant had not seen him since they had been in Mexico together. The two men shook hands cordially, and at once began a brisk conversation, which was very interesting to me, because nothing was said in it on the subject in which they were both most interested just then that is, the fight that was going on, and the surprise that Hancock had effected. It was the past alone of which they talked.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."

The Hampton Roads Conference

By Alexander H. Stephens.

STEPHENS, whose account of the Hampton Roads Conference, February 3, 1865, appears in his "Constitutional View of the War Between the States," Was, as Vice-President of the Confederacy, head of the Confederate Commission that met President Lincoln and Secretary Seward to confer upon terms of peace. His Confederate associates were Senator Robert M. T. Hunter and Assistant Secretary of War John A. Campbell.

The conference was brought about primarily by Francis P. Blair, Who fancied that the war might be brought to a close and the country reunited by arranging for joint action of the Federal and Confederate armies against Maximilian in Mexico. During the parley, which lasted four hours on board the vessel River Queen, Lincoln expressed himself in favor of the Federal Government paying a fair indemnity to former slave-owners, but declined to modify his Emancipation Proclamation. No agreement was reached.

THE interview took place in the saloon of the steamer, on board of which were Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward, and which lay at anchor near Fortress Monroe. The Commissioners were conducted into the saloon first. Soon after, Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward entered. After usual salutations on the part of those who were previously acquainted, and introductions of the others who had never met before, conversation was immediately opened by the revival of reminiscences and associations of former days.

With this introduction I said in substance: Well, Mr. President, is there no way of putting an end to the present trouble, and bringing about a restoration of the general good feeling and harmony then existing between the different States and sections of the country?

Mr. Lincoln in reply said, in substance, that there was but one way that he knew of, and that was for those who were resisting the laws of the Union to cease that resistance. All the trouble came from an armed resistance against the national authority.

But, said I, is there no other question that might divert the attention of both parties, for a time, from the questions involved in their present strife, until the passions on both sides might cool, when they would be in better temper to come to an amicable and proper adjustment of those points of difference out of which the present lamentable collision of arms has arisen? Is there no continental question, said I, which might thus temporarily engage their attention? We have been induced to believe that there is.

Is there not now such a continental question in which all the parties engaged in our present war feel a deep and similar interest? I allude, of course, to Mexico, and what is called the Monroe Doctrine, the principles of which are directly involved in the contest now waging there. From the tone of leading Northern papers and from public speeches of prominent men, as well as from other sources, we are under the impression that the administration at Washington is decidedly opposed to the establishment of an empire in Mexico by France and is desirous to prevent it.

Could not both parties then, said I, in our contest come to an understanding and agreement to postpone their present strife by a suspension of hostilities between themselves, until this principle is maintained in behalf of Mexico ; and might it not, when successfully sustained there, naturally, and would it not almost inevitably, lead to a peaceful and harmonious solution of their own difficulties?

The conversation was again diverted from that view of the subject by Mr. Lincoln. He repeated that he could not entertain a proposition for an armistice on any terms, while the great and vital question of reunion was disposed of. That was the first question to be settled.

Judge Campbell now renewed his inquiry of how restoration was to take place, supposing that the Confederate States were consenting to it?

Mr. Lincoln replied : By disbanding their armies and permitting the national authorities to resume their functions.

Mr. Lincoln said that so far as the Confiscation Acts, and other penal acts, were concerned, their enforcement was left entirely with him, and on that point he was perfectly willing and explicit, and on his assurance perfect reliance might be placed. He should exercise the power of the Executive with the utmost liberality. He went on to say that he would be willing to be taxed to remunerate the Southern people for their slaves. He believed the people of the North were as responsible for slavery as the people of the South, and if the war should then cease, with the voluntary abolition of slavery by the States, he should be in favor, individually, of the Government paying a fair indemnity for the loss to the owners. He said he believed this feeling had an extensive existence at the North. He knew some who were in favor of an appropriation as high as four hundred millions of dollars for this purpose.

Mr. Seward said, that the Northern people were weary of the war. They desired peace and a restoration of harmony, and he believed would be willing to pay as an indemnity for the slaves what would be required to continue the war, but stated no amount.

I then said : I wish, Mr. President, you would re-consider the subject of an armistice on the basis which has been suggested. Great questions, as well as vast interests are involved in it.

Well, said he, as he was taking my hand for a fare- well leave, and with a peculiar manner very characteristic of him : Well, Stephens, I will reconsider it, but I do not think my mind will change, but I will reconsider.

The two parties then took formal and friendly leave of each other, Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward withdrawing first from the saloon together.

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."

The Disbanding Of The Federal Army

By James G. Blaine.

AT the time the Federal army was disbanded in 1855, Blaine was a member of Congress from Maine, to which body he was elected in 1862, serving seven successive terms. This account is taken from his "Twenty Years in Congress."

Blaine was a native of Pennsylvania, where he graduated from Washington College in 1847, subsequently becoming a Maine newspaper editor, and in 1858 was a member of the Maine Legislature. Nominated for the Presidency by the Republican National Convention of 1884, he was defeated by Grover Cleveland.

The number of Federal soldiers of official Civil War record was 2,666,999. Federal casualties numbered 359,528; 110,070 men were killed in action or died of wounds, and 249,458 died from disease, accident or other causes. Enrolled in the Confederate armies were about 500,000 men. Their entire loss in killed and wounded was less than 100,000.

THE wonder excited by the raising of the vast army which saved the Union from destruction was even surpassed by the wonder excited by its prompt and peaceful dissolution. On the day that the task of disbandment was undertaken, the Army of the United States bore upon its rolls the names of one million five hundred and sixteen men (1,000,516). The killed, and those who had previously retired on account of wounds and sickness and from the expiration of shorter terms of service, aggregated, after making due allowance for reenlistments of the same persons, at least another million. The living among these had retired gradually during the war, and had resumed their old avocations, or, in the great demand for workmen created by the war itself, had found new employment. But with the close of hostilities many industries which had been created by the demands of war ceased, and thousands of men were thrown out of employment. The disbandment of the Volunteer Army would undoubtedly add hundreds of thousands to this number, and thus still further overstock and embarrass the labor market. The prospect was not encouraging, and many judicious men feared the result.

Happily all anticipations of evil proved groundless. By an instinct of self-support and self-adjustment, that great body of men who left the military service during the latter half of the year 1865 and early in the year 1866 reentered civil life with apparent contentment and even with certain advantages. Their experience as soldiers, so far from unfitting them for the duties and callings of an era of Peace, seem rather to have proved an admirable school, and to have given them habits of promptness and punctuality, order and neatness, which added largely to their efficiency in whatever field they were called to labor. After the Continental Army was dissolved, its members were found to be models of industry and intelligence in all the walks of life. The successful mechanics, the thrifty tradesmen, the well-to-do farmers in the old thirteen States were found, in great proportion, to have held a commission or carried a musket in the Army of the Revolution. They were, moreover, the strong pioneers who settled the first tier of States to the westward, and laid the solid foundation which assured progress and prosperity to their descendants. Their success as civil magistrates, as legislators, as executives was not less marked and meritorious than their illustrious service in war. The same cause brought the same result a century later in men of the same blood fighting with equal valor the same battle of constitutional liberty. The inspiration of a great cause does not fail to ennoble the humblest of those who do battle in its defense. Those who stood in the ranks of the Union Army have established this truth by the twenty years of honorable life through which they have passed since their patriotic service was crowned with victory.

The officers who led the Union Army throughout all the stages of the civil conflict were in the main young men. This feature has been a distinguishing mark in nearly all the wars in which the American people have taken part, and with a few notable exceptions has been the rule in the leading military struggles of the world. Alexander the Great died in his thirty-second year. Caesar entered upon the conquest of Gaul at forty. Frederick the Great was the leading commander of Europe at thirty-three. Napoleon and Wellington, born the same year, fought their last battle at forty-six years of age. On the exceptional side Marlborough's greatest victories were won when he was nearly sixty (though he had been brilliantly distinguished at twenty-two), and in our own day the most skillful campaign in Europe was under the direction of Von Moltke when he was in the seventieth year of his age.

General Grant won his campaign of the Tennessee, and fought the battles of Henry, Donelson, and Shiloh when he was thirty-eight years of age. Sherman entered upon his onerous work in the southwest when he was forty-one, and accomplished the march to the sea when he was forty-four. Thomas began his splendid career in Kentucky when he was forty-three, and fought the critical and victorious battle of Nashville when he was forty-six. Sheridan was but thirty-three when he confirmed a reputation, already enviable, by his great campaign in 1864 in the Shenandoah Valley. Meade won the decisive battle of Gettysburg when he was forty-seven. McClellan was but thirty-five when he succeeded General Scott in command of the army. McDowell was forty-five when he fought the first battle of magnitude in the war. Buell was forty-two when he joined his forces with Grant's army on the second day's fight at Shiloh. Pope was scarcely over forty when he attained the highest credit for his success in the southwest. Hancock was forty-one when he proved himself one of the most brilliant commanders in the army by his superb bearing on the field of Spottsylvania. Hooker was forty-six when he assumed command of the Army of the Potomac.

