This Week in the American Civil War: May 18-24, 1864

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 May 18, 1864

The days of comparative quiet around Spotsylvania, Virginia ended when two Federal corps led a dawn assault on Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s left flank, dug in new entrenchments. The Federals charged several times without success. Major General George G. Meade, Army of the Potomac commander, ordered the drive abandoned. After further shifts by the Federals to probe the lines, Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant decided that the enemy was too strong to be defeated in his present position, and once more started moving to his own left to attempt to get around Lee’s right flank.

Fighting occurred at Fosters’s Plantation and near City Point (present day Hopewell), Virginia as Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard fended off attacks by Major General Benjamin Butler’s Army of the James from their base of operations at Bermuda Hundred landing.

In Alabama, skirmishing broke out at Fletcher’s Ferry and in Pike County, Kentucky along the Wolf River.

Thursday May 19, 1864

For perhaps the first time since the war began, politics and the war was eclipsed by one singular event outside of those topics – the sixty-year-old classic American writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, died in his sleep in Plymouth, New Hampshire.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordered his left line at Spotsylvania, Virginia, to make a demonstration to determine whether Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant was moving to the Confederate right. Severe fighting around Spotsylvania erupted proved that Lee was correct. The action continued until late in the evening when the Confederates pulled back. Grant was now swinging to the south and east towards the Po River.

During the series of battles around Spotsylvania Court House, Federal casualties are estimated at 17,500 out of 110,000 men engaged. The Confederates put approximately 50,000 into action but total losses are not reliably recorded.

From his position near Cassville, Georgia, General Joseph E. Johnston ordered an attack on the separated units of Major General William T. Sherman’s Federal army. By the evening, however, after Johnston was forced to take up a defensive position and two of his three corps commanders felt that the position could not be held, the general reluctantly decided to retreat through Cartersville to the Etowah River.

Friday May 20, 1864

Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston continued to cross the Etowah River and made a strong defensive position at Allatoona Pass, Georgia, with Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s forces in pursuit.

In Virginia, Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant gave Army of the Potomac commander, Major General George G. Meade, orders to move by its left and cross the Mattapony River. Major General Winfield Scott Hancock’s Second Corps led the way, heading to Guiney’s Station. However, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia prepared to pull his army out to the south to block Grant’s movement once more.

President Abraham Lincoln ordered that no person engaged in trade in accordance with the treasury regulations should be hindered or delayed by the Army or Navy. It was part of the continuing difficulties regarding trade in occupied territory or with the enemy. 

Saturday May 21, 1864

Fighting broke out at Guiney’s Station and at Stanard’s Mill, Virginia, as Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant shifted his army east and south and away from Spotsylvania Court House.

Federal Major General David Hunter replaced Major General Franz Sigel in the Department of West Virginia, following Sigel’s lackluster performance in the Shenandoah Valley area.

In Georgia, Federal Major General William T. Sherman regrouped his forces, took the day to repair bridges and giving his troops a brief rest in the Cassville-Kingston-Cartersville area, while Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston dug in around Allatoona Pass.

Sunday May 22, 1864

    Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant’s Army of the Potomac was moving south from Guiney’s Station, Virginia, towards the North Anna River. Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was moving south a few miles to the west. In the morning, two Confederate corps beat Grant into position at Hanover Junction.

Major General William T. Sherman was ready to move his Federal army again and by the evening, the cavalry engaged Confederates at Cassville, Georgia. Meanwhile, Sherman issued orders for the bulk of his army to by-pass the Allatoona area and head towards Dallas, Georgia.

U.S.S. Stingaree was taken by Confederates off the coast near Brazos, Texas, but was then recaptured by the Federals.

Monday May 23, 1864

Late in the afternoon, Federal Major General Gouverneur K. Warren’s Fifth Corps crossed the North Anna River and was hit by Confederate Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill’s corps near Jericho Mills, Virginia around 6 p.m. With the Army of the Potomac split between the two banks of the river, Confederate General Robert E. Lee had an opportunity to attack the divided army but failed to take advantage of the opportunity, partially because of his own illness, to go along with other factors.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s entire army headed towards Dallas, Georgia from the Cassville area in an attempt to turn Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s left flank. Only minor action was recorded at Stilesborough.

In Florida, Confederates captured the U.S.S. Columbine.

Tuesday May 24, 1864

Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant continued to move the Army of the Potomac, now divided into three parts, across the North Anna River in Virginia. A brief fight broke out at Ox Ford, but Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s troops held the strong position.

Major General William T. Sherman pressed on from the Etowah River toward Dallas, Georgia. Fighting broke out at Cass Station, Cassville, Burnt Hickory and near Dallas. Much of the action involved Confederate cavalry raids upon the Federal wagons in Sherman’s rear. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, at Allatoona, realized Sherman’s intent and ordered his army to move towards Dallas via New Hope, to try to get in front of Sherman once again. Sherman, now quite a ways from his vital railroad supply line, was closer than ever to Atlanta. Meanwhile, Johnston’s communication lines were also contracting, making it a perilous situation for both armies.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of May 18-24, 1864 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Created from the remnants of the old 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry, under Colonel Mark W. Downie, left Fort Snelling for Washington, D.C. on May 16. They arrived in Washington on May 30, 1864. 

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Guarded trains in the Cassville, Georgia area during Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Pine Bluff, Arkansas until October 10, 1864.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Huntsville, Alabama until June 22, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Vicksburg, Mississippi until June 4, 1864.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at various Minnesota outposts for garrison duty until June 9, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Paducah, Kentucky until June 19, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Left the various Minnesota outposts and concentrated at Paynesville, Minnesota on May 24, 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Left their outposts at Rolla, Jefferson City, LaMine Bridge, Warrensburg, Independence, Knob Noster, Kansas City, Waynesville and Franklin, Missouri and consolidated at St. Louis, remaining there until May 29, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Companies E and D were on duty at Island No. 10 until June 15, 1864. The remaining companies were on duty around Columbus, Kentucky until June 19, 1864.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Fort Snelling and at frontier posts throughout Minnesota until May 24, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry –On duty at Sioux City, Iowa until June 4, 1864.

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 Light Artillery Battery – Moved to Rome, Georgia via Clifton, Tenn.; Huntsville and Decatur, Ala.; and Big Shanty, Ga. arriving on June 9, 1864 to join the Atlanta Campaign.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Veterans were on furlough through June 5, 1864. Non-veterans attached to Battery I, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where they escorted cattle and horses to the army in the field until July 14, 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections of the battery were stationed at Fort Snelling, Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Pembina until June 5, 1864.

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I- Now detached from the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, in camp at Stevensburg, Virginia awaiting the arrival of the 1st Battalion of Minnesota Infantry at the end of May 1864. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the assaults at Harris Farm, Fredericksburg Road and the North Anna Crossing during Grant’s Overland Campaign.

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. 

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This Week in the American Civil War: May 11-17, 1864

Information courtesy of the

MN150Logo_OL_FNLMinnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force

(www.mncivilwar150.com and “Minnesota Civil War 150” on Facebook)

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday May 11, 1864

BATTLE OF YELLOW TAVERN

Six miles north of Richmond at a place called Yellow Tavern, Confederate Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart and his cavalry faced Federal Major General Philip Sheridan’s cavalry force. In a sharp, helter-skelter encounter, Stuart fell from his horse and was mortally wounded. Sheridan’s men drove back Stuart’s troops but the engagement gave the Confederates time to strengthen the defenses of Richmond.

