The Second Confiscation Act

July 25, 1862 – President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation warning southerners to “cease participating in, aiding, countenancing, or abetting the existing rebellion, or any rebellion, against the Government of the United States, and to return to their proper allegiance to the United States, on pain of the forfeitures and seizures” of their property under a controversial law enacted the week before.

Just before adjourning, Congress enacted an amended version of the Confiscation Act of 1861. Unlike the original law, which only provided for freeing slaves actively employed in the Confederate military, this version included provisions for freeing all slaves belonging to anyone with Confederate sympathies.

The law classified all Confederates as “traitors” in accordance with a 1790 statute. These “traitors” had 60 days to stop “aid, countenance, and abet such rebellion, and return to his allegiance to the United States.” If not, “all his slaves, if any, shall be declared and made forever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves.” This amounted to 90 percent of the slaves in the Confederate states and, to many southerners, validated their accusation that Republicans had sought to free their slaves all along.

According to the measure’s ninth provision:

“That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the government of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the army; and all slaves captured from such persons or deserted by them and coming under the control of the government of the United States; and all slaves of such person found on (or) being within any place occupied by rebel forces and afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves.”

This finally resolved the issue of whether Federal commanders should allow fugitive slaves to come into their camps.

The freed slaves received no guarantees that their rights would be protected; rather, the president was authorized to deport them to “some tropical country beyond the limits of the United States… such persons of the African race, made free by the provisions of this act, as may be willing to emigrate, having first obtained the consent of the government of said country to their protection and settlement within the same, with all the rights and privileges of freemen.”

Furthermore, if a Confederate did not submit to Federal authority, “the estate and property, moneys, stocks, and credits of such person shall be liable to seizure” by the Federal government for the rest of his life in what was called a “bill of attainder.” Radical Republicans pushed for taking the land “beyond the lives of the guilty parties,” but Lincoln made it known that such a provision would be unconstitutional and spiteful, and he would veto the entire bill if this was not modified.

President Abraham Lincoln | Image Credit: Wikimedia.org

Lincoln insisted on restricting property confiscation to just a person’s lifetime and then allowing ownership to revert to the person’s descendants. Congressional Republicans responded by passing an accompanying resolution declaring that the law was not a bill of attainder, which was prohibited by the Constitution, even though it clearly was.

Slaves escaping from bondage in the loyal slave states (i.e., Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri) would continue to be returned to their masters (if they could prove their loyalty to the U.S.) in accordance with the Fugitive Slave Act. Lincoln hoped this assurance would keep these states in the Union, and that a promise of gradual, compensated emancipation might persuade Virginia and Tennessee to return to the Union.

The House of Representatives estimated that this law could affect six million people and result in the confiscation of $5 billion in property. But it had no effective enforcement mechanism, and its conflicting references to the Confederacy as both a region rebelling against the Federal government (i.e., Confederates were “traitors”) and an independent nation (i.e., slaves were “captives of war”) made its constitutionality extremely dubious. Moreover, Lincoln was in the process of formulating his own emancipation plan under his wartime powers as commander-in-chief, which he believed to be more constitutional than a congressional decree and would do less to hinder Republicans’ chances in the midterm elections. Therefore, several of this law’s provisions went unenforced.

Congressmen speculated that Lincoln might veto the bill. Some feared that the measure would drive the loyal slave states out of the Union. Lincoln submitted a list of objections to the original bill, and the law passed after bitter debate. It was strongly opposed by Democrats and some moderate Republicans, but they could not overcome the majority of other moderate and Radical Republicans in favor.

Senator William P. Fessenden of Maine persuaded Lincoln to sign the bill into law and then send his proposed veto message to Congress, to be recorded for when the law was tested in the courts. This unprecedented move enabled Lincoln to curry favor from both factions of Republicans. In the message, Lincoln stated that “the severest justice may not always be the best policy.” Referring to the provision freeing slaves of Confederates after 60 days, Lincoln declared:

“It is startling to say that Congress can free a slave within a State, and yet, if it were said the ownership of the slave had first been transferred to the nation, and Congress had then liberated him, the difficulty would at once vanish. And this is the real case. The traitor against the General Government forfeits his slave at least as justly as he does any other property; and he forfeits both to the Government against which he offends. The Government, so far as there can be ownership, thus owns the forfeited slaves, and the question for Congress in regard to them is, ‘Shall they be made free or sold to new masters?’”

