Great Apprehension Prevails~June 1863~the 28th & 29th

Great Apprehension Prevails– Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles

The clock is ticking. Vicksburg and Port Hudson running low on food and supplies. Pennsylvania wondering where General Lee will attack. Federal forces increasing the pace of their pursuit, causing Lee to change direction and concentrate at the town of Gettysburg instead of pressing toward Harrisburg, the state capital. There seems an overall satisfaction with General Meade as the new Union commander. Soldiers in bluer uniforms and in grey uniforms think about marriage, family and homes after the war. President Lincoln answers critics who place party politics over the welfare of nation.

June 28– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles describes the current crisis. “The President convened the Cabinet at 10 A.M. and submitted his reply to the Vallandigham committee. Save giving too much notoriety and con- sequence to a graceless traitor who loves notoriety and office, and making the factious party men who are using him for the meanest purposes that could influence men in such a crisis conspicuous, the letter is well enough, and well conceived. After disposing of this subject, the President drew from his pocket a telegram from General Hooker asking to be relieved. The President said he had, for several days as the conflict became imminent, observed in Hooker the same failings that were witnessed in McClellan after the Battle of Antietam, a want of alacrity to obey, and a greedy call for more troops which could not, and ought not to be taken from other points. . . . Some discussion followed in regard to a successor. The names of Meade, Sedgwick, and Couch were introduced. I soon saw this review of names was merely a feeler to get an expression of opinion– a committal– or to make it appear that all were consulted. It shortly became obvious, however, that the matter had already been settled, and the President finally remarked he supposed General Halleck had issued the orders. He asked Stanton if it was not so. Stanton replied affirmatively, that Hooker had been ordered to Baltimore and Meade to succeed him. We were consulted after the fact. . . . Instead of being disturbed, like Chase, I experienced a feeling of relief, and only regretted that Hooker, who I think has good parts, but is said to be intemperate at times, had not been relieved immediately after the Battle of Chancellorsville. No explanation has ever been made of the sudden paralysis which befell the army at that time.”


Chamersburg, Pennsylvania

Chamersburg, Pennsylvania

June 28– Sunday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Colonel Robert Gould Shaw to his wife Annie: “Shall we ever have a home of our own, do you suppose? I can’t help looking forward to that time, though I should not; for when there is so much for every man in the country to do, we ought hardly to long for ease and comfort. I wish I could do my share; i.e. that I had as much talent and ability to give to it as I want. Good bye for the present, my dearest. Your faithful and affectionate Husband.”


depiction of Colonel Shaw & the 54th Massachusetts

depiction of Colonel Shaw & the 54th Massachusetts

June 28– Sunday– Donaldsonville, Louisiana– Well before sunrise Confederate forces launch a surprise attack against Federal troops at Fort Butler. Unfortunately for the attackers, once daylight comes they are caught in a crossfire between the fort’s defenders and a Union gunboat on the Mississippi River. The Union defenders suffer a total of 23 dead, wounded and missing while the Confederate attackers lose a total of 301 casualties.

June 28– Sunday– Port Hudson, Louisiana– This is the 36th day of the siege by Federal forces. Inside, Confederates are running low on food, reduced to killing mules and rats for meat.

June 28– Sunday– Vicksburg, Mississippi– Confederate General Pemberton, in charge of defending the city, receives an anonymous warning that much of the garrison is close to mutiny over the lack of proper rations.

June 28– Sunday– Messersmith’s Woods, Franklin County, Pennsylvania– Late at night Confederate General Lee learns that Federal forces have crossed the Potomac River in large numbers and are closer than previously thought. Lee decides not to move against the state capital at Harrisburg and instead orders Generals Longstreet, Hill and Ewell to advance to Gettysburg and Cashtown, Pennsylvania.

June 29– Monday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Confederate soldier Iowa Royster writes to his mother about his love life. “On my way to join my reg’t. I came by Winchester and saw Kate. She had rec’d. a letter from you date in Jan. and was preparing to answer it. She and I are engaged. Tell my Papa that I don’t know much her father is worth. Don’t know whether he is worth anything or not – couldn’t come within ten thousand dollars of the amount to save my life. All of his good instructions lost! Well, ‘a fool will have his own way.’ Quick courtship wasn’t it? A weeks acquaintance last September, and two days in June. I congratulate myself on promptness. Great qualities in a solider. When I left Winchester Kate gave me a bundle of provisions, a paper of candy, raisins, etc., some hankerchiefs [sic], trimmed my hat and did a great many things to captivate me.”

June 29– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– A reporter for the New York Times sends a message to his newspaper. “Business is almost entirely suspended in all its departments. The receipts of produce by the Pennsylvania Railroad have ceased. There was no meeting of the Board of Brokers this forenoon, and there is quite a panic among the outside dealers. The prices of Stocks have declined 5 per cent. The Corn Exchange raised five companies this morning. The coal dealers held a meeting this forenoon, and resolved to close their collieries till the crisis has passed, and to enable the miners to volunteer. The merchants have resolved to raise a million of dollars. All the stores are to be closed, and the men employed in them forwarded for the defense of the city and the State. The men who leave their employment are to be paid their usual salary during their absence. Telegraphic communication between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh is still perfect. There is no truth in the rumored capture of Harrisburg by the rebels.” Mayor Henry issues a proclamation: “You number more than fifty thousand able-bodied men– the means to arm and equip yourselves are at hand. Close your manufactories [sic], workshops and stores, before the stern necessity for common safety makes it obligatory. Assemble yourselves forthwith for organization and drill.”

June 29– Monday– Frederick, Maryland– Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin at the head of his 20th Maine Regiment is part of the large Union force moving through town. They feel relieved to be met by cheering and enthusiastic citizens whose homes and stores are decorated with flags and bunting, a stark contrast to the Virginia towns through which they have passed in the last few days.


Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

June 29– Monday– Washington, D. C.– Gideon Welles describes the worried state of things. “Great apprehension prevails. The change of commanders is thus far well received. No regret is expressed that Hooker has been relieved. This is because of the rumor of his habits, the reputation that he is intemperate, for his military reputation is higher than that of his successor. Meade has not so much character as such a command requires. He is, however, kindly favored; will be well supported, have the best wishes of all, but does not inspire immediate confidence. A little time may improve this, and give him name and fame.”

President Lincoln with his two private secretaries

President Lincoln with his two private secretaries

June 29– Monday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln responds to members of the Democratic Party from Ohio. “With all this before their eyes, the convention you represent have nominated Mr. Vallandigham for governor of Ohio, and both they and you have declared the purpose to sustain the national Union by all constitutional means. But of course they and you in common reserve to yourselves to decide what are constitutional means; and . . . you omit to state or intimate that in your opinion an army is a constitutional means of saving the Union against a rebellion, or even to intimate that you are conscious of an existing rebellion being in progress with the avowed object of destroying that very Union. At the same time your nominee for governor, in whose behalf you appeal, is known to you and to the world to declare against the use of an army to suppress the rebellion. Your own attitude, therefore, encourages desertion, resistance to the draft, and the like, because it teaches those who incline to desert and to escape the draft to believe it is your purpose to protect them, andto hope that you will become strong enough to do so.”

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