This Week in the American Civil War: April 12-18, 1865

MN150Logo_OL_FNLInformation courtesy of the

Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

( and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)


Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday April 12, 1865


The final major city of the Confederacy fell as Federal troops under Major General Edward R.S. Canby entered Mobile, Alabama, following the previous night’s Confederate evacuation. The capture of the city came too late to have an impact on the war. The defenses of Mobile had been strong but the Confederates were unable to man them in view of their slim numbers and the Federal’s overpowering strength. Federal losses numbered 232 killed, 1,303 wounded and 43 missing for 1,578 total casualties in the operations against Mobile.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army was nearing Raleigh, North Carolina in its renewed advance against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, with actions near Raleigh and at Swift Creek.

A ceremony took place at Appomattox Court House. Federal troops formed along the principal street to await the formal laying down of battle flags and arms by the Confederates. As the bugle sounded, the Federal line shifted to the marching salute of carry arms. Confederate Major General John Brown Gordon saw the salute, whirled on his horse, dropped the point of his sword to the boot toe and ordered carry arms as “honor answering honor.” The battle-worn colors of the various regiments were then folded and laid down until only the Federal colors were against the sky.

At Greensborough, North Carolina, Confederate President Jefferson Davis met with Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard along with his Cabinet. The generals felt it was not possible for the army in North Carolina to resist Sherman’s advance. Johnston recommended negotiations, but Davis felt that further negotiations would be futile, that Sherman would only accept surrender. However, the general was empowered to meet with Sherman.

President Abraham Lincoln was in Washington greatly concerned about his plans for reconstruction of the South.

Thursday April 13, 1865

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army entered Raleigh, North Carolina, in heavy rain and after skirmishing Confederates near Raleigh and Morrisville. They were heading towards Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s main army and the temporary Confederate capital at Greensborough.  Johnston left Greensborough to rejoin his army at Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ordered that the draft be halted and curtailed purchases of war material. The number of officers was reduced and many military restrictions were removed as the first steps in the demobilization process.

President Abraham Lincoln conferred with Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, Stanton, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and others.

Friday April 14, 1865


At Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, distinguished Federal officers and dignitaries gathered, bands played, and guns thundered from the U.S. Navy in salute. In late morning at Fort Sumter, a flag-raising program began as Major General Robert Anderson, who had lowered the same flag four years earlier, seized the halyards and hoisted the Stars and Stripes once more above the fort that was the very symbol of that war. Henry Ward Beecher gave the oration. It was an occasion of solemn joy ending with fireworks from the fleet at night.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army moved ahead in the rain from Raleigh to Durham Station, North Carolina.

It was a busy day for President Abraham Lincoln who met with the Cabinet earlier in the day to discuss the problems of reconstruction including the treatment of Confederate leadership. The president received numerous callers throughout the day up until 8:30 p.m. when he and Mrs. Lincoln departed for Ford’s Theater to see the comedy, Our American Cousin. Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant had turned down an invitation to attend, making the plea that he needed to see his children.

The 1,700 patrons at the theater stopped the play and cheered for the president and his party, as they entered the box over the stage. The crowd settled down and the play resumed. Shortly before 10:30 p.m. as actor Harry Hawk delivered the line: “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal; you sockdologizing old man-trap!” Hysterical laughter permeated throughout the filled theater. Lincoln was laughing at this line when he was shot in the back of the head by actor John Wilkes Booth.

Dr. Charles Leale, a young army surgeon on liberty for the night, made his way through the crowd and was the first medical professional to attend to the president. Lincoln, unconscious, was carried across the street to the boarding house of William Peterson and was placed in a rear bedroom. Reports were received that other attacks by conspirators, against Secretary of State William H. Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson, had occurred but failed. Meanwhile, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ran the affairs of the U.S. government from the Peterson House while attending to President Lincoln.

Saturday April 15, 1865


At 7:22 a.m. President Abraham Lincoln was declared dead. The Cabinet, except for the injured Secretary of State William H. Seward, formally requested Vice President Andrew Johnson to assume the office of President. At 11 a.m. at the Kirkwood Hotel, Chief Justice of the United States Salmon P. Chase administered the oath of office in the presence of the Cabinet and several members of Congress. Johnson asked the Cabinet to remain with him. Much of the nation wept openly as the news went out.

John Wilkes Booth and David Herold, one of Booth’s accomplishes, escaped to the southeast of Washington and stopped at the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, where Booth’s broken leg was treated.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis, having authorized negotiations by General Joseph E. Johnston, now left Greensborough, North Carolina, with a cavalry escort. Some officials were on horseback and some in carriages or wagons.

Sunday April 16, 1865

     The North was deep in mourning while the South felt great dismay as news of Lincoln’s assassination spread. Federal troops pursued Booth and Herold in Maryland. Early in the morning the two fugitives arrived at the Rich Hill home of Samuel Cox, after a harrowing trip through swamps and over meager trails.

In Washington Mrs. Lincoln was prostrate with grief and President Andrew Johnson was gathering up the reins of his new office. Radical Republicans were hopeful that the new President would be more amenable to their policies, which included treating the Southern states as conquered territory.

In North Carolina, plans were set for a meeting of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal Major General William T. Sherman, though skirmishing occurred at Crawford, Girard and Opelika, Alabama.

The entourage of carriages and horses of the fleeing Confederate government arrived in Lexington, North Carolina, but would have to continue on rapidly in light of the approaching Johnston-Sherman negotiations.

Monday April 17, 1865

Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal Major General William T. Sherman met at the Bennett House near Durham Station, North Carolina. A short time before, Sherman had received the news of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Johnston told Sherman that it was a great calamity in the South. Their talks did not just include the surrender of Johnston’s army but terms for an armistice for all the remaining Confederate armies. They agreed to follow up their meeting the next day.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet were now in Salisbury, North Carolina, en route to Charlotte.

In Maryland, John Wilkes Booth and David Herold were hiding in a cluster of trees while attempting to obtain transportation across the Potomac River in the area of Port Tobacco, Maryland.

That evening, the body of President Abraham Lincoln was taken from the guest chamber of the White House to the East Room, where it lay in state until the funeral two days later.

Tuesday April 18, 1865


After more talk near Durham Station, North Carolina, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal Major General William T. Sherman signed a “Memorandum or basis of agreement” which called for an armistice by all armies in the field; Confederate forces to be disbanded and to deposit their arms in the state arsenals; each man was to agree to cease from war and to abide by state and Federal authority; the President of the United States was to recognize the existing state governments when their officials took oaths to the United States; reestablishment of Federal courts would take place; people were to be guaranteed rights of person and property; the United States would not disturb the people of the South as long as they lived in peace; and a general amnesty for Confederates. The generals recognized that they were not fully empowered to carry out such far-reaching measures and that the necessary authority must be obtained. However, it was clear that Sherman was going far beyond what Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant did at Appomattox by actually entering into reconstruction policy. He sent the terms to Grant and Major General Henry Halleck, asking for approval by President Andrew Johnson. Sherman also offered to take charge of carrying out these terms.

Despite the agreement, skirmishes still broke out near Germantown, Tennessee; and at Taylorsville, Kentucky.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his Cabinet slowly moved southward to Concord, North Carolina.

The body of President Abraham Lincoln lay in state in the crepe-decorated East Room of the White House.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of April 12-18, 1865 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – On duty at Appomattox Court House until May 2, 1865.       

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 1865.

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

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 1865.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 1865.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 1865.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march to Montgomery, Alabama until April 25, 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 Raleigh, North Carolina campaign until April 14, 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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