The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – July 8-14, 1863

Here’s a look at what was happening in the Civil War, 150 years ago this week.

"The pursuit of Gen. Lee's rebel army. The heavy guns - 30 pounders - going to the front during a rain storm." E. Forbes

“The pursuit of Gen. Lee’s rebel army. The heavy guns – 30 pounders – going to the front during a rain storm.” E. Forbes

For one thing, the Gettysburg campaign was not yet over.

Since July 4th, the Army of Northern Virginia had been moving southwest towards Hagerstown and Williamsport, Maryland, screened by General JEB Stuart’s cavalry and pursued cautiously by US infantry. On the 7th, the men in gray managed to stop US General Buford’s cavalry from destroying their supply trains. US General Kilpatrick drove two Confederate brigades through Hagerstown but was then fought off by General Stuart. General Lee, in the meantime, reached the rain-swollen Potomac but could not cross because his pontoon bridges had been destroyed. The Southerners were forced to wait for the floodwaters to recede. (23)

"Thank you."

“Thank you.”

And in Tennessee, US General Rosecrans was feeling unappreciated. US Secretary of War Stanton had sent him a telegram that said, in part:

Lee’s army overthrown; Grant victorious. You and your noble army now have the chance to give the finishing blow to the rebellion. Will you neglect the chance?

Rosecrans shot back:

You do not appear to observe the fact that this noble army has driven the rebels from Middle Tennessee. … I beg in behalf of this army that the War Department may not overlook so great an event because it is not written in letters of blood.

Well said, sir.

However, this week, President Lincoln will write a remarkable letter to General Grant, saying, “I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.”

July 8

Military events: Mississippi operations: Siege of Port Hudson. Port Hudson surrenders unconditionally, giving the Union control of the Mississippi River and cutting the Confederacy in two. However, guerrilla warfare, sniping and occasional mortar fire in the area will not be completely suppressed for the remainder of the war. (6, 10, 12, 27, 28)

Morgan’s Great Raid: Morgan and his men begin crossing the Ohio River, despite having no permission from General Bragg to do so. Indiana home guards and the US Navy attempt unsuccessfully to stop the crossing. (2, 22)

July 9

Battles: Gettysburg campaign: Skirmish at Beaver Creek, Maryland. (27)

Mississippi operations: General Sherman begins the siege of Jackson.

Morgan’s Great Raid: The Battle of Corydon.

Military events: South Carolina operations: The mayor of Charleston warns the people of South Carolina that US forces are going to attack Morris Island, key to Charleston Harbor’s defense. (12, 27)

July 10

Battles: Gettysburg campaign: There is skirmishing near Hagerstown, Jones’s Crossroads, Funkstown, Old Antietam Forge and Clear Spring, Maryland. Heavier action occurrs at Falling Waters, Maryland. (27)

Mississippi operations/Siege of Jackson: The Union army is in position around Jackson. (25)

An unidentified camp on Morris Island in July or August, 1863.  Library of Congress.

An unidentified camp on Morris Island in July or August, 1863. Library of Congress.

South Carolina operations/Charleston: US forces launch an amphibious landing on the southern end of Morris Island. By late afternoon the Confederates have been driven back to forts Wagner and Gregg. President Davis asks South Carolina Governor Bonham to dispatch local troops to Charleston. (21, 27)

Military events: Morgan’s Great Raid: The Confederate raiders capture Salem, Indiana, burn its depot and loot the stores. Lexington and Vienna are also captured and looted. Exaggerated reports of a 10,000-man Confederate force heading toward Indianapolis reach that city, putting an end to celebrations over Union successes at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Governor Morton telegraphs militia leaders and calls on them to assemble in Indianapolis to defend the state against Morgan’s troops. Some 60,000 Indiana militiamen respond and “swarmed out into the countryside to hinder Morgan in ways more commonly associated with the Confederates: sniping, felling trees to block the roads, and generally behaving like bushwhackers in an effort to slow Morgan down for the Union cavalry.” (2, including quote; 22)

Scene from battle of Jackson. A. E. Mathews

Scene from battle of Jackson. A. E. Mathews

July 11

Battles: Mississippi operations/Siege of Jackson: Sherman launches an attack that fails during the heaviest fighting of the siege. (25) Some say this happened on the 12th.

South Carolina operations/Charleston: US troops gain the parapet of Fort Wagner but are forced to withdraw under heavy fire. US General Gillmore has attacked without artillery support and decides to wait on the next attack until that support can be brought up. (21, 27)

Military events: Gettysburg campaign: General Lee entrenches a line to protect the river crossings at Williamsport, Maryland, and waits for US General Meade to bring up the Army of the Potomac. (23) Meade has been heavily criticized for waiting so long. “The criticism certainly started early: Lincoln was having a conniption fit, wanting Meade to pin Lee against the flooded Potomac River and destroy him. What everyone seemed to forget was that the same project had been tried the year before, after the Battle of Antietam, and the pursuing Union troops had been soundly defeated. Today, with the Army of the Potomac back in some semblance of working order, Meade began to move in pursuit.” (12, including quote)

Mississippi operations: General Grant orders troops to occupy Natchez. (7)

Morgan’s Great Raid. Morgan is heading northeast, roughly paralleling the right bank of the Ohio River. The Confederates attack Vernon but are driven off by Indiana militia, citizens and a handful of soldiers. More Hoosier militia companies depart Indianapolis by train, commanded by General Lew Wallace, and arrive at Vernon. Morgan’s troops burn railroad property and plunder stores and homes in Dupont and camp there for the evening. (2, 22)

Other: The first draft lottery of the new conscription bill is held in New York City. (31)

July 12

Battles: Mississippi operations/Siege of Jackson.

