Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Creation Of Banks

The National Bank Act was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln on February 25th 1863.

The National Bank Act created a system for chartering banks, and encouraging a national currency. This Act also established the Federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as a branch of the Department of the Treasury. The idea behind the Act was to raise money to fund the Union Army’s fight against the Confederacy by getting banks to buy Federal Bond and taxing the State issued bonds. The act just passed on a Senate vote of 23 to 21.

Another banking act was passed in 1865 that imposed a tax on the money issued from State banks. This tax effectively did away with all non-federal money and increased National Banks to 1,644 by 1866.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lion of Little Round Top

He was known as the Lion of Little Round Top. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain died February 23, 1914.

Joshua Chamberlain was born September 8, 1828, in Brewer, Maine. The oldest of five children born to Joshua and Sarah (Dupee) Chamberlain. He attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where he met his future wife Fannie Adams. After graduating in 1852 he studied at the Bangor Theological Seminary. Three years latter Chamberlain excepted a job at his old college, married and settled into a normal life.

In 1861 when the southern states began to succeed Chamberlain; who felt strongly about the Union cause, volunteered his services to the state. Although he had no military experience he was given the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the 20th Maine Infantry. The 20th was part of the “Light Brigade” of the 5th Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Although perhaps best known for the Bayonet charge on Little Round Top on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Chamberlain and the 20th saw action at many crucial battles, Fredericksburg, Wilderness, Cold Harbor, etc. He was seriously wounded during an assault outside of Petersburg, Virginia. The surgeon at the field hospital pronounced Chamberlain’s wound to be mortal. General Ulysses S Grant had him promoted to Brigadier General two days latter. Joshua recovered and rejoined the army in April of 65, where he led his troop during the Battle of Five Forks which ended the hold of the Confederates on Petersburg. General Joshua Chamberlain accepted the formal surrender of arms of the Army of Northern Virginia on April 12, 1865 at Appomattox Court House.

After the war Chamberlain returned to his home in Maine. He was elected to Governor of the State of Maine in 1866. In 1871 he became the President of Bowdoin College, however in 1883 he resigned do to health reasons related to old war wounds. He spent a great deal of time in writing and helping other veterans. Chamberlain was honored by Congress in 1893 with the Congressional Medal of Honor, for his service at Gettysburg. From 1900 until his death on February 24, 1914 he was the Surveyor of the Port of Maine in Portland, Maine. He is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery in Brunswick, Maine.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sneaking Into Town

At six am on February 23 1861 Abraham Lincoln along with his friend Ward H Lamon and Allan Pinkerton arrived by train in Washington DC. Before this leg, Lincoln’s journey east had been very public, filled with parades, rallies and speeches. However do to concerns about his safety, and rumors of a plot to kill him when he traveled through Baltimore MD, this last train ride was made in secrecy.

After reluctantly agreeing, Lincoln and his traveling companions left Harrisburg PA after dinner on the 22nd, on a special train to Philadelphia PA. From Philadelphia they connected with a late train which arrived in Baltimore MD about four in the morning. From the there they switched trains for the one into Washington, where they were met by Illinois Representative Elihu Washburne, who took them to the Willard Hotel. Lincoln’s enemies as well as many of his supporters ridiculed his sneaking into Washington. Lincoln himself came to regret the move, feeling it wasn’t a commendable action for the leader of the republic.

Some other reading you might be interested in
History And Evidence Of The Passage Of Abraham Lincoln From Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, To Washington, D.C., On February 22-23, 1861

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Birth Of A Party

The newly formed Republican Party met for the first time nationally on February 22, 1856 in Pittsburgh, PA, to begin forming plans to oppose the Democrats’.

The Republican Party was formed by individuals who believed that the Federal government should not have passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and by those who wished to see a modernization of the United States, highlighting education, industry and free homesteads in the West for farmers. The first informal meeting took place in the small town of Ripon, WI, with a second meeting official meeting held in Jackson, MI. In 1854 at the state convention in Michigan the new party named “Republicans”, adopted a platform and nominated candidates for offices. In 1856 the Republicans nominated John C Fremont for President with the slogan, "Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont." Fremont made a strong showing getting thirty-three percent of the vote, four years later Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican in the White House.

Further reading you might be interested in
The Life And Speeches Of Thomas Williams V1: Orator, Statesman And Jurist 1806-1872, A Founder Of The Whig And Republican Parties

The Republican party and its leaders;: A history of the party from its beginning to the present time

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Confederate Victory In The West

An early Confederate success, was in the New Mexico campaign on February 21, 1862 during the Battle of Val Verde. The Confederates under Brigadier General Henry H Sibley hoped to take Fort Craig, capturing supplies and doing away with the Union garrison stationed there.

Sibley’s brigade of about 2,500 were within 15 miles of the Fort on the evening of February 13. He judged the it to be to strong to take by frontal attack, so he had his troops deploy with hopes of getting the Union soldiers out in the open. However Colonel E R S Canby didn’t have much faith in his volunteer Union troops, and refused to be lured out into the open. Seeing that his tack wasn’t working General Sibley moved his men near Val Verde, north of Fort Craig, to cut off the Federals communications between to Fort and Santa Fe.

On the morning of February 21, 1862 four companies of the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles under Major Charles Pyron, along with the 4th Texas Mounted Rifles went ahead as an advanced scouting party. Union scouts informed Colonel Canby of the movements of the Rebels. He sent the 5th New Mexico Infantry under Colonel Benjamin S Roberts out to secure the ford on the Rio Grande. The two armies met on opposite sides of the river. The guns the of the Confederates were mostly short range and wouldn’t reach the Union soldiers. In the late afternoon the Confederates attacked at the Union center taking six artillery pieces and breaking the Union line. Canby ordered a retreat back into the Fort.

