This Day in the Civil War

Monday Oct. 7 1861

Gen. Sterling Price, who had only left Missouri after the battle of Wilson’s Creek to organize and train his Confederate forces, had come back with a vengeance, and a mission: take the state into the waiting arms of the Confederacy. Opposing him, in theory, was John C. Fremont, head of the Union forces in St. Louis. Unfortunately, since his appointment to replace the fallen Nathaniel Lyon, Fremont had spent his time infuriating the populace with emancipation and other proclamations, and engaging in political disputes with other Union officials. Price had besieged and defeated the garrison at Lexington and marched around the state with impunity, although not with the popular uprising of support he had hoped for. Finally, today, Fremont marched out in pursuit.

Tuesday Oct. 7 1862

It would probably not cause great excitement in the United States today if the Secretary of the Treasury commented on political activities in another nation undergoing a civil war. It caused huge excitement, however, when the British Chancellor of the Exchequer made such a statement. The chancellor in question was W.E. Gladstone, and his comparatively lowly cabinet status did not reflect the level of power he held in the Queen’s government. He announced today that Jefferson Davis and his leaders had “made a nation” and he anticipated “the success of their fight for separation.” As recognition of the Confederate States of America was most emphatically not the policy of Her Majesty, the remarks were as heavily criticized in England and they were celebrated in Richmond.

Wednesday Oct. 7 1863

Acting Chief Engineer Thomas Doughty engaged in a curious naval action today. His ship, the USS Osage, docked on the west bank of the Mississippi River. From there, Doughty led a landing party through the brush and vines and swamps overland to the Red River, a hotbed of Confederate shipping both military and civilian. They got to their destination, the steamer Argus, tied up to the bank of the river. Her crew not looking for a naval attack from the landward side, they were promptly captured along with their boat. It was the Union seamen’s turn to be surprised when another Confederate ship, the steamer Robert Fulton came chugging down the stream. Doughty calmly ordered the vessel to “come to,” and having no reason not to, she did and was just as promptly captured. The Argus was burned on the spot. They tried to sail the Fulton to rejoin the Union fleet on the Mississippi, but she got stuck on a bar and was also burned. Doughty, his men and their nine prisoners returned to the Osage without a casualty.

Friday Oct. 7 1864

Second only to Raphael Semmes Alabama in fame was her sister ship, the Confederate commerce raider CSS Florida. Both built in Liverpool, they had gone their separate ways and after taking 37 prizes in her career, Florida pulled into Bahia, Brazil for resupply and refueling. Close on her heels was Commander Napoleon Collins and the USS Wachusett, who had been seeking them for months. Collins sent a message to Florida’s captain, Lt. Morris, daring him to come out of the neutral harbor and fight. Morris declined, and Brazilian authorities ordered both ships to maintain the peace in Brazilian waters. Collins ignored this, steamed in and rammed Florida while Morris and most of her crew were ashore. Damaged but not sinking, Florida was surrendered after both ships exchanged cannon fire. This infuriated the Brazilians, who turned their harbor guns on Wachusett as she steamed away with Florida in tow to Hampton Roads, Va.

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