Jacob D. (Jacob Dolson) Cox.

Military reminiscences of the civil war online

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Embarrassments resulting — Visit to General Schenck — New
orders from Washington — Sent to Ohio to administer the draft

— Burnside at head of the department — District of Ohio —
Headquarters at Cincinnati — Cordial relations of Governor Tod
with the military authorities — System of enrolment and draft —
Administration by Colonel Fry — Decay of the veteran regiments

— Bounty-jumping — Effects on political parties — Soldiers vot-
ing — Burnside's military plans — East Tennessee — Rosecrans
aiming at Chattanooga — Burnside's business habits — His
frankness — Stories about him — His personal characteristics —
Cincinnati as a border city — Rebel sympathizers — Order No. 38

— Challenged by Vallandigham — The order not a new departure

— Lincoln's proclamation — General Wright's circular.

The Vallandigham Case — The Holmes County War . 458

Clement L. Vallandigham — His opposition to the war — His
theory of reconstruction — His Mount Vernon speech — His
arrest — Sent before the military commission — General Potter
its president — Counsel for the prisoner — The line of defence
— The judgment — Habeas Corpus proceedings — Circuit Court
of the United States — Judge Leavitt denies the release — Com-
mutation by the President — Sent beyond the lines — Conduct
of Confederate authorities — Vallandigham in Canada — Candi-


date for Governor — Political results — Martial law — Principles
underlying it — Practical application — The intent to aid the
public enemy — The intent to defeat the draft — Armed resist-
ance to arrest of deserters. Noble County — To the enrolment
in Holmes County — A real insurrection — Connection of these
with Vallandigham's speeches — The Supreme Court refuses to
interfere — Action in the Milligan case after the war — Judge
Davis's personal views — Knights of the Golden Circle — The
Holmes County outbreak — Its suppression — Letter to Judge



Condition of Kentucky and Tennessee — Halleck's instructions to
Burnside — Blockhouses at bridges — Relief of East Tennessee

— Conditions of the problem — Vast wagon-train required —
Scheme of a railroad — Surveys begun — Burnside's efforts to
arrange co-operation with Rosecrans — Bragg sending troops to
Johnston — Halleck urges Rosecrans to activity — Continued
inactivity — Burnside ordered to send troops to Grant — Rose-
crans's correspondence with Halleck — Lincoln's dispatch —
Eosecrans collects his subordinates' opinions — Councils of war

— The situation considered — Sheridan and Thomas — Compu-
tation of effectives — Garfield's summing up — Review of the
situation when Rosecrans succeeded Buell — After Stone's River

— Relative forces — Disastrous detached expeditions — Appeal
to ambition — The major-generalship in regular army — Views
of the President justified — Burnside's forces — Confederate
forces in East Tennessee — Reasons for the double organization
of the Union armies.

The Morgan Raid 401

Departure of the staff for the field — An amusingly quick return —
Changes in my own duties — Expeditions to occupy the enemy

— Sanders' raid into East Tennessee — His route — His success
and return — The Confederate Morgan's raid — His instructions

— His reputation as a soldier — Compared with Forrest —
Morgan's start delayed — His appearance at Green River, Ky.

— Foiled by Colonel Moore — Captures Lebanon — Reaches the
Ohio at Brandenburg — General Hobson in pursuit — Morgan

crosses into Indiana — Was this his original purpose? — His
route out of Indiana into Ohio — He approaches Cincinnati —
Hot chase by Hobson — Gunboats co-operating on the river —
Efforts to block his way — He avoids garrisoned posts and cities

— Our troops moved in transports by water — Condition of
Morgan's jaded column — Approaching the Ohio at Buffington's



— Gunboats near the ford — Hobson attacks — Part captured,
the rest fly northward — Another capture — A long chase —
Surrender of Morgan with the remnant — Summary of results

— A burlesque capitulation.


