Fight Him When Opportunity Offers~June 1863~the 8th to the 11th

Fight Him When Opportunity Offers~June 1863~the 8th to the 11th

Soldiers and civilians alike begin to anticipate another Confederate attempt to invade the North. Black soldiers earn the increasing respect of white officers. Unfortunately the soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts are ordered to take part in the burning of Darien, Georgia, an undefended town of no military significance. Ramifications will be numerous. The presence of Federal troops in the South brings a defacto end to slavery in many places.

President Lincoln attempts to move the increasingly hesitant General Hooker to take action. The self-confident General Stuart is surprised by Federal cavalry and the two sides fight the most intense cavalry battle in North America. Stuart wins a tactical victory but now faces an increasingly more confident force in blue uniforms. Walt Whitman wonders about raising money to fund his nursing efforts.

Elections take place in Canada and in Belgium. Despite the war immigrants, such as Mormons from Great Britain, continue to come to the United States from Europe.

June 8– Monday– Brunswick, Georgia; Camp Cole, Missouri; Fort Scott, Kansas; Triune, Tennessee– Skirmishes and raids add to the casualty lists.

June 8– Monday– on the ship Amazon off the Isle of Wight– William Bramall of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) writes to George Q. Cannon about the group of immigrants he is accompanying to the United States. “All feel well; the music from the brass band, songs and hymns succeed each other to cheer the hearts of the Saints and enliven the voyage, and the captain has often expressed his satisfaction with the people. Elders Sloan and Palmer have been pretty well. I have been better than I ever was before at sea; I have been able to move round most all the time. We hope to start from here soon. . . . May God bless you and prosper you in the discharge of every duty; and while we pray for you and your associates, we do not forget ourselves while on our journey over the sea and plains, that the God of Israel will prosper and bless us on our way to Zion.”

Salt Lake City, Utah-c.1890

Salt Lake City, Utah-c.1890

June 9– Tuesday– New York City– The New York Times prints a report from General Banks about the conduct of black soldiers in the siege of Port Hudson. “They answered every expectation. Their conduct was heroic No troops could be more determined or more daring. They made, during the day, three charges upon the batteries of the enemy, suffering very heavy losses, and holding their position at nightfall with the other troops on the right of our line. The highest commendation is bestowed upon them by all the officers in command on the right. Whatever doubt may have existed before as to the efficiency of organizations of this character, the history of this day proves conclusively to those who were in a condition to observe the conduct of these regiments, that the Government will find in this class of troops effective supporters and defenders. The severe test to which they were subjected, and the determined manner in which they encountered the enemy, leave upon my mind no doubt of their ultimate success.”

detail on the memorial honoring trhe 54th Massaachusetts Regiment

detail on the memorial honoring trhe 54th Massaachusetts Regiment

June 9– Tuesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Alexander McClure writes to Eli Slifer about possible Confederate invasion. “If the Rebels come they will come much stronger than before, and I doubt not with a much more destructive intent. Our raiders south have been wantonly destructive with private property and the lex talionis [literally, “law of retaliation”– the concept of striking back to match the degree and kind of injury] may come back upon us. We will at first arrange for communication with a telegraphic instrument at Greencastle and a few good scouts on the view, wemay avoid surprise, and thus save much valuable property. In connexion [sic] with the Hagerstown, Greencastle, Mercersburg, Williamsport and Hancock people, we can I think arrange a perfect police system, and be able at this point to have timely notice of any movement.”

June 9– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman writes to his mother. “Mother, I think something of commencing a series of lectures & readings &c through different cities of the north, to supply myself with funds for my Hospital & Soldiers visits– as I do not like to be beholden to the medium of others– I need a pretty large supply of money &c. to do the good I would like to & the work grows upon me, & fascinates me– it is the most affecting thing you ever see, the lots of poor sick & wounded young men that depend so much, in one ward or another, upon my petting or soothing or feeding, sitting by them & feeding them their dinner or supper, some are quite helpless– some wounded in both arms– or giving some trifle (for a novelty or a change, it isn’t for the value of it,) or stopping a little while with them– nobody will do but me. So, mother, I feel as though I would like to inaugurate a plan by which I could raise means on my own hook, & perhaps quite plenty too.”

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

June 9– Tuesday– Culpeper Court House, Virginia– Confederate soldier Henry Dedrick writes home to his wife, Mary. “We have been permitted to stay here today. We got here yesterday about twelveo’clock and drawed three days rations and was to be ready to start this morning by day light, and then we got orders to stay here today and cook another days rations. I don’t know where we will go. . . .I would not be surprised if we don’t be in Maryland before ten days. Some thinks that we will go over in the valley. We are on the road that leads to New Market.”

June 9– Tuesday– Brandy Station, Virginia– At dawn Union cavalry under General Alfred Pleasonton launches a surprise attack on General Jeb Stuart’s cavalry. After an all-day fight in which fortunes change repeatedly, the Federals withdraw without discovering Lee’s infantry camped near Culpeper Court House. In the largest cavalry battle ever fought on U S soil, Union cavalry loses the hard fight to Confederate Stuart and his troopers. Federal losses are 866, dead, wounded and missing; Confederate losses total 523, dead, wounded and missing. Among the rebel casualties is Robert E. Lee’s son, Rooney, who was seriously wounded in the thigh. Hundreds of dead and maimed horses remain on the battlefield at day’s end.

