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Old 07-03-2011, 05:57 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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July 4th, 1861:

A while back we examined President Jefferson Davis' message to the Confederate Congress where he spelled out Southern thinking on the right of secession, the status of slaves and the justice of the Confederate cause.

On the 85th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a message to the US Congress which served the same function of clarifying the reasons for the war, the goals involved and the justice of the Union cause. The Constitution calls on the chief executive to report once a year to Congress on the state of the Union, but the tradition of the president doing it in person in January had yet to come about. Lincoln's State of the Union was written out, delivered to Congress and read out loud to them by a clerk.

Lincoln began with a summary of the events which led to the outbreak of fighting, and just as Davis ruled that the South was correct and honorable in all conduct, Lincoln finds the behavior of the North to be utterly justified.

He continued with a swipe at the border states which tried to hide behind neutrality, giving them the "with us or against us" treatment. The president continued on to address the controversy over the suspension of habeas corpus in Maryland and explain why he had ignored the courts.
Quote:
The provision of the Constitution that "the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it" is equivalent to a provision—is a provision—that such privilege may be suspended when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety does require it. It was decided that we have a case of rebellion and that the public safety does require the qualified suspension of the privilege of the writ which was authorized to be made. Now it is insisted that Congress, and not the Executive, is vested with this power; but the Constitution itself is silent as to which or who is to exercise the power; and as the provision was plainly made for a dangerous emergency, it can not be believed the framers of the instrument intended that in every case the danger should run its course until Congress could be called together, the very assembling of which might be prevented, as was intended in this case, by the rebellion.
Next the president called for 400,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion and asked Congress for the money and means to prosecute the war. This was followed by the longest portion of the message, numerous paragraphs devoted to the legality of secession. With a Constitution which was silent on the subject of secession, both sides invented tortuous legal arguments to justify their positions, all of them self serving. In this message, Lincoln comes up with a new one for the North:
Quote:
The Constitution provides, and all the States have accepted the provision, that "the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government." But if a State may lawfully go out of the Union, having done so it may also discard the republican form of government; so that to prevent its going out is an indispensable means to the end of maintaining the guaranty mentioned; and when an end is lawful and obligatory the indispensable means to it are also lawful and obligatory.
That may be the worst one yet, amounting to "We promised to protect you and if you scorn our protection we will be breaking that promise, therefore we must force our protection upon you.

So far, none of the above was surprising in any manner, but then Lincoln began to veer off into a totally new direction. He began to redefine government as seen through the vision of Republicans.
Quote:
This is essentially a people's contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men; to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all; to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life. Yielding to partial and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the leading object of the Government for whose existence we contend
The idea that this war was a test of a Republican form of government's ability to survive, would be repeated more eloquently two years later at Gettyburg. But Lincoln went much further with his list of obligations for the government, he is for the first time, placing our government in the business of seeing to it that everyone gets a fair and equal shot. This is a concept which today is so completely embraced that we find it difficult to think that it once was a novelty. It might be fairly said that in this message to Congress, we find the birth of activist government for the US. And Lincoln wasn't just saying that this was the government's job, he said that it was
Quote:
the leading object of the Government for whose existence we contend
Then Lincoln addressed what I have always referenced as the "spoil sport" argument about the morality of secession.
Quote:
Our popular Government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have already settled—the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains—its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets, and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that there can be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace, teaching men that what they can not take by an election neither can they take it by a war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.
I think that the above is the strongest argument advanced by the North in justifying the bloodshed..it says "We all agreed to a system where we abide by the results of elections. That system cannot survive unless we prove that failure to abide by the electoral results will not be allowed to stand."

As with the Davis message to Congress, I strongly urge everyone to read this entire document. It is the best possible summary of the Union cause available.
http://millercenter.org/scripps/arch...es/detail/3508

Last edited by Grandstander; 07-03-2011 at 06:43 PM..
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Old 07-04-2011, 08:16 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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July 5th, 1861:

When we last looked in on Missouri govenor Jackson, he was retreating to the SW corner of the state, pursued by the manic Nathaniel Lyons. As they fell back, the Confederate militia force grew by picking up local units loyal to the Confederacy, and they now had 4000 armed, but still undertrained troops. Part of the pursuing force, 1,100 men under the command of Colonel Franz Sigel, arrived at Carthage on July the 4th, and made camp there. Learning of Sigel's location, Governor Jackson decided that the time was ripe for an attack. His noisy and amatuer advance was detected by Sigel's scouts and the Colonel marched his force out to meet the threat. Ten miles north of Carthage, they collided.

