This Day in the Civil War

Thursday, Feb. 27 1862
CONFEDERATE CONSTITUTION CATCHES COLD

The right (or privilege) of habeas corpus was enshrined in the Constitution of the Confederate States of America as well as the one in Washington from which it came. Based on much older common law, it required that persons only be arrested on the basis of a warrant issued by a judge, specifying what law had been broken. Again imitating the United States, the Confederate Congress today gave the President the authority to suspend this right. Davis, actually, used it much less than Lincoln eventually would.



Friday, Feb. 27 1863
POOP PERSONS PERILOUSLY PRECIPITATED

Captain Raphael Semmes, CSN, was the terror of the Atlantic for United States Navy ships as well as any vessel making for port in Northern territory. Roaming as far as South Africa and even China, he and the CSS Alabama were dreaded foes. Today he set upon and captured the merchant vessel Washington with a cannonball which , he wrote, “wet the people on her poop [deck], by the spray of a shot...” The ship, undamaged, was released on a bond.



Saturday, Feb. 27 1864
APPALLING ANDERSONVILLE ACTIVATED

Americus, Ga., was the closest town to the site of a new camp for Federal prisoners of war. Officially known as Camp Sumter, the facility would go down in history as Andersonville. Confederate policy of sending officers and enlisted men to different prisons may have contributed to discipline problems, but Andersonville’s horrors were aggravated by overcrowding, lack of food, and a terrible commandant.



Monday, Feb. 27 1865
SHERIDAN STROLLS SOUTHERN SHENANDOAH

Spring was not quite yet come to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, but Phil Sheridan’s men were stirring anyway. Ten thousand cavalrymen, under command of Wesley Merritt, departed on this day from Winchester, heading south. All the Confederacy had left to oppose them were two weak brigades, headed by Jubal Early. Merritt’s orders were to wreck the Virginia Central Railroad, and do what damage he could to the James River Canal.

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