Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Lincoln Assassination

Prelude: The Civil War will soon be at an end. The Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, surrendered at Appomattox Court House, VA on 9 April, 1865. The government of CS President Jefferson Davis had fled Richmond, VA and relocated to the small town of Danville. There is another Confederate army in the field, a scratch force of militia and the remains of the Army of Tennessee, under General Joseph Johnston. They are presently near the Raleigh-Durham, NC area, pursued by Major General William Sherman’s Western Federal Armies. Another army, under Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith, is operating in the Trans-Mississippi, but can be of no help. There also are a few independent commands like Colonel John Singleton Mosby’s Virginia Partisans and Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry, but they cannot sustain any offensive power for very long.

The mood in Washington D.C. is understandably jubilant. There had been cannon salutes and bells ringing in the city, as throughout the North. Plans were being made for Grand Review of the Union armies before a large number of soldiers were to be demobilized and sent back to civilian life. Politicians in Congress were preparing to wrangle over what policies were to be used in dealing with the states of the defeated Confederacy. The Radical Republicans wanted very harsh measure taken against those states, even considering measures to downgrade them to Territorial status. Moderates and a few Democrats wanted less harsh measures taken. The prospect on a massive political fight was brewing.

US President Abraham Lincoln had plans for his newly started second term. A major clue as to his intentions was in his Second Inaugural Address. “With malice toward none, and charity toward all” he signaled his intention to greet the South as long lost family members. His was looking at putting the Civil War behind and looking forward to the future. There were two problems to tackle; the integration of nearly 4,000,000 former African-American slaves into American society, and the restoration, or what some was calling reconstruction, of the former Confederate States back into the Union. Lincoln was sure that he would be able to get those problems settled.

Someone else had other ideas.

John Wilkes Booth was an actor. Actually he was from a family of actors, sort of like the Barrymore, the Douglas, and the Bridges families of the 20th Century. His father was Junius Brutus Booth and his brother was Edwin Booth, both renowned actors in their own right and was famous for portraying characters from Shakespeare. John was great for portraying villains. John (hereafter referred to as Booth) was a Marylander who supported the Confederacy and was disheartened to see its fall. Because of this, he had a deep hatred for Lincoln. It was an irony that Lincoln was a great fan of Booth’s, having attended many plays in which he starred.

As the Confederacy was falling, Booth had devised to kidnap the President and spirit him to Richmond, intending that Lincoln be used as a bargaining chip for a prisoner exchange and a negotiated settlement that would preserve the CSA.

To assist him, he gathered a gang of what had to be a gang of misfits in order to carry out his plan.

Lewis Powell (aka Lewis Payne)
George Atzerodt
David Herold
John Surratt
Edward Spangler

At times, the group would meet at the boarding house ran by Surratt’s mother, Mary. There they planed the kidnapping. One scheme was to grab Lincoln at the theatre and spirit him off. Another was to seize him as he took his customary evening carriage ride.

4 March, 1865: At President Lincoln’s Second Inauguration, Booth and his men were in the crowd and close enough to strike, but there was security in the form of Union troops there, so that could not go off.

17 March, 1865: There was attempt to kidnap Lincoln during a carriage ride, but he changes plans, going to the National Hotel, where by coincidence Booth was staying.

After the surrender, during the wild celebrations that were going on, a crowd appeared at the White House and called for the President to make a speech. Lincoln comes out onto the balcony and reads a few prepared. Those in the crowd expected a fiery message; instead, Lincoln was conciliatory towards the surrendering Southerners. He read his speech, and let the papers fall to the floor. Towards the end of the speech, the subject changed to the status of the freed African-Americans. Lincoln was putting forth plans for eventually granting the vote to African-American males.

In the crowd was Booth, who upon hearing this muttered, “That means n****r citizenship. By God, I’ll run him through!”

Booth had just decided to kill Lincoln.

Booth and his men not only began to plan the murder, but expanded the plan to include Vice-President Andrew Johnson, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, and Secretary of State William Seward. This would effectively decapitate the government and cause a Constitutional crisis over who would succeed Lincoln.

Booth learns that Lincoln will be attending the performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre on 14 April, Good Friday. He decides that the plan will be executed that evening.

14 April, 1865: 7:00 a.m. President Lincoln wakes that morning remembering a strange dream that he had earlier that week. He floats around the White House and hears sobbing. He enters a room draped in black and containing a coffin surrounded by soldiers. He asks a soldier who was in the coffin. The answer was, “The President, he was killed by an assassin.” He told his wife, Mary, as well as several Cabinet members of this. They were frightened of this but Lincoln laughed it off. He also mentioned the dream he had that past night, of being on a ship flying toward an indefinite shore. He had this dream before, usually before a great event. Perhaps he would soon hear from Sherman about Johnston’s surrender.

11:00 a.m.: Lincoln meets with General Grant. At the same time, he sends a messenger to Ford’s Theater confirming that he would be attending that evening. Booth could have possibly heard about this while at the theatre, where he regularly played. He had his mail delivered there and would have been at the theatre office when the message arrived. Sometime afterwards, he snuck to the Presidential box, bored a peephole in the door and fixed it so the door could be jammed open.

During this time, Lincoln extended an invitation to Grant and his wife, Julia to accompany the Lincoln’s to the theatre. Grant politely refuses, stating that he and Julia had tickets on the evening train to New Jersey, where the Grant’s rented a house.

Lincoln and Grant discussed the ongoing situation in North Carolina, as well as other plans to gat the remainder of the Confederate Armed Forces to lay down their arms. Another plan discussed was the reintroduction of civil government to the Southern States as soon as possible, knowing well that there would be a period of military administration but hoping that could be short.

As far as that administration was concerned, after the meeting, Grant and Lincoln met with the Cabinet in a three-hour session. It was decided that the various departments would resume operations in the South as soon as possible. It was also decided to divide the former Confederacy into districts and appoint military governors to oversee them for now. After Grant briefed the Cabinet on ongoing operations, the meeting adjourned.

3:00 p.m.: Lincoln decides to take a carriage ride with Mary. They discuss what to du when his time as President comes to an end. Of course, he wants to return to his old law practice in Springfield, IL. However, he would like to see Europe, Jerusalem, and California before settling home for good.

3:00 p.m.: At the Kirkwood house, where Vice-President Johnson receives a note that reads, “Don’t wish to disturb you. Are you at home? J. Wilkes Booth.”

Later on, Mary asks Clara Harris, the daughter of a New York Senator, and her fiancée, Major Henry Rathbone to accompany the Presidential party.

As the Lincoln’s were preparing to go to the theatre, his bodyguard, William Crook asked if he should accompany them, Lincoln refused, saying, ”You’ve had a long, hard day’s work and must go home.” As the Lincoln’s board the carriage, the President said, “Good-by,” which Crook thought unusual.

6:30 p.m.: Booth has supper at the National Hotel.

8:15 p.m.: The Presidential carriage departs the White House. The performance had just started.

8:30 p.m.: As the Presidential arrived at Ford’s Theatre, the conspirators were meeting at Herndon House, on the opposite side of the block from Ford’s. There, Booth would give out final instructions. At the same time he loads his weapon, a single-shot derringer. He also carries a knife.

After sending his accomplices to do their work, Booth goes to a stable, where he had rented a horse. From there, he rode to the alley behind the theatre, where he gives a stage hand a few coins and asks him to hold the horse.

As the Presidential party arrived in the box, the orchestra stopped their playing of the play’s music and launched into several courses of “Hail to the Chief.” The audience stood and cheered the President for a few minutes before settling down and the play resuming. The audience was having a good time watching the play. It was about an American frontiersman who visits his British cousins, one of which was played by the popular British actress Laure Keene.

9:30 p.m. Booth enters the theatre, checks how the play was progressing, then ducks out to the bar next door and has a drink. He does this several times. During one of those times, he is spotted by the ticket seller, John Buckingham, who is also having a drink, but it does not strike him as unusual.

10:00 p.m.: Booth reenters the theatre and heads to the Presidential Box. He notices that the policeman assigned to guard the door was not there, having gone downstairs to see the play. He looks through the peephole and waits for a line in the play that would generate the most laughter:

Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal---you sockdologizing old man-trap…

The audience roars with laughter, Booth quickly steps in the box, pulls out his derringer, points it inches from the back of Lincoln’s head, and pulls the trigger. The ball crashes through Lincoln’s head and lodged behind his right eye.

The shot is heard in the theatre, but is believed to be part of the play. Then they see a man jump from the Presidential Box to the stage. The man stumbles, then shouts, “sic simper tyrannis.” It means “thus always to tyrants” and coincidentally the motto of the State of Virginia. The man stumbles away. Then they hear a woman scream, “The President is shot1”
After shooting the President, Booth then grappled with Rathbone, slashing him with his knife. His jump to the stage resulted in a broken ankle. He stumbled through the stage door, into the alley, mounts his horse, and rides off into the night.

10:15: p.m.: Powell arrives at the Seward house. The Secretary of State is in bed recovering from a broken jaw suffered in a carriage accident. His head is encased in a steel brace that keeps him immobile. Powell forces his way into the house, pushes aside a secretary and runs upstairs, where he is confronted by Seward’s son, Frederick. After an exchange of words, Powell pulls out a knife and slashes Frederick. Then he pushes into Seward’s room and proceeds to attack him. Seward is stabbed in the cheek and neck several times, but the brace prevents fatal injury. Powell then runs out of the house, after slashing several others, and shouting, “I’m mad! I’m mad!” All of those injured would recover.

At the same time, Atzerodt was at the bar of the Kirkwood House having a few drinks in order to steel his nerve. His assignment was to knock on the door of Vice-President Johnson’s room and stab him in the chest when the door opened. Atzerodt gets cold feet and leaves the hotel, instead going to a tavern and getting drunk.

At ford’s theatre, two doctors, Army Surgeon Charles Leale and civilian doctor Charles Taft, quickly run to the President’s side and began checking out the wound. All of his experience treating bullet wounds served him well but told him one thing, the wound was mortal. It was decided to get Lincoln to a bed and make him comfortable. There was a boarding house, Peterson House, where a room was made available. Sever men assisted in carrying the President across the street and to the available room. The bed was too short for Lincoln’s very tall frame, so he had to be laid diagonally. Soon the Lincoln’s doctor, Robert Stone, and the US Surgeon General, Joseph Barnes arrived to attend him. Mary came in a few times and was very hysterical, and had to be restrained.

The news of the President’s shooting was quickly relayed by telegraph, so people in New York and Chicago woke up the next morning to that news. The same telegraph got news to Grant, who was having dinner with Julia in Philadelphia while waiting for the overnight train to Burlington, NJ. He completed the journey, then ordered an express train to get him back to Washington.

Panic swept the city as rumors ranging from Confederate holdout raiders to the entire government getting massacred. It actually would be up the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, to attempt to restore order.

