United States History: Late 1863 & The Civil War

About the history of the United States in 1863, the Civil War continues, the Battle of Chickamauga, invention of the stereopticon, The Man Without a Country is published.


Sept. 20 Milestone Battle: Chickamauga, Ga. Major Bond, serving on Rosecrans's staff, wrote the garbled command order sent to General Woods that created a Union disaster. Rosecrans, riding down his division lines confronting the Confederate forces under General Bragg, noticed one regiment slightly out of position. He snapped an order to Bond: "Tell General Woods to close that gap." Bond hastily complied:

To General Woods--

The general commanding directs that you close up on Reynolds as fast as possible, and support him.


The order dumfounded Woods. On his left flank, General Brannan's troops were properly in line. And General Reynolds's men were in line on Brannan's left. To "close up" meant, in strict military parlance (and Woods was a West Point graduate), to eliminate any gap in a battle line. To "support" meant to take up a position behind the line, ready to advance if ordered. Bond--a non-West-Pointer--did not understand the technical distinction.

Faced with 2 orders that contradicted each other, Woods elected to support Reynolds. He pulled his troops out of the line of battle and marched them to the rear of General Reynolds. Within minutes, the skirmishers under command of General Longstreet, directly facing Woods's previous position, became aware of the error.

The astounded Longstreet took immediate steps. He hurled 30,000 through the gap in the Union line created by Bond's order. Only General Thomas was able to hold his position, earning the name by which he is remembered: the Rock of Chickamauga. His resistance blunted Longstreet's advance long enough to thwart total Union collapse.

Dec. Edward Everett Hale's "The Man without a Country," appeared in the Atlantic Monthly. His inspiration: "Copperhead" Clement Laird Vallandigham, who violated General Burnside's order about declaring public sympathy for the South. After a trial, Lincoln sentenced Vallandigham to exile from the Union--and had him sent to the Confederacy. (See also: Vallandigham in Footnote People in U.S. History, Chap. 3.)

Dec. 1 Samuel Goodale, of Ohio, patented the stereopticon. His device, operated by hand, made multiple use of the magic lantern, projecting a combination of images onto a wall or screen. It introduced the 1st of the "peepshow" offerings.

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