The Civil War Connections Blog

So Fill to Me the Parting Glass

Hey there folks, and welcome back to the good ol’ blog! Today’s tidbit about me is: sadly, today is the last day of my internship with The Mariners’ Museum. I have worked not only on your favorite Connections blog, but also on several artifacts and the Library’s Port of Call blog. Although I shall return to ODU next Monday for the start of Fall Semester, I shall still try and come in every Thursday to work on this blog. My posts may be heavily reduced in number, but fear not: I will return!


So! What was happening in the American/maritime world 150 years ago today? Well for one thing, the Dakota War was raging in Minnesota. Remember Monday’s post where the Dakota raped and murdered over 400 settlers in their homes on the Minnesota frontier? Well, Dakota warbands were branching out from their reservation and attacking places all over the frontier, but Dakota warchief Little Crow had control of the main segment of their army. After the butchery of August 18th they focused on destroying the American military presence at Fort Ridgley. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Americans utilized a couple well-placed artillery pieces and bloodily repulsed the attackers.

This is a VERY rough map of the areas in question. Brown is roughly the reservation area, and the orange/yellow/red areas are areas of fighting. New Ulm and Fort Ridgley are in the thick red area near the reservation.


After suffering significant casualties for no gain, Little Crow shifted the focus of his attacks from the Fort to the nearby town of New Ulm. New Ulm was one of the largest towns in the area near the reservation, and many settler families had fled there to escape the horrendous butchery that had already been visited upon their neighbors. The citizens of New Ulm formed a makeshift defensive militia, and barricaded the town center. The Dakota attacked twice, burning a lot of the town that wasn’t inside the protected barricade, and even managed to briefly break through the defenses a few times. The defenders held on, though, and the Dakota eventually had to withdraw. Because of the Civil War, few Union troops were nearby to race to Minnesota’s defense: despite repulsing major attacks on two of their biggest local strongholds, 150 years ago today the American settlers were still very much at the Dakota’s mercy. Or lack thereof.

This picture is misleading because the settlers and Dakota are not wearing anywhere NEAR the kind of clothes they would have been wearing! Also, the Dakota had no affiliation with the Confederates. The violence is pretty accurate, though.


Meanwhile in Virginia, General Lee was still trying to circumvent General Pope’s army. General J.E.B. Stuart had just returned from a reconnaissance raid deep behind Pope’s front lines, and had received news that General McClellan’s 90,000 men were steadily streaming in to the Fredericksburg area. Lee knew that since he had the same number of men as Pope, he had to either retreat to a safe area OR do something drastic and defeat Pope immediately before McClellan could join Pope and create one ridiculously large army. After careful consideration, Lee chose the latter. He would try and sneak around the foothills of the Appalachians to the west, and pop out behind Pope at Manassas Junction! That would break Pope’s supply lines, and he would HAVE to attack Lee! 150 years ago today, Lee sent General Jackson with half the army on ahead to do just that.

By now you don’t even have to wonder if McClellan might move out and help Pope. You already know the answer is no.


Finally, 150 years ago today saw the birth of one of the most famous Confederate commerce raiders: the CSS Alabama. Built somewhat illegally in Britain, 150 years ago today this sloop was purchased and handed over to Confederates near the Azores Islands and given her name. (The British were technically neutral, but that didn’t stop them from selling ships to the Confederates and Enfield Rifled-Muskets to both sides.) Once in Confederate hands, she was loaded with cannons, ammo and her new crew and began to hunt down all the Union merchant ships she could get her metaphorical hands on.

This picture is also a metaphor. Also, please don’t smoke: it’s bad for you.


Well that’s all for today, folks. I’ll be back next week with more Civil War coverage, and in the meantime please enjoy the other posts on your favorite Connections blog! It has been an honor and a pleasure to write for you these past few months, and I am immensely grateful for all those at The Mariners’ Museum who made me feel welcome and gave me this wonderful opportunity. And so, I bid you all a very fond farewell: good night, and joy be with you all 🙂