Let’s have a picnic!

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.

5 Responses to “Let’s have a picnic!”

  1. Civil War Perspectives Says:

    It would have been cool for sure to be fly on that wall or tent.

  2. Eric Lantrip Says:

    I read recently that the 4th of July was not declared a national holiday until after the Civil War. I never knew that. Did people just celebrate it locally by states then or what? Just curious. Eric Lantrip

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Alfred Kitch Says:

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the Friday’s reports.

    Did you know there is a large stone from Chickamauga in Rosehill cemetery?

    Alfred Kitch

  4. Dave Powell Says:

    Al, I have seen the stone once, some years ago. There is also a cannon in the Barrington Cemetery that the monument commission claims to have been lost at Chickamauga and recaptured at Missionary Ridge, but it is a funky old pre-war smoothbore and I tend to doubt the claim.

    And the CHS has a Chickamauga (battle-damage) log, I think.



    Hi Dave,
    The Illinois State Militrary Museum has tree with cannon balls from Chickamauga.


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