This Day in the Civil War

Monday Sept. 23 1861

John Charles Fremont, military governor of St. Louis and the Missouri district, was failing to heed the old saying that when you finds yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. He had enraged half of Missouri with his highhanded orders, including an emancipation of slaves and threats to confiscate the property of, and then execute, Confederate sympathizers. Then he got the Union supporters just as angry by playing politics instead of going in support of the Irish Guard in Lexington. Today the St. Louis Evening News pointed out some of these facts to their readership. Fremont's response was to padlock the presses and have the editor thrown in jail.

Tuesday Sept. 23 1862

Far from the well-known battlefield of Antietam, where the wounded were still being tended and the dead were by now mostly buried, other battles were fought on other fields today. An “Indian uprising” was still simmering in the Dakota Territory, with fighting near Fort Abercrombie. Two Confederate attacks on Union shipping took place in the inland waters. On the Ohio River the steamer Emma was plundered by guerilla forces at Foster’s Landing. And on the Mississippi River, the ship Eugene was attacked near Randolph, Tennessee. The ship was able to escape with minimal damage, but Union troops burned much of the town of Randolph as punishment for “harboring rebels.”

Wednesday Sept. 23 1863

Gen. William Starke Rosecrans was down in Chattanooga, but he was not out. His army, although defeated at Chickamauga Creek, had managed to retreat and establish strong enough fortifications that he was in no immediate danger--he just couldn’t leave. Today in Washington it was decided to detach the 11th and 12th Corps from the Army of the Potomac and send them to Rosecrans’ relief. The 11th in particular had been battered and demoralized first at Chancellorsville and then at Gettysburg, and a change of scenery seemed in order. In two days the two corps were loaded, men, artillery, horses and supplies and all, into every railroad vehicle that could be borrowed, begged or commandeered, and west they went.

Friday Sept. 23 1864

The Blair family name runs through the history of the Civil War on the Union side. Some of their efforts were military (Frank Blair Jr., was one of the best of those who achieved general’s rank without benefit of military training) but far more important was the family’s political activities. High on the list was the name of Montgomery Blair, wheeler-dealer, consummate behind-the-scenes politician and staunch ally of Abraham Lincoln. His only official title was Postmaster General, a job he had filled well during a time when so much mail was in motion that a nationwide paper shortage occurred. But he was also a leader of the moderate faction of the Democratic Party, which made him anathema to the Radical Republicans. To pacify them, Lincoln was forced today to ask for Blair’s resignation. He gave it, gracefully.

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