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1864 February 6: “Gen. Halleck expresses the belief that the last desperate effort will be made by the rebels in the spring to transfer the real fighting to Northern soil” and Other News Items

February 7, 2014

The following column of war news come from the February 6, 1864, issue of The Prescott Journal.

News Items.

Gen. Wilson,¹ of Gen. Grant’s staff, has been appointed chief of the Cavalry Bureau.  [Ulysses S. Grant]

The small pox is subsiding in Washington and promises soon to disappear.

Generals Hitchcock [Ethan Allen Hitchcock] and Canby [Edward Canby], and Major Halpine, are appointed a board to revise rules and articles of war.

The troops at Fort Gibson are reported on half rations, owing to the defective supply system.  Forage is also very scarce.

The Kansas Legislature have welcomed Gen. Curtis, by a unanimous vote, as a General of military renown and tried loyalty.  [Samuel R. Curtis]

H. Winter Davis² has drawn up a series of resolutions condemning Gen. Banks for his course in ordering an election in Louisiana.  [Nathaniel P. Banks]

It is said that Gen. Augur [Christopher C. Augur] will go into the field, and Gen. Sickles [Daniel E. Sickles] be commander of the defences of Washington.

The ship Contest from Japan, with a cargo of teas for New York was burned by the pirate Alabama in the Indian Ocean.³

An important bill will soon be reported from the House Post Office committee, making the Post Office Department responsible for monies sent by mail.4

Twenty-two Illinois regiments and two batteries have already reported as veteran recruits, and re-enlistments are rapidly progressing.

The Charleston Courier of Tuesday says the bombardment of the city continues, but the damage is very small considering the number and weight of shots fired.

The Emigration Committee will probably recommend the sending of commissioners to Northern Europe, to facilitate the enormous emigration expected this year.

A Washington special says it is now certain that a serious mutiny occurred in the rebel camp near Stevensburg, Va., on Saturday.5—Deserters say a regiment attempted to desert, and a serious affray occurred.

 A special to the Times says that Gen. Grant will issue an address to the people of Arkansas, urging them to return to their allegiance, and declaring, as slavery is dead, there is nothing left for the South to fight for.

A special to the Tribune says Gen. Halleck expresses the belief that the last desperate effort will be made by the rebels in the spring to transfer the real fighting to Northern soil.  [Henry W. Halleck]

The Herald’s Washington dispatch says :  It is understood that California and Oregon will soon be formed into a military department, the forces there raised to be at least ten full regiments.  It is expected a Major General will be sent there from the Atlantic States.

A special to the Commercial from Chattanooga, Jan. 21, says :  The rebel orders requiring soldiers to serve 3 years more, are causing hundreds to desert.  Fifty-six cam in to-day in one squad.  One division left the rebel lines yesterday to reinforce Mobile.

The Senate, in Executive session, has confirmed the nomination of Charles A. Dana as second assistant Secretary of War.

The World’s special says :  The President [Abraham Lincoln] to-day notified the Arkansas delegation that he had instructed Gen. Steele [Frederick Steele] to order an election for Governor of that State at once.  The regular election of State officers and Congressmen will follow.  Over 7,000 citizens of the State have taken the oath of allegiance.

The Petersburg Express of the 22d [January] says seven hospital buildings at Camp Winder, near Richmond were burned yesterday.  A large quantity of stores and clothing were destroyed.  An unsuccessful attempt was made to burn the Presidential Mansion in Richmond on Tuesday last.

Deserters say Lee’s army is widely scattered but they do not believe any portion of it has been sent off—they are certain no troops have been sent from their immediate command.  They represent forage as difficult to obtain and that the forces are reduced in number and efficiency, also that no supplies are received by Lee’s army in advance of its actual necessities.  [Robert E. Lee]

Capt. Samuel Black, Quartermaster, is sentenced by a court martial at Louisville to be dismissed from the service, with a loss of pay and allowances due, and to pay a fine of $10,000 and be imprisoned two years.  The charges were neglect and violation of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer, making false reports, &c.

Gen. Halleck having replied in the negative to Secretary Chase’s inquiry as to whether they would be danger of supplies reaching the rebels if trade restrictions were removed from the States of Kentucky and Missouri, Mr. Chase has prescribed and the President has sanctioned regulations opening those States to unrestricted commercial intercourse.  The same policy will soon be followed in Delaware and Maryland.  [Salmon P. Chase]

General Pleasanton [sic: Alfred Pleasonton] of the cavalry has issued an order to the effect that no excuse will hereafter be accepted for surprise or capture under plea that the enemy is in our uniform, as no person will be allowed to approach within rifle shot until their character is ascertained.  Officers surprised will be recommended for dismissal and privates be tried by court martial should they prove responsible.  Rebels wearing our uniform caught in the act of making war against our forces are ordered to be shot on the spot.

1.  James Harrison Wilson (1837-1925) graduated from West Point in 1860. He was  topographical engineer before the Civil War, and for the Port Royal Expeditionary Force (September 1861-March 1862). As the topographical engineer for the Department of the South, he took part in the Battle of Fort Pulaski. He transferred to the Army of the Potomac in April 1862 and served as its topographic engineer, but also as an aide-de-camp to General George B. McClellan. He served under McClellan during the Maryland Campaign and was present at the battles of South Mountain and Antietam. Wilson was transferred to General Grant’s Army of the Tennessee as a lieutenant colonel and topographical engineer, and during the Vicksburg Campaign, he was the inspector general of Grant’s army. In October 1863, he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers, the only officer ever promoted to troop command from Grant’s regular staff. He continued on staff duty during the Battle of Chattanooga and was chief engineer of the force sent to relieve Knoxville. In 1864, he transferred from engineering to the cavalry, where he displayed notable leadership in many engagements of the Overland campaign, though his attempt to destroy Lee’s supply-line failed. At the Battle of Franklin, he became one of the few commanders ever to defeat the legendary cavalry leader Nathan Bedford Forrest, helping to secure decisive Union victory in that campaign. Later, in Georgia, he captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
2.  Henry Winter Davis (August 16, 1817 – December 30, 1865) was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland. He was a well-known aggressive Radical Republican during the Civil War.
3.  Click on the tag for the “CSS Alabama (Ship)” at the top of this post to see other posts about the Confederate Alabama.
4.  We know from their letters that Edwin and Homer Levings regularly send part of their pay home to their parents by mail, as did many soldiers.
5.  The Journal was published on Saturdays, so February 6, 1864, was a Saturday. The previous Saturday would have been January 30.

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