The Civil War This Week: Jul 21-27, 1864

Thursday, July 21

In Georgia, Confederate General John Bell Hood, commanding the Confederate Army of Tennessee, directed corps commander William Hardee to conduct a 15-mile night march to attack the flank and rear of General James McPherson’s Federal Army of the Tennessee advancing on Atlanta from the east. Meanwhile, the Confederate defensive line at Peachtree Creek was broken, and after hard fighting, the Federals captured Bald Hill. The Federals now occupied the high ground overlooking Atlanta.

A Federal expedition began from Barrancas, Florida. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana and Missouri.


Friday, July 22

The Battle of Atlanta occurred as William Hardee’s exhausted Confederates attacked James McPherson’s flank south of the Georgia Railroad between Decatur and Atlanta. Fighting surged back and forth all afternoon, with the Federals holding their position. McPherson was killed while trying to escape from Confederate skirmishers he had inadvertently ridden upon. He was replaced by Major General John A. “Blackjack” Logan, who rallied the Federals in a massive counterattack. A final Confederate charge was repulsed, and John Bell Hood ordered a withdrawal. Federals suffered 3,722 casualties while Confederates lost up to 10,000.

In five days as army commander, Hood had launched two attacks that not only failed to dislodge the Federals from around Atlanta, but cost more lives than former commander Joseph E. Johnston had lost in over two months. Hood blamed Hardee for the defeat, even though Hood was not present during the fighting. The Confederates fell back to defenses around Atlanta, and Federal President Abraham Lincoln offered overall Federal commander William T. Sherman his “profoundest thanks to you and your whole Army for the present campaign so far.”

In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley withdrew to the Strasburg area while Federals gathered at Winchester. The Federal Sixth Corps, detached from the Army of the Potomac to confront Early, returned to Washington.

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Saturday, July 23

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates turned northward to attack Federals under General George Crook at Kernstown, near the site where Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates had won in 1862. Sharp skirmishing ensued.

In Louisiana, a pro-U.S. convention adopted a State constitution abolishing slavery without compensating former slaveholders. This fulfilled one of the Lincoln administration’s conditions for returning Louisiana to the U.S. Citizens who swore loyalty were allowed to vote on whether to approve the new constitution; the election was scheduled for 5 September.

Skirmishing occurred in Florida, Missouri, and the New Mexico Territory.

Sunday, July 24

The Second Battle of Kernstown occurred in the Shenandoah, as Jubal Early’s Confederates defeated Federals and sent them fleeing in panicked retreat toward Harpers Ferry. The Confederates pursued northward.

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

Monday, July 25

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates pursued the Federals in heavy rain to Bunker Hill, north of Winchester, where fighting ensued. The Federals encamped on the Potomac River.

President Lincoln wrote to Abram Wakeman that the upcoming presidential election “will almost certainly be no other than a contest between a Union and Disunion candidate, disunion certainly following the success of the latter.” Skirmishing occurred in Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Tuesday, July 26

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates fought retreating Federals at various points as they crossed the Potomac into Maryland.

Major General Dabney H. Maury replaced General Stephen D. Lee as commander of the Confederate Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. Federal expeditions began from Searcy, Arkansas and from Johnson County, Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Wednesday, July 27

In Georgia, William Sherman dispatched Federal cavalry to cut the railroads south of Atlanta and harass the Confederate supply and communication lines. Sherman replaced John Logan as Army of the Tennessee commander with Major General Oliver O. Howard. This prompted General Joseph Hooker to resign because he believed he had been passed over. The change also caused resentment among Logan’s supporters.

Jubal Early’s Confederates destroyed railroads and prepared to cross the Potomac once more. General Henry W. Halleck assumed command of the Federal departments around Washington concerned with defending the city.

In Virginia, the Federal Second Corps under General Winfield Scott Hancock and two cavalry divisions under General Philip Sheridan crossed the James River to probe for a possible invasion of Richmond. This was also intended to ease the Confederate hold on Petersburg. Confederate defenders put up fierce resistance.

Federal Rear Admiral David G. Farragut began conducting naval reconnaissances around Mobile Bay, Alabama as he developed a plan to attack the vital Confederate seaport.

Federals continued a heavy bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. A Federal expedition began from Norfolk, Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, Florida, Missouri, and Arkansas.


Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 543-547

Categories: Uncategorized

The Civil War This Week: Jul 14-20, 1864

Thursday, July 14

The Battle of Tupelo occurred in Mississippi, as Confederates under Generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and Stephen D. Lee attacked Federal cavalry along a ridge at Harrisburg. The attack was repulsed, but the Federals failed to achieve their goal of destroying Forrest’s command. Federals suffered 674 casualties while Confederates lost 1,347.

General Jubal Early’s Confederates arrived at Leesburg, Virginia after raiding Maryland and Washington, D.C. The Lincoln administration faced stern criticism for allowing Early to escape back into Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas.


