Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Long Running Raid

Col Abel D Streight
The first of a series of skirmishes known as Streight’s Raid, the Battle of Day’s Gap was fought on April 30th 1863 in Cullman County, Alabama.

The goal of Union Colonel Abel D Streight’s Raid was to cut off the Western & Atlantic Railroad, interrupting Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s supplies. Streight’s force made up of the 80th Illinois, 51st and 73rd Indiana, 3rd Ohio Infantry and 1st Middle Tennessee Cavalry, left Nashville, Tennessee and moved first to Eastport, Mississippi, then to Tuscumbia, Alabama. Leaving Tuscumbia on April 26th 1863 his march south was screened by Union Brigadier General Grenville M Dodge.

At Day’s Gap on the Sand Mountain, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked Streight’s rearguard on April 30th 1863. The Union troops held off the attack and continued the march to avoid further envelopment. This battle set in motion a series of engagements including Crooked Creek and Hog Mountain the same day. Streight’s Raid came to end on May 3rd 1863 when Forrest surrounded the exhausted Union troops about three miles from Cedar Bluff, Alabama, where they surrendered. Streight was sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, which he escaped from on February 9th 1864.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The First Union Spy

Pinkerton agent Timothy Webster became the first spy to be executed during the Civil War on April 29th 1862.

Timothy Webster was born March 12th 1822, and moved with his parents to America in 1830. They settled in Princeton, New Jersey. Webster became a New York City policeman in 1853, and was brought to attention of Allan Pinkerton a year latter.

At the beginning of 1861 Pinkerton sent Webster and a female spy, Hattie Lawton to Baltimore, Maryland. They were supposed to pose as husband and wife pro-Southerns. It was Webster’s actives in Baltimore that gave Pinkerton the information about the Baltimore Plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln before his inauguration. Once the war started Webster was sent to Tennessee, Kentucky and Richmond, Virginia to gather information about the Confederacy for Pinkerton. While in Richmond in 1862 Webster had a bout of inflammatory rheumatism and was to sick to make reports. Pinkerton sent two other agents, Pryce Lewis and John Scully to find Webster. Lewis and Scully were recognized as Union spies, and they along with Webster were arrested. Lewis and Scully would be released, but Webster who had received and passed valuable documents from Confederate officers and higher-ups was tried and sentenced to death.

Upon learning of Webster’s death sentence, Pinkerton and President Lincoln warned the Confederacy that if they put Webster to death, the Union would reciprocate by hanging a Confederate spy. At Camp Lee in Richmond, Virginia on April 29th 1862 Webster was led to the gallows. Something went wrong with the first hanging, but he was executed in a second attempt. Webster was buried in Richmond, but Pinkerton had his body moved in 1871. Webster was finally laid to rest in Onarga, Illinois, where he was buried next to his father and a son who had been killed during the war.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

They Wished To Continue

The Invalid Corps or Veteran Reserve Corps was organized April 28th 1863 by the United States War Department.

The Veteran Reserve Corps, which was originally called the Invalid Corps; was created by the Union Army to permit disabled former soldiers to carry out light duty which freed up other men to fight. Formed on April 28th 1863, the Corps was created by General Order Number 105. The men of the Invalid Corps fell under two classes. Class 1 included disabled soldiers whose enlistment was not yet up. They were able to handle a gun, do some marching and perform guard duty. Class 2 included soldiers who had been discharged do to disabilities, disease or wounds, but were able to perform light duty and wished to continue to serve. Many of these men worked as cooks, and hospital attendants.

The name Invalid Corps was changed to Veteran Reserve Corps by General Order number 111 on March 18th 1864. During the war there were over 60,000 men who served in the Union Veteran Reserve Corps. Men of Company F of the 14th Veteran Corps handled the execution of those found guilty of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. The Corps was disbanded in the summer of 1866.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Suspension Of Rights

President Abraham Lincoln had the writ of Habeas Corpus suspended April 27th 1861 in Maryland.

