Saturday Nov. 16 1861
WILY WILKES WILDLY WELCOMED
The USS San Jacinto pulled into port at Ft. Monroe, Va., with four
more passengers than she had had when she left: Confederate
Commissioners Mason and Slidell and their two male secretaries.
Captain Charles Wilkes had taken them off the British mail packet
Trent a few days earlier, after compelling the unarmed vessel to
heave to under threat of arms. As news of the seizure spread through
the North, Wilkes was being hailed as a hero for the capture. The
Confederates were taken to Fort Warren in Boston Harbor for
imprisonment. Newspaper headlines applauded the event as helping
prevent foreign intervention in the War, little realizing that the
headlines in Europe were announcing just the opposite.
Sunday Nov. 16 1862
FORD FIGHTING FACES FREDERICKSBURG FOES
U.S. Gen. Ambrose Burnside had found himself in a job he did not
want, command of the Army of the Potomac, due in large part to
Abraham Lincoln’s frustration with his predecessor, George
McClellan. McClellan had largely created the army out of the mobs of
disorganized civilians who had rushed to enlist, but then didn’t
seem to want to get any of them hurt by actually fighting anybody.
Burnside’s orders, whether spoken or not, were clear: go fight
somebody, preferably Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
Therefore, despite the date, he today ordered his men to pack up and
march across the Rappahannock River. There
was some difficulty with the units of Confederate forces who were
keeping an eye on them, leading to a skirmish at the river crossing
known as U.S. Ford.
Monday Nov. 16 1863
LONGSTREET LAPSE LEADS TO LOSS
After Gettysburg, James Longstreet’s corps had been detached from
the Army of Northern Virginia and sent West to assist the Army of
Tennessee. They arrived just in time to help win the Battle of
Chickamauga, but since then they had had little to do except help
maintain the siege of the Union forces stuck in Chattanooga. Finally
they had headed in the direction of Knoxville, and today Longstreet
was at the little town of Campbell’s Station. Burnside’s forces were
nearby, and if Confederate intelligence had been just a little
better, or if the army could have moved just a little faster, events
could have been greatly different. Longstreet, however, did not move
quite fast enough to cut off Burnside’s retreat, and his forces
escaped into Knoxville.
Wednesday Nov. 16 1864
SHERMAN SETS SEAWARD SOJOURN
The last of the two wings of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s army
pulled out of Atlanta today, leaving the city a smoking ruin behind
them. In a calculated move to, as Sherman said, bring the realities
of the battlefield’s suffering to the civilians who supported the
troops, a new style of war targeting the home front was invented.
From this point forward Sherman’s troops would carry no supplies but
ammunition, and tents for those who wanted to carry them. They would
live off the land entirely, taking or destroying everything in their
path. The bitterness this “dishonorable” style of war left in the
hearts of Georgians was immense.
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