The Trops Are Moving~June 1863~the 3rd to the 6th

Soldiers on both sides expect hard fighting to come soon. General Lee begins to move. General Hooker watches warily while President Lincoln encourages him to take action. The 54th Massachusetts has a good reputation although they have not yet fired a shot in combat. Union forces continue to pound Vicksburg but sentiment in Richmond is optimistic. Democrats in the North call for peace and the Democratic governor of New York fails to call for black troops. Gideon Welles laments the mistakes of General Burnside and President Lincoln over-rides the general by allowing the Chicago Times to resume publication. In Europe the struggle continues in Poland. The Russian government expresses its appreciation for support from the United States.

Fernando Wood, Democratic critic of the Lincoln administration

Fernando Wood, Democratic critic of the Lincoln administration


June 3– Wednesday– New York City–At a meeting in Cooper Union, the former mayor and now Congressman Fernando Wood and various anti-war Democrats call for immediate peace with the Confederacy.

Harper's Weekly cartoon depicts Fernando Wood as a minister of the devil

Harper’s Weekly cartoon depicts Fernando Wood as a minister of the devil

June 3– Wednesday– In his diary, Gideon Welles analyzes the current state of affairs. “The arrest of Vallandigham and the order to suppress the circulation of the Chicago Times in his military district issued by General Burnside have created much feeling. It should not be otherwise. The proceedings were arbitrary and injudicious. It gives bad men the right of questions, an advantage of which they avail themselves. Good men, who wish to support the Administration, find it difficult to defend these acts. . . . While I have no sympathy for those who are, in their hearts, as unprincipled traitors as Jefferson Davis, I lament that our military officers should, without absolute necessity, disregard those great principles on which our government and institutions rest.”

June 3– Wednesday– Fredericksburg, Virginia– Confederate General Robert E Lee begins his planned invasion of the North by ordering two divisions of General Longstreet’s corp to move to Culpeper Court House, Virginia.

June 3– Wednesday– off Hilton Head, South Carolina– Union Colonel Robert Gould Shaw writes to his cousin John Forbes. “The 54th has been a success from beginning to end. The drill & discipline are all that anyone could expect. Crowds of people came to our battalion drills & dress parades every afternoon, and we have heard nothing but words of praise & astonishment from friend & foe– from hunkers & fogeys, old and young. The camp was crowded on the day of our banner presentation and the Governor made an excellent speech. Last Thursday, 28 May, we . . . went by rail to Boston. We marched from the Providence Depot . . . to Battery Wharf where we embarked. The streets were crowded, & I have not seen such enthusiasm since the first troops left for the war.”

detail on the memorial honoring trhe 54th Massaachusetts Regiment

detail on the memorial honoring trhe 54th Massaachusetts Regiment

June 3– Wednesday– Port Royal, South Carolina– Union General David Hunter sends a dispatch to Governor Andrew of Massachusetts. “I have the honor to announce that the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts (colored) troops, Colonel Shaw commanding, arrived safely in this harbor this afternoon and have been sent to Port Royal Island. The regiment had an excellent passage, and from the appearance of the men I doubt not that this command will yet win a reputation and place in history deserving the patronage you have given them. . . . The Fifty-fourth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers shall soon be profitably and honorably employed; and I beg that you will send for service in this department the other colored regiment which Colonel Shaw tells me you are now organizing and have in forward preparation.”

June 3– Wednesday– St Helena, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke has a wonderful day. “Had a lovely row to the Kingfisher. Tis a delightful floating palace; everything perfectly ordered and elegant. The officers were all very kind and polite and I enjoyed listening to their explanations about the guns.”

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

June 3– Wednesday– Paris, France– The correspondent for the New York Times writes a dispatch about events in Poland. “This evening news has been received of a number of battles having been fought. Fighting has been going on for some time in all parts of ancient Poland. It is not said that the Poles have won any great victories; but, on the other hand, it does not appear, even from the Russian accounts, that they have suffered any great defeat.”

