This Day in the Civil War

Saturday Oct. 5 1861

Anyone who has read the Washington “Post” and the Washington “Times” on the same day will be aware that newspapers in a nation’s capital can take decidedly different views of the same matter. Such was the situation today for newspaper readers in the capital of the industrialized world. The editorial writer for the London “Post” came out to advocate that his government extend official recognition of the Confederate States of America. On the other end of Fleet Street, the London press district, the good grey London “Times” did not say so right out, but gave a much stronger appearance of backing the cause of the Union.

Sunday Oct. 5 1862

Federal Gen. Edward Otho Cresap Ord and his men were patrolling near the Hatchie River in Tennessee, not far from the tiny hamlet of Pocohontas. They were not expecting much in the way of action until, quite without warning, the Confederate troops of Gen. Earl Van Dorn came by. They had been under rather casual pursuit by Rosecrans’ Unionists ever since the battle of Corinth, but Rosecrans was moving slowly enough that Van Dorn wasn’t expecting a battle either. When it arrived, though, both sides proved up to the challenge and fought viciously for awhile. Van Dorn broke it off and pulled his forces back towards Holly Spring, officially ending the Corinth Campaign.

Monday Oct. 5 1863

The blockade was strangling the Confederacy, and nowhere worse than Charleston Harbor. Almost any plan or device that promised even a hope of breaking the blockade would be tried, and one of the odder vessels of the War sailed today. Not exactly a submarine, but very low in the water rode the CSS David. She had a 10 foot spar on her bow, to which was attached a 60-pound bomb. Sailing in the evening twilight she headed for the USS New Ironsides, getting very close before being spotted. She rammed, the bomb exploded, and a huge column of water jumped out of the harbor, falling directly back down...on the David, extinguishing her boiler and nearly swamping the boat. The captain and most of the crew, assuming the ship was doomed, leaped overboard and were picked up by Union ships. The engineer, named Tomb, stayed aboard because he could not swim. In all the excitement he got the boiler relit and sailed David back to safety. The New Ironsides was damaged badly enough to have to leave the blockade for repairs.

Wednesday Oct. 5 1864

The Army of Tennessee under Maj. Gen. S.G. French was locked in combat with the Federal garrison under Brig. Gen. John M. Corse at the railroad pass at Allatoona, Ga. With about 2000 men on each side, the fighting was so fierce that the casualty rates were appalling: 706 Union and almost 800 Confederates were killed or wounded. Gen. William T. Sherman could see the smoke of the battle from his headquarters on Kennesaw Mountain, 18 miles away. At the end of the day French received a report that a message had come to Corse from Sherman to hold on because a large relief force was coming to hit French in the rear. The report was false but French could not know this, and pulled out. An evangelist, P. P. Bliss, on hearing the story of this battle wrote a hymn, “Hold the Fort, For We Are Coming” which was popular for decades after the war.

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