This Day in the Civil War

Sunday May 26 1861

The life of a bureaucrat is not an easy one. Just when you think you have solved the problems of the day, some nuisance comes along to ruin the routine. Such a problem was faced by the Postmaster General of the United States today. Montgomery Blair announced that mail service would no longer be provided to states which had seceded as of the 31st of May. In fact a system of communication across the changing border between North and South continued for the entire war, with mail passing under flag of truce.

Monday May 26 1862

As Gen. Nathaniel Banks’ men continued to scurry for cover in Harpers Ferry, their victorious foes were making an inventory of the contents of the supply wagons Banks had left behind. An imposing list it was too: 9,000 rifles, half a million rounds of ammunition, several pieces of artillery. And then there was the food! Wagonloads of bacon, bread, sugar, and salt were counted. There were even several small herds of cattle. Stonewall Jackson’s men ate well this night.

Tuesday May 26 1863

America, north and south, was not a world power at the time of the Civil War. Much materiel had to be purchased abroad, and gold went a lot further than paper money or trade goods. It was therefore a great relief to the Union government that a huge gold strike was found in Alder Gulch, in what would later be known as Montana. Previously, all the gold had come from the California mines, which were considered vulnerable to Confederate attack. Alder Gulch later became known as Virginia City.

Thursday May 26 1864

The Battle of North Anna essentially came to an end when Grant decided that Lee’s position by the river of that name was too strong to attack. Grant did not retreat, though; he instead started his armies moving further around Lee’s right in the direction of Hanovertown. This time the drive to Richmond might drift, duck, dodge, feint or circle, but it would not let up.

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