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: 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)

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: 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)

This Week in the Civil War: May 20-26, 1863

Wednesday, May 20.  Off North Carolina, two Confederate blockade-runners were captured near the Neuse Rive and Nassau. In Louisiana, General Nathaniel Banks’s Federal army began preparing to attack Port Hudson on the Mississippi River. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, and the Indian Territory.

Thursday, May 21.  In Mississippi, General Ulysses S. Grant ordered a Federal attack on General John C. Pemberton’s Confederate lines outside Vicksburg. Confederates destroyed their stores and navy yard at Yazoo City before they could be captured by an approaching Federal flotilla.

In Louisiana, a portion of Nathaniel Banks’s Federals advanced on Port Hudson from Baton Rouge, while Banks’s main army approached from Alexandria. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Friday, May 22.  In Mississippi, Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals launched a second assault on Vicksburg, but they were again repulsed with heavy losses. Grant lost nearly 3,200 killed, wounded, or missing, while the Confederates lost less than 500. Grant then decided to lay siege to the city in the hopes of starving it into submission.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis wired General Braxton Bragg, commanding the Army of Tennessee at Tullahoma: “The vital issue of holding the Missi. at Vicksburg is dependent on the success of Genl. Johnston in an attack on the investing force. The intelligence from there is discouraging. Can you aid him?…”

In Washington, the War Department issued General Order No. 143, establishing the U.S. Bureau of Colored Troops to manage the enlistment and recruitment of blacks into the U.S. military. Since the war began, blacks had attempted to enlist but had been refused due to a 1792 Federal law prohibiting blacks from bearing arms for the U.S. army.

In Louisiana, Nathaniel Banks’s Federals continued approaching Port Hudson. In Virginia, General Alfred Pleasonton replaced General George Stoneman as commander of the cavalry corps in the Federal Army of the Potomac. The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society held a meeting in London and voiced strong support for the Union.

In Washington, President Abraham Lincoln greeted a group at the White House known as the “One-Legged Brigade.” He told the convalescing veterans that there was no need for a speech “as the men upon their crutches were orators; their very appearance spoke louder than tongues.” Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana and the Indian Territory.

Saturday, May 23.  In Louisiana, Nathaniel Banks’s Federals advanced on Port Hudson from Bayou Sara in a heavy storm. In Mississippi, Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals began preparing to lay siege to Vicksburg.

In Washington, President Lincoln conferred with army and navy officials about the unsuccessful Federal attacks on Charleston, South Carolina. In Ohio, petitions circulating protesting the “arbitrary arrest, illegal trial, and inhuman imprisonment of Hon. C.L. Vallandigham” for allegedly making pro-Confederate statements.

Jefferson Davis wired General Joseph E. Johnston, who was unable to stop Grant at Vicksburg, that he was “hopeful of junction of your forces and defeat of the enemy.” Davis also wired John C. Pemberton at Vicksburg, “Sympathizing with you for the reverse sustained.” Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas.

Sunday, May 24.  In Louisiana, Nathaniel Banks’s Federals began converging on Port Hudson. General John A. Schofield replaced General Samuel R. Curtis as commander of the Federal Department of Missouri.

Jefferson Davis wired Joseph E. Johnston that he knew John C. Pemberton would hold Vicksburg, “but the disparity of numbers renders prolonged defence dangerous. I hope you will soon be able to break the investment, make a junction and carry in munitions.”

President Lincoln spent the day visiting hospitals in and around Washington. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Monday, May 25.  In Louisiana, Confederates defending Port Hudson on the Mississippi were unable to abandon the fort before Nathaniel Banks’s Federals began surrounding it. The fort commander, General Franklin Gardner, had been ordered by Western Theater commander Joseph E. Johnston to abandon Port Hudson, but Gardner did not receive the order until Banks had already trapped the Confederates in the fort.

Federal authorities in Tennessee turned over former Ohio Congressmen Clement L. Vallandigham to the Confederates. His prison sentence had been changed by President Lincoln to banishment to the Confederacy after his conviction of expressing alleged pro-Confederate sentiments. The Confederates quickly exiled Vallandigham to Canada.

Federals captured the Confederate steamers Starlight and Red Chief on the Mississippi. C.S.S. Alabama seized two prizes in raids off Bahia, Brazil. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Arkansas.

