Following are the small items for the week from the May 16, 1863, Prescott Journal and Polk County Press.
From The Prescott Journal:
Gen. Rosecrans [William S. Rosecrans] is going into the gardening business. He has lately secured about one hundred and fifty acres of good garden land in the neighborhood of Nashville, and has selected from the convalescent soldiers in the hospitals there some fifty men, who are more or less acquainted with gardening, and directed them to cultivate this land in such vegtables [sic] as the army, and especially the hospitals, need. The work is now progressing, and purchases have been made amounting to fifty bushels of onion setts, forty thousand cabbages plants, a like number of tomatoe [sic] plants, and large supplies of the usual vegatable [sic] seeds. This is not simply an economical measure, but a sanitary one, that will promote health and save life in the army.
— Two thousand loyal women recently met at St. Louis, to form a Ladies’ Union League. Several speeches were made and great enthusiasm prevailed.
Halleck in the Field–Hooker’s Plan.
Special to St. Paul Press.
WASHINGTON, May 11.
Gen. Halleck [William H. Halleck] is about take the field in person, not, it is believed, for the purpose of relieving Gen. Hooker [Joseph Hooker] from his command, but that he may be nearer the presence of transpiring events, and the better able to influence, and give directions.
It is believed that Hooker did not commence his retrograde movement, until he had planned his present one, and had become satisfied of its superiority to any effort he could make at Chancellorville [sic].
THE POTOMAC ARMY.
WASHINGTON May 13.
The Star says it has reason to believe there is no truth in the story Halleck designs taking the field in person in the next movement of the army of the Potomac. The Secretary of War has directed that while the army of the Potomac remain in its present position no passes shall be granted to persons to visit it with the view of obtaining the bodies of deceased friends.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY POTOMAC, }
May 12, 1863. }
Dr. Luckley,¹ Medical Director in charge of our wounded on the field, reports that they are all comfortable. They number about 1,200. An ambulance train has been sent for them, and they are expected to return to Camp by tonight.
NEW YORK, May 12.
The Herald’s letter from West Point of the 9th reports Gen. Keyes [E. D. Keyes] constantly in the saddle, and says you may look for stirring news from here suddenly.
The Times’ dispatch from the army of the Potomac of the 8th says our wounded are coming over rapidly, the figures of our total loss being much diminished by the coming in of stragglers.
NEW YORK, May 13.
The Washington Chronicle of yesterday says Vallandigham has been sentenced by General Burnside [Ambrose E. Burnside] to imprisonment at the Tortugas for two years.²
— The President has changed the sentence of Vallandingham, and ordered him sent South.²
— Hooker has not re-crossed the Rappahannock.
— Stonewall Jackson is reported dead.
— Capt. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., son of the poet, was wounded for the third time in the battle at Chancellorville [sic].³
“A Democrat is a Union man. A Copperhead is a rebel claiming to be a Democrat. All Democrats are by no means copperheads, but who ever heard of a copperhead who did not profess to be a Democrat? Ben Butler [Benjamin F. Butler] pithily defines a copperhead to be a cross between Judas Iscariot and Benedict Arnold.”
— We regret to learn that Col. DILL [Daniel J. Dill] of the 30th, has been seriously ill for some time past. He is now out of danger.
— Owing to the absense [sic] of A. H. YOUNG, the military company was not organized last Thursday evening.
— Nearly 2,000 Indians have been taken down the river within a few days past, and several hundred negroes brought up. It is said that Minnesota is trading off two Indians for one negro.
UNION LEAGUE.—The meeting of the Union League, last Saturday, was not as fully attended as was expected [newspaper creased here] of the season, and the depressing character of the news. Able speeches were made by I. L. USHER4, “Wisconsin’s favorite son,” and M. S. HANSCOM, Esq., formerly a clergy man in New York. The songs by Messers. A. H. YOUNG, and G. H. NICHOLS, and Misses Frank BATHOLOMEW and HELEN REESE, added much to the interest and pleasure of the meeting.
From The Polk County Press:
PERSONAL.—Sergeant FRED. A. DRESSER, 30th Regiment, has returned home on a few day’s [sic] furlough. He is looking as fat and hearty as ever.
Capt. HARRIMAN [Samuel Harriman] was in town Tuesday, looking after the interests of the militia organization.
