This Week in the Civil War: July 29 – Aug 4, 1863

Wednesday, July 29.  Following the string of Confederate defeats this month, Queen Victoria of England informed the British Parliament that she saw “no reason to depart from the strict neutrality which Her Majesty has observed from the beginning of the contest.”

President Abraham Lincoln stated that he opposed “pressing” General George G. Meade, commanding the Federal Army of the Potomac, into immediately attacking General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. Federals clashed with Indians in the Dakota and New Mexico territories.

Thursday, July 30.  President Lincoln directed General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck to issue an order declaring the U.S. government would “give the same protection to all its soldiers, and if the enemy shall sell or enslave anyone because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy’s prisoners in our possession…” This “Order of Retaliation” was prompted by the Confederate order “dooming to death or slavery every negro taken in arms, and every white officer who commands negro troops.”

Lincoln’s order sought to offset the Confederacy’s “relapse into barbarism,” stating “the law of nations and the usages and customs of war as carried on by civilized powers, permit no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war.” Under this order, “for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed; and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor.”

Skirmishing occurred in South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Friday, July 31.  In Virginia, Federals clashed with Confederates while crossing the Rappahannock River at Kelly’s Ford. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

Saturday, August 1.  Federal Rear Admiral David D. Porter assumed command of naval forces on the Mississippi River. Now that the entire waterway was in Federal hands, Porter’s main objective was to defend against Confederate guerrilla attacks on Federal shipping.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis offered amnesty to all soldiers absent without leave if they would return to their units within 20 days. In asking for more sacrifice, Davis proclaimed that “no alternative is left you but victory, or subjugation, slavery and utter ruin of yourselves, your families and your country.”

In Virginia, a cavalry skirmish near Brandy Station ended the Gettysburg Campaign. On the South Carolina coast, Federals began concentrating for another attack on Battery Wagner in Charleston Harbor. The Federal War Department disbanded the Fourth and Seventh Army Corps.

Prominent Confederate spy Belle Boyd was imprisoned in Washington a second time after being apprehended in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Sunday, August 2.  On the South Carolina coast, Federals attacked the Confederate steamer Chesterfield off Morris Island in Charleston Harbor. President Davis wrote Robert E. Lee, “It is painful to contemplate our weakness when you ask for reinforcements.” Skirmishing occurred in Virginia.

Monday, August 3.  In response to the New York City draft riots last month, New York Governor Horatio Seymour requested that President Lincoln suspend the military draft in his state. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Tuesday, August 4.  On the South Carolina coast, Federals continued bombarding Charleston Harbor while preparing the “Swamp Angel,” a massive cannon, to aid in the bombardment. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

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

This Week in the Civil War: July 22-28, 1863

Wednesday, July 22.  In Ohio, General John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate raid continued with skirmishing at Eagleport. Morgan’s Confederates fled northward from Federal pursuers.

In Virginia, General George G. Meade, commanding the Federal Army of the Potomac, directed General William H. French, commanding Third Corps, to attack Confederates under General Robert E. Lee in Manassas Gap tomorrow. The New York Chamber of Commerce estimated that Confederate raiders had taken 150 Federal merchant vessels valued at over $12 million. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina and Louisiana.

Thursday, July 23.  In Virginia, William H. French’s Federals pushed through Manassas Gap but were delayed for hours by a Confederate brigade. This allowed the remainder of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to escape southward. Other skirmishing occurred at various points, but George G. Meade’s effort to destroy Lee in the Shenandoah Valley failed.

In Ohio, John Hunt Morgan’s straggling Confederates skirmished at Rockville.

Friday, July 24.  In Virginia, the Federal Third Corps occupied Front Royal, and George G. Meade began concentrating his remaining forces at Warrenton. Robert E. Lee’s Confederates began arriving at Culpeper Court House, south of the Rappahannock River. Lee wrote to President Jefferson Davis that he had intended to march east of the Blue Ridge, but high water and other obstacles prevented him from doing so before the Federals crossed the Potomac into Loudoun County.

In Ohio, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates skirmished at Washington and Athens. On the South Carolina coast, Federal naval vessels bombarded Battery Wagner in Charleston Harbor as Federal infantry advanced their siege lines. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and the New Mexico Territory.

