This Day in the Civil War

Saturday Nov. 2 1861

Gen John C. Fremont, military governor of the Federal operations in the District of Missouri, had only been in the job for 100 days. In that short time he had won few friends, although he had influenced many people, mostly to detest him. The orders relieving him of command had arrived yesterday with Gen. Curtis, but Fremont had hidden in his office in Springfield, Mo. and refused to accept them. Then he gave the excuse that he was too busy fighting Sterling Price to step down, but Price was 60 miles away. Finally today he was prevailed upon to accept that he was being replaced by Gen. David Hunter. Fremont’s supporters (yes, he did have a few!) went so far as to encourage him to move West and found his own nation, but nothing ever came of the idea.

Sunday Nov. 2 1862

Captain Raphael Semmes and his ship CSS Alabama had created a reign of terror recently in the North Atlantic. Whaling ship after whaling ship had come under his guns, and one after the other had gone up in flames and headed for the bottom of the sea. This, for whatever happiness it may have engendered in the local whale population, was causing conniption fits in the industries dependent on whale oil and bone, not to mention the insurance companies of New York. Captains began to avoid the seas off Nova Scotia, and Semmes was running out of targets. Like any other hunter Semmes knew the solution: go to where the game is. He shifted today to the seas around Bermuda, and the whaling ship Levi Starbuck was his next conquest.

Monday Nov. 2 1863

After all the long months since July 4, the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg had struggled to cope with the aftermath of the gigantic battle which had take place for three days there. Over days the horses and mules had been buried, occasionally by those caught scavenging for souvenirs on the battlefield. More slowly had proceeded the burial of the soldiers. Those who died on the field had been buried where they fell, by friend or foe. Those who died later in field hospitals, or the immense Camp Letterman compound east of town, had either been shipped home to their families or buried nearby. Finally the National Cemetery had been designed, and the dead were dug up and moved there. A ceremony of dedication was being planned, with the great orators of the North invited to speak. One other invitation was received today, and Abraham Lincoln, taking no offense at being an afterthought, agreed to say a few words.

Wednesday Nov. 2 1864

Not all Confederate sympathizers lived in the Confederate States of America, and even those who did had little difficulty penetrating the rather porous borders of the United States at will. While not all plans and schemes which were rumored to be in the works actually had any existence, some rumors were indeed based on facts. Secretary of State William Seward found one such tale serious enough that he today sent a message to the mayor of New York City. There was, he said, a story making the rounds that Confederate agents had infiltrated the city with a terrorist plot: there would be arson attacks all throughout the town with the serious intention of burning it to the ground. The plan was to be carried out on Election Day, thereby accomplishing a double goal of damaging the greatest commercial city of the North as well as disrupting the crucial vote.

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