150 Years Ago in the Civil War

Abraham LincolnWith the major campaigns bogged down in the mid summer of 1864, it appeared that Abraham Lincoln’s chances at being reelected President of the United States were slim at best.  The early August naval victory of Admiral David Farragut at Mobile Bay was welcome news, but it wasn’t until Major General William T. Sherman captured Atlanta in early September that Lincoln’s prospects improved.  Major General Philip Sheridan’s victories in the Shenandoah Valley in September and October as well as the repulse of General Sterling Price’s raid into Missouri in late October also convinced many voters that final victory, though not imminent, was only a matter of time if the Lincoln Administration continued to lead the country.

Lincoln ran as the candidate of the National Union Party, a coalition of Republicans and War Democrats, with Andrew Johnson of Tennessee as his running mate, replacing Vice President Hannibal Hamlin.  Johnson had remained loyal to the Union and was the Military Governor of Tennessee at the time of the election.  On November 8th, the voters reelected Lincoln over his opponent, General George McClellan, by a margin of 55% to 45% in the popular vote.  Lincoln won 212 electoral votes to McClellan’s 21, with the challenger winning only Kentucky, Delaware, and his home state of New Jersey. Continue reading “Lincoln Reelected, Sherman Begins March to the Sea, Battle of Franklin: November 1864” »

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Gen Rutherford B. HayesOhio native and future 19th President of the United States Rutherford B. Hayes was a 38 year old Cincinnati lawyer when he was appointed major of the 23rd Ohio Infantry in June of 1861. Hayes was one of two future presidents in the 23rd Ohio; William McKinley, the 25th President also served in this same unit.

Hayes was wounded at the Battle of South Mountain in Maryland on September 15th, 1862. In the summer of 1864, Hayes was placed in command of a brigade in Major General George Crook’s Army of West Virginia. The brigade included the 23rd and 36th Ohio, plus the 5th and 13th West Virginia infantry regiments. The Army of West Virginia saw considerable action in Major General Philip Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign against General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army in the late summer and fall of 1864.

On September 19th, Hayes assumed command of the Army of West Virginia’s 2nd Division when the division’s commanding officer was wounded at the Battle of Winchester, or Opequon as it is also called. The division consisted of two infantry brigades; besides his own 1st Brigade, the division’s 2nd Brigade consisted of the 34th and 91st Ohio, and 9th and 14th West Virginia infantry regiments. Over the course of the next month, Hayes commanded the division in the Battles of Winchester, Fisher’s Hill, and Cedar Creek. Here are his official reports for those battles, all Union victories. Note that he often refers to his West Virginia regiments as the “Ninth Virginia” or Fourteenth Virginia”, etc. when they were indeed West Virginia units. Also note that Hayes’ report on Cedar Creek was filed with fellow future president McKinley. Continue reading “Future President Rutherford B. Hayes’ After Action Reports on the Battles of Winchester, Fisher’s Hill, and and Cedar Creek” »

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Mark on October 14th, 2014

James M. McPherson, Emeritus Professor of History at Princeton University and one of today’s top Civil War scholars, has written a new biography about Confederate president Jefferson Davis entitled Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief. McPherson, author of the 1989 Pulitzer Prize winning Battle Cry of Freedom, has written or edited nearly three dozen books on the war. McPherson appeared on the October 6th, 2014 episode of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report where he talked about the Civil War with host Stephen Colbert.

Comedy Central seems like a strange venue for McPherson to talk about his book, but it’s refreshing to see a distinguished professor with a sense of humor. Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief
went on sale October 7th.

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