1861 January 1st

January 1 1861 Tuesday

Go to January 2 1861

USA. James Buchanan was the incumbent President of the United States of America, elected on 4 March 1857.

USA. John Cabell Breckinridge was the incumbent Vice-President of the United States of America, elected on 4 March 1857.

USA. Jeremiah Sullivan Black was Secretary of Secretary of State, appointed 17 December 1860.

USA. Joseph Holt was interim Secretary of War, deputising for John Buchanan Floyd, appointed on 31 December 1860.

USA. Isaac Toucey was Secretary of the Navy, appointed 7 March 1857.

USA. Edwin McMasters Stanton was Attorney-General, appointed 30 December 1860.

USA. Jacob Thompson was Secretary of the Interior, appointed 10 March 1857.

USA. Philip Francis Thomas was Secretary of the Treasury, appointed 12 December 1860.

USA. Horatio King took interim office as US Postmaster-General deputising for Joseph Holt.

USA. The Commanding General or General-in-Chief of the US Army was Major-General USA Winfield Scott

USA. The United States Regular Army was ill-prepared for a war on a continental scale and was organised primarily for operations on the western frontier. There were 198 companies formed into 10 Regiments of Infantry, 4 Regiments of Artillery, and 5 Regiments of Cavalry. There were 1,098 Officers and 15,304 Enlisted Men of whom 727 Officers and 13,930 Enlisted Men were present for duty. The majority of field forces were deployed along the western frontier and in the new territories. Garrisons were also located in the primary east coast ports where a new generation of coastal fortifications was under construction. These forts were not fully garrisoned but were held ready for occupation by the State Militia in the event of war with a European power. Of the 198 available companies or batteries, 183 were stationed at 79 different posts west of the Mississippi. The other fifteen companies, mostly artillery, were allocated to coastal fortifications, 23 arsenals, and at posts on the Canadian border.

USA. The six Military Departments reported the following numbers available for duty after 15 January 1861:
East 3,894, West 3,585, Utah 685, California 3,382, New Mexico 2,624, and Texas 2,258.
The Department of the East manned the eastern coast fortifications with 18 artillery companies and one company of engineers but no infantry or cavalry. None were stationed in the vicinity of Washington, DC. The Department of Utah had three companies of dragoons, three companies of artillery, and four companies of infantry. Thirteen companies of infantry and two companies of dragoons were in the Department of New Mexico and one regiment of infantry was in the Department of Texas. There were forces also in the Department of California and the Department of Oregon. Of 1,108 Regular Army officers serving as of 1 January 1861, 270 ultimately resigned to join the Confederacy. Only a few hundred out of 15,135 enlisted men left the ranks.

USA. Traditionally, for major campaigns such as the War with Mexico in 1846-1848, the United States had supplemented its Regular Army by recruiting a temporary army of volunteers, called up for service of limited duration. In the coming Civil War, these US Volunteers would, as before, form the backbone of the forces engaged. The US War Department considered making the recruitment of volunteers a Federal responsibility, but this proposal was deemed unnecessary for the short war initially envisioned. Responsibility for recruiting volunteer forces remained with the individual States. State governors encouraged local constituents to form new volunteer regiments. Local recruiting created regiments with strong bonds among the men, but it later hindered replacing the ranks of existing regiments with replacements. It also meant that when regiments took severe casualties, a serious impact was transmitted to the local communities where they were recruited. Both sides tried to recruit replacements into existing units from the same state or region to maintain their numbers, but the Union also tended to create many new regiments to make senior commands available to reward energetic recruiters and supporters. These newly formed regiments usually had few veterans to train the recruits, and all regiments tended to lose men more quickly than they could be replaced. Seasoned regiments were often reduced to very small numbers and had to be disbanded or consolidated, usually against the wishes of the men assigned. The terms of service also caused problems. In the first year of the war, many regiments enlisted for only three months’ service. This was soon extended to three years’ service for most regiments; or for the duration of hostilities. The expiry of large numbers of enlistments caused recurring difficulties, especially in the autumn and winter of 1861 (mustering out three months’ regiments) and the spring and summer of 1864 (mustering out three years’ regiments). Militia and other local forces were often enlisted for emergency service for only one month or for three months. Out of necessity, the Confederates moved much more quickly to enlistments without specifying a duration.