15 April, 1865: Meanwhile, Booth and Harold join up and head to the house of Dr Samuel Mudd, a Confederate sympathizer who sets the broken ankle.

Throughout the night, Lincoln was attended by doctors, members of the Cabinet and other government officials as he struggled to stay alive. Several times Mary would enter the room, but would be taken out due to her constant hysterics. On one visit she cried, “Oh my God, and I have given my husband to die.”

6:00 a.m.: A doctor writes in his notebook: Pulse failing.

6: 25 a. m.: Another note: Chocking and grunting.

7:00 a.m.: Another note: Symptoms of Dissolution.

The family was brought in for the last time. Mary sobbed while the oldest son, Robert, also grieved.

7:22 a.m.: The 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, died. Stanton at that point said, “Now, he belongs to the angels.” This was later amended to “Now, he belongs to the ages.”

When the news of the president’s death was released, it fires brought grief, then anger to the North. The rumors began flying, people believed that this was done on the orders of Jeff Davis and that Confederate agents were swarming the city. Washington sat on the brink of anarchy. This could destroy the nation.

One bright spot came when it was made known that Vice-President Johnson was found to be safe. A military guard was quickly sent to Kirkwood House to protect him.

11:00 a.m.: Chief Justice Salmon Chase administers the Oath of Office to Andrew Johnson, who becomes the 17th President of the United States.

Meanwhile, Booth and Harold continue fleeing as they and the other conspirators are identified. As the manhunt begins, there is a $100,000 reward for booth’s capture.

19 April, 1865: The state funeral of Abraham Lincoln takes place. The city is draped in black bunting as the body lies on state at the White House. Later, it is moved to the Capitol rotunda for public display.

21 April, 1865: Lincoln’s body is placed on a special train for transport back to Springfield. The train will travel across the country, with funerals and public viewings in cities like Philadelphia, New York, Cleveland, and Chicago before arriving in Springfield on 3 May. After one last funeral, Lincoln is buried in 4 May, 1865.

Through all of this, Booth and Harold flee into Virginia, crossing the Potomac River on 22 April.

24 April, 1865: Booth and Harold arrive at the farm owned by a man named Richard Garrett. Using the alias James W. Boyd, Booth arranges the stay in the barn. That night, Federal cavalry came past, looking for Booth and Harold. Garrett manages to hold then off, but want Booth and Harold to leave. Booth talks him into one more night.

26 April, 1865: At 2:00 a.m., Federal cavalry once again approach the Garrett farm. The commander asks where Booth is, one of Garrett’s sons points to the barn. The troopers surround the barn and called for Booth to come out. Booth shouts, “Well, my brave boys, then you can prepare a stretcher for me.” Some hay was lighted and thrown at the barn, which began to burn.

Harold surrendered, but Booth was still holding out. Cavalry Sergeant Boston Corbett went to the back side of the barn. He saw Booth highlighted by the flames and, in violation of orders, shot him. Other troopers dragged Booth out of the barn, but it was obvious that he was dying. Corbett’s bullet had severed Booth’s spine.

As the day dawned, Booth asked to see his hands. He utters the words “Useless, useless.” then he died. It was his 27th birthday.

The conspirators were quickly rounded up, with some being placed in the Old Capital Prison while others were held on board an ironclad warship. Spangler was the first arrested, next was Arnold, then Paine and Mary Surratt were arrested. Next came Atzerodt, then Mudd (when Booth’s sliced boot was discovered), and finally another, Michael McLaughlin, all joining Harold in prison.

9 May, 1865: The trials of the conspirators began. This was conducted by the military, with Major General David Hunter as the presiding officer. Plenty of evidence was presented, but with the public uproar over the assassination, the court actually tried to prove that they were acting on orders from Jefferson Davis, who had just been captured near Irwinville, GA. In all, it was proven that they were just a bunch of misfits who were controlled by Booth. In the end, they were found guilty.

Paine, Atzerodt, Harold, and Mary Surratt (whose only crime was that she kept the boarding house where the meetings took place) were sentenced to death. The rest were sentenced to life imprisonment at Dry Tortugas Island, off Key West, FL. Mc Laughlin died in prison, Mudd is pardoned in 1868, and Spangler and Arnold are pardoned in 1869.

7 July, 1865: The four condemned prisoners are hanged at Old Capital Prison.

This put an end to what had to be the most horrific event that marred the end the Union victory in the American Civil War.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Forrest’s 1864 Raids.

Dates: 16 March to 5 November, 1864


Union: Major Generals Samuel Sturgis and Andrew Smith, each commanding Union formations sent to find Forrest.

Confederate: Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, command an independent force of cavalry.

Prelude: Things in the Deep South were not settled as far as the Federals were concerned. Despite Union successes in the area, the Confederacy was not ready to give up just yet. There was not a major army in the immediate area; the Army of Tennessee was in Georgia, and soon be facing Major General William Sherman’s thrust into the state. The next closest army was in Arkansas and would not be of any help. The only creditable Confederate force was Forrest’s independent cavalry command, and he was about to make his presence known.

16 March, 1864: Forrest and his troopers depart Okolona, MS and began his raids.

Forrest rides north into Tennessee, cutting straight through until almost reaching the Kentucky line.

24 March, 1864: Forrest launched a surprise attack on the Union garrison at Union City, capturing the force of 500 troops and seizing 300 horses for his trooper’s use.

With those fresh horses, Forrest then punches into Kentucky.

25 March, 1864: A quick ride brings Forrest to Paducah, KY, on the Ohio River. First, he demands the surrender of nearby Fort Anderson, next, when that demand was refused, he orders the fort assaulted. After two unsuccessful tries, Forrest decides to head back to Tennessee.

With Confederate troops at the Ohio River, a general sense of panic erupted amongst the locals. Federal cavalry unite are assembled and ordered to meet the threat that Forrest represents.

30 March, 1864: One such Federal cavalry unit meets Forrest at Bolivar, TN. They quickly retreat to Memphis.

As April began, Forrest conducted raids on Union communication and supply lines and evading Federal patrols. Soon he would take the offensive once more on Federal garrisons.

12 April, 1864: Battle of Fort Pillow: Fort Pillow, on the Mississippi River, had been a Union garrison since 1862. At this point in the war, the garrison consisted of 557 Federal troops, made up of Tennessee Unionists and locally recruited former African-American slaves. Forrest went with his usual method of operation and demanded the surrender of the garrison. When that was refused, he ordered the fort assaulted. When he learned about the composition of the garrison, it must have angered Forrest greatly. The very thought of “slaves” opposing him must have been appalling. His attitude was due to the fact that one of his pre-war occupations was a slave dealer. In any case Forrest ordered a massed assault, which quickly overwhelms the fort. Afterwards, according to some accounts, many of the African-Americans were killed after surrendering. Total Union losses were 231 dead, 100 wounded, and 226 captured. Forrest loses 14dead and 86 wounded.

What was called the “Massacre at Fort Pillow” made great press in the North as well as resulting in a Congressional hearing on the battle. The charges of atrocities committed were denied by Forrest, who claimed that some Union troops kept fighting after their commander surrendered.

Forrest continued his raiding. He heads back into Kentucky.

13 April, 1864: Forrest’s troopers raid Columbus, KY.

14 April, 1864: This day sees Forrest’s forces skirmishing at Paducah, KY.

Sherman, in his new capacity as Commander of Union Armies in the West, decides that something needs to be done about Forrest. All of the supply lines that he needed for the push into Georgia would be in danger if Forrest was able to run unchecked. Sherman orders Sturgis to take a force into Mississippi in order to draw out Forrest.

1 June, 1864: Sturgis, with a force of 8100, departs Memphis and heads southeast, hoping to pursue Forrest.

Forrest was actually in Alabama preparing to raid Sherman’s supply lines. When news of the new Federal force was known, he was ordered to go back into Mississippi.

7 June, 1864: Sturgis engages a small Confederate force at Ripley, MS, driving them off. His cavalry, under Brigadier General Benjamin Grierson, pushes on to a junction known as Brice’s Crossroads.

10 June, 1864: Battle of Brice’s Crossroads: Forrest, trying to intercept Sturgis, does intercept Grierson’s cavalry at the crossroads. Forrest orders his troopers into the attack. The first assault was repulsed by Federals using revolving rifles. A second assault pushes the Union troops back to the crossroads itself. Five miles away, Sturgis’ main force was alerted to the fighting and began double timing to the sound of the guns. Despite the hot weather and muddy roads from recent rains, the infantry reach the crossroads. The form a line to meet Forrest’s attack, but the Union cavalry did not rally. Forrest took advantage of the exposed Federal flanks to launch several attacks over the next three hours. Finally the Federals had to withdraw, leaving Forrest in possession of the crossroads. As the Union troops fled, the Confederates pursued then until 12 June. Sturgis returns to Memphis with the remainder of his army. He lost 2235 troops to Forrest’s 492.

It was time to go back to the drawing board, Sherman decided on a larger force, this time about 14,000 and orders Smith to go after Forrest.

5 July, 1864: Smith and his forces depart La Grange, TN and head south into Mississippi.

7 July, 1864: Smith’s cavalry engages Confederates at Ripley in a small skirmish.

Forrest decided that he needed additional troops and ordered Major General Stephen D. Lee to join him at Okolona. At the same time, Smith was headed to Tupelo, north of Okolona.

13 July, 1864: As Smith approaches Tupelo, Forrest launches two attacks that are repulsed. Forrest decided to pull back and attack the next day.

14 July, 1864: Battle of Tupelo: Forrest launches attack after attack in the hopes of breaking the Federal line. Despite all of that, the Union troops hold firm and Forrest has to withdraw. Even so, he still has a formidable force in the field. Smith, on the other hand, despite the victory, has to withdraw due to the lack of supplies. Smith’s losses at Tupelo are 674 while Forrest lost 996. Forrest himself was wounded.

Smith orders his troops back to Tennessee.

Forrest stands his forces down for rest and refit. It would be a while before he would go back to the field.

18 August, 1864: At Oxford, MS, Forrest gathers his troops together and launches another raid.

They head west to the main rail line to Memphis and follow that to Hernando.

21 August, 1864: Forrest launched a pre-dawn raid into Memphis itself, almost capturing two Federal generals. The Confederates occupied part of the city briefly before responding Union troops managed to drive him off.

Once again, Forrest vanishes, leaving the Federals with egg on their faces. However, this would not be the last word from the Confederates.

29 October, 1864: Forrest goes out on another raid, this time to Fort Heiman, on the Tennessee River. He used his artillery to engage Federal steamboats, managing to capture two. He puts the vessels to good use, disrupting shipping along the river.

2 November, 1864: Forrest loses half of his “navy” when one of his vessels, the Venus, is driven ashore near Johnsonville.

