Strike The Tent...
31 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1865 - Fighting at White Oak Road and Dinwiddie Court House
 
30 March 2006
  Hoosac Valley News & Transcript
September 18, 1862 -

THE SPIRIT OF SEVENTY-SIX-

A Lieutenant in the 10th regiment wrote to his wife, in this city, recently that he applied for leave of absence several times, and had been refused; but that he was coming home in October if he had to resign. His wife immediately replied "Don't you do it! Die first!" She told a friend of hers, with dewy eyes, that, "Charley was all she had on earth. She was destitute of father, mother sister, and brother; but "she had given Charley to God and her country, and she would not take him back." If anybody believes that the race has degenerated and patriotism has died out, or that the days of giving petticoats for cartridges, and spoons for bullets, has passed, let him read this statement and believe so no longer.
 
  Today in Civil War History
1825 - Confederate General Samuel Bell Maxey born.
 
29 March 2006
  Mission (Almost) Accomplished
Here are my letters, confirming that if I successfully complete my courses this semester, I will graduate May 13 with a BA in History, and a Minor in Public and Local History. Sorry for the shameless self-promotion.


 
  Beauvoir Clean-up Continues
BILOXI, Miss. — Hurricane Katrina cleanup continues at Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library. The storm washed out the lowest level of the home, blew off the front and side porches and damaged the roof. It washed away the first floor of the Presidential Library. The other five buildings on the 50-acre site were destroyed.

Curator Richard Flowers says about 65 percent of the artifacts in the Confederate and Jefferson Davis museums have been recovered. Research volumes and archives that were on the second floor of the presidential library were not undamaged. However, paper items and paintings in storage and on display in both museums were damaged or destroyed. The destruction was so complete that the largest pieces of the 10-foot by 20-foot painting of the battle at Brice’s Cross-roads measured only 6 inches by 6 inches. Flowers describes frames and canvases in “bits and pieces.” The storm also washed out the collection vault in the Confederate Museum, damaging or destroying everything in it. The artifacts that survived were the “hardware” — the guns, swords and metal items — and they will need con-servation since many are rusty and damaged. Some of the lost items were on loan to Beauvoir. The Louisiana State Museum had loaned the catafalque from Jefferson Davis’ funeral. Flowers says pieces of it, including five of the six ornate wooden cannon and some decora-tion, have been found.

All that was found of the Davis saddle on loan from the Museum of the Confederacy was a stirrup. Flowers is happy to report that Davis’ Dragoon sword from when he served in the Indian Wars after his commis-sion from West Point was recovered in good shape. Because of the time frame and the number of items, it was impossible to remove artifacts before Katrina hit. Flowers says some things, such as valuable flags, were moved from the Confederate Museum to the second floor of the presidential library and they survived. More than half the furniture in Beauvoir belonged to the Davis family and virtually all of it survived Katrina. Flowers says some furniture sustained damage, such as broken legs, from blowing and floating. When part of the roof came off with the front porch rain and salt water damaged furniture that was in Winnie’s room and the front parlor. The furniture and artifacts that survived the hurricane have been moved off site to secure climate-controlled stor-age.

Director Patrick Hotard, whose house at Beauvoir was destroyed, says heavy debris — remains of Biloxi build-ings — has been cleared from the site. General cleanup continues. The property is closed to the public for safety reasons. Both the home and library had roof damage as well as destruction of the lower levels. “We’ve done some tempo-rary repairs to those buildings to try to keep the elements out until we move into the complete restoration process,” Hotard reports. An architect is working on plans for reconstructing the house, which was built in 1852, and the 1998 library. Ho-tard says there’s discussion of rebuilding the two antebellum pavilions, including the library where Davis wrote The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. While the hope is to have Beauvoir restored in time for the 200th anniversary of Jefferson Davis’ June 3, 2008, birth, Hotard says a timetable is hard to develop until the architect’s plans are completed.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Del., “have been very helpful to us in many ways,” Hotard reports. Beauvoir is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Beauvoir’s restoration has added significance due to Katrina’s devastation. Flowers says it is the oldest antebellum house left on a 35-40 mile stretch of Gulf of Mexico beach. Katrina destroyed the other historic houses in Biloxi and Gulfport. Thanks to the friendship of National Trust President Richard Moe and developer Donald Trump, Trump recently donated $25,000 to the rebuilding fund. A couple of hundred thousand dollars has been contributed so far, Hotard says. Between its years as the postwar Davis home and a memorial to Jefferson Davis it was a home for Confederate veterans and their widows.

The December 1929 issue of Confederate Veteran reported formation of the Beauvoir Memorial Committee to fur-ther memorial purposes and to locate and authenticate family articles. Davis’ widow Varina deeded the house to the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 1903. They voted in 1930 to restore the house to its status when Davis lived there “as a perpetual shrine” to his memory.

Donations may be sent to Beauvoir Relief, P.O. Box 7, Meridian, MS 39302-0007. The online gift shop is at www.beauvoir.org.

(The Civil War News, http://www.civilwarnews.com/news.cfm)
 
  Hoosac Valley News & Transcript May 22, 1863
DEATH OF GENERAL JACKSON-
The Richmond papers announce the death of the famous Rebel General Jackson, popularly known as Stonewall Jackson. He died on Sunday from wounds received in the late engagements on the south side of the Rappahannock. General Jackson had his left arm shattered near the shoulder, and also received a ball through his right arm. Curiously enough the Richmond Despatch alleges and finds consolation in the fact that he was not wounded by our men, but received his death injuries from his own men in the confusion of the fight. The death of Gen. Jackson is undoubtedly a very severe loss to the Rebels. For some species of work, which required dash, energy and reckless bravery, he was unquestionably their most able General. For the good of our cause we may rejoice that he is out of the way, but even whilst thus rejoicing, a brave enemy will not withhold an expression of admiration of his soldierly abilities and personal virtues. He has hit our army many severe blows and only needed a better cause to have been one of the world's heroes.
 
  Today in Civil War History
1865 - Appomattox Campaign Begins
 
  Gettysburg 140th, 2003




 
28 March 2006
  New Link
I was sent a heads up about a new link that might be an asset to the blog, and I am more than glad to oblige. The Museum of Underwater Archaeology is undertaking a project to study and examine the CSS Alabama off the French coast. A very interesting website. As always, a permanent link is posted to the right.
 
  Today in Civil War History
1862 - Battle of Glorieta Pass
 
  Welcome A New Blog
Andrew Wagenhofer's Civil War Books & Authors makes a debut here today. Stop by and say hi. It looks like Drew has a well-written, insightful blog. As always, a permanent link is at the right...
 
