This Day in the Civil War

Tuesday Aug 6 1861

It was a busy day of bill-signing in Washington D.C. today. Sent by Congress to the president’s desk were bills to increase the pay for privates in the army, and to grant freedom to any slaves who were used by the Confederacy in arms or labor against the United States. A more complicated provision gave retroactive approval to any action the President had taken concerning the Army or Navy since March 4. A final act, which Lincoln signed only with reluctance, authorized confiscation of property used for purposes of insurrection.

Wednesday Aug. 6 1862

The CSS Arkansas was the biggest gunboat the Confederacy ever set sail on the Mississippi River. She and her crew had fought valiantly, and tried to do so again today in support of Breckinridge’s attempt to retake Baton Rouge from the Yankees. Set upon by four Union gunboats, her commander Henry Stevens tried to fight but could not even maneuver, as the abused engines failed. The order went out to abandon ship, and Stevens had her blown up to prevent capture. Never again would the Confederacy field large gunboats on the river. Alabama's mission lasted only 23 days but became a legend.

Thursday Aug. 6 1863

John S. Mosby was nearly the definition of a colorful Cavalry cavalier. A stint at the University of Virginia turned into a prison term after he shot a fellow student. Logically becoming interested in law he took it as a profession (after his release, of course). Joining a cavalry unit near his home in Bristol, Va, he became a terror. Today he grabbed an entire Union wagon train and escaped with wagons and contents, leaving the Yankees red-faced in fury behind him.

Saturday Aug. 6 1864

Utoy Creek is an small and obscure waterway southwest of Atlanta, Ga. It had, nevertheless, been the scene of fighting for the last three days. Sherman’s forces were endeavoring to cut the railroad lines leading south out of the city, which were the last lines of support to the beleaguered town. He finally outflanked the Confederates today, and they were forced to fall back .

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