This Week in the American Civil War: April 19-25, 1865

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

(www.mncivilwar150.com and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)

 

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday April 19, 1865

FUNERAL SERVICES FOR PRESIDENT LINCOLN

President Andrew Johnson, the Cabinet, Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, military figures and the diplomatic corps in full “court dress” filed into the East Room of the White House. Robert Todd Lincoln represented the family as Mrs. Lincoln and Tad remained sequestered. At the head of the catafalque stood Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant alone. After the brief service, the funeral carriage, escorted by cavalry, infantry, artillery, Marines, their banners draped, and the bands playing sorrowful dirges, carried Lincoln’s body past throngs of people to the rotunda of the Capitol. Now it was the public’s turn, and, until the next evening, they filed past the catafalque in steady streams.

Federal Major General John Pope, commanding the Federal Military Division of the Missouri in St. Louis wrote to Confederate Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith, commander of the Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department, suggesting that the forces west of the Mississippi River surrender on the same terms as those which Lieutenant General Grant gave to General Robert E. Lee ten days prior.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his entourage arrived at Charlotte, North Carolina. It was here that Davis first learned of Lincoln’s assassination.

Thursday April 20, 1865

More than 39,000 people filed by President Abraham Lincoln’s body lying in state at the U.S. Capitol as the public viewing came to a close.

Federal troops now occupied Macon, Georgia. Skirmishing continued near Spring Hill, Mimms Mills on Tobesofkee Creek, Georgia; and at Rocky Creek Bridge and Montpelier Springs, Alabama.

Former Confederate General Robert E. Lee wrote to Confederate President Jefferson Davis recommending suspension of hostilities and the restoration of peace.

The Arkansas legislature ratified the Thirteenth Amendment.

Friday April 21, 1865

The body of President Abraham Lincoln left Washington at 8 a.m. en route to Springfield, Illinois, with the train being stopped often to accommodate immense crowds of mourners. The train reached Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at 8:30 p.m.

At Millwood, Virginia, John Singleton Mosby’s Confederate rangers were formally disbanded.

President Andrew Johnson told an Indiana delegation that he did not believe the Southern states had ever left the Union, a position contrary to that held by the Radical Republicans.

Saturday April 22, 1865

Most of the military action was now insignificant, with only the Federal cavalry of James Harrison Wilson active in Georgia and Alabama. Skirmishing took place at Buzzard Roost, Georgia; Howard’s Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina; near Linn Creek and near the mouth of the Big Gravois River, Missouri.

Federal Major General Henry Halleck assumed command of the Military Division of the James, and Major General Nathaniel P. Banks resumed command of the Department of the Gulf.

John Wilkes Booth and David Herold, after nearly a week out in the open, finally got across the Potomac River in a fishing skiff, to Gumbo Creek on the Virginia shore. Plans were now to continue southward. Meanwhile, the search had intensified north of the Potomac River.

The Lincoln Funeral Train traveled from Harrisburg to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where it would remain for two days.

Sunday April 23, 1865

     Skirmishing occurred at Munford’s Station, Alabama; Hendersonville, North Carolina; and near Fort Zarah, Kansas.

President Lincoln’s Funeral Train was still in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where the deceased president lied in state at Independence Hall for mourners to pay their respects.

Monday April 24, 1865

Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant arrived at the headquarters of Major General William T. Sherman at Raleigh, North Carolina to inform him that President Andrew Johnson rejected Sherman’s agreement with Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston. Sherman was ordered to give 48 hours-notice and then resume hostilities if there was no surrender. Johnston was promptly given notice of the truce’s suspension.

At Charlotte, North Carolina, Confederate President Jefferson Davis approved Johnston’s agreement with Sherman, not aware that it was already rejected by President Andrew Johnson.

John Wilkes Booth and David Herold crossed the Rappahannock River at Port Conway, Virginia, in their efforts to escape Federal pursuers.

At 4 a.m., President Lincoln’s Funeral Train departed Philadelphia and arrived in New York City at 10:50 a.m. where he laid in state at City Hall until the next day.

Tuesday April 25, 1865

Federal cavalry closed in on John Wilkes Booth and David Herold who were staying inside of a tobacco barn owned by Richard H. Garrett, south of the Rappahannock River in Virginia.

Confederate troops in North Carolina were preparing to move after President Andrew Johnson rejected the peace terms that Federal Major General William T. Sherman had negotiated. However, General Joseph E. Johnston requested that Sherman re-open negotiations. They agreed to a meeting the next day.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral Train departed New York City at 4:15 p.m. and arrived at the Old Capitol in Albany, New York at 10:55 p.m.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of April 19-25, 1865 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – On duty at Appomattox Court House until May 2, 1865.       

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Raleigh, North Carolina until April 30, 1865.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas until May 13, 1865.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Raleigh, North Carolina until April 30, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Raleigh, North Carolina until April 30, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

11th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Assigned to duty guarding the line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from Nashville to the Kentucky line. Companies E, G, and I were at Gallatin, Tennessee. Company A was at Buck Lodge. Company B at Edgefield Junction. Company C at Richland. Company D at Sandersville. Company H was at Mitchellsville. The location of companies F and K are unknown at this time. The regiment remained on duty at these locations until June 25, 1865.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling, until November 17, 1865.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling until May 1866.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D moved to Fort Abercrombie. Companies A and B assigned to garrison at Fort Abercrombie.  Company C assigned to garrison at Alexandria and Pomme de Terre. Company D on patrol duty from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina.  Companies E and F on frontier duty. The battalion would remain in these duty locations for the duration of the war – until April 26, 1866.

1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Battery – On garrison duty at Chattanooga, Tennessee until September 27, 1865.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty at Raleigh, North Carolina until April 30, 1865.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty in Philadelphia, Tennessee until July 1865.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections on duty at Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Fort Sisseton until May 1865.

Inactive units: 

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive.  

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Mustered out of Federal service on April 29, 1864. Inactive. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Transferred to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry on February 20, 1865 at Petersburg, Virginia for duration of service.  

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I Mustered out of Federal Service on March 19, 1865.

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Another take on President Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination

John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth

by Jeffrey S. Williams

The son of a well-known actor, John Wilkes Booth was an accomplished actor by 1859 and was performing in Richmond, Virginia, in November of that year when he spontaneously joined the Richmond Grays, a local militia unit, when rumors abounded that John Brown, of Bloody Kansas and Harper’s Ferry fame, was going to be rescued by abolitionists. The unit was already on a train when Booth arrived. He talked his way aboard by purchasing a jacket and trousers from some of the troops already aboard. When the Grays arrived at Charlestown, instead of quelling an uprising that didn’t occur and they provided courthouse security instead. Booth and the Richmond Grays were present when Brown was hanged on December 2, 1859. He stood in front of the gallows a few yards away from Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and his Virginia Military Institute cadets.  Even though he was present at Brown’s hanging, Booth was never officially a private in the Richmond Grays. Instead of staying with the militia and formally enlisting, he continued his acting career after the incident.

It is unknown when and how the Marylander adopted his pro-slavery views, though it is believed that an 1851 incident had a profound effect on the young actor.

gorsuch tavernIn 1849, Abraham Johnson, a free black man, had obtained some stolen wheat from a slave belonging to Edward Gorsuch, a farmer from Glencoe, Maryland. When charges were filed, Johnson and four of Gorsuch’s slaves – George Hammond, Joshua Hammond, Nelson Ford and Noah Buley – fled to nearby Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Two years later, Gorsuch received reports of the whereabouts of his property, the four slaves. On September 9, 1851, he appeared before Edward Ingraham, United States Commissioner, requesting arrest warrants for his four slaves, in accordance with the Fugitive Slave Act that was passed a year earlier. Ingraham issued the warrants and authorized Deputy U.S. Marshal Henry H. Kline, who had a reputation in capturing fugitive slaves, to make the arrests.

The slaves were found on the property of William Parker, a former slave and member of the Lancaster Black Self-Preservation Society. Kline and Gorsuch and seven others received resistance from Parker and his men while executing the warrants on September 11. Tempers flared and Edward Gorsuch’s son, Dickinson, said, “Father, will you take all this from a nigger?” An insulted Parker threatened to knock the younger Gorsuch’s teeth into his throat. Dickinson Gorsuch fired his gun in anger and was shot by Alexander Pinckney numerous times.

ParkerHouse-300x235A fight between the two factions ensued that left Edward Gorsuch dead, and Dickinson Gorsuch, who was left for dead, was severely wounded. Some historians believe that there were only a dozen participants while others claim that there were up to forty people involved.  Thirty-eight people were charged with treason because of the incident, but only one, a white neighbor named Castner Hanway, who was incorrectly identified as the leader of the resistance, was put on trial. The jury acquitted Hanway after only fifteen minutes of deliberations. Parker, Johnson and Pinckney fled to Canada, where they established new lives in Chatham, Ontario, a few hours away from Detroit, Michigan. Pinckney returned to the United States and enlisted as a Sergeant in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry on March 27, 1863, where he served for two years and was mustered out.

During the September 11, 1851 “Christiana Riot,” John Wilkes Booth was a student at the Milton Academy in Sparks, Maryland. The school was approximately one mile from the Gorsuch Farm. Booth’s best friend was Tommy Gorsuch, the youngest son of Edward.

In December 1860, Booth drafted a speech which he planned to deliver in Philadelphia. Whether he delivered the speech is unknown as it was discovered by his brother, Edwin, in a trunk of John Wilkes Booth’s belongings. In the final paragraph of the original manuscript that survived, he recounted his friendship with Tommy Gorsuch and lamented the loss of his playmate’s father.

During the war’s first years, as the Confederate forces mounted victories against a sluggish Union Army, Booth continued acting and was a quiet rebel sympathizer. After Confederate defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in 1863, his mood began to change.

HD_johnsonBTcConfederate Brigadier General Bradley Tyler Johnson planned to capture President Lincoln in the summer of 1864. Johnson, a Marylander, didn’t exactly keep the news secret, though the attempt was aborted. Booth probably heard about it from friends who had served under Johnson. When Booth planned his capture, the goal was to kidnap President Lincoln while the president was en route to the Old Soldiers Home and smuggle him to Richmond in order to facilitate the prisoner exchanges that General Grant halted. He planned the abduction with the help of George Atzerodt, who owned a carriage repair shop in Port Tobacco, Maryland; David Herold, a pharmacist’s assistant from Georgetown; Lewis Powell, who served in Mosby’s Rangers and the Confederate Secret Service; Samuel Arnold, a former classmate of Booth’s at St. Timothy Military Academy; Michael O’Laughlen, a lifelong friend of Booth; John Surratt, a Confederate courier and spy who was introduced to Booth through Dr. Samuel Mudd; and Mary Surratt, owner of the Surratt Tavern in Surrattsville (now Clinton), Maryland.

When the prisoner exchanges resumed in January 1865, O’Laughlen and Arnold backed out of the plot. Booth let them leave because he understood that the rules of evidence in the court system at that time would make it difficult for them to discuss his plot with authorities. He was already seen with them in public, sent them notes, had them make deliveries for him. Essentially they became guilty by association.

president-lincoln-s-last-speech-delivered-to-crowds-outside-the-white-house-april-13-1865The plot changed on the night of April 11, 1865, when President Lincoln gave a speech announcing that he was in favor of granting suffrage to former slaves. Booth and Herold both attended the speech and made their way to the front of the crowd. President Lincoln said, “We encourage the hearts, and never the arms of twelve thousand to address their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for it, and fight for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it to a complete success. The colored man, too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, and energy and daring, to the same end. Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by having the already advanced steps toward it, than by running backward over them?” Booth fumed to Herold, “That means nigger citizenship. Now, by God, I’ll put him through.” He and Herold then pushed their way out of the crowd.

