This Day in the Civil War

Thursday Aug. 15 1861
CUMBERLAND COMMAND CHANGES CONFIRMED

Robert Anderson had been a major when he was ordered to Fort Sumter. Although he did little there except endure a bombardment and then surrender his command to open the active part of the War of Southern Rebellion, he was promptly promoted to Brigadier General. Today he got his new assignment: command of the Department of the Cumberland. This consisted of Kentucky, Anderson’s native state, and Tennessee. Due to somewhat unsettled conditions in both places, Anderson established his headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio



Friday Aug. 15 1862
COMMODORE COVERS CHICKAHOMINY CROSSING


In the aftermath of the Seven Days’ battles on the Peninsula, both sides had been preoccupied with tending the wounded and burying the dead. Movement was finally beginning, and took the usual form of this stage of the war: a Union withdrawal. Even this was not without hazard. Commodore Wilkes sent three gunboats, the USS Galena, Satellite and Port Royal, up the James River to the Chickahominy. Their assignment was to cover the withdrawal of McClellan’s left wing as it crossed the waterway.



Saturday Aug. 15 1863
BOAT BETRAYS BEAUREGARD’S BOASTS

A a very odd seagoing vessel was delivered by two covered railroad flatcars to Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard today. Commander of the defenses of Charleston Harbor, Beauregard had decided this contraption was his secret weapon against the Union fleet. The former boiler was now the CSS Hunley, one of the first submarines to be used for war. Propelled by seven men turning a crank to drive her propeller, and steered by a eighth, the Hunley had so far proved far more lethal to her crews than to Union warships. She killed nearly everyone who set foot in her, including H.L Hunley, the financier who had put up the money for her construction and may have contributed some ideas for the design.



Monday Aug. 15 1864
WOOD WREAKS WATERY WOES

While Raphael Semmes may have been the most famous of the Confederate commerce raiders, he was far from the only one. Commodore John Taylor Wood was in the middle of a reign of terror off the coast of New England. Today his CSS Tallahassee took six ships. He burned five after loading all personnel onto the sixth, which he released on bond. The New York insurance industry was furious at the toll being taken on their profits and deluged Navy Secretary Gideon Welles with requests to abate the nuisance.

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