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.
Edwin Levings, with the 12th Wisconsin Infantry, has arrived at the regiment’s destination — Grand Gulf, Mississippi. He describes their camp to his parents, the area around Port Gibson, and what the Union Army there is doing, including recruiting freed African Americans (he uses the colloquialism “darkies”) as soldiers.
Ed continues this letter on May 21, and then again on May 23. 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 18th / ’63
This letter leaves us a long way from Memphis and it will take some time to reach you. We are now at this point which was captured by our forces on the 3rd inst. [May] having arrived here last evening at 8 o’clock after a 4 hours ride on the Steamer Forest Queen. The 2nd & 3rd brigades are here and the 1st is yet to come. Our Reg’t has no tents, so we get along for shelter as we can, that is we make tents of our oil cloths, which with the shade of the trees protect us very well from the rain and hot sun. There is no danger of our taking cold. I think on experiencing any other bad effects, for we are used to all this. Our Camp is up on the bluffs over-looking the place, high and dry and we shall be healthy here if anywhere. [paragraph break added]
I have been out in the country to-day on a foraging expedition some 4 miles and in sight of Port Gibson, which was captured on the 1st inst. [May] so I can tell you a little how it looks. We took the road leading from the lower end of of [sic] town ( I say town, but is completely burned up) which cuts circuitously through bluffs. I can tell you better how it looks by saying the country is all hills and the soil rather clayey, with quicksand — a great country to fortify. The inhabitants planted every foot of their ground to corn—no cotton. Now the country is in our hands and we thank them for the corn, as also, the fruit that will be ripe in 6 weeks, peaches and figs. The rebels had no idea they would have to give up all so soon, if at all, but there’s where they made a mistake, for our boys are driving them back to their strong hold every time they make a stand and there is certain victory for them. [paragraph break added]
We can hear the roar of cannon daily and there is no bad news from the front as yet. The report is here our boys have captured a wagon train of 300 wagons loaded with provisions. No rations have left here for a week (, though there is a plenty,) the troops living largely on the rebels. Jackson is in our possession, for a fact, and report says, the bridge on the Big Black; so it says a good deal more, too, but whether true or not, our army is bound to have, Vicksburgh [sic], surely. The soldiers here have unbounded confidence in Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] and say if he was superseded, there would be trouble in the army. I was agreeably surprised at the news, of course. The rebels had good fortifications here, & might have made it another Columbus if they had so tried, but our gunboats are the thing that make them get out of their stron[g]holds. There are 6 or 8,000 darkies here and hundreds more arriving daily. Several negro regiments are organized already & are to be armed. Scores of them come down on the point opposite the mouth of the Big Black river every day, and are taken off to this side in skiffs by their brethern [sic] who are already free. If you, or any body else wish to see the good effect of the [Emancipation] Proclamation, come down here. O it hurts the rebels wonderfully, to array the blacks against them in any capacity. [paragraph break added]
But I must stop for to-night & go to bed, so good night,
President Abraham Lincoln’s May 8, 1863, Proclamation on the Enrollment of Aliens for Military Duty”—Proclamation 101—was published in the May 16, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal. and the same issue of The Polk County Press. The introductory paragraph, copied from the State Journal in Madison, appeared in The Prescott Journal. To the many immigrants who had come to the United States to avoid military duty in Europe, this proclamation was chilling news.
The President’s Proclamation.
We print elsewhere the proclamation of the President in relation to foreigners and the draft. All those who have declared their intentions of becoming citizens of the United States, but have not exercised the rights of suffrage, are allowed sixty-five days from the date of this proclamation to leave the country, otherwise they will have to abide by the draft. This does not exempt those who have voted at any election, whether state or general. The idea of the President is that those who have shared in the benefits of the government, have sought its protection, and exercised the privileges conferred by it, must do their share in upholding and sustaining it. This is certainly correct reasoning, and not injustice to the parties reached and affected by it.—State Journal.
By the President of the United States.
