This Day in the Civil War

Thursday May 2 1861
ELMER ELLSWORTH EXECUTES ENTRANCE

Despite yesterday’s vote by the Maryland House of Delegates to remain in the Union, the safety of Washington, D.C. was by no means assured. Troops from various states continued to be raised and sent to the defense of the capital. Arriving today were the Fire Zouaves from New York. Their “Turkish” looking costumes of baggy red pants and short blue jackets were distinctive. Their commander, E. Elmer Ellsworth, would be one of the first casualties of battle.



Friday May 2 1862
LINCOLN LAMBASTS LATEST LEADER

A constant theme of communications between President Lincoln and his generals in the field was impatience. Few letters were written than did not request movement, action, or battle, or at least information on when such activities might get underway. Today George McClellan receive a note that his request for heavy guns “alarms me--chiefly because it argues indefinite procrastination. Is anything to be done?” Lincoln wanted to know.



Saturday May 2 1863
CHANCELLORSVILLE CONFRONTATION CONTINUES

As it had been planned yesterday, Stonewall Jackson took his army around to the Federal right. He was observed, but the Federals misunderstood and thought he was retreating. Late in the afternoon Southern forces hit the ill-trained, ill-led and utterly unprepared 11th Corps of O. O. Howard. Some units fought valiantly; some ran at the first shot. The line collapsed. As Jackson rode back to his lines in the dusk he was hit by a number of shots from his own men. The arm wound, although serious, was not thought to be life-threatening by the standards of the day.



Monday May 2 1864
CONFEDERATE CONGRESS CONDUCTS CONFERENCE

Under the Confederate Constitution, the Congress was to meet for a new session every second year. Thus it was that today the Second Congress opened for the conduct of business. The first item was a report from the President. Jefferson Davis reported that it was beginning to seem unlikely that the nation would receive official recognition by any European government, but that military efforts were going well and should lead soon to victory. Little has changed in political speeches from that day to this.

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