The American Civil War, day by day - Page 23 - Politics | PoFo

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August 20, Tuesday

Major General George B. McClellan assumes command of the newly organized Department and the Army of the Potomac for the Union.

A convention at Wheeling, western Virginia, provides for setting up a new pro-Union state to be called Kanawha.

Skirmishing occurs at Hawk’s Nest and Laurel Fork Creek, western Virginia; and at Fish Lake, Missouri. Confederates attack a railroad train near Lookout Station, Missouri.

President Davis writes Joseph E. Johnston at Manassas about complaints in the Confederate Army of improper food and lack of care for the sick. Davis approves a bill increasing Confederate artillery and calling for other military measures.

At Springfield, Missouri, General Sterling Price proclaims the great Southern victory at Wilson’s Creek and says Northern aggressors of Missouri have been defeated.
August 21, Wednesday

The Federal government orders that copies of New York newspapers suppressed for allegedly aiding rebellion should not be carried by the mails, and papers are confiscated in Philadelphia.

There is a skirmish at Jonesboro, Missouri.

General Roswell S. Ripley is named to command the Confederate Department of South Carolina, and Brigadier General John B. Grayson the Department of Middle and East Florida. President Davis approves an act of the Confederate Congress to name two more commissioners to Europe, and another measure authorizing the President to cooperate with and extend aid to Missouri.
August 22, Thursday

Two vessels, W. B. Terry and Samuel Orr, are seized by pro-Confederates at Paducah, Kentucky.

Suppression of alleged pro-Southern Northern newspapers continue in New York; Canton, Ohio; and Philadelphia.
August 23, Friday

As military build-up continues both North and South with regiments joining the armies, the military action increases slightly. There is an engagement of two Federal steamers, Yankee and Release, with Confederate batteries at the mouth of Potomac Creek, Virginia. Skirmishing breaks out at Springfield, western Virginia; Medoc, Missouri; and Fort Craig, New Mexico Territory.

Governor Isham Harris of Tennessee appeals to mothers, wives, and daughters for clothing and blankets for the soldiers in the field.
August 24, Saturday

President Davis names commissioners to Europe: Pierre A. Rost to Spain, James M. Mason to Great Britain, and John Slidell to France. Their task is to attempt to obtain foreign recognition of the Confederacy and also to act as purchasing agents for guns, ammunition, and supplies.

Mason’s name is anathema to abolitionists, for he is the author of the Fugitive Slave Law as well as a public letter eulogizing Preston Brooks for caning Sumner. Though he got both his schooling and his wife in Philadelphia, Mason is an ardent secessionist and disapproves in general of things Northern. He has been to New England only once, to dedicate a monument, and found it so distasteful that when invited to return he replied that he would never visit that shore again, “except as an ambassador.”

Slidell is five years older and looks it. He is New York-born, the son of a candlemaker who has risen, but he moved to New Orleans to escape the consequences of debt and a duel with a theatrical manager over the affections of an actress. Importing the methods of Tammany Hall, he has prospered in Louisiana politics. Though not without some scandal, he has won himself a fortune in sugar, a Creole bride, three terms in Congress—once in the House and twice in the Senate—and an appointment as Minister to Mexico (just before the war with that country, so he never actually served). He is aptly named, being noted for his slyness. All this together with the ability to converse in both French (New Orleans-style) and Spanish (the Empress Eugénie’s native language), he is as well-suited to Paris as Mason, with his rectitude and cavalier descent, is for London.

In Washington several people are arrested, including Mrs. Philip Phillips and Mrs. Rose Greenhow, on charges of corresponding with the Confederacy.

Raids continue on “secessionist” newspapers in the North with several suppressions by the government.

President Lincoln tells Governor Beriah Magoffin of Kentucky that he cannot and will not remove the pro-Union forces being organized in Kentucky despite claims of the state to neutrality.
August 25, Sunday

Skirmishing occurs near Piggot’s Mill, western Virginia, and near Fort Craig, New Mexico Territory, while the Federals scout into Virginia from Great Falls, Maryland. August 25 to September 8 there are operations by Confederates against the Amerinds about Fort Stanton, New Mexico Territory.
August 26, Monday

Moderately severe fighting breaks out at Cross Lanes near Summerville, western Virginia, when Confederate Brigadier General Floyd crosses the Gauley River to attack Colonel Erastus Tyler’s 7th Ohio Infantry Regiment. The Union forces are surprised and routed with sever losses, with the two wings of Tyler’s line retreating in different directions. Throughout the rout and carnage Major Jack Casement, head of Tyler’s left wing, commences a march through Confederate territory, over mountains and rivers, to Charleston, western Virginia, without the capture of a man. After his victory General Floyd takes up a defensive position at Carnifex Ferry.

There is further skirmishing at Wayne Court House and at Blue’s House, western Virginia.

