Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - May 25-31, 1864

May 25,1864-General U.S. Grant's Army of the Potomac prepares to move east toward Cold Harbor after little progress along the North Anna River. The Confederates miss a chance to crush Grant's widely scattered army when they fail to attack. General Robert E. Lee is still too ill to order any action.

May 25,1864-In another Union plan to entice Robert E. Lee to be drawn away from Richmond, General David Hunter receives orders to move down the Shenandoah Valley, capture the rail junction at Lynchburg and then threaten Charlottsville.

May 25,1864-Just 25 miles north of Atlanta, General Joseph Hooker, commanding the XX Corps, encounters General John Bell Hood's Confederates. Hooker is repulsed and eventually is force to retire from the field. Union losses are about 1,600.

May 25,1864-In an unsuccessful attempt to sink the CSS Albemarle steam ram, the USS Mattabesett tows two 100 pound torpedoes up the Middle River, North Carolina. Several swimmers jump overboard to get closer to the Albemarle but are detected. They swim to safety, escape capture, and are awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

May 26,1864-Japanese authorities threaten to close the port at Kanagawa to all foreign commerce. Robert H. Pruyn, U.S. Minister to Japan, requests that the USS Jamestown be dispatched to that port as a show of force.

May 26,1864-The Montana Territory is formed by taking land out of the Idaho and Dakota Territories.

May 26,1864-The Union Army of the Potomac turns General R.E.Lee's right flank by crossing the North Anna River and marching toward the Pamunkey River.

May 26,1864-Dallas, Georgia is occupied by Union forces under General James McPherson.

May 26,1864-General Hunter continues toward Staunton, Virginia from Strasburg but is slowed by felled trees and other obstacles put in place by General John Imboden's Confederate Cavalry.

May 27,1864-Between New Hope and Dallas, Georgia the Confederate line is probed by General Sherman's Corp commanders. General Oliver O. Howard's IV Corps is repulsed at Pickett's Mill by General Patrick Cleburne's troops. This success prompts General Johnston to order an attack for the following morning to be led by General John B. Hood.

May 27,1864- General George Custer leads his cavalry in the capture of Hanovertown, Virginia after crossing the Pamunkey River.

May 28,1864-Maximillian, puppet emperor of Austria, arrives in Vera Cruz, Mexico. Maximillian is backed by French Emperor Napoleon III and is opposed to Benito Juarez, Mexican politician turned guerrilla. The United States considers Maximillian's presence a violation of the Monroe Doctrine and sends diplomatic protests but little more is possible due to the Civil War.

May 28,1864-General Hood inspects the Union lines and considers the line strongly entrenched. General Johnston calls off the assault planned for this day.

May 28,1864-Robert E. Lee shifts his headquarters to Atlee's Station, Virginia to have a better view of Union movement toward Richmond. The Army of the Potomac continues down the north bank of the Pamunkey River, looking for a place to cross and attack Lee's right. Union cavalry led by General David Gregg and Confederate General Wade Hampton's troops enter a mounted skirmish at Haw's Shop, Virginia. Hampton's force is armed with long range Enfield rifles and they have the upper hand. General George Custer's Michigan cavalry arrives and the "Wolverines", armed with rapid fire Spencer Carbines, engage the Confederates and force them to withdraw.

May 29,1864-General Lee moves toward Cold Harbor while General Grant continues toward Richmond. Neither commander has firm information about the movement of the opposing force.

May 29,1864-General Jubel A. Early becomes the leader of the Confederate II Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. This corps was formerly under the command of "Stonewall" Jackson.

May 30,1864-General Grant suddenly swings toward Cold Harbor, just 10 miles from Richmond. The Confederates withdraw to a new defensive line at Cold Harbor.

May 30,1864-General Morgan begins his final raid across Union lines by entering Kentucky.

May 31,1864-Radical Republicans meet at Cleveland, Ohio and nominate former Union General John Fremont and General John Cochrane of New York as their Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. Among Fremont's strongest supporters is African-American Frederick Douglass who feels that President Lincoln is far too lenient toward Southerners in his early plans for Reconstruction.