Lincoln argued that freeing slaves within the states contradicted the Republican Party platform to which Lincoln and the Republicans owed their election. Members of Congress, particularly the Radical Republicans, laughed at the message, confident that Lincoln did not have the nerve to oppose them any longer.

The 60-day countdown began on the 25th, when Lincoln issued his warning for southerners to cease and desist their rebellion. The language was derived from the first draft of Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation, which he had agreed not to release in its entirety until the Federal military gained a victory.

The Second Confiscation Act highlighted the growing political rift between Lincoln and the Radical Republicans in Congress. It also set the stage for later Federal efforts to preserve and reconstruct the Union by destroying the southern way of life.

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government: All Volumes (Heraklion Press, Kindle Edition 2013, 1889), Loc 14721-30, 14753-62; Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln (Simon & Schuster, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 7701; Faust, Patricia L., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 157; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 539-40; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 182; Goodwin, Doris Kearns, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005), p. 460-61; Jackson, Donald Dale, Twenty Million Yankees: The Northern Home Front (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 143; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 241, 244; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 500; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 351; Robertson, Jr., James I., Tenting Tonight: The Soldier’s Life (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 32-33; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q362

Confederates on the Move in the West

July 23, 1862 – General Braxton Bragg mobilized his Confederate Army of Mississippi to move from Tupelo to Chattanooga and ultimately join forces with Major General Edmund Kirby Smith.

Bragg wrote his predecessor, General P.G.T. Beauregard, explaining there were four options for his Confederates:

  • They could remain at Tupelo
  • They could attack Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals at either Corinth or Memphis
  • They could attack Major General Don Carlos Buell’s Federals advancing on Chattanooga
  • They could advance into Middle Tennessee, disrupting both Grant’s and Buell’s supply lines

General Braxton Bragg | Image Credit: Wikispaces.com

Only advancing on Chattanooga would enable Bragg to join forces with E.K. Smith, whose 18,000-man army was poised to threaten Cumberland Gap and Kentucky. Bragg wrote to President Jefferson Davis:

“Obstacles in front connected with danger to Chattanooga induce a change of base. Fully impressed with great importance of that line, am moving to East Tennessee. Produce rapid offensive from there following the consternation now being produced by our cavalry. Leave this State amply protected by (Major General Earl) Van Dorn at Vicksburg and (Major General Sterling) Price here (at Tupelo).”

Bragg’s cavalry moved out on the 22nd, with Bragg writing Beauregard, “Our cavalry is paving the way for me in Middle Tennessee and Kentucky.” Bragg’s 30,000 Confederate infantry began boarding trains the next day. The trip stretched 776-miles and involved transferring onto six different railroads and a steamboat along a route south to Mobile, north to Montgomery, east to Atlanta, then northwest to Chattanooga.

Once at Chattanooga, Bragg planned to join forces with E.K. Smith’s army and invade Kentucky, much like Colonel John Hunt Morgan was doing. Bragg guessed that Buell’s Federals would abandon efforts to capture Chattanooga and instead pursue the Confederates northward. And if Grant reinforced Buell, Van Dorn and Price could join forces in Mississippi to attack Grant’s diminished force.

Certain that Kentuckians would eagerly join his army, Bragg brought 15,000 extra rifles with him. This certainty seemed to be confirmed the next day when E.K. Smith forwarded a message from J.H. Morgan in Kentucky, stating that the bridges between Cincinnati and Lexington had been destroyed and at least 30,000 secessionists would gladly join the Confederate cause.

Smith contacted Brigadier General Carter L. Stevenson, who was opposing the Federal force at Cumberland Gap under Brigadier General George W. Morgan. Smith told Stevenson that if G.W. Morgan detached troops to deal with J.H. Morgan, it could “present the most favorable opportunity of pushing forward your operations, and probably enable you to enter Kentucky.”

