The Civil War This Week: Sep 15-21, 1864

September 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, September 15

U.S. General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant left his headquarters at Petersburg, Virginia to discuss the military situation in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley with Major General Philip Sheridan.

Federals operated in Missouri, and skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Georgia.

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Friday, September 16

General Nathan Bedford Forrest and about 4,500 Confederate cavalrymen left Verona, Mississippi to raid Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal supply and communication lines in northern Alabama and southern Tennessee.

Ulysses S. Grant and Philip Sheridan conferred at Charles Town, West Virginia. Sheridan informed Grant that General Jubal Early’s Confederate army in the Shenandoah was depleted because a corps had been transferred to reinforce Confederates at Petersburg. Grant approved Sheridan’s plan to cut Early’s supply lines south of Winchester.

General Wade Hampton’s Confederate cavalry delivered a herd of cattle to General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia under siege at Petersburg. Hampton had raided Federal supply lines since 11 September, capturing 304 Federal prisoners and nearly 2,500 cattle consisting of almost two million pounds of beef for Lee’s hungry troops. This became known as the “beefsteak raid,” and Hampton’s cavalrymen were nicknamed the “cowboys.”

Federals operated around Morganza, Louisiana, and skirmishing occurred in Virginia.

Saturday, September 17

Radical Republican John C. Fremont withdrew his candidacy for president. Fremont still considered President Abraham Lincoln a failure, but he wanted to prevent a Republican Party split that would allow Democrat George B. McClellan to win the upcoming election. Behind the scenes, Radicals in Congress had indicated willingness to facilitate Fremont’s withdrawal in exchange for assurances from Lincoln, such as dismissing cabinet members who opposed Radical policies. Fremont’s withdrawal, along with recent Federal military victories, unified the Republican Party and gave Lincoln strong momentum in the upcoming election.

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates advanced along the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad from Stephenson’s Depot, north of Winchester, toward Martinsburg. Early had only 12,000 men to oppose about 40,000 Federals under Philip Sheridan. Despite this, Early did not place his force in a better defensive position with more adequate supply lines.

Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia and Louisiana.

Sunday, September 18

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates pulled back toward Bunker Hill, but his army was dangerously spread out. Learning of this, Philip Sheridan moved his Federals toward Winchester, hoping to attack each Confederate division separately.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote a Confederate congressman that he thought Atlanta could be recovered and that “Sherman’s army can be driven out of Georgia, perhaps be utterly destroyed.” Federal expeditions began from Barrancas, Florida; Lexington, Missouri; and on the Cimarron River in the New Mexico Territory. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

Monday, September 19

The Third Battle of Winchester occurred in the Shenandoah, as Philip Sheridan’s Federals attacked Jubal Early’s outnumbered Confederates at Opequon Creek, northeast of Winchester. Early called in all reserves, and the fight moved back and forth for nearly eight hours. Federals finally broke the thin Confederate line, and Early retreated up the Valley Pike. Federals suffered 4,018 casualties while Confederates lost 3,921. Sheridan wired Washington, “We have just sent them whirling through Winchester, and we are after them tomorrow. This army behaved splendidly.” Sheridan’s Federals began pursuing Early through the Valley.

General Sterling Price and about 12,000 Confederates invaded Missouri in a desperate attempt to free the state from Federal control. Federals skirmished with the advancing Confederates at Doniphan but could not stop them.

Confederates under Brigadier Generals Stand Watie and Richard M. Gano successfully raided a Federal wagon train at Cabin Creek in northeastern Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). The Federals lost over 200 wagons, five ambulances, 40 horses, and over 1,200 mules. The Confederates captured an estimated $1.5 million worth of food, clothing, and other supplies intended for troops and refugee Native Americans at Fort Gibson.

John Y. Beall and fellow Confederate operatives captured the Federal steamer Philo Parsons and burned Island Queen in an attack on Federal shipping on Lake Erie. Their main target was U.S.S. Michigan, which carried Confederate prisoners of war. Michigan’s commander learned of a planned prisoner uprising and arrested the ringleader. Their plot foiled, Beall burned Philo Parsons at Sandwich, Canada and retreated.

President Lincoln urged William Sherman to grant furloughs to Indiana soldiers in his army so they could go home and vote. Indiana was a crucial Republican state that did not allow absentee voting. Lincoln believed that although George McClellan was still highly popular among the troops, they would ultimately vote for their current commander-in-chief.

