War, springing sternly from the hearts of the people, is about to rack the nation. The great uprising is first going to split the army and then swell it to puffiness. The Mexican struggle in an unknown country was quickly ended by a single chieftain, trained juniors and discipline rank and file. The Civil War on our own soil will be dragged along by changing leaders, untrained juniors and undisciplined rank and file. The brilliant captains and lieutenants of Monterey and Cerro Gordo will be the generals of Fredericksburg and Shiloh. And they will look down helplessly over their hordes of irregulars for two years before the bullet all too sadly will have whipped those masses into shape.
1860 The long arguments over the rights of slave and free states had by the beginning of the year settled into fixed convictions. As the citizen was certain of his position, so the soldier in Fort Yuma, Arizona,a knew how he stood. The slow mail from Maine or Louisiana determined his sentiments. Although he eagerly awaited the news of the bickerings that were certain to land to strife, he went on just the same with the work in hand.
Out of 198 companies in the service 183 were strewn over 79 posts of the wild frontier. The other 15 manned the Atlantic coast, 23 arsenals, and the Canadian border. Seldom was so much as a battalion collected in any one place and often a small company was separated into detachments. Less than 13,000 men attempted to hold in security •3,000,000 square miles of territory.
In these ominous hours only one great hand was raised to increase our resistance. Scott proposed the establishment of a sufficient force of regulars against possible trouble. But among p245 the politicians in Washington, his was a voice crying in the wilderness. With Buchanan and Floyd there was not a chance of conviction that widespread training and discipline would save lives. Besides their apparent sympathies with the South, they looked upon Scott as too old to lead troops and therefore too old to give advice.
All this time the two sides to the issue were sedulously hurling burning brands at each other when there was no fire department to quench the flames. A hose in Oregon, a nozzle in Florida, horses in Texas and an engine nowhere! The army was fighting Indians while the factions were wrangling. Fighting Indians! Hunting wolves while the mother country lay in convulsions!
1860 The First Infantry was in Texas, the Second along the Mississippi River as far west as Fort Kearny, the Third in New Mexico, the Fourth on the Pacific coast from Puget Sound to the Gulf of California, the Fifth in the Mormon country of Utah, the Sixth in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona, the Seventh in Utah, the Eighth in Texas, the Ninth in Oregon and the Tenth in Utah and New Mexico. The First Artillery was in the Gulf States, the Second along the Atlantic coast, the Third in the vicinity of Vancouver Barracks, Washington Territory, and the Fourth in Utah. The First and Second Dragoons were scattered over the west; the Third was mainly concentrated in New Mexico and the Fourth at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Small disturbances were continually prevalent throughout most of the vast territory the army attempted to cover. For example, in New Mexico near Fort Defiance where the Navahos and Apaches were actively hostile, the soldier's life was far from peaceful. Nestled in the mountains at the foot of Cañon Bonita, scarcely 200 men occupied the loneliest corner of the United States and the key to the Rio Grande. It was called a fort but it was not a fortress. The parade ground, quarters, barracks, prison, storehouses and adobe shacks lay out in the open, protected only by the alertness and man power of the few occupants.
1860 Early in the year 5 companies of the Third Infantry had driven off a band of savages whom they had chased to Sixteen Mile Pond and beaten. Feb. 8
1860 And later a small company was p246 successful in putting to flight other harassing Indians. For over a month thereafter the little garrison had lived in comparative comfort. But one night Lieutenant Whipple, who was officer of the day, had suspicions, from those intangible reckonings that come to men experienced in Indian treachery, that there was going to be an attack. Visiting each sentry he saw that the guard was properly instructed and vigilant. April 30
1860 Sure enough, at one in the morning just after the moon had set, the war whoop sounded from the opposite hills and 3,000 Navahos and Apaches swooped down upon the 150, most of whom were asleep. But the guard was awake and watchful. Giving the alarm it placed itself where it would be the greatest hindrance. The delay was enough to allow the rudely awakened officers and soldiers to grab enough clothing to cover them, to assemble in orderly formation as if they were on parade and to sally forth. Forming a skirmish line they fired by file at any moving object they could see. Stumbling in the darkness they even charged some savages who were strongly posted in natural stone battlements. When dawn came, the Indians moved off with many of their numbers dead and wounded. The superior discipline and marksmanship of the trained soldier had told. One man killed and a few wounded was the tally of the little post of Fort Defiance. And affairs there went on peacefully for some time, but the size of the post was always an invitation to the painted warriors.
Troops in other wild sections were playing their part with equal grit and endurance. When some prospectors were massacred in Nevada, parts of the Sixth Infantry and Third Artillery sought out the plundering tribes.
1860 At Truckee River, these troops routed the Indians after a severe fight. Some of the Tenth Infantry in New Mexico, of the Sixth at Mad River, California, and of the Third Artillery at Harney Lake and in the Klamath country of Washington Territory had sharp encounters with the savages of those localities, while the Fourth Artillery, operating as cavalry, kept the roads and mail routes and escorted immigrants over hundreds of miles of barren country in Utah.
1860 The only legislation for the army this year was an act which among other similar things increased the sugar and coffee p247 rations for enlisted men, and created a commission consisting of Senators Jefferson Davis, Solomon Foot, Representative John Cochrane, Major Robert Anderson and Captain A. A. Humphreys to inquire into "the organization, system of discipline and course of instruction at the United States Military Academy." Thirty‑two million people were satisfied, so far as their power of resistance was concerned, to fritter their time over coffee and the curriculum of a school while their only real combatant strength was parceled out over so vast a region that months of the speediest journeys could not collect it.
In technic there were a few minor improvements. A rifle that was to have some influence on the coming conflict was this year invented by Christopher Spencer. This breechloading weapon was the first of the successful repeaters. It was afterwards thought to be the most finished and ready weapon of the Civil War. It was a seven-shot rifle, loading brass shells through a magazine in the butt. Although the loading was slow, the mechanism was a distinct advance in rapidity over the muzzle-loader. So few of them could be furnished in comparison to the great number of flint and cap lock muzzle-loaders for the myriads of soldiers during the war, that their effect on operations was slight.
1860 Within the army, efforts to improve the tactics for both the regulars and militia were evidenced by the appearance of Rifle and Infantry Tactics and by a translation from the French by Major Robert Anderson, First Artillery, of exercises for artillery. The latter was called Evolution of Field Batteries of Artillery arranged for the use of the "army and militia of the United States." The work was sanctioned by the Secretary of War for the exclusive use of the troops mentioned.
Such preparation sums up all our country made for the clash that was at least probable.
1860 When South Carolina seceded, there were few regular officers who had commanded as much as an assembled battalion. The militia were only so in name. Although an organization here and there might know how to shoulder arms, the state troops had no field-service training whatever. There was no accessible power in the country to prevent armed citizens in any quantity from doing about as p248 they pleased. John Brown's raid was an illustration. The people were waiting to see what was going to happen. Sanguine hopes were fathers to delusions of no war or a short one. The North, especially, lay curious, concerned and idle while the terror was approaching.
to Feb. 1
1861 Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas quickly followed the example of South Carolina. These states sent representatives to a "Congress of Sovereign States," Feb. 9
1861 adopted a constitution, and elected a president who was a graduate of West Point and a former United States senator. The South was quick, keen and farseeing in its movements. Feb. 28
1861 It empowered its new president to take control of operations in its states and authorized him to accept for twelve months as many volunteers as he might require. March 6
1861 Accordingly he called out 100,000 volunteers as a start.
The North could have inferred that the South was preparing for war and meant business. Yet the central government sat supinely by waiting for the outbreak. In the east a few paltry companies which had had about 600 recruits added to them were given the task of holding all the forts and arsenals, and the nation's capital. The President of the Union, the commander in chief of all the armed forces, with his Secretary of War, instead of making some attempt to establish a capable force for meeting the well-organized South, continued to try compromises when the time for such futility had plainly passed. Naturally, since the weakly guarded arsenals and forts in the south states were mockeries of strength, the Confederacy seized them.
1861 Besides, General Twiggs, in command of the Department of Texas, had surrendered nearly one fourth of the entire army and all the public property intrusted to him. And yet the central government let the army fight Apaches and waited for Sumter. To Buchanan and Floyd, men with muskets were soldiers.
A few days before the President of the Confederacy had called out his 100,000, the President of the Union was making his way in disguise to
1861 take his oath of office at the capital of the nation. So little strength had the North that it had to let its chief executive sneak into a threatened White House. There he had to begin to formulate plans against an enemy already well p249 organized and powerful in the speed and efficiency it had exhibited.
Having no regular army in sight, he had to fall back on the old law of 1795 and to turn in desperation to the militia of the states.
1861 In the meantime, Fort Sumter was fired upon and seized, and 35,000 well-equipped and half-disciplined Confederates were in the act of taking the southern forts and arsenals. At this juncture, Mr. Lincoln called out 75,000 militia for three months, a force only three-fourths as large and an enlistment only one‑fourth as long as for the Confederate army already called into the field. He was thus powerless to suppress a single expression of rebellion.
To his call for volunteers the governors of those southern states that had not already seceded sent curt replies of refusal. The northern states hastened to adorn themselves as soldiers. With the truly patriotic man there were too often recruited the idler and the adventurer. The contingents — not organizations — were commanded ordinarily by men ignorant of the art of war and frequently without the character necessary for an officer. The soldier chose his commander as he did in the Revolution and all the evils of organization that overflowed Washington's cup poured out on Mr. Lincoln. In an advertisement for recruits one regiment's poster is significant of the view of the untrained volunteer toward the coming three months' excursion:
"As this regiment is to be constantly garrisoned in the forts around Washington, those anxious to enter the military service will find in it the inestimable advantage of exemption from the hardships and privations incidental to camp-life."
Zouaves were paraded through the streets in showy uniforms.
1861 A Massachusetts regiment was mobbed while attempting to go through Baltimore; a Pennsylvania one had to turn back on the same occasion because it did not have arms. And this hasty, irregular, undisciplined lot, called an army, was to evaporate in three months, whereas the Confederates' force would still be in the service nine months longer.
p250 Furthermore, the small regular army itself felt disintegration. During these months after Sumter, 269 officers out of a total of about 900 resigned their commissions to join the South and 26 were dismissed for the same reason. Sixty-five West Point cadets from the southern states resigned, were discharged or dismissed. But about half of the alumni whose homes were in the South stayed with the North. As to the rank and file those in the service remained with the North with the exception of about 26.
There seemed to be no personal rancor between officers and cadets over the opposite stands they took on secession. Men freely shook hands with each other at parting and expressed feelings of mutual respect. Officers who had resigned left their old regiments on the plains and made long harassing journeys back home to join the Confederacy. It was not without reluctance and tears that they left their old associates and the ties of tradition, friendship, hardship and buffeting bound up with the old flag. Home, friends and the strong organization of the South, which the North in its weakness had permitted, all fixed in them a belief in which they were sincere.
While the Union was losing the services of these trained officers, the handful that was left attempted to do its bit.
1861 Although General Wool, in command of the few trained troops in the East, had not been called upon or consulted by higher authority, he sent to Washington all the organizations he could release. Since he took the precaution to send them around Baltimore, they arrived at the capital without molestation.
In the meantime Washington had been physically severed from the North. The Maryland secessionists had cut all wires and blocked the traffic. The President and Mr. Cameron could not get in touch with the forces that had been called out. Each of these gentlemen suddenly found himself in the throes of managing military affairs of which he was technically ignorant. Mr. Cameron, for instance, rejected offers of regiments of cavalry, because he was doubtful of the value of that arm in our wooded country. Also, cavalry was very expensive. He was perfectly at home, however, in busying himself with dealing out sutlerships to Pennsylvania politicians.
The neglect, throughout the previous decade, of military p251 affairs was reflected in the housing of the War Department. While other bureaus were occupying palatial stone buildings, the activities of this important function of our government were concentrated in a miserable tenement. There Mr. Cameron, after years of legal and political training, pathetically read regulations and treatises on the art of war in order to give to himself at least the appearance of a head of this gigantic military project.
How different in the South! Mr. Davis, an educated soldier, a brave and trained leader, a hero of several battlefields, and a statesman who had served in the Senate and on the Cabinet, combined statecraft with military efficiency. He was the sole executive. The Confederate States had so organized as to allot to him the quick control of affairs and the man power he requested. Such organization and knowledge were to give to a comparatively small force a touch of unity that was to baffle the heterogeneous masses of the Union for four distracting years.
