Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Diary of 1st Lieutenant Lemuel A. Abbott: Tuesday, August 16, 1864

Such trifling! I'm tired of it! Must be we are waiting for something — aren't ready. I am glad to lay quiet, but such suspense keeps us from resting. We can't depend on quiet. It's rumored we are to fall back this evening. Quite a game of chess seems to be going on between the armies.* It has been very dull since we left Harper's Ferry. We have done nothing but march without mail and time drags; are nearly out of rations.

* The reason of General Sheridan's caution was that General Grant had warned him from Petersburg while at Cedar Creek, that General Lee had sent a reinforcement to General Early of General Anderson's Corps of two divisions of infantry under General Fitzhugh Lee, and to be cautious. General Sheridan's army then consisted of the Sixth Corps, two divisions of the Nineteenth Corps, General Crook's Eighth Corps, two divisions of cavalry and the usual amount of artillery. The other division of the Nineteenth Corps and one division of cavalry were en route to join him, which, when they arrived, would give him a force of about 30,000 men, and Early would have about the same number. Thus both sides were similarly situated — waiting for reinforcements — and neither after Sheridan received word from Grant of Early's expected reinforcements, were ready to fight; hence the seemingly at the same time unnecessary game of chess between the two armies which so wore on us and which caused the petulant outbreak in my diary. Had Sheridan known of Early's reinforcements before going to Strasburg, of course he would not have gone. Early, of course, was retreating towards his reinforcements purposely so that when he met them he could then give battle. It was a narrow escape for Sheridan. He sent Wilson's division of cavalry to Front Royal to investigate, where he found Kershaw's division of infantry and Fitzhugn Lee with two brigades of cavalry at the ford, and then left to report to Sheridan.

SOURCE: Lemuel Abijah Abbott, Personal Recollections and Civil War Diary, 1864, p. 135-6

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