The American Civil War, day by day - Page 40 - Politics | PoFo

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Doug64 wrote:May 19, Monday

The skirmishing continues on the fringes of the two main Federal offensives, east and west. In Virginia there is fighting at Gaines’ Mill and at City Point, in the west action at Farmington, Mississippi, near Corinth.

There is other skirmishing at Searcy Landing, Arkansas. On the Mississippi a Federal expedition operations to Fort Pillow May 19-23.

A worried President Davis writes Mrs. Davis of the threat to Richmond, “We are uncertain of everything except that a battle must be near at hand.”

An equally concerned President Lincoln disavows the emancipation proclamation of Major General David Hunter issued in the Department of the South, and reserves to the President the power, if it becomes necessary in order to maintain the government, to issue such a proclamation. President Lincoln again appeals for adoption by the states of his policy of gradual, compensated emancipation.

Even at this late stage, Lincoln was still bending over backwards to maintain a moderate position regarding emancipation. Further evidence, if any were needed, that the Civil War was definitely not caused by any intransigance or extremism on Lincoln's part. The South could have opted for an orderly dismantling of the "peculiar institution" of slavery. Instead, they fought the Civil War to preserve that institution.
Nope, even factoring in concerns about the upper slave states that had stuck with the Union, Lincoln was no extremist. Unless, of course, one took the position that to want to free slaves at all made one an extremist, and after that it was merely a matter of degree. Which, of course, is ludicrous (something people might consider when looking at our current political climate).
May 21, Wednesday

In the gray dawn of the Valley, General Jackson’s “foot cavalry” start toward the north, heading down the Valley pike as if to attack Banks at Strasburg. But as the men march down Congress Street in the center of New Market, Jackson waves for a right turn onto Cross Street—toward the east on the road leading across the Massanutten. After a day’s hard climb in sultry heat, they descend the eastern slope of the massif, cross the south fork of the Shenandoah and near the village of Luray, where they will camp for the night. General Ewell’s division is already encamped at Luray, and with it Jackson now has more than 16,000 men and 48 guns.

Over on the Chickahominy there is a Federal advance across Bottom’s Bridge in lowlands just east of Richmond.

In the West skirmishing continues near Corinth, Mississippi, today at Widow Serratt’s and Phillip’s Creek.

Elsewhere there is fighting at Village Creek, Arkansas; Battery Island, South Carolina; and at Parajé, New Mexico Territory.

President Lincoln replies to General McClellan’s request for help from McDowell’s corps, which is moving overland to Richmond, saying, “You will have just such control of General McDowell and his force as you therein indicate. McDowell can reach you by land sooner than he could get aboard of boats if the boats were ready at Frederick’sburg [sic],—unless his march shall be resisted, in which case, the force resisting him, will certainly not be confronting you at Richmond.”
May 22, Thursday

As Generals Jackson’s and Ewell’s combined forces start out early in the morning, the men still don’t know their destination. Jackson can either cross the Blue Ridge through Thornton’s Gap, thereby abandoning the Shenandoah Valley, or he can move north, screened by mountains on either side, to Front Royal, where a Federal detachment is deployed. He takes the road to Front Royal. The army moves briskly. Jackson imposes a new set of marching rules—henceforth, the men are to march for precisely 50 minutes of each hour; at the end of that time they are to halt, stack arms and rest for exactly 10 minutes before moving out again. The brief but regular respite reduces straggling. Another new order that comes down removes all doubt from the minds of Jackson’s and Ewell’s men that they are heading straight for a fight: Jackson decrees that only two men from each battalion, assigned to tend to the wounded and directed to wear identifying red badges on their caps, will be permitted to leave ranks during a battle. This night Jackson halts 10 miles short of Front Royal.

Only 20 miles from Jackson’s camp, General Nathaniel Banks is getting edgy. The prevailing atmosphere in Strasburg is hostile enough to make anyone nervous, and Banks is painfully aware that his once imposing command has been sadly diminished and dispersed—he has lost 11,000 men with the departure of Shields. Aside from numerous small detachments guarding the line of the Manassas Gap Railroad, Banks has stationed 850 infantry and 600 cavalry at Winchester, about 100 men at Buckton, between Strasburg and Front Royal, and—at Front Royal itself—1,100 men. That leaves Banks with little more than 7,600 men to defend the earthworks he is hastily building at Strasburg. Moreover, one of Banks’s ablest subordinates has questioned the wisdom of the Federals even trying to defend Strasburg, pointing out that they can be easily cut off from their escape route to the east by the enemy. Banks is immovable, but concerned enough to seek reinforcements from Secretary of War Stanton. Today he warns Stanton of “the persistent adherence of Jackson to the defense of the valley and his well-known purpose to expel the Government troops.”

Banks is wasting his time—Stanton and Lincoln are far too preoccupied with the impending offensive against Richmond to pay much attention to the Shenandoah Valley. This very day they receive a brief but electrifying message from General McDowell near Fredericksburg: “Major General Shields’ command has arrived here.” This is the signal for McDowell to put his 40,000 men in motion for the assault on Richmond. President Lincoln journeys to Fredericksburg, Virginia, to consult with General McDowell.

Skirmishing continues around Corinth, Mississippi, between Halleck’s forces and Beauregard’s defenders. Action is at Farmington, primarily.

Elsewhere the fighting is at Winchester, Tennessee; John’s Island, South Carolina; and at the Trenton and Pollocksville Crossroads, North Carolina. Federals carry out a two-day reconnaissance to Burnsville and Iuka, Mississippi.
May 23, Friday

As the first step in Stonewall Jackson’s effort to prevent the reinforcement of McClellan, he intends to swallow the small Federal Force at Front Royal in one gulp, meanwhile cutting off its communications with Banks at Strasburg. To that end, Ashby and a contingent of troops ford the South Fork of the Shenandoah River at sunrise and ride to the northwest on a mission to capture a depot and train trestle at Buckton, thereby severing the link between Banks at Strasburg and his Front Royal outpost. Ashby finds the two enemy infantry companies mostly holed up in the depot, a stout brick building that the Federals have converted into a redoubt. Ashby’s troops storm the building and, after a brief repulse then eventually fighting from room to room, take the stronghold. Ashby puts the depot to the torch, cuts telegraph lines, tears up track, and heads off to join Jackson at Front Royal.

Jackson’s foot soldiers, meanwhile, are struggling toward Front Royal with Ewell and his troops bringing up the rear; despite their new marching discipline, scores of men fall from the ranks with leg and stomach cramps or collapse from the heat of the blazing day. As the road they are taking nears Front Royal, it runs alongside the South Fork on a flood plain that can be swept by Federal guns. Seeking higher and safer ground from which he might also sweep down and surprise the enemy garrison, Jackson leads his column onto a detour—a crude path with the memorable name of Gooney Manor Road. At the crest of a 500-foot rise, Jackson pauses to survey the scene below. The little town of Front Royal is about a mile to the north. Two miles beyond, the South and North Forks of the Shenandoah River join for the northerly run to the Potomac at Harpers Ferry. The enemy’s tents are pitched near the confluence, on the east bank of the South Fork—the same side from which Jackson now gazes down upon them. To escape from Jackson’s clutches, Colonel Kenly and his troops will first have to cross at least one of the two bridges spanning the South Fork, then cross the single bridge across the North Fork. The complete success of Jackson’s onslaught will thus depend on the outcome of a race for the bridges.

As Jackson’s skirmishers silently move forward, they are spotted by a single Federal picket, who fires a futile shot and takes to his heels. It is about 2 pm, and the Battle of Front Royal is on. In Front Royal, the townspeople joyfully anticipate their deliverance from enemy hands as the town is quickly cleared of Federals. But Kenly and his vastly outnumbered force is making a gallant stand on a hill north of town. Jackson’s artillery commander, newly appointed Colonel Stapleton Crutchfield, orders Ewell’s guns up to the front. Crutchfield, however, has failed to familiarize himself with Ewell’s ordnance—and, to his great chagrin, he now learns that it consists mostly of light, smoothbore pieces that are easily outranged by the enemy’s heavier, rifled cannon. There seems nothing for it but to hurl the infantry against the hill. However, just as the men surge forward, Kenly sees Confederate cavalry on the opposite side of the river moving toward the bridges—his only means of escape. Without a moment to lose, Kenly orders his men to abandon their hill and run for the bridges. Racing for survival, they pound across first the South Fork spans and then the wooden North Fork structure, which they set on fire behind them.

In the lead of the Confederate charge are Stonewall Jackson and the Louisiana Brigade—New Orleans dock workers; sugar plantation aristocrats and Acadians; the self-styled “Tigers,” tough veterans of the Battle of Bull Run, a battalion of cutthroats, thieves, and other rowdies taken from the alleyways of the mean towns that line the banks of the lower Mississippi. They are commanded by Richard Taylor, the son of General and later President Taylor and brother-in-law, by virtue of his sister’s marriage, to Confederate President Jefferson. It is widely—and correctly—believed that Richard Taylor has attained his high military rank through his family connections, but even so he is a natural soldier. Now, arriving at the burning bridge ahead of the Confederate cavalry, with a curt nod Jackson orders Taylor across before the bridge collapses. “It was a rather near thing,” Taylor will later write. “My horse and clothing were scorched, and many men burned their hands severely while throwing brands into the river. Just as I emerged from flames and smoke, Jackson was by my side. How he got there was a mystery, as the bridge was thronged with my men going at full speed, but smoke and fire had decidedly freshened his costume.”

In the distance but well within artillery range is Kenly’s column of fleeing Federals, heading toward Winchester. Jackson orders a staff officer to go to the rear and “order up every rifled gun and every brigade in the army.” He is frustrated by faulty communications. An hour or so earlier, just after he launched the initial assault against Front Royal, Jackson had sent back word for the rest of his men and most of his guns to take the direct route into town rather than the more circuitous Gooney Manor Road. But Ashby, who is responsible for providing couriers, has this day assigned one of his least disciplined companies to the task—and the youth entrusted with Jackson’s message had fled when he heard the sound of battle. As a result, the guns so urgently needed at this moment of splendid opportunity are still laboring along Gooney Manor Road.