Saturday, July 25.  In Ohio, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates skirmished near Steubenville and Springfield. The Confederate Department of East Tennessee was merged into the Department of Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

Sunday, July 26.  In Ohio, John Hunt Morgan and his Confederate raiders surrendered to Federal forces at Salineville. Morgan and his men were exhausted and outnumbered after invading enemy territory and moving east near the Pennsylvania border. They were imprisoned in Ohio State Penitentiary in Columbus. Morgan’s unauthorized raid had resulted in sensational headlines, the capture of nearly 6,000 Federal prisoners, the destruction of hundreds of bridges and railroad tracks, and the diversion of Federal attention from other campaigns. However, it did little to affect the war.

In Texas, prominent statesman Sam Houston died at Huntsville. Houston had opposed secession but knew that as long as the people of Texas chose to secede, they could not turn back. In Kentucky, John J. Crittenden died at Frankfort. A longtime member of Congress, Crittenden had tried to negotiate a compromise between North and South before the war.

In accordance with an act of Congress expelling the Dakota Sioux Indians from Minnesota, Colonel Henry Sibley’s Federals pursued the Lakota and Dakota Indians into the Dakota Territory and defeated them at the Battle of Dead Buffalo Lake. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

Monday, July 27.  In Alabama, Confederate leader William Lowndes Yancey died at Montgomery. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri, and Louisiana.

Tuesday, July 28.  President Davis wrote to Robert E. Lee and shared his views on the recent Confederate defeats: “I have felt more than ever before the want of your advice during the recent period of disaster.” Noting that public opinion was turning against him, Davis stated, “If a victim would secure the success of our cause I would freely offer myself.”

In Virginia, General John S. Mosby’s Confederate raiders harassed George G. Meade’s Federals. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and the Dakota Territory.

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

This Week in the Civil War: July 15-21, 1863

Wednesday, July 15.  In Ohio, General John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates continued moving east of Cincinnati toward the Ohio River as Federals pursued. In Virginia, General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia slowly moved south up the Shenandoah Valley. In Mississippi, General William T. Sherman’s Federals increased pressure on Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston at the state capital of Jackson.

President Lincoln issued a proclamation designating August 6 as a day of praise, prayer, and thanksgiving for the recent military victories. To Confederate General Theophilus H. Holmes in the Trans-Mississippi Department, President Jefferson Davis confided, “The clouds are truly dark over us.”

In New York City, order was gradually being restored after three days of violent rioting. In Kentucky, Federals occupied Hickman. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia and Tennessee.

Thursday, July 16.  U.S.S. Wyoming Captain James S. McDougal destroyed Japanese batteries in the Straits of Shimonoseki after learning that Japan was expelling foreigners and closing the Straits. Wyoming had stopped at Yokohama during her search for famed Confederate commerce raider C.S.S. Alabama. This was the first naval battle between the U.S. and Japan, and an international naval squadron later forced Japan to reopen the Straits.

In Mississippi, Joseph E. Johnston abandoned Jackson to William T. Sherman’s Federals after being outnumbered and outmaneuvered. On the South Carolina coast, Federal army and navy forces repulsed a Confederate assault near Grimball’s Landing on James Island. In Louisiana, the steamer Imperial became the first Federal vessel to successfully travel down the Mississippi River from St. Louis to New Orleans in over two years.

In Virginia, Robert E. Lee wrote to Jefferson Davis, “The men are in good health and spirits, but want shoes and clothing badly… As soon as these necessary articles are obtained, we shall be prepared to resume operations.” Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

Friday, July 17.  In Ohio, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates met stiff Federal resistance near Hamden and Berlin as they continued trying to reach the Ohio River. In Virginia, a cavalry skirmish occurred at Wytheville. Other skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

In the Indian Territory, General James G. Blunt’s Federals attacked Confederates under General Douglas H. Cooper in the largest engagement in the region. The Confederates withdrew due to lack of ammunition in a battle that featured black Federals opposing Confederate Indians.

Saturday, July 18.  On the South Carolina coast, Federals continued efforts to capture Charleston. The harbor was pummeled by artillery before about 6,000 Federals launched a frontal attack on Fort Wagner on the south end of Morris Island. Leading the assault was the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry regiment. A portion of the Confederate earthworks was temporarily captured, but the attack was ultimately repulsed with heavy losses. This Federal defeat proved that Charleston could not be taken by a joint Army-Navy force without first conducting a siege. Despite the defeat, this effort earned fame for the 54th and legitimized the role of blacks as U.S. soldiers.