Friday, July 15

Federal cavalry under A.J. Smith withdrew from Tupelo, Mississippi despite yesterday’s victory. Smith cited supply shortages as the reason. This once again allowed Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates to wreak havoc in northern Mississippi and southwestern Tennessee. The Confederates pursued Smith but could not provoke a major battle.

A Federal expedition began from Jacksonville, Florida. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Missouri.

Saturday, July 16

In Georgia, General Joseph E. Johnston established Confederate defenses behind Peachtree Creek, a tributary of the Chattahoochee River just five miles from Atlanta. General William T. Sherman, commanding three Federal armies opposing Johnston, wired Washington, “We now commence the real game for Atlanta.” Sherman prepared to move his armies across the Chattahoochee, and Johnston waited for them to separate so he could attack. Meanwhile, Confederates strengthened their defenses along the Atlanta & Decatur Railroad.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote General Johnston, “… I wish to hear from you as to present situation and your plan of operations so specifically as will enable me to anticipate events.” Johnston replied, “As the enemy has double our number, we must be on the defensive…” As panicked citizens began evacuating Atlanta, Davis believed that giving up the city without a fight was unacceptable.

Federal President Abraham Lincoln dispatched his secretary, John Hay, to New York to determine if a Confederate peace overture was legitimate. A Confederate envoy had indicated to Lincoln through New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley that he may be willing to negotiate peace.

Jubal Early’s Confederates began returning to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, South Carolina, and Mississippi.

Sunday, July 17

This evening, Joseph Johnston received a telegram: “You are hereby relieved from the command of the Army and Department of Tennessee, which you will immediately turn over to General (John Bell) Hood.” Johnston had maneuvered brilliantly against William Sherman’s overwhelming Federal forces, but he had consistently retreated, and Hood was considered a more aggressive fighter. Meanwhile, Federals continued building pontoon bridges to cross the Chattahoochee River and advance on Atlanta.

President Lincoln wrote to General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant overseeing the Federal siege of Petersburg, Virginia. Having suffered a terrible number of casualties since May, Lincoln hoped that Grant “may find a way that the effort shall not be desparate (sic) in the sense of great loss of life.”

Federal expeditions began from Columbus, Kentucky and from the South Platte River in the Colorado Territory. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Missouri.

Monday, July 18

New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley and President Lincoln’s secretary John Hay arrived at Niagara Falls and met with J.R. Gilmore, a consultant to President Davis. Gilmore insisted that any peace terms must include recognizing Confederate independence. When Gilmore was told that this was unacceptable (Lincoln insisted on restoring the Union and ending slavery), the peace talks dissolved.

President Lincoln issued a call for 500,000 more volunteers to refill the depleted ranks following the devastating combat in Virginia. In Georgia, John Bell Hood replaced Joseph Johnston as commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee. Fighting erupted along the Chattahoochee River as the Federals continued crossing.

President Davis appointed Charleston merchant George Trenholm as the new treasury secretary, replacing Christopher Memminger. Trenholm reluctantly accepted. A Federal expedition began to the Pinal Mountains in the Arizona Territory. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia.

Tuesday, July 19

William Sherman’s Federals–mainly General George Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland–advanced along Peachtree Creek, north of Atlanta. General John Schofield’s Federal Army of the Ohio also advanced on Atlanta from farther east. General James McPherson’s Federal Army of the Tennessee was east of Atlanta near Decatur. New Confederate commander John Bell Hood prepared to attack Thomas’s Federals along Peachtree Creek while they were separated from Schofield and McPherson.

Jubal Early’s Confederates clashed with Federals near the Shenandoah Valley. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory.

Wednesday, July 20

The Battle of Peachtree Creek occurred outside Atlanta after several Confederate delays and miscommunications. Fierce assaults against George Thomas’s Federals were initially successful but ultimately repulsed with heavy losses. When it was learned that James McPherson’s Federals were advancing from the east, the Confederates withdrew. Federals suffered 1,779 casualties while Confederates lost 4,796.

John Bell Hood blamed corps commander William Hardee for delays and lack of aggression in the defeat at Peachtree Creek. While Joseph Johnston had worked to preserve Confederate manpower, Hood suffered tremendous casualties that could not be replaced. William Sherman’s Federals now controlled nearly half of Atlanta’s outer perimeter; the only open routes remaining were to the south and southwest.

A third major bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor reduced the fort to rubble. In the 14-day bombardment, the Federals fired 4,890 rounds at Sumter, mortally wounding Commandant J.C. Mitchel. But the defenders refused to surrender.

Jubal Early’s Confederates clashed with Federals at Stephenson’s Depot, just north of Winchester, Virginia. A Confederate brigade broke, and some 250 Confederates were captured. Early continued withdrawing southward toward Strasburg.

A Federal expedition began from Fort Boise in the Idaho Territory. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri.


Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 539-543

The Civil War This Week: Jul 7-13, 1864

Thursday, July 7

Federal troops were hurried to Washington and Maryland to protect against a potential Confederate invasion led by General Jubal Early.