Yet even as his hopes seem to be sinking, Jackson catches sight of cavalry—about 250 troops. Instead of going with Ashby to Buckton, they had been detached to cut telegraph lines just to the west of Front Royal, and now they are returning. At Jackson’s command, the cavalry contingent rushes in headlong pursuit of the Federals, forcing Kenly’s infantry to halt and deploy for a stand at Cedarville, approximately three miles north of Front Royal on the road to Winchester. His infantry still far behind, Jackson orders the cavalry to charge the enemy line—250 troopers against more then three times as many infantry. They fling themselves against the center of the Federal line, and the line breaks. When some of the Federals begin to reform, the cavalry charges again, and this time the enemy is shattered beyond salvation. Jackson will later exclaim that he had never seen so gallant a charge.

In the fighting at Front Royal and Cedarville, the Federals have taken a beating. Kenly, who has been badly wounded, loses 904 men, of whom 750 are captured. Jackson’s casualties number only 35. This night, near Cedarville, Jackson takes a seat at Richard Taylor’s campfire. Although Taylor “fancied that he looked at me kindly,” Jackson says scarcely a word. Instead, Taylor will recall, “for hours he sat silent and motionless, with eyes fixed upon the fire, and he remained throughout the night.”

For General Banks, his dreams of victory are fading fast. This day begins promisingly enough, the Valley countryside around Strasburg at its springtime best. Banks and his men are relaxed, basking in a false sense of security. That tranquility is obliterated at about 4 pm by the arrival of a courier bearing news that the Federal garrison at Front Royal is under attack. Hardly are the words out of his mouth than another messenger storms into town on a sweat-lathered horse carrying even worse tidings: Front Royal has fallen and the enemy is now crossing the burning North Fork bridge. In his ignorance, Banks insists that these events are no more than a diversion and that the real threat to his Strasburg position lies in an attack from the south. That view is reinforced at dusk, when a small band of Confederate cavalry—which had been sent toward Strasburg with the specific purpose of distracting Banks—audaciously seizes a weakly defended hill outside town. Darkness conceals the actual size of the attacking force, and Banks spends the night in the misapprehension that he is confronted by an entire Confederate division.

On the Peninsula near Richmond there are Federal reconnaissances from Bottom’s Bridge to Turkey Island Creek Bridge and toward Richmond, as well as skirmishing at Mechanicsville, Hogan’s, and Buckton Station.

Elsewhere the fighting is at Lewisburg, western Virginia, and near Fort Craig, New Mexico Territory.

President Lincoln talks with General McDowell at Aquia Creek, Virginia, and in the Fredericksburg area before returning to Washington.
May 24, Saturday

During a long night, the seriousness of the situation General Jackson has placed him in begins to sink in on General Banks. At about 3 am he orders that his sick and wounded be sent to Winchester. At mid-morning, he finally puts his infantry on the road, grandiloquently explaining to Washington that he has determined “to enter the lists with the enemy in a race or a battle (as he should choose) for the possession of Winchester.”

During his campfire vigil the same long night, Jackson has pondered the Front Royal-Strasburg-Winchester road system—the key to intercepting Banks’s forces. Jackson can see that General Banks has several options. One of them—cross the Alleghenies to join Fremont on the South Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac—can be safely ruled out; on its east-west line of march, the Federal column would be exposed to a flank attack from the south. A second choice seems just as unlikely: Even in his most sanguine moments, Jackson can hardly imagine Banks being stupid enough to fight it out from his isolated location at Strasburg. The two realistic possibilities are a Federal dash for Winchester or, if Jackson abandons Front Royal in his own rush for Winchester, slipping behind the Confederates, pass through Front Royal, and run for refuge across the Blue Ridge. The plan Jackson decides on hinges on another road, one running diagonally from the Front Royal-Winchester road at Cedarville to the Valley pike at Middletown, five miles north of Strasburg. If Banks moves toward Winchester, Jackson can slice across and strike the marching column while it is passing through Middletown. However, until Jackson receives news of such a Federal movement, the bulk of his army will have to remain near enough to Front Royal to cut off Banks in case he tries to escape across the Blue Ridge.

The word arrives by courier at 11 am. The message is from cavalry sent cross-country to Newtown, four miles north of Middletown. The cavalry had reached their destination—where they found the Valley pike choked with Federal supply wagons making haste toward Winchester. No more time can be lost. Colonel Ashby takes the lead on the crossroad to Middletown. With him goes horse artillery, two rifled guns, and the Louisiana Tigers battalion, with the rest of Taylor’s brigade and the regiments of the Valley army driving hard behind them. The remainder of Ewell’s command stays on the Cedarville-Winchester road, poised either to act as a reserve at Middletown or to march on Winchester later. Despite Jackson’s sense of urgency, the drive to Middletown is slow, for seven companies of Federal calvary force the Confederates to stop frequently and fight. Finally, just before 3 pm, Jackson’s men come upon a rise overlooking Middletown, and feast their eyes on Banks’s force in full retreat to Winchester. Instants later Jackson’s guns roar, plowing gap after gap through the Federal column. Then the Tigers pounce, slashing and pillaging (the latter ending instantly when their commander catches up). Suddenly, at about 4 pm, the booming of cannon comes from the south, where Federal artillery and infantry appear to have taken a strong position just west of the turnpike. While Taylor wheels to meet their threat, Jackson orders the artillery and Ashby’s cavalrymen to pursue and punish the bluecoats fleeing north. Taylor’s deployment takes time, and before it is completed the Federals who have confronted him withdraw.

Not until now does Jackson realize that he has been distracted by a rear guard making a valiant stand. The main body of Banks’s army has already passed through Middletown and is even now escaping the trap Jackson has so laboriously laid. Jackson now sends word to Ewell, north of Cedarville, to proceed to Winchester and deploy for an attack south of town. Then Jackson quickly sends his foot soldiers on a chase down the Valley pike. They catch up with the Confederate cavalry and artillery just beyond Newtown. There artillery commander Crutchfield seethes in a towering fury. Far from pressing the pursuit, Ashby’s cavalry have stopped to plunder the wagons abandoned along the turnpike. Having defied Crutchfield’s shouted curses and threats, many of the cavalrymen are now drunk on whiskey from Federal kegs. The foot soldiers are allowed no respite. The command from Jackson is to push on, and the men move into the night. Impeded by abandoned Federal wagons, beset by ambushes, groping in the darkness, they measure their progress by yards. Sometime after 1 am, Colonel Sam Fulkerson, commander of the 37th Virginia, approaches Jackson with a request for a pause of an hour or so; his men are falling by the roadside from exhaustion. Jackson replies that he is “obliged to sweat them tonight, that I may save their blood tomorrow. The line of hills southwest of Winchester must not be occupied by the enemy’s artillery. My own must be there and in position by daylight.” Nevertheless, he grants two hours rest. The men sleep where they fall.

Meanwhile, upon his arrival in Winchester Banks orders his wagon trains north toward Williamsport on the Potomac. Feeling reasonably secure, he deploys his troops for defense, takes a warm bath, and goes to bed.

There is significant skirmishing at Berryville, Strasburg, and elsewhere in the Shenandoah.

In Washington, early in the morning, President Lincoln confers with Stanton and others and issues new orders. He intends to end the threat to Washington from the Shenandoah Valley with a plan involving three separate Federal commands. Lincoln believes that Jackson’s incursion is more than merely a raid, that the Confederates will continue their northward thrust through Winchester and probably to the Potomac. To make certain that Jackson doesn’t cross the Potomac and turn southeast for an advance on Washington, the President will heavily reinforce the hapless Banks. Then, while Jackson snaps and snarls on the south side of the Potomac, Lincoln will lay a trap behind him, and spring it shut.

With the front door closed, Lincoln now needs to close the back door. The first prong is John C. Fremont, presently awaiting a call to action at Franklin, in the Alleghenies only 30 miles northwest of Harrisonburg. A rapid march by Fremont to Harrisonburg will place him 80 miles to Jackson’s rear, squarely athwart the Confederate supply line and in a position to block any attempt by the Valley army to escape southward along the turnpike. Thus, the President orders Fremont to march to Harrisonburg with all possible haste and to “operate against the enemy in such a way as to relieve Banks.” With Fremont taken care of, Lincoln turns to his second prong, General McDowell near Fredericksburg. Lincoln orders McDowell to prepare to move part of his force to the Valley at Front Royal, where it will remain poised along the route of Jackson’s retreat. When and if Jackson withdraws to the south, Banks will harry his rear. At the same time, McDowell’s detachment at Front Royal will be ready to attack and pursue, pounding the Valley army against Fremont’s position at Harrisonburg. Thus, McDowell and Banks will be the Federal hammers, and Fremont the anvil.

The President’s plan is no less than a move to destroy the Valley army. It is also a highly complex scheme that depends for its success on close coordination and crisp execution. By this point in the war Lincoln is sorely aware of his generals’ almost infinite capacity for failing to follow his instructions, so he decides to send a personal representative to see that McDowell complies with his instructions: The Treasury Secretary, Salmon P. Chase.

