Chronological History of the American Civil War

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Saturday, December 14, 1861 : Prince Albert, known to generations of Americans only as a brand name of pipe tobacco, was the spouse to the queen whose name denotes an era, Victoria of England. Although not the king, and possessed of no official duties beyond begetting the next generation of royalty, he was quite influential in a quiet way, particularly in diplomatic matters. He had been working steadily to defuse the uproar caused by the "Trent Affair" wherein a U.S. ship had stopped a British one on the high seas and removed some of her passengers, an act viewed in London as equal to piracy if not warfare. Notions for retaliation ranged from diplomatic recognition of the Confederate States to a military attack on the U.S. by way of Canada. Today he died, and his queen and his empire were in deep mourning. Sunday, December 15, 1861 : Congress expressed its view that the use of slavery in the South was becoming more and more an issue. The original cause of the war was state’s rights but greater knowledge in the Union about slavery put it at the forefront of

why the war was being fought. Over the next few months Congress passed a number of laws such as the military could no longer return to the South fugitive slaves; that slavery was to be outlawed in the District of Columbia; that any slave state that offered to give up slavery would be given financial assistance from the Union. Kentucky newspapers carry frequent stories about refugees from Tennessee – Union sympathizers seeking sanctuary, like the 1,500 recently arrived from Weakley County. Today, Charles Edgar Duryea (pictured) was born near Canton, Illinois. He would become the inventor of the first-ever working American gasoline-powered car in 1893. Monday, December 16, 1861 : Clement Vallandigham of Ohio

introduces a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives commending Captain Wilkes on his conduct during the Trent affair. The somewhat embarrassing resolution is sent to committee for study. The Stonewall Brigade (CSA) leaves camp at Winchester, Virginia and marches 15 miles to Martinsburg and another 13 miles to the bluffs overlooking Dam Number Five of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, parallel to the Potomac. Tuesday, December 17, 1861 : In response to the furor caused by the Trent affair, the London Times issues insulting statements about 'Yankees.' Thirty members of the Stonewall Brigade (CSA) begin to dismantle Dam Number Five of the C&O Canal under cover of darkness. Union Officer Du Pont orders that seven of the wooden 'stone fleet' vessels be sunk at the entrance to Savannah Harbor. Fighting breaks out at Chisholm Island and Rockville, South Carolina. Confederates leave the vicinity of Rockville due to the Union threat at Hilton Head, SC. In Kentucky, Confederate and Union soldiers engage in battle on the Green River with estimated casualties: (U.S. 40; CS 91) Wednesday, December 18, 1861 : Lincoln and his cabinet discuss the Trent affair. Lord Lyons, the British minister in Washington, receives his orders from London to seek the immediate release of Confederate commissioners Slidell and Mason. At dawn, Union soldiers discover Stonewall's Brigade (CSA) working on the destruction of Dam Number Five of the C&O Canal and begin firing on them. Thursday, December 19, 1861 : U.S. Secretary of State, Seward and British Minister Lord Lyons exchange information and terms concerning the Trent affair. The United States has seven days to respond to the British demand for release of Confederate commissioners Slidell and Mason and apologize for the actions of Captain Wilkes. Failure to act will result in war with Britain. Memphis Daily Appeal reported by Mayor John Park, “That from and after the passage of this ordinance it shall be the duty of each and every night policeman to cry the hour of the night on the expiration of every half hour, commencing at eleven o'clock P.M., and ending at five o'clock A.M. Be it further ordained, that any policeman failing or refusing to perform the duty specified to in the first section of this ordinance, shall be removed from office.”

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