4 November, 1864: The other vessel, the Undine, is burned to avoid recapture. Forrest orders his artillery dragged to riverbank opposite Johnsonville. He then proceeds to shell the town and the steamboats tied to the docks. This destroys a major Union supply center, several steamboats, and about $6,700,000 worth of material for the Union war effort. Satisfied with the destruction he had brought, Forrest then headed into Alabama, where he would join the Army of Tennessee in the ill-fated Tennessee Campaign (the one that ended with the destruction of that army at Nashville).

After that campaign, Forrest would operate in Alabama and Georgia before surrendering in 1865.

His black marks in history would be the Massacre at Fort Pillow as well as becoming one of the early leaders of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization made up of ex-Confederates aimed at suppressing the newly granted rights given to African-Americans. To his credit, Forrest did regret the KKK membership before his death in 1877.

Get there first with the most men.
----Forrest’s military philosophy.

Florida, 1864

Dates: 5-20 February, 1864


Union: Brigadier General Truman Seymour, commanding Federal forces in Florida.

Confederate: Brigadier General Joseph Finnegan, commanding Confederate forces in Florida.

Prelude: This is not a widely read part of Civil War history. As a matter of fact, except for Fort Pickens, near Pensacola, and some islands such as the Dry Tortugas and the Keys, Florida did not figure too much in Union plans for overall victory. However, supplies and troops have flowed north. It became important to halt that flow, as well as giving support to Unionists living in Florida.

The plan agrees upon was to take Jacksonville and set up a base there. From there they would advance west, possibly as far as Pensacola.

5 February, 1864: Seymour and 6000 troops depart Port Royal, SC on troop transports.

7 February, 1864: The Federal flotilla, supported by gunboats commanded by Rear Admiral John Dahlgren, reaches Jacksonville. The city is occupied immediately.

Seymour decided to send out cavalry in order to check out the area and see how the Confederates have set up their defenses.

8 February, 1864: Colonel Guy Henry leads a detachment of cavalry west from Jacksonville to Baldwin, where they engage local Confederate troops in a major skirmish.

10 February, 1864: Following the engagement at Baldwin, the Federals cross the St Mary’s River and pressed on towards Lake City.

11 February, 1864: While approaching Lake City, Henry runs into a force of 600 Confederates. Despite outnumbering the defenders, Henry orders a withdrawal to Barber’s Crossing, on the St Mary’s River.

Now that the Federal invasion was in earnest, a defensive force of 4600 infantry, 600 cavalry and 12 cannon were assembled and placed under Finnegan’s command. He decided to march east and attempt to drive out Seymour from Jacksonville.

At the same time, a proclamation was released by the Federals announcing that Florida was now Federal territory. It does not go down too well with the locals.

13 February, 1864: Seymour marches his army west towards the Suwanee River in order to reinforce Henry and to take out some bridges. Finnegan has his forces dig in near the town of Olustree.

At the same time, a small Union cavalry force raided Gainesville, southwest of Jacksonville.

20 February, 1864: Battle of Olustree: Seymour had received orders not to leave Barber’s Crossing, but decided to push on ahead with 5500 troops. Marching 18 miles from the crossing, the Confederates spot the three Federal columns and proceeded to attack. Seymour immediately ordered his forced into Line of Battle formation. Fierce fighting erupted as close as 250 yards. As the Federals were forming up their lines, the 7th NH, recently reinforced with recruits and draftees, broke and ran. This led to a general panic among the Union soldiers, with a few exceptions.

As the Federals were fleeing, Finnegan orders all of his troops at attack. Time was needed for the Federals to gat away. Two regiments, the 8th United States Colored Troops and the 54th MA, both African-American units, kept up a high volume of fire and risking certain death if captured. The Confederate had standing orders to enslave captured Black troops and execute the White officers commanding them. Knowing this, both units bought time for Seymour.

At dusk, Seymour orders his forces back to Barber’s Crossing.

The 8th USCT lost 300 of the 500 troops that they had at the start of the day. The 54th MA, already having been decimated at the Battle of Battery Wagner, Charleston, SC in July of 1863, further secured its honor with the blood of its members. This hammered at the prevailing attitude that Blacks would not make good soldiers, proving it wrong with each volley those two regiments sent.

Seymour would be reassigned to command a brigade in the Army of the Potomac. He was captured at the Battle of the Wilderness. Following a prisoner exchange in August, 1864, he serve in the Siege of Petersburg, VA and the Appomattox Campaign. He remained in the US Army until 1876 and moved to Florence, Italy, where he died in 1891.

Finnegan would be reassigned to the Army of Northern Virginia and given command of the Florida Brigade. He was soon ordered back to Florida. After the war, he was a state legislator and was in the cotton trade for a while. He died in 1885.

The main result of all this was that while the flow of supplies to the Confederate Army was curtailed, most of Florida would remain Confederate territory until the end of the war.

Mississippi, 1864

Dates: 3 February to 6 March, 1864


Union: Major General William Sherman, commanding the Army of the Tennessee and Brigadier General William Sooey Smith, commanding the Cavalry Division of the Department of the Mississippi.

Confederate: Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk, commanding the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana and Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, command the cavalry corps in the same department.

Prelude: Sherman had devised a plan to destroy railroads and property in the Deep South, hampering an already dwindling capacity for the Confederacy to ship supplies and troops between the Western and Eastern theatres. It was also a goal of the Federals to seize Mobile, AL, one of the few remaining active ports available to the Confederacy. Another goal would have been to concentrate Federal striking power in order to advance deeper into the South, with Georgia as the target.

The Confederates, on the other hand, would like to delay, or even stop further Union advances into the region.

Sherman’s plan was to advance to Meridian, MS, and cut the Mobile and Ohio rail line. In the process, the Federals would capture and destroy as much material that could be of any use to the enemy. Meridian could also be used as a springboard to attack mobile. To that end, Sherman ordered Smith to meet him at Meridian.

3 February, 1864: Sherman and 20,000 soldiers leave Vicksburg, MS and head east to the state capital of Jackson.

Polk has about 20,000 available to him, but they are dispersed. It would take time to concentrate them. There is some fighting along the road to Jackson, but the Confederate defense does dot hold the Federals for very long.

5 February, 1864: Sherman enters Jackson and occupies the city for the third time in nine months.

Polk orders reinforcements from Mobile and then orders a defensive line built at Morton, on the rail line between Jackson and Meridian.

7 February, 1864: Sherman’s troops depart Jackson and head east for Meridian.

Meanwhile, Smith, who should have been raiding into Mississippi, has not even left Tennessee yet, due to floods that hampered him from concentrating his cavalry. This would put a damper in Sherman’s plans, although Sherman had no way of knowing yet.

8 February, 1864: As Sherman’s army continues their advance, Polk decides to withdraw to Meridian itself. The Union forces reach Morton.

However, the Confederates were not retreating without a fight, there is skirmishing alone the route of advance, especially at Decatur, hoping to slow Sherman down.

11 February, 1864: Smith finally leaves Memphis and heads south into Mississippi, a week later than planned.

14 February, 1864: Polk sees that he can not hold back Sherman and orders his troops to withdraw. They head into Alabama, not stopping until reaching Demopolis.

Polk is effectively out of the fight.

Later that day, Sherman’s forces arrive at Meridian. He orders the destruction of the rail station as well as hotels, hospitals, warehouses and all other property that the Confederates could still use. Then he orders his army to make camp while he waits for Smith to arrive.

16 February, 1864: Smith’s cavalry crosses the Tallahatchie River, heading southeast for Okolona. There is some skirmishing, but no serious Confederate resistance. Smith turns south on the road that would take him to Meridian.

Meanwhile, in Meridian, Sherman had deployed 10,000 as a blocking force in case Polk decides to do anything, while the rest of his army tore up some railroads. Still there is no sign of Smith and the cavalry.

20 February, 1864: Sherman decides that he can no longer wait for Smith to arrive and orders his army to march back to Vicksburg. Any further advance east would have to wait for now.

21 February, 1864: Smith’s cavalry reaches West Point, where they find Forrest’s cavalry dug in. Smith orders an assault, which drives the Confederates through the town itself, then something extraordinary happened. Smith loses his nerve, thinking that the Confederates were there in overwhelming numbers. Actually, he was facing part of one regiment and Forrest’s escort. Smith orders a withdrawal back to Okolona. Forrest orders his troopers to join him and begin a pursuit of the Federals.

22 February, 1864: As Sherman’s army march to the west, he orders his small detachment of cavalry, under Colonel Edward Winslow, to ride north and find out where Smith was.

At the same time, Smith was fighting a rearguard action against Forrest, who has all of his cavalry, about 2500, in hot pursuit. Despite valiant action be units such as the 4th MO Cavalry, Forrest could not be held back and Smith begins a retreat back to Memphis, losing some of his cannon in the process.

25 February, 1864: Winslow rejoins Sherman at Canton, near Vicksburg, and reports that he failed to locate Smith.

26 February, 1864: Sherman’s army arrives back at Vicksburg.

27 February, 1864: Smith’s cavalry arrives back at Memphis.

Smith would resign his commission on 15 July, 1864, citing ill health and returned to his pre-war occupation of engineering.

Sherman would have to go back to the drawing board.

During this time there was another operation worth mentioning.

1 February, 1864: An expedition under the command of Colonel J.H. Coates departs Vicksburg and heads north up the Yazoo River to Yazoo City.

5 March, 1864: Confederate troops, under the command of Brigadier General Lawrence Ross engage Coates’ forces near Yazoo Coty.

6 March, 1864: Coates orders hit troops back to Vicksburg.

The Federals are held for now, but that is only a temporary situation.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Virginia, 1863

Dates: 9 October to 26 November, 1863


Union: Major General George Meade commanding the Army of the Potomac.

Confederate: General Robert E. Lee commanding the Army of Northern Virginia.

Prelude: Since the Battle of Gettysburg, back in July, both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia had not been doing much more than skirmishing along the Rapidan River. Each commander had been looking for some type of advantage that could be exploited.

Lee was hampered by the reassignment of Lieutenant General James Longstreet and his corps to General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee, presently defending Chattanooga, TN.

On the other hand, Meade had sent two of his own corps to the same theatre of operations.

Lee decided to strike.

10 October, 1863: Lee sends his forces around Meade’s right flank, crossing the Rapidan and driving the Federals back.

12 October, 1863: A Confederate division, under Lieutenant General Richard Ewell, crosses the Rappahannock River at Fauquier White Sulphur Springs, and advances toward the northeast. The axis of Lee’s advance is Manassas junction, scene of two previous battles.

Meade continues to pull back but there is some fight in them.

13 October, 1863: Battle of Auburn: Lee sent his cavalry, under Major General J.E.B. Stuart ahead to scout the best routes for advance and to give support to Ewell. At Auburn, the cavalry was cut off and surrounded, forcing Stuart to force his way out of the area in order to avoid capture.

