This Week in the Civil War: Aug 5-11, 1863

Wednesday, August 5.  President Lincoln wrote to General Nathaniel Banks, commander of the Federal Department of the Gulf: “For my own part I think I shall not, in any event, retract the emancipation proclamation; nor, as executive, ever return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.”

In Arkansas, General Frederick Steele assumed command of Federal troops at Helena. On the South Carolina coast, Confederates strengthened defenses at Fort Sumter and Battery Wagner in Charleston Harbor. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, and Mississippi.

Thursday, August 6.  In accordance with President Lincoln’s proclamation, the northern states observed a day of thanksgiving for the recent Federal victories. Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to South Carolina Governor M.L. Bonham pledging relief for Charleston, “which we pray will never be polluted by the footsteps of a lustful, relentless, inhuman foe.”

C.S.S. Alabama captured Sea Bride amidst cheers off the Cape of Good Hope. In Virginia, John S. Mosby’s Confederate raiders captured a Federal wagon train near Fairfax Court House. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia.

Friday, August 7.  President Lincoln refused New York Governor Horatio Seymour’s request to suspend the military draft, explaining, “My purpose is to be, in my action, just and constitutional; and yet practical, in performing the important duty, with which I am charged, of maintaining the unity, and the free principles of our common country.” Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Missouri.

Saturday, August 8.  General Robert E. Lee submitted his resignation as commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to President Davis. Lee was in poor health, and he blamed himself for the defeat at Gettysburg in July. Lee wrote, “I, therefore, in all sincerity, request your excellency to take measures to supply my place.”

On the South Carolina coast, Federals continued building approaches to Battery Wagner, using calcium lights to work at night. Off the Florida coast, U.S.S. Sagamore seized four prizes. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Sunday, August 9.  In a letter to General Ulysses S. Grant at Vicksburg, President Lincoln wrote that black troops were “a resource which, if vigorously applied now, will soon close the contest.” Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Monday, August 10.  In Arkansas, Frederick Steele’s Federals began advancing on Little Rock from Helena. Thirteenth Corps was transferred from Ulysses S. Grant’s army at Vicksburg to Carrollton, Louisiana. In Texas, Confederate regiments mutinied at Galveston due to lack of rations and furloughs, but order was quickly restored.

President Lincoln wrote to General William S. Rosecrans, commanding the Federal Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee, “I have not abated in my kind feeling for and confidence in you… Since Grant has been entirely relieved by the fall of Vicksburg, by which (Confederate General Joseph E.) Johnston (in Mississippi) is also relieved, it has seemed to me that your chance for a stroke, has been considerably diminished…” Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana and Missouri.

Tuesday, August 11.  On the South Carolina coast, Confederate artillery at Battery Wagner, Fort Sumter, and James Island pounded entrenched Federals. In Virginia, Confederates captured a Federal wagon train near Annandale.

After pondering Robert E. Lee’s resignation, President Davis refused, stating, “our country could not bear to lose you.” A pro-Union meeting voiced support for the Federal war effort at Washington, North Carolina.

Primary Source: The Civil War Day by Day by E.B. Long and Barbara Long (New York, NY: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971)

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