The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – November 4-10, 1863

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

But first, let’s look at a graphical representation someone put together of the time scale from the Civil War until now. (Here’s the original graphic – it goes all the way back to the Big Bang and possibly earlier!)

Even after scaling this down it’s huge, but it’s really interesting.


Time scale since the Civil War.  Click to enlarge and read.   (Source)

Time scale since the Civil War. (Source: wait but why)

Technology is wonderful, but it warps our ability to feel how close we are to earlier generations.

In case you can’t read that comment in the gray box, it says,

One thing that surprises me is how much closer a current 90-year-old’s birth is to Lincoln’s assassination than it is to the current day. To me, Lincoln’s presidency seems ancient, but it’s not actually that long ago.


Now, human memory and experience are long and lasting but consider this.

Last Thursday we watched a D. W. Griffith silent film about the Civil War that came out in 1910 (13 years before the birth of that current 90-year-old mentioned above), and it still is powerful. If they’d somehow managed to make a similar film in 1810 about the American Revolution or one of the big events of the early 1800s, would it grip us the same way? Would it even hold our attention?

I think not.

The basic structure of modern America is unique: It was first forged in the terrible smithies of Civil War and then quenched in a bath of constitutionalism that existed only because the Union – for many and complex reasons – had survived.

We are really commemorating our own rebirth during this Civil War Sesquicentennial.


Library of Congress.

Forces of US General Banks approaching Brazos Santiago by sea two days earlier. (Library of Congress)

November 4

Military events: Texas operations: Naval forces convoy and support some 7000 US troops at Brazos Santiago, Texas, where they take a valuable position on the Mexican border. As a result of this operation, Confederates will also evacuate Brownsville. (8)

Pacific Ocean operations: Captain Semmes of the CSS Alabama learns from Dutch sailors that the USS Wyoming, a small bark-rigged steam gunboat, is patrolling the Sunda Straits between Sumatra and Java. (12)

November 5

Military events: Eastern Tennessee operations/Knoxville Campaign: CS General Longstreet prepares his offensive against US General Burnside in the Knoxville area. His troops start moving out north by rail to Sweetwater but it proceeds slowly because there is one one railroad and two of Bragg’s divisions are moving south to Chattanooga at the same time. Meanwhile a deserter informs US General Grant about Longstreet’s departure. Grant decides to do something to force Bragg to recall the force. However, the US army in Chattanooga is so weakened from the long siege, Grant’s planned attack on Missionary Ridge must be canceled. Grant tells Burnside to instead stretch his men out and, if necessary, withdraw northwest to the passes between Kentucky and East Tennessee. (18)

The view from Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park today.  (Sonja)

The view from Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park today. (Sonja)

November 6

Battles: West Virginia operations: Droop Mountain. (6)

Military events: Pacific Ocean operations: By the time the CSS Alabama reaches the Sunda Straits, the USS Wyoming has departed, but the Confederate raider captures and destroys the bark Amanda, carrying a cargo of hemp and sugar. (12, 19)

November 7

Battles: Virginia operations: Second Battle of Rappahannock Station and Kelly’s Ford. (6)

Siege of Charleston: Heavy shelling of Fort Sumter once more begins. (6)

November 8

Battles/Military events: “The late-fall campaign in northern Virginia continued today with much marching, although not much in the way of pitched battles. Gen. George Meade was maneuvering across the Rappahannock with no particular offensive objective in mind except to force Lee to keep on the move as well. There were skirmishes at Jeffersonton, the familiar territory of Brandy Station, Warrenton, Rixleyville, Culpepper Court House, and the extremely well-named Muddy Creek. Weather is not our friend in Virginia in November.” (9, including quote)

November 9

Battles: Siege of Charleston: Heavy shelling of Fort Sumter continues. (6)

Edward Porter Alexander.  (Wikipedia)

Edward Porter Alexander. (Wikipedia)

Military events: Eastern Tennessee operations/Knoxville Campaign: General Longstreet reaches Sweetwater. Some of his troops are marching overland and the rest are still traveling by rail, slowly. His artillery force and chief of artillery Colonel Edward Porter Alexander (remember him from Gettysburg?) are still back at Tyner’s Station.

Longstreet learns that General Burnside has some 23,000 men defending Knoxville, so he is outnumbered – after all his men arrive there will only be 10,000 Confederate infantry and artillerymen, as well as 5,000 cavalry under General Joe Wheeler. General Bragg will send no more. Too, the Sweetwater area is about foraged out and the planned offensive must be delayed until promised supply wagons arrive. (18)

Other: US President Lincoln attends a play, The Marble Heart, starring John Wilkes Booth. (6)

November 10

Battles: Siege of Charleston: Heavy shelling of Fort Sumter continues. (6)

Military events: Eastern Tennessee operations/Knoxville Campaign: General Longstreet’s artillery moves out of Tyner Station by rail, heading for Sweetwater. (18)

Pacific Ocean operations: The CSS Alabama captures and burns the clipper Winged Racer, carrying a cargo of sugar, jute, hides and tobacco, in the Sunda Straits. (12, 19)


(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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