Monday, April 28, 2014

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - April 27 - May 3,1864

April 27,1864-The Confederacy asks Canada for assistance in negotiations with the U.S. Government. President Davis sends a special commissioner to Canada.

April 27,1864-The CSS Alabama, a Confederate Raider under Captain Raphael Semmes, captures and burns the Federal bark 'Tycoon' in Brazilian waters. It turns out to be the last ship captured by the CSS Alabama.

April 27,1864-General Steele's 13,500 men escape Camden, Arkansas and head for Little Rock. They are 70 miles behind Confederate lines, low on supplies, mired in mud, outnumbered, and Confederates are in pursuit. General Edmond Kirby-Smith lays a pontoon bridge over the Ouachita River, losing several hours, and Steele gains some distance ahead of the Confederates.

April 27,1864-Admiral Porter's second attempt to run past Confederate batteries on the Red River at Alexandria, Louisiana results in the loss of the pump steamer "Champion #3" and damage to the USS Hindman and the USS Juliet. The USS Neosho arrives from downstream to assist. The three vessels proceed below Alexandria.

April 28,1864-Union forces pound the remnants of Fort Sumter with 510 additional rounds.

April 28,1864-General Egbert B. Brown orders Union forces in Johnson County, Missouri, to pursue Confederate Guerrilla William C. Quantrill.

April 28,1864-Receding water levels cause Admiral Porter to consider scuttling his squadron's three remaining vessels to prevent their capture. His message to Navy Secretary Gideon Wells states "you may judge my feelings at having to perform so painful a duty".

April 29,1864-Duty fees on all goods coming into the United States were increased by 50% to help fund the war.

April 29,1864-General Steele's Union column reaches the Saline River at Jenkin's Ferry and prepares to cross on a pontoon bridge. Confederates in pursuit are close behind.

April 29,1864-While Admiral Porter is nearly stranded at Alexandria, Colonel Joseph Bailey proposes a series of dams to raise the river level to seven feet, then open a chute and let the vessels slip through. Porter said "the proposition looks like madness and the best engineers ridicule the plan" but Porter asks General Banks to assign troops to try the plan. The result proves to be one of the most remarkable improvisations of the entire war.

April 30,1864-President Davis orders all captured slaves found fighting for the Union to be returned to their rightful owners "on proof and payment of charges".

April 30,1864-President & Mrs. Davis mourn the death of their five year old son, Joe Davis. The lad died of injuries from a fall at the Confederate White House in Richmond.

April 30,1864-The Battle of Jenkin's Ferry takes place when General John S. Marmaduke attacks the rear guard of General Steele's army. Steele manages to get the bulk of his army across the Sabine River to safety and rescues most of the rear guard soldiers. General Kirby-Smith lost his final chance to destroy Federal forces in Arkansas. The North lost 521 while the South lost 442 at Jenkin's Ferry. The U.S. 2nd Colored Infantry murdered an unknown number of prisoners in retaliation for the atrocities inflicted on African American soldiers at Poison Springs on April 18, 1864.

May 1,1864-Colonel John S. Mosby captures eight wagons at Bunker Hill, West Virginia during a raid on General Franz Sigel's army.

May 2,1864-The first session of the second Confederate Congress begins at Richmond. President Davis opens with a speech accusing the North of "barbarism" due to "plunder and devastation of the property of noncombatants, destruction of private dwellings, and even of edifices devoted to the worship of God".

May 2,1864-General Franz Sigel leads 6,500 Union troops out of Winchester, Virginia toward New Market. His orders are to destroy food and cattle in this Southern "breadbasket" territory.

May 3,1864-President Lincoln's cabinet meets with the President to discuss the recent murder of African American prisoners at Fort Pillow, Tennessee.

May 3,1864-General Grant begins the move of his 122,000 man army to an area called the Wilderness which is between General Lee's forces and Richmond, Virginia. General Meade disputes this strategy and wants to assault Lee's left flank. General Lee is confident his 66,000 men can hold off the larger force due to the tough terrain in the Wilderness area.

May 3,1864-General Steele's forces make it back to Little Rock ending the failed Red River Campaign. The disgruntled troops lost 2,750 of their members, nine cannons and 640 wagons. The Union was able to maintain partial control of the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - April 20-26, 1864

April 20,1864-Confederates capture Plymouth, North Carolina. Led by General Robert F. Hoke, a three day siege ended with the capture of 2,800 Union soldiers and a large store of supplies. Key to the Confederate success was the arrival of the Confederate ram, CSS Albemarle.  

April 20,1864-Due to reports of mistreatment of Union prisoners in Southern prison camps, the U.S. Government reduced rations to prisoners held in the North.

April 20,1864-General James H. Wilson's Union cavalry captures Macon, Georgia.

