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

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

Confederates Hold Tight on Allegheny Mountain

December 13, 1861 (Friday) The two wings of General Milroy’s small Union force in Western Virginia had split the previous day, after pushing back the Confederate pickets in a sharp skirmish along the Greenbrier River. While the Rebels retreated to Camp Allegheny (their main fort) Milroy enacted a plan to simultaneously attack the right andRead More

British Reaction to Trent Affair Arrives in US; Preparing for Battle in Western Virginia

December 12, 1861 (Thursday) It had taken the better part of two weeks for the demands of England’s Foreign Secretary John Russell to reach the shores of America. Confederate envoys to England and France, James Mason and John Slidell, had been taken off a British ship on November 8th, over a month ago. With newsRead More

Two Union Brigades to Arrest Two Secessionist Nephews

December 6, 1861 (Friday) Since the Union defeat at the sad disaster on Ball’s Bluff on October 22, the town of Dranesville, eighteen miles south, had been mostly left alone by the Federals. It was only in the past week or so that Union scouts had the pleasure of being fired upon by several DranesvilleRead More

England Frantic with Rage over Trent Affair; Rebels Not Advancing in Missouri

November 29, 1861 (Friday) “There never was within memory such a burst of feeling as has been created by the news of the boarding of the La Plata [Trent],” wrote Charles MacKay, a Scottish poet living in England. The news that Confederate envoys, James Mason and John Slidell, had been seized from a British vesselRead More

Mason & Slidell Arrive in Boston; Jackson’s Winter Offensive Gains Speed

November 24, 1861 (Sunday) The storm of the previous night had kept Captain Charles Wilkes and the USS San Jacinto just outside of Boston Harbor. Their cargo, the prisoners, James Mason and John Slidell, Confederate envoys to England and France, stored inside under the guard of a US Marshal. The voyage from Fortress Monroe toRead More

Stonewall Jackson’s Winter Plan; Kentucky Secedes (Sort Of)

November 20, 1861 (Wednesday) Just south of Winchester, Virginia, Stonewall Jackson, now reunited with the brigade that bore his name, was planning a winter campaign. Union reports of the time asserted that Jackson had as many as 26,000 men. Jackson, on the other hand, supposed Union forces poised to invade the valley were around 40,000.Read More

Mason & Slidell to Remain Prisoners; Floyd Beaten, but Not Destroyed

November 16, 1861 (Saturday) Washington, DC was awash in the rumors that the Confederate envoys to Europe, James Mason and John Slidell, had been captured en route to England. Captain Charles Wilkes, who had seized and was delivering the diplomats to New York, had dispatched a messenger, Captain Albert Taylor, to meet with Naval SecretaryRead More