Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Civil War - 150 Years Ago This Week – December 8 - 15, 1863

Compiled by Jim Hachtel, President 

Gen. William T. Sherman Memorial Civil War Roundtable

December 8, 1863 - President Lincoln offers his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction in an opening address to the 38th Congress, in session in Washington. All Southerners in any of the seceded states can take a loyalty oath and, when fully 10% of the voters of that state have taken the oath and that state abolishes slavery that state's sitting government can reorganize. Radical Republicans in the north find the offer too conciliatory.

December 8, 1863 - General William W. Averell moves to Salem, Virginia to carry out a raid on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. General Eliakim P. Scammon's cavalry rides from Charleston, West Virginia to Lewisburg in support.

December 9, 1863 - Citing his slow reaction to orders during the Chattanooga Campaign, General Ambrose E. Burnside is replaced as commander of the Department of the Ohio by order of General Grant. The new commander is General John G. Foster. In the Confederate Army, General James Longstreet draws up charges against several members of his staff for slow reaction to his order to storm Fort Saunders at Knoxville.

December 11, 1863 - At Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, a random Union shot hits the ammunition magazine which explodes killing 11 and wounding 41 Confederate soldiers. The defenders refuse to surrender.

December 12, 1863 - Beginning on this date, many supplies sent by Sanitary Commissions and packages from families of men in Southern prisons are refused by Confederate authorities.

December 12, 1863 - Charles City Court House, Virginia is the scene of a Union raid that captures 90 Southerners.

December 13, 1863 - General Mosby's Partisan Raiders attack a sleeping Union camp at Germantown, Virginia. They capture two soldiers and several horses.

December 13, 1863 - A force of 4,000 Union cavalry occupies Bean's Station, Tennessee while in pursuit of General James Longstreet's force as they leave Knoxville. General James M. Shackleford continues to push his Union soldiers further from his supporting infantry. General Longstreet turns on his pursuers and attempts to destroy Shackleford's force but fails. Later that night, Longstreet sends Generals William Martin and William Jones on circuitous routes to get behind General Shackleford's small force.

December 14, 1863 - Using artillery, General Longstreet tries to distract General Shackleford's force while two columns strike their flank and rear. The Union troops make an orderly retreat through Bean's Gap to Blain's Crossroad and dig in behind a rail breastwork. Confederate forces decline to attack this strong position and withdraw. Bean's Station is the last action of the dreary Knoxville campaign. Confederate losses are 182 dead, 768 wounded, and 142 missing (1,092). Union losses are 92 dead, 394 wounded, and 207 missing (693).

December 14, 1863 - Emilie Todd Helm, Mrs. Lincoln's half sister, is granted general amnesty when she visits the White House and takes the loyalty oath.

December 15, 1863 - General Jubel A. Early is appointed commander of the Confederate Valley District, Virginia. General Early leads a sortie from Hanover Junction, Virginia to cut off General Averell at Millborough where he continues to destroy railroad assets.