Doing All the Mischief They Can~June 30th, 1863

Doing All the Mischief They Can– Rachel Cormany, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Rumors and worries abound, South and North. Cavalry battles in Pennsylvania. Union General Buford decides to take a stand at Gettysburg. Federal forces make headway in Tennessee. A British visitor writes an impressive word picture of General Lee. Poet Walt Whitman describes President Lincoln in tones of admiration which will echo in his poems after Lincoln’s assassination. An English politician urges recognition of the Confederacy. The revolution continues in Poland. The year reaches its mid point~much of the worst comes with sunrise tomorrow.

June 30– Tuesday– New York City– The New York Times updates its readers on the complex situation in Poland. “On the 10th inst. Cyaschowski gained a brilliant victory over the Russians at Konski, in the government of Sandomir. Two Russian companies were completely destroyed. On the same day the Poles defeated the Russians at Ignacew and Kalsie, The Insurgent Chief, Abicht, and the Capucin Priest, Konarski, were hung in front of the Citadel of Warsaw. It is said, that the Archbishop of Warsaw having protested against this sentence, had been arrested and transported to St. Petersburg. Another account says he had simply been ordered to repair to St. Petersburg. The National Government is said to have warned the Grand Duke Constantine that it could no longer be responsible for his safety. Private letters received from Warsaw, at Berlin, on June 15, state that the Commissioners of the Exchequer, upon examining the Government Treasury in that city, discovered that Russian bank notes, Polish bonds, and gold half imperials to the amount of 5,000,000 silver roubles had been abstracted. In their place was left a receipt signed by the National Government. Four officials, and the books in which the number of the missing bonds were entered, had also disappeared.” On another page, it reports, “The London Morning Herald publishes a lengthy appeal from nearly one hundred ministers, of all denominations, in the Confederate States, seeking to enlist English sympathy in the Confederate cause. It is stated that the address originated from no political source whatever, but from a conference of ministers held at Richmond. The address takes the ground that the restoration of the Union is impossible.”

June 30– Tuesday– Hanover, Pennsylvania– Hurrying to rejoin General Lee’s main body, slowed by captured wagons and horses, and having to ride north in a wide arc to get around the Union army, Confederate General Jeb Stuart’s cavalry, attacks a Union cavalry regiment, driving them through the streets of the town. Additional Federal cavalry units arrive in two waves and after a seesaw fight, a stalemate ensues. Stuart disengages and continues moving in an arc to get around the Union cavalry, further delaying his attempt to rejoin Lee’s army which is concentrating at Cashtown, west of Gettysburg. One of the Union commanders is 23 year old George Armstrong Custer. Union casualties total 215, Confederate losses amount to 117.

Cavalry battle

Cavalry battle

June 30– Tuesday– Guilford Township, Franklin County- Pennsylvania– Amos Stouffer describes current events. “A warm cloudy day yesterday. I came home. Had my horse captured at Loudon’s and walked home. . . . The rebs are marching past all day. Immense baggage trains trudging along all day with a great many captured cattle and horses from Hooker’s army. We hear nothing, but know that he is close at hand. The rebs have gave up all hope of going to Harrisburg. There were 42 pieces of artillery taken past here to day. Mary is yet at Lasicus.”

June 30– Tuesday.– near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– The English observer Sir Arthur James Fremantle has an interesting meeting. “This morning, before marching . . . General Longstreet introduced me to the Commander-in-Chief. General Lee is, almost without exception, the handsomest man of his age I ever saw. He is fifty-six years old, tall, broad shouldered, very well made, well set up– a thorough soldier in appearance; and his manners are most courteous and full of dignity. He is a perfect gentleman in every respect. I imagine no man has so few enemies, or is so universally esteemed.–Throughout the South, all agree in pronouncing him to be as near perfection as a man can be. He has none of the small vices, such as smoking, drinking, chewing, or swearing, and his bitterest enemy never accused him of any of the greater ones. He generally wears a well worn long gray jacket, a high black felt hat, and blue trousers tucked into his Wellington boots. I never saw him carry arms; and the only mark of his military rank are the three stars on his collar. He rides a handsome horse, which is extremely well groomed. He himself is very neat in his dress and person, and in the most arduous marches he always looks smart and clean.”