14 October, 1863: Battle of Bristoe Station: Another Confederate corps, commanded by Lieutenant General A.P. Hill saw an opportunity to cut off Major General George Sykes V Corps as well as capture a station on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Hill launched his assault with the aim of splitting the Federal line. As the attack was in progress, out of a railroad cut appeared Major General Gouverneur Warren’s II Corps. Warren proceeds to send a heavy fire into Hill, forcing the Confederates to pull back. For his efforts, Hill lost 1200 soldiers while inflicting 380 causalities on the Union forces.

15 October, 1863: Meade finds a good defensive line and completes his retreat. Lee, finding the Federals in strong positions, decided to pull back himself, ordering the railroad torn up in the process in order to dent the Federals its further use.

20 October, 1863: As the Army of Northern Virginia heads back across the Rappahannock, Stuart took an opportunity to ambush some Federal cavalry near Buckland. The Union troopers fled and the resulting chase became known as “The Buckland Races.”

Meade decided to pursue Lee, hoping for e decisive strike on the Confederate forces.

7 November, 1863: Meade went on the offensive and hit Lee in two places:

Battle of Kelly’s Ford: III Corps, under Major General Samuel French, forced their way across the Rappahannock using a pontoon bridge. This results in the capture of two Confederate regiments and driving off the rest.

Battle of Rappahannock Station: Southwest of Kelly’s Ford, V and VI Corps make a frontal assault on Major General Jubal Early’s division, forcing them across the Rappahannock and capturing two of the Confederate brigades.

Lee pulled his army back from the Rappahannock and found a good defensive position between there and the Rapidan. Meade begins a series of probes in the area as snow began to fall. It would soon be time for go into winter encampment, so if Meade wanted to strike a blow on Lee, it needed to be done soon.

27 November, 1863: Battle of Mine Run: Lee established a defensive line along a stream called Mine Run. Meade was probing for a way to bypass Lee and maybe strike at the Confederate capital of Richmond. At Payne’s Farm, the two meet. Meade attempts to punch his way though the Confederates before Lee could concentrate his army. The next day, a way is found around the Confederate’s left flank that could be turned to the Federals advantage. An assault is planned for 30 November, but is cancelled before it began when Lee reinforced the area.

1 December, 1863: Meade orders his army back across the Rappahannock and into winter quarters. Lee orders the same as soon as the Federal threat has gone.

This campaign did little to accomplish anything. Lee tried to push the Army of the Potomac at least past Manassas, but was not able to do so. Meade saw a chance to push for Richmond, but still saw Lee as too strong to push aside.

Both armies were in camps for the winter, it would be spring before anyone would take the offensive in Virginia.

Knoxville, TN, 1863

Dates: 2 September to 4 December, 1863


Union: Major General Ambrose Burnside, commanding the Department of the Ohio.

Confederate: General Braxton Bragg, commanding the Army of Tennessee, and Lieutenant General James Longstreet, on temporary assignment from the Army of Northern Virginia and commanding a corps in the Army of Tennessee.

Prelude: At this time, Bragg is holding the city of Chattanooga, TN from a determined Federal advance. While one Federal army is keeping Bragg occupied, there is another one out there. Burnside commands another army in his capacity as commander of the Department of the Ohio. His objective is the mountainous region of East Tennessee, with its mountain passes and a major rail line linking Chattanooga and the East. The region was garrisoned by troops under Major General Simon Bolivar Buckner, the officer who was left holding the bag at Fort Donelson. The area itself was actually a hotbed of Unionist sympathizers. The area became an objective that the Union had to accomplish in order to secure Tennessee.

16 August, 1863: Burnside departs Lexington, KY as part of a two prong movement toward Chattanooga. His first objective is the rail junction at Knoxville.

At the same time, Major General William Rosecrans and his Army of the Cumberland was advancing on Chattanooga, reaching the Tennessee River west of the city on 21 August.

Bragg, in Chattanooga, orders Buckner to come to his aid with all the troops he could gather. Buckner obeys, stripping the garrison. Knoxville was open for the taking.

2 September, 1863: Burnside enters Knoxville virtually unopposed. This action severs another east-west rail connection for the Confederacy, mainly the direct line from Chattanooga to Virginia, used for moving troops and supplies. This also gives Burnside a base in which he could mount operations throughout East Tennessee.

Burnside now sits in a position that could not be ignored. However, Bragg had other things to think about; he believes that he will be attacked from up river, but Rosecrans is coming in from the west. Bragg had a plan to put himself between Rosecrans and Chattanooga, but Rosecrans guessed his intentions and outmaneuvered Bragg. Bragg orders Chattanooga evacuated on 6 September, with Rosecrans following. Bragg’s quick turnaround on Northern Georgia would result in the Battle of Chickamauga, which resulted in Rosecrans being driven back to Chattanooga and ending up under siege.

Burnside was not idle while all this was going on.
9 September, 1863: Burnside sends troops north to Cumberland Gap, where they quickly force the surrender of the Confederate garrison there.

Buoyed by that success, and the timely arrival of two corps assigned to him, Burnside sends other detachments throughout East Tennessee, securing an area from Loudon in the west to Jonesboro in the east. This situation could no longer be afforded to be ignored by Bragg.

Now secure in his siege lines, Bragg assigns Longstreet the task of driving Burnside out of the area and secure the rail link to Virginia.

4 November, 1863: Longstreet’s corps and cavalry under Brigadier General Joseph Wheeler depart Chattanooga and head for Knoxville.

Bragg believes that Longstreet was attached to his command for the purpose of replacing him. He was very unpopular amongst his senior commanders, whom he blamed every time there was a defeat. The only thing keeping him in command was that he was friends with CS President Jefferson Davis. Soon, Bragg would be heavily occupied with other things as Federal troops were assembling for the operation that would lift the siege.

Longstreet moved his troops north through Cleveland, Charleston, Calhoun, and Athens, where his column splits. One group marched to Sweetwater, then Philadelphia, and finally Loudon. The other group marched to Maryville, where they had a straight route north to Knoxville.

6 November, 1863: Burnside is informed of Longstreet’s movements and orders his forces into defensive positions around Knoxville. This maneuver will be completed on 18 November.

Knoxville sits on the north bank of the Holston River with wooded areas around the rest of the city. Burnside was able to anchor his lines on the river. He also had the advantage of Fort Sanders, on the west side of the lines, as a strongpoint. With enough supplies and river access, Burnside could wait.

18 November, 1863: As Burnside sets his defense lines around Knoxville, Longstreet arrives. He tried to at least cut off the Federal rear guard, but failed.

The first thing Longstreet considered was a siege, but he did not have the heavy artillery needed for battering down defensive ramparts. He also did not have the numbers needed for such a siege. Longstreet sent word to Bragg requesting reinforcements and waited a week before realizing that they were not coming. Finally, he decides on a frontal assault.

29 November, 1863: Battle of Knoxville: Longstreet launches his assault in Fort Sanders, hoping to break the Union line and use the fort to cover other attacks on the line. He sends his two divisions, under Major Generals Lafayette McLaws and Albert Jenkins. The fort itself holds 400 Federals, four 20-pound Parrotts, six Napoleons, and two 3-inch Ordnance Rifles, a lot of artillery to defend the area around the fort.

As the Confederates came in with bayonets fixed, they are entangled in the obstacles that Burnside ordered placed there in order to slow down the charge, allowing rifle and cannon fire to decimate Longstreet’s forces.

Three color bearers, from the 13th and 17th MS and the 16th GA, managed to plant their flags on top on the fort’s walls, but are soon killed. Longstreet realizes that there was no further point to the attack and ordered a pull back.

The Confederates lost 813 in the attack, while the Federals only lost 100.

Longstreet decided to wait and see if those reinforcement would arrive. Sadly for him, two complications came up; Bragg was defeated at the Battle of Missionary Ridge and was marching into Georgia. This allowed the commander of Union forces in the west, Major General Ulysses S. Grant, to send an army, this one under Major General William Sherman, to relieve Burnside. Seeing what was coming, Longstreet decided that the best thing to do was to pull out entirely.

4 December, 1863: Longstreet pulls out of the Knoxville area and heads southeast. Federal troops begin a pursuit. The Confederates march to Rogersville, where they rest before attacking a Union cavalry detachment near Bean’s Station on 14 December, forcing a Federal withdrawal.

Afterwards, Longstreet orders his troops into winter quarters.

Burnside would be relieved of command, at his request, after Sherman’s army arrived at Knoxville.

Bragg tried to gat all of his senior commanders fired, but it is he who will soon be relieved of his army.

Longstreet would be reunited with the Army of Northern Virginia in time for the Union’s Overland Campaign in Spring, 1864.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Iuka, MS

Date: 19 September, 1862


Union: Major General William Rosecrans, commanding the Army of the Mississippi.

Confederate: Major General Sterling Price, commanding the Army of the West.

Prelude: This was an opportunity for the Confederates to gain some ground while everyone was occupied with General Braxton Bragg’s Kentucky invasion. The hope here was that a better defense against the Union advance could be maintained. If the Federals could be stopped, then a counteroffensive could be launched into Tennessee, and maybe even Western Kentucky.

14 September, 1862: Price takes 14000 and seizes Iuka.

The sudden appearance of a Confederate force that could cause trouble forced Major General Ulysses S. Grant to change some of his plans. He was planning to send reinforcements to assist Major General Don Carlos Buell’s efforts against Bragg. Instead, Grant devises a plan to take Price out. The army would be split in two; one group, led by Rosecrans, would swing south, and then head north east to strike Iuka. Grant would come from the north and northwest. This would place Price in a vise.

Iuka itself sits on a rail line 30 miles east of the town of Corinth, already in Union hands since 30 May. Federal possession of the rail line could help in operations into Alabama and beyond. Another advantage for the Federals would be that no other Confederate operations would interfere with future Union operations along the Mississippi River, especially the future campaign against Vicksburg.

19 September, 1862: In the afternoon, Rosecrans begins his approach to Iuka. At about 2:30 p.m., Confederate scouts spot the Union forces and quickly gets a message to Price. He orders the division of Brigadier General Lewis Henry Little to deploy and engage Rosecrans.

Little places his three brigades in a line southwest of the town, with artillery covering his flanks. Rosecrans places his two divisions in a line to meet Little, with heavy artillery support and cavalry covering the Union right flank. The artillery pounds the approaching Confederates.

4:00 p.m.: The center Confederate division launches an assault on the Union center, which was supported by a forward artillery battery. A seesaw battle over the possession of the battery ensues.

5:00 p.m.: A second Confederate brigade launches an assault on the Federal left, collapsing it and allowing the Federal battery to be seized. During this action Little is killed.

6:00 p.m.: The Federal left rallies and counterattacks, recapturing the battery. Until darkness falls, the battery changes hands several times.

As darkness falls, the fighting ends. At this point, Price receives word of the second Federal force coming from the north. He orders an immediate withdraw to the south, which is accomplished during the night.

20 September, 1862: Rosecrans orders an assault into Iuka, only to find the Confederates left during the night. A pursuit is ordered.