Tuesday, May 26.  In Louisiana, Nathaniel Banks’s Federals completed setting up siege operations at Port Hudson. Jefferson Davis wrote to General Robert E. Lee that “Pemberton is stoutly defending the entrenchments at Vicksburg, and Johnston has an army outside, which I suppose will be able to raise the siege, and combined with Pemberton’s forces may win a victory.”

Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, 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: Apr 29-May 5, 1863

Wednesday, April 29.  In Virginia, a major part of General Joseph Hooker’s Federal Army of the Potomac crossed the Rappahannock River at Kelly’s and U.S. fords and moved into the Wilderness. This was part of Hooker’s plan to force General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates out of their impregnable positions in Fredericksburg and give battle. To further prod Lee, Hooker sent Federal cavalry under General George Stoneman between Lee and Richmond to catch the Confederates in a pincers movement.

On the Mississippi River, Admiral David D. Porter’s Federal naval fleet began shuttling General Ulysses S. Grant’s troops across the river. This was part of Grant’s plan to march southward past Vicksburg on the river’s west bank, then recross the river and attack the city from behind.

A Federal diversionary force under Colonel Benjamin Grierson continued raiding Mississippi, skirmishing at Brookhaven. In Missouri, General John S. Marmaduke’s Confederates skirmished at Castor River.

Thursday, April 30.  In Virginia, Joseph Hooker established headquarters at Chancellorsville, a small village in the Wilderness. Hooker did not order an attack; rather, he waited for Robert E. Lee’s Confederates to move into the open. Confident that Lee would be destroyed, Hooker proclaimed to his troops that “the operations of the last three days have determined that our enemy must ingloriously fly, or come out from behind their defenses and give us battle on our ground, where certain destruction awaits him.” However, Lee had a plan of his own.

On the Mississippi, the vanguard of Ulysses S. Grant’s army under General John A. McClernand assembled on the river’s east bank, south of Vicksburg and ready to advance inland unopposed. Grant later wrote, “All the campaigns, labors, hardships, and exposures, from the month of December previous to this time, that had been made and endured, were for the accomplishments of this one object.” Grant was aided by Benjamin Grierson’s cavalry diversion, as well as Federal demonstrations north of Vicksburg led by General William T. Sherman.

Skirmishing occurred in Alabama, western Virginia, and the Indian Territory.

Friday, May 1.  In Virginia, the Battle of Chancellorsville began. As Joseph Hooker’s Army of the Potomac tried outflanking Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, Lee hurried to block the Federals’ exit from the Wilderness, a region of tangled underbrush that would offset the superior Federal numbers. Lee left about 10,000 men to face the Federal corps threatening Fredericksburg. After holding his ground in a series of skirmishes, Hooker ordered a withdrawal to stronger defensive positions around Chancellorsville. This stunned his subordinates, and although Hooker explained that he thought Lee was heavily reinforced, he later admitted, “For once, I lost confidence in Joe Hooker.”

The Federal withdrawal allowed Lee to seize the initiative. That evening, he discussed strategy with General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, who proposed to split the army by sending Jackson’s corps to attack the vulnerable right flank. This was a bold plan because Lee’s army was already split between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. However, Lee approved.

In his effort to capture Vicksburg, General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals continued crossing the Mississippi River south of the town at Bruinsburg. The lead Federal corps under General John A. McClernand moved inland toward Port Gibson, about 30 miles south of Vicksburg. A small Confederate force outflanked at Grand Gulf hurried to Port Gibson to intercept McClernand. After a day-long fight, the outnumbered Confederates withdrew. Securing Port Gibson allowed the main Federal force to establish strong positions at Grand Gulf.

Before adjourning, the Confederate Congress approved several measures, including creating a Provisional Navy to complement the Regular Navy; allowing the president to approve contracts for building naval vessels in Europe; allowing congressional delegates from various Indian nations; creating a commission on taxes; tightening provisions on the conscription law; and adopting a national flag known as the “Stainless Banner.”

Skirmishing occurred in Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee. In Missouri, John Marmaduke’s Confederates skirmished at Chalk Bluff on the St. Francis River as they returned to Arkansas.

