This Week in the American Civil War: December 31 – January 6, 1863

 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 31, 1862


The Confederates at Murfreesboro, Tennessee waited for an assault from Major General William S. Rosecrans Federal army but it did not come on the thirtieth. General Braxton Bragg took the initiative immediately after dawn when Lieutenant General William J. Hardee’s Confederate corps opened fire on the Federal’s right flank. Rosecrans’s army held for several assaults on their northern flank, but were pushed back to the Murfreesboro-Nashville Pike and pinned with their backs against Stone’s River. Assaults continued until late afternoon and the armies rested as the December evening fell early upon the battlefield.

In Washington, President Abraham Lincoln met with his Cabinet to make final adjustments to the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln also approved an act admitting West Virginia into the Union as the thirty-fifth state and signed an agreement with a promoter for a colony of free Negroes on Ile a Vache, Haiti.

Thursday January 1, 1863


“I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free.” Thus read the final Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, putting into effect President Abraham Lincoln’s preliminary proclamation of September 22, 1862. No slaves were freed specifically at that moment as the proclamation specified that it applied to “the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States.” However, it paved the way for the subsequent passage of the Thirteenth Amendment which was passed on January 31, 1865 and ratified nearly a year later.

At Murfreesboro, Tennessee, it was a quiet day as both armies rested, tended to their wounded and celebrated New Year’s Day.

Friday January 2, 1863


Late in the afternoon, General Braxton Bragg ordered Major General John C. Breckinridge’s Confederates to attack Colonel Samuel Beatty’s Federal division which was on a hill on the river’s east bank. Breckinridge initially protested but eventually relented to the attack. The attack was initially successful until the 45-guns of Captain John Mendenhall’s Federal artillery opened up on the Confederates and causing over 1,800 Confederate casualties in the course of one hour including many of the 1st Kentucky Brigade, which received it’s perpetual nickname as the “Orphan Brigade” after Breckinridge rode through its ranks crying out, “My poor Orphans! My poor orphans.” Bragg’s Confederates lost 1,294 killed, 7,945 wounded and 2,500 missing for a combined loss of 11,739 from approximately 35,000 engaged. Rosecrans’s Federals lost 1,677 killed, 7,543 wounded and 3,686 missing for a loss of 12,906 out of 41,400 engaged.

Salutes, celebrations and meetings followed the Emancipation Proclamation in many Northern cities. In Richmond, the New Year greeted people with high prices and more belt tightening.     

Saturday January 3, 1863

The Federals pushed two brigades forward at Murfreesboro in a mild attack on Southern lines at Stone’s River. During the night, General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of the Tennessee, despite apparent victory in the first stages of the battle, withdrew from Murfreesboro towards Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Confederates failed in an attack on Moorefield, West Virginia; and there was skirmishing at Burnsville, Mississippi; Somerville and Cox’s Hill, Tennessee.

Sunday January 4, 1863

     On the Mississippi River, Major General John A. McClernand, with the Federal Army of the Mississippi, began an unauthorized move up the Arkansas River with 30,000 troops and 50 transports and gunboats towards Fort Hindman.

Skirmishing occurred at Murfreesboro and on the Manchester Pike as General Braxton Bragg continued his withdrawal to Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Monday January 5, 1863

Federal troops entered Murfreesboro, although fighting on a minor scale continued at Lytle’s Creek, on the Manchester Pike, and on the Shelbyville Pike, Tennessee. President Lincoln tendered the thanks of the country to Major General William Rosecrans for his victory at Stone’s River.

In Richmond, Confederate President Jefferson Davis told a crowd that the Confederacy was the last hope “for the perpetuation of that system of government which our forefathers founded – the asylum of the oppressed and the home of true representative liberty.”

Tuesday January 6, 1863

It was a day of light fighting along Linn Creek in Missouri; and at Fort Lawrence, Beaver Station, Missouri as part of the raid by Confederate Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke.

A British steamer was seized off Mobile, Alabama, by the blockaders, one of the numerous captures by the day-in, day-out blockade of the Confederate coast.

Confederates captured a Northern riverboat, Jacob Musselman, near Memphis.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of December 31, 1862 – January 6, 1863 

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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