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This week in the civil war

Battlefield defeats force shakeup of Confederacy’s Cabinet

Confederate President Jefferson Davis, beset by recent military setbacks, orders a major Cabinet reshuffle this week 150 years ago in the Civil War.

The Confederate leader orders on March 18, 1862, that George W. Randolph – a Virginia native and grandson of Thomas Jefferson – take charge as Confederate war secretary.

Randolph succeeds Judah P. Benjamin. Benjamin, who was criticized for his handling of the department, now moves to secretary of state. Randolph will go on in the next eight months to reorganize and bolster the Confederate war machinery for the battles ahead.

Despite recent reversals for the Confederacy, the war is still young. An Associated Press dispatch in early March speaks of growing federal worries about a vexing Confederate commander, Maj. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, now roaming about the Virginia countryside.

Indeed, 3,400 Confederate troops commanded by Jackson will clash with a far larger Union force of about 8,500 troops on March 23, 1862, at Kernston, Va. Federal forces stop Jackson’s daring drive, but his campaign sounds alarm bells in Washington.

– Associated Press