Sunday, March 2, 2008

ON THIS DAY: Sunday, March 2, 1862

What They Are Doing Now

Ulysses S. Grant, now officially a major general because of his triumphs at Fort Donelson, is busy assembling his forces at Fort Henry. From St. Louis, Maj. Gen. Halleck has ordered an advance up the Tennessee River. Orders go out to two of Grant's division commanders, Generals McClernand and Smith, and messages about logistical matters go to Brig. Gen. Sherman, at Cairo, and Flag Officer Foote, at Fort Donelson. Although Grant’s forces have been weakened by sickness, battle casualties, and lack of supplies, and even though he is sick himself with a severe cold that “nearly destroys my energy” (pneumonia?), the Ohio-born commander uncomplainingly goes about following Halleck’s orders.

After three weeks’ home leave, Lt. Col. Rutherford B. Hayes is getting re-accustomed to army life with the 23rd Ohio in winter quarters, Fayetteville, western Virginia. He is enjoying (and probably sharing) the food he brought from home in his haversack. And he is thinking about his beloved wife, Lucy, to whom he wrote yesterday: “Darling, you will be pleased to know, and so I tell you, I never loved you more than I do as I think of you on my late visit, and I never admired you so much.”

At 10 o’clock this evening, Capt. Marcus Spiegel of the 67th Ohio is writing “My dear dear wife and beloved children,” telling her “it would make you feel good” to see Marcus skillfully leading his men while practicing skirmishing. Spiegel is stationed near the Paw Paw Tunnel, a 3,000-foot brick-lined portion of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The canal runs along the Potomac River, which divides Maryland and western Virginia.

Sgt. Thomas F. Galwey of the 8th Ohio, rusticating elsewhere in western Virginia, is enjoying an unusual treat: “two delightful months” on recruiting duty at Columbus, Ohio—a posting that undoubtedly afforded opportunities for returns home in Cleveland.

In Nashville, Col. William B. Hazen, commander pro tem of Buell’s19th Brigade, has a challenge in his quest to turn raw volunteers into the best soldiers in the army. It is the 9th Indiana, newly arrived from western Virginia and assigned to Hazen’s tender mercies. Expecting more from the regiment’s previous commander, Hazen is disgusted to find that not only is the regiment “far behind the others, but seems fixed in many vicious habits, acquired…in western Virginia.” Hazen is up to task, however: soon, “some severity” is being dispensed, for which a few officers will hold a grudge long after the war.

Sgt. Oscar D. Ladley is enduring the cold winter winds sweeping the fortifications Union volunteers had built atop Cheat Mountain in western Virginia. Col. Robert H. Milroy commands the fort. It is Milroy who is responsible for the 9th Indiana’s sloppy habits, which so dismayed Colonel Hazen.

Pvt. Andrew Altman of the 68th Ohio remains camped near Fort Donelson, Tennessee, wondering where he will be sent next.

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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