By Leva levitra
Friday May 24, 2013 | May 2013 Issue
Siege of Yorktown
As we continue to follow the American Civil War, of War Between the States, April 1862 finds Union Major General George McClellan is leading his forces on the Peninsula Campaign into Yorktown, Virginia. McClellan encountered Mayor General John Magruder’s small Confederate force. McClellan suspended his march up the Peninsula toward Richmond and settled in for siege operations. On April 5th, the IV Corps of the Union made contact with the Confederate defensive works at Lee’s Mill, and area that McClellan expected to move through without resistance. Magruder’s movement of troops back and forth convinced the Union forces that his works were strongly held. Reconnaissance indicated the strength of the confederate fortifications, and McClelland ordered the construction of siege fortifications and brought his heavy siege guns to the front. In the meantime General Joseph Johnston brought reinforcements for Magruder. On April 16, Union forces probed a weakness in the confederate line at Lee’s Mill or Dam No. 1, resulting in about 309 casualties. The Federals failed to exploit the initial success of this attack. This lost opportunity held up McClellan for another two weeks while he tried to convince the U.S. Navy to bypass the Confederates’ big guns at Yorktown and Gloucester Point and ascend the York River to West Point and outflank the Warwick Line. McClellan planed a massive bombardment for dawn on May 5, but the Confederate army slipped away during the night of May 3 toward Williamsburg. The battle took place near the site of the 1781 siege of Yorktown, the final battle of the American Revolutionary War in the east.
Battle of Shiloh
The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, was a major battle in the western Theater of the Civil War, fought April 6-7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. As a result of the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson (see Old Town Crier February issue), Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, the commander in he area, was forced to fall back, giving up Kentucky and much of West and Middle Tennessee. He chose Corinth, Mississippi, a major transportation center, as the staging area for an offensive against Major General Ulysses Grant and his Army of the Tennessee before the Army of the Ohio, under Major General Don Carlos Buell, could join it. The confederates were entrenched and it took grant, with about 40,000 men, some time to mount a southern offensive along the Tennessee River toward Pittsburg Landing. Johnston originally planned to attack Grant on April 4, but delays postponed it until the 6th. Attacking the Union troops on the morning of the 6th, the Confederates surprised them, routing many. Some of the Federal troops made determined stands and by afternoon they had established a battle line at the sunken road, known as the “Hornets Nest.” Repeated rebel attacks failed to defeat the Hornets Nest, but massed artillery helped to turn the tide as the Confederates surrounded the union troops and captured, killed, or wounded most. General Johnston was killed during the first day of fighting, and Beauregard, his second in command, decided against assaulting the final Union position that night.
Reinforcements from General Buell and from Grant’s own army arrived in the evening and turned the tide the next morning, when the Union commanders launched a counterattack along he entire line. The confederates were forced to retreat from the bloodiest battle in United States history up to that time, ending their hopes that they could block the Union advance into northern Mississippi.
Fort Pulaski, Georgia
Fort Pulaski, built by the U.S. Army before the war, is located near the mouth of the Savannah River, blocking upriver access to Savannah. Fortifications such as Pulaski, called third system forts, were considered invincible, but the new technology of rifled artillery changed that. On February 19, Brigadier General Thomas W. Sherman ordered Captain Quincy Gillmore to take charge of the investment force and begin the bombardment and capture of the fort. Gillmore placed artillery on the mainland southeast of the fort and began the bombardment on April 10 after Colonel Charles Olmstead refused to surrender the fort. Within hours Gillmore’s rifled artillery had breached the southeast wall of the fort. Some of his shells began to damage the traverse shielding the magazine in the northwest corner. Realizing that if the magazine was hit the fort would be seriously damaged and the garrison would suffer severe casualties. At 2 p.m. on April 11 Olmstead surrendered.
Fort Jackson / Fort St. Philip, Louisiana
The early Union plans had called for the division of he confederacy by seizing control of the Mississippi River. One of the first steps was to enter the mouth of the Mississippi, ascend to New Orleans and capture the city and closing off the entrance to confederate ships. In mid-January 1862, Flag Officer David Farragut undertook this endeavor with his West Gulf Blockading Squadron. The way was soon open except for two forts, Jackson and St. Phillip, above the Head of the Passes, approximately seventy miles below New Orleans. In additions to the forts and their armament, the
Confederates had placed obstructions in the river and a number of ships, including two ironclads, to assist in the defense of New Orleans. On April 8 Farragut assembled 24 of his vessels and Commander David Porter’s 19 mortar schooners near the Head of the Passes. Starting on the 16th and continuing for seven days, the mortar schooners bombarded fort Jackson but failed to silence its guns. Some of Farragut’s gunboats forced their way through the obstructions on the night of the 22nd. On the morning of the 24th, Farrgut sent his ships north to pass the forts and head for New Orleans. Although the Rebels attempted to stop the Union ships, most of the force successfully passed the forts and continued on to New Orleans, where Farragut accepted the city’s surrender. With the loss of the forts, nothing could stop the Union forces and the fall of New Orleans was a given. Cut off and surrounded, the garrisons of the two forts surrendered on the 28th.
The Battle of South Mills, North Carolina
In early April word reached Union army General Ambrose Burnside, who had established a position in New Bern, that Confederates were building ironclads in Norfolk and intended to bring them south through the dismal Swamp and Currituck Canals. General Burnside ordered General Jesse Reno to move troops to South Mills and blow up the locks there, then proceed to the Currituck Canal and destroy its banks. On the morning of April 19, Reno marched north on the road to South Mills. At the crossroads a few miles below South Mills, troops of Colonel Ambrose Wright’s command delayed the force of 3,000 Federals until dark. On April 19th, for five hours, the 750 rebel defenders withstood all Union assaults until their artillery commander, Captain McComas, was killed. Running low on ammunition and to avoid being flanked, Wright withdrew his troops to a new position about a mile away. Unaccustomed to the oppressive heat, the Union forces did not pursue and, in fact, withdrew back to their transports near Elizabeth City. Despite claims to the contrary, the Battle of South Mills was a failure for Federal troops because their mission was not accomplished, even though the smaller Confederate army retreated.
Following the Union victory at Shiloh, the Union armies under Major General Henry Halleck advanced on the vital rail center of Corinth. By May 25, after moving 5 miles in 3 weeks, Halleck was in position to lay siege to the town. The preliminary bombardment began and Union forces maneuvered for position. On the evening of May 29-30, Confederate commander general P.G.T. Beauregard evacuated Corinth, withdrawing to Tupelo. The Federals had consolidated their position in northern Mississippi.
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