The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – November 10-16, 1864

John Wilkes Booth, unknown date.  (Library of Congress)

John Wilkes Booth, unknown date. (Library of Congress)

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

In Tennessee and northern Mississippi, CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his men are on the move as best they can, given heavy rains. One part of his force is heading to Mount Pleasant to join up with the army of General Hood. Two others are heading for Iuka and Corinth, respectively, and moving slowly along roads where it takes 12-16 horses, or up to eight oxen, to pull a single artillery piece. (3)

John Wilkes Booth is back from Canada and traveling to Charles County, Maryland, checking out the lay of the land through which he will ultimately flee from Washington.

I am basing my dates for Booth on Kauffman (27), who has done much research and doesn’t completely buy the story that Booth was a Confederate spy. He thinks that Booth, at this point, was using his acting experience to create the impression that he had support from both Richmond and the Confederate officials in Montreal in order to get his conspirators to do Booth’s bidding. Others, including some sources that will be linked here from time to time, are convinced Booth came back to Washington from Canada on orders to contact Confederate sympathizers in Charles County, a place which everybody agrees was a hotbed of support for the CSA.

November 10

Military events: Georgia operations/Savannah Campaign: Per General Sherman (15):

On the 10th of November the movement may be said to have fairly begun. All the troops designed for the campaign were ordered to march for Atlanta, and General Corse, before evacuating his post at Rome, was ordered to burn all the mills, factories, etc., etc., that could be useful to the enemy, should he undertake to pursue us, or resume military possession of the country. This was done on the night of the 10th, and next day Corse reached Kingston.

Abraham Lincoln, January 8, 1864.  (Library of Congress)

Abraham Lincoln, January 8, 1864. (Library of Congress)

Other: US President Lincoln tells a group of supporters:

It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence, in great emergencies.

On this point the present rebellion brought our republic to a severe test; and a presidential election occurring in regular course during the rebellion added not a little to the strain. If the loyal people, united, were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided, and partially paralized, by a political war among themselves?

But the election was a necessity.

We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. The strife of the election is but human-nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case, must ever recur in similar cases. Human-nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak, and as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.

But the election, along with its incidental, and undesirable strife, has done good too. It has demonstrated that a people’s government can sustain a national election, in the midst of a great civil war. Until now it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility. It shows also how sound, and how strong we still are. It shows that, even among candidates of the same party, he who is most devoted to the Union, and most opposed to treason, can receive most of the people’s votes. It shows also, to the extent yet known, that we have more men now, than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, patriotic men, are better than gold.

But the rebellion continues; and now that the election is over, may not all, having a common interest, re-unite in a common effort, to save our common country? For my own part I have striven, and shall strive to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man’s bosom.

While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a re-election; and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed or pained by the result.

May I ask those who have not differed with me, to join with me, in this same spirit towards those who have?

And now, let me close by asking three hearty cheers for our brave soldiers and seamen and their gallant and skilful commanders.

November 11

Battles: Tennessee operations: Bull’s Gap begins.

Hogg ended up in Alcatraz but was pardoned.  He went on to build a "railroad to nowhere" in the Pacific Northwest.

Hogg ended up in Alcatraz for this but was pardoned. He went on to build a “railroad to nowhere” in the Pacific Northwest.

Military events: “Panama, at this point a province of Colombia, was a common transshipment point for cargoes going from Atlantic to Pacific. One such vessel, the merchant steamer Salvador, departed for California with such a cargo today. As soon as she was clear of Colombian territorial waters, the USS Lancaster swooped in and boarded her. This was, interestingly, at the request of the Salvador’s captain. He had warned the Navy before leaving that he had information that some of his passengers were not what they claimed, but he had no proof. Captain Henry K. Davenport had no such concerns: he boarded the ship and searched the passenger’s baggage. In it he found a large stash of guns, ammunition, and a paper authorizing the bearer to seize a ship and convert it into a commerce raider. The passengers, led by Acting Ship’s Master Thomas E. Hogg, Confederate States Navy, were taken off and arrested.” (7, including quote)

Lincoln assassination conspiracy: John Wilkes Booth takes a stage from Washington, DC, to Bryantown, Maryland, to meet Dr. William Queen, ostensibly to look over real estate. Booth is interested in getting a map of this part of Charles County. Booth stays with the Queens over the weekend. (27)

November 12

Battles: Tennessee operations: Bull’s Gap continues.