June 4– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to Secretary of War Stanton, telling him to rescind General Burnside’s order suppressing the Chicago Times. “I have received additional despatches, which, with former ones, induce me to believe we should revoke or suspend the order suspending the Chicago Times; and if you concur in opinion, please have it done.”

June 4– Thursday– Falmouth, Virginia– Receiving reliable information that General Lee’s troops are on the move, Union General Hooker telegraphs President Lincoln that he [Hooker] sees this as an attempt by Lee to get between the Union Army and Washington, D.C.

June 4– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– Government clerk John Jones in his diary: “When Grant leaves Vicksburg, our generals will pursue, and assume the aggressive in more directions than one. Lee has some occult object in view, which must soon be manifest.”

Harper's Weekly depicts General Grant leading the siege of Vicksburg

Harper’s Weekly depicts General Grant leading the siege of Vicksburg

June 4– Thursday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– Union soldier Lucius Barber from Illinois describes siege activity. “General Grant rode along the line and told the boys that he had plenty of ammunition and not to be afraid to use it. This was a signal for firing. Some of the boys expended over two hundred rounds . . . . The rebs lay in their trenches, quiet as mice, not daring to show their heads.”

Union siege works outside of Vicksburg

Union siege works outside of Vicksburg

June 4– Thursday– St Petersburg, Russia– Prince Gorchakov, Russian Foreign Minister, writes to U S Minister Cassius Marcellus Clay to express the Tsar’s thanks for the letter from Secretary of State Seward. “It is to his Majesty a source of sincere satisfaction to see that his persevering efforts to guide with order and without disturbance all the parts of his empire in the way of regular progress are justly appreciated by a nation towards which his Majesty and the Russian people entertain the most friendly sentiments. Such manifestations must strengthen the bonds of mutual sympathy which unite the two countries, and constitute a consummation which too much accords with the aspirations of the Emperor for his Majesty not to look upon it with pleasure. His Majesty has greatly appreciated the firmness with which the government of the United States maintains the principle of non-intervention, the meaning of which in these days is too often perverted; as well as the loyalty with which they refuse to impose upon other states a rule, the violation of which, in respect to themselves, they would not allow.”

June 5– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln sends a message to General Hooker in regard to Confederate General Lee’s current movements. “I have but one idea which I think worth suggesting to you, and that is, in case you find Lee coming to the north of the Rappahannock, I would by no means cross to the south of it. If he should leave a rear force at Fredericksburg, tempting you to fall upon it, it would fight in entrenchments and have you at advantage, and so, man for man, worst you at that point, While his main force would in some way be getting an advantage of you northward. In one word, I would not take any risk of being entangled up on the river like an ox jumped half over a fence and liable to be torn by dogs front and rear without a fair chance to gore one way or to kick the other.” The President also receives his salary for the month of May in the amount of $2,022.34. [This would equal about $38,200 today. President Obama receives $33,333 per month.]

 June 5– Friday– near Falmouth, Virginia– Union soldier Elisha Hunt Rhodes senses movement. “We have spent nearly a month in ordering our camp and now have orders to leave. In fact we are all packed up and some of the troops are moving toward the river. . . . Tomorrow I suppose we shall try to shoot a few Rebels. I wish it was over, for it is worse for a soldier to wait for a battle to begin than it is to do the fighting.”

June 5– Friday– Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, near Falmouth, Virginia– Union General Henry Hunt issues an order that soldiers serving in the artillery during summer campaigning are limited to “1 Blanket, 1 Great Coat, 1 Jacket, 1 Blouse, 1 pr Trowsers [sic], 3 pr Stockings, 2 pr drawers, 2 flannel shirts, 1 pair shoes or boots.” Further, he requires that “All surplus will be turned in at the commencement of a march.”