27 March 2006
  Hoosac Valley News & Transcript October 2, 1862
WHITE MEN AS LABORERS AT THE SOUTH-

We wish we could remove one fallacy that labor performed by negroes on the plantations of the south cannot be done by white men. We say it can; and it can be done cheaper and better. Intelligent and independent Southerners will admit this. Why, the white farmers of the west, in their harvesting season, work and are happy and healthy, under a sun quite as oppressive as that of this latitude. The hod carriers of the North, with no wool to shield their heads, work as no negro could work, in a sun quite as broiling as anything experienced in a ricefield or a cane brake. We throw these assertions out for the examination of the philosopher and the statesman. And we will anticipate events so far as to say that a sugar plantation will be worked in this state by white men before the year is out.
Don't, then, believe those who tell you a white man can't do what a negro can. He can do all that a negro can in the way of laboring in the sun, and ever so much more.
 
26 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1864 - McPherson takes over the Army of the Tennessee
 
  Another Civil War Blog, And A Map Site
Sean Dail of Raleigh, NC has begun War of the Rebellion Revisited . Stop by and give him a look. There will be a permanent link in the right column. I've also added MapMuse , which features interactive battlefield maps. Enjoy.
 
  List Of Officers And Men, Co. G 49th MVM
Co. G 49th Reg. M.V.M. From Adams and Williamstown

Williamstown
Capt. Francis W. Parker
1st Lieut. Robert B. Harvie
2d. Lieut. Henry M. Lyons

Sergeants
1st, G.T. Southwick; 2d, D.W. Torrey; 3d, Geo. N. Lyons; 4th, Ira W. Wood; 5th, Chas. Waters

Corporals
1st, Henry Glasier; 2d, Frank Gove; 3d, Orson Dalrymple; 4th, E.W. Garlick; 5th, J.W. Nelson; 6th, Wm. Crosier; 7th, A.H. Upton; 8th, Sobriski Fowler

Privates
A.G. Aldrich, J.W. Adams, Joseph Avery, H.W. Babcock, Zebulon Beebee, H.N. Brown, S.B. Bennett, J.N. Briggs, S.W. Cox, Geo S. Clark, John Courtney, Chas. Courtwright, H.C. Crandell, Frank Carde, Chad Cheesbro, Riley Collwell, Patrick Carley, D.D. Clark, Edward Cobleigh, J.S. Clegg, Lucien A. Daniels, Geo. W. Dodge, W.B. Dammon, E.J. Davis, B.C. Estes, Patrick Fern, W.F. Gray, J.M. Galusha, James Hussey, Chas. B. Hermon, John Hilliard, Sam'l Hickox, E.G. Ingraham, John M. Leonard, John McGue, Wm. N. Montgomery, Wm. Miller, Thos. Murphy, H.A. May, D. Martindale, W.G. Maynard, O.H. Marsh, D.W. Noyes, Benedict Miles, J.W. Noyes, R.J. Nordaby, A.F. Ormsbee, Levi M. Porter, A.W. Reed, Michael Ryan, Issac L. Rosevelt, S.P. Robinson, E. H. Raymond, E.G. Robinson, Wm. T. Reed, J.F. Reynolds, W.E. Sampson, E.B. Sweet, A.H. Smith, E.G. Smedley, D. W. Southwick, H. M. Sheldon, Geo. Smith, D.D. Snook, Thos. J. Sweet, E.O. Tower, C.E. Torrey, Wm. A. Welton, Geo. Wicks, Chas. A. Wilbur, Harrison White, Alfred W. Cheesbro, Warren Parsons

Eight Regiments are in camp.

Two or three of the above listed are not yet mustered in. Several more who have enlisted are daily expected into camp to join the company.

But very little sickness has occured, and that was caused by carelessness. All soldiers should go to camp with warm clothing.

(Hoosac Valley News & Transcript, September 18, 1862)

*The 49th was organized at Pittsfield and mustered in October 28, 1862. Moved to New York November 21, and provost duty there until January 24, 1863. Embarked for New Orleans, La., on Steamer "Illinois" January 24, arriving there February 3, then moved to Carrollton and Baton Rouge, La. Attached to 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 19th Army Corps, Dept. of the Gulf, to August, 1863.

SERVICE.--Reconnoissance toward Port Hudson March 13-20, 1863. At Baton Rouge until May 18. Operations against Port Hudson May 18-24. Action at Plain's Store May 21. Siege of Port Hudson May 24-July 9. Assaults on Port Hudson May 27 and June 14. Surrender of Port Hudson July 9. Moved to Donaldsonville July 9-10, and duty there until August 1. Action at Cox's Plantation, Donaldsonville, July 12-13. Moved to Baton Rouge August 1, then to Pittsfield, Mass., August 8-21. Mustered out September 1, 1863.

Regiment lost during service 2 Officers and 28 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 84 Enlisted men by disease. Total 114.

* Chad Cheesbro was the older brother of John "Happy Jack" Cheesbro, Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher.
 
24 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1862 - Wendall Phillips booed in Cincinnati.

 
23 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1862 - Battle of Kernstown, VA .
 
  The Sullivan Ballou Letter
July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington

My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more . . .

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt . . .

Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness . . .

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again . . .”(http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/war/ballou_letter.html)

Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.
 
  Identifying Figures From Burn's "The Civil War"
Sam Watkins
 
22 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History

1817 - General Braxton Bragg born.
 
  Snippets From September 11, 1862
From the Hoosac Valley News & Transcript, September 11, 1862:


Our thanks to Dea. Samuel Ingalls for Liverpool papers per the Steamer Asia.


TO THOSE CLAIMING EXEMPTION FROM THE DRAFT-
The following surgeons have been appointed by General Order No. 42, of the Governor, for Berkshire County, to hear and determine upon the excuses of persons claiming to be exempt from military duty:
Drs. T. Childs, Pittsfield; H.L. Sabin, Williamstown; N.S. Babbitt, North Adams; C.T. Collins, Great Barrington; C.C. Holcomb, Lee. Exemptions claimed for disability for the draft must be signed by and procured of one of the above named surgeons, - all other certificates of exemption being worthless.



S.V.R. Daniels, the flour merchant of Pittsfield, has gone to the war as assistant to Dr. T. Childs.



The man who thinks more of his dollars than he does of the Union, has no business to live in a free country. To endow such a creature with the privileges of liberty would be to throw pearls before swine. The men of this stamp in this vicinity will be marked by the people.



Wm. Pratt of Hoosick, after enlisting and receiving his bounty money, ingloriously ran away. He has been lurking around about this village. Parties are looking him up.



