This Day in the Civil War

Sunday, March 2 1862

Leonidas K. Polk, ordained bishop in the Episcopal Church and major general of the Confederate army, completed a most unpleasant assignment today when he completed the evacuation of Columbus, Kentucky. This marked the end of the “Kentucky Line” of defense, which Polk himself helped to create when he originally took his forces into the state without authorization. The state had been so evenly divided between loyalists to South and North, with probably just as many who wished a plague on both their houses, that the last vote of the regularly elected legislature had been a resolution of neutrality and ban on troops from either side entering the state. Polk’s new defensive line was established at Island No. 10 in the Mississippi River, and Fort Pillow just north of Memphis, Tennessee.

Monday, March 2 1863

Admiral David Farragut, USN, in New Orleans had a chat with some visitors from Mobile, Alabama, who, he wrote “...all concur that provisions are very high [expensive], and very scarce even at those high figures. Flour, $100 per barrel, bacon and meat of every kind, $1 a pound, meal, $20 a sack.” What is not known is how he came to be chatting with visitors from Mobile, which was deep in Confederate territory, or how they came to be in Union-held New Orleans.

Wednesday, March 2 1864

The failed raid by US Cavalry forces to free Union prisoners (the Federal explanation) or kidnap Jefferson Davis (the Confederate belief) was becoming more of a debacle by the day. The 500 men under Col. Ulric Dahlgren were heading north and east for their own lines. They made it as far as Mantapike Hill before they were ambushed by Fitzhugh Lee’s horsemen. Dahlgren was killed in the ensuing battle, and more than 100 of his men were captured.

Thursday, March 2 1865

The Battle of Waynesboro, Va., is little noted in history books. It marked the last stand of Jubal Early’s once-mighty army in the Shenandoah Valley. Federals, led by one George Armstrong Custer, rolled up Early’s right, eventually turning it into a rout. Early, his officers, and a remnant of the men escaped to Richmond. Custer captured 200 wagons, about a thousand men, and, most mortifying of all, seventeen battle flags of proud Confederate regiments.

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