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This week in the civil war

Union occupies Nashville; Lincolns bury son

Although Tennessee had seceded from the Union, federal troops entered Nashville and occupied that strategic city this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. Nashville thus became the first Confederate state capital to fall to Union forces as Confederate fighters retreated to Alabama and elsewhere.

By week’s end, pro-Union Tennessee Sen. Andrew Johnson – the future president of the United States after Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 – would be appointed the state’s military governor and arrive in Nashville to head up the occupation. His chief task: suppressing rebellion.

Union troops now command a vital railroad junction for supplying war campaigns elsewhere in the South. In December 1864, Confederate forces would unsuccessfully try to retake the city, and the two-day Battle of Nashville would yield thousands of casualties on both sides.

Nashville’s occupation angered Southerners, and secession-minded women in Memphis would even take up shooting practice, and others would try to raise money for a Confederate gunboat.

Newspapers this week report on a somber funeral cortege for President Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son Willie, who died in the White House on Feb. 20, 1862, of typhoid fever.

The Springfield Republican reports a crowd followed the grieving Lincoln family as the boy’s casket was carried to a Washington cemetery. The president, the report said, appeared “completely prostrated” by grief.

It added: “Friday night, and all day Saturday, he was in a stupor of grief, and seemed to care little even for great national events, but on Sunday, he began to recover from the shock, and is now, though deeply bowed down by his great affliction, in nowise incapacitated for the duties of his position.”

– Associated Press

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