This Day in the Civil War

Saturday June 15 1861
ROCK RIDES RAILROAD RUDELY

All was chaos around Harpers Ferry, Va. Different Confederate armies were moving into and out of the vicinity, and Union forces were doing likewise. Everyone destroyed as much as they could, to deny it to the enemy. In one case, Union engineers had to explode a 100-ton boulder which was found on the tracks of the B&O Railroad near, appropriately enough, Point of Rocks, Md. Although it was assumed that this misdeed had been perpetrated by retreating Confederates, no one has ever figured out how they did it.



Sunday June 15 1862
SHENANDOAH SNEAKY SURPRISE SUSPECTED

Gen. John C. Fremont had a simple job description: stop Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, preferably by defeating his forces and capturing or killing him. At the moment he couldn’t even find him, nor figure out if he was going to be reinforced in the Valley or move out of it. Lincoln had a guess: Jackson “is much more likely to go to Richmond than Richmond is to come to him.” Lincoln’s guess was quite correct. Jackson was on the move.



Monday June 15 1863
MILROY MAKES MORTIFYING MISTAKE

Gen. Robert H. Milroy had been warned that Confederate forces were nearing his position at Winchester, Va. He had even been warned that there were quite a lot of them. He did not seem to realize that it was the entire Army of Northern Virginia. By the time he decided to pull out, about 1 a.m., it was too late--part of Ewell’s corps, under Edward Johnson, was behind him at Stephenson’s Depot. Milroy lost 4000 men, mostly taken prisoner, and many tons of supplies.



Wednesday June 15 1864
POINTLESS PROBLEMS PREVENT PETERSBURG PUSH

Petersburg, Va., the back door to Richmond, should have fallen today. Had it done so, the war could easily have been ended in the East in weeks if not days. Instead, a combination of delays, errors, misunderstood orders, inaccurate maps and, of all things, lack of rations, allowed 3000 Confederates under the occasionally brilliant Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard to hold off 16,000 Federal troops long enough to receive reinforcements. Grant had succeeded in tricking Lee into thinking his army was still north of the James River while actually sneaking them across on pontoon bridges. It all went for naught.

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