The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – March 2-8, 1865

Here is a look back at events in the the Civil War and Lincoln assassination conspiracy, 150 years ago this week.

We won’t hear much from CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest this week, although the Jackson, Mississippi, papers will quote him.

Oh, and here’s your invitation to Lincoln’s second inaugural ball!

Lincoln assassination conspiracy

John Wilkes Booth will attend US President Lincoln’s inauguration this week. Booth is also busy arranging his getaway horses and carriages in early March. As part of his preparation, he moves a carriage and horse into a shed in the alley behind Ford’s Theatre. It’s unclear at this point just how much Booth still believes what he has told the conspirators, that is, that the plot is all about kidnapping Lincoln, not killing him. In any event, the other conspirators will learn next week that Booth has moved the location of the planned kidnapping to Ford’s Theatre…and they aren’t going to like it.

Per the Library of Congress, "Bernard B. Graves joined the Hanover Artillery May 22, 1861. In Oct., 1862, he was transferred to the Amherst Artillery and fought with it the remainder of the war, a part of the time as a corporal. He was captured near Waynesboro, Va., Mar. 2, 1865 and imprisoned in Fort Delaware. He died at the age of forty-three."

Per the Library of Congress, “Bernard B. Graves joined the Hanover Artillery May 22, 1861. In Oct., 1862, he was transferred to the Amherst Artillery and fought with it the remainder of the war, a part of the time as a corporal. He was captured near Waynesboro, Va., Mar. 2, 1865 and imprisoned in Fort Delaware. He died at the age of forty-three.”

March 2

Battles: Virginia operations/Shenandoah Valley: Waynesboro. US Generals Philip Sheridan and George Custer beat CS General Jubal Early. Per Wikipedia, Federal losses are 9; Confederate losses are over 1,500 men.

Military events: Carolinas campaign. Per source 4, the US president is getting antsy:

Lincoln to Grant: “You have not sent contents of Richmond papers for Tuesday or Wednesday. Did you not receive them? If not, does it indicate anything?”

Grant to Lincoln: “Richmond papers received daily. No bulletins were sent Tuesday or Wednesday because there was not an item of either good or bad news in them. There is every indication that Genl Sherman is perfectly safe. I am looking every day for direct news from him.”

Peace: “Robert E. Lee sends a message to Ulysess S. Grant asking for a conference to ‘iron out differences’ between the North and the South.” (5, including quote) According to source 29, Lee’s actual wording was “a satisfactory adjustment of the present unhappy difficulties by means of a military convention.”

March 3

Military events: Mississippi operations: CS General Forrest gives his troops a pep talk, according to local newspapers, warning them against “being allured by syren songs of peace.” “He lists their efforts for the year: 50 battles, in which they have killed or captured 16,000 of the enemy; captured 2000 horses and mules, 67 pieces of artillery, 14 transports, 20 barges, 300 wagons, 50 ambulances, and 105 stands of arms; and destroyed 36 railroad bridges, 2,000 miles of track, 6 locomotives, and 100 railroad cars, amounting to $15,000,000 in property. [Jackson, MS, newspapers]” (24, including quotes)

Virginia operations/Shenandoah Valley: The occupation of Charlottesville begins.

Florida operations: “A naval squadron consisting of twelve steamers and four schooners commanded by Commander R.W. Shufeldt joined with Army troops under Brigadier General John Newton in a joint expedition directed against St. Marks Fort below Tallahassee, Florida. Although the expedition was not successful, in part because shallow water prevented the naval guns from approaching the Fort, the ships did succeed in crossing the bar and blockading the mouth of the St. Marks River, thus effectively preventing access to the harbor.” (27, including quote)

How A. R. Waud saw the Freedmen's Bureau in 1868.  (Library of Congress)

How A. R. Waud saw the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1868. (Library of Congress)

Emancipation: The Freedmen’s Bureau is established. (More information here and here.)

