by William E. Welsh U.S. President Abraham Lincoln had no military experience and discarded most of Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott’s so-called Anaconda Plan, which critics deemed too conservative. So in the summer of 1861, operations began in a piecemeal fashion beyond the Alleghany Mountains and in the Virginia Peninsula. To support the Confederate war effort, President Jefferson Davis authorized privateering by hastily armed merchant ships. Successful Union joint forces expeditions occurred in North Carolina and South Carolina to establish blockade bases. This Civil War timeline is not meant to be an unabridged account of the events of late 1861, but it should provide a good framework for the key events that compose the early months of the war.  [text_ad] Summer – Winter 1861: The Beginnings of a War June 10 – A Union force of 4,400 men led by Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Pierce advanced from Fort Monroe against Colonel John B. Magruder’s 1,400 men entrenched at Big Bethel. Pierce bungled the attack, and his forces withdrew. The battle was a Confederate victory. July 11-14 – A 20,000-man army under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan moved against Confederates at Rich Mountain and Laurel Hill. Brig. Gen. William Rosecrans’ defeat of the smaller Confederate force at Rich Mountain on July 11 compelled Confederate Brig. Gen. Robert Garnett to order the retreat of forces from both positions. On July 13, Garnett was slain directing the Confederate rearguard at Carrick’s


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