This Day in the Civil War

Monday April 22 1861

Nobody wants to pay for a navy in peacetime. Now Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia was lost; the railroads south were useless, those North were cut at Baltimore and Harper’s Ferry. The Washington Navy Yard was essential. It was also running short of personnel. Today the commandant, Capt. Franklin Buchanan suffered a change of allegiance and went South. The Chief of Navy Ordnance, George Magruder, had a outbreak of pacifism and went to Canada for the duration. The entire yard was down to 150 men after the shuffling was done.

Tuesday April 22 1862

Acting Lt. Kitteridge was exceedingly proud of his command, the USS Arthur. He was even prouder of the little plan he had come up with today. He sent two smaller boats from Arthur off on a mission near Aransas Pass, Tex., and they succeded brilliantly, capturing a schooner and two sloops from the forces of the Confederate Navy. He had failed, however, to plan either defense or escape, and was promptly set upon by very irate southerners.

Wednesday April 22 1863

Admiral Farragut received his new uniform today, which caused him to fire off a letter to the assistant Secretary of the Navy. He was not sartorially impressed. “Pray do not be changing our uniform every week or two,” he wrote. “The star is the designation of an admiral and should therefore be visible...but this adding stripes until they reach a man’s elbow a great error. You must count the stripes to ascertain the officer’s rank, which at any distance is almost impossible.”

Friday April 22 1864

President Jefferson Davis was faced with a problem that would only increase as the war continued: what to do with captured Union soldiers who happened to be Negroes. One aspect seemed obvious, and he wrote as much to Gen. Leonidas Polk today: “If the negro soldiers are escaped slaves, they should be held for recovery by their owners. If otherwise, inform me.” Davis could not quite fathom that blacks who had never been slaves might still fight for the North.

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