USA. Army administration was handled by a system of bureaux whose senior officers were mostly in the twilight of long careers in their technical fields. Six of the 10 bureau chiefs were over 70 years old. These bureaux answered directly to the War Department and were not subject to the direct orders of the General-in-Chief. The staff departments covered the following areas of responsibility: Quartermaster, Medical, Ordnance, Adjutant-General, Subsistence, Paymaster, Engineers, Inspector-General, Topographical Engineers (discontinued in 1863), and Judge Advocate-General.

The Adjutant-General’s Department was responsible for military orders, correspondence, regulations, personnel records, manuals, printed forms, recruitment for the Regular Army, mustering Volunteer units in and out of service, and pension claims. The Inspector-General monitored military organisations and their activities to ensure that they were conducted according to regulations. At the outbreak of war, there were two Colonels in the department. They were joined by five Inspector-Generals with the grade of Major in August 1861. The Quartermaster Department was responsible for providing quarters and transportation for supplies, uniforms, equipment, horses, fuel, forage, and all other machinery and stationery except food. The Subsistence Department was headed by the Commissary General of Subsistence and supplied by all the food and rations to the armies. The Pay Department was led by the Paymaster General and handled not just soldiers’ pay but also accounted for army funds and made payments. The Ordnance Department was in charge of all arsenals, artillery depots, and armouries, and provided ordnance and artillery supplies to the army.

USA. In 1861 the US Navy had 90 vessels listed on its Register of Ships, of which only 42 were capable of active service, and most of those were dispersed on stations from Brazil to China. Soon after his inauguration, President Abraham Lincoln asked the Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, what naval force was available in case of war. Welles named only 12 warships that could be put immediately into service. This was not a Navy capable of commanding the Southern coastline by blockade, pursuing commerce raiders, attacking enemy fortifications and ports, or fighting on the Western rivers, the very mission that emerged during the coming war.

The outbreak of war coincided with technological innovations that had a dramatic impact on naval warfare. Among these innovations were the powerful screw propeller, increasingly efficient steam engines, rifled and banded naval guns with greater range and accuracy, and reliable exploding ordnance. In response to the emergence of these new technologies, the US Navy built 24 major new vessels in the decade before the outbreak of war. This was the country’s largest peacetime naval expansion since the Naval Act of 1816. Even though the Navy of 1861 was small, it contained a high proportion of modern warships. The first ships of this dramatic expansion were the five River-class screw-driven frigates, named USS Merrimack, USS Wabash, USS Minnesota, USS Roanoke, and USS Colorado. At the same time a sixth frigate, the USS Niagara, was launched to a novel design, longer with sharper lines and mounting fewer guns. They looked superficially like the sailing frigates of earlier years. However, they were steam-powered and propeller-driven and boasted an impressive armament of advanced guns. When the USS Merrimack visited English ports in 1856-1857, her powerful battery persuaded the British to launch a new class of steam warships.

The Southern states had complained that the new steam frigates were too large to operate in shallow Southern ports. In 1856, Secretary of the Navy James C Dobbin urged the construction of another new class of warships: smaller, shallower-draft steam sloops. These were the first US Navy warships to be driven by twin screws. These City-class warships were named the USS Hartford, USS Richmond, USS Brooklyn, USS Pensacola, and USS Lancaster. Launched in 1858, the USS Hartford drew only 18 feet of water, allowing her and her sister ships to enter most Southern ports where the bigger steam frigates could not pass. During the conflict, vessels like the USS Hartford, USS Richmond, and USS Brooklyn, were able later to steam up the Mississippi as far as Vicksburg and into Mobile Bay. This was an unanticipated outcome of Southern demands for this kind of vessel.  In 1858 a third type of new steam warship was authorised by Congress. The first of these Indian-class screw steamers was the USS Mohican, launched in 1859. The others were the USS Pawnee, USS Wyoming, USS Iroquois, USS Dacotah, USS Seminole, and USS Narragansett. These small ships carried sailing masts and spars, but their sail pattern was much reduced. These were the first American warships to be classified as steam warships rather than sailing vessels with auxiliary steam power. Between 1854 and 1859, the US Congress authorised funds for three new classes of steam-powered, propeller-driven warships, as well as other ships, numbering 24 vessels in all. These appropriations enlarged and modernised the fleet in a way that made the US Navy more prepared for war in 1861 than for any previous war.