In two messages to McClellan, Lincoln explains that the defeat at Front Royal in the Valley was due to thinning the line to get troops for elsewhere. And later the President reluctantly writes, “In consequence of Gen. Banks’ critical position I have been compelled to suspend Gen. McDowell’s movement to join you....” Diversion of McDowell gives McClellan another excuse to blame the Administration for his delays and failures on the Peninsula, and to say he is undermanned, despite his more than 100,000 troops. However, it has also placed McClellan in an awkward spot. In expectation of McDowell’s arrival, he has deployed three corps in a northwesterly direction, so that they stretch from the railroad along the north bank of the curving Chickahominy for a distance of about 10 miles, with the extreme right near Mechanicsville, six miles northeast of Richmond. South of the Chickahominy, meanwhile, McClellan has deployed his left wing westward along the Williamsburg Road and dug in near the crossroads called Seven Pines, six miles east of Richmond. The tips of both wings are so close to Richmond that the troops on the far left and far right can set their watches by the chimes of the capital’s churches. But now McClellan has not only lost McDowell’s 40,000 men, but his army is dangerously split with three corps on the north side of the Chickahominy and two corps south of it. This strange river is as quirky as its name. In dry weather, the stream is sluggish and measures less than 15 yards wide over most of its course. But a slight rise in the river can quickly inundate the surrounding marshes and wooded bottom lands for as much as a mile. And the Chickahominy is reaching its highest level in twenty years. McClellan realizes the river threatens to cut communications between the two wings of his army, and he puts his men to work building no fewer than eleven bridges across the river in a twelve-mile stretch from Bottom’s Bridge northwest to Mechanicsville. Though the narrow main channel of the river can be bridged by short spans, the waterlogged bottom lands on either side have to be overlaid with lengthy, elaborate corduroy approaches.

At New Bridge, Seven Pines, Mechanicsville, and Hanover Court House, Virginia, there is fighting as a part of the main campaign against Richmond. To the west the skirmishing is closer to Corinth, Mississippi, and there is action near Spring Hill, Missouri, and Winchester, Tennessee.
May 25, Sunday

As during the march to join the Battle of Bull Run almost a year before, General Jackson has stood watch by himself as his exhausted soldiers sleep. Now, at 4 am, he orders the men roused and they soon file silently into an early-morning fog that hangs heavily over the approaches to Winchester. It’s another Sunday that the devout Jackson will have to fight. Winchester, on its south and southwest, are guarded by the hills that worried Jackson during the previous night’s march. Now, his scouts report the pleasing news that the nearest ridge is only weakly held by enemy skirmishers. Probably recalling the problems caused by inadequate reconnaissance at Kernstown, Jackson rides forward to look for himself and is quickly satisfied that the Federals have failed to occupy the line of hills in strength. Charles Winder, the Stonewall Brigade’s commander as crisp and starched as always, joins Jackson. Jackson points out a ridge commanding the turnpike and orders him to occupy the hill. As Winder prepares to move, Jackson hears firing across the Valley pike on his right. That sound means that General Ewell is in place. Following Jackson’s orders, his division had marched down the Front Royal-Winchester road late the previous afternoon and deployed south of Winchester at nightfall.

The Stonewall Brigade makes it up their assigned hill quickly and with little opposition, but when they gain the crest they are almost immediately pinned down by a storm of artillery and small arms fire pouring in from a second ridge on the southwest corner of Winchester. That strongly held ridge anchors the extreme right of General Banks’s line, which stretches more than a half mile southeast across the turnpike. Winder requests help from Jackson, who sends General Taylor’s Louisiana brigade, already moving up from his position in reserve, to carry the troublesome hill. As Taylor moves forward, meaning to skirt the hill and take it in a flanking attack, the brigade comes under galling artillery fire from the hill. Nonetheless, supported by Confederate artillery, the Louisianans surge up the hill in perfect order as Ewell’s division outflanks the extreme left of the Federal line. The Federal defenses bend, then break under the weight of the attack, and the Union soldiers flee rearward through the streets of Winchester.

Jackson is elated, riding after the fleeing Federals, cheering and whooping as loudly as any of the teenage boys who follow him. When an officer protests his exposed position, the general commands: “Go back and tell the whole army to press forward to the Potomac!” But the Confederate pursuit, however enthusiastic, is badly muddled—partly because Colonel Ashby, contrary to orders, has gone off in pursuit of a Federal detachment. Now, when his troopers are most urgently needed, the cavalry is wandering about the countryside.

General Banks, who between Front Royal and Winchester has lost nearly 35 percent of his total command, does his best to bring order to the rout. “Stop, men!” he cries to some Wisconsin troops. “Don’t you love your country?” One of the men shouts back, “Yes, by God, and I’m trying to get back to it just as fast as I can!” During the fourteen hours following Jackson’s assault on Winchester, the Federal force that opposed him covers no fewer than 35 miles. When the beaten and exhausted Yankees cross the Potomac into Williamsport, Maryland, they seem to breathe a huge collective sigh of relief.

The Confederate total casualties: 16,000 men and 400 casualties—68 killed, 329 wounded, 3 missing. Banks loses 2,019 of his 8,000 Federal troops—62 killed, 243 wounded, 1,714 missing or captured. Substantial amounts of supplies, munitions, and a number of wagons fall into Jackson’s hands. The name of “Stonewall” is becoming legendary. The Confederates now have cleared all but a small portion of the Shenandoah Valley, to the consternation of Washington and the North.

Down near Richmond there is a Union expedition from Bottom’s Bridge on the Chickahominy to James River; and there are several days of operations about Miami and Waverly, Missouri, until May 28.

At Washington President Lincoln wires McClellan, “I think the time is near when you must either attack Richmond or give up the job and come to the defense of Washington.” He also tells his general of the troubles in the Shenandoah, and that the government is sending “such regiments and dribs” as can be found. The Administration calls for all troops available anywhere and declares that all railroads are to be used when needed for transport of troops and munitions. Secretary of War Stanton calls upon the states for help in furnishing men. Meanwhile the Treasury Secretary arrives at McDowell’s headquarters, and by nightfall one of McDowell’s divisions commanded by Brigadier General Shields, having just arrived from the Valley to join the advance on Richmond, is on its way back to the Shenandoah. With Banks on the Maryland side of the Potomac regrouping his battered forces, President Lincoln’s plan to mousetrap “Stonewall” Jackson’s army seems to be progressing nicely. The President, however, has reckoned without General John C. Fremont’s proclivity for waywardness. Instead of marching to Harrisonburg to assume a blocking position as commanded, Fremont is heading toward Strasburg to cut off Jackson—thereby increasing his marching distance by at least 40 miles.

On the Mississippi, Flag Officer Davis’s flotilla, mauled on May 10 at Fort Pillow by a little fleet of Confederate rams—river steamers equipped with iron prows to hole enemy ships—is now reinforced by a fleet of Federal rams of his own. These vessels are the creation of Charles Ellet, Jr., a brilliant 52-year-old civil engineer who has converted nine steamboats to create Davis’ ram fleet. Ellet, commissioned a colonel in the Federal Army, now captains the ram Queen of the West. His brother, Lieutenant Colonel Alfred W. Ellet, and his 19-year-old son, Charles Rivers Ellet, are also aboard ships in the ram fleet.
May 26, Monday

As Jackson occupies Winchester and prepares to continue north toward Harper’s Ferry, Banks keeps pulling back with what little he has left after the Shenandoah Valley campaigning. Jackson declares a day of worship to make up for the one the army missed while seizing Winchester.

While waiting for the completion of the bridges across the Chickahominy, McClellan extends his right flank even further. Noting that the President’s order has “simply suspended, not revoked” General McDowell’s march toward Richmond, McClellan still harbors hopes of soon seeing those 40,000 men marching down from Fredericksburg. To clear the path for them and to tear up the tracks of the Virginia Central Railroad, he sends a reinforced division commanded by General Fitz-John Porter to attack the Confederates at Hanover Court House, about 12 miles northwest of Mechanicsville.

At Mechanicsville a Union brigade moves forward behind a screen of skirmishers as three batteries of artillery pound a brigade of North Carolinians concealed in the woods. Although outnumbered, the Confederate commander impulsively launches an attack. One New York regiment is broken and a battery of artillery put out of action, but the Confederate charge is repulsed by a fresh New York regiment, whose fire is so intense that one officer later reports his men had to pour water on their muskets to keep them cool enough to handle. Then two more Union regiments countercharge. The Confederate retreat becomes a complete rout. The Federals lose 355 men killed and wounded to 200 for the Confederates, but they take 500 men prisoner.

To General Joseph E. Johnston, the little battle at Hanover Court House is ominous, for McClellan’s sudden move there strongly suggests an imminent linkup between his army and McDowell’s. On this same day, another alarming report convinces Johnston that his suspicions are correct: McDowell’s vanguard is seen marching south of Fredericksburg, only 25 miles from Porter at Hanover Court House. Until now, Johnston’s apparent lack of determination has bewildered President Davis and General Lee. Repeatedly refusing to tell them where or when he intends to make a stand, he has retreated to the south bank of the Chickahominy, the last natural defensive barrier before Richmond, just 12 miles away. Then, professing himself dissatisfied with the water supply there, he has fallen back to the outskirts of the capital. Yet Johnston is now persuaded that the right time and place has come. A linkup between McDowell and McClellan will provide the Federals with nearly 150,000 troops at the gates of Richmond—a superiority of better than 2 to 1. That eventuality has to be prevented at all cost. Accordingly, Johnston devises a plan to strike the right wing of McClellan’s divided army at Mechanicsville. The attack is set for May 29.

Lieutenant Isaac Newton Brown, a Confederate naval officer, arrives at Greenwood, Mississippi, on the Yazoo River, which enters the Mississippi just north of Vicksburg. He is to take charge of the CSS Arkansas, whose keel was laid down at Memphis, Tennessee, the previous October, but was moved to Greenwood to avoid its destruction now that the city is threatened by Union forces. At this point the Arkansas is a hull and a collection of disassembled guns and engines. In the water nearby is a sunken scow with a load of railroad iron that was intended to armor the boat’s sides. From this unlikely assortment of materials Brown has been ordered to create an ironclad ram.

There is a skirmish near Franklin, western Virginia; at Calico Rock, Arkansas; at Crow’s Station near Licking, Missouri; and at Grand Gulf, Mississippi.

The Confederates extend their Trans-Mississippi Department to include Arkansas, the Indian Territory, Missouri, west Louisiana, and Texas.

