Archive for July, 2019

Let’s have a picnic!

July 4, 2019

July 4, 1863. Where would I have like to have been?

At Gettysburg, watching the Army of the Potomac cautiously probe Lee’s positions?

Or maybe at Vicksburg, watching Ulysses S. Grant’s army enter the newly surrendered city?

Or, how about at Winchester, Tennessee?

                          William Rosecrans and staff in Tennessee.

On July 4, 1863, William S. Rosecrans declared the Tullahoma Campaign at an end. Braxton Bragg and the Army of Tennessee (CSA, this time) had escaped Middle Tennessee, and were even then crossing the Tennessee River towards Chattanooga. Bragg was at Bridgeport Alabama, where he did not tarry long.

Alexander McDowell McCook’s XX Corps came to rest at Winchester, having reached the end of their effective supply line, the railhead on the Nashville & Chattanooga Line which was still north of the Duck River. Bridges needs must be repaired, and until then, the Federals were all on short rations.

Which did not preclude McCook – one of the most popular officers in the army – from throwing a party. He arranged for a massive picnic, inviting 60 senior officers ranging from colonels to two-star generals. Rosecrans attended, as did David S. Stanley, Chief of Cavalry. Garfield, naturally enough, was also present. Both Thomas and Crittenden were both too far away to make the ride.

McCook constructed an outdoor “bower” to shade the attendees. Regimental bands provided entertainment. while artillery units fired salutes in honor of the day.

Of course, it being the Tullahoma Campaign, heavy rains moved much of the party indoors, where conditions were much more crowded. Still, the party was considered a great success.

So I might have wanted to sit in on that afternoon’s festivities.