The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – July 15-21, 1863

Here is a look at what was happening in the war this week, back in 1863.

There isn’t much, nor will there be next week. The fall of Vicksburg and the outcome of the Gettysburg battle had altered everything. Perhaps many were still coming to grips with it all.

Very bad stuff was still happening in New York City, however.

July 15

Other: New York City draft riots (source 30):

Attack on the Arch: A group of black-occupied tenements on Thompson and Sullivan streets, between Grand and Broome, was set ablaze at 1:30 am.
Rewarding rioters? The City Council voted $2.5 million to pay the $300 commutation fee for any poor New Yorkers who were drafted.
West Side atrocities: At 6:30 a.m., James Costello was beaten and hanged on W. 32nd St. Neighboring black families were driven out of their homes. A crippled coachman, Abraham Franklin, was lynched at 27th St. and 7th Ave. His body was cut down, and he was dragged through the streets … .
Out-of-town news: Reports arrived of draft riots in Boston, Hartford, Newark, Jersey City, Hastings, Tarrytown, and Rye.
Red Hook fires: Two huge grain elevators at Erie Basin in Brooklyn were destroyed by arsonists.

July 16

Battles: Gettysburg campaign/Williamsport/Falling Waters. CS generals Fitzhugh Lee (Robert’s son) and John Chambliss hold the Potomac River fords against US infantry and attack US General Gregg. Fighting continues sporadically until nightfall, when Gregg withdraws. (24)

Mississippi operations/Siege of Jackson: CS General Joseph Johnston withdraws from Jackson, ending any threat to US forces in Vicksburg. (25)

Shimonoséki Straits, Japan: The USS Wyoming has been patrolling the seas, looking for the CSS Alabama. Today, for a number of local reasons unrelated to the war back home, the Wyoming will take on most of the Japanese navy and a number of shore batteries in the first US-Japan naval battle. (12)

Other: New York City draft riots (source 30):

The 7th Regiment returns: Troops experienced at riot control arrived at 4:40 in the morning.
Police escorts: Hundreds of black New Yorkers were ferried to refuge on Blackwell’s Island.
East Side battles: Munitions factories and dockyards were under continual attack, culminating in the afternoon battle of Gramercy Park with room-by-room fighting with insurgents. Downtown and the West Side remained quiet all day.
Late night quiet: Police patrols, though attacked by snipers sporadically, establish control of the East Side.

July 17

Battles: Honey Springs, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). (6)

July 18

Battles: South Carolina operations/Siege of Charleston. “The 54th Massachusetts, comprised primarily of free blacks from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, attack Battery Wagner in Charleston Harbor, losing 30% of their men and forcing Quincey Gillmore to lay siege to the city. The film Glory is based on this action.” (6, including quote) See note at end of this post.

July 19

Battles: Morgan’s Great Raid. Buffington Island. CS General Morgan loses half his force when they attempt to cross the Ohio River. (22)


This is a clip from near the end of the 1989 movie Glory, where they have breached the outer defenses of Fort Wagner.

It’s a plot spoiler and this particular action is extremely intense and graphically violent (the movie was rated R). And there are ads.

Skip it if you want.

I’ve included it for those who might want to see the whole movie, and also to set the scene for something very important that Glory, unfortunately, did not show.

You see, while all this was going on …

… in real life, Sgt. William Carney, USA, though shot in the leg, had reached the fort’s entrance and planted the US flag there. Unfortunately, everybody with him had either died or otherwise been put out of action, so he just stood there, hugging the wall for a half an hour or so while the battle raged.

Then he saw a unit approaching. He waved the flag to get their attention, and only when they fired on him did he realize they were Confederates.

Carney had to run for it. First, though, he wrapped the flag around its staff and then held it high as he struggled down the embankment and through chest-high water in a ditch.

As he ran, he was shot in the chest, the right arm, and the right leg.

Sgt. Carney kept moving, holding the flag high. A retreating New Yorker offered to carry the flag for him, but Carney told him, “No one but a member of the 54th should carry the colors.” (I like to imagine the Thomas character from the movie in this role.)

After one last wound (a bullet grazed his head), Carney finally got to some safe ground. He told his cheering comrades, “Boys, I only did my duty. The flag never touched the ground.”

Then he collapsed, but he did not die. He was still around, almost 37 years later, when they gave him a Medal of Honor for it in May 1900.

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

(This account comes from Sergeant Carney’s Flag at Home of Heroes.)


(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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