The American Civil War, day by day - Page 19 - Politics | PoFo

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June 10, Monday

A strong Federal force of seven regiments from Fort Monroe have marched and blundered through the night to attack Confederate positions at Big or Great Bethel, also known as Bethel Church. The attack is hesitant and confused and after about an hour the Union troops have to retire. Among the Northern losses is Major Theodore Winthrop, a brilliant young author. Ebenezer W. Pierce is the Northern field commander under Benjamin F. Butler’s direction. The Federals have something over 2,500 men with 18 killed, 53 wounded, and 5 missing for 76. Confederates under the general command of Colonel John Bankhead Magruder number about 1,200 engaged with 1 killed and 7 wounded. This essentially small engagement gives encouragement to the South and causes some pain to the North. Trophies of the fight are displayed in Richmond store windows.

A Federal expedition under Colonel Charles Stone begins its march from the Washington area to Edward’s Ferry on the Potomac in what will become known as the Rockville Expedition. During the period to July 7 there will be several small skirmishes but the expedition will protect the Potomac line north and west of Washington.

Meanwhile, Federal captures of blockade runners are increasing considerably, although a goodly amount of shipping is still getting through.
June 11, Tuesday

Delegates representing the pro-Union element in Virginia meet at Wheeling to organize a pro-Union government.

“This means war,” says General Nathaniel Lyon after he and Francis Preston Blair, Jr., meet with pro-Confederate Governor Claiborne Jackson and General Sterling Price at the Planter’s House in St. Louis to discuss a possible truce. Lyon declares that he will see the people of Missouri “under the sod” before he will allow the state to dictate Federal troop movements. Jackson and Price hurry back to Jefferson City and order the destruction of bridges over strategic rivers. Lyon begins issuing troop movement orders.

In the far Southwest Colonel Edward S. Canby takes general charge of affairs in the Federal Department of New Mexico upon reports that Colonel William W. Loring has abandoned his command to join the Confederacy.
June 12, Wednesday

Pro-Confederate Governor Claiborne Jackson of Missouri calls for fifty thousand state militia to protect citizens against what he terms Federal efforts to overthrow the state government.

The steamer City of Alton moves down the Mississippi about five miles below Columbus, Kentucky, from Cairo, Illinois, and seizes a Confederate flag on shore despite the proclaimed “neutrality” of Kentucky.
June 13, Thursday

After a fatiguing march, some five hundred men of the Union command of Colonel Lew Wallace enter Romney, western Virginia, after a brief fight. Following the raid, Wallace returns to Cumberland, Maryland. The intention is to prevent alleged oppression of pro-Northern citizens by Confederates.

At Harper’s Ferry General Joseph E. Johnston is pessimistic about holding this vital post because of lack of men.

In the Confederacy a fast day is observed by proclamation of President Davis, to dramatize the needed war effort.
June 14, Friday

In the Rockville Expedition the Federal troops of Colonel Charles P. Stone fight a light skirmish near Seneca Mills, Maryland.

Out in Missouri the pro-Confederates of Governor Jackson evacuate the state capital at Jefferson City as Federal troops under Nathaniel Lyon draw near.
June 15, Saturday

Federal forces advance in several areas. Confederates under Joseph E. Johnston evacuate Harper’s Ferry, falling back in the Shenandoah Valley to Bunker Hill, north of Winchester. Johnston pulled because out of the Federal raid on Romney and fears that troops of McClellan of western Virginia and Robert Patterson from the north might pinch off his small command. Patterson begins to move forward cautiously upon the news of Johnston’s withdrawal.

On the Potomac Federals under C.P. Stone occupy Edwards’ and Conrad’s ferries.

In Missouri, Federals of Nathaniel Lyon enter the state capital of Jefferson City with no opposition and raises the Union flags to the strains of national airs. Pro-Confederate Governor Jackson and his supporters move westward to Boonville.

Army engineers blast a hundred-ton boulder which obstructs the Baltimore & Ohio track at Point of Rocks, Maryland. Confederates had pushed the rock down from the overhanging cliffs.
June 16, Sunday

The summer days of the early weeks of the war are active with enlistment, drilling after a fashion, equipping, shipment of troops, and all that goes into organizing for war. President Lincoln lends his moral support by often visiting camps along the Potomac, writing encouraging letters to governors, and carrying out public relations aspects of his presidential post. There is, of course, confusion, waste, and ineptitude, but the job is being done on both sides.
June 17, Monday

Nathaniel Lyon and his forces press on deeper into Missouri, following retreating Governor Claiborne Jackson. Moving mainly by boat up the Missouri, Lyon lands about seventeen hundred men below Boonville, advances on the town, and after a short fight occupies the place. Casualties are light on both sides, but it is in a sense a serious Confederate defeat. Not only are pro-Confederates in the area dispersed, but it helps the Union control the Missouri River and seriously hinders efforts to hold the pro-Southern part of Missouri north of the river. One Federal soldier will write that in Missouri, “We were both missionaries and musketeers. When we captured a man we talked him nearly to death; in other respects we treated him humanely. The Civil War was a battle of ideas interrupted by artillery.” Following the loss of Boonville, pro-Southern Governor Jackson, his small armed force, and his government “in transit” has to retire to the southwestern part of Missouri.

In Virginia there are several actions. Stone’s Federals skirmish at Conrad’s Ferry, Maryland, along the Potomac as part of the Rockville Expedition. There is also action near Vienna and New Creek, Virginia.

At Vienna some Ohio troops are sent to repair and guard the Loudoun & Hampshire Railroad about fifteen miles from Alexandria when Confederates ambush and capture the train. A brilliant little achievement by Colonel Maxcy Gregg and his First South Carolina that means little, but brings chagrin to the Federals.

