This Day in the Civil War

Thursday, Jan. 16 1862

The USS “Hatteras” steamed into the harbor Cedar Key, Fla., and wreaked a path of destruction. She destroyed seven blockade-running ships, albeit rather small ones. Crews from the Hatteras then went ashore and wrecked the railroad depot, tore up a telegraph office, and ruined a wharf. Miscellaneous other damage caused the community disruption for some time. Elsewhere, in Kentucky, Gen. Felix Zollicoffer knew he was in trouble with his superiors, but did not yet know just how much trouble he was about to be in. He had taken his troops from Mill Springs north across the Cumberland River, and then been ordered back to his previous position. He stayed where he was, unaware that Federal forces under Gen. Thomas were a good deal closer than he realized.

Friday, Jan. 16, 1863

The USS “Baron DeKalb”, under command of Lt. Commander J.G. Walker, went up the White River as far as Devall’s Bluff, Ark. Walker sent ashore a landing party and took possession of all “public property” he could find, specifically guns and munitions. When Gen. Willis Gorman arrived with infantry, Walker turned the spoils over to him and sailed off on his next project, the capture of the Confederate steamer “Blue Wing”. Considerably less successful was the Union blockade effort in the area around Mobile Bay. The CSS “Florida” had been in Mobile for four months undergoing repairs which were now completed. Her commander, Lt. John N. Maffitt, fired up her boilers and simply ran past the apparently dozing crew of the USS “ R.R. Cuyler”, which they passed within 300 yards. She went on to capture a ship, taking the confiscated cargo to sell in Havana.

Saturday, Jan. 16, 1864

Dandridge, Tenn., and its environs was the scene of a sizeable cavalry battle on this day and the next. The Federal forces were somewhat undermanned because Gen. William Sooy Smith had led a cavalry expedition from Memphis towards Meridian, Miss., where he would eventually run into trouble of his own with Nathan Bedford Forrest. Back and forth the action went today , extending nearly to Clark’s Ferry, and inflicting large numbers of casualties on both sides. At the end of the engagement the Federals withdrew to the area of Strawberry Plains, Tenn.

Monday, Jan. 16, 1865

Ft. Fisher, N.C. was not done killing Union soldiers. The conquering Federal forces, who had taken control of the facility on the second day of the third attempt, figured they had quite a bit of frustration to vent, and celebrating to do. They did not, however, pick a good place to do it. Their first action was to get as drunk as possible. This was followed by celebrations with such utensils were at hand, mostly shooting off pistols and other weapons. In the course of all this they continued looting everything left in the fort. Somehow in the festivities a spark from one of the guns fell into the main ammunition magazine, which promptly went up in a tremendous explosion. Casualties included 25 dead, 66 wounded, and 13 missing and never accounted for, for a total of at least 104 casualties.

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