This Day in the Civil War

Monday, April 7 1862

The Battle of Shiloh entered its second day with the arrival of Union reinforcements under Gen. Lew Wallace (who had to survive in order to write “Ben-Hur” years later) and Gen. Don Carlos Buell (who wrote nothing of note) enabling Grant to declare it a Union victory since the day ended with them in possession of the field. In terms of casualties it was closer to a draw: 1754 Union dead, 1723 Confederate. The total casualties, dead, wounded and missing, were nearly 24,000--more than the Battle of Waterloo.

Tuesday, April 7 1863

Flag Officer duPont commenced his attack on Charleston today with the planned assault on Ft. Sumter. Delayed by tides and later by a problem with a torpedo raft, the assault got underway at 3 p.m. The ships were pummeled by fire from both Sumter and Ft. Moultrie, and all were hit dozens of times. duPont’s flagship, the USS New Ironsides, sat directly over a 2000 pound torpedo while the Confederates made a frantic effort to set it off; it was later determined that a wagon had cut the wire leading to it. Darkness cut off the attack, and duPont later advised that Charleston could not be taken by sea assault.

Thursday, April 7 1864

Following the battle of Gettysburg, the corps of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet had been detached from the Army of Northern Virginia and sent to assist in the defense of the Western theater. He had arrived just in time for the Battle of Chickamauga, after which he had moved against Knoxville to no avail, then gone into winter camp. Today the orders came to return to Virginia.

Friday, April 7 1865

US Grant commenced on this day a most delicate negotiation--he sent a letter, under flag of truce, to Gen. Robert E. Lee. “The result of the last week must convince you,” he said, “of the hopelessness of further resistance...(to avoid) any further effusion of blood, by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the CS Army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.”

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