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After the retreat of the rebel General Lee to the south side of the Rapidan, a considerable portion of his army was detached and sent to re-enforce Bragg, threatened by Rosecrans, at Chattanooga; but, with his numbers thus diminished, Lee assumed a threatening attitude against Meade, and turning his left flank forced him to fall back to the line of Bull Run. Several sharp skirmishes occurred during these operations, in which both sides sustained considerable losses, but no substantial advantage was gained by the rebels, and by the 1st of November they had resumed their original position on the south side of the Rapidan.
After the battle of Murfreesboro, and the occupation of that place by our troops, on the 5th of January, 1863, the enemy took position at Shelbyville and Tullahoma, and the winter and spring were passed in raids and unimportant skirmishes. In June, while General Grant was besieging Vicksburg, information reached the government which led to the belief that a portion of Bragg's army had been sent to the relief of that place; and General Rosecrans was urged to take advantage of this division of the rebel forces and drive them back into Georgia, so as completely to deliver East Tennessee from the rebel armies. He was told that General Burnside would move from Kentucky in aid of this movement. General Rosecrans, however, deemed his forces unequal to such an enterprise; but, receiving re-enforcements, he commenced on the 25th of June a forward movement upon the enemy, strongly intrenched at Tullahoma, with his main force near Shelbyville. Deceiving the rebel General by a movement upon his left flank, Rosecrans threw the main body of his army upon the enemy's right, which he turned so completely that Bragg abandoned his position, and fell back rapidly, and in confusion, to Bridgeport, Alabama, being pursued as far as practicable by our forces. General Burnside had been ordered to connect himself with Rosecrans, but had failed to do so. Bragg continued his retreat across the Cumberland Mountain and the Tennessee River, and took post at Chattanooga, whither he was pursued by Rosecrans, who reached the Tennessee on the 20th of August, and on the 21st commenced shelling Chattanooga and making preparation for throwing his army across the river. A reconnoisance, made by General Crittenden on the 9th of September, disclosed the fact, that the rebels had abandoned the position, which was immediately occupied by our forces, who pushed forward towards the South. Indications that the rebel General was receiving heavy re-enforcements and manoeuvring to turn the right of our army, led to a concentration of all our available forces, and, subsequently, to the appointment of General Grant to command the whole army thus brought together. On the 19th of September, General Rosecrans was attacked by the rebel forces—their main force being directed against his left wing under General Thomas, endeavoring to turn it so as to gain the road to Chattanooga. The attack was renewed the next morning, and with temporary success— Longstreet's Corps having reached the field and poured its massive columns through a gap left in the centre of our line by an unfortunate misapprehension of an order; but the opportune arrival and swift energy of General Granger checked his advance, and the desperate valor of Thomas and his troops repulsed every subsequent attempt of the enemy to carry the position. Our losses, in this series of engagements, were 1,644 killed, 9,262 wounded, and 4,845 missing—a total swelled by the estimated losses of our cavalry to about 16,351. The rebel General immediately sent Longstreet against Burnside, who was at Knoxville, while he established his main force again in the neighborhood of Chattanooga. On the 23d of November, General Grant moved his army to attack him, and on the 25th the whole of the range of heights known as Missionary Ridge, held by Bragg, was carried by our troops after a desperate struggle, and the enemy completely routed. This was a very severe engagement, and our loss was estimated at about 4,000. Generals Thomas and Hooker pushed the rebel forces back into Georgia, and Granger and Sherman were sent into East Tennessee to relieve Burnside and raise the siege of Knoxville, which was pressed by Longstreet, who, failing in this attempt, soon after retreated towards Virginia. Upon receiving intelligence of these movements the President issued the following recommendation :
ExECUTIVE MANsion, WASHINGTON, D. C., December 7, 1863. Reliable information being received that the insurgent force is retreat ing from East Tennessee, under circumstances rendering it probable that the Union forces cannot hereafter be dislodged from that important position; and esteeming this to be of high national consequence, I recommend that all loyal people do, on receipt of this information, assemble at their places of worship, and render special homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of the National cause. A. LINCOLN.
On the 3d of October, the President had issued the following proclamation, recommending the observance of the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving:
The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to invite and provoke the aggressions of foreign States, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict, while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. The needful diversion of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship. The axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect a continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and voice, by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at Sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and prayer to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the
[I. s.] year of our Lord 1863, and of the independence of the
United States the eighty-eighth. - ABRAHAM LINGOLN. By the President: WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
PoliticAL MOVEMENTS IN MISSOURI.--THE STATE ELECTIONS of 1863.
THE condition of affairs in Missouri has been somewhat peculiar, from the very outbreak of the rebellion. At the outset the Executive Department of the State government was in the hands of men in full sympathy with the secession cause, who, under pretence of protecting the State from domestic violence, were organizing its forces for active co-operation with the rebel movement. On the 30th of July, 1861, the State Convention, originally called by Governor Jackson, for the purpose of taking Missouri out of the Union, but to which the people had elected a large majority of Union men, declared all the Executive offices of the State vacant, by reason of the treasonable conduct of the incumbents, and appointed a Provisional Government, of which the Hon. H. R. Gamble was at the head. He at once took measures to maintain the National authority within the State. He ordered the troops belonging to the rebel confederacy to withdraw from it, and called upon all the citizens of the State to organize for its defence, and for the preservation of peace within its borders. He also issued a proclamation, framed in accordance with the following suggestions from Washington:
WASHINGTON, August 3, 1861.
To His Excellency Gov. GAMBLE, Governor of Missouri:
In reply to your Message, addressed to the President, I am directed to say, that if, by a Proclamation, you promise security to citizens in arms, who voluntarily return to their allegiance, and behave as peaceable
and loyal men, this Government will cause the promise to be respected. SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War.