This Day in the Civil War

Wednesday Oct. 30 1861

As Abraham Lincoln had no end of difficulty with his generals-- hiring them, motivating them, getting them to fight, finding something useful for them to do after he fired them, keeping them from running against him for President--so did did Jefferson Davis occasionally have trouble with his. The offending party this time was Pierre Gustav Toutant Beauregard. His official report on the Battle of Manassas (there had been only one at this point) had been more honest about the performance of several commanders than was considered politically correct. What had Davis really irate, though, was that Beauregard then leaked portions of it to the press. “It seemed to be an attempt to exalt yourself at my expense,” Davis wrote.

Thursday Oct. 30 1862

One of the high points of the Confederate quest for recognition of its fledgling government was reached today. Emperor Napoleon III of France offered a proposal to halt the bloody carnage which was convulsing the midsection of the North American continent. The emperor suggested to the ministers of Great Britain and Russia that they combine efforts in suggesting overtures of mediation to both the United States and Confederate States of America. Aside from the fact that the two proposed mediators were not on the best of terms with each other diplomatically speaking at the moment, it is most unlikely that Lincoln, for one, would have agreed to the plan even if it had been offered. Lincoln on other occasions turned down such offers, on the grounds that there were not two separate countries to mediate between.

Friday Oct. 30 1863

Arkansas, although firmly a member of the Confederacy, was nevertheless a border state on two sides, Missouri on the north and the Indian Territory which would later become Oklahoma on the west. This meant that it suffered some of the same embarrassing problems of other border states. Specifically, a group of unreconstructed Union sympathizers held a meeting in Fort Smith today. By means unspecified in history they not only managed to meet and then get out of town without death, maiming or even serious insult, they even elected a member of their group as their representative to Congress--in Washington, not Richmond.

Sunday Oct. 30 1864

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a cavalry officer, but he was also a commander of considerable cunning and creativity. This explains how he came to be fighting a naval battle today. On the Tennessee River near Ft. Henry, Forrest was trying to get his men across the river, but was being hampered in the effort by Union gunboats. In characteristically direct fashion, Forrest set up a battery of guns and started firing. Acting Master Bryant of the USS Undine heard the firing and steamed off to investigate, whereupon the guns were turned upon her. Other vessels likewise came to either investigate or assist, and by the end of the day were all under new management. Two of the ships captured were troop transports, so there was no more trouble crossing the river.

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