Saturday, February 28, 2015

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - March 1-7, 1865

March 1,1865-Wisconsin ratifies the 13th amendment but the amendment is rejected by New Jersey.

March 1,1865-At Mount Crawford, Virginia, General George Custer's Union troops and General Thomas Rosser's Confederates skirmish when General Rosser directs his troops to burn the bridge over the Middle Fork of the Shenandoah River. General Custer, with many more troops available to quickly put the fire out, charges over the bridge and defeats Rosser's unit.

March 2,1865-General Robert E. Lee requests a conference with General Ulysses S. Grant. General Grant turns down the invitation stating that he lacks the authority to convene such a meeting.

March 2,1865-After General Rosser's cavalry is scattered at the Middle Fork Bridge, they join General Gabreil C. Wharton's division on a ridge near Waynesboro, Virginia. Warton's 2,000 Confederates and Rosser's few hundred cavalry are the remnants of General Jubel Early's once feared army which had ruled the Shenandoah Valley.

March 2,1865-General George Custer observes that General Rosser lacks enough defenders to guard both flanks and soon encircles the Confederate left without being detected. At 3:00 PM, Custer charges the left flank and orders two brigades to charge the center of the Confederate Army. General Early and his Staff flee. General Custer's men take 1,600 prisoners, 17 flags, 11 cannon, and 200 wagons. The Confederates suffer with 900 dead or wounded. The four year control of the Shenandoah Valley by the Confederate forces ends.

March 3,1865-President Lincoln sends instructions via Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton to General U.S.Grant to ignore any request for a war conference unless General Robert E. Lee surrenders first.

March 3,1865-In a move to improve funding for the war effort, the U.S. Congress levies a 10% tax on state bank notes. This tax is designed to force states to join the national banking system and use Federal Bank notes.

March 3,1865-The Bureau for the Relief of Freedmen and Refugees (later the Freedman's Bureau),is formed to assist former slaves to find work, education, and land. This is the nation's first social welfare agency and served some 4 million former slaves.

March 3,1865-General Philip Sheridan occupies Charlottesville, Virginia and then moves on to Petersburg.

March 3,1865-General Sherman's army forces the Confederate units across the Pee Dee River. The Union occupies Cheraw, South Carolina.

March 4,1865-President Lincoln's second inauguration takes place in Washington D.C. His eloquent conciliatory speech begins: "With  malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness for the right...." Vice President Andrew Johnson delivered a rambling speech that offended many in the audience.

March 4,1865-At General Grant's request, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Wells sends several heavy monitors up the James River to City Point. The river is running high with the recent rains and these heavy guns will further secure General Grant's main supply base.

March 4,1865-Federal gunboats, the USS General Burnside and General Thomas, steam down the Tennessee River to Muscle Shoals, Alabama. General Philip D. Roddey's encampment is bombarded and Union shore parties secure the position.

March 5,1865-Secretary of Treasury William Fessenden resigns after winning re-election as a senator from Maine. Hugh McCulloch (former Comptroller of Currency)is appointed Secretary of the Treasury.

March 6,1865-General Joseph E. Johnston formally takes charge of all Confederate forces in North Carolina.

March 6,1865-With General Hugh J. Kilpatrick's 4,000 man Union cavalry guarding the left flank, General Sherman moves across the Pee Dee River, South Carolina. Approaching Fayetteville, North Carolina, a large supply base is established at New Bern.

March 6,1865-Union General John Newton's 600 man expedition encounters strong Confederate defenses at Natural Bridge, Florida. After repeated attempts to flank the position, General Newton falls back to entrenchments. Southern reinforcement bring the total Confederate force to about 1,000. Union troops hold off a heavy attack and withdraw back to the coast. This minor Southern victory prevents a planned attack on the state capital at Tallahassee.

March 7,1865-In testimony before Congress, Admiral David D. Porter offers negative comments concerning Generals Benjamin Butler and Nathaniel P. Banks.

March 7,1865-General Jacob Cox and 13,000 Union soldiers repairing railroads leading toward Goldsborough, North Carolina, run into a smaller Confederate force at Fayetteville, North Carolina. The Confederates are massed to wait for the rest of the Army of Tennessee. About 6,500 Confederate troops under General's Robert Hoke and Braxton Bragg delay General Cox's Army when a day long artillery duel at long range takes place.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - February 22-28, 1865

February 22,1865-Kentucky, a neutral border state, rejects the 13th Amendment while Tennessee voters approve a new state constitution abolishing slavery.

February 22,1865-General Joseph E. Johnston is appointed commander of the Department of South Carolina by General Robert E. Lee.

February 22,1865-Fort Strong on the Cape Fear River comes under Union command when Confederate forces evacuate. Admiral David D. Porter personally runs up the Stars and Stripes.

