Chronological History of the American Civil War

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Friday, July 31, 1863 : The commerce raiders of the Confederacy, although capturing or sinking relatively little of the commerce directed at Northern ports, had one curious effect: by driving insurance rates so high, that they caused owners to re-register their vessels under the flags of other countries. This reduced United States flag shipping to levels that were never restored to this day. July of 1863, came and left with a terrible cost to North & South with 38,509 casualties for both sides, thus bringing the total for the war so far in 381,253. Saturday, August 1, 1863 : Jefferson Davis offered an amnesty to any Southern soldier absent without leave. This was becoming a chronic problem in the South, and Davis hoped to rectify it in this manner. However, he was unaware that the North, was experiencing a similar problem. In Virginia, Federal forces begin a prolonged bombardment of entrenchments around Charleston Harbor. Rear Admiral David Porter assumes command of federal Navy forces on the Mississippi River. Sunday, August 2, 1863 : Because Charleston, South Carolina was almost impossible to attack because of their fortified harbor and marshland surrounding it, the Union army submitted plans to to build a suitable artillery platform in the marshland. This would allow the North to use large longer range caliber guns, against the city. In Charleston Harbor, near Cummings Point on Morris Island, Federal gunboats assaulted the Confederate steamer C.S.S. Chesterfield . Although the attack was indecisive and not pursued, it was considered an omen of new attacks to come. In Denmark, Tennessee two local Confederate soldiers attended services at Denmark Presbyterian Church, but they had to be careful. A Union patrol surrounded the church, and then burst in and searched the church. This forced the attending Southerners to hide under their girlfriends’ hooped skirts. Monday, August 3, 1863 : A skirmish takes place near Denmark, Tennessee with Southern guerrillas. In Virginia, General Lee (CSA) was hard at work getting resupply for his Army of Northern Virginia, including the army itself. The problem of straggling was becoming a serious matter, as the troops would take informal leave to tend to family emergencies, then not come back. Jefferson Davis had recently issued one of his offers of amnesty to any who returned within 20 days. Tuesday, August 4, 1863 : “Battery Wagner,” as it was called in the South, was a mere spit of land with an installation of cannon on it. This establishment was essential to the defense of Charleston Harbor and both sides knew it. The Union called it “Fort Wagner,” because it was a little embarrassing to admit that a wall that didn’t even go all the way around the guns could keep the attackers out for so long. Under either name it underwent yet, another naval bombardment today, as they prepared a huge new gun called the “Swamp Angel,” which was expected to blow Wagner to little bits. Union engineers start to build a gun platform for “Swamp Angel” on Morris Island. Logs were forced vertically down 20 feet through the mud into the sandy substratum. Pine logs were then laid across these logs, which in turn were covered with 13,000 sandbags that contained 800 tons of earth. This platform was capable of supporting the huge 8- inch 200-pounder Parrott rifle cannon. It was impossible to disguise, what they were doing and the defenders of Charleston responded by strengthening the city’s defenses. Wednesday, August 5, 1863 : At Dutch Gap, James River, Virginia the U.S. ironclads, U.S.S. Cohassett , and with the U.S.S. Commodore Barney , sustain damage from the explosion of a Confederate “electronic” torpedo. Thursday, August 6, 1863 : President Lincoln proclaimed this day as a day of thanksgiving for the recent Union victories. Businesses in the North, were shut as all were encouraged to attend church services. Confederate Col. John Mosby “The Gray Ghost” recaptures sutlers' wagons near Fairfax Court- House, Virginia. These are the same wagons he captured, and lost back to the Union the week before. In Bolivar, Tennessee, at “The Pillars” John Houston Bills, planter, settler and diarist writes: “Col. Phillips with a part of the 9th Ill. Cavalry pass through town early this morning, passing Mr. P. T. Jones. They take 9 or 10 mules & 7 men, they go to McGee’s. Eat a dinner prepared for the Confeds, burn his house and returning in the evening they surrender to Mr. Jones his property. Take nothing from town.” Friday, August 7, 1863 : President Lincoln responds to New York Governor, Horatio Seymour, who seeks to halt "the draft in this State." Seymour cited the recent New York City draft riots, and he suggested that the draft law was unconstitutional. Lincoln disagrees and writes, "time is too important. . . .

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