The Civil War This Week: Dec 22-28, 1864

December 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, December 22

Major General William T. Sherman wired a message to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.”

The fall of Savannah ended Sherman’s march to the sea, as Federal forces now bisected the South horizontally. Sherman’s Federals had advanced 275 miles through the southern heartland while sustaining less than 2,000 casualties. In the process, Sherman had destroyed large tracts of southern property and inflicted harsh depredations upon civilians that would never be forgotten.

General William Hardee’s Confederates continued retreating northward from Savannah into South Carolina.

Federals pursued Confederates in Tennessee, with fighting on the Duck River. Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi.

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Friday, December 23

William T. Sherman began regrouping his Federals in Savannah in preparation for a northern advance into South Carolina.

A joint Federal army-navy force attacked Fort Fisher, North Carolina, which was the last Confederate seaport open to blockade-runners. Major General Benjamin F. Butler commanded the 6,500-man army force, while Rear Admiral David D. Porter commanded the massive fleet of warships and transports. Butler planned to land and detonate a scuttled ship filled with over 200 tons of explosives at Fort Fisher, hoping it would destroy the 500-man Confederate garrison.

General John Bell Hood’s Confederate rear guard and Major General George H. Thomas’s Federal pursuers skirmished near Columbia, Tennessee. A Federal expedition began from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Saturday, December 24

At Fort Fisher, the explosive ship caused no damage upon detonation. David D. Porter’s 60 ships then launched a fierce bombardment on the fort in preparation for a Federal troop landing. The Confederate defenders held under heavy fire.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to General E. Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi District, expressing great disappointment that Smith had not sent troops east to aid John Bell Hood in Tennessee. Davis requested more men once again.

The pursuit in Tennessee continued with fighting at various points. A Federal expedition began from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Arkansas.

Sunday, December 25

In North Carolina, Federal troops landed two miles north of Fort Fisher and began advancing. However,  Confederates closed in from the north, and Benjamin F. Butler ordered the Federals to return to their naval transports. The two-day Federal bombardment had resulted in over 20,000 rounds fired on the fort.

President Lincoln released the text of William T. Sherman’s 22 December message to the public. Sherman was generally praised throughout the North, but some criticized him for allowing William Hardee’s Confederates to escape.

General Sterling Price’s Confederates continued retreating from Missouri, reaching Laynesport, Arkansas. John Bell Hood’s Confederates reached the Tennessee River, with fighting at various points. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia and Mississippi.

Monday, December 26

After determining the Fort Fisher campaign was too costly in men and supplies, the Federal fleet began returning Benjamin F. Butler’s Federal troops to Fort Monroe, Virginia.

John Bell Hood’s Confederate army began crossing the Tennessee River at Bainbridge, with fighting at various points.

President Lincoln told William T. Sherman he had been “anxious, if not fearful” when Sherman left Atlanta. He congratulated Sherman for his victorious campaigns, including George H. Thomas’ destruction of Hood at Nashville.

A Federal expedition against Native Americans began in the central Arizona Territory.

Tuesday, December 27

John Bell Hood’s Confederates completed crossing the Tennessee River at Bainbridge en route for Tupelo, Mississippi. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama and Mississippi.

Wednesday, December 28

President Lincoln wired General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant requesting “what you now understand of the Wilmington (Fort Fisher) expedition, present & prospective.” Grant informed Lincoln, “The Wilmington expedition has proven a gross and culpable failure… Who is to blame I hope will be known.” This failed Federal campaign led to charges and countercharges between Benjamin F. Butler and nearly every other commander involved.

Skirmishing occurred in Alabama 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. 614-16

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

December 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, December 15

The Battle of Nashville occurred, as Major General George H. Thomas’s Federal Army of the Cumberland attacked General John Bell Hood’s depleted Confederate Army of Tennessee outside the city. Thomas had been under tremendous pressure from Washington to attack Hood, but days of freezing rain had delayed him. Thomas attacked the Confederate right first, which diverted attention from the main attack on the left. Hood’s ragged army fought valiantly but withdrew two miles by day’s end. They formed new defensive positions in anticipation of a renewed Federal attack tomorrow.

Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant ordered Major General William T. Sherman to bring his Federal Army of the West north to help defeat General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg, Virginia. Sherman furiously pleaded to continue operations against Savannah, and then proposed to advance northward to capture the Carolinas before joining against Lee. Grant agreed to Sherman’s plan.

The U.S. Senate confirmed President Abraham Lincoln’s nomination of Salmon P. Chase as the new U.S. chief justice. Chase had been Lincoln’s rival for the presidency and some viewed the appointment as a shrewd political move because Chase would serve on the Court for life. Lincoln explained he based his decision on Chase’s efforts in securing rights for blacks.

A Federal expedition began from Fort Monroe, Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia.

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Friday, December 16

Confederate General John Bell Hood | Image Credit: Flickr.com

Confederate General John Bell Hood | Image Credit: Flickr.com

The Battle of Nashville continued as Federals advanced at 6 a.m. through rain and snow. The Confederate right slowly withdrew, and a new assault in late afternoon broke the Confederate left. This was an inevitable Federal victory, as George H. Thomas reported that John Bell Hood’s army was “hopelessly broken” and it “fled in confusion.” President Lincoln wired Thomas his congratulations. Federals suffered 3,061 casualties while Confederates lost some 6,000. Hood reported, “I beheld for the first and only time a Confederate army abandon the field in confusion.”

Thomas scored one of the most decisive victories of the war, even though Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant had nearly replaced him before the battle. This ended Confederate hopes for a northern invasion, and it effectively finished the Army of Tennessee as a fighting force.

William T. Sherman resupplied his Federal forces from the sea. A Federal expedition began from Morganza, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Georgia, and Arkansas.

Saturday, December 17

James H. Wilson’s Federal cavalry began pursuing the broken Confederate Army of Tennessee toward Mississippi. John Bell Hood concentrated his remaining forces at Columbia, Tennessee, and a firm stand enabled the Confederates to withdraw through Franklin.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis informed General William Hardee, commanding Confederates in the Savannah area, that no reinforcements were available, and that Hardee should make arrangements “needful for the preservation of your Army.” Federals began surrounding Savannah, and William T. Sherman demanded Hardee’s surrender.

Skirmishing occurred in southwestern Virginia.

Sunday, December 18

Federal cavalry continued pursuing the withdrawing Confederate Army of Tennessee. News of the Battle of Nashville spread, and people in both North and South realized it was destructive to Confederate hopes.

William Hardee refused William T. Sherman’s surrender demand, but it was clear the Confederates needed to evacuate Savannah before Federals closed the northern escape routes across the Savannah River. Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, who was in Savannah with Hardee, urged immediate evacuation but Hardee expressed reluctance to leave so quickly.

A massive Federal naval fleet left Fort Monroe, Virginia bound for Fort Fisher and Wilmington in North Carolina. This was the last major Confederate seaport open to blockade-runners.

President Lincoln met with members of Congress to determine how to restore the Confederate states to the Union once the war ended. The rift between Lincoln and the Radical Republicans in Congress widened.

President Davis wrote to Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon opposing the secretary’s plan to abolish conscription, arguing the Confederacy had no time for experimentation.

Skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

Monday, December 19

Major General Philip Sheridan dispatched A.T.A. Torbert and 8,000 Federal cavalry on a four-day expedition along the Virginia Central Railroad to Gordonsville. Skirmishing occurred at Madison Court House, Liberty Mills, and Gordonsville as Confederates repulsed the Federal advance.

President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 300,000 more volunteers to replace casualties and make one final push to end the war.

Federals continued pursuing retreating Confederates in Tennessee, with fighting erupting at various points. A Federal expedition began from Kernstown, Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in Arkansas.

Tuesday, December 20

William Hardee’s Confederates evacuated Savannah across a pontoon bridge made of rice flats, just before the surrounding Federals closed the last escape route. About 10,000 troops were left, along with large quantities of cotton and artillery.