February 22,1865-General Sherman's army approaches Rocky Mount, South Carolina after an intense skirmish at Camden. The march direction suggests the target is Charlotte but Sherman's intent is to join General Schofield at Goldsborough.

February 23,1865-Minnesota ratifies the 13th Amendment.

February 23,1865-The XX Corps of General Sherman's Army crosses the Catawba River, South Carolina and approach the North Carolina state line.

February 24,1865-General Sherman complains to General Wade Hampton concerning the murder of Union foragers by Southern troops. Hampton responds that his order is to kill anyone engaged in burning homes or barns. General Hampton sends this note to General Sherman; "This order shall remain in force so long as you disgrace the profession of arms by allowing your men to destroy private dwellings".

February 25,1865-General Joseph E. Johnston arrives in Charlotte, North Carolina to take command of the combined forces left from the Army of Tennessee and Confederate force from South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The men represent about 25,000 hungry, ragged, and worn out soldiers, many of them deserters rounded up by General Johnston. Johnston's sentiments were recorded; "In my opinion, these troops form an army far too weak to cope with Sherman".

February 25,1865-General Innis N. Palmer, commander of Union forces at New Bern, North Carolina is ordered to rebuild all railroad tracks in the direction of Goldsborough.

February 26,1865-A day of heavy rain hampers all plans. General Winfield S. Hancock assumes command of the Department of West Virginia.

February 27,1865-10,000 cavalry troops under Generals Phillip Sheridan and Wesley Merritt move down the Shenandoah Valley toward Lynchburg, Virginia. General Thomas C. Devlin commands the 1st Cavalry Division and General George H. Custer commands the 3rd Cavalry Division. Their task is to sever the Virginia Central Railroad and the James River Canal.

February 27,1865-Commodore John H. Tucker lands 350 Confederate sailors and officers at Fayetteville, North Carolina with orders to march to Richmond and form the core of a naval brigade.

February 28,1865-The most severe fighting in South Carolina took place at Rocky Mount and Cheraw, near the North Carolina border. General Sherman is slowed here for several days before Confederates are forced across the Pee Dee River and the Union Army enters North Carolina.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - February 15-21,1865

February 15,1865-Confederate forces in Columbia, South Carolina bombard Union encampments across the Congaree River as both wings of General Sherman's army arrives south of the capital. The Confederates are shelling the approaching army to cover their evacuation north.

February 15,1865-The Union steamer 'Knickerbacker' runs hard aground at Smith's Point, Virginia and is burned by Confederate forces.

February 16,1865-Nevada, Indiana, and Louisiana ratify the 13th amendment. Nine states have completed their voting to date.

February 16,1865-To execute General Schofield's plan to evict Confederate defenders from Wilmington, North Carolina, General Jacob D. Cox ferries his XXII Corps up the Cape Fear River toward Smithville, North Carolina.

February 16,1865-Federal artillery batteries begin to shell Columbia, South Carolina. General Oliver O. Howard's troops deploy a pontoon bridge across the Broad River north of the city. Generals Beauregard and Hampton complete the evacuation of their forces from Columbia while General William Hardee flees Wilmington.

February 16,1865-The XXIII Corps of Schofield's army are ferried from Fort Fisher, North Carolina to Smithville on the Cape Fear River. The transports and gunboats are supplied by Admiral David D. Porter.

February 17,1865-The U.S. Congress refuses to accept any and all debts accrued by the Confederacy and individual Confederate  States.

February 17,1865-In the morning, town officials of Columbia, South Carolina ride out to surrender the city formally to Union General William T. Sherman and his army. The last of the Southern cavalry flees the city as the Northern troops occupy the capital. Officers and staff settle into a few of the fine mansions.

February 17,1865-By nightfall, blazes break out in Columbia. Many Union troops and some 20,000 residents fight the blaze but wind blown flames consume two thirds of the city. The burned capital stood as a symbol of the savage cruelty of Sherman's army while General Sherman was quick to blame the fleeing cavalry for setting the fires. The mansion owned by General Wade Hampton was completely destroyed. General Hampton was commander of the Southern cavalry opposing Sherman.

February 17,1865-Federal warships bombard Fort Anderson, North Carolina. Admiral Porter's crew built a fake ironclad from a scow, limber, and canvas. They named the fake "Old Bogey" and pushed her to the head of the line where she drew most of the fire with little damage to other ships.

February 18,1865-Robert E. Lee reluctantly agrees to arming slaves to fight for the southern cause. He feels that the slaves must be employed as freed men.

February 18,1865-General Sherman orders all factories, supply houses, and railroad facilities in Columbia to be burned to deny their use to the Confederacy.

February 18,1865-General Alexander Schimmelfenning leads his Union forces into Charleston, South Carolina and captures the town.