Floyd


A REBEL CARBINE-
Samuel Lee of this village, a member of the 27th Mass. Band, just discharged from the service, has returned home. Our thanks are due Lt. J.B. Joslyn, Co. H. of the above regiment, for the rebel carbine, captured at the affair at French's Creek. The arm was manufactured at Harper's Ferry, and bears the date of 1834. It is probably one of the arms stolen by the arch thief Floyd, and is breech-loading
 
20 March 2006
  Hoosac Valley News and Transcript, September 18, 1862
1st Baptist Church, North Adams, MA






From the local (North Adams, MA) newsweekly:

War Sermon - Rev. Mr. Sanford's* war sermon at the Baptist Church in this village on Sunday evening last was founded on the text, Ezra 7:26, "And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the King, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment." The conclusions of the speaker, drawn from his subject, were most forcible, and his denunciations of the crime of slavery and its upholders, both North and South, most deserved. Among other statements, which every reasoning man has not failed to discover, he said that the holding in bondage of the slaves by our government, or the refusal to emancipate them, kept half the southern army in the field. He thought that the government held more sacred southern homes, if emancipation should breed revolt and revenge on the part of the negroes upon the families of the slaveholders than it did the shedding of the blood of our fathers and brothers, which is filling thousands of northern homes with mourning. Emancipation and consequent slave-revolt would scatter the rebel army like chaff.

* Dr. Miles Sanford served the North Adams Baptist Church from 1853-1871.
 
19 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History

1865 Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina


Confederate General Joseph Johnston makes a desperate attempt to stop Union General William T. Sherman's drive through the Carolinas in the war's last days, but Johnston's motley army cannot stop the advance of Sherman's mighty army.

Following his famous March to the Sea in late 1864, Sherman paused for a month at Savannah, Georgia. He then turned north into the Carolinas, destroying all that lay in his path in an effort to demoralize the South and hasten the end of the war. Sherman left Savannah with 60,000 men divided into two wings. He captured Columbia, South Carolina, in February and continued towards Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he planned to meet up with another army coming from the coast. Sherman intended to march to Petersburg, Virginia, where he would join General Ulysses S. Grant and crush the army of Robert E. Lee, the largest remaining Confederate force.

Sherman assumed that Rebel forces in the Carolinas were too widely dispersed to offer any significant resistance, but Johnston assembled 17,000 troops and attacked one of Sherman's wings at Bentonville on March 19. The Confederates initially surprised the Yankees, driving them back before a Union counterattack halted the advance and darkness halted the fighting. The next day, Johnston established a strong defensive position and hoped for a Yankee assault. More Union troops arrived and gave Sherman a nearly three to one advantage over Johnston. When a Union force threatened to cut off the Rebel's only line of retreat on March 21, Johnston withdrew his army northward.

The Union lost 194 men killed, 1,112 wounded, and 221 missing, while the Confederates lost 240 killed, 1,700 wounded, and 1,500 missing. About Sherman, Johnston wrote to Lee that, "I can do no more than annoy him." A month later, Johnston surrendered his army to Sherman.
 
18 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1864 Sanitary Commission Fair in Washington



The U.S. Sanitary Commission Fair in Washington, D.C., closes with President Lincoln commending the organization for its fine work.

The Sanitary Commission formed in 1861, the creation of northern civilians concerned for Union troops' medical care. The voluntary association raised more than $22 million in donations and medical supplies, and it represented a major contribution by Yankee women to the war effort. Although administered by men, the vast majority of its volunteers were women. The commission raised supplies and provided lodging and meals to wounded soldiers and troops returning home on furlough. It gathered medicine and bandages for the army and sent inspectors to the camps to oversee the set up of clean water supplies, latrines, and cooking facilities. Volunteers worked on the front lines as doctors and nurses helped evacuate wounded soldiers to the rear.

Some generals and army doctors found commission workers to be annoying and troublesome, especially when they criticized army medical practices. One doctor complained about what he saw as "sensation preachers, village doctors, and strong-minded women" interfering with the doctors' work. Some of these women included noted reformer Dorthea Dix and Mary Ann Bickerdyke, a tough no-nonsense church volunteer who became the commission's agent to the Army of the Tennessee before the Battle of Shiloh. She was completely dedicated to caring for common soldiers, and she was not afraid to challenge doctors and officers when she thought their care was being compromised. At Chattanooga, she ordered timbers for breastworks burned to keep wounded soldiers warm--when military police asked her who had authorized the burning, she replied, "Under the authority of God Almighty. Have you got anything better than that?"

The commission's work fit 19th century women's socially proscribed roles as caretakers and nurturers of men, but the work also allowed women to carve out their own careers, and it could be seen as a step forward for the women's rights movement. Lincoln said at the closing of the Sanitation Commission Fair, "if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war."
 
16 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1865 Battle of Averasboro, North Carolina


The mighty army of Union General William T. Sherman encounters its most significant resistance as it tears through the Carolinas on its way to join General Ulysses Grant's army at Petersburg, Virginia. Confederate General William Hardee tried to block one wing of Sherman's force, commanded by Henry Slocum, but the motley Rebel force was swept aside at Averasboro, North Carolina.

Sherman's army left Savannah, Georgia, in late January and began to drive through the Carolinas with the intention of inflicting the same damage on those states as it famously had on Georgia two months prior. The Confederates could offer little opposition, and Sherman rolled northward while engaging in only a few small skirmishes. Now, however, the Rebels had gathered more troops and dug in their heels as the Confederacy entered its final days.

Hardee placed his troops across the main roads leading away from Fayetteville in an effort to determine Sherman's objective. Union cavalry under General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick contacted some of Hardee's men along the old Plank Road northeast of Fayetteville on March 15. Kilpatrick could not punch through, so he regrouped and waited until March 16 to renew the attack. When they tried again, the Yankees still could not break the Confederate lines until two divisions of Slocum's infantry arrived. In danger of being outflanked and possibly surrounded, Hardee withdrew his troops and headed toward a rendezvous with Joseph Johnston's gathering army at Bentonville, North Carolina.

The Yankees lost 95 men killed, 533 wounded, and 54 missing, while Hardee lost about 865 total. The battle did little to slow the march of Sherman's army.
 
15 March 2006
  Today in (Local) Civil War History
1831 CSA General Edward A. Perry born in Richmond, MA



Confederate General and Berkshire County native Edward Aylesworth Perry is born in Richmond, Massachusetts. The transplanted Yankee led a Florida brigade during the war, and served as governor of the state after the war.

Perry received his education at Lee Academy in Massachusetts and then at Yale University. In 1852, he moved to Georgia to teach school and study law. After a sojourn in Alabama, he settled in Pensacola, Florida, to practice. When the war erupted, Perry took up arms for his adopted state, becoming a captain in the Pensacola Rifle Rangers. His company was later absorbed into the 2nd Florida Infantry. He participated in the occupation of the Pensacola navy yard before joining the Confederate army in Virginia.

The 2nd Florida fought in the Peninsular campaign, defending Yorktown in the face of General George B. McClellan's invading Union army. Perry become the regiment's commander when Colonel George Ward was killed near Williamsburg, and Perry led the unit through hard fighting during the Seven Days' battles in June 1862. Three months later, the Floridians fought at the Battle of Antietam and suffered heavy losses. Perry was promoted to brigadier general and received command of two other Florida regiments. He fought at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, but typhoid fever caused him to miss the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, where his brigade lost more than half of its men.

