This Day in the Civil War

Sunday Sept. 29 1861

Oliver Hazard Perry Throck Morton had been elected lieutenant-governor of Indiana in 1860. After his running mate was appointed to the Senate Morton became Governor, and he was not a happy man today. A staunch supporter of the Union, he had gone from having a neutral state (Kentucky) between his people and the Confederacy to having the Secessionists on his southern border. He wrote to Lincoln today demanding that attention be paid; Lincoln sent back sympathy but little else. Morton eventually suspended the state legislature and used the money saved to outfit and arm regiments for the Union. When rifles were not forthcoming Morton started a factory to make his own. Indiana furnished 150,000 troops with little use of the draft.

Monday Sept. 29 1862

Jefferson Davis shot a man to death today. This was the other Jefferson Davis, brigadier general in the Union army. Assigned to work for Brig. Gen. William Nelson on a recruiting drive in Nashville, the two had worked together for only two days when Nelson informed Davis that he was not satisfied with his performance. A quarrel resulted on Sunday evening and Davis was informed he was relieved of his duties. This morning the men met in the lobby of the Galt Hotel where they were staying and the argument resumed. Davis first threw a wad of paper in Nelson’s face, and Nelson turned to walk away. Davis then borrowed a pistol, called Nelson’s name, and shot him in the chest when he turned around. No charges were ever filed: it was, by the standards of the day, “a matter of honor” and not considered a criminal act. Also, the value of his name probably resulted in him being cut some slack--having a Jefferson Davis fighting for the Union was considered a morale booster.

Tuesday Sept. 29 1863

Proving that the inspirational campaign speech is not a modern invention, President Abraham Lincoln took time out of micro-managing the War Between the States to give a talk to a convention today. This was a meeting of an organization known as the Sons of Temperance, one of the outgrowths of a religious revival which had been spreading through America well before the war. Along with its allies in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and similar groups, the Sons lobbied for legal restrictions on alcohol as well as voluntary abstinence. Lincoln told the group that “...intemperance is one of the greatest, if not the very greatest of all the evils of mankind.” Lincoln himself never drank alcohol although he showed no inclinations to force prohibition on others.

Thursday Sept. 29, 1864

After a time of little action, the siege of Petersburg fairly exploded into action today. A double-pronged Federal assault started with Gen. George Meade and 16,000 members of the Army of the Potomac making a move to lengthen the lines further south around the town, starting at a place called Peeble’s Farm. The aim of their maneuvers was to reach the South Side Railroad, another of the vital supply links to Petersburg and Richmond. On the other end of the line, the 10th and 18th Corps, under Birney and Ord, looped north of the James to the outer defenses of Richmond. They captured Ft. Harrison and with a change of flags turned it from a Confederate fort to a Federal one. Assaults on Ft. Gilmer, however, were not as successful for the Union.

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