This Day in the War: 11/29/10

Friday Nov. 29 1861
CONFLAGRATIONS CONSUME CAROLINA COTTON

Perhaps it was premature, possibly it was downright hysteria. In any case the concern was real, and it showed the level of dedication people had to the Confederate cause. The Union blockade was by now beginning to take serious effect. The next step, it was assumed, was going to be a Union attack in the region of either Georgia or South Carolina. Bombardment of installations in Charleston harbor had, after all, been going on for some time and it was felt that troops would not be far behind. Whipped up by newspaper headlines, planters who had just completed the cotton harvest were burning it. Some fires were so big they could be seen by the same Union ships of the blockade. “Let the torch be applied,” said the Charleston “Mercury”, “whenever the invader pollutes our soil.”

Saturday Nov. 29 1862
CANALS CAUSE COAL CONGESTION

The Union blockade of the Confederacy’s East Coast ports was in full steam by this time. Unfortunately, “full steam” was a literal term in these days, and the vessels of the blockade required huge amounts of coal, delivered on a regular basis, in order to remain on station. Virtually all the coal the US Navy used came from the anthracite mines of eastern Pennsylvania, a region not blessed with many navigable rivers. To solve this problem, the tycoons who were in the process of creating the great industries of America dug a canal system to parallel the rivers, primarily the Lehigh and Susquehanna and thence to the Delaware. Never very stable, and prone to collapse in years of rough winters, parts of this canal system remain in existence.

Sunday Nov. 29 1863
SLEET SABOTAGES SOUTHERN SUCCESS

Gen. James Longstreet was one of the greatest corps commanders the South ever produced, but as today’s action demonstrates, he frequently did not do so well when in independent command. It was his final chance to capture the city of Knoxville, Tenn., and to complicate matters, he had to do it during a sleet storm. The objective was called Ft. Sanders in some accounts, Ft. Loudon in others, but it was the key to the Union defenses of the city. Attacks started at dawn, in horrid conditions so slick that it was difficult to merely walk, much less charge, fire and reload a gun. Despite these handicaps Longstreet’s men got as far as planting their flag on the parapet of the fort—but they could get no farther, and were finally driven back. Longstreet, knowing that Bragg had been defeated at Chattanooga and could provide no assistance, decided he had done all he could, and began making arrangements to move his men back to Virginia.

Tuesday Nov. 29 1864
CHIVINGTON COMMITS CHEYENNE CATASTROPHE

Sand Creek, Colorado Territory, was the site of a large camp of Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians, about 40 miles south of Denver. Nervous about thefts and isolated attacks which had been occurring since most Federal cavalry forces had been called East to fight in the Civil War, Denver citizens demanded that something be done. U.S. Col. J. M. Chivington, who had done some good work against Confederate forces in New Mexico Territory earlier, therefore recruited around 900 volunteers and proceeded to Sand Creek. There, they attacked a village of 500, mostly women and children, without warning. Chivington was quite clear that he took, and had intended to take, no prisoners. When word of the massacre reached the East people were appalled, and the US Government eventually paid indemnities to the survivors.

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