160 Years Ago Today: Engagement at Arlington Mills

A grist mill on Four Mile Run in Arlington County, Virginia was a prominent landmark along the Columbia Turnpike, approximately four miles southwest of Long Bridge over the Potomac River and 12 miles east of Fairfax Court House. In the early morning hours of Saturday, June 1, 1861, Union and Confederate forces clashed around the…

160 Years Ago Today: First Battle of Fairfax Court House

The First Battle of Fairfax Court House was fought on Saturday, June 1, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Lt. Charles H. Tompkins and Confederate forces commanded by Capt. John Q. Marr at Fairfax Court House, Virginia during the American Civil War. This small and inconclusive battle was the first land engagement of the war…

160 Years Ago Today: Grafton Occupied by Union Troops

For 36 days following adoption of a secession ordinance in Richmond, the federal government had respected Virginia's sovereignty, despite the seizing of federal property and facilities by secessionists and hostile exchanges of fire between U.S. Navy ships and Virginia shore batteries. That changed on May 23, 1861, when Virginia voters ratified secession by a large…

160 Years Ago: Engagement at Aquia Creek

By the end of May, there was no longer any doubt as to which side Virginia would take in the American Civil War. On May 23rd, Virginia voters ratified secession by a large majority, and the next day, Union troops crossed the Potomac River and seized Arlington Heights and Alexandria, Virginia. Several small fleets of…

Illustration of Robert Patterson

On paper, Irish-born Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson (1792-1881) was the perfect person to lead the Department of Pennsylvania in 1861. He served in the Pennsylvania militia during the War of 1812, led troops to suppress two separate riots in Philadelphia, and fought in the Mexican War as a high-ranking officer. He owned several cotton mills,…

160 Years Ago Today: Alexandria Occupied; Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth Killed

Over the previous weeks, a tense standoff between federal forces and the Commonwealth of Virginia had threatened to spill over into all out war. On April 17, 1861, delegates at the Virginia Secession Convention in Richmond passed an ordinance of secession, pending the results of a popular referendum to be held on May 23rd. U.S.…

160 Years Ago Today: Virginia Voters Ratify Secession

Thursday, May 23, 1861, was a solemn day throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was the day its white, male citizens over the age of 21 would decide whether to ratify an Ordinance of Secession adopted in Richmond on April 17th. Though U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and many throughout the North viewed secession as illegal,…

160 Years Ago Today: Engagement at Sewell’s Point

160 years ago, May 19, 1861, a popular referendum to decide whether the Commonwealth of Virginia would secede from the United States was still four days away. Never-the-less, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln had extended the naval blockade of the seven original Confederate States to include the ports of Virginia and North Carolina. On May 6th,…

160 Years Ago: The First Wheeling Convention

By mid-May 1861, the secession crisis in Virginia had reached a boiling point. In response to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln calling for a volunteer army to suppress the rebellion in the Deep South, on April 17th delegates at the Virginia Secession Convention in Richmond passed an ordinance of secession, pending the results of a popular…

Added Nine Stub Pages for Ohio Regiments

Lately I've been working on filling out the order of battle for George McClellan's Army of the West, and I added stub pages for nine Ohio regiments from his five brigades. Since McClellan oversaw the Department of Ohio, it makes sense that volunteers from Ohio would make up the bulk of his troops. The State…