Sunday, December 24, 2006
Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862
Union : Major Generals John Fremont, Irwin McDowell, and Nathaniel Banks, each commanding a division with a combined total of nearly 50,000.
Confederate: Major General Thomas Jackson, commanding the Army of the Valley, and Major General Richard Ewell, commanding a division attacked to Jackson. Total of 17,000.
Prelude: The Spring of 1862 was a time of great anxiety for the Confederacy. Things have been relatively quiet but there is a wonder what the Federals will do next. There was a belief that Major General George McClellan will do something. There has to be some confusion as to why McClellan, with an overwhelming force at his command, has not done anything yet.
Jackson was not the sort of man to sit. The former Virginia Military Institute professor had already received a reputation for hard fighting at the First Battle of Manassas where the nickname “Stonewall” was applied to him. He always felt it was right to apply the nickname to the brigade he led, not to him. (His former brigade was known as the Stonewall Brigade.)
At this tine Jackson held an independent command in Virginia, as the army guarding the Confederate capital of Richmond was not yet known as the Army of Northern Virginia. That army was commanded by General Joseph Johnston while its future commander, General Robert E. Lee, was presently the military advisor to President Jefferson Davis.
20 March 1862: Upon receiving intelligence of a Union formation entering the Shenandoah River Valley, Jackson and his 6000 men move to meet them. The Union force, under Brigadier General James Shields, begins moving back towards the town of Winchester. This is a ploy in order to split Jackson from the main Confederate force.
22 March 1862: Jackson’s troops approach Kernstown, south of Winchester. Shields has his troops dig in. There is a brief, sharp action, during which Shields is wounded.
23 March 1862: Battle of Kernstown (Winchester): Jackson believes that there are only 3000 Federal troops facing him. In fact there are 8500 commanded by Colonel Nathan Kimball, who took over for the wounded Shields.
12:00 noon: Jackson opens the battle with a artillery barrage. He then begins a series of assaults hoping to dislodge the Union forces from their trenches.
3:00 p.m.: Kimball launches an attack on Jackson’s left flank, forcing them back and causing a near rout. Jackson has no choice but to order a retreat and the force heads for Mount Jackson, to the southwest.
This is the only defeat Jackson will suffer in his entire military career!
Banks is happy with that result and begins to send some of his forces to reinforce McClellan, who is enroute to Fort Monroe to start the Peninsular Campaign. However, it was feared in Washington that Jackson’s attack was an opening move that could lead to the Confederates taking Harper’s Ferry. Banks is ordered to stop moving his corps and concentrate at Winchester. Meanwhile, a corps commanded by McDowell is taken from McClellan’s forces and assigned to the defense of the Federal capital.
25 March, 1862: Union troops break off the pursuit of Jackson at Woodstock.
29 March, 1862: Fremont takes over as commander of Union forces in Western Virginia (the future State of West Virginia).
30 March, 1862: Jackson force reaches Harrisonburg, where they will remain for the next three weeks.
As Jackson’s men are licking their wounds, two Federal corps, Banks and McDowell, are pushing their way into the Valley.
There is not much action during the month of April in the Valley. All of the action at the time is in the Peninsula (but that is another Timeline).
30 April, 1862: Jackson receives help in the form of reinforcements led by Ewell. He now has a force of 17,000 and can soon take the offensive.
3 May, 1862: Jackson pulls his troops out of the Valley to Mechum River Station, where they will head west to Staunton.
Jackson enjoyed two advantages; first, the Federal forces are scattered, Banks is at Strasburg, McDowell is preparing to move on Richmond, and Fremont is at Franklin (Western Virginia). Jackson is closer to each Federal formation then they are to each other. Second, Jackson had lived in nearby Western Virginia as a child, and would know the area. He decided to use that to his advantage and his Fremont first.
8 May, 1862: Battle of McDowell: The leading formation of Fremont reached the town of McDowell. Under Brigadier General Robert Milroy, the advancing column deploys into line of battle and assault Jackson. Jackson sees the attacking Federal force and orders an attack of his own. This stops the Federal assault and sends then into a retreat, with the Confederates in pursuit.
The pursuit continues until both forces reach Franklin. Jackson then orders his forces to break off the pursuit and return to Harrisonburg. This keeps Fremont from joining Banks.
14 May, 1862: Jackson’s army is concentrated at Harrisonburg. He decides to make Banks his next target.
20 May, 1862: Jackson makes his move, first moving up the Shenandoah Valley, then switching to the Luray Valley by making a right turn at New Market, then turning back to the north at Luray Town.
Around this time, McClellan wanted McDowell, who at this time was advancing near Fredericksburg, to join him on the Peninsula. This would have further complicated the already poor tactical situation in the Valley.
22 May, 1862: Jackson’s troops push on toward Front Royal, where a small Federal garrison is stationed.
23 May, 1862: Battle of Front Royal: Facing Jackson is the small Federal command of Colonel J.R. Kenley, about 1400. The full might of Jackson descends on Kenley about noon, sweeping them away with a loss of 932 Federals killed or injured.