As the Confederates held the battle field they claimed the victory. General Sibley still felt that the fort was to strong, and so abandoned it and moved on towards Albuquerque and Santa Fe in search of supplies. The Confederates lost 230 men and 475 Union men were killed or wounded.

Some really good extra reading
Battle of Val Verde

Bloody Valverde: A Civil War Battle on the Rio Grande, February 21, 1862

The Guns of Valverde (Civil War in the Far West)

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Poor Boy

It was a devastating day in the Lincoln White House. On February 20th 1862, the beloved son of President and Mrs. Lincoln; Willie, passed away.

William Wallace “Willie” Lincoln was the third son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln. He was born December 21st 1850, about ten months after the death of his brother Eddie, and was named after the doctor who had nursed Eddie in his last days. Lincoln had an extra soft spot when it came to Willie, who was considered by those who knew him to be intelligent, generous and mature for his age. The American people weren’t used to having children in the White House, and the boys were showered with gifts, including a pony to which Willie was committed.

Willie became ill in early 1862, must likely from typhoid fever. His condition went up a down from day to day, but he gradually became sicker. With his parents spending much of thier time by his bed side, he died about 5pm on Thursday February 20, 1862. He was eleven. His father said "My poor boy. He was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so. It is hard, hard to have him die!" The family was distraught. Willie’s little brother Tad cried for almost of month, Lincoln stopped official correspondence for four days, and he worried that Mary’s grief was effecting her sanity.

Willie was buried first in Georgetown’s Oak Hill Cemetery, but after his father was assassinated, his casket was exhumed and placed in a temporary tomb. On September 19th 1871 his remains were placed to rest with his father and brother Eddie in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, IL.

Some other reading
Abraham Lincoln Research Site

Willie speaks out!: The psychic world of Abraham Lincoln

Mr. Lincoln's Boys

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Train Wreck

At about three pm on the 19th of February 1863, the train the “Mississippi Southern” left the depot in Meridian, MS. The train was loaded with Confederate soldiers headed to the Battle of Vicksburg. As the train crossed a bridge over the Chunky River near the town of Hickory, MS, the train wrecked. [Please note this not an image of the Chunky River wreck] Forty plus passengers of the one hundred on the train where killed do to the speed of the impact and being trapped under the wreckage [I‘ve seen causality numbers from 40 to 93]. The CSA 1st Choctaw Battalion, under General Arnold Spann; which had been recently organized, led the rescue and recovery. Many of those rescued owed their lives to these men, who strip off their clothes and dove into the icy water. The next morning, bodies and cargo were recovered from the flooded river. Many of those who died in the tragic crash were buried on a farm a few miles from Hickory.

Other places to find information
The Chunky Creek Train Wreck of 1863

Monday, February 9, 2009

He's On Our Money

Abraham Lincoln walked about three miles on February 9th 1864 to the photography studio of Matthew B Brady, and sat for several photos. It was three days before his 55th birthday. Brady set up the shots of Lincoln, while his cameraman Anthony Berger took the portraits. Brady sold the glass negative to the government in 1872 for twenty-five thousand dollar. Of course by this time, he had sold hundreds of prints of the photos.

One of the photos taken that day would become the image we’re familiar with on the five dollar bill. Another shot taken that day of the President in profile would become the Lincoln on our pennies, as well as on the 4 cent stamp of 1965.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Opening The Tennessee River

In western Tennessee on February 6th 1862 the Battle of Fort Henry was fought.

Fort Henry was a Confederate earthen fort located on the Tennessee River. February of 1862 found the fort partly under water from the flooded river. General Ulysses S Grant began to land his troops north of the Fort, in two places, one on the east bank of the Tennessee River and the other on the higher ground on the Kentucky side of the river, on February 4th and 5th . On February 6th 1862 the Battle opened with Flag-Officer Andrew Hull Foote’s gunboats bombing the fort. Grant’s plan was to attack at the same time, however it turned out to be primarily a naval battle.

The commander of Fort Henry, General Lloyd Tilghman, knew it would be just a matter of time before the fort fell. There were only nine big guns above the water and usable. He left artillery at the fort to hold off the Union fleet, while the rest of the garrison went the ten miles to the safety of Fort Donelson. Tilgman returned to Fort Henry and surrendered to the fleet. The whole battle lasted only about 75 minutes. The fall of Fort Henry opened up the Tennessee River for shipping all the way to Muscle Shoals, AL.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Supreme Court and Slaves

Before the United State Supreme Court on February 1, 1847 is brought the case Jones v Van Zandt.

John Van Zandt was a farmer and abolitionist from Hamilton County, Ohio. On April 24th 1842,he concealed nine runway slaves from Boone County, Kentucky in his wagon. The of the slaves were owned by Wharton Jones. When slave catchers show up in Ohio, they took seven of the slaves and John Van Zandt back to Kentucky, where they were placed in jail, in Covington, Kentucky. Van Zandt was released, but charged with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. He was represented by Ohio attorney Salmon P Chase, but loosing in both the lower and appellate courts, they appeal the case to the Supreme Court. Before reaching the Supreme Court, New York Lawyer William Seward joined the case. The court under Chief Justice Roger B Taney found against Van Zandt, up holding as constitutional the Fugitive Slave Law.