At Washington balloonist Professor Thadeus S.C. Lowe and others ascend a short distance in the air to demonstrate the observation usefulness of balloons. Connected with the War Department by a telegraph wire, Professor Lowe communicates with the President.

At Greenville in east Tennessee a group of pro-unionists gather to try to take action to keep their section of the state in the United States.

The government of Spain proclaims its neutrality, but recognizes the Confederacy as a belligerent, following the standard pattern of European powers
June 18, Tuesday

Skirmishing continues along the Potomac, this time at Edward’s Ferry, Maryland.

Occasional captures of blockade-runners still occur—such as one taken this day by USS Union off Charleston, South Carolina.

At Boonville, Missouri, General Lyon issues another of his several proclamations warning Missourians against what he calls “treason.”
June 19, Wednesday

Francis H. Pierpoint is named provisional governor of Federal Virginia, or what will become West Virginia, by a convention meeting in Wheeling.

In Missouri pro-secessionists attack pro-Union home guards, largely German, at Cole Camp. Accounts will vary widely, but apparently the unionists are badly beaten with a minimum of fifteen killed and possibly many more.

Chief John Ross of the Cherokees reminds his people in the Indian Territory of obligations to the United States under their treaties.
June 20, Thursday

The governor of Kansas issues a proclamation calling on citizens to organize military companies to repel attacks from pro-secessionists in Missouri.
June 21, Friday

There is criticism in Washington and elsewhere that the War Department has not prevented erection of Confederate batteries on the Potomac River.

The convention of eastern Tennesseans meeting at Greeneville declares their preference for the Union and the Constitution.
June 23, Sunday

There is a mild skirmish at Righter, western Virginia.

Professor Lowe again goes up in his balloon, this time as far as Falls Church, Virginia, where he observes Confederate troop positions. An artist is sent along to map the terrain.

General McClellan, in personal command in western Virginia, proclaims that he will now prosecute the war vigorously.

USS Massachusetts captures four vessels in the Gulf of Mexico.
June 24, Monday

Two US gunboats shell Confederate positions at Mathias Point, Virginia, on the Potomac, while on the Rappahannock there is a brief clash of gunboat and Confederates.

There is a skirmish at Jackson, Missouri. Major fighting for the moment is limited.

President Lincoln shows his interest in military equipment by watching experiments with rifled cannon and the “Coffee Mill,” an early rapid-firing weapon.
June 25, Tuesday

Many Northern cities, such as New York, are saying goodbye to their regiments as they leave for Washington and other points. There is still a great spirit of celebration and exhilaration. The war remains almost a holiday to some.
June 26, Wednesday

Two minor skirmishes at Frankfort and in Patterson’s Creek, in western Virginia.
June 27, Thursday

A Federal steamer tries to land troops on Mathias Point on the Potomac but Confederate troops rally and drive them off.

The chief of police of Baltimore, George P. Kane, is arrested on order of Major General Nathaniel Banks. Kane is alleged to be pro-Confederate.

At Dover, Delaware, a peace convention urges recognition of the Confederacy.

In Washington a joint three-man strategy board with members from the Army, Navy, and US Coast Survey meets to consider strategy on the Southern coasts. This board will, in time, decide that for an effective blockade of the 189 harbor and river openings along the 3,549 miles of shoreline between the Potomac and the Rio Grande, ports of refuge will be needed, such as in the stormy south Atlantic. As well, it will often be more effective to simply seize a harbor rather than try to blockade it, especially where the seas are frequently too rough for a fleet to keep station. The board will make a number of reports giving details of where and how landings can be made on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Many of their recommendations will be carried out in combined operations that set up bases for both blockaders and land operations. It is one of the few key planning bodies in the total Federal strategy.
June 28, Friday

At Sacramento, California, the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California is incorporated for the purpose of aiding in completing a transcontinental railroad line.

Midsummer brings minor but nasty hit-and-run incidents involving naval vessels and shore batteries in the lower Potomac and along the shores of Chesapeake Bay. On the night of June 28 a group of Confederates led by George N. Hollins board the side-wheeler St. Nicholas, a commercial vessel operating in the Chesapeake Bay. Hollins, disguised as a woman, leads his band in seizing the vessel. They then set out to search for USS Pawnee, but manage only to take three small commercial vessels on the twenty-ninth. Daring, dashing, adventurous, the incident means little but does sting the North’s sensitivities.

The privateer Jefferson Davis leaves the Charleston harbor.
June 29, Saturday

A special Federal Cabinet meeting with leading generals in attendance discusses future action, now being demanded by the public. General Irvin McDowell outlines his plans for attacking the Confederates at Manassas and General Scott explains his proposal for an expedition down the Mississippi River. Consensus seems to be that the enemy in Virginia must be attended to first. There is fear that the public might lose enthusiasm.

At the moment, though, the men are still streaming into Washington; the Eleventh Massachusetts Infantry has 25 baggage wagons for 950 men and on the White House grounds the Twelfth New York forms a hollow square during a flag raising by the President.

In western Virginia there is a skirmish at Bowman’s place on Cheat River.
June 30, Sunday

Below New Orleans, CSS Sumter, commanded by Raphael Semmes, runs the blockade and with three lusty cheers from the crew begins a spectacular career as a commerce raider, causing consternation to Federal shipping. USS Brooklyn gives chase but soon loses her.

A brilliant comet crosses the skies. With a fiery head and a long streamer of light the dazzling comet cuts across the midevening in a sudden, unexpected visit. Is it just an astronomical phenomenon or is it prophetic of something more? One paper says the scientists are astonished, the timid frightened, and that it has “taken the country by storm.”
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