24 May, 1862: In response to the troubling situation in the Valley (and the possible threat to Washington), President Abraham Lincoln orders Fremont to enter the Valley and take Harrisonburg. He also vetoes the transfer of McDowell to McClellan’s command. McClellan had over 100,000 in his command, surely that was enough to defeat Johnston and take Richmond.
Banks, upon hearing of the defeat at Front Royal, pulls back to Winchester in order to concentrate his forces.
25 May, 1862: Battle of Winchester: Jackson manages to catch up to Banks south of Winchester. At dawn, he launches a series of attacks that last five hours and results in Banks ordering a withdrawal to the Potomac River. Jackson also captures Bank’s supply depot, one of several similar occurrences that will earn Banks the nickname “Commissary.” Of course, the addition of so many Federal supplies was a shot in the arm to Jackson’s men. Jackson does not let his men enjoy the windfall for too lone, and orders a pursuit of Banks.
26 May, 1862: Banks manages to cross the Potomac before Jackson can cut him off. Still, this eliminates one Union army from the area and gives Jackson control of the Valley. This also places a Confederate army within striking distance of Washington, which must have given the civilian leadership there fits.
Lincoln orders McDowell to break off his advance on Richmond and concentrate near Harper’s Ferry, about 40,000 men to take on Jackson. Jackson sees three Federal columns coming to destroy him and does the smart thing, a gradual pull back into the Valley.
30 May, 1862: There is a brief skirmish near front Royal as Federal troops reoccupy the town.
31 May, 1862: While Johnston’s main force is battling McClellan at Fair Oaks, Johnston is wounded. This resulted in a change in the dynamics of the general situation at Lee is ordered to assume command.
On this same day, Jackson escapes an attempt by Fremont to trap him at Winchester and the Confederates continue movement to the south.
2 June, 1862: Skirmishing continues as Jackson continues to draw Fremont and McDowell south.
6 June, 1862: Jackson suffers a blow when his most gifted cavalry, Brigadier general Turner Ashby, is killed in a skirmish near Harrisonburg.
8 June, 1862: Battle of Cross Keys: Jackson finds himself between Fremont and McDowell and knows that the two can not meet. He sends Ewell against Fremont.
Ewell places his forces on a ridge near the Cross Keys Tavern. Fremont, not sure of the amount of Confederates facing him, made a series of probes that did not do too much. At this rate, Fremont found himself tied down as Jackson took his remaining forces to the east. That night, Ewell pulls out and marches to rejoin Jackson.
9 June, 1862: Battle of Port Republic: After a skirmish the day before, which almost resulted in his capture, Jackson throws his full might on Shields’ division of McDowell’s army. After a series of frontal assaults that are repulsed, Jackson launches a frontal assault with a flanking movement, using a division that marched through dense forest to get into position, which peels back the Federals. Fremont arrives in the area but can not come up in support; the bridge across the Shenandoah was taken down on Jackson’s orders to prevent just that. Both Fremont and McDowell begin to pull back their armies, leaving Jackson the master of the Shenandoah Valley.
Jackson managed to do three things, he first tied up close to 64,000 troops, preventing them from assisting McClellan or threatening Richmond, second, he managed to threaten Washington, even if he could do nothing about it, and third, he secured the Shenandoah Valley, the Breadbasket of the Confederacy.
17 June, 1862: After a few days of rest, Jackson begins marching his forces to join Lee. He would make himself apparent at the Battle of Mechanicsville and ultimately a corps commander under Lee.
After a military reorganization that would place him under Major General John Pope, Fremont resigned his command, and would never receive another one.
McDowell would command the III Corps of the Army of Virginia (Pope’s command) and after a leave of absence would see the war’s end as Commander, Department of the Pacific.
Banks would spend the war in various commands, including II Corps, Army of Virginia, Commander, Military District of Washington, XIX Corps, Department of the Gulf, and finally commander of the Department of the Gulf. Banks would be known for several ill-fated attempts to conquer the Confederacy west of the Mississippi River, including the Red River Campaign.
Jackson would lead a corps in the Army of Northern Virginia and experience the Confederate victories at Second Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, where he was wounded as he was coming back from a scouting mission near the Federal lines. Jackson would die of the pneumonia that resulted.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Sherman's Carolinas Campaign
Union: Major General William T. Sherman, commander of the Union’s Western Theatre of Operations.
Confederate: General Joseph Johnston, commander of a makeshift Confederate army formed from militia units and the remains of the Army of Tennessee.
Prelude: Since 21 December, 1864, Sherman’s army was encamped in the city of Savannah, GA. Now being resupplied by way of the US Navy, Sherman took the time to rest and refit his army in preparation for the next operation. There was discussion with the Commander of all Federal armies, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant about that same matter. Grant had planned to bring Sherman and his 60,000 to Virginia, combine them with the Army of the Potomac, and use that overwhelming power to crush General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The presence of a makeshift Confederate force in North Carolina might have made Grant change his mind. Possibly there was a political reason for the change. South Carolina was considered the birthplace of secession and Northerners tended to blame South Carolinians for the war. To inflict punishment on that state would be very popular in the North. With this in mind, Grant orders Sherman to march through the Carolinas, take out Johnston’s army, and then link up with him in Virginia.
