This Day in the War: 12/22/10

Sunday Dec. 22 1861

Theoretically speaking, Missouri should have been a state as calm and peaceful as any in the Union, Confederate and Southern-sympathizing troops having been withdrawn across the Arkansas border after the battle known as Wilson’s Creek. This status was, of course, illusory and the bands of partisans, guerillas, freebooters and plain bandits continued their operations pretty much as they had been doing for the years known as “Bleeding Kansas.” Today the commander of Federal forces in the state, Gen. H. W. Halleck, issued orders that anyone caught burning bridges, damaging railroad tracks or molesting telegraph wires would be summarily executed upon capture.

Monday Dec. 22 1862

Gen. Burnside had not really wanted command of the Union’s Army of the Potomac, but had taken it when ordered. His first battle, Fredericksburg, had been a disaster, poorly coordinated on the flanks and the center consisting of repeated charges uphill in the open against Confederates in prepared defensive works. If that wasn’t bad enough, today he was facing the consequences in a meeting with Lincoln and the cabinet. The President, perhaps realizing that he could not very well condemn a man for failing to do the impossible, called the defeat an “accident” and commended the army for bravery.

Tuesday Dec. 22 1863

The winter continued severe in most parts of the country, and those fortunate enough to have shelter did their best to remain in it as much as possible. Some scouting activity took place in east Tennessee, one of the few parts of the state where Union forces were actually welcomed by a populace which had been opposed to secession from the beginning. Mountain people, it is said, seldom care to take part in the disputes of the flatlanders and wish only that the folk of the lowlands would do likewise.

Thursday Dec. 22 1864

It may be the most famous single statement Gen. William T. Sherman made during the Civil War (what is today known in political circles as a “Sherman Statement”, i.e. “If nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve” was made long afterwards when he was solicited to run for president to succeed Grant.) Today he sent a telegram to President Lincoln saying “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.” The supplies, or at least the guns and ammunition, had been left behind by retreating Confederate forces who today headed further north into South Carolina.

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