Peace: “Abraham Lincoln issues instructions on surrender discussions. He gives Grant wide-ranging powers on military matters, but reserves political matters for himself.” (5, including quote) According to source 29, Lincoln’s exact words are that Grant is “to have no conference with General Lee unless it be for the capitulation of Gen. Lee’s army…you are not to decide, discuss, or confer upon any political question. Such questions the President holds in his own hands…”

Meanwhile, in Richmond, CS President Davis tells a congressman, “In spite of the timidity and faithlessness of many who should give tone to the popular feeling and hope to the popular heart, I am satisfied that it is in the power of the good man and true patriots of the country to reanimate the wearied spirit of our people… I expect the hour of deliverance.” (29)

March 4

Military events: Alabama operations: “[US] Major General E. R. S. Canby requested mortar boats from Rear Admiral S. P. Lee’s Mississippi Squadron to participate in impending joint operations against the city of Mobile. Admiral Lee made the mortar boats available from Mound City naval station.” And to the north, “Lieutenant Moreau Forrest, in his flagship U.S.S. General Burnside and accompanied by U.S.S. General Thomas, Master Gilbert Morton, led a Tennessee River expedition which followed the course of that river across the state of Alabama. At Mussel Shoals [sic] the naval force attacked and dispersed the encampment of Confederate General Philip D. Roddey and captured horses, military equipment and cotton. Forrest then proceeded to Lamb’s Ferry where he destroyed Confederate communications and transportation facilities. He also destroyed numerous barges, boats and scows encountered along the course of the river. Finally, Forrest penetrated the Elk River, deep into the state of Tennessee, where he “found a rich and populous country” in which ‘a great deal of loyal sentiment was displayed.'” (27, including both quotes)

A note on the Lee and Forrest names given here: Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee is fighting on the Union side. He is third cousin to CS General Robert E. Lee. Another Confederate leader, General Stephen Dill Lee, who has worked in the Mississippi/Alabama/Tennessee area with General Forrest, is unrelated to either Admiral S.P. Lee or General Robert E. Lee. He has recovered from a serious wound and is currently serving with Generals Bragg and Johnston in the Carolinas.

Lieutenant Moreau Forrest comes from a well-established Maryland family. He is no relation to CS General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was born to a poor family in Bedford County, Tennessee.

North Carolina operations: “U.S. transport Thorn struck a torpedo below Fort Anderson in the Cape Fear River. Brigadier General Gabriel J. Rains, Superintendent of the Confederate Torpedo Corps and a pioneer in the development of torpedoes, reported: ‘The vessel sunk, as usual in such cases, in two minutes, but in this the crew escaped, but barely with their lives.’ The loss of the 400 ton Army steamer within two weeks of the damage to U.S.S. Osceola and destruction of a launch from U.S.S. Shawmut by torpedoes (see 222 February 1865) underscored the fact that although the Union controlled the waters below Wilmington it did not have complete freedom of movement. The presence-or even the suspected presence-of Confederate torpedoes forced the Navy to move more slowly than would otherwise have been possible.” (27, including quote)

Other: US President Lincoln is sworn in for a second term and gives his second inaugural address.

US President Lincoln, being sworn in to a second term.  (Library of Congress)

US President Lincoln, giving his second inaugural speech. Perhaps he is actually saying “with malice toward none” right now. (Library of Congress)


Per Kauffman (23):

…the careworn president renewed his oath of office in the old Senate chamber. After the ceremony, Lincoln walked to the Capitol’s east front to address the public. As he stood up to speak, the sun broke through the clouds and bathed him in a ray of bright light. He then began what many consider to be his finest speech, full of hope and promise for a reunited nation…Many people were surprised that Lincoln had made it this far. He had beaten the odds, and he stood there now, in his moment of glory, to set a brighter tone for the nation’s future. Little did he suspect that in six weeks he would die at the hands of a man he would have recognized – and who was even then standing just a few feet away.”

Booth isn’t the only nut targeting President Lincoln. Another bloody-minded man, Thomas Clemens, reportedly misses the inauguration by an hour. I don’t find anything drawing a connection between the two men. Clemens will be picked up on March 7th, having done no harm to the US president. (24)

Thousands of African Americans are also present, and frequent applause interrupts the president’s speech. (4) Vice President Andrew Johnson’s speech is probably well received, too, although he’s drunk. His doctor has given him too much medicinal alcohol to treat his typhoid fever. (5, 29) In the evening, the White House is opened from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Lincoln greets some 6,000 people…personally. (29)

Reconstruction: William Gannaway Brownlow, a long-time political foe of Andrew Johnson, is elected the first post-war governor of Tennessee. (5)

March 5

Military events: Florida operations: Confederate troops begin moving south on the Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad to meet advancing Federal forces.

