This Day in the Civil War

Monday May 27 1861

William B. Taney, Chief Justice of the United States, ruled today that the president did not have the power to suspend the right of habeas corpus. John Merryman had been arrested in Maryland by military authorities for allegedly recruiting for the Confederate army. “Ex Parte Merryman” was hotly debated. Lincoln, maintaining that the Constitution permitted suspension of rights in cases of rebellion or time of war, simply ignored the ruling.

Tuesday May 27 1862

Gen. Nathaniel Banks humiliation at the hands of Stonewall Jackson had been going on for some time now. Assigned to capture Jackson, Banks had been outthought and out-marched. When Jackson attacked, he was outfought, and lost 2000 of his force of 8000, plus all his supplies and wagons. Banks tried to make a stand at Winchester and lost, then Williamsport and lost again. Today the remains of his force straggled across the Potomac towards Harper’s Ferry. Banks thought they would be safe there, but Jackson was headed that way too.

Wednesday May 27 1863

May was not a good month for U.S. Gen. Nathaniel Banks, and even worse for those serving under him. Today he was in command of an army of some 13,000, with orders to launch an attack on Port Hudson, La. The terrain was difficult, with heavy timber and deep ravines, and the defenders, under Maj. Gen. Franklin Gardner, were well dug in. Banks’ command skills were again evident as the disjointed, disorganized attack failed, with some 1995 casualties to 235 Confederate.

Friday May 27 1864

The United States Cavalry had started out the war in sorry shape, poorly staffed, organized, equipped and used. Four years had made many changes. The latest was the replacement of Gen. Gregg by Gen. Phil Sheridan as commander of the force. They could move--today’s fighting was almost all cavalry, and it covered actions at Hanover Junction, Sexton’s Station, Mount Carmel Church, Pole Cat Creek, Dabney’s Ferry, Little River and Salem Church. The infantry, meanwhile, continued to march toward the Pamunkey River.

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