Bragg reported to the Confederate adjutant general on the 24th:

“Major General Van Dorn, with about 16,000 effectives, will hold the line of the Mississippi. Major General Price, with a similar force, will face the enemy on this frontier (central Mississippi), and a sufficient garrison will be left for Mobile and the Gulf. With the balance of the forces, some 35,000 effectives, I hope, in conjunction with Major General Smith, to strike an effective blow through Middle Tennessee, gaining the enemy’s rear, cutting off his supplies and dividing his forces, so as to encounter him in detail. In any event much will be accomplished in simply preserving our line and preventing a descent into Georgia, than which no greater disaster could befall us.”

Advance Confederate units from Bragg’s army arrived at Chattanooga on July 27, just two days before the last train left Tupelo. This was the largest Confederate railroad movement of the war, and it was completed in record time, despite the poor condition and different track gauges of southern railroads.

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 198; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 571, 573; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 184-85; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 243; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 515-16; Street, Jr., James, The Struggle for Tennessee: Tupelo to Stones River (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 42-43

The Prisoner Exchange Cartel

July 22, 1862 – With the number of prisoners of war quickly growing, Federals and Confederates agreed to a tentative system of prisoner exchange.

By this month, the major battles of 1862 had resulted in the capture of tens of thousands of prisoners on both sides. The Confederate government tried working with the Federals on a prisoner exchange agreement, but the Lincoln administration was reluctant to negotiate such a deal with a government they did not consider legitimate. Talks had taken place between the two sides in February, but they broke down in early March.

Finally, both sides came together to discuss the growing problem on July 18, when Federal Major General John A. Dix and Confederate Major General D.H. Hill met at Haxall’s Landing on the James River. The men signed a cartel agreement regarding a prisoner exchange system based on the agreement between the U.S. and Great Britain during the War of 1812. It was approved by both governments four days later.

Generals D.H. Hill and John A. Dix

Officers and men of equal rank would be exchanged one-for-one. A scale was developed to exchange men of unequal rank, such as 30 enlisted men equaled a major general, six equaled a captain, two equaled a sergeant, and so on. Prisoners who could not be immediately exchanged would be paroled (i.e., sent home on the promise that they would not take up arms again until an equal number of men were paroled on the other side). The cartel had no provisions for civilians seized by Federal forces in southern areas under occupation.

The Lincoln administration demanded that no mention of the “Confederate States of America” be written into the official document, and only military officers would administer the program. President Jefferson Davis appointed Robert Ould to be the Confederate prisoner exchange agent. President Abraham Lincoln appointed General Lorenzo Thomas for the Federals.

The cartel eventually became very difficult to manage due to the mounting bureaucracy involved. Its heavy reliance on promises and “gentlemen’s agreements” also hindered the cartel’s effectiveness. And when Federals began recruiting slaves into the army, this added a complication because the Confederacy would not consider slaves eligible for exchange. All these factors assured that the system would eventually break down.

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References

Catton, Bruce, The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1960), p. 500; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government: All Volumes (Heraklion Press, Kindle Edition 2013, 1889), Loc 21346; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 184; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 353; Robertson, Jr., James I., Tenting Tonight: The Soldier’s Life (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 111; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q362

Moving Toward Emancipation

July 22, 1862 – President Abraham Lincoln surprised his cabinet by reading a draft of an executive order freeing all slaves in Confederate states.

Abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner | Image Credit: Wikispaces.com

Northern abolitionists and the Radical Republicans in Congress continued pressuring Lincoln to do something about slavery. On Independence Day, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, a prominent Radical abolitionist, visited the White House twice “to urge the reconsecration of the day by a decree of emancipation.”

Sumner hoped that such a proclamation would encourage slaves to rise up against their masters, thus helping the Federals destroy the Confederacy from within. Others, including influential New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, also voiced support for slave emancipation to weaken the Confederate war effort. Freed slaves could also join the Federal armies and overwhelm the Confederates with superior numbers.

