This Day in the Civil War

Tuesday May 14, 1861

At the outbreak of the Civil War William Tecumseh Sherman was a schoolmaster. A West Point graduate, he had resigned from the Army as many did in search of a better income. What’s more, the school he headed was in Baton Rouge, La (later to be Louisiana State University.) Living in the South did not alter his allegiance, though. Today he reenlisted and was commissioned as the commander of the 13th Regular Infantry.

Wednesday May 14 1862

A Union soldier from the 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was on picket duty today. As the duties were not onerous, he spent the time writing a letter home. He told of an incident the day before: “A strong scouting party went out to Tuscarora (N.C.)...where is kept a post of (enemy) observation....they left but before doing so set fire to a new steam saw and grain mill, which was destroyed. These people have a great notion of burning their property on our approach. ..they ought to know that it is of no use to us, and in the end will be a sore loss to them.”

Thursday May 14 1863

Jackson, Miss., was in the path of the Union army today. Defended by Joe Johnston, the state capital was threatened by the forces of U.S. Grant. As Grant had considerably more men, Johnston concentrated his efforts on evacuating all possible supplies, leaving a mere two brigades behind to delay the Yankee advance. They held out until mid-afternoon.

Saturday May 14 1864

Following several days of extremely heavy fighting around Spotsylvania, Va., neither side was really ready for another full-fledged battle. Grant continued to edge his forces around to the right of the Confederate lines. Warren’s forces led the way, followed by Wright’s corps. Besides the need to resupply the armies, enthusiasm (and everything else) was dampened by heavy downpours.

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