The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – August 13-19, 1862

Here is a belated look at events of the Civil War 150 years ago, this week in August.

Lee and his generals

Lee and his generals (Library of Congress)

August 13

Military Events: Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: With McClellan’s Army of the Potomac leaving the peninsula and Pope’s Army of Virginia having received a setback at Cedar Run, General Lee can now make some strategic moves. He orders General Longstreet to take 4 divisions and reinforce General Jackson (recent research indicates Longstreet’s troops may have begun moving earlier, on the 9th or 10th). General Stuart is also ordered to take his cavalry to Gordonsville, and Lee orders General Hood’s division to Hanover Junction. (11, 14)

Confederate Heartland Offensive: After CS General Morgan’s successful attack on the Twin Tunnels, US Colonel Miller travels to the Pilot Knob Bridge with an infantry brigade and an artillery battery. They attack Morgan’s rearguard, killing 3 Confederates, and enter Gallatin, warning the citizens not to help the rebels. Then they return to Pilot Knob and take the train back to Nashville. Meanwhile, L&N work crews reach the Twin Tunnels but the rock is too hot for them to do any repair work. Then Morgan’s cavalrymen arrive and drive them off. (2)

Other: Two steamers carrying Union wounded and convalescent troops collide on the Potomac, with 73 fatalities. (13)

August 14

Military Events: Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: General Lee leaves three divisions to protect Richmond and goes to Gordonsville with the rest of his army to join Jackson. Now that Lee has concentrated his army against Pope in the area of Gordonsville, some 30,000 troops are all that protect Richmond from McClellan’s 81,000-man Army of the Potomac. McClellan likes the odds and travels to Fortress Monroe to personally beg General Halleck to let him relieve General Pope by attacking Richmond. Halleck’s reply: “There is no change of plans! You will send up your troops as rapidly as possible.” (14 16)

Generals Halleck and McClellan

Major Genl. Henry W. Halleck General in chief of the armies of the U.S. July 1862. (Currier & Ives, 1862, by way of the Library of Congress)

Confederate Heartland Offensive: L&N work crews return to work with a military escort and start repairing bridges. Morgan’s men attack again, killing a carpenter and chasing the rest down toward Nashville, not to return. (2) General Nathan Bedford Forrest returns to his cavalry unit in Sparta, having been promoted by General Bragg in Chattanooga. The Federal cavalry in pursuit of Forrest’s cavalry is also near Sparta, and there are daily skirmishes over the next several days as Forrest begins to shift his force first to Smithville and then to Woodbury, in the Federal rear. (4) Meanwhile, having sent a large force to watch the Union garrison at the Cumberland Gap, CS General Kirby Smith heads north from Chattanooga with the 12,000-man Army of East Tennessee. (18)

Emancipation: Although he has the Emancipation Proclamation waiting for the next Union battlefield victory, President Lincoln proposes to the “Deputation of Negroes” he has invited to the White House that blacks living in America could voluntarily relocate to a Central American country, explaining, “You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but, this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word we suffer on each side.” (5) “The delegation withdrew, and we are unable to discover any information regarding the reply. Evidently the group of men never returned to make reply to the appeal of the President.” (Source.) However, the Lincoln Log reports that the group’s chairman, E. M. Thomas, was again interviewed on the 17th or 18th.

August 16

Military Events: Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: CS General Anderson’s division leaves Drewry’s Bluff to join Longstreet. Richmond is now guarded by only two divisions. Lee in the meanwhile, at Gordonsville, receives word that 100 Union troop ships have sailed down the James River. It is unclear whether this report was true, but in any case, Lee is concerned that McClellan will be uniting his army with Pope’s and therefore decides to attack Pope on the 18th. (14)

Carter Stevenson after the war

Carter Stevenson after the war. (Library of Congress)

Confederate Heartland Offensive: US General Buell orders General William “Bull” Nelson to assume command of Federal forces in Kentucky. (6) CS General Carter Stevenson and 8,000 men of General Kirby Smith’s army appear at the Cumberland Gap, which has been in Union hands since June. Meanwhile, Kirby Smith and the remainder of his army are advancing through the Cumberland Mountains toward Barbourville, Kentucky. (6, 18) From Alabama, US General Buell telegraphs General Halleck: “Kirby Smith is advancing into Kentucky by the gaps west [of] Cumberland Gap with some 12,000 or 15,000 men,” adding that he has requested troops from a number of sources and is awaiting the units General Grant has sent him. (7)

General McClellan completes his withdrawal from Harrison’s Landing to Aquia Creek. (13)

Other: US General Charles P. Stone is released from prison in New York. (6)

August 17

Military Events: Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: General J.E.B. Stuart assumes command of the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. (6)

Confederate Heartland Offensive: Morgan cuts the telegraph lines along the L&N Railroad. (2)

August 18

Military Events: Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: Union cavalrymen nearly capture General Jeb Stuart and do get Stuart’s hat and his copy of Lee’s orders to attack Pope’s army. Pope falls back to the Rappahannock line, and Lee cancels the attack. Pope now knows that Lee has concentrated most of the Army of Northern Virginia against him. (14)

