This Day in the Civil War

Sunday Oct. 27 1861

After months of political infighting in his office in St. Louis, Gen. John Charles Fremont had finally noticed that Gen. Sterling Price, CSA, had been rampaging around the state of Missouri with virtual impunity for weeks now. He had attacked the Federal garrison at Lexington, Mo., besieging them for over a week during which Fremont sent no assistance whatsoever. After the capture of the 2800-man Union force, Price had moved on to Springfield, Mo. where he signed up some recruits and misappropriated the possessions of those suspected of harboring Union sentiments. Finally Fremont had moved out, reached Springfield and settled down for combat, issuing bombastic boasts of Price’s imminent doom. Price took little notice of this, as he was headed in quite the opposite direction, back to Lexington.

Monday Oct. 27 1862

Like all politicians, even in those days, Abraham Lincoln was often called upon to give interviews to members of various interest groups, in some cases even those of other nations. One such was given yesterday as Lincoln sat for a talk with Mrs. Eliza P. Gurney. Mrs. Gurney represented two very important constituencies, insofar as she was a leader of the Society of Friends (commonly known as Quakers) in Great Britain. American Quakers had been prominent in the abolitionist movement, but of course opposition to war was also a deeply-held belief. Possibly keeping this in mind, Lincoln was said to have told Mrs. Gurney, “If I had my way, this war would never have been commenced; if I had been allowed my way this war would have been ended before this; but we find it still continues.”

Tuesday Oct. 27 1863

The Union army that had taken Chattanooga had gone on to lose at nearby Chickamauga Creek, and had been trapped in the town of their victory ever since under siege by Gen. Braxton Bragg and the Army of Tennessee. Able neither to move forward or back as a unit, still small groups had been able to get in and out, bringing enough supplies to fend off complete starvation. The supply situation was still critical though, and upon reaching the city U.S. Grant had made its improvement his first concern. In a daring operation, a pontoon bridge was established across the Tennessee River at Brown’s Ferry. The Union men who built it, primarily an engineer unit from Ohio, had had to sneak in overnight to get past Confederate sharpshooters on Raccoon Mountain behind them.

Thursday Oct. 27 1864

The CSS Albermarle, one of the last warships built by the Confederacy, had caused instant terror in the hearts of the US Navy on the Roanoke and James River areas of Virginia. Lt. William B. Cushing, USN, with 14 crewmen, set forth on a steam cutter, with a launch in tow, up the Roanoke to deal with their foe once and for all. In rain and darkness they were able to approach within a few hundred feet before being detected. The scene now lit by a huge bonfire on shore, Cushing and his ship were shot at both from the ram and the shore. Worse, they could now see the ship was surrounded by a protective boom of logs. He circled to build up speed, crashed over the boom, and personally lowered and set off the torpedo boom. The ramship fired simultaneously and both ships exploded. Cushing, ordering “abandon ship”, tried to get his wounded friend John Woodman to shore with him but failed. Cushing, in fact, was the only one to escape, as the others were killed or captured.

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