This Day in the Civil War

Thursday June 20 1861

The governor of Kansas was not a happy man, and had not been for some time. He had only been in office since Jan. 19, that being the day Kansas had been admitted to the Union, and already he was having to issue a call for the formation of militia. Although Kansas was, in theory, a free state, it was altogether too close to Missouri for comfort and pro-Southerners were crossing the line to stir up troubles. Defense was needed. More population would help too--Kansas had barely 100,000 residents in the entire state. Twenty thousand of these would go to war before it was all over.

Friday June 20 1862

Brig. Gen. Thomas Williams led 3.000 men onto boats in Baton Rouge, La. and headed upriver. Their destination: Swampy Toe. This charmingly-named site happened to be on the west side of the Mississippi River opposite Vicksburg. The mission: establish a base, and commence digging a canal to enable ships to bypass the cannon batteries which were being set up in ever-increasing numbers on the cliffs of that city. This canal project would eventually be taken over by Gen. Grant and vastly expanded. Many would die of drowning and disease.

Saturday June 20 1863

This was proving to be another day of fierce action but in many widely separated areas, rather than one big battle in one place. Activities occurred in such diverse locations as: Middletown, Md., Diascund Bridge, Va. Government Springs, Utah; Waynesville Mo.; Vicksburg, Miss., which was subjected to heavier-than-usual bombardment from land and river; and La Fourche Crossing, La., where a Confederate cavalry attack went on, off and on, for two days before being repulsed.

Monday June 20 1864

Gen. John Hunt Morgan, CSA, was the scourge of Union-held areas in Kentucky, riding out of Tennessee. On one recent foray he had had several men captured. These were transferred today to the Federal prisoner-of-war camp at Rock Island Barracks in the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois. One of these prisoners, Pvt. James P. Gold, spent the rest of the war there because he refused to take the oath of loyalty to the Union. He lived until 1934, one of the last Civil War vets.

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