The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – September 8-14, 1864

National Archives

National Archives

Here is a look at events in the Civil War 150 years ago this week. We won’t hear much from CS General Forrest, who has halted his movement toward Mobile and is now deploying his men and repairing the railroad in preparation for another assault on General Sherman’s supply lines, this time in northern Alabama and middle Tennessee.

Having won Atlanta, US General Sherman is engaged not in military moves but in letter exchanges with CS General Hood, whose men are gathering at Lovejoy’s Station, and with Atlanta officials. It grew into “quite an angry correspondence,” as Sherman described it. Something he wrote in one of these letters has often been misquoted:

War is cruelty and you cannot refine it, and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out.

September 8

Other: George McClellan accepts the Democratic presidential nomination.

Undated photo of cotton bales inside fortifications.  (Library of Congress)

Undated photo of cotton bales inside fortifications. (Library of Congress)

September 9

Other: “Officially, there had been a complete ban on all trading in all commodities between the North and the South since very early in the war. In actual fact, like most embargoes, this ban succeeded only in artificially raising the price of commodities, particularly cotton. This resulted in profits so great that a clandestine trade, particularly along the river systems of the Mississippi, was irresistible to many. The matter was becoming serious enough, both in terms of disrespect for the law and the lack of tariff revenue, to attract official attention. There was a cabinet meeting in Washington today to discuss legalization of the trade so at least taxes could be collected.” (7, including quote)

September 10

Military events: “The Fawn was an inoffensive little boat, engaged yesterday in the hauling of mail on the Albermarle and Chesapeake Canal. Today she did so no longer, because she had been seized and burned by a force of Confederates. An extremely irate Lt. Cmdr. Earl English, of the USS Wyalusing, landed in nearby Elizabeth City, N.C., determined to locate and punish whoever had committed this act. He went to far as to round up and detain 29 leading citizens of the town for interrogation and possible detention as hostages against repetition of such misdeeds. He was reluctantly persuaded to release them when they were able to convince him that the mail boat had in fact been burned by men from the CSS Albermarle and that no resident of the town had been involved or benefited by the act.” (7, including quote)

Frank Leslie's illustration of citizens getting passes to leave Atlanta during the evacuation.  (Library of Congress)

Frank Leslie’s illustration of citizens getting passes to leave Atlanta during the evacuation. (Library of Congress)

September 11

Military events: Georgia operations. The ordered evacuation of Atlanta begins. (12)

“The USS Stockdale, Acting Lt. Wiggen commanding, set forth up the Fish River to Mobile Bay today, leading the tinclad USS Randolph and the Army troop transport ship Planter, which was towing a barge. Their destination: a sawmill up on the bay. The expedition arrived without incident, landed troops, and proceeded to confiscate Confederate equipment including 60,000 board feet of sawn lumber, the engine used to saw the logs, and some livestock. The problem came when the now heavily-loaded ships tried to get back down the river. Confederate troops lined the river as it began to grow dark. Shots were fired and trees were even felled into the water in an attempt to snag and stop the vessels. The military ships returned fire with the ship’s guns, the troops fired muskets, and the reinforced Randolph smashed its way through the log blockades. All the boats returned safely.” (7, including quote)

September 12

Military events:

Shenandoah operations: Lincoln to Grant (4):

Executive Mansion, Washington,
Lieut. Genl. Grant Sep. 12. 1864.

Sheridan and Early are facing each other at a dead lock. Could we not pick up a regiment here and there, to the number of say ten thousand men, and quietly, but suddenly concentrate them at Sheridan’s camp and enable him to make a strike? This is but a suggestion. Yours truly A LINCOLN

Virginia operations, siege of Petersburg. Grant to Sherman (15):

"Bulldog" Grant also posed for this picture at his Virginia headquarters this August.  Library of Congress

(Library of Congress)

GENERAL: I send Lieutenant-Colonel Horace Porter, of my staff, with this. Colonel Porter will explain to you the exact condition of affairs here, better than I can do in the limits of a letter. Although I feel myself strong enough now for offensive operations, I am holding on quietly, to get advantage of recruits and convalescents, who are coming forward very rapidly. My lines are necessarily very long, extending from Deep Bottom, north of the James, across the peninsula formed by the Appomattox and the James, and south of the Appomattox to the Weldon road. This line is very strongly fortified, and can be held with comparatively few men; but, from its great length, necessarily takes many in the aggregate. I propose, when I do move, to extend my left so as to control what is known as the Southside, or Lynchburg & Petersburg road; then, if possible, to keep the Danville road out. At the same time this move is made, I want to send a force of from six to ten thousand men against Wilmington. The way I propose to do this is to land the men north of Fort Fisher, and hold that point. At the same time a large naval fleet will be assembled there, and the iron-clads will run the batteries as they did at Mobile. This will give us the same control of the harbor of Wilmington that we now have of the harbor of Mobile. What you are to do with the forces at your command, I do not exactly see. The difficulties of supplying your army, except when they are constantly moving beyond where you are, I plainly see. If it had not been for Price’s movement, Canby could have sent twelve thousand more men to Mobile. From your command on the Mississippi, an equal number could have been taken. With these forces, my idea would have been to divide them, sending one-half to Mobile, and the other half to Savannah. You could then move as proposed in your telegram, so as to threaten Macon and Augusta equally. Whichever one should be abandoned by the enemy, you could take and open up a new base of supplies. My object now in sending a staff-officer to you is not so much to suggest operations for you as to get your views, and to have plans matured by the time every thing can be got ready. It would probably be the 5th of October before any of the plans here indicated will be executed. If you have any promotions to recommend, send the names forward, and I will approve them.

In conclusion, it is hardly necessary for me to say that I feel you have accomplished the most gigantic undertaking given to any general in this war, and with a skill and ability that will be acknowledged in history as unsurpassed, if not unequaled. It gives me as much pleasure to record this in your favor as it world in favor of any living man, myself included. Truly yours,

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

September 13

Military events: General Forrest tells his men to prepare to move out on the 16th with four days of cooked rations. (3)

Shenandoah operations: Grant to Lincoln (4):

It has been my intention for a week back to start to-morrow, or the day following, to see Sheridan and arrange what was necessary to enable him to start Early out of the Valley. It seems to me it can be successfully done.


September 14

Military events: “Gen. Robert Early, CSA, was under pressure from all sides. Detached from Lee’s army defending Petersburg, he was supposed to be raiding near Washington, creating panic and a demand for Grant’s troops to be brought back North. This effort had not worked, and now Lee wanted him back to help with the siege defenses. Gen. Phil Sheridan, USA had been brought in to encourage his departure as well. The only person who didn’t want Early to move South was….Early. He had tried sending back one corps, under R.H. Anderson, but they had run into Sheridan and retreated back to Early’s lines. Lee was becoming insistent, though, so today Early decided to try again at sending Anderson’s men South.” (7, including quote)




Front page image: Confederate palisades on the north side of Atlanta after Sherman’s occupation. (Library of Congress)

(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) 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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