Saturday, May 2.  In Virginia, “Stonewall” Jackson’s 28,000 Confederates moved around the Federal right flank. Federal scouts observed them and concluded they were retreating. However, Jackson attacked the unsuspecting Federal Eleventh Corps at 6 p.m. On the Federal left, Robert E. Lee’s remaining Confederates attacked to divert attention from Jackson, even though they were outnumbered by nearly four-to-one. The fight ended at nightfall with the Federals in disarray. During the night, “Stonewall” Jackson was accidentally shot by Confederate pickets while scouting positions.

In Louisiana, Benjamin Grierson’s Federals arrived in Baton Rouge after conducting one of the most successful cavalry operations of the war. Diverting Confederate attention from Ulysses S. Grant, Grierson’s men raided western Tennessee, killing 100 Confederates, taking 500 prisoners, destroying up to 60 miles of railroad and telegraph lines, capturing or destroying 3,000 arms, and seizing 1,000 horses and mules. Grierson’s men had traveled 600 miles and fought four engagements, evading thousands of Confederates along the way.

Skirmishing occurred in Alabama, Tennessee, and western Virginia.

Sunday, May 3.  In Virginia, “Stonewall” Jackson’s wounds from the previous night were so serious that he relinquished command to General Jeb Stuart. By morning, the Federals had established a V-shaped defensive line. When the Confederates attacked, the Federals slowly moved back. Joseph Hooker had tens of thousands of reserves that were yet to be deployed, but he ordered no counterattack. He was knocked unconscious when he was hit in the head by wood scattered from a Confederate shell. When he regained consciousness, Hooker ordered a general withdrawal.

In Alabama, Colonel A.D. Streight’s Federals surrendered to Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest after heavy raiding and skirmishing. The Roman Catholic bishop of Iowa threatened church members with excommunication if they refused to renounce the pro-Confederate Knights of the Golden Circle.

Monday, May 4.  In Virginia, the Federal corps at Fredericksburg broke through the Confederate defenses and joined Joseph Hooker’s main force. However, Hooker was already withdrawing his army across the Rappahannock River. Confederate President Jefferson Davis wired Lee his thanks on behalf of the people “reverently united with you in giving praise to God for the success with which He has crowned your arms.”

In Mississippi, Grant’s Federals continued moving south of Vicksburg, skirmishing at various places. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Tuesday, May 5.  In Virginia, Robert E. Lee’s Confederate prepared to attack Joseph Hooker’s Federals again. However, Hooker’s army fell back across the Rappahannock, ending the Battle of Chancellorsville in Federal defeat. Hooker was defeated by a force less than half his size that had been divided three times. This humiliated the North and has since been considered one of the greatest military victories in history. However, it was a pyrrhic victory for Lee because he suffered a much greater casualty percentage than Hooker.

Former Congressman Clement Vallandigham was arrested by Federal troops in Dayton, Ohio for violating General Order No. 38. The order, issued by Department of the Ohio commander Ambrose Burnside, had prohibited disloyalty in his jurisdiction. Vallandigham was one of the most outspoken “Copperheads,” or Peace Democrats who opposed the war. His specific offense had been delivering a speech calling the war “wicked and cruel,” where the object was not to preserve the Union but to subjugate the South and establish a Republican dictatorship.

Skirmishing occurred in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia. Federals conducted operations against the Indians in the Utah and Idaho territories.

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: Apr 22-28, 1863

Wednesday, April 22.  On the Mississippi River, a Federal naval flotilla of six transports and 13 barges passed the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg and landed downriver. One transport and seven barges were sunk, but the rest carried the necessary supplies for General Ulysses S. Grant to execute his plan to capture Vicksburg. Confederate President Jefferson Davis advised General John C. Pemberton, commanding the Confederates at Vicksburg, to block Federal ships on the river with flaming rafts.

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

Thursday, April 23.  Newspapers reported that a seance was conducted by a medium at the White House. It was alleged that after President Abraham Lincoln left the session, “spirits” pinched the nose of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and pulled the beard of Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles.

In North Carolina, four Confederate ships ran the Federal blockade at Wilmington and delivered valuable supplies. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Missouri.

Friday, April 24.  The Confederate Congress passed a law imposing a “tax in kind” on 10 percent of all produce for the current year. The tax disproportionately harmed small farmers who could not afford to surrender 10 percent of their harvest, unlike plantation farmers.