King Kamehameha IV of the Hawaiian Islands proclaims the neutrality of his country in the war.

Navy Captain Andrew Foote is ordered to take command of the Federal gunboat forces on Western rivers, replacing John Rodgers. Rodgers has done well, but there have been personality clashes.

The first of the combined operations called for by the planning board made up of representatives of the Army, Navy, and US Coastal Service, against the Cape Hatteras area, begins as a naval squadron and army transports, eight ships and nine hundred soldiers under Commodore Silas H. Stringham and General B.F. Butler, leave Hampton Roads, Virginia.
August 27, Tuesday

On the wind-whipped beaches of the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Cape Hatteras the Confederates have erected two sand and wood fortifications to protect Hatteras Inlet, an important waterway for blockade runners. The Federal expedition targeting the forts occupies Fort Clark with no opposition, the garrison having abandoned it. The Navy duels with the batteries in Fort Hatteras, though largely without effect. Some troops are landed with difficulty.

There is skirmishing at Antietam Iron Works in Maryland, north of the Potomac, and at Ball’s Cross Roads, Virginia.
August 28, Wednesday

Federal naval vessels open fire upon Fort Hatteras, North Carolina, in the Union attempt to capture the Confederate defense positions in the area. After suffering severe damage, the fort surrenders, although casualties are very light on both sides. The fall of Forts Clark and Hatteras seal off an important blockading route, and this successful invasion of North Carolina soil by the Federals have a propaganda effect out of proportion to its military value.

Elsewhere there is a skirmish at Ball’s Mills, Missouri, and at Bailey’s Roads, Virginia.

General Nathaniel Lyon, killed at Wilson’s Creek, receives impressive ceremonies in St. Louis.

General Fremont instructs Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant to take command of “a combined forward movement” and “to occupy Columbus, Ky. as soon as possible.” That city’s pro-southern citizens have already petitioned the Confederates to march to their defense.
August 29, Thursday

There is minor skirmishing at Lexington and Morse’s Mills, Missouri, while Federals are completing their cleanup operations at Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina.

“Peace” meetings at Middletown, New Jersey, and Newton on Long Island fail to come off.
August 30, Friday

In the early morning hours in his luxurious St. Louis headquarters, Major General John Fremont writes and then issues his unauthorized and soon-to-be-famous emancipation proclamation and order of confiscation. Declaring martial law throughout Missouri, he further confiscates all property of “those who shall take up arms against the United States” and added that “their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free men.” All persons found in the Union-controlled zone with guns in their hands will be shot if found guilty by military court-martial. The order also applies to all those who are “proven to have taken an active part with their enemies in the field.” Fremont declares that he is doing this because of the “disorganized condition, helplessness of civil authority and total insecurity of life” in Missouri. The cry against the order will be immediate and largely unanimous, although there will be a few then and later who support it. But the consensus will agree with President Lincoln, who will term it “dictatorial.”
August 31, Saturday
In Richmond the Confederate Congress adjourns and the government announces the appointment of five full generals in order of seniority: Samuel Cooper dating from May 16, Albert Sidney Johnston from May 28, Robert E. Lee from June 14, Joseph E. Johnston from July 4, and P.G.T. Beauregard from July 21. In western Virginia, Lee’s promotion does much to allay the resentment of the Mexican War veteran General Loring’s resentment of Lee’s “advice.”

There is a skirmish at Munson’s Hill or Little River Turnpike, Virginia.
September 1, Sunday

Minor skirmishing occupies the day at Blue Creek, Boone Court House, and Burlington, western Virginia, as well as at Bennight’s Mills and in Jefferson County, Missouri, and near Fort Scott, Kansas.

General Fremont, needing someone to command the troops assembling in southeast Missouri for future offensives to the south, is impressed by the “dogged persistence” and “iron will” of the last officer he interviews, and so gives the command to Brigadier General U.S. Grant. Grant will soon move his headquarters to Cairo, Illinois.

Cairo, at the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, has the raw look and racy atmosphere of a frontier town, and for decades has catered to rivermen looking for some fun. Now the original population of 2,200 is rapidly expanding to provide the same for the 8,000 soldiers that have already arrived with more arriving all the time by riverboat and rail to drill at Fort Defiance and Camp Smith. With few recorded exceptions, the solders take an instant dislike to Cairo—the climate is humid, rats and mosquitos spread disease, and the games in the town are rigged when the inhabitants don’t simply rob the soldiers. Worst of all, periodic flooding turns the town’s streets and the soldiers’ bivouacs into seas of mud. The horrible conditions do have one beneficial effect—they encourage the troops to train hard for an invasion of the South ... anything to get anywhere but there!

