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Monday, May 05, 2008

SUNDAY, MAY 10, 1863

In Virginia General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson dies of pneumonia, brought on by bed rest demanded by his wounds at Chancellorsville. When told of his death, Lee, who admits he did not know Jackson very well, still cries out, “I have lost my right arm.”

In Mississippi, Union General McPherson’s Corps cautiously approaches Utica, while Sherman’s Corps advances to the Big Sandy River. McClernand’s Corps, out the lead for the first time since leaving Miliken's Bend, has been ordered to slowly fall back Clinton. Grant has now dropped all his “lines of communication” with Grand Gulf. His men are making do with the rations they carry and what they can forage from the countryside. It is a massive gamble.

William T. Sherman will later calculate that each Union soldier in the field requires three pounds of food stuffs each day, in addition to the 13 pounds of “re-supply” required to keep him “effective”. All of this had to be carried in horse or mule drawn wagons that accompanied each regiment and which tailed behind the army in long supply trains. In addition, each regiment was expected to carry 25% additional supplies for their teamsters - for even though the Civil War has been labeled as “the first railroad war”, its armies were always carried on the backs of horses and mules.

To support each 1,000 men in the field required 40 – 50 wagons (drawn by about 300 mules), to carry foodstuffs (for humans and animals), tents, blankets, cooking gear, ammunition, tack, horse and human shoes, and one or two ambulances. Each of the horses required 26 pounds of fodder per day and each mule required 24 pounds, half of which the army was required to carry and half of which the animals were expected to find for themselves. When Grant proposed “living of the land” after leaving Port Gibson it was a literal proposal for the animals. Each 2-3,000 pound wagon load of supplies could cover about 20 miles in an eight hour day of marching. As the army marched the supplies would be used up, which would lighten the load a little, but the humans and the animals still had to eat.

On average a Civil War army required one horse for every three men - 20 horses to pull each artillery piece, and six mules to pull each wagon. And that was in addition to the mounts for cavalry and officers – which meant that Grant’s army of 42,000 men required 14,000 horses and mules. And the vast majority of animals in a civil war army (and all the mules) were merely beasts of burden. Each horse and mule lived a short, brutal life, even more so than the humans who controlled them.
Following Pemberton’s orders, Gregg’s brigade begins another forced march from their positions North of Jackson to Raymond, 25 miles to the West.
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