President Davis expressed alarm to P.G.T. Beauregard, noting that Federals could capture Fort Fisher and Wilmington in North Carolina. Davis had left the decisions to evacuate Savannah and Charleston to Beauregard.

Federals continued pursuing Confederates in Tennessee, with fighting at various points. Federal expeditions began from Cape Girardeau and Dallas in Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and North Carolina.

Wednesday, December 21

William T. Sherman’s Federals entered Savannah unopposed. Mayor Richard Arnold surrendered the city, and most of the 20,000 weary residents approved the surrender. Hardee’s escape greatly disappointed Sherman.

The U.S. Congress enacted a measure creating the rank of vice-admiral in the U.S. Navy. Rear Admiral David G. Farragut was considered the first nominee for the new rank.

John Bell Hood’s Confederate army continued withdrawing from Columbia toward Pulaski, Tennessee. Fatigue and swollen streams hampered the pursuing Federals. A Federal expedition began from Memphis, Tennessee. Skirmishing occurred in 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. 610-14

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

December 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, December 8

Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant expressed concern that Major General George H. Thomas’ Federals at Nashville had not yet attacked General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee outside the city. Grant informed Federal Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck, “If Thomas has not struck yet, he ought to be ordered to hand over his command to (General John) Schofield.” Halleck replied that the decision to remove Thomas was Grant’s. Grant again ordered Thomas to attack, but Thomas answered his cavalry would not be ready until 11 December.

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West skirmished at various points as the troops approached the Atlantic Coast. Other skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Missouri.

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Friday, December 9

Ulysses S. Grant prepared an order replacing George H. Thomas with John A. Schofield, but suspended the order when Thomas informed him he would attack the Confederates outside Nashville tomorrow.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federals advanced directly south of Savannah, with fighting erupting at various points. Confederate torpedoes sunk U.S.S. Otsego and a tug on the Roanoke River near Jamesville, North Carolina. Fighting erupted near Hatcher’s Run outside Petersburg, Virginia.

Saturday, December 10

A driving snowstorm struck Nashville, preventing George H. Thomas from launching his attack on Confederate positions.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federal vanguard reached Savannah, defended by some 18,000 Confederates under General William Hardee. Confederates had also flooded the surrounding rice fields to block the main approaches. As Sherman prepared to besiege Savannah, he sent Federal troops to probe nearby Fort McAllister, which guarded the Ogeechee River.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln appointed Major General William F. Smith and Henry Stanbery as special commissioners to investigate civil and military affairs on and west of the Mississippi River.

Federal expeditions began from Core Creek, North Carolina; central Arizona Territory; and Knoxville, Tennessee. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia.

Sunday, December 11

In Georgia, Federals began rebuilding King’s Bridge leading to Fort McAllister, which guarded the Ogeechee River. William T. Sherman’s forces did not cut off the escape route from Savannah north to Charleston, South Carolina.

Signal station overlooking the Ogeechee River from Fort McAllister | Image Credit: Flickr.com

Signal station overlooking the Ogeechee River from Fort McAllister | Image Credit: Flickr.com

Ulysses S. Grant again urged George H. Thomas to attack. Thomas replied he would attack when the weather improved.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia.

Monday, December 12

William T. Sherman positioned Federals between the Ogeechee and Savannah rivers, and Admiral John A. Dahlgren’s Federal naval fleet awaited contact with Sherman while moving along the coast. Confederate President Jefferson Davis frantically sought reinforcements without weakening other Confederate armies.

George H. Thomas informed Henry W. Halleck that his Federals were poised to attack as soon as the sleet melted because it was nearly impossible to advance on the icy ground.

President Lincoln wrote to General E.R.S. Canby, commanding Federals in the Gulf region, explaining that the policy in Louisiana, such as seizing cotton from Confederates was “a worthy object to again get Louisiana into proper practical relations with the nation…”

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Louisiana.

Tuesday, December 13

William T. Sherman’s Federals charged through mines and obstructions and captured Fort McAllister guarding the Ogeechee River outside Savannah. This enabled Sherman to link with the Federal naval fleet on the Atlantic and reestablish contact with Washington. Federal vessels could now steam up the Ogeechee, which made the fall of Savannah inevitable.

