Friday, November 22, 2013

October 29 - November 12 ,1861

Compiled by Jim Hachtel, President
Gen. William T. Sherman Memorial Civil War Roundtable

Note: Again this issue covers two weeks of Civil War activity as the first winter of the war begins.

October 29, 1861 - Commodore Samuel F. Du Pont departs Hampton Roads, Virginia with 17 warships, 25 transports, and 25 supply ships along with 13,000 Union troops commanded by General Thomas W. Sherman. They intend to capture Port Royal, South Carolina (between Charleston and Savannah). This large flotilla encounters heavy seas and is widely scattered.

October 30, 1861 - President Jefferson Davis confronts General Pierre G.T. Beauregard about his report on the Battle of First Manassas. The President had claimed Beauregard attempted to "exalt yourself at my expense." The two never reconciled.

October 30, 1861 - Confederate forces sink stone-filled barges near Fort Donelson, Tennessee (on the Cumberland River) to obstruct Union gunboats.

October 31, 1861 - At Neosho, Missouri, southern leaning legislators vote to side with the Confederacy. The state remained divided and was claimed by both sides throughout the war.

October 31, 1861 - General Winfield Scott voluntarily resigns due to poor health and his age of 75. He resides at West Point, NY throughout the rest of the Civil War.

November 1, 1861 - General George B. McClellan, 35 years old with a high reputation but little experience, replaces General Scott as General in Chief of the Union Army.

November 1, 1861 - Confederate troops under General John B. Floyd botch an attack on General Rosecrans at Gauley Bridge and Cotton Hill in western Virginia. Confederate withdrawal from the area is now complete.

November 1, 1861 - General Ulysses S. Grant arrives in Cairo, Illinois and plans his advance on Columbus, Kentucky.

November 1, 1861 - General John C. Fremont concluded the prisoner exchange with General Sterling Price. Fremont exceeds his authority by releasing civilians now in military custody and President Lincoln negates his order.

November 2, 1861 - General John C. Fremont is relieved of command of the Department of the West at Springfield, Missouri and is temporarily replaced by General David Hunter.

November 4, 1861 -Commodore Samuel F. Du Pont finally reaches Port Royal Sound, South Carolina after several days at sea. (See note of October 29,1861.) The flotilla completes their mission and withdraws.

November 4, 1861 - General Thomas J. Jackson moves his headquarters to Winchester, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley.

November 4, 1861 - President Davis and General P. G. T. Beauregard argue over strategy. Davis consults Generals Robert E. Lee and Samuel Cooper in his frustration with Beauregard.

November 5, 1861 - General Robert E. Lee assumes command of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

November 6, 1861 - The Confederate Congress elects President Jefferson Davis as permanent chief executive of the Confederate States of America.

November 6, 1861 - General Fremont, still acting as if he is commander of the Department of the West, orders U.S. Grant to Belmont to decrease the Confederate pressure on the rest of Missouri. (Interestingly, the several sources used to put this historical review together do not agree on the date President Lincoln finally relieved Fremont or the date Fremont actually steps down. I have found a range of dates from October 24th through November 4th. I selected November 2, 1861 as the most reliable date reported as it comes from Samuel M. Schmucker's 1861 report in THE CIVIL WAR IN THE UNITED STATES published in 1865.)

November 6, 1861 - General U.S. Grant makes an amphibious descent from Cairo, Illinois with two infantry brigades, artillery, and cavalry. His destination is Belmont, Missouri, directly across from Columbus, Kentucky.

November 7, 1861 - General Leonidas Polk and General Gideon Pillow repulse General U. S. Grant at Belmont, Missouri.

November 7, 1861 - The Southern Blockading Squadron under Commodore Samuel F. Du Pont (October 29 and November 4, 1861 entries) disembarks General Thomas Sherman and his 13,000 troops, and then fires on Forts Beauregard and Walker at Port Royal. Port Royal and Hilton Head become major Union coaling stations throughout the war.

November 8, 1861 - General Robert E. Lee directs coastline evacuation of Confederate troops (except at Fort Pulaski) in light of the Port Royal loss.

November 9, 1861 - General Thomas Sherman captures the city of Beauford with support from gunboats of the blockading squadron.

November 9, 1861 - In a major Union restructuring, General Henry Halleck becomes commander of the new Department of Missouri, which includes Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, and western Kentucky. General Don C. Buell replaces General William T. Sherman as head of the Department of the Cumberland, which is enlarged and renamed the Department of Ohio.

November 11, 1861 - General Leonidas Polk is wounded when a cannon explodes during test firing at Columbus, Kentucky.

November 12, 1861 - The British built steamer Fingal delivers military cargo to Savannah, Georgia and is armed and rechristened CSS Atlanta.