Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 25, 1863

February 26, 1863

---Vicksburg:  Thoroughly wroth at the Confederate capture of the Queen of the West and then the Indianola, Admiral David D. Porter (who usually is hard-pressed to control his rage) does not have any more ironclad gunboats below Vicksburg, and is desperate to strike back at the Rebels and perhaps even recover the Indianola.  With no time to bring down more gunboats, Porter and his men concoct perhaps the unlikeliest hoax of the war.  They begin with an old scow, extend it with logs and, using empty barrels and mud, devise a casemate, deck, smokestacks with even a little smoke coming out from a bit of smoldering tar.  Blackened logs are put in place as “Quaker guns,” and the newly-created Black Terror floats downstream after dark and panic on the eastern shore spreads among the Confederates.  At 300 feet long, she was huge, and much bigger than the 180-foot Queen of the West: this boat was a monster.  The guns on the Vicksburg bluff opened up and, in an amazing stroke of luck, only hit the Terror once, thus preserving the pretense.  The Terror grounds once, but troops from Sherman’s troops push her back out into the stream.  As it approached the location of the partly-sunk Indianola, the Rebel flotilla explodes in a panic, ramming into each other in an effort to get away from the mystery behemoth.  As Brown and his flotilla raced downstream, the Black Terror sticks fast on the western bank.  The Rebel crew of the crippled Indianola spends a tens night, and finally in the morning, in obedience to orders, lights the ship on fire to prevent the Yankees recovering her.  When the fire reaches the magazine, the ship explodes.

---Today, Congress passes the National Banking Act, which establishes a national currency, requires all currency to be backed by actual specie.  This is the beginning of the Federal Reserve System.

---Julia LeGrand of New Orleans writes in her diary of a speech that Pres. Jefferson Davis had made at Jackson, Mississippi to the troops of Pemberton’s department:

Much dissatisfaction was felt here for a time over President Davis’ speech at Jackson. It was partial and addressed wholly to Mississippians, though the army by which he was surrounded was composed of men from all States. The battle of Chickasaw Bayou was fought by Louisianans and Georgians. These men were entitled, even as exiles from home, to kindly mention—but no word of praise, except to Mississippians. The women of Vicksburg were approved because they expressed wishes that the town should be shelled rather than surrendered. . . . I have always felt that Davis was a partisan, rather than a father of his country; a politician rather than a statesman.


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