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 AmericanCivilWar.com article about what happened during March 1862 in the west (to the Mississippi River)and the east (along the coast). 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.
West Tennessee and Northern Mississippi
From March 17 through the start of April, tens of thousands of troops and their supplies are in motion throughout the region by land, water and rail. Federal strategists want to cut the rail connection at Corinth, Mississippi. Their Confederate counterparts realize that they can not only defend Corinth but also liberate Union-held Tennessee by launching a preemptive strike before their enemies are ready to attack.
US General Grant is gathering at Pittsburg Landing the US Army of the Tennessee in six divisions*, led by generals Lew Wallace (yes, later, in New Mexico, he’d write Ben-Hur), W.H. L. Wallace, McClernand, Hurlbut, Prentiss and Sherman (whose troops are new recruits untested in battle).
US General Don Carlos Buell is on his way from Nashville to join Grant with another three divisions* from the Army of the Ohio. However, bridges at large river crossings have been destroyed, and Buell is delayed.
Meanwhile, at Corinth, Mississippi, Confederate generals Sidney Johnson and Beauregard have organized some 40,000 men, according to Jefferson Davis – some of them new recruits, others combat veterans – into four corps* under generals Polk, Braxton Bragg (the soldier they named Fort Bragg after), Hardee and Breckinridge.
*(Here is a look at army structure on both sides during the Civil War. There are also the Civil War orders of battle links in the side bar for more information. I haven’t included numbers since there these vary quite a bit depending on what source you’re using, and I’m not expert enough to choose any particular source for Shiloh’s numbers.)
Military events: “Hunting Jackson in the Shenandoah.” This Civil War Daily Gazette essay also gives more background information to activities in Mississippi and western Tennessee. (9)
Other: President Lincoln responds to a prominent New England Quaker who had written him suggesting direct negotiation rather than war: “Engaged, as I am, in a great war, I fear it will be difficult for the world to understand how fully I appreciate the principles of peace . . . Grateful to the good people you represent for their prayers in behalf of our common country, I look forward hopefully to an early end of war, and return of peace.” (6)
Military events: Shenandoah Campaign: US General James Shields, following General Nathaniel Banks’ orders, returns to Winchester, Virginia, after conducting a reconnaissance in force to Strasburg and finding Jackson gone. CS Colonel Ashby follows Shields. (3)
Battles: Burnside Expedition: Under orders from General Burnside to take Fort Macon so Federal forces can use the ports at Beaufort and Morehead City, US General John Parke starts by taking Carolina City. (2)
Military events: Shenandoah Campaign: Colonel Ashby tells General Jackson that US General Banks has left the valley (he has been drawn back to protect Washington during General McClellan’s upcoming campaign against Richmond). Ashby reports that only a handful of troops are in Winchester, when actually it is General Shields’ entire division. (3)
Battles: Burnside Expedition: General Parke takes Morehead City. (2)
Battles: First Kernstown. Jackson and his small force attack Shields’ division, commanded by Colonel Nathan Kimball, and are thrown back southward in the valley. It will be General Jackson’s only military defeat in the 1862 Shenandoah Campaign. Strategically, it is a success for it forces General Banks to return to the valley. (1, 3)
Burnside Expedition: General Parke takes Newport, North Carolina, and sends a message to CS Colonel Moses White, in command of Fort Macon, demanding the surrender of the fort. White’s reply: “I have the honor to decline evacuating Fort Macon.” Parke lays siege to the fort. (2, 8)
Island No. 10: Flag Officer Foote’s gunboats have remained inactive, despite US General Pope’s constant clamor for him to run the river past Island No. 10, so Pope orders Colonel Bissell and the Engineering Regiment of the West to clear a path for Foote’s gunboats and troop transports across the flooded Missouri peninsula. (11)
Military events: General Sidney Johnston’s army arrives in Corinth, Mississippi, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. (8)
Battles: Siege of Fort Macon: Beaufort falls to General Parke, and Fort Macon is now isolated from other Confederate forces. (2)
Military events: New Mexico: CS General Sibley has sent 200-300 Texans under Colonel Charles Pyron to the Glorieta Pass. They are encamped at Johnson’s Ranch, at one end of the pass. US Major John Chivington is leading more than 400 men toward the pass.
(1) AmericanCivilWar.com timeline
(2) Wikipedia: “Siege of Fort Macon”
(3) Encyclopedia Virginia: “The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862”
(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) Blue and Gray Timeline.
(9) Civil War Daily Gazette timeline.
(10) Grant Chronology, Mississippi State University.
(12) “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government” (Vol. II), Jefferson Davis.
Categories: American Civil War