President Davis wrote to various southern governors that “harmony of action between the States and Confederate authorities is essential to the public welfare.” Davis urged the repeal of certain state laws requiring immigrants to either serve in the military or leave the state, arguing that such policies deprived the Confederacy of needed manpower. He suggested encouraging immigrants to serve in non-military capacities.

Federal naval forces bombarded Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor for the rest of the month, firing 494 total rounds. A Federal expedition began from Natchez, Mississippi. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia.

Tuesday, September 20

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan pursued Jubal Early, with fighting at Middletown, Strasburg, and Cedarville. By evening, Federals were fortifying on high ground north of Strasburg. Early was south of Strasburg on Fisher’s Hill, having narrowly escaped disaster.

In Missouri, Sterling Price’s Confederates captured Keytesville and then advanced on Fayette. President Davis left Richmond for Georgia to consult with officials on how best to regain Confederate momentum. Davis also sought to assure southerners that they were not yet defeated.

Skirmishing in Georgia threatened William Sherman’s delicate supply lines. Federals raided from Kentucky and eastern Tennessee into southwestern Virginia.

Wednesday, September 21

Philip Sheridan became permanent commander of the Federal Middle Military District, including the Shenandoah Valley. At Strasburg, Sheridan prepared his men to attack Early at Fisher’s Hill.

President Lincoln spoke with various political leaders and administration officials to gather support and gauge public opinion on the upcoming election. Federal expeditions began from Vicksburg, Mississippi.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 569-73

The Civil War This Week: Sep 8-14, 1864

September 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, September 8

Former U.S. General-in-Chief George B. McClellan formally accepted the Democratic nomination for president in the upcoming election. Submitting a letter to the Democratic National Committee, McClellan assured the party that he would “exhaust all the resources of statesmanship” to end the war if elected. However, he declared: “The Union is the one condition of peace… Union must be preserved at all hazards… I could not look in the face of my gallant comrades… and tell them that their labor and the sacrifice of so many of our slain and wounded brethren had been in vain…”

The letter infuriated “Peace” Democrats who sought peace at any price, even if it meant southern independence. But with the election less than two months away, there was no time to find a suitable replacement that shared their views. Recent Federal military successes also undermined the peace agenda and hurt the Democrats’ chance for victory.

A Federal army-navy expedition destroyed 55 furnaces at Mobile Bay, Alabama. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

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Friday, September 9

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet discussed the complex issue of trading with the Confederates. The administration was gradually allowing more trade to take place.

Federal expeditions began from Mobile Bay, Alabama; Fort Pike, Louisiana; and various points in Arkansas.  Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Missouri.

Saturday, September 10

Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Sunday, September 11

Federal expeditions began at various points in Missouri, and another expedition began from Fort Rice in the Dakota Territory to relieve a settlers’ train. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory.

Monday, September 12

President Lincoln and General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant expressed dismay about what Lincoln called a “dead lock” in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Neither the Federals under General Philip Sheridan nor the Confederates under General Jubal Early seemed to be making progress against each other around Winchester.

A Federal expedition began from Fayetteville, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Missouri.

Tuesday, September 13

President Lincoln responded to a political serenade but made no policy statements. A Federal expedition began from Morganza, Louisiana. Skirmishing increased in the Shenandoah, and it also occurred in Missouri and Arkansas.

Wednesday, September 14

In the Shenandoah, General Richard H. Anderson’s Confederate corps left Jubal Early’s army to reinforce the Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg. This seriously depleted Early’s force. Pressure increased on Philip Sheridan’s Federals to break Early’s hold on the Shenandoah and his threat to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.

Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Missouri.

—–

Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 568-69

The Civil War This Week: Sep 1-7, 1864

September 2, 2014 1 comment

Thursday, September 1

The Battle of Jonesboro continued outside Atlanta, as Confederates fended off several Federal attacks while trying to maintain control of the Macon & Western Railroad. However, a massive Federal assault finally broke the Confederate line, destroyed two brigades, and led to the capture of hundreds of prisoners.

Two days of fighting at Jonesboro resulted in at least 1,450 Federal casualties and an unknown number of Confederate losses. This evening, the Confederate Army of Tennessee withdrew to regroup at Lovejoy’s Station. The Confederate defeat meant that only one railroad line remained to feed the starving soldiers and civilians in Atlanta.

