Adair County, Missouri was the site of a battle on August 6-9, 1862. The Union Army attacked and secured Kirksville, Missouri; this victory helped maintain Union dominance in Missouri, a border state.
Commander James Bullock was sent to Britain to purchase warships for the Confederacy. Bullock was able to contract for the construction of four ironclads. Bullock supervised the construction in Europe. The ships were to be seaworthy of the Atlantic and able to navigate the Mississippi River. The dream was to use these ships to break the Union naval blockade. Of the four warships ordered, only one ever saw service.
At Carrick’s Ford, West Virginia in July 7-13, 1861 Union General McClellan sent 2,000 Union troops to hold and protect the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. McClellan’s troops forced the Confederates to retreat across Carrick’s Ford, making McClellan a national hero. As a result, he was asked to command the entire Union army.
Confederate Brigadier General Thomas F. Drayton was a life long friend of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Drayton commanded Drayton’s Brigade at the battles of Second Manassas, South Mountain, and Antietam.
Colonel Charles Ellet and Flag Officer Charles Davis launched a naval attack on Memphis, Tennessee on June 6, 1862. In one and a half hours, the Union vessels under their command sank or captured all but one of the Confederate ships. As a result, Memphis fell under Union control. This victory opened another section of the Mississippi River to Union shipping.
Commodore Andrew Foote commanded a fleet of gunboats which attacked Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. This attack aided General Grant and 15,000 men under Grant’s command to capture Fort Henry on February 6, 1862.
The Union was forced to abandon the Gosport Navy Yard across the Elizabeth River from Norfolk when the Civil War began. The Union scuttled many ships anchored there, including the USS Merrimack. The USS Merrimack was later raised by the Confederates, refitted as an ironclad, and renamed the CSS Virginia.
General Henry W. Halleck (nicknamed “Old Brains”) reassigned General Grant after Grant’s victories at Fort Donelson and Shiloh. This was perhaps done out of jealousy of Grant’s accomplishments. Later, Halleck assumed command of all the Union army. Halleck ordered Sherman’s march to the sea and Sheridan’s destruction of the Shenandoah Valley.
On August 28, 1861, Union forces under the command of Benjamin Butler made an amphibious attack on Fort Hatteras in the Carolinas. The Confederates were defeated and Butler was ordered to destroy the fort at Hatteras. Butler was able to convince his superiors of the value of maintaining Fort Hatteras as a way of dominating the sea routes used by the Confederate blockade runners.
Fort Moultrie, named for Revolutionary War General William Moultrie, was built before the Civil War to help defend Charleston, South Carolina. After the Secession of South Carolina from the United States, Major Robert Anderson secretly withdrew his troops from Moultrie to Fort Sumter because Fort Moultrie was vulnerable to land attack. On April 12, 1861, the Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter, thereby starting the Civil War.
In April 1864, Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates surrounded Fort Pillow on the east bank of the Mississippi River near Memphis. Fort Pillow was being held by 552 black Union troops and a group of Tennessee unionists. When the defenders refused to surrender, Forrest’s men stormed the fort. Over three hundred disarmed defenders, black and white, were slaughtered.
Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée were invited to accompany President and Mrs. Lincoln to Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. John Wilkes Booth sneaked into the President’s box and shot the President, mortally wounding him. Booth then struggled with Rathbone, slashing Rathbone’s arm with a knife. Booth then escaped the President’s box by jumping to the stage. Lincoln died the following morning.
Henry William Ravenel, a South Carolina planter, botanist, and writer, kept a journal of his Civil War life. “The Private Journal of Henry William Ravenel” was widely read after the war.
At the battle of Ringgold Gap, Georgia, the Confederates stalled the southward advance of 12,000 Union soldiers under the command of General “Fighting Joe” Hooker.
General John Sedgwick led Union troops at the battle Chancellorsville. He was ordered to keep Lee’s troops engaged at Fredericksburg while General Hooker’s main force was to stop Lee and to seize Richmond. However, Lee divided his army and launched a counterattack that was able to stop the Union advance on Richmond. Later, Sedgwick was killed during the Wilderness Campaign. General Grant described Sedgwick as worth a division to the Union.
In December 1861, Union naval forces captured John Slidell of Louisiana and James Murray Mason, two Confederate envoys, on a British steamer, the Trent. The British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, demanded the release of the two envoys. Palmerston sent 11,000 British troops to Canada, prepared to act if the two men were not freed. On Christmas Day, President Lincoln released Slidell and Mason as “white elephants”. Lincoln said that one war at a time was enough.