April 20,1864-General Frederick Steele receives some supplies from Pine Bluff but is soon confronted by General Edmund Kirby-Smith's forces near Camden, Arkansas. The Confederates maneuver to come between Steele and the capital at Little Rock.

April 21,1864-General Nathaniel Banks withdraws from Grand Ecore, Louisiana back to Cloutiersville while pursued by Confederate cavalry.

April 21,1864-The Federal gunboat USS Eastport, repaired and re-floated, moves down the Red River. Over the next five days, the vessel grounds itself eight time to make further repairs. The make only about 60 miles in five days.

April 22,1864-The first coins to have the "In God we trust" inscription are minted per act of congress.

April 22,1864-General Leonidas K. Polk confers by mail with President Jefferson Davis about how to treat African American prisoners. President Davis writes "If the negroes are escaped slaves, they should be held safely for recovery by their owners. If otherwise, inform me".

April 23,1864-During General Banks' retreat from Grand Ecore, Louisiana, the ford at Cane River Crossing is contested. As the only fordable point on the river, Confederate cavalry led by General Hamilton Bee seize the only ferry. Union forces counterattack and force General Bee to withdraw. General Bee is criticized for his inept operation and the Union forces lay a pontoon bridge to escape. Light losses on both sides.

April 23,1864-General Steele has a wagon train on the way to Pine Bluff to obtain supplies. Confederate General James F. Fagan sends a large cavalry force to intercept.

April 24,1864-General Steele's wagon train continues to Pine Bluff, Arkansas guarded by 500 Iowa cavalrymen. They are accompanied by about   300 escaping former slaves. Confederate forces are nearby.

April 25,1864-General Nathaniel Banks forces begin to straggle into Alexandria, Louisiana, ending the ill-fated Red River Campaign.

April 25,1864-Confederate troops under General Edmond Kirby-Smith capture 211 of General Steele's wagons at Mark's Mills, Arkansas. About 1,700 Union prisoners are taken. Enraged Southerners murder 150 African-American slaves. General Steele abandons the campaign.

April 25,1863-The CSS Alabama commanded by Captain Raphael Semmes captures the Federal vessel 'Rockingham' west of the Cape Verde Islands and sinks the Rockingham with cannon fire. The CSS Alabama has undergone an overhaul and is active after several months of slow action.

April 26,1864-Following the fall of Plymouth, North Carolina, General Ulysses S. Grant orders troops to evacuate Washington, North Carolina.

April 26,1864-General Banks enters Alexandria, Louisiana and awaits the arrival of Admiral Porter's gunboat fleet. When the Mississippi Squadron arrives, they have a running fight while passing shore batteries. The USS Cricket has heavy pump damage and the pump steamer 'Champion No 3' is crippled, drifts and is captured. The badly damaged gunboat USS Eastport is scuttled after being grounded yet again.

April 26,1864-General Steele slips his forces past the Confederate troops of Generals Kirby-Smith and Sterling Price and march back to Little Rock. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - April 13-19, 1864

April 13,1864-The USS Rachel Seaman captures the British blockade runner Maria Alford on the Mermentua River, Louisiana and the USS Nyanza captures the Confederate schooner Mandoline at Atchafalaya Bay, Louisiana.

April 14,1864-The Manhattan Fair in New York City raises $1 million for the Sanitary Commission, a relief organization for the U.S. Army. President Lincoln was guest speaker.

April 14,1864-Confederate cavalry troops commanded by General Abraham Buford read in the local newspaper that General Forrest's recent raid missed 140 army horses concealed in a foundry in Paducah, Kentucky. Buford moves on the lightly guarded foundry and takes the horses when the Union guards retreat to Fort Anderson.

April 15,1864-Tennessee Governor Andrew Jackson endorses the principles of emancipation in a speech at Knoxville.

April 15,1864-The Federal gunboat USS Eastport grounds itself on shore after striking a Confederate torpedo in the Red River near Grand Ecore, Louisiana. Repair are made.

April 16,1864-The U.S. Army reports 146,634 Confederate prisoners of war under Army control.

April 17,1864-General Ulysses S. Grant suspends all prisoner exchanges severely restricting the number of trained soldiers in the South.

April 17,1864-General Frederick Steele dispatched a foraging expedition to Camden, Arkansas in search of corn. The bulk of the 695 soldiers involved are from the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers traveling with two cannons and 198 wagons. En route, and additional 475 men join the expedition.

April 17,1864-About 7,000 Confederate's under General Robert Hoke attack at Plymouth, North Carolina where 2,834 Union infantry, cavalry, and artillery are housed. The Union post is further supported by offshore batteries.

April 18,1864-General Hoke continues the attack and captures Fort Wessels. The Union forces resist strongly and move to Fort Williams. Hoke's success depends on the arrival of the Confederate ram CSS Albemarle.

