Friday, March 14, 2008

ON THIS DAY: Friday, March 14, 1862

Confederates Under Pressure

In North Carolina, Brig. Gen. Ambrose Burnside is looking good, belying the flub-a-dub reputation he will develop later. Leading 11,000 Union men over muddy roads and through the rain, he drives back 4,000 Confederates and captures the historic community of New Bern, North Carolina. New Bern is about 240 miles from the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, the Union military’s destination of choice. Caught between potential threats from Burnside and McClellan (now organizing his Peninsular Campaign), is Richmond doomed?

Doom looms even larger for a Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, 50 miles downstream from the abandoned Rebel fortress at Columbus, Kentucky, Here, at New Madrid, Missouri, and nearby Island No. 10, Confederates have installed 7,000 soldiers and numerous artillery pieces in an effort to block river traffic and stall the Union military’s drive south.

Yesterday, siege guns brought up by Union Brig. Gen. John Pope pounded the daylights out of the Confederates attempting to hold New Madrid. During the night the Confederates abandoned New Madrid, fleeing to Island No. 10, and this morning Pope’s troops march into the empty town. Now Pope must figure out how to take island No. 10.

IT’S COMING SOONER THAN YOU THINK: April 12, 2011—less than 3½ years from now!—will be the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1861, April 12 was the day Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

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