Friday, May 28, 2010

Feeling Out The Lines

The Battle of Dallas, part of the Atlanta Campaign happened on May 28th 1864.

Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman learned on May 24th 1864 that his Confederate equivalent General Joseph E Johnston was forming a defensive line along the south side of Pumpkinvine Creek. Johnston’s army fell back during a series of skirmishes, first to Allatoona Pass, and then to the Dallas, Georgia area where they entrenched. Sherman’s army also entrenched while feeling out the Rebel line. The Battle of Dallas on May 28th 1864 began with Confederate Lieutenant General William J Hardee’s Corps made a probe into the Union defensive line held by Union Major General John A Logan, looking for weaknesses. Fighting occurred at several different points, with the Confederates being driven off after suffering high casualties.

Sherman vacated his position at Dallas on June 5th 1864 and moved to the railroad at Allatoona Pass, where he could get supplies and men by train. Johnston followed shortly after.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A New Flag

Confederate Secretary of Navy Stephen Russell Mallory presented the Confederate Naval flag May 26th 1863.

The Confederate Navy had thirty ships in February 1861, only fourteen of them were seaworthy. Before the end of the war this number would increased to one hundred one. Half way through the war the Secretary of the Navy of the Confederacy Stephen Russell Mallory instituted a new Naval flag on May 26th 1863. The end of the Confederate Navy came on November 6th 1865 when “The CSS Shenandoah” surrendered in Liverpool England.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Pro-Slavery Sheriff

The Sacking of Lawrence, Kansas on May 21st 1856 was led by Sheriff Samuel J Jones.

Samuel J Jones was born about 1820 in Virginia, he moved his family west in the fall of 1854. First going to Westport, Missouri [now Kansas City Missouri] which was on the border of the newly open Kansas Territory. Shortly after he settled in the area he was appointed Postmaster. Jones led a group of pro-slavery men during the first election of the Kansas’ Territorial Legislature, breaking up a ballot box at Bloomington, Kansas. He was appointed the first Sheriff of Douglas County August 27th 1855 by then acting Governor Daniel Woodson. Jones used his new job to quash the rights of Free-Stater’s in his jurisdiction.

The “Herald of Freedom” a Free-State newspaper published by George W Brown in Lawrence Kansas was a source of hatred for pro-slavery supporters. On May 21st 1856 Jones lead a party of pro-slavery men; acting as his posse, to Lawrence Kansas to destroy the office of the “Herald of Freedom” and another Free-State newspaper the “Kansas Free State”. The raid that followed known as the “Sacking of Lawrence”, destroyed the newspaper offices, burned down the Free State Hotel, and looted other Lawrence businesses.

In 1857 Jones resigned as sheriff over issues of how to incarcerate a Free-State prisoner. He moved to New Mexico where he accepted the job of Collector of Customs at Paso del Norte. He would later buy a ranch near Mesilla, where he died in 1879-80.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Freed Up Troops To Fight

The Battle of Ware Bottom Church took place on May 20th 1864.

Confederates under the command of General PGT Beauregard on May 20th 1864 attacked near Ware Bottom Church advancing on Union Major General Benjamin F Butler’s Bermuda Hundred line. After driving Butler’s pickets back, the Confederate troops formed the Howlett Line. This line for all practical purposes stopped up the Union forces at Bermuda Hundred. This move freed Beauregard to send reinforcements to General Robert E Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in time for the fighting at the Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia. The battle left about 1,500 casualties on both sides.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Passed by Congress on May 19th 1828 the Tariff of 1828 was labeled the Tariff of Abominations by southerners.

Following the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars, European blockades led English manufacturers to sell goods in America for price much less then American manufactures could sell for. So the United State passed a series of protective tariffs. Southern states felt the tariffs were unconstitutional, but the new Western and New England states favored them. A majority of New England Congressmen saw national benefits in the 1828 Tariff, as it would strengthen the countries manufacturing industry. This National benefit was stuck to even after the Democrats added in high import duties on raw wool which was essential to the New England textile industry.