In Charleston Harbor, Federals abandoned James Island after a Confederate counterattack and returned to Navy transports. Meanwhile, 784 Federal rounds were fired into Fort Sumter in another major bombardment.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis informed General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Confederate Army of Tennessee, that he was “more apprehensive for the future” due to Johnston’s continuous withdrawals toward Atlanta, Georgia. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas.


Friday, July 8

Federal President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation explaining his veto of the controversial Wade-Davis Reconstruction Bill. Lincoln argued that the bill was improperly dictatorial, that Congress had no authority to abolish slavery except by constitutional amendment, and that the bill would undermine reconstruction efforts already underway in Louisiana and Arkansas.

In Georgia, Major General John Schofield’s Federal forces crossed the Chattahoochee River, threatening Joseph Johnston’s Confederate right flank. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Saturday, July 9

The Battle of Monocacy occurred in Maryland, as Jubal Early’s Confederates routed a makeshift Federal force attempting to block the path to Washington. Although the Federals were defeated, they stalled the Confederate advance long enough for defenses to be prepared around the capital. Meanwhile, Confederates collected $200,000 in ransom from the officials of Frederick, Maryland.

In Virginia, Major General George Meade ordered the construction of regular Federal siege lines around Petersburg to increase pressure on General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. In Georgia, Joseph Johnston’s Confederates withdrew across the Chattahoochee River as Federals attempted to move around their right flank. President Davis dispatched General Braxton Bragg to Georgia to observe Johnston.

President Lincoln responded to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley’s suggestion that the Confederates might be willing to negotiate peace. Lincoln stated that anyone representing the Confederacy who sought to restore the U.S. and acknowledge an end to slavery would be welcomed at the White House.

Sunday, July 10

Jubal Early’s Confederates slowly approached Washington, destroying railroads, warehouses, and private property along the way. President Lincoln and his family returned from the Soldier’s Home on Washington’s outskirts to avoid danger. Lincoln wired Baltimore officials, “Let us be vigilant but keep cool. I hope neither Baltimore or Washington will be sacked.”

Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Monday, July 11

Jubal Early’s Confederates invaded the Washington suburbs and burned the homes of prominent officials. District of Columbia militia, government clerks, and invalids were organized to defend the capital. The Confederates launched a small assault on Fort Stevens, the northernmost defense point, about five miles from the White House. President and Mrs. Lincoln visited the fort and witnessed the attack.

The Federal dollar dropped in value to 39 cents, its lowest worth of the war. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama and Mississippi.

Tuesday, July 12

Jubal Early’s Confederates began withdrawing from Washington after another unsuccessful attack on Fort Stevens. The attack was witnessed by President Lincoln, who came under enemy fire and was admonished by young officer Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “Get down, you fool!”

President Davis wrote to Robert E. Lee about Joseph Johnston’s continuous withdrawals in Georgia, “Genl. Johnston has failed and there are strong indications he will abandon Atlanta… It seems necessary to relieve him at once. Who should succeed him? What think you of (General John Bell) Hood for the position?”

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Wednesday, July 13

Jubal Early’s Confederates continued their withdrawal from Washington by hurrying toward the Potomac River at Leesburg. Early’s raid caused temporary panic in the North, but it did not relieve Federal pressure on Petersburg as he had hoped.

Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas.


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

The Civil War This Week: Jun 30-Jul 6, 1864

Thursday, June 30

Federal President Abraham Lincoln accepted the resignation of Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase. Chase had offered to resign several times before, but Lincoln opted to keep Chase in his cabinet so he would not become a rival in the upcoming presidential election. But now that Lincoln had been nominated for a second term, Chase was expendable. Lincoln wrote to Chase that “you and I have reached a point of mutual embarrassment in our official relation which it seems can not be overcome, or longer sustained, consistently with the public service.”

President Lincoln signed the Internal Revenue Act of 1864 into law. This raised Federal income taxes and import tariffs, and also imposed taxes on items such as matches and photographs. These taxes were considered an emergency wartime measure.

In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley continued advancing northward and arrived at New Market. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Georgia.


Friday, July 1

The Federal Senate confirmed President Lincoln’s appointment of Maine Senator William Fessenden to replace Salmon Chase as treasury secretary. Fessenden served on the Senate Finance Committee and, like most Republicans, supported higher taxes and opposed inflation.

Major General Irvin McDowell was appointed to command the Federal Department of the Pacific. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Saturday, July 2

In Georgia, General Joseph Johnston’s Confederate Army of Tennessee withdrew from Kennesaw Mountain to previously prepared defenses near Marietta. Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West was shifting around Johnston’s left flank to approach the vital industrial city of Atlanta, and Johnston’s position at Kennesaw was no longer tenable.

General Early’s Confederates reached Winchester, Virginia with little Federal opposition. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Mississippi.

