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

The Eugenia Smith Affair?

December 7, 1861 (Saturday) The USS Santiago de Cuba, a wooden, ten-gun, side-wheel steamer, had left Havana on November 29, in pursuit of the British ship Eugenia Smith. Under the command of Daniel Ridgeley, the Santiago had been patrolling the waters between Southern ports and Cuba. By the end of November, Ridgeley and his shipRead More

Bridge Burners Executed; England Gives the US a Week to Reply; Rebels Advancing in Missouri

November 30, 1861 (Saturday) “Two insurgents have to-day been tried for bridge-burning, found guilty and hanged.” -Col. Danville Leadbetter to Confederate Secretary of War Judah Benjamin.1 On the same day that Secretary Benjamin gave the order that those who were found guilty of burning bridges in Eastern Tennessee must be put to death, Col. Leadbetter,Read 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

The “Grand and Sublime” Duel Continues; Rebels Moving North in Missouri?

November 23, 1861 (Saturday) The Union guns at Fort Pickens, barely cooled from the previous day’s fighting, sounded again this morning. Col. Harvey Brown and his Federal force had already done much damage to Fort McRee and wished to drive the Rebels from their fortifications at Pensacola, Florida. The US Naval ship Niagara stood inRead More

A “Grand and Sublime” Duel at Fort Pickens

November 22, 1861 (Friday) It had been a month and a half since the Rebel surprise attack on Santa Rosa Island and Fort Pickens, near Pensacola, Florida. Since then, an uneasy peace had settled between the Union’s Fort Pickens and the Rebel Fort McRee, each on opposite sides of the channel, nearly a mile andRead More

The Capture of Mason and Slidell; Bridges Burned in East Tennessee

November 8, 1861 (Friday) Charles Wilkes, Captain of the USS San Jacinto, had been taking a keen interest in two Confederate envoys to Europe who had been biding their time in Havana. James Mason and John Slidell had run the Union blockade from Charleson in mid-October and made it to Cuba a few days later.Read More

Easy Victory at Port Royal; Grant Proves Himself at Belmont

November 7, 1861 (Thursday) The crews of the Union fleet off Port Royal, South Carolina, prepared their ships for battle. The weather that had prevented the attack against Forts Beauregard and Walker the previous day had lifted and the sun shown brilliantly over the calm water as the fleet formed for attack. They planned toRead More

Determined to Fight, Grant May Have Told Some Lies

November 6, 1861 (Wednesday) According to General Ulysses S. Grant, the previous day, he had received a dispatch from headquarters in St. Louis that Rebels under General Leonidas Polk near Columbus, Kentucky were sending reinforcements to the Missouri State Guard in the southwestern part of Missouri. Grant was ordered to immediately make a demonstration againstRead More

Union Fleet off of Port Royal, SC! Can R.E. Lee Visit His Wife and Save the Port?

November 5, 1861 (Tuesday) As the sun lit up the Atlantic sky over Port Royal, South Carolina, the masts of the Union Naval fleet under Flag Officer Du Pont appeared like a forest growing out of the sea. Two Rebel forts, Beauregard and Walker, guarded the inlet. The Union wanted a port on the SouthernRead More