This Day in the Civil War

Friday, Feb. 28 1862

Gen. George McClellan had two nicknames. “Little Mac” referred merely to his stature. “Slow Mac”, on the other hand, was of more military importance. Today Lincoln had to write a note asking why Mac was not moving on Harper’s Ferry, Va. Writing quickly , at any rate, McClellan explained that the bridged were down, and he needed pontoons to build new ones. The boats carrying the pontoons, alas, were too big to get through the locks on the Potomac River.

Saturday, Feb. 28 1863

Commander J.L. Worden, former commander of the original USS Monitor, was now at the helm of the USS Montauk operating on the Ogeechee River south of Savannah, Ga. He saw the CSS Nashville run aground in front of Ft. McAllister, and started firing. The ship, which had been sold as a privateer and was now named Rattlesnake, caught fire; the fire reached her magazine and she exploded. Worden, sailing happily away, himself hit a torpedo and had to beach Montauk on a mud bar to effect repairs.

Sunday, Feb. 28 1864

One of the largest camps for the confinement of Union prisoners of war was right in the Confederate capital at Richmond, Va. This was not comfortable for either side, and the city was frequently swept with rumors of riots and escapes. Today the threat was real: a contingent of 3500 Union cavalry, led by Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, was on its way to free the men. Kilpatrick might have been known for some recklessness: his nickname was “Kill-cavalry”.

Tuesday, Feb. 28 1865

William Tecumseh Sherman had pretty much finished up the conquest of South Carolina, and was nearing the North Carolina state line. Gen. Joseph Johnston, CSA, was at Charlotte, N.C. and his state of occupation at the moment was one of desperation. He was short of even small boys and old men, as nearly any who could tote a gun were with the armies already. He did the best he could.

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