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September 11, 2014

This Week In The Civil War: August 31 Through September 14

This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Aug. 31: The Fall of Atlanta.

The Confederacy’s prized Southern city of Atlanta fell to Union Maj. Gen William T. Sherman and his troops 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. Sherman slashed the supply lines of rival Confederate commanders, hitting at points south of the Georgia city. Confederate attempts to drive back the Union invaders stumbled and the Confederate forces were forced to retreat from Atlanta on Sept. 1, 1864. Sherman’s army began occupying the city the following day. ``From Sherman’s Army, GLORIOUS NEWS, Atlanta has Fallen’’ read one of the early headlines dated Sept. 3, 1864, informing the North, in the Cleveland (Ohio) Leader. ``General Sherman is reported to have entered Atlanta at nine o’clock yesterday morning,’’ the newspaper added. ``The movement by which he entered the place must have been a very bold one.’’ It reported Sherman’s forces once heavily arrayed on the northwest side of Atlanta had relocated in large numbers to the southwest side of the city to battle the Confederates there and cut off vital supply lines needed by the rebel army.

Another news dispatch dated Sept. 2, 1864, said ``General Sherman’s advanced Atlanta this morning at 11 o’clock. ``The whole Federal force will enter today.’’ The Evening Star of Washington, D.C., said the Confederate defenders had been driven off and the enemy was set to fleeing at night.

This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Sept. 7: Atlanta’s Capture: morale boost for the North.

The Union’s capture of Atlanta, one of the most important of Southern cities, immediately buoyed President Abraham Lincoln’s re-election prospects—150 years ago in the Civil War. Lincoln would ultimately be returned to office by voters with an ample victory. A North wearied by long years of grinding warfare suddenly had major news to rejoice over, even as the Confederacy and many in the South despaired.

From the fall of Atlanta until the end of the war would just be a matter of months of heavy fighting to follow.  Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, days after his forces had entered the city, ordered its civilians to evacuate. Meanwhile, newspapers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer in the North reported Sherman’s forces were still ``in pursuit’’ of the fleeing Confederates.

The Associated Press reported from Virginia on Sept. 9, 1864, that some Confederate forces in their defense works there had begun cheering after hearing a false rumor spread that Atlanta had been retaken.’’

The AP report said those overly optimistic and mistaken Southern soldiers ``were very jubilant for a time, indulging in loud cheering.’’

This Week in The Civil War for Sunday, Sept. 14: Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia.

Confederate units often had ranged freely up and down the Shenandoah Valley in mountainous areas of Virginia but fought a bruising fight against Union forces at Winchester in that state 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. Both the Union forces under Philip Sheridan and Confederates led by Jubal A. Early saw high casualties in the Third Battle of Winchester, which was waged on Sept. 19, 1864.

The fighting that led to thousands of casualties on both sides was fierce. It resulted in a Union victory and marked the beginning of the decline of the Confederate threat along the strategic corridor running from south to north.

Elsewhere in Virginia, The Associated Press reported in a dispatch dated Sept. 14, 1864 that Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army was reportedly being reinforced. ``It is stated by deserters that Lee’s army has been strengthened by reinforcements from various points and by large numbers of conscripts.’’ AP also reported that shelling continued around Petersburg, Va., this week 150 years ago in the civil war: ``The Confederates have kept up a brisk artillery firing ... The result of is that five or six Federal soldiers are brought into the hospital every day.’’

Canada Locates One Of Two Lost Explorer Ships From 1840s

By ROB GILLIES

Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) One of two British explorer ships that vanished in the Arctic nearly 170 years ago during an expedition to find the fabled Northwest Passage has been found, Canada’s prime minister announced Tuesday in a discovery that could unlock one of history’s biggest mysteries and swell Canadian pride.

Last seen in the 1840s while under the command of Sir John Franklin, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror have long been among the most sought-after prizes in marine archaeology and the subject of songs, poems and novels.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office said the well-preserved wreck of one of the vessels was found Sunday 11 meters (yards) below the surface with the help of a remotely operated underwater vehicle.

Harper said that it is unclear which ship was found, but that sonar images yielded enough information to confirm it is one of the pair.

``This is truly a historic moment for Canada,’’ said Harper, who was beaming, uncharacteristically. ``This has been a great Canadian story and mystery and the subject of scientists, historians, writers and singers, so I think we really have an important day in mapping the history of our country.’’Harper said the discovery would shed light on what happened to Franklin’s crew.

Woodcut image of the ships at the glaciers

Franklin and 128 hand-picked officers and men had set out in 1846 to find the Northwest Passage, the long-sought shortcut to Asia that supposedly ran from the Atlantic to the Pacific by way of the harsh, ice-choked Arctic.

Historians believe that the ships were lost in 1848 after they became locked in the ice near King William Island and that the crews abandoned them in a hopeless bid to reach safety. Inuit lore tells of ``white men who were starving’’ as late as the winter of 1850 on the Royal Geographical Society Island.

Dozens of searches by the British and Americans in the 1800s failed to locate the wrecks, and some of those expeditions ended in tragedy, too. But they opened up parts of the Canadian Arctic to discovery and ultimately spied a Northwest Passage, though it was inhospitable to shipping because of ice and treacherous weather.

Canada announced in 2008 that it would look for the ships, and Harper’s government has poured millions into the venture, with the prime minister himself taking part in the search. Harper’s government made the project a top priority as it looked to assert Canada’s sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, where melting Arctic ice in recent years has unlocked the very shipping route Franklin was after.

Canada says it owns the passage. The U.S. and others say it is international territory.

Ryan Harris, an underwater archaeologist helping to lead the Parks Canada search, said a sonar image shows some of the ship’s deck structures, including the main mast, which was sheared off by the ice when the vessel sank. He said the contents of the ship are most likely in the same good condition.The exact location was not disclosed for fear of looters.

The discovery comes shortly after a team of archeologists found a tiny fragment from the doomed expedition, an iron fitting that once helped support a boat from one of the ships.

Other tantalizing traces have been found over the years, including the bodies of three crewmen discovered in the 1980s. Those included the perfectly preserved remains of a petty officer in an ice-filled coffin.

The search for an Arctic passage to Asia frustrated explorers for centuries, beginning with John Cabot’s voyage in 1497. The shortcut eluded other famous explorers, including Henry Hudson and Francis Drake.

No sea crossing was successful until Roald Amundsen of Norway completed his trip in 1903-06.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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