Chronological History of the American Civil War

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Island 10 at New Madrid, Kentucky, and then many more exiles, who will strain the city’s resources and add to the mounting poverty and crime. Thursday, February 27, 1862 : William B. Taney, Chief Justice of the United States, ruled today that the president did not have the power to suspend the right of habeas corpus. John Merryman had been arrested in Maryland by military authorities for allegedly recruiting for the Confederate army. “Ex Parte Merryman” was hotly debated. Lincoln, maintaining that the Constitution permitted suspension of rights in cases of rebellion or time of war, simply ignored the ruling. So once again, people could be arrested and held without trial or even knowing the charges against them. Friday, February 28, 1862 : Ordered to open the Mississippi River, Union General John Pope (U.S.) leads a force of 25,000 men and march overland through swamps, lugging supplies and artillery from Commerce, Missouri. He moves his fleet toward New Madrid, Missouri on the Mississippi River. Some of his men were already there at the battle, also known as the Siege of Island Number Ten. This was an engagement at the New Madrid or Kentucky Bend on the Mississippi River. The island at the base of a tight double turn in the course of the river, was held by the Confederates from the early days of the war. It was an excellent site to stop Union efforts to invade the South along the river, as vessels would have to approach the island “bows on” and then slow down to make the turns. Unfortunately, for the defenders, it also had one faulted weakness in that it depended on a single road for supplies and reinforcements, so that if an enemy force could cut that road, the garrison would be trapped. This siege will continue for over a month. Southerners hold a day of fasting at the request of President Davis. Union troops now occupy Charleston, South Carolina. Saturday, March 1, 1862 : Richmond, Virginia was put under martial law while a number of prominent citizens were arrested for proclaiming that the war should be brought to an end. General Grant (U.S.) was ordered to proceed south, up the Tennessee River, toward Eastport, Mississippi. The first skirmishes occurred at an obscure place called Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. Sunday, March 2, 1862 : Leonidas K. Polk, ordained bishop in the Episcopal Church and major general of the Confederate army, completed a most unpleasant assignment today, when he completed the evacuation of Columbus, Kentucky. This marked the end of the “Kentucky Line” of defense, which Polk himself helped to create when he originally took his forces into the state without authorization. Polk’s new defensive line was established at Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River, and Fort Pillow just north of Memphis, Tennessee. Monday, March 3, 1862 : General Halleck (U.S.) accused General Grant of “neglect of duty, inefficiency and drunkenness.” General McClellan (U.S.) gave Halleck (U.S.) permission to arrest Grant if he thought it was necessary. This argument was the result of Grant’s popularity in the North after the capture of Fort Donelson, which Halleck claimed the credit for coupled with Halleck’s lack of any real progress in Missouri. New Madrid, Missouri which had been the epicenter of the strongest earthquake ever recorded in North America (in 1811), now was blessed with the attention of Federal forces commanded by General John Pope (U.S.). Tuesday, March 4, 1862 : General Robert E Lee (CSA) was appointed military advisor to President Jefferson Davis (CSA). General Halleck (U.S.) removed Grant from his command. Halleck was appointed commander of all the Union’s western armies – his reward for the victory at Fort Donelson. Today were complaints from governors along the Mississippi that they were not being sent enough guns. The Western governors had a very legitimate complaint of not receiving sufficient supplies or attention from Richmond. Wednesday, March 5, 1862 : Union General Nathaniel Banks (U.S.) moves his troops up the Shenandoah Valley toward Winchester and Confederate General 'Stonewall' Jackson. The first group of Union forces under General C. F. Smith (U.S.) reaches Savannah, Tennessee, northeast of Corinth, Mississippi. The buildup of Union forces increases rapidly. Despite Union General Halleck's urging, Union Flag Officer Foote declines to attack Island No. 10 in the Mississippi, because his vessels are not sufficiently repaired. In Arkansas, Confederate General Earl Van Dorn joins forces with General Sterling Price, who had been driven out of Missouri by the superior forces of Union General Samuel R. Curtis.

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