The American Civil War, day by day - Page 41 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15098319
June 8, Sunday

In the Shenandoah Valley the day is clear and cool. Early in the morning, the Reverend Major Dabney asks Jackson if any military operations might be expected. “No,” Jackson replies, “you know I always try to keep the Sabbath if the enemy will let me.” Assuming services will be held, Dabney returns to his cot to contemplate his sermon.

At about 9 am General Jackson and his staff are waiting for their horses to be brought around so they can cross the North River and rejoin the army on the far bank when a messenger gallops up with news that Federal cavalry, brushing aside a lax Confederate guard detachment, have crossed the northernmost South River ford and are entering Port Republic. The sound of musketry rises at the far end of town, and Jackson starts toward the firing on foot only to see enemy horsemen pounding toward him down Main Street. At that moment someone brings up his horse and Stonewall Jackson gallops for safety across the North River bridge. Even as the general gains the heights, a Union gun is deployed at the Port Republic end of the bridge. Jackson orders his Rockbridge Artillery to fire on it, and a brisk little artillery duel commences. To end it, Jackson turns to Colonel Sam Fulkerson, who has hurried up with his 37th Virginia, and orders him to “Charge right through, Colonel.” Quickly clearing the bridge, Fulkerson pushes on through the town, driving out the Federals. As Jackson watches the Federal retreat from a bluff, he exultantly raises both hands skyward—and the men in the town below, seeing him silhouetted against the sky, burst into a wild cheer. It is soon drowned out by the rumble of artillery to the northwest. General Fremont has at last decided to give battle.

Advancing gingerly, Fremont’s skirmishers are held off for more than an hour by Ewell’s stubborn pickets, and Fremont’s guns aren’t moved into position until nearly 10 am. On a ridge about a mile from the Federal artillery, General Ewell is more than ready for the opening of battle. His position is ideal. A creek meanders across his immediate front. Beyond it spreads several hundred acres of rolling fields that an attacking enemy will have to cross. Both of his flanks are guarded by dense woods. Watching the Federals deploy, Ewell determines that his line is most vulnerable at its center, which is bisected by a road. There he posts four batteries, and backs them with a two-regiment infantry brigade. As Ewell predicted, the Federal guns open against his center. An artillery exchange commences, continuing until almost noon, when lines of bluecoated infantry finally begin to move across the fields against the Confederate right, where they are eagerly awaited by a brigade under Brigadier General Isaac R. Trimble. As the Union brigade advances in parade-ground order, Trimble rides up and down his line ordering his men to hold fire until the enemy is at point-blank range. The Confederates remain still and quiet as the Federals cross the fields and come up the slope, until at the last second Trimble gives the order, and the men rise with a shout and unleash a solid sheet of fire. The attackers’ front ranks crumple, try to re-form and are staggered by a second volley. They retreat in near panic, throwing the second line into confusion.

Of the 24 regiments Fremont has brought to the field, he has so far sent forward only five. Ewell expects another attack—this time in great strength. But fifteen minutes pass without sign of a new assault. Seething with impatience, Trimble decides to go over to the offensive himself. Spying a Union battery moving into position half a mile away, he sends his men on a headlong charge to capture the guns. The Federal artillerists hastily withdraw before being overrun by the yelling Confederates. Trimble’s furious drive carries him a mile beyond Ewell’s ridge—and there, daring an enemy attack, he remains all day. The Federal lassitude invites an advance of the entire Confederate line, but Ewell and Jackson, who has by now arrived at the scene, have no real choice but to remain on the defensive. Ewell’s command is outnumbered by about 2 to 1, and there is an ominous report of enemy movement on the Confederate left. Late in the day, the fiery Trimble conceives the idea of a night attack. When Ewell disapproves, Trimble rides off to see Jackson, who is back in Port Republic. But Jackson advises him to consult General Ewell, and when Trimble again seeks his division commander’s consent to attack Ewell gently refuses.

So ends the frustrating little Battle of Cross Keys. The Confederates don’t come out unscathed, two of Ewell’s brigade commanders are badly wounded. Against Fremont’s losses of 684 out of 10,500 men, Ewell has suffered just 288 out of his 6,500. Better yet for the Confederates, Ewell remains between Fremont and Port Republic, freeing Jackson to deal with whatever Shields might offer tomorrow.

