This Day in the Civil War

Sunday July 7 1861

Charles Vallandigham, former member of the US House of Representatives from Ohio, was an ardent abolitionist. He had held conciliatory meetings with the likes of John Brown (before the Harper’s Ferry raid, naturally) and others. Even stronger than his desire to end slavery, though, was his desire to avoid war, and his wing of his party would become known as Peace Democrats. Today he went on a speaking tour of Ohio regiments serving in Northern Virginia. There was a decided lack of enthusiasm for his message: at one stop he was pelted with stones, rubbish and angry shouts.

Monday July 7 1862

George McClellan’s commander in chief was coming to pay a call at Harrison’s Landing today. The little dock on the James River was to be the scene of a very difficult conversation. Lincoln’s intent was to discuss McClellan’s failure to do his job (such as destroying Lee’s army and capturing the Confederate capital of Richmond) during the Seven Days campaign just concluded. McClellan, on the other hand, thought that he was doing such a fine job militarily that he could now extend to giving Lincoln political advice. One part of this counsel was to be that Union troops should do nothing to interfere with the practice of slavery.

Tuesday July 7 1863

There were skirmishes in such varied places as Harper’s Ferry, Downsville, and the aptly named Funkstown, Md. These were all related, in one way or another, to Robert E. Lee’s desperate attempt to get his battered but unbowed Army of Northern Virginia back to the territory of their name. Lincoln, although elated about the news of the fall of Vicksburg, did not quite seem to understand that although Lee was fleeing, Meade was not pursuing. He wrote to Halleck, “Now, if Gen. Meade can complete his work...the rebellion will be over.”

Thursday July 7 1864

The battles for Charleston, or at least her harbor, just kept on keeping on. Today the gunboats USS Lehigh and Montauk continued firing onto the banks of the Stono River at Confederate riflemen. They had been chased off Morris Island the day before but persisted in trying to hamper the Union disembarkation, and rebuild fortifications.

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