— The Military meeting appointed for last Tuesday evening was postponed until one week from to-day, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, on account of the Militia Law requiring ten days notice to be given. The notices are now posted up in the various public places in the town of Osceola and Farmington. The company will meet at the Court House in this village on Saturday the 23d inst. [May] for the purpose of electing officers and completing the organization. Let all be on hand.
THE MILITARY COMPANY.—About a week since steps were taken to get up a military company here under the new State Law [militia law]. The thing will be a success. Over 80 signatures have already been obtained, and a company will be formed as soon as the neccessary [sic] steps can be gone through. The “Banner County” [Pierce County] is not played out in military yet. Much of the credit of getting up the company is due to Mr. Z. E. Binns.
PERSONAL.—Quartermaster York [William H. York] is in town, healthy, but pretty well bronzed in war’s service. Lieut. W. H. Howes, Co. H, 30th, recently promoted from Co. B, 6th, has been at home for a few days. The Lieutenant feels a just pride at having won promotion, by service in the famous “Iron Brigade.” Lieut. L. D. Gunn has also been at home for a few days.—Prescott Journal.
D I E D.
RAMSEY.—In the town of Farmington, on Friday, May 1st, of Consumption, SAMUEL RAMSEY, formerly a member of the 2d Wisconsin Cavalry, aged 28 years.
The deceased was a worthy and respected citizen, and his death is mourned by a host of friends.
1. Dr. J. W. Luckley was the Medical Director of the 18th Army Corps.
2. As we learned in an earlier post, on May 1, 1863, Clement Vallandigham had given a major speech charging that the war was being fought not to save the Union but to free the slaves by sacrificing the liberty of all Americans. This after General Ambrose E. Burnside issued General Order Number 38, which warned that the “habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy” would not be tolerated in the Military District of Ohio. Vallandigham was arrested on May 5 for violating General Order Number 38, and was tried by military court on May 6-7. President Lincoln overrode Burnside’s sentence, ordering Vallandigham deported and sent to the Confederacy. The Dry Tortugas are a small group of islands, located at the end of the Florida Keys, “Tortuga” being the Spanish name for Turtle. The U.S. bastion there remained in Union hands throughout the Civil War and was used as a prison until 1874.
3. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., will become an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving from 1902 to 1932.
4. Issac Lane Usher, publisher of the La Crosse Morning Chronicle.
1863 May 22: “I don’t think the Eastern army fights like the Western, or it would be more successful”
Edwin Levings, with the 12th Wisconsin Infantry, is in Grand Gulf, Mississippi. This is the continuation of a letter he started on May 18 and already continued once, on May 21. The original letters are in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
[Grand Gulf, Miss.
May 22nd, 1863.
I have not mailed this because no boat was here to go up the river and I fear you will think we are at Vicksburg and can not write. It is by accident we are down here, the rest of our Division is fighting at Vicksburgh [sic]. We can get no news from there, other than that they are fighting as they never did before in the South-west. — The slaughter is awful on both sides, but our boys are beating them back and intend to have that place at all events. They say if the army of the Potomac can’t take Richmond, they can take Vicksburg. I don’t think the Eastern army fights like the Western, or it would be more successful. The western soldiers will have to do the fighting of this war, I guess. [paragraph break added]
For 20 days now, Grant’s army [Ulysses S. Grant] has had constant hard fighting and & [sic] this moment I can hear the heavy guns. The soldiers understand well what would be the effect of giving up the struggle at this time & I think their perseverance will overcome the rebels — nothing else will. [paragraph break added]
But I must go & put this in the office & now good bye from Edwin
We first heard of Grierson’s Raid in Edwin Levings’ letter of April 25, 1863. Here is more detail now that Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson has been conducting his diversionary expedition through Confederate-held territory since April 17. This article appeared in The Prescott Journal of May 16, 1863.
Greierson’s Raids in Mississippi.
GRAND GULF, MISS., May 6, via CAIRO, 8.
To General Halleck [Henry Halleck], Gen’l-in-Chief :
I learn that Col. Grierson with his cavalry has been heard of, first, about 10 days ago, in Northern Mississippi. He moved thence, and struck the railroad 30 miles east of Jackson, at a point called Newton’s Station. He then moved southward towards Enterprise, demanding the surrender of the place, and gave an hour’s grace, during which Gen. Loring [William W. Loring] arrived. He left at once and moved towards Hazelhurst on the New Orleans and Jackson railroad.
