This Week in the American Civil War: December 17-23, 1862

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

( and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)


Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday December 17, 1862

As a result of continual political disputes with secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, the Union Secretary of State, William H. Seward, and his son and assistant, Frederick W. Seward, resigned. The resignations were not accepted.

Thursday December 18, 1862

Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest defeated Union cavalry at Lexington, Tennessee, in his campaign against Federal Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s supply lines.

President Abraham Lincoln received a committee of nine Republican senators and discussed reconstruction of the Federal Cabinet and the submitted resignation of William H. Seward as Secretary of State.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis visited Chattanooga, Tennessee and wrote to Secretary of War Seddon that the troops at Murfreesboro were in good condition and fine spirits. He added that cavalry expeditions under Forrest and Morgan were expected to break up Federal communications to both Buell and Grant.

South Carolina passed a law providing for the organization of Negro labor to work on defenses.

Friday December 19, 1862

In Washington, the Cabinet crisis took most of President Abraham Lincoln’s day. In the evening, there was a joint meeting of the Cabinet, except for Secretary of State William H. Seward, and the Senate Republican caucus committee. Postmaster General Montgomery Blair also offered to resign. President Lincoln requested Major General Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Army of the Potomac, to come to Washington if it were safe to do so.

Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest struck railroads near Jackson, Tennessee, in his drive against Federal Major General Ulysses Grant’s supply lines, with a skirmish occurring nearby. Other skirmishes occurred at Spring Creek, Tennessee., and on the Occoquan River in Virginia. 

Saturday December 20, 1862


Major General Earl Van Dorn’s Confederates, moving rapidly from Grenada, Mississippi, pounced on Major General Ulysses Grant’s huge advance supply depot at Holly Springs, Mississippi, capturing at least 1,500 Federal troops and destroying more than $1.5 million worth of military supplies. Van Dorn also hit lesser posts.

Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest further ruptured the railroads and fought skirmishes at Trenton and Humboldt, in Tennessee. As a result, grant was forced to relinquish his plans for an overland campaign and withdrew to La Grange, Tennessee.

In Washington, Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase tendered his resignation to Secretary of State William H. Seward. The remaining cabinet members called and President Abraham Lincoln ended the dispute by refusing to accept any of the resignations and asking the secretaries to resume their duties. They did so, ending the cabinet crisis.

Sunday December 21, 1862

     Fighting occurred at Davis’s Mill, Mississippi; Rutherford’s Station, Union City, and on the Wilson Creek Pike, Tennessee; at Van Buren, Arkansas; and Strasburg, Virginia.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis visited troops at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Monday December 22, 1862

President Abraham Lincoln conferred in Washington with Major General Ambrose Burnside as disputes raged over responsibility for the Fredericksburg debacle and the actions of various generals before and after the battle. President Lincoln issued an order congratulating the army for its bravery at Fredericksburg and called the defeat an “accident.”

Skirmishes occurred near Windsor and at Joyner’s Ferry on the Blackwater River in Virginia.

Tuesday December 23, 1862

Confederate President Jefferson Davis issued a proclamation calling the former Federal commander of New Orleans and the Gulf, Major General Benjamin F. Butler, a felon, outlaw and common enemy of mankind. Furthermore, Davis proclaimed that if Butler was captured, he should be “hanged immediately.” This was a result of Butler’s alleged tyrannical rule in New Orleans.

Major General Simon Bolivar Buckner assumed command of the Confederate District of the Gulf, and Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith resumed command of the Department of East Tennessee.

A skirmish occurred near Nashville, Tennessee, and on the St. Francis Road near Helena, Arkansas.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of December 17-23, 1862 

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – In camp near Falmouth, Virginia.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On guard duty at Gallatin, Tennessee until January 29, 1863.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Fort Snelling, Minnesota until January 16, 1863.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Duty at White’s Station and Memphis, Tennessee until February 24, 1863.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Companies B, C and D remained in Minnesota and Dakota Territory on garrison duty. The remaining companies were on Major General Ulysses Grant’s Central Mississippi Campaign until January 1863.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Fort Snelling, Glencoe, Forest City and Kingston until February 1863.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Mankato and other points in Minnesota until June 1863.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On frontier duty at various points in Minnesota: Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Center, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie until May 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in various frontier Minnesota communities until June 1863.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Regiment on detached service for garrison duty at various outposts in frontier Minnesota until June 1863.

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Organized at St. Cloud, St. Peter and Fort Snelling for frontier duty against Indians until June 1863.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On expedition at Fort Heiman, Tennessee.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On Major General Ulysses Grant’s Central Mississippi Campaign near Vicksburg, Mississippi until January 1863.

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty at Nashville, Tennessee until December 26, 1862.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – In camp 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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