This Day in the Civil War

Tuesday, March 4 1862

Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, CSA (not to be confused with Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, CSA, who served in the western theater) was in charge of the defensive forces around Richmond, VA, at this point in the war. He was vexed with his president on this day, because Jefferson Davis was irate with him over the low level of re-enlistments in Johnston’s army, and the high number of furloughs granted. Adding to Davis’ headaches today were complaints from governors along the Mississippi that they were not being sent enough guns. The Western governors had a very legitimate complaint of not receiving sufficiencies of supplies or attention from Richmond.

Wednesday, March 4 1863

A small Union force departed from Franklin, Tennessee, today, heading for Thompson’s Station, intending to make an excursion to explore the vicinity for hostiles. In a prime example of the adage “be careful what you wish for”, they met up with a large Confederate force comprised of infantry under Van Dorn and cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest. Although they were nearly surrounded, the cavalry managed to fight their way through and escape, a tactic not unknown to Gen. Forrest himself, who had used it at Ft. Donelson. The Union infantry, however, lacked the advantage of four-footed transportation. They fought fiercely before most were compelled to surrender on the following day.

Friday, March 4 1864

Union forces under the command of Gen. William T. Sherman returned to their base camp in Vicksburg, Miss., today after completing a mission to Meridian, Miss. Their mission was to destroy the town and, by and large, they did precisely that. In Washington, Admiral John Dahlgren went to the top to try to find out what had happened to his son, Col. Ulric Dahlgren. President Lincoln, however, did not know either. The news of the disastrous failure of Gen. Judson’s cavalry raid on the prison camps of Richmond had to await the return of the separated forces. Strong hints, however, were available in the Richmond newspapers, which blazened the story of the successful defense of the city by clerks, old men, and recuperating veterans who rose from their hospital beds to fight.

Saturday, March 4 1865

The inauguration of the Lincoln-Johnson administration did not begin well. Johnson, sworn in first, had been prescribed whiskey for the pain of a medical problem. Somewhat overdosed, his speech was slurred and nearly incoherent. Lincoln, though, gave one of the great speeches of history: “With malice toward none, with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves and with all nations.....Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.”

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