This Day in the Civil War

Wednesday Jan. 8, 1862

Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson is famous, in legend, for being both a brilliant fighting general, as well as something of a nut, perpetually sucking on lemons. As it turns out many of these stories are just that, or at best exaggerations. Jackson held many beliefs that, while common today, were indeed odd in his own time. His health, particularly eyesight and digestion, was poor for most of his life and he ate fruits and vegetables whenever possible to help this. He also believed in the importance of bathing, to such an extent that today, with his forces horribly weary after marching and fighting in severe cold, he called a halt for rest at Unger’s Store, Va. and Jackson ordered water heated. Both he and his men indulged in baths today.

Thursday Jan. 8 1863

Gen. John Sappington Marmaduke, CSA, was on an expedition through Missouri this winter, in another attempt to carve the border state out of Union control and into the Confederacy. The campaign out of Arkansas had gone reasonably well up until two days ago, when the town of Ozark had been successfully taken. The march then led to Springfield, Mo., but a difference arose: Springfield was defended by a Union garrison. A battle naturally was conducted, and Marmaduke’s men suffered a setback. The garrison defended Springfield successfully, and Marmaduke withdrew a short distance. The garrison did not, however, pursue.

Friday Jan. 8 1864

While there were many changes and innovations in warfare during the War for Southern Independence, one item remained as it has always been: there was no mercy given to captured spies. One such, a Confederate agent named David O. Dodd, paid the ultimate price for his activities today, after a trial which caused considerable uproar in the Western area, although it was little covered in the Eastern press. Captured in Little Rock and tried there, he was today hanged there. All over the western area changes were coming rapidly. A meeting was held in New Orleans of Union sympathizers, to organize reconstruction efforts.

Sunday Jan. 8 1865

With Gen. Ben Butler now replaced by the vastly more capable Gen. Alfred H. Terry in command of the Army side of the project, the effort to capture Ft. Fisher was in full stride today. An immense fleet had been assembled by Admiral David D. Porter, half gunships and the other half troop transports for the Army force. To allow for the fact that bad weather could blow in unexpectedly at any time, the fleet had scheduled a rendezvous point in case regrouping was needed. They arrived at this point, off Beaufort, N.C. today, and indeed had to wait for a few vessels to catch up, although the reasons were more mechanical than meteorological. The weather was holding, which did not bode well for the defenses of Wilmington, N.C.

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