This Week in the Civil War: Sep 9-15, 1863

Wednesday, September 9.  General William S. Rosecrans’s Federal Army of the Cumberland entered Chattanooga this morning. Rosecrans wired General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck, “Chattanooga is ours without a struggle and East Tennessee is free.” The Federals had conducted another brilliant campaign of maneuver with little loss of life.

General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee had reluctantly abandoned the prized city. Hoping to destroy Bragg’s army, Rosecrans immediately ordered a pursuit despite being deep in hostile territory. The Federals were also dangerously split into three columns, while Bragg much closer than expected.

President Jefferson Davis decided to send General James Longstreet’s Second Corps from the Army of Northern Virginia to reinforce Bragg. Because the Federals now occupied Cumberland Gap, Longstreet’s troops had to travel through the Carolinas and Georgia via Atlanta to get to Bragg.

In Charleston Harbor, a Federal flotilla attempting to land at Fort Sumter was repulsed with heavy losses. Sumter’s walls were crumbling from continued Federal artillery, but the defenders refused to surrender. Skirmishing occurred in the Indian Territory.

Thursday, September 10.  As Federal forces captured Fort Smith on Arkansas’s western border, the Federals threatened eastern Arkansas. Outnumbered, Confederate General Sterling Price evacuated the state capital of Little Rock and withdrew to Rockport and Arkadelphia. The Federals entered the capital unopposed and seized control of the Arkansas River. This threatened General Edmund Kirby Smith’s entire Confederate Trans-Mississippi District.

William Rosecrans’s Federals probed Confederate positions in Georgia below Chattanooga. James Longstreet’s Confederates began moving out of Virginia to reinforce Braxton Bragg. The Federal shelling of Fort Sumter temporarily ceased.

In North Carolina, Confederate soldiers destroyed the offices of the Raleigh Standard, a newspaper owned by pro-Union politician William W. Holden. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Friday, September 11.  Reconnaissance and skirmishing continued between Rosecrans’s Federals and Bragg’s Confederates in northern Georgia. The Federals continued advancing on Confederate positions without knowing exactly where they were.

President Abraham Lincoln instructed Governor Andrew Johnson to organize a pro-Union government in Tennessee. Lincoln also met with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck to discuss the Charleston campaign. A Federal expedition began from La Grange, Tennessee to Corinth, Mississippi. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

Saturday, September 12.  Federal probing of Confederate positions continued in northern Georgia. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Sunday, September 13.  When James Longstreet’s corps was pulled from General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army and sent to reinforce Braxton Bragg, Lee was compelled to withdraw to the Rapidan River in northern Virginia. As a result, General George G. Meade’s Federal Army of the Potomac moved from the Rappahannock River and occupied Culpeper Court House. Clashes took place at Brandy Station, Muddy Run, Stevenson, and other points.

General Ulysses S. Grant was ordered to send all available troops to aid William Rosecrans at Chattanooga. In Georgia, Braxton Bragg ordered a Confederate attack on Federal scouts, but the order was not carried out.

In South Carolina, Federal telegraphers were captured near Lowndes’ Mill on the Combahee River. In Mississippi, 20 Federal crewmen from U.S.S. Rattler were captured by Confederate cavalry while attending church services at Rodney. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri.

Monday, September 14.  Skirmishing continued between George G. Meade’s Federals and Robert E. Lee’s Confederates in northern Virginia. Other skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana.

Tuesday, September 15.  Citing the existing “state of rebellion,” President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus throughout the North in cases where the Federal military or civil authorities held citizens in custody for suspected disloyalty. Lincoln also wrote to General-in-Chief Halleck that George G. Meade should attack Robert E. Lee immediately. Meade chose not to attack.

Federal expeditions began from Virginia, Missouri, and the New Mexico Territory. William Rosecrans and Braxton Bragg began concentrating their forces as various skirmishes took place in northern Georgia. Skirmishing also occurred in Virginia and Missouri.

