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This week in The Civil War - January 1, 1862


The year 1862 will open with the Union Army of the Potomac under Major Gen. McClellan facing popular and political pressure to engage in major combat with its Confederate foes.But McClellan has come down with typhoid and is ill in bed. 

President Abraham Lincoln is increasingly anxious to engage Southern secessionists in battle even as he wishes to give his general time to prepare for battle. New Year’s Day of 1862 dawns though with some hostilities. 

On Jan. 1, 1862, Union warships unleash a barrage on targets around Pensacola, Fla., and the Confederates respond by bombarding Union-held Fort Pickens. But bigger fights lay ahead. 

New Year’s Day sees Lincoln and his wife welcome members of the Supreme Court, foreign diplomats and leading Army and Navy officers at a White House reception. The Associated Press reports the Marine Band played “choice music” at the gathering and after midday, per customs of that era, the outside gates were thrown open to the public “when the large mass of impatient human beings rushed in for a visit to the President.” 

Elsewhere, Union troops stationed across the Potomac River from Washington in northern Virginia are told not to let their bands go out on “serenading parties.” As AP notes: “There has, it appears, been an excess of such music at night, and in many cases proved more an annoyance than a compliment.” 

AP reports in a dispatch Jan. 2 from Nashville, Tenn., that some Confederate units have destroyed railroad tracks for several miles in the region. AP reports other movements by Confederate forces “we do not comprehend” and adds troop movements in several areas “point clearly to stormy events” ahead.

The Associated Press

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