Sunday, January 31, 2010

Worth A Mint

The United States mint in New Orleans was taken over January 31st 1861 by the state of Louisiana.

The United States, New Orleans Mint in Louisiana operated from 1838 to 1861 and from 1879 to 1909. It produced over 427 million coins during that time. The Mint had operated continuously from 1838 until the state of Louisiana seceded from the United States on January 26th 1861. When Louisiana reconvened the secession convention on January 26 1861 it was decided to allow Federal employees at the Mint to remain at their post, but they would have to work for the state of Louisiana. The Mint was used for a short time to make Confederate coins, the silver O-half dollar. After this the Mint was used to quarter Confederate troops, until it was recaptured the following year along with the rest of New Orleans, by the Union navy under command of Admiral David G Farragut.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

An All Black Play

William Wells Brown published the first black drama, “Leap of Freedom” on January 30th 1858.

William Wells Brown was born November 6th 1816 in Lexington Kentucky, a slave. His mother was Elizabeth and she was owned by a Dr Young, his father was a white cousin of Dr Young. Brown spent most of his early years in St Louis, Missouri, where he was hired out to work on the Missouri River. He escaped on New Year’s Day 1834, slipping away from a steamboat while it was docked in Cincinnati, Ohio. Brown settled in Buffalo, New York were he found work on a Lake Erie steamboat.

The Anti Slavery Society asked Brown in 1843 to come lecture, and he soon became a well known public speaker. He wrote and published a great deal, including the play “The Escape; or a Leap for Freedom” published January 30th 1858. It was the first all black drama ever published. Brown died at his home in Chelsea, Massachusetts November 6th 1884.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bleeding Kansas

Kansas entered the Union on January 29th 1861 as a free state.

Kansas was obtained by the United States from France, as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It’s name comes from the Kansa Indian tribe which lived in the area. During the early years it was used by the United States government as a place to relocate Indians. The Kansas - Nebraska Act of 1854 gave Kansas residents the right to decide if the their state would be a free or slave state. Slavery proponents and abolitionists both sent settlers to the territory trying to swing the vote in their favor. This differences in ideology led to violence known as “Bleeding Kansas“. The abolitionist prevailed and on January 29th 1861 Kansas became the 24th state. Becoming a state didn't end the violence; on August 21st 1863 the raid by Confederate sympathizers on Lawrence Kansas resulted in a civilian massacres. Following the Civil War Kansas’ population exploded as immigrants and ex-soldiers flooded to the good agricultural land.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Gag Rule

House Rule 21, also known as the Gag Rule, prohibited abolition petitions from being read on the floor of the House, passed on January 28th 1840.

The House of Representatives adopted a series of rules between 1836 and 1844 banning petitions for the abolition of slavery. Known as the gag rules, they prevented antislavery petitions from having to be read according to usual House procedures. House rules had been that during the first thirty days of each session of Congress was for reading of petitions from the people. Each petition would be read aloud, printed and assigned to committee. Slave owning southern Representatives had no attentions of abolishing slavery and were incensed by the antislavery petitions.

The House of Representatives passed the 21st Rule; January 27th 1840, it banned even the acceptance of antislavery petitions. The Rule passed by the slim vote of 114 to 108, being opposed by Northern Democrats and Whigs. The Rule would stand until December 3rd 1844 when all the Northern Whigs, along with three quarters of the Northern Democrats and four Southern Whigs voted to repeal the Gag Rule.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Man Had A Temper

A Democratic Congressman from South Carolina, Preston Smith Brooks died January 27th 1857.

Preston Smith Brooks was born August 5th 1819 in Roseland, Edgefield, South Carolina. He was the son of Whitfield and Mary Parsons [Carroll] Brooks. He attended South Carolina College [now known as the University of South Carolina]. He may or may not have graduated in 1839, if he didn’t it was do to some issues of threatening with a firearm. Brooks became a lawyer in 1845, and served with the Palmetto Regiment during the Mexican American War.

He had a duel with Louis T Wigfall and was shot in the hip which caused him need to use a cane. Brooks became a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1844. In 1853 he was elected to the United States Congress. It was while serving in Congress that Brooks beat United States Senator Charles Sumner an anti-slavery advocate, in the United States Senate chambers with his walking cane. The beating was caused by a speech given by Sumner a few day before in which Sumner had spoke against a member of Brooks’ family. Brooks is quoted as saying "Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." Sumner started to stand up and Brooks him in the head with his cane, which had a gold head. Sumner couldn’t get away as he was trapped by his desk which was bolted to the floor. Brooks continued to beat Sumner until his cane broke and Sumner was unconscious.

Brooks survived a vote to remove him from his House seat, but he resigned anyway. His constituent returned him the Congress thinking him a hero. Brooks stayed in the office until he died January 27th 1857 in Washington DC from the croup. He is buried in Willow Brook cemetery in Edgefield, South Carolina.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Magnolia On White

Mississippi adopted a state flag in January 26th 1861.

Mississippi seceded from the United States on January 9th 1861. At the time there still wasn't a Confederate States of America, so Mississippi like it’s neighbors stood alone. Following the secession Mississippi began using the flag which had flown over the Republic of Florida in 1810. The flag was blue with a single star, and is known popular as the “Bonnie Blue Flag”.

After several weeks the Mississippi secession convention chose a new flag for the Sovereign Republic Mississippi on January 26th 1861. The flag is known as “The Magnolia Flag”. It has a magnolia tree on a white field with a red fringe on the fly, and the Bonnie Blue included on the canton. Although Mississippi used the Confederate flags through out the war, “The Magnolia Flag” was the official state flag for 33 years until 1894 when the present flag was adopted.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Out Numbered But Not Out Fought

The Battle of Athens fought January 26th 1864 in Athens, Limestone, Alabama.

A Union forces under Captain Emil Adams, who was part of the 9th Illinois Mounted Infantry, and the Confederate 1st Alabama Cavalry under Lieutenant Colonel Moses W Hannon met at Athens, Alabama. At about 4 am on January 26th 1864 Confederate cavalrymen; numbering about 600, attacked Athens. Athens was being held by a Union force of about 100. Even though the Union defenders were outnumbered six to one and didn't have any fortification, they were able to hold off the Confederates. After a two hour battle the Confederates were obliged to retreat.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It Was Just A Sawmill

James Marshall found some flakes of gold at a place called Sutter’s mill on January 24th 1848 and transformed California.

Pioneer John Sutter owned a sawmill on the south fork of the American River in Coloma, California. It was at this spot while building the mill, that Sutter’s employee James W Marshall found some chips of gold on January 24th 1848. They tried to keep the gold a secret, but of course the word got out. Over the course of the next seven years about 300,000 people went to California hoping to make their fortunes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Linking The Atlantic And Pacific

The first suspension  bridge built over the Mississippi River opened on January 23rd 1855.

The Father Louis Hennepin Bridge crosses the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota at Nicollet Island. The bridge was named after a 17th century explorer Louis Hennepin who found the Saint Anthony Falls just downriver. The bridge which opened on January 23rd 1855 was a toll bridge and is believed to be first permanent suspension bridge to cross the Mississippi River anywhere on its course. It was 620 feet long by 17 feet wide with a stone base. The bridge was declared to be the “Gateway to the West”, linking the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An Old Bible

President Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural bible was used again on January 20th 2009 for Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Barack Obama was sworn into the office of United States President on January 20th 2009 using the same bible as was used by Abraham Lincoln for his inauguration. The bible which is in the possession of the Library of Congress, is rarely placed on exhibited. It is a velvet covered bible with gilded edges that was purchased by the clerk of the United States Supreme Court, William Thomas Carroll. The bible that belong to the Lincoln family wasn't available for Lincoln’s ceremony as it was still with the families other belongs on there way to Washington, DC from Springfield, Illinois.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pushing Confederates Out Of Kentucky

The Battle of Mill Springs, near Nancy Kentucky was fought on January 19th 1862, it was the second largest battle fought in Kentucky.

Confederate Brigadier General Felix K Zollicoffer had advanced into Kentucky and set a strong defensive position at Mill Springs. He made this his winter camp, fortifying both sides of the Cumberland River. Union Brigadier General George Henry Thomas was ordered to push the Confederates out of the area. Knowing that the Union troops were in the area, the Confederates decided to go on the defencive and attack.

At dawn on January 19th 1862 the Confederates attacked Thomas’s Union soldiers at Logan’s Crossroads. However the Union force had received reinforcements, causing the Rebel troops to have to retreat. During the resistance Zollicoffer was killed. The Confederates tried again, but a counterattack by the Union troops on the left and right flanks of the Confederate soldiers brook them. The Confederates retreated to Murfreesboro Tennessee, ending their hold in Kentucky

Sunday, January 17, 2010

From Harvard, To War, To President

The nineteenth United States president Rutherford B Hayes died January 17th 1893.

Rutherford B Hayes was the son of Rutherford and Sophia [Birchard] Hayes and was born October 4th 1822 in Delaware Ohio. His father passed away two months before his birth, and so he was raised by an uncle. Hayes attended schools in Ohio and Connecticut and graduated valedictorian of his class from Kenyon College. He went on to get a law degree in 1845 from Harvard Law School. He became a successful lawyer practicing in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hayes' opposition to slavery brought him into the Republican Party.

He volunteered his services at the start of the Civil War to the state of Ohio, and was appointed to the rank of Major in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was wounded in the Battle of South Mountain on September 14th 1862. In 1864 Hayes was elected to Congress, but was still serving in the army and didn't take his seat until after the Union won the war.

In 1867 Hayes was elected Governor of Ohio. In 1876 he was elected President of United States. He brought about many progressive changes in the government including allowing women attorneys to argue before the Supreme Court. Hayes honored a commitment not to take a second term, and retired to his home in Fremont, Ohio. From here he worked for Civil War veterans, helping them get their pensions. He died at his home in Ohio at the age of seventy on January 17th 1893.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Connecticut

A convention of town representatives, in what would become Vermont, declared independence on January 15th 1777, and named themselves the Republic of New Connecticut.

Following tousles between the land holders of the New Hampshire and the New York Grants, and what could only be called the guerrilla war fare of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, the leaders of the “Grants” held a convention. On January 15th 1777 representatives from the towns of the region met in the town of Westminster and declared themselves an independent republic. They choose to call themselves the Republic of New Connecticut. The written constitution of this new Republic was the first constitution, in what would become the United States, to ban slavery.

In July of 1777 the name of the republic was changed to Vermont. It would become the 14th State in 1791 when it was added to balance to admittance of the slave holding state of Kentucky.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Career Officer

Major General Frederick Steele a career United States Army officer was born January 14th 1819.

Frederick Steele was born January 14th 1819 in Delhi, New York. He attended West Point and graduated in 1843, ranking 30th out of 39 in the class. While serving in the Mexican American War he was promoted to First Lieutenant. He served after the war in California and in the Minnesota, Kansas and Nebraska Territories.

With the beginning of the Civil War Steele was assigned to the 11th Untied States Infantry as a Major and fought in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. He continued to be promoted and by November 29th 1862 was a Major General in command of the 11th Division in the XIII Corps of the Army of Tennessee. Steele’s division would take part in Major General William Tecumseh Sherman’s siege on Vicksburg. In July of 1863 he placed in command of the Army of Arkansas where they successfully took the Confederate controlled Little Rock Arkansas.

Following the end of the war Steele was sent to Texas, where he took up command on the Rio Grande. He served there as a part of the Department of the Columbia until November 1867 when he left for health issues. Steele died two months latter January 12th 1868 in San Mateo, California from a fall from a carriage that was the result of an apoplexy attack .

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Adding California

The Treaty of Cahuenga, which brought the end of the Mexican American war in California was approved on January 13th 1847.

The Treaty of Cahuenga was signed by United States Lieutenant Colonel John C Fremont and Californian General Andres Pico on January 13th 1847. They use the kitchen table in the adobe home of Tomas Feliz in what is now North Hollywood California.. It was written in both Spanish and English by Jose Antonio Carrillo.

The Treaty called for all prisoners from both sides be freed, that Californios give up their weapons, and promise never again to take up arms against the United States. For this promise they could return peaceably to their homes and were given all the right of citizens of the Unite States. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo a year latter in 1848 formally added California to the United States.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

He Stayed With His State

Jones Mitchell Withers a United States Army officer in the Mexican American war and a general for the Confederate army during the Civil War was born January 12th 1814.

Jones Mitchell Withers was born in Huntsville, Alabama January 12th 1814 the son of John Wright and Mary Herbert [Jones] Withers. Withers got his early education at the Greene Academy in Huntsville before attending West Point Military Academy. He graduated 1835, 44th out a class of 56. He took a posting at Fort Leavenworth Kansas as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st United States Dragoons.

Withers resigned shortly after and returned to Alabama to practice law, and sell cotton. At the start of the Mexican American war Withers was appointed Lieutenant Colonel and assigned to the 13th United States Infantry. After the war he returned to Alabama where he entered politics serving in the Alabama State Legislature, and then in 1855 with United States House of Representatives.

At the beginning of the Civil War Withers stayed with Alabama and entered the Confederate Army as a Colonel in the 3rd Alabama Infantry. He fought at the Battle of Shiloh and was promoted to Major General. He was leading the 2nd Division of the Army of Tennessee, where they fought with distinction at the Battle of Stones River. He surrendered his troops May 11th 1865 at Meridian Mississippi.

Following the end of the war Withers received a pardon from the Federal Government, and he returned to practicing law. He sold cotton and worked as the editor of the Tribune in Mobile. Withers died in Mobile Alabama March 13th 1890 and is buried in the Magnolia Cemetery.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Clearing Kentucky Out

In southwestern Kentucky on January 10th 1862 the Battle of Middle Creek was fought, setting up the Union army for its invasion of middle Tennessee.

Confederate Brigadier General Humphrey Marshall was moving into southeast Kentucky recruiting volunteers, setting up a headquarters in Paintsville Kentucky. By early January 1862 he had raised more than two thousand men, but had only been able to equip part of them. Union Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell, ordered Colonel James A Garfield to push Marshall back into Virginia. Garfield; the future President, took the 18th Brigade and marched south pushing the Confederates to retreat to Prestonsburg Kentucky. The Union continued south, but were slowed by the numerous swamps and streams, arriving near Marshall’s camp on January 9th. In the morning of January 10th 1862 Garfield’s troops march out at 4am to the mouth of Middle Creek, where they fought off some Confederate cavalry.

Marshall put his men in line southwest of the creek near its forks. The Union attacked just before noon, and the fighting continued through the afternoon. The Confederates retreated south, and finally Marshall was ordered back to Virginia on January 24th.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Largest Slave Revolt

The slave revolt know as the 1811 German Coast Uprising began on January 8th 1811 on the east coast of the Mississippi River in Louisiana.

On January 8th 1811 somewhere between 64 and 125 slaves left the sugar plantation owned by Manuel Andre, along the German Coast and marched toward the city of New Orleans. More joined them as they traveled reaching numbers as high as 500. Over the course of two days they traveled twenty miles, killed two men including Andre’s son Gilbert, burned five plantations, sugarhouses and crops. The slaves were armed with hand tools.

Territory militia companies were formed by General Wade Hampton, and Governor William CC Claiborne to hunt for the revolting slaves. Over the next two weeks officials captured 44 fugitive slaves, interrogated and executed them [there were another 95 to 100 killed]. The heads of many of the slaves having been decapitated were placed on pikes and displayed as a warning to others. The Orleans Territory voted to give the slave owners $300 in payment for the lose of each slave killed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

First Indiana Resident To Hold A Cabinet Position

Caleb Blood Smith a member of Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet died January 7th 1864.

Caleb Blood Smith was born April 16th 1808 in Boston Massachusetts. His parents moved the family to Ohio in 1815. Smith attended Cincinnati and Miami University, and than studied law, being admitted to the bar in 1828. He started the paper “The Sentinel” in 1832. After serving several terms in the Indiana Legislature, Smith was elected to the US Congress in 1843-1849 as a member of the Whig party. President Zachary Taylor appointed him to investigate claims made by Americans against Mexico. Smith returned in 1850 to Cincinnati and the practice of law.

President Abraham Lincoln appointed Smith in 1861 to be the United States Secretary of the Interior. Smith was the first resident of Indiana to hold a Presidential Cabinet position. However due to health issues, Smith let most the responsibilities of his jobs fall to his Assistant Secretary John Palmer Usher. In 1862 Smith temporarily filled the empty sear on the Supreme Court, left vacant by John Archibald Campbell, however Lincoln nominated David Davis to fill the position. Smith resigned in December 1862 do to differences in political oppion, and went back to Indiana where he served as a United States circuit judge.

Smith died January 7th 1864 in Indianapolis Indiana. He is believed to have been buried in the City Cemetery in Connersville Indiana. For two days after his death government building were draped in black by order of the President.

Monday, January 4, 2010

One Battle As General

Roger Weightman Hanson the commander of the Orphan Brigade was wounded at the Battle of Murfreesboro and died January 4th 1863.

Roger Weightman Hanson was born in Clark County Kentucky August 27th 1827, the son of Samuel and Matilda [Calloway] Hanson. When he was 18 Hanson was elected Lieutenant of a volunteer company serving in the Mexican American War, where he received a citation for bravery at the Battle of Cerro Gordo. After returning from the war he study law in Lexington Kentucky, before traveling to California. Hanson returned to Kentucky and married in 1853 to Virginia Peters.

Hanson established a law practice in Lexington, and entered politics. When the Civil War started Kentucky stayed in the Union. Hanson raised a regiment of Confederate troops in Lexington and was named their Colonel. Hanson’s 2nd Kentucky Infantry were taken prisoner when Fort Donelson fell. After being exchanged he was promoted to Brigadier General and placed in command of his old unit along with the 4th, 6th, and 19th Kentucky Infantries, the 41st Alabama and Cobb’s Battery. The Battle of Murfreesboro was his first as a general. Hanson was wounded on January 2nd 1863, struck above the knee by an artillery shell. He died two days latter at the age of 35 on January 4th 1863. He is buried in Lexington Cemetery in Lexington Kentucky.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Only One Soldier Was Watching

Francis Frank Bartow with the Georgia militia seized Fort Pulaski on January 3rd 1861 from a single US soldier and one contractor.

One of the first actions of the Civil War was the bloodless take over of Fort Pulaski on January 3rd 1861. The Georgia Militia took the fort from two men who watching it. The fort was built after learning in the War of 1812 that America’s ports were easy targets. Fort Pulaski built on the mouth of the Savannah River in 1829, with one of its engineers being a than Second Lieutenant Robert E Lee. The fort would contain twenty-five million bricks.

You might also be interested in this web site
New Georgia Encyclopedia; Francis S. Bartow (1816-1861)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

From A Family Of Service

Francis Fessenden a lawyer and politician from Maine, who was a General in the Civil
War died January 2nd 1906.

Francis Fessenden was born in Portland Maine March 18th 1839, the son of US Senator William P Fessenden. He attended school at Bowdoin College and study law at Harvard Law School, before joining his father’s practice.

With the beginning of the Civil War Fessenden received a commission of Captain in 19th US Infantry. He was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh, and when he returned to duty was made the Colonel of the 25th Maine Infantry. In September of 1863 he was place in charge of the 30th Maine Veteran Infantry. Promoted to Brigadier General in 1864 he saw action in the Red River Campaign. At Monet’s Ferry he was shot in the leg and had to have it amputated. He spent the rest of the war on administrative duty.

When the war ended Fessenden served on the military commission for war crimes, including the trial of Henry Wirz. He spent 1866 working for the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. Fessenden retired from the Regular Army November 1st 1866. He returned home to Portland Maine, where he was elected city mayor in 1876. Fessenden died January 2nd 1906 in Portland Maine and is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery there.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Taking Galveston Back

The Second Battle of Galveston on January 1st 1863 was a land and naval fight between Confederates and the occupying Union troops in Galveston Texas.

Confederate Major General John B Magruder attacked the Union forces occupying the city of Galveston Texas. The Union forces were made up of three companies of the 42nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and seven ships in the bay. Facing these Union troops and the supporting naval gunfire the Confederates soldiers on land were to retreat after their dawn attack. Shortly after Confederate gunboats covered with bails of cotton, the Bayou City and the Neptune arrived.

Tarrable out numbered “The Bayou City” captured the USS Harriet Lane. Also at this time the USS Westfield was ran aground on a sandbar. Instead of allowing her to fall into Confederate hands Union Fleet Commander William B Renshaw tried to have the “Harriet Lane” destroyed with explosives. Renshaw and thirteen Union soldiers were killed when the explosives went off early. Union troops on shore in Galveston thought their ships had surrender and gave up.

The remaining Union ships managed to escape and retreat to New Orleans. The Union blockade of Galveston was lifted for four days. The city of Galveston was under Confederate controlled for the rest of the war. There were 26 Confederate killed and 117 wounded. The Union side lost about twice as many.

A must check out web site about this topic
Galveston Historical Society, Battle of Galveston