Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ON THIS DAY: Thursday, Oct. 10, 1861

From Louisville, Brig. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman wires President Abraham Lincoln. As the new commander of the Department of the Cumberland, which embraces most of Kentucky, Sherman’s nerves are growing more jittery by the day. He jumps the chain of command by writing Lincoln directly to unburden himself of some of his concerns: he expects the Confederates to make a “desperate effort” to capture Kentucky, but Sherman’s “force here or expected is entirely inadequate.” Loyal Kentuckians are failing to assist in the state’s defense, instead demanding protection from local secessionists. Men in Indiana and Ohio are willing to come to Kentucky’s aid, but lack arms and clothing, and Sherman has nothing to give them. The telegram ends with a simple plea: “Answer.”

Elsewhere, Brig. Gen. Ormsby M. Mitchel, the “astronomer-soldier” from Cincinnati, commander of the Department of the Ohio from September 21 until November 15, receives orders to send an expeditionary force into Secessionist eastern Tennessee. Lincoln covets the region because Union loyalists abound there, trapped in a Confederacy they do not support.

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