This Day in the Civil War

Wednesday, May 15 1861

United States interference in the affairs of Central America has a long history. Today the USS Bainbridge was ordered to the Atlantic coast of Panama. This was a major transshipment point for cargo from the American west coast--including the gold mines of California. The concern was that this would be very attractive to Southern privateers, since the Confederate government desperately needed the gold to buy munitions abroad.

Thursday May 15 1862

A fleet of five Union ironclads, including the USS Monitor, steamed up the James River towards Richmond today. Since taking the naval base at Norfolk the lower end of the river was undefended. The ships got within eight miles of the Confederate capital when they came to Fort Darling, the defensive station on Drewry’s Bluff. Obstructions in the river slowed them, and the cannons blasted them. They retreated. Drewry’s Bluff was never taken.

Friday May 15 1863

With the capture of the capital of Mississippi yesterday, Gen. U.S. Grant moved the main part of his army back out of town to Edward’s Station, not far from Clinton. This placed his men only about four miles from the Confederates under Gen. Pemberton. Meanwhile, back in Jackson, Grant had left Gen. Sherman with orders to take what the army needed and destroy anything remaining that might help the Southern military effort.

Sunday May 15 1964

Gen. Sherman had his own army by this time, and he was fighting the men of Joseph E. Johnston once again, this time at a little Georgia town called Resaca. The battle had actually opened yesterday, but overnight Sherman had got his entire force in position, and Johnston had got reinforcements from Gen. Polk. In a separate action, some 247 students from Virginia Military Institute took part in a battle against a larger Union force under Gen. Siegel. The Confederates won, and the day is still celebrated as a holiday in Lexington, Va.

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