The Civil War This Week: May 4-10, 1865

Thursday, May 4

General Richard Taylor surrendered all Confederate forces in Alabama and Mississippi to Federal General E.R.S. Canby at Citronelle, Alabama.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his party continued their southward flight toward Georgia.

Federal President Abraham Lincoln was laid to rest at Springfield, Illinois.

A Federal expedition began from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama and Missouri.

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Friday, May 5

The Connecticut legislature ratified the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery.

Jefferson Davis and his party reached Sandersville, Georgia.

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

Saturday, May 6

The War Department issued orders setting up the military commission to try the alleged conspirators to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

Jefferson Davis and his group continued moving southward as Federals scoured the countryside searching for them.

Federal expeditions began from Richmond, Virginia and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Sunday, May 7

Jefferson Davis and his party continued avoiding Federal troops.

Monday, May 8

E.R.S. Canby accepted the paroles of Richard Taylor’s troops and began preparing to move against the Confederate army west of the Mississippi River.

Federal expeditions began from various points in Missouri; Plum Creek in the Nebraska Territory; and Spring Hill, Alabama. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

Tuesday, May 9

Negotiations took place for the surrender of Brig Gen M. Jeff Thompson’s Confederates at Chalk Bluff on the St. Francis River in Arkansas.

President Andrew Johnson recognized Francis H. Pierpont as governor of Virginia.

The trial of the eight alleged conspirators to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination began in Washington.

Jefferson Davis and his wife Varina met near Dublin on the Oconee River in Georgia. Federal cavalry closed in on them this evening.

Wednesday, May 10

Federal cavalry captured Jefferson Davis and his group near Irwinville, Georgia.

President Johnson issued a proclamation that “armed resistance to the authority of this Government in the said insurrectionary States may be regarded as virtually at an end…” Therefore the Navy should arrest the crews of commerce raiders still on the high seas and bring them in. He also warned against continued hospitality by foreign powers toward Confederate ships. The naval blockade east of the Mississippi was partially lifted.

Major General Samuel Jones surrendered his Confederate forces at Tallahassee, Florida.

Federal irregulars mortally wounded William Clarke Quantrill near Taylorsville in Spencer County, Kentucky. Quantrill died on 6 June in Louisville.

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Primary Sources:

The Civil War This Week: Apr 27-May 3, 1865

Thursday, April 27

The steamboat Sultana exploded and sank in the Mississippi River, killing up to 1,800 recently released Federal prisoners of war in the worst maritime disaster in American history.

Early this morning, the steamship carrying the body of John Wilkes Booth arrived at Washington. At least 10 people who had known Booth identified the body as his. Federal officials imprisoned eight people accused of conspiring with Booth to kill Abraham Lincoln in Washington’s Old Penitentiary.

Federal Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton warned Major General George Thomas, commanding troops at Nashville, that Confederate President Jefferson Davis was moving toward Texas with $6 to $13 million. Stanton ordered Thomas to “use all possible means to prevent the escape of Davis.”

Meanwhile, Davis held a cabinet meeting at Fort Mill, where he expressed dismay that General Joseph E. Johnston had surrendered without even being surrounded or threatened with destruction. Treasury Secretary G.A. Trenholm submitted his resignation, too ill to continue the southward journey.

The Lincoln funeral train paused at Rochester and Buffalo, New York. Former President Millard Fillmore and future President Grover Cleveland paid tribute to Lincoln in Buffalo.

Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant left Raleigh, North Carolina after conferring with Major General William T. Sherman.

Skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

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Friday, April 28

Jefferson Davis continued moving into South Carolina. He accepted G.A. Trenholm’s resignation, thanking him for his “lofty patriotism and personal sacrifice,” and replaced him with Postmaster General John Reagan.

Some 50,000 people viewed Abraham Lincoln’s coffin in Cleveland. Workers hastily built an outdoor pavilion to accommodate the crowd, as 10,000 people filed past the coffin each hour in driving rain.

