This Day in the Civil War

Thursday July 27 1861

Gen. Benjamin Butler had not yet gained the nickname “Beast”, or even “Spoons”, but it was early in the war yet. He had been quite efficient in ridding the municipal administration of Baltimore of Southerners and Secessionists generally, but there were a few he had overlooked or not been able to lay hands on. His successor, Gen. Nathaniel Banks, corrected one of these rare oversights today. He arrested the Baltimore Chief of Police for being a Southern sympathizer.

Friday July 27 1862

It was “second verse, same as the first” as the Seven Days’ Battle entered into its third day today. For starters, this encounter is known today by an assortment of names: First Battle of Cold Harbor, Battle of the Chickahominy, or its best-known designation, the Battle of Gaines’ Mill. Again, a main attack was supposed to be supported by Stonewall Jackson’s men; again they failed to appear. A rare after-dark attack was mounted by Confederate Gens. John Bell Hood and George Pickett. It was initially successful in breaking through the Union lines, but again, there was no reinforcement or backup, and they had to withdraw.

Saturday July 27 1863

It did not seem like a great bit of timing at the moment. A massive Rebel army was headed into US territory. One army was slightly preoccupied with a siege, and was in Vicksburg, Mississippi besides. The other army, that of the Potomac, was much closer but not famous for fast moving. So was this the best time to change commanders of this army? That was precisely what Abraham Lincoln did today, ignominiously sacking Joseph Hooker and replacing him with the dour, uncommunicative and little known commander of the army’s Fifth Corps, George Gordon Meade. Already on the march, Meade had to be awakened in his tent to be told of the change of command. While Meade had to cope with this, the Confederates roamed the interior of Pennsylvania almost at will.

Monday July 27 1864

It may have been an attempt by Gen. William T. Sherman to escape the accusation that he was a “sidler”, a flanker, one who would rather defeat his enemies by maneuver than headlong combat. Whatever the reasons, today saw the assault of the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of the Tennessee, under Sherman’s command, on the Confederate defenders of Big and Little Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia. The Southern forces were dug in and well supplied. There was even a third Union force, the Army of the Ohio, that hit the Confederate left flank. It was all in vain. Nearly 2000 Union troops were killed or wounded. It was Sherman’s worst defeat, and a Southern victory so encouraging that generations later parents still named their sons Kennesaw Mountain.

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