This week in the war:
Sunday, March 30, 1862: The Confederates continued their build-up of men at Corinth, Mississippi, and waited for the North to attack. The size of the force gathered in Corinth showed that the South was not prepared to let the town fall to the North in view of its importance with regards to the two vital rail lines identified by the South. New Yorker, Vincent Colyer, one of the founders of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was appointed a northern position, Superintendent of the Poor in North Carolina. He had upwards of 50 black volunteers, acting as guides and spies for the Union. Stanwix Station, in western Arizona, was a stop on the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach line built in the 1850s near the Gila River about 80 miles east of Yuma, Arizona. Today, the station was the site of the westernmost engagement between Union and Confederate troops during the American Civil War. While only a small skirmish, it warned the southerns of advancing troops from California were headed their way.
Monday, March 31, 1862: Today marked the capture of Union City, TN by U.S. forces and a skirmish on Purdy Road near Adamsville. No other major battles took place today, if you discount the one that was that was going on in President Abraham Lincoln’s office in Washington. As George McClellan moved the Army of the Potomac farther and farther away from the Capital, its residents were becoming increasingly nervous. Finally, Lincoln ordered a large invasion force under Louis Blenker to leave McClellan (US) and come back to Washington. This caused controversy and delays as McClellan demanded reinforcements. Of course, that was what he did under almost any circumstances anyway.
Tuesday, April 1, 1862: On the southern peninsula of Virginia 12,000 Confederate soldiers faced McClellan’s (US) three regiments in total a total 112,000 men. At Island No. 10 on Mississippi River, a small Union raiding party steals six guns from the Confederate hold and escapes without a loss. Things were getting tougher for the South, the people of Richmond were donating the bells of their churches to be melted into cannon.
Wednesday, April 2, 1862: Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston prepares his forces in Corinth, Mississippi to attack Union forces at Pittsburg Landing the next day. The Federal forces, under the command of a failed Illinois businessman with a reputation for drunkenness, were coming up the Tennessee River to camp at a place called Pittsburg Landing. Johnston and his men would march there, fight them, and throw Ulysses S. Grant and his Yankees back into the river. Along the Mississippi River, tornadoes cause extensive damage to military installations from Cairo, Illinois to New Madrid, Missouri.
Thursday, April 3, 1862: The Senate outlawed slavery in the District of Columbia with a vote of 29 to 14. This was seen to set the precedent that slavery should be abolished in any area over which the Federal government had jurisdiction. There were only 63 slaves in the District but the act set the wheels in motion for the abolition of slavery in all areas controlled by the Federal government. Encouraged by Union successes, US Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton today closed all US Recruiting Offices, thinking the North had enough manpower to bring the war to a successful end. They would not remain closed for long. Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston (CSA) was supposed to be leading an army towards the Tennessee River hamlet of Pittsburg Landing. Their mission: destroy the Union army under the suddenly dangerous Gen. U. S. Grant. Unfortunately, as was often the case in attempts to move large numbers of men, supplies, weapons, ammunition, horses and suchlike items, delays of one sort or another delayed the entire army. Johnston feared that he was losing the element of surprise. Skirmishes occurred near a building called Shiloh Church.
Friday, April 4, 1862: Confederate General Johnston's forces are again delayed and fail to attack Grant at Shiloh. Grant's reinforcements continue to arrive. Grant does not expect an open attack from the Confederates. Union General McClellan proceeds to Yorktown,VA and calls for more reinforcements.
Saturday, April 5, 1862: US Vice President Andrew Johnson, and now Federal Military Governor of Tennessee, suspends the mayor and other city officials for refusing to take a loyalty oath to the Union. General Joseph Johnston (CSA) gathers Confederate reinforcements to meet an imminent attack from Union General McClellan at Yorktown. Union General Grant's forces are still unaware of General Albert Johnston's plans to attack Shiloh. Grant didn’t know, which was understandable since his headquarters were in Savannah at “Cherry Mansion” (pictured) a couple of miles upriver. What was more alarming was that William T. Sherman, the commander on the scene, didn't either.
Meanwhile at Yorktown, VA, was the venue for fun on the Peninsula today. General John Magruder, (CSA), was defending with inadequate numbers. He faced General George McClellan, (USA), who had twice as many men. Magruder’s solution was to march his troops around in a large circle, making it appear to McClellan’s scouts that huge numbers of reinforcements were arriving. McClellan became nervous and dug in for siege instead of attacking. The real reinforcements, under J.E. Johnston, were on the way.
I would like to take this time to remind you that our history was written with blood on our doorsteps and in the fields of Tennessee and throughout our great nation. Take time to visit some of these historic sites, so near to us. Walk in the footsteps these brave men fought and gave their all for. Neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother. Remember, or learn what, why and how this changed America for what it is today. No other time in our short 236 year history was as deadly to Americans, as this time was. So many gave all they had for a cause they believed in and died for. Victors write the history, but both sides made it happen, right or wrong, they still gave their all. Their sacrifices gives us all the freedoms we enjoy today. Thank a service man or woman today for their service, either past or present.
The Hardeman County Chapter of the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA) Annual Historic Tour is coming up soon on May 5th & 6th. We have added “new” sites on the tour this year, covering “Places in Time” from the occupation of Bolivar in 1862 with a Union encampment, going through the roaring 1920’s. You can even enjoy a special luncheon on our tour. You can order your tickets securely today online on our web site: http://thepillars.org Special discounts are for groups, students and seniors. Also follow us on Facebook at “The Pillars and Little Courthouse.”
Next week, the Battle of Shiloh.