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 IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862

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Date d'inscription : 29/06/2006

MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Lun 14 Mai - 14:31

Lincoln Bows to Political Pressure, Depletes Mac’s Army

March 31, 1862 (Monday)


General George B. McClellan was a worried and busied man these days. By the end of March, most of his Army of the Potomac was near Fortress Monroe on the Virginia Peninsula. The General himself was planning on departing Alexandria and Washington the following day to finally ready his men for an advance against Richmond.

When McClellan’s plan was approved by President Lincoln, it was allowed with two conditions. First, troops had to remain at Manassas Junction, so the Confederates could not reoccupy the works. Second, McClellan was to “leave Washington entirely secure.”1 Also of pressing need was the Shenandoah Valley, a sort of back door to Washington, where Stonewall Jackson’s force was still very much alive.

Though he had not yet submitted the figures for exactly how many men would be covering Washington, McClellan had laid out a general idea of how the areas around the capital were to be covered. The Shenandoah Valley and Manassas area were put under the command of General Nathaniel Banks. Banks’ Corps was to operate as part of the Army of the Potomac, but more as an independent command. Covering Washington and Manassas were the troops that regularly garrisoned the forts around the city.

In addition to Banks’s Corps, the division of General Louis Blenker was to also cover the Valley. This division, made up of many German-speaking immigrants, had become somewhat controversial.

General John Fremont, who had been removed from command in Missouri, had become part of the Washington social circle and was still lauded by Republicans and the press. Early in the month, he got the ear of Lincoln and proposed a plan to rescue Eastern Tennessee, long one of Lincoln’s pet projects. All Fremont needed was a corps of troops and a department. Bowing to pressure, Lincoln gave Fremont the Mountain Department, mostly comprising Western Virginia and Eastern Tennessee.

Throughout the department, Fremont had roughly 25,000 troops, and so Lincoln promised as many as 10,000 more. In the days following Lincoln’s promise, Fremont set his gaze upon General Blenker’s Division, 10,000-strong. If only he could have the division, Fremont assured Lincoln, he would assail Eastern Tennessee.2

Lincoln was torn and so went to talk to McClellan about the transfer. Meeting in a steamer off Alexandria, the President rattled off a list of reasons not to give in to the obvious political pressure from Fremont and his friends. In fact, the only reason he could think of to send the division to Fremont was political pressure. Then, according to McClellan, Lincoln promised not to detach it.3

Just as he had done when he gifted Fremont the Mountain Department, Lincoln, despite whatever he may have told McClellan, caved and gave Blenker’s Division to Fremont. McClellan learned the news when he received a message from Lincoln on this date.


Lincoln wrote that he “felt constrained to order Blenker’s division to Fremont,” and that he only did so “with great pain.”4

McClellan replied immediately to Lincoln, telling him that there was no way he could afford to lose 10,000 men. When he repeated the plea face to face, later in the day, Lincoln apparently promised McClellan that “nothing of the sort should be repeated.” McClellan also recalled that the President told him that he “might rest assured that the campaign should proceed with no further deductions from the force upon which its operations had been planned.”5

Before leaving for the Peninsula the following day, McClellan would submit a final tally of the troops held back from his campaign to defend Washington.

__________________

Col. Canby on His Way! Mrs. Canby Nurses the Rebels

Col. Edward Canby, commander of all Federal troops in New Mexico, was livid. He had ordered the troops at Fort Union, north of Las Vegas, not to engage the Rebels, under General Henry Sibley, that had taken Albuquerque and Santa Fe. On this date, he received a dispatch from Col. John Slough that he (Slough) had done just that.

Slough’s message from March 29 told of the Battle of Apache Canyon, which, while a Northern victory, was undertaken in direct violation of Canby’s orders.6 At this early of a date, Canby had no idea that another, larger battle had been fought at Glorieta Pass, resulting in a strange Union defeat, after which the Rebels retreated.

Hoping to mitigate whatever damage Col. Slough was about to cause, Canby decided to head north with his 1,100 troops, towards Albuquerque, 100 or so miles from Fort Craig. The fort would be left in the capable hands of Christopher “Kit” Carson.7

By this date, the Union forces under Col. Slough were marching through Las Vegas on their way back to Fort Union.8

Meanwhile, in Santa Fe, the wounded Rebels and captured Union prisoners were being seen to by the ladies of the city, headed by Mrs. Canby, wife of the colonel. She nursed the boys as if they were her own sons, even traveling the Santa Fe Trail to the battlefield to assist in bringing the wounded back to town.

Long after the battle, when the last group of wounded Confederates were about to leave Santa Fe, the convalescents took out an ad in the Gazette thanking the ladies of Santa Fe “for the delicate kindness which has been shown to many of us in suffering and sickness, and the attention and courtesy which has been extended to all.”

One Texan conceded that Mrs. Canby “captured more hearts of Confederate soldiers than the old general [Col. Canby] ever captured Confederate bodies.”9




1.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 11, Part 3, p59. [↩]
2.Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel Beatie, Savas Beatie, 2007. [↩]
3.McClellan’s Own Story by George B. McClellan, C.L. Webster, 1887. It was, of course, in McClellan’s best interest to relate that Lincoln promised not to detach Blenker. [↩]
4.The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, Vol. 9 edited by Frank Moore, Putnam, 1864, p544. [↩]
5.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 11, Part 1, p10. Again, can we trust McClellan’s version of this? In effect, Lincoln seems to be saying to McClellan, “I have altered the deal. Pray I do not alter it further.” [↩]
6.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p533. [↩]
7.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9. p658-659. [↩]
8.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p659. [↩]
9.Sibley’s New Mexico Campaign by Martin Hardwick Hall, University of New Mexico Press, 1960. [↩]

Related posts:
The Confusion of Fremont’s Army
McClellan Refuses to Divulge His Plan (If He Even Has One) to Lincoln
Stonewall Jackson Resigns! Lincoln Borrows the Army for a Little While
Union Brigades Cross the Potomac into Harpers Ferry!
The Death of a General, but Move of an Army; Rebels Take Albuquerque
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Lun 14 Mai - 14:28

Stonewall Jackson and the Confederate Draft

March 30, 1862 (Sunday)

The defeated army of Stonewall Jackson had retreated all the way back to their original camp, near Mount Jackson following their loss at the Battle of Kernstown. The victorious Union forces followed, but only half-heartedly, refusing to give Jackson battle on ground of his own choosing. Now, without the fear of Union attack, Jackson began to sort things out.

First, he wanted to relieve General Richard Garnett of command. Jackson believed that Garnett had retreated during the battle without orders to do so. He had already written to his superior, General Joe Johnston, for a replacement.1

Jackson was also dealing with the influx of new conscripts. Though the nationwide Confederate draft was being debated in Richmond, Virginia’s Governor Letcher had just ordered that all Virginia militiamen be automatically drafted into the Confederate army. Jackson had begun to receive militia units prior to the battle of Kernstown, but with Letcher’s decree, he was about to receive even more.2

Since the start of the war, the Confederates faced a manpower problem. Though the general idea of the Southern government was to be a bit looser and smaller than the Federal government had been, even before the war started, it was clear that some centralized power was needed, at least as far as the military was concerned.

At the end of February 1861, Richmond gave President Jefferson Davis the power to “assume control of all military operations in every State.” In May of the same year, he did away with short term enlistments, requiring recruits to remain in the army until the war was over. With the surge of one-year enlistments immediately after the fall of Fort Sumter, by the end of 1861, the Confederate Army was soon to be reduced to a mere fraction of its number if something was not soon done to entice the men to reenlist. A fifty dollar bounty and two-month furlough worked some magic.

It did not, however, solve anything permanently. By the middle of winter, 1862, volunteers to the Rebel cause were slow to enlist. The pomp and gusto surrounding Fort Sumter was gone. In another attempt to save their army, the Confederate Congress realized they needed to gain new recruits (not just reenlistments), and that a centralized control must be held over the army.3

The act being debated would give authorities in Richmond the power to call upon every able-bodied male between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five to serve their new nation. On March 28, Davis gave an impassioned (and uncharacteristically short) speech before Congress, urging them to pass the conscription act. Davis reasoned that “all persons of intermediate ages not legally exempt for good cause, should pay their debt of military service to the country, that the burdens should not fall exclusively on the most ardent and patriotic.”4

The next day, Virginia’s Governor Letcher, figuring that the national Congress would pass the bill, disbanded the militia, transferring them into the Confederate Army. In doing this, he did not create new regiments for the new recruits, but instead, placed them within already established regiments in order to bring them to full strength.5

This policy would remain in the South throughout the war. It had some positive effects. For one, green troops would be placed alongside veteran troops, allowing the more experienced soldiers to bring the less experienced up to speed. It also maintained regimental identity. As the war progressed, new conscripts would have some idea what their unit had been through prior to their arrival. In the North, things were done in the opposite manner, new conscripts funneled into new regiments, the advantages of the Southern method completely lost.


__________________

Both Sides Retreat After Both Claim Victory in New Mexico

Following what they believed to be their victory at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, New Mexico, Col. William Scurry knew that he and his 1,100 men were in trouble. After they had pushed the Yankees from the field, a Union detachment outflanked them and burned their supply wagons.


After burying the dead, he ordered his army back to Santa Fe on the night of the 29th. By the morning of this date, they began to filter into the city as the residents made their way to church.

Sixty miles southwest in Albuquerque, General Henry Sibley, overall Confederate commander of the Army of New Mexico, stood in the plaza to read Col. Scurry’s report of the victory to the 500 or so soldiers still in town.6 Sibley proclaimed with Scurry’s words that “another victory was added to the long list of Confederate triumphs.”7

If the South had actually been defeated, nobody seemed to have informed the Union troops under Col. John Slough. Believing that the Rebel position could not be taken, he decided to move his army back to Bernal Springs, the site of his first encampment after leaving Fort Union.8

Col. Slough also took the time on this date to compose his report of the battle. Though he had been able to be in full communication with Col. Edward Canby, Union commander of New Mexico, he decided to submit it directly to Washington, as Canby was “beyond the line of the enemy.” Slough must have known that he was in violation of Canby’s orders not to engage in a battle with the Rebels until his (Canby’s) force from Fort Craig could join them.

Of course, Slough makes no mention of such an order. On the contrary, the purpose of his leaving Fort Union was for “annoying and harassing the enemy,” not to give battle. All of this was, according to Slough, sanctioned “under orders from Colonel Canby, commanding department.”9

Meanwhile, though Slough was somehow unable to communicate with Canby, a messenger sent by him on the 26th was about to arrive at Fort Craig. He would deliver Slough’s report from the fight on the 26th at Apache Canyon and his desire to move against the Rebels with his entire force. Canby was bound to be less than enthusiastic.10




1.Stonewall Jackson by James I. Robertson, MacMillan Press, 1997. [↩]
2.Shenandoah 1862 by Peter Cozzens, University of North Carolina Press, 2008. [↩]
3.Conscription and Conflict in the Confederacy by Albert Burton Moore, University of South Carolina Press, 1924. [↩]
4.Speech before Congress, March 28, 1862. As printed in The American Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events of the Year, Volume 2, 1862. [↩]
5.Shenandoah 1862 by Peter Cozzens, University of North Carolina Press, 2008. [↩]
6.Blood & Treasure by Donald S. Frazier, Texas A&M University Press, 1995. [↩]
7.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p541. [↩]
8.Sibley’s New Mexico Campaign by Martin Hardwick Hall, University of New Mexico Press, 2000. [↩]
9.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p534-535. [↩]
10.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p658. [↩]

Related posts:
Stonewall Jackson Takes Romney; Grant and Curtis Step Off
Stonewall Jackson Grasps at Straws While Lander Oversteps His Command
Stonewall Jackson Resigns! Lincoln Borrows the Army for a Little While
Fort Henry Falls to the US Navy; Stonewall Jackson Un-Resigns
Stonewall Jackson and the Mennonites Who Could Not Be Made to Aim
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Lun 14 Mai - 14:02



Confederates Gather at Corinth as Federals Struggle Along

March 29, 1862 (Saturday)

Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was the hero of Fort Sumter, the hero of Manassas and, should he accept command of the western army, potential hero of the Mississippi. In the weeks since his arrival, Southern forces in Tennessee had taken great losses, starting with Forts Henry and Donelson, and continuing with the retreat from Nashville. Throw in the abandonment of Columbus and New Madrid and things were not looking so bright for the Confederacy in the west. This was, hoped the South, only temporary.

As the Army of Tennessee, under General Albert Sidney Johnston, retreated south from Nashville to Corinth, Mississippi, part of the Army of the Mississippi, under General Beauregard, clung to Island No. 10 in the river bearing the army’s name. The remainder of Beauregard’s forces, mostly under General Braxton Bragg, were also filtering into the Mississippi town.


When Generals Johnston and Beauregard met to discuss their next action, they were well aware that the 27,000 men of General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union Army of the Tennessee were concentrating twenty miles north at Pittsburg Landing (also known as Shiloh). They were also aware that General Don Carlos Buell’s Union Army of the Ohio, 37,000 strong, which had taken Nashville when Johnston abandoned it, was moving south to join Grant. It was obvious that something had to be done quickly, before the two forces could unite against the roughly 40,000 Confederates consolidating near Corinth.1

They decided to combine both of their forces into one. Officially, Beauregard’s Army of the Mississippi was never a real army. It was always under Johnston’s umbrella. On this date, however, Johnston’s umbrella seemed to grow larger. It also had a new moniker, casting aside the “Army of Tennessee” for Beauregard’s “Army of the Mississippi.” Through all of this, Johnston made General Bragg his chief of staff and then offered command of the army to Beauregard, leaving himself in command of the department.2

This quixotic offer surprised Beauregard, who declined to accept, leaving Johnston in command of the newly organized Army of the Mississippi. This new force was made up of three corps, under Generals Polk, Bragg and Hardee. There was also a reserve division under General Crittenden (who would soon be replaced by Breckinridge).

This new force was new indeed, its troops, largely, untried and green. Many of the men in Polk’s Corps had never seen battle. Bragg’s Corps was much the same, with the 5,000 reinforcements from New Orleans only adding to the greenness. The men of Hardee’s Corps had seen some action, but mostly light skirmishing.3

The officers were also nothing to write home about. On the corps level, all had attended West Point, though General Polk had chosen to be a bishop in the Episcopal Church, rather than pursue a career in the military. Of the division commanders, only two had any military education, though a few served in the Mexican War. As for the regimental officers, most were civilians, political appointees with no military experience whatsoever.

Another huge problem, perhaps even the biggest, was the lack of uniformity in firearms. Many were armed with shotguns or squirrel rifles, old flintlocks or merely revolvers. This made issuing ammunition to the army a complete nightmare.

To make matters worse, one of the most capable, well-trained, experienced and respected generals in the Army of the Mississippi, General George Crittenden, was often drunk. He commanded troops in the Black Hawk War, as well as the Mexican War. Though he bore much of the blame for the defeat at Mill Springs, his experience alone was sorely needed in the Army of the Mississippi.4

__________________

Wading and Crossing the Duck

Facilitating the Confederates, by allowing them more time to attack Grant’s Army before Buell’s Army could reinforce it, was the bridge over Duck River, swollen by rains and melting snow. Near Columbia, Tennessee, the retreating Confederates of Johnston’s Army had torched the bridge before Federal forces could take it. Buell, who insisted upon the bridge being properly rebuilt, had stopped up his entire army for two weeks.

The progress was mind-numbingly slow. Properly rebuilding a bridge was, of course, no easy task. It’s also a task that should probably not be undertaken when in the midst of a campaign. It was taking so long that Buell finally ordered a temporary pontoon bridge to be built and used until the original bridge was finished. This endeavor also went over schedule. Both bridges were completed on this date.

By this time, the swollen waters of Duck River had receded enough to allow men to cross without using either bridge. The day before the bridges were completed, General William “Bull” Nelson took his division through the Duck and headed for Savannah on the Tennessee River, ten miles north of Pittsburg Landing. He hurried and pushed his men in an effort to reach Grant. The rest of Buell’s Army crossed the Duck on this date.5

__________________

Foote Refuses the Canal Idea


Meanwhile, near New Madrid and Island No. 10, things were at a stalemate. The Union gunboats of Flag Officer Andrew Foote had twice engaged the Rebel batteries on and along the Mississippi River, to fruitless results. In the days since then, General John Pope, commanding the Union Army of the Mississippi, was able to cut off the Confederates on Island No. 10 by establishing a battery covering its supply line. Additionally, since Foote refused to run his ships through the gauntlet of Rebel batteries on and around the island, Pope decided to cut an eight mile long canal across a peninsula, bypassing the island altogether. If things went right, Foote could take his gunboats through the canal, leaving Island No. 10 a pointless venture for the Confederates.

Things did not go right. The building of the canal was a brilliant bit of engineering – daring, risky and quickly executed – but by this date, it was only about halfway completed.6 Though secret, it was somehow leaked to the press and ran in the New York Tribune on March 23. The Rebels, apparently not Tribune subscribers, were not aware of the news until this date.

