The Civil War This Week: Oct 27-Nov 2, 1864

October 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, October 27

The Battle of Hatcher’s Run occurred outside Petersburg, as the Federal Army of the Potomac tried stretching to the left in another effort to extend the Confederate defenses under siege. The Federals advanced about 12 miles southwest of Petersburg and threatened the Confederate-held South Side Railroad. Confederates repulsed the advance at Hatcher’s Run and Burgess’ Mill, retaining control of the Boydton Plank Road and South Side Railroad. Federals suffered 1,758 casualties while Confederate losses were uncertain. The siege of Petersburg continued with ongoing fortification construction, sharpshooting, skirmishing, picketing, and patrolling.

U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton canceled the delivery of beef to the 30-acre Elmira prisoner of war camp in upstate New York. Stanton’s War Department also blocked efforts by camp commandant Benjamin F. Tracy to obtain other foodstuffs and supplies. Inmates lived in tents and suffered from rampant diseases such as smallpox, dysentery, and pneumonia while subsisting on bread, water, and captured rats in what they called “Hellmira.”

In its one-year existence, Elmira’s mortality rate was nearly 25 percent while the rate in other Federal prison camps averaged about 12 percent. Elimra’s rate nearly matched the 28 percent mortality rate at the notorious Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia. However, food and medical supplies were much scarcer in the Confederacy, which was under Federal blockade.

This evening, a Federal torpedo sunk C.S.S. Albemarle on the Roanoke River near Plymouth, North Carolina. A steam launch crept up beside Albemarle and detonated the torpedo at the end of a pole. The Federal launch was badly damaged, but the 15-man crew escaped by jumping into the water.

Confederate guerrillas attacked the Federal steamer Belle Saint Louis at Fort Randolph, Tennessee. Skirmishing occurred in eastern Tennessee.

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Friday, October 28

Following up the Battle of Westport on 25 October, Federals under James Blunt defeated Jo Shelby’s Confederate detachment at Newtonia, Missouri. General Samuel R. Curtis, the overall commander of Federal forces in Missouri, prepared to destroy the entire Confederate force under overall command of General Sterling Price.

General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee continued moving west across northern Alabama in preparation for invading Tennessee. Hood hoped that invading Tennessee would draw Federals under General William T. Sherman out of Atlanta. However, Sherman learned of Hood’s westward movement and began returning his pursuing troops to Atlanta. General George Thomas’s Army of the Cumberland, stationed at Nashville, was assigned to confront Hood.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and eastern Tennessee.

Saturday, October 29

This morning, General William S. Rosecrans, commanding the Federal Department of Missouri, recalled troops from Samuel Curtis’s command to guard various posts. This left Curtis with too few troops to pursue Sterling Price’s Confederates. Price escaped, but his army was no longer an effective fighting force. Besides disrupting some supply lines and diverting Federal troops from other areas of battle, Price’s invasion of Missouri failed to help the overall Confederate war effort.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates captured the Federal ship Mazeppa, which carried 9,000 pairs of shoes.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Sunday, October 30

Advance units of John Bell Hood’s Confederates reached Tuscumbia and Florence, Alabama. William T. Sherman stopped pursuing Hood, saying, “Damn him! If he will go to the Ohio River, I’ll give him rations. Let him go north, my business is down south.” Sherman tried convincing the Lincoln administration to approve his plan to march through Georgia to the Atlantic Ocean. However, Lincoln was reluctant because failure could cost him reelection next month.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates badly damaged the gunboat Undine on the Tennessee River and captured it with two transports.

C.S.S. Olustee, formerly the raider Tallahassee, ran the Federal blockade at Wilmington, North Carolina and took six prizes during the first week of November.

Monday, October 31

John Bell Hood arrived at Tuscumbia and reinforced his Confederates across the Tennessee River at Florence. This became Hood’s base for invading Tennessee and attacking George Thomas in the hopes of forcing William Sherman to leave Atlanta and chase him.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates arrived at Fort Heiman and organized captured Federal gunboats into a makeshift Confederate “navy” to attack Federal shipping on the Tennessee River.

