This Day in the Civil War

Saturday Aug. 3 1861

It was a slow time on the battlefield, but more was happening in the halls of the US Congress. Actions recently passed and awaiting action included approval and funding for “one or more” armored ships and floating batteries. There was also a proposal to reorganize the Army. Finally, orders were issued to the Navy to blockade Southern ports by the interesting technique of taking old, otherwise useless ships and filling them with rocks. They were then to be taken to the offending ports and sunk to block traffic in and out.

Sunday Aug. 3, 1862

Gen. George McClellan was on the move today, but it was not entirely voluntary. He had been ordered by Gen. Henry Wager Halleck who sent formal orders requiring McClellan to move the Army of the Potomac off the Peninsula, where he had been for some time, to the area around Aquia Landing, Va.. The dual purpose of this was to give additional protection for Washington DC. and back up Gen. John Pope’s Army of Virginia, which was under attack. McClellan was severely opposed to this move, but had no choice in the matter.

Monday Aug. 3 1863

As the casualties from the Second Battle of Brandy Station had their wounds and injuries tended to, a general calm settled over the Rappahannock valley. Lee was hard at work getting resupply for his Army of Northern Virginia, including the army itself. The problem of straggling was becoming a serious matter, as troops would take informal leave to tend to family emergencies, then not come back. Jefferson Davis had recently issued one of his offers of amnesty to any who returned within 20 days.

Wednesday Aug. 3 1864

Since the beginning of the War Between the States, the great work, and the great frustration, of Abraham Lincoln had been to find generals not only to win battles, but willing to fight them at all. He had found one in Ulysses S. Grant, but Grant could not be everywhere at once. Lincoln wrote him today that his plan to follow the enemy “to the death” would not “be done nor attempted unless you watch it every day, and hour, and force it.” Lincoln did not know that Grant entirely agreed, and already had one answer, named Phil Sheridan.

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