From: Los Angeles
150 Years Ago Today:
Near Harrisonburg, Virginia, the 1st New Jersey Cavalry attacked Stonewall Jackson's cavalry, commanded by Turner Ashby. The Union troopers did not have the horse experience of their western counterparts, and Ashby's veterans soon drove them off. But a little later, Northern infantry appeared, and Ashby's horse was shot from under him. Ashby went ahead on foot, cheering his men, but within moments he was shot through the heart. He had been promoted to brigadier general just ten days earlier.
On the Mississippi River at Memphis, Tennessee, a crowd of spectators turned out to watch the battle between the two fleets. Union Captain Davis preferred to take a slow approach and shell the Rebel vessels, trusting to his ships' armor to give him the advantage. But Charles Ellet and his brother Alfred, commanding the Northern rams Queen of the West and Monarch respectively, decided to charge in.
Unnerved, the captain of the Rebel ram Lovell tried to evade, but wasn't fast enough. Queen of the West nearly cut her opponent in two. This turned out to be a problem as the two ships stuck together. The Confederate ram General Beauregard solved this by ramming Queen of the West, shaking her loose but also heavily damaging her. Coming on deck to inspect the damage, Charles Ellet was hit in the leg by a pistol bullet.
He was the only Union casualty of the day. Alfred Ellet's Monarch had a field day, ramming General Price, General Beauregard, and forcing the Confederate flagship Little Rebel aground. A shell from a Yankee ironclad hit General Jeff Thompson and the resulting fire blew up her magazine. Seeing this, two more Southern vessels hoisted the white flag, and only General Van Dorn managed to escape downriver.
The aftermath was an echo of the farce at New Orleans. Four men from the Northern rams marched to the Mayor's office to demand the surrender of the city, but Mayor John Park claimed that he was a civilian and surrender was a military matter. The four raised the Union flag over the Post Office, where they were quickly surrounded by an angry mob. Realizing that the Union fleet would likely shell the city if the men were harmed, Mayor Park went to the docks to personally guide a rescue force of Marines to the Post Office.
Charles Ellet went into the hospital for his gunshot wound, where he would contract measles and die a dozen days later. This allowed Captain Davis to claim much of the credit for the nearly complete victory, helped by the many confused accounts of the battle.
Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?