At Nashville, both John Bell Hood and George H. Thomas waited out the sleet storm. Ulysses S. Grant ordered General John Logan to go to Nashville and replace Thomas as Federal commander if Thomas had not attacked by the time Logan arrived. Grant then prepared to leave Virginia and go to Nashville himself.

General George Stoneman’s Federals advanced across the Holston River in Tennessee and defeated remnants of John Hunt Morgan’s old Confederate command.

Federal expeditions began from Barrancas, Florida; Morganza, Louisiana; and Devall’s Bluff, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee.

Wednesday, December 14

George H. Thomas wired that the weather had improved, and he would attack John Bell Hood’s Confederates  tomorrow. Thomas issued field orders.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis deferred to General Robert E. Lee’s judgment as to whether troops could be spared from the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under siege at Petersburg and Richmond to operate against William T. Sherman.

Federals operated near Morganza, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in 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. 607-10

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

December 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, December 1

In Tennessee, Confederate General John Bell Hood prepared to launch another attack on Federal positions at Franklin after yesterday’s devastating repulse. Hood informed Confederate officials at Richmond he had won a great victory at Franklin, prompting southern celebrations. However, those celebrations quickly ended when southerners learned of the enormous casualties. It soon became clear that Franklin had been another terrible Confederate defeat. Federals claimed to have captured 33 battle flags and documented 22.

Major General John Schofield’s Federals at Franklin withdrew north to join Major General George H. Thomas’ main force at Nashville. Hood ordered a pursuit despite Nashville being one of the most heavily fortified cities on the continent. Federals formed a semicircle of defenses south of town, with both ends anchored on the Cumberland River.

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West approached Millen, more than halfway between Atlanta and Savannah. Millen was the site of a Federal prisoner-of-war camp, and rumors spread that Federals were moving south to liberate the notorious prison camp at Andersonville.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln appointed James Speed to become the new attorney general. Speed was the brother of Lincoln’s longtime friend Joshua Speed of New Salem, Illinois. Speed would replace Edward Bates, who had resigned last month.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Missouri, and Arkansas.

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Friday, December 2

John Bell Hood’s Confederates began approaching the Federal lines outside Nashville. Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant wired George H. Thomas at Nashville: “You should attack before he (Hood) fortifies. You will now suffer incalculable injury upon your railroads if Hood is not speedily disposed of. Put forth, therefore, every possible exertion to attain this end. Should you get him to retreating, give him no peace.”

Major General Grenville M. Dodge was given command of the Department of Missouri, replacing Major General William S. Rosecrans. Like previous commanders, Rosecrans had been unable to effectively administer the department due to the contentious political factions in Missouri.

Saturday, December 3

John Bell Hood’s Confederates dug trenches in front of Federal defenses outside Nashville. Federal officials urged George H. Thomas to attack, but he waited for reinforcements to arrive.

William T. Sherman’s Federals began advancing toward Savannah on the Atlantic Coast. As the Federals advanced further into Georgia, Confederate opposition diminished and Federals’ reckless destruction of property continued. Late tonight, Confederate General Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry attacked troops guarding railroad wreckers at Waynesboro.

President Lincoln prepared his annual message to Congress and discussed the possibility of appointing former Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase to become Supreme Court chief justice.

Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Arkansas.

Sunday, December 4

In Georgia, Joseph Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry fought Federal cavalry led by Judson Kilpatrick at Waynesboro until dismounted Federals finally drove Wheeler off.

At Nashville, George H. Thomas prepared to attack and awaited reinforcements. Thomas planned a massive assault intended to destroy John Bell Hood’s Confederate army.

Federals clashed with Native Americans in Kansas. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

Monday, December 5

The second session of the Thirty-eighth U.S. Congress assembled in Washington. The Radical Republican majority in the House of Representatives barred elected legislators from Arkansas and Louisiana from taking their seats. The southerners had been sent to Washington according to the terms of President Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction issued in December 1863.

