Impatient with General McClellan’s slowness in engaging Confederate forces, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln today issues an order reorganizing the Army of Virginia, in the process relieving McClellan of supreme command of Union forces. Given the command of the Army of the Potomac, McClellan is ordered to attack the Confederate capital of Richmond. Thus begins the Peninsular Campaign.
Meanwhile, naval warfare enters a new era today when the C.S.S. Virginia, the first ironclad ship of the war, engages a fleet of wooden Union warships at Hampton Roads, Virginia, destroying two vessels before retreating, with only minor wounds, as the sun begins to set. From this point forward, both navies embrace ironclad vessels.
Also today, Federal troops occupy the western Tennessee town of Savannah, greeted with cheers by the many Union-sympathizing residents of the town. Many Baptists of western Tennessee, both in Savannah and otherwise, are glad to see United States forces taking control of the state.
Sources: Presidential Executive Orders March 8, 1862 (link); “CSS Virginia destroys USS Cumberland and USS Congress, 8 March 1862” and illustration (link); “War Comes to Savannah” (link); Peggy S. Holley, “Unionists in Eastern West Tennessee 1861-1865” (link)