Price had marched south to the town of Baldwyn, where he receives a message from the new Confederate commander in Mississippi and East Louisiana, Lieutenant General Earl Van Dorn, ordering him to Ripley, where they will plan the next phase.

Iuka cost Price 535 causalities, mostly in Little’s brigade. Rosecrans lost 790.

Corinth, MS

Dates: 3-4 October, 1862


Union: Major General William Rosecrans, commanding the Army of the Mississippi.

Confederate: Lieutenant General Earl Van Dorn, commanding the Confederate Military District of Mississippi and East Louisiana.

Prelude: Van Dorn had arrived at Ripley as commander of the district. He was appointed to the position by CS President Jefferson Davis without consulting General Braxton Bragg, presently attempting an invasion of Kentucky.

Van Dorn sent a message to Major General Sterling Price, at the time marching from Iuka, MS, to join him at Ripley. Price’s troops would be needed for a new offensive, this time against the Union forces at Corinth. Possession of the rail cross roads would possibly cause the Federals to loosen their grip on Northern Mississippi and even Western Tennessee. If Van Dorn loses, however, central Mississippi would be open for Federal invasion.

28 September, 1862: Van Dorn’s and Price’s forces unite at Ripley, where Van Dorn takes overall command. The combined army of 20,000 men begins to march north until they cross the line into Tennessee. Then they turn east and stop at Chewalla, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad about 15 miles from Corinth. The Confederates arrive at Chewalla on 2 October.

Meanwhile, upon hearing of the Confederate’s movements, Major General Ulysses S. Grant decides to move some of his troops to Jackson, TN to protect the rail junction. Rosecrans was ordered to keep Corinth secure with 23,000 soldiers.

3 October, 1862: Dawn: Van Dorn approaches from the northwest and begins skirmishing with the Federal picket line. The Union troops fall back across Cane Creek to the Union defensive.

Rosecrans had established a series of redoubts to the west and north of Corinth, it seems that Van Dorn’s maneuver was anticipated. Still the Confederates were determined to crack those defenses.

Noon: Van Dorn sends two divisions, under Price to hit the Union right flank. This results in the Federal line collapsing towards Corinth. A secondary line is prepared to meet the attacking Confederates.

1:30 p.m.: As the Confederate attack pressed forward, the Federals were driven back, but were able to inflict heavy causalities as they retreated. The battle soon became a series of seesaw actions in which positions were taken and retaken.

3:00 p.m.: Rosecrans orders one of his divisions to counterattack, but Major General Charles Hamilton, commanding that division failed to take advantage of a suddenly exposed Confederate flank and withdrew into the inner defenses. He blamed vague orders.

5:00 p.m.: Despite the rest of the Federal line holding off the rest of the Confederate assault, they retire into the inner defenses before sundown. Artillery was used to keep Van Dorn at bay until the Federals were repositioned. Fighting stopped at sundown.

4 October, 1862: Dawn: Van Dorn orders a massive artillery barrage to soften up the Federal defensive line prior to launching another attack. Federal batteries respond with counterbattery fire which suppresses the Confederate guns.

10:00 a.m.: After a delay, Van Dorn launches his assault. In the center, the focal point became Battery Robinette, an artillery redoubt supported by infantry. Over the next several hours, that point was assaulted multiple times, with no success and heavy causalities among the Confederates.

Meanwhile, another Confederate advance managed to penetrate into Corinth itself. Alerted to this development, Batteries Robinette and Williams, located to the south of Robinette, began to pour fire into the Confederate brigades in Corinth, shredding then and forcing a withdrawal.

Into the afternoon, the fighting became fierce, with hand-to-hand combat throughout the lines. The Confederates, in the form of a brigade of Texans, were about to punch through when a brigade of Ohio troops revealed themselves and sent no fewer than seven volleys into the Texans, decimating them.

In the end, Van Dorn’s troops were repulsed from Corinth. Exhausted and no longer able to go on the offensive, Van Dorn orders a withdrawal to the Hatchie River. Rosecrans orders a pursuit, aided by a division that Grant sent when he received the initial reports of the fighting at Corinth.

The Battle of Corinth cost Van Dorn 4838 in total causalities, while the Union lost 2359.

Van Dorn learns of the second Federal force and decides to go back the way he came, but the Federals were not through with him yet.

7 October, 1862: Grant and Rosecrans catch up to Van Dorn at Davis’ Bridge, on the Hatchie River. A force sent across the river was repulsed and the Union forces captured the bridge, forcing Van Dorn to withdraw all the way to Holly Springs, AR.

The elimination of Van Dorn’s army would cause problems for Bragg, whose army was now in a position to be cut off. This would contribute to his withdrawal from Kentucky, especially when Rosecrans was free to support Buell.

In the end, the Confederate offensive only resulted in the loss of troops that the Confederacy already could not afford to lose, while it only delayed Union victory in the Mississippi Valley.

Price's Missouri Raid, 1864

Dates: 19 September to 1 November, 1864.


Union: Major General Samuel Curtis, commanding Union forces in Missouri.

Confederate: Major General Sterling Price, commanding the Army of Missouri.

Prelude: At this point in time, the fortunes for the CSA were getting grimmer by the day. All throughout the South, the various armies of the Confederacy were being ground down by either siege or by battles that lessened the ability of the Confederates to even wage defensive warfare.

It did not mean that the CSA was through, yet.

In the hope that the union’s resolve could be cracked at this late date, Price, onetime commander of the Missouri State Guards who was thrown out of the state in 1861, wanted one last chance to bring Missouri into the Confederate fold. Perhaps the sudden loss of the state would wreck the Union march to victory. To this end, Price gathered a force of 12,000 troops, mostly mounted infantry and cavalry. Hopefully this force was enough to seize the state capital of Jefferson City.

19 September, 1864: Price departs Pocahontas, AR and quickly enters Missouri. They begin this operation with a minimum of supplies, hoping to use the rich farms as a food source. Another factor to consider was that 1/3 of the troops were not even armed, hoping to get then from seized arsenals or dead Federals.

20 September, 1864: The sight of several thousand rag-tag Confederates was enough for the town to Keytesville to surrender.

Price intended to seize St Louis, but received intelligence that the city would be heavily defended, so he decided to go for Jefferson City.

24 September, 1864: Fayette falls to Price’s forces.

26 September, 1862: Price reaches Ironton after several brief engagements.

Just beyond the town was Fort Davidson, guarding the road to Pilot Knob. Commanded by Brigadier General Thomas Ewing Jr., the fort held 1051 troops and 11 cannon. Price decided that this fort had to be reduced.

27 September, 1864: Battle of Pilot Knob: Price formed his three brigades in a line and advanced from the south. Several assaults were made, but the fort’s walls were not breached. Price had lost about 1200 in the process. Ewing knew that he could not hold out for very long; he ordered the fort evacuated. As the Federals left, the magazine was blown up, denying Price any munitions.

28 September, 1864: As Ewing’s men head off, Price’s men are in pursuit.

As Price continued his advance, there were a series of skirmishes and minor actions, with places such as Leesburg, Cuba, Washington, and Herman and Miller’s Station becoming battlefields that don’t make it to most Civil War histories, but are no less important.

6 October, 1864: Price and his army approach Jefferson City. The Union garrison prepares to meet them.

7 October, 1864: There is a brief skirmish south of Jefferson City involving Federal cavalry. The cavalry were driven back, but the action revealed that the remaining Federal defenses of the city were too strong for Price to crack. He decodes to bypass Jefferson City and head for Kansas City.

8 October, 1864: Price swings past Jefferson City and heads for Booneville, on the Missouri River. After taking the town the next day, he splits his forces in two, sending one to Glasgow and the other to Sedalia.

15 October, 1864: Both Glasgow and Sedalia are attacked and captured.

The Union, at this point, prepare a reception for Price and his army short of Kansas City. Curtis has placed his forces west of Lexington, Price’s next target. Major General Alfred Pleasonton with cavalry was coming in from the east, while Major General A. J. Smith has some infantry to the south.

20 October, 1864: A small volunteer Union force engages Price near Lexington, before falling back to the Little Blue River.

21 October, 1864: Price attacks and defeats a Union force commanded by Major General James Blunt on the Little Blue River, forcing them to the Big Blue River, near Westport.

The withdrawing Federals were drawing Price to a spot of their own choosing. The Confederates were kept busy with strikes on their rear, while Price planned to punch through to Kansas City as Lexington fell to the Confederates. Price decided to press on to Westport.

The main factor affecting Price was numbers; his force was down to 8500, while Curtis was fielding a total of 20,000. He did not think that would be a problem.

23 October, 1864: Battle of Westport: Price decided first to deal with Pleasonton first. He orders his troops to hit the Federal line at Brush Creek, south of Westport. At first the Federals were forced across the creek, but were able to rally and counterattack, resulting in fierce fighting for several hours. Meanwhile, Pleasonton’s cavalry strikes from the east, taking Bryam’s Ford and capturing Brigadier General John Marmaduke in the process. With Federal troops pressing on the flanks and approaching the rear, Price had no choice but to abandon the drive for Kansas City and head south. Pleasonton’s troopers are in pursuit.

25 October, 1864: Price had crossed into Kansas and had headed for a crossing on the Marias des Cygnes River. Pleasonton caught up with him and captured the remaining Confederate cannon. Prices orders his wagons burned and it practically became every one for themselves. Price managed to restore order and forced marched his troops to Carthage.

1 November, 1864: Price and his remaining troops reach Cane Hill, AR, effectively ending the raid.

All this raid did was delay the inevitable victory of the Union in the West, however that was assured anyway. This raid, in the long run, turned out to be no more than a last gasp for the Confederates. There would be no more Confederate offensives in Missouri, or the Trans-Mississippi.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Invasion! Kentucky!

Dates: 14 August to 9 October, 1862


Union: Major General Don Carlos Buell, commanding the Army of the Ohio.

Confederate: Major Generals Edmund Kirby Smith and Braxton Bragg. Bragg commands the Army of Mississippi, Smith commands the Department of East Tennessee.

Prelude: There was more than one factor that finally stopped Buell from taking Chattanooga. He was already stopped by the twin raids of Colonels Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Hunt Morgan. However, Buell was not quite ready to abandon the operation just yet. The confederates had other ideas.

Bragg had been ordered to get his army to Chattanooga as part of a plan to knock Buell out of the way and lift any further threat to the city. Smith, as commander of the district of East Tennessee, had managed to get a small army together to invade Kentucky and bring that state into the Confederacy. With both his and Bragg’s troops, the hope was to draw Buell away and engage him in an area of their own choosing. Smith will have 10,000 troops with him, Bragg will bring 30,000.

14 August, 1862: Smith departs Knoxville and heads north towards Cumberland Gap, on the Tennessee border. Instead of driving for the gap, he orders his forces to bypass it to the west. This causes the Union garrison to flee the area.

28 August, 1862: Bragg departs Chattanooga and heads north, marching through the area of Forrest’s recent raid as first Sparta, then Carthage is reached. Turning north, they cross into Kentucky with the aim of severing the Federal supply lines.

