Here’s a look at events in the Civil War 150 years ago this week. It was very quiet – a hiatus in the eventful winter of 1863-64. People did a lot of writing, though.
General Grant has many plans, but let’s wait until next week for those, when he will finally be in a position to put them into operation.
Military events: Louisiana operations: “A small Union naval force was working on the Ouachita River in Louisiana. Led by Lt. Commander Ramsay, the force had proceeded upriver, being shot at by shore batteries which damaged one ship’s gun turret and another’s starboard engine. The ships shot back and the batteries were silenced. Today the flotilla came back downriver, picking up bales of cotton and the occasional artillery piece.” (7, including quote)
Other: After the US Congress confirms his nomination for the rank of lieutenant-general, Ulysses Grant is ordered to report to Washington in person. (6)
Other: General Grant confidentially tells General Sherman (16):
DEAR SHERMAN: The bill reviving the grade of lieutenant-general in the army has become a law, and my name has been sent to the Senate for the place.
I now receive orders to report at Washington immediately, in person, which indicates either a confirmation or a likelihood of confirmation. I start in the morning to comply with the order, but I shall say very distinctly on my arrival there that I shall accept no appointment which will require me to make that city my headquarters. This, however, is not what I started out to write about.
While I have been eminently successful in this war, in at least gaining the confidence of the public, no one feels more than I how much of this success is due to the energy, skill, and the harmonious putting forth of that energy and skill, of those whom it has been my good fortune to have occupying subordinate positions under me.
There are many officers to whom these remarks are applicable to a greater or less degree, proportionate to their ability as soldiers; but what I want is to express my thanks to you and McPherson, as the men to whom, above all others, I feel indebted for whatever I have had of success. How far your advice and suggestions have been of assistance, you know. How far your execution of whatever has been given you to do entitles you to the reward I am receiving, you cannot know as well as I do. I feel all the gratitude this letter would express, giving it the most flattering construction.
The word you I use in the plural, intending it for McPherson also. I should write to him, and will some day, but, starting in the morning, I do not know that I will find time just now. Your friend,
U. S. GRANT, Major-General.
Sherman’s reply? Among other things (see source 16 for the full letter), he says he told Grant:
You are now [George] Washington’s legitimate successor, and occupy a position of almost dangerous elevation; but if you can continue as heretofore to be yourself, simple, honest, and unpretending, you will enjoy through life the respect and love of friends, and the homage of millions of human beings who will award to you a large share for securing to them and their descendants a government of law and stability.
Now as to the future. Do not stay in Washington. Halleck is better qualified than you are to stand the buffets of intrigue and policy. Come out West; take to yourself the whole Mississippi Valley; let us make it dead-sure, and I tell you the Atlantic slope and Pacific shores will follow its destiny as sure as the limbs of a tree live or die with the main trunk! We have done much; still much remains to be done. Time and time’s influences are all with us; we could almost afford to sit still and let these influences work. Even in the seceded States your word now would go further than a President’s proclamation, or an act of Congress.
For God’s sake and for your country’s sake, come out of Washington! I foretold to General Halleck, before he left Corinth, the inevitable result to him, and I now exhort you to come out West. Here lies the seat of the coming empire; and from the West, when our task is done, we will make short work of Charleston and Richmond, and the impoverished coast of the Atlantic. Your sincere friend,
W. T. SHERMAN
Battles: Mississippi operations: A brigade sent to Yazoo City by CS General Stephen Lee attacks a Federal unit there that had been moving toward Grenada. “The Confederates [a]re defeated with considerable loss,” and withdraw. (8, including quote)
Virginia operations: “Some nautical ingenuity was employed today by Commander John Taylor Wood, CSN. He led 15 men in a barge across Chesapeake Bay to Cherrystone Point, Va. This obscure locale held a Union telegraph station, which was promptly given new management, with the original telegraphers tied up outside. Woods and company then surprised two small steamers, whose occupants followed the telegraphers in being tied up and left ashore. They then wrecked the telegraph offices and some warehouses, sank one of the newly-acquired ships and sailed off in the other.” (7, including quote)
Battles: Siege of Charleston. “[The CSS] David attacked USS Memphis in the North Edisto River. The torpedo boat struck the blockader first on the port quarter, but the torpedo did not explode. Memphis slipped her chain, at the same time firing ineffectively at David with small arms. Putting about, the torpedo boat struck Memphis again, this time a glancing blow on the starboard quarter; once more the torpedo misfired. Since Memphis had now opened up with her heavy guns, David, having lost part of her stack when rammed, retreated up the river out of range. Memphis, uninjured, resumed her blockading station.” (Wikipedia)
Other: From the “Diary of a Rebel War Clerk“:
MARCH 7TH.—Bright and frosty morning; cloudy and warm in the evening. Cannon and musketry were heard this morning some miles northwest of the city. Probably Gen. Hampton fell in with one of the lost detachments of the [Kilpatrick-Dahlgren] raiders, seeking a way of escape. This attempt to surprise Richmond was a disgraceful failure.
The Secretary of War has gone up to his farm for a few days to see the extent of injury done him by the enemy.
Mr. Benjamin and Assistant Secretary Campbell are already “allowing” men to pass to the United States, and even directly to Washington. Surely the injury done us by information thus conveyed to the enemy hitherto, ought to be a sufficient warning.
Gen. Bragg has resolved to keep a body of 1500 cavalry permanently within the city and its vicinity.
Other: General Grant and his son arrive in Washington. Grant attends a reception in the White House. (6)
Other: Lincoln gives Grant his commission, after having coached the general – who is new to Washington – on a reply that “shall prevent or obviate any jealousy of you from any of the other generals in the service; and second, something which shall put you on as good terms as possible with the Army of the Potomac.”
(2) Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (2003 – see side bar for link).
(3) The Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. N.B. Forrest, and of Forrest’s Cavalry by Thomas Jordan, J. P. Pryor (1868).
(4) The Lincoln Log timeline.
(6) Grant Chronology, Mississippi State University.
(8) Life of Lieutenant-General Nathan Bedford Forrest, by John A. Wyeth (1908/2011).
(9) Captain Raphael Semmes and the CSS Alabama, US Naval Historical Center.
(11) The Siege of Charleston, “The State.” (South Carolina)
(13) The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War.” (2002) David J. Eicher.
(15) The Pictorial Book of Anecdotes and Incidents of the War of the Rebellion…, Richard Miller Devens (1866).
(16) Memoirs of W. T. Sherman – The Meridian Campaign.
(17) The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience During the Civil War. James G. Hollandsworth, Jr., 1995.
(18) A. Lincoln, A Biography, Ronald C. White, Jr. (2009)
(19) Red River Campaign, Encyclopedia of Arkansas.
(20) Red River Campaign, Wikipedia.
(21) Red River Campaign, Civil War Trust.
(22) Henry Halleck’s War: A Fresh Look at Lincoln’s Controversial General-In-Chief, by Curt Anders (1999).
Categories: American Civil War