In Alabama, General Grenville Dodge’s Federals captured Tuscumbia. In Mississippi, Federal Colonel Benjamin Grierson continued his cavalry raid to divert attention from Ulysses S. Grant at Vicksburg; Grierson’s men skirmished at Garlandville and Birmingham. In the Gulf of Mexico, U.S.S. De Soto captured four Confederate blockade runners.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Missouri, and Louisiana.

Saturday, April 25.  Confederate General Dabney H. Maury assumed command of the largely pro-Union Department of East Tennessee. In Great Britain, debate took place in Parliament over what should be done about British vessels seized by U.S. blockade ships. Skirmishing occurred in western Virginia, the Indian Territory, and the Arizona Territory.

Sunday, April 26.  In Missouri, General John S. Marmaduke’s Confederates were repulsed while attacking Cape Girardeau. In Mississippi, Benjamin Grierson’s Federals threatened the state capital at Jackson. In Alabama, a Federal raid began from Tuscumbia, headed for Rome, Georgia.

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

Monday, April 27.  In Virginia, General Joseph Hooker’s Federal Army of the Potomac began moving out of winter quarters at Falmouth up the Rappahannock River toward the fords over the river. This began another effort to destroy General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Spring weather had dried the roads, and Washington was pressuring Hooker to act.

The Confederate Congress passed a law authorizing the issuance of eight percent bonds or stock to redeem bonds sold prior to December 1, 1862. Dabney H. Maury was replaced as commander of the Confederate Department of East Tennessee by General Simon Bolivar Buckner. Maury was reassigned to command the District of the Gulf.

In Missouri, Marmaduke’s Confederates continued skirmishing near Jackson and White Water Bridge. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, western Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Tuesday, April 28.  In Virginia, the Army of the Potomac began crossing the Rappahannock, moving through the Wilderness area west of Robert E. Lee’s Confederates at Fredericksburg. Hooker left a Federal corps to oppose Fredericksburg while the rest of his army moved to outflank Lee’s left. The Episcopal church in Fredericksburg rang the alarm.

President Lincoln commuted the death sentence of Sergeant John A. Chase, who had been convicted of striking and threatening an officer. Lincoln instead ordered Chase imprisoned at hard labor “with ball and chain attached to his leg” for the remainder of the war.

In Mississippi, Grierson’s Federals skirmished at Union Church. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky and Alabama.

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: Apr 15-21, 1863

Wednesday, April 15.  On the Mississippi River, General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals continued moving from Milliken’s Bend to below the Confederate stronghold at Vicksburg, skirmishing with Confederates along the way. In North Carolina, Confederates abandoned a siege of Washington when Federal reinforcements approached.

Off Brazil, the Confederate commerce raider C.S.S. Alabama captured two U.S. whalers. President Abraham Lincoln wrote to General Joseph Hooker, commanding the Federal Army of the Potomac, that he was concerned about the Federal cavalry’s slowness along the Rappahannock River in northern Virginia. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

Thursday, April 16.  On the Mississippi River, a Federal naval flotilla of 12 ships under Admiral David D. Porter passed the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg and landed downriver near New Carthage. All but one of the vessels made it through, despite taking several hits from the Confederate cannon. This was part of Ulysses S. Grant’s bold plan to capture Vicksburg by crossing his 44,000 troops to the west bank of the Mississippi, marching them southward past the town, then recrossing the river to take Vicksburg from behind.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis signed a bill into law authorizing army commissions for minors. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Louisiana.

Friday, April 17.  Ulysses S. Grant dispatched Federal cavalry under Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson to raid northern Mississippi and southern Tennessee. This sought to divert Confederates from Grant’s plan to capture Vicksburg. Grierson and 1,700 cavalrymen left La Grange, Tennessee and moved into northern Mississippi.

Confederates under General John S. Marmaduke invaded Missouri from Arkansas. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, and Missouri.

Saturday, April 18.  President Davis approved a law creating a volunteer navy in which individuals could purchase and fit out private vessels that would operate against Federal ships for prize money. The volunteer navy measure was not implemented.

In Mississippi, Benjamin Grierson’s Federals skirmished at New Albany. In Louisiana, Federals destroyed a Confederate salt works near New Iberia. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas.

Sunday, April 19.  President Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and General-in-Chief Henry Halleck traveled to Aquia Creek in northern Virginia on a one-day trip to discuss military issues. In Mississippi, Benjamin Grierson’s Federals skirmished at Pontotoc. Other skirmishing occurred in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, and Missouri.

Monday, April 20.  President Lincoln issued a proclamation stating that West Virginia, having been granted statehood by Congress the previous December, would officially join the Union on June 20, the two-year anniversary of when western Virginia voters chose to secede from the rest of the state.

In Louisiana, Federals captured Opelousas, Washington, and Butte-a-la-Rose. In Missouri, John Marmaduke’s Confederates skirmished at Patterson. Other skirmishing occurred in Virginia, North Carolina, western Virginia, and Tennessee.

Tuesday, April 21.  In western Virginia, General William E. Jones’s Confederates raided the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri, 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: Apr 8-14, 1863

Wednesday, April 8.  In the Federal campaign to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi, Federal forces under General John McClernand skirmished with Confederates near New Carthage on the Mississippi River. In Virginia, President Abraham Lincoln reviewed portions of the Army of the Potomac with General Joseph Hooker at Falmouth. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Arkansas.

Thursday, April 9.  Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri.

Friday, April 10.  Confederate President Jefferson Davis signed a bill into law limiting the cultivation of cotton and tobacco on private farms and plantations. Davis proclaimed, “Let fields be devoted exclusively to the production of corn, oats, beans, peas, potatoes, and other food for man and beast… let all your efforts be directed to the prompt supply of these articles in the districts where our armies are operating.”

Davis said, “Alone, unaided, we have met and overthrown the most formidable combination of naval and military armaments that the lust of conquest ever gathered together for the subjugation of a free people… We must not forget, however, that the war is not yet ended… and that the Government which controls these fleets and armies is driven to the most desperate efforts to effect the unholy purposes in which it has thus far been defeated.”

President Lincoln returned to Washington after reviewing more Army of the Potomac troops at Falmouth. In Tennessee, Confederates under General Earl Van Dorn attacked Federals at Franklin but withdrew after a fierce skirmish.

Saturday, April 11.  In Virginia, Confederates under General James Longstreet began a siege of Federals at Suffolk. In the Utah Territory, Federals began an offensive against the Indians from Camp Douglas to the Spanish Fork Canon. In South Carolina, Federal blockaders forced the blockade runner Stonewall Jackson ashore off Charleston. Skirmishing occurred at several points, including a Federal cavalry operation into Georgia. President Lincoln held a cabinet meeting and discussed his visit to General Hooker’s Army of the Potomac.

Sunday, April 12.  President Lincoln reviewed a letter from General Hooker, in which Hooker proposed to attack General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia by crossing the Rappahannock River, turning Lee’s left flank, and using cavalry to cut Confederate lines to Richmond. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Tennessee. In California, a Federal offensive against Indians began from Camp Babbitt.

Monday, April 13.  As a result of the unsuccessful Federal attack on Charleston Harbor on April 7, Flag Officer Samuel Du Pont determined that the harbor forts could not be taken by naval force alone. However, President Lincoln ordered Du Pont to hold his position in Charleston Harbor. Lincoln expressed frustration over the failure of the Federal ironclads to capture the forts.

General Ambrose Burnside, commanding the Federal Department of the Ohio, issued General Order No. 38. This stated that “the habit of declaring sympathy for the enemy will not be allowed in this department.” Anyone criticizing the war effort or committing “treason, expressed or implied,” would be arrested and face a military tribunal for disloyalty. Those found guilty of aiding the Confederacy would be executed, and southern sympathizers would be deported to the South. Burnside’s order sought to silence the growing anti-war sentiment in the region west of the Alleghenies and north of the Ohio River. The dissidents were known as “Copperheads” for wearing copper pennies in their lapels.

In Louisiana, Federals under General Nathaniel Banks attacked Fort Bisland on Bayou Teche, forcing the Confederates to withdraw. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Tennessee.

Tuesday, April 14.  In Louisiana, General Banks’s Federals occupied Fort Bisland, as Federal naval fire destroyed the captured Federal gunboat Queen of the West. In Virginia, General Hooker’s Federal cavalry conducted operations near Rappahannock Bridge, and at Kelly’s, Welford’s, and Beverly fords. President Lincoln reiterated the importance for Federal warships to remain in Charleston Harbor.

