The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – October 27 to November 2, 1864

No, Forrest didn't commandeer this ship.  The "CSS Albemarle," sunk on the 27th, was later raised and sold.

No, Forrest didn’t commandeer this ship. The “CSS Albemarle,” sunk on the 27th, was later raised and sold.

Here is a look back at events in the Civil War 150 years ago this week. We can call Nathan Bedford Forrest “Admiral” for a day this week!

October 27

Battles: Franklin/Nashville Campaign, Alabama operations: The Battle of Decatur continues.

Virginia operations, Siege of Petersburg: The Battle of Boydton Plank Road (a/k/a Burgess Mill, First Hatcher’s Run, or the Battle of Southside Railroad) begins. Opposing Generals Butler and Longstreet meet at Second Fair Oaks.

North Carolina operations: “Torpedo launch commanded by Lieutenant W. B. Cushing destroyed ram CSS Albemarle in the Roanoke River, assuring the North of renewed control of the waters around Plymouth, North Carolina.” (13, including quote)

October 28

Battles: Franklin/Nashville Campaign, Alabama operations: The Battle of Decatur continues.

Virginia operations, Siege of Petersburg: The many-named Battle of Boydton Plank Road ends.

Price’s Missouri Expedition: The Battle of Newtonia.

Military events: Tennessee operations: Forrest’s Raid to the Kentucky Border: CS General Abraham Buford reaches the mouth of the Big Sandy river and sets up batteries at old Confederate Forts Heiman and Paris Landing. Forrest moves out for Paris, Tennessee. (3)


October 29

Battles: Franklin/Nashville Campaign, Alabama operations: The Battle of Decatur ends.

North Carolina operations: “The dreaded CSS Albemarle was no more, thanks to the courage of Lt. William B. Cushing and the sacrifice of his men who had taken small boats from the USS Shamrock up the Roanoke River and blown her up with a spar torpedo. Cushing himself was the only one to both survive the sinking of his own ship and escape capture by the Confederates, and as soon as he made his way back to Union lines plans had started to exploit the accomplishment. Today Commander Macomb took five ships up the Roanoke while sending a sixth, the USS Valley City, up the nearby Middle River, in hopes of taking out Confederate artillery there. Alas, the expedition got only as far up the Roanoke as the site of the sunken USS Southfield, which blocked half the channel. It turned out that the other half was now blocked as well, by a couple of schooners creative Confederates had towed there and sunk. There was some long-range shooting at the offending artillery, then everybody steamed for home.” (7, including quote)

Military events: Tennessee operations: Forrest’s Raid to the Kentucky Border: At 9 a.m., Buford closes the Big Sandy with his artillery, capturing a steamer loaded with military stores. At around 5 p.m., three US gunboats arrive and fire on the landing. They interrupt the plundering of hte steamer but then leave the field as darkness falls. Forrest and General Chalmers reach Paris.

October 30

Military events: Tennessee operations: Forrest’s Raid to the Kentucky Border: Buford almost captures the transport Anna but it escapes. Next up is a transport/barge accompanied by a Federal gunboat. After an hour’s fighting, the gunboat and transport/barge retreat downriver just far enough so the gunboat can safely shell Buford’s position. Chalmers joins Buford at Paris Landing, and aids in the capture of the US gunboat and transport/barge. (3)

I couldn't find a picture of the "Undine," but the US Navy says there are 10 tin-clad gunboats like her in this picture.

I couldn’t find a picture of the “Undine,” but the US Navy says there are 10 tin-clad gunboats like her in this picture…wonder if ‘Admiral’ Forrest took his horse aboard.

October 31

Military events: Tennessee operations: Forrest’s Raid to the Kentucky Border: The gunboat are transport are repaired and returned to service under the Confederate flag. Forrest arrives and urges preparations for the move on Johnsonville. (3) Per source 3:

Crews and officers were detailed from the command for the Undine [the captured US gunboat] and Venus [the captured transport], upon both of which the Confederate flag was now floating, to the great delight of the men, none of whom had seen that flag upon an armed vessel since the Confederate gunboats went down at Memphis in 1862. Captain Gracy, of the Third Kentucky, commanded the Undine; and Lieutenant-Colonel W. A. Dawson the Venus, while upon the latter the two twenty-pounder Parrotts were placed as armament; and that afternoon the Confederate General [Forrest] made a “trial-trip” with his fleet as far as Fort Heiman, to see that all was in efficient service. As they rounded out into the stream, the troops, drawn up in line, made the air ring with cheer upon cheer for Forrest and his cavalry upon their novel element. At Fort Heiman, stopping long enough to take on board the Venus a quantity of shoes, blankets, and hard bread, which had been secured from the Mazeppa, he moved back to the Paris Landing, satisfied that both boats were in serviceable condition, and orders were given for a general movement on the following morning.