May 31,1864-While General Grant's Overland Campaign is a series of tactical failures, the end result is a strategic success. In just one month, he has moved from the Rapidan River to the doorstep of Richmond. This was a very bloody month however.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - May 18-24, 1864

May 18,1864-Union cavalry troops capture Rome, Georgia when Confederate General Samuel G. French is dislodged. General Kenner Garrard leads the Union cavalry.

May 18,1864-The last recorded action of the Trans-Mississippi region, also known as the Red River campaign, takes place at Yellow Bayou, Louisiana when Admiral David Porter's fleet is fired on by General John Liddell's cavalry unit.

May 19,1864-New England writer Nathaniel Hawthorne dies at Plymouth, New Hampshire. He was a respected novelist of the era.

May 19,1864-General Richard Ewell attempts a counterattack on Federal troops marching away from Spotsylvania Court House. During this last battle at Spotsylvania, losses mount to about 2,400 total. Grant has lost 17,500 of his 110,000 men at Spotsylvania and 33,000 in the entire Wilderness Campaign. Confederate losses are uncertain.

May 19,1864-General Joseph Johnston orders General John B. Hood to counterattack the scattered Union XXIII Corps but then countermands his order and moves to Allatoona Pass, Georgia. Generals Hardee and Polk protest as they would rather stand and fight.

May 20,1864-General Grant marches toward Hanover Station, 24 mile north of Richmond, with the intent of crushing Lee's Army before they can entrench.

May 20,1864-The Battle of Ware Bottom Church, Virginia, keeps General Butler's troops bottled up at Bermuda Hundred next to the earthworks of General Beauregard's force.

May 21,1864-Secretary of State Seward instructs U.S. minister to France, John Bigelow, to issue a mild protest against French interference with Mexico but to avoid any confrontation until the Civil War is over.

May 21,1864-General Grant gains the strategic initiative over General Lee by flanking the Confederate Army, crossing the North Anna River, and forcing Lee to react or follow.

May 21,1864-Union General Franz Sigel, having lost the battle of New Market, is relieved by General David Hunter.

May 22,1864-General Lee moves into defensive positions along the North Anna River.

May 22,1864-General Sherman again outflanks General Joe Johnston's forces, bypassing them at Allatoona, Georgia. Johnston falls back to Dallas, Georgia.

May 23,1864-The Union II Corps deploys on the northern bank of the North Anna River and the IX Corps occupies Jericho Mills. The V and VI Corps set-up west of Jericho Mills and dig in.

May 23,1864-General John H. Morgan begins an extended raid into Kentucky.

May 23,1864-The side-wheeler USS Columbine runs aground in mud at Horse Landing, Palata, Florida. The 2nd Florida Cavalry captures the crew and burns the vessel. Twenty of the crew members are killed.

May 24,1864-The Army of the Potomac again crosses the North Anna River, this time on a pontoon bridge. General Grant joins with General Sheridan, just returned from his raid near Richmond. General Lee has moved his army into an inverted V formation, trying to entice Grant into a trap.  General Lee suddenly falls ill and no attack goes forward. Grant perceives the danger and moves back across the North Anna.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - May 11-17, 1864

May 11,1864-General J.E.B. Stuart's 4,500 cavalrymen are attacked by a larger Union force under General Philip Sheridan's command at Yellow Tavern, just six miles north of Richmond. Fighting lasts from about 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM with neither force gaining the advantage. General George Custer masses for a charge on the Confederate left and scatters General Lunsford Lomax's brigade. General Stuart leads a sharp counterattack and drives Custer back to his original line but Stuart is mortally shot in the abdomen and dies the next day.

May 11,1864-General Grant enters battle near Spotsylvania Court House despite heavy losses the previous day. Grant's entire II Corps commanded by General Winfield Hancock assaults in column, fully expecting to take the "Mule Shoe". General Lee concludes from reports that Hancock is trying to flank his left and orders cannons to be moved from the Mule Shoe, which becomes vulnerable.

May 11,1864-General Franz Sigel is surprised by General John D. Imboden's cavalry at Port Royal. Imboden takes 464 Union prisoners but Sigel continues down the Shenandoah Valley.

