This Day in the Civil War

Tuesday Oct. 22 1861

The survivors of the Army of the Potomac were still straggling back across the river (those who hadn’t drowned, been captured or run away that is) as the word of the Union defeat began to hit the newspapers of Washington and Richmond. As the news spread across the telegraph wires of the country, the magnitude of the losses had a very disturbing effect on the North. The loss at Bull Run earlier in the summer had been bad enough, but now this second foray into Virginia meeting a similar repulse made it clear that the War would be much longer than expected. The death of Colonel (and former Oregon Senator) Edward D. Baker was also the cause of much wailing, despite the fact that it was his own poor planning that led in large part to his own demise, along with many others of his command.

Wednesday Oct. 22 1862

In theory, there was land-based cannon and ship-mounted cannon, and never the twain were supposed to mix. For one thing, land-based weaponry was mounted on carriages (or, rarely, railroad cars) to get it from place to place, while ships’ guns were supposed to be bolted firmly to the deck to keep them from going from place to place and squashing their operators. Necessity, that mother of invention, gave birth to some occasional exceptions however, and one such case occurred today. Three 12-pound guns (the poundage refers to the weight of the projectile fired and not the weight of the weapon itself) were dismounted from their usual places on the deck of the USS Wabash and transferred into small boats. These were used in support of the Union assault on Pocogaligo, South Carolina. The assault was a miserable failure.

Thursday Oct. 22 1863

Yesterday Gen. Ulysses S. “Sam” Grant had paused for a day in Stevenson, Georgia, in order to confer with Gen. William Starke Rosecrans, late commander of the Army of the Cumberland. Rosecrans, after a very successful campaign across the state of Tennessee, had come to grief in the battle of Chickamauga when Bragg’s Army of Tennessee had stopped him, defeated him, and nearly cut him off entirely. Since then his army had been bottled up in the deserted streets of Chattanooga. Today, conference ended, Grant continued on his journey to join the army there. The roads, due to fall rains, were deep in mud and travel was miserable at best. It was worse for Grant, who was still suffering the effects of leg injuries sustained when his horse fell on him some weeks ago. Afoot he had to use crutches.

Saturday Oct. 22 1864

Gen. Sterling Price had set forth intending to take Missouri out of the Union. At the moment, however, he would have been more than happy to take himself out of Missouri, and his Confederate and Missouri State Guard force with him. This ambition was being hindered by having Union forces on three sides of him, and the Missouri River on the fourth. Therefore he was in the planning stages of a breakout attempt. His orders were for the supply train to head south along the river, and then have Jo Shelby and James F. Fagan attack the Union Army of the Border, while John S. Marmaduke protected the rear from Pleasanton’s cavalry brigade. Surrounded and heavily outnumbered, the plan was desperate in the extreme, but Price had no choice but attack or surrender.

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