150 Years Ago This Week

150 Years Ago This Week: Action in the west

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Sept. 27
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September 1862 After the Battle of Sharpsburg (Northerners called it Antietam, after the creek on the battlefield), Gen. Robert E. Lee withdrew his battered Army of Northern Virginia back across the Potomac River into Virginia, and began moving south. The U.S. Army of the Potomac, under Maj. Gen. George McClellan, remained in their positions...
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150 Years Ago This Week: America’s bloodiest single day

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Sept. 20
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September 1862 In accordance with Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Special Orders No. 191, issued in Frederick, Md., on Sept. 9, his Army of Northern Virginia had been divided. Maj. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s troops marched on the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry while Maj. Gen. James Longstreet’s command marched through Boonsborough to secure the...
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150 Years Ago This Week: The South moves north

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Sept. 13
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September 1862 In both the eastern and the western theatres of war, Confederate armies were marching north. In the west, Gen. E. Kirby Smith’s army had crossed from Tennessee into Kentucky, with the goal of advancing on the Ohio River. In Tennessee, the Confederates under Gen. Braxton Bragg were marching north out of Chattanooga...
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150 Years Ago This Week: The ‘miscreant’ is suppressed

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August/September 1862 In a letter from Gen. Robert E. Lee to Maj. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on July 27, the commanding general, in his ire against Maj. Gen. John Pope for Pope’s harsh treatment of Southern citizens in the area of his command, called the Federal commander of the Army of Virginia a “miscreant who...
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150 Years Ago This Week: Second battle of Manassas 

August 1862 Toward the end of August, as more of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army marched north to reinforce Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s troops, daily clashes occurred between the Confederates and the Federals in Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia. Maj. Gen. James E.B. Stuart’s Confederate cavalry, in concert with Maj. John Mosby’s...
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150 Years Ago This Week: Deadly Sioux uprising begins

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Maj. Gen. James E. B. Stuart was assigned command of all the cavalry of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia on Sunday, Aug. 17.
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150 Years Ago This Week: Battle at Cedar Mountain

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August 1862 As the week closed, Union troops under Maj. Gen. Edward Canby at Ft. Fillmore in the New Mexico Territory near the Texas border attacked and defeated Confederates moving south out of Santa Fe. At Blackburn in England, a public meeting advocated recognition of the Confederate States because “it was impossible for the...
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150 Years Ago This Week: Armies on the move

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August 1862 Elements of Maj. Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia left Rappahannock County on Saturday, Aug. 2, leaving behind a populace devastated by the occupation and oppression of thousands of Union soldiers and their hated pompous commander. The soldiers in blue were headed towards Orange Courthouse. Their ultimate destination was to threaten Richmond...
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150 Years Ago This Week: Living under military occupation

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July/August 1862 As July 1862 moved towards its closing days, Maj. Gen. John Pope, commanding the Federal troops in and around Rappahannock County, added to his previously issued orders exacting harsh treatment on the citizens living near where his troops were posted. His latest orders decreed that any male who was detained and refused...
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150 Years Ago This Week: The Sperryville Outrage, part two

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July 1862 Following General Orders No. 6, dated July 21, from Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel’s headquarters at Sperryville, a Federal force of about 1,000 troops from the 13th Independent Battery of New York Light Artillery, the 68th New York Infantry and 4th New York Cavalry; the 6th Ohio Cavalry; and the 73rd Pennsylvania Infantry,...
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150 Years Ago This Week: The Sperryville Outrage, Part I

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On Wednesday, July 16, Napoleon III of France received Confederate commissioner John Sliddell, requesting recognition of the Confederacy and aid from warships in breaking the blockade in exchange for cotton.
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150 Years Ago This Week: The summer of our discontent

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On Tuesday, July 1, the day of the battle at Malvern Hill near Richmond, the last of the Seven Days’ Battles, Abraham Lincoln approved an act to provide for a Federal income tax – 3 percent on income between $600 and $10,000.
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150 Years Ago This Week: The Seven Days’ Campaign

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At the end of June, Maj. Gen. John Pope was organizing his Army of Virginia, stationed for the most part in Rappahannock County, into three army corps, all totaling 60,000 to 65,000 officers and men. 
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150 Years Ago This Week: Population of Rappahannock — 70,000