Battle of Brandy Station

Battle of Brandy Station

June 9– Tuesday– Brussels, Belgium– General elections are held throughout the country, resulting in a victory for the Liberal Party, which wins 59 of the 116 seats in the Chamber of Representatives and 33 of the 58 seats in the Senate. Voter turnout is 80.0%, although only 52,519 people in total are eligible to vote.

June 10– Wednesday– New York City– The New York Times evaluates what’s happening with slavery. “Wherever the Union armies have marched, the death-knell of Slavery is sounded. “At Norfolk, on the Peninsula, in Northern Virginia, at Memphis, Nashville and New-Orleans, in all of Tennessee, at any time visited or occupied by the Union armies, Slavery is practically extinct. Not even the most strenuous slaveholder refuses to admit that so utter is the ‘demoralization’ (another word for insubordination) of the slaves in the districts named, that no power can ever restore the relations that previously existed. And whenever a new region of slave territory is penetrated, the first sign to the outward world is the effervescence and ebullition of this same evaporating institution.” the piece goes on to say that within the last few weeks in Louisiana about 6,000 slaves have sought safety within the union lines.

runaway slaves entering Union lines

runaway slaves entering Union lines

June 10– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln telegraphs General Hooker. “I think Lee’s army, and not Richmond, is your true objective point. If he comes towards the upper Potomac, follow on his flank, and on the inside track, shortening your lines while he lengthens his. Fight him, too, when opportunity offers. If he stay where he is, fret him and fret him.”

June 10– Wednesday– Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana– Union Captain M M Miller, a white man who commands black soldiers of the 9th Louisiana Colored Regiment, writes to his aunt in Illinois about his soldiers’ performance in the recent battle. “Not one of them offered to leave his place until ordered to fall back; in fact, very few ever did fall back. I went down to the hospital three miles today to see the wounded. Nine of them were there, two having died of their wounds. A boy I had cooking for me came and begged a gun when the rebels were advancing, and took his place with the company, and when we retook the breast-works I found him badly wounded with one gunshot and two bayonet wounds. A new recruit I had issued a gun to the day before the fight was found dead, with a firm grasp on his gun, the bayonet of which was broken in three pieces So they fought and died defending the cause that we revere. They met death coolly, bravely; not rashly did they expose themselves, but all were steady and obedient to orders.” He explains that he is slightly wounded but alive because of his men. “A rebel took deliberate [aim] at me with both barrels of his gun, and the bullets passed so close to me that the powder that remained on them burned my cheek. Three of my men who saw him aim and fire thought that he wounded me each fire. One of them was killed by my side, and he fell on me, covering my clothes with his blood, and before the rebel could fire again I blew his brains out with my gun. It was a horrible fight, the worst I was ever engaged in, not even excepting Shiloh.”

Battle of Milliken's Bend

Battle of Milliken’s Bend

June 11– Thursday– The New York Times reports that based on early voting in Canada the Conservatives are expected to return to power. [The forecast is wrong.}

June 11– Thursday– New York City– This evening at Dr Cheever’s Church of the Puritans a large crowd gathers to hear a report from a committee of citizens who presented a petition to President Lincoln to create a “legion” of black soldiers to be commanded by General Fremont.

June 11– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln sends congratulations to Jesus Jimenez on election to the presidency of Republic of Costa Rica.

June 11– Thursday– Columbus, Ohio– The Peace Democrats nominate the absent Clement Vallandigham for governor of the state.

June 11– Thursday– Bank’s Ford, Virginia– Union soldier H W Freedley writes to a young woman of his acquaintance, Marie Hiester, and to whom he is attracted. “We have been here . . . guarding the Ford to prevent the Rebs making a raid into my Maryland-and frightening the politicians in Washington. We are under orders again to move and may leave to-night where to or when is not yet divulged. Your kind letter of the 6th inst was received yesterday. My letters do not reach Washington until the evening of the second day. I fear that many of them are delayed as the mail is frequently detained for prudential reasons.”

June 11– Thursday– Alexandria, Tennessee– In another effort to relieve Union pressure on Vicksburg, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan leaves town at the head of 2460 cavalrymen on a raid northward which will take him through parts of Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

General John Hunt Morgan

General John Hunt Morgan

June 11– Thursday– Darien, Georgia– Under orders from General Hunter, Colonel Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts accompany Colonel James Montgomery and the 2nd South Carolina on a raid down the coast to this small undefended town which has no military significance. At Montgomery’s orders, the town is looted and burned. Shaw restrains most of his men from unnecessary violence; however, Montgomery encourages his men and himself leads setting fire to buildings.

June 11– Thursday– Port Hudson, Louisiana– Union forces tighten their hold by seizing several Confederate outposts.

one of the Union gunboats attacking Port Hudson

one of the Union gunboats attacking Port Hudson

June 11– Thursday– Triune, Tennessee; Corinth, Mississippi; Scottsville, Kentucky; Jacksonport, Arkansas; Little Folly Island, South Carolina– Skirmishes and raids add to the death toll.

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