This Day in the Civil War

Monday July 15 1861

Gen. Robert Patterson had established a reasonably good record in these early days of the War. His Federal forces had been pushing through the hilly regions of western Virginia, and had succeeded in killing the first general to die in the conflict, Robert S. Garnett. Today it was expected that the progress would continue, leaving Martinsburg for the Bunker Hill area. There was a small skirmish between the cavalry units of the respective armies, but no general engagement. Patterson assured everyone that he would attack if the opportunity presented itself. He did not go out of his way however to create such opportunity. It began to be remembered that his prewar nickname was “Granny” Patterson.

Tuesday July 15 1862

The CSS Arkansas was not engaged in an operation today, in fact she was just hanging around the Yazoo River north of Vicksburg undergoing shakedown tests. The newly completed ironclad was the pride of the Confederate river fleet, so there was much distress when she was set upon by the US vessels Carondelet and Tyler. These two proved to be just the lead ships of nearly the entire Union fleet on the Mississippi. The Arkansas and her commander , Lt. Isaac Brown, pulled off an amazing and audacious feat: they ran the length of the Union fleet, fighting all the way, finally escaping to the protection of the Vicksburg guns, anchoring under the cliffs. Brown got a commendation from Jefferson Davis and promotion to the rank of commander. US fleet commander Farragut got indigestion and began to rethink his strategy.

Wednesday July 15 1863

The smoke still hung sullenly in the summer air Boston and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Rutland, Vermont, and Wooster, Ohio. But the storm of rage had rampaged hardest through the streets of New York, and today new fires and outrages were still being perpetrated there. The best that could be said was that the rioting was no longer spreading. The police were beginning to emerge from their stations and retake street by street, now that they were supported by troops fresh from the fields of Gettysburg. Men who had faced down the worst that Robert E. Lee could throw at them were not about to be intimidated by drunken rowdies.

Friday July 15 1864

U. S. Gen. Andrew Jackson Smith was supposed to be keeping the dreaded Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest out of William T. Sherman’s hair, or at least his supply lines. Smith had accomplished part of this task yesterday in a fair-sized battle in the Tupelo-Harrisburg area of Mississippi when his men defeated Forrest in an unusual infantry battle. Today Smith stayed right on the defendable ridge he had held the day before and fought off continued intermittent attacks. Suddenly in mid-afternoon the rear units of his force began to pack up and move off for Memphis. Forrest, unaccustomed to defeat, reassembled his horsemen and followed. This continued to keep him away from Sherman’s railroad lines.

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