Sir Arthur Fremantle, British observer of the Gettysburg campaign

Sir Arthur Fremantle, British observer of the Gettysburg campaign

June 30– Tuesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Confederate soldier Thomas Gordon Pollock writes to his father. “It is almost amusing to witness the anxious stare with which we are regarded as our sunburnt motley dressed regiments but moving in closed ranks with the cadenced step to the tune of Dixie and with enfield muskets glistening and the red battle flag inscribed all over with the names of our victories pass through the thoroughfare of one of the numerous towns. Sadness is on the countenance of all but some try to look fierce and angry and tell us confidently we will never get back. It is a beautiful country overflowing with wealth & fatness. Every inch of ground seems to be producing something. The army is reveling in good eating such as the poor fellows have not so much heard of since the beginning of the war. But all this regularly and in good order. I have heard of no case of outrage to person or property. Such is General Lee’s order. I enclose you the last, and what General Lee says the army does down to the lowest private because they say ‘I reckon he knows.’ The perfect reverence the soldiers feel for his orders is only equaled by their faith in him.”

June 30– Tuesday– Chambersburg, Pennsylvania– Rachel Cormany updates the pages of her diary.  “Nothing special transpired today. The Rebs are still about doing all the mischief they can. They have everything ready to set fire to the warehouses & machine shops–Tore up the railroad track & burned the crossties–They have cleared out nearly every store so they cannot rob much more–Evening– Quite a number of the young folks were in the parlor this evening singing all thepatriotic & popular war songs. Quite a squad of rebels gathered outside to listen & seemed much pleased with the music– ‘When this cruel war is over’ nearly brought tears from some. they sent in a petition to have it sung again which was done. they then thanked the girls very much & left–they acted real nicely.”

Rachel Cormany of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Rachel Cormany of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

June 30– Tuesday– Gettysburg, Pennsylvania– Two brigades of Union cavalry soldiers, numbering somewhere between 3200 and 5000 men total, under the command of General John Buford arrive here. Buford, 37 years old, a graduate of West Point in the class of 1848 and a career cavalry officer, believes that Confederate General Lee has changed direction. Carefully selecting good defensive positions, Buford decides to fight a delaying action until General John Reynolds and his infantry arrive. He sends a dispatch to General Reynolds. “I am satisfied that A. P. Hill’s corps is massed just back of Cashtown, about 9 miles from this place. . . . The enemy’s pickets (infantry and artillery) are within 4 miles of this place, on the Cashtown road. . . . today, one of my parties captured a courier of Lee’s. Nothing was found on him. He says Ewell’s corps is crossing the mountains from Carlisle, Rodes’ division being at Petersburg in advance. . . . Should I have to fall back, advise me by what route.”

overly dramatic depiction of Buford's cavalry in action

overly dramatic depiction of Buford’s cavalry in action

June 30– Tuesday– Emmitsburg, Maryland– Near this town, 12 miles away from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Union Generals John Reynolds and Oliver Howard have dinner, talking about the major battle which they are sure is about to take place.

General Oliver Otis Howard

General Oliver Otis Howard

 June 30– Tuesday– near Manchester, Maryland– Elisha Hunt Rhodes quickly updates his diary. “This morning we were detailed as rear guard and as we have had rain and the roads were muddy, we had a hard march through Mount Vernon and Westminster to our camp near Manchester. The Rebel Cavalry hover in our rear all day.”

 June 30– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– A report to President Lincoln shows that as of this month 960,061 men are on active duty with the armed forces of the United States.

President Lincoln

President Lincoln

June 30– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln writes to General David Hunter who has sent a letter complaining about being relieved of command earlier this month. “I assure you, and you may feel authorized in stating, that the recent change of commanders in the Department of the South was made for no reasons which convey any imputation upon your known energy, efficiency, and patriotism; but for causes which seemed sufficient, while they were in no degree incompatible with the respect and esteem in which I have always held you as a man and an officer.” The President also requests updated information from military authorities in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, reassures the governor of New Jersey, and meets with a Congressman from Pennsylvania.

