With Spring Comes Renewed Fighting
March 9, 1862. Spring was coming and everyone knew that military campaigning was imminent. Within weeks, in fact, the Army would be chasing “Stonewall” Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley and boarding ships to head to Fort Monroe for an advance up the Peninsula toward Richmond.
Charles Harvey Brewster of the 10th Massachusetts wrote to his mother from Camp Brightwood in Washington, DC: “(We) are expecting orders every day, part of our division has already gone and we shall soon follow. we have had 2 Regiments of Regulars added to our Division, and they are the ones that have marched, but where they have gone to or where we are to go nobody knows . . .”
Although Brewster knew all too well that his regiment was green, he felt that they were ready. “(We) aught to be thankful we did not have to meet the enemy while we were raw and undisciplined and not ready for battle. it is said that we are now about as well trained as well as can be for Volunteers and certainly we know everything that is in the book for Infantry tactics. The weather is getting warmer and the ground beings to settle and it seems as if the army must make an advance soon if ever it does.”
– Submitted by William Halainen
When This Cruel War Is Over: The Civil War Letters Of Charles Harvey Brewster, University of Massachusetts Press
McClellan’s Authority Narrowed, “Peninsula Campaign” Begins
March 11, 1862. On March 11 Lincoln relieved Major General George B. McClellan from his post as general-in-chief of all U.S. armies ostensibly so that McClellan could focus all of his attention on commanding the Union’s powerful force in the east, the Army of the Potomac. Two days later, McClellan proposed to Lincoln that the Army of the Potomac be ferried down to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, where they would disembark on the James River Peninsula and then attack Richmond from the southeast. Lincoln had his misgivings, but he agreed, insisting, however, that enough troops remain to defend Washington. On March 17, the first ships embarked from Alexandria, Virginia, and what became known as the Peninsula Campaign was underway.
Lincoln, An Illustrated Biography, Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., p. 176
If compensating slaveowners would end the war, . . .
March 14, 1862. “In a continuing discussion of his position concerning slavery, President Lincoln attempted to justify the proposed financial compensation to slaveholders. Lincoln felt that such recompense ‘would not be half as onerous as would be an equal sum, raised now, for the indefinite prosecution of the war.'”
Chronicles of the Civil War: An Illustrated Almanac and Encyclopedia of America’s Bloodiest War, John Bowman, editor, p. 60
– Both pieces submitted by Peter A. Gilbert, Executive Director, Vermont Humanities Council