General John Bell Hood, commanding the Confederate Army of Tennessee ordered the evacuation of Atlanta. Confederate cavalry burned supplies that could not be evacuated, including seven locomotives, 81 rail cars, 13 siege guns, and many shells. The fires raged for hours and sparked massive explosions.

In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Major General Philip Sheridan regrouped his Federal Army of the Shenandoah to launch an offensive. The Federals had been stalemated with General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley around Winchester.

Federal expeditions began in Missouri and California. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Arkansas.

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Friday, September 2

Federals entered Atlanta unopposed. Mayor James M. Calhoun and a city delegation formally surrendered the city to Major General Henry Slocum.

Philip Sheridan planned to advance up the Shenandoah Valley as skirmishing in the region increased.

President Abraham  Lincoln spoke with various political leaders and administration officials to gather support and gauge public opinion about the upcoming election.

General Robert E. Lee, commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under siege at Petersburg, wrote to Confederate President Jefferson Davis about the dangerous manpower shortage: “Our ranks are constantly diminishing by battle and disease, and few recruits are received; the consequences are inevitable…” Lee urged the Confederate government to restrict exemptions to the conscription law. He also supported allowing blacks to be substituted for whites “in every place in the army or connected with it when the former can be used.”

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Saturday, September 3

Major General William T. Sherman, commanding the Federal Army of the West, wired Washington at 6:00 a.m.: “Atlanta is ours, and fairly won.” News of Atlanta’s capture sparked joyous celebrations throughout the North, along with 100-gun salutes in Washington and dozens of other cities.

President Lincoln declared 5 September a day of celebration for the victories at Atlanta and Mobile Bay. The capture of Atlanta strengthened the Federal fighting spirit and immediately shifted momentum in the upcoming presidential election to Lincoln. Conversely, the loss of Atlanta demoralized the South, and crucial industrial resources in the heart of the Confederacy were lost.

In the Shenandoah, a corps from Jubal Early’s Confederate army left to reinforce General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates at Petersburg. The corps accidentally clashed with a corps from Philip Sheridan’s Federal army, revealing Sheridan’s intention to invade the Valley against Early’s depleted force.

President Davis tried gathering troops to reinforce John Bell Hood’s struggling Confederate Army of Tennessee. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri.

Sunday, September 4

Famed Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan was killed by a Federal raiding party in Greenville, Tennessee. Morgan’s headquarters were raided by Federals emulating his own tactics, and Morgan was shot trying to reach his troops. The legend and terror of John Hunt Morgan would be long remembered in poems, songs, and stories.

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals moved to cut the Confederate supply lines south of Winchester. Jubal Early countered by advancing along the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad from Stephenson’s Depot, north of Winchester, toward Martinsburg. Early had only 12,000 men to oppose some 40,000 Federals.

President Lincoln replied to a letter from Eliza P. Gurney of the Society of Friends: “The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance.”

A third major Federal bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor ended after 60 days. The attack included 14,666 rounds fired that inflicted 81 casualties. Confederates attacked steamers on the White River in Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Monday, September 5

In the Shenandoah, portions of Philip Sheridan and Jubal Early’s armies clashed near Stephenson’s Depot, north of Winchester.

Louisiana voters approved the new state constitution, which included abolishing slavery. Swearing loyalty to the U.S. was required to vote.

Tuesday, September 6

A Maryland state convention adopted a new state constitution that also included the end of slavery.

Lieutenant General Richard Taylor assumed command of the Confederate Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. An eighth minor Federal bombardment of Fort Sumter began with 573 rounds fired. A Federal expedition began from Morganza, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas.

Wednesday, September 7

William T. Sherman wrote to Confederate General John Bell Hood, “I have deemed it to the interest of the United States that the citizens now residing in Atlanta should remove, those who prefer it to go South and the rest North.” Sherman ordered all residents who had not already fled Atlanta to evacuate to make the city safer for Federal troops.

Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun called Sherman’s order “appalling and heartrending.” Hood angrily called it “studied and ingenious cruelty.” Sherman replied, “You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.”

In the Shenandoah, portions of Philip Sheridan and Jubal Early’s armies skirmished near Brucetown and Winchester. A Federal expedition began from Lake Natchez, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 564-568

The Civil War This Week: Aug 25-31, 1864

August 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, August 25

The Second Battle of Ream’s Station occurred outside Petersburg, as Confederates launched a surprise attack on Federals destroying the rails. The Federals quickly broke in confusion and panic, and the famed Second Corps was permanently shattered. Federals suffered 3,492 casualties (some 2,000 of which were captured). Confederates captured thousands of prisoners and nine artillery pieces. However, this Confederate victory did little to stop the overall gradual westward extension of the Federal siege lines around Petersburg.

