Saturday, December 20, 2014

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - December 21-27, 1864

December 21,1864-Union General Benjamin H. Grierson, best known for his cavalry raids at Vicksburg, leaves Memphis to destroy the Mobile and Ohio Railroad in northern Alabama and Mississippi.

December 22,1864-Union General George Stoneman led a cavalry raid to Saltsville in western Virginia and returns to Knoxville. The raid lasted 12 days, covered 460 miles, and his troops capture 900 men and 19 cannon.

December 23,1864-President Lincoln approves the congressional legislation that created the rank of vice admiral. David G. Farragut is the first to hold the rank, equivalent to a lieutenant general.

December 23,1864- Benjamin F. Butler and his 65,000 man expedition finally arrives at Fort Fisher aboard warships under David D. Porter's command. Fort Fisher in Wilmington, North Carolina, is the most formidable coastal fortification in the confederacy. An earth work structure 480 yards long and 60 feet high protects 50 mounted cannon and a 1,500 man garrison under Colonel William Lamb.

December 24,1864-The USS Louisiana, laden with explosives intended to be detonated under the guns of Fort Fisher, prematurely explodes 250 yards away from the objective, with little damage to the fort. The other 60 warships under Admiral Porter's control bombard the fort at a rate of 115 shells per minute, also with little damage.

December 25,1864-General Butler lands 2,200 men 75 yards from Fort Fisher and they move toward the fort, capturing Half Moon Battery as they advance. A strong fire from the 1,500 man garrison and the advance of 500 more men sent by General R.E. Lee checks Butler's advance. Deciding any further assault could be too costly, Butler withdraws and transports his troops to Hampton Roads.

December 25,1864-Butler's hasty retreat results in about 700 Union soldiers remaining trapped on the beach for the next two days.

December 26,1864-General John B. Hood begins to ferry remaining Confederate troops over the Tennessee River at Bainbridge, Tennessee, en-route to Tupelo, Mississippi. This concludes the ill-fated Nashville campaign.

December 27,1864-General Grant learns of General Butler's rebuff at Wilmington and is enraged. The normally docile Grant calls the Fort Fisher attack a complete fiasco and insists that Butler be sacked for "gross and culpable failure". Butler arrives back at Fortress Monroe.