In Tennessee, John Bell Hood sent General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederate cavalry and an infantry division to Murfreesboro, carrying out three days of fighting and demonstrating.

William T. Sherman’s men skirmished at the Little Ogeechee River in Georgia.

Tuesday, December 6

President Lincoln submitted his annual message to Congress. He noted that higher taxes were needed to finance the $1.74 billion war debt. Lincoln also pointed to growing immigration and industry by stating, “The important fact remains demonstrated that we have more men now than we had when the war began… that we are gaining strength, and may, if need be, maintain the contest indefinitely…”

According to Lincoln, the November elections indicated that the war must continue until the Union was restored. He requested that Congress reconsider passing the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery; the amendment had passed the Senate but failed in the House of Representatives.

The message also included a satisfactory assessment of the restoration of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee to the U.S. The Radical Republican majority had refused to seat congressmen from these states because they were restored according to Lincoln’s reconstruction plan, which had not been approved by Congress. Lincoln acknowledged he had no authority to decide the legitimacy of congressional membership.

Lincoln concluded, “In stating a single condition of peace I mean simply to say that the war will cease on the part of the Government whenever it shall have ceased on the part of those who began it.”

Lincoln nominated political rival and former Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase of Ohio to become U.S. chief justice. Chase would replace Roger B. Taney, who had died in October.

Ulysses S. Grant issued new orders to George H. Thomas at Nashville: “Attack Hood at once and wait no longer for remount of your cavalry. There is great danger of delay resulting in a campaign back to the Ohio River.” Thomas replied that attacking would be dangerous without sufficient cavalry.

Federals threatened the Charleston & Savannah Railroad. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Wednesday, December 7

Ulysses S. Grant informed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton that if George H. Thomas did not attack immediately, Thomas should be removed from command.

Troops, supplies, and ships began gathering at Fort Monroe, Virginia in preparation for an expedition to Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Fisher was the last major Confederate seaport open to blockade-runners. Major General Benjamin F. Butler commanded the army, and Rear Admiral David D. Porter commanded the navy.

William T. Sherman’s Federals moved closer to Savannah and skirmished at various points. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates skirmished at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Other skirmishing occurred in Alabama 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. 604-07

The Civil War This Week: Nov 24-30, 1864

November 24, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, November 24

In Tennessee, Major General John Schofield’s Federal Army of the Ohio arrived at Columbia ahead of General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee, beating the Confederates to the important river crossing on the main road to Nashville. The Federals took a strong position south of the Duck River.

In Georgia, Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West continued southeast from Milledgeville. Confederate President Jefferson Davis told General William Hardee, commanding Confederates at Savannah, about Sherman, “When the purpose of the enemy shall be developed, every effort must be made to obstruct the route on which he is moving, and all other available means must be employed to delay his march, as well to enable our forces to be concentrated as to reduce him to want of the necessary supplies.”

U.S. Attorney General Edward Bates resigned from President Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet. Bates, a conservative Republican, had been a target of Radicals who urged Lincoln to dismiss him.

Northerners observed a national day of thanksgiving according to President Lincoln’s proclamation. In the siege lines outside Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia, the 120,000-man Federal Army of the Potomac enjoyed feasts of turkey, chicken, fruits, and pies. Despite their lack of food, the 57,000-man Confederate Army of Northern Virginia ceased firing out of respect for the Federal holiday.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

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Friday, November 25

Lieutenant John W. Headley and five Confederate agents attempted to burn New York City. They rented several rooms at various hotels and set fire to them, hoping the fires would spread and destroy the city in “one dazzling conflagration.” Fires were set in 19 hotels along with Barnum’s Museum, but all were quickly extinguished. Authorities caught only one saboteur, who was hanged for setting fire to Barnum’s. The plot made sensational headlines but did little to either damage New York or affect the war.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federals moved toward Sandersville, with General Henry Slocum’s wing of the Federal army clashing with General Joseph Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry.

In Tennessee, John Schofield’s Federals entrenched north and south of the Duck River at Columbia.

Federals clashed with Native Americans in the Nebraska and New Mexico territories. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana.

