Damn the Torpedoes! Full Speed Ahead!~August 1864~ the 5th & 6th

Damn the Torpedoes! Full Speed Ahead ~ Admiral Farragut.

That may not be what he actually said but that is the way it enters the mythology of the U S Navy. A career navy man who often suffered from sea-sickness, Farragut did have himself lashed to an upright position on his flagship so he could direct the battle. His win provides needed support for Lincoln’s sagging popularity. Within his own party Lincoln is attacked by a senator and congressman. Lincoln brushes it off and his Secretary of the Navy bluntly criticizes the members of Congress.

In Richmond two young black women are beaten for speaking their minds. The siege of Petersburg drags on while Sherman moves ever closer to Atlanta.

recruiting poster of the First World War

recruiting poster of the First World War

August 5– Friday– New York City– “A more studied outrage on the legislative authority of the people has never been perpetrated. Congress passed a bill; the President refused to approve it, and then by proclamation puts as much of it in force as he sees fit, and proposes to execute those parts by officers unknown to the laws of the United States and not subject to the confirmation of the Senate! The bill directed the appointment of provisional governors by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The President, after defeating such a law, proposes to appoint without law, and without the advice and consent of the Senate, military governors for the rebel States! He has already exercised this dictatorial usurpation in Louisiana, and he defeated the bill to prevent its limitation. . . .The President has greatly presumed on the forbearance which the supporters of his administration have so long practiced, in view of the arduous conflict in which we are engaged, and the reckless ferocity of our political opponents. But he must understand that our support is of a cause and not of a man; that the authority of Congress is paramount and must be respected; and that the whole body of the Union men of Congress will not submit to be impeached by him of rash and unconstitutional legislation; and if he wishes our support, he must confine himself to his executive duties ‘to obey and execute, not makes the laws’ to suppress by arms armed rebellion, and leave political reorganization to Congress. If the supporters of the government fail to insist on this, they become responsible for the usurpations which they fail to rebuke, and are justly liable to the indignation of the people, whose rights and security, committed to their keeping, they sacrifice. Let them consider the remedy for these usurpations, and, having found it, fearlessly execute it!” ~ an attack upon President Lincoln by Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio and Representative Henry Winter Davis [known as the “Wade-Davis Manifesto”] which appears in today’s New York Tribune, the paper of Horace Greeley. [Senator Wade, age 63, has served in the Senate since 1852 and is known as one of the Radical Republicans who favors repressive measures against the Southern states. He finds Lincoln too moderate. Representative Davis, age 47, is hostile to Lincoln and most of the Cabinet, bearing an intensely personal animosity to Montgomery Blair, who serves as Postmaster General.]

Senator Benjamin Wade

Senator Benjamin Wade

August 5– Friday– New York City– Inspector Turner from Scotland Yard arrives to arrange the arrest of Franz Muller of the murder of a Mr Briggs.

August 5– Friday– Monocacy River, Maryland– “Major Ellis, a Division staff officer, died yesterday from the effects of wounds received at Spotsylvania. The entire Division was under arms and saluted the remains as they were bourne past our lines. The President’s fast day was generally observed in the Army. We held services at Brigade Headquarters.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

August 5– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “Kesiah and Lizzie, two young African damsels of the impudent order, were ordered to be thrashed for being insolent to Mr. James Mitchell, and using towards him the epithets of ‘poor white trash.’” ~ Richmond Sentinel.

August 5– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia– “If our things have been destroyed in Atlanta ask Mother please to buy all that would be necessary for the comfort of Bessie & her child. Everything has remained quiet since the attempt of Grant to destroy us by springing a mine. His loss was so heavy & ours so small I doubt if he ever attempts it again. Am glad you all were in Savannah when that raid to Macon took place. & am very glad to see by the papers that all of those raids have been pretty well broken up. They do a great deal of harm to the country but can’t conquer us but rather stirs us up to greater efforts to repel the rascals. In that way it will be of great service to upper Georgia where there were so many who professed Union sentiments which the Yankees do not respect at all.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Barrington King to his family.

August 5– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia– “My health continues good and I am still doing well. We draw good rations and I catch a mess of fish nearly every day. We draw two days rations at a time, half in bacon and cornbread and the other in biscuit and beef. I am so proud to hear that you got off on a visit once more and that you and Henry both enjoyed the trip so well. I hope Colvin has got home by this time and Henry has possession of his knife. I want to bring him some present or other when I come home but it will be a troublesome job to bring him a goat.” ~ Letters from Confederate soldier Marion Hill Fitzpatrick to his wife Amanda.

August 5– Friday– Cobb County, Georgia– “Long trains of Wagons passing today and as usual well guarded with Cavalry, during the morning a portion of the Kentucky Regiment of Cavalry with large strings of pack mules encamped on the premises, they informed me that they were on the Raid by General Stoneman, and had just returned, that they had reached within a few miles of Macon, and after much skirmishing, had a severe engagement with Wheeler’s Cavalry, near Clinton about 12 miles from Macon, that they were defeated and scattered, with a heavy loss in killed, wounded, prisoners. Among the prisoners lost was General Stoneman himself, their loss not yet ascertained as their men are coming in all the while. . . . Having so many soldiers encamped about me, it is quite a relief to know that we have nothing out of doors to lose, Hogs, poultry & gardens all gone– nothing to lose but 1 old Sow, 1 Hen with 6 chickens, & about 20 Pigeons, so far they have managed well to take care of themselves by taking to the Woods, whenever large Bodies of soldiers encamp here.” ~ Diary of William King.


