This Week in the American Civil War: July 2-8, 1862

Information Courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday July 2, 1862

Heavy rain fell on Virginia’s Peninsula as Federal Major General George B. McClellan pulled his army away from Malvern Hill and continued his retreat to Harrison’s Landing on the James River.

Fighting occurred at Huntsville, Alabama and Big Fort Valley, Virginia.

The Confederates created the Military District of Mississippi under the command of Major General Earl Van Dorn.

President Abraham Lincoln signed several acts into law including one banning polygamy in the territories, another law calling for a loyalty oath by every elected or appointed government officer and the Morrill Act, which provided for the states to receive 30,000 acres of land for each senator and representative as an endowment for proposed agricultural and mechanical schools. The measure made possible land grant agricultural colleges in every state. He signed the Pacific Railroad Act the previous day, which created the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads and set aside lands in the Western United States for the creation of a transcontinental railroad.

Thursday July 3, 1862

Federal Major General Sterling Price assumed command of the Army of the West. Otherwise, it was a light day with small skirmishes occurring at Locust Grove, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma); Russellville, Alabama; near Herring Creek near Harrison’s Landing, Virginia plus bombardment at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Friday July 4, 1862

Independence Day was greeted with even more than usual enthusiasm in the north with speeches, proclamations and general orders presented. But it didn’t cease the fighting throughout the theaters of operation. Skirmishing occurred near Harrison’s Landing and Westover, Virginia; Port Royal Ferry, South Carolina; a Confederate attack occurred on U.S. vessels near Velasco, Texas; and Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan embarked on his first Kentucky raid, which lasted until July 28. The Confederate gunboat Teaser was captured by Federals as it attempted to go down the James River and launch an observation balloon made of old silk frocks. Bombardment of Vicksburg, Mississippi continued. 

Saturday July 5, 1862

Confederate President Jefferson Davis agreed with General Robert E. Lee that Confederate armies were not numerous enough and were so thin that an attack on McClellan on the James River would be impossible at this time. Skirmishes occurred at Battle Creek and Walden’s Ridge, Tennessee and on the Hatchie River in Mississippi. Confederates carried out minor operations against Federal shipping on the James River. A Federal expedition operated from Ponchatoula, Louisiana to flush out Confederate guerrillas.

Sunday July 6, 1862

From North Carolina, Federal Major General Ambrose E. Burnside sailed with reinforcements for the Army of the Potomac on the James River in Virginia. Skirmishes were fought at Bayou Cache, Arkansas and Salem, Missouri.

Monday July 7, 1862

Skirmishes occurred at Inman Hollow and Newark, Missouri, while other operations included a Federal reconnaissance from Yorktown, Virginia; around the Cumberland Gap, Tennessee; and in Arkansas Bay, Texas.

Federal Major General George B. McClellan’s days as the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army were now numbered after he wrote his famous “Harrison’s Bar Letter” to President Lincoln, by attempting to enlarge the scope of his influence by advising the President on political as well as military policy. He wrote, “In carrying out any system of policy which you may form will require a commander-in-chief of the army, one who possesses your confidence, understands your views and who is competent to execute your orders by directing the military forces of the nation to the accomplishment of the objects by you proposed. I do not ask that place for myself. I am willing to serve you in such position as you may assign me, and I will do as faithfully as ever subordinate served superior.”

Tuesday July 8, 1862

President Lincoln arrived at Fort Monroe and Harrison’s Landing to confer with General McClellan and to review the Army of the Potomac. Skirmishes occurred at Black Run, Arkansas and Pleasant Hill, Missouri.

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

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – In camp at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – In camp at Tuscumbia, Alabama.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry –Duty at Camp Clear Creek near Corinth, Mississippi.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Companies B, C and D remained in Minnesota and Dakota Territory on garrison duty while the remaining companies were moved to Rienzi, Mississippi. Companies B and C move to Sioux Agency on the Yellow Medicine River to preserve order during annuity payments to Indians.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Humboldt, Tenn., scouting and protecting the railroad.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On garrison duty at Corinth, Miss.

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – Marched to Jacinto and Ripley, Mississippi.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – On duty at Falmouth, Virginia.

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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