This Day in the Civil War

Monday July 1 1861

The Department of War in Washington D.C. released an order today which in retrospect they might wish they had not. The order authorized the raising of troops in the “border states” of Kentucky and Tennessee. Both states, being border regions between north and south, were very close to evenly balanced in sympathies. Kentucky had pretty well decided to maintain a neutral stance, not leaving the Union but not sending men to fight against the South either. Tennessee, although more heavily Southern in sympathies in the powerful towns along the Mississippi River, was heavily Unionist in the mountainous eastern areas. The call for troops from the North was not accepted kindly in either state.

Tuesday July 1 1862

The Seven Days Battle came to an end today, at a conflict generally agreed to be known as Malvern Hill. (Yesterday’s conflict can win you trivia games, having as many as eight names in use: Frayser’s Farm, White Oak Swamp, Glendale, Nelson’s Crossroads, Charles City Crossroads, New Market Road, Willis’ Church, and Turkey Bridge.) McClellan had been pushed back from Richmond every day of the fight, and now had his back up against the Potomac River. While this sounded desperate, he was in fact in a perfect defensive position and well dug-in. Lee, having failed again yesterday to split the Union forces in two, launched one last assault in hopes of a decisive conquest. Poor coordination of attacks doomed the effort. Lee’s only consolation was that Richmond was safe, or at least safer than it had been before the offensive started.

Wednesday July 1 1863

Was it random chance, overconfidence, or just a good road network that brought the two great armies of the Eastern Theater together in Pennsylvania today? Whatever the reason, skirmishers from A. P. Hill’s Confederate corps encountered what they first took to be Pennsylvania militia on Chambersburg Pike west of Gettysburg. The “militia” was in fact the crack cavalry of Gen. John Buford, fighting dismounted . As one group after another was unable to dislodge these “militia”, eventually Buford’s Co. E of the 9th New York Cavalry was standing off two brigades in one of the classic fighting withdrawals of this or any war. The delay was just long enough for Gen. John Reynold’s 1st Corps to get up to carry on the fight, although without Reynolds who was killed early on. O.O. Howard’s 11th Corps was right behind. The early efforts to fight north of town were quickly swamped, and chaos followed fleeing Union men and pursuing Confederates alike as they headed for the high ground of Cemetery and Culp’s Hills. That “lovely ground” was in Union hands at the end of this day.

Friday July 1 1864

It had been quite a shock “inside the beltway” yesterday when Abraham Lincoln had finally accepted the resignation of Secretary of the Treasury, powerful politician and presidential hopeful Salmon P. Chase. Chase had submitted these resignations so many times before, to emphasize one point or another, that he and the Powers that Be about fell down in shock when Lincoln finally took him up on it. Today Lincoln nominated William Pitt Fessenden of Maine as Chase’s replacement in the Treasury post. Fessenden had long experience in the Finance Committee of the U.S. Senate, and was reluctant to give up this post for a Cabinet job. It was fortunate that he accepted, as the Treasury Department was a mess under Chase’s management, and improved greatly under his successor. This was no minor matter for a nation in such financial chaos as a civil war creates.

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