This Day in the Civil War

Thursday Aug. 29 1861

Even after secession, Sumter, and now a full summer of war, there were many who continued to hope that the conflict could be halted before more blood was shed. Many in the South were genuinely baffled as to why Lincoln was forcing a fight on them for doing what they believed to be perfectly legal, leaving the Union. Some in the North believed this was well; others thought that the “erring sisters” could be brought back to the Union faster through negotiation than battle. In any case, peace conferences were scheduled today, one in Middletown, N.J. and the other in Newton, Long Island, New York. Neither effort amounted to a hill of beans.

Friday Aug. 29 1862

When Gen. John Pope was brought East to command the newly created Federal Army of Virginia, he made a rather pompous speech to his men in which he said, among other things, that he intended to have his “headquarters in the saddle”. His detractors, who were many, felt he kept his brains in the same place. His conduct today in what would become known as Second Bull Run in the North, or Second Manassas in the South, lent support to these skeptics. The attacks on Stonewall Jackson’s men on the Warrenton Turnpike were scattered, disorganized, and failures. Fitz John Porter, ordered to attack Jackson, found Longstreet on his flank instead and had to deal with that. McClellan, ordered to bring the Army of the Potomac from Alexandria, seemed unable to move quickly. As McClellan was also a much bigger fan of McClellan than he was of Pope, he was disinclined to exert himself on Pope’s behalf.

Saturday Aug. 29 1863

The career of the Confederate submarine CSS Hunley was a rather checkered one. She was behaving quite well today in Charleston Harbor, as her crew took her out for several practice dives. At the conclusion of the last one, the ungainly vessel tied up at the dock of Fort Johnson, next to the steamship Etiwan. For reasons unknown the steamship pulled away from the dock without informing the sub of her intentions. The Hunley, with her hatch open so her crew could breathe, immediately rolled sidewise and sank. Only her commander, Lt. Payne, and one other man survived. Efforts started at once to raise her.

Monday Aug. 29 1864

Gen. Sterling Price had been the Confederate commander in the first major battle of the War in the Trans-Mississippi, at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri. He had even won the battle, killing Union Gen. Nathaniel Lyon and driving Franz Sigel’s men off in confusion, but had lost the state when he and Gov. Claiborne Jackson had retreated into Arkansas. Jackson had set up a “government in exile”, and Price had gone on to fight valiantly in many other battles. Today Price took command of an expedition that was leaving from Princeton, Ark. to reclaim Missouri for the South.

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