President Lincoln tells McClellan that Banks is apparently safe at Williamsport on the Potomac and asks, “What impression have you, as to intrenchments—works—for you to contend with in front of Richmond? Can you get near enough to throw shells into the city?”
May 27, Tuesday

President Lincoln learns that General Fremont is at Moorefield, 40 miles north of Franklin, and moving farther in the wrong direction. The President is livid. He wires, “You were expressly ordered to march to Harrisonburg. What does this mean?” Meanwhile the previous night, while Jackson was sleeping, an elderly and exhausted civilian rode up to his headquarters after a 12 hour ride with news of General Shields’s column moving toward Front Royal. Jackson’s staff was impressed by the old man, bur reluctant to awaken their commander. Now in the early morning Jackson interviews the old man and is persuaded that strong enemy forces are closing in on him. He orders his army to move—not southward toward safety but northward, deeper into danger. Jackson has received word from General Lee urging him to threaten the line of the Potomac, and he means to do just that.

Near Richmond there is fighting at Slash Church, White Oaks, and Hanover Court House.

Near Corinth, Mississippi, minor fighting continues, with skirmishing on Bridge Creek.

In Missouri there is a skirmish at Monagan Springs near Osceola, and in Arkansas at Big Indian Creek in White County. An expedition operates from Searcy Landing to West Point, Searcy, and Bayou des Arc, Arkansas.

Excitement continues high in the North, particularly in New York, over Jackson’s successes in the Shenandoah.
May 28, Wednesday

Skirmishing occurs in front of Corinth, Mississippi, and at Charles Town, western Virginia, as a part of Jackson’s campaign. Confederate supplies are destroyed, as is a bridge on the Virginia Central Railroad on the South Anna. Meanwhile all eyes look toward Corinth and to the Shenandoah and Richmond for more news.

Outside Richmond, this night, in the midst of a war council with his generals, General Johnston learns from a courier that General McDowell’s troops aren’t marching on Richmond after all, but returning to Fredericksburg. McDowell had made the demonstration south just to mislead Johnston. Now that he doesn’t’ have to worry about McDowell, Johnston switches to a plan he has preferred all along: He will attack south of the Chickahominy and overwhelm the two corps of the Federal left wing before it can be reinforced from across the river. This will delay his attack for a few days.

President Davis writes his wife, “We are steadily developing for a great battle, and under God’s favor I trust for a decisive victory.” He is disappointed that a planned offensive by Joseph E. Johnston’s army has not been launched against McClellan.

President Lincoln tells General McDowell that his move toward the Shenandoah to hit Jackson is “for you a question of legs. Put in all the speed you can.”
May 29, Thursday

While Jackson and most of the Valley army camp near Charles Town, the Stonewall Brigade demonstrates against Harpers Ferry. Meanwhile General Fremont tells Washington that his scouts estimate the enemy strength at 60,000 men. President Lincoln replies that that is nonsense, that Jackson’s army can number no more than 20,000 and is probably closer to 15,000. He asks, “Where is your force? It ought this minute to be near Strasburg. Answer at once.”

On the Chickahominy there is skirmishing near Seven Pines, and farther north some operations along the South Anna. In western Virginia, there is a skirmish near Wardensville; in South Carolina at Pocotaligo; in Arkansas at Kickapoo Bottom and Whitesburg; and in Mississippi near Booneville.

During the night Beauregard, finally seeing there is no hope against Halleck’s huge Federal army near Corinth, Mississippi, gives orders to pull out toward Tupelo. To give the impression of reinforcements, however, he has trains and troops make loud noises in an effort to fool the waiting Federals.

President Davis is carrying on a lengthy mail discussion with Georgia governor Joseph E. Brown over matters of States’ rights and Confederate government rights.
May 30, Friday

A Confederate reconnaissance of the Union positions close to Richmond show that the Federal positions south of the Chickahominy are unbalanced. The lead division has deployed at right angles to the Williamsburg Road about a half mile west of the Seven Pines crossroads. The position is reasonably strong on the left flank, which extends south of the road to the marshy border of White Oak Swamp, and they are heavily supported in the rear by two more divisions stacked up along the six-mile stretch of road between Seven Pines and Bottom’s Bridge to the east with another division just to their south. But the Federals are weak on the right. Confederate scouts have found that the Union front extends north from the Williamsburg Road for a mile or so to Fair Oaks, a station on the Richmond & York River Railroad. And the line is thinly manned. Northeast of Fair Oaks, a virtually impassable wilderness of marshes and dense woods stretch three miles to the Chickahominy River, where the nearest Federal reinforcements, Edwin Sumner’s 17,000-man corps, is camped on the far bank.

Surveying all this, Johnston decides to attack in force early tomorrow. In preparation, he divides his command in half, creating a left wing under Major General Gustavus W. Smith and a right wing under General Longstreet, each with three divisions. Smith will hold two of his divisions in reserve along the upper Chickahominy northeast of Richmond to prevent the crossing of the two Federal corps there. His third division will support Longstreet to the south. Longstreet’s wing, totaling nearly 40,000 men, will make the main attack, striking east toward Seven Pines on three different routes. Thus, the outnumbered Federal forces south of the Chickahominy will be hit on their left, on their front, and on their vulnerable right. It is a sound plan, and on the eve of the attack nature lends a helping hand. A violent rainstorm, which dumps more than three inches in the first two hours and continues into the night, turns the Chickahominy into a raging torrent that swamps several of McClellan’s bridges and further isolates the targets of the impending Confederate attack.

In the Valley, General Fremont responds to President Lincoln’s request the previous day to know his position. Complaining about the hardships of his march, Fremont says that he cannot possibly promise to be at Strasburg before 5 pm tomorrow—more than a day after General Shields will arrive at Front Royal. To make matters worse, General Banks claims his command is still too shaken from its recent experiences to harry Jackson’s withdrawal. And once Shields seizes Front Royal, he will stay there while waiting for another of McDowell’s divisions to come up as reinforcement.

In the afternoon, Colonel Ashby’s scouts bring word to General Jackson that General Shields is less than a day’s march from Front Royal. Jackson is unperturbed, taking a nap under a tree, leaving his young staff members shaking their heads. He awakens to find his old friend Alexander Boteler, the former US Congressman now commissioned as a colonel, drawing his likeness. After commenting on his own lack of artistic skills, Jackson is all business, telling Boteler to leave at once for Richmond to seek reinforcements. If enough are available, Jackson says, a move “may be made beyond the Potomac, which will soon raise the siege of Richmond and transfer this campaign from the banks of the Potomac to those of the Susquehanna.” But Jackson doubts the success of Boteler’s mission. Hardly has the emissary left when the general orders his army to start south, leaving behind only the Stonewall Brigade to make a final feint against Harpers Ferry. Then, late in the day, Jackson himself departs Charles Town for Winchester. As his train rumbles through the rainy night, Jackson falls asleep—only to be awakened by a Confederate horseman who has intercepted the train to give him a message. Silently Jackson reads the courier’s message, tears it up, and goes back to sleep—even though he has just been informed that Shields has captured Front Royal and is now on the flank of the Confederate retreat. Arriving in Winchester, Jackson awakens his mapmaker, Jedediah Hotchkiss, and instructs him to hasten to Harpers Ferry to fetch the Stonewall Brigade.

Commencing yesterday evening Beauregard, with great skill and efficiency, has been pulling his Confederate army out of besieged Corinth, Mississippi, and heading south toward Tupelo, the effort made safe by a clever deception. To convince Halleck that he is being heavily reinforced, he has ordered locomotives to chug in and out of the town periodically to the accompaniment of loud cheering. The ploy has worked, and the immense Federal army under Halleck sits a few miles outside the town to the north. On this day Halleck’s troops cautiously move into the important rail and road center after more than a month’s campaigning and only after hearing the Confederate rearguard blow up the supplies that can’t be evacuated. They find the town empty. The Federals have been successful, but the evacuation by Beauregard, the slowness of the campaign, and the general lack of battle or results tarnish Halleck’s victory.
Nearby, Booneville, Mississippi, is captured by Federals and the Cypress Creek Bridge, Tennessee; and Tuscumbia Bridge, Mississippi, destroyed.

Other fighting in Virginia is at Fair Oaks and Zuni; in North Carolina at Tranter’s Creek; in western Virginia at Lewisburg and Shaver’s River.
May 31, Saturday

At dawn in Virginia, under lowering clouds and on roads turned muddy by the night’s rainstorm, General Johnston’s soldiers begin the march eastward. Johnston is so secretive that he has not informed President Davis or General Lee of his plans, but with that many troops in motion practically everyone in Richmond knows something is up. Expectant crowds gather early on the hilltops of east Richmond in hopes of catching a glimpse of the battle that might determine the fate of their city. The morning passes and no shots are heard. By noon, the thousands of spectators are growing impatient.

The attack, scheduled for about 8 am, is starting late because the usually dependable James Longstreet is confused by his orders. To the other division commanders, Johnston has sent specific written orders but not the overall plan. Only to Longstreet, who is entrusted with tactical command of the operation, has he given details of the entire plan—but not in writing. Though the two men talked for several hours the previous evening, either Johnston did not make his intentions clear or Longstreet, who is slightly deaf, did not hear him. As a result, Longstreet has marched his division south to the Williamsburg Road—the wrong road. This means that Johnston’s three-pronged assault will now be reduced to two. It also means the attack is hours late in getting started, as Longstreet’s forces moving the wrong way have blocked the path of the division under Huger, who is key to launching the initial assault. Only Hill’s march goes as planned. Advancing east on the Williamsburg Road, Hill stops 1,000 yards from the Federal picket line and waits impatiently for the signal indicating that Huger has moved into place. Hill’s 8,500 men are deployed on either side of the road in thick woods and undergrowth. Visibility is so poor that Hill, anxious to prevent his troops from mistaking one another for the enemy, has had each man wear a white strip of cloth around his hat.