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: Apr 1-7, 1863

Wednesday, April 1.  The Confederate armies were reorganized: the Confederate Department of Richmond was created with General Arnold Elzey commanding, the Confederate Department of Southern Virginia was created with General S.G. French commanding, and the Department of North Carolina was created with General D.H. Hill commanding. General Francis J. Heron assumed command of the Federal Department of the Frontier. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Thursday, April 2.  Food shortages and soaring prices led to what became known as the “Richmond bread riot” in the Confederate capital. An angry group of citizens, mostly women, surrounded a wagon demanding food. When their demands were not met, they stormed the city’s business district, smashed store windows and doors, and seized items such as flour, meal, and clothing. Virginia Governor John Letcher dispatched state militia to restore order. Then President Jefferson Davis stood on a wagon, threw the crowd all the money he had, and warned that the troops would open fire if they did not disperse. The crowd finally disbanded with no arrests or injuries.

Davis defended General John C. Pemberton, who was facing criticism for his northern heritage and for allowing the Federals to close in on Vicksburg, Mississippi. Davis stated that “by his judicious imposition of his forces and skillful selection of the best points of defence he has repulsed the enemy at Vicksburg, Port Hudson, on the Tallahatchie and at Deer Creek, and has thus far foiled his every attempt to get possession of the Mississippi river and the vast section of country which it controls.”

President Abraham Lincoln issued orders directing the Treasury secretary to regulate trade with states in rebellion.

Friday, April 3.  President Davis wrote to Arkansas Governor Harris Flanagin that “if we lost control of the Eastern side (of the Mississippi River), the Western must almost inevitably fall into the power of the enemy. The defense of the fortified places on the Eastern bank is therefore regarded as the defense of Arkansas quite as much as that of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.” President Lincoln informed General Joseph Hooker, commanding the Army of the Potomac, that he planned to meet with him in northern Virginia this weekend.

In Pennsylvania, four men were arrested in Reading for allegedly belonging to the pro-Confederate Knights of the Golden Circle. Federal expeditions began in western Virginia and Arkansas. In Tennessee, Federal forces destroyed Palmyra in retaliation for an attack on a Federal convoy the previous day.

Saturday, April 4.  In celebration of his son Tad’s 10th birthday, President Lincoln and his entourage steamed down from Washington to visit General Hooker and watch a “grand review” of the Army of the Potomac at Falmouth Heights, Virginia. Off North Carolina, Federal naval forces failed to capture a Confederate battery near Washington. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Louisiana.

Sunday, April 5.  In Virginia, President Lincoln conferred with General Hooker. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Monday, April 6.  In Virginia, President Lincoln wrote a memo in General Hooker’s headquarters stating that “our prime object is the enemies’ army in front of us, and is not with, or about, Richmond…” In Great Britain, the British government seized the Confederate vessel Alexandria while it was being fitted in Liverpool harbor. Skirmishing occurred in western Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Louisiana.

Tuesday, April 7.  Flag Officer Samuel Du Pont led an attack by nine Federal ironclads on the forts in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The ironclads sustained heavy damage from Confederate artillery at Forts Sumter and Moultrie; U.S.S. Keokuk sank the next morning after suffering 91 hits, and four other ships were disabled. The Federal attack was unsuccessful.

In Tennessee, Confederates under General Joseph Wheeler raided the Louisville & Nashville and Nashville & Chattanooga Railroads. In Louisiana, the Federal steamer Barataria was captured by Confederates on the Amite River. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee 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: Mar 25-31, 1863

Wednesday, March 25.  In Mississippi, Federal efforts to capture the Confederate stronghold at Vicksburg were becoming increasingly futile; skirmishing occurred on Black Bayou as the Federal expedition on Steele’s Bayou was stalled. In addition, a Federal ram was sunk and another disabled when attempting to run the Vicksburg batteries guarding the Mississippi River.

In Tennessee, Confederates under General Nathan Bedford Forrest raided Brentwood and Franklin. General Ambrose Burnside, former commander of the Federal Army of the Potomac, was given command of the Department of the Ohio. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Kentucky.

Thursday, March 26.  The voters of West Virginia approved the gradual emancipation of slaves. The Confederate Congress passed a law authorizing the confiscation of food and property, including slaves, when needed for the army.

President Abraham Lincoln wrote to pro-Union Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson regarding the recruitment of blacks into the military: “The colored population is the great available and yet unavailed of, force for restoring the Union. The bare sight of 50,000 armed, and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi, would end the rebellion at once.”

Friday, March 27.  Addressing members of various Indian tribes, President Lincoln said, “I can see no way in which your race is to become as numerous and prosperous as the white race except by living as they do, but the cultivation of the earth.” Skirmishing occurred in Florida and Tennessee.

Saturday, March 28.  In Louisiana, the Federal gunboat U.S.S. Diana was captured near Pattersonville. Skirmishing occurred in western Virginia, and a Federal expedition from La Grange to Moscow and Macon in Tennessee began.

Sunday, March 29.  In Mississippi, General Ulysses S. Grant ordered General John McClernand’s Federals on the Louisiana, or west, side of the Mississippi River to advance from Milliken’s Bend to New Carthage, south of Vicksburg. The Federal corps under Generals William T. Sherman and James McPherson were to follow. From this, Grant began formulating a daring plan to move his entire army across the river, bypass Vicksburg on the west bank, then re-cross below the city, abandon the supply line, and attack Vicksburg from the east.

Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Florida, and Tennessee.

Monday, March 30.  President Lincoln proclaimed April 30 as a day of national fasting and prayer. In North Carolina, Confederates besieged Washington. Heavy skirmishing occurred in Virginia, western Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory.

Tuesday, March 31.  In Mississippi, Ulysses S. Grant’s movement from Milliken’s Bend to New Carthage continued. In support, Admiral David G. Farragut’s Federal ships ran the Grand Gulf batteries below Vicksburg.

In Florida, Federals evacuated Jacksonville. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Arkansas. President Lincoln allowed commercial relations with parts of southern states under Federal occupation according to regulations set by Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase.

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: Mar 18-24, 1863

Wednesday, March 18.  Confederate commissioner John Slidell and representatives of Emile Erlanger, head of France’s most influential bank, negotiated a loan to the Confederacy for $15 million to help finance the war. The loan was secured by the Confederate sale of 20-year war bonds that could be exchanged for cotton, the South’s most lucrative commodity. The cotton was to be sold to bondholders at 12 cents per pound when the market rate was 21 cents per pound. Some Confederate officials noted the enormous profit margin and accused Erlanger of extortion, but they were desperate for money so the loan was approved.

President Abraham Lincoln wrote to Congressman Henry Winter Davis of Maryland: “Let the friends of the government first save the government, then administer it to their own liking.” General Theophilus H. Holmes assumed command of the Confederate District of Arkansas.

Thursday, March 19.  In the South, the first bond sales on the new Erlanger loan took place. Initial sales were successful, but Federal agents in Europe spread rumors that Confederate securities were a poor risk and bid up the cost of war supplies so high that the Confederates could not afford to buy them. Many investors were ruined, Erlanger cleared $6 million in commissions, and the Confederacy was left with $9 million to pay for war.

On the Mississippi River, the Federal ships Hartford and Albatross under command of Flag Officer David G. Farragut passed the batteries at Grand Gulf, just south of Vicksburg. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

Friday, March 20.  Federal General Stephen A. Hurlbut informed President Lincoln of all the unsuccessful attempts to attack Vicksburg thus far. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee and Florida.

Saturday, March 21.  On the Mississippi River, Farragut’s Federal ships anchored below Vicksburg. Confederate sharpshooters harassed General William T. Sherman’s Federals at Steele’s Bayou. In Tennessee, Confederate guerrillas attacked a train traveling from Bolivar to Grand Junction.

In Louisiana, one Federal expedition left New Orleans for Ponchatoula, and another left Bonnet Carre for the Amite River. Federal General Edwin Sumner died; he had fought admirably on the Virginia Peninsula and at Antietam last year.

Sunday, March 22.  In Kentucky, Confederate under John Pegram began operations, while part of John Hunt Morgan’s Confederate force attempted to capture a Federal garrison at Mount Sterling. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Monday, March 23.  The Confederate Congress authorized funding Treasury notes issued previous to December 1, 1862 and further issuance of Treasury notes for not less than $5 or more than $50 each.

President Lincoln wrote to New York Governor Horatio Seymour, a Democratic opponent of his administration, that “there can not be a difference of purpose between you and me. If we should differ as to the means, it is important that such difference should be as small as possible–that it should not be enhanced by unjust suspicions on one side or the other.”

