The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – August 18-24, 1864

The Globe Tavern near Petersburg during the war.  (NARA)

The Globe Tavern near Petersburg during the war. (NARA)

Here is a look at events in the American Civil War 150 years ago this week.

August 18

Battles: Virgina operations, Siege of Petersburg: Globe Tavern/Second Battle of Weldon Railroad begins.

Military events: Mississippi operations: CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest orders General Chalmers to stand his ground and fiercely resist the US advance while he, Forrest, with 2,000 men and four artillery pieces leaves Oxford under cover of darkness heads west, past the US right wing and toward its rear. (8)

August 19

Battles: Virgina operations, Siege of Petersburg: Globe Tavern/Second Battle of Weldon Railroad continues.

Military events: Mississippi operations: At 7 a.m., Forrest reaches reaches Senatobia and sends a courier back to Chalmers, urging him to “hold the enemy hard and press them up so as to engage their whole attention.” In the meantime, Forrest keeps moving, crossing flood-swollen rivers with difficulty and traveling over bad roads, heading for Memphis. (8, including quote)

General Judson Kilpatrick was on the losing end at Lovejoy's Station but eventually brought good news to General Sherman.  (Source)

General Judson Kilpatrick was on the losing end at Lovejoy’s Station but eventually brought good news to General Sherman. (Source)

August 20

Battles: Virgina operations, Siege of Petersburg: Globe Tavern/Second Battle of Weldon Railroad. Heavy rain pauses the battle.

Georgia operations, Siege of Atlanta: Lovejoy’s Station.

Military events: Confederate naval operations: “The USS Pontoosuc sailed into Halifax, Nova Scotia today confident that they would find and capture the CSS Tallahassee. This Confederate commerce raider had been threatening shipping on the vital New York-London routes in the North Atlantic. To the chagrin of the Northerners they discovered they had missed their prey by a mere seven hours, as she had sailed the night before. Lt. Commander Stevens, commanding Pontoosuc, went ashore to consult the US consulate. The consul reported that they were under the impression that Tallahassee was headed for the Gulf of St. Lawrence, so Stevens headed in that direction. In fact the raider, short of fuel, was headed home to Wilmington, N.C. She captured one more prize, the brig Roan.” (7, including quote)

Mississippi operations: Forrest reaches Hernando, only 25 miles from Memphis. After resting briefly, he moves out again. (8)

Virginia operations, Siege of Petersburg: General Grant orders General Hancock to cease probes of Confederate positions. (6)

General Washburn escapes during Forrest's raid on Memphis.  (Source)

General Washburn escapes during Forrest’s raid on Memphis. (Source)

August 21

Battles: Shenandoah Valley operations, Early’s Raid: Summit Point.

Virgina operations, Siege of Petersburg: Globe Tavern/Second Battle of Weldon Railroad ends.

Mississippi operations: Second Battle of Memphis. At 3 a.m., Forrest reaches US-held Memphis with 1,500 troops (500 horses have given out along the way and they’re down to two artillery pieces now). In silence, he deploys his men. At daybreak, they move out. In the general confusion, the three US generals escape. The Confederates attempt to release Southern prisoners from Irving Block Prison but US forces hold them off. Forrest withdraws with supplies, horses, and 500 Federal prisoners (and General Washburn’s uniform, which he later returns under flag of truce). Upon reaching Hernando, Forrest paroles his prisoners (8)

Mississippi operations.  (Image source)

From last week, the field of Mississippi operations. Click to enlarge. (Image source)

August 22

Military events: Mississippi operations: Forrest reaches Panola and tells Chalmers via courier, “If the enemy is falling back, pursue them hard. Send Buford to capture their foraging-parties. Keep close to their camp. Order Captain Henderson to scout well to their right to ascertain if there is any movement this way.” He tells Chalmers he hopes to rest his men for a couple of days at Grenada. (8, including quote) Meanwhile, A. J. Smith’s Federal troops enter Oxford and burn businesses and unoccupied homes. The town is pillaged until 5 p.m., when the US forces are suddenly withdrawn and start back toward Holly Springs. (3)

Georgia operations, Siege of Atlanta: Per General Sherman (15):

Kilpatrick got off during the night of the 18th, and returned to us on the 22d, having made the complete circuit of Atlanta. He reported that he had destroyed three miles of the railroad about Jonesboro, which he reckoned would take ten days to repair; that he had encountered a division of infantry and a brigade of cavalry (Ross’s); that he had captured a battery and destroyed three of its guns, bringing one in as a trophy, and he also brought in three battle-flags and seventy prisoners.

Damage to Fort Morgan, August 1864.  Note the ghostly American flag on left.  (Source)

Damage to Fort Morgan, August 1864. Note the ghostly American flag on left. (Source)

August 23

Battles: Alabama operations, Mobile Bay. Fort Morgan surrenders.