Only a light reconnaissance by Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant by men of Major General Ambrose Burnside’s corps marked the progress in the Wilderness. However, Grant learned about a bulge in the Confederate center and was determined to attack it.

At the Louisiana Constitutional Convention in New Orleans, the reconstructed Federal-leaning state government adopted an ordinance of emancipation without compensation.

Thursday May 12, 1864

J.E.B. STUART DIES

One day after falling wounded at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, Confederate Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart died of his wounds. He passed away one year and two days after the loss of iconic Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.

A fierce day of fighting at Spotsylvania reopened at 4:30 a.m. straight at the salient of the Confederate lines, by Major General Winfield Scott Hancock’s Second Corps. Approximately four thousand prisoners, including two generals, artillery, small arms and stands of colors were taken from Confederate Lieutenant General Richard Ewell’s corps. All told, 24 Federal brigades attacked only a few hundred yards of entrenchments. For the most part, the main Confederate line held, but eventually they were withdrawn to a new line as their salient was eliminated. It was one of the bloodiest days of the war. Federal casualties are estimated at 6,800 while the Confederates are believed to have lost around 5,000 men in dead and wounded.

In Georgia, Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army, except for one corps, had passed through Snake Creek Gap and was near Resaca by day’s end.

Friday May 13, 1864

Around Resaca, Georgia, Lieutenant General Joseph E. Johnston took up new positions, joined by Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk’s reinforcements, and faced the advance of Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army. Fighting broke out at Tilton, Resaca and near Dalton during the course of the realignment.

In Virginia, Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, having failed to break Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s line at Spotsylvania, continued to move to the south and east. Federal Major General Philip Sheridan’s cavalry left the Richmond area and headed for the James River at Haxall’s Landing.

At Drewry’s Bluff, Federal Major General Benjamin Butler’s troops were struggling to get into position for an attack, thereby giving General P.G.T. Beauregard’s Confederates enough time to arrange their thin line of defenders.

On the Red River, the Federal gunboats and Federal Major General Nathaniel P. Banks’s infantry continued their retreat. The Federal Spring operation across the Mississippi River had been a total failure. 

Saturday May 14, 1864

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s troops still intended to assault Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s lines at Resaca, Georgia, but delays and extensive deployments held down the attack.

In Virginia, Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant continued to shift his troops to the left, as both armies sought to recover from the pounding they had each received at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania. The hard march and heavy rain caused the Federal attack to be called off.

Sunday May 15, 1864

    BATTLE OF NEW MARKET

    Threatened in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley from the north by Federal Major General Franz Sigel’s advance, Confederate Major General John C. Breckinridge had gathered everybody he could find, including 247 students from the Virginia Military Academy. The Federal line was across the Valley Pike and towards the north fork of the Shenandoah River. Breckinridge attacked and drove Sigel back by late morning before retreating to Strasburg. The Federal’s suffered 93 killed, 482 wounded and 256 missing for 831 casualties out of 5,500 troops engaged. The Confederates lost 42 killed, 522 wounded and 13 missing for 577 out of approximately 5,000. Of the VMI cadets, 10 were killed and 47 wounded. The courage of the cadets at the Battle of New Market made them a legend, even though they were a small part of the victorious Confederate force.

In front of Resaca, Georgia, fighting broke out between Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood’s corps and Federal Major General Joseph Hooker’s corps. Fighting raged all along the line and at Lay’s Ferry on the Oostenaula River, south of Resaca. Realizing that his forces were in danger of being flanked, Lieutenant General Joseph E. Johnston withdrew from Resaca during the night.

The only fighting in the Spotsylvania, Virginia area of operations was a skirmish at Branch Church.

Monday May 16, 1864

BATTLE OF DREWRY’S BLUFF

At Drewry’s Bluff and the Fort Darling area on the James River, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard’s ten brigades attacked in the dense fog of early morning. The Federal right under Major General William French Smith was badly hurt, but Union troops held the center. Heavy fighting on the Federal army under Major General Quincy A. Gillmore was indecisive, but Smith and Major General Benjamin Butler through that they had to withdraw the Union forces due to the danger on the right. Ineptness in top Union command was never more evident than in this campaign. Drewry’s Bluff or Fort Darling could have been disastrous. Over 16,000 Federals faced 18,000 Confederates. There were 390 Union soldiers killed, 2,380 wounded and 1,390 missing for a total of 4,160 lost. Confederates had 355 killed, 1,941 wounded and 210 missing for an aggregate loss of 2,506.

Tuesday May 17, 1864

In Georgia, skirmishing broke out at Adairsville and Rome while the lines continued to shift towards Atlanta.

The Spotsylvania area of Virginia remained relatively quiet, except for the shifting of certain positions, while Federal Major General Benjamin Butler’s Army of the James withdrew completely from the Drewry’s Bluff area. Butler’s army was around Bermuda Hundred, again prevented from threatening Petersburg by geography, Beauregard’s army, and his own ineffectiveness.

The United States Congress passed measures that set up the postal money order system.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of May 11-17, 1864 

Active units:

1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Created from the remnants of the old 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry, under Colonel Mark W. Downie, left Fort Snelling for Washington, D.C. on May 16. They arrived in Washington on May 30, 1864. 

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Battle of Resaca as part of Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Pine Bluff, Arkansas until October 10, 1864.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Huntsville, Alabama until June 22, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Mansura, Louisiana until May 18, 1864.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at various Minnesota outposts for garrison duty until June 9, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Paducah, Kentucky until June 19, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On frontier duty at various points in Minnesota: Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Center, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie until May 24, 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Left their outposts at Rolla, Jefferson City, LaMine Bridge, Warrensburg, Independence, Knob Noster, Kansas City, Waynesville and Franklin, Missouri and consolidated at St. Louis, remaining there until May 29, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Companies E and D were on duty at Island No. 10 until June 15, 1864. The remaining companies were on duty around Columbus, Kentucky until June 19, 1864.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Fort Snelling and at frontier posts throughout Minnesota until May 24, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Left Fort Snelling May 2 and was on duty at Sioux City, Iowa until June 4, 1864.

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 Light Artillery Battery – Moved to Rome, Georgia via Clifton, Tenn.; untsvilleHuntsville and Decatur, Ala.; and Big Shanty, Ga. arriving on June 9, 1864 to join the Atlanta Campaign.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Veterans were on furlough through June 5, 1864. Non-veterans attached to Battery I, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where they escorted cattle and horses to the army in the field until July 14, 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections of the battery were stationed at Fort Snelling, Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Pembina until June 5, 1864.

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I- Now detached from the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, in camp at Stevensburg, Virginia awaiting the arrival of the 1st Battalion of Minnesota Infantry at the end of May 1864. 

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the assault at the Confederate salient during Grant’s Overland Campaign.

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.

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This Week in the American Civil War: May 4-10, 1864

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 May 4, 1864

Soon after midnight, the Federal Army of the Potomac moved out from its position north of the Rapidan River in Virginia to start upon the memorable Overland Campaign. It was the beginning of the big Federal push in Virginia that culminated in the siege of Petersburg and finally to the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s forces at Appomattox Courthouse eleven months later. By late in the day, Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant had 122,000 Federal troops present for duty, with the Second Corps, Fifth Corps and Sixth Corps across the river via Germanna and Culpeper Mine fords, with the Ninth Corps coming up. Grant moved quickly around Lee’s right flank where his troops were met by 66,000 Confederates rushed up from the Orange Court House-Gordonville area to meet them.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman prepared to put his 98,000-strong army into motion from the Chattanooga, Tennessee area towards Atlanta.