In Ohio, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates were becoming desperate due to relentless Federal pursuit and pressure. They reached Buffington on the Ohio River, but it was guarded by Federals and Morgan had to wait until next morning to try crossing back into Kentucky.

In Indiana, George W.L. Bickley, a leader of the Knights of the Golden Circle, was arrested. President Lincoln commuted several sentences for soldiers found guilty of various crimes.

President Davis called for enrollment in the Confederate army those coming under jurisdiction of the Conscription Act. General John G. Foster assumed command of the Federal Department of Virginia and North Carolina, and General John A. Dix assumed command of the Federal Department of the East. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and the New Mexico Territory.

Sunday, July 19.  In Ohio, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates attacked Buffington in an effort to cross the Ohio River, but Federals repulsed them. The Confederates suffered over 800 casualties, including 700 captured. Morgan’s remaining 300 men continued along the Ohio toward Pennsylvania.

General George G. Meade’s Federal Army of the Potomac completed crossing the Potomac River into Virginia in their pursuit of Robert E. Lee. General D.H. Hill replaced General William Hardee as commander of Second Corps in General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee. Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi and the New Mexico Territory.

Monday, July 20.  In Ohio, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates skirmished near Hockingport as they turned northward away from the Ohio River. In Virginia, skirmishing occurred between George G. Meade’s Federals and Robert E. Lee’s Confederates.

On the South Carolina coast, Federal naval forces bombarded Legare’s Point on James Island. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina and the Indian Territory.

The Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce expelled 33 members for refusing to take an oath of allegiance. New York merchants gathered to organize relief efforts for black victims of the draft riots.

Tuesday, July 21.  In Virginia, skirmishing continued between George G. Meade’s Federals and Robert E. Lee’s Confederates. President Lincoln wrote to General O.O. Howard describing George G. Meade “as a brave and skillful officer, and a true man.” Lincoln directed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton to renew vigorous efforts to raise black troops along the Mississippi River.

President Davis wrote to Robert E. Lee expressing concern over the defeat at Gettysburg and the Federal threat to Charleston, South Carolina. General John D. Imboden was given command of the Confederate Valley District. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina.

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

This Week in the Civil War: July 8-14, 1863

Wednesday, July 8.  General John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate raiders crossed the Ohio River west of Louisville and entered Indiana after destroying supply and communication lines. Citizens panicked, fearing that local Copperheads would join Morgan’s attack.

In Louisiana, Confederates under siege at Port Hudson on the Mississippi River learned of Vicksburg’s surrender. Realizing that hope was lost, Confederate General Franklin Gardner asked Federal General Nathaniel Banks for surrender terms.

General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia reached Hagerstown, Maryland. Lee wrote to President Jefferson Davis that he was “not in the least discouraged” by the defeat at Gettysburg last week.

Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi as General William T. Sherman’s Federals advanced on the state capital at Jackson. In Massachusetts, the Federal military draft began.

Thursday, July 9.  In Louisiana, Franklin Gardner unconditionally surrendered his 7,208 remaining men at Port Hudson after enduring a six-week siege. The fall of Vicksburg on July 4 had isolated Port Hudson on the Mississippi River, making surrender inevitable. This opened the entire Mississippi to Federal navigation and split the Confederacy in two.

In Indiana, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates raided homes and businesses in Corydon. In Mississippi, skirmishing continued between William T. Sherman’s Federals and Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston. Jefferson Davis wrote to Johnston expressing hope that the Federals “may yet be crushed and the late disaster could be repaired by a concentration of all forces.”

Friday, July 10.  In South Carolina, Federal naval forces bombarded Charleston in an effort to seize the vital harbor. As part of the effort, Federal infantry under General Quincy A. Gillmore targeted a prime harbor defense point: Battery or Fort Wagner on the south end of Morris Island. Jefferson Davis wrote to South Carolina Governor M.L. Bonham to send local troops to Charleston to defend against the Federal attacks. In addition to escalated Federal attacks on Charleston, the Confederacy was reeling after losses at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Tullahoma, and Port Hudson.

