This Day in the Civil War

Sunday June 23 1861

Today the Union Army acquired an air force. One Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, who called himself “professor” although his academic affiliation is unclear, had last week demonstrated his tethered balloon to President Lincoln, communicating by telegraph from it. Today he ascended with an artist and observed the Confederate units around Falls Church, Va. The artist sketched the scene, providing the closest thing to aerial photography that the technology allowed.

Monday June 23 1862

A very important meeting was held at Robert E. Lee’s headquarters at Dabb’s House north of Richmond. All principle generals were there, including Stonewall Jackson who had ridden ahead of his divisions to make it. The assessment: McClellan was getting too close to Richmond for comfort. The city could not withstand a siege. It was time to go on the offensive and turn McClellan’s line and drive him back North. The decision reached, Jackson rode back to speed his divisions onward. The attack could not begin without them.

Tuesday June 23 1863

Union Gen. William S. Rosecrans was not a hasty commander. He and his forces had been in the vicinity of Murfreesboro, Tenn., for some time while increasingly desperate telegrams from headquarters implored him to move. Today he did so, moving towards Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg’s army at Tullahoma. The objective was to tie up Bragg’s men so they could not threatened Grant into lifting the siege of Vicksburg. This operation would take some time.

Thursday June 23 1864

Gen. David Hunter, USA, was possibly the most hated man in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia on this day. Emulating the tactics that William T. Sherman had demonstrated in Georgia and South Carolina, he had conducted a campaign of thorough destruction of everything in his path, making less distinction than usual between military and civilian. Now Jubal Early’s army was in hot and furious pursuit, Hunter was withdrawing towards West Virginia. Stopping at Sweet Sulphur Springs he wanted to burn a famous hotel located there, but was talked out of it by his staff.

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