In the Shenandoah Valley, General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley threatened to launch another invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania since Major General Philip H. Sheridan’s Federal Army of the Shenandoah was in an impregnable position at Harpers Ferry. Fighting erupted at various points, but the Potomac River fords were heavily guarded by Federals, preventing Early from crossing.

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West began its major move to cut off Atlanta completely. Federals marched toward the city’s south side toward Jonesboro.

C.S.S. Tallahassee ran the Federal blockade at Wilmington after a three-week cruise in which she captured 31 Federal ships. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana and Missouri.

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Friday, August 26

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates withdrew toward Bunker Hill and Stephenson’s Depot after finding no way to either attack Philip Sheridan’s Federals or cross the Potomac. Fighting erupted at various points.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federals threatened the last supply lines in and out of Atlanta still controlled by General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee. Fighting erupted at various points.

Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana.

Saturday, August 27

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates withdrew to Bunker Hill and Stephenson’s Depot, with fighting erupting at various points.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federals established positions southwest of Atlanta as they prepared to continue south before swinging east toward Jonesboro to cut John Bell Hood’s last railroads in and out of the city. Fighting erupted at various points.

A Federal expedition against Native Americans began from Fort Boise in the Idaho Territory, with several skirmishes from today through the fall. A Federal expedition began from Little Rock and Devall’s Bluff, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky and the Indian Territory.

Sunday, August 28

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals advanced to Charles Town, West Virginia with no opposition after Jubal Early’s withdrawal.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s three Federal armies closed in on the Montgomery & Atlanta (or West Point) Railroad. Fighting erupted at various points.

Federal plans to destroy Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor by exploding a raft filled with explosives failed when the blast caused little or no damage to the fort. Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Monday, August 29

Major General Sterling “Pap” Price, commander of the Confederate District of Arkansas, was assigned to command an expedition intended to reclaim Missouri for the Confederacy.

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals continued advancing after winning a fight on the Opequon River. In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federals continued probing operations, with fighting erupting at various points.

The Democratic National Convention assembled in Chicago to nominate a presidential candidate that would challenge President Lincoln in the upcoming election. The party was divided between War Democrats who supported continuing the war to restore the Union and “Copperheads,” or Peace Democrats, who wanted peace at any price, even if it meant southern independence.

Democratic National Committee chairman Augustus Belmont declared, “Four years of misrule by a sectional, fanatical and corrupt party, have brought our country to the verge of ruin.” Committees formed, and former Federal General-in-Chief George B. McClellan was considered the frontrunner for the presidential nomination.

Federals suffered five killed and nine wounded when a torpedo exploded at Mobile Bay during Federal operations to remove obstructions. A Federal expedition began from Helena, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Tuesday, August 30

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals moved to threaten Winchester once more. Major General George Crook replaced the ineffective Major General David Hunter in command of the Federal Department of West Virginia under Sheridan.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federals severed one of the last two railroads in and out of Atlanta and marched rapidly toward the Macon line. John Bell Hood countered by attacking the Federal flank at Jonesboro. Fighting erupted at various points, but Sherman’s three armies were too overwhelming for the Confederates.

At the Democratic National Convention, a platform was adopted that was mostly written by the Peace Democrats. It declared that President Lincoln had violated individual rights and the Republicans had illegally assumed “war power higher than the Constitution” and as such, “justice, humanity, liberty (for) the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities with a view to an ultimate convention of the States…”

Democrats also George McClellan and former Connecticut Governor Thomas H. Seymour as candidates for the presidential nomination. Senator L.W. Powell and former President Franklin Pierce withdrew their names from consideration. McClellan was the frontrunner, even though he was a War Democrat who opposed much of the Democrats’ “peace” platform.

A Federal expedition operated to Natchez Bayou, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Arkansas.

Wednesday, August 31

At the Democratic National Convention, George McClellan was nominated for president by easily defeating Thomas Seymour. George H. Pendleton of Ohio was nominated for vice president. Rumors circulated that McClellan would repudiate the party’s “peace” platform because he favored continuing the war to restore the Union.

