The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – January 1-7, 1862

Here are some of the events of the Civil War that were happening 150 years ago today. Sources are numbered according to the list at the bottom of this post.

Also see the articles, “What Happened In the Civil War January 1862” and “The Confederate Defense of Tennessee.” There is also a rich lode of further information in journals from people on both sides of the war at Daily Observations From The Civil War and some news stories of the day at Civil War Daily Gazette.

January 1

Politics: The two Confederate commissioners seized by USA forces are released, officially ending the Trent Affair. The British lift their embargo on shipments to America; among other cargoes, five ships loaded with 2,300 tons of Indian saltpeter destined to be turned into Union gunpowder are allowed to leave Britain. (4) With General McClellan believed to be near death from typhoid, President Lincoln takes on his role as Commander-in-Chief. (Civil War Daily Gazette)

Military events: In the Eastern Theater, despite cold weather, General Thomas Jackson heads north from Winchester towards Bath, starting his winter Romney Campaign to disrupt traffic on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.

Meanwhile, the Union invasion of Kentucky is about to get underway.

January 3

Battles:  Cockpit Point:  This Confederate battery garrison, part of those blockading the Potomac River to isolate Washington, is bombarded by Union gunboats.  Results are inconclusive. (1) “Largely ineffective, these batteries nevertheless proved an embarrassment to the North because they restricted access to the capital only to river traffic willing to risk the possibility of a lucky cannon shot.” (Encylopedia of Virginia: “Potomac River During the Civil War.

January 5

Battles: General Jackson’s forces reach the Potomac and fire on Hancock, Maryland, while looking for a safe crossing across the river. Despite a 2-day bombardment, General E. W. Lander (USA) refuses to surrender. Results are inconclusive. (1)

January 6

Military events: In the Western Theater, General Henry Halleck tells President Lincoln that he can do nothing to help General Don Carlos Buell but orders General Grant to make a demonstration. “Let it be understood that Fort Donelson is the object of your attack,” he writes, as quoted at, “but do not advance far enough to expose your flank and rear to attack from Columbus, and by all means avoid a serious engagement.” Grant sets out toward Columbus while sending General C. F. Smith up the Tennessee River toward Fort Henry with a brigade plus gunboats.


(1) timeline

(2)  Library of Congress timeline

(3)  Smithsonian Civil War Timeline

(4)  “Battle Cry of Freedom” by James McPherson

Categories: American Civil War

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