This Week in the American Civil War: March 11-17, 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 March 11, 1863

Federal gunboats and troops moved through the tangle of bayous and overgrown waterways from Yazoo Pass off of the Mississippi River to the Yalobusha River, ninety miles from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Confederate Major General W.W. Loring was sent to construct Fort Pemberton near Greenwood, Mississippi. The fort, built of earth and cotton bales on flooded ground, successful repelled the first of several attacks by Union gunboats seeking passage.

Colonel William Woods Averell was successfully confirmed as a brigadier general by the U.S. Senate. President Abraham Lincoln had to nominate him three times before the Senate approved the measure.

In Baltimore, Maryland, a Federal commander prohibited the sale of pictures of Confederate generals and statesmen.

Thursday March 12, 1863

The Federal force under Brigadier General Gordon Granger that had been operating around the Duck River in Tennessee returned to Franklin, Tennessee, after several skirmishes.

Friday March 13, 1863

Federal gunboats and troops renewed their bombardment at Fort Pemberton on the Yalobusha River near Greenwood, Mississippi. After a hard day of fighting, the fort continued to stand between them and Vicksburg.

An explosion at the Confederate Ordnance Laboratory in Richmond, Virginia, killed or wounded sixty-nine people including sixty-two women. A friction primer ignited accidentally. 

Saturday March 14, 1863

During the night, Admiral David Farragut in his flagship U.S.S. Hartford led his Union squadron up the Mississippi River and past the batteries at Port Hudson, Louisiana. Hartford and the U.S.S. Albatross succeeded in getting through, but the U.S.S. Monongahela and U.S.S. Richmond were damaged and had to drop back. The U.S.S. Mississippi ran aground and was under severe fire. She was set ablaze and abandoned, soon exploding in the river. Confederate batteries were deadly accurate and for a time threatened to destroy the entire flotilla. Meanwhile, Major General Nathaniel Banks’s troops carried out demonstrations on the land side at Port Hudson.

Sunday March 15, 1863

     In San Francisco, California, authorities seized the schooner J.M. Chapman, about to depart with twenty alleged secessionists and six Dahlgren guns. In Wilmington, North Carolina, the British Britannia successfully ran the blockade. All along the coasts this spring, interception of blockade-runners had been increasing.

Monday March 16, 1863

While the Yazoo Pass expedition was ending at Fort Pemberton on the Yalobusha River north of Vicksburg, Missisippi, Major General Ulysses Grant launched another assault against the city via Steele’s Bayou. The plan was to move through some two hundred miles of tortuous, twisting bayous from the Yazoo River to Steele’s Bayou and then behind the fortress. Eleven vessels were supported by Major General William T. Sherman’s infantry. Confederates, ready for such an effort, obstructed the narrow waterways even more than nature already had, making the progress laborious and slow.

Tuesday March 17, 1863

Federal cavalry under Brigadier General William Woods Averell, ordered to operate against Confederates around Culpeper, Virginia, crossed the Rappahannock River at Kelly’s Ford and were strongly engaged by Confederates who rushed up to halt the Federal troops. In the brush-covered country and on the Wheatley Farm, a small but hard-fought contest resulted in Averell’s withdrawal late into the afternoon. Casualties were 78 for the Federals and 133 for the Confederates.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of March 11-17, 1863 

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – In camp near Falmouth, Virginia until April 1863.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Chapel Hill, Tennessee until June 4, 1863.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Fort Heiman, Kentucky until June 2, 1863.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Expedition to Yazoo Pass via Moon Lake, Yazoo Pass, Coldwater and Tallahatchie Rivers until  April 8, 1863.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Duckport, Louisiana until April 1, 1863.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Fort Snelling, Glencoe, Forest City and Kingston until April 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 duty at Fort Donelson, Tennessee until June 5, 1863.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty at Lake Providence, Louisiana until April 22, 1863.

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty at Murfreesboro Tennessee until June 4, 1863.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – In camp at Falmouth, Virginia until April 27, 1863.

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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