This Day in the Civil War

Thursday May 23 1861

The United States Constitution ceased to rule in the home of so many of its writers today. The “Mother of Presidents” voted an ordinance of secession by a total of three to one. The geographic division of the vote told a different story, however. The central and eastern parts of the state voted heavily to secede. The residents of mountainous western Virginia felt differently, and voted almost to a man to remain in the Union.

Friday May 23 1862

In the Battle of Front Royal, Va., today the forces of Gen. Thomas Jackson, CSA, soundly defeated the 800 Union soldiers under Col. John Kenly, capturing many of them. The victory put Jackson’s 16,000 men in a position to cut Gen. Nathaniel Banks’ army off from reinforcements from Winchester. It also put them in a great position to attack Washington, DC, at least in the opinion of many nervous residents of the capital. This battle also featured opposing units from the same state--Maryland had representatives on both sides.

Saturday May 23 1863

It was a dark and stormy night indeed on the Mississippi River twist known as Bayou Sarah tonight. This did not make for happy minds or stomachs among the men of Gen. Nathaniel Banks who had to cross the waterway. Nevertheless the crossing was made, and the wobbly fighting men made their way to Port Hudson, where they committed some skirmishing on the Plains Store Road.

Monday May 23 1864

The Battle of the North Anna took place today, and a most confusing event it was. The actual fighting didn’t start until late afternoon as US Gen. Warren’s corps was crossing the river and was hit by A.P. Hill. Warren resisted, and while they were fighting US Gen. Wright began crossing the river too. Meanwhile Hancock’s Federals pushed their opponents out of position on the other side of the Anna. The Union army was divided, but the Confederates were unable to take advantage as they once might have.

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