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 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: June 17-23, 1863

Wednesday, June 17.  In Georgia, the Confederate ironclad Atlanta, or Fingal, battled Federal ships Weehawken and Nahant at the mouth of the Wilmington River in Wassaw Sound. Atlanta was ultimately forced to surrender after being hit four times. This was a major loss for the small Confederate navy.

In Mississippi, Federal transports aiding the siege of Vicksburg were attacked by Confederates; this was one of several attacks on Federal shipping during the siege. Skirmishing occurred in Maryland as General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia continued its northward advance. Skirmishing also occurred in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Thursday, June 18.  In Mississippi, Federal General Ulysses S. Grant relieved General John A. McClernand as commander of Thirteenth Corps. McClernand had resented his subordinate status to Grant, arguing that his force should remain independent. Following the failed assaults on Vicksburg in May, McClernand had issued a congratulatory order to his men that disparaged the efforts of other Federal units. This gave Grant the reason he needed to dismiss him.

In Virginia, Robert E. Lee’s Confederate cavalry, commanded by General Jeb Stuart, held the approaches to the Blue Ridge. Skirmishing occurred in South Carolina, Missouri, and Louisiana

Friday, June 19.  Robert E. Lee’s leading Confederate corps, commanded by General Richard Ewell, moved north of the Potomac River toward Pennsylvania. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Louisiana.

Saturday, June 20.  President Lincoln issued a proclamation making West Virginia the 35th state. While Virginia voters had supported secession from the Union, voters in the farming and mining areas west of the Alleghenies largely opposed secession. Thus, Lincoln supported West Virginia’s secession from the rest of the state while opposing the southern secession from the rest of the Union.

Sunday, June 21.  At Vicksburg, a Confederate major said, “One day is like another in a besieged city–all you can hear is the rattle of the Enemy’s guns, with the sharp crack of the rifles of their sharp-shooters going from early dawn to dark and then at night the roaring of the terrible mortars is kept up sometimes all this time.” Skirmishing occurred among Robert E. Lee’s advance units in Virginia and Maryland. Skirmishing also occurred in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

Monday, June 22.  In Mississippi, skirmishing occurred around Vicksburg as part of the Federal siege. Also, skirmishing continued among Federals and Robert E. Lee’s advancing Confederates. Confederate raider Charles Read, captaining the captured Federal vessel Tacony, seized five Federal schooners.

Tuesday, June 23.  In Tennessee, General William S. Rosecrans’s Federal Army of the Cumberland at Murfreesboro opposed General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee at Tullahoma. The Lincoln administration had been urging Rosecrans to attack, believing that this would prevent Bragg from sending reinforcements to Vicksburg. General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck finally wired Rosecrans: “I deem it my duty to repeat to you the great dissatisfaction felt here at your inactivity… Is it your intention to make an immediate move forward?” After several months of planning, Rosecrans resolved to begin advancing tomorrow.

In Louisiana, a skirmish at Brashear City resulted in the surrender of 1,000 Federals. In Virginia, General Joseph Hooker, commanding the Federal Army of the Potomac, considered crossing the Potomac River in pursuit of Robert E. Lee’s Confederates. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Mississippi, Missouri, and the Nebraska 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: Jun 10-16, 1863

Wednesday, June 10.  General Joseph Hooker, commanding the Federal Army of the Potomac, wrote to President Abraham Lincoln that General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was moving north. Hooker proposed to ignore Lee’s army and advance on the Confederate capital at Richmond. Lincoln replied, “I think Lee’s Army, and not Richmond, is your true objective point… Fight him when opportunity offers. If he stays where he is, fret him, and fret him.” Northerners were growing alarmed by news of Lee’s invasion, and the Maryland governor called on citizens to defend the state.

General Darius N. Couch assumed command of the Federal Department of the Susquehanna. General Braxton Bragg, commanding the Confederate Army of Tennessee, was confirmed in the Episcopal Church at Chattanooga. On the Virginia coast, Confederate prisoners aboard the steamer Maple Leaf ran the ship ashore and escaped. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Tennessee.

