1861 May 23rd

May 23 1861 Thursday

Escaped Slaves in Union Military Camps defined as “Contraband”

Chesapeake Bay Blockade

CSA. Confederate Colonel Lloyd J Beall was appointed as the first Commandant of the Confederate Marine Corps.

California. Skirmish at Larrabee’s Ranch. Operations were commenced against Indians on the Mad and Eel Rivers. The operation ended on 17 June 1861.

Massachusetts. USS Mississippi. Captain William Mervine USN, was compelled to put back into Boston for repairs because of acts of sabotage that had damaged her steam condensers.

New York. A battery of modern breech-loading 12-pounder Whitworth guns was landed at New York City, as a gift from American patriots abroad.

Virginia. Demonstration at Hampton.

Virginia. The state of Virginia voted to join the Confederacy by a majority of three-to-one. The western part of the state, however, prepared to break away from the rest of Virginia as the majority of its population preferred to remain loyal to the US government.

Virginia. Two companies of Confederate troops surrendered to Union forces at Clarksburg.

Virginia. Virginia State Major-General Walter Gwynn, a former US Army Engineers officer and former railroad engineer and surveyor, sited and supervised the construction of batteries to defend Norfolk, from late April to early May 1861. This included the active battery at Sewell’s Point. Gwynn commanded the defences of Norfolk until he was relieved by regular Confederate forces on 23 May 1861.

Virginia. Union Colonel Justin Dimick retained in command of the 415 Regular Army garrison soldiers stationed in Fort Monroe, while Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler took command of the entire garrison and the region around the fort. With reinforcements arriving continually, Butler planned to advance up the York Peninsula, and also to threaten Norfolk and other locations on the south side of Hampton Roads.

Virginia. Union forces from Fort Monroe made a reconnaissance towards Hampton.

Virginia. Three slaves of a Virginia owner sought refuge with the Union garrison at Fortress Monroe and the owner demanded their return under the Fugitive Slave Acts. Major-General Benjamin Franklin Butler refused on the grounds that Virginia had seceded and no longer had rights under Federal law. He later referred to the slaves as contraband of war and the term “contraband” came into unofficial usage as a slang term for a former slave. Butler’s ruling that slaves were deemed as property and therefore “contraband of war” provided a convenient improvisation to evade laws requiring the return of escaped slaves to their owners.

Union Organisation

Commander in Chief: President Abraham Lincoln

Vice-President: Hannibal Hamlin

Secretary of War: Simon Cameron

Secretary of the Navy: Gideon Welles

  • Coast Blockading Squadron USN: Flag Officer Silas Horton Stringham USN
  • Gulf Blockading Squadron USN: Flag Officer William Mervine USN
  • Pacific Squadron USN: Captain John B Montgomery USN
  • Western Gunboat Flotilla USN: Commander John Rodgers USN
  • Potomac Flotilla USN: Commander James Harmon Ward USN

General–in-Chief: Winfield Scott

  • Department of Annapolis: John Adams Dix
  • 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 Virginia: Benjamin Franklin Butler
  • Department of Washington: Joseph King Fenno Mansfield
  • Department of the West: William Selby Harney

Confederate Organisation

CSA: The Forces in Norfolk was discontinued and incorporated into the Department of Norfolk.

CSA: The Department of Norfolk was established, comprising the former Forces in Norfolk.

CSA: Virginia State Brigadier-General Benjamin Huger was appointed to command the Department of Norfolk, arriving on 26 May 1861.

Huger, Benjamin / South Carolina / Born 22 November 1805 Charleston, South Carolina / Died Charleston, South Carolina 7 December 1877
USMA 1 July 1825 8 /37 Artillery-Ordnance / Cadet USMA 1 July 1821 / 2nd Lieutenant USA 3rd US Artillery 1 July 1825 / Captain USA Ordnance 30 May 1832 / Major USA 15 February 1855 / Resigned USA 22 April 1861 / Lieutenant-Colonel ACSA Infantry 16 March 1861 / Brigadier-General Virginia Militia 22 May 1861 / Brigadier-General Provisional Army of Virginia June 1861 / Brigadier-General PACS 17 June 1861 / Major-General PACS 7 October 1861 / Assistant Inspector-General 12 June 1862 / Inspector of Ordnance and Artillery 26 August 1862-23 November 1863 / Paroled Shreveport, Louisiana 12 June 1865 / Brevet 2nd Lieutenant USA 1 July 1825 Brevet Major USA 29 March 1847 Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel USA 8 September 1847 Brevet Colonel USA 13 September 1847
Forces in Norfolk 21 May 1861-23 May 1861 / Department of Norfolk 23 May 1861-12 April 1862 / Huger’s Division Army of Northern Virginia May 1862-12 June 1862 / Inspector of Ordnance and Artillery 26 August 1862-23 November 1863 / Assistant Inspector-General Trans-Mississippi Department 26 August 1862-July 1863 / Chief of Ordnance Trans-Mississippi Department July 1863-March 1865

CSA: Colonel Jones Mitchell Withers (3rd Alabama Infantry) assumed temporary command of the Department of Norfolk.