In a response to riots, and the threat that Maryland would secede from the Union, President Abraham Lincoln had Habeas Corpus suspended April 27th 1861. The suspension covered Maryland and some parts of the Midwestern states. The suspension of Habeas Corpus allowed for private citizens to be tried in military courts. Lincoln was encouraged to this move as a way to control Peace Democrats and those who lived in Union but supported the Confederate cause.

The suspension was challenged and overturned by the United State Circuit Court in Maryland, under the leadership of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B Taney. Taney ruled the suspension of Habeas Corpus was unconstitutional as is could only be suspended by an Act of Congress. Lincoln ignored the courts decision. There were 13,000 arrested under martial law during the course of the war. It wasn't until 1866 that the Supreme Court officially restored Habeas Corpus, ruling that trying civilians in a military court was illegal.

Lincoln’s act read, “Whereas, It has become necessary to call into service, not only volunteers, but also portions of the militia of the States by draft, in order to suppress the insurrection existing in the United States, and disloyal persons are not adequately restrained by the ordinary processes of law from hindering this measure, and from giving aid and comfort in various ways to the insurrection. Now, therefore, be it ordered, that during the existing insurrection, and as a necessary measure for suppressing the same, all rebels and insurgents, their aiders and abettors within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice affording aid and comfort to the rebels against the authority of the United States, shall be subject to martial law, and liable to trial and punishment by courts-martial or military commission.

Second: That the writ of habeas corpus is suspended in respect to all persons arrested, or who are now, or hereafter during the rebellion shall be, imprisoned in any fort, camp, arsenal, military prisons, or other place of confinement, by any military authority, or by the sentence of any court-martial or military commission.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Twenty-fourth day of September,/// in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh. ABRAHAM LINCOLN. By the President. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Life Long Secessionest

A wealthy planter, soldier and delegate at the Virginia Secession Convention, John Smith Preston was born April 20th 1809.

John Smith Preston was born April 20th 1809 in Abingdon, Virginia at “Salt Works” the family plantation. He was the son of General Francis and Sarah Buchanan [Campbell] Preston. Preston graduated in 1824 from Hampden - Sydney College and then studied law at Harvard. After passing the bar Preston opened a practice in Abingdon. He married in 1830 to Caroline Hampton the daughter of Wade Hampton. Preston moved to Columbia, South Carolina where he opened a law practice, and invested in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana sugar plantation. He was a member of the Democratic Party and served in the South Carolina State Senate, and as a delegate and the chairman at the May 1860 Democratic National Convention held in Charleston, South Carolina.

At the beginning of the Civil War Preston was an aide de camp to Confederate General PGT Beauregard. He latter received a commission of Lieutenant Colonel in the Confederate Army and was placed at the head of the Confederate bureau of conscription in Richmond, Virginia. In 1864 Preston was promoted to Brigadier General. His family home the Hampton - Preston House in Columbia was seized by the Union Army in 1865 and used as the headquarters of Union Major General John A Logan.

When the war ended Preston moved to England, and didn’t return to the United States until 1868. Until the end of his life Preston was a strong defender of the Confederacy. He gave a commencement speech at the University of Virginia, where he asserted the right of state secession, he also spoke at the dedication of the Confederate monument in Columbia. He died May 1st 1881 in Columbia, South Carolina was is buried the Trinity Cathedral Cemetery there.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Block Of The Coast

President Abraham Lincoln declared a blockade April 19th 1861, a part of Union General Winfield Scott’s Anaconda Plan.

The Union Navy maintained a blockade along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the Confederate States between 1861 and 1865. President Abraham Lincoln put the blockade into effect on April 19th 1861. The blockade was part of plan designed by Union General Winfield Scott known as the Anaconda Plan. The blockade included the closure of 3,500 miles of coast line and 12 ports within the Confederacy. The blockade was supposed to keep the Confederacy from getting supplies and arms. Ships, mostly new, and high speed known as blockade runners tried to evade the blockade, they ran between the Confederate ports and the neutral ports of Bahamas, Bermuda, Cuba, Havana, and Nassau. The Union Navy commissioned 500 ships. These Union ships captured or destroyed around 1,500 blockade runners during the war. The blockade cut Confederate cotton exports by 95% during this time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Big Surrender

Confederate General Joseph E Johnston was on his second day of negotiating the surrender of his army April 18th 1865.

After Confederate General Robert E Lee surrendered on April 9th 1865 at Appomattox Court House, General Joseph E Johnston agreed to meet with Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. They met at the Bennett Place, a small farm located between their lines near Durham, North Carolina. The negotiations began on April 17th which was when Johnston first learned of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and continued again on April 18th 1865. After two days peace terms were settled on. The terms of this peace were rejected by officials in Washington, DC, as they were looking to punish the south. However, on April 26th 1865 another agreement was worked out and Johnston surrendered the Army of Tennessee, and all active Confederate forces in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Sherman had 10 days of rations issued to the Confederate soldiers. Johnston would be paroled May 2nd 1865. Confederate President Jefferson Davis accused Johnston of having committed an act of treachery in having surrendered his 89,000 soldiers without having been defeated.

A good web site to look at if you like more information about this surrender is The Carolinas Campaign Johnston's Surrender
at Bennett Place on Hillsboro Road

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Naval And Ground Battle

Fought in Washington County, North Carolina, the Battle of Plymouth took place April 17th through April 20th 1864.

The Battle of Plymouth started April 17th 1864 when the combined force of the Confederate ironclad the CSS Albemarle and Major General Robert F Hoke’s soldiers attacked the Union garrison at Plymouth, North Carolina. The Union force was under the command of Colonel Henry W Wessells, and included 4 infantry and artillery units. The CSS Albemarle sunk the Union USS Southfield, damaged the USS Miami and drove off the rest of the Union ships that were protecting the garrison at Plymouth on April 19th 1864. Following this Hoke’s men captured Fort Comfort and drove the Union troops into Fort Williams. On April 20th 1864 the Union garrison surrendered.

Check out this web site for more information about the battle, Plymouth The Keystone

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Compensated Emancipation

President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill April 16th 1862 that ended slavery in the District of Columbia.

Eight and half months before he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia on April 16th 1862. This bill called the Compensated Emancipation Act, ended what was called by abolitionist “the national shame”, of slavery in the seat of the United States government. The bill called for immediate emancipation. There was to be compensation to owners who were loyal to the Union of $300 for each former slave, and $100 for each former slave who voluntary emigrated to locations out of the Untied States. During the following 9 months the act approved 930 petition and the freedom of 2,989 former slaves. The former slaves who lived in the District of Columbia celebrated April 16th as Emancipation Day with parades and festivals from 1866 to 1901.

To read the act look at this web site District of Columbia Emancipation Act

Friday, April 15, 2011

Failure In The Shenandoah

Robert Patterson was mustered into service and given command of the districts of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania April 15th 1861.

Robert Patterson was born January 12th 1792 in Cappagh, Tyrone, Ireland. His family emigrated to the United States in 1799. He attended local schools and then clerked in a Philadelphia counting house. Volunteering for service, Patterson rose in rank during the War of 1812 to Colonel in the 2nd Pennsylvania Militia. With the Mexican-American war he was commissioned a Major General, and saw action at the Battle of Cerro Gordo and Veracruz. Following the war he returned to Pennsylvania where he joined in politics and became quite wealthy because of his cotton mills and a Louisiana sugar plantation.

When the Civil War started Patterson was appointed Major General of Pennsylvania volunteers. He was given the command of the Department of Pennsylvania and the Army of the Shenandoah on April 15th 1861. Ordered to re-take the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Patterson failed, and was then outmaneuvered at the Battle of Hoke’s Run, and by Confederate Brigadier General Joseph E Johnston at Winchester Virginia. Due to Patterson’s failure with Johnston, the Confederate leader was able to be at First Bull Run. Patterson was honorably discharged from the Army July 27th 1861.

Patterson returned to his cotton mills and wrote the book “A Narrative of the Campaign in the Valley of the Shenandoah in 1861” which was published in 1865. He was the President of the Aztec Club from 1867 to 1881. Patterson died August 7th 1881 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and is buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery there.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The First Death

Considered to be the first casualty of the Civil War, Daniel Hough died April 14th 1861 in an accident when Fort Sumter surrendered.

The Union garrison at Fort Sumter surrendered at 2:30 pm April 14th 1861 to Confederate troops. At this point no one had been killed on either side throughout the bombardment. As part of the condition of the Union withdrawal there was a 100 gun salute to the United State flag. During this salute when the 47th round was fired, a spark caused a pile of cartridge to blow up, killing Private Daniel Hough, and injuring the rest of the gun crew. Hough was an emigrant from Tipperary Ireland and was about 36 years old. He had enlisted in the United State Army in 1849, and as a regular army soldier was stationed at Fort Sumter. Hough’s military records described him as about 5’8” with a light complexion, blue eyes and gray hair. He was an artillerist. No one know where he was buried, but it is thought Hough had a brother, two sisters, and a mother living in New York City.

The salute was halted at 50 shots. The flag from Fort Sumter was carried north, where is would become a rallying symbol for the Union.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Prairie Fight

Frederick Steele
The Battle of Prairie D’Ane fought in the Nevada County area of Arkansas, came to an end April 13th 1864 after 4 days of fighting.

Prairie De Ann was a well known area land mark, located about a hundred miles southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas. It was a circular area of land bounded by forest. The Prairie lay at a crossroads, west of Washington Arkansas the Confederate capital of the state, east of the city of Camden, and south of the Little Red River. Starting on Aril 10th 1864 Union Major General Frederick Steel’s troops along with Brigadier General John M Thayer’s division, while on march from the Cronelius Farm encountered the confederate line at Prairie D’Ane. The Union force attacked the line, driving it in about a mile. The following day the two forces skirmished each other. Steele was forced by this to change his line march away from Shreveport and closer to Camden, Arkansas. Confederate Major General Sterling Price brought soldiers to Prairie D’Ane April 13th 1864, attacking Steele’s rearguard. The fighting went on for four hours, before Price disengaged allowing Steele to continue on to Camden, where he captured the city.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fooled By The Numbers

The Siege of Yorktown, was a part of the Peninsula Campaign and began in April 5th 1862.

Union Brigadier General Erasmus D Keyes found Confederate defensive works along the Warwick River on April 5th 1862. This was an area in which General George B McClellan hadn’t expected any resistance. Confederate Major General John B Magruder moved his troops only around 6,000 strong back and forth through his 13 mile long works, convincing the Union Commanders that his force was larger then it was. Keyes’ reconnaissance caused him to believe there were 40,000 Confederates in his front, and he advise McClellan not to assault the Confederate works. The Union IV Corps came into Magruder’s earthworks at Lee’s Mill, they stopped about 1,000 yard from the fortifications and were joined by a brigade of Union Brigadier General John Davidson’s. There was an artillery duel between the two side for several hours. While this was going on Keyes made another reconnaissance, and waited for more units to arrive.

McClellan doubting that his numbers were superior, decided not to attack and instead had his army entrench, and begin a siege of Yorktown. While the Union troops dug in, Magruder continued to receive reinforcements, but still had only about 35,000 men by mid April; not really enough men to even defend his line. The siege would go until May 4th 1862.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Only Plain Looking Women

The Superintendent of Union Army Nurses during the Civil War, Dorothea Lynde Dix was born April 4th 1802.

Dorothea Lynde Dix was born April 4th 1802 in Hampden, Maine, the daughter of Joseph and Mary [Bigelow] Dix. When she was 12 when she moved to Boston, Massachusetts to live with her grandmother. Dix opened a school in Boston in 1821. The school catered to the well-to-do, but Dix also taught the less fortunate in her home. Her health was not good, and in an attempt in 1836 to cure herself, Dix traveled to England. It was while living in England that Dix became involved in the reform of insane asylums and the treatment of inmates. Upon returning to America in 1841, Dix continued her crusade for those with mental disorders. She published a report for the Massachusetts legislature that said, "I proceed, Gentlemen, briefly to call your attention to the present state of Insane Persons confined within this Commonwealth, in cages, stalls, pens! Chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience." The State expanded their mental hospital in response to her lobbying. Dix continued to spread her cause to other states including North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

When the Civil War began Dix was appointed to be the Union Army’s Superintendent of Army Nurses. She set the rules for the women who would be allowed to nurse, including that they be between the ages of 35 and 50, be plain in looks, and wear un-hooped black or brown dresses. She often fired volunteers if she hadn’t hired or trained them herself. Her actions made her rather un-popular, and after the passing of Order Number 351 in October 1863 which gave most of the control over the nurses to the Surgeon General Joseph K Barnes, Dix became little more then a figurehead. Dix resigned August 1865, considering her stint as the Superintendent of Nurses to be a failure.

When the war ended Dix went back to her reform movement, now including the care of prisoners as well as mentally disabled. The legislature in New Jersey designated a private suite for her used in the New Jersey State Hospital in Morris Plains, for as long as she lived. She lived there for 6 years. Dix died July 17th 1887 and is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Looking For A Place To Cross The River

Fought on April 3rd and 4th 1864 the Battle of Elkin’s Ferry was part of the Camden Expedition in Arkansas.

Union Major General Frederick Steele had command of the VII Corps and two cavalry brigades. Confederate Brigadier General John S Marmaduke commanded three cavalry brigades. Steele’s men needed to find a place to cross the Little Missouri River, and with all the bridges out they headed to Elkin’s Ferry. Having reached Elkin’s Ferry the Union troops were attacked on April 3rd by Confederate Brigadier General Joseph Orville Shelby’s cavalry. Steele was attacked the next day while trying to cross the river by Marmaduke, but was able to drive off the Confederates and cross the river.

Casualties on both side were light. On the Union side about 30 were wounded. On the Confederate side 50 were wounded and 18 killed. On the evening of April 4th 1864 Shelby and Marmaduke joined forces. The next morning they withdrew south to Prairie D’Ann.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Let Them Eat Bread

Because of the high cost and limited amount of food in Richmond, Virginia, April 2nd 1863 saw the Southern Bread Riots.

The Southern Bread Riots were caused by the foraging of the Union and Confederate armies, high inflation, and a drought in 1862, all of which made food hard to come by and expensive in southern cities. In the first three years of the war the cost of wheat had tripled, and milk and butter had gone up four times its original amount.

Women in the Confederacy began to protest the high cost of bread April 2nd 1863. The women believed speculators and an uncaring government were to blame for the shortages and high costs. As the protests grew they became violent. Rioters attacked stores, broke into warehouses, and tore apart dry goods stores. In Richmond, Virginia several women met in a church and marched on Capitol Square, where they demanded relief from Governor John Letcher. When no help was offered, thousands of mostly women broke into stores stealing clothes, food, and other items. The women shouted “Bread! Bread! Bread!” Jefferson Davis addressed the rioters from the back of wagon, asking them to break up and go home, he even took money out his own pocket and threw it at the mob. The women didn't break up until militia was call in, and the threat was made to fire on them.

Friday, April 1, 2011

One Of Many Parties

The Liberty Party a minor United State political party held its first national convention April 1st 1840.

The Liberty Party was an early advocate of the abolitionist movement. It broke away from the American Anti-Slavery Society, under the belief that the United States Constitution was an anti-slavery document. Party members where abolitionists who tried to work with politics to get people to support their goals. The Liberty Party’s first gathering was November 1839 in Warsaw, New York, its first national convention was held on April 1st 1840.

The Parties nomination for President in 1840 and 1844 was James G Birney of Kentucky, a former slave owner. Birney didn’t get many votes in 1840, but in 1844 he received 62,103 votes. At their convention in Syracuse, New York in 1847 they endorsed John P Hale of New Hampshire. In August 1848 there was a meeting held in Buffalo, New York, where members from the Liberty Party, and some un-happy New York Democrats joined to form the Free Soil Party.

A member of the Liberty Party, who latter become a politically prominent Republican was Salmon P Chase. Besides Chase the Liberty Party produced 8 United States Senators, 18 Representatives, 2 Supreme Court Justices, and 5 Governors.