This Week in the American Civil War: January 11-17, 1865

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 January 11, 1865

Meeting in St. Louis, the Constitutional Convention of Missouri adopted an ordinance abolishing slavery.

Confederate Major General Thomas Rosser with a small band of about 300 Confederates captured 580 Federal troops and caused 28 casualties while seizing considerable quantities of rations in a raid at Beverly, West Virginia. Federal investigators later called it a disaster due to carelessness and lack of discipline.

In Richmond, Virginia, Confederate President Jefferson Davis continued to gather all available reserves, militia, recruits and the tattered Army of Tennessee, which was in Tupelo, Mississippi, over to South Carolina to face Federal Major General William T. Sherman who was on the move from Savannah, Georgia.

Thursday January 12, 1865

The sixty vessels of the Federal war fleet arrived off of Fort Fisher, North Carolina, containing a vast number of troop transports with eight thousand soldiers prepared to do battle. Landings, however, had to be put off until the next day. Confederate Colonel William Lamb, commanding the garrison at Fort Fisher, learned of the expedition’s arrival and notified General Braxton Bragg, commander of the Confederate forces in the Wilmington, North Carolina area.

Francis Preston Blair Sr., the aging Democrat political leader, conferred with Confederate President Jefferson Davis on prospects of possible peace. Though he was acting unofficially, it is presumed that Blair had the backing of President Abraham Lincoln. The Confederate president gave Blair a letter indicating Davis’s willingness to enter into peace negotiations.

Friday January 13, 1865

ATTACK ON FORT FISHER, NORTH CAROLINA BEGINS/HOOD RESIGNS

Admiral David Dixon Porter’s Federal naval fleet with 627 guns on 59 vessels began bombarding Fort Fisher, North Carolina, at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. With small boats from the Navy, approximately 8,000 Federal troops under Major General Alfred H. Terry’s command were put ashore on the narrow north-south peninsula above the fort. There was no Confederate opposition to the landing. Colonel William Lamb, commanding the fort’s garrison, called upon General Braxton Bragg and his 6,000 troops between Wilmington and the fort, to attack the landing party.

Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood, the flamboyant commander of the Army of Tennessee, resigned his post in Tupelo, Mississippi. Lieutenant General Richard Taylor was named his successor who would operate under the supervision of General P.G.T. Beauregard.      

Saturday January 14, 1865

FORT FISHER BATTLE CONTINUES

Major General Alfred H. Terry’s Federal expeditionary force secured its position on the sandy peninsula north of Fort Fisher, North Carolina, and completed its defensive line to hold of General Braxton Bragg’s Confederates. The fire of the Federal fleet, monitors and wooden ships was termed “magnificent” for its power and accuracy, while the Confederates inside the fort were unable to repair damage to the fortification. Confederate Colonel William Lamb and Major General William H.C. Whiting, who was with Lamb in the fort, continued their calls to Bragg for assistance.

Some of Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s forces moved out to a new position from Beaufort to Pocotaligo, South Carolina.

General P.G.T. Beauregard temporarily took command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, while waiting for Lieutenant General Richard Taylor to arrive.

Sunday January 15, 1865

    ASSAULT ON FORT FISHER

After two-days of heavy naval bombardment, the Federal forces attempted a two-pronged assault of Fort Fisher, North Carolina. A naval and Marine Corps brigade of about 2,000 moved forward on the ocean side of the narrow peninsula, but met the full force of the defenders infantry and three remaining movable guns. They fell back in panic and defeat. However, on the Cape Fear River, 3,300 men of Brigadier General Adelbert Ames division rushed forward with more success. After being held up by the strong traverses constructed by the Confederates, they managed to get through. By late evening, the had the entire fort and its garrison of approximately 1,900 Confederates in their possession, including Colonel William Lamb and Major General William H.C. Whiting who were both wounded. Confederate casualties are estimated around 500 while the Federal losses amounted to 266 killed, 1018 wounded and 57 missing for an aggregate total of 1,341. The Southern officers at the fort violently assailed General Braxton Bragg for failing to relieve the pressure, but Bragg claimed the Federal defensive line was too strong.

In Boston, Massachusetts, Edward Everett, the famous orator who gave the keynote address at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania alongside President Abraham Lincoln died at the age of seventy-one.

Monday January 16, 1865

At Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in the wake of the Federal attack, the main magazine accidentally exploded killing 25, wounding 66 and leaving 13 missing for 104 casualties.

In Washington, Francis Preston Blair Sr. reported back to President Abraham Lincoln over the recent peace discussions with Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Blair presented Lincoln with Davis’s letter which spoke of negotiations between the two nations.

Davis, informed of the fall of Fort Fisher, urged General Braxton Bragg at Wilmington, North Carolina, to retake the fort if it was possible.

The Confederate Senate passed a resolution, by a vote of 14 to 2, that it was the judgment of Congress that General Robert E. Lee should be assigned as General-in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederacy and that General P.G.T. Beauregard should command the army in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. It also suggested that General Joseph E. Johnston should be re-assigned to his old command, the Army of Tennessee. Many in the South had long favored such a move.

Tuesday January 17, 1865

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army was about ready to move northward from the Savannah, Georgia area, although rain and high water in the rivers delayed their actual departure.

News of the Federal victory at Fort Fisher continued to spread throughout the Union and Confederate states.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of January 11-17, 1865 

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 duty in Eastport, Mississippi until February 6, 1865.

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

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Eastport, Mississippi until February 6, 1865.

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

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Eastport, Mississippi until February 6, 1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Eastport, Mississippi until February 6, 1865.

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 – On duty at St. Paul and Rochester, Minnesota 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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