Thursday, June 11.  In Ohio, Democrats nominated former Congressman Clement Vallandigham to run for governor. Vallandigham had been arrested and banished to the Confederacy last month for voicing opposition to the war, which made him highly popular among “Copperheads,” or Peace Democrats. However, Vallandigham was unwelcome in the South and was shipped to Canada, where he campaigned for governor while in exile.

In Louisiana, Confederate outposts were captured during the Federal siege of Port Hudson. Skirmishing occurred in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

Friday, June 12.  The vanguard of General Lee’s Confederate army crossed the Blue Ridge into the Shenandoah Valley, where various skirmishes occurred with Federal troops. C.S.S. Clarence, commanded by Lieutenant Charles Read, captured the Federal ship Tacony off Cape Hatteras. Read transferred his crew to Tacony, destroyed Clarence, and continued pirating operations in the north Atlantic.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis approved Vice President Alexander Stephens’s plan to conduct a mission to obtain “a correct understanding and agreement between the two Governments.” This was a minor effort to negotiate a peace, but Davis and Stephens agreed that no peace could be accepted without granting each state the right “to determine its own destiny.”

In response to a complaint about arbitrary arrests and suppressions that unconstitutionally infringed upon civil liberties, President Lincoln stated, “I must continue to do so much as may seem to be required by the public safety.” General Quincy Adams Gillmore replaced General David Hunter as commander of the Federal Department of the South. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

Saturday, June 13.  In Virginia, General Lee’s vanguard drove Federals from Winchester and occupied Berryville. General Hooker’s Federals began moving north toward the Potomac River, leaving positions along the Rappahannock River they had held for nearly seven months.

President Davis asked General Bragg at Tullahoma if he could send reinforcements to the Confederates under siege at Vicksburg. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky and Mississippi.

Sunday, June 14.  Both General Hooker and President Lincoln were unaware of General Lee’s exact location. Lincoln wrote to Hooker, “If the head of Lee’s army is at Martinsburg and the tail of it on the Plank road between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the animal must be very slim somewhere. Could you not break him?”

As part of the Federal siege of Port Hudson on the Mississippi River, Federal General Nathaniel Banks demanded the garrison’s surrender. When the besieged Confederates refused, Banks attacked at dawn. Two Federal advances gained some ground but failed to break the lines before being repulsed with heavy losses. The campaign had cost about 4,000 Federal combat deaths, while another 7,000 had either died or fallen ill with dysentery or sunstroke. The siege of Port Hudson continued, and the defenders were growing weaker.

In Arkansas, Federal forces destroyed the town of Eunice after guerrillas attacked U.S.S. Marmora. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee.

Monday, June 15.  In Virginia, the Second Battle of Winchester occurred as Lee ordered General Richard Ewell to clear the northern Shenandoah Valley of Federals as the Confederates moved north. Part of Ewell’s force captured 700 Federals, along with guns and supplies, at Martinsburg. Meanwhile, Ewell’s remaining force attacked the Federal garrison at Winchester and Stephenson’s Depot. Some Federals escaped to Harper’s Ferry, but the Confederates captured 23 guns, 300 loaded wagons, over 300 horses, and large amounts of supplies.

General Hooker informed President Lincoln that “it is not in my power to prevent” a Confederate invasion of the North. In response, Lincoln called for the mobilization of 100,000 militia from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia.

The Federal Navy Department dispatched a force to capture C.S.S. Tacony, the Federal ship that had been seized and used for Confederate pirating operations by Lieutenant Charles Read. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Louisiana.

Tuesday, June 16.  General Richard Ewell’s Second Corps led the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in crossing the Potomac River from Virginia to Maryland in its northern invasion. A reporter stated that the Pennsylvania capital of Harrisburg was in a “perfect panic” as residents and politicians hurried to evacuate the city in the face of a potential Confederate invasion.

General Hooker moved most of the Federal Army of the Potomac to Fairfax Court House. Hooker argued with General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck, who wanted Hooker to follow General Lee’s Confederates and possibly relieve Harper’s Ferry. Hooker wanted to move north of Washington to confront Lee’s vanguard. When Hooker complained to Lincoln, the president instructed him to follow Halleck’s orders.