30 August, 1862; Buell might have had the chance to take advantage of the situation and take Chattanooga. Perhaps he was thinking that Bragg could come back and lay siege to the city if the Union was holding there. Buell orders his army to pursue Bragg.

At Richmond, KY, Smith attacks a Union garrison, driving them off and opening the way for the Confederates to occupy Lexington.

As Buell heads to Kentucky, he leaves a garrison at Nashville in order to keep the city in Union hands.

2 September, 1862: Lexington, KY is in Confederate hands. The Kentucky State Legislature flees to Louisville.

For the next several days, the armies spent their time maneuvering, not bringing on any major engagements. The Confederates were creating a 60-mile front while Buell was playing catch-up.

15 September, 1862: Bragg’s army is fully in Kentucky as they reach Glasgow. After camping for the night, they continue north.

17 September, 1862: Bragg’s forces reach Munfordsville, where they force the small Union garrison to surrender.

Bragg continues marching north, making Buell think that the Confederates intended to take Louisville. The Federals respond by planning to concentrate their forces there. However, Bragg turns to the east, intending to link up with Smith’s force.

22 September, 1862: Bragg’s army reaches Bardstown. This clears the way for Buell to get between the Confederates and Louisville.

26 September, 1862: Bragg issues a proclamation, calling for the states of the Northwest to side with the Confederacy. This falls on deaf ears.

29 September, 1862: Buell reaches Louisville and concentrates his army there. Smith takes two divisions and makes a feint around Frankfort, drawing part of Buell’s troops their way.

Because there was now easy access to the Ohio River, Buell was able to resupply and reequip his troops so they can finally take the offensive.

1 October, 1862: Buell begins advancing from Louisville, throwing a feint towards Frankfort.

Bragg and Smith, their forces nearly combined, decide to detach half of their troops to defend Frankfort, while sending a division, under Major General William Hardee to Perryville. The remainder of Bragg’s forces went to Haroldsville, to the northeast.

7 October, 1862: As Buell’s main force approaches Perryville, they meet Hardee’s line, resulting in massive skirmishing. Hardee sends a massage to Bragg, who sends the division of Major General Leonidas Polk to reinforce against what was perceived was a part of Buell’s army.

What they ended up facing was a major part of the Union force.

8 October, 1862: Battle of Perryville: Bragg placed his two divisions to the northwest of the town, with Polk to the north and Hardee to the south. Buell is bringing in three corps. He placed his I Corps (Major General Alexander McCook) on the left flank, III Corps (Major General Charles Gilbert) holding the middle, and II Corps (Major General Thomas Crittenden) on the right.
Dawn: Buell sends his left wing forward in a attempt to outflank the Confederate line. One of the divisions going forward is led by Brigadier General Philip Sheridan. They get halfway to the town, past the Turner House, then stops to dig in.

10:00 a.m.: Having been alerted to the action at Perryville, Bragg rushes there and takes command of the situation. He orders two brigades to attack the Federal left flank.

2:00 p.m.: Polk sends in his brigades against McCook, pushing him back and collapsing the Union line. Just as the Federal were about to be out flanked one division of veterans holds the line and stops the Confederate attack. Sheridan was in a position to assist but was ordered not to move.

To the south, Crittenden was plagued by Confederate cavalry under Brigadier General Joseph Wheeler and was not engaged in the general battle.

4: 15 p.m.: One Confederate brigade is sent to attack Sheridan at Turner House. Sheridan was able to repulse that attack and then take the offensive. As the sun begins to set, the Federals push into Perryville itself. That evening, while in the town, they find themselves with no support and have to withdraw. Around the same time Buell, who has been hearing artillery all day, finally realizes that a major battle is underway. He sends the bulk of his army to the area.

The Confederates were able to push the Federals back until darkness brought an end to the fighting. When they saw that Buell was bringing up extra troops, Bragg orders his troops to pull back to Harrodsburg.

In what turned out to be the only major battle fought in Kentucky, the Federals lost 4349 in killed, wounded, and missing, mostly from McCook’s corps. The Confederates lost 3386.

9 October, 1862: Bragg pulls away from Perryville and joins up with Smith at Harrodsburg. There it was decided to pull out of Kentucky entirely.

It was not a total loss; there was a treasure haul of supplies that would sustain the Confederates through the winter.

Smith would soon be transferred to the Trans-Mississippi region where he will spend the rest of the war. His army would be the last major Confederate army to surrender in 1865.

Bragg would take the remainder of his army to Murfreesboro, where another battle awaited him.

Buell did not pursue Bragg or Smith and was relieved of command of the Army of the Ohio, 24 October, 1862, as a result. He went to his home in Indianapolis, IN to await orders that never came.

The capture of Chattanooga would wait until next year.

Kentucky was secure.

Forrest's and Morgan's Kentucky and Tennessee Raids, 1862

Dates: 4-27 July, 1862


Union: Major General Don Carlos Buell, command the Army of the Ohio.

Confederate: Colonels John Hunt Morgan and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Prelude: At this point in the war in Tennessee, the Federals were making inroads into the state. There was an offensive to take the Mississippi River at the west end of the state, while another offensive, led by Buell, was aimed at taking Chattanooga. While the Confederate Army in the West tried to stem the tide on the river, it was decided to see how Buell could be tied up. There were no other organized armies in the area, however, there was cavalry that could be used. Two bodies of cavalry were available, under commanders who were proving in the early stages of the war to be both bold and capable.

Forrest did not have any military experience. He actually was a plantation owner who also did business as a slave trader. When the Civil War broke out, the Tennessee native enlisted as a private in a local cavalry outfit. He soon organized and outfitted (at his own expense) his own unit, becoming its colonel. Forrest displayed his independent streak by taking his command out of Fort Donelson the night before its surrender.

Morgan did have some military experience, with service in the Mexican War. Pre-Civil War, he was a merchant who sided with the South, even though his state of Kentucky never seceded.

Both would prove a pain in the side to the Federals.

4 July, 1862: Morgan departs Knoxville, TN on his raid.

The 2nd KY Cavalry, with 876 troopers, heads west to Crossville, then to Sparta, where they turn north. They are joined by Georgians, Texans, and Tennesseans. Over the next few days, they ride on to Cookville, then head northwest to Celina, finally crossing the line into Kentucky.

9 July, 1862: Forrest departs Chattanooga with 1400 troopers, heading northwest to McMinnville. He will spend a few days there.

On that same day, Morgan’s force surprises, then drives off, a Union cavalry detachment at Tomkinsville.

Morgan has plans for information gathering. The Federals had the area wired for telegraph communication. Among his troopers was a telegrapher who was able to tap into Union lines and monitor their communications. This would keep Morgan away from any traps.
Morgan’s troopers then headed north to Glasgow, then Horse Cove, on the Louisville and Kentucky Railroad. Afterwards, they cut east, then north, heading towards Lebanon.

11-12 July, 1862: Morgan’s raiders strike Lebanon, driving off its garrison of 100 and seizing a large number of supplies. The supplies would be needed for troopers living in the saddle.

13 July, 1862: Meanwhile, Forrest was not idle; his troops ride past Woodbury, then turned west to hit a Union garrison of 1040 commanded by Brigadier General Thomas Crittenden at Murfreesboro. They were able to capture the garrison and free some hostages being held there. Afterwards, they rode back to McMinnville.

Now these Union troops who were taken prisoner could not be taken with the raiders. There were not enough horses, nor troopers who could be spared. Both Morgan and Forrest took the parole of their captives, keeping them out of the fight until an equal number of Confederates that were being held prisoner were released.

Morgan had the intention to take Lexington, but the growing number of defending Federals prevented this. Instead, Morgan continues northeast.

17 July, 1862: Morgan’s troops reach Cynthiana, surrounding and then capturing the town after a fierce battle, losing eight killed and 28 wounded to the Federals 17 killed and 34 wounded.

Morgan decides that this is enough, he decides to head back to Tennessee. His troopers first go north to Clarksville, then turn south, riding to Paris, Winchester, Richmond, Crab Orchard, Somerset, and Monticello before crossing back into Tennessee. He finally stops at Livingston, completing his raid, on or about 22 July.

Forrest was also ready to create some more havoc.

18 July, 1862: Forrest leaves McMinnville with 700 men and proceeds to raid the countryside. They head north to Smithville, but then heads west to Liberty. Passing Liberty, they then head for Lebanon (this one in Tennessee), where there was a Federal garrison.

20 July, 1862: At Lebanon, the sight of hundreds of screaming Confederate cavalry troops shocked the small Federal garrison, causing then to run for their lives towards Nashville, Forrest follows.

21 July, 1862: Forrest’s troops strike the Union picket line near Nashville. They ride through the area south of the city, tearing up bridges, rail lines, and telegraph lines. Not wanting to force a major engagement with a major Union garrison, Forrest heads south.

The Federals send out a detachment to try to stop Forrest, but he manages to keep away from any more engagements. The Union troops begin guarding rail lines in order to keep Forrest away.

27 July, 1862: Forrest attacks a Union detachment guarding the rail line between Murfreesboro and McMinnville, killing three and taking 15 prisoners. Forrest then returns to McMinnville, where the operation comes to an end.

Morgan traveled 1000 miles, captured or destroyed millions of dollars of supplies, and captured 1200 Federal soldiers, all for a loss of 90.

Forrest did not travel as far as that, but his effect was no less spectacular.

12 August, 1862: To put an exclamation point on his operations, Morgan destroyed the tunnel on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, severing Buell’s supply line and putting Chattanooga out of reach for the time being.

The Union offensive in Eastern Tennessee was stopped.

The Confederates were ready to defend their territory with any means necessary.

Morgan would make his famous raid into Indiana and Ohio the next year.

Forrest would go on to various cavalry commands, both with the Army of Tennessee as well as independent commands. He would be a fixture in the Deep South for quite a while yet.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mississippi River and New Orleans

Dates: 3 March to 24 July, 1862


Union: Major General Henry W. Halleck, commanding Federal armies in the West. Major General Benjamin F. Butler, commanding Union infantry in the assault on New Orleans, and Captain David Farragut, commanding Union naval forces on board USS Hartford.

Confederate: General P.G.T. Beauregard, commanding Confederate forces in the West.

Prelude: Following the Union victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, the momentum seemed to be on the Federal’s side. Plans were being made for further operations along the Mississippi River, the main trade artery that was as essential to the Confederacy as the ports that were coming under blockade. The plan was to send armies down the Mississippi and seize forts and other strategic points at least as far south as Memphis. Another planned target was the city of New Orleans, a major Confederate port at the time. The aim was to take the entire rive and split the CSA in two, making it harder for the Confederates to get troops and supplies from west to east.