May 12,1864-In fighting that lasted more than twelve hours, General Grant and General Lee lose over 28,000 men. The "Bloody Angle" at Spotsylvania Court House enters the history books. The fact that General Lee technically won, suffering fewer losses, attests to the value of earthen works against a larger adversary.

May 12,1864-General Benjamin Butler's 15,000 man Army of the James leaves their defensive works and move into position at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia.

May 12,1864-General John C. Breckenridge moves to Staunton, Virginia with 5,500 men. His force is made up of regular army soldiers, militia men, and cadets from Virginia Military Institute.

May 12,1864-General Joseph E. Johnston begins a pattern of advance and retreat in advance of General W.T. Sherman's forces. The move from Dalton, Georgia to Resaca is the first in a series of similar moves, all the way to Atlanta.

May 12,1864-The first anti-torpedo (mine) unit is established on the James River by Admiral Samuel P. Lee with the USS Stepping Stone, Delaware, and Tritonia put on 24 hour patrol.

May 13,1864-General Sheridan withdraws from the Richmond area.

May 13,1864-At Drewry's Bluff, Confederate General Robert F. Hoke's 15,000 men are nearly captured by Benjamin Butler's Army of the James but Butler suspends his attack. This tactical blunder, one of several in Butler's questionable leadership career, prompts General Beauregard to counterattack, sending Butler all the way back to Bermuda Hundred.
May 13,1864-Union forces send 1,140 more rounds into the ruble of Fort Sumter where defiant soldiers continue to hold out.

May 13,1864-Dalton, Georgia is occupied by Union forces as they move through Snake Creek Gap. They fail to trap Johnston's Confederate force which moves some 13 miles south of Resaca.

May 14,1864-North of New Market, Virginia, General Sigel's Union forces skirmish General Imboden's Confederates.

May 14,1864-The Resaca Battle takes place with few measurable gains for either side. General George H. Thomas's Division drives General Hood's advance against the Union left back to the starting point.

May 15,1864-The Battle of Reseca resumes as General Joseph Hooker engages General John B. Hood on the Union left. A confusing, costly battle results in heavy losses on both sides in excess of 11,000 men over the two days.

May 15,1864-At New Market, Virginia General Breckenridge occupies a defensive position when General Sigel advances. The fight opens with an artillery dual but Breckenridge orders a Confederate charge, driving Sigel back through New Market to the cheers of the town residents. Union artillery again opens from high ground and stops Breckenridge. A gap opens in the Confederate line and 264 VMI Cadets advance to fill in. The Union troops fall back across the Shenandoah River to Strasburg. Ten VMI Cadets are killed and 47 wounded among total losses for both sides of 1,361.

May 16,1864-In heavy fog at Drewry's Bluff, General Beauregard launches an attack. Due to the fog, a flanking movement to turn General William Smith's XVIII Corps right is undetected. The Confederates are rebuffed but Benjamin Butler withdraws behind fortifications and is unable to effectively move on Richmond or Petersburg as he is bottled up on the Bermuda Hundred Peninsula.

May 16,1864-General Grant again suffers heavy casualties when General Richard Ewell charges across open ground at Spotsylvania Court House. Ewell has 29 cannon in support. General Grant disengages and marches southeast toward Richmond, deciding General Lee's position is too strong.

May 17,1864-General Johnston abandons Resaca and moves toward Kingston, Georgia. General Sherman follows.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - May 4-10, 1864

May 4,1864-General Grant and General Meade lead a veteran 122,000 man Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan River into a heavily forested area called the Wilderness. General Lee and his 66,000 men advance to engage the Union force, trying to force the battle to the thickest pine scrub forested area to negate the numerical odds.

May 4,1864-General Lee orders General Longstreet to march his I Corps to the Wilderness woods to augment General Ewell's II Corps and General Ambrose Hill's III Corp. Meanwhile, Union General Benjamin Butler transports his Army of the James from Fortress Monroe toward Richmond.

May 4,1864-In the West, General Sherman leaves Chattanooga, Tennessee with his 110,000 man Army. General Joseph E. Johnston is just below Chattanooga in northern Georgia. Sherman's immediate goal is Atlanta.

