April 10, Thursday
President Lincoln approves the joint resolution of Congress calling for gradual emancipation of the slaves by the states.
For several weeks Brigadier General Quincy Adams Gillmore has been preparing the Federal attack on Fort Pulaski on Cockspur Island near the entrance to the harbor of Savannah, Georgia. Gillmore’s men have erected heavy batteries on Tybee Island, across the Savannah River facing the fort. The sturdily built work is garrisoned by 385 men under Colonel Charles H. Olmstead and holds 48 guns. It is feared that ordinary smoothbore shot and shell can never penetrate the brick walls from the distance they have to be placed, and so for the first time against such fortifications rifled guns with long range and penetrating shells are brought into play. On this cool, clear morning the Federal bombardment from Tybee Island begins. Fire from both sides increases rapidly, with many scars appearing on the outer walls of the fort. In the afternoon the bombardment slackens, but several guns in the fort have been dismounted and the walls badly dented.
On the Peninsula, predictably, General McClellan’s long delay gives the Confederates time to fulfill his fears and send reinforcements. For a while Richmond had delayed in sending troops because McClellan’s objective had not yet become obvious; his target might have been Norfolk, for example. Even after McClellan’s plans appeared clear, Johnston has been reluctant to furnish troops from his army, which by now is encamped south of the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers, 50 miles northwest of Richmond. Johnston considers the Peninsula fortifications indefensible—easy prey for McClellan’s big guns and susceptible to a flanking move up the York River. Instead of sharing his strength with General Magruder, he prefers to concentrate all the available Confederate forces in front of Richmond and there fend off and destroy McClellan’s invaders. Jefferson Davis has undertaken to convince Johnston to reinforce the Peninsula, with the help of General Robert E. Lee. Lee’s patience and tact have made him the perfect intermediary between the thin-skinned Johnston and the prickly President. In direct opposition to Johnston, Lee believes that the narrow Peninsula affords great advantages for an outnumbered defensive force. And yet Lee has dealt so diplomatically with Johnston that he has been able to impose his strategy without serious discord. Today Johnston begins gradually shifting units from his army to the Peninsula.
Elsewhere there is a skirmish near Fernandina, another episode in the “small war” that plagues Florida.
For the Federals, Major General Samuel R. Curtis assumes command of the District of Kansas.
President Davis wires governors of Confederate states, “Genl. Beauregard must have reinforcements to meet the vast accumulation of the enemy before him.”
Police break up a counterfeiting ring in St. Louis.
April 11, Friday
Federal guns from Tybee Island roar forth again in the morning against wounded Fort Pulaski on the Savannah River near the major Confederate port of Savannah, Georgia. Soon Pulaski’s fire slackens as the rifled guns and heavy artillery of the Federals, well protected, silence more of the fort’s guns and blast two visible holes through the brick walls. Youthful Confederate commander Colonel Charles H. Olmstead makes his decision and in midafternoon surrenders. Over five thousand shot and shell have been fired against the fort, with only one Federal killed. For the Confederates, the fort is a wreck, but only one man died, although others have been wounded. The fall of Fort Pulaski successfully blocks the main channel to Savannah and greatly strengthens the effectiveness of the never-ceasing Federal blockade. Once more, as it has so often this spring, the Confederacy reels from another blow.
General Mitchel takes Hunstville, Alabama, completely by surprise, seizing 200 prisoners, 15 locomotives, and a large number of cars. Then he uses his captured rolling stock to occupy key positions along 70 miles of the railroad in both directions, west to Decatur and east to Stevenson, just 35 miles from Chattanooga. Never one to understate his accomplishments, Mitchel reports to Buell’s headquarters, “We have at length succeeded in cutting the great artery of railroad intercommunication between the Southern States.”
And there is yet more. Troops of Brigadier General Ormsby Mitchel occupies Huntsville, Alabama, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, not far from Chattanooga, albeit his forces are small in number. Still they are threatening.
There is a skirmish at Wartrace, Tennessee, and at another Shiloh, this time in Missouri. At the siege of Yorktown on the Peninsula there is further light skirmishing.
At Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, Major General Henry W. Halleck, Federal commander in the West, arrives to take charge of the troops. Alarmed by the near-defeat, Halleck removes Grant from field command and appoints him to a new, meaningless post, second in command of the armies in the West. In fact, there is nothing for Grant to do. Humiliated, he thinks about leaving the Army again. One day Sherman will visit to find him packing to leave, and with some effort convinces Grant to stay in the Army.
Meanwhile, orders are out to concentrate the Federal army. Already Grant and Buell are there, and Pope soon will be. From the build-up it is clear the Federals intend to move against Corinth and the deep South. Confederate governors are trying to respond to Davis’s call for troops for defense of Mississippi.
Once more the redoubtable Virginia is out. From Norfolk, Virginia, the Confederate ironclad steams into Hampton Roads with accompanying gunboats. There is uproar and consternation among the Federal transports, supply vessels, and fleet, with “tugs whistling and screaming about.” Northern ships scurry out of harm’s way. Nearby, Monitor, steam up, awaits the attack. The Confederates manage to capture three merchant ships, but there is no fight. The Southern commander will indicate he awaited combat with Monitor, but she did not come out.
The Federal House of Representatives by a vote of 93 to 39 passes a measure abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia.
To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.