This Week in the American Civil War: February 1-7, 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 February 1, 1865

After two weeks of preliminary movements and extensive preparation, Federal Major General William T. Sherman actively began his march into South Carolina from Savannah, Georgia and Beaufort, South Carolina. The troops of the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Army Corps moved ahead despite felled trees and burned bridges. The well-trained pioneer battalions quickly cleared the way. Confederate cavalry attempted to hinder the advance forcing skirmishes at Hickory Hill and Whippy Swamp Creek, South Carolina.

Illinois became the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery. President Abraham Lincoln signed a resolution submitting the amendment to the states even though his signature was not required.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis reluctantly accepted the resignation of Secretary of War James A. Seddon. A Virginia delegation in the Confederate Congress even called for relieving all of the Confederate Cabinet, though Davis defended his right to choose his own advisors.

Thursday February 2, 1865

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s right wing was on the Salkehatchie River in South Carolina. The rivers and swamps were as much obstacles to the Federal advance into South Carolina as the Confederate cavalry and other troops trying in vain to block their way. Severe skirmishing occurred at Lawtonville, Barker’s Mill on Whippy Swamp, Duck Branch near Loper’s Cross Roads, and Rivers’s and Broxton’s bridges on the Salkehatchie River.

Rhode Island and Michigan joined Illinois in ratifying the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery.

President Abraham Lincoln left Washington, D.C. for Hampton Roads, Virginia, where the three Confederate commissioners were already gathered. They were Vice President Alexander Stephens, Assistant Secreatry of War and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John A. Campbell, and Senator R.M.T. Hunter. In the evening, Lincoln arrived at Fort Monroe and boarded the River Queen, where Secretary of State William H. Seward already had his headquarters.

Friday February 3, 1865

HAMPTON ROADS CONFERENCE

Five men sat in the salon of the River Queen in Hampton Roads off of Fort Monroe, Virginia, discussing the fates of the United States and Confederate States of America. On one side, President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward; the other side featured Vice President Alexander Stephens, R.M.T. Hunter of Virginia, and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John A. Campbell. The terms of resolution by the United States were for unconditional submission. The Confederate commissioners reported back to President Jefferson Davis, effectively ending the only real effort at peace that was made before surrender occurred months later at a heavier price in dollars and men.

Maryland, New York and West Virginia ratified the 13th Amendment, bringing the total number of states to six.        

Saturday February 4, 1865

President Abraham Lincoln returned from the unsuccessful Hampton Roads conference and reported to the Cabinet. He again told Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant through Secretary of War Edwin Stanton that nothing should cause any change or delay of Grant’s military operations.

Skirmishing occurred at Angley’s Post Office and Buford’s Bridge in South Carolina.

Federal Major General John Pope assumed command of the Military Division of the Missouri.

Discouraged by Federal advances in South Carolina, Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to General P.G.T. Beauregard at Augusta, Georgia that things were worse than he expected and that Beauregard should take overall command in Georgia and concentrate as many troops as possible.

Sunday February 5, 1865

    Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant ordered the Second and Fifth Corps, along with cavalry, towards the Boydton Plank Road and Hatcher’s Run in an attempt to extend the Federal lines south and west of Petersburg, Virginia, in order to weaken the already strained defensive positions of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  The Confederates moved troops into the vicinity but could only do little against the stronger Federal infantry and cavalry units at Hatcher’s Run.

In South Carolina, skirmishing occurred at Duncanville and Combahee Ferry, as Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s four corps continued to cross the various streams and swamps of the southern part of the state.

In other areas, skirmishing occurred at Charles Town, West Virginia; Braddock’s Farm near Welaka, Florida; and McMinnville, Tennessee.

Monday February 6, 1865

Confederate President Jefferson Davis named Major General John C. Breckinridge as Confederate Secretary of War, replacing James A. Seddon. The Senate approved the appointment on the same day.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee received his orders to assume the duties as General-in-Chief of the Armies, as provided for by the Act of the Confederate Congress and approved by Davis. While important posts, these two appointments came too late in the war to have much of a  bearing on its outcome.

On the Petersburg, Virginia front, fighting at Hatcher’s Run increased. Confederate Brigadier General John Pegram, commanding a Confederate division, was killed while trying to halt the Federal advance.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s troops fought against Confederates trying to delay the advance at Fishburn’s Plantation near Lane’s Bridge on the Little Salkehatchie River, at Cowpen Ford, and at Barnwell, South Carolina.

Tuesday February 7, 1865

Two more states ratified the 13th Amendment, bringing the total to eight. Delaware voted on the measure but it failed to receive the necessary votes.

The fighting at Hatcher’s Run, Virginia ended with Federals abandoning the Boydton Plank Road but fortifying their new lines to Hatcher’s Run at the Vaughan Road Crossing, three miles below Burgess’s Mill. The 46,000-strong Confederate army now had to defend over 37 miles of Richmond-Petersburg lines. This was the last major Federal move to extend the lines prior to the final push in late March and early April. It came at a cost of 170 killed, 1160 wounded and 182 missing for an aggregate Federal loss of 1,512. Confederate casualties are unknown out of approximately 14,000 engaged.

In South Carolina, Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army continued their march against light Confederate resistance. The geographical obstacles like the swamps and rivers proved to be more resistance than the Confederate army, though skirmishing took place at Blackville and at the Edisto River Bridge.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of February 1-7, 1865 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Participated the Battle of Hatcher’s Run and were in the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia until April 2, 1865.      

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march through the Carolinas until March 11, 1865.

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

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march through the Carolinas until March 3, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in New Orleans, Louisiana until March 7, 1865.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in New Orleans, Louisiana until March 5, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in New Orleans, Louisiana until March 17, 1865.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Washington, D.C. until February 21, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in New Orleans, Louisiana until March 17, 1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in New Orleans, Louisiana until March 17, 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 garrison duty at Chattanooga, Tennessee until September 27, 1865.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On the march through the Carolinas until March 3, 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 February 20, 1865. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the Siege of Petersburg until February 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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