Friday, September 7, 2012

Where is Bragg?

While General Wright is building an army of fresh recruits from neighboring states he must deal with the governors, each of whom has a unique set of priorities and problems.  On this day he sends the same clearly worded message to all concerned.  The "carbon copy" format was probably chosen as a reminder of their common cause rather than simply being a matter of  convenience.


Cincinnati, Ohio, September 7, 1862.

Governor TOD, Columbus, Ohio; Governor MORTON, Indianapolis, Ind.;Governor YATES, Sprigfield, Ill.; Governor SALOMON, Madison, Wis.;Governor BLAIR, Detroit, Mich.: 

Don't remit our exertions in hastening forward your troops. Cincinnati is threatened, whether seriously or not I cannot confidently say, but we must be prepared; moreover, we must take the offensive at an early day or we allow enemy to recruit extensively in Kentucky. We must also relieve morgan from his blockade at Cumberland Gap very soon or he may be started out. Enemy reported in strong force at Falmouth on road to this city. 

Major-General, Commanding.

On the previous day,  Wright had decided that he could not hold  both Bowling Green and Louisville.  He had ordered the cities of Munfordville and Bowling Green abandoned with all stores destroyed.  He either did not know or did not care that these stores were the main source of supply for Buell's Army of the Ohio outside of Louisville.  He was apparently equally unaware that Buell's consolidation of forces in Nashville was in preparation for a march through Bowling Green to Louisville in an effort to protect these supplies and confront General Bragg.


Cincinnati, Ohio, September 7, 1862.

Brigadier General J. T. BOYLE, Louisville, Ky.:

I have information that Buell has or is about to evacuate Nashville and to move into Southern Kentucky; if this be true, neither Bowling Green nor Munfordville should be abandoned. Countermand the order for the evacuation of those places if you have reason to believe my information is true.

Major-General, Commanding.

Amidst all of this confusion, the simple Kentucky-born lawyer who occupies the White House has but one question.  Perhaps this telegram was intended to focus his generals' attention on the problem at hand as much as it was a request for information.


Washington, D. C., September 7, 1862.
General BOYLE, Louisville, Ky.:

 Where is General Bragg? What do you know on the subject?


And Boyle replied:

LOUISVILLE, KY., September 7, 1862.
President LINCOLN:

I do not know where General Bragg is, but believe he is in Tennessee threatening General Buell. I have taken letters from post-offices from some of his officers known to me saying he had an army of 35,000; that he would move on General Buell and drive him back. I have no doubt that he presses Buell's army. General Morgan reports that Kirby Smith is receiving re-enforcements through the mountains. Morgan had a successful skirmish with them the other day.


Editor's Note:  Regimental historian John Blackburn reports that "Shouts of joy arose in the ranks of the Seventeenth when news of the march into Kentucky was announced.  Not joy at the prospect of battle.  Mchenry's men felt they had experienced enough fighting.  But a move into Kentucky gave promise of a visit with loved ones at home."  He also states that Buell reached Louisville on this date in 1862.* 
As mentioned earlier, the exact timing of these movements is not clear, but in his Special Order of December 15th, 1862 Colonel McHenry did say that his men  "...were the first soldiers to leave Kentucky in defense of our country, and ...the first to return to it in pursuit of the foe that has recently been driven from it's borders." **

*Blackburn, John, A Hundred Miles, A Hundred Heartbreaks, 1972, self-published, LOC 72-93774, p.104.
**Ibid, p.109

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