“A Most Intense Hatred”

June 8, 1861

Garrett Davis

Today, Major General George McClellan, commander of the Union Department of the Ohio, received some “intelligence” from Kentucky Senator Garrett Davis.

Davis reported that an “intelligent friend” of his just up from Mississippi had learned on his northward trip many things about Confederate troop strengths in Mississippi and Tennessee, plus the immediate plans Confederates in Virginia.

Beauregard was to make a movement on Alexandria and a feint attack on Mansfield’s lines, and then fall rapidly back on the interior of Virginia, with a view to draw Mansfield after him in rapid pursuit, and in this way he was to be drawn deeply in the pursuit, when all the Confederate forces that could in the interval be assembled in Virginia and all that could be got together in that State were to move rapidly upon him, intercept his retreat, and capture or annihilate his army. 

Not too far from the truth.

Davis then got into descriptions of soldiers North and South which played common regional notions and still surface in Civil War stereotypes.

The gentleman told me that the whole Southern people were animated by the most intense hatred against the Northern States and Lincoln’s administration, and felt the greatest confidence that their forces would be victorious wherever they fought on anything like equal terms. He also expressed his own belief that the Southern men had much greater skill in the use of small-arms, superiority in horsemanship, and were more alert and spirited than Northern men, and that when they were anything like equal in numbers they would be victorious, especially in the early battles.

McClellan, who would never have much luck with military intelligence, passed the info on up to General-in-Chief Winfield Scott.

Meanwhile, Tennessee officially seceded today, with secessionists in western and middle Tennessee outnumbering unionists in the east, and Virginia turned over its volunteer forces to the Confederate States of America.

Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Vol. 2, p. 677.

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