This Week in the American Civil War: March 22-28, 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 22, 1865

Another Federal offensive began as Major General James Harrison Wilson’s forces struck from the Tennessee River towards Selma, Alabama, one of the few centers left to the South. The raid was to be in conjunction with the Federal attack on Mobile to the south of Selma.

Fighting flared at Mill Creek, Hannah’s Creek and Black Creek, North Carolina; Patterson’s Creek Station, West Virginia; Celina, Tennessee; and Stephenson’s Mills, Missouri.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman issued orders for his army to concentrate in the area of Goldsborough, North Carolina.

Thursday March 23, 1865

Federal Major Generals William T. Sherman and John Schofield joined forces at Goldsborough, North Carolina. Now approximately 100,000 Federals dominated the state. Work began to immediately equip the armies after the long marches.

Even though the campaign in North Carolina was essentially over, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston positioned his forces on the two roads that he believed that Sherman would take towards Virginia, either through Raleigh or through Weldon. This position also made junction with the Army of Northern Virginia practical should General Robert E. Lee withdraw from Petersburg.

President Abraham Lincoln left Washington, D.C. for City Point, Virginia and Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant’s headquarters, accompanied by Mrs. Lincoln and their son, Tad. It was to be a combination vacation and conference with Grant concerning end-of-war measures.

Friday March 24, 1865

Confederate Major General John Brown Gordon had been assigned to lead an attack the next day at Fort Stedman on the Federal right at Petersburg, Virginia. If the siege line could be broken here, the indispensable supply line to City Point could be cut. A successful assault here would help General Robert E. Lee in his possible retreat from Richmond.

Skirmishing occurred near Moccasin Creek, North Carolina; near Dannelly’s Mills and Evergreen, Alabama; and at Rolla, Missouri.

The vessel containing President Abraham Lincoln and his party arrived at Fort Monroe, Virginia.

Saturday March 25, 1865

BATTLE OF FORT STEDMAN

Southerners claiming to be deserters arrived at the Federal lines near Fort Stedman at 3 a.m. on the east side of the Petersburg, Virginia siege fortifications. However, they were advance men aiming at sabotage when, an hour later, Confederate Major General John B. Gordon launched his attack at Fort Stedman and surrounding entrenchments. The Confederates quickly overwhelmed the opposition and rushed into the fort, completely surprising the Federal garrison. Several batteries and other trenches were taken until nearly a mile of Federal lines was in Southern hands. Like other Confederate late-war attacks, it lost momentum which allowed Federal troops to rally, change position and push the attackers back to Fort Stedman. By 7:30 a.m., a Federal division assaulted the fort, forcing Gordon to withdraw. Fifteen minutes later, the entire attack was defeated and the Federal lines were restored. Confederates lost approximately 4,000 troops to the Federal casualties that numbered around 1,500.

Federal troops neared Spanish Fort and the fortifications of Mobile, Alabama after a trying march because of drenching rains. Confederate Brigadier General R.L. Gibson tried to organize his 2,800 men to oppose the Federal force that numbered 32,000 men. Despite strong earthworks around the city, it was impossible for the South to hold out without assistance.

President Abraham Lincoln visited Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant at City Point, Virginia, and then took the military railroad to the Petersburg lines where he rode horseback over part of the Fort Stedman battlefield, the site of the morning engagement.

Sunday March 26, 1865

    The cavalry command of Federal Major General Phil Sheridan crossed the James River and headed towards Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant’s lines at Petersburg, Virginia, which would give Grant an even larger force and thin out Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s already numerically inadequate defenders. Lee was preparing to give up Petersburg and Richmond and pull back westward to attempt a reunion with General Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina.

On the Mobile, Alabama front, skirmishing erupted as Federal troops pushed in nearer to Spanish Fort. Other skirmishing occurred at Muddy Creek, Alabama.

President Abraham Lincoln reviewed troops and watched Major General Phil Sheridan’s men cross the James River while on his visit to the main fighting front at Petersburg. Grant and Sheridan conferred, and prepared instructions for the beginning of the forthcoming campaign.

Monday March 27, 1865

Aboard the steamer River Queen at City Point, Virginia, President Abraham Lincoln, Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, Major General William T. Sherman and Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter conferred about the state of the respective campaigns. The first day’s talk, largely social, included an account of Sherman’s campaign, since Sherman came up from Goldsborough, North Carolina where his army was located.

Tuesday March 28, 1865

President Abraham Lincoln, Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, Major General William T. Sherman and Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter continued their discussions aboard the steamer River Queen off of City Point, Virginia. The generals detailed their plans and pointed out that one more major campaign would be needed to force an end to the war.

Shifting of troops by the Federals at Petersburg marked the preparations for a forthcoming move, which Confederate General Robert E. Lee noted in a letter to his daughter. Lee wrote, “Genl Grant is evidently preparing for something & is marshaling & preparing his troops from some movement, which is not yet disclosed…”

Skirmishing occurred near Snow Hill and Boone, North Carolina; Elyton, Alabama; and at Germantown, Tennessee.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of March 22-28, 1865 

Active units:

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

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

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

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in the Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, Alabama until April 8, 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 duty at Goldsborough, North Carolina until April 10, 1865.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty in Philadelphia, Tennessee until July 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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