A Federal naval squadron of seven ships commanded by William H. Macomb captured Plymouth, North Carolina on the Roanoke River after dueling with shore batteries.

By presidential proclamation, Nevada became the 36th state. Nevada was rushed into statehood mainly because voters were mostly Republicans who could deliver electoral votes to President Lincoln in next month’s election. Nevada became known as the “Battle State” for gaining statehood during the war.

Tuesday, November 1

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates moved south up the Tennessee River with their “navy” of two captured vessels, advancing on Johnsonville.

A Federal expedition began from Bermuda Hundred, Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Wednesday, November 2

Federal gunboats on the Tennessee River ran one of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s captured vessels aground. C.S.S. Undine was damaged but escaped.

U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward told the mayor of New York of rumors from Canada that Confederate agents planned to set fire to the city on Election Day.

Skirmishing occurred in Arkansas.

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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. 589-92

The Civil War This Week: Oct 20-26, 1864

October 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, October 20

Three Federal forces closed in on General Sterling Price’s Confederates in northwestern Missouri: General Alfred Pleasonton’s cavalry, A.J. Smith’s infantry, and Major General Samuel R. Curtis’s Army of the Border. Citizens had not joined the Confederate invasion as Price had hoped.

President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation setting aside the last Thursday in November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to Almighty God the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.” This marked the second consecutive year that Lincoln called for a day of thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November; this later became a permanent national holiday.

In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, General Jubal Early’s Confederates withdrew after yesterday’s rout at Cedar Creek, fighting at Fisher’s Hill. Native Americans attacked settlements in the Platte Valley of the Nebraska Territory. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

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Friday, October 21

Sterling Price’s Confederates repulsed Federal defenders and forced the evacuation of Independence, Missouri. Major General William T. Sherman’s Federals stopped pursuing the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General John Bell Hood at Gaylesville, Alabama as Sherman tried determining Hood’s next move.

People serenaded President Lincoln at the White House in celebration of the Federal victory at Cedar Creek two days ago. Lincoln proposed three cheers for “all our noble commanders and the soldiers and sailors…”

Skirmishing occurred in Florida, Kentucky, eastern Tennessee, and Alabama.

Saturday, October 22

Sterling Price’s Confederates fought at Independence and reached Westport (now part of Kansas City). The Federal forces closing in on Price (under overall command of Samuel Curtis) outnumbered him by nearly three-to-one. Price planned to attack and defeat the Federal force in his front before turning to attack and defeat Federal cavalry behind him.

John Bell Hood’s Confederates moved to Guntersville, Alabama on their way to Hood’s planned invasion of Tennessee. Hood moved west across northern Alabama due to a high Tennessee River and low supplies.

Federal naval forces captured blockade runners off Charleston, South Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina. The illicit Confederate trade was more lucrative and dangerous than ever. Confederate guerrillas attacked a Federal transport on the White River near St. Charles, Arkansas. A Federal expedition began from Brashear City, Louisiana. Federals and Native Americans clashed in the Nebraska Territory.

Sunday, October 23

The Battle of Westport occurred at Sterling Price’s Confederates attacked Federals in their front under James Blunt. The fight surged back and forth until Price pushed Blunt back across Brush Creek. The Federals then regrouped and attacked the Confederate left as Alfred Pleasonton’s cavalry pushed back the Confederate rear guard. This forced Price to withdraw down the Missouri-Kansas state line. This battle effectively ended Confederate resistance in not only Missouri, but in the entire Trans-Mississippi Theater. Each side lost some 1,500 men, which was a much more devastating figure for the undermanned Confederates.

Monday, October 24

Sterling Price’s Confederates continued withdrawing, moving slowly and protecting their long supply train as the Federal pursuit was delayed.

President Lincoln told the 189th New York Volunteers, “While others differ with the Administration, and, perhaps, honestly, the soldiers generally have sustained it; they have not only fought right, but, so far as could be judged from their actions, they have voted right…”

Federal expeditions began from Issaquena County, Mississippi and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia and Florida.

Tuesday, October 25

Sterling Price’s Confederates continued withdrawing in Missouri, as Federals pursued and clashed with various units. A Federal cavalry charge at Mine Creek inflicted 1,060 Confederate casualties and resulted in the capture of Generals John Marmaduke and William L. Cabell. About one-third of the Confederate supply train was either captured or destroyed.

A Federal expedition began from Blackwater Bay, Florida. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama as John Bell Hood’s Confederates continued moving west. Skirmishing also occurred in Virginia and Arkansas.

Wednesday, October 26

Sterling Price’s Confederates continued withdrawing from Missouri, fighting at Glasgow and Albany along the way. Alfred Pleasonton’s Federal cavalry stopped pursuing and returned to Fort Scott, Kansas. Samuel Curtis’s Federals continued pursuing, but there were discrepancies over command.

John Bell Hood’s Confederates clashed with Federals at Decatur, Alabama as they were unable to cross the Tennessee River there.

Captain Samuel P. Cox’s Missouri militia ambushed William “Bloody Bill” Anderson and his partisans near Richmond, Missouri. The militia killed Anderson, placed his head on a telephone pole, and dragged his body through town before burying it in an unmarked grave. Anderson had been one of the most notorious “Border Ruffians” who burned homes, looted towns, and murdered soldiers and civilians, often torturing and scalping his victims.

Federal expeditions began from Vidalia, Louisiana.; Little Rock, Arkansas.; and Brownsville, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and West Virginia.

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Primary Source: Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 586-89

The Civil War This Week: Oct 13-19, 1864

October 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, October 13

Maryland voters approved a new state constitution that included abolishing slavery by just 375 votes (30,174 to 29,799). The measure would have been defeated had Unionist Governor Augustus Bradford not allowed absentee soldiers to vote.

General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee continued disrupting Federal supply lines in northern Georgia, seizing the important railroad north of Rome to Tunnel Hill, which included Dalton and Tilton. Confederate partisans under John S. Mosby wrecked a section of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad near Kearneysville, west of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. This included burning a passenger train and stealing $173,000 from army paymasters.

Federal President Abraham Lincoln tallied the estimated electoral college vote in next month’s presidential election to be 120 for the “Union Vote” and 114 for the “Supposed Copperhead Vote.” Lincoln also continued working to furlough as many soldiers as possible so they could go home and vote.

Confederates probed Federal positions in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Federals scouted against Native Americans in the Sacramento Mountains of the New Mexico Territory. Skirmishing occurred in the Nebraska Territory and Texas.

Friday, October 14

General Sterling Price’s Confederate invasion of Missouri continued, as Price issued a proclamation requesting that citizens join his army and redeem Missouri from Federal control. Fighting erupted at Danville. Other skirmishing occurred in Maryland, Virginia, Arkansas, and Texas.

Saturday, October 15

A Confederate detachment under Jo Shelby captured Federal troops at Sedalia, Missouri after a hard fight that included citizens and home guards.

President Davis detached General Braxton Bragg as his chief of staff and sent him to command defenses at Wilmington, North Carolina, which was the Confederacy’s last major seaport.

Funeral services were held for U.S. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who died on 12 October. President Lincoln and other prominent officials attended the funeral. A Federal expedition began from Bernard’s Mills, Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi, Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and Louisiana.

Sunday, October 16

Federal expeditions began from City Point, Virginia and Devall’s Bluff, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and Louisiana.

Monday, October 17

John Bell Hood’s Confederates began withdrawing to Gadsden, Alabama, practically giving up on harassing Federal supply lines. Hood planned to attack Chattanooga and capture all supply lines to Atlanta, thus isolating Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West in enemy territory.

General P.G.T. Beauregard assumed command of the Confederate Military Division of the West. Lieutenant General James Longstreet returned to his corps command in General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia after recovering from wounds received at the Battle of the Wilderness in May.

Kentucky Governor Thomas Bramlette ordered state authorities to arrest Federal troops attempting to interfere with the upcoming elections. He instructed, “If you are unable to hold a free election, your duty is to hold none at all.”

