Monday, May 28, 2012

May 27, 1862

May 27, 1862:  Battle of Hanover Court House.  At Hanover Court House, Virginia, just beyond McClellan’s right flank north of Richmond, Gen. FitzJohn Porter, commanding the Federal V Corps, sends troops---in fact, a rather large division of 12,000 men---to probe what is feared to be a Confederate attempt to lap the Federal flank.  Facing the Federals is Gen. Lawrence O’Bryan Branch of North Carolina with a brigade of infantry, which has been marching toward Richmond from Charlottesville.  Branch’s men attack a Union regiment and drive them back, but then spy a much larger force coming in on their right, with artillery.  Branch cagily retreats from Hanover.  Porter marches his division onward, unknowingly passing Branch’s camp.  Seeing an advantage, the Confederates advance and strike Porter’s column after the bulk of his troops have passed by, and there is a stiff firefight for over an hour, until the rest of Porter’s force doubles back to join the battle, and Branch then realizes that he is facing a much larger force.  As he withdraws, he loses some men to capture, but stings Federal attempts to strike at his column retreating.  Union Victory.

Losses:  U.S.           62 killed      233 wounded        70 captured.

                C.S.            unknown                                         700 captured

Unaccountably, Gen. McClellan claims the victory to be “one of the handsomest things of the war, both in itself and in its results . . . a glorious victory over superior numbers.”

---Gen. Halleck, still outside Corinth, Mississippi, reports that his armies are making progress towards the Rebel fortifications.  There has been sharp skirmishing on the front lines.

---Gen Stonewall Jackson has sent Gen. Winder and the Stonewall Brigade to Charles Town, Virginia.  The rest of his force is at Winchester still, but he contemplates pushing to Harper’s Ferry, which is lightly defended.
Print of Zouave uniforms inspired by French-Algerian regiments in the French Army--all the rage in military fashion in the 1860s
---Katherine Prescott Wormeley, a Sanitary Commission nurse on board a hospital vessel in the York River near the Richmond front, complains about the troops detailed to assist with the sick and wounded, based upon their wardrobe:  “This vessel (‘Knickerbocker’) is full of Zouaves, detailed to the Commission for nurses. I can’t endure them. It might be all very well, and in keeping, to get up a regiment of negroes en Turcos; but for an American citizen to rig himself as an Arab is demoralizing.”
Modern Zouave Reenactors, in Algerian/Turkish inspired uniforms

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