Tag Archives: Lincoln

But the War was Over…!?

Seven score and ten years ago (or 150 years for those archaic-arithmetic-impaired), Abraham Lincoln went to take in a show.

Wilkes Booth was one of his favorite actors, but he would not see that actor that night. Booth came up from behind, before exiting center stage.

Most Americans are still under the impression that Booth did the act in order to make a name for himself…

. . . . . Why? He was so famous already that everyone in the Ford audience that night knew who he was when he landed on the stage.

… and to make a fatal strike of revenge for the Confederates having lost the war.

. . . . . This is the most frequent misconception of the period. The war was not over.

Yes, Lee had surrendered at Appomattox the week before but he was not empowered to surrender for the government. Nor could he even surrender the forces not under his immediate command – and let’s face it, Lee only had 25% of the CSA fighting force with him.

And there were still battles fought and steamboats blown-up AFTER Lincoln’s death.

Lincoln himself, hopeful that the end was nearing, had spent most of the day before heading for the theater, sitting in the War Office hoping for a telegram from the Union Army in the south that Johnson had surrendered his forces. When he left for Ford’s Theater, he told them to send a messenger immediately should the telegram come in.

His death may, however, have hastened the end.

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An Historic Event Arriving

An Historic Event Arriving

A little known historic event occurred on Halloween 1862 and continued through the 2nd of November of that year:

The Battle of Unison.

Most historians have ignored the implications of this small event. But it was rather large in its results.

The Confederate advance into Maryland ended with the monumental Battle of Antietam, known as the bloodiest day of the war.

Lee withdrew his forces toward Harper’s Ferry and the Shenandoah Valley while McClellan remained at Sharpsburg resting his troops. Lincoln had to remind the General that he seemed to be closer to Richmond than Lee, so maybe he should race to the Southern Capital.

When the Federal troops moved off in that direction, Lee sent J.E.B. Stuart to cut them off.

With his smaller force, Stuart engaged the Union troops at Mountville and, remaining engaged, drew them westward from Aldie and Philomont into the small village of Unison. Here he was able to keep them occupied while Lee moved the bulk of his army to the Southeast and into a position to defend their capital.

After three days of fighting, the arrival of the remainder of the Union army made it imperative that Stuart leave the vicinity and he was forced to withdraw to Upperville, abandoning the wounded. The Unison Methodist Church, as well as many of the local homes, were turned into hospitals for the wounded from both side.

The Union troops were pleased that they had driven the Rebs away. They thought it was a worthwhile adventure.

Lincoln saw the events a little more darkly and removed General McClellan from his command.

Apparently, the small engagement seemed to show the Union as the victors even though they lost more men and horses than the Rebs. But they also lost their General and the chance to end the war then and there.

There will be an historic reenactment of the Battle by several units this year (the event’s sesquicentennial – i.e. 150th anniversary) but occurring on the 26th through the 28th of October, on the weekend, rather than on the 31st through Nov. 2nd.

Since I live in the area, it promises to be an interesting weekend!!

Another interesting footnote:

There was a scout and aide to General Stuart who was introduced to Loudoun County during this battle. He loved the area so much and saw some interesting possibilities there. He later discussed it with General Lee and was given the commission to form a group of partisan rangers.

The gentleman was originally from Fauquier County but made his name in Loudoun, which southern half is today called the “John Mosby Heritage Area”.

Yes, John Singleton Mosby was the aide who was first introduced to his place in history by the small Battle of Unison.

Small, yes, but the ripples from it went far and wide.