Faces Firmly Turned Forever~November 1863~26th to 30th

Faces Firmly Turned Forever ~ Lucy Chase

Many Yankees observe Thanksgiving in a variety of ways, especially reaching out to soldiers. More slaves are fleeing their masters, headed for freedom and many joining the Union army. Union physicians claim that Southerners are mistreating Yankee prisoners. In Tennessee, things are going badly for the Confederate forces and Braxton Bragg tenders his resignation. John Hunt Morgan escapes from a Northern prison. Sarah Morgan Dawson, like many women with family serving in the military on one side or the other, rejoices to receive a letter from one of her brothers. Elsewhere in the world life goes on.

November 26– Thursday– Rocky Run, North Carolina– “There is guerillas stationed on the outside of the rebel pickets and if they catch any deserters they are shot right off. There is Negroes coming in every day or two. There will be plenty of them in New Berne pretty soon there is more Negroes than white people soldiers and all. There ain’t much of any thing to write. The boys are all well and so am I and I hope this will find you the same.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Oren Wooster to his mother. [From 1863 to the war’s end, close to 4,000 black men from this area enlist in the Union army.]

United States Colored Troops [USCT] on garrison duty

United States Colored Troops [USCT] on garrison duty

November 26– Thursday– St Helena Island, South Carolina– “Thanksgiving Day. We had quite a large dinner party– fifteen or sixteen– and a very merry evening– dancing, games. Of course, Mr Sumner was the life of the party. He is very witty and entertaining.” ~ Diary entry of Charlotte Forten Grimke, who returned from the North on October 16th. [It is unclear if this reference is to Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts.]

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimke

November 26– Thursday– Warm Springs, North Carolina; Morton’s Ford, Virginia; Pea Vine Valley, Tennessee; Graysville, Georgia; Raccoon Ford, Virginia; Woodson, Missouri; Pigeon Hill, Tennessee; Plymouth, North Carolina– Skirmishes, fire fights, ambushes and melees.

November 27– Friday– New York City– “The good news from Chattanooga amply confirmed, and more than confirmed. Bragg’s defeat is a rout . . . there was every sign of flight and disorganization. . . . . God be praised for this victory, which looks like the heaviest blow the country has yet dealt at [the] rebellion.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

November 27– Friday– Columbus, Ohio– Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and several of his officers escape from the state penitentiary.

John Hunt Morgan

John Hunt Morgan

November 27– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “We, the undersigned, surgeons of the United States Army, and recently prisoners in Richmond, Va., consider it our duty to publish a few facts that came to our knowledge while we were inmates of the hospital attached to Libby Prison. We enjoyed for several months daily access to the hospitals where the sick and wounded among our Union soldiers received treatment. As a result of our observations, we hereby declare our belief that since the battle of Chickamauga the number of deaths per diem has averaged fully fifty. The prevailing diseases are diarrhoea, dysentery and typhoid pneumonia. Of late the percentage of deaths has greatly increased, the result of causes that have been long at work – as insufficient food, clothing and shelter, combined with that depression of spirits brought on so often by long confinement. It may seem almost incredible when we affirm, of our personal knowledge, that in the three hospitals for Union soldiers the average mortality is nearly forty per day; and upon the most reliable testimony we are forced to believe that the deaths in the tobacco factories and upon the island will raise the total mortality among all the Union prisoners to fifty per day, or fifteen hundred monthly.” ~ Opening section of the signed statement of four Union doctors recently returned to Washington in a prisoner exchange.

November 27– Friday– Mine Run, Virginia– In an inconclusive battle, Confederate and Union forces maul each other. Total casualties– dead, wounded, missing– amount to 1272 for the Federals and 680 for the Confederates.

