The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – October 6-12, 1864

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

George Armstrong Custer isn’t a general yet, but he fights hard and well in the Shenandoah Valley under Sheridan this week. He also will earn the respect of friend and foe alike with a magnificent gesture at Tom’s Brook on the 9th.

The specific dates in various references vary for CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s scramble back across the Tennessee River with US troops in close pursuit after his September raid in Tennessee, so unless otherwise noted I have stuck with Jordan & Pryor (3) for consistency.

Allatoona Pass, shortly after the October 5th battle.  (Source)

Allatoona Pass, shortly after the October 5th battle. (Source)

Meanwhile, in Allatoona, Georgia, US General Corse, though wounded, is seeking orders after having fended off a Confederate attack on the rail depot there (15):

ALLATOONA, GEORGIA, October 6, 1884-2 P.M.
Captain L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp:

I am short a cheek-bone and an ear, but am able to whip all h—l yet! My losses are very heavy. A force moving from Stilesboro’ to Kingston gives me some anxiety. Tell me where Sherman is.

JOHN M. CORSE, Brigadier-General.

General Grant is in Washington from October 6-9, expediting the movement of new recruits to the front. (6)

"Harper's Weekly" view of the Darbytown battle.

“Harper’s Weekly” view of the Darbytown battle.

October 6

Battles: Virginia operations: Chaffin’s Farm/Darbytown and New Market Roads.

Shenandoah operations: Brock’s Gap. “When U.S. Grant needed a man to solidify the Union hold on the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, he had sent back to the Western Theater for a man he could count on: Phil Sheridan. Sheridan, however, was an infantry commander, not a cavalryman, so when he had to become one he surrounded himself with the best the Regular Cavalry had to offer. One such man proved his worth today. Confederate forces under Richard Early had been pretty much on the run since the battles of Winchester and Fisher Hill, but they were by no means defeated. The forces of Thomas L. Rosser attacked two regiments under George Armstrong Custer at Brock’s Gap. Although surprised, Custer’s men managed to fend off the attack. It was a disconcerting reminder that this project would be a long one.” (7, including quote)

Tennessee operations: Skirmish at Kingsport. (28)

Forrest faced a major barrier with the Tennessee flooded.  Today, the Tennessee Valley Authority uses locks and dams in the area.

Forrest faced a major barrier with the Tennessee flooded. Today, the Tennessee Valley Authority uses locks and dams in the area.

Military events: Mississippi/Alabama operations: Forrest’s raid. Before daylight, General Forrest enters Florence, Alabama, and rejoins CS General Abraham Buford. The weather is stormy, and Buford is ferrying supplies and artillery across the Tennessee at the mouth of flooded Cypress Creek as quickly as possible, as Union forces led by US Generals Steedman and Rousseau are already in Athens and two columns are approaching Florence. Forrest deploys his men to run other ferries across the Tennessee from Cypress Creek to Colbert’s Shoals. (3, 8)

Georgia operations: General Sherman, suspecting CS General Hood to head Rome, Georgia, next, orders General Corse there. (15, 29)

October 7

Battles: Naval operations: The CSS Florida is captured.

Tennessee operations: Skirmish at Kingston. (28)

Military events: Mississippi/Alabama operations: Forrest’s raid. By midday, all the supplies and artillery are safely across the Tennessee, as are some of Forrest’s troops and most of his horses. US forces are close now, and Forrest deploys a force to slow them down at the state line and Athens road while a regiment heads north to circle around and attack the Federals from the rear. (3)

October 8

Battles: Tennessee operations: Skirmish at Rogersville. (28)

Military events: Mississippi/Alabama operations: Forrest’s raid. Union forces reach Florence. Forrest still has about a thousand men and horses on this side of the Tennessee, waiting to ford, in addition to the men he has sent to slow the Federal advance. Outnumbered, Forrest tells his skirmishers to now fall back on the Waterloo Road. US forces follow them, and the main Confederate force continues crossing the rain-swollen river, using an island in the stream as a hideout. Wyeth, who rode with Forrest, describes the general at this time as “evidently worried and tired out…on the rampage…and showing considerable disregard of the third commandment.” Meanwhile, CS General Chalmers is creating a diversion at Memphis to keep thousands of US infantry and cavalry there tied up and unable to join the pursuit of Forrest. (3, 8) US troops under Colonel George B. Hoge are sent as reinforcements by ship – three transports plus two gunboats – up the Tennessee River towards Eastport, Mississippi (PDF). (8)

Pay no attention to that flag.  I'm the "Sea King."  Seriously.  (Source)

Pay no attention to that flag. I’m the “Sea King.” Seriously. (Source)

Naval operations: Shenanigans are afoot to get the CSS Shenandoah into commission: “A lovely new steamship departed the docks of London today, the name Sea King painted on her stern and printed on her papers. Another vessel, the S.S. Laurel departed the same docks at the same time. They both just happened to be bound for Madeira Island in the mid-Atlantic. There some sleight-of-hand would take place. Passengers on the Laurel included Lt. James I. Waddell of the Confederate States Navy and a large number of seamen in the same employ. Cargo on the Laurel included a large number of un-mounted guns, gunpowder suitable for Navy cannons, and other provisions for a long sea voyage. In Madeira a swap would be made, with Waddell and his erstwhile co-passengers taking charge of the Sea King and mounting the cannons on her decks and stocking her with the provisions. The last act would be to change her name, and the last great Confederate commerce raider, Shenandoah, would be in business.” (7, including quote)

October 9

Battles: Shenandoah Valley operations: Tom’s Brook.

