This Week in the American Civil War: December 7-13, 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 December 7, 1864

Federal military authorities were upset over Major General George H. Thomas’s failure to attack Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee at Nashville, Tennessee. Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant told Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton that if Thomas did not attack promptly, he should be removed.

At Murfreesboro, Tennessee, fighting was fairly severe as Confederates under Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest demonstrated against the Federal outpost.

Thursday December 8, 1864

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army could almost smell the sea as the changing terrain and vegetation indicated that they were close to accomplishing their goal. Skirmishing flared at Ebenezer Creek and Bryan Court House, Georgia.

Fearing that Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood would make his way across the Ohio River, Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant told Major General Henry Halleck that Major General George H. Thomas ought to hand of his command to Major General John M. Schofield. Halleck deferred to Grant in making the decision but no change was made.

Friday December 9, 1864

Skirmishing broke out at the Ogeechee Canal, Cuyler’s Plantation and Monteith Swamp, Georgia; and around Hatcher’s Run, Virginia.

Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant issued an order replacing Major General George H. Thomas with Major General John M. Schofield, but suspended the order when Thomas informed him that he intended to attack the next day. Thomas also blamed the delay on necessary concentrations of men, horses and supplies.      

Saturday December 10, 1864

The marching part of Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s Georgia Campaign came to a close as the army arrived in front of Savannah. Sherman had determined not to assault the city but chose to invest it instead, as his army had not made contact with the naval supply vessels offshore. Immense amounts of forage were needed daily and all nearby feed was used up, which caused the horses to suffer.

A Confederate steamer, Ida, was captured and burned on the Savannah River, and a skirmish occurred at Springfield, Georgia.

Bad weather further delayed the planned Federal assault at Nashville as any movement was hazardous.

President Abraham Lincoln named Major General William F. Smith and Henry Stanbery as special commissioners to investigate civil and military affairs on and west of the Mississippi River.

Sunday December 11, 1864

     Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s troops were busy investing Savannah, Georgia, although the route north to Charleston was not cut off yet. The lengthy King’s Bridge over the Ogeechee River, the direct route to Fort McAllister, had to be rebuilt as it was damaged by Confederates.

Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant again urged Major General George H. Thomas to attack the Confederates at Nashville and was assured that he would as soon as the weather improved.

Monday December 12, 1864

The Federal army was at Savannah, Georgia getting its lines set for enveloping the city and in preparation for attack on Fort McAllister, the last barrier to contact with the U.S. Naval fleet. The Federals captured another Confederate vessel, the C.S.S. Resolute, on the Savannah River.

Federal Major General George H. Thomas informed Major General Henry Halleck in Washington that he was poised for attack against Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee at Nashville once the sleet melted, as it was almost impossible to move on the ice-covered ground.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis was still looking for troops to oppose Sherman at Savannah without weakening the position of General Robert E. Lee at Petersburg, Virginia.

Tuesday December 13, 1864

Federal Major General William T. Sherman made contact with the U.S. Navy fleet after the capture of Fort McAllister on the Ogeechee River below Savannah, Georgia. The small Confederate garrison under Major G.W. Anderson numbered only 230 men and suffered 35 casualties in the assault. The Federals sustained a loss of 24 killed and 110 wounded. Sherman’s army could now resupply and contact with officials in Washington was reestablished.

In Nashville, Tennessee, both Federal Major General George H. Thomas and Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood waited out the sleet storm. Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant ordered Major General John A. Logan to proceed to Nashville and replace Thomas if the attack had not commenced by Logan’s arrival. Grant then headed to Washington with the intention of going to Nashville himself if needed.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of December 7-13, 1864 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Participated in the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia until April 2, 1865. 

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Savannah, Georgia until December 21, 1864.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas until May 13, 1865.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Savannah, Georgia until December 21, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Nashville, Tennessee until December 15, 1864.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On provost duty at St. Louis, Missouri until January 29, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Nashville, Tennessee until December 15, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Murfreesboro, Tennessee until January 19, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Nashville, Tennessee until December 15, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Nashville, Tennessee until December 15, 1864.

11th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Assigned to duty guarding the line of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad from Nashville to the Kentucky line. Companies E, G, and I were at Gallatin, Tennessee. Company A was at Buck Lodge. Company B at Edgefield Junction. Company C at Richland. Company D at Sandersville. Company H was at Mitchellsville. The location of companies F and K are unknown at this time. The regiment remained on duty at these locations until June 25, 1865.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling, until November 17, 1865.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Engaged in frontier and patrol duty between Forts Wadsworth, Abercrombie, Ripley and Ridgely with headquarters at Fort Snelling until May 1866.

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 Heavy Artillery Battery – Organized at St. Paul and Rochester until February 1865.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty in Savannah, Georgia until December 21, 1864.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty as infantry at Fort Irwin, Defenses of Chattanooga until March 30, 1865.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections on duty at Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Fort Sisseton until May 1865.

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I – Attached to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry at Petersburg, Virginia until Feb. 20, 1865. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the Siege of Petersburg until Feb. 20, 1865.

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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