This Day in the Civil War

Tuesday Oct. 8 1861

Brig. Gen. Robert Anderson had been a lowly colonel when he commanded Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor last year. Caught between the rock of Carolina’s demand that he leave and the hard place of Federal refusal to allow it, he had not been at all comfortable bearing the weight of the burdens of history. Subsequently promoted and named to command the Federal Department of the Cumberland, his health had declined both mentally and physically ever since. His request for a medical leave was granted today as he had suffered a complete nervous breakdown. He never returned to active service. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman was named his replacement. The job would not be good for his mental health either.

Wednesday Oct. 8 1862

One of the few major battles of the War to occur in Kentucky took place today, along the Chaplin Hills above Doctor’s Creek near the small town of Perryville. The Union army under Buell battled the Confederate forces of Bragg, or at least parts of them did. In part because of the hills, in part because of odd atmospheric conditions which occasionally occurred during battles, the sound of even ferocious fighting sometimes could not be heard close by, while being clearly audible far away. As a result, units of both armies never knew the battle was in progress and did not become involved. In one sense it was a Confederate victory since Buell was the first to retreat. In another sense it was a win for the Union, as the Confederacy never again tried to invade Kentucky.

Thursday Oct. 8 1863

No big battles or major actions occurred in the War today. This did not signal any outbreak of pacifistic tendencies, just that nobody was in position to do much damage to anything. All that could be found in the way of militarism were a couple of skirmishes in Virginia, at Robertson’s River and James City to be precise. In the perpetual hotbed of East Tennessee, there was a Federal reconnaissance to Olympian Springs, Kentucky.

Saturday Oct. 8 1864

A lovely new steamship departed the docks of London today, the name Sea King painted on her stern and printed on her papers. Another vessel, the S.S. Laurel departed the same docks at the same time. They both just happened to be bound for Madeira Island in the mid-Atlantic. There some sleight-of-hand would take place. Passengers on the Laurel included Lt. James I. Waddell of the Confederate States Navy and a large number of seamen in the same employ. Cargo on the Laurel included a large number of un-mounted guns, gunpowder suitable for Navy cannons, and other provisions for a long sea voyage. In Madeira a swap would be made, with Waddell and his erstwhile co-passengers taking charge of the Sea King and mounting the cannons on her decks and stocking her with the provisions. The last act would be to change her name, and the last great Confederate commerce raider, Shenandoah, would be in business.

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