This Day in the Civil War

Friday Aug. 23 1861

Tennessee was a vastly divided state at this stage of the War. A vote held on the question of secession had come down to an almost even divide, but secession was voted down. Governor Isham Harris, however, was the foremost supporter of the notion of joining the Confederacy, possibly due to the greater powers afforded states under that system of government. And therefore into the Confederacy Tennessee was taken. Today Harris issued a call to the mothers, wives and daughters of his state, that they should make and send clothing and blankets to soldiers in the field.

Saturday Aug. 23 1862

It is not always the big battles that effect the actions of war. If all the fighting that took place today had occurred in the same place it would have rivaled Manassas or Antietam....well, okay, maybe not Antietam, but at least Balls’ Bluff or Wilson’s Creek. Combat occurred in or near Four Mile, Hickory Grove and Wayman’s Milll, Missouri; Bayou Sara, Louisiana; Big Hill, Kentucky; Greenville, Mississippi; Trinity, Alabama, and Fort Donelson, Tennessee; Moorefield in western Virginia. In Virginia proper things were hottest, with fighting at Rappahannock Station, Beverly Ford, Fant’s Ford, Smithfield, Sulphur Springs, and on the railroad between Harper’s Ferry and Winchester. A train was captured by Confederate forces.

Sunday Aug. 23 1863

The area of the mouth of the Rappahannock River in Virginia had been assumed to be firmly held Union territory for quite some time. This may have resulted in a slackening of vigilance today, which turned out not to be the time for slackness. A group of sixty Confederates, accompanied by 30 sharpshooters, set out on the river in four small boats. Led by Lt. L. Taylor Woods, they simply took advantage of the calm to capture two Union gunboats, the USS Satellite and USS Reliance. The action was of minimal military significance, but resulted in massive embarrassment for Union naval commanders in the region.

Tuesday Aug. 23 1864

Fort Morgan was the last outpost guarding the inlets to Mobile Bay, which was the last Confederate port of any size on the Gulf of Mexico not in Federal hands. Since yesterday the fort had been pounded by land batteries, gunboats, and three monitors. Although the damage inflicted was not massive it was relentless, and the fort was unable to respond as it was cut off from supplies. Today the installation was surrendered, and the road to Mobile lay open. After this, only Wilmington, N.C., would be accessible to that Confederate shipping that could slip past the blockade.

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