In Georgia, Confederates launched a frantic attack on the Federal flank near Jonesboro, but they were severely repulsed. Federals suffered 170 casualties, and Confederates lost 1,725. This Federal victory enabled them to cut the Macon & Western Railroad between Jonesboro and Atlanta. William Sherman’s big push to break John Bell Hood’s grip on the railroads worked, as Sherman seemed more interested in capturing Atlanta than in destroying Hood’s army.

Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 560-564

 

The Civil War This Week: Aug 18-24, 1864

August 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, August 18

The Battle of the Weldon Railroad occurred outside Petersburg, as Federals moved west against the Confederate right and seized part of the vital railroad line. However, when the Federals moved toward Petersburg, they were repulsed by General A.P. Hill’s Confederates. Federals suffered 836 casualties.

In Georgia, General Judson Kilpatrick’s Federal cavalry began raiding Lovejoy’s Station; efforts to destroy the Macon & Western Railroad were largely unsuccessful. Meanwhile, General John Schofield’s Federal Army of the Ohio pushed forward along Utoy Creek. This was an effort to provide a pivot that Major General William T. Sherman could use to swing his Federal armies east and cut supply lines south of Atlanta.

Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant refused for the second time to exchange Confederate prisoners of war, arguing that doing so would give the Confederacy more manpower to continue the war. Confederate officials had requested resuming prisoner exchange not only to secure more manpower, but also because they lacked the resources to feed, clothe, and shelter the Federal prisoners in southern camps.

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Arkansas.

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Friday, August 19

The Battle of Weldon Railroad continued outside Petersburg, as Confederates attacked the Federals in dense woods and forced them to withdraw to Globe Tavern after suffering some 2,900 casualties, most of whom were captured. However, Federals maintained control of the railroad, and Confederates continued attempts to dislodge them.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federal reconnoitered around Atlanta, with fighting erupting at various points.

Federal President Abraham Lincoln told an interviewer, “I cannot but feel that the weal or woe of this great nation will be decided in the approaching canvas.”

A Federal expedition began on the Republican River in Kansas. Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi.

Saturday, August 20

Outside Petersburg, Confederates suspended major efforts to recapture the Weldon Railroad. Confederate President Jefferson Davis expressed distress over the Federal capture of the rail line.

Federals probing Confederate defenses north of the James River returned to Petersburg, having failed to create a diversion near Richmond. In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Major General Philip Sheridan’s Federal Army of the Shenandoah continued sparring with General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley, with fighting erupting at various points.

In Georgia, fighting erupted at Lovejoy’s Station outside Atlanta. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Missouri.

Sunday, August 21

General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s 2,000-man Confederate cavalry force occupied Memphis after a daring raid in which they nearly captured two Federal major generals. The Confederates ultimately pulled back with minimal losses. The Memphis raid frustrated and demoralized the Federals, as Forrest continued raiding William Sherman’s Federal supply lines virtually uncontested, and Federal efforts to stop him were largely unsuccessful.

Confederates launched a final attack on Federals holding the Weldon Railroad outside Petersburg, but it failed to dislodge them. The Confederates returned to their original siege lines, acknowledging the loss of the Weldon Railroad as a supply line for Richmond and Petersburg. Federals suffered a total of 4,455 casualties from 18-21 August, and Confederates lost some 1,600.

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early planned to attack while Philip Sheridan’s Federals pulled back to Harpers Ferry in a nearly impregnable position. The Valley was once more largely free of Federals. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri.

Monday, August 22

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates demonstrated against Philip Sheridan’s Federals at Harpers Ferry.

President Lincoln told the 169th Ohio, “The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel” as opportunity under a free government. A Federal expedition began from Helena, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Maryland, Georgia, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

Tuesday, August 23

Confederate defenders at Fort Morgan surrendered to Federals; this was the last major Confederate battery at the entrance to Mobile Bay. Confederate retained control of Mobile, but the bay was now closed to Confederate shipping. Only Wilmington, North Carolina remained as a major Confederate seaport to receive vital supplies from blockade-runners.

Federals destroyed track on the Weldon Railroad outside Petersburg, and President Davis expressed apprehension over loss of the railroad and other supply lines. In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates continued demonstrating against the Federals in the northern end of the Shenandoah.

President Lincoln asked his cabinet members to endorse a memo without reading it. The memo stated that his reelection was unlikely, and as such “it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.”

