The American Civil War, day by day - Page 18 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15006316
May 21, Tuesday

In Missouri General Sterling Price, representing the state and the pro-secessionists, and General Harney for the United States sign a proclamation in which they agree that Price is to direct the power of the state officers to maintain order, and that Harney will not bring in the Federal Army if order is maintained. This is interpreted by Blair and Lyon as being a virtual surrender of the state.

In Washington President Lincoln sends a dispatch, signed and in part composed by Secretary of State Seward, to British minister Charles Francis Adams, instructing him to desist from contact with the British government as long as it continues intercourse with “the domestic enemies of this country.”

On the last day of the second session of the Provisional Congress of the Confederacy President Davis announces that he has signed a bill to make the Provisional Constitution permanent. Meeting for the last time in Montgomery, Congress still debates moving the headquarters of the Confederacy. Some members favor other places or advocate Montgomery over Richmond. But the majority believes that military and psychological advantages give the edge to the Virginia city. President Davis also signs one bill outlawing the payment by Southerners of money due Northern merchants, and approves another prohibiting cotton trade except through Confederate ports.

The oldest active Federal warship, USS Constellation, veteran of the War of 1812, captures a slave ship off the mouth of the Congo.
#15006675
May 22, Wednesday

General Benjamin F. Butler arrives to take command at strategic Fort Monroe, Virginia.

It is reported that the market in Europe for Confederate securities is weak.
#15006898
May 23, Thursday

The citizens of Virginia vote three to one in favor of secession. Many lukewarm secessionists feel they cannot oppose the action of their state and, anyway, the referendum is after the fact. In western Virginia, however, the vote is overwhelmingly against secession, but that area is already breaking away from the Old Dominion. In the eastern and central parts of the state the vote is heavily in favor of secession. For the ordinance of secession, 96,750; against, 32,134.

Troops of Benjamin F. Butler move out from Fort Monroe toward Hampton, Virginia, in a mild reconnaissance with little or no shooting.

For almost a month, until June 17, Federal troops will carry out scouting activities against Amerinds on the Mad and Eel rivers of California.
#15007065
May 24, Friday

As stealthily as partially trained troops can move, the Federals advance across the Potomac at Washington and occupy Alexandria, Virginia. A small Confederate detachment in the city quickly leaves as the three regiments and other units cross by the Long Bridge or land from steamers. The Virginia ends of the bridge are seized and by sunrise fortifications are going up. The Virginia troops retreat in good order; few shots are fired. The North has taken a primary step to defend its capital and set its foot upon the soil of Virginia.

Added to the strategy and the thrill of the first advance is the tragic, dramatic death of youthful Elmer Ellsworth. Twenty-four, organizer of a famous Zouave drill team, Ellsworth leads the First Fire Zouaves, or Eleventh New York. Colonel Ellsworth with a few companies rushing toward the center of Alexandria sees a secession flag flying from the Marshall House and enters to take it down. Descending the stairs with the banner Ellsworth is confronted by the hotel keeper, James Jackson. Jackson blasts Ellsworth with his shotgun; Jackson is immediately fatally shot by Private Francis E. Brownell.

Ellsworth’s death plunges the North into a patriotic spasm of grief; the body lies in state in the White House. A friend of the President, Ellsworth becomes a martyr for the Federal cause. As the tears and cries of rage spread through the North, so, too, does Jackson become a martyr to the South. Poems, songs, and graphic drawings circulate widely, dramatizing the incident. A beautiful and noble life ended, the Northern press proclaims; “Jackson perished a’mid the pack of wolves,” the South proclaims. But as far as the war is concerned, the Federals have gained by force of arms a foothold on Virginia soil to add to that at Fort Monroe, maintained by wisely increased Federal garrisons.

Elsewhere, General Benjamin Butler at Fort Monroe refuses to give up three Negro slaves who came into his lines, holding them as “contraband” of war, thus raising the whole issue of treatment of slaves by the Federals.

In Missouri the state troops of Governor Jackson and Sterling Price refuse to disband.

A former US Army captain, Ulysses S. Grant, offers his services to the Union but gets no reply.
#15007355
May 25, Saturday

Funeral services are held in the East Room of the White House for Colonel Elmer Ellsworth. The President and Mrs. Lincoln are present. The President writes the parents of young Ellsworth, “So much of promised usefulness to one’s country, and of bright hopes for one’s self and friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed, as in his fall.” Death in war is still new, soon it will receive less attention.

President Davis writes to a committee of the Maryland legislature thanking them for their sympathies with the cause of vindicating “the right of Self-Government,” and assuring them of the genuine desire for peace, but pointing out the failure of any peaceful relations with the United States.
#15007593
May 26, Sunday

Major General George B. McClellan, from Cincinnati, orders three Federal columns into western Virginia to protect the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and aid the pro-unionists of the area. The main drive is toward Grafton.

