This Day in the Civil War

Monday July 8 1861

The story had been making its way around the towns, ranches, cattle drives and other gatherings of the Southwest for months now: if a man was known to be a Southern sympathizer, he was invited to a “buffalo hunt” to be held in West Texas. Today Brig. Gen. Henry Hopkins Smith, Confederate States Army, set forth for west Texas to take charge of this gathering. There was, for once, no threat to the buffalo. The plan was for Smith to take this irregular force and drive the Union out of New Mexico.

Tuesday July 8 1862

With very nearly the entire Army of the Potomac camped out for now on the banks of the James River, following the losses of the Seven Days campaign, some more organized system of logistics was desperately needed. Commander John Rogers was assigned to work on this, and came up with a plan to use gunboats to escort a convoy of ships between Harrison’s Bar to the mouth of the Chicahominy. The plan was to leave at 9 each morning, since that was when mail was delivered to Old Point, near Harrison’s Bar, or Landing.

Wednesday July 8 1863

Vicksburg had surrendered four days ago, leaving Port Hudson, a few miles downriver, as the last Confederate bastion standing. This also left its commander, Gen. Franklin Gardner, in a completely untenable situation. He had had enough trouble getting supplies since US Gen. Nathaniel Banks had had the installation under siege for six weeks. Today, after receiving definite news of Vicksburg’s surrender, Gardner sent a message to Banks asking the terms of surrender. He finally surrendered his fort and his 7000 men unconditionally.

Friday July 8 1864

It had been moving almost like a dance, on paper at least, as Sherman’s Union men moved to flank Johnston’s Confederates, who would then pull back to a safer position. They called it the “Georgia sidestep”, and another step was taken today as Gen. Schofield, with Sherman’s left flank, crossed the Chattahoochee River just where it is joined by Soap Creek. Johnston didn’t oppose them because he didn’t know they were there, until he realized that his right flank had been turned yet again. The pullback this time reached Peachtree Creek.

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