This Day in the Civil War

Friday July 19 1861

John Pope was a West Point graduate and a veteran of the Mexican War. He was also quite a large fellow, with a mouth to match and an ego that exceeded both. Today he, in his capacity as a Union brigadier general of volunteers in Missouri, he announced that anyone who took up arms against the government would be immediately and severely dealt with. As at least half the state was of secessionist leanings the threat was worth approximately one pinch of owl dung.

Saturday July 19 1862

Flag Officer Tattnal of the Confederate States Navy had had very bad luck in his timing and assignments. As a commander he had been in charge when Samuel duPont’s fleet chased him out of Hilton Head, S.C. Then he had had to try to get the CSS Virginia out of the disaster of the capture of Norfolk. As the James River was too shallow for the ship to sail in, Tattnal ordered her blown up and was court-martialed for it. Today the court acquitted him, with honor, for taking the only alternative possible.

Sunday July 19 1863

Col. John Hunt Morgan had been on one of his periodic raids into “secure” Union territory across the Ohio River for several days. His command of around 1200 cavalrymen now faced a problem: getting back across the river to safety in Kentucky. The USS Moose and the steamer Allegheny Belle stood in his way, and Union militia and regulars were closing in from behind. Finally having to fight his way out, he lost 120 killed and nearly 700 captured in what would be the only Civil War battle fought on Ohio soil. The survivors decided July in Pennsylvania might be nice.

Tuesday July 19, 1864

George Crook and his better-known colleague Gen. David “Black Dave” Hunter had been the scourge of Confederate forces (not to mention civilians) in the Shenandoah Valley for most of the summer, and Jubal Early had been sent in part to decrease their depredations. “Black Dave” did not get his nickname for nothing and went, with Crook, on the hunt himself. They caught Early at Berryville, and a nasty fight was held at Berry Ford. This berry-battle caused Early to decide to retreat to Winchester.

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