Georgia and Alabama operations: “Any parent who has ever fooled a stubborn child into following by turning one’s back and walking away from the brat, will understand the move Gen. John Bell Hood engaged in today. Arriving in Tuscumbia, Alabama, he began to vigorously fortify the place and send reinforcements across the Tennessee River to the town of Florence, who also gave every appearance of preparing to be attacked by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. It was well known to one and all that Sherman, having taken Atlanta long since, was gearing up for a large-scale march, most probably a campaign of destruction heading for the coast. Hood’s last chance to deter or at least delay Sherman was to sucker him into chasing Hood’s army. Sherman, however, was not buying this plan. He was already headed back for Atlanta.” (7, including quote)

Per General Sherman (15):

On the 31st of October General Croxton, of the cavalry, reported that the enemy had crossed the Tennessee River four miles above Florence, and that he had endeavored to stop him, but without success. Still, I was convinced that Hood’s army was in no condition to march for Nashville, and that a good deal of further delay might reasonably be counted on. I also rested with much confidence on the fact that the Tennessee River below Muscle Shoals was strongly patrolled by gunboats, and that the reach of the river above Muscle Shoals, from Decatur as high up as our railroad at Bridgeport, was also guarded by gunboats, so that Hood, to cross over, would be compelled to select a point inaccessible to these gunboats.

On the 31st of October Forrest made his appearance on the Tennessee River opposite Johnsonville (whence a new railroad led to Nashville), and with his cavalry and field pieces actually crippled and captured two gunboats with five of our transports, a feat of arms which, I confess, excited my admiration.

There is no doubt that the month of October closed to us looking decidedly squally; but, somehow, I was sustained in the belief that in a very few days the tide would turn.

Grant Sherman Forrest

November 1

Military events: Tennessee operations: Forrest’s Raid to the Kentucky Border: Forrest, his cavalry, and the two ships move upriver toward the Federal depot at Johnsonville. Rain slows them down. (3)

In Virginia, US General Grant sends General Butler to command the troops in New York that have been sent to maintain order during next week’s election. (6)

November 2

Other: “Not all Confederate sympathizers lived in the Confederate States of America, and even those who did had little difficulty penetrating the rather porous borders of the United States at will. While not all plans and schemes which were rumored to be in the works actually had any existence, some rumors were indeed based on facts. Secretary of State William Seward found one such tale serious enough that he today sent a message to the mayor of New York City. There was, he said, a story making the rounds that Confederate agents had infiltrated the city with a terrorist plot: there would be arson attacks all throughout the town with the serious intention of burning it to the ground. The plan was to be carried out on Election Day, thereby accomplishing a double goal of damaging the greatest commercial city of the North as well as disrupting the crucial vote.” (7, including quote)

It's a political cartoon about income disparity at the time of the 1864 election, but what I most notice is the absence of women voting.  (Library of Congress)

“Election Day in New York.” It’s a nasty political cartoon mocking participation of the “lower classes” in the 1864 NYC election, but what I most notice with modern eyes is the absence of women voting. (Library of Congress)

Military events: Tennessee operations: Forrest’s Raid to the Kentucky Border: Heavy rains slow down Forrest’s land forces. The two boats, meanwhile, have steamed ahead and coming around a bend in the Big Sandy encounter Federal gunboats. The newly minted Confederate gunboat is recaptured by the US forces, but General Chalmers brings up his battery in time to successfully cover the withdrawal of the Confederate transport. Forrest’s men camp for the night a mile below Reynoldsburg. (3)

Georgia operations: Grant to Sherman (15):

CITY POINT, November 1, 1864—6 P.M.
Major-General SHERMAN:

Do you not think it advisable, now that Hood has gone so far north, to entirely ruin him before starting on your proposed campaign? With Hood’s army destroyed, you can go where you please with impunity. I believed and still believe, if you had started south while Hood was in the neighborhood of you, he would have been forced to go after you. Now that he is far away he might look upon the chase as useless, and he will go in one direction while you are pushing in the other. If you can see a chance of destroying Hood’s army, attend to that first, and make your other move secondary.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.

US General Sherman and his staff in the trenches outside Atlanta.  (Library of Congress, via Wikipedia)

US General Sherman and his staff in the trenches outside Atlanta. (Library of Congress)

Georgia operations: Sherman to Grant (15):

ROME, GEORGIA, November 2, 1864.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GRANT, City Point, Virginia:

Your dispatch is received. If I could hope to overhaul Hood, I would turn against him with my whole force; then he would retreat to the south west, drawing me as a decoy away from Georgia, which is his chief object. If he ventures north of the Tennessee River, I may turn in that direction, and endeavor to get below him on his line of retreat; but thus far he has not gone above the Tennessee River. General Thomas will have a force strong enough to prevent his reaching any country in which we have an interest; and he has orders, if Hood turns to follow me, to push for Selma, Alabama. No single army can catch Hood, and I am convinced the best results will follow from our defeating Jeff. Davis’s cherished plea of making me leave Georgia by manoeuvring. Thus far I have confined my efforts to thwart this plan, and have reduced baggage so that I can pick up and start in any direction; but I regard the pursuit of Hood as useless. Still, if he attempts to invade Middle Tennessee, I will hold Decatur, and be prepared to move in that direction; but, unless I let go of Atlanta, my force will not be equal to his.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant.  (Library of Congress)

Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant. (Library of Congress)

Grant to Sherman (15):

CITY POINT, VIRGINIA, November 2,1864—11.30 a.m.
Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch of 9 A.M. yesterday is just received. I dispatched you the same date, advising that Hood’s army, now that it had worked so far north, ought to be looked upon now as the “object.” With the force, however, that you have left with General Thomas, he must be able to take care of Hood and destroy him.

I do not see that you can withdraw from where you are to follow Hood, without giving up all we have gained in territory. I say, then, go on as you propose.

U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General



(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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