At this point he tore up the track, thence he passed to Bahama, 10 miles further south on the same road and thence eastward on the Natchez road where he had a fight with Mort. Adams’ cavalry. From this point he moved back to the New Orleans and Jackson Railroad to Brook Haven, 10 miles south of Bahama, and when last heard from he was three miles south from the summit, and was supposed to be making his way to Baton Rouge.
He had spread excitement throughout the State, destroying railroads and bridges, burning locomotives and railroad stock, taking prisoners and destroying stores of all kinds.
(Signed) U.S. GRANT [Ulysses S. Grant]
Edwin Levings, with the 12th Wisconsin Infantry, is in Grand Gulf, Mississippi. This is the continuation of a letter he started on May 18. The original letters are in the Edwin D. Levings Papers (River Falls Mss BO), in the University Archives and Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Be warned, the “n” word is used towards the end of this letter.
[Grand Gulf, Miss.
May 21st. — I was on picket the day following the commencement of my letter, and yesterday did not feel like writing, and will now try to finish. Well, the 2nd Brigade had no sooner arrived here than it was ordered back to Warrenton. The 53rd Ind[iana] of our Brig[ade] went, also several other regiments, and we were left behind to hold the place, Col. Bryant [George E. Bryant] Com’dg. the Post. We feel somewhat mortified to think we are left behind. They are fighting hard up at Vicksburgh [sic] and we are in our usual place of safety. I don’t know how it happens every time the rebels are about us, we have the luck (I would say the ill-luck) not to meet them. I doubt if Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] has a Regiment as large as ours or that has not seen a fight. Why is it that the 12th regiment is cat-hauled and rammed round all Dixie and the rebels in the way it is & not obtain a chance to go into battle. Perhaps they think we will do something, or it may be they think we can’t, or possibly they don’t know as there is any such regiment as the 12th. But what is the use of speculating. One thing I know.—It is provoking to be kept in expectation, never seeing the reality, we taking our ease comparatively, other regiments doing all the fighting. I am not particularly anxious for a fight, for I know the liabilities, but then when any thing of the kind is going on I would like to be there just once anyhow. Mr. Wilcox told me once he did not think my regiment would ever be in battle, but I don’t, nor never did think so. Guess this will give us a chance sometime.
The Arizona, an English man-of-war captured from the rebels, & the transport Forest Queen, left here for Red river yesterday. Wether [sic] it is to land Bank’s [Nathaniel P. Banks] men this side to attack Port Hudson, or bring some of them up here to relieve us, or take them to Vicksburgh [sic], I can not tell. Grant is said to be in the upper works of Vicksburg [sic]. I hope they will send us up there for we are on duty every other day here. Not more than 2000 fighting men here. Lots of sick & wounded, convalescents & niggers by thousands. A large gunboat lies here all the time. Prisoners coming in every day. Papers are scarse [sic] & sell at 25 cts., everything is 100 percent higher than at Memphis. Can’t get any papers & have had no letters since leaving Memphis. Send us some late N. Y. Tribunes. I guess I will stop. Write us soon & may God be with you all & us. — Edwin D. Levings, Co A 12th W. V.
More news on General Ulysses S. Grant’s victories, from The Polk County Press and The Prescott Journal of May 16, 1863.
From The Polk County Press:
The news from Vicksburg is all discouraging. A dispatch dated the 6th inst. [May] says :
The attack on Haines’ Bluff was a spirited affair. Our gunboats were repulsed and the expedition was returning to Young’s Point.
It is reported that the gunboat Choctaw was considerably damaged in her wheels, and that her turret was penetrated by a 64-pound shot. The casualties are reported as 80 killed and wounded.
The steamer Era on her way up the river, was attacked by guerillas [sic], with one 12-pounder. She was struck seven times, but was not so badly damaged but that she continued her course.
The Duke of Argyle, with a 12-pounder on board, soon dispersed the enemy.
An official dispatch has been received at Washington, from Admiral Porter [Porter], stating that he occupied the forts of the enemy at Grand Gulf on the 3d inst.
LATER & RETTER.
The Cincinnati Gazette of the 9th has a dispatch from Memdhis [sic] the 7th saping [sic] that Gen. Grant captured Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, and Willard Valley. Grant’s main army on Wednesday was 30 miles up the Big Black river, marching on the rear of Vicksburg.
