Civil War Daily Gazette

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

‘Kentucky & Tennessee ’62’

The Splendid Rebel Plan to Retake Corinth

Earl Van Dorn: Relax! My whispy quaff will lead us to victory!

September 28, 1862 (Sunday) Sterling Price wasn’t an unreasonable man, it’s just that he didn’t believe a word Earl Van Dorn was saying. Following the strange battle of Iuka, Sterling Price and his army slipped away from Union forces under General Grant. Their move took them southwest, on a track to join up with Van Dorn’s army at Ripley, Mississippi. The tramp to join their comrades was a trying one, with heavy rains, bad roads, little sleep, and even an earthquake. On top of this, there was quite a bit of apprehension over joining with Van Dorn, who would be in charge of the entire show. Price’s chief-of-staff, Major Thomas Snead, even tried to resign. Thankfully, Price was able to play the patriotism card to convince him to stay. Finally, on this date, they arrived and heard Van Dorn’s plan. The idea was a move on Corinth, the railroad city that General Beauregard once defended (and abandoned) against 120,000 Yankees. Now, claimed Van Dorn, it was lightly defended and ripe for the picking. If Corinth… Read More

The Armies Slip from Buell and Bragg in Kentucky

Approximate map is approximate.

September 25, 1862 (Thursday) Confederate General Braxton Bragg was tired. His grand scheme was crumbling. Originally, he wanted Generals Earl Van Dorn and Sterling Price to join him with Kirby Smith’s troops in Middle Tennessee. Somehow or another it had all gotten away from him. Somehow, this grand army had turned into three, maybe four, individual forces separated by hundreds of miles. He was in Kentucky and even the most simple link up – with Smith following his capture of Lexington – had gone awry. The situation had spiraled out of his control. The late summer and early autumn of 1862 in Kentucky were quite an exciting time. Two major cities, Louisville, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio were the apparent targets of two large Rebel forces under Braxton Bragg and Kirby Smith. While Smith had seriously threatened the Ohio city, he never made an attack. The focus then turned to Lousiville, as the general Federal consensus believed Bragg to be headed there. The Union Army of the Ohio, 50,000-strong under Don Carlos Buell, had made a… Read More

Race to Louisville? What Race to Louisville?

New approximate map.

September 21, 1862 (Sunday) After capturing the Union garrison at Munfordville, Kentucky, Confederate General Bragg’s Army of Mississippi seemingly cut off the Union Army of the Ohio from Louisville, where Bragg believed the Federals under General Don Carlos Buell were headed. Here, Bragg was faced with a choice. He could dive his 26,000 men back south to Nashville, easily capturing the city, or he could hold Munfordville. If he chose Nashville, he would hold Middle Tennessee, his original objective. It would also allow him to link up with the combining armies under Sterling Price and Earl Van Dorn, somewhere in the vicinity of Corinth, Mississippi. This would leave Kirby Smith’s Confederate force at Lexington completely isolated. If he chose to hold Munfordville, he would have to fight Buell, who numbered upwards of 40,000. Though Bragg was fairly confident that his defenses were solid, he also believed Buell greatly outnumbered him. Whatever reinforcements Bragg would receive would come from Kirby Smith at Lexington, around 100 miles away. They would probably not arrive in time. Attacking Louisville… Read More

At Antietam, The Enemy Remains; Catching Up with the West

Approximate map.

September 18, 1862 (Thursday) When Confederate General John Bell Hood looked across the fields of Antietam, he saw that the enemy was still there. He, as well as Stonewall Jackson, wished they had retreated. The result of the previous day’s battle – the bloodiest single-day of fighting in the war – was inconclusive. The Federal attacks were met and repulsed in many places. There was even the daring last minute arrival by A.P. Hill’s Division to throw back the final Union assault. But if both sides were still in position, there was no winner, and perhaps the battle was not yet over. General Robert E. Lee had called together his officers following the last repulse to come to some conclusion over what to do. Attack? Hold? Retreat? Though Stonewall Jackson wanted to attack, it was impossible. One-third of the Army of Northern Virginia was dead or wounded. Retreat, however, was hardly an option. The army was small, but Lee knew that it could hold out against whatever the Federals threw at it. Union General George… Read More

Confederates Funnel Towards Harpers Ferry; Grant Perplexed by Mississippi Rebels

General Julius White and Staff

September 11, 1862 (Thursday) As three Confederate columns picked their way through western Maryland and along the Potomac River towards Harpers Ferry, Col. Dixon Miles, commanding the Union forces garrisoning the town, was in denial. The previous day, a small company of his cavalry brushed into the Rebels at Boonsboro and their report suggested Harpers Ferry was their destination. Miles heard other reports that placed enemy troops on the road to Sharpsburg, but even with that he just assumed they were simply foraging parties. “I cannot learn he has any disposition to advance this way,” he reported. Nevertheless, he made some preliminary efforts just in case, ordering the ferry boats to be burned at Shepherdstown if it had to be abandoned. He also conceded that if the Rebels were going to attack, they would do so through Solomon’s Gap, four miles north of Maryland Heights – a pass that he had earlier refused to fortify. None of his guns on Maryland Heights [the fortified eminence just east of Harpers Ferry] could hit Solomon’s Gap.1 That… Read More

Lee’s Divided Army on the Move Through Maryland!; Lincoln Wonders About the West

Large and approximate, here is today's map!

September 10, 1862 (Wednesday) Stonewall Jackson wasn’t exactly lying. While his men rose and began their march, he casually asked several citizens of Frederick, Maryland the best way to get to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He asked for maps and inquired about towns far to the north in the Keystone State. The people of Frederick, by this time, probably believed that the entire Rebel army was about to cross the Mason-Dixon line. Used to Jackson’s secretive ways, however, his staff should have known by now that, though they could not tell where Stonewall was going, Chambersburg was most definitely not the place. Perhaps the General was simply curious.1 The Confederates headed west, along the same road British General Braddock British General Edward Braddock and Lt. Colonel George Washington trod during the French and Indian War in 1755. Jackson, who, according to Lee’s Special Orders No. 191, was to turn off at Middletown, led the column towards Boonsboro, through the South Mountain pass at Turner’s Gap.2 Originally, Jackson wanted to march through Sharpsburg and then through Shepherdstown, by-passing… Read More

The South ‘Transfers the Seat of War’ to the North

Confederate peace commissioners sent by the CSA in 1861.

September 7, 1862 (Sunday) To win the war, all the Confederate States had to do was simply not lose. They didn’t have to defeat the foe or drive them from their soil. All they really had to do was outlast the Northern public’s thirst for war. Most certainly, they didn’t have to invade the North. However, such a move could come in quite handy. Such a move could also stir up controversy. The South’s rallying cry was one to defend their hearths and firesides from the Yankee aggressors. By crossing over into states still officially loyal to the Union, things became less clear. To shed some illumination and certainty over the situation, Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to each of his invading commanders. Generals Robert E. Lee, Braxton Bragg and Kirby Smith were each to issue proclamations to the people of Maryland or Kentucky, depending. Davis was very specific about what needed to be said. First, he wanted to make sure that the people understood that the Confederacy was not in the business of conquest.… Read More

Two Union Armies Combined; Pope Relieved; Kentucky in Another Panic!

General Fitz John Porter: Me? We'll see...

September 5, 1862 (Friday) In Washington, as the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was crossing the Potomac River north of the city, General John Pope, commander of the Union Army of Virginia, was ready to follow. The only problem was that John Pope had not a soldier to command. Following the defeat at Second Manassas, and the retreat to the Federal capital, General George McClellan was placed in command of all troops. Technically, the order placing McClellan in command stated that it was only the troops in Washington. Both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Virginia were in Washington, and so, by that order, McClellan was in charge. But should the Army of Virginia take the field, thought Pope, it would once again revert to his own command. While this was being sorted out, Pope penned his official report of the battle, which, according to Naval Secretary Gideon Welles, read more like a manifesto than a report. In it, Pope leveled charges at McClellan, as well as Generals like Porter, Franklin, and… Read More

Confederates Advance Against Confused Yankees in Tennesse and Kentucky

Sterling Price

August 31, 1862 (Sunday) While events in the East were spiraling out of control for the Federals, things in the West were just picking up. Two Confederate forces in Eastern Tennessee had recently begun separate moves towards Kentucky. The first, under Kirby Smith, had been on campaign for over two weeks. While the other, 27,000-strong, commanded by Braxton Bragg, was just now getting started. Kirby Smith had split his 18,000 men into two commands. He left one below Cumberland Gap, commanded by 10,000 Federals under George Morgan. With the remaining 9,000, he swung around to Barboursville,above Cumberland Gap, completely cutting Morgan’s Yankees from their bases in Louisville and Nashville. Comparing himself to Cortez and Moses, Smith swiftly moved his force in the direction of Lexington, roughly 100 miles north. Through sweltering heat and scant provisions, his men made over sixty miles in three days.1 Originally, Kirby Smith and Braxton Bragg were to coordinate their forces for an attack upon Lexington. Smith was to liberate Cumberland Gap and return to Chattanooga when Bragg would begin the… Read More

As Lee Shifts and Stuart Raids, Pope Makes Up His Mind to Attack

Stuart: Dear General, let's swap duds!

August 22, 1862 (Friday) The most important part of Union General John Pope’s line along the Rappahannock was his left flank. If this were turned, it would sever his link up with General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, soon to be filing in from Fredericksburg. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about his right flank, held by General Franz Sigel’s Corps, it was just that he didn’t think the Confederates under General Lee would move against it. But on the 21st they did. In a weird side-long movement, both wings of the Rebel army sidestepped up the Rappahannock River, skirmishing as they went with Union troops defending the fords. Fortunately for Pope, Lee had some faulty information. He had received word that Beverly’s Ford [the closest crossing west of the railroad bridge - not marked on the map] was undefended. This was incredibly untrue as Stonewall Jackson shortly learned. Pope ignored whatever was happening at Beverly’s Ford and focused upon the rearguard action on his left. This was a misstep as the Confederates… Read More