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

Here is a belated look at events in the Civil War 150 years ago, this week in October 1862.

The armies of the Potomac and Northern Virginia are quiet, resting and recuperating. In mid-Tennessee, General Nathan Bedford Forrest is busy training and organizing some 3500 cavalrymen. He does send some of them out on skirmishing and reconnaissance raids over the next two weeks, but it’s very small in scale, more like training than anything else. (4, 11)

In Kentucky, General John Hunt Morgan finally gets permission from General E. Kirby Smith to carry out a cavalry raid in Kentucky. (2) I could find nothing else: this is the week of John Hunt Morgan acting and Abraham Lincoln starting to rearrange his generals!

October 16

Military Events: General Ulysses Grant is put in command of the Department of the Tennessee, which extends from Cairo, Illinois, to northern Mississippi, bounded by the Tennessee and Mississippi rivers. (8)

October 17

Military events: Kentucky operations: General John Hunt Morgan and his cavalry leave Bragg’s main force and head west. (2)

Cavalry saber

Cavalry saber. (Scott Calleja)

October 18

Military events: Kentucky operations: Morgan’s Raiders attack the 4th Ohio Cavalry. “However, confusion reigned due to miscalculations in the timing of the attack, and elements of Morgan’s forces fired on each other. Ultimately, however, the enemy surrendered and the regiment continued westward to Elizabethtown, Greenville, and Hopkinsville, where they met with COL Woodward’s Kentucky Cavalry regiment.” (19) I think this might the “Battle of Lexington” noted for this date at the Blue and Gray Trail, source #6. According to the Lexington Rifles site, #19, the raiders reached the outskirts of Lexington on the 15th. They very well could have just rested and kept a low profile for a few days before attacking the US garrison on the way out of town, though I’ve found no mention of it with a quick Internet search.

October 19

Military Events: Kentucky operations: On or around this date, Morgan’s Raiders destroy a column of US supply wagons near Bardstown. (2) Meanwhile, General Bragg’s army moves south through the Cumberland Gap (its Union garrison had abandoned the position earlier). (6)

October 20

Military Events: Kentucky operations: Morgan’s Raiders hit Elizabethtown, looting the post office, some homes, stores, and some offices in the courthouse. They also steal some fresh horses and burn a L&N culvert, and then camp for the night on the Leitchfield Road. (2)

Without notifying General Grant, President Lincoln authorizes Grant’s former subordinate, General John McClernand, a political general from Illinois, to start organizing troops for an expedition against Vicksburg, Mississippi. Grant will request clarification of his authority, and General Halleck, who is also leery of McClernand, will reply that Grant has full control of all troops in his department. (3, 8)

October 21

Military Events: Kentucky operations: At around 3 a.m., a US troop train approaches Elizabethtown but is stopped by the burned culvert. Some 1800 men of the 92st Illinois infantry disembark and head on foot for the spot where Morgan and his raiders have camped. After a brief fight, the raiders mount and leave the area, heading for Tennessee. They will do little more damage, but Morgan plans to return. (2)

Lincoln on Mount Rushmore

Lincoln on Mount Rushmore (Aaron, Conspiracy of Happiness)


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

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

(15) Campaigns of the Civil War.

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

(17) Corinth Civil War timeline.

(18) Antietam timeline.

(19) The Lexington Rifles/1862.

Categories: American Civil War

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