Chronological History of the American Civil War

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Tuesday, February 18, 1862 : There was much celebration in Washington D.C., when news reached the capital of the surrender of Fort Donelson. The First Congress of the Confederate States of America met in Richmond. Wednesday, February 19, 1862 : Clarksville is occupied by Union forces. Governor Isham Harris moves the Tennessee Confederate State capital from Nashville to Memphis. Thursday, February 20, 1862 : William Wallace Lincoln, known as “Willie”(pictured) and 12 years of age, died today at the White House, of typhoid fever, which had first attacked him on February 7. The

health of the President’s son, interestingly enough, had parallels with that of many men in the armed services of North and South. In March of 1861, the boy had come down with measles; the same disease wreaked havoc on armies in the first year of the war. Even Robert E. Lee noted that the ailment was “mild in childhood, but devastating in manhood,” and many died. Willie seemed to recover well from that attack, but typhoid was a disease of polluted water, and in Washington D.C., there was hardly any other kind to be had. The Lincolns were devastated, but they were not the only ones in mourning for a son; the casualty lists from the Battle of Fort Donelson were printed in the newspapers today.

Friday, February 21, 1862 : The Battle of Fort Craig in New Mexico was fought. This saw a Confederate victory against a larger Union force. The Confederates captured six artillery guns from the Unionists. Estimated Casualties: 389 total (U.S. 202; CS 187.) Saturday, February 22,1862 : Jefferson Davis (CSA) was inaugurated as the first and only President of the Confederate States of America.

Sunday, February 23, 1862 : Mark Twain travels West in an adventure later chronicled in his book ”Roughing It.” Twain travels to Nevada with his brother Orion, who had been named the secretary to the territorial governor. He tries his hand at mining and other schemes, without much success, before becoming a reporter for the Virginia City, Nevada, Daily Territorial Enterprise. The South was not fairing much better. General Grant (U.S.) has ordered martial law in Tennessee and orders William “Bull” Nelson (U.S.) to advance his troops onto Nashville (pictured). Lincoln appoints Andrew Johnson as military governor of Tennessee, just as the Confederate solders were abandoning Nashville and quickly as they could. The state capital left last week for Memphis to setup government there. Monday, February 24, 1862 : General Don Carlos Buell

(U.S.) commanded the Union forces that reached the Cumberland River opposite Nashville today. Up the river itself, came the troops transports of Grant’s army, and they began to unload and prepare to occupy the town. The departing Confederates, moved to Murfreesboro, did so under the rear-guard protection of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry. In the streets of the town, piles of supplies continued to emit clouds of smoke as everything from cotton to full hams were being burnt. Little Willie Lincoln is laid to rest. Tuesday, February 25, 1862 : Lincoln signs the “Legal Tender Act” creating a national currency and altering the nation monetary system forever. Now with the words “Demand Note” removed, gold or silver would not have to be exchanged for the new bill. Wednesday, February 26, 1862 : A few women train for battle. The Memphis Avalanche reports: “A bevy of ladies on Union street were practicing in sharp shooting yesterday with the pistol. Several shots were made that would have astonished a few of our young men, who have never learned to handle fire arms.” Memphis matron, Mrs. J.B. Gray, undertakes a fund-raising project to build a gunboat. At nearly the same moment, a flood of refugees arrives from fallen Nashville, to be followed by 400 fugitives from

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