At Tom's Brook, George Armstrong Custer, in charge of a US brigade, rode out before the battle to salute an old friend, General Thomas Rosser, CSA, who was in charge of the enemy line.  A. R. Waud

At Tom’s Brook, George Armstrong Custer, in charge of a US brigade, rode out before the battle to salute an old friend, General Thomas Rosser, CSA, who was in charge of the enemy line. A. R. Waud

Military events: Mississippi/Alabama operations: Forrest’s raid. Forrest completes the crossing as his skirmishers keep US forces tied up all day. Overnight, following orders, the skirmishers scatter and start crossing the river when and where they can. (3)

General Sherman (Library of Congress)

Library of Congress

Georgia operations: Sherman, in Allatoona, Georgia, to Grant (15, emphasis added):

It will be a physical impossibility to protect the roads, now that Hood, Forrest, Wheeler, and the whole batch of devils, are turned loose without home or habitation. I think Hood’s movements indicate a diversion to the end of the Selma & Talladega road, at Blue Mountain, about sixty miles southwest of Rome, from which he will threaten Kingston, Bridgeport, and Decatur, Alabama. I propose that we break up the railroad from Ohattanooga forward, and that we strike out with our wagons for Milledgeville, Millen, and Savannah. Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless for us to occupy it; but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people, will cripple their military resources. By attempting to hold the roads, we will lose a thousand men each month, and will gain no result. I can make this march, and make Georgia howl! We have on hand over eight thousand head of cattle and three million rations of bread, but no corn. We can find plenty of forage in the interior of the State.

Ellis Harper.  Source

Ellis Harper. Source

October 10

Battles: Attack near Gallatin on South Tunnel; skirmish at Thorn Hill near Bean’s Station. (28) Ellis Harper, Confederate guerilla, kills six captured black US soldiers.

Missouri operations: The Emma massacre.

Military events: Mississippi/Alabama operations: Forrest dispatches General Roddey to Tuscumbia and establishes a position at Cherokee Station, Alabama. The US forces, still on the north bank of the Tennessee River, return to Florence. (3) At Eastport, CS Colonel Kelly ambushes the approaching Federal troop transports and gunboats, forcing them to surrender. (8)

Georgia operations: General Hood’s forces appear south of the Etowah River near Rome and Sherman pursues him. (15) However, Hood turns toward Resaca after joining forces with General Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry. (29)

October 11

Battles Tennessee operations: “Skirmish near Fort Donelson between 200 Confederate troops under Lieut. Lawry and 90 USCT soldiers under Lieut. Col. Weaver, who carry the day.” (28, including quote)

Military events: Mississippi/Alabama operations: Forrest sends General Buford’s division toward Corinth, Mississippi, and sets out for Corinth himself by rail. (3)

It was a strange time to be a political cartoonist.  (Library of Congress)

It was a strange time to be a political cartoonist. (Library of Congress)

Other: “Surely, they thought in Richmond, surely this would be the year it would sink in to the voters of the North. After Manassas, after Chancellorsville, after Gettysburg….after all the blood and slaughter and disease and death, surely they would decide that it was not worth fighting any longer to keep a part of the country that wanted to leave. Actually Lincoln in Washington was deeply afraid that the voters might think exactly that way. The elections were today for some governorships as well as the House and one-third of the Senate. Lincoln stayed half the night in the telegraph room of the War Department waiting for the results to come in. Again, the last hope of the South was dashed: support for Republicans was far stronger than had been expected, as Oliver Morton won the governor’s office in Indiana, and Republican gains were made in the House and Senate both. The war would not end by negotiation.” (7, including quote)

October 12

Military events: Virginia operations: Siege of Petersburg. General Grant sends General Butler out on a reconnaissance in force. (6)

Mississippi/Alabama operations: Buford’s division arrives at Corinth. Forrest learns US scouts on the north bank of the Tennessee are looking for crossing points. Buford’s division and Rucker’s brigade, under Colonel David C. Kelly, are sent to Pittsburg Landing, where Forrest expects US General Washburne to attempt a crossing from Middle Tennessee. (3, 8)

Georgia operations: General Hood demands the surrender of the US garrison at Resaca. When they refuse, he decides not to fight them. Instead his forces bypass the garrison and head for Dalton, destroying the railroad along the way. (29)



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(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

(29) The Franklin-Nashville Campaign. Wikipedia

(30) Timeline 1864 (PDF). State of Tennessee

(31) Up From Slavery. Booker T. Washington.

Categories: American Civil War

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