The American Civil War 150th Anniversary: June 2-8, 1864

General Stephen Dill Lee, CSA.  (Image source)

General Stephen Dill Lee, CSA. (Image source)

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

Just as a note, two Confederate generals named Lee are mentioned this week. “Lee” always refers to General Robert E. Lee, while General S. D. Lee (distantly related) will always have his initials included.

Update on the Atlanta Campaign

General Sherman was busy this week, he tells us (note: Some dates are given differently further down, as per different sources).

General Sherman.  (Image source)

General Sherman. (Image source)

On the 1st of June our three armies were well in hand, in the broken and densely-wooded country fronting the enemy intrenched at New Hope Church, about five miles north of Dallas. General Stoneman’s division of cavalry had occupied Allatoona, on the railroad, and General Garrard’s division was at the western end of the pass, about Stilesboro. Colonel W. W. Wright, of the Engineers, was busily employed in repairing the railroad and rebuilding the bridge across the Etowah (or High tower) River, which had been destroyed by the enemy on his retreat; and the armies were engaged in a general and constant skirmish along a front of about six miles—McPherson the right, Thomas the centre, and Schofield on the left. By gradually covering our front with parapet, and extending to the left, we approached the railroad toward Acworth and overlapped the enemy’s right. By the 4th of June we had made such progress that Johnston evacuated his lines in the night, leaving us masters of the situation, when I deliberately shifted McPherson’s army to the extreme left, at and in front of Acworth, with Thomas’s about two miles on his right, and Schofield’s on his right all facing east. Heavy rains set in about the 1st of June, making the roads infamous; but our marches were short, as we needed time for the repair of the railroad, so as to bring supplies forward to Allatoona Station.

"Last fight of the Pennsylvania Reserves before the expiration of their term of service."  A. R. Waud (Library of Congress)

“Last fight of the Pennsylvania Reserves before the expiration of their term of service.” A. R. Waud (Library of Congress)

June 2

Battles: Overland Campaign: At Cold Harbor, where 59,000 Confederates are facing 109,000 Federals, the fight continues. Meade and Grant decide to attack Lee’s right flank, hoping to drive it back to the Chickahominy. However, some of the Union troops have marched all night and the attack is eventually put off until the 3rd. This allows Lee time to strengthen his defenses. He has also received 25,000 reinforcements, more than replacing his casualties since May 5th. (2, 20)

Military events: Alabama/Mississippi operations: CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his force camp 8 miles west of Russellville, Alabama, on the way to relieve CS General Roddey at Decatur. (3) Of note, Wyeth (8) says Forrest had been ordered by General S. D. Lee to raid the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad in middle Tennessee, in Sherman’s rear.

Other: General Rosecrans notifies US President Lincoln of a conspiracy by Order of American Knights, reputedly led by former Congressman Vallandigham (Ohio) and by C. Hunt, to overthrow the government. (4)

7th N.Y. Heavy Artillery near  Cold Harbor, Friday, June 3, 1864.  A. R. Waud (Library of Congress)

7th NY Heavy Artillery near Cold Harbor, Friday, June 3, 1864. A. R. Waud (Library of Congress)

June 3

Battles: Overland Campaign: Cold Harbor continues. The Federal attack begins at 4:30 a.m., with heavy casualties. By midday, Grant suspends the advance.

I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made. I might say the same thing of the assault of the 22d of May, 1863, at Vicksburg. At Cold Harbor no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained. Indeed, the advantages other than those of relative losses, were on the Confederate side. Before that, the Army of Northern Virginia seemed to have acquired a wholesome regard for the courage, endurance, and soldierly qualities generally of the Army of the Potomac. They no longer wanted to fight them “one Confederate to five Yanks.” Indeed, they seemed to have given up any idea of gaining any advantage of their antagonist in the open field. They had come to much prefer breastworks in their front to the Army of the Potomac. This charge seemed to revive their hopes temporarily; but it was of short duration. The effect upon the Army of the Potomac was the reverse.

