End of Year Report 1861
Confederate States War Time Progress Report

     The Davis administration could not have made a wiser choice when he selected that of the honorable Judah P. Benjamin to sit among the political decision makers now waging war against the central government of the United States. Initially appointed to the position of Attorney General of the Confederate States, his overall understanding of the greater struggle permitted the President to place him in the strongest cabinet posts necessary to ensure political success. This Jewish forerunner to American politics found himself; towards the end of the first year of the war, standing in for the honorable Leroy Pope Walker, who accepted a commission to join the armies in the field. From the 17th of September 1861 until the end of that year, he struggled to place before the President of the Confederate States his end of year report, the forward progress thereof, being mostly the responsibility of his predecessor.

     The War Department had been privy to official reports before the adjournment of the Congressional session that the population of Arizona territory had become nearly unanimously desirous to annex themselves to the Confederate States. Colonel John R. Baylor had launched an expedition into the territory and thoroughly routed the federal forces there; raised several companies of infantry furnished by the inhabitants, and succeeded in establishing a functional government having appointed himself military governor. He was further supported by regiments under Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley who marched three regiments out to keep a reoccupation force under Colonel E. R. S. Canby from retaking this prized territory.

     The first session of the Confederate Congress passed an act which provided the Indian nations north of Texas and west of Arkansas with a commissioner responsible for protection and alliance, of which Brigadier General Albert Pike had been selected by the State Department. With his exhibited zeal, energy and fidelity he succeeded in the establishment of many treaties among these nations admirably showing a combination of sympathy and friendship for the same.

     In western Virginia, the enemy advances had been successfully repulsed at Greenbrier River under the forces of Brigadier General Henry R. Jackson, and the army under Brigadier General John Floyd at Carnifex Ferry; with the engagement at Leesburg, Virginia in Loudon County, having been the most horrific compared to the numbers engaged in combat. Major General Braxton Bragg was capable with properly utilized batteries to resist the continual attempts to take Pensacola by the United States Navy.

     The attempt to destroy Fort McRee in Pensacola Harbor by the United States Navy's vessels Niagara and Hartford along with Fort Pickens utilized such weight in their artillery the bombardment had shaken the houses in Pensacola ten miles away. The concussion of the continual blasts alone covered the surface of the bay with dead fish.

     The summer engagements of Manassas; fought on Sunday the 21st of July and Oak Hill in Missouri, on Saturday the 10th of August had not been reported to the War Department before the month of October. The successes of these, Mr. Benjamin pointed out had rightfully belonged to the history of his predecessor.

     The War Department by regulation endeavored to take better care of the wounded in providing rail transportation from the camps to better equipped hospitals and relaxed the strict guidelines regarding furloughs and discharges on account of sicknesses, the appended copies being provided for the information of the Confederate Congress. The surgical staffs of the armies had undergone medical board examinations which resulted in the vast majority being found competent and acceptable. Like the officers of the companies, these surgeons mostly had been recommended by the soldiers themselves.

     The Secretary, could himself, see that troops could not be called on for anything less than three years. At first the tenders were incredibly large and the department had to turn great numbers away; but soon enough the governors began retaining their own troops for fear of attacks upon their own fronts. Benjamin could already see that in fighting such a powerful foe they needed to concentrate their efforts, under a central head.

     The logistical nightmare was apparent as state quartermasters and commissaries marched themselves out of their camps of instruction, just shy of being mustered into Confederate service and set up rival purchasers where Confederate officers had been established. These, now purchased equipments and food stuffs for state service instead. Under this premise, soldiers could find themselves being ordered to perform the same duty by independent commanders, and nothing but inefficiency and disaster would have been expected from such a system. In the long run, it would cost the central government less, having hosted a long war with three year volunteers instead of it being conducted by six month soldiers.

     By December of 1861, the number of Confederate regiments in for the duration of the war had been counted with sufficient accuracy at one hundred fifteen; the number for twelve month volunteers at two hundred seventy five, making a total of 390 altogether.

     Simply five months earlier, most who looked upon the war saw a quick and speedy end to it all. A small collection of southern states surprised the country as the end of the war's first year had appeared very promising. Still, in spite of the bloodless opening that previous April in Charleston, South Carolina; the struggle for Southern Independence had yet to see the war machine at full throttle. Richmond would continue to benefit greatly from their choice in the political master mind of Judah P. Benjamin; for the campaign season of 1862 would bring a renewed determination from the armies in blue, and the worse was still yet to come.

Dan (Aldie) Daniel Moran
© 2005

Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a feature writer on the US-Civilwar.com writers staff. He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at dmoran@us-civilwars.net