Federal troops began a campaign against the Sioux Indians in the Dakota Territory. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and the New Mexico 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: Jun 3-9, 1863

Wednesday, June 3.  General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia began moving west out of Fredericksburg, beginning what would become Lee’s second invasion of the North. The Federal Ninth Corps was transferred from Kentucky to reinforce General Ulysses S. Grant’s forces laying siege to Vicksburg, Mississippi.

In New York City, Mayor Fernando Wood and other Democrats met at the Cooper Institute to call for peace. In South Carolina, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first Federal black regiment, arrived at Port Royal. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Tennessee.

Thursday, June 4.  In Virginia, two corps of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army moved out of Fredericksburg. Upon President Abraham Lincoln’s suggestion, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton revoked General Ambrose Burnside’s order closing down the Chicago Times; the Times had been suppressed for publishing “disloyal and incendiary statements.” Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

Friday, June 5.  In Virginia, General Joseph Hooker, commanding the Federal Army of the Potomac, exchanged wires with President Lincoln and General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck about Robert E. Lee’s movement. Hooker wanted to attack Lee’s remaining Confederates at Fredericksburg, while Lincoln and Halleck wanted Hooker to attack Lee’s forces moving west.

Saturday, June 6.  In Virginia, General Jeb Stuart, commanding Robert E. Lee’s Confederate cavalry, staged a grand review for Lee and other top Confederate officers, dignitaries, and ladies near Culpeper. The review raised noise and dust that was spotted by the Federals.

President Lincoln expressed concern about delayed telegrams from Vicksburg. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, and the Indian Territory.

Sunday, June 7.  In Mississippi, a Confederate attack at Milliken’s Bend was repulsed, and Federals captured and burned Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s plantation, Brierfield. These actions helped to slowly strangle Vicksburg into submission. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Kentucky.

Monday, June 8.  In Mississippi, the punishing Federal siege of Vicksburg continued. A resident wrote of the endless artillery bombardment, “Twenty-four hours of each day these preachers of the Union made their touching remarks to the town. All night long their deadly hail of iron dropped through roofs and tore up the deserted and denuded streets.” Residents moved into caves on the town’s hillsides for refuge. Supplies dwindled and hungry people resorted to eating mules, dogs, cats, and rats.

In Virginia, Jeb Stuart staged another grand cavalry review for top Confederate officials that attracted Federal attention. Joseph Hooker dispatched cavalry and infantry under General Alfred Pleasonton to “disperse and destroy the enemy force.” Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Kansas.

Tuesday, June 9.  In Virginia, the Battle of Brandy Station occurred as Alfred Pleasonton’s Federals attacked Jeb Stuart’s Confederate cavalry along the Rappahannock River, north of Culpeper. The lines surged back and forth for nearly 12 hours. Surprised by the attack, Stuart barely held off the Federals until Pleasonton finally withdrew. Although this was a Confederate victory, the battle proved that the Federal cavalrymen had become effective fighters. This bolstered Federal confidence and indicated to Joseph Hooker that the Confederates were moving north.

A powder magazine explosion killed 20 Federals and wounded 14 in Alexandria, Virginia. In Tennessee, two soldiers were hanged by Federals as spies. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, 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)

This Week in the Civil War: May 13-19, 1863

Wednesday, May 13.  In Mississippi, General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals advanced on the state capital of Jackson, which was defended by Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston. Grant’s forces now stood between Johnston at Jackson and Confederate General John C. Pemberton, commanding Confederates at Vicksburg.   North Carolina Governor Zebulon Vance wrote to Confederate President Jefferson Davis expressing concern about desertion in the Confederate army; Vance attributed the high desertion rate to homesickness, fatigue, lack of furloughs, and inability to enter regiments of their choice. Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Thursday, May 14.  In Louisiana, the Confederate garrison at Port Hudson on the west bank of the Mississippi River was depleted as men were transfered to aid Vicksburg. General Nathaniel Banks’s 24,000-man Federal Army of the Gulf advanced to capture the fort from the south.