Sunday, July 3

General Early’s Confederates entered Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, as a small Federal force under General Franz Sigel withdrew across the Potomac River. Northern citizens began panicking, and concern grew in Washington.

In Charleston Harbor, a Federal attempt to capture Fort Johnson from Morris Island failed, with 140 Federals captured. Also, about 5,500 Federals landed on James Island and pushed Confederate defenders back.

In Georgia, fighting erupted at General Sherman’s Federals advanced toward Marietta. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

Monday, July 4

The first session of the Thirty-Eighth Federal Congress adjourned. President Lincoln signed several bills into law, including establishing public lands in the Pacific Northwest for railroad and telegraph lines to Puget Sound; incorporating the Northern Pacific Railroad; opening land for settlement from Lake Superior to the Pacific; establishing an Immigration Commission and encouraging immigrants by guaranteeing them a 12-month labor contract; and repealing certain provisions of the Enrollment Act.

Lincoln refused to sign the controversial Wade-Davis Reconstruction Bill, which required 50 percent of a seceded state’s voters to swear allegiance to the U.S. before calling a convention to reconstruct the state under a new constitution that outlawed slavery. The bill also provided suffrage to adult black men in seceded states while prohibiting voting rights for Confederates. Lincoln believed this bill was improperly dictatorial and declared that such a measure would interfere with reconstruction efforts currently underway in Louisiana and Arkansas.

In Georgia, General Sherman’s right flank (General James McPherson’s Federal Army of the Tennessee) skirted around the Confederate left at Smyrna and reached the Chattahoochee River. General Johnston’s Confederates were forced to withdraw to another line of previously prepared defenses along the river.

General Early’s Confederates operated near Harper’s Ferry in preparation for crossing the Potomac River and invading the U.S. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Tuesday, July 5

General Early’s Confederates began crossing the Potomac River and entering Shepherdstown, Maryland. In Georgia, fighting erupted as General Sherman’s Federals probed the new Confederate defensive line. A.J. Smith’s Federal cavalry left La Grange, Tennessee to confront General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates in northern Mississippi.

In Charleston Harbor, Federals withdrew from James Island after being repulsed at Stono. The Federals returned to Navy transports.

President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus and proclaimed martial law in Kentucky in response to charges that Kentuckians were aiding “the forces of the insurgents.”

New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley informed President Lincoln that he had received a letter stating that Confederate emissaries were at Niagara Falls “with full & complete powers for a peace.” Greeley urged Lincoln to meet the emissaries, stating that “our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying country also longs for peace–shudders at the prospect of fresh conscriptions, of further wholesale devastations, and of new rivers of human blood…”

A Federal expedition began from New Madrid, Missouri.

Wednesday, July 6

General Early’s Confederates collected $20,000 from the citizens of Hagerstown, Maryland in retribution for General David Hunter’s Federal depredations in the Shenandoah. Washington officials conferred on reinforcing and defending the capital.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, and Missouri.


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

The Civil War This Week: Jun 23-29, 1864

Thursday, June 23

General Jubal Early’s newly named Confederate Army of the Valley advanced from Lynchburg, Virginia as Federals under General David Hunter withdrew into West Virginia. In one of the war’s biggest gambles, Early was to advance northward and threaten Washington to ease Federal pressure on Petersburg and Richmond.

Outside Petersburg, a Confederate attack drove off Federal cavalry that briefly held a section of the Weldon Railroad. This kept the railroad in Confederate hands and prevented the Federals from extending their lines west.

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman planned an attack on Confederate defenses at Kennesaw Mountain as weather cleared and roads dried. President Abraham Lincoln returned to Washington late this afternoon after visiting the Army of the Potomac. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi.


Friday, June 24

Federal cavalry under Major General Philip Sheridan fought off Confederate attacks while trying to return to the Army of the Potomac outside Petersburg.

Delegates to the Maryland constitutional convention approved abolishing slavery in the state.

The flag over Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor was replaced under Federal bombardment. Jo Shelby’s Confederates attacked three Federal steamers on the White River, capturing and destroying U.S.S. Queen City. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia.

Saturday, June 25

Federal engineers began digging a tunnel under Confederate lines at Petersburg that would enable them to detonate explosives beneath the enemy earthworks. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

Sunday, June 26

The flag over Fort Sumter was replaced again under Federal bombardment. Jubal Early’s 14,000 men reached Staunton, Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Monday, June 27

The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain occurred, as William Sherman lost patience with continuous flanking maneuvers and ordered a direct assault on Confederate defenses. Federals advanced on several positions, including a salient that became known as the “Dead Angle.” The Confederates easily repulsed the attacks, winning the largest battle of the campaign thus far. Federals suffered 2,051 casualties while Confederates lost just 442. Sherman was highly criticized for this ill-conceived attack.

President Lincoln formally accepted the National Union Party’s presidential nomination. The flag over Fort Sumter was replaced again under Federal bombardment. A Federal expedition began from Brownsville, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Alabama, and Missouri.

