Monday, May 30, 2011

150 Years Ago: Grafton, Virginia

On May 30, 1861, Union troops under Major General George McClellan occupied the town of Grafton, Virginia.  The move was made to secure the section of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad that ran through the western Virginia mountains.  The mostly pro-Unionist residents of the region cheered the Union invasion.  Grafton was the site of an important railroad junction where the B & O split into lines that went west and northwest to different points on the Ohio River.

Also on this date, Secretary of War Simon Cameron approved General Benjamin Butler's plan to retain any fugitive slaves that entered his lines at Fort Monroe, Virginia.  Butler was to put them to work and keep records of their service.

At Norfolk, Virginia, the Confederates raised the U.S.S. Merrimack.  It had been burned and sunk when the Gosport Naval Yard was abandoned by the Union troops on April 20.

Frank Blair used the authority given him by Lincoln and the War Department to relieve General William Harney of command.  Nathaniel Lyon would take his place as the top commander in the St. Louis area the following day.

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