In Mississippi, General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals captured the state capital of Jackson. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston withdrew his outnumbered forces, along with vital supplies, to the north.

President Abraham Lincoln wrote to General Joseph Hooker, commanding the Federal Army of the Potomac, that “some of your corps and Division commanders are giving you their entire confidence.” Hooker’s subordinates had lobbied the administration to remove him from command, but Lincoln feared the political implications of a quick removal. In private, Lincoln agreed with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck that Hooker should be removed before another major battle occurred, but Lincoln secretly hoped that Hooker would resign.

Friday, May 15.  In Mississippi, Grant’s Federals converged on Edwards’ Station, east of the vital Confederate stronghold at Vicksburg. Federals under General William T. Sherman remained in Jackson to destroy supplies. General John C. Pemberton, commanding Confederates around Vicksburg, decided it was impossible to link with Joseph Johnston.

Skirmishing occurred in Arkansas, Missouri, and Virginia.

Saturday, May 16.  In Mississippi, Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals turned west from Jackson to attack Vicksburg from the rear. The Federals confronted John C. Pemberton’s Confederates at Champion’s Hill, about halfway between Jackson and Vicksburg, and the outnumbered Confederates withdrew west after launching a furious counterattack that was repulsed just before reaching Grant’s headquarters.

Democrats and even some Republicans protested the conviction of Clement Vallandigham. Many were shocked that a citizen could be thrown into a military prison for simply exercising his constitutional right of free speech. New York Governor Horatio Seymour said, “(This arrest) is cowardly, brutal, infamous. It is not merely a step toward Revolution, it is revolution… our liberties are overthrown.”

Skirmishing occurred in Missouri, western Virginia, Virginia, and Louisiana.

Sunday, May 17.  In Mississippi, John C. Pemberton attempted to make one more stand against Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals by establishing defenses at Big Black River. However, the Confederates were overwhelmed once more, and they withdrew to previously prepared defenses on the outskirts of Vicksburg.

In Louisiana, Nathaniel Banks’s Federals converged on Port Hudson. Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Monday, May 18.  In Mississippi, Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals crossed the Big Black River and converged on Vicksburg. Joseph E. Johnston advised John C. Pemberton to abandon the city, but Pemberton decided to stay. President Jefferson Davis called for civilians and militia to join Johnston to help liberate Pemberton’s men trapped in Vicksburg.

In Great Britain, debates in the House of Lords led to demands that Britain defend its shipowners from U.S. prize ships. Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and western Virginia.

Tuesday, May 19.  In Mississippi, Ulysses S. Grant ordered a general assault outside Vicksburg, but the Confederate defenders were stronger than he had anticipated and the attack was repulsed.

In response to protests against the arrest of Clement Vallandigham, President Lincoln directed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton to commute his two-year prison sentence and banish the former congressman to the Confederacy. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Missouri.

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: Jan 21-27, 1863

Wednesday, January 21.  In northern Virginia, General Ambrose Burnside’s Federal Army of the Potomac remained paralyzed by the driving winter rains that turned roads into impassable mud and slime. In Texas, two Federal blockaders were captured by Confederate steamers at Sabine Pass.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis dispatched General Joseph E. Johnston, commander of the Western Department, to General Braxton Bragg’s headquarters at Tullahoma, Tennessee to investigate criticism that Bragg had unnecessarily retreated from the Battle of Stone’s River. Davis was concerned that Bragg’s subordinates lacked confidence in their commander.

President Abraham Lincoln endorsed a letter from General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck to General Ulysses S. Grant explaining why Grant had been ordered to revoke his General Order No. 11. The controversial order had expelled all Jews from Grant’s military department. Halleck explained that Lincoln did not object to expelling “traitors and Jew peddlers,” but “as it in terms proscribed an entire religious class, some of whom are fighting in our ranks, the President deemed it necessary to revoke it.” The expulsion order was never enforced.