June 5– Friday– Culpeper Court House, Virginia– At the invitation of Confederate General Jeb Stuart, a large number of area women, along with their eligible daughters, attend a “grand review” of Confederate cavalry and a ball, sponsored by General Stuart and his staff.

typical womens' outfits of the period

typical womens’ outfits of the period

June 6– Saturday– New York City– The New York Times takes to task the governor of the state for declining to enlist black soldiers. “Governor Seymour is reported by one of his party organs to have declined an application by a Committee of colored men, to aid in the organization of a colored regiment for active service. He did this, it is stated, on the ground that ‘he had too much sympathy for the blacks to consent, as the position they must occupy would be one of extreme danger, and would lead to dreadful and unnecessary sacrifice of life.’ If Governor. Seymour is, indeed, so hard pushed that he has at last to fall back upon such a subterfuge, he can’t give in too quickly. Our people will stand any quantity of Negro ‘sojering’ sooner than that their Governor shall cut so ridiculous a figure.” [Horatio Seymour is a Democrat and an out-spoken critic of the Lincoln Administration.]

New York Governor Seymour

New York Governor Seymour

June 6– Saturday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania–A labor paper, Fincher’s Trade Review, begins publication.

June 6– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles to his diary: “Am unhappy over our affairs. The Army of the Potomac is doing but little; I do not learn that much is expected or intended. The failure at Chancellorsville has never been satisfactorily explained. Perhaps it cannot be. Some of the officers say if there had been no whiskey in the army after crossing the Rappahannock we should have had complete success.”

June 6– Saturday– Culpeper Court House, Virginia– Confederate soldier H C Kendrick writes to his mother about the upcoming campaign. “I am still inclined to think, we will invade the enemy’s country this summer, as they will doubtless get a great many more cavalry then they now have, and finally make this war a war of pillaging, plundering, and destroying private citizens’ property. I feel like retaliating in the strictest sense. I don’t think we would do wrong to take horses; burn houses; and commit every depredation possible upon the men of the North. I can’t vindicate the principle of injuring, or insulting the female sex, though they be never so disloyal to our Confederacy and its institutions. Could I ever condescend to the degrading principle of taking from a female’s person, a piece of jewelry? Shall I ever become so thoughtless of my character, or forgetful of my raising? God forbid. But mother, I would not hesitate to take, or burn up any thing belonging to their government or that belonged to a citizen who was loyal to the U.S.”

June 6– Saturday– near Locust Grove, Virginia– Confederate soldier Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara: “We have left many a scar on the face of the once lovely valley of the Rappahannock to tell of our long occupancy – more than 30 miles of fortifications mark the line of the front and then inner works, of all descriptions, attest the vigor of our intention to use every means in our power to defend our country – wide forests have been swept away, many an old mansion has fallen a victim to the flames or been torn away piece meal by the destroying hand of war – whose business is, surely, ‘devastation & destruction’– O! that this might come to an end.”

June 6– Saturday– Beaufort, South Carolina– Colonel Robert Gould Shaw writes to his mother. “Colonel Higginson came over to see us, day before yesterday. I never saw any one who put his whole soul into his work as he does. I was very much impressed with his open-heartedness & purity of character. He is encamped about 10 miles from here. The bush-whacker Montgomery is a strange compound. He allows no swearing or drinking in his regiment & is anti tobacco. But he burns & destroys wherever he goes with great gusto, & looks as if he had quite a taste for hanging people &c throat-cutting whenever a suitable subject offers. All our stores are very acceptable now, and the Hungarian wine Father sent us is excellent. General Hunter doesn’t impress me as being a great man. There is some talk of his being relieved. If we could have Fremont in his place, wouldn’t it be fine?” [Montgomery is Colonel James Montgomery, age 48, from Ohio, and during the conflict in Kansas in the 1850’s, he committed atrocities against pro-slavery people. At this time he commands the 2nd South Carolina Regiment of black soldiers, most of them ex-slaves.]

Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Thomas Wentworth Higginson

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