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The Civil War Month by Month: Aug 1861

CW - 150

Civil War 150th anniversary

The Civil War 150th Anniversary

Interesting facts, links, and suggested books for each month of the Civil War.

August 1861

This Month's Events

    Matthew Brady photo View of Balloon Ascension
  • 3 August. Off the coast of Virginia John LaMountain, a Union naval officer, ascends in a tethered balloon from the Fanny to look at Confederate controlled Hampton Roads. It is the first balloon ascent from a ship in naval history. The same "aeronaut" also makes the first night aerial reconaissance; by counting tent lights he makes an estimate of enemy strength. This brings about the first "blackout", ordered by General Beauregard to keep the balloons from gathering information.

  • 5 August. To encourage enlistments the pay of a private in the U. S. Army is raised from $11.00 to $13.00. Also flogging is abolished as a military punishment.

  • 10 August. Union General Nathaniel Lyon is killed during the Battle of Wilson's Creek in Missouri, a Confederate victory.

  • 15 August. In New York a play, Bull Run by Charles Gayler, opens today. Author of over 100 plays, Gayler had this on the stage less than a month after the battle and another play Hatteras Inlet ready within 3 months. A reference source describes his plays as "probably [not] performable today."

  • 20 August. General George McClellan assumes command of the Union Army of the Potomac.

  • 23 August. James Stone enlists in the 1st Fight Artillery of Ohio. James is an escaped slave, but so light-skinned that he passes for white and so gets by the rule that African-Americans can not join the Army. He is believed to be the first African-American Civil War enlistee. James will die in 1862.

  • 28-29 August. Forts Hatteras and Clark on Hatteras Inlet are captured. The Federal occupation of the Outer Banks begins.

  • 30 August. John C. Fremont, commander of the Union's Western Department, [see last month] on his own initiative declares martial law in Missouri and frees slaves of Missouri Confederates. Lincoln who is trying to avoid alienating the border states, first asks him to modify the order, and then, when Fremont refuses, will revoke the proclamation altogether and remove Fremont from his command.

  • 31 August. The Confederate Congress appoints 5 brigadier generals: Samuel Cooper, Albert Sidney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, and Pierre Beauregard. Joseph E. Johnston, who had been the highest-ranking officer in the U. S. Army to resign his commission and join the Confederate army, is very hurt by this ranking of 3 other generals above him and writes an angry letter to Jefferson Davis. This is the start of a feud which will involve many others in both the civil and military branches and weaken the Confederacy.

This Month's Fiction

Adult Fiction

Young Adult Fiction

Children's Fiction

This Month's Non-Fiction

Adult Nonfiction

Children's Nonfiction

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