This Week in the American Civil War: March 15-21, 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 March 15, 1865

From Fayetteville, North Carolina and the Cape Fear River, Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s troops moved out en masse with Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick’s cavalry in front. The cavalry clashed with Confederate rear guards near Smith’s Mills on the Black River and at South River.

Federal Major General Phil Sheridan moved on in Virginia and was at Hanover Court House near Ashland.

Skirmishing occurred at Boyd’s Station and Stevenson’s Gap, Alabama.

Thursday March 16, 1865

BATTLE FOR AVERASBOROUGH, NORTH CAROLINA

Four miles south of Averasborough, North Carolina, the advancing columns of Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s force attacked Confederate General William J. Hardee’s blocking force. By late afternoon, Hardee was told of Federals crossing the Black River and was instructed to turn his left flank even further. Hardee gave up his position during the night and marched towards Smithfield. Federal losses amounted to 95 killed and 533 wounded with 54 missing for 682 total, while the aggregate Confederate loss is numbered at 865. Even though it was not a major battle, Averasborough showed that the Confederates were actively putting up resistance to Federal movements in North Carolina.

Friday March 17, 1865

Skirmishing occurred at Falling Creek, North Carolina following the previous day’s battle at Averasborough.

Federal Major General E.R.S. Canby began maneuvering his 32,000 troops against Mobile, Alabama. One Federal force moved from Pensacola, Florida and another from the area of Mobile Point up the east side of Mobile Bay. About 2,800 Confederates under Brigadier General R.L. Gibson defended the city.

In Washington, D.C., President Abraham Lincoln directed that all people detected in the sale of arms and ammunition to the Indians should be arrested and tried by military court-martial.      

Saturday March 18, 1865

CONFEDERATE CONGRESS ADJOURNS FOR FINAL TIME

The Confederate Congress ended its session in a fit of contention with President Jefferson Davis. Many essential war measures were left unpassed and for the last few days its main business was to argue with Davis whether he or Congress had delayed action and was responsible for some of the difficulties facing the Confederacy. It was symptomatic of the need to blame someone for the nearly obvious disaster.

Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston was attempting to concentrate his forces against the Federals, who were advancing towards Goldsborough, North Carolina. The Confederates had approximately 20,000 troops versus 30,000 Federal forces that were just south of Bentonville.

Skirmishing occurred along Mingo Creek, Bush Swamp and near Benton’s Cross Roads, North Carolina; Livingston, Tennessee; near Dranesville, Virginia and on the Amite River in Louisiana.

At Mobile Bay, approximately 1,700 Federal troops marched from Dauphin Island on the west side of the bay to deceive the Confederate defenders as to which side would be attacked.

Sunday March 19, 1865

    BATTLE OF BENTONVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

Federal Major General William T. Sherman did not expect an attack when the Federals resumed their march and ran into waiting Confederates near Bentonville, North Carolina. At first they did not seem to be a serious obstacle, but by afternoon they were being pressed. At first the Confederates crashed through the Federal breastworks, partially demoralizing one section of the Federal force and routing the left flank. However, other Federal units came in to stem the advance. The battle lasted until after dark when the three main Confederate assaults were beaten off. Late that night, the Confederates pulled back to their starting points and both sides spent the night preparing their positions.

Federal Major General Phil Sheridan’s cavalry made it to White House on the Pamunkey River in Virginia after wrecking the Virginia Central Railroad and the James River Canal in its successful march from Winchester to join Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant’s army near Petersburg.

1st U.S. Sharpshooters Company I members mustered out of Federal service. Those with time remaining were transferred to the 1st Battalion of Minnesota Infantry.

Skirmishing at Celina, Tennessee; Welaka and Saunders, Florida rounded out the day.

Monday March 20, 1865

Federal reinforcements arrived at daybreak at Bentonville, North Carolina. There was no heavy fighting in the area though considerable amounts of skirmishing did occur.

The Federal column operating with the main attack on Mobile moved towards that city from Pensacola, Florida.

Skirmishing occurred near Falling Creek, North Carolina; Ringgold, Georgia; and at Talbot’s Ferry, Arkansas.

Tuesday March 21, 1865

BATTLE OF BENTONVILLE CONCLUDES

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s troops kept up the pressure on Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s forces at Bentonville, North Carolina. The men of Major General J.A. Mower moved from the far Federal right around the Confederate left flank late in the afternoon and threatened the Mill Creek Bridge on Johnston’s retreat line. Counterattacks halted the menace after considerable fighting, which ended the Battle of Bentonville, the last significant Confederate effort to halt Sherman’s advance. During the night, Johnston ordered evacuation after reports that Federal Major General John Schofield had taken Goldsborough. Casualties for the Federals totaled more than 1,500 while Confederates sustained more than 2,600 losses, many of whom were captured.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of March 15-21, 1865 

Active units:

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

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina on March 20-21, 1865.

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

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina on March 20-21, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until March 26, 1865.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until March 26, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until March 26, 1865.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – En route to Kinston and Goldsborough, North Carolina until March 21, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until April 9,1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Campaign against Mobile, Alabama and its defenses until April 9,1865.

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 – Participated in the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina on March 20-21, 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.

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. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Transferred to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry on February 20, 1865 at Petersburg, Virginia for duration of service.  

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I Mustered out of Federal Service on March 19, 1865.

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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