Civil War Daily Gazette

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

‘Battles, Campaigns & Raids’

Washington Prepares for a Southern Visitor

Halleck is pretty much ready.

July 10, 1864 (Sunday) As Lew Wallace’s Federals retreated from the battlefield along the Monocacy River, President Lincoln ordered him to fall back not to Washington, but toward Baltimore. It was still mostly unknown whether the Rebels under Jubal Early would strike for Washington, now to their southeast, or would move, instead, upon Baltimore. General Early had certainly expected some resistance, but after the previous day’s battle, he must have felt at least some surprise to learn that among his prisoners were soldiers from the Sixth Corps, who were supposed to have been along the Petersburg front, far to the south. This gave him pause, though not for long. With news of Wallace’s defeat, General Grant offered to come personally to Washington to command its defenses. He also ordered the rest of the Sixth Corps to the city. He also gave a bit of strategic advice: “All other force, it looks to me, should be collected in rear of enemy about Edwards Ferry and follow him and cut off retreat if possible.” If Early’s force… Read More

‘The Firing Became an Unbroken Roll’ – The Battle of Monocacy

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July 9, 1864 (Saturday) Jubal Early, commanding the Rebel column that had marched down the Shenandoah Valley and crossed the Potomac River into Maryland was about to make its move on Washington. The Georgetown Pike, leading to the northern capital, crossed the Monocacy River just south of Frederick. Six miles upriver, the National Road crossed, winding its way to Baltimore. General Lew Wallace, later of Ben-Hur fame, and his small band of 2,500 troops had been all that stood between the Confederates and the limits of either city. He did not know which route, if any, Early would take, and so hedged his bets, trying to cover both. Previously, General Grant, commanding in Petersburg, had sent north two divisions of the Sixth Corps and helmed by James Ricketts. They had been ordered to pass Wallace’s command by and move to protect Harpers Ferry, but with Early’s Confederates in such proxcimity, Wallace was easily able to convince Ricketts to join him. This brought the Federal numbers to just under 6,000. The Rebels had more than twice… Read More

We Must Have More Forces Here

Today's map, taken from a drawing made by Wallace.

July 7, 1864 (Thursday) Lt. Col. David Clendenin left Frederick, Maryland with the sunrise. Leading a column of 230 mounted men, and accompanied by two pieces of artillery, they rode northwest toward Middleton, along the National Road. The day previous, rumors held that Confederate cavalry had occupied the town. Clendenin had been sent by General Lew Wallace, who had been commanding in Baltimore, but was now headquartered at Monocacy Junction, south of Frederick. Tales had abounded of as many as 30,000 Confederates storming north under Jubal Early, but the details were much less clear. Wallace believed that the Rebel cavalry was a raiding party that might attempt to cross the border into Pennsylvania. Clendenin was to sort it all out. Before he even arrived at Middletown, he met a contingient of Rebels, close in number to his own. Spurred on, he drove them back, but they were soon heavily reinforced. There was nothing he could do but retire to Braddock Heights on the south spur of Catoctin Mountain. He had followed the old road over… Read More

Jubal Early’s Raid Splinters into Absurdity

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July 6, 1864 (Wednesday) Jubal Early had given up the idea that he could capture Harpers Ferry, and had begun to file troops across the Potomac River into Maryland. Using the crossing at Shepherdstown and a pontoon bridge at Antietam Ford, three full divisions, save one brigade, were across by the end of this day. That lone brigade, under William Lewis, held back, sending forward only skirmishers into the town. This drew away the Federal eyes from Early’s other endeavors. The first division to cross onto Northern soil had been John Gordon’s, which spanned the river the day previous. Early’s initial directive was to put a scare on Washington. For this he needed speed and stealth. At this point, the Federals were still trying to figure out just how many Rebels were before them, so stealth was certainly covered. Speed would now have been useful. Rather than continue into Maryland, Early wished for the Federals atop Maryland Heights, overlooking Harpers Ferry, to be pried from their defenses. Gordon’s skirmishers moved forward, advancing on Union left,… Read More

The Damn Town is Full of Rebels! – Harpers Ferry Falls Again

If it doesn't say "Hotchkiss," it's not a true, Southern map.

July 5, 1864 (Tuesday) “The damned town is full of Rebels!” exclaimed Major Gustavus Merriam of the artillery. His battery was positioned on Maryland Heights, overlooking Harpers Ferry. The only Union troops occupying the town were cavalry under Max Weber. General Franz Sigel’s force, 5,000-strong, were still en route, but it appeared they would not make it on time. This put Weber in a desperate situation. Harpers Ferry contained large quantities of Federal stores. Just after noon, Chief of Staff Henry Halleck demanded that “everything should be prepared for a defense of your works and the first man who proposes a surrender or retreat should be hung.” The message wouldn’t reach the Federals at Harpers Ferry until the following day. The Rebel line came over Bolivar Heights, opposite the Federal position, with the town sandwiched between. Weber’s skirmishers retreated to an inner line of defenses, and the Rebels stopped. General Jubal Early, commanding this Confederate column, concluded “it was not possible to occupy the town of Harpers Ferry, except with skirmishers, as it was thoroughly… Read More