Gen. Grant’s official report to the President [Abraham Lincoln] says: We met the enemy eleven thousand strong about four miles south of Port Gibson, at 2 a. m. on the 1st inst., engaged him all day, entirely routing him, with a loss of many killed and 5000 prisoners, besides the wounded. Our loss is 600. We captured 6 field pieces, and a lot of heavy guns, destroyed stores, &c.
From The Prescott Journal:
FROM GRANT’S ARMY.
CAIRO, May 14.
The various latest dates from Grant’s army are to Thursday. At that time it was eighteen miles from Grand Gulf, encamped near Big Black River.
We have not yet possesion [sic] of any part of the railroad between Vicksburg and Jackson.
There is no probably truth in the reported battle at Clinton.
Grant is receiving heavy reinforcemenets [sic].
A new overland route for troops and trains has been made from Young’s Point to the river below. It is only eight miles long, and greatly expedites forwarding men [and?] supplies.
Ten negro regiments have been formed. Gen. Thomas [George H. Thomas], who arrived at Memphis, thinks 10 more will be found.
Gen. Washburn [C. C. Washburn] reports Grant within fifteen miles of Edward’s Station.
The following on the aftermath of the Battle of Chancellorsville is from the May 16, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal.
W A R N E W S !
THE CONDITION OF HOOKER’S ARMY.
Stoneman’s Cavalry at Falmouth.
From Dispatches of the Chicago Tribune.
PHILADELPHIA, May 10th.—This evening’s Washington Republican of the last edition, contains the following:
“Those who arrived from headquarters last night, report the condition of the army to be as excellent as its most anxious friends could wish.
Hooker [Joseph Hooker] was in fine spirits and perfectly satisfied with his recent achievement. All who have arrived here from the army unite in speaking of Hooker and recent operations in terms of highest praise. Those who suppose that we have thus far met with reverse on the Rappahannock, will have to learn how sadly they are mistaken.
The President [Abraham Lincoln] and Halleck [William H. Halleck], who visited Hooker yesterday, have returned, and the former is said to be agreeably surprised with the situation. Our killed, and wounded, and captured has been largely overstated heretofore. Almost continuous showers that are falling create inconvenience to our army in Virginia, but they will have good effect in impeding the reconstruction of bridges and railroad tracks which have been destroyed by Stoneman [George Stoneman].
The Chronicle of this morning, says; We have the best means of knowing that Gen. Hooker will soon demonstrate both his capacity and patriotism, and lead the army to victory, thorough and complete.
PHILADELPHIA, May 10, 9 P.M.—Saturday evening’s last edition of the Washington Star contained the following:
We apprehend that those who imagine that the events of the past week upon the Rappahannock have materially damaged the efficiency of Gen. Hooker’s army will ere long find themselves much mistaken. It will not be very long before the rebels will find that what now claim as a victory, has damaged them vastly more than it damaged the Union army of the Potomac from what will follow in this spring campaign in that quarter.
Stoneman on his return from his late brilliant cavalry raid increased the Rappahannock at Kelly’s Ford, and has rejoined Gen. Hooker at Falmouth. The distances traversed and the amount of work accomplished by the different columns of Stoneman’s cavalry on their late mission establishes the fact as quite beyond the most daring successful achievements of the rebel cavalry during the war.
Hooker had nearly recrossed the Rappahannock before he heard the news in the rebel papers of the success of Stoneman’s expedition.
But few of the wounded are arriving here. The cause of delay is unknown.
The President told a member of the Cabinet, since his return from Falmouth, that he found Hooker’s army in much better condition than he anticipated, and believed that the moment the weather cleared off it could again make a forward movement, if it should be so decided.
It is believed, in Washington, that the Conscription act will be immediately enforced, beginning with the State of New York.
WASHINGTON, May 11.
Hooker detained several troops to gather up the wounded and bury the dead on the south bank of the river.
The number of rebels found unburied was very large. It is believed that no effort was made by the enemy to bury the dead. The fact that Lee [Robert E. Lee] left thus suddenly confirmed Gen. Hooker in the belief that the rebels had been very much cut up, and that they contemplated retreat if practicable. Accordingly, on Thursday before the rain ceased Gen. Hooker ordered forward the 5th corps, under Gen. Sedgwick [John Sedgwick]. The roads were in terrible condition ; progress was slow. Gen. Hooker on Friday, directed his attention to crossing his whole army at Banks and United States Fords. During the day positions of each corps was designated. Gen. Hooker was busy in giving instructions to the various Generals concerning the proposed pursuit and capture of Lee’s army.
