This Day in the Civil War

Wednesday June 26 1861

The sum total of events on this date that are Civil War related consist of two minor skirmishes, one in Frankfort and one at Patterson’s Creek, both in Western Virginia. This early in the war efforts were being concentrated on recruiting and training troops, few if any of whom were in any condition to be put in the field.

Thursday June 26 1862

The battle is known by several names: Mechanicsville, Beaver Dam Creek and Ellerson’s Mill among others. It was the second day of what none of the participants knew would come to be called the Seven Days campaign. It was a time of desperation for the Confederacy, as McClellan’s forces were alarmingly close to Richmond. The plan seemed clear: Hill (A.P.) was to lead the way; Hill (D.H.) and Longstreet would follow up, and Jackson (Stonewall) would smack the Federal left. The problem was, Jackson never showed up. The rest of the operation went as planned until the Yankees got to Gaines Mill and stopped. A frontal charge was attempted but failed. Although the forces were fairly evenly matched the casualties were disproportionately Confederate.

Friday June 26 1863

Gen. Jubal Early and his corps marched into Gettysburg today, but no battle broke out as there were no Union troops to speak of anywhere around. A militia unit put up a brief and feeble attempt at a fight but were hopelessly outnumbered and forced to make tracks out of town, with several of their number captured. Pennsylvania had contributed a great many men to the war, but now that their own state was invaded, they could do nothing. The man who could, Army of the Potomac commander Joseph Hooker, was only as far as Frederick, Maryland, where he counseled the evacuation of parts of Harpers Ferry. Pennsylvania Gov. Andrew Curtin ordered the raising of 60,000 state militia to repel the invasion themselves, but it was impossible to accomplish such a thing in time. Early’s men camped in town overnight before heading toward York.

Sunday June 26 1864

Gen. Phil Sheridan had captured a supply depot at White House, Va., north of the James River, and loaded the booty onto wagons. Ever since, he had been pursued by the Confederate cavalry, desperate to recover the irreplaceable goods to sustain the siege of Petersburg. They had crossed the Chickahominy River under fire, and been harassed daily along the route. Things became safer today as they neared the main body of the Army of the Potomac. They recrossed the James by loading the wagons onto ferryboats at a place called Couthard’s Landing.

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