This Day in the Civil War

Tuesday June 18 1861

Col. James W. Ripley, believe it or not, was the man in charge of munitions production for the United States. Unfortunately several of his better manufacturing plants were captured, and the machinery relocated, by the Confederates in these early days of the war. (The plant at Harpers Ferry was shipped to North Carolina in its entirety.) Since demand was sky-high to supply all the incoming recruits, Col. Ripley was driven to place huge orders for guns with private manufacturers. The Colt, Remington, and other companies profited thereby.

Wednesday June 18 1862

The Cumberland Gap was an odd geographical feature in more ways than one. Famous since the days of Davy Crockett, and a vital pass through the Cumberland Mountains, it was fought over repeatedly. Today it was in the hands of the Union, taken by Gen. George W. Morgan and company. Another oddity of the area was political: the Gap was close to the parts of eastern Tennessee and Kentucky, and western Carolina and Georgia, where sentiment was strongly pro-Union despite being in the heart of the South.

Thursday June 18 1863

Maj. Gen. John McClernand was a politician from Illinois who was commanding the US 13th Corps. He had at one point been promised command of the assault on Vicksburg, and was more than a little miffed that some upstart named Grant had the job. Grant detested him in return and wanted him gone. He had his excuse today when McClernand sent a message to HIS troops that made it sound like they were the only soldiers in the attack, and all the other Union men were cowards and incompetents. He was relieved of command and sent back to politic at home.

Saturday June 18 1864

U.S. Grant was nothing if not realistic, and he conceded today that he was not going to take Petersburg, Va. by direct assault. Not after Robert E. Lee had moved the entire Army of Northern Virginia in to defensive positions, he wasn’t. Therefore he settled into siege. The Union controlled two-fifths of the railroad lines and several roads. He concentrated his efforts on gaining possession of the remainder of the transport system and cutting off the flow of supplies.

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