This Day in the Civil War

Wednesday May 1 1861

In one of his first orders as commander of the state forces of Virginia, Confederate Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee sent a colonel to take further volunteer troops to Harper’s Ferry, Va. His instructions were to take all the equipment for gun and cannon manufacturing, as well as any munitions found, and move them South. The colonel in question was one Thomas J. Jackson, to whom Lee would give many orders in the future.

Thursday May 1 1862

The official change of administration occurred today in New Orleans, La. Having been taken by the fleet of Admiral Farragut, it was turned over today to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler for military administration. His tenure was noted by great efficiency in such things as sanitation and engineering, and great difficulties in getting along with the local populace. His dealings with the women of the city would prove particularly strained.

Friday May 1 1863

Union Gen. Joseph Hooker had taken 70,000 Union troops across the Rappahannock to bring battle to the Confederates. Robert E. Lee had to leave 10,000 men in Fredericksburg, but brought 47,000 men to the gathering. To everyone’s confusion, after crossing the river and moving forward, Hooker stopped and pulled back on the defensive. Lee consulted with Stonewall Jackson over a cracker barrel, and made the daring decision to split his already outnumbered army, sending Jackson around to attack the Union right.

Sunday May 1 1864

As the summer fighting season got seriously underway, the difficulty for Lee and the Confederate military was figuring out which way they would be attacked from first. The main choices involved Gen. William T. Sherman’s army in Georgia, Gen. U.S. Grant in northern Virginia, and the Peninsula. The latter seemed most likely as Gen. Butler’s men were ferried up the York River to West Point by the US Navy.

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