The fight was a confusing affair. Sigel opened the ball with an artillery bombardment followed by an advance which was stopped by the artillery of Jackson's force. Both sides then settled into some long range skrimishing and shelling until Sigel noticed a group of 2000 Confederates moving through the woods on his left. These were actually unarmed recruits to the Missouri Guard who had been placed out of harm's way, but who decided to wander closer to watch the battle. Taking them for armed troops, Sigel feared that he had been flanked, and ordered a retreat.

Both sides claimed victory, Sigel on the basis of having inflicted 77 casulaties on the rebels to just 44 for his troops, Jackson on the basis of having driven the Union troops off the field. In strategic terms, the battle meant little apart from once more enabling the retreat of Jackson
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Old 07-07-2011, 07:06 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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July 8th, 1861:

A part of the Confederate propaganda was promoting the idea that the Confederate states wished only for a peaceful departure and were now doing nothing more than defending their homes. That became a bit harder to sustain 150 years ago today when the Confederate government appointed General Henry Sibley to command of the rebel forces in..............New Mexico. His instructions were to secure that territory for the Confederacy, orders he ultimately was unable to follow despite his three month invasion in early 1862.

New Mexico at this time was a territory, not a state, and was ruled by a Federally appointed territorial governor. There was no legislature to vote on secession or loyalty, consequently there was no legal justification which could be mounted for making it a part of the Confederacy, this was just a land grab.

There wasn't much there in the way of people or resources for either side, but the Confederacy saw New Mexico as the staging ground for Federal attacks on west Texas, so they wanted a buffer zone.
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Old 07-10-2011, 08:04 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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July 11th, 1861:

The action shifted back to the Eastern theater 150 years ago today as General George McClellan continued his campaign to clear western Virginia of Confederates. He dispatched General William Rosecrans with a reinforced brigade to seize the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike which was the road to Beverly, Virginia, the next objective. This move would also place Union forces in the rear of Lt. Colonel John Pegram's brigade. Simultaneously, Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Morris's Union brigade marched from Philippi to assault Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett's command at Laurel Hill.

The Union movement worked perfectly. Trapped between two forces, Pegram's command was cut in half, one portion escaping toward Beverly, but the other cut off and forced to surrender, Pegram himself becoming one of the captives. The collapse of Pegram's position forced Garnett's force to retreat, and in a rear guard action at Corrick's Ford on July 13, Garnett was killed, the first general officer of the war to be lost in battle. The collected actions came to be called the Battle of Rich Mountain. McClellan's troops suffered 46 casualties, while the Confederates lost 300, most of those captured. The victory was greatly magnified in Northen minds by the capturing or killing the two highest ranking Confederate officers on the scene.

The Union victory advanced their aims in western Virginia, but the more critical outcome of the fight was the making of McClellan's reputation. He became the reigning hero of the North and it was this stature which caused Lincoln to call upon him to take command after the disaster at Bull Run.
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Old 07-13-2011, 05:49 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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July 14th, 1861:

150 years ago today, the USS Daylight, fourth class screw steamer with 8 guns , arrived off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina to begin blockade duties. This single ship could not police this area by itself, but help would be coming shortly as the Union Navy continued its astonishingly rapid growth. Wilmington became the third Confederate port to come under blockade, following the Union efforts in the Chesapeake and at the mouth of the Mississippi.

Reporting to Assistant Adjutant Edward Townsend, 150 years ago today General George McClellan announced that western Virginia was nearly cleared of Confederates.
Quote:
CAMP NEAR HUTTONSVILLE,

July 14, 1861.


I have just returned from Cheat River, having crossed the mountain with a strong advanced guard. The enemy have no doubt retreated to Staunton, and I have the pleasure to announce that, with the exception of the Kanawha, the part of Western Virginia included in my department is now free from the presence of the enemy. I expect every day to hear that the measures taken to drive Wise out of the Kanawha have proved successful. I shall now proceed to scour the country with small columns, unless the moral effect of our successes has sufficed to disperse the guerrilla bands. The three-months' regiments are to be reorganized, and some time will be required to prepare this hastily-reorganized army for further operations.