March 6

Battles: Florida operations: Natural Bridge.


Lincoln assassination conspiracy: Lewis Powell first uses the alias that’s best known to history when he beats a servant girl and calls himself Lewis Paine when arrested. (23)

Other: The last photographs of a living Abraham Lincoln are taken. He looks tired. (4)

This evening, the inaugural ball is held at the Patent Office. Tickets cost ten dollars, with most of the money going to families of Federal war dead. Some 4,000 people will dine on a proper Victorian-era meal of beef, veal, poultry, oysters, terrapin, salads, jellies, tarts, ices, cakes, chocolate, and coffee. (29)

March 7

Battles: North Carolina operations. The battle of Wyse Fork begins. (24) CS General Braxton Bragg briefly slows down US General Jacob Cox’s advance from New Bern to Goldsboro.

Virginia operations: Hamilton’s Crossing. “Lieutenant Commander Hooker, commanding a naval squadron consisting of U.S.S. Commodore Read, Yankee, Delaware, and Heliotrope, joined with an Army unit in conducting a raid at Hamilton’s Crossing on the Rappahannock River six miles below Fredericksburg. Hooker reported that the expedition succeeded in ‘burning and destroying the railroad bridge, the depot, and a portion of the track….; also the telegraph line was cut and the telegraphic apparatus brought away. A train of twenty-eight cars, eighteen of them being principally loaded with tobacco, and an army wagon train were also captured and burned. A considerable number of mules were captured and some thirty or forty prisoners taken. A mail containing a quantity of valuable information was secured.’ Throughout the war, rivers were avenues of strength for the North, highways of destruction to the South, which enabled warships and joint expeditions to thrust deep into the Confederacy.” (27, including quote)

Military events: Virginia operations/Shenandoah Valley: General Sheridan leaves Charlottesville, heading for Scottsville (PDF).

March 8

Battles: North Carolina operations. The battle of Wyse Fork continues. (24)

Military events: North Carolina operations: Per source 15,

IN THE FIELD, LAUREL HILL, Wednesday, March 8, 1865.
Commanding Officer, Wilmington, North Carolina:

We are marching for Fayetteville, will be there Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and will then march for Goldsboro’.

If possible, send a boat up Cape Fear River, and have word conveyed to General Schofield that I expect to meet him about Goldsboro’. We are all well and have done finely. The rains make our roads difficult, and may delay us about Fayetteville, in which case I would like to have some bread, sugar, and coffee. We have abundance of all else. I expect to reach Goldsboro’ by the 20th instant.

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General.

Other: “The Confederate Senate voted 9 to 8 in favor of recruiting blacks as soldiersin the Confederate army. The House of Representatives had approved the bill last month.” (29, including quote)

These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.

– Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865





(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), US Naval History and Heritage Command.

(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) The Sword of Lincoln, the Army of the Potomac. Jeffrey Wert (2005)

(19) Black Artillerymen from the Civil War through World War I (PDF), Roger D. Cunningham.

(20) Siege of Petersburg, Wikipedia.

(21) Petersburg National Battlefield.

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

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

(24) Timeline 1865. State of Tennessee

(25) Up From Slavery. Booker T. Washington

(26) Civil war battles in Alabama list.

(27) Naval History of the Civil War. History Central.

(28) Arthur F. Loux. John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day. McFarland & Company. Jefferson, North Carolina. 2014. (Note: I have more confidence in Kauffman’s dates (source 23, above), but will use this to work in the other conspirators and events. Take these dates as general times of the month unless backed up by Kauffman.)

(29) The Legacy of the Civil War: March 1865.

(30) The American Civil War Photo Gallery.

(31) The Final Campaign. Talladega County American History & Genealogy Project

(32) Wilmington, Fort Fisher, and the Lifeline of the Confederacy. North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennia

Categories: American Civil War

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1 reply


  1. 150 Years Ago Today: Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1989 | pundit from another planet

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