This Day in the War: 02/02/11

Sunday, Feb. 2, 1862

Flag Officer Andrew Foote, commander of the Union naval forces on the Mississippi and tributaries, held his gunboat crews to strict standards. He issued these orders to the four crews sailing today: “Let it also be distinctly impressed upon the mind of every man firing a gun that, while the first shot may be either of too much elevation or too little, there is no excuse for a second wild fire, as the first will indicate the inaccuracy of the aim of the gun…Let it be reiterated that random firing is not only a mere waste of ammunition, but, what is far worse, it encourages the enemy.”

Monday, Feb. 2, 1863

Federal Col. C. R. Ellet took his ramship Queen of the West, covered her decks with confiscated cotton bales, and went under the guns of Vicksburg. Her mission: destroy the steamer “City of Vicksburg”. Alas, the ramming failed when the current caught the Queen’s stern and she lost momentum. She shot incendiaries at her foe, which proved not to be a great idea as it immediately started a tit-for-tat: the “City” shot incendiaries back and set the cotton bales on fire, nearly asphyxiating several of Ellet’s men. All fires were eventually extinguished and little harm was done.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 1864

Despite the vast superiority of the Union naval forces over the Confederate, as reflected in the ever-tightening noose that they were inflicting on shipments into Southern ports, things did not all go the Union way at this point in the war. On this day, Confederate navy men, manning inconspicuous small boats rather than great warships, snuck up on the U.S. gunboat “Underwriter”, boarded her and captured her in the Neuse River near New Berne, N.C. The intent was to sail her into Confederate port and switch her allegiance, but such was not to be the case. Unable to get underway, and threatened by other Union ships, they had no choice but to set her afire, sink her, and escape.

Thursday, Feb. 2, 1865

Gen. William T. Sherman’s march through Carolina was being slowed far more by foul weather and high rivers than the efforts of Confederate resistors. On this day his right wing, the 20th Corps under Gen. O. O. Howard, was on, if not in, the Salkehatchie River. Nasty skirmishing took place all along the river: Lawtonville, Barker’s Mill, Duck Branch, and Whippy Swamp. Nothing resembling full-scale resistance, however, was forthcoming.

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