Tuesday, June 28

Jubal Early’s Confederates advanced northward down the Shenandoah Valley, causing concern among Washington officials. President Lincoln signed a bill into law repealing the Fugitive Slave Acts. In Georgia, General Joseph Johnston began preparing new defenses along the Chattahoochee River, behind the Kennesaw Mountain line. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Georgia.

Wednesday, June 29

The Battle of Ream’s Station occurred outside Petersburg, as Federals attempting to extend their lines westward were surprised by Confederates blocking their path. The Federals were almost completely surrounded before abandoning their artillery and supply wagons and fighting back to the main army line. Each side lost about 600 men.

President Jefferson Davis informed Georgia Governor Joseph Brown that he had sent Joseph Johnston “all available reinforcements, detaching troops even from points that remain exposed to the enemy.” Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas.


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

The Civil War This Week: Jun 16-22, 1864

Thursday, June 16

The Battle of Petersburg occurred, as the Federal Army of the Potomac began pouring into the region after crossing the James River and attacked Confederate defenses outside the city at 6 a.m. Some 14,000 Confederates under General P.G.T. Beauregard defended against about 50,000 Federals. The Federals captured some outposts, but they were stopped by nightfall.

Meanwhile, Federals attacked and recaptured Bermuda Hundred on the Virginia peninsula. Confederate General Robert E. Lee, still unaware that the Army of the Potomac had crossed the James, sent two divisions to retake Bermuda Hundred, which they did by 6 p.m.

In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, General David Hunter’s Federals advanced on Lynchburg. However, about 2,000 Confederates under General John Breckinridge reached the town first and prepared defenses. Confederate skirmishers slowed the Federal advance as General Jubal Early’s Confederates hurried to reinforce Lynchburg.

President and Mrs. Lincoln, along with son Tad, traveled to Philadelphia to attend the Great Central Fair benefiting the U.S. Sanitary Commission. The Lincolns were cheered as they rode up Broad Street to Chestnut Street in an open carriage. In the fair’s main address, Lincoln said, “War, at the best, is terrible, and this war of ours, in its magnitude and in its duration, is one of the most terrible… We accepted this war for an object, a worthy object, and the war will end when that object is attained.”

The Confederate War Department authorized Lieutenant Bennett H. Young to organize raiders in Canada for a potential invasion of New England.

In Georgia, Confederate General Joseph Johnston responded to Federal advances on his left by withdrawing his Army of Tennessee to Mud Creek. A Federal Army-Navy force captured five enemy schooners near the mouth of the Pamlico River, North Carolina. A Federal expedition began from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Arkansas, and Missouri.


Friday, June 17

The Battle of Petersburg continued as the Confederates withdrew to stronger defenses after midnight and repulsed more Federal attacks. The Confederates successfully counterattacked later today. Robert E. Lee finally realized that most of the Army of the Potomac was south of the James, and he ordered two corps of his Army of Northern Virginia to Petersburg.

In Georgia, the right flank of Major General William Sherman’s Federal Army of the West launched a fierce attack on Joseph Johnston’s new Confederate line at Mud Creek. The Federals made some gains against the Confederate corps under General William Hardee.

President Lincoln and family returned to Washington from their Philadelphia trip. An explosion occurred in the cartridge-manufacturing building of the Washington Arsenal, killing or mortally wounding 18 and injuring up to 20 people.

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates joined John Breckinridge’s defenders at Lynchburg to face David Hunter’s advancing Federals. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Arkansas.

Saturday, June 18

Most of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia arrived to defend Petersburg. The battle continued, but Federal attacks were repulsed due to exhaustion, poor leadership, and Confederate resolve. The 1st Maine lost 632 men, the heaviest battle loss of any regiment in the war. Four days of heavy fighting had cost another 8,150 Federal casualties without any substantial result.

Major General George Meade, commanding the Federal Army of the Potomac, ordered the Federals to dig entrenchments. Meade conceded that the “moral condition of the army” was broken after two months of continuous fighting. Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant arrived and admitted that Petersburg could not be captured by direct assault. He told his subordinates, “I have determined to try to envelop Petersburg.”

Grant resolved to surround the city and seize the five railroads and primary roads supplying Petersburg. These were the siege tactics that Grant had used at Vicksburg last year, and it initiated a new style of trench warfare. It also ended six weeks of movement and battle that had begun at the Rapidan River.

In the Shenandoah, David Hunter decided against attacking Lynchburg, convinced he was facing 20,000 Confederates. Hunter’s failure to advance on Charlottesville first as Ulysses S. Grant had urged enabled the Confederates to seize a vital railroad that threatened the Federal line of retreat. Hunter hurriedly withdrew toward Staunton.

In Georgia, Joseph Johnston’s Confederates realigned their defenses once more, forming a semicircle above Marietta along the Big and Little Kennesaw Mountains. Opposing forces skirmished at Acworth and Allatoona, as William Sherman began planning to attack this nearly impregnable defense.

