Saturday, March 1, 2008

ON THIS DAY: Saturday, March 1, 1862

“One of the greatest men of the age”

From St. Louis, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, commander of the department of the Missouri and Grant’s superior, sends Grant orders to move back to Fort Henry. Grant is ordered to prepare an expedition against the Confederates by moving up the Tennessee River. Grant will receive these orders tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Grant keeps busy at Fort Donelson with housekeeping duties. One dispatch goes to Halleck’s assistant adjutant general in St. Louis. Interestingly, it remarks, “I have informed the Gen. Comdg. Dept. generally through the chief of staff, every day since leaving Cairo of my wants [and] what information was obtained of movements of the enemy….” This remark will achieve significance with a couple of days.

Grant emphatically reiterates his needs: he now has a “very weak force,” debilitated by loss in battle, sickness, and lack of supplies.

Grant also writes Julia, now in Covington, Kentucky, enclosing $700 and promising to send a $100 a month “for your support,” to be followed in time by $400 a month. Grant wants Julia to save as much as she can so when the war ends they will have “a few hundred dollars at least independent of anybody."

Always mindful of his family, he asks Julia to tell his “dear children” that “their pa thinks of them every day notwithstanding he has so much else to think about.”

He mentions the weak condition of his army and his lack of supplies, but adds, “Not that I have any fault to find with Gen. Halleck. On the contrary, I regard him as one of the greatest men of the age.” Soon, Grant will have reason to revise his opinion.

ELSEWHERE IN THE CIVIL WAR: Confederates in the Western Theater are frantically rearranging their scanty number of troops to prepare for Union attacks, which they anticipate—correctly—will take place along the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers. Beauregard is concentrating his troops at Columbus, Kentucky, and Island No.10, both on the Mississippi, and Johnston is moving from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to Corinth, Mississippi.

IT’S COMING SOONER THAN YOU THINK: April 12, 2011—less than 3½ years from now!—will be the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1861, April 12 was the day Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

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