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The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865
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Author:  nsimms [ Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 16, 1865 Monday
Francis Preston Blair, Sr reported to President Lincoln on his Jan 12 talk with President Davis in Richmond. Blair showed President Lincoln the Confederate leader’s letter in which Davis spoke of negotiations between the two nations. The elderly politician told Lincoln in detail of his conversation with Davis and submitted a lengthy report in which he outlined the plan for peace, coupled with the conquest of Mexico. In a few days President Lincoln was in effect to turn down such a plan as it did not involve “one common country.” Blair returned to Richmond, but nothing more came of his effort.

At Fort Fisher, North Carolina in the wake of the successful conquest by the Federals, the main magazine accidentally exploded, perhaps caused by intoxicated soldiers, sailors, and marines discharging firearms and looting the fort. Some 25 were killed, 66 wounded, and 13 missing for 104 casualties. Meanwhile, Fort Caswell, North Carolina and defensive positions at Smithville and Reeves’ Point were blown up and abandoned by Confederates. Elsewhere, there were operations until Jan 22 about Waynesville, Missouri; a Union expedition from Brashear City to Whisky Bayou, Louisiana; and Federal scouting until mid-February about Franklin, Tennessee.

President Davis, informed of the fall of Fort Fisher, urged Gen Bragg at Wilmington to retake it if possible. By a vote of 14 to 2 the Confederate Senate passed a resolution that it was the judgment of Congress that Gen Robert E. Lee should be assigned General-in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederacy and that Beauregard should command the army in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and J.E. Johnston the Army of Tennessee. Many had long favored the move.

Author:  nsimms [ Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 17, 1865 Tuesday
Sherman’s army was about ready to move northward from the Savannah area, although rain and high water in the rivers delayed their actual start. News of the Union victory at Fort Fisher spread throughout the nations. At Richmond and Petersburg the siege went on. Confederates desperately tried to find enough troops to defend all the major threatened points, but it was impossible. The Federals slowly but steadily increased the pressure.

President Davis told South Carolina Gov A.G. Magrath at Charleston, “I am fully alive to the importance of successful resistance to Sherman’s advance, and have called on the Governor of Georgia to give all the aid he can furnish.”

Two armed boats from U.S.S. Honeysuckle, commanded by Acting Master James J. Russell, captured the British schooner Augusta at the mouth of the Suwannee River as she attempted to run the blockade with cargo of pig lead, flour, gunny cloth and coffee.

Confederate steamers Granite City and Wave (ex-U.S. Navy ships, see 6 May 1864) eluded blockading ship U.S.S. Chocura, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Richard W. Meade, Jr., on a "dark, foggy, and rainy" night and escaped from Calcasieu Pass, Louisiana. Granite City was reported to carry no cargo but Wave had a load of lumber for the Rio Grande.

Author:  nsimms [ Sat Jan 17, 2015 4:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 18, 1865 Wednesday
Gen Sherman transferred command of Savannah and area to Maj Gen Foster and the Department of the South. Action included a small affair near Lovettsville, Virginia; a skirmish at Clarksville, Arkansas; a two-day Union expedition from Napoleonville to Grand River, Louisiana; and a five-day Federal scout from Warrensburg to the Snibar Hills, Missouri.

Once more President Lincoln talked with Francis P. Blair, Sr on his mission to Richmond and gave him a letter saying Blair might tell Mr Davis “that I have constantly been, am now, and shall continue, ready to receive any agent whom he, or any other influential person now resisting the national authority, may informally send to me, with the view of securing peace to the people of our one common country.” Thus the difference – for Lincoln “one common country” and for Davis two separate countries. In Richmond President Davis was still beating the bushes for troops to oppose Sherman and again urged Gen Lee to extend his command to include that of all the armies of the Confederacy, plus the immediate command of the Army of Northern Virginia.