When he picked up his mail at Ford’s Theatre three days later, Booth discovered that President Lincoln and General Grant would be in attendance at the theater that night. Knowing that he had opportunity, he met with Herold, Powell, Atzerodt and Mary Surratt that afternoon and handed out the assignments. Atzerodt would take out Vice President Andrew Johnson at the Kirkwood Hotel; Powell would assassinate Secretary of State William H. Seward; Herold was to assist with their escape to southern Maryland and Virginia; Surratt was to ensure that carbines were ready for them at the tavern; and Booth would take out Lincoln himself.

jw-booth-playbillHe was well known at Ford’s Theatre and performed in front of Lincoln there on November 9, 1863, during a production of The Marble Heart. The president frequently attended theatrical productions as his escape from the White House and the rigors of the war, so it was not as much of a surprise that Booth and Lincoln would meet there one final time.

That evening, Mary Surratt successfully arranged to have the carbines brought to the Surratt Tavern. John Surratt was in Elmira, New York and did not participate. Powell attempted to assassinate Seward, whose life was spared because of a neck brace the secretary wore after a carriage accident that happened near Ford’s Theatre previously. Atzerodt spent the evening in the Kirkwood Hotel bar and got drunk instead of carrying out his assignment.

At 10:15 P.M., halfway through Act III Scene 2 of Our American Cousin, Asa Trenchard, a character played by Harry Hawk, uttered the line, “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Wal, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal – you sockdologizing old man-trap!” As the audience erupted in laughter, John Wilkes Booth fired a .41 caliber round ball from a .44 caliber derringer through the back of President Lincoln’s head from just inches away, close enough to leave powder burns on the back of the president’s skull.

001Booth leaped from the Presidential Box to the main stage, a distance of eleven feet, catching his boot spur in one of the two U.S. Treasury Department flags during the fall. He ran past Hawk to a waiting light bay mare with an uneasy temperament that was held by Joseph “Peanuts” Burroughs, a young stagehand employed by Ford’s Theatre. Booth struggled with the startled animal, flung himself over the saddle, gained control of the horse and galloped through the alley behind the theatre on to F Street. The manhunt for the assassin began.

In his diary, Booth wrote that he yelled “Sic Semper Tyrannis,” Latin for “Thus Always to Tyrants,” the Virginia State Motto, just before he shot the president. Most of the eyewitnesses claim that he yelled the Latin phrase after he jumped to the stage while others claim that he yelled the phrase after shooting Lincoln and before jumping. Booth is the only one who claims that he uttered the phrase even before shooting the president.

American_Brutus_250It was also widely reported, largely because of Booth’s diary entry, that the assassin broke his leg during the jump. Historian Michael W. Kauffman, author of American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies, is of the opinion that Booth, long known for his aggressive and athletic performances, broke his leg in a riding accident between his crossing of the Navy Yard Bridge and his arrival at Surratt’s Tavern in Surrattsville.

Booth and Herald had switched horses by then. Sergeant Cobb and others were positive that Booth had ridden away on a bright bay mare, and everyone agreed that Herold was on a roan. But outside the city, everyone who encountered them remembered it the other way around. In light of Booth’s broken leg, the switch made perfect sense. An injured man would certainly have preferred the gentle, steady gait of a horse like the one Herold had rented. From Lloyd’s to Mudd’s, Booth stayed on that horse, and Herold rode the mare, who was now noticeably lame, with a bad cut on her left front leg. Clearly, she had been involved in an accident. 

Dr. Charles Leale, Lincoln's attending physician at Ford's Theater

Dr. Charles Leale, Lincoln’s attending physician at Ford’s Theater

As for President Lincoln, the first doctor to attend to him was twenty-three year old Dr. Charles Leale, who became the attending physician during the ordeal. Leale checked the president’s pulse. Finding none, he had Lincoln moved from the chair to the floor where he examined his patient for stab marks. He found the bullet hole instead. Leale noticed that whenever he moved his hand away from the blood clot that formed in the opening of the president’s skull, the blood flowed freely and Lincoln’s breathing was better.

Under the suggestion of Dr. Charles Taft, who came to the Presidential Box to assist, and with the concurrence of Dr. Leale, it was agreed to move President Lincoln to the nearest house instead of the White House. Six soldiers carried the president down the narrow stairwell and out of the theatre to the nearest house, a boarding house at 453 Tenth Street, directly across from Ford’s Theatre, that was owned by Mr. William Petersen. The soldiers moved the president to a room that was rented by William T. Clark, a War Department employee who was not home at the time. The six foot four Lincoln was too long for the bed, so the footboard was removed and the president was placed diagonally across the mattress so he would fit.

On March 16, less than a month before the assassination, Booth visited an acquaintance, John T. Mathews, a Ford’s Theatre stock company actor who happened to play Mr. Coyle during the fateful performance of Our American Cousin. When Mathews arrived, Booth was sprawled across the bed waiting for his friend. This allegedly is the same bed to which President Lincoln was taken on the night of April 14.

Dr. Leale, with the assistance of Drs. Robert King Stone, Charles Sabin Taft, Albert King, Joseph K. Barnes, Charles Henry Crane and Anderson Ruffin Abbott attended to the President while Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ran the government and directed the hunt for Booth from the boarding house room.

***

While the doctors maintained a vigil over the president, his condition was not improving. “At this time my knowledge of physiology, pathology and psychology told me that the President was totally blind as a result of blood pressure on the brain, as indicted by the paralysis, dilated pupils, protruding and bloodshot eyes, but all the time I acted on the belief that if his sense of hearing or feeling remained, he could possibly hear me when I sent for his son, the voice of his wife when she spoke to him and that the last sound he heard, may have been his pastor’s prayer, as he finally committed his soul to God,” said Dr. Leale while addressing the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States New York State Commandery in February 1909. Dr. Leale’s official report written in 1865 just hours after Lincoln’s death, and echoed by his 1909 address, was discovered in a collection at the National Archives in 2012.

***

hqdefaultPresident Lincoln passed away at 7:22 A.M. on Saturday, April 15, 1865. Rev. Phineas D. Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church offered a prayer, at Secretary of War Stanton’s urging. James A. Tanner, a War Department stenographer who recorded the events, reached for his pencil to write the prayer in shorthand. Unfortunately, the pencil lead broke and Gurley’s immortal words are lost to history. We also miss out on the immortal words of the War Secretary who is believed to have said, “Now he belongs to the ages.” Questions about today as to whether he said “ages,” “angels,” or even uttered anything at all. We will never know for sure what was said at that important time in history because of the breaking of one pencil lead.

***

murdererBooth thought that he would be a great hero in the south for his deed, but soon found out that the southerners didn’t rejoice at the assassination of the president like he had hoped. He and David Herold evaded authorities for twelve days treacherous days in which he met with Dr. Samuel Mudd to have his leg set; walked through the Zekiah Swamp; crossed the Potomac twice by rowboat among a flotilla of naval vessels that were searching for him; slept in a slave quarters and had little to eat. The 16th New York Cavalry caught up to them at the farm of Richard Garrett near Bowling Green, Virginia. Booth and Herold were sleeping in Garrett’s tobacco barn when the cavalry arrived after one o’clock in the morning.

Booth did not want to give himself up and a stand-off ensued. After the cavalrymen set fire to the barn he allowed Herold to surrender. Sometime around 3 A.M., Sergeant Boston Corbett, who had his carbine in the ready position through the gaps between the barn’s wooden slats, saw Booth raise a rifle. Corbett shot Booth in the neck. The assassin was now paralyzed and mortally wounded.

booth diesAt first light on the morning of April 26, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, having been removed from the burning barn, told Luther Byron Baker, “Tell my mother – tell my mother that I did it for my country – that I die for my country.” A few minutes later, Booth looked at his paralyzed hands. Baker lifted them above the assassin’s face. “Useless. Useless,” were the last words uttered by John Wilkes Booth.

As the body of the fallen President lay in state at the Capitol, Mary Surratt was arrested and questioned regarding the conspiracy. She, along with David Herold, George Atzerodt and Lewis Powell were charged and convicted by a military commission for their roles in the plot. On July 7, 1865, all four were hanged for President Lincoln’s assassination.

However, questions have been raised as to whether it was John Wilkes Booth who was killed at the Garrett Farm.

In 1907, Finis L. Bates wrote, The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth, which tells the story of Mr. John St. Helen, a Granbury, Texas man who admitted to being the Lincoln assassin. He made the confession to Bates in the 1870s, while St. John thought he was dying of a terminal illness. He left Granbury shortly after his recovery.

1931 photo of David George's mummy.

1931 photo of David George’s mummy.

In 1903, a man named David E. George, living in Enid, Oklahoma, admitted that he was John Wilkes Booth, and that he had changed his name from St. John. Shortly after the confession, George allegedly poisoned himself with arsenic. The arsenic reacted with the embalming fluids and the body was mummified. Bates identified the body as his former friend, St. John, and put the mummy on exhibit at carnival exhibitions around the country. It remained on tour until it disappeared in the 1970s.

Other theories about Booth’s escape abound. One story has it that Secretary of War Stanton arranged to have a Confederate named John W. Boyd brought up from a South Carolina prison, and that it is Boyd’s body that was recovered at the Garrett Farm. Booth is said to have been given an early warning and left the area before the cavalry arrived.

Another theory, as mentioned in a December 23, 2010 edition of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded on the History Channel, has Booth fleeing to India where he lived for another forty-one years and was sending payments home to his wife and children.

In an attempt to try to find out the truth, the descendants of the Booth family, including those who hold the 1869 certificate of ownership for the burial plot in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery, filed a petition with the Baltimore Circuit Court in 1995 requesting to have the remains of John Wilkes Booth exhumed.

Twenty-two of the Booth relatives supported the exhumation, including two as plantiffs, all hoping to find out whether the escape theory is the truth or a myth. The Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of Health and Medicine were two of the institutions where Booth’s remains would be examined by forensic scientists.

booth-1The case drew a high-powered panel of star historians to present the evidence. The petitioners brought up Dr. Douglas H. Ubelaker, a forensic anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History; John E. Smialek, M.D., Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland; Dr. Paul Sledzik, a forensic anthropologist with the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology; Dr. Jean Baker, professor of history at Goucher College; Gus Russo, John F. Kennedy assassination investigator; and Nathaniel Orlowek, a John Wilkes Booth researcher and one of the original petitioners (he was removed as a petitioner at the request of the defendant). Green Mount Cemetery, the defendants in the case, also had an impressive lineup that included Dr. James Starrs, professor of law and forensic sciences at George Washington University School of Law; Steven Miller, a researcher who has examined the lives of the soldiers at the Garrett Farm; Dr. William Hanchett, professor of history- emeritus, San Diego State University; William C. Trimble Jr., president of Green Mount Cemetery; Michael W. Kauffman, a leading authority on the Lincoln Assassination and author of American Brutus; Dr. Terry Alford, professor of history at Northern Virginia Community College; and James O. Hall, one of the world’s foremost Lincoln Assassination experts.

The petitioners sought to create a historical basis regarding whether Booth had escaped, while utilizing an exhumation and remains identification to determine whether or not they were those of John Wilkes Booth or some other person. Green Mount Cemetery, as the defendant, based their defense upon the documented positive identifications that existed from the time Booth died at the Garrett Farm until he was buried at Green Mount in June 1869.

Green Mount Cemetery believes they are the ones that John Wilkes Booth’s mother, Mary Ann Booth, entrusted to ensure that her son rests in peace. It is a contractual relationship between the cemetery and the Booth family that dates back to 1852 when the patriarch of the family, Junius Brutus Booth, was buried there. The cemetery board contends that it is from this contractual and trust relationship that they strive to “prevent distributing the remains of the deceased for frivolous unsubstantial reasons.”

After a four-day trial in May 1995, Judge Joseph H.H. Kaplan denied the petition in Kline v. The Green Mount Cemetery. In his judgment, Kaplan wrote:

To summarize, the alleged remains of John Wilkes Booth were buried in an unknown location some one hundred twenty-six (126) years ago and there is evidence that three infant siblings are buried on top of John Wilkes Booth’s remains, wherever they may be. There may be severe water damage to the Booth burial plot and there are no dental records available for comparison.  Thus, an identification may be inconclusive.  A distant relative is seeking exhumation and any exhumation would require that the Booth remains be kept out of the grave for an inappropriate minimum of six (6) weeks.  The above reasons coupled with the unreliability of Petitioners’ less than convincing escape/cover up theory gives rise to the conclusion that there is no compelling reason for exhumation.