Lincoln expressed disappointment that he could be defeated by a Democrat who would cancel many of his war policies. The new president could also seek a compromise with the South, which potentially included granting southern independence or repudiating the Emancipation Proclamation.

Federal expeditions began from Ozark, Missouri; Clinton, Louisiana; and Cassville, Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Wednesday, August 24

Confederate forces were building up outside Petersburg to attack the Federals destroying the Weldon Railroad, and fighting erupted at various points.

President Lincoln responded to a request from Henry J. Raymond, Republican Party chairman and New York Times editor, to negotiate peace with President Davis. Lincoln authorized Raymond to proceed with the understanding that the war could not end without “restoration of the Union and the national authority.”

Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 556-560

The Civil War This Week: Aug 11-17, 1864

August 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, August 11

In Virginia, General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley withdrew south up the Shenandoah toward Cedar Creek. This was in response to Major General Philip H. Sheridan’s new 37,000-man Federal Army of the Shenandoah advancing on Winchester.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis told General Robert E. Lee, commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under siege at Petersburg, “It is thought idle to attack your entrenchments but feasible to starve you out.”

Federal expeditions began from Rome, Georgia; Johnson County, Missouri; and Kent’s Landing, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Arkansas. Federals operated against Native Americans in the Nebraska Territory and skirmished with Natives in the Colorado Territory.

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Friday, August 12

C.S.S. Tallahassee captured six more ships off New York, and panic spread along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coasts.

In Washington, various politicians (including Republican boss Thurlow Weed) warned President Abraham Lincoln he would be defeated in the upcoming election.

Skirmishing occurred in Alabama, Missouri, and Arkansas. Federals operated against Natives in the New Mexico and Colorado territories.

Saturday, August 13

Federals demonstrated north of the James River and east of Richmond. The goal was to divert attention from Petersburg and to probe or take Confederate defenses.

In the Shenandoah Valley, Federals encountered resistance near Cedar Creek.

Pro-Confederates operated in the Shawneetown area on the Ohio River in Illinois. Skirmishing occurred in Florida, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Sunday, August 14

Skirmishing occurred in the Shenandoah Valley, outside Atlanta, and in Mississippi.

Monday, August 15

In the Shenandoah Valley, Philip Sheridan began withdrawing his Federals from Cedar Creek to Winchester out of concern he could not hold his line or properly supply his army. Confederate defenders repulsed Federal probes north of the James River near Richmond.

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West continued advancing along Utoy Creek outside Atlanta, fighting along the way. Confederate cavalry raided the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad.

Lieutenant General Richard Taylor, son of former President Zachary Taylor, was assigned to command the Confederate Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.

Federals captured the British-built Confederate cruiser Georgia off Lisbon, Portugal. Georgia had been sold to a British ship owner and had been disarmed. A Federal expedition began from Triana, Alabama. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Arkansas.

Tuesday, August 16

In the Shenandoah Valley, Philip Sheridan’s Federals withdrew toward Winchester without Jubal Early’s knowledge. Federal attacks north of the James River near Richmond were repulsed. In Georgia, General Judson Kilpatrick’s Federal cavalry raided around Atlanta.

C.S.S. Tallahassee captured four schooners and a bark off New England. Federals moved into Kentucky from Indiana to conduct operations. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Kansas.

Wednesday, August 17

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early learned that Philip Sheridan’s Federals had withdrawn and advanced north to pursue them. However, Federal cavalry protected the main army at Winchester.

President Lincoln told General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant, commanding the Army of the Potomac besieging Petersburg, “… Hold on with a bull-dog gripe (sic), and chew & choke, as much as possible.”

Confederates captured the Federal steamer Miller on the Arkansas River near Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia and Mississippi.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 554-556

The Civil War This Week: Aug 4-10, 1864

August 4, 2014 1 comment

Thursday, August 4

Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant left headquarters at City Point, Virginia for Washington to discuss how to deal with General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley operating in the Shenandoah, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

In Georgia, Major General John Schofield’s Federal Army of the Ohio (part of General William T. Sherman’s Army of the West) crossed Utoy Creek in Sherman’s effort to extend his lines around Atlanta and cut the Macon & Western Railroad line.

