1861 April 17th

April 17 1861 Wednesday

Virginia Seceded

Go to April 18 1861

CSA. Confederate President Jefferson Finis Davis’ invited all shipowners and masters interested in “service in private armed vessels on the high seas” or “privateers” to apply for Letters of Marque and Reprisal.

Florida. USS Powhatan (Lieutenant David Dixon Porter USN) arrived off Pensacola and protected the landing of 600 troops from the steamer Atlantic at Fort Pickens. This second shipload of soldiers completed the reinforcement of the fort and ensured that access to the best harbour on the Gulf of Mexico was now denied to the Confederates.

Maryland. Ardent secessionists in Maryland met to discuss how to secure the state’s adherence to the Confederacy.

Massachusetts. The Union 6th Massachusetts Infantry moved to Baltimore with eleven companies of infantry. Colonel Edward Jones was warned about the risk of trouble from the city’s population and he gave orders for his troops not to fire unless first fired upon.

Missouri. The Governor refused to comply with the Federal government’s demand for its quota of militia.

Pennsylvania. Nicholas Biddle of Pottsville joined the Washington Artillery company, and so became the first African American to volunteer for the Union Army.

Missouri. Incident at Palmyra.

Tennessee. The Governor refused to comply with the Federal government’s demand for its quota of militia.

Virginia. The Virginia state convention passed an Ordinance of Secession in secret session by 88 votes to 55. Virginia seceded from the Union, subject to approval by a popular referendum to be held on 23 May 1861. Virginia was admitted to the Confederacy on 7 May 1861. The turning point for the decision to secede was the Union call to arms issued on 15 April 1861. The addition of Virginia, with its high population and economic strength, brought a substantial increase in military power to the Confederacy and placed pro-Confederate forces on the borders of the vulnerable capital district.

Virginia. Confederates installed obstacles in the channel at Norfolk to prevent the sailing of US Navy vessels. The subsequent passage of the obstructions by USS Pawnee and USS Cumberland revealed that these efforts were ineffective.

Union Organisation

Commander in Chief: President Abraham Lincoln
Vice-President: Hannibal Hamlin
Secretary of War: Simon Cameron
Secretary of the Navy: Gideon Welles

Pacific Squadron: John Berrien Montgomery

General–in-Chief: Winfield Scott

Department of the East: John Ellis Wool

Department of Florida: Harvey Brown awaited

Department of New Mexico: William Wing Loring

Department of the Pacific: Albert Sidney Johnston interim Edwin Vose Sumner awaited

  • District of Oregon: George Wright

Department of Texas: Carlos Adolphus Waite

Department of Utah: Philip St George Cooke

Department of Washington: Charles Ferguson Smith

Department of the West: William Selby Harney

Confederate Organisation

CSA: The “Department of Louisiana” was discontinued and replaced by the formal District of Louisiana.
CSA: The District of Louisiana was established from the former “Department of Louisiana” and Forces in New Orleans.
CSA: Major-General David Emanuel Twiggs assumed command of the District of Louisiana.

CSA: The Forces in New Orleans was transferred from the “Department of Louisiana” to the District of Louisiana.
CSA: Brigadier-General Braxton Bragg retained command of the Forces in New Orleans

CSA: Brigadier-General Alexander Robert Lawton arrived to command the Defences of Savannah.

Commander in Chief: President Jefferson Finis Davis
Vice-President: Alexander Hamilton Stephens
Secretary of War: Leroy Pope Walker
Secretary of the Navy: Stephen Russell Mallory

Department of South Carolina: Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

  • “Forces in Charleston”: Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

Department of Texas: Earl Van Dorn awaited

Department of West Florida: Braxton Bragg

  • “Forces in Pensacola”: Braxton Bragg

District of Louisiana established: David Emanuel Twiggs assumed

  • “Forces in New Orleans” “Army of Louisiana” transferred: Braxton Bragg retained

Defences of Savannah: Alexander Robert Lawton

“Forces in Harper’s Ferry”: Kenton Harper

Union Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

Major-General USA

Winfield Scott

Brigadier-General USA

John Ellis Wool
William Selby Harney
Edwin Vose Sumner

Brigadier-General USA (Staff)

Joseph Eggleston Johnston

Confederate Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

Major-General PACS

David Emanuel Twiggs

Brigadier-General ACSA

Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard
Braxton Bragg

Brigadier-General PACS

Alexander Robert Lawton

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