The Liberation of East Tennessee 510

News of Grants victory, at Vicksburg — A thrilling scene at the
opera — Burnside's Ninth Corps to return — Stanton urges
Rosecrans to advance — The TuUahoma manoeuvres — Testy
correspondence — Its real meaning — Urgency with Burnside —
Ignorance concerning his situation — His disappointment as to
Ninth Corps— Rapid concentration of other troops — Burn-
side's march into East Tennessee — Occupation of Knoxville —
Invests Cumberland Gap — The garrison surrenders — Good
news from Rosecrans — Distances between armies — Divergent
lines — No railway communication — Burnside concentrates to-
ward the Virginia line — Joy of the people — Their intense
loyalty — Their faith in the future.

Burnside in East Tennessee 530

Organizing and arming the loyalists — Burnside concentrates
near Greeneville — His general plan — Rumors of Confederate
reinforcements — Lack of accurate information — The Ninth
Corps in Kentucky — Its depletion by malarial disease — Death
of General Welsh from this cause — Preparing for further work

Situation on l6th September — Dispatch from Halleck — Its

apparent purpose — Necessity to dispose of the enemy near
Virginia border — Burnside personally at the front — His great
activity — Ignorance of Rosecrans's peril — Impossibility of
joining him by the 20th — Ruinous effects of abandoning East
Tennessee — Efforts to aid Rosecrans without such abandon-
ment — Enemy duped into burning Watauga bridge themselves
Ninth Corps arriving — Willcox's division garrisons Cumber-
land Gap — Reinforcements sent Rosecrans from all quarters —
Chattanooga made safe from attack — The supply question —
Meigs's description of the roads — Burnside halted near Loudon

— Halleck's misconception of the geography — The people im-
ploring the President not to remove the troops — How Long-
street got away from Virginia — Burnside's alternate plans —
Minor operations in upper Holston valley — Wolford's affair
on the lower Holston.

Appendix A 547

Appendix B 547





Ohio Senate April 12 — Sumter bombarded — "Glory to God I" — The
surrender — Effect on public sentiment — Call for troops — Politicians
changing front — David Tod — Stephen A. Douglas — The insurrection
must be crushed — Garfield on personal duty — Troops organized by the
States — The militia — Unpreparedness — McClellan at Columbus —
Meets Governor Dennison— Put in command — Our stock of munitions —
Making estimates — McClellan's plan — Camp Jackson — Camp Den-
nison — Gathering of the volunteers — Garibaldi uniforms — Officering
the troops — Off for Washington — Scenes in the State Capitol — Gov-
ernor Dennison's labors — Young regulars — Scott's policy — Alex.
McCook — Orlando Poe — Not allowed to take state commissions.

ON Friday the twelfth day of April, 1861, the Senate
of Ohio was in session, trying to go on in the
ordinary routine of business, but with a sense of anxiety
and strain which was caused by the troubled condition of
national affairs. The passage of Ordinances of Secession
by one after another of the Southern States, and even the
assembling of a provisional Confederate government at
Montgomery, had not wholly destroyed the hope that
some peaceful way out of our troubles would be found ;
yet the gathering of an army on the sands opposite Fort
Sumter was really war, and if a hostile gun were fired, we
knew it would mean the end of all effort at arrangement.
Hoping almost against hope that blood would not be shed,
and that the pageant of military array and of a rebel gov-
ernment would pass by and soon be reckoned among the

VOL. I. — I


disused scenes and properties of a political drama that
never pretended to be more than acting, we tried to give
our thoughts to business; but there was no heart in it,
and the morning hour lagged, for we could not work in
earnest and we were unwilling to adjourn.

Suddenly a senator came in from the lobby in an ex-
cited way, and catching the chairman's eye, exclaimed,
" Mr. President, the telegraph announces that the seces-
sionists are bombarding Fort Sumter ! " There was a
solemn and painful hush, but it was broken in a moment
by a woman's shrill voice from the spectators' seats, cry-
ing, " Glory to God ! " It startled every one, almost as if
the enemy were in the midst. But it was the voice of a
radical friend of the slave, who after a lifetime of public
agitation believed that only through blood could freedom
be won. Abby Kelly Foster had been attending the ses-
sion of the Assembly, urging the passage of some meas-
ures enlarging the legal rights of married women, and,
sitting beyond the railing when the news came in, shouted
a fierce cry of joy that oppression had submitted its cause
to the decision of the sword. With most of us, the
gloomy thought that civil war had begun in our own
land overshadowed everything, and seemed too great a
price to pay for any good ; a scourge to be borne only in
preference to yielding the very groundwork of our re-
publicanism, — the right to enforce a fair interpretation
of the Constitution through the election of President and