From the beginning, however, Foote refused time and again to cooperate with Pope, who had promised his superior, General Henry Halleck, that Island No. 10 would fall by April 3. On the evening of this date, Foote held a council of war, asking each of his gunboat captains what should be done.

Through debate, it was determined to finally steam through the Rebel gauntlet on the first foggy or stormy night that would avail itself to the task.7


P.G.T. Beauregard; Napoleon in Gray by T. Harry Williams, Louisiana State University Press, 1955. Also, Army of the Heartland; The Army of Tennessee, 1861-1862 by Thomas Lawrence Connelly, Louisiana State University Press, 1967 – mostly for the figures. [↩]
The Army of Tennessee by Stanley F. Horn, University of Oklahoma Press, 1941. [↩]
Army of the Heartland; The Army of Tennessee, 1861-1862 by Thomas Lawrence Connelly, Louisiana State University Press, 1967. [↩]
Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 by O. Edward Cunningham, Savas Beatie, 2007. [↩]
All for the Regiment; The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1862 by Gerald J. Prokopowicz, The University of North Carolina Press, 2001. [↩]
General John Pope by Peter Cozzens, University of Illinois Press, 2000. [↩]
Island No. 10 by Larry J. Daniel and Lynn N. Bock, University of Alabama Press, 1996. [↩]


Related posts:

Battle in New Mexico! Confederates Gather in Missouri

Confederates Abandon “Gibraltar of the West”

Grant Pleads His Case; Beauregard Gets an Army; Rebs Advance in New Mexico

Union Navy Begins Fruitless Bombardment of Island No. 10

Hunting Jackson in the Shenandoah
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Lun 14 Mai - 13:48

Just When All Seemed Lost: The Battle of Glorieta Pass

March 28, 1862 (Friday)


It was not only the Confederates in Apache Canyon, New Mexico who were chomping at the bit to attack. The Federals, too, were devising their next steps. Union Commander, Col. John Slough, far removed from his previous job as a lawyer in Denver, learned that the Rebels, under Major Charles Pyron, had been reinforced by roughly 1,000 men, led by Col. William Scurry. If Slough’s math was correct, this nearly evened things up. The Rebel strength was around 1,100, while the Federals could field but 200 more.

Believing that Scurry’s Confederates would remain at Johnson’s Ranch, near the western mouth of Apache Canyon, Slough concocted a two-pronged plan of attack. He would later call this attack a “reconnaissance,” as he was specifically ordered by Col. Edward Canby, overall Union commander in New Mexico, not to attack until the Union force from Fort Craig, 250 miles south, could join him.

Ignoring Canby’s orders, Slough determined that the main column, roughly 800-strong, would march down the Santa Fe Trail towards the Rebels, while the other column, numbering 400-500, under Major John Chivington, a veteran of the Battle of Apache Canyon, would move south of the trail and fall upon the enemy rear.1


Around 8am, both Union columns left their camp near the Pecos ruins, following the Santa Fe Trail. An hour later, Major Chivington and his column left the main body, heading south atop the Glorieta Mesa. Slough’s column reached Pigeon Ranch (named after its owner, who apparently danced the fandango like a pigeon), just east of the summit, around 10:30, and stopped to rest.2

Meanwhile, Col. Scurry, commanding the Rebels at Johnson’s Ranch, was tired of waiting for the Yankees to attack. He had no idea that he wouldn’t have too long to wait, and so resolved to launch his attack. Due to illness and the detachment he left to guard the supply wagons left in camp, his force was probably around 700.

Scurry’s command, cavalry to the front, marched six miles to the summit, where their scouts could peer down onto Pigeon Ranch and Glorieta Canyon.3


As the Union infantry rested at Pigeon Ranch, firing was heard in the timbers before them. Their pickets fell back and informed them that the Rebels were about to attack. Slough immediately formed his troops in lines of battle on either side of the road, deployed his artillery on a rise in the Trail and advanced towards the enemy, concealed among the trees.4

Before either the Federal infantry or artillery could be arrayed, the Rebels opened upon them with their three howitzers. Scurry had deployed his infantry in a line across the canyon, stretching from a fence on their left to a pine forest on their right.

As the Union infantry had divided their line, each group fell upon the Rebel flanks. On the Confederate left, the Federal troops had scurried up a gulch, mostly hidden from sight, and launched their attack as their comrades on the right launched theirs. Before it was too late, Col. Scurry ordered Major Pyron to hold the right. Leaving a force to hold the center, he took the rest of his men over the fence to fend off the Federals on the left. Both Rebel forces desperately fell upon their foes with bullets and fists, as the melee became hand-to-hand. While the Rebel flanks were being assailed, the troops in the center charged the Federals, pinning them down, disallowing any reinforcements to be sent to either flank attack.5


Before long, the attacks were driven back and the entire Union command fell back a short distance to Pigeon Ranch. While Scurry regrouped, the Union artillery was able to take out one of the howitzers and blow up a limber chest, wounding the battery’s commander. It took Scurry nearly an hour to ready his men, and by the time he did, the Union forces were so well hidden that none could be seen.6


After his men were assembled, Scurry advanced, sending forces out on his right, center and left. He sent out his flanking parties first, telling them when he heard their guns, he would advance the center.7 Scurry’s right discovered about ninety Federals, commanded by Lt. Col. Samuel Tappan, atop a hill. Col. Slough had ordered Tappan to hold the hill “at all hazards,” and he did just that, killing a Rebel officer and sending the rest of the force back.8

As this was happening, the main Union column was attacked. In his report, Scurry poetically recalls:

Our brave soldiers, heedless of the storm, pressed on, determined if possible to take their battery. A heavy body of infantry, twice our number, interposed to save their guns. Here the conflict was terrible. Our men and officers, alike inspired with the unalterable determination to overcome every obstacle to the attainment of their object, dashed among them. The right and center had united on the left. The intrepid Ragnet and the cool, calm, courageous Pyron had pushed forward among the rocks until the muzzles of the guns of the opposing forces passed each other. Inch by inch was the ground disputed, until the artillery of the enemy had time to escape with a number of their wagons. The infantry also broke ranks and fled from the field.9


The Confederates were victorious. The defeated and demoralized Yankees had fled all the way back to their original camp near Pecos. Counting the dead and wounded, the Rebels sustained 42 killed, 61 wounded, and 14 taken prisoner. The Federals faired roughly the same, losing 47 killed, 78 wounded, with 11 taken prisoner and two additional taken to desertion. These were heavy, ten percent, losses for a mere “reconnaissance.”10

However, this was not the end of the story. The Federal detachment of 300-400 men under Major Chivington was still on the loose. By around 1:30pm, the time when Scurry was assaulting Pigeon Ranch, Chivington was looking down upon the Confederate camp and eighty Confederate wagons, protected by 200 or so Rebels with a piece of field artillery.


Deploying first as sharpshooters, the Federals made quick work of the Rebel artillerymen, who fired several times to no effect. Chivington then surrounded the camp and closed in, killing a few Rebels and wounding a few more. Soon, the eighty wagons, the cannon, and seventeen Rebels were taken captive. The wagons contained nearly all of the Army of New Mexico’s supplies of ammunition, clothing and food. Unable to remove them from the canyon, Chivington put them to the torch before returning to the main Union camp, which he reached well after dark.11

That night, the Rebels remained near Pigeon Ranch, five miles from their burned out camp. Snow fell in the darkness, covering the dead and freezing to death the wounded. There would be no rations on this night, and it would be a long time before rations were issued again.12




1.The Battle of Glorieta Pass by Thomas S. Edrington and John Taylor. [↩]
2.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p534. Slough’s second report. [↩]
3.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p543. Scurry’s second report. His first report is vague. In the post script, he explains: “I do not know if I write intelligently. I have not slept for three nights, and can scarcely hold my eyes open.” [↩]
4.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p536. Tappan’s report. [↩]
5.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p543. Scurry’s second report. [↩]
6.Sibley’s New Mexico Campaign by Martin Hardwick Hall. [↩]
7.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p543. Scurry’s second report. [↩]
8.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p537. Tappan’s report. [↩]
9.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p544. Scurry’s second report. [↩]
10.The Battle of Glorieta Pass by Thomas S. Edrington and John Taylor. [↩]
11.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p538-539. Chivington’s report. [↩]
12.Blood & Treasure by Donald S. Frazier. [↩]

Related posts:
Rebels in New Mexico Plan to Capture a Fort; First Battle in Arkansas
Confederate Victory in New Mexico
The Confederate High Water Mark in the Southwest
The Water Begins to Recede for the Rebels in Apache Canyon
McClellan’s Plan Discovered! Johnston Ordered to Reinforce the Peninsula
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Lun 14 Mai - 13:41

McClellan’s Plan Discovered! Johnston Ordered to Reinforce the Peninsula

March 27, 1862 (Thursday)


General John Bankhead Magruder
Ten days had passed since Union General George B. McClellan had started his Army of the Potomac to Fortress Monroe. This change of base, from around Washington to the Virginia Peninsula, was the first step in his conquest of Richmond. Almost daily had the transport vessels been arriving. By this date, there seemed to be a countless number of Union steamers coming and going from the fort near Norfolk.

All this activity hardly went unnoticed. The Virginia Peninsula was guarded by the tiny Confederate Army of the Peninsula, commanded by General John Bankhead Magruder, a flamboyant socialite from the Old Army. By the 24th, Magruder realized that he was in trouble. Though he had spent the winter preparing the defenses, which ran from Mulberry Point, along the James River, north, across the entire Peninsula, to Yorktown, along the York River. The problem was that he had only 10,000 or so men to man them. By his estimates, there were at least 30,000 Federals currently encamped at Fortress Monroe.

He warned Richmond of this and questioned whether he would receive reinforcements. General Robert E. Lee, now back in Richmond, acting as President Jefferson Davis’ military advisor, assured Magruder that two regiments were on their way.1


General Lee
In Richmond, nobody was really sure what the Union army was doing. In North Carolina, General Burnside had a force along the coast, so it was possible, they must have mused, that the 30,000 Federals at Fortress Monroe were there to reinforce him. It was also possible that they were there to attack General Magruder. Perhaps it was a demonstration to weaken Joe Johnston’s Army along the Rappahannock before attacking south from Washington.2

By the 25th, the day after Magruder informed Richmond of the Union force at Fortress Monroe, General Lee was trying to think a few moves ahead of McClellan. He wrote to General Johnston, north of Richmond, asking what force could be spared to reinforce Magruder. Lee suspected that the influx of Federals was from McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, and put Johnston on notice.

“It will be necessary,” Lee wrote, “for you to organize a part of your troops to hold your present line, and to prepare the remainder to move to this city, to be thrown on the point attacked.” Lee admitted that details were still a bit foggy, but made it clear that if Johnston were to “receive a dispatch saying ‘Move at once,’ you will understand that you are to repair immediately to this city, where you will be informed to what point you are to direct your course.”3


Map showing relative positions.
Turning back to the Peninsula, Lee was concerned about the rivers. Though he credited Magruder for selecting a good defensive position, he worried that both flanks could easily be turned if the Union troops were ferried up the rivers and landed behind the Confederate lines.4

On this date, Lee telegraphed Johnston, ordering him to send 10,000 troops to Richmond, so that they could be forwarded to the Peninsula. Johnston was a bit confused as to why his entire force of 30,000 was not being called upon. He argued that his main line along the Rappahannock was now too weak to defend an assault, just as Magruder’s line was not reinforced enough. Instead of having one strong line, the Confederates now had two weak ones.

Nevertheless, Johnston sent 7,500 from the Rappahannock and 2,500 from Fredericksburg. “We cannot win without concentrating,” pleaded Johnston in conclusion. “Should my suggestion be approved say so by telegraph, and the movement will be made with all expedition from Fredericksburg and this place.”5


__________________

Tired of Waiting in New Mexico

As a final lull fell over the battlefield at Apache Canyon, New Mexico, Union commander, Major Chivington and Confederate commander, Major Pyron established a truce until 8am the following day (this date). Over the night, as many as 1,000 Confederate reinforcements, under Col. Scurry, joined the roughly 200 remaining veterans of the previous day’s engagement.


Col. Scurry
As the Rebels marched into camp around 3am, the old comrades swapped tales about the battle while warming themselves around their fires. By dawn, their wagons had come up and they treated themselves to a hearty breakfast of hardtack.

Because the truce ended at 8am, Col. Scurry, now in command of the field, established a line of battle across the Santa Fe Trail. All day they waited, fully expecting the Federals to come charging down Glorieta Pass at any moment. The hours passed slowly until dusk, when it was clear that this day had been a day of rest.

The 400 Federal troops, who had been led into battle by Major Chivington the previous day, had retired to a ranch five miles east of the Rebel position. Coming from the old Pecos ruins, even farther east, Chivington’s commander, Col. Slough, was preparing to join his subordinate to renew the battle.

Slough’s superior, Col. Canby, had specifically ordered him not to engage the Rebels until both of their forces could be combined.6

But the Rebel position was a strong one, with four pieces of artillery atop a hill, overlooking Apache Canyon, giving a full view to the crest of Glorieta Pass. That day, Col. Scurry and Major Pyron discussed the overall plan. Their superior, General Henry Sibley, along with 300 mounted troopers under Col. Tom Green, had been left behind in Albuquerque. The original plan was for the three Rebel columns to converge upon Fort Union, but that had all been changed. Now it seemed obvious to them that Sibley and the cavalry could easily ride behind the Federals and cut off their retreat.

There were, however, two problems. First, Sibley and Green had not yet even left Albuquerque, so the chances of them showing up on the other side of the Federals were fairly slim. Second, Scurry was itching for a fight. His position was a good one and all he really had to do was wait for the Union troops to attack him. Unfortunately, patience was not his strong suit.7




1.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 11, Part 3, p392-394. [↩]
2.To the Gates of Richmond; The Peninsula Campaign by Stephen W. Sears. [↩]
3.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 11, Part 3, p397. [↩]
4.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 11, Part 3, p398-399. [↩]
5.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 11, Part 3, p405-406. [↩]
6.The Battle of Glorieta Pass by Thomas S. Edrington and John Taylor. [↩]
7.Blood & Treasure by Donald S. Frazier. [↩]

Related posts:
McClellan Refuses to Divulge His Plan (If He Even Has One) to Lincoln
McClellan Finally Submits an Official Plan, Counters Lincoln
Rebels in New Mexico Plan to Capture a Fort; First Battle in Arkansas
McClellan’s Army Begins Move to Peninsula; Foote Loses More than a Battle
The Deceptive Little Skirmish Before Kernstown
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Lun 26 Mar - 21:42

The Water Begins to Recede for the Rebels in Apache Canyon

March 26, 1862 (Wednesday)

All through the cold night, the 380 Confederates under Major Charles Pyron, unable to sleep, shivered against the biting wind at the western mouth of Apache Canyon. They had few blankets and fewer supplies, but were resolved to hold Santa Fe, New Mexico against the Federals advancing upon it from Fort Union. By the frozen dawn, Pyron led his band into the canyon, along the Santa Fe Trail, to shield them from the weather. As the wind whipped above, the men spent the morning basking and drowsing among the rocks while the sun warmed their bones.1

About thirteen miles east, 400 Union troops under Major John Chivington were also greeting the day, having encamped near the ruins of Pecos. The previous evening, several Rebel scouts were captured by several Union scouts and brought back to Chivington’s camp. Before long, knowing full well of Pyron’s Confederates, they entered the canyon.2

Both Pyron’s and Chivington’s commands were vanguards for larger forces. Separated into three columns (of which, Pyron led one), the Confederates numbered 2,500. Chivington’s party scouted for the main body from Fort Union, under Col. John P. Slough, numbering 1,400 in total. Both Pyron and Chivington had sent out pickets and advanced scouts, but only Chivington’s men reported back that the Rebels were in the canyon.

By 2pm, Chivington’s Federals had reached the summit of the pass. As the advance skirmishers picked their way along the trail, rounding a bend into a cluster of trees, they stumbled into thirty advancing Confederate pickets. Taken by surprise, all thirty surrendered before any shots were exchanged.

A Union scout ran back to the main body, still advancing, to share the news. “We’ve got them corralled this time! Give them hell, boys! Hurrah for the Pike’s Peakers!” The infantry threw off their knapsacks, flung away their canteens, closed ranks and stormed down into Apache Canyon.3

When Pyron saw the charging Yankees, he threw out a skirmish line and unlimbered his two howitzers. Soon, they were launching grapeshot into the hurrying Federal ranks. Most of the Federals had never seen combat before and were taken aback that they could actually be killed out there. Chivington somehow calmed them and they formed a line of battle across the canyon floor.

Wanting to stay as far away from the Rebel artillery as possible, Chivington split his force, sending both wings up opposite sides of the canyon, while his cavalry hung back, ready to charge. Seeing that he was about to be enveloped, Pyron limbered up his guns and began to withdraw, as the Federal bullets flew all around him.

The Rebels retreated for nearly a mile, the Federals nipping close behind. In this confusion, a Confederate company was caught with Union soldiers on three sides. Almost too late was still soon enough, however, and they were able to fight their way out after losing sixteen of their number as prisoners.

In their new position, things seemed to be going well for the Rebels. They were holding their ground and even advancing on the right. Before Pyron could get too comfortable, however, a company of Federals, who had scrambled around a hill, appeared in their rear. Pyron sent his artillery even farther back and refused his line, facing his men north. This security was short-lived. The right flank had advanced too far out to hear Pyron’s orders and was soon enveloped by the Federals. They too had to slash their way out as thirty of their comrades fell into enemy hands.4

Escaping from the canyon, a Confederate horseman raced to Col. William Scurry’s camp, sixteen or so miles south, with a message from Pyron to come quickly to Apache Canyon.5

Pyron again began to abandon his position. He limbered his guns and, as they were withdrawing, Chivington’s Union cavalry, nearly 100-strong, charged down the Trail towards the Confederate ranks. The Rebels fired, hitting a few, but this barely slowed them down. As they chased them, they came to a bend in the road, halting to exchange fire.6

Across the canyon floor and across the Santa Fe Trail ran an arroyo, a fifteen foot wide dry stream bed, spanned by a rickety wooden bridge. The boards were quickly chopped up and removed in hopes that this gully would stop the Federal advance. But it was not to be.

Twenty years after the battle, Chivington embellished the scene, writing that all but one of the horses made the leap, landing among the Rebels, “shooting them with their revolvers, clubbing them, sabering them and slaughtering them generally, just spreading destruction among them.”

In reality, Pyron found another fine defensive position and the cavalry decided that they were too far away from the main body to risk an attack. They returned to their commander, the battle at an end.7

This was the first Rebel defeat in the New Mexico Campaign. They lost four killed, six wounded and about seventy captured. The Union troops, with an advantage in number, lost five killed, fourteen wounded and three missing.8

Pyron had lost almost a third of his command, and fell back to his old camp at the western mouth of the canyon. Chivington fell back even farther to the old Pecos ruins and his commander, Col. Slough.

Before the battle was over, the Confederate messenger arrived at Col. Scurry’s camp, sixteen miles south in Galisteo. Wasting no time, Scurry formed up his 1,000 troops and began their difficult march north to Apache Canyon. The hills were so steep that in places the men had to pull the cannons, as the horses could not. They arrived around 3:30am, placing their supply wagons a full six miles to the rear of Pyron’s camp.

There, they dug in and awaited the dawn and the inevitable Federal attack.9

1.Blood & Treasure by Donals S. Frazier. [↩]
2.The Battle of Glorieta Pass by Thomas S. Edrington and John Taylor. [↩]
3.Sibley’s New Mexico Campaign by Martin Hardwick Hall. Edrington and Taylor claim that both groups of pickets met, but each ran the other way and no prisoners were taken. [↩]
4.The Battle of Glorieta Pass by Thomas S. Edrington and John Taylor. [↩]
5.Blood & Treasure by Donals S. Frazier. [↩]
6.Sibley’s New Mexico Campaign by Martin Hardwick Hall. [↩]
7.The Battle of Glorieta Pass by Thomas S. Edrington and John Taylor. Chivington’s quotes come from this fine book as well. [↩]
8.Sibley’s New Mexico Campaign by Martin Hardwick Hall. Edrington and Taylor put the Rebel losses at three killed and one wounded, with an indeterminable amount of prisoners. [↩]
9.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p542-542 (Scurry’s Report). [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Lun 26 Mar - 21:38

The Confederate High Water Mark in the Southwest

March 25, 1862 (Tuesday)

The Confederate “High Water Mark” is often seen as the invasion of the north during the 1863 Gettysburg Campaign. In the West (that is, the far west), however, the “High Water Mark” was the last week in March 1862. Sixty Rebels under Captain Sherod Hunter had captured Tucson, Arizona, already pro-secessionist, at the end of February. Since that time, they had moved even farther west to the Pima Villages, capturing 300,000 lbs. of flour and other supplies intended for Union troops, distributing them among the area natives.

Opposing Hunter was the Union California Column, troops from the Golden State who had been raised to remove the Rebels at Tucson (thought by some to number around 1,000) and to retake the forts in Arizona and New Mexico. The force was still gathering at Fort Yuma, along the California/Arizona border, and it was suspected by Union commanders in California that they wouldn’t move out until early April, due to the conditions of the roads.

In the Southwest, news traveled only at the speed of a horse. Major Rigg, commander at Fort Yuma, was told to send a company of infantry to the Pima Villages if there was any danger of the Rebels capturing it. That company was to meet up with Captain William McCleave of the 1st California Cavalry, who had already been dispatched with forty men to act as scouts.1

Having not heard from McCleave, Major Rigg suspected the worst and wrote to his commander, Col. James Carleton, still preparing to head east from Los Angeles to head up the California Column, and expressed his fears that McCleave had been captured. Carleton, who seemed to idolize McCleave, replied “McCleave is too good of a soldier to have been taken. I think you will find him all right.” A few days later (March 20), Rigg received word that McCleave was not alright; he had been captured and the Rebels who captured him had also taken the Pima Villages.2

Carleton refused to believe that his hero had been captured. But Major Rigg did believe it, and on this date, began to act upon it. Losing McCleave would be a great loss, and so Rigg resolved to recapture him, quickly assembling nearly 300 men for the task. The plan was a simple one. The infantry would demonstrate on their front, while the cavalry (made up of McCleave’s company) would dash into the rear. Time was a huge factor, since it was looking more and more like the Rebels were merely a large raiding party sent to take Tucson and then retreat back to Mesilla, near the Texas/New Mexico border.3

Also of concern was the much larger force of Confederates under General Henry Sibley. Carleton had learned that Sibley probably defeated Col. Canby at Fort Craig (which was true), but was unsure where they were going next. As far as he knew, they may already be in control of all of New Mexico.

Sibley, however, was not quite there. After defeating Canby at Fort Craig, he and his Army of New Mexico headed north and captured Albuquerque and Santa Fe, leaving Canby’s wounded force behind.

The Confederate force of 2,500 had been divided into three columns. The first, now 380-strong under Major Pyron, was in Santa Fe. The second, under Col. Tom Green, was moving east from town. The largest column, roughly 1,000-strong, under Col. Scurry, was in Galesteo, fifteen miles south of Santa Fe.4

In Santa Fe, Major Pyron had received word that Federal troops from Fort Union were heading his way down the Santa Fe Trail. By evening, they bivouacked eighteen miles east at Johnson’s Ranch [near modern Canoncito], at the mouth of Apache Canyon, a narrow, seven-mile long pass through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

It was true that the Federals were heading towards Santa Fe. They had encamped at Bernal Springs, forty miles away from the Rebel camp. Col. Slough, Federal commander, had dispatched Major John Chivington with 400 men to capture Santa Fe. On this date, he arrived near the Pecos Ruins, and set up camp. They were about thirteen miles east of Pyron’s Confederates.

Both sides sent out pickets. During the night, the Union scouts had gotten between the Rebel scouts and their camp, managing to capture four of them. The Confederate pickets, one being a former Union officer on Canby’s staff, were interrogated. From the prisoners, Chivington learned of Pyron’s force and decided to scrap his original plan to retake Santa Fe in favor of attacking the Rebels, which he would do the following morning.5

The Southwestern waters, shallow as they may have been, were about to recede for the Confederacy.

1.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 50, Part 1, p917-932. [↩]
2.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 50, Part 1, p934; 939. [↩]
3.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 50, Part 1, p944; 950-951. [↩]
4.The Battle of Glorietta Pass by Thomas S. Edrington & John Taylor. [↩]
5.Sibley’s New Mexico Campaign by Martin Hardwick Hall. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Lun 26 Mar - 21:35

Abolitionist Attacked in pro-Union Cincinnati

March 24, 1862 (Monday)

More than most other Northern cities, Cincinnati, Ohio had quite a bit to lose when it came to severing ties with its Southern contacts. Though Cincinnati sat just up the Ohio River from Louisville, a city that was technically still loyal to the Union, trading with any state in rebellion was strictly forbidden.

It was not that Cincinnati was a pro-Southern state. During the 1860 election, Southern Democrat John Breckenridge received a shabby 1% of the vote, while Lincoln won the plurality of votes, taking ten of the seventeen wards.

When Lincoln called for Ohio to provide 13,000 troops at the beginning of the war, Cincinnati herself could provide nearly that much. The city seemed to view itself not as pro-Southern or Northern, but as Western, Unionist and comfortable with the way things had been. Wishing to retain the status quo, the citizens were largely in favor of, or indifferent to, the institution of slavery, which could be seen right across the river in Kentucky.

And right across the river is exactly where most of Cincinnati’s residents wished to keep the slaves. If the slaves were emancipated, they feared that tens of thousands of freemen would cross the river and steal their jobs.1

Measures were already being taken to make sure such a travesty did not happen. Whites in Cincinnati, mostly Irish and Germans, attacked free blacks throughout 1861 and 1862. They believed that the free blacks were enticing Kentucky’s slaves to escape, come to Cincinnati and take the low paying jobs away from the white immigrants.2 The city’s newspapers, conservative as they were, fueled this line of thinking.

It wasn’t, however, just a question of labor, it was absolutely a question of supremacy. At the start of the war, when the city’s black men wished to show their patriotism by organizing a militia unit, they were thwarted at every step by the white authorities. The group was, at first, disallowed to meet, and when they finally found a space to recruit black men for the Union, they were forced to remove the United States flag they had hung above the door. Blacks at another recruitment were told by police: “We want you damned niggers to keep out of this; this is a white man’s war.”3

This was the atmosphere that abolitionist Wendell Phillips found when he arrived in town on this date to give a speech at Pike’s Opera House. Phillips was famous not only for being anti-slavery, but for being pro-secession, believing that the Union could not win the war.4 Holding these views won him few friends in Cincinnati.

When Phillips took the stage at 8pm, he asked his audience three questions. First, he asked, how long is the war to last? Second, what will become of slavery? Lastly, what will become of the Union? When he next said that he had been an abolitionist for sixteen years, many in the crowd hissed.

As he continued, people from the balcony began lobbing rotten eggs at the podium, striking Phillips on his right side. He went on as if nothing had happened, the eggs, and even stones, falling faster about his feet.

Even when someone in the crowd hurled a paving stone at him, missing its mark only slightly, he remained focused upon his words, which were constantly being accented by boos and cat calls from the balcony. Upwards of 400 dissenters were becoming more and more enraged by Phillips’ speech, and it became clear that they were quickly devolving into a mob.

There were no police inside the building and but few supporters to hold back the throng. Several were injured in the melee that followed. Some of the ladies left their seats, as, for ten minutes, Phillips tried to make it through his address.

The jeering and hissing grew louder and rowdier, as they shouted, “Put him out,” “Tar and feather him,” and gave groans for the “nigger, Wendell Phillips.” Soon, the entire mob burst down the stairs into the middle aisle as one of their leaders yelled “to the stage!”

Somehow they were held back, but chairs and canes were thrown at Phillips, who was rushed off the stage by a few supporters.5

The mob took to the streets, but Phillips and his supporters were gone. The mayor, who was not quite a southern sympathizer, made no effort to suppress the crowd as they searched the area, calling for Phillips’ life.6

The next day, in a letter written to a friend, Phillips seemed to laugh it off. “The Cincinnati Opera House suggested Tremont Temple,” he wroterecalling similar riots in New England, “the rats of the West closely resembled those of the East. These and those alike nibble, gnaw – and run.“7

1.The Impact of the Civil War on Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, 1861-1865 by Matthew Elrod, 2006. [↩]
2.On Jordan’s Banks: Emancipation and Its Aftermath in the Ohio River Valley by Darrel E. Bigham, University Press of Kentucky, 2006. [↩]
3.We are the Revolutionists: German-Speaking Immigrants & American Abolitionists after 1848 by Mischa Honeck, University of Georgia Press, 2011. [↩]
4.See Wendell Phillips’ speech in New Bedford, April 9, 1861. [↩]
5.Cincinnati Gazette, March 25, 1862. As well as the New York Times, March 25, 1862. [↩]
6.Centennial History of Cincinnati and Representative Citizens, Volume 1 by Charles Theodore Greve, 1904. [↩]
7.Wendell Phillips: The Agitator by William Carlos Martyn, Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1890. [↩]

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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Lun 26 Mar - 21:30

“We Are In For It”: Jackson’s Impertinence Costs Him Dearly at Kernstown

March 23, 1862 (Sunday)


It is easy to believe that the scrap between Union skirmishers and Turner Ashby’s Rebel cavalry, the previous day, would have caused both sides to be overly cautious. That seems not to have been the case.

The Confederates, under General Stonewall Jackson, were marching northward from their camp, some forty miles away. Ashby had told Jackson that only four regiments of Union infantry occupied Winchester and both were excited to attack. General Shields, commanding 9,000 or so Federals, for some reason believed the enemy to be gone. He told Col. Jeremiah C. Sullivan, one of his three brigade commanders, that there was no danger of Jackson attacking, even stating that Stonewall was afraid of him.

Both Jackson and Shields were simply wrong. As Shields was telling Sullivan to take his brigade north of town, south of town, Ashby’s Rebel cavalry reappeared. By 9am, they lobbed a shell towards the Union skirmish line. Though it was harmless, it changed the pleasant spring morning considerably.

General Shields had been wounded the previous day and so field command fell to Col. Nathan Kimball, a captain during the Mexican War, and physician before the present conflict. Though never schooled in the military arts, Col. Kimball was taking quite naturally to them. The Union division under Kimball was located just north of the small village of Kernstown, along the Valley Turnpike. As Ashby opened fire, he saw that his own position, atop Pritchard’s Hill on the west side of the Turnpike, commanded the ground to his front. He called upon artillery, which came up quickly, with ten guns gaping up the Valley towards any Rebels that might venture northward.

Ashby had thrown up a heavy skirmish line on either side of the Turnpike, and so Kimball did the same, sending them towards the Rebel line. After some back and forth, it was clear that the Confederates intended to stay. Kimball called up another regiment and was able to finally push back Ashby’s cavaliers around 11am.

During this lull before noon, Turner Ashby was still convinced that only a few Union regiments were before him. Col. Kimball, on the other hand, was having doubts that Ashby’s Cavalry were the only Rebels to his front, and strengthened his line with infantry. He placed his own brigade (now commanded by Col. Samuel S. Carroll) on the west side of the Turnpike, and Col. Sullivan’s brigade, who did not retire north of Winchester, on the east.

Nearing 1pm, Jackson’s three brigades of infantry arrived south of, and hidden from, the Union position. Realizing that they would soon be spotted, Jackson had his men move west, off the Turnpike, with the prospects of bivouacking for the day. He did not order Ashby to reconnoiter the ground.

This day in 1862 was a Sunday. Jackson was determined to honor the Sabbath and not engage in mortal conflict during the Lord’s Day. His men, having just marched fourteen miles that morning, and twenty-two miles the day before, were jubilant for the rest. Jackson resolved, at first, to let his men rest. The trek had cost him nearly a quarter of his army in stragglers, who would, no doubt, come up over the next day or so. He seemed to have no fear that the Union would attack him and so planned to fight on Monday.

As Jackson surveyed the ground, however, he saw a great opportunity. Believing, as Ashby had reported, that only a small Union rear guard remained at Winchester, he decided to pounce. Opposing the Union-held high ground was Sandy Ridge. Jackson wanted to seize the ridge, and slip around the Union right flank, routing them and taking Winchester, a few miles to the north.

Around 4pm, Jackson first sent two regiments from Col Samuel V. Fulkerson’s brigade, with the Stonewall Brigade, commanded by General Richard B. Garnett, in tow. Fulkerson’s men dashed forward, barely beating their Union counterparts to a stone wall. They let loose a furious volley, throwing the Federals back. There, the battle raged for an hour and a half.

When Col. Kimball first caught sight of Stonewall’s advancing men, he realized that his right flank was dangling and in grave danger. He quickly sent for Col. Erastus B. Tyler’s Brigade, which took a back road to the north end of Sandy Ridge. Leaving the road, they trudged through rocks, underbrush and a ravine before shooting it out with the Rebel skirmish line that was already advancing down the north face of the ridge.

Back on the Confederate right, seeing that the two regiments to his front were stalled and that the entire Stonewall Brigade would suffer greatly, General Garnett began to move his troops to the left, towards the woods on Sandy Ridge, his regiments becoming entangled in the brush and themselves.

Jackson took notice of the firing coming from the north face of Sandy Ridge and quickly concluded that there were more than a few regiments of Yankees to his front. After a scout returned with the news that there were, perhaps, three times the suspected number, Jackson deftly surmised, “we are in for it,” and went towards the rear to hurry along the brigade held in reserve.

Meanwhile, the battle continued, as the Rebel ammunition dwindled. General Garnett also realized they were “in for it,” and, after much consideration, decided to withdraw the Stonewall Brigade. As they retired, so did the regiments of Fulkerson’s Brigade.