For a great emergency, the constitution of the United States had made little or no provision. Mr. Lincoln now had to break the law and override the powers of Congress in order to build his foundation. By this time all hope of holding the arsenals and forts in the South was gone. That opportunity had inanely passed. Already the militia of the District of Columbia at the President's call had either refused to be sworn in or to serve outside the District. Sinking sand everywhere. Lincoln was beginning to understand that provision can never make up for prevision.
1861 Accordingly he was compelled, in violation of the Constitution, to increase the regular army by 22,714 men and to call out 42,834 additional volunteers for three years.1 The manner of organizing these men was turned over to the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War having too much to do. In turn, the Secretary of the Treasury was too much occupied to be disturbed by such items, so that he pushed the matter off on 3 regular army officers: Colonel Thomas, Major McDowell and Captain Franklin.
These soldiers, acting on sound lines, recommended a three- p252 battalion organization for all regiments, a three-year enlistment and a call for 300,000 volunteers. Although the three-year enlistment was approved, and Congress later had to make a call for a greater number of volunteers, the Secretary of the Treasury disapproved the three-battalion organization for the volunteers because the militia were not "familiar" with it. So the process of making a homogeneous army languished. As usual, the regulars could not be recruited in competition with the inducements offered volunteers. Altogether, the organization of the northern armies was no more developed than Washington's force in 1776.
No provision was made to utilize the experience of regular and other trained officers with the volunteers. The men of the local regiments still elected their officers. If a civilian, who had been a regular officer, happened to be known in a community he was sometimes selected. But more often he was ignored. Grant, who was in business, wrote to the War Department offering his services, but was not even honored with a reply. No attempt was made to transfer regular officers to the new organizations. Indeed many of them in the service served in modest capacities during the entire war while grocers and bankers led regiments indifferently. The governors accepted whole regiments of about 850 men practically as they had been organized at home. The man who raised, equipped and supplied a regiment or brigade really owned it, and no mere governor or president could dictate to it as to who its officers should be or what rank should be given. If the South believed in states' rights, so did the North in the collection of its uniformed recruits. Generals commanding in the field had to apply to the proper governor before an officer of that state could be promoted. In this way the experienced officer was crowded out and some regulars who had accepted state commissions at high rank came to prefer, after they had come in contact with the politics, chicanery and disorderliness of the volunteers, to return to inferior rank with the regulars. What the North lost by such a procedure is shown by the record of those trained officers who did have a chance: 51 major generals, 91 brigadier generals and 106 colonels came from those officers of the old army who either by having been in civil life or by having accepted transfers p253 during hostilities, had the opportunity of advancement. The other 308 the government to its chagrin submerged. It thus tossed at least two years of training into the discard.
On the other hand, the South acted in no such foolish way. It early made a provision to accept the services of officers of the United States army and to let them have their original relative rank. Note the difference in the figures. Of the 250 who espoused the Confederate cause, 182 rose to the rank of general officer, including such men as Lee, Jackson, Longstreet and the two Johnstons. In addition, the Confederacy made gradations of general officers to suit the units they commanded, as was later found best in the World War. On the southern side there was a general for an army, a lieutenant general for a corps, a major general for a division, and a brigadier general for a brigade, whereas on the northern side there were merely major generals and brigadiers for all four units.
The few regulars on the northern side who could be brought from their stations were engulfed in the great vortex of irregular volunteers. Washington was crowded with regiments. A regular battalion of infantry and a scattering few companies of artillery and squadrons of cavalry were scarcely traceable in the crowds of volunteers who were pouring into the city. The quartering of all these uniformed citizens was such a problem that public buildings had to be used as barracks. Even the Capitol itself was given over for that purpose. A German regiment occupied the floor of the House. Beds were in the corridors, a sergeant sat in the speaker's chair, murals were defaced, members' desks broken up and the congressional hall of the nation given over to pillage and abuse. Uncontrolled drunkenness made the denizen of Washington more fearful of friend than enemy. The farmer colonel and apothecary major in many cases walked about the streets in showy uniforms, drew their pay and did not go near their regiments for weeks. It is possible they earned their salary better by their absence. Again, it was true that it costs a nation more to arm its fears than to awe its foes. Already the country had used in these few months money enough to have supported a sufficient and trained force for the ten years preceding.
In other places, too, there were scenes of waste.
1861 The first levies were on their way to aid McClellan in West Virginia,b Patterson in Maryland and McDowell in Washington. Around the cities of the North they had been assembled with the over-sanguine conception that the "secesh" would soon "give up." An excursion into the South and the whole thing would be over. The recruits, for they were mostly such, not knowing whether their regiments would be accepted spent their time sight-seeing, spending their money in saloons and generally adding to their demoralization. In their restlessness to be off and their ignorance of what was going to happen to them, they after a time became surly, depressed and often unruly. Since the government had not made up its mind as to what was going to become of the three-month men, rumors would come into camp one day that they were to be discharged, another day that they were going to be accepted for three years, another that it was optional as to whether individuals would reënlist for three years. Orders would arrive only to be quickly countermanded. In this state of anxiety they became disobedient and even mutinous. Many captains, for the first time saddled with authority, pilfered the rations of the companies. One soldier in writing home shows the reaction of such confusion on raw troops.
"Such a feeling pervades the minds of the soldiers that discipline is played out. Company K refused to turn out to roll call the other morning, and day before yesterday, not a man of them appeared on dress parade. Company F would not come out on parade yesterday.
"Night before last a row broke out in a beer saloon near the depot and some of the Pittsburg boys cleaned out the whole thing, broke in the doors and windows, smashed up the glass and furniture. A crowd collected and Colonel Grant was obliged to call out Companies B, G, and I, with their guns to disperse them. Company G charged down the road and across the railroad track through the thickest of them. They made quite a determined stand on the track, and some six or eight were wounded before they would leave."
With such a state of discipline it is not remarkable that
p255 columns here and there undertook to win battles at will.
1861 Butler at Big Bethel, near Fortress Monroe, was repulsed; June 18
1861 Lyon at Boonville, Missouri, dispersed the Confederates; June 18
1861 Patterson after occupying Harper's Ferry was compelled to withdraw and send most of his troops for the protection of Washington; June 23
1861 and McClellan prepared for this campaign in the mountains of West Virginia. The Union troops seemed to be dispersed with local purposes of their own, whereas the Confederates had been concentrating in northern Virginia.
In these movements many instances of lack of training demonstrated the unfitness of the forces to do anything decisive. Lack of reconnaissance caused 2 regiments under Butler to fire into each other with loss. When they did get into action, the first volley of the Confederates drove them into the woods from which it took their officers over two hours to induce them to return to the charge. Nearly all of Patterson's troops were three-month men who were clamoring to be gone. They were already largely without shoes and entirely without pay. Colonel Biddle testified afterward as to their conduct:
"The General then went to the other regiments, but found that it was not feasible at all; from one‑half to two‑thirds refused to go. He finally got to an Irish regiment and made a very powerful appeal to them, knowing the Irish character very well. He carried them with a sort of shout, and they all said they would remain. They all lifted up their muskets. But he had hardly turned his back when they hallooed out "Shoes and Pants!" "Shoes and Pants!"
1861 McClellan in an eight‑day campaign in West Virginia gave a touch of morale to the North, even if the results he obtained did not have much effect on the outcome of the war. With 5 ill‑disciplined brigades he operated among the Rich and Cheat mountains against an inferior force of Confederates under Pegram and Magruder. Although McClellan's flank attack under Rosecrans was delayed for a day by the weariness of his unseasoned troops, Pegram's men were demoralized from the threat and thrown into disorder in the retreat. Altogether the well-planned skirmishes gave to the side of superior numbers p256 the possession of West Virginia by the Union. Finally the northern forces were able to disperse the inferior force under Morris at Carricksford merely by their appearance on the scene.
Up until this time nothing decisive had been attempted by either side because of the inexperience of the troops. At Washington scattering musketry was often heard along the Potomac. But the 30,000 troops that had been assembled under McDowell were by no means ready to move. They had to have staffs for their larger units. The Quartermaster, Commissary and Ordnance departments had neither means of supply nor subordinate officers who knew their duties. The few trained higher officers could not impart their knowledge to a multitude in a short time. Soldiers who had come out for a lark could scarcely be made to see the seriousness of obedience or the necessity of orderliness. They knew nothing of the march or how to take care of themselves. They knew less about how to eat or look after their feet. Sickness reduced their numbers and efficiency.
This was the kind of force on which General McDowell had to rely and which he had had no chance to maneuver. But the heads of the government reflecting the cry of the North, "On to Richmond," decided that he should move this haphazard collection of men somewhere. They felt it was better to have defeat than no action at all. Of the 300,000 scattered throughout the North there were approximately 50,000 in Washington, where breastworks had been constructed. Of the latter only about 30,000 were allotted for McDowell's use, and only 800 of these were trained troops.2 His testimony before the Senate Committee afterwards was plaintive in its logic:
"I had no opportunity to test my machinery, to move it around and see whether it would seems smoothly or not. In fact, such was the feeling, that when I had one body of eight regiments of troops reviewed together, the general censured me for it, as if I was trying to make some show. I did not think so. There was not a man there who had ever maneuvered troops in large bodies. There was not one in the Army. I did not p257 believe there was one in the whole country. At least I knew there was no one there who had ever handled 30,000 troops. I had seen them handled abroad in reviews and marches, but I had never handled that number, and no one here had."
So McDowell became the scapegoat of a nation that had negligently drifted along.
His plans, however, were laid with the same zeal and intelligence as if he expected victory. His force was to attack Beauregard before Johnston, who was supposed to be kept occupied in the Shenandoah Valley by Patterson, could join the main Confederate Army at Manassas. McDowell was given eight days in which to prepare for this offensive.
1861 Although he exercised himself to the utmost in the interim, there was practically no transportation ready for him when the time came for his movement. Nevertheless, he had to go, knowing full well that Confederate videttes were in sight of Washington and that the prop upon which he leaned was weak and rickety.
1861 Leaving Washington, the troops carried three days' rations in their canvas knapsacks and everything else that a recruit could stow away. The heat and weariness of the march soon told on them. Throwing away blankets, blouses and even rations, which the camp followers soon picked up, they marked their journey with waste. Feet became blistered. Men left the ranks at will, got water and fruit as they chose, and meandered for miles along the way. Some did not reach camp until midnight of the first day's short march. Units were confused, and amongst this mob of men, congressmen in carriages, women in barouches who wanted to see the battle, the curious on horses and sutlers with their wagons mixed themselves. By such process McDowell was enabled to march most of his troops the enormous distance of •fifteen miles in two days.
In this sort of excursion without method by the junior officers, it was not surprising that Tyler attacked at Blackburn's Ford prematurely and without orders. Naturally he was repulsed with loss and with a bad effect upon the troops in general. Nor was it strange that a whole regiment and a battery of artillery among the militia shamefully went home in the midst of these operations because their enlistment had expired; p258 that McDowell had to halt two days in order to reorganize his command and study the country in the absence of maps and reliable guides; and that this delay gave Johnston time to hurry to Beauregard because Patterson, being bereft of decent troops, could not keep Johnston employed.
1861 McDowell, with less than 28,000 men at this time was to attack a strongly fortified position held by at least equal numbers. But his decision and orders were such that even then had they been properly executed he might have had some chance of success, for the Confederates instead of clinging to their fortifications determined to take the offensive.
1861 When the main attack did take place, Tyler was slow in getting into position, and Hunter's brigade, which was a part of the command that was to take the Confederates in flank, rested for refreshments a bit too long by the waters of Bull Run. Yet during the morning the bare thousand of the left wing of the Confederates were pushed back across Bull Run to their strong position. Then the southern masked batteries began to do their deadly work. The unreliable troops on both sides were excited. They formed their lines slowly and badly under fire. The rear ranks and hindmost men of the staggered lines were almost as deadly to friend as enemy. The superior officers had a hard time to get their juniors and rank and file forward. So exposed were the higher commanders in trying to urge their troops to the front that a disproportionate number of leaders were killed or wounded. Late in the afternoon McDowell, in spite of his handicaps, had turned the flank of the Confederate position. Then Johnston came upon the scene. These fresh troops were just enough to turn the tide. A regiment of Confederates, mistaken by the Federals for friends, delivered a murderous fire especially upon the artillery. Then the rout began. One regiment fled and then another. The new volunteers were tired and hungry, but they succeeded in the jamming the road in their hurry to get away. Newspaper men climbed down quickly from their vantage trees. Carriages, barouches, carts and horses clogged the highway. Soldiers in their excitement, firing in the air or at each other, stampeded across the fields toward Washington. McDowell's so‑called army after having sustained a loss of only 5 per cent had disintegrated. Some did p259 not stop until they reached New York City and most of them made their way that night back to Washington. The single battalion of regulars was conspicuous in its orderliness and energetic daring in the protecting the fleeing masses from the enemy. Thus was achieved a battle, the loss of many lives, the waste and destruction of much property by unready forces who were incapable of a decisive stroke. Victory did as much harm to the South as defeat did for the North. Again the country, according to Light Horse Harry Lee, had murdered some of its citizens.
