The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – October 22-28, 1862

Here’s a look at events in the Civil War 150 years ago this week in October 1862.

As a note to readers who have just joined us, these brief sesquicentennial summaries come out once a week, on Mondays, unless circumstances prevent it. For convenience, I follow our Monday-Sunday week, not the one for 1862.

Cohoes Music Hall

Cohoes Music Hall, formerly a bank during Cohoes’ Victorian heyday when the local mill turned Southern cotton into commercial fabrics.

This series began in 2011 after I looked at some of the 19th buildings where I’m staying for the moment, here in Cohoes, New York, and first began to seriously wonder what the war had been like.

It has evolved into something quite detailed, but probably a little difficult to follow, though I try to make it clear and entertaining.

I’ve learned that the people back then weren’t so different from us, deep down. For instance, we’re excited about the Net and other technology; they were giddy about the telegraph and railroads. Obviously, they had fundamental differences of opinion, just as we do today – but unlike us, they had a successful revolution to look back on and inspire them, not the bad example that resulted from their politics of destruction.

Those Americans, citizens of the USA and the CSA alike, unwittingly became the bad example that still keeps us relatively civil today. Still . . . as Six-Killer and his black/Cherokee US troops will show us down at the bottom of this post, just as individuals on all sides showed us throughout the conflict . . . there were some awesome moments. We are a fighting people.

But more on that, and something about a few of the personalities and situations I’ve gained insights on, in the end-of-the-year summary. Basically, I will use this series (which, of course, won’t end until the spring of 2015) as notes, to give me a grasp of the fundamentals before I tackle a serious source, probably Shelby Foote. Indeed, we have just now completed superficially the path his in-depth first volume followed, from Fort Sumter to Perryville.

Feel free to contribute comments, images and recollections! A few of the many interesting Civil War anniversary sites on the Web are also linked at the side bar, and from time to time I will try to add an extra post on a particular subject during the week.

October 22

Battles: Fort Wayne, Cherokee Nation (present-day Oklahoma).

October 23

Military events: General Halleck orders General Rosecrans to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he will receive orders to replace General Buell. General Buell’s firing isn’t a smooth, clear-cut procedure, but General Rosecrans does eventually replace him. Halleck tells Rosecrans to “drive the enemy from Kentucky; . . . take and hold East Tennessee, cutting the line of railroad at Chattanooga, Cleveland, or Athens, so as to destroy the connection of the Valley of Virginia with Georgia and the other Southern States. It is hoped that by prompt and rapid movements a considerable part of this may be accomplished before the roads become impassable from the winter rains.” (7, 8)

In what will soon be the US state of West Virginia, US cavalry skirmishes with Confederate pickets at Poca.

October 24

Military events: The 14th Corps, the US Army of the Cumberland, is created from the Army of the Ohio. (6)

George Gibbs Dibrell

George Gibbs Dibrell, during the war. In 1865, according to his his Wikipedia entry he became a general in the Confederacy.

Tennessee operations: CS General Nathan Forrest is busy raising cavalry troops and training them in the Murfreesboro area. During this week, he will order Colonel George Gibbs Dibrell on several occasions to take his regiment across the Cumberland and “to scour the country between Nashville and Gallatin, to harass or cut off Federal foraging parties, and to ascertain the truth of rumors in regard to the movements of a Federal relieving force.” (4)

October 25

Military events: General Grant assumes command of the 13th Corps and the Department of the Tennessee. (6) He alerts his forces for another Confederate move on Bolivar, Tennessee, or Corinth, Mississippi. (8)

October 26

Military events: General Samuel Heintzelman is put in charge of forces protecting Washington, replacing General Nathaniel Banks, who President Lincoln would like, for political reasons, to put in charge of a Texas invasion force. (7, 8)

Western Theater: General Grant requests reinforcements and proposed an advance down the Mississippi Central Railroad. (8)

Eastern Theater: Virginia operations: General McClellan moves on Lee, starting to cross the Potomac at Harper’s Ferry and Berlin with the plan of moving along the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains rather than in the Shenandoah Valley “because from the lateness of the season he no longer feared a counter move by Lee across the upper Potomac, and because this route was in accordance with the President’s wishes and would secure him the largest reinforcements.” (11) For at least one soldier in his army, marching orders come just about every day of the week, but his unit never sets off. In response to letters from his brother about General McClellan’s possible firing, he writes: “A change of commanders with us would be most disastrous at this time. You will find you are certainly mistaken. Please don’t allude to it again, it distresses me.” (17)

Dunker Church and dead

“Dunkers (i.e. Dunker) Church, battle field of Antietam. After battle, how dead were laid out.” (Library of Congress)

Other: In Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, we hear much about “God’s will be done” among Confederate officers, and this probably reflects the actual men’s beliefs; I haven’t read their papers or letters. However, today in the Lincoln Log, there is an entry from Abraham Lincoln after a prayer meeting was held in his office by an English Quaker woman:

I am glad of this interview, and glad to know that I have your sympathy and prayers. We are indeed going through a great trial—a fiery trial. In the very responsible position in which I happen to be placed, being a humble instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father, as I am, and as we all are, to work out his great purposes, I have desired that all my works and acts may be according to his will, and that it might be so, I have sought his aid—but if after endeavoring to do my best in the light which he affords me, I find my efforts fail, I must believe that for some purpose unknown to me, He wills it otherwise If I had had my way, this war would never have been commenced; If I had been allowed my way this war would have been ended before this, but we find it still continues; and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe, that he who made the world still governs it.

October 27

Battles: Georgia Landing, Louisiana.

October 28

Military events: Eastern Theater: Virginia Operations. Upon learning of McClellan’s movements east of the mountains, General Lee orders Longstreet to Culpeper Court House and transfers his own headquarters there, leaving Jackson in the Valley to watch the Federals and threaten their flank. The Confederate cavalry is kept east of the mountains to harass McClellan and watch his movements. McClellan is planning to seize and holds gaps over the mountains as he advances on Warrenton. (11)

Battles/Emancipation: The battle of Island Mound, Missouri begins. (Seriously, check that link out.)

A while back, I mentioned four regiments and four firsts for black Americans. Now we have the first known engagement of African American troops in combat. There are so many claimed “firsts,” but it seems to me it was just happening all over the place.

There are some insights through example about America today, as well as some good words about the Civil War war and the small battle of Island Mount in October 1862, in this five-part YouTube talk:


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

(14) Campaigns of the Civil War.

(15) Antietam timeline.

(16) The Lexington Rifles/1862.

(17) Inside the Army of the Potomac, the Civil War Experience of Captain Francis Adams Donaldson.

Categories: American Civil War

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