This Week in the American Civil War: October 14-20, 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 October 14, 1863

Confederate Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill’s leading corps of the Army of Northern Virginia struck the retreating rear units of Federal Major General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac near Bristoe Station, Virginia. However, Hill’s forces were not sufficient to defeat the strongly posted Federals and the Confederates also failed to strike the center of the long Union column as it retreated. The rearguard action gave Meade time to prepare his lines in and around Centreville, Virginia, not far from Manassas, the site of two previous battlegrounds. Other fighting in the same area broke out at Catlett’s Station, Gainesville, McLean’s Ford, St. Stephen’s Church, Grove Church, near Centreville and at Brentsville.

Thursday October 15, 1863

The Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac, facing each other in the area along Bull Run, skirmished at McLean’s, Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s fords and at Manassas and Oak Hill. Each army tried to ascertain the other’s strength and intentions.

In Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sank for a second time during a practice dive. Hunley, the inventor, and seven men died. The vessel was raised again.

Friday October 16, 1863

Orders from Washington created the Military Division of the Mississippi, combining the Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland and the Tennessee with Major General Ulysses Grant in command. Grand was ordered from Vicksburg, Mississippi to Cairo, Illinois, while Secretary of War Edwin Stanton himself was on his way west to meet with Grant. 

Saturday October 17, 1863

Federal Major General Ulysses Grant, at Cairo, Illinois, was ordered to proceed to Louisville to receive instructions. En route at Indianapolis, Grant arrived by accident at the same time as Secretary of War Stanton, also heading for Louisville to meet with the general. Proceeding together, Stanton handed Grant his orders that created the Military Division of the Mississippi under his command. The orders had two versions for Grant to choose from. One left department commanders much as they were. The other relieved Major General William Rosecrans from command of the Department of the Cumberland and the army at Chattanooga. Grant accepted the order relieving Rosecrans and placed Major General George H. Thomas in command. Major General William T. Sherman was to lead the Department of the Tennessee, and Major General Ambrose Burnside was to continue heading the Department of the Ohio. Rosecrans, badly beaten at Chickamauga, was criticized for slowness and for being surrounded at Chattanooga. It was hoped that a more stable commander operating under Grant directly would be more effective.

In Washington, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 300,000 more volunteers for Federal armies.

Sunday October 18, 1863

Federal Major General Ulysses Grant assumed command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, which gave him control over Federal military operations from the Mississippi River on the west, to the Appalachian Mountains in the east. This came after rumors from Chattanooga that Major General William Rosecrans might retreat. Major General George H. Thomas was now in command of Rosecrans army.

Monday October 19, 1863

It was a day of light fighting as skirmishes broke out at Gainesville, New Baltimore, Catlett’s Station, Haymarket and Buckland Mills, Virginia; Zollicoffer and Spurgeon’s Mill, Tennessee; Smith’s Bridge, Mississippi, Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina; and at Honey Creek, Missouri.

Tuesday October 20, 1863

The Confederate cavalry retired across the Rappahannock River as the campaign towards Bristoe and Manassas ended, resulting in little change of territory and few losses. The casualties for the campaign were 205 Confederates killed; 1,176 wounded for a total of 1,381 casualties. The Federals sustained losses of 136 killed, 733 wounded and 1,423 missing for a total of 2,292 soldiers.

Major General Ulysses Grant, after conferring with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, left Louisville, Kentucky for Chattanooga, Tennessee. From Nashville, he wired instructions to Major General Ambrose Burnside in east Tennessee, as well as to other officers.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of October 14-20, 1863 

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Army of the Potomac’s Bristow Campaign until October 22, 1863.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee until November 23, 1863.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the capture of Little Rock, Arkansas, where they remained for garrison duty until April 28, 1864.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march from Helena, Arkansas to Corinth, Mississippi; then Memphis and Chattanooga, Tennessee until October 20, 1863.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Bear Creek, Mississippi until October 14, 1863.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Minnesota until June 9, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry –On duty in St. Louis, Missouri until April 20, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Minnesota until May 24,1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Moved to Jefferson City, Missouri for duty guarding railroad from Kansas Line to near St. Louis. Stationed at Rolla, Jefferson City, LaMine Bridge, Warrensburg, Independence, Knob Noster, Kansas City, Waynesville and Franklin with headquarters in Jefferson City until April 14, 1864, and at Rolla from April 14 – May 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty and provost duty at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri until April 21, 1864.

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – On duty at Fort Ripley and Fort Snelling until December 7, 1863.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On duty along the Tennessee River until November 14, 1863.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Organized at Fort Snelling and St. Paul. Companies A, B, C and D marched to Pembina for duty until November 13, 1863.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty at Vicksburg, Mississippi, until April 4, 1864.

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty in the Siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee until November 23, 1863.

3rd Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – Four sections on duty at Pembina, Fort Ripley, Fort Ridgely and Fort Snelling until June 5, 1864.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the Army of the Potomac’s Bristow Campaign until October 22, 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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