Civil War Daily Gazette

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

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‘And Nothing Was Left But to Run For It’ – Price Forced into a Retreat from Missouri

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October 23, 1864 (Sunday) “I am confident I can stop [Sterling] Price at this crossing,” wrote Samuel Curtis to William Rosecrans, “and hope you will come up in his rear and left. [...] If you can get that position we will bag Price, if I succeed, as I hope to do.” For days now, Rosecrans, roughly 7,000-strong, had been closing in on Price and his 8,000 men, but it was James Blunt and Samuel Curtis, along with Alfred Pleasonton’s cavalry, who were battling the Rebels directly, as they made their way into and through Missouri. Curtis had arrayed his forces at right angles to a road leading to Westport, the road itself bisecting his lines. On the right was General Blunt, and on the left was General George Deitzler, a Pennsylvanian who had moved to Kansas years before the war, becoming a politician and later an officer. Before Curtis’ Army of the Border, numbering 15,000 or so, was Brush Creek, which flowed east into the Big Blue River. At Byram’s Ford on that same river,… Read More

Catching Up with Sterling Price

Onward with Price!

October 22, 1864 (Saturday) Meanwhile, in Missouri, Sterling Price and his army were on a bit of a tramp. Leaving Camden, Arkansas at the end of August, his Army of Missouri entered their namesake in the middle of September, met only by scant flashes of Unionist militia. Their original objective had been St. Louis, but before long, it was clear that it was untouchable. There were battles as Union commanders Andrew Smith and Alfred Pleasonton tried to pull troops together to meet this unexpected threat. On September 27th, Price pushed the Yankees back at Pilot Knob, eventually taking Fort Davidson, but only after suffering severe casualties. He was, however, undaunted, and shifted his march northwest toward Boonville, where his men took to looting and were finally caught by a pursuing northern force. A minor scrap, it kept Price moving. It was then that Price divided his forces, sending General Joe Shelby toward Glasgow to capture supplies. They shelled the town in the early hours of October 15th, advancing what infantry they had a few hours… Read More

Beauregard Easily ‘Convinced’ of Hood’s Plan

Beauregard the figurehead.

October 21, 1864 (Friday) General P.G.T. Beauregard had been looking for John Bell Hood and his army – finally locating them at Gadsden, Alabama, and riding to meet with him on this date. Arriving at 11am, the two generals discussed the potential campaign. Hood was completely certain that falling upon the Federal lines of supply running from Nashville to Atlanta would compel all or part of Sherman’s army to vacate Atlanta and follow him into middle Tennessee. At least, that’s how it was presented to Beauregard. Hood had otherwise expressed a desire to see Sherman continue on through Georgia to the sea, while his own Rebel army destroyed everything Federal in Tennessee. Beauregard, however, was unconvinced that Hood could pull it off. When he looked over Hood’s short career as an army commander, Beauregard was little impressed with what he saw. Nevertheless, he acquiesced. This was probably a good thing as Hood had already set his plan in motion. The only real problem was the lack of a supply line. Beauregard had spent the better… Read More

John Bell Hood’s Incredibly Ambitious Plan

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October 20, 1864 (Thursday) “I shall pursue him as far as Gaylesville,” wrote William Tecumseh Sherman of John Bell Hood and his Confederate army. “The enemy will not venture toward Tennessee except around by Decatur.” Hood’s strange raid upon Sherman’s supply lines had more or less crested, with the Rebels marching south, leaving Sherman somewhat confused as to what just happened. This was merely a distraction to the Union commander, who wanted nothing more than to abandon Atlanta and march across Georgia to the sea. “I propose to send the Fourth Corps back to General Thomas [in Chattanooga], and leave him, with that corps, the garrisons, and new troops, to defend the line of the Tennessee River; and with the rest I will push into the heart of Georgia and come out at Savannah, destroying all the railroads of the State.” In another letter, drafted that same day, Sherman admitted, “Hood will escape me. I want to prepare for my big raid. On the 1st of November I want nothing in Atlanta but what is… Read More

‘The Yankees Got Whipped, and We Got Scared’ – The Battle of Cedar Creek

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“The moon was was now shining and we could see the camps,” Confederate commander, Jubal Early wrote after the war. “The division was halted under cover to await the arrival of the proper time, and I pointed out to Kershaw, and the commander of his leading brigade the enemy’s position, and described the nature of the ground, and directed them how the attack was to be made and followed up.” “A light mist hung over the creek and river,” wrote Jedediah Hotchkiss in his journal. “Soon we heard Rosser driving in the pickets on the left, then Gordon on the right, then Kershaw advanced across Cedar Creek in gallant style, and in almost a moment he was going up the hill and over the breastworks. A few flashes of musketry, a few shots of artillery , and he had the works, guns and all, surprising the enemy, though they had sounded the reveille in many parts of their camps before we attacked.” “At about 4:30am the enemy advanced in heavy force against the works of… Read More

‘Fixed Upon a Plan of Attack’ – Early to Commit Everything to Battle

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October 18, 1864 (Tuesday) “As I was not strong enough to attack the fortified position in front,” wrote Jubal Early in his memoirs, “I determined to get around one of the enemy’s flanks and attack him by surprise if I could.” Early’s men were grossly outnumbered, and it would only be by surprise that he might stand a chance of besting Philip Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah, now entrenched behind Cedar Creek. The day previous, Early had sent topographer Jedediah Hotchkiss, along with Generals John Gordon and Clement Evans, to Three Top Mountain to peer over the Federal position. “I made a map of the position,” wrote Hotchkiss in his journal, “and General Gordon and myself fixed upon a plan of attack to suggest to General Early, which we discussed fully as we came back.” But they were late in returning, and little was discussed on the 17th. Also out on a mission of reconnoitering was General John Pegram. He was just as convinced as Hotchkiss that an attack upon the lines over which he… Read More

‘And We Will Crush Sheridan’ – Catching Up with the Shenandoah Valley

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October 17, 1864 (Monday) Since last we left the Shenandoah Valley, Philip Sheridan’s Union Army of the Shenandoah had crossed to the northerly side of Cedar Creek to more or less hunker down. Sheridan, feeling Jubal Early was less of a threat than ever before, began to select troops to leave his own army and to join Generals Grant and Meade before Petersburg and Richmond. Namely, this was the Sixth Corps, helmed by Horatio Wright, and on the 10th it struck out for Front Royal and a round-about tramp to the Confederate capital. But there it was paused for two days as Sheridan and Washington sorted things out. But since Jubal Early’s infantry had been silent and still for an entire week, Sheridan believed them whipped and ordered the Sixth Corps to resume its march with a stopover in Washington. But they were indeed on the march. On the 12th, Early stabbed northward, marching quickly enough to be a mile or two away from the Federal camps along Cedar Creek by mid-morning of the 13th.… Read More

‘In Serious Thought and Perplexity’ – Hood Decides to Slip Away (And That’s About It)

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October 16, 1864 (Sunday) In the thinking of John Bell Hood (or at least in Hood’s post-war surmisings), his mission was complete. Though he had lost Atlanta, and though that same city was still under Federal control, he had managed to pull William Tecumseh Sherman’s massive army back to the same position it held in May. This was quite a feat, especially if one ignores the fact that, save the temporary occupation of Dalton and the destruction of several lengths of railroad, Sherman’s Federals still controlled everything from Chattanooga to Atlanta. Still, it was an impressive and bold move, wrought perhaps from desperation, though no less effective than reacting to whatever Sherman might do next. Hood’s only regret was that it did not happen sooner, say, Spring of 1864 when James Longstreet had suggested such a move that would take a gigantic Rebel army to the banks of the Ohio. But her he was, nearly 100 miles north of Atlanta, and but forty from the Tennessee line. Sherman, however, was closing in – mostly from… Read More

‘The Infantry Did Not Cease Its March for a Moment’ – Sherman Pursues Hood

Oliver Otis Howard will follow you home.

October 15, 1864 (Saturday) With a now more positive idea where John Bell Hood’s Confederates were marching, William Tecumseh Sherman sent his men north from Rome. Hood had attacked Resaca and captured Dalton and to those towns, he pointed the troops in that direction. Sherman had arrived in Resaca on the day previous and was determined to his Hood in the flank. To try and force Hood’s hand, Sherman made several moves. Starting from Resaca, the Army of Tennessee, consisting of three corps commanded by Olive Otis Howard, was to march west over the Chattanooga Mountains via Snake Creek Gap, “approaching carefully and holding his column ready to pass through when relieved by General Stanley’s movement.” General David Stanley, commanding part of the Army of the Cumberland (basically two corps), was to cross over the mountains two miles north of Snake Creek Gap “somewhere south of Tilton,” as Sherman’s orders went, “and if possible find a way across into he valley beyond toward Villanow.” Just how they were supposed to relieve Howard’s Army of the… Read More

Fighting for Glory, Not For Spoils – Mosby’s Greenback Raid

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October 14, 1864 (Friday) In the legends that surround John Singleton Mosby, few are quite as legendary as the Greenback Raid. It was, more or less, your typical train robbery, though, no doubt, the story grew in the telling. The fact surrounding it are available in any number of books about Mosby and his men, but my favorite telling is from John Henry Alexander’s Mosby’s Men. His writing is beautifully humorous and almost makes Mosby’s place in the war fully separate from the war itself (which, of course, it was not). It’s almost fantasy, but it’s a book that should be read – it’s one of my favorites. Here is an excerpt of Alexander’s take on the Greenback Raid: Presently I heard the train coming and I hurried around waking up the boys. I then went back to my place and watched and listened to the thumping of my heart. Nearer and louder came the sounds and quicker beat my pulses. Directly the headlight of the engine shot around a curve not far off, and… Read More

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