Rescuers collected survivors and debris from the Sultana explosion.

William T. Sherman left his officers to handle the dissolution of Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army and headed to Savannah, Georgia.

Saturday, April 29

President Andrew Johnson removed trade restrictions in former Confederate territory east of the Mississippi River.

People viewed Abraham Lincoln’s coffin at Columbus, Ohio.

Jefferson Davis and his party reached Yorkville, South Carolina.

Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky.

Sunday, April 30

North of Mobile, Federal General E.R.S. Canby and Confederate General Richard Taylor agreed to a truce prior to Taylor surrendering all Confederates in Alabama and Mississippi.

The Lincoln funeral train arrived at Indianapolis.

A Federal expedition began from Brashear City, Louisiana.

Monday, May 1

President Johnson appointed officers to form a commission and try the eight people accused of conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

In Chicago, a procession of about 50,000 people for Abraham Lincoln began at 12th Street and Michigan Avenue. Escorting Lincoln’s hearse were 36 girls in white representing the 36 states. The procession ended with Lincoln lying in state in the Cook County courthouse. A sign over the courthouse read: “Illinois Clasps to Her Bosom Her Slain, but Glorified Son.”

Jefferson Davis and his party arrived at Cokesbury, South Carolina.

Missouri Governor Thomas Fletcher replaced members of the state government in accordance with a resolution passed by a constitutional convention that vacated the state supreme court and about 800 jobs.

A Federal expedition began from Ojo de Anaya in the New Mexico Territory.

Tuesday, May 2

E.R.S. Canby telegraphed Ulysses S. Grant that Richard Taylor had agreed to surrender based on the same terms that Grant had given Robert E. Lee.

President Johnson issued a proclamation accusing Jefferson Davis and others of conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln and offering a $100,000 reward for Davis’s capture.

Lincoln’s coffin continued lying in state in Chicago’s Cook County courthouse. An estimated 125,000 mourners paid respects before the procession left town this evening, passing through Joliet around midnight on its way to Springfield.

The Davis party reached Abbeville, South Carolina. Davis held a council of war with his cabinet members and expressed his desire to continue the war. However, the others unanimously agreed that they would not conduct a guerrilla war to support a government-in-exile. They agreed to help Davis reach Mexico but nothing more. Shocked by his advisors’ resolve, Davis said, “All is lost indeed,” and the meeting adjourned. Navy Secretary Stephen R. Mallory resigned, and the remaining members of the Davis party left Abbeville before midnight.

Wednesday, May 3

Jefferson Davis and his party crossed the Savannah River and reached Washington, Georgia. Davis accepted Stephen Mallory’s resignation. Secretary of State Judah Benjamin also left the party and eventually escaped to Great Britain in a desperate attempt to garner foreign aid.

The Lincoln funeral train reached its final destination at Springfield, with Lincoln lying in state in the Illinois Statehouse. The mayor of St. Louis loaned Springfield a hearse valued at $6,000. A delegation of Illinoisans gathered in front of Lincoln’s home at 8th and Jackson streets.

President Johnson met with a Pennsylvania delegation and declared his intention to punish Confederate leaders for the war. However, Johnson asserted he would be lenient toward Confederate soldiers who had simply followed draft laws and served in the military.

A Federal expedition began from Fort Adams and Rodney in Mississippi. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

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Primary Sources:

The Civil War This Week: Apr 20-26, 1865

April 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Thursday, April 20

The Arkansas state legislature ratified the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery.

Former Confederate General-in-Chief Robert E. Lee wrote from Richmond to President Jefferson Davis, “I believe an army cannot be organized or supported in Virginia,” or anywhere else east of the Mississippi River. Lee opposed a partisan war and recommended suspending hostilities to restore peace.

General James Harrison Wilson’s Federal troops occupied Macon, Georgia. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia and Alabama.

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Friday, April 21

The body of President Abraham Lincoln left Washington en route to its final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.

John S. Mosby disbanded his Confederate partisans at Millwood, Virginia.