WHEREAS, The Congress of the United States at its last session enacted a law entitled “An act for enrolling and calling out the national forces and for other purposes,” which was approved on the third day of March last; and—
WHEREAS, It is recited in the said act that there now exists in the United States an insurrection and rebellion against the authority thereof, and it is, under the Constitution of the United States, the duty of the Government to suppress insurrection and rebellion, to guarantee to each State a republican form of government, and to preserve the public tranquillity; and—
WHEREAS, For these high purposes a military force is indispensable, to raise and support which all persons ought willingly to contribute; and—
WHEREAS, No service can be more praiseworthy and honorable than that which is rendered for the maintenance of the Constitution and Union and the consequent preservation of free government; and—
WHEREAS, For the reasons thus recited, it was enacted by the said statute that all able-bodied male citizens of the United States and persons of foreign birth who shall have declared on oath their intention to become citizens under and in pursuance of the laws thereof, between the ages of 20 and 45 years, with certain exceptions not necessary to be here mentioned, are declared to constitute the national forces, and shall be liable to perform military duty in the service of the United States when called out by the President for that purpose. And—
WHEREAS, It is claimed by and in behalf of persons of foreign birth within the ages specified in said act who have heretofore declared on oath their intentions to become citizens under and in pursuance of the laws of the United States, and who have not exercised the right of suffrage or any other political franchise under the laws of the United States or of any of the States thereof, that they are not absolutely concluded by their aforesaid declaration of intention from renouncing their purpose to become citizens, and that, on the contrary, such persons, under treaties or the law of nations, retain a right to renounce that purpose and to forego the privileges of citizenship and residence within the United States under the obligations imposed by the aforesaid act of Congress:
Now, therefore, To avoid all misapprehensions concerning the liability of persons concerned to perform the service required by such enactment, and to give it full effect, I do hereby ORDER AND PROCLAIM that no plea of alienage will be received or allowed to exempt from the obligations imposed by the aforesaid act of Congress any person of foreign birth who shall have declared on oath his intention to become a citizen of the United States under the laws thereof, and who shall be found within the United States at any time during the continuance of the present insurrection and rebellion or after the expiration of the period of sixty-five days from the date of this proclamation, nor shall any such plea of alienage be allowed in favor of any such person who has so as aforesaid declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States and shall have exercised at any time the right of suffrage or any other political franchise within the United States under the laws thereof or under the laws of any of the several States.
(signed) ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
By the President,
WM H. SEWARD, Sec. of State.
The big war news this week is General Ulysses S. Grant’s victory at the Battle of Port Gibson on May 1, 1863, which was over-shadowed last week by Chancellorsville. Port Gibson, in Mississippi, was part of Grant’s campaign against Vicksburg. Grant’s victory forced the Confederate army to evacuate Grand Gulf, and ultimately led to the fall of Vicksburg.
WAR NEWS !
Gen. Grant’s Great Victory.
Cincinnati, May 9
The Gazette has a special dispatch from Memphis the 7th, saying that Grant captured Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, and Willard Valley. Grant’s main army on Wednesday was thirty miles up Big Black river, marching on the rear of Vicksburg.
Headquarters Grand Gulf, }
May 3, via Memphis, May 7. }
To Major General Hallack, Gen’l-in-Chief :
We landed at Bowlingsville April 30, and moved immediately for Port Gibson, met the enemy eleven thousand strong four miles south of Port Gibson, at 2 a.m. on the 1st inst., and engaged him all day, entirely routing him, with the loss of many killed and about 5,000 prisoners besides the wounded.
Our loss is about 100 killed and 500 wounded.¹
The enemy retreated towards Vicksburg, destroying the bridges over the two forks of the Bayou Pierre.
These were rebuilt and pursuit has been continued until the present time.
Besides the heavy artillery at this place, four field pieces and some stores were captured, and the enemy was driven to destroy many more.
The country is the most broken and difficult to operate in I ever saw.
Our victory is most complete, and the enemy is thoroughly demoralized.
U. S. Grant, Major Gen. Commanding.
1. The battle of Port Gibson cost Grant 131 killed, 719 wounded, and 25 missing out of 23,000 men engaged. The Confederates suffered 60 killed, 340 wounded, and 387 missing out of 8,000 men engaged. (National Park Service website on Battle of Port Gibson.)
Following are the small items from the May 9, 1863, issues of The Prescott Journal and The Polk County Press.
From The Prescott Journal:
From The Polk County Press:
— Lieut. Col. Hamilton, of the 7th Wisconsin, having been honorably discharged on account of wounds received at the battle of Gainesville, has returned to his home in Milwaukee.²
— An exchange [newspapers] asks the following question:
If a woman marries a man aged between 36 and 45, thus exempting him from the first class of conscripts, which alone is likely to be called out, is she not guilty of “disloyal practices ?”
1. E. B. Quiner in his Military History of Wisconsin states: “On the 2d of May, 1863, companies D, F, I and K were sent to St. Louis, as guards for transports in the Indian Expedition, under General Sully.” The 30th Wisconsin, you may remember, is Colonel Daniel Dill’s regiment, and Company F—the Salomon Tigers—came primarily from Pierce County. Although The Prescott Journal does not seem interested in them, Company D is also from northwestern Wisconsin, being raised primarily from Saint Croix County. (Available in the UWRF Archives E 537 .Q56 1866), this quotation is on page 790. A digital copy is available on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s website.)
2. Charles A. Hamilton, from Milwaukee, was wounded August 15, 1861, at Gainesville. He resigned on March 3, 1863.