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)

1 thought on “This Week in the Civil War: July 8-14, 1863

  1. Hello everyone. I have a Civil War question of a general nature, as in it pertains to many battles rather than one in particular. In the past couple of years I’ve been reading more about the Civil War than I have probably in the rest of my life put together and I keep noticing a phenomenon that occurs in many battles, with many generals at various levels of command on both sides throughout the war and regardless of theater. I’ve seen it in inept generals and I’ve seen it in otherwise talented generals. I am referring to the phenomenon of a general throwing his units into battle piecemeal rather than all (or most) at once. My question is: why in the world did they do that? And why did they keep doing it? (And did other nations’ armies do this in that era or just the U.S. and C.S. armies?)

    Was it a command and control issue? That for example a divisional commander might have not felt confident in his ability to control several brigades at once so he instead sends in one brigade, they get knocked around, he sends in another brigade, same thing happens, he sends in another brigade etc. because he felt that was the only way he could possibly control his units, that otherwise one or more of his brigades might get going in the wrong direction or something? I realize that Civil War armies were far larger than anything American generals had to deal with in the past and to some degree they were learning as they went. But still, one would think that this phenomenon wouldn’t have been seen beyond the first couple of years of the war.

    Or was it that military teaching in that era overemphasized the principle of economy of force and deemphasized the principle of mass?

    Or was it that the commander on his own tried to do his task with the bare minimum of units (thus in his mind making it more likely that he could do the task with the minimum of casualties, e.g. one of his brigades suffering casualties but his other brigades being unscathed)? But surely one could easily figure out that it would be more likely to cause MORE casualties to his force if he tried to do, say, a divisional-sized task with a single brigade then when it was all beaten up he sent in another brigade to suffer the same fate. Not only would it seem less likely to succeed that way but it seems (to me at least) that his men would suffer more casualties anyway because you’re giving the enemy time to catch his breath so to speak, to replenish his cartridge boxes between attacks, rotate out depleted units and replace them with full-strength fresh units, shift units using interior lines to meet one attack then another in succession rather than being pressed all at once from several directions or hit with overwhelming force in a single sector that simply overwhelms the defense by saturating it.

    Or were they just really bad judges of how much combat power a given objective would require and consistently underestimated it while overestimating their own side’s combat power? This doesn’t seem likely at least not for generals who have been in a few battles already.

    I just don’t get it. Anyone who can shed some light on this puzzling phenomenon will have my heartfelt thanks.

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