Thursday May 5, 1864

BATTLE OF THE WILDERNESS BEGINS

In Virginia’s wilderness, the Federal Fifth Corps faced the Confederate Second Corps on the Orange Turnpike. The first great battle of 1864 commenced. The Federal Sixth Corps joined in the effort but was driven back. By late morning, the two corps were in the throes of full-scale combat. In a separate afternoon engagement, the Federal Second Corps, under Major General Winfield Scott Hancock fought A.P. Hill’s Confederates who came in from the Orange Plank Road. Desperate but indecisive fighting proved to the Federals that the enemy opposed them in force and to the Confederates that they had to attack Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant’s full army. Both armies entrenched east of the Germanna Plank Road during the night.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis informed General Robert E. Lee of Federal Major General Benjamin F. Butler’s landings on the James River and it appeared that the two major drives were heading towards the capital in Richmond.

Friday May 6, 1864

BATTLE OF THE WILDERNESS CONTINUES

The entrenched armies of Grant and Lee awaited each other in the dawn of the Wilderness. On the Federal right along the Orange Turnpike, two Federal corps drove westward early in the morning, while Major General Winfield Scott Hancock’s Second Corps inched ahead on the Orange Plank Road. For most of the morning the firing rolled on with no great advantage by either side. Toward noon, Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s corps struck the Federal line on its left flank and rear. Hancock’s men reeled back and more Confederates drove in.

In late afternoon another Confederate attack by Longstreet’s men was halted at the Union breastworks while Major General Philip Sheridan’s Federal cavalry opposed Major General J.E.B. Stuart’s men near Todd’s Tavern. Towards sunset, Major General John B. Gordon’s brigade swept the Federal right flank, proceeding rapidly and successfully until darkness.

The casualties were staggering. Of 122,000 Federals engaged, 2,246 were killed; 12,037 wounded and 3,383 missing for a total of 17,666. The Confederates fared no better. They engaged 66,000 and lost approximately 7,500. 

Saturday May 7, 1864

SHERMAN BEGINS MARCH ON ATLANTA

In Virginia, the Army of the Potomac and Army of Northern Virginia paused in the Wilderness, but Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant had instructed Major General William T. Sherman to move against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and head into the interior of Georgia, who was soundly entrenched at Dalton. Sherman’s force of nearly 100,000 men was divided into three armies – Army of the Cumberland, Army of the Tennessee and the Army of the Ohio. To oppose the Federals were nearly 60,000 Confederates in their defensive positions.

At a concert by the U.S. Marine Corps band in Washington, D.C., President Abraham Lincoln declined to make a speech but instead proposed three cheers for Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant “and all the armies under his command.”

Sunday May 8, 1864

     SPOTSYLVANIA COURT HOUSE BEGINS

Throughout the night, men had marched in Virginia’s Wilderness. When Major General Gouverneur K. Warren’s Fifth Corps neared Spotsylvania Court House, in what he thought was Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s right flank, they found that Confederate Major General Richard Heron Anderson’s troops got there first. Fighting revealed the new line. Both sides received reinforcements and by late afternoon, the Federals assaulted the entrenched Confederate lines. The attack failed and during the night both sides established new lines.  The various fights of the day went by the names of Todd’s Tavern, Corbin’s Bridge, Alsop’s Farm and Laurel Hill. On the south side of the James River, Federal cavalry skirmished at Jarratt’s Station and at White’s Bridge.

Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s army in Georgia continued its movement with demonstrations against Rocky Face Ridge and fighting at Buzzard Roost and Dug Gap.

A disturbed President Abraham Lincoln awaited the news in Washington, D.C.

Monday May 9, 1864

No heavy fighting occurred at Spotsylvania Court House but there was plenty of skirmishing, sharpshooting and the continued reinforcement of the lines. In the morning, Federal Major General John Sedgwick was killed. Brigadier General Horatio G. Wright assumed command of the Sixth Corps as Sedgwick’s replacement. Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s forces were entrenched in the Wilderness in an irregular position somewhat resembling a horseshoe.

Federal troops in Georgia pressed hard against the Confederate positions near Dalton, Buzzard Roost and Rocky Face Gap, testing the Confederate defenses.

Federal Major General Benjamin F. Butler ordered his whole army out against the Richmond-Petersburg lines of communications south of the James River. The advance moved slowly despite little opposition. Fighting was recorded at Fort Clifton, Ware Bottom Church, Brander’s Bridge and Arrowfield Church. Then confusion set in. Butler ordered the army back to its original lines the next morning.

Tuesday May 10, 1864

BATTLE OF THE MULESHOE

Three corps from the Army of the Potomac attacked Confederate Major General Richard Heron Anderson’s corps northwest of Spotsylvania late in the afternoon and early evening. Assaulting the entrenched Confederates twice, the Federals were thrown back, even though some reached the parapets. At the salient in the center of the Confederate line, Emory Upton’s division of Brigadier General Horatio Wright’s corps struck at 6 p.m. and breached the Confederate lines, but were repelled when the position was reinforced. The first major day of the Spotsylvania battle ended in the repulse of repeated Union assaults after making small dents in the Confederate lines.

In Georgia, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston learned of Federal efforts to turn his left flank at Resaca and Snake Creek Gap. Demonstrations and skirmishes continued. Major General William T. Sherman now decided to swing his entire army by the right flank through Snake Creek Gap.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of May 4-10, 1864 

Active units:

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the battles at Tunnel Hill and Rocky Face Ridge as part of Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Pine Bluff, Arkansas until October 10, 1864.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Huntsville, Alabama until June 22, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Alexandria, Louisiana until May 13, 1864.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at various Minnesota outposts for garrison duty until June 9, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Paducah, Kentucky until June 19, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On frontier duty at various points in Minnesota: Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Center, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie until May 24, 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Stationed at Rolla, Jefferson City, LaMine Bridge, Warrensburg, Independence, Knob Noster, Kansas City, Waynesville and Franklin with headquarters in Jefferson City until May 15, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Companies E and D were on duty at Island No. 10 until June 15, 1864. The remaining companies were on duty around Columbus, Kentucky until June 19, 1864.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Fort Snelling and at frontier posts throughout Minnesota until May 24, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Left Fort Snelling May 2 and was on duty at Sioux City, Iowa until June 4, 1864.

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 Light Artillery Battery – Moved to Rome, Georgia via Clifton, Tenn.; untsvilleHuntsville and Decatur, Ala.; and Big Shanty, Ga. arriving on June 9, 1864 to join the Atlanta Campaign.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Veterans were on furlough through June 5, 1864. Non-veterans attached to Battery I, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where they escorted cattle and horses to the army in the field until July 14, 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections of the battery were stationed at Fort Snelling, Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Pembina until June 5, 1864.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the battles of the Wilderness, Laurel Hill, Po River and Spotsylvania Court House during Grant’s Overland Campaign.

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.

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This Week in the American Civil War: April 27 – May 3, 1864

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 April 27, 1864

Confederate President Jefferson Davis sent Jacob Thompson and C.C. Clay Jr., to Canada as special commissioners to see if Canada would assist in brokering a peace between the Confederate States of America and the United States government.

