Monday, February 27, 2012
In February of 1862 Lincoln and the Republican Congress passed the Legal Tender Acts, authorizing paper money. This was one of the first steps in Lincoln's government expansion, which was one of the main reasons the South seceded. For more information on this act, read the blog post The Greenback is Born from the New York Times, or buy the book The Real Lincoln by Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
BackgroundWhen the Southern states seceded the area which now makes up New Mexico and Arizona was organized into a territory called New Mexico territory. The settlers of Southern New Mexico wanted to join the Confederacy, and they assembled in several secession conventions, and began forming into militia companies. On August 1st, 1861 the Confederate government had established what was called the Territory of Arizona, which contained the southern halves of what is now Arizona and New Mexico.
Brigader General Henry H. Sibley, a West Pointer who had followed his state Louisiana and left the army, prepared an idea for a New Mexico Campaign. He planned to begin by capturing Nevada and Sante Fe, seize Colorado Territory and the forts in the area, and then turn to capture Nevada and California. This would give the Confederacy access to the large amounts of gold in the area, which would help finance the war effort. Sibley gathered an army of 2,510 men, and marched towards Fort Craig. There were 3,800 Union troops under Edward Canby at Fort Craig. 1,200 of these were seasoned troops, the rest were volunteers. Sibley did not think a direct assault would be successful, so he formed his brigade south of the fort in an attempt to lure Canby to attack him.
BattleAfter waiting for three days Sibley decided to move out, since they were low on supplies, and cut the fort's line of communications with Santa Fe. However, Canby beat him to the Valverde ford of the Rio Grande. Sibley turned over his command to Colonel Tom Green because of illness. Some skirmishing occurred throughout the day as each force waited for all their troops to come up. One Confederate lancer company charged what was thought to be a weak volunteer company. However, it was a company from Colorado, which was able to break the charge, killing twenty lancers and almost all their horses. This was the only lancer charge of the Civil War.
|Fort Craig Today|
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I regarded the position of the army as desperate, and that an attempt to extricate it by another battle, in the suffering and exhausted condition of the troops, was almost hopeless. The troops had been worn down with watching, with labor, with fighting. Many of them were frosted by the intensity of the cold; all of them were suffering and exhausted by their incessant labors. There had been no regular issue of rations for a number of days and scarcely any means of cooking. Their ammunition was nearly expended. We were completely invested by a force fully four times the strength of our own. In their exhausted condition they could not have made a march. An attempt to make a sortie would have been resisted by a superior force of fresh troops, and that attempt would have been the signal for the fall of the water batteries and the presence of the enemy’s gunboats sweeping with the fire at close range the positions of our troops, who would thus have been assailed on their front, rear, and right flank at the same instant. The result would have been a virtual massacre of the troops, more disheartening in its effects than a surrender.In a council of war it was agreed to surrender the next morning. Floyd turned over the command to Pillow. He believed he would be punished by the North for his conduct while Secretary of War, and wanted to try to make his escape. Pillow feared being captured as well, so he turned over the command to Buckner. Buckner saw it as his duty to share the fate of his troops, so he accepted the command, and next morning opened negotiations to surrender.
|The Hotel where the negotiations took place|
I moved out by the road we had gone out the morning before. When about a mile out crossed a deep slough from the river, saddle-skirt deep, and filed into the road to Cumberland Iron Works. ... Over 500 cavalry ... passed, a company of artillery horses ... followed, and a number of men from different regiments, passing over hard-frozen ground. More than two hours had been occupied in passing. Not a gun had been fired at us. Not an enemy had been seen or heard. The enemy could not have reinvested their former position without traveling a considerable distance and camped upon the dead and dying, as there had been great slaughter upon that portion of the field, and I am clearly of the opinion that two-thirds of our army could have marched out without loss, and that, had we continued the fight the next day, we should have gained a glorious victory, as our troops were in fine spirits, believing we had whipped them, and the roads through which we came were open as late as 8 o’clock Sunday morning, as many of my men, who came out afterwards, report.
|Forrest escaping Donelson|
|Surrendered troops in Donelson|
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
|Confederate attack of Grant's line|
When the Confederates struck at 5:00 am, Grant was away from his camp. Not expecting to be attacked, he had left to meet on Foote's flagship. He had ordered that no attack be launched, and did not appoint anyone second in command during his absence. The Union troops were not completely surprised by the Confederate attack, as many of the soldiers were awake because of the harsh weather. They were shaken by the high-pitched, rebel yell, but were able to gather and put up a good defense. They “contested the field most stubbornly” in Pillow's words, and it took the Southern troops two hours before they began to make progress against the Union forces. Forrest's dismounted cavalry was instrumental in their flanking attacks. McClernand, the Union commander on the right, requested reinforcements, but the other officers were reluctant to give them because of Grant's orders against an attack. The Federals were beginning to run out of ammunition, but they had not yet broken into a rout.
The fight continued to be hotly contested, and finally by 12:00 the enemy were in the position at which Buckner was to attack them, but Buckner did not. Pillow got Buckner moving, but in the wasted time the Federals had been reinforced from their left. They formed a defensive line on a ridge, and successfully beat back three Confederate attacks. The Federal troops had been driven back two miles, and an escape hatch was opened. But for some reason Pillow and Floyd believed the enemy were being reinforced and decided to fall back to their trenches to reorganize instead of moving forward while they had the opportunity.
