Click the play button below in order to listen to “This Month in Civil War History” for February 2016. You can also scroll down to read through the transcript if you would prefer to read it. This report is also airing on WZBT 91.1 FM throughout this month. Thanks to WZBT for their help in producing this piece.
On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky. The self-educated lawyer served in the United States House of Representatives as a delegate from Illinois before being elected as the sixteenth president of the United States.
In February of 1861, the Confederacy formed a government at Montgomery, Alabama and appointed Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederate States of America.
The capital would soon be moved to Richmond, Virginia, following Virginia’s secession that spring. President Davis would be formally inaugurated in February of 1862 to a term of 6 years.
In the West, Union General Ulysses S. Grant captured the Confederate strongholds at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. These February 1862 battles gave the Union control of the vital Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers and helped General Grant rise to fame.
By February 1864, Prisoner of War camps were beginning to fill up due to the breakdown of the prisoner exchange program. The notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia first opened its gates on February 27, 1864. Of the roughly 45,000 Union troops who would be interred there during the war, about 13,000 of them died due to poor sanitation, hunger, thirst, and exposure.
Earlier that month, over 100 Union officers escaped from Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. Over half of them managed to find their way to Union lines, while the other half were either recaptured or drowned during the escape.
February 1864 also saw the first successful submarine attack of the Civil War. The CSS Hunley, manned by seven confederate sailors, stuck a torpedo to the USS Housatonic in Charleston harbor. Both the Hunley and the Housatonic sank as a result of the explosion.
I’m Jeff Lauck and this has been This Month in Civil War History, a coproduction of WZBT and the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.