Chronological History of the American Civil War
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Saturday, June 21, 186 2: Ulysses S. Grant (U.S.) ordered to Memphis to become district commander. Jefferson Davis (CSA) wrote today, “A total defeat of McClellan will relieve the Confederacy of its embarrassments in the East, and then we must make a desperate effort to regain what Beauregard has abandoned in the West.” Sunday, June, 22, 1862 : As wars usually speed up arms races, so do they bring on, or at least speed up,
social changes. Nowhere was this more evident than in the role of women in America, North and South. In the North, Dorothea Dix (pictured) appointed Superintendent of Army Nurses had recently been granted permission to recruit women as nurses, provided that they were old and/or unattractive. In the South, a different policy applied. Permission was granted today, for the service as nurses of 30 members of the Sisters of Charity, an order of Catholic nuns. Monday, June 23, 1862 : A very important meeting was held at Robert E. Lee’s headquarters at Dabb’s House north of Richmond. All principal generals were there, including Stonewall Jackson who had ridden ahead of his divisions to make it. The assessment: McClellan was getting too close to Richmond for comfort. The city could not withstand a siege. It was time to go on the offensive and turn McClellan’s line and drive him back North. The decision reached,
Jackson rode back to speed his divisions onward. The attack could not begin without them. Tuesday, June 24, 1862 : The generals had met, the plans had been laid, the date had been set for tomorrow for the all-out battle to turn McClellan’s army away from Richmond. The Confederate armies were not yet quite prepared and were therefore laying in the stores of arms, ammunition and rations that would be required. Minor skirmishing occurred near Mechanicsburg as they confirmed the location of the Union lines. The fighting that would become known as the “Seven Days Battle” was about to begin. Wednesday, June 25, 1862 : McClellan (U.S.) ordered his men to advance on the left flank of Richmond. He also sent a letter to Washington. D.C., that stated that he was facing an army of 200,000 men and that if he lost to them it would not be his fault, and that he would die fighting with his men. McClellan made it clear that if he did lose the battle, there was nothing to stop the Confederates from attacking the capital. To the end McClellan remained cautious. But it was a simple fact. If he did lose, what would stop Lee and then Davis from entering Washington, D.C.? Major General Benjamin Huger's Confederate division halted the Unions advancement. Union troops gained only 600 yards, at a cost of over a thousand casualties on both sides. Thursday, June 26, 1862 : The battle is known by several names: Mechanicsville, Beaver Dam Creek and Ellerson’s Mill among others. It was the second day of what none of the participants knew would come to be called the “Seven Days” campaign. CSA, General Robert E. Lee threw almost everything he had against the Union line, but the line held. Stonewall Jackson (CSA) was still advancing his men from the Shenandoah Valley pushing forcing Union General Porter (U.S.) to withdraw him advance. Estimated Casualties on the day: 1,700 total (U.S. 400; CS 1,300). Friday, June 27, 1862 : It was “second verse, same as the first” as the Seven Days’ Battle entered into its third day, today. For starters, this encounter is known, today by an assortment of names: First Battle of Cold Harbor, Battle of the Chickahominy, or its best-known designation, the Battle of Gaines’ Mill. Again, a main attack was supposed to be supported by Stonewall Jackson’s (CSA) men; again they failed to appear. A rare after-dark attack was mounted by Confederate Generals John Bell Hood and George Pickett (CSA). It was initially successful in breaking through the Union lines, but again, there was no reinforcement or backup, and they had to withdraw. However, the cautious, General McClellan (U.S.) started to withdraw his men back across the Chickahominy River. President Lincoln was furious. Saturday, June 28, 1862 : The Union Army continued its withdrawal and destroyed their own supplies at White House Landing, rather than let them fall into the hands of the Confederates. Meanwhile, Union Flag Officer Farragut ran a small fleet south to north pass the bluffs at Vicksburg, Mississippi. All got through, but three, but he determined that the city could not be taken by boat. A land campaign would have to be conducted.
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