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The Civil War Month by Month: Nov 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.

November 1861

This Month's Events

  • 1 November. Lincoln names George B. McClellan as U. S. Army commander-in-chief to suceed Winfield Scott, 75, who retired the day before.

  • 7 November. Combined Union navy and army forces capture Port Royal, South Carolina. The Navy's South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, commanded by Samuel F. Du Pont, will use the port as home base.

  • 8 November. Captain Charles Wilkes of the U. Navy stops a British mail ship, the Trent and takes off 2 passengers, James Mason and John Slidell. The pair are Confederate diplomats whose mission is to persuade the governments of Britain and France to recognize the Confederacy. (This has been a major Confederate goal since secession. Officials feel that British industry is dependent upon Southern cotton and will thus side with the South.) The "Trent Affair" becomes a major diplomatic crisis. [See next month.]

  • 11 November. The government buys an old factory in Salisbury, North Carolina to accomodate some 1,000 Union prisoners. According to the local paper, "Our citizens don't much like the idea of such accession to their population; nevertheless, they have assented to their part of the hardships and disagreeables of war, so bring them along. [See November 1864]

  • 12 November. The First North Carolina Volunteers, the Bethel Regiment, is mustered out after 6 months service. Most of the men promptly re-enlist in other companies. Four generals, 4 colonels, 10 lieutenant colonels, 8 majors, 12 adjutants, 57 captains, 37 first lieutenants and 43 second lieutenants will come from the members of this one regiment.

  • 18 November. David Schenck of Lincoln County takes his seat in the Secession Convention in Raleigh, replacing the earlier office holder, William Lander, who has resigned to run for the Confederate Congress, an election he wins without opposition.

  • 23 November. A new unit, the Louisiana Native Guards, joins the Louisiana militia. Its members are free blacks from New Orleans. They will fight for the Confederacy to defend their city in 1862, but eventually switch to the Union side on September 27, 1862 when they become the first African-American soldiers formally enlisted during the war.
  • This month, hearing some soldiers pass by singing "John Brown's Body", a friend asks Julia Ward Howe, "Why you don't you write more suitable words for that tune?" That night yet another column of troops singing the same song passes by her hotel room. When she gets up in the morning she finds a set of verses on the table -- she doesn't even remember writing them. The verses to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" will be published in the Atlantic Monthly in February; the magazine pays her $4.00 for them.
    Video source: performed by Gloria Jane

This Month's Fiction

Adult Fiction

Faded Coat of Blue, by Owen Parry, pub. 1999, 338 p. In a winning blend of history and mystery, Parry brings to life Civil War Washington, D.C., and environs through the eyes of an exceptional Union soldier. Welsh immigrant Captain Abel Jones, who is keeping accounts in the War Department in Washington in late 1861, seems a mild-mannered man who'll follow orders. General McClellan personally enlists him to investigate the highly publicized murder of Anthony Fowler, a shining star of an officer and an ardent abolitionist. But Jones is more seasoned than he seems, having learned the horror of war in bloody hand-to-hand combat in India before being crippled at Bull Run. Suspicion for the murder rests first with the rebels, then with an industrialist making handsome profits from the war; but answers are to be found closer to home, and Jones turns out to be more tenacious and incorruptible than his seniors might have imagined.

Children's Fiction

This Month's Non-Fiction

Adult Nonfiction

Children's Nonfiction

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