J. B. Jones, a clerk in the Confederate War Department, wrote in his diary: "No war news. But blockade-running at Wilmington has ceased; and common calico, now at $25 per yard, will soon be $50. . . . Flour is $1250 per barrel, to-day." Only five days before he had recorded: .. Beef (what little there is in market) sells to-day at $6 per pound; meal, $80 per bushel; white beans, $5 per quart, or $160 per bushel." These figures bore eloquent witness to the decisive role played by Federal seapower in the collapse of the Confederacy. A giant amphibious assault had closed Wilmington, General Lee's last hope for sufficient supplies to sustain his soldiers. Control of the Mississippi River and the western tributaries by omnipresent Union warships, coupled with the destruction of the South's weak railway system, prevented the transfer of men and supplies to strengthen the crumbling military situation in the East. Thus, blockade of the coasts and continuing attack from afloat as well as on land surrounded and divided the South and hastened its economic, financial, and psychological deterioration. Just as civilians lived in deep privation, so, too, were the armies of the Confederacy gravely weakened from a shortage of munitions, equipment, clothing, and food.

Author:  nsimms [ Sun Jan 18, 2015 9:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 19, 1865 Thursday
Gen Sherman issued orders for his army to get under way in its new march from the area of Savannah, Georgia northward into South Carolina. The troops did not start off simultaneously, but on this day movement of some segments began. Their goal was Goldsborough, North Carolina by about March 15. The attitude of the army marching into South Carolina was changed. The men felt much more vindictive toward South Carolina than they had toward Georgia. To the army, South Carolina had been the birthplace of the rebellion. President Davis, Genls Hardee, Beauregard, and others continued their desperate struggle to recruit men to oppose Sherman, but without success. The bottom of the barrel had been scraped, and there were still too few men to stop Sherman’s two-pronged drive toward Columbia, South Carolina.

A skirmish occurred at Corinth, Mississippi; and there was a Federal reconnaissance around Myrtle Sound, North Carolina; Federal scouting from Donaldsonville, Louisiana; and a four-day Union expedition from Memphis, Tennessee to Marion, Arkansas.

President Lincoln inquired of Gen Grant as a friend whether there was a place in Grant’s military family for his son Robert. The young man was soon appointed captain and assistant adjutant general on Grant’s staff ( ... oln8%3A472 ).

Gen Lee rather reluctantly told President Davis he would “undertake any service to which you think proper to assign me,” but he felt, if named General-in-Chief, “I must state that with the addition of the immediate command of this army I do not think I could accomplish any good.” He added, “If I had the ability I would not have the time.” However, pressure continued on Davis to appoint Lee.

Blockade runner Chameleon (formerly C.S.S. Tallahassee), Lieutenant John Wilkinson, put to sea from Bermuda loaded to the rails with commissary stores and provisions for General Lee's hardpressed, ill supplied army. Wilkinson had departed Cape Fear on this special blockade running mission on 24 December 1864 in the aftermath of the first Fort Fisher campaign. Upon his return, he successfully ran the blockade (as he had done on 21 separate occasions during 1863 with Robert E. Lee) and had entered the harbor before learning that Union forces had captured Fort Fisher during his absence. Chameleon reversed course and safely dashed to sea. Wilkinson later said that he had been able to escape only because of the ship's twin screws, which "enabled our steamer to turn as if on a pivot in the narrow channel between the bar and the rip." After an unsuccessful attempt to enter Charleston and in the absence of orders from Secretary Mallory, Wilkinson took Chameleon to Liverpool and turned the ship over to Commander Bulloch, the Confederate naval agent. Ironically, he arrived on 9 April, the same day that Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox.

Author:  nsimms [ Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 20, 1865 Friday
As the four Federal corps under Sherman, plus Kilpatrick’s cavalry, got under way or prepared to move into South Carolina against very light opposition, there was a reconnaissance from Pocotaligo to the Salkehatchie River, South Carolina. Slocum’s left wing was held up by heavy rain at Savannah. All troops would not be in motion until Feb 1, Sherman later reported, but preliminary movements were now well advanced. In Kansas, at Point of Rocks or Nine Mile Bridge near Fort Larned, there was a skirmish.

Sec of War Stanton reported to President Lincoln on his visit to Savannah and Fort Fisher. William McComb, CSA, is appointed to Brigadier General.

Blockade runners Stag and Charlotte, unaware that Fort Fisher and the works at Cape Fear had fallen, anchored in the harbor at Smithville near U.S.S. Malvern, flagship of Rear Admiral Porter, and were captured. Porter wrote: "I intrusted this duty to Lieutenant [Commander] Cushing, who performed it with his usual good luck and intelligence. They are very fast vessels and valuable prizes." Stag was commanded by Lieutenant Richard H. Gayle, CSN, who had previously been captured while commanding blockade runner Cornubia.

Author:  nsimms [ Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 21, 1865 Saturday
Federal troops carried out a two-day expedition from Brashear City to Bayou Sorrel, Louisiana. Gen Sherman embarked with his entire headquarters from Savannah for Beaufort, South Carolina pausing at Hilton Head. Sherman had tried to give out that his army was heading for Charleston or Augusta rather than Columbia. For the rest of the month Sherman reconnoitered in person and visited various units. General Grant arrives in Washington for brief meeting with the President, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, and General Philip E. Sheridan before returning to City Point, Virginia.

U.S.S. Penguin, commanded by Acting Lieutenant James R. Beers, chased steamer Granite City ashore off Velasco, Texas. The blockade runner was under the protection of Confederate shore batteries. Beers reported that, since he was "of the opinion that the steamer could not be got off, and would eventually go to pieces, as there was a heavy sea rolling in and continually breaking over her, I did not think it was prudent to remain longer under the enemy's fire, as their guns were of longer range than ours."

Author:  nsimms [ Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 22, 1865 Sunday
Fighting again tapered off, with a skirmish on the Benton Road, near Little Rock, Arkansas and a Federal expedition for Little Rock to Mount Elba, Arkansas until Feb 4. Gen Sherman and his staff were en route from Savannah to Beaufort, South Carolina. A boat expedition from U.S.S. Chocura, commanded by Lieutenant Commander R. W. Meade, Jr., captured blockade running schooner Delphina by boarding in Calcasieu River, Louisiana. Delphina was carrying a cargo of cotton.

The steamer Ajax, with Lieutenant John Low, CSN, on board as a "passenger", put out of Dublin, Ireland, for Nassau. Ajax had been built for the Confederacy in Dumbarton, Scotland, for use in harbor defense. She had been detained in Dublin for more than a week because the U.S. Consul there suspected that the light-draft vessel was bound for the South. However, two inspections failed to substantiate this belief and the 340 ton would-be gunboat was released. Nevertheless, Charles F. Adams, the American Ambassador in England, and Secretary of State Seward prevailed upon British Foreign Minister Earl Russell to prevent the armament of Ajax in Halifax, Bermuda, or Nassau.

Author:  nsimms [ Thu Jan 22, 2015 9:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 23, 1865 Monday
President Davis signed an act providing for appointment of a General-in-Chief of Confederate Armies. Congress obviously had Lee in mind. Confederate Lieut Gen Richard Taylor assumed command of the Army of Tennessee (now reduced to about 17,700 men) after the resignation of John Bell Hood, so disastrously beaten at Nashville. However, Taylor would soon have little to command except a large area, as a main force of the Army of Tennessee was sent east to the Carolinas to try to halt Sherman. Even so, due to dissipation, desertion, and other causes, only about 5000 reached Johnston, according to that general. A Federal scout operated until Jan 27 from Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. A skirmish broke out at Thompson’s Plantation, Louisiana.