The general's kind telegraph is received. Offer him my thanks for it.


GEO. B. McCLELLAN.
http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/or/R122205

What distinguishes this dispatch is that it is absent the typical McClellan bombast and self congratulatory rhetoric. That would come later. What was there that would become depressingly familiar in McClellan reports was his stating that time was going to be needed for reorganization before further operations could be executed.

Meanwhile in Washington, General Irvin McDowell was preparing his 35,000 troops for their advance against the 20,000 Confederates at Manasas under General Beaureguard. Twenty five miles to the NW, General Robert Patterson's 18,000 Federal troops were supposed to be fixing the attention of General Joseph Johnston's 12,000 Confederates at Winchester. The idea was for Patterson to prevent Johnston's exit from the Valley to link up with Beaureguard.

Patterson was 69 years old, a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, and was well past his prime. He had advanced toward Winchester to threaten Johnston's force, but after a minor engagement at Hoke's Run on July 2, he had halted at Martinsburg and gone into apparent paralysis. There he remained until the 15th when instead of resuming his advance on Winchester, he fell back toward Harper's Ferry. This left Johnston's army unthreatened and free to head SE toward Manasas and Beaureguard. Patterson was honorably discharged before the month was out.
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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150 years ago today, the undertrained and inexperienced forerunner to the Army of the Potomac, made its stumbling start out of their Washington camps, headed for Manasas Junction and a showdown with the Confederate army. 1400 officers and 30,000 enlisted men made a complete hash of the movement. Many of the men drank all of their water right away, and then fell out of the line of march to go search for a stream or creek to refill their canteens. Others became distracted by berry hunting and far too many decided that their equipment was just too damn heavy, a problem they solved by shedding it and abandoning it in the road. Trailing units fell out to hunt around in the abandoned debris for equipment which might be superior to their own. The Union army more closely resembled a crowd moving toward a sports stadium than an army on the march.

The modest goal was to reach Centreville by that first evening, a distance of 21 miles. They didn't arrive there until the evening of the 18th.
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Old 07-16-2011, 09:52 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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July 17th, 1861:

The sluggish advance of General McDowell's army alerted Confederate pickets who passed the word to General Beauregard. He commanded 22,000 troops to take on the 30,000 Northerners. General Johnston at Winchester with his 12,000, was senior in rank to Beauregard, meaning the latter could not order the former to come to his aid.

What he could do was another relative novelty, telegraph President Davis and ask him to order Johnston South. The president saw the sense of Beauregard's request and telegraphed Winchester with order for Johnston:
Quote:
Gen. Beauregard is attacked. To strike the enemy a decisive blow all of your effective force will be needed. If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and baggage to Culpeper C. H. either by railroad or by Warrenton. In all the arrangements exercise your discretion. S. COOPER, Adj't. and Ins. General.
THE BATTLE of BULL RUN (JULY, 1861) from Military Memoirs of a Confederate

Two things flowed from this order. One was Johnston loading his troops aboard trains for a rapid movement to Manasas.

The other was the opening of what was to be a bitter and enduring animosity between President Davis and General Johnston. These were two hyper sensitive men, their senses of personal honor frequently overwhleming their practical sides. This first major dispute was really over nothing. Johnston had decided to read the "if practicable" part of the order as discretionary, as in please come if you think it feasible. His version was that he checked to make sure General Patterson's force was still North of the Potomac, and then decided that honor demanded he rush to his comrade's aid.

When Davis learned this, he took offense and ordered that the wording in Johnston's report be altered so as to strike any references to options. It had been an order, was the Davis position, and Johnston was simply promoting himself by trying to make it seem like the decision was his.

And of course when Johnston learned that his report had been altered without his permission, he fumed, he sputtered, he decided that Davis was no gentleman, had no honor...etc etc.

