The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – October 14-20, 1863

Here’s a look at events in the Civil War 150 years ago this week. It was one of those quieter times overall.

Elections had been held, and the results were worrisome for US President Lincoln: “A number of Midwestern states conducted their elections for members of the United States House of Representatives today. Both North and South had an intense interest in these elections, for the same reason: a change in the makeup of the House could change the support of the Legislative Branch for the conduct of the War. The results seemed grim for Lincoln and the Republican Party, as the Democrats scored solid gains in the races in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania. The only source of support was, oddly enough, in Iowa, which voted solidly Republican. The shift was not enough to cost Lincoln his majority, but it was a source of hope in Richmond that perhaps the North was becoming tired of the war.” (9, including quote)

October 14

Battles: Tennessee operations: Wheeler and Roddey’s Raid. Skirmishes at Fayetteville, Tennessee (ongoing). (19)

Missouri operations: Shelby’s Raid. Skirmish at Scott’s Ford, Missouri. (16)

Click to enlarge.  (Bristoe Station)

Click to enlarge. (Source)

Virginia operations: Bristoe Station. (Also see below)

Military events: Virginia operations (sources 1, 20): General Lee catches up with Meade’s rearguard but the result is indecisive. After heavy fighting at Bristoe Station, during which the Confederates lose a man every two seconds, and also eventually lose 5 artillery pieces, the Federals withdraw to a position they can hold at Centreville. Per Lee,

[The enemy] was marching by a number of parallel roads leading directly toward Washington, while it was necessary for us to make considerable detours. We were consequently unable to do him any considerable damage, as his retreat was rapid. It is easy for him to retire under the fortifications of Washington and Alexandria, and we should be unable to attack him advantageously. It is impossible for us to remain where we are, as the country is destitute of provisions for men or animals, and the railroad bridges on this side of the Rappahannock (and I learn at the river) have been destroyed. The counties of Culpeper, Fauquier, and Prince William have been relieved for the time being, but when we retire may be reoccupied. Though the enemy has suffered less than I wished, some good may yet results from the fact of his being compelled to fall back before us.

Lee destroys more railroad bridges and completely ruins the railroad between Manassas and Warrenton to prevent more US incursions this year.

October 15

Battles: Siege of Charleston. The second voyage of the CSS Hunley ends in disaster, but the Confederacy decides to recover the ship for a third try against Union vessels in Charleston Harbor.

Missouri operations: Shelby’s Raid. Skirmish at Cross Timbers, Missouri. (16)

Other: President Lincoln discusses the political situation while visiting the telegraph office and works out figures that show the 1864 presidential election will be close. (5)

October 16

Battles: Missouri operations: Shelby’s Raid. Skirmishes at Johnstown, Deer Creek, and near and at Humansville, Missouri. (16)

Gulf Operations: Battle of Fort Brooke, Florida. (9)

October 17

Battles: Missouri operations: Shelby’s Raid. Skirmish in Cedar County, Missouri. (16)

Gulf Operations: Battle of Fort Brooke, Florida (ongoing). (9)

Representatives of DC Comics were also on board that train.

Representatives of DC Comics were also on board that train.

Military events: General Grant leaves Cairo for Louisville, Kentucky, meeting Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who boards the train in Indianapolis. Grant is ordered to take command of the Division of the Mississippi, comprising the Departments of the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee. (6, 7)

President Lincoln issues a proclamation calling for 300,000 volunteers. It also states that any state that doesn’t meet its assigned quota from the war department will have a draft to make up the difference. He also responds to a plea not to abandon East Tennessee from two concerned Knoxville citizens. (5)

October 18

Battles: Missouri operations: Shelby’s Raid. Skirmish at Carthage, Missouri. (16)

Gulf Operations: Battle of Fort Brooke, Florida (ongoing). (9)

Military events: Virginia operations. Lee returns to camp south of the Rappahannock, noting that the Federals are bringing forward supplies to rebuild the rail lines (per a Union quartermaster, 20 miles of track and the bridges will be rebuilt in 26 days). (20)

Chattanooga campaign: At Louisiville, General Grant assumes command of the Division of the Mississippi and replaces General Rosecrans (who is still hemmed in at Chattanooga) with General George Thomas, the “Rock of Chickamauga.” On taking over, Thomas says, “We will hold this town until we starve.” (6, 7, 9)

October 19

Battles: Virginia operations. Buckland Mills/Chestnut Hill. Young US General George Custer stems the US retreat and covers the Union cavalry as it crosses the Broad Run ford. (Source)

Chattanooga campaign: Grant places General Sherman in command of the Department of Tennessee before leaving for Bridgeport, Alabama, on the 20th. (7)

October 20

Military events: Chattanooga Campaign: General Grant, still suffering from his injury in New Orleans, is carried about a train bound for Chattanooga. (10)

General Grant's goal:  To relieve Chattanooga.  (NPS)

General Grant’s goal: To relieve Chattanooga. (NPS)


(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) The Western Gulf Blockade.

(9) Civil War Interactive.

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

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

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

(13) This Week in the Civil War.

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

(15) Friends of the Hunley.

(16) Shelby’s Raid (Official Records) Google Map of Shelby’s Raid, by “Border.”

(17) CWSAC Battle Summaries

(18) US Military Railroad, Chattanooga Campaign (Wikipedia)

(19) Wheeler and Roddey’s Raid (PDF), Tennessee State Library and Archives.

(20) “The Papers of Jefferson Davis: October 1863-August 1864.”

(21) The CSS Alabama’s Indian Ocean Expeditionary Raid (Wikipedia).

Categories: American Civil War

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