Governors of six Confederate states (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi) met at Augusta to define a unified defense policy. The governors approved eight resolutions supporting President Jefferson Davis and the Confederate government.

Sterling Price’s Confederates captured Carrollton and burned Smithville, Missouri as they approached Lexington in northwestern Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Kentucky.

Tuesday, October 18

Federal Major General Philip Sheridan was summoned from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley to Washington to discuss future operations. Meanwhile, Confederates scouted Federal positions at Cedar Creek; the Federals were unaware that Confederate General Jubal Early was planning one last, desperate attack to destroy Sheridan’s army.

In Liverpool, England, women supporting the South held a benefit for Confederate soldiers at St. George’s Hall. Skirmishing occurred in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, eastern Tennessee, and Missouri.

Wednesday, October 19

The Battle of Cedar Creek erupted at 5 a.m. when Confederates attacked the Federal right and left; many Federals were still asleep when the attack began. The Federals slowly withdrew as Confederates wasted time looting camps. Philip Sheridan returned from Washington and urged his men to counterattack. When the men cheered him, Sheridan yelled, “God damn you! Don’t cheer me, fight!” The Federals rallied near Middletown.

By 4 p.m., Federals drove off the tired Confederates, as Jubal Early’s entire line virtually crumbled. The retreat soon became a rout. Federals suffered 5,665 casualties while Confederates lost 2,910, including Major General Stephen D. Ramseur. Sheridan became a northern hero. Jubal Early wrote to General Robert E. Lee, “I found it impossible to rally the troops… The rout was as thorough and disgraceful as ever happened to our army… If you think that the interests of the service would be promoted by a change of commanders, I beg you will have no hesitation.” Early withdrew to New Market, where his army gradually dispersed.

Lieutenant Bennett H. Young and 21 Confederate raiders attacked St. Albans, Vermont, about 20 miles from the Canadian border. The group robbed the town’s three banks of a total of $208,000. They rounded up the town residents, killing one and wounding another before fleeing back into Canada. Canadian authorities arrested Young and 12 raiders but refused to extradite them to the U.S. because of Canada’s neutrality. About $75,000 was recovered. Nobody stood trial for the raid, which was the northernmost land action of the war.

Marylanders in Washington serenaded Lincoln in support of their new state constitution. Lincoln addressed both the news and rumors that Democrats planned to immediately seize control of the federal government if they won the upcoming elections: “Most heartily do I congratulate you, and Maryland, and the nation, and the world, upon the event… I am struggling to maintain government, not to overthrow it. I am struggling especially to prevent others from overthrowing it.”

General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates left Corinth, Mississippi to cooperate with John Bell Hood’s move to Alabama and Tennessee. Sterling Price’s Confederates pushed James G. Blunt’s Federals at Lexington back to the Little Blue River in Missouri. The Confederate Navy officially received C.S.S. Shenandoah after fitting out in the Medeira Islands. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia and Arkansas.

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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. 583-86

The Civil War This Week: Oct 6-12, 1864

October 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, October 6

An editorial in the Richmond Enquirer supported enlisting blacks in the Confederate army; black military recruitment was slowly gaining support throughout the South.

Major General Philip Sheridan’s Federal Army of the Shenandoah continued destroying the Shenandoah Valley after clearing out General Jubal Early’s Confederates. Federals demolished over 2,000 barns and 70 mills, and over 4,000 heads of livestock and 3,000 sheep were killed, captured, or driven off. The outraged but outnumbered Confederates responded with guerrilla attacks on Federal units.

Thomas L. Rosser’s Confederate cavalry attacked Federals under General George A. Custer near Fisher’s Hill in the Shenandoah. Federals repulsed the attack, but it proved that Confederate resistance in the region remained.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates fought near Florence, Alabama in their continued efforts to disrupt Federal supply lines in Tennessee and Georgia. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Missouri.