There is skirmishing near Fair Oaks and on the New Market Road near the Chickahominy, and once more McDowell’s Federals, having failed to defeat Jackson, are ordered to operate in the direction of Richmond.

There is a skirmish at Muddy Creek, western Virginia, as well.

At Charleston, South Carolina, there are affairs and skirmishes for two days as Federals try to enlarge their holdings on the key islands near Charleston Harbor.
#15098573
June 9, Monday

To meet the Federal threat, the previous night Stonewall Jackson concocted a plan of daredevil audacity. Today he means to fight not one battle but two, first defeating General Shields, then turning to finish off Fremont. Orders were issued accordingly. General Ewell will bring most of his command to Port Republic, leaving two brigades to harry Fremont at Cross Keys. Winder is told to start the Stonewall Brigade across the North River Bridge into Port Republic at 4:45 am.

Out before 5 am, Jackson meets Winder, punctual as always, leading his brigade across the North River bridge. When Winder asks for further orders, Jackson indicates only that the Stonewall Brigade should also cross the South River, on a makeshift bridge built overnight of planks laid atop supply wagons. Jackson rides with Winder across the rickety South River bridge and into the banks of fog hanging low over the bottom land of the Shenandoah. They take a road leading to the northeast, moving silently and slowly through the gloom for about a mile. Then, about 7 am, a horseman brings word that there are Federals just ahead. Peering through patches of thinning fog across an expanse of ripening wheat, Jackson can glimpse the enemy in position behind a double-row fence. Jackson is in a hurry. The previous night he had vowed to dispense with Shields and return to face Fremont at Cross Keys by 10 am, and he intends to keep that appointment. Now, without reconnoitering or waiting for the rest of his force to come up, Jackson orders Winder to charge. As Federal pickets scurry back to their main line behind the fence, the Stonewall Brigade drives headlong through the waving wheat. But at that moment, a crash of Federal artillery erupts on the Confederate right, and shells scythe through the ranks of the Stonewall Brigade. Taken in flank and raked by volleys from the Federal infantry in front, the brigade falters, stops, falls back. Just as at Kernstown, they have rushed into an ambush set by a force under the nominal command of Brigadier General James Shields, though Shields himself hasn’t yet arrived on the field. Jackson faces Shields’s vanguard, two brigades totaling 3,000 men.

Jackson has little time to ponder tactics. Seeking the source of the enemy artillery fire, he sees to his right a foothill of the Blue Ridge stretching toward the battlefield. Midway up the spur is a “coaling,” a flat clearing where wood is burned for charcoal. From that coaling, seven concealed guns pour down their deadly fire on the Stonewall Brigade. If the brigade is to survive, the coaling must be taken, and quickly. At Jackson’s command, Winder sends two regiments off to the right and into the mountainside wilderness. A Confederate battery, instructed to follow, gives up the attempt after its guns become hopelessly entangled in dense undergrowth. The infantry regiments fare little better. Climbing, chopping, and cursing their way through wild thickets of mountain laurel, they finally reach a point about 100 yards from the enemy guns only to find them supported by three regiments of Federal infantry. A Confederate volley drives the artillerists from the coaling, but the gunners return under covering fire from their own infantry and blast the Confederate attackers with canister. The Confederates retire, and the murderous Federal fire is resumed against the Stonewall Brigade on the plain below.

The failure to seize the coaling convinces Jackson that he can no longer hope for a double victory this day. He sends word to Trimble to withdraw from Fremont’s front, hasten across the North River bridge, and burn it so as to keep the Pathfinder at bay. Then Trimble is to cross the South River and rush to the battle. That movement, however, will take more time that Jackson can afford. The Stonewall Brigade, pinned down and hanging on for its life, needs help immediately. And help, as luck would have it, is on the way. Double-timing up the road from Port Republic comes Hays’s 7th Regiment of Taylor’s Brigade. Like the rest of Richard Taylor’s command, Hays had been held up by the improvised bridge across the South River, so shaky by now that it can only bear the weight of men passing over it in single file. Jackson instantly sends Hays to bolster Winder’s wavering line. Then he can only wait for more reinforcements. When Taylor arrives with the rest of his brigade, Jackson points to the smoke belching from the guns on the mountainside and turns to Jed Hotchkiss: “Take General Taylor around and take those batteries.” Into the thickets go Hotchkiss and Taylor.