Withers, Jones Mitchell / Alabama / Born 12 January 1814 Madison, Alabama / Died Mobile, Alabama 13 March 1890
USMA 1 July 1835 44/56 Dragoons / Cadet USMA 1 July 1831 / 1st US Dragoons 1 July 1835 / Resigned USA 5 December 1835 / Alabama Militia 1836 / Lieutenant-Colonel USA Infantry 3 March 1847 / 13th US Infantry 9 April 1847 / Colonel USA 13 September 1847 / Resigned USA 23 May 1848 / Colonel PACS 3rd Alabama Infantry 28 April 1861 / Brigadier-General PACS 10 July 1861 / Major-General PACS 6 April 1862 / Resigned PACS 13 July 1863 / Reappointed Major-General PACS 21 July 1863 / Paroled Meridian, Mississippi 11 May 1865 / Brevet 2nd Lieutenant USA 1 July 1835
Department of Norfolk 23 May 1861-26 May 1861 / District of Alabama 12 September 1861-27 January 1862 / Army of Mobile 27 January 1862-5 February 1862 / 2nd Division II Corps Army of Mississippi 29 March 1862-30 June 1862 / Reserve Corps Mississippi 30 June 1862-20 November 1862 / Withers’ Division Right Wing Army of Mississippi 18 August 1862-20 November 1862 / 2nd Division I Corps Army of Tennessee 20 November 1862-13 August 1863 / District of Northern Alabama 6 February 1864-27 July 1864 / Reserve Forces of Alabama 30 April 1864-4 May 1865

CSA: John Buchanan Floyd promoted Brigadier-General PACS 23 May 1861

Floyd, John Buchanan / Virginia / Born 1 June 1806 Montgomery, Virginia / Died Abingdon, Virginia 26 August 1863
Major-General Provisional Army of Virginia 27 April 1861-8 June 1861 / Major-General Virginia Militia 17 May 1861 / Brigadier-General PACS 23 May 1861 / Major-General Virginia Militia 17 May 1862-26 August 1863 / WIA Carnifex Ferry 10 September 1861
Forces in the Kanawha Valley 11 August 1861-12 August 1861 / Army of the Kanawha 12 August 1861 – 26 December 1861 / Floyd’s Division Army of Central Kentucky January 1862-13 February 1862

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: Milledge Luke Bonham
    • Alexandria Line: Milledge Luke Bonham
  • Department of Norfolk: Jones Mitchell Withers temporary Benjamin Huger awaited
  • 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
  • Hampton Line: John Bankhead Magruder
  • Forces in Harper’s Ferry”: Thomas Jonathan Jackson interim, Joseph Eggleston Johnston awaited
  • Forces in Richmond: Thomas Turner Fauntleroy
  • 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

Major-General USV

John Adams Dix
Nathaniel Prentiss Banks
Benjamin Franklin Butler

Brigadier-General USA

John Ellis Wool
William Selby Harney
Edwin Vose Sumner
Joseph King Fenno Mansfield
Irvin McDowell
Robert Anderson
William Starke Rosecrans

Brigadier-General USV

Samuel Peter Heintzelman
David Hunter
Erasmus Darwin Keyes
Andrew Porter
Fitz-John Porter
William Buel Franklin
William Tecumseh Sherman
Charles Pomeroy Stone
Don Carlos Buell
Thomas West Sherman
Nathaniel Lyon
John Pope
George Archibald McCall
William Reading Montgomery
Philip Kearny
Joseph Hooker
John Wolcott Phelps
Ulysses Simpson Grant
Joseph Jones Reynolds
Samuel Ryan Curtis
Charles Smith Hamilton
Darius Nash Couch
Rufus King
Jacob Dolson Cox
Stephen Augustus Hurlbut
Franz Sigel
Robert Cumming Schenck
Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss
Frederick West Lander
Benjamin Franklin Kelley
John Alexander McClernand
Alpheus Starkey Williams
Israel Bush Richardson
James Cooper

Brigadier-General USA (Staff)

Montgomery Cunningham Meigs

Confederate Generals

Note: Italics, awaiting confirmation of the commission

General ACSA

Samuel Cooper

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
William Wing Loring
Charles Clark
John Buchanan Floyd

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