1861 May 14th

May 14 1861 Tuesday

Go to May 15 1861

USA. US President Abraham Lincoln appointed George Brinton McClellan as the second-ranking General in the US Army. McClellan was already the highest officer in the Ohio militia and had a high reputation, despite having resigned from the Army in 1857. Lincoln was responding to public clamour and to the recommendation of Major-General Winfield Scott. Scott supported McClellan’s appointment following the rebuff by his US Army protégé Colonel Robert Edward Lee who had joined the Confederacy, The expansion of the general officer corps of the US Regular Army led very quickly to the appointment also of John Charles Frémont as a Major-General and the promotion of Irvin McDowell and Joseph King Fenno Mansfield as Brigadier-Generals. McClellan and Frémont both had high reputations and their appointments at such a high grade despite not being recently in service demonstrated Lincoln’s boldness in seeking to strengthen the pool of senior officers from outside the existing Regular Army. McClellan had left the Army in 1857 as a Captain, and Frémont had not served since 1848 when he was a Lieutenant-Colonel. Their promotion over the head of more senior serving officers was also a sign of the pressure of public opinion to discover Generals outside the conventional pool of officers. The search to identify new and younger talent was essential insofar as the four Generals currently in post were aged 74 (Winfield Scott), 77 (John Ellis Wool), 60 (William Selby Harney), and 74 (Edwin Vose Sumner). McClellan was aged 34 and Fremont was a comparatively sprightly 48.
McDowell and Mansfield were career soldiers who benefitted from serving in high staff positions in Washington, DC, at the time of the crisis. McDowell had been an Assistant Adjutant-General since 1847 and was well acquainted with the running of the army. Mansfield had been Inspector-General since 1853. They were aged 42 and 57 respectively.

Kentucky. US President Abraham Lincoln ordered Major Robert Anderson to provide military aid to Kentucky Unionists even though the state had claimed neutrality.

Maryland. Governor Hicks issued a call to raise four regiments to serve the Union within the state of Maryland and for the defence of the capital.

Maryland.  Massachusetts State Brigadier-General Benjamin Franklin Butler seized a supply of weapons and a schooner loaded with arms in Baltimore.

Missouri. The Missouri State Legislature had passed the “Military Bill” on 11 May 1861 in direct response to the action at Camp Jackson in St Louis the previous day. The final version of the act was approved on 14 May and authorised Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson to disband the old Missouri Volunteer Militia and to reform it as the Missouri State Guard. The Guard was intended to be a secessionist force to resist a feared invasion by the Union Army. It also outlawed or prohibited other militia organizations except those authorized by the Guard’s district commanders. This latter provision was intended to prevent pro-Union Missourians from organising “Home Guard” companies in the areas outside the metropolitan St Louis area. This prohibition affected the predominantly Unionist German United States Reserve Corps regiments which had mustered in St Louis above and beyond the Missouri requirement under the Federal Militia Act of 1792. The law did allow for the formation of new local Home Guards for youths under 18 and men over 45. It also specified that the language of all spoken commands was to be English, thereby excluding the large ethnic German population, which held predominantly Unionist and anti-slavery views.
The act divided the state into nine Military Districts based on the Federal Congressional Districts and made men ages 18 to 45 years of age eligible for service in the Missouri State Guard unless officially exempted. While each district raised a “division”, they were organised effectively as standard brigades. Each district’s division was to be commanded by a State Guard Brigadier-General who was a resident of the district and elected by the commissioned officers of the district. An act was passed on 15 May to permit the appointment of a Major-General to act as the field commander of the Missouri State Guard. The first commander thus appointed was Sterling Price, a former governor and one of the most influential men in Missouri. The first eager recruits for the Missouri State Guard had assembled in Jefferson City by mid-May. However, after the Price–Harney agreement on 20 May between Price and Union Brigadier-General William Selby Harney, the movement of Guardsmen to the state capitol was halted. The State Guard continued to be recruited in their home districts.

