Archive for the Civil War 150th Category

Battle of Wilson’s Creek

August 10, 2011 with 1 Comment and Posted in Civil War 150th by

Battle of Wilson’s Creek

The Battle of Wilson’s Creek began at 5:30 a.m. when Lyon launched a surprise attack on the Confederate camp. The Confederates were at first surprised, but under the cover of their artillery they were able to form on a ridge known as Bloody Hill. General Price, the Confederate commander, is able to resist a Union attack.

The other Union column, under Sigel’s command was delayed, and they did not attack until after Lyon. They were successful at first as well, but the Confederates rallied, and advanced to repel the attack. Sigel’s men, seeing the 3rd Louisiana Infantry advancing toward them, thought they were the 3rd Iowa Infantry, which wore gray as well. At a close distance they fired a volley and charged, destroying Sigel’s men and throwing them into rout. They fled, losing four cannon.

General Lyon

However, since the Union forces were separated by some distance, Lyon was not aware of this defeat. Price launched three attacks against the Union line, but he was unable to break it, once coming within 20 steps of the Northern troops. Lyon was shot as he was bringing up reinforcements. As Price was preparing for a fourth attack, news was brought to the Northern commander of Sigel’s defeat. Knowing they were greatly outnumbered and the assault was already a failure, a retreat was ordered, which was conducted in an orderly fashion. The Confederates, tired from their attacks and losses, did not pursue.

The losses were similar on both sides, 1,200 or 1,300. After the battle Price wished to continue his advance with the Missouri troops, but his allies from the neighboring states refused. So he continued North without them, while they left the state.

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Construction of the CSS Virginia

June 23, 2011 with No Comments and Posted in Civil War 150th by


When Virginia seceded, the Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia was abandoned by federal troops. The buildings and ships were ordered to be destroyed, but one ship sank before being destroyed. The USS Merrimack was a steam frigate that had been built in 1855. Although she had burned to the waterline and sank, the Confederacy was in such a great need of ships they raised her to attempt to reconstruct her.

Burning Merrimack

She was the only large ship with working engines available in the area and it was decided that she would be rebuilt as an ironclad. While ironclads were a new invention, this ship was not the first ironclad as many believe. Several had been built in Europe, and although it was recognized that they would become powerful forces in future wars, they had not seen much combat. Rumors were heard from the North that they were working on an iron covered ship as well, so they set to work on transforming the Merrimack into the CSS Virginia, 150 years ago today. This ship would later prove to the world exactly what ironclads were capable of.

Completed Virginia

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Thaddeus Lowe and the Balloons of the Civil War

June 18, 2011 with No Comments and Posted in Civil War 150th by

In June, 1861, Thaddeus Lowe demonstrated hot air balloons to Lincoln for use in the military. Lowe was from New Hampshire, and was the son of a cobbler. After attending a chemistry lecture he was so interested that the professor took him on as an assistant. After the professor retired, he traveled around the country giving his own lectures. He also began making hot-air balloons, and by 1860 he began a leading ballon builder in America. He planned to fly across the Atlantic ocean, and so he tried a test flight from Cinncinati to Washington, DC. His plans did not go very well however. He ended up in South Carolina, a few months after they seceded. He was arrested for a time, but finally was allowed to go home.
With the Civil War at hand, Lowe abandoned the idea of crossing the ocea. Instead he proposed to Abrahamin Lincoln that his ballons be used for aerial reconisance. He was sucessful, and after his performance at the Battle of Bull Run a ballon corps was formed with Lowe at the head. 

Mobile Inflation of the Balloons


Battle of Boonville

June 17, 2011 with 6 Comments and Posted in Civil War 150th by

Another small battle happened today in Missouri as well. General Lloyn, commander of the federal troops there, had set out for Jefferson Sity, the capital, with 1,500 men. The General Sterling Price, commander of the Missouri militia, retreated along with the governor. General Lyon moved up the river with his troops in steamers, to drive them out of Boonville, where they had taken up camp. They advanced on June 17th toward the camp, with skirmishers ready to guard against any attack. Coming upon the Confederate line, he deployed his artillery, and the shells quickly drove them back. The militia conducted an orderly retreat, skirmishing with the Federals as they went. They abandoned their camp, and moved into the Southern part of the state. Lyon captured 60 prissoners, two cannons, and supplies of rifles and equipment.

Harper’s Ferry Abandoned

June 15, 2011 with No Comments and Posted in Civil War 150th by

The burned bridge with Harper’s Ferry in the background

150 years ago yesterday Joseph E. Johnston of the Confederacy evacuated Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, retreating before Robert’s Patterson’s Army of the Shenandoah. In this theater of the war, there were four main armies. The Union had one army under Gen. McDowell stationed near Washington, and another under Gen. Patterson at the head of the Shenandoah Valley. Their plan was to invade Virginia. Gen. Johnston commanded the Confederate army facing Patterson, and Gen. Beuregard commanded the other army facing McDowell.

The same bridge pillars today

Harper’s Ferry was a very strategic point in the Civil War. It was at the junction of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, and it is at the head of the Shenadoah Valley. It changed hands eight times during the Civil War. It was abandoned by the Union troops and occupied by Johnston, and now he was retreating in the face of Patterson’s superior forces.

Tennesse Officially Secedes

June 8, 2011 with No Comments and Posted in Civil War 150th by

Isham Harris, governor of Tennessee


Today Tennesse ratified its secession from the United States. They had already passed it a few weeks ago, but it was not official until there was a popular vote. The vote was 104,913 to 47,238. While that is over a 2-to-1 majority, it still shows that there were large portions of the state that were pro-union. East Tennesse was mostly anti-secession, and West Tennesse was strongly pro-secession. The eastern counties attempted to secede from the state, as West Virginia ended up doing, but the state government sent troops to occupy the area. With this offical recogniztion of Tennesse’s secession, they became the last state to join the Confederacy. Tennesse was a site of many of the war’s largest battles in the east, and it furnished large numbers of troops for the South, and some for the North as well.