Washington: On August 18, President Lincoln
fired a few test rounds of the new Spencer Repeating Carbine, which would
later give the Northern forces a distinct advantage against Confederate muzzle-loaders.
Richmond: On August 1, President Davis offered amnesty to those
away without leave, in an effort to fill thinning ranks. On August 8, Lee
wrote Davis offering to resign; the offer was, of course, rejected.
Eastern theater: The last major engagement before August of 1863
was the Battle of Gettysburg, which was fought July 1, 2, and 3, 1863.
Cavalry forces skirmished again at Brandy Station. There was generally
little activity in August, 1863, as the two armies continued to recover from
the major battle at Gettysburg.
The next major engagement was the Battle of the Wilderness in May of 1864.
Western theater: The last major engagement ended with the surrender
of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863.
On August 1, Union forces in Charleston Harbor began organizing efforts
to try to retake Fort Sumter. On the 4th, Federals in Charleston prepared
the "Swamp Angel" for service; it was a 200-pound Parrott gun that fired
incendiary shells. On the 11th, these Federal efforts were forced to stop
by heavy firing from Fort Sumter and Battery Wagner, but Federal efforts
resumed the next day, supported by accuarate Parrott guns.
On August 16, the Chickamauga Campaign finally began as Union General Rosecrans
began moving his Army of the Cumberland east from Tullahoma toward the Tennessee
River; the objective was Confederate General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee.
At the same time, Union General Burnside left the Lexington, Kentucky, area
and headed for eastern Tennessee. Bragg, not wanting to be sandwiched between
these forces, began reorganizing his troops and requested reinforcements.
Union Generals Thomas and McCook were brought up to threaten Bragg's railroad
On the 17th, Union guns began to hit Sumter, but while its walls were beginning
to fail, there were no holes that could be used to enter the fort.
On the 21st, Rosecrans's forces reached the Tennessee River outside Chatanooga.
Also on the 21st, 400 irregular Southern soldiers under Willliam Clarke
Quantrill raided Lawrence, Kansas, killing 150 and leaving the town in burned
ruins. (See the Official Record of the Month below.)
On the 22d, the "Swamp Angel" blew itself up firing its 36th round; it did
more damage to Union gun crews than the Confederates! On the 23rd, Union
guns stopped firing on Sumter, which was in ruins but still in Confederate
hands. On August 25th, a Union effort to overrun the Southern rifle pits
below Battery Wagner failed, but a similar effort the next day succeeded.
On the 30th, Federal guns again hit Fort Sumter, and the Southern forces
began digging the guns out of the rubble to move into Charleston for its later
The next major engagement was the Battle of Chickamauga on September 19
and 20, 1863.
Naval: On August 6, the CSS Alabama captured the Federal bark Sea
Bride near the Cape of Good Hope. On August 29, the experimental Confederate
submarine H.L. Hunley sank on a test cruise in Charleston Harbor, killing
its five crewmen. (The ship was later raised and saw further action.)
Source: The Civil War Day By Day, edited by John S. Bowman, 1989.
Official Record of the Month
LEAVENWORTH, KANS., August
Saint Louis, Mo.:
SIR: Disaster has again fallen on our State.
Lawrence is in ashes. Millions of property have been destroyed, and, worse
yet, nearly 200 lives of our best citizens have been sacrificed. No fiends
in human shape could have acted with more savage barbarity than did Quantrill
and his band in their last successful raid. I must hold Missouri responsible
for this fearful, fiendish raid. No body of men large as that commanded by
Quantrill could have been gathered together without the people residing in
Western Missouri knowing everything about it. Such people cannot be considered
loyal, and should not be treated as loyal citizens; for while they conceal
the movements of desperadoes like Quantrill and his followers, they are, in
the worst sense of the word, their aiders and abettors, and should be held
equally guilty. There is no way of reaching these armed ruffians while the
civilian is permitted to cloak him.
There can be no peace in Missouri, there will be utter desolation in
Kansas, unless both are made to feel promptly the rigor of military law.
The peace of both States and the safety of the republic demand alike this
resolute course of action. I urge upon you, therefore, the adoption of this
policy, as the only policy which can save both Western Missouri and Kansas;
for if this policy be not immediately adopted, the people themselves, acting
upon the common principle of self-defense, will take the matter in their
own hands and avenge their own wrongs. You will not misunderstand me. I
do not use, or intend to use, any threats. I tell you only what our people
almost to a man feel. The excitement over the success of Quantrill is intense--intense
all over the State--and I do not see how I can hesitate to demand, or how
you can refuse to grant, a court of inquiry by which the cause of that fatal
success may be fully investigated, and all the facts laid before the public.
I go even further. I demand that this court of inquiry shall have power to
investigate all matter touching military wrong-doings in Kansas, and I do
this most earnestly, to guarantee alike our present and future safety.
As regards arms, we are destitute. There are none at the fort, and none
in the State. I telegraphed the Secretary of War this fact asking him to
turn over to me here arms in sufficient quantity to meet our wants. He ordered
it done, and replied, further, that anything the Government could do to aid
Kansas should be done. This being so, will you not express to me arms for
cavalry and infantry sufficient to arm three regiments?
I inclose the copy of the dispatch of the Secretary of War to me, that
you may see its purport and understand its spirit.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOS. CARNEY, Governor.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXII/1 [S# 32]
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