Among the officers who volunteered from civil life the success of young men as commanders was not less marked than among the graduates of West Point.

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."

The Peninsular Campaign

By General George B. McClellan.

SUCCEEDING Winfield Scott as commander of the Union armies, in November, 1861, McClellan spent the winter reorganizing and drilling his forces preparatory to conducting the Peninsular Campaign and the taking of Richmond. Instead of heeding Lincoln, however, and moving steadily on Richmond, McClellan began a scientific siege of Yorktown, as the first step in the campaign he here outlines to Secretary Stanton.

The differences between Lincoln and McClellan are clearly shown in the letter that follows from the President to the General, McClellan having protested Lincoln's action in holding back 40,000 men under McDowell for the protection of Washington City. Although Lee regarded McClellan as the ablest commander whom he met in the war, his faults as a commander in the field were flagrant. His ability to plan was greater than it was to strike. As a result he was superseded in the chief command of the Union armies by General Halleck, in July, 1862.

HON. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

Sir, I have the honor to submit the following notes on the proposed operations of the active portion of the Army of the Potomac.

The proposed plan of campaign is to assume Fort Monroe as the first base of operations, taking the line by Yorktown and West Point upon Richmond as the line of operations, Richmond being the objective point. It is assumed that the fall of Richmond involves that of Norfolk and the whole of Virginia; also that we shall fight a decisive battle between West Point and Richmond, to give which battle the rebels will concentrate all their available forces, understanding, as they will, that it involves the fate of their cause. It therefore follows :

1st. That we should collect all our available forces and operate upon adjacent lines, maintaining perfect communication between our lines.

2d. That no time should be lost in reaching the field of battle.

The advantages of the Peninsula between the York and James Rivers are too obvious to need explanation. It is also clear that West Point should as soon as possible be reached and be our main depot, that we may have the shortest line of land transportation for our supplies and the use of the York River.

There are two methods of reaching this point.

1st. By moving directly from Fort Monroe as a base, and trusting to the roads for our supplies, at the same time landing a strong corps as near Yorktown as possible, in order to turn the rebel lines of defense south of Yorktown, then to reduce Yorktown and Gloucester, by a siege in all probability, involving a delay of weeks perhaps.

2d. To make a combined naval and land attack upon Yorktown, the first object of the campaign. This leads to the most rapid and decisive results. To accomplish this the navy should at once concentrate upon the York River all their available and most powerful batteries. Its reduction should not, in that case, require many hours. A strong corps would be pushed up the York, under cover of the navy, directly upon West Point, immediately upon the fall of Yorktown, and we could at once establish our new base of operations at a distance of some twenty-five miles from Richmond, with every facility for developing and bringing into play the whole of our available force on either or both banks of the James.

It is impossible to urge too strongly the absolute necessity of the cooperation of the navy, as a part of this programme; without it the operations may be prolonged for many weeks, and we may be forced to carry in front several strong positions, which, by their aid, could be turned without serious loss of either time or men.

It is also of first importance to bear in mind the fact already alluded to, that the capture of Richmond necessarily involves the prompt fall of Norfolk; while an operation against Norfolk, if successful, as the beginning of the campaign, facilitates the reduction of Richmond merely by the demoralization of the rebel troops involved, and that after the fall of Norfolk we should be obliged to undertake the capture of Richmond by the same means which would have accomplished it in the beginning, having meanwhile afforded the rebels ample time to perfect their defensive arrangements, for they could well know from the moment the Army of the Potomac changed its base to Fort Monroe that Richmond must be its ultimate object.

It may be summed up in few words, that, for the prompt success of this campaign, it is absolutely necessary that the navy should at once throw its whole available force, its most powerful vessels, against Yorktown. There is the most important point there the knot to be cut. An immediate decision upon the subject matter of this communication is highly desirable, and seems called for by the exigencies of the occasion.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your ob't serv't,

GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, Major General.

Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, Theological Seminary, Va., March 19, 1862.

THE MOVEMENT TO THE PENINSULA THE council, composed of four corps commanders, organized by the President of the United States, at its meeting on the 13th of March, adopted Fort Monroe as the base of operations for the movement of the Army of the Potomac upon Richmond.

For the prompt and successful execution of the projected operation, it was regarded by all as necessary that the whole of the four corps should be employed, with at least the addition of ten thousand men drawn from the forces in the vicinity of Fortress Monroe: that position and its dependencies being regarded as amply protected by the naval force in its neighborhood, and the advance of the main army up the Peninsula, so that it could be safely left with a small garrison.

In addition to the land forces, the cooperation of the navy was desired in the projected attack upon the batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester, as well as in controlling the York and James Rivers for the protection of our flanks, and the use of transports, bringing supplies to the army. With these expectations, and for reasons stated elsewhere in this report, my original plan of moving by Urbana and West Point was abandoned, and the line with Fortress Monroe as a base adopted. In the arrangements for the transportation of the army to the Peninsula by water, the vessels were originally ordered to rendezvous mainly at Annapolis, but upon the evacuation of Manassas and the batteries of the lower Potomac by the enemy, it became more convenient to embark the troops and material at Alexandria, and orders to that effect were at once given.

In making the preliminary arrangements for the movement, it was determined that the First Corps (Gen. McDowell's) should move as a unit, first, and effect a landing either at the Sand-Box, some four miles south of Yorktown, in order to turn all the enemy's defenses at Ship Point, Howard's Bridge, Big Bethel, etc., or else, should existing circumstances render it preferable, land on the Gloucester side of York River, and move on West Point.

The transports, however, arrived slowly and few at a time. In order, therefore, to expedite matters, I decided to embark the army by divisions as transports arrived, keeping army corps together as much as possible, and to collect the troops at Fortress Monroe. In determining the order of embarkation, convenience and expedition were especially consulted, except that the First Corps was to embark last, as I intended to move it in mass to its point of disembarkation, and to land it on either bank of the York, as might then be determined.

Washington, April 9th, 1862.

Major-General McClellan:

My Dear Sir, Your dispatches, complaining that you are not properly sustained, while they do not offend me, do pain me very much.

Blenker's division was withdrawn from you before you left here, and you know the pressure under which I did it, and, as I thought, acquiesced in it, certainly without reluctance.

After you left I ascertained that less than twenty thousand unorganized men, without a single battery, were all you designed to be left for the defense of Washington and Manassas Junction; and part of this even was to go to General Hooker's old position. General Banks' old corps, once designed for Manassas Junction, was diverted and tied up on the line of Winchester and Strasburg, and could not leave it without again exposing the upper Potomac, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This presented (or would present, when McDowell and Sumner should be gone) a great temptation to the enemy to turn back from the Rappahannock and sack Washington. My explicit order that Washington should, by the judgment of all the commanders of army corps, be left entirely secure, had been neglected. It was precisely this that drove me to detain McDowell.

I do not forget that I was satisfied with your arrangement to leave Banks at Manassas Junction; but when that arrangement was broken up and nothing was substituted for it, of course I was constrained to substitute something for it myself. And allow me to ask, "Do you really think I should permit the line from Richmond via Manassas Junction to this city to be entirely open, except what resistance could be presented by twenty thousand unorganized troops?" This is a question which the country will not allow me to evade.

There is a curious mystery about the numbers of the troops now with you. When I telegraphed you on the 6th, saying you had over a hundred thousand with you, I had just obtained from the Secretary of War a statement, taken, as he said, from your own returns, making 108,000 then with you and en route to you. You now say you will have but 85,000 when all en route to you shall have reached you. How can the discrepancy of 23,000 be accounted for?

As to General Wood's command, I understand it is doing for you precisely what a like number of your own would have to do, if that command was away.

I suppose the whole force which has gone forward for you is with you by this time, and if so, I think it is the precise time to strike a blow. By delay the enemy will relatively gain upon you that is, he will gain faster, by fortifications and reenforcements, than you can by reenforcements alone.

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."

How The Emancipation Proclamation Was Drafted

By Francis C. Carpenter.

IN his "Six Months in the White House with Abraham Lincoln," Carpenter, a Civil War portrait painter, gives this account of the manner in which the emancipation proclamation was drafted. Carpenter was a guest in the White House for the purpose of painting his celebrated "Signing of the Emancipation Proclamation."

Following the Battle of Antietam, September 22, 1862, Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation, decreeing the emancipation, on January 1, 1863, of all' slaves in the States which should till then continue in rebellion.

Before signing the final draft, Lincoln had been shaking hands with a procession of visitors, and his hand was trembling. He remarked to Seward that if his signature wavered, "They will say I was afraid to sign it." Directly, however, he took up a pen and wrote his name firmly and clearly, observing quizzically, Seward, if I am to be remembered in history at all, it will probably be in connection with this piece of paper."

THE appointed hour found me at the well-remembered door of the official chamber that door watched daily, with so many conflicting emotions of hope and fear, by the anxious throng regularly gathered there. The President had preceded me, and was already deep in Acts of Congress, with which the writing-desk was strewed, awaiting his signature. He received me pleasantly, giving me a seat near his own armchair; and after having read Mr. Lovejoy's note [of introduction], he took off his spectacles, and said, "Well, Mr. C--, we will turn you in loose here, and try to give you a good chance to work out your idea." Then, without paying much attention to the enthusiastic expression of my ambitious desire and purpose, he proceeded to give me a detailed account of the history and issue of the great proclamation.

"It had got to be," said he, "midsummer, 1862. Things had gone on from bad to worse, until I felt that we had reached the end of our rope on the plan of operations we had been pursuing; that we had about played our last card, and must change our tactics, or lose the game! I now determined upon the adoption of the emancipation policy; and, without consultation with, or the knowledge of the Cabinet, I prepared the original draft of the proclamation, and, after much anxious thought, called a Cabinet meeting upon the subject. This was the last of July, or the first part of the month of August, 1862." (The exact date he did not remember.) "This Cabinet meeting took place, I think, upon a Saturday. All were present, excepting Mr. Blair, the Postmaster-General, who was absent at the opening of the discussion, but came in subsequently. I said to the Cabinet that I had resolved upon this step, and had not called them together to ask their advice, but to lay the subject-matter of a proclamation before them; suggestions as to which would be in order, after they had heard it read.

"Mr. Lovejoy," said he, "was in error when he informed you that it excited no comment, excepting on the part of Secretary Seward. Various suggestions were offered. Secretary Chase wished the language stronger in reference to the arming of the blacks. Mr. Blair, after he came in, deprecated the policy on the ground that it would cost the Administration the fall elections. Nothing, however, was offered that I had not already fully anticipated and settled in my own mind, until Secretary Seward spoke. He said in substance: 'Mr. President, I approve of the proclamation, but I question the expediency of its issue at this juncture. The depression of the public mind, consequent upon our repeated reverses, is so great that I fear the effect of so important a step. It may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help; the government stretching forth its hands to Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the government.' His idea," said the President, "was that it would be considered our last shriek, on the retreat." (This was his precise expression.) "'Now,' continued Mr. Seward, while I approve the measure, I suggest, sir, that you postpone its issue, until you can give it to the country supported by military success, instead of issuing it, as would be the case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war!' "

Mr. Lincoln continued: "The wisdom of the view of the Secretary of State struck me with very great force. It was an aspect of the case that, in all my thought upon the subject, I had entirely overlooked. The result was that I put the draft of the proclamation aside, as you do your sketch for a picture, waiting for a victory. From time to time I added or changed a line, touching it up here and there, anxiously watching the progress of events. Well, the next news we had was of Pope's disaster, at Bull Run. Things looked darker than ever. Finally, came the week of the Battle of Antietam. I determined to wait no longer. The news came, I think, on Wednesday, that the advantage was on our side. I was then staying at the Soldiers' Home (three miles out of Washington). Here I finished writing the second draft of the preliminary proclamation; came up on Saturday; called the Cabinet together to hear it, and it was published the following Monday."

At the final meeting of September 20th, another interesting incident occurred in connection with Secretary Seward. The President had written the important part of the proclamation in these words :

"That, on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free ; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize the freedom of such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom." "When I finished reading this paragraph," resumed Mr. Lincoln, "Mr. Seward stopped me, and said, 'I think, Mr. President, that you should insert after the word "recognize," in that sentence, the words "and maintain." ' I replied that I had already fully considered the import of that expression in this connection, but I had not introduced it, because it was not my way to promise what I was not entirely sure that I could perform, and I was not prepared to say that I thought we were exactly able to 'maintain' this.

"But," said he, "Seward insisted that we ought to take this ground; and the words finally went in!"

"It is a somewhat remarkable fact, he subsequently remarked, "that there were just one hundred days between the dates of the two proclamations issued upon the 22d of September and the 1st of January. I had not made the calculation at the time."

Having concluded this interesting statement, the President then proceeded to show me the various positions occupied by himself and the different members of the Cabinet, on the occasion of the first meeting. "As nearly as I remember," said he, "I sat near the head of the table ; the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of War were here, at my right hand; the others were grouped at the left."

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."

The Capture Of Fort Donelson

From the Chicago Tribune.

UNDER the editorship of Joseph Medill, the Chicago Tribune became a leading Republican newspaper in the West, and its correspondence from the front constituted notable Civil War journalism. This account of the capture of Fort Donelson which, with Fort Henry, was the most important Confederate fortification in the first line of defense in the West, is deficient in not stating that General Charles Ferguson Smith led the decisive charge on the Union left which turned the tide of battle.

The engagement here recounted took place February 14-17, 1862, and was reported in the Chicago Weekly Tribune, of February 20. It was at this battle that the Confederate General, Buckner, proposed an armistice to the Union General, Grant, and the appointment of a commission to settle upon terms of capitulation. Grant made his famous reply, "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works."

AFTER the capture of Fort Henry, General Grant as soon as possible moved across the twelve mile strip of land between the rivers and invested the place by throwing McClernand's division upon the right, at the creek extending his pickets down to the river beyond. General Wallace occupied the center, while General Smith closed up all communication with the outside world on the North. Our forces occupied a range of hills almost one mile distant from the enemy's outer works.

The army made no movement on Friday [February 14] of consequence, but waited any demonstration the rebels might make. They were elated with the repulse of the gunboats, and undoubtedly concluded that, they would either repulse the army, or if not that they would cut their way through and escape to Clarksville.

Prepared to do either, as circumstances might decide, at six o'clock on Saturday morning they appeared in solid column upon the road, which seems partly parallel to the creek, at McClernand's right. It was a few minutes past six when our pickets exchanged shots with their skirmishers.

Immediately the whole division was astir, waiting for what might turn up. As the rebels neared our forces they deployed and formed in line of battle, making the most furious attack upon the right; also sending their Mississippi sharp shooters, as one of the captains, now a prisoner, informed me, to the left to throw the 11th and 20th regiments into confusion.

It was about seven o'clock when the firing began on the right, and in a few minutes it was running like a train of powder on a floor, along the entire line. The rebels advanced with determination not in a regular line, but in the guerilla mode availing themselves of the trees and the undulations of the ground. Their design was to cut the division at the center, turn the regiments on the right composing Oglesby's brigade up against the creek and capture them. But their movements to that end were foiled. The regiments at the center being pressed, after standing a hot fire, begun gradually to fall back, which rendered it necessary for Oglesby to do the same as he separated, from the division, and the entire right wing of the division accordingly swung back, slowly at first.

And now occurred one of those wonders common in warfare. The enemy pressing hard upon our forces, General McClernand sent Major Brayman for reenforcements. He rode rapidly to the rear and came upon Colonel Cruft's brigade, who moved forward, crossed the road, and came up in rear of the 30th and 31st. These regiments were lying down and firing over the crest of a ridge. As Colonel Cruft came in rear of them they rose to their feet, not knowing whether the force in their rear was friend or foe. The 25th Kentucky supposing them to be rebels, poured in a volley, which did terrible execution. It is not possible to ascertain how many fell under the fire, but it was sufficient to throw the entire division into disorder, and at once there was almost a panic.

The enemy improved the opportunity, and advanced upon Dresser's and Schwartz's batteries, capturing five guns, taking possession of General McClernand's headquarters, and driving our forces nearly a mile and a half. They had opened the gap; and not only that, but had in the joust driven us, captured five guns, and had reason to feel that the day was theirs.

But now they committed a fatal mistake. Instead of adhering to the original plan to escape, they resolved to follow up their advantage by pursuit, cut us up and capture the entire army.

The fight had lasted nearly four hours, and McClernand's division was exhausted; besides they were out of ammunition.

At this juncture General Wallace's division was thrown in front. They took up a position on a ridge, with Captain Taylor's battery in the center at the road, commanding it down the ridge to the bottom of a ravine. McClernand's division was making up its scattered ranks, ready to support Wallace. It was now just noon nearly one o'clock. The rebels formed upon the ridge which General McClernand had occupied through the night. They were flushed with success and descended the ridge with the expectation of routing the Yankees. As they came in range, Taylor opened upon them with shell, grape and canister. They quailed before it, advanced at a slow pace, came to a halt, and as the infantry opened, began to fall back. Wallace improved the moment, moved on, drove them before him, regained the lost ground, recovered McClernand's tent and occupied the old ground.