By this time Grant had arrived, having galloped seven miles from the gunboats when he received news of the attack. Realizing that an escape was being attempted, he said, “The one who attacks first now will be victorious. The enemy will have to be in a hurry if he gets ahead of me.” Grant moved his troops into the gap left when Floyd fell back, and ordered General C. F. Smith, the commander on the far left, “All has failed on our right – you must take Fort Donelson.”
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Early on the morning of February 14th, a council of war was held by the Confederate command. It was agreed that Fort Donelson was untenable, and that they must attempt to escape the fort. General Pillow was assigned to lead the breakout. As he was preparing to advance, one of his aides was killed by a sharpshooter. Pillow was very unnerved by this. Even though all the troops were gathered and ready to attack, he canceled the breakout because he believed that the Federals knew of the attempt.
|Fort Donelson River Battery today|
|Ironclads firing on Donelson|
Monday, February 13, 2012
Thursday, February 9, 2012
When the second brigade arrived its commander suggested an attempt to be made to flank through the impenetrable swamps. This was done with two forces attempting to flank on both sides of the Confederate position. Although uncoordinated, they were both able to march through the swamp to strike the Confederates at the same time. As they appeared, the Union center attacked as well. Under this unexpected attack from three directions, the Confederates broke and ran.
With no further defensive positions and being greatly outnumbered by the Union troops, Colonel Shaw, the Confederate commander decided to surrender. The North had lost 37 killed, 214 wounded and 13 missing, the South 23 killed, 58 wounded and 62 missing. 2,500 men surrendered, along with 40 cannons from the fort. Several regiments of reinforcements had arrived after the battle, but soon enough to be surrendered. The capture of Roanoke Island gave the Federals a location from which to launch attacks on other locations in North Carolina. Colonel Shaw wrote this in his official report:
I cannot close this report without giving expression to the deep grief which I feel on account of the disaster which has befallen us, and at the same time expressing the earnest hope that the Great Being who holds the destinies of nations in the hollow of His hand will soon enable us to retrieve the losses we have sustained.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Monday, February 6, 2012
|Ironclads Attacking the Fort|
After 75 minutes realizing the defence was hopeless, Tilghman surrendered the fort. Only two of the fort's cannon were in use, and General Tilghman had been manning one himself to attempt to encourage his men. The water was so high inside the fort that a small boat from the fleet sailed directly in through the salley port to accept the surrender. The Confederates suffered around 15 killed and 20 wounded, with almost 100 surrendering.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
|Julia Ward Howe|
I went to bed that night as usual, and slept, according to my wont, quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, 'I must get up and write these verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them.' So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed, and found in the dimness an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper.The song was printed in The Atlantic Monthly 150 years ago today, and went on to become one of the most famous American songs, even to this day. In the words, the author's Unitarian and abolitionist beliefs shine forth clearly. Today it is viewed by many as a hymn, but although biblical words are used they are not used in a Biblical sense. The "coming of the Lord" is used to refer to the Northern armies attacking the South. She even likens Christ's death to the death of the Union soldiers. The lyrics printed where these:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on."
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
|Plant of the fort|
To understand properly the difficulties of my position it is right that I should explain fully the unfortunate location of Fort Henry.... The entire fort, together with the intrenched camp spoken of, is enfiladed from three or four points on the opposite shore, while three points on the eastern bank completely command them both, all at easy cannon range. ... The history of military engineering records no parallel to this case. Points within a few miles of it, possessing great advantages and few disadvantages, were totally neglected, and a location fixed upon without one redeeming feature.By the time of Grant's arrival the Confederates had 17 cannosn and over 3,000 men to defend the Fort against Grant's 15,000 men and powerful ironclads. At the time of the Federal attack the water was very high, and because of the swampy ground of the fort, eight of the guns were already under water. Tilghman realized the fort would fall, and pulled out any unnecessary troops and sent them to Fort Donelson.
On February 4th the Union gunboats approached and opened a preliminary bombardment prior to their main attack.
|Gunboats approaching the fort|
Thursday, February 2, 2012
In early 1862, the Confederate position through Kentucky and beyond centered on two forts, Forts Henry and Donelson. They were a few miles apart just over the border in Tennesse and were to defend the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. If the Northern forces held these positions, they could use the rivers to invade deep into Confederate territory. The Southern commander of these important positions was Brigader General Tilghman, who had 4,000 men.
The Union command was disorganized, with Buell over the Department of the Ohio and Halleck over the Department of Missouri vying for the attention of their superiors. General Ulysses S. Grant, Halleck's subordinate, proposed a plan to capture Fort Henry. Halleck approved it, since it would be in accordance with Lincoln's order a few days before, and he hoped it would gain him the aprobation of Lincoln.
Just three days after having his plan approved, Grant departed from Cairo, Illinois. His 15,000 – 17,000 men embarked on ships, which would take them within a few miles of the Fort. He was accompained by Flag Officer Andrew Foote with four new ironclads and three wooden gunboats.