Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

January 19.—President Lincoln addressed a letter to the workingmen of Manchester, England, acknowledging the receipt of an address and resolutions adopted by them at a meeting held at Manchester on the 31st of December, 1862. In closing his letter the President said: “I do not doubt that the sentiments you have expressed will be sustained by your great nation; and, on the other hand, I have no hesitation in assuring you that they will excite admiration, esteem, and the most reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American people. I hail this interchange of sentiment, therefore, as an augury that, whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exist between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.”—(Doc. 119.)

—The Third battalion of the Fifth Pennsylvania cavalry, commanded by Major Wm. G. McCandless, made a reconnoissance in the direction of Barnesville, Va., thoroughly scouting all the roads branching from the Williamsburgh and Richmond turnpike. Two companies which remained on the turnpike, under the command of Captain Cameron, having been sent forward as an advance-guard, Lieutenant H. A. Vezin, with eighteen men, detained twelve as a reserve, and ordered Sergeant Anderson, with six men, to march two hundred yards in advance of the column, to act as videttes, and if attacked by a superior force, to fall back on the column. Thus the squadron marched to within one mile of “Burnt Ordinary,” when a party of seventy or eighty mounted rebels appeared, drawn up in line across the Richmond road. Sergeant Anderson ordered his men to fall back, but immediately in his rear appeared some twenty rebels drawn up in line, cutting off the Sergeant and his party, and capturing the whole advance. Seeing his critical position, he put spurs to his horse and succeeded in cutting his way back to Lieutenant Vezin and his reserve, giving that officer the alarm, who immediately ordered his twelve men to draw sabre, charge and give the rebels the cold steel. Here was daring with scarce a parallel in the war. One Lieutenant, one sergeant, and twelve men charging nearly a hundred rebels drawn up in line of battle. Dashing forward, they broke the rebel ranks, and captured all their companions but one, together with four rebels and five horses fully equipped.

—This afternoon, in lat. 23° 50′, long. 84° 17′, tho brig Estelle was captured and burned by the rebel privateer Oreto (Florida) under the command of Captain J. N. Maffit.—The army of the Potomae, under the command of General Burnside, broke camp and began to move down to the fords on the Rappahannock, for the purpose of crossing to the south bank of that river, and attacking the rebel army under General Lee.— (Doc. 110.)

—A debate took place in the rebel House of Representatives on President Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation, and the proposition of Jefferson Davis to execute Federal officers in retaliation. On this occasion Mr. Foote of Mississippi, said he preferred, in lieu of retaliatory measures, as suggested by the resolutions, that an attempt should be made to stop the shedding of blood by a movement to bring about peace. It would strengthen the friends of peace at the North, and perhaps have the effect of producing a state of things so much desired, notwithstanding the opposition of the abolition party. He signified his intention to offer a resolution hereafter—not for the purpose of yielding one inch of ground to the North, but to throw the entire responsibility upon the Federal government, if these scenes of blood were to continue. Mr. Dargan, of Alabama, took the ground that powers at war must retaliate. The resolutions contemplated the turning over of captured officers to the State governments and to let them be punished according to their laws. He did not think that was correct, but suggested that the government should take the responsibility itself. Mr. Lyons, of Virginia, said the government had no power to turn captured officers over to the States. Nor was there any necessity for the resolutions, since the (rebel) President said in his message that he would do it, unless prevented by Congress. He favored the passage of a law prohibiting such a course, and to repose the power of retaliation entirely in the hands of the government. When an officer was captured, if there should be any cause for retaliation, we might retaliate upon him; if not, we were bound to exchange him. He could not, by any law of nations, when captured by one government, be turned over to another government for trial. He would prefer that any officer captured in any State after the promulgation of the emancipation proclamation should be instantly hanged, and not subject him to the uncertainties of a trial by jury.— Mr. Kenner, of Louisiana, moved that the House go into secret session to receive the report on this subject of the Committee of Ways and Means. The motion was agreed to, and the House went into secret session.

Previous post:

Next post: