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On Independence Day 1862, the Northern commanders who had fought at Shiloh were located, thus:

  • U.S. Grant                                    at his new HQ in Memphis
  • W.T. Sherman                               Moscow, Tennessee (rebuilding the M & C R.R. for Federal use)
  • Henry Halleck                               at his HQ in Corinth
  • Stephen Hurlbut                           La Grange, Tennessee (rebuilding the M & C R.R.)
  • John McClernand                         Jackson, Tennessee (rebuilding the Mobile & Ohio R.R.)
  • Lew Wallace                                 on furlough at Indianapolis... never to return to Army of the Tennessee.
  • B.M. Prentiss                                incarcerated with 200 Federal officers at Madison, Georgia
  • D.C. Buell                                     moving east with Army of the Ohio; with present HQ at Huntsville, Alabama
  • George Thomas                           Tuscumbia, Alabama.

Celebrations in the field [wherever military operations could be safely "put on hold" for the day] involved "34-gun salutes" ...one gun for every State in the Union, including Kansas, and those Southern States in rebellion. Shooting competitions and other games were engaged; with a "special meal" at Noon (called Dinner in the Army.)

Newspapers of the period acknowledged the significance of the Day -- on both sides -- although the South did not celebrate. The Richmond Daily Dispatch of July 4th boldly alludes to "the apparent intention of our enemy at Washington to have McClellan occupy Richmond on, or before, the 4th of July... and that scheme has come to nought."  The July 5th edition focused on the Constitution of the United States; and Virginian, Patrick Henry's, warning not to ratify the document, as "we might simply replace one tyrant with another."

Of course, the Northern papers were more receptive to calls for celebration: the July 3rd Daily Evansville Journal planned "a Grand Illumination, to begin at midnight of the 3rd, and which would involve fireworks and music, followed by a Grand Lunch at 9am on Independence Day [and which was sponsored by the business owners of Evansville, Indiana.]" The Chicago Tribune for July 4th proclaimed the "undeniable progress of McClellan towards Richmond," and advocated for a celebration "of bonfires and illumination [as proposed proper by John Adams]; and further called for "ringing of bells and firing of guns... because we cherish the Declaration of Independence."

Individual soldiers recorded in letters and diaries their personal 4th of July experiences: Turner Bailey [3rd Iowa, Co.A] recalls in his diary being on furlough in Ohio, at his pre-Iowa home of Berlin [midway between Akron and Zanesville] where he "attended the local celebrations; sent up paper balloons; had a family dinner; and saw the fireworks in the evening." Thomas Christie [Munch's Minnesota Battery] was at Corinth on the day, and reports participating in " ... the 34-gun salute, followed by firing a Hotchkiss shell into a big white oak, just to see the effect." However, Sergeant William Storr's experience was similar to many: based at Moscow, Tennessee, the 77th Ohio was sent south on June 30th for a reconnaissance against Holly Springs; the regiment returned to Moscow on July 7th (with no record in Storr's diary of anything special on July 4th.)

Hoping your 4th of July for 2017 involves fireworks, baseball, and a Grand Picnic... weather permitting.



N.B.  Almost forgot the Navy... Flag Officer Davis reported to Navy Secretary Welles on July 4th that, "General Williams will have his canal to bypass Vicksburg finished tomorrow."  And General Halleck received his own "special telegram" on Independence Day -- direct from President Lincoln: "Can you spare 10,000 troops from vicinity of Corinth for use at Washington?"


References:  SDG various diaries and letters [put "diary" in Search Box at top of Home Page.]

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86059058/1862-07-03/ed-1/seq-1/  Daily Evansville Journal for July 3rd 1862

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84031490/1862-07-04/ed-1/seq-2/  Chicago Tribune for July 4th 1862

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84028645/1862-07-04/ed-1/seq-1/  Ohio Statesman for July 4th [Declaration of Independence on Page 1]

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84024738/1862-07-04/ed-1/seq-2/  Richmond Daily Dispatch for July 4th [page 2]

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84024738/1862-07-05/ed-1/seq-2/  Richmond Daily Dispatch for July 5th [page 2]

OR (Navy) Volume 23

OR 10 (part 2) Correspondence



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The Loss of Union General Moe Mentham 

Never heard of him? That's because "Moe Mentham" is just a play on the word, "momentum" (which gets reintroduced into the discussion every so often, usually in the form of "momentum shift" or "loss of momentum.") And momentum is reintroduced now -- right here -- because it is this author's belief that the potentially fatal loss of momentum experienced by the North occurred on or about July 4th 1862.

Consider these points:

  • By this date, McClellan had been stymied in his Peninsula Campaign against Richmond (and would soon be withdrawn)
  • The experiment involving President Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton, acting as General-in-Chief of the Army, failed. 
  • Farragut faltered: after his brilliant success of April 1862 in the taking of New Orleans, Farragut moved past Vicksburg (believing his goal was merely to effect a join with Flag Officer Foote); sent Porter with his mortar flotilla to Mobile (where the available 13-inch ammunition was mostly used up in bombarding the Mobile Bay forts); and left Butler behind in New Orleans (instead of that Army Commander and his force of 15000 being sent to Jackson Mississippi, as originally envisioned)
  • General John Pope was withdrawn from the Western Theatre on or about June 27th (after pursuit of Beauregard/Bragg was halted just short of Tupelo Mississippi)
  • General Buell was also withdrawn from vicinity of Corinth -- after involvement with the same pursuit of Beauregard -- and sent East (with too many missions, which included rebuilding the Memphis & Charleston R.R. and holding Chattanooga and taking control of East Tennessee...)
  • A few days after July 4th Henry Halleck was called to Washington (and realized a personal goal to become General-in-Chief)
  • And U.S. Grant was returned to Command... by default -- due departure of Halleck and everyone else -- with no clear mission, for the moment.

Nature abhors a vacuum:  a few insightful Confederate leaders read the situation correctly and merely took the initiative.

My thoughts



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Perry Cuskey started a topic a few years ago in Wrapin' about the War that he titled, "Turning Point: 1862." I've just expanded on his excellent insight and offer a date that suggests the moment "it all came unstuck for the Union" and they lost momentum... and added a couple more years to the duration of the War.

All the best





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