This Week in the American Civil War: December 9-15, 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 9, 1863

As the U.S. Congress heard President Abraham Lincoln’s annual message that was read by the clerks, Major General John G. Foster superseded Major General Ambrose Burnside in command of the Department of the Ohio. Burnside, criticized for his handling of the Copperhead movement and for not supporting Major General William Rosecrans at Chickamauga, had for some time wanted to leave his departmental command.

A mutiny of Negro troops at Fort Jackson, Louisiana, below New Orleans, was put down by white Federal officers. It arose over alleged mistreatment by one officer of his soldiers.

The English blockade-runner Minna was taken off of the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, just one of many captures during these months.

Thursday December 10, 1863

Fighting flared in east Tennessee as Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet tried to gather his command in the Greeneville area. Skirmishing occurred at Gatlinburg, Long Ford, Morristown and Russellville.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis expressed concern over the disposition of troops for the Confederate armies.

United States President Abraham Lincoln, increasingly active, appeared much improved in health after suffering a bout with varioloid.

Friday December 11, 1863

A relatively light bombardment of 220 artillery rounds were fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. However, one round exploded a magazine, killing 11 and wounding 41. It was the last bombardment of the year the Federals waged against the fort and it brought no impending signs of surrender.

Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon’s annual report admitted serious defeats, especially in Mississippi, along with reduced military effectiveness because of desertion, straggling and absenteeism. He recommended repeal of the substitute and exemption provisions of the draft law. 

Saturday December 12, 1863

Federal troops successfully attacked Gatewood, Lewisburg and Greenbrier River, West Virginia, in the continuing cavalry raids on Confederate railroads. On the front southeast of Chattanooga, a skirmish occurred near La Fayette, Georgia; and in the Knoxville Campaign, fighting occurred at Cheek’s Crossroads and Russellville. Action in Virginia flared near Strasburg and from Williamsburg to Charles City Courthouse.

Sunday December 13, 1863

Skirmishing increased with action at Hurricane Bridge, West Virginia; Powell’s River near Stickleyville, Strasburg, and Germantown, Virginia; and in east Tennessee at Farley’s Mill and Dandridge’s Mill. Other fighting occurred at Ringgold, Georgia; and at Meriwether’s Ferry, Bayou Bouef, Arkansas.

Mary Todd Lincoln’s half-sister Emilie Todd Helm visited the White House. Mrs. Helm was the widow of slain Confederate Brigadier General Benjamin Hardin Helm, who was killed at Chickamauga.

Monday December 14, 1863

Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet attacked Federal troops at Bean’s Station, Tennessee. In a sharp engagement, Federals under Brigadier General James M. Shackelford were driven back, then made a stand, only to be driven back the next day.

President Abraham Lincoln announced that his wife’s half-sister, Emilie Todd Helm, had been granted amnesty after taking the oath the Union, as provided by the presidential proclamation of December 8.

Tuesday December 15, 1863

Action was near Pulaski and Livingston, Tennessee; and at Sangster’s Station, Virginia. Confederate Major General Jubal A. Early was assigned to the Shenandoah Valley District.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of December 9-15, 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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