Confederate Heartland Offensive: A three-day Union raid along the L&N Railroad sets out today aiming for Pilot Knob, Drake’s Creek, Manscoe Creek, Edgefield Junction, and the Hartsville Road near Gallatin. A similar mission is launched in northern Mississippi from Rienzi through the Marietta area. (13) Meanwhile, General Halleck telegraphs General Buell that some of the requested troops are on the way, and adds “So great is the dissatisfaction here at the want of energy and activity in your district, that I was this morning notified to have you removed. I got the matter delayed until we could hear further of your movements.” Buell immediately replies: “My movements have been such as the circumstances seemed to me to require. I beg that you will not interpose on my behalf; on the contrary, if the dissatisfaction cannot cease on grounds which I might think be supposed if not apparent, I respectfully request that I may be relieved. My position is far too important to be occupied by any officer on sufferance. I have no desire to stand in the way of what may be deemed necessary for the public good. . . .” (7)

General Buell

General Buell (Library of Congress). We will hear more from him during the war, but he eventually left the army and became a mathematician. Can’t really blame him.

Battles: Clarksville, Tennessee: Clarksville and Fort Defiance are captured by Confederate cavalry, guerrillas and local citizens. I put this under Battles, although it’s not clear whether a shot was even fired in pitched battle; there had been a lot of guerrilla activity in the area since July, though. Anyway, the Union commander later was cashiered for surrendering. (6)

Confederate guerrillas capture and burn two steamboats on the Mississippi River. (8)

August 19

Military Events: Manassas/Second Manassas Campaign: The first units of the Army of the Potomac – General Fitz-John Porter’s corps and General Samuel Heintzelman’s corps, at Fortress Monroe, embark on ships for Aquia Creek. Both corps will be immediately sent forward to join Pope when they arrive over the next couple of days. (14)

By nightfall, all of Pope’s army is behind the Rappahannock with its left at Kelly’s Ford and its right some 3 miles above Rappahannock Station, where Union forces can still hold the O&A railroad and Lee’s forces can’t get through to block reinforcement from Aquia Creek. Lee decides to move northward along the Rappahannock’s southwestern bank to draw Pope further from Aquia Creek. (7, 11)

Confederate Heartland Offensive: In retaliation for Morgan’s attack on the civilian L&N railroad workers, US Colonel Horace H. Heffen leads 300 soldiers to Gallatin and arrests every male in the town 12 and older, and then leads them down the rail line back toward Nashville. About three hours later, around midnight, news of this reaches General Morgan, who sends Captain J. B. Hutcheson ahead to burn the Sandersville trestle, cutting off the Union force. Morgans starts off with the rest of his men for Gallatin. (2)

In Washington, Secretary of State Stanton assigns General Horatio Wright to command the Department of Ohio, including Kentucky. (7)

Emancipation: Horace Greeley’s antislavery editorial “The Prayer of the Twenty Millions” is published in the New York Tribune (read the whole thing, not overlooking Greeley’s casual mention of recent “anti-negro” riots in the North; anti-war Northerners, though Greeley called them “sympathizers” rather than “copperheads”; and Greeley’s own caution in addressing the role of freed slaves in the Union. Lincoln, who was indeed on a hot seat, will respond to this on the 22nd (the above link has both the editorial and the response) frankly in terms of his motivation. I have read historians’ take on this that Lincoln was using this response to prepare the public for the Emancipation Proclamation, but am more impressed on first reading it that he co-opted the slogan of the “copperheads” – “the Union as it was” – and put it into proper context.

(Note: I found the video below on You Tube and am in no way associated with whoever made it and also offers a video for sale at the end of this clip – it’s just a good clip in and of itself that shows Lincoln’s response to Greeley’s and that remarkable comment from a soldier at the end, taken probably from some Union soldier’s letters home.)


(1)  The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, the Official Records

(2)  Morgan’s Raiders and The L&N Railroad in the Civil War, by Dan Lee.

(3)  Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson

(4) The Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. N.B. Forrest, and of Forrest’s Cavalry by Thomas Jordan, J. P. Pryor

(5) The Lincoln Log timeline.

(6) Blue and Gray Timeline.

(7) Henry Halleck’s War: A Fresh Look at Lincoln’s Controversial General-In-Chief, by Curt Anders

(8) Grant Chronology, Mississippi State University.

(9)”The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government” (Vol. II), Jefferson Davis.

(10) Civil War Home’s “The Eastern Theater: 2nd Manassas, Antietam and Fredericksburg.

(11)  The Army of Northern Virginia in 1862, by William Allan (1892)

(12)  Conquest of the Lower Mississippi.

(13) Civil War Interactive.

(14) Chronology of the Second Manassas Campaign.

(15) A Year of Glory, August 1862, part I.

(16) The Strategy of Robert E. Lee, by J. J. Bowen (1914).

(17) Campaigns of the Civil War.

(18) Confederate Invasion of Kentucky, Late 1862 and The Battle of Perryville.

Categories: American Civil War

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