This Day in the War: 02/05/10

thisdayWednesday, Feb. 5 1862

Just last week Victoria, Queen of England and head of the British Empire on which the sun still never set, and her government had declared her policy of neutrality towards the internal disputes of the United States. The first hope of the Confederate States of America for recognition by a foreign government was dashed. Today, quietly clearing the way for the massive profits that can accrue to neutral nations in time of war, she announced that, while there would be no taking of sides, there would also be no prohibitions against shipping gunpowder, arms, ammunition, or military supplies of any sort to the combatants.

Thursday, Feb. 5 1863

Gen. Joseph Hooker was settling into his new job as commander of the Army of the Potomac. Today he completely rearranged it. The former system of dividing the army into Grand Divisions was abolished. In its place were set up a system of eight corps. Named commanders of same were Gen. John Reynolds, Darius Couch, George Meade, John Sedgwick, William Farrar “Baldy” Smith, Franz Sigel, Henry W. Slocum and the infamous Dan Sickles, whose major previous experience with violence was shooting a man he caught having an affair with his wife. (He was acquitted of murder by pleading temporary insanity, the first time this plea was used in America.)

Friday, Feb. 5, 1864

General William T. Sherman led his men this day on another leg of the trip from Vicksburg. Specifically, they left the vicinity of Bolton Depot and marched to Meridian, a distance of some eighteen miles. There was still no formal, organized opposition to Sherman’s march. However, that did not mean that the people of the countryside were thrilled to have them come to visit. The entire trip was so plagued with snipers, traps, deadfalls and other impediments that the men referred to it as an eighteen-mile skirmish. They did, however, make it to Meridian.

Sunday, Feb. 5 1865

Boydton Plank Road, and the area known as Hatcher’s Run, were the assigned destination for the Federal II and V Corps today. Moving out from City Point, Va., and accompanied by a unit of cavalry, the two corps’ were the target of sniping and harassment, but little that even approached the level of skirmishing. The real point of the maneuver was to further extend the lines around what was left of Lee’s army, forcing him to extend and thin his lines in defense. The other, more subtle aspect of the well-publicized move was to rub in the point that while the South was desperately short of manpower, the North had whole army corps not yet devoted to the fight.

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