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June 2012

This Week in the Civil War - June 24, 1862

GainesMillwaudBlogClip
The Seven Days' Battles opens this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. The weeklong series of battles will consolidate the rise of starring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and prove influential in shaping the remaining course of the war.

On June 25, 1862, Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan sent his combat forces marching toward Richmond, intent on putting the Confederate capital within range of his siege guns. The Associated Press reported in a June 25 dispatch that the fighting was fierce as Union troops "met with a most determined resistance" in its Confederate foes. "The ground fought for was a swamp, with thick underbrush," AP notes.

In such terrain, McClellan's push is not enough and Lee goes on the offensive the next day. Lee's battle plan succeeds in pushing back federal troops, forcing McClellan's fighters to withdraw southeast along the Chickahominy River. On June 27, 1862, Union troops clash with Confederate forces at the major Battle of Gaines' Mill. There, after hours of afternoon fighting, Lee hurls his combined forces in an all-out attack that forces Union rivals to retreat. His is a sweeping tactical victory, his first. But it comes at a great cost in lives.

The 15,000 estimated casualties at Gaines' Mill mark the deadliest and largest battle in the East yet. More fighting follows on June 30, 1862, at Savage's Station. And on June 30, 1862, Confederate forces engaged in close combat with Union forces, unsuccessfully trying to cut their retreat to the James River. July 1, 1862, would see the last and deadliest battle of the Seven Days at Malvern Hill where Confederate forces are unable to withstand withering fire from Union forces hunkered down on high ground. Strategically, Lee is hailed as a hero for successfully defending Richmond, leaving McClellan's monthslong bid to take Richmond in disarray.

The Associated Press and ABC News


Union gunboats at Fort Henry, Tennessee

Union Gunboats at Fort Henry Tn, February 2, 1862 from John Fulton on Vimeo.

Local Tennessee historian John Walsh talks about the ironclads and timberclads deployed by the Union at the Battle of Fort Henry, February 2, 1862. The ironclads were designed and built by James B. Eads, who designed the iconic Eads Bridge that spans the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri. 


This Week in the Civil War - June 17, 1862

Richmond-Virginia-Civil-War
In June 1862, President Abraham Lincoln is still months away from issuing his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. But 150 years ago this week in the Civil War, Lincoln signed a bill passed by Congress that would ban slavery in the U.S. territories without compensating former slaveowners.

It signals Lincoln is giving deep thought to the issue of slavery as the war drags on. On Sept. 22, 1862, following the Union victory at Antietam, Lincoln would issue his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, ordering that in 100 days the federal government would deem all slaves free in those states still rebelling against the Union. Meanwhile, the week opens with a vast Union army bristling in eastern Virginia for several major battles that would erupt in coming days and weeks.

Those engagements would claim thousands of lives as Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee would seek to defend their capital of Richmond, Va., from Union foes. The Associated Press reports intermittent shelling followed by calm. One AP dispatch dated June 22, 1862, reports from the field headquarters of Union Gen. George B. McClellan in Virginia that "this has been a remarkably quiet day, considering the close proximity of the two contending forces."

But The AP reports there had been "brisk skirmishing" the previous day and concludes: "everything indicated that a general engagement was at hand." Meanwhile, there are the usual daily incidents of war. A dispatch this week reports that Union soldiers hunting for deserters in northern Virginia "came upon a rebel mail carrier, who was endeavoring to conceal himself in the woods." It added a "large quantity of letters to prominent officers in the rebel service, many of which contain valuable information," were found in the mail bag" of the arrested man.

The Associated Press and ABC News


This Week in the Civil War - June 10, 1862

Jeb Stewart
Some 150 years ago in the Civil War, Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart left Richmond, Va., on June 12, 1862, and began a daring reconnaissance mission on horseback in which his cavalry traced a giant circle around the Union Army of the Potomac.