At last, at about 1 pm, Hill learns that Huger’s lead brigade has come into position on the Charles City Road, five hours late. Immediately Hill orders the attack, and his men swarm forward toward the enemy division under Silas Casey. Casey’s men are the greenest troops in the Army of the Potomac; his division is also understrength and poorly equipped—clearly the wrong outfit to put in a position as critical as Seven Pines. To make matters worse, Casey has failed to send out scouts or patrols. The Confederates surprise and easily break his advance line before running into stiff resistance from Casey’s main line of defense. The Federals are entrenched in a clearing behind an abatis with an earthen fort defended by six pieces of artillery, and for a time the line holds. But the Confederates outnumber the Federals nearly 2 to 1 and use this advantage to the fullest. One brigade attacks along the front of the redoubt while another sweeps around to the right and rear of the little fort. The defenders begin to evacuate and the Confederates charge, screaming the Rebel yell. Threatened with encirclement and suffering 40 percent casualties, Casey’s men break for the rear despite his attempts to rally them. They won’t stop running until they reach Seven Pines. As they come streaming back down the Williamsburg Road, General Keyes, commander of IV Corps, sends two regiments forward to check the surging Confederates. One is driven back immediately, and the other nearly surrounded and subjected to a storm of fire until it also joins the retreat.

By 3 pm, though, the Federal battle lines have reformed at Seven Pines, and the going gets tougher for Hill’s attacking Confederates. They have fought without reinforcement for two hours, and now they face a much larger force of Federal defenders. The remnants of Casey’s division are buttressed by Couch’s division and by two brigades of Philip Kearney’s division. Kearney has come rushing up from three miles back. He deploys his two brigades on the Federal left, south of the Williamsburg Road, and launches a flanking counterattack that carries almost to Casey’s abandoned camp. The brunt of Kearney’s counterattack is borne by Rode’s brigade. Rode has been counting on support of Rains on his right, but Rains’s troops have bogged down on the fringes of White Oak Swamp and failed to keep pace. It is tough enough for Rodes’s men, fighting in water hip-deep, propping their wounded against tree trunks to keep them from drowning. Rodes himself takes a nasty wound in the arm but remains in command for two more hours until pain and weakness force him to give command to Colonel John B. Gordon and retire. Gordon has a horse shot out from under him and his coat nicked with bullets, and both his lieutenant colonel and major as well as his 19-years-old brother are killed as he leads his Alabamians on a charge through the abatis in front of Couch’s division. The 6th Alabama loses 59 percent of its men, including 91 killed, the most for any Confederate regiment during a single action in the entire war.

While Gordon and others in D.H. Hill’s division struggle to maintain their momentum, Hill sends an urgent plea for help to Longstreet, who has remained in the rear. Longstreet, still confused about the battle plan, has misdirected four of his six brigades. He has sent one brigade north to guard the railroad, though there are no Federals in that direction, and three more down a road where three of Huger’s brigades are already idly guarding the southern flank. At last, responding to Hill’s calls for help, Longstreet puts his two remaining brigades to good use. He sends one under Colonel James L. Kemper to support John B. Gordon’s mangled ranks on the Confederate right opposite Kearny. As Kemper’s troops cross the abandoned earthworks and charge through Casey’s empty camp, they are caught in a murderous crossfire from artillery at the second line and from Kearney’s brigades on their right flank. Now disorganized and despairing, Kemper’s men rush rearward and dive into the empty Federal earthworks. They dare not retreat across the empty field behind them. Meanwhile, the other brigade under Brigadier General Richard H. Anderson that Longstreet commits is executing a bold maneuver. It attacks northeastward on a dirt track splitting the Federal defense line between Fair Oaks and Seven Pines. Then, at about 4 pm, Anderson orders two regiments to fight south to Seven Pines, then brashly cut east on the Williamsburg Road, slicing through the Federal center. General Couch, four of his regiments, and an artillery battery are separated from the rest of the Union division and retreat north toward Fair Oaks. Not long before dusk, the two Confederate regiments smash into a point half a mile east of Seven Pines.

Back on the Williamsburg Road, Longstreet, who still knows little about the progress of the battle, has decided around 4 pm that the right flank needs help, and sends General Johnston a note requesting reinforcements. Though his attack is succeeding, Longstreet reports, his troops “were as sensitive about the flanks as a virgin.” On the Nine Mile Road, Johnston has spent much of the day in a muddle, not even aware that a battle is raging at Seven Pines. One of the few things he knows is that Longstreet has taken the wrong road. Nevertheless, Johnston has still hoped to salvage his plan for a three-prong attack. He has decided to launch Whiting’s division—the one originally earmarked as Longstreet’s support—against Fair Oaks as soon as he has heard firing from D.H. Hill’s division on the Williamsburg Road. Before noon, Johnston moves Whiting’s five brigades down the Nine Mile Road to a place called Old Tavern, two miles from Fair Oaks. Here, setting up headquarters in a farmhouse, Johnston has waited for the sound of Hill’s musketry. The hours pass. General Lee, who has ridden out from Richmond with President Davis, comes up to the farmhouse and says he thinks he has heard musket fire. No, Johnston assures him, it is just an artillery duel. For some reason, he cannot hear the heavy musketry scarcely two miles to the south. Not until Longstreet’s call for reinforcements arrives shortly after 4 pm does Johnston realize what is happening. He wastes no time on recriminations, though he is doing what Longstreet was supposed to have done three hours before. Taking personal command of Whiting’s division and starting it down the Nine Mile Road toward the battlefield, he gallops away just as President Davis arrives at the farmhouse.

Shortly before 5 pm, Johnston finds Fair Oaks abandoned—the first encouraging sign that the general has seen all day. Now Seven Pines is only a mile away, and while Johnston is not sure of the situation there, he has at his disposal Whiting’s 10,000 fresh troops, enough to deliver a decisive blow. But General Whiting suspects that Fair Oaks is not as deserted as it seems. He has a hunch, he tells Johnston, that the enemy is nearby in some strength on their left and rear, in the impenetrable wilderness toward the Chickahominy where no Federal forces are supposed to be. Just as Johnston is testily rejecting Whiting’s caution shells begin to burst around them, pouring in from hidden artillery emplaced about 800 yards to their left and rear. The Federal attackers are the four regiments and battery of guns, along with General Couch, cut off from the rest of his division by Longstreet’s bold maneuver. They have made several attempts to fight their way back to their main force east of Seven Pines, but Couch has given it up as suicidal after two of his regimental commanders are killed. He was leading his remnant up a path toward the Chickahominy when he spied Johnston’s Confederates and hastily established a line of battle before ordering his artillery to open fire. Now Whiting quickly responds, sending four regiments charging across the clearing against the Union line. The Union artillery beats back three attacks, but has used all its canister and is firing regular explosive shells with the fuses set for point-blank range. Nonetheless, Couch’s troops are badly outnumbered and are about to be overwhelmed, when a long stream of blue-clad reinforcements suddenly appear from an unexpected quarter—across the flooded Chickahominy.

Their arrival, shortly after 5 pm, is the culmination of a daring trek that began four hours before on the north bank of the river, when the sounds of battle reached McClellan’s headquarters at Gains Mill. General McClellan, bedridden with malaria, sent a message that warned General Edwin Sumner to be ready to move his corps across the river towards Seven Pines. The old general who had bungled at Williamsburg was taking no chances, immediately marching his two divisions down to two temporary bridges. Then, when the order to actually move came from McClellan at about 2:30, Sumners was ready to cross. However, the Chickahominy was still rising, and one bridge had its flooring already under two feet of water—a single brigade managed to wade across before the span collapsed. The other bridge a mile and a half downstream looked no better, the rope that bound the log flooring chafed apart so gaps separated the logs and the flooring in the middle of the span threatening to float away. But Sumners pushed across anyway, only to find the going even harder on the far side of the bridge, where the logs of the corduroy approach drifted uselessly on the water covering a march 200 yard wide. The fieldpieces bogged down axle-deep and had to be unhitched and wrestled to firm ground by infantrymen. Undeterred, Sumner bulled ahead toward the sound of gunfire. Two hours later, he leads his troops up to Couch’s beleaguered regiments.

The vanguard of Sumner’s column, 8,000 troops, strengthen Couch’s north-south defense line, then establishes a second line perpendicular to it. This new line extends west into the woods about the clearing so it faces south. Thus the Federals are capable of pouring heavy crossfire on any Confederates who come into their murderous angle. Johnston, out on the Nine Mile Road, doesn’t yet realize that he is now facing a force equal in size to his own. He has Whiting order three brigades to renew the attack against Couch’s defenses. Advancing across the meadow without artillery support, the Confederate troops take another severe pounding from the reinforced Federal guns. Some Confederates gallantly charge and manage to get within 15 yards of the Federal cannon before falling. Others enter the woods and blunder about haplessly in the devastating musketry crossfire. Two of the three Confederate brigade commanders are quickly put out of action.

Toward dusk, Johnston finally realizes what he is up against at Fair Oaks and reluctantly concludes that the battle will have to continue tomorrow. At about 7 pm he rides toward the front with his young orderly and a staff colonel, seeing to the disposition of his troops. As they near the edge of the battlefield Johnston sees the officer duck his head as an enemy shell whistles by. Johnston smiles and says, “Colonel, there is no use of dodging; when you hear them they have passed.” Just then a Federal musket ball strikes Johnston in the right shoulder. A moment later, a heavy fragment of shell slams into the general’s chest, knocking him to the ground unconscious. As Johnston’s orderly is dragging him from the field, President Davis and General Lee ride up. Davis asks Johnston if there is anything he can do. Johnston opens his eyes and shakes his head, then realizes that he has left behind the sword his father had used in the American Revolution and asks for it to be retrieved. Once it is recovered he is carried away to be taken back to Richmond. His recovery from broken ribs—and from the bleedings and purgings of the system that are currently standard treatment—will take nearly six months.

