This Day in the Civil War

Sunday May 5 1861
BUTLER BEATS BELLIGERENT B&O

Security around the capital was a constant worry for the United States for very nearly the entire war. Troops to protect the government were now being brought in by ship, as the rail lines were either in Confederate hands or in constant danger from partisan saboteurs. Today Gen. Benjamin Butler improved the situation somewhat by capturing the Railroad Relay House on the B&O line. This effectively secured the line from Washington, through Annapolis, to Baltimore.



Monday May 5 1862
WILLIAMSBURG WIDENS WARS WOES

The Union Army, having taken Yorktown without a fight when Gen. Joseph Johnston withdrew, got a little ahead of themselves today. Units of the Army of the Potomac came upon the rearguard of Longstreet and Hill, in trenches dug earlier by Magruder. What was essentially a fighting retreat turned into pitched battle as more and more soldiers piled in. Winfield Hancock’s men eventually outflanked the Confederate line. Only with the fall of night were the Southerners able to complete their withdrawal.



Tuesday May 5 1863
CHANCELLORSVILLE CARNAGE CRUELLY CALCULATED

As morning dawned today Gen. Lee prepared to launch another attack on Hooker’s Union army, but found that they were in full retreat across the Rappahannock and cancelled the plan. Both sides had more than enough to do in treating the wounded, burying the dead, and tallying the survivors. In three days of battle in Fredericksburg and around the Chancellor house the bloodshed had been horrific: from an army of 134,000 the Union had suffered around 17,000 casualties. The southern losses were lower in numbers but higher in percent--12,800 out of an army of 60,000, including the irreplaceable “Stonewall” Jackson. He was on injured reserve after surgeons decided the wound in his shoulder was so severe as to require amputation of the limb.



Thursday May 5 1864
WILDERNESS WEAPONS WIELDED WICKEDLY

The first great battle of the year got underway quickly today in the thick underbrush of the Wilderness. The Union 5th Corps under Gouvernor K. Warren was battling the Confederate 2nd Corps under Ewell on the Orange Turnpike as Meade and Grant raced to bring up the Union Second, Sixth and Ninth as fast as possible in hopes of flanking the Confederate right. Both sides entrenched for the night.

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