Saturday, November 26

Henry Slocum’s Federals entered Sandersville, Georgia.

John Bell Hood’s main Confederate force arrived in front of Federal positions south of the Duck River at Columbia, Tennessee.

Joseph Holt refused President Lincoln’s offer to serve as attorney general.

A Federal expedition began from Lewisburg, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in the Virginia, Missouri, and the Nebraska Territory.

Sunday, November 27

In Tennessee, John Schofield learned that John Bell Hood’s Confederates intended to flank him and withdrew across the Duck River to defenses at Spring Hill. This guarded the main road (and potential escape route) to Franklin and Nashville. Schofield received incorrect reports that General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederate cavalry had crossed the Duck to the east above Columbia.

In Georgia, Joseph Wheeler’s Confederates clashed with Federal cavalry under General Judson Kilpatrick in two days of fighting at Waynesboro.

Saboteurs allegedly destroyed the Federal steamer Greyhound on the James River in Virginia. Greyhound was the headquarters of Major General Benjamin F. Butler, commanding the Army of the James. Butler was unharmed.

Federal expeditions began from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Little Rock, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia.

Monday, November 28

In Tennessee, Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates crossed the Duck River above Columbia, with the rest of John Bell Hood’s army ready to follow. Fighting ensued between the armies.

Skirmishing increased in Georgia, with cavalry clashing near Davisboro and Waynesboro.

Thomas L. Rosser’s Confederate cavalry moved to New Creek, west of Cumberland, Maryland, and captured many prisoners and supplies on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. This proved the Confederates were not yet ready to admit defeat in the Shenandoah Valley.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Kansas.

Tuesday, November 29

Early this morning, John Bell Hood’s Confederates crossed the Duck River and tried cutting John Schofield off at Spring Hill from the main road to Franklin and Nashville. The armies skirmished until halted by darkness. During the night, Schofield withdrew his entire force to Franklin without Confederate detection. This failure to notice Schofield’s withdrawal prompted charges and countercharges of dereliction of duty among the Confederate high command. The “Spring Hill Affair” became one of the most controversial non-combat events of the war.

Colonel John M. Chivington and about 900 Federal troops attacked a camp of some 500 Arapaho and Cheyenne Natives at the Sand Creek Reserve in the Colorado Territory. Ignoring claims that the Natives were peaceful, the Federals murdered some 450 men, women, and children. Chivington reported, “It may perhaps be unnecessary for me to state that I captured no prisoners.” Among those killed was Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle, who had previously surrendered to Federals and quit the warpath.

The U.S. press initially celebrated the Sand Creek incident as a great victory to end the Colorado War. However, officials were horrified upon learning of the mass genocide. After three separate investigations, U.S. officials condemned the massacre and paid indemnities to the victims’ families.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federals continued advancing, skirmishing near Louisville. Skirmishing also occurred in West Virginia, South Carolina, and Louisiana.

Wednesday, November 30

The Battle of Franklin occurred, as John Bell Hood’s Confederates launched a massive assault on Federal positions in late afternoon. Despite heavy losses, Confederates captured outer defenses before being repulsed by Federal reinforcements. Hood finally pulled back late this evening. Federals suffered 2,326 casualties while Confederates lost 6,252. Among the Confederate dead were six generals, including Patrick Cleburne (the “Stonewall” Jackson of the West) and S.R. “States’ Rights” Gist.

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federals continued advancing, skirmishing at Louisville.

President Jefferson Davis wrote to General P.G.T. Beauregard, commanding the Confederate Military Division of the West (east of the Mississippi River), that Sherman “may move directly for the Coast.” He urged Beauregard to concentrate all nearby Confederates to destroy Sherman’s army before it reached the coast. Davis, unaware of Hood’s defeat at Franklin today, thought Hood would have an impact on Federal strategy.

Confederates repulsed Federals from Hilton Head attacking Grahamville near the South Carolina coast. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, and Georgia.

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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. 600-04

The Civil War This Week: Nov 17-23, 1864

November 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, November 17

Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West headed east and south toward the Georgia coast, taking four routes to confuse the Confederates.