Although he knew it would hurt him politically, President John Quincy Adams signed the 1828 Tariff. [The 1828 Presidential election was a land slide for Andrew Jackson.] Finding a reduced market for their goods, the British reduced the amount of cotton bought from the United States, which hurt the southern growers. John C Calhoun then the Vice-President strongly opposed the tariff and urged South Carolina to nullify the act. In November 1832 the state held a convention which overwhelmingly passed an ordinance declaring the tariff unenforceable in South Carolina. President Andrew Jackson threatened to send Federal troops into South Carolina to regain control.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The GOP Choice

United States Representative Abraham Lincoln was nominated at the National Republican Convention May 16th 1860.

At the second ever National Convention of the Republican Party held on May 16th 1860 at the Wigwam in Chicago Illinois, Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President of the United States. Senator Hannibal Hamlin of Maine was nominated for Vice President. This convention is notable as every person who was nominated would eventually become a member of Lincoln’s cabinet, including William H Seward of New York, Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, Salmon P Chase of Ohio and Edward Bates of Missouri. It took three votes before Lincoln received enough votes to get the conformation, finally happening on May 18th 1860. The final count was 364 votes out of 466 votes cast.

The Lincoln / Hamlin ticket defeated three other tickets in 1860’s election.

Another good web site with more information about this subject
Mr Lincoln and New York

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Laid To Rest

Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was laid to rest on May 15th 1863.

While reconnoitering during the battle of Chancellorsville on May 2nd 1863 Confederate General Thomas Stonewall Jackson was accidentally shot. He was shot by “friendly fire” coming from the 18th North Carolina Infantry. Hit in the arm; Jackson was taken to a field hospital on the battlefield, and his left arm was amputated. He was moved to the home of Thomas and Mary Chandler about thirty miles from the battlefield on May 4th 1863. Although Jackson’s wound was healing well, pneumonia set in and he died on May 10th 1863. His funeral was held in Lexington Virginia where his home had been while he was a Professor at Virginia Military Institute on May 15th 1863. Cadets of VMI carried his body into his old classroom where he lay state while a battery fired salutes. He was buried in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery. Jackson’s wife Mary Anna Morrison Jackson never remarried.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Last Days Of A President

Jefferson Davis’ last day as the President of the Confederacy was May 10th 1865.

With General Ulysses S Grant in place to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond Virginia, Jefferson Davis headed for Danville Virginia April 3rd 1865. Along with his Confederate Cabinet Davis issued his last proclamation as the Confederate President then got on the Richmond and Danville Railroad and went south to Greensboro North Carolina. He received Robert E Lee’s letter declaring his surrender April 12th 1865. Davis met with his Cabinet on May 5th 1865 for the last time in Washington Georgia and adjourned the Confederacy’s activities.

Davis was captured in Irwinville Georgia on May 10th 1865. As he was trying to escape he tossed on his wife Varina Davis’ overcoat over his shoulders, leading to the stories and cartoons of him trying to hide in women’s clothes. Members of the 1st Wisconsin and 4th Michigan Cavalry took him prisoner. On May 19th 1865 he was placed in prison at Fort Monroe Virginia, where he would held on charges of treason for two years. He would be released on a bail of $100,000 which was posted by people north and south, including Cornelius Vanderbilt and Horace Greeley. The prosecution of Davis’ case was dropped February 1869.

Some other reading on this subject on the web
The Capture of Jefferson Davis

Sunday, May 9, 2010

One Of Four Generals

An Officer in the United States Cavalry William Selby Harney died May 9th 1889.

William Selby Harney was born August 27th 1800 in Haysboro Davidson Tennessee. While visiting his brother Dr Benjamin F Harney who was an Army Surgeon in Baton Rouge Louisiana in 1817 met some high military officers. Harney was so impressed by these men that he worked to get a commission to Second Lieutenant through President James Monroe. He began his military carrer in the 1st Unites States Infantry under Andrew Jackson. He saw action in the Seminole and Blackhawk Wars. With an appointment to Colonel with command of the 2nd Dragoons he was a member of General Winfield Scott’s Army at the Battle of Cerro Gordo during the Mexican American War. After this Harney found himself fighting Indians in the west, at the Battle of Ash Hollow and with a then Captain George E Pickett serving under him in the Dept of Oregon.