Perry returned to command, but he was seriously wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864. He was forced to relinquish control of his brigade, and after his recovery he spent the rest of the war commanding reserve troops in Alabama. He served as governor of Florida from 1884 to 1888, and in that post he signed a bill providing pensions for Confederate veterans. His failing health forced him to Texas in 1889, where he died from a stroke at Kerrville on October 15. He is buried in St. John's Cemetery in Pensacola.
 
14 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1862 Battle of New Bern, North Carolina


Union General Ambrose Burnside captures North Carolina's second largest city and closes another port through which the Confederates could slip supplies.

The capture of New Bern continued Burnside's success along the Carolina coast. Five weeks earlier, he led an amphibious force against Roanoke Island between Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. The Yankees captured the island on February 8; now Burnside moved against New Bern on the mainland. On March 13, he landed 12,000 troops along the Neuse River, 15 miles south of New Bern. Accompanied by 13 gunboats, Burnside's army marched up river to face 4,000 Confederate troops commanded by General Lawrence O. Branch.

The city was protected by extensive defenses, but Branch did not have enough soldiers to properly staff them. He concentrated his men along the inner works a few miles downriver from New Bern. Early on the morning of March 14, Burnside's men attacked in a heavy fog-two of the three Yankee brigades crashed into the fortifications. General Jesse Reno's brigade struck the weakest part of the line, where an inexperienced Rebel militia unit tried to hold off the Federals. Burnside's third brigade joined Reno and the Confederate line collapsed. That afternoon, Union gunboats steamed into New Bern.

Union casualties for the battle were 90 killed and 380 wounded, while the Confederates suffered 64 killed, 101 wounded, and 413 captured. The conflict produced a Confederate hero, Colonel Zebulon Vance, who rescued his regiment by using small boats to bypass a bridge set afire by his comrades. Vance was elected governor of the state later that year.
 
13 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1865 Confederacy approves black soldiers



In a desperate measure, the Confederate States of America reluctantly approve the use of black troops as the main Rebel armies face long odds against much larger Union armies at this late stage of the war.

The situation was bleak for the Confederates in the spring of 1865. The Yankees had captured large swaths of southern territory, General William T. Sherman's Union army was tearing through the Carolinas, and General Robert E. Lee was trying valiantly to hold the Confederate capital of Richmond against General Ulysses S. Grant's growing force. Lee and Confederate president Jefferson Davis had only two options. One was for Lee to unite with General Joseph Johnston's army in the Carolinas and use the combined force to take on Sherman and Grant one at a time. The other option was to arm slaves, the last source of fresh manpower in the Confederacy.

The idea of enlisting blacks had been debated for some time. Arming slaves was essentially a way of setting them free, since they could not realistically be sent back to the plantation after they had fought. General Patrick Cleburne had suggested enlisting slaves a year before, but few in the Confederate leadership considered the proposal, since slavery was the foundation of southern society. One politician asked, "What did we go to war for, if not to protect our property?" Another suggested, "If slaves will make good soldiers, our whole theory of slavery is wrong." Lee weighed in on the issue and asked the Confederate government for help. "We must decide whether slavery shall be extinguished by our enemies and the slaves be used against us, or use them ourselves." Lee asked that the slaves be freed as a condition of fighting, but the bill that passed the Confederate Congress on March 13 did not stipulate freedom for those who served.

The measure did nothing to stop the destruction of the Confederacy. Several thousand blacks were enlisted in the Rebel cause, but they could not begin to balance out the nearly 200,000 blacks that fought for the Union.
 
12 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1864 Red River Campaign begins


One of the biggest military fiascos of the war begins as a combined Union force of infantry and riverboats begins moving up the Red River in Louisiana. The month-long campaign was poorly managed and achieved none of the objectives set forth by Union commanders.

The campaign had several strategic goals. The Union hoped to capture everything along the Red River in Louisiana and continue into Texas. President Lincoln hoped to send a symbolic warning to France, which had set up a puppet government in Mexico and seemed to have designs on territorial expansion. Finally, the expedition could also capture cotton-producing regions, a product in short supply in the North.

The plan called for Admiral David Dixon Porter to take a flotilla of 20 gunboats up the Red River while General Nathaniel Banks led 27,000 men along the western shore of the river. Porter's squadron entered the river on March 12. Two days later, Fort Derussy fell to the Yankees and the ships moved upriver and captured Alexandria. So far, the expedition was going well, but Banks was moving too slowly. He arrived two weeks after Porter took Alexandria, and he continued to plod towards Shreveport. Banks traveled nearly 20 miles from the Red River, too far for the gunboats to offer any protection. On April 8, Banks' command was attacked and routed by General Richard Taylor, son of former president Zachary Taylor. They fought again the next day, but this time the Yankees held off the Rebel pursuit.

The intimidated Banks elected to retreat back down the river before reaching Shreveport. Porter's ships followed, but the Red River was unusually low and the ships were stuck above some rapids near Alexandria. It appeared that the ships would have to be destroyed to keep them from falling into Confederate hands, but Lt. Colonel Joseph Bailey of Wisconsin, an engineer with a logging background, supervised several thousand soldiers in constructing a series of wing dams that raised the water level enough for the ships to pass. The expedition was deemed a failure--it drew Union strength away from other parts of the South and the group never reached Texas.
 
11 March 2006
  CWPT's "History Under Siege"
I apologize for the delay in getting this on to my blog, but on February 28th, the Civil War Preservation Trust released the 2006 edition of History Under Siege , CWPT's annual report on endangered Civil War battlefields. Making the top 10 endangered battlefields this year are:

1.) Chattahoochee River, Georgia (July 4-10, 1864)
2.) Circle Forts, Washington D.C. (1861-1865)
3.) Fort Morgan, Alabama (Aug. 5-23, 1864)
4.) Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (July 1-3, 1863)
5.) Glendale/Frayser's Farm, Virginia (June 30, 1862)
6.) Glorieta Pass, New Mexico (Mar. 26-28, 1862)
7.) New Orleans Forts, Louisiana (April 16-28, 1862)
8.) Raymond, Mississippi (May 12, 1863)
9.) Shenandoah Valley, Virginia (1861-1865)
10.)The Wilderness, Virginia (May 5-7, 1864)

The CWPT also lists 10 "at risk" sites:

1.) Belmont, Kentucky and Missouri (Nov. 7, 1861)
2.) Buckland, Virginia (Oct. 19, 1863)
3.) Cedar Mountain, Virginia (Aug. 9, 1862)
4.) Cynthiana, Kentucky (June 11–12, 1864)
5.) Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia (June 27, 1864)
6.) Manassas, Virginia (July 21, 1861 & Aug. 28–30, 1862 )
7.) Mansfield, Louisiana (April 8, 1864)
8.) Shepherdstown, West Virginia (Sept. 19-20, 1862)
9.) Spring Hill, Tennessee (Nov. 29, 1864)
10.)Wyse Fork, North Carolina (March 7-10, 1865)

A full Press Release can be read here, or if you prefer, a full pdf version is here.
 