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With the major drive on Richmond by Maj. Gen. George McClellan’s 110,000 strong Army of the Potomac slowly approaching the Confederate capital from the east, the Lincoln administration decided to establish another large force in Virginia, with the objective of protecting Washington and, moving through north central Virginia, striking Richmond from the west.
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150 Years Ago This Week: J.E.B. Stuart completes his ride

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Maj. Gen. James E. B. Stuart’s Confederate troopers, on their ride around McClellan’s army on Saturday, June 14, spent three hours repairing a wrecked bridge over the Chickahominy River.
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150 Years Ago This Week: General Ashby killed

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In the Shenandoah Valley near Harrisonburg on Friday, June 6, Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s troops continued south from Strasburg towards Port Republic, where Jackson anticipated finding two columns of Union troops commanded by Maj. Gen. James Shields and Maj. Gen. John C. Fremont.
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150 Years Ago This Week: General Lee assumes command

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May/June 1862 Saturday, May 31: In the Shenandoah Valley, Gen. Stonewall Jackson and his 15,000 troops hurried south through Winchester from Harpers Ferry in a heavy rain, squeezing through converging Union forces of Gen. Fremont and Gen. McDowell. There was a brief skirmish near Front Royal but the Federals were too late in trying...
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150 Years Ago This Week: The first Battle of Winchester

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May 1862 Fresh from his overwhelming victory at Front Royal, Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson ordered his largely unscathed 16,000-man Army of the Valley on Saturday, May 24, to move quickly northwest and prevent the 8,000 Federals under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks from reaching the strategic town of Winchester. After Col. Kenly and...
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150 Years Ago This Week: The battle of Front Royal

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May 1862 On Friday, May 16, the day following his infamous “Woman Order,” General Order No. 28, which declared that any woman in New Orleans who showed any disrespect to the flag or soldiers of the United States would be treated as common prostitutes, Gen. Benjamin Butler shut down publication of the New Orleans...
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150 Years Ago This Week: ‘Beast’ Butler earns his nickname

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Federal mortar boats appeared on the Mississippi River just north of Fort Pillow in Tennessee on Saturday, May 10.
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150 Years Ago This Week: The Battle of Williamsburg

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Faced by overwhelming numbers, giant siege guns and a threat of more Federal reinforcements to the north on the Rappahannock River, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston abandoned Yorktown on Saturday, May 3.
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150 Years Ago This Week: The Southern picture grows dimmer

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The taking of the Confederate forts Jackson and St. Philip at the mouth of the Mississippi River by Federal naval forces in late April was not the only setback experienced by the Confederacy during the waning days of April.
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150 Years Ago This Week: The Great Locomotive Chase

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April 1862 In the week following the Battle of Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing, Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River was finally overtaken by Federals under Maj. Gen. John Pope on April 7. Seven thousand Confederates, 25 artillery guns and a large quantity of military arms and supplies were taken. On April 8, Brig. Gen. Henry...
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150 Years Ago This Week: The bloodbath at Shiloh

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April 1862 On Friday, April 4, Gen. Albert S. Johnston’s army marched north from Corinth, Miss., into Tennessee, to attack the Federals under Maj. Gen. Ulysses Grant near Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. Heavy rain that night delayed the Confederate attack and slowed the march north. On the Peninsula southeast of Richmond, Maj....
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150 Years Ago This Week: Showdown looming at Shiloh

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March/April 1862 After losing Fort Donelson, Tenn., over the winter, Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston decided to stop the Union advance in the Tennessee Valley by joining his dispersed Confederate troops. The concentration of Southern troops took place at the critical rail junction at Corinth, Miss. This was the next objective of the Federal invasion....
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150 Years Ago This Week: How the West was lost

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Responding to orders from Richmond to keep Union forces in the Shenandoah Valley and prevent a possible advance on Richmond, Gen. Stonewall Jackson moved his Valley army north from between Mt. Jackson and Strasburg towards Winchester.
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150 Years Ago This Week: The spring campaigns begin

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March 1862 The weather in March improved, and military actions on land and sea began to increase with the coming of the spring campaigns. On March 11, Union troops under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks advanced on Winchester in overwhelming numbers, forcing the 4,600 Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson to evacuate the town...
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150 Years Ago This Week: End of an era

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March 1862 On the night of Thursday, March 6, Confederates commanded by Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn set out to outflank the Union position near Pea Ridge in northwestern Arkansas. Van Dorn divided his force into two columns. Learning of the Confederate advance, the Federals commanded by Brig. Gen. Samuel Curtis marched north to Pea...
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150 Years Ago This Week: Grant is replaced

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By the end of February, 1862, Federal troops had occupied Nashville, the first Confederate state capital to be taken by the Union Army.
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150 Years Ago This Week: Bloody Valverde!