A Federal expedition began from Kansas City. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Missouri.

Sunday, June 19

Famed Confederate commerce raider C.S.S. Alabama was destroyed by U.S.S. Kearsarge off Cherbourg, France. Alabama was in Cherbourg being refitted when challenged to fight by Kearsarge beyond the three-mile international boundary. Alabama sailed out to answer the challenge and opened fire shortly before 11 a.m. The ships fired as they circled each other, but soon Alabama’s superstructure was destroyed, and Captain Raphael Semmes ordered his men to abandon ship. Semmes and other survivors were rescued by nearby civilian vessels. Alabama sunk at 12:24 p.m.

The Confederacy’s most dangerous commerce raider was destroyed in the most spectacular naval battle of the war. Over nearly two years, Alabama had captured 65 ships and hundreds of Federal prisoners while traveling some 75,000 miles on the high seas. Federal officials blamed the British for Alabama’s depredations because the ship had been built in British harbors; after the war, the U.S. demanded that Britain pay $19 million in damages caused by British-built Confederate commerce raiders.

David Hunter’s Federals withdrew from the Shenandoah and moved back into the Kanawha Valley in West Virginia. Hunter had succeeded in pushing all the way to Lynchburg and prompting Robert E. Lee to dispatch Jubal Early to stop him. But Hunter had failed in joining with Philip Sheridan’s cavalry, and his retreat into West Virginia left the Shenandoah wide open for Early to launch a northern offensive.

Robert E. Lee’s Confederates continued digging entrenchments around Petersburg. In Georgia, William Sherman discovered Joseph Johnston’s new defensive line and advanced to test it despite rain and mud. A Federal expedition began from Mount Vernon, Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory.

Monday, June 20

In Georgia, William Sherman’s Federals continued probing Confederate defenses at the Kennesaw Mountains. Fighting erupted at various points. David Hunter’s Federals skirmished as they continued withdrawing from the Shenandoah.

President Lincoln left Washington with son Tad and Assistant Navy Secretary Gustavus Fox to visit the Army of the Potomac on the James River. Before leaving, he urged the Ohio governor to watch prominent Copperhead Clement Vallandigham closely and “arrest all implicated” if Vallandigham resumed organizing war protests.

Federal expeditions began from Lewisville, Arkansas; Cassville, Missouri; White River, Arkansas; and Batchelder’s Creek, North Carolina. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee.

Tuesday, June 21

Ulysses S. Grant ordered Federal cavalry to scout lines and Federal troops to extend the siege lines left toward the Appomattox River, west of Petersburg. The goal was to form a semicircle of trenches south of the city with both ends anchored on the bending Appomattox.

President Lincoln visited Grant and other Federal officers at Grant’s new headquarters at City Point on the James River. Lincoln hoped the visit would ease his concerns about the costly Virginia campaign. The men visited aboard the steamer Baltimore before Grant escorted Lincoln on a horseback tour of the Petersburg lines.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis reluctantly accepted the resignation of Treasury Secretary Christopher Memminger, telling him, “I knew of the extreme difficulty of conducting the Treasury Department during the pending struggle.” Memminger had been intensely criticized for imposing economic policies that harmed the Confederacy. However, Federal military success played a larger role in disrupting the southern economy.

In Georgia, Joseph Johnston responded to heavy Federal pressure on his left by shifting General John Bell Hood’s corps to that area of the defensive line. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee.

Wednesday, June 22

The Battle of Globe Tavern occurred outside Petersburg, as Ulysses S. Grant ordered a Federal attack where the Weldon Railroad delivered supplies from Wilmington, North Carolina and the South Side Railroad delivered supplies from Lynchburg in the Shenandoah. As Federals destroyed tracks west of Petersburg, General A.P. Hill’s Confederate corps positioned itself between two Federal units and pushed them back, taking 1,700 prisoners. This kept the Weldon Railroad in Confederate hands and prevented the Federal line from extending west.

Meanwhile, two Federal cavalry divisions headed toward Burkeville to disrupt the South Side Railroad. They were nearly annihilated, but Federals destroyed some 60 miles of track that took the Confederates substantial time to repair.

President Lincoln and General-in-Chief Grant steamed up the James River to meet with General Benjamin Butler commanding the Federal Army of the James and Admiral Samuel Lee commanding the naval squadron. Lincoln left for Washington this afternoon.

Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan assumed command of the Confederate Department of Western Virginia and Eastern Tennessee. In Georgia, John Bell Hood’s Confederates launched a strong attack near Zion Church and Culp’s Farm, but Federals ultimately repulsed the drive.


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

The Civil War This Week: June 9-15, 1864

Thursday, June 9

Delegates from the National Union Convention arrived in Washington to congratulate President Abraham Lincoln on being nominated for a second term yesterday. Lincoln expressed support for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. He added that southerners had been offered the chance to return to the U.S. without having “the overthrow of their institution,” but had refused to do so. This evening, a brass band serenaded Lincoln at the White House.

