This Day in the Civil War

Thursday Aug. 8 1861

For weeks now, Gen. Benjamin Butler had been sending increasingly urgent telegrams from his post at Ft. Monroe, Va. to Washington, asking what he was supposed to do with the Negroes who were flocking into his camp. Some were freed when Union troops took control of the area where they had lived, some had run away from further South. Under the letter of the Fugitive Slave Law Butler was supposed to send them back to slavery. Today Secretary of War Simon Cameron wrote that slaves from areas in insurrection were to be considered free and Butler could do what he liked with them.

Friday Aug. 8 1862

Maryland, as a border state, had always been a worrisome area from the Union point of view. Add in that it contained the national capital and the issue of security became tremendous. However, the same draft laws that applied to the rest of the country had to be followed here too. Those of secessionist leanings had avoided these in the past by departing without forwarding address. Under policy announced today, draft evaders were to be subjected to arrest.

Saturday Aug. 8 1863

“I, therefore, in all sincerity, request your Excellency to take measures to supply my place,” the telegram read. It was from Robert E. Lee and it was a letter of resignation to Jefferson Davis. The season that started with the amazing triumph of Chancellorsville had ended in the futility of Gettysburg, contributing to a deep depression in Lee. His physical health had not been good either, with a possible heart attack and repeated assaults of digestive disorders. Davis declined the resignation.

MONDAY AUG. 8 1864

The Battle of Mobile Bay was over..but there was the minor matter of two forts located near the entrance to the bay yet to be settled. Ft Powell was evacuated and blown up, but there was the matter of Ft. Gaines to take care of. Col. Charles D. Anderson ,CSA, had spent yesterday in negotiations, with a little prodding from the guns of the USS Chickasaw. Today matters were completed, and by 10 a.m. the Stars and Stripes flew over Mobile Bay.

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