Mark S. Zaid, the Booth family attorney, said, “Everybody is very disappointed. The whole object was to try and allow the truth to prevail over myth. I have my doubts whether this decision will do anything to dispel the story.”

In May 1996, Zaid filed an appeal with the Special Court of Appeals requesting either the exhumation take place or a new trial ordered with specific instructions to the judge on proper legal standards. In the court filing, Zaid said that Judge Kaplan permitted the Green Mount officials an improper degree of intervention in the trial because a cemetery cannot block an exhumation if it’s requested by the family.

When the three-judge panel made its ruling, it cited numerous historical examples of John Wilkes Booth’s body identification by people who knew him; concurred with Judge Kaplan that the cemetery had the right to intervene based upon legal precedent; and ruled against the family. “For the reasons noted, we conclude that Judge Kaplan did not err in dismissing the amended petition,” the ruling said. “He properly allowed Green Mount Cemetery to participate actively in the case; his factual conclusions were supported by substantial evidence; his legal conclusions were correct; and the judgment call he made was entirely appropriate.”

Edwin Booth

Edwin Booth

With advances in science in the collection and analysis of DNA, the Booth family may try another route. The direct descendants of Edwin Booth have given their approval to exhume his remains to extract a DNA sample. The National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C. has three cervical vertebrae, taken from the Garrett Farm body, that the family is hoping contains enough extractable DNA to prove or disprove the conspiracy theories.

The fact that John Wilkes Booth killed President Abraham Lincoln is indisputable. Whether Booth himself was killed at the Garrett Farm or made his escape to India, Texas, Oklahoma or parts unknown is still up for debate, though a vast majority of historians accept the version that he was killed by Sergeant Corbett and later buried in Green Mount Cemetery.

[Source: Muskets and Memories: A Modern Man’s Journey through the Civil War by Jeffrey S. Williams] (Used with permission)

Click here for a list of additional Lincoln Assassination resources.

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On this date in Civil War history – President Abraham Lincoln Assassinated – April 14, 1865

President Abraham Lincoln knew that the possibility of his assassination was a constant possibility. In his desk drawer was an envelope marked “Assassination,” full of threats written to him during his administration. On the evening of Good Friday, 14 April 1865, Lincoln attended a production of Our American Cousin starring Laura Keene at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Mary. The Lincolns enjoyed the theater and went as often as possible. A young army officer named Henry R. Rathbone and his fiancée, Clara Harris, daughter of Senator Ira T. Harris of New York, accompanied them.

Abraham-Lincoln-ShootingIronically, the theater was full that evening because many expected Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife to be in attendance. While Lincoln was a familiar sight, Grant was not. The Grants canceled at the last moment to travel out of town. The performance had begun at 7:45 p.m., and the Lincolns arrived late, at 8:15. Two hours later, at approximately 10:15, as he sat in his presidential box, Lincoln was shot once in the back of the head at close range by a .44-caliber single-shot muzzle-loading derringer fired by John Wilkes Booth.

Unlike other presidential assassins, Booth was a prominent figure. One of the best-known actors of his time, he was the son of famed tragedian Junius Brutus Booth and brother of Edwin Booth, America’s best-known Shakespearean actor. Booth himself had performed in front of Lincoln.

001The bullet entered near the president’s left ear and lodged behind his right eye. Rathbone rushed the assassin and was wounded in the left arm by a large knife brandished by Booth. Several hundred theater-goers heard Booth utter “sic semper tyrannis” (“so always to tyrants”), the motto on the state flag of Virginia, and saw him leap almost twelve feet to the stage floor below, breaking his right leg in the process. In the confusion, many in the audience thought for a moment that this was part of the theatrical production. Despite his injury, Booth was able to escape out a rear door of the theater.

At almost the same time, co-conspirator Lewis Paine (whose real name was Lewis T. Powell) was breaking into the home of Secretary of State William H. Seward, where he attacked the secretary with a knife but failed to kill him. A neck collar the bedridden secretary was wearing at the time, the result of a carriage accident he had suffered several days earlier, saved Seward’s life. Paine also fled into the night.

hqdefaultThe mortally wounded president was immediately attended to by an army surgeon, Dr. Charles Leale, and two other doctors in attendance, Dr. Charles A. Taft, also an army surgeon, and Dr. A.F.A. King, of Washington. They ordered the wounded president transported to a bedroom across the street in the Petersen house, where six soldiers carried him. The sixteenth president of the United States died at 7:22 the following morning. The Reverend Phineas D. Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, was in attendance and offered a prayer. Standing at Lincoln’s bedside, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton exclaimed, “Now he belongs to the ages.”

"Nashville"

“Nashville”

On 18 April, thousands viewed the remains of the president in the East Room of the White House. Funeral services were held there the next day. On 20 April, thousands more viewed the casket in the rotunda of the Capitol. On 21 April, Lincoln’s body began the long 1,700-mile journey back home to Illinois on board a funeral train that traveled through Philadelphia, New York, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Chicago. He was laid to rest on 4 May at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois.

After the shooting, Booth rendezvoused with co-conspirator David Herold, and together they traveled to the Surratt Tavern, a gathering spot for Confederate operatives in Surrattsville (modern Clinton), Maryland. The tavern sat about a dozen miles from Ford’s Theater and was owned by Mary Surratt. Her son John Surratt, Jr., was a known Confederate agent. Booth and Herold next traveled to the home of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd just outside Bryantown, Maryland, fifteen miles south of the Surratt Tavern. Here in the early morning hours of 15 April, Dr. Mudd set Booth’s broken leg. Mudd’s role in the conspiracy has been the object of much debate. Mudd claimed to have known nothing of the assassination and said that Booth wore a false beard when he set his leg. Much circumstantial evidence tends to cast doubt on Mudd’s claims.

John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth

Leaving Mudd’s, the pair traveled to the home of Samuel Cox near Bel Alton, Maryland, where they hid in a pine thicket for several days. They were provided a rowboat with which to cross the Potomac River into Virginia by Cox’s foster brother Thomas A. Jones, a Confederate spy and blockade runner. In Virginia they hid out near Port Royal in a tobacco barn owned by Richard Garrett. It was there that Booth and Herold were cornered by Federal troops on 26 April. Herold surrendered, but Booth refused to give up, and the barn was set on fire. Booth was shot to death by soldier Boston Corbett, who fired against orders through a small opening in the barn wall.

After Booth’s death, details began to emerge about the chain of events that led up to the assassination of President Lincoln. Late in 1864 Booth had devised a plot to kidnap the president and exchange him for Confederate prisoners of war. In August 1864, General Grant had terminated prisoner exchanges, reasoning that the numerical superiority of Union troops made it unnecessary. Booth had apparently felt that extreme steps were necessary to replenish Confederate ranks.

Besides Herold, Booth’s group of conspirators in the kidnapping plot included Samuel Arnold and Michael O’Laughlin, former schoolmates who had fought for the Confederacy. Lewis Paine was a Confederate deserter from Florida. George Atzerodt was a German immigrant whose role was to ferry the kidnappers across the Potomac River. John Surratt was a Confederate agent and courier. The conspirators met frequently at the boarding house of Mrs. Mary Surratt, mother of John, in the city of Washington.

After at least two failed attempts to kidnap Lincoln in January and March 1865, Booth ran out of time. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on 9 April signaling an end to the war in Virginia. In a rage, Booth changed his kidnapping plot to murder. He awaited his opportunity, and his chance came on 14 April when he picked up his mail at Ford’s Theatre and discovered that the president and Mrs. Lincoln would be attending that evening. Quickly searching out his former group of kidnap conspirators, he found that Paine, Herold, and Atzerodt were available. Arnold and O’Laughlin had tired of Booth’s schemes and left town. They quickly drafted a plan that called for Paine to murder Secretary of State Seward and Atzerodt to murder Vice President Johnson, while Booth would shoot Lincoln. The entire government would be brought down at once. As it happened, only Booth would succeed in carrying out his part of the scheme. Paine wounded Seward but did not kill him. Atzerodt got drunk and never even approached Johnson.

The Assassination Conspirators Hang - from left: Mary E. Surratt, Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt, David Herold. Photo by Alexander Gardner.

The Assassination Conspirators Hang – from left: Mary E. Surratt, Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt, David Herold. Photo by Alexander Gardner.

Hundreds of individuals were arrested and questioned, but most were eventually released. On 10 May, a military tribunal was convened to try Herold, Mary Surratt, Lewis Paine, George Atzerodt, Edman Spangler, Michael O’Laughlin, Samuel Arnold and Samuel Mudd for their roles in the conspiracy to assassinate the president. (John Surratt would evade capture for two years and would be released when his trial ended in a hung jury.) All were convicted, and on 7 July Atzerodt, Herold, Paine, and Mary Surratt were hanged for their part in the assassination. Historians have long debated whether Mary Surratt deserved the death penalty, for her role might have been marginal. The remaining defendant all received life sentences, except Spangler, who was sentenced to six years in prison for helping Booth escape from Ford’s Theatre. President Johnson pardoned all in 1869 except O’Laughlin, who had died of yellow fever in prison in 1867.

In the years since the assassination, a number of theories have arisen regarding additional individuals who possibly may have been involved in the plot to kill Lincoln. The government clearly believed that Lincoln was simply the victim of a conspiracy organized by Booth, and that all participants were identified. A number of works would support this theme, among them The Great American Myth by George S. Bryan (1940, reprinted in 1990); The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln and its Expiation by David M. DeWitt (1909); and The Death of Lincoln: The Story of Booth’s Plot, His Deed, and the Penalty by Clara Laughlin (1909).

Vice-president Andrew Johnson was an early suspect. There is evidence that Booth and Johnson may have known one another, but a congressional investigation looked into the relationship and found nothing suspicious. Mary Todd Lincoln for years continued to suspect that the vice-president had a part in her husband’s death.

Chemist and armchair historian Otto Eisenschiml in his 1937 work, Why Was Lincoln Murdered, points blame at Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Stanton, according to Eisenschiml, did not feel that Lincoln was prepared to go far enough to punish the South in his Reconstruction policies and so sought to remove him from office by any means. According to this theory, Stanton maneuvered Grant away from Ford’s Theater on the fateful evening, because Grant’s presence would require military guards. He refused to allow Major Thomas T. Eckert to accompany the Lincolns to the theater, even after Lincoln had personally requested him. He refused to notify guards at the Navy Yard Bridge, which Booth used as an escape route. He tampered with Booth’s diary and may have been responsible for arranging to have Booth shot before he could be brought to trial.

Later research would first support and later contradict Eisenschiml’s position. The Web of Conspiracy: The Complete Story of the Men Who Murdered Abraham Lincoln by Theodore Roscoe (1959), and The Lincoln Conspiracy
by David Balsinger and Charles E. Seller (1977) expanded on Eisenschiml’s thesis, but William Hanschett’s landmark work The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies (1983) demolished it. Hanschett examines the Eisenschiml thesis point by point and finds numerous errors and distortions of fact. Stephen B. Oates’s Abraham Lincoln: The Man behind the Myths (1998) finds that many of Stanton’s acts at the time have innocent explanations or were mere coincidence. Stanton is today no longer considered a suspect in the Lincoln assassination.

Several recent publications have argued that a broader Confederate conspiracy existed in the assassination of President Lincoln. The most prominent of these are Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln by William A. Tidwell, James O. Hall and David Winfred Gaddy (1988); Tidwell’s April ’65: Confederate Covert Action in the American Civil War (1995); and Wilkes Booth Came to Washington by Larry Starkey (1976). According to this theory, Lincoln was considered a war target and fair game for assassination. Papers found on the body of Ulric Dahlgren after his part in Judson Kilpatrick’s failed raid on Richmond allegedly outlined a plan approved by Lincoln to murder Jefferson Davis, though there is some question as to their authenticity. Whether the Confederate government directed Booth’s plans, was aware of them, or whether Booth worked alone remains unclear.