Flag Officer Mitchell's James River Squadron launched its downstream assault with high hopes in Richmond that victory afloat would turn the tide ashore. The Union squadron defending the lower James and City Point had been greatly reduced for the Fort Fisher-Wilmington operations. It now included only one monitor, the double-turreted Onondaga. She and the ten gunboats withdrew upon the approach of Mitchell's formidable force. Commodore W. A. Parker explained that he moved downstream "because I thought there would be more room to maneuver the vessel and to avoid the batteries bearing on Dutch Gap." The eleven ship Confederate squadron was built around the three heaviest ironclads now in the Southern Navy: C.S.S. Richmond, Commander John McIntosh Kell, Virginia No. 2, Lieutenant John W. Dunnington, and Fredericksburg, commanded by Lieutenant Francis E. Shepperd. The serious Confederate thrust, however, was turned back when both Virginia No. 2 and Richmond ran aground while passing the obstructions at Trent's Reach and were brought under heavy fire from the Union shore batteries. Gunboat Drewry, commanded by Lieutenant William H. Wall, and torpedo boat Scorpion, commanded by Lieutenant Edward Lakin, also went aground. Drewry was shattered by an explosion resulting from a mortar shell penetrating her magazine, and Scorpion, thought to be damaged by that nearby explosion, was abandoned. Onondaga, flagship of Parker's squadron, returned to Trent's Reach the following morning and took the stranded Confederate ironclads under fire. Her 15-inch Dahlgren guns spoke with devastating effect, and the damaged Virginia No. 2 and Richmond withdrew upriver as soon as they were refloated.

Although Parker was severely criticized for failing to engage the Confederates at once, the war's last battle of ironclads ended favorably for the North. Grant's supply lines remained unbroken and he could move inexorably toward Richmond. Control of the James and Potomac Rivers was of inestimable value to the North. Had they been in the hands of the South, the campaigns of McClellan and Grant could not have been undertaken.

U.S.S. Fox, commanded by Acting Master Francis Burgess, seized British schooner Fannie McRae near the mouth of the Warrior River, Florida, where she was preparing to run the blockade.

Author:  nsimms [ Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 24, 1865 Tuesday
The Congress of the Confederate States offered again to exchange prisoners with the Federals. This time Gen Grant accepted. His previous refusal to exchange prisoners had been intended to cut down further on Southern manpower. Nathan Bedford Forrest assumed command of the Confederate District of Mississippi, East Louisiana, and West Tennessee. There were skirmishes at Fayetteville, Arkansas; Bayou Goula, Louisiana; and a Federal expedition from Cape Girardeau, Missouri to Eleven Points River, Arkansas.

President Lincoln writes to Vice President-elect Andrew Johnson regarding the necessity of Johnson's presence in Washington, D. C. for the March 4 inaugural. Johnson, who is the Military Governor of Tennessee, wishes to remain in Tennessee until April 3, when the state will formally re-enter the Union. Lincoln replies that he has consulted with "[s]everal members of the Cabinet," and "it is our unanamous conclusion that it is unsafe for you to not be here on the fourth of March. Be sure to reach here by that time."

At mid-morning, C.S.S. Stonewall, commanded by Captain T. J. Page, put into Quiberon Bay to rendezvous with blockade runner City of Richmond. The two ships remained there until 28 January when Stonewall, still short of coal but unable to obtain more, "considered it prudent to sail." City of Richmond remained in company with the ironclad, but by the morning of the 30th had become separated by five miles because of heavy weather. Page signaled Commander Davidson on board City of Richmond that he was short of coal and would put into Ferrol, Spain. Davidson deemed it wiser not to follow Stonewall and signaled "Adieu". Page replied, "Many thanks. Adieu." The runner then continued toward Bermuda, while the ironclad sailed for Ferrol.

Author:  nsimms [ Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 25, 1865 Wednesday
Confederate cruiser Shenandoah reached Melbourne, Australia, and later left for the northern Pacific to plague Federal fishing and whaling fleets. There was a reconnaissance by Sherman’s men from Pocotaligo to the Salkehatchie River, South Carolina “to amuse the enemy,” as Sherman put it. Skirmishing flared near Powhatan, Virginia and near Simpsonville, Shelby County, Kentucky. A Union expedition moved from Irish Bottom to Evans’ Island, Tennessee.

Shortly after dawn, a boarding party from U.S.S. Tristram Shandy, commanded by Acting Lieutenant Francis M. Green, seized blockade running steamer Blenheim just inside the bar at New Inlet, North Carolina. Blenheim had run into the approach to Wilmington unaware that Federal forces now controlled the area and anchored off the Mound battery. "At the time of boarding," Green reported, "they were endeavoring to get the vessel underway." Blenheim was the third prize to be lured into Union hands by the Confederate range lights at the Mound which Rear Admiral Porter had kept burning.