Meanwhile, the Federals opposite Winder are plainly preparing to charge and add their weight to the galling artillery fire. Winder calculates that the Stonewall Brigade cannot possibly withstand such an onslaught, and he decides to strike first. Without waiting for word from Jackson, he orders a charge. Across the wheat field sweeps the Stonewall Brigade, with Hays and his Louisianans on its right. They reach the fence at the edge of the field, but there, faced by a point-blank blaze of musketry, the brigade is forced to the ground. Already, the men are running low on ammunition. Seeing their men pinned down, the Federals redouble their fire across the fence. Decimated, the Stonewall Brigade breaks, first in a trickle and then in a flood. Just when the Confederate seem about to collapse, Richard Ewell arrives at the battlefield and sizes up the grim situation with a soldierly eye. He immediately orders two of his regiments to fall on the left flank of the advancing enemy. The startled Federals fall back. Still, they are ably commanded and well in hand; quickly recovering, they wheel left and drive Ewell’s force into the mountainous forest beneath the coaling. Ewell makes the best of a bad situation and leads his men up the mountain to try to take the troublesome Federal guns.

By then, Taylor badly needs whatever aid he can get. Masked by heavy timber and undergrowth, he struggles to a position near the coaling. Hearing the sounds of battle to his rear appearing to recede and loud Federal cheering, he orders a charge with those of his men that have managed to deploy. When that charge is beaten back he orders a second and then a third, finally taking the coaling after vicious hand to hand fighting, only to see Tyler and three of his Ohio regiments forging up the mountainside. Just as it seems that Taylor will be surely overwhelmed, Richard Ewell and his men come crashing out of the wilderness and into the clearing. Now faced with superior numbers, Tyler retreats to rejoin Shields’s main force. The coaling belongs to the Confederates, and now the guns are turned to pour fire against Shields’s men on the open plain beside the river. Ewell himself delightedly mans one of the cannon. At about the same time, more Confederate reinforcements arrive from Port Republic and stream onto the plain. Slowly, reluctantly, the Union’s forces turn and begin leaving the field, moving northward in good order. They have done all they can, and it had very nearly been enough.

In the close-fought and, for Jackson, poorly managed Battle of Port Republic, the Valley army suffers 615 casualties, its greatest losses of the campaign. That the Union loses 1,018 men, including 588 captured, is no compensation to Jackson’s small army. As a Confederate officer concedes, “It is but bare justice to say that the enemy on this field fought stubbornly and well.”

Cross Keys and Port Republic are the last battles in Jackson’s brilliant Shenandoah Valley Campaign. In thirty-eight days, April 29 to June 5, he has marched about 400 miles, and kept many thousands of Federals guessing. By other figures, counting from March 22 to June 5, Jackson in forty-eight marching days will have covered 676 miles and fought five battles. Despite the fact that they outnumber him, at no time can the Union armies bring him to bay. Not only does he keep reinforcements from McClellan, but Jackson’s name will become a symbolic byword, causing frustration and trepidation in the North, and leading the South out of the doldrums of almost continuous defeat. A Confederate writes, “I would rather be a private in such an Army than a Field Officer in any other Army.”

After Port Republic Shield’s division will be ordered back with the rest of McDowell’s corps toward Fredericksburg. President Lincoln will order Fremont to halt at Harrisonburg and pursue Jackson no farther.

At the Confederate-held batteries of Grand Gulf on the Mississippi there is a brief engagement between the guns onshore and the Federal vessels Wissahickon and Itasca.

In Mississippi, south of Corinth, Federal reconnaissance continues to Baldwyn and Guntown.
#15098839
June 10, Tuesday

There is little or no action on the main front in Virginia along the Chickahominy. Elsewhere skirmishing continues on James Island, South Carolina, near Charleston; at Winchester, Roger’s Gap, and Wilson’s Gap, Tennessee; at the mouth of West Fork, western Virginia; and on the White River in Arkansas.

