This Day in the Civil War

Sunday Aug. 18 1861

In the early days of the war neither side was oversupplied with any of the necessities--guns, cannon, uniforms, soldiers, sailors and ships of war were all hard to come by. There was no shortage of old wooden ships, though, and they were being pressed into service in peculiar ways. In Washington Assistant Secretary of the Navy Fox got a letter from Lt. Reigart Lowry that the “stone fleet” was ready to sail. These old ships, loaded with rock until they were barely able to float, were to be sunk in Albermarle Sound to block Confederate shipping until the new gunboats were ready for the blockade.

Monday Aug. 18 1862

Two armies were headed in Gen. John Pope’s direction today. One, George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, was an ally and anxiously awaited. McClellan, however, had suffered many delays in getting his men off the Peninsula and up to Aquia Creek. The other army moving in Pope’s direction was Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. They had hostile intent and better speed, so Pope backpedaled his men closer to the Potomac River.

Tuesday Aug. 18 1863

The second day of the bombardment of Ft. Sumter continued today off the coast of South Carolina. Union guns on Morris Island, Mossie Island, and various gunboats were taking part in the assault. Sumter was not the only target today. Other blasts were directed at Fort (or Battery) Wagner and Battery Gregg. Although large numbers of holes had been blown in Sumter’s walls, the incredibly sturdy old installation was nowhere near to being put out of service yet.

Thursday Aug. 18 1864

Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren took his Fifth Corps on another mission today to the Weldon Railroad line south of Petersburg. This was another extension of the Union lines to the left, and further left, and still further left. Today’s project was especially vital as the railroad was virtually the only large-scale source of supply Petersburg had left. After reaching the tracks the Fifth Corps did a right-face and headed north for the city itself. Henry Heth put a stop to this.

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