November 27– Friday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– “I am just in from the front. The rout of the enemy is most complete. Abandoned wagons, caissons, and occasional pieces of artillery are everywhere to be found. I think Bragg’s loss will fully reach sixty pieces of artillery. A large number of prisoners have fallen into our hands. The pursuit will continue to Red Clay in the morning, for which place I shall start in a few hours.” ~ Telegram sent early in the morning by General Grant to Washington, D.C.

canon captured by Federal troops

canon captured by Federal troops

November 27– Friday– Graysville, Georgia– “To-morrow the Fifteenth Corps will destroy railroads and all property of use to all enemy in this neighborhood, and General Hooker’s command will, in like manner, destroy that in the neighborhood of Ringgold, and . . . will make the necessary orders for the general movement back to Chattanooga. . . . . please report what you have done, and make all preliminary preparations for the return march.” ~ Orders issued by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

November 27– Friday– Ringgold Gap, Georgia– In a hard-fought battle Confederate forces repel a Federal attack. Total casualties– dead, wounded, and missing– are 432 for the Federal forces and 480 for the Confederate defenders.

November 28– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “On Thanksgiving Day, a number of the benevolent ladies of the city provided a first rate dinner to the sick of the Atheneum Hospital and the prisoners. In all sixty-four soldiers were provided with an excellent dinner, which must have been highly relished after living a couple of years on army rations. The ladies who deserve particular credit are, Mrs. Harry, Mrs. France, Mrs. Rhiheldaffer and Miss Maggie Baltzell.” ~ Wheeling Intelligencer.

November 28– Saturday– Confederate headquarters outside of Knoxville, Tennessee– “I am not at all confident that General Bragg has had a serious battle at Chattanooga, but there is a report that he has, and that he has fallen back to Tunnel Hill. Under this report I am entirely convinced that our only safety is in making the assault upon the enemy’s position to-morrow at daylight, and it is the more important that I should have the entire support and co-operation of the officers in this connection ; and I do hope and trust that I may have your entire support and all the force you may be possessed of in the execution of my views. It is a great mistake to suppose that there is any safety for us in going to Virginia if General Bragg has been defeated, for we leave him at the mercy of his victors, and with his army destroyed our own had better be, for we will be not only destroyed, but disgraced. There is neither safety nor honor in any other course than the one I have chosen and ordered.” ~ Letter from Confederate General Longstreet to General McLaws.

November 28– Saturday– Dalton, Georgia– General Braxton Bragg telegraphs his resignation to President Jeff Davis.

November 28– Saturday– Tromso, Norway– Birth of Johan Henrik Rye Holmboe, businessperson and liberal politician who will serve 42 on the city council three terms in the Parliament and twice in the national government, first from 1920 to 1921, second from 1923 to 1924.

November 29– Sunday– Norfolk, Virginia– “Two or three days ago, 4 hundred Negroes followed on the heels of a force sent out from Norfolk in search of guerillas, and now we find them at our doors. Two weeks ago, four hundred other Negroes, accepting a cordial invitation from colored soldiers, came to town. Not to spend the winter, not to tarry but a night, but with their faces firmly turned forever and a day from their homes? Such floods we look for all through the winter. . . . I wish you could go with my sister and myself . . . just after the arrival of refugees. Tumbling about amongst boxes, beds, tables, and tubs, the little ones with their shining eyes and frolicsome ways, sing ‘Jubilee’ for the whole community. While the more anxious parents sit on table-corners, or lean against the brick walls, too unsettled in the face of an uncertain future to find rest either for body or mind. My sister saw many reunions yesterday. One woman came to her, leading a girl of eighteen, and said, ‘See my daughter, they sold her away from me when she was just old enough to rock a cradle, and see how they’ve done her bad, see how they’ve cut her up. From her head to her feet she is scarred just as you see her face.’ A man from one of the farms just came to me for a blanket, saying, ‘I make out tolerably well myself, but my children, you see it grieves my mind.’” ~ Letter from Lucy Chase to Anna Lowell.

November 29– Sunday– near Knoxville, Tennessee– In a desperate attempt to capture the city Confederate forces assault the well defended Federal position at Fort Sanders and are repulsed, suffering heavy losses. Killed, wounded and missing total 100 for the Federals and 780 for the Confederates.

