This Day in the Civil War

Saturday, April 13 1861

A squadron of Federal ships lay just offshore of Charleston Harbor, loaded with supplies for Fort Sumter. That installation had been under bombardment for thirty-six hours when Maj. Robert Anderson, who had been prepared to evacuate anyway, decided to surrender. First, though, he fired a 50-gun salute to his descending flag. A spark from one of the guns fell into a powder barrel, causing an explosion which killed Pvt. Daniel Hough, the first casualty of the Civil War.

Sunday, April 13 1862

Although little studied in later years, there had been a very strong and very serious attempt to set up a Confederate state in what is now New Mexico. This had reached its “high-water mark” at the Battle of Glorieta Pass last month--which the South had lost. Today the pursuit continued as Federal cavalry chased the remains of the Confederate forces into the area of El Paso.

Monday, April 13 1863

Gen. Ambrose Burnside had been commander of the Army of the Potomac. After getting huge numbers of his men killed in futile charges at Fredericksburg, it had been necessary to find some stairs to kick him up. The result had been his “promotion” to command the Department of the Ohio, a non-combat job. Today he announced the death penalty for anyone aiding the Confederacy, and the deportation of anyone sympathizing with same.

Wednesday, April 13 1864

A joint Army-Navy expedition, of the sort which had worked well in the West, proceeded today up the Nansemond River in Virginia. The object of this voyage was to capture the Confederate torpedo boat Squib, which had made a nuisance of itself by attacking USS Minnesota a few days earlier. Up the Nansemond were found only a few Confederate soldiers who were made prisoner. Interrogation of these men found that the Squib had slithered off to the James River and was heading for Richmond.

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