At this juncture the first military bill of the war became a law. While disgruntled volunteers who had been present at the exercises of Bull Run groped about the city without direction, with hats, coats and even rifles gone, while these men without order or cohesion blamed their defeat upon their officers, the battlefield, upon anything but themselves and the false position in which their country had placed them,
1861 Mr. Lincoln signed the enactment which authorized him to accept 500,000 volunteers for not more than three years or less than six months. In requisitioning the regiments bodily from the states he was not to exceed the proportion of 1 cavalry and 1 artillery regiment to 10 of infantry.3 A division was to consist of 3 or more brigades and each brigade of 4 or more regiments. To command these higher units the President was allowed to appoint not more than 6 major generals and 18 brigadier generals, who could be selected from the line or staff of the regular army in which organization they were not to lose their grade. The governor had the exclusive right to appoint all the officers below general rank. Only in case of the failure of a governor to do so, had the President authority to furnish officers. To every enlisted man who furnished his own uniform and clothing $3.50 was allowed, and 40 cents a day to every member of a company who furnished his own horse and horse equipment. For each regiment p260 a chaplain, who had to be an ordained minister of a Christian denomination, was allowed to be appointed by its commander according to the vote of the field officers and company commanders actually on duty. A general commanding a separate department or detached army had the power to convene a board of from 3 to 5 officers who were to examine into "the capacity, qualifications, propriety of conduct and efficiency" of any volunteer officers.4 The law particularly prescribed that vacancies among volunteer officers should be filled by vote. All members of companies were to elect the captain and lieutenants and all regimental officers were to select the remaining commissioned personnel of the regiment. Governors were required to commission such selections. The last part of the law allowed soldiers to send their mail without prepayment, those at home having to pay postage therefor. It also prescribed that the Secretary of War should devise a system of "allotment tickets" whereby the soldier might have some of his pay drawn by his family.
1861 Three days after this piece of legislation, the President signed another bill which allowed him to call out 500,000 more. Although Congress may not have meant to do so, that body had now given Mr. Lincoln power to summon over 1,000,000 men.5 The latter half million were to be enlisted for the duration of the war. In addition, the evident absurdity of the few general officers prescribed by the previous law must have caused the lawmakers to add the provision which gave power to appoint as many general officers as were required.
Now that war in all its fury was upon the country, it acted as if such a catastrophe were quite unexpected, as if it had not been brewing for at least ten years. Now that blood was being spilled, Congress ran to generous extremes.
1861 Not satisfied with the unprecedented force it had already voted for, a third bill became a law within four days of the last one. The regular army was theoretically increased by 9 regiments of infantry, 1 of cavalry and 1 of artillery. An infantry regiment was to contain 2 or 3 battalions, a cavalry regiment not more than 3 p261 battalions of 2 squadrons6 each; and an artillery regiment not more than 12 batteries, each battery to be officered by a maximum of 1 captain, 2 first lieutenants and 2 second lieutenants. In this reorganization of the regulars a wise provision was made for a major with his staff of 1 adjutant and 1 quartermaster for each battalion, and a major for each 4 batteries of artillery. There was as yet only 1 major for a volunteer regiment. An addition of 4 major generals and 6 brigadier generals was also made for the regulars. Thus the North had to remake its army in the face of the enemy.
Enlistments during 1861 and 1862 were to be for three years and thereafter for five years. The recruitment of this additional regular force was to be intrusted to officers appointed from civil life. This same legislation allowed regular officers to be switched from volunteer to regular units or vice versa as the commanding general felt would be conducive to the greatest efficiency.
Then Congress, aghast at the war structure it had raised, became panicked at such a possibility for peace times. Without any means of knowing what the future might hold, it now uttered a statute which provided for the reduction of the army at the end of the war to 25,000 men.
1861 On the same day another act made the militia subject to the same rules as the regular army and their retention possible by the President until sixty days after the next "regular session of Congress."
1861 Five days afterward, the President signed another bill "for the better organization of the military establishment." Now that an army had been built up on paper it was found that administration and supply were wanting. Accordingly an assistant secretary of war, 5 assistant inspector generals with rank and pay of majors of cavalry, 10 surgeons and 20 assistant surgeons, an adjutant general with rank of brigadier general and 19 assistants,7 8 "commissaries of subsistence," 6 topographical engineers, 19 quartermasters, a chief of ordnance with the same rank and pay as the quartermaster-general with p262 8 assistants8 were created. To the medical staff was added a corps of medical cadets, not to exceed 50, who were to have the same rank and pay as the cadets at West Point and who were required to have had a "liberal education," to have read medicine for at least two years and to have attended at least one course of lectures in a medical school. "Female nurses" were allowed to be employed by the surgeon-general at 40 cents a day. Any cadet recommended to be discharged from the Military Academy either for deficiency in conduct or studies was not allowed to be reappointed as a cadet or to be appointed to any place in the army before the class of which he was a member had graduated. The oath of the entering cadet was changed so that it might be binding in any question of states' rights.9 To insure good conduct among soldiers, $2 of the monthly pay was to be retained until his enlistment expired. The ration was increased for the war, but thereafter was to be the same as before. For the first time retirement for officers of long and faithful service or from wounds or disability was made possible by means of a retiring board. The officer could be retired with his pay, or his rations, but not both; or in case his services were not satisfactory, "wholly retired" with one year's pay and allowances.
1861 Another law, two days later, appropriated $100,000 for fortifications, made it a crime of desertion for any officer who quitted his post after regeneration and abolished flogging in the army.
1861 The next day two bills became a law. One increased the engineers and topographical engineers, each, by 2 lieutenant colonels and 4 majors, gave an extra company to the latter and put promotions of volunteer officers entirely in the hands of the governors. The other increased the pay of the private soldier from $11 to $13 a month.
Such was the mass of legislation enacted in a month. Naturally it could be good only in spots and weak and extravagant p263 in the main. The fact that at first the Congress gave the President 500,000 men with only 24 generals to command them, and was compelled later on to give him no limit in this regard, demonstrates the utter ignorance at the capital of military needs. Of course the election of officers and their appointment by the governors was subversive of discipline and detrimental to success. Hundreds of the original appointees drew their pay without rendering the country anything but harm. Then more money had to be spent in getting rid of these worthless officers. But nothing could repay humanity for the lives such so‑called leaders had lost at Bull Run. Congress seeing its error made the matter worse by prohibiting election and by giving the appointment of officers entirely to the governor. Even so, the pernicious system of voting for officers, once inaugurated in the separate states, continued. The hurry of the legislators is again evidenced in the term of service for the rank and file. With the first 500,000 they made the mistakes of our previous wars in giving the option of a six‑month enlistment or a three-year enlistment as the recruit chose. With the second 500,000 they tried to rectify their error by making the period for the war. It is easy to see that the recruit chose the six‑month period, when three years was long and the duration of the war uncertain. It is easy to see also that when a man could enlist under the laxity of the volunteers he would not undertake the severity of the regular service, so that the increase of the latter establishment languished for some time. Neither did the separate types of organization for volunteer and regular forces add to the facility with which an army should be handled. And then the awful fear of an adequately trained force after the war led the lawmakers, even at this frenzied time, into making it certain that there would be no more than 25,000, no matter what the conditions might be then. It took a war to increase the pay and rations for the volunteer over that which the regular had had to subsist upon under as bad if not worse conditions than civil war sufferings. It took a war to pay just dues to the aged officer of long and faithful service. But in all these enactments there was little or no attempt at unity of control or organization. The heterogeneous character of an army composed of regulars, volunteers p264 and militia with dissimilar units, uniform and equipment was greatly emphasized by these hasty and voluminous laws.
The Confederate States had anticipated the North in its legislation by over two months. Although most of their laws had the same defects as those of the Federals, there were several decided improvements. Mr. Davis was not limited as to the number of volunteers he might accept and he was vested with the exclusive right to commission all officers above the grade of captain. So the Confederacy had not only a single chief for its war activities and a unity of organization, but an earlier start than the Union in training its forces.
At this point the North came to sense the idea that it could not simply hurl animated uniforms at opposing forces with any hope of success. The national murder at Bull Run had caused it to be borne in upon the American mind that possibly there was something in this talk about discipline, training and the soldierly character, that military fitness could not be gained in an hour, and that a lumberman cannot become a captain overnight.
It was at this time that McClellan was launched on his organization of the Army of the Potomac.
1861 Called to Washington after Bull Run he was given command of mixed northern levies for troop of drilling, training and disciplining them so that they might work as a single machine. The incoming regiments went into camp in the vicinity of Washington and slowly settled down to the tedious business of learning self-reliance and precision.
The handicaps were colossal. Hordes of soldiers and officers roamed about their tented cities with zeal and inefficiency. They knew little of maneuver, nothing of guard and outpost duty and worse than nothing of discipline and camp sanitation. Everything had to be taught from the ground up. The trained officer was overtaxed and the untrained overworked. All the industrious ones burned the midnight candle and the others fired the flames of discord and demoralization. The soldier in loose blouses, baggy trousers, ill‑fitting shoes or boots had a hard time to have a soldierly respect for himself and a harder time to be comfortable and efficient.
His musket was old and too often useless. The Springfield p265 arsenal was the only service manufactory of small arms in the United States, and its output only 2,500 a month.10 The Confederates had scooped from the arsenals of the South, thanks to Mr. Floyd, 235,000 muskets, so that they were well armed at the outset. But the Federals were so ill‑provided that even flintlocks were issued. Few rifles found their wish into the hands of the volunteer. The markets of Europe were scoured by Federal agents for any kind of weapon. The result was that they purchased any kind at a high price, and the volunteer suffered accordingly. The calibers under such improvidence were as varied as in the Revolution. Few soldiers could use each other's ammunition. Old English Enfields, German and Belgian smoothbores and American arms of many makes and sizes were distributed to the commands. Some companies had only enough good weapons for the performance of guard duty.
As for rifled cannon, none had been adopted until this time. Although Parrott and Rodman had produced the best and most acceptable types, smoothbore guns of iron and brass and of all calibers were to be found in abundance. Since the government had no foundries of its own, these larger weapons were hurriedly constructed and poorly tested. The consequence was that many burst when they were first fired. One regular field battery had three different types of arms, two 13‑pounders, two 12‑pounders and two 6‑pounders. Throughout the service there were smoothbores varying from 6 to 48 pounders, old mortars, howitzers, and columbiads of brass, cast-iron and wrought-iron. There were Parrott rifled guns throwing 100‑ and 200‑pound projectiles and Rodman guns up to •20 inches in diameter. In a subsequent battle 36 different kinds of balls were picked up from the ground.
There were as many kinds of uniform as arms. The impractical zouave type seemed to be the most usual. But gaudy epaulets and feathers soon gave way to the simple buttoned coat and blunted forage cap of blue. In the Confederate service, the uniform was much the same in style as for the Union, but the gray blouse was almost universally worn. p266 The soft gray felt hat and the folding collar were much in evidence.
1861 Although the Federal militia had in many cases its own state drill, Scott's drill regulations were reprinted in three parts for immediate use. Apparently there were no changes over the regulations issued in 1835. The company drilled in 2 ranks and loaded "in twelve times." With the comparatively few weapons having percussion caps and with the breechloaders, the motions for loading were reduced to nine and less. After the recruit had passed through the "school of the soldier" he was required to be instructed in "target firing." The records of the corporals and privates, who fired from 3 to 5 rounds per day, were kept for the purpose of dividing the soldiers into three classes: "The most excellent marksmen, the next in accuracy and the most indifferent." The largest part of the ammunition was required to be expended on the last class.