November 29– Sunday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– “So I took a stroll to Missionary Ridge– where our Regiment made a charge– followed it along where the battle raged hardest. The ground was strewn with shreds of clothing, parts of pants cut off of wounded men to dress them, cartridge boxes &c. All the dead were buried . . . . I saw men wounded in every form– shot through all parts of [the] body. The rebels had shanties or rived staves. I went into many of them– found they had rice, beans and meal for a living. Bragg’s quarters were on this ridge. . . . . The rebels could look off this ridge and see all maneuvers in our camp. Along the line of the Rail Road is to be seen smoke of burning buildings. This evening our Regiment has come, it and I go with a detail to get wood to warm their tents. They feel jolly over their exploits.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Bliss Morse to his mother.

November 29– Sunday– Fort Esperanza, Texas– After a two day battle, tonight the outnumbered and outflanked Confederates evacuate the fort after spiking the canon, burning their stores, and blowing up their ammunition magazines. [The fort will be occupied and repaired by Union forces, who will use it as their base of operations for campaigns in the area until June of the coming year.]

November 30– Monday– Dalton, Georgia– “No satisfactory excuse can possibly be given for the shameful conduct of our troops on the left in allowing their line to be penetrated. The position was one which ought to have been held by a line of skirmishers against any assaulting column, and wherever resistance was made the enemy fled in disorder after suffering heavy loss. Those who reached the ridge did so in a condition of exhaustion from the great physical exertion in climbing, which rendered them powerless, and the slightest effort would have destroyed them. Having secured much of our artillery, they soon availed themselves of our panic, and, turning our guns upon us, enfiladed the lines, both right and left, rendering them entirely untenable. Had all parts of the line been maintained with equal gallantry and persistence no enemy could ever have dislodged us, and but one possible reason presents itself to my mind in explanation of this bad conduct in veteran troops who had never before failed in any duty assigned them, however difficult and hazardous. They had for two days confronted the enemy, marshaling his immense forces in plain view, and exhibiting to their sight such a superiority in numbers as may have intimidated weak-minded and untried soldiers; but our veterans had so often encountered similar hosts when the strength of position was against us, and with perfect success, that not a doubt crossed my mind. As yet I am not fully informed as to the commands which first fled and brought this great disaster and disgrace upon our arms. Investigation will bring out the truth, however, and full justice shall be done to the good and the bad.” ~ Report by Confederate General Braxton Bragg to Richmond about the battle of Lookout Mountain.

Braxton Bragg

Braxton Bragg

November 30– Monday– New Orleans, Louisiana– “Relieved by good news from [my brother] Jimmy. The jolliest sailor letter from him came this morning, dated only the 4th instant from Cherbourg, detailing his cruise on the Georgia from leaving England, to Bahia, Trinidad, Cape of Good Hope, to France again. Such a bright, dashing letter! We laughed extravagantly over it when he told how they readily evaded the Vanderbilt, knowing she would knock them into ‘pie’ . . . . What a jolly life it must be! Now dashing in storms and danger, now floating in sunshine and fun! Wish I was a midship man! Then how he changes, in describing the prize with an assorted cargo that they took, which contained all things from a needle to pianos, from the reckless spurt in which he speaks of the plundering, to where he tells of how the Captain, having died several days before, was brought on the Georgia while Maury read the service over the body and consigned it to the deep by the flames of the dead man’s own vessel. What noble, tender, manly hearts it shows, those rough seamen stopping in their work of destruction to perform the last rites over their dead enemy. One can fancy their bare heads and sun burned faces standing in solemn silence around the poor dead man when he dropped into his immense grave. God bless the ‘pirates’!” ~ Diary of Sarah Morgan Dawson. [Jimmy is her brother serving in the Confederate Navy. His letter describes an attack upon a merchant ship.]

Sarah Morgan Dawson

Sarah Morgan Dawson

November 30– Monday– Manila, the Philippines– Birth of Andres Bonifacio, leader of the Philippine revolt against Spain. [He will be arrested, tried and executed by political opponents in the spring of 1897.]

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