Lincoln officially cashiered General Fitz John Porter from the U.S. Army and forever disqualified him from holding any government office. This came after a January 10 court-martial convicted Porter of disobeying orders during the Battle of Second Bull Run the previous August. The ruling was reversed in 1879, and Porter was restored to the rank of colonel in 1886.

Thursday, January 22.  In northern Virginia, Ambrose Burnside’s Federals were stalled in mud, unable to cross the Rappahannock and attack General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Trains and wagons were stuck, horses and mules were dying, and the Federals were demoralized.

Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of all Federal troops in Arkansas. Within this, President Lincoln ordered General John McClernand’s Army of the Mississippi to return from its unauthorized expedition to Fort Hindman and become a corps under Grant’s command. This eventually caused resentment between the two generals, though Lincoln asked McClernand “for my sake, & for the country’s sake, you give your whole attention to the better work.” Grant renewed efforts to cut a canal across “Swampy Toe” opposite Vicksburg that would move boats and men around the fortress city.

Friday, January 23.  In northern Virginia, severe storms continued as Ambrose Burnside’s Federals pulled back to their winter quarters. The “mud march” ended in miserable failure. Many of Burnside’s subordinates criticized his leadership, but his harshest critic was Joseph Hooker, who called Burnside incompetent and the Lincoln administration feeble. Burnside responded by issuing General Order No. 8, charging Hooker with “unjust and unnecessary criticisms… endeavored to create distrust in the minds of officers… (including) reports and statements which were calculated to create incorrect impressions…” Burnside asked permission from President Lincoln to remove William B. Franklin, W.F. Smith, and others from the army, and to remove Hooker from the service entirely. Burnside also requested a personal meeting with the president.

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Arkansas, and South Carolina. Lincoln began preparing orders to return General Benjamin Butler to New Orleans, replacing General Nathaniel Banks. The orders were never carried out.

Saturday, January 24.  In northern Virginia, the Federal Army of the Potomac settled back into its gloomy winter quarters across from Fredericksburg while dissension among the ranks increased. President Lincoln conferred with General-in-Chief Halleck on the military situation and awaited Ambrose Burnside’s arrival. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Virginia.

Sunday, January 25.  President Lincoln conferred with General Burnside this morning, who reiterated his demand to remove several generals from his command, otherwise he would resign. Later this morning, Lincoln resolved the dilemma by removing Generals Edwin V. Sumner and William B. Franklin from command. He also accepted Burnside’s resignation and replaced him with Joseph Hooker.

Burnside had reluctantly accepted command of the Army of the Potomac in the first place, and his ineptitude, first at Fredericksburg and then during the “mud march,” sealed his fate. The army was neither surprised nor disappointed by his removal. However, many were surprised that Hooker had been chosen to command, considering Hooker’s insubordinate comments about his superiors. Lincoln explained that he needed a fighter, and unlike Burnside, Hooker wanted the post.

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Mississippi. In Arkansas, John S. Marmaduke’s Confederates reached Batesville. The organization of the first regiment of Federal Negro South Carolina soldiers was completed on the Carolina coast.

Monday, January 26.  General Joseph Hooker assumed command of the Federal Army of the Potomac. In a letter, President Lincoln explained why he had been chosen to lead: “I have heard… of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship.”

Skirmishing occurred in Florida, Arkansas, and Virginia. The Confederate commerce raider C.S.S. Alabama seized a Federal vessel off Santo Domingo (the present-day Dominican Republic).

Tuesday, January 27.  In Georgia, Federal naval forces led by U.S.S. Montauk attacked Fort McAllister on the Ogeechee River south of Savannah. The squadron withdrew after several hours of bombardment. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia.

The proprietor of the Philadelphia Journal, A.D. Boileau, was arrested and brought to Washington to face charges for allegedly printing anti-Union material. President Davis complimented Georgia Governor Joseph Brown for reducing cotton cultivation and urging produce farming: “The possibility of a short supply of provisions presents the greatest danger to a successful prosecution of the war.”

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