Here are some of the events of the Civil War that were happening 150 years ago this week. Sources are numbered according to the list at the bottom of this post.
Battles: Peninsula Campaign/Stuart’s Ride: General Lee approves General J.E.B. Stuart’s proposal to make a complete circuit of General McClellan’s army, heading to the north end of the lower peninsula, near the York River, and then returning along the James to Richmond. (6)
Military Events: CS General Jackson’s army is at Brown’s Gap. (2)
Battles: Peninsula Campaign/Stuart’s Ride: At about 2 a.m., General Stuart and about a thousand cavalrymen start out from Richmond. They pick up another 200 men from the city’s outer defenses. Colonel Fitzhugh Lee (General Lee’s nephew) and Lt. Colonel Rooney Lee (Lee’s son) are with Stuart. The men head north along the Brooke Turnpike and then turn north at Turner’s Tavern to give any watching Union troops the impression that they are going to join General Jackson as he comes to Richmond. That night they camp quietly and without fires near Winston’s Farm on the South Anna River. (6)
Shenandoah Valley: The armies of US Generals Fremont and Shields have withdrawn, and General Jackson moves his troops back into the valley. (2)
Battles: Peninsula Campaign/Stuart’s Ride: Early in the morning, Stuart reveals his orders to his commanders. Soon after, his advance guard encounters elements of the US 6th Cavalry under Lt. Edward Leib just west of Hanover Courthouse. Stuart orders Fitz and Rooney Lee to try to flank the unit, but Leib realizes the danger and withdraws down the Richmond Stage Road, wiring his commander at 11:30 a.m. that the “two squadrons” are “nothing to worry about.” As Leib falls back toward Old Church Union, reinforcements start arriving, but Stuart’s men hit them hard. Stuart also gains an important piece of intelligence: the ford at Totopotomoy Creek is unguarded, leaving McClellan’s right flank “up in the air.” Just before 3 p.m., US General Philip St. George Cooke (Stuart’s father-in-law), now aware that Confederates are present in force behind Union lines, orders support for Leib’s cavalry, starts forming a strong line and brings up an infantry brigade to repel an assault. Cooke’s superiors order him not to attack a superior force. (6) Late that night, Stuart decides to attack McClellan’s rail supply line at Tunstall’s Station. They ride all night, and either on the 13th or early on the 14th, reach the station but fail to stop a train getting through. Despite burning 75 captured wagons and a schooner full of hay on the Pamunkey River, they give up the idea of raiding McClellan’s main supply depot. (6, 11, 13)
Military events: US President Lincoln telegraphs General Fremont: “We can not afford to keep your force, and Banks’, and McDowell’s, engaged in keeping Jackson South of Strasburg and Front-Royal. . . . The orders already sent you and Banks place you and him in the proper positions for the work assigned you. . . . Please do as I directed in the order of the 8th. and my despatch of yesterday, the 12th. and neither you nor Banks will be overwhelmed by Jackson.” (5)
Other: “Oh that God would in His infinite goodness bring about a speedy peace.” CS Col. William W. Bentley.
“I have been having a sort of day-dream about home, trying to think how everything will appear when I see it, but can’t form any idea. I can remember how it was the last time I was at home but there has been changes since.” US Cavalryman Charles E. Bates
Battles: Peninsula Campaign/Stuart’s Ride: On their return to Richmond, Stuart’s men rebuild the bridge at Forge Site that General Joe Johnston had burned during his withdrawal, and after crossing the Chickahominy, they burn the newly built bridge. The smoke attracts Union forces and there is a skirmish with Stuart’s rear guard. General Stuart leaves his cavalry with Colonel Fitz Lee and goes to Richmond to report. At about this time, General McClellan is reporting to Secretary of War Stanton, “A rebel force of cavalry and artillery, variously estimated at from 1,000 to 5,000, came around our right flank last evening, attacked and drove in a picket guard…at Old Church; they proceeded to a landing 3 miles above White House, where they burned two forage schooners and destroyed some wagons. Then they struck the railroad at Tunstall’s Station, fired into a train of cars, killing some 5 or 6. Here they met a force of infantry which I sent down to meet them, when they ran off. I have several cavalry detachments out after them and hope to punish them. No damage has been done to the railroad.” (6)
Aerial map by Thaddeus Lowe, chief aeronaut of the Army of the Potomac, of the defensive earthworks General Lee is having built to protect Richmond.
Battles: Peninsula Campaign/Stuart’s Ride: Colonel Fitz Lee and the cavalry camp behind Confederate lines this night. (6)
Battles: Peninsula Campaign/Stuart’s Ride: The cavalry column returns home, to a warm welcome. (6) General Lee acts on Stuart’s information by directing General Jackson to leave the Shenandoah Valley and head for Richmond – and US General McClellan’s right flank. It will take time to move 18,000 men, even with the help of the Southern railway system, so Lee asks Jackson to come to Richmond for a meeting with General Lee and the three other commanders – Generals D. H. Hill, James Longstreet and A. P. Hill – that Lee plans to use to relieve Richmond. (11)
Secessionville/Fort Johnson/First Battle of James Island: The only Union attempt to seize Charleston, South Carolina, by land fails.
Skirmish at Smithville, Arkansas. Union victory
Military events: Mississippi: CS General P. G. T. Beauregard is relieved of command and General Braxton Bragg assumes command of the Army of the Mississippi. (6)
Flag Officer Farragut’s mortar flotilla leaves New Orleans and heads up the Mississippi toward Vicksburg. Confederate batteries at Grand Gulf fire on them but do no damage. (12)
(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 Battles for Richmond, 1862.” National Park Service.
(12) Conquest of the Lower Mississippi. BrownWaterNavy.org.
(13) “Stuart’s Ride Around McClellan” – Civil War Home.
(14) Daily Observations From the Civil War
Categories: American Civil War