Chronological History of the American Civil War

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Nathan Bedford Forrest denounced Wheeler, a favorite of General Braxton Bragg, saying he would not again serve under him. Wednesday, February 4, 1863 : A problem was arising with the Navy’s new ironclad ships: communications from them. Wooden ships had masts; they communicated with a code of flags of different shapes and colors which could be seen from a long distance when high on the mast. Ironclads, although a technological innovation of great significance, had a small problem: they had no masts to fly these flags from. Today, Adm. Samuel DuPont (U.S.) had a brainstorm. He wrote to his Army counterpart, Major General David Hunter, suggesting that the Navy adopt the Army Signal Corps system, which used just a few flags but which were waved back and forth in a coded system. An amazing thing then occurred: Hunter promptly agreed. The two made arrangements to have Navy men attend Signal Corps school to learn the codes. (Signalmen in the Navy, are still used today.) Thursday, February 5, 1863 : The New York Times reports: “The Army of the Cumberland (U.S.) is still occupying Murfreesboro and the surrounding area, as its mechanics and engineers work to repair roads and bridges. They face constant attacks from Wheeler, Forrest, and Starns. “Contrabands – deserters from Forrest – say that he intends fortifying Columbia, and also to make a dash on Nashville during some of our nights of darkness.” Federal operations at the Rappahannock Bridge and at Grove Church, Virginia, with the purpose of destroying the railroad bridge is called off due to a snow storm. Among new commanders named today by General Joseph Hooker (U.S.) was Dan Sickles, (U.S.) whose major previous experience with violence was shooting a man he caught having an affair with his wife. (He was acquitted of murder by pleading temporary insanity, the first time this plea was used in America.) Friday, February 6, 1863 : The Federal Government officially turns down the offer by France's Napoleon III to mediate peace between the North & South. Near Millwood, Virginia, after the stage coach running between Martinsburg and Winchester was captured by guerrillas, who in turn were captured by the Yankees. Saturday, February 7, 1863 : Three blockade running ships arrive safely at Charleston, South Carolina and the Confederates reopen Sabine Pass, near Galveston, Texas, from the Union naval blockade. Sunday, February 8, 1863 : The Constitution’s First Amendment of “Freedom of Speech” was not respected everywhere. Newspapers, magazines and other periodicals were threatened, harassed, fined, arrested in their pursuit of truth, justice, and their right to editorialize. Today, the circulation of the Chicago Times was suspended by military order. The offense was the publication of disloyal statements. Abraham Lincoln had first authorized the suspension of the right of habeas corpus, despite the fact that the Constitution allows only Congress to do so. In Tennessee at Lebanon, Union troops capture 600 prisoners. Monday, February 9, 1863 : On General Hooker’s (U.S.) arrival at his headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, he found no document that could inform him about the strength of the Army of Virginia (CSA). He decided that his first task was to improve its intelligence gathering. General Butterfield (U.S.) wrote: “There was no means, no organisation, and no apparent effort to obtain such information. We were almost as ignorant of the enemy in our immediate front as if they had been in China. An efficient organisation for that purpose was instituted, by which we were so enabled to get correct and proper information of the enemy, their strengths and movements.”

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