The Maryland Constitutional Convention met at Annapolis for their first session. The Convention would last until September 6th.

Skirmishing occurred at Decatur, Alabama; Taylor’s Ridge near Ringgold, Georgia; Troublesome Creek, Kentucky; Masonborough Inlet, North Carolina and Dayton, Missouri.

Thursday April 28, 1864

Fighting occurred at Princeton, Arkansas; Johnson County, Missouri; and at the Big Bend of the Eel River, California. A minor bombardment began at Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, in which the Federal launched 510 rounds against the fort over the next week.

Friday April 29, 1864

More skirmishing broke out on numerous fronts including Grand Ecore, Louisiana; Sni Hills, Missouri and in Berry County, Tennessee.

The U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution that raised all duties 50 percent for sixty days. The provision was later extended until July 1st. 

Saturday April 30, 1864

Joe Davis, the five-year-old son of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, fell off the high veranda of the Confederate White House in Richmond, Virginia, killing him.

Three blockade-runners escaped from Galveston, Texas, under the cover of night and rain.

Fighting occurred at Whitmore’s Mill and Jenkin’s Ferry, Arkansas; and at Decatur, Alabama as the month closed out.

Sunday May 1, 1864

     Confederates captured the U.S. transport Emma at David’s Ferry while skirmishing broke out at Clinton, Ashton and Berwick, all in Louisiana.

In Arkansas, skirmishes occurred at Pine Bluff and Lee’s Creek.

At Stone Church, Georgia, near Chattanooga, a skirmish occurred ahead of the increase in scouting, culminating in Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s move against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston.

Brigadier General John P. Hatch assumed command of the Federal Department of the South, relieving Major General Quincy A. Gillmore.

Monday May 2, 1864

Skirmishing continued along the Red River as Confederates harassed Federals at Wells’s Plantation, Wilson’s Landing and Bayou Pierre, Louisiana.

Other skirmishes occurred at Kneeland’s Prairie, California; Bolivar, Tennessee; Bee Creek, Missouri; and at Tunnel Hill and Ringgold Gap, Georgia, the outposts of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal Major General William T. Sherman.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis delivered an address before the first session of the Second Confederate Congress where he admitted that he saw no hope for foreign recognition, while remaining optimistic about military matters.

Tuesday May 3, 1864

Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant dispatched orders through Major General George G. Meade that the Army of the Potomac was to move across the Rapidan River in Virginia the next morning, march around the right flank of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and head towards Richmond once again.

The Federal column of Major General Frederick Steele arrived back in Little Rock, Arkansas concluding the Camden Expedition.

Along Chickamauga Creek, Catoosa Springs and at Red Clay, the Georgia Campaign became more lively as the skirmishing increased.

The Federal Cabinet and President Abraham Lincoln discussed the alleged atrocities committed by Confederates earlier in the month at Fort Pillow, Tennessee.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of April 27 – May 3, 1864 

Active units:

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Mustered out of Federal service on April 29, 1864.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On the march in the Ringgold Gap and Tunnel Hill area of Georgia as part of the Atlanta Campaign.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Pine Bluff, Arkansas until October 10, 1864.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Huntsville, Alabama until June 22, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Alexandria, Louisiana until May 13, 1864.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at various Minnesota outposts for garrison duty until June 9, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Paducah, Kentucky until June 19, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On frontier duty at various points in Minnesota: Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Center, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie until May 24, 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Stationed at Rolla, Jefferson City, LaMine Bridge, Warrensburg, Independence, Knob Noster, Kansas City, Waynesville and Franklin with headquarters in Jefferson City until May 15, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Companies E and D were on duty at Island No. 10 until June 15, 1864. The remaining companies were on duty around Columbus, Kentucky until June 19, 1864.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Fort Snelling and at frontier posts throughout Minnesota until May 24, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Left Fort Snelling May 2 and was on duty at Sioux City, Iowa until June 4, 1864.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D on frontier duty in Pembina until May 5, 1864.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – Moved to Rome, Georgia via Clifton, Tenn.; untsvilleHuntsville and Decatur, Ala.; and Big Shanty, Ga. arriving on June 9, 1864 to join the Atlanta Campaign.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Veterans were on furlough through June 5, 1864. Non-veterans attached to Battery I, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where they escorted cattle and horses to the army in the field until July 14, 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections of the battery were stationed at Fort Snelling, Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Pembina until June 5, 1864.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – On duty around the Rapidan River, Virginia until May 4, 1864.

Inactive units: 

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive. 

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This Week in the American Civil War: April 20-26, 1864

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 April 20, 1864

Confederate troops under Brigadier General R.F. Hoke, aided by the C.S.S. Albemarle, captured Plymouth, North Carolina. The federals lost about 2,800 men and a large quantity of supplies. It was the first major Confederate victory in the area for a long time and brought hope to the defenders of the Atlantic coast.

Major General Samuel Jones succeeded General P.G.T. Beauregard in command of the Confederate Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Beauregard moved to the heavily threatened post of southern Virginia and northern North Carolina.

President Abraham Lincoln ordered death sentences that were exacted by court-martial to be commuted to imprisonment on Dry Tortugas of Key West, Florida. The President also conferred with Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant, who was completing plans for a spring offensive in Virginia.

Thursday April 21, 1864

Federal Major General Nathaniel Banks harassed troops were in the process of withdrawing from Grand Ecore to Alexandria, Louisiana, as the Red River Campaign came to a close. Confederate troops pursued Banks with hit-and-run attacks but mounted no offensive.

President Abraham Lincoln conferred with governors from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, and also reviewed seventy-two court-martial cases.

Friday April 22, 1864

Confederate harassment on the Red River in Louisiana continued with attacks on transports and skirmishing near Cloutierville, Louisiana. Other fighting included a skirmish on Duck River, Tennessee and one at Cotton Plant, Arkansas.

The motto “In God We Trust” was first stamped upon coins under an act of the United States Congress. 

Saturday April 23, 1864

Confederates pressured the Federal column in Arkansas, plaguing the Camden Expedition at Camden and Swan Lake. In the Red River Campaign, a heavy engagement occurred at Monett’s Ferry, Louisiana. Fighting  elsewhere included skirmishes at Hunter’s Mill, Virginia; Independence, Missouri; and a Confederate attack at Nickajack Trace, Georgia.

Sunday April 24, 1864

     The “small war” continued with still more skirmishing near Camden, Arkansas; Decatur, Alabama; near Middletown, Virginia; and at Pineville, Louisiana.

Monday April 25, 1864

In Arkansas, the fighting continued with action at Marks’s Mills and in Moro Bottom. Troops skirmished at Cotile Landing, Louisiana on the Red River, as Federals began arriving at Alexandria in their retreat. Most of the gunboats were already near Alexandria.

Confederate Major General Robert Ransom was assigned to command the Department of Richmond, Virginia.

Tuesday April 26, 1864

Federal troops began to evacuate Washington, North Carolina, following the fall of Plymouth.

The rapidly falling water in the Red River trapped the Union gunboat fleet above the rapids. Those vessels still above Alexandria suffered considerable damage in a running engagement with onshore Confederates.

