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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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Civil War: Events of August 1864

Union General Phil Sheridan was named to command the Army of the Shenandoah on August 1st.

August 3rd saw the start of one of the major naval actions of the Civil War at Mobile Bay.  With the loss of New Orleans and Vicksburg, Mobile Bay was one of the last ports available to the Confederacy.  Indeed, a regular parade of blockade runners had been sortieing out of the Bay bound for friendly ports of supply in the Caribbean.  Admiral David Farragut entered the bay with 18 ships on the 5th, far outnumbering the five representing the CSN.  The Union lost ironclad TECUMSEH to a mine (then called "torpedoes"), part of a large field laid by the South.  Despite the loss of that ship, Farragut pressed forward, gambling that the extended submergence would have rendered the mines inert.  It was here that one of the classic naval phrases was born "Damn the torpedoes!  Full speed ahead!"  The balance of the Union fleet entered the Bay successfully, engaging the Confederate ships and also the three heavily defended forts lining the bay.  In short order, the Southern ships were sunk.  The only one left was the ironclad TENNESSEE, which gave a good account for itself, inflicting heavy damage and standing her ground until she was literally pounded into scrap.  Without a fleet to defend them, the forts eventually were forced to surrender on August 23rd.  Shoal water and a lack of ground troops prevented the immediate capture of the city itself, but the loss of one of their last sources of supply followed shortly thereafter by the capture of Atlanta was the first of the final knells that would lead to the death of the Confederacy.

The last major engagement in the new Union state of West Virginia was fought on August 7th at Moorefield.  CSA General Jubal Early had dispatched cavalry under John McCausland to raid Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and Cumberland, Maryland.  The Union countered with cavalry under William Averill.  Averill thought that the Rebs were bent on attacking Baltimore and deployed to block that attack.  The move played into McCausland's hands, allowing him to hit Chambersburg, sacking and burning the town.  McCausland was turned away from New Creek, WV by a determined Union defense, highlighted by the intelligent placing of artillery on the high ground.  The Southerners then fell back to Moorefield where they were attacked early in the morning by Averill.  The Union General had learned much from the tactics employed by Stonewall Jackson, and now using flanking movements and employing relentless pressure, routed the Confederates.  The defeat virtually crippled the Southern cavalry in the Shenandoah.  They were a non-factor for the rest of the war.

At the Union headquarters at City Point, Virginia, an ordinance vessel exploded on August 9th, causing damage and loss of life.

The next day, CSA cavalry commander Joe Wheeler began raiding north Georgia with his troopers.  Wheeler's mission was to disrupt rail and supply traffic to General Sherman.  On the 18th, he attacked the Union Garrison at Dalton, but the bluecoats held out until a relief column of cavalry and black troops arrived to drive the Rebels away.

From August 18-21, Union forces under Gouvernor Warren attacked and destroyed miles of the Weldon Railroad tracklines.  The action finally cut this rail supply route, forcing the Confederates to turn to horse drawn wagons to try to supply their besieged army at Petersburg.

On August 21st, Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked and occupied Memphis for a few hours, almost capturing two Union generals.  The action forced the redeployment of Union soldiers giving Forrest a clear shot at General Sherman's supply lines.

August 25th saw another attempt buy A. P. Hill to retake the Weldon Railroad at Reams Station.  The Southerners were successful in pushing Hancock's 2nd Corps backwards, but at the end of the day, the North still held the railroad.

Two days later, lead elements of Sherman's Army cut the Macon and Western Railroad, CSA General Hood's last supply line to Atlanta.  On the 28th, some 60,000 Union soldiers are moving to outflank Hood's army and cut them off.

At the Democratic Convention between August 29-31, disgraced Union commander George B. McClellan was nominated for President under a platform that advocated an immediate end to the war.

From August 31 to September 1, the final battle of the Atlanta campaign was fought at Jonesborough, Georgia.  CSA General Hardee attacked Howard's Army of the Tennessee while John Schofield finally cut the Macon and Western RR.  This put Hood in jeopardy.  The battle was joined by Union reinforcements the next day and the Southerners were forced to withdraw.

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