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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Civil War: Events of December 1861

On December 7, Stonewall Jackson scored a significant victory by disrupting major Union logistical and transportation infrastructure when he attacked and destroyed the West Virginia side of Dam Number 5 on the Potomac River.  The destruction affected water levels on the C&O canal and made it very difficult to repair the B&O railroad lines.

On December 10, John T. Ford acquired a lease to the former First Baptist Church on 10th Street in Washington.  He converted the building to a theater, which he named after himself.

The Battle of Camp Allegheny was fought on December 13 at a site in Pocahontas County in what is now West Virginia.  Rebel troops commanded by Colonel Edward Johnson  had occupied the summit of the mountain, defending  the Staunton-Parkersburg Pike.  The camp was attacked by a Union force under BGEN Robert Milroy.  The battle ebbed and flowed across the battlefield throughout a day that, while sunny, was cold and windy.  In the afternoon, a Confederate artillery barrage against their fortifications, largely destroying them.  Johnson then led an attack, at one point personally laying into the Union troops with a musket in one hand and a club in another.  Milroy’s troops were forced to retreat.  The Rebel leader’s leadership and courage led his troops to bestow  one of the more colorful nicknames of any leader during the war.  After this battle, he would be known as “Allegheny Johnson.”

On December 20, the U.S. Congress seated the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.

On that same day, Confederate forces under the colorful, and soon to be legendary J.E.B. Stuart encountered a Union force under General Edward Ord conducting a similar winter patrol at the small Virginia crossroads town of Dranesville in Fairfax County.  Ord met Rebel cavalry pickets near the crossroads and quickly drove them off.  He set off in pursuit, only to be attacked from the rear by Stuarts main body.  Ord wheeled his troops, formed battle line and deployed his artillery while this was going on, the Rebel 6th South Carolina mistook the 1st Kentuckians for Union troops and the two regiments began fighting each other.  The Union 9th Pennsylvania charged but was driven back.  An artillery duel ensued, the Union prevailing.  Ord then formed an infantry skirmish line and sent it towards Stuart. The two battled for about two hours before Stuart, his supply wagons safely away, withdrew.  It was the first Union victory in the Eastern Theater.

December 21st marked the birth of America’s first medal, called the Navy Medal of Honor.  While not the vaunted Congressional Medal of Honor, it was nonetheless a mark of distinction.
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