This Day in the Civil War

Friday, Feb. 7, 1862
CONESTOGA CRUSHES CONFEDERATE CRAFT

Lt. S.L. Phelps, cruising the Tennessee River in command of the USS Conestoga, came upon three Confederate ships and trapped them. Their crews, determining that they were unable to save their ships, set them afire to keep them from capture and dove overboard. Two of them, Appleton Belle and Lynn Boyd, burned uneventfully. The third, Samuel Orr, was loaded with torpedoes. According to Phelps’ report, “..the whole river for half a mile around about was completely beaten up by the falling fragments and the shower of shot, grape, balls, etc.”



Saturday, Feb. 7, 1863
NASTINESS NEARS NEWPORT NEWS

William Farrar (better known as “Baldy”) Smith had just received command of the newly reorganized Ninth Corps of the Federal army two days ago. On this day, Smith had his new command moved. In order to increase the perceived threat to the Confederate capital at Richmond, the Ninth Corps was taken out of the Army of the Potomac and transferred as an independent command to Newport News, Va.



Sunday, Feb. 7, 1864
PERSECUTED PICKETT’S PERSONNEL PURLOINED

Gen. George Pickett, whose division had been decimated in the charge at Gettysburg, had exaggerated somewhat if he actually said that day “General Lee, I have no division.” What forces he had left were still fighting for the Confederacy. On this day he had just returned from a foray (unsuccessful) to New Berne, N.C. He was then informed by a letter from President Davis that he was to detach two brigades to come to the defense of Richmond. The populace was alarmed by rumors that the Union prisoners there were plotting to escape and pillage the town.



Tuesday, Feb. 7, 1865
PETERSBURG PERIMETER PROLONGED

As Grant continued to extend his forces around Petersburg, he backed off from an attempt to take Boydt Plank Road. He instead fell back and established fortified positions near Hatcher’s Run, below Burgess’ Mill. The effect of this was to force Lee to defend a line from Petersburg to Richmond of almost 37 miles. As Lee had only about 45,000 troops by now, this left the lines very thin indeed. They were still fighting, though: the last two days cost the Federals 170 killed, 1160 wounded and 182 unaccounted for. Confederate casualties are unknown, as records by this time were either never collected or soon destroyed.

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