  Gettysburg Monument Returns To Pedestal
One of the three Gettysburg battlefield monuments that were vandalized last month was reset Thursday, March 9th 2006. At 2 p.m., the 114th Pa. Volunteer Infantry monumentís bronze infantryman was returned to its pedestal. With any luck, the individuals responsible will be caught soon.
 
  Today in Civil War History
1862 Lincoln shuffles the Union command


President Lincoln issues War Order No. 3, a measure making several changes at the top of the Union command structure. He created three departments, placing Henry Halleck in charge of the west, John C. Frýmont in command of troops in the Appalachian region, and George McClellan in the east.

The most significant change in the order removed McClellan from his post as General-in-Chief of all Union armies, though McClellan retained command of the Army of the Potomac, the most important Union force. He had assumed leadership of that army after it was defeated at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. He quickly installed an efficient command structure and began training an effective fighting force. Three months later, Lincoln elevated McClellan to General-in-Chief. The relationship between Lincoln and his commanding officer, however, was strained at best and contentious at worst. The arrogant McClellan was contemptuous of the president and he often ignored Lincoln's communications or kept information from him.

McClellan was stretched thin as General-in-Chief, and even he recognized this fact. He was bothered by the demotion, but he wrote to Lincoln that he would "work just as cheerfully as ever before, and...no consideration of self will in any manner interfere with the discharge of my public duties." For McClellan, this was a rare show of grace and deference towards Lincoln. The move allowed McClellan to spend more time planning his upcoming campaign against the Confederate capital at Richmond.

For a time, there was no General-in-Chief, and the three regional commanders reported to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The post did not stay empty for long, though, as Halleck was elevated to General-in-Chief five months later.
 
10 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1865 William H. C. Whiting dies











Confederate General William Henry Chase Whiting dies in prison from wounds suffered during the fall of Fort Fisher, North Carolina.

Born in 1824 in Biloxi, Mississippi, Whiting was educated in Boston and at Georgetown College in Washington, where he graduated first in his class at age 16. He then entered the U.S. Military Academy, where in 1845 he again topped his graduating class. Whiting joined the Corps of Engineers and designed coastal fortifications in the West and South, including the defenses for the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. During this project, he got married and settled in Wilmington, North Carolina.

When the war began, Whiting offered his services to the new Confederate States of America. He was at Fort Sumter when the Union garrison surrendered at the start of the war. He returned to Wilmington in the summer of 1861 to supervise the construction of defenses for the city, and then moved to northern Virginia as chief engineer for the Confederate army forming there. Whiting was responsible for moving troops from the Shenandoah Valley to Manassas in time for the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21. His work was a vital component of the Confederate rout of Union troops there.

Whiting was given command of a division, and his leadership during the Seven Days' battles in June 1862 earned him the praise of the top Confederate leaders. In November 1862, he was given command of the District of Wilmington, allowing him to return to his North Carolina home. He set about strengthening the city's defenses and constructing Fort Fisher at the Cape Fear River's mouth. Partly due to his efforts, Wilmington was one of the most important blockade running ports for the Confederates throughout the war. Whiting spent the rest of the war in Wilmington, with the exception of a few months in 1864 spent shoring up the defenses around Petersburg, Virginia.

Whiting's Fort Fisher was a formidable barrier to the Union capture of Wilmington. General Benjamin Butler led a Yankee force against Fort Fisher in December 1864, but the garrison fended off the attack. The next month, General Alfred Terry launched another assault; this time, Fort Fisher fell to the Yankees. Whiting was badly wounded and captured during the attack. He was able to write his report of the battle three days later, but his health failed when he was shipped to New York and confined in prison at Governor's Island. William H. C. Whiting died on March 10 at age 40.
 
09 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1862 U.S.S. Monitor battles C.S.S. Virginia














One of the most famous naval battles in history occurs as the ironclads Monitor and Virginia fight to a draw off Hampton Roads, Virginia. The ships pounded each other all morning but the armor plates easily shed the cannon shots, signaling a new era of steam-powered iron ships.

The C.S.S. Virginia was originally the U.S.S. Merrimack, a forty-gun frigate launched in 1855. The Confederates captured it and covered it in heavy armor plating above the waterline. Outfitted with powerful guns, the Virginia was a formidable vessel when the Confederates launched her in February 1862. On March 8, the Virginia sunk two Union ships and ran one aground off Hampton Roads.

The next day, the U.S.S. Monitor steamed into the bay. Designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson, the vessel had an unusually low profile, rising from the water only 18 inches. The flat iron deck had a 20-foot cylindrical turret rising from the middle of the ship; the turret housed two 11-inch Dahlgren guns. The shift had a draft of less than 11 feet so it could operate in the shallow harbors and rivers of the South. It was commissioned on February 25, 1862, and arrived at Chesapeake Bay just in time to engage the Virginia.

At 9:00 am, the duel began and continued for four hours. The ships circled one another, jockeying for position as they fired their guns. The cannon balls simply deflected off the iron ships. In the early afternoon, the Virginia pulled back to Norfolk. Neither ship was seriously damaged, but the Monitor effectively ended the short reign of terror that the Confederate ironclad had brought to the Union navy.

Both ships met ignominious ends. When the Yankees invaded the James Peninsula two months after the battle at Hampton Roads, the retreating Confederates scuttled their ironclad. The Monitor went down in bad weather off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, at the end of the year. Though they had short lives, the ships ushered in a new era in naval warfare.
 
08 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1862 C.S.S. Virginia terrorizes Union navy













The Confederate ironclad Virginia wrecks havoc on a Yankee squadron off Hampton Roads, Virginia.

The C.S.S. Virginia was originally the U.S.S. Merrimack, a forty-gun frigate launched in 1855. The Merrimack served in the Caribbean and was the flagship of the Pacific fleet in the late 1850s. In early 1860, the ship was decommissioned for extensive repairs at the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia. It was still there when the war began in April 1861, and Union sailors sank the ship as the yard was evacuated. Six weeks later, a salvage company raised the ship and the Confederates began rebuilding it.

The project required $172,000 to build an ironclad upon the Merrimack's hull. A new gun deck was added and an iron canopy was draped over the entire vessel. The most challenging part of the construction came in finding the iron plating. Richmond's Tredegar Iron Works finally produced it, but the plant had to alter its operations to roll more than 300 tons of scrap iron for the two-inch thick plating.