District of Columbia. Following discussions between US President James Buchanan and General-in-Chief Major-General Winfield Scott on 31 December 1860, preparations were instigated for the future defence of the Capital District. Colonel Charles Pomeroy Stone was commissioned Inspector-General of the District of Columbia. He identified and enumerated the local militia and volunteer forces available, since no Regular Army troops were stationed nearby.  There was a small detachment of US Marines at the Washington Navy Yard. Stone found a loyal company of the Potomac Light infantry at Georgetown, and a growing company of the National Rifles with two mountain howitzers but he felt these had strongly Southern sympathies. There was also the Washington Light Infantry with 160 men and a small National Guard battalion, both of which were loyal to the Federal government. Stone began to raise new volunteer companies and within six weeks he had equipped thirty-three companies of infantry and riflemen and two troops of cavalry for the defence of the city. In due course, Stone broke up the formation of pro-Southern “National Volunteers” units, and the National Rifles were restored to a more reliable allegiance.

South Carolina. South Carolina was deemed by the US government to be in a state of rebellion after passing an ordinance of secession on 20 December 1860.

US Army General-in-Chief

Major-General USA Winfield Scott

US Army Field Commands

1st Regiment US Infantry: Colonel Carlos Adolphus Waite; HQ Fort Chadbourne, Texas
2nd Regiment US Infantry: Colonel Dixon Stansbury Miles, HQ Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
3rd Regiment US Infantry: Colonel Benjamin Bonneville; HQ Fort Clark, Texas
4th Regiment US Infantry: Colonel George Wright; HQ Fort Vancouver, California
5th Regiment US Infantry: Colonel Gustavus Loomis; HQ Fort Union, New Mexico Territory
6th Regiment US Infantry: Lieutenant-Colonel George Andrews (vice Colonel Washington Seawell); HQ Bernicia Barracks, California
7th Regiment US Infantry: Colonel John Joseph Abercrombie, HQ Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory
8th Regiment US Infantry: Colonel John Garland; HQ San Antonio, Texas
9th Regiment US Infantry: Lieutenant-Colonel Silas Casey (vice Colonel George Wright); Fort Vancouver, California
10th Regiment US Infantry: Colonel Edmund Brooke Alexander, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Ferguson Smith; Major William Henry Talbot Walker; Major Edward Richard Sprigg Canby; HQ Fort Laramie, Dakota Territory
1st Regiment US Dragoons: Colonel Thomas Turner Fauntleroy, Lieutenant-Colonel Benjamin Lloyd Beall; HQ Fort Tejon, California; (renamed 1st US Cavalry 3 August 1861)
2nd Regiment US Dragoons: Colonel Philip St George Cooke; HQ Waterloo, Iowa (renamed 2nd US Cavalry 3 August 1861)
1st Regiment US Mounted Riflemen: Colonel William Wing Loring, Lieutenant-Colonel George Bibb Crittenden; HQ Fort Union, New Mexico Territory (renamed 3rd US Cavalry 3 August 1861)
4th Regiment US Cavalry: Colonel Edwin Vose Sumner, Lieutenant-Colonel William Hemsley Emory, Major John Sedgwick; HQ Fort Riley, Kansas
5th Regiment US Cavalry: –
1st Regiment US Artillery: –
2nd Regiment US Artillery: –
3rd Regiment US Artillery: –
4th Regiment US Artillery: –

US Army Territorial Commands

Department of the East: Brigadier-General John Ellis Wool
Department of Texas: Brigadier-General David Emanuel Twiggs
Department of the West: Brigadier-General William Selby Harney
Department of New Mexico: Colonel Thomas Turner Fauntleroy
Department of Oregon: Colonel George Wright
Department of Utah: Colonel Philip St George Cooke
Department of California Lieutenant-Colonel Benjamin Lloyd Beall

USA: The Department of New Mexico comprised the Territory of New Mexico east of 110 degrees of longitude and a part of southwest Colorado Territory. Headquarters were in Santa Fe.
USA: The Department of New Mexico was commanded by Colonel Thomas Turner Fauntleroy (1st US Dragoons).

