Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - May 25-31, 1864

May 25,1864-General U.S. Grant's Army of the Potomac prepares to move east toward Cold Harbor after little progress along the North Anna River. The Confederates miss a chance to crush Grant's widely scattered army when they fail to attack. General Robert E. Lee is still too ill to order any action.

May 25,1864-In another Union plan to entice Robert E. Lee to be drawn away from Richmond, General David Hunter receives orders to move down the Shenandoah Valley, capture the rail junction at Lynchburg and then threaten Charlottsville.

May 25,1864-Just 25 miles north of Atlanta, General Joseph Hooker, commanding the XX Corps, encounters General John Bell Hood's Confederates. Hooker is repulsed and eventually is force to retire from the field. Union losses are about 1,600.

May 25,1864-In an unsuccessful attempt to sink the CSS Albemarle steam ram, the USS Mattabesett tows two 100 pound torpedoes up the Middle River, North Carolina. Several swimmers jump overboard to get closer to the Albemarle but are detected. They swim to safety, escape capture, and are awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

May 26,1864-Japanese authorities threaten to close the port at Kanagawa to all foreign commerce. Robert H. Pruyn, U.S. Minister to Japan, requests that the USS Jamestown be dispatched to that port as a show of force.

May 26,1864-The Montana Territory is formed by taking land out of the Idaho and Dakota Territories.

May 26,1864-The Union Army of the Potomac turns General R.E.Lee's right flank by crossing the North Anna River and marching toward the Pamunkey River.

May 26,1864-Dallas, Georgia is occupied by Union forces under General James McPherson.

May 26,1864-General Hunter continues toward Staunton, Virginia from Strasburg but is slowed by felled trees and other obstacles put in place by General John Imboden's Confederate Cavalry.

May 27,1864-Between New Hope and Dallas, Georgia the Confederate line is probed by General Sherman's Corp commanders. General Oliver O. Howard's IV Corps is repulsed at Pickett's Mill by General Patrick Cleburne's troops. This success prompts General Johnston to order an attack for the following morning to be led by General John B. Hood.

May 27,1864- General George Custer leads his cavalry in the capture of Hanovertown, Virginia after crossing the Pamunkey River.

May 28,1864-Maximillian, puppet emperor of Austria, arrives in Vera Cruz, Mexico. Maximillian is backed by French Emperor Napoleon III and is opposed to Benito Juarez, Mexican politician turned guerrilla. The United States considers Maximillian's presence a violation of the Monroe Doctrine and sends diplomatic protests but little more is possible due to the Civil War.

May 28,1864-General Hood inspects the Union lines and considers the line strongly entrenched. General Johnston calls off the assault planned for this day.

May 28,1864-Robert E. Lee shifts his headquarters to Atlee's Station, Virginia to have a better view of Union movement toward Richmond. The Army of the Potomac continues down the north bank of the Pamunkey River, looking for a place to cross and attack Lee's right. Union cavalry led by General David Gregg and Confederate General Wade Hampton's troops enter a mounted skirmish at Haw's Shop, Virginia. Hampton's force is armed with long range Enfield rifles and they have the upper hand. General George Custer's Michigan cavalry arrives and the "Wolverines", armed with rapid fire Spencer Carbines, engage the Confederates and force them to withdraw.

May 29,1864-General Lee moves toward Cold Harbor while General Grant continues toward Richmond. Neither commander has firm information about the movement of the opposing force.

May 29,1864-General Jubel A. Early becomes the leader of the Confederate II Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. This corps was formerly under the command of "Stonewall" Jackson.

May 30,1864-General Grant suddenly swings toward Cold Harbor, just 10 miles from Richmond. The Confederates withdraw to a new defensive line at Cold Harbor.

May 30,1864-General Morgan begins his final raid across Union lines by entering Kentucky.

May 31,1864-Radical Republicans meet at Cleveland, Ohio and nominate former Union General John Fremont and General John Cochrane of New York as their Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. Among Fremont's strongest supporters is African-American Frederick Douglass who feels that President Lincoln is far too lenient toward Southerners in his early plans for Reconstruction.

May 31,1864-While General Grant's Overland Campaign is a series of tactical failures, the end result is a strategic success. In just one month, he has moved from the Rapidan River to the doorstep of Richmond. This was a very bloody month however.