As Sherman plans his movement, the Confederate Army in South Carolina consisted of the Charleston Garrison, commanded by General P.T.G. Beauregard, and the recently evacuated Savannah Garrison, commanded by Major General William Hardee. They might put up a fight, but would likely delay, but not stop the advance.
1 February, 1865: With all in readiness, Sherman orders his army to begin moving into South Carolina. To keep the Confederates off balance, his left wing, Major General Henry Slocum’s Army of Georgia, moved toward Augusta while the right wing, Major General Oliver Howard’s Army of the Tennessee moved toward Charleston. After entering South Carolina, the two wings began to follow parallel paths, both aimed at the state capital of Columbia. The Federal movement was observed by Confederate cavalry who could do no more than try to delay the advance.
As the Union forces moved through the south part of South Carolina, movement was slowed by swampy ground. This provided the defending Confederates to make several attempts to block the Federals, resulting on several skirmishes.
8 February, 1865: As Sherman’s army pushes to Columbia, he receives a message from Major General Joseph Wheeler, commanding the Confederate cavalry in the area, complaining that Sherman’s men are destroying private property. Sherman answers that he gave orders that private property would be respected. Of course, Sherman still had his bummers, those men who kept his army supplied during the March to the Sea, and they were still gainfully employed. Empty houses were considered fair game, but one must consider that the occasional occupied house was also hit.
11 February, 1865: Sherman’s army cuts the rail line connecting Augusta, GA and Charleston, SC, preventing a scratch force at Augusta from rendering any assistance. This action caused Beauregard to call for the evacuation of the Charleston Garrison before they could be encircled.
As the Federal advance continued, rain began to hamper their speed. Wagons would halt until Sherman’s engineers could corduroy the dirt (now muddy) roads. To corduroy a road was to put logs or planks over the road to create a surface that made it easier for wagons and artillery to move.
14 February, 1865: The Federal advance crosses the Congaree River amid skirmishing. The best the Confederate troops could do was to find isolated Federal units and capture them.
15 February, 1865: Sherman reaches the outskirts of Columbia. That afternoon, the Confederate garrison evacuates the city. At the same time, the Charleston Garrison is considering the same thing.
17 February, 1865: Columbia, SC falls to Federal forces. During the night, fires began to burn across the city. These fires were either set by retreating Confederates burning cotton stores, of by drunken Union troops. Either way, the city was leveled.
Also on this night, the Confederate Garrison of Charleston was evacuated. One of the last Confederate positions abandoned was Fort Sumter, the flash point of the entire war.
18 February, 1865: Sherman orders all property that was usable to the enemy destroyed in Columbia before ordering his troops to resume movement. At the same time, Charleston, SC formally surrenders to Federal forces led by Major General Alexander Schimmelfennig.
23 February, 1865: Sherman’s army is back on the march in a heavy rain, aiming for the North Carolina border.
Sherman was getting some help, on 22 February the port city of Wilmington, NC fell to Federal forces. This was the last Confederate port on the Atlantic coast.
Johnston was given command of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, despite the fact that his only striking power was sitting in North Carolina.
25 February, 1865: Johnston assumes command of his makeshift army, consisting of the remains of the Army of Tennessee and reinforced by various militia units and backed by Wheeler’s cavalry.
3 March, 1865: Union troops reach Cheraw, SC, just inside the line from North Carolina. While the town was being occupied, some Union soldiers found a cache of very fine wine that was sent there from Charleston. The wine was distributed amongst the men. It must have a sight to see fine European wines drunk from tin cups. The Confederates retreat into North Carolina.
6 March, 1865: Sherman resumes his march, crossing into North Carolina and heading for Fayetteville.
Johnston’s area of responsibility was increased to include North Carolina and Virginia up to Petersburg.
7 March, 1865: Sherman receives additional help when Federal forces seize New Berne, allowing a supply line to be established.
8 March, 1865: The first serious Confederate challenge to Sherman takes place at Kinston, NC as troops led by General Braxton Bragg turn back s Federal corps that was rushing to join Sherman. The corps was merely delayed.
9 March, 1865: That evening, Confederate cavalry under Major General Wade Hampton and Wheeler attack the camp on Major General Judson Kilpatrick’s Federal cavalry. It has been said that Kilpatrick was surprised in bed and that he fled into the woods naked. A somewhat fitting occurrence to the unpopular commander, known as “Kill-cavalry” for losing many of his troopers in battle.
10 March, 1865: Kilpatrick manages to get his act together and beats off the Confederates. At the same time, Bragg withdraws, leaving the way for Federals to join Sherman.
11 March, 1865: Fayetteville, NC falls to Sherman’s forces.
12 March, 1865: Sherman orders the same treatment for Fayetteville that he gave Atlanta and Columbia. All rail, storehouses, the arsenal, and machine shops were destroyed.
14 March, 1865: Sherman resumes the march, this time heading toward Goldsboro.
16 March, 1865: The most serious Confederate resistance occurs when Slocum’s wing runs into trenches north of Averasboro. Sherman launches an attack, having Slocum hit the trenches on the flank while XX Corps keeps them busy. Hardee, commanding the defenses, is forced to pull back. The Confederates head down the road towards Bentonville.
18 March, 1865: Johnston has amassed an army of about 17,000 near Bentonville. The plan was to isolate and wreck Slocum’s wind, hopefully causing Sherman to pause.
Both sides entrench.
19 March, 1865: Battle of Bentonville. Johnston launches an attack which drives back XIV Corps. A Federal counterattack forces the Confederates back to their entrenchments. Fighting dies down at sundown.
20 March, 1865; Sherman and the remainder of his army have reached Bentonville and launched a series of attacks on the Confederate center. Wheeler’s cavalry skirmishes with Union troops throughout the day with little effect.
21 March, 1865: The Federal XX Corps launched an attack on Johnston’s left flank, hoping to surround them. Hardee and Hampton gather a force and launch a counterattack, which is repulsed with heavy losses, including Hardee’s 16 year-old son. That night, Johnston orders his forces to pull back about two miles. The Confederates lost about 2600 at Bentonville, and there were no replacements coming.
23 March, 1865: Sherman has reached Goldsboro where he meets Major General John Schofield’s corps, who marched up from Wilmington to join Sherman. This gives him about 90,000 troops.
While his troops were resting, Sherman is ordered to City Point, VA where he is to meet with Grant and President Lincoln on board the River Queen where the procedures and terms for dealing with soon to be defeated Confederacy were discussed.
11 April, 1865: Sherman is back with his army and they begin moving on the state capital of Raleigh.
12 April, 1865: A message arrives at Sherman’s headquarters with great news. Lee had surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House, VA three days ago, removing a major Confederate army from the field. News is also received that Richmond, the Confederate capital, has fallen and the confederate government is on the run.
13 April, 1865: Raleigh, NC falls to Federal troops while Kilpatrick’s cavalry reached Durham Station, 25 miles to the northwest.
16 April, 1865: Johnston, seeing that he was seriously outnumbered, asks Sherman for a meeting to discuss surrender. He might have already heard of Lee’s surrender, leaving him the only operational army in the East, and that with only about 31,000.
17 April, 1865: At a farm house, Sherman and Johnston meet to discuss terms of surrender. Johnston offers to surrender all Confederate armies still in the field, including Major General Edmund “Kirby” Smith’s army in the Trans-Mississippi.
18 April, 1865: Sherman and Johnston sign a peace treaty that went far beyond his mandate, touching on political issues like full rights restored to former Confederates. When the report of this reaches Washington, it sets off a firestorm in Congress and the Northern press. Sherman believed he was following President Lincoln’s orders. It is possible that he had not yet heard of Lincoln’s assassination and that Andrew Johnson is the new President.
24 April, 1865: Grant arrives at Raleigh with orders for Sherman. The treaty he and Johnston signed was null and void and that a new surrender accord, using the same terms that Grant Gave Lee, had to be agree to or Sherman had to resume the offensive within 48 hours.
25 April, 1865: Sherman and Johnston meet once again. Johnston is notified of Lincoln’s death and of Sherman’s orders to resume the offensive. They agree on a new accord, based on Grant’s terms to Lee; all troops are paroled and sent to their homes, officers to keep side arms, horses and mules that are claimed to be taken home. That afternoon Johnston formally surrenders to Sherman.
In over two months, Sherman had carried the war through the Carolina’s to a final surrender at Durham. This action removed a second Confederate army from the field. With the surrender of Major General Richard Taylor’s forces on 4 May and Kirby Smith’s on 2 June, the Confederate Army ceased to exist and the American Civil War came to an end.
The March to the Sea
Union: Major General William T. Sherman, commander of Union armies in the West.
Confederate: Brigadier General Joseph Wheeler commanding cavalry, Major General William Hardee commanding the Savannah Garrison, and Major General Howard Cobb commanding Georgia Reserves.
Prelude: Sherman holds Atlanta despite Lieutenant General John Hood’s attempts to force a Union withdrawal by wrecking the supply line stretching back to Chattanooga, TN. Hood will launch an invasion into Tennessee which will result in the destruction of his army at the Battles of Franklin (30 November) and Nashville (15-16 December).
Sherman has other ideas. After communicating with the Commander of all Union Armies, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, he decides to take a page out of Grant’s playbook. During the Vicksburg Campaign of 1863, Grant had cut off his supply lines and went overland to Jackson, MS and then to Vicksburg. His army lived off the farms along their route. That gamble paid off in giving the Union control of the Mississippi River.
Sherman knew he would have no trouble getting supplies but while on the march he would be out of communication with Grant. Grant would have no problem with that but Secretary of War Edwin Stanton would (he was what one today would call a control freak). President Lincoln would be assured of the abilities of Grant and Sherman to complete the task before them. Lincoln also had a mandate to take the war to its conclusion without any negotiations with the Confederacy due to his recent reelection on 8 November.
Sherman’s plan was simple, he would first destroy Atlanta’s usefulness as a rail center, then he would send his forces down four routes which would converge at Savannah. The troops were ordered to carry 20 days of rations and as much ammunition they would carry. Otherwise, they were to forage “liberally” off the farms along their route.
11 November, 1864: Over the protests of Atlanta city leaders, Sherman orders the city evacuated and burned to the ground. The rail yards, warehouses, and most other buildings, with the exception of churches and a couple of houses, are razed in an operation which is completed by the 15th. This is the first act in a legacy which still causes strong feelings in Georgians today.
16 November, 1864: With 62,000 infantry and cavalry under his command, Sherman orders the advance to begin. The two southern routes are covered by Major General Oliver Howard’s Army of the Tennessee, the two northernmost routes are covered by Major General Henry Slocum’s Army of Georgia, each covered by a cavalry corps under Major General Judson Kilpatrick.
First sign of resistance from the Confederates was militia at Lovejoy’s Station, south of Atlanta on the railroad to Macon. The militiamen were quickly driven off.
19 November, 1864: To face the Federal advance, Georgia Governor Brown issues a call for every able-bodied males to defend the state. There is no rush to join the militia.
20 November, 1864: Sherman runs into more resistance with skirmishes at Clinton, Walnut Creek, East Macon, and Griswoldville. Wheeler’s cavalry and local militia briefly slow the Union advance, but it seems there is no stopping Sherman.
22 November, 1864: Troops of XX Corps enter the state capital of Milledgeville to find that Georgia Legislature had fled the city. Some Union soldiers hold a mock session.
23 November, 1864: Union troops loot and burn Milledgeville. That same day, Hardee is ordered to command the small force available to him.
25 November, 1864: Slocum’s wing of the advance reaches Sandersville, about half way to Savannah.
Sherman’s army is now cutting a swath 60 miles wide through the state.
To help keep the army supplied with food, the Federals employed men called bummers. These men were masters at foraging food and animals from the local farms and towns. As the army prepared to start the day’s march, the bummer would go out on foot. In the evening, as the army settled into camps for the night, the bummer would return on a horse or mule, towing another horse, mule, or even a cow. The animals would be loaded down with grain, chickens, pigs, geese, ducks, and various vegetables. The food would go to the quartermaster (usually that became dinner), the mules would be used to pull supply wagons, and the horses would go to the cavalry as remounts or to officers who lost their mounts. This is how the army was resupplied and it was practically stripping the area bars.
For generations afterward it was told that Sherman’s army had stripped the land bare, leaving behind destruction in their wake. Railroads were broken by pulling off the rails and placing them on a fire that was set using the railroad crossties. The heated rails were then wrapped around the nearest pole or tree, rendering them unusable. These damaged rails became known as “Sherman’s neckties.” It was said that the area of destruction could be seen from space, but it seems that was not proven. In recent years, some historians advanced the idea that Sherman did not order the wholesale destruction throughout their route of march, but some overzealous Union soldiers, as well as the bummers, may have exceeded Sherman’s orders. Still, along the “Sherman’s neckties” were the chimneys of burned down farm houses, known as “Sherman’s toothpicks.”
Also taking place was the ever increasing amount of freed slaves accompanying the army. Sherman had no love for African-Americans and found the group a drag on his army and a drain on his supplies.
27 November, 1864: There is a cavalry clash at Waynesboro, south of Augusta. Wheeler is driven off and Sherman’s advance continues.
2 December, 1864: Sherman reaches Millen. There is a rail line directly into Savannah and his army begins to follow it. The four columns begin to converge.
4 December, 1864: Cavalry continue to clash at Waynesboro.
7 December, 1864: Sherman’s forces skirmish at Jenk’s Bridge, west of Savannah.
9 December, 1864: As Federal troops approach the area south of Savannah, they find that the rice fields are flooded in order to hamper their advance.
10 December, 1864: The bulk of Sherman’s army arrives outside of Savannah. Facing them are 18,000 Confederates under Hardee.
11 December, 1864: Sherman has Savannah surrounded except for the road to Charleston, SC. The next plan will be to take the forts guarding the city and to make contact with the US Navy blockade.
13 December, 1864: XV Corps regiments assault Fort McAllister, the main fort guarding Savannah, and successfully captures the position. Sherman makes contact with Admiral John Dahlgren and makes a report of his march to be sent to Grant. Sherman can also resupply his forces by way of cargo ships that were with the blockade.
18 December, 1864: Sherman sends a demand to Hardee for surrender. This is refused. What Sherman did not know was that Hardee was looking for a way to get his forces away. Hardee’s engineers were building a pontoon bridge and a road just for that purpose.
20 December, 1864: During the night, Hardee manages to get his forces on the march to Charleston with their artillery and supplies.
21 December, 1864: Upon finding that the confederates have left Savannah, Sherman orders his army to push in and occupy the town. As the Federals push in, the only CS Navy vessel in the harbor, CSS Savannah is destroyed to prevent capture. By evening, Savannah is in Federal hands.
22 December, 1864: Sherman sends a telegram to President Lincoln, ,” I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns, and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.”
The only thing that Sherman could not do was bag Hardee’s army, which would join up with the army that General Joe Johnston was assembling in South Carolina, which would be Sherman’s next operation.
The March to the Sea was proof that the nature of war had changed forever. No longer would it be just between armies in the field. Included in the list of legitimate military targets were industry and farms, even though they were manned by civilians. Sherman wanted the citizens of Georgia to feel “the heavy hand of war” and he accomplished that.
It would be February of 1865 before Sherman began another campaign, but this next operation would end at Durham Station, NC and the surrender of Johnston’s army.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Union: Major General John Pope, commanding the Army of Virginia.
Confederate: General Robert E. Lee, commanding the Army of Northern Virginia
Prelude: Two weeks previously, Lee, despite losing a couple of battles during the recent Seven Days campaign, had driven the Army of the Potomac, under Major General George McClellan, back to Harrison’s Landing where they were in the process of redeploying back to Washington City. Lee now had the time to rest and refit his army, which he had just taken command of just before the Seven Days.
In Washington, President Lincoln was, at the least, disappointed in the failure of McClellan to take the Confederate capital of Richmond, VA. It was decided to create another army in which to take on Lee. To accomplish this, the armies of Major Generals Irwin McDowell (who lost at First Manassas), Nathaniel Banks, and John Fremont, were combined into one command, to be named the Army of Virginia. It was these three armies that were defeated recently by a small Confederate army under Lieutenant General Thomas Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. This new army would be commanded by Pope, recently transferred from the Western Theatre.
Pope had just won a victory at Island No. 10 on 4 April, 1862, giving the Federals another step on the road to controlling the Mississippi River. He was brought East in the hopes that a Western fighting spirit would change fortunes in the East.
Pope also tended to be bombastic, boasting when he took command that he was from the West “where we are accustomed to seeing the backs of the enemy.” He also did not want to hear about “lines of retreat” or that his troops were “holding.” He also declared that his “headquarters will be in the saddle.” When word of that reached the Confederates, a general was known to have said, “he (Pope) has his headquarters where his hind quarters should be.” More than likely Lee and his commanders were not too impressed with Pope’s fighting abilities.
Pope also had a policy of harshness concerning captured Confederate guerillas and property. He shot the guerillas and seized the property. Lee called him “the miscreant Pope.”
14 July, 1862: Pope and his new army begin movement towards Gordonsville, VA in order to cut off the Shenandoah Valley from the rest of Virginia.
21 July, 1862: Lee orders Jackson to move his corps towards Gordonsville. This is purely a defensive action because McClellan was still a threat. Jackson’s 20,000 should be able to hold off Pope until McClellan’s intentions were known.
Pope was getting additions to his army, including the corps of Major Generals Franz Sigel, Fitz John Porter, Jesse Reno, and Joseph Hooker. These additions gave Pope around 62,000.
Pope ordered Banks’ cavalry detachment to seize Gordonsville, but they were repulsed after two attempts.
31 July, 1862: Confederate artillery units deliver 1000 shells into the Federal camp at Harrison’s Landing, killing only 10 Union troops.
1 August, 1862: Upon hearing of Pope’s orders concerning the harsh treatment of their citizens, the Confederate Government issued General Order 54, which stated that Pope and all of his officers were not to be entitled to prisoner-of-war status and that any Confederates that were hanged on Pope’s orders would be countered by an equal number of Federal prisoners being hanged.
2 August, 1862: Federal troops capture Orange Court House.
3 August, 1862: McClellan receives orders from Major General Henry Halleck to pull his army back to the Potomac, removing a major threat to Lee.
8 August, 1862: Jackson’s corps advances from Orange Court House and Gordonsville across the Rapidan River. He learns of an isolated Federal corps at nearby Cedar Mountain and prepares to meet the threat.
9 August, 1862: Battle of Cedar Mountain: Upon seeing the Confederate approach, Banks launches an attack on what he believes is a Confederate detachment. As the Confederate right flank is being turned, timely reinforcements in the form of a division under Major General A.P. Hill arrived and manages to turn the battle in Jackson’s favor. Pope rushes additional troops to the area, forcing Jackson to pull back across the Rapidan.
Lee decides to go fully after Pope since McClellan was no longer a factor. He orders the corps of Lieutenant General James Longstreet to join Jackson and take the battle to Pope. The Confederates reach the Rappahannock River and conduct skirmishes for the next two weeks.
Pope, seeing Lee in front of him, request reinforcements from McClellan. He also pulls back into Northern Virginia.
16 August, 1862: McClellan receives orders to join Pope. McClellan does not see the need to do so.
20 August, 1862: Federal and Confederate cavalry clash at Brandt Station as Lee begins to push his army across the Rappahannock. Pope receives word that reinforcements will arrive on 23 August.
22 August, 1862: Pope plans a flanking move to strike Lee, not knowing that Lee plans to do the same thing. That night, Confederate cavalry under Major General J.E.B. Stuart raids Pope’s headquarters, capturing several staff officers and, more importantly, Pope’s orders book, with all of his battle plans.
23 August, 1862: Any plans for either army to attack across the Rappahannock are halted by flooding. Lee decides on a very risky plan. Against every maxim of war that was taught at the time, Lee decides to split his army (in the face of a numerically superior force), using one corps (Longstreet’s) as a holding force and sending the other (Jackson’s) on a wide arc around the Federal right and hit Pope from the rear.
25 August, 1862: Jackson puts the first part of Lee’s plan into motion, moving his troops 53 miles in 36 hours, an amazing feat at the time. Pope receives a report from his cavalry concerning Jackson’s movement, but they undercount the full strength of Jackson’s force.
26 August, 1862: Jackson’s force reached Manassas Junction and discovered that Pope was using the place as his supply depot. His soldiers grab all the food, clothing, and other supplies they can before the remainder is torched. At the same time, Longstreet begins his part of the plan and begins moving to join Jackson.
27 August, 1862; Pope finally reacts to Jackson, sending Hooker’s forces to isolate Jackson. They meet confederate troops under Major General Richard Ewell at Kettle Run, and are driven back. A second engagement at Bull Run Bridge also results in a Federal repulse. That evening, Jackson conceals his forces in a wooded area and an unfinished railroad cut.
28 August, 1862: 6:00 p.m.: Jackson opens the Second Battle of Manassas by launching an attack on a lone Federal brigade at Brawner’s Farm. This particular brigade, made up of Western regiments, became known afterwards as the Iron Brigade for their stiff defense.
Pope saw this as a point on which to destroy Jackson, but would have to wait until the next morning to do so.
29 August, 1862: Pope orders his army to assault Jackson’s lines, stretching from Brawner’s Farm the Confederate right to Sudley Springs on the left. Throughout the day the Federals assault the Confederate line, briefly capturing part of the railroad cut before Hill’s division pushes them out. Pope then sends Porter’s corps to Jackson’s right, but the arrival of Longstreet and Lee prevent any further movement. Darkness halts fighting for the day.
30 August, 1862: Pope orders a continuation of the attacks on Jackson’s line. Jackson bears the brunt of the fighting while Longstreet seems to be waiting. He is arranging his artillery and infantry for a mass attack. Jackson knows that Longstreet is in the area but is concerned that no supporting attack has happened. Meanwhile, Jackson’s soldiers are running out of ammunition and at one point resort to throwing rocks at the Federals, repulsing them. Longstreet knows the risk of waiting, but his object was to let the Union troops exhaust them selves before attacking.
3:00 p.m.: Pope sends about 10,000 against Jackson’s right flank, exposing his own left.
3:30 p.m.: Longstreet launches his attack, smashing the Federal left. Jackson follows with a charge of his own and the Federal line breaks.
5:00 p.m.: Pope establishes a defensive line at Chinn Ridge, which lasts about an hour under assault by Longstreet. Pope orders a fall back to Henry House Hill, where another line holds the Confederates long enough to get his army across Bull Run and to Centerville, effectively ending the battle.
31 August, 1862: Rain halts further movements for a while but Jackson decides to push on.
1 September, 1862: There is a last battle at Ox Hill, near Chantilly as a Federal and a Confederate force, both headed for Fairfax, VA, meet. During the battle, Union Brigadier Generals Isaac Stevens and Philip Kearney are both killed.
Following the end of the campaign, President Lincoln ordered McClellan to take charge of the Washington Defenses.
Pope is relieved of command after submitting a report blaming everything but himself for the defeat. He is resigned to the Western frontier where his new job was to fight a Lakota uprising.
The Army of Virginia is folded into the Army of the Potomac.
Lee, embolden by the victory, takes his army into Maryland within days.
Monday, December 04, 2006
The Seven Days Battles
Union: Major General George McClellan, commanding the Army of the Potomac.
Confederate: General Robert E. Lee, commanding the Army of Northern Virginia.
Prelude: Since April of 1862, McClellan had moved his army in his usual glacial way. Instead of a straight in approach to the Confederate capital of Richmond, VA, he opted to move his troops by water to Fort Monroe, at the tip of a peninsula formed by the James River to the south, and the York River to the north. The first objective, the city of Yorktown, was taken after a month long siege, despite the fact that it was defended by only 10,000 Confederates. McClellan always believed that he was outnumbered, but he actually had a 10-to-1 superiority over Major General John Magruder’s defenders.
4 May, 1862: Magruder is ordered to pull back, leaving Yorktown to the Federals.
5 May, 1862: A Federal division under Brigadier General Joseph Hooker launches an attack on the Confederate rear guard at Williamsburg.
7 May, 1862: McClellan tries flanking maneuver by sending four divisions up the York River to Eltham’s Landing, where they are immediately hit by retreating Confederates in a battle that lasts for several hours.
9 May, 1862: As McClellan meets with President Lincoln about the operation, the Confederates abandon the Norfolk Navy Yard and begin an attempt to get the ironclad warship CSS Virginia to Richmond.
11 May, 1862: Because the vessel requires water deeper than the James to travel safely, it was decided to scuttle the pioneering ironclad warship rather than to let the Federals have it.
By 13 May, the mood in Richmond was one of panic. Civilians prepare to flee the city as the Confederate Government discusses their own evacuation.
15 May, 1862: A Federal attempt to assault Richmond by river is repulsed at Drewry’s Bluff, southeast of Richmond, at a fort manned by the former crew of the Virginia. The Union flotilla includes USS Monitor, the warship that engaged Virginia back on 9 March. At the same time, General Joseph Johnston, commanding the Confederate forces in Virginia, pulls his army across the Chickahominy River.
16 May, 1862: McClellan establishes his headquarters and supply point at White House Landing.
17 May 1862: Johnston arrives at Richmond and reports the situation to Confederate President Davis.
18 May 1862: Suffolk, VA falls to Union troops.
21 May, 1862: McClellan halts his advance, citing Confederate numerical superiority and requests additional troops. One thing that would complicate the deployment of any reinforcements is the presence of a Confederate army led by Lieutenant General Thomas Jackson in the Shenandoah River Valley.
25 May, 1862: McClellan receives an ultimatum from President Lincoln, either continue the advance or come to the defense of Washington.
27 May, 1862: The Confederates put up a strong defense at Hanover Court House, but are forced to continue the retreat. Federal units are within 10 miles of Richmond.
31 May, 1862: Johnston launches a massive attack at Fair Oaks. By noon, the Union forces are driven back to an area known as Seven Pines. At about 5:00 p.m. Johnston is seriously wounded.
Around that time, President Davis was touring the area with his military advisor, General Lee. Upon hearing of Johnston’s wounding, Lee is ordered to command the defense forces.
1 June, 1862: After taking command of the Confederate defense forces guarding Richmond, Lee begins planning to take the fight to McClellan.
Between 12 and 15 June, the Confederate cavalry arm, under Major General J.E.B. Stuart, rides around the Union force, gathering intelligence, attacking supply depots, and causing general havoc amongst the Federals.
It was also during this time that Lee designated his new command the Army of Northern Virginia. He also orders Jackson to bring his forces south and join him.
Meanwhile, McClellan’s army is split, with II Corps, under Major General Edwin Sumner, III Corps, under Major General Samuel Heintzelman, IV Corps, under Major General Erasmus Keyes, and VI Corps, under Major General William Franklin to the south of the Chickahominy. V Corps, under Major General Fitz John Porter, is north of the river.
McClellan still believes that he is outnumbered. In his reports that the Confederates have 200,000 men, but the truth was that Lee had less than half that, even with Jackson coming.
In any case, Lee is ready to attack.
26 June 1864: Battle of Mechanicsville: Lee’s plan is to hold the Federals south of the Chickahominy while launching a massive assault on Porter’s corps. The battle opens with Magruder’s division launching an attack on the main Federal force. Lee orders Major General A.P. Hill’s division (there were no corps in the Army of Northern Virginia yet) to attack the Porter with Jackson in support except for one problem, Jackson is about six hours late. Hill decides to attack anyway, driving back Porter’s units until getting stopped by Federal artillery. Another Confederate division, under Major General D.H. Hill (no relation) is also stopped by artillery fire. Despite the arrival of Jackson’s army about 5:00 p.m., Lee decides to halt the attack for the day.
McClellan hears about the attack and decides that despite Porter holding back the initial attack, he orders his army to start pulling back in order to save his supply base.
27 June, 1862: Battle of Gaines Mill: Lee puts A.P. Hill at the front of the next attack, which sustains enough causalities to end up getting pulled out of the fight. A second wave, consisting of the divisions of D.H. Hill, Major General Richard Ewell, Major General James Longstreet, as well as Jackson’s army pushes Porter across the Chickahominy and into the retreat with the rest of McClellan’s army.
28 June, 1862: McClellan orders the supplies at White House Landing destroyed rather than let them fall into Confederate hands.
29 June, 1862: Battle of Savage’s Station: McClellan decided to move his army south to Harrison’s Landing on the James. Any chance to take Richmond was lost when the order to retreat was issued. Lee pushes in the attack, sending in Magruder against Sumner’s II Corps and driving them back after two hours.
30 June, 1862: Battle of White Oak Swamp (Glendale, VA): Lee plans to send most of his forces to hit the Federals on their left flank while Jackson tries to hit their rear. Jackson is delayed when the bridge across the swamp was destroyed by retreating Federals. Lee launches his attack anyway, which is repulsed. That night, McClellan orders his army back to a high point in the area called Malvern Hill.
1 July, 1862: Battle of Malvern Hill: McClellan has placed his forces on top of Malvern Hill, supported by a massive artillery line commanded by Major General Henry Hunt. A.P. Hill advises against a frontal assault but Lee decides that this is the best way to drive the Federals off. He orders all of his troops to go into the attack, but due to lack of communication, Longstreet, A.P. Hill and Jackson are not involved. Instead, the divisions of D.H. Hill, Magruder, and Major General Benjamin Huger, are sent up the hill and into
a storm of shot and shell that Hunt’s guns unleashed on them. That artillery and a little help from the Union warships USS Mahaska and Galena held off the Confederates until sundown. That night, McClellan ordered his army to Harrison’s Landing, where they would wait for transports to take them away.
Lee removed the threat from Richmond and established himself as an able army commander. The Union would not get this close for another two years. McClellan, on the other hand, would lose the confidence of President Lincoln and would start down the road to his eventual removal from command.
Union: 15,849 out of over 100,000
Confederate: 20,141 out of about 80,000
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