September 1861 saw further political pressure put on General McClellan to attack Confederate forces near to Washington. McClellan presented his plan of attack to Lincoln on September 27th 1861. McClellan contimued to resent the political pressure that was being put on him as he knew that if his plan failed he would be blamed for possibly losing the American Civil War for the North.
September 1st: Union forces commanded by General Rosecrans tightened their hold on western Virginia.
September 2nd: President Lincoln voiced his concerns with regards to the declaration of martial law in Missouri. He believed that it would turn away those in the state who were sympathetic to the Union.
September 3rd: General Polk ordered Confederate troops into Kentucky. When war started, Polk was a bishop in the Episcopal Church but resigned from the Church because of its support of the Union.
September 4th: Troops commanded by Polk seized Columbus, thus ending Kentucky’s attempt to stay neutral in the war.
September 5th: Union troops commanded by Ulysses Grant prepared to move into Kentucky in response to the move made by Polk.
September 6th: Union forces captured Paducah without bloodshed. This town gave the Union a large measure of control over the river systems that were vital to the region.
September 9th: Lincoln was advised by numerous senior military figures to relieve General Frémont of his command in Missouri. Lincoln did not take this advice but appointed General David Hunter to assist Frémont.
September 10th: The Confederacy appointed General Albert Sidney Johnston as commander of the Confederate Armies of the West.
September 11th: Lincoln ordered Frémont to withdraw his order regarding property and slave confiscation in Missouri for anyone who voiced their support for the Confederacy. Lincoln ordered Frémont to come into line with the Confiscation Act passed by Congress. To emphasise his order, Lincoln sent Judge Joseph Holt to St. Louis to push Frémont towards moderating his stance.
September 12th: Lee, with 30,000 men under his command, expected to fight a force led by the Unionist General Rosecrans at Meadow Bridge, western Virginia. However, at the last moment Rosecans changed his direction of movement and engaged a Confederate force at Cheat Mountain, comprehensively defeating them. Union losses were 9 dead and 12 wounded while the Confederates lost nearly 100 men.
September 14th: ‘USS Colorado’ sank the ‘Judah’, which was attempting to break the Federal blockade on Southern ports.
September 15th: Confederate forces continued their efforts to capture Lexington. 3,600 Union defenders faced 18,000 Confederate troops. Colonel Mulligan, the Union commander of Lexington, waited for reinforcements unaware that all his messages to General Frémont were being read by the Confederates.
September 16th: Union reinforcements sent to Lexington were captured en route by the Confederates who knew their movements beforehand.
September 18th: Having received supplies, including ammunition, the Confederates launched a major assault on Lexington. The Union defenders were cut off from their fresh water supplies by Confederate snipers.
September 19th: Confederate forces captured the hills around Lexington thus making the city even more open to artillery attacks. An attempt to get supplies to the Union defenders via the river system failed when the Confederates captured the supply boats along with their supplies.
September 20th: Lexington finally fell to Confederate forces. Along with 1,600 prisoners, the Confederates also found $1 million – the Union forces payroll. Frémont’s perceived failure to help the Union defenders at Lexington badly counted against him in Washington DC.
September 21st: All the evidence pointed to the situation in Missouri descending into chaos. Law and order had broken down with murder a common offence, as was the destruction of property.
September 24th: Frémont shut down a newspaper printed in St Louis that questioned his leadership during the siege of Lexington. The editor of the ‘St. Louis Evening News’ was also arrested.
September 27th: McClellan responded to the public’s overwhelming desire for him to launch an offensive against Confederate forces near Washington. McClellan discussed his strategy with President Lincoln. McClellan based his future strategy on highly inflated figures regarding the strength of Confederate forces near the capital. He told Lincoln that there were 150,000 Confederate troops near Washington DC. In fact, there were probably no more than 50,000. The president was told that 35,000 men were needed to guard the city with a further 23,000 needed to guard the Potomac River. This left him with about 75,000 men to launch his campaign against Confederate forces. McClellan demanded a force of 150,000 men to give him parity with the perceived strength of the Confederates.
September 30th: Great public pressure was put on Lincoln to give his backing to an attack on Richmond led by McClellan. The president had to balance public desires with what McClellan had told him about the size of the Confederate force near the capital.
"American Civil War September 1861". HistoryLearningSite.co.uk. 2011. Web.