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150 Years Ago: Tuesday, July 16, 1861


Washington resident Rose O’Neal Greenhow contacts Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard for the second time in one week. This time she has copies of orders that show Union General Irvin McDowell is planning to march 35,000 troops to capture Manassas, Virginia, followed by a move to the Confederate capital of Richmond. She knows when the Union forces will leave Washington, what route they will take and what strategy they plan to use for battle. Beauregard wires Confederate President Jefferson Davis to request reinforcements. Davis orders General Joseph E. Johnston to move from the Shenandoah Valley to Manassas Junction.

U.S. Colonel William Tecumseh Sherman is given orders to move his brigade. They are to leave at 2pm, at which time they are to march 10 miles to Vienna, Virginia. Sherman writes to his wife Ellen back in Lancaster, Ohio, informing her that he is moving out. He expects a battle the next day, maybe in Fairfax, Virginia. There is talk of Manassas Junction, where Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard is headquartered. Sherman gives Ellen instructions to “watch her investments” and provides messages for her to pass onto others. Not knowing what the upcoming days will bring, he closes with “Good bye, and believe me always most affectionately yours.”

U.S. General Winfield Scott and General Irvin McDowell continue to express concerns to President Lincoln, his cabinet and legislators on using raw and undisciplined volunteers in a major battle. But the orders have been set and troops are already on the move. It’s been over ninety days since Fort Sumter. Most people had predicted a ninety day war and are growing impatient with the lack of action.

It’s time to push south, engage in a victorious battle and take Richmond.

About thecivilwarproject

Like many others, I have a passion for the Civil War era, and for decades have chosen to spend my much of free time researching this topic - particularly the people, as the human component is what I find most fascinating. The site is not a source of revenue for me, nor is it tied in with a company or individual behind the scenes. It is my own personal venture. It is because of this genuine bond of respect and affection I feel towards this period in our history that I created "The Civil War Project." If this is your first time visiting the site, I welcome you and thank you for your interest. If you have any feedback or questions, please feel free to contact me at thecivilwarproject@yahoo.com.

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