USA: The Department of Oregon comprised the area of the later states of Washington, Idaho, and all but the southwestern corner of Oregon. Headquarters were in Vancouver.
USA: The Department of Oregon was commanded by Colonel George Wright (9th US Infantry).

USA: The Department of Texas comprised the state of Texas. Headquarters were in San Antonio.
USA: The Department of Texas was commanded by Brigadier-General USA David Emanuel Twiggs.

USA: The Department of the East included all of the United States east of the Mississippi River. Headquarters were in New York.
USA: The Department of the East was commanded by Brigadier-General USA John Ellis Wool.

USA: The Department of the West comprised the country west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains, except for Texas, Utah Territory, and New Mexico Territory. It included Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas Territory, Nebraska Territory, Indian Territory, and Louisiana west of the Mississippi River. Headquarters were in St Louis, Missouri.
USA: The Department of the West was commanded by Brigadier-General USA William Selby Harney.

USA: The Department of Utah comprised Utah Territory east of 177 degrees west longitude. Headquarters were at Fort Crittenden.
USA: The Department of Utah was commanded by Colonel Philip St George Cooke (2nd US Dragoons).

US Army Staff Departments:

Commissary General of Subsistence: Colonel George Gibson, since 18 April 1818.

Surgeon-General: Colonel Thomas Lawson, since 30 November 1836.

Chief of Engineers: Colonel Joseph Gilbert Totten, since 7 December 1838.

Chief of Topographical Engineers: Colonel John James Abert, since 1838.

Inspector-General: Colonel Sylvester Churchill, since 25 June 1841.

Judge Advocate-General: Captain John Fitzgerald Lee, since 2 March 1849.

Chief of Ordnance: Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Knox Craig, since 10 July 1851.

Adjutant-General: Colonel Samuel Cooper, since 15 July 1852.

Paymaster-General: Colonel Benjamin Franklin Larned, since 20 July 1854.

Quartermaster-General: Brigadier-General USA Joseph Eggleston Johnston, since 28 June 1860.

Squadrons of the US Navy:

USA: The African Squadron was commanded by Captain William Inman USN.

USA: The Brazil Squadron was commanded by Captain Joshua Ratoon Sands USN.

USA: The East Indian (or Asiatic) Squadron was commanded by Captain Cornelius Kinchiloe Stribling USN.

USA: Command of the European Squadron was vacant.

USA: The Home Squadron was commanded by Captain Garrett J Pendergrast USN.

USA: The Mediterranean Squadron was commanded by Captain Charles H Bell USN.

USA: The Pacific Squadron was commanded by Captain John B Montgomery USN.

Union Organisation

USA: The Department of California was established. It comprised the country west of the Rocky Mountains south of the Oregon Territory and including the Utah Territory west of the 117 degree of longitude and the New Mexico Territory west of 100 degrees longitude. Headquarters were in San Francisco.
USA: The Department of California was commanded temporarily by Lieutenant-Colonel Benjamin Lloyd Beall.

Commander in Chief: President James Buchanan
Vice-President: John Cabell Breckinridge
Secretary of War: Joseph Holt
Secretary of the Navy: Isaac Toucey

African Squadron: William Inman
Brazil Squadron: Joshua Ratoon Sands
East Indian (Asiatic) Squadron: Cornelius Kinchiloe Stribling
European Squadron: vacant
Home Squadron: Garrett J Prendergast
Mediterranean Squadron: Charles H Bell
Pacific Squadron: John Berrien Montgomery

General–in-Chief: Winfield Scott

Department of California established: Benjamin Lloyd Beall temporary

Department of the East: John Ellis Wool

Department of New Mexico: Thomas Turner Fauntleroy

Department of Oregon: George Wright

Department of Texas: David Emanuel Twiggs

Department of Utah: Philip St George Cooke

Department of the West: William Selby Harney

Union Generals

Major-General USA

Winfield Scott

Brigadier-General USA

John Ellis Wool
David Emanuel Twiggs
William Selby Harney

Brigadier-General USA (Staff)

Joseph Eggleston Johnston

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close