Postmaster General Blair of the United States rules that postal ties with the Southern states will end May 31.

Agitation continues both North and South over the Alexandria affair and the deaths of Ellsworth and Jackson, with hot words appearing editorially in many papers.

Federal blockades are set up at Mobile by USS Powhatan, and at New Orleans by USS Brooklyn.
#15007807
May 27, Monday

Troops of General Butler from Fort Monroe are sent eight miles by boats to take Newport News, Virginia, the operation to be completed without opposition by May 29. This gives the Federals at Fort Monroe a larger staging area for future operations.

Chief Justice William B. Taney rules that the military arrest of John Merryman in Maryland has violated the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and that the President does not have the authority to suspend this privilege. The case arises out of the arrest of Merryman for allegedly recruiting for a Confederate regiment and his imprisonment by General Cadwalader in Baltimore. Ex Parte Merryman will become a highly debated case. Cadwalafer claimed that the President had authorized him to suspend the writ in such cases. President Lincoln later holds that he has the power of such suspension in certain cases and continues to execute it. His grounds are that the Constitution provides for suspension in cases of rebellion or invasion where public safety requires it.

The President is concerned about events in Missouri and informs General W.S. Harney that the reported mistreatment of citizens loyal to the Union should be stopped. President Lincoln says that the professions of loyalty of the state authorities cannot be relied upon.
#15008014
May 28, Tuesday

Brigadier General Irvin McDowell assumes command of the Department of Northeastern Virginia, which includes Federal troops in and around Alexandria.

USS Union sets up a blockade of the Confederate port of Savannah, Georgia.

In the British House of Commons debate opens on relations with both the United and Confederate States.
#15008233
May 29, Wednesday

President Jefferson Davis arrives in the newly designated Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. A large assemblage led by Governor John Letcher and military and civil dignitaries greet him. The President has been ill on his trip from Montgomery, but has responded to the frequent stops when crowds called for “Jeff Davis.” “The old Hero!” The trip has been one continuous ovation.

In Washington the organization of nurses for the Army is well under way. Secretary of War Cameron has accepted the aid of Miss Dorothea Dix in establishing hospitals and caring for sick and wounded.

For three days a trio of Federal vessels has bombarded enemy batteries at Aquia Creek, Virginia.
#15008515
May 30, Thursday

Federal troops under Colonel B.F. Kelley occupy Grafton, western Virginia, after a successful march across the Ohio in order to guard the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and help protect pro-Union citizens in the western counties of Virginia.

Appointments of officers and recruitment of troops continue both North and South and receive most of the martial attention.

Secretary of War Simon Cameron informs General Butler at Fort Monroe that he should retain such fugitive slaves as come within his lines, employ them, and keep records of their services. The question of what to do about slaves within Federal lines has been raised by Butler and caused a great deal of correspondence and debate in Federal government circles, with Lincoln himself pondering the proper policy. Now the decision is that refugees should be cared for and given work in Federal military installations.

At Norfolk, Virginia, the Confederates raise USS Merrimack, which had been burned when the Federals evacuated the navy yard.
#15008810
May 31, Friday

The Federal Potomac Flotilla of three vessels shells the Confederate batteries at Aquia Creek, Virginia, as part of the continuing small war going on along the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.

The Confederates name Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard to command the Alexandria Line, which means all the Southern troops in northern Virginia. He previously had commanded at Charleston.

In a major Federal shift Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon supersedes William S. Harney in command of the Department of the West. Francis P. Blair and Lyon have finally exercised their authority, given them in mid-May, to relieve Harney when Blair thought necessary. The Harney-Price agreement to allow state authorities control, and the general’s attempt to resolve things peaceably, has aroused great controversy. Harney feels the complaints of Union citizens in Missouri are exaggerated, while Blair and Lyon are violently opposed to his pact with Price.

Federal troops arrive at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, from the Indian Territory after abandoning posts there. The course they have followed will become known as the Chisholm Trail, named for Jesse Chisholm, one of their guides.
#15009105
June 1, Saturday

Minor skirmishes occur in northern Virginia at Arlington Mills and Fairfax Court House. Federal cavalry move out to Fairfax, enter, and then pull out. The insignificant affair attracts more attention than it deserves because serious fighting has not yet begun. Captain John Q. Marr of the Confederacy is killed, one of the first Confederate battle deaths.

Federal naval vessels continue to bombard enemy batteries in the Aquia Creek area of Virginia.

At Cairo, Illinois, junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, the first thirty-two pound ball is fired down the Mississippi as the big guns are planted in position.

In Richmond President Davis is serenaded and gives a patriotic address to the crowd, saying, “Upon us is devolved the high and holy responsibility of preserving the constitutional liberty of a free government.” He claims the North is “stripped of the liberty to which they were born” by “an ignorant usurper.”

