Chronological History of the American Civil War

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Monday, October 21, 1861 : On orders from General McClellan in Washington, General Charles Stone (U.S.) pushes toward Leesburg, Virginia, assisted by Colonel Edward Baker (pictured). Baker was also a former senator from Oregon and friend of Lincoln. Stone ferries his troops across the river in inadequate boats, and battle with the Confederates ensues. During the disorderly Union retreat at Ball's Bluff, Colonel Baker is killed. Of the 921 Union casualties, 714 were missing and probably drowned during the retreat. The press attacks General Stone for the costly defeat and mourned the death of Colonel Baker despite the fact that it was his own poor planning that led in large part to his own demise, along with many others of his command, yet directs little criticism toward General McClellan (U.S.). Confederate General Nathan Evans is widely acclaimed as the hero of the Battle of Leesburg, or Ball's Bluff, Virginia. Union troops recapture Lexington, Missouri. On the eastern & southern coasts, an occasional Southern ship manages to run the blockade, but on the whole the naval blockade is highly successful in keeping Southern goods from being shipped to European markets and preventing supplies from coming in. Small skirmishes start at Collierville and at Woodville, TN. Tuesday, October 22, 1861 : The survivors of the Army of the Potomac were still straggling back across the river (those who hadn’t drowned, been captured or run away that is) as the word of the Union defeat began to hit the newspapers of Washington and Richmond. This was the second major defeat trying to invade Virginia. This made it clear that the War would be much longer than expected. The Confederates now control all the strategic points on the Potomac River south of Alexandria. Lincoln’s Cabinet met to discuss the disaster at Ball’s Bluff. U.S. forces move to capture Waverly, TN; several skirmishes occur. Wednesday, October 23, 1861 : Skirmishes occur in Kentucky near West Liberty and Hodgenville. General Sherman is concerned that the Confederates might advance deeper into Kentucky. The officers and men of the Confederate privateer Savannah go on trial in New York for piracy. Possible penalty: death by hanging. Thursday, October, 24, 1861 : 1st U.S. transcontinental telegram is sent from San Francisco to Washington D.C. The first effort was fragile and frequently broken by wind, snow, ice, animals, Indians and other forces. The people of western Virginia overwhelmingly vote to form a new state. Lincoln decides to terminate General Fremont's command in the Western Department. He sends orders via General S. R. Curtis that relieve Fremont of command and give control of the troops to General David Hunter. Lincoln advises Curtis to withhold delivery of these orders if Fremont is about to engage in combat. Friday, October 25, 1861 : General Fremont, anxious to delay his removal from command, commences an expedition to rout Confederates led by Sterling Price. Fremont's forces occupy Springfield, far from Price's location near Lexington. At Greenpoint, Long Island, the keel of the ironclad U.S.S. Monitor is laid. The Monitor will later earn a role in naval history during its battle with the Confederate ironclad Merrimack on March 9, 1862. Saturday, October 26, 1861 : The First Battle of Springfield or Zagonyi's Charge was Greene County, Missouri. It was the only Union victory in southwestern Missouri in 1861. Estimated casualties: 218 total (US 85; CS 133) Sunday, October 27, 1861 : In Missouri, Fremont (U.S.) continues his pursuit of Price (CSA), who he mistakenly believes to be advancing toward Springfield. Price is actually in full retreat in the opposite direction. In the Atlantic, the C.S.S. Sumter , scourge of Union shipping, captures and burns the schooner Trowbridge after removing its provisions. Union Lieutenant Alfred Hopkins leads a boat expedition to surprise and burn three Confederate ships at Chincoteague Inlet, Virginia. Skirmishes are fought at Clinch Mountain & at Brown’s Ferry near Chattanooga on the Tennessee River. Memphis Daily Appeal reports, “Woman.—Somebody says that a woman abandons her opinion the moment her husband adopts it; even in church, the women sing an octave higher than the men, in order not to agree with them in anything.”

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