The question—”Where have the rebels gone ?” is going around unanswered in the hotels to-day.
The opinion of military men is that they have fallen back in two columns towards Gordonville [sic], in the hope of concentrating with Longstreet’s force in front of Richmond. The next engagement will, probably, take place near the upper Pamunky river, whither Hooker is moving as rapidly as possible. Many maintain that James river will be the next line the rebels will defend.
It is reported to-day that our army is on motion southward, and that skirmishing with the rear guard of the army had commenced.
It is reported that Fredericksburg and the Heights of St. Marye contain our troops to day.
Troops are again arriving here, and it is rumored that another army will move south to support Hooker in a day or two.
[Special to Post.]—The reported capture of Richmond is contradicted here.—The Post has the following :
The steamer John J. Horner arrived at Washington on Saturday evening, with dispatches from Hooker. The following is reported as the substance of the same :
At daybreak on Friday Gen. Hooker pushed forward two corps. His army crossed the Rappahannock under Gen. Sedgwick, and gathered in the wounded, left on the field of battle, comprising both soldiers of the Union and Rebel armies, and buried the dead.
At an early hour Hooker completed crossing his entire force, together with ample supplies of ammunition and stores, enough to last eight days.
As soon as he was across the whole seven corps were placed in motion and deployed on the right and left in search of the enemy, who at latest accounts had not been found in force. The coming week will probably witness the greatest conflict on the continent. Hooker does not desire reinforcements. It is not believed that Heintzelman [Samuel P. Heintzelman] has gone to reinforce Hooker, but there is no doubt that his army is in motion.
1863 May 16: “The censorship exercised over the telegraph is most strict and rigid, and what little can be obtained is base and unsatisfactory, but provokingly suggestive”
Following is The Prescott Journal’s summary of the news for the week, published on May 16, 1863, followed by The Polk County Press’ summary.
The War News.
The War News of the week past has been a confused medley of conflicting reports. This much is certain, there has been severe fighting, and Richmond is not taken. How great a defeat befel [sci] our armies ! Whether in reality it was any defeat at all ! Whether Stoneman [George Stoneman] has joined Hooker [Joseph Hooker] ! Whether Hooker and the army are on the North or South side of the Rappahannock ! are questions difficult to answer.
Any person who can sift out the “reliable” news, from the mass of reports, can have a situation for a while as editor of this paper.
Our own impression is that we have met with no serious disaster, and that the confidence of the army in itself and its leader is unimpaired. In the West, Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] has gained a great victory.
The news this week has been of a conflicting and desultory character, and but little reliance can be placed upon the newspaper reports. The censorship exercised over the telegraph is most strict and rigid, and what little can be obtained is base and unsatisfactory, but provokingly suggestive.
The latest from HOOKER is that he has crossed the Rappahannock and we may look for stirring events soon in that direction.
The STONEMAN cavalry raid within the rebel lines, was one of the most daring of the war. Richmond papers, which have been received accross [sic] the lines are filled with particulars of the exploit, cutting of supplies, breaking up railroad and telegraphic communications, and creating general consternation in Dixie. Among the rest, LEE [Robert E. Lee] is openly blamed for permitting it—so inglorious and humilliating [sic] to the Confederates.
The redeeming feature is General GRANT’s operations near Vicksburg. He has thus far been successful and we look for a general victory and the speedy downfall of that rebel stronghold.
1. The Prescott Journal ran this news of Vallandigham: “The President has changed the sentence of Vallandigham, and ordered him sent South.” On May 1, 1863, Vallandigham had given a major speech charging that the war was being fought not to save the Union but to free the slaves by sacrificing the liberty of all Americans. This after General Ambrose E. Burnside issued General Order Number 38, which warned that the “habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy” would not be tolerated in the Military District of Ohio. Vallandigham was arrested on May 5 for violating General Order Number 38, and was tried by military court on May 6-7. President Lincoln overrode Burnside’s sentence, ordering Vallandigham deported and sent to the Confederacy.
2. The Dry Tortugas are a small group of islands, located at the end of the Florida Keys, “Las Tortugas” being the Spanish name for The Turtles. The U.S. bastion there remained in Union hands throughout the Civil War and was used as a prison until 1874.