Federals resumed bombarding Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The shelling lasted until 23 August but with lower intensity than prior bombardments. Federal expeditions began from Natchez, Mississippi and Brazos Santiago, Texas. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

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Friday, August 5

The Battle of Mobile Bay occurred in Alabama, as Federal Rear Admiral David G. Farragut’s naval fleet invaded the bay. The Federal ships were immediately fired upon from Forts Gaines and Morgan, and the ironclad Tecumseh was sunk by a floating mine (i.e, torpedo). When this slowed Federal momentum, Farragut angrily shouted, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” The remaining ships passed the forts with minimal damage and captured the vital Confederate port.

Federals suffered 319 casualties and Confederates lost 302. Northern morale, which had been at its lowest point of the war, was greatly boosted by this sensational Federal victory.

In Georgia, General William Hardee’s Confederate corps established strong defensive positions on a ridge near Utoy Creek outside Atlanta. Meanwhile, John Schofield regrouped his Federals and prepared to attack.

The Wade-Davis Manifesto was published in the New York Tribune; this was in response to President Abraham Lincoln’s veto of the controversial Wade-Davis Reconstruction Bill last month. The manifesto accused Lincoln of attempting to make, not execute, laws and declared that “the authority of Congress is paramount and must be respected.” Lincoln’s veto was bitterly denounced as a “stupid outrage” that was done for political, not practical reasons. This was one of the most vitriolic denunciations of a sitting president by members of Congress in American history. It threatened to split the Republican Party before the upcoming elections between the Radicals supporting the manifesto and the conservatives supporting Lincoln.

Jubal Early’s Confederates entered Maryland once more and fought several minor engagements. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Saturday, August 6

The Battle of Utoy Creek occurred in Georgia as John Schofield’s Federals attacked Confederate defenses on a ridge near the creek. The Confederates, led by the famous Orphan Brigade, repulsed the attacks, and the Federals withdrew after suffering heavy losses. The Federals soon resumed their flanking efforts instead of direct attacks.

Confederates evacuated Fort Powell, which guarded a secondary entry to Mobile Bay, after heavy Federal bombardment.

Jubal Early’s Confederates eluded Federal pursuers once more and crossed the Potomac River back into Virginia after raiding Hancock, Maryland. Federal expeditions began from Saline County, Missouri and Little Rock, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana.

Sunday, August 7

Confederates agreed to surrender Fort Gaines in Mobile Bay after the Federal capture of the port on 5 August.

In Georgia, John Schofield’s Federals began moving around the Confederate flank at Utoy Creek. Schofield pushed his Federals forward along the creek to provide a pivot that William Sherman could use to swing east and cut the supply lines south of Atlanta. As Confederates were compelled to withdraw to stronger positions, pressure on the city increased.

Major General Philip H. Sheridan was assigned to command the new Federal Middle Military Division. The Division included all four military departments around Washington, West Virginia, and the Shenandoah. In Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck, and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton conferred with President Lincoln.

A Federal expedition began from Independence, Missouri. Confederates raided Union City, Tennessee. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Florida, Mississippi, and the Colorado Territory.

Monday, August 8

Confederates surrendered Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island in Mobile Bay.

Federal expeditions began from Salina, Kansas; on the Little Missouri in the Dakota Territory; and Camp Anderson, California. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Tuesday, August 9

A massive explosion occurred at the Federal supply depot near Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters at City Point, Virginia. Grant’s orderly and 57 others were killed, 126 were wounded, and heavy property damage was incurred. It was later learned that the explosion was caused by a Confederate spy. Grant wired Washington that casualties were inflicted and that “damage at the wharf must be considerable.”

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman informed Washington that he was “too impatient for a siege” of Atlanta and began shelling the city with over 5,000 artillery rounds. Several civilians, including women and children, were killed in the bombardment.

President Lincoln wrote to General Nathaniel Banks, commanding the Federal Department of the Gulf, that he was anxious for Louisiana voters to approve the new state constitution. Lincoln also wrote New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley allowing him to publish correspondence between the Lincoln administration and Confederate envoys regarding peace negotiations, except for some excerpts that Lincoln thought too sensitive to reveal.

Federals began building up siege lines around Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay. A Federal expedition began from La Grange, Tennessee. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Wednesday, August 10

General Joseph Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry began raiding Federal railroad, communications, and other supply lines in northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee.

C.S.S. Tallahassee captured seven prizes off Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Three small Federal vessels suffered severe damage during a two-day duel with Confederate artillery at Gaines’ Landing, Arkansas on the Mississippi.

A Federal expedition began from Morganza, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Florida, and Mississippi.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971) p. 551-554

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