Saturday, February 1, 2014

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - February 2-8, 1864

February 2,1864-At least 129 Confederate deserters take the loyalty oath to the United States at Chattanooga, Tennessee.

February 2,1864-At New Bern, North Carolina, General Pickett directs General Robert Hoke to withdraw back to Kinston. Little would be remembered of this failed attack except 22 former Confederate soldiers were caught wearing Union uniforms and were subsequently hanged following a controversial 'drumhead' trial. ( A drumhead trial is a court martial in the field so named because a drum head is a flat surface always readily available for use as a table)

February 2,1864-Confederate Commander John T. Woods, aboard one of the boats in the Neuse River near New Bern, directs his crew to capture the USS Underwriter, a side wheel steamer. Failing to get the steam pressure back up, the Underwriter is burned. The Confederate Congress formally expresses thanks to Commander Woods.

February 3,1864-President Jefferson Davis suspends writs of habeas corpus in cases of spying and desertion.

February 3,1864-Departing Vicksburg with 26,800 men, General William T. Sherman heads for Colliersville, Tennessee. The ultimate destination is Meridian, Mississippi, 120 miles to the east. Intending to clear Confederate force from northern Mississippi and to devastate the region by destroying railroads, cotton, wheat, and other food, this is a forerunner of Sherman's "March to the Sea".

February 4,1864-Union forces of General James B. McPherson link up with General Sherman at Champions Hill, Mississippi. About 8,000 Cavalry under General William Sooy Smith also join Sherman's forces. Smith's cavalry left Vicksburg after the main element departed.

February 5,1864-Major John Mosby's attack on the rear guard of a Union unit at Aldie, Virginia results in the capture of several of Mosby's raiders. One of the Confederates captured is Pvt William E. Ormsby, a deserter from Company E, 2nd Massachusets Brigade who joined Mosby on January 24th. He was summarily tried by drumhead court and executed.

February 5,1864-General Sherman's troops approach Jackson, Mississippi after a light skirmish with Confederate forces under General Wirt Adams.

February 6,1864-The Confederate Congress outlaws the possession of U.S. paper money and the importation of luxury items. Half of all food and tobacco exports must be surrendered to Confederate agents before ships leave port.

February 7,1864-The Confederacy formally supports French-controlled Mexico and Napoleon III's government where Emperor Maximilian is the  puppet governor. William Preston becomes Confederate envoy to Mexico City. The Confederate hope is diplomatic recognition and military intervention.

February 7,1864-General Truman Seymour begins a campaign from Jacksonville, Florida to deprive the Confederacy of food, cattle, and grain.

February 7,1864-General Leonidas Polk abandons Brandon, Mississippi as General Sherman's large force approaches.

February 8,1864-Confederate Generals Stephen D. Lee and William W. Loring combine forces at Morton, Mississippi and fall back toward Meridian before the army of General Sherman.