The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – May 7-13, 1862

Here are some of the events of the Civil War that were happening 150 years ago today. Sources are numbered according to the list at the bottom of this post.

General Benjamin Huger, CSA military commander at Norfolk

General Benjamin Huger, CSA military commander at Norfolk (Library of Congress)

May 7

Battles: Things are quiet for Union forces in Yorktown, although they have to be careful where they step – CS. General Magruder’s forces mined the area before they left. Fighting continues at West Point, Virginia where US General William Franklin’s division has been engaged by two brigades of CS General G. W. Smith at Eltham Landing. The CSS Virginia is active, engaging Union ships, while Confederates under General Benjamin Huger are hard at work getting supplies and material out of Norfolk before they abandon it. (9, 14)

Shenandoah Valley Campaign: CS General Jackson heads west from Staunton toward US General Robert Milroy’s position in the village of McDowell. In the afternoon, Milroy’s men spot Jackson’s troops on the Staunton and Parkersburg Turnpike and fire an artillery volley, but when another column of Confederates appears, Milroy abandons the position and heads for McDowell. US General Robert Schenck responds to Milroy’s call for help with 1500 and hurries toward McDowell overnight. (7)

Mississippi River: US Flag Officer Farragut heads upriver from New Orleans. (12)

General Robert C. Schenck, USA

General Robert C. Schenck, USA (Library of Congress)

May 8

Battles: The battle of McDowell/Sitlington’s Hill. US Generals Milroy and Schenck/CS General Jackson. Milroy and Schenck withdraw to West Virginia, leaving Jackson free to advance on other Union positions in the Shenandoah Valley. (1)

Peninsula Campaign: At the mouth of the James River, Union batteries open up on Confederate positions at Norfolk, but the CSS Virginia and the James River Squadron show up and Union ships retire for the time being. (Wikipedia)

Mississippi River: US Comdr. Palmer sends a landing party to take Baton Rouge when his demand for surrender is refused. (12)

May 9

Emancipation: General David Hunter, commander of the US Department of the South, who has been enlisting black soldiers and has formed the first Union black regiment, the 1st South Carolina (African Descent), issues General Order No. 11, emancipating slaves in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. This causes “some excitement, and misunderstanding.” (6)

Battles: Peninsula Campaign: CS General Huger and his forces abandon Norfolk, Virginia, destroying their military base as they go. (6)

Corinth, Mississippi: US General Halleck and his army are moving slowly towards Corinth. Per McPherson, “Halleck would be happy if he could maneuver Beauregard out of Corinth without a fight. Grant, for one, could not see ‘how the mere occupation of places was to close the war while large and effective rebel armies existed.’ But Halleck wanted no part of Grant’s kind of war.” This is not at all because of cowardice or incompetence: General Halleck had literally written the book on military strategy, and like many others (and unlike General Grant), he couldn’t see just how much the world – and the battlefield – was changing.

May 10

Battles: Peninsula Campaign: Advancing Union troops occupy Norfolk and establish a military government there. The CSS Virginia is not an ocean-going vessel, and her draft prevents her from heading up the James River. She withdraws to Craney Island. The Confederates now have no defenses on the James below Drewy’s Bluff, about seven miles from Richmond. (6, 9, Wikipedia)

Pensacola, Florida: Confederates evacuate and burn the Naval Yard there, which they had taken a few days after Florida seceded. (6)

Mississippi River: Flag Officer Farragut arrives at Baton Rouge and orders two ships up the river to capture Natchez, Mississippi. (12)

CSS Virginia, May 11, 1862

The end of the “CSS Virginia” (Library of Congress). Note that her flag survived and, per Wikipedia, is now in Chicago.

May 11

Battles: After her guns have been removed and transferred to the Confederate Marine Corps base, Camp Beall, at Drewy’s Bluff, the CSS Virginia is blown up at the order of CS Flag Officer Josiah Tattnall, to prevent her capture. The crew is transferred to Drewy’s Bluff. (9, Wikipedia)

Military events: General Grant asks “to be relieved from duty entirely or to have my position so defined that there can be no mistaking it.” (8)

May 12

Military events: The Georgia Railroad Bridge Guard starts operations.

Other: In conversation with General Carl Schurz, Lincoln says that he expects to have no support from either Republicans or Democrats when the next election comes up because he is not radical enough for the Republicans and too radical for the Democrats. (5)

May 13

Battles: Mississippi River: Federal landing parties from Farragut’s fleet take Natchez, Mississippi. The CSS Vicksburg heads in but turns and puts upriver after CS General C. G. Dahlgren warns her off. (12) Dahlgren and his men withdraw into the countryside and order all cotton within 10 miles of the city to be burned.

Emancipation: Robert Smalls, a slave, commandeers the CSS Planter in Charleston harbor, and with his family and 12 other slaves, sails to freedom.

Breaking the backbone of the South.

Breaking the ‘backbone.’ (Library of Congress: Click to enlarge and read text.)



(2)  Encyclopedia Virginia: “The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862

(3)  “Battle Cry of Freedom” by James McPherson

(4) University of North Carolina “Civil War Day by Day”

(5) The Lincoln Log timeline.

(6) Blue and Gray Timeline.

(7) Civil War Daily Gazette timeline.

(8) Grant Chronology, Mississippi State University.

(9)”The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government” (Vol. II), Jefferson Davis.

(10) Civil War Home’s “The Peninsula Campaign.”

(11)  The Rebellion Record. Frank Moore, Edward Everett (1867)

(12)  Conquest of the Lower Mississippi.

(13) Waddell’s Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871.

(14) Daily Observations From the Civil War

Categories: American Civil War

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