The Virginia was launched on February 17, 1862. On March 9, it steamed from Norfolk toward Union ships guarding the mouth of the James River at Hampton Roads. Rumors of the ironclad had circulated for several days among the Yankee sailors, and now they saw the creation first hand. They soon wished they hadn't. The Virginia attacked the U.S.S. Cumberland, firing several shots into her before ramming the Federal ship and sinking it. The other Union ships fired back, but the shots were, in the words of one observer, "having no more effect than peas from a pop-gun." Ninety-eight shots hit the Virginia, but none did significant damage. The Virginia then attacked the U.S.S. Congress, which exploded when fires caused by the Confederate barrage reached the powder magazine. The Virginia next ran the U.S.S. Minnesota aground before calling it a day.

It had been the worst day in U.S. naval history and it signaled the end of the wooden ship era. But help was on its way--the next day, the Virginia fought the most famous naval duel in history with the U.S.S. Monitor, a Union ironclad that was able to fight the Confederate ship to a draw.
 
07 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1862 Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern), Arkansas


Union forces under General Samuel Curtis defeat the army of General Earl Van Dorn at Pea Ridge, located in an extreme northwestern section of Arkansas.

Pea Ridge was part of a larger campaign for control of Missouri. Seven months earlier, the Confederates defeated a Union force at Wilson's Creek, some 70 miles northeast of Pea Ridge. General Henry Halleck, the Federal commander in Missouri, now organized an expedition to drive the Confederates from southwestern Missouri. In February 1862, General Samuel Curtis led the 12,000-man army toward Springfield, Missouri. Confederate General Sterling Price retreated from the city with 8,000 troops in the face of the Union advance. Price withdrew into Arkansas, and Curtis followed him.

Price hooked up with another Rebel force led by General Ben McCulloch, and their combined army was placed under the leadership of General Earl Van Dorn, recently appointed commander of Confederates forces in the trans-Mississippi area. Van Dorn joined Price and McCulloch on March 2 and ordered an advance on Curtis' army. Curtis received word of the approaching Confederates and concentrated his force around Elkhorn Tavern. Van Dorn sent part of his army on a march around the Yankees. On March 7, McCulloch slammed into the rear of the Union force, but Curtis anticipated the move and turned his men towards the attack. McCulloch was killed during the battle, and the Confederate attack withered. Meanwhile, the other part of Van Dorn's army attacked the front of Curtis' command. Through bitter fighting the Union troops held their ground.

Curtis, suspecting that the Confederates were low on ammunition, attacked the divided Rebel army the following morning. Van Dorn realized he was in danger and ordered a retreat, ending the battle. The Yankees suffered 1,384 men killed, wounded, or captured out of 10,000 engaged; the Confederates suffered a loss of about 2,000 out of 14,000 engaged. The Union won a decisive victory that also helped them clear the upper Mississippi Valley region on the way to securing control of the Mississippi River by mid-1863.
 
06 March 2006
  Homework For Tuesday, March 7, 2006
Continue with reading Donald, Chapters 24-25 & Gienapp, pp. 377-418. Emily Doyle will summarize.

Two Questions:

1) Ulysses S. Grant affirmed the loyalty of southern whites late in 1865, while Missouri Senator Carl Schurz found there to be an “entire absence of that national spirit which forms the basis of true loyalty and patriotism.” Which came closer to getting at the reality of white southern attitudes towards the reunited American nation-state after the Civil War?

2) The process of economic Reconstruction in the South involved reconciling the fundamentally competing economic interests of the freedpeople and white southern landowners. The job of the Freedmen’s Bureau agent, in part, was the mediate between the landed class and the agricultural working class and to help implement a free labor system in the South. How did the Freedmen’s Bureau fare in this difficult task? (see Gienapp, 382-384, for example)? Did the Bureau agents tend to ally with one group more than another? What, ultimately, was the effect of the Freedmen’s Bureau in the South?
 
  Today in Civil War History
1857 Dred Scott decision



The United States Supreme Court issues a decision in the Dred Scott case, one of the most important cases in the court's history. In the ruling, the court affirmed the right of slave owners to take their slaves into the western territories, negating the doctrine of popular sovereignty and severely undermining the platform of the newly created Republican Party.

At the heart of the case was the most important question of the 1850s: Should slavery be allowed in the West? As part of the Compromise of 1850, residents of newly created territories could decide the issue of slavery by vote, a process known as popular sovereignty. When popular sovereignty was applied in Kansas in 1854, however, violence erupted. Americans hoped that the Supreme Court could settle the issue that had eluded a Congressional solution.

Dred Scott was a slave whose owner, an army doctor, had spent time in Illinois, a free state, and Wisconsin, a free territory at the time of Scott's residence. The Supreme Court was stacked in favor of the slave states. Five of the nine justices were from the South while another, Robert Grier of Pennsylvania, was staunchly pro-slavery. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote the majority decision, which was issued on March 6. The court held that Scott was not free based on his residence in either Illinois or Wisconsin because Scott was not considered a person under the Constitution--in the opinion of the justices, black people were not considered citizens when the Constitution was drafted in 1787. According to Taney, Dred Scott was the property of his owner, and property could not be taken from a person without due process of law.

In fact, there were free black citizens of the United States in 1787, but Taney and the other justices were attempting to halt further debate on the issue of slavery in the territories. The decision inflamed regional tensions, which burned for another four years before exploding into the Civil War.
 
05 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1862 P.G.T. Beauregard assumes command of Army of Mississippi.



Beauregard was born at the "Contreras" plantation in St. Bernard Parish, outside of New Orleans, Louisiana, to a white Creole family. His nickname to many of his army friends was The Little Creole (and also Bory, The Little Frenchman, Felix, and The Little Napoleon). He trained at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, graduating in 1838, and excelled both as an artilleryman and military engineer. He served as a engineer under Winfield Scott during the Mexican-American War. There, he was brevetted to captain for the battles of Contreras and Churubusco and again to major for Chapultepec, where he was wounded in the shoulder and thigh in 1847. Although little is known of his married life, he was the brother-in-law of future Confederate diplomat John Slidell.

Beauregard briefly entered into politics in his home town, and was narrowly defeated in the election for Mayor of New Orleans in 1858. He was chief engineer in charge of draining New Orleans from 1858 to 1861, and directed the building of the Federal customs house. He then returned to teach at West Point, where he rose to become the superintendent of the Military Academy in January 1861, but resigned after only a few days when Louisiana seceded from the Union.


Beauregard entered the Confederate Army as a brigadier general in March of 1861, but was promoted on July 21 to be one of the eventual eight full generals in the Confederate Army; his date of rank made him the fifth most senior general. He recommended stationing strong forces to protect New Orleans, but was overruled by President Jefferson Davis; this started friction between Beauregard and Davis that would only intensify as years progressed.

Beauregard's first assignment from the Confederate Government was command of the forces in Charleston, South Carolina, where on April 12, 1861, he opened fire on the Union-held Fort Sumter, regarded as the start of the American Civil War. He and General Joseph E. Johnston led Confederate forces to victory in the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas), where they defeated Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell, one of Beauregard's West Point classmates. During the First Battle of Bull Run, he employed Quaker Guns, something he would use in numerous other battles.

