The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – February 4-10, 1863

Here is a look at events in the Civil War this week in February.

Of note, Time-Warner Cable here in the Albany, NY, area is having some sort of slow-down – I can get online but can’t get into a number of my usual source sites (although some others are fine). Will update this post after better service is restored.

(Edit:  February 10, 2013 – Have made just a couple of updates, in February 5, 7 and 9, as well as updating throughout with notes from the Lincoln Log, #5 below.)

Col. Wilson was the US Army's chief topographical engineer; this is one of his maps of the Yazoo Pass area. (Source)

Col. Wilson was the US Army’s chief topographical engineer; this is one of his maps of the Yazoo Pass area. (Source)

February 4

Military events: Mississippi Operations/Vicksburg: Yazoo Pass: US Col. James Harrison Wilson and his men blow up the levee at the Pass. Wilson tells Grant of “the water pouring through like nothing else I ever saw except Niagara Falls. Logs, trees, and great masses of earth were torn away with the greatest ease. The work is a perfect success,” though it will be several days before the floodwaters reach a level that will allow Wilson and his men to continue on.

Meanwhile, as the Federals maneuver carefully through the levee gap and explore possible avenues to bring ships downstream, local Confederates, aware of Grant’s expedition, are busy felling trees and creating other obstacles to passage.

Things are also looking good for Grant on the Louisiana side of the river, where his troops are digging a canal from Lake Providence to the mouth of the Red River to bypass Vicksburg’s batteries. General Grant orders boats and troops to moved to both areas. (21, 22)

Tennessee operations: CS Generals Forrest and Wheeler and their cavalry resume their march back to Columbia, but are forced to detour to avoid a Union infantry/cavalry force lead by US General Jefferson C. Davis. (23) (Update: See February 14, 1863, onward, for more details on the Confederate cavalry’s return to Columbia from source 4; this actually seems to have been a pursuit.)

Virginia operations/Mosby’s Raiders:

Fauquier Co., Va., 1
Feb. 4, ’63.

I have been in this neighborhood over a week. Have had a gay time with the Yankees. Have captured twenty-eight Yankee cavalry, twenty-nine horses. . . . I have 15 men with me . . . Fount Beattie was captured by the Yankees, – his horse fell with him. There were over two hundred Yankees. The Yankees set what they thought was a sure trap to catch me a few nights ago. I went into it and brought the whole of them off, – killed and captured twelve. . . .

— Col. John S. Mosby

Mosby returning from a raid - unknown artist (Source)

Mosby returning from a raid – unknown artist (from Mosby’s memoirs)

Battles: Skirmish at Batesville, Arkansas.

Other: President Lincoln hears of “some difficulty” (a race attack) in Baltimore. (5)

February 5

Military events: US General Hooker reorganizes the Army of the Potomac. Lincoln apologizes to one of the new Corps Commanders for being “a little cross in my late note to you.” (5)

Mississippi operations/Vicksburg: General Grant visits Lake Providence in Louisiana. (8)

Deserted winter quarters (Matthew Brady - National Archives)

Deserted winter quarters (Matthew Brady – National Archives)

February 6

Military events: Some units of the Army of the Potomac prepare to move out:

My dear Jane,

It appears that it is very nearly the last time I shall write you from this old cabin. I begin to like it and don’t want to part with it now, after living here so long, and having handled every timber of it. It has done us good service, and kept off many a cutting wind and pelting rain. We cannot think of leaving it to be desecrated by a rebel foot, and we will at last make of it a blazing pile. We have again received marching orders, must cook three days rations, take those inevitable 60 rounds of cartridges and be ready to march at a moments notice. The word now is that we are to Embark for Fort Monroe. It is supposed that Burnside has received the command of the department of Carolina, and wants his old 9th corps along with him. The whole thing is a guess: the only thing we know is that we are wanted to be ready at a moments notice. The weather is terrible . . . Three men of the 29th Mass encamped beside us froze to death . . . It has now been raining and sleeting for 36 hours. I have been on guard for 24 hours . . . .

W. Taylor (PDF)

February 7

Military Events: In order to increase the perceived threat to Richmond, US General Hooker transfers the Ninth Corps out of the Army Potomac to its own independent command at Newport News, Virginia. (16)

February 8

Other: US General Hurlbut bans the Southern-sympathizing Chicago Times from 16th Corps camps at Memphis. (21)

February 9

Military events: CS General Lee, probably still smarting from the loss of Special Order 191 on the battlefield a few months earlier, requests that all communications between his headquarters and the war department in Richmond be encrypted.

From Civil War Interactive: “Admiral Samuel F. DuPont, commander of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, was not a happy man. His displeasure was shared by the men of his command, largely because both they and their ships were short of fuel. Oil for machinery was in even shorter supply than coal for their boilers. The men rejoiced to see a ship that was to bring them sugar, coffee, dried fruit and other rations. It was, alas, a different ship and carrying only munitions, which they already had in abundance.”

February 10

Military events: South Carolina operations. Lincoln designates Generals Hunter and Saxton, and three civilians as persons authorized to select lands for government use within state of South Carolina. (5)

Other: The first fire extinguisher patent is issued to Alanson Crane of Virginia. (Wikipedia)

John Singleton Mosby (Photo-Cliff1066)


The error men make is in judging conduct in war by the standards of peace.
— John Singleton Mosby

This is a good reason for people of peace to always think hard – very hard – before letting slip the dogs of war, for these are not very easily called back in again.


(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 (2011).

(3)  Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (2003 – see side bar for link).

(4) The Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. N.B. Forrest, and of Forrest’s Cavalry by Thomas Jordan, J. P. Pryor (1868).

(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 (1999).

(8) Grant Chronology, Mississippi State University.

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

(10) The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America’s Most Reviled President, Larry Tagg.

(11)  The Memoirs of Colonel John S. Mosby.

(12)  Conquest of the Lower Mississippi.

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

(14) Major General John Alexander McClernand: Politician in Uniform, Richard L. Kiper.

(15) The Civil War and the Press, Sachsman et al.

(16) Civil War Interactive.

(17) Inside the Army of the Potomac, the Civil War Experience of Captain Francis Adams Donaldson, edited by J. Gregory Acken (1998).

(18) Mosby Heritage Area Association: Chronology of Mosby’s Life.

(19) Those Damn Horse Soldiers, by George Walsh (2006).

(20) Civil War Virtual Museum.

(21) Born to Battle: Grant and Forrest: Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga: The Campaigns That Doomed the Confederacy, Jack Hurst (2012).

(22) Yazoo Pass Expedition: Failed Attack on Fort Pemberton and Civil War Album page on the Yazoo Pass with direct source quotes.

(23) Life of Lieutenant-General Nathan Bedford Forrest, by John A. Wyeth (1908/2011)

Categories: American Civil War

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