The News is Very Exciting but Not Entirely Unexpected~June 1863~the22nd to the 24th

The News Is Very Exciting but Not Entirely Unexpected– Colonel Robert Gould Shaw

General Lee appears headed for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the state capital. Confederate soldiers and Pennsylvania citizens regard each other with mutual disdain and distrust. Many people, North and South, worry about big battles coming. A black soldier in the 54th Massachusetts speaks his mind. George Templeton Strong praises black soldiers. General Grant’s forces pound Vicksburg relentlessly. Among Grant’s medical units an uppity, tough, determined widow gets things done, her way. In Tennessee Union forces launch a major offensive. A Southern aristocratic woman meets mountain folk.

June 22– Monday– near Ashby Gap, Virginia– Union soldier H. W. Freedley writes a quick note to Doctor Joseph Hiester at home in Pennsylvania. “Please answer as I have had much anxiously [sic] on account of yourself and family. I sincerely hope the rebels have not molested you in your quiet home at Milmont. Remember me most kindly to your family.” Freedley is romantically interested in the Doctor’s daughter, Maria.

June 22– Monday– St Simon’s Island, Georgia– James Gooding, a black man serving in the 54th Massachusetts, writes to the editor of the New Bedford Mercury about the criticism of the burning of Darien which has appeared in the Copperhead northern papers. “But turn the tables– say the troops here should be captured by the rebels, (of course they would hang them every one), the copperhead press would treat that as an unimportant item, or some of them would say probably, ‘we are glad of it’ that is a cheaper way of getting rid of them, than expending money to send them to President Lincoln’s Paradise in Central America, or to colonize them at Timbuctoo or Sahara. But we all know they must say something, or people will think they are losing ground; they must keep up the appearance of knowing considerable, if not more [information].”

June 22– Monday– McMinnville, Tennessee- Lucy Virginia Smith French, age 38, novelist and poet, describes an educational experience. “Yesterday we rode out to see some of the mountain people.’ I do say I never imagined people could live so. One house was clean—but everything seemedto be dropped just where they were done using it, and left there until they wanted to use it again. Somehow I never conceived of anything so wholly untidy and uncomfortable. . . Mrs. Armfield said these people were the ‘aristocracy’ of the mountain and she took me to see them as a curiosity. The strangest thing to me was that they showed not the slightest embarrassment, but appeared to think themselves all right, and just a good as anybody living. At Walker’s we found a young soldier home on furlough and it was astonishing to see how the service had improved him, and how much better he appeared than his surroundings.”

Lucy Virginia French Smith

Lucy Virginia French Smith

June 22– Monday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– Union forces engage in another day of heavy bombardment. Many residents of the city have abandoned their homes and are living in caves to seek shelter from the constant shelling.

damage at Vicksburg

damage at Vicksburg

June 23– Tuesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Rachel Cormany writes of the day’s activities. “It was not long until the rebs really made their appearance–I do not think that they are Cavalry but mounted infantry–they most of them have nothing but a musket to fight with. They rode in as leisurely as you please each one having his hand on the trigger though, to fire any minute–now I judge we are shut out again for awhile–I just wonder what they want this time. They are part of those that were here last week. P.M. just ate a piece & fed my baby–both of us took a good nap after our walk. Evening–The Rebs have been cutting up high. Sawed down telegraph poles, destroyed the scotland bridge– again took possession of the warehouses & were dealing out flour by the barrel &molasses by the bucket ful– They made people take them bread–meat–&c to eat–Some dumb fools carried them jellies & the like–Not a thing went from this place. Three cannon went through when they came–but just now they took them back. wonder what that means.”

Chambersburg City Hall

Chambersburg City Hall

June 23– Tuesday– Murfreesboro, Tennessee– Union General William Rosecrans, after much encouragement from President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton, launches a major campaign against the Confederates in Middle Tennessee. The campaign, which will last through the 7th of July, will be known as the Tullahoma Campaign and will prevent Confederate General Braxton Bragg from trying to relieve besieged Vicksburg.