– General Grant, in his memoirs

General Lee in March 1864.  (Library of Congress)

General Lee in March 1864. (Library of Congress)

“Not a regiment, and that has been my condition ever since the fighting commenced on the Rappahannock. If I shorten my lines to provide a reserve, he will turn me; if I weaken my lines to provide a reserve, he will break them.

– General Lee, at 11 a.m. on June 3rd, when asked what his reserve is, if the Federals break through

Military events: Alabama/Mississippi operations: CS General S. D. Lee recalls Forrest to Tupelo to meet the Federal column under US General Samuel Sturgis. Forrest orders Roddey to send 1000 men by rail and then follow them with his other brigade as soon as possible. (3) General Grant orders that surplus troops in the West be used against Mobile. (6)

Atlanta Campaign: General Sherman’s cavalry secures Allatoona Pass. (22)

June 4

Battles: Overland Campaign: Cold Harbor continues, but no more assaults are made. Grant comes up with a three-part plan to cut Lee’s supply lines and flank him out of the trenches. In the Shenandoah, US General David Hunter is to move up the valley (southward), cross the Blue Ridge Mountains and destroy the supply depot at Lynchburg, and then continue toward Richmond, destroying rail lines and the James River Canal on the way. General Phil Sheridan will head westward, linking up with Hunter and heading to a rendezvous point with the Army of the Potomac south of Richmond. Grant, in the meantime, will disengage from Cold Harbor, cross the James and take the rail hub at Petersburg, forcing Lee out into the open. (2)

General Grant, leaning over bench on the left, on May 21, 1864, at the Massaponax Church in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  (Library of Congress)

General Grant, leaning over bench on the left, on May 21, 1864, at the Massaponax Church in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. (Library of Congress)

Military events: Mississippi operations: Sturgis and his 13,000-man force are near Salem at midday. (3)

General Wade Hampton, III, CSA (Library of Congress)

General Wade Hampton, III, CSA (Library of Congress)

June 5

Battles: Overland Campaign: Cold Harbor continues, but no more assaults are made. At Piedmont, Virginia, General Hunter overruns a Confederate garrison and takes a thousand prisoners. Over the next several days, while moving from Staunton to Lexington, home of the Virginia Military Institute, partisans will heavily raid Hunter’s supply and communications lines. (2)

Military events: Mississippi operations: Forrest reestablishes his headquarters at Tupelo, Mississippi. The division of General Abraham Buford II arrives later in the day. Meanwhile, General S. D. Lee orders Major (?) Edmund W. Rucker, whose brigade is moving from Oxford toward New Albany, to put some of his men between Sturgis and Memphis while others capture Federal couriers and supplies; however, Rucker’s main force is to concentrate on Sturgis’s right flank. (3) Wyeth (8) says this all happened on the 6th.

General Phillip Sheridan (Library of Congress)

General Phillip Sheridan (Library of Congress)

Overland Campaign: Sheridan leaves Grant and heads on on a raid with 7,000 men. Lee responds by sending out 5,000 cavalry under General Wade Hampton III. (2, 25) Note: Source 6 says Sheridan set out on the 7th.

Atlanta Campaign: Sherman abandons his lines at Dallas and moves to the railhead at Allatoona Pass, forcing Johnston to follow him. Johnston digs in around Kennesaw Mountain. Heavy rain will limit Sherman’s ability to maneuver for several weeks. (22)

June 6

Battles: Overland Campaign: Cold Harbor continues, but no more assaults are made.

Atlanta Campaign: Sherman occupies Big Shanty Station. I’m not sure if this was a big battle. (7)

Arkansas operations: Battle of Old River Lake. (5)

Military events: Mississippi operations: While Generals Forrest and S. D. Lee confer at Tupelo, scouts report that Sturgis is at Ruckerville while Federal cavalry has hit the Mobile & Ohio Railroad and is moving toward Corinth. Assuming that Sturgis’s ultimate goal is to join Sherman, they order “all disposable forces to follow and harass the movement to the utmost.” (3, including quote)

Allatoona Pass during the war.  (Library of Congress)

Allatoona Pass during the war. (Library of Congress)

Atlanta Campaign: Per General Sherman:

On the 6th I rode back to Allatoona, seven miles, found it all that was expected, and gave orders for its fortification and preparation as a “secondary base.”

