This Week in the American Civil War: December 16-22, 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 16, 1863

The Confederate government announced several major command changes. General Joseph E. Johnston was named to command the Army of Tennessee, succeeding Lieutenant General William J. Hardee, who had temporarily taken over for General Braxton Bragg. Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk was left in command of the Army of Mississippi at Brandon, Mississippi replacing Johnston, who headed to his new command at Dalton, Georgia.

Federal Brigadier General John Buford was promoted to the rank of major general just a few hours before his death in Washington of typhoid fever. Upon the recommendation of Major General George Stoneman, President Lincoln assented to the promotion and wrote, “I am informed that General Buford will not survive the day. It suggests itself to me that he will be made Major General for distinguished and meritorious service at the Battle of Gettysburg.” When informed of the promotion, Buford asked, “Does he mean it?” When told that it was a genuine promotion, Buford replied, “It is too late, now I wish I could live.” He passed away at 2 p.m.

Thursday December 17, 1863

President Abraham Lincoln forwarded to Congress a plan by the Freedmen’s Aid Society to set up a Federal Bureau of Emancipation to assist freed slaves. Nothing came of the proposal until the Freedmen’s Bureau was established in March 1865. Skirmishing was confined to Sangster’s Station, Virginia; and Rodney, Mississippi.

Friday December 18, 1863

Minor fighting broke out with action at Bean’s Station and Rutledge, Tennessee; Indiantown or Sandy Swamp, North Carolina; near Culpeper, Virginia; and at Sheldon’s Place near Barren Fort, Indian Territory.

Chaplains in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia met at Orange Courthouse, where reports indicated a “high state of religious feeling throughout the army.” 

Saturday December 19, 1863

Several skirmishes in Virginia and West Virginia resulted from the long-continuing Federal raids on railroads connecting southwest Virginia and West Virginia with the seaboard area.

In Washington, the Lincoln’s held a reception for congressmen, other officials, and the officers of Russian warships visiting the United States.

Federal naval forces continued their destruction at St. Andrew’s Bay, Florida, including 290 salt works and 268 buildings.

Sunday December 20, 1863

     President Abraham Lincoln told an official of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, “I shall not attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation.”

Monday December 21, 1863

Skirmishing was confined to Hunter’s Mill, Virginia; and McMinnville and Clinch River, Tennessee. Federal scouts operated from Rossville to La Fayette, Georgia; from Rocky Run towards Trenton, North Carolina; and from Bealeton to Luray, Virginia.

Tuesday December 22, 1863

Desultory fighting occurred at Cleveland, Tennessee; Fayette, Mississippi; and union scouts probed in east Tennessee.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of December 16-22, 1863 

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – In camp at Stevensburg, Virginia until February 5, 1864.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Ringgold, Georgia until April 29, 1864.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Little Rock, Arkansas until April 28, 1864.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Huntsville, Alabama until June 22, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in LaGrange, Tennessee to guard Memphis & Charleston Railroad until January 26, 1864.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at various Minnesota outposts for garrison duty until June 9, 1864.

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

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 – 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.

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

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – Organized at Fort Snelling between December 5, 1863 and January 5, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Outpost duty on line of Tennessee River from south of Huntsville to Bellefonte, Alabama.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A,B,C and D on frontier duty in 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 at Rossville, Georgia until March 21, 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections of the battery were stationed at Fort Snelling, Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Pembina until June 5, 1864.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – On duty around the Rapidan River, 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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