This Day in the Civil War

Monday July 29 1861

There was a special meeting of Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet in Washington DC today. Besides the cabinet members themselves, those in attendance included Gen. Irvin McDowell, who proposed to attack the Army of Northern Virginia at Manassas, and Gen. Winfield Scott, whose notion was to send an expedition to immediately retake the Mississippi River. McDowell won.

Tuesday July 29 1862

Near Warrenton, Va., today a woman was arrested. Unusual as that was during the Civil War, even more odd was the charge: espionage. While a semi-sanctioned system of mail exchange existed throughout the war by officials under a flag of truce, this lady was running a considerably less official mail exchange service, directed at supplying Stonewall Jackson with information on Union troop movements. Belle Boyd was confined in Old Capitol Prison for a time.

Wednesday July 29 1863

One of the earliest expectations of the Confederate government had been diplomatic recognition from Europe, particularly Great Britain. As the main foreign consumer of Southern cotton, the logic seemed inescapable. It had escaped Queen Victoria’s government, though, which had declared neutrality in the dispute. Today, in yet another blow to the beleaguered Rebellion, Victoria renewed the statement, saying there was ‘no reason to depart from the strict neutrality which Her Majesty has observed from the beginning.”

Friday July 29 1864

First it was Antietam. The next year it was Gettysburg. The people of southern Maryland and Pennsylvania were learning to get very nervous as midsummer approached. Their misgivings were well-founded as Jubal Early and company crossed the Potomac today, continuing the excursion which had briefly threatened the very gates of Washington itself. Union cavalry was pursuing, and there was little opportunity for Early to commit much outrage. Folks were fearful nonetheless and those who could afford to, sought to be elsewhere for awhile.

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