Part II of a two-part series
By Don White
A fter Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee took command in the south he made major changes, and many high ranking officers were shifted to other theatres. The army would now be called the Army of Northern Virginia and was organized into two corps. Command of the 1st Corps was given to Gen. Long street and the 2nd Corps was given to Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Special Orders No. 234 VIII issued on Nov. 6, 1862 confirmed these assignments.
T here was a long list of the "Manassa men" who would disappear by death or transfer. It was now without question, Lee's army and would be until the surrender at Appomattox. The cavalry command was given to Gen. Stuart. The artillery organization was not changed as each brigade had its own battery.
J ust as Lee's promotion would change the course of events, so too did Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's future take a turn for the better when Halleck was called east to become general-in-chief. Grant, who after Shiloh was ready to leave the Army, now had more freedom to conduct the war in the west his way.
T he two presidents and government officials were kept busy this year as well. In Richmond, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was directing the war effort, all-the-while working to get the Confederacy up and running as a country. Not gaining recognition from Europe was a fatal blow to the cause. The south did get help, with supplies and vessels as well as a Confederate Bond issue secured by cotton with Emile Erlanger and Co., a Parisian banking house. Confederate Commissioner John Slidell negotiated this loan in October 1862 and it was approved by the congress on Jan. 29, 1863. It could have generated as much as $14.55 million but it only was somewhere between $ million and $8 million.
I n Richmond on Feb. 22, 1862, Davis and Vice President Stephens were inaugurated for a second time. The Confederate Constitution and presidency became permanent on this day. On March 1 Davis proclaimed martial law in Richmond, and pro-North sympathizers were arrested.
C abinet members came and went in the Davis administration. On March 13 he moved Secretary Benjamin from War to State, a post he would hold until the war ended. The new Secretary of War was George Randolph, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson. Randolph soon convinced Davis to approve a Conscription Act, which called for all men 18 to 35 to serve in the military for three years.
D uring the year, the Union blockade became more effective. On Aug. 3 the British vessel Columbia, carrying weapons and munitions bound for the Confederacy, was captured near the Bahamas.
D uring the war a number of women served the cause in many ways. Women from the south who became spies included Rose O'Neal Greenhow, Belle Boyd, Lily Mackall, Ellie Poole, Elizabeth Carraway Howland, Laura Ratcliffe, Antonia Ford, Nancy Hart, Mary Overhall, Mollie Tynes, Olivia Floyd and Elizabeth Waring Duckett.
U .S. President Abraham Lincoln was just as busy as his counterpart in the south. Lincoln had trouble with Secretary of War Cameron, and in January convinced him to resign and then named him minister to Russia, which Cameron did not accept. (During the Civil War, Russia was one of the United States' key allies.) Cameron was replaced by Edwin Stanton, who was a true patriot. Although Lincoln and Stanton had their differences, they worked together to preserve the Union.
S adness came to the White House on Feb. 20 when Lincolns' son, William, died of typhoid fever. Willie was his parents' favorite and I don't believe that Mrs. Lincoln ever fully recovered from his death. Mr. Lincoln had to mourn and get back to work. During the war, Gen. George Sherman, Secretary Stanton and Jefferson Davis all lost young sons. It was a time of horrendous sorrow that spared no one.
I n March, Andrew Johnson was appointed military governor of Tennessee with a commission of brigadier general of volunteers. Even though Tennessee seceded from the union, Johnson kept his seat and adhered to the Union. In 1864 he would become vice president of the United States, and in April 1865 he became president.
T he Homestead Act was passed on May 20. It gave any citizen over 21, man or woman, 160 acres of public land. To secure a title, the law required the pioneer to live on the property for five years, make improvements and pay $10 in legal fees. By 1864 over 1 million acres had been claimed.
O ther than the fighting that occurred during the year, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22 was the most significant moment of the Year for either the north or south. The proclamation, to become effective on Jan. 1, 1863, declared that all slaves in rebellious sections were free. The slaves did not rebel, they just began showing up at Union lines. Almost 200,000 joined the U.S. Army, and most served with distinction. After this, no European nation seriously considered intervening on behalf of the Confederacy.
A s most of the armies went into winter quarters, Christmas came and went, but there was no end in sight for the war.
Don White is a resident of Palos Hills.