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A Nation Divided.  The Civil War in contemporary prints
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1862: April

[ Peninsula Campaign | Battle of Shiloh | Capture of Island No. 10 | Fall of Fort Pulaski | Fall of Fort Macon | Battle of New Orleans ]


Things continued to go well for the Union, with a number of gains, including the capture of the largest city in the Confederacy. However, the shocking loss of life at the largest battle of the war so far gave sad testimony to the fact that the war would not end quickly and only after great carnage. Lincoln got Congress to authorize aid to any states that would begin to abolish slavery (none accepted) and then on April 16th, he freed all slaves in the District of Columbia. Faced with a number of serious losses, the Confederacy was forced to start conscription, the first military draft in the history of North America. One of the best generals of the war was killed, another fell from grace, and two new heroes of the North appeared.

Peninsula Campaign

At the beginning of April, McClellan's long-anticipated Peninsula Campaign got underway. On April 4, his troops marched north towards the Confederate position at Yorktown, which was put under siege on April 5. This despite McClellan's overwhelming numerical superiority, for he was deceived into believing the Confederates were much stronger than they were. This allowed Gen. Joseph Johnston to transfer troops from Northern Virginia to protect against the Federal thrust at Richmond from the south. McClellan's advance was stalled for the rest of the month.

Battle of Shiloh: April 6-7

Prang Shiloh
The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, was the first huge Civil War battle. General Albert Sidney Johnston, with General P.G.T. Beauregard, attacked Grant's unsuspecting troops at Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River on April 6th. One of the first positions they reached was that of Sherman's division, camped near Shiloh Chapel. The Southerners achieved initial success, pushing the Union army back towards the river. However, Johnston was killed and Beauregard decided not to push his offensive as the day came to a close. Meanwhile, Union reinforcements arrived at the end of the day and the next day Grant was able to regroup and drive back the Confederates, but only after a huge loss of life.

Battle of Shiloh
This was the first truly enormous battle of the war, in terms of participants and casualties. About 100,000 soldiers participated, the majority never having been in combat before. 23,746 men were killed, wounded, or missing, a figure exceeding the total casualties of all previous American wars combined. This showed both sides that the war would not be won easily.

The Confederates were forced to withdraw to Corinth, and initially the battle was greeted in the North as a glorious victory. However, once the extent of the casualties became apparent, the public turned on Grant, who was replaced by his superior General Halleck. Little did the public realize that this was but the first of many more battles of this magnitude to follow.

Capture of Island No. 10: April 7

Bombardment of Island No 10
General John Pope, after taking New Madrid, was determined to take Island 10, the only Confederate strong-hold left on that part of the Mississippi River. However, his army was on the western side of the river and Pope needed protection for his troop transports so he could cross to the eastern side and so be able to attack Island 10. Commodore Andrew Foote, on the upstream side of the island, was reluctant to try to run his ships by the heavily gunned Confederate position. Finally, Captain Walke volunteered to try to run the gauntlet at night in his ship the Carondelet, which he did on April 4th; a second iron clad followed two night later and Pope had his protection to ferry his troops to the opposite shore. Almost immediately, the Confederates on Island 10 surrendered, leading to the capture of thousands of soldiers and much ordnance and ammunition. This gave the Union control of the Mississippi as far south as Memphis. This Federal victory also made John Pope a new hero in the North.

Fall of Fort Pulaski: April 10-11

Fall of Fort Pulaski
The fall of Fort Pulaski, near Savannah, was to the Union forces under Quincy Gillmore after heavy bombardment. This strengthens the Union blockade of Southern ports. Gillmore's use of rifled cannon announced the effective end the use of palisaded forts world-wide.

Fall of Fort Macon: April 25

Bombardment of Fort Macon
After a month-long siege of Fort Macon, near Beaufort, General John C. Parke begins an intense bombardment. This forces the fort's commander, Colonel Moses White, to surrender to the Union forces, strengthening the Federal position in North Carolina.

Battle of New Orleans: April 24-29

Battle of New Orleans
The Battle of New Orelans really took place down river. On April 24th, after a furious bombardment of the Confederate Forts Jackson and St. Philip, Captain David Farragut leads his fleet safely past the only Confederate defenses protecting the lower Mississippi River. Farragut arrived at lightly defended New Orleans on the 25th, demanding that the city surrender. The local government and citizens tried to hold out, but finally on April 29th, Farragut was able to raise the stars and stripes over the custom house and remove the Louisiana flag from city hall. The city was completely secured when General Butler's army arrived on May 1st, and the largest city in the Confederacy was from thenceforth under Union control.

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