This Day in the Civil War

Wednesday, Jan. 22 1862

The USS “Lexington” set forth to perform reconnaissance in advance of the planned attack on Ft. Henry, Tenn., with Brig. Gen. Charles F. Smith in charge of the project and Lt. Shirk assisting him. It was a hard winter, with much snow in the mountains and rain in the lowlands; the river was very high, and still rising. This hampered the effort, but not so much that the “Lexington” and the other union gunboats were prevented from firing a few mortar rounds at Ft. Henry. In other Naval action, Lt. Worden reported to his superiors that construction of the radical new gunboat “Monitor” was progressing on schedule. The only delay was caused by late delivery of the 11-inch guns with which the ship would be armed.

Thursday, Jan. 22, 1863

The last time U.S. Gen. Ambrose Burnside ordered his men across the Rappahannock River from Falmouth to Fredericksburg it cost the lives of around 1300 of them and wounds to 9600 more. The best idea he could come up with now? Attack Fredericksburg again. Burnside’s latest attempt to take his army across the Rappahannock was officially declared a failure today. The ceaseless rains had made it beyond human ability to move wagons and artillery on the mud-filled roads. Ironically, the mere attempt had caused great alarm in the Confederacy. Burnside’s concern now was how to get the army back to their camp opposite Fredericksburg. The term “mud march” was already entering history

Friday, Jan. 22, 1864

In a major shake-up of military commands in the western areas of the Union, Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans was appointed military governor of the Department of the Missouri. Missouri was something of a booby prize for Union generals being kicked upstairs out of combat command. This territory, although no longer under attack by official “Confederate” military forces, was riddled with militia units which had started out as “home guards” but in too many cases degenerated into bands of armed thugs. In addition, it had its own mini-civil war going on between different factions of Union supporters. The former officer, Maj. Gen. J. M. Schofield, fared no better than his numerous predecessors had at managing the mess. He would shortly be reassigned to the larger but calmer Department of the Ohio.

Sunday, Jan. 22, 1865

Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and his headquarters staff remained aboard ship at Hilton Head, SC. As this island had not yet experienced the blessing of developers, hotel construction or golf course management, the stay was not a festive one. Messages were sent to Gen. Blair, commanding the marching troops, ordering him, just this once, NOT to destroy a railroad. Sherman wanted the line, running to Branchville, SC, saved so he could use it in the future. The troops no doubt wished they could be using it now, as it would have been a great improvement on slogging through the rain-soaked mud of the roads. By all indications, the army’s destination was the much-hated Charleston, S.C.

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