This Week in the Civil War: Sep 2-8, 1863

Wednesday, September 2.  In eastern Tennessee, General Ambrose Burnside’s Federal Army of the Ohio entered Knoxville unopposed. The city had been virtually undefended, as most Confederates had left to join General Braxton Bragg at Chattanooga. The Federals were overwhelmingly welcomed by the predominantly pro-Union residents. The fall of Knoxville cut a key rail link between Chattanooga and Virginia, which forced Bragg to use a roundabout route through Georgia to supply his men.

In Charleston Harbor, the Federal bombardment lessened, but Federal troops entrenched themselves within 80 yards of Battery Wagner’s earthworks on Morris Island. The Alabama state legislature approved employing slaves in Confederate armies.

President Lincoln informed Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase that portions of Virginia and Louisiana could not be included under the Emancipation Proclamation because the “original proclamation has no constitutional or legal justification except as a military measure.”

A Federal expedition began from Martinsburg, West Virginia. Federal naval forces destroyed buildings and four small boats in a raid on Peace Creek, Florida. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, as Federal cavalry destroyed two Confederate (formerly Federal) gunboats on the Rappahannock River.

Thursday, September 3.  A portion of General William S. Rosecrans’s Federal Army of the Cumberland skirmished with Braxton Bragg’s Confederates in Georgia as part of Rosecrans’s campaign to capture Chattanooga.

Federal troops fought Indians in California’s Hoopa Valley and in the Dakota Territory. Federal military operations began in the Humboldt Military District of California. Federal guns began pounding Battery Wagner.

Friday, September 4.  In Tennessee, William S. Rosecrans’s Federals continued their advance on Chattanooga. The Federals crossed the Tennessee River at Bridgeport, Alabama and Shellmound, Tennessee, and began encircling the city. Confederate President Jefferson Davis urged Braxton to hold Chattanooga while trying to muster reinforcements.

Federal transports and supply ships left New Orleans, advancing toward the Texas-Louisiana coast at Sabine Pass. This was the first of several moves by General Nathaniel Banks’s Federal Army of the Gulf to capture important points in Texas, both as an offensive against Confederates and as a display of force to the French occupying Mexico.

Women looted food and supply stores in Mobile, Alabama while carrying signs reading “Bread or Blood” and “Bread and Peace.” Southern discontent with the economy and hardships of war were becoming more prominent in the press. Federals scouted from Cold Water Grove, Missouri, and from Fort Lyon, Colorado toward Fort Larned, Kansas. Skirmishing occurred in Arkansas, Missouri and West Virginia.

Saturday, September 5.  U.S. Minister Charles Francis Adams informed British Lord John Russell that if Confederate ironclads left the British shipyards, “it would be superfluous for me to point out to your Lordship that this is war.” Two ships known as the “Laird Rams” were under construction in British navy yards, ostensibly to be used by the Confederacy. Unbeknownst to Adams, Russell had previously ordered the ships detained at Birkenhead. The “Laird Rams” were not delivered to the Confederacy, and an international crisis was averted.

In Charleston Harbor, Federals edged closer to the earthworks surrounding Battery Wagner as Federal artillery continued firing. Confederates repulsed a Federal attack on Fort Gregg on the north end of Morris Island. The Charleston Mercury stated that President Davis “has lost the confidence of both the army and the people.”

Meanwhile, President Davis urgently asked Braxton Bragg, “What is your proposed plan of operation (at Chattanooga)? Can you ascertain intention of enemy?… can you not cut his line of communication and compel him to retreat for want of supplies?”

William S. Rosecrans’s Federals skirmished with Confederates in Alabama and Georgia. Federals also skirmished in eastern Tennessee as they moved in on Cumberland Gap from Knoxville. Skirmishing occurred in Arkansas, and Federals battled Indians in the Dakota Territory.

Sunday, September 6.  In Charleston Harbor, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard evacuated Battery Wagner and Fort Gregg amidst the relentless Federal naval bombardment of the harbor forts. But Fort Sumter and Charleston held firm.

Monday, September 7.  In Charleston Harbor, Federals occupied Battery Wagner, which gave them a better position to fire upon Forts Sumter and Moultrie in the harbor.

Skirmishing occurred in Georgia, below Chattanooga. Other skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, Missouri, and Kansas.

Tuesday, September 8.  In eastern Texas, a detachment of Federal transports and gunboats under General William Franklin occupied Sabine Pass and prepared to advance on Beaumont and Houston. The Confederates could muster only 47 defenders on the Sabine River, led by General John B. Magruder and Lieutenant Dick Dowling. Nevertheless, they destroyed a Federal gunboat from a nearby earthwork and forced the withdrawal of the remaining vessels. The humiliated Federals returned to New Orleans, while this small engagement greatly boosted Confederate morale in Texas.

In Charleston Harbor, Federal naval vessels bombarded the forts as the Federals prepared for a small-boat operation by night against Fort Sumter. William S. Rosecrans’s Federals skirmished in Alabama and Georgia. Other skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, and the Arizona Territory.

President Davis informed General Robert E. Lee of the increasing threat to Braxton Bragg at Chattanooga; Davis said that he considered sending Lee west, but feared that Lee’s absence would demoralize the Army of Northern Virginia. Confederate Attorney General Thomas H. Watts resigned, having been elected governor of Alabama. He was replaced on an interim basis by Wade Keyes.

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: Aug 26-Sep 1, 1863

Wednesday, August 26.  In Charleston Harbor, Federals captured Confederate rifle pits in front of Battery Wagner on Morris Island. Confederate President Jefferson Davis confirmed General P.G.T. Beauregard’s decision to hold Fort Sumter.

