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1863 November 21: News from the Knoxville Campaign, Rappahannock Station, and Elsewhere

November 22, 2013

The following summary of the week’s war news is from the November 21, 1863, issue of The Polk County Press.

The second paragraph refers to the Knoxville Campaign. After Union General William S. Rosecrans was defeated at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, General Ambrose E. Burnside was pursued by Confederate General James Longstreet. Burnside skillfully outmaneuvered Longstreet at the Battle of Campbell’s Station on November 16 and was able to reach safety in Knoxville.  Burnside was briefly besieged at Knoxville until the Confederate defeat at the Battle of Fort Sanders on November 29.

The News.

Since the 15th we have received no mail, and so we have not our usual summary of the latest news.  We trust in future to give our readers a full report, as during the winter months, we intend to keep up a full and complete report of “current events.”

The last news we had of General Burnside was of such a nature as to excite the greatest apprehension.  It has been known for some time that the rebels were collecting a large force to overwhelm him and regain East Tennessee.  He has been forced back to Knoxville which indicates their partial success, but we cannot believe that our Government has failed to provide means to hold that country against any force the rebels can muster.

Approaches and Defenses of Knoxville, E. Tennessee, plate 48, map 2 (see footnote 1)

Approaches and Defenses of Knoxville, … During the Siege, plate 48, map 2 (see footnote 1)

The whole number of shot and shell fired at Sumter during the bombardment, is 9,346 of which 7,700 struck her.

James Brown [sic: Joseph E. Brown] was inaugurated Governor of Georgia on the 7th inst.

The Richmond Examiner admits a rebel defeat on the Rappahannock, and that Hanks’ [sic]² and Hays’³ Brigades were captured.

West Indian advices say the rebel pirate Georgia passed Falmouth, Jamaica, Sept. 28th, under full steam.  On the same evening she was believed to have captured a steamer.

The London Morning Star announces that the French Government has information from the United States’ Minister that the authentication for the construction of steam vessels of war, now proved to be building in France for the Confederates, and for certain cannon and munitions of war for their armament had been withdrawn and the parties engaged in the business had been warned of the danger of prosecuting the work.

There had been some little commotion in naval circles in England owing to a rumor that an attempt would be made to take out to sea by force the steam rams in the Mersey.

Orders were received at Plymouth to send a vessel around to Liverpool, and it was stated that after some indecision and countermand of orders the iron plated frigate Prince Consort had started for Liverpool.

In the meantime another gunboat had reached the Mersey on the 28th, and was stationed opposite Leeds with steam up ready to start at a moment’s warning.

1.  From the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, published under the direction of Redfield Proctor, Stephen B. Elkins, and Daniel S. Lamont, Secretaries of War, by George B. Davis, Leslie J. Perry, Joseph W. Kirkley, Board of Publication ; compiled by Calvin D. Cowles (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1891-1895). Available in Special Collections, UWRF University Archives & Area Research Center (E 464 .U6), or digitally at Ohio State University’s eHistory.
2.  This should be Hoke’s Brigade, which at the time of the Second Battle of Rappahannock Station was being led by Archibald C. Godwin (1831-1864). Robert F. Hoke had been severely wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville and was replaced by Colonel Isaac E. Avery (1828-1863). Avery was mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg. Godwin then temporarily assumed command of Hoke’s Brigade and led it back into Virginia. On November 7, 1863, he was captured at Rappahannock Bridge. He was exchanged in 1864, and in August of that year promoted to brigadier general commanding what had formerly been known as Hoke’s Brigade. Hoke himself had been promoted in April 1864 to major general and given command of a division.
3.  Harry Thompson Hays (1820-1876) served in the Mexican War and was a lawyer and politician in Louisiana before the Civil War. He entered the Confederate Army as colonel of the 7th Louisiana Infantry. Hays fought at the First Battle of Bull Run, in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign in 1862, and was severely wounded at the Battle of Port Republic. Hays was promoted to brigadier general in July 1862 and assigned command of the First Louisiana Brigade, which was known as the “Louisiana Tigers.” Hays lost half of his brigade at the Battle of Antietam, and also fought at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. At the Battle of Gettysburg, Hays and his brigade charged up Cemetery Hill in the twilight and overran several artillery batteries before being driven off for lack of support. He was briefly captured in November 1863, at Rappahannock Station, but escaped.

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