General William Rosecrans

General William Rosecrans

June 23– Tuesday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– Cloaked with authority by General Grant, Mary Ann Bickerdyke, a widow, a month away from her 46th birthday, is directing nursing services for sick and injured Union soldiers. When several surgeons and staff officers complain to General Sherman about the bossy and demanding woman who disregards regulations and gets things done, Sherman assures them that he can do nothing about her, saying, “She ranks me.” [Bickerdyke has been serving since the first summer of the war. When her methods were challenged after the Battle of Shiloh last year, she responded, “I get my Authority from the Lord God Almighty; have you anything that ranks higher?”]

Mary Ann Bickerdyke, Mother to the Boys in Blue

Mary Ann Bickerdyke, Mother to the Boys in Blue

June 24– Wednesday– New York City– George Templeton Strong writes: “Negro regiments seem to stand fire and fight well, an immense point in our favor. It is certainly natural they should exert themselves to avoid being made prisoners! On the whole, things look well, if we can but take Vicksburg and Port Hudson.”

George Templeton Strong whose diaries provide much information about Northern life during the Civil War

George Templeton Strong whose diaries provide much information about Northern life during the Civil War

June 24– Wednesday– Franklin County, Pennsylvania– Amos Stouffer records the day’s events. “A fine day. The Rebs came to Shippensburg to day. They are in strong force-Cavalry, Infantry & Artillery-the whole under the command of Lee, Commander in Chief of the Rebel Army. This is no mere raid. It is a formidable invasion. Self at the mountain with a farmer by the name of Pie.”

June 24– Wednesday– near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Confederate soldier Jedediah Hotchkiss writes to his wife Sara about being in the North. “For the first time in the war crossed the Pennsylvania line & invaded the old ‘Keystone’, frightening the Dutch out of their senses, they confidently expected us to burn every thing and lay waste the country and they thought we would be justified in so doing – but when they found us doing all things decently & not disturbing them except to supply our army with every thing it needed to eat &c &c and furnish any number of big horses & wagons, all sorts of supplies, leather saddles &c all called for by a polite officer, & no pillaging, they were rejoiced to get off so well & set before our men any quantity of the good things they have so abundantly & General Ewell says we will all get fat here.”

June 24– Wednesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Rachel Cormany describes Confederate looting in her town. “It is thought by many that a desperate battle will be fought at Harrisburg. This afternoon the Rebs are plundering the stores. some of our merchants will be almost if not entirely ruined. . . . All is quiet this evening so I shall retire after having committed myself to my maker.”

Rachel Cormany

Rachel Cormany

June 24– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln telegraphs General Darius Couch at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. “Have you any reports of the enemy moving into Pennsylvania? and if any, what?”

June 24– Wednesday– St Simon’s Island, Georgia– Colonel Robert Gould Shaw writes to his father. “Yours of the 9th came to hand last evening. At the same time we received news of the Rebel incursion into the Northern [states] and orders to embark at once for Port Royal. We are now waiting for a transport, which will hold the regiment. The news from the North is very exciting but not entirely unexpected, for Morse wrote me, that Lee wouldn’t leave the Potomac army quiet very long. Then my theory has always been that the North must feel the war much more than they have, before it is ended. I don’t know why we are ordered to return to Beaufort, unless the troops there are going North, or another attack is to be made on Charleston or Savannah.”

Robert Gould Shaw~"Blue-eyed Child of Fortune"

Robert Gould Shaw~”Blue-eyed Child of Fortune”

June 24– Wednesday– Rover, Tennessee; Unionville, Tennessee; Middleton. Tennessee; Bradyville. Tennessee; Christiana, Tennessee; and Big Spring Branch, Tennessee– As Union General Rosecrans begins his campaign, Federal troops engage Confederate forces in a series of skirmishes and fire-fights.

June 24– Wednesday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– Union artillery bombards the city from sunrise until well after dark. Food inside the besieged city grows more scarce. Outside, in the siege-works and beyond, Union General Grant receives more men and supplies.

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