A Washington newspaper reported that U.S. President Abraham Lincoln expressed gratification to a Maryland committee about the recent election results, stating they confirmed “the policy he had pursued would be the best and the only one that could save the country.”

Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to a group of Georgia state legislators that he strongly objected to any attempt on the part of Georgia to negotiate a peace with the U.S. separate from the Confederacy.

Federal expeditions began from Brashear City, Louisiana and Little Rock, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama and eastern Tennessee.

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Friday, November 18

William T. Sherman’s army advanced between the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers in Georgia. Sherman traveled with the left wing.

President Davis told General Howell Cobb at Macon, Georgia to “get out every man who can render any service even for a short period” to oppose Sherman and to employ slaves in obstructing roads.

Heavy storms and other unknown factors delayed Confederate General John Bell Hood’s advance into Tennessee, but he was now ready to begin.

Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia and Missouri.

Saturday, November 19

Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown called for all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 55 to oppose William T. Sherman’s march, but few men were available.

President Lincoln ordered the blockade lifted at Norfolk, Virginia, Fernandina and Pensacola, Florida.

A Federal expedition began from Terre Bonne, Louisiana. Federals clashed with Native Americans in the Nebraska Territory. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama.

Sunday, November 20

In Georgia, William T. Sherman’s Federals clashed with cavalry, militia, and “pickup” troops at Clinton, Walnut Creek, East Macon, and Griswoldville.

Federals and Natives clashed in Kansas.

Monday, November 21

John Bell Hood’s 38,000-man Confederate Army of Tennessee moved out of Florence, Alabama to begin his invasion of Tennessee. Hood’s goal was to wedge his force between the Federal Army of the Ohio at Pulaski and the Army of the Cumberland at Nashville.

William T. Sherman’s Federals defeated state troops at Griswoldville, and fighting erupted near Macon, Gordon, Eatonton, and Clinton. None of these clashes hampered Sherman’s advance.

President Lincoln wrote to Mrs. Lydia Bixby that he had learned she was the mother of “five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle…” But of Mrs. Bixby’s five sons, two had been killed, two had allegedly deserted the army, and one was honorably discharged.

Tuesday, November 22

General Henry W. Slocum’s wing of William T. Sherman’s Federal army captured the Georgia capital of Milledgeville; the legislators fled after passing a levee en masse. The Federal advance continued, as foragers nicknamed “bummers” ransacked and burned homes and buildings along the way.

President Davis wired Georgia officials “that every effort will be made by destroying bridges, felling trees, planting sub-terra shells and otherwise, to obstruct the advance of the enemy.” Davis ordered General Braxton Bragg from Wilmington, North Carolina to Georgia to join Generals P.G.T. Beauregard and William Hardee to assemble an army to stop Sherman.

John Bell Hood’s army entered Tennessee. As Hood advanced, Major General John Schofield withdrew his Federal Army of the Ohio from Pulaski to Columbia to avoid being flanked.

Wednesday, November 23

John Schofield’s Federals moved from Pulaski toward Columbia, as John Bell Hood advanced toward the same point.

William T. Sherman’s Federals regrouped in and around Milledgeville, with fighting erupting. William Hardee took command of troops opposing Sherman; Hardee did not know Sherman’s intended route and had too few troops to stop the Federal advance.

U.S. General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant conferred with President Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, and Chief of Staff Henry W. Halleck in Washington.

Federal expeditions began from Fort Wingate in the New Mexico Territory and Vicksburg, Mississippi. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Louisiana.

—–

Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 597-600

The Civil War This Week: Nov 10-16, 1864

November 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, November 10

Major General William T. Sherman’s Federals prepared to return to Atlanta after briefly pursuing General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee into Alabama. Confederates under General Nathan Bedford Forrest arrived at Corinth, Mississippi on their way to join Hood’s army.

A large crowd gathered on the White House lawn and serenaded President Abraham Lincoln in celebration of his reelection. Speaking from a second floor window, Lincoln said, “It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of the people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence, in great emergencies… We cannot have free government without elections, and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.”

