This Day in the Civil War

Wednesday Sept. 25 1861
RANDOM RAMPAGING WREAKS WRECKAGE

“War is about killing people and breaking things”, an analyst once observed, and this day of the War proved that it did not take a single big battle to accomplish these dual objectives. Raids took place in Canada Alamosa, New Mexico Territory; Lewinsville, Va.; Chapmansville in western Virginia (which was not yet a separate state), and at the Kanawha Gap in Kanawha Valley, as the armies of Lee and Rosecrans drew cautiously closer to each other. Even the seas were roiled by the forces of war, as two Union vessels traded shots with a Confederate battery of cannon at Freestone Point, Va.



Thursday Sept. 25 1862
ANTIETAM AGONIES AGAIN AGGRAVATED

We tend to speak casually of battles “occurring” on a particular day and year, and indeed for many participants that day marks the end of their interest in the war. But even the survivors are forever changed by battle even if they are uninjured. For those who sustain major wounds, everything changes. Sgt. Jonathan Stowe, of the 15th Mass, had received a leg wound at Sharpsburg, Md.,which resulted in the limb’s amputation. He kept a diary as he lay in the “hospital” afterward. “Such nights!” reads his entry for this day. “Why they seem infinitely longer than days. The nervous pains are killing 2 or 3 every night. All sorts of groans and pleadings...I watch over J. Hughes nightly. Has had fever. Very cold nights & we are very short for clothing.”



Friday Sept. 25 1863
LINCOLN LETTER LISTS LAMENTATIONS

Abraham Lincoln had run through quite a number of generals at this point in the War, and as one after the other failed to defeat Lee, new jobs had to be found for them. Ambrose Burnside had had his turn, and was then reassigned to command the huge Department of Ohio. This meant that he was directly responsible for helping Rosecrans, currently pinned down in Chattanooga. Lincoln wrote a disgusted letter today, noting “you have repeatedly declared you would do it [assist Rosecrans], and yet you steadily move the contrary way.” As usual with irate letters, Lincoln never mailed this one. The White House was in a peculiar form of mourning for Mary Lincoln’s brother, Brig. Gen. Ben Hardin Helm. He had died in the battle of Chickamauga, fighting for the Confederacy.



Sunday Sept. 25, 1864
HOOD, HARDEE HASSLE HORRIBLY

Gen. John Bell Hood’s devotion to the Confederate cause could not be questioned, as he had left a body part on seemingly every battlefield he had fought on. Unfortunately, devotion, and even an arm and a leg, was not a substitute for adequate manpower, supplies, and command ability. Hood’s army had been backing up for months now, and the final straw had been the retreat from Atlanta ahead of the unstoppable William T. Sherman. Virtually every defeat Hood had blamed on a subordinate, for not attacking, not attacking with enough vigor, or attacking with vigor but not winning. The usual targed of his ire was Gen. William J. Hardee. Today the feud had escalated to such alarming proportions that President Jefferson Davis himself felt compelled to visit their camp to mediate matters.

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