Author:  nsimms [ Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 26, 1865 Thursday
Scouting increased by Federals – until the thirty-first from Pine Bluff toward Camden and Monticello, Arkansas; until Feb 4 from Plaquemine to The Park, Louisiana; and Memphis into southeast Arkansas and northeastern Louisiana until Feb 11. Skirmishing occurred near Pocotaligo, South Carolina and Paint Rock, Alabama. Sherman continued to threaten Charleston although he did not have any intention of attacking it, but it was a useful means of diverting the enemy.

U.S.S. Dai Ching, commanded by Lieutenant Commander James C. Chaplin, operating. on the right flank of General W. T. Sherman's army in the Combahee River, ran aground while engaging Confederate batteries. After a 7 hour battle, and only after all her guns were out of operation, Dai Ching was abandoned and fired by her crew. The tug U.S.S. Clover, commanded by Acting Ensign Franklin S. Leach, which had been in company with Dai Ching, captured blockade running schooner Coquette with cargo of cotton.

Author:  nsimms [ Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 27, 1865 Friday
Minor military activities continued at Ennis’ Cross Roads, South Carolina. Elsewhere, skirmishing erupted at Eldrod’s Tanyard in DeKalb County, Alabama and a Union expedition operated from Fort Pinney to Kimball’s Plantation, Arkansas. Gen Lee pointed out again to Richmond the “alarming frequency of desertion from this army.” He also said the “ration is too small for men who have to undergo so much exposure and labor as ours.” He believed the Commissary Department could do a better job. Thomas John Wood, USA, is appointed to Major General and Charles Camp Doolittle, USA, to Brigadier General.

Author:  nsimms [ Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 28, 1865 Saturday
President Jefferson Davis named three commissioners to hold informal talks with Federal authorities. This came about as a result of the visits of Francis Preston Blair, Sr to Richmond and the other efforts looking toward a possible peace. The Southern commissioners were Vice-President Alexander Stephens, R.M.T. Hunter of Virginia, and former U.S. Supreme Court justice John A. Campbell. Sec of War Seddon recommended to Davis that Gen Lee be appointed General-in-Chief of all Confederate armies under the act of Congress approved Jan 23.

In South Carolina a skirmish took place on the Combahee River on Sherman’s front. Operations against Indians were carried out by Federals until Feb 9 on the upper Arkansas River, Kansas; Union scouts probed from Bayou Goula to Grand River, Louisiana until Feb 7; and an expedition until the thirty-first moved from Strawberry Plains to Clinch Mountain, Tennessee.

Confederate torpedo boat St. Patrick, commanded by Lieutenant John T. Walker, struck U.S.S. Octorara, commanded by Lieutenant Commander William W. Low, off Mobile Bay but her spar torpedo failed to explode. Although attacked by ship guns and small arms, Walker was able to bring St. Patrick safely back under the Mobile batteries.

Author:  nsimms [ Wed Jan 28, 2015 9:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 29, 1865 Sunday
Skirmishes at Robertsville, South Carolina; and near Harrodsburg, Kentucky marked the day. There was an affair at Danville, Kentucky. There was considerable interest in just where and how Sherman would move when he got rolling in South Carolina, and whether there really was any hope for the proposed conference between Federal and Confederate officials.

Author:  nsimms [ Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The American Civil War, Day by Day 1865

January 30, 1865 Monday
President Lincoln issued a pass for the three Confederate commissioners to go through U.S. military lines to Fort Monroe. Skirmishing broke out in La Fayette County, Missouri; near Lawtonville, South Carolina; and at Chaplintown, Kentucky. There was a scout to Long Bridge and Bottom’s Bridge, north of the James River in Virginia; as well as an expedition from Thibodeaux to Lake Verrett and Bayou Planton, Louisiana; both Union. Maj Gen John Pope ( ... ry_officer) ) was assigned to command of the new Military Division of the Missouri, consisting of the combined Missouri and Kansas areas.

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