CW Week by Week; 10/9/11-10/15/11

Sunday October 9th, 150 years ago

One thousand angry soldiers landed in Pensacola today and the result was about what you would expect: fights broke out all over. Of course, this was the intention when Confederate Gen. Richard Heron Anderson led his troops on Santa Rosa Island. They were trying to capture the batteries guarding the entrance to Pensacola Bay, with the final objective of capturing Ft. Pickens, which lay within. The night attack began successfully, with the first battery being promptly overrun. After that things bogged down, and when reinforcements began issuing from the fort itself, Anderson exercised the better part of valor and withdrew.

Monday October 10th, 150 years ago

Jefferson Davis took seriously his title of “commander in chief” of his nation’s military forces. In fact he often practiced what a later day would call micromanagement, as shown today by a letter he wrote to Maj. Gen. Gustavus Woodson Smith as a follow-up to their conference in Centerville on the first of the month. In the letter Davis discussed his concerns about the Southern railroad network, the organization of troops and the need for efficiency in staff officers. Davis went so far as to discuss the use of Negro laborers for the army, then wound up with further comment on the ultimate objectives: the Union army around Washington.

Tuesday October 11th, 150 years ago

Miscellaneous personnel changes and reassignments were made today as the first summer of the war was evaluated. Gen. William T. Sherman took over the Department of the Cumberland from Gen. Robert Anderson, who had never really recovered after the surrender of Ft. Sumter, finally suffering a nervous breakdown. Gen. William S. Rosecrans was appointed head of the Department of Western Virginia. This was of tremendous political importance as the area was overwhelmingly Union in support, and would eventually secede from the Secessionists in Richmond. Finally, Gen. O. M. Mitchel was assigned to lead an expedition into the Unionist area of eastern Tennessee. Mitchel was not much of a military man: his previous occupations had been astronomer and popular lecturer on science.

Wednesday October 12th, 150 years ago

The blockade runner Theodora slipped successfully out of Charleston harbor, South Carolina today on a mission that would prove momentous. Under cover of storm and darkness she carried John Slidell of Louisiana and James Mason of Virginia, Commissioners of the Confederacy to France and Britain respectively. Their mission was to be to persuade the governments to which they were being sent to recognize the existence of the Confederate States of America as a sovereign and independent nation. United States Navy Secretary Gideon Welles knew all about their mission and ordered US vessels to intercept them if possible–but Welles thought they were on a ship named CSS Nashville and confusion ensued.

Thursday October 13th, 150 years ago

Things were going rather slowly in Sterling Price’s first expedition to retake Missouri for the Confederacy. He and his men had had a success in the siege and battle of Lexington, when Fremont sat in St. Louis fighting political battles rather than military ones. Finally, though, Fremont had gotten a force together and was moving towards where he thought Price might be. As Price wished to discourage this, he attempted to cut the telegraph wires wherever he could. Today’s telecommunication outages took place near Henrytown, at a locale known variously as Dutch or Monday Hollow, and also as Wet Glaize, Mo. Federal scouts caught Price’s people at it, and a small battle ensued.

thursday October 14th, 150 years ago

The story of Missouri in the Civil War is often overlooked by history, but a long and often bloody story it was. The border state was very closely divided in sympathies, and perhaps the most unifying sentiment was a wish to be left alone. As this was not to be the case, the two sides both regarded it as vital to possess it. Missouri State Guard pro-secessionist Jeff Thompson issued a proclamation today calling on the people in Washington, Jefferson, Ste. Genevieve, St. Francis and Iron Counties to join him in fighting the “yoke of the North.” He suggested that residents (the area is roughly between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau) “drive the invaders from your soil or die among your native hills.” Quite a number of his followers and their opponents would do precisely that.
 
Saturday October 15th, 150 years ago

Merriwether Jeff Thompson wanted badly to have a military career. He applied to West Point and the Virginia Military Institute but, alas, was turned down by both. The beginning of the War found him in Missouri, so he rounded up a battalion of volunteers and offered them to the secessionist governor Claiborne Jackson, but even Jackson turned him down. Undeterred, Thompson simply promoted himself to General and took his men freelance. Yesterday he called for the people of southeast Missouri to rise up against the Yankees. Today he went out and burned the Big River Bridge, near Potosi, Mo. Thompson would become known in some circles as the “Swamp Fox of the Confederacy.”

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