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During the frigid night of Thursday, Feb. 20, the Confederate Army of New Mexico under Brig. Gen. Henry Sibley encamped on the east side of the Rio Grande River across from the Federal Fort Craig, commanded by Col. Edward R.S. Canby. Seeing their campfires and hearing their voices carried along by the stiff cold...
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150 Years Ago This Week: Grant earns his nickname

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During February, Atlantic Monthly magazine published a poem, as it often did; this one was submitted anonymously, but it and the author’s name (once it became known) would not be soon forgotten. Written on the outskirts of Washington one night the previous November, Julia Ward Howe, of the prominent Ward family of Boston, saw...
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150 Years Ago This Week: Roanoke Island falls to Gen. Burnside

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With the fall of Fort Henry in Tennessee on Thursday, Feb. 6, Gen. Albert S. Johnston, in command of Confederate troops in the western theatre of war, hurried available troops in Kentucky to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River.
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150 Years Ago This Week: Lincoln rejects elephants

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Two letters dated Feb. 14, 1861, and addressed to President James Buchanan were delayed in transit, and delivered to President Lincoln almost a year later. The letters were from the King of Siam (today’s Thailand); one letter accompanied royal gifts of a costly sword, a photograph of the king and his daughter, and two...
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150 Years Ago This Week: General War Order No. 1

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The Confederate government on Sunday, Jan. 26, ordered Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard from the Potomac District in northern Virginia to the west, where he became second-in-command to Gen. Albert S. Johnston in that threatened area. This left Gen. Joseph E. Johnston (no relation to Gen. Albert Johnston) in full command in Virginia. Frustrated by months...
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150 Years Ago This Week: Cameron out; Stanton in

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Saturday, Jan. 11: a fleet of some 100 vessels carrying Federal troops under Brig. Gen. Ambrose Burnside sailed from Hampton Roads, Va., for the coast of North Carolina. The naval squadron of about 15,000 commanded by Commodore Louis Goldsborough posed a new threat to the already severely intruded Southern coast. In Washington, President Lincoln accepted the public...
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150 Years Ago This Week: Winter military maneuvers, campaigns

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Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederate troops, moving from Bath in western Virginia, on Sunday, Jan. 5, in pursuit of Federal troops halted on the Potomac River across from Hancock, Md. For two days they bombarded Federal troops garrisoned in Hancock. Brig. Gen. Frederick Lander refused Jackson’s demands for surrender, and the Confederates searched unsuccessfully...
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150 Years Ago This Week: Pride swallowed, hearts torn

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Dec. 29, 2011
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December 1861 Tensions between the United States and Great Britain over the Trent affair were high as Christmas week in 1861 dawned. In Washington on Dec. 23, Lord Lyons, the British ambassador, conferred again with Secretary of State Seward. Lyons formally and officially presented the British note demanding the surrender of Confederate commissioners Mason...
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150 Years Ago This Week: Another British ship seized

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Dec. 8, 2011
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The first winter of the War was upon the people North and South, as the last month of 1861 opened. The conflict, which everyone expected to be over before the end of the Summer, now seemed to be dragging on. On Sunday, Dec. 1, President Lincoln asked some pointed questions about a possible forward movement of...
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150 Years Ago This Week: ‘Outrage on the British Flag!’

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Dec. 1, 2011
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Forces of the United States landed on Tybee Island, Georgia, on the Savannah River, on Sunday, Nov. 24. Federals now controlled the entrance to the harbor and gained a foothold for an attack on Ft. Pulaski, the brick fortification designed to protect the city of Savannah. There was skirmishing this day at Lancaster and...
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Gen. McClellan snubs his President

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Nov. 18, 2011
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On Sunday, Nov. 10, President Jefferson Davis wrote to Gen. Joseph E. Johnston at Manassas that he was surprised the Army had shown so little increase since July, but that “we are restricted in our capacity to reinforce by want of arms.”
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