Great Britain proclaims a policy of preventing belligerents from carrying prizes into any British ports or territorial waters. It will be followed by other nations.
#15009365
June 2, Sunday

P.G.T. Beauregard takes command of the Confederate forces in northern Virginia on the Alexandria Line. He succeeds Milledge L. Bonham. The force is known variously as the Department of Alexandria, the Potomac Department, and the Army of the Potomac.

Federal forces move out from Grafton, western Virginia, this night, heading southward in a heavy rain.
#15009546
June 3, Monday

The “Little Giant” Stephen A. Douglas is dead. In Chicago the forty-eight-year-old senator from Illinois and former presidential candidate succumbs in the Tremont House of possible typhoid fever, following physical exhaustion. Personal financial difficulties, long campaigning, the war he sought to avoid, the rallying of strong support for the Union, and illness has finally downed one of the nation’s prominent leaders. His last message to his two sons says, “Tell them to obey the laws and support the Constitution of the United States.” In Washington President Lincoln denies himself to visitors in sorrow for the man who had beaten him for the US Senate, and whom, in turn, he had beaten for the presidency. A Democrat, Douglas had long been the Northern leader of his party, the developer of popular sovereignty, and an advocate of western expansion. But Douglas had been all Union, as proved by the 1860 split in the Democratic party when he headed the ticket of the Northern wing against the South. Many disliked him politically but no one could deny his essential dedication to the country. The Union has lost one of its strongest supporters and noblest soldiers with the death of the short, volatile, aggressive little man with the valiant spirit.

There are two main lines of attack through the mountains of western Virginia, and eventually the Federals utilize them both—one from Grafton, Philippi, and Beverly and the other from the Ohio River up the Great Kanawha Valley to Charleston. Brigadier General T.A. Morris of McClellan’s command advances from Grafton in two columns. Through the pitchy darkness and drenching rain over torturous mountain roads the Federals file. About daylight they strike at Philippi, completely surprising the sleeping Confederates. Colonel G.A. Porterfield’s command makes no defense whatsoever, most of them fleeing, with the Federals in rapid pursuit. What few pickets there are fail. A joint report will call the Confederate rout “disgraceful.” A minor action, blown up in the press until it will become known as the “Philippi Races,” this skirmish will have some influence on the breaking away of western Virginia from the Confederacy.
#15009793
June 4, Tuesday

Southern papers suggest that slaves be employed on Confederate fortifications in place of volunteer troops.
#15010080
June 5, Wednesday

The Federal steamer Harriet Lane throws a few shells at the Pig Point batteries on the James River, Virginia, typical of the current secondary actions.

At Manassas General Beauregard issues a proclamation to the people of northern Virginia, saying, “A reckless and unprincipled tyrant has invaded your soil. Abraham Lincoln, regardless of all moral, legal, and constitutional restraints, has thrown his abolition hosts among you, who are murdering and imprisoning your citizens, confiscating and destroying your property, and committing other acts of violence and outrage too shocking and revolting to humanity to be enumerated.” He adds that the Federal “war cry is ‘Beauty and booty’,” and calls for citizens to rally to their state and country.

In Baltimore US marshals take possession of the gun factory of Merrill & Thomas. Federal authorities also seize powder from the Hazard Powder Co., Lower Canton, Connecticut, and from the Du Pont powder works in Delaware.
#15010343
June 6, Thursday

Confederate Brigadier General Henry A. Wise, former governor of Virginia, is ordered to take command of troops in the Kanawha Valley of western Virginia.

The Federal Cabinet decides that war expenses should be paid by the national government, except those of the states for mobilization prior to swearing in of the men.
#15010601
June 7, Friday

Confederate troops carry out a minor reconnaissance from Yorktown to Newport News, Virginia.

Federals blockade Apalachicola, Florida.

During the funeral of Senator Douglas, President Lincoln receives no visitors. Government departments and many public schools in the North are closed, honoring the late senator from Illinois. The White House is draped in black.
#15010752
June 8, Saturday

Tennessee voters approve secession by a large majority: 104,913 for and 47,238 against. The eastern part of the state votes against secession two to one, but the rest are strongly pro-Confederate. The vote approves the previous action of the legislature, although Tennessee already is active in the Confederacy.

Brigadier General Robert S. Garnett is assigned to command Confederate troops in northwestern Virginia in an effort to stiffen defense after the failure of Porterfield at Philippi.

Governor John Letcher of Virginia officially transfers the forces of Virginia to the Confederate States. This puts General Robert E. Lee temporarily out of a regular job, as he had commanded the Virginia troops, but he still acts as advisor to President Davis.

President Lincoln and Secretary of War Cameron approve the setting up of the United States Sanitary Commission, which is to do so much to see to the health and comfort of the Federal soldiers.
#15011027
June 9, Sunday

In the evening Federal troops move out of Newport News and Fort Monroe against Confederate positions at Big Bethel Church, Virginia. The night march for green troops runs into considerable trouble with Federals firing into their comrades by mistake.
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