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

July 4.—The rebel gunboat Torpedo, formerly the Dragon, came down the James River, Virginia, having on board Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the rebel government. By flag of truce it was reported that Stephens was the bearer of a letter from Jefferson Davis to President Lincoln, and ho requested permission to go to Washington in the Torpedo, to present the letter to President Lincoln in person. This request was declined by the President and Cabinet, but before their determination could be communicated, the Torpedo had left its moorings and proceeded up the James River, without waiting for an answer.—(Docs. 23 and 34.)

—Vicksburg, Miss., was surrendered to the National forces under the command of Major General Grant—(Docs. 25, 36, 94, and 141.)

—Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, “announces to the country, that the news from the army of the Potomac to ten P.M. of the third, is such as to cover the army with the highest honor and promise a great success to the cause of the Union, and to claim the condolence of all for the many gallant fallen, and that for this ho especially desires, on this day, that He whose will, not ours, should ever be done, be everywhere remembered with the profoundest gratitude.”

—The battle of Helena, Ark., was fought this day, by the National troops under the command of Major-General B. M. Prentiss, and the rebels under Generals Marmaduke, Price, and Holmes.— (Docs. 24 and 111.)

—General Sheridan’s division of Rosecrans’s army, in pursuit of General Bragg, crossing the Elk River, Tenn., was thrown forward toward Dechard and Cowan, after reoccupying Winchester. This day he sent his cavalry force, under Colonel Watkins of the Sixth Kentucky, toward the mountains. Near University Place, they encountered the rebel cavalry, killed and wounded forty, routed and drove them three miles up the side of the mountain, and returned with the loss of twelve men. The rebels’ flight was so precipitate, that they threw away every thing which could at all impede them, and their course could be traced for miles by their cast-off equipments and accoutrements.

—Captain Turner, the Commandant at the Libby Prison, at Richmond, Va., received the following order:

“Headquarters Department of Henrico,

“July 4,1863.

“Special Order, No. 160.—Captain T. N. Turner, commanding confederate States prison, is hereby commanded to select, by lot, from among the Federal Captains now in his possession, two of that number for execution. ” John H. Winder,

“Major-General Commanding.”

Captain Turner at once proceeded to carry out the order, and caused all the captains, seventy-five in number, to be assembled in the large room on the first floor. The order commanding the selection of two of them for execution was then read aloud in their presence, by the Captain, and the seventy-five names deposited in a box placed upon a table. Captain Turner inquired if they would designate any particular person to draw from the box, and explained that the two first names drawn would be the parties selected. There was a deep silence for some moments, when one of the captains spoke and named Rev. Mr. Brown, Chaplain of the Fifth Maryland (Yankee) regiment, as their choice. Mr. Brown here stepped forward, from three chaplains in the room, and, evincing considerable emotion, drew the first name from the box, written upon a piece of paper.

Without glancing at the card, he handed it to Captain Turner, who read out: “Henry Washington Sawyer, Captain First New-Jersey cavalry.” Then it was a singular coincidence struck every one present, for Sawyer was the party who named Mr. Brown for the unpleasant duty he was then discharging. Great drops of sweat beaded Sawyer’s brow, as he stepped out from the ranks. The next name was drawn and read out, as before, “John Flinn, Fifty-first Indiana regiment;” and Flinn took his place with Sawyer. The drawing over, the balance of the officers were returned to their quarters, and Sawyer and Flinn taken from the prison to the office of General Winder. Sawyer was talkative, and said if it was his fate, he would stand it. Flinn said but little.—Richmond Examiner, July 8.

—The First North-Carolina (Union) volunteers, Colonel McChesney, returned to Newborn, N. C., from an expedition up the Pungo River, where the regiment captured two large schooners heavily laden with rebel supplies, large numbers of prisoners, horses, cattle, negroes, and several thousand bushels of corn. This regiment effected a landing near Wade’s Point, and moved with great celerity at midnight, taking the enemy everywhere by surprise. Several thousand dollars’ worth of rebel commissary stores were also destroyed.

—Orlando H. Moore, Colonel of the Twenty-fifth regiment of Michigan infantry, commanding at Green River Bridge, Kentucky, was summoned to surrender, by the rebel General John Morgan, when he replied, “that the Fourth day of July was no day to entertain such a proposition,” and immediately after, a fight was commenced by the rebels, which resulted in their defeat and the loss of over fifty killed and two hundred wounded.—(Doc. 44.)

Previous post:

Next post: