This Day in the Civil War

Thursday May 16 1861

The State of Tennessee was officially and ceremoniously admitted to the Confederate States of America today. The Confederate Congress took the action at its meeting place in Montgomery, Ala., which was the capital of the secessionist nation at this time. The first capital would not be the capital much longer. To encourage the secession of Virginia it was decided to move the Confederate seat of government to Richmond.

Friday, May 16 1862

U.S. Gen. Benjamin Butler had a habit of making friends wherever he went. His current assignment was as commander of the military occupation of New Orleans. Yesterday he had issued his infamous “woman order”, directing that ladies who were disrespectful to Union soldiers would be treated as common prostitutes were treated. Today he merely closed one of the city’s newspapers (the "Bee") and put the other, the "Delta" under new management, his own.

Saturday May 16 1863

James D. Bullock was on a mission in Europe to commission the building of warships for the Confederate government. His only problem was that he had no immediate means to pay for these vessels. Trying to get the work done completely on credit had got him laughed out of England, so he was trying his luck in France. There too, he wrote to Navy Sec. Malloy today, “..the French builders, like the English, wanted money, and were not willing to lay down the ships unless I could give them security in the shape of cotton certificates.” These were essentially bonds payable in bales of cotton instead of money.

Monday May 16 1864

Three years ago yesterday the Union army launched its first attack on Fort Darling on Drewry’s Bluff on the James River. It failed. Today another attempt was made, this time by land instead of by ship. Beauregard’s Confederates were actually unsuccessful in breaking any Union lines, but poor communication and inept leadership caused the Federals to pull back anyway. Richmond was saved again.

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