- Steven Fisher

[Source: Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social and Military History. W.W. Norton & Co. 2002. pp. 1192-1196]

Click here for a list of additional Lincoln Assassination resources.

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This Week in the American Civil War: April 12-18, 1865

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

(www.mncivilwar150.com and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)

 

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday April 12, 1865

SURRENDER OF MOBILE, ALABAMA

The final major city of the Confederacy fell as Federal troops under Major General Edward R.S. Canby entered Mobile, Alabama, following the previous night’s Confederate evacuation. The capture of the city came too late to have an impact on the war. The defenses of Mobile had been strong but the Confederates were unable to man them in view of their slim numbers and the Federal’s overpowering strength. Federal losses numbered 232 killed, 1,303 wounded and 43 missing for 1,578 total casualties in the operations against Mobile.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army was nearing Raleigh, North Carolina in its renewed advance against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, with actions near Raleigh and at Swift Creek.

A ceremony took place at Appomattox Court House. Federal troops formed along the principal street to await the formal laying down of battle flags and arms by the Confederates. As the bugle sounded, the Federal line shifted to the marching salute of carry arms. Confederate Major General John Brown Gordon saw the salute, whirled on his horse, dropped the point of his sword to the boot toe and ordered carry arms as “honor answering honor.” The battle-worn colors of the various regiments were then folded and laid down until only the Federal colors were against the sky.

At Greensborough, North Carolina, Confederate President Jefferson Davis met with Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard along with his Cabinet. The generals felt it was not possible for the army in North Carolina to resist Sherman’s advance. Johnston recommended negotiations, but Davis felt that further negotiations would be futile, that Sherman would only accept surrender. However, the general was empowered to meet with Sherman.

President Abraham Lincoln was in Washington greatly concerned about his plans for reconstruction of the South.

Thursday April 13, 1865

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army entered Raleigh, North Carolina, in heavy rain and after skirmishing Confederates near Raleigh and Morrisville. They were heading towards Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s main army and the temporary Confederate capital at Greensborough.  Johnston left Greensborough to rejoin his army at Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ordered that the draft be halted and curtailed purchases of war material. The number of officers was reduced and many military restrictions were removed as the first steps in the demobilization process.

President Abraham Lincoln conferred with Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, Stanton, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and others.

Friday April 14, 1865

ABRAHAM LINCOLN ASSASSINATED

At Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, distinguished Federal officers and dignitaries gathered, bands played, and guns thundered from the U.S. Navy in salute. In late morning at Fort Sumter, a flag-raising program began as Major General Robert Anderson, who had lowered the same flag four years earlier, seized the halyards and hoisted the Stars and Stripes once more above the fort that was the very symbol of that war. Henry Ward Beecher gave the oration. It was an occasion of solemn joy ending with fireworks from the fleet at night.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army moved ahead in the rain from Raleigh to Durham Station, North Carolina.

It was a busy day for President Abraham Lincoln who met with the Cabinet earlier in the day to discuss the problems of reconstruction including the treatment of Confederate leadership. The president received numerous callers throughout the day up until 8:30 p.m. when he and Mrs. Lincoln departed for Ford’s Theater to see the comedy, Our American Cousin. Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant had turned down an invitation to attend, making the plea that he needed to see his children.

The 1,700 patrons at the theater stopped the play and cheered for the president and his party, as they entered the box over the stage. The crowd settled down and the play resumed. Shortly before 10:30 p.m. as actor Harry Hawk delivered the line: “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal; you sockdologizing old man-trap!” Hysterical laughter permeated throughout the filled theater. Lincoln was laughing at this line when he was shot in the back of the head by actor John Wilkes Booth.

Dr. Charles Leale, a young army surgeon on liberty for the night, made his way through the crowd and was the first medical professional to attend to the president. Lincoln, unconscious, was carried across the street to the boarding house of William Peterson and was placed in a rear bedroom. Reports were received that other attacks by conspirators, against Secretary of State William H. Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson, had occurred but failed. Meanwhile, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ran the affairs of the U.S. government from the Peterson House while attending to President Lincoln.

Saturday April 15, 1865

DEATH OF PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN

At 7:22 a.m. President Abraham Lincoln was declared dead. The Cabinet, except for the injured Secretary of State William H. Seward, formally requested Vice President Andrew Johnson to assume the office of President. At 11 a.m. at the Kirkwood Hotel, Chief Justice of the United States Salmon P. Chase administered the oath of office in the presence of the Cabinet and several members of Congress. Johnson asked the Cabinet to remain with him. Much of the nation wept openly as the news went out.

John Wilkes Booth and David Herold, one of Booth’s accomplishes, escaped to the southeast of Washington and stopped at the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, where Booth’s broken leg was treated.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis, having authorized negotiations by General Joseph E. Johnston, now left Greensborough, North Carolina, with a cavalry escort. Some officials were on horseback and some in carriages or wagons.

Sunday April 16, 1865

     The North was deep in mourning while the South felt great dismay as news of Lincoln’s assassination spread. Federal troops pursued Booth and Herold in Maryland. Early in the morning the two fugitives arrived at the Rich Hill home of Samuel Cox, after a harrowing trip through swamps and over meager trails.

In Washington Mrs. Lincoln was prostrate with grief and President Andrew Johnson was gathering up the reins of his new office. Radical Republicans were hopeful that the new President would be more amenable to their policies, which included treating the Southern states as conquered territory.

In North Carolina, plans were set for a meeting of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal Major General William T. Sherman, though skirmishing occurred at Crawford, Girard and Opelika, Alabama.

The entourage of carriages and horses of the fleeing Confederate government arrived in Lexington, North Carolina, but would have to continue on rapidly in light of the approaching Johnston-Sherman negotiations.

Monday April 17, 1865

Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal Major General William T. Sherman met at the Bennett House near Durham Station, North Carolina. A short time before, Sherman had received the news of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Johnston told Sherman that it was a great calamity in the South. Their talks did not just include the surrender of Johnston’s army but terms for an armistice for all the remaining Confederate armies. They agreed to follow up their meeting the next day.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet were now in Salisbury, North Carolina, en route to Charlotte.

In Maryland, John Wilkes Booth and David Herold were hiding in a cluster of trees while attempting to obtain transportation across the Potomac River in the area of Port Tobacco, Maryland.

That evening, the body of President Abraham Lincoln was taken from the guest chamber of the White House to the East Room, where it lay in state until the funeral two days later.

Tuesday April 18, 1865

SHERMAN-JOHNSTON MEMORANDUM SIGNED

After more talk near Durham Station, North Carolina, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal Major General William T. Sherman signed a “Memorandum or basis of agreement” which called for an armistice by all armies in the field; Confederate forces to be disbanded and to deposit their arms in the state arsenals; each man was to agree to cease from war and to abide by state and Federal authority; the President of the United States was to recognize the existing state governments when their officials took oaths to the United States; reestablishment of Federal courts would take place; people were to be guaranteed rights of person and property; the United States would not disturb the people of the South as long as they lived in peace; and a general amnesty for Confederates. The generals recognized that they were not fully empowered to carry out such far-reaching measures and that the necessary authority must be obtained. However, it was clear that Sherman was going far beyond what Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant did at Appomattox by actually entering into reconstruction policy. He sent the terms to Grant and Major General Henry Halleck, asking for approval by President Andrew Johnson. Sherman also offered to take charge of carrying out these terms.

Despite the agreement, skirmishes still broke out near Germantown, Tennessee; and at Taylorsville, Kentucky.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet slowly moved southward to Concord, North Carolina.

The body of President Abraham Lincoln lay in state in the crepe-decorated East Room of the White House.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of April 12-18, 1865 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – On duty at Appomattox Court House until May 2, 1865.       

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 1865.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas until May 13, 1865.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

11th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Assigned to duty guarding the line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from Nashville to the Kentucky line. Companies E, G, and I were at Gallatin, Tennessee. Company A was at Buck Lodge. Company B at Edgefield Junction. Company C at Richland. Company D at Sandersville. Company H was at Mitchellsville. The location of companies F and K are unknown at this time. The regiment remained on duty at these locations until June 25, 1865.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling, until November 17, 1865.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling until May 1866.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D moved to Fort Abercrombie. Companies A and B assigned to garrison at Fort Abercrombie.  Company C assigned to garrison at Alexandria and Pomme de Terre. Company D on patrol duty from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina.  Companies E and F on frontier duty. The battalion would remain in these duty locations for the duration of the war – until April 26, 1866.

1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Battery – On garrison duty at Chattanooga, Tennessee until September 27, 1865.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 1865.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty in Philadelphia, Tennessee until July 1865.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections on duty at Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Fort Sisseton until May 1865.

Inactive units: 

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive.  

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Mustered out of Federal service on April 29, 1864. Inactive. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Transferred to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry on February 20, 1865 at Petersburg, Virginia for duration of service.  

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I Mustered out of Federal Service on March 19, 1865.

Posted in 1865, This Week in the Civil War | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On this date in Civil War history – Lee Surrenders at Appomattox Court House – April 9, 1865

appomattox-1

The small Virginia town of Appomattox Court House, ninety miles west of Richmond, was the site of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to Federal forces on 9 April 1865. A twelve-day campaign drew both armies away from the metropolitan area of the Confederate capital, before the Confederate army finally gave in to increasing Federal pressure and superior numbers. The Confederate surrender was the end of the Civil War in Virginia and marked the beginning of the end of the war across the South.

The Federal forces that gathered for the spring campaign in 1865 numbered just over 76,000 and were under the overall command of Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant. Grant’s army consisted of the Army of the Potomac, under Major General George G. Meade, the Army of the Shenandoah, under Major General Philip H. Sheridan, and the Army of the James, under Major General E.O.C. Ord. The Confederate forces of approximately 57,800 were led by General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. The Confederate ranks also included soldiers from the Department of Richmond, under Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell,  and the Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia, under Brigadier General Henry Wise. 

The Campaign

The Appomattox Campaign began on 29 March 1865. Federal and Confederate forces had been entrenched around Petersburg since late spring 1864, but both sides expected decisive action in 1865. 

The immediate goal of the Federal army at this time was to capture the Southside Railroad to cut off Petersburg from its major supply route. The larger objective of the campaign was to force Lee to stretch his thin forces to the point where the Confederates would have to abandon Petersburg and Richmond. Accordingly, Grant sent infantry and cavalry forces to the southwest of Petersburg, planning to flank and draw the Confederate forces out of their entrenchments. In the final days of March, several actions took place at Quaker Road, White Oak Road, and Dinwiddie Court House, all of which were preliminary to the decisive battle at Five Forks on 1 April. 

appomattox-courthouseThe Confederate defeat at Five Forks left Petersburg and Richmond vulnerable to the strong Federal forces that now circled the two cities from the south. Lee advised President Jefferson Davis that the Confederate government should abandon the capital immediately, and on 2 April, a stream of political and civilian refugees began to pour out of the city. Petersburg was also evacuated that day, and Federal forces occupied both cities on 3 April. As for the Confederate army, its best hope was to move southwest out of Virginia and attempt to join Joseph Johnston’s forces in North Carolina. With this goal, Lee’s forces began a westward retreat, trying to stay ahead of the rapidly advancing Federal army. 

In addition to meeting up with Johnston, Lee had the more immediate problem of feeding and supplying his troops. Over the next three days, the army moved west, toward Amelia Court House, engaging with Federal forces at Sutherland Station, Namozine Church, and Jetersville. Supplies were to be sent from Richmond to meet the army at Amelia. When the army arrived on 4 April however, there was no food waiting – ordnance and other supplies had been sent instead. The delay caused by this error cost Lee his small lead on the Federal forces. He was forced to redirect his army toward the next potential supply depot, Farmville.

