This Day in the Civil War

Monday, March 3 1862

The campaign down the Mississippi continued today. Forts Henry and Donelson being secured, the scene shifted to New Madrid, Missouri. This town, which had been the epicenter of the strongest earthquake ever recorded in North America (in 1811), now was blessed with the attention of Federal forces commanded by Gen. John Pope.

Tuesday, March 3 1863

The truce between the parties in the longest-standing conflict in American history continued--the Army and the Navy were getting along in the West. Admiral D. D. Porter wrote to his boss, Navy Secretary Welles: “There is a delightful concert here between the U.S. Army and Navy. Grant and Sherman are on board almost every day...we agree in everything...I hope sincerely for the sake of the Union that nothing may occur to make a change here.”

Thursday, March 3 1864

A small Union naval force was working on the Ouachita River in Louisiana. Led by Lt. Commander Ramsay, the force had proceeded upriver, being shot at by shore batteries which damaged one ship’s gun turret and another’s starboard engine. The ships shot back and the batteries were silenced. Today the flotilla came back downriver, picking up bales of cotton and the occasional artillery piece.

Friday, March 3 1865

The United States Congress sat for the last day of its term, and like many, left the most important work for last. It established today the Bureau for the Relief of Freedmen and Refugees, to be known to history as the Freedmen’s Bureau. Designed to take temporary control of refugees, abandoned lands and properties, and provide temporary food relief to those displaced by war, it wound up building schools and colleges and providing political assistance to newly (and temporarily) enfranchised blacks.

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