Black Fridays at the Start of the War

Louisville Daily Courier, Friday, May 31, 1861

As the opening acts of the Civil War played out, a pattern emerged with most of the notable events all occurring on a Friday. Some newspaper editors even dubbed the unfortunate coincidence “Black Friday,” eight years before the 1869 gold panic started to popularize the term in the American vocabulary. Larger battles and calamities would obscure some of these events, but by the end of May 1861 it seemed that one day of the week had a monopoly on the headlines.

Friday, April 12, 1861 – Bombardment of Fort Sumter

Friday, April 19, 1861 – The Pratt Street Riot in Baltimore

Friday, May 10, 1861 – The Camp Jackson Affair in St. Louis

Friday, May 24, 1861 – Occupation of Arlington Heights & Alexandria and the death of Elmer Ellsworth

Friday, May 31, 1861 – First naval engagement at Aquia Creek

Union and Confederate forces then clashed at Philippi and Big Bethel on the first two Mondays in June, breaking the streak, but the war closed out with another Black Friday on April 14, 1865, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.



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