The sum­mer of our dis­con­tent

Rappahannock News - - NEWS - Arthur Can­den­quist [email protected]

On Tues­day, July 1, the day of the bat­tle at Malvern Hill near Rich­mond, the last of the Seven Days’ Bat­tles, Abra­ham Lin­coln ap­proved an act to pro­vide for a Fed­eral in­come tax – 3 per­cent on in­come be­tween $ 600 and $ 10,000. He also ap­proved the act es­tab­lish­ing the transcon­ti­nen­tal rail­road, pro­vid­ing for the Union Pa­cific and the Cen­tral Pa­cific Rail­roads to cross the West. And Pres­i­dent Lin­coln ad­vised the state gov­er­nors that he was call­ing for 300,000 more men “to bring this un­nec­es­sary and in­ju­ri­ous civil war to a speedy and sat­is­fac­tory con­clu­sion.”

Other acts signed by Pres­i­dent Lin­coln in­cluded one ban­ning polygamy in the ter­ri­to­ries; a loy­alty oath re­quired of ev­ery elected or ap­pointed gov­ern­ment of­fi­cer; and the Mor­rill Act, which pro­vided for the states to re­ceive 30,000 acres of land for each se­na­tor and rep­re­sen­ta­tive as an en­dow­ment for pro­posed agri­cul­tural and me­chan­i­cal schools. The mea­sure pro­vided for land grant col- leges in ev­ery state.

On Fri­day, July 4, the Con­fed­er­ate gun­boat Teaser was cap­tured by the Fed­er­als as it at­tempted to go down the James River from Rich­mond and launch an ob­ser­va­tion bal­loon made of old silk frocks and dresses do­nated to the cause – mak­ing it the first recorded in­stance of an air­craft car­rier.

On Satur­day, July 5, a sharp cavalry fight took place near Sper­ryville be­tween the 6th Vir­ginia Cavalry (Com­pany B, the Rap­pa­han­nock Old Guards, was com­posed of Rap­pa­han­nock County men) of Brig. Gen. Bev­erly Robert­son’s bri­gade, and two com­pa­nies of the 1st Maine Cavalry. Of the fight, Capt. Ge­orge Sum­mat of the 1st Maine re­ported two en­listed men wounded. His re­port stated that “the whole of this coun­try is in­fested with rebel horse­men.”

Dur­ing the first two weeks of July, en­gage­ments be­tween U.S. and C.S. forces con­tin­ued ev­ery day on all fronts. In Ken­tucky, Con­fed­er­ate cavalry un­der Brig. Gen. John Hunt Mor­gan cap­tured Tompkinsvi­lle, rout­ing the Fed­eral force there. Three days later, Gen. Mor­gan and his men cap­tured Le­banon, threat­en­ing Cincin­nati, Frank­fort, Lex­ing­ton and Louisville, and earn­ing Gen. Mor­gan his nick­name, “Thun­der­bolt of the Con­fed­er­acy.” An­other fear­some Con­fed­er­ate cavalry com­man­der, Nathan Bed­ford For­rest, cap­tured the town of Murfreesbo­ro, Tenn., and the Fed­eral forces there. Gen. For­rest, who rose through the ranks from pri­vate to lieu­tenant gen­eral, was praised later in the war by Gen­eral Robert E. Lee as “the most ablest of the Con­fed­er­ate cavalry com­man­ders.”

Maj. Gen. Henry Hal­leck was named gen­eral-in-chief of all U.S. land forces by Pres­i­dent Lin­coln on July 10. He was con­sid­ered a top-grade ad­min­is­tra­tor with a sound mil­i­tary mind. The same day, Gen. Pope is­sued con­tro­ver­sial or­ders which struck fear and dis­con­tent into the hearts of Rap­pa­han­nock County cit­i­zens and those in the Shenan­doah Val­ley un­der the heel of the Fed­eral oc­cu­pa­tion.

Throughout the area of op­er­a­tions of his Army of Vir­ginia, Gen. Pope de­creed that the cit­i­zens would be held re­spon­si­ble for in­jury to rail­roads, at­tacks upon trains or strag­gling sol­diers. In case of guer­rilla or ir­reg­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties ( par­ti­san war­fare), cit­i­zens would be fi­nan­cially re­spon­si­ble; if a Fed­eral sol­dier were fired upon from any house, it would be razed to the ground. Those de­tected in any act of ag­gres­sion against his army would be shot with­out civil process. For the peo­ple of Rap­pa­han­nock County and else­where where Gen. Pope’s army lay, these or­ders were tan­ta­mount to al­low­ing Fed­eral sol­diers to do what­ever they wished with­out fear of pu­n­ish­ment. In less than two days’ time, how­ever, crimes com­mit­ted near Sper­ryville against civil­ians by an of­fi­cer’s ser­vant and two sol­diers from Buf­falo, N. Y., would, sur­pris­ingly, be pros­e­cuted by the Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties. More on that next week.

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