At Corinth General Halleck reassigns U.S. Grant, D.C. Buell, and John Pope to their separate army corps. Grant, after being second-in-command in the Corinth campaign, is once again actually leading troops.
#15099149
June 11, Wednesday

General Fremont pulls back from the Port Republic area to Mount Jackson in the Shenandoah under orders from Washington. Meanwhile, there is speculation about what Stonewall Jackson will do—renew his Valley fighting, or go to Richmond to aid Lee?

Fighting is confined to skirmishing near Booneville, Mississippi, not far from Corinth; Monterey, Kentucky; Cassville, Deep Water, and Pink Hill, Missouri. In the mountains of Tennessee there is skirmishing at Big Creek Gap as a small Federal expedition carries out operations.

Jefferson Davis writes to his wife of his worry over the “prejudice in our Army against Labor.” As for the enemy, he states, “If we succeed in rendering his works useless to him and compel him to meet us on the field, I have much confidence in our ability to give him a complete defeat, and then it may be possible to teach him the pains of invasion and to feed our Army on his territory.”

General Lee, still organizing the disparate elements of the Army of Northern Virginia he commands and preparing for his intended assault on the Union army threatening Richmond, decides that before planning the details of the attack he needs to know the precise dispositions of the Federal right wing north of the Chickahominy—initially deployed by General McClellan to serve as a link with the long-promised and often-postponed march of General McDowell’s troops from Fredericksburg. Therefore, he orders his cavalry chief, Brigadier General J.E.B. Stuart, to conduct a reconnaissance in force north of Richmond.
#15099377
June 12, Thursday

At Richmond, General J.E.B. Stuart rises at 2 am and orders his troopers to be in the saddle in 10 minutes. To carry out Lee’s ordered reconnaissance in force, he has selected 1,200 men from four regiments, plus two pieces of horse artillery. None of the troopers except Stuart know where they are going. The half-mile-long column heads northwest out of Richmond to create the impression that it is merely a body of cavalry reinforcements being sent to General Jackson up in the Shenandoah Valley. After crossing the headwaters of the Chickahominy, it turns sharply east and camps for the night a few miles short of Hanover Court House, having covered some twenty-two miles.

Meanwhile the Confederates under Lee send reinforcements to Jackson in the Valley to give the impression that a major thrust will be made northward in that area. Jackson’s men are encamped near Weyer’s Cave while Federal troops leave Harrisonburg and occupy Mount Jackson. President Lincoln tells General Fremont of reports that “Jackson is largely reinforced and is turning upon you. Stand well on your guard....”

In Arkansas there is skirmishing at Waddell’s Farm near Village Creek, and near Jacksonport. In South Carolina there is activity on Hutchinson’s Island.

With Corinth captured, General Halleck dispatches General Buell and his troops eastward to take Chattanooga. Halleck has high hopes for this eastward push. A rapid march will claim East Tennessee and its railroad network, prevent the Confederates at Tupelo and Chattanooga from combining their forces—and even more, as Halleck intimates. He informs Secretary of War Stanton that Buell will reach Decatur on June 13, then adds, “If the enemy should have evacuated East Tennessee and Cumberland Gap, as reported, Buell will probably move on Atlanta.” Halleck is getting well ahead of events.
#15099600
June 13, Friday

On the move again, J.E.B. Stuart flushes a handful of Federal cavalry pickets, then slices southeastward on back roads. This route takes him behind Brigadier General Fitz-John Porter’s V Corps, on the flank of General McClellan’s right wing. Early in the afternoon, a dozen or so miles down the road, Stuart’s column runs head on into a detachment of the 5th US Cavalry. A Confederate squadron charges and overwhelms their opponents in a brief saber-swinging melee. Stuart’s men ride on a couple of miles to Old Church crossroads, loot and burn a lightly defended Federal cavalry camp, taking some prisoners, and then draw up.

