This Day in the Civil War

Thursday Sept. 12 1861

The greatest fear in Washington, D.C. at this point in the War was the possible secession of Maryland. With Virginia already gone on one side, Maryland’s departure would leave the Federal capital entirely surrounded by Confederate territory, which would be embarrassing at the very least. A meeting of secessionist-minded state legislators had been scheduled for Sept. 17 in Frederick, Md., far from the capital of Annapolis. Orders were quietly issued, and starting today, the gentlemen were quietly arrested. To decrease opportunities for further agitation they were taken for confinement to Ft. Warren in Boston Harbor.

Friday Sept. 12 1862

If Gen. George McClellan had no idea where Robert E. Lee and his army were located, the state officials of Pennsylvania had the strong suspicion that he was headed straight for them. The geography, the road network, and an assumption that Lee would try to stay a prudent distance away from the Army of the Potomac made this a fairly logical possibility. Orders were issued in Harrisburg and Philadelphia today to box up the state’s documents, bonds, archives and treasury and ship them to New York for safekeeping. A fair number of politicians decided to ride along on the train--just to keep the records safe, of course.

Saturday Sept. 12, 1863

Northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee were the scenes of numerous skirmishes, probes, reconnaissances, and general nastiness today. If gathered together they would probably have added up to a sizeable battle, but spread out as they were around Chattanooga, they didn’t amount to much. Sites where official skirmishes occurred included Rheatown, Tenn., and Leet’s Tanyard, Alpine, the LaFayette Road, and Dirt Town, Georgia.

Monday Sept. 12 1864

President Abraham Lincoln and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had a common worry today: Phil Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. It wasn’t that he was doing anything wrong; the problem was that he didn’t seem to be doing much of anything at all. To Lincoln this was a worry because Sheridan was supposed to be catching Gen. Early’s Confederate force, which had been raiding and rampaging as far north as Pennsylvania for most of the summer. Grant worried about this too, with the additional personal complication that Sheridan was a friend from the “western theater” who had been brought East and given an army at Grant’s personal recommendation. One factor neither seems to have allowed for was that Sheridan was a cavalryman, and had never commanded large numbers of foot soldiers before.

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