This Week in the American Civil War: July 27-August 2, 1864

Posted by: on Jul 28, 2014 | No Comments

Information courtesy of the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force
Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday July 27, 1864
After deciding to lay a partial siege to Atlanta, Federal Major General William T. Sherman sent out several cavalry expeditions to cut the railroads to the south of the city and to harass the Confederates.

Federal Major General Oliver Otis Howard assumed command of the Army of the Tennessee, succeeding Major General John A. Logan, who had temporarily succeeded Major General James B. McPherson, who was killed in the Battle of Atlanta.

Thursday July 28, 1864
BATTLES OF KILLDEER MOUNTAIN AND EZRA CHURCH
Federal Brigadier General Alfred Sully, commander of the District of Iowa as part of Major General John Pope’s Army of the Northwest, engaged 1,600 Dakota Indians at Killdeer Mountain in Dakota Territory as punishment from the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War in Minnesota. Sully formed his forces in a hollow square, which enabled him to fend of several attacks to his flanks and rear. Realizing that Sully’s forces would not be defeated, the Dakota retreated to protect their women and children. Of the 2,200 troops engaged under Sully’s command, three were killed and ten wounded. Dakota suffered 31 casualties in the battle.

In Georgia, as several cavalry raids were underway near Atlanta, Federal Major General William T. Sherman sought to extend his siege lines by sending infantry to the western borders of the city towards the important railroad outlets on the south. Confederate troops attacked well-entrenched Federals at Ezra Church. They fought from early afternoon until dark before the Confederates withdrew into the fortifications at Atlanta. While the Federals lost just under six hundred casualties, the Confederate losses amounted to a staggering five thousand.

Friday July 29, 1864
A Federal expedition at Petersburg, Virginia forced a shift of some Confederate units away from the lines as the mining operations neared completion. Federal Major General Ambrose Burnside moved troops from his Ninth Corps into position for an attack planned for the next day.

On the Atlanta front, Federal cavalry fought Confederates at Lovejoy’s Station and Smith’s Crossroads in their efforts to wreck the vital southern railroads.

Saturday July 30, 1864
BATTLE OF THE MINE
For more than a month, members of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry dug a 586-foot long tunnel under the 400 feet of no-man’s land between the Federal and Confederate lines at Elliott’s Salient on the eastern side of the siege lines at Petersburg, Virginia. Approximately 278 Confederates were killed when the blast went off around 5 a.m. A hole 170 feet long, 70 feet wide and 30 feet deep was left in its wake. However, when the Federal Ninth Corps commenced its attack, Confederate units were able to regroup and repulse the advance. By 8:30 a.m., nearly 15,000 Federals, a line similar in size to the Confederate’s famed “Pickett’s Charge” at Gettysburg, were in the area of the mine. By early afternoon, the Federals were ordered back. The Confederate’s lost around 1,500 killed and wounded in the attack while the Federals paid a high cost of 4,000 casualties.

Confederate cavalry under Lieutenant General Jubal Early entered Pennsylvania once again and demanded $500,000 in currency or $100,000 in gold from the citizens of Chambersburg in reparations for Federal Major General David Hunter’s depredations in the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia. Since the citizens could not raise such a sum under a short deadline, Chambersburg was set on fire.

Sunday July 31, 1864
Confederate cavalry, after burning Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, was now fully occupied by Brigadier General William W. Averill’s pursing Federal cavalry. Averill attacked at Hancock, Maryland on the Potomac River, forcing the Confederates to head to Cumberland, Maryland.

At City Point, Virginia, President Abraham Lincoln held a five-hour conference with Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant before heading back to Washington. Meanwhile, at Petersburg, the lines were being reformed by both sides after the previous day’s Battle of the Mine.

Monday August 1, 1864
Confederate forces under Lieutenant General Jubal Early continued to threaten Federals in the Shenandoah River Valley. However, the Federals named Major General Philip H. Sheridan as the new commander of the Army of the Shenandoah with the task of ridding the valley of Early and all Confederates.