June 7

Battles: Overland Campaign: Cold Harbor continues, but no more assaults are made. Grant and Lee agree to a truce to allow time to remove the surviving wounded and to bury the dead. (20)

Military events: Mississippi operations: Rucker’s Brigade, after crossing the Tallahatchie at New Albany, tangles with Federal cavalry, chasing them for two miles before darkness puts an end to the affair. (3) However, Wyeth (8) gives a different account, saying that Rucker was under orders to “feel” the enemy’s movement and to avoid engagement, and that he kept the Federal cavalry “at arm’s-length” until reporting to Forrest on the 9th. Per Wyeth, Sturgis reaches Ripley, Mississippi, today.

Other: The Republican (National Union) Convention meets in Baltimore. (5, 18)

June 8

Battles: Overland Campaign: Cold Harbor continues, but no more assaults are made.

Military events: Mississippi operations: Generals S. D. Lee and Forrest establish their headquarters at Baldwyn, Mississippi. Sturgis’s main force is still near Ruckerville, trying to cross the flooded Hatchie River, and so Rucker is ordered to take the Federal right flank, maintaining constant communication with S. D. Lee and Forrest. (3) Wyeth (8) has Forrest at Booneville, on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad.

Atlanta Campaign: Per General Sherman:

General Blair arrived at Acworth on the 8th with his two divisions of the Seventeenth Corps—the same which had been on veteran furlough—had come up from Cairo by way of Clifton, on the Tennessee River, and had followed our general route to Allatoona, where he had left a garrison of about fifteen hundred men. His effective strength, as reported, was nine thousand. These, with new regiments and furloughed men who had joined early in the month of May, equaled our losses from battle, sickness, and by detachments; so that the three armies still aggregated about one hundred thousand effective men.

Other: At their convention, Republicans nominate Abraham Lincoln for president and Andrew Johnson for vice president. Lincoln has spent most of the day in the War Department, on the telegraph with General Grant, and only learns of the nomination later in the afternoon. (4, 5, 18)

Soldiers rob a bank in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. General John Hunt Morgan, now in command of the Military Department of Southwest Virginia, will spend the summer defending himself from charges of not investigating the $72,000 robbery. Morgan’s men have been raiding East Tennessee and Kentucky, “essentially pillaging and inflicting numerous civilian casualties.” (24, including quote)
 

"Grand national union for 1864. Liberty, union and victory" (Library of Congress)

“Grand national union for 1864. Liberty, union and victory” (Library of Congress)


 
 


Sources:

(1) The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

(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.

(5) Blue and Gray Timeline.

(6) Grant Chronology, Mississippi State University.

(7) Civil War Interactive.

(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.

(10) This Week in the Civil War.

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

(12) CWSAC Battle Summaries

(13) The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War.” (2002) David J. Eicher.

(14) A Brief Naval Chronology of the Civil War (1861-65).

(15) The Pictorial Book of Anecdotes and Incidents of the War of the Rebellion…, Richard Miller Devens (1866).

(16) Memoirs of W. T. Sherman

(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) Confederate Strategy, Fort Tyler Association.

(20) The Sword of Lincoln, the Army of the Potomac. Jeffrey Wert (2005)

(21) Black Artillerymen from the Civil War through World War I (PDF), Roger D. Cunningham.

(22) The Atlanta Campaign. New Georgia Encyclopedia.

(23) The Overland Campaign. Civil War Trust.

(24) John Hunt Morgan. Encyclopedia of Alabama.

(25) Battle of Trevillian Station, Wikipedia.



Categories: American Civil War

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