In Indiana, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates skirmished at Salem before turning east toward Ohio. Skirmishing occurred at various points between Robert E. Lee’s Confederates and General George G. Meade’s Federal Army of the Potomac. Lee’s troops reached the Potomac River in their effort to return to Virginia.

Saturday, July 11.  In South Carolina, a Federal attack on Fort Wagner was repulsed by Confederate defenders. Jefferson Davis wrote to Joseph E. Johnston that since both Generals P.G.T. Beauregard at Charleston and Braxton Bragg at Chattanooga were under threat, “The importance of your position is apparent, and you will not fail to employ all available means to ensure success.”

In Maryland, Robert E. Lee’s Confederates established defensive positions along the Potomac River because George G. Meade’s Federals were approaching and the river was too high to ford. In Mississippi, William T. Sherman’s Federals reached the outskirts of Jackson.

In New York City, the first names of men eligible for the Federal military draft were randomly drawn by officials in the Ninth District Provost Marshal’s office at Third Avenue and 46th Street. The names were published in city newspapers. The notion of being forced into the military added to growing northern resentment of both the war and the Lincoln administration. That resentment was especially strong in New York, where Governor Horatio Seymour denounced Abraham Lincoln’s unjust war and unconstitutional attacks on civil liberties.

Sunday, July 12.  In Maryland, George G. Meade’s Federals prepared to attack Robert E. Lee’s Confederates near Williamsport. However, the Potomac River was falling, and Lee began planning to cross the next day.

In Mississippi, William T. Sherman’s Federals skirmished near Canton. In Indiana, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate invasion was losing momentum due to straggling troops and resistance from angry citizens.

Monday, July 13.  In New York City, an enraged mob attacked the Ninth District Provost Marshal’s office where the military draft was being conducted. The mob used stones, bricks, clubs, and bats. Officials were beaten and the building was burned. The police tried to stop the violence, but they were quickly overwhelmed by the enormous mob.

The three-day rampage resulted in the burning of businesses, hotels, police stations, the mayor’s home, and the pro-Republican New York Tribune office. Blacks were beaten, tortured, and killed, including a crippled coachman who was lynched and burned as rioters chanted, “Hurrah for Jeff Davis.” The Colored Orphan Asylum was burned, but police saved most of the orphans. A heavy rain helped extinguish the fires, but the riot continued for two more days. Riots also occurred in Boston; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Rutland, Vermont; Wooster, Ohio; and Troy, New York.

John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate raiders entered Ohio and captured Harrison. Morgan initially planned to attack either Hamilton or Cincinnati, but due to growing Federal resistance, he decided to return south. Federal authorities declared martial law in Cincinnati. In Maryland, Robert E. Lee’s Confederates began crossing the Potomac River into Virginia during the night.

In Mississippi, Federals occupied Yazoo City and Natchez without a fight. Texas Governor F.R. Lubbock wrote to Jefferson Davis requesting more arms to defend the state. President Lincoln wrote to General Ulysses S. Grant congratulating him on his capture of Vicksburg. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Louisiana.

Tuesday, July 14.  In New York, workers joined the rioters in attacking the homes of prominent Republicans. Governor Seymour unsuccessfully tried to stop the violence. An announcement suspending the draft eased the riot somewhat, but it continued into the next day.

In Maryland, George G. Meade’s Federals advanced on the Confederate defensive works but found them abandoned, as Robert E. Lee had withdrawn across the Potomac last night. President Lincoln wrote a letter to Meade that he never signed or sent, stating “Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasureably (sic) because of it.”

In Ohio, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates skirmished near Camp Dennison. General W.H.C. Whiting was appointed commander of the Confederate Department of North Carolina. Jefferson Davis wrote to Senator R.W. Johnson, “In proportion as our difficulties increase, so must we all cling together, judge charitably of each other, and strive to bear and forbear, however great may be the sacrifice and bitter the trial…”

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

This Week in the Civil War: July 1-7, 1863

Wednesday, July 1.  GettysburgIn Pennsylvania, the Battle of Gettysburg began between General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and General George G. Meade’s Federal Army of the Potomac. Fighting erupted when the Federal vanguard under General John Buford arrived at the town. As General Richard Ewell’s Confederates advanced from the northwest, Buford held his ground and called on the rest of the Federal army to hurry and support him.

