Wednesday, June 30, 2010

For The Enjoyment Of All

President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill preserving Yosemite June 30th 1864.
Senator John Conness of California was encouraged by some prominent men such as Frederick Law Olmsted the landscape architect, to preserve Yosemite. On June 30th 1864 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Valley Grant Act, Senate Bill 203 granting the lands of Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Sequoias to be placed under the protection of the State of California for the use of resort and recreation of the public for all time. This was the first time the Government set aside land and protected them for the enjoyment of all the people.
It would become a national park October 1st 1890.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Youngest Colonel

A lawyer and Union Army General, Edwin Henry Stoughton was born June 23rd 1838.

Edwin Henry Stoughton was born June 23rd 1838 in Chester VT, the son of Henry Evander and Laura [Clark] Stoughton. He received an appointment to West Point in 1854, and graduated 17th in his class of 1859. Stoughton started with the United States 4th Infantry, and in September 1859 was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and transferred to the 6th Infantry.

In March 1861 Stoughton resigned his commission with the United States Army, and excepted an appointment to the 4th Vermont Infantry as their Colonel, where he lead them during the Peninsular Campaign. He was only 23 and the youngest Colonel in the Army at the time. In November 1862 he received a promotion to Brigadier General and took over command of the 2nd Vermont Brigade. On March 9th 1863 Stoughton was captured by Confederate Colonel John S Mosby at Fairfax Court House Virginia. He was held in Libby Prison in Richmond Virginia for two months before being exchanged. Stoughton saw no further military service.
Following the war he worked as a lawyer . Stoughton died December 25th 1868 in New York City. He is buried in the Immanuel Cemetery in Rockingham Vermont.
Another web site about this subject
Vermont-born Generals

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

First African American West Pointer

Henry Ossian Flipper was the first African American to receive a commission from West Point on June 15th 1877.
Henry Ossian Flipper was born a slave March 21st 1856 to Festus and Isabella Flipper in Thomasville Georgia. Following the Civil War he received an education from the American Missionary Association, and then attended the Atlanta University. In 1873 Flipper was the fifth African American to get an appointment to West Point thanks to Representative James C Freeman. He was however the first African American to endure the hostilies of his fellow white cadets, graduate and receives a commission June 15th 1877. Flipper was an officer in the 10th US Cavalry, known as the Buffalo Soldiers. He served in west at Fort Elliott,
Concho, Sill and others during the campaign against the Apache Indians.

While Flipper was stationed at Fort Davis Texas in 1881, white officers framed with charges of embezzlement. He was court-martialed and although he was not found guilty of the embezzlement, he was found guilty of “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." He was dishonorably discharged from the military.
Flipper went on to distinguish himself in civilian life as an engineer, land surveyor and for the US Government settling land claims in the Southwest. He even worked in Mexico from 1901 to 1912 as a mining engineer. He would also help the US Government during the Mexican Revolution, serve for a short time as the assistant secretary of the interior, and work for a petroleum company in Venezuela. Flipper retired in 1931 and moved back to Atlanta to live with a brother. He died on May 3rd 1940 from a heart attack.

Another very good web site about this subject
First Black Graduate of West Point

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fighting Her Way Out Of Cherbourg France

Two years at sea for the “CSS Alabama” only to find itself trapped June 11th 1864 at Cherbourg, France.

The Confederate ship the “CSS Alabama” a screw sloop, was built by John Laird Sons and Company at their shipyard in Birkenhead, Merseyside, England. It was commissioned August 24th 1862. The “CSS Alabama” under the command of Captain Raphael Semmes.  It spent the next few months in the North Atlantic capturing American grain ships heading for Europe. Then going through the West Indies, she sank the “USS Hatteras” off the coast of Galveston Texas. From here she traveled to the East Indies, before returning to Europe.
The “CSS Alabama” arrived on June 11th 1864 at Cherbourg, France. Captain Semmes requested permission to dock his ship and have her overhauled. Three days later the ship the “USS Kearsarge” under the command of Captain John Ancrum Winslow; which had been chasing the “CSS Alabama” arrived in Cherbourg. The “CSS Alabama” sailed out of Cherbourg on June 19th 1864 and engaged the Union ship. With less then a 1,000 yard between the two ships they opened fired on each other. The battle quickly went bad for the “CSS Alabama”, in about an hour she was nothing more then a sinking hulk. Captain Semmes struck his colors and surrendered the ship to his opponent. The “USS Kearsarge” rescued most of the crew of the “CSS Alabama”, but Captain Semmes and 41 other crew member were picked up by the yacht the “Deerhound” and escaped to England. During her two years at sea the “CSS Alabama” took over 60 prizes worth over $6,000,000.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The First Battle

Only eight weeks after the firing on Fort Sumter on June 10th 1861 the first battle fought in Virginia, Big Bethel Church was fought.

The first Civil War battle in Virginia had Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler’s troops coming together from Newport News and Hampton toward Little and Big Bethel where there were Confederate outposts. Falling back from Little Bethel the Confederates commanded by Colonel John Bankhead Magruder, went into entrenchments near Big Bethel Church behind the Brick Kiln Creek. Butler sent Union troops under the command of Brigadier General Ebenezer W Pierce at dawn on June 10th 1861 to attack the Confederate front, they were forced back after coming under heavy artillery fire. Farther downstream the Union 5th New York Zouaves hit the Confederate left flank, but were also repulsed. The Union forces retreated from the field, going back to Newport News and Hampton. Confederate forces saw only 8 casualties. The Union side saw looses of 76 men.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Control Of The River

Fort Pillow’s evacuation on June 4th 1862 by the Confederate Army opened the Mississippi River to the Union.

Fort Pillow built by the Confederate Army in 1861 in Maury County, was named for General Gideon J Pillow. It’s strategic location on the Mississippi River, just south of Island Number 10, allowed for controlling movement on the river. Union ships bombarded the Fort for weeks placing pressure on the troops stationed there. But it was the Confederate loss of Corinth, which left Fort Pillow isolated in Union territory which caused Confederate troops evacuated the Fort June 4th 1862 leaving the river clear for Union troops to invade Memphis Tennessee. The Union held the Fort until April 1864 when during the Battle of Fort Pillow the Confederate victory ended in the killing of 229 Union soldiers out of the 262 who where in the battle.