The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – September 2-8, 1863

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

I goofed last week and included September 2 then – it really should have ended at September 1. Will just go with it and get back on the Monday through Sunday (2013) schedule again.

"The War in Tennessee--Union pickets approached by Rebels in cedar bushes near Chattanooga / from a sketch by our artist, C.E.F. Hillen." (Library of Congress)

“The War in Tennessee–Union pickets approached by Rebels in cedar bushes near Chattanooga / from a sketch by our artist, C.E.F. Hillen.” (Library of Congress)

US Generals Rosecrans and Burnside are making inroads in East Tennessee this week, but it’s too easy and US troops are constantly on the watch for CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry suddenly ambushing them.

Forrest, in the meantime, while covering the evacuation of Confederate troops from Chattanooga, comes “as near being in [two] places at once as mortal man ever did,” per Wyeth. (13)

September 2

Military events: East Tennessee operations/Knoxville Campaign: US General Burnside enters and occupies Knoxville uncontested (some sources say this happened on the 3rd).

Federal forces press Scott’s Brigade hard all the way from Big Creek Gap to Loudon. Scott’s rearguard delays US forces long enough for the rest of the Confederates to cross the river, and they set fire to the railroad bridge while crossing, thus severely hampering Burnside’s ability to link up with Rosecrans and supply his men from Chattanooga. (6, 20)

General Burnside telegraphs Rosecrans: “General Forrest crossed the Tennessee at this place. He was heard to say that he was ordered to Dalton.” Rosecrans immediately relays the information to General-in-Chief Halleck in Washington. Meanwhile, Federal troops report indications that Forrest is about to attack their supply train (not true). (13)

A section of the LaFayette Road in Georgia, three decades later.  (Library of Congress)

A section of the LaFayette Road in Georgia, some three decades later. (Library of Congress)

September 3

Military events: East Tennessee operations/Chickamauga Campaign: This night, CS General D.H. Hill begins the evacuation of Chattanooga with his corps, on the road to LaFayette, in northwest Georgia. (4)

General Bragg names Forrest commander of cavalry units north of Chattanooga. These include some of John H. Morgan’s men, and Forrest disobeys Bragg’s order to dismount the Kentuckians. (12) Skirmish at Alpine, Georgia. (23)

September 4

Other: In New Orleans to review US General Banks’ troops, General Grant’s horse is spooked by a trolley whistle and contact with the trolley, becoming uncontrollable. The horse falls, pinning Grant’s right leg. No bones are broken, but the pain is excruciating and massive swelling soon extends all through the leg and up to Grant’s armpit. He can’t even turn over in bed without assistance. (12)

General Burnside would have suppressed it all over again, had he known.  (Image source)

General Burnside would have suppressed it all over again, had he known. (Image source)

September 5

Military events: East Tennessee operations/Chickamauga Campaign: CS General Wheeler, in charge of cavalry units south of Chattanooga, has not been getting much information on US movements in the area. Bragg has been focused on US General Thomas Leonidas Crittenden, who is moving in from the north, but today he discovers that he is about to be flanked from the south by US Generals George Thomas and Alexander McCook. His information source? A captured copy of the Chicago Times!

Bragg orders a pullout from Chattanooga on the 6th. (12) Skirmishes at Alpine, Georgia, and Lebanon, Alabama. Destruction of salt-works at Rawlingsville, Alabama. (23)

Britain is building two Scorpion-class ironclads, known as Laird rams, for the Confederacy. They will be able to break the blockade. Today, the US ambassador in London tells Britain’s foreign secretary that if the rams leave port, “It would be superfluous in me to point out to your Lordship that this is war.” In view of the overall world political situation as seen from the UK, the British government will see to it that work on the rams ceases and the ships never reach the South. (6)



September 6

Military events: East Tennessee operations/Chickamauga Campaign: US General William. B. Hazen is anxious about a raid by Forrest. US Colonel Robert Minty and his cavalry brigade are notified that a raid by Forrest across the Tennessee is likely. A deserter from Forrest’s bodyguard and tells US forces that Forrest is up in East Tennessee.

None of these reports are true. As for the deserter, Wyeth says that “Forrest’s escort were picked men, selected for their devotion to him and their fearlessness, and were always ‘coming in’ [deserting] to give themselves up, with such ‘untruthful’ reports.”