May 5,1864-The Battle of the Wilderness erupts along the Orange Turnpike. In a seesaw struggle with heavy casualties on both sides, neither Army could claim significant advances.

May 5,1864-General Butler's Army of the James arrives at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia. They are within marching distance of Richmond which is lightly defended due to the Wilderness area fighting.

May 5,1864-In the Albemarle Sound off Plymouth, North Carolina, the ironclad ram CSS Albemerle, under Commander James W. Cooke, and escorts CSS Bombshell and CSS Cotton Plant engage Union warships. Commander Cooke has two banded Brooke rifles and heavy armor in his favor while the Union vessels have a combined total of 60 cannons. After broadside exchanges, the ironclad Albemarle is undamaged. Union Captain Melancthon Smith orders his USS Sassacus to charge the CSS Albemarle at full steam. The collision damages both ships but the Albemarle puts a point blank shot through the Sasscus's boiler. This exchange is a technical draw but leaves the coastal Confederate forces without naval support.

May 6,1864-Stand Watie, a Cherokee Chief, is appointed brigadier general,C.S.A.

May 6,1864-The Battle of the Wilderness continues along the Orange Plank Road. General Longstreet arrives with his I Corps and attacks General Winfield Hancock's II Corps. General Longstreet is seriously wounded by friendly fire and General Micah Jenkin's, riding alongside him, is killed. This incident occurred very near the spot where General "Stonewall" Jackson was killed. The Union forces begin a march 25 miles south toward Rocky Face Ridge.

May 8,1864-Near Spotsylvania Court House, a three mile skirmish line forms opposite Confederate earthworks. General Gouverneur Warren's V Corps and John Sedgewick's VI Corps are repelled. General Lee orders trees to be felled, trenches dug, and defensive lines strengthened within the existing earthworks. A protruding double salient is named the "Mule Shoe". Confederate troops are heavily entrenched and have ample supplies.

May 9,1864-The Army of the Potomac deploys by forming an arc outside the Confederate lines at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia. The Federals outnumber the Confederates about 100,00 to 60,000.

May 9,1864-General Philip H. Sheridan commands seven cavalry brigades with about 10,000 men and plans a raid against Richmond. This effort is to lure General J.E.B. Stuart's Confederate Cavalry out of Richmond where Sheridan can overwhelm Stuart. The raid deprives General Grant's Army of the Potomac the ability to reconnoiter Confederate positions.

May 9,1864-General John Sedgwick is killed by a sniper at Spotsylvania just moments after stating "They couldn't kill an elephant at this distance".

May 9,1864-The railroad breastworks at Cloyd's Mountain, Virginia becomes a major battle site when Union troops try to destroy the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes leads the Union soldiers on the right with stiff resistance. Losses on both sides are heavy and Confederate General Albert Jenkins is seriously wounded. The New River bridge is burned, cutting the railroad.

May 9,1864-The Buzzard's Roost, Georgia and nearby Rocky Face Ridge are skirmish sites. General James B. McPherson moves through Snake River Gap and gets behind General Joseph Johnston's, Confederate Army.

May 10,1864-General Grant orders an attack on the center of the Confederate line at Spotsylvania Court House after General Lee weakens his center by moving reinforcements to the flanks. The center assault is at the "Mule Shoe".

May 10,1864-General J.E.B. Stuart moves through Beaver Dam Station, Virginia in pursuit of General Sheridan's raiding army that has destroyed Confederate meat and bread rations vital to Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. A Union force under Generals Lunsford Lomax and William Wickham move into blocking position at Yellow Tavern, six miles north of Richmond.

May 10,1864-Colonel John Mosby attacks Union Cavalry at Front Royal, Virginia and General John Morgan battles General William Averell's cavalry at Wytheville, Virginia.

May 10,1864-On the Red River near Alexandria, Louisiana, Admiral David Porter reports that his four ship squadron successfully slips through  rapids created when a hastily constructed log and earthen dam designed to raise the water level suddenly collapses, causing an effective chute. Porter reports to Navy Secretary Welles, "The passage of these vessels was a beautiful sight, only to be realized when seen".