A work entitled The United States Infantry Tactics for the Instruction of Infantry of the Line and Light Infantry, together with Bayonet Exercises, elaborated on Scott's Regulations and gave to the infantry needed instruction in the knife and triangular bayonet.
A manual on "Heavy Artillery," as intricate as it was elaborate, showed the juvenile state of our readiness. Guns of every type, irrespective of their peculiarities, were treated of because they had to be used. There were 8‑inch howitzers on 24‑pounder siege carriages; 10‑inch siege mortars, coehorn mortars, 10‑inch seacoast mortars, 13‑inch seacoast mortars, stone mortars, 8‑inch seacoast howitzers on barbette carriages; 10‑inch seacoast howitzers on barbette carriages; 8‑inch columbiads on casemate carriages; 24‑pounder howitzers on flank casemate carriages; 8‑inch columbiads on columbiad carriages; and 10‑inch columbiads on columbiad carriages. Nor were these all the types that were brought into play. All heavy weapons that could be scraped together had to be called into service whether or not they were appropriate. No wonder the cannoneer was required to understand the service of the piece in field artillery before taking up the heavy.
p267 General McClellan's11 work on Regulations and Instructions for the Field Service of the U. S. Cavalry in Time of War dealt with the conduct of marches and the duties of commanders of "the advanced guard, rear guard, flank guard and rear detachments." It treated at great length the subjects of outposts, patrols, videttes, pickets and main guards. Columns and wheelings of twos and fours in open order came into being with this work and added to the facility of movement of cavalry. The terms dragoon and mounted rifles now disappeared. All such mounted troops were called cavalry.
Drill regulations of the several states had individual treatments. The Manual for Light Infantry, by Colonel Ellsworth of the New York Zouaves, is an example. This book adapted the requirements of Hardee's Manual to the minie rifle. It was really an enlargement and modification of both Hardee's and Scott's regulations. Loading was done "in eight times," and practice in firing while kneeling and lying was prescribed. The sword manual was explained in minute detail.
Hardee's Rifle and Infantry Tactics became the regulations for the Confederates. The author prescribed loading to be done "in nine times" and gave methods for the deployment of the battalion as skirmishers. With the Maynard primer, loading was done "in eight times" and for greater rapidity "in four times." Both Hardee's and Scott's regulations caused the company to change direction by marching in file and by wheeling. Turning on a fixed pivot by fours had not yet been inaugurated for infantry.
So McClellan with mixtures of men, clothing, small arms, ammunition, cannon, sizes of regiments, equipage and regulations tried to weld the incoming regulars into a unit. Staffs had to be trained and organized, and the whole conglomerate force to be disciplined and made capable of maneuvering in the face of the enemy. His task reminds one of Washington's situation at the opening of the Revolution. In magnitude it surpassed even the undertaking of the Father of his Country, for about 300,000 troops were now collected in the East. One regiment refused to obey McClellan's orders, but upon being p268 surrounded by a force of regulars it succumbed and fell into line. On the whole, though, the army liked McClellan in spite of the severity he had to use as an organizer and a disciplinarian. He had only 5,000 regulars present to help in the instruction of the raw volunteer. Besides many of their officers had been taken away to fill higher commands and perform staff duties in volunteer brigades and divisions elsewhere. A large number of the junior officers were as green as those in the volunteer regiments because the lieutenants could not be supplied by a Military Academy of less than 220 cadets. However, McClellan parceled out regular batteries to artillery regiments of volunteers and likewise distributed regular infantry and cavalry regiments among the volunteer brigades. But his trained contingent was too small to speed the instruction. Recruiting in regular regiments was so slow that by the end of the year this basic element numbered only 20,334. Further the newly created regiments such as the Sixth Cavalry and Fifth Artillery, because they were numerically larger and had one more battalion than the volunteers, were unlike the volunteer organizations. Thus McClellan had a more or less disintegrated regular personnel whose members had to adjust themselves to new arrangements for themselves while they were trying to instruct a mass of unskilled levies.
At any rate, both the main armies of the Federals and Confederates had to stop and train, while the civilian population for a year languished with the burden of war and while not one decisive stroke could be struck. The army in Virginia, though better armed and organized than the Army of the Potomac, was suffering from the victory of Bull Run. The South now feeling that the North was in full flight, fell into such lassitude that recruits could be had with the greatest difficulty. So the armies watched each other by balloons and scouts for many months until they might be prepared for something effective.
In the camps about Washington and Alexandria, the first hundred thousand were drilling, reviewing, parading, maneuvering, doing guard and picket duty, having target practice and learning to adjust and wear their clothing and accouterments. Some slept on the ground and some had cots, but as a whole they were comfortable. As the winter came on, the soldiers p269 built wooden frames around their tents, collected stoves and learned to take care of themselves in the open. Messes in each company were gradually formed so that all soon learned how to prepare their meager fare. But they were almost to a man restless to do something, unable to understand the meaning of all this training and delay. Of course there was much sickness. Dysentery and typhoid malaria resulted from the recruit's ignorance of the proper care of himself in the field. Measles and other contagious diseases ran their rounds. Yet in this apparently passive state the northern army was actually preparing to make successes possible for later generals.
The remaining actions of the year occurred in the West, where the forces of Lyon and Sigel combated those of McCulloch and Sterling Price. On both sides the character of troops and methods of guerrilla warfare prevented effective measures at this stage of the conflict. The fact that the commander of the Federals was Fremont, who was a better explorer than general, was a preventive of good teamwork. Besides, the three-month men left General Lyon in the moment when success might have been possible. A company of regular infantry, a part of the Fourth Cavalry and two pieces of artillery were all the ballast the northern commanders in Missouri could count upon. Poorly fed, trained, and paid, the remainder fought about as they pleased.
1861 The only action of any account was that of Wilson's Creek where General Lyon was killed after carrying out a plan that should have had better results, had his troops been inclined to discipline. After surprising the Confederates in their camp, General Sigel's men fell into laxity and disorder to such an extent that they were routed. The whole southern force then turned on General Lyon. The disaster which made little or no impression upon the war, was due entirely to raw troops as at Bull Run. Four hundred and eighty-eight lives were squandered in this hotly contested battle.
The unfortunate selection of Fremont12 as a major general by Lincoln was nowhere more evident than in his neglect of Colonel Mulligan at Lexington, Missouri. In addition to the
p270 great blunders Fremont had already committed, he failed to call together his widely scattered troops for the protection of that city. In vain did Mulligan with his 2,700 men call for reënforcements when he saw the city being encompassed by over 20,000 Confederates under Price.
1861 For eight days the little Union force was besieged, the most lackadaisical interest or effort on the part of Fremont being displayed. Finally heat, hunger, thirst and a hot bombardment told the tale of hopelessness. Even though some of the raw men were armed solely with pistols, Mulligan fought on desperately until a portion of the "home guards" hoisted a white flag without orders and fled. The whole garrison fell into the hands of the Confederates. And another inconsequential action had taken place.
In West Virginia Floyd was operating against the Union forces under Tyler.
1861 At Cross Lanes the Federals went into camp without taking any precautions by patrols or scouts, much as if they were in a peaceful country. The consequence was that Floyd fell upon them, killed a few, captured more and dispersed the remainder. Sept. 10
1861 Then Rosecrans met Floyd at Gauley Mountain. Late in the day the Union commander undertook to attack the position, but the troops did not respond well. The columns were mishandled and repulsed. Although Floyd retired next day, no particular advantage had been gained by either side. In the retreat during the darkness of the evening, Rosecrans's new troops by shooting at each other added 30 casualties to the list.
1861 Lee, never, being numerically stronger than the Federals in West Virginia, took the offensive with his 9,000 men. His plans were well laid but too elaborate for his green command. He and Reynolds played a bold game with each other in the mountains near Elk Water as far as movement was concerned. But when it came to actual attacks Lee, on the one hand, was made timid by his knowledge of the poor quality of his troops. On the other hand, Reynolds after attacking Buffalo Hill found out from the weakness exhibited by his untrained men that it would have been better had timidity been a cautionary measure with him. The leading regiment of the Federals fled in such a decided manner at the first discharge of musketry that they disorganized and panicked the regiments in rear.
p271 While these instructive and costly encounters were in process, McClellan was constructing defensive works, fortified lines and intrenched positions about Washington. With utmost attention to detail, he planned and built breastworks which the most unskilled recruits might hold. He organized 4 regiments into a brigade and 3 brigades into a division. The division thus consisted roughly of 10,000 infantry, a regiment of cavalry, 3 batteries of volunteer artillery and 1 battery of regular artillery. Wagons, mules, ordnance and engineer trains, signal supplies, food, clothing, tentage and a dozen other necessities had to be assigned to the different units. The staff officers who were to control this outlay of men and material had to be selected in great quantity and be instructed in their duties. The officers as well as the privates had to be taught the rudiments of movement, fire, supply and administration. The signal corps had to be built up from nothing, because the soldiers of the Civil War were the first in this hemisphere to feel the military value of Morse's invention.
McClellan constantly inspected his ever-growing command. He complimented, encouraged, rebuked and classified his men. He placed the new regiments where they would find comrades and learn more quickly. He slowly built a sure foundation of knowledge and morale.
The Confederates at Manassas and Centreville under Beauregard were similarly training.
1861 Mr. Davis took an active part in organizing the industries of the South so as to get to the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, men, arms, ammunition, horses, and provisions. Everything at the southern seat of government seemed to bend toward aiding the commander in the field. Although the strength of this army was inferior to that of the northern one, the Confederates were skillful in keeping their inadequacy a secret.
When McClellan had about completed his fortifications in the vicinity of Washington, he was embarrassed by an occurrence which did much to destroy the self-reliant spirit he had so successfully built up by his intelligence and personality. He had 7 divisions on the right bank and 4 on the left bank of the Potomac, a total force all told of about 152,000 men and 228 field pieces. Trying to find out about the position of the
p272 Confederates, he ordered General Stone to watch them at Leesburg and to make a demonstration in order to induce them to retreat. Making a cursory reconnaissance, Stone was led into the false assumption that there were no Confederates in the town. He therefore ordered brigade to cross the river and take the enemy's camp.
1861 Accordingly that commander with only 500 landed on the south side of the Potomac and marched on Leesburg. The Confederates, however, with about 3,000 men under Evans, had warily concealed themselves in the town until the Federals should commit themselves. Then they sallied forth and drove back to Ball's Bluff on the river bank. There the Federals were reënforced by the regiment of Colonel Baker,13 a brave but inexperienced officer; 1,900 Federals, huddled in a narrow space and unprovided with means of retreat, were caught in a trap. The untrained soldiers became demoralized. The well-handled Confederates mowed down the cannoneers, until there were few to fire the pieces. A final charge by the Eighth Virginia threw the already retreating Northerners into a wild panic to get across the river. Baker and many more officers were shot down and a number were drowned in attempting to swim the river; 223 were actually killed. Out of the 1,900, only 800 recrossed. And another useless waste of life had thrown the Army of the Potomac into a state of bewilderment over its leaders.
The affair caused McClellan to withdraw his divisions to the north side of the Potomac and to make an overestimate of the Confederate strength — again to protract the strife, the expense, and the mortality.
McClellan by this time had been drawn in close conference with Mr. Lincoln, to the exclusion of Scott, who was still general in chief. Scott's sound advice was no more sought. Accordingly he resigned his office and went into retirement.
1861 In his letter he expressed the highest praises of McClellan, who became the general in chief.
Right here should be drawn a distinction between the presidents of the two sides. Lincoln was the greatest of statesmen p273 and men, but was a novice in the science of arms.14 Davis was a trained soldier both in theory and practice, and had no little experience in statecraft. This difference between the two heads, without aspersions on either one, may explain some of the early catastrophes that befell the North.
The year passed out with training and organizing in the North and South and small encounters from Missouri to Maryland.
1861 The only action of any importance was a meeting engagement near Drainesville.º General McCall sent Ord's brigade to seize the supplies of that town. Stuart with his brigade in the meantime started from a point near Centreville to get some provisions between the lines. The two columns met unexpectedly. The Confederates becoming entangled in the woods fired upon each other; and Ord, by his masterly handling of his batteries, put them to flight with a loss to the southerners of 43 killed.
