This Day in the Civil War

Friday, March 21 1862

Surprisingly enough in this very active spring, on this day very little in the way of war-related activity occurred. Flag Officer Foote was still shooting at Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River, but that was about it. This may have given residents of Richmond time to visit their doctors. Brandy, whiskey, and other distilled beverages were in such short supply that they were dispensed by drugstores, and only on doctor’s prescription. Amazingly, a certain amount of bootleg trade also flourished.

Saturday, March 21 1863

The joint Army-Navy expedition, intended to work through obscure waterways to get in behind Vicksburg, was progressing slowly. The waterways in question, difficult enough to navigate with a flatboat, were definitely not designed to accommodate ironclads. The troops, under Sherman’s command, followed along the banks. Today they reached Steele’s Bayou, and were harassed by Confederate sharpshooters.

Monday, March 21 1864

A group with an interesting name got a fascinating talk today from a man not previously known for expertise in economics. The New York Workingmen’s Democratic Republican Association received a lecture on “Property” by Abraham Lincoln. “Property is the fruit of labor,” he said. “Property is desirable--it is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another.”

Tuesday, March 21 1865

The Battle of Bentonville went into a third day today as the dug-in Confederates simply refused to yield. Eventually US Maj. Gen. J.A. Mower’s men managed to flank the Confederate left, which endangered a bridge that was the last avenue of retreat. Johnston fended off the threat until nightfall, then retreated. In the face of an army of 100,000, with fewer than 20,000 effectives left, he had little choice. Casualties counts were 1500 Union, 2600 Confederate, a large proportion of whom were prisoners.

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