The American Civil War 150th Anniversary – March 23-29, 1864

General Grant and staff, 1864.

General Grant and staff, 1864.

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

US General James Wilson is raiding northern Alabama. His 13,000 cavalry, 1,500 infantry, and three artillery batteries have split up. One division is heading through Russellville to Saunder’s Ferry on the west fork of the Black Warrior River; two more are heading for the Montevallo and Tuscaloosa area where there are iron mines and foundries working for the Confederate Ordnance Department.

Meanwhile, after Sherman finishes his march through the Carolinas, Grant is now ready to move against Petersburg and Richmond.

March 23

Military events: US President Lincoln leaves for Grant’s headquarters at City Point where he will remain until the fall of Richmond. (4)

Carolinas operations: US Generals Sherman and Schofield meet at Goldsboro, North Carolina, bringing the campaign to a successful conclusion. (27)

Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA.

Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA.

March 24

Military events: Alabama operations/Wilson’s Raid: CS General Richard Taylor orders General Forrest to concentrate his forces around Selma, where Wilson is expected to head. (3)

March 25

Battles: Virginia operations/Siege of Petersburg: Lee tries unsuccessfully to break through Grant’s lines at Fort Stedman.

Military events: Alabama operations/Wilson’s Raid: Forrest sends Armstrong’s brigade and an artillery battery to Selma. (3)

Lincoln conspiracy: Booth returns to Washington from New York. (21)

March 26

Military events: Alabama operations/Wilson’s Raid: Forrest sends three more brigades to Selma. (3)

March 27

Battles: Alabama operations/Mobile: The battle of Spanish Fort starts.

Pontoon bridge at Broadway Landing, Appomattox River.  (Library of Congress)

Pontoon bridge at Broadway Landing, Appomattox River. (Library of Congress)

Military events: Virginia operations/Siege of Petersburg: It is time to move. Overnight, Grant starts three infantry and divisions and one division of cavalry across the Appomattox River. The goal is the road intersection at Five Forks, on the Confederate western flank, six miles north of Dinwiddie Court House. (16)

Alabama operations/Wilson’s Raid: Forrest sets out for Selma. In Columbus, Mississippi, scouts tell him Wilson is heading for Montevallo. Forrest changes direction and heads for Tuscaloosa. He also orders one of the brigades that are in motion to go to Tuscaloosa rather than Selma. Meanwhile, Wilson is at Jasper. Upon learning that a Confederate division is nearby (under CS General Chalmers), he hurries on toward Montevallo. (3)

Lincoln conspiracy: Booth learns that the Lincolns will be seeing several opera performances p. 194. He learns that Mrs. Lincoln has a secured a Ford’s box for the 29th. Booth tries to assemble his team, but can’t. The other conspirators have given it up after last week’s failed attempt. Sam Arnold writes him a letter saying that the summons caught him by surprise and that revival of the plot would raise suspicion in his family. He urges Booth to avoid haste and “see how it will be taken in R______d” before doing anything. Arnold isn’t sure he should mail it but after thinking about it for a few days he does. (21)

March 28

Battles: Alabama operations/Mobile: The battle of Spanish Fort continues.

Peace: President Lincoln, Generals Grant and Sherman, and Admiral David Porter discuss future operations and terms of a peace settlement. (16)

March 29

Battles: Alabama operations/Mobile: The battle of Spanish Fort continues.

Virginia operations/Siege of Petersburg: Lewis’s Farm.

Military events: Virginia operations/Siege of Petersburg: General Philip Sheridan’s cavalry division also moves out. Clashes begin at Dinwiddie Court House. It starts raining and the roads turn to mud, prompting one US officer to say, “[I]t looked as if saving of the army would require the services, not of a Grant, but of a Noah.” (16)

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

“Let them once surrender and reach their homes, they won’t take up arms again. Let them all go, officers and all. I want submission, and no more bloodshed. Let them have their horses to plow with, and, if you like, their guns to shoot crows with. I want no one punished; threat them liberally all around. We want those people to return to their allegiance to the Union and submit to the laws. Again I say, give them the most liberal and honorable terms.” (Source)




(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) CWSAC Battle Summaries

(11) The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War.” (2002) David J. Eicher.

(12) The Pictorial Book of Anecdotes and Incidents of the War of the Rebellion…, Richard Miller Devens (1866).

(13) Memoirs of W. T. Sherman

(14) The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience During the Civil War. James G. Hollandsworth, Jr., 1995.

(15) A. Lincoln, A Biography, Ronald C. White, Jr. (2009)

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

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

(18) Siege of Petersburg, Wikipedia.

(19) Petersburg National Battlefield.

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

(21) Michael W. Kauffman. American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies. Random House. New York. 2004. (Note: I use this source heavily for details of the assassination; it is probably the best general-information book on the assassination out there. However, for balance, here is an informed review of its pros and cons, and much, much more.)

(22) Timeline 1865. State of Tennessee

(23) Up From Slavery. Booker T. Washington

(24) Civil war battles in Alabama list.

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

(26) 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.)

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

(28) The American Civil War Photo Gallery.

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

(30) The Mobile Campaign: Battle of Fort Blakely and Spanish Fort. Blakeley State Park.

(31) Wilson’s Raid. Wikipedia.

Categories: Random thoughts

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