This Day in the Civil War

Tuesday, April 16 1861

Following Lincoln’s call to the state governors for the raising of militia, reactions were mixed. Even within some states, especially border states, there were conflicts. Tennessee had voted against secession by a margin of 10,000, but Gov. Isham Harris refused to send troops and asked the Confederacy for admission. Newspaper editor William Brownlow of Knoxville wrote he would “fight the Secessionist leaders till Hell froze over, and then fight them on the ice.”

Wednesday, April 16 1862

A year ago in the wake of Fort Sumter, men on both sides had flocked to the colors. This year things were different: Jefferson Davis signed a bill establishing a draft. This covered all able-bodied white men between the ages of 18 and 35. It allowed for no exemptions based on occupation, but did allow for the hiring of substitutes. Men were to be assigned to units from their home states, and allowed to elect their officers at the company, battalion and regimental levels.

Thursday, April 16 1863

The Mississippi River is quite wide as it passes Vicksburg. It is also quite twisty, however, and cannot be run at high speed. Admiral D.D. Porter drove his twelve ships as fast as they could go tonight as they ran the passage to help ferry Grant’s army across the river for the coming battle. A defensive system of flares and barrels of burning tar were used to light up the night, and one ship was lost. The remainder tied up at Hard Times on the west bank of the river.

Saturday, April 16 1864

Although few land battles took place in Florida, there was naval action going on there for most of the war. The Army transport General Hunter fell victim to this action today when it struck a floating mine in the St. John’s River and was sunk. It was the second victim of a number of explosives that had been planted by the Confederates late last month; the transport Maple Leaf had been destroyed earlier.

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