But Lincoln called it “too big a lick” because it could negatively affect Republican chances in the upcoming midterm elections. He worried that if he freed the slaves, which had no basis in the Constitution, “half the officers would fling down their arms and three more states (Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri) would rise (i.e., secede).” Sumner left the White House confident that Lincoln was “not disinclined” to free slaves in eastern Virginia, but Lincoln later rejected that limited move as well.

16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln | Image Credit: Bing public domain

The day after his conference with the congressmen from the loyal slaveholding states, Lincoln attended the funeral of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton’s newborn child with other members of the cabinet. Riding with Secretary of State William H. Seward and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, Lincoln said he had resolved that slavery must be abolished.

Using his political guile, Lincoln shared this decision with two of his most conservative advisors to get their reaction first. According to Welles, Lincoln said the slavery issue had “occupied his mind and thoughts day and night” for weeks. Lincoln concluded that emancipation was “a military necessity, absolutely essential to the preservation of the Union. We must free the slaves or be ourselves subdued. The slaves were undeniably an element of strength to those who had their service, and we must decide whether that element should be with us or against us.”

Both men expressed surprise because Lincoln had consistently maintained that he had no constitutional authority to interfere with slavery where it already existed. But Lincoln no longer felt restrained by constitutional arguments, arguing that in wartime, the commander-in-chief could seize enemy slaves as a military necessity. He said, “The rebels… could not at the same time throw off the Constitution and invoke its aid. Having made war on the Government, they were subject to the incidents and calamities of war.”

Regarding the border states, Lincoln predicted they “would do nothing” about the matter. In fact, it would be unfair to ask them to give up their slaves while the states in rebellion kept theirs. As such, the “the blow must fall first and foremost on (the rebels)… Decisive and extensive measures must be adopted… We wanted the army to strike more vigorous blows. The Administration must set an example, and strike at the heart of the rebellion.”

The secretaries requested time to consider the matter. Lincoln asked them to give it serious thought because, according to Welles, Lincoln was “earnest in the conviction that something must be done” about slavery to bring about a “new departure” in the war. From this point forward, Lincoln began siding more with the Radicals in the Republican Party than the conservatives on the slavery issue.

Lincoln held a cabinet meeting at 10 a.m. on Monday the 21st to discuss several orders and ideas, including those involving slavery. The cabinet unanimously approved Lincoln’s proposals to allow army commanders to feed their troops with confiscated southern crops and to use freed slaves as army laborers. Lincoln’s proposal to account for confiscated property and slaves so owners could be compensated was accepted by everyone except Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, whose department would be responsible for the accounting.

Stanton brought up a request from Major General David Hunter, commanding the Department of the South, to recruit anyone willing to join his army, regardless of race. Hunter argued that he operated in hostile territory (mainly South Carolina), he needed more men after sending reinforcements to Virginia, and local slaves were willing to join his ranks. Stanton, Seward, and Chase supported the idea, while the other members leaned toward neutrality.

The meeting ended before Lincoln could bring up his idea of emancipation, so the participants agreed to meet again the next day. When the discussions resumed, the attendees tabled proposals related to slave colonization because they could not come to a consensus. Stanton raised the question of whether to arm slaves, but Lincoln continued resisting the notion.

Lincoln then announced that he had drafted a proclamation to free all slaves in the Confederate states not currently under Federal occupation. Lincoln said, “I have got you together to hear what I have written down. I do not wish your advice about the main matter, for that I have determined for myself… I must do the best I can and bear the responsibility of taking the course which I feel I ought to take.”

The decree contained two paragraphs. The first warned Confederates that if they did not return to the U.S. immediately, they would face a stricter Confiscation Act and no possibility of being compensated for losing their slaves. The second read:

“And, as a fit and necessary military measure for effecting this object, I, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, do order and declare that on the first day of January in the year of Our Lord one thousand, eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state or states, wherein the constitutional authority of the United States shall not then be practically recognized, submitted to, and maintained, shall then, thenceforward, and forever, be free.”