April 18,1864-Confederate Generals John S. Marmaduke and Samuel B. Maxey combine forces and attack General Steele's small Union camp at Poison Springs, Arkansas. The 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer troops resist but are far outnumbered and eventually yield. General Marmaduke orders cannon fire but is overruled by General Maxey. General Maxey secures the wagons. Poison Springs is a significant Union defeat. Most of the Union dead are African American volunteers captured in battle and slaughtered by Missouri, Arkansas, and Choctaw Confederates.

April 18,1864-The CSS Albemarle departs Hamilton, North Carolina and sails down the Roanoke River toward the beseiged Plymouth. Engine trouble and steering problems slow progress.

April 19,1864-The huge Confederate steam ram CSS Albemarle attacks at Plymouth, North Carolina, sinking the USS Southfield, killing ship commander C.W. Flusser. The Union vessels draw off and the Confederates control the water approaches to Plymouth.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - April 6-12,1864

April 6,1864-At New Orleans, the Louisiana legislature adopts a new state constitution abolishing slavery.

April 6,1864-General Nathaniel Banks continues his march with units strung out on a narrow road some distance from the Red River. He is rapidly approaching General Richard Taylor's Confederate forces at Mansfield.

April 7,1864-General Longstreet's Confederate I Corps is ordered to return to the Army of Northern Virginia. They depart Greeneville, Tennessee.

April 8,1864-The 13th Amendment to the Constitution is approved by the U.S. Congress on a 38 to 6 vote. Slavery is abolished in all territories controlled by the United States.

April 8,1864-The 18,000 man Union army under General Banks confronts General Taylor's 8,000 Confederates at Sabine Crossroads near Mansfield, Louisiana. Bank's unit is strung out nearly single file while Taylor's troops are behind field works. Mansfield proves to be the decisive battle of the Red River Campaign and the largest battle waged in the Trans-Mississippi Theater.  Taylor's Division Commander General Alfred Moulton is killed along with about 1000 other Confederates. Banks losses are severe with 2,235 killed, missing, or wounded plus 20 cannons, 200 wagons, 1,000 draft animals lost.

April 9,1864-The Union strategy for the final push of the war, with five major components, is announced by General Grant. General Nathaniel Banks will capture Mobile, General William Sherman will seize Atlanta, General Fritz Seigel will advance down the Shenandoah Valley destroying the food source, General Benjamin Butler will descend on Richmond, and General George Meade will follow General Robert E. Lee where ever he goes.

April 9,1864-General Banks consolidates his scattered force and is joined by reinforcement from General Andrew Smith's XVI Corps. Near Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, the Northern forces await General Taylor's appearance. Taylor's troops mount an attack around 4:30 PM but are forced to pull back by nightfall. This tactical victory is the Union's last battle of the Red River Campaign.

April 10,1864-The Red River Campaign grounds are abandoned as General Banks withdraws to Grand Ecore, Louisiana and General Taylor is ordered back to Mansfield by General Edmund Kirby Smith.

April 10,1864-Confederate troops south of the Tennessee-Georgia line capture Mary Edwards Walker, the U.S. Army's only woman surgeon. She is released about four months later.

April 10,1864-Admiral Porter reaches Springfield Landing, Louisiana, 30 miles below Shreveport. The sunken Confederate steamer 'New Falls City' blocks the river. Falling water levels and news of the defeat at Sabine Crossing hinders further progress.

April 11,1864-Admiral Porter works to move his gunships over the Alexandria Rapids and continue upstream. The majority of his Squadron becomes trapped upstream due to the dipping water levels.

April 11,1864-Arkansas inaugurates the pro-Union administration of Dr. Isaac Murphy at Little Rock.

April 12,1864-1,500 Confederate cavalry troops surround Fort Pillow, Tennessee on the Mississippi River. Fort Pillow, an open design earthwork with little protection, is defended by 557 Union soldiers, 262 of them African Americans, all commanded by Major Lionel F. Booth.
General James R. Chambers leads the Confederate cavalry charge and seizes the outer works and cannons. Confederate reinforcements arrive mid morning with General Nathan B. Forrest who concludes the fort cannot be defended. Major Booth is killed and successor Fort Pillow commander Major William F. Bradford refuses Forrest's surrender demand. The earthwork fort soon falls with 231 Union soldiers killed, 100 wounded, and 226 captured. Only 58 African American troops survived and Forrest is accused of a massacre of black soldiers. "Remember Fort Pillow" became a rallying cry for black troops.

April 12,1864-Admiral David Porter moves the Mississippi Squadron and several transport back down the Red River and they engage Southern troops at Blair's Landing, Louisiana. Confederate General Thomas Green, commander of cavalry and artillery units on shore and is one of the first of about 300 Confederates killed. Interesting side note: the USS Osage crew successfully uses a jerry-rigged periscope to direct naval fire.