As I continue work on my thesis, I thought I would take a break to mention some of the important anniversaries relating to the Civil War this week. Today, March 4 is the anniversary of Lincoln’s first inauguration. This anniversary of the inauguration is even more important given the upcoming celebrations honoring Lincoln’s 200th birthday.
March 1862 also involved two important events in Civil War history, in addition to the preparations for the coming Battle of Shiloh. On March 8, Lincoln would relieve McClellan from overall command of Union forces. McClellan would be placed in command of the Army of the Potomac and was ordered to attack Richmond, which marked the beginning of the Peninsular Campaign. In addition, the first major naval engagement of the war occurred on March 9. This battle rendered all other fleets in the world obsolete. The battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimac) was one of the only major naval engagements between ironclad vessels. History tells us that the two ships fought to a draw and that the Virginia was destroyed. March is also significant for the passage of the Conscription Act in 1863, which made men from 20-45 eligible for military service and led to the infamous New York Draft Riots in New York City.
As shown, early March contains many important anniversaries of important Civil War events. From the beginning of a new administration to the beginning of a major campaign, to a major engagement between state of the art vessels, this week and month is one to remember these events and to honor the memory of the men and women associated with them.