February 19,1865-Union troops under command of General Jacob D. Cox board boats to run past Fort Anderson on the Cape Fear River at Wilmington, North Carolina. Before they launch, Confederate General Johnson Hagood evacuates his post at Fort Anderson, fleeing eight miles north to Town Creek.

February 20,1865-The Confederate House of Representatives approves the use of African American men as soldiers.

February 20,1865-Having finished the destruction at Columbia, General Sherman begins to move toward Goldsborough, North Carolina.

February 20, 1865-General Cox corners Hagood's Brigade at Town Creek. Three hundred and fifty Confederates are taken as prisoners.

February 20,1865-In Florida, 500 Confederate infantry and cavalry troops besiege Fort Myers housing a Union garrison of 275 Union soldiers. No assault is launched but an artillery dual at long range lasted most of the day. Union Captain James Doyle has four wounded and four missing while Confederate Major William Footman loses about 40 men. This is the southern most battle of the Civil War.

February 21,1865-The Confederate Congress postpones the authorization of the bill to allow freed slaves to become soldiers. Intense debate re-opened a day after the initial vote was completed.

February 21,1865-General Lee alerts Confederate Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge that it may become necessary to abandon Richmond and Petersburg so he can move to Burkeville to maintain communication with Confederate forces in the Carolinas. General Lee also mentions the ill health of General Beauregard and asks for Joseph E. Johnston to be returned to active duty.

February 21,1865-Admiral David D. Porter's Squadron rings Fort Strong, North Carolina on the Cape Fear River. Army troops approach the fort while the squadron concentrates fire on the structure.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Civil War - 150 Years ago this week - February 8-14, 1865

February 8,1865-A U.S. House resolution declaring that the eleven states in rebellion will not enjoy representation in the electoral college when the war ends is signed by President Lincoln.

February 8,1865-General Joseph E. Johnston complains to General Sherman that many private homes and properties are being destroyed. General Sherman writes to Johnston that he "doesn't want them destroyed but do not much care to preserve them".

February 8,1865-General Schofield's troops reach Fort Fisher, Wilmington, North Carolina following their transfer from Nashville, Tennessee after defeating General Hood.

February 9,1865-General Schofield deploys his XXIII Corps at Fort Fisher, Wilmington, North Carolina. He orders his troops, including the Department of North Carolina also under his command, to forage inland, take Wilmington, and strengthen the supply line to the main army, currently entering South Carolina.

February 9,1865-With dwindling troops available in the South, Jefferson Davis enacts a pardon for all Confederate deserters if they return to their units within 30 days. General-in-chief Robert E. Lee suggested this action.

February 10,1865-Captain Raphael Semmes is elevated to rear admiral, C.S.N. for his success as commander of the CSS Alabama. Rear Admiral Semmes is assigned to the James River Squadron, Virginia.

February 10,1865-The Union Army continues to create new departments as most soldiers are in South Carolina or Virginia. General John M. Palmer from Kentucky commands the Department of Kentucky and General George H. Thomas commands the Department of the Cumberland.

February 11,1865-Lieutenant Charles W. Read leads a party of 100 Confederate sailors from Drewry's Bluff, Virginia to City Point, where Grants headquarters are located. They plan to capture several Union vessels, outfit them with spar torpedoes, and sink Union ironclads. Southern control of the James River would severely hinder Union ship movement necessary to supply the men at Petersburg.

February 12,1865-President Lincoln's re-election is confirmed as the Electoral College final vote is 212 to 21.

February 12,1865-Lieutenant Charles Read's naval mission is abandoned due to worsening weather and fear of a Union ambush. The 100 sailors march back to Richmond where every man in the volunteer unit requires medical attention due to exposure.

February 12,1865-Confederate guerrilla captain Jeff Williams of Lewisburg, Arkansas is killed at his home when 100 Union soldiers surround and attack the house.

February 12,1865-As the Union soldiers march through South Carolina, they become more vengeful as they blame South Carolina for starting the Civil War. When they approach Confederate forces commanded by P.T.G. Beauregard, the commanding officer when Fort Sumter was bombarded on April 12,1861, Beauregard moves across the Edisto River and concentrates at Cheraw. In effect, to preserve his army, Beauregard abandons the center of the state.

February 13,1865-When the U.S. Navy adds to the fleet in the Great Lakes after the Confederate raid on St. Albans, Vermont, Lord John Russel informs diplomats in London that the 1817 Rush-Bagot Agreement is being violated. U.S. response is that the St. Albans attack October 18,1864 originated from British Canada so there is no violation.

February 13,1865-The plan for General Jacob D. Cox's division, XXII Corps, to flank and attack Fort Anderson, North Carolina, halts due to heavy rain and poor marching conditions.

February 14,1865- Leaving Orangeburg, South Carolina, General Sherman crosses the Congaree River and advances toward Columbia with both wings of his army. General Beauregard flees and orders General Hardee to escape being encircled and captured.