Major General Frederick Steele’s Federal column in Arkansas began its retreat from Camden after failing to join up with Major General Nathaniel P. Banks’s force on the Red River.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of April 20-26, 1864 

Active units:

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Fort Snelling prior to mustering out of Federal service on April 29, 1864.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Ringgold, Georgia until April 29, 1864.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Little Rock, Arkansas until April 28, 1864.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Huntsville, Alabama until June 22, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Alexandria, Louisiana until May 13, 1864.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at various Minnesota outposts for garrison duty until June 9, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Paducah, Kentucky until June 19, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On frontier duty at various points in Minnesota: Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Center, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie until May 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Stationed at Rolla, Jefferson City, LaMine Bridge, Warrensburg, Independence, Knob Noster, Kansas City, Waynesville and Franklin with headquarters in Jefferson City until May 15, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Moved to Columbus, Kentucky for duty until April 27, 1864.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Fort Snelling and at frontier posts throughout Minnesota until May 24, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Fort Snelling until May 1, 1864.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D on frontier duty in Pembina until May 5, 1864.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty in Cairo, Illinois until April 28, 1864.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Veterans were on furlough through June 5, 1864. Non-veterans attached to Battery I, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where they escorted cattle and horses to the army in the field until July 14, 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections of the battery were stationed at Fort Snelling, Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Pembina until June 5, 1864.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – On duty around the Rapidan River, Virginia until May 4, 1864.

Inactive units: 

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive.  

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This Week in the American Civil War: April 13-19, 1864

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 April 13, 1864

Admiral David Dixon Porter, with his Federal gunboats, reached Grand Ecore, Louisiana, on the Red River, despite the rapidly falling water level and continued enemy harassment. Major General Nathaniel P. Banks’s Federal retreat continued with no hope of renewing the campaign.

In Arkansas, skirmishing broke out at and near Richland Creek, and on the Spring River near Smithville.

Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s men skirmished again at Columbus, Kentucky, after yesterday’s Fort Pillow Massacre.

Thursday April 14, 1864

Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry continued operations in the Ohio River valley, skirmishing again at Paducah, Kentucky. Small Union gunboats help repulse the attack.

Skirmishing also occurred at Bayou Saline, Dutch Mills and White Oak Creek in Arkansas; Taylor’s Ridge, Georgia; and near Booneville, Kentucky.

In Washington, D.C., President Abraham Lincoln reviewed sixty-seven courts-martial cases and issued several pardons.

Friday April 15, 1864

On the Red River, the U.S.S. Eastport struck a torpedo or mine and was severely damaged.

At Knoxville, Tennessee, Governor Andrew Johnson vociferously supported emancipation at a large pro-Union meeting.

Skirmishing occurred near Camden and Roseville, Arkansas; near Presidio del Norte, New Mexico Territory; at Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Greeneville, Tennessee and at Bristoe Station and Milford, Virginia. 

Saturday April 16, 1864

A report on U.S. prisoners since the beginning of the war showed that the Federals had captured 146,634 Confederates.

The U.S. transport vessel General Hunter was destroyed by a torpedo in St. John’s River, Florida.

Skirmishing occurred at Camden and Liberty Post Office, Arkansas; on the Osage branch of King’s River in Arkansas; Rheatown, Tennessee; Salyersville, Kentucky and at Catlett’s Station, Virginia.

Sunday April 17, 1864

     Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant ordered that no further exchanges of prisoners should be made until the Confederates balanced Federal releases. He also pronounced that “no distinction whatever will be made in the exchange between white and colored prisoners.” The move injured the South, with its shortage of manpower, far more than the North, but Grant received criticism from both sides for his actions.

Confederate land forces, soon to be joined by the C.S.S. Albemarle, a Confederate ram vessel, began an attack on Plymouth, North Carolina. The Confederates were under Brigadier General Robert Frederick Hoke.

Skirmishing occurred at Beaver Creek, North Carolina; Ellis’s Ford, Virginia; Holly Springs, Mississippi; Limestone Valley and at Red Mount in Arkansas.

Monday April 18, 1864

BATTLE OF POISON SPRINGS, ARKANSAS

Confederate attacks continued at Plymouth, North Carolina. Other action included skirmishing near Decatur, Alabama and Citrus Point, Virginia.

At Poison Springs, Arkansas, Major General Sterling Price’s Confederates, under direct command of Brigadier General John S. Marmaduke, including the 1st and 2nd Choctaw Regiments, hit the Federals and a foraging train. After a heavy engagement, the Federals withdrew, abandoning 198 wagons. However, Marmaduke’s men were accused of murdering African-American soldiers of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry. Marmaduke and other white officers claimed that the accusations of illegal killings were overblown, and blamed any murders that might have happened on the Choctaw troops who, in the words of one Confederate soldier, admitted that they did “kill and scalp” some of the black troops. Marmaduke was hailed in the Confederate press for what was publicized as a significant Southern victory.

Tuesday April 19, 1864

The C.S.S. Albemarle joined in the Confederate attack on Plymouth, North Carolina, by ramming and sinking the U.S.S. Smithfield, damaging another wooden gunboat and driving off others. Confederate troops had surrounded the town and believed that surrender was near.

In other fighting, skirmishes occurred at Leesburg, Virginia; Marling’s Bottom, West Virginia; King’s River, Arkansas; Charleston, Missouri; Waterhouse’s Mill and Boiling Springs, Tennessee.

Confederate troops carried out operations against pro-unionists in Marion County, Alabama.

An enabling act to permit Nebraska Territory to join the Union was approved after passage by the U.S. Congress.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of April 13-19, 1864 

Active units:

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Fort Snelling prior to mustering out of Federal service on April 29, 1864.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Ringgold, Georgia until April 29, 1864.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Little Rock, Arkansas until April 28, 1864.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Huntsville, Alabama until June 22, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Alexandria, Louisiana until May 13, 1864.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at various Minnesota outposts for garrison duty until June 9, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Paducah, Kentucky until June 19, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On frontier duty at various points in Minnesota: Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Center, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie until May 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Stationed at Rolla, Jefferson City, LaMine Bridge, Warrensburg, Independence, Knob Noster, Kansas City, Waynesville and Franklin with headquarters in Jefferson City until May 15, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison and provost duty at Benton Barracks, Missouri until April 21, 1864.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Fort Snelling and at frontier posts throughout Minnesota until May 24, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Fort Snelling until May 1, 1864.

Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Companies A, B, C and D on frontier duty in Pembina until May 5, 1864.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty in Cairo, Illinois until April 28, 1864.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Veterans were on furlough through June 5, 1864. Non-veterans attached to Battery I, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where they escorted cattle and horses to the army in the field until July 14, 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Various sections of the battery were stationed at Fort Snelling, Fort Ridgely, Fort Ripley and Pembina until June 5, 1864.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – On duty around the Rapidan River, Virginia until May 4, 1864.

Inactive units: 

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Formally mustered out of service on December 7, 1863. Inactive.

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Biography: Major General Thomas Green, CSA (1814-1864)

Major General Thomas Green, CSA (1814-1864)

Major General Thomas Green, CSA (1814-1864)

Born in southwestern Virginia, Tom Green moved at a young age with his family to middle Tennessee. Like many Southerners of his generation, Green traveled to Texas to participate in its revolution against Mexico in 1835-1836. He participated as a private of artillery in the decisive battle of San Jacinto on 21 April 1836. Green relocated permanently to Texas in 1837, settling in LaGrange. He briefly entered elected politics in 1839, but soon showed a greater talent and inclination for his appointments as engrossing clerk for the Texas House of Representatives and secretary of the Senate. His longest held position was that of clerk of the Texas Supreme Court, a position he assumed in 1841. By all accounts, the well-read and intellectual Green was extremely popular in all these positions.

