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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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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Civil War: Events of September 1862

Union General John Pope, apparently broken by his defeat at Second Manassas, planned to retreat to the defenses of Washington.  But  General Halleck instead ordered Pope to attack Lee’s forces at Manassas. But Lee had already begun to move.  He sent Stonewall Jackson’s corps around the Union right flank while Longstreet stayed in place to deceive Pope.  Jackson marched north and east and near the intersection of modern-day US 50 and US 29.  Union cavalry sighted Jackson’s forces and alerted Pope, who canceled the attack and began the retreat from Centreville.  On the morning of September 1st, Pope sent two brigades under Isaac Stevens to block Jackson’s march.  Phillip Kearny’s division followed in the afternoon.  Jackson’s men, exhausted, made camp on Ox Hill.  About 3 p.m., Stevens’ Union brigades arrived at Ox Hill.  Despite being outnumbered, Stevens immediately attacked across a field towards the Confederate center.  The attack was initially successful, but a counter-attack by Jubal Early drove them back.  General Stevens died during this fight.  Kearny arrived about 5 p.m., along with a raging thunderstorm that soaked ammunition and eliminated visibility so much that at one point, Kearny rode into the Confederate line.  He realized his mistake and turned back but was shot and killed.  The Union troops then withdrew from the field.  Although tactically inconclusive, it is counted a southern victory because the battle neutralized any threat from the Union Army and allowed Lee to begin his Maryland campaign.  Pope was fired by Lincoln and replaced by Ambrose Burnside.
Also on September 1st, in Madison County, Tennessee, Union and Confederate cavalry clashed at Britton’s Lane.  The fight resulted in a southern victory and helped the larger strategy of trying to keep Grant from reinforcing Buell in Tennessee.
On September 2nd, southern forces under Kirby Smith began their invasion of Kentucky.  Two days later, they captured the state capital Frankfurt.
Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland on September 5th, taking Frederick on the 6th.  As they moved north, the southern troops destroyed the Baltimore and Ohio railroad bridge over the Monocacy River.
On September 9th, Lee drafted Special Order 191, which described how he would divide the army, and what routes they would take into Maryland.  That same day Samuel Heintzelman takes command of the defenses on the south side of Washington.
The Battle of Harpers Ferry was fought from September 12-15.  Jackson attacked the town, location of the Federal Arsenal, from three sides.  The Union commander, Dixon Miles, although knowing of Jackson’s approach, declined to post troops to the strategically important heights surrounding the town.  When Jackson’s forces arrived, they set up artillery on the heights and began a systematic bombardment of the town.  Miles realized that his situation was hopeless and surrendered, making more than 12,000 Union soldiers prisoners.
On the 14th, a copy of Lee’s Special Order 191 was found by a Union corporal.  From there, the document was passed up the chain of command and ended up in the hands of George McClelland.  McClellan split his army into three wings to block Crampton’s Gap, Turner’s Gap, and Fox’s Gap which lay along Lee’s lines of advance.  The three attacks hurt Lee, but McClellan’s refusal to aggressively follow up the attacks not only ensured the capture of the Union garrison at Harper’s Ferry, but also gave Lee time to pull his scattered divisions together and continue his invasion of Maryland.  Next stop:  Antietam.
Also on the 14th, Confederate forces under Braxton Bragg marched into Kentucky and faced three Union brigades under John T. Wilder at Munfordville, Kentucky.  Wilder’s forces initially repulsed the attacks and forced the southerners into siege.  Not wishing to kill civilians, General Simon B. Buckner invited Wilder into the Confederate lines to see the strength arrayed against his small force.  Wilder bowed to the inevitable, and agreed to surrender, allowing a key rail junction to fall into Rebel hands.  Buckner’s son, Simon B. Buckner, Jr., commanded the U.S. 6th Army in the assault on Okinawa in World War II.
September 17th saw the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day of the war for both sides, resulting in over 23,000 casualties.  After pursuing Lee into Maryland, McClellan launched attacks against the Rebel troops who defended themselves from behind prepared fortifications.  The Union troops had several successes, but the fundamental difference between the endemic caution of all Union Generals and the courage of Lee to commit everything turned what should have been a decisive defeat into results that could best be described as inconclusive, although Lee was forced to retire back southward.  At one critical junction, Confederate General A. P. Hill, arriving from Harpers Ferry, launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and effectively ending the battle.  Although outnumbered 2-to-1, Lee committed all of his troops, while the cautious McClellan sent only three quarters of his troops into the battle.  Slim though the perceived victory was, it was enough to enable Lincoln to issue his Emancipation Proclamation from a position of strength on September 22nd.
Also on the 17th, the Allegheny Arsenal near Pittsburgh was destroyed by a massive explosion.  78 civilians were killed.  The cause was never finalized but leaking gunpowder from defective barrels shipped from Dupont an Company may have been ignited by a spark from a horseshoe.
On the 19th, Union General Rosecrans defeated Confederate Sterling Price at the Battle of Luka, MS.
Through the 19th and 20th, A.P. Hill fought skirmishes at Shepardstown, Ashby’s Gap, Williamsport, and Hagerstown, covering the retreat of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
A naval engagement occurred over the 24th and 25th when Union ships blockading the Texas coast, encountered and shelled a Rebel regiment at Sabine Pass.  The Confederates withdrew.
On September 24th, the Confederate Congress adopted the Seal of the Confederacy.
On the 25th, Union General Buell won the race to the Ohio river against Confederate forces under Bragg, arriving in Louisville, Kentucky.
With southern casualties mounting, the Confederate Congress passed the second conscription act, on the 26th extending the age of enlistments from 35 to 45 years of age.
History was made in New Orleans on the 27th when the first all-black regiment was formed by the Union.  Officially called  the First Regiment Louisiana Native Guard, they called themselves “Chasseurs d’Afrique,” “Hunters of Africa.”
Union General William “Bull” Nelson dismissed General Jefferson C. Davis from his command.  A week later, on September 29th, Davis confronted Nelson in the lobby of the Galt House Hotel in Louisville.  He was publically humiliated when Nelson slapped him across the face, causing Davis to lose control, draw a pistol, and kill Nelson.  
On that same day, General George Thomas, the Rock of Chickamauga, refused the offer to command the Army of Ohio, not knowing that President Lincoln had made the offer based on pleas from 20 officers in that army.
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