The Civil War (1861-1865) was a war in the United States that was a result of the election of Abraham Lincoln. 11 southern slave states seceded, seizing all federal installations except Fort Sumter, which led to the 32 hour bombardment of the fort and confederate capture of the fort.
This year is the 150th anniversary of the civil war, and every week we will take a look at what happened this week 150 years ago.
Sunday: John C. Fremont issued an emancipation of all slaves in the district under his control. Lincoln worked frantically to get this act revoked. He did this to prevent the secession of Kentucky, Missouri and other border states.
Monday: In Kentucky, people were for and against secession, slavery and other problems like that, but nearly as many felt strongly on either side of the various issues. As of then the new government was holding with the Union. This did not please Confederate General Gideon Pillow, so, under orders from Gen. Leonidas Polk, he invaded the state and headed for Columbus, Kentucky, on the Mississippi River. The Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Walker tried to send orders to Polk to stop the invasion that was coming, but he was overruled by Jefferson Davis.
Tuesday: Barely three days after being appointed to command at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Gen. U.S. Grant set up in business in Cairo, Illinois. Being the town with the largest concentration of Union forces and the location of most of the training centers and “camps of instruction” in the Midwest, it seemed more logical to be on the scene. Polk, meanwhile, was justifying his invasion of Kentucky with a Confederate army by claiming that the Union was “concentrating forces” across the river from Columbus, KY, and that he had just invaded the state to “protect it.”
Wednesday: Anyone who was under the impression that modern-day media are the first to take an interest in military affairs, should have been in Charleston, S.C. on this day. There, the “Mercury” launched into its editor’s analysis of what it called “inactivity” by the Army of Northern Virginia in the area of Washington. According to the paper, there was no reason why, with the army on the outskirts of the city, they should not just march in and take it. The minor impediment of the Army of the Potomac being in the way was not taken into consideration
Thursday: Three days ago Gen. Gideon Pillow, CSA, had marched a Confederate army into Kentucky to “protect” them from a Federal invasion. This was just the opportunity Gen. U.S. Grant, had been waiting for and he had troopers, transports and gunboats ready to go. His men, loaded on the transports and protected by the gunboats, sailed across the river to land at the strategic town of Paducah. Located as it was at the junction of the Ohio with the Tennessee River, it would prove crucial to the Union effort, both to restore Kentucky to the union and to isolate the Confederacy by taking control of the Father of Waters.
Friday: Gen. John C. Fremont was not having a good time in Missouri. He had only been appointed to command the district in early August, and already he had declared martial law, announced his intention to confiscate the property of secessionists and then have them court-martialed and shot, and for a show-stopper announced his own Emancipation Proclamation, applying only to Missouri. Lincoln cancelled this later, but was coming under increasing pressure to rein Fremont in further. The furor hit the fan today when an audit showed that he had, in barely a month, spent $12 million. Some of this was for gunboats and uniforms, but an amazing amount was spent on “fortifications”, food and parties.
Saturday: President Jefferson Davis, CSA, sent a letter to his general in the field at Manassas battlefield today. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston was told that “the cause of the Confederacy is staked upon your army. ..I have felt, and feel, that time brings many advantages to the enemy.” Telling Johnston to hurry sounded promising, but then came the bad news– “…I wish we could strike him in his present condition, but…” (there’s that awful word, ‘but’) “…but it has seemed to me involved in too much probability of failure to render the movement proper with our present means. Had I the requisite arms, the argument would soon be changed.” In other words, Davis could send sympathy, but no guns.