In a letter to the “Unconditional Union Men” in Springfield, Illinois, President Abraham Lincoln wrote, “I do not believe any compromise, embracing the maintenance of the Union, is now possible.” He added, “Peace does not appear so distant as it did.”

Former U.S. Secretary of War and Confederate General John B. Floyd died in Virginia. In West Virginia, heavy skirmishing occurred among William Averell’s Federals at Rock Gap. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory.

Thursday, August 27President Davis expressed concern about increased Federal pressure on both Charleston and Chattanooga. Skirmishing occurred in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

Friday, August 28Federals conducted expeditions from Stevenson, Alabama to Trenton, Georgia, and from Lexington to various counties in Missouri. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Tennessee.

Saturday, August 29.  In Charleston Harbor, the experimental Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sank during a test run, killing the five crewmen aboard.

In Tennessee, General William S. Rosecrans’s Federal Army of the Cumberland moved slowly but decisively south of Chattanooga in an effort to capture the city by flanking it. The city was defended by General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee.

In the New Mexico Territory, Federal skirmishing increased with Navajo Indians. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Alabama.

Sunday, August 30In Charleston Harbor, Federal batteries inflicted heavy damage on Fort Sumter, as Confederate continued digging guns from the fort’s rubble and transferring them to Charleston.

A Federal expedition began toward Chattanooga, and another expedition operated around Leesburg, Virginia. In Arkansas, skirmishing occurred as Federal forces continued their campaign to capture the state capital at Little Rock.

Monday, August 31 Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Alabama, and Kansas.

Tuesday, September 1.  The Federal military occupation of Missouri expanded into Arkansas, as Federal forces captured Fort Smith on Arkansas’s western border. Meanwhile, Federals also threatened eastern Arkansas and the state capital of Little Rock.

In Charleston Harbor, Federal artillery hammered Battery Wagner and Fort Sumter; the firing of 627 rounds ended the second phase of the bombardment. Sumter was in ruins, but its Confederate garrison refused to surrender.

In Tennessee, William Rosecrans’s Federals crossed the Tennessee River as they edged closer Braxton Bragg’s Confederates at Chattanooga. The crossing was largely unopposed, with minor skirmishing taking place in northern Alabama. President Davis told Tennessee Governor Isham G. Harris that reinforcements and arms were being sent to Bragg in Chattanooga.

Skirmishing occurred in various points of northern Virginia. Federals began moving from Natchez, Mississippi to Harrisonburg, Louisiana. Federal expeditions began from Paducah, Kentucky into 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 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 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.”

This Week in the Civil War: May 27-Jun 2, 1863

Wednesday, May 27.  In Louisiana, a massed Federal assault on Port Hudson failed, as the attackers became tangled in underbrush and fallen timbers. The Confederates held a strong position atop a bluff that commanded both the land and river approaches to Port Hudson. Federal commander Nathaniel Banks decided to place Port Hudson under siege.

President Abraham Lincoln wired General Joseph Hooker, commanding the Federal Army of the Potomac in northern Virginia, and General William S. Rosecrans, commanding the Federal Army of the Cumberland at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to provide information about their movements.

Confederate cannon at Vicksburg shelled Federal gunboats on the Mississippi River, sinking Cincinnati and killing 40 men. C.S.S. Chattahoochee accidentally exploded on the Chattahoochee River, killing 18. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

Thursday, May 28.  The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment left Boston for Hilton Head, South Carolina as the first black regiment sent south. Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi and the Indian Territory.

Friday, May 29.  President Lincoln refused General Ambrose Burnside’s offer to resign as commander of the Department of the Ohio. Burnside had drawn heavy criticism by arresting former Congressman Clement Vallandigham for speaking out against the war. Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton had denounced Burnside’s actions because they increased anti-war sentiment in the North.

Saturday, May 30.  General Robert E. Lee divided the Army of Northern Virginia into three corps: First Corps was commanded by General James Longstreet, Second Corps (formerly “Stonewall” Jackson’s command) was commanded by General Richard Ewell, and Third Corps was commanded by General A.P. Hill.

In New Jersey, Democrats met at Newark to protest the arrest of Clement Vallandigham. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas.

Sunday, May 31.  In Richmond, Robert E. Lee met with Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet. To relieve the pressure caused by Ulysses S. Grant’s relentless assault on Vicksburg in the West, Lee proposed a second invasion of the North. This would allow Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to feed off the rich northern farmlands and potentially force Grant to send troops east to stop the advance. Davis was uncertain, and some cabinet members believed that Lee should instead send troops west to relieve Vicksburg.

Davis also discussed the Western Theater with Lee, saying, “Genl. Johnston did not, as you thought advisable, attack Grant promptly, and I fear the result is that which you anticipated if time was given.” Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and South Carolina.

Monday, June 1.  In Richmond, Jefferson Davis and his cabinet voted five-to-one in favor of approving Robert E. Lee’s plan to invade the North.

Ambrose Burnside issued a general order: “On account of the repeated expression of disloyal and incendiary sentiments, the publication of the newspaper known as the Chicago Times is hereby suppressed.” This order outraged many northerners, especially since it came so soon after Burnside’s controversial arrest of Clement Vallandigham. Chicago leaders appealed to President Lincoln to rescind Burnside’s order.

Federals heavily bombarded the besieged Confederates at Vicksburg and Port Hudson. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Missouri, and Louisiana.

Tuesday, June 2.  President Lincoln wired General Ulysses S. Grant, commanding the Federals at Vicksburg, “Are you in communication with Gen. Banks? Is he coming toward you, or going further off?” Lincoln wanted the two armies to link rather than conduct separate operations at Vicksburg and Port Hudson.

Having been banished to the South, Clement Vallandigham was sent to Wilmington, North Carolina by President Davis and put under guard as an “alien enemy.” Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

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