Reinforcements gradually arrived on both sides, and the skirmish became a battle at several points outside Gettysburg. One of the Federals’ best corps commanders, General John Reynolds, was killed in action. The Federals slowly withdrew south of town to Cemetery Hill, where Robert E. Lee ordered Ewell to capture the position “if practicable.” Ewell decided not to attack, and a vital opportunity to seize the high ground and destroy the Federal army was lost. By day’s end, both sides had suffered terrible casualties, but Federal reinforcements were forming a nearly impregnable defense.

In Mississippi, the brutal Federal siege of Vicksburg was taking its toll on the Confederate troops and civilians in the city. Residents holed up in hillside caves to avoid artillery, and many were starving. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Western Theater, was unable to help the Confederates trapped in Vicksburg because General Ulysses S. Grant’s besieging Federal army was being constantly reinforced.

In Tennessee, General William S. Rosecrans’s Federal Army of the Cumberland captured Tullahoma without a fight after a brilliant campaign of maneuver against General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee. Because this campaign featured no major fighting, its success was overshadowed by Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Nevertheless, Bragg considered the loss of Tullahoma “a great disaster” as he withdrew to Chattanooga.

In Virginia, residents of Richmond were alarmed by a Federal expedition that came close to the capital city. In Missouri, a pro-Union state convention resolved to end slavery in the state by July 4, 1870. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky and the Indian Territory.

Thursday, July 2.  The Battle of Gettysburg continued, as Robert E. Lee ordered General James Longstreet to attack the Federal left at Cemetery Ridge and the Round Tops, while Richard Ewell attacked the Federal right at Culp’s and Cemetery Hills. The attacks were ineffective until Federals under General Daniel Sickles blundered by moving forward into a wheat field and creating a gap in the line. The Confederates captured several key points but were repulsed at Little Round Top by Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain’s 20th Maine. The second day of fighting ended in brutal stalemate. That night, George G. Meade conferred with subordinates and decided to hold his ground. He hurried Federal reinforcements to the line’s center at Cemetery Ridge, guessing that since Lee had attacked both Federal flanks, he would try the center next.

In Mississippi, John C. Pemberton conferred with his commanders and agreed that Vicksburg must be surrendered to save the residents from starving. Pemberton contacted Ulysses S. Grant to discuss possible surrender terms, and a meeting between the two commanders was scheduled for tomorrow.

In Richmond, Confederate President Jefferson Davis authorized Vice President Alexander Stephens to “proceed as a military commissioner under flag of truce to Washington.” Stephens was to officially negotiate prisoner exchange, but he was also empowered to discuss a possible end to the war.

In Kentucky, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan began a raid to ease Federal pressure on Tennessee. General Braxton Bragg had approved Morgan’s Kentucky raid, but Bragg had not been informed that Morgan also planned to cross the Ohio River and invade the North. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia.

Friday, July 3.  The Battle of Gettysburg concluded. As George G. Meade had guessed, Robert E. Lee planned to attack the Federal center at Cemetery Ridge and split the line in two. Lee overruled James Longstreet’s objections, confident his troops would succeed. After one of the largest artillery fights in American history, Longstreet ordered his three divisions to advance in what became known as “Pickett’s Charge,” named for General George Pickett, one of the division commanders.

The Confederates marched through artillery and rifle fire, making it to the ridge where fierce hand-to-hand combat ensued. In what was later called the “Confederate high-water mark,” the charge was unsuccessful and the Federals were victorious. Lee refused pleas from his troops to try another charge, instead preparing defenses for a Federal counterattack that never came. This was the most terrible battle ever fought in North America, as nearly 50,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing over three days of fighting.

In Mississippi, a tense meeting occurred between John C. Pemberton and Ulysses S. Grant over possible surrender terms for the Confederates besieged in Vicksburg. Grant initially insisted that all captured Confederate soldiers be sent North as prisoners of war. But then he relented and offered to parole them if they pledged not to take up arms again. Pemberton agreed.

In Kentucky, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates skirmished as they advanced on Columbia. In New Orleans, the Federal commander banned all public gatherings except for church services without written permission; no more than three people were allowed to congregate at one place in the streets; and a 9 p.m. curfew was enacted to prevent rebellion against the Federal occupation forces. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee.

