by Eric Nelson
Civil War campaigns in and around Fredericksburg, Va., required an advancing army first to jump the Rappahannock River. As a consequence, river crossings loomed large at the Battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. At Fredericksburg in 1862, the pontoon bridge sites became the initial points of contact and men died as engineers struggled to build their floating bridges under fire. The hard lesson was that bridges were best built when an army controlled both sides of the waterway. During the Chancellorsville Campaign in 1863, the Union army again crossed the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, but sent assault forces over first to seize the opposite shore before the bridge building began. These crossings in the tidal part of the Rappahannock River were a diversion from the advance of the main Union force, which occurred far upstream. Where the upriver fords remained usable and lightly picketed, an advance guard could splash across and secure the crossing site. Some fords, however, had become altered by dams and canals, and establishing military crossings there posed additional challenges.
Back in 1983 when Blue & Gray was founded, I never thought there would be a “General’s Tour” requiring anything but a dependable vehicle with a full tank of gas, good hiking shoes (boots preferred), and a proper functioning odometer. Also, since that kind of touring by its very nature had to be what I termed “turf-bound,” it was pretty clear that oceanic naval operations would not become Tour features.
An excerpt from the current issue: Volume 32, #2
Table of Contents
The Battle of Cedar Mountain
by Michael E. Block
Vice President, Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield
The Battle of Cedar Mountain has never been considered part of a campaign. Many will place the fight as the opening action of the Second Manassas Campaign. However, the fight south of Culpeper, Va., on August 9, 1862 was, if anything, the concluding action of the Peninsula Campaign.
The Lincoln Administration needed to create a distraction for the Confederate armies on the Virginia Peninsula below Richmond—a distraction to relieve pressure on Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac so his troops could withdraw from their pocket along the James River.
The Making of A Legend
The story of Stonewall Jackson and his battle at Cedar Mountain with principal adversary Nathaniel Banks can not be fully understood without placing the fight in its proper context. Feature article author Michael Block offers the argument that the battle was not an opening action of the Second Manassas Campaign in the summer of 1862, as many accounts claim, but rather a concluding action to the Union’s failed campaign on the Virginia Peninsula.
Tribute to Wiley Sword
Wiley Sword was a good friend and confidant, and I am proud to have been his editor and publisher on numerous projects. His passing in November was a shock and surprise. Recent heart surgery had been successful and he said he felt the subsequent complications had been resolved. I figured a brief lapse in communication was because he was back on the golf course, or writing, collecting war letters, and just enjoying life. He will be missed.
An Excerpt from the Current Issue: Volume 32, #1
Table of Contents
by Robert D. Jenkins, SR
When he stepped off the train at the Western & Atlantic depot at Dalton, Ga., on the evening of December 26, 1863—the same depot where telegraph operator Edward R. Henderson tapped out the dispatch that would eventually lead to the capture of the Andrews Raiders in April 1862—the newly-appointed Confederate commander, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, considered his new assignment. Asked to take over the helm of the South’s second largest army, restore its morale, and advance it once again into Tennessee to take the initiative in the Western Theater and recover lost territory, Johnston was doubtful. He believed his Commander in Chief was asking the impossible.
Please note that the current issue featuring the North Anna Campaign seems to be moving extremely slow through the USPS. The issue was mailed about 2 1/2 weeks ago but is still being delivered to readers. Hang tight, the issue is on its way.