This Day in the Civil War

Tuesday June 11 1861

While Stonewall Jackson was fighting to keep the Yankees from retaking Virginia, a part of it was starting to slip out of his grasp already. Western Virginia had voted heavily against secession before the war, reflecting the deep social and economic divisions between the mountainous West and the tidewater East. Today a group of pro-Unionists held a very quietly organized meeting in Wheeling, just across the river from Ohio. The purpose of the gathering was to set up a secession from the Secessionists, and most of the membership later held office in the new state of West Virginia.

Wednesday June 11 1862

Private John Jackman of the Orphan Brigade kept a diary during his war years, which remains popular and in print today. His note for this day may be of interest, particularly to those who cook under Civil War conditions. “Edibles are running low in camp--bill of fare: corn-bread, pickled beef, fat back--and molasses. Sometimes we get something from the country people. Prices current: Spring chickens, 50 to 75 cts.; tough hens, 80 cts. to $1; old roosters, $1 to $1.25; old ganders, $1.50; goose, same; vegetables, 50 cts for peeping over the fence into the garden!”

Thursday June 11 1863

Clement Valandigham had been a duly elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio. He was so dedicated to peace, and opposed to a war of reunification that Lincoln had ordered him exiled to the Confederacy. They didn’t want him either and sent him to Canada. Today he was nominated for President by the Peace Democratic Party at their convention in Ohio. The fact that he was liable to arrest if he stepped foot back in America seemed to bother no one.

Saturday June 11 1864

U.S. Gen. David Hunter was in the middle of a campaign in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia that would make Sherman’s March Through Georgia pale in comparison. While Phil Sheridan was busy fighting the Battle of Trevilian Station, claimed by some to be the biggest cavalry battle of the War, to join him, Hunter was busy in Lexington. First he burned the Virginia Military Institute, most of whose faculty, staff and students were off serving the Confederacy. He then committed depredations on historic Washington College, including, allegedly, stabling his men’s horses in the main building. The major military consequence of this was that Hunter’s delay allowed Jubal Early to join forces with Breckinridge at Lynchburg.

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