This Week in the American Civil War: December 21-27, 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 21, 1864

With Brigadier General John W. Geary’s Twentieth Corps in the lead, Federal troops occupied Savannah, Georgia. They faced no opposition during the march. Confederate Lieutenant General William J. Hardee’s troops had escaped.

Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s suffering Army of Tennessee continued to march southward from Columbia towards Pulaski, Tennessee, leaving a rear guard behind. Federal Major General George H. Thomas’s force was plagued by exhaustion and difficult-to-cross streams and rivers.

The United States Congress set up a new grade of Vice Admiral with Rear Admiral David Farragut in mind for the promotion to the new rank.

Thursday December 22, 1864

Federal Major General William T. Sherman himself had arrived in Savannah, Georgia and transmitted his famous message to President Abraham Lincoln that stated: “I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.” He had been at Port Royal, South Carolina on military business when Savannah was evacuated. His Federal troops immediately worked on shoring up the defenses, replenishing their supplies and reorganizing the army.

Confederate Lieutenant General William J. Hardee’s retreating troops headed northward into South Carolina.

Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s rear guard skirmished with Federal Major General George H. Thomas’s pursuing force on the Duck River near Columbia, Tennessee. Another skirmish occurred at Franklin Creek, Mississippi.

Friday December 23, 1864

The Federal fleet from Fort Monroe, intending to attack Fort Fisher near Wilmington, North Carolina, had encountered very heavy seas and storms off Cape Hatteras and had been badly scattered. By now the battered vessels had arrived at the Beaufort rendezvous. Major General Benjamin F. Butler was in personal command of the two army divisions, numbering around 6,500 men. Admiral David Dixon Porter commanded the fleet. Butler had planned to explode an old hulk loaded with 215 tons of powder near the fort, predicting that it would destroy it and the garrison. The powder boat was set off but it caused no damage to friend or foe.

A skirmish at Warfield’s, near Columbia, Tennessee, marked the continuing operations of Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s rear guard against Federal Major General George H. Thomas’s pursuing force.      

Saturday December 24, 1864

The formidable Federal naval fleet under Admiral David Dixon Porter opened fire upon Fort Fisher, North Carolina, after the failure of the powder ship the night before. With the U.S.S. New Ironsides leading, the fleet fired a tremendous bombardment at the earth and sand fort, defended by about 500 men under Colonel William Lamb. The fort itself did not respond significantly to the Federal fire and several explosions inside set buildings on fire. Limited damage was done to the fort and casualties were fairly light for both sides.  The transports were now ready to attempt a landing above the fort.

In Tennessee, skirmishing occurred at Lynnville and Richland Creek, but the primary operations following the Battle of Nashville were over.

Sunday December 25, 1864

     Nearly sixty warships continued the Federal bombardment of Fort Fisher, easily hitting the parapets and traverses of the sand-built fort. The Federal troops landed two miles north, captured a battery and pushed close to the fort itself. However, as darkness approached, Confederate troops closed in from the north. Since the assault was deemed too expensive in lives, the fleet returned to Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee reached Bainbridge, Tennessee on the Tennessee River. Skirmishing occurred at Richland Creek, Devil’s Gap and White’s Station, Tennessee.

Confederate Major General Sterling Price’s Confederate command, still retreating from Missouri, arrived at Laynesport, Arkansas.

Monday December 26, 1864

Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee began crossing the Tennessee River at Bainbridge, Tennessee. Even though there was a skirmish at Sugar Creek, Tennessee, the crossing essentially ended the campaign.

President Abraham Lincoln congratulated Major General William T. Sherman for his victorious campaigns, including the vanquishing of Hood at Nashville.

Tuesday December 27, 1864

The Confederate Army of Tennessee completed their crossing of the Tennessee River at Bainbridge, Tennessee and then headed towards Tupelo, Mississippi.

Skirmishing broke out at Decatur, Alabama; and Okolona, Mississippi.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of December 21-27, 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 February 1, 1865.

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 February 1, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On pursuit of Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s forces to the Tennessee River until December 28, 1864.

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

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On pursuit of Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s forces to the Tennessee River until December 28, 1864.

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

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On pursuit of Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s forces to the Tennessee River until December 28, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On pursuit of Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s forces to the Tennessee River until December 28, 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 February 1, 1865.

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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