The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – June 16-22, 1864

General C. C. Washburn, USA.  Just because.  (Image source)

General C. C. Washburn, USA. Just because. (Image source)

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

CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest won’t be directly heard from for most of the week, although he was certainly in US General Sherman’s thoughts frequently. After Brice’s Cross-Roads, Forrest reestablished his headquarters at Tupelo; CS General Roddey went to Corinth, while Generals Rucker and Chalmers settled in at Columbus (3)

Per Jordan and Pryor, Forrest spent the next fortnight “looking into all matters of administration with his own eyes, with unremitting energy, press[ing] forward his preparations to meet any endeavor of the enemy.” He gathered intelligence, foraged, and actually built an infantry force out of the unhorsed men in his various cavalry units.

Meanwhile, in other theaters of the war…

General Nathan Bedford Forrest (Library of Congress)

General Nathan Bedford Forrest (Library of Congress)

June 16

Battles: Virginia operations, Siege of Petersburg: Second Battle of Petersburg continues.

Military events: Mississippi operations: Saying “We must destroy him, if possible,” US General Sherman tells Secretary of War Stanton that he is sending as large a force as possible after Forrest. (8)

Atlanta campaign: Per General Sherman (16):

On the 16th the general movement was continued, when Lost Mountain was abandoned by the enemy. Our right naturally swung round, so as to threaten the railroad below Marietta, but Johnston had still further contracted and strengthened his lines, covering Marietta and all the roads below.

General David Hunter, USA.  (Source)

General David Hunter, USA. (Source)

June 17

Battles: Virginia operations, Siege of Petersburg: Second Battle of Petersburg continues.

Virginia operations, Siege of Peterburg: Skirmish on the Petersburg and Richmond Turnpike. Source 5 mentions this but without details, and a Google search doesn’t bring up much detail, even in Official Records (the Source 1 OR search box isn’t working just now). Does anybody know more about this, and the exact dates? Dates given range from June 15 to June 18th.

Virginia operations, Hunter’s Raid: The Battle of Lynchburg begins.

Military events: Atlanta campaign: Per General Sherman (16):

On the 17th and 18th the rain again fell in torrents, making army movements impossible, but we devoted the time to strengthening our positions, more especially the left and centre, with a view gradually to draw from the left to add to the right; and we had to hold our lines on the left extremely strong, to guard against a sally from Kenesaw against our depot at Big Shanty. Garrard’s division of cavalry was kept busy on our left, McPherson had gradually extended to his right, enabling Thomas to do the same still farther; but the enemy’s position was so very strong, and everywhere it was covered by intrenchments, that we found it as dangerous to assault as a permanent fort. We in like manner covered our lines of battle by similar works, and even our skirmishers learned to cover their bodies by the simplest and best forms of defensive works, such as rails or logs, piled in the form of a simple lunette, covered on the outside with earth thrown up at night.

General Jubal Early, CSA.  (Source)

General Jubal Early, CSA. (Source)

June 18

Battles: Virginia operations, Hunter’s Raid: The Battle of Lynchburg ends. Hunter decides to withdraw into West Virginia rather than risk moving down the valley (northward) surrounded by guerrillas and with Early behind him. The Shenandoah now is open for Confederate use and Lee authorizes Early to use it, as General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson had earlier, to threaten Washington and Maryland. (2)

Virginia operations, Siege of Petersburg: Second Battle of Petersburg ends. The 900-man 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment loses 636 men in the final assault, the heaviest loss any regiment will experience in a single battle during the whole war. General Meade orders his men to dig in. Grant decides to go after the three remaining rail lines between Petersburg and Richmond. CS General Lee arrives in Petersburg. (26)

It is a source of great regret that I am not able to report more success.

– General George Meade to General Grant, June 18, 1864

We will rest the men and use the spade for their protection until a new vein has been struck.

– General Grant to General Meade, June 18, 1864

The USS Kearsarge and the CSS Alabama battle it out.

The “USS Kearsarge” and the “CSS Alabama” battle it out.

June 19

Battles: Atlantic operations: The Battle of Cherbourg. The USS Kearsarge fights and sinks the CSS Alabama.

Military events: Sheridan’s raid: US General Sheridan returns without having linked up with General Hunter. (6)

Atlanta campaign. Per General Sherman (16):

On the 19th of June the rebel army again fell back on its flanks, to such an extent that for a time I supposed it had retreated to the Chattahoochee River, fifteen miles distant; but as we pressed forward we were soon undeceived, for we found it still more concentrated, covering Marietta and the railroad. These successive contractions of the enemy’s line encouraged us and discouraged him, but were doubtless justified by sound reasons.

General Lovell Rousseau (Source)

General Lovell Rousseau (Source)

June 20

Military events: Mississippi operations: General Sherman tells General Lovell Rousseau, who is in command at Nashville, “I propose to keep him [Forrest] occupied from Memphis. He whipped Sturgis fair and square, and now I have got against him A. J. Smith and Mower, and will let them try their hands.” (8)

Atlanta campaign: Per General Sherman (16):

On the 20th Johnston’s position was unusually strong. Kenesaw Mountain was his salient; his two flanks were refused and covered by parapets and by Noonday and Nose’s Creeks. His left flank was his weak point, so long as he acted on the “defensive,” whereas, had he designed to contract the extent of his line for the purpose of getting in reserve a force with which to strike “offensively” from his right, he would have done a wise act, and I was compelled to presume that such was his object: We were also so far from Nashville and Chattanooga that we were naturally sensitive for the safety of our railroad and depots, so that the left (McPherson) was held very strong.