A General Abandonment of the Road

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July 3, 1864 (Sunday) By July 2nd, Jubal Early and his Army of the Valley had reached Winchester, Virginia. There, he received further orders from General Lee, whose own army was now besieged at Petersburg. Early was to remain in the lower (northern portion) of the Shenandoah Valley “until everything was in readiness to cross the Potomac and destroy the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal as far as possible.” This suited Early well, as he was planning on doing that anyway. The B & O Railroad specifically was on his mind. Prior to leaving Lynchburg and Stuanton, his force had driven away the Federal column under David Hunter. The Union troops had fled far into West Virginia – so far, in fact, that if they had any plans upon returning, they would have to do so by rail. And if the railroad was gutted, there was little they could do. The next day, Early planned to capture the two main Federal garrisons at Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry, under the overall… Read More

Sherman and Johnston Both Leave Kennesaw

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July 2, 1864 (Saturday) It was a day of preparation and an evening of movement as Sherman’s armies readied themselves to swing around the Confederate left at Kennesaw Mountain. But the first marching began before dawn. A division from James McPherson’s Army of the Tennessee stepped off, descending south and groping for the Chattahoochee River. Earlier, the Army of the Ohio, under the banner of John Schofield, had made this same march, planting themselves four miles south of the Confederate left. From all supposition, the enemy could not afford to detach enough troops to drive away Schofield’s host without fully abandoning their embattlements upon Kennesaw. To accompany this swing, Sherman had ordered diversions all across his lines, hoping to distract the Rebels, and praying they would not take notice of what was transpiring along the Federal right. Meanwhile, the Federal cavalry probed toward the river, finally crossing near Sandtown, several miles downriver from the main railroad crossing, and the Confederate line of supply. Most of Sherman’s armies, however, would wait until dark to move. The,… Read More

Johnston Grows Weirdly Optimistic

Indecision has my stamp of approval!

July 1, 1864 (Friday) There were two things impeccably clear to Joe Johnston. First, William Tecumseh Sherman’s host would move along his left and outflank the Rebel position on Kennesaw Mountain. Second, he had no where near enough troops to stop him. In his heart, he knew he needed to retreat. Perhaps he could have send out small strike forces toward Federal interests, but, unlike General Lee in the east, there was no Washington DC or Harper’s Ferry to threaten. In Georgia, he was alone, with only Atlanta at his back. On this date, Confederate Senator Benjamin Hill from Georgia paid Johnston a visit. It was a strange meeting, with Johnston making little sense and vacillating wildly. As he had before, he urged Senator Hill to convince President Davis in Richmond to order Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry to play upon Sherman’s lines of supply. Of his own situation, he explains that Sherman’s army is entrenched and impossible to assail with any hope of victory. Sherman’s army was also so large that it was now wrapping… Read More

No Doubt He is Outnumbered – Richmond Losing Patience with Johnston (Again)

Johnston in profile.

June 29, 1864 (Wednesday) Joe Johnston’s success at Kennesaw Mountain might have been more accurately described as “not a defeat.” While Sherman’s Federals were beaten back with much slaughter, the situation before him was no different than it had been before. He had too few soldiers to man the extended entrenchments, and by all accounts forwarded to him, the Yankees were slowly flowing south, around his left flank. The enemy was now closer to the Chattahoochee River than his own troops. This didn’t exactly mean that the Federals were closer to Atlanta than the army that was protecting it, but if left unchecked that could very well have been the case. Johnston wasn’t helping his case in the least. To some, he boasted that Sherman was losing so many troops that once crossing the Chattahooche, the Federal numbers would have so dwindled that they could not attack Atlanta. In his estimation, Sherman’s forces numbered 75,000 men, having ushered 25,000 of their own to hospitals or death’s door. Johnston, at this time, had about 50,000. To… Read More

Jubal Early Steps Off!

Keep up the buff work, Breck!

June 28, 1864 (Tuesday) Confederate General Jubal Early had disposed of the Federal force under David Hunter, which was now scurrying west through the Kanawah Valley of West Virginia. Early had received notice from General Lee to forget about Hunter and focus on either moving north to threaten Washington or to rejoin the Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg. Early, once a protege of Stonewall Jackson, chose the former. By the 26th of June, he was in Staunton, gathering provisions and supplies for the march north. There, he sorted his artillery, leaving behind both horses and guns deemed unfit for service. There were 2,000 mounted men, and 10,000 foot soldiers. The cavalry was more or less fit, but fully half of the infantry lacked shoes. General Lee began to question the logic of sending Early on this mission. He was now more or less besieged before Petersburg and could certainly use the 10,000 extra bodies to line myriad embattlements. But Early reassured him that all would be well; that the first instinct was the better.… Read More