Military events: Tennessee/Mississippi operations: Forrest reaches Corinth and continues on to Cherokee Station. (3)

Georgia operations/Savannah Campaign: US General Thomas to General Sherman (15):

NASHVILLE, November 12, 1884—8.80 A.M.
Major-General SHERMAN:

Your dispatch of twelve o’clock last night is received. I have no fears that Beauregard can do us any harm now, and, if he attempts to follow you, I will follow him as far as possible. If he does not follow you, I will then thoroughly organize my troops, and believe I shall have men enough to ruin him unless he gets out of the way very rapidly.

The country of Middle Alabama, I learn, is teeming with supplies this year, which will be greatly to our advantage. I have no additional news to report from the direction of Florence. I am now convinced that the greater part of Beauregard’s army is near Florence and Tuscumbia, and that you will have at least a clear road before you for several days, and that your success will fully equal your expectations.

George H. THOMAS, Major-General.

Per General Sherman (15):

As we rode on toward Atlanta that night [the 12th], I remember the railroad-trains going to the rear with a furious speed; the engineers and the few men about the trains waving us an affectionate adieu. It surely was a strange event—two hostile armies marching in opposite directions, each in the full belief that it was achieving a final and conclusive result in a great war; and I was strongly inspired with the feeling that the movement on our part was a direct attack upon the rebel army and the rebel capital at Richmond, though a full thousand miles of hostile country intervened, and that, for better or worse, it would end the war…No time was to be lost; all the detachments were ordered to march rapidly for Atlanta, breaking up the railroad en route, and generally to so damage the country as to make it untenable to the enemy.

Other: General Grant continues his correspondence with CSA agent R. Ould regarding Confederate prisoners. (6)

November 13

Battles: Tennessee operations: Bull’s Gap ends.

Military events: Tennessee/Mississippi operations: CS General Chalmers reaches Iuka. Forrest reaches Tuscumbia and has an interview with General Beauregard. (3)

General Jubal Early, CSA.

General Jubal Early, CSA.

Shenandoah Valley operations: “Gen. Jubal Early and his force had been detached from the siege of Petersburg five months ago and sent North on a mission: scare the bejeebers out of the Yankees, particularly the ones living in or near Washington, D.C. The hope was that these alarmed people would put pressure on the fellow living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to bring some troops home to protect them. Neither Lincoln nor General of the Armies U.S. Grant was inclined to oblige him, and now Early’s men were beginning to be brought back to Richmond for the defense effort. Early and company had marched nearly 1700 miles and fought 72 battles in this five months, but to no avail. The Shenandoah Valley now pretty well belonged to Phil Sheridan and his Yankee cavalry.” (7, including quote)

Lincoln assassination conspiracy: After attending church in Bryantown, Maryland, with the Queens, John Wilkes Booth is introduced to Dr. Samuel Mudd as someone interested in real estate and horses by Dr. William Queen‘s son-in-law. Kauffman doesn’t mention anything beyond the contact. Booth takes his leave of the Queens and travels back to Washington by stagecoach.

November 14

Battles: Tennessee operations: Clash at Russellville/Morristown. (4)

General Philip Sheridan, USA.

General Philip Sheridan, USA.

Military events: US President Lincoln accepts General McClellan’s resignation and promotes General Philip Sheridan. (4)

Virginia operations: “Gen. Benjamin Butler had certain talents, including administering occupied cities without excessive violence, making money, and commanding political support for Abraham Lincoln. In other fields he was not so successful, including battlefield command and, it seemed, engineering designs. He had concocted a plan to cut a canal to connect two bights of the James River. This would eliminate the necessity of Union ships to pass the seemingly impregnable Confederate fort on Drewry’s Bluff. Canals had been tried before, including in front of Vicksburg, and had never succeeded yet. This one, started in August, was still a work in progress today. The black laborers who provided most of the workforce were not only ill-fed and subject to disease, they were under constant assault from both Confederate gunboats in the river and snipers on the bluff.” (7, including quote)

Georgia operations. General Sherman says (15):

By the 14th all the troops had arrived at or near Atlanta, and were, according to orders, grouped into two wings, the right and left, commanded respectively by Major-Generals O. O. Howard and H. W. Slocum, both comparatively young men, but educated and experienced officers, fully competent to their command…The cavalry division was held separate, subject to my own orders…The strength of the army, as officially reported, is given in the following tables, and shows an aggregate of fifty-five thousand three hundred and twenty-nine infantry, five thousand and sixty-three cavalry, and eighteen hundred and twelve artillery in all, sixty-two thousand two hundred and four officers and men.