Here at Old Church Stuart faces a decision. His roughly semicircular route from Richmond has taken him perhaps 35 miles—around and behind Porter’s corps, and now to a point a few miles to the rear of Brigadier General William Franklin’s VI Corps. Stuart is so deep in Federal-occupied territory that one of his men, looking southwest toward the Chickahominy, thinks he can see McClellan’s headquarters camp several miles in the distance. It seems to be time for Stuart’s column to turn around and retrace its path to Richmond; Stuart has gathered all the information Lee wants. But from the beginning of the mission, Stuart has harbored a wild and splendid notion: to ride all the way around McClellan’s army. Union forces will have been alerted by now, Stuart reasons, and will likely be waiting in ambush if he returns by the same route. It would actually be safer to ride on and circle McClellan. Stuart signals his column forward. Now begins “the gayest portion of the ride,” staff Lieutenant (and Stuart’s brother-in-law) John Esten Cooke will write. Cooke reckons their chances of survival at 1 in 10.

This afternoon, however, the ride takes on the trappings of a triumphal tour. Many of the troopers have homes in the area, and as they head southeast women pour from the houses to bring food and to embrace sons, brothers, husbands and sweethearts they haven’t seen since the War began. By the time the column approaches Tunstall’s Station, on the Richmond & York River Railroad about nine miles southeast of Old Church, all are in grand spirits as they swoop down to seize two squads of bewildered Federal guards and set about wrecking the place. They torch supply wagons and shoot up a Federal supply train eastbound for White House Landing. Stuart then leads the column four miles to Talleysville, where he leaves unmolested a Union field hospital containing several hundred wounded, but allows his men to refresh themselves with sausages, figs, and other victuals from a sutler’s store.

Elsewhere there is fighting near Hilton, South Carolina, and at New Market in Shenandoah.
#15099868
June 14, Saturday

Around midnight General J.E.B. Stuart leaves Talleysville on the next perilous leg of his journey around the Army of the Potomac, to the lower Chickahominy seven miles to the south. The column is slowed by its burden of 165 Union prisoners—riding double on captured horses and mules—and by the troopers’ own exhaustion. They have now spent more than two days in the saddle, and even the tireless Stuart is so weary he keeps nodding off as he rides. The moon is dangerously bright, and the slow-moving Confederate horsemen expect Union cavalry to pounce on them at any moment. In fact, the Federals are in pursuit, under the command of none other than Stuart’s father-in-law, Brigadier General Philip St. George Cooke. When Stuart leaves Talleysville, Cooke’s Union column is just four miles back at Tunstall’s Station.

Shortly after dawn, Stuart’s men reach the Chickahominy but find the rain-swollen river too deep to ford. Stuart leads his column downstream, expecting the enemy to fall upon him at any time. A mile down the river, the Confederates discover an old skiff and anchor it in the middle of the 40-foot-wide channel. Then, using the skiff for a pontoon, they attempt to bridge the channel with timbers salvaged from a nearby warehouse. The timbers are just barely long enough. After three hours of furious labor Stuart’s column files across the makeshift structure, then the rear guard under Fitzhugh Lee, nephew of Robert E. Lee, set fire to the bridge. As Lee rides off at about 2 pm, he looks back and sees through the smoke a squad of Union cavalrymen pulling up on the far bank. Cooke’s bluecoats have arrived ten minutes too late. Richmond is still 35 miles away. Stuart himself leaves the command in the hands of Fitzhugh Lee and hurries ahead, reaching Richmond on the 15th to report to Lee.

Near Baldwyn, Mississippi, there is a skirmish at Clear Creek; and in Florida a two-day Federal expedition is undertaken from Pensacola to Milton.
#15100131
June 15, Sunday

A triumphant Jeb Stuart arrives in Richmond to report personally to General Lee on his successful ride around McClellan. Meanwhile his troopers are drawing near the Confederate capital. Stuart furnishes Lee with valuable information on terrain, Federal dispositions, and the condition of the country. This includes some very good news—the northern tip of General Porter’s line isn’t anchored on a natural obstacle; it is “up in the air” and vulnerable to a flanking movement. Lee can now proceed with his plan for an attack. The key to his offensive is Stonewall Jackson’s 18,500-man army in the Shenandoah Valley. Lee wants Jackson to march from the Valley and outflank the Federal right wing north of the Chickahominy. At the same time, Lee’s three divisions, about 47,000 men commanded by Major Generals James Longstreet, A.P. Hill, and D.H. Hill, are to attack from the west and sweep eastward along the north bank, threatening General McClellan’s supply line to White House Landing. In anticipation of Stuart’s news, Lee has already sent Jackson reinforcements—Whiting’s division and a brigade of Georgians. These troops are to help Jackson fight his way out of the Valley, if necessary.