The rebels might have escaped when Wallace was driving them back, but by some fatuity neglected the opportunity and were again boxed up. This made two distinct fights, but the day was not thus to close. There was to be a second display of coolness, daring and determined bravery of Union troops, fighting under the Stars and Stripes, resulting in a signal victory.

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."

The Capture Of New Orleans

By Captain David G. Farragut

WITH characteristic modesty W Captain, later Admiral, Farragut, reports to Gideon Weller, Secretary of the United States Navy, the capture of New Orleans by a Union squadron on April 27, 1862. His report, given here, was dated May 6, on board the flagship Hartford, anchored off New Orleans. Farragut, commanding a blockading fleet of 17 vessels, cooperated with a mortar flotilla of 25 vessels under Commander David G. Porter in running by Forts Jackson and St. Philip, which, facing each other across the Mississippi, guarded the approach to the city. The feat was accomplished under a terrific fire, in which Farragut's flagship, the Hartford, was badly damaged. With the loss of only one vessel, as here recounted, the Union fleet annihilated a Confederate flotilla of 13 gunboats and 2 ironclads. Immediately after Farragut took formal command of New Orleans, the city was occupied by Federal troops under General B. F. Butler.

SIR : I have the honor herewith to forward my report, in detail, of the battle of New Orleans. On the 23d of April I made all my arrangements for the attack on, and passage of, Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

Every vessel was as well prepared as the ingenuity of her commander and officers could suggest, both for the preservation of life and of the vessel, and perhaps there is not on record such a display of ingenuity as has been evinced in this little squadron. The first was by the engineer of the "Richmond," Mr. Moore, by suggesting that the sheet cables be stopped up and down on the sides in the line of the engines, which was immediately adopted by all the vessels. Then each commander made his own arrangements for stopping the shot from penetrating the boilers or machinery, that might come in forward or abaft, by hammocks, coal, bags of ashes, bags of sand, clothes-bags, and, in fact, every device imaginable. The bulwarks were lined with hammocks by some, with splinter nettings made of ropes by others. Some rubbed their vessels over with mud, to make their ships less visible, and some whitewashed their decks, to make things more visible by night during the fight, all of which you will find mentioned in the reports of the commanders. In the afternoon I visited each ship, in order to know positively that each commander understood my orders for the attack, and to see that all was in readiness. I had looked to their efficiency before. Every one appeared to understand his orders well, and looked forward to the conflict with firmness, but with anxiety, as it was to be in the night, or at two o'clock A. M.

I had previously sent Captain Bell, with the petard man, with Lieutenant Commanding Crosby, in the "Pinola," and Lieutenant Commanding Caldwell, in the "Itasca," to break the chain which crossed the river and was supported by eight hulks, which were strongly moored. This duty was not thoroughly performed, in consequence of the failure to ignite the petards with the galvanic battery, and the great strength of the current. Still it was a success, and, under the circumstances, a highly meritorious one.

The vessel boarded by Lieutenant Commanding Caldwell appears to have had her chains so secured that they could be cast loose, which was done by that officer, thereby making an opening sufficiently large for the ships to pass through. It was all done under a heavy fire and at a great hazard to the vessel, for the particulars of which I refer you to Captain Bell's report. Upon the night preceding the attack, however, I dispatched Lieutenant Commanding Caldwell to make an examination, and to see that the passage was still clear, and to make me a signal to that effect, which he did at an early hour. The enemy commenced sending down fire-rafts and lighting their fires on the shore opposite the chain about the same time, which drew their fire on Lieutenant Commanding Caldwell, but without injury. At about five minutes of two o'clock A. M., April 24th, signal was made to get under way (two ordinary red lights, so as not to attract the attention of the enemy), but owing to the great difficulty in purchasing their anchors, the "Pensacola" and some of the other vessels were not under way until half-past three. The enemy's lights, while they discovered us to them, were, at the same time, guides to us. We soon passed the barrier chains, the right column taking Fort St. Philip, and the left Fort Jackson. The fire became general, the smoke dense, and we had nothing to aim at but the flash of their guns; it was very difficult to distinguish friends from foes. Captain Porter had, by arrangement, moved up to a certain point on the Fort Jackson side with his gunboats, and I had assigned the same post to Captain Swartwout, in the "Portsmouth," to engage the water batteries to the southward and eastward of Fort Jackson, while his mortar vessels poured a terrific fire of shells into it. I discovered a fire-raft coming down upon us, and in attempting to avoid it ran the ship on shore, and the ram "Manassas," which I had not seen, lay on the opposite side of it, and pushed it down upon us. Our ship was soon on fire half-way up to her tops, but we backed off, and, through the good organization of our fire department, and the great exertions of Captain Wainwright and his first lieutenant, officers, and crew, the fire was extinguished. In the meantime our battery was never silent, but poured its missiles of death into Fort St. Philip, opposite to which we had got by this time, and it was silenced, with the exception of a gun now and then. By this time the enemy's gunboats, some thirteen in number, besides two iron-clad rams, the "Manassas" and "Louisiana," had become more visible. We took them in hand, and, in the course of a short time, destroyed eleven of them. We were now fairly past the forts, and the victory was ours, but still here and there a gunboat made resistance. Two of them had attacked the "Varuna," which vessel, by her greater speed, was much in advance of us; they ran into her and caused her to sink, but not before she had destroyed her adversaries, and their wrecks now lie side by side, a monument to the gallantry of Captain Boggs, his officers, and crew. It was a kind of guerilla; they were fighting in all directions. Captains Bailey and Bell, who were in command of the first and second divisions of gunboats, were as active in rendering assistance in every direction as lay in their power. Just as the scene appeared to be closing, the ram "Manassas" was seen coming up under full speed to attack us. I directed Captain Smith, in the "Mississippi," to turn and run her down; the order was instantly obeyed, by the "Mississippi" turning and going at her at full speed. Just as we expected to see the ram annihilated, when within fifty yards of each other, she put her helm hard aport, dodged the "Mississippi," and ran ashore. The "Mississippi" poured two broadsides into her, and sent her drifting down the river a total wreck. Thus closed our morning's fight.

The Department will perceive that after the organization and arrangements had been made, and we had fairly entered into the fight, the density of the smoke from guns and fire-rafts, and the scenes passing on board our own ship and around us (for it was as if the artillery of heaven were playing upon the earth), it was impossible for the Flag-Officer to see how each vessel was conducting itself, and can only judge by the final results and their special reports, which are herewith enclosed; but I feel that I can say with truth that it has rarely been the lot of a commander to be supported by officers of more indomitable courage or higher professional merit.

It now became me to look around for my little fleet, and to my regret I found that three were missing the "Itasca," "Winona," and "Kennebec." Various were the speculations as to their fate, whether they had been sunk on the passage or had put back. I therefore determined immediately to send Captain Boggs, whose vessel was now sunk, through the Quarantine bayou, around to Commander Porter, telling him of our safe arrival, and to demand the surrender of the forts, and endeavor to get some tidings of the missing vessels. I also sent a dispatch by him to General Butler, informing him that the way was clear for him to land his forces through the Quarantine bayou, in accordance with previous arrangements, and that I should leave gunboats there to protect him against the enemy, who, I now perceived, had three or four gunboats left at the forts the "Louisiana," an iron-clad battery of sixteen guns ; the "McCrea,"very similar in appearance to one of our gunboats, and armed very much in the same way; the "Defiance," and a river steamer transport.

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."

Beauregard Reports The Fall Of Fort Sumter

His Official Communication to Jefferson Davis.

GENERAL BEAUREGARD, who made this official report to President Jefferson Davis, had taken command of the Confederate forces at Charleston, South Carolina, on resigning from the superintend- ency of West Point, February 20, 1861. His was the distinction of having thus begun the Civil War. Beauregard had graduated at West Point in 1838. He distinguished himself in the Mexican War, and prior to the Civil War had been captain of engineers in fortifying Mobile and New Orleans.

There is some discrepancy between Beauregard's statement, in this report, that Major Anderson had refused "to designate the time when he would evacuate Fort Sumter, and to agree meanwhile not to use his guns against us," and Anderson's pledge to "evacuate Fort Sumter by noon on the 15th instant (April, 1861), and I will not in the meantime open my fires upon pour forces, unless compelled to do so by some hostile act . . ."

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following summary statement of the circumstances of the surrender of Fort Sumter :

On the refusal of Major Anderson to engage, in compliance with my demand, to designate the time when he would evacuate Fort Sumter, and to agree meanwhile not to use his guns against us, at 3:20 o'clock in the morning of the 12th instant I gave him formal notice that within one hour my batteries would open on him. In consequence of some circumstance of delay the bombardment was not begun precisely at the appointed moment, but at 4:30 o'clock the signal gun was fired, and within twenty minutes all our batteries were in full play. There was no response from Fort Sumter until about 7 o'clock, when the first shot from the enemy was discharged against our batteries on Cummings Point.

