The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – October 28-November 3, 1863

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

But first a note on General Nathan Bedford Forrest. No specific dates are found in my sources, but you may remember that after Chickamauga he was a very unhappy general and had resigned his commission. CS President Davis, who happened to be in General Bragg’s headquarters when the resignation arrived, refused to accept it and invited Forrest to meet with him in Montgomery in a few days to talk things over.

Forrest “had a prolonged, characteristic, and satisfactory conversation” with the president, and was promised to North Mississippi with whatever forces Bragg could spare; Davis also wrote a letter to General Bragg to this effect. Bragg then gave Forrest one battalion (about 310 men) and a battery of four guns.

Forrest probably spent the first half of November in or around Rome, Georgia, fitting out his new command and then sending everybody overland via Talladega and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Columbus, Mississippi, to their new base in Okolona. He himself went by rail via Selma, Alabama, where there were arms factories, and then Meridian, Mississippi, where he met and conferred with General Joseph Johnston. (4, including quote; 10)

Next week, we will start hearing more about this “micro-army” and the Federal response to news that Forrest was in the area.

October 28

Battles: Knoxville Campaign: Skirmish at Davis’s Ford. (18)

Siege of Charleston: Heavy bombardment of Fort Sumter continues.

The Wauhatchie bridge during the war.  (Library of Congress)

The Wauhatchie bridge during the war. (Library of Congress)

Chattanooga Campaign: At night but under “moonlight almost as bright as day,” General Longstreet launches an unsuccessful attack on an outpost of US General Hooker’s men halfway up Lookout Valley at Wauhatchie. (10, 18)

Military events: Chattanooga Campaign: With Federal control of Lookout Valley, US forces now can use Browns Ferry and a road across Raccoon Mountain to a ferry that can be reached by steam from Bridgeport. The “Cracker Line” is open, with the first badly needed supplies reaching the besieged city on the 29th. Hooker’s 15,000 men march into Chattanooga unimpeded. General Sherman is on the way from Memphis with 20,000 more troops. (5, 10)

Grant to General-in-Chief Halleck:

If the rebels give us one week more time, I think all danger of losing territory now held by us will have passed away.

Knoxville Campaign: Federal troops and some civilians abandon Loudon, Tennessee, and head for the north bank of the Tennessee River. US General Burnside continues to hold Kingston, at the junction of three rivers, and plans to patrol the area south of the Tennessee and east of the Little Tennessee to prevent Confederates from attacking Knoxville from the south. His men work on building bridges for ease of troop movement and also get started on winter quarters. (18)

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

October 29

Military events: Siege of Charleston: Heavy bombardment of Fort Sumter continues.

Military events: Tennessee/Mississippi operations: President Davis sends a letter to General Forrest, giving him the go-ahead to start operations in Northern Mississippi. (11)

October 31

Military events: Chattanooga Campaign: General Bragg reports to Richmond that General Longstreet’s command is being sent to Knoxville as soon as practicable. (18)

Western Gulf blockade: The British schooner Albert Edward is caught slipping out of Galveston with a load of cotton. (8)

November 2

Other: President Lincoln is invited to make “a few appropriate remarks” at the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg. (5, 6)

November 3

Battles: Tennessee operations: Colliersville/Memphis & Charleston Railroad.

Knoxville Campaign: Skirmish along the Little Tennessee. (18)

General Longstreet

Military events: Chattanooga Campaign: General Longstreet argues that the Confederate lines are too close to Chattanooga and recommends pulling the army back to a strong defensive position on Chickamauga Creek, with 20,000 men detached to take back Knoxville. Bragg rejects the plan, and intending to withdraw the two divisions already in the Knoxville region, tells Longstreet to take his two divisions (numbering less than 20,000 men in total) against Burnside. (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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