The capture of Port Royal, South Carolina, last November has given the Federals an excellent staging area for an advance on Charleston. Now this spring, Brigadier General Henry W. Benham, a divisional commander at Hilton Head Island, drew up a plan that looked good on paper. Benham proposed landing a force on the lower end of James Island, south of Charleston. Under the cover of Navy gunboats, the troops would rapidly advance north across the island, overwhelming the defenders before they can be reinforced. The attackers would then dig in near Charleston Harbor, beyond the range of Fort Sumter’s guns but within easy shelling distance of the city. Placed under siege, Charleston would surely surrender. Benham’s superior, Major General David Hunter, gave the go-ahead, after the Navy assured him that their gunboats have possession of the Stono River, gateway to James Island. When the expedition got underway earlier this month, the Northern press hailed it with great fanfare. But when Benham’s force arrives today at the southern end of James Island, he receives a nasty shock. When Confederate Major General John C. Pemberton, the commander of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, got word that Federal ships were gathering at Stono Inlet, he rushed every available man to James Island. There, Confederate troops set to work building a strong earthwork south of Secessionville, a hamlet of summer cottages belonging to James Island planters. Now Benham finds a breastwork blocking his path, lying across a long cotton field only 125 yards wide and bordered on both sides by impassible marshes, manned by 500 men and seven artillery pieces. Benham has reportedly been ordered by Hunter not to attack until reinforced, but he decides to forge ahead.

Meanwhile, there is a skirmish near Seven Pines and a Federal reconnaissance near New Market, Virginia. In Florida, Federal naval forces descend upon St. Mark’s; there is fighting at Big Creek Gap in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee.

President Lincoln writes Fremont in the Shenandoah that Jackson “is much more likely to go to Richmond than Richmond is to come to him.” The President has divined that Confederate moves are to make it appear that they are reinforcing the Valley when their intention is to move Jackson from the Valley to Lee.
#15100379
June 16, Monday

Stuart’s column has cut south, then swung northeastward on a path roughly paralleling the James River to Richmond, his jubilant men riding into Richmond to the cheers of the populace. The troopers have ridden nearly 100 miles, all the way around the Army of the Potomac; Stuart has lost one man, Captain Latané, and one artillery limber, bogged down at the Chickahominy. Daring, startling, a great morale-booster to the South, a draught of chagrin to the North, it is an exploit that will bring Stuart and his cavalrymen the plaudits of fame as dashing cavaliers of Dixie.

General Jackson starts his soldiers on the 120-mile march to Richmond, then rides ahead for a council of war with Lee and his top generals.

At first light, General Benham’s Federal forces south of Secessionville, South Carolina, supported by artillery fire from gunboats on the Stono River, are in motion against the 500 entrenched Confederates facing them. For some reason, Benham orders the charge to be made by a brigade in line of battle, even though the area between the marshes flanking both sides of the Confederate breastworks is scarcely wide enough for a regiment. As a result, the men have to press together to avoid the marshland, and the battle line becomes a tangled mess. While the confused regiments are struggling to form up, the center of their line is blown apart by grapeshot from the Confederates’ seven artillery pieces. Still, the charge goes forward, into what one Federal officer will describe as a “perfect storm of grape, canister, nails, broken glass and pieces of chain which swept every foot of ground.” The first wave of attackers is shattered. When the 46th New York of the second brigade tries to advance, part of its line is swept backwards by remnants of the first brigade. Even worse, shells from the gunboats a mile away begin to fall short, among the charging Federals. Adding to their problems, 2,000 fresh Confederate troops have just arrived to aid the defenders. Yet the Federals press forward, and after half an hour of bloody fighting some of them reach the Confederate works and grapple hand to hand with the defenders. A fresh Federal division is lined up to provide the extra push. But, with victory seemingly within his grasp, Benham suddenly orders a retreat.

