This Day in the Civil War

Tuesday July 23 1861

The Battle of Manassas was a tremendous shock to both sides. While there had been the initial blast of the firing on Ft. Sumter, Bull Run was where American fought American hand to hand. Few had ever thought it would come to outright bloodshed, and even those did, assumed that there would be no more than one battle. Today the command changes started, with John Dix appointed to the Department of Maryland and W.S. Rosecrans getting the huge Department of Ohio.

Wednesday July 23, 1862

A few days ago Gen. John Pope, head of the newly created Army of Virginia, had showed his disdain for popularity by announcing that the populace of the area would be charged for any damage committed by Confederate agents to railroads or telegraph lines. Today he went even further, announcing that any male who refused to swear loyalty to the Union would be shipped South, and if found to have returned without permission, shot as a spy.

Thursday July 23 1863

The plan was straightforward: Gen. Meade assigned Maj. Gen. William French to take his 3rd Corps through Manassas Gap and cut the Army of Northern Virginia in half. Like many of Meade’s plans in the aftermath of Gettysburg, this one just didn’t work out either. Lee knew the passes were there and he had them all guarded. A fierce resistance by a brigade stalled the assault for hours. In those hours, Longstreet and Hill’s corps managed a last burst of speed into the Luray Valley and safety.

Saturday July 23 1864

Abraham Lincoln often seemed to have an instinct for what enemy armies were going to do next. This was frequently a better instinct than the commanders in the field had, as was proven by a telegram today to Gen. “Black Dave” Hunter in Harper’s Ferry. “Are you able to take care of the enemy when he turns back on you, as he probably will on finding that Wright has left?” Sure enough, Early turned and headed for Kernstown. Hunter sent Crook out to meet him.

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