On 6 April, as Lee’s army neared Farmville another fierce battle took place at Sayler’s Creek, culminating in another Confederate defeat. Some soldiers did receive rations at Farmville on 7 April, but the appearance of Federal troops forced the Confederates to move on, abandoning their supplies. Lee hoped that by crossing the Appomattox River and destroying the bridges he could cut off the Federal pursuit. One bridge was not destroyed in time, however, and the Federals were able to maintain their chase across the river. The Confederates had to keep going, fighting a holding action at Cumberland Church and making a hard night march toward their next supply stop, Appomattox Station. Meanwhile, fast-moving Federal cavalry remained south of the river and kept moving west to head off the Confederate forces.

By 7 April, Grant had begun to think that the Confederates might consider surrendering. He was told that the captured General Ewell claimed that the Confederates should have surrendered earlier, when they could have negotiated better terms. By the 7th, Grant had also been informed of Sheridan’s intention to capture several Confederate supply trains waiting at Appomattox Station. As a result of this information, Grant opened communications with Lee by sending a note requesting the surrender of his army, since further Confederate resistance appeared futile.

Appomattox_Courthouse_where_Lee_surrendered_civil-war-photos_LOCLee was also considering his options, which were few and difficult. Ten days into this campaign, Lee’s army was rapidly losing its effectiveness. Lack of proper nourishment and hard marching were taking their toll physically, and the men began to drop from exhaustion. Morale was plummeting; the precarious position of the Confederacy had to have been evident to soldiers with the loss of Richmond, the flight of the government, and the Army’s own difficult campaign all combining to present a bleak prospect for the future. Soldiers began to desert in large numbers. 

Surrender was a painful choice, but Lee’s other options were hardly more palatable. Should they not get through to North Carolina, the Army of Northern Virginia could engage in one final bloody battle that would probably destroy it completely; alternatively, soldiers could be ordered to return to their states to carry on the war by other means. That night, Lee responded to Grant’s note, saying only that in the interest of avoiding more bloodshed, he would like to know what terms Grant would offer.

Grant’s next communication, received by Lee on 8 April, stated that the only condition upon which he would insist was that the soldiers be disqualified from taking up arms against the U.S. government until properly exchanged. In this message, grant offered to meet with Lee or a representative to arrange the surrender.

Despite the formidable realities of his situation, Lee replied to Grant that perhaps the Federal commander had misunderstood; he still did not think that “the emergency has risen to call for the surrender of this Army” and had not proposed to arrange a surrender with his last note. However, he was willing to discuss peace terms generally and offered to meet with Grant the following morning at 10:00 a.m. Grant’s response, received on the morning of 9 April, was brief – he was not authorized to treat generally for peace, only for the surrender of the army, so there would be no point in meeting unless it was to discuss surrender.

On the night of 8 April, Lee and his corps commanders decided to make one final attempt to break through the next morning. In their front, General John Gordon’s Confederate infantry division, supported by Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry, faced only Federal cavalry and would make the initial assault. A breakthrough here was considered the only feasible option. James Longstreet’s corps held the Confederate rear. 

Unknown to the Confederates, however, Federal infantry was marching hard through that night to join Sheridan’s cavalry and reinforce their precarious position. More Federal infantry rapidly approached the Confederate rear guard. Once the forces were engaged very early on 9 April, Gordon sent word back to Lee that he did not think he could hold his position without support.

Appomattox_Court_House_new_and_old_markerWhile waiting for the expected 10:00 a.m. meeting with Grant, Lee informally polled some of his commanders for their opinions on the situation. Longstreet and William Mahone counseled surrender. E. Porter Alexander opposed that view and encouraged Lee to disperse his forces and to carry on the fight however possible. Lee responded that to allow that would be to let loose on the countryside an undisciplined mob of soldiers who would rob and plunder to support themselves. Such actions would certainly bring retaliation from the enemy, and he could not allow such a state of affairs to develop. Later that morning, Lee received Grant’s note turning down the proposed meeting, yet the grim news from Gordon had left him little room to negotiate. Now with his forces pressed in on one another, there appeared to be no other option but to request explicitly a surrender conference, which Lee did in a final note. 

The response at Grant’s headquarters was subdued. Only a feeble cheer and some tears greeted the news that Lee would meet to discuss surrender, although Grant did declare that his migraine headache had miraculously disappeared. Further communications proposed that Lee and his staff should find a location; Grant would meet them where they indicated. White truce flags went out from both sides. As the news of the truce took time to disseminate, there was some disagreement whether particular units should surrender directly to one another or wait for orders. By the early afternoon of 9 April, much of the fighting had stopped in Virginia. It is estimated that at this time the Confederates had approximately 10,000 effective soldiers in the field; Union forces numbered more than 60,000.

The Surrender

At midday, Lee and his aide Colonel Charles Marshall rode out on the road to Appomattox Court House. The first white civilian they encountered was local resident Wilmer McLean, who, when asked, initially offered a nearby outbuilding for the conference. When the shabby, unfurnished structure was declared unsuitable, McLean proffered his own, more comfortable home. What Marshall and Lee probably did not know is that McLean’s reluctance may have been a result of his earlier war experiences. By a remarkable coincidence, the McLean family had left a previous home after the house had served as a Confederate hospital and General P.G.T. Beauregard’s headquarters during First Bull Run, the first battle of the war in Virginia. Hoping to avoid the rest of the war, McLean had moved his family to Appomattox Court House in 1863.

mclean_houseA half-hour after Lee and Marshall arrived, Grant and his staff arrived at the McLean house at approximately 2:00 p.m. By all accounts, the contrast between the two commanders was extraordinary. Lee presented a dignified figure, tall and dressed in his best uniform, with a fine sword. In comparison, Grant was muddy from his long ride, wearing a simple soldier’s coat with only three-star shoulder straps to indicate his rank, and was swordless. While only Marshall accompanied Lee, Grant had a small entourage of staff and officers. These included Sheridan and Ord, as well as J.A. Rawlins, Rufus Ingalls, M.R. Morgan, Robert T. Lincoln (the president’s son), Adam Badeau, Orville Babcock, Horace Porter, Seth Williams, Theodore Bowers, and Ely Parker. There is some debate about other Federal officers and journalists who may or may not have been in the parlor during the conference.

After brief conversation about their mutual service in Mexico, Lee called Grant’s attention to the matter at hand by requesting his terms for surrender. Grant replied that they were as he had stated earlier: men and officers who surrendered were to be paroled and could not take up arms again until properly exchanged. Their arms and supplies were to be turned over as captured property. Lee asked Grant to write out the terms. In the written proposal, Grant added that officers would not have to surrender their side arms and may also keep their horses. Grant also stated that soldiers could go home and would not be disturbed by U.S. authority as long as they maintained their parole. 

With this last condition, Grant exceeded his charter of negotiating only the surrender of the army. He effectively said that Confederate soldiers would not be treated as traitors by the U.S. government. Although Lincoln would probably have endorsed this decision, it was not Grant’s to make.

Lee commented that the terms would have a most happy effect on his army, but noted that in the Confederate army all cavalry and artillery horses were privately owned (as opposed to the army-owned Federal horses); did the terms mean that only officers could keep their horses? Grant considered, and he agreed that, as horses would be necessary in the coming months to the many small farmers in the ranks, they could be retained by all who claimed ownership. Marshall drafted a note of agreement, which Lee signed. Copies of the surrender terms and agreement were made, signed, and distributed. Marshall commented afterward: “There was no theatrical display about it. It was in itself perhaps the greatest tragedy that ever occurred in the history of the world, but it was the simplest, plainest, and most thoroughly devoid of any attempt at effect, that you can imagine.”

appomattox-1After the signing, the meeting began to dissolve into individual conversations between the officers present. Lee and Grant discussed the return of Federal prisoners, and the provision of rations by the well-supplied Federal army to the starving Confederate forces. There was no discussion of Lee’s surrendering his sword, despite the popular myth to the contrary. Lee met the other officers in the room, shaking hands with each before leaving the McLean house at approximately 3:00 p.m. Lee’s ride back to his camp through Confederate lines brought throngs of soldiers to the roadside, a few cheers, some tears, and much disbelief that the four years of intense combat had ended so abruptly. 

After Grant left the McLean house, Federal officers descended upon it, buying and taking the furniture as souvenirs. McLean tried to prevent the chaos, but his parlor was left a shambles. Grant cabled the news to Washington at 4:30 p.m. As word of the surrender spread through Federal lines, great rejoicing commenced, culminating in the firing of artillery salutes. Grant, sensitive to the proximity of his vanquished foe, quickly ordered the excessive exultation stopped.

The formal surrender ceremony took place on 12 April. General Joshua Chamberlain was given the honor of receiving the surrender, in this final encounter between the two armies. As the Confederate soldiers marched between the two liens of Federal soldiers, Chamberlain ordered his troops to display a carry arms salute. Confederate general John Gordon responded with an order in kind – “honor answering honor.” Confederate arms were stacked, banners laid on the ground, and the Southern soldiers began to go home. Approximately 28,000 Confederate soldiers surrendered at Appomattox. This number is higher than the effective number in the field at the truce because of the return of stragglers and deserters int he days between the cessation of hostilities and the surrender ceremony.

The surrender that took place at Appomattox Court House is remarkable for its lack of rancor between the two previously bitter enemies and for the dignity of the proceedings. Upon the appearance of flags of truce on the morning of the 9th, Confederate and Federal officers met between the lines to exchange greetings, information, and flasks. After the surrender, Federal soldiers freely shared the contents of their haversacks with their hungry Confederate counterparts. The surrender ceremony was marked by a profound respect on both sides. The choices made by the commanders of the two armies reflected an awareness of the long-term effects of the war on the nation. Grant could have treated the defeated Confederates far more harshly and deprived them of the basic necessities for starting their civilian lives again. Lee could have allowed his army to become a guerrilla fighting force, a decision that would have further embittered the two sides. Both commanders strove to set examples for their armies and their country to follow.

Other forces remained in the field, and it would be another year before Andrew Johnson could proclaim the insurrection at an end. Nonetheless, the end of the war in Virginia signaled the beginning of the end of the Confederate States of America.

- Lisa Lauterbach Laskin

[Source: Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social and Military History. W.W. Norton & Co. 2002. pp. 67-72.]

Additional resources:

National Park Service – Appomattox Court House National Historic Park

Civil War Trust – Appomattox Court House

Civil War Trust – Grant and Lee Surrender Correspondence

Michael Haskew – Appomattox: The Last Day’s of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia

William C. Davis – Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee – The War They Fought, The Peace They Forged

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This Week in the American Civil War: April 5-11, 1865

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

(www.mncivilwar150.com and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)

 

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday April 5, 1865

Confederate General Robert E. Lee was confronted by a lack of supplies for the Army of Northern Virginia at Amelia Court House, Virginia. With Federal Major General Phil Sheridan and infantry in front of him near Jetersville, he could no longer use the Danville Railroad and turned towards Farmville instead, where supplies were ordered from Lynchburg by railroad. Sheridan wanted to attack but Major General George G. Meade refrained from ordering the attack until more troops could arrive.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis was at Danville and was out of touch with General Robert E. Lee but was establishing an executive office there, not willing to leave Virginia.

President Abraham Lincoln entered Richmond again before returning to City Point where he received word that Secretary of State William H. Seward was injured in a carriage accident in Washington that afternoon.

Thursday April 6, 1865

BATTLE OF SAYLER’S CREEK

The last major engagement between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and Federal Army of the Potomac occurred at Sayler’s Creek, near the Farmville and High Bridge crossings of the Appomattox River. Crossing the stream was imperative for safety and the army attempted to keep together, which was impossible. In the bottom land of Sayler’s Creek, the retreating column split and the Federals moved in forcing a gap in the Confederate line. Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Lieutenant General James Longstreet and Major General William Mahone continued on while Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell and Lieutenant General Richard H. Anderson followed behind the gap. The wagons were ordered on a detour to cross the river. Anderson and Ewell were quickly pressed back, but mounted a countercharge which failed in the face of strong artillery fire. Federal flanks closed in towards the middle and Ewell was forced to surrender. Some 8,000 Confederates surrendered while Federals suffered approximately 1,180 sustained casualties. It is estimated that the Confederates lost about a third of the men that departed Amelia Court House that morning. As Lee witnessed the engagement, he exclaimed, “My God! Has the army been dissolved?” It was clear that the numbers of the once proud Army of Northern Virginia were diminishing rapidly.

