This Day in the War: 08/09/10

Friday Aug. 9 1861

The tug of war on the high seas could prove exceedingly confusing to all parties involved. The preoccupation today was the schooner George G. Baker. This vessel was unquestionably American–but was it Federal or Confederate? The Confederate privateer York nabbed her first, assuming she was Union. Along came the Federal vessel USS Union and drove York away and took the prize. The crew of the Baker, now utterly confused, managed to slip away. As the Union approached again off Cape Hatteras, the crew of Baker set her afire to prevent capture at all.

Saturday Aug. 9 1862

Some called it Cedar Mountain. After today it was better known as Slaughter Mountain. Gen. John Pope was near Culpeper, Va., heading for Gordonsville. Stonewall Jackson’s corps was there in wait. However, Nathaniel Banks’ forces moved faster than expected and were in the process of beating two of Jackson’s divisions. The third division, headed by A.P. Hill, arrived in the proverbial nick of time and drove Banks’ back. He retired with his force intact.

Sunday Aug. 9 1863

The debate had gone on since long before the war about what the proper role for blacks should be in American society. Almost no one, north or south, advocated full equality with whites. Even this far ito the war, there was dispute as to whether blacks could, would or should be allowed to enlist as regular soldiers in the US Army. Despite earlier disparagement of Negro troops, Abraham Lincoln wrote today to U.S. Grant suggesting that Negro soldiers “if applied vigorously, will soon close the contest” and win the war.

Tuesday Aug. 9 1864

Ships were being loaded rapidly with ammunition at City Point, Va., so no particular note was taken of two more men carrying a large box up to one of the ships at the wharf. Sentries questioned the two at one point and they said, truthfully, that they had orders to deliver it to a barge. The orders, however, like the men, came from the Confederate Torpedo Corps. The box concealed a timer, and when it blew up, setting off the already loaded ammunition on the barge, debris scattered for hundreds of yards around, very nearly killing US Grant.

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