Chronological History of the American Civil War

P a g e | 173

Sunday, February 14, 1864 : In the middle of a torrential rain storm, General William T. Sherman enters Meridian, Mississippi. General Leonidas Polk (CSA) had less than 10,000 men to defend the entire state; he knew they were no match for Sherman and his main force of 20,000 men. Polk takes what supplies he can with him, but abandons the city and just watches as Sherman’s men reduce the town to ruins. Sherman would later write,“...10,000 men worked that work of destruction, Meridian, with its depots, store-houses, arsenals, hospitals, offices, hotels and cantonments no longer exists.” Monday, February 15, 1864 : After departing Jackson and Brownsville, Tennessee, Col. Fielding Hurst and his men of the 6th Tennessee Union Cavalry (U.S.) headed back towards the “Hurst Nation.” (an area of McNairy & Hardeman County in Tennessee) While enroute, Hurst captured three Confederate soldiers of Newsome’s 18th Cavalry: Lt. Joseph Stewart, Pvt. John Wilson, and Pvt. Samuel Osborn. Three days later their bodies would be found in Haywood County shot to death. In Meridian, Mississippi, General Sherman’s (U.S.) men finally rested after their 140 mile walk from Vicksburg. Now they started carrying out their orders to destroy anything whatsoever that looked like it might provide aid and comfort to the Confederacy or soldiers thereof. Orders to leave private homes unmolested were largely, but not entirely obeyed. Tuesday, February 16, 1864 : The civilian population had already fled Meridian in anticipation of a battle taking place. Confederates under General Leonidas Polk (CSA) make a half-hearted attempt to confront Sherman. However, Sherman was so confident of success that he left half his men – 10,000 – in Meridian to complete their destructive work, including not military mercantile establishments simply to infuriate people and (hopefully) get them to pressure the government to surrender and end the war. In Fairfield, North Carolina, the gunboat, U.S.S. Foster , transports Federals to the Alligator River, where a Confederate camp is surrounded and the entire Rebel company is captured; this all taking place during a severe snow storm. On the Snake River in the Washington Territory, Union soldiers shoot into the wigwams of the Palouse Indians. All are killed except for 31 bucks, 40 squaws and some children. They are all made prisoners. Wednesday, February 17, 1864 : The Confederate submarine C.S.S. H. L. Hunley , (pictured)

had earlier been sunk twice, but now raised again and a new volunteer crew trained. In Charleston, South Carolina’s outer harbor, just before 9 o'clock in the evening, the C.S.S. H. L. Hunley became the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat. Using a spar torpedo mounted on the bow rammed her torpedo into anchored U.S.S. Housatonic’s starboard side and the ship immediately sinks. Soon after, the C.S.S. Hunley sank, killing all eight of her third crew.

The Confederacy lost 21 crewmen in three sinkings of C.S.S. Hunley during her short career. Her fate remained a mystery for over 131 years, until the submarine was discovered on May 3, 1995 and recovered from its watery grave on August 8, 2000. It is now on display at the old Charleston Navy Base. Conscription (forced enlistment) in the South is extended to all white 17 to 50 year olds. Opposition to this was widespread and included the Confederacy’s Vice-President Alexander H. Stephens. Thursday, February 18, 1864 : The Union supply line running support for Sherman between Meridian and Memphis, Tennessee was attacked by skirmishers at points in the Aberdeen-

Made with FlippingBook Online newsletter