About this time came reports that a large cavalry force of the enemy had passed around our left flank, evidently to strike this very railroad somewhere below Chattanooga. I therefore reenforced the cavalry stationed from Resaca to Casaville, and ordered forward from Huntsville, Alabama, the infantry division of General John E. Smith, to hold Kingston securely.

Other: “Gen. John Hunt Morgan, CSA, was the scourge of Union-held areas in Kentucky, riding out of Tennessee. On one recent foray he had had several men captured. These were transferred today to the Federal prisoner-of-war camp at Rock Island Barracks in the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois. One of these prisoners, Pvt. James P. Gold, spent the rest of the war there because he refused to take the oath of loyalty to the Union. He lived until 1934, one of the last Civil War vets.” (7, including quote)

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln in the Spielberg movie.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln in the Spielberg movie.

June 21

Battles: Siege of Petersburg: Jerusalem Plank Road/First Battle of the Weldon Railroad begins.

Siege of Petersburg: Meade’s Station begins (?). This is another battle source 5 mentions without detail and I can’t find anything definitive via Google. I did learn that Meade’s Station was an important US supply and hospital depot on Grant’s railroad near Prince George Court House Road. (29)

Military events: Siege of Petersburg: Riding Grant’s horse, US President Lincoln visits (PDF) the Union lines before Petersburg. The president reviews Negro troops under General Edward Hinks and receives hearty cheers. Sits with Grant and staff in front of Grant’s tent in evening for a while. (4)

Atlanta campaign. General Sherman tells General Halleck, who is back in Washington:

This is the nineteenth day of rain, and the prospect of fair weather is as far off as ever. The roads are impassable; the fields and woods become quagmire’s after a few wagons have crossed over. Yet we are at work all the time. The left flank is across Noonday Creek, and the right is across Nose’s Creek. The enemy still holds Kenesaw, a conical mountain, with Marietta behind it, and has his flanks retired, to cover that town and the railroad behind. I am all ready to attack the moment the weather and roads will permit troops and artillery to move with any thing like life.

June 22

Battles: Siege of Petersburg: Jerusalem Plank Road/First Battle of the Weldon Railroad continues.

Siege of Petersburg: Meade’s Station ends (? – see note for the 21st).

Siege of Petersburg: The Wilson-Kautz raid begins.

Atlanta campaign: Battle of Kolb’s Farm. More information (PDF).

Military events: Mississippi operations: General Nathan Bedford Forrest orders General Roddey to watch the road westward toward Lagrange, Tennessee, and to be ready to move at a moment’s notice. Forrest has heard that a large US force will be moving against him from Memphis. (3)


War, at the best, is terrible, and this war of ours, in its magnitude and in its duration, is one of the most terrible. It has deranged business, totally in many localities, and partially in all localities. It has destroyed property, and ruined homes; it has produced a national debt and taxation unprecedented, at least in this country. It has carried mourning to almost every home, until it can almost be said that the “heavens are hung in black.” Yet it continues, and several relieving coincidences have accompanied it from the very beginning, which have not been known, as I understand, or have any knowledge of, in any former wars in the history of the world…

It is a pertinent question often asked in the mind privately, and from one to the other, when is the war to end? Surely I feel as great an interest in this question as any other can, but I do not wish to name a day, or month, or a year when it is to end. I do not wish to run any risk of seeing the time come, without our being ready for the end, and for fear of disappointment, because the time had come and not the end. We accepted this war; we did not begin it. We accepted this war for an object, a worthy object, and the war will end when that object is attained. Under God, I hope it never will until that time. Speaking of the present campaign, General Grant is reported to have said, I am going through on this line if it takes all summer. This war has taken three years; it was begun or accepted upon the line of restoring the national authority over the whole national domain, and for the American people, as far as my knowledge enables me to speak, I say we are going through on this line if it takes three years more…I have never been in the habit of making predictions in regard to the war, but I am almost tempted to make one. If I were to hazard it, it is this: That Grant is this evening, with General Meade and General Hancock, of Pennsylvania, and the brave officers and soldiers with him, in a position from whence he will never be dislodged until Richmond is taken, and I have but one single proposition to put now, and, perhaps, I can best put it in form of an interrogative. If I shall discover that General Grant and the noble officers and men under him can be greatly facilitated in their work by a sudden forth of men and assistance, will you give them to me? [Cries of “yes.”] Then, I say, stand ready, for I am watching for the chance. [Laughter and cheers.] I thank you, gentlemen.

— US President Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1864


(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 Kennesaw Mountain, Wikipedia.

(26) Siege of Petersburg, Wikipedia.

(27) Hunter’s Raid, Virginia Military Institute.

(28) The Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road.

(29) Petersburg National Battlefield.

Categories: American Civil War

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