In the frequent recesses during court and legislative sessions, Green participated in many of the campaigns of the Republic of Texas. As a volunteer ranger, he rode on two successful expeditions against the Penateka Comanches. As a volunteer officer in the army of the republic, he raised mounted companies and served as a staff officer in campaigns against Mexican incursions. During the Mexican-American War, Green served as a company commander in Colonel John Coffee Hays’s 1st Texas Mounted Rifles, where he served with distinction in the Monterrey campaign.

When that regiment disbanded in October 1846, Green returned to Texas and domestic pursuits. He married Mary Chalmers, the oldest daughter of a prominent Austin editor, in January 1847. Within months of the wedding, both of her parents died, prompting the couple to adopt her six siblings and raise them as well as six children of their own. Green, now responsible for a sizable family, put his energy into his twenty-year career as clerk of the Supreme Court, where he became a protege of Justice John Hemphill, an outspoken advocate of states’ rights.

When secession occurred in 1861, Green sprang to the call. He received appointment as a general in charge of a militia district, but left that post to assume command of the 5th Texas Mounted Volunteers in late summer 1861. Green’s first campaign was with Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley in New Mexico. Green earned the victory at the battle of Val Verde on 21 February 1861, but showed mediocre leadership during the rest of the campaign, and rumors began circulating that he was a boon companion of the notoriously drunk General Sibley. At the battle of Peralta on 15 April, Federal troops surprised Green’s command in the midst of a fandango at a captured estate, shaking the Texans badly. By the time the 5th Texas returned to Texas at the end of the disastrous campaign, Green’s reputation had clearly suffered.

Passed over for promotion, and eager to salvage his good name, Green fought the rest of the war with a vengeance. At the battle of Galveston on 1 January 1863, he made sure that his command, now designated the 5th Texas Cavalry, played a prominent role, and he received many of the laurels for the stunning victory. After reinforcing General Richard Taylor’s army in Southwestern Louisiana in March 1863, Green earned a reputation as a tenacious fighter. In the Bayou Teche campaign in April, Green’s rear-guard tactics led Taylor to recommend him for promotion, which the Confederate Congress confirmed.

Placed at the head of the disgraced Sibley’s old brigade, Green led the 4th, 5th and 7th Texas cavalries in a number of ferocious battles in the summer of 1863. Most of the time, Green was the de facto commander of a small cavalry division that included the brigade of his brother-in-law Colonel James P. Major. On 23 June, as Taylor attempted to relieve pressure on the besieged garrison of Port Hudson across the Mississippi, Green proved instrumental in the capture of Federal general Nathaniel P. Banks’s depot at Brashear City, Louisiana. The Texan led a poorly coordinated assault on Fort Butler at Donaldsonville on 28 June, resulting in heavy casualties among his command. Afterward, Confederates bypassed the fort, and field artillery and sharpshooters harassed shipping on the Mississippi, temporarily interrupting Banks’s communications with New Orleans. After the fall of Port Hudson on 8 July, U.S. troops moved to contain Taylor. Green soundly drubbed them at the battle of Cox’s Plantation on 13 July, allowing Taylor to abandon the Bayou Lafourche country in good order with his important captures intact.

Green earned two more battlefield successes in 1863 and emerged as Taylor’s most reliable – and aggressive – subordinate. On 12 September, he led his brigade, Major’s brigade, and a brigade of Texas infantry under Colonel Joseph Spaight in a well-executed ambush of a Union brigade-sized outpost at Sterling’s Plantation on Bayou Fordoche. When General Banks launched an offensive toward Alexandria that same month, Green’s troops harassed the advance. When the Federals withdrew in November, Tom Green’s Texans jumped a Union brigade at Bayou Borbeau on 2 November, leading to its destruction. After a year of active campaigning, Taylor ordered Green’s command to protect the Texas coast for the winter.

Early in 1864, Green received greater responsibilities while leading his men in the decisive campaign for Louisiana. Confederate authorities promoted Green to major general, and Taylor appointed him to lead all of the cavalry in his department. In March, General Banks launched his land and riverine Red River campaign toward Shreveport, Louisiana, prompting Taylor’s superior, Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby  Smith, to summon all available troops to the state to aid it in the defense. Green, his old command, and an additional small division of Texas cavalry responded. The Confederates under Green skirmished actively with Union troops before joining Taylor’s main body of troops just south of Mansfield. On 8 April, the Confederates turned on Banks’s army and routed it. The following day, at Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, Confederate assaults against the battered Federal troops achieved nothing, but did convince Banks to retreat to safer ground. Green immediately ordered a pursuit by his mounted troops.

Green led a large part of his mounted command to the banks of the Red River, hoping to capture Union transports passing back down toward Natchitoches. While Green was coordinating an attack on the Union navy at Blair’s Landing on 12 April 1864, sailors aboard the U.S.S. Osage fired a round of grapeshot at a conspicuous Confederate officer within easy range of their guns. One of the projectiles hit Green in the upper forehead, killing him instantly.

- Donald S. Frazier

[Source: Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social and Military History. W.W. Norton & Co. 2002. pp. 877-878]

He is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Austin, Texas, per FindAGrave.

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On this date in Civil War history – Fort Pillow Massacre – April 12, 1864

Fort Pillow location mapFort Pillow was located on the east bank of the Mississippi River, 40 miles north of Memphis, Tennessee. Constructed by Confederate General Gideon Pillow in 1861, it overlooked the river, and its principal function was to control river traffic on the Mississippi. On 12 April 1864, the fort became the site of one of the most controversial events of the American Civil War: the Fort Pillow massacre.

The fort consisted of a dirt parapet, approximately 6 to 8 feet high, and formed a 125-foot semicircle. Built on a steep bluff that descended rapidly to the Mississippi, the fort faced east. To the north, a small stream, Cool Creek, entered the river. To the south, a small town consisting of storage buildings and bunkhouses sat in a ravine below the fort.

Capture of Fort PillowThe fort was protected by three semicircular lines of defense. The outer line spanned about two miles and ran from the small town to the south of the fortress to Coal Creek on the other side of the fort. The second line was approximately 600 yards inside the outer lines. The final line was the fort itself. The terrain around the fort was hilly with numerous ravines. The fort was manned by 580 Union soldiers; 285 belonged to the 13th Tennessee Cavalry, while 292 were African-American soldiers who were part of either the 6th U.S. Heavy Artillery or the 6th U.S. Colored Light Artillery. Major Lionel F. Booth commanded the fort, with Major William F. Bradford second in command.

Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA

Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA

On the morning of 12 April, Confederate troops under Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who had been conducting raids throughout western Kentucky and Tennessee, surrounded the garrison on three sides. The Confederates had quickly seized the small town south of the fort and a ravine north of it. After waiting for his ammunition to be replenished, Forrest sent out a flag of truce at 3:30 that afternoon and demanded the garrison’s immediate surrender. He told the Federals that if they surrendered, they would be treated as prisoners of war, but, if they refused, they would be shown no quarter. Major Booth had been killed by sniper fire, so the decision fell to Major Bradford, who asked Forrest for 1 hour to deliberate. Suspecting that the Federals were stalling to procure the assistance of a Union gunboat (the New Era) on the Mississippi, Forrest gave Bradford 20 minutes to decide.