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Friday, October 7

This evening, U.S.S. Wachusett captured the famous Confederate commerce raider C.S.S. Florida off Bahia, Brazil. Florida had been anchored in the harbor, unaware that Wachusett was there as well. Urged by the U.S. consul in Brazil, Wachusett Commodore Napoleon Collins fired on Florida before boarding the ship and capturing her crew. The capture was strongly protested by Brazilian and European officials because it violated international law since Florida was anchored in a foreign port. Most northerners approved the capture, but Secretary of State William H. Seward feared an international incident and condemned the capture as illegal.

Federals repulsed a Confederate attack near Richmond, Virginia. General Sterling Price’s Confederates continued their Missouri invasion, fighting near the state capital of Jefferson City. Federals and Native Americans clashed in the Nebraska Territory. Skirmishing also occurred in Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Saturday, October 8

Sterling Price’s Confederates continued fighting near Jefferson City. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Sunday, October 9

Federals under George A. Custer and Wesley Merritt routed Thomas L. Rosser’s Confederates near Woodstock in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The Confederates fled 26 miles back to the main Confederate lines, and the fight was nicknamed the “Woodstock Races.”

Sterling Price’s Confederates fought at Boonville, Russellville, and California in Missouri. A Federal expedition began from St. Francois County, Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Georgia, and Louisiana.

Monday, October 10

Philip Sheridan established positions near Cedar Creek, north of Strasburg. Believing he had suppressed Confederate resistance in the Valley, Sheridan was unaware that General Jubal Early was planning an attack. A corps of Sheridan’s army was transferred to Petersburg, which made the personnel in the armies of Sheridan and Early more even. Early seized the opportunity.

Federal President Abraham Lincoln wrote to Maryland politician Henry W. Hoffman: “I wish all men to be free. I wish the material prosperity of the already free which I feel sure the extinction of slavery would bring. I wish to see, in process of disappearing, that only thing which ever could bring this nation to civil war.”

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates clashed with Federal gunboats on the Tennessee River near Eastport, Mississippi. General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee fought Federal supply guards near Rome, Georgia. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, and the Colorado Territory.

Tuesday, October 11

Several northern states held elections, which pleased President Lincoln by resulting in sizeable Republican majorities. In Ohio, Republicans won 12 congressional seats and a 50,000 popular vote majority. In Indiana, Republican Oliver P. Morton was elected governor, and Republicans won eight of the state’s 11 congressional seats. In Pennsylvania, Republicans won a narrow victory mainly because of the pro-Republican absentee soldier vote. These elections demonstrated that soldiers’ votes would be crucial in next month’s national election. Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton arranged as many soldier furloughs as possible so troops could go home and vote.

Sterling Price’s Confederates fought near Boonville and Brunswick in Missouri. Major General William T. Sherman’s Federals began concentrating at Rome, Georgia. Federal expeditions began from Stony Creek Station, Virginia.; Petersburg, West Virginia; and Camp Palmer, North Carolina. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia and Tennessee.

Wednesday, October 12

U.S. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney died in Washington at age 89. Taney had been involved in many historic Supreme Court decisions, including the controversial Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) case.

Rear Admiral David D. Porter assumed command of the Federal North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, replacing Acting Rear Admiral Samuel P. Lee. Porter’s main goal was to help in the capture of Fort Fisher guarding Wilmington, North Carolina. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee.

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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. 580-583

The Civil War This Week: Sep 29-Oct 5, 1864

September 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, September 29

Two battles erupted between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Federal Army of the Potomac outside Petersburg, Virginia. North of the James River, Federals attacked and captured Fort Harrison and other nearby works. However, Confederates repulsed an attack on Fort Gilmer farther north toward the Confederate capital at Richmond. Both commanding generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant considered Fort Harrison so important that they personally directed operations.

The second battle occurred west of Petersburg near Peebles’ Farm, as Federals attacked Confederate siege lines. Some 16,000 Federals tried extending the overstretched Confederate line and capture the South Side Railroad.

General Sterling Price’s Confederates continued their invasion of Missouri by fighting at Harrison and Cuba. General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates continued raiding Federal supply lines and fought near Lynchburg, Tennessee. Federals and Confederates fought at Waynesborough in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

A Federal expedition began from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina, Tennessee, and the Nebraska Territory.