With Johnston out of action, command falls upon the second-ranking officer, Major General Gustavus W. Smith. When Smith takes over on the battlefield, he faces mixed prospects. The advance of General Whiting’s division has petered out into bloody stalemate at Fair Oaks. Farther south, however, the Confederates still appear to have the upper hand. Generals James Longstreet and D.H. Hill have driven the Federals back to their third defense line, more than a mile east of Seven Pines, for a total Confederate gain of two and a half miles. But at every point the Federal lines are being strengthened. Meanwhile, this evening, the exhausted troops of both sides slump to the ground wherever darkness finds them, in bog or woodland, and sleep among the casualties through a night of drizzling rain.

In the Shenandoah Valley, at 8 pm, three hours after his self-ordained deadline for reaching the Valley Turnpike, a message from General Fremont arrives in Washington from Wardensville, 15 miles west of Strasburg: “Roads heavy and weather terrible. Heavy storm of rain most of yesterday and all last night. The army is pushing forward and I intend to carry out operations proposed.”

By 2:30 pm Jackson’s army, less the Stonewall Brigade, has cleared Winchester on the turnpike to Strasburg. In the lead come the supply wagons in a double line eight miles long, heavily laden with captured Union goods. Then 2,300 Federal prisoners march under guard. They are followed by Jackson and the infantry, with Ewell’s division at the end of the marching column. Guarding the rear, contingents of Ashby’s cavalry extend back toward the Stonewall Brigade on the Potomac. At dusk, as the column nears Strasburg, Jackson rides ahead to take a look. To the east, there is no sign of General Shields. To the west, Fremont has yet to appear. While the wagons continue southward, the army stops just north of Strasburg, and Jackson issues orders for the morning. Ewell’s command will move from the rear of the infantry to the front, enter Strasburg and then turn off to the west to meet Fremont’s expected advance. For as long as Ewell can, he must hold open the Strasburg gate so that the Stonewall Brigade can catch up and pass through. Ewell is delighted.

In Washington Lincoln anxiously awaits news from Richmond and the Valley, hopeful for the best.

In Missouri there is skirmishing on Salt River near Florida, near Neosho and Waynesville; while in Mississippi there is skirmishing at Tuscumbia Creek.

For the Confederates, Major General T.C. Hindman assumes command of the Tran-Mississippi District.
June 1, Sunday

It has been an unnerving night for General Gustavus Smith, who is not only exhausted by the previous day’s battle south of Chickahominy and east of Richmond but stunned by the sudden responsibility of overall command of the Confederate army. Toward sundown last night President Davis asked him what his plans are, and he had replied that he had none: He might have to withdraw, or on the other hand he might be able to hold the ground won that day. He has spent most of the night trying to decide what to do, and has finally settled on a third alternative—to attack. In the early-morning hours he summons Longstreet and presents him with a battle plan that bears all the earmarks of expedience and confusion. While Whiting’s battle-weary division will merely stand fast, pinning down the enemy troops to its front, Longstreet’s entire right wing, three divisions, will wheel northward from their position astride the Williamsburg Road and attack toward the railroad east of Fair Oaks. Longstreet is cold to the idea. Perhaps he assumes that the Federals are being reinforced and an attack would be futile. He certainly knows that the terrain through which his men will have to advance is roadless, near-impenetrable woodland, impossible ground for an offensive. Also, his right wing will be nakedly vulnerable to a Federal counterattack westward along the Williamsburg Road. Smith blithely asserts that the Federals east of Seven Pines have been routed and offers to call on the divisions of A.P. Hill and Magruder, guarding the Chickahominy, if needed. Longstreet rides off at 3 am, still grumbling but apparently compliant.

But Longstreet has no intention of obeying Smith’s orders. His doubts about the battle plan aside, he has no respect for Smith’s leadership and no confidence that Smith will back up his subordinates once the fighting starts. He rides to General D.H. Hill, who has set up headquarters in the bullet-riddled tent abandoned by Silas Casey, and tells him to dispatch a few brigades to probe the Federal positions to determine the size and strength of their forces. It is a far cry from the massive attack that Smith envisions. At first light, D.H. Hill sends two of Longstreet’s brigades out on the Williamsburg Road to relieve Micah Jenkins and block any counterattack westward. Then he detaches three brigades and sends them north through the heavy woods toward the railroad. Hill seems as reluctant as Longstreet to engage the Federals. His instructions to the attacking brigade commanders are vague and incomplete. Moreover, he neglects to tell any of the three brigade commanders of the others’ involvement in the advance; consequently, each thinks he is attacking alone and fails to maintain flank contact with the other two.

At 6:30 two of the advancing brigades collide with a Federal brigade, the vanguard of the division deployed along the railroad tracks. The Union brigade manages to hold long enough for reinforcements to arrive, and first one Confederate brigade is driven all the way back to the main Confederate line along the Williamsburg Road, and the other, under Brigadier General Lewis Armistead, becomes confused by the poor visibility in the dark woods, finding it impossible to tell friend from foe. At one point the 14th Virginia, mistaking the troops to its front for the enemy, fires on the 53rd Virginia. At the same time, they begin to pay the price for Hill’s haphazard preparation for the day’s advance. Armistead has made no attempt to maintain contact with the brigade to his right, under General George E. Pickett, because he doesn’t know it is there; and Pickett has advanced with great deliberation, lagging far behind Armistead. A wide gap now yawns between the two brigades, each of which has a flank exposed dangerously to the Federals. Now Federal artillery and infantry of a newly-deployed brigade begin pouring fire into the Confederate gap. The commander has encountered no significant Confederate opposition to his front, so he has sidled along the railroad tracks toward the sound of rifle fire—and runs right into Armistead’s unprotected right flank. From the cover of the Railroad cut, the Federals pour enfilading fire into Armistead’s troops and follow up with a bayonet charge. The Confederates crumble before the onslaught and flee to the rear, and the triumphant Federals march back to their stronghold on the tracks. Pickett, in the meantime, still has not closed with the Federals, and he is surprised to hear the din of battle out beyond his left flank. He gallops off to investigate and sees scores of fugitives—Armistead’s routed men—streaming toward the rear. He rides farther until he finds Armistead and a knot of officers trying in vain to restore order. The two generals hastily confer and then send couriers galloping southward to ask for reinforcements from D.H. Hill. But none come—for reasons they will not learn until later. Fearing a concentrated Federal drive on their weakened position, Armistead and Pickett decide to pull back.

No Confederate commander seems willing this morning to invest additional troops in what now bears all the earmarks of an abortive venture. Early in the day Longstreet has sent messages repeatedly to Gustavus Smith, demanding that he commit Whiting’s division to the attack. But Smith must realize that his orders are not being carried out—the volume of firing isn’t intense enough for a three-division assault—and he hesitates and finally does nothing at all. Hill, for his part, has asked for reinforcements from Longstreet, but Longstreet chooses not to respond. Sniffing a failure in the making, Longstreet is content to stand by and let events run their course. Hill, realizing that he is entirely on his own, decides to give up the attack and at about 1 pm issues orders for his scattered brigades to pull back to the area around his headquarters, west of Seven Pines. Guarding the Williamsburg Road to the east, Generals Pryor and Wilcox are flabbergasted when they get the order to withdraw. All morning their brigades have handily withstood attacks by Hooker’s division. They nevertheless obey the order. As they start their men rearward, Hooker seizes the moment and sends his two brigades after the Confederates in a sweeping charge. Soon after, around 1 pm, the firing sputters to an inconclusive close.

The battle called Seven Pines by the Confederates and Fair Oaks for by Federals (each after the location of their greatest success) is over. It has been a mighty battle—the biggest and bloodiest thus far waged in the East. The cost: for the Confederates, 980 killed, 4,749 wounded, and 405 missing for a total of 6,134 casualties out of about 42,000 effectives; for the Federals, 790 killed, 3,594 wounded, and 647 missing or captured for 5,031, also out of about 42,000 engaged, although many additional Federals never got into action. On both sides, the soldiers have fought well, but what is most striking is the failure of command. McClellan spent the entire battle in bed and offered no leadership beyond sending Sumner over the river to rescue the threatened corps. The ailing general’s lapses are glaringly obvious to various subordinates, though the enlisted men still love their “Little Mac.” On the Confederate side, Johnston and Longstreet have muffed their opportunity to destroy the Federal left wing, and will try to make Benjamin Huger the scapegoat, blaming his inaction for their own failures. As for Gustavus Smith, he simply is not up to the burden of high command. President Davis announces this midafternoon that Smith is being replaced by General Robert E. Lee, and in two days he will leave the army, his nerves shattered.

Very little, if anything, has been decided. As soon as he assumes command Lee orders a withdrawal to the original positions, the Confederate troops will have completed that withdrawal by dawn the following morning. McClellan is still near Richmond, with forces vastly outnumbering the Confederates, although he will not admit it, or really doesn’t know it. For the Confederates the long-called-for attack has failed and the danger remains just as great.

In Washington Lincoln awaits news from the battlefield and wires McClellan three times, including: “Hold all your ground or yield any only, inch by inch, and in good order.”

In the Shenandoah General Ewell has his troops up at dawn. As his skirmishers push westward, they come under desultory cannonading from Fremont’s advance forces, situated in dense woods about four miles from Strasburg. While Ewell is surveying the scene, Richard Taylor rides up. Ewell orders him to remain there in charge while Ewell joins the skirmishers to “see what these people are about, for my skirmish line has stopped them.” He returns in a few minutes, completely puzzled—his skirmishers have “driven everything back to the main body, which is large. Taylor suggests he moves his Louisiana Brigade around to the right to threaten the Federal flank. Ewell agrees and Taylor carries out the maneuver, enjoying what he will call “a walk-over” with Fremont’s troops scattering before his advance. “Sheep would have made as much resistance[.]” It is now perfectly clear that John C. Fremont represents little menace. For Jackson, only the arrival of the Stonewall Brigade remains for his entire army to escape from Lincoln’s trap.

