Chronological History of the American Civil War

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Monday, June 3, 1861 : The American politician Stephen A. Douglas (pictured) dies from typhoid fever in Chicago, Illinois. He was the Northern Democratic Party nominee for President in 1860. He lost to the Republican Party's candidate, Abraham Lincoln, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate. Also on the same day, The Battle of Philippi—also known mockingly as "The Philippi Races"— was fought in and around Philippi, Virginia (now West Virginia) as part of the Western Virginia Campaign of the American Civil War. It was the first organized land action in the war, but is often treated dismissively as a skirmish rather than a significant battle. The Union forces began firing their artillery, which awakened the sleeping Confederates. After firing a few shots at the advancing Union troops, the Southerners broke lines and began running frantically to the south, some still in their bed clothes, which caused journalists to refer to the battle as the "Races at Philippi". The Union victory in a relatively bloodless battle propelled the young General McClellan into the national spotlight, and he was soon given command of all Union armies. Saturday, June 8, 1861 : By a vote of 108,339 to 47,233, Tennessee decides to secede from the United States. Hardeman County plantation owner/ planter, merchant, and civic leader, John Houston Bills (The Pillars) wrote in his diary: "This is the greatest and perhaps the most important political day of my life. Today, we vote for or against further Union with the government left us by the immoral Washington and other patriarchs of the Revolution. We are pushed into this predicament by bad politicians north and south from the best government on earth; we are compelled to sever ourselves and try to build up another. Civil War is upon us with 100,000 men under arms on each side ready and anxious for the conflict. A war pressed upon us by Lincoln and his bad counselors. We must be a unit in defending the South from northern coercion. The vote here is 155 for dissolving the Union and None against.” Out of the 7000+ votes cast in Shelby County, only 4 are for “no separation” and 5 for Union. Only five West Tennessee counties (Carroll, Decatur, Hardin, Henderson, and Weakley) deliver majority votes for the Union. Tennessee has become the final state to join the Confederacy. Five Border Slave States will ultimately elect not to secede: Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. June 1861 witnessed the first major casualties of the American Civil War, though nothing like the American Civil War was to experience in later years . Monday, June 10, 1861 : Big Bethel, Virginia was the first land battle in present-day Virginia, and arguably the first land battle of the entire war. The Union forces had retained control of Fort Monroe near Washington D.C., at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula (between the York and James Rivers). From Fort Monroe an expedition was planned to capture Little Bethel and Big Bethel, with the intention of expanding the area under Union control. Command of the expedition was give to General Ebenezer W.

Pierce. He was given five regiments, detachments from two more and two guns from the regular Artillery, giving him somewhere between 2,500 and 3,500 men. Facing him was Colonel (later General) John Magruder, (pictured) probably only had between 300 and 400 men, although did have more artillery. The Union expedition went badly wrong from the start. One regiment was not given the watchword (‘Boston’), and inadvertently opened fire on a fellow Union regiment. The two most advanced Union regiments heard the firing, and believing that the Confederates had somehow got behind them, turned round. When the disorganized Union force finally found the Confederates at Big Bethel, Magruder had had time to entrench in a strong position. The by now badly scattered Union forces made a series of futile attacks on the

Confederate position during the morning, before finally abandoning the expedition at about noon. Union losses were 76 (18 killed, 53 wounded and 5 missing), while Confederate losses were only 8 (1 killed and

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