In the Petersburg, Virginia-area, the siege continued with a skirmish at Deep Bottom, Virginia, amid indications that Federal Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant would attempt to cut the railroads that were still bringing supplies to Richmond, the Confederate capital.

Tuesday August 2, 1864
Confederate cavalry tangled with Federals again at Hancock, Maryland, as they sought to re-cross the Potomac River after their Chambersburg, Pennsylvania raid. Skirmishing on this front occurred at Old Town, Maryland and at Green Spring Run, West Virginia.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of July 27 – August 2, 1864
Active units:
1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Participated in Siege of Petersburg, Virginia until April 2, 1865.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Assigned as provost and depot guard at Marietta, Georgia until Aug. 19, 1864.

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

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Allatoona, Georgia until October 5, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Veterans on furlough until Aug. 17, 1864. Remainder of regiment remained at Memphis, Tennessee for duty.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Helena, Arkansas until Nov. 4, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Memphis, Tennessee until August 1, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Battle of Killdeer Mountain, Dakota Territory, while on Sully’s Expedition to Dakota Territory until October 15, 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Memphis, Tennessee until August 1, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Memphis, Tennessee until August 1, 1864.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – Participated in the Battle of Killdeer Mountain, Dakota Territory while on Sully’s Expedition to Dakota Territory until October 15, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – Participated in the Battle of Killdeer Mountain, Dakota Territory while on Sully’s Expedition to Dakota Territory until November 10, 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 – On duty for the Siege of Atlanta until August 25, 1864.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Mounted and engaged in scouting duty around Chattanooga, Tennessee until October 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Participated in the Battle of Killdeer Mountain, Dakota Territory while on Sully’s Expedition to Dakota Territory until October 15, 1864.

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I – Attached to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry at Petersburg, Virginia until Feb. 20, 1865.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the Siege of Petersburg until Feb. 20, 1865.

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

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

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

Posted by: on Jul 21, 2014 | No Comments

Information courtesy of the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force
Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday July 20, 1864
BATTLE OF PEACHTREE CREEK, GEORGIA
Major General George H. Thomas led his Federal Army of the Cumberland over Peachtree Creek heading towards the fortifications of Atlanta, from the north. Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood decided to attack, although there were delays of over three hours. After some success, the fierce Southern assaults failed. Thomas and his men steadfastly held off the frantic Confederates, who charged for about two hours. Approximately 20,000 Federals were engaged with 1,779 killed, wounded and missing. Hood’s Confederates faced losses of 4,796 out of roughly the same number engaged. Hood, who was not present at the battle, failed his first big test in command.

Other action occurred at Leggett’s Hill, Decatur, Flint Hill Church and Howard House, Georgia; Newtown Philomont and Berryville, Virginia; Blount County, Tennessee; and at Arrow Rock, Missouri.

Thursday July 21, 1864
Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood sent Lieutenant General William J. Hardee’s reinforced corps out of Atlanta on a fifteen-mile night march to the south and then east, to attack the flank and rear of Federal Major General James B. McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee between Atlanta and Decatur. Hood placed the blame of the previous day’s failure at Peachtree Creek squarely on Hardee’s shoulders. Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s three armies were all closing in on the city of Atlanta, making Hardee’s efforts futile. McPherson’s army assaulted Confederate positions on Leggett’s Hill, taking the position despite a valiant defense by Major General Patrick Cleburne’s troops. From the hill, the Federals had a full view of Atlanta.

Friday July 22, 1864
BATTLE OF ATLANTA
After the tiring, hot, night march, Lieutenant General William J. Hardee’s Confederates hit the right flank of Major General James B. McPherson’s Federals between Decatur and Atlanta. During the hard fought battle, Confederate Major General William Henry Talbot Walker and Federal Major General McPherson were both killed in action during the battle, which took place on the city’s east side. The Federals had an effective strength of 34,863 and took casualties amounting to 3,641 killed, wounded and missing. The Confederates engaged 40,438 and took an aggregate loss of approximately 5,500. Fighting took place at the fringes of the battle at Decatur and at Beachtown, along the Chattahoochee River. The Confederates still held Atlanta proper, but the Federals ringed it with unrelenting force. The Siege of Atlanta had now begun.

Saturday July 23, 1864
Both Federal and Confederate forces in Atlanta rested and repaired their damages from the previous day’s battle and cared for the dying and wounded. The only fighting in the area was a skirmish at Sweetwater, Georgia.

The Louisiana Constitutional Convention adopted a constitution which included an end to slavery, one of the steps necessary to restoring Louisiana to the Union. It would not be ratified for six weeks.

Sunday July 24, 1864
SECOND BATTLE OF KERNSTOWN
Marching north on the Valley Pike, Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s entire army headed towards Kernstown, south of Winchester, where Federal Brigadier General George Crook’s Army of West Virginia was in position on the same ground which Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson had struck in 1862 at the First Battle of Kernstown. After a strong initial attack by Early’s forces, Crook became impatient by his divisional commander’s reluctance to attack the Confederate position. Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes, who would later serve as the 19th President of the United States, brought his division up to support the advance, but its flank was slammed by Confederate Major General John C. Breckinridge’s troops who were hiding in a ravine. Hayes’s division took major casualties and retreated back to Winchester. Brigadier General William W. Averill’s Federal cavalry attempted to counterattack the Confederates but were surprised by Confederate cavalry under Brigadier General John C. Vaughn. Most of the Federal troops, disconnected from their units, spent the night in the rain, scattered across the countryside while trying to evade capture.

Monday July 25, 1864
Confederate Lieutenant General Jubal Early’s Confederates, in the northern Shenandoah River Valley, followed Federal Brigadier General George Crook’s Army of West Virginia in a heavy rain to Bunker Hill, north of Winchester, Virginia. Fighting erupted at Bunker Hill, Williamsport, Maryland; and at Martinsburg, West Virginia. The Federals were forced to camp on the banks of the Potomac River.

Tuesday July 26, 1864
Federal cavalry under Major General George Stoneman left on a raid from the Atlanta area towards Macon, Georgia. Skirmishing also flared near Decatur on the Atlanta front.

Confederates under Lieutenant General Jubal Early pursued Brigadier General George Crook’s Federals at Falling Waters, West Virginia and at Muddy Branch, Maryland. Crook’s command was attempting to cross into Maryland. Early’s troops then began breaking up the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad near Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Indian scouts under Brigadier General Alfred Sully engaged approximately 30 Dakota warriors near modern-day Richardson, North Dakota as part of Sully’s Expedition in Dakota Territory.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of July 20-26, 1864
Active units:
1st Battalion Minnesota Infantry – Participated in Siege of Petersburg, Virginia until April 2, 1865.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Assigned as provost and depot guard at Marietta, Georgia until Aug. 19, 1864.

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

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Allatoona, Georgia until October 5, 1864.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Veterans on furlough until Aug. 17, 1864. Remainder of regiment remained at Memphis, Tennessee for duty.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Helena, Arkansas until Nov. 4, 1864.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty in Memphis, Tennessee until August 1, 1864.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On Sully’s Expedition to Dakota Territory until October 15, 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Memphis, Tennessee until August 1, 1864.

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Memphis, Tennessee until August 1, 1864.

2nd Regiment Minnesota Cavalry – On Sully’s Expedition to Dakota Territory until October 15, 1864.

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On Sully’s Expedition to Dakota Territory until November 10, 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 – On duty for the Siege of Atlanta until August 25, 1864.

2nd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – Mounted and engaged in scouting duty around Chattanooga, Tennessee until October 1864.

3rd Independent Battery Minnesota Light Artillery – On Sully’s Expedition to Dakota Territory until October 15, 1864.

1st United States Sharpshooters Company I – Attached to the 1st Battalion, Minnesota Infantry at Petersburg, Virginia until Feb. 20, 1865.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Participated in the Siege of Petersburg until Feb. 20, 1865.

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

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