This Day in the Civil War

Saturday May 25 1861

The East Room of the White House had held the body of Elmer Ellsworth as it lay in state, and it was the site of his funeral service today. His friendship with the Lincolns as well as the dramatic circumstances of his death--shotgunned by Alexandria, Va., hotelkeeper James Jackson as he tore a Confederate flag from the hotel roof--combined to make him the first martyr of the Union cause. Funerals, alas, would soon become far too commonplace to be held at the White House.

Sunday May 25 1862

Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, better known as “Stonewall”, was a deeply religious man who went to great lengths to avoid battle on the Sabbath. Today it could not be avoided, so he administered a drubbing to Gen. Banks’ men in the Battle of Winchester. Casualties were lopsided: 400 Southerners out of an army of 16000; more than 2000 Federals from a force of 8000, the vast majority missing or captured. The survivors scrambled back to Harpers Ferry, leaving their huge load of supplies to Jackson.

Monday May 25 1863

Rep. Charles L. Vallandigham, D-Ohio, would in a later time have been known as a diehard peacenik. He opposed secession but also opposed the war to prevent it, and he opposed Lincoln. Last year he had visited an Ohio regiment in camp near Washington and had been the target of rocks and garbage. Finally he was arrested for treason for expressing allegedly pro-Confederate sentiments, and sentenced to prison. Lincoln changed the sentence to exile from the United States. Today Vallandigham was turned over to Confederate authorities in Tennessee.

Wednesday May 25 1864

Gen. William T. Sherman had marched across Georgia with little impediment so far. This changed today at a place called New Hope Church. Sherman’s left, under Schofield, faced Gen. Hood; on his right, McPherson faced Hardee; in the center it was Thomas against Polk. Combat raged along Pumpkin Vine Creek, with Hooker getting in to the act. A furious thunderstorm raged, casualties were appalling, but the Southern lines held.

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