In Florida, Federal forces operated near Jacksonville. On the Mississippi River, Farragut’s Federal ships attacked Confederate batteries at Warrenton, below Vicksburg. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Tuesday, March 24.  In Mississippi, William T. Sherman’s Federals were stopped in their struggles north of Vicksburg in a skirmish at Black’s Bayou. This convinced Sherman to abandon the futile effort to reach Vicksburg through the maze of marshes and swamps north of the stronghold. Sherman’s withdrawal ended a series of unsuccessful efforts to attack Vicksburg from the north, and General Ulysses S. Grant began formulating a new plan of attack.

Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida. In Arkansas, Federal scouts began operating near Fayetteville.

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

This Week in the Civil War: Mar 11-17, 1863

Wednesday, March 11.  In Mississippi, Confederates blocked Federal gunboats from advancing on Vicksburg. The Confederates had quickly built Fort Pemberton out of earth and cotton bales, and they stopped the Federal effort to attack Vicksburg via the Yazoo River to the north.

Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky. In Baltimore, a Federal commander prohibited the sale of pictures of Confederate military and political leaders.

Thursday, March 12.  In Tennessee, a Federal expedition on the Duck River returned to Franklin. A Federal expedition in western Virginia began.

Friday, March 13.  In Mississippi, the Confederates at Fort Pemberton held firm against Federal gunboat attacks. In Richmond, an explosion caused by the accidental ignition of a friction primer killed or wounded 69 people at the Confederate Ordnance Laboratory; casualties included 62 women. Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee.

Saturday, March 14.  On the Mississippi River, a Federal naval squadron led by Flag Officer David G. Farragut attempted to pass the Confederate batteries at Port Hudson, Louisiana. Federal troops under General Nathaniel Banks attempted to create a diversion to allow the ships to pass, but the vessels were pummeled by Confederate artillery. Only three of the seven ships managed to run the gauntlet and land between Port Hudson and Vicksburg. This proved that capturing Port Hudson would be more difficult for the Federals than anticipated.

Skirmishing occurred in Tennessee.

Sunday, March 15.  In San Francisco, Federal authorities seized the ship J.M. Chapman as it was about to leave port allegedly carrying 20 secessionists and six cannons. In North Carolina, the British ship Britannia successfully ran the Federal blockade at Wilmington, even though the blockade was growing stronger. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

Monday, March 16.  In Mississippi, General William T. Sherman and 11 Federal gunboats tried advancing through the twisting waterways from the Yazoo River to Steele’s Bayou, north of Vicksburg. However, Confederate obstructions in the water made progress virtually impossible.

In Tennessee, a Federal expedition from Jackson to Trenton began.

Tuesday, March 17.  In Virginia, the Battle of Kelly’s Ford occurred when Federal cavalry under General William Averell crossed the Rappahannock River to push Confederates away from Culpeper. In the first large-scale battle for the new Federal cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac, the Federals were repulsed after hard combat. However, they showed unprecedented fighting spirit. Moreover, the Confederate victory was tempered by the loss of rising star Major John Pelham, who was killed in action.

President Abraham Lincoln responded to a letter from General William Rosecrans complaining that the government was not supporting his efforts in Tenneseee, ”… you wrong both yourself and us, when you even suspect there is not the best disposition on the part of us all here to oblige you.” Skirmishing occurred in Virginia.

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

150 years later, Union sailors from USS Monitor to be buried at Arlington

It is nice to see these veterans being honored so long after giving their lives in defense of the Union. What’s even more impressive is the use of DNA in attempting to identify the men. This story raises some interesting questions as to how many other veterans are unaccounted for from the war and how DNA can be used to find other veterans deserving of military honors and burial.

Two Navy sailors slated for heroes’ burials at Arlington National Cemetery have waited a century and a half for the honor.

The men were among the crew members who perished aboard the legendary Union battleship the USS Monitor, which fought an epic Civil War battle with Confederate vessel The Merrimack in the first battle between two ironclad ships in the Battle of Hampton Roads, on March 9, 1862.

Nine months later, the Monitor sank in rough seas off of Cape Hatteras, where it was discovered in 1973. Two skeletons and the tattered remains of their uniforms were discovered in the rusted hulk of the Union ironclad in 2002, when its 150-ton turret was brought to the surface. The Navy spent most of a decade trying to determine the identity of the remains through DNA testing.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/03/04/150-years-later-union-sailors-from-uss-monitor-to-be-buried-at-arlington/