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Friday, September 30

The Battle of Fort Harrison continued outside Petersburg, as Federals repulsed desperate Confederate counterattacks to recapture the fort. The Confederates established new defensive lines between the fort and Richmond, while Federals built siege lines east of the capital. Federals suffered 3,327 casualties, including 1,773 black troops killed or wounded; 14 black soldiers earned Medals of Honor for valor during this fight.

The Battle of Peebles’ Farm continued west of Petersburg, as two Federal corps advanced toward Poplar Spring Church. General A.P. Hill’s Confederate corps counterattacked and divided the Federals, prompting them to entrench near Peebles’ Farm. This fight, combined with the fight at Fort Harrison, stretched the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to its limit and forced a desperate shift of troops from one threatened front to the other.

Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Saturday, October 1

The Battle of Peebles’ Farm continued west of Petersburg as Federals and Confederates fought inconclusively in the rain.

Famed Confederate spy Rose O’Neal Greenhow drowned off Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Carrying secret dispatches and $2,000 in gold, Greenhow was returning from Europe aboard the British blockade runner Condor when U.S.S. Niphon ran her aground. Greenhow escaped on a small boat that capsized in rough waters, and the gold’s weight pulled her down. Greenhow had gained notoriety for running a spy ring in Washington that helped Confederates win the Battle of Bull Run in 1861.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates fought at Athens and Huntsville in Alabama, then captured blockhouses at Carter’s Creek Station, Tennessee. Sterling Price’s Confederates fought at Union, Franklin, and Lake Springs in Missouri.

A Federal expedition began from Fort Craig in the New Mexico Territory. Federal raiders skirmished in southwestern Virginia and Tennessee.

Sunday, October 2

The Battle of Peebles’ Farm ended, as Confederates withdrew to their entrenchments and Federals seized control of the contested ground. This enabled the Federal Army of the Potomac to extend its siege lines another three miles west toward the Appomattox River.

In Georgia, General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee began cutting supply lines for Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West occupying Atlanta. Fighting erupted in northern Georgia, as Confederates broke the Western & Atlantic Railroad and interrupted the Federal supply link between Atlanta and Chattanooga.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates fought near Columbia, Tennessee. Sterling Price’s Confederates occupied Washington on the Missouri River, some 50 miles west of St. Louis.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis met with General P.G.T. Beauregard, the hero of Fort Sumter and Bull Run, and gave him command of the Military Division of the West. This encompassed the Department of Tennessee (under John Bell Hood) and the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana (under General Richard Taylor). Beauregard was only permitted to direct field operations if he was personally present.

Federals operated at various points in Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Florida.

Monday, October 3

John Bell Hood’s Confederates occupied the railroad line between Chattanooga and Atlanta, capturing Big Shanty, Kennesaw Water Tank, and other points in northern Georgia. William Sherman responded by sending Major General George Thomas’s Federal Army of the Cumberland to Nashville to protect the region from raids by Hood, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Joseph Wheeler.

President Davis received a warm welcome upon arriving in Columbia, South Carolina. Addressing the crowd, Davis expressed optimism: “(Hood’s) eye is now fixed upon a point far beyond that where he was assailed by the enemy… And if but a half, nay, one-fourth, of the men to whom the service has a right, will give him their strength, I see no chance for Sherman to escape from a defeat or a disgraceful retreat.”

Sterling Price’s Confederates operated west of St. Louis along the Missouri River, as Federal resistance to Price’s advance increased. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Arkansas.

Tuesday, October 4

John Bell Hood’s Confederates continued disrupting Federal supply lines, fighting near Acworth, Moon’s Station, and Lost Mountain. William Sherman left 12,000 Federals in Atlanta and moved his remaining 55,000 men toward Marietta to face the Confederates. This evening, Major General S.G. French’s Confederates positioned themselves against a Federal garrison guarding supply warehouses at Allatoona Pass.

William Dennison joined President Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, replacing Montgomery Blair as postmaster general.

Sterling Price’s Confederates began withdrawing from the St. Louis area due to increased Federal resistance; fighting occurred near Richwoods. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Louisiana.

Wednesday, October 5

The Battle of Allatoona occurred in Georgia, as Confederates attacked the Federal garrison when its commander, Brigadier General John M. Corse, refused to surrender. The outnumbered Federals desperately held their positions as a messenger relayed a wire, “General Sherman says hold fast. We are coming.” The Confederates ultimately withdrew when S.G. French received incorrect information that a large Federal force was advancing to reinforce the garrison.

Federals suffered 706 casualties while Confederates lost 799 at Allatoona. The battle was relatively insignificant except that Sherman’s message inspired evangelist Philip Paul Bliss to write a revival hymn titled, “Hold the Fort, For We Are Coming.” The Confederates left millions of rations in Federal warehouses. Meanwhile, John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee withdrew to further disrupt Federal supply lines, hoping Sherman would abandon Atlanta to pursue the Confederates.

President Davis addressed a crowd in Augusta, Georgia, accompanied by Generals P.G.T. Beauregard, William Hardee, and others. Davis said, “Never before was I so confident that energy, harmony, and determination would rid the country of its enemy and give to the women of the land that peace their good deeds have so well deserved… we must beat Sherman, we must march into Tennessee… we must push the enemy back to the banks of the Ohio.”

In Indiana, Federal military authorities arrested Lambdin P. Milligan for conspiring against the U.S., giving aid and comfort to the Confederates, and inciting insurrection. A military tribunal convicted Milligan in December and sentenced him to death in June 1865. He was granted a presidential reprieve, and the Supreme Court ultimately ruled in Ex Parte Milligan (1866) that military authorities had no right to try civilians outside the actual theater of war.

Sterling Price’s Confederates fought along the Osage River in Missouri. President Lincoln conferred with navy officials about naval prisoners. Lincoln’s secretary John Nicolay headed west to gauge election prospects in Missouri. Federals operated near Tunica Landing and Natchez, Mississippi. Skirmishing occurred at various points in Louisiana.

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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. 575-80

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

September 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Thursday, September 22

The Battle of Fisher’s Hill occurred in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Major General Philip Sheridan followed his Federal victory outside Winchester last week with another major attack that sent Confederates running four miles before their commander, General Jubal Early, could stop them. The Federals pursued through the night, suffering 528 casualties while Early lost an estimated 1,235, some 1,000 of whom were taken prisoner. Among the Confederates killed was Alexander S. “Sandie” Pendleton, famed chief of staff for Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and now Early.

Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant ordered a 100-gun salute fired into the Confederate lines under siege at Petersburg. Grant wired Sheridan, “Keep on, and your good work will cause the fall of Richmond.”

Confederate President Jefferson Davis unexpectedly arrived in Macon, Georgia on a trip to assess the military situation there. Davis also sought to assure southerners that they were not yet defeated. Addressing a refugee relief meeting, Davis said, “Friends are drawn together in adversity… Our cause is not lost. Sherman cannot keep up his long line of communication, and retreat, sooner or later, he must.” Davis said he would confer with Confederate General John Bell Hood about recovering Georgia, he called for army absentees to return, and concluded, “Let no one despond.”

In Washington, President Abraham Lincoln continued lining up support for the upcoming election.

General Sterling Price’s Confederates continued their invasion of Missouri, fighting at Patterson and Sikeston. A Federal expedition began from Helena, Arkansas. Other skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

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Friday, September 23

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates withdrew toward New Market as the cavalry fought Federal pursuers at various points. Philip Sheridan did not order a full pursuit, believing his victories at Winchester and Fisher’s Hill had broken Confederate morale.

President Lincoln dismissed Postmaster General Montgomery Blair from his cabinet. Blair was a War Democrat who opposed many Radical Republican policies, and Senator Zachariah Chandler of Michigan had informed Lincoln that if Blair was dismissed, Radical presidential candidate John C. Fremont would withdraw his candidacy and the Radicals would back Lincoln. Blair had offered to resign when Lincoln deemed it necessary, and Lincoln said, “the time has come.”

Major General Stephen A. Hurlbut assumed command of the Federal Department of the Gulf, headquartered in New Orleans.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates continued raiding Federal supply lines in northern Alabama and southern Tennessee, fighting at Athens, Alabama. Sterling Price’s Confederates fought at Rocheport, Missouri. A Federal expedition began in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley.

Saturday, September 24

In the Shenandoah, Jubal Early’s Confederates continued retreating. Philip Sheridan, believing the Confederate threat was ended, suggested to Ulysses S. Grant, “Let the burning of the crops in the Valley be the end of this campaign, and let some of this army go elsewhere.” Grant agreed, and the Federals began destroying private crops from Staunton to Strasburg to prevent the region from feeding Confederate forces.

President Lincoln appointed Ohio Governor William Dennison to replace Montgomery Blair as postmaster general. Lincoln also approved a measure allowing the Federal purchase of products from states “declared in insurrection.”

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates captured Athens in northern Alabama. Sterling Price’s Confederates attacked Fayette and fought at Jackson and Farmington.

A Federal naval force destroyed four small Confederate vessels, captured five others, and leveled a fishery at Milford Haven, Virginia near the Rappahannock River. Skirmishing occurred in Florida.

Sunday, September 25

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals continued burning private property and crops. Staunton was virtually destroyed, and railroad track to Waynesboro was demolished. Jubal Early’s Confederates withdrew into the Blue Ridge Mountains.

President Davis visited John Bell Hood, commanding the Army of Tennessee, at Hood’s headquarters in Palmetto, Georgia to discuss the military situation. Hood asked Davis for permission to relieve Lieutenant General William Hardee as corps commander; Hood blamed Hardee for many of the army’s failures.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates raided railroads and captured Sulphur Branch Trestle in northern Alabama. Sterling Price’s Confederates fought at Farmington and Huntsville, Missouri. Federals began an expedition from Little Rock, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Kansas.

Monday, September 26

In the Shenandoah, Federals and Confederates skirmished at various points. The Federals pulled back, and Jubal Early began reorganizing his disheveled army. Confederate General Robert E. Lee sent Early reinforcements with a message: “It will require the greatest watchfulness, the greatest promptness, and the most untiring energy on your part to arrest the progress of the enemy in the present tide of success. I have given you all I can.” Early faced intense criticism in Richmond for his recent defeats.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates fought near Pulaski, Tennessee. Sterling Price’s Confederates fought at various points in Missouri as his army moved north toward St. Louis. Federal expeditions began from Natchez, Mississippi.; and from Napoleonville, Louisiana.  Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, Arkansas, and Kansas.

Tuesday, September 27

Sterling Price’s Confederates fought at various points in Missouri. Some 1,200 Federals under Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Jr. repulsed a Confederate charge at Fort Davidson in Pilot Knob.

Some 70 Confederate ruffians under “Bloody” Bill Anderson burned Centralia, Missouri after committing robbery, rape, and murder. Anderson’s men stopped a train and killed 26 unarmed Federal soldiers, then killed 124 Federal soldiers trying to rescue the town. Carrying the scalps and heads of victims as trophies, Anderson’s men included George Todd and Frank and Jesse James.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates continued fighting at Pulaski, Tennessee. Other skirmishing occurred in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and in Tennessee.

Wednesday, September 28

In Missouri, Sterling Price’s Confederates continued advancing despite their repulse at Fort Davidson yesterday. They fought in Polk County and Caledonia, and concern grew in St. Louis.

President Davis wired John Bell Hood, permitting Hood to relieve William Hardee as corps commander. Hardee was given command of the Confederate Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Davis also considered creating an overall Western Department with General P.G.T. Beauregard in command.

In the Shenandoah, Philip Sheridan’s Federals withdrew toward Harrisonburg as they fought lightly with Jubal Early’s retreating Confederates. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

—–

Primary Source: Long, E.B. and Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 573-75

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.

—–

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

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