The second week of March 1863 proves to be a relatively quiet one on the battle front. However, there are still events taking place that are consequential.
On March 10, President Lincoln offered a proclamation to all soldiers who may have taken the high road and left their commands. These men were given until April 1, 1863, to report to their units and suffer no ill consequence, or be placed on the deserted list and arrested on site and tried for desertion.
On March 11, the rebels continued preparing for the federal troops to move on Vicksburg, Miss. They constructed what was referred to as Fort Pemberton on the Yalobusha River and fortified it with large cannon in order to repel the naval forces heading south.
After six days of continuous firing, Gen. Loring's Southern troops were able to repel the Northern gunboats and thus stall the Vicksburg Campaign of Gen. Grant's.
On March 13, a massive explosion rocked the Confederate Ordnance Laboratory at Brown's Island near Richmond. The result was 69 female factory workers killed and production halted - a big blow to the Confederates.
Additional naval activities in and around Baton Rouge, La., on March 14, occurred as Adm. David Farragut's fleet pounded the garrison there. The rebels replied with force destroying the USS Mississippi and forcing the USS Monongahela and Richmond to retire after receiving extensive damage.
Two vessels made it past Port Hudson - the USS Hartford and Albatross. In all, the Union lost 65 sailors.
On the 15th, the federal blockade off Wilmington, N.C., is penetrated by the British ship Britannia.
From a local standpoint, some of the Trumbull County men were still garrisoned at Dumfries, Va., for winter quarters. These men had time to read many of the northern newspapers and were not shy in commenting on the political and moral issues.
Obviously, it was frustrating times for all the troops. The following letters are typical of the mood in camp.
The Sandusky Register published an extract from a captain of the Seventh Ohio, in which the writer expresses the patriotism that pervades that portion of the Army.
March 12, 1863
People need not be afraid of the demoralization of the Army, so long as the proper spirit is shown at home. The demoralization there is the rope line of danger. It has looked cloudy some of this time in that direction, but I think it is clearing up somewhat now. Copperheads never can become very general.
A short address was read before the Regiment - which is intended for publication as a sort of expression of our feelings here, and you will probably see it in the Cleveland papers. It received a full and hearty vote of the men, and I was little surprise that the feeling manifested, as where men have been so long in the service it has grown to be the fashion to set down any expression of patriotism as indicative of greenness.
But with this inclination to talk patriotism, which is looked upon as a sort of highfalutin, there is no lack at all of the real article, and people at home need not fear for soldiers so long as they are true to themselves.
Lorain County News
April 8, 1863
From the Seventh, OVI
March 23, 1863
Twice lately, a general order has been issued for the Army of the Potomac to be ready for a forward movement. But an unfortunate storm each time left us stuck in the mud. When we shall move more depends on the clerk of the weather.
Talk of cotton being king; talk of corn being king; or of the 'almighty dollar' being the ruler of the destinies of our race: yet, deny it who can, no greater monarch controls the movements of our grand armies, depreciates the currency, dispirits of people, encourages the Copperheads and puts everything into a deadlock more than this same monster mud.
With the exception of the Ninth Corps removed to Newport News and the division of Pennsylvania reserves sent back for duty into the Department of Washington the Army of the Potomac is as strong as ever to strike for justice and right.
Notwithstanding, the slanders of the Copperhead journals, there is scarcely a regiment in the whole army but would jump at the chance to go home to enforce the Conscription Act.
And every true soldier feels as loathing on unutterable for those so craven in heart, so contemptible in action, so mean and disposition, so unworthy of the name of man asked to leave for Canada to evade the draft! The logic of events will soon decide whether such beings shall be brought to judgment before the bar of outraged patriotism. With Hooker, Grant, Rosecrans, Hunter, and Banks all waiting for a signal to strike, who can tell what day may bring forth?
A letter to the Warren Constitution on March 20 from a cavalryman from Warren in the 6th Cavalry has his opinion.
I cannot refrain from writing to denounce some of the vile and heathenish proceedings of the black-hearted traitors of the North. I mean the class (if they can indeed be worthy of the name of men) who call themselves K.G.C.'s.
Some call them Butternuts or Copperheads, and other equally worthy names, but we call them traitors of the deepest dye; black-hearted villains; worthy followers of Valandingham; men who are daily spouting forth treason of the rankest kind, and doing all in their power to demoralize the army and create discontent among the soldiers.
They talk of compromise, say we must compromise. But I would ask why in the name of God, must we compromise? Are we so destitute of arms, men or money, as to so disgrace ourselves and our country, as to think of making peace with a band of armed traitors???
The heat can be felt from the rhetoric of these men. So distraught with the men, and some newspapers at home, who choose to negotiate rather than field a weapon and protect their property and loved ones. Those who choose to dodge the draft are especially looked down upon and for their sake it was beneficial that there were great distances between them and the troops in the field.
Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren's Sutliff Museum.