We are remembering the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia, on October 19, 1864. As future US President, Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes looked to the south, he saw an appalling sight. Out of the fog, driving a disorganized throng of half dressed Union stragglers before it - came a solid gray line of Confederates. These were General Gordon' s men advancing.
It was a strange retreat. The men were not frantic, remembered Captain S.E. Howard of the XIX Corps, "only stolidly, doggedly, determined to go the rear." A few units here and there paused to shoot back, but US General Crook's command had come completely undone. "The broad plain was a scene of rout," one of Crook's staff officers recalled, "wagons, ambulances, artillery, soldiers without commanders, commanders without soldiers, every fellow for himself, moving backwards in sullen discouragement in the faces of the yelling victors".
We are remembering the Battle of Hatchie's Bridge, Tennessee, on October 5, 1862. "After a few irregular volleys, they broke and ran a gauntlet of death trying to renegotiate the bridge", wrote one Union soldier describing the retreat.
After the Battle of Corinth, Confederate General Dorn's army had crossed the Hatchie River with stragglers still crossing when Union General Ord's forces caught up. During the confusion some men dived in the river to escape, abandoning artillery. Others charged back over the bridge to fight off the Union troops, creating a blockage on the bridge. Acting brigade commander, 24 year old Colonel Ross, gave the retreat order. Despite the confusion and carnage Ross' order saved most of his command and the bulk of Dorn's army was able to evade capture. This action led directly to Ross’s promotion to Brigadier General.
We are remembering the October 1, 1864 drowning death of Confederate spy and unofficial diplomat, Rose Greenhow. When asked about this unusual appointment, civil war historian James McPherson replied, "Not only would Davis not have worried about sending a woman to Europe on a diplomatic mission, Davis would have been convinced that this particular woman was the best person for the job because her imprisonment in a Union 'Bastille' had evoked indignation and sympathy abroad, especially among the upper classes in Britain and France , where it was seen as an example of Yankee oppression and vulgarity. Sending Greenhow was a stroke of genius by Davis."
It used to be that only the wealthy could afford to have a portrait of themselves or their family made. By 1862, Oliver Wendell Holmes noted photography has become, "the social currency, the green-backs of civilization". The affordability of photographs resulted in soldiers taking pictures wearing their uniforms, with their loved ones, and in the case of cavalry officers - with their horses.
We are remembering the Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19 -20 1863. Johnny Clem, the "Drummer Boy of Chickamauga", was 12 years old. Chickamauga is the Indian word meaning blood river. "The Chickamauga lived up to its name that day", said Colonel Thomas Berry, one of General Nathan Forrest's cavalry officers. "It ran red with blood."