Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23, 1863: Edwin M. Stanton to Charles A. Dana

Edwin M. Stanton
On this day 150 years ago, Union Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton sent this telegram to reassure Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana and Major General William S. Rosecrans that help was on the way.
September 23, 1863-10 p.m.



Your telegrams of to-day received. Every nerve is being strained to strengthen General Rosecrans and his gallant army. Richmond papers, while claiming an advantage, do not boast of decisive success. They publish a large list of their general officers killed and wounded, and their temper shows that they feel as having barely escaped a fatal defeat. Bragg asserts that General Rosecrans' force was much larger than his own. If General Rosecrans holds his ground for half the time stated in your telegram, there can be no doubt that ample re-enforcements must reach him within that period.

Stanton wasn't kidding about his determination to reinforce Rosecrans: 15,000 men in two corps under Major General Joseph Hooker were on their war from the Army of the Potomac while another 20,000 under William Tecumseh Sherman were on their way from Vicksburg. Rosecrans had about 60,000 men before Chickamauga and lost 16,170 in that battle, leaving him with perhaps 43,000 to 44,000 men. Thus the 35,000 veteran troops on their way to the Army of the Cumberland represented a massive infusion of fighting power--if it could get there in time.

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