Entrance to Fort Pillow State Park

Entrance to Fort Pillow State Park

When Union forces refused to surrender, Forrest launched a vigorous assault on the fort. With good position and superior numbers, the Confederates quickly overwhelmed the Union forces. What made the assault on Fort Pillow infamous, however, was the manner in which it was conducted. As Confederate soldiers gained the parapet, panic seized Union soldiers, who hastily retreated down the bluff. Many Union soldiers jumped into the Mississippi River, hoping to swim to the New Era. Other Union soldiers laid down their weapons and attempted to surrender. Confederate troops, however, did not acknowledge surrender and subjected the garrison to a merciless fire of bullets. Many Union soldiers were gunned down after they had thrown away their weapons. Black soldiers were the especial target of Confederate wrath. Not only did the Confederate government refuse to recognize African-Americans as bona fide soldiers, the average Confederate soldier was particularly threatened by the sight of former slaves wearing Union blue. Cries of “No quarter” and “kill the damned niggers” punctuated the confusion. Countless accounts told of black soldiers gunned down or bayoneted in the most brutal fashion.

When Forrest finally gained control of the situation and ordered his forces to cease firing, close to 50 percent of the Federal troops had perished. The death rate for black troops, however, was significantly higher than for white soldiers (64 percent compared with 31 percent). In addition to high casualties, stories of all sorts of atrocities quickly spread throughout the North. These included such gruesome acts as live burials, the killing of women and children who were in the town south of the fort, and wounded soldiers being set on fire.

National Park Service historian emeritus Ed Bearss discusses the battle and massacre at Fort Pillow.

National Park Service historian emeritus Ed Bearss discusses the battle and massacre at Fort Pillow.

Northern public opinion was outraged, and in a public speech shortly after the massacre, President Lincoln threatened retaliation if the allegations were proved true. In Congress, the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War was directed to investigate the Fort Pillow massacre. After interviewing dozens of witnesses, the committee published a report in early May that charged that the Confederates were indeed guilty of many of the reported atrocities.

While the Lincoln administration threatened retaliation and discussed various options in cabinet meetings, nothing came of such threats. In the end, the administration realized that Richmond authorities would never recognize African-American soldiers as legitimate, and to avenge Fort Pillow would result in a cycle of meaningless reprisals.

Although reports of the massacre were not without exaggeration, particularly the accounts of live burials and the slaughter of women and children, most historians believe that soldiers, particularly African-Americans, were needlessly butchered. While historians sympathetic to Forrest argue that there was no “official” surrender of the garrison, there can be little doubt that many soldiers tried to surrender and were killed after they had thrown down their weapons. While Forrest may not have explicitly ordered the massacre, given the well-known attitude of Confederate soldiers toward African-American soldiers, Forrest understood what the outcome of an attack would be. Indeed, for numerous African-American soldiers, Fort Pillow became the rallying cry. There are numerous accounts of black troops going into battle crying “Fort Pillow.” Instead of unnerving black soldiers, as the Confederates had intended, the massacre at Fort Pillow had the opposite result.

- Bruce Tap

[Source: Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social and Military History. W.W. Norton & Co. 2002. pp. 746-748]

Union and Confederate casualties from the Fort Pillow Massacre can be found here.

Additional resources:

River Run Red: The Fort Pillow Massacre in the Civil War by Andrew Ward

Fort Pillow, a Civil War Massacre, and Public Memory by John Cimprich

The River Was Dyed with Blood: Nathan Bedford Forrest and Fort Pillow by Brian Steel  Wills

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On this date in Civil War history: April 9, 1864 – Battle of Pleasant Hill

Map denoting the village of Pleasant Hill where the battle was fought on April 9, 1864.

Map denoting the village of Pleasant Hill where the battle was fought on April 9, 1864.

Pleasant Hill was the last major battle of the Red River campaign of 1864. Persistent if not talented, Union Major General Nathaniel P. Banks still held onto his scheme to take Shreveport, Louisiana, despite his loss to Confederate Major General Richard Taylor at Mansfield on 8 April. By rejoining his Red River Expeditionary Force with Admiral David D. Porter’s gunboat fleet and Brigadier General Thomas Kilby Smith’s detachment of XVII Corps at the Red River, he believed he could salvage his expedition. Under cover of darkness during the night of 8-9 April, Banks evacuated his rear guard positions for Pleasant Hill, some fourteen miles to his rear. To mask his withdrawal, two divisions under Brigadier Generals W.H. Emory and J.A. Mower remained behind.

Although significantly outnumbered, the aggressive Taylor pressed his pursuit in expectation of destroying Banks’s forces. At dawn Taylor, accompanying Major General Thomas Green’s cavalry, led two brigades of Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill’s division under Mosby M. Parsons and James C. Tappan in pursuit of the Federals’ rear guard. Having suffered heavy losses the day before at Mansfield, Major General John G. Walker’s and Brigadier General Camille de Polignac’s Divisions brought up the Confederate rear.

Marker denoting the location of the village of Pleasant Hill

Marker denoting the location of the village of Pleasant Hill

Arriving at Pleasant Hill’s outskirts at about 9 A.M., Taylor was somewhat surprised to find the Federals forming a line of battle. As Taylor waited for Churchill’s Division to come up, reconnaissance forays by Brigadier General Hamilton P. Bee’s cavalry confirmed that Banks’s troops were indeed occupying formidable defensive positions. Attackers would be forced to cross an open field in the face of fire from skirmishers concealed in a ravine that, in turn, fronted a low plateau on which Banks had placed his artillery and main infantry positions. Still, Taylor remained firmly convinced that he could exploit the momentum from the morale advantage he had gained from his success at Mansfield.

Battle flag from a regiment of Walker's Texans

Battle flag from a regiment of Walker’s Texans

Taylor’s troops, however, were exhausted. Polignac and Walker’s men had fought a pitched battle the previous day and Churchill’s had marched forty-five miles in thirty-six hours. Reluctantly, Taylor was forced to allow his troops, now reinforced to some 13,500 men, two hours’ rest before opening his attack. At 3 P.M., disregarding his opponent’s superior position and numbers, Taylor set his attack in motion. Pinning his strategy on Churchill’s relatively fresh troops, he ordered his two divisions southward in a flanking maneuver. Within an hour and a half, Churchill’s force, led by Tappan and Parsons, stood in line of battle across the Sabine Road. Taylor’s plan called for Churchill’s troops to launch a decisive attack on the Union southern flank, rolling it upon itself. As the enemy line collapsed, Walker was then to throw his division at Banks’s center while Bee’s Texas Cavalry was to exploit any breakthrough with a mounted saber attack. Polignac’s survivors, who had borne the worst of the fighting at Mansfield, were to rest as reserves on the Confederate far left.

Map from the book "History of Iowa" showing the positions of Iowa regiments during the Battle of Pleasant Hill.

Map from the book “History of Iowa” showing the positions of Iowa regiments during the Battle of Pleasant Hill.