President Andrew Johnson told an Indiana delegation that he believed the southern states had never left the Union. This contrasted with the views of the Radical Republicans in Congress, who asserted that the southern states committed political “suicide” by seceding and must thus be treated as conquered provinces, not as equals to the northern “loyal” states.

Federal expeditions began from Donaldsonville, Louisiana and Rolla, Missouri.

Saturday, April 22

James H. Wilson’s Federal cavalry occupied Talladega, Alabama.

President Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth and accomplice David Herold crossed the Potomac River into Virginia.

The Lincoln funeral train reached Philadelphia from Harrisburg.

President Davis met with his cabinet at Charlotte to consider the surrender agreement between Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal Major General William T. Sherman.

General Henry W. Halleck assumed command of the Federal Military Division of the James, and Nathaniel P. Banks resumed command of the Department of the Gulf.

A Federal expedition began from Deer Creek in the Dakota Territory. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina, Georgia, and Missouri.

Sunday, April 23

James H. Wilson’s Federals skirmished at Munford’s Station, Alabama while General George Stoneman’s Federal cavalry fought near Hendersonville, North Carolina.

President Davis’s cabinet unanimously approved the surrender agreement between Joseph E. Johnston and William T. Sherman. Davis wrote to his wife Varina.

Federal expeditions began near Fort Zarah, Kansas and Pulaski, Tennessee.

Monday, April 24

Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant arrived at the headquarters of Major General William T. Sherman to inform him that the Johnson administration had rejected the surrender document signed by Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston last week. Sherman notified Johnston that the truce was suspended until a new agreement could be reached.

John Wilkes Booth and David Herold crossed the Rappahannock River at Port Conway, Virginia.

Tuesday, April 25

Joseph E. Johnston requested a new meeting with William T. Sherman to avoid renewing hostilities. Sherman accepted.

The Lincoln funeral train began moving toward Albany, New York.

A Federal expedition began from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

Wednesday, April 26

Around 2 a.m., Federal cavalry caught up to John Wilkes Booth and David Herold in a tobacco barn on the farm of Richard H. Garrett. Herold surrendered but Booth refused and was shot to death.

Joseph E. Johnston agreed to surrender all Confederate troops under his command to William T. Sherman according to the same surrender terms that Ulysses S. Grant had given to Robert E. Lee.

President Davis met with his cabinet at Charlotte and agreed to head southwest to get across the Mississippi River. Attorney General George Davis resigned.

A Federal expedition began from Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Primary Sources:

The Civil War This Week: Apr 13-19, 1865

April 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Thursday, April 13

Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal army entered the North Carolina capital of Raleigh. Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston moved from Greensboro to Hillsboro, North Carolina.

U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton ordered an end to the military draft and cut military appropriations.

President Abraham Lincoln conferred with General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant, Navy Secretary Gideon Welles, Stanton, and others.

A Federal expedition began from Lexington, Kentucky. Skirmishing occurred at Whistler or Eight Mile Creek Bridge and at Wetumpka, Alabama.

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Friday, April 14

Northern officers and dignitaries attended a flag-raising ceremony at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Henry Ward Beecher delivered an oration; President Lincoln had declined an invitation to attend.

William T. Sherman accepted the surrender of Raleigh, North Carolina, as his Federals advanced from Raleigh to Durham Station. Joseph E. Johnston received permission from President Jefferson Davis to ask Sherman if he was “willing to make a temporary suspension of active operations.”

President Lincoln was shot in the head by prominent actor John Wilkes Booth while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington.

Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama.

Saturday, April 15

President Abraham Lincoln died of his gunshot wound at 7:22 a.m. Andrew Johnson became the 17th U.S. president; to the horror of many northerners, Johnson was a southern Democrat.

Fugitives John Wilkes Booth and accomplice David Herold escaped from Washington and stayed at the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, who set Booth’s broken leg.

Jefferson Davis left Greensboro, North Carolina with a cavalry escort.

