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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.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Civil War: Events of August 1862


On August 1st, Brazil formally recognized the Confederate States of America.

Looking to fund the war effort, the U.S. Congress on August 2, passed the first federal income tax.  There was only one rate, 3% on earnings greater than $800.

On August 3rd, a federal fleet bombarded Galveston, TX.

On August 4th, the Confederates launched an attack aimed at recapturing Baton Rouge, LA.  Rebels under John C. Breckinridge approached the city under the cover of darkness, but lost the element of surprise when his troops were detected by Union sentries.  However, the main body of defending troops had been out of training camp less than two weeks and the Rebels pushed the Union line back all the way through town.  The Union commander, Thomas Williams, was killed and his relief, Col Thomas Cahill led a retreat back to prepared defensive positions south of town under the protection of the Yankee fleet.  The Confederate ironclad CSS Arkansas suffered engine failure north of the city, so her guns were not available to support Breckinridge, so he withdrew.  Union troops, concerned for the safety of New Orleans, evacuated Baton Rouge, but returned in the autumn.

On August 5th, Union troops under Hooker retook Malvern Hill, but withdrew then next day.  Also on the 5th, USS Vincennes in a naval engagement at Fernandina, FL ended the Rebel blockade of that area.

On August 8th, one of the ugliest battles of the war was fought in Kirksville, MO.  Union cavalry troops under John McNeill had been pursuing a Confederate force under Joseph Porter, who had been recruiting in the area.  He had put together a brigade-size force, but the troops were raw and ill-equipped.  McNeill attacked the town, where the enemy soldiers were hiding in various buildings and within the crop-laden fields.  A detachment of cavalry courageously rode around the square trying to draw fire and thus reveal the Rebel positions, which cost the lives of two Union troopers.  Having sited the positions, McNeill deployed his artillery and began a march in line of battle through the town.  The cannon fire demoralized the southerners.  Despite returning heavy and accurate fire, the Rebels were forced to retreat.  Union troops secured the town.  Then things turned ugly.  A 60-yo farmer with two sons fighting for the north was shot down in cold blood.  15 captured Rebel soldiers were discovered to have violated their parole and were court-martialed and executed.  A rebel officer, Frisby McCullogh, despite wearing a regular uniform and carrying papers authorizing him to recruit for the south, was nonetheless convicted of being a “bushwacker,” or renegade, and was executed.

August 9th saw the battle of Cedar Mountain, known as Slaughter Mountain by the South, fought in Culpeper County, VA.  It was the first combat action of the Northern Virginia campaign.  Nathaniel Banks led a Union force in an attack against Stonewall Jackson, who was in the area to protect central Virginia from Union capture.  Rebel troops were nearly driven from the field early, but mounted a counterattack that broke the Union lines and secured the victory.  

On the 13th, Robert E. Lee prepared to move his army north to engage the Union force under John Pope.

The next day, General Halleck, the General in Chief of the Union Army, ordered McClellan to withdraw from the Peninsula.

Also on the 14th, Martial Law was declared in St. Louis, MO due to strong pro-secession sentiment that had surged throughout the state after the Confederate victory at Wilson’s Creek.

On the 16th, a Rebel force under Carter Stevenson were poised in the critical Cumberland Gap in Eastern Tennessee.  Union General Bull Nelson takes command of troops in Kentucky.

On that same day, McClellan completed the withdrawal of his troops from the Peninsula, only to see most of his army reassigned to John Pope.

On August 17th, J.E.B. Stuart assumes command of the cavalry for the Army of Northern Virginia.

Confederate General Braxton Bragg crossed the Tennessee River at Chattanooga on the 21st.

General Benjamin Butler authorized the enlistment of “Free Negroes” on the 22nd.

On August 26th, Confederate forces under Fitzhugh Lee captured the rail depot in Manassas, initiating a series of events that would culminate in the Second Battle of Manassas.

Between August 25th and 27th, a series of battles, known as Kettle Run, Bristoe Station, and Union Mills were fought as Stonewall Jackson passed the Union Flank through Thoroughfare Gap, striking the Orange and Alexandria Railroad at Bristoe Station, then headed for the massive Union supply depot at Manassas Junction.  Union General Pope was surprised by this turn of events and withdrew from his defensive line along the Rappahannock River.  Jackson routed a Union force at Union Mills while Ewell fought a rearguard action at Kettle run.  After dark, Jackson marched his Corps north to the Bull Run battlefield, digging in behind an unfinished railroad grade.

On August 28th, Rebel forces under Braxton Bragg left Chattanooga to rendezvous with Kirby Smith.

On that same day, Lee and James Longstreet arrive at Manassas.

On August 29th, one of the pivotal battles of the early part of the war was fought over the same ground at Manassas that saw the first major fight in 1861.  After a wide-ranging flanking march, Stonewall Jackson took up defensive positions along Stony Ridge.  Pope, convinced he had trapped Jackson, and concentrated the majority of his army in a series of attacks toward Jackson.  On the 30th, Longstreet arrived after punching through light resistance at Thoroughfare Gap, arrived and took up a position on the flank of Pope’s line of advance.  Pope, unaware of Longstreet’s arrival, renewed his attacks on Jackon’s position.  In the largest mass attack of the war, Longstreet struck Pope’s flank with some 28,000 troops.  Pope’s flank was crushed and was forced back to Bull Run.  If not for an effective Union rearguard defense of the retreating Army, the Army of the Potomac might have been completely destroyed.

Coupled with the win at Manassas, a Confederate force under Kirby Smith scored a stunning victory against Bull Nelson at Richmond, KY between the 29th and 30th.  Smith, along with a parallel force under Braxton Bragg were moving to reassume Confederate control of Kentucky.  Smith’s troops encountered lead elements of Nelson’s Yankees near Richmond.  The first day’s action was inconclusive, but the next day, Smith ordered the attack renewed.  After an artillery duel, Smith forces attacked the Union right, forcing them to retreat into Rogersville.  They made a futile stand there, and Nelson attempted another stand in a cemetery, but was routed.  Nelson managed to escape, but some 4,300 of his men were not so fortunate, and were made prisoners of war.
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