Confederate attack opened at 4:30 P.M. as Taylor’s artillery commander, Major Joseph Brent, ordered his gunners to pull their lanyards and the infantry stepped off into a hail of Union fire. Parsons and Tappan achieved initial success on the Confederate right as they overwhelmed the brigade of Colonel Lewis Benedict who was killed in the fighting. Taylor saw less success on his left as Union troops repulsed savage assaults by Walker’s infantry and Bee’s ill-fated cavalry charge. After over an hour of desperate and costly fighting, Churchill’s command under Parsons and Tappan was making headway on the Confederate right but the Confederate assaults on the Union center had made little progress. As Walker’s brigade commanders struggled to maintain their momentum, Taylor ordered up Polignac’s Division. Polignac formed his line between General Thomas Green’s now dismounted cavalry under Brigadier General James Major and Walker’s left brigade under Colonel Horace Randal. Meeting Polignac’s, Walker’s and Green’s combined onslaught, Colonel William T. Shaw’s 2nd Brigade of Brigadier General A.J. Smith’s XVI Corps 3rd Division, which had broken every assault Taylor had thrown against them, finally was exhausted and grudgingly gave way in the center. At the same time, the Federal left collapsed under pressure from Churchill’s two brigades. Churchill’s advantage, however, was short-lived. Just as he sensed victory, a determined counterattack by veteran regiments of A.J. Smith’s XVI Corps emerged from the woods to slam into Parson’s right flank. As Parson’s troops gave way, the momentum shifted to the Federals as Mower led the Union center forward. The Federal counterattack crushed Taylor’s critical flanking movement and with it hopes of adding a second victory to Mansfield. Although Taylor continued to press the Union center, fatigue, disorganization and the approaching nightfall soon dictated the battle’s end.

Despite having won a tactical victory at Pleasant Hill, a demoralized Banks withdrew under cover of night to Grand Ecore and eventually on to Alexandria. Taylor, although disappointed in not having destroyed Banks, contented himself with having finally driven the Federals from western Louisiana. Both sides had suffered heavily during the two days’ fighting. Federal records added 152 killed, 859 wounded and 495 captured at Pleasant Hill to the losses of the previous day at Mansfield. Taylor estimated his total losses at 2,200.

- Jeff Kinard

[Source: Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social and Military History. W.W. Norton & Co. 2002. pp. 1528-1529]

Battle of Pleasant Hill Reenactment Website

Muskets and Memories: A Modern Man’s Journey through the Civil War (contains a chapter dedicated to the Battle of Pleasant Hill and the 32nd Iowa Infantry’s role in the engagement)

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On this date in Civil War history: April 8, 1864 – Battle of Mansfield/Sabine Crossroads

Also known as the battle of Sabine Crossroads, this clash was the decisive battle in northwestern Louisiana that effectively halted the Union’s Red River campaign of 1864. In early 1864, Federal commanders devised the invasion of Texas by way of the Red River in Louisiana. Major General Nathaniel Banks assumed command of the Red River Expeditionary Force and by late March had taken the strategic town of Alexandria in central Louisiana. Banks next planned to push up the Red River to Shreveport, headquarters of the Confederate commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, General Edmund Kirby Smith. There he planned to link up with a force under Major General Frederick Steele for the final drive into Texas.

mansfield-battlefieldRather than risk a disastrous defeat, Smith, with fewer than 10,000 available troops under Major General Richard Taylor, ordered Taylor to fall back toward Shreveport. As a reluctant Taylor grudgingly marched his small force northward toward the village of Mansfield, Banks made a fateful decision. Two roads led north to Shreveport. The longer hugged the riverbank, thus offering his troops the protection of the guns of Admiral David D. Porter’s gunboat fleet steaming up the river. Banks, however, eager to reach Shreveport as quickly as possible, chose the more direct overland route. Although the road passed through Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, occupied by Taylor’s main force, Banks evidenced little concern, convinced that the Confederates were unwilling to fight. On 6 April the Federal army abandoned the protection of the river to march through the “howling wilderness” of northwestern Louisiana.

371px-MansfieldMapFromBanksOfficaReportTaylor soon decided to ignore Smith’s orders and confront Banks near Mansfield, a small village south of Shreveport. During the early morning hours of 8 April, Taylor formed his 5,300 infantry into a line at Sabine Crossroads, a strategic intersection three miles southeast of Mansfield. Partially concealed in the edge of a pine forest, Brigadier General James T. Major’s dismounted cavalry anchored the left of the line next to Brigadier General Alfred Mouton’s division as Major General John G. Walker’s Texas Division formed on the right. Twelve artillery batteries and 3,000 cavalry brought Taylor’s strength to about 8,800.

Ignoring warnings from his cavalry commander, Brigadier General Albert L. Lee, Banks continued to Sabine Crossroads. Although the Federals numbered nearly 18,000, their deployment was dictated by the narrow road, barely wide enough for a single wagon. Lee was particularly concerned over the placement of the supply trains. His own, numbering three hundred wagons, stretched three miles to the rear and blocked both retreat and reinforcements. Still, Lee continued his advance and, pushing back Confederate skirmishers, reached Honeycutt Hill, a low wooded ridge, late in the morning. Supported by two infantry brigades, Lee’s forces numbered some 4,800 men.

Sabine Crossroads signBy noon Union and Confederate troops faced one another across a broad field from positions along opposing tree lines. As more Union troops and artillery arrived, the afternoon began to unfold into a series of probing cavalry actions interspersed by artillery duels. Shortly after 4 p.m. an impatient Taylor finally ordered his men forward. Crossing the field under a “murderous fire of artillery and musketry” Mouton’s and Walker’s Divisions crashed into the Federal positions, which soon crumbled in the ensuing hand-to-hand fighting. Mouton was killed in the assault and command of his division passed to the commander of his Texas Brigade, the French-born Brigadier General Camille de Polignac. As Polignac and Walker continued their attack, the Union resistance collapsed and soon deteriorated into a route with Confederate troops enveloping both flanks. Panicked troops poured to the rear along the already wagon-jammed road, abandoning their transports to the advancing Confederates.

The timely arrival, however, of Brigadier General William H. Emory’s division some three miles to the rear of the initial battle saved Bank’s force from complete disaster. Shortly before dusk he expertly deployed his troops along Chapman Hill, a steep ridge fronted by an orchard known as Pleasant Grove. Despite repeated Confederate attacks, Emory held his position, thus protecting the remainder of the Federal train and the troops trapped by the narrow road.

Mansfield_State_Historic_Site_IMG_2486Taylor was convinced he won a decisive victory. The action had cost Banks 113 killed, 581 wounded, and 1,541 missing – a total of 2,235 men. In addition, the Confederates captured hundreds of small arms, twenty artillery pieces, nearly 1,000 draft animals, and 250 wagons.

Taylor’s losses were also heavy – approximately 1,500 of his original 8,800 men. Yet the battle of Mansfield had shaken Banks and convinced him to terminate his invasion plans and return to Alexandria. Although the Federals would win the battle the following day at Pleasant Hill, the Red River campaign had failed at Mansfield.

- Jeff Kinard

[Source: Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler. Encyclopedia of the American Civil War: A Political, Social and Military History. W.W. Norton & Co. 2002. pp. 1248-1249]

Resources:

Civil War Trust’s Battle of Mansfield page

Friends of Mansfield Battlefield

Dark and Bloody Ground: The Battle of Mansfield and the Forgotten Civil War in Louisiana

Muskets and Memories: A Modern Man’s Journey through the Civil War

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