The men of the Stonewall Brigade have gotten off to a belated start. Early in the morning one of General Winder’s aides is awakened by Jed Hotchkiss stumbling over his tent ropes. To his vast chagrin, the cartographer had gotten lost on his way to inform Winder that the Stonewall Brigade must hurry southward. Winder then has to spend several hours collecting the 2nd Virginia Regiment, which is on the other side of the Shenandoah River, threatening the Federals atop Loudoun Heights outside Harpers Ferry. Cavalry assists in rounding up the regiment; the foot soldiers recross the Shenandoah by holding onto the tails of the troopers’ swimming horses. Then, as a soaking rain begins to fall, the Stonewall Brigade sets off on its march for survival. At dusk the brigade trudges through Winchester. At 10 pm, the column arrives at Newtown, 10 miles from Strasburg and the remainder of Jackson’s army. The men are on their last legs. During this day, they have marched at least 28 miles, and the 2nd Virginia has trekked 35. Stragglers are falling out by the hundreds. Despite his reputation as a martinet, Winder knows that his men can go no further and he orders a halt for the night.

In Oregon County, Missouri, there are several days of operations with a skirmish at Eleven Points.

For the Federals the Department of Virginia is extended and included in McClellan’s command. Major General John Wool is assigned to the Middle Department, and Major General John A. Dix will command Fort Monroe.
June 2, Monday

In the Shenandoah the Stonewall Brigade is back on the road by sunrise. Their mood is somber. Nearing Middletown, the men can hear the booming of General Ewell’s guns to the south and expect the worst. Just then a contingent of horsemen led by Turner Ashby appears from the south. Ashby has ridden out from Strasburg to seek the Stonewall Brigade, and is immensely relieved to find them. Shortly after noon Jackson’s old brigade staggers into Strasburg. While Ewell still faces west and dares Fremont to fight, Winder’s exhausted men are given several hours to rest. Later, as the sun settles on the western mountains, the entire Valley army resumes its retreat. Behind it, the turnpike begins filling with frustrated Federal troops in pursuit.

Although Jackson has evaded the trap, his army is still in grave danger. General Shields, from his position at Front Royal, can march up the Luray Valley, either crossing the Massanutten and striking Jackson’s flank at New Market, or continuing south to block the Valley army’s escape routes through the Blue Ridge passes. Closer at hand, Fremont, having missed his big chance, is belatedly belligerent and snapping at Jackson’s rear. Throughout the night, in a vicious storm, Jackson drives the Valley army. “The road,” one soldier will write, “was shoe-mouth deep in mud.” Twelve miles south of Strasburg, the leading infantry elements overtake the tail of the supply train, and a wild tangle of men, horses, and wagons brings the entire column to a halt. Jackson angrily blames the infantry commander. When the commander protests that it’s impossible for him to get his brigade together and moving, Jackson snaps, “Turn your command over to the next officer. If he can’t do it, I’ll find someone who can, if I have to take him from the ranks.”

Near Corinth, Mississippi, Federal troops under John Pope, following Beauregard’s withdrawing Confederates, fight briefly near Rienzi, Mississippi.

Other fighting takes place at Galloway’s Farm near Jacksonport, Arkansas; on the Little Blue in Jackson County, Missouri; and at Tranter’s Creek, North Carolina.

Near Richmond both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia are resting after two days of battles at Seven Pines or Fair Oaks. (Though officially the Army of Northern Virginia since April, it will only become popularly known as such after Lee takes over.) General McClellan writes to his wife, “I feel sure of success, so good is the spirit of my men and so great their ardor. But I am tired of the battle-field, with its mangled corpses and poor wounded. Victory has no charms for me when purchased at such cost.” President Davis writes of the two-day battle near the Chickahominy: “On Saturday we had a severe battle and suffered severely in attacking the enemy’s entrenchments of which our Generals were poorly informed.... Unaccountable delays in bringing some of our troops into action prevented us from gaining a decisive victory on Saturday. The opportunity being lost we must try to find another.”

Few cheers greet news of the selection of Robert E. Lee to command the Confederate army defending Richmond. The man Lee is replacing, General Joseph E. Johnston, is a genuine Confederate hero, and many anxious Southerners believe the shell that wounded Johnston has dealt the South an almost irreparable injury. It was Johnston, after all, who created the army protecting the capital, and there is a feeling that no one else has the right—or the brilliance—to lead it. The Richmond Examiner describes the new commander scathingly as “a general who has never fought a battle, who has a pious horror of guerrillas, and whose extreme tenderness of blood inclines him to depend exclusively on the resources of strategy.” The Richmond Whig is less hostile, but it reports hearing much “disparagement, sarcasm and ridicule” of Lee. The general’s own subordinates mutter uneasily that they are now being led by a staff officer who has never shown that he has the “power and skill for field service.” Even the enemy commander concurs in the view that Lee is Johnston’s inferior. Major General McClellan knew both men well during the Mexican War, and he professes delight at the change of command. “I prefer Lee to Johnston,” he writes. “The former is too cautious and weak under grave responsibility—personally brave and energetic to a fault, he yet is wanting in moral firmness when pressed by heavy responsibility and is likely to be timid and irresolute in action.”

Much of the criticism of Lee in the South arises from the fact that a great deal had been expected of him, and it is widely felt that he has failed to live up to his promise. At the outbreak of the war, when Lee resigned from the US Army, he had been one of the nation’s best-known soldiers. In the year since, all has somehow been anticlimactic. His campaign in Union-leaning western Virginia was bold but complicated, and miscarried disastrously. When Lee returned to Richmond after that frustrating venture, some Southern newspapers called him “Evacuating Lee.” He was also known—for his gray hair and for what some considered his fussiness—as “Granny Lee.” Following this setback, Lee was given another thankless assignment of supervising the building of fortifications along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia. Next came the equally thankless job of military adviser to President Davis. He has performed masterfully in this position, launching Stonewall Jackson’s brilliant campaign in the Shenandoah Valley and arranging for Joseph Johnston’s month-long defense of the Yorktown line on the Peninsula below Richmond. But few outside the government know of these behind-the-scenes efforts. Lee seems to be just one more big name from the prewar Army who hasn’t panned out.

But there are dissenters from this view, and if their voices aren’t very audible above the clamor this month of June, they will be remembered later. One of them is General Johnston. He has had his differences with Lee in the past, but when a friend suggests that his wound spells disaster for the Confederate cause, Johnston replies sharply, “No, Sir! The shot that struck me down is the very best that has been fired in the Southern cause yet. For I possess in no degree the confidence of our government, and now they have in my place one who does possess it, and who can accomplish what I never could have done—the concentration of our armies for the defense of the capital of the Confederacy.”

Confederates at Memphis, Tennessee, hold a mass meeting to rally their people to the defense of the city, but more than mass meetings are needed.

Lincoln telegraphs Generals McClellan and McDowell, checking carefully on weather and events.
June 3, Tuesday

Stonewall Jackson’s Valley army crosses the Shenandoah’s North Fork, burns a bridge behind them, and encamps in their old refuge on Rude’s Hill near the town of Mount Jackson. Jackson decides to permit them a day’s rest, although there is skirmishing at Mount Jackson and Tom’s Brook.

The fall of Corinth, Mississippi, to the Federals breaks the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, a vital Confederate east-west link. More than that, it renders the northern outposts of the South on the Mississippi useless and practically dooms the city of Memphis, Tennessee. Beginning on this day the Confederates at Fort Pillow, threatened by the navy flotilla north of them, have no recourse but to take all the guns they can and pull out. The earthworks on the bluff above the river will be vacated completely by the night of June 4. Only a weak Confederate naval flotilla will remain between the Federals and Memphis.

Along the Chickahominy, McClellan sends out a reconnaissance to the James to make contact with the Union river boats.

There is a skirmish on James Island, South Carolina, not far from Charleston, as Federals begin their drive to take or render impotent the city where the war began.

In Mississippi there is skirmishing at Blackland and a reconnaissance toward Baldwyn and Carrollsville south of Corinth; Halleck studies the Confederate dispositions at Tupelo.

To Mrs. Davis the heavyhearted President of the Confederacy writes on his fifty-fourth birthday, “It is hard to see incompetence losing opportunity and wasting hard-gotten means, but harder still to bear, is the knowledge that there is no available remedy.”
June 4, Wednesday

Southern troops regretfully complete their evacuation of Fort Pillow on the Mississippi. However, the pesky force of Confederate rams still bars Flag Officer Davis’ route downriver Before he can rendezvous with Farragut, he will have to deal with these Confederate craft.

Elsewhere there is skirmishing at Huntsville, Alabama, where O.M. Mitchel’s Federals still pose a threat to Chattanooga; at Osborn’s and Wolf’s creeks, Mississippi; at Sweden’s Cove near Jasper, Tennessee; at Woodville, Alabama; and at Big Bend, western Virginia. There is activity for several days around Miami, Cambridge, Frankfurt, Waverly, and Pink Hill, Missouri.

The Federal push is still on, with Pope of Halleck’s army probing Beauregard south of Corinth, the gunboats ready to move on the Mississippi, Mitchel in Alabama, operations on the islands near Charleston, and McClellan perched on the Chickahominy within sound of Richmond. Frightened Southern planters are burning immense amounts of cotton on the Yazoo and the Mississippi to prevent its capture. In Richmond Jefferson Davis has to deal with calls for troops in many places, but if he weakens one to support another he might be in worse trouble.
June 5, Thursday

After permitting a day’s rest, Jackson orders the Valley army on, pushing through Harrisonburg. By nightfall, the army’s van is nearing Port Royal, 11 miles southeast of Harrisonburg, with the rest of the command strung out seven or eight miles behind. From a tower on the Massanutten, signal flags convey the welcome word that General Shield’s Union force, badly mired in the mud of the Luray Valley, is still 14 miles from Port Republic.

Northern troops find Fort Pillow, Tennessee, deserted. The navy gunboats push rapidly down the Mississippi toward Memphis.

Scattered skirmishing occurs at Little Red River, Arkansas; near Sedalia, Missouri; Round Grove, Indian Territory; Tranter’s Creek, North Carolina; and New Bridge, Virginia.

