The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – August 6-12, 1862

Here is a belated look at events of the Civil War 150 years ago, this week in August. But first, directions for cooking in camp!

In summer.

In the South.

Plenty of hot weather going on. Sweet tea time, except soldiers didn’t get sweet tea back then, and that particular summer’s heat was so bad General Jackson had lots of sunstroke cases to report to Richmond.

Meanwhile, in McClellan’s army . . . .

Cooking at Harrison Landing

Cooking at Harrison Landing, July 1862 ? (A. R. Waud by way of Library of Congress)


From Jonathan Letterman, Surgeon General, Army of the Potomac, in early August 1862.

Directions for cooking in camp.

The importance of soup as a diet for troops is not sufficiently apprehended except by veteran soldiers those of experience in the field. It cannot be too highly esteemed, and should be used to a much greater extent than it is. Been soup, when properly made, is one of the best that can be used; when improperly made, one of the worst. The beans must be washed, steeped in water overnight, put on the fire at reveille, and boiled slowly for six hours; a piece of pork, say one ration for three men, put in three hours before dinner; this, eaten with a little pepper and vinegar, makes a wholesome and palatable dish. The cooking is everything; if not well done, it is positively injurious; if well done, it is wholesome. The great principle in making soup is that it must be boiled slowly

and for a long time; it cannot be boiled too much. In making beef soup all the bones should be used, together with half rations of beef rice, and desiccated and fresh vegetables, with salt and pepper; the desiccated vegetables should be steeped in water for two hours, and boiled with the soup for three hours; the rice should be added, after having been washed half and hour before the soup is served; the beef must first be put in cold water, and the soup kept at a low boil for five hours. Beef should not in any case be used for cooking until cold. Hard bread will be more palatable and more easy of digestion if placed in the ashes until thoroughly heated; it can also be improved by breaking it in pieces in inch or two square and soaking it thoroughly in warm water, then placing it in a frying-pan with a few shoes of pork, and cooked for five minutes, stirring it, that all may be cooked alike. Such portions of beef as are not used in making soup should be cut in pieces about the size of a hen’s egg, with half a ration of potatoes and a small-sized onion cut in slices to one man, and half a ration of desicated vegetables previously soaked in cold water for an hour, with a few small pieces of pork, adding salt and pepper, with water sufficient to cover well the ingredients, and stewed slowly for three hours, will make an excellent dish. Beef that is not used thus should be cooked on coals or held before them on a stick or fork, and no salt or pepper put on until cooked; the salt put on before cooking only assists in abstracting the juices of the meat and in making it dry and hard when cooked. The secret in using the desiccated vegetables is in having them thoroughly cooked. The want of this has given rise to a prejudice against them which is unfounded; it is the fault of the cooking, and not of the vegetables. Pork should be boiled three hours, having been previously soaked in water, to abstract the salt, for three hours, the water being changed twice in that time; when cold and cut in slices, with a piece of bread and a slice of onion, it makes an excellent lunch; cut in slices and toasted over coals it is sweet and good. Coffee should be roasted over a slow fire, constantly stirring it until it becomes of a chestnut-brown color, and not burnt, as is so commonly done. It should be boiled for twenty minutes, set one side, sweetened, well stirred, and a little cold water added to cause the grounds to settle. Cabbage is more wholesome when cut in shreds and eaten with a little vinegar, pepper, and salt, than when cooked. All fried meats are unwholesome; they should be boiled or broiled.

Soldiers sharing rations

Soldiers sharing rations (A. R. Waud by way of Library of Congress)

August 6

Military Events: Peninsula Campaign: General Lee moves 4 divisions out to meet US General Hooker, who is holding Malvern Hill. It’s a hot day and the troops move slowly. General McClellan, in the meantime, is ordered by General Halleck to “immediately send a regiment of cavalry and several batteries of artillery to Burnside’s command at Aquia Creek. It is reported that Jackson is moving north with a very large force.” McClellan orders Hooker, who had commented that this would be a good time to advance again on Richmond, to withdraw. The Peninsula Campaign is over. For the next few weeks, McClellan and his men will be busy moving to Aquia Creek. (1, 11)

Union horse artillery during the war.

Union horse artillery during the war. (Library of Congress)

Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: US General Pope orders his army to concentrate at Culpeper for an advance. CS General JEB Stuart, in Grace Church with his horse artillery, hears that a considerable force has moved southward from Fredericksburg toward the Central Railroad (the main communication source between generals Lee and Jackson). Stuart attacks their rearguard at the Po River. The entire force turns to attack him and Stuart reverses direction, skirmishing all the way back to Bowling Green. The Federals, having reopened their communication with Fredericksburg, abandon the plan to cut the railroad. (11, 14)

Chattanooga Campaign of 1862: US General Buell sends his engineer from Stevenson, Alabama, up the L&N Railroad o assist in building stockades along the supply lines, telling him, “Don’t lose an hour . . . . [i]f it cannot be done well it must at any rate be done quickly.” (2) Meanwhile, CS generals Bragg, in command of the Army of Tennessee (once part of the Army of Mississippi) and Smith, in command of the Army of Kentucky, have been conferring in Chattanooga. It is decided that General Bragg will loan two brigades to the Army of Kentucky, which will depart Chattanooga on August 13th. (18)

Western Theater: On the Mississippi, some of the remaining US gunboats go after the ram CSS Arkansas. The Arkansas has engine trouble, though. It cannot fight and is abandoned and destroyed by its crew. (12)

Other: US General Robert McCook, ill and riding in an ambulance, is attacked by Confederate raiders between Athens, AL and Descherd, TN, and dies from his wounds. (6) The incident causes an uproar in the Northern press, while the Southern version presents a different view of the event.

In Washington, President Lincoln addresses a large crowd in front of the Capitol to dispel rumors that General McClellan and Secretary of War Stanton are feuding. (5)

Battles: Kirksville, Missouri.

Battle of Kirksville, painting.

Battle of Kirksville, painting. (Source.)

August 7

From Year of Glory:

New Market, Va., August 7, 1862 – 9 a.m.

General Thomas J. Jackson,
Commanding Valley District:
General: Your dispatch of yesterday is received. I am here in consequence of the reported advance of McClellan’s army. I have no idea that he will advance on Richmond now, but it may be premonitory to get a new position, reconnoiter, &c. I think it more probable to cover other movements, probably that of Burnside from Fredericksburg, of which I wrote you last night. It was to save you the abundance of hard fighting that I ventured to suggest for your consideration not to attack the enemy’s strong points, but to turn his position at Warrenton, &c., so as to draw him out of them. I would rather you should have easy fighting and heavy victories.
I am, very respectfully, &c.,

R.E. Lee,
General, Commanding

Military Events: Malvern Hill: General Hooker manages to withdraw just before the Confederate army arrives. When Lee’s troops reach the hill, it is deserted. (11, 14)

Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: CS General Jackson, in Gordonsville with a total of 24,000 troops, learns of Pope’s concentration, and with Lee’s concurrence, decides to attack before the entire army reaches Culpeper. Meanwhile, General Pope orders General Banks to move forward to the turnpike crossing at the Hazel River. General McDowell is moving forward with an extra division to Culpeper Court House, so the entire US Army of Virginia, some 28,500 men, is scattered on the turnpike between Sperryville and Culpeper. General King’s division remains at Fredericksburg, while Buford’s cavalry at Madison Court House pickets the Rapidan River from Barnett’s Ford to the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, supported by General Sigel’s infantry brigade and battery. General George D. Bayard, a classmate of Jeb Stuart at West Point, is at Rapidan Station and his cavalry extends Buford’s left to Raccoon Ford, and cavalry pickets along the river extend Bayard’s left to General King (11, 14)

Chattanooga Campaign of 1862: US General Buell tells General Halleck he estimates a Confederate force of 90,000 in East Tennessee, roughly twice the strength of his 46,000-man Army of the Ohio, with possibly 60,000 at Chattanooga and in Knoxville. “I shall march on Chattanooga at the earliest possible day,” he telegraphs the US general-in-chief, “unless I ascertain certainly that the enemy’s strength renders it imprudent.” (7)

August 8

Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: Jackson crosses the Rapidan and advances, driving the Union cavalry back. The CS advance is slow and disorderly, however, as A.P. Hill’s division is late. General Ewell’s in front only travels about 8 miles this day, and Hill’s only 2. Meanwhile, General Pope reaches Culpeper around midday, and to meet Jackson, orders Banks and Sigel to hasten to Culpeper Court House and Crawford’s brigade of Banks’ force to Cedar Run to support Bayard. (11)

Generals Stuart and Bayard

Cavalry Generals J. E. B. Stuart (CSA) and George D. Bayard (USA) (Both images from Library of Congress)

August 9

Battles: Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign – Cedar Run/Slaughter’s Mountain/Cedar Mountain. General Jackson is despondent about the delays but continues to press forward, noting that US infantry is about 5 miles away and the cavalry close to his own. Bayard has halted his cavalry and supporting infantry at Cedar Run to meet Jackson. At roughly 5 p.m., General Banks launches a double-pronged attack. His forces gain an early advantage during the battle, but A. P. Hill later launches a counterattack and wins the day, although CS General Charles Sidney Winder, leading the Stonewall Brigade, is killed. During a truce in mid-battle, as both sides gather and bury their dead, generals Bayard and Stuart, according to a Washington paper, meet and get talking about old times. Nearby, a wounded Union soldier is calling for water.

‘Here, Jeb,’ said Bayard – old time recollections making him familiar as he tossed his bridle to the rebel officer – ‘hold my horse a minute, will you, till I fetch that poor fellow some water.’ Jeb held the bridle. Bayard went to a stream and brought the wounded man some water. As Bayard mounted his horse, Jeb remarked that it was the first time he had ‘played orderly to a Union General.’” Stuart was then a major general in the Confederate service. The business for which they met was soon arranged, and when the bugle sounded the recall, they shook hands and turned away, mortal enemies again.

Western theater: Because of sniping against US traffic on the Mississippi, Admiral Farragut launches a retaliatory attack on Donaldsonville, Louisiana. The sniping in that area stops. (12)

August 10

Military Events: Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: At Cedar Run, all is quiet, for the most part, but Jackson realizes that fresh Union troops are being brought up. Indeed, though General Pope puts the remainder of Banks’ corp at 5,000 men and so not fit for combat, Jackson’s 22,000-23,000 battle-weary men are facing at least 27,000 fresh infantry and artillery, in addition to Bayard’s cavalry in front and Buford’s on Jackson’s left flank. Another 18,000 Union troops are hurrying to the battlefield. Jeb Stuart is sent out on reconnaissance but otherwise the day passes quietly in the brutal Southern August heat. (11)

McMinnville Civil War  Memorial

McMinnville Civil War Memorial (Brent Moore)

Chattanooga Campaign of 1862: General Buell tells Halleck, “The enemy is advancing in Kentucky.” He also notes there are 60,000 Confederates in Knoxville and more are arriving. (7) In East Tennessee, CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest leaves his cavalry at McMinnville under the command of Colonel Hood of the Second Georgia and heads to Chattanooga. In Forrest’s absence, a large Union column moves on McMinnville and Hood falls back to Sparta. (4)

August 11

Military Events: Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: At Cedar Run, the Federals request a truce through 5 p.m., which is granted. Late in the day, Stuart tells Jackson that King has reached Pope. Facing a force now almost double his own, Jackson withdraws to Gordonsville during the night. (11)

Other: General Grant, in Corinth, issues orders that black refugees are to be employed as necessary and issued wages or paid “in kind.” In practice, this means they may receive rations. (13)

A confusing situation in Kentucky: US President Lincoln tells Secretary of War Stanton that “Gov. Morton is one of our best Governors, but I do not think he would be the best Military commander” for Kentucky. (5) At the present time, Kentucky has an elected governor with a stormy tenure, Beriah Magoffin, as well as a military governor, US General Jeremiah Boyle. However, a Confederate shadow government also exists. When its first governor, George W. Johnson, fell at Shiloh – the only state governor on either side to be killed in battle – Richard Hawes was selected to succeed him. However, both Hawes and the Confederate Kentucky government are in Chattanooga and will travel back to Kentucky with General Bragg during the upcoming offensive.

