This Day in the Civil War

Wednesday Oct. 9 1861

One thousand angry soldiers landed in Pensacola today and the result was about what you would expect: fights broke out all over. Of course, this was the intention when Confederate Gen. Richard Heron Anderson led his troops on Santa Rosa Island. They were trying to capture the batteries guarding the entrance to Pensacola Bay, with the final objective of capturing Ft. Pickens, which lay within. The night attack began successfully, with the first battery being promptly overrun. After that things bogged down, and when reinforcements began issuing from the fort itself, Anderson exercised the better part of valor and withdrew.

Thursday Oct. 9 1862

After the ferocity of the last Confederate invasion of Maryland, which ended with the battle of Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg, Md., it was hardly to be expected that any other such incursion would be attempted so soon. Therefore that was exactly what James Ewell Brown Stuart did today, leading his cavalrymen across the fords of the Potomac River into Union territory. By nightfall he was at Chambersburg, Pa., and he was not a comfortable guest to have. Every telegraph line in the route of march was cut or torn down, every horse of any possible military use was taken, and then he started burning pubic buildings and records. McClellan, as usual, did nothing.

Friday Oct. 9 1863

There had been indications for some time that Robert E. Lee was not ready to quit for the winter in the Eastern Theater. Things had been relatively slow since Gettysburg, with most of the action taking place in the Western Theater and on the Carolina coast. Parts of both armies had even been shifted to the West (Longstreet’s Corps from the Army of Northern Virginia, and the 11th and 12th Corps of the Army of the Potomac) to strengthen the combatants there. Lee now hoped to take advantage of the weakening of Meade’s forces around Washington, and today took his army back across the Rapidan River yet again. The hope was to turn Meade’s right flank and open the way for an assault on Washington.

Sunday Oct. 9 1864

The campaign to run the Confederate cavalry force of Jubal Early out of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia continued apace today. Phil Sheridan delegated the job to a couple of fellows reasonably well-known in their own right: Wesley Merritt and George Armstrong Custer. Under overall command of Gen. A.T. A. Torbet, they attacked and then pursued men under Confederate generals Rosser and Lomax for several miles, capturing some 300 prisoners. Federal losses for the day were only 9 killed and 48 wounded. The pursuit continued.

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