This Week in the American Civil War – March 19-25, 1862 (150 years ago)

Courtesy of the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

Major Highlights for the week

Wednesday March 19, 1862

It was a light day today. The only action was a skirmish at Elk Mountain, in western Virginia, and Strasburg, Va. The Federals performed a reconnaissance around May River, S.C.

Thursday March 20, 1862

Threatened by the presence of Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, Federal troops under Major General Nathaniel Banks moved from Strasburg to Winchester, Va. Skirmishing occurred at Philippi, western Virginia. Union Major General Benjamin F. Butler assumed command of the Department of the Gulf at Ship Island, Miss., which continued the build-up of Federal forces preparing to move on New Orleans, La.

The 1st United States Sharpshooters Company I, which was organized in St. Paul, Minn., was mustered into Federal service.

The 2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry left Nashville for Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.

Friday March 21, 1862

The 2nd Independent Battery of Minnesota Light Artillery was organized at Fort Snelling, Minn.

A Norfolk, Va., newspaper, the Day-Book, complained about increased drinking among Confederate officers, who were said to imbibe “in quantities which would astonish the nerves of a cast-iron lamp-post, and a quality which would destroy the digestive organs of the ostrich.” Otherwise, it was one of those rare quiet days when nothing of consequence appeared to have happened.

Saturday March 22, 1862

The quiet day was not extended as Federal troops clashed with elements of Confederate Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s command near Kernstown, Va. It was a precursor to a much larger affair.

Skirmishing occurred at Post Oak Creek and Little Santa Fe, Missouri. The Federal government created the Middle Military Department with headquarters at Baltimore, Md., and was commanded by Major General John A. Dix.

The 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry left Bolivar Heights, Va., for Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, Va.

The 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Company B left Fort Snelling for Fort Ridgely, Minn., for extended garrison duty. Company C and D also left for extended garrison duty at remote outposts at Fort Ripley, Minn., and Fort Abercrombie, Dakota Territory around this time. The three detached companies would not rejoin the regiment until November 1862.

Sunday March 23, 1862

A few miles south of Winchester, in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Confederate Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson drove his forces hard against the Federal troops of Brigadier General James Shields at Kernstown. Colonel Turner Ashby’s Confederate cavalry reported only a Federal rear guard as having been left in Winchester. Jackson struck with his 3,500 troops and found Shields having a near three-to-one advantage with more than 9,000. The Confederates suffered 80 killed, 375 wounded and 263 missing for a combined loss of 718. The Federals had 118 killed, 450 wounded and 22 missing for a total loss of 590. Shields, a former U.S. Senator who, in three separate terms represented three different states – Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri, was wounded.

The Battle of Kernstown marked the beginning of the Confederate “Shenandoah Valley Campaign.” It forced the Federals to re-deploy forces to protect Washington and Harper’s Ferry, instead of sending those troops to join McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign.

Elsewhere, siege operations under Federal Brigadier General John G. Parke began on Fort Macon, near Beaufort, North Carolina.

Monday March 24, 1862

The United States Congress took up the topic of compensated emancipation. Afterward, President Abraham Lincoln wrote in a letter to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, “we should urge it persuasively, and not menacingly, upon the South.”

Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston’s army reached Corinth, Miss., completing its movement from Murfreesboro, Tenn. Johnston was preparing to move against Federal Major General Ulysses Grant, who was 20 miles away at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.

The 3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, which was previously guarding the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, arrived in Nashville, Tenn. for garrison duty.

Tuesday March 25, 1862

It was a day of Federal expeditions, with a three-day reconnaissance from Murfreesboro to Shelbyville, Tullahoma, Manchester, and McMinnville, Tenn.; a four-day expedition in Moniteau County, Mo.; a reconnaissance to Agnew’s Ferry, Tenn.; and a skirmish at Mount Jackson, Va.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry left Fort Henry for Savannah, Tenn.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of March 19-25, 1862 

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Left Bolivar Heights, Va., on March 22, for Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, Va.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Left Nashville on March 20 and advanced towards Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Nashville, Tenn.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Fort Snelling, Minn., Fort Ridgely, Minn., and Fort Abercrombie, Dakota Territory.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Fort Snelling, Minn., with the exception of companies B, C and D which were detached for garrison duty elsewhere. Company B left for Fort Ridgely, Minn., Company C left for Fort Ripley, Minn., and Company D left for Fort Abercrombie, Dakota Territory. The detached companies would serve in their outposts until November 1862.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On patrol duty at Fort Henry, Tenn., until March 25, when it left for Savannah, Tenn.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On garrison duty at St. Louis, Mo.

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – Organized at Fort Snelling, Minn.

1st United States Sharpshooters, Company I – Organized at St. Paul, Minn. Mustered into service on March 20, 1862.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Training at Colonel Hiram Berdan’s “Camp of Instruction”

About civilwarweek

Member - Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force, Civil War reenactor and historian since 1993, holds Bachelor's Degree in History from Concordia University-St. Paul, currently pursuing Master's Degree in History at St. Cloud State University and is author of the forthcoming book, "Muskets and Memories: A Modern Man's Journey through the Civil War."
This entry was posted in 1862, This Week in the Civil War and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply