RE: Civil War 150th (Full Version)

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Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/1/2011 8:54:54 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

North Carolina Governor John Willis Ellis had left little doubt about which side he was on when he had answered Lincoln's call for troops by saying, I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country and to this war upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina. But he had not had much regard for the laws of the United States himself when he ordered the state militia to seize three federal forts and the Fayetteville arsenal. Now he called the legislature into session to deal with the question of leaving the Union.

The legislature authorized an election on May 13 for a convention on secession to meet on May 20. It was not much time, but there could no longer be serious doubt as to which way the state would go. One North Carolinian would later write: "This furor, this moral epidemic, swept over the country like a tempest, before which the entire population seemed to succumb."

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/3/2011 8:26:52 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

General Winfield Scott ordered Union troops to seize Arlington Heights, Virginia, which is just across the Potomac river from Washington, D.C. It was the first invasion of Confederate territory. And it also just happened to include the Custis-Lee estate, home of Robert E.Lee, and future site of Arlington cemetery.

ilovestrategy -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/4/2011 11:43:26 AM)

It always amazed me that Scott was still around. His time in service had to have been at least 50 years.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/6/2011 8:23:07 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

The Confederacy gained one state, and made a long stride towards another. By a resounding vote of 69-1, the Arkansas convention adopted its ordinance of secession:

AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union now existing between the State of Arkansas and the other States united with her under the compact entitled "The Constitution of the United States of America."

Whereas, in addition to the well-founded causes of complaint set forth by this convention, in resolutions adopted on the 11th of March, A.D. 1861, against the sectional party now in power in Washington City, headed by Abraham Lincoln, he has, in the face of resolutions passed by this convention pledging the State of Arkansas to resist to the last extremity any attempt on the part of such power to coerce any State that had seceded from the old Union, proclaimed to the world that war should be waged against such States until they should be compelled to submit to their rule, and large forces to accomplish this have by this same power been called out, and are now being marshaled to carry out this inhuman design; and to longer submit to such rule, or remain in the old Union of the United States, would be disgraceful and ruinous to the State of Arkansas:

Therefore we, the people of the State of Arkansas, in convention assembled, do hereby declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the "ordinance and acceptance of compact" passed and approved by the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas on the 18th day of October, A.D. 1836, whereby it was by said General Assembly ordained that by virtue of the authority vested in said General Assembly by the provisions of the ordinance adopted by the convention of delegates assembled at Little Rock for the purpose of forming a constitution and system of government for said State, the propositions set forth in "An act supplementary to an act entitled `An act for the admission of the State of Arkansas into the Union, and to provide for the due execution of the laws of the United States within the same, and for other purposes,'" were freely accepted, ratified, and irrevocably confirmed, articles of compact and union between the State of Arkansas and the United States, and all other laws and every other law and ordinance, whereby the State of Arkansas became a member of the Federal Union, be, and the same are hereby, in all respects and for every purpose herewith consistent, repealed, abrogated, and fully set aside; and the union now subsisting between the State of Arkansas and the other States, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby forever dissolved.

And we do further hereby declare and ordain, That the State of Arkansas hereby resumes to herself all rights and powers heretofore delegated to the Government of the United States of America; that her citizens are absolved from all allegiance to said Government of the United States, and that she is in full possession and exercise of all the rights and sovereignty which appertain to a free and independent State.

We do further ordain and declare, That all rights acquired and vested under the Constitution of the United States of America, or of any act or acts of Congress, or treaty, or under any law of this State, and not incompatible with this ordinance, shall remain in full force and effect, in nowise altered or impaired, and have the same effect as if this ordinance had not been passed.

Adopted and passed in open convention on the 6th day of May, A.D. 1861.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee General Assembly authorized a popular vote on secession. There had been a referendum in February about whether or not to call a secession convention, but it had been handily defeated. After Fort Sumter, however, things looked different. East Tennessee, where there were few slave-owners, was still in favor of Union. West Tennessee was strong for the Confederacy. Middle Tennessee was shifting.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/8/2011 9:37:01 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

Several large crates labeled "marble" but actually holding four cannons plus ammunition arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, in response to Governor Jackson's secret request. Although the best of the muskets had been spirited out of the St. Louis federal arsenal, nearly 40,000 guns remained. Jackson meant to have them, and the cannons went to "Camp Jackson", were a number of pro-Southern irregulars were training. As secret as the operation had been, word that something was up leaked to the pro-Northern side.

A note: there were actually plenty of guns in the Southern states, since hunting was even more popular then than it is now. However, providing the many varieties of weapons, some of them made by local gunsmiths, with a continual supply of ammunition was a problem beyond the ability of Southern transport. They badly needed reasonably standardized weapons and bullets. The rifle-making equipment rescued from Harper's Ferry would help greatly, especially since Jefferson Davis knew something about it. (By an irony of history, he had approved the .58 caliber rifled musket when he was Secretary of War.) But it would take time to set the equipment working, and deliver the muskets from Virginia across the Confederacy. More time than the situation in Missouri would allow.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/10/2011 8:34:09 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

Nathaniel Lyon determined to neutralize the threat from the men at "Camp Jackson". (It is rumored that he had gone inside the camp disguised as a woman.) He put together a force of volunteers and all the U.S. Army regulars he could assemble, greatly outnumbering the men in Camp Jackson, surrounded the camp, and placed everyone inside under arrest. The Camp Jacksonians gave in.

But now Lyon made a critical mistake. He marched his prisoners through downtown St. Louis towards the arsenal. A shouting crowd objected to the humiliation of the men, and someone fired a shot. Soon Lyon's troops were firing on the civilians, and receiving fire in return. By the time it was over, 28 civilians and 5 troopers were dead, with many more on both sides wounded.

If neutrality had ever been possible in Missouri, that chance was gone. Governor Jackson re-submitted his "Military Bill" to the state General Assembly, which would create a new state military force, and incidentally grant Jackson wide executive powers.

ilovestrategy -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/11/2011 1:38:09 AM)

That was a pretty serious mistake on Lyon's part.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/11/2011 8:32:06 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

The Missouri state legislature passed Governor Jackson's "Military Bill". This measure disbanded the Missouri volunteer militia and reformed it as the Missouri State Guard to resist "invasion" and "rebellion" (which meant pro-Union activities). It also outlawed or prohibited other militia organizations. Interestingly, it also required that all commands in in the State Guard be given in English, which was meant to prevent Missourians of German ancestry (who tended to favor the North) from becoming officers.

Jackson appointed Sterling Price, a former Governor and a hero of the Mexican-American War, to be the commander of the State Guard. Price had also presided over the Missouri secession convention, where he had voted in favor of Union. But the Camp Jackson affair had turned him to the secessionist side -- so much so that he would eventually lead his remaining troops into Mexico rather than surrender at the end of the Civil War.

ilovestrategy -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/11/2011 11:21:36 PM)

One thing about the Civil War that always amazed me was the number of Mexican War vets that became generals and knew each other.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/13/2011 3:01:28 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

George B. McClellan was appointed to command the Department of Ohio, taking charge of all Union forces in that region. McClellan was the most promising officer in the U.S. Army after the departure of Robert E. Lee, having graduated second in his class at West Point. (In this amateur historian's opinion, he would have made a great Southern general, since he performed fairly well on the defensive. But he did not have the aggressive spirit that the North needed.)

Another less than brilliant Union general also made a move. Benjamin Butler decided to occupy Baltimore as well as Annapolis. There was no resistance to his forces on the streets of Baltimore, but in Washington, Winfield Scott was outraged.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/14/2011 9:43:51 PM)

Somewhere around 150 years ago:

Union troops enforced martial law in Baltimore. Mayor George William Brown, the City Council, and the Commissioner of Police, all having Southern sympathies were arrested. This was the last straw for General Winfield Scott, himself a Virginian, and he relieved Benjamin Butler of his command. But the arrests were not rescinded; Lincoln had to keep Maryland in the Union by hook or by crook. In a historical irony, the Baltimore city officials were imprisoned at Fort McHenry, the birthplace of "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/15/2011 8:55:08 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter fame was promoted to Brigadier General. The jump in rank was not unreasonable, given that both the Union and Confederate armies were being expanded as rapidly as the two sides could manage, and experienced officers were at a premium. The War Department did something else intelligent, and put Anderson in charge of the troops in Kentucky. Since Anderson was a Kentucky native, the move helped to calm anti-Union sentiments. The state was probably the most evenly divided of all the states, and a gentle hand was needed to avoid tipping it into the Confederacy.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/16/2011 4:42:25 AM)

May 16, 1861:

Kentucky was still very much in the balance. Governor Beriah Magoffin was pro-secession, and had been one of several Governors flatly refusing to raise troops in answer to Lincoln's call. However, the state legislature leaned to the Union side, and in an effort prevent outright secession passed the following:

Resolution of Neutrality, May 16, 1861

Considering the deplorable condition of the country and for which the State of Kentucky is in no way responsible, and looking to the best means of preserving the internal peace and securing the lives, liberty, and property of the citizens of the State; therefore,

Resolved, by the House of Representatives, that this State and the citizens thereof should take no part in the civil war now being waged, except as mediators and friends to the belligerent parties; and that Kentucky should, during the contest, occupy the position of strict neutrality.

Resolved, that the act of the governor in refusing to furnish troops or military force upon the call of the executive authority of the United States under existing circumstances is approved.

In the East, Benjamin Butler's removal from command caused trouble, since he was well-connected to the Massachusetts political elite. To soothe ruffled feathers, Butler was promoted to Major General, and sent to command Fort Monroe, on an island just off the coast of Virginia. Unlike Forts Sumter and Pickens, Monroe was and is connected to the mainland by a causeway -- and that fact would play its part in history.


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/20/2011 8:34:02 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

The Confederate Congress voted to accept Virginia's offer, and move the capital to Richmond. They gained little relief from the Southern summers, (the two cities have similar humid sub-tropical climates), but it had become clear that Montgomery's hotels and other facilities were not adequate for the expanding Confederacy. It might have appeared that the Confederate government was now in more danger of capture by Union forces, since federal troops were already on Virginia soil, but as history turned out, Montgomery would be captured only ten days after the fall of Richmond.

Expanding the Confederacy even further, North Carolina's legislature voted to secede -- and they voted unanimously.

AN ORDINANCE to dissolve the union between the State of North Carolina and the other States united with her, under the compact of government entitled "The Constitution of the United States."

We, the people of the State of North Carolina in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, That the ordinance adopted by the State of North Carolina in the convention of 1789, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified and adopted, and also all acts and parts of acts of the General Assembly ratifying and adopting amendments to the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, rescinded, and abrogated.

We do further declare and ordain, That the union now subsisting between the State of North Carolina and the other States, under the title of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of North Carolina is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.

Done in convention at the city of Raleigh, this the 20th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the independence of said State.

Up North, there was unsurprising disapproval:


Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/21/2011 4:45:05 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

General William Harney, the commander of the U.S. Army's Western Department, had returned to St. Louis, where he outranked Nathaniel Lyon. Harney met with Sterling Price, now the commander of the Missouri State Guard. To try to prevent bloodshed, the two worked out and signed an agreement now known as the Price-Harney truce: Federal troops would control the St. Louis area, the State Guard would control the rest of the state, each side would keep order and prevent secessionist-unionist violence, and the state would not leave the Union. Governor Jackson was not happy about this last part, and General Lyon, a strong abolitionist, was not happy about ceding control of most of the state. Congressman FRank Blair was also displeased, and he went to Washington to do something about it.

ilovestrategy -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/21/2011 5:20:59 PM)

Don't stop posting these. I love reading them!

parusski -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/21/2011 5:34:45 PM)

Speech, speech. BRAVO.

nicwb -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/22/2011 2:06:39 PM)

Please keep going - this has lots of great detail that doesn't come out in the more general histories.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/23/2011 5:38:44 AM)

May 23, 1861:

Virginia voters went to the polls to approve or reject secession. The results were a foregone conclusion; Virginia was already effectively part of the Confederacy. But the vote tallies were still a surprise both for and against disunion: overall, the state voted in a landslide to join the South, with over 130,000 in favor and less than 38,000 opposed. But in a number of counties in the northern and western areas of the state, the margins were heavily pro-Northern. Ohio County registered 3368 votes against secession and only 157 in favor.

Anticipating the results, a certain Colonel Thomas Jackson had already drawn up a plan of action. He had been put in command of Harpers Ferry after its seizure by the Virginia Militia. He knew that it was very difficult to defend (Frederick Douglass had refused to participate in John Brown's raid, saying "the place is a perfect steel-trap"), and so determined to strike while he could. Jackson sent his cavalry to block one end of a key stretch of the B&O Railroad where it ran through Virginia, while some of his infantry blocked the other end during the time of maximum rail traffic. It was probably the greatest Confederate seizure of train stock during the entire war: Jackson's men manged to take 10 locomotives and 80 rail cars into Southern service, and it is estimated that 42 locomotives and 305 rail cars were "given the torch" so they could not go back to Union use.

Much more would be heard from Jackson as the war went on, but instead of "Thomas", he would soon be known as "Stonewall".

At Fort Monroe, three slaves, Shepard Mallory, Frank Baker, and James Townsend managed to escape from their master and make it to the fort, where they were admitted. They had been set to work on an artillery emplacement aimed at the very fort they now took shelter in, and they were glad to share what they saw with commander Benjamin Butler. Legally, under Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution and the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, Butler would be required to return runaway slaves. But whatever Butler's failures as a field commander, he was a staunch abolitionist--and the men had given him useful military intelligence. He began to think of ways to keep them.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/24/2011 8:42:00 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

Under a flag of truce, Benjamin Butler met with a representative of Confederate Col. Charles Mallory, the owner of the three runaway slaves. Butler announced that he would "take Virginia at her word", that she was now a foreign country and so could not take advantage of U.S. law. The representative replied that Lincoln did not recognize secession, so that Butler could not consistently hold the slaves. Butler retorted that Virginia could not consistently claim them, but he knew he would need a stronger argument. So, he announced that the slaves were militarily useful property, and so could be confiscated as "contraband of war".

This was a potent argument, since many a Southern politician before the war had spoken of "property rights", especially the right to take one's "property" into the territories. And since the men had been set to work digging a gun emplacement, they were clearly of military use. Within a couple of weeks, runaway slaves reaching the Union lines would be known throughout the North as "contrabands".

The Union made another step to expand its lines by occupying the town of Alexandria, Virginia. Seeing a Confederate flag flying atop the Marshall House Inn, Col. Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth of the 11th New York Fire Zouaves led a small party to the rooftop and removed the flag. On his way back down, he was killed with a shotgun by James W. Jackson, the inn's proprietor. One of Ellsworth's men promptly shot and killed Jackson.

Ellsworth became the first officer killed in the line of duty in the Civil War. He had worked in Lincoln's law office in Springfield, Illinois, and so Lincoln had his body brought to the White House, where it lay in state in the East Room.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/25/2011 8:24:30 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

Federal troops arrested John Merryman, a lieutenant in the Baltimore Horse Guards. Merryman had been involved in the sabotage of the Maryland railroad bridges, in the attempt to prevent Union reinforcements from reaching Washington. Along with a number of Maryland pro-secessionists, Merryman was confined in Fort McHenry. This time, however, Merryman petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus, the right to be brought before a judge to determine if the detention is lawful.

In 1861, the Supreme Court justices also served as presiding judges in the various Circuit Courts. The presiding judge in Merryman's case was none other than Roger Taney, the Chief Justice and the author of the Dred Scott decision. Judge Taney granted the petition, but General George Cadwalader refused to let Merryman out of Fort McHenry, citing the suspension of habeas corpus authorized by President Lincoln. The stage was set for legal fireworks.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/27/2011 8:21:12 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

General Cadwalader informed Judge Taney via a military aide that he needed word from his superiors on whether or not to let Merryman appear in court. He also said public safety was at stake, and he offered the opinion that, "those who should co-operate in the present trying and painful position ... should not, by any unnecessary want of confidence in each other, increase our embarassments." [sic]

Taney was not concerned with embarrassments. He issued a writ of attachment (essentially, an arrest warrant to be served by a marshal of the court) against Cadwalader, to be served the next day.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/28/2011 5:55:43 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

Judge Taney's marshal went to Fort McHenry to serve the writ of attachment. Taney had confided to a friend that he expected to be himself arrested by the military as a result, but General Cadwalader thwarted him by the simple move of instructing his guards not to allow the marshal inside the fort. Time to plan the next move.

Meanwhile, the troops under Thomas Jackson's command had taken control of 100 miles of the main stem of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. However, the trains continued to run from May 28 for another 17 days, probably because Jackson was trying to win as many Confederate sympathizers in the area as he could, and hence did not want to indulge in too much property destruction. For more than two weeks, B & O East-West trains were literally run through the lines of both armies.

On the Northern side, General Irvin McDowell assumed command of the Department of Northeastern Virginia. McDowell had never before commanded troops in combat, and was probably given the position due to the influence of Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase. It was now the most important department in the U.S. Army, and already there were public clamors for a march on Richmond.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/30/2011 5:49:50 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

Congressman Blair persuaded President Lincoln to do more about the situation in Missouri. In spite of the Price-Harney truce, there was apparently still violence between the pro-Northerners and pro-Southerners. (Though it would pale in comparison to the guerilla warfare that would come later in the area.) Lincoln agreed to relieve General Harney and replace him with Nathaniel Lyon. This meant the certain end of the truce, for Lyon was a fiery abolitionist.

ilovestrategy -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/30/2011 7:59:10 PM)

I love all the political knife fighting. It's fascinating!

parusski -> RE: Civil War 150th (5/30/2011 8:22:37 PM)


ORIGINAL: ilovestrategy

I love all the political knife fighting. It's fascinating!

It is fascinating. I wish people in the news industry were more informed about America's history. Political discourse is much tamer today than it was during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (6/1/2011 8:25:51 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

Over six weeks after Fort Sumter, the Union and the Confederacy finally had their first land battle of soldiers vs. soldiers. (There had been some naval bombardments of Confederate coastal forts.) A squadron of Union cavalry rode through the village of Fairfax Court House, Virginia, firing nearly at random. Part of the Virginia Warrenton Rifles infantry company resisted the incursion, inflicted a few casualties, and forced the Union troopers to retire, though the Northerners managed to take a few prisoners. Each side lost one man killed -- for the Confederates, it was their first loss of a uniformed man, and also their first loss of an officer, Captain John Q. Marr.

It is interesting to note that the full name of the village was "Fairfax Court House". Another full name, "Appomattox Court House", also in Virginia, would become much more memorable almost four years later.

ilovestrategy -> RE: Civil War 150th (6/1/2011 11:39:27 PM)

I had always wondered just where the first land conflict was.

Capt. Harlock -> RE: Civil War 150th (6/3/2011 8:36:27 PM)

150 Years Ago Today:

General George McClellan had decided to advance further into western Virginia to protect the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. (Which was still open, although Thomas Jackson's men occasionally seized rail cars and set fire to bridges.) Three thousand Union troops under Brig. Gen. Thomas Morris advanced, and the eight hundred poorly armed Confederates under Col. George Porterfield retreated to a place called Philippi, where there was a covered bridge across the Tygart River.

Morris devised a two-pronged attack on the Confederate camp, which made it the first planned battle of the war. It almost misfired when a pro-Southern lady fired her pistol at the advancing Northerners, starting the attack prematurely. But the badly outnumbered Southern troops were woken in a state of surprise, which turned to near-panic when they realized they were under attack from two directions. After a few shots, they decamped so rapidly that newspaper reporters referred to the skirmish as "The Philippi Races". There were four Union and 26 Confederate casualties, a few requiring amputation but none fatal.

The lessons drawn were the wrong ones, however. McClellan's reputation rose, even though he hadn't been directly involved, and Northern public opinion pushed harder for an advance on Richmond. How much of a fight could the Southerners put up, after all?

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