Almost daily there are actions on the waters framing the Confederacy. Captures, recaptures, failures are common on both sides.
September 2, Monday

President Lincoln asks Major General Fremont to “modify” his proclamation of August 30 which had ordained freedom for slaves of rebellious owners, threatened the death penalty for certain secessionists and confiscated their property. Lincoln feels that the proclamation “will alarm our Southern Union friends, and turn them against us—perhaps ruin our rather fair prospect for Kentucky.” Lincoln is gently attempting to restore the prerogatives of the civilian government which has been preempted by Fremont. Kentucky is foremost in Lincoln’s mind these days, and even though the new pro-Union legislature this day orders the Stars and Stripes raised above the State house at Frankfort, he realizes that the situation remains precarious.

Major General Leonidas Polk, commanding Confederates along the Mississippi River and in Tennessee, is also given control over Arkansas and Missouri.

The fighting picks up in western Virginia with skirmishing at Hawk’s Nest, Worthington, and Beller’s Mill near Harper’s Ferry. There is action at Dry Wood Creek, toward Columbia and Iberia, and at Dallas, Missouri.
September 3, Tuesday

Confederate forces under Gideon Pillow on orders of General Leonidas Polk enter Kentucky from Tennessee en route to Hickman and Columbus on the Mississippi River. This action ends the “neutrality” of Kentucky and creates one continuous front from the Atlantic Ocean to Kansas and the frontier. Polk fears that if he does not move, the Federals themselves will seize Columbus, as there has been light action in the Belmont, Missouri, area across the river and erroneous reports of a Federal buildup. In fact, Fremont has indicated to General Grant that he intends to enter Kentucky.

The Confederate action has many repercussions. At first Polk is ordered by the Secretary of War to withdraw, but President Davis overrules the pullback. The move buttresses pro-Union feeling which has been increasing in many sections, and opens an all-out contest for military control of Kentucky. On the other hand, secessionists in the state rejoice that the issue is now clarified.
September 4, Wednesday

There is light shooting between Federal gunboats and shore batteries at Hickman and Columbus, Kentucky, as the Confederates begin strengthening their strategically important position on the bluffs of the Mississippi at Columbus.

General U.S. Grant arrives at Cairo, Illinois, where he establishes his headquarters and faces the problem of a fast-changing military situation.

There are skirmishes at Great Falls, Maryland, and Shelbina, Missouri.

General Polk at Columbus, Kentucky, proclaims that the Federal government had disregarded the neutrality of Kentucky by establishing camps and depots for armies, by organizing troops, and by an alleged build-up in Missouri “evidently intended to cover the landing of troops for the seizure” of Columbus.
September 5, Thursday

In Washington President Lincoln meets with General Scott to discuss the military situation in the West and the future of General Fremont.

At Cairo Grant learns of the Confederate invasion of Kentucky. He immediately sees the importance of Paducah, located at the juncture of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers and near the mouth of the Cumberland. To counteract the Confederate occupation of Columbus, Grant prepares an expedition to leave that night for Paducah.

In addition there is a skirmish at Papinsville, Missouri.

The Charleston Mercury cries out against what it calls the “masterly inactivity” of the Confederate army in Virginia, which it said has been stationary for six weeks with the capital at Washington nearly in sight. The paper calls for an offensive to force the United States “to defend themselves.”
The Charleston Mercury cries out against what it calls the “masterly inactivity” of the Confederate army in Virginia, which it said has been stationary for six weeks with the capital at Washington nearly in sight. The paper calls for an offensive to force the United States “to defend themselves.”

Journalists always think that war is easier than it actually is. If only Jefferson Davis had appointed the editor of the Charleston Mercury as commander of the Confederate forces instead of General Lee, then the South could have won the War! Lol. :lol:
Potemkin wrote:Journalists always think that war is easier than it actually is. If only Jefferson Davis had appointed the editor of the Charleston Mercury as commander of the Confederate forces instead of General Lee, then the South could have won the War! Lol. :lol:

“On to Richmond!” (Uncountable number of Northern newspapers, June 1861)

And then when the battle was lost, suddenly a some of them start talking about an amicable separation....
Doug64 wrote:“On to Richmond!” (Uncountable number of Northern newspapers, June 1861)

And then when the battle was lost, suddenly a some of them start talking about an amicable separation....

Precisely. A lot of people seem to become giddy whenever things are going well, only to instantly flip over into defeatism as soon as one battle is lost. The Bolsheviks had the same problem with their 'ultra-leftists' just after the Revolution. For example, after their initial successes against the Poles, Bukharin wanted Lenin to invade Germany, but as soon as the Bolsheviks lost a battle at Warsaw, he immediately advised Lenin to sign a humiliating peace treaty and surrender almost all of their hard-won positions. Lenin excoriated such people for their "infantile disorder". Wars are won, in general, by a stubborn, relentless refusal to give up when things get tough and - just as importantly - by a refusal to get carried away with giddy euphoria just because you've won a single small skirmish. Lenin knew this, and Lincoln knew it.
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