This Day in the Civil War

Wednesday June12 1861

There were some states that were solidly for or against secession--and then there were the border states where the issue could easily have gone either way. In Missouri a meeting had been held yesterday between the governor, Claiborne Jackson, and the head of Federal forces in the state, Nathaniel Lyon. Lyon declared that Jackson would have no say in the disposition of his men. Jackson broke off the conference and headed home for Jefferson City. Today he issued a call for 50,000 militia, saying that the Federals were trying to take over the state.

Thursday June 12 1862

One of the classic maneuvers of the early war began today as the cavalry of Gen. J.E.B. Stuart set forth on their march around the Army of the Potomac. Setting out at 2 a.m. from their camp near Port Republic, Va., with 1200 men, Stuart actually accomplished little of a military nature, but did succeed in hugely humiliating the Union commander, Gen. George McClellan, and his force. It also reinforced the idea that the Southern cavalry was inherently superior to that of the North.

Friday June 12 1863

With the corps of Gen. James Ewell still in the lead, the entire Army of Northern Virginia was on the move--northwards. They were passing behind the Blue Ridge Mountains, and approaching the fords and bridges of the Potomac River. Minor skirmishing occurred in Cedarville, Middletown and Newtown. Larger fighting did not occur because, incredibly, Army of the Potomac commander Gen. Joseph Hooker had not yet bestirred his men to pursue.

Sunday June 12 1864

The Army of the Potomac appeared to give up after several days of bloody but inconclusive fighting at Cold Harbor, Va. They had a very slick surprise in mind, though. After pulling back in apparent dejection, they went on a very fast march towards the James River. There, in an operation long planned, they immediately crossed the bridgeless river on pontoons which had been previously placed. The entire army, except for Warren’s corps which was covering the movement, was soon in place near Petersburg.

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