Louisiana operations/Battle of Donaldsonville/Kock’s Plantation. (6)

Gettysburg campaign/Williamsport: General Meade probes the Confederate line. (23)

Military events: Morgan’s Great Raid. The raiders leave Dupont as Federal cavalry and mounted members of the 103rd Regiment Indiana Militia arrive at Dupont. (22)

General Meade's army charges from the left on the 14th.  Not shown on the right:  The Army of Northern Virginia.  Library of Congress

General Meade’s army charges in from the left on the 14th. Not shown on the right: Most of the Army of Northern Virginia. CS General Heth’s troops are there as a rearguard. Library of Congress

July 13

Battles: Gettysburg campaign/Williamsport: Skirmishing is heavy all along the line between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac. However, General Meade, ever cautious, plans his main attack for the next day. The flood level in the Potomac lowers and General Lee and his men escape to safety in Virginia, across the river, overnight. (23, 27)

Mississippi operations/Siege of Jackson. Also, Yazoo City is captured after a hard fight, during which the USS Baron Dekalb is sunk by torpedoes.

Military events: Morgan’s Great Raid. Skirmish at the Whitewater River between Morgan’s men and pursuing US cavalry. The Confederates burn the bridge over the Whitewater River and escape into Ohio, where more than 50,000 Ohio militia have mobilized against them. Morgan is down to about 2000 men. (2, 22)

Mississippi operations: US troops occupy Natchez. General Grant sets up headquarters in Rosalie Mansion. (7)

Other: The New York City draft riots begin. At first the rioters only attack symbols of the act’s perceived unfairness: military and government buildings. They also first only assault those who try to stop them. “But by afternoon of the first day, some of the rioters had turned to attacks on black people, and on things symbolic of black political, economic, and social power.” (31, including quote) This timeline is from source 30:

Monday, July 13, 1863

The battle of the 9th District office: After a peaceful resumption of the lottery at 3rd Ave. and 46th St., the mostly Irish “Black Joke” fire company arrived, attacked, and destroyed the office. A mob of 10,000 that had gathered to protest the draft now swept down the East Side, tearing up telegraph lines and railroad tracks.

The battle of the State Armory:
All afternoon, the mob and the police vied for control of the weapons stored at 2nd Ave. and 21st St.

The destruction of the Colored Orphan Asylum: All 233 children were safely evacuated from the asylum at 5th Ave. & 43rd St. and taken to the police station on 34th St.

The battle of Bleecker and Broadway: Police drove the mob away from a possible attack on its headquarters at Mulberry and Bleecker streets. Directly across from the police building, St. Philip’s Church, the leading black Episcopal parish in the city, was desecrated after its use as a barracks for troops.

Defense of the Tribune: Two threats against the Tribune building on Park Row were thwarted over the course of the evening.

Attacks on colored people: Mobs assaulted blacks wherever they could be found — in tenement districts, on the streets, in restaurants and boardinghouses. The Colored Sailors Home on Dover Street was attacked. Police battled rioters at Roosevelt and Batavia streets (near where the Brooklyn Bridge approaches are today) around a mob bonfire. Blacks hid in police stations or escaped Manhattan by ferry.

July 14

Battles: Gettysburg campaign/Williamsport. US cavalry units approach the Confederate line from the north and east. CS General Heth’s rearguard is attacked, and 500 Confederate prisoners are taken. General J. Johnston Pettigrew is mortally wounded during the fight. (23)

Other: New York City draft riots continue. Timeline from source 30:

Tuesday, July 14, 1863

The West Side riots:
All through the day, small groups of rioters attacked blacks living and working in the West 20s and 30s. Many black people took refuge in the Church of the Transfiguration on 29th St. By late afternoon, the mob had constructed barricades along 9th Ave. from 36th to 42nd streets. Multiple assaults by troops dislodged the obstructions by midnight.

The battle of the Union Steam Works: All day, control of the building at 2nd Ave. and 22nd St., with its thousands of guns, swung between rioters and police. The building was set afire that night.

Hospital fears: White patients at the Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children demanded that black women be expelled, lest their presence incite an attack.

Protecting Wall Street: War veterans volunteered to garrison the financial district.

Attack on Brooks Brothers: One of the largest clothing manufacturers in the city, the Brooks’s building at Cherry Street was ransacked. Looting continued along Grand and Division streets.

Sorry about the ads, but this is still good:


(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)  Grant Chronology, Mississippi State University.

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

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

(10)  Conquest of the Lower Mississippi.

(11) Under Siege: Three Children at the Civil War Battle for Vicksburg, Andrea Warren (2009)

(12) Civil War Interactive.

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

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

(15)  Battle of Vicksburg. Civil War Home.

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

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

(18) Captain Raphael Semmes and the CSS Alabama, US Naval Historical Center.

(19) A. Lincoln, A Biography, Ronald C. White, Jr. (2009)

(20) The Civil War and the Press. Sachsman et al., 2000.

(21) Fort Wagner and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Civil War Trust.

(22) Morgan’s Raid Timeline, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park.

(23) The Siege of Vicksburg, Civil War Home.

(24) Battle of Williamsport, Wikipedia.

(25) The Jackson Expedition, Wikipedia.

(26) The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience During the Civil War. James G. Hollandsworth, Jr., 1995.

(27) This Week in the Civil War.

(28) Port Hudson Photo Album, Civil War Album.

(29) Gettysburg Campaign, Encyclopedia of Virginia.

(30) New York City’s Draft Riots. Learning Through History.

(31) The New York City Draft Riots of 1863. University of Chicago.

Categories: American Civil War

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