By 8 o'clock the action became general, and throughout the day was maintained by spirit on both sides. Our guns were served with skill and energy. The effect was visible in the impressions made on the walls of Fort Sumter. From our mortar batteries shells were thrown with such precision and rapidity that it soon became impossible for the enemy to employ his gun "en barbette," of which several were dismounted. The engagement was continued without any circumstance of special note until nightfall before which time the fire from Sumter had evidently slackened. Operations on our side were sustained throughout the night, provoking, however, only a feeble response.

On the morning of the 13th the action was prosecuted with renewed vigor, and about 7:30 o'clock it was discovered our shells had set fire to the barracks in the fort. Speedily volumes of smoke indicated an extensive conflagration, and apprehending some terrible calamity to the garrison, I immediately dispatched an offer of assistance to Major Anderson which, however, with grateful acknowledgments, he declined. Meanwhile, being informed about 2 o'clock that a white flag was displayed from Sumter, I dispatched two of my aides to Major Anderson with terms of evacuation. In recognition of the gallantry exhibited by the garrison I cheerfully agreed that on surrendering the fort the commanding officer might salute his flag.

By 8 o'clock the terms of evacuation were definitely accepted. Major Anderson having expressed a desire to communicate with the United States vessels lying off the harbor, with a view to arranging for the transportation of his command to some port in the United States, one of his officers, accompanied by Captain Hartstene and three of my aides, was permitted to visit the officer in command of the squadron to make provision for that object. Because of an unavoidable delay the formal transfer of the fort to our possession did not take place until 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the 14th instant. At that hour, the place having been evacuated by the United States garrison, our troops occupied it, and the Confederate flag was hoisted on the ramparts of Sumter with a salute from the various batteries.

The steamer "Isabel" having been placed at the service of Major Anderson, he and his command were transferred to the United States vessels off the harbor.

I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Headquarters Provisional Army, C. S. A.,

Charleston, S. C.,

April 16, 1861.

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."

The Evacuation And Fall Of Richmond

By Horace Greeley and Edward A. Pollard.

POLLARD, whose account of the evacuation of the Confederate capital on April 2, 1865, is given in Greeley's "American Conflict," was an editorial writer on the Richmond Examiner and an eye-witness of the scene here described. Soon after the fall of Richmond he was captured while attempting to run the blockade on his way to England, and was imprisoned for eight months in Fort Warren in Boston.

By order of General Ewell, the Confederate troops, before leaving Richmond, set fire to the warehouses and destroyed a great part of the city. The Federal forces entered the city on the day after the evacuation.

Some months before these events, Greeley unofficially represented President Lincoln on a mission to Canada to confer with Confederate agents on the subject of peace. The conference proved as fruitless as did the more famous one at Hampton Roads.

WHILE Petersburg was still held by the Confederate army, Lee saw that it could not be held much longer. His heavy losses by this time exceeding 10,000 men and the utter demolition of his right, rendered it morally certain that to hold on was to insure the capture or destruction of his army; and well he knew that his veterans were the last hope of the Rebellion. For Grant was now at liberty to throw forward his left to Appomattox; while it was morally certain that his cavalry would soon clutch the railroad junction at Burkesville, which had now become the jugular vein of the gasping Confederacy. At 10:30 a. m. [April 2, 1865], therefore, he telegraphed to Davis in Richmond a dispatch, containing very nearly these words :

"My, lines are broken in three places. Richmond must be evacuated this evening."

That message found Mr. Davis, at 11 a. m., in church, where it was handed to him, amid an awful hush; and he immediately went quietly, soberly out never to return as President of the Confederacy. No word was spoken ; but the whole assemblage felt that the missive he had so hastily perused bore words of doom. Though the handwriting was not blazoned on the wall, it needed no Daniel to declare its import.

But no one can duly depict that last afternoon and night of Confederate rule in Richmond but an eyewitness : so let Pollard narrate for us the visible collapse and fall of the Slave Power in its chosen metropolis. After stating how, upon Mr. Davis's withdrawal from church, "the rumor was caught up in the streets that Richmond was to be evacuated, and was soon carried to the ends of the city," he proceeds :

"Men, women, and children rushed from the churches, passing from lip to lip news of the impending fall of Richmond. And yet, it was difficult to believe it. To look up to the calm, beautiful sky of that spring day, unassailed by one single noise of battle, to watch the streets, unvexed by artillery or troops, stretching away into the quiet, hazy atmosphere, and believe that the capital of the Confederacy, so peaceful, so apparently secure, was in a few hours to be the prey of the enemy, and to be wrapt in the infernal horrors of a conflagration!

"It was late in the afternoon when the signs of evacuation became apparent to the incredulous. Wagons on the streets were being hastily loaded at the departments with boxes, trunks, etc., and driven to the Danville depot. Those who had determined to evacuate with the fugitive government looked on with amazement; then, convinced of the fact, rushed to follow the government's example. Vehicles suddenly rose to a premium value that was astounding; and ten, fifteen, and even a hundred dollars, in gold or Federal currency, was offered for a conveyance. Suddenly, as if by magic, the streets became filled with men, walking as though for a wager, and behind them excited ******* with trunks, bundles, and luggage of every description. All over the city it was the same wagons, trunks, bandboxes, and their owners, a mass of hurrying fugitives, filling the streets. The banks were all open, and depositors were as busy as bees removing their specie deposits; and the directors were equally active in getting off their bullion. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of paper money was destroyed, both State and Confederate. Night came; and with it came confusion worse confounded. There was no sleep for human eyes in Richmond that night.

"The City Council had met in the evening and resolved to destroy all the liquor in the city, to avoid the disorder consequent on the temptation to drink at such a time. About the hour of midnight the work commenced, under the direction of committees of citizens in all the wards. Hundreds of barrels of liquor were rolled into the street, and the heads knocked in. The gutters ran with a liquor freshet, and the fumes filled and impregnated the air. Fine cases of bottled liquors were tossed into the street from third-story windows, and wrecked into a thousand pieces. As the work progressed, some straggling soldiers, retreating through the city, managed to get hold of a quantity of the liquor. From that moment law and order ceased to exist. Many of the stores were pillaged ; and the sidewalks were encumbered with broken glass, where the thieves had smashed the windows in their reckless haste to lay hands on the plunder within. The air was filled with wild cries of distress, or the yells of roving pillagers.

"But a more terrible element was to appear upon the scene. An order had been issued from General Ewell's headquarters to fire the four principal tobacco warehouses of the city namely, the public warehouse, situated at the head of the basin, near the Petersburg railroad depot; Shockoe warehouse, situated near the center of the city, side by side with the Gallego flour-mills ; Mayo's warehouse, and Dibrell's warehouse, on Cary Street, a square below Libby prison.

"Morning broke upon a scene such as those who witnessed it can never forget. The roar of an immense conflagration sounded in their ears; tongues of flame leapt from street to street; and in this baleful glare were to be seen, as of demons, the figures of busy plunderers, moving, pushing, rioting, through the black smoke and into the open street, bearing away every conceivable sort of plunder.

"The scene at the commissary depot, at the head of the dock, beggared description. Hundreds of government wagons were loaded with bacon, flour, and whisky, and driven off in hot haste to join the retreating army. Thronging about the depot were hundreds of men, women, and children, black and white, provided with capacious bags, baskets, tubs, buckets, tin pans, and aprons; cursing, pushing, and crowding ; awaiting the throwing open of the doors, and the order for each to help himself.

"About sunrise the doors were opened to the populace ; and a rush that almost seemed to carry the building off its foundation was made, and hundreds of thousands of pounds of bacon, flour, etc., were soon swept away by a clamorous crowd."

Our lines opposite Richmond that is, north of the James had been held since Ord's withdrawal southward, by General Godfrey Weitzel, with Kautz's division of the Twenty-fourth and Ashborne's and Thomas's divisions of the Twenty-fifth Corps, under instructions from Grant to make the utmost show of strength and purpose to assault, so as to keep the enemy here in force, while the bulk of our army should be flanking and fighting him out of Petersburg. These instructions had been faithfully, efficiently obeyed; though Longstreet, confronting Weitzel, had at length suspected the true character of Grant's strategy, and had himself, with a part of his force, moved southward to the help of Lee at Petersburg. . . . No one on our side seems to have suspected that the Confederate soldiery were even then stealthily withdrawing from their works in our front, preparatory to hastening after their comrades who had already filed hurriedly and dolefully out of the opposite portals of Richmond.

