Sunday, August 21

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Aug. 21

Homefront Help, Amphibious Assault

Tenn. Gov. Isham G. Harris, his state in the Confederacy, issues a call for the homefront women to prepare blankets, uniforms and other clothing for troops set to fight. Tennessee is a state of divided loyalties that mustered tens of thousands of Confederate troops but saw thousands also go to the Union side. Some of the bloodiest fighting in a single day is still far off, at Shiloh in April 1862. For now the war, in its early stages, sees light and scattered skirmishes for a time. Confederate soldiers, like Union counterparts, are adjusting to camp life. Yet there are reports of Confederate officers scrambling to procure large quantities of tobacco for those grumbling troops deprived of a smoking habit. Union Major Gen. Benjamin Butler sets sail Aug. 26, leading a naval force from Fort Monroe, Va., to stifle blockade runners and seize Hatteras Inlet, N.C. On Aug. 28, the naval ships begin bombarding Forts Clark and Hatteras, Union troops then wade ashore and both forts are captured from poorly trained defenders as the Confederates surrender. The Cape Hatteras lighthouse is damaged by artillery in the fighting. More significantly, these early Union victories strengthen the federal blockade of the South seacoast, squelching blockade runners off North Carolina. The expedition is hailed as the first amphibious assault in U.S. Navy history and the territory is the first seized by the Union that will be held for the rest of the war. There is rejoicing in the North, anger in the South. Butler is fast earning Confederate wrath as one unnamed Southerner's poem attests: " ... In every land, The Scoundrel is despised. In Butler's name the foulest wrongs and crimes are all comprised ... Ages unborn will tell in scorn of him as mankind's scourge."

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