None of that mattered, Davis wanted Johnston's army to move to Manasas and Johnston acted quickly to get it under way. What needed to be done, got done. What wasn't needed was this stupid feud between the president and his senior commander in the field., but if it hadn't been this, it would have flowed from any one of numerous Davis/Johnston disputes which were to follow. These guys just couldn't, and never would, stand one another's guts.
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Old 07-17-2011, 05:49 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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July 18th, 1861:

The opening guns of the 1st Manasas campaign were heard 150 years ago today. McDowell's untested army was still struggling to reach Centreville, the place they had been scheduled to rest on the evening of the 16th.

While waiting, McDowell determined that it would be a good idea to establish the location of the Confederate's left flank. To that end, he sent Brigadier Daniel Tyler forward to reconnoiter Centreville and the area just beyond. Tyler found Centreville deserted, so he continued on to Blackburn's Ford. Tyler scanned the opposite bank and concluded that the rebel opposition was composed of the few artillery batteries which were in sight, so he ordered a brief bombardment followed by an advance of half his troops.

What Tyler didn't know was that there was a brigade of Confederates concealed in the woods. Commanded by Brigadier James Longstreet, these troops opened fire and brought the advance to a halt. Tyler then sent in the rest of his men, but again, heavy fire by the defenders drove them back. When Col. Jubal A. Early arrived with reinforcing brigade to join Longstreet, Tyler ordered a full retreat.

This failed frontal assault was the inspiration for McDowell's plan to flank the Confederates rather than attack directly across the creek. But first he had to get them there, and they were still strung out all over the road from Washington to Centreville.
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:56 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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July 19th, 1861:

The Union Army occupied Centreville at last, and the Confederates devoted the day to bolstering their line along Bull Run Creek with the units arriving from the Valley. By the end of the following day, all of Johnston's troops save one brigade had arrived. As far as McDowell knew, these troops were still at Winchester, being frozen in place by General Patterson's command, and the Union General made his plans on the basis of that misinformation.

Had McDowell managed to march his army at any sort of normal speed, the attack could have been launched yesterday, before any of Johnston's troops reached the scene, and Patterson's failure would not have mattered. Instead it had taken three days to reach Centreville, and McDowell would need another day to advance them to their jump off positions for the attack.
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:55 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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July 20th, 1861:

It was the eve of the first major battle of the war, 150 years ago today. On the Southern side of Bull Run, trains carrying General Johnston's troops continued to arrive at Manasas Junction. As quickly as the units materialized, they were fed into Beuaregard's defensive line.

Both generals spent the day perfecting their plans. McDowell settled on a flanking attack, targeting the Confederate left. He would send one division forward to threaten the Stone Bridge on the Warrenington Turnpike where the Confederate left ended, a brigade to Blackburn's Ford to occupy the Confederates across the creek and prevent their reinforcing the left, and the main attack would be carried out by two divisions which marched upstream to Sudley Springs Ford, beyond the Confederate left. They were to wade across there, and then make a sharp left turn and roll up the rebel flank. When they had pushed the Confederates to the other side of the Turnpike, then the Union division there would cross on the bridge and join in the destruction of the Southern army.

It wasn't a bad plan, a bit complex for the inexperienced troops which he led, but it did work at first. The ultimate flaw in McDowell's plan of operation was that it rested on the assumption that Patterson was holding Johnston's troops in the Valley and that the Union force would have close to a 3 to 2 advantage over the rebels.

For his part, General Beauregard felt that a quick strike on his part would spoil any planned Union attack and throw the Northerners on the defensive. His plan was the mirror image of McDowell's. He would hold his left with a limited number of troops, and send his attack across Blackburn Ford to strike at the Union left.

If both plans had been executed as drawn, the armies would have devoted the next day to simply exchanging positions in a great counter clockwise half circle.

Tune in tomorrow.....

It also is worth mentioning that 150 years ago today, the first aerial reconnaissance of the war took place. McDowell sent Professor Thaddeus C. Lowe aloft in his balloon, Enterprise. Lowe telegraphed down some useful reports, but then due to unfavorable winds, he was unable to get back to Union lines, and the balloon landed on the rebel side of the creek, though fortunately in a place where no soldiers were around. Volunteers from the 31st New York Regiment went searching for him, found him, and discovered he had injured his ankle too badly to walk. They returned and reported this, and it was Mrs. Lowe, Thaddeus' wife, who effected the rescue. She disgusied herself as an old crone and simply drove a buckboard across the lines, found her husband, deposited him and the balloon aboard and safely returned.
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