Friday April 7, 1865

Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, in an effort to avoid further bloodshed, sent a message to Confederate General Robert E. Lee asking for the surrender of his Army of Northern Virginia.

The Confederate army, meanwhile, received more punishment even though they repulsed the Federals in an engagement near Farmville, Virginia, and crossed the Appomattox River to continue their retreat on the north side. Though the Confederates attempted to burn the bridges behind them, Federal troop movements blocked Lee at Appomattox Station and Appomattox Court House, squeezing Lee between Federal forces on the east and west flanks.

Tennessee ratified the Thirteenth Amendment and inaugurated avowed abolitionist and unionist W.G. “Parson” Brownlow as the state’s governor.

At City Point, Virginia, President Abraham Lincoln sent a wire to Grant stating, “Gen. Sheridan says ‘If the thing is pressed I think that Lee will surrender.’ Let the thing be pressed.”

Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet were in Danville, Virginia attempting to do what they could, though their efforts had little effect.

Saturday April 8, 1865

The road to Lynchburg, Virginia, the next goal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s army, passed through hamlets and villages and Appomattox Station near Appomattox Court House. Behind the remnants of the Army of Northern Virginia was Federal Major General George G. Meade with the Second and Sixth Corps., Federal Major General Phil Sheridan’s cavalry and the Fifth Corps to the south. By evening, a detachment of the Army of the James blocked Lee’s route to Lynchburg. Though skirmishing occurred throughout the day, Meade was unable to bring on a general engagement, while Sheridan’s cavalry seized Confederate supply trains at Appomattox Station.

Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, at Farmville, Virginia, received Lee’s reply asking what terms Grant would offer. Grant offered to meet with Lee to receive the surrender. Lee replied later in the day that he did not intend to propose surrender but merely inquired to ask the terms of the proposition. Still, Lee wanted to meet to discuss this with Grant.

Earlier in the morning, Lee was informed by a number of his officers that had conferred the previous evening and agreed that the army could not break through to join Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s troops and recommended that he open negotiations with the Federals.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis got information from Secretary of War John C. Brekinridge and messenger John S. Wise that the situation was critical. Nevertheless, a certain amount of routine business continued.

President Abraham Lincoln visited Petersburg, then late in the evening left City Point, Virginia by boat and headed back to Washington.

Late in the night near Appomattox Court House, Confederate General Robert E. Lee held his final council of war.

Sunday April 9, 1865

     LEE SURRENDERS TO GRANT AT APPOMATTOX COURT HOUSE

On Palm Sunday, a clear spring sun rose in Virginia. At dawn, near Appomattox Station, the Confederates had attacked with the hope of forcing a passage through the Federals in front of them. At first they were successful, but there was more than just enemy cavalry in front of them. The route was also blocked by infantry. The Federal forces drove in, and on the east other Federals under Major General George G. Meade attacked the Confederate rear guard. Escape was now impossible. Lee arranged to meet with Grant.

On the field, there was confusion with truce flags mixed in with small arms fire. Federal Brigadier General George A. Custer demanded the surrender of Confederates.

Yet by the early afternoon in the home of Wilmer McLean at Appomattox Court House, Confederate General Robert E. Lee and one aide met with Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, his staff, and several of the major commanders. After pleasantries, Lee called attention to the matter at hand, discussion of surrender terms.

Grant wrote out his proposal, went over it with his staff, then presented it to Lee. The terms did not include surrender of side arms of officers or of their private horses or baggage, and allowed each officer and man to go home and not be disturbed as long as parole was observed. Lee brought up the fact that cavalrymen and artillerists owned their own horses, which would be needed for the spring planting. After a short conference, Grant agreed to let those who claimed horses to keep them. Arrangements were also made to feed Lee’s army from Federal supplies. Thus it was completed – a document from Grant to Lee giving terms of surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, and one from Lee to Grant accepting those terms. Contrary to legend, Lee did not surrender his sword to Grant.

However, the war was not over. There were still armies in the field and a Confederate government at Danville, Virginia. It was only after a gentle reminder later in the afternoon that Lieutenant General Grant remembered to inform Washington to what transpired at Appomattox Court House.

President Abraham Lincoln arrived back in Washington in early evening as news was spreading throughout the land. Bonfires sprang up as crowds jammed the streets. In the Army of the Potomac, flags waved, bands played, artillery boomed and the air was filled with knapsacks, canteens, tin cups and roaring cheers. When the noise receded, a silence of respect to the fallen dead and the vanquished foe fell over Appomattox a four years of war in Virginia had ended.

Monday April 10, 1865

News of the surrender arrived in Danville, Virginia, late in the afternoon. By evening, what little remained of the Confederate government took to the railroad again and headed for Greensborough, North Carolina, fearful that the cavalry in the area might overtake them.

President Abraham Lincoln was serenaded several times throughout the day by relieved and happy crowds in Washington. He promised to make a more formal appearance the following evening, and asked one of the bands to play “Dixie.”

In Mobile, Alabama, Forts Huger and Tracy kept up their bombardment, but it was clear that with less than 5,000 Confederates at hand, Major General D.H. Maury would be forced to evacuate the city.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee issued his last general orders imploring the members of his former command to return to their homes then bid an affectionate farewell.

As Lee was in the process of issuing his general order, Federal Major General Ulysses Grant arrived and the two conferred about surrendering all of the Confederate armies. Lee made note that it was not his decision to make but that of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Other officers, including Major General George G. Meade who was not present at the surrender, visited with Lee. Memories and curiosity seemed to draw them all together.

Tuesday April 11, 1865

At Mobile, Alabama, the remaining defenses of Forts Huger and Tracy were abandoned and Confederate Major General D.H. Maury began evacuation of the city itself. Only a rear guard remained behind that night.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s troops continued to advance towards Goldsborough, North Carolina. Sherman entered Smithfield, North Carolina, where he learned of Lee’s surrender.

The Confederate government train arrived at Goldsborough, North Carolina, early in the day to a cold response in comparison to what they received in Danville, Virginia. Citizens were concerned about reprisals from Federal troops.

President Abraham Lincoln spoke to an enthusiastic crowd from a window of the White House. He expressed the hope for a “righteous and speedy peace” and discussed reconstruction, including giving the Negro the right to vote.  Lincoln admitted the difficulties of reconstruction and desired that plans be kept flexible. It was a serious, anxious speech, full of the future – and was to be his last.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of April 5-11, 1865 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Present at Lee’s surrender and on duty at Appomattox Court House until May 2, 1865.     

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 1865.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas until May 13, 1865.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Mobile, Alabama until April 12, 1865.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Mobile, Alabama until April 12, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Mobile, Alabama until April 12, 1865.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Mobile, Alabama until April 12, 1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Mobile, Alabama until April 12, 1865.

11th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Assigned to duty guarding the line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from Nashville to the Kentucky line. Companies E, G, and I were at Gallatin, Tennessee. Company A was at Buck Lodge. Company B at Edgefield Junction. Company C at Richland. Company D at Sandersville. Company H was at Mitchellsville. The location of companies F and K are unknown at this time. The regiment remained on duty at these locations until June 25, 1865.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling, until November 17, 1865.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling until May 1866.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D moved to Fort Abercrombie. Companies A and B assigned to garrison at Fort Abercrombie.  Company C assigned to garrison at Alexandria and Pomme de Terre. Company D on patrol duty from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina.  Companies E and F on frontier duty. The battalion would remain in these duty locations for the duration of the war – until April 26, 1866.

1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Battery – On garrison duty at Chattanooga, Tennessee until September 27, 1865.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 1865.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty in Philadelphia, Tennessee until July 1865.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections on duty at Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Fort Sisseton until May 1865.

Inactive units: 

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive.  

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Mustered out of Federal service on April 29, 1864. Inactive. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Transferred to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry on February 20, 1865 at Petersburg, Virginia for duration of service.  

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I Mustered out of Federal Service on March 19, 1865.

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This Week in the American Civil War: March 29 – April 4, 1865

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

(www.mncivilwar150.com and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)

 

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday March 29, 1865

APPOMATTOX CAMPAIGN BEGINS

The Federal Army of the Potomac and Army of the James, approximately 125,000 soldiers combined, were on the move against Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia. Skirmishing occurred at Lewis’s Farm and at the junction of the Quaker and Boydton roads as well as the Vaughan Road near Hatcher’s Run. Rain in the evening slowed the Federal advance. Federal Major General Phil Sheridan’s cavalry rode westward towards Dinwiddie Court House south of Five Forks with two Federal infantry corps, the Fifth and Second, marching in support. The intent was to force Lee out of his entrenched lines.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman returned to his army in Goldsborough, North Carolina from City Point, Virginia.

President Abraham Lincoln remained at City Point to inquire of Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant about how the new movement was looking.

Thursday March 30, 1865

Pelting rains bogged down most of the Federal advance on the Petersburg, Virginia front, where Federal Major General Phil Sheridan, at Dinwiddie Court House, was ready to move with infantry assistance against the Confederate right flank. Skirmishing occurred on the line of Hatcher’s Run and Gravelly Run as well as near Five Forks. Confederate moves by Major Generals George Pickett and Fitzhugh Lee weakened other segments of General Robert E. Lee’s line.

Friday March 31, 1865

WHITE OAK ROAD AND DINWIDDIE COURT HOUSE, VIRGINIA

The heavy rain ended in the morning and the action began as more than 10,000 Confederates were opposed by more than 50,000 Federals on the western part of the Petersburg, Virginia line. Federal Major General Phil Sheridan pressed from Dinwiddie Court House with a portion of his troops, but was repulsed by Confederate forces which drove them back towards the main body of troops at the Court House. However, Confederate Major General George Pickett understood the strength of the Federal Fifth Corps and pulled back towards Five Forks. The Fifth Corps had its difficulties on the White Oak Road, who were unable to repulse and turn back the opposing Confederates.

At Mobile, Alabama, Federal troops were occupying nearby towns and drawing in their siege lines.

Saturday April 1, 1865

BATTLE OF FIVE FORKS, VIRGINIA

Late in the afternoon, Federal Major General Phil Sheridan’s cavalry and the Federal Fifth Corps attacked Confederate Major General George Pickett’s dug in troops at Five Forks. As Sheridan’s dismounted cavalry attacked in front, the Fifth Corps got in on the Confederate defender’s left flank and crushed them. Pickett’s forces were now separated from the rest of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The Federals sustained losses numbering around 1,000 and captured at least 4,500 Confederates.

In North Carolina, Federal Major General William T. Sherman took the time to reorganize his army as a skirmish broke out at Snow Hill.

Skirmishing occurred at Randolph, Maplesville, Plantersville, Ebenezer Church, Centerville and Trion, Alabama forcing Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest to concentrate his troops at Selma. Skirmishing also occurred at White Oak Creek, Tennessee.

President Abraham Lincoln was serving as an observer at City Point, Virginia and forwarding messages to Washington on the progress of the fighting at Petersburg. Confederate President Jefferson Davis, meanwhile, reported to General Robert E. Lee that he was struggling to advance the raising of Negro troops, noting that “distrust is increasing and embarrasses in many ways.”