Thus ends the Battle of Secessionville. The outcome of the engagement will seriously retard Federal operations aimed at controlling Charleston Harbor. In this struggle the Union force of some 6,600 suffers 107 killed, 487 wounded, and 89 missing for 683 casualties. The 18th Michigan, vanguard of the assault, has lost a third of its men including 13 out of 22 officers. For the Confederates, losses are 52 killed, 144 wounded, and 8 missing for 204 out of about 2,500 engaged. For this fiasco, Benham is placed under arrest, sent North, and demoted.

Elsewhere there is skirmishing in the Shenandoah at Mount Jackson; and at Winchester, Tennessee; plus some scouting from Batesville to Fairview and other communities in Arkansas.
#15100449
@Hellas me ponas
I've been working with two main sources. The Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac 1861-1865, by E.B. Long with Barbara Long covers everything between the major events, and the twenty-eight-volume Time-Life series The Civil War takes care of major events and fills in some details between them. I've supplemented both with the internet when dates or details are lacking.
#15100653
@Hellas me ponas Thanks much, I’ll try. :)

A heads up to everyone, I am currently on my summer vacation and headed for a family reunion. The posts the next few days will be a bit late, especially Friday and Saturday.

June 17, Tuesday

There are minor skirmishes at Eminence, and near Warrensburg, Missouri; near Smithville, Arkansas, and Pass Manchac, Louisiana.

In command changes Major General John Charles Fremont resigns his post when ordered to serve under Major General John Pope. Pope is being brought east from the Mississippi Valley to command a new Army of Virginia which would consist primarily of Fremont’s and Banks’ Federal commands. Franz Sigel is given Fremont’s position.

There is an even more important change for the Confederates. General Beauregard, commander of the Army of the Mississippi (now mainly in and around Tupelo, Mississippi) since General Albert Sidney Johnston’s death at Shiloh, acclaimed as the hero of Fort Sumter and Bull Run, has clashed repeatedly with President Jefferson Davis. Now, after his abandonment of the strategic Corinth without a fight, Davis replaces him and names General Braxton Bragg commander in his place. With the rise of Bragg to major command, Beauregard’s most active days are over for a considerable time. Bragg, never a popular commander, is given an opportunity to see what he can do with the precarious military situation in the West. Bragg had shown great early promise, graduating fifth in the West Point class of 1837 and later serving with distinction as an artillery officer in the Mexican War, where he garnered three brevets. But he is prey to frequent disabling illnesses, from dyspepsia to headaches. Perhaps because of these illnesses, he is exceedingly unpleasant to everyone around him.
#15100842
June 18, Wednesday

General Jeb Stuart’s ride around the Army of the Potomac has had a significant effect on General McClellan. All along McClellan has felt apprehensive about his supply line to White House Landing. Now Jeb Stuart has easily cut that line—if only temporarily—and confirmed its vulnerability. McClellan has decided to move his supply base south of the Chickahominy, along with the two corps now on the north bank. Today, the first supplies leave White House Landing for a new base on the James River. As well, Franklin’s VI Corps moves south; Porter’s V Corps will remain on the north bank for the time being to guard the transfer of matériel.

Federal troops under Brigadier General George W. Morgan occupies Cumberland Gap, an important trail through the rugged mountains where Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia join. The Confederates withdraw because of the Federal threats, but only after destroying stores. The occupation has a stimulating influence on the alleged pro-Union sentiments of many of the residents of the area. At the same time there is skirmishing at nearby Wilson’s Gap.

Below Vicksburg on the Mississippi, Farragut is assembling his Federal flotilla, including the mortar fleet, preparatory to a move northward past the batteries. In Vicksburg the Confederates are hastily building extensive fortifications, long neglected, and are preparing themselves for eventual attack.

There is a skirmish at Hambright’s Station, Missouri. In Virginia another skirmish occurs at Fair Oaks east of Richmond, and there is light skirmishing near Winchester this day and June 19.

President Lincoln asks McClellan when he can attack Richmond. The President also reportedly discusses drafts of his proposed Emancipation Proclamation with Vice-President Hannibal Hamlin.
#15101058
June 19, Thursday

In Washington President Lincoln signs into law a measure prohibiting slavery in the territories of the United States.

Near Richmond there is a skirmish on the Charles City Road, while other fighting takes place at Knight’s Cove, Arkansas.

