December 1861

Several Federal command changes took place, and Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals saw combat in Missouri. The first Confederate elections were held, and the Federals scored a coastal victory. An incident on the high seas threatened to spark war between the U.S. and Great Britain.

The Passions of the Country Are Up

The U.S. and Great Britain awaited each other’s official reactions to the seizure of Confederate envoys James Mason and John Slidell aboard the neutral British steamer Trent.

The 2nd Session of the 37th U.S. Congress

The second session of the first Republican-dominated Congress opened with many intent on destroying slavery as a means to win the war.

President Lincoln’s 1861 Message to Congress

President Abraham Lincoln submits his first annual message to Congress, in which he describes the current state of affairs and reiterates his view that the Union must be preserved by all necessary means.

The Power to Send for Persons and Papers

The U.S. Senate approves a measure creating a joint House-Senate military oversight committee whose investigative methods quickly prove controversial.

No Going Into Winter Quarters

George B. McClellan rejects Abraham Lincoln’s proposal to send the Army of the Potomac into northern Virginia against Centreville and Manassas Junction.

The Camp Allegheny Engagement

Robert H. Milroy’s Federal advance from Cheat Mountain leads to defeat in the last significant clash of the year in northwestern Virginia.

The Confederate Army of New Mexico

Henry H. Sibley’s Confederate Army of New Mexico reaches El Paso, Texas, where it is now poised to conquer the New Mexico Territory.

Surrender or War Will Have a Very Good Effect

News of the British reaction to the seizure of Confederate envoys James Mason and John Slidell reaches the U.S.

All My Ends Have Been My Country’s

Sterling Price sends another message to Jefferson Davis asking him to provide more support for their secessionist cause in Missouri.

The Blackwater Creek Engagement

Federals under John Pope overwhelm a force of Missouri State Guards and demoralize secessionists in the western part of the state.

The Dranesville Engagement

Federal forces win a minor victory in a struggle over foraging rights in northern Virginia.

Severe Punishments Are the Only Remedies

Henry W. Halleck issues General Orders as part of his Federal program to suppress alleged disloyalty in Missouri.

The Federal Blockade Tightens

Federal naval forces make gains in December by capturing various blockade runners and seizing forts along the coast.

They Will Be Cheerfully Liberated

Abraham Lincoln finally decides upon a course of action regarding Great Britain’s demands to release the Confederate envoys seized aboard the British steamer Trent.

The Battle of Chustenahlah

Confederate Texans and Native Americans defeat Unionists a second time this month in the Indian Territory.

Last Updated: 12/27/2021

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