1861 April 21st

April 21 1861 Sunday

USA. US Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles sent orders to the Philadelphia Navy Yard to procure five steamers to be armed for coastal service, and similar orders were sent to the Commandants of the Navy Yards in New York and Boston.

District of Columbia. Union Colonel Charles Ferguson Smith placed under guard the steamers Baltimore, Mount Vernon, Philadelphia, and Powhatan. These vessels plied between Aquia Creek and Washington and they were ordered to be outfitted at Washington Navy Yard for the defence of the Capital.

Maryland. Maryland Governor Thomas H Hicks wrote to Union Brigadier-General Benjamin Franklin Butler advising that he should not land his troops at the port of Annapolis. Butler replied that he intended to land there nonetheless and then to march onward to Washington, DC. Governor Hicks protested Butler’s forcible possession of the Annapolis & Elkridge railroad.

Maryland. US forces took possession of the Philadelphia & Baltimore Railroad.

Maryland. Occupation of Fort Carroll.

New York. The Union 6th New York, 12th New York, 71st New York, a Rhode Island regiment, a Massachusetts regiment and a battery of artillery departed from New York to reinforce the defence of the capital.

North Carolina. The US Mint at Charlotte was seized by North Carolina state forces.

Virginia. The US Navy vessels at the Gosport Navy Yard at Norfolk had been set on fire, scuttled and sunk by the US officers in charge, to prevent capture. Subsequently, the Confederates began to construct a new armoured warship on the remains of the scuttled USS Merrimack at Norfolk. They raised the ship, cut it down to the waterline and built a 170-foot long iron casemate with sloping sides, improvising an almost impregnable ironclad ram. A cast iron prow four feet long was considered to be its primary weapon. The armour had four inches of wrought iron laid criss-cross on 22 inches of oak. When the ship in fighting trim the bow and stern were awash, leaving the iron citadel above the water. It was armed with six 9-inch Dahlgren smoothbore guns, and four rifled guns of 6-inch and 7-inch calibre. The heavy vessel had a draught of 22 feet and was powered by the two salvaged engines of the Merrimack. These engines produced a top speed of only four knots and the ship was extremely slow and difficult to manoeuvre, requiring thirty minutes to turn full circle. Estimates vary from 3,200 tons to 4,500 tons and a length between 275 and 300 feet. The reconstruction of the renamed CSS Virginia was completed on 5th March 1862.

Virginia. Confederate Virginia State Brigadier-General Philip St George Cocke was assigned command of all Virginia state forces along the Potomac River.

Virginia. The Union 4th Massachusetts arrived by sea to reinforce Fort Monroe.

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 USN: Captain John B Montgomery USN

General–in-Chief: Winfield Scott

  • Department of the East adjusted: John Ellis Wool
  • Department of Florida: Harvey Brown
  • 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: Colonel Earl Van Dorn arrived to command the Department of Texas.

Van Dorn, Earl | Mississippi | Born 17 September 1820 Port Gibson, Mississippi | USMA 1842 52/56 Infantry | 2nd Lieutenant USA 7th US Infantry 30 November 1844 1st Lieutenant USA 7th US Infantry 3 March 1847 Captain USA 2nd US Cavalry 3 March 1855 Major USA 2nd US Cavalry 28 June 1860 Resigned USA 31 January 1861 Major-General Mississippi Militia January 23 1861 Colonel PACS Cavalry March 16 1861 Brigadier-General PACS June 5 1861 Major-General PACS September 19 1861 | WIA Belen Gate 1847 WIA x 4 WIA Wasluta 1858 | Died May 7 1863 | 11 April 1861 – 17 September 1861 Department of Texas, 4 October 1861 – 9 January 1862 I Corps Potomac, 10 January 1862 – 30 May 1862 Trans-Mississippi District, 19 January 1862 – 24 June 1862 Army of the West, 26 May 1862 – 4 September 1862 District of Southern Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, 20 June 1862 – 25 June 1862 Department No 1, 2 July 1862 – 4 September 1862 District of the Mississippi, 28 September 1862 – 20 November 1862 Army of West Tennessee, 12 October 1862 – 13 October 1862 Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana, 7 December 1862 – 14 December 1862 I Corps Mississippi, 9 December 1862 – 16 December 1862 Army of Mississippi, 16 March 1863 – 6 May 1863 Van Dorn’s Cavalry Corps Tennessee

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 assumed
  • Department of West Florida: Braxton Bragg
    • “Forces in Pensacola”: Braxton Bragg
  • District of Louisiana: David Emanuel Twiggs
    • “Forces in New Orleans” “Army of Louisiana”: Braxton Bragg
  • Defences of Savannah: Alexander Robert Lawton
  • Forces in Harper’s Ferry”: Kenton Harper
  • “Forces in Norfolk”: William Booth Taliaferro

Union Generals

  • Major-General USA Winfield Scott 5 July 1841 to rank from 25 June 1841 General-in-Chief
  • Brigadier-General USA John Ellis Wool 25 June 1841 Department of the East
  • Brigadier-General USA William Selby Harney 14 June 1858 Department of the West
  • Brigadier-General USA Joseph Eggleston Johnston 28 June 1860 Quartermaster-General
  • Brigadier-General USA Edwin Vose Sumner 16 March 1861 Department of the Pacific awaited
  • Colonel George Wright 3 March 1855 District of Oregon
  • Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston 3 March 1855 Department of the Pacific interim
  • Colonel William Wing Loring 30 December 1856 Department of New Mexico
  • Colonel Philip St George Cooke 14 June 1858 Department of Utah
  • Colonel Carlos Adolphus Waite 5 June 1860 Department of Texas temporary
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Ferguson Smith 3 March 1855 Department of Washington
  • Major Harvey Brown 9 January 1851 Department of Florida

Confederate Seniority

  • Major-General PACS David Emanuel Twiggs March 22 1861 District of Louisiana
  • Brigadier-General ACSA Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard March 1 1861 Department of South Carolina & Forces in Charleston
  • Brigadier-General ACSA Braxton Bragg March 7 1861 Forces in Louisiana & Department of West Florida & Forces in Pensacola & Forces in New Orleans
  • Brigadier-General PACS Alexander Robert Lawton 13 April 1861 Defences of Savannah
  • Colonel Earl Van Dorn 16 March 1861 Department of Texas
  • State Major-General William Booth Taliaferro 17 April 1861 Forces in Norfolk
  • Colonel Kenton Harper Forces in Harper’s Ferry
  • Colonel William Booth Taliaferro Forces in Norfolk


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