This proclamation would only apply to the three and a half million slaves in the Confederate states. Any of those slaves in an area occupied by Federal troops and owned by men who defied the Federal government would be permanently freed. The 425,000 slaves in the loyal slaveholding states would continue to be enslaved, as Lincoln’s wartime powers did not extend to states not rebelling against the U.S. Even so, this was a shocking presidential order that overturned all American legislation on slavery and property rights since the nation’s founding.

Stanton and Attorney General Edward Bates urged “immediate promulgation,” but Chase resisted the idea because “it goes beyond anything that I have recommended,” and it could hurt the North financially. Postmaster General Montgomery Blair opposed it “on the ground that it would cost the Administration the fall elections.” Interior Secretary Caleb B. Smith was strongly opposed.

Seward warned that “foreign nations will intervene to prevent the abolition of slavery for sake of cotton.” The proclamation could “break up our relations with foreign nations and the production of cotton for 60 years.” Seward then questioned the proclamation’s timing:

“It may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help; the government stretching forth its hands to Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the government.”

Fearing that it would seem “our last shriek, on the retreat,” Seward suggested that Lincoln “postpone its issue, until you can give it to the country supported by military success, instead of issuing it, as would be the case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war (i.e., the failed Peninsula campaign).”

Lincoln agreed. He would not issue the emancipation proclamation until the Federal armies gained a victory. He would have to wait much longer than hoped.

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References

Angle, Paul M., A Pictorial History of the Civil War Years (New York: Doubleday, 1967), p. 81, 82-83, 85-86; Bailey, Ronald H., The Bloodiest Day: The Battle of Antietam (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 156-57; CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln (Simon & Schuster, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 7657, 7680-91; Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln (Simon & Schuster, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 7713-35; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 539-40; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 181, 183-84; Goodwin, Doris Kearns, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005), p. 463-64; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 242-43; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 503-05; Ward, Geoffrey C., Burns, Ric, Burns, Ken, The Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 166; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q362

The Northern Virginia Campaign Begins

July 19, 1862 – Federal cavalry discovered that Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates had reached the important railroad town of Gordonsville ahead of them.

Following the Seven Days Battles, Confederate General Robert E. Lee faced four major threats:

  • Major General John Pope’s new Army of Virginia to the northwest;
  • A Federal force near Fredericksburg to the northeast;
  • Major General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac to the east;
  • Major General Ambrose Burnside’s Federals in North Carolina, which could easily move to reinforce McClellan.

Meanwhile, the Federals continued fearing the possibility that Jackson’s Confederates could appear anywhere at any time. General Rufus King, commanding the Federals near Fredericksburg, stated on the 10th, “Reports are current in Fredericksburg this morning that the Confederate troops under Stonewall Jackson, are advancing in this direction.”

Jackson remained with Lee’s army near Richmond, but he continued arguing in favor of a push northward. Congressman Alexander R. Boteler, Jackson’s political benefactor, presented Jackson’s point to President Jefferson Davis, but Davis continued siding with Lee’s assessment that the army was too battered to try such a move. However, the army was about to be forced into moving, ready or not.

Confederate Gen R.E. Lee | Image Credit: Wikispaces.com

Two days later, Lee learned that one of Pope’s corps under Major General Nathaniel P. Banks had occupied Culpeper Court House on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. This posed a serious problem for the Confederates because it threatened Gordonsville (27 miles southeast), where the railroad intersected with the Virginia Central. From there, Federals could cut the only supply link between Richmond and the fertile Shenandoah Valley.

On Sunday the 13th, Lee ordered Jackson to move northwest by rail to “immediately proceed to Louisa Court-House, and if practicable to Gordonsville (15 miles away), there to oppose the reported advance of the enemy from the direction of Orange Court-House.” Jackson was to lead 14,000 men in the two divisions he had brought from the Valley. This greatly reduced the number of Confederate troops on the Peninsula to defend against a possible attack by McClellan’s army at Harrison’s Landing, but Lee correctly guessed that McClellan would show no aggression.

