The Confederacy was hanging on by a thread and Union forces were approaching. The Confederate commander needed to be notified immediately to prepare the defense. Unfortunately for the Southerners trying to hold the vital crossroads known as Five Forks, their commander was nowhere to be found. And he wouldn’t be found when the attack came, leaving the Confederate force with no one in overall command.
On this day 150 years ago the Union Army of the Potomac was led like lambs to the slaughter at Fredericksburg, Virginia. The commanding general, Ambrose E. Burnside, had a good plan, but pontoon bridges that arrived late allowed Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to firmly establish their defensive position before the Union could attack. Believing he had to do something, Burnside went ahead with the assault. In today’s feature, we hear from one who was there.
Gettysburg is one of the most famous and most visited Civil War sites. As such, many places on the battlefield are household names to those interested in the war: Little Round Top, the Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den, and many others. But as visited and well-tramped as the field is, there are still relatively obscure and unvisited places, even to those well-versed in the battle. One of those locations is Coster Avenue.
On the evening of October 7, 1862, with battle looming, three Union commanders discussed the dangers of battle. Brig. Gen. William R. Terrill and Col. George P. Webster commanded brigades in Brig. Gen. James S. Jackson’s division. The three men determined that if soldiers would look at the doctrine of probabilities they would realize how slight was the chance of any particular person being killed and would never be frightened of battle. Mathematically speaking, they were pretty safe.
The bold young soldiers marched off in spectacular fanfare to fight for their country and defend their homes. There were banners and flags, handsome uniforms and precision marching. It would be a glorious affair.
Even after the stunning defeat for the Union at Manassas and the realization on both sides that the war wouldn’t be over quickly, and the shocking numbers of dead and wounded at the Battle of Shiloh, many people, especially in the North, had not truly realized the horror of war. Alexander Gardner changed that.
At the cavalry action east of Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 3, 1863, at least three Union officers could have been court martialled for disobeying orders. Each had received unequivocal directions from his superior officer, and each elected to use his own discretion, putting his professional reputation and military career on the line. Had they been put on the stand to testify in formal proceedings, each could have made the same plea: that the tactical situation had changed enough to invalidate their orders. Two of the three would have added that their chief, [Brig.] General [Alfred] Pleasonton who commanded [Maj. Gen. George G.] Meade’s Cavalry Corps, was simply unaware of the danger that threatened the Union right flank.
Col. John W. Lowe had something to prove. The leader of the 12th Ohio Infantry had been accused of cowardice at the fight at Scarey Creek in western Virginia in July 1861. Although nothing of the sort was mentioned in any official reports of the action, several Ohio newspapers published articles by anonymous authors making the accusations. Now, on September 10, 1861, Lowe would have a chance to mend his soiled reputation as the 12th went into action against Confederates encamped above Carnifax Ferry.
by Thomas J. Ryan
The birth of the Confederacy took place in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1861, and four years later one of the final nails in its coffin was hammered home in nearby Selma. It was there that Union cavalry commander Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson routed the forces of Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, and destroyed the most important ordnance-manufacturing center in the South. This crushing victory opened the route to Georgia, and led to the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
In late June 1863, Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans finally moved out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to attack the Confederate army of Gen. Braxton Bragg. At the Battle of Hoover’s Gap, Bragg’s men were unable to hold back the Federal advance. After the war, former Confederate soldiers returned to the area to gather their comrades who had been killed and buried in various locations around the area. The plan was to rebury them in one place: Beech Grove Cemetery.