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A Nation Divided.  The Civil War in contemporary prints
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1861: September

[ Kentucky | Battle of Cheat Mountain | Missouri ]


In September, Confederate successes in Missouri continued, but in the end they were unable to solidify their position there. The North and South continued to jockey, taking up positions in supposedly neutral Kentucky, while little happened in the eastern theater of war.


In May, 1861, the legislature and governor of Kentucky declared the state to be neutral, which initially was respected by both North and South. Public sentiment in the state began to swing towards the Union and tensions increased through the summer. On September 3rd, Confederate forces ended Kentucky's neutrality by occupying Columbus along the Mississippi. In response, on September 6th, General U.S. Grant took his troops into Paducah, Kentucky, effectively seizing control of the mouth of the Tennessee River.

Battle of Cheat Mountain

Grant's debut in the Civil War was a success, unlike that of his eventual chief rival, Robert E. Lee. In his first action of the war, Lee tried to surround and overrun the Union garrison atop Cheat Mountain in western Virginia. Though his troops well outnumbered the Federal forces, bad weather and faulty information led to a total failure in the Confederate attack. Subsequently, Lee received considerable criticism in the Southern press. Federal control in western Virginia was maintained.


Battle of Lexington MO
Following up on his victory at Wilson's Creek, General Sterling Price moved his troops, numbering over 10,000, north to gain further control in Missouri. He surrounded a Federal fortification at Lexington, which was manned by about 2,500 soldiers. Skirmishing started on Sept. 12 and the siege continued until the 20th, when the outmanned Union commander, Col. James Mulligan, surrendered.

After this, many of Price's troops, many disorganized militia, returned home, which the Union sent more professional troops into the state. Thus, despite their two victories, the Confederates were not able to siege control of Missouri.

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