Civil War Week by Week: 4/23/12-4/30/12

Here is what happened this week in the American Civil War.

April 23rd, 1862 – Testing on the prototype machine guns, known as “coffee mill” guns because of the lever that was cranked to use it, had been ongoing for some time. Col. John Geary, of the 28th PA Infantry, was in charge of the project, and today he sent the two he had experimented with back to the Washington Arsenal. Despite the fact that these weapons had been purchased by President Lincoln’s direct order, Geary’s report stated that they were “inefficient, and unsafe to the operators.”

April 24th, 1862David Glasgow Farragut, admiralAdmiral Farragut had been trying to bomb the Confederates out of the forts below New Orleans for a week now, without success. On this night he set out to run past them anyway. The barricades, chains stretched across the river, had been damaged enough that ships could slip past, and they did until the moon rose and they were discovered. All but three small vessels got through anyway.

Layout of CSS Mississippi.

Layout of CSS Mississippi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

April 25th 1862 – Yesterday his fleet eliminated the problem of the Mississippi downstream forts by running past them in the night. Today Admiral David Farragut, with eleven ships, pulled up to the docks of New Orléans. He didn’t tie up, for the excellent reason that the waterfront was on fire, set by the people of the town. The unfinished gunboat CSS Mississippi came floating past, burned to keep her from the Yankees.

April 26th, 1862 – At this stage of the war it was still considered very possible that France, England or other European powers might take advantage of the wars in the Americas, possibly by granting diplomatic recognition to the Confederacy. President Lincoln took comfort today when he paid a courtesy call to a French man-of-war visiting the Washington Navy Yard. The sailors shouted themselves hoarse with cries of “Vive le President!”

Fort Pike Today

April 27th, 1862 – Admiral Farragut’s night run past the Mississippi forts had taken him to the gates of New Orléans, where negotiations were in progress to surrender the town without further damage or loss of life or face. Meanwhile, the occupants of the forts found themselves in similarly embarrassing states. They were still armed and ready to fight, quite undamaged…and thoroughly unemployed and surrounded. Four of them, Forts Wood, Pike, Quitman and Livingston, surrendered today.

April 28th, 1862 – Four small forts below New Orléans had surrendered yesterday. Today came the recognition of the inevitable at Fort Jackson and Fort St. Phillip. These were the big ones, which had defended the lower Mississippi River from Admiral Farragut’s fleet with barricades and chains as well as artillery. Farragut had attacked them repeatedly to no avail, and finally had simply run past them at night.

April 29th, 1862Ulysses S. Grant had brought the armies down from Cairo, Il., to Pittsburg Landing, Tenn. The assemblage now numbered more than 100,000 troops and was preparing to leave for Corinth, Miss to combat the forces of Gen. Beauregard–but not with Grant in command. He found himself in second place behind Maj. Gen. Halleck. Grant felt slighted after having been the victor of Shiloh.

April 30th, 1862 – It had been the most active month of the war thus far, and this April had brought unexpected reverses for the Confederate States of America. It was in hopes of putting things back on track that Thomas J. Jackson led his forces away from Elk Run, near Swift Run, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. His immediate destination was Staunton. It was part of what would be known as the Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

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