Sunday April 2, 1865

    CONFEDERATES ABANDON RICHMOND AND PETERSBURG

At 4:30 a.m., Federal troops advanced under a heavy fog along the Petersburg, Virginia lines. By 7 a.m., the drive was fully under way and was successful everywhere. The Federal Sixth Corps captured the South Side Railroad, and the Confederate lines vanished along Hatcher’s Run. West of the Boydton Plank Road, while attempting to rally his men, Confederate Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill was killed. Only two forts, Gregg and Baldwin, held out at noon on the western part of the lines, making retreat possible only by crossing the Appomattox River.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee was determined to hold the inner fortifications until night enabled him to withdraw. In a few places, the Confederates stiffened their resistance in the afternoon until it was obvious that they had to pull out. Orders to evacuate Petersburg and for the defenders north of the James River to retreat through Richmond and join the remainder of the Army of Northern Virginia with Amelia Court House, forty miles west, as the rally point. Federal losses sustained amounted to 3,189 wounded, 625 killed and 326 missing for a total loss of 4,140 out of 63,000 engaged. Confederates engaged approximately 18,500 with unknown losses.

In Richmond, Virginia, a messenger entered St. Paul’s Church while the minister gave the prayer for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Davis left quietly and went to his office to learn of the disaster that occurred at Petersburg. By 11 p.m., Davis and most of his Cabinet departed by train for Danville, Virginia. Rail stations were jammed and the streets filled with many of the local citizens and refugees crowding the city. Inmates broke from the state prison and the Local Defense Brigade was unable to keep order. Confederate government records were either sent away or burned. Cotton, tobacco and military stores were set on fire, which soon raged out of control. Richmond was falling at last. However, the Confederate government still existed even though it was in transit. The war resumed.

In Mobile, Alabama, the siege of Fort Blakely began while the siege of Spanish Fort continued.

Skirmishing broke out near Goldsborough, North Carolina; along with Van Buren and Hickory Station, Arkansas.

President Abraham Lincoln went to the front at Petersburg and saw some of the fighting from a distance while keeping Washington informed to the progress of Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant’s armies.

Monday April 3, 1865

Petersburg, Virginia was now occupied by Federal troops. President Abraham Lincoln and Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant conferred at a private home in the city and reviewed the troops passing through the city, which had undergone more than nine months of siege warfare.

The first flag flying over Richmond, Virginia, was a small guidon raised by Major Atherton H. Stevens Jr., of Massachusetts over the former Capitol of the Confederacy building. More Federal troops arrived as more people, many of whom were jubilant Negroes, swarmed into the streets of the city that was still in flames. Federal infantry playing “The Girl I Left Behind Me” soon arrived. The Federal occupation of Richmond was commanded by Major General Godrey Weitzel, who received the surrender in the City Hall at 8:15 a.m. Federal troops immediately attempted to restore order and put out the fires.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia slowly moved westward towards Amelia Court House, shadowed by Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant’s Army of the Potomac who ran parallel to keep Lee from intersecting General Joseph E. Johnston’s army in North Carolina. Federal Major General Phil Sheridan’s cavalry skirmished with the retiring Confederates on the Namozine Church Road.

The train from Richmond to Danville moved slowly due to roadbed difficulties but by midafternoon, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet had arrived in Danville, where citizens hurriedly prepared to receive their guests. Headquarters for Davis was at the home of Major W. T. Sutherlin. Davis admitted that he was not abandoning the cause.

Tuesday April 4, 1865

LINCOLN ARRIVES IN RICHMOND

President Abraham Lincoln traveled up the James River on the River Queen, transferred to the U.S.S. Malvern, and then landed in Richmond on a smaller landing vessel not far from Libby Prison. Admiral David Dixon Porter, three other officers and ten sailors armed with carbines served as Lincoln’s escort as he walked to the White House of the Confederacy. Crowds, mostly cheering Negroes, surrounded Lincoln as he toured the home that Confederate President Jefferson Davis recently vacated. Lincoln drove through the city under escort in the late afternoon. Before leaving Richmond, Lincoln talked with John A. Campbell, former U.S. Supreme Court justice and former Assistance Secretary of War for the Confederacy. Campbell admitted that the war was over and urged Lincoln to consult with public men of Virginia regarding restoration of peace and order. Lincoln returned to the Malvern for the night.

Skirmishing occurred at Tabernacle Church, also known as Beaver Pond Creek, and at Amelia, Virginia. Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s decimated army lacked supplies which brought on post-war discussion. There was an unfounded charge the Davis was using the necessary railroad and communications, though Federal Major General Phil Sheridan arrived at Jetersville on the Danville Railroad southwest of Amelia Court House, blocking Lee’s further use of that route towards North Carolina.

At Danville, Virginia, the new capital of the Confederacy, Confederate President Jefferson Davis issued a proclamation to the remaining people of the crumbling nation while admitting that there was now a new phase of the conflict, and that he had vowed to maintain the struggle.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of March 29 – April 4, 1865 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Participated in the Appomattox Campaign including the battles of Hatcher’s Run, Boydton Road, Sutherland’s Station and the fall of Petersburg, Virginia, and were now in pursuit of Confederate General Robert E. Lee until April 9, 1865.       

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas until May 13, 1865.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

11th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Assigned to duty guarding the line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from Nashville to the Kentucky line. Companies E, G, and I were at Gallatin, Tennessee. Company A was at Buck Lodge. Company B at Edgefield Junction. Company C at Richland. Company D at Sandersville. Company H was at Mitchellsville. The location of companies F and K are unknown at this time. The regiment remained on duty at these locations until June 25, 1865.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling, until November 17, 1865.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling until May 1866.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D moved to Fort Abercrombie. Companies A and B assigned to garrison at Fort Abercrombie.  Company C assigned to garrison at Alexandria and Pomme de Terre. Company D on patrol duty from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina.  Companies E and F on frontier duty. The battalion would remain in these duty locations for the duration of the war – until April 26, 1866.

1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Battery – On garrison duty at Chattanooga, Tennessee until September 27, 1865.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty in Philadelphia, Tennessee until July 1865.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections on duty at Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Fort Sisseton until May 1865.

Inactive units: 

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive.  

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Mustered out of Federal service on April 29, 1864. Inactive. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Transferred to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry on February 20, 1865 at Petersburg, Virginia for duration of service.  

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I Mustered out of Federal Service on March 19, 1865.

Posted in 1865, This Week in the Civil War | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Week in the American Civil War: March 22-28, 1865

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

(www.mncivilwar150.com and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)

 

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday March 22, 1865

Another Federal offensive began as Major General James Harrison Wilson’s forces struck from the Tennessee River towards Selma, Alabama, one of the few centers left to the South. The raid was to be in conjunction with the Federal attack on Mobile to the south of Selma.

Fighting flared at Mill Creek, Hannah’s Creek and Black Creek, North Carolina; Patterson’s Creek Station, West Virginia; Celina, Tennessee; and Stephenson’s Mills, Missouri.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman issued orders for his army to concentrate in the area of Goldsborough, North Carolina.

Thursday March 23, 1865

Federal Major Generals William T. Sherman and John Schofield joined forces at Goldsborough, North Carolina. Now approximately 100,000 Federals dominated the state. Work began to immediately equip the armies after the long marches.

Even though the campaign in North Carolina was essentially over, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston positioned his forces on the two roads that he believed that Sherman would take towards Virginia, either through Raleigh or through Weldon. This position also made junction with the Army of Northern Virginia practical should General Robert E. Lee withdraw from Petersburg.

President Abraham Lincoln left Washington, D.C. for City Point, Virginia and Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant’s headquarters, accompanied by Mrs. Lincoln and their son, Tad. It was to be a combination vacation and conference with Grant concerning end-of-war measures.

Friday March 24, 1865

Confederate Major General John Brown Gordon had been assigned to lead an attack the next day at Fort Stedman on the Federal right at Petersburg, Virginia. If the siege line could be broken here, the indispensable supply line to City Point could be cut. A successful assault here would help General Robert E. Lee in his possible retreat from Richmond.

Skirmishing occurred near Moccasin Creek, North Carolina; near Dannelly’s Mills and Evergreen, Alabama; and at Rolla, Missouri.

The vessel containing President Abraham Lincoln and his party arrived at Fort Monroe, Virginia.

Saturday March 25, 1865

BATTLE OF FORT STEDMAN

Southerners claiming to be deserters arrived at the Federal lines near Fort Stedman at 3 a.m. on the east side of the Petersburg, Virginia siege fortifications. However, they were advance men aiming at sabotage when, an hour later, Confederate Major General John B. Gordon launched his attack at Fort Stedman and surrounding entrenchments. The Confederates quickly overwhelmed the opposition and rushed into the fort, completely surprising the Federal garrison. Several batteries and other trenches were taken until nearly a mile of Federal lines was in Southern hands. Like other Confederate late-war attacks, it lost momentum which allowed Federal troops to rally, change position and push the attackers back to Fort Stedman. By 7:30 a.m., a Federal division assaulted the fort, forcing Gordon to withdraw. Fifteen minutes later, the entire attack was defeated and the Federal lines were restored. Confederates lost approximately 4,000 troops to the Federal casualties that numbered around 1,500.

Federal troops neared Spanish Fort and the fortifications of Mobile, Alabama after a trying march because of drenching rains. Confederate Brigadier General R.L. Gibson tried to organize his 2,800 men to oppose the Federal force that numbered 32,000 men. Despite strong earthworks around the city, it was impossible for the South to hold out without assistance.

President Abraham Lincoln visited Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant at City Point, Virginia, and then took the military railroad to the Petersburg lines where he rode horseback over part of the Fort Stedman battlefield, the site of the morning engagement.

Sunday March 26, 1865

    The cavalry command of Federal Major General Phil Sheridan crossed the James River and headed towards Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant’s lines at Petersburg, Virginia, which would give Grant an even larger force and thin out Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s already numerically inadequate defenders. Lee was preparing to give up Petersburg and Richmond and pull back westward to attempt a reunion with General Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina.

On the Mobile, Alabama front, skirmishing erupted as Federal troops pushed in nearer to Spanish Fort. Other skirmishing occurred at Muddy Creek, Alabama.

President Abraham Lincoln reviewed troops and watched Major General Phil Sheridan’s men cross the James River while on his visit to the main fighting front at Petersburg. Grant and Sheridan conferred, and prepared instructions for the beginning of the forthcoming campaign.

Monday March 27, 1865

Aboard the steamer River Queen at City Point, Virginia, President Abraham Lincoln, Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, Major General William T. Sherman and Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter conferred about the state of the respective campaigns. The first day’s talk, largely social, included an account of Sherman’s campaign, since Sherman came up from Goldsborough, North Carolina where his army was located.

Tuesday March 28, 1865

President Abraham Lincoln, Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, Major General William T. Sherman and Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter continued their discussions aboard the steamer River Queen off of City Point, Virginia. The generals detailed their plans and pointed out that one more major campaign would be needed to force an end to the war.

Shifting of troops by the Federals at Petersburg marked the preparations for a forthcoming move, which Confederate General Robert E. Lee noted in a letter to his daughter. Lee wrote, “Genl Grant is evidently preparing for something & is marshaling & preparing his troops from some movement, which is not yet disclosed…”

Skirmishing occurred near Snow Hill and Boone, North Carolina; Elyton, Alabama; and at Germantown, Tennessee.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of March 22-28, 1865 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Participated in the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia until April 2, 1865.       

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas until May 13, 1865.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

11th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Assigned to duty guarding the line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from Nashville to the Kentucky line. Companies E, G, and I were at Gallatin, Tennessee. Company A was at Buck Lodge. Company B at Edgefield Junction. Company C at Richland. Company D at Sandersville. Company H was at Mitchellsville. The location of companies F and K are unknown at this time. The regiment remained on duty at these locations until June 25, 1865.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling, until November 17, 1865.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling until May 1866.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D moved to Fort Abercrombie. Companies A and B assigned to garrison at Fort Abercrombie.  Company C assigned to garrison at Alexandria and Pomme de Terre. Company D on patrol duty from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina.  Companies E and F on frontier duty. The battalion would remain in these duty locations for the duration of the war – until April 26, 1866.

1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Battery – On garrison duty at Chattanooga, Tennessee until September 27, 1865.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty in Philadelphia, Tennessee until July 1865.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections on duty at Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Fort Sisseton until May 1865.

Inactive units: 

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive.  

