This Day in the Civil War

Monday July 22 1861

Bad enough to lose a big battle; worse yet to lose one in front of many witnesses just outside your nation’s capital. Gen. Irwin McDowell’s career as head of the Union armies was over, despite the fact that the loss was due more to untrained troops than bad planning. Gen. George McClellan’s mastery of the art of self-promotion was about to pay off with a major career move.

Tuesday July 22 1862

Abraham Lincoln surprised his Cabinet today with the first draft of his proposed Emancipation Proclamation. He had written it himself without consulting anyone, much less speechwriters. Details included a renewal of his offer of compensation to Union states which adopted emancipation, and set the date of Jan. 1 1863 for “freedom” for slaves in states in rebellion. Upon urgent request of Secretary of State Stewart it was decided to delay the announcement until after a major military victory. This would be a long postponement.

Wednesday July 22 1863

Gen. George Meade had been under tremendous pressure since the end of Gettysburg. From Lincoln on down, everyone wanted to know WHEN Meade would be getting around to destroying the Army of Northern Virginia? As Meade and Lee paralleled each other south with only the Blue Ridge between them, the pressure increased again. Today he sent Gen.William French towards Manassas Gap. The plan was to punch through, cut Lee’s spread-out forces in two, and defeat one or both halves.

Friday July 22 1864

Gen. John Hood’s army had to hold Atlanta or die trying. An earlier attack had cost Hood nearly 25 per cent of his forces, but he managed to put the blame on Hardee. Today, therefore, he tried...another attack. Hardee was to aim at a hole in the Federal line and get in their rear. Unbeknownst to him, the hole had been filled overnight with two divisions of Grenville Dodge’s corps. Again the attack, although ferocious, failed; again Confederate losses neared 25 per cent of forces committed. Again Hood, who had not been on the field, blamed (you guessed it!) Hardee, for not fighting hard enough.

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