As with most plans, there was a complication. Halleck, in his capacity as commander of Union forces in the West, had sent telegrams to Washington D.C. that were not complimentary of the general who took Forts Henry and Donelson, Major General Ulysses S. Grant. Halleck was jealous of Grant’s rising star status and wanted to knock away a potential rival. Halleck started spinning a tale that had Grant as inefficient and drunk while commanding the campaign. The Chief of the Union Armies, Major General George McClellan, gave permission to Halleck to remove Grant. That way, Halleck would gain glory and promotion for himself.

3 March, 1862: Halleck receives permission from McClellan to remove Grant from command. At the same time, Halleck orders a force of 18,000 under Major General John Pope down the river. First target, New Madrid, MO and a Confederate battery on a sandbar known as Island No. 10.

4 March, 1862: Major General Charles Smith is given command of Grant’s troops while Grant is reassigned as Halleck’s second-in-command, with no duties.

5 March, 1862: To counter the growing Union threat, Beauregard is formally assigned as commander in the West, with orders to stop the Federal advance.

In Savannah, TN, Smith’s troops are joined by gunboats and transports

Pope marches his army through eastern Missouri. He is supported by naval forces under Flag Officer Andrew Foote which consisted of gunboats and mortar boats for heavy bombardment.

14 March 1862: Pope captures New Madrid.

Island No. 10 sat in a bend in the Mississippi River along the Kentucky-Tennessee border. This position afforded cover to both up and down river traffic. Union possession of this island would go greatly towards total possession of the river. (The reason that the term “sat” is used is because this island no longer exists.)

15 March, 1862: Grant is restored to command on Union forces still at Savannah, TN.

18 March, 1862: Another Confederate army, under General Albert S. Johnston, is sent west to reinforce Beauregard. Because of seniority, Johnston will be overall commander.

Johnston’s plan was to keep the area’s railroads out of Federal hands. He is also covering Major General Don Carlos Buell’s forces, who are around Chattanooga, TN (see the Kentucky and Tennessee timeline). Another concern to the Confederates was that Grant was moving his army to Pittsburg Landing, on the Tennessee River. Added to this was that Buell could reach Grant and make a thrust into Mississippi itself. Johnston decides to merge his army with Beauregard’s and assault the Federals gathering at Pittsburg Landing (see the Shiloh timeline).

4 April, 1862: Foote’s flotilla arrives the assault can begin. The operation starts with a bombardment of Island No. 10 itself, but had no effect. That night, Foote sends USS Carondolet past Island No. 10, putting naval assets up river and down river of the island.

Meanwhile, Pope marches south to Ft. Pleasant, then onward to Riddles Point.

6 April, 1862: Pope crosses the river and placed himself in a position to block any evacuation from Island No. 10.

7 April, 1862: With USS Pittsburg joining Carondolet downstream, Foote orders another bombardment of the island. The Confederate commander orders an evacuation, but finds Union troops blocking his way out.

8 April, 1862: Island No. 10 surrenders to Federal forces.

The Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) took place at the same time, resulting in the death of Johnston. Beauregard took command of both armies and retreated to Corinth, MS.

11 April, 1862: Halleck arrived at Pittsburg Landing and assumes command over Grant’s forces. He then proceeds to gather a larger force together for an assault on the rail center of Corinth, and the destruction of Beauregard’s army. He gathers three armies together, Buell’s, Pope’s (who Halleck recalled from Island No. 10), and Major General George H. Thomas’ army.

While as all this was going on, at Ship Island, in the Gulf of Mexico off Gulfport, MS, another Federal force was being assembled for the assault on the Mississippi Delta and New Orleans. A fleet of warships under Farragut, a mortar fleet under Commodore David Porter, as well as Butler’s infantry, were ready to implement the plan.

18 April, 1862: The Federal force reaches the first objective on the way to New Orleans. About 75 miles below New Orleans, two forts, Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip, guard the main channel. They occupy opposite banks of the river and there is a heavy chain across the river to prevent a naval assault. Supporting this was a flotilla led by the ironclad vessel CSS Louisiana, as well as some converted steam transports.

19 April, 1862: Farragut begins constant bombardment of the two forts. This lasts all day, but Farragut is at a disadvantage; the forts are on hills, which allow plunging fore on the Federal warships. The placement of the forts also allowed a crossfire, while Farragut is stuck at the barrier chain. He decides that the chain has to go. The other problem he has are the forts themselves. They just might have to be taken by direct assault by Butler’s troops.

20 April, 1862: Two gunboats, the Pinola and the Itasca, are sent to the barrier in the middle of the night. Their crews, who volunteer for this dangerous mission, manage to cut the chain. The way is clear, but the forts are still a factor. What Farragut didn’t know (until a Confederate deserter gave him the information) was that the forts were heavily damaged by the 4000 shells sent their way.

Farragut decides he will make a run past the forts.

23 April, 1862; Farragut arranges his warships in two columns, one will hit Fort Jackson while the other hits Fort St. Philip.

24 April, 1862: 3:30 a.m.: Farragut begins the sail his fleet up the Mississippi past the two Confederate forts. Stealth was attempted but lookouts at the forts soon see them. Both forts open fire and pummeled the Federal fleet. Despite several of the ships being hit, Farragut gets his fleet past the forts and proceeds to engage the Confederate flotilla, which also included the ironclad ram CSS Manassas. A fierce fight ensued and the defenders are broken up, with Manassas forced aground.

Farragut orders his force to stop about 18 miles from New Orleans. He gathers his vessels, as well as the troop transports carrying Butler’s men.

25 April, 1862: With the Federals approaching, Confederate Major General Mansfield Lovell, the commander of the New Orleans defenses, orders his troops to evacuate.

28 April, 1862: Farragut arrives at New Orleans and begins ferrying Butler’s troops ashore. Both Butler and Farragut come ashore, to a very hostile reception by the locals. They raise the US flag over the Customs Hall, the Mint, and City Hall. They will then meet with New Orleans officials to arrange the surrender of the city.

1 May, 1862: New Orleans is formally surrendered and occupied by Federal troops. This removes a major port and shipbuilding facility from Confederate control.

Meanwhile, to the north, Halleck was advancing with his enlarged army at a very glacial pace. They would march several miles, then stop and entrench. Little did they know that Beauregard was at Corinth and very reluctant to launch an offensive, as almost half of his men were sick.

9 May, 1862: Halleck’s army if finally into Mississippi and begins to close in on Corinth. Beauregard detaches part of his army and heads east to Farmington, where he hits Pope’s line. Pope is forced to pull back, but the Confederates do not follow.

Meanwhile, it has taken Halleck 26 days total to advance 20 miles (usually a day’s march).

25 May, 1862: Halleck finally has his entire force at Corinth. He too is battling with sickness amongst the troops as well as bad weather, but he manages to entrench his forces to the north and east of Corinth.

28 May, 1862: With all of his forces in place, Halleck orders Corinth shelled.

29 May, 1862: Beauregard orders his troops to evacuate Corinth and head south.

30 May, 1862: Halleck occupies Corinth. This takes a major rail center away from the Confederates.

Up the Mississippi, the Union advance south continues; by mid April, the Union forces are closing in on Pillow, a Confederate fort protecting the northern approaches to Memphis and just north on Plum Run Bend. They begin a bombardment which lasts for a month.

10 May, 1862: The Confederate flotilla defending Memphis, TN, launches a surprise attack on the Federal flotilla at Plum Run Bend, Two Federal ironclads are sunk.

5 June, 1862: After all that bombardment, the Confederates evacuate Fort Pillow, leaving Memphis open for attack. Federal river forces quickly take advantage of the situation and sail to Memphis.

6 June, 1862: The Federal flotilla reaches Memphis and engages the defense fleet that attacked them on 10 May. This time the result is different. Within an hour, seven of the eight Confederate gunboats are sunk to a Federal loss of three wounded sailors. At noon, Memphis surrenders to the Union.

This gives the Federals control of the Mississippi from Cairo, IL to Memphis TN.

18 May, 1862: After securing New Orleans, Farragut sailed his fleet up the Mississippi river to Vicksburg and demand the surrender of the city, which is refused.

19 May, 1862: Farragut decides to add a little persuasion and orders the city shelled. He continues this until 27 June, but the Confederates do not buckle.

28 May, 1862: Farragut decides that he has had enough and orders his fleet to sail north past the Vicksburg defenses. At 2:00 a.m. he orders the fleet to move.

4:00 a.m.: Confederate gunners see the fleet sailing past and opens fire. Despite the heavy fire, by 6:00 a.m. most of the fleet id past the defenses and around the bend at De Soto Point. Past there, they meet the Union flotilla coming down from Memphis on 1 July.

However, the Confederates were not through yet.

15 July, 1862: A secretly built ironclad, the CSS Arkansas, came down the Yazoo River and engaged several Union vessels, damaging the USS Carondolet. The Confederates then sailed into the Mississippi, engaging several of Farragut’s ships before reaching the safety of the Vicksburg river docks.

24 July, 1862: Farragut realizes that Vicksburg could not be taken by naval assault. That and the fact that many of his crews were getting sick, he orders his fleet to run past the Vicksburg defenses and return to New Orleans.

The Union almost had the entire Mississippi River in their hands. Only a section from Vicksburg to Port Hudson was still in Confederate control.

Farragut would be promoted to Rear Admiral on 16 July 1862, the first in UN Navy history. He would command the West Gulf Blockading Squadron and would lead the assault on Mobile Bay, AL in 1864.

Halleck would be brought to Washington to assume duties as Army Commander-in Chief, which he holds until 1864.

Grant, who Halleck wanted to replace, would assume command of Union forces in the West, take Vicksburg, and then assume command of all Union armies, effectively becoming Halleck’s boss.

Butler would make a mess of his administration of New Orleans, be brought back East, and finally lose his command in 1864 after failing to capture Fort Fisher, NC.

Beauregard would serve in various commands for the remainder of the war.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tullahoma and Chattanooga

Dates: 24 June to 9 September, 1863


Union: Major General William Rosecrans, commanding the Army of the Cumberland.

Confederate: General Braxton Bragg

Prelude; there has not been much movement since the Union victory at Murfreesboro at the beginning of 1863. As a matter of fact, they have been sitting there for half the year. Meanwhile, Bragg has been sitting at Tullahoma waiting for Rosecrans to move.

Rosecrans had two good reasons to stay; first, his army denied Bragg access to the central Tennessee farmland, which could feed his army, and second, the time was necessary for rest and refit if the Federals were going to achieve the next goal, the city of Chattanooga.

If the Union can seize Chattanooga, it would give them not only a river and rail center, but a springboard to push the war into Georgia. Rosecrans had the mandate to do this, but he was waiting for the right time to do this.

Rosecrans has 40,000 infantry and 7000 cavalry. Bragg has 30,000 infantry and 13,000 cavalry.

The Confederates have part of their force at Shelbyville, while the rest manned defenses at Tullahoma.

23 June, 1863: Rosecrans orders his army on the road. He sends his cavalry south to Shelbyville while two Union corps head directly for Tullahoma. Another corps swings east to McMinnville. They are moving despite torrential rain storms.