1862 By the beginning of the next year 200,000 Federals in winter quarters lay along the Potomac. Halleck had about 40,000 in Missouri and Buell about the same number in Kentucky. Buell had replaced Sherman, because the latter had told an inspector from Washington that it would take 60,000 men to subdue Kentucky and 200,000 to subdue the West. At the seat of government Sherman was thought to be crazy. As it turned out, Buell was gradually given the reënforcements that Sherman had asked for, because of necessity.
When Mr. Stanton became Secretary of War, Mr. Lincoln decided that there should be a movement of the forces.
1862 Accordingly there was issued the first of the series of pernicious "War Orders." This one fixed a "general movement of the land and naval forces" for February 22. Such a conception was full of color but absurd to any one of military experience. McClellan realized that battle movements are dependent upon tactical and strategical factors rather than sentimental dates. When he proposed transferring the Army of the Potomac by water so as to attack Richmond, the President vetoed the plan, p274 Jan. 31
1862 and ordered an advance on Manassas Junction. It took a whole month of argument to get any accession to McClellan's idea. In the meantime the great opportunity had passed. According to the Constitution the President was commander in chief, but the Constitution could not in a twinkling make him a trained soldier. Had he been one, he would have upheld the military maximum that it is wise for the commander who is away from the battlefield and troops to give only a general mission to the leader charged with the execution of a plan and thereafter not to heckle him.
But though McClellan was heckled, the fault was not Lincoln's. Both he and his Secretary of War were forced into a position they had not the technical knowledge to fill. Every previous Congress that had sat during peace was to blame. Those bodies had made no distinction between the duties of a political commander in chief and a trained general in chief. They had even refused to give the latter a standing. Nor had they provided training in the nation sufficient to overcome the wildest disorder. There was no chief of staff in the modern understanding of the term and the general in chief functioned with more fear of Washington than of Richmond. A lawyer was by law the chief of captains and a great and good statesman was by act of man suddenly metamorphosed into a general. The Constitution had made it the duty of the lawmakers to raise and support armies, nor did it even hint that those servants of the public weal were to begin to act only after war was long upon us. Those Congresses had failed in the interspaces of peace to give the country physical stamina and direction. The blood of the first two years of the Civil War lies upon them as much as if they had ordered the execution of brave men.
Where the trained officers were far from the seat of the government and therefore less open to its interference, campaigns ran more quickly and smoothly. Grant under the orders of Halleck in the west advanced from Cairo on the center of the Confederate western line of operation. His movement was audacious and unhampered by his own higher command, so that
Feb. 8, 16
1862 he was enabled to capture Forts Henry and Donelson, the key to the Confederate center. As a consequence the Confederates had to withdraw from Missouri, Kentucky and a large part of p275 Tennessee. This was really the first consequential action since Fort Sumter had been fired on a year before, and the first real victory for the Federals.
On the other hand, back along the Potomac "Little Mac," as he was affectionately called by his soldiers, was having a hard time to get started on his peninsular campaign.
1862 Another war order stipulated that a force from the Army of the Potomac, sufficient to make Washington secure, should be left there and that the Potomac from Washington to the Chesapeake should be freed from the enemy's batteries before McClellan's main force should be transferred to its new base. Without consulting McClellan, Lincoln also directed that his army should be organized into four corps and named the commanders. Before the batteries along the Potomac could be silenced, McClellan had to occupy Centreville and Manassas, March 10
1862 which the Confederates had abandoned. Then Mr. Lincoln, listening to advice which shook his confidence in McClellan, March 11
1862 relieved him as general in chief, but did not appoint a successor. Although McClellan was retained as commander of the Army of the Potomac and the Eastern Department, his prestige was destroyed at the beginning of an offensive.
At the same time, Mr. Lincoln united the commands of Halleck, Hunter and Buell in the west as the Department of Mississippi, and designated the troops intervening between the Potomac and the Mississippi as the Mountain Department under General Fremont. All these army commanders were to report directly to the Secretary of War. It now turned out that a President and Secretary of War without military background, not only virtually, but actually, commanded three large armies.
If the year 1861 is that of unpreparedness, the year 1862 is that of mismanagement.
Not so in the South. While the Union was organizing as a loose Confederacy, the Confederacy was organizing as a close Union. The southern government wisely abandoned states' rights for their army shortly after they had begun to fight for states' rights as a general policy. Doing away with war regiments, voluntary enlistments and the applying power of governors for commissioned officers, they vested the control in Mr. Davis. They made it a duty for every able-bodied man between
p276 18 and 35 to serve his country. They were the first to enunciate in this country a proper draft law, a thing which afterwards proved to be the greatest single stroke of America in the World War. Virginia had anticipated the Confederacy in this action, so that 30,000 from that state were early infiltrated into their main southern army against McClellan.
1862 Such enactments gave Mr. Davis the chance to appoint skilled leaders to higher command, to raise his force disproportionately over that of the North and to have a system of replacements whereby recruits would quickly gain the stamina of the older regiments.
On the other hand, the North persisted in the volunteer system, in taking bodily regiments and brigades politically made and in having an old regiment diminished by disease, death and desertion beside a fresh regiment of double the number. Under the state system the governors and local politicians were jealous of their localities to such an extent that men from one state, county or town could not be used in organizations from another. The consequence was that some regiments at the end of the war were as low as 100 men while others had many times that number. The incoming units required a relatively longer time to train, because of the absence of any mixture of veterans. And to cap all, the higher commanders might have a brigade of 1,000 or 2,400 men. The name of a unit meant nothing.
While the South was forging ahead on concentration and unity, McClellan's command was being plucked and dispersed.
1862 Mr. Lincoln ordered Blenker's Division to the Mountain Department, thus detaching 10,000 men from the Army of the Potomac. Then, after promising to take no more, he ordered McDowell's Division at the solicitation of General Wadsworth to stay in front of Washington, and finally forbade McClellan to use General Wool's force of 10,000 at Fortress Monroe, an action which prevented the use of that post as a base.
1862 The Secretary of War then issued a general order which further scattered the forces under General McClellan's control. The portion of Virginia and Maryland, lying between the Mountain Department and the Blue Ridge, constituted the Department of the Shenandoah under General Banks; and that part of Virginia, between the Blue Ridge and the Fredericksburg p277 and Richmond Railroad, constituted the Department of the Rappahannock under General McDowell. The territory of Virginia and Maryland was now separated into five independent departments, to the detriment of unity, control and strength of the main army that was already launched on an offensive against the enemy's principal force.
The Army of the Potomac, now committed to a campaign, had been so hampered by the central government that it was necessary for its leader to spend more anxiety on convincing the powers at home than on engaging the enemy. In spite of all his discouragements
to April 6
1862 McClellan transported in twenty days his entire force to the shores of the Peninsula; 58,000 out of a possible 109,000 were all he could collect and put in motion April 4
1862 when he promptly advanced on Yorktown through the mud and swamps. Then came the well-known actions which pushed back the Confederates: the siege of Yorktown (April 5-May 4), Williamsburg (May 5), West Point (May 7), Hanover Court House (May 27), and Seven Pines (May 31, June 1).
During this time other Federal troops to almost 300,000 were scattered as follows Department of the Rappahannock, 41,000; Department of the Shenandoah, 6,000; Mountain Department, 15,000; Fortress Monroe, 10,000; General Thomas Sherman in South Carolina, 13,000; Army of the Ohio, 95,000; Department of the Missouri, 80,000; and at the National Capitol, 30,000. Such a distribution was not only a deprivation of force sadly needed by McClellan, who was fighting the principal battles, but was an invitation for defeat in detail.
Meanwhile in the west Albert Sidney Johnston was marching with his army, which had been increased by the draft, toward Grant at Pittsburg Landing in the hope of meeting him before Buell could join him.
1862 Surprising the Federals at Shiloh, Johnston threw them back from their own camps. But the struggle was so hot that at the end of the day neither side could advance. Johnston, the general so successful against the Mormons, was at this stage killed. Beauregard, who succeeded him, ordered the fight to cease. April 7
1862 The delay was sufficient for Buell's troops to arrive and help drive the Confederates back the next day. Thus, while the troops in the West, far away p278 from Washington, were being concentrated for a decisive struggle, McClellan's forces were dispersed.
Wounds and sickness by this time had shown Congress, among other things, that there had to be more organized care of the disabled.
1862 Legislation made sound provisions for a medical department that was to have signal benefit during the war. A surgeon-general with rank of brigadier general was to be in charge of the department. Associated with him were an assistant surgeon-general and a medical inspector general who were each to have the rank, pay and emoluments of a colonel of cavalry. Also 10 surgeons, 10 assistant surgeons, 20 medical cadets and as many hospital stewards as deemed necessary by the surgeon-general were added to the service.
Jackson shortly thereafter began his valley campaign along the Shenandoah. The forces of the Federals separated by •over 250 miles, and hampered by voluminous orders and suggestions from chiefs distant from the troops were an easy prey to Jackson working on interior lines.
1862 He first defeated Schenck and Milroy at McDowell, West Virginia. Then he speedily marched toward Luray where he found that Ewell had been ordered away from his command by Lee. May 25
1862 But as soon as he could make known to Lee that he needed Ewell, the order was immediately countermanded. Jackson was thus quickly enabled to attack Banks at Winchester and drive him across the Potomac. May 29
1862 Appearing before Harper's Ferry he brought fear and excitement to the powers at Washington. Moving between the forces of Shields and Fremont, who were not in communication with each other, he retraced his steps and repulsed the superior forces of Fremont at Cross Keys. June 7
1862 Then he turned on Shields and drove him from Port Republic back toward Swift Run Gap. June 9
1862 Thus having rid the Shenandoah of peril to the South he was at liberty to join Lee at Richmond and swell the Confederate army opposed to McClellan. With a force never above 20,000, Jackson had paralyzed Banks and Fremont, had caused fright in the Union Capitol and had been enabled to reënforce Lee, while 200,000 misapplied Federal troops lay in a semicircle about him. During this time he had received but one order — one mission from Lee: that he should attack Banks and drive him across the Potomac. On the other hand, the p279 orders, letters and telegrams, first counseling one thing and then another, from Mr. Stanton and Mr. Lincoln, pursued Banks so fast that he, like other commanders along this disjointed line, was in a maze of conjecture.
1862 One result of this campaign was to see the Federal Mountain and Shenandoah Departments united into the Army of Virginia under Pope. The other was the reënforcements of Confederates under Lee not only by Jackson but by 37,000 other troops from the Carolinas and Georgia. Lee, therefore, took the offensive in the Seven Days' Battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines Mills, Savage Station, White Oaks Swamp and Malvern Hill. Though he was severely repulsed at Malvern Hill and lost more than McClellan, he had released himself from the siege and was enabled to compel the Federals to retreat to the James River. Had McClellan not been deprived of troops for the main issue, there is no telling but that the war might have ended here, and several hundred thousand lives have been saved.
As it was, the separated units of the Union were powerless to do otherwise than reorganize and try again. The forces were scattered under eight independent commanders over a distance of •about 700 miles. While Lee was moving north on a straight line, Burnside was withdrawing his forces from South Carolina to Fortress Monroe, McClellan was preparing to retire from the Peninsula, Grant was reorganizing in West Tennessee, and Buell was rebuilding the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Halleck was then ordered to Washington where he was made general in chief.
1862 No successor being named for his vacancy in the Department of the Tennessee, Grant, Sherman and Rosecrans operated independently.
While Lee was advancing northward as the agressor against greatly superior numbers and the distributed Federals were trying to collect themselves under the fidgeting of Halleck, legislation buried itself in bounty laws and other matters. One hundred dollars bounty, one fourth of which was to be paid upon enlistment, was given to every recruit.
1862 The President was authorized to appoint as many as 40 major generals and 200 brigadier generals. July 11
1862 Three arsenals were to be built at Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Rock Island, p280 Illinois. July 17
1862 Persons of African descent were allowed to be enlisted to any number the President saw fit. And officers, after they had been borne upon the rolls of the Army Register for 45 years or after they became 62 years of age, might retire for active service. However, the President could give them such active duty as they could perform, in which case they were to receive full pay.
Thus while the Confederacy was economically enforcing the draft, we find the Federal government spending $7,500,000 for recruits. Although the Union felt it necessary to take over the telegraph lines, it balked on commandeering the manhood.