In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, General Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley moved north from New Market. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Missouri.

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Friday, November 11

Federal troops destroyed bridges, foundries, mills, shops, warehouses, and other useful Confederate property at Rome, Georgia before heading toward Kingston and Atlanta.

At a White House cabinet meeting, the sealed document disclosing Lincoln’s doubts about the election and pledging cabinet members to support the president-elect after the election was opened. Cabinet members had signed the document without reading it on 23 August.

In Kentucky, Federal authorities arrested three supporters of Democratic presidential candidate George B. McClellan. Lieutenant Governor Richard Jacob was arrested and banished to the Confederacy; a Kentucky elector for McClellan and the editor of the Louisville Journal were also arrested. Lincoln pardoned the latter two and reinstated Jacob in February 1865.

A Federal ship landed at Savannah, Georgia to unload 3,000 ill Confederate prisoners of war; some 500 died on the voyage. About 13,000 Federal prisoners were exchanged at Savannah and Charleston, of which 8,000 were ill.

Saturday, November 12

William T. Sherman concentrated his four corps of 60,000 men for the march from Atlanta to the Atlantic Ocean. Federals destroyed Atlanta to prevent residents from returning. This added to southern bitterness toward Sherman’s policy of “total war” on southern property and civilians. Sherman instructed Major General George H. Thomas to defend against Confederate General John Bell Hood’s imminent invasion of Tennessee.

Sherman’s marching orders included bringing no supply trains, instead foraging and looting for subsistence. Destruction of property was prohibited except when ordered by corps commanders as retaliation for attacks on the marchers. Slaves who could be used as laborers could join the marchers, but no general exodus of slaves was permitted. The marchers would begin at 7 a.m. each morning and cover 15 miles each day.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and Missouri.

Sunday, November 13

A large part of Jubal Early’s Confederate army left the Shenandoah and rejoined General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Richmond and Petersburg. Having marched 1,700 miles and fought 75 engagements since July, Early’s men had made remarkable attempts to threaten Federals in the Valley and even outside Washington, despite being heavily outnumbered.

A Federal expedition began from Pemiscot County, Missouri. Federals clashed with Native Americans in Kansas.

Monday, November 14

William T. Sherman’s Federals prepared to move out of Atlanta. The city’s destruction continued.

George H. Thomas prepared his Federals around Nashville, Tennessee. Major General John M. Schofield commanded two Federal corps at Pulaski, south of Nashville. Meanwhile, John Bell Hood awaited the arrival of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates at Florence, Alabama before moving north.

President Lincoln accepted the resignation of George B. McClellan and named Philip Sheridan to the rank of major general in the Regular Army. Lincoln wrote to General Stephen Hurlbut, commanding the Department of the Gulf, that he had heard rumors of “bitter military opposition to the new state Government of Louisiana.”

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Kansas.

Tuesday, November 15

William T. Sherman’s Army of the West began its “march to the sea.” The Federals moved southwest in two columns, encountering little resistance along the way as they sang “John Brown’s Body” and other northern patriotic songs.

This evening, Federal Chief Engineer Orlando Poe burned Atlanta’s industrial area, including the oil refinery, which soon spread to other buildings and resulted in massive explosions as regimental bands played. Reporter David Conyngham of the New York Herald wrote, “The heart was burning out of beautiful Atlanta.” Sherman had ordered that no private residences be touched, but looters had been at work for the last four days. Poe estimated that 37 percent of Atlanta was destroyed.

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Louisiana.

Wednesday, November 16

William T. Sherman left Atlanta in ruins. Having cut communication lines in the rear, northerners would hear little from Sherman in coming weeks. Skirmishing erupted at various points. Sherman wrote, “My first object was, of course, to place my army in the very heart of Georgia.” The army, consisting of 218 regiments (52 from Ohio alone) and a cavalry unit, took four different routes to confuse whatever enemies there may be.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates joined John Bell Hood’s army at Tuscumbia and Florence.

Federal expeditions began from Barrancas, Florida; Brookfield and Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia.

—–

Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 595-97

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