This Day in the Civil War

Thursday Oct 17 1861

There was little question in anybody’s mind that the United States was not going to fight the War from completely off the shores of the Confederacy. There would be an amphibious invasion at some point along the Atlantic coast, and the only question was where the attack would come. Flag Officer Samuel du Pont, one of the senior Navy men in the Atlantic region, was telling anyone who would listen that the most logical spot was Port Royal, South Carolina. The facilities there, he opined, both as a Navy base and a coaling station, were superb. In the South, nervousness at every port was the rule, but little else could be done in the way of reinforcement due to shortages of troops.

Friday Oct. 17 1862

In the initial days of the War recruiting soldiers was not a problem: men on both sides flocked to the colors, looking for glory, excitement, adventure, or because they wanted to impress their girlfriends. A year and a half of blood, mud, marching and measles had disabused many of any notion of the romance of war. But the needs for manpower were greater than ever, and so a draft was instituted in the United States. Popularity of this measure was somewhat lacking, even in states which were otherwise strong Union supporters, such as Pennsylvania. Militia forces had to be called out in Berkley, Luzerne County, to put down opposition to the draft.

Saturday Oct. 17 1863

Yesterday saw the beginning of what is known as the Battle of Tampa, an odd case of misnaming since Tampa, an obscure village with a small fort nearby, was not the actual target of the attack. Those were the blockade runners Scottish Chief and Kate Dale, loaded with cotton and ready to sail on the morning tide from the Hillsborough River. After shelling Tampa the USS Tahoma and Adela had sent landing parties ashore to sneak across to the river on foot. Today they struck, assaulting and burning both ships and cargos. Then they hotfooted it back to their own ships with enraged Confederates in hot pursuit. Five of the landing party died, 10 were wounded and five were taken prisoner before they made it back under cover of their ships’ guns.

Monday Oct. 17 1864

Gen. Sterling Price was on yet another campaign to pry loose the state of Missouri from the grasp of the Federal government. The fact that he had been fighting on numerous occasions since 1861 to accomplish this goal did not discourage him, and on this campaign he had had some successes, most notably the battle of Pilot Knob at Ft. Davidson, although he had let the garrison of the latter escape during the night. Today he was advancing toward Lexington, Mo., in the northwest region of the state, and was encountering skirmishing on both the left and the right flanks of his force. This was the first indication that he had not one but two Union units coming at him, one behind him (which he already knew about) and one ahead (which he did not.)

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