Saturday, July 4.  John C. Pemberton formally surrendered Vicksburg to Ulysses S. Grant. This ended a Federal campaign that had lasted over a year; it left a once-proud Confederate stronghold in ruins with its residents starving and destitute. The remaining 29,000 Confederate soldiers marched out of Vicksburg at 10 a.m. and stacked their arms. Along with the men, the Federals also captured 172 cannon and 60,000 muskets. Grant’s Federals entered the city and began providing food to the starving civilians and soldiers.

The twin victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg sparked massive celebrations throughout the North, and 100-gun salutes were fired in most major cities. The fall of Vicksburg meant that the fall of Port Hudson was inevitable, thus opening the entire Mississippi River to Federal transport and commerce. This day marked the turning point of the war. From this point forward, the Confederacy could only rely on northern war weariness or foreign intervention for victory.

In Pennsylvania, Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia began returning to Virginia after its defeat at Gettysburg. President Lincoln announced “a great success to the cause of the Union” for the Army of the Potomac.

As the Confederate gunboat Torpedo carried Vice President Alexander Stephens down the James River to Hampton Roads, President Davis wrote to President Lincoln requesting that Stephens be allowed to negotiate with Federal authorities. However, having just won major victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Lincoln replied, “The request is inadmissible.”

In Kentucky, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates were temporarily repulsed at Tebb’s Bend on the Green River. In Arkansas, Confederates attacked Helena in a belated attempt to relieve Federal pressure on Vicksburg and Port Hudson. Skirmishing occurred in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Mississippi, Missouri, and the New Mexico Territory.

Sunday, July 5.  Robert E. Lee’s Confederates moved toward Hagerstown, Maryland. George G. Meade’s Federals did not pursue, but there were minor cavalry skirmishes in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

In Mississippi, Federals under General William T. Sherman began moving toward the state capital at Jackson to confront the remaining Confederates in the state under General Joseph E. Johnston. Meanwhile, Ulysses S. Grant began paroling the captured Confederates at Vicksburg. In Kentucky, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates captured Lebanon and Bardstown. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Monday, July 6.  Robert E. Lee’s Confederates continued withdrawing to Virginia, and George G. Meade’s Federals attempted no major pursuit. In Mississippi, William T. Sherman’s Federals continued advancing toward Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederates at Jackson. In Kentucky, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates captured Garnettsville as they continued moving north toward the Ohio River.

In Indiana, an anti-war group called the Knights of the Golden Circle seized guns and ammunition at the Huntington depot. Rear Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont was relieved as commander of the Federal South Atlantic Blockading Squadron due to his failed attack on Charleston, South Carolina.

Tuesday, July 7.  In Tennessee, General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee established new positions at Chattanooga after losing most of the state to General William S. Rosecrans’s Federal Army of the Cumberland.

In Kentucky, John Hunt Morgan’s Confederates skirmished at Shepherdsville and Cummings’ Ferry as they approached the Ohio River. In the Arizona Territory, Colonel “Kit” Carson began an expedition against the Indians. In the North, the Conscription Act went into effect amidst much resentment. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri, Mississippi, and the Idaho Territory.

As Robert E. Lee’s Confederates continued withdrawing, Lee wrote to President Davis that the army would continue moving southward. Expressing concern about George G. Meade’s reluctance to pursue Lee, President Lincoln wrote to General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck, “Now, if General Meade can complete his work, so gloriously prosecuted thus far, by the literal or substantial destruction of Lee’s army, the rebellion will be over.”

150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

Given it’s still July 1 here in the Central Time Zone, today marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The battle has been the subject of much discussion and several movies, including my favorite Gettysburg (1993). It remains one of the largest battles in North America, with over 50,000 casualties. With this anniversary and the benefit of new technology the folks at ESRI produced an amazing interactive map of the battle, including three-dimensional animation related to the troop positions. I encourage you all to check it out at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/A-Cutting-Edge-Second-Look-at-the-Battle-of-Gettysburg.html.

I have been following some of the internet coverage of the 150th anniversary reenactment held this past weekend and it looks like, for the most part, the event went well, though some unfortunate reenactors suffered heat injuries. My good friend Stuart Lawrence is returning home from taking part in the event and hopefully will share an after action report and pictures. Now, I am going to take a bit of time to watch the portions of Gettysburg related to the first day. More to come in the next two days on this momentous anniversary.

