Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The War, On Christmas.

Happy Holidays. And I do mean holidays. Sticking an "s" on the end of "holiday" creates a plural form of the word, and that's really handy when one is referring to multiple holidays. And while I'm at it, Season's Greetings.

For our purposes, if you want to talk about "the war on Christmas," it means you're curious about what was happening on Christmas Day during the Civil War. For queries like that, I always turn to E. B. and Barbara Long, and their endlessly helpful
The Civil War Day by Day. Let's have a look-see:

December 25, 1861, Wednesday:
It was a busy Christmas Day in the White House. Mr. Lincoln and his cabinet met for lengthy discussions about the British demands for the release of Confederate commissioners Mason and Slidell. A decision was to be made the next day. The Lincolns at Christmas dinner entertained many guests.
The shooting did not stop for the holiday. The was skirmishing at Cherry, western Va., near Fort Frederick, Md.; a Union expedition operated near Danville, Mo. Off Cape Fear, N.C., a blockade-runner was taken.

December 25, 1862, Thursday:
Christmas Day brought no cessation of lesser action throughout the warring nations. Sherman's expedition operated near Milliken's Bend north of Vicksburg. Morgan's men in Kentucky fought at Green's Chapel and Bear Wallow. There was a skirmish near Warrenton, Va.; and a Federal reconnaissance from Martinsburg to Charles Town, western Va. Fighting occurred on the Wilson Creek Pike near Brentwood and at Prim's Blacksmith Shop on the Edmondson Pike, Tenn., as well as at Ripley, Miss. President and Mrs. Lincoln visited wounded soldiers in Washington hospitals.

December 25, 1863, Friday:
On the third Christmas Day of the war Federal gunboats operated in the Stono River, S.C., and Confederate field and siege guns sorely damaged U.S.S. Marblehead. There was fighting at Fort Brooke, Fla., and Federals destroyed Confederate salt works at Bear Inlet, N.C. Union cavalry under Averell reached Beverly, W. Va. In addition, Federals skirmished with Indians near Fort Gaston, Calif., and scouted from Vienna to Leesburg, Va., for three days. Shore batteries and U.S.S. Pawnee dueled at John's Island near Charleston.

December 25, 1864, a Sunday:
Nearly sixty warships continued the Federal bombardment of Fort Fisher, easily hitting the parapets and traverses of the sand-built fort. Meanwhile the Federal troops landed two miles north, captured a battery, and pushed close to the fort itself. However, as darkness came on, Confederate troops closed in from the north. Furthermore, assault was deemed too expensive in lives, so the troops were taken off (the last on Dec. 27), and the whole fleet returned to Hampton Roads, devoid of success but with light casualties. Fort Fisher still stood active at the entrance to the Cape Fear River. The Confederates realized this would not be the last attempt, but at the moment they had been victorious. For the Federals it was an ignominious failure, resulting in violent charges and countercharges between Butler and Porter, Butler and army officers, Butler and nearly everyone else.
Hood's Army of Tennessee reached Bainbridge on the Tennessee River. There were skirmishes at Richland Creek, and King's or Anthony's Hill or Devil's Gap, and White's Station, Tenn. Other action included an engagement at Verona, Miss., and a skirmish at Rocky Creek Church, Ga. Price's Confederate command, still retreating from Missouri, reached Laynesport, Ark.
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