This Day in the Civil War

Sunday September 1 1861

The biggest event to previously hit Cape Girardeau, Missouri had been the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12. Things had been relatively dull since then, but that was not going to continue. Newly-minted Brig. Gen. U. S. Grant arrived to take charge of the Union garrison in the river town today. This left him facing a state whose condition of loyalty to the Federal government was exceedingly dubious and the Mississippi River to his back. It was perhaps hoped that his status as a son-in-law of a slaveholding but firmly Unionist family would be of some help in this assignment.

Monday September 1 1862

It was technically the last gasp of the Second Battle of Bull Run, but the conflict was violent to earn it a separate designation, either as the Battle of Chantilly or Ox Hill. Jackson's flank attack on the Union right was fierce enough to carry on through a driving rain and occasional violent thunderstorm into the night. The Union lines held, but at the cost of two commanders of whom much had been expected in the future: Isaac I. Stevens and Philip Kearny. Overall commander John Pope withdrew slightly during the night but the defenses of Washington were holding firm.

Tuesday September 1 1863

Gen. William S. Rosecrans was the shining star of the Union war effort during the late summer of 1863, even if his efforts at securing the vital agricultural center of the Confederacy were overshadowed by more dramatic actions at Gettysburg in the East and Vicksburg further west. Today Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland continued the crossing of the river from which they took their name. Before them the troops laboring under command of Braxton Bragg continued to retreat, and the Army of Tennessee was looking at being forced out of the state whose name they bore. The immediate target was the river town of Chattanooga.

Thursday September 1 1864

Sherman's assault on Atlanta continued and Hood could no longer hope to hold. The last defense was going on in a separate fight known as the Battle of Jonesborough, where Confederate generals S. D. Lee and William Hardee struggled to hold off Union troops under George Thomas and John Schofield. The threat of being flanked and attacked from the side always loomed. Hood began the evacuation of Atlanta, destroying what his men could not carry to deny it to the enemy. Flames roared in the railroad yards and explosions were constant as munitions were blown up in the town.

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