Beauregard was transferred to Tennessee and assumed command of Confederate forces at the Battle of Shiloh when General Albert Sidney Johnston was killed. Although successful the first day of battle, April 6, 1862, Beauregard called off the attack prematurely, assuming that the Union army was defeated. He was forced to retreat the second day after Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was reinforced and counterattacked. Beauregard later was forced to retreat from his base of supplies, Corinth, Mississippi, by forces under Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck.

Beauregard successfully defended Charleston, South Carolina, from repeated Union attacks 1862–1864. In 1864, he assisted Robert E. Lee in the defense of Richmond, Virginia, defeating Benjamin Butler in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign near Drewry's Bluff. Success against Butler, his most impressive military victory, caused grandiose thoughts to fill his mind. He proposed to Lee and Jefferson Davis that he lead a great invasion of the North, defeating Grant and Butler, and win the war. Undoubtedly to remove him as an irritant to Lee in Virginia, Beauregard was appointed commander of Confederate forces in the West. Since all of his forces were engaged elsewhere (in Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi), he had insufficient resources to halt the superior Union forces under William T. Sherman in their march to the sea. He and Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Sherman in North Carolina in April 1865.




1864 John C. Breckinridge assumes command




General John C. Breckinridge takes control of Confederate forces in the Appalachian Mountains of western Virginia. The Kentuckian was a former senator and had been the vice president of the country and the runner-up to Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election. Breckinridge took over the obscure Western Department of Virginia, where he managed forces until he was elevated to the Confederacy's Secretary of War in the closing weeks of the conflict.

Born in 1821, Breckinridge graduated from college when he was 17 years old. He served in the military during the Mexican War and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives at age 30. In 1856, Breckinridge became the youngest vice president when he was elected with James Buchanan at age 35. In 1860, he represented the southern wing of the Democratic Party, which had split during the convention over the issue of slavery. He finished third in the popular vote behind Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, who represented the northern Democrats, but he received 72 electoral votes to finish second behind Lincoln. Although he lost the White House, his state legislature selected him as senator shortly after the election.

During the summer of 1861, Breckinridge remained in the senate, supporting secessionists views as the war escalated. In September, Kentucky declared itself a Union state. Having literally become a man without a country, Breckinridge fled to the Confederacy and joined the army. He was made commander of the Orphan Brigade, a collection of Kentucky regiments with soldiers who found themselves geographically cut off from their native state. His unit suffered 34 percent casualties at the Battle of Shiloh, but went on to fight at most of the battles in the western theater.

After taking control of the Western Department of Virginia, Breckinridge led forces at the Battle of New Market in May 1864, where his army routed a Union force. In October, troops in his department were victorious at the Battle of Saltville, but the victory was tarnished when the Confederates began massacring black soldiers during the Union retreat. Breckinridge also served during Jubal Early's 1864 Shenandoah Valley campaign.

On February 6, 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis tapped Breckinridge to be Secretary of War. He showed great ability in that capacity, but the Confederate cause had become hopeless. Breckinridge oversaw the evacuation of Richmond in March and fled southward with Davis. Unlike Davis, however, Breckinridge successfully escaped the country through Florida and into Cuba. Joined by his family, Breckinridge stayed for four years in Europe before a presidential pardon allowed him to return to Kentucky. He worked as a lawyer until his death in 1875.
 
04 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
March 4th

Union General John Buford born, 1826



Within six months of his having played a key role in the opening of the battle of Gettysburg, cavalryman John Buford was dead of typhoid fever.
The Kentucky-born soldier had moved to Illinois before being appointed to West Point. Graduating in 1848 he was posted to the dragoons and saw some action along the frontier and in the expedition against the Mormons in Utah in 1857-1858.
His Civil War-era assignments included: captain, 2nd Dragoons (since March 9, 1854); captain, 2nd Cavalry (change of designation August 3, 1861); major and assistant adjutant general (November 12, 1861); brigadier general, USV (July 27, 1862); commanding Cavalry Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of Virginia (July 27 - September 12, 1862); commanding Reserve Brigade, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac (February 12 - May 22, 1863); commanding the division (May 22-27, June 9 - August 15, and September 15-November 21, 1863); and major general, USV (to rank from July 1, 1863).
After staff duty in the Washington defenses he obtained a position on Pope's staff in northern Virginia. He was rewarded with a brigadier's star and command of a brigade of cavalry. While leading this at 2nd Bull Run he suffered a wound. The next spring he was commanding the Reserve Brigade, which was composed mainly of regular army units, and took part in Stoneman's raid during the Chancellorsville Campaign. He directed the division at Brandy Station, Aidie, Middleburg, and Upperville.
It was two of his brigades that initiated the fighting at Gettysburg northwest of the town. He was able to hold off the Confederate assaults until the arrival of Union infantry and enabled Meade to make a stand south and east of the town on the next two days.
He later served through the Bristoe Campaign, but just before the commencement of the Mine Run Campaign he was struck down by typhoid and had to relinquish his command on November 21, 1863. He died in Washington on December 16, 1863, is buried at West Point. His commission as major general of volunteers was presented to him on his deathbed.


1861 Lincoln inaugurated


Abraham Lincoln becomes the 16th president of the United States. Although he extended an olive branch to the South, he also made it clear that he intended to enforce federal laws in the seceded states.

Since Lincoln's election in November, seven states had left the Union. Worried that the election of a Republican would threaten their rights, especially slavery, the lower South seceded and formed the Confederate States of America. In the process, some of those states had seized federal properties such as armories and forts. By the time Lincoln arrived in Washington for his inauguration, the threat of war hung heavy in the air. Lincoln took a cautious approach in his remarks, and he made no specific threats against the southern states. As a result, he had some flexibility in trying to keep the states of the upper South--North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware--in the Union.

In his address, Lincoln promised not to interfere with the institution of slavery where it existed, and he pledged to suspend the activities of the federal government temporarily in areas of hostility. However, he also took a firm stance against secession and the seizure of federal property. The government, insisted Lincoln, would "hold, occupy, and possess" its property and collect its taxes. He closed his remarks with an eloquent reminder of the nation's common heritage:

"In your hand, my fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend" it...We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

Six weeks later, the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Civil War began.



1865 Lincoln inaugurated for a second term


President Lincoln begins his second term, expressing his desire for the war to end and extending a gracious hand to the South. "Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away." He concluded with the following stirring statement: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right...let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wound...to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

Within six weeks, the war was over and an assassin had killed Abraham Lincoln.
 
03 March 2006
  Today in Civil War History
1865 Freedman's Bureau created







President Lincoln signs a bill creating the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands. Known as the Freedmen's Bureau, this federal agency oversaw the difficult transition of blacks from slavery to freedom.

The Freedman's Bureau was born out of abolitionist concern for freed slaves during the war. Union General Oliver O. Howard served as commissioner for the entire seven years of the bureau's existence. The bureau was given power to dispense relief to both white and black refugees in the South, to provide medical care and education, and to redistribute "abandoned" lands to former slaves. The latter task was probably the most effective measure to ensure the prosperity and security of the freedmen, but it was also extremely difficult to enact.

Many factors stymied the bureau's work. White southerners were very hostile to the Yankee bureau members, and even more hostile to the freedmen. Terror organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan targeted both blacks and whites and intimidated those trying to improve the lives of the freedmen. The bureau lacked the necessary funds and personnel to carry out its programs, and the lenient policies of Andrew Johnson's administration encouraged resistance. Most of the land confiscated from Confederates was eventually restored to the original owners, so there was little opportunity for black land ownership.

Although the Freedman's Bureau was not able to provide long-term protection for blacks, nor did it ensure any real measure of equality, it did signal the introduction of the federal government into issues of social welfare and labor relations.
 
02 March 2006
  How The South Could Have Won The War.
How Could The South Have Won?


How could the South have won the Civil War? The best possibility of Confederate victory would have been from intervention by Britain (and possibly other European powers), just like the alliance with France that the United States formed that led to victory in the American Revolution. Despite some fluctuating moments, however, Britain withheld its support, partly because British leaders had been against slavery for a very long time, and they found it hard to gain public support of a slave-holding country. Another factor was the fact that at the same time Britain was engaged in a expansive adversarial dialogue with Russia. The Russians were worried that a Confederate victory, and the subsequent permanent split of the United States would leave no power to counter Britain to the west. Russia made it clear that it would crank up the rhetoric, and possibly its military if Britain were to help the South. [1]
The only other realistic possibility [2] of a Confederate victory would have come from the "power of contingency.", as James McPherson calls it. He argues that the outcome of the war, Britain's staying out, and also Abraham Lincoln's re-election in 1864 were all adherent, upon the interrelation of other events.
McPherson also points out that the turtle-slow progress of the Union army during the summer of 1864 presented an obstacle to the Union's victory: "If the election had been held in August 1864 instead of November, Lincoln would have lost. He would have gone down in history as an also-ran, a loser unequal to the challenge of the greatest crisis in the American experience." [1] McPherson's formularization suggests that if the Confederacy had slowed the Union's progress for three months or more, they could have won.
 
  Today in Civil War History
1865 Battle of Waynesboro, Virginia

Early
Custer












Union General George Custer's troops rout Confederate General Jubal Early's force, bringing an end to fighting in the Shenandoah Valley.

The Shenandoah Valley was the scene of many battles and skirmishes during the Civil War. It was located directly in the path of armies invading from the south--as Confederate General Robert E. Lee did during the 1863 Gettysburg campaign-and the north. The fertile valley could sustain armies, and the gentle terrain allowed for rapid troop movement. In 1862, Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson staged a brilliant campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, defeating three Yankee armies with quick marching and bold attacks. In 1864, Early drove through the valley to threaten Washington, D.C., as he tried to relieve pressure on Lee, who was pinned down near Richmond.

That fall, General Ulysses S. Grant, the Union commander, dispatched General Philip Sheridan to stop Early. At Cedar Creek on October 19, Sheridan achieved his goal. The Confederates were soundly defeated, but the remnants of Early's force lingered at the southern end of the valley through the winter of 1864 and 1865. Grant ordered Sheridan to move further west and destroy a railroad in southwestern Virginia. As Sheridan marched from the valley, Early sent a few hundred cavalry under General Thomas Rosser to block his path. On March 1, Rosser set fire to a bridge along the middle fork of the Shenandoah River, but Custer, leading the advance units of Sheridan's army, charged across the burning span and extinguished the fire before the bridge was destroyed.

The next day, Custer followed Sheridan's orders and chased down the bulk of Early's force, which numbered about 2,000. Custer and about 5,000 troops found the Confederates entrenched along a ridge near Waynesboro. Part of the Yankee army shelled the Rebel position, while the rest slipped undetected through some woods that stood between Early's line and the South River. Custer gave the order in the late afternoon, and the Union troops stormed out of the woods and swarmed over the Confederate trenches from the rear. In a short time, 80 percent of the Confederates were captured and only nine Federal troops were killed. Early and his staff narrowly escaped over the Blue Ridge Mountains, marking the end of the Confederate presence in the Shenandoah Valley.
 
01 March 2006
  Homework for Thursday, March 2, 2006
Continue reading D.H. Donald's "The Civil War & Reconstruction" ,Chapters 22 & 23. Also, Gienapp's "The Civil War & Reconstruction: A Documentary History" pp. 293-316. Jay Fitch will summarize for us.

Acouple of questions to throw out there...

1) Have historians over the years overvalued the alleged paltriness of resources and undervalued "disintegrating internal factors," most notably the deterioration of popular morale, as causes of Confederate defeat?

2)Would the South have achieved independence by fighting a guerrilla war?
 
  Today in Civil War History
1864 Grant nominated for lieutenant general






President Lincoln nominates Ulysses S. Grant for the newly revived rank of lieutenant general. At the time, George Washington was the only other man to have held that rank. Winfield Scott also attained the title but by brevet only; he did not actually command with it.

The promotion carried Grant to the supreme command of Union forces and capped one of the most remarkable success stories of the war. Born in Ohio in 1822, Grant attended West Point and graduated in 1843, 21st in a class of 39. He served in the Mexican War in 1847 to 1848 and on the frontier in the 1850s. During this time, Grant acquired experience in logistics and the supply of troops, developing skills that later made him a success during the Civil War. He also developed a reputation as a heavy drinker, and he denied charges of drunkenness throughout the war.

When the Civil War erupted, Grant was not in the service and was working as a clerk in his father's store in Galena, Illinois. Grant reenlisted after Fort Sumter fell in April 1861; his first assignment was to raise troops in Illinois. In June, the governor appointed him colonel of the 21st Illinois. After leading his regiment to protect a railroad in Missouri, Grant was promoted to brigadier general on July 31, 1861. In early 1862, Grant won the first major Union victories of the war when he captured Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee. For the next two years he was the most successful general in the army. His campaign to capture Vicksburg was one of the most efficient offensives of the war, and the Yankees captured the Mississippi River and most of Tennessee under his leadership.

Lincoln replaced Henry Halleck as the commander of all Union armies when he elevated Grant to the rank of lieutenant general. Unlike Halleck, Grant did not serve from behind a desk; he took the field with the largest Federal force, the Army of the Potomac, as he moved against Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Virginia.


(I would be shot at dawn if I failed to mention that my wife (and kids, but not me, she tells me) is related to the General. A fifth cousin or something.)
 
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