August 12

Military Events: Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: At Cedar Run, General Pope advances, to find his foes gone. (11) The Federals are somewhat shocked, as the following telegrams from Year of Glory show:

Headquarters Army of Virginia,
Cedar Mountain, August 12, 1862 – 7.30 a.m.

Major-General Halleck:
The enemy has retreated under cover of the night. His rear is now crossing the Rapidan toward Orange Court-House. Our cavalry and artillery are in pursuit. I shall follow with the infantry as far as the Rapidan. Will keep you advised.

Major-General, Commanding.

Washington, D.C., August 12, 1862.

Major-General Pope:
Beware of a snare. Feigned retreats are secesh tactics.

H.W. Halleck,

Signal Station at Headquarters,
August 12, 1862 – 11 a.m.

General McDowell:
Please send me some infantry. The enemy are trying to turn our left.


Signal Station, Headquarters,
August 12, 1862 – 12 m.

General Pope:
General Sigel’s cavalry fired on us. It was not the enemy.

A.N. Duffie,

Harrison’s Landing, Virginia: McClellan learns from his cavalry commander that Richmond’s defense is down to roughly 36,000 men. He telegraphs General Halleck, offering to attack Richmond, but only with reinforcements. (14) Halleck writes a lengthy letter to McClellan that includes this: “I deem it my duty to write you confidentially that the administration is greatly dissatisfied with the slowness of your operations . . . So strong is this dissatisfaction that I have several times been asked to recommend some officer to take your place . . . the Government will expect an active campaign by the troops under your command, and that unless that is done the present dissatisfaction is so great your friends here will not be able to prevent a change being ordered.” (7)

Chattanooga Campaign of 1862: Halleck replies to Buell: “If the enemy are concentrating in East Tennessee you must move there and break them up. Go wherever the enemy is.” General Buell requests two divisions from Grant, in Corinth, Mississippi. (7, 8) Around dawn, CS General John Hunt Morgan and his cavalry appear in Gallatin, Tennessee, having slipped through picket lines and then captured the pickets and the town without a fight. “Lightning” Ellsworth gets on the telegraph and sends out false messages but fails this time to intercept any useful Union messages. The raiders destroy government stores and two freight train in town and then spread out to carry the damage further. Some go south to destroy the Pilot Knob Bridge, and others head for the Twin Tunnels, where they easily overpower the Federal guards and prepare to destroy Big South, one of the tunnels, by piling cross-ties inside the tunnel as an obstacle and then loading up flatcars with ties behind a locomotive, setting these alight and then sending the unmanned train racing into the tunnel, where it hits the obstacle and overturns. The resulting inferno burns through the tunnel supports, and some 800 feet of the tunnel collapses. The heat is so intense, it ignites an exposed coal seam in the bedrock. The raiders then tear up 600 feet of track south of Big South and burn a small bridge. It will be another 98 days before Buell can hope to be supplied from Nashville again. (2)

Of note, the old L&N route is such a good one, it’s still used today, as the video below shows. Never mind the “ghost” or the “gold” – watch out for the train!


(1)  The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, the Official Records

(2)  Morgan’s Raiders and The L&N Railroad in the Civil War, by Dan Lee.

(3)  Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson

(4) The Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. N.B. Forrest, and of Forrest’s Cavalry by Thomas Jordan, J. P. Pryor

(5) The Lincoln Log timeline.

(6) Blue and Gray Timeline.

(7) Henry Halleck’s War: A Fresh Look at Lincoln’s Controversial General-In-Chief, by Curt Anders

(8) Grant Chronology, Mississippi State University.

(9)”The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government” (Vol. II), Jefferson Davis.

(10) Civil War Home’s “The Eastern Theater: 2nd Manassas, Antietam and Fredericksburg.

(11)  The Army of Northern Virginia in 1862, by William Allan (1892)

(12)  Conquest of the Lower Mississippi.

(13) Civil War Interactive.

(14) Chronology of the Second Manassas Campaign.

(15) A Year of Glory, August 1862, part I.

(16) The Strategy of Robert E. Lee, by J. J. Bowen (1914).

(17) Campaigns of the Civil War.

(18) Confederate Invasion of Kentucky, Late 1862 and The Battle of Perryville.

Categories: American Civil War

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