Answers to Trivia from the Archives

October 2012

Q. What Kentucky battle was the climax of the Confederate “Heartland Offensive?”

A. Perryville

Harpers Weekly PerryvilleIn the summer of 1862, Confederate Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg launched an invasion of the key border state of Kentucky, hoping to divert Union attention from the Southern strongholds at Vicksburg and Chattanooga, as well as to encourage Bluegrass State volunteers to join the Rebel army. Though unsuccessful in the last regard, the Kentucky Campaign did draw Federal forces out of northern Alabama and Middle Tennessee. The Battle of Perryville occurred on October 8 as the army of Union Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell and Bragg's army attempted to secure one of the only sizeable fresh water sources in the area.  The battle was a Confederate tactical victory, though the heavy fighting and bloodshed forced the Bragg to retreat into Tennessee.

Read Maj. Gen Alexander McCook's battle report »

Q.  What Union admiral captured Mobile Bay in Alabama despite the ‘torpedoes’ protecting the bay? 

A. Rear Adm. David G. Farragut

David Glasgow FarragutDuring the War, David G. Farragut commanded the US Navy's West Gulf Blockading Squadron.  He was promoted to the rank of rear admiral after he captured New Orleans in 1862 (he was the first US Navy officer to hold that rank).  In August 1864, he led an attack on Mobile bay, which was defended by a small rebel squadron, three forts, and a field of sea mines or "torpedoes" as they were called at the time. His battle plan called for his squadron to sail through the mines, and he is popularly remembered for giving the order: "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" (although these are not Farragut's actual words).  The admiral's bold attack was successful, although he did not have enough soldiers to capture the city of Mobile itself. By securing the bay, however, he closed one of the last remaining Confederate ports to blockade-runners.

See a historic map of Mobile Bay during the Civil War »

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