Virginia. Union Colonel Justin Dimick and the garrison of Fortress Monroe seized a well just outside the fort because the fort did not have enough water for its garrison. Union forces also occupied the Mill Creek Bridge which was needed for access to the Peninsula from the fort and the nearby Clark farm. The fort soon could not hold all of the arriving reinforcements so the Union forces established Camp Troy, soon to be renamed Camp Hamilton, on Segar farm on the Hampton side of Mill Creek, within range of the guns of Fort Monroe.

Virginia. A force of Virginia militiamen commanded by Confederate Colonel Thomas Jonathan Jackson seized a train of railroad cars and locomotives on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad at Harper’s Ferry. They were diverted to Winchester to supplement the Confederate rolling stock.

Virginia. USS Minnesota, Captain Silas Horton Stringham, captured the schooners Mary Willis, Delaware Farmer, and Emily Ann at Hampton Roads laden with tobacco for Baltimore. The Argo, bound for Bremen from Richmond, was captured on the same date.

Union Organisation

USA: Colonel Edward Richard Sprigg Canby (19th US Infantry) assumed temporary command of the Department of New Mexico, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Colonel William Wing Loring to join the Confederacy.

USA: George Brinton McClellan was promoted Major-General USA 14 May 1861.

USA: John Charles Frémont was promoted Major-General USA 3 July 1861 to rank from 14 May 1861.

USA: Irvin McDowell was promoted Brigadier-General USA 14 May 1861.

USA: Joseph King Fenno Mansfield was promoted Brigadier-General USA 17 May 1861 to rank from 14 May 1861.

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

Coast Blockading Squadron: Silas Horton Stringham
Gulf Blockading Squadron: William Mervine
Pacific Squadron: John Berrien Montgomery
Potomac Flotilla: James Harmon Ward

General–in-Chief: Winfield Scott

Department of Annapolis: Benjamin Franklin Butler awaited

Department of the East: John Ellis Wool

Department of Florida: Harvey Brown

Department of New Mexico: Edward Richard Sprigg Canby

Department of the Ohio: George Brinton McClellan

Department of the Pacific: Edwin Vose Sumner

  • District of Oregon: George Wright

Department of Pennsylvania: Robert Patterson

Department of Texas: Vacant

Department of Utah: Philip St George Cooke

Department of Washington: Joseph King Fenno Mansfield

Department of the West: William Selby Harney

Confederate Organisation

CSA: Robert Edward Lee was promoted Brigadier-General ACSA 14 June 1861 to rank from 14 May 1861.

CSA: Joseph Eggleston Johnston was promoted Brigadier-General ACSA 15 May 1861 to rank from 14 May 1861.

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 Alexandria: Philip St George Cocke

  • Alexandria Line: Philip St George Cocke

Department of North Carolina: Theophilus Hunter Holmes

  • Defences of North Carolina: Theophilus Hunter Holmes

Department of South Carolina: Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

  • “Forces in Charleston”: Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard

Department of Southwestern Virginia: William Wing Loring

Department of Texas: Earl Van Dorn

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

Indian Territory: Benjamin McCulloch

Potomac Line: Daniel Ruggles

Forces in Harper’s Ferry”: Thomas Jonathan Jackson

“Forces in Norfolk”: Walter Gwynn

Forces in Richmond: John Bankhead Magruder

Forces in the Kanawha Valley: Christopher Quarles Tompkins

Union Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

Major-General USA

Winfield Scott
George Brinton McClellan
John Charles Frémont

Brigadier-General USA

John Ellis Wool
William Selby Harney
Edwin Vose Sumner
Joseph King Fenno Mansfield
Irvin McDowell

Confederate Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

Major-General PACS

David Emanuel Twiggs

Brigadier-General ACSA

Robert Edward Lee
Joseph Eggleston Johnston
Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard
Braxton Bragg

Brigadier-General PACS

Alexander Robert Lawton
Milledge Lake Bonham
Benjamin McCulloch

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