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Mustered out of Federal service on April 29, 1864. Inactive. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Transferred to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry on February 20, 1865 at Petersburg, Virginia for duration of service.  

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I Mustered out of Federal Service on March 19, 1865.

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This Week in the American Civil War: March 15-21, 1865

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

(www.mncivilwar150.com and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)

 

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday March 15, 1865

From Fayetteville, North Carolina and the Cape Fear River, Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s troops moved out en masse with Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick’s cavalry in front. The cavalry clashed with Confederate rear guards near Smith’s Mills on the Black River and at South River.

Federal Major General Phil Sheridan moved on in Virginia and was at Hanover Court House near Ashland.

Skirmishing occurred at Boyd’s Station and Stevenson’s Gap, Alabama.

Thursday March 16, 1865

BATTLE FOR AVERASBOROUGH, NORTH CAROLINA

Four miles south of Averasborough, North Carolina, the advancing columns of Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s force attacked Confederate General William J. Hardee’s blocking force. By late afternoon, Hardee was told of Federals crossing the Black River and was instructed to turn his left flank even further. Hardee gave up his position during the night and marched towards Smithfield. Federal losses amounted to 95 killed and 533 wounded with 54 missing for 682 total, while the aggregate Confederate loss is numbered at 865. Even though it was not a major battle, Averasborough showed that the Confederates were actively putting up resistance to Federal movements in North Carolina.

Friday March 17, 1865

Skirmishing occurred at Falling Creek, North Carolina following the previous day’s battle at Averasborough.

Federal Major General E.R.S. Canby began maneuvering his 32,000 troops against Mobile, Alabama. One Federal force moved from Pensacola, Florida and another from the area of Mobile Point up the east side of Mobile Bay. About 2,800 Confederates under Brigadier General R.L. Gibson defended the city.

In Washington, D.C., President Abraham Lincoln directed that all people detected in the sale of arms and ammunition to the Indians should be arrested and tried by military court-martial.      

Saturday March 18, 1865

CONFEDERATE CONGRESS ADJOURNS FOR FINAL TIME

The Confederate Congress ended its session in a fit of contention with President Jefferson Davis. Many essential war measures were left unpassed and for the last few days its main business was to argue with Davis whether he or Congress had delayed action and was responsible for some of the difficulties facing the Confederacy. It was symptomatic of the need to blame someone for the nearly obvious disaster.

Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston was attempting to concentrate his forces against the Federals, who were advancing towards Goldsborough, North Carolina. The Confederates had approximately 20,000 troops versus 30,000 Federal forces that were just south of Bentonville.

Skirmishing occurred along Mingo Creek, Bush Swamp and near Benton’s Cross Roads, North Carolina; Livingston, Tennessee; near Dranesville, Virginia and on the Amite River in Louisiana.

At Mobile Bay, approximately 1,700 Federal troops marched from Dauphin Island on the west side of the bay to deceive the Confederate defenders as to which side would be attacked.

Sunday March 19, 1865

    BATTLE OF BENTONVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

Federal Major General William T. Sherman did not expect an attack when the Federals resumed their march and ran into waiting Confederates near Bentonville, North Carolina. At first they did not seem to be a serious obstacle, but by afternoon they were being pressed. At first the Confederates crashed through the Federal breastworks, partially demoralizing one section of the Federal force and routing the left flank. However, other Federal units came in to stem the advance. The battle lasted until after dark when the three main Confederate assaults were beaten off. Late that night, the Confederates pulled back to their starting points and both sides spent the night preparing their positions.

Federal Major General Phil Sheridan’s cavalry made it to White House on the Pamunkey River in Virginia after wrecking the Virginia Central Railroad and the James River Canal in its successful march from Winchester to join Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant’s army near Petersburg.

1st U.S. Sharpshooters Company I members mustered out of Federal service. Those with time remaining were transferred to the 1st Battalion of Minnesota Infantry.

Skirmishing at Celina, Tennessee; Welaka and Saunders, Florida rounded out the day.

Monday March 20, 1865

Federal reinforcements arrived at daybreak at Bentonville, North Carolina. There was no heavy fighting in the area though considerable amounts of skirmishing did occur.

The Federal column operating with the main attack on Mobile moved towards that city from Pensacola, Florida.

Skirmishing occurred near Falling Creek, North Carolina; Ringgold, Georgia; and at Talbot’s Ferry, Arkansas.

Tuesday March 21, 1865

BATTLE OF BENTONVILLE CONCLUDES

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s troops kept up the pressure on Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s forces at Bentonville, North Carolina. The men of Major General J.A. Mower moved from the far Federal right around the Confederate left flank late in the afternoon and threatened the Mill Creek Bridge on Johnston’s retreat line. Counterattacks halted the menace after considerable fighting, which ended the Battle of Bentonville, the last significant Confederate effort to halt Sherman’s advance. During the night, Johnston ordered evacuation after reports that Federal Major General John Schofield had taken Goldsborough. Casualties for the Federals totaled more than 1,500 while Confederates sustained more than 2,600 losses, many of whom were captured.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of March 15-21, 1865 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Participated in the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia until April 2, 1865.      

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina on March 20-21, 1865.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas until May 13, 1865.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina on March 20-21, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until March 26, 1865.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until March 26, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until March 26, 1865.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – En route to Kinston and Goldsborough, North Carolina until March 21, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until April 9,1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until April 9,1865.

11th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Assigned to duty guarding the line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from Nashville to the Kentucky line. Companies E, G, and I were at Gallatin, Tennessee. Company A was at Buck Lodge. Company B at Edgefield Junction. Company C at Richland. Company D at Sandersville. Company H was at Mitchellsville. The location of companies F and K are unknown at this time. The regiment remained on duty at these locations until June 25, 1865.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling, until November 17, 1865.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling until May 1866.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D moved to Fort Abercrombie. Companies A and B assigned to garrison at Fort Abercrombie.  Company C assigned to garrison at Alexandria and Pomme de Terre. Company D on patrol duty from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina.  Companies E and F on frontier duty. The battalion would remain in these duty locations for the duration of the war – until April 26, 1866.

1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Battery – On garrison duty at Chattanooga, Tennessee until September 27, 1865.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – Participated in the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina on March 20-21, 1865.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty as infantry at Fort Irwin, Defenses of Chattanooga until March 30, 1865.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections on duty at Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Fort Sisseton until May 1865.

Inactive units: 

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive.  

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Mustered out of Federal service on April 29, 1864. Inactive. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Transferred to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry on February 20, 1865 at Petersburg, Virginia for duration of service.  

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I Mustered out of Federal Service on March 19, 1865.

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This Week in the American Civil War: March 8-14, 1865

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

(www.mncivilwar150.com and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)

 

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday March 8, 1865

Confederates under General Braxton Bragg attacked the soldiers of Federal Major General Jacob D. Cox’s army in the morning forcing a green Federal brigade to break. However, other units repulsed the Confederate attacks in the opening salvo of the Battle of Kinston, North Carolina. It was intended to be a major move against the Federal invasion force coming in from the coast, but the Confederate numbers were too small to sustain more than a momentary attack.

Skirmishing occurred at Love’s Bridge, South Carolina; Jackson County, Tennessee; Duguidsville, Virginia; and Poison Creek, Indian Territory.

Secretary of the Interior John P. Usher submitted his resignation to President Abraham Lincoln.

The Confederate Senate, by a vote of 9 to 8, approved the use of Negroes as soldiers.

Thursday March 9, 1865

Skirmishing continued at Kinston, North Carolina between General Braxton Bragg’s Confederates and Federal Major General Jacob D. Cox’s army.

Confederate cavalry swept in to attack a completely surprised Federal cavalry at Monroe’s Cross Roads, South Carolina, nearly capturing Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick who allegedly fled without his trousers.

President Abraham Lincoln accepted the resignation of Secretary of the Interior John P. Usher, to be effective on May 15. Assistant Secretary William Otto handled the department until a successor could be named and confirmed.

Friday March 10, 1865

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army was nearing Fayetteville, North Carolina, with some difficulty from the wet weather and skirmishing with the Confederate cavalry.

The fighting at Kinston, North Carolina ended after several serious Confederate attacks against Federal Major General Jacob D. Cox’s defenders. At night, Confederate General Braxton Bragg retreated to Kinston and then to Goldsborough to join General Joseph E. Johnston.      

Saturday March 11, 1865

The second step of Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s Carolina Campaign came to an end with the occupation of Fayetteville, North Carolina. The whole army pulled up to the city in the southern part of the state after light skirmishing. Sherman sent messengers to Wilmington, North Carolina to make contact with Major General John Schofield, in order to report his presence and arrange for coordination with the force coming in from the sea and form a two-pronged attack against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s forces.

President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a pardon to all who had deserted from the military or naval forces of the United States and returned within sixty days. If they did not return, they would forfeit their rights of citizenship.

The U.S. Senate adjourned after a brief special session to deal primarily with appointments. Presidential secretary John Nicolay was confirmed as U.S. consul in Paris, France.

Sunday March 12, 1865

    Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army remained in Fayetteville, North Carolina. They undertook the usual destruction of machinery, buildings and property they deemed of use to the enemy, including the former U.S. Arsenal and the machinery brought up from the old Harper’s Ferry Arsenal in 1861. Sherman also ordered the coastal troops to march straight for Goldsborough, North Carolina.

Skirmishing occurred near Peach Grove, Virginia; Morganza Bend, Louisiana; and near Lone Jack, Missouri.

Monday March 13, 1865

CONFEDERACY APPROVES NEGRO SOLDIERS

The Confederate Congress, after much delay and debate, finally sent a measure calling for the enlistment of Negroes in the Army to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who immediately signed it. Davis was authorized to call upon owners to volunteer their slaves and, it was general understood even if it wasn’t specifically stated, that any slaves who fought for the Confederacy would be made free by action of the states. The law was too late to be of much value.

Skirmishing occurred at Fayetteville, North Carolina; Beaver Dam Station, Virginia; Charles Town, West Virginia; and Dalton, Georgia.

Tuesday March 14, 1865

Major General Jacob D. Cox’s Federal troops occupied Kinston, North Carolina, in their advance inland from the sea towards Goldsborough and a junction with Major General William T. Sherman’s army.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of March 8-14, 1865 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Participated the Battle of Hatcher’s Run and were in the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia until April 2, 1865.       

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Fayetteville, North Carolina until March 19, 1865.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas until May 13, 1865.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Cheraw, South Carolina until March 19, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until March 26, 1865.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until March 26, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until March 26, 1865.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – En route to Kinston and Goldsborough, North Carolina until March 21, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in New Orleans, Louisiana until March 17, 1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in New Orleans, Louisiana until March 17, 1865.

11th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Assigned to duty guarding the line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from Nashville to the Kentucky line. Companies E, G, and I were at Gallatin, Tennessee. Company A was at Buck Lodge. Company B at Edgefield Junction. Company C at Richland. Company D at Sandersville. Company H was at Mitchellsville. The location of companies F and K are unknown at this time. The regiment remained on duty at these locations until June 25, 1865.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling, until November 17, 1865.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling until May 1866.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D moved to Fort Abercrombie. Companies A and B assigned to garrison at Fort Abercrombie.  Company C assigned to garrison at Alexandria and Pomme de Terre. Company D on patrol duty from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina.  Companies E and F on frontier duty. The battalion would remain in these duty locations for the duration of the war – until April 26, 1866.

1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery Battery – On garrison duty at Chattanooga, Tennessee until September 27, 1865.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty at Cheraw, South Carolina until March 20, 1865.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty as infantry at Fort Irwin, Defenses of Chattanooga until March 30, 1865.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections on duty at Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Fort Sisseton until May 1865.

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I - Attached to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry at Petersburg, Virginia until March 19, 1865. 

Inactive units: 

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive.  

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Mustered out of Federal service on April 29, 1864. Inactive. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Transferred to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry on February 20, 1865 at Petersburg, Virginia for duration of service.

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