The next day we learned that Major Anderson had sur-
rendered, and the telegraphic news from all the Northern
States showed plain evidence of a popular outburst of loy-
alty to the Union, following a brief moment of dismay.
Judge Thomas M. Key of Cincinnati, chairman of the
Judiciary Committee, was the recognized leader of the
Democratic party in the Senate, ^ and at an early hour

» Afterward aide-de-camp and acting judge-advocate on McClellatv's staff.


moved an adjournment to the following Tuesday, in order,
as he said, that the senators might have the opportunity
to go home and consult their constituents in the perilous
crisis of public affairs. No objection was made to the
adjournment, and the representatives took a similar re-
cess. All were in a state of most anxious suspense, — the
Republicans to know what initiative the Administration
at Washington would take, and the Democrats to deter-
mine what course they should follow if the President
should call for troops to put down the insurrection.

Before we met again, Mr. Lincoln's proclamation and
call for seventy-five thousand militia for three months'
service were out, and the great mass of the people of the
North, forgetting all party distinctions, answered with an
enthusiastic patriotism that swept politicians off their
feet. When we met again on Tuesday morning, Judge
Key, taking my arm and pacing the floor outside the rail-
ing in the Senate chamber, broke out impetuously, " Mr.
Cox, the people have gone stark mad ! " "I knew they
would if a blow was struck against the flag," said I, re-
minding him of some previous conversations we had had
on that subject. He, with most of the politicians of the
day, partly by sympathy with the overwhelming current
of public opinion, and partly by the reaction of their own
hearts against the false theories which had encouraged
the secessionists, determined to support the war measures
of the government, and to make no factious opposition to
such state legislation as might be necessary to sustain
the federal administration.

The attitude of Mr. Key is only a type of many others,
and marks one of the most striking features of the time.
On the 8th of January the usual Democratic convention
and celebration of the Battle of New Orleans had taken
place, and a series of resolutions had been passed, which
were drafted, as was understood, by Judge Thurman. In
these, professing to speak in the name of " two hundred


thousand Democrats of Ohio," the convention had very
significantly intimated that this vast organization of men
would be found in the way of any attempt to put down
secession until the demands of the South in respect to
slavery were complied with. A few days afterward I
was returning to Columbus from my home in Trumbull
County, and meeting upon the railway train with David
Tod, then an active Democratic politician, but afterward
one of our loyal " war governors, " the conversation
turned on the action of the convention which had just
adjourned. Mr. Tod and I were personal friends and
neighbors, and I freely expressed my surprise that the
convention should have committed itself to what must be
interpreted as a threat of insurrection in the North if the
administration should, in opposing secession by force,
follow the example of Andrew Jackson, in whose honor
they had assembled. He rather vehemently reasserted
the substance of the resolution, saying that we Republi-
cans would find the two hundred thousand Ohio Demo-
crats in front of us, if we attempted to cross the Ohio
River. My answer was, " We will give up the contest if
we cannot carry your two hundred thousand over the
heads of you leaders."

The result proved how hollow the party professions had
been; or perhaps I should say how superficial was the
hold of such party doctrines upon the mass of men in a
great political organization. In the excitement of politi-
cal campaigns they had cheered the extravagant language
of party platforms with very little reflection, and the
leaders had imagined that the people were really and
earnestly indoctrinated into the political creed of Cal-
houn; but at the first shot from Beauregard's guns in
Charleston harbor their latent patriotism sprang into vig-
orous life, and they crowded to the recruiting stations to
enlist for the defence of the national flag and the national
Union. It was a popular torrent which no leaders could


