This Day in the War: 10/19/10

Saturday Oct. 19 1861

Once again, no large battles or other important events occurred on this day. There was considerable scuffling and skirmishing in western Virginia, and area in considerable dispute because of the divided loyalties of the people of the mountains, who favored the Union, and those of the eastern part of the state who not only favored the Confederacy but contained its capital. Aside from this unpleasantness, there was an engagement between the USS Massachusetts and the CSS Florida off the coast of Mississippi. Near Ship Island in the region known as Mississippi Sound the two ships exchanged fire for some time, to little effect.

Sunday Oct. 19 1862

The battle of Perryville, Kentucky, had been over a week ago, but armies were still being repositioned in the aftermath of it. Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee was endeavoring to pass through the Cumberland Gap, in company with a very large quantity of supplies confiscated from the countryside. Unfortunately, these had to be carried in wagons, the wagons had to be pulled by horses, and they took up a lot of road. The Cumberland Gap is a fairly narrow passage, and getting all this through there was a considerable logistical challenge. Several regiments were ordered to pack up and be ready to march, only to wait all day for their turn, which never came, so they were ordered to unpack again and camp for the night where they were. The movement wound up taking five days to complete.

Monday Oct. 19 1863

The campaign into the north by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had looked for awhile like it would end in the Third Battle of Bull Run, or Manassas. In the end Meade had managed to pull the Army of the Potomac back to defend Washington in time, and in the end not much had happened beyond a fight at Bristoe Station. Today occurred an event known as the Buckland Races, to the great embarrassment of Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, commander of the Union cavalry. Near a little place called Buckland Mills not far from Bristoe, Kilpatrick encountered his arch-nemesis, Gen. J.E.B. Stuart. As was the usual case in such encounters, Kilpatrick was outmaneuvered promptly and forced to retreat in great haste. The Northern press was quick to dub the event the “Buckland Races.”

Wednesday Oct. 19 1864

As the pursuit continued in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, things had gone pretty much all Phil Sheridan’s way. He had chased the Confederate cavalry of Jubal Early around the landscape, whittling down his numbers with each encounter. Early did what seemed logical today: he attacked the encamped Federals so early in the morning that many were overrun and captured still in their tents and underwear. Unfortunately after initial successes some of the Confederate men stopped to loot the deserted camps. In the afternoon Sheridan, who had been in Washington, returned, reorganized, and counterattacked, driving the Southerners back to Fisher’s Hill with heavy losses. In the northernmost land event that could be considered part of the Civil War, a group of some 25 Confederate sympathizers slipped across the border from Canada into St. Albans, Vermont, planning to burn several towns and rob banks for funds for the cause. They got away with some $200,000 before townsfolk organized resistance and chased them back to Canada where they were arrested. Only $75,000 of the stolen money was recovered.

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