Civil War Daily Gazette

A Day-By-Day Accounting of the Conflict, 150 Years Later

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‘Hood Cannot Get the Start of Me’ – Schofield Prepares His Defenses

Schofield will just sit down and wait for Hood.

November 24, 1864 (Thursday – Thanksgiving) Jacob Cox, commanding the Twenty-Third Corps, Army of the Ohio, found himself marching north toward Columbia, Tennessee, along the Duck River. The weather was dark and cold and this was hardly the day for such a tramp. But it was timely. As they arrived near Columbia, around 7:30am, they were able to beat back a large body of Rebel cavalry that was assaulting the small clutch of Federals guarding the city. Cox’s men interposed themselves between their retreating comrades and the Southern cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest. “It was close work all around,” wrote Cox after the war. “My men deployed at double-quick along the bank of the creek, and after a brisk skirmish Forrest withdrew out of range.” As the battle ended, even more Federal infantry arrived, securing the city from almost any amount of cavalry. But John Bell Hood’s Confederate infantry, thought Cox, might not be far behind. John Schofield, who commanded the army, arrived around noon, and did his best not to panic, though his series… Read More

Hood’s Forces Divided, Wanders His Way North Toward Columbia

I'm glad I got to use this again - though, of course, it's no longer infantry...

November 23, 1864 (Wednesday) The Federal encampment in Pulaski, Tennessee was one of waiting. Situated northeast of John Bell Hood’s position in Florance, on the Tennessee River, it was in a perfect position to intercept the Rebel army whether it moved north to Columbia on the Duck River or to receive battle itself if Hood struck towards it. Though nobody knew for certain which way Hood’s beard would point, the camp was absolutely temporary. Putting down roots when Hood was so clearly about to make his move would be folly. For this, the troops paid in comfort. “During the week we were at Pulaski,” wrote Jacob Cox, commanding the Twenty-third Corps, “the rain had made our camp anything but a pleasant one, yet, as we were daily in expectation of Hood’s advance, we could do nothing to improve our shelter or the means of warming our tents. The forests were near enough to furning us the fuel for rousing camp-fires, and we made the most of them. At night I fastened back the flaps of… Read More

Sherman Burns Cobb’s Plantation, Enters Georgia Capital

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November 22, 1864 (Tuesday) For a time now, the weather had carried with it the expected November chill. But on the morning of this date, even that seemed warm and comforting as the mercury plummeted and the winds howled against the Federals marching in Sherman’s Left Wing. Under the helm of General Henry Slocum, they had wound their way from Atlanta, and were just now nearing Georgia’s capital, Milledgeville. The Left, as the Right, was divided into two corps – the Fourteenth and Twentieth. They had never really moved in a cohesive unit as one had left the city a day later than the other. Around 4pm, William Tecumseh Sherman had ridden forward, leaving the lagging Fourteenth Corps, and coming upon the lead of the Twentieth. Jefferson C. Davis, unfortunately named, but usually a fine commander, had placed the encampment of his lead division in what seemed to Sherman an odd location. “There was a high, raw wind blowing,” recalled Sherman in his memoirs, “and I asked him why he had chosen to cold and… Read More

Hood Finally Begins His March

Hood wasn't expected Schofield.

November 21, 1864 (Monday) “Push on active offensive immediately,” wrote General P.G.T. Beauregard to John Bell Hood. All was now ready for Hood to make his northerly advance into Tennessee. The same day Beauregard had sent the message, Hood brought his last corps across the Tennessee River in preparation for the campaign’s first march. “Early dawn of the 21st found the Army in motion,” he related in his memoirs. “I hoped by a rapid march to get in rear of [John] Schofield’s forces, then at Pulaski, before they were able to reach Duck river.” In the years after the war, Hood painting this ordeal as a race between his own army and Schofield’s corps to Columbia, Tennessee. However, the pace he set on the march told a much different story. Also, at the time his army stepped off, he believed Schofield to be unmoving and still in Pulaski. This was the case, yet it would not be for long as Schofield would was ready to issue marching orders as soon as he learned that Hood… Read More

Wheeler Meets the Enemy – Sherman Does Not Notice

Smith Atkins to the front!

November 20, 1864 (Sunday) When Joseph Wheeler, the Confederate cavalry commander in Georgia, arrived in Macon the night previous, he found William Hardee, freshly arrived from Charleston. Now in command of the department, Hardee directed Wheeler to move with his force at daylight toward the town of Clinton to “ascertain the enemy’s force and location.” As Wheeler was readying his men, now in line around Macon, his flanks were pecked by small bands of Union troopers. This caused him a bit of delay, but after swatting them away, he mounted his command and rode through thick fog to the town of Clinton. There, he found no cavalry, but instead an entire corps of Union infantry, which he nearly stumbled into through the dim. “Six men dashed into the town,” wrote Wheeler in his report, “and captured General [Peter] Osterhaus’ servant (an enlisted man) within twenty feet of General Osterhaus’ headquarters.” Though he had not seen them at first, Union cavalry, under Judson Kilpatrick, were at hand. “A regiment of the enemy’s cavalry charged us,” he… Read More

Georgia Locals and Convalescents Arise to Meet Sherman’s Invasion

William Hardee wrote the book and made the hat. He'll save Georgia for sure!

November 19, 1864 (Saturday) While Hood whiled away the days along the Tennessee River, the rest of the Confederacy was doing all they could to throw something – anything – at the advancing Federal army under William Tecumseh Sherman. The day previous, President Jefferson Davis wrote to General Howell Cobb, commanding infantry in Macon, Georgia, along Sherman’s path. Cobb was to “endeavor to get out every man who can render any service, even for a short period of time, and employ negroes in obstructing roads by every practical means.” Whether Davis meant that Cobb was to employ “negroes” by every practical means or that they were obstruct the roads by every practical means wasn’t clear. Davis trusted that since Hood refused to send Cobb reinforcements, that William Hardee, commanding in Charleston, South Carolina, and Richard Taylor, out of Selma, Alabama would be able to pitch in. Growing darker, Davis brought up Col. Gabriel Rains, who could furnish Cobb “with shells prepared to explode by pressure, and these will be effective to check an advance.” He… Read More

‘Take the Offensive at the Earliest Practicable Moment’ – Hood Almost Ready

John Bell Hood still has the slows.

November 18, 1864 (Friday) Though William Tecumseh Sherman’s army had been on the march for a few days now, it took these few days for the news to reach John Bell Hood, still wallowing along the Tennessee River near Florence and Tuscumbia. For quite a long time, information held that Sherman was moving north, retracing his route back toward Chattanooga. Other scouts reported that the Federals were on their way south to Mobile. Still more had Sherman now blocking Hood’s planned path into Middle Tennessee. On the 15th and 16th, some foretelling of Sherman’s march came from Joseph Wheeler’s cavalry, but it wasn’t until this date that Hood knew for sure. Trying to get Hood to do something, P.G.T. Beauregard, now headquartered in Corinth, kept him abreast of every rumor and word. The day previous, he had heard again from Wheeler that Sherman had four corps, and on this day, he requested that Hood send some troops to Wheeler. Beauregard also learned that “the enemy are turning their columns on the shortest route to Macon.”… Read More

‘By the Spectacle of Our Divisions’ – Davis Stamps Out Some States Rights Fires

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November 17, 1864 (Thursday) With William Tecumseh Sherman about to march through Georgia, the state’s senators were understandably concerned. So much were they, that some wrote and signed the “Resolutions on the Subject of Independence and Peace.” While these were not passed, their very existence undermined the entire concept of a united South. Basically, they put forward that it was the individual states, and not the Confederate government, that should sue for peace. Specifically, they wished that a peace convention would “treat for peace through the medium of a convention of States.” If this idea caught on, Davis and his more-Federal-than-not government would essentially be abandoned. It was not just Georgia’s senators, but Governor Joseph Brown, as well as Confederate Vice-President, Alexander Stephens. And so, a few senators took it upon themselves to inform their President, who, upon this date, wrote a fairly lengthy rebuttal. “The immediate and inevitable tendency of such distinct action by each State is to create discordant instead of united counsels,” wrote Davis at the start of his reply, “to suggest… Read More

‘The Wild Adventure of a Crazy Fool’ – Sherman Recalls His First Day on the March

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November 16, 1864 (Wednesday) From William Tecumseh Sherman’s Memoirs…. About 7 A. M. of November 16th we rode out of Atlanta by the Decatur road, filled by the marching troops and wagons of the Fourteenth Corps; and reaching the hill, just outside of the old rebel works, we naturally paused to look back upon the scenes of our past battles. We stood upon the very ground whereon was fought the bloody battle of July 22d, and could see the copse of wood where McPherson fell. Behind us lay Atlanta, smoldering and in ruins, the black smoke rising high in air, and hanging like a pall over the ruined city. Away off in the distance, on the McDonough road, was the rear of Howard’s column, the gun-barrels glistening in the sun, the white-topped wagons stretching away to the south ; and right before us the Fourteenth Corps, marching steadily and rapidly, with a cheery look and swinging pace, that made light of the thousand miles that lay between us and Richmond. Some band, by accident, struck… Read More

‘I Will Endeavor to Give them a Warm Reception’ – Sherman’s Host Steps Off

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November 15, 1864 (Tuesday) Judson Kilpatrick was considered by many to be a brash and reckless officer, having little regard for the ultimate safety of his own men. When in battle, his mood turned fey, and few who knew his work could ask “have you ever seen a dead cavalryman?” And because of this, he was known widely as Judson Kill-cavalry – not for the dead of the enemy left on the field of battle, but for the lives of his command he sacrificed to sometimes questionable ends. And it was all of this that shifted him from a division commander in the East to the head of Sherman’s cavalry in the West. Perhaps there was no other better suited to the position. He Kilpatrick had arrived in Atlanta the day previous, leading his 5,500. There, he was informed by Sherman that he would set course for Georgia’s capitol, Milledgeville. His command would shield the Right Wing of the army, and he would make feinting stabs towards the town of Forsyth before crossing the Ocumlgee… Read More

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