Federal expeditions began from Randolph and Pocahontas counties, West Virginia and Bath and Highland, Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina and Missouri.

Sunday, April 16

Northerners deeply mourned the death of Abraham Lincoln, and southerners knew that Lincoln’s death would result in vengeance against them.

Federal troops pursued John Wilkes Booth and David Herold, who reached the home of Samuel Cox in Rich Hill, Maryland.

The fleeing Confederate government reached Lexington, North Carolina.

Federal cavalry under General James Wilson captured West Point and Columbus in Georgia.

Skirmishing occurred in Alabama.

Monday, April 17

William T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston met at the Bennett House near Durham Station, North Carolina.

Jefferson Davis and his party reached Salisbury, North Carolina en route to Charlotte.

John Wilkes Booth and David Herold hid in a cluster of trees while trying to gain transport across the Potomac River south of Port Tobacco, Maryland.

This evening, the body of President Lincoln was taken from the guest chamber of the White House to the East Room, where it lay in state until the funeral on the 19th.

James Wilson’s Federal cavalry destroyed Columbus, Georgia and the ironclad gunboat C.S.S. Muscogee or Jackson.

A Federal expedition began from Blakely, Alabama. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina.

Tuesday, April 18

William T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston signed a “Memorandum, or Basis of Agreement,” which proved highly controversial.

Jefferson Davis and his party continued southward to Concord, North Carolina.

The body of Abraham Lincoln lay in state in the East Room of the White House.

James Wilson’s Federal cavalry skirmished in Georgia. Other skirmishing occurred in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Wednesday, April 19

Funeral services took place for Abraham Lincoln in the White House and later at the U.S. Capitol.

Major General John Pope, commanding the Federal Military Division of the Missouri, wrote to Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith, commanding the Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department, requesting Smith’s surrender based on the terms that Ulysses S. Grant had given to Robert E. Lee.

Major General Henry W. Halleck became commander of the Federal Military Division of the James, which included Virginia and parts of North Carolina not occupied by Sherman’s forces.

Jefferson Davis and his party arrived at Charlotte, North Carolina, where Davis first heard of Lincoln’s assassination. Confederate General Wade Hampton wrote to Davis proposing to cross the Mississippi River and continue the fight.

A Federal expedition began from Memphis, Tennessee and Terre Bonne, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Georgia.

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Primary Sources:

The Civil War This Week: Apr 6-12, 1865

April 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Thursday, April 6

The Battle of Sayler’s Creek occurred, in which Federals routed Confederate General-in-Chief Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia as it fled west from Petersburg and Richmond.

Federal cavalry under General James H. Wilson and General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates clashed near Lanier’s Mills, Sipsey Creek, and King’s Store in Alabama. Skirmishing occurred in southwest Virginia and West Virginia.

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Friday, April 7

Federal General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant sent Robert E. Lee a message “asking of you the surrender of that portion of the C.S Army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.” Lee responded by asking “the terms you will offer on condition of its surrender.”

Tennessee ratified the Thirteenth Amendment and inaugurated abolitionist W.G. “Parson” Brownlow as governor.

Officials of the U.S. and Great Britain opened correspondence over claims arising from depredations of the Confederate commerce raider Alabama.

James H. Wilson and Nathan Bedford Forrest clashed at Fike’s Ferry on the Cahawba River in Alabama. A Federal expedition began from Blakely, Alabama.

Saturday, April 8

Ulysses S. Grant answered Robert E. Lee’s query of yesterday by stating that “the men and officers surrendered shall be disqualified from taking up arms again against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged.”

Confederate defenders evacuated Spanish Fort guarding Mobile, Alabama during the night.

A Federal expedition began from Vienna and Fairfax Court House, Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina and Missouri.

Sunday, April 9

Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. This virtually sealed the Confederacy’s defeat.

Monday, April 10

Robert E. Lee issued General Order No. 9, his last official order as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia: “After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources…”

Confederate President Jefferson Davis, upon learning of Lee’s surrender, left Danville, Virginia to relocate at Greensboro, North Carolina.

James H. Wilson’s Federals clashed the Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederates at Lowndesborough and Benton, Alabama. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and North Carolina.

Tuesday, April 11

Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal Army of the West entered Smithfield, North Carolina, where they learned of Lee’s surrender two days ago.

President Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech to a joyous crowd from a second floor window in the White House. His legalistic explanation of what could be expected in the upcoming reconstruction period dampened spirits a bit.

Wednesday, April 12

James H. Wilson’s Federals occupied the Alabama state capital of Montgomery, which had also been the first Confederate capital.

Jefferson Davis and his cabinet arrived at Greensboro to a cold reception. Davis consulted with General P.G.T. Beauregard on how to continue the fight.

A formal surrender ceremony took place as the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia relinquished its arms.

President Lincoln revoked permission for the pro-Confederate Virginia legislature to assemble at Richmond.

William T. Sherman’s Federals approached Raleigh, North Carolina.

Federal expeditions began from Port Hudson, Louisiana; Tallahassa Mission in the Indian Territory; Dakota City in the Nebraska Territory; and Fort Stanton in the New Mexico Territory.

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Primary Sources:

The Civil War This Week: Mar 30-Apr 5, 1865

Thursday, March 30

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, still visiting the Federal supply base at City Point, Virginia, said he should return to Washington, “and yet I dislike to leave without seeing nearer to the end of General (Ulysses S.) Grant’s present movement.”

Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to a friend: “Faction has done much to cloud our prospects and impair my power to serve the country.”

A Federal expedition began from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama and West Virginia.

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Friday, March 31

General James H. Wilson’s Federal cavalry destroyed iron furnaces and collieries around Montevallo, Alabama.

In Virginia, Major General Philip Sheridan’s Federals and Confederates under Major General George Pickett clashed at Dinwiddie Court House. Pickett withdrew to Five Forks this evening.

Federal operations took place around Agua Fria in the New Mexico Territory. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Saturday, April 1

The Battle of Five Forks occurred, in which Federals routed George Pickett’s Confederates and compelled General Robert E. Lee to abandon Petersburg and Richmond.

In a letter to Lee, President Davis noted he had “been laboring without much progress to advance the raising of negro troops.” Davis admitted: “The distrust is increasing and embarrasses in many ways.”

C.S.S. Shenandoah captured four U.S. whalers in Lea Harbor, Ascension Island (now Ponape Island, Eastern Carolines) in the Pacific.

James H. Wilson’s Federal cavalry skirmished with Confederates under General Nathan Bedford Forrest at various points in northern Alabama.

Federal expeditions began from Dalton, Georgia; Licking, Missouri; and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Federals operated against Native Americans west of Fort Laramie in the Dakota Territory. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee.

Sunday, April 2

President Davis received a message from Robert E. Lee while attending church services that Petersburg and Richmond must be abandoned. Later today, Petersburg fell to Federal forces.

James H. Wilson’s Federal cavalry captured Selma, Alabama. Also in Alabama, Federal forces began laying siege to Fort Blakely in their attempt to capture Mobile.

Federal expeditions began from Thibodeaux, Bayou City, Brashear City, and The Hermitage, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina and Arkansas.

Monday, April 3

The Confederate capital of Richmond fell to Federal forces after four years of brutal warfare in Virginia.

James H. Wilson’s cavalry clashed with Nathan Bedford Forrest at Northport near Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Federal expeditions began from Huntsville, Alabama and Asheville, North Carolina. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Tennessee.

Tuesday, April 4

President Lincoln visited the ruins of Richmond. He also conferred with John A. Campbell, the highest ranking Confederate official still in Richmond, about restoring Virginia to the U.S.

James H. Wilson’s Federals entered Tuscaloosa.

From the temporary Confederate capital of Danville, Virginia, President Davis issued a proclamation “To the People of the Confederate States of America”:

It would be unwise, even if it were possible, to conceal the great moral, as well as material injury to our cause that must result from the occupation of Richmond by the enemy. It is equally unwise and unworthy of us, as patriots engaged in a most sacred cause, to allow our energies to falter, our spirits to grow faint, or our efforts to become relaxed, under reverses however calamitous… Relieved from the necessity of guarding cities, nothing is now needed to render our triumph certain but… our own unquenchable resolve…

Wednesday, April 5

Robert E. Lee’s Confederates arrived at Amelia Court House with no supplies waiting for them as Lee had requested.

President Lincoln conferred with John A. Campbell again and issued a statement about restoring Virginia to the U.S. At 6 p.m., Lincoln received news that Secretary of State William H. Seward had been critically injured in a carriage accident in Washington that afternoon.

Two Federal expeditions began from Charleston and Georgetown, South Carolina, and another began from Huntsville, Alabama. Federals operated against Natives from Camp Bidwell to Antelope Creek, California.

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Primary Sources:

The Civil War This Week: Mar 23-29, 1865

March 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Thursday, March 23

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, First Lady Mary Lincoln, son Tad, and aides left Washington to visit the headquarters of General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant at City Point, Virginia. The Lincoln party boarded River Queen and departed from the Sixth Street Arsenal Wharf at 1 p.m.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman met with Major General John M. Schofield at Goldsboro, North Carolina. This completed the junction of Federal forces in the state, as Sherman now had six corps totaling 88,948 men. In contrast, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston had barely 20,000 troops as he withdrew across the Neuse River. Johnston wrote to Confederate General-in-Chief Robert E. Lee: “Sherman’s course cannot be hindered by the small force I have. I can do no more than annoy him…”

A Federal expedition began from Donaldsonville, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina and Alabama.

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Friday, March 24

The Lincoln party arrived at City Point late this evening. The Lincolns’ son Robert, serving on Ulysses S. Grant’s staff, reported his family’s arrival to Grant.

Troops from the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia prepared to break out of the siege lines at Petersburg, Virginia. They had chosen Fort Stedman as the best breakout site because it could cut Grant’s supply line at City Point and enable to Confederates to join Joseph E. Johnston in Virginia.

William T. Sherman wrote to Grant, “I think I see pretty clearly how, in one more move, we can checkmate Lee, forcing him to unite Johnston with him in defense of Richmond, or, by leaving Richmond, to abandon the cause. I feel certain if he leaves Richmond, Virginia leaves the Confederacy.”

A Federal expedition began from Bayou Boeuf, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina, Alabama, and Missouri.

Saturday, March 25

The Battle of Fort Stedman occurred as Confederates surprised the Federals and quickly captured the fort. However, Federal reinforcements soon arrived, and the overwhelming numbers drove the Confederates back. By 7:45 a.m., the Federals had regained the fort and all other positions, and the Confederate breakout attempt ended in failure.

Later this morning, President Lincoln accompanied Ulysses S. Grant on a horseback inspection of Federal troops at Petersburg, which included reviewing the Fort Stedman battle site.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis received a warning from Robert E. Lee that Richmond may have to be abandoned after the defeat at Fort Stedman. Davis told his wife Varina: “My headquarters for the future may be in the field, and your presence would embarrass and grieve me instead of giving comfort.” Mrs. Davis pleaded to stay with her husband, but Davis said: “You can do this in but one way: by going yourself and taking the children to a place of safety. If I live, you can come to me when the struggle is ended,” but he did not “expect to survive the destruction of constitutional liberty.” Davis prohibited her from taking any food with her because “the people need it.”

Federal forces under Major General E.R.S. Canby reached Spanish Fort, nine miles east of Mobile, Alabama through hard rain. Despite Mobile’s formidable defenses, the Confederates were hopelessly outnumbered.

William T. Sherman left his Federal army at Goldsboro under John M. Schofield’s command and headed to City Point to confer with Grant. Meanwhile, Federals repaired the railroad from Goldsboro to New Bern, allowing troops to begin receiving food, supplies, and mail from the North.

Two Federal expeditions began from Brashear City, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia.

Sunday, March 26

President Lincoln reviewed troops at Petersburg and met with Federal Major General Philip Sheridan. An incident occurred in which Mrs. Lincoln became enraged upon seeing the wife of a Federal general sitting horseback beside the president during the troop review. The first lady vented her wrath on both the general’s wife and the wife of Ulysses S. Grant.

Robert E. Lee wrote to President Davis: “I fear now it will be impossible to prevent a junction between Grant and Sherman, nor do I deem it prudent that this army should maintain its position until the latter shall approach too near.” Lee prepared to abandon Petersburg and Richmond and move west to join Johnston in North Carolina.

Ulysses S. Grant issued false orders for Philip Sheridan’s Federals to join William T. Sherman in North Carolina. Sheridan’s true orders, issued in secret, were to lead the upcoming Federal drive to destroy Lee’s army.

Sherman boarded the steamer Russia this morning en route to City Point. He said, “I’m going up to see Grant for five minutes and have it all chalked out for me, and then come back and pitch in.”

Confederate envoy James Mason conferred with the Earl of Donoughmore about the Confederacy’s offer to free the slaves in exchange for British recognition. The earl stated that had the proposal been made before the Battle of Gettysburg, it would have been accepted. But now, Mason said, “He replied that the time had gone by.”

Federals began firing on Spanish Fort outside Mobile, Alabama. A Federal expedition began from Bonnet Carre, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama and Kentucky.

Monday, March 27

William T. Sherman arrived at City Point to meet with President Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Rear Admiral David D. Porter. The men gathered aboard River Queen in the first meeting between the president and his field commanders. Today’s talks were mainly social, as Sherman shared stories from the Carolinas Campaign. The commanders agreed that “one more bloody battle was likely to occur before the close of the war.”

E.R.S. Canby’s 32,000 Federals began laying siege to Spanish Fort outside Mobile, Alabama. Ironclads in the Gulf of Mexico backed the Federal siege.

Philip Sheridan’s Federals crossed the James and joined the Army of the Potomac. Sheridan had hurried out of fear that Sherman would persuade Grant to send him to North Carolina instead of joining the final drive against Robert E. Lee.

A Federal expedition began from Winchester, Virginia.

Tuesday, March 28

The Federal high command continued talks aboard River Queen this morning. President Lincoln expressed hope that high-ranking Confederates, including Jefferson Davis, would flee the country. Regarding surrender, Lincoln said: “Let them once surrender and reach their homes, they won’t take up arms again. Let them go, officers and all. I want submission and no more bloodshed.” When the fighting stopped, southerners “would at once be guaranteed all their rights as citizens of a common country.” Lincoln said, “I want no one punished, treat them liberally all around. We want those people to return to their allegiance to the Union and submit to the laws.”

The City Point conference set the tone for how the Federal commanders would handle the Confederates in upcoming engagements. Following the talks, William T. Sherman returned to Goldsboro.

Federal troops shifted positions in front of Petersburg in preparation for a scheduled advance tomorrow. Robert E. Lee wrote to his daughter: “Genl Grant is evidently preparing for something & is marshalling & preparing his troops for some movement, which is not yet disclosed…”

Federal expeditions began from Deep Bottom, Virginia and Fort Pike, Louisiana. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee.

Wednesday, March 29

Robert E. Lee shifted Confederate forces to the right of his Petersburg line to counter the growing Federal threat to the Five Forks area. Philip Sheridan began moving forces in that direction to cut the two railroads supplying Confederates in Petersburg and Richmond. Sheridan reached Dinwiddie Court House this afternoon in a movement toward the Southside Railroad.

A Confederate torpedo sunk U.S.S. Osage in the Blakely River, Alabama. Federal expeditions began from Waynesville, Missouri and Stephenson’s Depot, Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Missouri.

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Primary Sources:

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