This Day in the Civil War

Tuesday May 21 1861

A deal was cut in St. Louis, Mo. today between Gen. William S. Harney and Gen. Sterling Price, both of the Union army, agreeing that Price would command the state militia to maintain order. The only problem with this in some people’s eyes was that Price was well-known to be pro-secession. Harney, who seemed to be much more concerned that the St. Louis Riots not be renewed, even promised in this deal that he would not bring in Federal officers as long as order was maintained. Pro-union locals and officers were not amused.

Wednesday May 21 1862

“Foot cavalry” was what they were beginning to call the soldiers of Thomas J. Jackson, for the speed with which they could maneuver up and down the Shenandoah Valley. These fast marchers were headed north in a section known as the Luray Valley today, headed for a town called Front Royal. There were some federal troops there, and they went out for a reconnaissance but found nothing. Gen. Banks had no real idea where Jackson was either but was heading his men north as well.

Thursday May 21 1863

The actions of the Federal Navy in the river warfare of the Western Theater is little noted today, but during the war their effects were considerable. A flotilla was sent up the Yazoo River today, its destination Yazoo City. There was a Confederate navy yard there, and its occupants did not even wait for the flotilla to arrive. As soon as its mission became known the yard was abandoned, its shops destroyed, and three ships--two steamships and an uncompleted gunboat--were burned.

Saturday May 21 1864

One of the worst curses of the Union Army was the “political generals”. One of these was Gen. Franz Siegel, a native of Germany who was massively popular among the large number of troops who were immigrants from that country. For some of these men the only phrase of English that they knew was “I fights mit Siegel!” which they would repeat if they became separated from their units. Siegel, alas, was not a very good general, and today he was replaced by Gen. David Hunter on the grounds that Siegel had not done very well in the Shenandoah Valley action recently.

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