This Day in the Civil War

Saturday May 11 1861
MISSOURI MOBS MAKE MORE MESS

Yesterday one Capt. Nathaniel Lyon had led a large Union force to take command of the St. Louis Arsenal by capturing the allegedly pro-Confederate group which had been guarding it. A riot ensued in which several people had been killed. The disturbance continued overnight, causing the mayor to order the saloons closed. Today the 5th (US) Reserve Regiment had another encounter with an angry crowd and more shots were fired, killing six or seven civilians. William Harney, Capt. Lyon’s commanding officer, returned to town and became most unhappy.



Sunday May 11 1862
CONFEDERATE CRAFT CRUELLY CRASHED

She had started out life as the USS Merrimack. Already she had been sunk once. Refloated by those who sank her, she was now the CSS Virginia and had made naval history in battle with the USS Monitor. Today they sank her again. After the loss of the Norfolk, Va., navy yards she had nowhere to go but up the James River towards Richmond, and it was discovered that the river was too shallow. A good load of gunpowder assured that she would not be refloated again.



Monday May 11 1863
CHASE CREATES CABINET CRISIS

Salmon P. Chase, currently Secretary of the Treasury in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, had been put in the cabinet basically so Lincoln could keep an eye on him and his presidential ambitions. He had caused one political crisis already, back in December, by circulating petitions promoting his candidacy. Today he pulled another fast one. As usual, he submitted his resignation; as usual, Lincoln declined to use it.



Wednesday May 11 1864
STUART SHOT, SUPERIOR SADDENED

Possibly the greatest symbol of Southern military might, the “Cavalier of the Confederacy,” was James Ewell Brown Stuart, chief of the mighty rebel cavalry. With the black ostrich plume in his hat he symbolized the life; with his magnificent horsemen he gave the Yankees fits for four years. Today, in a fight with Sheridan’s men near a place called Yellow Tavern, he was fatally shot by a Union cavalryman fighting dismounted. Lee, when told, stood alone for a few minutes then said, “I can scarcely think of him without weeping.”

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