 June 30– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Gideon Welles updates his diary. “Lee and his army are well advanced into Pennsylvania, and they should not be permitted to fall back and recross the Potomac. . . . I don’t want them to leave the State, except as prisoners. Meade will, I trust, keep closer to them than some others have done. . . . This movement of Lee and the Rebel forces into Pennsylvania is to me incomprehensible, nor do I get any light from military men or others in regard to it. Should they cross the Susquehanna, as our General-in-Chief and Governor Curtin fear, they will never recross it without being first captured. This they know, unless deceived by their sympathizing friends in the North, as in 1861; therefore I do not believe they will attempt it. I have talked over this campaign with Stanton this evening, but I get nothing from him definite or satisfactory of fact or speculation, and I come to the conclusion that he is bewildered, that he gets no light from his military subordinates and advisers, and that he really has no information or opinion as to the Rebel destination or purpose.”

June 30– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– Walt Whitman, in a long letter to his mother, describes a recent glimpse of the President. “Mr. Lincoln passes here (14th st) every evening on his way out. I noticed him last evening about ½ past 6, he was in his barouche, two horses, guarded by about thirty cavalry. The barouche comes first under a slow trot, driven by one man in the box, no servant or footman beside– the cavalry all follow closely after with a lieutenant at their head. I had a good view of the President last evening– he looks more careworn even than usual– his face with deep cut lines, seams, & his complexion gray, through very dark skin, a curious looking man, very sad. I said to a lady who was looking with me, ‘Who can see that man without losing all wish to be sharp upon him personally? Who can say he has not a good soul?’ The lady assented, although she is almost vindictive on the course of the administration, (thinks it wants nerve &c., the usual complaint). The equipage is rather shabby, horses indeed almost what my friends the Broadway drivers would call old plugs. The President dresses in plain black clothes, cylinder hat– he was alone yesterday.”

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

June 30– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– Fed by rumors and wrong information, John Jones gleefully records in his diary. “The city is now in good humor, but not wild with exultation. We have what seems pretty authentic intelligence of the taking of Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, the City of York, etc. etc. This comes on the flag of truce boat, and is derived from the enemy themselves. Lee will not descend to the retaliation instigated by petty malice; but proclaim to the inhabitants that all we desire is Peace, not conquest. From Vicksburg we have further information that, in springing his mine, Grant destroyed hundreds of his own men, and did us no injury. Also that a battery we have above Vicksburg had fired into some passing transports, doing great damage to life and boats. The troops landed, and failed to take the battery by assault, losing hundreds in addition.”

June 30– Tuesday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– Charlotte Forten Grimke meets the soldiers from Massachusetts. “This evening Mrs Hunn, Lizzie and I rode with Colonel Gillmore down to see the 54th Massachusetts which is encamped at Land’s End.”

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

 June 30– Tuesday– Tullahoma, Tennessee– Confederate General Bragg, facing a major assault on the morrow by Union forces under General Rosecrans, evacuates the town under cover of darkness. In the campaign since June 24th the Federal troops have lost 83 killed, 473 wounded and 13 missing. The numbers of Confederate dead and wounded are unknown but 1634 of Bragg’s soldiers have been taken prisoner.

June 30– Tuesday– Goodrich’s Landing, Louisiana– In another attempt to relieve pressure on Vicksburg, Confederate forces have seized Union supplies and burned bales of cotton to prevent its seizure by Federal troops. However, before they make good their escape, they are attacked by a combined force of U S Navy and Marines and two units of black infantry. In the intense exchange, the Federals suffer a total of 120 casualties. Confederate losses are unknown and they escape with needed supplies of food and ammunition.

 June 30– Tuesday– London, England–A member of Parliament urges Queen Victoria to take the lead of the European powers and recognize the Confederacy.

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