This Day in the War: 1/12/11

Sunday, Jan 12 1862

President Lincoln was increasingly distressed by the lack of movement of the armies in Virginia. A meeting of the upper leadership of the army had been conducted yesterday Today the same group met again, but this time at the White House, and the presidential cabinet was included in the parlay. A totally unexpected attendee show up at the last minute: General of the Armies George McClellan. The reason he was unexpected was that he had been very severely ill for quite some weeks now, with what is believed to have been typhoid. As he had been incapacitated he really had nothing to contribute to the stock of information exchanged, and the suspicion was that he showed up mainly to make sure there would be no talk of replacing him.

Monday Jan. 12 1863

The opening of a session of the legislature is always a good opportunity for that activity a president loves above all else: speechmaking. Today marked the opening day of the Third Session of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, and Jefferson Davis made the most of it. The military situation, he said was going well, pointing to the halting of Federal operations in Tennessee, around Vicksburg, and in Virginia. (He was correct, but the halts were mostly due to it being the dead of winter.) Davis also noted the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation in the U.S. and there he took a bit of poetic license, claiming that its passage encouraged slaves to rise up and murder their masters, and that this action would lead to the extermination of the Negro race. This, he said, proved that Republicans were not the friends of blacks that they claimed to be.

Tuesday, Jan. 12 1864

Although not technically a Civil War operation, Federal troops were obliged to take part in two days of hostilities, commencing today, in the rather unlikely setting of Matamoros, Mexico. Since the days of America’s last great military adventure, the Mexican War, the political situation south of the border had existed in fluctuating states of stability. This was not one of the more stable times, and two political factions of roughly equal influence were contending for control of this city. Federal forces were obliged to step in when it seemed that the person and residence of the American consul, L. Pierce, had become a target of hostilities. Pierce was, at the end of the action, escorted out of town for his own protection.

Thursday, Jan. 12, 1865

The largest American fleet ever assembled up to this point began to assemble from Beaufort, SC, up the Atlantic towards the detested Fort Fisher, at Wilmington, NC. Major Gen. Alfred H. Terry, commanding the Army forces, watched as a large number of troop transports got underway. They steamed under the protection of Admiral Porter’s fleet of some sixty gunboats. The plan, when they reached Wilmington, was for the Navy to launch a bombardment, followed by the landing of 10,000 soldiers and marines for the actual seizure. In defense, the ramship CSS “Columbia” was hurriedly released from the dock in Charleston where she had been built. Unfortunately the boat’s first act was to run aground, where she was stuck fast. Attempts to refloat her, at hideous effort, continued until mid-February.

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