This Day in the Civil War

Saturday April 5 1862

Yorktown, Va., was the venue for fun on the Peninsula today. Gen. John Magruder, CSA, was defending with inadequate numbers. He faced Gen. George McClellan, USA, who had twice as many men. Magruder’s solution was to march his troops around in a large circle, making it appear to McClellan’s scouts that huge numbers of reinforcements were arriving. McClellan became nervous and dug in for siege instead of attacking. The real reinforcements, under J.E. Johnston, were on the way.

Sunday, April 5 1863

North Edisto was the starting point today for the naval attack on Charleston, S. C. The first target, by necessity, was Fort Sumter, which guarded the entrance to the channel. Admiral Samuel duPont led his fleet to the Stono sandbar, where the mines began. The safe channel was marked with buoys, to protect Confederate vessels, and Adm. duPont detailed two of his gunboats to stand by and protect the buoys from being destroyed--or moved.

Tuesday, April 5 1864

The CSS Albemarle had just been launched a couple of weeks ago, but it was today causing extreme nervousness on communities along the Roanoke River of North Carolina. Plymouth, N.C., in particular was rife with rumors that the ship was of a new design of very shallow draft, which could float right over the river obstructions the Union navy had planted. In fact it had a normal depth underwater of nearly nine feet.

Wednesday, April 5 1865

While Jefferson Davis attempted to handle the politics from Danville, Robert E. Lee and the remnants of the proud Army of Northern Virginia still had to see to the defenses. They had retreated to Amelia Court House in expectation of finding supplies stored there. They were not, and Lee later wrote “This delay was fatal and could not be retrieved.” The Danville Railroad was blocked by Sheridan; Lee ordered materiel from Lynchburg instead.

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