Thursday, April 3, 2014

April 1, 1864 - April Fool's!

April 1, 1864

---Lord Russell, the British Foreign Minister, having signed an alliance with a Confederate envoy, authorizes the use of arms in aid of the Confederate cause.  On this date, the Royal Navy attacks blockading U.S. vessels near Cape Charles, Virginia, sinking two sloops and driving three ships ashore.  The British fleet of transports steam up the York River and land their forces near Urbanna---which amounts to two divisions of infantry and six batteries of field artillery.  Three more divisions of redcoats are slated to follow, under overall command of Maj. Gen. Lord Hastings.

---On the border between Quebec and New York, five regiments of Canadian militia and one battalion of British regulars march south, and occupy the town of Malone.  On the border of Vermont, a river-borne fleet of boats with another six regiments of Canadian troops, two regiments of British, and a regiment of cavalry, along with two batteries of field guns, begin to proceed down Lake Champlain.  At Halifax, the Royal Navy gets up steam, and a flotilla of warships sorties out to sea, headed southwest. 
---In an unprecendented move, Emperor Napoleon III of France officially recognizes the Confederate States of America as a sovereign nation.  In northern Mexico, a force of 4,700 French troops moves up to the Rio Grande, preparing to cross.

---Confederate invasion of California: Six transports, loaded with nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers, sail into Monterey Bay, and capture the town.  There, they meet two more regiments of Californians who have formed and trained to fight for the Confederacy.  As they march north, they meet Unionist militia near Santa Cruz and, in a sharp fight, send the Unionists into a retreat all the back to San Francisco.  As the sun sets, in San Francisco Bay, two ironclad sloops (CSS Austin and CSS Raleigh), two schooner (CSS Rapidan and CSS Cape Fear), a captured clipper (now the CSS Chesapeake), and the commerce raider CSS Florida---all flying Confederate ensigns---sail into the bay’s waters, and land marines on the docks.

---Canada declares war on the United States, and three armies (consisting of British regulars and Canadian militia) cross the borders on this date.  One army crosses into Vermont heading to St. Albans, another is amphibiously floated from Toronto across Lake Erie to Sandusky, Ohio, where they land unopposed and march inland.  Another army crosses the border between Ontario and Minnesota, with the purpose of joining with the Sioux in a planned uprising along the Minnesota River Valley. 

---Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, with a brigade of Confederate cavalry, dashes northward from Culpepper Court House, riding by back roads behind Union lines.  On the night before, they ride across the Long Bridge into Washington, D.C., catching the Union pickets completely by surprise, at 11:00 PM, and ride up 14th Street to Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House.  The Rebels capture the White House guards without a shot.  Gen. Stuart and his staff walk into the President’s study, where Lincoln is writing letters.  The President surrenders, and signs a prepared Cease Fire treaty.  The Rebels put the President in a carriage as a prisoner (pending a formal peace treaty), with guards, and his secretary John Hay, and ride back into Virginia.  The Civil War is over.

---Ironically, at the same time, Pres. Jefferson Davis announces to reporters that he has Negro ancestors, and then resigns in disgrace from the Presidency.

---Sen. William Yancey of the Confederate Senate, introduces a bill to free all of the slaves in the Confederacy, arguing that “we can rob the Yankees of their last weapon against us.”  When news of Lincoln’s capture reaches Richmond, Yancey withdraws the bill.