This Day in the Civil War

Wednesday Dec. 25 1861

Following a White House meeting where the Trent Affair was rehashed yet again, President and Mrs. Lincoln persevered with a great Christmas feast this night. After the horrors of the last year it was no doubt the last thing they felt like doing, but as usual in wartime a pretence of normalcy was considered essential for morale. In Winchester, VA, though, Gen. Thomas J. (“Stonewall”) Jackson, on one of his rare leaves home, had a quiet dinner with his wife.

Thursday Dec. 25 1862

Although no great battles marred the celebration of Christ’s birth this year, there was no cessation of the average sort of small skirmishing. Actions took place in Warrenton, Va. Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan continued his raid on Federal forces in Kentucky, leading to violence at Bear Wallow and Green’s Chapel in that state. There was even a disturbance of the peace at Prim’s blacksmith shop on Edmondson Pike, Tenn.

Friday Dec. 25 1863

As a great many members of the Union army had signed two-year enlistments in 1861, it was becoming a matter of great concern to get as many of them to re-enlist as possible, as this saved the considerable expense of training new enlistees from scratch. (Common wisdom of the day claimed that it took two years to make a cavalryman, although the process had speeded up considerably by now.) Capt. Kennedy of the 9th NY Volunteer Cavalry celebrated the decision of several of his men to re-up by holding the swearing-in ceremony on Christmas Day, at Culpepper Court House, Va.

Sunday Dec. 25, 1864

US Navy Lt. William Barker Cushing, who not long before had sunk the CSS Albermarle and received great acclaim, spent this day assisting in the assault on Ft. Fisher. Gunboats provided covering bombardment as Gen. Benjamin Butler’s 2000 troops came ashore and advanced on the fort. Cushing’s route was to be up New Inlet, but it was found to be blocked by a sandbar and he was driven back.

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