The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – September 15-21, 1864

Thomas Nelson Conrad's plan to kidnap Lincoln in September 1864 resembled the one John Wilkes Booth was telling conspirators about.  (Source)

Thomas Nelson Conrad’s plan to kidnap Lincoln in September 1864 resembled the one John Wilkes Booth was telling conspirators about. (Source)

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

But first, what was John Wilkes Booth up to? Michael Kauffman (source 27 below) says that Booth’s plot, which apparently did start out as a scheme to kidnap US President Lincoln rather than murder him, didn’t become active until after the October elections.

One hundred and fifty years ago this week, Booth was probably in New York, getting over erysipelas, and would soon go to Pennsylvania to dispose of his oil stocks.

However, Kauffman also mentions vague hints of a New York connection to the Booth conspiracy that never got into the record. That’s all there is to it – vague hints. Nothing has ever been documented.

Given this week’s efforts by Confederates in Canada to spring some prisoners held on an island in Lake Erie and the departure of Thomas Nelson Conrad (who apparently was friends with some of the people who would later help Booth) from Richmond on a mission to kidnap Lincoln, one can’t help wondering who – if anyone – Booth may have been talking with or getting intelligence from while in New York this week.

Henry Harrison was living in New York and spying, but there's no evidence he and Booth ever met outside of "Gods and Generals."

Henry Harrison was living in New York and spying, but there’s apparently no evidence that he and Booth ever met outside of “Gods and Generals.”

No one knows, today.

Kauffman does say that Booth signed all his property rights away around this time in 1864. He did this, according to Kauffman, because the government confiscated rebel property, “and Booth knew that if he were caught in a conspiracy, they would take everything he owned. So he divested himself of all his property.”

Sounds like a man who is planning a dramatic step.

September 16

Battles: Virginia operations, Siege of Petersburg: The Beefsteak Raid.

Military events: Alabama/Tennessee operations: Forrest’s September raid begins. CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest sets out from Verona, Mississippi, with 3500 troops from Verona, Mississippi. They head for Cherokee Station, Alabama, chopping wood for locomotive fuel and using stream water for the boilers. General Chalmers remains in Mississippi with Mabry’s Brigade and the state militia. (3, 8)

Shenandoah operations: US Generals Grant and Sheridan meet to discuss operations against CS General Jubal Early. (5)

September 17

Other: Thomas Nelson Conrad (see above), of the Confederate Signal Service, leaves Richmond for Washington to explore the possibility of kidnapping US President Lincoln. He comes quite close to doing so, but is thwarted by the presence of a presidential cavalry escort and doesn’t make another attempt.

September 18

Military events: Alabama/Tennessee operations: Forrest’s September raid. Forrest and his men arrive at Cherokee Station. (8) (Note: Jordan & Pryor, source 3, say this was on the 19th)

Sheridan's final charge at Winchester.  (Source)

Sheridan’s final charge at Winchester. (Source)

September 19

Battles: Shenandoah operations: Third Winchester/Battle of Opequon.

New York operations: Confederate agents capture two steamers in an attempt to free prisoners on Johnson’s Island. The attempt will later be aborted.

Military events: Price’s Missouri raid begins. CS General Sterling Price sets off for St. Louis from Pocahontas, Arkansas. (28)

September 20

Military events: Georgia operations. The ordered evacuation of Atlanta is complete. (12) CS President Davis leaves Richmond to confer with General Hood. (6)

General Grant confers with Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus Fox and Rear Admiral David Porter about an expedition against Wilmington, North Carolina. (6)

September 21

Battles: Shenandoah operations: Battle of Fisher’s Hill begins.

Confederate prisoners captured at the battle of Fisher's Hill, and sent to the rear under guard.  (Library of Congress)

Confederate prisoners captured at the battle of Fisher’s Hill, and sent to the rear under guard. (Library of Congress)

Military events: Georgia operations. Per General Sherman (15):

On the 21st Hood shifted his army across from the Mason road, at Lovejoy’s, to the West Point road, at Palmetto Station, and his cavalry appeared on the west side of the Chattahoochee, toward Powder Springs; thus, as it were, stepping aside, and opening wide the door for us to enter Central Georgia. I inferred, however, that his real purpose was to assume the offensive against our railroads…

September 21

Military events: Alabama/Tennessee operations: Forrest’s September raid. Forrest marches north from Cherokee Station. They cross the Tennessee River with little difficulty and camp five miles west of Florence, Alabama. (8)


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

(22) Siege of Petersburg, Wikipedia.

(23) Petersburg National Battlefield.

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

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

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

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

(28) Price’s Missouri Raid. The Civil War in Missouri

Categories: American Civil War

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