This Day in the War: 9/9/10

Monday Sept. 9 1861

The name of Blair had never been famous, but the family was influential in Union politics for generations. One scion of the clan, Francis Blair Jr., had taken the advice to “go west, young man” and was now in the thick of the struggle to keep Missouri from secession. He had helped Nathaniel Lyon until that general died leading his troops at Wilson’s Creek, and now he was trying to work with Gen. John Fremont. Fremont was not, however, making it easy. His free-spending ways and frequent party-giving were becoming an embarrassment, and Blair was fed up. He did not hesitate to let his father, the power behind the Democratic party, or his uncle Montgomery, the postmaster general, know of his feelings.

Tuesday Sept. 9 1862

As was often the case during the War of the Rebellion, Robert E. Lee had moved the Army of Northern Virginia into a summer campaign north into Maryland without any precise plan for what to do when he got there. He sat down with some of his commanders and settled on what the future design of the mission would be. Under the plan, Stonewall Jackson would split off from the rest of the army and head for Harper’s Ferry. The remaining troops would head first to Crampton’s Gap, with Longstreet assigned to take Boonesboro, Md. The set of plans was given the designation Special Order 191, and copies were made.

Wednesday Sept. 9 1863

Gen. Braxton Bragg, CSA, commander of the Army of Tennessee, had defended his state from Rosecrans’ federal Army of the Cumberland mostly by retreating. He had retreated so efficiently that he was now in Chattanooga, almost backing into Georgia. Despite Chattanooga’s superb geography for a defensive battle, Bragg abruptly abandoned the city to its fate today for fear that Rosecrans was circling to his rear and would cut him off from retreat. Gen. Longstreet had been detached from the Army of Northern Virginia to come to Bragg’s aid. Thanks to Bragg’s retreat from Knoxville, which had cost the Confederacy a valuable railroad center, Longstreet and his men had to take a more roundabout route through North Carolina and Atlanta to get there. They would not arrive for ten more days, and even then some of their luggage (guns) got lost along the way.

Friday Sept. 9 1864

Officially, there had been a complete ban on all trading in all commodities between the North and the South since very early in the war. In actual fact, like most embargoes, this ban succeeded only in artificially raising the price of commodities, particularly cotton. This resulted in profits so great that a clandestine trade, particularly along the river systems of the Mississippi, was irresistible to many. The matter was becoming serious enough, both in terms of disrespect for the law and the lack of tariff revenue, to attract official attention. There was a cabinet meeting in Washington today to discuss legalization of the trade so at least taxes could be collected.

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