August 5– Friday– outside Atlanta, Georgia– “I think that Atlanta is not the chief object of Sherman’s operations myself for the destruction or capture of the Rebel Army is worth more to us than a dozen Atlantas, & we will be kept on the move till that object is accomplished. We could go into the city at any time if we wanted to, but its occupation is not desired if it would endanger the main plan which is for the annihilation of the Rebel host that man its defenses. The desperate offensive fighting of the Enemy since we crossed the River, their baffled charges & night attacks, show that they know the end is nigh unless they can break our lines & stop the awful pressure on their contracting defenses. Thanks to the fighting qualities of the Army of the Tennessee they have not broken our lines— day by day we move forward to new positions & day by day do we tighten the grip on this Aorta of the Confederacy. They tried to break out last night through our line a little to the right of us, at about 10 O’clock, but after a half hours firing, during which they shelled us fiercely in support of the rally, they were repulsed & silence once more fell over the long dark lines of entrenchments. . . . Everything shows that they are desperate– that is, the Leaders as for the men, they wish the thing ended anyway, & express the greatest joy when taken prisoners & are allowed to go to our rear. Right in rear of where our Battery is now in position is the battle ground of the 28th July, & it is awful to see the long mounds of red dirt that show where the Rebel dead are buried, in trenches containing 30, 40, 50 and in one trench 240 bodies. You can have no idea of how the field looked before the detail for burying went on to it, & I would not have you know anything about it. Of one thing the people up North may rest assured: heavy as our losses has been since investing this city, it is nothing compared to that of the Rebel Army. But this is not very agreeable for you to read & as we write so much now I will stop for the present. Write soon & don’t forget.” ~ Letter from Union soldier Thomas D. Christie to his sister Sarah.

Battle of Mobile Bay

Battle of Mobile Bay

August 5– Friday– Mobile, Alabama– Union naval vessels under the command of Admiral Farragut storm past the Confederate forts, sink one Confederate warship and capture two others, thus sealing off the port and leaving the city open to land operations by Federal infantry. At the start of the assault when the lead Federal ship sinks, Farragut allegedly yells out to his crew, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” Federal casualties include 151 killed and 177 wounded. Confederate casualties include 12 killed, 22 wounded and 1587 taken prisoner by Farragut’s sailors.

Admiral Farragut & General Granger, commanders of the joint operation at Mobile Bay

Admiral Farragut & General Granger, commanders of the joint operation at Mobile Bay

August 5– Friday– Keedysville, Maryland; Williamsport, Maryland; Hagerstown, Maryland; Huttonsville, West Virginia; along Utoy Creek, Georgia; Cabin Point, Virginia; Remount Camp, Arkansas; Olive Branch, Louisiana; Doyal’s Plantation, Louisiana; Concordia Bayou, Louisiana– Hard fighting and sharp skirmishing.

August 6– Saturday– New York City– “It seems quite clear that this last attack on Petersburg failed because of somebody’s criminal bungling, and that ‘somebody’ ought to be court-martialed and shot. But nobody will be. Whether ‘somebody’ is Meade or Burnside, I do not know. . . . Let us hope for better things. Could we but inspire our people with one-hundredth of the earnestness and resolution the rebel leaders show, all would be well, and that right early.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

August 6– Saturday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Thursday was universally observed here as a day of thanksgiving. The city was as quiet as upon a Sabbath day and no business whatever was done. Services were held in the churches, all of which were tolerably well attended. Hundreds of people went to picnics in the country, and there was scarcely a vehicle or a beast of burthen left in town.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer

Congressman Henry Davis

Congressman Henry Davis

August 6– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I remarked that I had seen the Wade and Winter Davis protest. He [President Lincoln] said, Well, let them wriggle, but it was strange that Greeley, whom they made their organ in publishing the protest, approved his course and therein differed from the protestants. The protest is violent and abusive of the President, who is denounced with malignity for what I deem the prudent and wise omission to sign a law prescribing how and in what way the Union shall be reconstructed. . . . In getting up this law it was as much an object of Mr. Winter Davis and some others to pull down the Administration as to reconstruct the Union. I think they had the former more directly in view than the latter. Davis’s conduct is not surprising, but I should not have expected that Wade, who has a good deal of patriotic feeling, common sense, and a strong, though coarse and vulgar, mind, would have lent himself to such a despicable assault on the President. There is, however, an infinity of party and personal intrigue just at this time. A Presidential election is approaching, and there are many aspirants, not only for Presidential but other honors or positions. H. Winter Davis has a good deal of talent but is rash and uncertain. There is scarcely a more ambitious man, and no one that cannot be more safely trusted. He is impulsive and mad and has been acute and contriving in this whole measure and has drawn Wade, who is ardent, and others into it.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

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