This Week in the Civil War: Aug 19-25, 1863

Wednesday, August 19.  In New York City, the Federal military draft resumed without incident; troops guarded the draft offices to prevent the violence that had occurred in July. In Charleston Harbor, Federal cannon blasted Confederate positions at Fort Sumter and Battery Wagner for a third day. In Florida, a Confederate signal station was captured at St. John’s Mill, and skirmishing occurred in West Virginia and Tennessee.

Thursday, August 20.  Colonel Christopher “Kit” Carson’s Federals left Pueblo, Colorado to stop depredations against settlers by Navajo Indians in the New Mexico Territory. The Federal objective was to move the Indians to a reservation at Bosque Redondo on the Pecos near Fort Sumner.

In Tennessee, General William S. Rosecrans’s Federal Army of the Cumberland approached the Tennessee River during their advance on Chattanooga. In addition, Federal troops were transferred from Kentucky to aid in the Federal offensive in eastern Tennessee.

In Charleston Harbor, Federal guns continued pummeling Fort Sumter and Battery Wagner. In Kansas, William C. Quantrill and about 450 Confederate raiders approached Lawrence. A Federal expedition began from Vicksburg, Mississippi to Monroe, Louisiana.

Friday, August 21.  William C. Quantrill’s Confederate raiders rampaged through Lawrence, Kansas. Quantrill’s men robbed the bank, killed 180 men, burned 185 buildings, and cost about $1.5 million in property damage. Quantrill’s main target–Republican Senator James Lane–escaped into a cornfield in his nightshirt. The attack was the result of bitterness from the Kansas border war, a prior Federal raid on Osceola, and Quantrill’s dislike of the anti-slavery town. An eyewitness said, “The town is a complete ruin. The whole of the business part, and all good private residences are burned down. Everything of value was taken along by the fiends… I cannot describe the horrors.”

Federal General Q.A. Gillmore threatened to bombard Charleston if Fort Sumter was not surrendered and Morris Island was not evacuated. The Confederates refused, and the Federal bombardment resumed. However, casualties remained low. A Confederate torpedo boat attempted to destroy a Federal ship, but its detonation device failed and it retreated under heavy fire.

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Alabama as part of William Rosecrans’s Federal advance on Chattanooga. Skirmishing also occurred in West Virginia.

Saturday, August 22.  Fort Sumter was attacked by five naval vessels. Although there were few remaining guns to return fire, the Confederate defenders refused to surrender. Federal guns began firing on Charleston, but the famed Swamp Angel exploded while firing a round.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis worked to get reinforcements for General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee defending Chattanooga. In Kansas, skirmishing occurred as Quantrill’s Confederates left Lawrence in ruins. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia, Tennessee, and the Arizona Territory.

Sunday, August 23.  The Federal bombardment of Fort Sumter temporarily ended after nearly 6,000 rounds had been fired into the fort, leaving it in ruins. In Virginia, Confederates captured two Federal gunboats at the mouth of the Rappahannock River, which caused irritation in the North. Skirmishing occurred in Arkansas, and Federals scouted Bennett’s Bayou, Missouri.

Monday, August 24.  In Virginia, John Singleton Mosby’s Confederate raiders began harassing Federals belonging to General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac. Federal scouting also occurred at various points in Virginia.

The Federal bombardment of Fort Sumter and Battery Wagner decreased. Skirmishing occurred in Alabama.

Tuesday, August 25.  Responding to the Lawrence massacre and citizens aiding the Confederate raiders, Federal General Thomas Ewing, Jr., commanding from Kansas City, issued General Order No. 11. This compelled residents of four Missouri counties to abandon their homes and seek refuge at military posts if they could prove their loyalty to the Union. This forcibly relocated at least 20,000 people around Kansas City. As the residents left, pro-Union “Jayhawkers” looted their homes. Ewing’s order actually encouraged more Confederate guerrilla attacks by enraging local citizens against his Federal relocation policy.

In Charleston Harbor, Federal forces failed to capture Confederate rifle pits in front of Battery Wagner. In Virginia, Confederates captured three Federal schooners at the mouth of the Rappahannock River. In West Virginia, Federals destroyed Confederate saltpeter works on Jackson’s River. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Arkansas.

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

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