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April 21, 2013

This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, April 21

Confederate fighters conduct a raid 150 years ago this week in the Civil War, aiming to destroy a vital section of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in what is current-day West Virginia. The raid led by two Confederate generals — William Jones and John Imboden — was one of many by the South seeking to block Union attempts to deliver troops, weapons and supplies to their forces in the war theater. Confederate raids continued nearly uninterrupted during the second half of the war, disrupting the Union supply effort while prolonging the conflict. The B&O Railroad was a choice target as one of the nation’s oldest railroad links. Confederate raiders in April and May 1863 were successfully in destroying numerous rail bridges while seizing thousands of horses, heads of cattle and destroying ample Union supplies. Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported on April 24, 1863, that the Confederates were attempting to dismantle the sunken federal ironclad USS Keokuk at Charleston, S.C. The Keokuk was hit by Confederate shelling and disabled during an ill-fated Union attack in early April 1863 on Fort Sumter, site of the first shots of the Civil War in 1861. AP reported that “while some parties of rebels ... were endeavoring to dismantle” the Keokuk, “they were driven away by the fire of the gunboat” of a Union party.” The report said some 14 federal gunboats and ironclads lingered off South Carolina’s coast in the days after the attack on Fort Sumter.

 

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