The Civil War Day by Day
An Almanac, 1861-1865
by E. B. Long
with Barbara Long

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

foreword by Bruce Catton

Doubleday, New York; 1971

1135 pages; 8 maps

May 2009

The Civil War was more than just the sum of what happened militarily in Virginia and along the rivers of the West, even adding what went on in Washington and Richmond. It was all that transpired from the coast of France to the waters of Japan, from Indian fighting in California and in the Pacific Northwest to bank robbery in Vermont and raids off the coast of Maine. Military events alone numbered some 10,455 ...

A key work for Civil War buffs

E. B. Long's The Civil War Day by Day is a key work for Civil War scholars as well as buffs.

The American Civil War did not consist of a campaign or two in a dry season, or a few battles along a short mutual frontier. It was a deep and complex war, complicated considerably by the recent technologies of railway and telegraph. In fact, the addition of fast movement by railroad, and even quicker telegraphic transmission of military intelligence, orders, and news, really makes it important that we keep in mind the whole area of the war. Abraham Lincoln spent much time in the telegraph office, staying current. Although he, as well as we, may wish to concentrate on the epic battles near the Potomac and the Mississippi Rivers, we need to keep in mind what is happening elsewhere.

Of course this is a tremendous amount of information, and even if we could hold clear and ordered in our minds the entire 133 volumes of the War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, still Long's monumental narrative, arranged precisely by date, is very useful.

The Civil War historian Bruce Catton in his Foreword describes E. B. Long's accomplishment:

This almanac grew out of two things — Professor Long's years of work as director of research for The Centennial History of the Civil War, and his lifelong study of the war both as an amateur and as a professional. For the Centennial History alone, Professor Long compiled the unimaginable total of nine million words of notes. ... It is no exaggeration whatever to say that this man knows more facts about the Civil War than any other man who ever lived.

There also are several short but fascinating appendices on the sizes and composition of the armies, and the contending populations and economies. There is a very large bibliography, and an index of places and dates so we can see when actions happened at any given location.

Withal, The Civil War Day by Day is a very readable book as well as a fine reference to the chronology.

Following is a pair of representative days in the middle of this wide and long war. Lincoln's comment (in the second paragraph of the first selection below) refers to McClellan's reluctance to attack the Confederate army which his own army greatly outnumbered.

1862. October 3, Friday
  Battle of Corinth, Mississippi.

In midmorning Confederates under Earl Van Dorn and Sterling Price drove in against Rosecrans' Federals from northwest of Corinth, Miss. After severe fighting and piecemeal assaults, the Federals were driven into strong defensive redoubts closer to the city. By night the issue was still in doubt. Grant, at Jackson, Tenn., in over-all command of the area, had not been sure where the combined Confederate attack would be made. Van Dorn was gambling that victory at Corinth would force the Federals in west Tennessee to draw back to Kentucky and the Ohio River.

Reviews and conferences continued at McClellan's Headquarters in Maryland between the President and his general. Lincoln commented, on looking over the camps, "This is General McClellan's bodyguard."

Fighting was confined, outside of Corinth, to skirmishes on the Blackwater and near Zuni, Va.; at La Fayette Landing, Tenn.; Cedar Church, near Shepherdsville, Ky.; and Jollification, Mo. A Federal naval expedition attacked the defenses of Galveston, Tex.

The Confederate cruiser Alabama took three more prizes. Cries of anguish from Yankee shippers were soon to sound louder than ever. A battered force of Federals who had evacuated Cumberland Gap arrived at Greenupsburg, Ky., after a sixteen days' march under harsh conditions and with much skirmishing.

1862. October 4, Saturday
  Battle of Corinth, Mississippi, second day.

At Corinth, Miss., the Confederates of Gen. Van Dorn renewed their heavy attacks against the well-posted Federals of Rosecrans. Both the assaults and Union counterattacks were costly, particularly at Battery Robinette, with little decided. Eventually repulsed, the Confederates withdrew in early afternoon to Chewalla, ten miles northwest from Corinth. More Federals came in after the battle ended, but there was no pursuit until Oct. 5. The figures: Union, 355 killed, 1841 wounded, and 324 missing for 2520 out of about 23,000 effectives; Confederates, 473 killed, 1997 wounded, and 1763 missing for total of 4233 out of probably 22,000 total troops. The Southerners succeeded in taking the pressure off Bragg in Kentucky by preventing reinforcements to Buell, but they failed to capture the important rail and road center of Corinth, or to wreck Rosecrans' force and thus make Grant pull back toward the Ohio.

At the Kentucky state capital of Frankfort, Richard Hawes was inaugurated Confederate governor in ceremonies attended by Bragg and other officers. Meanwhile, there was skirmishing elsewhere in the state near Bardstown, Clay Village, and on the Bardstown Pike. Other fighting took place at Newtonia, Granby, and in Monroe County, Mo.; near Middleton, Tenn.; Donaldsonville, La.; and at Conrad's Ferry, Va. There was a Federal reconnaissance from Loudon Heights to Hillsborough in Virginia Oct 4-6.

Mr. Lincoln remained with Gen. McClellan visiting camps, hospitals, and battlefields, leaving in the afternoon for Washington.


© 2009 Robert Wilfred Franson

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