Thursday July 11 1861
ROSECRANS’ ROMP REAPS RICH REWARD
It was in the hilly country of Western (but not yet West) Virginia
that the major action occurred today. Some 2000 Federal troops,
technically McClellan’s but in fact under command of Maj. Gen.
William Rosecrans pulled a most unusual sneak attack on Confederate
Lieut. Col. John Pegram’s men on Rich Mountain. The area was a
hotbed of Union sympathizers, so it is not surprising that Rosecrans
was guided to a semi-secret mountain path. This enabled him to catch
Pegram’s left completely by surprise. The effects were two: after
fighting a couple more days Pegram and 550 fellow Southerners were
compelled to surrender, and the way for a Federal march to Beverly,
VA, now stood wide open.
Friday July 11 1862
HIGH HONORS HAIL HALLECK
One of the problems on both sides in the War Between the States was
finding competent commanding generals. It was hard enough to find
those who knew how to fight, but even more difficult to find those
who could administrate the overall effort. Both Lincoln and Davis
had a tendency to try to do this job themselves, but one improvement
at least on the Union side occurred today. Gen. Henry Halleck was
appointed to the office of General-in-Chief of all United States
land forces. Halleck’s nickname was “Old Brains”, in honor of the
fact that he was known to be quite intelligent. He was also famous
for being fussy, jealous and a procrastinator, as well as a
perfectly dreadful field commander. Fortunately he was a top-rate
administrator and contributed immeasurably to the Union war effort.
Saturday July 11 1863
MORIBUND MEADE MAKES MINOR MOVEMENT
Gen. George Meade had not done badly for a man on the job less than
two weeks. Named commander of the Army of the Potomac, he had in one
week maneuvered a huge force to Gettysburg and slugged it out with
Robert E. Lee and won. The cost, however, had been stupendous, and
when Lee began to withdraw, Meade essentially let him go, an action
for which he is still sometimes criticized to this day. The
criticism certainly started early: Lincoln was having a conniption
fit, wanting Meade to pin Lee against the flooded Potomac River and
destroy him. What everyone seemed to forget was that the same
project had been tried the year before, after the Battle of
Antietam, and the pursuing Union troops had been soundly defeated.
Today, with the Army of the Potomac back in some semblance of
working order, Meade began to move in pursuit.
Monday July 11 1864
BELTWAY BANDITS BURN BLAIR BUILDINGS
Jubal Early’s Confederate forces did what no other Southern men
accomplished during the entire War: he invaded at least the suburbs
of Washington D.C. Silver Spring, MD, suffered the brunt of the
attack, with particular attention to what might seem like an unusual
military target, the home of the Postmaster General. Nearly
forgotten today, Montgomery Blair was an immensely powerful man in
the Washington of those times. Both in his own right and through
several sons, sons-in-law and nephews he had fingers in a great
number of pies, even to St. Louis Mo. Defending the city was Gen.
Lew Wallace, better known today as the author of the novel “Ben-Hur”.
He was not doing well with his cobbled-together army of cripples and
new recruits, and was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Sixth
Corps regulars from City Point, Va.
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