This Day in the Civil War: 1/28/11

Tuesday, Jan. 28, 1862

Flag Officer Andrew Foote, after consultation with Gen. Grant, informed Gen. Halleck that they thought Ft. Henry could be successfully taken with four gunboats and the troops who were presently available. Halleck protested that the river was flooding, and he wanted to wait until the roads were better. Foote protested back that because the river was flooding made it the best time to attack. Halleck won, this time. In the East the maritime actions were going a bit better: most of the ships assigned to the assault on Hatteras Inlet had gotten across the bar and into the bay, many of them having to be pulled of sandbars where they had gotten stuck. Demonstrating great capitalist ingenuity, seagoing sutlers sold supplies such as fruit to the troops still stuck on the transports and short of food.

Wednesday, Jan. 28, 1863

President Davis today sent a letter to Maj. Gen. T. H. Holmes, commander of the Confederate Department of Trans-Mississippi, imploring him to see to the defenses of both Vicksburg and Port Hudson, La. “The loss of either of the two positions,” he said, “…would destroy communications with the Trans-Mississippi Department and inflict upon the Confederacy an injury which I am sure you have not failed to appreciate.” Unfortunately Davis would be proven entirely correct. Equally unfortunate, Holmes was quite aware of this as well, but never was sent the manpower or supplies that would have been required to keep the river in Confederate hands. The lack of coordination of the overall defense, and actions of the various armies in East and West, was one of the shortcomings that doomed the secessionist cause.

Thursday, Jan. 28, 1864

There were occasions when the US Army felt the need for a ship that the US Navy did not feel the need to provide. Thus it came about that the Army procured some ships of their own, and one of them was busy off the southern shores today. It was a successful joint Army-Navy maneuver today as the US Army steamship “Western Metropolis” captured the British blockade-runner “Rosita” off the southern coast of Florida near Key West. Thanks to the efforts of the Army crew, and two Navy officers, Acting Lt. Lewis W. Pennington and Acting Master Daniel S. Murphy, who chanced to be on board, the cargo was successfully confiscated. The cargo consisted of the goods that could be resold at the highest profit in the Southern cities suffering under the afflictions of war: liquor and cigars.

Saturday, Jan. 28, 1865

One of the last hopes of the Confederate Navy, the CSS “Stonewall”, had had an interesting career already for a ship that had never fired a shot in anger. She had been constructed in France for the Confederacy. After some arm-twisting by the US government the order was cancelled and the ship sold to Denmark for use in the Schleswig-Holstein War. That conflict ended unexpectedly and the Danes refused to pay for the ship. It was purchased in Copenhagen by Confederate agent Capt. Thomas J. Page who named it the “Sphinx.” Four days ago she had made rendezvous with the CSS “City of Richmond” at Belle Isle in Quiberon Bay, France and by today she was was fully provisioned with crew, arms and supplies. All she was short of was coal. The “City of Richmond”, and “Stonewall” left port together, with the Stonewall under sail instead of steam to save fuel.

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