This Day in the Civil War

Saturday Sept. 14 1861

On those rare occasions when Jefferson Davis didn’t have enough to worry about, along would come a day like today, when he received a complaint from Gen. Joseph E. Johnston concerning the issuance of ranks. Johnston had been a general in the United States Army, after all. Now he was ranked behind Robert E. Lee and even P. T. G. Beauregard, who had been a mere major when the war started. Davis and Johnston had been friends at one time, but this perceived slight, which Davis never felt able to change, was the beginning of a rift between the two.

Sunday Sept. 14 1862

Robert E. Lee was not in a good position: inside enemy territory (Maryland), with the enemy army of the Potomac bearing down on him. In what must have seemed to many to be lunacy, Lee’s response was to split his already outnumbered forces. He directed Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson to take the Federal garrison at Harpers Ferry. As the Ferry was a logical target, Union Gen. George McClellan had sent his left wing under Franklin to reinforce it. Franklin ran up against McLaws in Crampton’s Gap. A battle ensued, which the Yankees won, but Franklin got nervous and decided to dig in instead of proceeding on to Harpers Ferry. This did not prove to be a wise decision.

Monday Sept. 14 1863

It was a very dispirited group of United States Navy members who marched away from Rodney, Miss., today. Not only was it bad enough to be marching rather than sailing, but they were marching under guard, on their way to prison camp. The problem had originated yesterday aboard their vessel, the USS Rattler. A group of twenty, whether motivated by a need for spiritual solace or a simple desire to break up a boring patrol, petitioned their captain to go ashore. Acting Master Walter E.H. Fentress agreed to the request. It was a decision Fentress came to regret when the men were captured by a Confederate cavalry patrol as they were attending church.

Wednesday Sept. 14 1864

Gen. Robert Early, CSA, was under pressure from all sides. Detached from Lee’s army defending Petersburg, he was supposed to be raiding near Washington, creating panic and a demand for Grant’s troops to be brought back North. This effort had not worked, and now Lee wanted him back to help with the siege defenses. Gen. Phil Sheridan, USA had been brought in to encourage his departure as well. The only person who didn’t want Early to move South was....Early. He had tried sending back one corps, under R.H. Anderson, but they had run into Sheridan and retreated back to Early’s lines. Lee was becoming insistent, though, so today Early decided to try again at sending Anderson’s men South.

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