Tuesday Dec. 31 1861
LEADERSHIP LACK LETS LINCOLN LOOSE
The notion of the president as commander-in-chief was quite literal
in these days as there was no military structure whose sole duty was
strategic planning for the nation. Theoretically this was to be done
by Gen. George McClellan by virtue of his title of "General in
Chief" but in fact his sole interest was the Army of the Potomac. In
addition he was not even doing much about that at the moment as he
was quite ill. Lincoln took it upon himself to telegraph to de-facto
western commander Gen. Henry Wager Halleck today to ask if perhaps
he had given any thought to taking action aimed at reunifying the
Wednesday Dec. 31 1862
RESOLUTE ROSECRANS RESOLVES TO REMAIN
Everyone knew there was going to be a battle at Murfreesboro,
Tennessee, but neither side exactly wanted to start it. Today it
began with both generals deciding to attack the enemy's right flank.
In one of his better military moves, Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg
hit first and swept the Union troops back over a wide area. Union
Gen. William Starke Rosecrans ended the short December day with a
decision to make: should they stay and continue the fight or pull
back along the open road and railroad line to Nashville? With Gen.
George Thomas there the decision was clear. Orders went out to dig
trenches. Off the coast of Cape Hatteras the USS Monitor rolled over
and sank, taking the lives of four officers and twelve crewmen.
Thursday Dec. 31 1863
DARK DAYS DEPRESS DAVIS
There was not much in the way of champagne-drinking, horn-tooting or
other midnight revelry on New Year's Eve in the Confederate capital
this year. What had seemed like a great idea at the time of the
firing on Ft. Sumter, the plan to follow in the footsteps of George
Washington and Thomas Jefferson, was now looking more like a tumble
into the outhouse. Even the Richmond Examiner was being so bold as
to put it in a headline: "To-day closes the gloomiest year of our
struggle." After Gettysburg, after the loss of the Mississippi,
after the fall of Chattanooga, few saw much hope for improvement.
Saturday Dec. 31 1864
MINOR MILITARY MOTIONS MADE
Little in the way of warfare marred the last day of they year,
beyond some skirmishing in Sharpsburg (the one in Kentucky, not
Maryland) and Russellville, Arkansas. Anyone with the wit to look
around, though, saw that huge armies were poised to move into the
Confederacy like boulders on top of mountains around a small valley.
George Thomas in Nashville, William T. Sherman in Savannah and U. S.
Grant in Petersburg were not going to just give up and go away, and
no Confederate army was left in the field to make them do so.
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