1862 Jackson, in the van of Lee's column, struck Banks at Cedar Mountain. Aug. 29, 30
1862 After a good stand by the Federals, the Confederate force was compelled to retire across the Rapidan. Then Pope's army met Lee's at Bull Run, where the Federal troops were again beaten and again compelled to retire to Washington. The flight of the Union forces was almost as disgraceful and rapid as at the first Bull Run the year before. The road was filled with fleeing men. Straggling reached its climax; 7,000 skulkers were arrested by the Sixth Corps in half an hour. There were with Pope's army no more than 500 cavalrymen fit for duty all told, and 1 corps was without its artillery. Although the Union force was superior in numbers, the acts of its various generals lacked that simplicity and cohesion which comes of experience in working together. Pope, Porter, Hooker, and McDowell, with forces suddenly brought from everywhere, had had no chance to work harmoniously as a team, whereas Lee, Jackson, Longstreet, Hill and Early had become an understanding unity of parts.
1862 Nothing now stood in the way of Lee, so that he crossed the Potomac and advanced to Frederick, Maryland.
In the West, Bragg's army had been recruited to 50,000 by the draft. Taking the offensive against the Federals who were losing their one‑year draft men and whose commands were not in a high state of morale,
1862 he crossed the Tennessee River above Chattanooga, marched around Buell, captured 2,100 men at Mumfordsville and returned to Frankfort, Kentucky. There he was joined by Kirby Smith's corps, which had defeated Nelson at Richmond, Kentucky. By this move Bragg had p281 gained many recruits in Kentucky and Tennessee and many supplies and prisoners.
Such action was especially made possible because the Federal army of the Mississippi, which had been collected with great pains, had been split. The reason for such division was the desire on the part of the "advisers" in Washington to take Chattanooga. An army of 100,000 men had been so broken up that neither of its parts could reënforce the other. By such faulty disposition the smaller southern force was not fearful of meeting either fraction.
In the east, the fallacy and ineffectiveness found in thus scattering commands brought the army returned from the Peninsula and Pope's army together. They were both ordered to fall back on Washington. McClellan had to begin to reclaim his united Army of the Potomac from the setbacks of fatal dispersions. The teamwork that had been so skillfully wrought in a united army the year before had been set at naught by the absence of divisions and brigades in separate fields. McClellan's work had in great measure to be done over again.
1862 Cheers throughout the army greeted his appearance to the assembled command. Spirits rose and again the army of the Potomac freshened its hopes.
But the President urged immediate action while General Halleck counseled caution. It was a pity Mr. Lincoln's good judgment had to be tarnished by his advisers. The bugbear of leaving many troops at the capital caught McClellan again between two fires. On the one hand, he was to divide his force and, on the other, attack. In this state he was to beat an enemy whose force and whereabouts were undetermined. His demoralized army had to be reorganized and rejuvenated on the eve of a vital contest. When the captured order, telling of Lee's advance, revealed 5 Confederate divisions on one side of the Potomac and 4 on the other, McClellan's opportunity was blocked by
1862 dismal orders from Washington, which made him keep one foot of his command near the capital. Then Harper's Ferry ignominiously capitulated because of raw troops and their inglorious commander. Lee could now unite his forces. Sept. 16, 17
1862 Nevertheless, McClellan, moving onward, defeated him at Antietam and caused him to retire south across the Potomac. p282 This victory McClellan accomplished in spite of the fact that many of his troops had been only two weeks in the service, that 71,000 men fit for duty had to be chained to Washington and that he was at first able to attack Lee with only 2 divisions. With the slowness of some of his commanders, particularly Burnside, with the limited knowledge of Lee's strength, with the losses of nearly 20,000 men, with the poor discipline of junior officers and soldiers who were not yet over their demoralization from the defeats of the two Bull Runs, he was scarcely in a position to follow up his victory. Whether it required a month to make certain that this command would not do as the previous ones had done — spend itself in barrenness, chagrin and death — is at least conjectural.
While McClellan was then trying to reorganize his army which was in almost as sad need of discipline and supplies as at the being, the army in the west was again active.
1862 Buell15 pushed the Confederates back at Perryville, Kentucky, after a bloody battle. Oct. 30
1862 Grant, who had been assigned the command of the Department of the Tennessee, began the Vicksburg campaign. Nov. 24
1862 Several weeks afterward the Army of the Tennessee gained the important victory of Corinth.
1862 McClellan, meanwhile, as soon as he could make a pontoon bridge at Berlin, and had put his army again in some sort of shape, started the crossing into Virginia. Nov. 2
1862 When he had his main corps safely across, he made plans for striking Culpepper Court House and defeating Longstreet before Jackson could come to the rescue.
At this time McClellan was progressing as rapidly as any one could expect.
1862 But one night while Burnside and he were discussing the situation in McClellan's tent, a messenger from the President arrived bearing a brief order. When McClellan had read it he simply remarked to Burnside, "You command the army." Political influences had been at work. Here at the outset of a campaign which had received approval, the Army of the Potomac had to swap horses in mainstream. Burnside was as much shocked as McClellan, who was ordered to repair to Trenton, New Jersey, and await further orders. Thus p283 McClellan passed out of the Civil War. It is a curious fact that Lee, who had suffered defeat at Antietam, was backed, aided and encouraged without heckling by Mr. Davis, whereas McClellan, who had won a victory, was practically discarded entirely by the administration. The resentment within the northern army was keen, and its spirits accordingly went down.
Burnside, in getting hold of the new reins, found it no light task to move. Changing McClellan's plans of organization, learning the new situation and carrying on the dampening correspondence with Washington, delayed the Army of the Potomac several weeks. Thus a fine opportunity for ending the war was lost through interference by those who were far from the scene of activities.
Finally, after reorganizing his army into 3 grand divisions of 2 corps each, and after waiting for some time for pontoons,
1862 the commander of the Army of the Potomac found himself in the vicinity of Falmouth across the Rappahannock from Fredericksburg. While Burnside was trying to stretch a bridge across the river, Lee was collecting all his forces on the other side and growing stronger each day. It was a long time before the pontoons were set in order. Dec. 13
1862 Finally, in the face of strong defenses thrown up by Lee's entire army, Burnside sent his army across and attacked. But, though the troops were brave to the utmost, and the slaughter was tremendous, the heights of Fredericksburg could not be carried. Under the pressure from the Federal capital, Burnside felt it necessary to keep up the offensive at any cost. Though the daring Hooker implored him not to make a fresh attack, Burnside was obdurate. Only more slaughter, defeat and the retreat back across the river resulted.
Dec. 13, 14
1862 The night after this awful repulse was as bitter for the Army of the Potomac as any force has ever experienced. The frigid cold, the useless loss, the rightful resentment over their mishandling had sunk the soldiers into the utmost gloom. Desertions and absenteeism sprang up almost as in the Revolution. Confidence in Burnside was lost. The men had not been paid for six months. Food and clothing in the midst of winter were lacking. Many at home soon sent packages containing civilian clothing to the men, and the winter sun of the p284 second year of the war went down on fruitless, haphazard endeavors of the Union and on a disintegrating, dispirited army.
Only the passive victory of Murfreesborough lent any alleviation to the situation.
1862 Rosecrans on being attacked at that town had repulsed the Confederates, who finally withdrew.
Congress did not at once do much more for this situation than did the Continental Congress during the dark hours of the Revolution. The central government continued to be the plaything of the war governors.
1863 An act allowing 2 assistant surgeons to a cavalry regiment and regulating the size of a troop or company, was followed by Feb. 7
1863 an authorization for the Governor of Kentucky to raise a force of 20,000 for twelve months. Feb. 9
1863 A commissary general of subsistence was created. Another measure secured the pay, bounty and pensions for the men of the Department of Missouri. Feb. 16
1863 Then came an addition of 30 major generals and 70 brigadier generals to the service in which it was wisely stipulated that they be taken from "those who have been conspicuous for gallant or meritorious conduct in line of duty." March 3
1863 The topographical engineers were abolished as a separate corps and consolidated with the corps of engineers, and 19 officers were added to the ordnance. An officer below field rank had to pass, under a board of three seniors, an examination of proficiency before he could be promoted. The bounty had been so extravagantly abused that a provision of law had to prescribe that a soldier on leaving the service in advance of his termination of enlistment must have a discharge certificate for disability before he could receive the bonus. Then for the first time in our history a signal corps was recognized by law, although its parts had been necessarily organized before. It had grown up under the exigencies of war in three phases of work: the aerial telegraph, the field telegraph and the permanent electric telegraph, the last of which the government had taken over in 1861. Now these three were consolidated into a separate bureau. Then came the best and greatest military legislation of the war on the part of the Union. A draft law made every able-bodied citizen between 20 and 45 years of age liable for military service at the call of the President. But the good effect of this act was lessened by the provision for substitution. A man could be permanently exempt p285 from the draft by the payment of $300 or by furnishing a substitute. The law also held a contradiction when it offered bounties to men who were so plainly told that it was their duty to serve the nation.
1863 At this late date of the war it was found that the tactics were not uniform or adequate. Accordingly, Casey's Infantry Tactics was ordered by the Secretary of War to be followed by regulars, volunteers and militia alike. Its three volumes brought a combination of the best of Scott's and Hardee's works up to date and made certain advances in accordance with the best usage in Europe. It was especially thought necessary in this work
"to fix the formation to that in two ranks; to increase the rapidity of the gait; to increase the intervals between the battalions and brigades; to make, in the evolutions, the brigade the tactical unit; to hold the troops, when in maneuver in presence of the enemy, in closer order and well in hand; and, as a general rule, to insist upon deployment upon the heads of columns, as the safest and most rapid means of forming line of battle."
The direct step, •28 inches in length, was made at the rate of 90 to a minute; the double quick step, •33 inches in length, was made at the rate of 165 to the minute. Loading was done in "eight or nine times" according to the primer used. In firing at will, loading was done in "four times." Loading while standing or lying down was prescribed. For a company to march by the flank, each man faced in the proper direction and formed fours in column by means of the rear rank stepping over and obliquing into the intervals between the front rank files. The method of deploying and marching skirmishers was delineated at length. Although there was no school for the regiment, there was an extensive one for the battalion. The evolutions of the brigade were covered in the third volume.
Although the volunteer uniform had by this time come to consist generally of the short blue coat with lay‑down collar, the blunted forage cap and lighter blue trousers, the regular had his long coat and campaign hat turned up on each side. p286 Both wore waist belts for their cartridge boxes, but in addition the regular soldier had a strap over the left shoulder in much the same manner as the Sam Browne belt is now worn.
In the army of the Potomac Burnside's position had become embarrassing. Some of his higher officers had let Mr. Lincoln know of the dissatisfaction in all ranks and of the danger of the new offensive on which Burnside was launched. But Mr. Lincoln, instead of relieving the army's commander or of silencing his critics, took a middle course — a compromise political course. He sent word to Burnside, as the general was setting his machinery in motion, that he should not renew the campaign without consulting the President. Burnside immediately tendered his resignation, which was not accepted.
While these difficulties were besetting the Union, the absence of politics in the Richmond government had made Lee's army superior to anything in the United States for discipline and cohesion.
1863 Burnside, having made a new plan of campaign, asked the President to approve it or to accept his resignation. Jan. 21, 22
1863 Authorized to carry out his plan, he set to work with avidity, but a heavy rainy season coming on blocked his efforts at crossing the Rappahannock. Then Burnside, unable to bear the criticism against him, asked the President to dismiss Hooker, Brooks, Cochrane and Newton and to take away the commands of Generals Franklin, Smith, Sturgis, Ferrero and Colonel Taylor. Jan. 25
1863 The President then relieved him of the command of the Army of the Potomac and put Hooker in his place.
The army sorely needed reorganization and morale; 2,922 officers and 81,964 men were absent from it either with or without leave. The political connivings of the states to get men home to vote or to be taken care of in the state hospitals, had robbed the forces at the front of a great number. In addition, nearly 23,000 men, whose nine-month and two‑year enlistments would expire in May, had to be used before that time or there would be merely a shadow of an army to oppose the Confederate solidarity. Hooker, therefore, doing away with the grand divisions created by Burnside, began to speed his preparations for the spring.
In the West, at the same time, Grant was preparing in spite p287 of the high water in the Mississippi, to cross over toward Vicksburg. Assembling and preparing his army he had begun to exhibit the skill of fighting things out on his own line. But it must be remembered he was far from Washington.
Almost simultaneously the two northern armies struck. Hooker crossed two small rivers while Grant crossed one large one.
1863 Hooker having marched •45 miles in three days, established himself before Chancellorsville, while Grant with 20,000 men cut loose from his base and placed himself in the enemy's country on the eastern bank of the Mississippi.
Hooker, having sent away his cavalry on a raid and having his forces divided and his flank in the air was attacked by Lee at Chancellorsville. Though "Stonewall" Jackson was killed, this bloody battle was a victory for the South. Hooker had to retire northward.
While the Union army was recovering from this setback, Grant, along the Mississippi, was forging ahead toward Vicksburg. After having taken Port Gibson and Grand Gulf, he was joined by Sherman with 13,000 men.
1863 Driving back a Confederate force from Raymond, Grant then caused Johnston to evacuate Jackson. May 14
1863 Beating Pemberton at Champion's Hill and Black River Ridge, he began the offensive against Vicksburg. May 18
1863 When two assaults proved that the town could not be taken by storm, he settled down to a regular siege.
Meanwhile Lee, having made up his mind to invade Pennsylvania, tried to maneuver Hooker out of position behind the Rappahannock. Masked by Stuart's cavalry, Lee started up the Shenandoah valley. When Hooker tried to place himself so as to defeat Lee's forces in detail, he was stopped by the Secretary of War and Halleck, who were disposed to keep Hooker from commanding in another battle. But strangely they let him still keep command of the forces. Thereafter Hooker almost kept pace with Lee by paralleling the southern leader on his eastern flank. Not long after Lee crossed the Potomac at Shepherdstown and Williamsport, Hooker crossed it toward Frederick. Lee then proceeded toward Cashtown, Pennsylvania, •eight miles west of Gettysburg.
Meantime Hooker sought permission to cross the Blue Ridge in Lee's rear. When his request was refused, he resigned
p288 his command.
1863 The resignation was accepted. Meade, who wanted Reynolds to have the command of the Army of the Potomac, was given that post. Again the councilors in Washington changed leaders at the beginning of an offensive.
Meade pushed on to meet Lee in Pennsylvania. Although the commanders of each side did not desire then to bring a battle,
1863 Longstreet and Reynolds became so entangled at Gettysburg that they induced a general engagement. The three days' fighting, so well known in American history, resulted after Pickett's charge in the defeat of the southern army. On the same day Vicksburg capitulated and Grant marched into the city. These simultaneous blows sounded the death knell of the Confederacy.
Most of the soldiers on both sides could now be said to be trained. There were fewer such on the Federal side, because not so many men had remained continuously with the colors. The following statement of conditions after Gettysburg would scarcely reveal an over amount of discipline:
"Among twenty-four thousand loaded muskets picked up at random on the field of battle, one‑fourth only were properly loaded; twelve thousand contained each a double charge, and the other fourth from three to ten charges; in some there were six balls to a single charge of powder; others contained six cartridges, one on the top of the other without having been opened; a few more, twenty-three complete charges regularly inserted; and finally, in the barrel of a single musket there were found confusedly jumbled together twenty‑two balls, sixty‑two buck-shot, with a proportionate quantity of powder."
But the fury of this battle was unprecedented. Even if the men were frenzied it must be said that both attacker and defender generally kept their faces toward the enemy under fire.
However, depletion in the ranks from many causes required the utmost effort at recruiting in the North. The draft law, with its loopholes, was not proving successful. The call for 100,000 militia for three months, which Mr. Lincoln had made in the middle of June, produced 16,361 men. The draft brought only 35,782, of whom at least 26,000 were substitutes.
p289 The opposition to conscription took hold of the copperhead and the Unionist alike. All sorts of means of evasion were resorted to.
1863 In New York City, when the drafting was begun, the antagonism was unconcealed. July 13
1863 Two days later a great riot broke out which threw the metropolis in terror. Negroes were hanged and at least a thousand casualties occurred. Finally, 10,000 troops had to be used in putting a quietus on the outbreak. In other cities, such as Boston, lesser outrages were committed. Finally when the people saw that they had to submit, the hatred of conscription was not openly displayed. Among other ills, the bounty jumper sprang into being. Having enlisted and obtained his bonus, the recruit would desert, reënlist and obtain more money. Had the North used a draft act when patriotism was on the high tide at the beginning of the war, it is quite probable that some of these evils might have been avoided. But one good result of conscription was the spur it gave to volunteering.
Lee, who was not pursued by the main northern army, moved back to the Potomac. There he was followed by Meade. For the remainder of the year the two eastern antagonists maneuvered in Virginia but produced nothing decisive.
Grant, the victor of Vicksburg, asked to carry on a campaign to Mobile, which would then possibly have accomplished what Sherman later had to do with so much pains.
of Aug. and
Sept. 19, 20
1863 Halleck not only vetoed his plans, but took away from him most of his troops in order to relieve Rosecrans at Chattanooga. But before this reënforcement could be given, Rosecrans was defeated by Bragg at Chickamauga and practically placed in a state of siege at Chattanooga.
1863 Grant, having been called from Mobile to take command of the newly created Military Division of the Mississippi, went north to Cairo. Oct. 16
1863 Thence he proceeded toward Chattanooga.
1863 In the meantime, Mr. Lincoln called for 300,000 volunteers for three years. Though he issued the call, he knew that the draft for these troops would have to be deferred until the Enrollment Act could be revised. Consequently the actual collection of these forces had to be put off until Congress could meet. Thus the North was more than two years behind the South in the efficiency of gaining reënforcements.
1863 When Grant arrived at Chattanooga he began to concentrate his armies; Sherman, Thomas and Hooker brought their troops to join him. Nov. 24, 25
1863 At Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge, Grant assaulted Bragg's fortified positions and drove the enemy out. Then Sheridan completed the success by pursuing and capturing many prisoners. Grant immediately started for Knoxville, where Burnside was being held in check. Dec. 4
1863 His coming forced Longstreet to raise the siege. All the main armies of both sides were now in winter quarters.
When the Federal Congress met, instead of setting to work at once to modify the draft law so as to make it effective,
1863 an appropriation of $23,000,000 was made for the pay of bounties and advance pay. Still at this late date in the war, the Federal government was persisting in wasting its resources because of state influences rather than exerting its authority in the equable enforcement of military service. It was necessary to get reliable men as recruiting agents. Measures to prevent fraud by these enrolling officers and by bounty brokers, were looked upon by the states as "vexatious obstacles." By such an attitude the northern states, mainly to avoid having their men drafted, resorted to the payment of bounties many times in excess of those paid by the Federal government. Millions were wasted in this way. Feb. 24
1864 Finally Congress amended the Enrollment Act by giving the President power to call for such number of men as the "public exigencies may require," to proportion his call on any locality to the number of males liable to military duty and to exempt only those who were physically and mentally unfit in addition to those who had served two years honorably in the war. A fine of $5,000 or five years' imprisonment was imposed for resistance to the draft.
The six‑month and three-year men were now about to depart from the service.
1864 Mr. Lincoln had to make a call for 200,000 in addition to his 300,000 in October, 1863. Of this 500,000, only a little over 300,000 responded.
While the Union was slowly swinging into line on the draft, a marked advance was made in the control of the army.
1864 Grant was called to Washington, given a commission as lieutenant general and placed in supreme command of the armies of the United States. The political mismanagement of the forces was p291 ended. A trained soldier took the control of military operations. Three years of war had taught the Union that skilled military men should run armies just as much as educated doctors should manage hospitals. Three years of war had created on both sides veteran soldiers who were the equals of any army of any time. The sad feature, to those who know that armies can be well trained during peace, is that nothing can ever make up for the tens of thousands of lives cast away in diseased camps and on gory battlefields. From now on in this war, the veteran is going to make every engagement decisive, and the Civil War might be said to begin in 1863.
Since the government of the Republic had forced the actual responsibility for the running of its armies on an untrained leader, it was a fortune for the North that the office was filled by so large a soul and so keen a mind as Lincoln's. In a comparatively short time he had sensed his own incapacity, the futility of changing his commanders and the instability of the notions of his advisers, especially the "Aulic Council." For some time he had divined in that sharp, straight reason, so peculiarly his own, that he must fasten on a single man and leave him to his simple purpose. It is almost unbelievable that through the barbed wire of a dozen daily contradictory hints, advices, warnings, propositions and meddlesome propaganda propelled by politicians and mushroom soldiers alike, his vision cut surely forward over a well-surveyed line. He solved his problem long before he could find the man who would put the solution into action. His supreme honesty had declared that he himself was not the man to lead armies. His exceptional judgment had no waste motion. His head was steady and uncluttered and his heart was true and clean. When he found Grant, he acted quickly in the rebound of a great conception. And by this move the North came out of the shadow.
Grant immediately made plans to assemble all the scattered forces into two main armies. Sherman, who was given the command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, was to move from Chattanooga upon Johnston's army, while Meade with the Army of the Potomac was to advance on Lee and Richmond. Grant accompanied the eastern forces. In addition, he made Sheridan the cavalry leader and placed under him most p292 of the assembled cavalry, which up to this time had been unable to cope with Stuart on account of its disjointed organization.
1864 Mr. Lincoln, meanwhile, called out 200,000 more men for three years and 85,000 militia for one hundred days.
While Meade crossed the Rapidan, Sherman started from Chattanooga.
1864 Meade met Ewell at Wilderness Tavern in a contest and finally forced Lee to fall back within his entrenchments. May 7
1864 While the Army of the Potomac was maneuvering and fighting for position near Spottsylvania Court House, Sherman was driving back at Resaca south of Chattanooga. May 21
1864 Then, the drawn battle of Spottsylvania caused Grant to transfer the eastern army to the North Anna River.
May 25, 26
1864 There Meade's army fought furiously while Sherman's forces defeated Johnston again at New Hope Church. While Grant was maneuvering toward Hanover Court House to turn Lee's flank, May 27
1864 Sherman was repulsed at Kennesaw Mountain. But the superior numbers and resources of the Union now collected en masse were slowly telling. Since both sides to the contest were veteran soldiers, it remained for the one with the larger man power and resources to wear down the smaller one.
1864 While Johnston was retreating across the Chattahoochee before Sherman, Grant began the battle of Cold Harbor. June 3
1864 Two days later the battle was renewed with fierce fighting but no progress. July 15
1864 Then Grant, finding that his attempts to oust the Confederates from their fortified lines were not worth the losses he was sustaining, moved to Petersburg, where he attacked. July 17, 18
1864 His continued heavy assaults only drove the Confederates further into their fortified lines. July 19
1864 After this contraction Grant sat down to a regular siege so as to coop up Lee and his army within Richmond and Petersburg.
During these movements, legislation, though tardy, came forward with some very wise provisions.
1864 A regiment of volunteer engineers for the Army of the Cumberland were authorized to be enlisted for three years or during the war, and to be officered by appointees of the President. June 15
1864 All colored men were allowed the same emoluments upon enlistment as others in the service. Enlistments for the regular army might be made for three years during the Rebellion. July 4
1864 An amendment to the Enrollment p293 Act allowed the President to call out any number of volunteers for one, two or three years with bounties of $100, $200, and $300 respectively.
1864 A call for 500,000 volunteers made by the President brought out 384,882 more men.
While Grant had been drawing his lines closely about Lee, Early along the Shenandoah had attempted to draw Grant off by threatening Washington.
July 5, 6
1864 Crossing the Potomac at Shepherdstown, he moved against Washington. At Monocacy he defeated General Lew Wallace. July 22
1864 Not after having given the capital "a terrible fright" he retired toward Strasburg.
1864 Hood, having been replaced by Johnston in the vicinity of Atlanta, attacked Sherman several times but was finally repulsed, so that he had to withdraw inside his entrenchments.
Early in Virginia attacked and defeated Crook at Kernstown, crossed the Potomac again into Maryland, burned the town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and levied contributions upon other towns.
1864 Then Sheridan was placed in command of the Middle Military Division. Near Harper's Ferry he began collecting and organizing his forces to the number of 43,000.
Sherman, in the meantime, being unable to dislodge Hood from Atlanta by direct methods made a diversion towards Jonesboro •about 26 miles south of the city.
1864 Hood then gave up the capital of Georgia, which was promptly occupied by Sherman.
1864 Sheridan, after some maneuvering against Early, finally won a victory at Winchester. Then following the Confederates, who were inferior numerically, he inflicted a second defeat at Fisher's Hill.
1864 Hood, after having left Atlanta, commenced to threaten Sherman's line of communications by moving back up the route toward Chattanooga. Crossing the Chattahoochee, Hood advanced toward Dallas and then to Resaca, where Sherman had had his first victory over Johnston.
