This Day in the War: 11/22/10

Friday Nov. 22 1861
CONFEDERATES CHANGE CABINET COMPOSITION

The last few days had been unsettled ones for the upper levels of the Jefferson Davis government. LeRoy Pope Walker had been the original Secretary of War. His time in office had been productive, but he found it personally and professionally frustrating that he was continually bypassed as Davis and generals in the field communicated directly. Finally he had submitted his resignation. His replacement had been named yesterday: Judah Benjamin. Formerly a United States Senator from Louisiana, Benjamin was the first Jew to hold a cabinet position in America. He was moving up from the office of Attorney General, and to replace him in that position was Thomas Bragg, brother of Confederate general Braxton Bragg.

Saturday Nov. 22 1862
CONFEDERATE CABINET CHANGES CONTINUE

Judah Benjamin’s term of service as Secretary of War would last less than half a year. In March he moved up to the Secretary of State’s chair, being replaced by George Randolph. Randolph was himself to last no longer, being sacked yesterday. His replacement was now announced: prominent Richmond lawyer, former US and Confederate member of the House of Representatives James A. Seddon. Seddon, by all accounts, was the most peaceful of men, but proved to be one of the more effective occupants of the War Secretary’s chair. The perpetual problems for occupants of the office was that they had responsibility but little authority: President Jefferson Davis was really doing this job as well as his own.

Sunday, Nov. 22 1863
MOMENTOUS MISSIONARY MOVEMENTS MASSING

At Missionary Ridge in Georgia various forces were preparing for action, but not everyone was preparing properly for the action they were going to face. On the Confederate side, Gen. Braxton Bragg of the Army of Tennessee detached Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner to Knoxville to support James Longstreet. Longstreet, himself on detached duty from the Army of Northern Virginia, had Ambrose Burnside’s forces under siege there and hoped to defeat him entirely. Meanwhile on the Union side, U.S. Grant was ordering Gen. George Thomas to perform a “demonstration” in front of Missionary Ridge. A form of preliminary probing before a battle, this helped to detect the enemy’s positions while giving away little about the attacker’s strength and location. Bragg was very shortly going to wish he had Longstreet back.

Tuesday Nov. 22 1864
GEORGIA GOVERNMENT GETS GOING

Throughout the War for Southern Independence, Georgia Governor Joe Brown had been more independent than most. Requests from his nation’s president for troops to defend the overall interests of the new nation had frequently been ignored; requests for the products of Georgia’s munitions industries had been likewise turned down on many occasions. Today it was sweet Georgia’s Brown who was in dire need of assistance, and there was none to be had. Gen. Slocum’s wing of William Tecumseh Sherman’s army occupied the state capitol of Milledgeville on this date. The last act of the Legislature was to pass a act for a “mass levy”, essentially drafting every citizen to come to the state’s defense. After passing this action they adjourned the session and fled for their lives.

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