Here’s a look at events in the Civil War 150 years ago this week. The big question, of course, is what newly promoted General Grant will do now.
Grant is now in charge of all the US armies mentioned below.
Army of the Potomac/Army of Northern Virginia
In the eastern theater, while the US naval blockade of Confederate ports along the eastern seaboard (and in the Gulf of Mexico) is on and still active, as is the Siege of Charleston, land armies are in winter quarters after having battled late in 1863 during the Mine Run Campaign.
The US Army of the Potomac, under General George Meade, is at Culpeper, Virginia. The army’s main purpose is the defense of Washington, and General Grant is well aware that this leaves it vulnerable to political antics. (23)
(Edit: US General Butler is in charge of the Army of the James. It’s not a major force, but Grant must take Butler – a political general – into consideration, too. )
Army of Tennessee/Army of Ohio
The CS Army of Tennessee, in winter quarters at Dalton, Georgia, has rebuilt itself under General Joseph Johnston, as Grant learned recently by sending General George Thomas out against it in a reconnaissance in force, which was repulsed.
In Florida, US General Truman Seymour is holed up in and around Jacksonville after his advance was repulsed at Olustee, and the ports are blockaded by US warships, but the state still supplies Confederate forces (and parts of it offer refuge to deserters, which later inspired the 1955 movie Yellowneck).
Seymour’s losses in the recent campaign were high, and public opinion up north won’t support further Federal campaigns there.
Longstreet/US Army of the Ohio
Longstreet’s confidence has been shaken – perhaps this is why General Grant ordered General Thomas to leave East Tennessee and test General Johnston’s army in Dalton, Georgia, instead.
CS General Forrest/Sherman and Hurlbut
CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest has kept north central and eastern Mississippi in Confederate control and he is rebuilding his force after the battle of Okolona, having already a small force to Yazoo City in northwestern Mississippi.
Meridian is in ruins after General Sherman’s visit there with the Army of the Tennessee, and western and southern parts of the state are in Federal hands.
US General Stephen Hurlbut, up in Memphis and in charge of the right wing of the US XVI Corps, a/k/a the Right Wing (former units of the left wing having been assigned to other corps after the fall of Vicksburg), participated in the Meridian campaign and now wisely is keeping an eye out for more activity from Forrest.
The Army of Mississippi
CS General Leonidas Polk – who was greatly outnumbered and also suspected (correctly, I think) that Grant’s and Sherman’s ultimate goal in what became known as the Meridian campaign was Selma and perhaps even Mobile – withdrew from Meridian before Sherman arrived and now sits at Demopolis, Alabama, with the Army of Mississippi.
US Army of the Gulf/Army of Western Louisiana and Army of the Trans-Mississippi
In New Orleans, US General Nathaniel Banks is using the US Army of the Gulf to patrol the Mississippi River and parts of Louisiana that are not part of “Kirby Smithdom,” named after the Confederate commander of the CS Trans-Mississippi Department General Edmund Kirby Smith.
Banks is also preparing for an expedition up the Red River, sending some 30,000 troops against Kirby Smith’s second-in-command, General Richard Taylor’s 6,000 to 15,000 men of the Army of Western Louisiana (Kirby-Smith commanded the Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi.
General Sherman, now at Vicksburg, is supposed to join Banks for that campaign but will soon receive a different assignment from Grant.
(2) Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (2003 – see side bar for link).
(3) The Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. N.B. Forrest, and of Forrest’s Cavalry by Thomas Jordan, J. P. Pryor (1868).
(4) The Lincoln Log timeline.
(6) Grant Chronology, Mississippi State University.
(8) Life of Lieutenant-General Nathan Bedford Forrest, by John A. Wyeth (1908/2011).
(9) Captain Raphael Semmes and the CSS Alabama, US Naval Historical Center.
(11) The Siege of Charleston, “The State.” (South Carolina)
(13) The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War.” (2002) David J. Eicher.
(15) The Pictorial Book of Anecdotes and Incidents of the War of the Rebellion…, Richard Miller Devens (1866).
(16) Memoirs of W. T. Sherman – The Meridian Campaign.
(17) The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience During the Civil War. James G. Hollandsworth, Jr., 1995.
(18) A. Lincoln, A Biography, Ronald C. White, Jr. (2009)
(19) Red River Campaign, Encyclopedia of Arkansas.
(20) Red River Campaign, Wikipedia.
(21) Red River Campaign, Civil War Trust.
(22) Henry Halleck’s War: A Fresh Look at Lincoln’s Controversial General-In-Chief, by Curt Anders (1999).
(23) The Sword of Lincoln, the Army of the Potomac. Jeffrey Wert (2005)
(24) Memoirs of W. T. Sherman – The Meridian Campaign.
Categories: American Civil War