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".