This Day in the Civil War

Monday, Jan. 13, 1862
CRAFTY CAMERON CASHIERS CLAY

In a follow-up to the resignation of Simon Cameron, Lincoln named Edwin M. Stanton as the new Secretary of War. Cameron was named Minister to Russia, replacing Cassius Marcellus Clay. Stanton was a prominent Washington lawyer, having served previously as Attorney General during the Buchanan Administration. The council of cabinet, top-ranking generals, President Lincoln and George McClellan met again in the afternoon, continuing to analyze the actions of the war of the previous summer, and plan the spring campaigns. McClellan, still recovering from illness, acted resentful about interference from outsiders to the Army of the Potomac. Lincoln, conversely, was baffled by McClellan’s reluctance to actually fight the army he commanded. Meanwhile, Lincoln wrote the generals in the West suggesting they try attacking the enemy “with superior forces at different points at the same time.”



Tuesday, Jan. 13, 1863
GUNBOAT GUERILLAS GATHER GRIEVANCES

Operating out of Memphis, Tenn., the USS General Bragg went in search of irregulars who were suspected of planning to attack steamboats. Lt. Joshua Bishop, commanding, “ascertained force of guerillas in the neighborhood...proceeded to Mound City, firing shells at intervals into the woods..disembarked the troops. The infantry made prisoners of several citizens, who had been harboring guerillas.” No actual guerillas were harmed in the making of this operation. Other Union naval operations did not go so well today; on the Cumberland River, Confederate Gen. Joseph Wheeler captured the USS Slidell and three troop transports carrying wounded men. The wounded were all piled onto one boat and allowed to go on; the other ships were burned.



Wednesday Jan. 13 1864
DAVIS DEMANDS DALTON DEADLINE

Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, operating out of Dalton, Ga., was becoming increasingly surrounded, and felt his force was in danger at its present location. His options, however, were severely constrained when he got a telegram from President Davis, informing him that any fallback or withdrawal would have devastating political as well as military consequences. “I trust you will not deem it necessary to adopt such a measure,” Davis wrote. He was not the only president communicating with men in the field today: Abraham Lincoln sent a telegram to Nathaniel Banks in New Orleans, prodding him to move more quickly to reestablish civil government in Louisiana. Former Confederates, of course, were ineligible to serve.



Friday, Jan. 13, 1865
LUCE LEGACY LONG-LASTING

Lt. Commander Stephen B. Luce came up with an idea today while listening to an address by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. Luce’s ship, the USS Pontiac, continued support of Sherman’s troops’ movements across the Savannah River at Sister’s Ferry, Ga., as they continued to move toward Charleston. Luce wrote, “After hearing General Sherman’s clear exposition of the military situation, the scales seemed to fall from my eyes.....it dawned on me that there were certain fundamental principles....of general application whether the operations were on land or sea.” Luce in later years was a leader in founding the Naval War College.

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