The cavalry feint towards Shelbyville worked, the Confederates there do not move.

Within days, the Federals were through Hoover’s Gap, flanking the Southerners and forcing Bragg to fall back on Tullahoma.

29 June, 1863: As Rosecrans forces approach Tullahoma, he orders another feint towards the town.

30 June, 1863: Bragg, seeing his right flank was about to get hit, orders a withdrawal, all the way to Chattanooga.

The practically bloodless victory was overshadowed by events in Pennsylvania and Mississippi, but it was a Union victory nonetheless. Rosecrans devoted some time to consolidating his gains, which placed another chunk of Tennessee under Federal control.
After filing his reports with the War Department, Rosecrans was prodded to continue his advance. Plans are made for a two-pronged attack using the corps commanded by Major General Ambrose Burnside, presently at Lexington, KY.

16 August, 1863: Rosecrans leaves Tullahoma. He sends one corps to the east in a wide arc. The rest head straight for the Tennessee River.

21 August, 1863: Rosecrans’ army reaches the Tennessee River.

29 August, 1863: Rosecrans sends his Cavalry and XX Corps (Major General Alexander McCook) into Alabama, and then into Georgia, making a feint forwards Atlanta.

1 September, 1863, The main body of the Army of the Cumberland crosses the Tennessee River with XXI Corps (Major General Thomas Crittenden) heading for Chattanooga and XIV Corps (Major General George Thomas) taking the center between Crittenden and McCook.

2 September, 1863: Burnside’s corps capture Knoxville, TN, severing the rail line to Virginia from Chattanooga.

Bragg knows he is being outflanked, but is counting on the mountainous terrain to slow the Federals down.

Rosecrans convinced Bragg that the attack would come from upstream, instead, it is coming from downstream.

5 September, 1863: Rosecrans decides to send his army in three columns through gaps in the mountains in order to his Chattanooga.

6 September, 1863: Bragg orders Chattanooga evacuated, effectively leaving it open for Federal occupation.

9 September, 1863: As Rosecrans captures Chattanooga, he orders a pursuit of Bragg, believing that the Confederates were easy pickings. Bragg has other ideas. Meanwhile, seeing the situation in the southeast Confederacy deteriorating, CS President Jefferson Davis, a friend of Bragg’s, orders General Robert E. Lee to detach one corps from his Army of Northern Virginia and send them to reinforce Bragg. The corps of Lieutenant General James Longstreet is sent.

The stage is now set for another titanic battle. The trap that Bragg is planning will result in the Battle of Chickamauga.

Kentucky and Tennessee, 1862

Dates: 10 January to 18 June, 1862


Union: Major General Don Carlos Buell

Confederate: General Albert Sidney Johnston

Prelude: As the Southern States were seceding in 1861, “Border States,” which were Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware each took time to sort out their loyalties. Missouri had recently fought a series of battles and skirmishes but was firmly in the Union camp. It took an intervention be US President Lincoln to keep Maryland. There was no question about Delaware’s remaining in the Union. The wild card in all of this was Kentucky. This was a state where Slavery was legal, but wanted no part in the breakaway that was going on. Even so, they also wanted no part in raising troops for putting down their Southern brothers. As war clouds gathered, Kentucky declared itself neutral, refusing to officially raise troops for the North or South. Of course, that did not stop people from doing so. One of the well known bodies of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War was called the “Orphan Brigade,” made up of Kentuckians and attached to the Army of Tennessee. This brigade, when forced out of the state, never returned for the remainder of the war. Another unit, the 1st Kentucky (Union) Regiment had already seen action in Virginia.

The official stance of Kentucky changed when, on 4 September, 1861, Confederate troops under Major General Leonidas Polk seized Columbus, KY. The state officially allied themselves with the Union, despite an attempt by pro-Confederates to form a secessionist government. Articles of Secession were even voted on, but could not be enacted. The state would be spilt for the remainder of the war, but the Administration of US President Abraham Lincoln was pleased that as least half of Kentucky was on his side.

For the Confederacy, it was a blunder that presented an opportunity. Possession of Kentucky would give the CSA a natural border on the Ohio River as well as access to two major rivers (the second being the Mississippi) for trade and travel. Goods and services would flow down river to New Orleans, LA and then to the world. CS President Jefferson Davis saw this as advantageous to the new nation. He was also optimistic; he authorized a star on the Confederate First National flag to represent Kentucky.

Since Polk had already entered the state, it seemed good sense to put an entire army unto Kentucky. Johnston was selected to command Confederate forces in the West, with a mandate to both protect the Lower South (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee) and secure Kentucky.

Johnston was a Regular Army officer who resigned his commission while serving in California. His past service also included the Texas War of Independence and the Mexican War.

On the other side, the goals of the Federals in the area became clear; keep Kentucky secured so that operations into Tennessee could be mounted. Part of that was already done when Union forces took Paducah and Louisville. The motivation to get into Tennessee was that despite the state being admitted into the CSA, the state was actually split, with the western half pro-Confederate and the eastern half pro-Union. There was a lot of sectarian violence taking place as clashes and raids took place.

As 1861 ended and 1862 began, there was already a lot of maneuvering. Confederates under Brigadier General Humphrey Marshall had been in eastern Kentucky since 10 December, 1861, and was camped in the town of Prestonsburg. To the west, at Beech Grove, there was another force under Brigadier General Felix Zollicoffer encamped.

The Federals countered this when Buell sent a brigade under Colonel James Garfield from Louisa to Paintsville to counter Marshall. Another Union force, under Brigadier General George Thomas was sent to Somerset to counter Zollicoffer’s movements.

A Confederate force, under Major General George Crittenden, established themselves at Beech Grove, on the Cumberland River.

10 January, 1862: Battle of Middle Creek: West of Prestonsburg, Garfield formed his four regiments in line formation and pressed in their assault through wooded hills. Marshall’s three regiments held their own for a while but was soon forced to pull back. At the end of the day, both sides pulled back, each claiming victory. Garfield pulled into Prestonsburg to regroup, Marshall marched all the way to Virginia, effectively giving eastern Kentucky to the Union.

To the west, Thomas was ordered to march on Crittenden’s camp and drive them across the Cumberland.

At Beech Grove, both Crittenden and Zollicoffer were camped on a bend in the Cumberland River called Logan’s Cross Roads. The river crossing was their only way of retreat if Federal troops arrived. Still it offered a base in order to launch operations into central Kentucky. There was a slight problem, the Cumberland was in flood due to heavy rains, so crossing the river was problematic at best.

17 January, 1862: Thomas’ troops reach a spot near Logan’s Cross Roads and set up camp. Crittenden sees an opportunity to disrupt the Federal’s plans.

19 January, 1862: Battle of Logan’s Cross Roads: Crittenden marched his troops all night in order to be in a good position to hit Thomas. At dawn, troops of the 15th MS encountered a picket line manned by the 10th IN. For the next hour, the Indianans held off assaults by three Confederate regiments. Two additional Union arrived to support the Indianans, but when the ammunition ran out, the Federals were forces to give ground. As that was happening, while the Confederates were closing in, Colonel S. S. Fry of the 4th KY (Union) fired his revolver into the mass on Confederates. The round hits Zollicoffer, killing him. Afterwards, the fighting became so close that at one point, Union and Confederates were struggling over a single fence.

Thomas orders artillery brought up and soon begins pounding the Confederate formations. Thomas then sends in a brigade to hit the enemy on the flank. This breaks Crittenden’s forces and what started out to be an orderly retreat was turned into a rout. The Confederates make for the riverbank while Thomas’ artillery continues pounding them.

Thomas planned to finish off Crittenden by an assault, but the Confederates managed to cross the Cumberland River that night, effectively ending the battle. They march out of Kentucky altogether and finally stopped at Gainsboro, TN.

It took a few months to rest and refit the Union forces in eastern Kentucky, as well as consolidate their gains. Most of Kentucky was now firmly in Federal hands. Plans were now being made to take the offensive into Tennessee.

11 April, 1862: A division under Union Brigadier General George Morgan left London, KY and marched toward Cumberland Ford, with plans to use that area as a spring board to capture Cumberland Gap, a natural route into Tennessee.

As the Federals reached the Ford, word reached Morgan that the Confederates had fortified the Wilderness Road, once a trail for pioneers heading west to settle new lands. Now the road was seen as a strategic position for both sides. Morgan was not going to play to the Confederates tune. He decides to send one brigade as a diversion. They head across Tennessee, into Alabama, across the Tennessee River, and finally approaching Chattanooga, TN on 7 June.

6 June, 1862; Meanwhile, Morgan splits his remaining troops into two sections, sends one into Tennessee to Big Creek Gap, then turn east to Cumberland Gap. The second group goes through Rogers Gap, into Tennessee, and then covers the first group as Cumberland Gap is approached.

Meanwhile, the Confederates panicked when word of a Federal force was spotted at Chattanooga, shelling the city. Reinforcements were rushed to the area, but those who remained behind found more Federals coming from the west.

17 June, 1862: The Confederate commander at Cumberland Gap orders the gap abandoned, falling back into Tennessee.

18 June, 1862: Morgan and his Federals occupy Cumberland Gap, now a natural invasion route into Tennessee.

The feint against Chattanooga worked. There was no longer an organized Confederate army in Kentucky, and eastern Tennessee was open to invasion. Western Tennessee was already being penetrated by Federal troops, as evident by the Union victories at Forts Henry and Donelson in February, 1862.

Even though Federal troops got close, it would be another year before Chattanooga wound be in Federal hands.

Johnston had his job cut out for him.

The country must now be roused to make the greatest effort that it will be called upon to make during the war. No matter what the sacrifice may be, it must be made, and without loss of time…All the resources of the Confederacy are now needed for the defense of Tennessee.---General Albert S. Johnston.

Colonel Garfield would be promoted to Brigadier General after Middle Creek. He would enter politics after the war and would become the 20th President of the United States. He was assassinated in 1881 by a failed office seeker.

Marshall would not receive another command and briefly left the Confederate Army. After returning to serve in the Army of Tennessee for a while, he went to Richmond to practice law, soon being elected to the Confederate Congress as a representative of a Kentucky district. After the war he resumed law practice and died in 1867.

Morgan was forced to pull back in the face of General Braxton Bragg’s invasion of Kentucky, managing to pull his troops into northern Kentucky. He served in West Virginia and Vicksburg before resigning his commission in 1863 because he was not in favor of the Union Army enlisting African-Americans as troops. Post-war he served as a Representative from Ohio. He died in 1893.

Buell would go on to command the Army of the Ohio, being involved in the Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing, TN). He was replaced after Bragg’s invasion of Kentucky and after being assigned to an out of the way post, he resigned in 1864. After the war he became a businessman. He died in 1898.

Johnston would remain in command of Confederate troops until his death at Pittsburg Landing.

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