Lee’s main focus at this time was to keep Richmond secure and the supply line to the Shenandoah Valley open. He now began considering whether he could move his entire army northward to face Pope before turning back and knocking McClellan off the Peninsula. Confederate officials hurriedly organized 18 trains pulling 15 cars each to transport Jackson’s men.

Meanwhile, Pope’s army was spread out over 10 miles, with 3,000 Federal cavalrymen under Brigadier General John P. Hatch holding Culpeper. Pope made clear that he did “not desire a simple cavalry reconnaissance toward Culpeper.” Pope wanted the place “to be occupied in force, and directs that General Hatch take up his headquarters there, throwing out strong cavalry pickets for at least 20 miles in the direction of Gordonsville and Richmond.”

Hatch’s troopers were to wreck the Virginia Central Railroad at Gordonsville before continuing on to Charlottesville and the James River. He would also notify Pope of any Confederate resistance along the way. Hatch brought infantry from Banks’s corps, artillery, and a baggage train with him, which greatly slowed the advance. When Pope found this out, he wrote to Banks:

“I was greatly surprised to learn from General Hatch’s dispatch that he had gone to execute the duty I assigned to him, with infantry, artillery, and a wagon train. I never dreamed of such a thing. It has been a great mistake, and may possibly lead to serious consequences, he would have found no enemy at Gordonsville, and from all accounts none at Charlottesville.”

Hatch learned through spies that Jackson’s advance division under Major General Richard Ewell had taken positions between Gordonsville and Madison Court House, with more Confederates on the way. Hatch proposed falling back to Sperryville, 40 miles north of Ewell. Dissatisfied, Pope replaced Hatch with Brigadier General John Buford. He also directed the cavalry stationed around Fredericksburg under General Judson Kilpatrick to destroy the Virginia Central.

Kilpatrick moved out on the night of the 19th with the 2nd New York Cavalry. They had orders to “break up the railroad communication, destroy the depots, and intercept the telegraph.” They brought a local man named Humphreys to guide them. Pope stated, “This man Humphreys knows the whole ground, and can go as a guide, with the assurance that he will be shot if he makes a mistake.”

The Federal troopers destroyed the railroad depot at Beaver Dam Station; even though it was far from Gordonsville (35 miles), it still effectively cut the flow of Confederate supplies. They also captured promising cavalryman Captain John S. Mosby, who was briefly detained in Washington’s Old Capitol Prison before being paroled. Mosby later said, “I confess, I rather enjoyed my visit to Washington.”

At Gordonsville, Jackson asked Lee to send him reinforcements because he did not have enough men to hold the town if Pope decided to advance with his whole 56,000-man army. Lee, who recently received more men from South Carolina, felt confident enough that McClellan posed no threat to send Major General A.P. Hill’s 13,000-man division to join Jackson.

Hill may not have been Jackson’s first choice because the two had disliked each other ever since they were cadets at West Point. Worse, Hill blamed Jackson for the Confederate failures during the Seven Days Battles. But Hill’s men were known as the “Light Division” because of their marching speed, making them compatible (Lee hoped) with Jackson’s “Foot Cavalry.” Lee wrote Jackson, hoping to prevent him from alienating Hill like he did to Ewell with his secrecy:

“A.P. Hill you will, I think find a good officer with whom you can consult and by advising with your division commanders as to their movements much trouble can be saved you in arranging details, as they can act more intelligently.”

Meanwhile, Lee kept McClellan busy with diversionary probes and artillery bombardments.

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 193; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 588-90; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 182; Freeman, Douglas Southall, Lee (Scribner, Kindle Edition, 2008), Loc 4237-60; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 239, 241; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 525; Time-Life Editors, Lee Takes Command: From Seven Days to Second Bull Run (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 98; Wikipedia: Northern Virginia Campaign

John Pope’s Suppression Continues

July 18, 1862 – Major General John Pope, commanding the Federal Army of Virginia, issued orders that sparked fury throughout the South and threatened to change the character of the war.

