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November 8, 2011

On this date 150 years ago, in Kentucky, pro-Unionists rose up against rebel troops in the eastern region of the state. The Confederate commander in charge there, General Felix Zollicoffer, was obliged to request reinforcements due to the disruption caused by these ardent mountaineer Unionists.

The USS "San Jacinto", under the command of Captain Charles Wilkes, stopped at Havana, Cuba, and found the two Confederate commissioners, James Mason and John Slidell, awaiting passage to Europe on the British packet "Trent". As the "Trent" sailed into open waters in the Old Bahama Channel, the "San Jacinto" forced the British vessel to stop. Wilkes demanded that Mason and Slidell be turned over to him. After this was accomplished, the "San Jacinto" sailed to Hampton Roads, Virginia, with the two commissioners under armed guard. The British captain and crew made their way back to Britain with the families of Mason and Slidell still aboard the "Trent". The incident immediately became an international "cause celebre" of such magnitude as to provoke the possibility of armed conflict between the United States and Britain.