This Week in the American Civil War – April 2- April 8, 1862 (150 years ago)

Information Courtesy of the Minn. Civil War Commemoration Task Force

Major Highlights for the week

Wednesday April 2, 1862

Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston issued orders for the movement of his newly organized army at Corinth, Mississippi, to attack Major General Ulysses Grant’s Federal army at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee.

An outbreak of severe weather spawned tornadoes in Cairo, Illinois and New Madrid, Missouri.

The U.S. Senate passed a House bill proposed by President Abraham Lincoln where the United States Government would give financial aid to states that adopt a gradual compensated emancipation of slaves. None of the Northern States acted upon the proposal.

Thursday April 3, 1862

General Albert Sidney Johnston’s army set out in pursuit of Grant’s army but delays forced a postponement of the planned April 4 attack. Despite Federal gunboats on patrol from Savannah, Tennessee; Eastport, Mississippi; and Chickasaw, Alabama; and a small skirmish near Monterey, Tennessee near Pittsburg Landing, the Federal forces at Pittsburg Landing were unaware of the Confederate advance.

Discovering that fewer than 20,000 troops were left in Washington, President Lincoln held back Brigadier General Irvin McDowell’s corps, despite protests from Major General George B. McClellan.

The U.S. Senate voted 29 to 14 in favor of abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia.

Friday April 4, 1862

Three major campaigns were escalating. On the Mississippi River at Island no. 10, a canal had been cut through the tangled swamps near New Madrid, Missouri, so that the Federals could move small vessels southward around the forts of the island. Under cover of night, the Federal gunboat Carondelet ran the Confederate batteries of the island during a heavy thunderstorm with the flashes of lightning mixing with the blast and roar of the artillery pieces. The Carondelet became an immediate threat to the Confederates on the island.

On the Peninsula, southeast of Richmond, Virginia, Major General George B. McClellan’s army moved slowly towards Yorktown. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston was shifting southward from the Rappahannock River to bolster the lines of Major General John B. Magruder on the Peninsula.

Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston’s army suffered further delays in departing Corinth, Mississippi as heavy rain sets in. It was now believed that the element of surprise was gone as the skirmishing around Grant’s army at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee intensified.

Saturday April 5, 1862

Instead of directly attacking the 15,000 Confederate defenders at Yorktown, Virginia, Major General George B. McClellan ordered his troops to begin constructing siege lines. While this was happening, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston was rapidly bringing in his reinforcements.

The other General Johnston, Albert Sidney Johnston, managed to get ready by late afternoon and again failed to attack Grant’s army at Pittsburg Landing.

In Nashville, Andrew Johnson, the Federal military governor of Tennessee, suspended the mayor, aldermen and councilmen of Nashville for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the Union.

Sunday April 6, 1862

BATTLE OF SHILOH BEGINS

After days of delays, rumors and skirmishes, General Albert Sidney Johnston’s Confederates advanced upon the Federal camp, including the camp of the 1st Minnesota Light Artillery, near Shiloh Church. Although the Federal troops were not caught in bed, as previously reported, the army was surprised nonetheless. General Ulysses Grant himself was at his headquarters in Savannah, Tennessee, were Major General Don Carlos Buell’s Federal forces were arriving.

Fighting ensued around the Sunken Road, Peach Orchard, Bloody Pond, Shiloh Church and the Hornet’s Nest. Federal Brigadier General Benjamin Prentiss held the Hornet’s Nest gallantly, with the help of the 1st Minnesota Light Artillery, only to be forced into surrender the position by late afternoon.

Grant’s forces were surprised but not beaten and were able to regroup. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnson was wounded in the leg around 2:30 p.m. and died from loss of blood. Federal Brigadier General W.H.L. Wallace was fatally wounded.

Meanwhile, Confederate Brigadier General John B. Magruder was holding his weak line while reinforcements from General Joseph E. Johnston arrived.

Monday April 7, 1862

Federal troops managed to re-capture most of the ground lost the day before at Shiloh until a Confederate counteroffensive halted the advance at the Peach Orchard. General P.G.T. Beauregard, replacing the fallen Albert Sidney Johnston, received word that Major General Earl Van Dorn was still in Arkansas and would not be able to send reinforcements at Pittsburg Landing. Beauregard retreated to Corinth, Mississippi. The two day battle claimed the lives of 3,477 killed in action on both sides. The Federals sustained losses of 1,754 killed; 8,408 wounded and 2,885 missing for a total of 13,047. Confederate losses included 1,723 killed; 8,012 wounded and 959 milling for a total of 10,694 in losses. Included in the Federal losses was Captain William Acker of the 16th U.S. Infantry Company C, who is buried at Oakland Cemetery in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the only Minnesotan to die at Shiloh who was brought home for burial.

The United States government signed a treaty with Great Britain calling for more efficient suppression of the illegal slave trade.

Tuesday April 8, 1862

As the news of the Battle of Shiloh, also known as Pittsburg Landing, made its way throughout the Northern and Southern States, the Confederates holding Island No. 10 surrendered to Major General John Pope, leaving Fort Pillow as the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of April 2-8, 1862 

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – At Yorktown, Virginia as part of McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Enroute from Savannah, Tenn. to Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in 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 at Fort Ridgely, Minn., Company C at Fort Ripley, Minn., and Company D at Fort Abercrombie, Dakota Territory. The detached companies would serve in their outposts until November 1862.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Repaired roads and erected telegraph lines around Nashville, Tenn.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – Active participants in the Battle of Shiloh.

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

1st United States Sharpshooters, Company I – On garrison duty at Fort Snelling, Minn.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Moved to Bristoe Station, Va., on       April 5-6.

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."
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