Military events: Mississippi operations: Forrest’s superior, General Maury, reports that US General A. J. Smith’s advance into Mississippi has paused. Back in Memphis, a false report that Forrest is back causes the populace to “stampede.” (8) Forrest establishes his headquarters at Grenada. Upon hearing news of the Union retreat from Oxford, Chalmers starts out after them with two columns and the two forces begin skirmishing. Bad weather slows everybody down. (3)

The 11-year-old Union Depot in Atlanta, taken shortly before US troops destroyed it.  (Source)

The 11-year-old Union Station in Atlanta, image taken shortly before US troops destroyed it. (Source)

Virginia operations, Siege of Petersburg: General Grant stops offensive operations on the Weldon Railroad. (6)

Georgia operations, Siege of Atlanta. General Sherman says (15):

On the 23d, however, we saw trains coming into Atlanta from the south, when I became more than ever convinced that cavalry could not or would not work hard enough to disable a railroad properly, and therefore resolved at once to proceed to the execution of my original plan. Meantime, the damage done to our own railroad and telegraph by Wheeler, about Resaca and Dalton, had been repaired, and Wheeler himself was too far away to be of any service to his own army, and where he could not do us much harm, viz., up about the Hiawaesee.

Other: With his former difficult general, George McClellan, trying to be nominated the Democrat candidate for president in the fall elections, President Lincoln writes a memo concerning his expectation of failure at reelection.

General Dabney Herndon Maury, CSA.  (Source)

General Dabney Herndon Maury, CSA. (Source)

August 24

Military events: Mississippi operations: Maury to Forrest: “You have again saved Mississippi. Come and help Mobile…We are very weak here. (8, including quote) Forrest tells Chalmers to call off the chase. His division will be sent south to Mobile at the end of the month. (3) US General Sherman to General Washburn: “If you get a chance send word to Forrest that I admire his dash but not his judgment. The oftener he runs his head against Memphis the better. This case illustrates the importance of converting those armories into regular citadels with loop-holes and flanks. See to it.” General Smith will soon begin withdrawing back towards Memphis. (8, including quote)

Georgia operations, Siege of Atlanta: General Sherman reports (15):

On the 24th I rode down to the Chattahoochee bridge, to see in person that it could be properly defended by the single corps proposed to be left there for that purpose, and found that the rebel works, which had been built by Johnston to resist us, could be easily utilized against themselves; and on returning to my camp, at that same evening, I telegraphed to General Halleck as follows: Heavy fires in Atlanta all day, caused by our artillery. I will be all ready, and will commence the movement around Atlanta by the south, tomorrow night, and for some time you will hear little of us. I will keep open a courier line back to the Chattahoochee bridge, by way of Sandtown. The Twentieth Corps will hold the railroad-bridge, and I will move with the balance of the army, provisioned for twenty days.

Meantime General Dodge (commanding the Sixteenth Corps) had been wounded in the forehead, had gone to the rear, and his two divisions were distributed to the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps.

Other:“President Lincoln drafts a letter to New York Times editor Henry J. Raymond, who forecasts big electoral losses for the Republicans. Raymond predicts that a peace summit will ‘turn the tide of public sentiment.’ Lincoln instructs, ‘You will proceed forthwith and obtain, if possible, a conference for peace with Hon. Jefferson Davis, or any person by him authorized for that purpose…[Y]ou will propose, on behalf of this government, that upon the restoration of the Union and the national authority, the war shall cease at once, all remaining questions to be left for adjustment by peaceful modes. If this be accepted hostilities to cease at once.’ Ultimately, Lincoln and the Cabinet reject the peace conference suggestion.” (4, including quote)


(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) This Week in the Civil War.

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

(11) CWSAC Battle Summaries

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

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

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

(15) Memoirs of W. T. Sherman

(16) The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience During the Civil War. James G. Hollandsworth, Jr., 1995.

(17) A. Lincoln, A Biography, Ronald C. White, Jr. (2009)

(18) Confederate Strategy, Fort Tyler Association.

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

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

(21) The Atlanta Campaign. New Georgia Encyclopedia.

(22) Early’s Raid on Washington/Operations Against the B&O Railroad, Wikipedia.

(23) Siege of Petersburg, Wikipedia.

(24) Petersburg National Battlefield.

(25) James F. Epperson’s Siege of Petersburg site.

(26) Lee’s Bold Plan for Point Lookout, Jack E. Schairer (2008)

(27) Chattahoochee Creek Battle to Jonesboro. Tenth Kentucky Volunteer

(28) Sherman’s Horsemen: Union Cavalry Operations in the Atlanta Campaign. David Evans.

(29) The Capture of Memphis. Southern Historical Society.

(30) Confederate Outlaw: Champ Ferguson and the Civil War in Appalachia (Wheeler’s Raid section)

(31) Michael W. Kauffman. American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies. Random House. New York. 2004.

Categories: American Civil War

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