This Week in the American Civil War: December 2-8, 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 2, 1863

The Federal Army of the Potomac was completing its withdrawal to north of the Rapidan River in Virginia, abandoning the abortive Mine Run Campaign.

In Tennessee, Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet was now being threatened from the rear by fast approaching Federal troops intent on breaking the siege of Knoxville.

Confederate General Braxton Bragg turned over command of the Army of Tennessee to Lieutenant General William J. Hardee at Dalton, Georgia. Many of Bragg’s senior officers were glad to see him go. Although the Confederates were losing a fine disciplinarian and dedicated soldier, he was also a man under whom few could operate successfully.

Thursday December 3, 1863

From Knoxville, Tennessee, Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet began moving his army east and north towards Greeneville, where he took up winter quarters at a position that enabled him to move either to Virginia and General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, or to take offensive action in the West. The withdrawal marked the end of the full campaign in Tennessee, which was a full-scale Federal victory.

Friday December 4, 1863

As Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet pulled out of Knoxville because of pressure from Federal reinforcements, he retreated eastward in Tennessee where skirmishing erupted near Kingston and Loudon. Skirmishing occurred at Niobrara, Nebraska Territory; Meadow Bluff, West Virginia; La Fayette, Tennessee; and at Ripley, Mississippi.

At Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, seven days of bombardment ended after 1,307 artillery rounds were fired at Fort Sumter by Federal forces.

Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest was promoted to the rank of Major General. 

Saturday December 5, 1863

Fighting took place at Walker’s Ford on the Clinch River in Tennessee, as Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s army continued towards Greeneville. Other action occurred at Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina; Raccoon Ford, Virginia; and Crab Gap, Tennessee.

Only sixty-one artillery shells were fired in Charleston Harbor after the second great bombardment ended the previous day.

Sunday December 6, 1863

Federal Major General William T. Sherman and his staff entered Knoxville, Tennessee, formally ending the siege of Major General Ambrose Burnside’s troops. Meanwhile, Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s Confederates continued the march to Greeneville, Tennessee.

Elsewhere, a skirmish took place on the Cheat River in West Virginia and the monitor Weehawken sank at her anchorage near Morris Island, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina because of an imperfect design. Confederate President Jefferson Davis considered sending General Robert E. Lee to Dalton, Georgia to help reorganize the Army of Tennessee.

Monday December 7, 1863

In Washington, the first session of the Thirty-eighth Congress convened, and in Richmond, the fourth session of the first Confederate Congress. Fighting was confined to Rutledge and Eagleville, Tennessee, along with Independence, Mississippi.

The 1st Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” were formally mustered out of Federal service today, making them the first Minnesota troops to do so.

Tuesday December 8, 1863

President Abraham Lincoln issued his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction and issued his annual message to Congress, which was read to both houses the next day.

In Richmond, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, apprehensive over the military situation, asked General Robert E. Lee to visit with him.

In the Confederate Congress, Representative Henry S. Foote of Mississippi bitterly criticized Davis’s military and civil policies.

John C. Braine, leading a group of Confederate sympathizers, seized the Northern merchant steamer Chesapeake off of Cape Cod.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of December 2-8, 1863 

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – In camp in Stevensburg, Virginia until Feb. 5, 1864.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Ringgold, Georgia area until December 29, 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 duty at Bridgeport and Huntsville, Alabama until June 22, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in La Grange, Tennessee to guard Memphis & Charleston Railroad and scout after Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

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” – Mustered out of Federal service effective December 7, 1863.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On duty along the Tennessee River from Huntsville to Bellefonte, Alabama until January 7, 1864.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D on duty at Pembina until May 5, 1864.

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

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty near Rossville, Georgia until March 21, 1864.

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 – In camp in Virginia until May 4, 1864.

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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