This Week in the American Civil War: June 15-21, 1864

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

(www.mncivilwar150.com and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)

 

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday June 15, 1864

Federal Major General William F. Smith, from Bermuda Hundred Landing, had orders from Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, through Major General Benjamin Butler, to move early and attack Petersburg, Virginia. Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, commanding the Federal Second Corps which had just crossed the James River, had farther to go but could have cooperated fairly well. Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard had approximately 3,000 troops in defense, which could never have stopped 16,000 Federals. But a mix-up of orders, lack of rations, poor maps, missed opportunities and delays by commanders, along with courageous Southern defense, saved Petersburg and lengthened the war by several months. Grant spent the day on the James River supervising the crossing of other troops at the pontoon bridge.

Beauregard informed Confederate authorities and General Robert E. Lee that the main attack would occur at Petersburg and requested reinforcements. Lee still believed that Grant’s army was north of the James River, which suggests that the Federal deception worked.

Thursday June 16, 1864

Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard stripped his Bermuda Hundred defense line that faced Federal Major General Benjamin Butler down to a mere thousand, and rushed the remainder of his line to reinforce the Petersburg line, which even then only numbered 14,000. More Federal troops came up after crossing the James River. Federal attackers captured a redan in the morning and about 6 p.m. assaulted heavily and, despite severe losses, captured three redans and some trenches. Confederates failed to recover the works, and had to take up temporary entrenchments farther back. On the Bermuda Hundred front, Federals hit the weakened Confederate lines and took them. Confederate General Robert E. Lee, still not convinced that Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant was in force south of the James River, felt compelled to send two divisions to reoccupy the Bermuda Hundred positions, which occurred in the early evening.

President Abraham Lincoln traveled to Philadelphia for the Great Central Fair.

Friday June 17, 1864

Federal troops of Major General Ambrose Burnside’s Ninth Corps made a surprise attack at the Shand House on the Petersburg line, but with only limited results. The Confederates launched a successful counterattack late in the afternoon. After midnight, the Confederates pulled back to a shorter, more defensible prepared position.

In Georgia, Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s right wing troops vigorously attacked the new Confederate lines along Mud Creek in front of Marietta.

Skirmishes erupted near Columbia, Missouri; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and Diamond Hill, Virginia.

President Abraham Lincoln returned to Washington in the morning from the Philadelphia trip. At 8:30 a.m., a blast, followed by fire, rocked the cartridge-making building of the Washington Arsenal. Eighteen were killed or fatally wounded and fifteen to twenty injured. 

Saturday June 18, 1864

With the arrival of the rest of the Army of the Potomac and Army of Northern Virginia in Petersburg, Virginia, Federal Major General Ulysses Grant’s “Overland Campaign” was essentially over. The Federals controlled two of the five railroads into the city and several roads. Confederate General Robert E. Lee stiffened his defenses and the “Siege of Petersburg” commenced. There were approximately 50,000 Confederates defending a position against 110,000 Federals.

On the Georgia front, General Joseph E. Johnston moved his Confederate Army of Tennessee back again to another line of defense – this time closer to Marietta in a semi-circle. The new line ran mainly along Big and Little Kennesaw mountains – a strong position that may have been impregnable to direct assault.

Sunday June 19, 1864

    USS KEARSARGE SINKS CSS ALABAMA

For several months, the United States Navy sought the elusive, strikingly successful Confederate raider, C.S.S. Alabama. At last they cornered her in Cherbourg, France. Raphael Semmes was forced to take his worn-out sip to the French harbor for a re-fit and was awaiting permission for the overhaul when Captain John A. Winslow brought the U.S.S. Kearsarge off the coast. Semmes sailed the Alabama out of the harbor by mid-morning and faced off just before 11 a.m. when the Alabama opened fire. The two vessels exchanged broadsides, gradually drawing closer. An hour later, the Alabama ceased firing and returned to shore, its hull filling rapidly with water. The English yacht Deerhound took some of the survivors, including Semmes. The Alabama sustained casualties of 9 killed, 21 wounded for a total of 30. There were only three wounded on the Kearsarge.

Skirmishing broke out  at Noonday Creek and Noyes’s Creek, Georgia; Bayou Grossetete, Louisiana; Eagle Pass, Texas; Hahn’s Farm near Waldron, Arkansas; and Iron Bridge in Indian Territory.

Monday June 20, 1864

Federal forces in Georgia under Major General William T. Sherman continued to press against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s defenses at Kennesaw Mountain. Skirmishing occurred at Cassville, Noonday Church¸ Noyes’s Creek, Powder Springs, Lattimer’s Mills and Noonday Creek, Georgia.

In Virginia, Petersburg remained relatively quiet as the two armies stared at each other across growing entrenchments.

President Abraham Lincoln left Washington on the U.S.S. Baltimore to visit the Army of the Potomac.

Tuesday June 21, 1864

Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant and other officers visited President Lincoln aboard the U.S.S. Baltimore. The president reviewed troops from a U.S. Colored Troop division. Lincoln and Grant then toured the Petersburg lines on horseback.

In Richmond, Confederate President Jefferson Davis reluctantly accepted the resignation of Treasury Secretary Christopher G. Memminger, who had been aware of the severe criticisms he faced of his operation of the Confederate Treasury, many of which were unavoidable.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of June 15-21, 1864 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Participated in the original assault against Petersburg, Virginia and then settled in for the Siege of Petersburg. 

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Battle of Lost Mountain in Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Pine Bluff, Arkansas until October 10, 1864.

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

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Veterans on furlough until Aug. 17, 1864. Remainder of regiment remained at Memphis, Tennessee for duty.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Enroute to Helena, Arkansas for duty.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Memphis, Tennessee.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Fort Sully on the Missouri River as part of the Sully Expedition to Dakota Territory until July 1, 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty around Memphis, Tennessee.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty around Memphis, Tennessee.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – On the march to Fort Sully on the Missouri River as part of the Sully Expedition to Dakota Territory until July 1, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On the march to Fort Sully on the Missouri River as part of the Sully Expedition to Dakota Territory until June 28, 1864.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D moved to Fort Abercrombie. Companies A and B assigned to garrison at Fort Abercrombie.  Company C assigned to garrison at Alexandria and Pomme de Terre. Company D on patrol duty from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina.  Companies E and F on frontier duty. The battalion would remain in these duty locations for the duration of the war – until April 26, 1866.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty around Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia as part of the Atlanta Campaign.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Veterans were on furlough through June 5, 1864. Non-veterans attached to Battery I, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where they escorted cattle and horses to the army in the field until July 14, 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On the march to Fort Sully on the Missouri River as part of the Sully Expedition to Dakota Territory until July 1, 1864.

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I– Attached to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry at Petersburg, Virginia. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the Battle of Petersburg and Siege of Petersburg.

Inactive units: 

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

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Mustered out of Federal service on April 29, 1864. Inactive.

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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