Harney received a promotion to Brigadier General June 14th 1856 and was one of the only four generals serving in the regular army at the start of the Civil War [the other three being Lieutenant General Winfield Scott, and Brigadier Generals John E Wool and Edwin Vose Sumner]. He was in command of the Department of the West, stationed in St Louis Missouri at the out break of the Civil War. Although Missouri vowed neutrality at the beginning of the war, the “Camp Jackson Affair” where Union General Nathaniel Lyon captured some Missouri State Militia, and fired on a crowd, causing the Missouri General Assembly to authorize attacks on any Army North or South end the neutrality. Harney struck a deal with the Missouri State Guard and Governor Claiborne Jackson to remain neutral and finaly to swear allegiance to the Union. Harney was ordered to Washington DC April 1861 over the affair and was captured by Confederates at Harper’s Ferry Virginia on the way. The Confederates offered him a command, he refused it but found himself relieved of command when he reached Washington and was replaced by Lyon. Harney retired from military service in 1863.

Harney died May 9th 1889 in Orlando Florida. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Into The Valley

The Battle of McDowell one of Jackson’s actions in the Valley campaign was fought May 8th 1862.

Leaving from Staunton Virginia, Major General Thomas J Jackson marched his army along the Parkersburg Turnpike. He was advancing to face two Union brigades under Brigadier General Robert Milroy and Brigadier General Robert Schenck. Reaching McDowell on May 8th 1862, Milroy assaulted the Confederate position on Sitlington’s Hill. After four hours of heavy fighting the Union troops were repulsed. Milroy and Schenck pulled back into western Virginia, allowing Jackson’s army march through the valley and hit other Union columns.

Friday, May 7, 2010

We'd Have Driven Them Into The River

Part of the Peninsula Campaign, the Battle of Eltham’s Landing took place on May 7th 1862.

Brigadier General William B Franklin had been ordered to protect the road to Barhamsville, New Kent County, Virginia. On May 7th 1862 Union Brigadier General John Newton had a brigade in the woods on either side of the landing road. Confederate Brigadier General John Bell Hood advanced pushing Newton’s skirmish line back. Do to the thick woods, Hood ordered his men to unload their rifles as they advanced. Union troops retreated from the woods onto the plain in front of the landing, where they could get cover fire from the Union gunboats. The Confederates fired artillery into the gunboats, but they didn't have enough range and so disengaged at about 2pm.  After the Confederates pulled back from the area, the Union troops moved back into the woods, but did not try to advance any further.

The action of the Battle at Eltham’s Landing was really little more than a skirmish. The Confederate saw 48 casualties, while the Union side lost 194 men. The action was a draw, although Confederate General Joseph E Johnston considered it a success, having only ordered Hood to feel out the enemy. He asked Hood, "What would your Texans have done, sir, if I had ordered them to charge and drive back the enemy?" To which Hood said, "I suppose, General, they would have driven them into the river, and tried to swim out and capture the gunboats."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hurrah For Jeff Davis

Philip Henry Mulkey was arrested in Oregon on May 6th 1865 for shouting “Hurrah for Jeff Davis”

Although Eugene, Oregon is a long way away from where the Civil War fighting was going on, there were Confederate sympathizers in the North West state. When news of Abraham Lincoln’s death on April 15th 1865 reached Oregon, Philip Henry Mulkey set off what is known as the “The Long Tom Rebellion” by yelling “Hurrah for Jeff Davis, and damn the man that won’t” in the streets of Eugene. Mulkey was arrested and placed in jail.

A pro-Union mob broke into the jail and came close to lynching Mulkey. Friends of Mulkey’s from the town of Long Tom, Oregon, who shared his Confederate feelings, prepared to fight. The military in Oregon finally had to take Mulkey 130 miles away to Fort Vancouver so things would settle down. Mulkey would spend three months in jail.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Victory Or Withdrawal

The first major battle of the Peninsula Campaign fought on May 5th 1862 was the Battle of Williamsburg.

The Battle of Williamsburg or the Battle of Fort Magruder, was part of the Peninsula Campaign and took place on May 5th 1862. There were about 41,000 Union troops and 32,000 Confederates engaged. The Confederates were in retreat from Yorktown when a Union division commanded by Major General Joseph Hooker ran into their rear near Williamsburg. Confederate General Joseph E Johnston on May 4th 1862 established his rear position in earthen fortifications built by Major General John Bankhead Magruder, which overlooked the junction of two roads.

Hooker conducted a morning attack on May 5th 1862 against Fort Magruder, but was forced back. They were driven by a strong assaults lead by General James Longstreet. In time a division under Brigadier General Philip Kearny arrived to support the Union position and the Confederates fell back to their defenses. While this was going on Brigadier General Winfield Scott Hancock had marched his brigade in behind the Confederate left flank. Longstreet sent Major General D H Hill and Brigadier General Jubal A Early to try to flank Hancock’s men, but they were misdirected and this resulted in great loss.

Having delayed the Union advance, the Confederates left the redoubts during the night and continued their withdrawal toward Richmond. Although the Union claimed a victory, the Confederates saw the battle as a delaying maneuver allowing them to continue their withdrawal. The Union saw losses of 2,283 and the Confederates lost 1,682.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

He Lost The First Battle

Brigadier General Irvin McDowell who was defeated at First Bull Run / First Manassas died May 4th 1885.

Irvin McDowell was born October 15th 1818 in Columbus Ohio. He started his college education in France at the College de Troyes, but then went on to graduate from West Point Military Academy in 1838. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 1st United State Artillery. He was a tactics instructor at West Point. During the Mexican American War McDowell served as aide-de-camp to General John E Wool.

On May 14th 1861 McDowell was given a promotion to Brigadier General. He was placed in command of the Union Army of Northeastern Virginia through connection with Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P Chase. Even though he knew his troops were green and not ready for battle McDowell bent to the pressures of Washington and launched an offensive against the Confederates. His strategy for winning First Bull Run was complicated and his soldiers much to inexperienced, resulting in an humiliating Union loss.

After the loss at Bull Run, McDowell was replaced by Major General George B McClellan. McDowell was placed in command of the 1st Corps, which was placed in defense of Washington DC. Latter three of McDowell’s commands would be combined and moved into Major General John Pope’s Union Army of Virginia, where McDowell would lead the 3rd Corps. After another failure at Second Manassas, McDowell was exiled from leadership in the Army. He was placed in command of the Department of the Pacific.

Following the end of the Civil War McDowell commanded the Fourth Military district which included Arkansas and Louisiana during the years of Reconstruction. In 1872 he was promoted to Major General in the United States Regular Army. He retired from military service in 1882. McDowell died May 4th 1885 in San Francisco California, were he is buried in the Presidio.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Honoring The Dead

The Washington Race Course Cemetery saw the burial of Union dead and the first Memorial Day on May 1st 1865.

Many communities set aside a day to mark the end of the Civil War and honor those who had died. Some of the towns who began these early Memorial or Decoration Days included Columbus Mississippi, Carbondale Illinois, and Sharpsburg Maryland, among others. The first of these remembrance is thought to have been held by former slaves on May 1st 1865 at the Washington Race Course in Charleston South Carolina.

The race course was used during the war as prison camp, and contained a mass grave behind the old grandstand of the Union soldiers who died there. Following the end of the war, the former slaves who lived in the area exhumed the bodies of the 257 Union soldiers who died there and reentered them in individual graves. There was a fence built and the area was declared to be a Union cemetery and named the “Martyrs of the Race Course“. It was reported by Charleston newspapers that on May 1st 1865 a crowd of around 10,000 including some 2,800 children attended ceremonies that included sermons, singing, picnicking on the grounds and laying of flowers. The 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops drilled and did a march around the cemetery. This then became the first Decoration Day.