This Day in the Civil War

Monday Jan. 6 1862

While action was relatively quiet in the Eastern Theater of upper Virginia, this was definitely not the case in the river war of the west. U.S. Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote had started last year with a dreadful shortage of boats of any sort, gunboats in particular. He was now on the other side of the problem: by hook, crook, confiscation, conversion and construction, boats had been obtained, and he wrote to the Navy Department in Washington for trained sailors to man them. He asked for 1000. They sent him 500, and told Foote to get the rest from the Army. This resulted in correspondence between Generals Halleck in Washington and Grant in St. Louis, and Grant came up with an idea: He would supply Foote with sailors from Army men languishing in guardhouses for various offenses.

Tuesday Jan. 6 1863

The fastest way to make the most money, in this year of the American Civil War, was to successfully run a shipload of supplies into a seaport of the Confederate States of America. This fact attracted the attention of shipowners and captains from many parts of the world other than the Americas. Often they were British, as was the case today when the vessel was captured trying to make it to Mobile, Ala. As lucrative as the cargo could be if the blockade was run successfully, it was just as lucrative to the crew of the capturing vessel if they failed. The law of the sea stated that the cargo of such a ship was confiscated, sold, and the proceeds distributed among the captain and crew of the blockader by a prescribed formula.

Wednesday Jan. 6 1864

Little-known even to serious students of the Civil War were actions which took place in the very-far-western theater, areas neither in the Confederate nor yet the United States of America. We note today a campaign which took place over the course of most of January in New Mexico Territory. The participants were Federal troops under commander Kit Carson on one side, and the Navajo Nation on the other. Skirmishes and raids had begun yesterday near Ft. Sumner, N.M., and today continued. Action raged from Fort Canby to the Canon de Chelly region. Perhaps these conflicts are better described as "early Indian Wars" actions than as Civil War fights anyway.

Friday, Jan. 6 1865

U.S. Gen. Benjamin Butler had one of the most interesting careers of any major Civil War figure. Not a terribly successful career, but definitely interesting. Reviled in the South, object of a declaration by Jefferson Davis that if he ever fell into Confederate hands he was to be shot on sight rather than treated as a prisoner of war, he was coming to be just about as popular in the North. His last two missions, the assault on Fort Fisher and the excavation of a canal to bypass chokepoints on the James River to Richmond, had both been miserable failures. Gen. U.S. Grant decided today this was a matter up with which he could not put, and wrote Lincoln asking that Butler be removed from command of the Army of the James. Under the command structure of the day, if anything had happened to Grant at this point, Butler would have been his successor.

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