Gen John Pope | Image Credit: Wikispaces.com

Pope had promised to take the war to civilians aiding and abetting the Confederates in northern Virginia, and now he made good on that promise. He officially issued General Order Nos. 5, 6, and 7 on July 18. Order No. 5 authorized Federals to seize property and supplies from civilians, who would be reimbursed only if they could prove their loyalty to the U.S.:

“Hereafter, as far as practicable, the troops of this command will subsist upon the country in which their operations are carried on. In all cases supplies for this purpose will be taken by the officers to whose department they properly belong, under the orders of the commanding officer of the troops for whose use they are intended. Vouchers will be given to the owners, stating on their face that they will be payable at the close of the war upon sufficient testimony being furnished that such owners have been loyal citizens of the United States since the date of the vouchers…”

Order No. 6 reinforced the previous order for the cavalry:

“Hereafter, in any operations of the cavalry forces in this command, no supply or baggage trains of any description will be used, unless so stated especially in the orders for the movement. Two days cooked rations will be carried on the persons of the men, and all villages and neighborhoods through which they pass will be laid under contribution in the manner specified by General Orders, No. 5, current series, from these headquarters, for the subsistence of men and horses…”

Order No. 7 threatened harsh punishment for anyone consorting with Confederate partisans:

“The people of the Valley of the Shenandoah and throughout the region of operations of this army, living along the lines of railroad and telegraph, and along routes of travel in the rear of United States forces, are notified that they will be held responsible for any injury done the track, line, or road, or for any attacks upon the trains or straggling soldiers, by bands of guerrillas in their neighborhood… If a soldier or legitimate follower of the army be fired upon from any house, the house shall be razed to the ground and the inhabitants sent prisoners to the headquarters of this army. If such an outrage occur at any place distant from settlements, the people within five miles around shall be held accountable, and made to pay an indemnity sufficient for the case; and any person detected in such outrages, either during the act or at any time afterward, shall be shot, without waiting civil process…”

In this order, Pope sought to target partisans in civilian dress who “attack and murder straggling soldiers, molest trains of supplies, destroy railroads, telegraph lines, and bridges, and commit outrages disgraceful to civilized people and revolting to humanity.” These people would not be afforded the rights given to prisoners of war. Going further, Order No. 7 applied the same standard to civilians who aided these partisans.

Five days later, Pope issued General Order No. 11, which directly targeted civilians suspected of disloyalty:

“Commanders of army corps, divisions, brigades, and detached commands will proceed immediately to arrest all disloyal male citizens within their lines, or within their reach in the rear of their respective stations. Such as are willing to take the oath of allegiance to the United States, and will furnish sufficient security for its observance, shall be permitted to remain at their homes, and pursue in good faith their accustomed avocations. Those who refuse shall be conducted south beyond the extreme pickets of the army, and be notified that, if found again anywhere within our lines or at any point in the rear, they will be considered spies, and subjected to the extreme rigor of the military law…”

This order applied to anyone, even a mother writing to a son in the Confederate army. Pope issued one more directive stripping the region of any Federal protection:

“Hereafter, no guards will be placed over private houses or private property of any description whatever… soldiers were called into the field to do battle against the enemy, and it is not expected that their force and energy shall be wasted in protecting private property of those most hostile to the Government.”

All of Pope’s orders were based on Major General Henry W. Halleck’s directives while heading the Department of Missouri, in which Pope had served earlier in the war. These orders, implicitly approved by President Abraham Lincoln before being issued, incurred the wrath of Confederates.

At this time, both sides were working together to develop a system of prisoner exchange. President Jefferson Davis informed General Robert E. Lee that this system would not apply to Pope or any Federal officers carrying out Pope’s orders:

“On the 22d of this month a cartel for a general exchange of prisoners of war was signed between Major-General D. H. Hill, in behalf of the Confederate States, and Major-General John A. Dix, in behalf of the United States. By the terms of that cartel, it is stipulated that all prisoners of war hereafter taken shall be discharged on parole until exchanged. Scarcely had that cartel been signed, when the military authorities of the United States commenced a practice changing the character of the war, from such as becomes civilized nations, into a campaign of indiscriminate robbery and murder… You are therefore instructed to communicate to the commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States the contents of this letter and a copy of the inclosed general order, to the end that he may be notified of our intention not to consider any officers hereafter captured from General Pope’s army as prisoners of war.”