In Kentucky, General John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate raiders were driven out of Mount Sterling and pushed toward Winchester.

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman prepared his Federal Army of the West to confront the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Joseph E. Johnston defending the Lost, Pine, and Brush mountains.

Major General Benjamin Butler’s Federal Army of the James broke out of Bermuda Hundred on the Virginia peninsula but failed to capture Petersburg. Confederates had not expected an attack on Petersburg, which was defended by only about 1,000 troops. But the slow Federal advance allowed the Confederates to build defenses as men were pulled from hospitals, offices, and even military prisons. The Federal attack was poorly coordinated, and General Quincy A. Gillmore, concerned about Confederate reinforcements, ordered a withdrawal.

General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant issued orders for the Federal Army of the Potomac near Cold Harbor, Virginia to prepare defenses to cover the army’s planned crossing of the James River. Confederate President Jefferson Davis warned General Robert E. Lee, opposing Grant at Cold Harbor, “The indications are that Grant despairing of a direct attack is now seeking to embarrass you by flank movements.” Davis was also worried about the threat at Petersburg and Johnston’s failure to attack in Georgia.

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


Friday, June 10

The Battle of Brice’s Crossroads occurred between the forces of Federal General Samuel Sturgis and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest about 100 miles southeast of Memphis, Tennessee. Forrest correctly predicted that mud and hot weather would result in Federal cavalry arriving first, and he attacked while the enemy was relatively equal in numbers.

Ineffective command led to Federal disaster; the cavalry was easily defeated, and when the infantry finally arrived, the exhausted troops were quickly routed and sent fleeing in panic. The Federals suffered 2,240 casualties, including 1,623 captured, while Confederates lost only 492. This was Forrest’s greatest victory.

John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates raided Lexington, Kentucky, burning the Federal depot and stables, and capturing about 7,000 horses. Morgan’s men then broke into two columns, with Morgan’s unit advancing on Cynthiana.

In Georgia, William Sherman’s three Federal armies moved cautiously toward the mountains, with various fighting breaking out.

The combined Federal Armies of the Shenandoah and the Kanawha under Generals David Hunter and George Crook continued their advance southward up the Shenandoah Valley to Lexington and Lynchburg. To stop them, General Robert E. Lee sent Confederates under General John Breckinridge back to the Valley.

The Confederate Congress expanded the Conscription Act by increasing the military draft eligibility age range from 18 and 45 to 17 and 50.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Saturday, June 11

Samuel Sturgis’s retreating Federals fought rearguard actions at Ripley and Salem, Mississippi after their defeat at Brice’s Crossroads yesterday.

John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate column raided Cynthiana, Kentucky, capturing some 300 Federals.

Robert E. Lee dispatched General Wade Hampton and about 4,700 Confederate cavalrymen to prevent Federal General Philip Sheridan’s cavalry from joining David Hunter in the Shenandoah Valley. The Battle of Trevilian Station occurred, as dismounted Confederates attacked Federal troopers on the Trevilian road, but Confederate reinforcements under General Fitzhugh Lee did not arrive. When the Federals attacked in full force, Hampton withdrew. However, Hampton linked with Lee and attacked near Trevilian Station; their surge was met by Federal reinforcements.

David Hunter’s Federals captured Lexington amidst skirmishing. The Federals destroyed homes, barns, and farms, including most of Lexington’s livestock. They also burned the Virginia Military Institute, prompting Virginia Governor John Letcher to endorse guerrilla warfare “upon the vandal hordes of Yankee invaders.” When Hunter learned of Letcher’s proclamation, he ordered the burning of the governor’s home.

C.S.S. Alabama arrived at Cherbourg, France for refitting. The Federal Navy had long sought the dangerous and elusive raider.

Fighting broke out a various points between units of William Sherman and Joseph Johnston’s armies. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Missouri.

Sunday, June 12

This evening, the 100,000-man Federal Army of the Potomac began one of the great movements in military history by preparing to secretly cross the 2,100-foot wide James River. A token force of one corps remained at Cold Harbor to feign an attack and deceive the Confederates, which succeeded. For the first time, Robert E. Lee misunderstood Ulysses S. Grant’s strategy.

The Battle of Trevilian Station continued, as Federals under General George A. Custer attacked Wade Hampton’s Confederates west of Trevilian Station. However, Fitzhugh Lee’s Confederate troopers arrived and repulsed Custer with heavy losses. The battle was a Federal victory, but the Confederates prevented Philip Sheridan’s cavalry from linking with David Hunter in the Shenandoah Valley. Sheridan withdrew to rejoin the Army of the Potomac, moving leisurely to keep the Confederate cavalry occupied as long as possible. Federals suffered 1,007 casualties during the campaign, while Confederates lost 612.

