This Day in the Civil War

Sunday July 21 1861

This was it. The battle that would settle, and thereby end, the Civil War. Near the little town of Manassas, Virginia, where the creek called Bull Run flowed, Gen. Irwin McDowell marched through the night to attack the Confederate left, hoping to roll up the flank. They bounced off Thomas J Jackson instead, who got the nickname “Stonewall” this day from Bernard Bee, who was soon shot dead. This afternoon the Confederate attack on the Union left had better success and amateur soldiers began to retreat through sightseers who had come out from Washington to view the spectacle.

Monday July 21 1862

Nashville, Tennessee, was technically back in the benevolent embrace of the Federal Government, but things were not at all comfortable for the Union Army there. They were safe enough while in the city itself, and gunboats patrolled the Cumberland River against harassment from that quarter. The countryside, however, was thick with Confederate partisans. Many bridges suffered arson assaults under cover of darkness, particularly on the Chattanooga road, and several Federal pickets found themselves enjoying Confederate prison accommodations.

Tuesday July 21 1863

Since the end of the battle of Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee’s major interest had been getting his battered army into the safety of Virginia behind the shelter of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They were now there but McClellan was close by. Only the furious fighting of the cavalry in the numerous mountain passes kept him at bay. Lee began to be concerned that the Union army would soon be between him and Richmond.

Thursday July 21 1864

Maj. Gen. Francis Blair’s total military experience consisted of being the son Lincoln’s Postmaster General. He proved to be one of the few “political generals” who actually had some talent for the job as his men today defeated renown Southern artillerist Patrick Cleburne. The point of contention was a rise known as Bald Hill, later renamed Leggett’s Hill. From the top of this hill by the end of the day, Blair and his men looked down on the city of Atlanta. It was very hot in Georgia in July this year, in more ways than one.

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