The enemy defenses appeared to have been, while manned, almost impregnable. Two separate lines of abatis, three lines of rifle-pits and earthworks the first and second connected by regular lines of redans with a fort or very strong earthwork on every elevation such were a part of the impediments which had so long kept our soldiers out of Richmond. If one of these lines had been carried, it was completely commanded by that next behind it; so that our loss while holding it must have been ten to one; while to advance and storm the next barrier must, for the moment, have involved still greater prodigality of life. Yet these works our troops had lain down the previous night expecting to assail at daybreak in the morning.

Jefferson Davis had left at 10 p. m. of Sunday. Nearly all the Confederate officials, including their members of Congress, had also taken their leave; as had William Smith, Governor of Virginia, and most of his satellites. There was no shadow of resistance offered to our occupation ; and there is no room for doubt that a large majority of all who remained in Richmond heartily welcomed our army as deliverers.

The city was of course placed under military rule. . . . The fire was extinguished so soon as possible; but not till it had burned out the very heart of Richmond, including its great warehouses, the post-offices, etc. The losses of private property by the conflagration must have amounted to many millions of dollars, since a full third of the city was destroyed. Libby prison, Castle Thunder, and the Tredegar Iron Works, were unharmed.

Before noon of that day the news of Richmond's fall had been flashed across the loyal States, and it was soon confirmed by telegrams from President Lincoln, then at City Point, and from the Secretary of War at Washington. In New York an impromptu gathering of many thousands immediately filled Wall Street, and listened, with cheers and thanksgiving to dispatches, addresses, etc. ; while the bells of Trinity and St. Paul's chimed melodiously with the general joy and praise. So in Washington and other great cities, the popular feeling of relief and gratitude found many modes of expression, wherein the readers of next day's journals detected no unmanly exaltation over the fallen, and scarcely a word of wrath or bitterness, or demanding vengeful inflictions on those whose unhallowed ambition had so long divided, so widely devastated, and so nearly destroyed, the Republic.

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."

The Battle Of Chancellorsville

By General Robert Edward Lee.

IN no battle of the Civil War was the military genius of General Lee more brilliantly displayed than at Chancellorsville, May 2-4, 1863. General Joseph Hooker had succeeded Burnside in command of the Federal Army of the Potomac, numbering 130,000 men, while Lee had less than half as many Confederates in his Army of Northern Virginia. As Lee here recounts in his official report of the battle, "Stonewall" Jackson was ordered, with 30,000 men, to make a wide detour and assault the enemy's flank. This he did, taking the Federal army by surprise, and stampeding it. However, Jackson, while in advance of his troops, was fired upon and mortally wounded by his own men, who mistook his escort for a Federal detachment. The Union loss was about 17,300, the Confederate about 12,465. Lee clearly out-generaled Hooker, and won an important victory with greatly inferior forces; but his success was clouded by the loss of Jackson.

GENERAL: After the Battle of Fredericksburg, the army remained encamped on the south side of the Rappahannock until the latter part of April. The Federal army occupied the north side of the river opposite Fredericksburg, extending to the Potomac.

At 5.30 a. m. on April 28, the enemy crossed the Rappahannock in boats near Fredericksburg and driving off the pickets on the river, proceeded to lay down a pontoon bridge a short distance below the mouth of Deep Run. Later in the forenoon another bridge was constructed about a mile below the first. A considerable force crossed on these bridges during the day, and was massed out of view under the high banks of the river.

No demonstration was made opposite any other part of our lines at Fredericksburg, and the strength of the force that had crossed and its apparent indisposition to attack indicated that the principal effort of the enemy would be made in some other quarter. This impression was confirmed by intelligence received from General Stuart that a large body of infantry and artillery was passing up the river. During the forenoon of the 29th, that officer reported that the enemy crossed in force near Kelly's Ford on the preceding evening. Later in the day he announced that a heavy column was moving from Kelly's toward Germanna Ford, on the Rapidan, and another toward Ely's Ford on that river. The routes they were pursuing after crossing the Rapidan converge near Chancellorsville, whence several roads lead to the rear of our position at Fredericksburg.

On the night of the 29th, General Anderson was directed to proceed toward Chancellorsville.

The enemy in our front near Fredericksburg continued inactive, and it was now apparent that the main attack would be made upon our flank and rear. It was, therefore, determined to leave sufficient troops to hold our lines, and with the main body of the army to give battle to the approaching column. Early's division, of Jackson's corps, and Barksdale's brigade, of McLaws' division, with part of the Reserve Artillery, under General (W. N.) Pendleton, were intrusted with the defense of our position at Fredericksburg, and, at midnight on the 30th, General McLaws marched with the rest of his command toward Chancellorsville. General Jackson followed at dawn next morning with the remaining divisions of his corps. He reached the position occupied by General Anderson at 8 a. m., and immediately began preparations to advance.

At 11 a. m. the troops moved forward upon the Plank and old Turnpike roads. . . . The enemy was soon encountered on both roads, and heavy skirmishing with infantry and artillery ensued, our troops pressing steadily forward. A strong attack upon General McLaws was repulsed with spirit by Semmes' brigade, and General Wright, by direction of General Anderson, diverging to the left of the Plank road, marched by way of the unfinished railroad from Fredericksburg to Gordonsville, and turned the enemy's right. His whole line thereupon retreated rapidly, vigorously pursued by our troops until they arrived within about 1 mile of Chancellorsville. Here the enemy had assumed a position of great natural strength, surrounded on all sides by a dense forest filled with a tangled undergrowth, in the midst of which breastworks of logs had been constructed, with trees felled in front, so as to form an almost impenetrable abatis.

It was evident that a direct attack upon the enemy would be attended with great difficulty and loss, in view of the strength of his position and his superiority of numbers. It was, therefore, resolved to endeavor to turn his right flank and gain his rear, leaving a force in front to hold him in check and conceal the movement. The execution of this plan was intrusted to Lieutenant-General Jackson with his three divisions. The commands of Generals McLaws and Anderson with the exception of Wilcox's brigade, which during the night had been ordered back to Banks' Ford, remained in front of the enemy.

Early on the morning of the 2d, General Jackson marched by the Furnace and Brock roads, his movement being effectually covered by Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry, under General Stuart in person.

After a long and fatiguing march, General Jackson's leading division, under General Rodes, reached the old turnpike, about 3 miles in rear of Chancellorsville, at 4 p. m. As the different divisions arrived, they were formed at right angles to the road Rodes in front, Trimble's division, under Brigadier-General Colston, in the second, and A. P. Hill's in the third, line.

At 6 p. m. the advance was ordered. The enemy were taken by surprise, and fled after a brief resistance. General Rodes' men pushed forward with great vigor and enthusiasm, followed closely by the second and third lines. Position after position was carried, the guns captured, and every effort of the enemy to rally defeated by the impetuous rush of our troops. In the ardor of pursuit through the thick and tangled woods, the first and second lines at last became mingled, and moved on together as one. . . . It was now dark, and General Jackson ordered the third line, under General Hill, to advance to the front, and relieve the troops of Rodes and Colston, who were completely blended and in such disorder, from their rapid advance through intricate woods and over broken ground, that it was necessary to reform them. As Hill's men moved forward, General Jackson, with his staff and escort, returning from the extreme front, met his skirmishers advancing, and in the obscurity of the night were mistaken for the enemy and fired upon. . . . General Jackson himself received a severe injury, and was borne from the field. The command devolved upon Major-General Hill. . . . General Hill was soon afterward disabled, and Major-General Stuart . . . was sent for to take command.

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."

The Death Of Stonewall Jackson

By Mary Anna Jackson (His Wife).

IT was while he was performing a brilliant military maneuver, on the evening of May 2, 1863, at the Battle of Chancellorsville that Jackson, with a small reconnoitering escort, advanced in front of his own lines and, being mistaken for a Federal officer, was fired upon by the Confederates. He was severely wounded in his left arm, which had to be amputated. To the stricken general Lee said in a message sent through a friend, "He has lost his left arm, but 1 have lost my right arm." Jackson seemed in a fair way to recover, but pneumonia set in, from which he died eight days later, as told by his widow, in "The Life and Letters of 'Stonewall' Jackson," published by Harper & Brothers.

Jackson was conspicuous not only for his military genius, but for his personal character. Like Cromwell, he blended the devoutness of the Puritan with the severity of the soldier. He never began a battle without a prayer, and after a victory publicly gave thanks to God.