This meant that the Confederate government would consider Pope and his officers to be outlaws, and if captured, they would be treated as felons. Lee, upon reading Pope’s directives, called him a “miscreant” who “ought to be suppressed.” Lee set out to do this by shifting his Army of Northern Virginia northward to take the fight to Pope’s Federals.

Meanwhile, Pope left Washington on the 29th to join his new army and set up what he called “headquarters in the saddle.” His growing number of critics quipped that Pope’s headquarters were where his hindquarters should have been.

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References

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government: All Volumes (Heraklion Press, Kindle Edition 2013, 1889), Loc 17013-46; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 197; Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln (Simon & Schuster, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 7625-36; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 589; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 184, 186; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 242-43, 245; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 350, 440-41; Ward, Geoffrey C., Burns, Ric, Burns, Ken, The Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 146; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q362; Wikipedia: Northern Virginia Campaign

The Newburgh Raid

July 17, 1862 – This evening, Confederate Captain Adam R. Johnson led 35 partisans out of Henderson, Kentucky, to raid the Federal arsenal across the Ohio River at Newburgh, Indiana.

Johnson considered himself the leader of an irregular Confederate force in accordance with the Confederate Partisan Ranger Act. However, his men were civilians, and neither he nor his men wore military uniforms, making them outlaws in Federal eyes. Johnson had been dispatched to Henderson by Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest to deliver a message. He stayed after its delivery and recruited men for his cause.

Johnson planned to break into the Newburgh arsenal, a two-story brick warehouse on the riverfront, and bring the weapons back to Kentucky before Federal troops at nearby Evansville could react. The only troops defending Newburgh were Federal soldiers convalescing at the Exchange Hotel, which had been converted to a hospital. To Johnson’s good luck, the telegraph line between Newburgh and Evansville was not working at the time.

While scout Robert M. Martin led 24 men east of Newburgh to create a diversion, Johnson and two Confederates rowed across the Ohio and seized the arsenal. Eight soldiers manned two cannon trained on the town from the Kentucky side of the river.

“Cannon” overlooking Newburgh | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Newburgh residents immediately realized that their arsenal had been taken. Johnson, expecting Martin’s men to cover his withdrawal, entered the hotel and captured the local Federal commander. Johnson held off the town’s defenders by showing them the two cannon and threatening to “shell this town to the ground.” The Federals did not know that the “cannon” were actually stovepipes set on wagon wheels and axles.

Johnson’s men loaded the arsenal weapons onto waiting skiffs, covered by Martin’s troops and the “cannon.” A Federal gunboat and troop transport unexpectedly blocked the Confederates’ return, prompting Johnson and two men to fire on the convoy to prevent a troop landing, wounding two Federals. Believing they faced a large force, the Federals withdrew, and Johnson’s Confederates returned to Henderson.

Newburgh became the first northern town to be captured by Confederates in the war. Johnson earned the nickname “Stovepipe” for this operation and received a promotion to colonel from General Braxton Bragg. Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton, shocked by the seemingly effortless raid, telegraphed Washington to send reinforcements.

Within three days, 1,000 Federal troops had arrived and were conveyed down the Ohio by Commander Alexander M. Pennock’s fleet of steamers and tugs. The Federals crossed the Ohio, occupying Henderson and other border towns in northern Kentucky while recovering some of the stolen weapons.

The Federals did not find Johnson’s raiders, but Pennock received “the gratitude with which the citizens of Indiana and of this locality will regard the prompt cooperation of yourself and your officers in this emergency, which threatened their security.” Johnson’s raid bolstered military recruitment in Indiana and demonstrated the need for more border patrols.

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References

Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 195-96; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 183-84; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 242; Stanchak, John E., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 395, 524-25; Wikipedia: Newburgh Raid