Sunday, September 11

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Sept. 11

Lincoln blocks a general, Battle of Lexington

President Abraham Lincoln reins in Union Major Gen. John Fremont, who recently declared martial law in Missouri and also ordered the state's slaves to be emancipated. Lincoln disregards aides who urged that Fremont be sacked. Instead he appoints another general to work alongside Fremont and orders Fremont on Sept. 11 to rescind the order involving the slaves of Missouri secessionists. Lincoln's letter, distributed by The Associated Press, notes Fremont insisted the president issue "an open order" modifying his martial law plan, to which Lincoln responds: "I very cheerfully do." The president adds his signature: "Your obedient servant, A. Lincoln." Outside Washington, the northern Virginia countryside is largely quiet despite jitters over Confederate pickets causing some trouble. "The rebels who moved in force from Fairfax Court-house fell back again, after burning a few houses," an AP dispatch noted. Other dispatches report Union Maj. Gen. George McClellan has barred his own pickets from firing on the enemy unless the Confederates fire first or attack. Lincoln's week includes a Washington VIP review of a sharpshooter regiment also witnesses by McCellan, other officers, government officials and a "large number of ladies and gentlemen." AP reports: "Something like four hundred shots were fired at a distance of 630 yards" from heavy rifles. But it adds, "The firing was nothing extraordinary, only one-fourth of the shots hitting the target." More fighting erupts in Missouri. On Sept 15, 1861, some 20,000 secessionist troops move against a badly outnumbered Union garrison of about 3,000 troops on bluffs commanding the Missouri River at Lexington. The Battle of Lexington, Missouri, one of the two largest in the West, is just opening and will rage well into the coming week.

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