President Lincoln signs a bill granting him authorization to appoint diplomatic representatives to Haiti and Liberia, the first Black nations to be recognized by the United States.

McClellan is hesitating. It has rained virtually every day for a fortnight; he needs to rebuild his 11 bridges over the raging Chickahominy and needs time, too, for the roads to harden so he can move up his big guns. All the while he has kept up his demands that General McDowell’s 30,000-man Army of the Rappahannock be sent south to join him. For a time it seemed that the government would comply, but the threat posed by “Stonewall” Jackson’s army in the Shenandoah Valley has permitted only one of McDowell’s divisions to be shipped south.

Lee is making good use of this precious time. He has inherited a loose-knit army—which he names the Army of Northern Virginia—composed of Johnston’s Manassas veterans, the original Peninsula defense force under Major General Magruder, and a hodgepodge of reinforcements now arriving from southern Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia. Lee is trying to integrate these various forces and tighten the slackness that characterized Johnston’s command. He stresses discipline and sobriety (Lee himself takes nothing stronger than a little wine). He is getting better rations and uniforms for his troops. And he is strengthening his officer corps, promoting deserving men and sacking incompetents. He also tackles the attitude of defeatism among some of his generals who, at least until the near victory at Seven Pines, have grown dangerously accustomed to retreating.

Instead of retreating, Lee sets about fortifying his position with earthworks. The Confederate line stretches for more than eight miles from White Oak Swamp north to New Bridge on the Chickahominy. Then it curves northwestward along the near bank of the river to beyond the Mechanicsville bridges. Up and down the line, soldiers are set to work with pick and shovel. Many begin calling Lee by the name that the troops had given him in South Carolina: “King of Spades.”

East of the Confederates, less than a mile away, the Federals man a north-south line centered on the village of Fair Oaks. They too are at work with pick and shovel. McClellan intends to tighten his grip on Richmond through the kind of elaborate siege-work he studied in Europe. “I will bring up my heavy guns, shell the city, and carry it by assault.”

Lee has correctly divined McClellan’s intentions and is developing a strategy to foil them. Today he sets forth his ideas in a message to President Davis, who he takes care to consult with on a daily basis (as Johnston had not). “McClellan will make this a battle of posts. He will take position from position, under cover of his heavy guns. I am preparing a line that I can hold with part of our forces in front, while with the rest I will endeavor to make a diversion to bring McClellan out.” The diversion Lee has in mind is nothing less than a full-scale attack north of the Chickahominy. While part of his army would hold the new earthworks below the river east of Richmond, the rest would cross over the Chickahominy near Mechanicsville and strike McClellan’s extended right flank on the north bank. Such a maneuver would threaten McClellan’s supply line. The Confederate stroke would pry McClellan out of his entrenchments south of the Chickahominy and force him to fight in the open. Such an attack, Lee tells Davis, would forestall McClellan’s projected siege—and might actually “change the character of the war.”
June 6, Friday

During the retreat of General Jackson’s Valley army, Turner Ashby has known his finest hours. Recently promoted to brigadier general, he has led Jackson’s rear guard in repeated, reckless charges against Fremont’s pursuing Federals. Late this afternoon, with Jackson already halted outside Port Republic, Ashby is attacked about three miles south of Harrisonburg by Brigadier General George D. Bayard’s Federal cavalry. With Ashby riding in the front rank, Confederate horsemen then send their enemy reeling, capturing the flag of the 1st New Jersey Cavalry and taking prisoner the regiment’s colonel. But Bayard is a dashing and aggressive commander. He has only recently recovered from an operation to remove a Commanche arrowhead embedded in his cheekbone—a wound received in prewar Amerind fighting. Now, Bayard begins re-forming his troopers to renew his attack. In the lull, Ashby collects two of General Ewell’s infantry regiments. He is guiding the 1st Maryland toward some woods, from which they can fire into the flanks of the advancing Federals. Suddenly, out of those woods comes a fusillade of shots from Federal sharpshooters of a Pennsylvania battalion. Ashby’s horse goes down. Almost in the same motion, Ashby is on his feet, waving his revolver and shouting for the Confederates to charge. He hasn’t taken a half dozen steps when he falls, shot through the body, and dies almost instantly. The 1st Maryland presses its attack and carries the Federal position. But in Ashby’s death the South has suffered a grievous wound. Jackson is sitting with his staff, questioning Percy Wyndham, when he receives word of Ashby’s death. Jackson summarily dismisses the Englishman and retires to his tent to brood—and pray—in solitude.

President Lincoln and the Navy Department are not happy with Farragut. They expected great things from his upriver expedition, and were astonished to learn that he didn’t even attempt to run the Vicksburg batteries. The gunboats under Flag Officer Davis have begun their passage downriver from Cairo, Illinois; a meeting between Farragut and Davis would at least mark the symbolic opening of the Mississippi. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus Fox has sent an angry message to Farragut at New Orleans: “The President requires you to use your utmost exertions (without a moment’s delay and before any other naval operations are permitted to interfere) to open the Mississippi and effect a junction with Flag Officer Davis.” A peremptory order from the President cannot be ignored, and so today Farragut sets out again.

As it happens, Davis too is still a long way from Vicksburg, but he is getting closer. With his new ram fleet he is much better equipped to cope with the enemy flotilla that savaged him on May 10th. Now, as Ellet and his rams approach Memphis, the Confederate flotilla, under the joint command of Commodore James E. Montgomery and Brigadier General M. Jeff Thompson, come boldly out and launch an attack. But this time the Confederates are overmatched. The General Lovell is rammed by Colonel Ellet’s Queen of the West and quickly goes to the bottom. When two more Confederate rams, the General Beauregard and the General Price, converge to attack a Federal ram, they collide with each other instead. Both run aground, and the General Beauregard, which has been riddled with Federal shells, is blown to pieces when her boilers burst. Four other Confederate vessels are put out of commission by volleys from Davis’ gunboats. Three of these are badly damaged but salvageable. Commodore Montgomery is killed aboard his flagship, the Little Rebel.

Of the eight Confederate craft that open the fight, only one, the General Van Dorn, escapes downriver. More than 70 Confederates on the vessels are captured. The sole Federal casualty is Colonel Ellet. He suffers a bullet wound in the leg that will later become infected and, on June 21, cost him his life.

The crowds of spectators watching the fight from the Memphis riverbank are staggered by the outcome. They turned out in a holiday mood to cheer on their champions, only to see the fleet destroyed. Memphis is now unprotected. In the afternoon, young Charles Rivers Ellet steps ashore before a subdued citizenry and accepts the surrender of the city. The North has a new and useful base and a concentration point for its campaigning into the heart of the South. The Mississippi is now open to the Federals except in the state of Mississippi. Now Davis’ squadron will make its way downriver to a point a few miles upstream from Vicksburg to await David Farragut’s ships.

In the West, south of Corinth, the fighting and reconnaissance continues with action from Booneville toward Baldwyn, Mississippi. Elsewhere, there is skirmishing near Tompkinsville, Kentucky; Grant River, Indian Territory; and at Port Royal Ferry, South Carolina.
June 7, Saturday

There is little time for Jackson to mourn Turner Ashby’s death. With Fremont still pressing the Valley army’s rear and General Shields emerging from the Luray Valley, he finds himself between Federal forces whose courses converge at Port Republic. As the moment of reckoning nears, Jackson puts Jed Hotchkiss to work on a detailed map of the territory. The terrain is complicated. The little town of Port Republic lies at the end of a spit of land between the North and South Rivers, which join just northeast of the village to form the South Fork of the Shenandoah. A single wooden bridge crosses the North River; from there, the road leads northwest to Harrisonburg. Two fords—one at the northeastern edge of Port Republic and the other about a half mile further south—offer the only passages across the South River. To reach Port Republic, Shields will have to use one of the fords. Jackson deploys most of his army along the bluffs overlooking Port Republic from the far bank of the North River. From there, his guns can sweep the town and the South River fords, thereby holding off Shields. To block Fremont, Jackson orders Ewell’s division to deploy about seven miles southeast of Harrisonburg near the village of Cross Keys. Facing north, Ewell occupies a strong position along a ridge line—and looks forward to Fremont’s arrival with relish.

Ewell will have to wait awhile. Trying to induce Fremont to attack him, he maneuvers throughout the day. Fremont is also being prodded by his impulsive ally Shields, who sends a message exhorting him to “thunder down on his rear.” Shields adds: “I think Jackson is caught this time.” Although Fremont has been bold against the Confederate cavalry, Ewell’s hard-bitten infantry is another matter—and Fremont passes the day at a prudent distance. Jackson is irritated by the Federals’ failure to fight. He is also disappointed, having just learned that he will not be receiving the reinforcements he requested. Without them he cannot assume the offensive. This evening, he moves his headquarters across the North River to the comforts of an estate on the western edge of Port Republic.

General Benjamin F. Butler, considered by some to be a tyrant, and by others to be a just ruler at New Orleans, adds to his fame or censure this day by having William B. Mumford hanged for tearing down and destroying the United States flag over the New Orleans Mint. Even many favorable to Butler are critical of the punishment. The event raises bitter recriminations in Richmond and throughout the Confederacy.

From north of the Tennessee River, Federal troops under Ormsby Mitchel shell and launch an attack upon Chattanooga which is beaten off. But it convinces Major General Edmund Kirby Smith, the Confederate commander given the daunting responsibility of holding the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad between Chattanooga and the Cumberland Gap—a distance of 180 miles—with only six small brigades, that they must fortify and garrison more effectively this extremely important point.

There is also a skirmish at Big Bend, western Virginia. Near Richmond there is a reconnaissance by Federals on the Chickahominy. In the Charleston Harbor area of South Carolina skirmishing continues on James Island. Further west Federal troops take Jackson, Tennessee, a fairly important rail and road center. There is skirmishing at Readyville, Tennessee, and at Fairview and Little Red River, Arkansas. Federal troops also carry out a three-day expedition from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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