This Week in the Civil War: Aug 5-11, 1863

Wednesday, August 5.  President Lincoln wrote to General Nathaniel Banks, commander of the Federal Department of the Gulf: “For my own part I think I shall not, in any event, retract the emancipation proclamation; nor, as executive, ever return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.”

In Arkansas, General Frederick Steele assumed command of Federal troops at Helena. On the South Carolina coast, Confederates strengthened defenses at Fort Sumter and Battery Wagner in Charleston Harbor. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, West Virginia, and Mississippi.

Thursday, August 6.  In accordance with President Lincoln’s proclamation, the northern states observed a day of thanksgiving for the recent Federal victories. Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to South Carolina Governor M.L. Bonham pledging relief for Charleston, “which we pray will never be polluted by the footsteps of a lustful, relentless, inhuman foe.”

C.S.S. Alabama captured Sea Bride amidst cheers off the Cape of Good Hope. In Virginia, John S. Mosby’s Confederate raiders captured a Federal wagon train near Fairfax Court House. Skirmishing occurred in West Virginia.

Friday, August 7.  President Lincoln refused New York Governor Horatio Seymour’s request to suspend the military draft, explaining, “My purpose is to be, in my action, just and constitutional; and yet practical, in performing the important duty, with which I am charged, of maintaining the unity, and the free principles of our common country.” Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Missouri.

Saturday, August 8.  General Robert E. Lee submitted his resignation as commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to President Davis. Lee was in poor health, and he blamed himself for the defeat at Gettysburg in July. Lee wrote, “I, therefore, in all sincerity, request your excellency to take measures to supply my place.”

On the South Carolina coast, Federals continued building approaches to Battery Wagner, using calcium lights to work at night. Off the Florida coast, U.S.S. Sagamore seized four prizes. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Mississippi, and Missouri.

Sunday, August 9.  In a letter to General Ulysses S. Grant at Vicksburg, President Lincoln wrote that black troops were “a resource which, if vigorously applied now, will soon close the contest.” Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Monday, August 10.  In Arkansas, Frederick Steele’s Federals began advancing on Little Rock from Helena. Thirteenth Corps was transferred from Ulysses S. Grant’s army at Vicksburg to Carrollton, Louisiana. In Texas, Confederate regiments mutinied at Galveston due to lack of rations and furloughs, but order was quickly restored.

President Lincoln wrote to General William S. Rosecrans, commanding the Federal Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee, “I have not abated in my kind feeling for and confidence in you… Since Grant has been entirely relieved by the fall of Vicksburg, by which (Confederate General Joseph E.) Johnston (in Mississippi) is also relieved, it has seemed to me that your chance for a stroke, has been considerably diminished…” Skirmishing occurred in Louisiana and Missouri.

Tuesday, August 11.  On the South Carolina coast, Confederate artillery at Battery Wagner, Fort Sumter, and James Island pounded entrenched Federals. In Virginia, Confederates captured a Federal wagon train near Annandale.

After pondering Robert E. Lee’s resignation, President Davis refused, stating, “our country could not bear to lose you.” A pro-Union meeting voiced support for the Federal war effort at Washington, North Carolina.

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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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: Mar 4-10, 1863

Wednesday, March 4.  In Tennessee, Federal forces were surrounded by Confederates under Generals Earl Van Dorn and Nathan Bedford Forrest at Spring Hill. The cavalry escaped, but the infantry was captured the next day. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia and Tennessee.

Thursday, March 5.  In Mississippi, Federal troops under General Ulysses S. Grant continued digging a canal to approach Vicksburg through the swamps north of the city; they were fired on by occasional Confederate artillery. In Ohio, Federal troops attacked the headquarters of Crisis, a pro-southern newspaper in Columbus. Skirmishing occurred in Missouri and Arkansas.

Friday, March 6.  Skirmishing occurred in Arkansas, and a Federal expedition began from New Berne to Trenton and Swansborough in North Carolina.

Saturday, March 7.  The Federal military commander of Baltimore prohibited the sale of “secession music” and ordered the confiscation of various song sheets. The commander also prohibited the sale of pictures of Confederate generals and politicians.

In Louisiana, General Nathaniel Banks and 12,000 Federals began moving north from New Orleans in an effort to capture Port Hudson on the Mississippi River. Port Hudson prevented Federal gunboats in New Orleans from moving upriver and protected the Red River which the Confederates used to connect to the West. Banks planned to feign an attack on Port Hudson while Federal gunboats moved past the stronghold to isolate it from the north.

General Edmund Kirby Smith assumed command of all Confederate forces west of the Mississippi River. Skirmishing occurred in Virginia, western Virginia, and North Carolina.

Sunday, March 8. In Virginia, Captain John S. Mosby and 29 Confederate raiders attacked Fairfax County Court House and captured Federal troops and supplies. The captured troops included General E.H. Stoughton, who had been assigned to stop Mosby, along with two captains and 38 others. The captured supplies included 58 horses, along with arms and equipment. The southern press celebrated Mosby’s daring raid.

A Federal expedition began from La Grange and Collierville to Covington in Tennessee. Skirmishing occurred at New Berne, North Carolina.

Monday, March 9.  On the Misssissippi River, Federal forces sent another “Quaker” boat, or fake ironclad, past Vicksburg; it was constructed from logs and pork barrels. Skirmishing occurred in Kentucky, Louisiana, Virginia, and Florida. A Federal expedition began from Bloomfield, Missouri to Chalk Bluff, Arkansas. Another Federal reconnaissance began from Salem to Versailles in Tennessee.

Tuesday, March 10.  President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation granting amnesty to soldiers who had deserted the ranks if they voluntarily returned to their units by April 1; otherwise they would be prosecuted as deserters.

In Florida, Federal troops occupied Jacksonville. Skirmishing occurred in North Carolina and Tennessee. A Federal reconnaissance began from La Fayette to Moscow in Tennessee. Confederate President Jefferson Davis questioned General John C. Pemberton about Federal efforts to capture Vicksburg.

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