Civil War Daily Gazette

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

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Sterling Price Organizes His Raid to Retake Missouri

Sterling Price might not be the best man for the job.

August 29, 1864 (Monday) Through the late spring and most of the summer, it seemed as if Richmond had completely forgotten about Missouri. But Sterling Price had not forgotten. He had spent most of the summer sorting information gathered by scouts he had sent into Missouri. In the meanwhile, Rebel guerrillas had been urged to raid Federal supply lines and outposts. But for the most part, the Confederate Army of Missouri did nothing, and it seemed as if the whole summer would slip by without a move. As the campaigns in the east turned in favor of the North, some ranking officers in the far reaches of the West urged Sterling Price to at least create some sort of diversion so that enemy troops might be sent into Missouri from Georgia or Virginia. It was a slip hope, but there was little more to lean upon. A cavalry raid was thus proposed. “If successful in maintaining itself,” wrote Governor Thomas Reynolds of Texas, “the cavalry might be re-enforced by infantry from Arkansas and by recruiting… Read More

‘Their Projected Campaign is a Failure’ – Grant and Sheridan Underestimate Early

Photo bombing General Sheridan.

August 28, 1864 (Sunday) General Grant was optimistic. Though the action around the Weldon Railroad south of Petersburg had been little more than a complete debacle, there might, he thought, be some good to come out of it. Late on August 26th, he wrote to Philip Sheridan to relay the good news. “Telegraphed you that I had good reason for believing that Fitz Lee had been ordered back here. I now think it likely that all troops will be ordered back from the valley except what they believe to be the minimum number to detain you. My reason for supposing this is based upon the fact that yielding up the Weldon road seems to be a blow to the enemy he cannot stand.” To his commander in the Shenandoah Valley, he figured that the Rebels had suffered as many as 10,000 casualties over the past two weeks. It was true, the Confederates had lost a number of troops, but General Lee wasn’t so ready to give up the Valley. He was more than happy to… Read More

‘The Enemy Has Taken Up a New Line’ – Hood Notices Sherman’s Absence

John Bell Hood by Andrew Waud

August 27, 1864 (Saturday) Just as General Sherman had unleashed his cavalry against to railroads south of Atlanta, John Bell Hood, commanding the Rebels nearly besieged in the city, did the same. When the Federal cavalry returned, they did so with tales of their destruction and promises that nothing would move along the line for ten days. Likewise, when Joe Wheeler’s Confederate riders returned to Hood, they arrived with tidings of wreckage and bridges burned. But it was not so. Neither side’s cavalry could do much damage against their enemies’ lines of supply. In Sherman’s case, he witnessed the inaccuracy the day after, and seeing the steam of the locomotives plumed to the south, he knew that he had to move with infantry. But Hood had no such evidence, and took Wheeler at his word, and possibly even believed the Yankees to be in retreat. But it was not so. For the better part of two days, Sherman’s Federals had been snaking to the west and then south of the city. It would take time… Read More

Catching Up with Sherman

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August 26, 1864 (Friday) Though he had dispatched much of his cavalry to destroy the Confederate lines of supply into Atlanta, they had failed him. Returning to camp on August 22nd, Judson Kilpatrick told William Sherman that he had destroyed at least three miles of track, which he reasoned would take ten days to repair. It was hoped that in those ten days, John Bell Hood’s Rebels, faced with the prospect of starvation, would abandon the city. But the very next, Sherman saw for himself that Southern ingenuity had won out and train upon train chuffed north into Atlanta. “I became more than ever convinced that cavalry could not or would not work hard enough to disable a railroad property,” wrote Sherman in his memoirs. The next day, it began. Sherman reported to Washington that his artillery bombardment had sent the city ablaze. “I will be all ready, and will commence the movement around Atlanta by the south, tomorrow night, and for some time you will hear little of us.” His plan was to leave… Read More

‘For God’s Sake, Do Not Run!’ – Union Defeat at Reams Station

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August 25, 1864 (Thursday) Hancock was alone. Reports had come in that “large bodies” of Confederate infantry were moving around the left flank of the Union Army before Petersburg. It was two divisions of Hancock’s Second Corps – separated by several miles of railroad – that held that flank. They had been tasked with tearing up the Weldon Railroad at Reams Station, south of the Globe Tavern where the Fifth Corps was entrenched. Though technically behind Union lines, they were greatly exposed to the west and south, and even the east, should the Rebels be so bold. Through the night, the reports were clarified. There were perhaps as many as 10,000 Rebels moving south from Petersburg. They were last seen before dark, which would place them in Hancock’s front by dawn. Hancock could field maybe 7,000 men, still fairly exhausted from the past week of fighting near Bermuda Hundred. But neither Generals Meade nor Grant seemed to consider ordered Hancock to withdraw. Neither were plans made to reinforce him. And at 5am, A.P. Hill issued… Read More

‘The Commanding General Cautions You To Look Out for Them’