resist; but many of these should be credited with the
same patriotic impulse, and it made them nobly oblivi-
ous of party consistency. Stephen A. Douglas passed
through Columbus on his way to Washington a few days
after the surrender of Sumter, and in response to the
calls of a spontaneous gathering of people, spoke to
them from his bedroom window in the American House.
There had been no thought for any of the common sur-
roundings of a public meeting. There were no torches,
no music. A dark crowd of men filled full the dim-lit
street, and called for Douglas with an earnestness of tone
wholly different from the enthusiasm of common political
gatherings. He came half-dressed to his window, and
without any light near him, spoke solemnly to the people
upon the terrible crisis which had come upon the nation.
Men of all parties were there : his own followers to get
some light as to their duty; the Breckinridge Democrats
ready, most of them, repentantly to follow a Northern
leader, now that their recent candidate was in the rebel-
lion ; ^ the Republicans eagerly anxious to know whether
so potent an influence was to be unreservedly on the side
of the country. I remember well the serious solicitude
with which I listened to his opening sentences as I leaned
against the railing of the State House park, trying in vain
to get more than a dim outline of the man as he stood at
the unlighted window. His deep sonorous voice rolled
down through the darkness from above us, — an earnest,
measured voice, the more solemn, the more impressive,
because we could not see the speaker, and it came to us
literally as "a voice in the night," — the night of our
country's unspeakable trial. There was no uncertainty
in his tone : the Union must be preserved and the insur-
rection must be crushed, — he pledged his hearty support
to Mr. Lincoln's administration in doing this. Other

1 Breckinridge did not formally join the Confederacy till September, but
his accord with the secessionists was well known.


questions must stand aside till the national authority
should be everywhere recognized. I do not think we
greatly cheered him, — it was rather a deep Amen that
went up from the crowd. We went home breathing freer
in the assurance we now felt that, for a time at least, no
organized opposition to the federal government and its
policy of coercion would be formidable in the North.
We did not look for unanimity. Bitter and narrow men
there were whose sympathies were with their country's
enemies. Others equally narrow were still in the chains
of the secession logic they had learned from the Calhoun-
ists ; but the broader-minded men found themselves happy
in being free from disloyal theories, and threw them-
selves sincerely and earnestly into the popular move-
ment. There was no more doubt where Douglas or Tod
or Key would be found, or any of the great class they

Yet the situation hung upon us like a nightmare.
Garfield and I were lodging together at the time, our
wives being kept at home by family cares, and when we
reached our sitting-room, after an evening session of the
Senate, we often found ourselves involuntarily groaning,
" Civil war in our land ! " The shame, the outrage, the
folly, seemed too great to believe, and we half hoped to
wake from it as from a dream. Among the painful re-
membrances of those days is the ever-present weight at
the heart which never left me till I found relief in the
active duties of camp life at the close of the month. I
went about my duties (and I am sure most of those I
associated with did the same) with the half-choking
sense of a grief I dared not think of: like one who is
dragging himself to the ordinary labors of life from some
terrible and recent bereavement.

We talked of our personal duty, and though both Gar-
field and myself had young families, we were agreed
that our activity in the organization and support of the


Republican party made the duty of supporting the govern-
ment by military service come peculiarly home to us.
He was, for the moment, somewhat trammelled by his
half-clerical position, but he very soon cut the knot. My
own path seemed unmistakably clear. He, more careful
for his friend than for himself, urged upon me his doubts
whether my physical strength was equal to the strain that
would be put upon it. "I," said he, "am big and strong,
and if my relations to the church and the college can be
broken, I shall have no excuse for not enlisting ; but you
are slender and will break down." It was true that I
looked slender for a man six feet high (though it would
hardly be suspected now that it was so), yet I had assured
confidence in the elasticity of my constitution; and the
result justified me, whilst it also showed how liable to
mistake one is in such things. Garfield found that he
had a tendency to weakness of the alimentary system
which broke him down on every campaign in which he
served and led to his retiring from the army much earlier
than he had intended. My own health, on the other
hand, was strengthened by out-door life and exposure,
and I served to the end with growing physical vigor.

When Mr. Lincoln issued his first call for troops, the
existing laws made it necessary that these should be fully
organized and officered by the several States. Then, the
treasury was in no condition to bear the burden of war
expenditures, and till Congress could assemble, the Presi-
dent was forced to rely on the States to furnish the means
necessary for the equipment and transportation of their
own troops. This threw upon the governors and legisla-
tures of the loyal States responsibilities of a kind wholly
unprecedented. A long period of profound peace had
made every military organization seem almost farcical.
A few independent military companies formed the merest
shadow of an army; the state militia proper was only a
nominal thing. It happened, however, that I held a com-


mission as Brigadier in this state militia, and my inti-
niacy with Governor Dennison led him to call upon me
for such assistance as I could render in the first enrol-
ment and organization of the Ohio quota. Arranging to
be called to the Senate chamber when my vote might
be needed upon important legislation, I gave my time
chiefly to such military matters as the governor ap-
pointed. Although, as I have said, my military com-
mission had been a nominal thing, and in fact I had
never worn a uniform, I had not wholly neglected theo-
retic preparation for such work. For some years the
possibility of a war of secession had been one of the
things which would force itself upon the thoughts of re-
flecting people, and I had been led to give some careful
study to such books of tactics and of strategy as were
within easy reach. I had especially been led to read
military history with critical care, and had carried away
many valuable ideas from this most useful means of mili-
tary education. I had therefore some notion of the work
before us, and could approach its problems with less loss
of time, at least, than if I had been wholly ignorant.^

My commission as Brigadier-General in the Ohio quota
in national service was dated on the 23d of April, though
it had been understood for several days that my tender of
service in the field would be accepted. Just about the
same time Captain George B. McClellan was requested
by Governor Dennison to come to Columbus for consul-
tation, and by the governor's request I met him at the
railway station and took him to the State House. I think
Mr. Larz Anderson (brother of Major Robert Anderson)
and Mr. L'Hommedieu of Cincinnati were with him.
The intimation had been given me that he would prob-
ably be made major-general and commandant of our Ohio
contingent, and this, naturally, made me scan him closely.

1 I have treated this subject somewhat more fully in a paper in the "Atlan-
tic Monthly " for March, 1892, " Why the Men of '5i fought for the Union."


He was rather under the medium height, but muscularly
formed, with broad shoulders and a well-poised head,
active and graceful in motion. His whole appearance
was quiet and modest, but when drawn out he showed no
lack of confidence in himself. He was dressed in a plain
travelling suit, with a narrow- rimmed soft felt hat. In
short, he seemed what he was, a railway superintendent
in his business clothes. At the time his name was a
good deal associated with that of Beauregard ; they were
spoken of as young men of similar standing in the Engi-
neer Corps of the Army, and great things were expected
of them both because of their scientific knowledge of their
profession, though McClellan had been in civil life for
some years. His report on the Crimean War was one of
the few important memoirs our old army had produced,
and was valuable enough to give a just reputation for
comprehensive understanding of military organization,
and the promise of ability to conduct the operations of
an army.

I was present at the interview which the governor had
with him. The destitution of the State of everything
like military material and equipment was very plainly
put, and the magnitude of the task of building up a small
army out of nothing was not blinked. The governor
spoke of the embarrassment he felt at every step from the
lack of practical military experience in his staff, and of
his desire to have some one on whom he could properly
throw the details of military work. McClellan showed
that he fully understood the difficulties there would be
before him, and said that no man could wholly master
them at once, although he had confidence that if a few
weeks' time for preparation were given, he would be able
to put the Ohio division into reasonable form for taking
the field. The command was then formally tendered and
accepted. All of us who were present felt that the selec-
tion was one full of promise and hope, and that the


governor had done the wisest thing practicable at the

The next morning McClellan requested me to accom-
pany him to the State Arsenal, to see what arms and
material might be there. We found a few boxes of
smooth-bore muskets which had once been issued to

Online LibraryJacob D. (Jacob Dolson) CoxMilitary reminiscences of the civil war → online text (page 2 of 45)