Saturday, May 5, 2012


After two days of clear weather, the heavy spring rains so familiar to southerners returned to make life miserable for the Union soldiers as reported on this day in 1862.

MONTEREY, May 5, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:

Heavy rains for the last twenty hours. Roads bad. Movement progressing slowly. Enemy still concentrating forces at Corinth. Nomination of Sherman for major-general gives great satisfaction. It was nobly gained upon the field of Shiloh.

Assistant Secretary of War.

Speaking of Sherman, his division on the western flank of the advance is becoming isolated by the bad roads.  The gravity of his situation is apparent in these orders, which indicate how tough a "normal" day in the infantry can be.

Camp No. 5, May 5, 1862.

Our situation from the rain and road has become difficult, and it becomes the duty of every officer and man to anticipate our danger and labor. Every ounce of food and forage must be regarded as precious as diamonds. Roads will be impassable and our bridges swept away. General Halleck and our superior officers will do all they can, but their power is limited by nature. We must do our part in full. Men must at once be limited in bread and meat. All live stock in our lines must be driven in and used, and all grass, wheat, and everything fit for forage gathered. Horses will be allowed to browse on bushes, and such as elm, cottonwood, and sassfras gatnered [sic] for this use at once. Particular attention must be given at once to our roads and defenses. Let every ax and spade be busy. At daybreak a party from each brigade will open a road by clearing the underbrush back to the Ridge road, following the highest ground back to the north and east. In front of the whole line underbrush must be cut to a distance of 300 yards, and heavy logs felled as a breastwork along the front of the artillery and camps; pickets, guards, and sentinels must be visited often, and the utmost vigilance maintained.

Monterey is the key point. We cannot be assailed by artillery, because the enemy cannot haul it up; we may be assailed by hordes of infantry, night or day, and therefore vigilance must be kept at all times, and any neglect promptly punished. If any sentinel will not be wakeful and intelligent, he must be made to work.

Our right is the point of danger, and will receive the personal attention of the general, but he can do nothing unless his orders are strictly observed; and these are, that all articles of provisions and forage be put under guard and dealt out at half rations; that the guard to our front be prepared with log breastworks and defenses, and underbrush cleared to our rear, to admit of prompt and easy communications, not to retreat on, but to afford means of assistance if necessary, and to move regiments from one point to anaother [sic] of our lines if need be.

Orders heretofore issued cover the whole ground, and this is only meant to remind all of their importance. Maps will at once be prepared and sent to brigadiers, who should furnish colonels and subordinates with copies.

By order of Brigadier General W. T. Sherman:
Assistant Adjutant-General.

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