Stuart's three-day, 150-mile roundtrip ride supplied Confederate leadership with key intelligence about the huge Union army of Gen. George B. McClellan, then massed off southeast Virginia in a bid to take the Confederate capital of Richmond. Stuart had already claimed fame by pursuing and harassing routed Union forces in July 1861 as the federals ran from defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, or Manassas.

At the request of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Stuart and some 1,500 riders set out from Richmond on the intelligence-gathering mission that would encircle McClellan's Union forces and lead to the capture of dozens of Union soldiers. Though not strategically important, Stuart's ride would boost Southern war morale and prove cause for embarrassment for the Union Gen. McClellan. Stuart isn't the only headache for McClellan this week.

The Associated Press reports in a dispatch June 14, 1862, that a small group of Confederate troops have struck at Union forces in an area of the Pamunkey River in Virginia — firing on them and reminding the enemy that theyw ill resist all enemy efforts. "The rebels ... burnt two schooners, some wagons, and drove off the mules," AP reported.

The dispatch said Confederate shooters also killed two men on a passing train but the paymaster jumped from the train and hid in the woods all night to evade capture. Despite taking Confederate fire, "the train never stopped," the report added.

The Associated Press


Vintage Baseball

 From KETC, St. Louis.

Vintage Base Ball is base ball (yes, it was spelled two words prior to the 1880s) played by the rules and customs of the 19th Century. The players (sometimes called ballists) wear period reproduction uniforms, either with long trouser and shield shirt, or a later style lace shirt and knickers. They recreate the game based on rules and research of the various decades of the mid-to-late nineteenth century.

The playing of vintage base ball can be seen at open-air museums, tournament re-enactments and city parks. It is played on both open grass fields and modern baseball diamonds. Spectators may consider vintage base ball to be a new sport, however, some clubs have been in existence since the 1980s. Vintage base ball is a reflection of how baseball existed at an earlier time.

Most vintage base ball clubs in the VBBA play the game of base ball according to the rules of the late 1850s, 1860s and 1880s. Many clubs have adopted the rules recorded in the first Beadle's Dime Base Ball Player, published in 1860, which recounted the third meeting of the National Association of Base Ball Players. Proper rules interpretation is an important aspect to the game.

The American Legion Post in Smithton, Illinois and the Lt. George E. Dixon Camp of the Sons of Confederte Veterans will be a hosting a Vintage Base Ball game in the fall of 2012. Details will be announcd soon.


This week in the Civil War - June 3, 1862

Battle of Memphis
This week 150 years ago in the Civil War opens with Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beuregard ordering his troops to abandon Fort Pillow in Tennessee and, soon after, nearby Memphis. Federal forces have recently seized the nearby northeast Mississippi rail junction of Corinth, prompting Beauregard's move.

His forces remove guns and supplies from Fort Pillow as they begin their withdrawal. Union forces occupying Corinth essentially control a key railroad line, several rail links between Memphis and other points in the South. On June 6, 1862, Union gunboats and rams on the Mississippi River open up the naval battle of Memphis before dawn, approaching from just north of that city. In an hour and a half of fighting, the Union sinks or captures all but one of the Confederate vessels — mostly converted river steamers — that are seeking to defend Memphis. Spectators line the riverbanks, watching the battle that opens with long-range volleys from the federal attackers.

The fight descends into shooting and chaotic attempts at close range by opposing ships to ram rival vessels. The Confederate fleet is defeated. Soon after, the Union flag is raised in Memphis as the city surrenders. A vital Southern city and trading center on the Mississippi has fallen into Union hands. The Associated Press, in a dispatch June 13, 1862, reports the destruction is great around Corinth as the Union takes control there. "The Confederate army has stripped, for food, the whole country north of Corinth, and many of the inhabitants are in a starving condition," AP reports.

It adds Confederate forces retreating from the Union forces left behind "half burned locomotives" and spies and deserters report the Confederate army there to be "greatly disorganized, mutinous and deserting."

The Associated Press