The most extraordinary efforts had been made to purge this army of non-combatants and of sick men, for we knew well that there was to be no place of safety save with the army itself; our wagons were loaded with ammunition, provisions, and forage, and we could ill afford to haul even sick men in the ambulances, so that all on this exhibit may be assumed to have been able-bodied, experienced soldiers, well armed, well equipped and provided, as far as human foresight could, with all the essentials of life, strength, and vigorous action.

Atlanta's Union Depot railroad station after Sherman's troop set the district on fire.

Atlanta’s Union Depot railroad station after Sherman’s troop set the district on fire.

November 15

Military events: Georgia operations/Savannah Campaign. Sherman’s march to the sea begins (15):

The march from Atlanta began on the morning of November 15th, the right wing and cavalry following the railroad southeast toward Jonesboro’, and General Slocum with the Twentieth Corps leading off to the east by Decatur and Stone Mountain, toward Madison. These were divergent lines, designed to threaten both Mason and Augusta at the same time, so as to prevent a concentration at our intended destination, or “objective,” Milledgeville, the capital of Georgia, distant southeast about one hundred miles. The time allowed each column for reaching Milledgeville was seven days. I remained in Atlanta during the 15th with the Fourteenth Corps, and the rear-guard of the right wing, to complete the loading of the trains, and the destruction of the buildings of Atlanta which could be converted to hostile uses.

Meanwhile, General Grant tells US General Thomas, who is in Nashville, that CS General Hood must “be pressed with such force as you can bring to bear.” (6)

November 16

Military events: Tennessee operations: CS General Buford reaches Iuka and continues on to Cherokee Station. Both Chalmers and Buford are then ordered to move up to Florence. (3)

Georgia operations/Savannah Campaign: Per General Sherman (15):

…[I] started with my personal staff, a company of Alabama cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant Snelling, and an infantry company, commanded by Lieutenant McCrory, which guarded our small train of wagons…we rode out of Atlanta by the Decatur road, filled by the marching troops and wagons of the Fourteenth Corps; and reaching the hill, just outside of the old rebel works, we naturally paused to look back upon the scenes of our past battles. We stood upon the very ground whereon was fought the bloody battle of July 22d, and could see the copse of wood where McPherson fell. Behind us lay Atlanta, smouldering and in ruins, the black smoke rising high in air, and hanging like a pall over the ruined city. Away off in the distance, on the McDonough road, was the rear of Howard’s column, the gun-barrels glistening in the sun, the white-topped wagons stretching away to the south; and right before us the Fourteenth Corps, marching steadily and rapidly, with a cheery look and swinging pace, that made light of the thousand miles that lay between us and Richmond. Some band, by accident, struck up the anthem of “John Brown’s soul goes marching on;” the men caught up the strain, and never before or since have I heard the chorus of “Glory, glory, hallelujah!” done with more spirit, or in better harmony of time and place.

Sherman and his army will be out of communication with the North for the next month.  (Image: Library of Congress)

Sherman and his army will be out of communication with the North for the next month. (Image: William Waud)

The first night out we camped by the road-side near Lithonia. Stone Mountain, a mass of granite, was in plain view, cut out in clear outline against the blue sky; the whole horizon was lurid with the bonfires of rail-ties, and groups of men all night were carrying the heated rails to the nearest trees, and bending them around the trunks. Colonel Poe had provided tools for ripping up the rails and twisting them when hot; but the best and easiest way is the one I have described, of heating the middle of the iron-rails on bonfires made of the cross-ties, and then winding them around a telegraph-pole or the trunk of some convenient sapling. I attached much importance to this destruction of the railroad, gave it my own personal attention, and made reiterated orders to others on the subject.



(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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