GENERAL JACKSON, accompanied by a part of his staff and several couriers, advanced on the turnpike in the direction of the enemy about a hundred yards, when he was fired upon by a volley of musketry from his right front. The bullets whistled among the party, and struck several horses. This fire was evidently from the enemy, and one of his men caught his bridle-rein and said to him : "General Jackson, you should not expose yourself so much." "There is no danger," he replied, "the enemy is routed. Go back and tell General Hill to press on." But in order to screen himself from the flying bullets, he rode from the road to the left and rear. The small trees and brushwood being very dense, it was difficult to effect a passage on horseback. While riding as rapidly as possible to the rear, he came in front of his own line of battle, who, having no idea that he, or any one but the enemy, was in their front, and mistaking the party for a body of Federal cavalry, opened a sharp fire upon them. From this volley General Jackson received his mortal wounds. His right hand was pierced by a bullet, his left arm was shattered by two balls, one above and one below the elbow, breaking the bones and severing the main artery. His horse, "Little Sorrel," terrified by the nearness and suddenness of the fire, dashed off in the direction of the enemy, and it was with great difficulty that he could control him his bridle hand being helpless, and the tangled brushwood, through which he was borne, almost dragging him from his seat. But he seized the reins with his right hand, and, arresting the flight of his horse, brought him back into his own lines, where, almost fainting, he was assisted to the ground by Captain Wilbourne, his signal officer. By this fire several of his escort were killed and wounded . . . and every horse which was not shot down wheeled back in terror, bearing his rider towards the advancing enemy. The firing was arrested by Lieutenant Morrison, who, after his horse was killed under him, ran to the front of the firing line, and with much difficulty in making himself heard, told them they were firing into their own men.

The enemy soon changed from canister to shell and elevated their range, when the young men renewed their efforts to get General Jackson to the rear, supporting him with their strong arms, as he slowly and painfully dragged himself along. As the Confederate troops were hurrying to the front, they met the party, and the question came from the lips of almost every passer-by, "Whom have you there?" The general, not wishing his troops to recognize him, gave orders to leave the road and diverge into the woods. He said to his attendants: "Don't tell them who it is, but simply say it is a Confederate officer." Despite these precautions, he did not escape recognition by some of his men, who exclaimed with grief and dismay: "Great God! it is General Jackson!" General Pender of North Carolina, was one of those who recognized him, and after approaching and expressing his deep regret at his wounding, said to him: "The troops have suffered severely from the enemy's artillery, and are somewhat disorganized; I fear we cannot maintain our position." Faint and exhausted as he was, a gleam of the old battle-fire flashed from his eyes, and instantly he replied: "You must hold your ground, General fender; you must hold your ground, sir." This was the last order given by the hero of so many battle-fields.

On meeting the wounded general, says Dr. McGuire: "I knelt by him and said, 'I hope you are not badly hurt, general?' He replied very calmly, but feebly, 'I am badly injured, doctor; I fear I am dying.'

"After reaching the hospital he was placed in bed, covered with blankets, and a drink of whiskey and water given him. Two hours and a half elapsed before sufficient action took place to warrant an examination.

606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."


By General George B. McClellan.

IN this official report to the War Department of the Battle of Antietam, fought September 16-17, 1862, McClellan states that nearly 209,000 men were engaged, whereas Civil War historians are generally agreed that McClellan commanded a Federal force of about 75,000 against 40,000 Confederates under Lee. This was one of the bloodiest battles of the war, more men being killed on the second day than on any other one day between 1861 and 1865.

Tactically, it was a drawn battle, though the military verdict is that McClellan, who brought only a part of his force into action, made grave blunders, while the generalship of Lee, who utilized nearly every man, was almost faultless. Strategically, however, it was an important Federal victory, since Lee was forced to abandon his aggressive campaign and retire into Virginia. "Without McClellan's victory," says Rhodes, "the emancipation proclamation might never have been issued."

THE enemy occupied a strong position on the heights, on the West side of Antietam Creek, displaying a large force of infantry and cavalry, with numerous batteries of artillery, which opened on our columns as they appeared in sight on the Keadysville and Sharpsburg turnpike, which fire was returned by Captain Tidball's light battery, 2d United States Artillery, and Pettit's battery, 1st New York Artillery. Antietam Creek, in this vicinity, is crossed by four stone bridges, the upper one on the Keadysville and Williamsport road ; the 2d on the Keadysville and Sharpsburg turnpike, some two and a half miles below; the third about a mile below the second, on the Rohrersville and Sharpsburg road; and the fourth near the mouth of Antietam Creek, on the road leading from Harper's Ferry to Sharpsburg, some three miles below the third. The stream is sluggish, with few and difficult fords.

After a rapid examination of the position, I found that it was too late to attack that day, and at once directed the placing of the batteries of position of the center, and indicated the bivouacs for the different corps, massing them near and on both sides of the Sharpsburg turnpike. The corps were not all in their positions until the next morning after sunrise.

On the morning of the 16th it was discovered that the enemy had changed the position of his batteries. The masses of his troops were, however, still concealed behind the opposite heights. Their left and center were upon and in front of the Sharpsburg and Hagerstown turnpike, hidden by woods and irregularities of the ground; their extreme left resting upon a wooded eminence near the cross roads to the north of J. Miller's farm, their left resting upon the Potomac. Their line extended south, the right resting upon the hills to the south of Sharpsburg, near Snavoley's farm.

It was afternoon before I could move the troops to their positions for attack, being compelled to spend the morning in reconnoitering the new position taken up by the enemy, examining the ground, finding fords and clearing their approaches, and hurrying up the ammunition and supply trains, which had been delayed by the rapid march of the troops over the few practicable approaches from Frederick. These had been crowded by the masses of infantry, cavalry and artillery, pressing on with the hope of overtaking the enemy before he could form to resist an attack; many of the troops were out of rations on the previous day, and a good deal of their ammunition had been expended in the severe action of the 14th.

About 2 P. M. General Hooker, with his corps . was ordered to cross the Antietam at a ford, and at bridge No. 1 a short distance above, to attack, and if possible turn the enemy's left. . . . On reaching the vicinity of the enemy's left, a sharp contest commenced with the Pennsylvania Reserves, the advance of General Hooker's corps, near the house of Dr. Miller. The enemy was driven from the strip of woods where he was first met, the firing lasted until after dark, when General Hooker's corps rested on their arms, on ground won from the enemy.

At daylight, on the 17th, the action was commenced by the skirmishers of the Pennsylvania Reserves. The whole of General Hooker's corps was soon engaged, and drove the enemy from the open field in front of the first line of woods, into a second line of woods beyond, which runs to the eastward of and nearly parallel to the Sharpsburg and Hagerstown turnpike.

For about two hours the battle raged with varied success, the enemy endeavoring to drive our troops into the second line of wood, and ours in turn to get possession of the line in front. Our troops ultimately succeeded in forcing the enemy back into the woods near the turnpike.

At the time of General Sedgwick's advance, General Hooker, while urging on his command, was seriously wounded in the foot and taken from the field. The repulse of the enemy offered opportunity to rearrange the lines and reorganize the commands on the right, now more or less in confusion. The batteries of the Pennsylvania Reserve, on high ground near I. Poffenburger's house, opened fire and checked several attempts of the enemy to establish batteries in front of our right, to turn that flank and enfilade the lines.

While this conflict was so obstinately raging on the right, General French was pushing his division against the enemy still further to the left. This division crossed the Antietam at the same ford as General Sedgwick, and immediately in his rear. Passing over the stream in three columns, the division marched about a mile from the ford, then facing to the left, moved in three lines towards the enemy. The division was first assailed by a fire of artillery, but steadily advanced, driving the enemy's skirmishers, and encountered the infantry in some force at the group of houses on Roulette's farm. General Weber's brigade gallantly advanced with an unwavering front, and drove the enemy from their position about the houses.

While General Weber was hotly engaged with the first line of the enemy, General French received orders from General Sumner, his corps commander, to push on with renewed vigor to make a diversion in favor of the attack on the right. As the line reached the crest of the hill, a gallant fire was opened on it from the sunken road and corn-field. Here a terrific fire of musketry burst from both lines, and the battle raged along the whole line with great slaughter. The enemy attempted to turn the left of the line, but were met by the 7th Virginia and 1324 Pennsylvania Volunteers, and repulsed.

Foiled in this, the enemy made a determined assault on the front, but was met by a charge from our lines, which drove him back with severe loss, leaving in our hands some 300 prisoners, and several stands of colors. The enemy having been repulsed by the terrible execution of the batteries and the musketry fire on the extreme right, now attempted to assist the attack on General French's division, by assaulting him on his right, and endeavoring to turn his flank, but this attack was met and checked by the 14th Indiana and 8th Ohio volunteers, and by canister from Captain Tomkins's battery, 1st Rhode Island artillery. Having been under an almost continuous fire for nearly four hours, and their ammunition being nearly exhausted, the division now took position immediately below the crest of the heights on which they had so gallantly fought, the enemy making no attempt to regain their lost ground.

Our troops on the left of this part of the line, having driven the enemy far back, they, with reenforced numbers, made a determined attack directly in front. To meet this, Colonel Barlow brought his two regiments to their position in line, and drove the enemy through the cornfield into the orchard beyond, under a heavy fire of musketry, and a fire of canister from two pieces of artillery in the orchard and a battery further to the right, throwing shell and case-shot. This advance gave us possession of Piper's house, the strong point contended for by the enemy at this part of the line, it being a defensible building, several hundred yards in advance of the sunken road.