John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates were badly defeated at Cynthiana, Kentucky. Morgan withdrew to Abingdon in southwestern Virginia. Morgan’s Kentucky raid served no significant purpose except to boost southern morale. Attempts to draw Federal manpower away from other points to defend Kentucky were generally unsuccessful.

Samuel Sturgis’s shattered Federal force continued retreating to Memphis, with fighting breaking out along the way. In Georgia, William Sherman continued positioning his troops and strengthening his supply and communication lines from Chattanooga. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

Monday, June 13

The bulk of the Federal Army of the Potomac moved rapidly from Cold Harbor toward the James River. Learning that the Federals at Cold Harbor were gone, Robert E. Lee sent troops across the Chickahominy River to guard the Richmond approaches, failing to realize that Richmond was not Ulysses S. Grant’s objective. As Lee prepared to attack the Federals outside Richmond, the Federals were crossing the James below the capital. The lead Federal unit–the Second Corps–reached the James while pontoon bridges were still under construction. Meanwhile, Grant ordered Benjamin Butler to obstruct navigation of the James by sinking old hulks in the river.

Lee, unaware of Grant’s move and concerned about David Hunter in the Shenandoah, further divided his army by sending his Second Corps under General Jubal Early west. Early was instructed to defend Lynchburg, drive Hunter from the Valley, and if possible, move north to threaten Maryland or even Washington. This would force Grant to send troops to defend the capital, thus easing Federal pressure on Richmond.

Confederate President Davis replied to complaints of neglect by General Edmund Kirby Smith in the Trans-Mississippi Department that “my ability to sustain you will be the measure of the assistance rendered to you.” There was little help Davis could offer.

Lieutenant General Richard Ewell was assigned to command the Department of Richmond. He replaced Major General Robert Ransom, Jr., who was assigned to the Department of Western Virginia.

Federal expeditions began from Morristown, Tennessee and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In Georgia, fighting erupted between units of William Sherman and Joseph Johnston’s armies. Samuel Sturgis’s defeated Federals returned to Tennessee.

Tuesday, June 14

Ulysses S. Grant transferred Eighteenth Corps to Benjamin Butler’s Army of the James via water and ordered them to attack Petersburg once more. Grant assured General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck that Petersburg would be captured before Confederate reinforcements could arrive. Meanwhile, the Army of the Potomac’s Second Corps began crossing the James, and Federals continued indicating to Robert E. Lee they intended to attack north of the James.

In Georgia, William Sherman sent Federal skirmishers forward. They were observed from the crest of Pine Mountain by Joseph Johnston and his top commanders, Generals William Hardee and Leonidas Polk. A Federal artillery shell killed Polk, the Confederates’ most beloved general. Polk’s death was a serious blow to Johnston’s command.

U.S.S. Kearsarge arrived at Cherbourg to confront C.S.S. Alabama. Kearsarge was commanded by Captain John A. Winslow, who had sailed from the Dutch coast in response to a challenge from Alabama Captain Raphael Semmes to fight.

The Confederate Congress passed a law imposing new taxes on property and income and then, due to Federal military pressure on Richmond, adjourned.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Wednesday, June 15

Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee did not heed warnings from General P.G.T. Beauregard that the Federal Army of the Potomac would target Petersburg, not Richmond. Beauregard could muster only 3,000 men to face an attacking force of about 16,000. Beauregard placed most of his troops on the eastern defense line and wired Lee to hurry to Petersburg.

Meanwhile, the lead Federal unit withdrew because its commander overestimated the city’s defenses, and Eighteenth Corps had been decimated at Cold Harbor and was reluctant to attack. After several hours of vacillation, the Federals finally advanced, but it was too late to capture Petersburg. The Federal Second Corps arrived at 7 p.m. but deferred to the Federal commanders already on the scene. Meanwhile, Confederate reinforcements began pouring into the city, and the opportunity to capture the vital railroad city was lost.

The Federal Army of the Potomac continued crossing the James River. President Lincoln wired Ulysses S. Grant, “… I begin to see it. You will succeed. God bless you all.”

In Georgia, General George Thomas’s Federal Army of the Cumberland moved around Joseph Johnston’s right flank, advancing on Kennesaw Mountain. The Federal Armies of the Tennessee and the Ohio also pressed ahead against Confederate entrenchments, and fighting occurred at various points.

Former Democratic Congressman Clement Vallandigham returned to Ohio after being exiled to the Confederacy by President Lincoln last year. Vallandigham had been banished for opposing the war and encouraging men to evade the draft. Lincoln urged the Ohio governor to watch the former congressman closely and “arrest all implicated” if Vallandigham resumed organizing war protests.

The Federal House of Representatives voted 95 to 66 to approve a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, but it failed to obtain the two-thirds majority needed for passage. The amendment had previously passed the Senate by the required two-thirds margin.

Federal evacuated Pass Cavallo, Texas. U.S.S. Lexington captured three riverboats at Beulah Landing, Mississippi. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri, the Indian Territory.


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


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 241 other followers

%d bloggers like this: