Wednesday, December 3. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and western Virginia. Three Confederate blockade runners were captured off the coast of North Carolina. In Mississippi, Federal forces under General Ulysses S. Grant continued pressing Confederates along the Yocknapatalfa River.
Thursday, December 4. General Joseph E. Johnston assumed command of all Confederate forces in the West. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory. In Minnesota, settlers attacked Indian prisoners in a continuation of the Dakota Sioux War that had erupted in August. In Kentucky, Confederates captured supplies at Prestonburg.
Friday, December 5. In Mississippi, Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal cavalry was defeated in a skirmish at Coffeeville.
Saturday, December 6. President Abraham Lincoln ordered the execution of 39 Indians among the 393 convicted in participating in the Dakota Sioux War. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Missouri.
Sunday, December 7. The Battle of Prairie Grove occurred about 12 miles southwest of Fayetteville, Arkansas on Illinois Creek. Confederate General Thomas C. Hindman had hoped to destroy two Federal armies before they could unite. However, the Federals had joined forces by the time the Confederates attacked. After intense and confusing combat, the Confederates held their ground, but the bitterly cold weather forced them to withdraw during the night.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis, concerned about Vicksburg, wired General John C. Pemberton at Grenada, Mississippi, “Are you in communication with Genl. J.E. Johnston? Hope you will be re-inforced in time.” The Confederate Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana was organized with Generals Earl Van Dorn and Sterling Price commanding the First and Second Corps. Confederate John Hunt Morgan and about 1,400 men surprised and captured a Federal garrison at Hartsville, Tennessee.
Monday, December 8. President Davis informed General Robert E. Lee that he was going west to address the dwindling Confederate prospects in Tennessee and Mississippi. Davis also expressed regret that he could offer no more manpower to Lee’s outnumbered Army of Northern Virginia.
Tuesday, December 9. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri. Federal expeditions began from Ozark, Missouri and from Corinth, Mississippi toward Tuscumbia, Alabama.
Primary source: The Civil War Day by Day by E.B. Long and Barbara Long (New York, NY: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971)