All of this was unknown to Jackson, who had found the 5th Virginia, his largest infantry regiment. Jackson rode with them, waving his hat and yelling “Cheer the reinforcements!” and ordering the 5th to “reinforce the infantry engaged.”

By this time, however, there were no infantry engaged. All around him, the boys of the Stonewall Brigade filed past. When he spied General Garnett, he growled, “Why have you not rallied your men? Halt and Rally.” To the troops retreating to the rear, Jackson called, “go back and give them the bayonet!”

Through this came the 5th Virginia. Its Colonel found Garnett, who told them there was nothing they could do, but also ordered them to move to the left and cover the retreat. As they were doing just that, Jackson rode up and thought he heard and saw Garnett ordering the 5th to retreat.

The 5th were not at all retreating (and Garnett probably never ordered them to do so). With an additional regiment on their right, they held back the surging Federals as the rest of Jackson’s army left the field. The Union forces did not pursue the Rebels as they marched five miles south, encamping south of Newton. Though they did not chase after Jackson that night, General Banks, overall commander of the troops, recalled the brigade of General Williams, en route to Centreville. The next morning, they resolved to take the fight to Jackson.

Jackson’s mistake had caught him and his men dearly. They suffered 139 killed, 312 wounded, and 253 captured, nearly a quarter of his entire force. The Union faired better, sustaining 118 killed, 450 wounded, and 22 missing or captured, less than a tenth of their total number.

1.Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel H. Beatie. [↩]
2.Shenandoah 1862 by Peter Cozzens. [↩]
3.Stonewall Jackson by James I Robertson. [↩]
4.Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel H. Beatie. [↩]
5.Stonewall in the Valley by Robert G. Tanner. [↩]
6.Shenandoah 1862 by Peter Cozzens. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 22 Mar - 18:44

The Deceptive Little Skirmish Before Kernstown

March 22, 1862 (Saturday)

After the few days’ reconnaissance and tangling with what he, at first, believed was Stonewall Jackson’s entire force, General Shields could relax. He had taken his division south from Winchester, chasing the retreating Rebels, had exchanged shots with Turner Ashby’s cavalry and had determined that Jackson was staying put near Mount Jackson, forty miles south. Shields had returned the previous night, through heavy rains and soggy roads.

But today was a new day. Rather than occupying the town of Winchester itself, he decided to move his headquarters two miles north. Since his was now the only division inside the Shenandoah Valley, he encamped his men near, and north of, his headquarters. Inside and south of town, he placed the Ringgold and Michigan Cavalry as skirmishers.

The division of General Williams had been called to cover Centreville (and thus Washington) while General McClellan’s Army of the Potomac steamed down its namesake river for the Virginia Peninsula. Williams’ First Brigade moved out the previous day, as Shields was trudging north, and his remaining two were stepping off on this date. 1

Meanwhile, at Camp Buchanan, near Mount Jackson, General Jackson was already on the march north. He had received word that the Union forces forty miles north were pulling out of the Valley to reinforce McClellan. Less of the enemy to his front meant more of the enemy before Richmond, and so he had to keep as many Yankees busy for as long as possible.

Though the information he received from Turner Ashby was correct, nobody knew exactly how many Federals were waiting at Winchester. The captured Yankees claimed to have 20,000, but Ashby (and thus Jackson) believed they were lying, that there were no more than 10,000 Union troops to their front. While this was a closer figure, it was still an over-estimation, as Shields’ had roughly 7,000 men, all told.2

Riding well in front of Jackson’s command, Turner Ashby’s Cavalry, here, only about 290-strong, nipped at the heels of General Shields’ Division. By early afternoon, they found themselves pushing in the Union pickets south of Winchester. Now, just north of Kernstown, a few miles south of Winchester, Ashby discovered the bulk of Union supplies, sitting in wagons on the edge of town.

He unlimbered his three guns and sent shells tearing through the mass. Guarding the wagon were a few companies of Pennsylvania troops. As the wagons were sent back, they pushed Ashby’s men in the other direction. Soon, word was sent to General Shields that Rebel Cavalry were attacking south of town. Shields paid the message no mind.

As a full regiment of Union infantry began to engage Ashby, another message went to Shields. Finally, the division commander ordered a brigade forward and rode to the south end of town, but could see no enemy. The outnumbered Rebels had been pushed back.

Shields doubted that a few hundred cavaliers could cause so much commotion, and rode out with a few officers to investigate. Ashby’s artillery spotted the group and, finding their range, fired upon them. A shell burst in the air above, sending bits of iron into General Shields’ left arm, shoulder and chest, throwing him several feet from his horse.

As more Rebel shells burst around them, killing a few horses and wounding a few artillerymen, an ambulance was called for. Drifting in and out of consciousness, Shields ordered that his wounding be kept secret from the men, that it would be dressed and he would return to the saddle shortly.3

The Union command, now under Col. Nathan Kimball, pushed Ashby completely out of the picture. Seeing that it was futile, Ashby returned south, to Jackson’s main body, near Strasburg.

That night, the commanding officers of both forces were gravely mistaken. General Nathaniel Banks, Fifth Corps Commander, was preparing to leave Winchester for Centreville, following Williams’ division, which was already out of town. He dismissed all reports that Jackson’s entire force was about to hit them. Only Col. Kimball’s Brigade was south of town.

At Strasburg, Ashby informed Jackson that only four regiments remained in Winchester, and that they were soon leaving for Harpers Ferry. This was an incredibly unbelievable falsehood. Yet, both Ashby and Jackson trusted the news. Still resolved to hit the Yankees before they could leave the Valley, and hoping to draw more into it, Jackson’s plan was unaltered. He would attack the next day.4

Union Commanders in New Mexico: With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies?

Col. Edward Canby, commander of the divided Union force in New Mexico, was determined to protect his supply line at Fort Union, just north of Las Vegas. The Rebels, 2,500-strong, under General Henry Sibley, just now moving out of Albuquerque, were determined to destroy each column of Federals in turn, before they could be united.

There was, however, a difference of opinions within the Union ranks. Col. Canby, at Fort Craig, over 225 miles south of Fort Union, had ordered that Fort Union be held, even stating the “all other points are of no importance.” Though Fort Craig, to the south, had to be held, Canby resolved to take his 1,800 troops northward at the last possible moment. “Do not move from Fort Union to meet me,” he told his subordinate, “until I advise you of the route and point of junction.”5

The problem was that Col. John Potts Slough was new to command. He outranked the fort’s previous commander, Col. Gabriel Paul, by a few weeks. While Slough had zero military training, Paul was a West Point graduate. The issue with Canby’s order was one of interpretation.

And so began the passing of letters between Slough and Paul, each addressed to the other at Fort Union. Paul, taking Canby’s order not to leave the fort quite literally, refused to leave the fort with his troops. Slough, who had already determined that he wanted to move his force closer to Santa Fe, disagreed. Taking an advanced position, he thought, would still cover the fort and would honor the spirit of Canby’s order. If the occasion arose, he could even attack and best the Rebels. Also, since he outranked Paul, he ordered Paul’s troops (but not Paul) to come along.

Paul was not yet conceding defeat. He unequivocally stated that Slough should not have been placed in charge and that attacking the Rebels was an obvious violation of Canby’s order. “With due deference to your superior judgment” replied Paul, probably unable to keep a straight face, “I must insist that your plans … must inevitably result in disaster to us all.” He formally protested against the move, as he “believed it in direct disobedience of the orders of Colonel Canby.”

That afternoon, Col. Slough and most of Col. Paul’s troops departed Fort Union 1,400-strong, leaving Paul with “a feeble garrison and no suitable artillery for the defense of the principal and most important post in the Territory.”6

Col. Slough’s march of questionable legality reached the village of Loma by nightfall. According to one of the Colorado officers, many of the soldiers whiled away the hours “carousing with the Mexican women and fighting with the Mexican men.” It would not be long until the Confederates in Santa Fe learned of this movement.7


Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel H. Beatie. [↩]
Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 12, Part 3, p836. [↩]
Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel H. Beatie. As well as Shenandoah 1862 by Peter Cozzens. [↩]
Shenandoah 1862 by Peter Cozzens. [↩]
Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p653. [↩]
Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p653-655. [↩]
The Battle of Glorieta Pass by Thomas S. Edrington and John Taylor. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 22 Mar - 18:41

Stonewall Jackson and the Mennonites Who Could Not Be Made to Aim

March 21, 1862 (Friday)

It must have been surprising, at least curious, that an entire Federal division, poised to move up the Shenandoah Valley, faced with a mere 700 cavalry, did not pursue the much smaller Rebel force under Stonewall Jackson. After their minor scrap with Turner Ashby’s troopers near Strasburg, Union General Shields’ Division had retired all the way back to Winchester, over forty miles north of Jackson’s camp near Mount Jackson.

Ashby noted this and reported it to Jackson. Through hawkish, blustery rain, the messenger rode south along the Valley Turnpike.1

At Camp Buchanan, near Mount Jackson, the small army had received a number of reinforcements, swelling Jackson’s strength to around 4,000. There was, however, a problem.

During the era of the war, German immigrants were more associated with the North, through commanders like Sigel, Steinwehr, Schurtz and Schimelfenig. A full 7% of the Federal army was made up of Germans, coming especially from Unionist Missouri and Pennsylvania. However, in the Shenandoah Valley, there lived an enormous German population.

Jackson’s regiments, culled from the Valley, showed this population well. In the 10th Virginia, for example, 51% of the boys had German surnames. They came mostly from Warren, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Page Counties, the areas around where Jackson was currently camped. While the volunteers offered a glimpse into the Valley population, the new recruits, forced in from conscriptions, offered the best cross-section.

When new conscripts came from Rockingham, Shenandoah and Page Counties, with them came the young Mennonites, Dunkers, and Quakers – all pacifists, refusing war due to their religious conviction that Jesus Christ was the Prince of Peace, not of War. These men, of course, did not volunteer, but were rather forced against their will to join Jackson’s army.

These were also not newly-immigrated Germans. The pacifist sects had been a staple of the Shenandoah Valley since before the Revolutionary War. In fact, they were some of the first settlers in the Valley, arriving in the 1730s. At the start of that earlier conflict for independence, the peace-loving Germans were exempted from service. As the war progressed, they were required to enlist, but not to fight. Towards the end of the Revolution, their enlistment was still compulsory, but they were allowed to hire substitutes at their own expense.2

Jackson took a similar approach, respecting the religious convictions of his new soldiers. While he was not about to excuse them from the duty he believed they held to Virginia, he understood his predicament. Though he must have known of the pacifist population before this time, he first discovered it in his army when eighteen new recruits were caught trying to escape. Some, he assumed, would hire substitutes, but those who stayed had already claimed that they wouldn’t shoot. “They can be made to fire,” wrote Jackson wrote to Richmond, “but they can very easily take bad aim.”

It was here that Jackson became an adept politician, striving for a compromise everybody could stomach. To give his command “the highest degree of efficiency” and to secure “loyal feelings and co-operation,” Jackson decided to file the pacifist recruits into full companies of 100 men each and assign them various noncombatant jobs.

Jackson realized that the Germans were both “good teamsters and faithful to their promise” of loyalty to the Confederacy. They would be put to work as teamsters and would be used to fill various staff positions that did not require the issuing of arms.

This arrangement would “not only enable many volunteers to return to the ranks, but will also save many valuable horses and other public property in addition to arms.” Due to their honesty and variety of work, Jackson even mused

Of course, if they did not do their jobs, he would be compelled “to have them drilled, so that in case circumstances should justify it arms may be given them.”3

Jackson may have assumed that the German Christians were loyal to Virginia, but he was probably intelligent enough to understand they were just as opposed to slavery as they were to war. Many outside of the close religious communities looked down upon the sects as abolitionists. While many of the newly-immigrated Germans in the North fought from the beginning to end slavery, the institution of human chattel had been opposed by the pacifistic orders since the 1700s.4

Like many people of the border states, the Mennonite Church was split on how to handle the war and the draft. While some of the younger men volunteered prior to conscription, others hid themselves in mountain camps or in basements for fear of being captured by Confederate patrols. The Mennonite elders, however, preached that one could not enter the military and still remain loyal to the Church. Interestingly enough, the sect also preached neutrality, officially siding with neither the North nor the South, even though their opposition to slavery was well known.5

With the issue of the pacifists solved (at least temporarily), towards evening, Jackson received Turner Ashby’s message that Union General Shields had withdrawn back to Winchester. Jackson realized what this meant – that the Federals were drawing units from the Shenandoah Valley to reinforce the main body of the Army of the Potomac. Though he could not know that the main body was en route to the Virginia Peninsula, he was otherwise spot on.

This realization meant but one thing to Jackson. Less of the enemy in front of him meant more of the enemy in front of Richmond. Though forty miles away from the nearest Federals, he knew he had to do something to convince them to stick around for a little while longer.

Jackson resolved that, at dawn, his army would march north to engage the foe. It was here that the Shenandoah Valley and Stonewall Jackson became forever bound.6


Stonewall Jackson by James I. Robertson. [↩]
The German Element of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
by John Walter Wayland, 1907, p96, 122. [↩]
Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 12, Part 3, p835. [↩]
The German Element of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by John Walter Wayland, 1907, p128. [↩]
Mennonite Church History by Jonas Smucker Hartzler, Mennonite Book and Tract Society, 1905, p208-209. [↩]
Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 12, Part 1, p380-381. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 22 Mar - 18:38

Rebels in New Mexico Begin their Campaign in Earnest

March 20, 1862 (Thursday)

By this time, General Henry Hopkins Sibley had settled into his new headquarters in Albuquerque. His Confederate Army of New Mexico, victorious after the Battle of Valverde, left the Union force of Col. Canby at Fort Craig in their rear and marched north.

While Sibley remained in town, he had vanquished most of his force into the Sandia Mountains, east of the settlement. There they had stayed, with eyes upon Santa Fe for over two weeks, but had spent much of the time shivering in the severe wind, cold and snow.

Wanting to capture Santa Fe, the territorial capital, Sibley (actually, the commander of the vanguard, Major Charles Pyron) had dispatched about a dozen soldiers to seize the town, which had been abandoned by the small Federal force from Fort Union.

Lying nearly 150 miles northeast, Fort Union, near Las Vegas, was the base of area Federal soldiers, and a vital link on the supply line to Col. Canby at Fort Craig. If Fort Union fell, Canby would be cut off and forced to surrender. All of New Mexico Territory [which included all of modern-day New Mexico and Arizona] would be under Confederate rule.

Before leaving on his campaign, President Jefferson Davis entrusted Sibley “with the important duty of driving the Federal troops from that department, at the same time securing all the arms, supplies, and materials of war.” Following the drive, he was to “proceed to organize a military government within the Territory….”1 Taking Fort Union would accomplish the first goal, and Sibley wasn’t thinking much at all about the second.

His immediate plan was simple: keep the Union forces at Forts Craig (1,800-strong) and Union (1,400-strong) from combining. He first wanted to take care of Fort Union, defeat the Federals and capture the much-needed supplies. To accomplish this, he planned to split his army of 2,500 into three columns.

The first, roughly 200-strong, was to move north to Santa Fe, which was already occupied by Major Charles Pyron, who would be in command. The second column, under Col. Tom Green, would first move east, through Anton Chico, and then north towards Las Vegas. The largest, under Col. William Scurry, would take the middle road through Galisteo. This would allow Scurry to support Green, should Canby from Fort Craig come out of his hole, or Pyron, if the Federals from Fort Union got ambitious.2

On this date, Sibley’s army began to move. From the East Mountains, Major John Shropshire, a Texas lawyer, stepped off towards Santa Fe with four companies of the 5th Texas Mounted Volunteers to reinforce Pyron. Somewhere in the sixty miles between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, a Confederate foraging party stumbled upon around 120 Federals patrolling the passes and roads.

As the four Rebels crested a hill, they saw the Union troops two miles away, atop an opposite hill. Somehow, the Federals caught site of the Rebels and charged them. Not wanting to put up such a fight, they took to their horses and scurried back to the main body. The Union cavalry quickly abandoned the chase when seeing the Rebel camp.3

General Sibley’s delay in Albuquerque was a boon to the Federals. It allowed Col. Canby’s force to recover from their defeat and it gave time for reinforcements from Colorado to bolster the numbers at Fort Union. It also allowed the chance for both Union forces to effect a juncture. Col. John Slough, the new commander of Fort Union, taking over for Col. Gabriel Paul, on this date, was preparing his men for a march south towards Fort Craig.

At Fort Craig, however, Col. Canby had thought of a better plan. Since Fort Union was a link on the Federal supply line, it would be wiser to protect it. Though not quite ready to move out, he fixed it in his mind to soon make the push northward. Instead, he sent a messenger to Col. Slough (actually Paul, since he was unaware of the command change), telling him to stay put. This message would arrive the next day.

Both Union and Confederate armies were soon to be on the move, almost blindly stumbling towards each other.4


Jackson Prepares to March Upon an Unsuspecting Foe; Hotchkiss Arrives

Rain had fallen through the night and morning in the Shenandoah Valley, soaking the men and muddying the Turnpike. General Shields and his division had tangled with Stonewall Jackson’s Rebel cavalry the previous day, and probably surmised that the enemy was hunkering down near Mount Jackson, twenty miles to the south.

Towards noon, Shields began to move his troops the twenty-two miles to Winchester, away from Jackson. They wouldn’t arrive until after dark. Soon, General Shields and his 6,000 men would be the only Union force in the Valley. Due to McClellan’s Peninsula Plan, General Banks’ Corps, to which Shields’ belonged, was covering Washington. General Williams’ Division, which had been with Shields to this point, was moving out for Centreville over the next day or so. Both Union commanders figured that Jackson had no plans to move north.5

That was, however, blatantly untrue. Jackson had been reinforced and was readying his men to attack the Federals. Turner Ashby, who commanded Jackson’s cavalry, reported that the Union troops were moving back to Winchester (Jackson would receive the message the following day). Jackson’s commander, General Joe Johnston, who had also pulled south from the Centreville/Manassas line, had suggested that Jackson do what he could to keep as many Union troops in the Valley as possible. If they were in the Valley, they couldn’t be used to reinforce McClellan.

Though risky, Jackson was determined to advance. First, however, there was a slight problem. Some of the reinforcements refused to fight. They were Virginians, but before that, they were Mennonites, Duckers and Quakers – sworn pacifists who could never be made to fire a musket at another man. Jackson was in a quandary over how to handle these soldiers.

Unable to count upon the faithful, Jackson welcomed 500 additional troops on this date. Included in their number was Jedediah Hotchkiss, an engineer, geologist, and, most importantly, a cartographer. He, like Jackson, (and the pacifists, for that matter), was a strict man of God. Soon, Hotchkiss would become indispensable to Jackson.6


Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 4, p93. [↩]
The Battle of Glorieta Pass by Thomas S. Edrington and John Taylor. [↩]
Blood & Treasure; Confederate Empire in the Southwest by Donald S. Frazier. [↩]
Sibley’s New Mexico Campaign by Martin Hardwick Hall. [↩]
Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel H. Beatie. [↩]
Stonewall Jackson by James I. Robertson. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 22 Mar - 18:36

Turner Ashby Takes the Yankees for a Ride; Grant Consolidates

March 19, 1862 (Wednesday)


By the chilly dawn, Union troops had expeditiously thrown a flimsy bridge across Cedar Creek, just north of Strasburg, in the Shenandoah Valley. The previous day, they arrived just in time to see Turner Ashby’s Rebel cavalry, numbering near 700, set a torch to the bridge and exchange some artillery fire.

With the bridge ready for use, General James Shields moved his 6,000-strong division across the creek, marching for Strasburg. As they neared the town, the Rebels greeted them with artillery. Already annoyed, Shields was also a bit confused.

As they moved through the town and as the Rebel gunners fired from the south, Shields assumed that it was Jackson’s entire force before him. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. Jackson’s command was near Mount Jackson, twenty or so miles farther south. Immediately, Shields deployed his division, placing his own artillery on a hill to the right of the Turnpike.

Both sides engaged in a bit of dueling, and Shields ordered Col. John Mason forward with a regiment of cavalry and infantry. Forward they marched, across hills and swales, for over a mile, until they crested a larger hill, where they came under the fire from their own artillery, which had apparently not yet found its range. Following the unexpected death of a few horses, as well as the surprise of the riders, they got their first look at “Jackson’s whole force.”

Col. Mason discovered that it was only cavalry with a couple of cannons. As the Union troops advanced, the Rebels would fall back to the next hill. Soon, Shields brought up most of his division, and spent the remainder of the day throwing a regiment or two at a time towards Ashby’s men, who continued falling back. This went on for about five miles, when the sun began to dip west towards the horizon. Unsure how far away Jackson’s whole force actually was, Shields and his division fell back to Strasburg, leaving behind a strong picket line along the hills south of town.1

It was here that Turner Ashby became nearly a ghostly legend to the Union troops. Throughout the day, he had appeared out of nowhere upon his white horse. His artillery, consisting of only two or three guns, held back a force nearly ten times their number. It was there that Ashby became “the terror and the wizard of the Shenandoah.”2


Grant Shifts His Army Across the Tennessee, Waits for Buell

General Grant was again in his element, commanding troops in the field. His close brush with infamy had been thankfully short. He was restored to command and left almost immediately to join his Army of the Tennessee, gathering near Savannah on the Tennessee River.

When Grant arrived at Savannah, his base of operations, he found the army divided. The divisions of Generals McClernand and Smith were encamped on the eastern shore at Savannah, but General Sherman’s and General Hurlbut’s Divisions were at Pittsburg Landing, nine miles upriver on the western shore. General Lew Wallace’s Division split the distance and was at Crump’s Landing, four miles upstream from Savannah.

The first thing Grant did when he arrived was order most of the army to be concentrated, leaving behind General McClernand’s Division in Savannah.3 Trying to get the feel of the land, Grant visited both Pittsburg and Crump’s Landing. Due to the flooded state of the Tennessee, he found that these were the only places where troops could be landed.

Grant was also able to gather some information about the Rebels at Corinth. Their strength could not be more than 20,000, General Sherman reported to him. They had some heavy artillery, but no fortifications. Also, they didn’t seem to suspect that Grant’s Army of the Tennessee was going to be an issue, as they expected General Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio to arrive at any time.4

General Buell’s army, however, was stuck along the muddy banks of Duck River, near Columbia, over 100 miles away. The Rebels had burned a bridge and Buell insisted upon having it properly rebuilt, rather than a temporary, make-shift bridge, quickly constructed. Buell was in no real hurry, but neither Grant nor his superior, General Halleck, had made it seem like there was a need. Buell had no idea that Grant had crossed almost his entire army to the west side of the swollen Tennessee River.5

Meanwhile, Grant was curious, or “a little anxious,” as he put it, to find out where Buell was and how long it would take him to get to Savannah. To learn this, he sent two scouts in search of Buell’s army. With them, he sent a message, informing Buell that he was concentrating at Pittsburg Landing.6 While Grant certainly didn’t indicate that there was a reason for Buell to pick up the pace a bit, his anxiety would not be relieved until he had a better idea of when Buell’s 37,000 would join with his 27,000.

In the meantime, Grant was receiving reinforcements from St. Louis and throwing them into brigades and then into divisions, to eventually be commanded by General Prentiss.7


Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 3, p404. [↩]
A Military History of the 8th Regiment Ohio Vol. Inf’y by Franklin Sawyer, Fairbanks & Co., 1881. [↩]
Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 10, Part 2, p45-46. [↩]
Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 10, Part 2, p48-49. [↩]
All for the Regiment; The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1862 by Gerald J. Prokopowicz, University of North Carolina Press, 2001. [↩]
Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 10, Part 2, p47. [↩]
Personal Memoirs by Ulysses S. Grant. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 22 Mar - 18:32

Hunting Jackson in the Shenandoah

March 18, 1862 (Tuesday)

One of the stipulations placed upon Union General George McClellan, when he was granted permission to move his Army of the Potomac from the entrenchments around Washington to the coastal Fortress Monroe, was that he had to leave an adequate number of troops to defend the capital. For the time being, that meant the Fifth Corps, commanded by General Nathaniel Banks.

Most of what comprised the Fifth Corps, however, was in the Shenandoah Valley. This McClellan remedied by ordering one division (half of the corps) to the old Confederate positions near Centreville and Manassas. A few days later, he ordered that only one brigade remain to watch over Stonewall Jackson’s retreating army. A day after that, however, he modified it again, back to the original order of one division in and one division out of the Valley.

While General Williams’ Division moved to Centreville to repair the railroad, General Shields’ Division was to dig in at Strasburg until the repairs were complete. Before moving either of his divisions out of the Valley, however, General Banks wanted to make sure Jackson was indeed retreating.1

After a quick sweep of the area around Winchester and Kernstown the previous day, Generals Shields and Williams decided (since Banks was still in Washington) that a much larger reconnaissance was required. Shields was to take 6,000 men south along the Valley Turnpike, while Col. John Mason, who completed the previous day’s sweep, took two regiments, some cavalry and artillery south using the Front Royal Road, which ran parallel to the route Shields was following.

Turner Ashby’s Rebel Cavalry was reportedly at Middletown, between Strasburg and Winchester. The plan was for Col. Mason’s smaller detachment to circle around them and hit them from the rear as Shields approached them from the front. Since Mason had to march upwards of thirty miles to make this happen, Shields stepped off later.

While the trek south could hardly be described as leisurely, there was no hurry in their pace. As Shields’ men tramped along the Valley Turnpike, Mason’s men hung a right on a secondary road before Front Royal, keeping the Shenandoah River on their left. As this small road neared the Valley Turnpike, the 700 men of Turner Ashby’s Rebels at Cedar Creek Bridge came into view.

Ashby’s men set the bridge to burning and fired several artillery rounds at Mason’s column. The Federals opened up their own artillery, but neither side was close enough to cause the other any harm. It being late in the day and since his men had marched twenty-seven miles, Mason decided to set up camp for the night near Middletown.

When Shields’ men caught up, they arrived at the bridge to the welcome of Ashby’s guns. Shields wanted to send cavalry across under cover of night, but it was decided that the still-burning bridge would light up their movement, giving the Rebels an easy target. The next morning, he planned to take Strasburg. Through the night, some of his men were detailed to fashion a temporary bridge across Cedar Creek so they could cross at dawn.2

As the Rebels Consolidate, What are the Federals About?

(Note: It might be helpful to open up the map in another window and refer to it as we go along.)

In the west, the Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded by General Albert Sidney Johnston, was still retreating south from Nashville. Their destination was Corinth, Mississippi, which the lead elements of the army were just reaching on this date.3

Two days prior, the Confederate rear guard was in Columbia, busy torching bridges over the Duck River, as the vanguard of General Buell’s Union Army of the Ohio galloped into town. Buell had wanted to get there before the Confederates had a chance to burn them, but he was too late. While leaving 18,000 men back in Nashville, and sending 8,000 through Murfreesboro to Shelbyville, Buell started his remaining 37,000 towards Columbia on the 15th. The plan was for Buell to reinforce Grant’s 27,000 at Pittsburg Landing and Savannah.

On this date, the first of Buell’s main body arrived at the burned out bridge that once spanned the flooded river. The engineers, as well as many of an Indiana regiment, began to work on repairing it. This mishap would delay things. Buell wired General Halleck, his new department commander, that it would take four or five days to rebuild the bridge. Buell, however, was still in Nashville, and received the word secondhand.4

Meanwhile, the Rebels were trying to figure out just what the Union command, now completely under General Halleck, was about. Observing the situation, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard must have felt threatened from all sides.

On his left, General Pope’s Union Army of the Mississippi, 18,000-strong, was in New Madrid and attacking Island No. 10. Towards the center, Grant’s 27,000 men of the Army of the Tennessee were gathering at Pittsburg Landing and Savannah. On this date, Beauregard concluded that Union gunboats were about to attack Florance, where he had a small force. Though the attack never materialized, it was clear that he was in a fog.

Coming in on his right were the 17,000 men of Johnston’s Confederate Army of Tennessee to hold Corinth, though most were still on the road from Shelbyville. From the west, General Earl Van Dorn’s Army of the West, 14,000-strong, recently whipped at Pea Ridge, were ordered to make their way to the Mississippi River. Beauregard tried to acquire transports from New Orleans to speed Van Dorn’s arrival, but due to a bizarre personal/political argument between Governor Moore of Louisiana and President Davis, Moore would not allow the transports to leave the city.

Now that the Rebels were concentrating their western armies, bringing their potential total to 58,000 (with Van Dorn), they actually stood a chance at almost evening the odds with the various Union armies, totaling upwards of 70,000. The question was, however, what were the Federals up to? At this point, with the bridge at Duck River out and Island No. 10 holding on for dear life, not even the Federals knew the answer.5


1.Shenandoah 1862 by Peter Cozzens. [↩]
2.Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel H. Beatie. [↩]
3.Army of the Heartland; The Army of Tennessee 1861-1862by Thomas Lawrence Connelly. [↩]
4.Days of Glory; The Army of the Cumberland, 1861-1862 by Larry J. Daniel. [↩]
5.The Army of Tennessee by Stanley F. Horn. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 22 Mar - 18:29

McClellan’s Army Begins Move to Peninsula; Foote Loses More than a Battle


March 17, 1862 (Monday)


The Union Army of the Potomac, even by General George McClellan’s own admission, had been inactive all through the fall and winter. There was a purpose, claimed the General. There was a reason that the Rebels in the defenses at Centreville and Manassas had been unharmed, had been allowed to escape. The Army of the Potomac was getting ready so that they might “give the death-blow to the rebellion that has distracted our once happy country.”

McClellan was certain that he had created a real army, “magnificent in material, admirable in discipline and instruction, excellently equipped and armed.” This period of inaction was at an end. McClellan would now bring his army “face to face with the rebels, and only pray that God may defend the right.”1

This real army was, on this date, stepping aboard transports in Alexandria to be ferried to its new base of operations, Fortress Monroe, on the Virginia Peninsula. A magnificent number of crafts had been collected from up and down the northeastern shore. To carry the 121,000 men, 131 vessels had been procured. Ferry boats, stern-wheelers, river boats and seafaring packets began to take on the first of McClellan’s boys. To carry the supplies, the artillery, the animals, and wagons, 276 additional boats of varying lineage were also being filled, not only at Alexandria, but at Annapolis and at Washington, as well.2

As General Joe Johnston’s Confederates pulled south towards the Rappahannock River, they also gave up their batteries along the upper Potomac. This gave life and possibility to McClellan’s Peninsula plan. The move to Fortress Monroe had been quickly planned. Originally, McClellan wanted McDowell’s entire First Corps to leave (and thus arrive at Monroe) first. McDowell’s Corps had been at Centreville not long ago. The Third Division of the Third Corps, commanded by Generals Charles Hamilton and Samuel Heintzelman, respectively, had been left in Alexandria in reserve.

Since they were closest, they boarded first and McClellan decided to move McDowell’s Corps last, a decision he would come to regret. This created some controversy, not because Hamilton’s Division wasn’t from McDowell’s Corps, but because it was seen by some as proof that McClellan was disobeying Lincoln’s orders to organize the Army of the Potomac into corps. McClellan wanted to move his army by divisions, as it would be quicker than waiting for enough transport ships to move an entire corps at once.

In his memoirs, McClellan goes as far as saying that General McDowell had come up with the idea of moving the army by divisions, only to turn around and accuse him (McClellan) of disobeying Lincoln’s order.3

The next division, commanded by General John Porter, wouldn’t board until March 22. McClellan would not leave until April 1. It would take nearly three weeks for the entire army to arrive at Fortress Monroe.

“I am to watch over you as a parent over his children; and you know that your General loves you from the depths of his heart.”4


Foote Loses More than a Battle

The Union Western Flotilla that had unsuccessfully bombarded the Rebel works on and around Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River the previous day, had come back for more. Flag Officer Andrew Foote ordered his flagship, the USS Benton, as well as the gunboats Cincinnati and St. Louis, to again attack the Confederate fortifications. This time, however, they would focus upon the redan on the Tennessee shore.


In addition to the first three gunboats, the USS Mound City and Carondelet, as well as eight of the mortar boats also joined the fray. By 11am, the Rebels were under attack. Two hours later, all five ships were letting loose their fury upon the enemy. The Confederates finally defended themselves a little after 2pm, with three of their 8-inch Columbiads. By the time they did so, well over 100 rounds had been fired at them. Soon, though, the other batteries were awoken, hurling thirty-two pound shells at the Union fleet.

Before thirty minutes had elapsed, the USS St. Louis had taken a couple of hits, the last from a 42-pounder that exploded a shell, killing several men. The Cincinnati took hits as well. An 8-inch ball pierced the Benton’s armor and ripped through the length of the ship, finally landing in Foote’s desk.

The Confederate redan, the focus of the attack, was faring little better. The Federals had taken out one of the Columbiads and several artillerymen with it. The parapet was flooded and swampy, requiring more troops than usual to man the guns. As the Union shells felled trees and damaged the works, several hundred slaves did what they had to to keep the place together.5

Sometimes in warfare, an unrelated event changes the course of the battle. As Flag Officer Foote stood on the deck of the Benton, amid the bursts of enemy shells, he was handed a bundle of mail. Finding that one letter was from home, he opened it and calmly read it as the guns blasted forth around him. Perhaps four lines into the reading, he turned to Captain James Eads, who was by his side.

“I must ask you to excuse me for a few minutes, while I go to my cabin,” said the surprisingly composed Foote. “This letter brings me the news of the death of my son, about thirteen years old, who I had hoped would live to be the stay and support of his mother.”

Without saying another word, Foote departed. After but fifteen minutes, he returned, still perfectly composed. Captain Eads, himself aggrieved, spoke first about the battle and then told the admiral a story he remembered about his (Foote’s) young niece. This brought a small, fleeting smile to his countenance. But the battle and the antidote could not stave off the loss of his boy.6

Somehow, Foote was able to get a telegram sent out to his wife that afternoon: “May God support us. The shock stuns me in midst of fight. Thy will be done to us and ours.”

The battle was over. Foote withdrew his gunboats to the cheers of the Confederates on and around Island No. 10. The Mound City kept up her fire until midnight, but the outcome was clear, the defenses could not be broken. Though Foote would command another smaller and thinner attack the following day, he was reeling from depression and the “power of his grief.”

1.McClellan’s Address to the Army of the Potomac, March 14, 1862. As printed in the Rebellion Record, Vol. 4 edited by Frank Moore, 1862. [↩]
2.To the Gates of Richmond by Stephen W. Sears. [↩]
3.McClellan’s Own Story by George B. McClellan. In Russel H. Beatie’s Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign, it’s stated that Lincoln was “micromanaging” the affair and it was he who told McDowell to tell McClellan to move the army by divisions. Unfortunately, Beatie cites McClellan’s Own Story as the source (page 255-256), and McClellan never made that claim in his memoirs (unless I’m missing something, which is entirely possible). [↩]
4.McClellan’s Address to the Army of the Potomac, March 14, 1862. [↩]
5.Island No. 10 by Larry J. Daniel and Lynn N. Bock. [↩]
6.“Recollections of Foote and the Gun-Boats” by James Eads, as it appeared in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, Vol. 29. [↩]
7.Life of Andrew Hull Foote by James Mason Hoppin, Harper & Brothers, 1874. [↩]

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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 22 Mar - 18:25

Union Navy Begins Fruitless Bombardment of Island No. 10


March 16, 1862 (Sunday)

Though the Confederates had given up New Madrid, Missouri on the Mississippi, it was not the key to the river. Fortified much stronger than the abandoned town was Island No. 10, so named as it was the 10th island downstream from Cairo, Illinois. Island No. 10 anchored the Confederate left upon the river, while keeping it open to that point.

The Confederates, under a string of different officers, had been building up the island’s formidable defenses since summer. By this time, they had twenty guns overlooking the island and commanding the river. On the island itself were fifteen guns, as well as a floating battery holding nine additional pieces. In addition to the batteries, the Rebels had seven gunboats, commanded by George Hollins, carrying thirty-two guns in total. Roughly 4,000 Rebel troops were stationed on and around Island No. 10. When New Madrid fell, much of the garrison was taken south to Fort Pillow.


Union General John Pope, recently victorious at New Madrid, commanded roughly 22,000. They were, of course, on the Missouri side of the river, while the Rebels held the island and the Kentucky/Tennessee side. Finally coming to Pope’s aide was the Western Flotilla, led by Flag Officer Andrew Foote, with seven gunboats and nearly 1,500 infantry. Other ships towed ten mortar boats to place Island No. 10 under siege.

The Union flotilla arrived the previous day, lightly skirmishing with their Rebel counterparts. The next day, that is to say, this date, Commodore Foote, aboard the flagship USS Benton, ordered the USS Cincinnati and St. Louis to fall into line with his ship. Three-abreast, they slowly crept down the river towards the Rebel fortifications. By 8:30am, they got their first look at the Confederates camped along the shore, about two miles distant. A half hour later, a small enemy craft stuck its nose out from around a bend. The Benton lobbed several shells at her and she quickly begged off.1

All day, the Union flotilla continued shelling the island and the bluffs, nearly a mile off. At 11:30am, the mortar boats joined the action, lobbing 13-inch iron balls at the Rebel positions. Finally, at 1pm, the Rebels returned fire from the island batteries, hurling shells at the Federal ships. This, more or less, kept them at bay.2


Towards evening, a Union transport landed some Illinois troops to help in building a bridge across a slough. The Rebels caught sight of this and fired a shell across the three mile span between them, missing their mark by a mere twenty yards. The Federals soon reboarded their transports and moved a bit farther away.

As night fell, Flag Officer Foote continued to bombard the Rebel batteries, which replied once every thirty minutes. Unlike Fort Henry, it did not appear that Island No. 10 could be taken without the infantry.3

Jackson Retires Farther South

Stonewall Jackson and his army had camped for three days near Strasburg, in the Shenandoah Valley. They had vacated Winchester, which had been immediately occupied by the Federals, marching twenty miles south along the Valley Turnpike.

Though morale within his army was strong, he was not yet ready for them to fight. They were growing in number, thanks to the Confederate conscription, but many of the new troops were poorly armed (or not armed at all). Rumors from Winchester to the north were thick and unfortunately believable. When Jackson heard that Union General Nathaniel Banks had dispatched General James Shield with 9,500 men to attack him, he decided to put an even greater distance between his army and the Federals.

On the 15th, Jackson began his move. Throughout the day, they passed small town after small town, with scenes of women weeping over being left to the hands of the Union invaders. Jackson’s supplies came via the Virginia Central Railroad’s hub at Staunton, seventy-five miles south of Strasburg. Moving closer to it would hurry along the rebuilding of his army.


Fairly huge map of the Shenandoah with positions of Banks and Jacksons men.

Jackson’s army came to rest at Red Banks, a few miles north of Mt. Jackson, which they found on the afternoon of this date, naming it Camp Buchanan.

Jackson had to keep several things in mind as he strengthened his force at Red Banks. First, he had to keep General Banks from reinforcing McClellan around Manassas. Jackson, of course, had no idea that McClellan’s Army of the Potomac would soon be boarding steamers to the Virginia Peninsula. To do this, he had to make sure that Banks knew he was still in the Shenandoah Valley, but could not get so close as to bring on a battle. Also, he had to keep a pass over the Blue Ridge Mountains open, so that if he were called upon to reinforce General Joe Johnston’s Army, currently holding a line upon the Rappahannock River, he could easily make the trek.

For the time being, the area around Mount Jackson perfectly suited his needs.4



1.Island No. 10 by Larry J. Daniel and Lynn N. Bock. [↩]
2.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 8, p154. [↩]
3.Island No. 10 by Larry J. Daniel and Lynn N. Bock. [↩]
4.Stonewall Jackson by James I. Robertson, as well as Shenandoah 1862 by Peter Cozzens. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 22 Mar - 18:21

Battle of New Bern, NC, a Stunning Union Victory


March 14, 1862 (Friday)

A long month had passed since Union General Ambrose Burnside and his Coast Division had taken Roanoke Island and wiped out the small Confederate “Mosquito Fleet” at Elizabeth City.

The town of New Bern was situated thirty-five miles up the Neuse River and was the most important town in the area. Burnside resolved to take it. The Rebels were commanded by General Lawrence O’Bryan Branch, a lawyer and politician with scant military experience garnered during the Seminole Wars.

Branch had around 4,000 men to defend the fairly elaborate earthworks, including Fort Thompson, six miles below the town. He had spent weeks trying to improve them so they could be held with his tiny force, but due to lack of slave labor, not much was improved by this date.

A few days earlier, Union General Burnside made ready his 11,000 men, as the Federal fleet, now under Commander S.C. Rowan, transported them up the Neuse towards New Bern. On the 13th (the day previous to this one), the gunboats of the Union fleet began their bombardment of the area where they would land the troops. That area, however, had been abandoned by the Rebels, so landing turned out to be no problem at all.

After the Union troops trudged several miles to where they believed the Confederates to be situated, they found the old fortifications vacant. General Branch and his Rebels had moved to the Fort Thompson defenses, closer to the city. All that day, they slogged closer and closer to the true Rebel works, through torrential downpours, mud and swamps. By nightfall, they had reached the Confederate line and planned an attack for the morning of this date.

As the foggy dawn slid over the Neuse River, Branch’s Confederates had established a line, anchoring their left to Fort Thompson on the Neuse, and their right on a fortified road coming in from the west. Their line was bisected by a railroad line and the main road to New Bern, which was also used by the Federals to move into position.

Similar to the defense of Roanoke Island, the Rebels built their entrenchments so that the enemy had to traverse a swamp before attacking.

General Burnside divided his division into three columns, commanded by Generals Reno, Foster and Parke. Foster was to attack the Rebel left and Fort Thompson, Reno got the right and Parke was clean up. But before Reno’s men could position themselves, Foster attacked. The guns from Fort Thompson, however, played hell with his plans. Beaten back by the heavy artillery fire, Foster’s men remained content to pour tremendous volley after volley into the Confederate works.

On the Union left, General Reno’s column was storming up the railroad when he discovered a break in the Rebel lines. All that was there was the right flank of the Confederate left, which he could easily crumble. This crumbling was made all the easier as the enemy before him were untrained militiamen who ran like devils when the firing started. This exposed another Rebel regiment, which also begged off. As Reno’s men began to infiltrate the enemy position, guns from the Confederate right were at their backs.

The hole in the Rebel line was big, but for the time being, Reno could do nothing to take advantage of it. In the confusion on the Union front, General Branch threw in reinforcements to plug the gap.

The fire from the Rebels was so constant and heavy, Reno had to act quickly or face the destruction of his column. A Massachusetts regiment quickly charged one of the Confederate batteries, swarming over it and capturing the guns. They, however, were just as quickly beaten back by a North Carolina regiment. The Rebel line was holding with each side constantly firing at the other.

During the several minutes the Massachusetts regiment occupied the Rebel works, they could see the thinness of the center of the enemy line. When this was reported to General Parke, commanding the third Union column, he ordered a charge into it. On the Union right, General Foster also called for a charge.

The entire Rebel left, from Fort Thompson to the railroad, collapsed. The Rebel right was woefully ignorant of the happenings on the left and stayed to fight a bit longer. It was too late for some of them, as nearly 200 were captured before they could retreat.

General Branch’s small force escaped into New Bern, where Rowan’s Union gunboats welcomed them home. The Union infantry pursuit was halted when the retreating Rebels blew up a bridge behind them. Seeing that New Bern couldn’t be held, the Rebels set it ablaze without orders from General Branch to do so. The withdraw was scattered and disorderly, but eventually they would reform, almost a week later, in Kinston, thirty-five miles west.1

The Rebels suffered horribly during the Battle of New Bern, sustaining 64 killed, 101 wounded and 413 missing or taken prisoner. Burnside’s Coastal Division seemed worse with 90 killed, 390 wounded and but one missing or captured, but with 11,000 men at his disposal, Burnside could withstand heavier losses.2

The next day, Burnside would occupy New Bern and turn his eyes again towards the Atlantic and Confederate Fort Macon, near Cape Lookout.


McClellan and a Newly-Organized Army of the Potomac Begin to Prepare for the Peninsula

General George McClellan’s new plan to establish the Army of the Potomac at Fortress Monroe was a risky one, that could leave Washington virtually undefended. McClellan had proposed it first to his senior officers and then to the War Department. Secretary Edwin Stanton cautiously agreed, telling McClellan that “all the forces and means of the Government will be at your disposal.”3

McClellan spent the previous day, as well as this day, making plans to withdraw the Army of the Potomac from the former Rebel defenses at Manassas and Centreville. With a force under General Sumner at Manassas Junction and cavalry under General Stoneman reconnoitering the Rebel retreat route towards the Rappahannock River, McClellan began to pull his Army of the Potomac back to Washington.4

In accordance to President Lincoln’s orders, McClellan had to divide the Army of the Potomac into corps. The organization would be (roughly) four regiments to a brigade, three or four brigades to a division and two, three or four divisions to a corps. The Army of the Potomac would now have five corps, under Generals McDowell, Sumner, Heintzelman, Keyes and Banks, respectively.5

This new organization, with the corps commanders hand-picked by Lincoln himself, would potentially discourage McClellan from micromanaging the army.6


1.The Civil War in North Carolina by John G. Barrett. [↩]
2.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p247 (Confederate casualties); p211 (Union revised casualties). [↩]
3.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 5, p750. [↩]
4.Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel H. Beatie. [↩]
5.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 5, p755. [↩]
6.In the must-read book Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel H. Beatie, the chapter 13, “A New Organization for New Battles” is a fascinating look into the early corps organization of the AoP. It is surprisingly not a dry read and I heartily suggest reading it, as well as Beatie’s two other books on the AoP. Hopefully his fourth volume is soon released. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 22 Mar - 18:19

Union Takes New Madrid; Rebs Take Santa Fe


March 13, 1862 (Thursday)

Through the hermetic Mississippi fog came explosions of artillery from some nearby, yet shrouded embrasure. And then the cheers of the enemy. The Union bombardment of New Madrid, Missouri came suddenly, but as no surprise.

The 18,000 men of the Union Army of the Mississippi, commanded by General John Pope, had begun showing up outside of the Confederate town ten days before. Pope wanted to take the town, which was held by but a few thousand Confederates, but was waiting for Commodore Andrew Foote’s gunboats to arrive to take care of the Rebel gunboats, which would certainly have caused more than enough trouble for Pope’s army.

Mostly, they spent the time drilling and skirmishing with the Rebels. Pope spent his time waiting for his heavy artillery to arrive. Coming by railroad, three 24-pounders and an 8-inch howitzer were slowly catching up with the army. They arrived the day before and Union troops spent the night getting them into place.

New Madrid was the left of General P.G.T. Beauregard’s Confederate line in Tennessee. The Rebels had held the town since the war opened. Pope’s real objective was Island No. 10, a small island fortified to the gills that effectively closed off the river to Union ships. To take the island, New Madrid had to fall first.

Throughout the night, Pope had arrayed his army around the town, and as the sun illuminated the fog, the heavy artillery let loose their deadly fire. The Rebel gunboats were beaten to the punch, as they had not even gotten their steam up when the bombardment commenced.

The Confederate guns were quick to reply with mortal accuracy, quickly silencing one of the 24-pounders and a few of the pieces of field artillery. To avoid certain annihilation, a Union brigade was forced to move out of the action.

New Madrid was defended by two Rebel forts, Thompson and Bankhead, each holding the Confederate left and right, respectively. Pope first wanted to take out Fort Bankhead, but the fire from the Rebel gunboats, finally up, caused it to be aborted.

After a short lull, around noon, the artillery duel picked up again, but no Union infantry dared advance upon the Rebel works.

Though secure in the forts, it was clear to Confederate General John P. McCown that they could not hold out much longer. He had no more than 3,500 men, and figured that the Union army was 25,000-strong. The arrival of the siege guns alarmed him, as well. When the rumor that Union General Franz Sigel was nearby with forty regiments of infantry, McCown decided to abandon New Madrid.

Through a brutal thunderstorm, the Rebels evacuated the forts. Confusion and panic quickly set in, making the whole affair a haphazard mess. Still, by dawn the next day, New Madrid, the forts and much of the artillery were left behind for the Union.1


Rebels Advance in New Mexico, Seize Santa Fe

Though the Rebels were falling back in Missouri, farther south and west, in New Mexico, they were advancing. After capturing Albuquerque on March 2nd, Confederate General Henry Sibley fully invested the town a few days later and established his headquarters.

Though he and his Army of New Mexico stuck around Albuquerque for a week and a half, the small Union force that previously occupied the town retreated north, even abandoning Santa Fe on the 4th. Six days later, the first Rebels ventured into the old city, capturing whatever supplies had not been burned by the retreating Yankees.

The citizens were in a panic, but the eleven or so Rebels somehow managed to establish a bit of order. While occupying Santa Fe, the press of a former Unionist newspaper was used to print General Sibley’s offer of amnesty, written on this date.2

Sibley, from his headquarters in Albuquerque, sixty miles south, published a proclamation in hopes of winning the hearts and minds of the good people of New Mexico. He reminded them of his victory at Valverde, specifically of his army’s powers and abilities. He also granted amnesty to anyone who had taken up arms for the Union, if they “lay aside their arms and return to their homes and avocations” within ten days.

Also on this date, a larger Rebel vanguard of about seventy troops entered Santa Fe, formally occupying the town for the Confederacy.3

On the other side of things, the Federal forces weren’t just retreating, they were gathering at Fort Union, north of Las Vegas (New Mexico), nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, nearly 100 miles east.

According to Col. Gabriel Paul, commander at the fort, things had been “daily growing from bad to worse. All the militia and a large number of the volunteers (natives) who were called into the service of the United States have deserted and taken to the mountains.”

He had been unable to communicate with Col. Edward Canby, Union commander at Fort Craig, Valverde, 250 miles south, in over two weeks. Still, to combat the Confederate force, he planned to leave Fort Union and meet up with Canby somewhere.

Though communication with Canby had been interrupted by the Rebels, a message finally came through, telling Paul what he already knew. “Do not trust the Mexican troops,” was his first bit of advice. Paul was well aware that the native New Mexican population didn’t care, one way or the other, about the war. Some had enlisted, but lost interest when the bullets started to fly. This he followed with another tip: “If the Colorado or Kansas or California troops have not joined you, do not risk an engagement until they do.”4

But 900 Colorado troops had made their way from Denver to Fort Union, bolstering his numbers towards 1,400. While welcomed, their arrival created another problem. Col. Paul was no longer the senior commander. The commander of the Colorado troops was Col. John Potts Slough, a former Ohio politician and lawyer from Denver, who had recruited a company of Unionists. He had no military training and never served a day in his life. Col. Paul, on the other hand, had graduated from West Point, was an officer in the Seminole Wars and captured an enemy flag during the Mexican War.

Slough, however, was made a colonel a few weeks prior to Paul and so the wily politician commanded the professional soldier.5


1.Island No. 10 by Larry J. Daniel and Lynn N. Bock. [↩]
2.Blood & Treason; Confederate Empire in the Southwest by Donal S. Frazier. [↩]
3.Sibley’s New Mexico Campaign by Martin Hardwick Hall. Sibley’s proclamation would not be printed in Santa Fe until March 22ndish. [↩]
4.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 9, p645-647. [↩]
5.The Battle of Glorietta Pass by Thomas S. Edrington and John Taylor. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 22 Mar - 18:18

Union Forces Occupy Winchester as Rebels Retreat South Without a Fight


March 12, 1862 (Wednesday)

General Stonewall Jackson led only his horse on this mild morning, as he brought up the rear of his army on the march south from Winchester, Virginia. He had issued the order to abandon the town his men had called home for months, leaving the citizens at the mercy of the enemy. He had spent the previous day contemplating how to defend the town from the obvious Federal attack coming from the north.

It pained him to even think about giving up Winchester without a fight, but what could he do? His army barely had 3,600 men in its ranks. Not only did he want to defend the town, he wanted to attack the advancing Union army through the darkness. But through a mishap with the supply wagons being taken eight miles out of town, coupled with his senior officers being opposed to a night attack, Jackson abandoned his plan and abandoned the town.

Under the full moon, Stonewall Jackson followed his infantry, leaving Ashby’s Cavalry behind as a rear guard. Jackson’s Army was gripped by sadness, as if they were defeated on the field of battle.

They stopped at Strasburg, eighteen miles south of Winchester, but no Federals followed. There, they would stay for several days while Jackson readied his force, collected supplies and welcomed some new recruits into the fold. 12,000 men were to soon join in the defense of the Shenandoah Valley.1

Col. Turner Ashby and his Rebel cavalry stuck around Winchester long enough to see that the Federals were coming in force. The lead Union brigade, commanded by General Alpheus Williams, marched in column, entering the town from the north, as their vanguard, a regiment of Michigan calvary, stormed into town just in time to catch Ashby at the other end of Market Street, sitting astride his horse. As the Michiganders looked on, he turned his horse and trotted slowly south to rejoin Jackson’s army.

General Williams’ Brigade found few Unionist citizens remaining in Winchester. Before retiring south, Jackson had rounded them up and drove them with his army. Mostly, the Unionists consisted of old men and pacifist Quakers.

Largely, the Union guests found Winchester to be a charming town, reminding many of the midwesterners of home.2


McClellan Reads of His Demotion in the Paper, but Recovers in Time to Plan for the Peninsula

As General Williams and many more troops were occupying Winchester, General George McClellan, believing himself to be General-in-Chief of all Union armies, learned that he was no longer General-in-Chief of all Union armies. He would now command only the Army of the Potomac. President Lincoln had wanted to keep the order to remove McClellan out of the papers for as long as possible. He had dispatched Governor William Dennison of Ohio to personally give McClellan the bad news.

Nevertheless, word had somehow leaked out. And though the order was finalized only the previous evening, the National Intelligencer printed it on the morning of this date.3

McClellan had returned to Fairfax Court House from his tour of the recently-abandoned Confederate works near Centreville and Manassas. After rising, he obtained a copy of the morning paper and read of his demotion. Figuring that Lincoln was purposely slighting him by allowing him to read it in the papers, he sulked all morning until Governor Dennison arrived with the message directly from Lincoln.

Dennison assured McClellan that he was still in the President’s good graces and would lead the Army of the Potomac. For months now, McClellan had been trying to decide what to do with this army of 140,000. After looking at the expansive, impressive Confederate fortifications around the Manassas area, he was glad that he didn’t order his army to attack.

Another plan that he had been kicking around was to take the army down the Potomac, down the Chesapeake Bay, to land them on the Virginia shore around Urbanna. Feeling, perhaps, slightly relieved that he was no longer tethered to Washington, he finally decided upon a plan of action.

The object of the Urbanna plan was to quickly get between General Johnston’s Confederate army and Richmond. But with the Rebels retreating closer to their capital, that was simply not possible.4

He had also been keeping an eye on the situation in Hampton Roads, where the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimack) battled to a standoff. The previous day, General Wool, commanding nearby Fortress Monroe, had informed McClellan that the extent of the damage done to the Virginia was unknown, but that he expected her to appear again.

Casting these fears aside, after hearing that he was now only the commander of the Army of the Potomac, he wired the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Gustavus Fox, also at Fortress Monroe, giving the first hints that he had finally decided upon a course of action.


Can I rely on the Monitor to keep the Merrimac in check, so that I can make Fort Monroe a base of operations? Answer at once.5

Before dark, McClellan called a council of war, bringing together his division commanders.6 All assembled agreed that making Fortress Monroe their base of operations was a fine idea, considering the circumstances.

They were, however, worried about the Virginia reappearing and cutting them off, but would have to wait until morning to hear Assistant Secretary Fox’s assessment.7


1.Stonewall Jackson by James I. Robertson. [↩]
2.Shenandoah 1862 by Peter Cozzens. [↩]
3.Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel H. Beatie. [↩]
4.To The Gates of Richmond; The Peninsula Campaign by Stephen W. Sears, Mariner Books, 1992. [↩]
5.Papers of the Southern Historical Society, Vol. 13, p110. The proper spelling is with a “k” at the end, though many left it out. [↩]
6.I realize that officially they were corps commanders at this point, but McClellan had not yet figured all that out. That will come on the 14th. [↩]
7.To The Gates of Richmond; The Peninsula Campaign by Stephen W. Sears, Mariner Books, 1992. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 22 Mar - 18:16

Jobs Lost and Gained


March 11, 1862 (Tuesday)


McClellan is Demoted

While McClellan and McDowell examined the Confederate works at Centreville and Manassas, the Army of the Potomac was technically in the field. They had left their winter quarters around Washington and had marched as many as twenty miles into Virginia. McClellan, General-in-Chief of all the Union armies, was also the commanding General of the Army of the Potomac. Since they were in the field and he was at their head, McClellan had personally taken the field.

Knowing all of this, Lincoln finally made a decision and issued his President’s War Order No. 3. This order removed McClellan from his General-in-Chief ranking, a position with which Lincoln was never quite comfortable. The President wrote the order with his own pen and called Secretaries Salmon P. Chase, Edwin Stanton and William Seward together to formally discuss it.

All assembled agreed that it was necessary. Seward opined that the order should be issued under Stanton’s name, as he was the Secretary of War. Stanton, however, didn’t care for the idea at all. There was already too much conflict between him and McClellan. Why make more? Lincoln decided to take responsibility for his own order and officially put his name to it.3

Lincoln wished for the order to remain secret until McClellan could be notified of it, so that he wouldn’t have to hear it as rumor or read it in the newspapers. To deliver the message, he sent Ohio Governor William Dennison, a strong McClellanite, to Fairfax Court House. Unfortunately, the news would travel faster than Dennison’s horse.4


The Return of General Fremont; Rosecrans and Buell Lose Their Jobs, Too

McClellan’s demotion wasn’t the only item on President’s War Order No. 3. There were some departmental reorganizations made to keep up with the ever-changing war. The Department of Missouri, commanded by General Henry Halleck, was enlarged to include all of Kansas and much of Buell’s Department of the Ohio. It would be renamed the Department of the Mississippi.

A new department was also created out of the remnants of the Departments of the Ohio and West Virginia. It included all of western Virginia west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as parts of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee. This move was a surprise to all, even Fremont, who had been unceremoniously fired from the Department of Missouri four months before.

These changes left Generals William Rosecrans and Don Carlos Buell without departments. While Rosecrans would soon be fighting along the Mississippi, Buell’s job would hardly change at all. Although he was technically a department commander, he did little to command his department. Instead, he took the field with his Army of the Ohio and was currently holding Nashville. The biggest difference was that he would now have to obey (rather than ignore) the orders of General Halleck.5


1.McClellan’s Own Story by George McClellan. [↩]
2.Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel H. Beatie. [↩]
3.Abraham Lincoln: A History, Volume 5 by John George Nicolay and John Hay. [↩]
4.Army of the Potomac; McClellan’s First Campaign by Russel H. Beatie. [↩]
5.Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 5, p54. [↩]
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 15 Mar - 18:32

The Army of the Potomac Advances on Manassas!

March 10, 1862 (Monday)

With all the terrible excitement held by the previous day, it was easy for many in Washington to overlook the Union advance upon the former Rebel positions near Centreville and Manassas. The move had started three days before, when General Philip Kearny pushed his brigade forward without orders. While General McClellan and President Lincoln were waiting for news from Hampton Roads, Kearny learned for certain that General Joe Johnston’s Confederate Army had abandoned their defenses.

While most of the Rebel infantry was marching south, rear guards were still on patrol, hoping to hold off a Union attack for as long as possible. Kearny ordered his cavalry to charge them, which they brilliantly did, but at the loss of their commanding officer. Kearny continued to scout throughout the night.

Also overnight, General McClellan received word that the Rebels had fallen back from Centreville. He wanted to see for himself and crossed the Potomac accompanied by only two orderlies. With the panic in Washington resolved, thanks to the USS Monitor, McClellan ordered his entire army forward. He ordered General Irvin McDowell’s Division to march from Arlington to Centreville by the end of the day. General Sumner’s Division was to take Manassas Junction. Other divisions were to meet at Fairfax Court House, where McClellan would make his headquarters.

Just who got to Centreville first was up for debate. McClellan had dispatched Pennsylvania cavalry the previous night, and they claimed to have arrived before anyone. Kearny, likewise, stated that it was his men who first occupied Centreville. A third party, the 2nd New York Cavalry, commanded by the irascible Alfred Napoleon Duffie, also begged the honors.

Though it hardly mattered, the Pennsylvania cavalry sent by McClellan were first to arrive, though all three bodies of troops entered Centreville on this date.

General McClellan made his bed at Fairfax Courthouse, but had traveled light and afforded himself no blanket. Fortunately, someone lent him a blanket and gave him a cot, and he made the best of it.

And there slept General McClellan, the commander-in-chief of all Union armies, commanding the Army of the Potomac in the field. This interesting fact would not be lost on President Lincoln.


Jackson Prepares to Retreat; Banks Prepares for War

When General Johnston withdrew from his Centreville line, it left General Stonewall Jackson’s small command in Winchester, just across the Blue Ridge Mountains, dangling in the chilly late-winter breeze. Jackson, who had been looking towards retreating south, up the Shenandoah Valley, for nearly a week, was close to be surrounded.

The push by Union General Nathaniel Banks across the Potomac at Harper’s Ferry was ebbing closer and closer to Jackson’s base. Over the past several days, Jackson had sent his supply wagons south (and with them, the troops’ tents) and was in the process of moving out his heavy siege artillery.

Opposing his tiny army of no more than 3,600 effectives were over 40,000 Union troops in three divisions. To Jackson’s front were four brigades at Bunker Hill, about fourteen miles distant. On his right, two more brigades held Berryville, ten miles away. Another two brigades held Martinsburg, to the north. If so ordered, there could be upwards of 30,000 Federal troops falling upon Winchester within twenty-four hours. And more were on their way. Jackson also realized that these 30,000 were not stopping their advance.

By this time, Jackson had probably given up hope on receiving reinforcements from General A.P. Hill’s brigade. They had been stationed at Leesburg, between Centreville and Winchester, but had been called back to Johnston’s army during the retreat. Jackson had asked for Hill, which would have doubled his numbers, but Johnston refused to detach him. By this date, Hill was far out of reach, marching south from Warrenton.

Though Jackson was most certainly worried, he feigned otherwise in a letter to his wife, whom he had sent to Lexington a week or so prior. He wrote that the troops were “in excellent spirits,” and that he was healthy, thanks to the blessings of God. It was clear, however, that he missed his Mary Anna. “My heart is just overflowing with love for my little darling wife.”

Meanwhile, Union General Banks, encamped near Charlestown, was paid a visit by three slaves who had just escaped before their master could sell them. They claimed that Jackson had sent 10,000 men south to Strasburg. Banks, not knowing how many men Jackson had in his command, believed them.

The next day, he would act on this news.
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 15 Mar - 18:30


The Battle of Hampton Roads: The Monitor Meets The Merrimack

March 9, 1862 (Sunday)

Washington was replete with panic as word of the previous day’s destruction reached its doorstep. The ravaging and ruin wrought by the ironclad CSS Virginia (once the USS Merrimack) at Hampton Roads was utterly astonishing. After nightfall, as the USS Congress smoldered, fixing its thick black smoke to the Hampton Roads horizon, and as several other ships were run aground, General Wool at Fortress Monroe reported the travesty to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

The note had to first travel to Baltimore before being telegraphed to Washington, leaving the citizens the entire night to be peacefully passed. But at 9:30am, the clacking of the wire reached Secretary Stanton in his office. With transcription in hand, he hurried to the White House and ruined Lincoln’s otherwise fine day with the news. Soon, Secretary of State Seward, Senator Orville Browning and General McClellan joined them.


During the meetings, Stanton paced the floor “like a caged lion,” and made brash, yet somehow believable, predictions of the terror to come. The fleet would be destroyed; Fortress Monroe laid under siege; McClellan’s Richmond Campaign delayed; the supply vessels traveling the Atlantic sunk; Washington and even New York bombarded sending the government officials running. Stanton was frantic, running from room to room, looking out windows towards the Potomac, seemingly to see if the Virginia was steaming up the river.

After a quick meeting with the Washington Naval Yard Commander, John Dahlgren, belief between the various Cabinet members was split. Some, like Stanton, believed Washington would soon be shelled, while others, like Welles and Dahlgren, didn’t believe that the Virginia could even make it up the shallow Potomac. The President seemed to remain calm, but was still visibly affected by Stanton’s emotional panic.



While Welles and Stanton debated the entropy that would most assuredly come, in Hampton Roads, the CSS Virginia reappeared. To meet her was the USS Monitor, a smaller ironclad built specifically to best the Virginia.

The Rebel ironclad, followed by several other ships, steamed out into Hampton Roads, hoping to destroy the USS Minnesota, which had run aground the previous day. Though stranded, the Minnesota was not helpless. When the Virginia drew to within a mile of her, she opened upon the craft, but did little damage. Some shells hit the Minnesota and a nearby steamer was blown up by Rebel artillery. A signal was sent to the Monitor that the Virginia was upon them.

In a garish display of bravado, the Virginia steamed towards the Monitor, eclipsing the Minnesota as she pulled along side the small Union ironclad. Both seemed to be saving their ammunition to make their shots count at close range.

The Monitor fired first, her shot hitting the Virginia at the waterline to no effect whatsoever. The Union ship stopped its engines and drifted alongside her opponent, a few yards in separation, as both fired as rapidly as they could into each other. In these initial volleys, the swiveling turret of the Monitor had been struck twice. There was some apprehension that, if struck, the turret would be frozen, its guns pointed in one direction only. Luckily for her, this was not the case.

Round after round bounced off the sides of the Virginia as the Rebels fired entire broadsides “with no more effect… than so many pebblestones thrown by a child.” The Monitor was smaller and faster than the Virginia. She sat very low in the water, with little more than her turret above the surface, which caused most of the Confederate shots to fly overhead.

Realizing the Virginia‘s armor to be too strong, the Monitor steamed as close as possible across her stern, hoping to disable her propeller. Though she couldn’t have missed her target by more than two feet, this plan also failed. The ships circled each other, turning and firing, turning and firing again. Once, the Rebel ship, finding that the Monitor was perpendicular to her, steamed as quickly as she could, hoping to ram the small Federal craft. Being lighter and quicker, however, the Monitor was able to escape with minimal damage.



Before noon, the ammunition in the Monitor‘s turret was running low and she moved away from the Virginia to more safely replenish the supply from below. When the Rebel ironclad pulled to within ten yards, she fired again. This time, a shell struck the pilot house, where Captain John Worden was positioned. He was looking out a porthole as the shell hit close by. Though it caused the ship little damage, the force splintered the iron beam, sending metal into the Captain’s eyes, blinding and stunning him.

The blast peeled back the roof of the pilot house, causing Worden to believe that it was seriously damaged. He ordered his ship to sheer off and found his second in command. With the Captain safe in his quarters, the Monitor returned to the battle, only to find the Virginia pulling away.

The Rebel ship was low on ammunition and, because of the receding tide, could get no closer to the grounded Minnesota so as to reduce her. It was clear that the Monitor, which had been hit at least twenty-three times, was not going away. It was decided to move her back to Sewell’s Point, where she had spent the previous night, under the protection of the Rebel batteries. The Monitor continued on her course, alongside the Minnesota.

Though both sides claimed a victory (and for both, it was understandable), in reality, neither ship won the day. The Virginia was, however, neutralized and the Union fleet at Hampton Roads made relatively safe again. The blockade of Norfolk remained in place.

