The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – January 15-21, 1862

There is no way this can be a really detailed look at the war day by day, of course, but I try to at least hit the high points. After discovering the Blue and Gray timeline (see timeline link in sidebar), I realized I’d missed a biggy for the Romney campaign in the last post and corrected that (Gen. Kelly left Romney on the 10th and General Jackson moved in on the 14th).

I believe Romney changed hands more than any other town in the Civil War. Here is a look at that.

Now then, 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 article “What Happened In the Civil War January 1862.” If “Ashokan Farewell” (the fiddle music theme for Ken Burns’ “Civil War” series) is the only music you connect with the Civil War (it’s actually a modern song written in upstate New York for the close of a music festival), also check out their overview of Civil War music

There is also much day-by-day 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 15:

Military events: While the Ambrose Expedition is still hunkered down in Hatteras Inlet, riding out the “terrific weather” of the 14th to the 26th, newspapers up north report some of the disasters that have struck Burnside’s fleet. (7)

Politics: President Lincoln recommends Gustave Koerner to General Halleck as someone who can ease tensions with German-American Union soldiers over “want of pay.” German-Americans generally supported the Union cause in the years leading up to and during the Civil War — this was especially important in Missouri before the war- but there were some notable Confederates of German heritage, too. (4, 6)

January 16:

Military events: From The Daily Journal, Wilmington, North Carolina, CSA, concerning the Burnside Expedition: “All is quiet – We feel anxious about Roanoke Island.”

January 17

Military events: Western Kentucky: General Grant is in the field, going around Columbus and then returning. His subordinates, Flag Officer Andrew Foote of the US Navy’s Western Flotilla and General C. F. Smith, go up the Tennessee River and check out Fort Henry. “I think two gunboats can make short work of Fort Henry,” Smith tells Grant. (1)

In Richmond, an observer notes President Davis reads a letter that General Gideon J. Pillow has resigned. Davis will cancel the general’s resignation (to the general’s relief; he regretted the move) and put him in charge of Fort Donelson.  General Polk is said to be “uneasy about his position, which he thought was about to be attacked. He has not more than 10,000 men & some gun boats &c whilst the enemy have three or four times that force, according to his best accounts.”

A report on the Romney Campaign is in, as well, and according to the observer, it’s not encouraging: “The Expedition effected but little. A small Rail Road Bridge was burnt – and some tents, military stores &c were left by the enemy in Romney and taken by our troops. They seem to have a poor opinion of Jackson’s military skill, and say such is the general opinion in his command. The troops were greatly exposed in a mountain country covered with snow and suffered severely.”

January 19

Battles: Eastern Kentucky: Battle of Mill Springs/Fishing Creek (CSA)/Logan’s Cross Roads (USA). General Zollicoffer (CSA) is killed. Overall, the battle is a Union victory. Principle commanders: General George Thomas (USA)/General George Crittenden. Union forces are now in a position to focus on Tennessee.


(1) timeline

(2)  Library of Congress timeline

(3)  Smithsonian Civil War Timeline

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

(5) University of North Carolina “Civil War Day by Day”

(6) The Lincoln Log timeline.

(7) The Burnside Expedition, by General Burnside.

(8)  The Blue and Gray timeline.

Categories: American Civil War

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