Group of Federal generals: Winfield Scott Hancock (seated), with division commanders, Francis Channing Barlow, (left), David Bell Birney, and John Gibbon

August 24, 1864 (Wednesday) “If we can retain hold of the railroad it will be a great advantage,” wrote General Grant to General Meade on the morning of August 21st. And after days of fighting between Gouverneur K. Warren’s Fifth Corps and the Rebels south of Petersburg, it appeared as if their position would hold. The next day, Grant was convinced of this, and told Meade not to attack. If Warren could stand his ground, there was no need to throw his men against an entrenched foe. And if they held, Grant had another idea. Winfield Scott Hancock’s Second Corps had been in a week-long battle at Deep Bottom, between Richmond and Petersburg. With that scrap dying down and with other available units able to take their place, he ordered the entire corps several miles south of Warren’s position with the same purpose in mind – to destroy the railroad. Though the Confederate infantry had faded back and away from the railroad, the cavalry was still around in thick numbers. They sent their Northern counterparts… Read More

The Childish Surrender of Fort Morgan

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August 23, 1864 (Tuesday) “We are now tightening the cords around Fort Morgan,” wrote Admiral David Farragut on August 12, a week after the Battle of Mobile Bay. “Page is as surly as a bull-dog, and says he will die in the last ditch. He says he can hold out six months, and that we can’t knock his fort down.” Richard L. Page was indeed surly. “I am prepared to sacrifice life and will only surrender when I have no means of defense,” he replied to Farragut’s offer three days before. Both Forts Powell and Gaines had fallen in quick succession after the Federal Navy made its way into Mobile Bay. For Morgan was the largest and last standing. He fully believed that after the fall of Gaines, Morgan would be descended upon by the Yankees with everything they had. He and his men worked tirelessly preparing to receive the enemy. By the time it was finished, he surmised that his 400 men had basically built themselves an entirely new fort. For nearly a week,… Read More

Sheridan’s Retreat to Harpers Ferry

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August 22, 1864 (Monday) It took hardly any time at all for Jubal Early’s Confederates to learn that Philip Sheridan had retreated. From the summit of Three Top Mountain, the signal station peered north down the Shenandoah Valley. By the end of the 17th, the Rebels were close behind, driving the cavalry from Winchester. Sheridan had established a line of sorts near Clifton, three miles from Charles Town, and waited to see what the pursuing Southern army might do. Early had moved his command to Bunker Hill, north of Winchester, by the 19th, sending out his cavalry to Martinsburg and Shepherdstown in an attempt to find Sheridan. His infantry now included the reinforcements sent by Lee, and under the helm of Richard Anderson. which remained for a time near Winchester. But on the 20th, the Confederate cavalry stumbled upon the Union forces along the Opequon, running a course which divided Winchester from Harpers Ferry. It was now clear that the Federals had not continued north, but had retired in a more westerly direction. And so… Read More

‘And the Fury of Battle was Upon His Men’ – The Battle of Globe Tavern Renewed

William Mahone is pretty sure the line is here somewhere.

August 21, 1864 (Sunday) At 2am of the 21st of August the brigade was aroused,” wrote General Johnson Hagood, “and, moving out at half-past three, followed the column destined for the day’s engagement.” P.G.T. Beaurgard had taken all of the day previous to gather a stronger force and plan his attack against the entrenching Federal troops near Globe Tavern, south of Petersburg. His attack on the 19th had met with great initial success, and, he believed, that with more troops, they could carry the day and dislodge the Union troops from the vital Weldon Railroad. The plan for this morning mirrored the one from two days ago. One division, still under Henry Heth, would launch a frontal attack against the enemy line, while the other, still under William Mahone, would fall upon the left. Though the troops rose early and stepped off before dawn, it wasn’t until 9am when they were in position to make the assault. It was then that the atillery broke the silence, speaking with deathly effect. And then they came, gray… Read More

‘We Ought to Be Able to Hold Against Everything’ – Warren and Beauregard Prepare for Battle

General Beauregard

August 20, 1864 (Saturday) “Gen-earl Hill reports enemy still occupying part of railroad where he is fortifying,” wrote P.G.T. Beauregard to General Lee. “Am endeavoring to make necessary arrangements to dislodge him to-day, if practicable.” Beauregard’s five brigades hadn’t exactly been defeated the previous day, but neither did they hold the field. They mauled two entire divisions of Federal infantry, and though they were hungry for more, Beauregard grew cautious, almost wishing they would be gone from his front. Through the day, Beauregard would pull every man he could from the trenches, trying once more to throw together a striking force that might break the Union hold on the Weldon Railroad. General Lee knew that if the Federals were to be driven from the line, Beauregard would have to move with great haste. Otherwise, the enemy would build trenches where their impromptu breastworks were thrown together. But as the day continued on and further reports arrived concerning Union reinforcements, he grew less certain about making a successful attack. “Every available man who can be spared… Read More

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