This Day in the Civil War

Wednesday Nov. 13 1861

No, Gen. George McClellan, newly appointed head of the Army of the Potomac, didn’t get married today, but he did go the wedding of somebody else. The commander in chief who had just named “Little Mac” to the top job came to call while McClellan was out, and assuming he would be home shortly, Lincoln, his secretary John Hays, and Secretary of War Seward decided to wait for him. McClellan returned after about an hour, was told he had guests waiting, and went to his room. After waiting another half hour, a servant went to get McClellan and discovered that he had gone to bed. After this, when Lincoln wanted a meeting, he scheduled it for the White House.

Thursday Nov. 13 1862

The presence or absence of a railroad, like an interstate highway connection today, could make or break a town in the 1860’s. To have a rail intersection, where two or more lines passed through the same city, made it of considerable military importance, too. It was this factor that inspired a skirmish in the otherwise little-known hamlet of Holly Springs, Mississippi today. Federal troops wound up in possession of the town, rail connections and all. Other minor actions took place in Sulphur Springs, Va., near Nashville, Tenn., and along the coast of Georgia. Bragg decided to relocate the Army of Tennessee from Chattanooga north towards Murfreesboro, which would allow him to link up with Breckinridge.

Friday Nov. 13 1863

Gen. Robert E. Lee and his men had had a rough summer. Heavy action in the spring, constant movement, finally the desperate move into Maryland and Pennsylvania culminating in the three days of Gettysburg. Even after that, movement if not active battle had been constant. This had been hard on the men of the Army of Northern Virginia, harder on their supplies and equipment. It had, however, been hardest of all on the members of the army least able to protest: the horses and other beasts of burden. Gen. Lee sent a telegram from Orange Court House, Va., to Jefferson Davis in Richmond today, imploring him to find a supply of food for the animals, saying that they had had only three pounds of corn per day per horse for the last five days. Davis ordered other supplies delayed until corn could be shipped in.

Sunday Nov. 13 1864

Gen. Jubal Early and his force had been detached from the siege of Petersburg five months ago and sent North on a mission: scare the bejeebers out of the Yankees, particularly the ones living in or near Washington, D.C. The hope was that these alarmed people would put pressure on the fellow living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to bring some troops home to protect them. Neither Lincoln nor General of the Armies U.S. Grant was inclined to oblige him, and now Early’s men were beginning to be brought back to Richmond for the defense effort. Early and company had marched nearly 1700 miles and fought 72 battles in this five months, but to no avail. The Shenandoah Valley now pretty well belonged to Phil Sheridan and his Yankee cavalry.

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