This Day in the War: 12/01/10

Sunday Dec. 1 1861

President Abraham Lincoln prepared yet another message to be sent to Gen. George McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac since the 20th of August. McClellan had maneuvered, schemed and backstabbed his predecessor to get this job, and Lincoln knew it. McClellan had also delivered an exceedingly blatant social snub on his President a couple of weeks ago. Now it was payback time. He had his army, and Lincoln wanted to know “just how long would it require to actually get [it] in motion?” Little Mac was learning just how long it was going to take to get this command trained and in shape to wage war. It would never be fast enough for Lincoln.

Monday Dec. 1 1862

In these days the State of the Union message was delivered earlier than it is today. Lincoln addressed Congress, beginning with the usual reports on foreign relations, taxes, revenues and the like. He then proposed three constitutional amendments to accomplish the end of slavery gradually, none of which were enacted and are mostly forgotten today. The language with which he ended his address, on the other hand, is one of the immortal quotes of the English language. “As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew,” Lincoln said. “We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history…..We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of earth.”

Tuesday Dec. 1 1863

The problem of gathering supplies was becoming increasingly difficult for all Southern armies, and the commanding generals were pleading with Jefferson Davis for assistance for the men now mostly in winter camp. Gen. Joe Wheeler, however, commanded a cavalry unit, and he took the approach that God helps a force which helps itself. The difficulty was, his men were helping themselves to the property of their fellow Confederate citizens of North Carolina. Fed up, Gov. Zebulon B. Vance sent a letter of his own to Jeff Davis today, complaining severely about the depredations. “If God Almighty had yet in store another plague for the Egyptians worse than all others, I am sure it must have been a regiment or so of half-armed, half-disciplined Confederate cavalry!” Vance thundered.

Thursday Dec. 1 1864

All U.S. Gen. John Schofield had been trying to do for some time was get back to the main Union fortifications at at Nashville and rejoin Gen. George Thomas. He had been forced to stop and fight the Battle of Franklin, Tenn., yesterday, and the damage inflicted on the Army of Tennessee had been disastrous. Nevertheless, Schofield withdrew and proceeded on, and reached the Tennessee capital today. The Union fortifications there were already substantial, and with the addition of Schofield became well-nigh impregnable. Hood was still in pursuit with the shattered remains of his force, but was too late. His only choices now were to settle in and put Nashville under siege, or bypass it and head North with a huge Union threat at his back.

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