This Day in the Civil War

Saturday, March 29 1862

Middleburg, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley, was the scene of a conflict between Union and Confederate cavalry and infantry. In a somewhat unusual outcome, it was a complete Union victory. The reason for this was the employment of a new and horrible weapon of war: the coffee grinder. This was the nickname of a new device, given because of the large handle which had to be turned to fire it. Much work was needed before it became reliable enough to use on a regular basis, by which time it was known as the machine gun.

Sunday, March 29 1863

The Union occupation of Jacksonville, Florida, was not a happy one for the residents of the town. Coming ashore from the USS Norwich, the soldiers under the orders of Commander Duncan, ransacked and looted. The rationale, of course, was not only to gather supplies for the Federals’ own use, but to deny the use of anything else to the enemy. Fires were set, and in the end the Unionists evacuated back to their ship leaving the town in ruins.

Tuesday March 29 1864

Admiral David D. Porter had the assignment of getting the naval forces in location for an advance on Shreveport, La. The difficulty was that there was a set of rapids at Alexandria, La., that were difficult to get over in the best of times. These were not such times, as the water level was low due to a prolonged drought. Porter got the Army transports past, but not the Navy gunboats. A hospital ship was so torn up that it sank.

Wednesday March 29 1865

A force of more than 125,000 men, combining the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James, were moving with Grant against Petersboro and Richmond. Lee had over 30 miles of front to guard, and not enough troops for the job. The plan had originally been to pull out and unite with Johnston in North Carolina. Now Grant’s men were moving against the retreat route. Lee sent Fitzhugh Lee and George Pickett in an attempt to counter.

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