The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – October 21-27, 1863

Here’s a look at events in the Civil War 150 years ago this week.

Ron Cogswell (This is actually a Maryland reenactment, but I like the image's colors.)

Ron Cogswell (This is actually a Maryland reenactment, but I like the image’s overall color scheme.)

But first a little old business. As noted earlier this week, I missed the Confederate occupation of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, on June 23, 1863, and only learned about it when somebody searched for it here.

Thanks for the tip, unknown searcher!

Do please comment, everybody, if you can’t find something about the Civil War that you’ve heard or know about. I’ll be glad to look it up and add it, if possible, unless it happened in 1861 – I started this timeline late and did miss most of 1861, which will have to come as a postscript series after the main one ends in April 2015.

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

Also, I very much missed out last week on important events in the Knoxville Campaign – which certainly didn’t end when US General Burnside occupied the town, as I thought it had.

Knoxville Campaign update

Per source 18, after Chickamauga, Burnside had been moving south from Knoxville to relieve Rosecrans in Chattanooga. However, the massive troop movement from the Army of the Potomac via the US Military Railroad did that, and on September 29 Rosecrans told General-in-Chief Halleck back in Washington that he didn’t need Burnside’s men after all.

Burnside in the meantime was receiving reinforcements to protect his positions in the Knoxville area. The Battle of Blue Springs happened on October 10th – a Union victory.

That battle, with its one-hour artillery duel, wasn’t like this video from a 2007 reenactment, which is worth sharing anyway. It’s something different, and the costumes and the women’s hair styles are marvelous. There are moments where you feel that you’re watching people from 1863.



Meanwhile, in the real Civil War, CS General Bragg responded quickly to the loss at Blue Springs, sending two cavalry brigades toward Loudon to threaten Burnside south of Knoxville, and an infantry division under General Carter Stevenson to support the mounted troops. Stevenson commanded the entire force.

On October 20th, the battle of Philadelphia, Tennessee, began when elements of the Confederate cavalry attacked a small Union post at Philadelphia, six miles south of Loudon, while other cavalry circled around Philadelphia and captured a Federal forage train and 40 US soldiers. Outnumbered, the Federals manning the post withdrew toward Loudon.

Also on the 20th, the new overall theater commander General Grant urged Burnside to dig in and hold on to the territory he holds.

Now let’s pick up the timeline.

October 21

Military events: Knoxville Campaign. Federal and Confederate forces maneuver around each other in the Philadelphia, Tennessee, area. (18)

Western Gulf Blockade: The Confederate schooner Syrena is caught on a run from Biloxi to Pascagoula. (8)

Grant in his Chattanooga headquarters (National Park Service)

Grant in his Chattanooga headquarters (National Park Service)

October 23

Military events: Chattanooga Campaign: General Grant arrives in Chattanooga. He wants to attack General Bragg but must wait until his supply line is fully operational and reinforcements have arrived. (18) Grant approves a high-risk, high-reward plan to push troops into Lookout Valley before the Confederates do. These US soldiers can then link up with 15,000 more men coming in from Nashville under Hooker. Combined, these forces can open up the valley between Browns Ferry and Bridgeport, freeing up the river and allowing supplies to come to the starving forces in Chattanooga by water as well as overland. (7, 10)

Blockhouse on the Tennessee River during the war.  (Library of Congress)

Blockhouse on the Tennessee River during the war. (Library of Congress)

Knoxville Campaign. Shaken by the Confederate victory at Philadelphia, General Burnside arrives in Loudon to reassess his defenses. When he hears reports that Bragg may be sending two more divisions (just one is on the way), he decides to abandon Loudon and withdraw to the north side of the Tennessee River, taking whatever civilians wish to accompany the army. Grant, unable to help Burnside yet, accepts Burnside’s new plan as the best under the circumstances. (18)

October 24

Battles: Arkansas/Missouri operations: Shelby’s Raid. Skirmishes at Harrisonville, Missouri, and Buffalo Mountains, Arkansas. (16)

Military events: Tennessee operations: General Sherman assumes command of the Department of the Tennessee. (7)

October 25

Battles: Arkansas operations: Little Rock Campaign: Battle of Pine Bluff. (6)

October 26

Battles: Arkansas operations: Shelby’s Raid. Skirmish in Johnson County, Arkansas. (16)

Military events: Chattanooga Campaign. Grant orders Hooker into Lookout Valley. (10)

Fort Sumter under fire:  The first known Civil War combat photo taken with the photographer (a Confederate) actually under fire from US ironclads in the fall of 1863.  (Library of Congress)

Fort Sumter under fire: The first known Civil War combat photo taken with the photographer (a Confederate) actually under fire from US ironclads in the fall of 1863. (Library of Congress)

October 27

Battles: Siege of Charleston: A heavy three-day bombardment of Fort Sumter – the heaviest during the siege – begins. (6)

Chattanooga Campaign: Under cover of darkness, Federal troops and pontoons float down the Tennessee River to Browns Ferry. (6)

Military events: Knoxville Campaign. A division under CS General Cheatham arrives to reinforce General Stevenson. The Federal withdrawal north of the river gives the Confederates more room for foraging. (18)


(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) 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]

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

Categories: American Civil War

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