In Richmond President Davis writes Governor John J. Pettus of Mississippi, “My efforts to provide for the military wants of your section have been sadly frustrated.”
#15101327
June 20, Friday

From Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a Federal expedition is underway toward Vicksburg. By boat some three thousand men under Brigadier General Thomas Williams travel north. The objects of this movement, aided by Farragut’s gunboats, are to establish a base at Swampy Toe on the west side of the Mississippi opposite Vicksburg and to attempt to dig a canal by which small vessels can bypass the ever increasing batteries on the east side.

Major General Earl Van Dorn assumes command of the Confederate Department of Southern Mississippi and East Louisiana, charged with the defense of the Mississippi.

There is a skirmish at Bayou des Akkenands, Louisiana; and in Virginia near New Bridge and at Gill’s Bluff on the James; while there are several days of guerrilla activities on Owen County, Kentucky.
#15101581
June 21, Saturday

Skirmishing is slight along the battle lines on the Chickahominy near Richmond but there is another fight near Fair Oaks Station. Elsewhere there are skirmishes at Simmons’ Bluff, South Carolina; and at Battle Creek and Rankin’s Ferry, near Jasper, Tennessee. Federals carry out an expedition to Hernando, Mississippi, with skirmishing at Coldwater Station.

“We are preparing and taking position for the struggle which must be near at hand. The stake is too high to permit the pulse to keep its even beat.... A total defeat of McClellan will relieve the Confederacy of its embarrassments in the East, and then we must make a desperate effort to regain what Beauregard has abandoned in the West.” So writes a tense President Davis to his wife.

At Washington Lincoln asks by telegram that McClellan give him his views as to military affairs throughout the whole country.
#15101810
June 22, Sunday

A quiet day, it is apparent that in Virginia major action will occur soon. McClellan must move, and the Confederates must attack. The stalemate at Richmond has lasted long enough.

Near White Oak Swamp there is a reconnaissance, and scattered action in the Shenandoah around Strasburg.

Thirty Sisters of Charity arrive at Fort Monroe to administer to the sick and wounded of the Army of the Potomac.
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June 23, Monday

Still the lesser fighting continues, at Pineville and near Raytown, Missouri; Augusta, Arkansas; and New Kent Court House, Virginia. There are several days of operations about Sibley and Pink Hill, Missouri.

President Lincoln leaves Washington late in the afternoon for New York and West Point, where he is to confer with General Winfield Scott.

At Lee’s headquarters ate Dabbs’ House, a mile and a half from Richmond, Lee holds a conference of his top generals, including Stonewall Jackson. Although Lee has already decided to take the offensive, many details have to be worked out. Richmond cannot withstand a siege; an offensive now is imperative. This counterattack must attempt to turn McClellan’s line. Stating his case, Lee withdraws, allowing the other officers to work out the plans which are approved. Jackson sips milk, refusing stronger libation, and lets Lee and the other division commanders do the talking. The timing of Lee’s offensive depends upon the speed of Jackson’s infantry, his fabled “foot cavalry.” He agrees to have them in position to attack early in the morning of June 26. With the decision, Jackson heads west again to hurry forward his indispensable three divisions.

Lee doesn’t know that his Federal adversary is also planning an attack—on a nearly identical schedule. McClellan’s bridges are built, the roads are drying, and he has reinforcements: 9,500 men transferred from McDowell’s army to Porter’s V Corps, plus seven regiments pulled from the defenses of Washington and Baltimore. The goal of McClellan’s attack, tentatively scheduled for June 26, is modest: He wants to move a mile or so westward toward Richmond and take Old Tavern, where the road north to New Bridge on the Chickahominy branches off from the Nine Mile Road. This will be his first real advance since the Battle of Seven Pines, or as the Federals call it, Fair Oaks. It would bring his siege guns a step closer to Richmond.
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June 24, Tuesday

Skirmishing increases at Mechanicsville, Virginia, just north of Richmond, as Confederates probe the Federal lines.

In North Carolina there is a reconnaissance from Washington to Tranter’s Creek; and near Grand Gulf, Mississippi, there is skirmishing at Hamilton’s Plantation.

President Davis tells General Van Dorn at Vicksburg, “The people will sustain you in your heroic determination, and may God bless you with success.”
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