Between 12 and 1 p. m., General Franklin's corps arrived on the field of battle, having left their camp near Crampton's Pass at 6 a. m., leaving General Couch with orders to move with his division to occupy Maryland heights.

General Smith's division led the column, followed by General Slocum's.

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This is an excerpt of Volume 8 of the VFW series: America, "Great Crises in our History."

Lookout Mountain And Missionary Ridge

By Brigadier-General George H. Thomas.

THOMAS, one of the most modest as well as capable generals of the Civil War, had been appointed, in 1862, to supersede Buell as commander of the Federal Army of the Cumberland, but preferred to remain in a subordinate position. After the Battle of Chickamauga, however, he succeeded Rosecrans, and commanded the main body of the Federal army at the Battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, November 23-25, 1863.

His official report of the famous "battle above the clouds," from which this account is taken, reviews only the operations of his own army; but it was the dominant factor in the victory. Credit for the plan of this campaign belongs to Grant, who, on October 23, had assumed command of Federal military operations in the West. Subsequently Thomas defeated Hood at the Battle of Nashville (December 15-16, 1864), for which he was appointed a major-general and voted the thanks of Congress.

AS soon as communications with Bridgeport had been made secure, and the question of supplying the army at this point rendered certain, preparations were at once commenced for driving the enemy from his position in our immediate front on Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.

Major-General Sherman, commanding the Army of the Tennessee, having been ordered with the Fifteenth Corps to this point to participate in the operations against the enemy, reached Bridgeport with two divisions on the 15th [November]. He came to the front himself, and having examined the ground, expressed himself confident of his ability to execute his share of the work. The plan of operations was then written out substantially as follows : Sherman, with the Fifteenth Corps, strengthened with one division from my command, was to effect a crossing of the Tennessee River just below the mouth of the South Chickamauga, on Saturday, November 21, at daylight ; his crossing to be protected by artillery planted on the heights on the north bank of the river. After crossing his force, he was to carry the heights of Missionary Ridge from their northern extremity to about the railroad tunnel before the enemy could concentrate a force against him. I was to co-operate with Sherman by concentrating my troops in Chattanooga Valley, on my left flank. . . . I was then to effect a junction with Sherman, making my advance from the left, well toward the north end of Mission Ridge, and moving as near simultaneously with Sherman as possible.

In consequence of the bad condition of the roads General Sherman's troops were occupied all of Sunday in getting into position. In the meantime, the river having risen, both pontoon bridges were broken by rafts sent down the river by the enemy, cutting off Osterhaus' division from the balance of Sherman's troops. It was thought this would delay us another day, but during the night of the 22d, two deserters reported Bragg had fallen back, and that there was only a strong picket line in our front. Early on the morning of the 23d, I received a note from Major-General Grant, directing me to ascertain by a demonstration the truth or falsity of this report.

Orders were accordingly given to General Granger, commanding the Fourth Corps, to form his troops and to advance directly in front of Fort Wood, and thus develop the strength of the enemy. General Palmer, commanding the Fourteenth Corps, was directed to support General Granger's right, with Baird's division refused and "en echelon." . . . The two divisions of Granger's corps (Sheridan's and Wood's) were formed in front of Fort Wood; Sheridan on the right, Wood on the left, with his left extending nearly to Citico Creek. The formation being completed about 2 p. m. the troops were advanced steadily and with rapidity directly to the front, driving before them first the rebel pickets, then their reserves, and falling upon their grand guards stationed in their first line of rifle-pits, captured something over 200 men, and secured themselves in their new positions before the enemy had sufficiently recovered from his surprise to attempt to send re-enforcements from his main camp. Orders were then given to General Granger to make his position secure by constructing temporary breastworks and throwing out strong pickets to his front. . . . The troops remained in that position for the night. The Tennessee River having risen considerably from the effect of the previous heavy rainstorm, it was found difficult to rebuild the pontoon bridge at Brown's Ferry. Therefore it was determined that General Hooker should take Osterhaus' division, which was still in Lookout Valley, and Geary's division, Whitaker's and Grose's brigades, of the First Division, Fourth Corps, under Brigadier-General Cruft, and make a strong demonstration on the western slope of Lookout Mountain, for the purpose of attracting the enemy's attention in that direction and thus withdrawing him from Sherman while crossing the river at the mouth of the South Chickamauga.

General Hooker was instructed that in making this demonstration, if he discovered the position and strength of the enemy would justify him in attempting to carry the point of the mountain, to do so. By 4 a. m. on the morning of the 24th, General Hooker reported his troops in position and ready to advance.

Finding Lookout Creek so much swollen as to be impassable, he sent Geary's division, supported by Cruft's two brigades, to cross the creek at Wauhatchie, and work down on the right bank, while he employed the remainder of his force in constructing temporary bridges across the creek on the main road. The enemy, being attracted by the force on the road, did not observe the movements of Geary until his column was directly on their left and threatened their rear. Hooker's movements were facilitated by the heavy mist which overhung the mountain, enabling Geary to get into position without attracting attention.

Finding himself vigorously pushed by a strong column on his left and rear, the enemy began to fall back with rapidity, but his resistance was obstinate, and the entire point of the mountain was not gained until about 2 p. m., when General Hooker reported by telegraph that he had carried the mountain as far as the road from Chattanooga Valley to the white house. Soon after, his main column coming up, his line was extended to the foot of the mountain, near the mouth of Chattanooga Creek.

With the aid of the steamer "Dunbar," which had been put in condition and sent up the river at daylight of the 24th, General Sherman by 11 a. m. had crossed three divisions of the Fifteenth Corps, and was ready to advance.

Howard's corps moved to the left about 9 a. m., and communicated with Sherman about noon. Instructions were sent to General Hooker to be ready to advance on the morning of the 25th from his position on the point of Lookout Mountain to the Summer-town road, and endeavor to intercept the enemy's retreat, if he had not already withdrawn, which he was to ascertain by pushing a reconnaissance to the top of Lookout Mountain.

The reconnaissance was made as directed, and having ascertained that the enemy had evacuated during the night, General Hooker was then directed to move on the Rossville road with the troops under his command . . . carry the pass at Rossville, and operate upon the enemy's left and rear. Palmer's and Granger's troops were held in readiness to advance directly on the rifle-pits in their front as soon as Hooker could get into position at Rossville. In retiring on the night of the 24th, the enemy had destroyed the bridges over Chattanooga Creek on the road leading from Lookout Mountain to Rossville, and, in consequence, General Hooker was delayed until after 2 p. m. in effecting the crossing. About noon, General Sherman becoming heavily engaged by the enemy, they having massed a strong force in his front, orders were given for General Baird to march his division within supporting distance of General Sherman. Moving his command promptly in the direction indicated, he was placed in position to the left of Wood's division of Granger's corps.

The whole line then advanced against the breastworks, and soon became warmly engaged with the enemy's skirmishers; these, giving way, retired upon their reserves, posted within their works. Our troops advancing steadily in a continuous line, the enemy, seized with panic, abandoned the works at the foot of the hill and retreated precipitately to the crest, where they were closely followed by our troops, who, apparently inspired by the impulse of victory, carried the hill simultaneously at six different points, and so closely upon the heels of the enemy that many of them were taken prisoners in the trenches. We captured all their cannon and ammunition before they could be removed or destroyed.

After halting for a few moments to reorganize the troops, who had become somewhat scattered in the assault of the hill, General Sheridan pushed forward in pursuit, and drove those in his front who escaped capture across Chickamauga Creek. Generals Wood and Baird, being obstinately resisted by re-enforcements from the enemy's extreme right, continued fighting until darkness set in, slowly but steadily driving the enemy before them. In moving upon Rossville, General Hooker encountered Stewart's division and other troops. Finding his left flank threatened,. Stewart attempted to escape by retreating toward Graysville, but some of his force, finding their retreat threatened from that quarter, retired in disorder toward their right, along the crest of the ridge, when they were met by another portion of General Hooker's command, and were driven by these troops in the face of Johnson's division of Palmer's corps, by whom they were nearly all made prisoners.

On the 26th, the enemy were pursued by Hooker's and Palmer's commands, surprising a portion of their rear guard near Graysville after nightfall, capturing three pieces of artillery and several hundred prisoners. The pursuit was continued on the 27th.

On the 28th, General Hooker was ordered by General Grant to remain at Ringgold until the 30th, and so employ his troops as to cover the movements of General Sherman, who had received orders to march his force to the relief of Burnside by way of Cleveland and Louden. Palmer's corps was detached from the force under General Hooker and returned to Chattanooga.
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