Jackson’s Saucer is Full of Secrets; Lincoln Must Command

December 31, 1861 (New Year’s Eve – Tuesday) This had certainly been a strange year for Thomas J. Jackson. At its start, he was a professor at the Virginia Military Institute, under the immediate command of William Gilham. The United States flag flew over the parade grounds and they all still held true to theRead More

Being Thus Forsaken: Was Davis Ignoring Missouri?

December 30, 1861 (Monday) The one thing that Missouri needed, believed General Sterling Price, was the Confederate Army. Price, the commander of the secessionist Missouri State Guard, had pleaded for months that the official Confederate armies come to his assistance in the southwestern part of the state. After a foray north towards Lexington, he hadRead More

Burnside Plans His Own Amphibious Assault; Buell Has a Better Idea in Kentucky

December 29, 1861 (Sunday) Since the Union defeat at the Battle of Bull Run, Ambrose Burnside had been promoted from colonel to brigadier-general and placed in command of the rawest recruits in the Army of the Potomac, under General George McClellan. Quickly growing bored of being little more than a glorified drill sergeant, Burnside, alongRead More

Mt. Zion Church: Clearing Out Resistance in Northern Missouri

December 28, 1861 (Saturday) Two days before Christmas, the commander of Union forces in Missouri, General Henry Halleck, began to crack down upon secessionist bridge burners in the northern part of the state. To suppress the insurrectionists, he placed General Benjamin Prentiss in charge of the troops near the Northern Missouri Railroad. His orders wereRead More

Rare Mercy from Jefferson Davis Saves the Life of a Unionist

December 27, 1861 (Friday) Perhaps it was the Yuletide spirit, still lingering jubilant in the air of the Confederacy, that tricked the fate of Harrison Self, an Eastern Tennessee bridge burner who had been captured and was to be executed at 4pm. Since the heart-wrenching death of fellow bridge burner, Alexander Haun, at least twoRead More

They Will Be Cheerfully Liberated: Mason & Slidell To Be Freed!

December 26, 1861 (Thursday) The celebrations of Christmas had not stood in the way of Lincoln’s Cabinet meetings and the discussion of what to do with James Mason and John Slidell, Confederate envoys to England and France, taken prisoner aboard the British vessel Trent. The incident had sparked much controversy and threatened to plunge theRead More

No Rest and Little Celebration for Christmas 1861

December 25, 1861 (Wednesday – Christmas) For some, the first Christmas of the war was a time of rest, where drills and military formalities took a short day off. Around Washington, the mood was full of apprehension and gloom over the Trent Affair, as well as gloom, if the past year was considered in theRead More

Stonewall Waits for Loring, Plans Attack Anyway; Floyd to Kentucky

December 24, 1861 (Tuesday, Christmas Eve) Since the Battle of Allegheny Mountain, a week and a half ago, Confederate General William Loring’s Army of the Northwest had been slowly filtering into Winchester, Virginia to fortify General Stonewall Jackson’s numbers for a winter campaign towards Romney. During the long wait, an anxious Jackson again attempted toRead More

Washington Officially Given Seven Days to Release Mason & Slidell

December 23, 1861 (Monday) It was a very mild day for being so deep into December. In fact, the past week had been pleasantly dry and warm in Washington. For President Lincoln and his Cabinet, the lovely weather had been all but ignored as they squirreled themselves away in their offices and meeting rooms toRead More

Halleck Orders All Rebel Bridge Burners to be Shot on Sight

December 22, 1861 (Sunday) Like the Confederates in Eastern Tennessee, Union General Henry Halleck, commander of the Department of Missouri, was not going to allow his enemies to burn bridges and get away with it. The previous day, a colonel commanding an outpost in Montgomery County, eighty miles west of St. Louis, reported “that severalRead More