Friday Jan. 31 1862
ORDERS OPTIMIZE OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS
Last Monday Abraham Lincoln had issued General War Order Number One.
As seems suitable for the initial directive, Lincoln essentially had
told his generals to get off their behinds and start doing something
to bring the rebellious States back into the federal union. As this
did not produce instant martial activity, he backed it up today with
Special War Order Number One, which affected only the Army of the
Potomac. As Gen. McClellan did not seem to have gotten the drift,
Lincoln got very specific. McClellan was to go to “a point upon the
Rail Road South Westward of what is known of [as] Manassas
Junction,” to seize and occupy it. He was
welcome to take an army with him if he liked.
Saturday Jan. 31 1863
CHARLESTON CONFEDERATES CLAIM CONFINEMENT CRUSHED
In midwinter a haze often gathers over Charleston Harbor, South
Carolina. Out of the haze this morning came the shadowy forms of
Confederate gunboats Chicora and Palmetto State.
Their mission was to break the blockade strangling this major
Southern port. Surprise and fierce gunfire wreaked havoc on the
Federal ships. Mercedita was rammed, shelled, shot , run aground and
surrendered (she later got back afloat and escaped.) Keystone State
was the next target, taking shots in her boilers that killed 20 and
wounded 20 more, most of the deaths being caused by scalding steam.
Other Federal vessels were also damaged and the Confederates
withdrew completely unscathed. It was announced abroad that the
blockade was broken, but it was not. The Federals always had more
Sunday Jan. 31 1864
BANKS BEATS BUTLER’S BEASTLINESS
Ben Butler had not exactly endeared himself to the populace of New
Orleans, but in many ways he had proven to be a ideal administrator
of an occupied city. Aside from a fondness
for lining his pockets with confiscated cotton and church bells, he
had improved sanitation (probably averting a yellow fever epidemic
in the process), kept the peace and averted outright bloodshed. His
replacement, Gen. Nathaniel Banks, was not quite so adept at
politics, so today he received some advice from a master of the art.
Abraham Lincoln wrote that he was to prepare for elections. He could
“adopt any rule which shall admit to vote any unquestionably loyal
free state men and none others.” A loyalty oath was a required
ticket to this dance.
Tuesday Jan. 31 1865
AMENDMENT APPROVED; ARMIES' AUTHORITY ARRANGED
Two major actions took place in the capitals of the countries at war
today. In Washington D.C. the House of Representatives passed, by
the required two-thirds majority, the proposed Thirteenth Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment, which would outlaw slavery
anywhere in the nation, had long since passed the Senate but had
failed in the House repeatedly. There were rumors that political
deals were made this time, perish the thought. Farther South, in
Richmond an announcement was made that seemed just as inevitable.
Robert E. Lee, long concerned only with the defenses of his beloved
Virginia, was named today as commander of all the remaining armies
of the Confederacy. Had such a position as General-in-Chief been
filled far earlier, it might have made some impact on the outcome of
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