Forrest is actually at Ringgold, Georgia, today, with Bragg’s right flank, but hears that General Stanley is making a move on the rail line that Bragg depends on for supplies. Forrest heads down to Alpine, Georgia, over 40 miles away, to meet him. (13)

In the meantime, General Bragg, uninformed about events in the field and getting conflicting reports from his scouts, calls off the withdrawal from Chattanooga. (12) Skirmish at Stevens’ Gap and Summerville, Georgia. (23)

South Carolina operations/Siege of Charleston Harbor: Knowing that they will not be able to withstand a Federal assault, CS General P. G. T. Beauregard orders Forts/Batteries Gregg and Wagner and Morris Island evacuated. It is done overnight.(6, 10)

The Cumberland Gap in Tennessee, 1862 (Library of Congress)

The Cumberland Gap in Tennessee, 1862 (Library of Congress)

September 7

Battles: East Tennessee operations: The Battle of Cumberland Gap begins and continues through September 9th.

Military events: East Tennessee operations/Chickamauga Campaign: CS General Polk follows General Hill down the LaFayette Road with two divisions but halts at Lee and Gordon’s Mills where he is joined by General Simon Buckner’s corps, lately of Knoxville. (4)

US General George D. Wagner tells General Rosecrans that Forrest has gone in the direction of Rome – this is actually true. Forrest is moving toward Alpine and Rome to head off a large cavalry force under US General David S. Stanley. (13)

In Chattanooga, General Bragg calls his second council of generals in five days. No decisions are made in the council, and Bragg again orders his generals south. (12) Skirmishes at Summerville, Georgia; Stevenson, Alabama; and Lookout Valley, Tennessee. (23)

South Carolina operations/Siege of Charleston Harbor: “Poor old Fort Sumter had definitely seen better days. Admiral John A. B. Dahlgren sailed by it today and said it looked ‘from seaward…rather that of a steep, sandy island than ..a fort.’ Dahlgren was greatly relieved to find that what had been expected to be a bitter and bloody battle for Battery Wagner and Battery Gregg had turned into a simple occupation of Morris Island when it was discovered the batteries had been evacuated overnight. He did perhaps get a bit carried away, though, when he sent a message to Beauregard in Charleston, in which he demanded that Sumter be likewise surrendered. Beauregard wrote back, formally declining this invitation and then, somewhat sardonically, suggesting that Dahlgren was invited to ‘…take it if he could.'” (10, including quote)

"Disabling and Capture of the Federal Gunboats 'Sachem' and 'Clifton' in the Attack on Sabine Pass, Texas, September 8th, 1863" (Source)

“Disabling and Capture of the Federal Gunboats ‘Sachem’ and ‘Clifton’ in the Attack on Sabine Pass, Texas, September 8th, 1863” (Source)

September 8

Battles: Texas operations: The Second Battle of Sabine Pass.

Military events: East Tennessee operations/Chickamauga Campaign: General Forrest arrives in Alpine. At an undesignated date around this time, General Stanley reaches the Alpine area and finds Generals Forrest, Wheeler, Martin and Wharton, along with many, many Confederate soldiers waiting for him. General Stanley withdraws. Forrest tells Wheeler, “If I hear nothing of the enemy today, I shall cross the mountain and get in their front. If the enemy do not advance on us we must move on them.” (13, including quote) However, he receives orders from General Bragg to cover Rome, Georgia. (12) Skirmish at Winston’s Gap, Alabama. (23)


This is the first I’ve heard about this documentary…am going to try to track it down.


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

(2)  Morgan’s Raiders.

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

(9)  Conquest of the Lower Mississippi.

(10) Civil War Interactive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

(17) This Week in the Civil War.

(18) The affair at Jackson, Louisiana.

(19) The Siege of Charleston, “The State.” (South Carolina)

(20) The Knoxville Campaign: Burnside and Longstreet in East Tennessee, Earl J. Hess (2012) [Note: The dating is difficult to follow in this source, though it’s excellent for details…Barb]

(21) Friends of the Hunley.

(22) Quantrill’s Raid. The State Library of Kansas.

(23) The Chickamauga Campaign, Civil War Home.

(24) The Chickamauga Campaign, About North Georgia

Categories: American Civil War

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