Civil War Week by Week: 4/8/12-4/14/12

Here is what happened this week 150 years ago…

April 8, 1862 – An extremely unusual craft made rendezvous with the U. S. S. Richmond below Port Hudson. Edward C. Gabaudan, secretary to Admiral David Farragut, needed to get a message to the captain of the Richmond, but no communications were available. So a canoe was decorated with sticks, branches and other trash until it looked like a floating log. The messenger, armed with a paddle and a pistol, lay down any time he felt he might be observed.

April 9, 1862 – Nothing of importance happened today. Peace was upon the land. This trend would not continue long…

April 10, 1862 – Fort Pulaski was an installation on Cockspur Island which lies near the mouth of the Savanah River in Georgia, and it was commonly assumed that it would soon come under Union attack. Today, Brigadier General Quincy A. Gillmore, USA, was moving artillery onto the nearby Tybee Island to accomplish exactly that. It was no ordinary artillery, either. Ft. Pulaski was built of heavy brick, so instead of regular, smoothbore artilery new, long-range rifled guns with penetrating shells were being used instead.

April 11, 1862 – The new rifled artillery set up on Tybee Island completed its objective today as Ft. Pulaski surrendered. The sturdy fort had had several holes in it, and its commander, Col. Charles Olmstead, decided that getting 5000 rounds was enough. The surrender meant that the advances to the Savannah River and the city of Savannah were effectively opened for the upcoming Union assault. Strangely, only one soldier on either side was killed.

April 12, 1862 – Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles was held in high standards by President Lincoln, and good ideas like one he came up with today kept it that way. Welles announced today an absolute embargo on the export of anthracite coal. Confederate and other blockade runners were buying exported American anthracite in Caribbean ports. The alternative, bituminous coal was burned with heavy black smoke and could be seen at great distance at sea. Anthracite coal, on the other hand, not only contained much more heat per given volume, but burned very cleanly with just a little white smoke.

April 13, 1862 – Today there was a very strong and very serious attempt to set up a Confederate state in what is now New Mexico. This had reached its “high-water mark” at the battle of Glorieta Pass last month (which the South had lost). Today the pursuit continued as Federal cavalry chased the remains of the Confederate forces into the area of El Paso.

April 14th, 1862 – Nathan Bedford Forrest took possession of the Federal Ft. Pillow in Tennessee the day before. On the 14th, Union gunboats on the Tennessee River pounded the installation unmercifully with mortars and other weaponry. The only other actions today  were small skirmishes and reconnaissances in various parts of the country.

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