Mark on February 23rd, 2015

The U.S. Postal Service has released the designs for the 2015 Civil War commemorative stamps, the fifth and final issues in the series commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  This year’s stamps feature artwork commemorating the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865, and the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s army at Appomattox  Court House nine days later on April 9th.

2015 Civil War Commemorative Stamps

The Battle of Five Forks marked the end of the nine month Siege of Petersburg, Virginia.  General Phil Sheridan’s cavalry, along with infantry from the Union 5th Corps, attacked General George E. Pickett’s Confederate division southwest of Petersburg with the intention of cutting the South Side Railroad, the Confederate army’s last supply line into Petersburg.   The battle was named after a five road junction in the midst of the Rebel lines.  The Federals were victorious, and with the supply line cut, Petersburg and Richmond had to be abandoned.  The Confederates headed west, but could not escape the pursuing Union army.  On April 9th, Lee surrendered to Ulysses S.  Grant at Appomattox Court house. Continue reading “2015 Civil War Commemorative Stamps” »

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Major General Phillip Sheridan

Major General Phillip Sheridan

After defeating the Confederate Army of General Jubal Early at the Battle of Cedar Creek in October 1864, Major General Phillip Sheridan withdrew his army to the vicinity of Winchester, Virginia, in the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley.   At that location, Sheridan had much shorter supply lines than if he had been farther down the valley.  Over the winter of 1864-5, some of Sheridan’s units were dispatched to the Union lines around Petersburg and Richmond; those that remained spent a lot of time dealing with harassment from Colonel John S. Mosby’s Rangers, but saw little other action.  Though Early still had troops in the Shenandoah, he did not have a large enough army to take offensive action against Sheridan, and there were no reinforcements available.

In February 1865, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant ordered Sheridan to move against Lynchburg, Virginia and destroy as much of the Virginia Central Railroad  as possible.  After that, Grant wanted Sheridan to head south and join William T. Sherman’s army in the Carolinas, but Sheridan was given some discretion on whether to go to Sherman or instead go to Petersburg and join with Grant and the Army of the Potomac.

On February 27th, Sheridan sent two cavalry divisions under the command of General Wesley Merritt down the valley toward Staunton, Virginia.  One division was under the command of Brigadier General Thomas Devlin and the other under Brevet Major General George A. Custer.  On March 1st, the Federals were a few miles outside of Staunton, where Jubal Early had his headquarters.  Riding into Staunton the next day, Sheridan discovered that Early had left town and headed east with about 1200 men and 11 artillery pieces.  Sheridan had a choice to make:  he could proceed to Lynchburg or to pursue and engage Early.  The Union general did not want to leave Early’s admittedly small force in his rear, so he chose the latter course. Continue reading “Colonel Alexander C.M. Pennington’s Report on the Battle of Waynesboro Virginia March 1865” »

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The CSS Georgia was a Confederate ironclad built to defend Savannah, Georgia, but the vessel never went anywhere. The heavy ship had underpowered engines and was turned into a floating artillery battery. Even so, when General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea reached Savannah in December 1864, the ship was scuttled by the Confederates to prevent it from falling into Union hands. The vessel never fired a shot in combat.

Since that time, the ship has rested at the bottom of the Savannah River with a buoy marking its location so ship traffic steers clear of the site. But the Port of Savannah is a very busy one, and the river channel is in need of dredging to accommodate today’s large ships. A $703 million project by the Army Corps of Engineers is underway to deepen the river channel. Part of the project includes the recovery of the Georgia. The ship is not intact so it will be brought up in pieces along with artifacts salvaged from the vessel. The Navy will be standing by to handle any unexploded ordnance recovered. Here’s a look at the project:

Continue reading “Recovery of CSS Georgia Begins; CSS Hunley Hull Cleaned Off; Confederate Arms in Congaree River: Civil War in the News Winter 2015” »

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