This Day in the War: 10/28/10

Monday Oct. 28 1861

In yet another of the bureaucratic shuffles that characterized the early days of the war, one general was in and another was out in the Western theater. Confederate Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner had been more or less in charge of military affairs in Kentucky since the preemptive strike that had moved troops into a state that was supposed to be neutral ground. He was out, replaced by Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston, and the forces were named the Army of Central Kentucky. In yet another sad example of neighbor turning against neighbor, a man in Braintree, Mass., was accused of spreading pro-secessionist statements. He was ridden out of town on a rail.

Tuesday Oct. 28 1862

The lure of the sea has long been a force inducing young people to join the naval services. “Join the Navy and see the world” was not a new idea even in the days of the War. It was, of course, understood that some difficulty and sacrifice might be required of one, but the terms took on a whole new meaning today in the defense of the Confederate States of America. The Federal steamer Alleghanian was anchored at the mouth of the Rappahannock River, thought to be safe territory. A landing party led by Lt. John Taylor Wood, CSA, crept aboard the vessel as it was preparing to sail for London. They set it afire and escaped in the confusion. The ship was loaded with guano, or bat defecation, the finest fertilizer in the world.

Wednesday Oct. 28 1863

The “Cracker Line” was the name for the supply line cut through to the Union army bottled up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It had barely been established, and in fact was still under threat by Confederate forces on Raccoon Mountain overlooking vital Brown’s Ferry. The threat was obvious to both sides, and on this night in the war, Gen. James Longstreet’s men came to try to knock it out. Brig. Gen. John W. Geary’s troops in the Lookout Valley and Wauhatchie were the defenders in this action, and despite intense action and being outnumbered, the Federal lines held. It was one of the rare nighttime actions of the war. Most combat was over by 4 a.m. The Cracker Line was not threatened again.

Friday Oct. 28 1864

It was surely the end of the line for Confederate Gen. Sterling Price. Trying desperately to get his remaining men and supply wagons to the safety of Arkansas, he was set upon today by the Union forces of Gen. Samuel Ryan Curtis. They attacked today and although the Southerners fought fiercely, Curtis got reinforcements in and forced Shelby’s cavalry to withdraw. It looked like curtains as night fell. Price was saved by a telegram from the War Department in Washington, ordering most of Curtis’ troops back to their stations with Rosecrans in St. Louis. By the time Curtis got the mess straightened out with Halleck, Price had managed to slip away yet again.

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