This Week in the Civil War: June 24-30, 1863

Wednesday, June 24.  In Tennessee, Federal General William S. Rosecrans wired Washington: “The army begins to move at 3 o’clock this morning.” After repeated urgings, Rosecrans’s Army of the Cumberland began moving out of Murfreesboro to confront General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee at Tullahoma. The Lincoln administration believed that pressing Rosecrans to attack would prevent Bragg from sending reinforcements to break the siege of Vicksburg.

In Mississippi, the situation inside Vicksburg was becoming critical. Federal shelling continued, and the residents suffered from lack of food and other supplies.

Federal General Joseph Hooker wired Washington asking for orders, stating that “I don’t know whether I am standing on my head or feet.” Hooker’s Army of the Potomac was struggling to pursue General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia as it advanced northward into Pennsylvania.

Skirmishing occurred in Maryland, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Thursday, June 25.  Robert E. Lee dispatched his cavalry under General Jeb Stuart to block the movements of the Confederate forces from observation by the pursuing Federals. Stuart instead began a northern raid that handicapped Lee’s army in enemy territory.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to Braxton Bragg and General P.G.T. Beauregard at Charleston, South Carolina pleading for them to send reinforcements to Vicksburg. Davis stated that unless General Joseph E. Johnston was reinforced, “the Missi. (Mississippi River) will be lost.” Johnston’s Confederates tried harassing the Federals laying siege to Vicksburg, but were ineffective.

Friday, June 26.  Joseph Hooker’s Federal forces finally completed crossing the Potomac River in pursuit of Robert E. Lee’s Confederates. It took Hooker eight days to cross the Potomac. The slow pace concerned Lincoln administration officials that Hooker may not be able to stop the Confederates’ northern invasion. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin called for 60,000 volunteers to serve three months to repel the invasion as a portion of Lee’s army under General Jubal Early reached Gettysburg.

Off the Maine coast, the Confederate schooner Archer was destroyed by Federal steamboats and tugboats. Commanded by Lieutenant Charles W. “Savez” Reed, Archer had caused panic in New England by capturing 21 ships, including the Federal revenue cutter Caleb Cushing off Portland, in 19 days. The Federals had dispatched 47 vessels to find and destroy Archer.

Skirmishing occurred in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Louisiana.

Saturday, June 27.  Joseph Hooker submitted his resignation as commander of the Army of the Potomac. Hooker was infuriated by General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck’s order to hold Harpers Ferry and Maryland Heights, believing it compromised his command. To Hooker’s surprise, President Lincoln accepted. Hooker was unaware that Lincoln had been waiting for a reason to relieve him of command ever since his May defeat at Chancellorsville.

In Pennsylvania, Jubal Early’s Confederates captured York.

Sunday, June 28.  At 3 a.m., General George G. Meade, commander of Fifth Corps, was awakened and ordered to take command of the Army of the Potomac. Meade had no choice but to accept the tremendous responsibility and quickly formulate a strategy to stop Robert E. Lee’s northern invasion. By that afternoon, Meade developed a plan: “I must move toward the Susquehanna, keeping Washington and Baltimore well covered, and if the enemy is checked in his attempt to cross the Susquehanna, or if he turns toward Baltimore, give him battle.” President Lincoln approved Meade’s strategy.

When Lee learned that Meade had replaced Hooker, he abandoned plans to attack Harrisburg. Instead, Lee turned back south and began concentrating his Confederates near Gettysburg and Cashtown. At York, Jubal Early’s Confederates seized shoes, clothing, rations, and $28,600. In Virginia, Confederate cavalry under Jeb Stuart skirmished near Fairfax Court House.

In Tennessee, William Rosecrans’s Federals occupied Manchester as part of their Tullahoma Campaign. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Louisiana.

Monday, June 29.  George G. Meade’s Federals moved quickly through Maryland, and General John Buford’s Federal cavalry reached Gettysburg. In Tennessee, heavy skirmishing occurred as part of the Tullahoma Campaign. Other skirmishing occurred in Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and West Virginia.

Tuesday, June 30.  In Tennessee, Confederates began evacuating Tullahoma as William S. Rosecrans’s Federals advanced on the town. In Pennsylvania, Robert E. Lee’s Confederates were converging on Gettysburg. President Lincoln rejected panicked pleas to reinstate George B. McClellan to army command during this crucial time. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Louisiana.

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