In Washington, panic had turned to pandemonium until 9pm, when Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles received the news he had been waiting for. Gustavus Fox, the Assistant Naval Secretary, was at Fortress Monroe and wired Welles that evening.

The Virginia had retired. “The Monitor is uninjured and ready at any moment to repel another attack.”

Fortress Monroe would not be besieged; the Union fleet was now safe; McClellan’s campaign would continue to move (slowly) ahead; there would be no shelling of New York or Washington. Though the battle was a draw, it listed hard towards the side of the Union.
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 15 Mar - 18:18

Victory by Shot and Shell at Pea Ridge; The CSS Virginia Takes Hampton Roads

March 8, 1862 (Saturday)

Following the victory of the previous day, the Confederate Army of the West, commanded by Earl Van Dorn, was hardly ready to rest lazily upon its laurels. The Rebel soldiers were exhausted and aching with hunger, but a victory over the Union Army of the Southwest would mean feasting upon the Federal provisions. This was enough to drive men up and to their posts.

Union General Samuel Curtis, feeling that he was still too strung out, concentrated his entire army upon the Telegraph Road, aiming it at nearby Elkhorn Tavern. As dawn became morning, the Confederate artillery opened a fury upon the gathering Union army.

Two Union batteries were quickly taken out of action before the Rebel artillery turned on the Yankee infantry. Soon, two of the Union divisions were pulling back to a safer location. Seeing them falling back, Van Dorn ordered some of his men to move slowly forward to create a demonstration on the Union front. No matter whatever reason he ordered this, the Rebel line was soon exposed to enfilade fire from the Union artillery. It soon slunk back into the woods from whence it came.



This little action caused Curtis to act quickly. He had ordered General Sigel’s two divisions to be ready to assault the Confederate lines at dawn. It was now time for such a charge. Sigel quickly deployed his men, informing them that they would have to break the Confederate line or surrender to the Rebels.

As Sigel was readying his divisions, the Rebel artillery put up as lackluster a display as the infantry. Though they had fifteen batteries, they used only three. Sigel had six and used them all, and upon higher ground. Sigel himself sighted some of the pieces and selected their locations, firing upon one specific target at a time with great accuracy.

Van Dorn ordered two more batteries forward, but they were quickly dealt with, probably before either fired a shot. With the Rebel artillery more or less dispatched, Sigel focused upon the Confederate infantry, maiming men and making widows of far-away wives.

For two hours, the Union guns refused to be silent, roaring and shrieking like harridans. They fired at a rate of one shot every other second. In those 120 minutes, one Ohio battery expended 566 rounds. All throughout the ferocious barrage, Sigel had been moving men and artillery forward as the Rebels fell back.

At 10am, Curtis ordered his entire army to advance, with Sigel’s divisions in the lead. Nearly 10,000 blue-clad soldiers arrayed themselves in the open, their lines stretching for a mile in either direction.

About this time, Van Dorn was informed that his ammunition stores were five or six hours away. His artillery wouldn’t last even half that long. He would have to retreat. But how?

Before the battle, Van Dorn had chose to sneak in behind the Union line, causing Curtis to about-face his entire army to fight them. With superior numbers, Van Dorn figured this would work. By 10am on this date, however, he was quickly realizing that his Army of the West was trapped. It they were to retreat the way they advanced, via roads to the west, Curtis could simply sidestep and cut them off. It was then clear, he would take the bulk of his army east and then south, returning to their camps in the Boston Mountains beyond Fayetteville.

To escape east, the Confederate left, the eastern flank, would have to move first. This was a boon, as the Union infantry were massing on the center and right.

Around 10:30, as the Rebel left began marching away, Sigel ordered his men forward. Soon another division joined the fray. They met with stiff resistance, but the Rebels eventually gave way. Due to how Curtis attacked, hitting the Rebel right and center, the retreating Confederates were funneled towards the east and their route of escape. Curtis had no idea that the Rebel army was slipping away.



Van Dorn had wanted a fighting retreat, but what he got was a confused rout. While the men on the left had retreated in good order (mostly because they didn’t know they were retreating), the rest of the army was scattered. Some high ranking officers and much of the artillery were not even told that the army was retiring from the field. Each battery fled on their own, in whichever direction seemed best.

Curtis sent Sigel’s two divisions after the Rebels, but, still thinking of escape, rather than victory, Sigel began to lead them north towards Missouri, though Curtis ordered them to return to the field.

By nightfall, most of the Rebel army was at Van Winkle’s Mill, nearly twenty miles from the battlefield. Sigel’s troops were camped just south of Keetsville [modern day Washburn], ten miles north. The rest of the Army of the Southwest remained at Pea Ridge.

Curtis’s Union Army of the Southwest, 10,500-strong before the battle, lost 203 killed, 980 wounded and 201 missing throughout the three days of fighting. The casualties of Van Dorn’s Confederate Army of the West, probably 16,000-strong, are harder to ascertain. They probably lost 2,000 in killed, wounded and captured.

Setting the Scene at Hampton Roads

There had been rumors that after the Confederates raised the USS Merrimack, salvaged from the burning of Gosport Navy Yard, they had turned the vessel into an ironclad, the likes of which had never been seen before. On this date, the rumors proved all too true.

She had been rechristened the CSS Virginia, her sides rebuilt with armor one to three inches thick. She carried fourteen guns, two that were salvaged from the Merrimack. She was, however, slow, only able to reach six knots. It took her a mile and forty-five minutes to simply turn around. Her engines were unreliable and her draft was about twenty-two feet. Still, on this date, around 11am, she, along with her crew of 350, shoved off from the Navy Yard and steamed towards the Union blockading fleet in Hampton Roads, ten miles down the James River. She was accompanied by five other Confederate Navy vessels.



When she reached Hampton Roads, she first engaged the USS Cumberland, a wooden, wind-powered gunboat. Though the Cumberland could throw much more iron than the Virginia, the latter’s sides could not be pierced. It was clear that the heavily gunned Union vessel was no match for the heavily armored Confederate ironclad. She went down, but as she did, the Virginia rammed her, damaging her (the Virginia‘s) bow in the process, causing a leak.

Another Union ship, the Congress, similar in size to the Cumberland, but carrying much more artillery, tried to get away, but ran aground. The Virginia slowly chuffed up to her and poured round after round into the stranded ship. Before long, the Congress surrendered. But it was too late, the Congress had been set ablaze by hotshot fired from the Virginia.

The other ships in the Union fleet had scattered to shallower water, where the Virginia could not go. Though she could do no more damage, she controlled the harbor. No ship in the Union fleet could touch her.



However, steaming down from New York was the USS Monitor, a flat, odd-looking, almost submarine ironclad, bearing only two guns in a turret that could spin 360 degrees. She did not look like much; certainly not as imposing as the hulking Rebel ship. But she was made with one purpose in mind: to destroy the CSS Virginia.

Before nightfall, the nearly-completed Monitor steamed into the docks at Fortress Monroe, ready for action the next day.
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 15 Mar - 18:16

A Dear Cost for the Day’s Victory at Pea Ridge; Rebels at Manassas Fall Back

March 7, 1862 (Friday)

All through the cold and snowy night, Confederate campfires, orange and flickering, dotted the hillside across from Little Sugar Creek, near Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Though they burned to their front, the Rebel Army of the West was actually moving around the right flank to the rear of the Union Army of the Southwest. General Earl Van Dorn, commanding the Confederates, had marched his army fifty-five miles in three days. They were out of rations and exhausted. Though they outnumbered their Union counterparts 16,000 to 10,500, they were in no condition to fight.

They were also in no condition to be divided, but that is what Van Dorn did. He sent one wing, under General Sterling Price, down the Telegraph Road to the Union left wing near Elkhorn Tavern, and Ben McCulloch down another road to hit the Union right near Leetown. McCulloch’s men had to backtrack, but Van Dorn assured them that the army would be reunited as they fought.

When dawn drew, cold and cloudless, Union commander, General Samuel Curtis, saw that the campfires had been a starry decoy. Van Dorn’s Rebel army was gone. Curtis was quick to take in the situation and ordered his army to about-face and take new positions to the north. Van Dorn wished for his army to move quick, like cavalry, but this was not possible. The delay (or more accurately, the actual time it took for an army of 16,000 to be properly maneuvered into position) gave Curtis the time he needed to ready his men.

On the Union right, which was now the Union left, General Sigel’s men were probing around Leetown for the Rebels under McCulloch. What they found were Indians under General Pike, decked out in battle dress. When they spotted the Union troops, they burst forward firing guns, shooting bow and arrows and brandishing tomahawks. The Union left crumbled.

To the east, General Price launched his attack, first skirmishing with Union pickets north of Elk Tavern. The Federals led the Rebels south, falling back along Telegraph Road to a defensive position in a hollow. The Union right was strong, but not strong enough to withstand the horde of screaming Rebel Missourians Price was throwing at them.

The commanders on both the Union right and left sent pleas to Curtis for reinforcements. Seeing the Union left reeling and utterly confused by the Indians, McCulloch wanted to launch another attack aimed at the center of the line, from where reinforcement would be drawn. For this to work, he would need to secure his right, held by Pike’s Indians. But, being flushed with victory and not fully appreciating Napoleonic warfare, they were as uncontrollable in victory as they would have been in defeat.

His attack became more of a strong advance. The brash and tough Rebel, who had proved his mettle on many battlefields, moved forward with his skirmishers. They moved, clad in butternut, through the gray brush. Their commander, McCulloch, rode on horseback, dressed in an unusually garish black velvet suit with sky-blue trousers. He was an easy mark for the hidden Union pickets, who fired a volley as crisp and cold as the air. He died instantly, a bullet through his heart. His skirmishers, ducking for cover, did not even realize their leader had fallen.

Though the excitement and color was on the Confederate right, Van Dorn’s real objective lay east, along the Telegraph Road, with General Price and the Confederate left at Elk Tavern. Curtis had pulled men from the center to reinforce his left, leaving his right vulnerable to Price’s attack, which came with vigor, but had been beaten back.

Momentarily victorious, it was clear that the Union right could not hold against another Rebel attack. A lull fell and then Price’s artillery exploded along the Union right, destroying batteries and rattling the worn out Yankees. When Price deployed his men in the growing twilight, the Union left fell back.

As night fell, the Union Army of the Southwest had been compacted and was barely holding on. The Rebels to the north were, in places, so close that the Federals could hear their muttered conversations. At a council of war, General Curtis realized he was in trouble. The Rebels held Pea Ridge and Elkhorn Tavern. With the Confederates to the north cutting off his supply line, there was no way out but to slash their way out. Curtis knew that McCulloch was dead and that the Indians were probably disorganized. In truth, many of the Indians, under Colonel Drew, had already started back for Indian Territory [modern day Oklahoma] and would soon be defecting to the Union cause.

Van Dorn and his Rebels were victorious, but at such a dear cost. Generals McCulloch and McIntosh were both dead. The Indians not directly under Stand Watie, were leaving, and the other key officers were wounded or taken prisoner. Van Dorn ordered the remaining Indians to hold Pea Ridge and await the dawn.

Confederates at Centreville and Manassas Pull Back – Union Forces Sort Of Follow

The Confederate Army of the Potomac, commanded by General Joe Johnston, had occupied the old battlefield at Manassas since the battle, and had crept northward, occupying Centreville, since then. More recently, however, Johnston began to believe that he was too close to Washington and too close to General George McClellan’s Union Army of the Potomac.

Johnston had met with President Jefferson Davis and, though they both understood different time lines for a withdraw, they both knew that it was inevitable. While Davis wanted to hold off on the pullback until the Union army was ready to assault, Johnston wanted to do it almost immediately.

Two days prior, on the 5th, Rebel cavalry commander, J.E.B. Stuart, had noticed the Union army, 120,000-strong, stirring across the Potomac. After reporting to Johnston, it was concluded that McClellan was moving into position to launch his spring campaign. Sending no word to President Davis, he ordered his entire army to abandon their positions at Centreville for new defenses across the Rappahannock River. By March 9th, Centreville and Manassas would be completely behind them. By the 11th, Johnston’s Army would all have crossed the Rappahannock. Two days later, he would finally tell President Davis.

On this day, the Union Army of the Potomac was not moving. There were no definite plans for it to move. McClellan was still working on his Peninsula plan, and while President Lincoln wished for a push towards Manassas, it wasn’t looking like he was going to get one.

General Philip Kearny, however, was moving. He had received word from his scouts that Johnston was pulling back. Without orders, he ordered his entire brigade forward, giving them six days rations and seventy rounds of ammunition. Following the railroad towards Manassas, they marched fourteen miles to Burke’s Station, roughly six miles east of Centreville. They would reach the former Rebel town on the 10th, only to find it empty.
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Jeu 15 Mar - 18:13

Franz Sigel Untangles the Mess he Made

March 6, 1862 (Thursday)

Through the swirling March snow of the previous day, an Arkansas Unionist fell in with a regiment of Texas cavalry moving north on Telegraph Road. He asked them what they were doing so far north of their camps. The Confederate Army of the West, 16,000-strong, commanded by General Earl Van Dorn and composed of Missourians under Sterling Price, and (mostly) Texans under Ben McCulloch, was making good time in its advance upon what was believed to be a divided Union army.

The Texas cavalier told as much to the Arkansas Unionist, who, upon the first chance he got, high-tailed it to the tent of Union General Samuel Curtis, commanding the divided Army of the Southwest, totalling 10,500. Curtis wanted to fall back upon Little Sugar Creek, where he found a splendid defensive position. On the 5th, however, the two wings of Curtis’s army were at Cross Hollow, ten miles south, and McKissick’s Creek, five miles southwest. Upon the word of this Unionist, as well as an additional spy, Curtis ordered his army to make their stand at Little Sugar Creek.

On the morning of this date, General Curtis arrived and ordered the bluffs above the creek to be fortified. He figured that the Rebels would be coming up Telegraph Road, and paid specific attention to the crossing. West of the Union position along the creek was Elm Springs Road, which led through Bentonville. General Franz Sigel, commanding the other wing of the army, sent most of his wing towards the main Union line, but tarried with his rear guard in town.

To the south, he could see Confederates marching on Bentonville along the Elm Springs Road. What he saw was the brigade of General James McIntosh, who believed he could bag Sigel’s command by surrounding them north of town. This plan nearly worked. Though Sigel had poked around much of the previous day and in the morning of this date, he had just slipped out of Bentonville in time. McIntosh’s men had nearly surrounded the Union rear guard, but Sigel was determined to break through and make it to General Curtis.

While most of Sigel’s troops marched back towards the main line, he deployed a heavy skirmish line and artillery to delay the Rebels. The artillery did the trick, causing the Confederates to melt away. Sigel and his rear guard rejoined his main force on the road to Little Sugar Creek.

The road, however, grew narrow, with steep bluffs on either side. As Sigel’s force, which was unable to keep its skirmishers and flankers deployed due to the terrain, picked its way through the gorge, Rebel artillery began to fire down upon it. Sigel sent a small force up the bluff, which was outlandish enough to distract and confuse the Rebels long enough for Sigel to make his escape.

Once out of the gorge, Sigel turned his artillery around and fired back on the advancing Rebels. This dispersed them and, again, Sigel was on his way. Not too long later, a separate wing of McIntosh’s Cavalry made an appearance. Sigel quickly found a solid defensive position and sent forward some cavalry to lure McIntosh towards it. The trap worked, as the Rebels stumbled blindly into the Union artillery, which sent cannister into the gray ranks. Sigel made it back to Little Sugar Creek with no further botheration from McIntosh. Though he displayed a bit of genius (or luck) upon the battlefield, it was Sigel’s own fault that he was caught in the first place.

When General Van Dorn made his appearance near dusk, he met with Generals Price and McCulloch. Both of the typically feuding officers agreed – the Union position was too solid to be broken by a frontal assault. Also, the men needed rest. McCulloch proposed to move the next morning along the Bentonville Detour Road, which would get around the right flank of the Union army. This would compel Curtis to abandon his position and probably fall back into Missouri. Price agreed, but Van Dorn did not.

He loved the idea of getting around the Union right flank, but disagreed on two parts. First, the men should move now, no matter how worn out and hungry they were. Second, since the Bentonville Detour Road connected to Telegraph Road behind the Union line, why not follow it to its terminus and cut off the Union retreat? He would bag the whole lot of them!

Van Dorn mistakenly believed that Curtis was planning to retreat anyway. In reality, Curtis was there, with his 10,500 men, to fight. Curtis, however, had no idea what Van Dorn was up to. He anticipated McCulloch’s flanking idea, but never suspected Van Dorn would move to his rear. The Confederate Army of the West would make it to Telegraph Road, behind the Union position, by dawn. The men of that army, however, were completely exhausted. In addition, when they arrived, Van Dorn decided to divide his force, sending Price down Telegraph Road, and McCulloch down a smaller road to the west. Van Dorn assured them that they would be reunited before the fighting began.
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MessageSujet: Re: IL Y A 150 ANS...........MARS 1862   Aujourd'hui à 9:50

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