Sheridan in the meantime was putting a quietus on Early, who had had started to rout the Federals at Cedar Creek. Sheridan, coming upon the scene from Winchester, turned the morale of the troops and
1864 gained such an overwhelming victory that Early could not afterwards take the offensive. The Shenandoah p294 Valley was now cleared of Confederates. They could not use it as a base nor as an avenue for raids against the Federals. Sheridan went into winter quarters at Kernstown and Early at Staunton.
Sherman by the threat of Hood, who had destroyed some railway near Dalton, was compelled to detach Thomas to Nashville and Schofield to Knoxville, Tennessee, in order to protect his long line of supplies. Hood's march had been so swift that Sherman could not catch up with him. But when Hood marched across the mountains toward the Tennessee River, Sherman perceived his design. The Federal leader then caused Schofield to take 2 corps to Nashville so as to have the largest possible force collected under Thomas.
1864 Sherman then assembled 60,000 men in Atlanta. Feeling that Thomas could take care of Hood and knowing that he himself must get a new base if he was to join Grant, Nov. 15
1864 he selected Savannah. Then began his famous march to the sea for •300 miles. Dec. 10
1864 When he arrived before Savannah, he invested the city.
1864 In the meantime Hood, although he had received a check when he met Schofield, pushed on toward Nashville. Dec. 2
1864 There he invested the city. But Thomas, who had coolly awaited him, Dec. 15
1864 sallied forth from his intrenchments, attacked him and destroyed his army in the sleet and ice of a very cold battle.
1864 Finally Sherman was able to overcome the resistance of Savannah, which city he entered.
Mr. Lincoln had meanwhile issued a call for 300,000 more men whose services were desired for from one to three years. Only a little over 200,000 responded, because the quotas of some localities were full. However, the necessity for more troops seemed to have passed. In slightly more than a year the President had called out over a million and a half with the result of obtaining 1,249,709.
The winter for the troops around Richmond was exceedingly severe. Although Grant's forces suffered, Lee's tattered and hungry regiments were in a state of torture because of the siege and the dwindling resources of the Southern States. Desertion among the Confederates was thus materially increased.
1865 Sherman, after completing his preparations at his new base p295 in Savannah, started his march northward in order to effect his junction with Grant. Johnston, who had been restored to the command of the remnants of the Confederate army in the Carolinas, could not join Lee because he had not the means of transportation. March 7
1865 He could only await Sherman, who proceeded to cross into North Carolina near Fayetteville.
While these events were in progress, Congress indulged in very minor legislation for the army.
1865 The main four acts gave a chief of staff to the lieutenant general, allowed the payment of bounties to relatives of deceased soldiers, as in the previous extravagant wars, and caused the President to issue a proclamation that deserters returning within sixty days would be pardoned on condition that they would serve out with their organizations their original enlistments. In case a deserter failed to take advantage of this provision he was debarred from citizenship.
Many northern regiments, without means of replacements, were now so reduced that they were mere skeletons of their former selves. Instead of making a provision for the assignment of new recruits, the lawmakers still further lessened these organizations by taking away those officers who were in excess.
Lee, by this time, felt that something desperate had to be done.
1865 He attacked Fort Stedman on the Union right only to have his assault fail. Then Sheridan, who had destroyed or captured most of Early's force at Waynesboro, made the Virginia Central Railroad and the James River Canal useless. March 29
1865 Meanwhile, Grant had to suspend his counterattack on Lee on account of rains. Lee took advantage of the delay by turning like a tiger upon Warren and Sheridan. But when Sheridan was promptly reënforced, April 1
1865 he won the battle of Five Forks. Grant at the same time bombarded Lee's whole line and assaulted the Richmond entrenchments with success. April 2
1865 It was then that Lee withdrew from both Richmond and Petersburg. Grant, occupying both cities, started in pursuit. Night
April 2, 3
1865 Guns, wagons, and prisoners were taken. Sheridan cut off Ewell and captured his command. But even in this hopeless retreat Lee held off Humphreys at Farmville. April 7
1865 The Confederates having left Richmond with only one ration were now in a state of physical weakness. Supplies failed them. Hundreds of men dropped p296 and died of exhaustion. Thousands let their muskets fall because they could not carry them further. The anguish of these men can scarcely be appreciated to‑day except by those who actually experienced those sufferings or similar ones in the World War. When Grant sent a flag of truce to Lee suggesting the "hopelessness of further resistance," the indomitable Confederate leader who had "put out of action more than three" Federals for every man of his own army, replied by asking for terms. April 8
1865 Then while Lee's troops continued their retreat unmolested except for rear guard actions, the two leaders continued to communicate with one another. Finally, just as Sheridan was driving Lee's advance guard from Appomattox Station and Gordon's remnants were being detained by Ord and Griffin, April 9
1865 Lee was sending his flag of truce asking for suspension of hostilities. That very day a conference between the two commanders at the McLean house put an end to the struggle in Virginia and Lee capitulated with the honors of war.
1865 It remained then only for Johnston to surrender to Sherman near Raleigh, for Cobb to surrender to Wilson near Macon and for Kirby Smith to surrender to Canby across the Mississippi and we can close our eyes upon the war of the Confederacy.
The South had organized early. It had taken the utmost advantage of every trained soldier among its adherents. It had quickly concentrated in main armies. It had made the soldier feel at the outset that he was part of a big unit with many other soldiers to help him. It had placed recruits beside old soldiers and had given confidence to the men in ranks. Its government had clung to its leaders in the face of defeat and had not worried them. It had built up morale at every turn.
The North, on the other hand, had displayed the haste and overconfidence of ignorance. Its primary organization was demoralization. It did not seem to know enough to make use of all the skilled soldiers it had. It allowed the uniformed citizen to gain the idea in his first actions that he was alone and that every Confederate weapon was leveled at him. Its administration had pushed excellent leaders into untenable positions and promptly relieved them when they failed. It had by its ignorance of military conduct and by fatal dispersions p297 robbed an army of brave souls of the power it deserved. The result was an inordinate loss of life and public treasure.
The war was dragged out for four years, because training in sufficient force and direction had not been kept alive in the fifties. Dribblings of untrained levies came to the front as late as '64. Bounties as high as $400 per man depleted the treasury. The expiration of short enlistments in the midst of campaign left commanders in the field without an instrument or pushed them hurriedly into actions where life was wasted. Disease and desertion under these conditions were beyond reason. The recruit on arrival in the field ate, marched, slept, and accoutered himself improperly. His ignorance of hygiene made a loss by sickness of 4.7 per thousand in the first year of the war. Where 25 men would be wounded 100 more would be sick. Such loss could largely have been prevented by knowledge and practice during peace. Desertion, too, was easy, where discipline was lax and the confidence in leaders had been vitiated; 199,105 men deserted on the Union side alone.
It is a curious thing that we Americans, who are noted for our foresight in business and economics, are almost stupid in applying prevention to possible national perils.
1 He thus added 9 regiments of infantry, 1 regiment of artillery and 1 regiment of cavalry to the regular army.
2 A battalion of 8 companies of the Second, Third and Eighth Infantry, a battalion of marines, a small detachment of the First and Second Dragoons and 6 batteries of artillery.
3 "Each regiment of infantry shall have 1 colonel, 1 lieutenant colonel, 1 major, 1 adjutant (a lieutenant), 1 quartermaster (a lieutenant), 1 surgeon and 1 assistant surgeon, 1 sergeant major, 1 regimental quartermaster sergeant, 1 regimental commissary sergeant, 1 hospital steward, 2 principal musicians, and 24 musicians for a band, and shall be composed of 10 companies, each company to consist of 1 captain, 1 first lieutenant, 1 second lieutenant, 1 first sergeant, 4 sergeants, 8 completes, 2 musicians, 1 wagoner, and from 64 to 82 privates."
4 Within eight months 310 officers had to be got rid of by such a board.
5 Congress had already sanctioned his previous calls of April 15 and May 3.
6 Each squadron was to contain 2 companies.
7 Having respectively rank and pay of 1 colonel of cavalry, 2 lieutenant colonels, 4 majors and 12 captains.
8 One colonel, 1 lieutenant colonel and 6 second lieutenants.
9 "I, A. B., do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and bear true allegiance to the national government; that I will maintain and defend the sovereignty of the United States paramount to any and all allegiances, sovereignty, or fealty I may owe to any state, county, or country, whatsoever."
"I, –––––––––, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and bear true allegiance to the national government; that I will maintain and defend the sovereignty of the United States paramount to any and all allegiance, sovereignty, or fealty I may owe to any state or country whatsoever; and I will at all times obey the legal orders of my superior officers and the Uniform Code of Military Justice."
10 The cost of manufacturing a rifle was $13.93 and there was but a small proportion on hand.
11 McClellan was the originator of the McClellan saddle which is still in use.
12 Fremont had never had the basic training of a soldier.
13 A former senator and orator.
14 It is interesting to note that Abraham Lincoln was a captain of volunteers who turned out for the Black Hawk War in 1835 and that Lieutenant Jefferson Davis of the regular army administered to him his first oath of allegiance.
p131 The Rev. Dr. Harsha, of Omaha, said: "General Winfield Scott, when a young man, was stationed at Fort Snelling — at that day perhaps the remotest military outpost in the country. When the Black Hawk War was begun some Illinois militia companies proffered their services. Two lieutenants were sent by Scott to Dixon, Ill., to muster the p132new soldiers. One of these lieutenants was a very fascinating young man, of easy manners and affable disposition; the other was equally pleasant but extremely modest. On the morning when the muster was to take place, a tall, gawky, slab-sided, homely young man, dressed in a suit of blue jeans, presented himself to the lieutenants as the captain of the recruits, and was duly sworn in.
"The homely young man was Abraham Lincoln. The bashful lieutenant was he who after fired the first gun from Fort Sumter, Major Anderson. The other lieutenant, who administered the oath, was, in after years, the President of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis."
"Dr. Harsha was in Carter Brothers' book store, in New York City, where he chanced to repeat this story to a friend. An elderly gentleman, who was sitting near by listening, arose and remarked that he was happy to be able to confirm the facts, as he was the chaplain at Fort Snelling at the time, and was fully able to corroborate each statement. A bystander then gave the additional testimony that he had often heard Mr. Lincoln say that the first time that he had ever taken the oath of allegiance to the United States it was administered by Jefferson Davis."
Mr. Davis remembered swearing some p133volunteers, but could not substantiate what seems a probable story.
It will be noted that the first‑hand witnesses are both anonymous; and we read in History of the Upper Mississippi Valley (Minnesota Historical Company, 1881), my italics:
p108 "As there had never been a chaplain at Fort Snelling, the Rev. J. D. Stevens, the missionary at Lake Harriet, preached on Sundays to the Presbyterian church there, recently organized. Writing on January twenty-seventh, 1836, he says …"
To be sure, our anonymous witness may just have been guilty of loose speech, if he was one of the Presbyterian ministers — Rev. Stevens was one of several — filling the functions of an official chaplain without actually being one. The story is getting harder and harder to support, however: we would need to trust a writer in 1890, with something of a vested interest, citing a hearsay report of an anonymous and probably untraceable man at an unknown date; this is very close to an urban legend.
Parenthetically, it will also be noted that putting Lincoln in "blue jeans" in 1835 — thus predating by twenty years the famous Levi-Strauss manufactory — is problematic, although not necessarily false, since the cloth, and clothing made from it, did in fact already exist; and the actual phrase according to the Oxford English Dictionary makes its first appearance in 1823, and precisely in Illinois ("a coat of blue jeans", Illinois Gazette, July 19, 1823).
15 Buell had been relieved by Rosecrans and the name of the Army of the Ohio had been changed to that of the Cumberland (October 3, 4, 1862).
a Fort Yuma is in California. What Ganoe seems to have in mind here is the Yuma Quartermaster Depot, across the Colorado River and thus in Arizona: but it was not established until 1864. It doesn't matter much, though, being mentioned merely as an example of a very remote and isolated post: in his biographical sketch of Gen. Robert Tyler, for example, Gen. Cullum calls it "probably the most uncomfortable of our frontier posts"; and in his sketch of Gen. George H. Thomas, he writes "the disagreeable post of Fort Yuma, Lower California".
b Thruout the chapter, Ganoe will be writing "West Virginia". It's technically an anachronism — instead of the correct "western Virginia" — since the state of West Virginia would only come into being in 1863.
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